That’s a line from The Way of the Peaceful Warrior. I was reminded of it by this post by Dominic Campbell, reflecting on his facilitation of an event last month (with long, flattering reference to me in there, shucks.)
Dom discusses my view that efforts to make meetings productive sometimes have the opposite effect.
I’ve discussed this point with Johnnie a fair amount recently, and the challenge remains how you resist trying to make something more ‘useful’ from the session, be it action plans or whatever.
Actually I’m all for useful things happening but it raises good questions about what “useful” is. An ill-mannered, fiery debate in which nothing is resolved on the day may turn out be a very useful step on a longer journey.
And there is never nothing happening. There’s always a lot going on if we make the effort to see it. That’s what Chris Corrigan means by “harvesting“.
Dom quotes Seth Godin’s advice:
“Lean in, back off, but don’t do nothing
but then try this: find a partner, sit facing each other and spend 60 seconds trying to not influence each other. More and more lately, I’m saying to myself notice more, change less as a rough and ready reminder to myself to be more present to life and less desperate to be in control.
Abstract demands for action and angry labelling of meetings as “unproductive” may also have their place in a complex world. But behind these voices there may be a desire not so much for action, but more for an end to the discomfort of uncertainty – or a badly concealed need to be in control. Can’t resist reposting this Python classic.