I am the winding path -
I invite you to find your way.
I am the swaying grass -
I invite you to bend and not break.
It happened. The moment when I realized that I had left part of myself behind. Well, actually I left my suit case behind but it metaphorically slapped me in the face. I had packed all the stuff I needed to deliver my work yet did not bring any of the things I needed for myself. Wham!!
I’ve been going hard lately. Since September, consistently. I’ve been so focused on being in service of my clients and doing the work I love that I completely left myself behind.
“From listening comes wisdom.”
I have decided to launch a one year experiment. I am self-appointing myself as the “Listener in Residence” at Innovation Works in London. In this role, I will be gifting my time to any of the co-tenants in the community who want someone to listen to them – deeply, with focus, in a non-judgemental way and with empathetic support.
I’m called to do this because I believe that being heard is one of the most empowering things in life. To pause and be present to another human is one of the most precious gifts we can ever give.
I have noticed that when people start to speak out loud about something that may feel vulnerable, bold, risky or over the top joyful, it’s a signal of something emerging. They are getting clear on something that is wanting to shift or change; on the cusp of something really important.
I also believe that people need to be heard, not fixed. Talking things out is a way of creatively figuring things out. As we give voice to a yearning or a concern, we are already finding our way towards solutions and actions.
In coaching, there is a principle called holding a person as naturally creative, resourceful and whole. So, as I listen, I will pay attention to all the creative brilliance that lives within each person through the stories they will share.
Innovation Works and the co-tenant community is full of amazing humans with all kinds of potential. This is a community of caring, innovative, socially conscious and inspiring people. It’s also a place where people show up because they are change agents and status quo disruptors. They are wired to take risk and live boldly. That’s not always easy work. I want to support this energy with a gift I can give – my time, an open heart and two big ears for listening.
I am called to do this as a way of giving back to a community that has given me so much. Innovation Works London is just over a year old. Its culture and model of community is still evolving. In some small way I hope this experiment will model the way for the power of thoughtful listening when being in action.
How It Will Work
So, here’s the deal. I will be dedicating 15 hours per month for listening sessions. Each session is 20 minutes. I’ll be inviting people to sign up on designated “Listener in Residence” days. You come with whatever you want to share. I’ll listen. I might ask a few unfolding questions. Through the process, you’ll find your way to some new insights, awareness and intentions. Everything shared will be confidential. My greatest hope is that you leave feeling supported, understood and find some new elements of clarity that will spur you on.
Throughout the year, I’ll be blogging about the experience from the perspective of what it takes to deeply listen. I won’t be sharing any details of people’s stories. The Vegas Rule will be fully enforced.
“The quieter you become, the more you can hear.”
I fully anticipate that this will be a transformative experience. As a leadership coach, I have been trained to be a highly effective and active listener. However, I think this experiment will teach me a great deal on the power of being present and still in service of others. I can’t wait to learn deeply through the process.
So, I am pleased to invite you on the journey with me. Let the listening experiment begin!
It’s been about six months since Innovation Works London opened. It’s a co-working space dedicated to social innovation. It’s an incubator for creativity. It’s a collection of people and organizations dedicated to social purpose work. It’s an intergenerational, cross cultural and multi-sector co-working space. It’s a hub where social change ideas are birthed. It’s a place designed to create sparks from conscious collisions.
Conscious collisions? What the heck? Stay with me, you’ll get it.
I am in love with this place, the space and the people. I feel myself flourishing in this micro community of like-minded people. I am inspired by the talent and heart of the co-tenants. I am grateful for the new connections and collaboration opportunities that emerge daily.
Co-working spaces are intentionally designed to help people collide. At Innovation Works, the shared kitchen is a hub where people gather – for weekly Salad Club or Wine Down Fridays. Flex desk users sit in different spots, with different people, daily. People literally bump into each other while pondering the latest quote or poll on the chalk board. Dialogue walks are emerging as a new medium for intentional collision moments. They are invitations to walk, talk and share stories, dreams and motivations that form the root of relationships and spark ideas for new ways to collaborate.
Here's my definition of CONSCIOUS COLLISION:
The intentional act of intersecting with people with diverse talents, interests and expertise to co-create through collaboration. Collision moments are often facilitated in co-working spaces - either by chance or design.
Conscious collision moments create opportunities to talk, share, listen, ponder, be curious and learn. What might seem like random, one off conversations often lead to a series of interactions where relationships are deepened and ideas for collaboration emerge.
As I reflect on the highlights of 2016, I notice how grateful I am for the many positive collisions that I’ve experienced so far at Innovation Works. They’ve got my heart racing with joy and possibility thinking. This community represents a shift in how people work, engage and co-create. It’s fun to be in on the ground floor.
I am also deeply grateful to my dear friend Johnny Fansher who was the spark of this idea in London. I call him the birth father of this project. He was passionate about the possibility and persistent in holding the vision. He gathered people to co-create and cultivate the vision. Eventually Pillar Non Profit, the London Arts Council and London Heritage Council caught the ball and helped bring the dream to reality. Patience, sprinkled with large doses of faith, paired with gritty determination have made Innovation Works come to life.
I can’t wait to see what innovations and collaborations we’ll be celebrating this time next year that got birthed in conscious collision moments. Stay tuned.
Janet Frood is a proud founding co-tenant of Innovation Works London and part of the original dream team that helped cultivate the vision for Innovation Works London. She is the Founder of Horizon Leadership Institute and is an executive, leadership and team coach.