Friday, October 29, 2010

Leaders have no choice

If you're a leader then lead. If you're a leader and aren't ready: Watch out. If you're a leader and try to hide: Forget about it. You've been found. You can run, kid, but you can't hide. Leaders don't know how.

When I was in my early twenties my brother and I dreamed about a life style management centre that we would run one day. We were so excited. I don't know about him but I seemed to take it seriously.

I remember sitting down by the lake day dreaming about being a part of a group of people that were just successful. Not trying to be but just were.

Linda and I had our second annual HOPE symposium this fall. My dad just died of cancer and the day was very difficult. And I was glad that it was there for me when I most needed it. You see, I am a part of a group of people that just are successful. If fact one could argue that these people all have at least one thing in common. Me. Linda and NLP Canada Training Inc.

Let me introduce you to:
Robert Fisher
Kathleen Milligan
Maxx Kochar
John Steuernol
Karen Petcoff
John Dafos
Alan Crossly
Ron Vereggen
Andrew Reid
James Perly
Melina Murray
Afifa Siddiqui, Cronos Consulting Group
Mike Murray
André See Yin Kuok
Ann Jagan
Dr. Barbara Luedecke, Ph.D.
Bev Hagerdorn
Christine Laperriere
Dr. David Murphy
Dr. Mike Mandel
Geddie Pawlowski, P.Geo.
Kathleen Milligan
Dr. Linda Ferguson
Mike Verhey
Sheri Andrunyk
Steve White
Susan Hobson
Willard Bond
Zoe Pepler
Richard Roell

In fact you should goto and get to know just how cool and smart and successful these people are. They succeed when others don't. I respect them and am grateful for them being a part of my life.

See what your missing?

I guess there's only two question at this point. What's next? And where are you going to be?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Handling the Inner Aftermath

Have you ever handled a situation brilliantly, only to find yourself shaking afterwards? Maybe there's a scene that plays over and over in your head while you search for the words you wished you had said. It's not that you handle conflict badly. You handle conflict well. It's the aftermath that's a killer.

I had this discussion recently with another facilitator. Like me, she was able to handle conflict in the room. Like me, she hated it and wondered if there was a way to be more confident, more balanced, more able to handle the conflict without paying the price.

Maybe there isn't. Maybe part of the price of leading - as a trainer or facilitator, as a manager or executive or team captain - part of the price of leading is the slightly sick sensation that follows conflict. The feeling that comes when you can't shake the idea that there was something you could have done better, something that would have outframed or out-manoeuvred the conflict.

But it's entirely possible that paying attention to people's anger or frustration requires that you meet them in that level of tension and uncertainty. And the shaking that you do afterwards, with your own anger and frustration and uncertainty, is the sign that you were really paying attention, that you took the conflict seriously. This is not the same as giving up your own point of view, and it's not the same as making a mistake. It's more like building a bridge through a bog - you'll probably get muddy making your way across.

It's not necessarily harmful, this aftermath. It pushes us to look for ways to agree instead of arguing, which is good. It gives us a stake in how we make other people feel, which is also good. It may even give us insights that we couldn't get if we stayed as cool and comfortable, as confident and as competent as we wish we were.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Healing - what business is it of yours

The other day my business partner said that I am a healer. She said that I love to support learning by tending to the well being of other people. The funny thing about that, is, that my belief about that can be shifty. There are days when I look at people and I see what needs to be done and have very little patience for people that can't perform to their potential because they are "unwell". I have friends that hold executive positions in organizations and I watch them roll their eyes when an employee is "under too much stress" to be doing what they are suppose to be doing.

Over the years there are many things that I have learned. They don't roll their eyes because someone is unwell. They genuinely care about their people. The rolling of the eyes is an illustration of frustration because of the inability to see the invisible lines and solution to help. In most main stream businesses, a state of un-health or dis- ease is hidden. The causes are even more hidden. Often we are all left rolling our eyes because we just don't know what to do.

I am going to go out on a limb and say that all performance issues are issues of health. Your sales call went terrible because you had a terrible headache. You had the headache because you had a big sales call. This is the third time you have been late for work because you have a thriving family and getting enough sleep has been difficult. You lost a bigger healthier picture.

Whatever the performance issue is or if you were in our class the statement would be "whatever the performance issue was....who cares! It just feels plain good to be doing something with great focus and attention."

And that's our promise. Come, feel good, be good and live, your performance will get better. Why? Because that's just what happens when you work with us. Healing and learning is our business and when it becomes yours, get excited because you are on a verge of a break through.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A personal mission statement

I just finished reading Mojo by Marshall Goldsmith. One of the exercises that caught my eye was the personal mission statement, mostly because Goldsmith recognizes how often this is a bad exercise and insists, nonetheless, that there is value in doing it well. I work with a partner, so I am reflecting here on my mission, his mission and our mission.

I am an artist and what I create are situations that enhance learning. This does mean I am a teacher, but there are teachers who are not artists - teachers whose central mission is to teach. Mine is not exactly the same. I create learning situations in the way that a painter creates paintings.

My training partner, Chris, is also not primarily a teacher. He is a healer who is extraordinarily adept at discovering the points in a person's history that need to heal so that learning and progress can happen. When we work together, I monitor the correspondence between the process and the people in the process so that learning can happen. He monitors the well-being of each individual so that he can connect them more effectively to the process so that learning can happen. Both of us assume that learning happens whenever and wherever it is supported.

Our mission together is to shape experiences that encourage people to be more precise in using their ideas, sensory experience and language to foster well-being in themselves and others. When we are on mission, we are engaged in training people so that they are more aware, more motivated, and more effective. We can only achieve this mission when we are both living our individual missions: I create structures and modify them so that people learn better while Chris identifies leverage points within people and shifts them so that they can learn better. We get the strongest results in the shortest time when we are working together.

Like other performing artists and all healers, we can only work when there are people with whom to work. We search restlessly for the one condition most necessary to live our missions - the people in the room.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Thanksgiving is Family Time

Two experiences this week have me thinking about family. The first was the funeral for a close friend's father, attended by many people from our work community. The second was a party at my house, where young adults gathered to laugh and reminisce about being teenagers. My conclusion from these two very different events is this: our families are the people who show up.

We cannot always count on having warm and fuzzy feelings for our families. It's nice when that's the case, but the ups and downs of life make it almost inevitable that we will not always feel close to family. Family will not always support us in the ways we would like to be supported. Family do not always even share our values and hopes. Here's what family always does: it shows up.

When you think back through your own life at key events, you begin to notice the people who simply are there. Not so much there when you need them as more simply there where you are. They may inspire you and they may infuriate you, but they show up. They show up physically, and they show up in your own expressions and memories and characteristic turns of phrase. Family are people who show up.

And after awhile, the people who show up are family. They may not be linked by blood or marriage and they might not even be the people you love best or like most or find most interesting. But event after event, year in and year out, they show up. And they become family.

You can't pick your family. They just show up.

You can pick your friends. If they show up often enough, they become family - no longer required to be interesting or right - just present with you through the ups and the downs.

Family shows up.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Facilitating Change

Is there a group you would like to lead through change? Here's a good place to start: if you want to facilitate change consider a change in the way you facilitate.

I often hear "creative" facilitators talk about their "energizers" for a group. This is the kind of technique that seems so completely harmless that it is extremely resilient (think about that: it's easier to change something important and scary than something that seems to have little influence one way or another). Here's the reason they should be changing: even one "energizer" suggests that the task itself is not engaging enough for people to stay energized while doing it.

If you are working with a group that cares about what they are doing and has the resources they need to do it, stay out of their way. They do not need energy, although they may need shaking up, reframing, rapport or reassurance. If the group you are working with either doesn't care or doesn't have resources, then you need to address that directly. Suggesting that someone is about to be voted off the island creates energy of a different sort. So does suggesting that you are going to bat to get a group the resources they need.

Facilitating change begins with facilitation that assumes the change is worth enough to engage a group's hearts and minds. Engaged groups don't need energizers - they just need room to wrestle with big challenges.

Friday, October 01, 2010

How do we predict consequences?

I was just reading the latest issue of TIME magazine. There's an article on research on how the 9 months we spend in the womb affect our health and well-being as children and even as adults. Apparently, infants in the womb take on many of their mother's issues.

The article identified the potential to change this, to make babies less like their parents and more strong, healthy and stable. That sounds like a very good thing.

But. . . you probably know someone who feels like she or he grew up in the wrong family, who feels so different from parents and siblings that it is almost inconceivable they are all kin. And that's not good.

It's possible that the way we are set up, it is more important for us to feel like we belong to our parents than it is that we achieve optimal physical health. Changing that might have many unintended consequences. We need to believe we belong with the people closest to us. If we are going to make babies different than their parents, we also need to find ways to support them discovering that they are still enough the same to be one family.

We want babies to be healthy. And we want babies to connect so strongly with their parents that they know - for sure and for always - that they can trust their connection.