Once at a conference, as a way of giving the table teams something to talk about, the organisers gave us a sheet to fill in. One of the questions was: What is your favourite form of transport? I wrote down hammock and the rest of the group looked at me as if I were slightly deranged. Still, the idea of resting beneath the shade of a beautiful tree, rocking gently, is somehow irresistible. Especially at the time of late summer.
It is incredibly mesmerising to watch branches sway in the wind. The leafy green and the blue of the sky seems a perfect colour combination. Being that relaxed necessitates surrender and letting the edges go fuzzy. Suddenly I am not just me the individual, but one tiny part of a much larger whole. Somehow I am the leaf, the tree and the sky all at the same time. There is a great peacefulness when I rest in this knowing.
Trees are a great role model when it comes to practicing wholeness. They appear as individuals. You can clearly see the trunk, the branches,...
When I was young, I watched a steady stream of Roadrunner cartoons. Wile E Coyote tried everything to get that roadrunner, but always found himself holding the short end of the stick, or running off the edge of the cliff. I was like that too with my own energetic pattern.
I have a very determined will and I when I can see the end of the task in sight I tend to keep going — even if it’s 3:00 in the morning! It took me a long time to learn that my will is stronger than my body. I would often work myself into tiredness, or worse, illness.
So I began to practice in my mind. I put a neon sign at the edge of the cliff with a big, flashing arrow. Time and again I would notice that arrow as I went flying by. Oops, I did it again!!! It took me a long time to sync up my mind and body and to realise that they were better together (and still colleagues will tell you that I have a great capacity for work when I’m excited about it!).
Recently while playing a Flow Game with women...
So many of us can see we are facing challenges that feel overwhelming. We feel divided from others who look different to us or have different languages and customs. We see tensions in our media and reflected on the streets. Climate change appears to be insurmountable. What can one person do?
As a human, it is easy to feel paralysed and to assume that what we do as an individual doesn’t matter. We get stuck in the past or the future, running all the “what if” scenarios on instant replay. Maybe part of this frozenness lies in forgetting that we are part of a collective and that collectives have power that begins in changing small things.
No ant, beaver or wolf believes themselves to be powerless. They simply focus on doing what they are doing in the moment. While a human can lose their head at a mere thought, an ant is capable of lifting 5,000 times its own bodyweight before it loses its head — literally. To us, what an ant can carry seems minuscule, but...
Sometimes listening is an act of patience. It can be like going to your partner’s family reunion and realising you don’t have much in common with your in-laws. Maybe you want to give up. Maybe you want to walk (or even run!) away, but instead you breathe deeply, sharpen your focus and continue listening.
If you can bring compassion to your listening and reach down into the ground of common humanity, then you can move at the pace of grace. Sometimes that listening allows all the chatter to blow away and the genuine person underneath to surface.
Let’s face it, humans are messy creatures. Therefore human relationships are messy too. It takes a lot of personal reflection to realise you have a choice in every moment. Viktor Frankl pointed to that choice so elegantly in his work “Man’s Search for Meaning“. In it he said that when every other choice is taken away, all other freedoms are gone, you still have a choice. You have the choice about how you...
Taking time out during mid-year is a wonderful practice. When you step back from the rush of your life it gives you time to see it from a new perspective. As one of my colleagues likes to say, if you stay on the dance floor and never make it to the balcony, you’ll never know who’s playing the tune.
We talk a lot about the world being a noisy place. It is interesting how we have co-created this phenomenon. We like to think the rush is exhilarating, but I’ve noticed that actually it is over-stimulating and most of us feel exhausted way down in our ground. It was a profound shock to me to move back to the United States after 35 years away and find TV screens in almost all restaurants and so many public places.
Under the guise of “ambience”, music is played loudly. Once I was in a dentist’s waiting room and asked for the music to be turned down. When they refused, I told them they could find me in the hallway when it came time for my appointment. They...
Suddenly here we are — at the midpoint of the year. If you’re in the Northern Hemisphere you might be sinking into the lazy days of summer. In the Southern Hemisphere, I’m hearing of mid-winter Christmas celebrations aimed at keeping the cold out and the fire warm.
Whatever you’re up to, now is a good time to move away from the detail you’ve been stuck in and think about the big picture. Take the eagle as your guide and rise up in your mind until you see the whole landscape of your life in front of you.
The eagle has amazing vision. From way up there on the thermals, an eagle can see everything from the patterns of the winds moving through the atmosphere to the detail of the rabbit moving through the grass. The eagle can navigate the winds of change with mastery. They know how to ride the thermals, catching a lift to higher altitudes. That means they don’t use a lot of effort, skilfully rising up in the sky. They use their effort to target a goal...
Last week I was in Moscow at the 10th Russian Faciliators Conference as one of the international guests. Although I never dreamed I would stand in Red Square, I had a fabulous time of teaching and learning in a field hungry for tools, techniques and ways to touch the heart.
In our planning, I talked to the conference organisers about calling in a practice field and how I often speak of “having an angel on each shoulder” and inviting the angels to dance.
The first one is the participant angel — really be IN this work, feel what it is like to participate, to fully engage, to dig deeper and grapple with the essence of what you’re being invited into. If we want to know what our participants are experiencing, we have to be participants ourselves. It is part of a solid practice to allow yourself to be hosted and to continue to practice being a good participant. Each of us can “host from the chair” and invite our fellow participants into deeper and more...
During the 10th Anniversary Faciliators Conference in Moscow last week I had the opportunity to work in a new language field. I actually like working with translators. Rather than tripping me up, I find that simultaneous translation makes me slow down. My expression naturally becomes more spacious and simpler. Translation enables me to get to the heart of my message.
Of course working in Russia means I was surrounded by Russian. I love learning about other languages and I learned that the Russian word for results is masculine, while the word for map is feminine. That made me ponder how you might need to take a softer approach at the beginning in order to finish strongly at the end!
The beauty of travel is learning by coming into contact with different cultures. I find each language has it speciality and its gifts. Here I’m learning about some new Russian words from a new facilitator friend.
This is traditionally the time of year when people take a pause to reflect, reset and renew. It is a time for new year’s resolutions, a time when hope springs eternal about the potential and possibility of the new.
And small wonder. In the Northern Hemisphere, December equinox marks the time of the shortest day and the longest night. It was a physical reminder of the intrinsic change of seasons, and a time when nature manifested the age old dance between darkness and light. For our ancestors, light needed to be called back, and with it, the promise of spring and a new burst of life. The way Scandinavians keep candles burning and Americans love their Christmas lights is only the most recent manifestation of a very old tradition.
Winter has always been the time we’ve told stories, dreamed by the fire, imagined the new. No wonder it is the time many of us take to vision what the new year could be like. This year I’ve been co-hosting an online event called...
In these days of social media likes, fake news and alternative facts, it’s easy to see that influence and how to wield it is top of mind for most leaders. For this reason, I see storytelling as one of the key leadership capacities — being able to tell a compelling story about an organisation’s mission, about your community’s potential, or about your own vocation, is key to creating a more potent future or even having one! There are two ways story can power your leadership edge.
Next on the list for leaders, however, needs to be StoryWork. Using stories to make collective sense and meaning builds a foundation for common ground. To get to higher ground, however, a leader...