I’d rather not be right

Dear reader,

just finished another group training, this time young volunteers from different EU and some non-EU countries doing their voluntary projects in Slovenia. We spent five days together, working from 9.30am till 7pm with only a few breaks in-between.

Being young nowadays isn’t easy. Making choices, deciding what to do with/in your life, deciding to dedicate some of your time to do volunteering work, isn’t easy. Then add that it is happening in a foreign country, away from home, loved ones, on a tight budget and without a clear picture of what’s ahead, and you come down to one word: unknown.

I’ve done quite some numbers of similar youth group trainings. And have been a participant in a few myself. As trainers, we’d often have high expectations, presuppositions about the participants as well as theories of who’s in the group and why do they behave the way they do.

For instance, there are always stereotypes about different nationalities. Then there are social stereotypes about young people being spoiled, unmotivated, waiting to be served, not proactive, etc., etc. With such assumptions it’s always clever to figure out who’s the group making those claims. It is almost never the group about which the assumption is about. Funny, isn’t it?

So it happens that people in the group do not follow instructions. Object. Or ask the same things that have just been explained the session earlier. They do not show up on time. They complain about things not being right, yet do not offer how to make them right. And so on. I’m sure you know what I mean.

What each group teaches (reminds) me is that I never want to be “right” again. Even when I might have an assumption, I’d never want to argue or not repeat the instructions again and again and again or be kind even when others aren’t or be patient when someone might not be. What I remember was the most important for me in another country, among people I didn’t know, language I wasn’t fluent in, etc., was not people who were smart about how things should be or would be right about what I should have done. It was people who were kind and there for me, especially when I was clumsy and made mistakes. Who were willing to help me out without me feeling that I should “know this” or that “I’m stupid”. This is probably what mothers are like towards their children. They’d never assume the child will not make it and they are not forcing them to “get it” faster or would not be fed up with them not showing immediate progress. It’s what a gardener might feel when planting the seeds. They need whole lot of water, warmth, sunshine and care, before they can bloom.

Groups are inspiring, but can also be stressful. Lots of people together, lots of persuasion, dominance, cooperation, competition, comparison, manipulation even. Lots of fighting about whose opinion matters more and who is right or wrong. Fighting to have a say. To be the leader. Or to hide, to detach oneself from the group or to lose interest because it is going too slow or too fast. Again, not easy. As a trainer, it is important to capture this and try giving space so that each individual in the group can feel welcomed, encouraged and to find their unique place in the group. And in order to make that possible, one has to do away with our own fight, ego and being viewed as an expert, even when in trainer’s role. One has to give the expertise to the group and before this, offer the group space so that they recognise they (can) own it. And when they do, this is what group work is all about. The essence of human existence and connectedness. And I love it, every single time and with every single training I’m privileged to be a part of.

So I never want to be right again.

Thank you Slovenian National Agency for having me as your trainer again and thank you dear participants and my co-trainer to make it a unique and enjoyable event. Best of luck and hope to he


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Our participants. Quite inspiring, isn’t it?

I’ve just had the best conversation of my life

Dear reader,

thank you for your patience. You had to wait quite a while for this post. I’ve got so much going on in so many different fields that I find it challenging to keep up with everything. I have been doing lots of clinical work. Had delivered Solution Focused training in Slovenia. Just finished a 5-day training for European Voluntary Service volunteers. Will be doing lots of facilitation of various small or large scale events in the upcoming week. And then back to London. Not to mention writing articles, doing research analysis, selecting coworkers for our upcoming 3-year project, etc. Sometimes I think it’s way too much for just one person.

Many people would say the most meaningful learning and AHA moments happen out of your comfort zone and are accompanied with stress, discomfort, perhaps even a crisis and pain. I’ve got no opinion on this, but I do have a very recent experience that I’d like to share with you.

I nearly experienced a crisis yesterday. Something happened that completely removed the ground from my feet and I found myself in a situation where I felt angry, hurt, crushed and above all, terribly disappointed in somebody. I was working, had been away from home for several days. The training had been successful and going well, though it required lots of energy, flexibility and trust. I am generally always good at maintaining balance while working. Not so much if something happens to me personally. That crisis had nothing to do with my work, but it happened while I was working, in the middle of the day. And it had to do with something somebody else had done or hadn’t and should have. At least in my opinion.

So we closed the day. Nobody noticed. I went up into my room. Hotel rooms (single ones) can be devastating. I had about 30 minutes of spare time before the final party. And I felt this extreme tension, caused by the action of this another person that triggered my crisis. I sat on the floor next to my phone charger and wrote a message to one of my most precious people with whom we were to meet in Skype on that day, but he sort of stood me up and hurt me some more. He did not respond, which added to my irritation and the sense of imbalance. I felt so abandoned. And lonely, even though I had been immensely successful and efficient at my work only an hour ago.

I went into the bathroom. There was nothing to do there. I searched my bags and found some food and snacks. Was just about to open that chocolate bar without any reflection or mindfulness. And for some reason I didn’t. Then I saw a bottle of wine I bought earlier in the day for our evening party. I went back to the bathroom and searched for a glass. I opened the bottle, poured myself a glass and sat on the floor again. It must have looked pretty miserable, being alone in a hotel room, sitting on the floor drinking wine in sorrow, listening to some pathetic music. No wonder people commit suicide in moments like this one.

After the second glug of wine I took a deep breath. And another one. Then I changed the music. And then something magical happened. My thoughts started leaving my head. One by one. Until there were no more thoughts. I’ve no idea how long this no-thought mode lasted, and what happened next was the best conversation I ever had. A conversation inside my head. For the first time, I spoke nothing but kindly to myself.

I opened my eyes. And I smiled. It was such a pure and natural thing to do. And then I realised:

I don’t need anybody. All I need is already here.

This has never happened to me before. It was a moment of supreme balance, imperfect perfection and beauty. I felt so strong. And for the first time, I realised that no matter what happens:

I will be fine.

I’m sure that wine glug made a contribution. But I was not drunk, far from it, my head was crystal clear and I felt at peace. So I got up, went into the bathroom, brushed my hair, left my room and joined the party in my brilliance. And had a very nice evening afterwards.

I am certain life will bring numerous situations where people will hurt me, deliberately or not. I am 100% positive that there will be challenges bigger than I will be able to handle. And from now on I also know that there is an enormous force and strength in me with which no matter what happens:

I will be fine.

Love, Biba


Stronger. Together.