For the past few years, when it comes to doing any kind of work with teams and organizations, I’ve been increasingly drawn to the emergent and turned off by the planned and premeditated. To me, emergent potential is all about the possibility to disarm, reveal, become unapologetically candid, and fearlessly transparent. It is raw and alive. On the other hand, the premeditated feels like an outdated and outmoded clinging to a sense of control-based power that is strategic, transactional, dulling, and suffocating. (more…)Read more
“The bad news is you’re falling through the air, nothing to hang on to, no parachute.
The good news is, there’s no ground.”
A friend shared his definition of innovation with me the other day. Innovation, he said, means we are going somewhere new and when we innovate, we never know how we are going to get from here to there. We are not in the territory of innovation when the process is linear, known and predictable. (more…)Read more
Most of us know how to host others. At gatherings we offer to take coats, pour a drink or two, check in now and then to make sure our guests are comfortable, and then wish everyone well as they head home. We know the feeling of being hosted well, and the immense comfort this focused attention of being cared for can bring, especially during challenging life experiences. Sometimes, being hosted well can even be the catalyst for shifting our perception of what is possible. (more…)Read more
As a young boy growing up in Jamaica, I believed that I was developmentally behind because I was black, Jamaican, and materially disadvantaged. As I became exposed to American culture through books, the media, and tourists, I was more convinced that I was less developed than my white American peers. (more…)Read more
In my organization, we do feedback a little differently than typical performance reviews. We have what we call GBOP (Get Better on Purpose) sessions with 5-7 colleagues with whom we work most closely. In these spaces we share feedback in support of each individual’s growth. Leading up to the session there is some preparation with individual self-reflection questions as well as 1:1 feedback conversations with our colleagues. By the time we come to the GBOP, we often have a rich repertoire of feedback to dig into, clarify, and explore together. (more…)Read more
I am coaching a fair number of coaches in my work today and one of the themes that keeps surfacing is a loss of personal passion. After years of coaching, interest wanes. Aliveness and creativity seem to fade. While a narrative of “I enjoy coaching” continues to circulate, for my clients the living experiences of joy, love and heartbreaking fulfillment are things of the past. Boredom feels right around the corner. For some coaches even a professional malaise or depression is on the rise.Read more
On a hot summer day in Brooklyn, I sat around a lunch table with my colleagues talking about Wholeness. In particular, our emotional wholeness in the context of work.
Recently, I’ve found myself really struggling when working with teams that are striving to invite in the “whole self” into the workplace. I was asking my colleagues what their experiences were in this dimension, and one of them shared a poignant example that helped me understand where I was getting stuck.Read more
I began my self-care coaching business as way to teach others about the self-care habits that sustained me through the toughest moments of my life. My first few sessions went peacefully, but as I gained more facilitation skills through Ten Directions’ Integral Facilitation certification, I noticed a few small interpersonal conflicts arising within the members of my community. Perhaps they hadn’t been there before, or maybe I could only bring myself to pay attention when I was actually capable of dealing with them. As I worked with the discomfort that arose from each one, I saw we were all growing – the clients I worked with, me as a leader, and our community as a whole. (more…)Read more
For the past 10 years, I’ve been immersed helping leaders and leadership teams develop more robust skills to help guide and shape their organizations, the markets they compete in, and the communities they operate in. I often see short-termism crippling boards, executive teams, and seasoned managers. (more…)Read more
I recently had a powerful dream. A bigger-than-life yellow snake was striking at me, baring its ominous teeth, snapping its jaws. Just when I thought my life was over, an enormous black snake appeared and attacked the yellow snake until it slithered away. This dream felt so real, so frightening that I kept reliving it, reflecting and unpacking it. I believe the yellow snake represents my Insecurity, and the black snake is my Audacity—my willingness to take bold risks.Read more
I was in my mid-twenties when I made the conscious choice to find the answers to some very important questions. An unexpected pregnancy had thrown me into an existential crisis and forced me to come to terms with my life choices. It became clear that I needed to begin to make decisions from my own moral compass and intuition rather than following others’ ideas and beliefs about what was right or wrong. Locating that inner compass took time. It also took practice to cultivate its sustainability. (more…)Read more
“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
I have been trying to find purpose and meaning in my life for a long time. Looking back, I would say at least since high school. What is it that we, and in particular I, am here for? What is it that will bring me passion and fill my heart? I searched for it in my Mechanical engineering studies and found bits and pieces. I also looked for it in during my MBA, but didn’t find too much there. (more…)Read more
As aspiring individuals and coaches alike, we are often inherently biased towards short term outcomes. Maybe as a coach, you’re looking ahead at six sessions where you are committed to quickly impacting your client’s life. Or, perhaps you’ve committed to six months to making some more substantive changes in your professional context and are eager to see the results. Or maybe the challenges you’re grappling with are changes that will inherently take you the next two years of concerted efforts to generate. (more…)Read more
As a psychologist and political scientist, I always felt drawn to two “acupuncture points”; engaging systemic structures and causes that give rise to deeply challenging societal conditions, and serving individuals in their own evolution into “being for life.” In my work right now I’m addressing both of these expressions through several new and exciting projects in societal development, conflict and negotiation? (more…)Read more
Twenty years ago, I made my debut as an organizational psychologist. Perhaps influenced by academics and my former life as an accountant, my envisioned ideal was a neutral, even stoic, helping professional. But I failed spectacularly; I have always had preferences and get very passionate around values, ethics and methods in organizations and leadership. I’m also sensitive to dynamics and emotions in the room, find myself contracting when conflict and stress arise, and become deeply touched by the lives of my clients. (more…)Read more
I needed a breakthrough. Two important group facilitation events loomed in my near future. While I felt excited about them, I also felt terrified. As a lifelong writer who is more comfortable in the writing cave and in one-to-one mentoring situations, the very thought of guiding a group of writers gave me a chill. This was something I had veered away from religiously. But now, doors were opening and I felt called to step across the threshold. I could no longer say no. (more…)Read more
When I facilitate, I’m usually scared. Excited, curious, engaged. But definitely also scared.
Scared of being obtuse and failing to deliver what the group needs. Scared I’ll offend someone. Scared something will happen that I can’t handle and I’ll freeze, revealing my incompetence.
In short, I’m scared I’ll get booed right off the stage.
Standing in front of a group of people is evocative. Whether you love the adrenalin or you hate it, there’s always a spike when you find yourself look out across a sea of faces that are all staring back. At. You.
So I’m just going to come out and say it: people are scary to me. Not all of them equally or in the same way. But in a very real sense (as we often talk about in the Integral Facilitator program) it makes sense that we might be scared of other people—historically, humans were many times more likely to be killed by another human than another predator.
And yet despite the obvious statistical risk of annihilation, I find myself drawn to the practice of facilitation like a dainty moth to its fiery demise.
And that’s not just hyperbole—my “demise” is actually waiting for me on the other side of that threshold of fear. The demise of the scared little Lauren who wants to have all the answers, avoid uncertainty, perform, and be liked.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