Master Facilitator Journal

Master Facilitator Journal | Issue #0444, May 18, 2010

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Dear Friends,

Well Survivor did it to me again! I'm talking about the Survivor TV Series that appears on CBS every Thursday night. The finale aired last Sunday night and surely this season's "Heros versus Villains" was without a doubt the most entertaining and intriguing one on record. You may not be surprised to hear that I tend to watch this show with an eye on the fascinating group dynamics displayed each week. And this season, there were some deep lessons that I just have to relate to you as group leaders and change agents. Please have a look at this week's article Lessons for a Dictator and indulge me as I play off a hulking metaphor for group and community dysfunction called Russell Hantz.

Do you work with youth or adults in detention? Do you use journaling in your training or coaching? I'm working with a colleague to develop a 12-week journaling program for incarcerated youth and adults. I'd like to have our plan reviewed by some trainers or facilitators who have worked with this population and/or who have a background in the use of journaling for personal discovery. If you are interested in learning more, please reply to this email with your interest.

New Fractal Facilitation Model.
Check out our new comprehensive guide to designing and facilitating Teleclasses and Virtual Meetings based on a new Fractal Facilitation Model. Check out details here.

We hope our work continues to bring inspiration to your world. Thank you for being a part of our growing community. Please continue to send the wonderful feedback.


Steve Davis



assessment primer

The Point

Lessons for a Dictator
Look at the long-term consequences of short-term gain.

Self-Management Skill

Well Survivor did it to me again! I'm talking about the Survivor TV Series that appears on CBS every Thursday night. The finale aired last Sunday night and surely this season's "Heros versus Villains" was without a doubt the most entertaining and intriguing one on record. You may not be surprised to hear that I tend to watch this show with an eye on the fascinating group dynamics displayed each week. And this season, there were some deep lessons that I just have to relate to you as group leaders and change agents. Please indulge me as I play off a hulking metaphor for group and community dysfunction called Russell Hantz.

The title for this article is inspired by the game's most compelling and evil villain, Russell Hantz. He played during the previous season also making it to the end of the game but not winning. Note that "winning" requires a majority vote cast for one of the three remaining contestants by a jury composed of the last nine contestants voted out. So what was it that got my attention about Russell with regard to group dynamics? In my view, Russell embodied the following two principles in this game.

Self-obcessed and short-sighted. While you have to consider yourself first to win the game of Survivor, if you never consider harm to others in your decisions, this will ultimately come back to bite you. In this case, the last nine of your peers will not give you a single vote and you ultimately lose. Russell's behavior stood out as a timeless testament to the long-term costs of greed and dysfunctional group leadership.

Hyper focus on goal while blind to process. He made it clear from the beginning of this game that he was in total control of the game and everyone in it. He contended that he was smarter and better than any other player and that if anyone crossed him, they would lose. Russell epitomized ultimate self-confidence in attaining his goal, not due to his skills necessarily, but due to the fact that the level to which he would stoop to assure his survival knew no bounds. Bold lies, threats, and deception weren't used only if needed, but where his typical daily fare.


So what lessons are we to glean from this character that I think are so important? Here we go:

What does winning mean? The game of Survivor, just like the game of life, has more than one dimension. Yet I see that many of us tend to live this game without this knowledge. How many of us ask, "What will it cost in terms of the health of my relationships, physical health, peace of mind, and sense of community if I focus on the money exclusively?"

Twice now, Russell made it to the end of the game but didn't win the votes of the jurors and hence win the game. In fact, one participant remarked at the end of the show, Russell, you only play to make it to the end of the game, not to win the game. He agreed but didn't seem to have the capacity to understand that he might be missing something. His response is that there is a flaw in the game. He laid waste to everyone else so he should have won! Again, he faithfully displays that dark corner of the human ego that will self-destruct to "win." Yes, this is totally irrational but still alive and well in our collective psyche.

Lesson 1: Embrace a bigger bottom line. One that includes healthy relationships, self-respect, community contribution, in addition to money.

Modern society is about results if nothing else. But how we define our desired results is often fragmented and limited. For example, is getting a task accomplished at the expense of our relationships to those involved really progress?

Total disregard for the ultimate health and capacity of your group in order to "win" is self-destructive. Hitler didn't seem to care if the whole world was destroyed in order to have his way and "win" the war. After losing the game and getting direct feedback from players that you must consider relationships with those in the game if you are to truly win the game, Russell states that the game is "flawed." He is obviously oblivious to his own flawed perspective.

Lesson 2: Lies, manipulation, and deception may actually "work" in the short term, but they have a long-term cost.

That is, shortcuts can be taken to get quicker results and sometimes these shortcuts comprise social laziness. In other words, it may be easier for some to lie and deceive to get their way today, but down the road a price is paid.

Russell's strategy was brilliant in some ways but very short-sighted. It "worked" to get him to the end of the game but in the jury of his peers, it didn't get him the prize. For me, this is a beautiful metaphor for the old model of success that still largely runs the machine. Right now I'm thinking of the Challenger disaster, the recent banking collapse, and I strongly suspect we'll find similar short cuts in the case of the recent Gulf Oil spill.

Lesson 3: Don't give in to fear.

I believe that another reason Russell was so successful in running this game was that he would create fear through threats or intimidation when things weren't going his way. Many times in the game, others could have easily dismissed him and his dysfunctional antics by simply voting him out. But his arguments were very forceful and tended to appeal to other's fear.

From what I see, many people are run by fear and tend to believe the worst. This doesn't have to be. What we see and believe is a choice and whenever actions we see or words we hear strike fear in you, don't let it sweep you away. Stop and take a deep breath. Center yourself, let reason return, listen to your heart, and use your head.

Bigger Picture? Dysfunctional behavior can be dramatic and entertaining from a distance. This kind of shadow viewed in Russell has been seen on a larger scale in characters like Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, and Wall Street Bankers. An unquestioned entitlement to having their way no matter the carnage in their wake. A sobering reminder when viewed as entertainment on network TV, even rewarded by a nationwide vote as Player of the Season, that we humans are very easily deceived.

Add Your Comments


Where in your life are you trading marginal short-term for long-term, results? Please click on the Add Your Comments link above and share your thoughts, stories, and experiences. I'd love to hear from you!

This Week's Offer

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Discrete skills and attitudes for the new and experienced facilitator who wants to get their group into serious motion.

I want to thank you for designing a course that lived up to its advertisement. I found the daily curriculum practical and thought provoking. The ideas developed each day created foundations for the lessons to follow. Many "acts of facilitation" were immediately applicable to my facilitation practice. The tone of each class was a supportive learning environment. Each class ended on a note of high-energy with encouraging words and an opportunity for feedback. --Steven Pyser, J.D., consultant--

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This pre-recorded (5 one-hour session) teleclass cover 25+ facilitative actions you can take to empower and move groups forward. This course, that you can take from the comfort of your own home or office, is for beginning facilitators, group leaders, or group members who simply want to know more about facilitation so that they can make their groups more effective. These "discrete" acts of facilitation also lend themselves to being taught to your group members who desire to become more self-facilitative.

How the Self-Guided 5-Day Format/Training works...

  • You download the (5) 60-minute MP3 files or listen to them from your computer.
  • You work a 25-point checklist/leaning guide during the course.
  • You may access the instructor via email for help or situational questions.

5-Day Random Acts of Facilitation Training Agenda...
Here's what you'll be learning and doing during this 5-Hour course...

Session 1
Introduction to the Facilitation and Self Facilitation Skills.

1. Create the Ambience.
2. Share the Dream.
3. Get Facilitation
4. Juggling.
5. Me First.

Session 2
Relating with compassion and understanding.

6. Be Ignorant.
7. Make Smiles Happen.
8. Hold 'em High.
9. Acknowledge the Elephant.
10. Turn on Your Crap-Detector.

Session 3
Group Dynamics and Facilitation

11. Build the Container.
12. Build trust.
13. Mine the Unexpected.
14. Evolve Your Team.
15. Honor the Process.
16. Facilitate Full Participation

Session 4
Organizing and Presenting yourself confidently, professionally, and authentically. 

17. Prepare for Success.
18. Get Real.
19. Make Experiences, Not Speeches
20. Watch the Body Talk.
21. Be your message

Session 5
Intervening to shift group energy

22. Tame the Tormentors.
23. CareFront.
24. Use the Struggle.
25. Break through barriers.
26. Facilitate from Within.
27. Embrace Facilitation as a Master's Path

Benefits to you of participating from the 5-Hour Random Acts of Facilitation Training...
1. Get a great introduction to the concept and practice of facilitation skills if you are contemplating becoming a facilitator, team leader, board member, manager, mediator, etc.
2. Never waste another minute in an ineffective meeting again.
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Also included with your training...
In addition to the 5-Hour training described above, you also receive:
1. Comprehensive 15-page Student Learning Guide.
2. Free access to the participant-only website (lots of resources, forms, etc.).
3.Free copy of the Portable Article Bank ($29 value).

The full cost of training/access is only $79 if you register by April 30th. ($89 for the general public) including a free copy of the Portable Article Bank ($29 value). Everything you read about above is included. And, we offer a 100%-satisfaction-guaranteed guarantee.

I would recommend to anyone who wants to experience excellent modeling of what good facilitation is, to sign up for this teleclass. --Elain Wylie, Life Coach--

Self-Guided 5-Day Real Audio Version
If you'd like to learn this material at your own pace and on your own schedule, you can purchase the real audio version of this teleclass complete with the learning guide. You'll be provided with access to three separate recorded offerings of the five-hour teleclass (15 hours total) that you can listen to online and follow along in the learning guide is used in the live class. Click here to purchase for $79. We will also include a free copy of the Portable Article Bank ($29 value) with your purchase. We offer a 100%-satisfaction-guaranteed guarantee.

Self-Guided MP3 for $79

Self-Guided 5-Day CD Version
The Compact Disk (CD) version comes with all of the self-guided features listed above, together with 5 CD's you'll receive by mail that you can listen to anywhere you have access to a CD player.

Self-Guided CD for $89 plus $4 S&H

One-Day "Live" Version

Interested in a one-day "live" version of this class offered to your group? Email us to discuss options.

About the satisfaction guarantee

If, for any reason, you are not satisfied with these products, simply email us with a request to refund/credit your credit card in the full amount and we will do so immediately. It's our policy to do this and we honor this in every single case. Membership Option

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