Last night I attended an event where the opportunity was offered at the end of the evening to converse with others who had just watched the same film.  I was invited by a friend to attend and will admit that catching up with her was my highest motivation.  If we’d been invited to connect with everyone in the room before the screening, I may well have been happily shaken out of that intention and into some new conversations and connections.  This post from Viv McWaters on ways of connecting individuals at a large gathering was a timely ‘nudge’ to be aware of my behaviours as a participant as well as a facilitator.  Here’s an excerpt.

I learnt from one of my facilitation mentors, Antony Williams, that individuals generally come to groups with the need to be seen as an individual within the group (everyone likes to be recognised for being themselves first, a member of the group second) and to understand the connections. One of the first things I like to do when attending an event is to see who else will be there, and who I know, or people I’d like to meet in person. I don’t think I’m alone. Antony helped me understand that individuals are making choices and connections in groups all the time, whether conscious or not: where to sit and with whom, who to talk to, what questions to ask.

And on the same note of connecting, here’s a great question about listening from Kevin at Anecdote.

What do you think is more important when you listen – your ability to listen, or your desire to listen?



Ben Ziegler at Collaboration Journeys calls the Gulf of Mexico/BP oil disaster a failure of connection.  I read his post immediately after watching Mark Earls speak on Why Good Ideas Matter.  The link is to Tim Kastelle’s blog where I found the video.

On the face of it, they’re not about the same subject.  Except each of these posts touches on something I’ve been feeling.   I’m disappointed. Disappointed in political leaders who pretend to be something that they’re not.  Disappointed in those who put national interests ahead of global ones.  Disappointed in how we (individuals, groups, organisations) are not honest with ourselves and others about our motivations which are often based on protecting vested interests and looking after ourselves and our own.  And disappointed when we apparently can’t work together on problems that appear to be too hard to solve.

As Mark Earls introduces his talk, he mentions being at a music industry conference where all he was hearing was conversation based on these words – assets, money, cash, owner, extract, exploit and enforce.   Depressing, especially for an industry built on creativity.   There was nothing about ideas, making things happen or creating things of value.  He produces data demonstrating how culturally embedded habits and beliefs don’t change, and notes that even small changes can take several lifetimes.

Ben Ziegler speaks of how I want to see the world.  A world where we connect with people who are different.  A world where we connect people with nature and where we let natural systems be.   It’s about relationships, sustainable practice and systems thinking.  Where we respect unpredictability and let go of the idea that we can control it all.

Mark Earls talks about how we ‘hack’, improve and/or adapt others ideas and reapply them.  I’ve adapted his 5 questions to ask ourselves when new ideas emerge.  I’d like to see these adapted questions applied to myself and communities of all sizes and scales when we face seemingly insurmountable challenges.

1  What does this challenge?  (What’s at stake here for each and everyone of us?)

2. How can we explore it further?

3. What’s the offer for us here?

4. Where does this suggest things are going?

What must I/we absolutely – can’t wait – do next?

5. How might this make our (being part of this world) more (connected)?

Disappointment is not a useful place to be.  This is what’s challenged me this morning.  I want to connect the dots and work towards understanding what the offer is, and then (with a sense of urgency) act on it.

Lynn Walsh – workshop and meeting facilitator – Sydney- business and strategic planning – team conversations

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yellow umbrellaPatti Digh‘s post Write to them goes to the assumption many of us make that someone we don’t know personally would not respond to acknowledgement of how their work has inspired, touched or made a difference in our lives.

It reminded me of a friend’s story.  Years ago, she attended a function.   As the event commenced, she was invited to join the official table.  She started chatting with the man next to her.   Before too long,  they were laughing and sharing stories about their children.  Among other things they talked about the joy that small boys get from all manner of embarrassing things.

As the meal concluded, the guest of honour was invited to give his speech.  My friend’s jaw dropped as she realised that she’d been speaking to the guest of honour, the head of state of a newly emerging country.

After he returned to his seat, he said to my friend,  “You didn’t know who I was, did you?”  “No”.  He smiled.  “Would you have shared those stories with me if you had known?”   “Probably not”, she responded honestly.

What is it that stops us connecting with people who’ve found some level of fame in their lives through their work?  What are they missing from not having honest and regular conversations with others of us having the same human experiences?

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