Bringing the practices of mindfulness and dialogue to leadership conversations

Things are getting worse!

Posts Tagged ‘Practice-based learning’

Things are getting worse!

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In a recent coaching conversation, my client declared ‘things are getting worse’. Whilst acknowledging his progress in being more skilful and human in his leadership, he was experiencing more occasions of regret, discomfort, awkwardness or embarrassment about his interactions with others. For me, this indicates that things are getting better! (more…)

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…)

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…)

Coming through…

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In this summer of ‘Glasgow 2014’ commonwealth games, I was watching athletics on television one recent Sunday afternoon. Between events, the commentators were celebrating great achievements from the past, including Jonathan Edwards’ world record triple jump in 1995. Edwards, who was anchoring the programme, was asked about his experience by one of his colleagues. In his response I noticed the words ‘coming through me’.

My ears pricked up: we use this phrase in Leadership Embodiment to describe centre, a state of ease and ‘flow’, also referred to as ‘being in the zone’. (more…)

Mind the gap

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With a couple of recent examples of not meeting my expectations of myself clear in my mind, I’m thoughtful about moments of error, failure, defeat, misjudgement, or unskilfulness. I’m referring to the kind of episode where, despite our general competence, effectiveness and good intent, we melt down (or flare up), are forgetful of good practice, or clumsy in implementing it. We only realise something has gone awry by the impact of our words or actions, in the form of distress or disadvantage to others.

These lapses in good practice occur for all sorts of reasons (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…)

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…)

Guest blog: Pausing for breath…

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Describing the impact of Pause for Breath, Julie Drybrough writes:

I ‘signed up’ for Pause for Breath without wholly knowing what it was. I got talking to Amanda at a dinner where my bus journey had rendered me late, lacking composure, and horribly self-conscious. When I finally settled into conversation, she talked about her idea for a retreat: time away to focus on a blend of leadership, dialogue, mindfulness, and t’ai chi. It sounded a little ‘out there’…but Amanda was compelling and clear. I was intrigued… (more…)

Beginning again…and again…

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Last autumn, I took up running – again! I’ve only ever run short distances, and I’m pretty slow, but I did run regularly for about ten years. I stopped three years ago, after being unwell. As I returned to health, I chose low-impact exercise such as swimming and walking. In my fifties, this seemed sensible, on every level.

Two things changed. (more…)