Remembering Robert H. Simmons

simmons_portraitI’ll spend much of the three-day weekend of Martin Luther King Day saying goodbye at the memorial of my dear teacher and friend, Dr. Robert H. Simmons. Robert was a circle leader extraordinaire. While not my first circle, our “Four Strong Winds” circle went deep, held strong, spoke our truths, and did our personal homework, including reversing the scarcity model of appreciation. This social model of scarcity limits/has been learned nonverbally by/ most of us in our culture. We hold our tongues, rather than express aloud to each other the wonder, the joy at one another’s uniqueness, the celebration of our gifts and talents, and the love and respect that grows with collaboration.

We four were all leaders. In our circle – then called a support group, and following practices of Radical Therapy, based on the work of genius Eric Berne – we evolved new practices. We all rotated into shared leadership roles. We were all accountable to one another for keeping our relationships honest, open and healthy. We clarified our principles and practices of cooperative work, and asked each other to be our best. Ultimately, Robert and I founded Support Group Network to carry the circle model out into the world.

But Robert was one-of-a-kind… he delivered his recognition and appreciations like no one I had ever met before. He glowed with his joy and insights into the strengths of others. He never let an occasion pass, to say aloud how he saw you, what he valued about you, how your precious being nurtured him and enriched his life. In this way, he elicited and coaxed our gifts to be enacted. So Robert, I will carry on this gift of helping people reverse the scarcity model of appreciation. Love is not a supply-and-demand product. That sets a limit on love – as if there is not enough to go around; as if… if I love you, I won’t have enough love left for him or her. This “scarcity” curse must be reversed.

Martin Luther King repeated that love is the answer. There is never too much love; and there is plenty to go around – when we let it flow. As Paul McCartney wrote – “the love you take is equal to the love you make.” Robert knew that – he made a lot of love, and he knew how to take it, too. To love in circle, Robert!