Trying too hard!

Posted by  GeoffBrown —February 15, 2010
Filed in Being Present, Facilitation, Just observations

I have been noticing some stuff written about working and trying too hard. Allow me to ramble and explore some emerging thoughts on this and other related (or maybe unrelated) things …

One example was in an email conversation and gave the example of a ‘process/model’ (for doing things differently) that appeared on the Open Space list. A comment made about it was something like, “yer working too hard …”.

So where are you/we/I working too hard? Where are we working hard at following processes and linear schemes to get things done better and more effectively? Are these processes a distraction from what is actually happening? Do approaches like Solution Focus, where descriptions of ‘Future Perfect’ are central, distract us from the the here&now?

Johnnie Moore comments here on Dave Snowden’s latest post ‘Avoiding reality in favour of a Vision‘. Dave suggests that a future focus provides a good excuse to avoid dealing with the drudgery of reality:

“Present possibilities are rarely as compelling as future visions… visionary journeys through the silvan forests to the land of milk and honey that lies beyond is much more fun that dealing with the harsh reality of the present.”

Johnnie’s response really has me thinking (and re thinking) about the processes I use like Solutions Focus …

“However, I think when we really get attuned to what is happening now, really see all that is going on, it can turn out to be a lot more interesting and thought-provoking than we imagine.”

Viv McWaters also buys in by asking …

“Ideas, and thoughts are rarely linear. Makes me wonder why we try and capture them that way, why we struggle to make order out of chaos. And why we focus on what might be, sometimes avoiding what’s happening right in front of us.”

Dave Snowden is right. As a consultant it is easier to take groups into “Future Perfect” and avoid the ‘harsh reality of the present’. I still believe that future-focused processes serve an important step as they help groups to imagine new ways of doing and being. Experientially, they can help groups to feel open to the possibilities of the present and generate enthusiasm and energy.

So, this blog post started out with the title “Trying too Hard” … it started with a direction in mind and as I read more and wrote, it evolved into something else. That something else is challenge to myself. A challenge to hold space for groups so they can focus on (and be present to) what is happening right in front of them. No linear roadmap will help here. Instead I’ll continue to explore and learn from these types of ongoing/iterative processes …

  • Watching how my own kids grow, learn and adapt
  • Notice more of myself in pursuits such as learning Karate – my biggest block here is in the ‘trying too hard’ which was the original inspiration for the post
  • Playing more with Improvisation and watching groups struggle and learn about themselves – I feel inspired to jump in and take Improv to my son’s school community … or join an Improv group … or start one up myself!
  • Re engage with playing music with others and notice what happens as we develop over time and finally …
  • Use Open Space more in my work with groups – why don’t I use it more is the big question???



  1. Viv McWaters says:

    Nice one Geoff. Now here’s a question for you (based on a recent, real experience): how do we respond as facilitators when the group doesn’t want to do the work, they actually want you to do the work for them, yes work ‘too hard’? It’s one thing to challenge ourselves, quite another to challenge groups and their normal operating systems.

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