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Creating Flow

The Freedom To Be

Tag Archives: Relationship

“What do you do?” We are often asked. The question leaves us stumped. Depending on who’s asking, our answers may range from – organisation development, HR consulting, leadership development or team building. Some people end up thinking we offer life skills. Well the actual answer is peculiar. We do neither of the above, yet all of the above. Let me explain.

First, why is it difficult to explain what we do? Second, what we do and what emerges out of it.

My work is purely experiential, hence difficult to explain. It is like asking someone eating a chocolate ice cream what does it taste like. He will say “it tastes like chocolate ice cream”. Now, if you have tasted chocolate ice cream you will recall that taste from memory. But if you have never eaten it before, then chocolate ice cream are simply words and you are as clueless as before.  Since what I do is not something I have experienced others do, I don’t really have words to explain it. In which case I use common words that people will relate to – OD, HR, Training, Coaching etc. Of course these have so many connotations based on the listener’s association with these words, that he simply puts my work under one of these buckets, and is quite satisfied thinking he has understood what I do. But that is not what I do.

So what do I do? Simply put, I engage people in conversations. With themselves or with each other. It is my belief that all that is manifest in the outer world is on account of the inner conversations of people. These conversations may comprise of beliefs, values, ideas, notions, concepts, theories, philosophies, prejudices, perceptions, views, opinions, judgements. Call it what you may, all these form part of our inner conversation, that becomes our self-identity. When this personal inner world relates to another person’s inner world it creates a relationship. When there are more people bound together, it creates a culture. Cultures gives rise to systems, processes, policies – stated or unstated- to manage a social unit. Be it a family, organisation or a nation.

In the work we have done, I have observed that engaging people in facilitative conversations brings awareness of mindsets, values, strengths, weaknesses, cultures, roles, systems. It also highlights how these are related to each other and helps to identify what is functional and dysfunctional in a particular situation. These conversations are very real. By that I mean pertinent to the person’s current life situation. Since neither of this is intellectual or cognitive, it impacts people at a feeling level. These conversations have the capability to impact mindsets and beliefs, during the course of the conversations itself. Even views the person may hold about himself. Quite unlike intellectual learning, where concepts are gathered, to be put to good use later. Which in my experience rarely happens. It only adds to the concept bank of a person, without creating any shift in consciousness.

So what use is this? The beauty of it is, that it can be put to any use. Ranging from helping individuals get in touch with themselves more deeply, facilitating full self-expression to building organisation cultures. The outcome is mostly a by-product of these conversations. A recent interview and interactive process we did with the leadership team of an organization to my mind built individual and group self-awareness, opened communication blocks, examined individual styles to organizational roles, identified key organizational blocks, built ownership to the organisation brand and vision and identified the next strategic initiatives for organizational growth. Did we start with these objectives? No. We simply started and ended with facilitating conversations that were unarticulated. Bringing multiple perspectives to awareness for exploration and enhancing the gestalt of an individual to experience himself and another. Whatever objectives were achieved, were an outcome that of that process.

I often tell people, what I do cannot be told or sold. It can only be experienced and recommended. People who have experienced our work and found value in it, become our brand ambassadors. We recently did a group coaching exercise for young adults, as a part of a two year leadership program called Gandhi Fellowship. Enclosed below is a testimonial from Tripti, the Head of that program. It was one of the most fulfilling assignments and the comprehensive testimonial is reflective of how we work. Even though the focus in this assignment was the individual and not the organisation, our approach in all cases remain the same. Facilitating the unsaid.

In conclusion I am reminded of the saying “The proof of the pudding lies in eating it.”

And, knowing what Flow does lies in experiencing it!

Testimonial from Kaivalya Education Foundation

{http://www.gandhifellowship.org}

Flow conducted a five day Personal Reflection process for the fellows of the Gandhi Fellowship program. The brief to Flow was to design a process that would enhance the fellows’ self-awareness, get them to systematically begin exploring the question, “Who am I?” and thus be able to reach clarity about themselves so as to enable each fellow to articulate to herself his/her early version of their ‘private dream’; which is a the pivot around which the Gandhi Fellowship program is designed.

 Flow had to design a process that explored the innermost questions of each individual but it had to be done in a group and it had to be designed for 40 people. How to design a standard process that can be customized to the needs of each individual? And most importantly how to do this an environment that is emotionally and psychologically safe? These were the issues around which Flow had to work.

 Added to this was the challenge that these were no regular corporate employees, who would do a process simply because they had been asked to. The Fellows are individuals who will not do anything only for the sake of it and they are people who will ask questions and demand reasons for what they are getting in to.

 Flow Consulting designed a process that effectively and intelligently worked around the above-mentioned challenges and constraints. The design of the process was accurate to the last minute and yet left room for ideas and emotions to flow when needed. Within a tight design there was room for adaptation, participation and even co-facilitation. The beauty of the process was that by the second day fellows themselves had begun to contribute to the facilitation process.

 The process stretched the limits of all, the fellows and of members from Flow Consulting too. A process of such intense nature that extends for five days can be a emotionally and psychologically draining but Ajay, Payal and Jaya flowed through the ebb and flow of intense emotions with consummate ease.

 What I appreciate most was their ability to connect with, respect and appreciate the uniqueness of the Gandhi Fellows. This attitude percolated to the fellows and so they were able to draw  real appreciation and respect from the Fellows.

The most evident outcome of the process has been that the Fellows have learnt how to accept the emotion they are feeling at a given moment and  then give word to their emotions. This ability to connect to the ebb and flow of one’s emotions is the first step towards taking responsibility for one’s feelings, which in turn is a giant step in reaching true maturity. Flow has made a huge contribution to this growth in the journey of the 40 fellows.

Tripti Vyas

Head: Gandhi Fellowship Programme

Kaivalya Education Foundation

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“At times you can see where the inner compass is pointing but are conditioned to turn a blind eye to it. Perhaps along with the compass you need the guts to swim against the tide, have blind faith in the compass or sheer madness!”

That was a response I got on my previous article on the ‘Inner Compasshttps://creatingflow.wordpress.com/2010/11/07/32/

It reflected most other responses. It is one thing to know and another to have the courage to do it. This then seemed like the logical exploration for this article, as the sequel to the ‘Inner Compass’.

Does change happen to us or do we create change? What is change? How do we know we are changing? When is the right time for change? What is necessary for change?

I wondered where could I find a change expert at short notice to answer my questions. I gazed at the books lying on the table next to me. One book caught my attention. ‘Conversations  With God’ by Neale Donald Walsh. The author finds his questions answered by God. Enough answers to fill three volumes. Perhaps I could invoke a God of Change and get him to answer my questions.

I close my eyes and invoke Change.

I ask my first question.

ME: How do I know that you are the God of Change, not a part of my belief or imagination?

CHANGE: Isn’t that what God is?

ME: Huh! (after a thoughtful pause) But how can I trust you to give me the right answers?

CHANGE: There are no right answers. Just as there are no wrong answers. What makes you reflect and make conscious choices is perhaps right.

ME: Hmmm…Ok. Let’s get down to business then. My first question on change is what most of my readers are asking. We often know what is best for us yet we don’t have the courage to follow it. Why?

CHANGE: Fear of the unknown. What you know is a lit circle. What you don’t know is the darkness beyond. Most people prefer to be in the comfortable warmth of the circle, even if it burns them gradually. Then there are other times that people think they know, yet they don’t really know.

ME: What do you mean ‘don’t really know’?

CHANGE: Knowing is not different from action. When one knows by putting his hand into the fire it will burn, he chooses not to do so. It does not take courage to keep his hand away from fire. It is common sense.

ME: But life situations are never so simple. There are many factors and people involved.

CHANGE: True. Yet the final choice is between what gives you life and what takes it away. Does your life situation enhance life or deplete it.

ME: Like I said, it is difficult to give a clear answer. Each situation has its pros and cons. Things are never so black and white.

CHANGE: Yet people continue to be in relationships long after they have stopped nourishing them. Both at work or home.  Often it is an unwillingness to know themselves beyond who they currently are. They hold on to old tattered clothes, rather than expose themselves and wear fresh new ones. The old identity wants to survive at all costs.

ME: But isn’t that natural? The desire to survive.

CHANGE: Isn’t it natural to die too. Nature is cyclical. One season follows another. Life follows death. And death follows life. It is ironical that more people die because of their desire to survive.

ME: Hmm…I am touched. That’s a powerful statement….

CHANGE: Be with it. What touches you can grow. It has the seed for new life to emerge. What doesn’t will eventually perish.

ME: Can I ask you a direct question?

CHANGE: Sure.

ME: When is the right time to end a relationship that is not working?

CHANGE: There is no right time, just as there is no wrong time either. Moreover, relationships never end. They continue inside you.

ME: C’mon! Don’t be vague. Give me a straight answer.

CHANGE: Okay. Tell me, what is the most important thing in a relationship?

ME: Love, commitment, trust, acceptance…

CHANGE: And what builds all of that?

ME: I guess it’s built over time. Isn’t it? (reflecting) Why don’t you tell me what is the most important thing in a relationship?

CHANGE: Honest communication. When a relationship does not allow honesty to yourself or the other, perhaps it is time to give it another form. Like energy, relationships never die. They transform.

ME: And what about work?

CHANGE: When work becomes a job. It is best to change. Work is a creative expression of who you are. Anything less than that is something you do to earn a living.

ME: Are you saying that we all quit our jobs to follow our passion! Is that practical?

CHANGE: Most of you are not educated to follow or know your true self-expression. Your education prepares you for a job not life. In your compulsion to be practical like everyone else, you give up on your true self.

ME: Is there anything such as a true self?

CHANGE: True and false are words. What is real is your experience. Examine it closely. It will speak to you. Do you look forward to work when you get up? Are your relationships nourishing you? The answers to these questions can point you in the direction of your true self.

ME: That brings us a full circle. We began with knowing what is best for us yet not having the courage to do it. So what is the solution?…wait, I almost know what you will say “There is no solution. Life is all about choices.”

CHANGE: (smiles) Yes, and each choice has a cost and a benefit. I don’t think you need me anymore.

*****

ME: Hey wait before you go! I have one last question. Who are you really?

CHANGE: I am a part of you. The part that knows. Free of fear or confusion. I exist in every person.

ME: Then why don’t you guide everyone.

CHANGE: I would. However most people don’t really ask.

ME: Ask what?

CHANGE: Questions.

*****

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