Finding joy in new projects

Gosh, I love new projects! I admit it, my heart beats a little faster and I feel such delight when beginning something new. Happily, in most instances, I get the same feeling of joy when I complete the project.

What’s your style? 

My strengths* of curiosity, creativity, and love of learning lead me into considering many projects. Over time, I have learned to tap into my strength of perspective to keep me from going down every rabbit hole!

From the VIA Character Strengths Survey—showing the”sunny” and the “shadow” sides of my strengths.

Where do your strengths lead you? Where do they get you in trouble? How do you use them to support your endeavors?

Within the past few days, I’ve been working on a few new projects and I’m making time to note my energy and commitment to each. This opportunity for reflection is helpful.

How often do you step back from your projects and the processes that you’re engaged in to assess what’s working for you and what can be sharpened?

As I wrote last week, I am beginning The Sketchbook Project. I am smitten with the idea of a blank canvas! It feels exciting, challenging, daunting and the adventure pulls me in.

Surprisingly, the video of the sketchbook is a peek at the small zine that I created as the final project for the course, Tiny Memoirs, offered by my colleague and friend Julie Gieseke. Truth be told, I discovered in the last week of the course that I had a bigger tiny memoir in me (what a juxtaposition!) that would take too long to complete by our final session, in which we shared our work. So I put that more intensive project aside because it’s really near and dear to my heart and I need time and energy to make it into the gem I believe it can be. So instead, I made a little zine to share my thoughts about receiving and planning for making my very own Sketchbook Project. I loved using several techniques that Julie suggested, tell your memoir in four sentences, show your memoir in six visuals, and consider creating a zine. What fun!

What has captured your curiosity and desire to create lately?

Another project, the upcoming Visual Binge developed by Deepti Jain and Charu Aurora, grabbed my attention yesterday also, as I put the finishing touches on my planning for the session for July 11. I felt such anticipation,  imagining the session and what the participants and I would be doing together.

I’m also looking at a new way of organizing myself. I’ve been trying several different bullet journal formats and honestly, life just feels too full right now and I am unwilling to make the time to create the format that I like using each month, week, and every day. While, I thought I’d have the interest in the energy to devote to making a bullet journal, I’m finding that I don’t. And that’s okay!

A friend of mine, Jane Massengill, mentioned on Instagram how much she likes the Panda Planner. I’m a Passion Planner gal from way back when it was a Kickstarter campaign. I shifted away from it because I wanted to personalize my planner and so I’ve been experimenting with different formats of bullet journaling for over a year. I’m finding, lately life is so full of good things that I’m not willing to devote time and energy to create the layouts and so I am turning to the Panda Planner, to give it a shot. As you can imagine, I downloaded the free PDF and I’m trying out all the different layouts. I want something that’s just right (sounds like Goldilocks and the Three Bears, no?) because I need to put this task behind me so I can move forward. (There’s a visual!)

I have to say that new projects are the spice in my life every week! As you can see, my strength of hope also carries me forward. I just have to be sure I stay on the sunny/positive side of my strengths because the shadow side (overuse of them) can lead to overwhelm… but that’s why I’m picking a new planner!

I am happy to share more ideas about these resources!

The Sketchbook Project

VIA Character Strengths

Visual Binge

Panda Planner

Feel free to book a Connect session with me if you want to learn more about character strengths and how they work in real life. And you might want to check out these resources too

Skillfully Navigating Mistakes

Mistakes come in all shapes and sizes, so to speak.

We all make ‘em.

When is the last time you made a mistake?

My most recent mistake was last night. (Hahaha! I wrote “My last mistake was last night” in my first draft—as if! Though there’s an interesting thought, what if I never made another mistake? Well, I’ll never find out the answer to that question!)

… I expected a course to be available to me, based on my mental calculation of dates, and so wrote customer service to ask about the “problem.“ A little while after writing the email, I realized my error. I immediately wrote to them and apologized for my error. Honestly, it was easy, in part, because it was so clear that I was wrong, and perhaps also that I didn’t have a relationship with them or a position to protect in this instance. Food for thought!

Earlier this week I was interested in an artist’s course. I received information about this tantalizing new opportunity in an email and also saw it on Instagram. As I read the copy and saw the Early Bird pricing I was astonished and delighted.

When I clicked through the link to register for the course, I discovered that the EB price was actually missing a zero… so while it was still a good price, I was disappointed. I also thought the artist should know about the significant error so that she could make the correction. I sent a quick email and received a speedy reply. She said to me that the information was already out there through her e-zine and she couldn’t correct it. I was unsatisfied with that response. I wrote her back and said I understood about ezines going out—I certainly have made my share of typos in writing and always want to recall the writings with errors and yet can’t — so I made the suggestion that she re-post on Instagram. I never heard back from her. It made me think less of her—though perhaps that’s too strong. It does make me wonder about her commitment to clarity, honesty, and transparency. It is just one action of a person so perhaps it is more accurate to say that it colored my impression of her and I am warier of working with her.

We all make mistakes.

And there are all different kinds of mistakes—from typos and wordos to pricing and more. And I wonder about the interrelationship between the kind of mistake made and the range of responses that are possible — from doing nothing to nearly obsessing over it.

In my training to become a member of the bikablo global team, we talked about transparency–sharing our mistakes and looking at them as opportunities for learning. It’s a conversation that I have in all my training programs too—as my mistakes are the chance to talk about how we skillfully work with errors, from both practical and social-emotional perspectives.

In my plorking (playing and working) as a Certified Zentangle Teacher, I share the philosophy of the Zentangle method.

There are no mistakes, we work with what we create and make it beautiful.

If you’ve tangled with me, then you know the pencils that we use in the kits that I send out to participants, have no erasers on them. Some folks are uncomfortable with that reality and that perspective.

On a related note, I’m about to start The Sketchbook Project, sponsored by the Brooklyn Art Library. I’ve wanted to do this for a couple of years and now feels like the right time. I’m delighted to discover that one of their themes for Volume No. Eighteen  is “no erasing.” It feels like a perfect fit! So as you can imagine, I’m going to make the entire book—16 pages, 32 surfaces (front and back)—a compendium of Zentangle patterns. I know I will make mistakes because I will be working with patterns that are new to me in combination with favorites of mine (and I make my share of mistakes with patterns that are familiar to me too). I’m also going to experiment with a variety of media and no doubt that will provide both joys and challenges.

I will most likely see, on a daily basis, how I am working with the mistakes that I make as a part of my journey. I’ll keep you posted on how it goes!

Where are you making mistakes? What are you learning as you work through and beyond them?

Like salt in a recipe… participant engagement is everything!

Quick, tell me the first thing that pops into your head when I say, “You have an opportunity to facilitate a session on the topic of facilitating sessions at a virtual conference.”

What areas immediately come to mind?

Logistics

Number of people, length of session, time of day/time zones, platforms and apps, tech partner, end-of-event survey

Content

Philosophy underlying personal practice, the universe of possible topics to address, resources to share

Processes

Dependent on: group size, platform, participant knowledge with platforms and apps, familiarity with each other

Personal expertise

Philosophy re: facilitation, knowledge of models and methods, strengths and preferences re: content and processes — including participants’ autonomy, methods for tracking participant engagement (with the understanding of the impact of differences re: communication styles and learning preferences and differences on participation), personal need/desire for knowledge about an understanding of participants learning.

Setting

Conference session not participants’ own work environment (which might run the gamut from consultant to corporate) which may impact participant commitment and engagement

Participants

Range of knowledge of the  topic, background (academic and  experience in the field), ages, races, genders, cultures, and classes, (i.e., the reality of power dynamics in the room re: areas of DEI), degree of interest in the topic, and accountability

Where do you begin?

Maybe it’s not so much about where you begin, because all of these factors are important (and it’s not an exhaustive list, of course, there are more factors and variables). Perhaps, it’s more about your priorities and how you effectively integrate these different areas to create stellar experiences.

What’s your vision?

And, what is a stellar experience? I believe there’s not one kind of stellar experience because of all the variables listed. The creation of facilitation is both an art and science from my perspective, and every experience is different! I will say though, as  I wrote about on LinkedIn earlier this week, I believe that participant engagement is like the salt in all my recipes—the essential ingredient!

Just this week, Karina Antons, Charles-Louis de Maere, and Yasmine Corda and I discussed a few of these variables during the bikablo Meet up on the subject of autonomy in facilitated meetings. Of course, we wanted people to not only discuss the topic of autonomy but also to experience it. Participants had the opportunity to experience degrees of autonomy within the two breakout sessions and in the larger group. our 90 minutes together flew by and we just scratched the surface of these topics. We will be continuing the conversation in a few months with more ideas and methods to share. I hope you’ll join us. You can sign up for bikablo Meetups here!

“Use a picture. It’s worth a thousand words”

Tess Flanders (news editor from The Post-Standard, 1911), had it right! Here’s a quick drawing of my recent experiences!

Just this week I’ve been reflecting on my experiences with groups. They have run the gamut—from well-coordinated and productive to organized and lackluster to chaotic. No doubt there are factors that contribute, in varying degrees, to the functioning of these particular groups:

  • attention to processes for increasing group cohesion
  • clarity of vision, mission, purpose
  • commitment of participants (time, energy, resources)
  • planning for achieving goals
  • accountability of all involved
  • the ability to reflect and course-correct (when the need arises)

It was a delight to think about my universe of interactions, discovering in which groups I feel like a member of the team and really invested in the people, the work, and the outcomes… and where I do not. It’s been enlightening and cause for action—particularly in those groups in which I am feeling degrees of disconnection.

How about you?

As you reflect on your meetings of the past few weeks, where do you feel most connected and productive? What is the harmony that needs to exist between those elements to make it a great experience for you? To me it more about complementarity than balance… I’d love to hear what you’re thinking!

Envisioning the future through reflecting on my past … which is not to say that past is prologue!

Imagine me running full tilt toward the finish line… that’s how I felt on Tuesday—it’s a vision, right?

I was meeting with the students from the Baruch College Industrial and Organizational Psychology program (MSIO). My mission was to share information about talent development as a field, ATDNYC in particular (as the VP of membership), and address their questions about what the future might hold… i.e., “What if I want to switch fields now that I’ve just graduated?” “How do I narrow my focus, as I love all areas of I/O?”

I had taken on the task of creating a visual of my influences on my path as a visual practitioner. Then, I realized that I had to recognize my foundation—how I even started to think of becoming a visual practitioner—and believed that this information was even more important to the MSIO students. I created a visual of my academic background and training experiences and the key influences in each program.

Of course, I had all kinds of thoughts about the background—literal, metaphorical—and with the clock ticking (my strength of creativity getting in the way again!), I went with a simple yellow/golden pathway… reminiscent of the yellow brick road.

I have plans for the second path or stream, which will intertwine with what I have created already. It will be my journey as a visual practitioner. A third path is brewing in my mind, thanks to my buddy Julia Curtis. I am going to share an abridged list of places of work and my consulting clients to highlight the impact of my education and training. This is more complexity of design than I usually work with… and I both am enjoying it and feel challenged by it.

Over the next few weeks, I will share the ongoing process of creating this multi-path vision, which is beginning to feel like a 3-D drawing…

I hope that you will see this as an opportunity not so much to learn about me but rather an opportunity to ask the same questions of yourself and create your own answers… visually or in writing, perhaps collage. It’s the content that matters—choose a medium that calls to you. I hope you will share your creation with me!

PS: Since the event, several students have been in touch and spoken with me about the power of sharing the visual and my story to help them see possibilities for their futures. Understanding the variety of resources at their fingertips (ATD NYC and other organizations) also made them feel more relaxed and hopeful about receiving the support they want and need.