Master Facilitator Journal | Issue #0329, January 29, 2008


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This week's article, The Art of Exceptional Facilitation, is about living the practice of letting go. Have you ever experienced a profound dialogue or outcome with a group and wondered how it came about in such an eloquent way?

This article sheds light on the process that creates space for tapping into such profound intelligence. We certainly hope the article inspires you to making the practice of letting go a habit.

Upon long last, the paperback version of Steve's new book, This Meetings Sux.
12 Acts of Courage to Change Meetings for Good
arrives and begins shipping this week. See details about our special offer at the end of this issue.

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This Meeting Sux
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Journey of Facilitation Workshop

The Point

The Art of Exceptional Facilitation
Living the practice

Intervention Skill

Facilitation is an art of creating space for groups to naturally share their innate wisdom. There are no experts. Exceptional facilitation is a life-long discipline, a practice that enables the art of letting go.

A great way for facilitators to learn is from the organic process inherently known to artists. A master sculptor uses her creativity to first see the living formation present as the final master piece within the rock. The formation comes to life because there is no separation between the creator, creating and creation. In that moment of seeing, the artist lets go of all pre-conceived notions and embraces the process of becoming. It is in letting go that the separation dissolves and something new is born

For facilitators, the creation is in seeing the living intelligence of groups and letting go to allow the collective wisdom to emerge.

In our corporate culture, the mechanics of what and how carry more weight than the simple art of being. While the mechanics are critical for planning and designing, if not balanced with the art of being, they can become a source of burden during the facilitation process.

A skilled facilitator invests time and energy into planning, designing and the art of letting go. When time comes to facilitate, she lets go of the ego, results, knowledge, structure and at times even the agenda. The letting go allows her to be fully present to the group, where she becomes one with the process of facilitation and the group. Very much like a brilliant demonstration I saw of Evelyn Glennie, a deaf percussionist. She led the audience through an exploration of music as an expression of human experience. Her demonstration was soul provoking as she taught the audience to listen to the music with the whole body. Her words and expressions were conveyed with conviction as she spoke of the importance of listening first to yourself, including your emotions and intent.

The most striking memory was listening to the two sounds, with the stick held tightly vs. loosely. The tightly held stick created a thud like sound and the loosely held stick created a magical sound. Evelyn explains that soul moving music is created when the percussionist becomes one with the stick. You need not hold on to something you are a part of. In Evelyn’s words, ‘not holding on too tight creates a lot more dynamic with far less effort.’

Evelyn shows that to fully enjoy the music one must tune into the subtle nuance and feel the resonance of music in the body. Merely listening with the ear creates sound or even noise, but does not create soul provoking music. Similarly to facilitate and bring the wisdom of the group to the surface requires more than mere knowledge and planning. It requires tuning in to the subtle nuance and creating space for a dialogue to take place where something new can be born.


How many times do we hold on to ideas and knowledge in a rigid way? In letting go we trust the right action or no action to show up at the precise time, as it is part of the process. In this letting go, we actively listen, participate and are fully engaged in the moment, thus creating the open space for an effortless dialogue to take place.

A good point to start while facilitating is by asking a simple question:
Are we feeling a sense of restriction or a sense of freedom?

Restriction is a good indicator that we are holding on too tight to a judgment, belief, doubt, or some notion. When restriction is felt, stay open and bring your attention to the present moment and breathe.

A break through requires the practice of self awareness and presence. Being fully present without a trace of rigidness is embracing the ‘art of being’. Facilitators are not experts; however, they are meaningful contributors who draw the expertise from the group.


I contribute in a meaningful way when I let go of my need to be right or look good or score high and am willing to be a part of the group by trusting the collective wisdom of the group.

The days I am able to fulfill my inner relationship through self awareness and reflection, I let go easily. I have inner strength to see beyond the pettiness of rigidity. I have the mental clarity to see through things with wisdom. And the days I am unable to attend to my inner relationship with the self and jump right into work, I am less effective as I lose my fluidity, my inner strength weakens and I misplace my sense of equilibrium.

What practice can you partake to heighten your self-awareness?

This week's Offer

This Meeting SuxThis Meeting Sux. 12 Acts of Courage to Change Meetings for Good

Buy either the ebook or paperback version by this Friday and receive a 50% discount on any other FacilitatorU product!
Offer presented on Thank You Page after purchase.

You’ve said it, heard it, thought it, or felt it, perhaps all too often. You may have tried to initiate improvements in meetings but you gave up because it was too much work, or you felt alone in your efforts. Maybe you decided that running meetings is the meeting leader’s responsibility and is not up to you. Or perhaps you were overcome with frustration, and simply unequipped with the knowledge and skills necessary to do anything. Yes, this meeting sux. And, this presents you with an opportunity to transform meetings, and in the process, your group and your life.

But what can you do if you’re not in charge?
This is the first book written to specifically answer this question. This is the first practical guide that contains the knowledge, skills, and action steps that you, as a meeting participant, can use to change meetings for good.

   Quick but effective action steps you can take immediately to change the course of your next meeting, whether you're the designated leader or not!

  Strategies to shift your attitude so that your communication has greater impact.

   Tools you need to become an empowered participant to pave the way for advancing your career.

Click here to take advantage of this special offer.

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