With thoughts of leadership, love, and learning swirling in my mind, I approached a pinch hitting assignment to facilitate a discussion in a much different way than I had in the recent past. Three concepts guided my preparation. I knew that industry research indicates that learning rarely happens outside of loving relationships. I also knew that heigthened emotion accompanies long term learning. Well aware that I was not the repository of all knowledge and insight for the given topic, I turned to Constructivist Leader priniciples which highlight the recipricle interplay of learning and leading that happens by engaging in cultivated conversation and reflective, relevant questions.
If I accomplished little else I knew I would be successful if I could demonstrate my love for them individually. In my attempt to do just that I did not preocupy myself with what to say next. I looked people in the eye and genuinely listened to their comments and questions. I responded with appropriate indicators that I heard and valued their insights.
To heighten emotion I played a touching story told in video on my laptop. Please note that this 13″ laptop was being viewed by 40+ individuals. Yet, I believe the effect was still the same if not better because it required us to share and scoot closer together. A sense of belonging can be encouraged by simple physical proximity. The video also related to Mother’s day and immediately was lent greatly validity and relevance.
We meandered through several questions I had prepared during our time together. I did NOT expect a specific answer to searching questions. Rather, I was interested to see where the conversation would lead, trusting that those participating would remain close to their true identity as they shared their experiences and emotions. I think many hesitate to open up a dialogue becuase it is too free form and introduces an unnerving amout of uncertainty. My experience has shown me that individual and collective identity craft the conversation in unanticipated yet highly constructive ways. Questions led our group to explore our thoughts and feelings and motivated us to truly consider our perspective in a new light.
All the indicators I have lead me to believe that our time together was well spent. Comments of appreciation, expressions on faces, and an increase of love were the results. How I appreciate the molding of character that happens as we are strecthed to reach beyond ourselves and teach others through love and not lessons.