Over my years of facilitation, I have come to realize that I’m often asking three basic questions with groups of people. Often, I ask them in the form and process that is circle. So that we can create what I like to call hearth with one another. Often, I ask them as a way to begin to hear voices that can contribute to feeling purpose and potential together. The words change sometimes. But the intent of these three questions remain the same.
Question 1: Who are you?
Sometimes this is as simple as name, geography, and role. It’s good to begin to see the group of people as an ecosystem and network. Sometimes also, this question is much bigger. Who are you in this context? Who do you wish to be in this context? Who are you when you are not in this context? Sometimes again, it is bigger than that. Who are you as in, what are you paying attention to today? Who are you as in, what is some of what you are feeling as you arrive to this group today?
Question 2: What do you care about?
Response to this question sometimes starts in the first question — it teaches me over and over that people have things that they care about. And I love it when they / we go further with that. Sometimes, I soften it so as to create a more kind starting point. What is some of what you care about? Sometimes I name more of a boundary. What is some of what you care about in the context of this group? This meeting? Sometimes again, I morph this question to welcome more feeling. What is moving your heart these days? Is there a longing that you bring to this room today? What’s common across all of these variations is bringing the energy of caring into the room. It’s welcoming the energy of passion to be visible and woven between us, guiding an important layer of ecosystem connection.
Question 3: How is that going?
Response to this question invites sharing that often begins in the second question. It’s great when it weaves even deeper. How’s it going with what you care about — this invites many layers. What are you learning? What are you learning about yourself? What are you learning about others that you attempt to collaborate with? What are you learning about the complexity, or simplicity, of the circumstance that you care about? This question welcomes witness of the most important things — how’s it going with what you care about? How’s it going with what you are giving your life energy to? How’s it going through your experience of joy? How’s it going through your experience of challenge? How’s it going through your lessons learned, wisdom gained, soulfulness encountered? How’s it going for you as a team member? How’s it going for you as a human being in quite a journey.
That’s it. I love the sense of journey that these questions bring. When I’m hosting multiple day gatherings / retreats, these questions are often the focus of the first 2-4 hours. They give us a sense of launching from the dock, of setting sail, of working our way to the harbor’s entrance, beginning to see the wider ocean before us. When I’m hosting a shorter thing, the energy is similar, but done differently. Sometimes I’ll ask for a headline. Who are you (your position here)? What is one of the things that you most care about here (one sentence please)? How would you characterize how things are going (two sentences please)?
Well, now that we have this for beginning, yup, it’s true that these same questions make for good middles, and even good ends. Because the work of showing up together — Who are you now (in these ever-changing circumstances)? — isn’t a one-time deal. It’s something to repeat. Because the work of witness together — Is something changing in what you care about (in these ever-changing circumstances)? — also isn’t a one-time deal. Because the work of learning together — How is it going with what you care about (in these rather complex ecosystem evolutions)? — also, also calls for attentive repetitive invitation.
Here’s to a simplicity in weaving people who care about what they are doing and care about how that connects and inspires with others. May there be just the right amount of sharing to make us proud and connected in our voyages.