The Art of Listening in a World that can’t stop Talking

‚Momo listened to everyone and everything… even to the rain and the wind and the pine trees – and all of them spoke to her after their own fashion’

The German writer Michael Ende published one of his masterpieces Momo in 1973. Momo is a little girl of mysterious origin, living in the ruins of an amphitheater just outside an unnamed city. She came to the ruin, parentless and wearing a long, used coat. She is illiterate and can’t count, and she doesn’t know how old she is. When asked, she replies, “As far as I remember, I’ve always been around.” She will be the one leading the fight against the Grey Men who aim to steal people the time.

I would strongly recommend all children to read this book with their parents! The stor

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Erzähl mir was! StoryWork in Salzburg

storywork-ws-email-fin2

Erzähl mir was ! StoryWork in Salzburg.  

Wir sind die Geschichten, die wir über uns erzählen. Wenn wir unser Bewusstsein und Aufmerksamkeit auf das Erzählen und das Erzählte richten, gelingt es uns Persönlichkeitsentwürfe & Unternehmenskulturen zu erleben, zu reflektieren und zu gestalten.

  • Impulsabend StoryWork am 17. Sept. 2015 um 19 Uhr. Eintritt frei.
  • Ein 2-tägiges StoryCamp vom 18. bis 19. Sept. 2015
    richtet sich an alle, denen Unternehmenskultur ein Anliegen ist.
    Achtung begrenzte Teilnehmerzahl! Kosten: € 750.- (zzgl. 20% MwSt.)
    Für Buchungen bis 31. Juli € 690.- (zzgl. 20% MwSt.)

Wo? 2nd Floor, Franz-Josef-Straße 3, 5020 SALZBURG

Achtung begrenzte Teilnehmerzahl! Anmeldung hier auf der Website (siehe unten) oder über info@b-onfire.com

Inhalte des StoryCamps:
  • Teil 1: Dimensionen des Erlebens und Zuhörens
    • Deep Listening, Double Listening
    • Persönlichkeit und Führung
    • Die Kunst des Fragens
  • Teil 2: Das Aufspüren und Erzählen der eigenen Geschichte
    • Storytelling versus Re-Authoring
    • Kultur und Authentizität
    • Glaubenssätze und Transformation von Erzählmustern
  • Teil 3: Das Schaffen einer gemeinsamen Geschichte
    • Vielfalt und Community
    • Vision und Wunder
    • Unternehmenskultur gestalten

 

StoryWork goes beyond Telling

Zuhören … in unserer Kultur haben wir vor allem gelernt, mit unserem Intellekt zuzuhören. In diesem Workshop geben wir auch dem empathischen und generativen Zuhören Raum. Eine Art doppeltes Zuhören, das den impliziten Bedeutungen nachgeht, die für das Funktionieren einer Geschichte oder deren Brüche verantwortlich sind. Zuhören und fragen auf Augenhöhe, ohne zu bewerten. Fragen, das nicht der Informationsbeschaffung dient, sondern neue Erfahrungen möglich macht. Ein bewussteres Hören auf diesen Ebenen erlaubt es auch, die Stimmung einer Gruppe zu erfassen, Spannungsfelder früh zu heben und fruchtbaren Boden für co-kreatives Arbeiten zu schaffen.

In jeder Gruppe erfährt man als Einzelner den Widerspruch zwischen dem Bedürfnis und der Scheu gesehen zu werden. Ohne Vertrauensvorschuss geht gar nichts. Die Präsenz der Führungsperson setzt dabei wesentliche Akzente. Wer führen will, muss wendig sein und bereit, in unterschiedliche Geschichten einzutauchen – auch, um zu sehen, welche Seiten in uns jeweils die Führung übernehmen. Daher dreht sich die zweite Säule des Workshops rund um ‚das Erzählen der eigenen Geschichte’.

Im dritten Teil erleben wir die Vielfalt der Geschichten und wie diese zu einer kollektiven Geschichte werden, die mehr ist als der größte gemeinsame Nenner. Die Geschichte, die dabei entsteht, ist in die Zukunft geworfen, eine Vision, die sich aus der Community der Erzählenden nährt. Wir sehen uns die Widerstände an und unterscheiden, welche Elemente losgelassen, integriert und welche verändert werden müssen? So gesehen gründet Veränderung in der Begeisterung für jede einzelne Geschichte. Cells that fire together, wire together. So einfach, so kompliziert.

Sie werden:

    • Geschichten hören, erzählen und schaffen
    • Narrative Strukturen in Gruppen erforschen
    • Die kulturelle Einbettung ihrer Geschichten reflektieren
    • Situativ neue Führungsdimensionen erleben
    • An der eigenen Geschichte arbeiten
    • Neue Möglichkeiten und Handlungsmuster erfahren
    • Eine gemeinsame Vision verabschieden

Der zweitägige erfahrungsorientierte Workshop stellt Werkzeuge und Methoden bereit, um Ihre narrativen Fähigkeiten auszubilden bzw. zu vertiefen. Egal, ob Sie als Führungsperson, Berater oder Change Facilitator arbeiten, Sie werden Inspiration für einen neuen Umgang mit den Geschichten entdecken, die unserem Handeln zugrunde liegen.

Anmeldung:

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Loose track and Story your Magic out

karl may museum

On my way back from the Czech Iapop conference ‘Authentic organizations and new rules of Power’ with Julie Diamond, I booked a flight back from Dresden instead of Prague (2,5hours drive away) and it turned out to be a big gift. But one thing is creative planning, another one is to loose track … here the story …

When I arrive at the airport, after a beautiful Prague to Dresden journey, I find out that my flight  at 20.45h is canceled … aren’t these moments …. breathtaking … my first reaction is an angry non-understanding: sunday evening, how is this possible, in our days, with a company like Lufthansa, ok – Germanwings, but still, it ruins my next 24h.

Then a pragmatic more analytical voice calms me down: what is really important tomorrow … kids are still well cared, access to email possible, things can be organized differently  … annoying but not really existential. Relax.’

After two more hours of ‘meditation’ in a slow-motion queue to get the ticket rebooked …  I feel in a slightly grumpy mood surrounded by even more grumpy people … I finally get a voucher for the Radisson Blue Hotel in Dresden Radebeul. This shortly connects me to my adventure spirit: who knows, what this is for?

The adventure spirit stays only shortly … then I quickly come to the realistic conclusion that a stereotype hotel in Dresden’s suburbs at 22.30h will probably not host any more treasures. My imagination power is capitulating about such ‘non romantic facts’. I fall asleep without any further creative trace.

In the very early morning on my way back to the airport, I flirt, in a sleepy remote mode with a festival poster at the side of the street and ask the taxi driver about it. He starts to tell me that Karl May lived and was buried here in Radebeul. What? Suddenly, I am awake, I get excited, the territory now gets my full interest.

Did you know that the – in our days well known – Winnetou creator  … spent several periods in prison because of theft and fraud?! And that he behaved so well in prison that he became responsible of the jail library. Based on books and his imagination (but no real experience), he created access to at times unknown worlds like America and The Orient. He formed the famous archetypes Winnetou and Old Shatterhand and builded a strong metaphor of transformation from hate to love of opponent cultures. Thank you, Radebeul, yes, I found my treasure on this extra trip. It gives me wonderful material to reflect on my inner winnetou-old shatter hand tension and connects me back to the vision of their brotherhood.

What is ‘loosing track’ good for? In my case, the following happens: after a first ‘shock’, I start to sense, I catch stories, I do not focus anymore on the arrival, I collect narrative material, condense it, find treasures, answers, solutions … de-tours teach and remind me to connect to my intuition. They enrich my arrival!

I would love to live
Like a river flows,
Carried by the surprise
Of its own unfolding.

“Fluent” by John O’Donohue (Conamara Blues)

Julie Diamond speaks about power intelligence which means not only to learn how to deal well with power, but also to be aware of your very own superpowers. Watch a short video of Julie summarizing her new rules of power: https://youtu.be/Q-BnrR1agBo.

Next time loosing track I will remember right away (or perhaps not)…  that this is another great opportunity to further explore my very own magic!

Image: Karl-May Museum, Radebeul

 

StoryWork goes beyond Telling

How to lead, host and inspire a group through the power of narratives

StoryWork goes beyond pure storytelling. It involves listening deeply to stories that surface in the narratives of others, and the process of creating stories collaboratively. Thus, StoryWork becomes a powerful vehicle driving new forms of awareness and authenticity in leadership and collaboration.

What does listening mean for leadership and facilitation? There are different dimensions of listening. Most of the time, we focus on cognitive listening, i.e. listening with the power of our intellect. There is nothing wrong about that but we might miss out essential elements that are hidden behind the cognitive aspects of a story. There are other dimensions like empathetic and generative listening. Becoming more aware of these elements allows you to sense the mood of a group, catching tensions in an early stage and prepare the terrain for co-creative work.

In any team, individuals experience the struggle between the desire to be seen and not to be seen. The role of leaders and facilitators is essential in setting the frame. It is the authenticity of their individual story, which inspires and connects people, provides a safety net, and shows them their own identity as a human being. Those stories that facilitators and leaders tell decide about the quality and the depth of the operating space of the group. That is why all starts with telling your True Story.

The third pillar of StoryWork is creating. This is about creatively connecting with a group for crafting a collective story. Here we find out about own resistances, practice what has to be let go, what has to be retained, and what has to be transformed. The power of stories in facilitating change.
StoryWork 5StoryWork 5Storywork – the work with narratives – is an attitude, a methodology and a toolkit. It allows leaders and facilitators to create bonfire moments of authentic encountering and team engagement. StoryWork is about passionate telling, listening and co-creating.

If you are curious to explore further, have a look on the Events page of this website.

 

Mother- and/or businesshood

o-WORKING-MOTHER-facebook

Some weeks ago in an interview setting, I was asked ‘how do you manage your daily life: working on your own and having three kids?’

Honestly, that is not an easy-to-answer question, for me personally it has been a long journey. I went through different organizational models, here some milestones:

1) after giving birth to my first child,  I left my Italian working place, coming back after 6 months with a 70% Germany based assignment

2) after my second child I was about to be promoted in a group leadership position and returned with 100% which nearly resulted in a burnout and made me step back from my leadership responsibilities working 50% on a ‘smoother assignment’,

3) after my third child I wanted to do things differently and took the maximum of 2 years maternity leave … and started after one year to do projects on my own  … afterwards I came back as a 70% internal strategy adviser before I dared the big step –  a step I always dreamt of – to start my own business.

There is not One solution to the business & kids challenge, there are many … and none. Some understandings I gathered on my way:

  • to follow my heart, not outer expectations. there are so many ‘how you should do’s’ around this topic.
  • As a mother, I am not irreplaceable in caring for my kids. especially fathers, but also other well selected people can do a wonderful job and I strongly believe, kids profit from diverse teachers.
  • A educational principle does not need to be based on continuous presence or control, I like to give space to a certain self-organization and independency in my kids’ development.
  • Children are wonderful teachers in playfulness, foolishness and intuition. It is so good to give space to these parts.
  • Time and energy are so limited resources. I always ask myself, what does really matter today?

In daily life, one of my recipes is to combine structure and intuition. I am happy to have a good access to both, although I know for real mastery the wandering between them can still become more fluid. Structure creates routines which make daily life easier. But the more of the Unexpected occur, the more intuition you need. Isn’t it like all maneuvers through complex situations?

http://youtu.be/IjOJaVms0wA

Writing down my reflection about mother- and/or business hood I become aware that I often have felt limited in one or the other area by dealing with both … as if the two sides were in competition. What if they just started to collaborate ?! What could this mean in terms of real daily life?

Image source: Huffington Post, Canada, 31st of March 2013

 

 

 

TRUST or How to turn Stone into Gold

Unbenannt

Once there was a village that laid on the edge of a vast mountain range. The people who lived there were very different, but one thing they shared was …  a rumor.  The rumor was about a man living in the mountains and having the magic ability to turn stones into gold. One day a young man decided to explore this story and he left the village despite all the warnings about the dangers of the mountains and the dubiousness of the rumor that he so persistently called a story.

 After a week of wandering the young hero came to a cave-like dwelling from which a thin old man stepped out seeing him coming closer. Without hesitation, the young man asked the old: “Are you the man who can turn stones into gold?” And the old man replied unexpectedly in a very clear manner: ” Yes, I am”. The young man shyly asked further: “This is certainly a very complicated process that is impossible or difficult to learn! “” No, it is quite easy” replied the old man instead.

The young man had tried to anticipate many things: not to find the man, to despair of his secrecy or not to be able to fulfill his high demands. Now he stood in front of him and everything suddenly seemed simple. So simple, that suspicions arose in him. But now he had no other choice but to put everything on one card and to believe in his good fortune. Encouraged by the straightness of the old, the young man asked him then to reveal his big secret.

To his greatest surprise the old man did not hesitate, after he sat down, to spread the mystery before him: “First you have to look for a stone. It must be a stone that really suits you. Choose him carefully and do not hesitate to take it, once you find it. Then get up to the top of the next mountain that seems most appropriate to you and wait for the full moon. Make a fire there and one hour after midnight you throw the stone in the fire and it will turn into gold before the morning dawns. “

The young man thanked the old man many times and went along his way. He soon found the right stone and the appropriate mountain. While he was waiting for the full moon, he started to doubt. “What if I have forgotten something?” “Everything goes so easily and without obstacles. Can this really be?” With the time passing, his doubts grew and he decided to go back to the old man to ask him if he had forgotten something important.

When he comes to the cave, the old man came out greeting him as friendly as the first time. “Master,” the young man began a little embarrassed, “I have done as you have told me, and I fear to have forgotten something.” The old man listened to all details of the young man’s experience and assured him that he did everything right. The young man stayed obsessed with the fear of doing something wrong. On his way off, he stopped walking, turned around and poured his doubts into a final question:

‚Master, a very last question: is there anything I should not do at all in the full moon night?
The old man took a while watching the young man thoughtfully and gave an answer he had not wanted to give: Yes, there is something you should not do at all in this night and that is …. to think of a White Bear.’

Thanks to my friend, mountain expert and co-storyworker, Wolfgang Tonninger, for sharing this beautiful tale about ‘Turning Stone into Gold’ and reflecting it into business culture work and ‘forbidden questions’ (https://almblitz.wordpress.com ). Building on this, I focus on the question ‘how could the young man not have arrived at asking the last question?’

This brings me to the phenomena of Trust. We spent much energy in control, we want to predict the unknown, to fight the fear to be disappointed. As long as we control, we are in continuous tension. But how to get to this luxury state of Trust? The following little film shows two Cirque de Soleil acrobats in their need and excellence in trusting.

 

athleticTrust

http://omele.to/11dDuIq

To trust is not an easy, but a slow and steady process. Once we are able to trust, we can relax, we can let go and live in the very moment. Let me go further and say, trust is not only a relational phenomena. Referring to the story above, the main obstacle for the young man was not that he did not trust the old man, but that he did not trust … himself? or in magic to happen?

Trust is the relationship to the unknown. So how can we turn  ‘Fear into Trust’? When we succeed to find a meaning behind crisis or challenges, we can turn fear into trust and find the strength to go through difficult situations. Working with stories is one way to open a space for dialogue and for exploration and for sharing a deeper meaning.  That is why stories are such a powerful tool in facilitating change. They are able to transform stones into gold. Trust me!

 

The Divided Brain or Why warriors need a Vision

These days, walking from one year to the other, we are invited to digest the past and imagine the future. Imagining the future activates our right brain. As you may know, neuroscientists today do not confirm our old picture of shared brain responsibilities like the left hemisphere equals to Reason and the right to Emotion. No both are involved in both processes.

I refer to Iain McGilchrist’s animation about the Divided Brain and the Making of the Western world

Luckily there is still a division of tasks, whereas the left hemisphere is taking care of the ‘already known, a narrow sharply focused attention to detail’, the right side is opening up, broad, vigilant … it is the ‘intuitive mind’. Our society tends today to the left side, whereas a balance would be much more ideal.

As Albert Einstein said: “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.

My Swedish storyteller friend Jerk Elmen told me some years ago the following story: Iceflowers

Once upon the time, there was a small village that had forgotten all its stories. Imagine long nights in which none of the parents told ‚good night stories’ to the children. There was no celebration, no music, young couples made no plans for their future. The people were extremely bored. And they did not find anything to eat. All nourishing fruits and vegetables around the village were grasped and they had no ideas how to get new ones.

One day, an old woman who normally lived alone in the mountains, came into the village. The villagers asked the old woman for advice. She said: ‚If you get one of the Iceflowers from the very top of the highest mountain, then your village will flourish again’. The Oldest of the village sent out their strongest and bravest warrior. He climbed on the highest mountain, found the iceflower, put it carefully in his basket and climbed back down into the village.

 The whole village welcomed him already at the entrance of the village. When he opened the basket in front of all his curious neighbors  the basket was empty. A dark splash of water was the only thing reminding of the iceflower. In the silence of disappointment, a little girl said: ‚Let me go, I want to try it’. ‚You?’ answered the villagers. ‚You are just a small girl. How should you succeed in what our bravest warrior has not succeeded in?’ But they let her go and followed each of her steps with their eyes until she disappeared in the fog. It was quite late when they saw her coming back. She smiled. Again everybody came together at the entrance of the village. ‚Where is the flower’, they asked. The girl smiled and said: ‚come with me to the fireplace and I will show it to you’.

 When everyone was sitting around the fire, she started to tell her story: ‚It was extremely cold and foggy. I could not see anything. Suddenly the fog cleared up and I could see far down until the ocean. And then I noticed the flowers, the most beautiful flowers I had ever seen directly down at my feet. They shimmered like ice crystal and seemed very tender. I kneed down, sensed their smell, but they started to smelt as soon as my nose came close to them.’ The girl told about the colors  the smells and the sounds she had experienced … and when she ended her story, the whole audience could see the iceflowers and the world until the ocean. The audience felt like they had climbed up themselves and were now standing on the top oft the highest mountain. ‚Imagine…’ started a small girl. ‚Yes, imagine … ‘‚ said some others. And in this night, all of them stayed awake and told each other their dreams, wishes and visions for their future. ‚Imagine …!’

08-blick-in-die-weite

This story is a wonderful kick off to work on a Vision with a group. You may read it out surrounded with family or friends or starting back in your job with your team or colleagues. Organisations normally are well stuffed with warriors, sometimes tired warriors, sometimes they do not really understand what they are fighting for and sometimes they are just enjoying to slip in the shoes of the child … it allows playfulness, creativity and the intuitive mind entering the room.

And do we not all know ‘tired warriors’ in our busy lives? Is it not the tendency to the left brain who does not leave us enough space for dreaming, playing, seeing the big picture. Perhaps the 31st of december you go yourself on top of the highest mountain. What do you see? Dream high and bring it back to the village 2015!!!‘Imagine …!’

My warrior just whispers and wants me to mention … whenever you want my support to work on vision and its grounding, individually or in group, do not hesitate to contact me, that’s one of my jobs!

Musetime – Everybody is an artist

Learn to observe snakes.
Plant impossible gardens
Let someone dangerous in for tea.
Make small Signs that say “yes”
and spread them all over your house.
Become a friend of freedom and uncertainty.
Look forward to dreaming. Cry at the movies.
Swing as high as you can on a swing at moonlight.
Maintain different moods.
Refuse to be “responsible”. DO IT OUT OF LOVE.
Take a lot of naps.
Pass on money. Do it now.
The money will follow.
Laugh a lot. Bathe in the moonlight.
Dream wild, imaginative dreams.
Draw on the walls. Read every day.
Imagine you are enchanted.
Giggle with children. Listen to old people.
Open yourself. Dive in. Be free.
Praise Yourself. Let go of fear.
Play with everything. Preserve the child in you.
You are innocent.
Build a castle of covers
Get wet. Hug trees.
Write love letters.

Joseph Beuys
 
…. entering our house you find this poem 
it reminds us and our visitors
coming in, going ahead to create ‘muse time’
and to follow ‘joy’ as soul’s wise whispering. StB

The Stonesoup : wolf, hen and community building

steinsuppen-wolf

Once there were two travelers  Tired, hungry and cold, they arrived in a small village and asked for food and lodging. One by one, the villagers either said, they had no beds or no food to share. And so the two travellers began to build a fire in the centre of the village. Over it, they hung a cooking pot filled with water and added a simple stone. What were they up to?

The first villager came over to find out. “We are making stone soup”, said the travellers. “You will see, it is delicious! Of course, the flavour improves even more with a carrot!” “I think I might have just one carrot”, said the woman. Later someone came with a potato, and then came some beans, some milk, a bit of chicken …

soon everybody was standing around the pot sharing some of this delicious soup and the travellers had a warm place for the night. “Imagine!”, the villagers said to each other, “what wonders you can create with just a simple stone!”

This beautiful version of the stone soup is crafted by the storyteller, author and story activist Mary-Alice Arthur. One of the first written versions of this folktale is the one published in the 1720 by the French journalist Madame de Noyer ‚Soupe au Callow’.  If you want to know more about its history …

http://www.stonesoup.com/history-of-the-stone-soup-story-from-1720-to-now/

There is a slightly different version published as a beautifully illustrated (kids’ )book from Anais Vaugelade with a wolf knocking on the hen’s door. Obviously, it has a special drama effect lying in this polarized wolf-hen encountering and I will use these two characters to do some story reflection.

What does the story do? The story spontaneously resonates in three different ways with me, my activity and the professional field, I am working in:

1) the wolf – a change facilitator coming from outside

sometimes the door does not open, sometimes it opens slowly,
and you understand … you are a foreigner,
why should the villagers trust the unknown, and why the hen, the wolf,
you offer your stone, it is a ‚creative act’
you initiate cooking and invite people to contribute, Not only as an act of gentleness
Also because it makes your living
sometimes you stir and taste the soup, you start to tell a story
And then you listen …
The participants share and connect, finally, it is time for you to leave.
Do you come back? We do not know.

2 ) the hen – the change knocking at my door 2 years ago

separation after 13 years of relationship
I opened the door and let the wolf in,
in a chicken naïve, also fearful and somehow trusting way, I let change happen
feeling helplessly alone With a big decision
I supported the soup cooking although the stone was not really promising
but many ‚neighbors’ came by, contributing their ingredients
… and I have to say, the new soup smells promising

3) ‘folktale advise’ on management style

Have you noticed the highly advanced leadership style of the hen (the wolf/or both)? … hosting change, inviting team members to co-create (the soup), supporting a culture of personal engagement and community building. Very visionary, don’t you think?

It reminds me of Luc Galoppin’s Ice Hockey Metaphor and ‘where the puck is heading to and change practitioners should be already’ …

ice hockey metaphor

http://www.reply-mc.com/2013/03/18/getting-serious-about-community-development-part-3/

There are many ways to work with story and story works with us? What is the story doing with you?

B-onfire!

StoryWork at the Berlin Change Days 2014

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StoryWork is not only about telling, but listening, catching and creating stories. It is a powerful and sensitive vehicle to facilitate change. Great experience to share StoryWork at Berlin Change Days!

 

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Interview with Stephanie Boldt (.81) about StoryWork and its power to facilitate change

http://www.leadershipandchangemagazine.com/bcd/

 

Let your story work!

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