Notes from Henry V Workshop

On Monday night we held the long-awaited workshop based around Henry V.

We were enjoying it so much that I forgot to take any photos until nearly the end!

You can click belowClick to enlarge to read the full notes.

Thanks again to Jonathan for lending us the Lantern Room at St Thomas’s church on the Bourne, and thanks especially to Abigail McKern for bringing Henry to life with her readings from the play.

Brief Meeting Notes:

Shakespeare’s Henry V tells the story of how the English came to fight and win the battle of Agincourt. But the reason that the play resonates for us is because the story is also a metaphor — a metaphor for the story of St George and the Dragon, a tale about the human struggle to overcome our ‘dragons’ and win what is important to us.

The Transition Network recently held a workshop in Totnes that was run by Richard Olivier (son of Laurence). The workshop looked at leadership lessons which can be learned from the story of Henry V. And in our short extract on Monday evening we focused on understanding the different roles or archetypes which are needed to succeed in any endeavour.

We started the evening with a quick run-through of the play.

Click to enlargeAct I begins with Henry planning to invade France, creating an inspiring vision, but also making sure that his intention is a good and just cause.

In Act II he shows another trait as he works to gain political support, and put plans and resources in place to achieve his goals.

In Act III he takes the first steps — sails to France — but then encounters his first setbacks. Beseiging the town of Harfleur his siege engines sink in the mud, the tunnels they dig beneath the walls fill with water, and half his troops are either killed or catch dysentery. He needs to be able to rally and motivate the troops with his famous speech, “Once more unto the breach.”

They capture the town but are forced to retreat to Calais for the winter. After marching north for 250 miles they find themselves trapped and surrounded by a much larger force. The night before the battle of Agincourt Henry faces his deepest test yet — the “long dark night of the soul” — in which he again questions whether he has the right to ask his men to fight, and lays out a clear, compelling vision of what they are fighting for and why.

As every schoolboy knows, the English longbows won the day and Henry was triumphant. Hollywood would end the story here. But Shakespeare adds another whole act before the tale is done. He shows another side to the king as Henry woos and wins the hand of the the French king’s daughter in order to settle the peace.

These five acts show four differentClick to enlarge personality ‘archetypes’ which are a mix of masculine and feminine, passive and active.

The passive masculine is about planning and structure, and is known as the ‘Good King’.

The active feminine is about innovation, creativity and ideas. It is known as the ‘Medicine Woman’.

The passive feminine is about nurturing, and is known as the ‘Great Mother’.

The active masculine is about action and getting things done. It is known as the ‘Warrior’.

Any project needs to naturally flow between these four stages> We spent the rest of the evening also moving between activities that gave us an experience of what these four behaviours are like.

We experienced what we liked about each type of activity, as well as what we did not like about each one, if it was taken to excess.

We also talked briefly about what the implications are for how we move forward and what we do next.

Good King – Positive Aspects

  • I like guiding
  • I like thinking
  • I like strategising
  • Likes the personal space
  • Visionary position is a good place to be
  • Shepherding the group to a great decision

Good King – Negative Aspects (‘Bitter old man’)Click to enlarge

  • Stifles innovation
  • Talking shop
  • Theorising
  • Intellectualising
  • Narrow – creates boundaries
  • Perfectionist, dogmatic managerialism
  • Stifling
  • Structured tyrant
  • Rules, rigid, control
  • No action
  • Critical, judgemental
  • Disabling, disempowering
  • Inflexible thinking
  • The wrong kind of enlightenment – “too bright”
  • Overwhelming
  • Aware that we can fall victim to this
  • Need to develop mitigation strategies
  • Detect & keep it in check
  • Need “corrective subversion”
  • “plan to dissolve the group”

Medicine Woman – Positive Aspects

  • Change
  • Individuality
  • Getting on without bureaucracy
  • Power to do
  • Natural selection
  • Serious -> FUN
  • Helps inspire confidence
  • Exploring
  • Enthusiasm
  • Creates energy
  • Fun, Creative, Colourful
  • Finding different ways to express ideas
  • Generalistic mind-set
  • Networking is energy
  • Making the connections
  • Part of personal journey / path

Medicine Woman – Negative Aspects (‘Mad woman’)Click to enlarge

  • Reinventing wheels!
  • Creativity gets too selfish!
  • Too much generality, not enough specificity

Great Mother – Positive Aspects

  • Bedrock, safe space to recharge, to be encouraged
  • Share discouragements, to gathering
  • Feeding, being together
  • Be a barometer for group energy, dynamics
  • As individuals: building community grounds being
  • Feels important
  • Feels warm and pleasurable to come together

Great Mother – Negative Aspects (‘Stifling Mother’)

  • Smothering sameness
  • Avoidance

So need to:

  • Vomit
  • Expel
  • Wake up!
  • Purge
  • Eject

Warrior – Positive Aspects:

  • Dynamic
  • Gets stuff done
  • Positive Results
  • Stimulating
  • Enjoyable
  • Active
  • Energetic
  • Fun
  • External-facing
  • Social
  • Physical
  • TTF Positive Action
  • Action = results -> generates energy -> builds sandcastles = show not tell
  • INSPIRING
  • Making it happen
  • FUN
  • NOW – not in the future
  • Energy – pass it on!!
  • Gets things done
  • Conclusions!

Warrior – Negative aspects: ‘(Mercenary’, ‘Tyrant’)

  • People get hurt
  • The more aggressive win, over the less aggressive
  • Confrontation breeds confrontation
  • Frighten people off
  • Intimidating
  • The adrenalin created becomes an end in itself, rather than a means to an end
  • Too caught up in the moment/excitement so lose track of the goals
  • People get exhausted – over-energised, leads to disillusionment
  • Alienating to others
  • Leads to unhealthy competition
  • Winner/loser – divisive instead of community-building

ONE Top Objective for 1 Year’s Time:

“Awareness, communications, publicity – “Have ‘Farnham-Transition Town'” road signs at every entrance to the town.”

“Community awareness, building relationships, COMMUNICATION: people aware & understand Transition as something fun & exciting, achieving what we set out to, as a set of subgroups doing not talking, with at least one event that has engaged a quarter of Farnham really wanting to do more.”

Top Priorities for now:

These were creatively/artistically expressed in the ‘Medicine Woman’ space, but were not captured/recorded.

What Do We Need To Do Next:

  • Good King -> need plan -> Action
  • Need nurturing
  • Need action
  • Need all four stages at once
  • Danger: running amok
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One Response to Notes from Henry V Workshop

  1. paula burgess says:

    Wow! I am so gutted that I missed this guys….. I have spent the last 10 minutes trying to figure out which ‘type’ I am…..it soulnds like it was a lot of fun!

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