Accepting Gifts

Everything is an OfferWe recently completed two days of facilitator training which involved some intense, messy, and difficult work.  Training continues to be invigorating and draining at the same time.  Since we’ll be going back for more training in a few weeks, I’d like to reflect on how facilitator training has changed me in ways I didn’t expect.

Back in July, on the very first day of training, Cheryl Gould introduced some principles of Applied Improv:

  • Be present
  • Listen
  • Support your partner
  • Yes, and
  • Everything is an offer

The group adopted them as ground rules.  I found the first three to be fairly simple.  I already try to do them during meetings and in life.  One of the reasons I find meetings so draining is I do try hard to be present and actively engaged.  These July meetings demanded a great deal of engagement. When you are present and engaged, listening to and supporting others usually follows naturally.

Yes, and-ing rather than No, but-ing requires practice.  I need to actively practice this principle more.  We had talked about the idea at Staff Day in April and practiced it in July.  It is a useful technique to move a group forward, especially when they are stuck in a negative mindset.  Yes, and-ing is an even more important mindset to adopt individually.   Stop saying no.  Think about ways to say yes.  It builds creativity and can be very freeing.  This action also helps us to move from a model of scarcity to a model of abundance.

The last principle, Everything is an offer, was much more difficult.  Really, everything!  How? And yet, it is this principle that I find creeping into every aspect of my life.  I tried hard to apply it during the July training sessions and as we worked on our first pilot project.  Then, months later, as I was parking on the street in front of my house, a neighbor criticized my parking.  While I sat in my car fuming, “everything is an offer” popped into my head.  I began to think – yes, he is right – I was taking up two spots instead of one.  Isn’t it great, we have a relationship that he can say that to me?  Although he was nice and said it jokingly, he meant it.  I am now a bit more careful when I park on the street.

I’ve been considering a different career path in the library.  It took me a while to decide that I wanted to try this new path.  As I take my first few steps, I know it is okay to just try with the understanding that failure is okay.  The important thing is to try.  I’m grateful for the opportunity.  This new path will be a lot easier with an attitude of acceptance.  Acceptance of the offer and acceptance of the possibility of failure.

As I walk along this path, I have received a few more gifts.  I had spent two days away from my branch training on problem-solving and the steps for Pilot Project 2.  When I got back to work I found a response to an email I had sent before the training days.  I was concerned that I had been rather abrupt in turning down an invitation to a community event that took place the evening of the first training day.  After working two nights and knowing that training would drain my energy, I just didn’t feel I could attend another evening session.

The email response was welcoming.   This individual would come to the branch in person and hoped to talk with me.  I looked again at the session I had missed and saw that it fit perfectly with my Pilot Project 2 topic.  Although I deeply regret missing that meeting, there are other ways to connect with the same people.  The group’s next session connects with a topic that another FIT Team is considering.  Although this meeting also occurs during a two-day training session, I have arranged to work only one night before the event.  I plan to be at that meeting as I figure my daughter can’t possibly break her finger again.  This meeting might mesh well with what other FIT Team members are working on which is another gift!

I later had a wonderful conversation with the person involved in the missed meeting.  We talked about the missed program and other activities she is involved in, such as English Language Learning (ELL).  These are topics that the library already partners with other organizations.  Now I know a bit more and made a connection with this person and her passions.   I told her about the English conversation sessions we are organizing.  She told me about some interesting resources for English Language Learning (ELL).  We will see where all this leads.  For now I’ve been given some wonderful gifts.  I’ve enjoyed unwrapping them.  Going forward I will see how I can best use them.

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