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Facilitator in training – Meta capabilities


The meta capabilities crucial for effective facilitation are outlined in this insightful discourse. The primary meta capability is self-mastery, not in a controlling sense, but as an ongoing journey towards excellence and self-awareness. Lao Tzu’s wisdom underscores the value of understanding oneself. Emotional maturity, the second meta capability, emphasizes managing emotions with a focus on passionate non-attachment. Engaging the witness, the third meta capability, involves mindful self-awareness and observing interactions in a group context. Authenticity, the fourth meta capability, requires being true to oneself, readable, and able to recenter swiftly. The fifth meta capability is openness to feedback and coaching, signifying a genuine eagerness to learn and grow. Challenges in assessing these capabilities include their subjective nature, the importance of self-assessment, and the complexity of the facilitation experience, which combines diverse elements like Aikido, centering, yoga, and breathing. The ultimate goal is personal development over certification, inviting facilitators to embark on a journey of continuous improvement.

Video Transcript

Here are the meta capabilities. The first meta capability I call self mastery. Mastery is a tricky term because in English when you master something, it has the connotation of controlling something like you’re mastering people or you’re mastering a population. So it has that negative connotation. But in the in the spiritual development domain or in the martial art domain, mastery has a completely different meaning. And that’s the meaning that I’m reaching for here. It means to be in the process of becoming masterful in the process of excellence, like you’re continually improving and by self mastery. I like this quote from Lao Tzu. He says, Those who understand much about many things may be wise, but those who understand themselves or are coming to understand themselves are even wiser. Those who are master over many people may be powerful, but those who are mastering themselves are even more powerful. And this is Lao Tzu 600 BCE. Amazing. So the kind of mastery that that that I’m talking about here is becoming so aware. It’s really about awareness, self awareness, self acceptance, self development. It’s about continuing to be open, vulnerable, willing to be wrong, willing to be willing to grow, willing to hear things that are difficult to hear, willing to say things that are difficult to say. Practicing your stretches really kind of every day. It’s like going to the dojo to practice being being more and more who you are. So that’s the first meta capability is self mastery.

The second meta capability is emotional maturity. I originally had emotional mastery, but as Amy pointed out, that again, feels like you’re trying to control your emotions. There is an element of being able and willing to manage your emotions. And that’s what I’m reaching for here. And I think it’s more about maturity – is a better word for me than mastering or managing. Because when you’re mature about something, you see the wholeness of it. The mature means, like a mature tree, is one that has come into its fullness. So it’s to come into your fullness about your emotions. These are the principles I want facilitators to be capable of practicing: passionate non-attachment, the ability to be really, really emotionally committed to transformation in the room and completely relaxed and unattached about how it happens or even if it happens. That’s the paradox. When I walk into that LDI room, I am a stand for. I am a space for. I’m a commitment to every single person in that room, including myself, getting the maximum possible value in terms of our development out of that experience. And I’m unattached because if I get attached, I’m liable to push or do things that aren’t really suggested in the moment. Remember, there’s clock time and Masai time. What is this time require? What is this moment require? It’s about being passionate but unattached about outcomes. I think it’s important to have access to your own emotional world.

This is, as you’re going to see in the more detailed skills, the skills of describing and expressing emotions and so forth. But it’s to have access to the emotional world to be familiar with it. Some people come with a great familiarity with it and their job is to learn to manage it, to do or to try different things with that. Other people have difficulty finding what their emotions are. I can almost always find my emotions. Some of them are more tricky for me, like anger and disappointment. It might take me a while to get there, but I can usually get there. You need to be mastering both, describing and expressing those emotions, getting unhooked really fast. Okay, you’re going to get hooked. Somebody in the room is going to say something and it’s going to really piss you off or it’s going to scare you. They might attack you. You don’t have the credibility. What gives you the right to be in the room doing this? Occasionally that kind of thing happens. It’s rare, but somebody might say something that hooks you in some way. Big deal. Welcome to the human race. Okay. If you don’t get hooked, if you’re not capable of being hooked, I’m not sure you can be a facilitator. It means you’re not being human. So if you’re human, it means sometimes you’re going to be emotionally hooked. You’re going to be knocked off your center. Fine. What I want you to be able to do is to get unhooked really fast and return to your centered place, staying centered in the face of emotional attack.

That’s what we’re talking about here. Can you when something difficult happens in the room, return to center, continually come back to center and get unhooked? So it’s about beginning to practice and discover emotional maturity. That’s the FIT capability number two. The FIT meta capability. Number three is what we call engaging the witness. You’ve heard this many times, of course, it comes from the practice of yoga and other places. But mindfulness, all these practices that are coming in now are about stepping back and watching yourself. It starts, though, with being at home in yourself. Do you have a home? Do you live in there? And who is the person that lives in there and getting more and more comfortable and being at home in that very self? It means shuttling back and forth between yourself. Then let’s say you’re talking with a person, interacting with a person in the group to practice this kind of engaging the witness. You’re stepping back and you’re watching actually three things going on at the same time. This is a level of mastery that is going to take practice. You’re watching yourself interact with that person. What’s happening inside of you? Your thoughts, your feelings, intentions. It’s happening lightning fast. You’re also aware of what you think is happening.

Imagining is happening in that other person. And then at the highest level of mastery, you’re also aware of what’s happening in the group. I’ll quite often be working with someone and out of the corner of my eye I’ll notice somebody getting agitated or having something and I’ll realize that this is hooking them in some way and maybe come back to that at some point. When I was a therapist, that was a Gestalt therapist, it was a really important skill to develop in the LDI. We don’t usually go there, but at least I want to know that there’s something going on in other people in the room. Then you need to be watching yourself, having judgments and assessments about what’s happening in the room, about yourself, knowing some of you, like I do, most of your judgments and assessments will be, you know, mea culpa moinina muovi you’ll be judging yourself for for how you did something. So you just need to step back and watch yourself have those assessments so that you can choose rather than react, what we’re after in this moment. The reason you want to step back is so that you can see. Remember the funnel. The diagnostic funnel so that you’ve got more options available to you. And you can choose ones that may be a stretch for you in that moment rather than one that would be like a default FIT meta capability. Number four (meta capability of FIT is) Authenticity or realness. I’ve always liked the fact that the word authentic comes from the same root as the word author.

Outos and hints. It means to cause out of one’s self to make something happen out of one’s self. So if you look at the root of the word, it means that what you’re creating in the moment, which of course is everything, is coming out of who you are, not out of the ego necessarily, not out of who you think you’re supposed to be, but it’s coming out of what is real for you. So at the very bottom, can you be in touch with that real place in you, even when you’re in your persona, even when you’re pumping? Okay. Can you catch yourself pumping and return to that real person inside? It’s ringing true. It’s an English metaphor about a bell. When a bell rings, it rings true. You know it rings true. You can you hear the purity of that particular note. Are you readable when people around you. Are you hidden? Do they have the experience that you’re hiding, who you are or are you readable? Are you available to people? Another major, major characteristic of this particular capability. Can you catch yourself in the act and recenter quickly? Look, we’ve all got personas. That’s the whole point. I think it’s a powerful thing in the course when you can catch yourself in your act, especially after day three, you can say, oh, guys, I’m aware.

I’m pumping, I’m pumping right now. I’m wanting you to see me in a certain way. I think that kind of vulnerability and catching yourself in the act, also is a way that I return to center quickly. As a way it helps me let go, is just say, Oh, I’m doing it again and I’m instantly disconnected from it. Can you notice your shadow when it’s activated and can you stretch or recenter? So when the shadow comes, anytime you’re hooked, it usually means the shadow has been touched in some way. And in that moment, can you either turn that into a stretch? Or can you return to center. So when the shadow comes up, let that shadow be a trigger for you to either practice a stretch or return to center. Meta capability number five being open for feedback and open for coaching. This is, I think, fundamental. If you’re going to be a coach or a facilitator or any kind of helper of other people, it’s absolutely essential that you be not just, okay, I’ll take your feet ‘Okay’. But really eager for it, like not just open to it like, oh, but I want it, I want it, I want it. We used to say, feedback is the breakfast of champions. It’s the food that feeds people that are beginning to master their particular practice.

So being open to coach means eager to learn and grow. Actually, the coach or the person giving the feedback is not the source of the value. The value is in the person who’s receiving the coaching or receiving the feedback. I remember doing an exercise once with a group of school teachers and Canada workshop a couple of days. I had them go outside in the woods and find an object somewhere in the woods, something that called out to them like a pinecone or a stick or what? It didn’t matter. A stone, whatever it was. And just that call to them and bring it back into the meeting room. Then they paired off and then each of them sat down with another person and told them what this stone or this pinecone had to teach them, what coaching they could get, what feedback they could get for themselves. As a teacher from this object. Unbelievable what people got out of that. The point is, you need to be able to find good coaching and find good feedback anywhere, even from someone that you don’t like, even from someone that maybe is not skillful or maybe is even trying to be hurtful when they’re talking to you. Can you squeeze that for some possible benefit for your own development? Can you receive feedback easily and well? How costly is it for people to give you feedback? Boy, oh boy, I want facilitators that are easy, easy to give feedback to, even when it hurts to say, Boy, I’m having a hard time.

Listen to that one. It just happened. Actually, it just happened to me a little while ago in a conversation with Natalia. And I said, Boy, that’s a hard one for me to hear. But you know what? I think you’re right about that. I mean, that’s to me, the way I want my facilitators to be going through life. Can you do that? Can you offer clean feedback, not dirty feedback and compassionate coaching when it’s requested? Clean feedback is feedback that is not full of our projections, or at least we are offering it, saying: This is in my world what I’m getting, what? How it lands for me, or this is an interpretation that I have, or here’s a judgment that I have, here’s a judgment I have about you, but own it as your judgment. That’s the key. That’s clean. The more descriptive you can be, the better. You know, like practicing drama. When you said that this is what I made up, what was going on with you Really fast drama process is really a great one. And can you also offer compassionate coaching when it’s requested? I frankly think the feedback is better when it’s asked for. Coaching is better when it’s requested, so this is being open for feedback and coaching. Eager in fact, is a word that I’m looking for here in facilitators.

Now here’s just one example of this process of assessing each other, getting feedback in the FIT process. So the action research model, I just want to give you a sample here so I can explain what I’m talking about. One of the first elements is on engagement. How engaged are you at the lower levels? You’re disengaged, checked out energetically, absent you look away, check your phone, etcetera. At the higher levels, you’re 110% present, fully engaged. You show up focused on the here and now and then there’s a five point scale across the middle here. Now, I want you to know that measuring this stuff is very, very difficult. It’s challenging because after a while you begin to focus on the numbers. No, that’s not what I want from an action research point of view. Very early on I learned from my mentor, Ron Lippitt, that the numbers are mostly useful to start a conversation. So, you know, you look at this and you say, well, okay, maybe a four somewhere in there. So you assess yourself and then you get feedback from other people and the value is down here in the comments. Why? Why would you give me a three? Give me some examples. Oh, well, the other day in the LDI when this happened or that happened. Okay, so the power and the value of the numbers is not about getting a grade.

It’s to start a meaningful conversation where you learn something. That’s the key behind this whole action research concept that’s embedded in the FIT assessment process. Finally, there are some major challenges confronting us in this whole process. Frankly, I would like to develop as many skillful facilitators of this body of work. Not as fast as possible. I want to move. In the Navy when the ship had to go from point A to point B, there were many different instructions, like flank speed meant you go as fast as you can go, even if it beats you up and you get there torn apart, you go at flank speed. Quite often they would say proceed at best possible speed. Now, what that meant was go as fast as you can and still show up, ready to operate, ready to fight or ready to do what has to be done. So best possible speed is the speed I’d like to take in growing this network. I don’t want to have thousands of people and worry about quality. I’m more concerned about quality than anything else. So these are the the challenges associated with measuring and assessing capabilities. First is that these things really can’t be measured. It’s like love. How do you measure love? Well, I know it when I see it. How do I know a good facilitator? I can be in a room for 15 seconds quite often, and I can tell this person’s got it or this person has it.

And so if somebody like myself or one of the facilitators comes up to you and says, You know what, I think you’ve got what you might have, what it takes for this work, it means that we’re sensing something in you. But I couldn’t tell you what it is. I couldn’t tell you even how to measure it. So we have to somehow find a way to have meaningful conversations that give you feedback to help you develop in a way and about things that are virtually impossible to measure. That’s the first challenge. Secondly, we have to try. We can’t not do this. We can’t just say, Ah, you’re doing great. We have to have ways of talking about this. The dilemma with as soon as we say you need to have a minimum of a four on these, I can’t imagine that’s going to happen. Because as soon as you say you need to have out of the five, you need to have fours on every one. Then all of a sudden four becomes a target. The minimums become maximums. This, my friend Ron Short taught me this years ago. As soon as you set a standard and say you have to have this to pass, then that becomes the target for most people. And self assessment is really what matters in the graduate program. Years ago, my assignment was to create an assessment process. And in fact, a lot of the questions on the adaptive skills list come from that 1973 graduate program.

And so we figured out fairly early on that the only assessment that matters is the assessment that the student or the participant makes. The teacher can give you grades and numbers in the upper right hand corner of a piece of paper and all that stuff. But ultimately, what do you say about yourself and about your performance in this work in this field? That’s really the main place. That’s where we end up. So I want to create a safe place for you to screw up, mess up and shine and be fabulous. I want to create a space inside of which you get trustworthy feedback from a variety of sources and have the courage and the tools to come up with a very accurate self assessment. That’s what the target is here. And then I’m interested in if you’re doing a self assessment, who is it in there in your self? Who is it that’s doing the assessment? Is it your critical parent? Is it your, you know, your playful child? Is it the adult? Is it, you know, who is it that’s doing the assessment? And on what basis are you doing the assessment? What are you measuring yourself against An impossible standard? Are you measuring yourself against the guy next to you? Oh, I’m doing better than he is or she is. On what basis are you making that assessment and toward what goal? I’m suggesting that you make the goal being about your own personal development.

Oh, and you know. Maybe I’ll make it. The depth and complexity of the intensive experience is another challenge. We were doing Aikido centering yoga, breathing. There are so many aspects of this program that are so much different than any other program. It’s another aspect that makes it very complicated. It’s not just standing up and presenting material. You have to focus on the group and the individual. You have to focus on content and the process. You have to be safe and challenging. You need to have personal and professional. These are all very, very complicated things, and that’s what makes this very, very difficult to do. I’m proud that you are. Let me put them back up here. I’m proud and excited. I’m really delighted that you’re watching this. If you’re watching this, it means you’re thinking about taking this on or you have already committed. I suggest that you get into this for your own development and think maybe I’ll be certified. But don’t pursue certification, pursue your own development. That will impress me. Someone who says, Oh, good, I’m going to be certified no matter what. Maybe that’s not the best way to get there. I think the best way to get there is relax, take one step at a time and be totally committed to your own development. Glad to be on this path with you.

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