Bringing the practices of mindfulness and dialogue to leadership conversations

Sounds of silence

Posts Tagged ‘Authentic voice’

Sounds of silence

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Since my return from a silent retreat, I find myself talking a lot about not talking. The irony doesn’t escape me. While words can’t fully express the experience and impact of silence, I continue to explore how I might articulate its merit in embodying dialogue practices.

I’ve written about silence before – in my book, Pause for Breath, and in an article for Coaching at Work, about a visit to Bhutan. In the latter, I described silence as part of the landscape – a textural backdrop into which sounds seemed to fall and dissolve. (more…)

Handing over

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I was inspired by the British relay teams in the European Championships last month. Their performance was fabulous, of course, but even more stirring was their camaraderie, cohesion, and sense of supporting each other in a shared endeavour. Their success sharply contrasts to the woes of a few years ago, when British teams seemed unable to get the baton to the finish line.

Back then, I was immersed in a ‘learning review’ of a project in serious difficulties. (more…)

Being faithless

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One of the quotations on my office wall is from Oriah Mountain Dreamer’s poem The Invitation. The particular verse that serves as inspiration and support centres on our capacity to be true to self, and so risk disappointing another. It says:

‘I want to know… if you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy.’

Our choices about how to invest our energy depend on who we are, what matters to us, and who matters to us. (more…)

In another light

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As I begin to write this article, I’m in the Orkney Islands, which Andrew Greig, in his novel ‘In Another Light’, describes evocatively as ‘land like an old green tarpaulin dragged out of the North Sea, glinting pools of water in its folds’. My first impressions are of another place, qualitatively different in energy to any other part of the British Isles.

With other island communities, Orkney is keen to shape their own future. They’re in a conversation with the Scottish Government similar to that between Holyrood and Westminster about Scotland. More widely there are conversations about the UK’s relationship with the EU, and the options for an independent Scotland in Europe. I have a sense of asymmetry in these conversations (more…)

Back to basics

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As the year turns, it’s natural to reflect on where we are, where we’ve been, and where we’re going. ‘Where’ questions give a sense of place and journeying, but we could equally reflect on how we are, how we’ve been, and how we intend to be. For some, ‘what’ questions work best, tending to emphasise action, achievements and goals. What is the language of your reflecting process? How does it set a frame for your entry into a new year? (more…)

Voice recognition

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Writing about ‘authentic voice’ for my April post prompted me to deepen my inquiry into the other dialogue practices outlined by Garrett, Isaacs and others*: respecting, suspending judgment, and listening. Together, the four practices establish core conditions for ‘roomier’ and more generative conversations.

This month, I am focusing on the practice of respecting, which is especially important when we are faced with difference. In Dialogue and the Art of Thinking Together, William Isaacs describes dialogue as:

‘taking the energy of our differences and channelling it toward something that has never been created before’ (more…)

Naked truth

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In an unsettling week, I’ve been finding solace and inspiration in the Fife countryside. During dawn walks, I’ve watched an insouciant fox, locked gaze with deer, heard and seen a woodpecker beat out its Spring message, and stood beneath a waterfall, as early rays of sunlight sparkled through icicles as thick as my arm. In the rhythm of walking and breathing, I reaffirm my sense of life, of being part of this vibrant tapestry.

In the world of work, there have been two events involving change, disappointment and loss: I initiated one, and am affected the other. (more…)