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The Universe planted a dream in your heart, like a bread-crumb marking the path to your own growth and liberation. Whether your heartfelt dream is a red-convertible, writing a novel, or world peace (the sky is the limit!) you can leverage the energy of your desire to attain your dream AND propel your evolution.

Some of us may have learned that desires can be unhealthy or distracting, and many of us have experienced the upsets of becoming too attached. While there is wisdom in being unattached, there is also wisdom (and power!) in our innate tendency to attach, desire, or simply to want something.

Big or small, there is a gap between where you are now and what you want. The space between now and your heartfelt dreams is where the magic is! This is where the growth opportunities live. Navigating this gap is about breaking through obstacles (outer) and resistance (inner) and becoming more You in the process.

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Last night I learned something I didn’t expect to learn about leadership from watching The Lost World: Jurassic Park.

This lesson comes from an old adage: “Never bring home an injured baby Tyrannosaurus Rex.”

First, replay this gripping scene in your mind’s eye:

It was a dark and stormy night. Scientist Julianne Moore warned activist Vince Vaughn, injured T-Rex in his arms, saying that taking the injured dinosaur to their trailer laboratory was “going to be really, really bad.” Even if you don’t remember this scene, you’ve already guessed (1) he didn’t listen, and (2) it was really, really bad. (Raging Ma and Pa Rex pushed the lab over the 500 foot cliff into the churning sea below. And, worse yet, I don’t think Vince Vaughn ever apologized.)

What’s this got to do with leadership and collaboration, you ask?

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Serving the MomentJuly 23, 2014

I participate regularly in the Integral Facilitator® program calls. It’s an opportunity for program participants to gather with program faculty and explore what’s “up” for them. We share our experiences, challenges, and questions, and leverage new opportunities for growth.

I look forward to these practice gatherings because they are alive, emergent, inspiring and support us in playing at our edge. This intentional community consistently invites me into a deeper relationship with why I am here. We each bring a unique perspective, yet we’re all connected by our desire to participate fully and to be of service to an intention that’s much bigger than any of us.

On our most recent community call, Diane Musho Hamilton (Integral Facilitator® lead teacher) reflected back our aspirations to be of service. This triggered my thoughts; we want to serve the planet, make the world a better place, make a difference. Help our clients. Write that book. Reduce, reuse, recycle. Etc. etc.

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On Cultivating Open SpaceJuly 18, 2014

A question came to me recently from a student in the Integral Facilitator®  program who is facilitating a conversation among members of a classical music orchestra who are looking for ways to evolve their work together. He says that as a facilitator, he wants to create an open space for all perspectives to be presenced in an atmosphere of genuine inquiry.

But often, he says, people are not as elegant in their conversations as they are when playing music together. He says that they express themselves emotionally and dogmatically, pounding out their opinions in one repetitive note: the “I am right” tone.  In their assertiveness, they turn a deaf ear to the silence, to the space, to the new, unknown possibilities that come from a depth of listening.

It is ironic because musicians are probably some of the best trained listeners in the world.  And yet, this quality of conversation is often common among all kinds of people, regardless of their ability to hear, when change is afoot, when values are being discussed, when conflict arises, or when new risks must be taken together. In fact, paradoxically, any time anxiety levels rise in a conversation, so do the black and white tone of certainty and unpleasant sensations of dogma. (more…)

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bookshelf-blog

Like most kids, when I was a little girl I eagerly anticipated the transition from school to the freedom of summer. But the real highlight for me was the opportunity to travel up the hill to the public library (much more mysterious and shadowy than our protestant elementary school library) once a week to select new reading material. I climbed the hill, pulling my red wagon behind me; I was allowed to borrow only as many books as filled my wagon, providing I returned them all by week’s end.

I’ll be the first to admit that I was a little greedy.

I became adept at making spatially savvy selections. I strategically selected non-slip covers and optimized book size and packing techniques so that I could maximize my ‘haul’.

Oh, how I loved pouring through those treasures…and the anticipation of what might be in the next wagon.

Fast forward to today, and my tables are stacked with books. Long lists of bookmarked sites. A contact list full of people with ideas, expertise, connections. RSS feeds, Twitter, Stumbleupon, MashUp, Pinterest etc. An almost insatiable interest in what is new, what is relevant, what is trending, and what is necessary and important for me to know—for me to be adequate to the task, to be relevant and on trend.

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Integral Life Practice Prison ProjectJune 2, 2014

Since our last IF newsletter, Dr. Cindy Lou Golin’s Integral Life Practice Prison Project was awarded a grant from the MetaIntegral Foundation! The funds she receives will be use to continue her ILP project with the incarcerated. Her approach includes facilitating ILPs via snail mail, developing an ILP workbook for the incarcerated, and conducting train-the-trainer programs with selected inmates.

Last week we chatted with Dr. Golin to learn more about her innovative project—here’s what she shared with us:

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Skip the preparation?May 30, 2014

Last week, our Integral Facilitator faculty member Rob McNamara shared a provocative perspective on preparation and planning on his blog.

“The most dangerous tool you currently have is the plan you are already holding in your hands. Why? Because the plan makes assumptions that you likely do not question every day. Every day you should be getting out of your plans such that you can adaptively respond to life in creative and innovative ways. Gain more altitude. Get more perspective.”

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Ten DirectionsMay 20, 2014

Ten Directions programs are designed to serve the unique personal and professional development needs of exceptional individuals who seek to bring more consciousness to their work in the world.

Our deliberately developmental learning programs orient to each individual as an embodied instrument of change. This means that throughout our programs, we emphasize personal transformative practice to support the development of embodied presence, skillful perspective taking, masterful communication, compassionate engagement and fluid responsiveness to complexity.

We focus primarily on creating programs that address the domains of leadership performance, facilitation mastery, facilitative leadership, and personal development.

We attract participants who:

  • Are interested in growing and transforming themselves, their groups, organizations and surrounding systems.
  • Identify as life-long learners who are committed to actively participating in their own learning.
  • Are explicitly interested in supporting others in their growth and development, whether through formal or informal contexts.
  • Appreciate the interdependence of individual and collective development.
  • Value mindfulness practice as an essential foundation for cultivating presence and awakeness.
  • Are curious and comfortable with engaging difference as a stimulus for creative potential.

Ten Directions learners are mature and purpose-driven individuals who are committed to engaging complex issues, diverse worldviews and value systems in service of creating emergent, creative and elegant organizations.

By collaborating with uncommonly insightful and gifted teachers, Ten Directions is cultivating an ecosystem of consciously developmental offerings that will contribute to closing the gap between our human condition and our human potential.

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What Makes a Training Transformative?May 8, 2014

As an experienced leadership developer,  I thought myself quite the expert at developing capacity in groups and helping leaders master new competencies, and over decades of work, I felt I’d learned the most effective ways to do that.

The learning culture I had long subscribed to is characterized by its emphasis on valuable information and knowledge combined with engaging, self-directed approaches to learning. My approach as a trainer and facilitator used tried and true rituals and forms to facilitate learning—chatty peer-to-peer activity, self-directed learning, information gathering and opportunities to create conceptual maps and theories, experiential learning, small groups that exchange ideas and test out concepts.

In many ways, my approach as a workshop trainer was to point to new information or knowledge, and devise creative ways for the information to be absorbed and digested. And back then, I would have asserted that this experience I was offering was “transformative” for my clients.

Yet my first personal experience of truly transformative learning took place in a setting that surprised me—at a live intensive with an Integral Zen teacher—which didn’t at all match the existing expectations I had about how learning “should” take place.

When I first entered the room where the workshop “teacher” sat at the front of the room, facing chairs arranged in rows, it felt really weird. In fact, it felt wrong to me—ineffective, and even inappropriate.

Because I favored the view that really effective learning is something that’s not done by someone sitting at the front of a classroom, I was quickly caught in a tumbling list of judgements and assessments about where I was and what was going to happen.

You may have noticed this happening to you in a workshop or training. Your seeking mind impatiently wants to hear about “the top three characteristics of XYZ”;  or you notice your judging mind becoming annoyed because “I get this already” or “I don’t like the way this is presented.”

Of course, discernment is good and useful. However, it also orients us by fixing us to our opinions. With fixed opinions, we become less open and available to information, novelty, creativity, and less able to respond fluidly to complexity.

What surprised me was that the experience challenged my notions of ideal learning environments and engaged an entirely new dimension of me in the learning process.

My experience working with an Integral Zen teacher invited me to go much deeper than I would normally (in a typical workshop setting) for several reasons. Obviously perhaps, it actively engaged me in introspection and reflection. I instantly felt a quieting down in my body—a settling, grounded feeling as my breath slowed and my awareness ceased jumping from thought to thought.

Because the teacher offers teaching injunctions that are often just a simple phrase or question (a “pointing out” instruction), my attention is drawn to an inner dimension, in contrast to the hyperactivity of my analytical mind. Through the process, the teacher is adept at helping me to see my own inner dialogue and the fixations of my mind. Gradually, with practice and attention, I can begin to release them. As a result, my awareness becomes freer.

As an “experienced” professional facilitator, this changes the way I relate to my self, others, and the environment around me. My identification with being an expert—the authoritative figure at the front of the room—loosens. My need to have the chairs set up in a particular configuration lightens. The persistent struggle of my ego to defend me against something, someone, some facet of my experience is a struggle I can see anew, and therefore relate to. As a result, the degree of choice and the freedom I have access to expands dramatically.

Sure, it’s true—there is always a lot to do when facilitating or engaging groups. We manage time, agenda, listen for agreements. Our minds are constantly engaged, it seems, in what is happening out there. Yet what I have learned, and continue to learn, is how much is going on in here—and how vital it is for me to be able to access and use this inner awareness.

From the inside, when my presence is centered and stable, I can use my self-awareness as a resource. I am able to notice reactions, contractions and pick up on subtleties I would have missed, much more quickly. Over time, I can relax into an attitude of not-knowing, which frees up more capacity for me to be open and respond to what is arising in the moment. I can include more of myself in my facilitation, and can more masterfully give people the experience of having their contributions included and understood. I am more fluid, agile, responsive, and authentic.

When we learn how to relax the grasping and judging our minds so often engage in, we can be more fully present to our entire experience, which means we can embody inquiry, rather than having to identify with what we know and the answers we already have.

Cultivating the capacities of grounded presence and perspective taking are essential for those who wish to work moment-by-moment with the complexity and diversity inherent in group dynamics and organizations. Utilizing these capacities, a masterful Integral Facilitator® orients to the true nature of the group process, its being and becoming, and its context and environment. In my experience, Zen awareness is the domain that offers me greater access to my own depth, which is precisely the doorway to accessing more depth in service of the group.

The challenge we face as leaders and facilitators is not about merely more—more expertise, more knowledge, more skills. If we are really on the edge of our game, at the front line of our own development, then our challenge is to find opportunities where we can receive and accept the gift of being seen, choose to participate in our own growth, and open up to being an instrument for the emergence of what will most serve all of us.

 

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Catalyzing Engagement & Intimacy in GroupsApril 16, 2014

How can we become more capable of working with whatever comes up in our lives in a way that actually supports the growth and evolution of all human beings?

When we cultivate presence, we are more able to work with the here and now, take more perspectives, and embrace more of our experience—including dissonance and conflict.

We have more choices, and more capacity to address the full complexity of what is happening—in the energetics of a room, in the emotional domains, in the realms of power and authority, decision making, and conflict.

Being able to open up to a deeper reality beyond our own notions of what’s going on in a group begins with three essential moves:

  1. Owning your first person experience.
  2. Recognizing and naming your experience.
  3. Moving from autonomy to communion, or I to We.

Often, the last move can be quite challenging.

How do we catalyze a group to become more coherent, and deepen the quality of engagement and intimacy?

One of the pillars of Flex-Flow experiences in groups occurs when individuals shift their awareness from first person experience to the experience of the group or the whole.

As facilitators, leaders, and participants, we can generate greater coherence and enhance the quality of our work together by shifting our group’s awareness from “I to We.”

By shifting our attention to others, sharing our impressions of the collective space, and noticing coherence and common characteristics of the moment we can significantly heighten our participation in the group awareness.

Here are some practices we’ve explored in our workshops that you can take into your life and work:

CULTIVATING COHERENCE AND COMMUNION IN GROUPS

  • Try inviting your group or team to share their observations about the physical space you are in: what do they notice about the lighting, colors, the feel of the space? What sounds, smells, and textures do they appreciate? (This can be especially helpful for virtual teams.)
  • If your group is virtual, invite them to imagine and conceptualize the  virtual room your group is inhabiting together. What kind of physical space would this group like to inhabit?
  • Sometimes a group can be aware of its explicit project or goal, yet it’s members can be misaligned on the level of shared purpose or intention. Invite each participant to share their personal intention for the meeting or for your group’s shared efforts and goals.
  • Invite input as to why each participant is here, what their hopes are for the gathering. Explore what people notice right now, in their sensory perceptions, in their bodies, and what it feels like to participate.
  • Take time to appreciate the unique personal qualities of the other individuals as contributors to the group.
  • Often, deep coherence and alignment arises paradoxically when a group is able to articulate its differences, obstacles, or struggles. As a leader or facilitator, explore giving voice to the unspoken tensions or struggles you perceive, and invite the group to bring these “shadow” elements into open discussion and exploration.
  • Name the “obvious.” In other words, reflect back to your group what you are seeing, sensing and hearing. Recognizing clearly what is arising in this moment invites us to become more open to ourselves and to each other.

Hopefully, after reflecting on these practices, you’re curious about how these kinds of techniques could be used effectively with a wide variety of group cultures and styles. To deepen your learning, you might find it helpful to reflect on these questions about your own approach:

  • Are there other effective practices or techniques you’ve used or experienced that have cultivated a sense of “we”?
  • What framing would you employ if you were bringing these practices into a variety of different group cultures and styles?
  • Where do you notice your edge as a facilitator being challenged when you imagine yourself engaging these practices in your groups and teams?

Individual and collective development are interrelated, because as we develop, our experience in groups changes.

We become more at ease, less fearful, less instinctively competitive and self-protective. We feel more freedom to be ourselves, and we have fewer struggles with the otherness of others.

We have access to creativity, we enjoy the support of others, and at the same time, we are willing to experience more authentic challenges. We live with liveliness and vigor.

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