Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Like a Shell

A shell provides animals in the ocean with a home. Each animal's shell provides it with safety, structure, and protection. As the animal lives and grows, its shell is marked and changed as it moves and tumbles through the ocean. Each shell possesses a unique beauty unlike any other.

Like a shell, you have resources in your life, which protect and shelter you.

Like a shell, you have been changed by your experiences moving and tumbling through the ocean of your life.

Like a shell, you are unique, strong, and beautiful, like no other.

May this serve as a reminder of your own unique strength and beauty as well as the support that exists all around you.

Thank you Raffi for this piece of prose!

Our next workshop


Sunday, 15 March 2009

Organizational Health and Balance Workshop Series

May 5-7, 2009
You can choose either our French or English workshops.
Pour cette annonce en français, cliquez ici.

Investment: $756 – register by April 8 and save $249 off the total registration price!

This Organizational Health and Balance series of experiential workshops prepares participants to look holistically at the current state of balance of their organization and to initiate strategies to create a healthy work environment, strategies that are critical to success and viability. Participants will learn and apply simple and practical tools, frameworks and approaches that integrate ancient wisdom and leading edge practices. These tools have been used with great success around the world in developed and developing countries in all kinds of organizations, associations and communities.

Leaders today know that being a healthy organization is not optional. A healthy and dynamic working environment is the precondition for generating skills and knowledge, collaborative working relationships, change readiness, resilience, and innovation. Much has been written about WHAT needs to be done, but there is very little guidance as to HOW to get there. These workshops help to fill that gap.

We invite participants from corporate, non-profit, education, the arts, health care or other public sector organizations. If you are a leader, manager, consultant or anyone who needs to work with others to achieve results, this program offers new and practical paths to create the future of your organization.

The Organizational Health and Balance workshops help to develop leaders and leadership. They are foundational to our leader development programs based on Genuine Contact™.

What Will I Learn At This Workshop?

Our teaching model is rooted in experience. The platform design for the model is Whole Person Process Facilitation. The reality of learning from experience is embedded in ancestral worldviews from which our model evolves.

May 5, 2009 Part 1: Path to Organizational Health and Balance provides a broad overview of the importance of organizational health and the steps required to achieve it.

May 6&7 Part 2: Achieving and Regenerating Organizational Health and Balance deepens the exploration of organizational health and its achievement and provides practical experience using the tools to develop an assessment and regeneration plan for your organization

You will leave these workshops equipped with:
• Key questions to ask to start your organization on a path to health and balance
• An understanding of the Medicine Wheel Tool© and other simple tools as holistic diagnostic frameworks for understanding your organization’s current state of health.
• A completed ‘diagnosis’ of the health of your organization, from your perspective (or from the perspective of your Management Team/Board if you attend together)
• A process for developing strategy and energizing collective action to move the strategy forward
• A customized practical, holistic framework for achieving and maintaining long-term organizational health that equips you to propel to higher levels of development and continually learn how to connect people, strategy and the bottom line.
• Knowledge of how to increase the capacity of your organization to work effectively in rapidly changing times to:
o Positively impact your bottom line,
o Improve the effectiveness of training programs,
o Enhance the effectiveness of customer service and quality assurance
o Promote health and well being of your employees, and
o Reduce the human and financial costs of stress.
• An understanding of the importance of relationships, that are based on genuine contact, to achieve results beyond your expectations
• An approach to Whole Systems Thinking – a holistic perspective and working with organizations as living systems

Each workshop includes a workbook to support ongoing learning. All participants have access to support and mentorship following the training through an international network of Genuine Contact™ professionals. For more information

Our Workshop Location

Nestled in the Laurentian Mountains 80 km north of Montreal is the beautiful town of Val David
and Prema Shanti, a tranquil inn on the shores of Lac Doré. Prema Shanti is home to our
workshops and provides an ideal retreat setting for a complete residential learning experience.
The inn offers beautifully appointed rooms, fine dining, spa services, and easy access to hiking
trails, swimming and canoeing. Dormitory housing is also available for those who are more
budget conscious. Special rates are available for all workshop participants including
accommodations, meals and use of the facilities. Please contact Prema Shanti for further details.

Our Facilitation Team

Michelle Cooper of Integral Visions Consulting Inc (Ancaster, ON), Donna Clark of Emergent Futures Consulting Inc (Halifax, NS) and Marquis Bureau of MBureau International Inc (Notre Dame de la Salette, QC) make up our facilitation team. They are authorized Genuine Contact™ Trainers and Co-Owners who have been working with the Program for a number of years. This partnership offers participants the opportunity to learn from Genuine Contact Professionals working across Canada and internationally in a variety of sectors. It also allows us to offer the Genuine Contact workshops both in English and French, providing participants with a unique and customized learning experience.

Register today for this exciting workshop opportunity.

A limited number of scholarship positions are available. For more information, contact us.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Two Kinds of Hunger

The Bushman storytellers talk about two kinds of hunger.

They say there is physical hunger, then what they call the Great Hunger.

That is the hunger for meaning.

There is only one thing that is truly insufferable, and that is a life without meaning.

There is nothing wrong with the search for happiness.

But there is something great - meaning - which transfigures all.

When you have meaning you are content, you belong.

Source : Sir Laurens van der Post in the documentay Hasten Slowly

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Building Healthy Workplaces with the Genuine Contact Program - Part II

WHO (1999) identified the determinants of worker’s health in the workplace that mirror the determinants of health in the community: the environment and working conditions, the organization and culture, work groups, and work styles and practices. Working with the Genuine Contact Program in organizations can positively impact each determinant.

1. Environment and working conditions:
Lack of involvement in decision-making is one factor that contributes to a negative psychosocial environment. The Genuine Contact Program uses highly participative meeting methodologies that tap into the collective wisdom and potential of individuals and the organization as a whole. The processes engage the passion and creativity of people and encourage responsibility and action, resulting in innovative and creative solutions to issues related to work environment and working conditions. The Program works with change at the scale of the whole, promoting join-in at the beginning rather than buy-in after the fact. As a consequence, there is usually faster uptake and acceptance of new ways of being and doing.

2. Organization and Culture:
Improving workplace health depends almost entirely on leadership priorities and decisions. The first step is to determine the will of leaders and the organization to achieve health and balance. The Genuine Contact Program helps organizations to explore the benefits of and the will to achieve health and balance. It provides them with the tools and frameworks to “diagnose” the current state of health and to develop strategies to achieve and sustain organizational health. These tools raise consciousness of and work with the deep essence of the organization including purpose, values, assumptions, leadership, vision, community, management and relationships. The emphasis is on a deep fix rather than a quick fix. Using the tools, the organization can build a comprehensive organizational strategy for achieving and sustaining organizational health and the processes for achieving results.

3. Workgroups:
Relationships and interactions with co-workers are the major source of stress in workplaces. Healthy organizations are founded on right relationships with self, others, the collective and the divine. The Genuine Contact Program enables people to achieve “genuine contact” at all levels through reflection and meaningful dialogue. The program builds community and fosters team work, effective communication and collaboration while working together on key business issues. It helps to minimize conflicts that create a negative psychosocial environment and provides tools to resolve conflicts that do arise.

4. Work Style and Practices:
The Genuine Contact Program engages the whole person: mental, emotional, spiritual and physical. Working with the program assists individuals and the collective to work with their “deeper source” (Sharmer, 2005) - purpose, assumptions, values and beliefs that guides actions, individuals and work groups, which facilitates transformational change. Mentoring, coaching and workshops are provided to support individuals and the organization to achieve health and balance.

Achieving organizational health is a continuous process. The program does not superimpose a model or structure, but rather provides the underpinnings and frameworks for co-creating healthy workplace strategies that are customized to the organization. It provides a healthy and balanced foundation or “operating system” for the organization to work from.

The ingredients and benefits of a healthy organization are clear. There is now evidence that is compelling organizations to invest the time and resources to address workplace health. The Genuine Contact Program provides a HOW to get there - a holistic approach that aligns the process for achieving health with healthy workplace characteristics.

Next workshop


Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Building Healthy Workplaces with the Genuine Contact Program

Our next workshop

Healthy workplaces are a hot topic nationally in Canada and the “next big idea” in organizational development. In 2000, Canada’s Healthy Workplace Week was launched to remind Canadian businesses about the increasing urgency to address workplace health and the positive effects that healthy workplaces can have. Workplace health has even received attention from the World Health Organization (WHO) because of the impact on the health of communities.

Why is there so much attention? The human and economic costs of unhealthy workplaces are great. The ripple effect has been felt throughout society on families, businesses, and the health care system. WHO has declared job stress a worldwide epidemic. Unhealthy workplaces can create excessive stress, especially in organizational climates that devalue or ignore basic human needs (Wilson, 2003). Sustained long-term stress changes brain chemistry and affects the body’s ability to fight infection and disease. Resulting illness, disability and death affect family relationships and economic well-being. Analysts estimate the total cost of unhealthy workplaces to Canadian employers is in the billions annually. About 20 percent of payroll of a typical company goes towards stress-related problems like absenteeism, disability leaves and counselling, medication and accidents, (Riga, 2006). According to Health Canada, the direct costs (paying absent workers) and indirect costs (training replacements) of work-life stress to Canadian business is $4.5- $10 billion annually (Riga). The burden of illnesses also stresses publicly funded health care systems and private insurers. Unhealthy workplaces have been linked to low productivity (Lowe, 2003), which can affect sustainable economic development in communities and countries (WHO, 1999).

Despite the extensive research that demonstrates the benefits of healthy workplaces for individuals, for the organization and the bottom line, few organizations have developed a comprehensive strategy to address workplace health. I recently attended a nursing leadership conference where researchers presented their study that found the factors that influence quality of worklife in health care had not changed in the last 10 years, yet few organizations have been successful in integrating these ingredients (Dhoot, 2005). So why is that? Although there is much information about WHAT needs to be done, there is much to learn about HOW to get there. There is reluctance to invest the time, financial and human resources required to achieve healthy workplaces because of the time it takes (several years) to see a return on investment, even though it can range from $1.64 to more than $8.00 per dollar spent.

While healthy workplace strategies have evolved considerably since the 1970’s emphasis on occupational hygiene and safety, current healthy workplace strategies are directed at individuals through lifestyle and wellness programs and health and safety training programs. While important, they are only part of the equation. It is now recognized that there is a third element that must be attended to: the underlying organizational factors and culture that support health of individuals and the organizations (Lowe, 2004). This goes beyond environments that are free of hazards, or training people in safe work practices. What Lowe refers to is working with the deeper essence of the organization, and involves key ingredients like “leadership that values employees as key assets, supportive supervision at all levels, employee participation, job control, communication, opportunities to learn, and a culture that gives priority to work-life balance and individual wellness” (p.3). The concept of healthy workplaces has evolved to that of healthy organizations.

Working with the Genuine Contact Program taps into and attunes organizations to that deeper essence and works with the multiple dimensions that contribute to organizational health. The program builds internal capacity to achieve and sustain health and balance by offering processes, tools, structures and supports that can help organizations to develop an operating system that allows ongoing evolution of a healthy organization.

More tomorrow.

Source: Michelle Cooper RN, MScN
Michelle Cooper of Integral Visions Consulting Inc. is an international consultant dedicated to help individuals and organizations to achieve effectiveness and health through facilitation, consultation, coaching, and mentoring. Michelle has been working with the Genuine Contactä Program since its inception and is an authorized trainer.


Monday, 9 March 2009


Storytelling is an excellent method of giving speakers an opportunity for uninterrupted voice in a manner culturally conditioned for many diverse groups and rich in learning for the listener. The ultimate value of storytelling is to recreate a situation for someone who has not lived it through it, so the listener can benefit from the teller's experience.

Healing through stories is but one important aspect of synthesizing our relationship with ourselves and with the entire universe. As well as being entertaining and giving a sense of pleasure, stories arouse heightened mindfulness, a sense of wonder and mystery, and a reverence for life. As the story unfolds, a rapport develops between the storyteller and listeners.

Storytelling does not occur in a vacuum. Story tellers need an audience, a response, in order to make the telling a worth while experience.

When an experience becomes a story, it is passed on, given away, made sacred. The story intensifies the value of the events that have passed. Pain and rage can be released, isolation broken, triumph and ecstasy celebrated. What was a singular experience becomes woven into a larger context.

Source : Fyre Jean Graveline

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Comments from Genuine Contact Community Members

Comments regarding Cross Cultural Conflict Resolution Workshop in Val-David, Qebec, Canada

Thank you for sharing this, Michelle. Congratulation, to both Marquis and you.
It's great to read, that French Canadians are getting familiar with GC. May this energy come to French speaking Europe soon – Switzerland.

Thanks Michelle for informing us about this - I feel like you do when I am in USA and I also learn a lot – Sweden.

Enjoy the experience! - Venezuela

Thanks for sharing your experience. I can understand you very well. It is particular to feel, think, and learn as a non native speaker. But our Heart can speak in all languages. It helps me every time to know that the GC community is with me - Germany.

Hi Michelle, when I read the last part of your message about the yoga I realized how much I miss you all and that I had forgotten to spread my wings for a while, so I will do that yoga right now :-) I am sure you are having a great learning and as always, whoever comes are the right people – Sweden.

Friday, 6 March 2009

Session 3 of the Genuine Contact Program en français

Greetings from Val David Quebec where Marquis Bureau and I are facilitating Session 3 of the Genuine Contact Program en français - La résolution de conflits interculturels. We have three participants - making five with Marquis and I.

We decided that it was important to offer the course and maintain the energy of moving the course forward even with small numbers. There is much interest for the work of Genuine Contact in the francophone community - and for the second time we have not attracted any English speaking participants, something we will evaluate after we offer Organizational Health and Balance in May.

With three participants Marquis and I are participating when we want to have the group work in pairs. When he is in the role of facilitator, I participate and vice versa. I am of course at my learning edge because my French is at only an intermediate level and I have few opportunities to practice. I find the best way for me is to listen with my heart rather than my head.....When I worry too much about translating my ego is very active and I think of my self and my next words. So, I am practicing presence with deep listening - which is good because for those of you who know me, I usually have a LOT to say when I am speaking English.....and my learning about self and others is deep.

The great news is that all of the participants took the WPPF course in October. While we are not teaching WPPF, some of the ahas and questions are allowing deeper exploration of WPPF principles and we are of course giving them another experience of WPPF that is not a mix of facilitating and then teaching about the method.

One of the explorations/discussions of this morning was about hopes and fears....that how when we invite the whole person by welcoming their fears, we can prevent conflict....and when the environment does not welcome the fears up front, that the conflict will emerge later or it supports conflict.
I love the learning that I have when I facilitate these workshops.....a great way to go deeper myself.

We did the Genuine Contact yoga this morning - the eagle, which causes me to think of all of you around the world.

Have a great day everyone.


Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Back to Passion

There is a power in our heart far greater than anything we can imagine. This power is our passion - the life force that pulsates within us, bringing energy, vitality and meaning to everything it touches. When the passion flows into our relationship, it brings intimacy and deep connection. When the passion flows into our work, it brings creativity and vision. When passion flows into our quest for Truth, it brings wisdom. When passion flows into our spiritual journey, it brings awakening.

No matter how battered we are by love or life, no matter what we endure, we never really lose our passion. Perhaps we leave it for a while, but it never leaves us.

Cross Cultural Conflict Resolution, session 3 of the Genuine Contact Program begins tomorrow in Val-David, Quebec at our new location.



Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Being Intuitive

There is a deep-seated misconception that being intuitive is a gift. It's not. There is no such thing as a gift for intuition. I have finally realized that courage is the true gift, and intuition is sharpened as a result. Either you develop the ability to respond physically to what you are hearing, feeling, and sensing on the inside - or you don't. Responding to others takes guts. What determines whether or not you have those guts is self-esteem. It is a strong sense of self. It is a willingness and ability to take charge of yourself.

Source: Caroline Myss

Monday, 2 March 2009

David A. Kolb On Experiential Learning

David A. Kolb (with Roger Fry) created his famous model out of four elements: concrete experience, observation and reflection, the formation of abstract concepts and testing in new situations. He represented these in the famous experiential learning circle (after Kurt Lewin):

Kolb and Fry (1975) argue that the learning cycle can begin at any one of the four points - and that it should really be approached as a continuous spiral. However, it is suggested that the learning process often begins with a person carrying out a particular action and then seeing the effect of the action in this situation. Following this, the second step is to understand these effects in the particular instance so that if the same action was taken in the same circumstances it would be possible to anticipate what would follow from the action. In this pattern the third step would be understanding the general principle under which the particular instance falls.

Generalizing may involve actions over a range of circumstances to gain experience beyond the particular instance and suggest the general principle. Understanding the general principle does not imply, in this sequence, an ability to express the principle in a symbolic medium, that is, the ability to put it into words. It implies only the ability to see a connection between the actions and effects over a range of circumstances. (Coleman 1976: 52).

An educator who has learnt in this way may well have various rules of thumb or generalizations about what to do in different situations. They will be able to say what action to take when say, there is tension between two people in a group but they will not be able to verbalize their actions in psychodynamic or sociological terms. There may thus be difficulties about the transferability of their learning to other settings and situations.

When the general principle is understood, the last step, according to Kolb is its application through action in a new circumstance within the range of generalization. In some representations of experiential learning these steps, (or ones like them), are sometimes represented as a circular movement. In reality, if learning has taken place the process could be seen as a spiral. The action is taking place in a different set of circumstances and the learner is now able to anticipate the possible effects of the action.

Two aspects can be seen as especially noteworthy: the use of concrete, 'here-and-now' experience to test ideas; and use of feedback to change practices and theories (Kolb 1984: 21-22). Kolb joins these with Dewey to emphasize the developmental nature of the exercise, and with Piaget for an appreciation of cognitive development. He named his model so as to emphasize the link with Dewey, Lewin and Piaget, and to stress the role experience plays in learning. He wished to distinguish it from cognitive theories of the learning process (see Coleman 1976).