Posts

Juicy Insights from Coaching with a Colleague!

You know how you do something for so long… that you don’t even think about how you do it—it’s second nature? Then someone changes the way you think about it or approach it and well… then it’s really different?

A colleague, whom I know through bringing Bikablo to her neck of the woods almost a year and a half ago, is working on her coach certification. In our wide-ranging conversation about what’s new since we last spoke and planning future Bikablo sessions, she asked if I would be one of her practice clients. Who doesn’t love a free coaching session (with someone you know and trust), so I said “Yes!”

We met over Zoom last week—just as the change in our world in the US was becoming starkly clear. Early in our session together, she asked me to not only envision but to draw what I was imagining about what I was telling her. I was struck by my responses to the request:

  • Mmmm, I am not sure I can do that very well… I use templates for my sessions with all my clients that support me in capturing critical information—this was different.
  • I didn’t have my symbolary at the ready to make the pictorial representation easy — I was imagining bits and pieces, and constructing parts to make up a whole that was coming from my head.
  • This was more stream of consciousness rather than a prepared canvas or recording—it felt like I was creating my own universe with galaxies and constellations
  • I didn’t love some of my drawings
  • I did like explaining a loud/to another person what I had created, which is something I don’t often do… It gave me another avenue for reflecting on my thinking. And, it reinforced my love of doing it during Bikablo trainings.

I committed to re-drawing my thinking in a week and sending it to her… I am about to do that now…

What have you done recently that’s been a twist on an established way of doing things? What was it like for you? Did you feel the same disequilibrium as me? Please let me know!

I wasn’t sure we could do it….

Our Setting—Agile Coach Camp at the South Patio Club in Gurugram, India

Imagine a lovely, warm, setting in a venue created for small events… people are milling about, drinking coffee, getting to know one another or reconnecting with colleagues, and there’s a sense of anticipation in the air.

Our Task

Agile Coach Camp, (an initiative of Agile Alliance), uses Open Space Technology to enable participants to easily share questions, experiences, discoveries, learnings, and offers opportunities to generate ideas for solutions to the challenges put forward.

Honestly, I find OST to be a gamble… I have had both excellent and less than stellar experiences as a participant in the process… So I decided to influence the outcome by suggesting a topic, 100 Ways to Use Visuals @ Work.

 

 

Our Actions & Results!

Happily, we had an initial group of eight to ten people interested in the topic. With two pieces of flip chart paper taped to the wall and a marker, I enthusiastically wrote the title of the challenge at the top of the page and asked for ideas.

We started strong, ideas bubbled up, and we soared to 17 answers… we paused. People started to look doubtful. With a little prompting, we leaped ahead to 37 answers and then there was a palpable lull in energy… the Law of Mobility started to enter into the mix and we lost a member or two—and we gained a member or two. We were off and running again!

When we reached the high 50’s and the pause lasted a little uncomfortably long, I thought we were done—and I was close to sharing my appreciation for everyone’s good efforts.

Over the years, I’ve gotten pretty good at waiting for people to settle into whatever unfolds, and my patience paid off! We roared ahead to 87 ideas and we all started to believe that we could make it to 100—and we did! We reached our goal! It was amazing!

Upon Reflection

As I transferred the ideas from chart paper to computer file and teased out some of the answers—I discovered that we generated 105 ways to use visuals at work! Okay, MAYBE one or two might be deleted from the list upon closer examination… What do you think?

How do you talk about your work?

When was the last time you faced that moment, when you knew that you would need to bridge the gap between the work you do and people’s lack of familiarity with your field?

Just the other week I was a professional association meeting (the name remains secret to protect the identity), which began with the typical unstructured networking time that I so loathe. I know some folks who attend the meetings and I feel compelled to say hello and chat for a bit. I don’t know lots of folks and want to meet them, as that is in large part, my purpose in joining the organization and attending their events. I generally do more of the former type of socializing and less of the latter—unless I go in totally focused on my objective, “Meet four new people—listen, learn about them, and discover how to be helpful.” 

So the stage is set, I am meeting new folks through connections (yay!), and I get asked the oh-so-tired question, “Who is your target market?” My (rather devilish) reply is, “Everyone who communicates!” I then feel compelled to acknowledge that I realize my partner in conversation is seeking a more focused answer, and so I ease the tension by talking about the several types of folks who most frequently attend bikablo trainings. Though I really believe that my first answer is more on target (sorry, I couldn’t help it!). I WANT to reach everyone. I believe this is a skill that can help everyone to communicate better. And to date, I just haven’t reached out beyond a few particular professions, though more are on my radar!

What do you do? How do you describe and share information about our work—and the great variety of ways it is now being used? How do you help people see what they haven’t really understood before?

My reality is, that folks generally do not know about visualization work or of the bikablo Akademie. I explain that I teach people to capture ideas, thoughts, conversations, processes, relationships and more, in icons, containers, graphic elements and words. Usually, folks are both puzzled and interested! I then pave the way for further understanding by describing graphic recorders at conferences, (“Remember a recent conference, with a keynote speaker, and perhaps someone at a wall capturing the presentation in pictures and words?”). Or, I describe the role of graphic facilitators in meetings. Soon there is a spark of recognition, often followed by the question, “Are you an artist?” They are surprised that I am not and then sadly state, “I can only draw stick figures, I could NEVER do that!” I assure them that most folks don’t feel skilled at drawing as we haven’t had the opportunity to really develop that form of language throughout our schooling. Often I share photos, to help folks make the connection to how they could use visual practitioner skills in their work.

My most recent endeavor, in my effort to simply and easily describe my work is a one page visual—it certainly makes easy work of explaining bikablo! What do you think? 

I’m working on another iteration that is solely hand-drawn… and thinking that I may create a third with a combination of drawings and photos. I’ll post those later today—so check back! Please weigh in—let me know what you thinking!

Would you cadet such a visual? How would it facilitate people’s understanding of your work? Would you share what you have created—I hope so!

What your vision for 2020? How’s it taking shape?

I have just a few goals this year— and I am working at being just fine with that (it’s a process). I have taken to heart the work of Greg McKeown, the author of Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less. It’s time to focus ONLY on what I do best, and that’s difficult for me.  I LOVE so many things and do more than one or two of them rather well—like most people!

How do you come to this conversation? Are you enjoying an abundance of many passions, ideas, and goals or are you more laser-like in your focus? How are you moving forward, meeting your milestones on the way to your goals?

One of my goals this year is to share with the world my revitalized, expanded, deep passion, and curiosity about the many ways we can take good care of ourselves so that we thrive. I believe that when we are well taken care of we can offer our best selves to others.

One of the ways I am seeking to share information, practices, and resources, is through speaking at conferences, so I am up to my eyebrows in writing proposals. I LOVE planning for working with people: imagining what they will learn and achieve in the session, thinking through their questions, developing  the curated list of the resources that I can share with them—it’s so much fun!

My strengths* of:

  • curiosity and interest in the world—What are they facing? What do I need to understand about their worlds? What will help folks the most?
  • creativity, ingenuity, and originality—What unique questions do I have for folks to help them do their own learning? How will I design a session to capture their hearts and minds?
  • zest, enthusiasm, and energy—How will I share my passion in a way that invites conversation and a diversity of views, without overwhelming folks?
  • hope, optimism, and future-mindedness—In what concrete ways will share my positive thinking about the future—the possibilities that exist for those who will embrace, or at least try, new ideas and practices?
  • bravery and valor—How will I step outside my comfort zone/what I have done before and experience the disequilibrium that accompanies growth—just like the participants?

are all engaged in this process.

* as discovered through The Brief Strengths Test, www.authentichappiness.com

2014 EuViz Conference, Berlin, Germany

How are you using your strengths in your work (and play)?

Have you taken The Brief Strengths Test or something similar? If not, I’d suggest it (The Brief Strengths Test is free.)

I feel most at home when I am using my strengths—they support me and I enter a state of flow. I must admit though, I have found that I can fall into getting caught up in them and then experiencing TROUBLE!

In creating the design for the workshop proposal on self-care I started to think broadly and deeply about the collateral material I could create for the session. It was so much FUN to imagine creating a card deck to support their learning, a zine to make notes about their journey, the development of a Mad Libs-like manifesto for participants to work with… Oh my gosh! I had to put on the brakes!

You can see it, right? My creativity and enthusiasm have taken me just a wee bit too far afield of the task to be accomplished. The 75-minute session cannot support all the goodies I have started to develop in my mind’s eye… At this point, when I see myself in the throes of overindulging in the areas I love to play, I chuckle, note the ideas that I may use “next time” and reel myself in.

Have you experienced the “dark side” or your strengths? How do you handle it?

If you’re curious about exploring your strengths, how you can use them in your work and play, and any of the myriad ways you can take better care of yourself, let me know! I’d love to have that conversation with you!

2020: Checking in on my plucky new year’s resolution—“No apologies!”

Just last week I had an inkling that this bold, desirable, and challenging choice might be too audacious to achieve. I designed a month of work for myself that was just a wee bit over the top—with training, travel, projects and new initiatives. By the second week of the month, I found myself having to apologize to a few folks for my delay in responding to their emails. I started to feel frustrated and that turned to feeling troubled, bordering on disheartened, though not hopeless.

How about you? What successes are you experiencing with your resolution(s)? While I hope they’re going well, like so many folks, we face hurdles in achieving or goals.

What is stretching your limits or is difficult to achieve? What strengths do you have that will support you in finding your way to achieve your desires? What have you done in the past to overcome such obstacles—how might you apply those experiences now? Are there folks in your circle who can support you by listening and referring to strengths they see in you or offering up alternative ideas?

In musing on my predicament, it occurred to me that solutions would arise as I tapped into my strengths of ingenuity/creativity, hope/optimism/future-mindedness, and bravery/valor (from Martin Seligman’s research into happiness, The Brief Strengths Test). I needed to gain some perspective, get in touch with my values, then check in with my intention and the context in which I choose to live and work. These supportive strategies compelled me to reflect on the world we live in today. Specifically, I am referring to the “go-go-go” nature of responding fast to whatever is in front of you. The common “wisdom” that one must respond to emails immediately if not within 24 hours… I hear that workplaces (made up of people) often demand it, and I recognize that I work in my own world, as a solopreneur, and do not have the constraints that some others feel…

In my world of work, I want to be responsive and yet not working, or even communicating with colleagues—24/7—even though I enjoy relationships with folks around the world. In sharing my resolution and some of the concerns I was facing in achieving it with several good friends, I realized that I wanted to stand strong. I still like my decision and I can fine-tune my response to my ever-present emails. I believe that being responsive is important and yet the 24-hour limit doesn’t always work for me.

When I stepped into thinking about my goal again, I got creative and am exploring several possibilities (some of which will take a bit of bravery):

  • writing a blog post about my thinking (check!)
  • posting on social media—perhaps a manifesto about connection…
  • revising my email signature to inform folks that if they really need to reach me they should call or text
  • and, the possibility of using a snappy and heartfelt autoresponder (in extreme cases of days of travel and training)

Designing a different approach to my dilemma—truly a response I can embrace— now feels upbeat, rejuvenating, and has motivated to step back into the fray. My needs for harmony, clarity, communication, order, effectiveness, integrity, respect (of others), and independence/self-expression are being met by my plans!