Sunday, October 29, 2017

Reflections: What Do We See... and When?

Early one morning I was standing at a window looking outside, trying to see the ocean and the port our ship was approaching.  The light inside was much stronger than outside, where it was still dark.  Instead of seeing outside, I was looking at a reflection of myself in the window.

Reflection:  Looking Inward
Once the sun began to lighten the world outside, my reflection could still be seen... but it was diminished as I began to focus on the waters and land beyond.  The dialogue skills came to mind: what lessons could I learn from the images reflected on the window and beyond?

It took time for the sun to rise and re-balance what could be seen... just as it takes time for me to become aware of what is happening within myself and to those around me.  Dialogue encourages us to explore these Within-Moments and What-Have-I-Missed Experiences.

Reflection:  Seeing Outward

As I walked around the ship's Promenade Deck thinking about the inward and outward flow of dialogue, I turned the corner of the ship and came upon a glorious sunrise that exploded with color across the clouds and over the water!

As we practice Dialogue, we will be challenged to:
  • Turn inward and notice:  what values and meanings we have attached to experiences, and the conclusions we have made about people in our lives;
  • Turn outward with curiosity:  to seek and accept how others encounter the world; and,
  • Wait patiently... but with anticipation:  for the surprises that awaken us as we encounter an enlightened understanding of Self and Others.

Reflection:  Waiting to be Surprised!

Questions to consider this week:
  • When I look at my reflection in the mirror:  What do I see?  What do I think?  What do I feel?
  • When I am with loved ones, friends, and work colleagues:  What do I hear?  What do I expect?  How do I react?
  • When I am surprised:  Is the surprise about me, or what I discovered in others? 

May this week open us to inward and outward reflections which will enlighten us and provide beautiful surprises!

Larry Gardepie
Dialogue San Diego Consulting

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Working to See Beyond... Yesterday

Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night or early the next day thinking about a conversation or experience of the previous day?  I do!  My introverted nature holds onto and examines... movies I have seen days earlier... stories I am reading... conversations with friends and work colleagues... the tasks I didn't complete the day before...

The list goes on and on about how I process the words and experiences of past hours and days.  It is almost like looking through a gateway in the wall:  remembering and cherishing a view beyond the wall while being constrained by the Wall of Time surrounding me!

Looking Beyond the Old City Walls
(Southampton, England)
At times, these reflective moments provide insights on lessons learned or life events that provide direction and hope.  I wonder, though, as I move inward:  am I missing out on the present moments that are gifting my life now?

In a way, the Dialogue skills become a Gateway for reflection and curiosity.  Holding past and present gently, I am able to explore the wall of memories by walking through the present gateway, connecting past with present.  This transition moves us from from
Either-Or thinking (Past-or-Present) to one that allows Both-And being (Past-and-Present).  That is, when dialogue is practiced, we begin to see Both-at-Once, moving from fragmentation and limitations towards integration and wholeness.

The Ability to See Old and New at the Same Time
(Southampton, England)
The dialogue skills of Advocacy and Inquiry, Explaining Your Thought Process, and Learning from Mistakes take on additional meaning when we move through this Both-And portal.  We transition from individuals who are reflecting on Self and Self-Needs to People-Connected, focusing on outward interaction and interdependence.  Truth expands as we gather and share our individual Life Lessons.  These become the Story-of-Who-We-Are... now!

Thus, our core humanity allows similarities and differences to coexist, to rest side by side.

Lighting the Core of Who We Are... Together!
(Southampton, England)
We are still bound by limitations of time, but being connected through dialogue opens the possibility that we will share not only our diverse thoughts and experiences but maybe even those resources we guard so dearly.  Through dialogue, a limited Self-focus is transformed into solutions expanded for the Common Unity (Community).

Questions to consider this week:
  • When do I notice that I am focusing only on my needs or wants? 
  • How might I balance these needs with the needs of others? 
  • What core values are important to me?

May this week provide experiences which transform us from seeing through the portals of the past to opportunities where we see Both -- You and Me -- and Us!

Larry Gardepie
Dialogue San Diego Consulting

Saturday, October 14, 2017

A Matter of Perspective: Stepping Out... Together

Working recently with an executive leadership team, I had the opportunity to observe how the team interacted while completing a shared task.  The task seemed simple: together, build a structure using 35 colored wood blocks.

Prior to beginning the task, each person was given an envelop with unique instructions or a prop:

  • One person received photos of what the finished structure should look like. 
  • Another person received detailed instructions on how to build the structure. 
  • The remaining individuals received something to wear: either a sleep/eye mask, a mouth mask, or headphones (to listen to music). 

The photos and instructions could not be shown to the other team members, but the information on these or the other props could be freely shared with others.

My focus during the team's interactions:  how does this leadership team complete their organization's  objectives, participating equally, when each person comes with different talents and gifts?

One Perspective (view from the front):
seeing what is before you
As facilitator, I gave very short directions prior to starting the task: build a structure with the 35 colored blocks using the information or props distributed to the various team members.  No one was named leader.  No one was put in charge.  The goal:  build the structure as a team using the information or props available.

Isn't life like this?  Each of us has received various gifts and talents -- some realized and some not yet discovered -- with the goal of making it through life somewhat successfully!  We may see our life through the filters of these talents and experiences.  Our roles and responsibilities may create lenses that limit what we see.  Possibly, we may miss out on other perspectives and points of view.

This executive team had to figure out, with very little shared information, how to use what they individually possessed to help the team build the structure.  The team members with the photos (Vision) and instructions (Plan) tried to communicate how to create the block structure to members who could not see (eye mask), speak (mouth mask), or hear (headphones).

Another Perspective (view from the back):
the ability to see behind what is revealed
Observations -- and Questions -- for us to consider:
  • Observation:  Even though two individuals could not directly disclose the photos and instructions (e.g., look at these photos; read these instructions), they did not tell others they had additional information (e.g., I know what the structure should look like; I can tell you how to build the structure).
    Question:  What keeps me from sharing with others the information I possess or any observations I have made?
  • Observation:  The individuals who could not see, speak, or hear never mentioned their limitations.  The two people who had the Vision and the Plan never realized they had limitations of their own and did not invite everyone to participate.
    Question:  When I perceive that someone may have a limitation or when I notice that someone may not be participating fully, do I take the time to share what I am observing and ask questions?
  • Observation:  The person who could not speak found ways to participate and get her ideas across: she used pen and paper, writing down her questions; she used sign language to get people's attention or to point to an object in question.
    The persons who could not see or hear, interestingly enough, did not speak as well even though they had the ability to speak.
    Question:  Do my limitations create or compound limitations in others?  Do I take on someone else's limitations without realizing it?
Other Perspectives (side views):
sometimes a slight shift will present a different view
Dialogue practices and skills require a shift in perspective when it comes to the simplicity and complexity of our social and work structures:
  • Am I willing to share openly my limitations? 
  • Am I willing to check out the limitations I have perceived or projected on others? 
  • Am I able to shift my views or perspectives so that I can see beyond the position held by someone else?

May this week allow us to shift slightly so that we can view life anew!

Larry Gardepie
Dialogue San Diego Consulting

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Stories and Puzzles: What We See and Imagine (Part 2)

[Click here to read Part 1 of 'Stories and Puzzles:  What We See and Imagine'.]

Nineteen people at our Dialogue retreat were given 60 puzzle pieces each and asked to  assemble their puzzle.  Memories of childhood; liking or not liking jigsaw puzzles; cherished family time; frustration at not feeling adequate... Isn't it amazing what memories and emotions bubble up as we encounter simple and complex tasks in our daily lives?

For the retreat participants, though, individual assembly of the pieces was only the beginning!  A period of Speed Puzzling occurred:  people met in pairs and quickly described five key descriptors of the puzzle section they possessed.  We were asked to share what we saw and imagined, and then move on to the next person... seeing how many people we could meet in ten minutes!  The goal?  To gather as much information as possible in a limited amount of time!  Doesn't this sometimes describe life in our fast-paced world?

Seeing Alone:  how much can you see?
After Speed Puzzling, the participants were given time to reflect individually on what information was gathered.  Was it helpful?  Did it raise any thoughts about the descriptors shared?  What was missing?  What assumptions or questions were present?

Next, we met in larger groups.  Instead of speed puzzling - sharing as much information as possible in a short amount of time, people were allowed to share additional information, ask questions, and check out assumptions in a more relaxed environment.

Up until this point, no one could look at another person's puzzle section.  It was all verbal.  So much like our energetic, verbal world!  We talk!  Now, though, the pace had slowed down and people were invited to listen and ask questions.  More information was shared more freely and compared against the Puzzle-Reality each person possessed.

Seeing Together:  comparing what we see... and don't see
We were finally allowed to reveal our puzzle sections and assemble them.  One of the assumptions that had begun to surface was whether people saw or imagined the same end:  Did we all have sections of the same puzzle?  Or were there several puzzles in play?

When we had the opportunity to see and assemble all of the sections, Reality became obvious:  there were three puzzles in play!  Some of the information gathered may not have been meant for the puzzle I envisioned and tried to assemble.  But, it was relevant and important in another context!

Seeing All:  there may be more than what we imagine
I wonder:
  • How often are we caught up in Speed Puzzling, quickly sharing and gathering parts of the our reality?
  • Are we willing to Engage Reflectively, rather than reflexively: providing more information; explaining our thought processes; asking questions; and providing context and detail that may have been assumed, overlooked, or deemed irrelevant?
  • Can we entertain the possibility that there may be more than one Life-Puzzle: that what we see and experience individually may not be relevant in all situations?

May this week provide moments of reflection which open us to a much broader picture: we are blessed with an abundance of Life-Puzzles!

Larry Gardepie
Dialogue San Diego Consulting