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Mid-year Musing #2: Listen louder

listening musing Jul 22, 2019

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...

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Mid-year Musing #1: Be master of the small

mastery musing Jul 16, 2019

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...

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An angel on each shoulder

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...

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Evgeny Dotsenko explains the Russian words “Sobytie” and “Razdelit”

Uncategorized Apr 10, 2019

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.

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Imagining 2019

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...

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Surfing the 3 Waves of Story (Part 3)

Here is Part 3 of my new book chapter on the six perspectives and three waves of story.  Find Part 1 here, and Part 2 here.

Story as a Resonance Tuner & as the Art of Practicing Humanity

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...

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Surfing the 3 Waves of Story (Part 2)

Story as a Learning Practice & Process Partner

The human mind is organised around stories.  We capture our experiences and make sense of the world through the stories that form our lens on reality.  Since our knowledge is captured in story form, it makes sense to use stories as one of the fastest mediums for organisational and group learning.  With these applications, story can move from an influences to a game changer.

The next two perspectives are:

  • Story as a learning practice
  • Story as a process partner

Story can form the basis of a systemic learning practice in these ways:

  • As an organisational currency
  • As a medium for learning in various configurations
  • As a knowledge management tool
  • For making collective sense and meaning
  • Creating connections and learning pathways

Whether you know it or not, story already is your organisational currency.  The stories people share about the organisation, their experience of it, the products or...

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Surfing the 3 Waves of Story (Part 1)

This is my rewrite of a series of blogposts from 2017, formulated into a chapter for a new book being published in 2019.  It comes in three parts, covering six perspectives I’m working with on the power of stories and what colleagues David Hutchens, David Drake and I call “The Three Waves” of story. Given the current backdrop of politics, conflict and polarised opinion, it feels to me that the waves are ringing truer than when we first spoke of them years ago. A warning for readers — these will be meaty posts, but well worth the effort!  Find Part 2 here and Part 3 here.

Story is the New Black

These days we call everyone a storyteller – our authors, songwriters, business leaders, activists, celebrities, social media stars – even our politicians.  Over the past decade especially, storytelling has gained ground not only as a marketing and communications tool, but also as a leadership imperative. Leaders are flocking to learn how...

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Unpacking the privilege of the dominant narrative

It was really only about three weeks ago that I finally learned how to spell the word privilege.  It may take me much, much longer to really unpack the privilege I have.  And it wasn't that I was unaware that I had any, but that my life and work are bringing me new ways to shine a light on what that looks like and how it behaves.  And much of it has to do with the invisible dominant social narrative that demonstrates itself every day in ways so many of us who are part of it are blind to.

Last week I spent five days steeping in an intense conversation about race, power and privilege. We on the hosting team invited participants into what we called a "shaky sanctuary". We told them that discomfort doesn't mean you are unsafe, it means you are learning. It would be fair to say I am still recovering. And I've been distilling what I learned.

Over a lifetime of journeying around the world, I've bumped up against the edges of the dominant narrative many times.  Here are...

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The Nahuatl word “apapachar” -- a truly Latin embrace

stories in a word May 19, 2018

Have you ever felt embraced by a person or a place?  I have that sense about Aotearoa/New Zealand, a place I came to originally in 1983 and spent almost 30 years discovering.  I feel a deep connection to this land and she has a great sense of aliveness for me.  I call her "she" because in Maori tradition, Papatuanuku is the name of the Earth Mother.  The longer I spent living on her hills and under the starry skies of the South Pacific, the more I sensed that she chose the people who would come to explore her and those who could stay. One of those transplants is my friend Jaqueline Benndorf  -- originally from Uruguay -- who is both a skilled counsellor and an artist.  She creates embracing environments, so her story in a word came as no surprise -- apapachar.

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