You Have a Gold Mine Right in Front of You

July 3, 2010

Look around at the people in your organization or group or staff or team. They contain a gold mine of possibilities that you have hardly tapped.

A big pile of goldEach of us has a wealth of experience, ideas, dreams, desires, visions and possibilities. The history of organizations is to get people to fit in. You will do this, you won’t do that. Much of this has to do with the restriction of physicality.

We have learned how to “behave.” In the process, we have suppressed many of the ways that people learn, articulate, discover, react and relate. We are afraid to move out of our boxes and, therefore, will never get to the information that comes from behaving in a different way.

Look at your organization.

Are things buttoned up and buttoned down? Are you afraid to speak up? To tell the truth or to share a new idea? Do you laugh together? Share stories? Create environments that are pleasant to be in?

What if you could free up even a few new resources in your group? Your team members might flourish and want to stay with you longer. They might have ideas that you never imagined. They might bring unexpected gifts to the way your organization runs. Collaboration and cooperation might increase.

Do you want to sit on that gold mine or dig into in?

Folks doing and leading InterPlay have been exploring hidden territories of possibility for over twenty years. We have developed the tools to release these rich resources. Find out more about InterPlay classes and workshops.  

“Sucking It Up”

May 24, 2010

Male” and “corporate.” Those two words, used in a relatively narrow and traditional sense, can easily be used to describe many of the expectations we have of how we are supposed to behave in groups/organizations/workplaces even if our groups are neither “male” nor “corporate.”

When we gather, we’ll be all business. We will be prompt, we will get our work done, we will be efficient and then we’ll be on our way. We will remain buttoned up and battened down.

Actor Daniel Craig Crying (Subtly)

Actor Daniel Craig Crying (Subtly)

And if we have any experiences that fall outside the perceived realm of propriety, we will shove them aside and we won’t let on. We will suffer (or rejoice) in silence.

This is called “sucking it up.”

Now, I think it’s sometimes helpful to be able to reign in my emotional life, to control impulses, to appear calm even when I’m  nervous. But I also know that denying those experiences—pretending that they don’t exist for whatever reason—can be both harmful and unnecessary.

I also know that, in many cases, when those sorts of experiences are expressed/acknowledged/included in a group it is usually a good thing. It releases stress, it taps the power of vulnerability, it opens up territories of knowing, it connects us. It is simply honest. For the individual body it is almost always better to move through an experience rather than shunting it aside. I believe that is true for the group body as well.

Take a look at your world, though. Where does the “suck it up” principle predominate? Who sets that tone? Are there places in your life where there is room for a wider range of experience? What is that like? Which sort of situations would you prefer to be in? Which feels more whole?

If we are to have body wise organizations, we simply must acknowledge the full range of human experience—mind, body, heart, spirit. This is a central piece of body wisdom  from the InterPlay philosophy. I truly believe that if we follow this wisdom, our groups will be happier, healthier and more hopeful.

Secret Body Wisdom for Managers

April 6, 2010

It is impossible to be a good manager without a full understanding of the ways that people and groups work. You may be a whiz at banking, the law, programming or widgets, but now, as a manager, you must also know about people. In another day and age, you might have used implicit or explicit threats or intimidation to get what you want out of the folks who work for you. But there are much more effective ways to get what you want from your staff—ways that decrease both your stress and theirs, that make for organizations that hum with good will and effectiveness, that bring out the best in your staff.

If there is one bit of “body wisdom” that a manager should have at their fingertips, it is that you will get the most out of your staff if you acknowledge that each person has a full range of experience—physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual. It is better to include or at least acknowledge all parts than to exclude or ignore one or the other of them.

So, for example, it is “body-wise” to recognize that fear and anxiety are probably quite common experiences for the people you are working with. It is also body-wise to recognize that some of your folks may have internal resources for dealing with fear that may have come from spiritual tradition, personal reflection, therapy or other practices. (Might it be “body wise” to provide some training for your staff and how to deal with fear or anxiety? Yes, of course.)

It is also “body wise” to recognize that money may be a motivating factor for someone doing the job you want them to do, but that many if not most people are looking for other things as well—appreciation, satisfaction, a sense of service, pride, commitment, even community. How can you best use this body wisdom to better manage your staff?

What other “hidden resources” might your staff have? What abilities, ways of being, experiences, even body wisdom might you be overlooking by not acknowledging the wholeness of the people you manage? Wouldn’t you want to find the ways to get the best of your staff? Learn more about the many classes and workshops InterPlay offers to support body-wise connectivity.

Left Brain/Right Brain/Everybody’s Got Both

January 25, 2010

by Phil Porter

For the longest time, I wasn’t big on that left/right brain thing. Seemed a bit simplistic to me and besides, I could never remember which side did what! I had heard people debunk it and people support it, so I wasn’t sure which way to turn.

two eggs sunny-side up

This is your left brain and your right brain…sunny side up!

But recently I have recognized it as a simple way to talk about how we need to use all parts of ourselves in order to be effective both individually and in groups. We need lefty sorts of stuff—facts and data and numbers and spreadsheets and logic and plans and evaluations and PROOF! But we also need righty sorts of stuff too—intuition, connection, affirmation, vision, creativity, emotions, dreams, hope, mystery, and a bit of knowing about what to do when it seems like it is getting very, very dark.

Now maybe those functions are isolated on one side of the brain or the other, and maybe they aren’t. I don’t need neurology or physiology or psychology to know that I know something about the elements on both the left-brain and right-brain lists above.

In our schools and organizations and corporations, we seem to be just a bit obsessed with the first list—the quantifying stuff. (Some might even call it the “tyranny of the left-brainers.” Not me, of course, but some.) We’re much less sure what to do about those “qualitative” experiences. But in your group or staff, wouldn’t you want people to know how to deal with fear or disappointment or jealousy or just being stuck in ways that work better than just sweeping those uncomfortable experiences under the rug?

Where do we learn those sorts of skills—the right-brainy stuff? Turns out this training often happens in the realms of the arts and the spirit and the physical. We learn it in faith communities and through spiritual practices. We learn it by playing with the building blocks of creation: color, light, space, movement, sound, energy. We learn it by challenging our bodies through exercise or sports or other physical engagement.

Does your workplace teach you how to fully use the right side of your brain in the same way that it would commonly expect to utilize the left side? Does it call out and affirm the right-side skills that already exist in its members? Do organizations recognize the artists and spirit people amongst them that bring these gifts to the work of the whole—the person who creates ease in the group, the one who knows how to turn adversity into new directions, the ones who know how to “work well with others,” those who are appreciative or grateful and bring out the best in others, the ones who can imagine Plan E when A, B, C and D have failed?

No one living in today’s complex world can afford to ignore the importance of all parts of our experience.

Webs of Connections

January 6, 2010

by Phil Porter

We simply do better—physically, emotionally, spiritually, and intellectually—when we are connected to each other. We are healthier, happier and feel more secure. Work and play go better, relationships are smoother, and creativity flows more easily.

relationships as spokes in a wheel with us in the center.

We could see our relationships as spokes in a wheel.

And it is best if the connections work more like a web, rather than like the spokes of a wheel. I am connected to others, but those in my circle are also connected to each other. In a village, proximity would allow the slow buildup of the web of connections. But we don’t necessarily have those opportunities in our fast-paced, spread-out lives. We may work with others for years and never really get to know them very well on any other level. We are connected but the ties are wimpy and slack, too weak to really hold us up.

A web of relationships

A web of connections provides more support and security (and we still get to be the center of our own universe!)

InterPlay creates connections quickly and deeply, because it uses “sneaky deep” physical practices—simple things really, but done in a way that allows us to know each other in different ways. Each InterPlay event is a web-builder. I am always delightfully surprised when InterPlayers from different cities or even different countries know each other. I certainly can’t keep track of how and when they met! Additionally, I know that the fact that I am part of a circle that includes their connection is good for me as well.

Look around your life. What is the web of connections that will catch you when you fall? What connections could you strengthen with a little attention or intention? How might those connections make your life richer? Use the “comment” function below to share a connection that is particular powerful or important for you. That action in and of itself can help build the web.

Unlocking Body Wisdom

December 10, 2009

by Phil Porter

As individuals and groups we have resources that we are hardly tapping at all.

Why? Because as we grow up and even as adults we are taught to “behave.” In the process, we have limited our physical expression, our spiritual awareness and our emotional intelligence. Consequently we have trouble accessing certain parts of our “wisdom” for either our own good or for the good of the groups, communities or organizations in which we live and work.

an illustration of sending or minds, hearts, bodies and spirits off in all different directions

We take our experience and divide it into four neat boxes, then we store the boxes on separate shelves in warehouses in cities miles apart.

Behaving is a good thing. Learning to sit still, being quiet in a group, taking turns, not hitting—these and many others are nice skills to have. But what if we suppress parts of ourselves in the process? Parts that might help us cope, cooperate, dream or innovate. Parts that help us deal with fear, disappoint, frustration. Parts that give us joy and satisfaction or create mystery and awe. Parts that help us persevere. Parts that help us cope with difficult people or even those we care about. Parts that convince us we belong.

We have neatly packed our experience into separate boxes. Not only that, we have kept them far apart from each other. It is almost as if we have packaged them up and UPSed in all different directions.

To “unlock body wisdom” means opening up those boxes and taking a closer look at their contents. We can notice our experience, believe that it is important even if others seem to be telling us it isn’t, and pay closer attention to it. It can help us make better choices in our lives. Since a lot of people have been telling us what to do (families, teachers, religious leaders, politicians, bosses), this may be more challenging that one might think. Suppression has likely compromised our internal authority.

Unlocking body wisdom means paying attention to the fullness of our physicality. Body, mind, heart and spirit—turns out all of that stuff is physical. Not only can we bring the boxes back together, we can actually dump their contents into one big pile—a great big pile of resources to draw on when we need them.

InterPlay is a set of ideas and practices that do just that—it teaches us, in an active and creative way (that is also fun!), to notice our own information and to use it for our own good, the good of others and for the world.