Monthly Archives: April 2013

Reframing

While we’re on the topic of reframing (see last week’s post) I’d like to talk about that process in the context of leadership. Since everyone has a worldview, a belief system, a “frame” through which they see the world, it’s a good idea to invest in a reflection of how your frame influences the way you lead. For example, if you believe that people are generally self-centered and need external motivators you will look for ways to enforce boundaries, dictate appropriate behavior and control outcomes. We know that carrot/stick model from traditional educational and organizational environments. What if we reframe that belief as “a person’s capacity for creativity, exertion, compassion and wisdom is more fundamental than the forces that may dampen or distort that capacity?”

What if we shift our view of leadership from managing tangibles (people and things) to a deeper trust in basic human nature that opens up space for the creative, sometimes uncomfortable, messy process of emergent learning and action? This is a leadership issue because we influence how people show up and the direction that things will go by the way in which we frame our interactions. Our meetings. Our hallway conversations. By our invitations, by our presence, by how we open and close meetings, by the questions we ask and the physical spaces we create, we influence the process. Leadership shifts from controlling the tangibles to inviting ourselves and others to show up fully, and to express more of who we are in our working lives.

Part of what makes that messy is the fact that once there are two people together you have two frames of reference. Three people–three frames….. you can do the math. When we encounter a frame that is different we can solidify the boundary between us or suspend judgment as we learn another angle on the world. That is the beginning of true dialogue, collaboration and innovation. It’s possible that we could create a new, larger frame together.

And the truth is, each one of us only sees part of the picture.

Piano Lessons

In the third grade I started riding my bicycle up the hill to Mrs. Evans house for piano lessons.  Every week pedaling uphill I huffed and puffed my attitude toward music lessons. The piano was okay; and Mrs. Evans even had a stunning baby grand in her parlor, as opposed to the old upright with cracked ivories on which I practiced at home.  But the idea of lessons, of practice, was where I struggled. I struggled in fifth grade when I began playing the clarinet, in seventh grade when I switched to the bass clarinet, in ninth grade when I moved to the bassoon, through college where I attended on a music scholarship, and even a short stint playing contra-bassoon with the Chattanooga Symphony. I loved the music, but I hated the practice (and that’s not to say I ever did a great job of practicing).

Now, as an adult I am trying to reframe my view of the word “practice.” The most simple dictionary definition of practice is “to do repeatedly in order to acquire or polish a skill.” Since my brain works best in metaphor, I like to picture the principle of practice as a tree.

So, I’m thinking of practice as a way of living, a relationship between what I believe and how I engage in the world. What I believe- bound up in my values, experience, and desire- is represented by the roots of the tree, that anchor me into the ground (my reality). The branches are the expression of those values in my conversation and the actions that I take.  The trunk, which joins the two, is made of my individual practices and the collective practice of the people with whom I interact the most often. For me to live an intentional life, one that is aligned with my values and dreams for the future, I need to maintain a connection to my roots. Without a practice that continually reinforces that connection I am likely to live with a set of beliefs that are seldom articulated or acted upon. Practicing authentic living is something I do, as opposed to something I merely think about. Otherwise, I am left with some good ideas layered on top of the same old ways of doing things, and the perpetual frustration of wishing for, but not experiencing change.

The stronger my trunk and root system, the more healthy my branches. In other words, the more peaceful, creative, compassionate, and giving I am as I go through the day… the “me” that I want to be in this short life. That’s practicing that I can live with.

The Girl Scout Way

Troop 40072 is working on our Girl Scout Way badge. We are having a party for our last meeting so, for step 1 of the badge, the Juniors are picking a lift-your-spirits song that they’ll perform at the event.

Then we decided to plan the party. At the suggestion of one of the girls, we used the ceremony planning chart in the Junior’s Girl Guide, page 18. We planned the place, refreshments, activities, and closing. We decided to ask Girl Scout families to join in. This is something the Juniors will help the Brownies and Daisies organize.

For another badge step, Step Four, Leave a Place Better than You Found It, we chose to create a walking tour of the school. It is over 50 years old and the property used to be a farm so we thought we could pick four locations around the campus and write short pieces about them in a brochure, as the step suggests.

We closed our meeting early. It was 75 degrees out and–as anyone in the Northeast knows–it’s been a long, long winter! The girls played outside for the rest of the time.

What I’d like to know: Have you done any of the Girl Scout Way badges with your troops? Any suggestions? Pitfalls? Tips? Please share!