I’ve been facilitating workshops for decades. My first “front of the room” experience was as a Reiki master, sharing this healing modality with college students, healthcare workers, and even a few nuns. It was a huge stretch for me and deeply fulfilling.
Fast forward a few decades to my training as a life coach and workshop facilitator, I continue to experience live group teaching and learning as a gift and a challenge. “Reading” the energy of a room and trusting the process, while holding a safe space for whatever is needed or wanted, has become second nature. I don’t always get it right. The experience is humbling.
When the pandemic hit, a brand new opportunity presented itself — teaching virtually. Was I up to the task? I definitely questioned whether I had the skills to facilitate a group of 8 in a virtual classroom. As I leaned in to this new format, holding the energetic space became something elusive, foreign, and nearly impossible. I had to trust even more that participants would receive exactly what they needed. It is so different and remains a huge stretch for me. Deep breath.
At the end of a workshop series, there is an on-line evaluation form for participants to fill out for The Daring Way™ team. This informs them and me of my strengths and weaknesses. This is part of the requirement for ongoing licensing to facilitate the curriculum. For the most part, evaluations are darn good. Not perfect. And, as a recovering perfectionist, darn good was “good enough.” I want to be a model of “good enough.”. Still, there is always so much to learn.
At the end of eight weeks it’s too late for me to make adjustments to my facilitation style in a way that benefits individuals or the group as a whole. So I decided to ask for feedback upfront.
In the very first class and each week, I ask participants to please send email feedback. Specifically, if something wasn’t working for them, it would help both of us, all of us, for me to be informed. On occasion I received constructive feedback. It was always helpful and sometimes opened up a broader conversation for group discussion. If it was something I could adjust, I would. If it wasn’t, we could talk about it.
Asking for feedback is courageous. Giving feedback, face to face, or emailed, is very courageous.
At the end of my most recent virtual series, an anonymous email was forwarded to me from my licensing team — someone who had spent 8 consecutive Thursdays, 16 hours of their precious time and energy in my workshop, who detested my style and thought I had no business facilitating groups without a LOT more training and supervision.
I was HORRIFIED! My heart pounded and I began to sweat. I was in a shame storm from this hurtful email. The story* I made up was that I’m incompetent. My greatest fear. It’s true. I suck. One out of many, I rationalized, one out of so many. They’re right. I suck. Then –why do I focus on the one person in the arena who hurls criticism out of so many who benefited? Back to — who do I think I am facilitating groups or coaching at all? Then — who is this cruel person who betrayed my trust? I did ask for ongoing feedback, after all. What a fucking coward!
Rumbling* with vulnerability, shame, blame, self-compassion. Finally – acceptance.
I can’t please everyone. I’m not here to please everyone. I’m here to be me. My authenticity mantra**: “Just be yourself, dear one.”
In the end, just as Brené Brown teaches, it is not the critic who counts. This individual is not the person whose opinion matters. And, frankly, it would have mattered had they come to me that very first or second or third week to share their dissatisfaction. I can “hear” clear feedback. I can’t “hear” anonymous criticism.
*To learn what it means to rumble with your story, read Rising Strong, by Dr. Brené Brown, or attend a workshop offered by a licensed Daring Way™ facilitator. like me!
**To learn about authenticity mantras, read Daring Greatly, by Dr. Brené Brown, or attend a workshop….