Labyrinths and Leadership Laboratories


Last Friday through Sunday Brighid and I co-led the third retreat of the 2007 Cheryl’s Dreaming Big leadership program in Indiana. Our retreat kicked-off with some intense storming (literally – lots of thunder, wind and rain; and figuratively – lots of group tension and unresolved issues). I must say it was pretty exhausting and challenging to hold the space for this natural, yet difficult, phase in team development.

One thing that helped me get through it was walking through the labyrinth at the retreat center. Before entering the path, you can hold an intention or inquiry. For me it was around how can I stay with the mess of the storming phase. With every twist and turn, I questioned, “How much longer? When will this end? Where is this going?!” And then I relaxed into it and trusted that I would find my way to the center. I leaned into this insight throughout the weekend. Labyrinths are a great meditative and focusing tool. There’s this really cool portable labyrinth that I imagine would have a similar effect.

The other take-away I had from the retreat was remembering that the program we created is a great laboratory for learning and practicing leadership, not only for the participants, but for myself as a co-leader as well. Brighid kept reminding me of the lessons from an insightful book called Leadership and Self-Deception. This powerful parable reminds us to relate to people as people with hopes, dreams, needs, wants instead of objects or obstacles that our in our way. By shifting my perspective to being “out of the box” I was able to rise above the muck of the storming and group dynamics and reconnect to who these wonderful people are and what they have to offer. The other thing I kept coming back to was the idea that from the crap of group storming comes the fertilizer which nourishes the ground for a beautiful garden to grow. It’s a natural cycle.

How are you with conflict and tension? What are some ways that you move through the storming in your life? How has going through the muck helped new opportunities to blossom for you?

[tags]labyrinth, leadership, leadership and self-deception[/tags]

2 thoughts on “Labyrinths and Leadership Laboratories”

  1. i’ve never been a big fan of conflict, but i’ve become much better at dealing with it in the last couple years. reminding myself to get centered and grounded and breathing are usually very helpful in the moment.

    but it’s true, those storming times often lead to a more beautiful place! i know that in my relationships (with my fiance and family), disagreements or arguments have almost always led us to be closer after we moved through it. Isn’t it funny how that happens?

    the labyrinth sounds very centering!

  2. Jennifer, I’m sitting here reading post after post and not wanting to inundate you with comments, but loving what I’m reading! I just had to stop and say that I followed that Wikipedia link and…ohmygod…that “storming” phase? Completely sums up the dynamic of my current workplace. (And, sadly, I work at a school. Kids, teachers, parents? Great! Office staff? Dysfunction Junction) Reading that storming description made me feel a little less…crazy. 😉

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