Life Dynamics of Facilitation

(This article was published in our February 2010 newsletter)

Our lives are complex and full of surprises.  I am often amazed at how facilitation parallels my own and others’ life stories.  Within the first few years of learning the Technology of Participation facilitation (ToP™) methods, I learned about the “life images” behind the ToP methods. I was excited by the depth of thought that has gone into the creation of these facilitation methods. I believe these life dynamics are a key to understanding what we are working with when we facilitate groups.

More on these life images is contained in the book called The Courage to Lead. Transform Self, Transform Society. Brian Stanfield. 2000. New Society Publishers ISBN: 0-86571-425-8

A brief explanation is also soon to be published on our website in the form of a short self–directed learning module to illustrate the basic concepts.

My story below illustrates one of the five life dynamics outlined in this book. All of these images can be used to more fully grasp both our lives as individuals and the “lives” of organizations and groups. The question that goes with this one life image is as follows:

Where/when have you experienced a big picture understanding or illusion about life being burst like a balloon?

My story:  I have been merrily pursuing and building a facilitation practice that I have been very proud of since 1995. I was doing a lot – both in a volunteer capacity and as a paid professional in this field. I have been gearing up to write more about it, train more people, build the capacity of others and do bigger more profound and social-justice compelling jobs.

Last March, I decided to take a week long break to nourish my self and take a short breather before the next big push in the field. I set up a self guided meditation retreat. On the weekend, I thought it would be friendly to suspend my practice for a few hours, and go out at least once with my husband to do the grocery shopping. Very close to home, while we were stopped in our car, minding our own business, while chatting away, we were first hit from behind, and then slammed into the car in front of us. A small accident, seemingly innocent. Yet, I have spent the last year trying to get my neck to stay in place, and for the soft tissue damage to repair itself. After what seems like over a hundred visits to health care practitioners, it is still a problem.  I kept thinking “any minute, this pain will go away, or any minute this neck will stay in place and not move into misalignment at the slightest provocation”. I kept traveling and taking jobs as I could but for each one, ignoring the daily constant headache, considerable additional pain when I facilitated. My neck has become highly unstable.

The bubble has been burst for me. My illusion of being a skilled facilitator who can take on any job and do any amount of helping others in this profession is burst. I simply cannot do it anymore if I wish to heal.  I need to pay attention to my neck and what it wishes from me. 

And here is an image of how ICA (The Institute of Cultural Affairs) presents this concept… known as “the big intrusion”.

What is the story you have when you experienced
your bubble being burst?

So, for now, I am cutting back. I am asking for a lot of help and co-facilitation assistance. I am finding ways to make the work easier. In the last six months of the year, I plan not to take on any more jobs (one course only) and I will focus on writing and healing myself – whatever it takes to get my neck back to stability and healthy resilience. I thank you for your patience if I do not respond immediately to your requests. Please visit my website products page for tools, design help and contact names of other facilitators (the latter to be uploaded by end of March). Thanks for listening.  Hopefully back on the road and “in the saddle”, in early 2011.

Warm regards,