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From Jim Smith | August 5, 2008

Neerja -- I LOVED this weeks' column.  Here's an example of how my story used to dull my effectiveness on the job: 

In my earlier days of facilitation my stories were a HUGE factor in my effectiveness.  I can remember times where I'd lose all my energy because I'd see a couple of people disconnecting, and I'd always make the story about ME -- I wasn't being good enough, I was 'losing' them, the discussion wasn't relevant enough, etc.  Then the entire group would 'suffer' b/c I was not as engaged in the process. 

Several years of great mentoring experiences and learning have brought me to a place today where my stories are no longer about me, but about them, if at all.  One of my NEW stories is around the 25/50/25 split of participant engagement, which goes like this: No matter how awful the program/facilitation is, 25% will engage and will love it all;  no matter how good the program/facilitation is, 25% will find fault, or will never engage at all (because that's how they showed up, not b/c of anything that happens); and the middle 50% will respond to the quality of the program/facilitation, so I must attend to them most of all. 

As I learned to hear this story every time I went on stage, I found myself letting go of any story around people disengaging, doing their email on their blackberries during an exercise, leaving the room, doodling, etc.  And I believe I'm a far better facilitator today because I now attend better to the overall group and the purpose, rather than attaching either to the story of inadequacy or connection around those few disconnected participants, OR buying into the effusive and positive remarks from those who loved it all before they even arrived.  I target the middle 50%, with a goal to bring them up to where the upper 25% started.  My new story is, "Yes!  I'm THAT good!"  
That story, along w/ a few deep breaths along the way (I agree that breathing is KEY!) and I'm all set for a great session, whatever it entails!

I'm really enjoying your work.  Steve made a great selection when he engaged you (IMHO)!

In happiness,

Jim Smith, PCC



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