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The Fresh Breeze of Visualization

True story 

I’m reading the newest issue of TD/Talent Development magazine and the editorial/Hot Topic is “Curtail Chaos in Digital Workplace Communication.“ I think to myself, I should give this a fast read, it’s an important topic… in fact, I have suffered the consequences of abrupt, incomplete, task-oriented missives that ignore the humanity of all involved (as I am sure you have too.)

I get into the article, and I say to myself, “Oh yes! This is exactly what I’ve been experiencing in a few of my work relationships.” The author Derrick Thompson, cites the white paper, Conversation Chaos in the Digital Age, by Fierce CEO Susan Scott. “It’s likely that remote team members have not had a single face-to-face encounter with coworkers during the past year. Scott explains that those spontaneous break room chats that many workers take for granted can help build trust and rapport.”

So the experience that most concerns me, at this moment, is working with folks I have never met face-to-face in person or only once or twice before the pandemic. In our work for the organization, we gather once a month for a group meeting and communicate primarily through Slack. In one relationship in particular, I have never had the opportunity to have other-than-work-related conversations. When this individual and I communicate, it’s always to address a problem or the (unsolicited) suggestion of an idea that feels like it has an edge to it. (Of course, that’s my perception of the communication, I do not know its intent, just its impact on me.) We’ve had little time to develop any relationship or to work together and celebrate successes. As you can imagine this is a situation ripe for misunderstanding… and it’s happened more than once. I am troubled by this situation because in general, we both appear to be nice folks. 

What is happening? 

What can I do differently? (As change begins with me.)

As luck would have it, serendipitously, we have recently been given a task to do together. 

Before the meeting, I worked to gain a larger perspective on the situations and us, and to consider this a fresh start (a bit of beginner’s mind/being present to just that moment, leaving history behind). I also remembered a similar situation, a disconnect with a colleague, and my response to that challenge. I picked up the book Dynamic Relationships, by Jaqueline M. Stavros and Cheri B. Torres, and gained new knowledge, skills, and practices. I can’t recommend the book highly enough!

Perhaps not surprisingly, the experience went really well. We were able to show up, in part because we had the time to interact just a little socially, and because we had to work together to achieve the task. I am heartened by this result!

In thinking more about the TD article though, I am troubled by the omission of what it means to bring our whole selves to work and relationships. “A more effective way to begin these conversations (giving feedback) is to provide a fact-based, objective example of what you observed and then ask the other person to share their experience.” 

While I am all about speaking of the facts, (though they are seen through our own lenses), I remain concerned that there is no acknowledgment of the role that emotions play in our thinking and behavior. Whether we recognize our feelings or not, they live within us all the time, influencing our thoughts and perceptions. My conviction around this belief has led to extensive reading, training, and practice in the field of Nonviolent Communication (compassionate communication). Awareness of ourselves and others, and working with our emotions to co-create relationships is the place where I begin… sometimes I begin again and again… and that’s a good practice!

In response to the impact of the pandemic on interpersonal work relationships, I am offering sessions for teams and groups in organizations who wish to experience the joy of virtual visual collaboration. Colleagues can come together to create team guidelines for collaboration, work on a joint project, generate a strategic plan, a roadmap, or… the sky’s the limit. I invite you to imagine how you want your work relationships to develop over the next few months, read through the short document* that describes the essence of the offering, and reach out to me for a conversation. 

* bikablo offering — The Fresh Breeze of Visualization

What inspires you?

Last Friday, at the Allentown museum (PA) I saw a piece that struck me as brilliant and inspirational…

As you can see from the description, the artist, Sam Gilliam, created a piece, then cut it up, and placed the pieces in a different configuration. I was gob-smacked!

I thought of my Zentangle work. I could create a piece and tear it or cut it up! It sounded exciting and scary! I’ve never done this—destroyed, torn up, or reassembled my work…

I approached the new adventure with a bit of nervousness because, in general, I like what I create. So I took a photo at the various stages of creation, the marker and paper, the shading that I added… and truth be told, to get a little more freedom, I made a copy of the piece before cutting it up. The piece didn’t need to be complete… I usually fill almost all the space on the surface yet since it would be a mash-up perhaps more white space was fine. I’m not sure about that thinking. It was liberating and maybe faulty—we’ll see!

 I did a bit of preliminary experimenting and didn’t like the results of tearing the paper so I decided to cut my work into pieces. I also experimented with a tile (what we Zentangle-lovers call the 3.5 inch square of Italian paper that we generally work with).

I was excited and curious throughout the process wondering how much to cut and whether I really cared if the pieces truly fit together like a puzzle. Does it need to be a perfect square or rectangle again? Is that overthinking it? Or, should I create more prototypes? It was beginning to feel kind of heavy, too up in my head—for now. I just wanted to see a few quick results, learn from them, and then take the plunge.

When was the last time inspired you were inspired? What did you do with the thought and feeling?

Here are the beginning stages of the process. Here are a few photos and a chatty video of my experience cutting up/re-purposing my original artwork

 

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(Click the link to watch the video.)

If you’re pressed for time, just watch the reel on insta, though it won’t show you my final design!

What do you think? I am still reflecting on the experience.

Looking backward to look forward

Gosh, I had a bit of a wonky week last week. I’m wondering if you have had the same experience of late?

I finished a training program, which was awesome! It’s such fun to see people’s skills grow throughout the bikablo trainings. And, I’m in the middle of a new, big, long-term project.

I have to admit it, I’m good at beginnings and endings, it’s that middle time in multi-month projects that really challenges me—maintaining the momentum while simultaneously working on short terms endeavors.

I have A LOT of pieces to manage with this project and I’ve noticed that the program that I’m in to support me has a really linear approach… I am a global/big picture thinker, so that’s a point of friction that I am working to smooth out. It’s a growth opportunity (and I work to frame it that way).

Gathering up all the pieces to the puzzle, seeing everything at once, and then creating order.

I am also, a lover of new and different things and a few one hour art courses (from the Brooklyn Art Library) popped up during my lunchtime which I felt the desire to experience. So the week felt topsy-turvy for me, which is fine, just different.

And, lastly, truth be told we had two weeks of unbelievably gorgeous weather and I did feel like playing hooky. Instead, I worked outside as much as I could and that was the right balance for me.

I am now looking ahead to the remainder of 2021 and reflecting on the year it has been, not just the past month, but January to June. For me, it’s been a time of challenges, learning, change, creating new routines, and working with new people—for the most part, great stuff!

So I’m wondering about you as we approach the middle of 2021.

Are you making time to pause, assess, reflect, and imagine how you will move forward?

What are you feeling good or great about from the first six months of the year? Making the time to celebrate our achievements and realize the foundation that we continue to create for success is so important.

What are you dreaming about for the summer into the fall and fall into winter (or winter into spring and spring into summer, depending on where your feet touch the ground)? What experiments might you create to work and play with new ideas, learning, practices, and collaborations for the remainder of 2021?

I’m finding inspiration for thinking differently about my living and planning both day-to-day and long-term in all kinds of places. Whether it’s:

  • plorking (playing and working) with a small, dedicated group of visual practitioners to introduce our work* to the world—supporting those who are planning their end of life experiences
  • an art exhibit of Calder’s sculptures or a cracked coconut (the latter as substrate for my Zentangle play)

  • a new way experiencing myself (a new body scan technique from the  Balance app — different than the way I deliver to others and so interesting to me!)
  • reading a variety of books (Austin Kleon’s, Show Your Work! and How to carry what can’t be fixed, by Megan Devine).

These sources feed me.

What is nourishing your right now? I hope you will share your finds and practices with me.

* Learn more about VEOLI/Visualizing And of Life Issues here. And, if you’re interested, join our Open House for visual practitioners on July 14th at 4:30 pm ET. Here is the link to register.

These sources feed me.

Join me for the Bikablo Basic Day 1 Virtual Training next week!

Jill Langer, my Bikablo colleague in Canada, and I are offering our last virtual session for the summer next week. There’s still time to register and receive the materials in advance of the training. We’d love to have you join us for the learning and the fun!

Here are the details and the registration link.

Please reach out to me with any questions that arise.