Leading the Creative Dynamic
by Sheila Barash

visit Sheila’s Learning by Heart blog

It’s 5:00 on a Friday evening. I’m sitting in the office getting ready to start work.

I think about my years of working in the corporate sector – when 5:00 came on a Friday I couldn’t get out of the office fast enough – grateful to have 2 days away from the grind.

I don’t work in the corporate sector anymore – at least not directly. Now I’m a coach and workshop leader on staff at The TAI Group and I’m getting ready to spend my weekend co-leading a workshop.

The participants are in the lobby, chatting nervously. Ellyn and I greet each one individually and then shepherd them into the room.

It’s 8:30PM. We work with each participant, getting them present, connecting them to the audience, the work is going deeper – they want to go deeper. We talk about truth and vulnerability and desire. The air in the room is charged – alive. Ellyn and I have found our sea legs and are working together as a unit – it’s seamless – sometimes it’s hard to tell where one of us leaves off and the other begins.

It’s 11:30PM and we de-brief – we ask each participant for a word or two on where they are – the responses vary, but everyone is engaged and clearly in the process.

It’s 3:00PM on Saturday. The work is dramatic. The participants are demanding more of themselves and of us – they are refusing to settle for less than what they desire – the passion is stunning. The room is vibrant with this energy…

Ellyn and I call the next participant to the stage. She stands in the spotlight – adjusting to the brightness, peering out at the audience and settles.

She begins – telling a story about an incident from her college years that had an enormous impact on her. As expected, it is lovely. We know that she writes beautifully and has wonderful stories. What we want is more of her in the storytelling.

She tells the story again, this time we focus on more energy, a little deeper connection with the audience. Again she does a good job.

I ask her if she has another, lighter story – she nods, cautiously. I place a stool in the spotlight and have her sit. Then I call the audience to move close, in a semi-circle around her.

I ask one of the men to stand behind her and massage her shoulders – then I place a man on either side of her, they each take a hand and massage. She looks a bit startled but does not protest.

Then I say, “Ok, tell your story”.

She starts slowly – perplexed at what is happening. Soon though, she shifts gears – she surrenders and the story flows through her.

The story is a hilarious saga of her getting lost while on vacation in Portugal and she has us all laughing.

She’s relaxing – the continuous massage and attention from the 3 gentlemen, the close proximity of the audience and her wry assessment of her own human foibles – she’s coming into focus.

On she goes – building and building – she’s more animated, more energetic, more open and funnier – the audience is with her all the way and she recognizes it.

Finally, she delivers the punch-line, pauses, and then throws back her head and laughs and laughs and laughs – she laughs from deep in her belly – from deep within herself. And we all laugh with her.

YES!

She stops laughing and looks at us, there’s a look of wonder on her face – almost childlike – it’s glorious.

When we de-brief, she is very present – I had joked earlier that this process was like cracking an egg – and that’s exactly what this looked like – it was as if her protective shell had cracked and, little bit by little bit, had fallen away to reveal a beautiful woman; strong and passionate and funny and loving.

She asks us how we knew – how we knew that she had spent most of her life taking care of everyone else – how we knew that she, herself, now needed some of that care. We tell her that she told us, not with words but in how she showed up in the room, how she gave feedback and support and how she interacted with everyone.

Her response is a beautiful smile.

The entire day is like this – each participant fully experiencing moments of awakening, clarity, determination, courage, success, beauty and joy.

I am humbled.

It’s 5PM on Sunday. The change is profound.

I look at the people we’ve lived with for the past three days. Bodies are relaxed and natural. Faces are wide open and radiant. Emotional bonds are shared.

We all know that what we’ve been through is extraordinary – we know that we all had a part in creating this experience.

We breathe together, and hang on just a little longer, not wanting to break the spell – and then – it’s over.

It’s 5PM on Sunday and I think to myself, “This is why I work on weekends. This is me, working weekends and…

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