On a recent flight on Air Canada, I took a quick read of an EnRoute article entitled: Can Travel Transform Who You Are? We Head to Tasmania to Find Out. Being someone who loves travel and personal growth, the headline caught my attention. The idea is to provide your travel gurus with your needs or aspirations for travel and they provide a travel prescription: a destination and entire trip you will only learn about days before. Contained within the article they ask: are you willing to take a hero’s journey?
In this case HERO stands for Humble, Engaged, Resilient and Open. This got me thinking of being an engagement specialist and here’s why.
The best engagement specialists and facilitators need to be humble and in service to the process and the group. This means we need to take what we know and be willing to put it aside to learn from others. We need to accept that sometimes our ideas of how to move forward can be improved, changed and molded by participants in the process.
It would seem obvious that engagement professionals and facilitators would be engaged and engaging, but it’s also easy to see how this work can be exhilarating and exhausting all at once. We need to know what we require to remain engaged. If you are convening a process and appear less than invested, distracted, disengaged or tired, this will negatively impact and pull energy out of the group. It’s important to know what you need to show up fully engaged. For me, it usually starts with good coffee.
Resilience is something that has been on my mind for months. Coming out a period of illness and being so hopelessly lacking in resilience has made me recognize the need to invest in my own resilience. Doing a round of 12 open houses, interacting with hundreds of people in-person, coding responses and analyzing thousands of online comments, sometimes, people getting really upset…these things can deplete the most “engaged” engagement professional. We all have different “things” or even triggers that can erode our resilience and so we need to spend time identifying those things that built it back up. It might be being in nature, taking a walk before a big meeting, or carving out time to FaceTime your little people before missing bedtime. It might mean scheduling times for disconnection where you take a digital break for 48 hours. Whatever it is, we cannot assume we will always remain resilient without the proper investments.
Being open as an engagement professional and facilitator means being open to new people, perspectives, and processes, to name just a few. Sometimes I know I am being truly open when I am uncomfortable. Engaging people and communities different from ourselves is critical for democracy, good process and, I would argue, social justice, but it can often be uncomfortable, or at least new. I would ask: if you are always comfortable, are you as open as you could be? Seek out people, perspectives and processes (or ways of doing things) that are different from you and you will likely surprise yourself with what you learn.
So, while Tasmania sounds lovely and I’d love to have my own travel concierge, I also see that each one of us working in the space of engagement and facilitation can be our own HEROs every day.