How do I find time for meaningful focused work in the midst of living and surviving?

You are invited to catch flying pigs with me on 25 Aug

quil and writingFor the past 10 years my husband, Gerhi, have been figuring out how to write the elusive novel and this year he is cracking the mystery. During the same time I have produced a PhD and published a number of research papers. Through all this we have raised our children and worked either on our own businesses or on teaching. We have tried and failed in so many ways; we have also found ways to succeed. What the sessions shares with you are the narrative heuristics that will allow you to improvise your own strategies for accomplishing your meaningful work.

Get the details on the Playing Mantis site

 

Mending hearts broken by the rat race

The heart of Strategic Narrative Embodiment (SNE)

There is a war going on – a war for your heart and your soul, for mine. A bit melodramatic?

I wake up in the morning with an unreasonable fear lodged in my chest. What ifI loose? Loose what, I ask myself?

  • The battle against boredom and overwork.
  • The fight to stay fit and healthy when all I want is another doughnut and a good long sit in the sun.
  • The struggle against loneliness, as I long to be with my family but despise them for crowding my headspace.
  • The strife I feel when trying to get friends to come over – do I even have friends?And then the fear that they won’t enjoy it here; so why bother?
  • The war against entropy, in my money matters, my house, my garden, my paperwork, when at the same time I would rather turn a blind eye and read another novel.

I am not one of those people caught up in the rat race: I refuse! I have been there and bought into all its frenzy, and I didn’t get the big house and the two cars, the housekeeper and the swimming pool.

In fact,my rat race brought my family and me to the brink of bankruptcy as we ploughed all our resources into ‘making it’ and failed.

Now that both my husband and I have jobs in education – with a good enough income to survive, but not to get rich, or even get ahead – ­we are much happier and have much more time for our kids, each other, the garden, the house, the friends, and the paperwork.

BUT…

  • We long for action.
  • We yearn for significance.
  • We pine for the opportunity to express our innermost selves.
  • We wish with all our hearts that someone else would wash the dishes, do the garden, organise our papers.

We now have the time, but no motivation to do all the things on the list. So, and I will only speak for myself here, I sit around wishing for action, for someone to come visit, for some external impetus to get me off my buttto go, go, go! Of course the moment the impetus comes I resent it for stealing my peace and dictating my responses. When is sitting in the sun ‘being mindful’ mad when is it laziness? When is being present with my children healthy and when is it an excuse not to engage with something else?

How much more divided can I get?

This is the war that is destroying my heart and soul.

Inside the race, I feel controlled, diminished and taken advantage of. Outside it I feel useless, insignificant and without value.

Where is the third side of this coin?

That is the essence of my quest through war-torn territories: the search for the third side of the coin – not just in this current struggle, but in all struggles that seem so two dimensional, so binary, so colourless:

Does this mean we should take up more colourful and complex struggles like the one between the students and the government with the Universities and the parents and the whole of South Africa’s history in between?  The same one that colours all organisational and leadership interactions, whether we know it or not: the struggle between those who have and who can and those who have not and can’t – along with all the colours of our rainbow nation getting involved in the mess?

I think so.

This is the heart of the SNE lens: between the strategic plan and embodied reality, you find the narrative, the story, which can integrate opposites, transform ambiguities, dance with contradictions. Between the head that plans and the hands that act, lies this treacherous landscape of the heart, the landscape of stories. Stories long to heal the broken heart. They yearn to bridge the chasms between warring opposites and mend the rifts between binary dichotomies.

Join me on this quest to mend broken hearts – especially those broken by the race for more money, opportunity and power.

Meet me at the next Pig Catching session to help process the grief of your broken heart.

Date:     7 OCt 2016
Time:    7am for 7:15 to 10am Pig Catching
10:30-12:30 Research conversation or maybe we simply continue with the session. NOTE: We will start at 7:15 sharp to make the most of our time.
Facilitator: Petro Janse van Vuuren
Cost: R250
Venue: 305 Long Ave Ferndale
Dress: Comfortable clothes you can stretch and move in
Refreshments: Coffee, tea, muffins and fruit on arrival.
RSVP: by  Wed 5 Oct.

Other Pig Catching dates this year:
9 Dec
Please diarise!

Join our group on Facebook<http://playingmantis.us10.list-manage2.com/track/click?u=bd2144f97d4741293f68d899e&id=5904ae36ee&e=ef28aa4955>:

Bring your curiosity, your open minds and your questions.

About Pig Catching:

Pig catching is what coaches and facilitators do when we chase the moment of insight that brings shift and transformation in our clients.

Please note: No pigs get harmed, our pigs are purely metaphorical and they have wings.

Story telling for events and special occasions

Stories help us mark significant moments, heal relationships and bring about change.

  • Funny stories give us a fresh perspective on things that we complain or stress about.
  • Heart warming stories help us bring people together as we feel compassion for one another and ourselves.
  • Disturbing stories help us ask questions about ourselves and our world.

Excellent for commTelling story at owmen's event.unity building and diversity training events.

I especially like to tell stories that cross racial boundaries and celebrate the diversity of South Africa. I want to reveal to my audience the beauty and humanity of the real South Aficans: those of us who live and breathe and have our being in the sun on our streets, in the corridors at our workplaces.

Forget the strife, let us laugh and share and build relationships across boundaries.

Choose from some of my most popular stories, or order a customised story.

Some popular stories

The Rat Goes home – A story about belonging.

They called her ‘The Rat’ from the first day she set foot in the orphanage. It was the street boys hanging like monkeys outside the gates  that gave it to her: “Hey look, today they brought in a rat!” shouted their leader, Big Daddy, a strongly built dark boy of about 12 “Hey Rat, look out  for the Cat!”, he mocked and they laughed. Read more…

Naking friends in Jozi (Johannesburg).

Imagine a 40 year old white woman on the side of Republic Road trying to hail a minibus taxi. Not too much of a stretch? Now imagine that this same woman just moved to Jo’burg. She does not know which taxi sign to use to indicate that she wants to go to Randburg, she does not know where to stand exactly so that the taxi expects that she may want a ride and finally, she only has about 40% vision, so she cannot really distinguish a taxi from a four by four family car. How likely is it that she will be able to get a taxi to stop? Read more…

Stereo types come from somewhere

I love to thwart stereotypes. When I ride my bicycle into Stellenbosch kitted out from head to foot in corporate gear complete with high heels, while all the other cyclists are heading out of town kitted out in helmets, gloves, tight padded shorts, water bottles and cycling glasses, I get a kick. On this day, though, it would not be me who broke the stereotype. Read more…

Examples of customised stories

Skin Sisters: A story about making peace with skin colour (Great for Women’s day)

I created this story for a women’s day celebration on a wine farm just outside Stellembosch.

I was always very embarrassed about my skin. It wasn’t the kind of skin that could tan evenly and become a golden brown in the sun. It wasn’t the kind of skin that freckled evenly like my sister’s either. It was not even the kind of white skin that was milky and smooth all over. Read more…

Burning Hands and the Fire Fairy

I was commissioned to write a story for a fantasy themed wedding. The story now lives in the memories of the couple and their guests who could identify themselves and their loved ones in the characters and the details of the story. Book a fairy tale for your wedding.

One day in the City of Gold in the Kingdom of the Freedom Sun a boy was born with burning hands.

“How do you know he has burning hands?” the people would ask the old  village hag.

Everyone knew that such a gift was given to one boy child every 500 years. They also knew that a gift like that only surfaced once the chosen boy is a man grown. Then the old hag would gaze into the distance and recall the ancient prophecy:  (Music)

“Every 500 years our Freedom  Sun must revive, every 1000 years Love must come alive

When 5 and 5 makes 10 Burning Hands and his Fairy will come again. Read more…

Contact me to customise a story for your event.

Read more inspiring true stories.

 

Pig catching on 22 April: Rapid Role Recasting

I have been invited to run a session at the 2016 Be the Difference Knowledge Management Summit.

On Friday I will test a Strategic Narrative Embodiment technique for the summit called “rapid Role Recasting”. For the first time, instead of using participants to embody their own stories, I will be using actors from Drama for Life. Rapid Role Recasting is aimed at understanding where we come from and where we are going. Perhaps more importantly: what is the next step on the way? We can decide on the day what ‘we’ means in this context e.g. coaches in general or pig catchers in particular?

 

It is about understanding our role in the bigger picture.

Watch this space to see how the experiment went and what Elmi Bester, the summit convener who will be attending on Friday, says about it.

Topic:    Rapid role Recasting: the thing you (or your client) need to do when you (they) don’t know what to do next.

Date:     22 April 2016

Time:    7am for 7:15 to 9:15  Research conversation (for all who are  interested in Strategic Narrative Embodiment)

9:30-12:30 Pig Catching

NOTE: the Pig catching session will start at 9:30 sharp to make the most of our time.

Facilitator: Petro Janse van Vuuren assisted by Drama for Life actors

Cost: R250 (Includes a write-up of the session)

Venue: 305 Long Ave Ferndale

Dress: Comfortable clothes you can stretch and move in

Coffee, tea, muffins and fruit on arrival.

RSVP: by  Wed 20 April

Other Pig Catching dates this year:

22 july
7 Oct

9 Dec

Please diarise!

Join our group on Facebook:

About Pig Catching:

Pig catching is what coaches and facilitators do when we chase the moment of insight that brings shift and transformation in our clients.

Please note: No pigs get harmed, our pigs are purely metaphorical and they have wings.

Bring your curiosity, your open minds and your questions.

Join us on Friday if you dare…

 

 

What is the difference between authentic leadership and the regular kind?

Join me and other coaches and facilitators as we discuss this and other questions at the

AUTHENTIC LEADERSHIP SYMPOSIUM

With distinguished guest Dr. Mark Rittenberg

Presented bu Drama for Life at Wits University

 Opening workshop:

Discover your Authentic Leadership through a unique combination of Communication, Coaching and Leadership. Most leaders have learned the essential analytical tools, however few are skilled at motivating, inspiring, and developing employees as a way to unleash their potential and to maximize their performance.

This three hour interactive workshop utilizes powerful theater techniques and cultural anthropology to acquire public speaking, communication and coaching skills. Learn how to engage in effective interpersonal exchanges, develop presenting and communication skills that make a powerful impression on your audience, and forge more productive relationships with co-workers.

Dr Mark Rittenberg, Professor of Leadership Communications, Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley, and his team create an interactive environment that challenges and trains participants to hone their leadership skills to create a high performance team.

 Provocations and conversations:

We invite delegates to present a 7 min provocation for conversation around the theme of leadership, business and the arts. The intention is to continue an interdisciplinary conversation that challenges current constructs around the relationship between business and the arts and to explore new possibilities, metaphors and language for how arts, particularly the applied arts,  and business can serve each other.

 Date:     18 March 2016

Programme:

9:30-10:00Tea/coffee and registration

10:00-13:00 workshop

13:00-13:30  Q and A over lunch

14:00-16:00 Provocations and conversations.

Investment: R250

Venue: 17th floor University corner building

Dress: Comfortable clothes you can stretch and move in

RSVP: by  Mon 14 March to petro.jansevanvuuren@wits.ac.za

Please indicate in your email if you would like to present a 7 min provocation. A provocation should present a dilemma, a quandary or a question for discussion around the theme of leadership, business and the arts. The programme makes room for 5 provocations.

 About Mark Rittenberg

For over twenty years, Dr. Mark Rittenberg has helped organizations create communities of excellence among their people and empowered individuals to become true leaders with the ability to actualize a vision — all through the power of communication. Dr. Rittenberg believes that important personal, social, and business problems can be effectively addressed using the Active Communicating methodology he developed — which draws upon the actor’s discipline of engaging, creative and effective communication.

Dr. Rittenberg’s experience extends around the globe, across cultures and across industries. In Israel in the 1970’s and 1980’s, he was able to use theatrical activities to build cultural bridges and develop mutual respect among the Israeli and Palestinian students in his workshops. In South Africa, he served as Professor of Education specializing in teacher training workshops in arts based education as an interventionist working with at-risk youths in disadvantaged situations. Based upon this work, Dr. Rittenberg was awarded the J. William Fulbright Senior Scholar Award and traveled to post-apartheid South Africa in an attempt to rebuild the self esteem and confidence that had been shattered in Black communities during years of segregation. In 1999, he was asked to return to Israel and apply his cultural conflict resolution experience in Middle East peace initiatives with the Young Leaders Network. Dr. Rittenberg served as both a mediator and communication specialist for the UNESCO Middle East Peace Process forum. He worked with leaders from Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian Authority, and Egypt on peaceful solutions to the Middle East conflict. Rittenberg led a special interest group symposium on arts- based programs for disadvantaged youth for use in community centers in the four countries.

Dr. Rittenberg is on the business and leadership communications faculty at the UC Berkeley Haas School of Business where he was awarded the The Earl F. Cheit Award For Excellence In Teaching . Additionally he currently teaches expressive communication and presentation in Executive Education Programs at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, the Haas School of Business at the University of California at Berkeley, the University of San Francisco, the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University, and the Olin School of Business at Washington University in St. Louis. Dr. Rittenberg holds a Doctorate in International and Multicultural Education from the University of San Francisco. He also holds a Masters of Arts Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies in Education from San Francisco State and a Bachelor of Arts degree from University of California at Berkeley where he double majored in Education and Social Welfare.

 WE’RE LOOKING FORWARD TO WELCOMING YOU!

No more model citizens! What I learned at the ATKV this week.

ATKV Jeugleiersimposium

Dit was my voorreg om hierdie week, Maandag en Dinsdag, as spreker op te tree by die ATKV se Jeugleiersimposiums by die Goudini Spa naby Worcester en Buffelspoort naby Hartebeespoortdam.

My onderwerp: Vyf soorte weerstand teen leierskap en hoe om dit te hefboom. As jy daar was kan jy die opsomming hier aflaai in die vorm van die skyfie reeks wat ek gebruik het. As jy nie daar was nie, sal dit maar min sin maak vir jou.

Vyf soorte weerstabd teen leierskap

Translation:

It was my privilege to speak at the ATKV Youth Leaders symposia on Monday and Tuesday this week at Goudini Spa in the Western Cape and Buffelspoort in Gauteng.

My topic: Five types of resistance to leadership and how to leverage them. If you were there you can download the slide show above. If you were not there, it won’t make much sense to you.

Insights from this experience:

I am unable to divorce strategy and narrative from embodiment

I have come to distrust speaking as an effective way of bringing about change completely. There was a time when I thought that experiential interactive processes were mostly effective but that, now and then, speaking was still the best way. That idea might still be true for some and in certain contexts, but no longer for me and I can’t think of a context anymore where I would do it this way. It was my two talks at the ATKV Youth Leadership Symposiums this week that finalised this deduction for me.

Read about the five differences between SNE and motivational speaking.

The audience was wonderfully attentive, intelligent and as interactive as can be expected from 170 youngsters listening to a talk. And they were so beautifully compliant.

However, I wanted to interact with them more – hear about what erks them and talk about resistance. Being an applied theatre practitioner, I did interact, of course, but not in an embodied manner. It was mostly through conversation and feedback. They were model citizens, responding just like I would have wanted them to – if my talk was not about resistance. I no longer want neat well crafted processes where the audience do what the mode of presentation requires. I wanted some disagreement, some sparks. Yes, some resistance.

What I did in these talks was a combination of strategy and narrative, but it is the embodied part of the model that allows participants to interact with the narrative, the ‘story in the room’. If they don’t, it is left, for the most part, un-interrogated. The strategic narrative embodiment model of designing workshops and interventions is the model I developed over the last 7 years in my work in organisation development and leadership coaching.

I have made peace, I think, with the fact that no work I do creates any bangs and does not cause the populace to rise up in adoration. The work is too challenging and out of the ordinary. However, I have come to expect that I will love what I do. Interactive talking just did not do it for me here. I left feeling completely unmoved. That is just no good. So, if you want a 45 min to 1 hour talk on the five types of resistance to leadership and how to leverage them, forget it. I will rather ask for 90 min or 3 hours and do a truly Strategic Narrative Embodiment session.

It seems I am a one song bird.

Contact me to make a booking.

Pig Catching on 4 Dec: Moving people part 2

INVITATION TO CATCH PIGS

Topic:    Moving People

Date:     4 December 2015

Time:    7am for 7:15 to 10am Pig Catching

10:30-12:30 Research conversation (for all who are  interested in Strategic Narrative Embodiment)

NOTE: We will start at 7:15 sharp to make the most of our time.

Facilitator: Hamish Neill (from Drama for Life)

Cost: R250 (Includes a write-up of the session)

Venue: 305 Long Ave Ferndale

Dress: Comfortable clothes you can stretch and move in

Coffee, tea, muffins and fruit on arrival.

RSVP: by 1 December.

More on the topic:

What is this shift in leadership and Organisation Development that everyone is talking about?

Some call it a change from Command and Control to Sensing and Responding

Others say it is Autocratic to Participative Leadership

Some try to explain it by using metaphors for the kinds of Organisations we want e.g. no more machine like organisations, rather organic ones, or ones that work like the human brain. Still others say an organisation should be looked at as  a work of art…

There are also those that talk of a Vision and Values based culture versus a virtuoso culture, or a profit focussed organisation versus one that aims for a triple bottom line i.e. people planet and profit.

Whatever the shift is that our new changing world is asking for, we are the ones that support the transformation.

In this session, we will continue our foray into the symbols, metaphors and images that make up our understanding of this shift with Hamish from Dram for Life. In doing so you will also get insight into the tool called Image Theatre as a means for extracting and eliciting stories from participants.

Read my reflections on our previous session here: Can Image Theatre help us change organisational life in South Africa?

About Pig Catching:

Pig catching is what coaches and facilitators do when we chase the moment of insight that brings shift and transformation in our clients.

Please note: No pigs get harmed, our pigs are purely metaphorical and they have wings.

Bring your curiosity, your open minds and your questions.

Join us on Friday if you dare…

Why did Luke’s family and Obi Wan have to die?

Starcon logo
Starcon logo

As I prepare for my talk at Starcon on Tjhu, I wonder:

  1. Why did Luke’s family have to be killed before hewas willing to go with Obi Wan ti help Princess Lea?
  2. Can such tragedy in your own life, and more importantly, the lives of your audience members be spared by listening to stories?
  3. Why did Obi Wan have to die too? Could Luke not find the force if he stayed alive?
  4. If we as speakers are the Obi Wans for the Lukes in our audiences, do we also have to die? How?

The talk I will be giving is the “Seven Story Secrets for Speakers” illustrated by the journey of Luke Skywalker from Starwars episodes 4 to 6. Reflect with me on the role you want to play for your audience members and the role stories play in your talks. On Thu I will be sharing three ways in which to use stories: Telling the story, letting the audience consider their stories and using a story as the design inspiration for a talk. The Seven Story Secrets for Speakers use the first two ways, but explains the third in greater detail. More about Starcon: Toastmasters International in Southern Africa’s May Conference is happening this week from 14-16 May 2015. Our team is all about finding excellence and reaching beyond your perceived limitations. And so, the theme of “Reach for the Stars” was born and all things Star Wars and Star Trek were adopted. I have been asked, in the words of the organisasers to “joining Starfleet in the fight against the evil forces of Glossophobia.” What does this mean? do I suffer from it unknowingly? I  look forward to sharing stories with all the delegates and speakers.

Dr. Petro Janse van Vuuren

Researcher, Speaker and Coach

Need a speaking coach? Contact Petro

Interested in a course in facilitation and coaching? Click here

Looking for a speaker or storyteller at your event? Contact Petro

EVENT: Pig Catching on 8 May

What would the tools you use say if they could talk?

Catch a Flying Pig
Catch a Flying Pig

If your technology, your materials or props could talk to you, they might have interesting opinions and suggestions about your facilitation, your coaching or even the way you run your business.. They may have ideas about how to improve the potential for catching pigs. For those who don’t know what I am on about, read more about catching pigs below.

This session will be especially helpful if you have questions around tools, materials and technology relating to your coaching/facilitation practise. Questions like:

  • Do you want new tools to help you make a pointIs your newsletter stuck?
  • Is your marketing system not working for you?
  • Is your computer frustrating you?
  • Are you wondering what form your facilitator guide or workbook should take?
  • Would you like to use more props?

We look forward to being inspired by you!

DETAILS:

Date: Fri 8 May
Time: 7 am to 9:30 am
Place: 305 Long Avenue, Ferndale.
Cost: R200 or R150 if you are still in the first year after attending the Playing Mantis Essentials Master Course in Coaching and Facilitation.
Coffee, tea, muffins and fresh fruit on arrival.

More on Pig catching

Pig catching is what coaches and facilitators do when we chase the moment of insight that brings shift and transformation in our clients.

NOTE: no real pigs get harmed during the course of our work, we play only in the metaphoric sense and all our pigs have wings)

All our pig catching sessions are geared to learning new techniques for helping our clients to insight, break through and sustainable transformation. More specifically, we look at using methods and techniques from the performing arts. We have found that this is an untapped world of wealth where metaphoric work, embodied experiences and group imagination can bring about powerful transformations.

Click here if you want to attend

EVENT: Pig Catching Session 1 for 2015

Dear Pig catchers old and new,

We kick of our pig catching sessions this year with a session on Threshold Guardians. We will work metaphorically with our own TG’s just like we did with our pigs in the first session last year (for those who remember). You will work with different people in pairs to explore:

  • What does your TG look like?
  • What prize is he or she guarding?
  • How do you usually interact with him/her?
  • How do you win the battle so that you can claim the prize?
  • How does all this serve your coaching/facilitation practise?

If our sessions from last year is anything to go by, you will leave with a greater sense of understanding, freedom and victory, not to mention techniques that you can use in your own practise.

For those who don’t know what I am on about:

Catch a Flying Pig
Catch a Flying Pig
Pigs in this conversation represent that breakthrough, that elusive insight that we are always chasing while we coach or facilitate. Often the pig is just out of our reach taunting us with that little curly tail. Other times we jump and grab for it, and it slips out of grasp to leave us with a skinned knee lying in the mud. But other times, we grab and hold on, it thrashes and twists, but we maintain our grip and finally subdue it so we can take it home as a pet, or feast on its bacon with our clients as guests of honour.

NOTE: no real pigs get harmed during the course of our work, we play only in the metaphoric sense and all our pigs have wings)

In the session with the pigs I refer to above, we played in pairs exploring the exact nature and character of our individual pigs. Through embodiment and sound we examined how we usually deal with our pigs, how we try to catch them, and we experiment with different ways of catching – ways that can bring about different results from what we are used to.

All our pig catching sessions are geared to learning new techniques for helping our clients to insight, break through and sustainable transformation. More specifically, we look at using methods and techniques from the performing arts. We have found that this is an untapped world of wealth where metaphoric work, embodied experiences and group imagination can bring about powerful transformations.

DETAILS:

Date: Fri 20 Feb
Time: 7 am to 9:30 am
Place: 305 Long Avenue, Ferndale.
Cost: R200 or R150 if you are still in the first year after attending the Playing Mantis Essentials Master Course in Coaching and Facilitation.
Coffee, tea, muffins and fresh fruit on arrival.

More on Threshold Guardians

You know when you really, really, REALLY want to do something, but something in you won’t let you? It tells you that you can’t, that you will make a mess of it, again, that others are already doing it, or that everyone else can do it better than you, so why try? It is the giant that guards the treasure castle of the evil wizard, the three-headed dog that protects the philosopher’s stone and the dragon that watches over the princess. He, or she, is not the villain, but the threshold guardian placed there to scare you away.

When you coach or facilitate, your participants or coachee are also facing their own threshold guardians, and the scary thing is, that until they are conquered, neither you nor your client can get to the prize.

The heartening fact is, that in the many tests and trials the hero faces on his journey, the battle with the threshold guardian is always won. There may be other defeats, but usually not the fight with this kind of resistance – except of course when you deal with a tragic hero, but we are not in business for those guys. Othello, Oedipus Rex and Macbeth stubbornly hung on to their fundamental weakness and would not let it go. They do not make good clients. We work with the Harry Potters, the Shreks and the Brave Hearts. These guys can win and so can you.

Click here if you want to attend