I received as a gift from a coach a card deck of quotes and questions. There is a quote on one side and several questions on the other side that challenge us about the quote. Quite clever, I thought.
Earlier this month, I used the card deck with a client at a staff retreat. I pulled 10 cards from the deck of 50 that were relevant to the purpose for the retreat – deepening our understanding of each other. They did 3 rounds in pairs, each pair selecting one card and dialoguing about the questions for 10 minutes. Then, we came together to find out what they learned about each other and how do the quotes and questions speak to where they are as an organization.
We started first from a personal perspective and then related to the cards from an organizational perspective. Here is an example from one card that was selected:
Quote: “Nothing is more desirable than to be released from affliction, but nothing is more frightening than to be divested of a CRUTCH.” (James Baldwin)
Questions: “What crutch is a comfort to you?” and “How will you let go of it?”
Because I asked them to first relate to the questions from a personal perspective, the dialogue about how the questions related to their organization was deeper and richer as a result. If they can relate the questions to their lives, then they can be more open and vulnerable about their organization.
Some examples of the questions discussed:
- What is the crutch that is a comfort for them as an organization?
- How does the crutch create a hurdle in moving forward to grow and expand in serving their clients?
- Why do we hang on to what is comfortable?
- What do we have to do to let go of the crutch?
What was the result of this experience? It became quickly apparent that they all have ownership in the lifeblood of the organization. They were passionate when they talked with each other and the word “we” was constantly used. They were enthusiastic about the future but fully recognized that ambiguity is part of the journey. Job titles melted away because they are one.
Lesson – Never, never underestimate the power of quotes to inspire, and questions to inquire.