Sunday, March 26, 2017

A Tribute: Honoring Those Who Listen and Guide

"Do you really believe what you just said?"  That was the question Scott posed to me following the first supervisory training session that I co-facilitated.  Responding that I believed in this new approach to supervision, Scott said, "Let's make it happen!"  Sometimes it takes a question to move us forward -- from appearance and words to heart-inspired action.  Sometimes it takes a coworker or friend to listen, challenge, and encourage.

Attending Scott's memorial service this weekend, I have been wondering about how my life  has changed due to well-timed questions offered by colleagues, friends and loved ones.  Scott's question was asked over twenty years ago, yet my journey of Making It Happen continues to unfold and change my life.  Unlike earlier, I am now aware that I must listen... and answer... from the heart.

A Tribute to Those Who Listen
Listening to the life stories from Scott's family and friends, I realize how little I actually knew  Scott.  Twenty years ago I experienced him in his role as a departmental assistant director as filtered through my role as human resources assistant director.  Over time we became friends, sharing meals together, and co-training several times.  But his life stories revealed that he was so much more!

It seems that our various roles and responsibilities restrict us to viewing limited facets of the Whole.   In other words,  as we pass through these lives, we may come to understand only a fraction of what others think and feelNew questions begin to emerge:  "Who are you?" and "What lives on?"

A Tribute to the Varied Paths We Take
Depending upon upbringing, faith or spiritual journeys, and so many other aspects of our belief systems, our understanding of Life -- and Death -- may be quite different and individualJust consider the second question...  what lives on:
  • After a Loved One dies?
  • At the end of each day?
  • When we leave a meeting or interaction with others?
What lives, and what dies?  What is important to remember, and what will we pass along?  These ponderings and questions now merge into a question --  "Who are you that I want to live on in me?" -- and a statement -- "I want who you are to live on in me."

A Tribute to Those Who Encourage
and Journey with Us

Scott's passing through my life brings to mind two wonderful images:
  • We are a tapestry of many threads woven together to create a colorful portrait greater than any single one-color thread.
  • We are involved in a friendly paintball game, where we each splash the other with the primary colors of our lives; and we are forever changed as we are touched by and take on another participant's colorful life!
Each image suggests that I have an opportunity to die to my mono-chromed SCRs (Socially Constructed Realities) and belief systems and live on in a transformed technicolored landscape of Us.  The beliefs and stories we know and hold onto begin to change because of the vulnerability to ask questions, the courage to listen and respond, and the encouragement to believe... in Us.  We become  challenged to go deeper... into the death and life of each moment and each other.

A Tribute to Those who Challenge Us
to Go Deeper
Today, let us consider those people who have guided us thus far in our journey by asking "Who are you that I want to live on in me?" or stating "I want who you are to live on in me."
  • Call forth names and memories of mentors and friends who have inspired you.
  • Identify the changes in your life drawn forth by these people.
  • Acknowledge and pay tribute this week in a way that honors you and them.
    (Examples: journal about or pray for these people; call or send thank yous to them; share the questions and what you have learned.)

May we be thankful for our mentors, colleagues, friends and loved ones -- those whose lives are intertwined with ours!

Larry Gardepie
Dialogue San Diego Consulting

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Questions Within Questions: Where Do We Start?

In a recent meeting, I noticed that I was quieter than normal, listening intently to the questions addressed by colleagues to our supervisor and their subsequent interchange.  I was silent because something was stirring within me:
  • I was aware that I too needed answers about the priority, decisions, and direction of our projects, but
  • I was experiencing déjà vu - a sense that I had experienced this situation many times before.
I realized later that the noticed familiarity was my continued attempt at ordering my life.  As a former project manager, I sought structure, a way to understand what was needed or expected.

Questions: building a case for structure
-- the balance between order and chaos
I recalled other times when I sought to bring clarity, understanding, and harmony between people.  I was told then that I often asked questions that could not be answered at that moment, and that my need for structure and harmony -- taking unrelated bits of information and adding meaning by bringing them together -- could block or become a barrier for others.  My focus on A Question, seeking The Answer, or the other person's inability to answer might be at the expense of the relationship.

Questions:  building a case for harmony
- the gracefulness of when to Lead and Follow
What I have been learning from our Dialogue Practice is the art of asking questions... and, just as importantly, asking at the appropriate time!  It seems that the elements of curiosity and discovery are key to the question being asked -- unlocking the actual question or answer and opening the door to what is beyond.

Example:  in the past, I have experienced My Question (seeking clarity) as separate from Your Answer (adding a dimension that I did not expect).  But now, I am learning that The Journey of searching for the Question-within-the-Question illuminates the path of intention and motivation behind the question... and brings us together for the next question and answer.  We walk through the doorway together!

Questions: building a case to see within
- the ability to discover the Whole

As we continue on our unpredictable journey of discoverability, let us consider the following:
  • Why am I asking this question of another person?
  • Where does this question fall within the continuum of our relationship?
  • What happens if I hear answers different than what I expected or wanted to hear?
  • How might I hold lightly the question, the answers, the relationship, and the journey?
  • What next? 

May this next week provide us many opportunities to experience the 'What Next?' of our journey -- through the questions we ask; the answers we give; and the ability to discover... the Truth to be Revealed... in Us!

Larry Gardepie
Dialogue San Diego Consulting

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Picture This: What Do You See?

Family photos!  Vacation photos!  What do you notice about yourself when viewing or sharing photos?  I find that I get drawn in by the images... and, truthfully, I don't always fully listen to or remember the stories.  (Sorry to those who have shared their pix and stories!)  Instead, I notice that I retreat inward, create an alternative story about what I am viewing, and wonder what it was like to have lived that momentI enjoy the captured smiles, the laughter, and the Gift of Story:  memories and experiences frozen in time.

Let me share this first picture from a recent vacationWhat catches your attention?  What stories come to mind: Memories relived from your own experience?  Reminisces from other peopleMoments from television or a movie?  Or, do you make up your own version, an image of an 'island paradise'?

Waikiki Beach: a winter scene
I wonder if we are born Storytellers.  It seems that we add what we know or believe to the initial experience or image.  Then, assumptions and meaning are mixed in as we try to interpret and understand.

The baseline snapshot becomes a starting point for our fertile minds: the Story may grow in many different directions and dimensions very quickly.  It is as if Ready-Set-Go blends into one action as we traverse the varied dimensions of fact and truth, imagination and dreams, hope and aspiration... and more!
Same winter scene: from a new angle... What is different?
This second photo was taken on the same wintry day in Oahu as the first photo, but only a few minutes and several yards apart:
  • The first photo:  a single view, facing westward;
  • The second photo:  a panoramic view, facing north but capturing elements of west, north, and east.
Both show the same relative location but create entirely different images of a Waikiki moment.

I wonder, as we look around us at the places we visit and the people we encounter:
  • How do we test what we are seeing and experiencing?
  • What happens when we change our perspective?
  • In what ways do we listen to and/or accept competing or differing views? 
  • Are we willing to check out conclusions that may offer a distorted view of the facts?
Public 'Jenga' competition: choosing what facts
to pull, hoping the structure won't crash
I watched with fascination as four adults played Jenga with oversized wood blocks.  Each person carefully tested various pieces to determine which piece could be safely removed.  The actions of removing the piece and placing it on top of the structure were both important to maintain a balanced structure.

This reminded me of our Dialogue practice:
  • Seeking opportunities to test assumptions.
  • Inviting Self and Others to check out meanings and conclusions.
  • Hoping that realities and relationships can remain balanced as we explore and discover new meaning.
  • Accepting that we learn from mishaps, mistakes and falling structures.
  • Holding lightly and with sacredness the experiences that bind us.  

May this week provide Jenga-moments of testing, risking, and learning!

Larry Gardepie
Dialogue San Diego Consulting