Archives: 'Being Present'
September 28, 2015
Of late, I’ve been getting tripped by the language I use. Feedback from clients and workshop participants has forced me to bring some discipline to my thinking and pay attention to what and how I’m communicating. It’s all to easy to fly along on auto-pilot and I’ve been neglecting those I am supposed to helping.
I’ve always loved Lee Lefever’s Commoncraft video explainers, so, when a random reference to his latest book popped onto my screen I clicked the buy button. The Art of Explanation arrived late last week. Hopefully Lee’s wisdom can help me live into the tagline of the book by making my ideas and services easier to understand!
Being Present, Facilitation
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November 20, 2014
The more I work with groups, talk with clients, spend time with family, or spend time alone with my own thoughts … the more I realise that our capacity to perceive, listen and notice more is the greatest gift we have. Noticing more is a thing of mastery. You can never perfect it and you can always, always get better at it.
When I turn my ‘noticing’ inwards on breath and letting go of thoughts … problems diminish and clarity comes. When I turn my noticing to the outside world and to other people … I am struck by the beauty and wisdom around me.
Being Present, Just observations
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January 28, 2014
Co-conspirator of mine, Chris Corrigan, has shared a post he titled – Dealing with your slaves and seeing the world. This piece is a timely reminder about how we perceive the world around us. For me, it’s a little challenge to my own perspective … and to the stories I make in my mind about any problem that I am tackling.
I’ll only focus in on 1 angle of Chris’ post here. This quote from Adam Kahane is at the core of his post …
“Bill Torbert of Boston College once said to me that the 1960s slogan “If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem” actually misses the most important point about effecting change. The slogan should be, “If you’re not part of the problem, you can’t be part of the solution.” If we cannot see how what we are doing or not doing is contributing to things being the way that they are, then logically we have no basis at all, zero leverage, for change the way things are — except from the outside, by persuasion or force.”
When I hear people (and myself) talking about any problem – communication at the local school, device/screen addiction in their kids, the Alcoa Coal mine – the image in my mind looks like this …
Imagine if we could really see our own part in every complex problem we perceived – local or global. I think this self perception would fundamentally change a lot of conversations. A deeper understanding about our part (and the parts other’s play) in the problem helps to build up a better picture of the whole. You can apply this to different scales – individual, team and organisational, national.
Chris concludes his post with a few questions:
“So, what is your experience in affecting change from inside the problem? How do you work towards justice while recognizing your complicity in the very problems you are addressing?”
The practice-challenge to myself is a question about how I reframe things in my own mind. Here is one personal example I’ll apply it to:
What is my part (and how am I complicit) in the device-addiction that has crept back into our family life since returning from our 5 month trip last year? And then … how can I affect change from within the problem?
Being Present, Facilitation, Just observations
January 14, 2014
The line that separates my work and play isn’t really a line at all. Experiences with family and friends teach me as much about myself as time in front of a group. Each serves the other and they are connected. So, the notion of a work-life balance doesn’t make sense to me anymore – I am seeing this term through new eyes … with a new perspective.
In 2014, I’ll be keeping this Pattern Card (from the Group Works set of cards) at the top of the deck. It serves as a personal reminder to step into the shoes of others and listen. I’ll use this card when designing group processes and support individuals, teams and organisations to notice more and see things through other perspectives. And at home this card (like many others in the deck) are a great teaching tool.
Being Present, Facilitation
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October 4, 2013
I’m in Melbourne enjoying an early breakfast at a familiar cafe on Spring Street. The streets are cold, but clear skies promise a warm spring day. It’s exactly 5 months since I’ve been here and I feel like a first time visitor … like I’ve lived another life since that time.
Everything looks and feels in slow motion – including my own thoughts, breath and walk. I am noticing things that I’ve either forgotten, or simply not noticed before. Sitting in this familiar place feels a little surreal.
I’ve just spoken to the cafe owner (who knows me by name only) and he asked, “How long has it been Geoff?” He couldn’t believe that 5 months had passed. For me it feels like a year … or more.
Our family witnessed new places, met new people and lived new experiences every day for 5 months. It was intoxicating and at times we needed a break … time to sit in one place and rest. In parts our journey around Australia seemed to fly by. Other stages seemed to live on and on. As a whole, the journey (for me) felt like a lifetime. Now that we’re back … I am seeing everything differently.
Being Present, Just observations
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September 8, 2013
We have lived outdoors under sun, moon and stars for over 4 months and I’ve lost track of how many sunrises and sunsets we’ve witnessed. Now we are travelling south, down the east coast, where the sun rises from the ocean and sinks behind the Great Diving Range. The difference feels disorientating after spending so long in the west.
I watched the sunrise at Kinka Beach this morning – just south of Yeppoon and touch north of Tropic of Capricorn (approx 23° South … the southern most latitude where the sun can be directly overhead). On the west coast we crossed the same line at (about) Waroora Station, just south of Coral Bay. This Capricorn campsite on the southern tip of Maggie’s Beach was our favourite. We have camped at many locations, but at Maggie’s we were alone and everything about it was wild and alive.
Our hearts, thoughts and vehicle are heading home – Aireys Inlet at 38° south. Awaiting our arrival home are friends, family, our 2 dogs and colder marine waters. But first we have a few east coast pleasures to indulge in. Tomorrow we sail out to Heron Island for a (well earned) 4 day break from the trailer and canvas tent walls. Then 4 days mooching around Seventeen Seventy before heading further south in Noosa for point breaks and outrageously great gelati! Until finally we camp for a week in Scott’s Head – the NSW seaside town where our year of travel began.
Unlike the constantly changing itinerary of the last 4 months, I’ll bet a Noosa Gelato that we stick precisely to the east coast plan above!
Being Present, Gone Supping, Just observations
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September 7, 2013
5th Aug. 2013
As I watched the sunset against the northern Bungle Range last night (this post began weeks ago!), I began to imagine myself (for the first time in months!) working with groups and doing what I do – facilitation. Before we left back in May, my friend and colleague Andrew Rixon said, “I'll be interested to read about your reflections and learnings from the road trip”. On a number of occasions I've tried (often too hard) to write a clever piece about the lessons from this trip and how they might relate to the world of facilitation. Early on I even tried to keep up with my favourite blogs. About 8 weeks ago I let go of these compulsions entirely. I've been surprised (and Ingrid delighted) as to how little attention I have given to anything work or home related. I also wonder how on earth we are going to adjust to the routine of life when we arrive home on September 29!?
2nd Sept. 2013
As we travel south toward home along the Queensland coast, Ingrid and I have been reflecting on the people we've met, places visited and family life on the road. Whenever we talk like this, recurring themes emerge … I suppose these are like principles for travelling the off-roads. Here are a few …
Prepare meticulously! Early in the trip we spent 12 days along the Gnaraloo/Red Bluff coast and we nearly ran out of food and drinking water! This was a wake up call. Had something gone wrong on the rough roads out of Gnaraloo, we may have been reliant on others for help. From this moment we prepared for extended, remote trips with military precision and we've learned that you can't wing-it!
Be prepared to abandon the plan! Anyone who has travelled knows this one. We have altered or abandoned many of our well thought out plans. Because the next day (or even the next hour) is impossible to predict, staying open to the unexpected is what makes this quote ring true …
“The zest is in the journey and not in the destination.” Lynn H. Hough
When it's time to move on … move! That feeling of needing to move on is like an itch that needs scratching. After 1, 3 or maybe 5 days at a camp, Ingrid might give me that look that clearly says, “I'm ready to pack up and go.” Or, the kids might sing out together, “We wanna go mum and dad!” When you feel it's time to move … move!
Its in the eye of the beholder! Everyone sees places through their own eyes. We have learned that Caravaners (with Air Cons) give glowing reviews of campsites exposed to intolerable levels of heat and sun. Fellow travellers in camper trailers and tents tend to give better advice … but not always. We've learned to go and find out for ourselves.
Finally … let go, connect with each other and find the flow!
With 17 weeks behind us and 4 weeks down the east coast to go, have turned for home. A trip of this length will, more than likely, happen just this once. I know my boys so much better. The boys themselves are thriving and their relationships have strengthened. Ingrid and I feel like we are in our 20's when we backpacked around the world back in the 90's! We have had a chance to be a family … together day in, day out … without school or work to separate us … it has been a gift and an adventure that none of us will forget.
Being Present, Facilitation, Gone Supping, Just observations
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March 22, 2013
I recently heard the term “Urban Acupuncture” as it relates to the Better Block movement and their efforts to bring-to-life precincts and neighbourhoods in cities all over the US. The acupuncture metaphor go me thinking about my own work and the work that my art-form supports.
I have just enjoyed 3 days of working and playing with diverse groups of people, mainly leaders beavering away at the grassroots to make their community (and the world) a better place. Listening to their wisdom and their stories has been inspiring. Witnessing their vulnerabilities and supporting them at their learning edge is a privilege.
Each of these community leaders are like healers … each performing their own version of social acupuncture. Directly and indirectly their little actions heal the fabric of community. We see symptoms like community fragmentation and signs like reduced community participation in decision making. Their purpose driven projects stimulate the acupuncture points of community by bringing people into conversation, to break bread together, play music, create art and build stronger relationships across the community.
My work supports community leaders to experiment, take risks, notice more and fail informatively. This week I went to edge of my own practice and pushed out a bit further. I was supported in this by my friend and colleague Russell Fisher. Together with Suzie Brown, Russell and I are embarking on a new journey that will support an ever growing network of community leaders to DO – both big a small.
Being Present, Community & Belonging, Facilitation, Just observations
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March 18, 2013
The ‘Notice More’ mantra is one I keep coming back to. Johnnie Moore first introduced me to the concept of Notice More-Change Less – it’s like a principle to live by.
Well, last week I ‘noticed’ an interview with Kelly Slater, arguably the world’s most enduring sports champion. He’s been at the top of surfing for 23 years and has beaten 5 era’s of surfers with 11 World Titles. This detailed info graphic sums his achievements …
Here are a couple of quotes from Kelly on ‘Noticing’
When asked how he can keep winning so many tight contests …
“I try to pay attention to a lot of things”
“I notice things and adjust accordingly.”
The detailed of the interview reveals that he spends a lot of time watching the waves and the forces that shape the wave direction, frequency and form. Like noticing the ball in tennis, being in tune with the waves is everything. I’m sure Timothy Gallway
(author of the Inner Game series) would agree.
So, here’s a question to consider. If ‘noticing’ the ball is everything in tennis and being in the flow of the waves in surfing is the secret to success and mastery … what is the ‘ball’ or ‘wave’ in the game you play? What are the critical factors that need more of your attention?
Being Present, Facilitation, Yes!And Improv
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February 1, 2013
Today was one of those days where everything converged – where a lot of past stuff came together and, at the same time, the future I am co-creating came into view. The story of today …
My youngest of three boys, Hamish (aka Mr Chipper), attended his first day of school today. He was excited, but not overly so. He was confident, with a hint of vulnerability. His two older brothers, like his parents, could hardly believe he was off to Aireys Inlet Primary School – a small, coastal school of 130 students where students at all levels know each other.
But, I wasn’t there to see Mr Chipper off, or witness his first steps into class surrounded by his little mates. I wasn’t at work and I wasn’t out for an early surf. No, I was being admitted to hospital for (long ago booked) dental surgery on a tooth that has cause me more grief than any other part of my body. That tale of suffering (of the first world variety) is for another time! Happenstance and bad luck saw these 2 dates converge to January 31, 2013.
I’ll fast forward the story of today … past the hunger pains of having to miss breakfast … beyond the news that I was last on the list and would have to wait (growing ever hungrier) until lunchtime to enter theatre … past that 20 second period where the general anesthesia goes to work … past the recovery room and up to the point where my mum picks me up and drives me back to her place.
There is nothing like being with your mum when recovering from illness or surgery. Mum’s are hard-wired to care for their kids and feed them soul food, even when they are 41 years old! I hadn’t seen mum since Christmas Day nearly 6 weeks before and was struck that I hadn’t spent much time with mum, just the 2 of us, since Dad passed a year ago.
After sharing photos of our recent family adventure in Tasmania, and after a late afternoon (still in recovery phase) nap, we began to talk about Dad. How proud he would have been to see Hamish off to school. How much he’d have loved our tales of camping in Tassie.
In his final weeks alive, Dad made me promise him to take our kids travelling, to learn and experience life as a family as much as we could! Living up to this promise has opened up a whole new world for me. It’s transformed my view of parenting, of community, of how to listen and of what’s most important. It’s given me a clearer purpose to my own consulting work and the direction I want to take my offering. My experiences in recent months have rekindled a child-like enthusiasm for what I do.
And as I share these private thoughts in this public space, I realize (again) how important writing has become. My private journal (using Evernote) and my blog (Yes!AndSpace) are spaces where I connect dots between things. When writing, like now, its like time and to-do’s fade away. The meaning evolves and emerges as I write and it’s always, always best when I simply write what comes … and keep suppressing that tyrannical urge to be clever and witty!
Like I said above, lots of things have converged during my long chat with mum tonight. I read to her one of my private journal entries, written after spending a day with dad only weeks before he died. It was like finding a lost treasure and, like magic, reading this entry brought him into the room with us. This is the gift of writing and of sharing it with others.
Being Present, Just observations, Story