A Pew for Elijah: What a Funeral Taught Me About Facilitation

by Sara Ness

“You don’t belong here.”

That’s the feeling I got upon walking into the room. I was twenty three years old, and one of my community members had just passed away – a devastating homicide while he was en route to Baton Rouge to facilitate that community’s first Authentic Relating Games Night. I led the Authentic Relating community in Austin. His mother, who I barely knew, had asked me to facilitate the memorial.

Of course I said yes, and I flew down a few days later. It wasn’t until we were in the car en route to the memorial service that worry started to percolate through my shock. After all, I had never facilitated a memorial before; I had never even been to one. I asked the mom, “How do you want me to facilitate this service?” “Just get up there. You’ll be fine,” she reassured me.

I walked into the room and within a second, I knew that I was in trouble. I am a facilitator of group emotional...

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Psychological Safety and Belonging

authentic leadership Feb 13, 2019

by Sara Ness

There are twenty-two of us in my living room the day before the training starts.

I’ve run the Authentic Leadership Training more times than I can count. Actually, about thirty five times, which is countable but only because I spent an hour with my calendar. I know the content so well I can teach it without a script. I have every possible change memorized. But there’s one code that I’m still working on cracking.

The people in this room are all different ages, from their twenties to their sixties. Among them are computer engineers, managers, teachers, coaches, musicians, and entrepreneurs. They have different backgrounds, cultures, and expectations.

I prefer having multiple leaders in front of the room. They help me teach and give the participants an example of what different types of leadership can look like. They make sure that participants can focus on learning rather than logistics. I need the staff, but twenty-two different people are hard to...

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