A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it,
bearing within him the image of a cathedral.
Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Since returning to work after a much needed hiatus over the Christmas season, I have been happily inundated with offerings of open-ended opportunities. It seems like I have gone from an empty cupboard to a potentially full cupboard, with the gleeful option to fill it as I please. I'm only restricted by my open-ended imagination. Sure, there are parameters to the work I have been asked to delve into, but not restrictive ones. In fact, the parameters are actually what was missing before the Christmas break. The parameters have fed my sense of purpose. And if one doesn't have a clear picture of their sense of purpose, one will just continue to wander down a road aimlessly.
Rock picking to throw into a useless pile
Apple picking without a basket to fill
Pinecone gathering without creative way to use them
Kindling collecting without a fire to feed
A sense of purpose........a gameplan, even if it is very sketchy allows you to look at the rock pile and see potential to build, to hold an apple in your hand and dream of deliciously steaming cinnamon scented pie. Direction offers you a chance to look at the pinecones nestled in the loam under the tree and envision how beautiful a wreath they could make; to look at the twigs and sticks as a means to generate a well lit gloaming to warm your creative thoughts by.I NOW HAVE BEEN GIVEN THE GREEN LIGHT TO TEACH!Bring it on!
To tell you the truth, the difference between my workload before Christmas and after Christmas is better described as 6 months hanging out with Rod Serling in the Twilight Zone and then waking up to realize it was a frigging nightmare. And it all started when someone in authority decided to check out my job description and CV.
All of a sudden.........BINGO! Their lightbulbs went on........ that gal may be worth somethin'.
So..........since this authoritative enlightenment, I have been "offered up" to orchestrate a training plan for a group of professionals who for the first time are going to rally as a team to focus on "Prevention." I was also "signed up" to develop and deliver "Counselling and Assessment" skills (ie. how to be respectful and nice to clients while listening with your heart) provincial wide to hard nosed staff who have worked in the frontlines for thousands of years and have never had any training. That'll be a toughie, but I'm pumped!!
What else................... a Professional Development plan.........ranging from in-house information sessions on mental health issues to family violence and the law........ME! Developing and delivering. AND, I will be involved in the designing of a case management plan for people who work in social services. Little do they know they are already "case managing" to some extent....wait 'til I introduce the idea of "case interacting" under the guise of case management.............(laughing wryly......oh the subversiveness of it all)
So, my brain has been ticking...........pling, pling.......click, click........as I collect the rocks, the apples, the pinecones and the kindling................to build a learning and doing cathedral filled with light and colour.
Teaching, facilitating, coaching, leading, sharing, whatever you want to label the person who orchestrates the training...........is what stokes my fire. I thrive on interactive learning. Most days when I'm up in front of a group (and at the side, and at the back and sitting in a circle with them..........I move around a lot) I often feel like I have learned more than I have taught. Group work is fascinating because the changing dynamics and chemistry of each and every group is different.
Bring it on!
My approach with any training, whether it's dry procedural process and policy stuff or counselling and assessment related or whether it's a college course on human relations, is to be as prepared as I can prior to the session. The lesson plan, handouts, the right room..........the whole lot needs to be ready and then I can take flight from there. By being prepared, I feel more confident to be flexible which I believe is very important when one's method leans toward open interactive dialogue. Sure, I have specific outcomes or ideas I want to relay.........but the process of learning alters depending on the group dynamics.The key is to set up the environment where people are comfortable sharing.
Making the links between old knowledge and new ideas. Talking...applying....questioning.....arguing.....debating
Wondering aloud comfortably.
Feeling, feeling, feeling .....the gamut of feelings
And remembering that one can't have enough laughs!
I want participants to say to themselves..........how is this helpful to me? How can I use this new learning in my life? Am I comfortable sharing my thoughts and feelings? How does this help me work more effectively with people?So....................my first question FOR YOU?
I'm a firm believer, as this blog can attest, in being an open book; sharing stories, feelings, thoughts, examples......as a teaching style. If I'm going to expect someone to reach out to another human being, I must be comfortable self-disclosing. I must be comfortable sharing vulnerabilities as well as strengths.
Isn't that the key to leadership?
When one is providing training in counselling and human interaction skills, every single person attending must feel safe to do the same. Learning how to "be a counsellor" is learning about oneself first. The only way this EVER works is if the learning environment is welcoming and safe. It takes time sometimes for a group to gel, for the group to be trusting. What helps are the "in between learning" discussions, sometimes called "icebreakers" that may seem like a waste of time at face value. But if you pick the right one, you would be amazed at how much is shared.
Timing is everything..................
So, this week...............................I'm going to throw out a couple of questions or ideas which I have used in the past as "session starters" which have provided the most interesting jewel filled sharing moments I have experienced as Coach........... and would love to read your thoughts....your feelings.................
AND, I would love it if you shared with me any "icebreaker" ideas you have had fun doing in a workshop.......
What is one thing that gives you joy?
If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people together to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea. Antoine de Saint-Exupery