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March 14, 2014

Stewardship for a new emergence : Monica Sharma (Stage 1, Session 1)

From April 2013 (two months before our move to Auroville) I started attending the 'Stewardship for a new emergence' workshop conducted by Monica Sharma.One of the teachers from Isai Ambalam was interested in the workshop, but felt that she needed support at the workshop. This is where I came into picture, I was also moving to a new place a workshop seemed like a good place to explore what all is happening at Auroville.

Monica worked with the UN on large scale sustainable change (and leadership program) in 60 countries. My blog is called small is beautiful...and yet I found myself at the workshop again. I realized that it was because I had imbibed the workshop and used it as a template to organize my own classes and it was a chance to learn more and contribute to the growth of others.

Practically, the workshop is organized as three sets of three days each. They are spaced out a month apart for practice.
I am supporting the workshop this year as a practitioner-coach (PC). The sessions were similar to the ones I attended earlier, but I saw them differently and could see the common threads and the connections between the areas covered in the workshop. My insights were deeper and clearer. Each course was followed by an additional day for Stage 2 where we covered additional areas building on what we had done before.

The workshop offers a set of practical tools, but when I use them I find that I need to be grounded in my wisdom space (or connected to my higher consciousness). The method of the workshop is based of inquiry, sharing insights and planing and looking at work in progress. When others share their insights it often helps to make your own implicit ideas explicit resulting in your own insights.

I'm listing the work in areas/sessions to give a hint of what is to come and possibly encourage people to participate in such workshops at Auroville or elsewhere in the world:

Stage I (7-9 Feb 2014)
1) Self: The first effort is made to understand oneself and look beyond our philosophies and feelings and understand who we are being when we do our best work. It is exploring the qualities we embody when we believe we did our best work or we were at peace with our work. This quality was called stand in the workshop and it was a space of possibility that we could connect with. Harmony, happiness, equality, contentment, self-awareness, self-expression, oneness, integrity, love, unity and self-realizations were all the stands of various people.

One way of identifying the stand was by looking at what we are working towards and what we would be left with when all there is to be done is accomplished. Another approach was to find out the points of most joy and harmony in our life and looking at what we were embodying at that time.

For some it helped to think of a person (they did not know personally) that they looked up to and think of the quality they admired.

My stand in the last workshop was happiness. In this workshop I realized the need to add self-awareness to happiness.

2) Fears
We dealt with our greatest fears some of them were - not being good enough, not being in control, not being recognized, failure, being misunderstood, insecurity, rejection, backstabbing, loosing confidence, discouragement.
Whenever something goes wrong our fight-flight-freeze reptilian brain immediately takes us to this default space as a protection mechanism (Amygdala hijack). In order to transcend the fears we need to be capable of sourcing our inner power (working from our stand).
Courage is not the absence of fear, but the ability to act in spite of fear. The way to deal with a fear is to notice it, name it and let it go and to be in action.
A quote of Chief Seattle of the Suquamish Indians - "When you know who you are, when your mission is clear and you burn with the inner fire of unbreakable will; no cold can touch your heart; no deluge can dampen your spirits" was shared in the session that I found an appropriate way to close this session.

3) 4-profiles
We examined the 4-profiles we possess and use - wisdom (working of inner guidance), social (assumption and conditioning of society), personality (personal style of expression), professional (skills, successes, service, etc). An important insight was that I often think that I am working from my wisdom space, but it is distorted by my other profiles. 

4) Background conversations: This is the most pervasive listening of - I am right and you are wrong. These are judgement we make of something a person is saying while they are saying it e.g. right/wrong, agree/disagree, not responsible, either/or, not enough, us/them. There was an exercise with a partner where we tried one conversation with and without this judgement to see its impact.

An important insight is that response has its place, but only after we are able hear someone with an open heart.

5) We saw a wonderful film on background conversations. I noticed that this time when I watched it I observed a lot of subtle application of the 4-profiles not only verbally, but also in body language.

All through the sessions individuals offer insights of what they have learnt which were extremely useful for my own growth as they make explicit what is sometimes implicit.

6) System Principles
 We saw the movie the story of stuff to look for principles of system shifts. Some principles were making the invisible visible (externalizing costs), looking at the results chains and having strategies that can impact various points on the chain, use of media and advertising, creating matrices to check what is important, mindset changes, need to state explicitly the guiding principles (qualities/values) of the system.

7) Designing my breakthrough initiative for sustainable and equitable change: 
Having reminded the participants of self and system changes we look at the conscious full spectrum response (CFSR) worksheet. CFSR attempts to connect underlying technical solutions with system shifts (workplace, government, society), to our inner capacities and that of the project that would make these actions possible.

In essence, the worksheet helps answer the questions:
a) What are the measurable deliverables: what problem are you solving? (technological solutions)
b) What systems will you need to shift to make the solution sustainable? (systems solutions)
c) What are the core values of your project? (personal/shared stewardship)
d) What inner qualities will be the basis of your actions? (personal stewardship)
at the same time and harmonize these spaces within you.

I found it was much easier to fill out CFSR this time and found that my work with the children and the youth were the same as related to inner capacities and principles of the project - self-awareness, confidence and self-expression.

I also learnt how to support individuals to use CFS by focussing on the questions - what was easy, what was difficult and what can you see or do now that you could not before. It also helped to remind people that it is important to apply the method to day-to-day work rather than for a Sunday morning hobby. The idea is to change/transform yourself in your workspace (hence transforming the workspace itself). Taking a real project makes the exercise real.

This work was the core of the workshop and after people wrote out their ideas they shared it at their tables with a partner and with the PC. It is iterative work and as one fills one section e.g. about embodied qualities with activities themselves could change and vice versa.

8) Complaints as commitment:
Stewardship centres around changing conversations towards progress. The first technique of viewing a complaint as a commitment. We first learnt to classify complaints - recreational complaints - fun (not gossip, not put-downs), expressive complaints - someone just wanting to be listened deeply to, complaints that are commitment for action.
It is important not to take things personally. You need to find your stand and be able to see what the individual is committed to that can benefit the project. There were many examples given and we also enquired in ourselves the complaints we had received and tried to look for the commitment behind those complaints.

9) Inspiring others to commit to action:
For the project one was asked to identify who they would want to talk to in order to move the project (collegue, groups, etc). Methodology connect with your stand, connect with your audience, state your work, make a committed request (specific request, specific group/people, specific time frame). As a PC I organized sessions for people to cover these in about three minutes. This was followed by feedback (10 below) from another individual and a PC.

10) How to give feedback that grows people:
There was a very specific way we gave feedback.
Ask if the person wants your feedback.
Use only use:
a) increase
b) decrease
c) retain
These words have been found to be sufficient to convey what needs to be done without making it personal.

It was interesting that it appeared to be sterile for some people in the beginning, but as they started using it and receiving feedback many found it useful and non-threatening.

11) Conversations for generating action
Promises: for specific actions in specific time frames.
Committed responses: does not always need to be yes even if you can't. Effective responses can include declining, counter-offer or counter-request, promise to respond at a specific later time, accept.
We covered the common breakdowns in applying committed actions - including lack of specificity, asking for behaviour change rather than action, penalizing others for declining requests or revoking promises.

12) Stages of leadership/stewardship
As adapted from Likert-Emberling this conveys the various stages of leadership. Stages are different from levels in that they encompass what is before and build on it. In each stage the individual can be acting as a healthy and unhealthy leader at that stage based on if they are able to generate results or not. These stages are unorganized, autocratic (principle and logic of one individual), manager (based on following rules to the letter), pragmatic (produce results beyond rules, but are not linked by principle and ends justify the means), principled leadership (based on principles, becomes unhealthy if rightiousness becomes self-rightious), perspectivist (able to be principled, able to hold differences as long as principles are not violated)

One of the key areas of how the program works is the splitting up of triads that meet every week to share what each person was able to practice and apply to their projects and daily lives.

One way of looking at stewardship is deep listening, responsible speaking and being capable of shifting conversations to generate action. We learn various aspects of these in the workshop.


Ruchi said...

Very comprehensive! Just finished the first three day session. This is a great summary

Anonymous said...

I've heard about Monica Sharma's work and wanted to do a workshop with her. You've given a lucid description of the workshop. Would like to do it this year. Where do I get info about scheduled workshops?