Earlier this week, I was coaching a new client on engagement in the virtual world.
The question: How can we create connection when the digital landscape feels flat?
1. Get your clients to connect with themselves in real time.
2. Connect with them and connect them to each other.
3. Connect the ideas.
One of the largest barriers in collaborative work is a lack of presence. We expect people to be ready and pay attention. We assume they know how.
When an audience enters a theatre, they bring with them all of their lived experiences. The same happens in the classroom, the therapy room, and the boardroom. Presenters are commonly up against the history and rhetoric each person brings to the seat in which they are sitting. Without presence within the current moment, each aspect of the conversation is placed on the rhetoric they bring with them. Whatever story they are spinning continues and repeats.
In order to shift them into a new “place”, we need to shift them.
One tool for this is the BrainSpeed ball developed by Trent McEntire. Consider sending a care package to your clients or students ahead of your meeting. Take a few minutes to engage with the tool that lights up their brain AND their body. Invite them to notice and comment on how they feel. Now they are ready to receive what you have to offer.
Own the posture of “fun” and “unconventional” professional who does things like this to enhance the entire experience, to make space for real conversation, steeped in presence, and then watch the collective work deepen.
The good thing about marriage is the assembling of worlds, the meshing of experiences, tastes, and perspectives. The best thing of marriage is finding the infallible support system created upon that foundation. To the former, my other half introduced me to the comedy of Eddie Izzard. Life has not been the same since. There is not a day goes by that I don’t think of an Eddie Izzard quote from one of his stand up routines, and I’ve been a fan for 10 years now. In one of his skits, (Dressed to Kill, I believe) Eddie tells of a playground romance in which he was so dumbstruck that he failed to utter anything more impressive than, “I’ve got legs!” To the latter, in many respects, I could credit my other half as “my legs.” He’s my base, he’s my navigation system, he’s my foundation from which I can do much of what I like and certainly what I need.
Looking at this term from another view, a post-pregnant one, hey- “I’ve got legs!” And I can see them. Wow. It has been a while. I even put them to use the other day as we trekked through a nearby zoo that is more like a nature walk than a concrete pathway for animals on parade. Hello, hamstrings, I’ve missed you. I am glad I’ve found my legs again and C A N N O T wait to put them to use once cleared for rigorous exercise. I think the recovery period is worse than pregnancy in this sense. Sigh….I miss dancing.
Finally, the dance perspective: And no, I am not going to talk about extension or rotation. For years I have recognized that I’ve needed an anchor of support in the varying spheres of dance in which I participate. I’ve tended to collect mentors along my journey and I’ve reveled in the fact that my “teachers” often become even better resources of information/inspiration/perspective once my formal training with them has been “completed”. The older I get, I see that these “mentors” come in all kinds of shapes and sizes- which can be translated as ages and specialties. Considering myself as one with something to learn by these relationships, I continue to think of these artists as “mentors” when perhaps “colleagues” would be more fitting. As I’ve eased into dance education full time, I have found that having a sounding board in the form of a colleague (actually, a community of colleagues) has been essential, particularly since I keep finding myself in one-person program positions!
What is a lonely educator to do?
1. Find someone with a shared aesthetic, different strengths, and a perspective that compliments but does not copy your own.
2. Avoid a “yes man”: someone who will tell you all of your ideas are great (they aren’t always). You need an honest response or even better- someone that can ask the right questions in order to get you to dig deeper in your own view/work/intent.
3. Keep it fresh. Be social. Engage in a community together and compare notes. The more regions- geographical, intellectual, organizationally- you experience, all the better.
4. Stop, Collaborate, and Listen. (heeeheehee….) Share the listening responsibility and create collaborative projects that relate to your daily teaching life without being part of your daily life- projects if you will.
5. Filter. Know what is worth the expending of energy and what is not (this is a lot like choosing battles). Recognize when you need help or when your partner does. Do not assume your collaborator understands what you mean simply because you’ve been working together a long time. Communicate often and effectively.
6. Keep the humor. C’mon, we work in dance. Don’t get me wrong, I take Dance
V E R Y seriously. But, c’mon, we work in dance. No one will die if we don’t complete the weight shift or spiral. Find a way to remember why you enjoyed dance in the beginning and do whatever it takes to keep it. All work and no play makes Martha a very dry experience.
From that list, you can see good partnerships take work as well as a daily decision to engage. Just as in marriage, the “I do” has to occur every day, not just the wedding day. Maybe I should send a link to William and Kate?
The secret to a good marriage was whispered to me by a very sweet little Spanish woman named Olga, living in L.A.’s Koreatown, while her husband, Jorge, watered the begonias. She was delightful and he always kissed me on the lips (less delightful). And no, the secret does not appear on this list. And no, it does not revolve around activities in the bedroom. And yes, she was right.
Thanks to my current colleagues: EFP, AW, and especially SB. Thanks to my other half: SDS. And thanks to my past mentors and colleagues, of which there are too many to mention by name.