2011 running into @totherAlistair and following that thread for my 11 am session

Alistair seems to just sort of flow with stuff. This is a bit of a story about jumping into the river with Alistair.

I ran into him in the hallway, asked him for an ICAgile tee-shirt and he invited me into a conversation he was having with Drew, a consultant who focuses on using improv techniques as an Agile coach. Instead of retiring into formality, and propriety (my safe spot), the conversation continued into the hall as Alistair invited us both to his room to get ICAgile tee-shirts. On the way, as we three flowed through the river of people, we stopped so Alistair could hug and meet all sorts of folks, flowing the conversation as we went.

The tee-shirts were all gone, but Alistair and Drew were at a level of intensity and no one wanted to let that go.

Alistair Cockburn With Pile of Business Cards of All People He Met Flowing Through Hotel

Alistair Cockburn With Pile of Business Cards of All People He Met Flowing Through Hotel

(Hee hee – the picture here is just to show all those business cards. ūüôā )

So we all decided to go to lunch together to keep the thread going. Alistair compared the way he and Drew were talking to Jazz, because only those with the vocabulary to understand jazz when listening would really understand, as he and Drew riffed on riffs and asked me to “bookmark” things. Rather funny asking me because I have such a poor memory! Hahah.

Of course this jazz metaphor reminds me of fractals, too.¬† And to add to this, more patterns intertwined with this main pattern. One of the people we flowed with for a bit was Ahmed Sidky. He had been in the hallway where we all first met, for instance, wanting to track down Alistair, clearly, then peeling off down his own loop when we reached the elevator.¬† This seems to be part of the overall fractal because I had randomly taken Ahmed’s session and randomly sat by him at the Park Bench.¬† But it is not really part of this story.

This story is more about Open-ness.

Alistair wanted to see if my room was bigger than his and Ghennipher’s.¬† I mention because this actually flows a bit into what was discussed later. It is metaphorically allowing someone into one’s space. My room was bigger; I fed them yogurt.

We three walked to Shogun, a Japanese restaurant that requires you to *leave your shoes at the door* (well, outside the seating area) and you sit on the floor, although your legs can dangle down if you like.  The shoes are significant because this flowed in later, when Drew described meditation. Alistair introduced me to a Mongolian guy who worked the Sushi counter. I should have asked him if he was actually from Namdroling Monastery, but it seems he was not part of this thread.  The shoes are more part of the thread.

I had been talking with Alistair about Tibetan Buddhism, as he had challenged me to give guide posts, an easy way to tap into what Tibetan Buddhism is. I did not do this so very well, but fell back on intellectualism using “Commit not an unwholesome act, cultivate a wealth of virtue, to tame this mind of ours.”¬† Later I thought “Would it have been better just to recite the Heart Sutra?” But in fact it makes me think of one master, who looks to see not what “stuff” you can vomit up, but rather what’s in your heart.¬† Alistair knows this intuitively, maybe, and made an observation he found me very analytical (but that is us New Yorkers, isn’t it?)

In any case, Drew joined lunch (he’d had to duck outside to close out on some other appointment) and mentioned a meditation teacher that said leave your thoughts outside, and I said, “Like your shoes” which came a bit closer to some kind of authentic response.¬† Still the experiential side that is “beyond thought, beyond words, beyond expression,” hah, was beyond me to express.¬† This analytical side was engaging in command-and-control of the situation.

Meanwhile the energy shifted anyway.

Ronica from Rally showed up and a guy from Charlotte named Mo. Ronica is a “burner” as is Drew, and Alistair is considering attending Burning Man. A thread that interwove was about the fact that cell towers will now be installed at Burning Man. Drew talked about how you had to go on intuition in the past and how is lead to all kinds of interesting patterns.¬† This is exactly how I’ve experienced this conference.¬† Not connecting so very much with people via cell but rather flowing into them. Mo observed that actually Burning Man might be destroyed by the cell towers.¬† It will be interesting to see because Burning Man is based on gifts and self-expression: Open-ness.

Later Drew told the story of his biggest “out-ting” which was a great story but not for what I am telling here. Plus it may be his private story.¬† For then the thread shifted more towards being about what’s secret, what people hide. Alistair mentioned a seminar he’d been at in which people just vomited up their worst secrets. This resonated with me as it brought to mind this image of students vomiting up their worst secrets for masters.¬† I said “of course they vomit this up, because they suffer with this.”¬† Ronica challenged this in a subtle way by saying maybe people aren’t suffering as I say, necessarily, but that they crave the connection to each other.

Perhaps this is the heart of open-ness, right, not hiding yourself with secrets. Alistair said to Drew that he “sees” Drew, because they share patterns, that he connected with Drew.¬† There’s a word in Tibetan for this – Dam-tsig – which really means a very holy connection between teacher and student, but ordinary Tibetans will say “Damtsig!” if you run into each other in odd places.¬† That’s because the people you are spiritually connected to will keep bubbling up from existence – as they have here for me, I think.

So, this, my friend, is at the root of why I am interested in Agile.  Because on a team, you can start to create this open-ness more and more and more.  You can become safe. You can create the environment to love each other.  It can, in the best cases, create bliss.

I had recently observed to a Buddhist master, “I’m finding I can’t think myself into Enlightenment hehe.”¬† And Alistair observed this about my level of open-ness saying ¬†I am throwing up this analytical distance, a door of fear against him.¬† He encouraged me not to be so scared of him, not to block him with fear and analysis because that is how he can help.¬†¬† This is the beautiful thing about Agile, and Ken Schwaber expressed it at the Park Bench and I’ve heard these guys express so many times.¬† They want to reduce suffering in work. They want work to be fun again.¬† And me too.¬† Through this particular door to open-ness, awareness, I think we may be able to become more compassionate *and* become more successful.

Sounds earnest again. Well, in any case, if you have followed the thread this far, we come back to improv.¬† And sky diving.¬† Drew and Alistair had gone indoor “sky-diving” the night before.¬† You have to be fearless for both of these and willing to laugh.¬† Drew even said to me, “Maybe you just need a sense of humor!” So perhaps that is the teaching, that is the how to do.¬† I am so attached to analysis, but that makes it so big deal.

At the end, sense of humor, might get back to this (paraphrased) story.  And this links to Michael Spayd, for those of you who know this story is about Trungpa Rinpoche and Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, who will participate in the coaching thread for ICAgile.

Two masters were sitting together in the garden.¬† One of them said with deep love and affection, “and they call that a tree!”¬† They both laughed loud, deeply and long.

And maybe I close (hee!) with this:

“My definition of sense of humor is creating or being able to create a space where there is none. If you’re able to create a space where there is seemingly no space it is called a sense of humor.” – Sogyal Rinpoche

In the end, these seems like some kind of crazy wisdom teaching that ultimately ends up with real Open-ness.  The challenge is compassion.  And in the end, all of this open-ness must tie back to that.

Unconditional Love

"Not true, love u all the way without any conditions."

3 Responses to “2011 running into @totherAlistair and following that thread for my 11 am session”

  1. #agile2011 Keynote with Linda Rising « Says:

    […] them to epitomize the fixed mindset. (Sync! I had an experience with a group of people connected to Drew, ironically.¬† Women in the group from a company he had coached would not talk to me and […]

  2. #agile2011 @kevlinhenney keynote « Says:

    […] around me, his talk was a lot to absorb and operated on many different levels (makes me think of Alistair’s Jazz conversations).¬† He challenged some of the fundamental assumptions that had been at work throughout the week.¬† […]

  3. #agile2011 On Further Reflection and in Light of the #Verizonstrike « Says:

    […] thought about my time with Alistair Cockburn and Jeff Patton, and the questions about Open-ness that had come up for me after interacting with […]

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