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Relief, delight, spaciousness, agency—these are the feelings I experience…

when I look at my calendar this morning. No appointments, calls, or video chats, no classes or deadlines for today! While there’s lots to be done, I am the designer of my day—and I LOVE it! Sure, we all have (varying degrees) of opportunity to shape our days—this one is bliss for me, as I am feeling overstuffed of late. The chance to plan, prepare, and dive into my projects is exhilarating.

What about you? How are you feeling about your days (and evenings)? Have you figured out how to ride the waves of work, opportunity, and connection — both professional and personal?

It’s possible that I’m more in tune with appreciating this unusual circumstance because I am in the middle of taking the course, Developing an Appreciative Mindset offered by the David Cooperrider Institute, and reading, The Joy of Appreciative Living by Jacqueline Kelm. I am quite consistently conscious of making the time to imagine, reflect upon, and note/journal about what I am grateful for, what will bring me joy, and developing an appreciative eye. This work takes me back to my life-changing experience in Martin Seligman’s Authentic Happiness Coaching program, in 2004. His book, Authentic Happiness, and the work in the program made many of the practices integral to both my professional and personal lives. 

What do you know about your strengths? How are you leveraging them during this topsy-turvy time? If you haven’t taken the Strengths survey at The VIA Character Institute, I can’t say enough great things about it! It’s free, requires maybe 15 minutes of your time, and yields valuable and actionable information—even if it just confirms your thinking! It’s what you do with the results that can make a huge difference in your life.

I noticed that my results had changed just a wee bit since 2004…

My strengths—now and then!

A snippet from Our Family Tree of Strengths

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the EuViz 2014 Conference in Berlin, Understanding the Light and Dark Sides of Our Strengths

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Over the years, in my consulting, training, and volunteer board work, I have used the survey results to help people nurture greater understanding of themselves and others, to leverage strengths of teams.

The strengths survey results of the 2014 IFVP board members.

 

The strengths survey results of NPower interns

What would be possible for you, if you were to consciously and consistently, use your strengths? Can you imagine it?

I LOVE these kinds of conversations! If you take the survey and want to chat about your results—and how to work with them in your life, let’s do it! All my coaching clients complete and reflect on the survey results before we start our formal work together. Click here to join me for a complimentary coaching session.

Visual Note-Making—My Newest Self-Reflection Tool!

I came to the realization slowly… after I had written and drawn all my thoughts. The ideas, questions, concerns, and feelings of frustration, curiosity, and uncertainty were still fresh for me. Once I stepped back from my drawing and realized that I was using it as a reflection and self-coaching tool, I had to chuckle!

Templates, creating vision maps (hand-drawn, as different from visions boards {though I do that too and LOVE it}), and capturing coaching client sessions by graphically recording them (for my notes of the experience) are all in my wheelhouse… but I had never done this before. Sure, I used mindmaps and other visuals to plan or capture, but this was different. This literally helped me see my thinking and feelings, enabling me to have great clarity about my personal experience in a meeting and to begin to determine if I wanted to continue being a part of the group for future meetings. It was AWESOME! I do this all the time with clients and had NEVER done it for myself. How crazy is that?!

I want to know—do you use your visual practitioner skills for yourself? As you can tell, I am not talking about using visuals for visioning or planning or creating agendas (all great uses of our skills) instead I mean using thinking and drawing as a reflection tool?

When I got over the shock of realizing I had used my favorite tool on myself, I remember that for about three months, many years ago, instead of journaling about my days, I drew mindmaps of my days. It was super fun and fast… Alas, because I did it close to bedtime, the habit didn’t last that long… I am a morning gal and sometimes fall asleep with a coffee cup in my hand.

In practice, journaling spanning my years and experiences…

In thinking more about this, because I am excited to do more of it, I’m reminded of one of my tasks in my current coursework on Appreciative Inquiry from the David Cooperrider Institute. We just read about the importance of journaling in a Forbes article.

I have many journals, spanning from my teen years to college and graduate school requirements for my teaching credentials.

As a Points of You trainer, I journal all the time about the cards and spreads I work with from the deck.

I’m also reminded of a coaching session that I did with my colleague, Erin Randall. She was the impetus for me starting very successful bikablo programming in Austin, Texas. In the coaching session, she asked me to draw what I was thinking—and it was HARD! I was unclear about my own thinking and that made representing it particularly challenging. In the more recent instance, I’m writing about, it was so much easier because I had a jumble of thoughts, feeling, and needs that just need an avenue of expression.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, in an effort to practice both my drawing skills and integrate more of nonviolent communication into my work, I have been capturing (through drawing/in single panel/comic format) moments between people that demonstrate or indicate their feelings and the needs behind them. I have quite the little collection of files cards with drawings… I see this as another form of journaling… though maybe I am stretching the word too far?

 

 

In essence, I am fired up again about the possibility of journaling using my visual practitioner skills—what fun!

How about you? Do you use your tools for yourself, your personal reflection? Please share if you do! If you want to chat about this, let’s do it!

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 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!