Thursday, April 25, 2013

Some difficult reflections . . .

Even though it is Thursday, a normal post day for me, I have spent the last two hours since I got home pretty much reflecting on two meetings I had today without thinking about a topic for a post.  More specifically, I am replaying them in my mind focusing on the role that I played and the message my behavior gave to the participants.  Given that, I thought I'd share some of my reflections.

The first meeting focused on updating us on the planning for a review process.  I found myself early in the meeting confronted with a ladder of inference I have about work in this area over a period of time.  I was initially able to suspend my assumptions and productively engage in the conversation.  As the conversation continued, however, we shifted into focusing on decisions that had been made, who made them, and who needed to be a part of the process.  I then found myself climbing my negative ladder and being concerned about a process that would result in replicating outcomes that we have experienced in similar processes in the past.  Concern then quickly turned to being upset.  By this time I had lost my ability to be influenced, something that I shared when one of the participants tried to pull me back into the conversation.

Some might ask why is he sharing this, it is certainly nothing to be proud of and is the kind of behavior that he   continually tells us that we need to avoid.  I do so to demonstrate the power our mental models and ladders have over our behavior and how very difficult it is at times to suspend the assumptions leading to them.  As I have shared before, I know this and teach it to others, but still struggle at times resulting in behavior such as mine today.  What I find interesting as I reflect, is that I was fully aware of the transitions I was making throughout the conversation including when I decided to be directive toward the close of the meeting.  Though aware, I still showed my anger, something that I should have not done and that would have been better for all of us in the meeting.  I'd feel better if I could say that I intentionally shared my anger for whatever reason, but that was not the case.

The second meeting with principals and central office staff was at times difficult for some, but I believe will result in positive changes for the system.  Through sharing of mental models, experiences, and private thoughts, we were able to identify some needs in the system and a possible structure to increase the level of collaboration and influence that building administrators have in major system decisions impacting their work. All in the room contributed to this outcome.

So, two opportunities to support our work that leave me with much to consider as I seek to grow in my capacity to engage in reflective conversations while balancing advocacy and inquiry and being open to be influenced.  There is much to learn and much room for me to grow.

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