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What are you noticing in your life right now?

What are you noticing these days about yourself, your colleagues, and your clients?

I’ve noticed in my coaching practice, that some of my clients are working differently than before.

In my practice, I’ve always been the gal that begins working with folks starting with their history and foundation, their strengths, and past successes. We explore and dream about what they want and then design possibilities for experimentation and growth. My process is to help clients move toward creative, solution-based outcomes, in which they are the agents of their own change.

What I’m seeing is that some of my clients are taking smaller steps on their journey.

I wonder about that. Perhaps it’s coming from mental fatigue, competing priorities, concerns about achieving their goals, or … I’m sure the answer is different for different folks. I don’t think that I even need to learn the answers as my role is to listen to their experiences and ask the questions to explore the possibilities they imagine for their futures. And, of course, there are so many paths to achieving one’s goals… enjoying the journey—with its achievements, challenges, failures, and learning—is one of my criteria of success.

What about you—how are you feeling?

As you make time to reflect on your thoughts and actions, what do you notice? I know that we don’t exist in a vacuum. I definitely feel the ebb and flow of connection with the world outside me: work and communication (both professional and personal). I also feel the effects on how I choose to spend my precious time… I crave more art/creativity and silence.

Last week, I wrote about feelings also… Here’s a visual, by Abby Vanmuijen, that’s so appealing to me, . You may want to check out her site too.

What are your thoughts about how you’re doing—and that question comes from a place of curiosity  (not judgment)—looking at the subject like it’s a gem, exploring its facets.

I want to hear how you’re doing… Drop me a line or make a comment, I’d love to hear from you.

Creating Greater Connection with More Time… Part 1

Earlier in the week, I posted a piece on LinkedIn about my recent, delightful experience with delivering a session on Appreciative Living —Seeing the Positive in Life, for Agile Austin, Agile Leadership Network of Houston, Mile High Agile, and Agile SoCal.

In brief, the session on Monday was almost two hours in length, (half an hour longer than usual) with approximately 45 people. My session design created opportunities to learn about Appreciative Inquiry principles and apply them to our lives in that moment. Participants connected with each other by talking and chatting with each other in the large group, and in trios.

When a colleague asked me about the experience, I was surprised by my strong, heartfelt response. I started wondering what made this session feel markedly different.

I believe it was the intersection of time and connection that created a richer experience than previous sessions. I’ll admit, I love Venn diagrams though perhaps my thinking is better represented by a line graph or discussion of a causal relationship.

And as I ponder further, and think more expansively, I am struck by more variables that I will add to this exploration. Perhaps two variables, the nature of audience members’ working relationship with each other, and setting/occasion.

In this instance, we had a luxurious amount of time for interaction. That spacious container, the nature of the setting (a MeetUp) and the group (their collegial relationships—they did not work for the same organization) enabled us to have some deep conversations.

All these ideas plus my passion for creating interactive experiences have led to me to ask the following questions in my quest to design stellar experiential encounters:

  • Who are the people involved —literally, what are the variables I can discover in advance?
  • How will they be showing up—voluntarily, prepared, interested, preoccupied or some combination thereof ?
  • What atmosphere/container can be created through pre-work?
  • What are the dynamics of the group—power, gender, race, class, sexual orientation, ability/disability? What can I learn about these variables in advance, and how will I plan to be sensitive to them throughout the session?
  • How will the gathering begin?
  • Is there enough space/time in the session for creating  authentic connection among participants—time for reflection, talking with others in small groups, sharing in the large group?
  • What other challenges might arise to impact my guiding the conversation toward self-reflection, understanding, interpersonal connection, and engagement with the practices after the session?

The Appreciative Inquiry work I am doing in these MeetUps and in the Appreciative Living Learning Circles is such a delight. If you are interested in learning more about these offerings, reach out to me with your ideas or questions. You can learn more about the Learning Circle on blog page of my site.

Never underestimate the beauty of a great question

What’s your favorite check-in question?

Wait, maybe we should take a step back… What’s the purpose of a check-in question for you? How do you use the first few minutes of a meeting, experiential encounter, or coaching session to connect with folks? 

I  realized last night during my session, Appreciative Living, Seeing the Positive in Life for the Agile Austin Coaching Group, the Agile Leadership Network of Houston, and the Mile High Agile Coaching Group, that I love setting the stage with a thoughtful check-in question.

My favorite is question is,

”What’s the best thing that’s happened to you today?”

What about you?

As you think back over the past week, what were your best experiences? What were the circumstances or situations, who was involved, what role(s) did you play? What else do you notice about those times?

I noticed that my roles were varied and I find that to be super cool! Whether I was…

  • engaged with my bikablo colleagues— partnering with Martin Haussmann, (the creator of bikablo) to develop the agenda and host the launch of  bikablo MeetUp, meeting with global team members to discuss moving the Advanced course online, or teaching  the bikablo Basic Day 1 course to participants in North America
  • collaborating with my colleagues from ATDNYC to create an interactive “Meet the Board” chapter meeting with breakouts of focused discussion
  • meeting with visual practitioner colleagues to create new offerings to those facing end of life issues
  • sharing my passion for appreciative inquiry with the agile groups or
  • in my one to one coaching sessions,  as I feel that I am working together with/supporting my clients as they build on their strengths and accomplishments, articulate their dreams, and design their futures.

What question will you ask yourself or others

to inspire reflection, gratitude, and perhaps deepen relationships?

Such a question, “What’s the best thing that’s happened to you today?” is a wonderful way to start conversation (at a meeting or the dinner table) or even to end one’s day.

I am passionate about integrating Appreciative Inquiry principles and practices into my daily life—both professional and personal. In my effort to share my enthusiasm, I am offering an Appreciative Living Learning Circle starting March 1. I hope you’ll join me. Look at the calendar page to learn more and please reach out to me with your questions.

Summer is waning, what are your reflections?

Memories of long ago…

At the beginning of the summer, with the possibility of carefree days of vacation—camp, friends, sometimes a bit of travel—the idea of having to complete a summer project for high school felt like a burden. By the time the summer was over, with the project completed, I had a sense of accomplishment. As it was a time filled with fun and a bit of work, which was usually (mostly) of my own design… it was really not so bad after all.

What was your project this summer?

Was it making it through every day endeavoring to stay afloat —mentally, emotionally, and maybe financially too?  I hear you, these remain trying times.

Were you, your family, or friends touched by sickness? Members of my family and my circle of friends have been affected. Most have recovered but not all. 

Did it include thinking in new ways or maybe taking on new work? My work has changed in many ways—I miss being in the room with my participants and yet love the connections I am making across the continents too.

How are you feeling about what has changed and what remains the same? I am curious to know.

My summer project has blossomed into a coaching circle for women. 

Roots of Resilience grew out of my desire to synthesize my academic background, training in coaching, and experience across the fields of positive psychology, mindfulness, Appreciative Inquiry, Compassion, communication, and NVC/compassionate communication.

I started this project after listening to many of my women colleagues around the world talk about feeling tired, depleted, and sometimes pessimistic. I designed this circle for the folks like them and like me—women whose strengths feel buried by a combination of unforeseeable circumstances.

These have been trying times and I believe they will continue to be so for the near future. I believe it is a time to come together, share our knowledge and skills, and build them together so that we all emerge stronger, more resilient. Would being a member of a circle with women provide the foundation and the impetus to regain your resilience— to tap into your perhaps dormant knowledge and skills, and build on them?

If this work interests you, as a member of the circle, or individually, please learn more about it here. And if you are one of my colleagues who is an IFVP member, I made the offer at our annual conference this year and I will provide a discount for you. As a field, we have been hit hard by this pandemic. Scholarships are also available to those desiring to join the circle.

Please contact me with your questions. I am offering this experience in one-to-one coaching sessions too—for anyone who feels drawn to this inner work (and play).

What are you reading, watching, and listening to, in your work life, at this very moment?

When I started considering this question, the answers began falling through my mind like an avalanche and I felt buried under the chaos! I had to create an organizing principle or two… I decided to make categories. My thinking centered around how I interact with each of the mediums rather than the content of what I was reading. Let’s see if I have made it comprehensible or… not.

I landed on a few key areas: “reference” books, books I’m actively engaged with, Kindle reading, Audible selections, magazines, newsletters, a podcast, and a recent video. I begin to wonder how I finish anything when I start to look at the number of sources I tackle in a month—and these are just the work-related sources. I have a friend who reads one book at a time… I can’t imagine it!

The reference books that I have at my side all the time, to share with colleagues are:

  • UZMO—Thinking with the Pen by Martin Haussman
  • The World of Visual Facilitation edited by Joren Blijsie, Rachel Smith, Tim Hamons (and last minute, silent editing partner, Jill Greenbaum)
  • Authentic Happiness by Martin Seligman
  • A Leader in Every Chair by Christina Baldwin and Ann Linnea
  • Appreciative Living by Jackie Kelm
  • Dynamic Relationships by Jacqueline Stavros & Cheri B. Torres
  • Essentialism by Greg McKeown
  • The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
  • 168 Hours by Laura Vanderkam

So maybe these qualify as “standards” for me and not active reading…

I am actively engaged with these books

3-minute drawings with both hands simultaneously (on the right) and with my left/non-dominant hand

Making Comics by Linda Barry—This one is going a bit more slowly as I am drawing once a week with my friend and colleague Julia from Tasmania. Here are a few of my more recent humorous drawings.

Appreciative Coaching by Sara Orem, Jacqueline Binkert, and Ann Clancy

Happiness is an Inside Job by Sylvia Boorstein

and the audiobooks

Real Happiness, Sharon Salzberg

Building a Story Brand by Donald Miller

The AI facilitator certification process that I’m engaged in has had me working with the textbook, Appreciative Inquiry: Change at the Speed of Imagination by Jane Magruder Watkins, Bernard Mohr, and Ralph Kelly

Magazines by the couch  

Mindful subscription and special editions too

Daily and weekly newsletters that I make an effort to keep current with are:

 

Podcast

Staying Power Podcast with Phyllis Cole-Dai,  www.phylllis.cole-dai.podbean.com Here’s one I really liked, ”On my 58th Birthday: 58 Pandemic Prayers.” This might seem more personal than work-related—though that’s the overlap in my life and coaching circle work.

(Gosh I love to listen to podcasts, though my slight learning disability (less than stellar short term auditory memory) steers me away from this medium for work-related issues. You may ask, so why do you listen to audiobooks—good question! I listen to them as I racewalk daily—and pause them to record audio notes to myself on occasion… or buy the book, if there’s so much juicy stuff!) 

 

Recent video

TedX— Celebrate What’s Right with the World, Dewitt Jones, https://dewittjones.com/pages/tedx-dewitt-jones

 

It’s clear that I have a love of Appreciative Inquiry and positive psychology—they are the foundations of Roots of Resilience, my coaching circle for women that begins on September 21st. I hope you will choose to learn more here

 

What will you read, watch, and listen to

in this month of September?

I plan on finishing up some of the goodies I have listed above. If you’re reading any of them and want to chat—I’d love it! Lmk!