I’m through with talking about safety, physiological safety, and safe spaces.

I just returned from leading a team development retreat. Usually, I spend time creating safety in the room. I do this by having a couple of discussions that explore what it means for the team to create a safe space.

While it has always been a good discussion, I’ve never been satisfied that it felt as safe as I had hoped.

Participants later tell me stories that confirm this, which makes me wonder how it could be better.

People will sometimes tell me that an ongoing conflict within the team prevents the space from feeling genuinely safe. Or, they tell me of a cultural dynamic that makes it feel unsafe.

The result is that they hold things back and don’t take advantage of the opportunity to get even more out of the workshop.

Shortly before leaving for this retreat, I was introduced to the following poem (Thanks, George!)

Invitation to Brave Space

“Together we will create a brave space
Because there is no such thing as a “safe space”
We exist in the real world
We all carry scars and we all have caused wounds.
In this space
We seek to turn down the volume of the outside world,
We amplify voices that fight to be heard elsewhere,
We call each other to more truth and love,
We have the right to start somewhere and continue to grow.
We have the responsibility to examine what we think we know.
We will not be perfect.
This space will not be perfect.
It will not always be what we wished it to be.
But it will be our brave space together,
And we will work on it side by side.”

– *Micky ScottBey Jones*

I took this poem into the workshop and dropped all talk of creating a safe space.

My approach was to write the poem on flipcharts and lay them on the floor between us (we were in a circle of chairs). After reading through the poem, I led them in a discussion of how it speaks to them.

This conversation led beautifully to forming our agreements for the week.

The result was that the people leaned into creating a brave space. I know this because of the incredible work that happened, and I didn’t hear stories about holding back (trust me when I say that it didn’t feel like they were holding back.)

So, let’s start talking about brave spaces. With everything the poem talks about and so much more.

You’ve got this.

Building Great Teams

Building Great Teams

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