Presence – Pour Yourself

Constantly I am encouraged by the leaders with whom I am privileged to work. There is wisdom residing in them ahead of their experience.

I feel the call to fill them as they pour themselves into the world.

On the morning I began this I found myself meditating on the word pour. Upon visiting a thesaurus, I discovered the push and pull in the brief definition: be or make flowing.

I don’t know about you, but for me I am more attentive than ever to where I direct my energy, and in how I replenish. This is, I’m sure, because of my stage and place in life & living.

“What you focus on grows.” —Ted Senf

Consider the truth of this; consider both danger and power. Focus is dangerous when you give power to negativity and limitation. Focus is positively powerful when it flows forth from the connection of Passion to Purpose to Presence.

To live with and for Impact is to live the flow.

To focus is to allow the clarity of your intended impact to guide you in the present. And impact flows through simple focus. Focus as a noun is illusive; as a verb it is thoroughly frustrating—if we feel we have to chase it.

To be in-focus is to know what it is you really do. The how of focus is in making choices and decisions that flow forth from your what.

In my brief meditation I considered how and where I pour myself. Along with that I considered the source that fills me again. To pour oneself is what it’s all about. This is fulfilling, if one pours from the integrity of Trueness. It takes a lot of work to learn presence and the art of being present with Trueness.

It fulfills me to watch a leader put passion into motion toward purpose, and then observe the transforming power of their presence as they learn to pay attention; pouring themselves into the flow.

A Poem for Your Pouring

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The Work of Trueness – Focus

When leading from your authentic self you inspire others from balanced focus. After all these years in my work, I’m certain this is the only path to inspiring another.

What is focus?

I offer as an answer a balanced way of seeing through this portal. Internally, focus is the purpose through which your passion prepares to flow by your unique presence into the world. Externally, once flowing in the world, focus becomes an attraction to a common and collaborative center.

I’m writing this just days after returning from work at a client location. I was there to open a dialogue with John’s executive team around organizational transition and cultural transformation. While I had prepared an outline for the conversation, I knew that if I listened carefully enough, it would take on its own life. And indeed it did.

This team of leaders had been diligently working for the past year acting on specific behavioral commitments as a result of strategic dialogue focused on the story of the organization. John listened to his group of leaders. After this year of good work fueled by the clarity of a strategic story, he realized that each individual, through the cloud of busyness, had lost focus.

As is almost always the case−in the reality of the ‘J-Curve’ or the Dip−our movement toward the goal takes a turn down. This is when it is imperative to not lose focus on Why we are doing all we are doing.

It is only in the energy of why that we push through.

That’s when it happened; one of the most powerful pictures I’ve ever heard painted by the words of a leader. John sat back in his chair. As his words came forth he leaned into the presence of each individual in the room: “A chance to do what we have the opportunity to do with this organization comes along once, maybe twice, in an entire career.”

The renewed energy for focus was in John’s confident and open presence, where he drew individual energy to a collaborative center.

I only hope each person present felt what I felt. The doors of possibility flew open in my mind. Collaborative energy burned red and hot.

Impact was broadened through such focus!

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21st Century Skill Paradox – Part 6

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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Transformation and Attention

Confident, flowing presence is the source energy for focus.

Ads for certain energy drinks spout tiring clichés in an effort to provide you with an answer to the focus they think you need. Such boiler plate bull is no help in the complexity we know in this 21st Century.

The focus needed in the whirl of this century is not what we might think; if we are fooled into believing what the hawkers of such hooey are slinging. It is a beautiful ability when one learns to simply pay attention.

Attention given to the moment−and to the other−frees your purpose as you focus through each success and above every failure. Such purposeful focus keeps us in the story with you.

I had a dream where I was employed at a firm where creativity was supposed to flow; but it was not in such abundance. Others began to look to me for inspiration in order to once again see creativity flow. As I was in the middle of my inspiring action, I awoke. Immediately I grabbed pen and paper and recorded the following;

Leaders look out beyond themselves …
Their power out there is in how they look out there …
They see out and beyond as they see thru themselves−they embrace who they are.
They see what is unfolding ahead of the union of the internal and the external.
To put it simply … They See!

As a 21st Century leader you have stepped into the accountability of artful presence. In such presence you share the power of a stand in the middle−a neutral stance facilitating each of us toward a collective energy. This collective energy is the story of us. Any story worth our collective attention pulls us into the present by the energetic flow of clarity to engagement to connection.

What does it mean to truly pay attention? In my own experiential joy in moments of presence, I find myself listening diligently−attending with an energy that allows me to even hear what is not said, to see beyond words.

“When we listen with our mind, we understand more of life. When we listen with our heart, we feel more of life. When we listen with our entire being and spirit, we are transformed and joined with life itself.”
Mark Nepo, Seven Thousand Ways to Listen

It is painfully impossible to listen with our entire being and spirit when we fail to be present. In this 21st Century, giving such attentive interest facilitates the collective energy needed to move us forward.

When you, as a leader, care enough to demonstrate such focus, we are drawn in by clarity and then out through individual engagement to co-facilitate connection.

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Skillfully Generous – Focus (Coming Together)

Dave and John are two leaders who are skillfully generous in their own specialized ways. Each approach, while different, exhibits powerful similarity: Focus−an attraction to a common, collaborative center.

Dave is a natural storyteller. He leads with story−a commitment to the priority of coming together. Dave keeps those he leads in the story. As all are busy with implementation and execution, he continually helps each individual “see” the value of any desired direction, and possible consequent action, in terms of People Value.

Too many in leadership positions know intellectually the right things to do but are held back from generous action debilitated by busyness. Not John. Dedicated to the same priority as Dave to the coming together, John draws individuals toward a collaborative center by simply showing up. As the one in-charge he is anything but elusive. John is committed to his connection methodology of simply stopping by to talk with individuals throughout the organization. He shows up at events where he listens to thought leaders and customers.

Personal presence, confident and open, is the source for focus; a drawing of individual energy to a collaborative center. And the leader’s generous delight keeps us energized for the work of the moment and for the next challenge.

Dave and John seek out information important to collective, focused direction.

Dave’s leadership in and with the story is balanced by his stand that What is for the mind and Why is for the heart. Both he and John know you must have both for people to be engaged.

Whether it is pulling us together in and by the story or modeling for us how to collaborate in the story, it is the generosity of leaders like Dave and John that draws us in and then out.

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Our Outer Accountability – Living Focus

Commitment as an individual begins the flow that unfolds into a productive, collective accountability.

The act of becoming a facilitator was accomplished in the art of practice. Without the risk of trial and error−and as I learned and played with new knowledge−I would have never found myself standing in the middle of varying collectives ready to listen and flow with what I heard.

In my hunger for knowledge I become ever more accountable for what I do with the knowing; and what I do must translate into a living focus. Focus lives externally, in outer accountability, only as it finds life internally; rooted deeply in your passion. Your outwardly focused passion, supported by values, strengths, and skill, is precisely what we need from you when you are standing before us.

Our moment-to-moment experience is improvisational, even though it exists within a structure or plan. … True improvisation is always an act of responsibility: it implies a conscious morality.
−Patricia Ryan Madson, Improv Wisdom

Living focus means you keep going in spite of failure; and yes, in spite of success. Remember, that in leadership, maturity is about practice. The art of practice opens you to the flow and connection of knowledge and application−a perpetual learning-to-application impact. This is the progressive power of accountability.

In view of a larger story, your focus is a choice−a decision confidence to which we are drawn as you trust your own passion and purpose.

See companion truth –  Our Inner Territory – A Source for Focus

Know Thyself – Focus in the 21st Century

What is the congruous impact of your focus?

In the presence of a manager who cannot facilitate a unifying focus, we lose hope for the collective possibilities.

Focus is not just doing one thing at a time. This narrow definition does not begin to narrate the story of focus required of us in this 21st Century. True leadership emanates from the flow of inner to outer; from the internal to the external. In other words, your impact in this world is driven forth (pushed and pulled) from who you are.

In the flow of such leadership you can be with us from the core of your experience unhindered by border distractions. In his book, The Courage to Teach, Parker J. Palmer builds his case around one powerful assertion: “We teach who we are.”

As I am studying Palmer’s work, I am substituting “coach” for “teach.” And yes, it is true: I coach who I am! Continually I am thankful for the validation of my impact flowing through my Desire & Intent−my Living Methodology.

In the journey of years, this methodology of focus has helped me discover a simple and complex dedication to a cycle of energy diligently rooted in my true self. Knowing yourself in the balance of internal/external supports how you facilitate peace/unity from the middle−a place to stand in the leverage of your personal focus.

Like a loving teacher (or coach as it were) a leader is known as great as he/she opens broad potential through a narrow and powerful portal of focus−grounded in the energy of who they are.