I was leading a group event last week, and I found myself in an uncomfortable situation. One of the participants, during his time to speak, was going on. And on. What felt like a very long time.
My brain was doing this:
- this is too long - what about the other people and their turns? - do I interrupt? - do I cut him off? - does he not realize that he's taking up a lot of time?
My body was fidgeting and getting restless and I kept looking at the other participants on my screen, waiting to see them begin to fidget and lose interest.
What was also true was this:
- I had set the expectation at the beginning of the event that this is a place to be fully YOU. To be all of you, without fear of judgement. - I had set ground rules of waiting for the speaker to say "I'm done" before moving to the next person. As a way to allow the speaker to not feel rushed, to not filter themselves, to not inhibit themselves.
So, I made the decision to lean into my discomfort, to honor the environment I had created intentionally, and to give this man my full presence, attention, and all the space he wanted to take.
I can't tell you how long he spoke. It felt like an eternity (likely because I was facilitating and kept thinking about all the other agenda items and questions I had on my list).
I'm so glad that I (and the rest of the group) held space for him.
Because, as I later learned, he is a giver by nature.
His default is to put others first and himself last.
That he took my words at the outset to heart and gave himself permission to take up space. To speak his truth, to let himself play. That he got a TON of value from the experience.
I ALSO learned, from the other group members, how deeply moved they were by his words. By his sharing. That they were actively holding space for him and felt deeply connected to him when he was talking.
That, had I interrupted, had I let my facilitator brain take over and cut him short, he and the others would have missed out on something incredibly valuable.
It was an INREDIBLE learning experience for everyone, myself included. We all got value from that moment of me leaning into my discomfort and letting him have the floor. Of honoring my word and my intention and deciding to hold space and love for this person in his moment.
This is called sufficiency, and it's something I see in all leaders and what I'm embracing more and more of as I grow in my profession as a life coach.
Having sufficiency for others. That they can have their own experience and it doesn't have to mean anything about us.
Having sufficiency for myself. That my needs are met and that I don't need anything from the people around me, prospective clients included.
Having sufficiency in knowing that all is as it should be, and that I can allow anything.
Would you, in my shoes, have had the same sufficiency?
The same patience?
Would you have had more? Less?
Would you have become impatient and had thoughts about this person being selfish for taking so much time?
It's a tricky situation! I encourage you to take yourself out of these words and truly visualize it for yourself. Feel that discomfort and impatience. And then tap into sufficiency and love and caring for the other person. It can be transformative.
It takes the term "holding space" to a new level for me.