Disrupt & Discover!

When is the last time you placed yourself into an experience—an event and people who are totally new to you?

The fabulous room for my session, “Discover & Design the Life Your Desire.”

It’s been ten days since the EPIC International Summit in Santa Barbara, California. While I had an inkling of what it would be like, as I presented with my buddy Jill Langer at the online Summit last year, live and in-person was so different! The setting was gorgeous—The Music Academy of the West— and you could feel the energy in the room. 

When you have stepped back into special events, have you noticed any differences in how you engage with people, process new experiences and information, and socialize?

The number of participants felt just right—comfortable yet with opportunities to continuously meet new folks at meals, special sessions, and events. There was also time to be on our own—which I really appreciated! I love meeting people, having conversations, and participating in activities, I also want time to think and feel into what I have been experiencing.

My representation of my plans is on the right… my duck is on the left.

Given the opportunity, do you often go for new experiences or re-visit a methodology or technique to approach it from a new perspective?

I joined a session led by a Lego Serious Play facilitator because I loved the content. Truth be told, I was hesitant. My first experience with Lego Serious Play was no fun at all. Happily, the combination of the facilitator, peers at the table, content, and my attitude created a really fun experience with great conversation… and a Picasso-esque duck, plus a representation of my future plans. (Truth be told, I did have a moment where all I wanted to do was visualize/draw my plans… but I let that go.)

When you reflect on your time uncovering new ideas, asking questions, learning, engaging in deep conversations, and gaining a sense of camaraderie, what are your conclusions about your time devoted to the endeavor? 

I had plenty of time to savor and reflect upon my three-day experience. I brought business cards (which I thought might be a thing of the past), and I loved sharing and receiving them (perhaps because I am so terrible at remembering names, and they become little crib sheets for me). The cards are a reminder of the people, our time together, and the total experience. This was time well-spent. 

We found many vellela vellela—By-the-wind Sailor—on an afternoon beach walk.

We lived the Summit’s themes of, “disconnect, disrupt, and discover.”  Though it was challenging to “disconnect” —to put aside my phone, ipad, and computer—it was also a delight. Disrupting ways of thinking and being was fun and took me outside my comfort zone. Discovering new people, ideas, practices, and more left me brimming over.

How do you plan to amplify your experiences?

I have already contacted a half dozen folks about continuing our conversations. It feels wonderful, generative, exciting! 

I am a firm believer that we do not need to physically travel to different places to have the kinds of experiences I describe above… though it can be easier to jumpstart the creative process when we do.

I’d love to hear what you have done lately to shake it up for yourself—and the impact it has had on your whole life.

Getting it just right!

Tuesday’s session, Sketchnoting Makes Your Notes Come Alive!, was the epitome of an engaging session for everyone involved. It held all the elements of a stellar experience. I LOVE working with teens!

The Scene

The room was sitting room only—in a room set for 90 students, there were 100, so some were sitting and working on the floor in their business attire/nice clothing. (This was the annual FBLA/ Future Business Leaders of America conference for Pennsylvania—5000 students, and their advisers were attending.)

The students were:

  • early 
  • present and attentive
  • curious
  • vulnerable 
  • excited to learn
  • willing to experiment and step outside their comfort zone 
  • totally engaged 
  • responsive to my questions 
  • hungry for resources 
  • full of ideas
  • receptive to key ideas that might run counter to what they were hearing in their other sessions, such as: 
  • learn the methods, then create your own style—lean into it!
  • when you make a mistake—and you will because you’re human—learn from it and try again. (This was made real by my difficulty drawing a star in the way I planned—one of my signature icons, and I didn’t like what I drew… I called it an “epic fail” {perhaps a bit of hyperbole}, and yet they saw me make a mistake, in my area of expertise, in front of 100 people, call it out and move on to do it again better.

How often do adults show their vulnerability in front of teenagers? Or presenters in front of their audiences? 

After learning and practicing icons, graphic elements, figures, lettering styles, and layout (in this 45-minute session), the room erupted in conversations when given the opportunity to chat with a neighbor. They reveled in talking about their newfound skills.

Perhaps most exciting were their responses to my query about how they would use their new skills—every day in their classes because…

And their feedback, shared on sticky notes as they left the session, revealed their enthusiasm for the content learned and the experience. One young woman came over to speak with me after the session. She said, “This is what I love to do!” She showed me an origami crane and moved it. I loved it! I was so impressed that she had made it with a 3-inch square sticky note that I had given out for sharing their thoughts. She then gave it to me as a gift.

Just like the students in my session. This is one experience I won’t forget. 

When was the last time you completed a session, feeling energized, confident, and committed to using your new skills? I hope it was not too long ago!

Skillfully Navigating Mistakes

Mistakes come in all shapes and sizes, so to speak.

We all make ‘em.

When is the last time you made a mistake?

My most recent mistake was last night. (Hahaha! I wrote “My last mistake was last night” in my first draft—as if! Though there’s an interesting thought, what if I never made another mistake? Well, I’ll never find out the answer to that question!)

… I expected a course to be available to me, based on my mental calculation of dates, and so wrote customer service to ask about the “problem.“ A little while after writing the email, I realized my error. I immediately wrote to them and apologized for my error. Honestly, it was easy, in part, because it was so clear that I was wrong, and perhaps also that I didn’t have a relationship with them or a position to protect in this instance. Food for thought!

Earlier this week I was interested in an artist’s course. I received information about this tantalizing new opportunity in an email and also saw it on Instagram. As I read the copy and saw the Early Bird pricing I was astonished and delighted.

When I clicked through the link to register for the course, I discovered that the EB price was actually missing a zero… so while it was still a good price, I was disappointed. I also thought the artist should know about the significant error so that she could make the correction. I sent a quick email and received a speedy reply. She said to me that the information was already out there through her e-zine and she couldn’t correct it. I was unsatisfied with that response. I wrote her back and said I understood about ezines going out—I certainly have made my share of typos in writing and always want to recall the writings with errors and yet can’t — so I made the suggestion that she re-post on Instagram. I never heard back from her. It made me think less of her—though perhaps that’s too strong. It does make me wonder about her commitment to clarity, honesty, and transparency. It is just one action of a person so perhaps it is more accurate to say that it colored my impression of her and I am warier of working with her.

We all make mistakes.

And there are all different kinds of mistakes—from typos and wordos to pricing and more. And I wonder about the interrelationship between the kind of mistake made and the range of responses that are possible — from doing nothing to nearly obsessing over it.

In my training to become a member of the bikablo global team, we talked about transparency–sharing our mistakes and looking at them as opportunities for learning. It’s a conversation that I have in all my training programs too—as my mistakes are the chance to talk about how we skillfully work with errors, from both practical and social-emotional perspectives.

In my plorking (playing and working) as a Certified Zentangle Teacher, I share the philosophy of the Zentangle method.

There are no mistakes, we work with what we create and make it beautiful.

If you’ve tangled with me, then you know the pencils that we use in the kits that I send out to participants, have no erasers on them. Some folks are uncomfortable with that reality and that perspective.

On a related note, I’m about to start The Sketchbook Project, sponsored by the Brooklyn Art Library. I’ve wanted to do this for a couple of years and now feels like the right time. I’m delighted to discover that one of their themes for Volume No. Eighteen  is “no erasing.” It feels like a perfect fit! So as you can imagine, I’m going to make the entire book—16 pages, 32 surfaces (front and back)—a compendium of Zentangle patterns. I know I will make mistakes because I will be working with patterns that are new to me in combination with favorites of mine (and I make my share of mistakes with patterns that are familiar to me too). I’m also going to experiment with a variety of media and no doubt that will provide both joys and challenges.

I will most likely see, on a daily basis, how I am working with the mistakes that I make as a part of my journey. I’ll keep you posted on how it goes!

Where are you making mistakes? What are you learning as you work through and beyond them?