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3 short stories with a lot of SALT

1. The wedding

Suddenly the energy changes in the room. More than 60 people turn their minds into reflection. Gentle smiles occur throughout the room. I am at the wedding diner of my twin brother in the Netherlands. One minute ago, I took the microphone and invited people to express what they appreciate in the newlywed couple. ‘What strengths do you observe in this couple?’ What follows is a truly heart-warming and sincere flow of unique contributions ranging from parents to close friends. I write everything down in a little notebook so that the couple can be reminded of their unique strengths whenever they feel like.

Many of my family and friends find this an exceptional and heart-warming exercise. People admit it is not a very obvious thing to do. Some share they want to express more often their appreciation and what they learn from others. I smile to myself: It’s my holiday, but I am still spreading SALT all the way!

Two days ago, my twin brother told me that the outcomes of the exercise still strengthen him in his everyday life.

2. My brother in Cambodia

A few days after the wedding I fly back to Thailand. A 2-week travel with my oldest brother Dino has brought us closer than anything before. Not so much the great river rafting, the good diners, the horrible bus rides or the great views. What made the difference were the deep conversations we had about life and my invitation to him to join the National Learning Event in Cambodia.

Together with ‘just-married’ Claire and Laurence, we facilitated a 3-day learning event in Phnom Penh. Well, I should maybe say: ‘the Cambodian facilitators facilitated a 3-day learning event’. I have seldom seen such an energy, commitment and passion in a group. I can summarize the event in 2 words: Ownership and Partnerships. SALT has been applied in families, organizations, communities. ACP workshops were given to dozens of facilitators, other NGOs and even a Ministry. The second day, an outside NGO (ICS) visited as an observer. They were impressed by how the local facilitators presented AIDS Competence in their own way. The participants from 7 NGOs worked together as a team to present and facilitate the peer assists with the communities. The last day, a great common vision was created for a National Facilitation Team in Cambodia. For us as coaches it was not difficult to look for strengths in Phnom Penh.

After the event, my brother finally understood what my work was about. He was deeply inspired. He works in the aerospace industry as a manager of production planning. Was the experience in Cambodia useful for him? He already had made a list of things he can apply in his professional context. The event was an eye-opener: “My staff only talks about problems and risks. People hardly look for strengths. Appreciation is rare. Action planning is not participatory. Knowledge flows only via the middle management”. He is planning to start gradually with a shift in mindset. Perhaps having the people on the work floor develop their common dream. Organize peer assists. Appreciate more as a manager. Interesting how our concepts flows back to the private sector again through family transfer .

3. Real care

Yesterday, I came out of the hospital after a serious Dengue fever. With temperatures rising up to 41 C, I am very happy to be sitting healthy behind this computer again. It was interesting to experience first-hand the Thai healthcare system I heard so much about. However, the word that keeps on sticking in my mind after this experience is ‘care’. Care not only by the gentle nurses, but also from my family, friends and last but not least: the Constellation. I felt that the visits, the phone calls (even from Rituu in India!), the text messages all were so sincere. They also prevent me to start working again too early without full recovery. In my view, this is again a unique organizational aspect. I express my thanks to all and as with every blog posting I end the same: I smile :).

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Comment by Aude on November 1, 2008 at 2:22pm
Wonderful Gaston what you write and that you are now in good health. I'm happy for that and think of you.
All of your post are amazing and richs, so rich ! I learn all the time about the SALT, your experience. You are so SALT'y and you have so experience to share. It's amazing how you are SALT in all your life. We all have to learn from you. I could be happy to learn all the time from you and also when you will come back in Belgique, in BelCompetence. I miss you, we miss you.
Thanks for your sharing !
Wonderful in the wedding, your brother and his wife had to be very affected and learn a lot about their strenghts and what they are. wonderful day for them with the SALT.
All stories, like also in papua, are powerfull !
Take care of you*

Comment by Jean-Louis Lamboray on November 1, 2008 at 10:45am
So happy to read you again!

And, yes please, don't get back to work too fast. Recovery is a great period for reflection and starting afresh...

Your friend

Comment by Marlou on October 31, 2008 at 2:47pm
Hi Gaston - a big big smile in return. Happy to feel your energy back again - and hope you will be climbing soon as on the picture. Amazing what a small tiny musquito can do to a tall tough guy - but he didnot get the SALT out! A bientot!

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