Posted by & filed under Continuing Conversations.

In Thinking aloud about Holacracy of One roles – part 3 – the collaborator’s list my Whole Self (WS) was looking at the list that Role 2 had prepared. It was long. The conversation finished with W S saying:

Hmm.  I’m not at all sure I can allow all those. You’re not the only Role in my life you know. I think Caregiver will have something to say if I agree to support all that you want to do.

And I did say that I want to try for four roles this time around, like George has.

We’ll have to come back to this list and knock it into better shape. Try and have a think about it before we meet again.Meanwhile – I think we deserve a break. Time for another cuppa.

While I was out in the kitchen getting the cuppa who did I bump into but Care-giver (CG), who asked how I was getting on.

She suggested taking a break together, so here we are sitting down with a cuppa and having a chat:

CG – So how’s it going?

WS – You tell me!

You’re the one who is supposed to have the sensible, balanced, approach – the one who provides the “tea and sympathy” and generally keeps things tidy and healthy and sane around here.

I nearly got you properly written up when I was doing roles the first time around, back in 2105.  I’ve mentioned your purpose once already today: “Care-giver” a catch-all role that covers my personal-and-private life and also spills over into my Working-and-public life.

I even got as far as filling in a couple of “Accountabilities” for you:

  • Decluttering and reorganising my home to reflect and allow changing use
  • Giving careful attention in various ways depending on person/people involved

And I started on the “Projects (Fields of Exploration):

  • Home
  • Various personal relationships
  • Personal development and nurturing

You seemed so valuable that I reinstated you without even thinking about it. I didn’t even call you in for interview.

CG – Hmm!

” ‘Twas ever thus.”

WS – Okay. You got me there. I admit I do tend to sideline you.


You know the history of that quote… and, although it’s very different now to how it was back then it still hits home on so many levels…

Back then…

All those heart-wrenching, heaven-knows-how-we-manage-things-this-time, conversations over a cuppa with my next- door neighbour…

That’s along time ago. Two young mums with tough challenges to cope with..

It’s sobering to stop and realise just how hard things were then, and how the challenges have changed.

It’s easier now in many ways… so many differences and yet so much the same…

Here I am, down to the final third of the cup of tea and … out pops the quote from you, and it hits me like a completely fresh revelation. It always did. You’re right – ’twas ever thus – and on so many different levels.

What is it about getting to that final third of the cupful? Or is it just that I habitually stop two-thirds of the way through?

That’s when “it” always happened before. Back then.. the “two thirds through” was always the point when one or other of us would  realise that the problem wasn’t unique. It had come before, and it would come again (not with exactly the same details, but with a recognisable pattern) and somehow there was strength in that realisation. Knowing that we’d been both “been here before” (and so had countless others before us)… always with a challenge that seemed as new, and unique and impossible as the present one. Yet…somehow we were still here, and the impossible challenges of the past had been met… and had faded into a general memory of “getting on with things” and working them out somehow.

There we would be together: one of us overwhelmed by a problem and pouring it all out, the other listening, asking questions…. neither knowing how to resolve things, just sharing a cuppa , either at her kitchen table or mine. Well it wasn’t a proper “cup o’ tea” cuppa with us then, it was instant coffee but even so…

Anyhow, remembering those times, and the value of that friendship…

And the pattern..

Every time, we’d get to a point where one us would suddenly realise and say the words  – ’twas ever thus!

And we’d take comfort from the realisation, and lo and behold – a third of a cupful of tepid coffee would be sitting in my cup, waiting to be drunk. So I’d quickly finish it, (and I think she was finishing hers too) and then we’d go on our separate ways to “get on with things” as best we could, with a bit more confidence, courage, and clarity.

And now, after all those years you’ve given me another ” ‘Twas ever thus” moment,  and once again it took me by surprise.

You’re right of course.

CG – In what way?

WS – ” ‘Twas ever thus”

And in this context the “ever thus” is that I know you’re valuable – but I never pay you any attention.

Actually I don’t pay much attention to me either. There’s a reason why I often remember the fridge magnet that said “Take my advice – I’m not using it!”

Let’s revisit the start of this conversation.

I said “You seemed so valuable that I reinstated you without even thinking about it. I didn’t even call you in for interview” and you said, rather pointedly ” ‘Twas ever thus”..

So then I realised that I do tend to sideline you, and maybe we should have that conversation together to work out your role.

CG – I think we both know pretty well what it is.

It won’t be as long or difficult to define as the other roles… but it would make a lot of sense to stop and consider my role again.

WS – Okay, Where do you want to start?

CG – Well.

It’s getting late, and you haven’t eaten what I’d call “a proper meal” yet today – and I would like to see you in bed and asleep before midnight for a change. What if we agree to postpone going over the details of my role for now and jump to the part of the interview that is supposed to come after that?

WS – You mean the bit where I ask you if you want to keep your role name, or if you want to change it?

CG – That bit’s easy. I’ll stick with Care Giver. Do you remember what comes after that?

WS – Erm..

Oh yes.


You’ve got me digging a hole for myself to fall in here haven’t you?

The next bit is where I agree that you have a valuable role to play in my life..

CG – And then?

WS – And then I ask you what you need from me so that you can play that role.

CG – Exactly so… and what would my answer be?

WS – Well. It would be along the lines of…

“If I’m to fulfil my role then I need to be given some time to do it” and “You need to make some space in your life for me if you want me to play a role”.

CG – Exactly.

How can I be your Care-Giver if you never take any notice of me?

We’re supposed to be a team, you and me.

No wonder you have trouble working out who else you (or is it “we”?) want to include on the team if you can’t even find time to stop and have a chat with me now and again.

WS – How do you mange to say that so calmly and unaggressively?

Were you watching that “Non-violent conflict resolution webinar over my shoulder while I was getting dressed this morning?

CG – Enough of your digressions.

What did I say about food and sleep?

WS – Okay.

So – let’s agree what we’ll do next time we sit down together.

Let’s check my diary. We can at least fix a time before we go our separate ways.

Thing is I haven’t sorted out my roles yet, and until I do that it’s really hard to set my priorities.

I thought I’d get the role thing finished today… but everything seems to take longer that I expect.

And then there are the emails I meant to do today.

And there is something else I need to follow up. Someone suggested to someone else that I could usefully help them – and I do want to help if I can.

You of all roles C-G should understand how I feel about that.

A couple of messages about it flitted across my phone screen when I was coming home on the train last week – probably last Tuesday. I tried to follow up over the weekend but I can’t find the messages. I thought I must have seen them on FaceBook, but I can’t find them anywhere. I don’t want to just ignore what was suggested – but i can’t respond. I just wish I knew where to find the conversation.

CG – You’re digressing again.

How’s this for a compromise?

No more discussion of roles just now. You come with me, and we’ll get something to eat, While we do that we can “rub minds” for a bit in a “no pressure” way, or not, as the mood takes us.

We’ve agreed my name and purpose – and you have agreed that you have to give me some time. I’ll be back to remind you of that.

Come on. I’ll help you to tidy this away…