Visible

Improv and I have gone another round. 

It and I never seem to encounter each other without some sort of profound learning moment on my part….By profound learning moment, I mean snot and tears on my part. Oh joy.

Improv itself seems relatively untouched by my unravelling; which, frankly, pisses me off beyond measure. It remains relaxed and absolute, generous and expansive in its purpose and process. I on the other hand, wriggle uncomfortably, muttering at Improv suspiciously, giving it the side-eye. Grudgingly knowing that there is something in it, but wishing it were altogether less tricky to be around…mostly wishing it would sod off because I tend to end up visible when I mess with it. I’m awkward around Improv, shy, clumsy, defended…yet even though it’s not an equitable or easy relationship, I can’t quite bring myself to leave it alone….

I see others dance with Improv in very different ways to my ludding side steps. It can bring them inspiration, unlock creativity, confidence, locate words or actions they forgot they had. I love watching those who are an open channel, willing and able to jump in with an idea, an experiment, I love their lightness, their playfulness, their deftness in the moment. I’m all admiration and envy…

Alex and Karen are leading a Jazz Improv session on Zoom with the Gameshift Partners. Over lockdown we’ve gathered every couple of weeks for Extended Hangouts, where we bring our stuff for each other to try. From zen doodling, to walking, to dreaming and meditation, to discussions on inclusion, climate, purpose in organisations, deep systemic change… we bring and cover a world of topics. It has been a profound thread of learning, connection and community for me for months and I love it and being part of it.

You would think Jazz Improv on Zoom would be impossible. but Alex runs the session at pace, he on piano, Karen on Sax, taking us through experiments that show how equipped we are to create in the moment, how errors and omissions create moments of possibility, how connected we can be – even at a physical or digital distance. 

These are the conversations for the here and now, right? The need to be able to respond without knowing what will happen, to take chances. To trust ourselves, to back those around us that are trying. Never has this stuff been more necessary or poignant. Part of me thinks about all my HR/ OD contacts who are heads-down, noses-pressed to the organisational sandpaper, giving themselves a hard time about having The Answer or An Answer and I wish we could find ways to give them time for some of this stuff, these conversations….

And so we work through the experiments and as ever, Improv invites me to dance and I stumble, clumsily and grumpily with it, my reluctance to embrace it the very mirror of a hundred colleagues I know…. And Alex asks for a volunteer for the last experiment and I am resolute that it won’t be bloody me… and at the exact same moment a part of me says: this the practice, step forward, challenge yourself… so I thank my resolution for keeping me safe and I grit my teeth and say Yes.

Alex says he and Karen are going to paint a musical portrait of me. My response is What In The Name Of All That Is Holy Have I Agreed To Here.

I am fear. 

I am NO. 

I am regret…. 

….I am curious.

All I have to do is sit on screen and they will play. It’s simple.

It starts with a soft sax and gentle piano chords and I am holding my body tight, feeling spotlit and stupid. I can see the other Partners on screen. I don’t know anyone well enough for this. I don’t know myself well enough for this….At first I can’t hear the music over my own internal guff, my relentless, defensive chattering…but after some moments, it reaches into me and I smile.. the musical response to the smile is bubbling little piano riffs and I start to giggle, embarrassed but I can hear something in this….and it softens again and I think I sound softer, sadder than I know myself to be… and then I know myself to be sadder and softer than perhaps I admit… and the tears slowly rise and it’s OK and awful all at once…..I have my left hand pressing onto my right shoulder, hiding my heart and I cannot move….

In the aftermath, it takes me a while to speak. Others speak and I’m grateful for the space to find my breath and my words…I’m liquid inside – my solid resolute state melted and swilling about. I will reform differently, less rigid for the rest of the day, maybe even the coming days, maybe even always…..It was a gift. An exquisite gift. One I’d recommend to anyone and everyone – sod Christmas socks or Tik Tok… buy your loved one a musical portrait….let them be bathed in notes and kindness…nothing will ever quite be the same again.

Later, Chris sends through some photos he took and a poem…I find the photos almost unbearable to look at -I’m soft and I don’t recognise myself fully….

Oh to be visible when you are so deft at hiding. What a thing.

The session was run by Alex Steele as part of the gamehift partner network. I thoroughly recommend you check them all out

On Visibility

I have an idea. Something I believe in and I want to take out into the world.

In previous blog post Connection, I started to articulate it:

And what I want? What I seek and quest for and hope for? More and better connected conversations in work-spaces. Time to talk. Use of dialogue techniques, coaching conversations, facilitated team discussions, café conversations, action learning opportunities…. All those great things where we invite people to speak up and out – where the invitation is to connect.

So I have this want… and an idea on how to fulfill that… The idea is not original, per-say –grounded in work pioneered by mentor/ friend Amanda Ridings through her Pause for Breath journey….configuring work by Nancy Kline and David Kantor.. it will include Gestalt methodologies, because I think they are useful and accessible. In my head, it’s a beautiful patchwork of models and experimental spaces inbetween for people to play with they way they talk and interact both in and out of work…

And I love this idea…. And I want to bring it into the world…..It’s called Exploring Dialogue – it’s kind of space to explore and experiment with how we interact with each other – slow time to build connections and really understand what happens to us physically, cognitively and emotionally in conversations.

For the past 2 weeks I’ve been mapping this idea. If I’m being honest, it has been languidly mooching around my brain for… I don’t know… months maybe… In my head, it’s been kind of hanging out in silk-pyjamas, eating Turkish delight , looking fabulous but with no real purpose or ambition… beautiful and fantastical.

Now I want it to get dressed, go out and earn it’s place in the world…but an idea can’t speak.. I have to do that for it… and this feels edgy.

Because for me to speak up and out, means visibility. To bring this idea into 3D  world opens the possibility that my beautiful idea is flawed… or perhaps I’m foolish…perhaps this notion is folly… Oh God. What if I’m unintelligible? and Then… what if someone steals my beautiful idea? Or trashes it?  Perhaps I’d be better keeping quiet?

James Ramsay’s recent blog on: Sharing…Have you met my baby? Resonated strongly with the concern about putting your stuff “out there”.

I remember my massive trepidation when I first blogged.. knowing I wanted to write… not knowing how that would be.. trying to control… relinquishing control in the end and just posting something that meant something to me… the terror I felt and the gratefulness to the warm twitter presence of Niall Gavin( @niallgavinuk) for cheering me into the blogosphere.

I’m reading Brene Brown’s new book : Daring Greatly.  This morning I read The start of Chapter 4 and put the book down with a quiet “Yes.”

“..as adults we realize that to live with courage, purpose and connection – to be the person whom we long to be – we must again be vulnerable. We must take off the armour, put down the weapons, show up and let ourselves be seen”

I want to show up and be seen as someone who supports better, more skilled conversations. I want to create a safe –yet-experimental spaces to work in slow time on dialogue and connection. I want fuchsiablue to be associated with something authentic, meaningful, purposeful, useful (no hanging about in pyjamas, looking lovely –we have work to do). I want that and it scares me a lot – to say it and to want it.. because it could go horribly wrong.

In the last 2 weeks I have spoken quietly to a number of people about my idea… showing up slowly.  My infinite thanks to David Goddin (@ChangeContinuum)  for 4 words, posed on 12th September at the end of a tweet : How can I help? In the time & space in-between, he has shown himself to be simply awesome.

So I have this idea…and it feels right to bring it into the world not with vast fanfares and taster sessions advertised on Linkedin… not to mail drop hundreds of people or rely on a pretty flyer where I can’t seem to articulate myself on 1 page. It feels right to show up here, on the blog, where I’ve been working to show up since April.

My aim is to run “something” on 6th December in London for a half day. And “something similar” in Edinburgh on 7th December… It’s fairly formed in my head, but I’m feeling my way into this visible space.

If you’d like to know more about Exploring Dialogue as an idea, please comment here or email me: info@fuchsiablue.com.

ps: My deepest thanks also to Martin Harvey for time, good challenge, encouragement and wisdom.. and all for the price of an Americano…