Archive for July, 2015

I Need Help!

Jul 03, 2015 // No Comments » // Change Initiation | From The Inside Out



I read a beautiful story from my quiet time about the St. Olaf Choir from Northfield, Minnesota. They are renowned for making beautiful music and one reason for its excellence is the selection process. Choir members are chosen based not only on how well they sing but also on how they sound as part of the whole. Another reason is that all members agree to make the choir their first priority and commit to a rigorous rehearsal and performance schedule.

What caught my attention about this choir is what happens during rehearsals.

“Whenever members make a mistake, they raise their hand. Instead of trying to hide the blunder, they call attention to it!”

This allows the conductor to help each singer learn the difficult part, and it increases the likelihood of a flawless performance.

Last year, I was asked to help support a senior leadership team to align the team’s vision and build collaborative behaviors.

Upon diagnostic, one key contributing factor to the team’s dysfunctional state is their inability to render ‘Vulnerability-based Trust’.

When team members are genuinely transparent and honest with one another, they are able to build vulnerability-based trust. Team members who trust one another can be comfortable being open, even exposed, to one another regarding their failures, weaknesses, and fears. Vulnerability-based trust is predicated on the simple and practical idea that people who are willing to admit the truth about themselves are not going to engage in the kind of political behavior that wastes everyone’s time and energy and, more important, makes it difficult to achieve real results.

The leadership team spent quality time in the past two retreats gathered in conversational circles, created space for thoughts, ideas and shared stories about how they would help one another to take courage in being vulnerable to one another and to encourage trust within the team.

What is stopping you to raise your hand and say “I was wrong”, “I made a mistake”, “I need help” or simply “I am not sure”?

Are you brave enough to be vulnerable?

A One Foot Journey – From Mind to Heart

// No Comments » // Conversational Circles


A conversation with an experience management consultant over breakfast sometime ago after an exchange of business card…

“ConversationCircles, interesting! What is it about?”

“It’s about people having conversation in a circle…creating ‘space’ collectively and thinking together.”

“But what’s so new about meeting in a circle?”

“You are right, it’s not new. In fact, it has been around for a long long time. But we may have forgotten how to come together again.”

“You mean we don’t know ‘How’ to have conversation in circle?”

“There’s a possibility we might have forgotten ‘Why’ to have conversation in circle, and how to ‘Be’ in circle.”

“So do you think people will ‘pay’ you to teach them how to talk??”

“We hope to help people experience their conversation beyond the technological and conventional structure. The possibility of weaving collective wisdom through different experiences…”

We have not met since the last conversation.

A participant in a senior leadership role recently came up to me after the first day of a circle process to identify leadership traits her organization was looking to establish for their quantum leap into the future; to visualize how would the leaders of tomorrow be like.

“You did this on purpose, right?” She asked.

“Pardon me?” I was taken surprised by her intruding tone.

“I meant we come with certainty of how we wanted our future leaders to behave but the process seemed to have taken us on this mysterious ride to nowhere…now we are unsure about what we want.”

“How do you feel now?” I asked sensing that this might be a great opportunity for her to share openly.

“To be frank, I actually felt…good. I mean the curiosity within the group was unexpected but genuinely positive. I am actually looking forward to see how this circle thing will lead us to discover more about what we want…and need.” She shared intently with her enthused eyes.

Are you ready to take the journey from what you know to the unknown?

What if Giving is a form of Learning?

// No Comments » // Conversational Circles


A recent meeting with Ramona Pierson, CEO and Co-Founder of Declara sets me thinking about the topic on lifelong learning.

I asked:

“What if Learning is not just about receiving but giving?”

I often proudly professed I spent no less than 10% of my annual income on self-development; books, workshops/seminars, courses locally and overseas, online or live presentations. Be it for professional development and/or self-interest.

“Can you stop receiving and start giving?” a friend recently commented on my overdrive desires of self-improvement.

“What’s wrong with continuous learning when I can?” I disagreed readily.

“Nothing wrong, but I think it’s time to go out and give what you know so that in the process knowing what you might not have known…” he insisted matter-of-factly.

“But I am…” I responded in denial.

The story of Ramona (you can read it here) touches me deeply as she recounted her younger years where learning was a natural for her; from the fascination of her dad’s home experimentation (in propulsion sciences) to academic excellence (in particularly math) and athletics, she excels in them all. A horrific traffic accident almost robbed her life but left her coma for almost 18 months, she awoken blinded and many parts of her body replaced with artificial materials…She recounted how she learned to speak, moves and eat all over again.

She regained her sight some years later via a tweak in her brain.

In September 2013, she co-founded Declara – It’s a type of social network that links everyone in a company or an organization. Declara’s system learns how people interact, what types of questions they’re looking to answer, and who can best answer them.

“I have decided to devote the rest of my life giving my gift to this world where learning will never be the same again…” She professed proudly.

At the side after her formal presentation, we embraced with a hug as a mark of my respect for her perseverance, courage and above all, love.

More significantly, I went away being disturbed with this question:

“What if Giving is a form of Learning?”

Are you into lifelong learning…ehmm…giving?