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The 21st Century highway of management is jammed with those speeding to solve as they exercise limiting judgment, fixes, and attempts to otherwise set another straight.

We manage process and we lead the individual. As a leader you are a facilitator. To Facilitate means “to make easy.” This doesn’t mean you ignore conflict or difficulty. Quite the opposite is true as you facilitate the necessary holding together of good process and desired outcomes.

“For peace and agitation are stitched together and, tugged on, they unravel a thread of Oneness.” −Mark Nepo, Seven Thousand Ways to Listen

I was very fortunate in my corporate career to have opportunity to take advantage of good learning experiences. Such learning was in the balance of classroom and application; practicing knowledge into a skill. The skill I treasure is that of Listening. This skill has served me well in my coaching, and molded me into a facilitator who can create and navigate dialogue.

Listening is the foundation of 21st Century Skill 6: Collective Facilitation.

In my corporate experience I was given much opportunity to practice as a facilitator. Early on I knew enough to be moderately effective and dangerous at the same time. Let me illustrate.

My customer service manager and his team approached me and asked that I facilitate a session to assist them in working through an important issue with their service work. We scheduled everything, gathered together, and got to work. So there I was standing in front of them facilitating. The team came together around the information needed and I dismissed them to go and collectively implement what they thought best.

A week passed and I had not heard any follow-up or follow-thru on their decision. I called Bill, the manager, to my office and asked what they had decided to do. His response, “We did what you told us to do.”

I was stunned. I asked Bill to tell me what he had heard from me. He did. And I was stunned even further−not by him or the team. I was slapped with the reality of the lack of neutral focus in my brand of facilitation. As I supposedly facilitated, I had unconsciously also participated: participation at a level that was easily perceived as an order or a request from their division leader.

I had unintentionally held their loyalty in a manner that diminished their full creative abilities and individual and collective contribution.

Skill 6If left apart, good process and desired outcomes pull against one another.

If focused upon one at a time, as is usually the case, they are left in conflict causing us to ignore one or the other.

To expertly be with the skill of Collective Facilitation, you must hold the two circles together where they merge in support of the depth of listening required.

You then facilitate in the power of a neutral focus.

 

Read about the shadow strength related to Focus; Shadow Strengths – Chapter Six (Focus)

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Things go the way they go, as opposed to the way I’d like them to go.

Very often what is in any situation is in opposition to what I would prefer−and both are most likely okay; full of their own truth. And so here I have opportunity for a mandorla. What might I discover in a specific situation by holding the two together for a bit? What might I see and learn in the overlap of the two circles−which in the overlap itself is the teaching mandorla?

The example is my mind and heart in some proposed work with a favorite client in Oklahoma. My mind wants it finalized, adding nicely to my year. My heart desires to hold the moment and trust all will be okay. And maybe for now my learning, and holding, is in the simple recognition of the mind-heart mandorla.

This overlap (tension) is, I suppose, Creative Presence.

Skill 5As with any two sides to any one issue−seeming opposites−there is tension. It just may be that this overlap of tension is when we are at our best with Giving. And here lies the paradox with Skill 5, the skill of Giving. This skill is about giving in and through our work at all levels.

At the core of all brands of giving is listening. In the mind circle, listening is at the surface focusing on outcomes. In the heart circle, listening is at the source of what’s most important to you.

You’ve heard it said, “It’s not personal, it’s business.” You’ve also heard it said, “The heart wants what it wants.” In the mind circle is the timing aspect. Once you’ve done your part, you expect an outcome in return. The heart circle wants to trust the process and desires freedom in giving−a brand of presence that is not distracted by the sometimes trivial pursuit of the mind.

As the two circles collide, we are presented with one of the most troublesome challenges, waiting.

“Paradox is brought to its next stage of development by a highly conscious waiting. The ego can do no more; it must wait for that which is greater than itself.” −Robert A. Johnson, Owning Your Own Shadow

If  you can bear with the overlap of the two circles, hold it long enough, the mind and heart begin to push you into the necessary Creative Presence.

So, holding this overlap as best I can I find myself carefully reviewing how I can give in my network at a deeper, more contextual level; hopefully taking proper advantage of my waiting.

What is an important issue where you need to create a mind/heart mandorla and enter your Creative Presence?

For more on Presence, see post Shadow Strengths – Chapter Five (Presence)

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Networking, in order to be effective, must leverage your Voice. If you are a regular reader of mine then you know I’m not referring to an audible voice. I’m referencing your authentic self−how who you really are shows up in your interactions.

The networks we need today are the ones based in mutual respect. They are built on the common understanding that comes from a genuine meeting of the minds. They are fueled by generosity and kindness. They are reciprocal because of a desire to help the other, not out of obligation. They are connections that allow gifts to be exchanged, not favors tallied up. −Ric Gonzalez

What is Networking in this 21st Century? I like what Tim Sanders says in Love is the Killer App. He calls networking Biz Love, and says your network exists for you to:

  1. Share your knowledge; and what you continue to learn
  2. Share your web of relationships; and experience
  3. Share compassion; your ability to reach out

It seems, over the last three years, that my network has, for the most part, frozen; causing me to question the fruits of networking. The freeze has two sources. There is the outside force of an attention-demanding 21st Century culture, and there’s the inside failure to apply my voice consistently and confidently.

And then I must ask what it would take to thaw it. For the longest time the answer has been stuck in the personal confusion of the slow freeze. But now I know the only thing I can know, and do: I must allow my voice, in more full engagement, to thaw the connections.

So how do we apply the fullness of sharing in our networks? It is by sharing our own brand of love in our own network. And that brand of love is resonate in your voice. (see post, Shadow Strengths – Chapter Four (Voice))Skill 4

The paradox one must face, and hold, with the skill of Networking is the external competing demands colliding with the internal focus needed to stay true.

As you stand firm and hold these two for a while, you may more easily see the warm application and need for your voice.

From this middle stand you hold what you do with how you do it, until your voice presence reminds you of why you do what you do.

And so in my own network and networking I must reengage with both my Voice and my original Why I do what I do.

I’ve got some fresh Networking to do!

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Individual purpose and collective purpose can seem like opposites, and often working one against the other.

The leader’s personal purpose brings to light a confidence we who follow need to see. And we need to feel and hear how such confidence becomes our own. The 21st Century leader speaks from A New Confidence−a clear articulation rooted in purpose.

We can all appreciate the one who is practiced in the third skill of Messaging. When practiced and present, the messenger brings clarity in the moment. Such clarity becomes the foundation for engagement and the fuel for connection, combining to inform the future by our individual and collective choices in the present. Aimed at the collective, the engagingly clear message encourages individual purpose.

As a leader you must stand strong for us in the middle−in the creative tension of the space between what we need as individuals and what we need to pull and keep us together. This creative space exists only in the present.

Without getting into all the varying reasons, I think we can agree that change is a constant in this 21st Century. And while there are indeed many levels and types of change, any particular alteration can throw individuals in seemingly competing directions. From the same experienced change some begin a grieving process and others become excited to move forward. While we may react to change uniquely, we must soon come together in a proactive move through the change.

Skill 3Enter the 21st Century leader who leads us to connective clarity. This leader is not held back by a need to be understood that overwhelms the essentiality of understanding. Someone in a position of leadership who holds a selfish focus diminishes individual contribution−belittling efforts beyond their own capacity. But you, in A New Confidence, lead us with personal purpose, modeling for us in your message how individual purpose joins with and empowers collective purpose.

What a message eventually produces is not nearly as important, to those who need its clarity, as the creative space opened by the engaging view.

The clear message is basically Storytelling in its purest form. As it is told to us together, we each are engaged in seeing, hearing, and feeling it as our own.

Together we are transformed, driven by individual purpose and drawn into a collective vision.

For more on A New Confidence, see post:
Shadow Strengths – Chapter Three (A New Confidence)

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Communication does not achieve connection when the communicator has not made the effort to hold the paradox associated with Skill 2.

Skill 2 is Communication and Connection; number 2 of 7 skills I’ve found to be critical in leadership as we’ve fallen forward into the 21st Century. The 21st Century leader has become conscious of the power transferred through the energy of Desire & Intent. The power is in communication backed by purpose (the Why this leader does What she does). And such reinforced communication makes the connection intended.

Learning to hold & release comes about in that tense intersection of the desire that drives you and the intent that draws you out. Motivated by internal desire we are drawn to see more clearly the intent drawing us out. And while we want what is intended just as much as what is desired, we begin to realize the distance between desired reality and intended possibility. And thus a tension blasts into our consciousness. What a wonderful welcome into presence!

Passion evokes Passion.

Separating the internal energy of desire needed for communication clarity from the external intent of connection buries passion. In my work I continually find individual after individual whose passion has been buried in the avalanche of 21st Century busyness−a belief that we are too busy to spend proper time for self. If too busy for self, then one is inevitably too busy for those led−too distracted to truly absorb information, and so busy wiping away the swarm of data that listening is nonexistent.

“Working hard for something we don’t care about is called stress. Working hard for something we love is called passion.” −Simon Sinek

Your Desire & Intent is the energy for successfully exercising the skill of Communication and Connection. The melody of your passion is composed in Desire & Intent. Yes, communication is a skill that when properly applied creates connection. For communication and connection to come together and form this second 21st Century skill, you must become very attentive; placing Listening at the heart of articulation and association.

Skill 2The paradox of Skill 2 that must be held is with our desire to speak with credibility and the intent that our associated voice find resonance with the receivers. Your intended connection gives your desired communication a structure in which to come together as Communication and Connection, and subsequently deploy with impact.

This is holding the paradox of Skill 2, allowing credible articulation to overlap with associated reception. Confident openness flows from an authentic core; this is organic transparency valued in this 21st Century.

See post Shadow Strengths – Chapter Two (Desire & Intent)

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We need your confident leadership in this turbulent and distracting 21st Century. It is a struggle of unnecessary proportion when you attempt to lead void of the time for self that confidence demands. For this reason, your Impact, I consider the first of 7 skills as foundational: Personal/Professional Growth Management.

Hold & Release is a paradox.

What I offer in this writing is for you to open to the truth and blessing found in holding each paradox on the path of growth and development as a leader.

Hold & Release; an active visual that has my attention. It helps me understand the pull I know these days to hold together the requirements I feel from both internal and external forces. This may be in part attributable to the time of life where I find myself. But I also find I am fascinated with the holding of opposites−a reality, that when honored, opens the seeing to beautiful vistas both inside and outside. In actuality I’m being taught the oneness in all I see; that I’m privileged to see.

“Nothing is abstract unless we abstract it.” −Mark Nepo

As Robert A. Johnson says in his book, Owning Your Own Shadow, a contradiction is a quarrel. True paradox is a binding together, a teacher in each opportunity, if we can hold such long enough to see something in the overlap of seeming opposites.

Paradox is a constant reality for you, the 21st Century leader. You benefit from each one only as you hold the two opposing truths together long enough to see what you must release into the intersection that is the more fully formed truth.

When it comes to our growth and development, the distracting contradiction is the mental quarrel that we allow between selfish and selfless as we listen to the narrow, opinionated voice that says we are selfish if we take time for self.

Hold-ReleaseIn order to move beyond the quarrel, you must see a dedication to your growth and development as selfless−making you better for those you lead, influence, and serve. This brings you to the paradox of Skill 1. The two truths you must hold together are Internal Accountability and External Responsibility. It is not one or the other, it is both, and.

In this intersection of truths is your creative tension as a leader. Your leadership boldly enters the 21st Century as you hold this tension, and, from what you see, release into the flow.

In the intersection, in the artful act of Hold & Release, you grow in Authentic Confidence. This is precisely what the world now needs from you, and it is found in this often painful and tense intersection.

Should you not meet the challenge and learning in this paradox, we are cheated as your most authentic strengths remain in the shadows: see the post Shadow Strengths – Chapter One (Impact).

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I speak and write often about Story and The Flow to honor therein. Also in broken-record fashion I say …

It’s okay to love your work, and in your work, Love!

In this series of 7 posts, ending with this entry, I have focused on transformation (a movement into Trueness) and how certain points of consciousness can serve your leadership journey:

Transformation and Yes
The leadership life is about effortlessly holding ambiguity−the mystery in our own Trueness. The first holding must be for self; a commitment to your own growth and development.

Transformation and Authentic Tension
The purest communication and the deepest connection will naturally come to you as you live in that tense union created by the desire that drives you and the intent that draws you.

Transformation and Purpose (Vision)
When your messaging is clear, we are brought into the moment. We take the clearly expressed vision and begin to self-describe what it looks like to us as individuals; releasing creativity and building sustainable present action.

Transformation and Legacy
In your work, who are those who will remember you? It is those whose life and living were enhanced by the interaction. Networking is leaving a legacy one person at a time.

Transformation and Wonder
If  living in and through a transition is individual art, then it is so because of conscious design with wonder. To be with work you love−and in such work, love−is the energy for active giving in the world; flowing generosity from the best of who you are.

Transformation and Attention
To simply pay attention is to step into the accountability of artful presence; your hearing is focused. In caring enough to demonstrate such focus, we are drawn in by clarity and then out through individual engagement to co-facilitate connection.

And now …

Transformation and Hold & Release
As Trueness evolves into a living performance you are transformed. There is equanimity in the art of holding and in the necessity of releasing. Such powerful and personal transformation, and the subsequent building of leadership confidence, is precisely the energy we need from you−and with you.

As you hold us in the task of co-creation, you simultaneously release us into the larger story. You do this because you know you cannot build or tell this story alone. Storytellers love the listener through the well crafted and consciously told story.

And you, the 21st Century Leader, you love what you do−and in what you do, you love us! This moves us forward in the Story together.

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