From: Beth Dixson
To: Horth, David; Palus, Chuck
Subject: a Visual Explorer story
Recently I gave feedback to an emerging leader, a participant in the Women’s Leadership Program at the Center for Creative Leadership. (I have disguised her identity in what follows.)
She is highly regarded and experienced. Her personal stumbling block is her reluctance to speak forcefully or take the lead.
I’ve carried a small deck of Visual Explorer cards with me for years, just in case. We framed a question for her having to do with seeing herself in 6 months time, and about shifting that which blocks her.
It was late in our 3 hour session, but I spread the cards around our room and left her for a few minutes to be with the images and her thoughts quietly and privately. When I returned, she had confidently picked the card showing a single dandelion seed head silhouetted against the bright skyline.
She spoke about her certainty and attraction for this image instinctively, but could not say more. I followed up with my thoughts framed as “if this were my card, I see/I feel … .” She liked having a partner in dialogue. It seemed to be a new idea for her that she could look outside herself for a deeper identification with her inner state.
As much as picking the card, I think modeling the way of seeing it and feeling the connection was the key experience for her. A new skill, way of paying attention, bridging the inner chaos through recognizing a personal visual metaphor.
It shifted her mood greatly to a lighter, more hopeful mind set. We were able to complete our talk concretely with sketched actions to take after the workshop.
Along with the whole class experience, I think she will carry that clear image as a re-framing point to sustain her.
As small a thing as responding to an image was a significant moment with its own power and clarity when the totality of the week begins to blur. I certainly felt glad I had this compact resource at hand.