What was the nature of your journey to your current position?

How did you get to where you are now? Was yours a rather straight path to your current work or were there bends in the road or interesting side trips that enriched your travel to your current destination?

Over the past few weeks, I‘ve been having conversations with folks from around the world about how I found my way to being a visual practitioner. People are curious as to the path I have taken… and I get it! How did I shift from teacher to instructional designer to principal to administrator to my current foci/passions for the roles of trainer, coach, facilitator, and visual practitioner? Was it boredom, dissatisfaction, wanderlust, or the lure of new horizons? For me, it was always about a new adventure in learning, sharing what I had learned, and a greater connection with colleagues.

To tell the truth, I have had friends chide me—saying they don’t understand what I do or that every time we see each other, I have a new area of interest to share with them. I believe that my friends do understand the pieces of my puzzle, just not why I choose to have so many pieces… To me, they are all aspects of an integrated whole… I am a multipassionate or multi-hyphen {Emma Gannon, The Multi-Hyphen Method}, believing that all I do has at least one touch-point with another area of interest and expertise.)


Where are you now? What are you thinking and feeling about your work life? Are you connected to your vision of who you want to be and your values? Which of these feelings describe your current experience?

Which of your needs, the ones that are critically important to you, are being met by your work?

  • What’s at your core—your vision of who you are in the world and how you live your values?
  • What’s your style—staying in your comfort zone, being at your learning edge, or both at different times of the year or dependent on your workload?
  • What interests/paths are open to you, given your knowledge, skills, and attitudes?

What is your capacity right now? Are you’re feeling the desire to step into something new? How do you create harmony between where you are and where you want to be (I do wonder if there is such a thing as “balance”)?

If now is not the time, then perhaps tuck away these questions for a time that is more auspicious for such deep thinking and conversation.

What juicy insights have you gained from reflecting on these questions and your own musings about your current circumstances? What conversations might we have that would bring you greater clarity and create more possibilities for you? I hope you will reach out to me—I’d love to connect!

How is your work being viewed and (possibly) used?

Do you have a sense of where in the world your work can be found and how it is being seen, understood, and, perhaps, used?

Just a few days ago, I woke up early, checked in on social media, and became emotionally involved with a post. Truth be told, I wrote a fairly thoughtful response to the visual and shared it, then I edited the post, shared my thoughts a second time, and edited it a second time, all within the space of less than five or six minutes. By the third posting, I took it down and replaced my (perhaps) critical thoughts (as in judgmental, not essential) with a “placeholder”— a short paragraph that essentially said that I was still caught up in getting clear about my swirling emotions and thoughts and that I would post when I was feeling more articulate about my reactions.

I have thought about that visual, my reactions, and now responses, for the past few days. The experience has led me to wonder about a few things—some are big picture musings and others are ideas that are specific to this incident.

  • How is our work (that of visual practitioners) out in the world/wild?
  • For whom are we creating…ourselves, others present with us in the experience (as graphic recorders, facilitators, or coaches)? Or, others who are not in the room yet will see and/or use, and therefore need to understand, the work?
  • What are the implications of the answers to those questions?

I saw this visual, without attribution or explanation on the Graphic Facilitation FB page. I can identify the person who originally posted it, though I do not know if it is his work.

Heres what I initially wrote on the GF FB page and “took back.”

“I find this piece to be of interest only as a starting point for a rich discussion about the language/labels chosen, the lack of fluidity/static nature of the categories, and the realities of our human conditions (plural) right now—as if anyone “identified” with being in just one place. (Sounds a wee bit angry about this conceptualization, no?)

I cannot find any depth of understanding or nuance in this particular delineation of aspects of our experiences. I walk away from it —both the visceral reaction to the actual visual/Venn diagram and (what appear to me like the judgments embedded in the design)—feeling frustrated, angry, and inspired to talk about both the content of this topic and the process of depicting it! Does this accurately represent our/people’s lived experiences?”

My experience took this path…

I am feeling a swirl of emotions and thoughts—anger, surprise, puzzlement, disbelief, disgust.

This piece feels static, without nuance, and judgmental… the language, the labels, is this reflecting real peoples’ lives?

How can I shift my thinking?

Can I become curious? Yes, I can!

Perhaps my reactions are actually a very good experience—in that I am feeling stimulated to think more deeply. I wonder

  • Where did this visual come from?/Who created it?
  • What is the context of its creation?
  • What is it based on/what’s the data and where did it come from?
  • What is this visual meant to convey?
  • Wouldn’t the diagram actually “go the other way” meaning that the biggest percentage be the largest circle? If that were the case then maybe I would see that a person could be in all three places simultaneously—or is that just my thinking and not meant to be implied?

Okay! Perhaps I have shared my concerns enough… It’s time to turn the spotlight on the big questions when creating visuals:

  • What assumptions is the visual practitioner working with?
  • What types of information are being shared (what are the sources, are we viewing facts, opinions, ideas, etc?)
  • What are the goals of the piece developed?
  • How do we discover the context for the works we see—what annotations might be developed?
  • How does seeing this piece without knowing who the creator is, or the context, intersect with conversations about use and copyright?

In my training programs, we discuss the breadth and depth of the field of visual practitioners. We also address the question of the audiences for whom the works are developed and how they will be used, in the present moment and/or the future. I believe that planning for, annotating, and curating our own work are critical steps in creating greater clarity in our field.

What do you think? What’s been your experience? Please tell me!

Feedback, critique… My thoughts are still a work in progress!

It’s been a wonderful two weeks of sussing out interesting sources, reading, listening, thinking, and drawing about feedback!

Where I was last week…

I have been doing a deep dive into my course notes from Responding to the Call of Our Times (NVC Academy) with Miki Kashtan/, resources from Mary Alice Arthur’s site, the field of Appreciative Inquiry and my notes from readings and thinking over the years. I want to share this still in-process work with you—to invite you into where I am in sifting and sorting material to create a cohesive picture…

This week’s musings…

In looking at the visual I created last week, I find that the core elements of my thinking are ideas and questions about

  • What is feedback ?
  • What are the varieties of contexts in which it occurs?
  • What are the purposes and processes for engaging in it?

So many metaphors for understanding the complexities of feedback leaped into my mind in creating the visual here…

  • a tree with an extensive root system
  • my mind exploding with/holding all the different ideas
  • a garden—flowers growing as they are nourished

As is evident, I am still working my way through making a choice.

As I view my wide-ranging and divergent thinking around this topic, I feel more and more that the visual created is a better way to sample the ideas and questions, than this composition, yet I will try to create a cohesive narrative.

I feel that every moment offers opportunities for feedback. In essence our reactions, responses, actions, and inactions are forms of information/feedback about ideas, questions, and behaviors. Do we recognize and work with those opportunities, squander or ignore them? How different is it when we create that larger vision of the universe of our interactions?

Are we in touch with how we want to receive and give feedback—and how often do we make the time to reflect on these questions? What influences our answers—who we are with, what we are doing, our—and others’—expectations of the experiences? How well-honed are our remarks—have we anticipated how what we say might be filtered by the person(s) we’re addressing? While we are not responsible for how they respond, we can be aware of the factors in play (who we are in relation to them and vice versa/relationships and power dynamics, in what setting the experience occurs, the nature of the task, maybe even the time of day, to list only some of the variables involved. In essence, do we attend to whether the person we are addressing feels accurately received/understood?

I am (often) delighted (and sometimes, just ready) to accept feedback that affirms who I am and helps me to co-exist in the world. In practice, I seek to understand what I am doing well, building on my strengths as a foundation for working with areas that can be further developed. My shorthand way of talking about this is, “feedback that is congratulatory and constructive.”

The contexts in which I work—training, facilitation, and coaching—provide rich opportunities for building relationships through feedback, supporting people in their professional and personal development. I endeavor to

  • create and maintain a safe space/container
  • develop shared agreements about how we will engage in the work to be completed
  • share knowledge and cultivate nurturing environments for discovery
  • support strong relationships that enable clients to weather adversity and stretch—to face the disequilibrium inherent in true learning and development.

I believe that I have more “plorking” to do with this juicy subject. Playing and working with these ideas and practices is a rich field for me (perhaps I will go with the flowers metaphor, after all).

Over the next few months I will be engaging in new self-development work in the areas of compassion and Appreciative Inquiry. I know that these fields will beautifully complement the work I have done to date—I am excited to dive into all of this more deeply (another metaphor?) If you have an interest in chatting about it, I hope you will contact me.