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  • Writer's pictureKirk Hinkleman

Observe, Observe, Observe...wait, but what are we looking for?

Updated: Apr 14, 2023

As we're into our 2nd month of NCLI 2.0, you may be asking yourself, what are we doing? The answer is nothing. Sort of. In this stage of our journey together, we're invited to simply observe. So in answering the question of "What are we doing," by saying"Nothing", what we mean is we're not doing anything new, at least, not being asked to just yet. (Disclaimer, those innovating and prototyping within your organization already, by all means, harness that energy and don't lose momentum.)

In the Observe phase of the journey, we're paying attention to what we're already doing. What do I see? What do I sense? What do I feel? Pay attention to existing patterns. Patterns of dialogue. Patterns of programming. Patterns of design. How do these patterns contribute positively or negatively to the conditions people live their lives in? In containers of service constructed with good intentions? We hope and most of us claim to have the very best of intentions. In this phase, we explore a bit deeper, try our best to lay good intentions aside, and discover what Impacts these patterns have on the lives of people, in particular the people we support and their direct supporters. These well intended containers of service design and delivery have created some difficult conditions. These conditions, if we're not aware of the impact they have on people, can and will limit their future potential. Isn't this what person centered planning and practices are all about? Helping people access their highest future potential?

In preparation for our Coaching Calls next week, we call forth one of our guiding stars, Beth Mount, who sheds light on the attention needed for us to reach toward our highest future potential. For those returning from the original NCLI, you'll remember Beth. Her energy is missed, yet is always with us. Take a look at the short clip, posted below, of Beth speaking about one of her story quilts in "Power in the Darkness". She tells the story, through her art, of the patterns observed in the work she was engaged in with young people in Harlem. These patterns create conditions for people that create heartbreak. Beth invites us to call forth the highest future potential in people and brings to the surface a level of awareness needed to move forward with this energy:

"Can we act in a way that takes into account the fact that almost everything we do can either help or hurt the condition of one's heart, one's sense of possibility, one's sense of trust, and to be with people in a place of empathy and care and compassion about the conditions that limit them, without glossing over the real heartbreak that so often defines people's daily lives."

A mentor of mine, Dalila Bothwell, brought up the notion of creating safe space in a conversation today. She prefers the phrase Brave Space. A safe space, for Dalila, feels like referring to physical or emotional safety...and we can't guarantee that type of security. We can, however, create Brave Spaces: "A Brave Space provides the conditions for us to hear how our actions, intentions aside, impact someone else." This is the invitation in the Observe phase of our path. Be open to embodying this Brave Space. Listen with an open heart, empathically. Some of what we See, Sense and Feel may make us uncomfortable, may challenge our belief system, may offer clarity. Whatever comes up, be with it, feel it, and be brave enough to Change Patterns leading to conditions of heartache, isolation, segregation and marginalization.

We'll be exploring these patterns and conditions together. Big love and light...see you next week!

~kirk and beth

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