The Grasp of Your Hand

handsThe Grasp of Your Hand

Let me not pray to be sheltered from dangers,
but to be fearless in facing them.
Let me not beg for the stilling of my pain, but
for the heart to conquer it.
Let me not crave in anxious fear to be saved,
but hope for the patience to win my freedom.
Grant me that I may not be a coward, feeling
Your mercy in my success alone; but let me find
the grasp of Your hand in my failure.

-Rabindranath Tagore

On Monday and Wednesday last week, as part of the New Mexico Municipal League’s Municipal Officials Leadership Institute (MOLI), I had the pleasure of facilitating leadership training for 10 mayors and council members from small communities around New Mexico.

On Wednesday, I presented the Poetry Table. The basic details of the activity are that each participant picks a poem that has meaning from a selection of approximately 100 poems. Each participant is invited to read the poem twice in his small group and answer a series of questions about his experience of the poem.

Dave, a mayor, picked the above poem and talked about how lonely it can be to be an elected official. The demands are non-stop and aren’t confined to ‘office’ hours. He was struggling with the city council. Citizen-allies of those council members were lined up against him. He was feeling isolated and his isolation was feeding a growing sense of doubt and defeat. His fellow mayors and council members nodded their heads. They could relate to his challenge. Continue Reading »

All Hands on Deck

On Monday and Wednesday last week, as part of the New Mexico Municipal League’s Municipal Officials Leadership Institute (MOLI), I had the pleasure of facilitating leadership training for 10 mayors and council members.

On Monday, I led the group through the Electric Maze, a creative teambuilding activity, which I described in detail in a blog post on January 16, 2011.

The basic details of the activity are that a group must find its way through a grid-like maze, which is a 6’ x 9’ carpet with squares that can beep. The path is unknown. The group must work together to cross the maze and find the non-beeping route. Communication, planning, leadership and collaboration play a big part in the success of the team.

During Monday’s experience, the group had one wheelchair bound participant, Diana. Diana volunteered to point at the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ squares. In essence, she was telling the other participants where to step and not step. Continue Reading »

We Don’t Know What Anyone is Thinking

faceFrom “Imperfection”

I am falling in love
with my imperfections
The way I never get the sink really clean,
forget to check my oil,
lose my car in parking lots,
miss appointments I have written down,
am just a little late.

I am learning to love
the small bumps on my face
the big bump of my nose,
my hairless scalp,
chipped nail polish,
toes that overlap.
Learning to love
the open-ended mystery
of not knowing why

–Elizabeth Carlson

We don’t know what anyone is thinking unless they tell us.

I can guess, but I don’t really know. This was impressed upon me again the other day when I led a teambuilding session on trust in the workplace for 30 employees from a division of a state agency in New Mexico.

In the afternoon of the two-day program, I presented my “Poetry Table” experience as a way for each employee to deepen their relationships with their peers.

For the first part of the exercise, people walked in silence and read up to 100 poems I had placed on tables, scattered around the room. The employees took an index card with them and wrote down names of poems that spoke to them. For the time being, they left the poems on the tables.

After about 20 minutes, I told them to pick the poem that spoke to them the most.

Just by looking at people, I couldn’t have guessed which poems they would write down. In fact, I have ALWAYS been wrong if I guess even if I guess with my wife or close friends.

Continue Reading »