Ever read something someone else wrote about something you did and think, “Damn, me too! Exactly.”
I just read a post on my friend Amy’s blog, http://deepintheground.blogspot.com/ that she wrote about a training we did together. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. Amy and I used to train together a lot, and she was among the first I thought of when I was asked if there were folks who I’d like to work with on the particular training she is writing about. But she deserted us here in Michigan for the West coast and it had been a long time since we’d worked together. We’ve both grown and changed (goddess, I would hope so!) and I wondered if our styles would mesh as easily as they had. They did. It didn’t take long before we were back to finishing each other’s sentences. (Plus, we were lucky to have a 3rd trainer join us who is an amazing trainer and so nice to work with! But, a post for another time perhaps…)
Anyhow.., I’m including Amy’s post here in its entirety because, well – I wouldn’t have said it differently, and likely would have spelled things wrong — so…. Thanks Amy!
I’m not in the Zone. My teaching-as-a-channel-for-the-greater-Good Zone. Not there. But I am in spitting distance. This is either going to be the longest week of my life or a lot of fun.
The group I have come to train is about 30 people. 30 really opinionated, life-tested, stressed out people who are not super happy right now. It is the first night of training. Some people have been traveling all day. Most people just realized that yes, they really did commit a week of their life to this and it damn well better be worth it. Folks are edgy. My job – to get them to agree to live and work together. How? We’re going to start with Ground Rules. Community Agreements. Shared Understandings. Whatever you want to call it. If we are going to make a space (a community, a container) for us to stretch and learn in, we are going to need to make some things plain and spoken and visible.
The ground rules I introduce for groups like this has gotten simpler over the years, which is how I like it. In no particular order:
Volunteer Only Yourself. (Speak for yourself, from your perspective. Only you can decide what you can do. You may not decide what other people can do.)
Risk is Different. (What constitutes a risk for one is not a risk for another and vice versa. Respect the difference. How people respond to taking risks also differs. Do what you need to do.)
Confidentiality (What happens in training, stays in training)
If you have a need, say it out loud. (As soon as you know you have a need, share it. We can’t help if we don’t know.)
Is it obvious that these guidelines are a pretty good way to live overall? The group bought into them and we kept coming back to them all week. We lived as a community and held each other accountable. It was wonderful.
We were gentle with each other when we took risks and we pushed each other to risk bigger. When we fell back on old patterns of placing responsibility with others, a chorus of “Volunteer Only Yourself!” would rise up to meet us.
The ground rule “If you have a need, say it out loud.” was new to me this training. It is my new favorite. Just putting it out there gave people permission to have needs. I lost track of how many times someone would announce “I have a need and I am saying it out loud!” before sharing what was going on with the group. I realized how many people just do not ask for what they need (me too) and how many do not expect anything to come out of that expressed need (me too). Even when people decided to share their needs (some practical, some emotional, some idiosyncratic), most seemed to have little belief that anything could be done to meet their need. Instead, the group responded compassionately and creatively. We all moved forward.
To be immersed in such an environment was wonderful. I always learn something when I train. That week, I learned how to live a little more of what I teach. Nice.