Bringing the practices of mindfulness and dialogue to leadership conversations

Beyond words

Posts Tagged ‘Pause for Breath’

Beyond words

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Back in the day, I was a Director of Finance in the NHS. Long before I encountered dialogue practices, my deputy and I were preparing for an important meeting that she’d called. We had to gain support from a local peer group for a crucial development. We were expecting opposition. My colleague was very clear and animated about how to push our agenda through. (more…)

Consider this…

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Pause for Breath is five years old today! On Monday 4 July 2011, somewhat reluctantly, I held a launch party for this written manifestation of my dialogue-related work. I still find it hard to be visible in this way – to actively celebrate something I’ve produced. Yet I believe in the power of the practices in the book. I also believe that they, alongside similar approaches, are more necessary than ever before. (more…)

The vision thing

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In coaching supervision, a client was lamenting her lack of ‘a vision’ for her business. Two things flitted briefly through my mind:

• I’m not sure you’re strongly visual in your preferences; and
• who says we need a vision?

I let these thoughts slide by, as my client’s narrative unfolded along different lines. (more…)

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…)

System upgrades

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I began this year in retreat, solitary and silent. It was a period of much needed self-examination and reflection following an autumn in which I’d become increasingly ragged. My ability to be present was reduced, impacting the quality of my work. I was crabby and short-tempered with those I love. I was ‘out of sorts’, with a sense of having lost contact with my essential nature, the inner architecture that guides me, and supports my best work.

The erosion of my capacity was attributable to a gradual accumulation of causes, some clearly self-inflicted. (more…)

Weebles wobble…

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…but they don’t fall down.

Do you remember this jingle for a toy? With a heavy rounded base, a weeble rights itself when pushed over. I use this image to emphasise that the key to Leadership Embodiment practice is recovering centre when we’re buffeted by life. (more…)

Passing places

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The single track roads of the north of Scotland offer a fine ‘simulator’ for paying attention to, and reflecting on, our patterns of thinking and behaviour when we come face-to-face with someone with a conflicting plan. If I’m driving from Broadford to Elgol and meet someone travelling in the opposite direction, how do we navigate a space that’s only wide enough for one of us? (more…)

The grittiness of dialogue

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I recently found a new way to describe the experience of dialogue, seeking to convey a felt-sense of this kind of conversation. It came about because I was asked to contribute to a series of 90-minute leadership development sessions. I don’t often accept such invitations, preferring to host practice-based learning over time. However, sometimes it’s helpful to test my assumptions – my ‘ladder of inference’ – about the lasting impact of short inputs, and to stretch my prejudices about the value of one-off interventions.

In designing the session, I was keen to avoid two potholes:

• too much ‘presenting’ (advocacy) in a context of dialogue (balancing advocacy and inquiry); and
• giving an impression that dialogue is a form of sublime, zen-like conversation. (more…)

Growing pains

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As a new year begins, I am reshaping my work and life. This happens each year, to some extent, through a process of reflecting on the past twelve months, and examining what is serving my life and work, and what might usefully be added or detracted, amplified or reduced. This reflective practice is relatively easy! What I find challenging is stopping or changing things that bring me fleeting comfort or ease, even when I know that they don’t add to my capacity and contribution in the long term.

For instance, alongside many others, I’m intent on making changes to my eating habits, and to other factors that affect my well-being and the amount of energy I have. I know that eating less of this and more of that will bring benefits, and that doing more of this and less of that will invigorate me…but… (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…)