Sunday, December 27, 2015

Anticipating the New Year: Silencing the MMQ Within

Support (səˈpôrt/):  bear all or part of the weight of; hold up.

Mistake (məˈstāk/):  an action or judgment that is misguided or wrong.

Learning (ˈlərniNG/):  the acquisition of knowledge or skills through experience, study, or by being taught.
Super Bowl XLIX: Butler picks off Wilson (click on link)
How often this past year have I engaged the internal "Monday Morning Quarterback" (MMQ):  I cannot believe I did that!  What was I thinking?  I botched that situation!

It seems that I try to prevent mistakes with a false sense of being perfect and then bash myself when I am being human and vulnerable!  There are countless instances where people's mistakes become headline news - AND - where I headline my own failings (at least in my own mind!).

The challenge: slow down; hold lightly - becoming compassionate and tender with Self and Others; and learn from these vulnerable moments.  The decision or action - and even these MMQ moments! - become part of the journey towards understanding. 

Mistakes - Support - Learning
One of the dialogue skills (the "rules"to develop a Model II nondefended learning stance articulated by Chris Argyris) is the ability to support making mistakes in the service of learning.

Questions to consider this week:

  • Do I focus on the "mistake" rather than the "lesson learned"?
  • Do I create a "teeter totter" that rewards one over the other?
  • Am I willing to look at the whole: the ability to hold both Mistake and Lesson in a creative tension, allowing a balance between vulnerability and growth?

When I look at the whole, I begin to see the word Support that creates an environment which accepts human vulnerability, silences the MMQ, and celebrates the learning.

Cheers to the New Year, as we make mistakes, as we learn, and as we support one another!

Larry Gardepie

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Noticing Your Impact: It Happens... Now What?

Busyness seems to be a fact of our modern lives!  So, too, is the impact we have on one another.  But, are we even aware of those moments when we impact others?

Our impact may be anywhere from small and short-term to huge and long-termIt may be conscious and intended or it may occur through missteps and misunderstandings.  It may even lie unnoticed for days, weeks, or years until memories are stirred and our Present becomes impacted by the Past.

Just think how a smile, acknowledging someone as we pass by, or stopping by a colleague's work space to give thanks for work well-done may be all it takes to brighten someone's day.  Impact happens!

I have become aware of how my family and my role in the family continues to impact how I react or respond to situations today, decades after leaving the "family nest"!!

As we enter this final week of holiday busyness, I am reminded of earlier Christmases with my family.  The memories, mostly positive and powerful, seem to linger off-stage as I prepare for this year's celebration.  I wonder how much I am willing to acknowledge these memories, allowing the Past to have its time and place... but then becoming more Present to the here and now.

Maybe the gift we can give each other this year is our Presence: to acknowledge the past joys and pains; to become aware of the present moment; and to decide how we want to positively impact those around us.  Sometimes impact just happens, but I am learning that I have a choice in many of the situations that occur.

Slowing down, giving others the present moment, and receiving them as they come are all choices I can make!

Questions to consider this week:
  • Past:  what memories am I bringing into this holiday season?
  • Present:  how can I slow down and notice my impact - with the past that I am remembering and on the present that I am unwrapping?
  • Future:  what expectations do I have of myself and others as we gather together? 

The invitation this week is to impact another person POSITIVELY!  May we be surprised with the Sacred Gift of Presence!

Larry Gardepie

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Reflections on Our Inner Journeys and Outward Relationships

Have you ever hoped that your life would follow a Straight Path, with a defined Start and Finish, moving forward with no interruptions or distractions from your goals?  Or have you ever found yourself competing for limited resources or proving your worth over another?

As a runner, I learned to listen for and anticipate the starting gun, the ability to jump ahead and gain advantage over my competitors.  I wonder if this is any different than the Cause-Effect or Single-Loop Learning that is so ingrained in how we respond to various situations: start, race toward action (reaction), and finish at the planned or expected ending point?

Straight: Start - End
Life is filled with cycles, though - whether we experience those through Nature, seasons, or relearning what we thought we understood from earlier stages in our lives.

By taking the two ends of a straight line, we form a Circle - a line with no ends.  This opens us to the possibility of re-visiting and re-discovering.

But a circle also has an inside and an outside, an inner and an outer edge.  As I move inward, to notice how I am responding to a situation, I may not always be aware of what is occurring outside my inner circle.  In some ways, the circle may trap me into an Either-Or thinking style, cycling through past thoughts and earlier solutions, and not seeing other possibilities.

Circle (connect the ends): Inner or Outer
If the ends of the straight line are twisted before joining, a new shape emerges:  the Möbius Strip.  Following along the inner edge eventually leads to the outer edge and then returns to the inner.  Like the circle, there is continuity, but with the Möbius Strip, we move towards integration.

Noticing what is happening within, combined with engaging the outer world, allows us to flow from one side to the other.  The challenge for us is to hold onto one integrated reality: the inner journey informs the outer relationships with others and the outer journey informs the inner relationship with self, essentially drawing us into Both-And thinking and solutions.  

As an introvert, I have found that I need to share my inner thoughts and feelings with others in order for us to journey together.  As I open up, unexpected and exciting results occur!

Möbius Strip (add a twist, connect): Inner and Outer
Dialogue may take place when one or more people open up and share the possibilities and potentials of each personNoticing how we experience our world in relationship with others and accepting what they observe, draws us into curiosity about and compassion for others.  

At our recent Community of Practice meeting, Anita noted that adding a second twist to the straight line before connecting the endpoints creates a Heart. 

I wonder if the first twist is the Integration of the inner and outer journeys, drawing us into deeper understanding, and the second twist is the Compassion we begin to experience for self and other?

Heart (adding a second twist): Inner and Outer, with Compassion

Thus, Straight-Line thinking of Start-End and Either-Or can be transformed into an infinite journey of Both-And newness, discovery, and heart-felt wonder when we allow our lives to be gently twisted and reshaped by one another.
Infinite Inner and Outer Journey (Möbius Revisited)

 Questions for this week:
  • Do you experience the world as competitive and heartless?
  • How do you primarily focus your time or energy - inward or outward?
  • Where can you add a slight "twist" in your encounter with others:
    • To listen more?
    • To ask more questions?
    • To share your thoughts and feelings?

May you encounter gentle and compassionate twists this week!

Larry Gardepie

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Noticing: Where is My Focus... Past, Present, or Future?

Recently, my computer played a trick on me: all of my emails disappeared!  I am sure all of us have had days like that - the wonders of modern technology!

Using my back-up files, I soon recovered the miscreant emails.  What surprised me is how many emails I had amassed over the past several years!  We are not talking about "a few emails."  I had over 15,000, dating back several years!

You might be wondering why I had saved so many emails.  That was a question I posed to myself, and I slowed down to listen to my answers.  In the past:
  • Some people mislaid emails I sent, so I saved outgoing emails so I could easily resend.
  • Some people misunderstood what I wrote, so I wanted to reread and clarify what I had emailed earlier.
  • Many emails contained topics of interest to me, so I would save those emails in order to some day reread or explore the topic further.
  • I would forget when friends and I had arranged to get together, so those emails helped me double-check the arrangements.
In reviewing these (and other more embarrassing) answers, I noticed that my Past was easily affecting my Present and was unfocusing my Future.  And, in fact, to be "right" or "correct" about my interpretation of the Past, I had organized my Present to catalog the Past; and my Future had become dependent upon both Past and Present remaining a certain way!

Question: How far away from the Present are my thoughts?
My colleagues in the Dialogue Practicum have heard me talk about "The Swirl," the image or action I use to describe my mind: competing thoughts, multiple options, different strategies... all swirling around in my thoughts and responses.

I noticed, though, that when I slowed down, I could feel The Swirl happening within.  There were so many ways I held onto and retained the Past and Future that my mind became a mixture of thoughts and feelings all vying for attention... and distracting me from the Present.

My mind sometimes swirls with all of the possibilities

On a really good day, I could organize or structure The Swirl so that it felt better and less distracting!  Continued studies with Dialogue challenged me to slow down even further and to ask another question:  Was I really staying in the Present when I was tending this Swirl?
Notice the 3-D nature of my organized swirl!

One of the more difficult lessons for me to realize was an ability to "hold lightly" this Swirl: moving away from defending my behaviors and reactions, and allowing compassion to interrupt The Swirl.
This is what The Swirl feels like when held lightly!

In those moments when I slow down, notice, and hold myself and others with compassion, the Swirl has less of a hold on the Past and the Present.  And the Future?  The Future reaches out and touches me and others in unexpected ways!

What has happened to the recovered emails?  They are still on the computer... taking up space... but they are no longer taking up my time or energy.  And now: new emails - once read and responded to - are no longer saved!

Questions for this week:
  • Do you have areas in your life that swirl?
  • What image comes to mind when contemplating Your Swirl?
  • In what ways can you hold your Swirl lightly and with compassion?

May your week be filled with Compassion and Presence!
Larry Gardepie