Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Using the First Step Path

Lawrence Warry certified as Samurai Game® Facilitator
Lawrence Warry certified as a Samurai Game® Facilitator  
"There is more to life than increasing its speed"
-Mohandas K. Gandhi

It's March 24th and I sit with eight others upstairs in a Den Haag (Netherlands) pub. We've just ended an aikido class in nearby Leiden with Lawrence Warry teaching, this after just debriefing the weekend's Samurai Game. Lawrence played a huge part in that Game. He was responsible for creating the workshop. Plus, it was this weekend that he co-facilitated and completed his training to be certified as a Samurai Game® facilitator. Tonight, toasts and stories abound. We laugh and relax.

We end our evening reflecting on what we noticed about those who attended with us, particularly their strengths, not just at the Game but on the aikido mat as well. Fitting - because before speeding off to the aikido dojo this is also where we ended our workshop, i.e. exercising The Five Step Path to Effectiveness and Leadership. It's a process I sketched out twenty years ago when working with a woman whose natural ability to influence was obvious to me but unseen by herself. Her name is Betty Sue. Our interactions, spread over a one year training process that created a cornerstone and has greatly assisted my ability to serve others ever since.

In the interest of time, and needing to get this month's Ronin Post off to you, I'll only cover Step #1. Then I'll reframe it as we did today at our workshop, so you can use it for personal reflection and as an organizational self-assessment tool.

There are three supporting practices to using the process:
  1. Practice being present with people and situations.
  2. Practice being externally focused on those you are attempting to influence.
  3. Practice being simultaneously aware regarding what's happening for you, i.e. physically (your body responses), mentally (your mind chatter & images) and emotionally (the flow of your feelings).

To engage in Step #1 you must realize that it is really quite simple and basic. Like a switch, it kick starts the entire process, and it does so in ways that generate profound and continuous learning for you and for others

STEP #1. Spend the majority of your time looking for strengths and uniqueness in others, especially those you are attempting to lead or influence, e.g. your staff, your children, your clients or potential customers, even your adversaries or what you may call your competition. STRENGTH is what you're looking for. This perspective will open your creative and intuitive abilities to relate to people and processes. You will gain insights into what these people have to offer - not only to you, but to the world and environment around both you and them, and to the future. It is by looking for strength that we can and do establish rapport, and very importantly we build relationships of respect.

As a method of projected self-reflection Step #1 is turned inward as follows:

         Imagine that your friends, neighbors, relationships (old and new), enemies, children, colleagues, etc., could show up here today with the sole purpose of revealing to one another, as well as you and folks neither of you know, what they have learned to be true about YOUR STRENGTHS. What would they say? You may not want to agree with what comes out of their mouths. You may have some secret need to remain in denial of some of this stuff, i.e. selling yourself short - or you may have been speeding so quickly through life that you just haven't been noticing these things about you. But take the time and reflect: What would your mom or dad say? What about your son or daughter? How about the ex-husband or ex-wife? Sure, and why not? Scrape away the emotionality of old issues and simply observe what these people may have seen about you that they would call "Your Strengths and Your Uniqueness". What floats to the surface of your mind?

Next, as a method of organizational development and assessment Step #1 is equally provocative when turned inward. It goes like this:

         Suppose all of the employees and staff (past and present) of your organization suddenly convened in a large room. And there they were met by your customers, your clients, your vendors, and YES - your competitors. How would these folks honestly and straight forwardly describe your organizational STRENGTHS, your product STRENGTHS, and your service STRENGTHS?

Think about this. Use your imagination.

Here's a challenge.

For the next fourteen days commit ten minutes of every day to writing the answers to the above two questions, i.e. as a way of personal reflection and as a way of organizational or professional assessment. Heck, that's just two hours of your time spread over two weeks, and rather slowly done.

We're going to address Step #2 in the next issue of The Ronin Post. But for now, spend some time addressing.

Are you wiling to give this a try?
There's nothing to lose, just a lot to gain.

"How would you like to quickly learn my secret and do what I am able to do FAST?
Ah, you all answered YES! Great! (he smiled) Then let me tell you truthfully the secret is -
Mitsuge Saotome, Shihan (Master Aikido Teacher)
spoken at Two Rock Aikido Dojo, Petaluma, CA

© Lance Giroux, March 2013

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