In many ways, facilitation is like gardening. You just have to trust the process. Dirt plus sun plus water equals growing plants. Along the way you pay attention to sun/shade and dry/wet balances, pruning, proper nutrients, and pest control to nurture and increase the chances of success. Yet the entire time, you must summon your patience and trust the process of dirt+sun+water=growing plants. Growth never happens fast, yet if you are attentive, you can see it in each new leaf, bud, and outstretched tendril. While you may frequently examine your newly planted pots for signs of sprouts, you cannot rush this process.
I find facilitation to be quite similar. With patience and fortitude you must trust the process, nurturing various elements along the way to increase the chances of success. In most facilitations, there is at least one and usually several moments of despair. In these moments, you want to give up on the process. You want to chuck it all and change tacks hoping to foster some speedier result. Yet, the key here lies in taking a deep breath and weathering these moments, holding true to the well-designed process, knowing there will be bumps and nothing will be instant, and trusting in it anyway. After all, hidden roots usually grow a bit before we ever see tender sprouts poking their heads through the surface of the dirt.
I’ve been experimenting with some planting recently. Inevitably, a family member will peer out the window to my balcony garden and question what’s going on with that pot full of just plain dirt. They don’t know I’ve planted seeds in that pot and am waiting for sprouts. They don’t know how long the germination time is on the seeds. And while I sympathize with the seemingly endless stretch of nothing as we await seeds with longer germination times to sprout, neither my family nor I can see what’s happening underneath the surface. From our perspective, each day is greeted with the view of a plain pot of dirt and no progress. It seems to be simply a dead end. It is only knowledge of and hope in the process that keeps me looking eagerly each morning instead of dumping the pot and giving up. Dirt+sun+water=growing plants. Maybe today will be the day…
I find this same thing in facilitation. While I myself have moments where I’m tempted to compromise or ditch the process, there is always at least one participant who quickly loses patience and faith and starts openly advocating the abandonment of the process. They want to dump the pot. When this happens, I often think of seeds in dirt. While no process is infallible, I know the process we are pursuing has been designed with the benefit of deep experience and knowledge, and I’ve been nurturing the various elements needed along the way. I trust and can often sense the growing of hidden roots even though I cannot yet see sprouts. And it is even possible that I’ve just caught a glimpse of the slightest flash of green poking through. So I encourage them to trust the process, to push forward in hope a bit longer.
I should add the caveat that sometimes both plants and processes should indeed be dumped and started over anew. But more often than not I find we do this out of impatience or lack of trust where, had we held on a bit longer, we would have seen the fruits of our labor growing. Real results take time. Yet while we may pay lip service to this sentiment, we still tend to impulsively seek speed. In our push to get results quickly, we cut off the very process that is working simply because we don’t see results fast enough and are afraid that if we hold steady, we’ll end up with no results at all. Instead, I find if we root ourselves in the process and keep at it, we’ll see what we are looking for.
Because, in the end, dirt+sun+water=growing plants.