Would you like to see with new eyes?
I'll do my darndest to help, with 2 fresh perspectives, some maps, and some stones
As I write this, the first group of “Coaching the Uncoachable: Stone Mapping™ and You” has graduated and become alumni, infected for life by the DNA of this innovation in coaching. :-) Ahhhh….teaching this class was one of the best whole-me workouts I’ve had in a while!
And because it was such a success, I want to celebrate by stealing shamelessly from the course. You okay if I share a juicy chunk of its content here with you…?
Seeing Things Anew: 2 Perspective Shifts to Open Your Mind
Briefly, in Stone Mapping (because you don’t need to understand it fully to get the value here - I wouldn’t do that to you) we use small objects like stones to make a tangible, external map of the challenge we’re grappling with.
Here’s an example of a map:
Map #1: A “God’s eye view” of a bully (the black stone in the middle), the victim of the bully (black/white stone to the left of the bully) and …other stones representing various other people and things.
Looking at the bully on this map, can you think of one? Yikes. Sad that most of us can, but that’s an aside. The bully is represented by the large, black stone in the middle. Take it in for a second before moving on - it’s dark and heavy-looking and it dominates the map, yes? Perfect.
Then, there’s the mixed, black and white stone closest to it, which represents the person being bullied. And then the other stones show other things - these might be friends/family, school officials, crony-friends of the bully, rules that protect the bully, etc.
The details aren’t critical - what’s important is that you can see, using this external map, a complex situation at a glance. Cool, right?
There are lots of dynamics, including feelings and opinions in the map. But for now, find a way to relate to the bully, and the victim of the bully in the middle of the map - and let’s see what yoga-of-the-mind we can do with this, shall we? Starting with…
Perspective Shift #1: Looking from a different physical place.
Everyone’s familiar the “That’s a 9!” … “No, that’s a 6!” meme, which makes it a good teaching tool. Sometimes, the thing we’re looking at really is a 9, or 6, but the story teaches us that sometimes, more than one perspective can be “right.”
Here’s the thing. In this example, we physically move ourselves in order to gain a different perspective, even if only in our minds. We stand on one side of the number to see “9” and move to the other side to see the “6.”
So why is it important to engage in a different physical position to gain a fresh perspective?
Simply put, physical perspective grounds our reality. Even doctors will reject an X-ray report that only has one view; they want a minimum of two or they won’t believe what they see.
Applying this to our map of the bully, let’s try it, shall we?
This time, let’s look at the same map from an eye-level perspective . And let’s take up the physical position of the two stones in the foreground, which represent the parents of the victim. Have a look, remembering this is the same scenario, from a different physical perspective:
Map #2: An eye-level view of the parents of the victim, looking towards the bully (the large black stone). Is this perspective valuable?
I’m curious what you think. If you only looked at the first perspective, the Gods-eye-view shown in Map #1, and didn’t consider Map #2, the eye-level view of the parents, what would you have missed? What do you gain with the new physical perspective?
So you see, in this way, with the help of the stones, you get to see with a new pair of eyes. The parents’ eyes, to be exact.
The coaching upshot: there are countless different physical places you can see-from in any one situation in your life.
Think of something you’re working on, a goal, a challenge, a stuck place. What happens when you look from the ‘God’s eye view?’ What happens if you look from eye-level, like above?
In the above map, if you look at the scene from where the stone for the bully is, do your thoughts and ideas change?
In your life and work, how is your thinking stuck in a groove and where might you only see from one spot? What are you missing if that’s the case? What would be easier if you changed that?
Perspective Shift #2: Centering something different on the map.
Next, onto “de-centering” and “re-centering,” a skill I get extremely excited about. As someone who supports others, I’m guessing you’d agree that every significant conversation has something at its heart, or center. Getting people to move different things into the center of the conversation - using words alone - can take a lot of time, and it’s often a bit messy. We, being human, get mentally tired out by figuring out what to center, and then - what a bummer - we have no energy left for questions and problem solving.
Let’s look again at the map with the heavy, black stone representing the bully. In the first Map, the bully is very much at the center. What happens when we switch that out? Let’s put the victim of the bully, the black and white stone, and the two shiny stones (the parents of the victim) in the middle instead.
As a final touch, let’s put these three stones close together, in solidarity. And, because we can, let’s move the bully out to the corner:
Map #3: Decentering the bully to the bottom left, centering the victim and their parents in the middle.
Take a moment to really see Map #3. Then try these questions:
What becomes possible when we shift what’s at the center of our perspective?
What happens in your body when you look at Map #3, where the victim and family are centered, compared to looking at Map #1, where the bully is centered?
If the conversation started with Map #1, the bully in the middle, and through some questions we were able to get to Map #3 quickly, what different coaching questions do you think become available?
Go ahead and take a turn! If you have some small objects handy, perhaps office things like paperclips, pen lids, etc., you could try to replicate this map and move things around to get more of a felt sense for the perspective shifts. Or, map a specific challenge of your own.
The coaching upshot: what we ‘center’ reflects our biases. These thinking habits are usually hidden to us.
Case in point, in Black Lives Matter discussions, people of colour often point out that White and non-Black viewpoints get centered by default, and that Black, Brown, Indigenous and other non-White perspectives are marginalized, “relegated to the margins,” or kept from taking space in the center. Meanwhile, people in the dominant culture can’t even see that they are occupying the center.
This, in a nutshell, is how ‘dominant mainstream culture’ gets formed, and oppression held in place. It follows that if we want a world that includes marginalized voices, noticing what we center, and what we de-center is important.
To get even more personal, if you ever wonder if you’re over-centering yourself, try putting something else, or someone else, in the center. Hint: what kind of person tends to tirelessly center themselves no matter how much you or I try to be part of the conversation? That’s right, it’s people with narcissistic tendencies.
And… there you have the two perspective shifts for today! Of course, there are others. Zooming in for a “close-up perspective,” zooming out for a “systems perspective,” changing the unit of time you use for a “timeframe-perspective” and more. The point being…
With a little care, we can train ourselves to actively see more than one perspective.
This ‘looking from more than one set of eyes’ protects us from calcified thinking.
Calcified thinking leads far too quickly to our opinions and positions getting entrenched, and from there, we lose our ability to tolerate open dialog. Naturally, we don’t want that.
One tiny reminder: facts are different from perspectives, yes? But no matter who we are or where we come from. What our belief systems are. Where we are on the political spectrum. As humans, we have in common the ability to think. Whether we exercise the openness of our thoughts or not is ours to choose. With the above perspective shifts, I hope that my invitation to us is clear:
Let’s be humans who are open to other points of view. Be the humans who are willing to listen and understand, especially when things get more heated. Let’s commit to being humans who can see with new eyes.
Because if you’ve read this far, I know we agree. We need new eyes if we’re to see a new world get birthed. #mayitbeso #itsuptous #togetherisbetter
I hope it was useful to try on some deeper thinking about perspectives, with a little help from Stone Mapping. Quite simply, it’s the best tool I know to do the best thinking I know to do, for the times we’re in.
Your questions/comments are welcome, and thank you, as always, for reading.
#sharingiscaring #stonemapping #doonething #doingtheimpossible #peaceispossible #blacklivesmatter #coaching #leadership
As for the elephant in the room. Yes, the 30-day group > Coaching the Uncoachable: Stone Mapping and You has re-opened for registration.
The next group starts August 20, 2020. Is now a good time to come in and which one of the payment options works better?
Note: this is a beta invitation, part of the first set of stand-alone groups I’m leading online in about 5 years. More details about the course are here.
Update: we sold out in 5 days last time, so I’ve leaned in and made some extra room in the August start. Do please have a look sooner than later if you’re keen. I’d deeply love to see with new eyes together in class. <3
I loved this so much. I find stone mapping to be elegant and enlightening in a way I've not experienced with any other coaching tool I've encountered. - Stone Mapping and You Cohort 1 graduate