Sunday, January 29, 2017

The Hope Effect: Rippling Outward Gently

Fields trips!  Remember the excitement as a young child - getting out of the classroom and not having to study?!  Little did we know that the field trips were designed to teach us lessons not found in the text books!

Growing up in the Central Coast of California, there were numerous places to go on field trips:  the agricultural nurseries, greenhouses, seed farms and fields of the Salinas Valley; the manufacturing plants of Peter Paul, Nestles, Firestone and Schilling McCormick; the historical sites of several California Missions, Monterey Presidio, and Steinbeck's Cannery Row; and the natural beauties of the tide pools of Point Lobos, the redwoods in the Santa Cruz mountains, and the Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary in Pacific Grove.

The world expanded for me through these field trips: the world of discovery and education.  What memories come to mind when you think of your childhood education?
Hope Begins:  Beauty is Born
(Monarch Butterflies Need Help, Chicago Sun Times)
Recently, the Monarch butterfly came to mind when my Dialogue mentor used the 'Butterfly Effect' as an illustration of the importance of practicing our dialogue skillsYou may be familiar with the Butterfly Effect if you have studied weather patterns or chaos theory.  It states that a small and sensitive cause may have a large impact on a later state.  Example:  the fluttering of a butterfly's wings could impact a typhoon weeks later around the world. 

I mused with my mentor that the divisions and and struggles in our current political and social lives seem like a tidal wave rather than the gentle ripples that occur when we attempt to dialogue: slowing down, listening, reflecting, and asking questions to understand.  Where is there hope when people seem to rush to judgment or make decisions without dialogue or discourse?  These impulses seem to dwarf the steps attempted by dialogue.

Hope Supports
(Disappearing Monarch, The CommonSenseCanadian)
As I reviewed articles about the migration of the Monarch Butterfly from Canada to Mexico, one story noted that a single gene is responsible for their ability to migrate.  The impact of this one gene causes millions to travel thousands of miles, filling the skies and trees with a beautiful mosaic of fluttering wings in motion.
Hope Emerges
(An Increase in Numbers, Daily Mail-UK)
Do you think there is a gene that would help us as we move through the changes ahead?  Could the gene create a need to connect rather than divide?  Could it be a desire to improve ourselves and others rather than diminish?  Could it provide a hope to be understood and to understand?

I believe that practicing dialogue skills will help us find the answers to these questions.  It would be an opportunity to move from Either - Or thinking to hearing and thoughtfully exploring Both - And options.  All may be true!
Hope Transforms
Let's take a field trip together this week!  As an exercise to transform ourselves from our insulated ways of being to a singular and collective beauty, let's turn on the 'migration gene' by practicing one or more of the Dialogue Skills suggested by Chris Argyris and his colleagues:

  •  Combine advocacy with inquiry
     Invite others into your viewpoint, allowing them to explore and understand.
    ("What do you think?")
  •  Illustrate abstract interpretations with concrete information
     Provide information or data that supports your claim.
    ("This is what I read or considered in my approach.")
  •  Share your thought process; check for agreement along the Ladder of Inference
     Seek to understand assumptions, meanings, and conclusions.
    ("This is how I came to this conclusion...")
  •  Look for contradicting data and alternative explanations
     Test the conclusions by seeking new ideas and other experiences.
    ("Are you aware of any other information or thoughts?)
  •  Support making mistakes in the service of learning
     Overcome defended responses by learning from mistakes.
    ("Oops!  I didn't consider that perspective.")
  •  Notice your own impact on a situation
     Become aware of how different roles and communication styles impact dialogue.
    ("I noticed that you became quiet and didn't respond.  Was it because of...?")
  •  Experiment to test different views
     Use various methods to test other explanations.
     ("Let's try it your way.")

May this week allow us to migrate away from our predictable behaviors and actions toward an interdependence on who we are meant to become together: Hope Rippling Outward!

Larry Gardepie
Dialogue San Diego Consulting

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Hope Continues: A Time to Listen and Reflect

Have you noticed when storm clouds move in how our day-to-day activities change: limited mobility due to rain, ice or snow; layering of clothing to protect and keep warm and dry; cautious actions as we drive or walk?  The clouds signal that change is coming; and our perceptions, history, and interpretations influence the actions we decide upon.

As the storm lingers or winter progresses, we may find that our moods shift as we look toward brighter days.  But even with this shift, we may find ourselves entrenched in the protective layering that we created to survive the bleak, cold, wintry days of our past storms.

Hope Continues: storm clouds bring life-giving waters
As a child, did you sit with a friend and name the shapes you saw in the clouds as they floated by: the clouds moving on the winds that changed and reshaped the images before our eyes?

Through the eyes of a child and the lens of imagination, we created relationships that are remembered to this day.  We listened.  We reflected.  We shared.  Through this very human activity of seeking meaning and understanding, our social fabric was created and our spirits  united.

Hope Continues: calm waters reflect Beauty from Above
Looking back on the adult divisions of the past months, I have wondered when I lost the ability or desire to imagine, create, and become that Unity experienced in this childhood activity?
  • Was it when I encountered others different than myself?  Maybe I don't know how to listen.
  • Was it when I made choices that distanced rather than connected?  Maybe I don't see Sacred Worth and Value in Self and Other.
  • Was it when the storm clouds of dissension encouraged caution?  Maybe I remain layered in ways that protect me.
  • Was it when I assumed we could no longer speak our minds without accepting the Truth of Other?  Maybe I want the clouds to reflect only the shapes I see and experience.
Hope Continues: sunrises call forth hope for another day
Clouds teach us to seek out beauty: in a glowing sunrise, Hope dawning for another day; in a fading sunset , reminding us to reflect on the setting day.  Hope Continues from beginning to end when we slow down and notice the colorful scenery of Nature and Humanity surrounding us.  Rising and setting suns with ever-shifting clouds, these mark the passing days of our lives:  moments of Reflection, Awareness, Sharing, and Connection. 

We are told that we are living in historic times.  Is this true because of major players in limited events?  Or is it because each day becomes part of the historical fabric where We have played significant roles?  I choose the latter truthWe are the clouds that shift on the human landscape, creating beautiful and sacred images!  What do you think?
Hope Continues: when we listen and reflect
(Images from New York Times: credits noted online)
Maybe It is time to sit back with a friend and relearn our childhood Lessons of CloudsAs we notice and imagine, share our dreams and thoughts, let's consider these questions this week: 
  • Are there clouds in your life that need to be recognized?
  • What protects you from hearing another truth?
  • How might you reflect on each moment and accept another person's experience?

May this week allow us to seek all the Hopes that Continue!

Larry Gardepie
Dialogue San Diego Consulting

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Hope Happens: A Decision to Listen

I created a series of business cards this past year announcing Dialogue San Diego.  In sharing these cards with friends and acquaintances, it has been interesting to notice which cards are selected.  The favorites seem to be the ones with a photo of a Zen Garden, a set of stone steps descending, or two empty deck chairs.

I wonder what attracts us to what we like?  Or, when we are in a difficult situation, what keeps us locked in or set apart?  It seems that humans make hundreds, if not thousands, of judgments and decisions each day!  How do we know what we consider to be 'right' for us or what we like or don't like?  I have found in my life that some choices change depending on the situation.  Do they for you?

Who would you want to sit with?
The photo of the two deck chairs is probably my favorite!  The story behind the photo:  a few years ago, a friend and I were staying at a lodge on the Kenai Peninsula (Alaska).  At various times throughout the day, we would spend time on this deck sitting, talking, sharing the day's events... and listening... to the wind rustling in the forest below, to the birds chirping as they flew overhead, and to one another.  Whenever I see this picture, fond memories surface... as well as a sense of peace.  This photo reminds me that we are in relationship through dialogue: the act of being... sharing, listening, and reflecting.

When do you choose to sit apart?
I also know there are times when I have chosen to sit apart from others:
  • When trying to unravel my thoughts;
  • When needing to be still and listen to an Inner Voice;
  • When in a difficult situation where I cannot move or don't know how to respond; or,
  • When in pain and unable to share that moment.
It seems that there are times when words cannot express what we are thinking and feelingDialogue invites us to notice... and when we are able, to share our thoughts and feelings.

How long have your chairs sat empty and unused?
This past week, while in Portland on a business trip, the region was hit with another snow and ice storm.  Offices were shut down: 'Local Employees' in my company could not get in to work; 'Remote Employees' -- like myself who were in town for a few days -- trekked across the icy block from the hotel to the corporate offices.  During one trip when I had to walk slowly and deliberately for fear of slipping on the ice, I photographed  a scene of snow-covered chairs.  I wondered when the last time someone sat in this placeI wondered how often sitting apart has separated me from people I know, love, or don't understand.  I wondered how fear keeps us going along the icy pathways of our lives, instead of sitting, listening, and being warmed by the presence of another.  And, I wondered if there are scenes we don't see just because we don't slow down

This musing captured me the rest of the day.  There were times when I would become silent... and I knew it was time to explain my thoughts.  There were times when I missed what another person said... and I knew it was time to listen more deeply.  There were times when I didn't understand another person... and I knew it was time to ask clarifying questions.

I found that when I moved away from my inward tendencies and attempted to explain my reasoning or ask the other person for clarification, we were connected.  Dialogue beganIt was as if our inner thoughts, judgments, and decisions -- when shared -- moved us from  separation to relationship.  Hope happened!

When do you see the Sacred in the Other?
It is through dialogue -- talking, listening, and reflecting -- that we are attracted, even in difficult situations, to the Sacred Worth and Value of the other person.

Our invitation this week is to consider:
  • Who do you want to sit with?
  • Is there something you want to say?  To hear?
  • How do you enter dialogue: expecting you know or anticipating surprise?

May this week open us to hope... as we make a decision to listen and as we seek the Sacred Within!

Larry Gardepie
Dialogue San Diego Consulting

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Adjusting to the New Year: Diving into Contrasts

I am proud of myself!  I haven't written 2016 all week!  But, to be honest, in many other ways I am having a hard time with this new year.  The constant news of transition planning - with the objective to erase one person's legacy for another, and the incessant pushing and pulling of differing visions... as if one way is Right and another is Wrong...  I am at a loss of how this is important in our daily lives.  I guess I am seeking truth and struggling with perspective.

Can you help?  Maybe read the following, and let me know what you think.

In his most recent book, Last Testament: In His Own Words, Benedict XVI was asked about the difference between the goals in his pontificate and those of the current pope, Francis.  The reporter's question sought to compare and contrast, to provide distinction and opposition.  I found Benedict's response intriguing:
"If one isolates things, takes them out of context, one can construct opposites, but not if one looks at the whole.  There may be a different emphasis, but no opposition."

What draws your attention?
(Westfield San Francisco Centre)
Does this mean that we spend too much time looking for separate and contrasting views rather than seeking the meaning and importance of the wholeDoes it mean that we tend to focus on those who agree with us rather than on the overall journey of Discovery, no matter where it leads?  I wonder what it would be like to train ourselves to seek a more expansive view?

In the past, I found the following questions important as I transitioned from one year to the next - I guess, a way to compare and contrast my experiences:
  • What did I accomplish last year?
  • Where would I like to be at the end of this new year?

But I wonder what it would be like to step back and ask a different set of questions?
  • What values do I choose to live by?... followed by...  What values are important to you?
  • How might my life have meaning?... followed by...  Can I tell you how meaningful you are in my life?
Are you ready to suspend judgment?
(Under the Dome, San Francisco Centre)
It seems that when I move away from MY way of looking at the world, I begin to see anew a broader and more exciting world:  Home.  It may mean that... A tree can be suspended upside down...  A child can provide wise counsel...  Another person can hold valid truths that may differ from my own.  It may mean that we need one another: for separately, I am alone and talking to myself, but together, I am ready to journey with you.  It may mean that dialogue encourages The Parts to become The Whole.  With dialogue, Right and Wrong become meaning-less words; and we become more open to and seek out the meaning-filled Truth in each other.

Dialogue invites us to adjust to the new Paths ahead.  It does not mean that we let go of the values or visions that have sustained us.  Rather, dialogue asks that we withhold judgment and conclusions as we listen for the Depth of Truth that permeates the whole of Life.  It is as if we are called to dive into the Unknown together... knowing that together, we will be surprised when we arrive!

Are you ready to plunge to new depths?
(Mazatlan cliff divers)
Questions to ponder this week:
  • What do you like about yourself?... followed by...  What do you like about [insert Person's Name]?
  • When do you feel alone and listening only to yourself?... followed by... When do you feel together and in dialogue with another?
  • How might you adjust your view about Self and Other?.... followed by... How might you seek out the views of others? 
May the challenges of this new week allow you to dive into the depths of who You are - and who We are together!  (BTW: I am interested in hearing what you think!)

Larry Gardepie
Dialogue San Diego Consulting