As life long learners, our field can get pretty complicated with all the models, strategies, philosophies, and approaches within which we tend to immerse ourselves. Considering this, it’s probably a good idea once in awhile to reflect on those core attitudes, skills, and perspectives that form the foundation of all the strategies and interventions we might bring to groups.
To be quite honest, the more I learn about group process the easier and the harder it gets. Harder because every group that comes along surprises me in some way. Perhaps with increasing humility inspired by my increasing years, I tend to look and listen just a little closer to the nuances present in each new group. And though human dynamics in each group have many similarities, they are also unique in their makeup and their challenges. As I come to recognize that being surprised is part of the game, I begin towelcome the mystery more as an adventure to enjoy than an unknown to fear. And trust that going on the voyage equipped with my essentials, I cannot fail and commit myself to the prospect that we will all gain through the experience in some way.
Identify Your Core Gifts
What is your gift as a human being? How do you significantly advance the work of any group you lead or participate in, simply by showing up authentically and doing what comes naturally to you? I believe that by answering this question in the form of a handful of facilitative perspectives, attitudes, or actions, you enhance everything you do as a group servant. By being clear on the significant value we show up with in who we are might help us relax a little easier into what emerges in the moment. Here are some of my own as I see them:
I show up as the clearest mirror I can be. One of the greatest insights people can gain from each other is a view of themselves from the outside. We sometimes go through our lives so much on automatic pilot we lose the connection between cause and effect. That is, those things we do that we might not notice (causes) that are bringing results that we might not like (effects). It’s a rare privilege granted to you as facilitators and group leaders to point out and reflect the actions of others and how we experience them. Remember that polished mirrors reflect best. So practice releasing inner chatter as best you can, and marshall the courage to express what you see and sense, if it will explicitly advance your group’s purpose, as clearly and as compassionately as you can.
I come with beginner’s mind. I believe that there’s great power in approaching every new group as if it’s the first one I’ve ever worked with. To approach each life experience with “beginner’s mind” is a tall order, particularly so as our experience base grows. Yet the fresh openness to mystery and possibility offers those we serve a potent invitation to see the world in this same way themselves. Unencumbered with past failures and worn out solutions, chances are better that a fresh new idea or solution will emerge.
It’s never about me, even when it is. It’s essential to take nothing personally as a group leader, even when under personal attack. People only attack when they’re hurting or scared. Remembering this will afford you perspective you can use when walking through the hot spots of group process. Quiet presence, again like a mirror, in the face of attack is disarming, even alarming, in a world out of control. Cultivating the ability to reflect peace in the face of fear has a transforming effect on others.
I surrender the task to them. It’s imperative to trust in the resources of the group and in the process in which you have them engaged to accomplish the tasks before them. If you are afraid that they cannot accomplish their goal and apply your genius to save them, they will smell your fear and be weakened by your efforts to help. Your trust, if well placed, and backed with conviction will inspire others to stretch.
I’m a compass who facilitates the course. If you do nothing but help a group come to a clear understanding of their goal, the average group will have gained a great deal. If you then serve as their beacon, amidst confusion and haste, helping them compare each action to the results they seek, forward progress is inevitable.
Drawing on the above examples, make a list of the key gifts you bring to your groups that are effortless for you to give, Please share them with us. We’d love to hear from you! Add your comments below to share your questions, feedback, or experience on this topic.