Learning the Dance

Do you recall your first time? The first time you rode a bike, perhaps hit a ball, mastered a puzzle, went on a date, graduated, won an award, traveled to a foreign country. Do you remember the first time you tried to perform the critical aspects of your current job?

The first strategic planning retreat I facilitated, my client was a museum and the board had not held a planning session in years. I worked for a week preparing PowerPoint slides, agendas, and handouts. I stirred myself awake at night thinking about contingency plans. I wondered what I would do if a part of the retreat got off-track or failed? I was a nervous wreck going in the door.

I would venture to say that I could facilitate the same retreat today and would be many times more effective. The result of the client’s planning would increase many fold. I could be called on tonight to work tomorrow morning and I would sleep just fine. Why?

I have hours of practice now. I have worked with incredibly motivated organizations, dysfunctional boards, inappropriate venues, challenging agendas, and even witnessed shouting matches between attendees. I have a routine. I am constantly adjusting and tweaking my performance but I know the key steps. I have tried multiple approaches, learned the strengths and failings of each one. My best laid plans have been hijacked and the most despondent moments have turned into watershed victories. One client recently thanked me for guiding an engagement that memorable for being particularly ineffective. I asked them what had transformed for the organization since the retreat. The client told me that they never wanted to feel so helpless again. The enterprise had come to realize they were wasting time and resources. It took dead calm seas for this group to get perspective on what was important.

We all have a dance, we know our steps. The music may change but we can work our same moves with a new beat. The power of the fundamental steps is the difference between a sleepless night and the certainty of success.

What moves have you perfected?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s