Posts tagged: bottom-up motivation


By , April 20, 2009 4:47 pm

 Empowerment Organization is a method for motivating people “from the bottom up.” It includes “The One Small Thing” exercise, looking for a small action that many people will feel able to take as the first step in building grass-roots, bottom-up empowerment and community involvement.

 Here is a wonderful example of “One Small Thing,” The Penny Harvest fund-raiser sponsored at elementary schools throughout the USA  by the Common Cents Organization. Begun in 1991 when four-year-old Nora Gross asked her father, co-founder Teddy Gross,  for help in feeding a homeless man, since then, over $7 million in pennies has been collected by school children and used to found a variety of projects in their local area.

Not only are pennies collected throughout neighborhoods, but then the students spend weeks  learning about the grant-making process from the bottom up, eventually deciding on their own where Penny Harvest grants will be made.

I quote from the article written by Darcy Tomky for the Holyoke Enterprise (MA) newspaper , “Elementary Students Explore The Penny Harvest Grant-Making Process” (I have removed the names of students mentioned):

     With 1,020 pounds of pennies collected, Holyoke elementary and high school students have dived into the second phase of the Penny Harvest philanthropic project.
     The students have the opportunity to award a $1,000 grant to a non-profit organization. Now the question is: who should receive the money?
     A roundtable committee made up of 14 elementary students has been formed to answer that question. Meeting once a week with high school sponsor T_____ and her high school leadership class student coaches, they are learning about the grant making process…
     …The students have devoted themselves to being “a group of committed people working together to help meet important needs in the community.”
     On their fourth week of the project, T_____ noted the students have learned about the democratic process by taking oaths and assigning roles such as president and secretary. They have also explored terms like community and philanthropy.
     According to high schooler B_____, the project is not just about giving away money; it is also focused on service. One of the objectives of the Penny Harvest is to improve neighborhoods through service projects the students will plan and execute in addition to awarding a grant.
     The next step in the grant making process is to “identify the issue the kids as a whole care about,” said T____. The roundtable discussed the question, “What do you see around you that you want to see changed?”
     The roundtable developed a survey to find out what issues other elementary students care about. The survey, distributed by roundtable members on Thursday, March 5, gave students several options of who they would like to receive the funds such as sick animals, people without homes, disabled children and elderly people.
     Once the issues are narrowed down, students will research the them to find what causes the problems and ways to solve or improve the situation. The high school coaches will also research specific non-profit organizations that address those issues.
     The next step in the process will be to conduct an application and interview process with the non-profits. Students will follow up with letters of acceptance or decline.
     Once a non-profit is chosen, the roundtable will finish up by planning a celebration party for elementary students and the recipient of the Penny Harvest grant. They hope to award the check in late spring.”

This is bottom-up motivation: everyone can donate and collect pennies. With that first step comes community involvement in the larger project, helping students learn about service and providing services for those in need.

See Empowerment Organization for more examples and “The One Small Thing” Focusing exercise.

Creative Edge Focusing (TM)’s Culture of Creativity  fights apathy by engaging every person  at the Creative Edge of individual experiencing. Whether in Creative Edge Education or Creative Edge Organizations, Listening/Focusing Turns are used as a basic method for helping people to find and articulate their own Creative Edge.

Creative Edge Focusing and Creative Edge Listening can be used for problem solving at home and at work, alone, in parenting and relationships, during interpersonal conflict, and in group or community decision making situations. The Creative Edge Pyramid describes applications from Focusing Alone to Creative Edge Organizations.

For application in business settings, see my article, “Creative Edge Organizations: Businesses and Organizations As A ‘Kind’ Of Focusing Community” from The Folio: Thirtieth Anniversity Tribute edition at The Focusing Institute, .


Free Downloads:

Complete Focusing Instructions Manual (17 pages)

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Creative Edge Focusing ( ) teaches two basic self-help skills, Intuitive Focusing and Focused Listening, which can be applied at home and at work through The Creative Edge Focusing Pyramid.

Based upon Gendlin’s Experiential Focusing ( ) and Rogers’ Empathic Listening, our website is packed with Free Resources and instructions in these basic self-help skills. Learn how to build Support Groups, Conscious Relationships, and Creative Edge Organizations based upon these basic skills of emotional intelligence.

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 See  Core Concept: Conflict Resolution to find a complete mini-course on Interpersonal Focusing and Conflict Resolution, including Rosenberg’s Non-Violent Communication, Blanchard’s “One Minute Apology,” Patricia Evan’s books on Verbally Abuse and Controlling Relationships, McMahon’s Beyond The Myth Of Dominance, and much more.

See  Core Concept: Intimate Relationship to find a complete mini-course on increasing intimacy and sexuality, including the “Sharing Your Day” exercise, Listening/Focusing Partnerships for The Way of Relationship, untangling and equalizing desire, tantric sexuality, and much more.

Download complete Instant “Ahah!” Mini-Manual, in English and Spanish, from CEF Website, or download from links at top of this blog.

Find links to free articles, personality tests, multi-media Self-Help training, Classes and workshops

Dr. Kathy McGuire, Director

Creative Edge Focusing (TM)


By , June 12, 2008 12:40 pm

Interest Areas: Seven Places To Start Practice Groups !!!

The Interest Areas under “Is This You” at The Creative Edge Focusing website ( ) give the First Ten Steps you might take to bring the model of Listening/Focusing into seven whole different areas of living: Organizations, Support Groups and Communities, Relationships, Parenting, Education, Spiritual Communities, and Helping Professions (psychotherapy, counselling, medicine, body work, etc.).

In the next e-newsletters, I will introduce you to each of these Interest Areas and possible First Steps so that you might start a Listening/Focusing practice group in any of these areas.


Below you will find the Introduction to bringing Creative Edge Focusing into businesses, corporations, non-profits, volunteer organizations, any place that has meetings. From  with active links to website descriptions of core concepts:

Core Principles of Creating At The Edge

The Creative Edge Organization Method ensures maximum creativity and motivation at every level by encouraging Intuitive Focusing by individuals and Coordinated Collaboration in groups and teams

Maximum motivation arises when people are encouraged to create their lives and solutions to problems from their own Creative Edge.

When organizational structures lose touch with The Creative Edge of individuals, apathy is created.

True change, at any level, from personal to global, happens by engaging The Creative Edge El Borde Creativo of individual human beings. There is no lasting way to impose change from the outside. Lasting change is empowered from the individual entering into collaborative action with other individuals.

The Core Skills of Focused Listening and Intuitive Focusing provide the basic method for individuals, alone, in pairs, or in groups, to access The Creative Edge of thinking and experiencing from which totally new ideas and solutions can arise. They increase creativity and deepen communication and support in any volunteer organization or for-profit corporation.

The Creative Edge Pyramid

The seven methods of The Creative Edge Pyramid insure the application of the Core Skills at every level of organization:

Focusing Alone allows an individual to access the Creative Edge, anytime, anywhere.
Focusing Partnership provides a structure where pairs of individuals can help each other to articulate from The Creative Edge.
Interpersonal Focusing can be used to find The Creative Edge inherent in interpersonal conflicts.
Focusing Groups/Teams support continued Creative Edge exploration.
Collaborative Edge Decision Making provides structures for access to the Creative Edge during group and team meetings, creating innovative, win/win decisions.
Focusing Communities use Listening/Focusing skills to welcome diversity and overcome conflict.
Creative Edge Organization, including The One Small Thing component, insures motivation and “buy-in” from the bottom up, The Creative Edge of each individual.

Focusing and Group Decision Making

The fast-paced, argumentative, competitive nature of much group decision making discussion makes it impossible for anyone to pay attention to and speak from The Creative Edge, the right-brain, “intuitive feel” which can contain the newest, freshest, most innovative solutions. Given the energy expended on simply trying to interrupt and get a turn, participants cannot really listen to the contributions of others.

Under Instant “Ahah!” Collaborative Thinking, you’ll find the simple “How To’s” for groups which Dr. McGuire discovered when she undertook research to describe the difference between aggressive, competitive, and “listening” task-oriented groups. More on Focusing and Group Decision Making.

Win/Win Decision-Making

The most creative solutions, either in individual or in group decision-making, arise when the individual or the group is able to sit with polarized oppositions and wait until a newly-created “third way” can arise. We call this a “win/win” decision : instead of a painful compromise where each side really gives up more than they are willing to, and, later, finds reasons not to carry out the decision, a “win/win” decision, a totally new option, really does contain enough aspects from both sides to produce satisfaction, and thus motivation.

Pure consensual decision making can be extremely time-consuming, since no action can be taken until every member agrees to go along with it. The Collaborative Edge Decision Making (CEDM) method includes the use of Coordinated Collaboration as a method for brainstorming from the bottom/up without having decision-making bog down. More on Win/Win Decision Making.

Bite-sized Projects

The Creative Edge Organization method, with The One Small Thing component, continually breaks down projects to the level where as many individuals as possible can be actively involved in problem solving and decision-making from The Creative Edge and in carrying out projects.

This gives participants a feeling of “ownership” of the group’s work and also the benefits to community building of working together on a joint goal. Although top/down hierarchical structures can also be used for aspects of the work, The One Small Thing component works from the bottom/up to involve every person actively in action and decision-making where that is possible. More on Bite-Sized Projects.

See Instant “Ahah!” Empowerment Organization for a Focusing exercise to find “The One Small Thing.”


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Click here to subscribe to our Instant “Ahah!” e-newsletter and get the latest exercises first!!!

 See blogs under Category: Conflict Resolution in the sidebar to find a complete mini-course on Interpersonal Focusing and Conflict Resolution, including Rosenberg’s Non-Violent Communication, Blanchard’s “One Minute Apology,” Patricia Evan’s books on Verbally Abuse and Controlling Relationships, McMahon’s Beyond The Myth Of Dominance, and much more.

Download complete Instant “Ahah!” Mini-Manual, in English and Spanish, from CEF Website

Find links to free articles, personality tests, multi-media Self-Help training, Classes and workshops

Dr. Kathy McGuire, Director

Creative Edge Focusing (TM)

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