And as things went along, I watched other people having the same experience. Without a book to read, training program to participate in, or colleagues for support - they just jumped in. And everything just worked out perfect. Of course, once you have done something and it seems to work, there is a natural tendency to attempt some improvements. And so some of my friends began to think of other things they could do, ways of integrating (combining) Open Space with whatever sorts of approaches they had been using, or had recently learned about. Interestingly enough, as I watched their efforts, it seemed to me that they more they fiddled (added, changed, sequenced etc) the more cumbersome and less functional the experience in Open Space became. My personal approach went just the other direction, and I found myself thinking about one more thing to leave out - not do!
It was not unlike peeling an onion. Layer after layer disappeared, and of course, if you keep on going eventually you get to a point where there is nothing there! I pretty much reached that point and simultaneously found myself with a marvelous conundrum - the less I did, the better things got, and if I ever were to reach a point where I did nothing at all, that should be the best of all! Fair enough - but then what did I bring to the party? What was it about me that was significant?
I suppose this could sound like longing to be loved (Somebody, please NEEEED ME!). Guilty as charged, I am sure. And I think the question is a real one. Who am I and what difference does that make? I guess the simple answer is: I am me, complicated by the fact that "me" changes over time. The only "thing" I will ever bring to the party is me, nothing more, nothing less - just me. And the only thing that seems to matter much is that the "me" that shows up is really me. Not some abstract me. Not some new and improved me. Not somebody else's version of me. Just me. Just the way I am. I think that is called "authenticity."
At this point the waters get a little muddy, if only because the "me" I am changes day to day. Or what may be the same thing; my awareness of this little old me changes. So just who is this "me" that shows up? The traditional approach to such an interesting question would be to engage in some form of self-analysis prior to showing up. But that never worked for me. The harder I tried to figure out who I was, the more confused I became - and I suspect that confusion was also draped in a mantel of inauthenticity. More often than not, I came out looking like something I thought I should be, or that somebody else wanted me to be - all under the heading of self-improvement.
So I just showed up, any way I could, and did what I was able to do. No apologies. Sounds kind of in-your-face, but it definitely worked in a most unexpected fashion. Somehow or another, the Open Space environment (whether I was the facilitator or participant) striped away all of the should-have-beens, might-have-beens, could-have-beens. And in retrospect I discovered elements of me I never expected.
So where does this tour around the barn leave us? Speaking personally, I have found that the experience in Open Space to be an incredible dialogue between the me that showed up authentically and the emergent self that that greeted me at the end of the day. If nothing else it sure beats psychoanalysis and is a lot cheaper.
And for whatever it is worth, one of the things I discovered about me is that I am bi-polar for sure - Masculine and Feminine.