Picture this; you are standing in front of an executive team of 18 men and two women in tracksuits in a conference room in a 6 star hotel resort. Everyone is looking at you, their faces showing everything ranging from mild curiosity to terror.
What do you do?
Could you get them to move? to play? and to, heaven forbid, even express emotion? All in the name of developing more ‘realness’ in their communication and lifting their underlying mood.
Well that kind of thing is my job with individuals and teams.
Action heroes may have tough guy jobs that involve bungees off dams and breaking into bank vaults but I have one that is just as edgy. It involves getting people to bungee into what they sometimes perceive to be very dangerous situations – their feelings.
I remember a friend who worked for Outward Bound saying that they defined adventure as an experience where perceive you are in a life and death situation.
Well the work I do is a perceived life and death situation – for rigid, old ego patterns. You know those patterns, the ones that kill joy, creativity and generative possibility, that devolve interactions to stressful battles and make for an unproductive work atmosphere.
Well getting those patterns to loosen up is an inward bound journey of adventure for teams and individuals. And it asks people to get in and get through how they are feeling. Most of us hold a fair bit of unexpressed emotion and I don’t just mean the ‘difficult’ ones such as grief or frustration, I also mean the ‘positive’ emotions like joy, enthusiasm and passion.
Many people walk into the sessions with me with faces of cardboard – fixed, set, devoid of emotion. Many are totally anaesthetized, not realizing they are living seriously ‘out of body’ experiences. Others still are nervous, perhaps thinking about what’s back in the office or worried about what the group leader or other colleagues will think of them.
And how do they leave?
Well here’s a little anecdote that demonstrates a common experience. A few years ago I worked with an executive team and Director of a division of a major bank in South Africa on a team breakaway. They all came into the session with me looking deflated with a “What now?” kind of attitude.
Seriously it only took a few warm up exercises and they were jumping so high and with such enthusiasm I thought we were going to lose a chandelier! They had so much energy to release – it was extraordinary. We went through the whole process of a biocentric session activating their vitality, then slowing down and experiencing a parasympathetic rest and recuperation segment.
Afterwards they went back to a session with some consulting psychologists they had been working with prior to my session. At the end of that session, over tea, one of the consultants demanded to know “What have you done to them?” . Apparently before my session with the team there had been lots of tension in the group and they had been in a negative and unproductive space. When they returned from my session they were relaxed, centred and calm as lambs. I just smiled and invited him to come and try a biocentric learning experience, such as Biodanza.
The workplace is a living system made up of living beings. The same way a body has an underlying mood so does a group of people. If this mood is low, there will be more stress. Offering enriched environments that are life-affirming and biocentric (life-centred) for individuals and organisations enables a shift in this underlying mood. It gives individuals and teams the possibility to live a more healthy expression. Yes it’s an adventure and takes a gutsy visionary to see the potential but really the effects speaks for themselves.
Kate Clement is a Director of the School of Biodanza that trains facilitators and is a group facilitator and coach. She works with corporate, not for profit and government organisations using the Biocentric System for Organisations. You could say she does team building and team development, really she is great at coming in at those moments when you want things to change between people and don’t know how to get there. She loves getting people to ‘rock their worlds’ for the better.