21st Century Skill Paradox – Part 5

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)

BCL Blog 4


Skillfully Generous – Presence (Keep Your Cardinal Rule)


The 2013 National Storytelling Festival came around just as I entered my season of contemplation for this work I’ve been given. The Festivphotoal is an inspiring time in our little town as tents go up, thousands come, and stories are told. It is a time of presence between teller and listener.

My unfolding confidence swirls in the commerce of story. Yes, building a story with you is my love applied.

Coach Judy posed a question to me just before my work at the Festival began: “How do you balance your Trueness?” I knew, as usual, it was a great question from my skilled coach. Only I did not have an answer. Intuitively I know when I balance my Trueness; it is when I’m present with an individual, or individuals, trusting for what is needed in the interaction of the moment.

“Privilege” is a word I use often−mostly as I refer to individual spirits I’m privileged to know. My wife and I are indeed privileged to know Ed Stivender as a friend. Other than our moms and our daughter, I know of no other who has our names on their prayer list! If you know Ed at any personal level, you have then experienced his courteous and skillfully generous presence.

During the 2013 Festival Ed was interviewed on his process of building a story. In the interview Ed told a story of breaking his own Cardinal Rule for being with an audience of listeners. He told of how he broke this rule of “Give them a break from the world.” For Ed, stories are the dance floor and telling is the dance between he and his listeners; a present expression of Ed’s unique brand of love.

In his story of the broken rule, he allowed the current events of the world to invade the Story Space−the dance floor was compromised. Consequently, no one wanted to dance.

Because of Ed’s courageous telling of this specific story, a moment of awareness opened wide for me. Instantly I knew I was in the presence of Ed’s story for a providential reason.

“How do I balance my Trueness?”

Simply … by keeping my own Cardinal Rule:

That the Individual be Encouraged.

Thanks to Ed’s story I now consciously know my Rule of Presence−my own cardinal rule.

What is your cardinal rule; the rule you must consciously keep for all to be as it ought?

Your full presence to your purpose is your impact in this world!

Our Outer Accountability – Living Presence

A river that flows north does not flow backward. For this river it is a natural flow. Regardless of natural direction, rivers have been known to reverse flow. Tidal rivers aside, in these backward occurrences disaster was the result.

017When the critic pushes you to make better art, art that you are capable of, then her response is worth cherishing. But the critic who pushes you to fit in or dumb down you work−take that criticism with caution.
−Seth Godin, The Icarus Deception

What does it mean to live loudly? This I know certainly, it is not about sound. The volume of our presence is set at the intersection of our inner territory and our outer accountability. And the flow is always from the inner to the outer. The other direction is pollution.

Interest creates energy. Assuming accountability void of interest funded energy is a reverse flow dooming us to drown in a flood of meaningless action.

In Seth’s book quoted above, he asks two powerful questions. I share those here with my answers:
1) Who are my clients after they interact with me?
– They are “who they are.”
2) Who am I as a result?
– I am an authenticity artist in true giving.

Our presence appears lifeless without uniquely ordered flow. In a tragic reversal (like fitting in) we are silenced. Again, this is not about sound, but it is about voice: that core something that must be present in each interaction for potential to become reality. And when voice is present, others hear loud and clear.

See companion truth – Our Inner Territory – The Art of Presence

Know Thyself – Presence in the 21st Century

Please do not wait for all to fall into some preordered comfortable arrangement, some sweet package making it easy to be present, as this is not the path to know true presence.

True presence, as an act of being with, is a gift to the other person. Do not underestimate the impact of this life-sustaining sharing of authentic energy. In the self-inflicted stress of distraction we cheat ourselves out of the wonderful blessing in an unexpected moment. In an interview I watched, I heard Drew Barrymore say, “Expectation is the mother of deformity.”

How tragically precise we can be at creating well-intended, misguided expectations that ultimately limit us in actually holding what might really be possible.

I am reminded of what so often bothered me through the years about “retreats” focused on some hot method to supposedly help us create some magical vision that all would readily understand and implement accordingly back in the workplace. We would compose some cryptic statement incapable of generating even one spark while expecting a raging inferno of results in the troops.

Do not, please, translate any such corporate exercise into your individual, purposeful presence.

Purpose is not out there someday when−not for you! Purpose is Now, in this moment with you, in your true presence.

Know thyself in a flowing constancy−and we will know encouraging power in your presence.

A Soul Dance with Presence

Life is not a mindless reality show with a panel of recognized and unrecognized names judging our dance steps. It oft feels this way, but it is not true.

Our soul dance is graceful expression only as we move in self-assured flow.

Such confident movement is the face of a voice-infused presence.

In terms of personality and preference, Judy is high in strength where I am low and I am high in strength where she is low. This is just one reason our mutual coaching relationship works well. In light of the coaching she gives me I can easily point to a main contributing factor; her ability to be present.

Judy’s dedication to presence with those she coaches is no surprise when I consider her voice of Integrity−a commitment to a robust balance of all the right ingredients. I not only see her confident movement in the coaching process, I feel its impact as she pushes me when needed and holds back when I must hold the thinking for myself. This skill is not exercised by the selfish−those dancing for the unqualified judge.

The glittering object of desire is often seen as the answer to all present difficulties. … It is a want that may actually be a way of stopping real things from happening. −David Whyte, The Three Marriages: Reimagining Work, Self and Relationships

Judy’s soul dance is artfully focused on her purpose to coach others in situations of importance. Her desire is firmly situated in the present, grounded by a purpose allowed to freely serve another in the present.

How privileged I am to be served by her focused presence.

Skill 5: A Generational Alliance

As Brian Whetten teaches his clients, you market self and service in this 21st Century by Giving. I have been focused on this approach for 11 years.

Ironically, the most genuine, authentic forms of giving require the greatest level of detachment. When we are emotionally invested in a pre-conceived outcome, then our act of giving is more about our own feelings and desires than it is about the benefits to the other person.  If you can remove emotional attachment to the outcome, then the outcome actually changes.  The outcome is no longer the observable reaction of the individual but the actual impact of the gift given. −Ric Gonzalez

Mentor as Teacher/Learner of Experience
(Skill 5: Giving)

Here is my creative tension that is sometimes hard to hold; giving as an elder while still having to make a living in this challenging climate.

We no longer need to change or adjust other people to be happy ourselves. Ironically, we are more than ever before in a position to change people−but we do not need to−and that makes all the difference. −Richard Rohr, Falling Upward

Where am I in this eldership? Richard again says it best; “We do what we are called to do and then try to let go of the consequences.”

Mentee as Learner/Teacher in Experience
(Skill 5: Discovery and Cultivating Confidence)

Help us develop the confidence to assume increasing levels of responsibility. Give us the freedom to create our own path and the support to make the story our own. When the time is right, give us the support needed to close one chapter of our story and begin a new chapter. Realize that because of our strong commitment to the networks we create, it will be difficult for us to find the courage to leave that behind and begin making our own vision a reality.
−Jason Guinn

To give is to be in a joyful space. No matter your generation you have something to give now. Be present with your gift and allow us the gift of your presence.

Release Presence into Skill 5

Listening is the commitment allowing providence to move in the information shared between two individuals. Listening sharpens my awareness of the encounters while wading. Listening opens doors.
−Wading the Stream of Awareness
(Presence Chapter)

In listening free from judgment, you respectfully open genuine love for the authenticity of the individual. Happiness is for the present and for those with presence.

My grandmother was my best friend in my important, developing years. She listened−truly listened. She heard me in what I said to her when we had our wonderful talks. In my final years at the university, I was not far from her home. On many weekends I would drive through the small county towns to get to her house. She would cook for me delicious meals and complain that she could no longer cook well.

Commitment to your own voice and purpose opens the door for providence to bring your past and future together in the present. (Presence Chapter)

In the presence of my grandmother I was happy. I was simply and plainly just happy. She was a giver. There were no conditions. If you had a need, then she gave. In those years at the university I had a need to talk; to be heard. She gave, and gave lavishly, by listening.

It is experiences like those with my grandmother that I bring into my presence. They are treasures. And bounty such as this assures me in my future−a future that is not someday, but now.

My own voice of love, and purpose of encouragement, were so providentially influenced by my grandmother. For this I am eternally thankful … and I anxiously await the status of grandparent!

See sister post, Letting Go into Presence