OUTLOOK ANDALUCIA - Learning while Enjoying
From the View of a Group Leader
So whats it all about, then?
For those of you for whom "Outlook training" means learning to manage your E-mails, let me enlighten you. Outlook is a personal growth course, or a "life skills" course if you prefer. It enables you to identify and overcome the barriers and limiting self-beliefs that prevent you doing what you really want in life. Some of you will have read Susan Jeffers' marvellous little book Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway, and thought, "Great ideas, if only I could put them into practice." Well, imagine a safe and trusting environment, where you can rediscover yourself and practise the skills which can change your life, and you've got a good idea of the Outlook training.
A training course is only as good as the trainer, but fortunately Outlook has Tony Wiseman. Someone who recently completed a course said Tony was "without doubt the most inspiring individual I have ever met, or will ever meet."
Thirty fearful people come into the training room and sit down; some tense, some timid, some defensive, some antagonistic. The organiser welcomes them to the course and introduces the trainer, Tony Wiseman. Some shuffling and nervous coughs. Then Tony starts to speak.
To say that Tony Wiseman is charismatic is a bit like saying that Pavarotti can sing. When Tony speaks, everybody listens. Not just listens, but understands and believes. Thirty pairs of eyes follow his every move as he paces back and forth; thirty pairs of ears are tuned to his every word; thirty minds are opened to new possibilities; and thirty hearts get ready to embrace fresh truths.
And after a few minutes, another sound begins to be heard: laughter. These people are catching on to the fact that Tony is not only a brilliant trainer - he's also one of the most entertaining speakers you're ever likely to meet. Here, life's lessons are not swallowed like a bitter pill, but breathed in with gulps of laughter.
Tony always has a new angle on things. Life is like football, he tells us. We are all Players, Coaches or Commentators. (But which are you ?)
Ever tried to avoid doing something really important, or put it off until it's too late? Yes, me too - all the time. And so have most of these people: when Tony asks for suggestions of avoidance strategies, they come up with so many that he runs out of space to write them up. Why do we all do that? Tony shows us a much better way of handling things, by relating the strange tale of the Beetle Who Couldnt Decide (and who died of starvation).
It's time for the first game (or "process" in the jargon). It's about deciding how much you can trust someone. One thing the participants have to decide is whether to be tactful or brutally honest: you can almost see them wrestling with the dilemma.
Then the participants divide into small groups. I have the job of leading one of these groups. They are understandably nervous, but with a little prompting from me, they are soon telling each other what they hope to get from the course. Like most people, they find it easier to talk to a small group than they would to the whole room.
The second day is a fun day. I spend half an hour with my group: they're beginning to unfreeze a bit now. Which is just as well, because they're about the play the game of Boy-Meets-Girl. Or rather Boy-Wants-To-Meet-Girl the Boy seems to keep finding reasons not to speak to Girl.
Ever wanted to approach someone, but held back because you're afraid of being rejected? Or pulled out from some opportunity because you're afraid you might fail? Yes, we all have - welcome to the human race. Those demon voices inside tell us we're not smart enough or good-looking enough, etc. So how should we deal with them? This process shows us how, and with Tony's commentary, it's one of the funniest sessions on the course.
Then it's games all the way, exploring things like image, creativity, and gender-conditioning. And there's a puzzle with matchsticks which tests your lateral thinking. I've seen university lecturers and company directors struggle over this one: if you think too much, you can get stuck. One of the lessons is that you often have to take action without being sure of the outcome.
The participants divide into two teams to play a strategy game. In the event, neither team finds the optimum strategy, but that doesnt matter. The game is designed to challenge our basic assumptions about winning and losing, and theres a real buzz of excitement afterwards.
We end the day with a process exploring how we acknowledge each other as people. For most of those in the room, it is a revelation. Everyone goes home with a warm glow. Could tomorrow possibly be as good as this?
I start the day with my group. No worries for me about pregnant silences: everyone has plenty to say, and with remarkable candour too. The groups re-assemble for a session where everybody can express their experience of the course and their reaction to the processes, and can ask Tony questions. Tonys feedback to some individuals is so insightful and enlightening that many people are genuinely moved.
In the next process, each participant has a one-to-one dialogue with his own chosen assistant. Ostensibly, the dialogue is about what we want and need and how we're going to get it. But there's a deeper meaning - and we try to lead our partners towards it. Afterwards, I take my partner to the tea-room and have a chat. The tea is not great, but my partner doesn't seem to mind or even notice I think she's still overwhelmed with what she's just learned about herself.
Soon, the final game of the weekend is upon us. Each person sets a future goal and identifies the barriers which might prevent him achieving it. It's rather a noisy game, but it all adds to the fun.
We're nearing the end of the course, and I meet with my group for the last time to talk about the goals that they have just set for themselves. I look around at five alert, shining faces - almost unrecognisable from the tense, cautious people I met only 48 hours earlier.
Finally, we reach the closing ceremony: a wonderful mixture of surprise, joy, tears, and celebration. The music pounds and everyone dances with huge energy. The thirty new "graduates" have made so many new friends among themselves. They hug each other and promise to keep in touch. They'll keep that promise, too, I know. How can this closeness happen in such a short space of time? I don't know, but I don't have to understand it to feel it.
Written by Ron Meldon
based on the Outlook UK Training, May 2002
Tel: +34 956 43 73 21 | Mob: +34 676 835 296 | Fax:+34 956 43 72 33 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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