I was leading a training workshop and could tell there was a lot of “non-verbal” communication going on.  It wasn’t clear what was being said, but it was “felt”.  I sensed tension between a couple of key players.  I sensed frustration from a number of others who could also sense the tension.  There were actually a couple of benign optimistic others who were blind to the history and issues going on in the group.  It was hard to get going on the “agenda” they had asked for.  If I were a mechanic, I’d say the “nut” was seized.  If I were a physiotherapist, I’d say the “muscle was spasmed”.  If I were a group leader, I’d say “we’re hooped”.  The trouble was, nobody wanted to talk about the issues going on internally in the group.

I like to tell the story of the Mackinac Bridge in times like this.  Maybe you know it?  It’s the longest bridge in the world over a span of fresh water.  It’s in Northern Michigan and crosses over an open spot in Lake Michigan.  It’s about 5 miles in length and is a beautiful piece of architecture.

I ask the question–“how many tons of concrete went into building this bridge?”  Most people sieze up and can’t give an answer.  The engineers in a group break out their calculators and come up with an incredibly huge number.  I listen, then give the answer.  The answer is–” I don’t know the exact number, but I do know that 75 % of the concrete in the making of this bridge is below the waterline”.

I then draw the analogy that in life, 75% of our issues are below the waterline.  Usually unspoken, not usually well clarified, often painful, and regularly destructive to us as we walk through the waters.

What’s going on below the waterline in your life? What’s going on in your spouse’s life?  What’s going on in your organization or your community or even your country?

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