Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Using Step #2 of The Five Step Path

Diana Montiel Contreras completes Samurai Game® facilitator certification February 24 in Mexico City
Diana Montiel Contreras completes Samurai Game® facilitator certification February 24 in Mexico City
"Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature nor
do the children of man as a whole experience it.
Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure.
Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing."
-Helen Keller (from The Open Door, 1957)

Rachel is new to the aikido mat, late 30's, attentive and quick to adjust to input. She's often self-critical. Yet, her movements are surprisingly aligned, unified and relaxed for anyone at this stage of the game. She has yet to purchase a gi (training uniform). Taking that step, while practical (right clothes for the environment), is also bold. It's a statement that says, "Yes, I'm in. I'm scared, but stepping across this line anyway." We keep an eye on Rachel. We let her know that we once walked (and still do) the same path that she's on. Knowing this we understand that she'll probably take her next step.

Nate got his new trumpet just like he wanted, but his first experience of the town's youth orchestra was terrifying: too many people, and too much happening. Christian, the orchestra leader, was keen to Nate's talent. He knew his fears and asked him to stay afterwards to talk about what was going on. Christian listened and basically said nothing. Then just before Nate was about to leave Christian offered, "I know you want to quit and you can, but I think you're doing great - I see it in your timing. Come to one more session and then decide. When I'm afraid I'm in the same spot you're in right now ..." Twelve years later Nate is accomplished in many instruments. Along the way he served two years as band president at a major California university. Today, he works as a corporate merchandising manager. Music is not his profession. It IS his life. He's guided numerous students of his own, and he's led hundreds of others to excellence.

Both of the above stories are true. I know Rachel and Nate, but by different names.

Taking a small step to move across the thin line of fear is HUGE. It's a matter of intent, spirit and heart. 

In the last issue of The Ronin Post we addressed Step #1 of the Five Step Path. This month we look at Step #2. And, as with last month, we'll reframe it for personal reflection and organizational self-assessment.

Recall the three crucial practices that support the overall process:
  1. Be present with people and situations.
  2. Make external focus your mindful practice.
  3. Simultaneously, stay connected with what's happening for you, i.e. physically (your body responses), mentally (your mind chatter & images) and emotionally (the flow of your feelings).

STEP #1. You need to be always looking for strengths and uniqueness in others. This creates the essential connections for rapport, respect and growth, and kick starts the process.

Step #2 requires an understanding of some basic distinctions important to one's ability to move the process forward. These distinctions should not be taken for granted. As with buying a gi or coming back to one more band practice, Step #2 transcends the realm of being a witness. Step #2 requires ACTION.

STEP #2. ENCOURAGE and INPRIRE others to DEVELOP, PRACTICE and UNLEASH their own strengths and uniqueness.

Encourage - from courage - springing from cor (Latin) - heart - supporting people with respect to engaging their own fears. Courage is just a word until fear is present. To encourage others you must allow them to have and to articulate their own fears (concerns, worries, self-doubts, etc.) and in the midst of that having and articulation - you must assist the steps for action.

Inspire - to breath [life] into.  You must actively walk your talk when it comes to your own fears, concerns, worries, etc., and you must being willing to be seen as someone who moves into and through your own fears.

Develop - grow
Practice - repeatedly apply
Unleash - release from restraint

STEP #2 requires actions of opportunity, yet Step #2 has nothing to do with being an opportunist. You must be willing to sincerely put other people first. You have to be able to consider their needs beyond your own self-interest. You must understand that your mission is to move other people to become stronger, perhaps even stronger than you will ever be. The Native American people of long ago called this as becoming, "a give away person". Give for the sake of giving and so that others might grow and gain.

This attitude can seemingly run contrary to the idea that giving is an ingredient to gaining, which, of course, it is. But you can't be thinking about getting something for yourself. Thoughts directed at personal gain, that whisper, "What's in it for me?" - empty your mind of these. With practice this is possible, and if you are vigilant you may find yourself swept into a dynamic (and different) reality dedicated to art of servant leadership, a world of possibility within which you can and will develop other leaders.

On the other hand, if thoughts of personal gain dominate The 5 Step Process, then the process becomes self-defeating. Giving for the sake of giving is expansive and generative. The spirit of your efforts will attract others and extend into the world. Giving for the sake of getting is contractive. That kind of spirit ultimately reduces things to a standstill. In a word, giving for the sake of getting - sucks.

As a method of projected self-reflection Step #2 is turned inward as follows:

Imagine that your friends, neighbors, relationships (old and new), enemies, children, colleagues, etc., were to show up here today for the sole purpose of revealing to you what they have witnesssed to be true about WHAT ENCOURAGES AND INSPIRES YOU. What would they say?

As was discussed when it comes to your own strengths (your Step #1) you may find yourself denying what you hear, and you may have been selling yourself short - or you may not have noticing how it is that you go about seeking encouragement and inspiration.  But take the time and reflect: What would your parents and children say? How about an ex-husband or ex-wife? Set aside any need to be small about this.  Observe in your imagination what these people may have seen regarding you.  What is the internal dialogue you have about this?

As a process to enhance organizational development and assessment Step #2 is turned inward like this:

Suppose your employees and staff (past and present), co-workers, colleagues, clients, vendors, customers and competitors - all of the people who have comprised your professional life - suddenly convened. How would these folks honestly and straight forwardly describe your what ENCOURAGES and INSPIRES YOU professionally?

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. Add this to your ongoing examination of personal and professional strength and uniqueness. Heck, if you followed last month's step you know that two hours of your time spread over two weeks is not that hard of a thing to do.

We'll address Step #3 of the process in the next issue of The Ronin Post. But for now, spend some time looking at what encourages and inspires you - and take one small step across a line some line of your own to develop, practice and unleash a strength of yours... just for one month.

What do you say?

"Whether our action is wholesome or unwholesome depends    
on whether that action or deed arises from a disciplined
 or undisciplined state of mind."
-Dalai Lama XIV, (The Art of Happiness)

© Lance Giroux, April 2013

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