It is interesting to consider. I do like writing poetry, and am having a lot of fun doing so. Funnily enough, as I’ve written before, I haven’t read much poetry, though when I find poetry I like, I go back to it again and again.
And, I’ve been reading a lot more poetry lately from the blogs of some of the most outstanding poets and writers. Lovely.
I also love the challenge of writing poetry. It is an interesting paradox. In some ways it is easier than the other topics I choose to write about, and yet, in many ways much more difficult. Hm.
I enjoy sitting with a peice, pondering it, reflecting upon it, until the right words show up. Fun. I also like being out on a walk or hike, and find that inspiration stirring me to stop on the path, and make notes in my phone.
Is it like that for you? It is often that way for me.
Anyway, at this time, I have planned another installment on sensitivity, a piece on sociology, and, hm, ah yes, a post on wonder. That’s what I have for now anyway. The poetry, you ask? Good question.
You know that works a little differently than the other things I choose to write about. Well, sort of.
With poetry, I usually see something that inspires me, and then from that derive a concept and then write. So, in a way the process is similar to my other writing, and yet feels a little different.
Lastly, I wanted to acknowledge just how hard this year has been for everyone. Really. It has been.
Yet, I also want to acknowledge the resiliency of the human spirit. Very resilient. Much more resilient than people imagine. And, it is beautiful to be a part of and to witness.
I have found and read so many inspirational stories this year. Please know that you are all inspirational to me. All of you.
Though life has been extraordinarily hard this year, and, well, looks like it will continue to be, at least from a pandemic perspective, for some time; know that you are bringing people hope and joy each and every day by writing as you do. Just as you are and as you do. Wonderful.
I’ve laughed and teared more at my computer screen these past few months than at any other time in my life. And, I’m not young. Ha!
Right. Well, it is about time to wrap up this installment. Yet, before I do, let me leave you with two quotes I adore from two very inspirational people. Here you go.
“Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.” ― Helen Keller
Right, so I was getting ready to write this post about something totally different. Namely, about Medium, the writing I’m working on this week, and one or two other topics. And, then?
Well, it occurred to me that I’ve not written about COVID-19 in a while, and I wanted to return, as if I’d ever really left, to the pandemic to discuss what some people are talking about, and some are not. Why? It’s hard.
Breakdowns, breakthroughs, and our emotional self. Hm. Alright, stay with me.
Because destigmatizing breakdowns is important. They happen to us all. Really. Even if we don’t have access to the language to know that we are in an emotional breakdown, for instance, they happen. And?
Acknowledging and accepting our breakdowns is important to fully understand what’s happening within ourselves; and, to get to that insight delivered via breakthrough that will come on the other side of our breakdown.
Example? Sure. It’s very present for me.
In conversation with the team yesterday, well, some of the team, I received feedback that I didn’t see coming. Not at all. And?
Well, the feedback was excellent, and was timely and needed, yet the due date for the work that is affected by this new information is this week.
Right, so I went into breakdown, and stayed there for a couple of hours. What did this look like? Well, it looked like I was doing the rest of my day, driving to physical therapy, then to the store, then finally home.
When I got home?
Well, I showered, and then sat for my evening meditation. And? On the other side of my meditation, many insights occurred, which I captured for the following morning, this morning, in fact. And?
Well, getting back into the conversation this morning with new insight, a new perspective, and an additional colleague created a new way forward.
Yep. Did I see that possibility while I was in breakdown last night? Nope, not at all.
Yet, the more breakdowns and breakthroughs I go through, the more inner-knowing I have that an insight, or a combination of insights and perspectives, will deliver a solution to the issue.
Meaning that, yes, the changes that will need to be made will take time and coordination, yet there is workability. There is a way forward. And, there always is.
And, when we are in breakdown, we can’t always see these possibilities. And, that’s okay. Yes, scary at times, yet perfectly normal.
That, for me anyway, is the essence of a breakdown. Being unable to see far enough, due to my entanglement, in those moments, within my own self.
Being in touch with our emotional self has never been more important than it is today.
The pandemic has ushered in many more unknowns. Really. Many more unknowns for all of us. Personally, familially, organizationally, nationally, culturally, at every level. Every level.
Tonight I am very present to the beauty in accepting and being with my breakdowns as they occur. Staying with them, going inside of myself to see what’s there, and to the knowing that insights will come. They always do.
When you are feeling overwhelmed and a breakdown is imminent, remember, you are not alone. They happen to us all, and in the long run they are beneficial.
They simply mean you are growing as a human being. Growing into yourself, through yourself. Beautiful.
I’ve written several posts about the fact that human beings develop narratives about what they know, what they see, and what they are told. All of us do. We are natural storytellers, and meaning makers. It is how we make sense of the world. However, there is an issue here. Can you see it?
As we create stories about our reality, about what we believe to be true about the world, we can get stuck inside of faulty thinking. And, inside of this faulty thinking, we can begin to create realities, which are not really real. Yep, it’s true.
Right now, on the west coast of the United States we have a raging wildfire issue. At this same time, we are living in a pandemic, and have people all across the country in the streets, like they have been in Portland, OR, for months, protesting against systematic and institutional racism. The issue with the latter, of course, is not the protesting, it is the fact that systematic and institutional racism still exists.
Okay, what’s the issue with these issues, you ask? Hm. Let me explain it this way. Here you go.
Connecting Disparate Events and Situations
I’ve talked to several people this past week that are connecting these disparate events, creating stories about the compound effect of this year. However, these issues, while severe and highly problematic, are not connected. They are separate, and are just happening.
Because we are storytellers and meaning-makers we create something more out of what is happening than is really happening. We make these connections. That we do this is not a judgment or a demerit. It is how we are programmed.
However, it doesn’t help our mental health when we connect disparate events. Why? Because when we do, we can go into overwhelm more easily, and start blaming these situations on other people, and, yes, even ourselves. It happens all the time.
Think about a time when you failed a test, or didn’t get a job; and, in that same week or during that same timeframe, a friend or coworker upset you, and then a family member did something you didn’t expect, which also upset you. Well, did you pull these events apart, or did you rather, like most humans, connect them? Important distinction.
If you did connect them, you are not a problem. You are human.
Understanding that our brains work this way instantly creates a new awareness, which can be used to our advantage. How? By understanding that when events happen, they just happen.
We may not like them, or understand them, however, that is part of life. And, these events that just happen are not connected to each other. They are separate.
When we fully grasp this, we have more power over our reality and our life. How? Hm, okay. Here are 5 ways you can create more power over your reality by understanding that disparate events are just that, disparate.
5 Ways to Create More Power Over Your Reality
Notice when you are making connections between events that are disconnected – the first step is always to create more awareness about how our mind works. Knowing that all human beings are storytellers and meaning-makers instantly creates a new awareness. Now that this awareness is there, notice when you are making connections between disparate events. Just notice.
Pull those events apart, separate them – when you start to create stories about your reality, which include connecting events or pieces of information that are disconnected, you can pull them apart. Separate them, and leave them that way. More power.
Reorient yourself to the current reality – now that these events, situations, and or information have been separated, you can reorient yourself to the reality as it is, instead of the reality you’ve been creating. Be with that reality, connect with it, really see it as it is.
Notice the difference in how you feel – as you practice noticing your mind and how the mind connects disparate events and information, notice how you feel. How do you feel when you have the power to pull those events apart? Empowered, maybe? Excellent. If you don’t feel empowered right away, don’t worry, keep practicing.
Repeat – building healthy habits, as has been aforementioned, takes practice. Humans also like patterns, or habits, so continue to practice noticing. It takes time. Know though that the only way to become experienced in this practice, like anything, takes doing it again and again. There is no one way, and there is not right and wrong. There is just doing. Again, and again, and again. And, you will get better at it.
There we go. Now what?
Well, if you are so inclined to do so, practice. If not, that’s okay. What I can say is that there was a time when I suffered from terrible anxiety. Much of my anxiety had to do with the stories in my head, which were, of course, not really real.
They were created through habitual thinking. Through connecting disparate events about the world, myself in the world, and about information contained in my head.
You do have a choice. Today, right now. You can choose a different path. One with more power, and empowerment. It takes time. Yet, anything worthwhile always does.
I feel like each week I write the words, phew, what a busy week. Well, this week was no different than the previous. Phew, busy, busy, busy.
Open registration began this past week, and our enrollments are up from the past two terms, which is exciting. As I’ve written about in previous posts, COVID-19 has made creating and delivering experiential classes, workshops, and training, precarious.
Yet, we’ve persisted, and not resisted; and have over 150 remote classes on offer this fall term. Pretty cool.
This past week, I’ve been reflecting upon the need for adequate sleep. Yes, sleep. Really. I’ve spent the past 20 years being a, well, not very good sleeper. Yet, I’m getting better.
And, adequate sleep is needed more now than ever. More than ever.
How do you sleep?
One insight into sleeping adequately I’ve had the past two weeks is this: when you’re sleepy, sleep. Often, I think we resist. I did, for many years. Not helpful. Sleep when you are tired.
Last Saturday, I opened up my medium account, and an article of mine had been curated. 100 submissions, and a first curation. Pretty cool.
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.
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.
the quality of being expressed clearly
a lack of clarity in the law
The brilliant clarity of his argument could not be disputed.AWL Collocations
the ability to think about or understand something clearly
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.
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.
noun /kənˈfjuːʒn/ /kənˈfjuːʒn/
[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.
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.
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.
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.
Alright, phew, what a busy couple of weeks. So much change. As I continue to prepare for the merger of my two websites, I am going to continue to post new material to this site, which was originally created for servantleadershipcoaching.com.
I am excited about the merger, and about reformatting this website. 🙂
Hopefully, you will enjoy these new additions! Here then is:
Creating a Big Hairy Audacious Goal: The Creation of the BHAG
What in the world is a BHAG, and why does it matter? A BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) is a way to get out of the weeds, and create a distinction between working in the business and working on the business. Creating a BHAG is also a way to take all of the smaller goals you have and connect them to a higher level mega-goal – the BHAG. Not sure if a BHAG is for you? That’s okay. I invite you to read the following list before making a choice.
Do any of these sound like a day you’ve experienced recently?
Working in the business more often than working on the business – this is an important distinction, and means that you are working on the day-to-day operations of the business more than you are the long-range planning and vision for the business.
Reacting to the daily business needs, more often than working purposefully, and wondering if those reactions are in any way connected to the vision of the business.
Spending more time at a computer screen than a whiteboard.
Feel like you are going in multiple directions all at the same time, while wondering if these multiple directions are connected to each other, and your other long-term goals.
You have multiple competing goals, and are unsure how to connect them.
You are unsure how to connect your metrics to the day-to-day business operations,AND, your long-term goals.
If you experienced any of the above, then creating a BHAG is for you. Where did the term BHAG come from? Here is an excerpt from Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies by James Collins and Jerry Porras.
Boeing Corporation is an excellent example of how highly Visionary companies often use bold missions – or what we prefer to call BHAGs (pronounced bee-hag, short for “Big Hairy Audacious Goals”)– as a particularly powerful mechanism to stimulate progress.
One of the coolest things about creating a BHAG, outside of the progress that lives inside of that creative experience, is that you can create them for your personal and professional lives.
Let’s look at the creation of a BHAG through a real life example – mine.
After 6 months in my current position, Director of Extended Learning at Linn-Benton Community College, in Albany, Oregon, I was wondering exactly what I had committed to. Has that happened to you before? It happens to all of us.
Anyway, I was working hard, very hard. And, most of that work was focused on working inthe business, not on the business. As I’ve mentioned earlier in this post, and in other posts, if all you do is work in the business, you will simply get the same result you got the day before – the same thing, everyday. Why? Because you are doing the same tasks everyday. Simple. It’s not that you don’t desire to grow, and do more, however, you are effectively stuck in yesterday.
However, if you can shift to working both in the business, and on the business, watch out.
After over a year of working in the business, I went to a strategic thinking training, led by Terri Houde, which was where I first experienced the BHAG. I believe we were first asked to work through some of our goals, to identify them, and write them out. Then we were asked to go out on a ledge, and create a goal that was at the limits of what is possible – the BHAG.
Here is the one I created.
Becoming the State recognized leader in noncredit education
Creating a BHAG is a life changing experience, because in one moment you create in language a goal that is so big, it is visionary. And, what do we know about working inside of a vision, rather than working outside of a vision?
“Having a vision provides a sense of purpose and direction for the business. Your vision will help you define your short and long-term goals, and guide the decisions you make along the way. A leader has the vision and conviction that a dream can be achieved…” ~ Ralph Lauren
Okay. I’ve created a BHAG, now what? Don’t know. I didn’t either. Here, however, is what happened.
Once the BHAG was created, it was time to inform the staff about the vision. I created a very simple presentation, which I delivered at a team building training at the end of 2018. Why is standing before your team and delivering a vision needed and necessary? It is important, so they can see you, AND themselves inside of the vision. When we can see ourselves as part of a vision, we are going to act in accordance with that vision.
In fact, I told the team often then that the BHAG came through me, however, it was a part of everyone of them. I can see each of them in the vision.
I should also mention that when the vision was created, we were also implementing Traction, which is a way to systematize your business operations (Wickman, 2012). The timing was perfect, because we were able to make connections to the 10-year vision (BHAG). We then created the following.
5-year priorities and goals
3-year priorities and goals
Yearly goals and priorities
Quarterly goals and priorities
Weekly and monthly next actions
All of which were connected to the 10-year BHAG!
Working inside of a vision the past two years has been a wonderful learning experience. We’ve achieved some of the goals we’ve set out to accomplish, and have many more to achieve. However, we are all pointed in the same direction, focusing on the same things, and have a shared language around a vision that was created from a one-day training experience where a BHAG was created.
Now we find ourselves in a very new situation – COVID-19. Well, in the next post, we will discuss what you do when your BHAG is severely disrupted. Can you guess? Yes, no?
You create another BHAG!
Yep, that’s right. You can have a BHAG that lives inside of another BHAG. I’d share that one with you, however, it is very new, and the team hasn’t even seen it yet. Next time, promise.
Remember, when you are interested in taking your business, organization, team, self, to the next level, create a BHAG. Then work backwards and connect that vision to this year, quarter, month, week, and day. Then you’ll know that every action you take is moving you closer to your ultimate vision, mega-goal, or BHAG!
Collins, James C., and Jerry I. Porras. Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies. New York: HarperBusiness, 1997.
Wickman, Gino. Traction Get a Grip on Your Business. Publisher: New York : BenBella Books, Inc., 2012. URL.
You can reach Jeff Flesch at firstname.lastname@example.org and Terri Houde at email@example.com.
I created the above video for this purpose. Let’s also discuss it here for a few moments.
A system of change?
Change is actually a rather ordered system. Meaning that it always occurs, and in a similar manner, no matter how small or large. Important to remember that even when we don’t notice, change is always happening. Always. Alright, let’s take a look at this system.
Here are the four parts.
We live, work, and love, and we do so in an ordered system. Yes? Meaning that we order our world. It’s different for everyone, yet everyone has some sort of way they order their lives. Even if we don’t write out our goals, objectives, and priorities, we have them, and know them. At home and at work.
We believe that how we order our lives is unchanging. Solid. Stable. Then what?
Most recently, COVID-19. Massive amounts of change. Changing all that we thought we previously knew about our ordered lives. At home and at work.
Creating a necessity to pivot businesses, and create new goals, objectives, and priorities. Yes, in business, and yes, at home. Both. Personally and professional, we’ve all been affected.
When this happens we all go into disorder. With the scale of change that COVID-19 created, the whole world went into disorder.
In disorder, we are trying to understand what is happening. Confused, worried, fearful, yes. And, at the same time, we are in survival mode. What can we do? How can we do it?
Moving anything and everything forward that we can. Personally creating new ways to shop, to exercise, to socialize. Professional, creating new business models in our new reality. Everything delivered remotely. New engagement methods, new financial models, new everything. Right? Phew.
Professionally, we begin to once again create longer term goals, objectives, and priorities. Sometimes going out a year, and working backwards to priorities for the next quarter, then the month, and then the day. Beginning to create a sense of order once again.
Personally, we also begin to think about longer term goals. Creating new ways to think about living inside of our new reality. What’s possible? How can we create it?
We have a new order. Phew. Lot’s of work. And inside of this new order, we continue to move forward. Creating, moving, creating, moving, creating, moving. Again, and again. Life.
Of course inside of this new ordered system, we must keep in mind that it is inevitable that another change will occur. It has to. It’s part of the system we call life.
And, what happens when that change occurs. The cycle starts all over again. Really, it does. Here.
And so on.
Another thing to note is that even the most subtle changes cause this system to move. It is always moving. We may not notice it, yet it is there. In the background it is always functioning.
Usually, it takes larger changes for us to notice.
Alright, that’s thinking about change as a system, which I think will be helpful in engaging with the aforementioned post on developmental growth and transformation.
Thorough or dramatic change in form or appearance.‘its landscape has undergone a radical transformation’
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
Have you ever heard of community and continuing education, or noncredit education? Yes, no? Either way, that’s okay. Most people know very little about the breadth, accessibility, and availability of community and continuing education.
Before taking my current position, as the Director of Extended Learning at Linn-Benton Community College, I knew very little about community and continuing education. Sure, I’d heard of community classes, yet they were not something I had access to growing up.
Learning, then, that community and continuing education, of which corporate training, professional development, and small business development are also a part, are far more accessible and available than I knew, and many people know was enlightening. And, right now, access to these classes is needed more than ever.
Community and Continuing Education
Now more than ever people need a place to connect with other people. Humans are social beings. Regardless of whether you consider yourself an introvert or an extrovert, people need to be with other people. And, right now, that’s hard. Really hard.
Community and continuing education provides such a space. Yep, even right now. Though, for sure, COVID-19 has presented unprecedented challenges for educators all across the country, some organizations have found ways to continue to serve. How?
Creating new ways to deliver education that is typically considered and associated with an in-person experience. Prior to COVID-19 becoming a local reality, the Extended Learning Department at Linn-Benton Community College had only a handful of remote classes and training. Starting this fall?
The Department will have over 120 Community Education classes, 4 cohorts (all full with a winter term waitlist) of Professional Development training, at least one Driver Education class, and over 10 Small Business Development Center classes and workshops. And, yep, they are all remote. Phew. Unprecedented change. Why does it matter?
Though taking a class or a training during a massive pandemic may seem like the wrong time, it is exactly the right time. There has never been a more “right” time to be connected with other human beings. Never been a more right time to continue to learn, to grow, to move ourselves and everyone around us forward. It is just so. The right time.
Easy. You sign up for a class or training you want to take, and take it. Simple. Now, we’ve experienced lots of technological challenges in delivering these new remote classes. A wonderful learning experience. And, like anything, there is really only one way to learn something, and that is to do it. Simple.
“Fill your life with experiences. Not things. Have stories to tell, not stuff to show.” -Anonymous
If you are unsure where to look, take a look at the local community college, University, or Parks and Recreation department where you live. Will they have remote classes? Don’t know. However, many have been offering remote classes, and I think more will follow. And, if you don’t have access? Well, you can always reach out to Extended Learning at Linn-Benton Community College. Yep.
It is most important to know that there are classes and training happening right now. Whether it is in the community you live in, or in another community miles away. Because these classes and training are remote, the miles matter less, than knowing that they are available and accessible.
For more information on how to access Linn-Benton Community College Extended Learning classes and training you can email Jeff Flesch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’ve been reflecting a lot about developing and managing my own resilience this week; and, just how important both are right now. So important. What is resilience you ask? Good question. Here is the definition.
(also resiliency) Pronunciation /rəˈzilyəns/ /rəˈzɪljəns/ Translate resilience into Spanish
NOUN 1. The capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.‘the often remarkable resilience of so many British institutions’
2. The ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity.‘nylon is excellent in wearability and resilience’
Essentially resilience is our ability to face adversity, walk through it, learn, and repeat. Again, and again.
I’ve also been thinking about a video I’m going to do soon on resilience for my Developing Servant Leaders site. The idea looks something like this.
What we are facing right now is a huge gap between that which we once knew to be our reality, and the current COVID-19 reality. A large gap. Inside of this gap, we are all being asked to face ourselves and each other in new ways, with new tools, in entirely new contexts. Hard.
For those that are less resilient, even harder. Resiliency, like all developmental traits, lives upon a continuum. It is not that someone has resilience or does not. Everyone has some, some have more. Alright, next.
When you connect the four points of the above whiteboard, you can see the space that we are being asked to navigate and step into. A distinction. Stepping into reality is different from hiding, and running from reality.
It means taking the action you know is there to take, even, maybe especially, when it is hard.
Now, you can see the above box, yes? Alright, then within that, let’s call it the COVID-19 developmental box, there are lots of other little boxes, which represent each of us and our comfort zones.
Yep. Meaning that as we interact with, and bump into each other, we are continuously floating in the COVID-19 developmental box. Then how, you may ask, do we develop our resiliency?
We step outside of our box and into the reality that is in front of us. What is stepping outside of your box? It is doing. Again, and again.
Learning, practicing, falling down, failing – AND, getting back up again. Every time.
Know that we don’t have to continuously live outside of our box, or comfort zone. We can, what a friend of mine calls it, blip out, and blip back. Here you go.
And, guess what? Everytime we go outside of our box, represented above by arrows, and do something that we consider uncomfortable, we grow. Yep, our box or container gets bigger. Here is one more illustration.
As you can see from the above illustration, some people will grow, boxes labeled with a G are now larger, some will not. It’s not a demerit, or a problem if there is no growth. It is, however, a missed opportunity to learn more about yourself and being human. Alright, last section.
Also know, especially when you are feeling overwhelmed, that all there is to know and to be experienced in this world, is much larger than this present moment. The COVID-19 moment. Last illustration.
Let us say that the entire whiteboard is what is knowable. Got it. Okay. Then consider that the super small box you see is what we’ve been calling the COVID-19 developmental box or gap. Yep. Pretty small in the proper scale.
Remember this distinction when you are confronted with uncomfortableness; and, remember it when you are feeling overwhelmed.
Though today COVID-19 feels like everything there ever was to know, on a universal and historical scale, there is far more to know and experience. Seriously remember that.
There are countless opportunities to develop your resilience today. More opportunities than most people would care to have. Really. And, believe me when I tell you that there are days when I feel the same way. Really. It’s hard.
Yet, like all of life, it is a paradox. Because the opportunity to develop and to learn how to manage our resilience is also a wondrous process. Yep. Hard and wonderful. A paradox.