Sustaining Enthusiasm, Energy & Excitement in Facilitation


I’ve been thinking about long term relationships for the last little while. I realize that I’m quite a loyal person and I have many long term friendships, partnerships with colleagues and maintain deep connections to my original family. I know also that the world is changing so quickly and that it is both tempting and easy to keep changing our focus in life. For example, I watch colleagues and friends give up on things after short periods of time. Either things got challenging or they did not have enough support. And, often the change was needed because they were on the wrong track. For myself, the importance of staying with something for the long haul has always been important to me. I have a 40+ year marriage. I have friendships from my teenage years. I have remained in partnership with many colleagues over decades. I want to provoke you to think about your relationship with facilitation. Do you have the support to continue mastering your stance, being and skills as a facilitative leader? Do you have the stamina? Do you have the strength?

One of my long term relationships has been a dance between facilitation, training and mentoring people in facilitation. The underlying commonality has always been facilitation. First and foremost I consider myself a facilitator even though I spend a majority of time training and mentoring in facilitation. I keep myself excited, enthused and energized by cultivating certain practices. How do you keep yourself engaged in the field?

Here’s one example: I created a video on the differences between facilitation and training almost 3 years ago. It’s been popular – it has more than 4,000 hits. I realize, however, that the audio volume is a problem because I did not have a microphone. So today, we redid the video. We redid it because obviously it’s a topic that people are interested in exploring. I keep myself fresh by redoing things that need updating. Take a look at this new version and tell me what you think. I include some ideas from our international cohort who have also been thinking about this topic of facilitation, training, coaching and mentoring – thanks to Ian McDonnell (Canada) for some inspiration. My connection with international colleagues keeps me fresh and inspired in this field as well. Their love for this profession, their enthusiasm to learn, explore and take topics deeper inspires me to keep learning and growing.

Here are some other ways I nourish my long term relationships in life and work and with myself especially:

  • I keep connected to nature – I make sure I go out every day at different times of day and night to connect with the earth and the sky. I love the clouds and I love the moon.
  • Every day I talk with other facilitators around the world.
  • I always co-design and co-facilitate any jobs that I’m offered. It keeps me fresh to work with new people and forces me to get out of my habitual ways of thinking.
  • Blogging about a facilitation topic every two weeks in a long term commitment I made to the field and myself 7 years ago. This practice invites me to keep exploring and reflecting on what has happened in my own practice and current world events. I have not missed a single date on this. If I’m not in town, I write it ahead of time or I get my colleague Errin to help me refresh an old blog. By the way, Errin and I have worked together almost since I moved from Central Canada to the NW USA about 17 years ago.
  • I eat chocolate – really dark – everyday. I can’t handle coffee, black tea, alcohol, or any other stimulants. But chocolate works for me!

Long term relationships require commitment. Ask yourself how you can refresh your long term commitment to your profession and to your family, friends and colleagues. Do something that renews that commitment today.

Comments are always appreciated and welcomed!

Did you know? IAF Facilitator Week starts next Monday, October 7th. What will be your commitment to promote the profession? My commitment is to keep my commitment to enter a silent meditation retreat. I know that this quiet time will absolutely refresh my brain and allow me to share even more with you when I return. Nonetheless, look for a few quotes we’ll post during #FacWeek.


Our first Blog on this topic: 5 Big Differences Between Training and Facilitation

Article found by Ian on IAF member site:

Barbara MacKay

Barbara loves “everything facilitation”. She thinks BIG! She loves working with other facilitators around the globe to create transformational results for client groups. She loves teaching others how to do that. She loves presenting at global facilitator conferences. She loves certifying new professional facilitators. If you also love what process facilitation can do for the world, connect with her – virtually or in person. She believes facilitation processes, used well, will provide the roadmap to a more just and sustainable world.


  1. Jill Nicholson on October 2, 2019 at 11:18 pm

    Barbara – this is wonderful. I love your clarity between the differences and your passion for each – esp process facilitation. I was particularly interested in the differences you drew out when talking about external and internal as i had not used these distinctions. Love your energy for your work (and life). It shows in all you do.

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