facilitating & hosting

I’m Steeping Like Tea

I describe myself as an avid learner. Or like Chris Brogan recently shared, I never avoid a classroom (but you’ll rarely find me inside a traditional classroom). And one of the things I love the most about my learner’s stance is how insights steep their way into my life. It’s like I’m always brewing up a cup of Amanda tea, but I can’t predict what flavours might appear that day because the leaves vary based on what I’ve opened myself to.

Recently I’ve been delving deep into the Art of Hosting – from a retreat in October, to reading Peter Block and Harrison Owen, and blogs like this, this, this and this, and I wanted to reflect on the different ways these learnings have emerged in the tea that is my life and work:

  • Reminded myself that “whoever comes are the right people” as the start time of an insight meeting this week eeked by and only four of ten guests had arrived. Instead of fretting I settled and behold not five minutes later did the other guests join us (I think of the difference they would have experienced in my demeanour had I not grounded myself!).
  • Purposefully chose a check-in question “what intrigued you to be here today” at the same insight meeting to help us gently land in the conversation space.
  • Practiced “invitation is a process” by connecting with guests ahead of the traditional one-hit-wonder known as the Outlook meeting request.
  • Made knowledge visible by papering the whole table with graphic facilitation paper and inviting all to draw and doodle throughout our conversation, which I harvested and provided to all participants the next day. No more tyranny of flip charts!
  • In another workshop I moved a horseshoe of chairs with me as facilitator at the front into a true circle to help call the wisdom of that process.
  • For a meeting design proposal I suggested broad questions and true World Cafe movement amongst tables and conversations.
  • For another meeting design recommendation I used the Chaordic Stepping Stones on the overall process as well as the Pro Action Cafe for the meeting concept (and will use the 5 Breaths’ groan zone analogy with the stakeholders next week).
  • I decided to remove my application to hear others’ ideas to change the world and instead decided to focus on the changes within myself by spending a weekend in The Work of Byron Katie. Inner demons hiding in the closets of my mind – I’m coming to get you!

It’s nice to pause and make my own knowledge visible – and I’m sure I’m missing loads from the above list.

How about you – what’s showing up in your tea these days? What are the classrooms you are learning from?