MBTI – Day Two

On day two, Sunil explained the Sensing (S) and Intuition (N) pairings.  The S tends to focus on present experience and enjoys using and refining the known and familiar, whereas the I tends to focus on future possibilities and enjoys experimenting with the new and the different.

He described the S as people who prefer the factual and the concrete, taking in information from the five senses and preferring clear and complete instructions.  The I people are those who are imaginative and creative, and who like to learn different things in different ways. They like making up and idea more than producing it.

Sunil then went on to the thinking (T) and feeling (F) types where the former solves problems with logic and are good at analysing plans.  The latter (F) considers what matters to others and are good at understanding people, and tends to help by appreciating the positive first.

Both T and F are ways we make decisions.

Myers Briggs Type Indicator

The morning began with a welcome ceremony for Br Eric Anguolo, who has just joined the OP from Ghana.  During the ceremony, his biography was read and he was presented with a Maasai shawl and a welcome letter.

Sunil then began a three-day workshop on the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI).  The entire workshop was run in a most creative and interactive manner.  He began by giving a brief historical background on the creation of the MBTI, stressing both the work of Carl Jung and of Katherine Briggs and her daughter, Isabel Briggs Myers.

He stressed that the MBTI is not a test but rather an indication .  It does not measure intelligence, maturity or emotional health.  Sunil stressed that the questionnaire has no right or wrong answers, and that all the types have potential strengths and blind spots

Sunil then went on to explain the Extraversion (E) and Introversion (I) indicators, showing how the former is drawn towards the outer world, while the latter is more drawn towards the inner world.  He explained that the extravert gets energy by doing things and being active, while the introvert gets energy taking time alone. Again the E has broad interests in many things, while the I focuses more in depth on a fewer number of interests.


The sessions today centred on the question of Eucharist.  Donal invited the Brothers to share their experience of Eucharist.  He then went on to discuss the understanding that Brothers had of Eucharist and invited them to reflect both on their experience and understanding of what Eucharist means in contemporary spirituality.

Personal and Community Spirituality


Today was devoted to exploring Brothers’ personal and communal spirituality.  Using the spiral, Brothers traced their development in spiritual growth and practices.  This exercise, done individually first and then in the large group, led to very interesting sharing and opened up the idea of the journey in spiritual awareness.  Sister Alba facilitated the day which was both rich and challenging.

Leadership and Generative Conversations

Donal introduced the concept of Generative Conversations as devised by Matthieu Daum. A summary of the seven principles follows:

  1. Slowing down and noticing more of what is present: often as we enter a conversation (especially in an organisational context), we come filled with thoughts, ideas, or concerns related to what just happened earlier today, or what is scheduled to happen just after this conversation. This first principle invites us to enter the present moment, and slow down all this mental activity linked to past and future
  2. Listening with all my senses: we could be forgiven for thinking that listening only involves the ears. But in fact all our other senses are important in the act of listening. Sight of course, for it helps us read body language – another crucial conveyor of meaning. But expressions such as “what I heard left me with a bitter”, or “I warmed up to him after listening to this”, or even “this situation doesn’t smell right” shows how much all of our senses are involved in connecting to a reality that we are hearing. In fact, by heightening our 5 senses, we also reduce our often hyperactive cerebral cortex, thus managing to listen not only with our head, but also with our heart
  3. Listening to the words / images chosen: speaking is like painting with words; as we speak, we choose (even if sometimes unconsciously) specific words – and not others – to paint a picture of the reality we are attempting to describe. As a listener, it is crucial to notice those words, the images they convey, the power (or dullness) that they hold, so that we really try to inhabit that world that is being described. Attention must be placed on unusual words, or slips of the tongue, for they too convey an important meaning about the speaker’s inner world, and the mental models that may be structuring his thinking and his actions
  4. Listening to the emotions conveyed by the person who is talking: emotions are the bedrock of a person’s presence in the world, the roots of someone’s mental models, thoughts, and actions. Listening fully, or even listening to the full person in front of me, requires me to listen to the emotions (s)he conveys. This can be through body language and the choice of words and images (see above), but it will also be through the tone of the voice, its tempo, its pitch; through the silences as well as the hesitations
  5. Suspending judgement: this is probably one of the most difficult of these 7 principles, yet probably one of the most crucial. It means suspending both moral and cognitive judgement. By moral judgement, I mean splitting into good or bad, acceptable or unacceptable, mature or immature, etc. For a true, authentic dialogue, this moral judgement needs to be suspended whilst I am listening, so that I can truly get into the lived experience of what it is like to be the person who’s speaking. It doesn’t mean that I have to agree with it, or accept it; just that I let it coexists with my own perspective. If you are still not convinced, try to imagine being judged as you speak – your perspective, and who you are, not being allowed into this space of Dialogue … Equally, it is important to suspend my cognitive judgement, i.e. my tendency to classify or dismiss what I am hearing into true and false, new thinking or old thinking, right-wing or left-wing, etc. As well as my tendency to finish someone’s sentence for them, as if I knew before they spoke what they are actually going to say
  6. Noticing what I don’t understand or what triggers questions for me, rather than what I don’t like about what I hear. I would argue that we greatly underestimate how much we don’t actually understand in what someone is telling us. Working often in international context, I have come to observe that the greatest misunderstandings happen between people who speak the same language, and not those who are trying to express themselves through a foreign language. So checking my understanding rather than working on assumptions and shortcuts in meaning is crucial. If I come to feel that I don’t like what I am hearing, rather than dismissing it, this is the time to check that I have understood correctly – rather than jumped to conclusions – and if the feeling continues, use it to clarify what questions it raises for me rather than stay in a place of judgement
  7. What do I feel as I listen to what is being said – and why? Finally, just as it was crucial to tune to the feelings of the one who is speaking, it is fundamental to connect to my own feelings as I am listening. On the one hand, it may provide useful information into the reality being presented. On the other hand, it is a prerequisite before the second act in Dialogue: Generative Speaking. If I don’t pay attention to the feelings that have been evoked by what I heard, I will not be able to constructively respond to what I heard; instead, I will merely act out my inner state, thus putting the Dialogue at risk.

Donal then outlined four approaches to leadership, showing how the participative, traditional and visionary styles have inherent difficulties, and so he proposed a model of visionary leadership.

In the afternoon, Alba introduced a method of the prayer of quiet by focusing on how our breath can provide an anchor as we engage in the prayer of quiet.

A Visit to Karura Forest

Today, being a free day, the Brothers went to Karura Forest to the place where Wangar1 Maathai fought to preserve the integrity of the urban green space

Karura Forest is an urban space in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya. The forest was gazetted in 1932 and is managed by the Kenyan Forest Service in conjunction with the Friends of Karura Forest Community Forest Association.

Karura Forest is 1,041 ha (2,570 acre) consisting of three parts separated by Limuru and Kiambu roads. The large middle portion is ca. 710 ha (1,750 acres). The portion to the east of Kiambu road has been allocated to special national priorities. As of mid-2016, 36% of the forest contains indigenous upland forest tree species. The forest is home to some 200 species of bird as well as suni, Harveys Duiker, bushbucks, bush pigs, genets, civets, honey badgers, bush babies, porcupines, Syke’s monkeys, bush squirrels, hares, fruit bats, and various reptiles and butterflies. Karura now has over 50 km of trails for visitors to walk, run or bike.

Due to its proximity to a growing city, there had been plans to reduce the forest in favour of housing and other development. However, these plans were controversial with conservationists. In the late 90s there were housing projects that would have excised portions of the forest. Conservationists, led by Wangari Maathai, the leader of the Green Belt Movement,who later became a Nobel Peace Prize  Laureate, carried out a much publicised campaign for saving the forest. Karura Forest became also a symbol of controversial land grabbing in Kenya.

The Five Ps of Engagement in a Group

David presented the theory of John Dabell on how people engage in a group at different levels.  The five Ps summarise these five ways:

  1. Participant

Someone who gets involved and participates. This is a ‘player’ who wants to learn and is enthusiastic and fully engaged with the process. They are active, enjoying it and positive.

  1. Passenger

Someone who is happy just to sit back. This person won’t disrupt the session but won’t engage with it or play an active role.

  1. Protester

Someone who will disagree and argue and often tries to go a different way sometimes just to be awkward. They will say “but that won’t work” and shake their head. They can also be disinterested in a task/activity and want everybody to know it. They will complain, respond negatively and are disruptive and disengaged.

  1. Prisoner

Someone who feels trapped and wants to escape. The session is an uncomfortable experience and their body language will speak volumes (folded arms, sullen demeanour).

  1. Pilot

Someone who guides and leads. This person is happy to get hands-on and set a course. They take control.

David, having explained the 5Ps, invited the group to break into five groups of two, each taking one of the Ps.  He asked the group to identify the behaviours that could be observed in each of the Ps and the behaviours that would not be observed in each of the Ps.  The results of their work were then summarised on newsprint and then posted on a wall for the participants to view and reflect upon.

In the afternoon, David presented the method of centering prayer and gave the Brothers some private time to reflect on the method and some time in two groups.  Finally, everyone had the opportunity to practise centering prayer.

Standards of Presence

Sunil presented a very imaginative PowerPoint on the Standards of Presence.  Standards of Presence offers some valuable guidelines for anyone engaging in the learning process.  A summary of the ten principles follows:

  1. Maintain confidentiality

Acknowledging that the bed rock of confidentiality is trust whatever is shared remains within the context and space it was shared. Trust built on a non-judgmental and positive energy that honours and values the magnificence of each person.

  1. Have an open and ‘innocent’ mind and heart

We are like parachutes…we work when we are open. This involves honouring values of childlike trust, humility, wonder, open eyes and heart, curiosity to learn new things, ask questions and show openness to try new things. This involves having a beginner’s mind and a readiness to engage fully in an experience that can inspire and challenge us. (not suspicious or having a know it all attitude, listening to self  and others, expressing fears from  a childlike stance )

 Practice a positive focus

His intention is an invitation to have a positive mindset in relation to persons, situations and learning experiences; looking out for and acknowledging  the positive, expecting positive outcomes, treating others in a positive way by consciously focusing on the strengths of the other and the positive aspects of a situation

  1. Connect at a heart level

It takes us from thinking to a feeling stance, operates from the heart, involves listening and connecting with the heart/feelings, connecting with the other centre to centre, entering into the heart of what is happening and  what is being communicated while upholding values of compassion, empathy from each other. This presupposes getting out of limiting and judgmental mind, taking and accepting persons as they are so that a space is created for persons to honestly share their heartfelt experiences.

  1. Claim my experience as my own.

Connecting with oneself and honouring ones personal experience, making choices that are for my highest good, living responsibly, taking ownership, using I statements while communicating, and making deliberate choices to enter fully in the experience, allowing for self transformation,

  1. Listen deeply and with honor

It involves respect, focusing on the others words, body language, what is said and not said….to re-see or see with fresh eyes, listening to understand the other’s point of view, seeking clarity when things are not clear, offering feedback to clarify and confirming if what was heard was what was communicated, creating a space where a person feels totally listened to.

  1. Give only authentic acknowledgment and support.

This involves genuine, honest, compassionate not counterfeit feedback and support, positive, sincere and honest feed back without exaggeration, appreciating people and taking care to notice and provide positive feedback keeping in mind the cultural nuances, involves also the sensitivity to notice and understand how much feedback to given situation.

  1. Fully receive acknowledgment and support.

This calls for genuine appreciation. It involves connecting to a sense of gratitude within and a verbal acknowledgement for support received, a willingness to err on the side of acknowledging rather than fearing being misunderstood, aware that we lose nothing for being good, a conscious practicing of becoming more and more conscious of what others are doing for us and acknowledging it both in words and deeds, taking care at the same time, not to overdo it. This will facilitate not taking people for granted and making giving positive feedback a way of life.

  1. Practice self care and self responsibility, and allow others to do the same.

Doing to others what we would like them to do to us….involves live and let live attitude, self responsibility involves responsibility and ownership  for our actions, Regular Spiritual recharging will create the space for caring for oneself and will facilitate the joy of  living life to the fullest  and the ability  to serve whole heartedly.

  1. Be fully present.

Presence is at the heart of what we are about. This involves seeing life as a whole experience, being in the flow as we  honour   life as a continuous sacred and safe place, upholding the values of  balance being fully present, awareness of  and responsibility towards what we want to do more of and less of.






Growth and Change

The day began with a prayer on imagining how things can be for someone who dreams big.

Then, Donal led a workshop on growth and change, taking the image of the butterfly that evolves from the caterpillar through the chrysalis stage until the butterfly emerges.  He went on to ask the Brothers if they were willing to dissolve ourselves to become fully alive.  He asked, “Can we allow God to grow up within us?”

He pointed out that the future is not a place we are to go.  Rather we are creating the future and while the future is not clear, we make the path as we journey.

He showed how Jesus was calling people to a metanoia – an invitation to a higher knowledge.  He also quoted Bob Dylan who said, “If we not being busy being born, we are busy dying!” In a sense, he was saying that our hearts need to be broken – broken open for growth to happen.

Finally he explained the process of ENDING – TRANSFORMATION – EMERGENCE.

Then, the Brothers were invited in groups, to share moments when they experienced endings and how they managed them.

Our Way into the Future and the Orientation Program

The day began with a prayer of gratitude led by Sister Alba.  She stressed that if we had only one prayer to say, it would be one of gratitude for everything we have, are and experience.

Then Br Julian McDonald offered a reflection on how Our Way into the Future was the result of an evolutionary process, beginning with the Chapter in Johannesburg (1996) where the idea of the four directions highlighted the themes of vulnerability, a call to the margins, internationality and the Edmund Rice Network, all of which can be seen in the Proposition of Journeying Together. The Chapter of Rome (2002) the theme became  The Heart of Being Brother. During this Chapter, seven insights were identified that became invitations to the Brothers to undertake a change of heart.  In summary, the seven insights were:

  • Deepening the Spirituality of Being Brother
  • Healing and Reconciliation – A Need and a Call
  • Seeking New Brothers
  • Educating the Minds and Hearts of the Young
  • The Edmund Rice Network- The Unfolding Story
  • A Prophetic Call to a Quest for Justice
  • New Wineskins for New Wine

Here again these elements can be identified in the Proposition of Journeying Together.

At the Chapter held in Munnar (2008), the document The Spirit is Moving in Our Midst: Be My Disciples expressed the vision of the Chapter  in the four primal elements of earth, air, fire and water, symbolic ways of realizing the vision which invited us to explore the presence of the Divine in all of creation. Here again this insight lay at the heart of the Proposition and of the eight calls of the Nairobi Chapter (2014).

In the afternoon David introduced the idea of the prayer of quiet, highlighting the fact that there are many ways of praying and encouraging the Brothers to spend twenty minutes each morning in any one of these methods.

The day concluded with a Bread and Wine celebration which remembers the many meals that Jesus had with many diverse people and especially with his Apostles and disciples.