From Confusion to Clarity Part 2: Think About Confusion and Clarity as A Relatable System

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Why is understanding the world as a system important? Hm. Well, if you consider all that you know, feel, and see as unrelated, it feels precarious. Like we are sort of floating around, devoid of any relation to each other, and all that we see, feel, and know.

If we, however, consider the world, and all that we know, feel, and see as a connected system, it provides a grounding of sorts.

In From Confusion to Clarity Part 0: Change As A System of Related Parts, I write about considering confusion and clarity as part of a related system. And, then in From Confusion to Clarity Part 1: From Confusion to Clarity in 5 Simple Steps, I write about 5 steps you can take to move yourself from confusion to clarity.

Now let’s consider confusion and clarity as a system using the system we used to consider change. Ready? Let’s go.

First, let’s redefine our system of change, and the related parts. It looks like this.

Alright, now let’s take a look at confusion and clarity within this same system. It looks like this.

Alright, there we go. Now, as we did with change as a system of related parts, let’s go through each of these.

Order and Clarity

When things are ordered we feel a sense of clarity. When they are not, we don’t. What does it really mean to have clarity?

Let’s define clarity.

clarity 

noun/ˈklærət̮i/ [uncountable] 

  1.  the quality of being expressed clearly
    1. a lack of clarity in the law
    2. The brilliant clarity of his argument could not be disputed.AWL Collocations
  2. the ability to think about or understand something clearly
    1. clarity of thought/purpose/vision.

There we go.

Now, if the external world is occurring in a way that makes sense to us internally, we can say that we have some sense of clarity. And yes, clarity, like most things, lives along a continuum. Meaning that some people have more clarity, and some less.

There are, of course, other internal factors that contribute to our sense of clarity. What are those? How we eat and drink, and how we exercise and sleep are very important in the clarity department.

As we can see then, there are two ways to think about clarity and order. That which we see as ordered externally, and that which we feel as ordered internally.

Either way, when a change occurs externally or internally, it can disrupt our clarity, and cause disorder. What kind of change? Any change really. However, the larger the change is, the more disorder we will know, feel, and see. And, the more subtle the change, the less disorder.

Know that there is always change. Sometimes the change is so small we don’t actually notice it. However, when the change is large, like COVID-19, we definitely notice.

Photo by Kevin Grieve on Unsplash

Disorder and Confusion

When there is a large change, there will be lots of disorder, both external and internal. The level of disorder and the confusion that follows will depend on your particular context. Meaning, how much you are affected by the change.

Now, let’s define confusion.

confusion

noun  /kənˈfjuːʒn/ /kənˈfjuːʒn/

  1.  [uncountable, countable] a state of not being certain about what is happening, what you should do, what something means, etc.
    • The announcement caused a lot of confusion.

Very good.

With a change like COVID-19 the level of external change for everyone has been high. However, the level of change still lives along a continuum. For instance, if you work in the medical field, your level of change is very high.

Likewise, if you are a small business owner, very high as well. Depends on what you do, where you live, and how much the change is impacting you and your life.

The higher the external change, the more disorder and confusion you may know, feel, and see. However, the level of disorder and confusion is directly correlated to the amount of internal disorder and confusion you feel.

If, for instance, you have high levels of resilience, you may feel less disorder and confusion than someone with lower levels of resilience.

Therefore, someone with higher levels of resilience will begin reordering their life and perspective more quickly than someone with lower levels. Important.

Because clarity and confusion are a relatable system, we know that disorder and confusion will eventually stabilize for everyone. Because human beings are resilient, we are always reordering that which we know to be true about the world, even when we are unaware of doing so.

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Reorder and Translate

As we begin to reorder our perspective and lives, we essentially take the new information (due to the change we’ve experienced), and translate it into chunks of information that fit into our worldview.

We then assimilate the new information into what we know, feel, and see. We, in essence, make the change we’ve experienced, or are experiencing, “normal.”

Meaning that we shift what we know, feel, and see to ensure they are conducive to our new reality.

There is always the possibility of resistance. Of course, this also happens. Yet, to survive any change, we must, at some point, begin to reorder and translate our new reality into something we can understand. Something we can understand and ultimately thrive through.

Yet, like all concepts we’ve discussed, thriving also lives along a continuum. Meaning that some people will thrive more during change, and others less so.

There is also a correlation between thriving and resilience. Therefore, the higher your levels of resilience, the more likely you are to thrive during change.

And, guess what? Just as we reorder our internal and external realities to thrive during the present change, another change happens, and the confusion to clarity system begins anew again. Yep.

Again, with smaller changes, we may not be aware of traveling through the system from clarity to confusion, and back again. Depends on our level of awareness, how observant we are, and how sensitive we are to change.

Photo by Caleb Lucas on Unsplash

Order and Clarity

Back in an ordered world, both externally and internally, we have more clarity. We know, feel, and see more clarity. We’ve done the work necessary, whether we are aware or not, of moving ourselves through a relatable system from clarity through confusion and back to clarity. Phew.

Imagine that this system happens over and over and over again. Again and again, all the time. Anytime we face a change, no matter how small or how large.

Of course, as was aforementioned, the larger the change, the more we are aware of moving from clarity through confusion, and back to clarity.

Why is it important to understand confusion and clarity as a relatable system?

Well, confusion can be scary. When COVID-19 began to take hold here locally, I was very confused. I remember being at work, sometime around March 12, and saying or thinking, not sure which, something like, nah, they won’t close the college. Phew, little could I have imagined what was about to occur.

It is important to understand our own confusion, where it comes from, and why we have it when we do.

Likewise, understanding confusion and clarity as a system can reduce anxiety and fear of the unknown inside of larger changes, like the pandemic.

Knowing that we will eventually work ourselves back to order and clarity is important. We must know, however, that confusion will come again. It has to. The world is full of chaos and confusion.

We believe the world is ordered and stable. Well, philosophically that is not so. And, it is also not practically so. Both.

If anyone you know has ever argued against the last statement, ask them now. COVID-19 has shown everyone that the world they know, feel, and see as stable and constant is not constant and stable. Constancy and stability are an illusion.

The world is chaotic and unstable. Yet, remember, change, like clarity, comes and goes, just like everything else on this planet. Including us.

Definitions taken from Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries.

#change, #chaosandunstable, #clarity, #confusion, #confusiontoclarity, #covid-19, #disorder, #externalchange, #fromconfusiontoclarity, #increaseyourclarity, #internalchange, #levelsofresilience, #order, #orderandstability, #philosophy, #reorder, #resilience, #resilienceandchange, #systems, #systemsofchange, #thirving, #thrivingandresilience, #whatwefeel, #whatwesee

Moving From Concept to Execution: Implementing Developmental Growth Opportunities at Work

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Photo by Daria Nepriakhina on Unsplash

This week I’ve been reflecting upon how we learn. Though there are learning styles, which are important to know, I’ve been reflecting more upon the process of learning. How we take in new information, process it, reflect upon it, adapt it, and formalize it into the other processes and systems we currently use.

Why might this be important to consider, understand, and become familiar with?

Good question. It is important to consider and understand, because this understanding can help leaders create bridges for people. The familiarity of which can create a bridge for your team and move you from concept into execution. Let’s take a look how.

Learning

It’s important for everyone to have access to developmental opportunities. To learn and to grow. Important. Knowing this, how do you suppose you create these opportunities? While larger organizations typically have a model for training staff, it does not always follow that everyone in the organization has the same access to developmental opportunities. Hm.

What to do, then, when your business or organization does not offer training, or those training programs are limited in some way, or designated for only mid-level and executive employees?

Create them from within

As a leader, you can create opportunities for your team to develop and grow. How? Find out what each person’s strengths and weaknesses are, always starting with yourself first, and then find ways to engage them with new concepts and tools to stretch them, and help them grow.

For instance, we created an opportunity in our second year as a team to develop strategic thinking skills, which included several training days. The culmination of which was deploying a system for organizing our daily work and balancing strategy. The need was there, and we moved it forward, and so can you.

Here are some considerations on how to get started.
  • Define the need – here are some questions to assist your thinking.
    • Where is the gap?
    • What training is needed to fill the gap?
    • Who will facilitate the training?
    • When will you implement the training?
    • How will you evaluate the training’s effectiveness?
    • What is the return on investment of the training?
  • Create a training plan with internal or external training professionals – here are some questions to consider.
    • What is the training goal?
    • How will you know when you’ve met your goal?
    • What does post-training traction look like?
    • What metrics will you use to measure traction?
  • Implement – communicate about the training, create buy-in with staff, and implement.
  • Evaluate – make sure you have traction.
  • Repeat – we created a system of training once a quarter. Worked well.
Photo by Gaelle Marcel on Unsplash

Adjustment

With any learning process, there is a period of time that people need to adjust to their new workflow reality. How can you assist staff in making these necessary adjustments?

Here are a few ideas.

  • Create a post-training system to ensure that you have traction – the system should at the very least include:
    • Post-training follow up – what did you and the team learn, and how will you move the new concepts and tools forward.
    • Periodic staff check-in’s – I’ve always used one-with-ones to ensure that staff have the support they need, and are adjusting well to their new workflow reality.
    • Measure your movement – create a way to measure your post-training progress. This might be quantitative metrics, such as increases in revenue, or it may be qualitative, such as increased workflow effectiveness.
  • Continue to follow-up – to really gain traction, the new concepts and tools must be incorporated into everyone’s daily work, including yours. There really is no other way. If this does not happen, the new concepts and tools you are implementing will lack traction.
  • Create consistency – once you have movement, start talking with the leadership team about the next training. Be consistent, and offer training opportunities at a regular drumbeat, so staff can count on, and expect them.
  • Monitor progress – continue to check in with staff on their progress. Monitor traction. You may find that after three months, the team needs a refresher on a topic you’ve already covered. That’s okay. What really matters is that you’ve created access for your team to develop and grow; and that you will remain committed to doing so, refreshers and all.
Photo by Andrew Dunstan on Unsplash

Integrate

Once the team has adjusted to their new reality, which includes new concepts and tools, you will need to devise individual development plans. These plans will ensure that each staff integrates the new concepts and tools into their current workflow in a way that suits their learning style, which will increase retention, mastery, and traction.

Where to start?

As was aforementioned, I’ve used one-with-one’s often in my professional career. I find that they work well to create plans tailored to the individual. These plans can also be used to track progress and as a coaching tool.

The most important thing about integration, is that all staff actively integrate the new concepts and tools into their daily workflow. You are building healthy habits in this regard. Really. People like habits, and once you have created that habituation within yourself, a must, you can deploy that to the team.

Here are a few examples.
  • Whiteboards – some people are very visual, and literally need to see the work drawn or sketched out. I’m like that. If you have staff that are visual, do whiteboard work with them, so they can see the new concepts and tools inside of their current workflow. Important.
  • Post-its – funny. I always say it matters less how you organize yourself, than it does that you develop a system that works for you. And, if post-its work for you, like they do me, use them. Again, what matters is that the staff member can feel a level of comfort with the new concepts and tools, inside of a system they’ve already developed.
  • Calendars – a good way to organize by setting reminders for new tasks. For instance, after we completed a strategic thinking training day last year, I had every staff member add one hour per week of strategic thinking to their calendars.
  • Project Management Systems – we’ve been using a project management system for over a year now. Works for some on the team, and not as much for others. Yet, having a systematized way to move larger projects forward is important. I’ve found this addition helpful, and a contributor to the team’s overall traction.
Photo by Andrew Dunstan on Unsplash

Reflect

We all need time to process new information, time to reflect. I advocate for giving your staff the same consideration you give yourself, especially when incorporating new concepts and tools into their daily work. You need it as a leader, and so do they. We all do.

How do you incorporate reflection time into the day?

If you use reflection often as a daily strategy this will be simpler. If you do not, there may be a stretch here for you, however, I believe it is a worthwhile endeavor. We are all inundated with constant stimuli, and the need to take a break from that stimuli to really get clear on our work is necessary and needed.

Here are a few strategies you can try.
  • Build that time in for yourself first – the only way to create traction with anything, is to create it for yourself first. Once you have a system down, you can coach and guide people into it. If you are not familiar with reflection time, add 30-minute reflection times into your daily calendar. Try it a couple times a week, with a goal to have it worked into your calendar daily.
  • Coach the team on taking the same time – once you’ve practiced taking reflection time for yourself, you can advise the team on doing the same thing. Have them build it in similarly. A day or two a week to start, with the goal of having daily reflection time.
  • Create reflection time after meetings and one-with-one’s – another strategy that we employ is taking time to reflect upon decisions. As you practice this strategy, you will come to see, as we have, that many decisions do not need to be made quickly. You have time. Take it, and use it wisely to reflect and engage with yourself and your team on the best course of action.
Photo by Andrew Dunstan on Unsplash

Formalize

Once you have strategies in place to incorporate new learning, integration, adjustment, and reflection time into everyone’s workflow, you can start to make plans to formalize these new processes and systems. Simply meaning that to build these healthy work habits, and to have them stick, they must be practiced daily; and they need to be documented.

As we’ve discussed, people all learn differently, so create a few different ways to engage with the team, which will ensure you maintain traction on the aforementioned learning strategies. The main way we move projects of this size forward is to input them into our project management software, which has worked pretty well.

Again, what you use to formalize and document a new system or process, of which learning and development are two, matters less than you taking the time to create a learning and development plan for yourself, each team member, and the overall team.

I think you will find that the payoff in terms of work efficiency, overall team moral, and team cohesion will increase as you continue to create opportunities for people to learn new things, and to develop themselves at work. And, once that is accomplished, you and your team will be ready to move from concept to execution, and into the traction zone.

Be well, and lead well.

#businesstraining, #creative-process, #creativity, #developinghighqualityrelationships, #developingourselves, #developingprocessesandsystems, #developingresilience, #developingteams, #development, #developmentandgrowth, #experientiallearning, #individual-learning, #individualtraning, #leadership, #leadershipdevelopment, #leadershipessentials, #leadershipinaction, #leadershipmindset, #leadershippractice, #leadershipprinciples, #learning, #learning-and-engagement, #professionaldevelopment, #team, #teambuilding, #teamdevelopment, #teamtraining, #training

A Quick Invitation

Photo by Andrew Dunstan on Unsplash

I’ve written a lot about the need for all of us to take time to be with ourselves, for ourselves. And, it is equally true that we also need space to be with other people, when we choose.

Why is this important?

As I’ve also written about, we are social beings, yes, even you introverts. You are. Really. Now, you may choose to be less social, than say, an extrovert, like me, and that is understandable. Yet, you are still a social being. We all are.

Being with people, when we choose, is even more important today. Why? It’s harder to make happen due to the pandemic. Yet, as I’ve also written about, some educational organizations are pivoting their business models and creating remote spaces for people to be together. To connect. Important.

Well then, as promised, here is the Linn-Benton Community College Extended Learning fall term remote schedule of classes and training. Extended Learning Remote Class Schedule 2020.

What kind of classes?

Oh, good question. Here are some of what is on offer. Classes and workshops in, Foods, Art, Fitness, History, Language, Professional Growth, Gardening, Going into Business, Foundations of Business, Small Business Management, and much, much more.

The invitation?

Consider taking a remote class or workshop. We have some amazing instructors, and some awesome classes.

Hope to see you in class!

Stay healthy and well,

Jeff

#artclasses, #businessworkshops, #connectingwithpeople, #foodsclasses, #historyclasses, #humanconnection, #lifelonglearning, #musicclasses, #noncrediteducation, #pivotingbusinessmodels, #remoteclasses, #remoteconnection, #remotelearning, #takingclasses, #takingremoteclasses

REPOST – Developmental Growth and Transformation: A Distinction

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Photo by Franck V. on Unsplash

I am reposting this article as part of the transformation video series. Each video will have an accompanying blog. This blog actually spurred the idea for the video series. Here, then, is Developmental Growth and Transformation: A Distinction.

Developmental Growth and Transformation: A Distinction

Have you ever thought about the difference between developmental growth and transformation? Or, have or do you consider them the same? Hm.

There is an important distinction between developmental growth and transformation, which is important to both personal and professional development. Let’s take a look.

First, let’s define the terms.

development

Translate development into Spanish

NOUN

  • The process of developing or being developed.‘she traces the development of the novel’
    1. A specified state of growth or advancement.‘the wings attain their full development several hours after birth

transformation

Translate transformation into Spanish

NOUN

  • Thorough or dramatic change in form or appearance.‘its landscape has undergone a radical transformation’
    1. A metamorphosis during the life cycle of an animal.‘Both the molting process and the metamorphic transformation from larva to pupa are coordinated and regulated by hormones.’

Ah, do you see the dinsticiton? Either way, let’s work it through.

Development

When you are interested in development, meaning available to it, you occupy a space that welcome’s learning. You stand outside of what you believe to be true about the world, and how you occupy it, and welcome new knowledge, new types of understanding, and new ways of being. Simple. Or is it?

Well, because we have an ego, or, wait, do we? Well, for the purposes of this post, let’s assume we do. Because we have an ego, we don’t like being wrong.

We are constantly seeking validation of what we know. Why?

Because it fits into our worldview. It is what we know. When information comes in, we assemble it into the the narrative of our worldview and who we believe we are. We confirm our ego.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is iulia-mihailov-91racj7xmxe-unsplash.jpg
Photo by Iulia Mihailov on Unsplash

If the information doesn’t fit into our current worldview, we really only have two choices.

Deny the existence of this new information, or become open to it.

Denying this new information is called denial. We are actively denying that another way to look at a situation or event is possible. Egocentric.

However, when we are open to the possibility that there are other ways to think about a situation or event, we have now entered into the developmental arena.

Meaning, that we can now take this new information in, make sense of it, and do something with it.

Even if the information doesn’t fit into our current worldview, if we are open, we can incorporate it into our worldview rather easily. It is all about being open to new information, new ways of understanding, and new ways of being.

The simplest example is to consider development at school and work. When we are confronted with new information, we have a choice. Assimilate and incorporate that new information into our existing worldview, creating new knowledge, or reject it.

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Photo by Saketh Garuda on Unsplash

Example.

I am always in conversation with the team about our goals, objectives, and priorities. Recently, I was asked about hiring someone to run Zoom technology for the upcoming professional development trainings.

I, however, was unsure about the need. Didn’t know. I needed to think about it.

Well, the next week, I ran a Zoom meeting with the team. The meeting was 90-minutes and was about creating our next 30-day priorities. Part of the meeting was creating breakout rooms, which you can do in Zoom. The meeting was a complete disaster. Really, it was. What did I learn?

That you absolutely need someone to run technology while the person running the meeting does just that, runs the meeting. I learned through doing the meeting that hiring someone for a Zoom tech position was absolutely necessary. We are hiring someone right now.

I moved from questioning the need, reflecting upon it, to learning that we definitely needed the new position. I developed.

Alright, that’s development. Opportunities for development are available every day. If you don’t see them, it might be that you are avoiding them or in denial about them. It’s not a demerit. I didn’t develop for a long time. Really. I wasn’t interested. Not a judgement. Just a fact. Let’s now look at transformation.

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Photo by Suzanne D. Williams on Unsplash

Transformation

Now, transformation implies a complete change to the object, thing, or person. Yep, that’s right. How then does transformation differ from development?

While development requires an active openness, as we’ve discussed, transformation requires openness and a complete and total letting go of what was, in favor of what will be. It requires a shift from a focus on the external to the internal.

Transformation is about questioning all you know. Every ounce of what you know, or beleive you know, must be questioned.

Further, you must be willing to let go of how you previously viewed the world. Open to a continual process of creating new information, new ways of understanding, and new ways of being.

The distinction is that with transformation you actively seek out opportunities to question the ways you think, act, and occur. Internally focused.

You are continuously interested in disrupting your old habits and ways of thinking while creating new habits and ways of thinking.

Let me give you an example to help with the distinction.

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Photo by DISRUPTIVO on Unsplash

Let us say you want to develop leadership skills. You can develop leadership skills in lots of ways. You can take classes, read books, even put leadership principles into practice in your life. That is development.

You incorporate new information into the preexisting way you already think about leadership. Simple. How then to create transformation? Mm. Different.

You must be willing to let go of all of your preconceived ideas about what leaders are supposed to do, how they are supposed to act, and how they are supposed to be. All of them. Then what?

You leave your ego at the door.

And, everything you think you know about leadership. Start over. Really. Let it all go. And, create from there.

Transformation can only occur when we let go. Know also that the letting go will need to happen again, and again, and again. Over and over. Why? Because you are disrupting what you held to be true, and creating something new. Key. You are not adding, you are creating.

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Photo by Arnaud Weyts on Unsplash

Example

Let’s see. Okay. Here we go.

When the pandemic began here locally, we were approaching the last week of the term at the community college where I work. As I’ve mentioned in other posts, I work in community and continuing education. It is all experiential. All of it. Which means that it is in-person. All of it is, or was.

Within one month of the pandemic beginning here, we let go of all the concepts we held to be true about our business model. All of them. What happened?

We created an entirely new business model. A model that is transformational, as all aspects of it are completely different than the previous model. All of them.

We created all new processes and systems for how we do business. New ways we market and engage with the local community, new ways that instructors teach their classes, even the content that is delivered, while similar, is still completely new. Why?

Because a completely new context has been created. And it was created intentionally by believing something else was possible. Which then replaced our current belief system of how we all viewed our work.

All of us. now our actions follow that new belief system. That is transformation.

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Photo by Jen Theodore on Unsplash

When you intentionally create new ways to be, new ways to think, new ways to believe, new ways to be a human, you are creating contexts that are transformational. Never seen or experienced before. Transformation.

How are development and transformation similar?

One key way. When you develop, whether you want to or not, you give out your development to others. If those around you are open, they will learn from you and also develop. And, it is the exact same for you. If those around you are developing, and you are open you will also develop.

It is the same with transformation. If you are creating transformational contexts that change the nature of what’s possible, those around you, if they are open, will also transform. If they are open. If not, then they won’t. Same for development.

Can development lead to transformation?

Oh, yes, absolutely. In some ways, they sort of go together, which is why I wanted to write about the distinction. Whereas they are different, they both are about being open to and participating in creating change.

Here is a distinction on the difference between change and transformation.

“Change is about using external influences to modify actions to achieve desired results. Transformation is about modifying beliefs so that natural actions achieve the desired results.”cioinsight.com

See the difference? One is externally driven, and one is internally driven. Very similar to the distinction between development and transformation. Important.

How do you begin to develop or transform?

Really it’s pretty simple, yet not easy. A paradox, yep. My suggestion?

  • Be open to everything around you. Being open is probably the key to both development and transformation. Both become possible when we are open to new information and new experiences.

When we are open, the world opens up. It really does. There is so much to learn and to experience. Being open creates an immediate possibility. The possibility that you will learn to be more. More of either how you already occur, or more by occurring in a completely new way in a completely new context.

The Blog + Video Series #12 – Developmental Growth and Transformation: A Distinction

The Transformation Video Series #1

Have you ever thought about the difference between developmental growth and transformation? Or, have or do you consider them the same? Hm.

There is an important distinction between developmental growth and transformation, which is important to both personal and professional development. Let’s take a look.

First, let’s define the terms.

development

Translate development into Spanish

NOUN

  • The process of developing or being developed.‘she traces the development of the novel’
    1. A specified state of growth or advancement.‘the wings attain their full development several hours after birth

transformation

Translate transformation into Spanish

NOUN

  • Thorough or dramatic change in form or appearance.‘its landscape has undergone a radical transformation’
    1. A metamorphosis during the life cycle of an animal.‘Both the molting process and the metamorphic transformation from larva to pupa are coordinated and regulated by hormones.’

Ah, do you see the dinsticiton? Either way, let’s work it through.

Development

When you are interested in development, meaning available to it, you occupy a space that welcome’s learning. You stand outside of what you believe to be true about the world, and how you occupy it, and welcome new knowledge, new types of understanding, and new ways of being. Simple. Or is it?

Well, because we have an ego, or, wait, do we? Well, for the purposes of this post, let’s assume we do. Because we have an ego, we don’t like being wrong.

We are constantly seeking validation of what we know. Why?

Because it fits into our worldview. It is what we know. When information comes in, we assemble it into the the narrative of our worldview and who we believe we are. We confirm our ego.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is iulia-mihailov-91racj7xmxe-unsplash.jpg
Photo by Iulia Mihailov on Unsplash

If the information doesn’t fit into our current worldview, we really only have two choices.

Deny the existence of this new information, or become open to it.

Denying this new information is called denial. We are actively denying that another way to look at a situation or event is possible. Egocentric.

However, when we are open to the possibility that there are other ways to think about a situation or event, we have now entered into the developmental arena.

Meaning, that we can now take this new information in, make sense of it, and do something with it.

Even if the information doesn’t fit into our current worldview, if we are open, we can incorporate it into our worldview rather easily. It is all about being open to new information, new ways of understanding, and new ways of being.

The simplest example is to consider development at school and work. When we are confronted with new information, we have a choice. Assimilate and incorporate that new information into our existing worldview, creating new knowledge, or reject it.

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Photo by Saketh Garuda on Unsplash

Example.

I am always in conversation with the team about our goals, objectives, and priorities. Recently, I was asked about hiring someone to run Zoom technology for the upcoming professional development trainings.

I, however, was unsure about the need. Didn’t know. I needed to think about it.

Well, the next week, I ran a Zoom meeting with the team. The meeting was 90-minutes and was about creating our next 30-day priorities. Part of the meeting was creating breakout rooms, which you can do in Zoom. The meeting was a complete disaster. Really, it was. What did I learn?

That you absolutely need someone to run technology while the person running the meeting does just that, runs the meeting. I learned through doing the meeting that hiring someone for a Zoom tech position was absolutely necessary. We are hiring someone right now.

I moved from questioning the need, reflecting upon it, to learning that we definitely needed the new position. I developed.

Alright, that’s development. Opportunities for development are available every day. If you don’t see them, it might be that you are avoiding them or in denial about them. It’s not a demerit. I didn’t develop for a long time. Really. I wasn’t interested. Not a judgement. Just a fact. Let’s now look at transformation.

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Photo by Suzanne D. Williams on Unsplash

Transformation

Now, transformation implies a complete change to the object, thing, or person. Yep, that’s right. How then does transformation differ from development?

While development requires an active openness, as we’ve discussed, transformation requires openness and a complete and total letting go of what was, in favor of what will be. It requires a shift from a focus on the external to the internal.

Transformation is about questioning all you know. Every ounce of what you know, or beleive you know, must be questioned.

Further, you must be willing to let go of how you previously viewed the world. Open to a continual process of creating new information, new ways of understanding, and new ways of being.

The distinction is that with transformation you actively seek out opportunities to question the ways you think, act, and occur. Internally focused.

You are continuously interested in disrupting your old habits and ways of thinking while creating new habits and ways of thinking.

Let me give you an example to help with the distinction.

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Photo by DISRUPTIVO on Unsplash

Let us say you want to develop leadership skills. You can develop leadership skills in lots of ways. You can take classes, read books, even put leadership principles into practice in your life. That is development.

You incorporate new information into the preexisting way you already think about leadership. Simple. How then to create transformation? Mm. Different.

You must be willing to let go of all of your preconceived ideas about what leaders are supposed to do, how they are supposed to act, and how they are supposed to be. All of them. Then what?

You leave your ego at the door.

And, everything you think you know about leadership. Start over. Really. Let it all go. And, create from there.

Transformation can only occur when we let go. Know also that the letting go will need to happen again, and again, and again. Over and over. Why? Because you are disrupting what you held to be true, and creating something new. Key. You are not adding, you are creating.

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Photo by Arnaud Weyts on Unsplash

Example

Let’s see. Okay. Here we go.

When the pandemic began here locally, we were approaching the last week of the term at the community college where I work. As I’ve mentioned in other posts, I work in community and continuing education. It is all experiential. All of it. Which means that it is in-person. All of it is, or was.

Within one month of the pandemic beginning here, we let go of all the concepts we held to be true about our business model. All of them. What happened?

We created an entirely new business model. A model that is transformational, as all aspects of it are completely different than the previous model. All of them.

We created all new processes and systems for how we do business. New ways we market and engage with the local community, new ways that instructors teach their classes, even the content that is delivered, while similar, is still completely new. Why?

Because a completely new context has been created. And it was created intentionally by believing something else was possible. Which then replaced our current belief system of how we all viewed our work.

All of us. now our actions follow that new belief system. That is transformation.

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Photo by Jen Theodore on Unsplash

When you intentionally create new ways to be, new ways to think, new ways to believe, new ways to be a human, you are creating contexts that are transformational. Never seen or experienced before. Transformation.

How are development and transformation similar?

One key way. When you develop, whether you want to or not, you give out your development to others. If those around you are open, they will learn from you and also develop. And, it is the exact same for you. If those around you are developing, and you are open you will also develop.

It is the same with transformation. If you are creating transformational contexts that change the nature of what’s possible, those around you, if they are open, will also transform. If they are open. If not, then they won’t. Same for development.

Can development lead to transformation?

Oh, yes, absolutely. In some ways, they sort of go together, which is why I wanted to write about the distinction. Whereas they are different, they both are about being open to and participating in creating change.

Here is a distinction on the difference between change and transformation.

“Change is about using external influences to modify actions to achieve desired results. Transformation is about modifying beliefs so that natural actions achieve the desired results.”

cioinsight.com

See the difference? One is externally driven, and one is internally driven. Very similar to the distinction between development and transformation. Important.

How do you begin to develop or transform?

Really it’s pretty simple, yet not easy. A paradox, yep. My suggestion?

  • Be open to everything around you. Being open is probably the key to both development and transformation. Both become possible when we are open to new information and new experiences.

When we are open, the world opens up. It really does. There is so much to learn and to experience. Being open creates an immediate possibility. The possibility that you will learn to be more. More of either how you already occur, or more by occurring in a completely new way in a completely new context.

Photo by Franck V. on Unsplash

#changemanagement, #creatingchange, #creatingtransformation, #developmentalgrowth, #distinctionbetweentransformationanddevelopment, #handlingchange, #leadership, #leadershipcahange, #leadershipdevelopment, #leadershipessentials, #leadershipinaction, #leadershipmindset, #leadershippractice, #leadershipprinciples, #leadershiptransformation, #leadershipvalues, #personaldevelopment, #selfdevelopment, #transformationalleadership

7 Keys to Balancing Strategic Thinking with the Day-to-Day Operations of Your Team, Business, or Organization

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Photo by Felix Mittermeier on Unsplash

One of the strategies I wrote about in the post, Creating Movement in Your Team, Business, or Organization: 3 Steps in 3 Minutes was creating balance in your workflow in order to balance strategic thinking with the day-to-day operations of your team, business, or organization.

It occurred to me that I’ve used multiple strategies the past three years to accomplish this balance, some have worked well, some not as much. What’s most important, however, is not that some didn’t work, rather, it is important that some did.

Trying new strategies is part of leadership development. Actually, it is development itself. Try something new. If it works, keep it, if not get rid of it.

Well, then, let’s take a look at 7 keys you can use to balance strategy with day-to-day operations. And, if you choose to incorporate one, great. If you already do these things, wonderful. And, if they are new to you, give one or two a try and see what happens.

Photo by Carolyn V on Unsplash

7 Keys to Balancing Strategy with Day-to-Day Operations

  1. Persistence – being persistent is an important leadership trait; as is knowing that not everything that you implement will work. It just won’t. There is nothing wrong with that, and you do not get a demerit if something doesn’t work. All that means is that you need to be persistent in your actions to find that process, or system that will work. Stick to it, and you will find it.
  2. Prioritization – we are all inundated with multiple competing priorities. It is very important, however, to get clear on how those competing priorities should be prioritized. Very important. Otherwise, all of your priorities will have the same level of importance, and chances are many of them will not move forward.
  3. Patience – very important to have patience with yourself. When you develop patience with yourself, you will also have more patience with the people on your team, or in your business, or organization. Trust me when I write that patience will win over force any day. Patience is sustainable, force, not so much. Be patient, and give yourself the time you need to breathe.
  4. Determination – when one is determined, they are moving forward, and do not let obstacles stand in their way. Important for every leader everywhere. Why? Because the nature of leadership ensures that obstacles will often present themselves before us. Often. Being resolute and steadfast, while also being flexible in your approach is key. You will be challenged regularly. You will also be drawn to the day-to-day operations. Normal. Yet be steadfast, and determined to incorporate strategy into your daily workflow. It is possible.
  5. Organization – understanding an organizational system that works for you is essential. It does not have to make sense to anyone else. Just you. Important, as people often think that their organization system must be understandable to others. Not so. You need to understand it, period. Also know that how you organize yourself will change as the business changes. It is supposed to.
  6. Time Management – a difficult skill set to develop for me, yet one that I have made progress on in the past few years. What I’ve learned, similar to learning to organize myself, is that there is no one way to manage time effectively. Important to understand. When you understand this, you will actively seek out new ways to manage your time, until you find the system that works for you. And, time management should also change as the business changes. It must.
  7. Vision Clarity – you must be very clear on your vision. If you are not clear, you will continue to do day-to-day tasks that are not moving you closer to achieving the goals associated with your vision. Being clear on your vision, ensures that you are moving your vision forward when you are working on the day-to-day operations. You are then always working on your strategy, even when you are working in the “weeds.”

There we go. 7 keys to creating balance between strategy and the day-to-day operations of your team, business, or organization. Are there other keys, you ask? Of course. These are simply the ones that I am most present to now.

There are many meaningful ways to balance strategy and day-to-day operations. How many there are matters less, than, as leaders, we try new things, and incorporate new strategies into our workflow often. Be open and flexible to new ideas, new ways of doing things, and new ways of being.

Teams, businesses, and organizations change often. And, with change comes the need to be open to changing as the need changes. A must.

If you’ve tried the keys outlined in this post, awesome. If you’ve not tried them all, try a new one, try two. If you already do them all, wonderful, you’re ahead.

If you’re not sure how to incorporate these keys into your workflow, here are a couple of quick suggestions before I close.

Photo by Campaign Creators on Unsplash
  1. Persistence – continue to try new things. Get your best ideas out, and invite others to collaborate. Your ideas + their ideas =.even better ideas. Continue to persist, you will find the process, system, or vision you are looking for.
  2. Prioritization – how do you prioritize your work? Know that however you prioritize your work today, there are a million other ways to prioritize. If what you are doing is not working, try something new. Remember, as the team, business or organization iterates, the way you prioritize yourself will also have to iterate.
  3. Patience – a big one. Though being persistent and determined are very important. Being patient is equally important. Give yourself the time to breath and think. A must. Schedule the time into your calendar. Make time, and let your team know this is your time to just be. Go for a walk, or just sit. Doesn’t matter. What matters is doing it daily. For a time, I had a recurring appointment on my calendar for myself. It read, breathing. And, I did just that.
  4. Determination – yep, important. Things will happen and “go wrong.” It is the nature of leadership, especially when leading innovative teams, businesses, or organizations. Stay the course. Remember, that “failure” is part and parcel of the creative process. You cannot have breakthroughs without breakdowns. They go together.
  5. Organization – similar to prioritization, trying new organizational strategies is important, and needed. Example – when I started my current job, I organized myself in an “old school” way. File folders, and lots of paper. Then I went completely digital, then back to files, and folders. Now, a combination. Again, what matters is continuing to try new things. When something’s not working, do it differently. You may be surprised how that will open up more thinking space for you.
  6. Time Management – phew, time management is so important today. I am much better at it today; yet I would say the first two years on the job, I really struggled in this area. How did I begin to improve? Continually trying new things; and, asking for help. The department administrative assistant, to this day, goes through my calendar with me, and asks this question – why do you have this meeting? Hm. And, if the meeting on my calendar is not connected to the vision, I cancel it.
  7. Vision Clarity – yep. Once you’ve become skilled in the aforementioned areas, you will have more time to work on strategy. And, once you are clear on your vision, the aforementioned keys will also become easier. Why? Because the clearer you are on the vision, the more you understand the work you really need to be doing. You begin to see other work you’ve been doing in a new light. And, you will begin to let that other work go. If the daily work is not connecting to the vision, let it go.

Alright, we’ve discussed 7 keys to balancing strategy and day-to-day operations; and, we’ve also looked at a few ways you can incorporate these keys into your workflow.

Remember, the most important thing about creating balance in your work, is to always be present to the reality that trying, and doing things in new ways is necessary and needed.

When you are unsure of what to try next, try something new, stand back and see what happens. If it works well, keep it. If not, let it go; and, then, try something else. Whatever you do, keep moving. Be and lead well.

#business, #businessplanning, #businessstrategy, #leadership, #leadershipdevelopment, #leadershipessentials, #leadershipinaction, #leadershipmindset, #leadershippractice, #leadershipprinciples, #operations, #organization, #organizationaldevelopment, #persistence, #prioritization, #strategicplanning, #strategicthinking, #strategiplanning, #strategy, #timemangagement, #vision, #visionandstrategy

Strategy + Action = Traction

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Photo by Jungwoo Hong on Unsplash

As I was creating a 3-minute video, some time ago now, on creating movement on teams, I uttered the phrase, strategy plus action, equals traction. And, this is so true. Why? Well, before we look at why, here is that video.

Jeff Flesch YouTube

Okay, why. Because in order to move a team, business, or organization forward, you must have both strategy and action. If you only have strategy, you are only talking about doing things; and, if you only have action, you are only doing that which was done yesterday. And, that is not traction.

How can you create strategy, action, and traction? Let’s take a quick look.

Strategy + Action = Traction

The key to creating traction is movement with vision. The first full year in my current position we moved, yet we did not move as a team, and we didn’t have a vision. No traction.

There is a distinction here that is important. You cannot gain traction until you move as a team and are clear on where you are going.

In that first year, we were focused on understanding each other and building relationships. Additionally, we learned the business, and got clear on the strengths and weaknesses in the business model.

In effect, we were focused on each other, and the day-to-day operations of the business, which is totally understandable. You can only move a team forward, once you are in relationship and have created safety, understand the business model, and understand where you are going. That was created in year 2.

Developing a vision, which I’ve written about in other posts, was creating where we were going with intention. Once that vision was created, we had the ingredients to move into traction.

Recap
  1. Build relationships and create safety.
  2. Learn the strengths and weaknesses of the current business model.
  3. Develop a vision to pull you into the future you are creating.

There are other components, which are also important to creating traction, such as developing processes and systems that work together in your business model. In our first year, we did a lot of process upgrades; and in year 2 we started to work on the systems.

In year 3, in the time we had pre-COVID-19, we were continuing to work on those systems; and, even during COVID-19, we have continued this work, though the work has been focused on new processes and systems to support remote and online learning.

Now, in our just-about-to-begin year 4, which we are calling reset to zero, we are going back to creating, building, and maintaining relationships. However, this year it is about creating, building, and maintaining relationships in the community; with our partner organizations, and business clients. Wonderfully exciting work.

For those that learn best audio-visually, here is a very short video on creating strategy, action, and traction. The culmination of which, I have termed the traction zone. Take a look.

Jeff Flesch YouTube

Balancing the day-to-day operations with strategic thinking is also very important to creating strategy, action, and traction, and getting your team, business, and organization into the traction zone.

More to come on how to create this balance, as I am currently working on a new post to discuss 7 keys to creating balance between the day-to-day operations and strategic thinking. Until then, be well and lead well.

#action, #buildingrelationships, #businessplanning, #businessstrategy, #creatingbusinessmodels, #creatingvision, #creatingyourfuture, #developingprocessesandsystems, #developingvision, #leadership, #leadershipdevelopment, #leadershipinaction, #strategiplanning, #strategithinking, #strategy, #strategyplusactionequalstraction, #strengthsandweaknesses, #teamdevelopment, #tracationzone, #traction, #vision

Developmental Growth and Transformation: A Distinction

The Transformation Video Series #1

#creatingchange, #development, #developmentalgrowth, #growing, #growth, #leadership, #leadershipdevelopment, #leadershipinaction, #leadershipmindset, #leadershipprinciples, #personaldevelopment, #professionaldevelopment, #teamdevelopment, #transformation, #transformationalgrowth

One BHAG, Two BHAG, and Creating a Disruption Vision

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Photo by Rahul Bhosale on Unsplash

Two weeks ago, I wrote the post Creating a Big Hairy Audacious Goal: The Creation of the BHAG. In that post, I wrote about the possibility of creating a BHAG that lives inside of another BHAG. Having two BHAGs makes sense, especially right now in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

I termed the BHAG that, at the time was just being created and not yet delivered, a disruption BHAG. And, seeing as the team I work with will get that BHAG Monday morning, I thought writing this piece made good sense. Plus, I made a promise. So, let’s go.

Here are 3 keys to creating a disruption BHAG.

Key #1: Let go of yesterday

To create a disruption BHAG, you must be open to creating from where you stand right now, at this moment. Meaning, you must be willing to let go of what you’ve done up to this point in your team, business, or organization. ALL of it. Especially those things that have worked well. They will not work the same in the future. Let them go.

Letting pieces of a business model, or a process or system go is not easy. Especially when they have worked well. However, you must be willing to let them go. Why? Because if you do not, you will not be able to visualize and put into practice new business models, processes, and systems. And, they are needed.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us were forced to let go of things we were doing, whether they worked well or not. And, now I am inviting you to not only let go of those things, but to also create new ways of working with your team, running your business, or developing your organization. A must.

Photo by Paul Gilmore on Unsplash

Example #1

We create about 300 classes and training opportunities per quarter. They are all in-person. When COVID-19 began to take hold locally, we had to pivot, AND, let go of all the things we had done previously that had worked well for us. Difficult. However, that is the only way to envision a new future. Otherwise, you are always tethered to what was. And, in what was, or the past, there is no future to create. You are simply reproducing yesterday.

Reality check. We went from 300 in-person classes and training opportunties to about 50. Yet, those 50 offerings paved the way for 73 the next quarter, which is now paving the way to our goal of 150 this fall. Movement.

That was the first step in creating the possibility of getting to a disruption vision. Letting go. What was next?

Key #2: Create processes and systems to support the new work

Once you’ve let go of how your team, business, or organization was doing business, you will now begin to create a new business model, and inside of this new business model, you will need new processes and systems to support it.

  • First – get clear on the need, and the new components of the business model.
  • Second – create those new components, move them forward.
  • Third – get clear on the processes and systems needed to support the new business model.
  • Fourth – solidify those processes, systematize them, and document them.

It is important to not get stuck in creating processes or systems until you have developed the business model. Why? Because if you get stuck in thinking about developing a process without understanding the need, and the associated business offering, you will not move forward. The process and systematization will come through creating the new model.

Don’t forget to document the new processes and systems. Very important. Why? Because these are now a part of your business model, and may always be. I know for all of the new business components we’ve added to our business model, they will stay, and will continue to be offered. Let’s look at another example.

Photo by Philipp Mandler on Unsplash

Example #2

Once we created the remote, online, and remote classes, we began to ask the process and system question. And, as was aforementioned, some of these new processes and systems organically developed along the way.

For instance, in developing these new classes, and pivoting our business model 180 degrees, we knew that communicating with the local community was imperative. We filled this need by creating a communication process, and a system, which was also documented to ensure we were regularly communicating with all of our clients, students, and partners. Important.

Key #3: Create the Disruption BHAG

Once you’ve let go of the way you were doing business, and have created new ways to do business, which include new processes and systems that are documented, you are ready to create the new BHAG. How?

3 simple steps

  1. Brainstorm – or, as I’ve termed this in other posts and videos, get your ideas out. It seems very simple when reading, I know, yet, I also know that it is not that easy for everyone. Especially when we are inundated with day-to-day operations. Yet, creating time to think is a needed and necessary strategy for every leader.
  2. Connect them to the larger BHAG – once your ideas are out, see which ones connect naturally to your team, business, or organizations BHAG. Then play with those ideas, and ask yourself a few questions:
    1. Where are we going?
    2. Why are we going there; and,
    3. How are we going to get there?
      1. When you can answer these questions about the larger BHAG, and can see how your new ideas fit into that BHAG, you are almost ready to create the disruption BHAG. Yet before you do, I invite you to reflect.
  3. Reflect and contemplate – let the ideas sit for a little while. And, continue to reflect and contemplate until you are clear on the disruption BHAG. Once you are clear, write it down.

Once you have the disruption BHAG written down, I suggest letting it sit for a little while. I let the one I created recently sit for a couple of weeks. I continued to play with the language and the concepts, and am clearer on the BHAG for doing so. And, the clearer you are, the clearer your team, business, or organization will be.

Photo by Matt Noble on Unsplash

The invitation

Now that you have your new disruption BHAG ready-to-go, it is time to invite the team, business, or organization that you work with to this new vision. You can do this in many different ways. Yet, I do recommend connecting deeply with the people you work with about this new BHAG. They must see themselves inside this new vision, and you are the one to show them this possibility.

Example #3

Alright, we are still in the midst of COVID-19, and the team is still remote. How do I invite them to this new BHAG vision? Hm. Not sure? I wasn’t either. Until I had a conversation with a colleague. They said, “you should do a video.” Wait, what? I’ve never done a video before. Uh, oh.

Well, that is exactly what I did. Cut to many takes later, and hours worth of time spent learning how to upload a video correctly – use YouTube, please, very easy, will save you time – and I have a 6-minute video. Phew. Was awesome.

The email, video, and worksheet will go out Monday morning. I am super excited.

I believe that people are moved by their hearts. You must pull them from there to create anything that will last; and, because I was not able to create the BHAG with them, the video, I do believe, is the next best thing. Looking forward to Monday.

Remember, you can create an additional BHAG inside of the one you currently have. Actually, I think this is the best time to create a new BHAG. A disruption BHAG. Having a new BHAG will create a context that is specific to this next year. As we all know, all teams, businesses, and organizations will be different this next year. Why?

Because, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve all changed. And, it is inside of this change that you can create new momentum for your team, business, or organization. And, you can do this by connecting with people in a new way through a disruption BHAG, which can live inside of the longer-term BHAG already in existence.

#bhag, #business, #creatingprocess, #creatingsystems, #creatingthefuture, #disruptionvision, #goalsetting, #leadership, #leadershipdevelopment, #lettinggo, #organizationaldevelopment, #strategicplanning, #strategicthinking, #teamdevelopment, #visioning

An Insight From the Newly Developed Site: About the Head and the Heart

Photo by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash

This weekend I reimagined the covid-19 creativity site and in its place created jefflesch.com. Why? It was time. When I originally created the COVID-19 site, I had no idea that I would end up writing all that I have.

It’s been a wonderful experience, one that will continue well into the future, as I have lots more to to tell you all about, and to discuss with you. 🙂

As I was reimagining the site I had an insight. Before we get to the insight, however, I am going to recreate the distinction between the head and the heart to aid in communicating this insight. Ready? Here we go.

About the Head and the Heart

I’ve written about the head (intellect) and heart (intuition) many times on this site. Sometimes, I’ve used head and heart, sometimes I’ve used intellect and intuition. The distinction? Alright.

When we use our head, we are leading with our intellect. That which we understand to be true about the world.

We’ve acquired some of this understanding from our parents and caretakers; and, some has come from schools, friends, and coworkers. Really anyone we have in our life.

On the other hand, when we use our intuition, we are leading with our heart. That which we know to be true about the world.

Photo by Jen Theodore on Unsplash

Do you see the distinction?

With intellect we understand something to be true, and with intuition, we know it to be true. When we intuit something, we have a deep feeling that that something is true, or right. Or just as easily, wrong and false.

An important distinction.

The more you are connected to your intuition, the more accurate the knowing will be. If, however, you’ve been disconnected from your intuitive-self, the knowing can be more challenging. I would know.

Though my intuition has always been with me, for a long time, it was suppressed. Covered up by other things, like food and alcohol. Not the case today.

Alright, that’s the distinction. Now the insight? Alright, here we go.

An Insight From the Newly Developed Site

As I’ve written about before, I now work in education. I’ve worked in education full-time for the past 5 years, and combined with my part-time work, it’s been over 13 years. Long time.

Prior to going back to school at 33, I worked in the private sector, in sales and sales leadership. 16 years. Also a long time.

In my current job, I get to use both my practical work experience, and my educational experience. It’s a ton of fun.

Photo by You X Ventures on Unsplash

When I developed the leadership site, which is now no more, and the COVID-19 site, I didn’t realize I was actually creating an intellectual site and an intuitive site. No idea. Super cool insight.

As I reimagined and then created my website this weekend, it occured to me that the newly formulated site is a combination of both my head (intellect) and heart (intuition). I think that’s pretty cool.

Though it was never my intention to create two sites, one focused on my intellect, and one focused on my heart, it just sort of happened that way. What excites me most now?

That I now get to give you everything I’ve got. Both my head and my heart, right here. Exciting.

Alright, that’s the insight alongside the distinction about the head and the heart. Oh, one more thing.

Know that the head and heart, though separated in this post intentionally, are really one. They are connected, and work together, even when our intuition is covered up by other things.

What fun this journey has been. And, as the first chapter comes to an end, this next chapter is going to be so much fun. I look forward to writing to you, and discussing all with you.

Be well.

#emotionalintelligence, #head, #head-and-heart, #heart, #insight, #intellect, #intuition, #knowing, #understanding, #understandingversusknowing