A Written Reflection

September 30, 2011 3 comments

As a strong “ideator” who uses “connectedness” in all things and is an extreme extrovert, so much of how I process my thinking and move it forward happens in conversations with people.   It has been a very effective method for incubating, creating, and drawing important connections and meaning – all through the privilege of getting to know people better, engaging with them and further developing these relationships.

Like so many other great things in our lives, I’ve found a down-side to these activities.  As the type of person who likes to chase “the shiny new thing” I often find myself fragmented and frenzied.   My head starts swirling in thoughts and I’m physically jazzed-up from the interaction; often waking up with thoughts in the middle of the night.  I found myself just disappearing from these activities by escaping into my work and not moving any ideas forward as a way to refresh from the hype.  I was stuck in this cycle of rapid frenzied movement followed by stagnation and it felt unhealthy, unbalanced, and even ineffective.

I lacked balance.  Focus was missing  Solitary reflection should replace the stagnation in order to quiet the mind, process and understand, draw meaning, and be able to keep moving forward.

I was privileged to participate in a writing / journaling conference hosted by The People House and The Center for Journal Therapy recently.  I learned that journaling and solitary reflection would accomplish both things:  quiet the mind AND continue to move ideas and thinking forward.  I’ve been diligently applying these techniques and feel more balanced, have more insight, and am moving ideas and thinking forward more rapidly and with a calm that I haven’t had before.

The tagline for the conference was:  I write to know what my heart thinks.  It is so true!  I’m great at asking questions, but have lacked the discipline to pursue finding answers, including listening for those answers.  If you have never written as a technique to move your ideas forward, try it!

Reflective Writing Steps:

  1. Set aside 10-15 uninterrupted and quiet minutes to allow the free-flow of your thoughts.
  2. Pick a question (of yourself, of someone or something else, of God, or whomever).  See following examples.
  3. Read more…
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A Moment of Clarity – The Power of Self-Knowledge

September 28, 2011 Leave a comment

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Have you ever had the gift of witnessing one of those “ah ha!” moments when a child / teen / youth / young person / youngun’ realizes something about themselves?  The kind of clarity that maybe you wish you found earlier in your life?  The sort of self-knowledge that can have a huge impact on how you work and interact with others in all kinds of useful circumstance?

I witnessed this with my daughter when I shared some “style” information.  She was able to say “that’s exactly what I do!”  The best part of this experience, however, was to see her put this knowledge to use.  To recognize when she was using her back-up style (aka verbal attack, but we call it “going to the dark side”) and stop it in its tracks.  She redirected her energy and melt-down was avoided. 

Momma, so proud!

The first step is awareness, and then you have the foundation to do something, to put this knowledge to good use.

I challenge you to:

  1. know more about your nature tendencies or style,
  2. define how it affects interactions with the people in your live and your work, and
  3. pick the element that seems to get in the way the most and choose one simple method to get around it in the future.  You might find the following STOP Interview (from Marcus Buckingham) to be a helpful way to think through this step:
    • Can you just Stop doing that behavior?
    • Can you Team up with someone, Transfer the activity to someone else, or Transition to something different?
    • Can you Offer up one of your strengths as an alternative way to deal with the current situation?
    • Can you simply Perceive this behavior from the perspective of your strengths?

Know, and be Free!

Focus on Learning: 5 Tactics to Fuel Your Mind

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As a grad school graduate, I’ve done a great deal of thinking about how to satiate my renewed appetite for learning and how to keep it alive going forward.  It was surprising how easily I had forgotten my own love for learning and never want to be in that position again.

Recent brain science reveals useful information about how we fuel creativity, innovation, and make go-forward changes in our lives by changing the way we think as well as the health benefits of keeping our minds active.  All are tied to fueling the mind and learning.  So the question to ask yourself is…

What are you doing today to fuel your mind and keep learning?

Following are five tactics to consider:

1. Read Different Things

Not just the usual books or reading material that you have always enjoyed, but stretch yourself to read unexpected topics and resources.  Subscribing to various blogs can be a great way to expand exposure to different fields and perspectives.  One thing I do is to always have a couple of different books going.  For example, I am currently reading about Abraham Lincoln’s rise to the presidency and how he built his unique cabinet (history, politics, leadership and team-building), A Passage to India (a classic historical fiction novel), a couple of books on complexity science, a book on how to be a successful “free agent” in the emerging world of work, a fun teen oriented fiction novel from a series that my daughter is also reading, and I just finished a book about the history of philosophy.

Read more…

5 Steps to Make Your Vision for a Balanced Life Possible

August 9, 2011 4 comments

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So many of us struggle with how to have focus in our life and how to find better balance with work and family, and other things we care about.  Following are some steps that I find works best:

Step 1: Define Your Vision

Know what you want in life (&/or what you are called to do) as a mother / wife / family member, as a professional, and as a person (we are more than just our roles of Mom, Wife, and Professional!). Listen to your heart, identify what you get excited and passionate about, talk with people who care about and know you well.  You may find that taking some assessments, doing reflection activities, or even working with a coach can help you find clarity in this step.  The key is to be confident in what you define, write it down, and keep it somewhere where you can review it often. So many people fail in this step and find themselves blown around by other forces instead of creating their own life force by defining what is important, what you want, and creating a vision of what that looks like.

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Embracing Procrastination AND Developing Discipline

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In my quest to better understand how people are uniquely wired so as to better leverage gifts / talents / strengths / type, I learned that chronic procrastination can actually be attributed to certain personality types.  (Ahem … yes, including my own)

 Wow!  It is actually part of how I am wired and that can’t make it wrong, right?  I embrace my procrastination, fully!!!

Yes, there can be benefits to understanding one’s procrastination.  For me, I am EXTREMELY efficient AND effective and even quite creative under the “healthy” tension created towards the end of that procrastination cycle.  I have also come to understand that some behaviors I previously thought were attributed to procrastination in the way I work actually are not.  For example, I cannot just sit down and begin to write or create, I have to learn, think, and talk about it A WHOLE LOT before I’ve formed the idea well enough to begin writing.  Because of the way I mentally process in this way, when I do sit down to write, the ideas are more fully formed and that is part of the reason why I can knock it out so very quickly.

This is just one personal example related to my own unique wiring.  It makes me wonder about others’ and how their unique wiring mixes with procrastination behaviors in different ways.

But what about discipline?  Does a correlation exists between the two?  Do all extreme procrastinators, also consistently lack the ability to develop discipline in all aspects of life?  It can affect home, relationships, health, sleep, spirit, and just about anything else you can think of.

Nothing [is] so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task.”
–William James

After searching for resources on the development of discipline, I failed to find anything connecting the two together.

So, the question becomes:

How do procrastinators embrace the creative attributes that lead to procrastination while also developing discipline capabilities to better work towards and achieve goals?

Maybe there’s another way to look at it, another word besides “discipline”.  This reminds me of the process I use when leading teams through the Go Put Your Strengths To Work process by Marcus Buckingham.  After identifying your weaknesses, look at them through the lens of your strengths.  How might you re-frame weaknesses or use your strengths to accomplish the desired outcome as a way to skirt those weaknesses?

In the same way, how might you analyze your procrastination through the lens of your unique strengths?  How might you even leverage your strengths / preferences / type to overcome some of the negative affects of procrastination while still harnessing some of the creative benefits?

The Intersection of Social Media, Organization Change, and Complexity Science

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An interesting intersection exists in organizations between social media technology and practices, knowledge management programs (including communities of practice), learning strategy, change leadership, and organizational philosophy about the use of each.

Social media can be leveraged internally in organizations in the form of collaboration systems, learning management systems, blog and tweet tools and social networking tools (whether they are exclusively behind the firewall or leverage public spaces such as FB, LI, and twitter).  Use of these tools in conjunction with a change initiative can also have reciprocal value in that it can increase utilization / adoption of the social tools and processes as well.

Change initiatives within organizations absolutely should consider the social fabric that currently exists, the technology currently available and used within an organization, and the informal leadership that have significant influence via the social network. These should be considered as part of the overall change plan and included explicitly in the form of communication plan tactics and tactics to help identified stakeholders and stakeholder groups to transition along the change curve.

Change management / leadership consultants (whether internal or external) should become familiar with social / organizational network analysis (SNA / ONA), types of web 2.0/3.0 and social technologies available and used within client organizations, and understand how the world of social networking is a critical element of organizational culture and change behavior.  Conversely, the use of social tools and processes in conjunction with a change initiative should be considered in conjunction with an overall organizational social media strategy.

The social world we now must understand and leverage does add a layer of complexity to our work. Understanding organizations as complex adaptive systems (via complexity science) can be an extremely helpful lens as we (consultants) analyze current state and develop change plans accordingly. In the end, it’s all about creating environments where positive change can emerge and social networks often (maybe even always, now) play a central role.

The Perfect Storm for Happiness at Work

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Are you happy at work?  Do your clients speak of their own happiness?  Do your clients increasingly express interest in finding meaning and happiness in their work?

We may just be in the fortunate position to witness and thrive in a Happiness at Work Perfect Storm; a set of conditions that makes workplace happiness possible in partnership with organizational productivity and outcomes.

At the Fall 2010 Colorado Career Development Association conference, Mark Guterman shared about the Changing Paradigm of Work.  He spoke of how work in the late 20th to 21st century is all about mind and heart coordination compared to emphasis on eye & mind coordination or hand and eye coordination from earlier in the 20th century.  Several conditions contributing to this new paradigm can be observed.

A more foundational condition relates to how the chasm between traditional science and spiritually opposing perspectives is shrinking.


Recent scientific explanations about how the brain works speaks to many of the same concepts as spirituality and holistic human views have long demonstrated.  For example, the 2004 award-winning documentary, What the BLEEP Do We Know draws from quantum physics to demonstrate the power of the brain to understand and even influence reality (scientific perspective).  In comparison, the best-selling book, The Secret, by Rhonda Byrne describes the law of attraction, the power of the mind to attract wealth, health, and happiness (spirituality perspective).

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