Master Facilitator Journal | Issue #0331, February 12, 2008

 


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This week's article, It’s All About Me, is co-written by Steve and Neerja! The article is about transitioning from a personal view to a universal view. Please send your valued thoughts and comments to manager@facilitatoru.com.

Blessings,

Neerja & Deepak
Site Managers of FacilitatorU.com



 
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The Point


It's all about me

Knowing when to get out of your own way


Self Facilitation Skill


How many of us love the limelight and for that moment of shining we have come to do what we do. Whether we’re facilitating, leading or teaching, most of us want to be seen, heard, and acknowledged. I will be the first to admit that the limelight was one of my primary motivators for stepping into facilitation. Little did I know that through this wonderful practice of facilitation, I had unknowingly signed up for accelerated self-development. While being the focus of other’s attention was great for my pride, the tough situations were great for my humility. The real wisdom came from the challenging situations and the limelight provided the courage to keep going back in front of tough groups. Many times I wondered why I continued to put myself through the wringer. Then I’d remember the sweet rewards. I’d imagine the look on participant’s faces with gratitude towards me for changing their lives forever. Wow, I am a hero. Utter rubbish, these images I am painting, no matter how real they seem, are an illusion our ego projects.

I am sure you’ve heard the statement ‘one way of knowing that the process of facilitation has worked well is when you were invisible to the group.’ What does invisible mean to you?

Invisibility has nothing to do with disappearing in physical form and yet has everything to do with the absence of ego. What does absence of ego mean? It’s the absence of self-importance, absence of ‘I know it all’, absence of ‘I am superior,’ and so forth. In the truest sense, it means absence of ‘it is all about me.’ Being invisible is knowing when to get out of your own way.

There were always one or two participants who would challenge my knowledge and question my intention. Each time my ego was bruised by these challenges, I’d return home ignoring the 90% positive feedback and totally focused on the 10% negative feedback, looking at ways to dress the wounds of my ego. Through processing and reflecting on the tough situations over the years, I finally had an epiphany—facilitation is never about me. And it’s been a pure joy ever since!


Application


Mastery in any field ultimately requires practitioners to forget about themselves. This entails a shift in identity from: I’m the one leading this group, look at me! To, group leadership is happening and I’m a part of it. I will do my best work by being a present-time witness to what’s unfolding.

I’m an amateur guitar player and I love to improvise. When I was first learning, I had to pay great attention to everything I was doing and how I was doing it. I had to learn proper fingering technique, scales, and rhythm. I had to learn to play in the proper key and in time with the music. There was a great deal of focus on what I was doing.

In my growth as a musician, I’ve come to realize, much with the help of a wonderful teacher, that once I master the basic mechanics, my playing will advance to the next level not by focusing on my playing, but by listening to the music of those I’m playing with. In this place of deep listening, I take the music into my being and if I relax and release the desire to analyze what’s happening, I just play. Or perhaps it’s more accurate in these instances to say that I’m “played” by the music. And when I get completely out of the way, that’s what happens.

This is true in leading groups as well. Once we’ve mastered the basics of designing and running activities, listening, reflecting, and intervening, we can stop focusing on what we’re doing and shift our awareness entirely to the group. Then respond as we’re called to respond in the moment-to-moment situation as it unfolds. And when the day is over and the work is done, your participants will say, “Look at what we’ve done. Isn’t it wonderful!” And you will smile knowing that yes, the group did do their own work and they did it well. You will realize that you were smart enough to lay the groundwork and then get out of their way to let them do it. The fact that you were granted the honor to play this nearly invisible role will be all the satisfaction you need and you will look forward to doing it again. You’ll look forward to that blissful feeling of being an agent of the unfolding of nature’s best work.


Action


Most of us have grown up with an ‘It's all about me’ attitude. How and why this is so, is not as important as what we can do to embrace an ‘It's all about us’ attitude.

How can we take little actions to build the practice of ‘It’s all about us?’ Here is a suggestion for taking a small step in the direction.

The next time you facilitate, and someone throws a curve ball your way, instead of showing how well you catch the ball, miss the catch, pick up the ball, and gently and throw it back to the group. Then stand back and witness the wisdom of the group at its best. Notice the state of flow you experience because the group is shifting. Make it okay to not be the expert, even if you know the answers. Remember there is always more than one answer. When we become the expert, we stop learning and there is so much to learn that this lifetime is not enough.

You may never know how both you and the group will have changed. Relish the honor it is to be a Facilitator!

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Neerja

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