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Gaining Insight and Laughing with Ourselves

I had a moment this morning when I realized I was being consummately myself. I love those moments, don’t you? They are such great reminders! Do you find that too?

Here’s the scenario…

I’m working to complete my last in-class/synchronous assignment for the Appreciative Inquiry Facilitator certification. I need to create a simple book to show my personal plan for my continuing work in the field. So last night, even though I was running out of steam, I knew I wanted to start working on my project because it was drawing, so it was fun, and I wanted to devote some serious time to it.

I worked away and got some (not enough) good ideas on paper and put it to rest for the night. This morning I woke up refreshed, full of enthusiasm for continuing the project, and taking it in new and exciting directions.

Back & Front Covers

So as you can imagine, this work is getting bigger, taking longer, and feeling really fun and interesting. And as I continue to increase its scope, the little voice in my head says to me, “When are you going to stop? You’re just working on a draft there’s so much material here you’ve got to get it done by 11 this morning!”

Inside Pages

And then, I have another one of those metacognitive moments—once again my strength of creativity (discovered through Dr. Martin Seligman’s work, the VIA Character Strengths Survey) is getting me into trouble! And I love the realization! I CONTINUE to create, play, and refine until I come to a screeching halt at my deadline.

 

So what’s your story?

Have you thought about your strengths lately? Or, are they feeling buried by the amount of work you have to do, Zoom fatigue, and myriad other factors affecting your daily work and home life?

I’d like to offer you an opportunity—to take a bit of time for yourself, re-discover your strengths, and add some support in regaining feelings of efficacy in all the spheres of your life.

Here’s a link to the free VIA Character Strengths Survey. I’d like to politely push you to take the survey, even if you’ve done it a while ago, and see what is revealed. Then, I hope you’ll get in touch with me. I’m offering group session for people to share their results, ask questions, and learn to further access and utilize their strengths in their daily lives. We will talk about not just what your strengths are but how you can live more joyfully with them.

Here’s my challenge to you: Take the survey, reflect on your results, and then send me an email saying that you’re ready to leverage your strengths. I will hold a free Strengths Circle session on September 3rd at 7 pm ET for those that are interested, you can sign up here. Of course, I am happy to do a deep dive into personal results with those who’re interested. Please contact me for a coaching session here.

Delving into your strengths is the first step in my newest coaching program, Roots of Resilience. This Circle is for women who want to remember, reclaim, deepen and develop their capacities to feel stronger, more engaged, and connected to themselves, their families, friends, and colleagues, in the changing world we live in now.

This program shares core concepts and practices in five key areas that, when working in concert, have a synergistic effect. To learn more about the Roots of Resilience Circle, look here and reach out to me with your questions. I’m so excited to bring this unique combination of research, practices, and circle work to you.

Practice makes perfect… I think not!

What do you think?

I’m no fan of that phrase or thinking.

  • What kind of practice?
  • Why do I need to make it perfect?

Perhaps a little context is needed here… I’m not a heart surgeon or a rocket scientist for NASA. If I were in either of those fields or a variety of others, then perfectionism might be a worthy trait… not so much in my work as a visual practitioner. Let me tell you how this plays out for me and then I hope you’ll let me know what you think.

I create visuals to teach people how to draw, capture course content (as a learner), make templates for my books and participants, and record presentations of conference speakers. Sharpening my skills through learning new techniques or taking a deeper dive into my existing technique is exciting to me. I always strive to do my best work, and for me, that means,

Persistent, consistent, and conscious practice makes progress

For me, being consistent and aware in my practice — looking at each time I take a stroke or make my favorite figure or create a layout, this is what leads to improving the quality of my work, increasing my speed.

In our bikablo training there’s a particular stroke for making two types of shadows that takes a good deal of practice for folks. And while I suggest that my students repeat the stroke A LOT—while in meetings or on hold on the phone or at other opportunities, I remind them to make each stroke consciously and learn from it.

What worked well? What needs work?

What are the elements to the experience and what needs to be fine-tuned—is it the position of the pen, the beginning, middle, and/or end of the stroke, the way they are holding their wrist?

How do you plan for improving/strengthening your technique and your work? What conscious practices do you consistently embrace to hone your craft? I have a colleague who is FABULOUS at blending pastels… Just below is an example of my playing/experimenting with pastels and learning the technique that gives me the results that I seek.

I find that placing myself in a learning context for improvement is the biggest boost I can give my skills. And while I can’t take classes every week, I can choose wisely from the existing opportunities, so that I continue to grow.

What does your professional development plan include? What courses, books, study groups, 1:1 coaching or other means are you using to continue your journey?

 

For those of you who have taken a bikablo class and are seeking to deepen your skills, the E-xtraklasse, a ten-session Small group coaching journey offers … The journey begins in September… you can learn more about it here or get In touch with me.

If 1:1 coaching for a project or a series of sessions is more your appetite, let’s have a conversation!

Whatever options you choose to level up your performance, I say,

 

Be persistent, consistent, and conscious in your practice!

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Paste, glue, rubber cement…. Making learning stick!

In what ways do you lock in your learning and have ready access to it all the time?

I’ve been pondering this critical question of late—for me and for the participants in my bikablo training programs.

The most urgent concerns I hear from participants at the end of the bikablo Basics training courses is about assimilating the new skills into their everyday lives. Participants wonder about how to consistently and consciously practice their visual thinking skills. My answer is always the same… first I say,

Use your skills every day in every way!

  • Goal setting—for yourself and/or with others
  • Planning for a meeting or a piece you are writing
  • Capturing ideas, questions, decisions, plans in a meeting
  • Creating templates for training, facilitation experiences, and coaching sessions
  • Reflecting on a meeting, strategy session
  • Drawing in your journal instead of writing
  • Buddy up! Get clear on what you want to learn/do/apply and find a companion for that journey

Reflecting & drawing about how to use my visualizing skills in my work.

Clearly, this part of my answer is task-oriented/tactical—making it easier to get their arms around it… the second part of the answer is more strategic and gets at how we do what we do in our lives.

My friend & colleague, Julia Curtis and I are working our way through Making Comics, by Lynda Barry.

Make time and space in your everyday routines to draw!

While it sounds simple—the suggestion is deceptively complex. It requires changing ingrained habits… those things that become like barnacles on our minds!

We have conversations about ways to enhance their existing habits and create behavior change. I suggest The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg… and yet, weeks later, in an email, at our  North America Alumni Graphic Jam, or in passing at a virtual conference, I hear the longing from alumni to better leverage their skills.

 

 

Meeting participants’ needs and my own desires in one fell swoop!

Last week I completed the Train-the-Trainer course new bikablo training, e-xtraklasse, because I want to take folks deeper into their own learning, beyond the basics, AND I want them to integrate it into their everyday lives. 

A shot of my micro-teaching during the e-xtraklasse

In wanting to support my participants in consistently accessing their skills, I have turned to offering bikablo’s e-xtraklasse and “1:1” coaching. The former is a deep dive into strengthening their skills, learning from others, and being tasked with homework during the 10 session program. E-xtraklasse is the right fit for those wanting a small group coaching environment, and, for those desiring one to one attention and or needing/wanting confidentiality around a project.

You can learn more about these new offerings on my site, here.

Story of my life: Exciting Opportunity + Deadline = Motivation

What motivates you?

Just last week I was presented with the opportunity to do something I’ve been meaning to get to for a few months—something that I enjoy doing, love to share, and have folks ask me about often—teaching Zentangle!

Background

The practice of this art form, (developed by Maria Thomas and Rick Roberts), is meditative and relaxing in nature. The tangling looks complex, yet it’s the use of one or more of five simple lines to form myriad patterns, and there are guidelines for doing so. Engaging in the drawing transforms people’s beliefs about themselves. Really! Learners enter the classes unsure of themselves and their capabilities and leave feeling that they are artists.

“I found the Zentangle class very soothing, relaxing, and meditative after a stressful week. Jill Greenbaum is an excellent instructor who goes step by step for someone like me with no artistic talent.” Berthe Burnside

Recent Past

At the beginning of the pandemic, I offered free Zentangle classes to my visual practitioner colleagues. It was such fun! I started thinking that I should offer more classes online—I am generally a hands-on learning gal. As often happens, life got busy, and I didn’t pull together all the pieces to this puzzle.

Then fate/opportunity stepped in. My friend, Catherine Allen, whom I met while volunteering for a medical service trip to the Humla Valley in Nepal, created an ezine, Little Bit of Zen, and began offering free meditation sessions on Saturday mornings. I meditate consistently and love to support my friends. Catherine also came to one of my online Zentangle classes and enjoyed it. As we brainstormed a bit about how to get the word out about our endeavors, we decided to promote each other—and that’s when I got serious about offering Zentangle classes again.

For me, a learning opportunity, or sharing a learning experience, and a deadline are the perfect combination!

How about you?

What ignites your passion to begin a project? What do you know about yourself that supports you in getting done those delightful, exciting, new, or even old ideas, that are languishing? Do you need a buddy, a coach, to carve out time in your schedule, resources, or more information/learning? Can you put your finger on it? 

Because Catherine asked me for information to share about my Zentangle work with her growing group of meditators, I created a new page on my website, to share my passion for tangling. I’ll start offering online classes again on September 5th. I am excited to be walking on this path again.

Learn more about the joys of Zentangle here, and Catherine’s offerings here. 

Upon reflection, I realize what I need to motivate me—and I will leverage that information when I get caught up in wanting, and yet not moving forward.

What’s calling to you—and how will you find a way to answer?

Unmasking my Unconscious Competence… Making my Practice Conscious

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.
Marcel Proust 

How do you have new eyes about your work?

Just the other week, when Jill Langer and I were delivering the Day 2 of the Bikablo Basic Virtual Training course, I facilitated an activity for folks to:

  • discover what they remembered from Day 1
  • see how quickly they could access and re-create/apply the learning
  • observe how they would handle a new layer of complexity

all within a very short timeframe.

It was challenging! Their responses to the experience were swift and clear. It was an eye-opener for most of the folks who had been quite sure in their skills and the habits they had developed since the Day 1 training.

In general, I don’t seek to ruffle people’s feathers, and that’s certainly not the intent of the exercise though it was an unintended consequence for some. I was a bit concerned when I heard how surprised they were by their results (I won’t share some of the colorful language), then I was relieved to see that it provoked them to reset their thinking and primed them for learning with new eyes.

What might you look at/see differently today?

This experience reminds me of a colleague, with many years in the field, who joined one of my bikablo trainings. She had trained with other folks and had used bikablo’s picture dictionaries for years, yet when she took the course she told me that she learned so much more. The concepts and the nuances—that make the method more than looking at a book—the conversations, interactions, and the direct and specific feedback about her work, were defining differences. 

What comes easily to you? What’s a part of you, and therefore, more difficult to see?
What do you know so well that you don’t think about it,  much less question how you do what you do?

What’s easy for me is making a banner. I make it the same way every time— it is second nature, I’m unconsciously competent in drawing it. I love my five steps to banner-making! Surprisingly, when I watched Jill (Langer) draw the same banner in our virtual training, she did it completely differently! I thought that she and I learned it at the same time and in the same way (at the first bikablo Train the Trainer event)—apparently not! I was intrigued. Maybe her way was simpler for folks?! It was amazing and definitely got me thinking about how I do, AND  what I do without being aware of how I do it!

I’m currently taking the bikablo Train the Trainer course for e-xtraklasse, a brand new offering, that will deepen participants’ skills through small group coaching and an extended format. Re-viewing, literally re-seeing, what I have learned and taught in the bikablo Basic Day 1 and 2 courses, and taking it to the next level of sophistication, is such fun—and intensity! I have new eyes for my work! 

Look at those wild ascenders and descenders!

What is challenging for you, so much so that you still think about it often?

I am working to change the way I make a few of my letters—specifically the “a” and the “e”. And, I have to watch my ascenders (“f” and “t” particularly) and descenders (“g”, “j” and “y”), as my expansive writing can be too large for the spaces I need to work in. I pay attention to these letters as I write—which is both good and, at times, tiresome. I will create the new habit over time and increase my speed and decrease my need to attend to what’s different. I can’t wait until that happens!

Musings

This question, about habits that I do unconsciously, is relevant to all areas of my life:

  • how I show up in meetings—as leader, co-creator, and/or follower.
  • how I start a project
  • the questions that I ask new clients in Strategy Sessions
  • how I approach collaboration
  • how I plan my free time

How about you? What do you think of how you do what you do? Once you take a look at your habits, which will you embrace and which will you discard?

My thinking is, that I need to “be the beginner”/have beginner’s mind. Be present to possibilities, and shift away from habits that narrow the breadth and depth of my thinking.

In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few. 

Shunryu Suzuki