Sunday, June 24, 2018

Singularly in Unison: When do we become I-We?

I have always been fascinated by the balance and harmony between individual and group performance.  We see examples in music, sports, organizations, religion, politics, and so many other arenas - where individuals develop and offer their Best Self to help create or address a unified vision, achievement, or solution.

I recall in high school, four students formed a Barbershop Quartet, performing at student rallies and events that showcased the school.  The individual voices, strong in and of themselves, blended together to create a sound which represented each person's Oneness and the group's Wholeness simultaneously.  There may have been one person leading the group, but what was observed was each person leading and adding to the outcome at different times.

Why have One Lead when there can be Many?
(Photo Credit: - Too Many People Singing)
Even though I love to sing, I never learned to read music -- or to associate the written notes with my personal vocal range.  As I sing at church or other events, I find it interesting to listen with intent: 
  • Do I hear my voice?
  • Can I change focus to hear the person next to me?
  • What happens when I listen to the whole room?

It seems that as I shift outward -- from self to other to Other -- a new awareness occurs: 
  • I can hear and honor each one of these individual voices, AND
  • I belong to something larger than myself.

Is it possible that each reality is true... and possibly, true at the same time?  It seems that the emergence of our Best Self and the Oneness with Other moves us beyond noise and distraction to purpose and meaning.

 When are We too Many?
(Photo Credit:  Express - Residents Complain - Noisy Church Choir)
I wonder if we can apply these thoughts to the events of this past week:  events in our personal lives and what we have witnessed in the public arena?  Whether we were sickened, horrified, and threatened... or accepted and approved... any of this recent history, all responses have occurred.  Can we accept that each is valid?  Can we come together and work toward goals that honor our Better Selves and the Whole?

For me, I am reminded of the first time I attended a symphony performance.  I was hypnotized by the four sections of the orchestra (string, woodwind, brass and percussion).  Watching the bows in the string section move in unison; experiencing the clarity of the woodwind instruments; hearing the strength and depth of the brass; and feeling the rhythm of percussion... all of these, individually and as a whole, added wonder and excitement.  The orchestra could not exist without the individuals nor the whole.

How do we honor Each One and All?
(Photo Credit:  New York Orchestra and Choral Music)

Maybe one solution to our current dilemma is to find language and experiences that bind us.  Moving away from focusing primarily on "I" (individual) or "We" (whole), I wonder what it would look like if we replaced I and We with "I-We" - both the strength and the beauty of the individual voices, honored and harmonized with the people and world around us.

Questions to consider:
  • What would it mean if each person held a portion of the truth?
  • How would I listen differently?

Maybe it is time to listen for the simplicity and clarity of each voice and become the instruments to understand and accept the complexity and blending of all truths!

May this week provide you moments of self-clarity and other-harmony!

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Sunday, June 17, 2018

The Tireless Pursuit of All Things...

Mission and vision statements...  corporate and personal.  Have you ever been asked to participate in the creation or revision of proclamations that describe shared or personal values and goals?  I have!

I was fascinated with my first encounter: being asked what I thought; working collaboratively to verbalize common ideals; listening deeply and accepting compromise.  The process was energizing... but also very challenging:  I could visualize the outcome but I was weaker during the constant wordsmithing to select the "perfect words" to describe who we were and wanted to become.

In later years, when invited to review and reshape earlier statements, I found that I was less energetic, more reserved, and maybe a little cynical!  Had we accomplished anything since the previous statements were articulated and communicated?  Or was this all for show:  For Outward Appearance Only?

Tireless Pursuit of... Justice and Mercy
Recently, I came across several examples where companies and people seemed to enjoy what they valued:
  •  Sitting in a neighborhood Starbucks, I noticed the following phrase artistically painted on the wall:  "The Tireless Pursuit of All Things... Coffee."  The employees at this location are attentive, helpful, and will suggest new coffee-concoctions.
  • During a get-away trip to Avalon (Catalina Island), a Los Angeles sheriff enjoyed his interaction with the tourists in town for the Memorial Day weekend.
  • Watching the end of the San Diego Rock and Roll Marathon, runners and walkers seemed happy to reach the finish line... and family members and friends celebrated their achievement.

Tireless Pursuit of... Personal Best
I wonder:
  • What am I pursuing?
  • Where is my attention: perfect words or actions that reveal values I hold dear?
  • And, as a country, what are we tirelessly in pursuit of?

Tireless Pursuit of... Blending Shared Values

Through these years of dialogue training and practice, I can see instances where I have been energized by the blending together of ideas and goals.  I also recall instances where I have turned inward and haven't noticed the outward movement of Common-Unity (Community).

But, with the help of Awareness and Compassion, I am learning to hold lightly these memories of achievements and defeat, seeking instead to tirelessly pursue all things... Sacred:  You, Me, Us.  Together, the values that inwardly and outwardly bind us are worth pursuing!.

May this week provide moments when we feel the push and pull -- the blending together -- of shared and personal values!

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Treadmilling through Life: Where Are You Going?

When do you feel the most alive and plugged in?  When the rhythm of life is slower and you are able to connect with the people and world around you?  Or when the pace of life is faster and you are able to handle multiple projects and deadlines at the same time?  What attracts and keeps your attention?

Recently, I was working with employees at a local non-profit.  The opening activity was a ball toss:  employees were standing in a large circle, calling out the name of an individual across the circle, getting the person's attention, confirming that the person was ready to catch the ball... and then tossing the ball.  Through various stages of this exercise, people practiced how to consciously throw and catch the ball.  Eventually, four balls were sailing through the air at any one time!

Ideas Flying in All Directions
(Photo Credit:  Flying Paper, Shutterstock)
As we debriefed the exercise, I heard comments I was not expecting.  Some people said they were bored and weren't paying attention until there were four balls in motion.  Relating to their work responsibilities, they explained that they stay focused only when a project is complex and challenging.

That raised several questions for me:

  • When do I -- and others -- feel most connected with others?
  • Is our fast-paced world dictating how to keep up and engage?
  • What might we be missing when we are bored with a Life Pace that is contrary to our preferred Way of Being?

Racing to Keep Up
(Photo Credit:  A Foodie Stays Fit)
Becoming accustomed to a pace that balances or blends individual preferences with stimuli from diverse Ways of Becoming seems to be a rarity in our world.  Can I slow down when you need me to be present?  Can I quicken my pace when you need me to be where you are?

Noticing the Rarity of Diverse Ideas
(Photo Credit:  Wollongong Students' Friendship, Illawarra Mercury)

I am beginning to realize that the pace of life isn't necessarily about moving toward a goal or a destination.  Instead, the experience and wisdom of the Journey -- no matter how fast or slow -- allows us to travel through diverse landscapes and find pleasure with our companions.  Shared ideas -- explored through dialogue and reasoned conclusions, invite us to Roads Untraveled.

One final thought:  during the journey or at its end, can we admit that we are pleased to have "friends like you"?

May this week invite moments to slow down and speed up -- when friends seek our presence... no matter how we are and who we are becoming.

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Ideas and Feelings: In Transition and Emerging

The other day I was writing and rewriting an email.  Not only was I having difficulty identifying my thoughts about the situation I was describing, but I couldn't find words that adequately expressed what I was thinking and feeling.  Have you ever had one of those moments?

What about those times when we share an idea only to have it seemingly fall flat, or when we receive an unexpected response like anger?

At times like these, I feel self-conscious, inadequate, and unprepared.

Destructive Forces:  what did I say or do?
(Photo Credit:  Kilauea Volcano, Hawaii Public Radio
and U.S Geological Survey)
As we have seen in the media recently -- and possibly in our own lives... Words Matter!  Sometimes the words convey our innermost values and beliefs.  Other times, they attempt to shine a light on what is emerging.  And then, there are times when the words and values just don't match.

In dialogue communities of practice, we remind one another of Redo, the ability to step back from the situation, ask the other person what was said or heard, and seek permission to do-over the situation.  Like role playing, we take on and practice alternative words and actions.  We check in with the other person: was it any better?  And then we keep practicing until we find those words and actions that honor both individuals.

Unlike reruns on TV or at athletic events -- where the same actions and words are replayed over and over, a Redo allows us to try out or respond with untried options. The previous situation is sitting discarded in the background, but asking for a Redo allows both individuals to work together to improve where they left off:  trying something new; checking to see if the end result is better.  The initial event is tested against what is emerging.

Redo:  learning together

By adding Redo to our dialogue practice, the disruption to the relationship may be temporary, allowing grounds for new growth to emerge.

Reruns replay past events.  Redos focus on the future, how do we want to coexist.  We do not discard the earlier ideas and feelings, we use them to rebuild our understanding of what is important to the Other, and finding words and feelings that respect Self.

Beauty Emerges
(Photo Credit:  Mt. St. Helens Information Resource Center)
Questions to consider:
  • Have I noticed when my words and actions have disrupted a relationship?
  • Am I willing to move away from Reruns and move toward Redos?
  • What would a Redo look like?

May beauty continue to emerge for you this week in the relationships you value.

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)