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What would you do if you had all the free time in the world?

This is a (brilliant) guest blog post from SeriousWork graduate Stella Kasdagli, Co-Founder Women On Top


In my SeriousWork two day Online LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® (LSP) facilitation training course, Sean asked us to facilitate a shared model to show the key benefits of using LEGO Serious Play. Little did I know then how much this model would expand (in my own mind at least) as soon as I started putting the LSP tools in practice, in my own work (and, as you will see, even beyond that).

When our training ended, Sean advised us to start facilitating LSP groups, however small, within a week of our first training. Hearing that, I felt my heart sank. I didn’t feel I had the technical skills to run an online workshop so soon and, due to COVID restrictions, a large in-person working group was out of the question. I almost gave in then to the idea that I would let things slide and resume this amazing work as soon as our circumstances changed.

Thankfully, I already had a very real challenge that needed solving and, as it turned out, LSP was an amazing tool for me to tackle it. My 11-year old daughter had been struggling for some time with motivation and time management issues: she felt pressured to do things she didn’t love doing, she felt that she didn’t have enough free time to devote to leisure, plus, when she did have the time, she couldn’t think of what she really wanted to do with it (this is puberty, for those of you who are lucky enough not to have come across it, as bystanders during your adult lives). Conversation alone hadn’t been very successful in moving this issue in any helpful direction -but could perhaps LEGO do it? I decided to give it not one but two shots.

Ultimately, I wanted to do an LSP values workshop with her, but for that I would need some help from a dear coach friend who happened to be out of town for the weekend (stay tuned for this second part of the experiment). So, I chose to do some individual rich model building with her around the question of :

“What would you do if you had all the free time in the world”

It goes without saying, I would be building along with her. Our first building round offered some great insights (gardening, hanging out with friends and ceiling gazing) and some vague ideas with builds representing “adventures” and “various activities”. So, we decided to go with a second 3-minute building round and then a third, a fourth and a fifth. Every round started with a specific question of “what do you mean by that” and it helped us unpack for her both “adventures” and “activities” but also “art”, “travel” and “sports”. What she ended up with was an amazing building board full of ideas, not only to fill her free time, but honestly, to live her life to the full.

After finishing this first part of the experiment with her, I couldn’t stop thinking about how much richer those LSP benefits seem, now that I have really started seeing other people work with bricks. These benefits are not just for children but looking at my daughter unpacking issues that were hard for her to approach before, made me appreciate this work in a host of other ways. Here’s what I found:

Detachment

Putting our ideas, dreams, feelings into concrete shapes somehow helps us detach ourselves from the responsibility of owning and expressing these thoughts. It is as if we become less critical of our inner selves when we can present them not in our own words but in shapes that are not us anymore.

Storytelling

Sharing your models with other people forces you to create a coherent story -and we know how much stories help us put our chaos in order and make sense of our own selves and the world around us.

Thought

Those few minutes of individual building are like a silent space that we give ourselves to really think before we blurt out whatever we would have blurted out if someone asked us the same question we are building around. By giving ourselves the time to process our ideas we arrive at a much more thought-out conclusion than the one we would have reached if we had just talked about it.

Truth

Because building takes time (more time than talk), we end up building only the things that are important to us and this selection and investment process help us become more truthful around what desires and thoughts are essential to what we want to say/achieve/share.

Practice

Because we are using our body to give shape to our ideas, we end up with an imprint of the thought process we went through on our hands and eyes -to say the least. This is probably the most valuable dimension of every learning process: the chance to leave our learning spaces with a physical sensation of how our new ideas feel when we get them out in the world. And this is something that my daughter is now going to carry with her while she’s navigating the treachery waters of puberty, adolescence and beyond.

*Stay tuned to learn about the results of our values LSP workshop with my pre-teen.

Stella Kasdagli is a writer, facilitator and the co-founder of Women On Top, a non-profit organization working for the professional empowerment of women and for equality and inclusion in the workplace.

Stella on LinkedIn

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