Inviting Others to the Mountain Experience

Many of you have been deeply impacted in one way or another by the Mountain Experience. For the majority of you it has been a life-changing event that, as I hear from many of you, you think about every day. Even if you have not attended the mountain experience, I encourage you to learn more about it and share it with your friends. In fact, we as human beings often want to share such a beneficial experience with other people that seem struggling or limited in some way as they could really use the insight that is provided by the Mountain Experience.

Encouraging or inviting someone to come can be a real challenge because we do not always have the tools or the perspective to share the Mountain Experience with another person. The opportunity most often occurs when somebody is suffering or challenged. Our typical habit when somebody else is suffering or challenged is to drop into telling, to advising, to comforting, to all sorts of different modes that do not really offer the support that someone else is needing. The most powerful way to interact with someone is through inquiry because they just want to be understood or heard.

If you find someone that seems to be struggling in some way, then you can apply inquiry with a desire to not fix them but to truly understand what is going on for them. When you do this, you will see them open up; you will see them go deeper into their awareness about what is happening to them. In that openness, if you can simply recognize the shared humanity, the shared underpinnings that we all have, and recognize what they have that you have, you will form a compassionate connection. Once you feel that connection, once you have recognized the shared humanities and struggles around life, then you can say “You know, I have felt that way personally and I still feel that way sometimes, and I did something, the Mountain Experience, that really made a big difference in how I see things and it really made it easier for me.”

Once you have shared that, you can stop, and just see if something lights up in the person with whom you are speaking. And if something does light up in them, they will usually ask you a question like, “Do you think that would help me?” At that point it is really important to only answer the question at the level at which they ask it. So, for example, if someone asks, “Do you think that could help me?”, the very best response is “I don’t know, it helped me, so maybe you should check it out- would you like me to send you a link or have someone call you?” And then it is essentially off your plate, as we here at Inquiry Method will take care of the rest.

The main thing to remember here is you should not try to fix them or say they need the Mountain Experience; it is much better to present it as an opportunity or invitation. You should convey that the mountain experience worked for you when you were dealing with similar issues, and say you hope it will do the same for them. The very best outcome is to get their permission for someone to call them, and then let us know, and we will be happy to follow up and have an initial conversation with them to see if attending the Mountain Experience would be a beneficial endeavor.

The Power of the Talking Stick

Following up on the last blog about the power of being real, I wanted to share an exercise that I give as an assignment to couples that I work with. You may have heard of it before. It’s called the talking stick exercise. The talking stick exercise is one of the most basic and fundamental and profound tools that we can use in relationships. And it goes like this: something comes up in our relationships, something we need to talk to about, and we tend to get into an argument or fight about. In other words, the situation usually tends to escalate in some way. Instead of allowing it to escalate, we should turn to the talking stick exercise. And this simply means that someone is going to be the speaker and someone is going to be the listener.

We give the speaker something to hold and this represents the fact that we are putting all of our attention on them and none on ourselves. In this exercise, whatever the subject is, we can fully hear someone out without formulating or generating our own response. And we can really understand what is going on in their insides; what they’re experiencing. So, we say to ourselves, “Alright, I’m ready to listen to this issue, whether it’s with money, with kids, whatever it is, I really want listen.” And then we have the speaker tell us anything they can possibly imagine about the issue and let them totally empty their tank about it. And then we pay close attention to what they are saying, without pushing back, without judging, without anything else, so that they get to fully get out whatever it is that is going on with them.

A great question the listener can ask at the end of the exercise is “Is there anything else you are feeling about this?” The listener can ask this multiple times to make sure the speaker has nothing left to say. Moreover, depending on our skill level, if we do not understand something, we can ask about it without pushing back. For example, this is like, “You mentioned this, and I don’t really understand what your concern is about it; can you help me understand what your concern is about that?” and go a little bit deeper. The idea is if we can allow somebody to be fully heard with no feedback, then solutions and answers and feelings of closeness and compassion will undoubtedly follow.

Once we are all completely done with this, once somebody feels like they have completely been heard and we feel like we completely understand them, we can either take a break and wait for an hour to let the conversation digest, or we might be ready to switch turns and hand the talking stick to the other person and essentially switch roles. Remember, this is not a solve-each-other’s-problems’ situation and it takes discipline to do this.

Finally, once both people have shared, it’s really helpful to give the issue some space. For instance, let the conversation sit until the next day and then continue with another talking stick conversation. You will be amazed at how the energy has shifted or at how differently you view the idea after hearing from your partner.

It’s very hard to listen to someone fully without completely understanding them. This is because we all have good will, we all have the best interest at heart, and want to ask questions. And it’s also very hard to not be moved after you yourself have been heard, because it can often be difficult to have to hear yourself out fully.

While it may be hard, once you have mastered the art of the using the talking stick, it is an incredibly profound, powerful, life-changing exercise.

The Power of Being Real

I have been aware lately, through listening to my clients and even just watching our culture, how we have been taught to protect and hide what is going on inside of us. There is this egoic aspect of ourselves that wants to project out a certain image, or face, to the world. We have been taught and think that doing this is going to give us the most control or power over life, but this is not entirely true. We end up relating to each other’s external shells, and because they do not match the inner situation, it ends up creating a lot of problems and miscommunications and misunderstandings.

I have watched a few TV shows lately, and I have just noticed how all of the problems, whether in a sitcom or a drama, do not come from people being bad or evil at heart; they come from miscommunication. Almost every show is about how things are miscommunicated and then go wrong. I have noticed this even in myself- I am very careful and precise about how I say things, but others may not be able to accurately hear and understand what I am trying to say due to their own personal filter’s and interpretations. And that’s why in Inquiry Method™ the focus is on paying particular attention to what somebody is saying—and even the energy behind it—and truly just listening to them. It is also even about getting curious about what is underneath the shell that we present to the outside world. This idea is about showing the inside on the outside.

I was just speaking with a client about her relationship with her daughter and with her mother, and every time we came back to my client’s desire to take care of one of her family members in some way, we realized her issue around this would be solved so much easier by her expressing her own inner struggle around it. So, this would be like instead of trying to fix her daughter’s problem, she could say “You know, as a mother, I am having a challenge right now because I would really like to support you right now and I do not know how, but do you have any ideas?” That is showing inner vulnerability, and it seems so simple and obvious, but it is not the thing that we say. Instead we give advice, and try to fix, and try to push our agenda on someone else, which usually just makes things more complicated.

It is just amazing how just the most obvious vulnerable thing that is going on inside of us can allows the situation to move forward. It is the same thing when I am working with couples; if we can just say the thing that is going on inside of ourselves—not so much the emotion, just whatever is happening—not only does that help someone else understand us better, but then we can also put our finger on our own problem too.

In a big-picture view, Inquiry Method™ seems so simple, yet at the same time ‘simple’ is so not what we do. Sometimes I feel bad about the fact that my work in and of itself seems so simple, yet the results are always extremely profound, which is how I know I am doing things right.

Essentially, to improve all of our relationships and interactions in life, the best thing we can do is to get our insides on the outside.

Levels of Participation

Levels of Participation is one of the principals that I discovered in my work developing Inquiry Method. In the years I have been teaching it, it has become a mainstay of what I call Inquiry Management. The Levels of Participation are a framework for understanding how people work together; they explain how people behave in relationships, the context that they participate in, and the leadership they receive. By understanding this framework we can have an impact on our own success and growth, we can influence the success and growth of our organization and we can learn to lead and be led to greater success, and ultimately satisfaction, engagement and happiness in our work.

Inquiry Method™ is the foundation on which I have built all that I have learned and discovered. I have found that it is also something that can be learned by others to have a profound impact on their ability to lead and mentor others. At the root Inquiry Method™ is simply the capacity to come to any conversation or inner challenge with openness, curiosity, and questions rather than answers. Though this may seem simple and easy, I have found that it is much more difficult that one might think. Particularly in business, but also elsewhere, we are taught to have the answers. In fact for most of our education we were given answers and required to memorize them and repeat them for tests and exams. Most of us have continued in this pattern in our professional and personal lives.

The problem is that in having the answers we stop learning and growing.

Click here for my eCourse where you will be taught the fundamentals of Levels of Participation, Inquiry Management and Inquiry Leadership.

Reducing Drama in Your Life

I recently started watching a little TV again, and discovered sitcoms. It has been interesting to watch that there is one basic premise that makes a sitcom work. Changing one dynamic of the sitcom would make it fall apart. Every piece of humor on a sitcom comes back to lack of communication; typically, it has to do with somebody not telling somebody else the truth, hiding, lying, or being unauthentic. A lot of that laughter is recognition of the ridiculousness of life. The reason we laugh is because we can recognize the feeling or difficulty ourselves.

I suspect if you look into most of the drama and difficulty in your life that it is created by the same dynamic. Where is the drama in your life? What communication would have helped to solve it? If you do not want your life to be a sitcom, what do you want it to be like? What kind of communication would support that?

Much love,

Kyle

Vulnerability: The Willingness to be Changed

There’s a lot of misunderstanding about what vulnerability is. That’s because there are many definitions; in fact, in the Inquiry Method™, we create our own definitions to make sure everyone is on the same page.

In our culture, the word “vulnerability” is often used as a synonym for “weakness”. When we have lots of emotional pain, and have not done any work to release it, and are not solid inside, vulnerability can be negative. We don’t have enough security in ourselves to be that vulnerable.

My Inquiry Method™ definition, however, has nothing to do with weakness. To me, “vulnerability” is “the willingness or ability to be changed”. It can be a huge asset in someone who is whole, healed, and grounded. For example, I am vulnerable in a conversation, because I am willing and open to being affected by what you are saying. In my groundedness, I am open to hearing feedback and being changed by it. In a grounded person, vulnerability is being able to know and share a deeper truth.

Doing the work of Inquiry allows us to approach this new level, where vulnerability is sharing instead of weakness.

Acceptance or Judgement?

The best way to work or relate with someone is from a place of acceptance. The first part to acceptance is recognizing who they are, their capacities, views, and abilities. The second is to match your communication and expectations to this. Judgement, on the other hand, is when you want someone to be different than how they are. When we are judgmental of a person, we create dissonance or tension with that person.

The way to tell if you are coming from judgement or acceptance Is simply by how what you share or interact is received. When you are totally accepting of someone, you can match your message, both the tone and content, in a way that allows them to receive it. When you are communicating from judgment however, and wanting them to be different than they are, your message, tone and content will be geared towards someone who they are not. This will create struggle, frustration, and disappointment between you and the other person. This will then lead to the other person becoming defensive, pushing back, explaining, or making excuses.

As a leader, or even as a friend, you take 100% responsibility for the response you are getting from the other person. If there is struggle, it means that you were not truly in alignment with them, did not truly see them and accept them for who they are. This is the reason the message was unable to be received, valued, and appreciated.

The process of Inquiry Method™ is to ask questions to truly understand what a person wants, as well as their fears, desires, obstacles, and issues. Once you really understand and know a person, there may be something you can offer that is helpful and supportive. It is crucial to understand that without setting the foundation for acceptance, what you share will be received with judgement, defense, disappointment, concern, anger etc. If you are not able to be in Inquiry or acceptance, the process of your development requires you to look into what you are bringing to the situation. Taking responsibility for your outcomes will be one of the most powerful engines for your growth and development.

Love,

Kyle

Conflict Into Collaboration

We all ultimately want the same things.

This is where the power of Inquiry Method is revealed.

When I talk to people in a corporation, or in a couple, or to individual clients and I start to ask the question of what is it that you really want, eventually we all end up at the same place. We all want to feel love, fulfillment, and happiness. This is what it all boils down to even though it may not look like it on the surface of things. This is why using inquiry is so important – it reveals the underlying truth.

It is in the details that we get conflicted.  What, how, when, where, why…

The conflict persists because we forget what we really want and start attaching to the details as if that is what is important.

In a conflict with your spouse about spending so much time at work, is the issue really about spending time at work?  No, it is about something else… Most likely it is about wanting to feel closer or to feel more love in the relationship.  If the love and the intimacy are there, then the issue about time goes away.

In an argument between employees about how to do things, how to do it is probably not the issue…it may be about recognition and success.  If we can create a situation where everyone feels like they are being supported in being successful, then the argument goes away, and we naturally begin to feel like working together on solutions.

If we use Inquiry Method when conflicts occur to discover what everybody wants on the deepest level we can find our common ground with one another, we can find what I call the “Want for Us,” the shared want that brings us together.  Core wants show up as fulfillment, success, happiness, joy, fun, ease, inclusion, and ultimately love.

When we all realize that we want the same thing the energy changes, and we start working in parallel to create that situation we all want.  It is in this way that we transform conflict into collaboration.  That transformation and the ability to inspire it in others will change all your relationships.

Inquiry Method Squared

In my coaching/mentoring practice, I have been working with more couples. First, for a while working individually on personal and relationship issues, but lately we have been getting to a place where to grow we must all three talk together. Then we dance between individual calls and couples calls.

This innovation has led to an additional layer of benefit and insight for everyone. While Inquiry Method is powerful on an individual level, it is even more so with relationships. What I see happening is that when we get into the conversation with both partners we begin to get not only the internal reflection of each person but now we also include “other,” the external reflection. For example, if I’m working with a coach and reporting about how my week has been and what’s been going on in my relationship, my mentor is only getting the internal report that comes in through my filters. On the other hand, if my spouse or partner comes into the conversation all of a sudden my mentor gets unfiltered information that allows them to cross reference and cross check what I’ve been telling them. This expanded view is invaluable.

When we receive the external reflection, we have even more awareness to work with. This can be experienced as seeing ourselves more clearly or conversely in seeing how our internal processes work with others judgments and projections. I love this new work because we are getting into the soup in a new way.

In every case, this process of Inquiry Method produces more alignment and more love in each and in the relationship that is so exciting to see.

This same phenomenon is in effect in Corporate Renewals; clients that have participated realize how much their internal self informs their business and the renewal is a profound reflection of what they are manifesting in the world.

What all of this tells me is how powerful our relationships and work can be as a tool for transformation when we are willing to bring inquiry to them.

Can you let the challenges in your relationship guide you to being the person who wants to emerge?

Are you willing to go through the discomfort of facing the blocks you have to honor yourself and your relationship?

Would you be willing to see what is happening in your business as a reflection of your inner world and use those awareness’s to become the person who can lead the business you want to have?

 

The 2 Essential Skills

The first step is the inquiry into the relationship with self, this inquiry is an inward journey that has vast depth and potential for contentment, creativity, and healing.

The second step, that can happen in parallel but not in isolation from the inner inquiry is into relationships, the inquiry into others. This is the outside journey, the art and science of human interactions. The more work you do on the inside prepares you to learn the external interaction.

There is satisfaction, accomplishment and joy in both inquiries, inner and outer. In my estimation there is no more fundamental expression of being human that the mastery of inner and outer inquiry, the comfort and mastery of the self-interaction, and the expression and creativity of the interaction with others.

Like any other skill in life you, all of you, can explore and develop these fundamental human capacities.