Facilitator Journal | Issue #0426, January 11, 2010
I'm in beautiful downtown Madison, Wisconsin this week delivering our increasingly popular Journey of Facilitation and Collaboration (JOFC) workshop. It's a tad bit nippy here, to say the least, so it's really easy to working inside all day. We have a wonderfully committed and talented group of facilitators and we look forward to a great week of learning and discovery with them. Several attendees are MFJ readers and it's a pleasure getting to know them in person! Our next workshop is scheduled for this coming June and we already have ten people on our waiting list ready to sign up. If you are interested, we'll be accepting June registrations on the site next week.
One of the most important self-facilitative
skills we focus on during this workshop, and the
hallmark of an advanced facilitator, is the ability to be truly
"present" in our groups. In this week's article, Your
Presence is Your Present to Your Group we explore what I
mean by being present, why it's important to facilitators
and group leaders, and some tips to practice this skill with your
I also developed a short seven-minute video related to this subject called, How to Stay Present as a Group Leader. Click here to view it.
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Your Presence is Your Present
to Your Group
Be a model of presence by residing in present moment awareness.
One of the attractive aspects of facilitation is that you don't have to
do the work for your group. Though sometimes, what you do have to do is
a lot harder. One of those things, which I see as the hallmark of an advanced
facilitator, is our ability to be truly "present" with our group.
Let's explore what I mean by being "present" and why it is important.
To be present, you have to release your attention to the past or the future
and invest your full attention in the present moment alone. In this state
of mind, paradoxically, you know nothing because your are applying your
brain power to fully experiencing what's happening with and among your
group. This is important because very few of us really ever live fully
in the present moment. When we do witness someone in this state, it's
powerful and transformative, not only for them but for everyone in their
presence. A fully present facilitator serves as the clearest mirror possible
for her group, which in turn the group the opportunity to see themselves--their
actions, their thoughts, and their feelings at once clearly--which has
a way of revealing the best next action with regard to the work they're
assembled themselves to do.
How do those of us who aren't so adept at being present get better at
it? Here are some simple tips:
an attitude of gratitude and appreciation. Be grateful for being
in a position of group leadership and grateful for the insights that you
trust will come in the moment. This element of trust is essential as it
allows you to more easily rest in the present. Fear of not knowing what
do do thrusts you into the past or future causing you to miss the opportunities
- Notice when
you are evaluating or judging what you or others are doing. Again, these are the voices of the past or future that sap our attention.
Further, judgments are a reflection of our own unresolved emotional issues.
What a wonderful opportunity to take note and to put it aside for later
resolution. Simply notice when you are not in the present and gently return
to being present. This is an ongoing practice.
- Be gentle with your course corrections. It's easy to
become frustrated when we begin to notice how often we aren't present.
Any frustration or judgment about our ability to be present is another
impediment. We all drift in and out of the present. Just notice this with
a neutral or even better, a loving attitude, and come back to the now.
- It doesn't have to make sense. What comes to you to
share with your group, or what happens as a result of how you show up
in your group as a result of being present with them doesn't have to make
sense to you. You may begin to notice some incredible things unfold or
may be surprised by the things you're compelled to do or so from this
place of present moment awareness. Your job is only to trust and act in
accordance with the presents of the present. This is its magic working.
You don't have to figure it out, as it is far beyond your capacity to
a facilitator of few words. The less you say the more your presence
is felt and the more you're intuition will show up.
- Give up your need to be a success. A lot of what we
do as group leaders, consciously or not, has to do with our desire to
be "successful," in whatever form that happens to take. Being
fully present and responding from the present moment will insure the deepest
and most pervasive success your group is ready for.
- Just stay with it. At times resistance, both yours
and theirs, may show up to tempt you out of the present. This is the time
to continue the practice as resistance often is a sign that breakthroughs
are around the corner.
- Practice a meditative discipline. Practicing a meditative
discipline is the easiest way to be present. Practice strengthens your
ability to be in the present with your groups, particularly when things
heat up. Mastering presence in the privacy of your own home will be the
best gift you can give to yourself and your groups
being present with your next group. Come prepared as usual, and give up
your need to know, say, or do anything to assure some preconceived notion
of success. I’m interested in hearing what happened. Just reply to this email to send me your comments.
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