How do you do your best work?

What’s your style of engaging in a new project?

A few experiences I’ve had over the past month have highlighted and reminded me of the ways in which I work best. Yesterday, I participated in the #WICxWorld Records: Guinness World Records title attempt for the most users in a vision board hangout. Patti Dobrowolski was the presenter and I joined several hundred people in an attempt to make a world record. I met Patti at the 2013 IFVP (International Forum of Visual Practitioners)  Big Apple conference, where I attended her workshop, bought her book, and used her future planning/visioning technique.

Her approach resonates with me and I have used her template myself and with conference participants over the years. My most memorable event was in Bucharest in 2015. I combined questions to be answered by using The Coaching Game deck* with teaching people to draw, and then creating their goals for the upcoming year based on their conversations with colleagues.


Last night, I discovered several aspects of my process/endeavoring to do my best work that aren’t always apparent to me.

  • I like the idea of getting together with folks and using a process that is fun, exciting, and will yield a tangible result.
  • Gathering up my tools—big paper, markers, colored pencils, and Gelly Roll Pens—is such fun and enables me to slip easily into a generative frame of mind.
  • When there is constant conversation/auditory stimuli (talking), I can only work at a surface level on tasks. I require quiet time (silence or instrumental music—I love using the app,  focus@will)  to set the stage for me to engage in deeper work.

While I like what I created last night, it was not the in-depth work that I needed and wanted to do. So that will be my work later today or over the weekend using my own, slightly different approach. (I am a huge fan of mindmapping for this visioning process.)

I also just completed a paper that was a reflection exercise on my development over the past year in my chaplaincy training program. In my desire to answer respond to the prompts thoroughly, I reread all my papers about the courses I have taken, the books read, the projects completed, and field trips to agencies and organizations.

I had to smile at my approach. I’m reminded of my dad who would chide me for being a woman with a doctorate who had to read every item on the menu for making a decision about what to eat.

As you may imagine, it’s a style of engaging with what’s in front of me. I use that approach with everything I do. I need to know all the possibilities or the scope and depth of the information to be considered before I can move forward comfortably. I have found this approach to be both a blessing and a curse.

What’s your style? Is it to respond to the prompts in front of you knowing that the answers are within you and you can easily access them?

Or, do you prefer to review and reflect then sift and sort?

Ultimately, I crafted the story of my transformation. Well, it didn’t follow the smooth storyline that I enjoy—here’s where I was a while ago, here is where I am now, and this is what I see for the future—I believe I conveyed answers to the prompts in a way that revealed not only the answers but also me and my story.

As we take a moment to reflect on your processes of engagement, what do you realize? I’d love to hear it!

*If you are not familiar with this card deck, it is a wonderful tool that can be used in so many different ways. You can learn more about it on my website here.