Thursday, February 03, 2005

Issued out 

Those were the words someone else used to describe how they felt after three days spent here, learning about leadership as coaching – or was it coaching as leadership? In three days, there wasn’t a single Powerpoint slide and only a handful of flip-chart pages – this was experiential learning, something that suits me well, since my preferred learning style is activist: learning-by-doing. There were one-on-ones, role-plays with actors, action learning – all based on real-life issues; life inside and outside the workplace.

Most of us left feeling pretty drained – such attentive, intensive, controlled listening to each other and to ourselves, at a multitude of levels (words, feelings, intentions, beliefs…) is quite different from the normal ping-pong of everyday conversation and takes some getting used to. The up-side though is reflected in the uplifting, validating feeling that many expressed as a result of being truly listened to. I’m reminded of a quote I've posted before:
"Listening is a rare happening among human beings. You cannot listen to the word another is speaking if you are preoccupied with your appearance, or with impressing the other, or are trying to decide what you are going to say when the other stops talking, or are debating about whether what is being said is true or relevant or agreeable. Such matters have their place, but only after listening to the word as the word is being uttered. Listening is a primitive act of love in which a person gives himself to another’s word, making himself accessible and vulnerable to that word."

- William Stringfellow

I learned many things; one in particular stood out. Not surprisingly, all my "issues" found their way back to the core issue of my central feeling of uselessness at work – yet when, in a role-play exercise, I tried to articulate what I wanted instead of the current situation, I found I couldn't. Not with any clarity; not in any specific terms. I could say what I didn’t want, I could say what I thought caused things to be the way they are, I could talk in abstract terms about what I'd like, but I was completely unable to formulate any grounded proposal for change.

And that, I guess, is why I stay stuck.

Somewhere along the line, I've internalised the idea that, whatever it is I want, I can't have it – and in so doing, I've strangled the ability to want; pre-judged the outcome even before the idea has been born.

Anyway, I'm "issued out" for now, mentally exhausted and coasting along gently in neutral…

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