More than ever the time is ripe to bring greater focus to the deeper human drivers of performance and create the conditions for the Human Spirit to come back alive in the work context. The Human Potential Assessment Tool and the accompanying Discovery workshops are proving to be very powerful enablers of organizational transformation. The following document summarizes the key leanings from the numerous interventions we did over the past year. These lessons will continue to sharpen and expand as the scope of our work evolves. In the meantime we hope that some of these nuggets will resonate, and perhaps also inspire your work in the future.
LESSON #1: Location is nothing, our BEING is everything
We can easily assume that this kind of deep work should happen well outside the confines of the day to day business environment. We therefore invest significantly in finding the “perfect” off-site location that we feel supports the deepening into our personal and collective growth. No doubt that a beautiful location can help to disconnect and inspire us to open up.
The problem with this approach is that our heightened state of BEING is associated with the environment in which it was created. Therefore, when participants head back to the office after the workshop they quickly revert back to old patterns and behaviours. We have found, that when done correctly, it can be even more powerful to hold the workshop in the heart of the day to day business operations. Not only is this the best way to prepare people for post-workshop immersion, but it also creates a powerful “energetic” spillover into the rest of the office. People literally feel the ripples and are positively impacted by the vibes coming from the workshop space.
In order for this to work it helps to set clear guidelines on what is expected from the participants. We have found that two simple commitments create a solid foundation for introducing this work in any office environment:
- Privacy and confidentiality: even though the workshop room can be in the midst of the day-to-day business environment we must ensure that there is sufficient privacy to create the necessary safety for participants
- All participants commit to full engagement for the duration of the workshop. Staying in the office can increase the temptation to drop in and out of the program while keeping an eye on the business.
LESSON #2: Infuse mysticism but don’t keep it mysterious
It can be scary to bring in new practices and rituals like sitting in a circle with a candle at the center and adopting the use of a listening stick. Especially in the business context we easily assume this is taboo and that it will be rejected by workshop participants.
Our experience is proving the contrary. However, there is one big caveat. If we assume people will simply accept it and unhesitatingly go along with it then it probably will not work. However, if we openly acknowledge that we are doing things differently and clearly explain WHY we are doing it that way then the taboo is instantly removed. In doing so we can easily move these new practices from the esoteric realm to a deeper level of humanism.
For example to help understand the reason for sitting together in a circle with a candle at the center we can tell the story of the Children’s Fire – a decision making process common to many indigenous cultures. Key stakeholders would come together in a circle, and as a council they would listen deeply to each others concerns and ideas, always holding the best interest of future generations in mind. In the very center of this structure they placed a small fire which was to remind the council that the primary consideration should always be the continuation of life when making decisions of any kind. This inclusive, non hierarchical decision making process would often unlock life affirming, win-win outcomes, also know as the “third way”.
Intentionally embodying this same spirit of service to future generations can be a powerful ritual to bring back into the organizational work of today.
LESSON #3: Invest in BEING, unleash the DOING
“I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by a conscious endeavor. It is something to be able to paint a particular picture, or to carve a statue, and so to make a few objects beautiful; but it is far more glorious to carve and paint the very atmosphere and medium through which we look. To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts”. Henry David Thoreau
Taking quality time to “step into BEING” is an absolute pre-requisite to any transformational workshop. This process of slowing down sharpens our individual and collective presence. As we practice mindfulness techniques, set collective standards of engagement, express our vulnerabilities and get to know each other at a deeper level, it may feel like we are distracting ourselves from key business and organizational priorities. However, in reality this investment in BEING is creating the conditions for participants to access deeper levels of knowing (intuition) and transcend some limiting beliefs and assumptions they may have about the way things ARE or SHOULD BE.
Through this process we are preparing ourselves to look at the business / organizational challenges through a new lens. As Albert Einstein once famously said:
“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them”. A. Einstein
By the end of day 1 (of a 2 or 3 day workshop), when our BEING is fully ignited and awareness heightened, we will experience an intense creative tension in the group. There will be an unstoppable urge to move our BEINGNESS into DOINGNESS. Like a spring that has been wound up and is ready to be released, we will be inspired to unleash our full creative potential on any task assigned to us. (for example creating a long term vision or purpose for the team, defining strategies and action planning, or crafting the new language and rituals that will shape the culture of the organization going forward.
When this DOINGNESS is coming from a place of deep BEINGNESS then it will feel effortless and efficient, while triggering a high level of commitment and alignment among workshop participants.
LESSON #4: Use Human Potential DATA to break open conversations and unlock new thinking
Prior to these discovery workshops each participant is invited to take the Human Potential Assessment. This gives us concrete data points on how well expressed the individual and collective potential is. Coming in to the workshop there is typically a high level of curiosity and eagerness to dive into the findings. However, we have learnt that timing is everything when it comes to introducing the data into the conversation. It can have a significant impact on how it is interpreted and utilized.
“Most executives, many scientists, and almost all business school graduates believe that if you analyze data, this will give you new ideas. Unfortunately, this belief is totally wrong. The mind can only see what it is prepared to see”. Edward de Bono
For example, if we engage with the assessment results right from the beginning, without first elevating our state of BEING, then we will likely look at the data with an analytical mind and apply assumptions that simply reinforce our current reality. However, if we hold off sharing the data until the workshop participants have fully immersed in a heightened state of awareness, then they will also engage with the data and findings in more transformational ways.
Rather than simply using their analytical mind, they now also approach the interpretation of findings in a more expanded, intuitive way. We have demonstrated over and over again that the insights ensuing from this approach have the potential to unleash, and sustain, a new wave of inspiration in the organization.
LESSON #5: No matter how profound the collective experience is it needs to be accompanied with on-going work at the individual level in order to sustain itself
This expansion of BEING that happens in most of our workshops and trainings typically opens the door to a collective expansion as well. Participants feel united in their journey and inspired to join forces around a collective cause. These are always extremely powerful moments of deep connection with each other and alignment to a greater purpose. It gives meaning to our lives, and in that moment it is easy to step beyond our fears and trust the natural unfolding of the collective energy.
Although we have glimpsed the collective Gold and genuinely embraced the intention to make it happen, sooner or later our individual journey starts coming in the way. Our fears, that seemed irrational just a few days ago, are once again holding us back and drawing us into old patterns. Now the collective potential is put on hold while we take the next step on our individual journeys. So we must learn to reconnect time and again: with ourselves, with others and with the collective. That requires enhancing our awareness and actually choosing to practice reconnecting. This will benefit our individual response ability to meet life in all its aspects and contribute to our individual and collective journey.