Posts Tagged ‘precision questioning’

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Beginner’s Mind

January 5, 2012

One of the most prominent books on Buddhism in America is Shunryu Suzuki’s Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind¬†(1970). At the risk of oversimplifying, the idea is that the beginner takes to a practice with a freshness and openness that can dim with experience. While I still enjoy going to baseball games, I have never felt the thrill I experienced the first time I saw the green green grass under the lights of Fenway Park, now 40 years ago. Suzuki gave the talks that became the book in part to help his budding Bay Area Zen community maintain their beginners’ minds as they learned to meditate.

I have now taught Precision Questioning+Answering over 200 times. Not only is it easy for me to forget what it is like to teach it a first time, it is even more challenging to imagine what it might be like to take the workshop for the first time. Last year I had two learning experiences which helped me re-experience beginner’s mind. In March I took Powerful, Persuasive Speaking from my friend, outstanding trainer, and philorator extraordinaire ¬†Alan Hoffler. I entered the training figuring I had some polishing up to do, but quickly discovered that I was much more mediocre at speaking than I’d estimated. I found myself suppressing the desire to dismiss the lessons of PPS as superfluous or tangential to my own teaching–the ego is powerful, and mine was not prepared to have its limitations exposed. But the beginner’s mind is a humble mind, without pretense, and I quickly swallowed my pride and opened up to the possibility that I could become a much better presenter if I was willing to try the techniques taught in PPS. There was some pain in acknowledging my shortcomings, but once I set aside my ego the growth was astounding. The comments, written and verbal, about the quality of my presentations since I took PPS, are the highest and most frequent of my career.

In November I was browsing at Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill when I stumbled upon ChiRunning by Danny Meyer. My travel schedule was making it hard for me to keep up with my over-40 pickup soccer group, and I had been thinking I needed to start to run more regularly, so discovering this book felt like the universe tapping me on the shoulder. ChiRunning applies tai chi principles to running, easing punishment on the body and making running an activity of both joy and focus. At the ChiRunning website I found a half-day workshop being taught in Raleigh Thanksgiving weekend, and I figured it would be a way to get quick feedback on applying the ChiRunning methods. But learning them required substantial changes; it was like learning to run all over again. Enter beginner’s mind: standing with a group of strangers, listening to our patient and kind instructor, Pat Reichenbach, and trying to run like I’d never run before, all required me to again put aside my ego, admit I was not very good at something, and then start getting better at it. I’ve been running this way for almost two months now, and while I know my form is not perfect, it is starting to feel more natural. Each run feels like it’s new still, which has invigorated my practice. I am really enjoying running, and hope a beginner’s mind will guide me each time.

It is not hard to admit I’m not good at quantum mechanics or the viola–most of us aren’t. But to admit I am not good at speaking or running is to acknowledge I have deficits in things we are all supposed to have a basic competence at. When I stand in front of a room of new PQ’ers, some of them might not want to admit they are not as good at asking or answering questions as they could be. My own experiences with

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Tired but Happy in Miami

May 30, 2008

I can't believe I've almost let the month go without a post. I will write more on the weekend. For now I will only say that I have been in Miami for two days, certifying a candidate for our workshop, and working with him to prepare to teach a half-day version of our workshop tomorrow. Cesar is not only a sound trainer but good company and a generous host. In between work sessions I have been treated to Cuban, Colombian, and Argentinian food. All of it most excellent. Lots of firsts, including first mojito, first Sangria (since college anyway), first fried plantains (wow!), and tonight first strip steak Argentinian style. Muy bueno indeed.

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Vervago Quarterly Meeting

January 15, 2008

Team Vervago gathered in San Diego for the weekend. Our major task was to create a schedule for rolling out our revised Precision Questioning workshop. We have been working on this for a while, so our Internal team thought we should commemorate the occasion by creating coffee cups claiming we "Never Can Say Good-bye" to this project. Truth is, the revision is fantastic and we are all excited to start sharing it with both current clients and future prospects. The final round of tests starts Thursday at Dell, and by the time we have our next quarterly meeting we will have polished the slide deck, print materials, and video used in the workshop. The results so far are really promising.

We also took a break down in the harbor, touring the bay at sunset on Friday.

Monica Dennis Wendy set sailLee on boardFelix and Steph get their sea legs

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