The other day I gave a team I was working with the exercise of bringing in an artifact that represented a turning point in their life. I thought that would be a good warm up to our discussion on our response to change.
On the day of the retreat just about each person said how they struggled with this exercise – even the person who had helped design the theme. That surprised me. Some said it was hard to find the object to represent the story they would tell. Some struggled with which turning point to speak about. Others felt they had none to speak of.
My guess is that sharing a story that was important to us was what was scary. It’s not always easy to reveal ourselves to others, especially something that touches at our core. Makes us vulnerable.
That morning, while the snow kept on falling outside, each person decided to take a leap of faith and told their story of change to their colleagues. With each story a new channel was opened with each person in the room. You could feel the appreciation, the respect and the warmth begin to swirl through the air as strengths and values and incredible courage shined through.
No one had to go that deep. No one had to do the exercise at all if they preferred not to. But everyone found the inner resources to do so, each in their own way.
I’m curious as to whether the exercise, introduced with words like ‘artifact’ and ‘turning point’ was what led to such deep stories? Perhaps if I’d asked for ‘objects that symbolize a change in your life, equally interesting but perhaps more superficial or guarded stories would have come out. Who knows?
My hunch is that this particular group was ready, no matter what way I introduced the exercise, to tell these stories, to reveal themselves…and to be heard. I also suspect that the pre-work we did leading up to the day helped create the readiness, the initial safety for such candidness to occur.
If anyone from that team are reading this, I’d love to get your perspective. And anyone else’s too.