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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.

Adventures in Virtual Learning! The Good, the Bad & the Ugly

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How are you feeling about the variety of online experiences you are having of late? What are you loving, hating (too strong?), or wondering about?

What would you do differently?

In 2015, I designed, developed, and delivered a course on (wait for it) the design and development of live online deliveries. Even earlier (2013), I had the contract to create a course on successful strategies for facilitating live online training. Both courses attracted hundreds of people for one of the largest training companies in the world.

Probably just like you, I have spent an extraordinary amount of time online over the past three months. I have seen it all, people

  • who are gifted in their delivery and are working with programs with terrific designs and engaging content
  • with good intentions and no skills
  • who are gifted in delivering programs with poor designs and mediocre materials
  • who are not gifted in delivering even good material (though a better design would have improved their delivery)

I decided that I needed to have some fun with the (mostly mediocre) experiences I was having… so I am creating an interactive piece—I’ll share it next week!

What does a stellar delivery look, sound, and feel like to you?

Here are the categories I’m interested in—what’s your thinking? What would you add to this list or how might you re-configure it?

Orienting/Grounding

  • Welcome
  • Overview
  • Agenda/Roadmap
  • Agreements/Creation of Safe Space
  • Sharing Expectations
  • Check-in
  • Check-out

Engagement

  • On-time start and finish
  • Co-creating the experience
  • Holding the facilitator role both firmly and lightly
  • Being open to questions, discussions, and conversations throughout the session
  • Making the space for a variety of view and sharing experiences (if relevant)
  • Hearing from everyone in the room—as they desire it/working with the power dynamics inherent in every gathering

Connection

  • Using tech resources to introduce and connect people before the session
  • Cultivating rapport—between facilitator and participants and between participants
  • Ensuring a variety of partners in activities

Technology

  • Exploit capabilities of the tech resources
  • Planning for sufficient co-facilitators or facilitator & producer
  • Teaching participants to use the tech (in advance of the session)

Learning

  • Knowing the participants—who are they, what are their interests, knowledge, experience…
  • Focus on need- to-know info
  • Provide resources—before and after sessions

Visualizing your future—what are you imagining?

Looking toward the second half of 2020 causes me to pause… so much has changed so fast. I relish the opportunity to sit with markers and paper to savor and learn from my experiences.

  • How are you making time in your busy life to reflect?
  • What’s the nature of the journey you’re experiencing?
  • How are you dancing with the realities, and the possibilities contained within the changes you have experienced?

In the beginning…

My year started at a breakneck pace, it was exciting! By early March, my professional and personal lives had settled into a rhythm, and my plans for the year were unfolding. Friday the 13th of March was the day NYC shut down for business, and the last day of in-person training programs for me until… who knows?

As I make the time to discover the good in what has happened—both what was planned and what happened serendipitously over the past 16 weeks, I realize that there have been BIG developments!

  • How have your working relationships changed?

My bikablo work shifted from in-person to live, online sessions with my colleague, Jill Langer from Canada. What a delight that has been! I won’t overlook some of the initial questions, the challenges, and the ramping up to get comfortable with all the platforms and devices we’re using… I prefer to focus my attention on the new experience of working with a partner and the pleasure of developing stronger relationships with learners because we need to communicate more often.

Many members of the Bikablo global training team decided to teach, share ideas, and practices about online work. I would never have had so many interactions with my colleagues without the stimulus of the pandemic. These meetings have led to new methods, greater collegiality, and last Saturday’s Global Jam with a dozen co-hosts from around the world—an event that we co-created in less than four week’s time!

That experience, shifting from colleagues collaborating with the purpose of fine-tuning our methods to event planners, was a HUGE transformation in dynamics and group structure… happily, we weathered a bit of turbulent water and everyone enjoyed our inaugural event—participants and co-hosts alike! As we’re now talking about more events together, I feel confident we will grow into these new types of relationships—it’s fantastic!

Our final activity in the Bikablo Alumni Global Jam-What are our ideas for hope & inspiration?

  • What are you learning—formally and informally?

Back in January, I started a 45 session coaching course, and, after a dozen sessions, I asked to become part to group that had started work to develop a feedback system that works for the facilitator and the participants. (Don’t even get me started about how this process has put the cart before the horse…) This experience is/continues to be really interesting and challenging for me—I am an outsider! I am the only person who has an instructional design background and I am the newest to the field (of nonviolent communication) of the folks in the group of about six to eight regulars… I speak a different language and, perhaps even more glaringly, I have a very different style and pace of facilitation/using processes to move to solutions. The experience has afforded me the opportunity to be both in the moment, and outside of it. It is challenging work!

I’ve also filled my plate with courses that I’ve wanted to take for a long time—Developing an Appreciative Mindset (David Cooperrider Institute), Compassion Cultivation Training (Compassion Institute), Appreciative Living Learning Circle Facilitator Training (Jackie Kelm) and, (coming up in July) the vAIFT/virtual Appreciative Inquiry Facilitator Training (Center for Appreciative Inquiry). It’s so much fun —and so much work!

  • How are you growing?
  • What’s the good that you have experienced?
  • How will you work with the difficult times, using them as guideposts for a different future?

I am experiencing a difference in my thinking and interactions with colleagues and family as a result of my learning and practice. Integrating these areas of knowledge, watching the changes and growth in my relationships with myself, with others, and myself in relation to others, has been fascinating! It’s been good and challenging, and I know it keeps me on the path to more conscious communication.

  • Where are you visualizing for the second half of 2020—what do you want?
  • Which of your strengths will support you in creating the future you desire?
  • What questions excite you?
  • Where will you focus your attention?

All of these experiences, plus my interest, training, and work in the fields of positive psychology, mindfulness, and several other fields are leading to the creation of a new coaching program. It is quintessentially me—to learn, practice, do, and create new offerings for my clients. I am thrilled to be on this path!

Please reach out to me with questions that arise for you, or if you seek for a partner in exploring what your future holds.