Songs for the Struggling Artist


The makings of meetings
April 24, 2011, 11:13 pm
Filed under: art, business, education, theatre | Tags: ,

This is the time of year in which I go to a lot of meetings. Some of them are inspiring and energizing and sort of fun and others are tortuous and enervating.
Because of my work with the Feldenkrais method, I’ve been thinking a lot about those distinctions. What makes the easy, pleasurable meetings easy and what makes the others unpleasant and difficult?
Due to my experience with Open Space via Devoted and Disgruntled, hosted by Improbable, I have become more attentive to the gatherings where I’d like to stay and contribute and those which (if they were Open Space sessions) I’d like to use the Law of Two Feet and get up and go.
What makes the difference?
For me, it feels like it has everything to do with how light the hand on the wheel is. Assuming that everyone at the meeting has something valuable to contribute and is capable of expressing it, allowing a sort of natural evolution of things means important things can come up, or relevant tangents can emerge that might not otherwise have been on the agenda. This means there’s space for the unexpected insight or surprising idea.
When the person running the meeting is RUNNING the meeting, when they ask a question and we all answer in turn and then they ask the next question, it feels like we’re being corralled into an artificial form. It means the person in charge of the meeting is not only in charge of the MEETING but also of what gets said in the meeting and who gets heard at the meeting. It’s his or her meeting rather than a meeting of the group. I don’t like these sorts of meetings. I understand why we have them but they make me nuts.
I’d love for all meetings to be Open Space meetings, of course – but until they are – when I’m trapped in a meeting I’d leave if I were free to, I’m practicing having a meeting with myself in my own body, checking in with my rising shoulders and the shortening of my breath, watching myself grip my thighs. Or sometimes, I’m just experimenting with derailing them and taking the wheel for a second.

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