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What comes next? Thoughts on International Women's Day

Today is International Women's Day and I find myself musing on the gifts feminine eldership and power could bring to our current disconnecting times.

My Friday morning started early with the first in a series of online calls. I've been working for myself for more than 25 years and in the online space for many years now. I'm used to seeing people in the virtual space, hosting and being part of meaningful conversations. I'm an old hand at to team meetings and planning events in this medium. I'm good at harvesting what we talk about and decide together, picking up every voice. I'm practiced at contributing to a strong sense of generative co-creation -- lifting each other to new thoughts of what might be possible. So far, business as usual. 

After the call, I found myself looking out the window to the sunny street below. Everything looked normal and inviting. But the content of our call left me looking at this scene with new eyes. We'd been talking about...

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An Organizational Powerhouse – The Four Roles of Story (Part 3)

Story is already the currency of organization. We trade stories all day, every day, no matter where we work or live. That means they are the lifeblood of every organization, determining its health, well-being and future viability. If you want to story to become an agent of future potential, though, there are four roles you might want to take a closer look at.

ANTHROPOLOGIST: Discovery

Consider yourself an anthropologist and use story as a way to look at organizational culture. Ask yourself the question: “What’s here?” and do some fieldwork. What stories are being told? What’s their focus? Are they positive or negative? Who is telling them? Who doesn’t get to tell stories or who is marginalized? What’s the impact of the stories?

You can tell a lot about the health and connectivity of an organization by the stories being told. So what is alive in the system (s) you are part of? What kind of a StoryField are they? Since any person, place or...

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How Story Supports Groups Getting Results – The perfect practice partner (Part 1)

One of the best ways to stretch the boundaries of your thinking is to be asked to do something new. Last week I offered a workshop I’d never done before: “Storytelling for Facilitation and Group Work” and it caused me to think about how and why I apply story in the groups I’m supporting.

I began creating my workshop by thinking about what training, facilitating and hosting are trying to do and mapping how story can support this work. Then I took a closer look at how story can support the wave of how participants move through a group process together. And finally, I took a look at roles story can play in organizational and group settings.

What training is trying to do

I see training, facilitating and hosting as three distinct but overlapping parts of a continuum of group work. At its essence, training is trying to get something in. A trainer is working with a group to present information and integrate knowledge. 

Of course, these are not enough on...

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Developing the ecology for community narratives

This post was written as a guest blog for Percolab.

I am writing this post sitting in the airport in Columbus, Ohio. It is currently 9:46 and my flight to Chicago and then on to Montreal should have departed at 8:27. It didn’t. Not because there are weather conditions here or mechanical errors or any other local disruption. I’m sitting here because of the domino effect.

Hurricane Dorian is busy pounding the Bahamas, and flight changes on the East Coast are causing mass disruptions in other parts of the country. For those who need more proof that we are all connected, be it by climate, systems or thought patterns, this is just the tip of the iceberg. 

I want to make the case that our narrative ecology is the same. In other posts I’ve taken the forest ecology — and how trees continually communicate with each other — as a metaphor of how human systems interact. Trees are connected by the mycelium sheath. Mushrooms connect the individual root systems...

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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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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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How stories can support cross-cultural understanding

storymaking Jan 15, 2018

My first deep immersion international experience came at 17, when I was an exchange student in Germany during my last year in High School.  The biggest discovery I made was that there was more to difference than just language.  Germans had a different perspective of life than I'd grown up with, and they handled it in a different way.  It was a time when I realised my way wasn't the only way.  It was a time of seeing both the gifts -- and the challenges -- of cross-cultural understanding.  I've been fascinated with it ever since.

At the Beyond Storytelling conference last year, I met Joanna Sell, who is working in this field, using narrative to foster cross-cultural understanding.  She supports cross-cultural teams, people moving from one culture to another and groups and organisations seeking to make the most out of their international people's expertise.

In this interview, I talk to her about how she stumbled onto her passion and she gives some very...

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Find the WHY behind your story

I haven't seen The Greatest Showman yet, but I'm predisposed to like movie musicals -- I got it from my mother. I'm also the person who loves stories -- the behind-the-scenes-what-really-happened-and-how-it-was -- kind of stories. That's why I love this one.

Seems it has taken Hugh Jackman eight years to get this movie made. His vision and commitment led the way for the project's greenlighting and was the inspiration for the entire cast. He also has the reputation for being a very good human and all-around nice guy, as well as being extremely multi-talented. He himself talks about loving to try things and play. All of these qualities make this an excellent example of purposeful and intentional leadership that creates a learning, creative environment. This clip shows what happened when he couldn't help himself but take up the charge. And everyone else responds! And if you listen to the words of the song, they are about a leader finding his deeper purpose -- the WHY behind his story.

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