July 2, 2015 – A two year anniversary of the Global Leadership Café. Once again we had come together in an open and safe place to share and co-create. We began with a brief overview of the themes of the nine previous cafes, such as Freedom to Fail, Staying Foolish, Team Collaboration; each one expressed by one of the attending community members. Recurring participants recalled some of their experiences, while new participants were exposed to a humble and valued history.
The evening’s opening jolt of an exercise was simple and readily noticed. We partnered up, most with a complete stranger, and then did the following: “take a moment with this person, and whatever may come to mind, express what you might appreciate about her/him.” Expressions varied with descriptions of appearance, perceived qualities, and feelings that arose from the person’s presence. Our exchanges differed, but one could sense a greater openness and increasingly positive atmosphere. This was the beginning of an experiential understanding of appreciation.
Our first café question asked: “What is an experience in your life where you felt you were unappreciated, and would have liked to have received appreciation?”
As stories were shared some participants began to identify this missing appreciation as a lack of praise, recognition, or missing feedback for one’s work and efforts. Other participants expressed that they had not been consciously acknowledged, or that their value had been neglected. Disappointments, frustrations, and inner pains were willingly exposed. Two conceptions of appreciation were raised: “appreciation for my actions, and appreciation for who I am as a person.”
A second paired exercise: “take a moment, and think about a part of yourself that you would like appreciation for. Tell your partner, as if they were you, ‘I appreciate your ..’ Your partner then repeats the same exact words to you, reflecting that appreciation.”
“Wow! What an experience!” A diversity of reactions arose, intense and more deeply felt. There were some “feelings of warm energy,” “a powerful sensation,” “seeing a truth that you believe, or want to believe.” One of the most meaningful perhaps, was being able to understand and connect with the essence, or centrality of who another person is. In this atmosphere we were recognizing the value of one another, simply for who we were. A welcomed feeling.
Our second Café question then followed: “How can we share this felt understanding of appreciation with our communities and organizations?”
Ideas that emerged were simple yet impactful: a warm smile, words that reflect the meaning of appreciation: ご馳走様でした、お疲れさまでした. We noticed and shared nuances of culture and language. Other ideas were more playful, such as an imitation or a retelling of a story. With our community harvest we able to reflect, take in the moment, and share as a single group what we were experiencing and understanding. We could laugh, feel joy, encourage one another, and move forward with deeper insights. One takeaway, is acting with the awareness that everyone can value being appreciated, and that there are opportune moments throughout our days to sincerely express one’s recognition of another human being.
We concluded the Café with our tree of appreciation. Each one of us wrote an action item of how we would share appreciation with others, and then posted it on the beautifully paper-crafted, banyan tree.
GLC X: The Power of Appreciation, was a remarkable and heart-warming experience. A big thank you, for the participants and planning members for co-creating this highly enjoyable event. And, a moment of appreciation.
If you would like to contribute or participate in the next GLC event, please feel free to contact us!
Facilitators: Gordan Gaul, Yuka Kojima, Michael Shell, David Nevin, Jorge Chiu