News You Can Use

Upcoming events for folks interested in coaching, facilitation, and general good times:

I’m launching a pilot course this week, with a full launch for the course in January. The One Change course will take coaching into a group setting, and have me pull out all the facilitation stops to support five people determined to make their One Change.

If you like having a good time and watching people be professional and energetic about course delivery, check out the good folks over at MicSkills4KaraokeThrills. Not only did I see them get 30 karaoke-newbies up in front of a mic, I also saw a group of karaoke coaches who ran a smoooooth operation, from registration, logistics, welcoming vibe, encouraging newsletters, regular check-ins, and evaluations. I love it when people bring that level of care and planning to their passion. The first course is over, but watch their website for karaoke redux.

Finally, I have every confidence that Coach Buffet is going to be an event full of learning, warmth, energy, and connection. Coach Buffet brings the speed-dating approach to coaching: who’s the best coaching match for you? Find out by meeting 12 coaches in one night and finding out who you click with. By the time you leave, you’ll have had multiple chances to get some awesome coaching, and you’ll have met some coaches who are ready to sign you up as a client and support you as you aim for your next goals. See you there!

Remarkable Leaders Series – David Whyte in Toronto

Leadership visionary and poet David Whyte is coming to Toronto for an intimate two day conversation with leaders exploring “the three marriages”. David’s new book, The Three Marriages: Reimagining Work, Self and Relationship, is a meditation on commitment. What does it mean for us to commit to our vocation, to our true selves, and to those we are in relationship with? Rather than view these three commitments as being in competition, David’s book explores how each commitment nourishes the others; how each commitment is, in fact, essential. He intersperses anecdotes from Dante, Rilke, Jane Austen, Robert Louis Stevenson, Pema Chödrön, his own life, and the stories of others to explore how different people in different times and places have met their various marriages, sometimes head on, and sometimes by running away.

So many of the sentences in this book are beautifully crafted, full of truth, and gently humorous. A few of the sentences that caught my attention:

On marriage with the self:

Sometimes the best thing to do is to hold a kind of silent vigil beside the part of us that is going through the depths of a difficult transformation. (p.310)

On marriage to a partner:

To find out our partners’ desires, we must sustain a conversation with them that helps to bring those wants and desires to light. Sometimes we have to do this even when they are afraid of discovering them themselves. The deep, abiding fear is that we will stumble across the desire in them that wants a life different from the one we are capable of giving them. Essentially, we are afraid that they may find that their desire is to love something or even someone else… The crux then, the most difficult ground in the relationship, the portion of a relationship that elevates it to the level of a religious discipline or practice, is that I must “love,” must see the very part of my partner that could take this person away from me. I must keep contact with the part of the person that is pulling him or her into the future, though I risk not participating in that horizon. (p. 251)

On taking the next step, and not clinging to where we are:

People who are serious about pursuing their vocation look for purchase, not for a map of the future or a guided way up the cliff. They try not to cling too closely to what seems to bar their way, but look for where the present point of contact actually resides. No matter what it looks like.

The point of contact is what allows us to take the next step. Sometimes the point of contact is through the next necessary small task completed; sometimes it is through understanding the depth of our exile, the disenchantment experienced in the here and now, the impossibility of it all. Eventually we realize that not knowing what to do is just as real and just as useful as knowing what to do. Not knowing stops us from taking false directions. (p.131)

I’ll be attending David’s program in Toronto October 29 and 30. If you’d like to join us, there are just a few spots left.

Excerpts on Answering Yes

I’m reading The Answer to How is Yes, by Peter Block (thanks as always to Mary Stacey for providing an excellent influx of books).

First off, I thought this book was useful even before I started reading it, because one day as I was trying to figure something out I looked up from my notebook and there was the answer staring me in the face when I saw the book’s title: the answer to how is yes.

I am only 40 pages in or so, but here are a few things that have caught my eye:

pg. 11: “asking How? is a favorite defense against taking action”

pg.12: “The engineer and economist represent mindsets that dominate the culture. The mindset of the artist is increasingly absent in our workplaces. The mindset and role of the social architect is a way of integrating the gifts of the engineer, the economist, and the artist.”

pg. 20: “The desire to get others to change is alive and well in our personal lives also. If only the other person would learn, grow, be more flexible, express more feeling or less feeling, carry more of the load, or be more vulnerable, then our relationships would improve. Most of us enter therapy complaining about the behaviour of parents, partners, co-workers, children. While we may package our complaint as a desire to help them, we are really expressing our desire to control them.”

pg.23: “We need simply to make the subtle shift from ‘How do you measure this?’ to the question ‘What measurement would have meaning to me?'”

pg.24: “Therapist Pittmann McGehee states that the opposite of love is not hate, but efficiency.”

pg.31: “What is the crossroad at which I find myself at this point in my life/work?… We will find meaning in exploring and understanding this crossroad. Our crossroad represents an as yet unfulfilled desire to change our focus, our purpose, what we want to pursue.”

These little excerpts give just a taste of the book. I’m not sure what my overall impression is yet, but am definitely finding sentences to chew on.

The Secret Ingredient

Last week, I posted about how excited I was to design a facilitated event completely from scratch, completely my own. It’s happening tonight, which is why I’m glad that yesterday evening I remembered the secret ingredient.

cookies 003

No event has ever gone badly when I brought homemade chocolate chip cookies.

Here is my mother’s recipe, which I committed to memory years ago, and which I’ll be using tonight.

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup butter
  • vanilla – enough
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups flour
  • baking powder – enough
  • baking soda – enough
  • salt – enough
  • 4 cups rolled oats (optional: grind them up in a blender first)
  • chocolate chips – enough

Cream together the sugar, eggs, vanilla, and butter. In a separate bowl, mix the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt. Add the sugar, eggs, and butter mixture to the mixed dry ingredients. Stir in the rolled oats and the chocolate chips.

Bake at 350/375, for long enough (8-12 minutes).

Complete Design Freedom

plants and pencils

My usual facilitation gigs require designing to someone else’s specifications, timelines, goals, org culture, and values. That’s all good, but sometimes it makes me feel boxed in. But in the next few weeks, I’m going to be running an event that’s all my own – my goals, my design, and whatever the heck I want.

The freedom is intoxicating! Here are a few of the ingredients that I want to have in my own facilitation recipe:

1. Get the right people in the room. I want people who represent a variety of viewpoints, life experiences, and familiarity with the subject matter. I want to be able to say in my invitation to each one of those people exactly why I want them in the room, and acknowledge what I know they’ll bring.

2. Prework! Designing my own event, I can give myself as much advance time as I want to figure out if there needs to be prereading, information sent out, materials we’ll need, etc.

3. Space set up! Along with prework, having my own timeline means I can spend the time creating a space that’s conducive to gathering, sharing ideas, and provoking good conversation. A few years ago someone said to me, “I love how when I go to a session facilitated by Laura, it’s already started before I get in the room” – meaning that the walls were already decorated with quotes, questions, ideas; the tables were moved aside; the chairs were in a circle; supplies were laid out.

4. Right brain. I’m so tired of bullet point lists, log frames, prioritizations, schedules, and reality. Yes, there is a place for all of those, but I also want a place for music, art, imagery, and story-telling. I want to play the piano while the introverts take time to reflect, I want to draw pictures of what I’m hearing while an extrovert tells a story, I want to see people exaggerate their body language until it becomes the loudest communication in the room.

All of that, and I haven’t even listed any of the activities yet! Those will have to come in a future post.