I just returned from an amazing trip to Guatemala where I was privileged to travel with John Maxwell as a member of his team to teach transformational leadership principles to 24,000 key leaders within the country of Guatemala.
Guatemala is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. There are seven active volcanoes, a climate that is "eternal spring," a diverse topography that takes your breath away, a history that dates back many centuries and a population that is open, warm, and loving. In contrast, it is also the most desperate place I have ever visited! Although we stayed in a wonderful resort located in a beautiful section of the city (where they actually mop the sidewalks at least once a day), you only had to travel a short distance to see how most Guatemalans really live (or maybe it is more accurate to say die.)
Guatemalans have endured over three decades of civil war, genocide, and unspeakable human rights violations. An estimated one million families do not have clean water to drink. The country has over 350,000 orphans. Thousands of men, women, and children live near the infamous Guatemala Dump and scavenge through the 500 tons of fresh garbage which is deposited there daily. The average age in this country is 20. It is a hub for human trafficking in Central America and is a thoroughfare for an estimated 300 tons of cocaine shipments each year. If there was ever a country that needed a change, it's Guatemala. But as John says, "Change is inevitable ... growth is optional." Guatemala is ready to grow!
We were invited by their President, Otto Perez Molina, and welcomed by every stream of influence: Media, Faith, Family, Education, Government, Military, and Business.
In 4 short days, we trained 24,000 leaders and over the next 30 weeks each person trained intends to facilitate groups of 6-10 other people in a very simple, reproducible method that will promote personal growth by focusing on universal principles and values. At the end of 30 weeks, there could be almost a quarter of a million people who have begun the transformational journey of a lifetime. If every thirty weeks each person facilitates another group of 6-10 people...well, you can do the math!
The process we used, called "Round Tables," was based upon a method that has been used successfully for 20 years to transform businesses, schools, and even Columbian prisons. But this is the first time in history that it will be used to transform a nation! In the future I hope to share some of the exciting experiences I had and the positive impact this method had on virtually every participant!
But the purpose of this article is not meant to be a travelogue or a promotion of myself as an agent of change. Truly, the biggest transformation that happened last week was the transformation that took place in me! This is rather appropriate since the theme of the week was "La Transformación Está en Mí": Transformation Begins (or is) in Me.
I want to share the basic tenets behind the success of this program and how you can employee the techniques of the Round Table to experience transformational growth within your own family, around your own kitchen table.
According to John Maxwell, who many consider to be the top leadership expert in the world, if you want change in your life, you must change something you do every day. The secret to success is found in your daily routine. So this transformational process must be simple and something that can be done every single day. Additionally, it must be conducted in a setting that values two-way communication where transparency and self-evaluation are modeled. There is no teaching, counseling, or commenting on what the others at the table are sharing. It is a time to learn from each other and to concentrate on personal growth. Simply put, a Round Table is a weekly gathering of the same people to explore a new value or principle, which each individual then applies to his or her own life in a unique way every day for the next week (and hopefully, beyond.)
The 5 simple steps to facilitate your weekly Round Table are as follows:
- Starting with the “facilitator,” go around the table with each person sharing whether they completed the action step from the previous week. (Of course this first step is not incorporated until the second round table.)
- Going around the table, everyone takes turns reading aloud the value or principle you have chosen to work on for the week. The content should only be one or two pages long. As the paragraphs are read, each person underlines one thing that is important to them.
- When the reading is finished, each person takes one minute to share the single thing they underlined and why it is important to them.
- Everyone then takes 2-3 minutes to write a simple evaluation and action plan which could include: rating themselves on where they are today on a scale of 1-10 with this value or principle, why they gave themselves this rating, one benefit they will receive if they improve their rating, who they know who models this value or principle, and one specific action step that they can do immediately to improve their rating. (You could print a simple form with these 5 stock questions and a short space to record brief answers.)
- Each person then shares their evaluation and action plan.
(On their own each person should re-read the value or principle every day for a week.)
When using the Round Table method, remember to use personal pronouns, “I" or "me,” since the process is an individual one. The table is for openness, sharing, and accountability. Remember that teaching should be reserved for another setting. Each person learns from the others experience and is challenged to take a specific action step of their own before the next Round Table. Accountability happens in a non-judgmental way when each person shares if they completed their action step last week. After they answer “yes” or “no,” the next person shares. There is no place for judgment or input from others at the table. When each person applies the truth of what they learn from the reading as well as from experiences others share, they will experience growth. The facilitator is a participant, only there to keep things moving. You could let each person in the group act as facilitator after they see the process modeled a few times. Remember to keep the weekly session short. If there are 4 people it should only take 30 minutes and up to an hour if you have 10 people.
As educators, our challenge is to provide opportunities for our children to learn to apply truth to themselves instead of regurgitating what they know we want them to say. Of course there is a need for providing information, for teaching and mentoring. But Round Tables are the one time that no one prepares a lesson plan or has to stay ahead of anyone else. Each person is a participant and learns from everyone else at the table. Even if you have younger children, include them in the Round Table. You may be surprised by the insights that the youngest members of your Round Table can contribute!
I encourage you to experience the magic of the Round Table. If you already employ a method like this at your house, why not try including the evaluation and action steps to help each person apply daily what they are experiencing? When application and accountability are combined with new insights, transformational growth is the result!
This is a simple, effective, personal growth plan that any group can benefit from. Why not your family? A word of caution: Be ready for an eye-opening and enlightening experience as you watch growth happen around your table. All you need to start are, tissues, a pencil, and a dose of transparency. :)
As you begin this transformational process with your family, we would love to hear about you experiences and insights. Remember that growth happens daily, not in a day!
La Transformación Está en Mí,
p.s. If you want to get a glimpse into the transformation happening in Guatemala, check out this video - "Guatemala: The Beginning"