Where do we create and practice Cultural Intuitiveness™? Where is the studio in which we cultivate the artful dynamic of our evolving selves?

Our studio is not one place for our work, a structure with four walls and perhaps window.

Our studio is our family and friends from whom we receive inspiration and insight as we work at our own cultural intuitiveness™.  This time with others provides continual insight to living out values and principles and helps to infuse our connections with those whom we work.

Our studio is our time alone activities whether this be swimming and art for Carol and long runs, story writing for D. G. This time alone provides moments of great clarity especially to think and feel what we need and want to do next as we continue our journey.

Our studio is meetings with others practicing Cultural Intuitiveness™ whether that be group calls and one-on-one calls with those working the practice for the first time or with those who are certified and continuing the process of sharpening their ( and by interaction our) skills.

Our studio is interacting beyond our circle of family and friends, going to conferences, reading the newspaper.  Listening and observing others who have differing political, social and economic and communication style points of view.  Seeing where we fit, and where we do not fit.  Bending, moving, going under, going over as we continue our path of trust, transparency, transmission of self, allowing others to impact us and to appreciate and accept those impacts, growing in our power to become more steady in our position and posture ourselves to move forward and to sustain our growth.

Our studio is the continual movement of ourselves and others.  Receiving feedback from a respectful place, hearing the voices of these reflections, and learning to work with them so as to continue to propel ourselves beyond today, honoring our past and excited about our future – all in the same moment of time and space.

This is our studio.  Walls, no walls, windowless, all windows.  And this is our wish, to continue to have the opportunity to grow in our cultural intuitiveness™ and continue to assist others to grow in their own.  We do not have to live physically next door (over 250 miles separate our individual residences) but to live together in a greater sense of sharing who we are and who we are becoming.

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At Community Systems Investments International/CSII, our goal for the long term is that the underlying perspectives of the Cultural Intuitiveness™ values become more of the norm in communities which are influenced and led by those who have chosen to learn and practice the process.

  1. That communities are able to grow beyond conflict—that the conflict made their connections stronger not torn asunder.
  2. That communities know what they need and want to be sustainable by taking time to contemplate their decisions not being subject to unintended consequences that accompany snap decisions.
  3. That communities are open to differing ideas–to being fed with differing ideas as well as offering differing ideas–by starting their communication about aspects that they share and have in common, not by what makes them different.
  4. That communities thrive regardless of the context, not bending or breaking so much that they slowly fade away.
  5. That communities large and small continue to move forward, embracing growth and following their paths in peace-filled and productive means.

Over the next five years we plan to continue the introduction of the practice of Cultural Intuitiveness™ in a variety of communities, no matter how they may self-define, and share the impacts of these embedding processes.  The communities we hope to engage in CI include the economic community, the health community, the youth-serving community, the faith community and the law enforcement community.

Five goals we will be working to accomplish in the next 12 months are:

  1. Continue to increase the respect of others for the values and habits of Cultural Intuitiveness™ by expanding the offering of the Cultural Intuitiveness™ Institute.
  2. Strengthen the voice of those who have experienced the impacts of enhancing their cultural intuitive nature by publishing their reflections in journals, on web-pages and at other points for experience exchange.
  3. Cooperate with others who are working for a similar vision–one of peace-filled productive realization of the individual and community potential–by inviting in critique and expanding our tool box.
  4. Build together a strengthened process for others to learn, practice and report about the impact of being more culturally intuitive in their individual communities.
  5. Incorporate these four principles (respect, voice, cooperate, build) and five values into our individual daily life actions with no division between professional and personal circles. We are all the architects of our lives, after all. If I do not seek to embed the four principles and five values into my life, certainly no one else is going to do so.

Of all the work we do through Community Systems Investments International/CSII, D.G. and I are most proud of the Cultural Intuitiveness™ process. We began laying the groundwork for the CI process during our work developing and providing technical assistance to states and communities addressing issues of system change, sustainability and community engagement. Agencies and organizations across the country were seeking to ensure that their work and services were culturally competent, yet there were varying definitions of cultural competency and limited standards for its application. D.G. himself was a trainer in the area of cultural competence when he worked with the area of mental health in Kentucky and found when he changed positions to work within the area of substance abuse  prevention that the definition and appreciation of cultural competency had sometimes nuanced and at other times rather different meanings both in context and application.

Separate from, yet connected to our desire to increase cultural connections and further make real the concepts of cultural competency, we were given the opportunity to train a team of coaches who were assigned to work with groups of communities. Our technical assistance mission was to serve as a facilitator of knowledge transfer, helping community organizers gain the skills to implement effective, evidence based practices for social and health behavior change. Yet in many cases attitudes stood in the way of the adoption of better, more effective practices.   We learned over time that for those who were seeking to help facilitate the use of best practices in their community, the job was easier when they were clear what they were trying to provide to others and what the attitudes were of those they were trying to offer it to. To better assess and appreciate those attitudes, we began developing a series of reflective questions that we helped our clients use to connect to the information they needed to inform themselves about their community context. We helped them reflect on these connections. We found that the more they took time to reflect on what they really needed, the better prepared they were to enter into thoughtful communication with others, better prepared to hear others’ perspectives and better prepared to appreciate the readiness of others to hear theirs. We taught them to think about the contexts—economic, social, political, communication– that shaped the perspectives of those they were trying to provide services to and to identify ways to connect with them that would emphasize an appreciation of what they held in common. Their job was to work respectfully with each community they served, cultivate trusting relationships in which they could hear and be heard by their community partners, cooperate with diverse partners to help them value, learn and apply new skills and adopt more effective practices, and build effective community coalitions that could transform their communities.

Watching this team evolve as we applied our emerging tools and approaches strengthened our resolve to continue to take the Cultural Intuitiveness™ from concept to application.  As we learned what worked, what was important to think about when approaching a new partnership in which you hope to make forward progress together through shared efforts, we began to formalize our unique approach.  This approach, Cultural Intuitiveness ™,  became a distinct approach that extends the limited boundaries of cultural competency beyond the organizational setting to all realms of life. We do not believe that effective meaningful conversations and cooperation should only be the realm of organizational life—they are certainly needed at home with our families and in all our shared communities.

We began sharing our insights through presentations and day long workshops. After several trials, we realized that without follow up coaching to encourage effective practice, exposure to the basic concepts in a workshop was not enough to fully appreciate how to apply the values and tools.  Over several years we have refined and clarified the process so that we could clearly communicate what it is and how practicing the 5 core values of CI can transform relationships and lead to more effective and satisfying interactions in all aspects of life, helping people evolve to their true selves.  We now provide Cultural Intuitiveness™ training through a one and a half day institute in which we guide small groups of nominees through the background and concepts of CI. Those who complete the Institute and wish to become CI certified become CI candidates who receive 5 months of one on one and group coaching in their application of the 5 CI values. When they complete the coaching, we certify them with a certification ceremony. We now provide ongoing booster sessions to provide even deeper practice proficiency.

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Cultural Intuitiveness Work Books

Developing Cultural Intuitiveness has certainly been a labor of love not unlike giving birth to a child. It is our greatest accomplishment, the one my partner D.G. Mawn and I are most proud of, the one we hope we can expand for many years to come so that Cultural Intuitiveness™ becomes an accepted approach to evolve to our true selves.

Visit our website to learn more about us and watch our video about Cultural Intuitiveness! http://www.communitysystemsonline.com/

Cultural Intuitiveness emerged from the theories that underpin cultural competency and the criticism that while seemingly important for professionals to work effectively in cross cultural settings, there was no evidence what cultural competency techniques were effective.  We sought to apply the theories in everyday life and extend the understanding of culture to include the multiple cultures we each share in our personal and professional realms.  To be culturally intuitive is to appreciate how your experience, attitude and behavior can minimize offense to others by being truthful and transparent to whom you are in a manner that invites trust, allowing others to hear you and for you to accept what you hear from others.  As we have developed and taught the principles and tools of Cultural Intuitiveness, we have also tried to document its effects through evaluations of our institutes and interviews with our students. Those who practice CI consistently report that they have a better appreciation of their own values and needs and therefore are better able to approach their collaborative conversations with others in a manner that invites trust. Because they are more thoughtfully prepared for their meaningful conversations, those who regularly practice CI report that they can be transparent in their conversations, can confidently and respectfully speak their truth without regrets. They experience more effectiveness in their relationships at work, more open and honest communication with their friends and family. And these benefits expand like the ripples from a pebble on the water, impacting beyond those who are trained, intentional CI practitioners.

As we look ahead, we hope that we can expand the reach of Cultural Intuitiveness so that its power can be felt by many, many more. Perhaps in the near future, you too will become a practitioner of Cultural Intuitiveness. We think it’s habit forming!

Our Motto: Respect. Voice. Cooperate. Build.

For anything to be sustainable, real, lasting, the starting place is respect, from which we have the strength to speak our truths and hear the truths of others. In this commonness, we have the faith to cooperate with one another and build our world together.

Through our work at CSII, we practice and teach the powerful practice of Cultural Intuitiveness(TM), which allows us to bring this motto to life for ourselves each day and for those we creatively collaborate with. This is the foundation of all we do. We look forward to sharing insights about our creative approach to respectful, cooperative, creative forward movement over the next 15 days of the C4Ward Blogathon and to hearing from others about their creative journeys and practice.

We want to take some time over the next few weeks to respond to some questions we have received recently regarding Cultural Intuitiveness and the practice of the 5 values. The first question concerns Value 1 Connectors.  

 Q: Why should I reflect on the value my connections, those people and organizations I am connected with that are sources of knowledge, information or feelings, including those I trust as well as those I may not agree with?  Why is it important for me to be more aware of these connections in my life? 

 

A:  In short, if you believe that you want to be able to see yourself and your place in the world with clarity, be creative, connected with your family, your co-workers, and your neighbors, then you need to reflect upon the connections you have because they are what provides you with the fuel to fill your engine.  By taking time to reflect on them, you are honoring and respecting their influence in guiding you in your decision-making, your choices, and your development. Each connection you have is a facet of you and meets the complex mix of your thoughts, feelings, wants and needs. 

As you become more attuned to your connections, asking questions or exploring the information they provide for greater clarity rather than just assuming you “get it” shows your connectors that you value and respect the information they convey that reveals their thoughts, feelings, needs and wants. If you feel that whatever position you hold, wherever you are on your life’s path, it is your right—perhaps even your responsibility–to ask questions, then you should question your connections and the information they provide.  Your exploration may also reveal personal blind spots you had overlooked. Acknowledging and exploring your blind spots—your biases, if you will—may lead you to greater openness to new, richer and deeper connections in your life.

Practice valuing connectors (Value 1 of Cultural Intuitiveness). Explore your connections, question for clarity, observe how they mirror your feelings, your values, your needs and your blind spots so that you can evolve to make new and stronger connections that can meet your needs for creativity, clarity and closeness with your family, co-workers and neighbors.–Carol and D.G.

“Keep your thoughts positive because your thoughts become your words. Keep your words positive because your words become your behaviors. Keep your behaviors positive because your behaviors become your habits. Keep your habits positive because your habits become your values. Keep your values positive because your values become your destiny” –Gandhi

This week D.G. and I will be introducing the power of Cultural Intuitiveness to a third cohort of members from a community team we have the pleasure to coach toward their shared vision. Cultural Intuitiveness provides a process and practical tools for the mindful practice of Gandhi’s words. Moving forward with others–family, colleagues and co-workers, or community members–toward a common vision is most productive and satisfying when we recognize and respect that we each bring value to the effort, when we use our voice in a manner that lets us hear each other’s words (even those we may not agree with), when our behaviors reflect a desire and need to respectfully cooperate so that we can continue our work to build what is needed to achieve our shared vision–our destiny. These behaviors become “positive habits” when we mindfully incorporate the 5 values of Cultural Intuitiveness–ConnectorsContemplationCommunicationContextContinuation–in all our daily conversations. As Gandhi advised, the path to your destiny begins with your thoughts, words, and deeds. Cultural Intuitiveness helps you “keep it positive” so that you can work with others to create your desired destiny.