“I didn´t like what you did – it felt wrong.”
“We are disappointed about the result of the group process – this wasn´t what we expected.”
These are actual quotes from my clients. This was not the dream feedback for me as a proud, skilled facilitator! The fire alarm in my brain went on with a loud noise, my body froze, and my ego-mind automatically started creating explanations that would make me look better and make the pain and shame go away. Without any effort I had created lots of defensive and aggressive arguments about the logic of my actions and why everybody and everything else also were to blame (even my family and the food I ate the night before). (more…)Read more
While I’m not aware of my fears all the time, when facilitating groups, my “big fear” becomes very alive.
Will I be able to serve this group well? Will I be able to intervene when necessary? Or, will I fall into my habitual pattern and avoid getting messy? And so it goes, on and on, the inner voice of anxiety. (more…)Read more
A few years ago, I was asked to work with the board of a housing co-op who were having issues around workload equity. Resentments were brewing because a few members had become burdened with the lion’s share of the work. Before our first meeting, I was warned about the board’s ‘problem child’: a longtime member who often derailed meeting agendas with her combative style and strong opinions. (more…)Read more
One of the most important things a facilitator needs to practice is facing the fear of criticism that comes from standing in front of a group.
Every time you step in front of a group, whether you are a beautiful and seriously talented pop star like Beyonce or a quick, clever media personality like Jon Stewart, a politician or an athlete or a car salesman, there is a certain amount of criticism coming back at you, even when people are your fans.
Usually it is not spoken, sometimes it is, but the criticism is alway present in the field on a subtle level, which means we feel it and often unconsciously defend against it. The people in the room are sorting through their experience: do they trust you, do they approve of what you are doing, do they want to go where you are taking them?
A good performance will transmute the criticism in the moment into a beautiful and coherent energetic field, but the next day in the papers and in retrospect, the criticism might come back.Read more
I remember doing my first graduate lecture on the further reaches of adult development close to fifteen years ago. I stood up in front of a classroom of people, all whom were older than me, and began my lecture. It was an intense ride. I couldn’t feel much of anything that was going on in the students I was presenting to.
Me, I was too busy attending to the conceptual distinctions in my own mind. I was busy sharpening my intellect. Soon after finishing I could dimly see the aftermath. It was as if an intellectual gatling gun had gone off for the better part of three hours. Metaphorically, you could say I pulled the trigger and didn’t let go until the very end of class. Sure, I opened it up for questions, but my ability to be present and make heartfelt contact with the students in front of me was many years off in my own maturity.
Instead of feeling my own anxiety and uncertainty, I chose to attend rigorously to the sharp and nuanced distinctions in my conceptual world. Instead of acknowledging the nervousness in my hands and the fluttering in my gut, I turned my attention to the multilayered relationships between various theories of adult development. I wanted to deliver unparalleled resolution on the subject matter. And attending to my intellectual prowess was a lot easier than accepting and attending to my embodied sensations of inadequacy and uncertainty.
I share this brief flashback for one reason: I was profoundly wrong in one of my orientations. Then, I taught adult development from a purely conceptual vantage point. Now, I approach development entirely differently.Read more
Authenticity is a popular topic that I frequently hear discussed in a number of different contexts. In personal growth, relationships, professional development, leadership and performance—authenticity shows up as a highly desired trait. This widely pursued aim is especially prized in hyper-individualistic cultures where every individual’s uniqueness is one of the unquestioned goals.
Whether you’re at home with your partner and your family, at dinner with friends, pursuing the next athletic win, or in the office leading and managing the next steps for organizational success, this idea of being more authentic, and the cultural preference to be authentic, often seduces us as “the way” we should or ought to be able to show up.
While being more authentic is a popular frame of reference for working on ourselves personally and professionally, most of us fail to clearly define it. It remains a nebulous, unexamined term that can, and often does, change.
In our drive to be more authentic we often are captured by two unexamined assumptions. Both of these assumptions are mistakes if we value adult development and growing new capabilities.
First: Authenticity is not the same as competence
The first assumption sees authenticity as some way of being that is more competent than you currently are. Unfortunately, authenticity and competence are not synonymous, although many of us would like them to be. (Authentic leadership is not necessarily more effective leadership, it’s just leadership that feels more “at home” to you.)Read more
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.”Read more