Sunday, July 7, 2019

What if you do nothing?

She had laid out her whole story... all the background data, her assessment of the issues and how she perceived them, and how her emotions were in play.  She was beginning to develop some action-step options for moving forward.

And then, one of the other forum members asked, "What if you do nothing?"

Silence. Quiet filled the room.

After a pause and a slight bit of knowing laughter, she said “Well, it might just work itself out. We're doing a lot of the right things. Maybe it just needs a little time.”

Sometimes we get caught up in being "action-oriented.”  We fix things by doing a bunch of stuff.  And, sometimes we forget that "doing nothing" is a viable option!

Reflecting on the "do nothing trail" helps me separate the facts from the fiction in any area of my life.  It helps me become an observer and lifts me out of my desire for action.  Reflecting on the idea of doing nothing different from what I’m already doing helps me take stock from a different perspective.

And, doing nothing is sometimes the very best thing to do.

Onward!

V

Friday, March 29, 2019

What’s Your Cause? A Birthday Challenge


I shared with Paul Warner that for my 60th birthday I wanted to do a vertical ski challenge.   He said, “Great! Let’s do 60,000 vertical in a day!”

Yikes! So I did a little research and math and wouldn’t you know, it is actually possible! It’ll be about 30 big mountain laps over 6-7 hours.  So we rallied his family and a few others and will be on the first chair at Beaver Creek Saturday morning. It’s a totally arbitrary target, and has been fun to prep for. “60 for 60!”

The valuable part for me is simply the process of joining together with some good friends to see if we can rise to the physical and mental challenge. But is there a greater purpose or cause? Should we be “skiing to end hunger” or raising $60,000 for some other charitable effort? We could do that, and certainly have at other times. But no, this time the cause is friendship. I believe in the value and importance of meaningful, authentic, intimate, and treasured friends... and am committed in my life to make the world a friendlier place for all. So, here’s to good friends. May we each value what we have over what we don’t, and connect well with ourselves and a few others along the way.

Onward!

V

Sunday, March 10, 2019

It’s Not Safe Here!

I was debriefing a meeting that I had attended with another guy and he made the comment, “That meeting was totally unsafe.”

Really? I felt very comfortable in my skin, knew what I was about, had clear boundaries. Wouldn’t have judged it “totally unsafe” as he had. But, it was his judgment. His experience. His emotional response, perhaps. And, he didn’t own it that way. To him, “that meeting was totally unsafe.”

Well, there’s a lot of talk about safe and unsafe people. Or, places where you feel safe. Or groups that are safe. “I don’t feel safe with you” is a common statement in relationship.

But then, is “safe” really a feeling, an emotion? Is it Anger? Sadness? Fear? Joy? Huh. Maybe “safe” isn’t so much an emotion as it is a judgment or an observation about what is going on inside of you. So, a good question to get to the root of it would be, “when I judge that I am unsafe, how am I feeling?”

My guess is that the emotion most often connected to safety is fear. I feel fear when I judge that I am at risk of getting hurt- hurt emotionally or hurt physically. So, the clear statement about the meeting might be, “I felt some fear around the possibility of betrayal or loss at that meeting…” or something like that.

And, if “I am feeling unsafe with you”, I might want to own it as, “When I am with you, I feel fear. I make up a story that I might be betrayed in some way because that has happened before. I know it’s just my story, and it’s my feeling of fear…”

When I can own my emotion… in this case fear… I become empowered then to take action, to set a boundary, to take 100% responsibility for what is happening in my life, to step from victim into maturity and to clarify my want… in short, to be me.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Letting Go

I have this great poem called “Transitions” that talks about how the trapezist must let go of the one trapeze in order to grab onto the next. And, in between, there is a moment where they are holding onto neither but instead flying through air. It’s the same in rock climbing. Often, you have to let go of one hand or foothold and commit to the forward movement in order to reach the next. There’s also the story of the Spanish Explorer who burnt the ships in the harbor once they reached the new world. There was no going back… only forward.

What is it about letting go?

Long held beliefs or desires
Vigorously staked out positions on an issue
What I wanted it to be and not what it is. 

Perhaps it is about grieving what isn’t, or hasn’t, or didn’t, or couldn’t. It’s not about fixing a blame or needing to be right.  For me, it’s about accepting what is and then choosing my next step wisely. Because, in the end, every step we take is a choice. And, that choice can be driven by the past or the things we haven’t yet let go of, or it can be driven by the present, and the maturity in which we live in this moment.

So, what do you want to let go of, or accept today?

Monday, December 3, 2018

BUSTED

A while ago I was speaking at a retreat for couples, sharing some clean communication skills and how to clear issues. Only, the issues they were bringing up in practice were, well, bland at best. Nothing juicy. And, I like juicy. I mean, if we’re going to work, let’s WORK!

So, I asked if one of the women would come up front and role play with me. I’ll be the husband coming in from work and have an issue, I said. She said, okay.

And, off I went. Only, I kept going. What was supposed to be a role play all of a sudden was waaaaay tooooo real. I was having a ball! My dark little internal predator was out to play and we were letting this poor woman have it!

She was a little shocked. And then, the other women in the audience came to her defense. “What was that?!?” they cried. I took a step back and breathed.

“You weren’t clearing an issue… you were on the attack!”

The men came to my defense. “What’s the problem?” they said. And the room erupted.

Finally, I was able to restore order and get a word in. “Okay. I’ll own that I was on an emotional roll. There was more going on than just this moment. And, I’ll ask everyone to own your judgments of the scene as just your judgments. I’ll own my part. You own your part, okay? And now... everyone breathe.”

So, here’s the deal. In a nano-second, some old emotional baggage found a crack and leaked out. My internal predator was driving my bus. So, instead of clearing an issue and talking about the emotions involved, my emotions were driving the bus in that moment. It's the difference between "being in" my emotions versus "talking about" my emotional experience.

When I stepped back to breathe, I was able to ask myself “What’s really going on here?” and own it and bring it out into the light. No defensiveness, just curiosity.

Later in the session, we all had a good laugh about how our emotions can sometimes drive the bus. A teachable moment indeed.

Monday, November 5, 2018

What is the Best Question?

And then he offered, "The value people like you bring to our table is not only asking good questions, but helping us ask the right questions. And, I've noticed that the questions I want to ask as CEO of a big organization are quite different then the questions I asked as I was moving up through the ranks. And sometimes, I forget that and fall into old scripts."

"Give me an example", I asked.

"Well, when I check in with a tactical question... "is the report completed?" for example, I get a tactical response- yes or no. Not very high value. If I ask a strategic question... "how will this report move us toward our desired outcomes?" I get a higher level response. And the home run is when I ask a generative question... "what's the story we're making up about the data in this report?" That's when I get the best from my people."

So, what's the best question for you to be asking today?

Onward!

V

Monday, October 1, 2018

First to Fall

A while back I was having a conversation with a young man attending a conference with his dad. Over the course of the two or three days, I noticed a certain discomfort or awkwardness between the two.

I began to craft the story that both the father and son were waiting for something to happen in their relationship. Perhaps they were waiting for the other to do something, to take some sort of step forward toward the other. It was like I was watching this unspoken game of “who will be the first to fall?” being played out.

“First to fall?” You know, the first to go vulnerable. To speak their truth. To state a desire in the relationship. Without a stated desire on the table it was just a game of wait and see. Of looking to the other person to take responsibility for the relationship.

“What would it look like for you to take 100% responsibility for your part in this relationship? “ I asked him.

“Well, I’d have to get clear on what I want first. Then I suppose I could take responsibility for that.”

Huh.

It seems to me that there is 200% responsibility in every relationship. I own 100% responsibility for my part and you own 100% responsibility for your part. I can’t own your part and I can’t control you… all I can do is own 100% of my part in the relationship.

When I look to someone else to define or create the relationship I desire, I give up the power to own and define my own life. Better to get clear and ask for what I want… recognizing that I don’t always get what I want. And, sometimes, I do.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

What Really Happened? (Or, Love Wins, Again)


Sometimes it is helpful to take a step back and ask myself, “what really happened?”  What I mean by “really” is… what was the visible, verifiable, observable, recordable by a drone flying overhead thing that occurred in real time?  

Because, my mind is very good at making up stories.  I can take a set of facts and have a field day writing a story of what I wanted to make whatever happen mean.

So, on August 23, I was with my Dad when he stopped breathing.  For several hours before, I had been quietly saying to him in his un-responsive place, “Dad, your job here is to breathe.  Just breathe.  And, you’re almost there.  You can do it.”  At 9:15pm he was breathing.  At 9:20pm he was not breathing.  A few minutes later, two nurses came into his room in the Care Center and declared that he was no longer alive.  Those were the verifiable and visible facts.

And...

I have a belief that there is an invisible realm.  We can see neither our “mind” nor our “spirit.”  They are invisible and non-locatable.  So, while my Dad’s physical, observable, body was no longer judged to be alive, I make up a story that his invisible parts are very much still alive and well.  Actually, in my story, my Dad’s invisible parts are better off than they have been since he started slipping into dementia years ago.  And further, like many many people before me who have reported similar experiences, there was the briefest moment in my dad’s passing where I believe (and, beliefs are just another story I make up) that the invisible realm became visible to him.  I saw it in his eyes.  I saw it in the smile that spread across his face like the one that always followed that first bite of the McDonald’s ice cream sundaes I used to sneak in for him.  “That’s goooooood” he would say in his gravely voice.  He was seeing beyond what I or any of us on this side of the line can see.  There was no fear.  Only love.  And, it was good.

Love Wins.  It’s the title of Rob Bell’s groundbreaking book.  And, it’s a theme for my life.  After 9 ½ years in the care center and perhaps a decade of decline before, Love won with my Dad.  The visible gave way to the invisible and it was good.  Many raised in the Christian tradition are a bit sheepish about suggesting that God might win the day with every single life that transitions out of the physical and visible realm.  It got Rob fired as a megachurch pastor.  I know I was skeptical.  It’s a scandalous idea when you’ve been taught to think in terms of eternal heaven and eternal hell.  And today, I’m here to say, Love Wins.  Every time.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Who Was He?

He was a little league coach, a volunteer ski instructor for the elementary school, a Gra-Y Club leader, and gave the daily business report on the local TV channel. He took us into the outdoors in blue jeans and cotton shirts, got us lost, soaked us to the skin, and reminded us that even with all the mishaps, “I brought everyone home”. He was a regular fixture on the sidelines of his kids and grandkids soccer, baseball, football, basketball, water polo, and roller hockey games. He supplied 6oz Coors beers at teenager parties so “everyone could look cool but no one got drunk.” He made world-class French Toast and spaghetti feeds for the masses. When asked for permission to do just about anything, he was quick with “do whatever you think is best.” He was kicked out of USC for running a panty raid and landing on the cover of Life Magazine. He knew how to throw a party, twirl a girl on the dance floor, and to the end loved the attention of a pretty woman. And, to him, all women were pretty. If he walked into a room of strangers he saw a hundred people who wanted to talk to him. He could have a pair hanging around his neck and another on his head and still toss out a string of curses for whoever had taken his glasses. Those who cared for him the last 9 ½ years knew his smile, wit, and charm were just waiting for the right moment to pounce, and even when he couldn’t string a sentence together he would laugh at exactly the right moment in the story you were telling and do a little jig in his wheelchair to Darktown Strutters Ball. He was Joey, Dad, Uncle Joe, Grandpa and Great Grandpa. He was Joe Corsaro. Born in Redondo Beach on March 29, 1931 and peacefully left us for the adventure beyond on August 23, 2018.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

You've Got a Friend


Mo and I went to see James Taylor last night at the Hollywood Bowl after seeing him together in 1988 or so.  I first hired Mo when I was 23.  She was 18 and we’ve remained friends through the years.  It was a stellar evening in our box seats with a little cafĂ© table where we enjoyed an awesome picnic and a nice bottle of Petite Syrah.  I cried through most of the concert.  Tears of joy as the songs opened-up a vault of memories… appreciating all the moments which form the fabric of life and stitch together to form the person I am today.


On the way driving from Palm Springs to LA, I also had a chance to catch up with Marcia on the phone.  When I was 15, 16, 17, Marcia would put a stack of records on the turntable… James Taylor, Carole King, Joni Mitchell, others of that era… and we’d lie around on the white shag carpeting listening in her living room.  Her home was a place of refuge away from the chaos across the street at my house.  It was safe.  Peaceful.  Dinner on the dot at 6.   I’d often eat there before going home to eat again with my family.  Appreciative memories.  Her mom took me to the DMV to get my license on my 16th birthday.  They were my village.  

Memories of 17 anchor for me.  It’s when I was the youth director for our Countywide 4-H summer camp playing guitar in front of 300 campers and adult leaders.  It’s when I drove away in my green Chevy Vega to attend school at Cal Poly, SLO, full of myself as I jumped into the world.  

Life is full of moments.  Some I’m proud of, some bring me shame and heartache.  And as I rolled through the “tapes” in my mind last night the tears flowed.  And this morning, sipping a cup of coffee alone in my backyard, the tears continue to flow as James plays on Pandora. 

Today, I’m appreciating Mo and Marcia.  To both of you… just call out my name, and wherever I am I’ll come running.  You’ve got a friend. 

Onward!

V







Tuesday, May 15, 2018

What is Your Choice?

When I hear a similar story three times in as many days, I get curious!

The western world of medicine has an amazing ability to prolong life these days.  So, when is it okay to choose not to?  When is it okay to say "I choose not to treat."  Perhaps, it's okay at the moment of mature clarity that says  "I see my choices and I choose to not treat."

The three stories this week came from widely diverse circumstances across the age spectrum.  To me, the details are less important than the personal resolve.  The utmost clarity.  Acceptance and appreciation flowing freely.

What do you think?

Onward!

V

Monday, April 16, 2018

What have we learned?

Is there ever a bad time to take a step back and ask ourselves, "What have we learned?"  I don't think so.  And, how often is the crazy thing we are doing right now directly in conflict with a "lesson learned" from the past!  Capturing and anchoring learnings seems to me an important part of living in my maturity while aspiring to be an effective and inspirational leader.

Today marks the 103rd anniversary of a terrible atrocity in what is now Turkey against some 1.5 million Armenians.  The Armenians were living in their homeland (it was Armenia!) but their land was arbitrarily given to the Turks as the Ottoman Empire unfolded.  The Armenians were then systematically exterminated.  Many of the survivors of the genocide escaped to Syria... and have now been displaced over the past five years by the civil unrest in their adopted country.

And, while I can't solve the complex geo-political issues of our time, I can always look at myself and stay curious about...
  • "How are my actions imposing my will on someone else?" 
  • "How am I taking 100% responsibility for my part in this mess?"
  • "How might I create a win-win solution in this issue?"
And the list goes on.  My desire is to remember the lessons learned and in order to do so, I do well to stop, reflect, and anchor what it is I've learned, every day.

Onward!

V

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Just for Grins...

In the first ten minutes of a conversation, the CEO said,
    “I make really good decisions.”
“I am good at keeping emotion out of my decision making.”

“I do things right.”

I stopped the conversation.  “So, just for grins are you open to not being right about any of that?  Are you open to an opposite point of view?”
“What do you mean”, he asked.
 
“Just try any of these on…”
  • “Sometimes, I make poor decisions.”
  • “Sometimes, my emotions effect my decision making.”
  • “Sometimes, I don’t do things right.”
“I don’t like those,” he said.
 
“I know.  But, how does it change the way you might act in the situation?  How might you shift your perspective?”
 
“Well if I was concerned about a poor decision being made or my emotions were driving the bus, I might engage some people smarter than me in the conversation.  I might not assert my opinion so forcefully.  I might be more open.”
 
“And, what might happen with your team in that case?”
 
“Okay.  I get it.  They’d buy in.  They’d have a chance to weigh in.  I’d be getting the best from the people I’ve hired to bring their best.”
 
“So, both can be true? You can believe you make good decisions and you can also derive value by approaching a situation as if you believed you might make a poor decision?”
 
“Yes, Vince.”
  
Cool.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Curious or Critical?

A million years ago I was coming off a successful operating executive experience and landed the CEO job I had always wanted.  I was 35 years young and eager to make my mark.

As you do at the beginning of a new job, I was meeting with people at all levels, key stakeholders, long-term employees and new ones alike.  The Board gave me great freedom to move about and explore the landscape.  In my enthusiastic self, everyone seemed happy to hear what I had to say and seemed ready to march to the new beat that I brought.  Perhaps.

Within a few weeks, I began to notice that while people were happy to talk, they really weren't all that interested in changing anything.  They were committed to the way they had always done things.  "But, where do I get to leave my mark?" I began to lament to myself.  "These people are stuck in an old mindset,  they have no plan, they are entrenched and all the power is being held by the wrong people.  Can't they see it?"  I became more and more critical.  Disillusioned.

About 90 days in, the HR Manager came into my office and shut the door.  Rarely is it a good thing when the HR Manager shuts the door.  So, I braced myself.

"You know Vince," she said, "This place has somehow managed to survive for almost 100 years before you got here.  From your questions and the way you are moving about, it sounds like you don't think we've ever done anything right.  You might get a better response if you showed up with a little more curiosity."

Hmm.  Her 2x4 upside my head hurt.

And, I heard her. I had been coming from a place of criticism.  I saw problems with the way things were being done and my questions were digging in to clarify and confirm that my criticisms were correct and that things needed to change.  Instead of appreciating what was going right, I had been on a hunt to verify what was wrong.  And, the troops were pushing back against me, defending themselves, and drawing the battle lines.  Yikes!

So, did I make a course correction?  I like to think so!  Within a year or so I looked around the room and realized that more people were paddling with me than against me.  I noticed that we were aspiring to a vision that seemed to be embraced by all.  A few people had left and I had made a couple of key hires which had helped solidify the team.  Appreciation and curiosity seemed to be more the norm than criticism and defense.

My sense is that over time, curiosity wins the day over criticism.  Not a big surprise, but sometimes surprising that I need to learn it over and over again.

As I look at my life today, am I coming from a place of curiosity or criticism?

Onward!

V

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Coffee?

For nearly twenty years I have had a regular Friday morning coffee group.  First in south Orange County and then Palm Springs, these guys have become some of my closest confidantes and friends.  Someone asked me the other day, "How does it work?"
  1. Find four to six people.  Commit with one another. 
  2. Pick a spot.  I like public coffee shops with dispersed seating or a little privacy. 
  3. Pick a regular meeting time.  Usually 60-90 minutes.  I like mornings.
  4. Show up.  Even if only one of you is in town/available that week, still show up.  You'll enjoy coffee by yourself thinking about your friends.
  5. Agree on a little structure.
    • Quick Check In:  "What are three words that describe you today?"
    • Conversation Question:  Whoever is moderating today picks a good question and answers it first.  An example:  "If you could be world-class in anything, what would it be?"  No long conversation.  Just a way to engage.
    • Brief Personal Updates:  4-5 minutes per person, uninterrupted, no questions.  I like giving "three headlines" or quick summaries and then unpack one in more detail:  "Here are the facts... the stories I make up... how I feel... and what I want.  My next steps are..."
    • After everyone has a turn, close with appreciations and action commitments. 
The Big Idea is to create a space to give the story of your life some airtime, without being fixed, analyzed, solved, or judged.  Keep it safe and confidential.  Try it.  And, reach out if I can help you set it up.  Super easy.  Very powerful.

Onward!

V

Monday, September 25, 2017

Where is the King?

Facilitating a team retreat the other day and I shared, "The King has every right to leave the castle and head off into battle. But when they do, they put the kingdom at risk."

"That's cool Vince.  What are you talking about?" the group asked.

Let's unpack this a bit.  When I think of all the great stories of knights and castles and courts and ladies, there are always certain characters that show up.  The King... The Warrior... The Lover... the Wizard... and what I've learned is that these characters (or archetypes) have a certain place in each of us right here right now.  We each have an "Inner King" and an "Inner Warrior" and I believe it serves us well to get to know these parts. 

So, when I think about the "King" in me (or the "Sovereign"), I am thinking about that part of me that holds, comforts, initiates, and decides things.  That's what Kings do!  I need my "Inner Sovereign" to be online and not get too caught up in the day to day grind of what's in front of me at this moment.  I need my Inner King to hold the balance between protecting and expanding my life.

And so, going back into many of the ancient stories, when the King leaves the castle bad stuff happens.  Evil wizards take over.  Lovers swoop in and wreak havoc.  Warriors raid and take their plunder.  Things run amok. 

"Okay.  Keep going," they said.  "And help us see what this has to do with our CEO?"

Think about the role of the CEO.  The CEO's role is to initiate, decide, align with purpose, comfort and celebrate... in short... a lot like the sovereign of days gone by.  But, before you go bowing and scraping to your CEO, let the metaphor just land on the governance role of the King... not the royal pomp bit.

Often, the CEO was the best damn Sales Manager this company ever knew.  Or the best CFO.  Or, the best COO back in the day.  So, it is no surprise that the CEO might have something to say about those roles now.  About how things should be done.  But, the CEO's job is not to direct activity.  It is to define outcomes.  It's up to today's hot shot Sales Manager to figure out the way to hit the outcome.  That's why he or she is the hot shot sales manager.  If the CEO defines the activity for the hot shot, well, the hot shot likely isn't all that hot.  He or she is just creating a dependency on the CEO... which drains energy and risks keeping the CEO from focusing on the more important issues of stewarding, protecting and advancing the broader work of the enterprise.

"Wow.  We get it.  But really, there will be no bowing to the CEO, correct?"

Correct.

Onward!

V

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

What Do I Do Now?

"For the first time in my career I now report directly to the CEO."
"Cool", I said.  "What are you noticing different?"
"It's weird.  The CEO doesn't expect me to really DO anything.  But I better be able to communicate what is going on in my area in just a few words and speak clearly to the end results."
"It sounds like you're being pushed a bit?"
"Well yeah.  I've always been measured by what I personally got done.  Now, I just make sure that an awful lot is accomplished, and more importantly I've got to be able to wrap it all up in a sound bite!"
"So, how's it working for you?"
"At first it was very uncomfortable.  Now, I'm learning that my job is really more about listening and asking good questions.  I used to think I had to answer all the questions to be valuable.  It's a shift."
And that's the difference between a producer (or an "operator", or "the front end") and an executive.  Producers get things gone.  Executives hold all the tension in an organization, all the risk, the biggest picture.  Executives ask good questions, communicate clearly, and make things happen.


Onward!
V

Friday, February 3, 2017

How is that Working for You?

When I first headed out to build a leadership development practice ten years ago, everyone said, "Vince, you need to come up with a catchy name, create a website, write a book, get some products to sell in order to be successful!"  None of that sounded interesting to me so I decided instead to "do good work".  And, it works for me.

"If it works for you, keep it," I say!

So for now, this blog and simple introduction works for me!  My practice is full and vibrant and flexible and I love it!  Could I do more?  Probably.  And, I enjoy the life balance of time in the mountains, at the beach, and in the desert.  I enjoy coming alongside an eclectic group of clients who all want to dig-in and grow as people and leaders.  I'm also enjoying the process of welcoming others into this work and supporting their development as strategic accompanists, guides, and facilitators.

At some point, I may decide that "it's not working for me!" And at that moment, the possibility of change will arrive and I will assess the risks and benefits of moving forward in a new way. 

Until then, I'm off to the mountain.  2" of fresh snow last night.

Onward!

V

Monday, October 31, 2016

What has changed?

One of my favorite pastimes is sharing stories of "benchmark moments"... the turning points, or directional shifts in our lives. I am always surprised at the granular nature of the stories.
  • A singular event on a school playground where someone learned they could stand up for themselves.
  • A moment a parent or loved one said "you've got this", and the success that followed.
  • A moment of decision to step into something we've always been passionate about as opposed to simply following a pre-determined script for our lives.
  • The birth of a child.  Becoming a parent. 
  • The birth of a grandchild.  Becoming a grandparent.
Moments are important. 

Last week I met my first grandchild.  In a moment following a warm welcoming hug, my daughter introduced me to her newborn daughter.  My son-in-law handed me his precious little girl to hold.  In a moment, they became parents.  I became a grandfather.  Life changed.

Mature leaders are always open to changing their viewpoint or position when new information arrives.  Well... new information arrived last week in the form of a baby!  So, what changes?  What long-held beliefs come into play?  How does this re-order relationships?  What are the deeper desires here?

My sense is the answers have less importance than the curious questions. 

Onward!

V

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Who do you want to be?

Ten years ago today I was released from the executive cabinet at Y-USA and handed a severance check. It was 2006, I was 47, my youngest daughter Janelle had just left for college, and our divorce had been final for about 6 months. The plate of my life had been scraped clean.
Two phone calls came soon after which set the course for the next ten years. One was from Paul Andresen, a good YMCA CEO friend, who asked if I would do some consulting work for him. The other was from Jim Warner, a Boulder-friend and mentor who asked if I would come co-facilitate an executive retreat with him. I said yes to both. And, while I applied for a couple YMCA positions early on, I haven't looked back. My long-time strategy has been "do good work" and follow the thread of opportunity from one gig to the next. I've always believed that good work leads to good work. Take care of the people and the rest tends to sort out. It worked for 26 years in the Y and still works today.
Relationally, the ten years could not have been more unexpected. In 2006 I was committed to the single life. Connections with a few good friends along the way helped me open up my thinking and accept myself in a whole new way. Coming out and the resulting shift in energy and focus in my life propelled me in ways I never expected. Six years with Rocky was a learning experience I've written about before. Being single again at 57 is unexpected, and I'm okay.
Going forward, I've been asked something like "What do you want to be doing in ten years?" and I tend to shift the question to "Who do I want to be in 10 years?"  At this stage, it's a bit less about the doing, and more about the being. And, I want to be a man of curiosity, with a spirit of adventure and creativity. I want to live a life of good self-care and create a positive environment around me wherever I go. I want to connect to my deeper self and be with others as they connect with themselves. There's always more to do.
 
Onward!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Why Don't They Call?

She was a popular Hollywood celebrity.  Perhaps not A-list, but certainly recognizable after many years in the business.

"And, the hardest thing is this.  No one ever calls me to just have coffee, or to do the things that friends do.  We don't get invited to informal dinners, to just hang out.  No one just stops by.  Everything is fabulous and formal or nothing at all.  Sometimes I feel like the only reason anyone wants to be with me is to get something from me. I think people just assume I'm busy.  It's exhausting."

"Wow," I said.  "How would you like it to be?"

"I'd like to have people who feel comfortable just hanging out.  No agendas.  People who know I'll say 'yes' if it is possible.  People who know that if I say 'no' it's an authentic no, meaning I've already got something booked."

"So, what you really want are friends who are authentic with you."

"Not just authentic, but who are okay with me saying no three times without it counting against me!"

"Okay."  And then, I got quiet.  You see, I get in this same pickle.  My schedule is erratic, un-structured, and un-predictable.  I can be anywhere or nowhere anytime.  I fall off the radar screen regularly and rarely get casual invitations from friends.  I had no solution to offer.  Which is perfect, because I'm in the business of helping people find their own solutions.  So, back to it, Vince.

"I wonder how you might be creating the very results you're complaining about?"

She looked at me quizzically.  "Are you playing one of your mind tricks on me?"
 
"Well, perhaps.  And, perhaps I'm playing it on both of us.  But, really, what are the things you do that create the exact results you're getting?"

"Let's see.  I tend to only talk about the projects I'm on, or the places I've been lately.  I rarely talk about the mundane and normal things in life.  I don't tend to talk about the supermarket having a special on tomatoes this week."  She gazed off in the distance a bit.

"So, what do you think others make that mean?"

"I suppose it makes me seem above the mundane.  Maybe others are intimidated to talk about tomatoes when I've just gotten back from a month-long location shoot. Maybe I put people off a bit."

"Keep going," I prodded.

"Do I really want to talk about tomatoes?"

My sense was that there was a part of her that precisely wanted to talk about the mundane and normal things of life, like tomatoes at the local market.  I also sensed there was another part of her that had absolutely no interest in talking about tomatoes and only wanted to talk about the exciting and interesting bits.  Perhaps there was a path...  "It sounds like we have competing voices here.  On the one side we have..."

"Be normal!  Enjoy and appreciate the mundane and simple life!  It's about connection, not about amazement!  You are okay when you're ordinary!" 
 
"And on the other side?"
 
"You have to shine.  You have to be entertaining!  Everyone expects you to be interesting!  They will leave you in the dust if you're not!"

 
I could tell something was landing for her.  She fell silent.  "That's exactly what my dad used to say to me."  And then, tears.  "My Dad always wanted me to perform.  He'd have me sing at family events.  He only seemed to notice me if I was performing.  I think he was afraid I would disappear or be a nobody if I didn't entertain well."
 
"So, it sounds like you keep performing even when the cameras are off.  Tell me what the tears have to say right now."
 
"My tears like the other voice.  My whole body just wants to let down my guard.  To just be normal, ordinary, mundane.  To just connect.  I can breathe when I think about that."
 
"Okay.  What would that look like," I asked.
 
"Well, maybe I can be more conscious of what I share and engage with others about.  Maybe I can talk about tomatoes now and then.  And, not how fabulous my homegrown crop is.  You know what I mean.  Just, ask others about the simple pleasures of their lives.  Share the ordinary.  It doesn't need to be fabulous."
 
"And if you did that, what might you get?"
 
"Well, I think it would just be more authentic.  And, frankly, that's worth it, regardless if anyone ever calls me for coffee."
 
Indeed.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

React or Respond?

"But I feel so guilty when I take time for myself.  It's like I'm taking something away from my wife and kids."

"So, how's that working for you?" I asked.

"It's not!"

"So, what's the risk of making a change?"

"I suppose the risk of me changing is that others won't like me and my life will fall apart."

"And the possible benefit?"

"Ha!  That I'll be happy.  That I'll feel good and be more available to my family."

"So... are you willing to take the risk?"

"I have to.  I need to."

"Well, that's arguable," I said.  "What if instead of 'needing to' you simply framed it as 'I choose to?' 

"Interesting.  One is kind of a victim's reaction to what's going on.  The other is a more mature posture in response to living the life I want to live.  I like it."

Well said.

Friday, July 1, 2016

On Reflection

I was talking with a CEO today. He was sharing how he closed a meeting last week with two of our classic forum questions…

“What worked well today?”
“What could have been better?”


… and how the folks at the meeting gave him a ration for it. “What did you do with our CEO?” they asked.

Taking a minute to reflect and evaluate sometimes feels awkward. And, it makes us think. It makes us own our experience. It makes us show up. Try it.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Appreciation Appreciates



The morning had gone well. There had been some difficult issues to debrief and plenty of good generative discussion as well, but the energy wasn't quite where I wanted it to be for the closing.

I almost always close by moving into a place of appreciation. What I've learned is that all of the worries about the future tend to take a back seat when we are appreciating what we have... as opposed to worrying about what we don't have. It's like when I'm walking on the beach with a friend... we can look toward the shore and the bazillion dollar McMansions and feel bad about what we don't have... or we can look toward the sea... and the waves, clouds and breeze... and reflect on the beauty and the splendor of what we do have. So, I chose appreciation as a way to end the retreat.

Because, at the end of the day, what we appreciate appreciates. It gains value. It gets bigger. It becomes something more.

So the group began to appreciate. One another. Their successes. Their challenges as an opportunity to grow. Their history. Their future. And you know what, the energy shifted and the group grew bigger. Stronger. More alive.

What is it that you appreciate today?

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Up all night inventing the Camcorder?

Back in the day Al Gore was quoted as saying "I invented the Internet."  The media grabbed it and was poised to have a field day.  That he did not exactly say it was irrelevant.  It became an overnight lightening rod to skewer his annoyingly arrogant persona.

The expected move here would have been for Gore to defend himself.  To explain that he had been mis-quoted, to apologize for a mis-speak, to back pedal and correct his statement.

But that's not what he did.  His response was:
"I was pretty tired when I made that comment because I had been up very late the night before inventing the camcorder."

What's brilliant about that?

It's the counter-intuitive move.  He took the accusation "you're annoyingly arrogant"  and over-owned it.  With no defense, he made fun of his own arrogance.  And, it stopped the media in its tracks.  He skewered the story.

What can I learn here?

The importance of the counter-intuitive move.  When I am feeling accused, I can get curious and consider that there is possibly some truth in the accusation.  It wouldn't sting if there wasn't!  And then, I can own it.  I can let myself (and my audience) know that the accusation has no sting because it's something I've already dealt with.  I know myself and I've got this one.  Next.

When I first came out many years ago, I was terrified of the "gay accusation" from any group I was working with.  I was unsure of myself and unsure how to respond.  Over time, I worked my insecure edge and today it has no power over me.  And occasionally, I will toss some stupidly stereotypical comment into the mix... "If you think that was gay wait until you see the matching napkins and flower arrangements."  Because, I've learned that those who are compelled to comment about my sexuality are doing so often from some insecure place in themselves.  And that's their stuff.  And, that's okay.  I'm here to help with that.

What accusation are you defending yourself from?  What part of it might you own?  What might be the counter-intuitive move?

Onward!

V



Sunday, April 24, 2016

How would you play the hand?

I was thinking about the world of political theatre that we are all witnessing at the moment.

What if Trump is playing this game as if it were a season of Survivor? Or, what if he were coaching someone to "get the job" on his reality TV show? How would he coach them?

First. Set the outcome. In this case, get the nomination. Not the election yet, just the nomination. On Survivor that would mean eliminate the field. Do whatever it takes to clear out the competition. Check. And then, strike the emotions of the disgruntled Republican voter. Go after anyone the disgruntled voter can vilify in order to become their hero. Ethnic differences and illegal entrants were slam-dunks for this. So is anything that will bring a sense of security to an unprepared near-retirement aged individual (read "baby boomer"). Check and check.

So, let's assume he gets the nomination. First objective achieved. Good job.

Then on to the general election. Objective: Get the job. Win the electoral vote.  Is it the same strategy? Vilify Hillary? Make promises to the disgruntled? I don't see that. The disgruntled, un-prepared, insecure electorate are on both sides of the aisle.  So what's the strategy? How would Trump coach someone here? Who needs to be persuaded? The pundits would say "look to the swing states." So then it becomes a vote counting exercise and crafted message to the specific target market at a precinct-level campaign. We'll hear all kinds of speeches and gnashing about but the general election can be predicted by the voting of incredibly narrow bands in specific States. 

My sense is that Trump will prevail. He gets the game. And to him, it is a game.  We're seeing it already as he softens his rhetoric and reinvents himself.

And, it gives me guidance on the good question when contemplating how to navigate any issue!  "What might the other side be thinking?"  or "How would you play the hand if it was you?" might help me see any thorny issue with more clarity.

Enjoy the theatre.

Onward!

V

Friday, April 15, 2016

Grab a Beer?

Close your eyes for a moment and get in the helicopter with me. We'll only go up a couple hundred feet and just hover there.

Now, imagine that you can look back and see that you are in fact still right where you are... and that you are able to look down on your life from the helicopter view. What's going on? Are you someone you'd want to have a beer with after work? How about someone you'd want to confide in? Go take a hike with? Seek advice from? What do you think of you?

When we're able to get honest about how we are judging or assessing ourselves, the door opens to accept ourselves right where we are. This is the truth of this moment... and it won't always be this way. It also opens the door to learn from those inner critical messages that we berate ourselves with... the "you're really not all that good..." and the like. We all have some version of this and it is in when we detach and take an outside view that we are able to recognize it as simply the critical voice inside.

In any event... maybe today is a good day to go grab a beer with yourself... or an ice tea... and have a little heart to heart.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Whose Voice Was That?

And then he told me about a spat with his wife the night before. They were visiting one of his construction job sites and his wife had said “Wouldn’t it look better to extend the awning over this whole section?”

He had gone ballistic. “Don’t you know I’ve been working on this design for months and that it is way too late in the process for changes like that?” And on and on. Everyone had retreated into their corners before it was over.

“Huh,” I said. “So, what did you make her comment mean?”

Silence. “Good question. I’ll have to write that down.”

“Well? It sounds like her comment landed in your universe as something more than just her comment. What did it mean to you? What was the message you received?”

“That I’ve fallen short. Didn’t do it right. That I never do things right.”

“Wow. She didn’t say all that. Whose voice was it you heard?”

Silence. “I hate you. It was my dad. I could never do anything right in his eyes.”

“Sounds like you emptied your truck at the wrong dump, huh?”

“Yeah. Thanks. “

“What do you want to have happen now?”

And on it goes…

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Could the Opposite be True?

The last couple weeks have been a roller coaster ride.  My house is half empty (both figuratively and literally) after Rocky moved out.  His artwork and aesthetic touch are missing.  It's quiet. 

At points I begin to feel lonely and sink.  Lots of scripts play in my head... "Alone at 56?  Loser!"  "Without chaos at home there is no life!"  "You drive people away!"  And, it's a good opportunity to explore if the opposites might be as true or truer than the voices of lonely despair!

"Alone at 56.  Freedom to explore your own wants."
"Without chaos at home, there is sanctuary and grounding."
"You attract like-wired people."
 
So, I can ride the roller coaster down into the despair of inner chaos, and I can ride it back up into a place of acceptance and appreciation.  It's a choice.
 
Onward!
 
V


Friday, January 15, 2016

We've Got Issues

When people ask me what I do, my response back is often, "Well, what are the issues in your life right now?"

Because that's often what I do... create a pathway for identifying and clearing issues... those things that drain energy from our lives. So, if you have no issues, celebrate! But, if you find yourself feeling stuck, or beat up, or unclear, or out of integrity, or notice that you have lied to protect yourself, or hide, or are confused, or emotionally overwhelmed, or angry, or... well, you get the idea.

Too many times I see groups and people embark upon "solutions" before they have clarified "problems". My hope is to get clear on issues and current conditions... both problems and opportunities... then identify what the desired condition looks like... and then get to work on the solutions.

So, the starting question is almost always, "What are the issues that are draining energy from your life right now?" And then, "What is it you want to have happen?"

Onward!

Vince

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Who Wants Ice Cream!?!

I love ice cream.  It's simple.  I love it.  I love the memories it evokes and I love the taste, and the coolness.  There is nothing about ice cream that I do not love. 

Except that I sometimes love it too much.  You see, when I get going on ice cream, there is no stopping me.  If a pint is enough a quart is better.  And let's do it again tomorrow night.

So, when I get the urge for some ice cream, a whole chorus kicks into gear in my head.
  • "Your gut isn't as slim as it used to be."
  • "Just eat some.  You deserve it!"
  • "There is a McDonalds 1.2 miles away.  You can make the stop in less than five minutes.  Just make the decision and get it done!"
  • "Those Hot Fudge Sundae's are tiny.  Go for it!"
  • "What is it you are really wanting right now, Vince?"
  • "Let's invite someone else to go with us and make it a social event!"
  • "You know what happens when you have "just one".  It's a week long binge!  Careful now!"
So, I kind of get this stuff.

There is a part of me that protects me from myself.  Protects me from harm, hurt, vulnerability.
There is a part of me that says "go for it" and "let's connect" with some others along the way.
There is a part of me that wants to step back and assess what it is I really want and make a mature decision.
And, there is a part of me ready to kick into action and get it done.

Which means that it really isn't about the ice cream.  It's about living in a place of ease and flow, managing the competition between the head and the heart, finding my soul.  It's about getting clear on what I want and then acting from a place of maturity.  It's about honoring desires while also managing risk.

Uh oh.  Just spilled some ice cream on the keyboard.

Onward!

V


Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Remorse, Relief, Risk, and Renewal

"It's excruciating to think about coming clean.  I've been carrying this for so long, beating myself up for what I've done, feeling bad about the impact.  I can't imagine unpacking it." he said.

"I get it.  You've been carrying this for a long time and it feels excruciating to think about unpacking it and coming clean.  What's the real risk?" I asked.

"Clearly that she'll throw me out.  I'm a scumbag."

"Got it.  Your relationship might end.  What else?"

"I don't know.  It seems like it might also be a relief to not carry it."

"Is that a risk, or a possible benefit?"

"Ha!  You got me. That would be a benefit.  To me at least.  Would it be a benefit to her?" he asked with curiosity.

"Now, that's a great question."

Getting something off our chest, letting go of the remorse or guilt that we have carried around some issue or action can bring incredible relief.  AND, it brings risk.  Risk that the relationship might end.  Risk that coming clean with what we've been carrying may result in harm or hurt.  AND, it brings a significant benefit of possible renewal.  The authentic ownership of an issue or action opens the door to the renewal of the relationship both with ourselves and with the other person involved.  But there's a catch.

The thing that has been carried for so long is new information for the other person.  So, while there is relief on the one side, there can be all kinds of emotional responses on the other.  They haven't been living with the remorse, guilt, and fear.  So, your sense of relief can be viewed as a "dump and run."  Some compassion is in order!  And, this is true anytime we speak a courageous truth.  At its best, coming clean creates compassion for ourselves and the other person while promoting authenticity in the relationship.  At its worst, it becomes an emotional dumping ground and an escape from responsibility.

What to do?

Talk about talking about it.  Let the other person know you have something you'd like to unpack that might be difficult.  Ask for permission and create a supportive space.  Unpack the issue with an uninvolved friend or counselor to get your own feet on the ground first.  The pathway to renewal opens up when both parties understand the idea of 100% ownership... both parties take 100% responsibility for their part in the relationship.  What will it look like for you to take 100% responsibility for your part?

And on it goes...

V



Friday, June 26, 2015

Love Wins

When in doubt on how to respond or handle a situation, I can always land on "How might love win in this moment?"

Shifting my perspective to "Love Wins" opens up my thinking.  It raises my consciousness to a higher level.  It gets me out of any narrow or fear-based thinking and finds solid ground.  It helps me discover the positive intent.

The Supreme Court decision today seems to be doing this for us as a Nation.  The court said Love Wins.

Many years ago I wanted to fire a lifeguard because she insisted on wearing a nose ring.  In a random airplane conversation I shared this incredulous story with the guy next to me.  I was hoping for support and a common battle cry!  But, he challenged my thinking.  He asked if I was generally a loving and merciful person. He challenged me to move to higher ground and see her simply as a person with a different viewpoint.  Her nose ring didn't inflict harm on me.  It didn't mean I had anything less or more.  She kept lifeguarding.  And I learned a good lesson. 

Love wins.

Monday, June 1, 2015

What is it you are committed to?

"It's all the blaming and complaining!"

"Silos.  Everyone just stays in their silo."

"I can't get a straight answer from anyone!!!"

"Wow.  That's some tough stuff," I said.  "What would it look like to take 100% responsibility for the results you are getting?"

"These aren't our results!  This is what everyone else is doing!"

They had stepped into my trap.  You see, I have this crazy belief that whatever results we are getting in life happen to be a reflection of our commitments.  And sometimes, those commitments are unconscious. 

"Here's what I want you to do.  Own these results as something you are committed to."  Blank stares.  For example, say "I am committed to perpetuating the blaming and complaining."

"What?!?" they cried.  "Try it," I said.

Okay, says the VP of Engineering.  "I am committed to the blame game.  I don't like saying that."

"I know," I said.  "Now, read me a few pages out of the training manual you have written for the blame game."

The VP of Engineering grimaced, and said with slumped shoulders, "Well, you tell everyone that it's the corporate office that wouldn't approve the expense.  And then, you be sure the team knows that if marketing had just done their part we wouldn't be getting blamed.  Okay Vince.  I get it.  I hate you."

What did he get?!?  Perhaps, he began to understand how we actually do things that produce the results we are getting in life.  Sometimes the things we do don't make sense, but when we dig deeper we find that the crazy things we do somehow protect us from vulnerability, criticism, exposure or other unpleasant stuff.  So, we do things unconsciously. 

The good news is that once we become conscious of it we can choose a different path.  Unless, we'd rather just blame and complain, that is.

Onward!

V

Friday, May 8, 2015

Whose Problem is This?

When I was in college I lived for a year with five guys in one house.  Four of us had dogs.  And, the dogs were not all that well trained.  Imagine that.

Late one night, one of the pups left a present (read:  pooped) in the living room.  One by one, each of us four dog owners came out and said, “Nope, that’s not ____’s” (fill in the blank with our pups name) and proceeded to go back to whatever we were doing.  No one wanted to own the problem.  Finally, the guy that didn’t own a dog cleaned it up I think.

That’s kind of how my body and the western medical world are getting along.  No one wants to own the problem.  They all agree that there is a benign tumor in my head but they can’t agree on who owns the problem. 

There are moments when I lose balance, can’t talk or swallow right, break out in a full body sweat… essentially , come to a ground halt for about fifteen minutes until things re-balance and off I go.  It started this winter early in most every ski day and it continues just about anytime my heart rate goes up or my breathing gets out of whack.  Too much pressure on the right-side jugular vein.
  • Neurosurgeon in the Desert said, “Too many lions and tigers in the tumor’s neighborhood.  Not mine.  Go to UCLA.”
  • UCLA Surgeon #1 said “Nope.  Not a Glomis Jugulare.  You’re not mine.” 
  • UCLA Surgeon #2 said “You might be mine with a Meningioma, but come back when you can’t talk or swallow.” 
  • The Internal Medicine Doc said “It’s not of interest to our office.  That’s the Neurologist’s."
  • Last week the Neurologist said “The tumor hasn’t grown and you’re not dizzy or debilitated enough to go back to UCLA.  I’ll send you to a cardiologist…” 
So, I guess it comes back to me as the owner of this body.  I think I will stick to my previous commitment… choosing to live well… and accept that moments of disorientation and slurred speech are just part of what it means to be me. 

Onward?

V

Monday, April 27, 2015

What is Keeping You From Being Fully Present?

The other night I was watching an older movie and it was starting to drag a bit.  I noticed my mind wandering.  My phone was next to me.  I picked it up. 

There was nothing on my phone that needed my attention in that moment (Is there ever?!) but in the micro-second that I began to feel bored with the movie I reached for it.  And then I stopped.  I put it down, and remember having the conscious thought... "I'm going to stay present with this movie and experience it fully, even if it is boring." 

Unless you are completely off the grid, this is a familiar story.  We have become a society with the inability to maintain attention to whatever is before us.  Attention Deficit at the grandest level.

So the question, "What's keeping me from being fully present?" is a way I can name whatever is happening ("I'm feeling angry that this movie isn't entertaining me fully") and help myself choose to get back to wherever I am.

Pass the popcorn, please...



Tuesday, March 24, 2015

What are you Tolerating?

All of us put up with stuff.  Little annoyances.  Things that are broken and have been broken for a long time.

This year, one of my focus areas is to "eliminate tolerations" from my life.  Those things that I put up with, annoyances, stuff that drains energy, or that I accept as "it is what it is" when I don't really need to.

For four years, the flashing on the dishwasher has fallen off anytime anyone sweeps. It's annoying.  A missing screw on one side and a missing washer on the other.  Anytime the floor was swept, the flashing would fall down with a clank and it would have to be propped back up.  Until the next time.  What a pain!  And today, I fixed it.  A ten-step trip to the garage to find a new screw and washer, five minutes to vacuum out all the gunk behind it, and a minute to put the screws back in.  Done.

Am I the only person who puts up with this kind of stuff?

For as long as I can remember, I have had these two bumps right on the top of my head.  Anytime I hit my head, they take it.  And, they hurt.  And, I'm 6'2" and hit my head a fair amount.  And, every new hair stylist has to run into them at least once before learning to steer clear.  You could only see them when my hair was cut short and they were annoying.  Until yesterday.

I had them removed.  The Doc put me under, froze the little suckers, cut away the skin, sucked them out, stretched the skin back over (felt a bit like what I imagine a face lift feels like!), stitched it up, and voila!  No more bumps. 

I feel lighter, joyful, and more at ease, just knowing the bumps are gone.... and the dishwasher flashing will never fall off again.

I love reclaiming energy in my life!  So, what are you tolerating?

Onward!

V

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

What have you Done For You Lately?

Since launching off on my own intentional pursuit of well being a few years ago it seems as if the world has jumped on the same bandwagon.  Ariana Huffington (founder of the Huffington Post) has weighed in with her latest book, "Thrive", and, Outside Magazine this month offered up "27 simple habits guaranteed to improve your body and mind."   

So, the question is... "What have you done today (or yesterday, or in the last week) to support your sense of well-being?"

We can easily jump to "I brushed my teeth and that's good for me" and perhaps get some well-being credit.  But, better to think about the things that we do in an intentional and purposeful way because we've thought about it and made the choice that says, "Yes, I believe doing this will enhance my well being!"  Might be physical well-being, social, spiritual, mental... you get the idea!

Things I've heard lately...

   ...Took a walk in an area that wasn't familiar to me.
   ...Started teaching myself guitar using online videos.
   ...Made a ski weekend happen with a college buddy.
   ...Had an intentional conversation with my wife about something more than "the schedule."
   ...Read a book for pleasure.
   ...Made three crock pot dinners that I've never made before.

It's motivating and inspiring to hear about the things people are doing on purpose and simply because it makes life more interesting and enjoyable.

So... your answer?

Onward!

V

Sunday, January 18, 2015

HELP!!! Getting back on Track

There were about 15 people in the room having a thoughtful and engaging discussion about their future.  They were playing with vision and desire, and what it is they wanted to create.  I love this stuff!  (And, I was not facilitating!!!)

But then... things started to get hot.  Someone interrupted someone else.  Someone's voice got a little louder.  Three people started to talk at once.  The moderator began to lose it.

And then... someone said in no uncertain way, "freeze!"

What was this? And then, he said it again.  "Freeze.  And breathe.  I'm calling a time out."  And he just sat there.  No words.  It was powerful.  And everyone stopped in their tracks.  (It turns out, this was a norm they had agreed to previously.  Note to self...)

And once everyone had found their breath again, taken a step back, gotten their own feet back underneath their own selves, he asked a couple of AWESOME questions:

Are we on track right now?
What would be helpful?
 
The questions really didn't need to be answered.  The answers were self-evident.  In less than a minute, the group as a whole had their feet underneath them, figured out how to continue the discussions, and moved on. 
 
It reminded me of how important it is to know how to get back on track... to get myself back on track, and to perhaps help another as well.    Want to pack another tool in your kit?  Download the one-pager... "Getting Back On Track".


Onward!

V