Don’t Be The Hero

We all know that person who likes to make things about them, don’t we? The one who turns the spotlight on himself, even at someone else’s party. The one who can talk for hours about her favourite topic: her. I don’t want to be that kind of facilitator.

Last week I had the privilege of visiting the BC Chapter meeting of the International Association of Facilitators. Barbara Mackay led us through a thought-provoking session on The Hero’s Journey. She took the group quickly into deep territory, personally and professionally, helping us to recognize the many hero’s journeys we’ve experienced and witnessed. We discussed how facilitators can help groups on their hero’s journey. A comment by one of the other participants has stayed with me: “We need to let them be the hero.”

Facilitation means to make something easier. What a tricky balance, to make people’s difficult journey easier while still allowing them to be the heroes of their own story.

There are many possibilities open to us as we seek to be of help to a group that is struggling through challenging territory. Facilitators can provide structure, space, psychological safety, processes, reassurance, presence. We have important contributions to make that may influence the trajectory of their story. Their story.

Yet the story is also ours, isn’t it? And therein lies the rub. By accompanying a group on a journey, that journey becomes part of our narrative too. The experience of serving them becomes incorporated into who we are and how we practice. But it’s not about us. We’re a supporting actor, not the main character.

Masterful facilitation adds immense value while being almost invisible.

I am writing this on Easter Sunday (from an airport lounge, wishing my flight home had not been cancelled)! One of my pastor’s favourite sayings comes to mind: “We come to church to be reminded what’s what.” I hope this post does the same for those of us helping groups make wiser decisions faster. Here’s what’s what: the decisions are theirs to make and the victory is theirs to savour.

Do you have a group that is embarking on a hero’s journey or finds themselves in the arduous midst of one? I’d love to hear how you are making things easier for them while also letting them be the hero of their own story.

(And if you’re in the midst of a hero’s journey of your own, know you’ll emerge stronger and even more beautiful on the other side)!

One Reply to “Don’t Be The Hero”

  1. A PS to this post:

    I’ve been reading Donald Miller’s “Building a Story Brand” since yesterday (his ‘Blue Like Jazz’ is a favourite of mine, but entirely different) Check this out: “If we are tempted to position our brand as the hero because heroes are strong and capable and the centre of attention, we should take a step back. In stories, the hero is never the strongest character…The guide, not the hero, is the one with the most authority. Still, the story is rarely about the guide. The story must always be focused on the hero…” (77) Think Yoda to Luke.

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