It was quite a rush! Taken from the vernacular of youth … an adventure, downhill skiing, ziplining across the ledge … as I have found any journey into the unknown to be when surrounded by colleagues sharing the path and facilitated by an experienced and gracious guide.
The blog posts give a sense of the progression as we are moving through the “systems approach” and learning about the various elements. Fortunately, our Professor enabled us to be candid in our response to the materials and not just feeding back textbook rhetoric. This was a little scary and exciting at the same time because my first post was almost an expose on my innermost thoughts.
First impressions: “It is rather exciting to discover where all the influence about the importance of “groups” and “teams” has been coming from. I feel like this first chapter has been a revelation about the birth process.” and not to skip around too much, ” I would like to suggest a possibility that the strength and achievements having been obtained by groups heretofore and being cited as the basis for such group success has been a direct result of the strength of the individualism within those groups.”
Having settled down a little, accepting the obvious, and thus begins the exploration: Did you know there was a thinking style? “For me, it’s simply exciting to think there might actually be a way to improve a group, but even more so that we don’t have to accept them as is and endure. It was especially comforting to have qualified researchers cite studies that explained conduct that I have been subjected to on too many occasions thinking how was such a group even possible?”
The class interactions and group work begin to bring about a different perspective: Do we all need to belong, or do we just want to be included? As we progress through our prejudices, it can be helpful to learn a little more about what others mean by cultural diversity and how they perceive it. “Cultural diversity in the workplace offers more challenges than benefits without an understanding about how to harness it in the service of collegiality, civility, and productivity.”
And just as a fail-safe would do, we discover that people can be hiding in plain sight: Does anonymity have hidden value? This post will provide you with just enough conflict to enjoy the process: “I was delighted when after the various assessments, the experts came to almost the same conclusion I held which was that to deny the group its function was to withhold a real learning curve for those who felt challenged and more importantly, the enormous dynamic of a group activity was being thwarted by anonymity.”
Having cleared the first hurdle of the project on observation, we are then asked to deep dive again, only from a different viewpoint, and thus, Radical Revision: What we see. And here we are again – perspectives running amok! “My purpose in creating a focus about inference was that it struck me how easily we are influenced by stereotypes and how we interpret individual behavior based on our own experiences.”
Beginning our second project of building a community project, tests the nerves and skills we have been tentatively learning, the so-called “real world” example only we are living it: How do we discover what’s important about leadership? My opening quote is an invention to provoke a response; however, my response is not as provocative: Even with a title of “. . . Decision-making . . . we are plunged immediately into a myriad of group problem-solving techniques. Are they effective?” And here is my heart-felt answer throughout: “Undoubtedly and amazingly so.”
And for each of us in our group, and I suspect in our class, too, we are asked this question: Are leaders born or made? And there was nothing easy about this … “. . . recent research suggests that power reduces the ability to understand how others see, think, and feel.” And it’s not always about the tyrant or dictator misfiring, it can also be the parent in us that loses touch and feels compelled to overemphasize a lesson.
Then comes the real test, as we take a closer look at the form our creativity is taking by asking ourselves, What is your emotional competency? Is this related to IQ? Well, it had to get lighter as we moved through the processes, but sure enough, you can sharpen your instincts on this one because “If life is a tender box, emotional competency is what brings it under control and provides the lens for viewing not just one thing, but everything.”
Free at last. This last focus on self-directed work teams hit home with me in a deeply personal way and carried me forward into a large room of thought, such as “The freeing up of human creativity was such a powerful demand that a nation was formed and a constitution created to give a platform for just that …”
Have I come a different way than most? Certainly! But that could also be said for everyone of us on this journey of life. I am blessed having been afforded opportunities to interact with people from all over, with diverse backgrounds, cultural bias, and different goals and visions for equally important futures. Yet, somehow, we are all influenced by kindness and are seeking ways of positive self-expression. There was no dust gathering among us, instead, it was a shared adventure and one I would not have missed for the world: from beginning to end!