Tag Archive: listening

August 28, 2013

Glimpses of Wholeness

Last Friday, as we closed our joint offering with the Center for Whole Communities, “Whole Measures: Transforming Communities by Measuring What Matters Most,” at Knoll Farm, participants and facilitators alike carried forward insights and ongoing questions about what wholeness is and what might help to create more of it in our communities and organizations.  The timing was auspicious as the nation has been marking the anniversary of the March on Washington and reflecting upon the progress we have made towards wholeness as embodied in Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream, delivered in a speech 50 years ago today.   Read More

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January 10, 2013

New Calls to Leadership

leadership puzzle

|Photo by Michael Cardus|http://www.flickr.com/photos/create-learning/4607228635|

At this point in my tenure at IISC, I get the opportunity to return to certain systems and programs that I have been serving for a number of years.  This includes a few organizations and leadership development initiatives to which I’ve been contributing for a half-dozen years now, through two presidential elections, the Great Recession, the Arab Spring, the explosion of social media, and some stormy knocks over the head about the reality of climate change. Through all of this I’ve been interested to see how the conversation has changed, where it has in fact changed, within these institutions and programs and among the participants. Read More

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October 31, 2012

Practicing Wholeness

alchemy of wholeness

|The Alchemy of Wholeness by Armanda Moncton|http://www.flickr.com/photos/armandamoncton/1705798622|

On Sunday, Gibran Rivera and I facilitated a workshop at Connecting for Change/Bioneers by the Bay about change practices for a networked world.  Another way of thinking about what we were exploring was to put it in terms of “practices for wholeness.”  Part of our premise was and is that we are suffering from a worldview that leads with and to fragmentation and fixity.  This is part of our inheritance from the industrial age that strives to understand through division and an associated mindset that believes we can make a separation between observer and observed with no associated impact.  For certain tasks, of course, it makes sense and is possible to divide, diagnose and put back together.  But this does not make sense, nor is it possible, in the case of complex living systems.  Furthermore, we have gotten ourselves in a bind because our habits of thought have led us to thinking that the divisions and categories we have created are in some sense primordial.  And so we are hard pressed to believe, or remember, that what we do to our “environment” or “others” we do to ourselves! Read More

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August 9, 2012

Buyers Are Liars

“Ninety per cent of the world’s woe comes from people not knowing themselves, their abilities, their frailties, and even their real virtues. Most of us go almost all the way through life as complete strangers to ourselves – so how can we know anyone else?”

– Sydney J. Harris

Recently I was in a conversation with an acquaintance who is a real estate agent.  We started bantering about houses and communities that would fit our values and lifestyle/family goals.  At a certain point, she said, “You know, we can dream all we want, but as we like to say in real estate, ‘buyers are liars.'”  In response to my baffled look, she added, “Most people think they know what they want, but I find you really have to take people out into the field, ask a lot of questions, show them a bunch of options, and see how they respond.”  Turns out people often end up in a somewhat or completely different place from their originally stated aspirations. Read More

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May 31, 2012

Sacred Stories

If you don’t know the kind of person I am
and I don’t know the kind of person you are
a pattern that others made may prevail in the world
and following the wrong god home we may miss our star.

William Stafford, from “A Ritual to Read to One Another”

Photogenic Able Martinez Volunteer Docent Guide - loves his work and it shows.  Piedras Blancas Lightstation Lighthouse, San Simeon, CA.  Public tour 18 Feb 2009.  Led by docent volunteers Able and Toni Martinez (abellighthouse {at] charter d o t net.  Photo by Michael

|Photo of Able Martinez by Mike Baird|http://www.flickr.com/photos/mikebaird/4369050515|

This is a slightly edited re-post of something I wrote a couple of years ago, and it came back to mind during conversations these past few days with a group of conservation biologists about how to create more of a compelling case for their work, and also to better understand where various stakeholders (allies and adversaries) are coming from with respect to preserving precious natural resources.  The point has been made several times and in different ways that narrative speaks louder than numbers, and that in our change work, it helps if we become acquainted with the stories of others, and work ultimately at weaving ourselves into something more collective.   Read More

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April 6, 2012

The Road to Wholeness

“The most sustainable impact comes from our deriving meaning and then connecting that meaning to our purpose, to what we stand for, and to the contributions we make.”

-Dr. Monica Sharma

There is something about the invitation to health and wholeness and to talking about how to measure it that seems to be a real draw to our Whole Measures workshop, which we offer jointly with the Center for Whole Communities.  I can see it in the eyes of many participants as they walk into the room – “Tell us how!”  And there is a bit of a disruptive experience that occurs when we let people know it is not so formulaic.  One of my favorite quotes comes from my mentor Carol Sanford who has said, “Best practice obliterates essence,” and I think it really applies to what we are talking about here. Read More

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October 31, 2011

The Art of Listening

Last week, colleagues Andrea Nagel, Jen Willsea and I facilitated the workshop, Fundamentals of Facilitation for Racial Justice Work for staff at the Boston Public Health Commission. One of the most powerful parts of the workshop was an exercise where participants had to listen to a view with which they disagreed without opposing, fixing or leading the speaker to another viewpoint. Challenging, to say the least! It raised a great question about not just how, but when to listen without attempting to shift anything. Like many of the workshop participants, I struggle with this practice, particularly when the speaker’s views fly in the face of realities I see and history I know, or when the very act of listening seems to give comfort to views that diminish my humanity. The struggle brought me back to a classic essay, “The Art of Listening,” by  feminist author Brenda Ueland.

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October 27, 2011

Going WITH Life

“We can only have honest, effective hope if the frame through which we see is an accurate representation of how the world works.”

– Frances Moore Lappe

river

|Photo by Jim Bahn|http://www.flickr.com/photos/gcwest/6142854588|

With a warm welcome and opening offering of D.H. Lawrence’s poem “Escape,” Danny Martin and I launched into our session last week at the Bioneers by the Bay Conference entitled, “Belonging and Becoming: Practices for Regenerative Leadership.”  The framing of our 90 minutes was the call to connect more deeply with the ways of complex living systems, to align ourselves more fully with life so that we might thrive as a human community.

During the first half of our session we took the poet’s suggestion to escape the “glass bottles of our egos” and access “unlying life” by engaging in some paired storytelling focused on the values that have guided us in our lives.  This was our effort to cultivate a deeper sense of belonging in the room, and we were amazed to hear how much people took from listening to one another for even 10 minutes.  Read More

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February 9, 2011

The Balancing Acts of Collaboration

SONY DSC

|Photo by Vvillamon|http://www.flickr.com/photos/villamon/4468869725|

In a recent article in Administration and Society, Sonia M. Ospina and Angel Saz-Carranza consider how it is that leadership in multi-organizational networks carries out vital balancing acts.  On the one hand, they consider ways to navigate the internal tension between creating unity and honoring diversity among stakeholders.  On the other hand, they look at how the balance is struck between confrontation and dialogue when doing outward-facing work. The source of their insights are the experiences of two urban immigration coalitions in the United States.

By way of summary, to successfully address paradox in the context of balancing unity and diversity inside the network, Ospina and Saz-Carranza observed leadership doing the following: Read More

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January 12, 2011

Pauses for the Cause

Slow signLast week, IISC staff took a step back to consider what we had been referring to as the roots out of which our collaborative capacity building work grows (we have since wondered whether these may be more appropriately cast as “lenses,” but more on that at another time), and to come to some agreement about what is core to our practice in these imperfectly titled areas:

  • networks
  • equity/power/inclusion
  • “the love that does justice”

We were guided in our conversations by the talented Mistinguette Smith, with whom I have had the pleasure of partnering in delivering our joint work with the Center for Whole Communities – Whole Measures: Transforming Communities by Measuring What Matters Most. Anyone who is able to handle a group of facilitators has certainly earned her stripes, and if that person can teach those “process experts” new tricks, well now you’ve really got our attention. Ms. Smith, we are listening! Read More

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January 5, 2011

Facilitative Leadership, 2011

FL 20112011.  A new year for us here at IISC to continue to move on the vision of ensuring that everyone engaged in social change work has some knowledge of and facility with Facilitative Leadership.  Another year to restate and reframe the need for these critical skills to bring alive our goals of a more just and sustainable world.  So why Facilitative Leadership?  Here is my take . . . Read More

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November 19, 2009

Sacred Stories

If you don’t know the kind of person I am
and I don’t know the kind of person you are
a pattern that others made may prevail in the world
and following the wrong god home we may miss our star.

William Stafford, from “A Ritual to Read to One Another”

I, for one, could not be happier that we have as our President a man with such apparent capacity of careful thought, measured analysis, and poetic expression.  The other day I reread a passage from Barack Obama’s Dreams From My Father and was bowled over by its insight and beauty.  The passage comes at a point when Obama is reflecting upon his work as a community organizer in Chicago, which became all consuming as he often spent his social time with community leaders and residents, immersing himself in their lives.  He writes:

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