In 2000, I was asked by the ever fabulous, Stephanie Potous-Eaker, who at that time was the President of the MPI Kansas City Chapter to facilitate her board retreat. Up to that point, I had never facilitated a meeting of any kind. I told Steph, “I’m sorry, that’s not what I do. I don’t know how to facilitate a board retreat.” She looked me straight in the face and said, “Yes you do.” I said, “No – I don’t.” She said, “Yes, you do and if I have to back lead you through this entire experience, I will do it and prove to you that you CAN.”
She did, I did, and I have been doing it ever since. Having people in my life to help me stretch beyond my limitations is the story of how I have become a professional facilitator. Working both in the association and corporate arena, I have developed a skill over the years that has grown into a career that not only has served me well, but become a true passion of mine.
Working with professional member-based trade association boards of directors doing board development, strategic & business planning, committee training and leadership development has offered me an experience I never would have imagined would bring me so much joy. Speaking to large audiences is a wonderful thing, but when I walk off that stage, I never ever truly know the impact of my work. Applause is great, a few nice comments after the talk is done is certainly wonderful – but nothing is so exciting to me as the opportunity to work with a small group of people over a 1,2 or 3 day period with a starting and ending point.
Facilitating a strategic planning retreat that has a specific set of objectives (with very clear and defined deliverables) is an incredibly gratifying experience. The relationships I have the opportunity to develop during one of these sessions is exciting to me. Helping a group of people get from point A to point B, eliciting participation and encouraging brainstorming for their greater good rocks my world. It is decidedly different from speaking to a large audience. You get the chance to watch them expand their perspectives, open up to new possibilities and become better as the hours pass. Better individually and better as a group. I love this work and hope to do it for many years to come.