Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Group Dynamic

It's not you, it's me.

I know it's me.

Don't want to do it? Want someone dependable? Jo will step in.

Jo doesn't want to step in? She'll still step in because she wouldn't be a good sport or a team player if she didn't step in. And the last thing Jo wants to be considered is a bad sport or not a team player.

That would be lonely.

But whether the situation is work or social, you can bet that if it's a group dynamic of ANY kind, Jo will do the work that no one else wants to do.

Jo will step in.

Jo will lead.

And Jo will let her health/desires/discomforts slide so that you don't need to worry your pretty little head about a thing.


There's this thing that I love to do:


I do not, however, like to facilitate ANYTHING. The reason for this is due to what I imagine is a mistaken notion on my part that I consider a facilitator to be another word for "cat herder" or "nailer of jello to tree" or "lifeguard." People rarely listen to facilitators. (I listen to facilitators, but I'm a team player, always following instruction, never shirking, blah, blah, blah...) I think facilitators are a wonderful group of people, and I respect them, but few other people do. It's a shame. They have wisdom to impart. A facilitator got me to finish a short story.

A teacher is the best kind of facilitator because you're there to gain knowledge from them. I can write and teach. I have a hard time writing and facilitating. I have a hard time writing and leading writers all at the same time. I could facilitate a writer's group, but I couldn't write in it. It's like being a lifeguard. You can't swim and be an effective lifeguard. You have to stay in the high seat with your suit on and your whistle and your beat-up copy of a Philip K Dick mystery butterflied over one knee and you have to watch everyone else have a good time.

Maybe it would be different if I were a full time writer. If I didn't have to go to a non-writing job in Oakland and herd cats all day, I might want to facilitate writers in a writers' group. But when I go to the group, I want to set up my cafe "desk," listen to what everyone else is working on, pay attention to someone else's lifeguard whistle, and dive deep in the writing. My teacher could facilitate and write, but I can't. I need the discipline of someone else blowing the lifeguard whistle. I need to be able to concentrate on my butterfly stroke without having to check on all the kids in the pool. And even though I LOVE to hear about everyone else's projects (many of them are fascinating, and I do get inspiration from some), I may have to forego that to write alone again.

I so love writing with writers. It's not so lonely.

But leading them every other week because the facilitator has other commitments takes away from the commitment I made to myself. And I guess that's another reason why I skipped the Meetups this week. I'm flattered one and all, really, for recognizing my strengths to contribute and facilitate, and maybe I'm just not being a team player here.


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