Pig catching on 31 May: Improvisational Mindfulness for Leaders

Flying pig

You are invited to catch flying pigs with us

In-person pig catching in Johannesburg

Topic:  How do I stay connected to presence and people when I need to make decisions and take action from moment to moment?
Date: Friday 31 May
Time:  7:30 am – 10:00 am
Place:  Floor 21, University Corner, above Wits Art Museum, Corner of Jan Smuts and Jorissen, Braamfontein (parking can be booked 8 days in advance)
Facilitators:  Petro Janse van Vuuren,
Dress: Comfortable clothes you can stretch and move in
RSVP: by Wed 29 Mayto petro.jansevanvuuren@wits.ac.za (unless you want parking, then let me know as soon as possible- it needs to be booked the week before)

Donation: (Optional) R280 to paypal.me/PlayingMantis

Live online pig catching in a Zoom room

Topic: How do I stay connected to presence and people when I need to make decisions and take action from moment to moment?
Date: Friday 31 May
Time:  2:30 pm – 4:00 pm
Place:  In Zoom room with ID: 2828282259
Facilitators: Petro Janse van Vuuren
Dress: Comfortable clothes you can stretch and move in
RSVP: by Wed 27 Feb to petro.jansevanvuuren@wits.ac.za

Donation: (Optional) R280 to paypal.me/PlayingMantis

More about the topic

In spite of the growing popularity of mindfulness based programmes (MBP’s) in leadership and organisation development contexts, studies have highlighted various shortcomings. Many of these relate to the seeming incompatibility between the ethical and spiritual roots of Buddhist contemplative practise and the strategic aims of the organisation and existing culture where it is to be implemented. Most notable is the inability of contemporary mindfulness practise to account for the inherent strategic, action oriented or embodied, nature of leadership. In response, many MBP’s incorporate practices draw from other fields and sources, such as Applied Improvisation (AI), allowing programmes to address the particular needs and requirements of the organisational context. AI proves to be particularly suited to the leadership context leveraging its interpersonal dimension and action oriented nature. The study argues that this action orientation, or embodied nature, of applied improvisation is inherently mindful because of its immersion in presence awareness and openness drawing on the sense of resonance between participants for the interpersonal dimension.

Come feel what such resonance is like, how to achieve it and how to use it as springboard for strategic, mindful action.

Side note: I will be presenting on this topic at the Global Improvisation Initiative Symposium in London this week. Are you coming by any change?

What does it mean to catch flying pigs? Look at this : https://prezi.com/jxgstjc_ckmx/about-pig-catching/

Whose bed can you hide under?

I was travelling home from a dinner with some friends. Zola*, my taxi driver, strikes up a conversation. Like many drivers he goes for politics. He chooses the classic opening line: “Eish, the country is going down the drain…”
“Really?” I say. This driver looks unusually concerned.
“Yes, there is racism everywhere. And they say the foreigners are taking our jobs.”
“That is not how it works,” I counter. “It is not like there are only so many jobs and only a few people can have them. In a healthy country there are enough jobs for everyone. If the country grows, the amount of jobs will grow and there will be enough for us all.”
He thinks for a while and says: “I did not think I would meet someone like you tonight.”
“What do you mean?”
“Are you not afraid to be here with the black government and the politics?”
His question reminds me of another taxi driver on another day – one who looked and talked more like me. His name was Arno. Like other drivers, he also talked politics and it was me who asked him the question: “What do you say about some politicians wanting to drive us into the ocean?”
He answered with a defiant smile: “Hulle moet maar probeer [Let them try].”
This is not my response to Zola. Instead I answer truthfully: “Yes, I am, sometimes, but…” We have stopped in front of my house by now and I wish to end the conversation on a lighter note, “… don’t worry. My friend Bheki* said I can hide under his bed when they come for me.”
Zola does not yet unlock the car doors and I see the conversation is not over. I wait patiently to hear what is on his mind.
As he unlocks the door he says: “You can come hide under my bed too.”

*All names changed

Thus and other stories at the Stellenbosch Woordfees

Seriously, though,

·         how are the tensions among races, genders and generations in your organisation?

·         will your people hide each other under their beds in a pinch?

·         want support to work through difficult conversations?

·         need help understanding one another?

We are here to support you.

1.    Book us to perform our interactive theatre piece “Trash, Boer and Brat” at your event.

2.    Book a workshop and let us help you work through sticky matters so you can get on with your job.

3.    Come train in the tools and techniques to do it yourself.

 

 

 

Triggers, curious questions, and judgement –

OD practitioners making a circle

Reflections on the IODA/Flourish conference in Stellenbosch 6-8 Sep 2017

 
I am posting this one day earlier than usual so that the conference goers who may read it can do so before they hit the bustle and business of Monday’s return to work.

  • Trust me to make mistakes
  • Trust me to make them boldly
  • Trust me to reflect on them (if I am liucky enough to spot them)
  • Trust me to say I am sorry
  • Trust me to make the same mistake again.

 

Disclaimer:

This post may trigger you, provoke some confusing feelings or cause you to judge me or some of the others in the story. I apologise if it doesn’t.

Reflections on the IODA/Flourish conference in Stellenbosch 6-8 Sep 2017

Day 1, Episode 1

It is the session before lunch. We are facilitated through a process of visioning. The method includes systems mapping and embodiment .Three quarters in, after mapping the problems concerning diversity in our organisations, we are asked to take a position that expresses our desire for the future of OD (organisation development). The large majority of people go into kumbaya mode: holding hands, or standing arms on each other’s shoulders in a circle. I don’t want to be locked into this picture, and I don’t want to be separate from the group, so I stand against the circle where people are clumping and packing themselves tight in order to get into the circle. Accross from us the circle is thin and people are reaching across furniture unable to reach each other’s hands. The woman behind me nudges me and tells me to go and help them. I say “no thank you, I like it here.” She accepts it.

We reflect on our experience and I tell my reflecting partner (call him X) how I did not want to conform and how I am very weary of being peer pressured into conformity as an answer to dealing with diversity. . He tells me to ask myself a curious question about my response. Immediately I am triggered. I feel irritated by his remark. I notice the feeling, and do not react on it.

Day 2, Episode 2

It is the last session of the day – an integration session meant to help us all reflect on our experiences of the day. It is set up as a thinking space. It starts and ends at specific times and we all sit in a circle, but there is no other structure. Anyone may speak about an experience or where they are at. I am one of three new people in the group. The others had all come to this same integration session the day before.

There is silence and a few contributions. Then one participant, call her A) reflects: “I would have liked to build on what we did yesterday, but I do not want to exclude the new people. So I am saying nothing.” One of the new people say that she came precisely because she heard yesterday was so meaningful, and did not want to derail the flow of that. I say I don’t mind if they pick up from the day before, I did not mean to intrude. Participant A responds: “I did not mean for my words to make you feel like intruders.” I smile and respond: “So, by trying not to exclude us, you made us feel like intruders?” Immediately another participant (B) cuts in: “That is your interpretation.” “Yes, I own that.” I say, and again I feel triggered in the same way as the day before.

I notice my response and sit with the feeling, stewing, while others offer more contributions. When there is another lull, I say: “May I say something uncomfortable?” Having obtained permission, I say: “I have been triggered the same way a few times now and I want to talk about it.” I explain how B’s remark irritated me. “The phrase ‘that’s your interpretation’ made me feel shut down and like my interpretation was invalid. We judge judgment with phrases like ‘that’s your opinion/interpretation as if we have a choice as humans not to judge. Judging is what humans do. I did not mean to be judgmental, though, I meant to summaries what I heard A say – yes, offer a perspective and therefore a judgment, an interpretation.’ I saw some vigorous nodding from others in the room. There were a few more remarks and the session ended.

Day 3, Episode 3

We are 5 women in a van on the way to a site visit. One from Chilli, four South Africans – two coloured, 1 black and 1 white (me). Yes, I name the races because race plays a role in every South African story. The black woman is sharing an experience in a session the day before. She tells how the presenter said in a passing remark “we all learned these things in Grade 8.” The black woman tells how she put up her hand and said that we cannot assume that everyone here did Grade 8, or that they learned the same things.”

After the session, while she was reflecting and writing in her journal, one of the white participants came to her with her ‘coachy-coachy voice” saying “My colleague and I are curious about what you said. You seem so angry. We wonder why you offered such an unproductive remark. Would you like to talk about it?”(My paraphrasing). The black woman felt irritated at the interruption and even more irritated by the sense of judgement coming from the woman. She responded that she did not want to talk about it. The women renewed her invitation saying that they are available if she changed her mind.

The next day (day3), the white women’s colleague approached her, the black women. Again she was interrupted by the white woman while she was in an engaging conversation with someone else. Again she was invited to talk and again she declined. Sitting in the van we all talked about how we use the phrase ‘I am curious” as a judgement, instead of being truly authentic and curious. We also talked about white people’s need to understand what black people mean and how they try to avoid discomfort, requiring black people not to rock the boat.

Judging is what people do. Everyone’s judgement is a valid perspective. Our judgements are informed by our experiences and they are our stories. As coaches and facilitators our job is not to judge judgement, but to accept every contribution as a contribution. We have only two kinds of curious questions that are useful:

  1. The kind you ask yourself of your own triggers. What has made me feel this way? Act this way?
  2. The kind that is genuinely interested in another’s point of view, authentically asked because you really do not know.

We cannot use curious questions to be helpful to someone else and in the process judging their judgement as being judgemental.

Graphic of White work and black work

Note to white people:

For heaven’s sake do not interrupt black people, it is rude. When you do talk to them, do not do so in order to make them explain themselves so you can understand. It is not their job to help you with your fragility. If black people always have to explain themselves and in doing so be careful not to upset you, they will never be free to voice their experience, tell their stories and air their judgements. Go and do your own questioning and reflecting, that is your work, not theirs. Also, dear white people do not try to understand everything black people say, our attempts to understand are too often renewed attempts to control. While you are at it, don’t do any of these things to anyone else. If you do, reflect, say you’re sorry and try again. You will fail often, but don’t stop trying.

Thank you to the two coloured women for enabling the space for this conversation, for your compassion and contributions in the discussion. Thank you too for your humour. Without you, it could not have been possible.

Thank you to the Chilean women for your silent witnessing and curious attention that contributed to the holding of the space.

Thank you to participants x, A, B and the black woman for helping me see clearly what I only saw vaguely before.

We are united in our brokenness.