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Life Lessons —Learned from Flower Arranging

In arranging flowers earlier this week, I found surprising parallels to endeavors in life!

Have a vision

Bring your tools

  • scissors, vase(s)

Be open to the reality of materials at hand

  • be flexible

Cut as necessary

  • length of stems to create bouquet

Choose

  • use everything in one arrangement or making several

Manage frustration when challenges arise

  • no leafiness/fullness, imperfect blooms, having to switch vases after initial dissatisfaction

Think about next time

  • learn/remember that different flowers require different resources/vase, materials/greenery/baby’s breath

Be resourceful

  • consider greenery from the backyard

Tap into ability to sit with disappointment

  • not realizing initial vision and to shift to contentment in the present

Know when to walk away

  • Re-encounter/look at the arrangement with fresh eyes the next day

Clean up the debris of the creative process

  • Sweep away the cut stems and leaves

 

Ulitmately, I liked it—even in it’s difference from my expectation…

Time for TLC!

How are you taking exceptional care of yourself?

How do you feel about that question? Does it seem over the top, just a little too much? Would you be more comfortable with me asking about taking good care of yourself?

Perhaps, because of the pandemic, most of us have finally accepted the idea that taking care of ourselves is critical to our well-being and success in every aspect of our lives. I’ve been saying it for years and I propose that we elevate our self-care to an exceptional level because these are extraordinary times… these times though can make it even more challenging to meet our needs.

A part of taking exceptional care of myself is reflecting on and choosing wisely about how I want to devote my time. I’ve found that time feels different—I’m realizing that some tasks just take longer than in the past. While I could spend precious minutes parsing out the reasons, I will just live with the reality for now. I have the sneaking suspicion it’s the state of the world, our country, my business, and my concerns for family, friends, and colleagues that lurks in the back of my mind day and night. There’s good reason for it, so I am moving on.

I’ve found that engaging in the activities I love and love to share has been a joy during this time.

What are you doing to soothe yourself, work with your emotions (they’re there all the time whether we’re paying attention to them or not), and be kind to yourself so that you can engage with all the aspects of your world in the ways that you desire? 

Late last month and earlier this week, I had opportunities to teach Zentangle, a meditative art form that I learned back in 2013. I LOVE tangling—whether I am creating designs myself or teaching others.

Truth be told, tangling is fun AND challenging. It involves using new tools —tiles of Italian paper, Micron pen, a tortillion/smudger, and a pencil without an erase— and

  • learning new skills
  • working mindfully
  • enjoying the slow pace of aspects of the process
  • viewing our work from a variety of perspectives (turning the tile as we work on it)
  • breathing deeply
  • leaving our inner critic “at the door” (when we make an unintended stroke or two).

When plorking (playing and working) with others I slip into a side of myself that is delightful to experience. I can always find something beautiful in everyone’s work. Folks are amazed at the flow of compliments throughout the session. This exchange encourages them to see their work and themselves in new ways.

This “work” is a delight that I have shared all over the world with children as young as 3 years old in Nepal (at House with Heart, for abandoned children) and folks in their 80’s at nursing homes and senior centers. While it’s different over Zoom (though I have been teaching it for years in that way), I still find ways to see and discuss each person’s tiles.

These experiences feed my soul and refresh me.

 

What nourishes you?

In what ways are you carving out time to take special care of yourself?

How are you finding peace, calm, and beauty or whatever emotions and experiences you need to sustain you?

If you’re interested in Zentangle, let me know! If finding ways to take exceptional because these are unprecedented times is too challenging on your own you, reach out to me for a conversation.

I believe we need to start with ourselves, and then, if we can, help others. We are in this together.

Choosing my lens for viewing 2021!

Though it feels almost trite to talk about endings and beginnings…

that is truly where we are at this point in time.

While we can engage in such reflection any day of the year, I found myself feeling and thinking so many different things toward the end of December. I was looking forward to the

  • end of a challenging year that had bright spots or “silver linings”, as I prefer to call them
  • beginning of a new year with the promise of significant change.

Do you recognize, celebrate, memorialize, or in some way acknowledge the ending of one calendar year and the beginning of the next? If so, what do you do—journaling, mindmapping, drawing or …?

On a more personal note, I always do a visual end-of-year wrap up for family and friends that accompanies our family photo/New Year’s greetings. This year, I opted for short and sweet—my visual was the space for capturing what we were grateful for, as a family. In essence, I was answering the question, “What was best about this past year?” (the Poetic Principle, from the field of Appreciative Inquiry)

How would you answer that question?

“What do I want to carry forward/bring with me into the new year? What will become of the fertile soil for the seeds of my dreaming — new ideas, experiences, and endeavors? These are my next questions, answered in the drawing and writing that I do for myself, both personally and professionally,

I am a firm believer in the core AI Principles, that

  • the moment we ask about something we simultaneously begin to move towards it (the Simultaneity Principle)
  • we live into the futures we imagine (the Anticipatory Principle)
  • building on our strengths instead of fixing weaknesses builds momentum for change(the Positive Principle)

Of course, these questions point to the reality that my thinking and feeling in these ways, is only my/one perspective (the Constructionist Principle)—it works for me! How about you?

If this view of the world, is one that resonates with you, you may want to dive into some resources on AI. I have devoted the past half year to learning, studying, working with, and preparing for my AI facilitator certification. it has been an experience filled with new ideas, challenges, and (almost always) joy.

Here are a few of my favorite resources

If this feels exciting, interesting, provocative (in a good way) and you want a taste of this work, I offer Appreciative Living Learning Circles, (the next starts on  February 1st, learn more on my calendar and register here), and Heather Martinez and I will use an AI lens in our program Deep Dive into You, (January 21 & 22, learn more here).

Please feel free to contact me with your questions about resources, how to bring AI into your life/the life of your organization, and AI coaching. I’d love to hear from you!

Struck by a great idea—Networking Mad Libs!

Happily, a stroke of genius at almost the 11th hour!

I don’t know about your experience of late—meaning during the pandemic—but I can tell you that I’m experiencing projects with colleagues that are coming together, very often, at the last minute… For someone who loves the slight pressure of a deadline, that feels okay—until it doesn’t. I got dangerously close to the latter situation this week.

A recent example was my offering to deliver an activity for the networking portion of the ATD-NYC Holiday Party. I really like connecting with people—listening to them describe the essence of their work-selves, discovering their backgrounds, current positions, and needs. The mental exercise of combing through my universe of colleagues to determine if I know someone who can be a resource to the person right in front of me is such fun!

As time was very limited for the preparation and in the event, I didn’t have the luxury of listening to, really learning about what people understood  about networking. My prep for the event included standing on the foundation of previous sessions developed over the years for a variety of audiences.

I imagined that people’s experiences with networking were all over the map:

  • some were new to it
  • a few like it
  • others have a love-hate relationship to it, seeing the benefit yet engaging reluctantly
  • plenty loathe it…

So I made my best assumptions and believed that I could create a jovial time of everyone getting to know a few folks in the Zoom breakout rooms.

 

I decided to create a simple template for folks to lead them through key information to share quickly and easily—a simple mindmap… and then completed an example. When I looked at my colorful and simply organized visual the next day, I realized that some folks would love it, as I did, (being that “global”/big picture thinker who likes to see all the information at once) and yet others might be put off by the lack of linear structure to collecting and sharing the information.

So, true to form (my Character Strength of Creativity* showing up, as usual, when I was walking Gus/the beloved dog) I was struck with the idea of creating Networking Mad Libs (NML)! A quick, easy way for folks to share key information:

  • Who they are/their background
  • What their position is/Where they work
  • What they love about their work
  • What expertise they have to offer colleagues
  • What they are seeking, in order to grow as professionals

The NML flowed onto the page, though it lacked a bit of the fun possibilities of the original Mad Libs (adjective here, noun there) and yet I was delighted! Then, because who can stop when having fun (I’m finding that more true now during the pandemic), I created a hybrid version of the NMLs too—an example with words, icons, and figures! I completed that task in a jiffy and filled it in for myself as an example.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Because I love to nurture collaboration and seeing people’s contributions, I headed over Miro to create a board to give me the opportunity to post the  instructions for the participants, and a place to share the templates they would develop. More fun!

As we know with both tech and meetings, engagement is some combination of folks who:

  • don’t realize there’s prework and don’t do it
  • like and will make time to do the prework
  • like and don’t have time for prework
  • don’t like prework and don’t do it
  • don’t like it and will do it

And then there’s the tech piece, there are folks who:

  • love to play with new tech
  • don’t like to play with tech
  • have the time and inclination to learn something new and do it
  • don’t have the time and interest and don’t do it
  • haven’t looked at their email and don’t even know about it

To be realistic, most folks also need plenty of time to get comfortable with new tasks and especially new tech… this part of the event came together with very little time to enjoy all the aspects of the experience, yet happily, many folks dove into the prework and experienced some of the capabilities of Miro.

What I also learned yesterday is that as a solopreneur of over 20 years, and coming from a history with Business Networking International (the home of the one-minute introduction and “ask”) networking introductions have become, through work and practice, almost second nature to me. I discovered that it was new and challenging for some folks to state clearly and specifically, what they had to offer colleagues and what they needed. Such fuzziness leads to the opportunity to ask questions and have great conversations. When there’s time for that, that’s awesome. In this case, folks needed to be laser-like in their three minutes of having the floor. I left with the crystal clear realization that if I can understand, very specifically, what you need, then I can easily be of service.

I came away with a clear sense that

  • networking is an area of interest and of great value
  • there’s an opportunity to support people in developing these skills
  • a true training with plenty of practice would serve everyone
  • and the NMLs were a great start!

You know that I’ll be suggesting all of the above!

Enabling Folks to See What They Haven’t Yet Imagined…

The Setting: Meeting this Week

Earlier in the week, I bumped up against some folks’ inability to envision something that was outside of their experience…  And, their subsequent thoughts that it couldn’t be done. I had hoped for their considering the opportunity with curiosity and possibility.

What do you do when you are suddenly, and surprisingly, faced with folks who are not (hopefully, not yet) on the same page as you?

It took me about half a minute to tap into my strength of creativity and swing into a different frame of mind.

I understand that if people aren’t able to envision something because it’s unfamiliar or outside their experience, they often shut down and say “No.” Realizing this reality, I made every effort to approach their questions with enthusiasm.  I needed to create a context in which they could begin to understand the thing that they didn’t know… I started to share stories of how creating a visualizing exercise for a group of almost 100 participants over Zoom had been achieved with a variety of groups to great success.

What’s your approach to introducing new and different ideas to people? How do you help people step into understanding the experience that you have had and what you can provide? How do you prepare to create a context for people and plan to meet their needs, doubts, and questions? What kinds of evidence are you sharing—is it both thinking- and feeling-oriented?

I have to say I was surprised by people’s reactions. And, I felt the pressure of the time allocated to the conversation weighing on me. If time had permitted it would have been so much more fun and engaging to demonstrate the experience by having them engage in the activity I was suggesting, and then discuss how I scale it to larger groups.

Suffice to say that the information I provided, the real world and congruent examples, and my passion and history with the group enabled us to move forward with the initiative. This is a lesson that I don’t usually have to learn and yet it’s a good reminder:  when called, or moved, to step up and share a new idea, to be ready to be open, understanding, and able to take others’ perspectives to enable them to envision, and truly understand, your idea, concept or practice.

I realize that to enable people to grasp something new and different does not always lead to acceptance of the idea. In this instance, we moved forward with the initiative I suggested—what a happy ending!