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.

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

Cosmic resistance – When the world is against me

Emmet from the Lego movieYou have lead your audience past four types of resistance: 1. their doubts and reservations about their own suitability (Personal resistance), whether or not they can trust you (Relational resistance), the practicality of the solution (Practical resistance) and the people that would be on the journey with them (Social resistance). Now they look at their context and go: “Great plan, but life just doesn’t work that way”.  They look at their reality and say: “What if the solution or the people having to implement it fail?” I call this cosmic resistance.

Cosmic resistance is what happens when everything is lined up to go and your budget is cut, or a key player gets sick and unable to continue, or the equipment simply fails. Through no fault of yours, or the people trying to make the difference, it just fails. What then?

Read more and find out  how the Lego movie helps answer the question…

Easing past social resistance when facilitating

Do I fit in?

EeyoreEvery coaching client or participant wants to know:  am I alone in this? Many times somewhere in a coaching session a client would ask something like: “Is it just me who have these issues?” or “I sometimes wonder of my situation is more messed up than other people’s”. Just yesterday one asked me: “Do other women also struggle with the fact that their male colleagues are allowed to rant and rave and get all emotional, but as women they get patronised when they get upset?”.

In facilitations, it is often feedback like: “we discovered that our problems are very similar” or “i am so glad I am not alone in this”, that helps the facilitator know that social resistance is breaking down. Yet, this is not one you can give a single blow and be done with, it can take some people a long time to feel part of a group. This type of resistance must be gently worked on throughout a coaching session or a facilitation.

In the Lord of the Rings Frodo has learned that he is chosen (breaking through personal resistance) he has learned that he can trust Gandalf  (relational resistance) and he has heard the plan (practical resistance). Now he trembles as he almost accepts his duty…”So I must go to Mordor and deliver this ring into the fires that created it. And I must go alone…” But Gandalf surprises him. The wizard gets up, opens the door and brings in Samwise who had been eavesdropping the entire time. Neither Samwise nor Frodo can believe their good fortune when Gandalf informs them that Samwise must accompany Frodo. Sam is thrilled because of the promise of adventure, Frodo is thrilled because he would not be alone.

Samwise becomes Frodo’s loyal companion and it is thanks to him that Frodo finally manages to achieve the objective. We all need loyal support when we accept a new idea, try out a new habit or open up to a new perspective. But there are other social forces too that are needed to make sure we succeed and we must work on all of them throughout a process. I will share six of them with you here. Note that they work together in pairs.

Read more on the Playing Mantis blog andfind out what Eeyore has to do with it.

Overcoming Practical resistance: What’s the plan?

The tool, the plan, the rules

Neo and his mentor from the MatrixEvery facilitator or speaker faces resistance. If you have done a good job of Painting a Picture of the Possibility , (Introduction), you can expect at least 5 types of resistance: personal, relational, practical, social and cosmic. Here we focus on the third kind: practical, also called contextual, resistance.

Apart from the personal and moral objections of that comes with the first kind of resistance and the doubts they may have about you as the mentor, the second kind, there is a very real practical resistance. How will I do what you ask? What are the steps \ the plan?  Can I see the path and see myself walking it?

Whatever your solution is: 3 steps to losing weight, 5 types of resistance and how to overcome them or 7 principles of effective leadership, your audience needs to know it will work for them.

Like Aslan in the Narnia series, Dumbledore for Harry Potter and Griet for Liewe Heksie, the guide in the hero’s story do three things to guide the hero so he or she can see the way forward… Read the reston the Playing Mantis blog and find out what Neo from The Matrix has to do with it.

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

Breaking through Personal Resistance

Ring

Call on the hero’s Character

Once the audience catches on to a new idea, a new way of viewing a problem reframed as a possibility (Introduction), they must be enrolled as the heroes who can make that possibility happen.

As soon as your audience starts dreaming about new possibilities their status quo is threatened. This automatically leads to at least five kinds of resistance. The first kind is personal resistance. You can also call it moral objection. Your audience is asking: Why me? How is this relevant to me?

The most effective strategy to overcome this kind of resistance is… read the rest on the Playing Mantis blog and find out what The Lord of the Rings had to do with it.

Five types of resistance and how to break through

Introduction:  Paint a picture of the possibility

James and his bug friends flying on the giant peach

What made James in ‘James and the Giant Peach’ climb inside a giant peach, befriend life size bugs and steer across an ocean to go to New York? What made Cinderella get out of the ashes and off to the Prince’s ball? What made the frog turn into a prince?

The answer to all these questions is the same: they believed that it was possible. Of course, none of them started out believing it, they all needed someone to paint them a picture of the possibility. James lost hope when his cruel aunts destroyed the picture his deceased father had given him showing the big vibrant city of New York.  This dream needed reviving by the peculiar little man with the shiny green things. Cinderella was shattered and crying in the ashes when the Fairy Godmother found her. As for the frog: it was the arrival of the princess that sparked his hope.

Before the dream was planted, there was no resistance to change, only stuckness and possibly despair, or maybe just ignorance of what is possible. Yet, once a dream is planted, one type of resistance after another pops up to frustrate both the dreamer and the dream giver, the hero of the story and the story weaver, both you and your client. Read more on my company blog…

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

Why a ‘just fine’ facilitation is not good enough – and how to get it unstuck

Photo of solitary confinement cell door

Stories teach us about five types of resistance that a storyteller must take the main character through in order for him or her to transform. If you want to turn a frog into a prince, and not just dress the frog up in princely garb, you must guide that frog through. And your strongest ally in this journey is information. People need information – five types of information, matching the five types of resistance:

  1. Personal Resistance – Why me? How is this relevant to me?
  2. Relational Resistance – Why you? Why would you know how to help me?
  3. Social Resistance – Who is in this with me? Do I belong with them and they with me?
  4. Practical Resistance – How is this going to work? What is the process and the strategy?
  5. Cosmic Resistance – What happens when things don’t work out as planned? If it or I fail?

When you are the speaker, facilitator or coach, you are the story weaver and your client or audience is the princely frog.

I spoke this morning at the Knowledge Resources Organisational Development Conference about these five types of resistance. I devised an ingenious interactive process to illustrate it and cleverly used Shawshank Redemption and The Great Escape as metaphors for breaking through (or out of) the prison of resistance.

But it bombed.

No, it did not bomb, it actually went just fine, but it did not wow the way I dreamed it would (being so clever and all). ‘Just fine’ is just not good enough.

Why did it not work?

At first I thought it was because I failed to get two thirds of the audience over the first kind of resistance.

The plan was for the whole group to get up and act the part of someone who had been in solitary confinement for two months and then gets released. One third of them were ready to do so immediately. The idea was that, by the end of it all, most of them would be willing to do it. But, it was mostly the same group doing it by the end. Yet I tried it the day before with another group and it worked like a charm.

What went wrong on Wednesday?

I know that personal resistance has two aspects. I worked them through the first aspect, but not the second.

The question: “Is this for me” has two sides: first it relates to my personality i.e. “am I the type of person who would get up and act out anything?” But the second part of it has to do with the relevance of this to me: “Is this relevant to who I am and where I am at in my life?” This latter question is the one I did not make room for, and therefore two thirds of the people did not come with me on the journey.

How did I miss this?

Firstly, the answer lies in how a story begins. No story starts with the hero at the first point of resistance. It starts with the hero somewhere in a situation of stuckness. In the midst of that stuckness, whether or not they are aware of this ‘prison’, they receive the Call to Change. Only then can they resist this call.

As the story weaver, I needed to ‘get’ the nature of this stuckness so that I can fashion an appropriate Call. Usually I take quite a bit of time to understand where the audience is at, and to let them voice their perspectives on their situation. Unfortunately, I did not have time to do this as part of the talk and I could not mingle with them enough beforehand. I also think that, unconsciously, I thought I knew where they were. I did not.

Secondly, I know that the moment of cosmic resistance is usually such that, if any of the other resistances were not overcome by the time you get to it, they will surface and you can loop back and deal with them. My time was up, though, and I could not address them. This idea is supported by the fact that one participant said: “I could not get up and play the role as asked, even though I was ready to jump up and do it when you first suggested it, because the details of the story (the rape and the pain in the prison) upset me and it is unresolved.”

I wish with all my heart, dear participant, that I had the time to explore this with you. I am sorry to have opened it up without the opportunity to loop back and accompany you through it a second time – you and anyone else who needed it.

But this was not the whole story.

Really it comes down to simple group dynamics (if group dynamics were ever simple). I talked with a delegate the next day about the presentation. Of course he told me it was wonderful. Then I asked him why it was so difficult to get them moving? He agreed that it seemed like a tough crowd, but then simply said: “These guys are all strangers to each other: and it is a large group of strangers. They just needed more time to warm up. Also, it took me a while to remember the Shawshank story. I’m one of those people who forget detail.”

And that means that, in spite of my efforts, resistance number 3, Social Resistance, could not be broken with no warming up and in the short time I had. It also means that I needed to spend more time on establishing the shared reality: the Shawshank story.

What did I learn for next time?

  1. I will never again assume I know where people are. It’s odd, I have learned this lesson so many times and still unconsciously made assumptions. So the word ‘never’ is an intention, but I may step in the trap again. To help me, I will remember to take time before a talk to speak to people and ask them about their current challenges.
  2. I will not accept only 30 minutes of time for such a talk, especially if it is the first talk of the day and there is not time before hand to talk to folks. I need at least 60 minutes so that I can talk to folks, tell the story. And later on, get the feedback from the group and loop back if needed.
  3. I will not rely on PowerPoint to set the scene, but play to my strengths which is facilitation and conversation rather than information transmission. I so badly wanted to show my clever pictures and get through my slides that I could not work with the group where they were. If ever I use PowerPoint, it must be embedded in a facilitation process and not the other way around.

Where did this last point come from?

I noticed a pattern that, of the three bombed keynotes I did over the last five years, all of them had in common that :

  • It was based on a set of slides. In each case I worked on the slides till late the previous night, so they weren’t seasoned and embedded into my talk yet.
  • Also, I noticed that all three occasions was for an audience larger than 30, I do not know yet what that means… But I will watch and reflect and keep learning.

So, why should 65 OD practitioners need to get up and act like Tim Robins in the role of Andy Dufresne?

How entrenched in, or ‘confined’ by, their current way of doing are the people in your organisation? How harsh would they experience the new ideas that you want to introduce? Do you truly get their current reality? What can you do to guide them out of their solitary confinement safely and yet firmly so that they, like Andy, can own their actions and so be truly transformed?

Post image from Wikimedia Commons