Welcome back to the Journey of Resurfacing, a 5-part Video Series to help you return to a powerful “new normal” after the pandemic. In this lesson, we explore relationships and how they can be reignited after relative isolation and electronic engagements ruled the day. You will be invited to take part in 4 exercises that can build relationship bonds and repair damaged ones.
Welcome back to the Journey of Resurfacing, a 5-part Video Series to help you return to a powerful “new normal” after the pandemic. In this lesson, we venture into Breakthroughs. We’ve experienced more than a few obstacles because of COVID-19, however, obstacles create opportunities for innovation and creativity. What Breakthroughs did you come away with? You’ll be invited to complete one or more of the three activities offered in the lesson to help you with this process.
Notes and References
Welcome back to the Journey of Resurfacing, a 5-part Video Series to help you return to a powerful “new normal” after the pandemic. In this lesson, we tackle HABITS. What habits have you developed during COVID-19 that are healthy and which are unhealthy? How can you break the “loop” of a bad habit? You’ll be invited to complete one or more of the four activities offered in the lesson to help you with this process.
Notes and References
The Habit Guide: How to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones, James Clear.
Habits: A Repeat Performance, David Neal, Et All, 2006.
The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg.
Welcome to the first resurfacing stop in our 5-step Video Series Journey of Resurfacing. In this lesson, we work with any Loss that might have occurred for you during the pandemic. What is it? How can I work with and heal from it? You’ll be invited to complete any of the four activities offered in the lesson to help you with this process.
Notes and References
Loss and Grief generally
Loss and Grief specific to COVID
Welcome to the Journey of Resurfacing, where we mindfully resurface into the Post-COVID-19 world. This is a FREE 5-step Video Series that is special edition of our J Wild Blog series beginning June 14. You don’t need to re-subscribe if you are already a J Wild subscriber. If this is the first time visiting, please subscribe to our Blog to receive bi-weekly posts including the 5-step series. Check out the 3-minute video invitation below explaining the series and inviting you to share it with others.
Experience: Emerge with the Moment
Earlier this spring, I was doing some clean up around the backyard planters. I cleared the brush covering the earth from the previous year. The now naked soil stood out starkly except for a few noble plants that overwintered. A tiny seedling was breaking through the soil announcing itself bravely from the earth. It still was clinging to its seed casing even as it extended the first new leaves. I stopped flat footed in awe of the whole thing: the sheer strength of new life lifting itself through dense dirt; the vulnerability of striking out into a totally alien territory of light and air; the audacity of intending to grow tall fibrous structures of inches or even feet; the incredible wisdom of piercing out from a dark, cozy home.
It was a moment of truly appreciating how change happens all around us and in every season and life form on the planet. Our fellow inhabitants don’t just change with the seasons, they emerge with the seasons. They emerge with the moment!
Relevance: COVID Emergence
Many of us are beginning to “emerge” from the lock down of this past year. We have our first indoor meal in a restaurant. Our kids are going to in-person classrooms. Friends greet us from a safe distance and then move in for an eventual handshake or hug. Meetings start gathering outside at first and then move indoors. We plan trips on airplanes or in cars complete with hotels and even resorts with activities. We humans are emerging too, like the plants coming out of the deep, cloistered soil. How will this look, how do we act, where will this lead, what new opportunities await us, is it safe, are our families safe? To answer these and countless other questions, it is clear that we must emerge with the moment as well.
Practice: Inspired by Nature
Knowing that lifeforms on this planet have a 3.5 billion year head start when it comes to emerging in moments of small and large change, here are some lessons for us humans to consider:
- Start small, persistently: Nature is cautious and yet persistent. It sets an intention and moves in the general direction while taking its time. So set an intention to rejoin pre-COVID activities while knowing it will be awkward, tenuous, and “weird.” You don’t have to come back fast and furious, but steady and carefully.
- Be aware and adjust: This is an incredible moment to pay careful attention to what is emerging. It’s easy to preconceive that things will be the same. But they are not the same and never can be. This truly is a unique step that scarce few or no living humans have experienced. Take the time to sense what is actually happening. Make adjustments as needed and let the complexity and messiness be exactly what it is. It is not like before.
- Enjoy it!: This is a time to savor new territory, much like a plant breaking into the sunlight. Be sure to allow space for enjoying the freedoms, pleasures, and newness of these first experiences. Shed a tear, shout for joy, do a dance. This is a time to celebrate coming through the other side of a dreadful pandemic (at least for now and in the United States).
- Allow grace: Not everyone will act in the same way. Some will be tenuous, others overt, some pensive, and a few stridently dismissive. Meet these people also as they emerge with a sense of allowance and grace. You can choose to flex and flow if you make it so. This is also what emerging looks like in practice, inspired by nature.
Experience: Groping in the Dark
We were stuck. The issue that we came to address hadn’t budged and it was not for lack of trying. We brainstormed, broke into small, then large groups. The needs of each individual were fully aired and acknowledged. We even took a few minutes for restorative, centering practice. Still stuck. A tensioned-filled silence crept over the group—a kind of dark dread of not knowing while harboring a struggling desire to find a solution.
After a while of sitting in the darkness of not knowing, we started to turn on each other. One person blamed the anointed/appointed leader, another defended the leader’s courage in bringing the issue in the first place. Then the leader gave a long speech that completely fell flat. A few folks who hadn’t shared yet completely withdrew and muted their Zoom video. As the facilitator, my breath was feeling constrained and my heart pinging. I was stuck as well– tools and processes strewn from the toolbox, personally drained, and ready to give up. There was a tunnel of darkness closing in; daunting, looming and rigid.
A quiet voice began from a corner of the group we hadn’t heard from in a while. He said with a quivering, humble tone, “I feel so sad that we are at where we are right now. We had such care and good intentions and yet we are in a very hard place.” It was such a simple, true voicing that the tension was pierced like a balloon. Other people came forward to describe how hard it was for them to be in this place. And one by one the group picked itself back up. A tiny spark of light glimmered in the darkness.
Relevance: Emerging Light
My dear friend and elder Lily Yeh once told me, “The smallest spark shines through the darkness.” It was her way of reminding me to have the courage to bring light forward no matter how hard things become. Her wisdom was not born from the Pollyanna of positivity, nor the flailing struggle of trying too hard or wanting too much. Hers was about a simple, difficult truth told with all of the messy tension and raw humanity that complex things deserve. When one truth is told its flicker draws more attention to it, until, little by little, the light starts to grow. It becomes an emerging light.
Practice: Gathering Light
When you and the groups you lead find themselves in a hard, sticky place, here are some ways to encourage and gather light from the darkness:
- Pause with purpose: Don’t keep hitting your head against the wall. Take a break, send people outside, and encourage them to focus on something else for a short time. Then ask them to return.
- Feel with the body: One of the go to places when stuck is the body. Ask people to notice where they have pain, tension, or stuckness. Be specific and descriptive. This helps people to get out of fear and into real. Yes, you can do this in even the most “corporate” of settings as long as you are clear about why it’s being done.
- Attend to emotion: Negative emotion is hard for almost everyone. It is easy to detach and resist it. Rather than run away or fight, request that people tune into what they are feeling and diligently call it forth. It’s helpful to write down these feelings.
- Voice what’s true: Once people have tended to their own body and emotions, give time and space for sharing what is true for them. This should not be forced nor should people be shamed or coerced. You may have to be very patient. And you may have to be okay if no one comes forward. Your role is to notice what emerges and honor it. Like gathering light.
It seemed like a normal meeting with a group of 15 participants, each person’s image in small boxes on Zoom. We introduced the session, reviewed the agenda and guidelines, and settled in for the first topic. One participant bravely stepped up and with a quivering voice told the group she struggled with the format of the class. And then another did the same. We ended up spending a big amount of time unpacking how we could make the class a more effective learning environment. We welcomed the feedback and made adjustments to the guidelines and expectations. Everyone seemed pleased. Then it happened.
Another participant came forward to not just question but call into question the program content– that it was oppressive and personally distasteful. Rather than use inquiry questions or choosing to unpack our different perspectives, I got defensive and disagreeable. It didn’t go well. Several in the group jumped in to side with the perspective of the participant and we spent the whole time volleying small and large triggers and personal “polite” attacks. All of this without directly addressing the content now in question. Leaving the meeting nearly breathless, I spend days recycling and replaying the situation, trying to make sense of it on many different levels.
Groups gatherings are complex and messy. They can soar to incredible heights of creativity, healing, and even transformation. And they can crash and burn quite quickly and unexpectedly. The same dynamics that make groups so powerful and grant the possibility for growth also can leave us feeling defeated and deflated. Our ability to be resilient, constantly aware, and in the game is a prerequisite for anyone wishing to practice collaborative leadership. Letting up or taking a back seat can leave you vulnerable to small and LARGE fits of ego to rear its ugly head. But sometimes ego gets the upper hand, and it’s our choice to treat it with humility.
Practice: Direction of Humility
Groups continually point us in the direction of humility. For a group leader, this demands being “outside” and “inside” of ourselves at the same time. This seeming paradox can be resolved but only if we resist the enticing pull to attach too strongly to our ideas, feelings, or patterns. Here are a few ways I’ve found to practice pointing in the direction of humility:
- Pause and Watch: Take an active stance of the observer. I say active because most people see the observer as passive. Scan the room or Zoom squares for clues such as folded arms, frowns, or distracted participants. Slow down your attempts to fix or correct in favor of a receptive posture. If pushing or hurrying is your default mode, try to slow down and see what happens.
- Feel In and Reach Out: Notice sensations you your body and thoughts in your head. Are they are hard, jagged, or frenetic, or loose, gooey, or draggy? After you access whatever is happening on the inside, take a moment to share it with others on the outside. Use an “I” statement to let people know what you are experiencing and ask them what they notice.
- Learn and Apply: When something falls apart, you can treat it as a mistake or an opportunity to learn and make adjustments. That’s what they do in IMPROV theatre! Ask yourself and the group what they’ve learned from what happened and how to adjust.
- Own and Build: Probably the hardest step and the one with the most potential for growth is to own your faults, shortcomings, and “mistakes” out loud. When you take responsibility for something, it sends a clear signal that you are self-aware and human rather than right and righteous. When you build this platform with the group, it models a way of being that can align, over time, with trust.