BEACHs


The days are slow here. We did a lot of different things at a leisurely pace yesterday. I even had a nap in the middle of the day. It is a different way of life.

This morning I was up about six and walked down to the corner of the building to see if I could watch the sun come up over the water. It is overcast so there was only the gentle addition of light to mark the beginning of the day. And the Roosters … If you have been to Kauai you know the roosters…

So what am I learning here? At home slowing down seems like a scary proposition. You might miss a deadline or an appointment or you won’t fit all of those family and social events into your week. Here you can do those things later … when you get home. There are new people who are smiling because they are on vacation too. There are things to do or not. There are places to see or not and there is mood enhancing weather.

I can and do stop and smell the roses or watch the sunset or the trees covered with snow at home. I love the images that nature gives us no matter where in the world we live. And I love the opportunity to slow it down this week and enjoy. Thank you. Appreciatively yours…

I am back in Princeville Kauai. The message on my phone this morning was “Welcome back to paradise” I do love it here. I think this is the fifth year now that I have been coming here to write and to play. This is the first year where I haven’t set any deadlines or routines for myself. I really have come to enjoy the place and relax.

It has been a different year for me. My one year full time contract is almost over. I have been getting up early and going to work regularly for nine months now. It has been exciting and fun and I have learned so much and met such wonderful people. I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. What it has helped me realize is the importance of down time and time away.

Running my own business and accepting shorter contracts here and there left lots of down time in the middle and I don’t thing I ever felt like I really needed a physical, mental and emotional break from it all because it was just part of who I was and what I did. This year is different somehow.

I didn’t bring my BEACHs book to finish (although the file is on my iPad) I didn’t even bring a journal to write in (although I may go and buy one). I just brought bathing suits and a smile. I will let you know how it goes.

I love this Prime number 12 from Chris McGoff.  Dynamic – changing and moving and growing and present – Incompleteness – with holes in it.  It really describes a state where contributions are welcome.  The vision or goal is incomplete.  there is enough information to see the shape of the thing but room to contribute in a meaningful way.  What that does is allows people to own it.  The contribution is the key to ownership and champions are born of ownership.  The best leaders know about ships.  Carol Steen and I, when we taught leadership at the University of Lethbridge for 10 summers, used the ship metaphor a lot.

There is a fleet of ships called leader.  Ownership is one of the most important.  People take care of what they own and once they have CHOSEN to contribute they begin to develop that sense of pride and attachment that only comes from ownership.  Leaders do not need to have all the answers.  Sometimes they just need the right questions and to provide the right kind of opportunity for their followers to contribute… to fill in the blank or the holes in the Swiss cheese which is the metaphor that McGoff uses. So a leader who strategically allows for his followers to contribute to the vision he is creating wins in two ways.  He gains the loyalty and commitment of his followers and he likely has a better product at the end.

It’s interesting that no matter what they BEACH, the dynamic incompleteness concept holds.  The difference will be in the kind of hole each perspective or DO point will want to fill.  The excellent leader leaves the right kind of holes to allow for nine kinds of contribution.

A request from a reader to explain BEACHs …

BEACHs represent to me nine sets of beliefs, expectations, assumptions, concerns and hopes that make up a culture or group of people who are seeking something in the world.  They are my sociological interpretation of George Gurdjeiff’s work from the  early 1900’s.  He was seeking truth in the cosmos and used a symbol with nine points on a circle, the Enneagram to talk about how the world works.  Scholars, astronomers, mathematicians like Pythagoras and others have also used it as a representation that explains some aspect of their work.  Psychologists in North America since the 1980’s have used it to talk about the inner workings of a human’s psyche.  Jesuits use it to identify patterns of sin and redemption.  I use it to understand human behaviour from the interaction or behavioural side of things looking at it from the perspective of the social struggler making their way through the maze of relationship with people places and events in the world.  I’m working on the book.

You can map the nine perspectives on a 3 X 3 grid.  There are three directions that people travel when interacting.  Toward, With or Away from.  You can see and sense this almost the minute they enter your line of vision or space.  There are also three Orientations they take.  Past, present or future.  You can hear this in their language.   If you put those on a 3X3 grid you see nine perspectives.  Those D.O. points placed on the Enneagram circle represent  combinations of direction and orientation.  I call these places where we stand to look at the world BEACHs.  They represent nine sets of Beliefs, Expectations, Assumptions, Concerns and Hopes: Beliefs about the world based on past experiences, Expectations for those in it, Assumptions about how things are and work, Concerns and Hopes for what’s coming next.

To briefly introduce the nine patterns or BEACHS consider this list of nine motivations from the perspective of the “social struggler” making his or her way in the world.

What they learn and how you can tell ( Direction and Orientation )

The world is ….wrong.  My job is to make it right.  I seek perfection. D. with O. present
The world is … suffering.  My job is to help.  I seek connection. D. with O. past
The world is … inefficient.  My job is to produce.  I seek success. D. toward O. past
The world is … dull.  My job is to add beauty.  I seek differentiation. D. away O. past
The world is … stupid. My job is to add wisdom.  I seek detachment. D. away O. future
The world is … dangerous.  My job is to protect.  I seek security. D. with O. future
The world is … sad.  My job is to make it joyful.  I seek excitement. D. toward O. future
The world is … weak.   My job is to add strength.  I seek power. D. toward O. present
The world is … conflicted. My job is to add calm.  I seek peace. D. away O. present

This is a very brief tip of the iceberg look at this simple yet complex view of human behaviour.  I hope it situates the idea for you.

My work on the blog lately has been to see the usefulness of the map and compass of the BEACHs as a guide through the Primes by Chris McGoff.

One more prime for this week, Prime 12 Declaration.  McGoff suggests that great leaders DECLARE what is to be.  The strength of the language is evident.  Not only do they declare what is to be but by when so that Declarations relate to outcome and are date certain.  I agree that in certain circumstances this is what great leaders do.  To be the holder of the vision and to have the crayons with which to colour the picture, and the courage to do so is essential in leadership.  People need clarity and focus so that they can be pulled toward an outcome that is date certain.

Setting intention is powerful and can move people to act.  Maybe I should be making a Declaration for the completion of the Sociology of the Enneagram book and make it date certain.  If I declare out loud and in public that I will be finished a complete draft by the end of October it gives me a target and a focus for what to do with my spare time. Hmmmm.

Sometimes it is more important to not know.   That leads to the next Prime… Dynamic incompleteness which we can talk about next time.

Remember if you know Chris McGoff please let him know you are reading about this here.  Maybe he will comment too.

Continuing my review of the Primes by Chris McGoff I found myself this week looking at number 7 – Commitment versus Attachment – which has a subtitle “Success is a state of being.”  I like the basic premise that if we attach ourselves to a result and we don’t achieve it that we run the risk of having an emotional response to the “failure”.  If we attach to the outcome then we let them determine our state.  For McGoff, Commitment has more freedom in it.  If you are committed to a way of being you can be that way no matter the results.  I get that.  Hold your plans and goals lightly and if you fall short remember the purpose and that YOU are not a failure.  Your results and your way of being ought not to be attached.  Sometimes I do think that creating a clear vision and committing to it, declaring it and acting boldly to make it real requires some emotional attachment.  it is often that emotional energy that makes the difference between setting a goal and achieving it.   I think it is important to attach yourself to a goal or a cause that you truly believe in.  Make it personal sometimes and work as hard as you can to achieve success.  I think really what McGoff is warning us about in this prime is that we think about SUCCESS a little deeper and make sure the measure of results does not necessarily equal success.  I am successful when I give it my all …  Shoot for the moon and land among the stars…. And that’s okay.  What state of being is success to you?  That will so depend on your BEACH.  BEACHs give us our perspective on the world and I believe they can be seen in our state of mind.  Identifying someone’s BEACH is easier when they are in a state…. no matter what the state is.  They may be attached or committed to outcomes and results and that is easier to see at a point where it is clear that the result is not the expected one.  You can learn a lot about WHAT someone is committed to when you can watch them fail (what ever that means).  Success and failure are both states of being and in my mind are defined nine different ways.  Being committed to outcomes keeps you working toward them and allows you to keep your perspective in the McGoff definition.  Being attached to the outcome might cause us to lose the perspective and behave in ways inconsistent with our REAL selves.

I say be mindful of what results you commit to and what you attach to.  Making the distinction gives you the freedom to choose.

So I did an Internet search for profound coaching questions and found a website for Nadine Love in Queensland Australia with some very interesting stuff on it. There was a blog on Neale Donald Walsch, one of my favorite writers. It seems that Nadine and I have more in common than a last name. I am waiting to hear from her about the origins of her LOVE. Mine of course is Scottish, an anglicized version of MacKinnon (my beloved son).

I didn’t find any profound questions from Nadine on the site to use in coaching sessions. She is a mentor for coaches and talks more about growing a coaching enterprise than about the practice itself. It appears that she uses some profound coaching techniques to help people become successful at coaching which is cool.

The profound questions were in the NDW article. He suggests that you ask yourself these question three times a day for 60 days.

Who am I?
Where am I?
Why am I who I am?
What do I intend to do about it?

I would add… What else could I be doing? Where else could I be? Before the last one, to get the creativity going.

Three times a day … At 8am, 12 noon and 8pm. For 60 days. How would that change your thinking?

I like this McGoff Prime because it adds a multidimensional aspect to all of our thinking. If you were to take the BEACH perspectives and add this dimension you will have layers of perspective that peek back to the sustainable answer to the questions of life the universe and everything. The levels begin closest to the ground with a magnifying glass. What do we see when we magnify a situations? Then it moves to the naked eye perspective. then we look at the situation from a helicopter and finally from a satellite. think of any situation you are currently dealing with . Can you SEE how telescoping your perspective in this way can give you information that would be important . The quality of your decisions can be impacted by a narrow perspective. Use this prime to remind yourself to step out of the normal way of seeing things to improve your line of sight.

There are multiple styles, types and approaches to leadership. McGoff says that great leaders master many. I like that idea. I say that each of the BEACHs is an approach to leadership that is appropriate in a given circumstance. And I believe that the best kind of decision making uses all of the perspectives represented in the BEACH circle. ( perfection, connection, success, differentiation, detachment, security, excitement, power and peace).

McGoff has a spectrum from command and control to consensus. He puts three kinds of situations on a continuum. Closer to Command and control he puts Reacting. In the middle he puts Planning and towards consensus he puts Visioning.

Leadership is situational and the better prepared you are with tools for the variety of situations you will face as a leader the more successful you can be. Mary Parker Follett talked about it in the 1920s and 30s. It is an idea that has passed the test of time.

How do you make decisions and provide leadership for your team? What strengths do you bring and what strengths do your team members bring to the decision making table? Are all of the BEACHs covered when important decisions are being made? What I know for sure is that decision that do consider the circle perspectives are sustainable… and that is important.

Today’s Prime is number 8 – Consensus.

Basically Chris Mc Goff’s Prime on consensus says that people don’t need to agree on everything.  It is not important that everyone support every initiative.  It is however important the they feel the process was fair and that their input or concerns were heard.  When Carol and I used to teach at the U of L we taught a five-finger consensus model.  If you made a fist then it was a no go and a ONE fist in a group, no matter what size meant that the project or idea had failed.  A one finger vote meant you still had reservations.  A two finger vote said you were not violently opposed but not willing to support yet.  Three fingers meant you were okay with it.  Four meant you might even help with the project and five meant you were all in.  this kind of system was very effective in having people make important decisions TOGETHER.  Not everyone is a five-finger voter but if you can agree that if everyone gets to three through open dialogue and addressing the concerns that would keep them from getting to three then you have something with enough support to move forward.  Clear definitions about what each vote means are crucial and time to deal with resistance is also crucial.

Once we moved to stop lights – one red light shut down the project.  One yellow meant more discussion and Greens where a Go sign.  The key to this idea of consensus and what makes it consensual is that “the process was explicit, rational and fair” according to Mc Goff.  Using this system people feel as if their input is heard and that they are treated well in the process and so they can live with the outcome and are committed to supporting the outcomes with their stated reservations.  Consensus does not mean everyone agrees with everything but the process allows for the reservations to be put on the table and examined BEFORE the project goes forward so that the project begins in an informed manner.  When there is no consensus building at the beginning of a project then the reservations come up “out of the blue” and people are surprised and they could jeopardize the project. So the process of building consensus is important AND you can use the PULSE Frame to do it.

What else could I be doing?  That is a question I often ask myself and one that I would encourage all of you to consider as you work your way through the lazy days of summer.

I could be doing many other things I suppose, but what I enjoy most is working with people, giving them a new perspective on old issues and moving them to a different future than they may have had if I had not asked them to consider some tough questions about themselves and their situation.  I am a question asker and I like that role.

The question today is related to Chris McGoff’s “the Primes”.  Prime 10 is called Culture.  It  states that every group divides the behaviours it will tolerate from those it will not.  So true.  Looking at culture this way makes the distinctions from one culture to another quite evident and easier to identify.  This idea will definitely help me as I continue to identify the cultures of the BEACHs.  I suspect it will help you too if you think about where you work or live and what is and is not acceptable.

In your personal culture this question becomes important.  What will you tolerate and what will you not tolerate.? I think for many the line moves as our own sense of what is right and wrong, what is ethical or not and what is acceptable to each of use is tested daily.  Our world, our environment and our limits for what we can tolerate and what we won’t define us and help us to understand why we do what we do.

What defines the limits of your personal culture, your group cultures, your family culture and where do you begin to feel uncomfortable?  Even more interesting and important to me is how does your “toleration” line shift?  What can happen to move something from tolerable to not, thus shifting your culture?  I would like to know more about that.

Things that make you go “Hmmmm….”

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