7. The Power of Facilitation for Self-Reflection, Change and Personal Growth

Facilitation is something we do for groups. The same processes we use as facilitators are valuable for individuals. Self-facilitation requires an ability to reflect and honestly look at your life and your patterns. It is the art of taking yourself on a journey.

In this chapter, we will look at:

  • What is self-reflection and self-facilitation?
  • Why do it?
  • How do you do it?
  • And what might happen if you regularly tap into the power of facilitated processes to self-assess and change yourself?

It is a very practical chapter. We explore three facilitator planning processes for you to try. There are many other facilitation activities you can use—I am just giving you a taste. My hope is that you try at least one of them. The power of facilitation is available to you to create positive personal change.

What is self-reflection and self-facilitation?

A 2017 article by Süleyman Davut Göker and Kıvanç Bozkuşi (paraphrased) says that reflection is not only a personal process but a collaborative one. It involves uncertainty along with experience. We involve more perspectives, values, experiences, beliefs and the larger context. Through reflection, we gain new-found clarity to make changes. New questions naturally arise, and the process spirals onwards.

Coaches, trainers and facilitators invite participants to undertake the process of reflection regularly. Jim Moran wrote a chapter on Cognitive Neuroscience of Self-Reflection.ii He says, “Thinking about ourselves is a cognitive process fundamental to human mental life.” This author says there is an entire brain network somewhat dedicated to self-reflection.

My own experience of self-reflection is that it is a process of analysis, looking honestly at facts and feelings. It is the ability to ask oneself questions such as: What just happened? What did I actually do and say? What did I observe in myself and others? What appeared to go well and not so well? What would I like to be different the next time? What are my next steps? This ability to self-assess accurately leads to adapting and changing. This allows us to encounter future events with more confidence and resilience.

Coach Jim Knight sums it up: “When we reflect, we can look back at something such as a behaviour, assess how we did, and then think about how we can do better based on what we’ve learned through reflection.”iii

Self-facilitation is about applying tools and attitudes that process facilitators use, to reach new goals, decisions and outcomes in our own lives. It is as easy as that.

Why self-facilitate?

Many have heard of the quote: “Before you help others, you must first help yourself.” iv The classic aeroplane instruction of always putting on your own oxygen mask before you help others put on their masks is a good example of this. If you are literally gasping for air, it is difficult to be effective in helping someone else put on their mask. I extend this thought to the field of facilitation. This chapter is about “putting on your own oxygen mask first”. Facilitating your own growth and development can help you be more masterful in facilitating others. I explain more below.

One thing a process facilitator aims to do is to help a group reach an end goal, product, decision, or resolution in a calm manner. Imagine that you are a facilitator who has not mastered the art of reaching a decision for yourself. Essentially, you do not know where you are going. You run from thing to thing. You are lost in confusion. Your boundaries are not clear. You say “yes” to too many requests. This inner state of not knowing who you are and where you are going often impacts the groups you facilitate. In the end, they may feel lost and unfocused.

Another unhelpful pattern that can arise when you have not done enough of your own inner work is operating out of urgency. I have ample experience with this. The only result for me has been burnout, exhaustion and a complete inability to help others or myself. I thought I was impressing others or meeting the inexhaustible list of tasks. In reality, I was not achieving the real impact I could have. I wish I had discovered the power of self-facilitation earlier in my life.

Who is self-facilitation for?

  • Anyone interested in growing into a more fulfilling and purposeful life.
  • Leaders who want to further develop a vision and encourage their teams to think big.
  • Process facilitators keen to facilitate others through complex change.
  • Coaches helping others grow in their skills and ability to think of the big picture.
  • Disenfranchised people who need affirmation that their dreams can be realised.

What are my assumptions?

  • Everyone can imagine a different and better future.
  • It is worth taking two to eight hours on a regular basis to create a compelling and profound plan or time line that will guide and motivate you for many years.
  • Creative, intuitive thinkingv and use of imagery typically increase the power of self-facilitation.
  • You first want to use these methods on yourself. Then, you can help others use them.

Jesse’s Story – Part 1

I was co-leading a workshop and the group was composed of peer facilitators at a facilitators’ conference. The purpose of our session was to help people grow themselves as community leaders and facilitators. We used a number of self-reflection exercises throughout the day.

Thirty minutes after everyone had introduced themselves and good energy had been established, Jesse entered the room. Jesse was not a facilitator. (I am going to use the pronoun “they” for Jesse to safeguard their identity.) I asked this person to introduce themselves using the same questions that we had asked everyone else.

Jesse launched into a lengthy discourse about how they didn’t really want to be at the conference. The only reason they had come was to get professional development credits. They thought facilitators did a bunch a “woo-woo” stuff (that is, abstract, not useful things) and nobody was ever real. The world was a nasty place and full of bad people. And their job every day was to deal with some of those bad people. They had to be the person who forced them to comply with things they should be doing. They also said they didn’t feel well and had taken significant medication to deal with an infection. Finally, they said they had some family issues going on. I tried unsuccessfully to interrupt this person. Jesse continued to rant about how bad the world was, how bad people were, and it was their job to fix everyone. Jesse was not reflective, just feeling really dissatisfied with life and letting us know it without censoring anything.

My co-facilitator told me later that she felt the pain of this person very deeply and at that moment could not think about anything other than their pain. I was noticing that the participants were literally leaning away from this person. Their bodies were bending over as though trying to protect themselves and their faces were looking nervous, frustrated or scared.

I sensed that this person, given the world they lived in, needed directness. Self-facilitation also needs to be direct and real. You need to be totally honest with yourself. So, I honestly told Jesse what I had just observed in the group. Jesse became quiet and looked a bit surprised but stayed in the room. This intervention was one of many that day that seemed to help Jesse take their change process seriously. We, the co-facilitators and the group had no idea how capable Jesse was of using the process of self-facilitation.

As we share more, keep Jesse in mind. We will come back to their story. Perhaps your life or career journey could change a lot too after reading this and other chapters of this book.

How do you start the journey of self-facilitation?

I would like to help you use the power of self-facilitation through three creative facilitation tools. All of them use images. All of them include visioning. Self-facilitation does not have to include visioning. It might just be a retrospective process—looking back to see what you could have improved from past efforts. I, however, find the most dramatic and fulfilling changes occur when I DO include visioning as a regular life activity.

I have used these three tools multiple times for decades with myself, friends, family and colleagues. Using these tools has dramatically and positively changed my life and the life of many others. The only proof I have is in their words and actions. And there is a bonus if you are a leader or on the leadership journey. I say this because the power of self-facilitation is that, done on a regular basis, it will likely deepen your understanding of yourself and others immeasurably and allow you to lead more effectively.

Jesse’s Story Part II

In hindsight, I think Jesse had lost sight of their vision—they did not know their dream. They were executing the “how” but had lost sight of the “why” and the “what”. Let’s see what happens when they connected to the why and the what.

See also: Simon Sinek’s Golden Circlevi

Three favourite self-facilitation tools

I am only including the three that I think I can explain well in this chapter. Another favourite is the ICA ToP® Strategic Planning model but it requires in-depth training to do well.

  1. Collage Visioning and ToP® Focused Conversation method. Collage is a process of taking many images and pasting them onto a board or stiff paper. ToP® (Technology of Participation) refers to a suite of culturally sensitive tools developed for facilitators and facilitative leaders around the globe. The ORID or Focused Conversation structure is the foundation on which all the ToP® tools are based.
  2. PATH (Planning Alternative Tomorrows with Hope) graphic facilitation method. This is a graphic vision and goal-setting process developed by several Canadians originally for people with developmental difficulties to help them lead richer lives. It then was found to be useful for any group or individual.
  3. Grove Graphic Personal Compass Action Planning Workbook. Grove Consultants is an international visual facilitation company, which produces beautiful process-oriented templates. Facilitators use larger templates with groups. Individuals use the smaller versions themselves. The company also offers training workshops.

Each tool section will cover:

  • Why and when to do this, including a few surprising examples of outcomes you can expect.
  • What are the steps in the method to help you determine if it appeals to you.
  • Preparation, supplies and resources outlining not only props that are helpful but how to create optimal conditions through careful emotional and physical preparation steps.

In case you are wondering which one to try first, the table below may help you decide.

Comparison of Three Self-Facilitation Methods

The Collage and ToP® Focused Conversation method

Why and when do you do this?

I would use this method when you are not sure about your future. It might feel like you have NO ideas about your preferred future. You may even feel “stuck”, unsatisfied, unmotivated and unsure about your current life. You can use the collage method followed with a reflective conversation to get your brain jump-started. The collage method is effective because:

  • The pattern amongst the images may tell you something without your conscious mind realizing it.
  • The power of images remains with you— neuroscience tells us they get stored in your long-term memory
  • It takes relatively little time and no money.

Jesse’s Story Part III

I saw the power of images with Jesse too. Remember this person’s negativity? Later in the workshop, we asked everyone to first draw an image that represented what their current life felt like. Then we had them imagine/sense a different, more positive future. Jesse proudly showed a drawing of their current state versus future state. With Jesse’s drawing, the contrast was amazing. Jesse had drawn storm clouds and erratic heart palpitations as their current life situation. Their future situation was illustrated by a beautiful mixture of curly designs, with a flower and a sun radiating out in the middle. The difference in tone and feeling between the two drawings was truly remarkable.

My Story

I have used collage multiple times in my life. I have done it alone. However, it is much more interesting if you are with a group of people each working on your own collage. Others may offer suggestions and comments to you which can be helpful along the way. You may observe what others do and copy how they do it.

One time, I cut out a picture of a room with a glass, two-sided fireplace. I literally had never seen one of these fireplaces. Yet during our search for a home in a new country, my jaw dropped when I walked in the house with our real estate agent. It had a two-sided glass fireplace. I knew then this must be our future home.

I have also done a joint collage with my spouse of how we wanted our future life to be. We each started with our own section of the same collage.

I sensed we needed to first start thinking about our lives as independent, unique humans. We had left the centre part of the collage for areas where we wanted to be interdependent and collaborative. After a short time passed, the collage took on a life of its own where we had both moved from making the collage about our own desires into one where we were interdependent and partnered. We started seeing many areas of the collage where our lives and tastes were blending together. My spouse had initially been somewhat sceptical about doing this process. His strength is typically in more analytical thinking processes. Yet, as I look at this collage we made over a decade ago, so many things have come true. Today, we are leading a more satisfying and collaborative partnership of walking through life together.

What is the method?

Collage is the simple art of finding images that are compelling to you. You then glue these cropped photos onto a stiff board or paper and work until the entire board is covered with photos. The intent of this type of collage is to portray your desired future. This method should cost little to no money. You could also do it entirely virtually but the tactile feeling of cutting paper may appeal to you more.


  • Ask yourself this question: What would I like to see, feel and hear in my ideal future 1–10 years from now?
  • You choose the time-frame. Sit quietly with that question for a minute or two. Decide on the relevant time-frame.
  • Open your storage file of photos and images. Pick out any images that “appeal” to you. You need to not over-think this. Quickly rip out pages or grab virtual images and words that currently resonate positively with you.
  • Go through your stack of chosen images and neatly crop or trim the piece you most want. For instance, it might be a single word or phrase from the page or the image or part of the image that most appeals to you. It might just be a colour. Once you have lots of images—more than 30—throw out all the scrap paper or unchosen images.
  • Begin gluing or arranging the images on your board, paper or virtual file. You might save the middle of the collage area for an important image. You might paste images and words “organically” (that is, without any sense of order) and see what emerges. You can create sections such as my body, my adventures, my family life, my work life, my travel, etc. Add glitter, etc., if you wish.
  • Some people like to have big spaces between sections or photos. And others like me, put all the photos overlapping. You can also cut out or draw words.
  • At some point you will feel it is complete. Set it aside and revisit it later.
  • If you are doing a physical collage, cover the entire board/ paper with the collage glue for a more permanent and shiny finish.
  • Print it (if virtual) and hang it up on a wall and admire it for at least ten minutes.

Preparation and Supplies (if doing a physical collage)

  • Magazines work well. I also use postcards or print off photos or images from the Internet when I don’t have access to magazines. Libraries and retirement centres are likely to have magazines they are willing to throw out. Pixabay viii is a free online source of photos. This may take a few days or months to collect them. Store them so they are easy to access. Print off anything that is electronic. You can crop them later.
  • Find card stock or poster board. I recommend at least ½ metre by ½ metre (15” x 15”). It can be round, rectangular or square. You want it big enough to hang somewhere where you can see it but not so big that there is no place to put it.
  • Use 3-D materials for effect. You can use glitter, sequins or shiny paper also. There is no limit to what you can do.
  • Have some glue sticks or gloss acrylic medium ready to paste your images on the board.
  • Have a garbage can nearby to throw out any images/clippings you discard.
  • Invite a few colleagues or others to join you in doing the same if that would be helpful to you.
  • Find an hour or two of quiet time.
  • Tell yourself it will go well. Imagine yourself enjoying it.
  • Put on some music that you like.

The day you complete the collage, conduct this conversation with yourself or invite someone else to ask these questions of you. Note that these questions are sequenced and written in the form of a ToP® Focused Conversation Method. You can find out more in about this method in Appendix A.

  • What do you notice in the collage? Colours, shapes, words, emphasis, etc.?
  • What particular images stand out the most?
  • If there are words in your collage, what words do you really like?
  • What is the tone and feel of this collage for you? What is surprising? Exciting? Confusing?
  • Which piece/theme in this collage seems particularly important to you?
  • What are some things you are already doing to make this vision come true?
  • Who would you like to show this collage to?
  • If you were to capture the “feel” for this collage in a phrase, what would you call it? (It might be a movie or song name, a phrase from a poem you like, or just a phrase that sums it up nicely).


What if you just want to work on one specific future aspect of your life or work? You could decide to give your collage a specific theme. For example, I wanted to get a sense of how to design my garden and tore out photos of flowers and designs from garden magazines that I liked. When I saw them all together on a collage, I sensed the “mood” of a garden that most appealed to me.

If you are working on a relationship shift or new relationship, you might focus on that. Or, only focus on your work life or next career vision theme. Based on my experience, I prefer to include both my personal and work life in a single collage. The personal side of life affects and influences my work life, and vice versa. Try it for yourself. However, for your context, the single theme approach might work well.

After you complete your collage…

It helps to look at your collage often for several weeks. This will instil the images into your long-term memory. It will inform your choices when opportunities come your way or decision-making is needed. Your vision will invite you to take positive future-oriented actions. Can you keep rehearsing the vision in your mind? If you do, the power of the images tend to propel you forward.

The PATH (Planning Alternative Tomorrows with Hopeix) graphic facilitation method

Why and when do you do this?

When you have a half day, this short and powerful graphic planning process is excellent for you to begin a project or explore a new life/work direction. This exercise motivates and focuses you for 12–24 months. It also works very well for couples or families. This method is effective because it:

  • builds clarity and identifies support for your deepest desires.
  • synergises disparate and disconnected ideas.
  • kick-starts a project or a program that has stalled.
  • motivates future actions for months/years into the future.

It works well because you are motivated to seek clarity about what your life has in store for you. Your unconscious mind seems to know what it wants for you but cannot quite access it without the right conditions and processes.

What is the method?

This process was developed by Jack Pearpoint, John O‘Brien and Marsha Forrest in 1994, based on their earlier model called MAPS. It was originally developed as a person-centred planning process designed to “level the playing field” for people with disabilities. This process allows them to co-plan ways forward with their own network of community/ support. It is now used by anyone. There are eight steps noted below.


  1. Touching the Dream – the “North Star” (this I do as a guided visualization)
  2. Sensing the Positive and Possible 12–18-Month Goals
  3. Grounding in the Now
  4. Identifying People to Enroll
  5. Recognizing Ways to Build Strength
  6. Charting Action for the Next 2–3 Months
  7. Planning the Next Month’s Work
  8. Committing to the First Step

I’ve done a videox to show you the steps and there are others on YouTube.

One caveat, a very important one, is you must first have your own PATH done (ideally by a trained PATH facilitator) before you can do the PATH for others. Please honour this guideline. Since so few people in the world are able to offer this service to others, we wanted to make it more accessible. It is a fantastic gift to do this and then pass it on to others.

Jesse’s Story Part IV

Jesse was stuck in Step 3 (The Now) to some extent. They could see good points of their life (the money) and bad points (they had to work with people they “disliked”, and whose values they did not agree with). When Jesse worked in our workshop, they had a chance to reflect on their dream. And this unlocked the goals they wanted to achieve—more time and adventure with family, better health, hanging out with positive people, leading a simpler life. Jesse moved quickly to steps 4–8 and left the workshop having defined a catalytic first step. Jesse announced they were going to pass on a key aspect of the daily work to someone else. This aspect of the work was the most disheartening for them. Once Jesse decided this, we could see their whole face beam with contentment and relaxedness. Their intended actions of the next few months included passing on the majority of the work and eventually selling the business to someone else.

My Story

I’ve had five PATHs done in the last 25 years. I ask someone to facilitate one for me every three to five years to give me new direction and sustained momentum. Sometimes, I do it on my own. Each time I have been surprised at what emerges for me during the PATH process.

When I first moved to the USA and was trying to start my business again at the height of a horrible recession. I visualized in my PATH of 2002 that I would be spending a lot of time in Asia and South America. I was puzzled by this because I had never travelled to either place and did not consciously realize I had any desire or connection to go to either continent. Our daughter subsequently moved to Brazil in 2010 for a while and I ended up going to Brazil multiple times, studying Ayurveda and about the five elements there with one of her amazing teachers. As I was writing this, I went to Peru where our daughter works now. Then in 2009, I met Lilian Wang of RFOUR Limited. I was so impressed with Lilian and others she introduced me to that I chose to go to IAF (International Association of Facilitators) conferences in the Asia-Pacific region for the last eight years. I have thus been now to Melbourne, Tokyo, Singapore, Mumbai, Hualien, Taipei, Seoul and, most recently, Osaka! I also started a facilitation diversity cohort (a group of individuals from many different countries, races, generations, content and sectoral expertise, etc., who had a strong interest in developing their facilitation skills) in 2009 xi. Two women in that cohort are of Asian heritage.

In 2012, I co-developed a deeply meaningful facilitation course on the Five Elements of Facilitation Design. I had been wanting to do this for years but was missing the needed framework. The journey of developing this course caused me to have some of the deepest insights I’ve ever had about facilitation. It allowed me to quickly determine what we as facilitators are really trying to do with any group situation and how to work with that situation. I began a virtual two-year international cohort of 20 in 2018. And, I continue to grow in my facilitator friendships and work partnerships in Asia Pacific. I would not be writing this book chapter without this connection to that region. It all started and grew as a result of the insights and intentions I realized during my PATH sessions.

After you complete your PATH …

I like to hang my PATH up in a place where I can savour it for quite a while. I re-read all the phrases and look at the photos. I show it to others who care or who are interested. Again, this integrates the material and “the dream”. You will not likely achieve all of your possibilities and goals exactly as stated but many will materialize in different ways. Expect to be surprised. If you have done the PATH for someone else, check in with them after a few weeks and see if they have taken their first step (that is, part 8 of the process). The power of facilitation here is about taking the time to reflect, articulating a vision and then making it tangible and visible.

PATH Testimonials

This is what some of my friends and colleagues have said, months or years after I have facilitated their PATH for them:

Retirement was the perfect time to consult Barbara and develop a PATH. It was a great vehicle to brainstorm and make a value-based plan as a couple that has guided us well this first year.

After it was completed, we put up our PATH on our dining room wall. It sparked many conversations between us but, more importantly, with our kids, friends and extended family. They asked many probing questions, which helped sharpen our plan, but also gave them the insight into who we are at this stage and where we are headed.

One difficult thing that occurred as a result of the PATH process is that I realized that in order to accomplish my goals this first year, I would have to be separated from my wife for three months to complete training in tropical medicine and to do volunteer work in a refugee camp. Her support in this endeavour was critical and, while challenging at times, we balanced the times away with rich adventures, meaningful work and physical challenges that we both have loved.

As we look at our PATH today, we realize how much more there is to do!

Joe Sullivan, medical doctor, and Carol Gelfer, healthcare consultant and facilitator, USA.

I experienced a very empowering process of creating my PATH with Barbara and it has truly been a GIFT. I visualized a life in the future that was so vivid, especially with volunteering with IAF (International Association of Facilitators) and growing leaders. I vividly saw facilitation as a buzzword, and the value being seen everywhere. I also saw a strong online network of support and lots of sharing. The process was powerful, I was able to access my subconscious mind and felt confident to chalk out the future with clarity. Within a month, I started the IAF Asia Quarterly Newsletter and coincidentally it is called IAF Asia Buzz
—and I started the Asia Regional Leadership team with a group of passionate members who are supporting amazing initiatives within the region. This is only the tip of the PATH!

Farah Shahed, International Association of Facilitators Asia Regional Coordinator; Trainer, Coach and Facilitator, India.

I like that PATH uses visuals to guide the planning process. Through the PATH session, I gained greater clarity of the support that would help me achieve my goals. One of my goals identified during the session was to be certified as an ICF Associate Certified Coach. I managed to do it within a year of the session by working on the items to ‘enroll’ and ‘strengthen’ that were identified during the session. I still have my PATH pasted on my wall and it puts a smile on my face every time I look at it because it reminds me of my purpose and my dream.

Lyn Wong, CPF©, ACC, Singapore.

Preparation and Supplies

Note: You could also create a virtual template and do entirely online with drawing tools.

  • Unlike the collage method, this one requires that you are emotionally and psychologically ready. It will yield much better results if you have been thinking about your future for a while, have a few ideas and are ready to commit to action.
  • Plan to take 2.5–3 hours to do your own PATH.
  • You will want absolute quiet and attention for up to three hours. Alternately, you could do the first two steps in 90 minutes and the last steps in another 90 minutes.

Supplies you need include:

  • Large sheet of paper (flipchart size or 1–2 metres long).
  • Markers of many colours—fine-tipped and thicker ones.
  • Chalk for creating colour in the columns and arrows.
  • Some gentle visualization music. Quiet instrumental music is helpful for the guided visualization.

The Grove Graphic Personal Compass Workbook xii

Why and when do you do this?

This method will work well if you like visual templates. It uses graphics, graphs and charts, so it appeals to both those who are very visual and those who are very logical. The authors call it fun, insightful and empowering. I agree strongly with all three words. There are visual timelines, time sheets and details I would not normally think of in planning. It can be done entirely on your own although I recommend doing it with a group of friends or trusted colleagues. This method is effective because:

  • it appeals to both visual and logical learners.
  • it can be done on your own.
  • it is helpful for big changes in life.

I would recommend this to anyone at any stage of life. It is especially helpful when you want to make BIG changes in your life. You need a lot of time to do this well, and to do every step (about 30–90 minutes per step).

Here is a short story of a colleague of mine who did this process with me and eight other facilitators over a day. We each worked individually but shared our products after each section in the Compass workbook. This provided validation, encouragement and clarity to keep moving onto the next section.

With a group of fellow facilitators, I participated in the Grove Consultants Personal Compass process. The steps to evaluate where I was and where I wanted to go brought clarity to the balance I wanted to achieve among many interests: consulting, fighting for social and racial justice, spending time with family, travelling and playing guitar. I was able to chart a path towards achieving balance, which I have successfully followed (with a few backward slips along the way). I feel it was important that this process was more successful for me because it was facilitated within a small group. The facilitation created opportunities to share and reflect, then refine the vision of my future.

Paul Krissel, Organization Development and Change Consultant, USA

Preparation and Supplies

  • Multiple sessions of 30–90 minutes. It could take several weeks or months to complete this.
  • Purchase the book from Grove Consultants (noted in citations).
  • Writing and highlighter pens.
  • Background music (if helpful).
  • A bigger table or desk space without distractions. The booklet is spiral bound and about ½ meter long.

What is the method?

This is a do-it-yourself guide called the personal compass. There are seven steps:

  1. Starting point: You come up with a guiding over arching or focus question to start and answer four questions: What is calling me? What is pressing? Where do I come from? And who’s involved?
  2. History: You can plot up to 20 years of your life—dreams, aspirations, peaks and valleys, key events and people, places and occupations and learnings.
  3. Cross-section: This is an opportunity to assess how you spend your time. A typical week is broken up into one-hour pie wedges. You indicate how much time you spend on typical daily activities like work, family, friends, recreation, commuting, reading, device time, etc. Then you rate your satisfaction on the amount of time you spend on each activity.
  4. Inventory: This is basically a SWOT analysis—an analysis of current Strengths and Weaknesses and future Opportunities and Threats.
  5. Vision: You imagine your life in the future (several years ahead) and fill in a template that focuses on any or all relationships, accomplishments, experiences, joys, contributions, environment and inner qualities.
  6. Choices: This template invites you to narrow down the scope of what you have been doing, discern and prioritise key pieces of your vision into themes and write a purpose statement.
  7. Action plan: This is where you become detailed—writing out objectives, time-frame and tasks among many other things. This final step draws on many of the earlier templates. There are four blank pages with the same graphic if you really love the detailed part of planning.

My Story

I watched myself have a bigger impact when I switched to a more reflective, carefully focused life.

I did this Grove Personal Compass process at a time when I was suffering from a debilitating neck injury. I literally had a pain in the neck reminding me once again to slow down. The power of this facilitation process was clarity about how I use my time versus how I want to use my time. Using this method, I also came up with a life purpose statement at that time of my life of which I was really proud:

“Connect deeply with my joy, my family, my culture, while being a thoughtful generous ally to diverse younger or underrepresented leaders.”

This has guided me, my decision-making and choices well for many years. For example, based on Step 3, the cross-section activity, I was astonished at how much time I spent driving to places. I have since reduced my driving distance to 30 per cent of what I used to do and driving time to about 10 per cent of what I used to do.

I negotiated with clients and colleagues to do virtual meetings. Instead of driving to a place for face-to-face meetings, I purchased and learned new virtual technologies to do this well. It then resulted in me offering many online courses. This was a whole new aspect of my business I would not have done if I had not done the cross-section time-line from the workbook.

After you complete the Grove Personal Compass Workbook…

Using the facilitation for personal reflection, change and growth are some of the most satisfying things I’ve done with my life. It has also been the most consistently powerful way of helping myself to help others.

Again, as with all methods, it is best to review the pages you filled out many times. There may be certain ones that compel you to re-evaluate your life. As noted above, I found this with the cross-section. I recreated some of the templates I liked and repeated some of the exercises several years later.

Have a conversation with key people in your life to help you stay on purpose and to follow through with tasks. You may also need support making the big changes like I did. Ask loved ones to keep you accountable.


Each of these techniques are used by process facilitators. As group facilitators, we may use them differently. For example, facilitators may do a group collage for visioning, or have the group draw pictures and then tell stories of their future. We may use much bigger templates that cover a full wall for a group PATH and a Compass workbook type of activity. But as I hope to have shown, they work very well for individuals and for groups.

The power of self-facilitation is waiting to be fulfilled in each one of us. Each of us lives on a spectrum that ranges from a highly reflective life to a life that is busy, filled with doing things that are or seem important. I am obviously biased toward reflection and have trained myself to lead a more reflective life. It did not come easily. It was only after major illnesses and accidents that I learned my super “go-go-go” lifestyle was not sustainable. I have watched myself have a bigger impact when I switched to a more reflective, focused life.

The problem is we are not usually taught how to be reflective. Nor are we invited to be reflective. Instead, for the most part, we are programmed to rush from thing to thing as though our very survival depends on it. We may be chasing some unconscious and even unexamined dream of achieving a prosperous, wealthy life. Or, we may have had so many setbacks in our life that we are living a life of just barely surviving.

Self-reflection using any facilitation method or journaling with good questions will help you grow. Being clearer in your own words and actions in life, will also help you help others in your community, family, friends and colleagues. When I allow myself to think really big, I imagine that self-facilitated people will heal the planet, deal with global crises, wars, and maybe even save us from self-destruction.

Using facilitation for personal reflection, change and growth are some of the most satisfying things I’ve done with my life. It has also been the most consistently powerful way of helping others make the changes they wish to make.

Jesse’s Story Part V

Remember our main story hero, Jesse? Jesse thought they had to be this hard person, doing their job well, never stopping to realize how unsatisfying and degrading the work was. In a single day, they were reminded of their goodness, and need to honour their internal values. Jesse made a big decision that day when they finally had a chance to reflect in a safe environment.

And, most surprising was that Jesse came back to fully take part in the two-day conference. Their original intention had been just to come to a pre-conference session to get their professional development required credits. At the main conference, we were surprised again. We watched Jesse participate in every activity thoroughly and enjoyably. The next day Jesse reached out to me, took my hand and said, “Your workshop was a gift to me. I realize I have to stop hanging out with so many bad people and start hanging out with nice people like the ones at this conference.”

What helped with this truly transformative situation? I think Jesse needed to be heard. We did that. I did that. My co-facilitator did that. All of the participants did that. Jesse showed up, participated in every self-reflection activity fully, and really began to use everyone in the room to help them get to where they needed to be. Self-facilitation helps us “show up” authentically and as we wish to be in the world.

Visual summary by Kailin Huang


i. Göker and Bozkuş. (2016). Reflective Leadership: Learning to Manage and Lead Human Organizations.

ii. Moran, Jim. (2016). Cognitive Neuroscience of Self-Reflection.

iii. Knight, Jim. Instructional Coaching Group, Reflection, 2017.

iv. Morgan, Naomi. Before You Help Others, You Must First Help Yourself. Huffington Post, 2017.

v. Calabretta, Gemser and Wijnberg. The Interplay between Intuition and Rationality in Strategic Decision Making: A Paradox Perspective. Sage Journals, 2016.

vi. Simon Sinek’s The Golden Circle Presentation:

vii. See more about ToP facilitation methods at these websites: (USA); (Canada); (Taiwan); other offices throughout the world

viii. Pixabay. 1 million+ Stunning Free Images to Use Anywhere.

ix. Pearpoint, O’Brien and Forest. PATH, 1993.

x. For a brief video of the PATH process visit:

xi. North Star Facilitator’s 2009 Diversity Cohort project.

xii. Grove Tools, Inc. The Personal Compass.