What if everything you needed was right in front of you?

  1. You could reclaim time and energy that you can use to be more fully present.
  2. You could offer scaffolding rather than trying to guess what people need.
  3. You could work on real issues that matter to people and the planet.

We need to profoundly shift how we work in this time of so many unknowns. What if you got off the merry-go-round in which the horses are painted different colors but are all going in the same circle? What if you thought vertically instead by drawing on the wisdom of the earth below us, the collective around us, and the vision above us?

I remember the moment I started asking myself these questions nearly 20 years ago. I was starting a two-day leadership program for directors of a federal program for low-income families. I had worked hard to prepare — and had a full binder of exquisite materials on leadership to show for it. Partway through the first morning, I sensed that many were not engaged. Thinking it was my delivery, I added more energy. Nothing. Thinking that it was the material, I added more explanations. Nothing. 

I then put down my binder and just looked at the group. 98% of them were women — and I was not. About 80% of them had started as low-income clients of the program — and I had not. About 60% of them were people of color — I was not. I soon realized that my curriculum was valid, yet sourced from people like me not like them.

I opened up my binder, took out all the pages, and let them fall to the floor. After they gasped, I invited them to form small groups and share stories of leaders they respected where they grew up and what did they admire about their leadership?

At first, they were silent because no one had ever asked them about their experience before. Soon, the energy in the room rose and engagement soared. We used the insights from their stories to co-create a new way forward. It turned out to be one of ‘my’ best programs ever, and it planted the seeds for Integrative Development. 

Three lessons I learned: 

  1. The most important variable in a program or session is not you, but the readiness, willingness, and ability of participants to learn and grow.
  2. The most memorable learning experiences are those in which there is space for anxiety, the scaffolding people need, and the freedom for what is possible.
  3. The most essential step in working with clients is grounding yourself so you can focus on what they need in the moment not where you think they 'should' be.  

  • If you want support for your own integration to support new choices in these times, check out our Guiding Lights retreats. Click here to register for the next mini-retreat to experience what they can offer you.
  • If you want to work with greater ease and agility as you coach, check out the 20th- anniversary edition of Narrative Coach™. Click here to register for the next Narrative Coach™ Q&A to find out more.
  • If you want to revolutionize how you design and deliver programs or projects, check out the ID Way™ program. Click here to register for the next ID Way™ Q&A to find out more.