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June 2011 | Volume 4, Issue #12      

In This Issue
Jazz Quote of the Month
Events to Attend in June
Monthly Jazz Vespers at Brentwood Presbyterian Church
Cory Weeds' Cellar Jazz Club
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Brian and Jill in MexicoI'm probably a bit odd, but I spent a good chunk of time on the trip Jill and I took with our friends Gill and John to Playa Car in Mexico last month reading about neuroscience, focused attention, and coaching.


In a nutshell, I learned that we shape our brains by what we choose to pay focused attention to with purpose, persistence, and practise. Intermittent and casual attention, passively noting what's going on around and to you, is not sufficient to create healthy habits of being. Purposeful intention applied in a dedicated and disciplined manner is how humans best prepare to flourish by contributing their brilliance to the common good.


I see this more and more clearly every time I pay attention to the performance of the Jazzthink Trio in our SMARTer Teamwork sessions. Here's my current take on how I see the flow of their performance.


Jazz Art

First, they build on what they love. Jazz musicians love what they do - the music, the instruments, and the playing. Their purpose is to express themselves through their music. They are driven by their love for the art through which they tell their stories and explore their passions. They love the ever-emerging possibilities of expressing themselves in authentic and creative ways, communicating with others about the ways in which their souls are evolving. I use the word soul, as you may know already, for the deepest centre of integration in a person's being. By building on what they love, jazz musicians enrich their circles of influence with their unique brilliance.


Second, they bring their best. Jazz musicians provoke each other to bring their best talents and imaginations to the performance. They provide space for each musician to offer their best contribution to the piece they have agreed to play together. In this space, a creative tension develops as each person explores what this riff or that riff might best contribute to the impact of the performance as a whole. New possibilities often emerge from this kind of conversation, possibilities that open up innovative approaches to serving the common good even better. As trumpet virtuoso Miles Davis often said to his groups, "Play your best. Then play above that. That's how great music happens."


Third, they break through their barriers. It's not easy to master the art of expressing your brilliance in ways that contribute to a common purpose. It takes intention, attention, and effort. That, however, is what dedicated jazz musicians do everytime they practice and play. Trumpet virtuoso Chris Botti, for example, still practices 3-4 hours a day. These musicians are striving to take their performance to a higher level, breaking through the barriers that keep them stuck at their current level of mastery. And they are not alone in this endeavour. They are constantly provoked and supported by the other musicians with whom they play. Barriers to improvement are expected - individually and collectively. They are faced honestly and hopefully. They are tackled and conquered with focused attention and mutual support.


Jazz ArtFourth, they beautify their world. Beautification is seldom an idea associated with the process of improving teamwork in a business or organization. It think that's a shame. The qualities normally associated with beauty - elegance, grace, inspiration, calm, joy, passion, warmth, radiance - belong at the heart of teamwork. We flourish in a community where these qualities generate the vibe. A jazz group, in the groove of a swinging performance, is a thing of beauty. So is a team of people doing their best to serve the common good they love.


Fifth, they bask in their brilliance. The jazz musicians I work with enjoy doing well what they love. When they complete a piece, they chuckle, smile, and nod at each other in an expression of sincere appreciation for the support they gave to bringing out the best in each other. They bask for a moment in the brilliance they brought together in seeking new ways of performing the piece for the audience. At the same time, the audience is applauding with enthusiasm. It's an important moment of celebration for all the intention, attention, and effort that has gone into the performance. Then they're on to the next piece, on to another opportunity to replay the whole process again and grow even more.


The flow I've just described will work for any team, but only if there is clarity about the common task and a willingness to contribute and support everyone's best. That requires a blending of mind and heart in paying attention to the beneficial performance that is possible in the situation. When the brain is guided by such a curious mind and a loving heart, it operates in the harmonious swing of a great jazz group.


Pay attention to what's happening in your team and find ways to model the kind of flow I've described. It really does work. Just give is a serious try and see for yourself.






Jazz Quote of the Month


Joan KingJoan King is a colleague on the faculty of the Demers Group's Core Alignment Professional Coach Training program. She has had an intriguing journey into the coaching profession. She was a nun who taught science and math, a distinguished neuroscientist who headed up departments in the medical school at Tufts University, and is now a coach, writer, and speaker. She is convinced that the ways the body works at a cellulasr level have much to teach us about our personal and communal ways of being.


Her book, Cellular Wisdom: Decoding the Body's Secret Language (2004), articulates her conviction that the core truths of living an authentic and fulfilling life are coded elegantly in the complex dance of chemical and energetic interactions within and among our cells.


The second half of the book focuses on the parallels between how cells and humans work together in systems. Three fundamental principles are evident in these processes - specialization (diversity and the emergence of genius), cooperation (realized through communication), and integration (various systems contributing resources to achieve a common goal). Appreciating and enhancing the flow of energy into these qualities of being together creates and sustains vibrant, cohesive, and stable human communities, just as is seen in the generation and maintenance of flourishing health in the human body.


When we follow the body's lead in this way, we each have the opportunity to contribute our unique note to the universe's cosmic song.


That kind of complex dance, weaving together specialization, cooperation, and integration, is what Colin Righton caught so powerfully when he did the Jazzthink logo painting back in 2002.


jazzthink artThe musicians are in touch with the genius being generated deep within each of their souls, offering it in a cooperative spirit and fashion, so that an integrated performance moves and inspires both the audience and the performers. Everything coalesces into an authentic and fulfilling energy that serves the common good.


Events to Attend in June


logo Demers Group 


The Power of Coaching Dialogues is a 3-hour introduction to the Core Alignment approach to coaching. I will be leading the next Vancouver session on Wednesday, June 8, 2011, from 1:00PM - 4:00PM in the Board Room at the Viva Tower at the corner of Drake and Howe. Whether you are interested in the benefits of coaching, exploring a new coaching model, or becoming a professional coach yourself, this is a stimulating and valuable session. Space is limited, so click here for more information and to register.


From Systems to Spirit: A Workplace Centre Salon will be happening at our Spirit at Work Luncheon on Thursday, June 16, from noon until 1:30 in the Teresan Building at Georgia and Thurlow. I will be moderating this conversation about the ways in which Spirit enlivens and enriches the workplace, taking us beyond systems that work well to communities that do good. Click here for more information and to register.




Monthly Jazz Vespers at Brentwood Presbyterian Church 


Jazz Vespers at Brentwood Presbyterian Church in June will feature Cory Weeds on sax and Ross Taggart on piano. It's on the last Sunday of the month - June 26 at 4:00 p.m. They will be playing from their souls to ours and we'd love to have you join us for the experience.


Brentwood Banner June 2011 

Enjoy Great Jazz in Vancouver

Enjoy an evening at The Cellar this month and check out Cory's great line up for the Vancouver International Jazz Festival from June 24 through July 3.

The Cellar 
For information on June's schedule and reservations, click here.