step into the self

Photo by Faris Mohammed on Unsplash

the rain falls,
drops
known to all,
reminiscent of tears
present
when I was very young

told not to let them
show,
we pretend when
we’re grown,
that all of life
is hidden from view
and within
our complete control

a myriad
of illusory contexts
derived from
well-
intentioned people,
learning themselves,
what it’s like
to be
a pupil

life happens,
and,
as it does,
we grab onto
anything that’s solid
and stable

while also knowing
these
concepts
are mere principles of

nature’s
way

of showing us
what we’re
becoming

delivering pain
when we
least expect it,
and asking us
to step into
the self
we know is there,
and we relate to


Utmost Feelings – Just Released!

If you’ve not yet checked out Astha’s Anthology, Utmost Feelings, well, you can now order it online. Here’s where you can find it:

Paperback-

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/9390817455

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/9390817455

Amazon DE: https://www.amazon.de/dp/9390817455

Amazon FR: https://www.amazon.fr/dp/9390817455

Amazon ES: https://www.amazon.es/dp/9390817455

Amazon IT: https://www.amazon.it/dp/9390817455

Amazon JP: https://www.amazon.co.jp/dp/9390817455

Amazon CA: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/9390817455

Ebook

Payhip- https://payhip.com/b/DjE8x

Kobo Books- https://www.kobo.com/in/en/ebook/utmost-feelings

B&N Press- https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/utmost-feelings-astha-srivastava/1139758293?ean=2940162372431

Additionally, the coauthors of Astha’s Anthology, Utmost Feelings, are creating a space for people to send their sentiments to Astha’s family.

If you are interested, please add your sentiments to this form, thank you, and stay blessed.

#poetry, #connection, #emotions, #humanity, #illusion, #learning, #life, #love, #poem, #poems, #reality, #relate, #shared

Haiku #29

Photo by Al Soot on Unsplash

lotus flower blooms,
as the mind expands, and learns
from past circumstance


Utmost Feelings – Coming Soon!

If you’ve not yet checked out Astha’s Anthology, Utmost Feelings, please check it out when you have a chance, and share as you are able. Thank you.

Additionally, the coauthors of Astha’s Anthology, Utmost Feelings, are creating a space for people to send their sentiments to Astha’s family.

If you are interested, please add your sentiments to this form, thank you, and stay blessed.

#poetry, #consciousness, #contemplation, #expansion, #haiku, #humanity, #learning, #life, #love, #meditation, #mind, #nature, #poem, #poems

Nights End

Photo by Diego PH on Unsplash

The view
from atop,
seems far to drop,
into thinking
and behaving
in new ways,
a fresh perspective,
is what they say,
can go a long way.

I concur
with these remenints
of the past,
and wonder, at times,
if they truly last.

Do we learn from
our past misdeeds?

And create anew
from a space that seeds
humanity,
with a newness
and a brilliance,
we can pass along
to all those who come
after we pass?

Questions to ponder,
and reflect upon,
as we meander
our way
through a kaleidoscope
of memory
and present temereties.

Knowing too
that these shall pass,
like all the rest. For, in
each moment
lives the gift of choice
we’ve been given, yes,
one of our true tests.

Study well, then,
my dear friends,
for the tests
continue to come
well into
our night’s end.

#poetry, #development, #future, #learning, #life, #love, #nightsend, #past, #poem, #poems, #present, #resilience, #tests

10 Reasons Why Asking Questions is Important to Your Development

Photo by Artem Maltsev on Unsplash

To question, or not to question? Hm. How many times do you remember being in a class, with a group of friends, or in a work environment where you wanted to ask a question, yet didn’t? Yep, me too. Really, we all have those memories.

Many people are afraid to ask questions, to speak up generally. Why? Afraid of looking silly, asking the “wrong” questions, not being taken seriously, or being made fun of. Has happened to all of us at some point.

Yet, the ability to ask questions, to discern relevance out of a context that is unclear, to move toward more clarity, while acquiring more knowledge and adding to the knowledge-base within the context is really important. Why?

Well, let’s ask Socrates, shall we. Here we go.

True wisdom comes to each of us when we realize how little we understand about life, ourselves, and the world around us.” – Socrates

Goal Cast

And this one.

The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.” -Socrates

Goal Cast

Powerful. Simply, there is so much unknown about life and the world, that to not ask, to not speak up in a way cheats ourselves and all of humanity out of possible progress.

Photo by NASA on Unsplash

The topic of questioning is so important. Important to life, the world, the production and eventual dissemination of knowledge, and, yes, it is also very important to our development. Why? Well, I’ve got 10 reasons.

Ready? Very well, let’s go.

  1. Learning
    1. Seems simple, yes? The more questions we ask, the more we learn. Though this concept is simple, in practice, many people struggle to ask the questions they have deep inside them. They do. As was aforementioned, though an extrovert, I too once struggled with asking my questions. The issue? When we don’t ask, we actually carry that question around. Literally. We have it within us, unanswered, which can cause us pain, and frustration.
  2. Knowledge
    1. When we ask our questions, we gain knowledge, and we also contribute to knowledge acquisition. Yep. In every question there lives the possibility of more knowledge. We know so little about life and the world. Yet, with every question that we ask, we create the opportunity for us, and everyone else, to learn more.
  3. Clarity
    1. The more questions we ask, the more clarity we have. And, the more clarity everyone else has. As we learn, so does everyone else. And, as we all learn, we transform the nature of the context we’re in, to a context where questions are possible. A context where those that are fearful of asking questions, as you are, or once were, will be empowered to ask their questions. Powerful.
  4. Collaboration
    1. Asking questions is also the breeding ground for collaboration. When we ask questions, we are naturally contributing to a collaborative context, where learning from each other is embraced. We are actually fostering a collaborative context by asking our questions. Seriously, it is true.
  5. Strategy
    1. Asking questions is also super important to developing and executing on strategy. Without questions, you will only ever produce what was produced yesterday. Questions are the birthplace of strategy. And, with strategy, both concepts and execution, we get movement, and with movement, eventual traction in whatever it is we are doing.
  6. Innovation
    1. Like strategy, innovation depends upon asking questions. Creation and innovation are intertwined with curiosity, and those that are curious ask tons of questions. They have to, they are curious. With questions comes the possibility of innovation, and new ways of seeing and experiencing the world.
  7. Vulnerability
    1. When we ask our questions, we are also being vulnerable. We are modeling an attribute that is a necessity for development. Developmental growth is dependent upon being vulnerable, and when we accept our own vulnerability, even enter into vulnerable spaces intentionally, we will ask our questions.
  8. Leadership
    1. Well, if questions are important to strategy and innovation, they are equally important to leadership. Leaders are interested in what others think, know, and feel. They have to be interested, it’s part of being a leader. And, to learn how people think, know, and feel, you must ask questions.
  9. Trust
    1. When we ask questions we also contribute to a context or environment of trust. When we are actively interested in someone else, and what they know, or how they feel and think, we are modeling trust. Especially when we get back questions from those around us, which by leading through asking questions, we will definitely get.
  10. Relationships
    1. Asking questions means that we get to learn more about those around us, which also means that we get to deepen our relationships with those people. It is inevitable. Learning about someone necessitates a relationship. And being in a relationship means knowing about that person, and to know, we must ask questions.
Photo by bantersnaps on Unsplash

Alright, there are 10 reasons why asking questions is important to your development. Let’s take a look at how they are interconnected. Ready? Here we go.

When we learn, we know more, and when we know more we have more clarity about our life, yes, and of the lives of those around us. Learning and knowing are part of development. And clarity is an output of learning and knowing more.

When we collaborate with others we get to know people better, and we also get to know ourselves better.

Knowing others better will always shine a light on the parts of ourselves that we want to develop. It is normal, and is also very healthy.

Within a collaborative context that embraces strategy, we also create the possibility of developing an innovative culture. And, inside of an innovative culture, we create more innovative possibilities, which also contributes to future strategies. All of which contributes positively to our development and growth.

Photo by qinghill on Unsplash

I’ve written in other posts that vulnerability contributes to and fosters innovation. Vulnerability is actually where the seeds of innovation will eventually grow. And, like innovation growing through vulnerability, we also develop and grow when we are vulnerable.

Relationships are created, in part, through trust. When we trust each other, we can be real, be vulnerable, learn more from each other, and grow together. When we are open to each other, we get so much more from each other.

Knowing that we, as Socrates might say, know so very little about life and the world. Knowing this fact is at the center of development and growth.

Leadership is dependent upon all of the aforementioned. And, I am not only writing about leaders in the traditional sense. I am also writing about every human on the planet. We all have the opportunity to lead. Lead from within, and from without.

When we lead by asking questions, we model our interest and support of contexts that are open to development and growth. We create more possibilities for ourselves, and for everyone around us.

Possibilities to learn, to know, to have more clarity, to build collaborations and strategy, which foster vulnerability, trust, and relationships; and, that is leading.

Ask your questions, and develop yourself and everyone else around you.

#clarity, #collaboration, #development, #developmentandgrowth, #growth, #growthanddevelopment, #growthmindset, #innovation, #knowing, #knowledge, #known, #leadership, #leadershipdevelopment, #learning, #questionsandstrategy, #questionsarestrategy, #relationships, #socrates, #socratesandknowledge, #strategy, #trust, #unknown, #vulnerability

The Blog + Video Series #13: Moving From Concept to Execution: Implementing Developmental Growth Opportunities at Work

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.
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is gaelle-marcel-l8snwgunqbu-unsplash.jpg
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.
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is jj-ying-7jx0-bfiuxq-unsplash.jpg
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.
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is jesus-santos-zbbkk2-cgf8-unsplash.jpg
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.
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is ux-indonesia-qc2n6rqu4vw-unsplash.jpg
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.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is daria-nepriakhina-zocdwpuirua-unsplash.jpg
Photo by Daria Nepriakhina on Unsplash

#businessdevelopment, #developingteams, #developmentandgroth, #leadershipdevelopment, #leadershipinaction, #leadershipmindset, #leadershippractice, #leadershipprinciples, #leadershipvalues, #learning, #learningandengagement, #organizationaldevelopment, #teambuilding, #teamdevelopment, #teamengagement, #teammoral, #teamtraining

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

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is daria-nepriakhina-zocdwpuirua-unsplash.jpg
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

The Social Construction Series Part 1: 7 Reasons Why Understanding Social Constructions Is Important

Photo by Jon Moore on Unsplash

Have you ever heard of the phrase a social construction? Maybe? Well, I hadn’t heard of it until I went back to school in my early 30’s. I was in a class on gender, and the professor said something like, gender is socially constructed.

At first, I was like, wait, what? I had no idea what the professor was talking about. Nope, not at all. As the professor continued to explain the concept, I almost fell out of my chair. Seriously. I was so baffled, confused, and interested, all at the same time.

I grew up in a family where ideas like social constructs were unavailable. Not a judgment, just reality. And, it’s okay. There are many, many families across this country that don’t have access to these kinds of ideas, and knowledge. Part of my passion and mission. Dissemination. Here we go.

Let’s define social constructionism.

“Social constructionism is a general term sometimes applied to theories that emphasize the socially created nature of social life. Of course, in one sense all sociologists would argue this, so the term can easily become devoid of meaning. More specifically, however, the emphasis on social constructionism is usually traced back at least to the work of William Isaac Thomas and the Chicago sociologists, as well as the phenomenological sociologists and philosophers such as Alfred Schutz. Such approaches emphasize the idea that society is actively and creatively produced by human beings. They portray the world as made or invented—rather than merely given or taken for granted. Social worlds are interpretive nets woven by individuals and groups.

Oxford Reference

Alright, so the basic idea is that all of life, all if it, is socially constructed. Meaning, simply, that all that we know is created again and again by people. These creations are then shared between and within groups. Shared meaning is derived from these created social constructs, or concepts. What concepts you ask?

Tree. Sun. Love. Life. Health.

Photo by Miha Rekar on Unsplash

All things we see and know. They are all socially constructed. Sometimes groups share and agree on their meaning across cultures, sometimes there are variations specific to particular cultures or geographies.

Why does it matter?

Because if everything we see and know is socially constructed, then all that we argue about, disagree about, and sometimes fight about is based upon ideas and ideals that are created. Created by people.

Understanding that the world is socially constructed is very important.

Important to individuals and how they internalize and understand their place in the world; and, it is also important to how groups understand their relation to each other.

When we know that everything is socially constructed, we have freedom from ideas and concepts, because we know they are not naturally occurring.

You may say, well, love is love and I know what that is, and how it feels to be in love. Yes. And, I am saying that love, even though you feel it, and know it, is still a concept. It is a concept associated with a particular way of being and feeling.

Photo by Tyler Nix on Unsplash

And, guess what? Naturally occurring, or biological concepts, are also social constructions. Tree. Yep. Biological, right? Yet, a tree is still a concept. Believe me. There was a time when a tree was not called a tree. A tree is a concept.

Alright, let’s look at 7 reasons why understanding social constructions is important.

  1. Gives us freedom from concepts.
  2. Creates access to new knowledge and power.
  3. Provides us a new perspective on how the world occurs.
  4. Empowers us to understand why we internalize concepts as real, even when they are not.
  5. Helps us understand each other on a deeper level.
  6. Assists groups in understanding each other; either how they relate, or how they differ.
  7. Creates an important distinction about language. How we use it, and how it affects how we see and experience ourselves, each other, and the world.

How can you use this information?

Question everything. Important. Here is a quote about questioning that I love.

“We awaken by asking the right questions. We awaken when we see knowledge being spread that goes against our own personal experiences. We awaken when we see popular opinion being wrong but accepted as being right, and what is right being pushed as being wrong. We awaken by seeking answers in corners that are not popular. And we awaken by turning on the light inside when everything outside feels dark.”  -Suzy Kassem

Awaken the Greatness Within

You can find quote after quote online about asking questions. Really. Asking questions is that important. Questioning that which others take for granted as real, or right, or wrong, gives you an immediate advantage. How?

Because most people won’t ask. They believe in what they see, hear, feel, and think they know. Why? It’s easier. More comfortable. Not a judgment. It’s okay not to question.

However, when we ask our questions, and actively participate in the contexts we are living in, we get back much more. Much, much more.

My invitation to you is to ask questions. You know, the ones that you’ve been holding onto for years. You know they’re there. And, it’s okay. It’s even okay to hold onto them, if you want to. However, it is way more fun to ask them. Way more. 🙂

Alright, that concludes the first part of the social construction series. Next time? Funny you should ask. I’ve already come up with it.

The social construction of knowledge. Will be fun.

Until then, question.

#concepts, #groupdevelopment, #individualdevelopment, #internalization, #knowledge, #language, #learning, #newperspective, #philosophy, #power, #poweroflanguage, #social-construction, #socialconstruct, #sociology

A Journey from Breakdown to Breakthrough

Photo by Rafael Pol on Unsplash

For most of my life I associated breakdowns with something to be avoided. An issue? Not necessarily. However, consider that breakdowns always lead to breakthroughs. And, without breakthroughs there is no movement. Movement, you ask?

I mean you cannot move your life into new realms of understanding and experience when you avoid breakdowns. Not possible. However, when you are open to an understanding that includes breakdowns and the associated breakthroughs as part of the human experience, you can move your life into new realms. Really.

Before we go further, let’s take a look at the definition of breakdown.

breakdown

Translate breakdown into Spanish

NOUN

  1. A mechanical failure.‘breakdowns could totally disrupt production’
  2. A failure of a relationship or system.‘a breakdown in military discipline’
    1. 2. A sudden collapse in someone’s mental health.‘Heather had a breakdown following the death of her sister’
  3. The chemical or physical decomposition of something.‘the breakdown of ammonia to nitrites’
    1. 3. An explanatory analysis, especially of statistics.‘a detailed cost breakdown’
  4. A lively, energetic American country dance.

Alright, let’s use 1.2 for the purposes of this conversation.

You may then ask, well, how do I become open to breakdowns as part of my regular daily experience? Ah, good. Let’s take a look at three things you can do every day that will ensure that you fully experience your breakdowns and the associated breakthroughs.

Photo by James Sutton on Unsplash

1. Welcome the Breakdowns

Often human beings avoid doing something new because we believe we need to look good and be right. Seriously. Take a moment right now, and really sit inside of this concept for a minute. And? Yep.

If you are really open to this conversation, you will agree that you too often avoid new experiences, because to be vulnerable and admit we don’t know is hard. Really hard.

Let me write that again. Being vulnerable and admitting we don’t know about something is hard. Really hard.

It is okay to acknowledge that; to admit this truth. It is. Admitting this truth simply means you are now aware that new experiences frighten people. With this new awareness you can now work from a space that allows for more openness. A paradox. Yep.

Actually becoming aware of this truth immediately opens you up. Right away. How? Because when we are no longer avoiding something about ourselves that we don’t like, and we embrace reality as it is, we create a new space within ourselves to know ourselves better, and to learn.

What to do?

The next time you are invited to take on something new that you don’t know much about, or have tried in the past and failed, try it again. Why?

Because inside of your new awareness about breakdowns, you have a new understanding; that breakdowns are normal. We need them to move ourselves forward. We need them to get to breakthroughs. Welcome the breakdowns. It simply means you are on the right track.

Photo by Neil Thomas on Unsplash

2. Ask for Help

Another thing hard for many humans to do is ask for help. Why? Because like trying new things, admitting that we need help, makes us fearful. When we act with a need to look good and be right, there is no space to ask for help. We see it as a weakness. Again a paradox. Why?

Because as I’ve written about in other posts, the idea that we know everything there is to know about any topic is silly. No matter how many degrees you have, or how much practical experience you have, there is always something to learn. Always.

Within this context, asking for help is normal. And, it is. Very normal. Does that mean asking for help is easy? No. Admitting we don’t know, need help, no matter what it is we are doing is hard. Very hard.

However, like understanding that breakdowns are normal, having this new understanding about asking for help, immediately opens you up. Opens you up to understanding the true nature of your humanity. And, in this space, you have the opportunity to learn more, be more, and know more. Awesome.

What to do?

When you are in breakdown, stay there. Yep, that’s right. Stay inside of that breakdown, and really feel it. Then, if you get a breakthrough, great. If not, ask for help. There is everything right about asking for help. Think about it like this. If you don’t ever ask for help, you are not expanding that which you know.

And, when we stop expanding what we know, we are limiting ourselves, and our human potential. Your potential is vast. It already is. If you experience that vastness, wonderful. If you’ve yet to experience it, don’t worry. Follow the steps in this post, and you will begin to experience it. Really.

Photo by Lucas Gallone on Unsplash

3. Capture the Breakthroughs

You will never know when a breakthrough will come. Sometimes you will get a breakthrough right on the other side of a breakdown. Sometimes it will be later. It’s okay. Normal.

What’s important is to capture your breakthroughs. In the moment you have a breakthrough, you may not even be sure what it is related to; and, that’s okay. Write it down anyway. Hold onto it. You will see where it belongs eventually.

Once you know where your breakthrough insight belongs, you can make plans to implement it into that area of your life. Sometimes you will choose to do this right away; and, sometimes you will wait. Both are fine. It matters less when you implement your breakthrough, than it is that you stay open to adopting it in some way. Why?

Because that breakthrough is a direct result of a breakdown you had. Whether you can trace the breakthrough back to a breakdown, it is related. Important. And, why it is so important to track and capture your breakthrough in some way.

Let’s now take a look at the definition of breakthrough.

breakthrough

Translate breakthrough into Spanish

NOUN

  1. A sudden, dramatic, and important discovery or development.‘a major breakthrough in DNA research’
    1. 1. An instance of achieving success in a particular sphere or activity.as modifier ‘the band’s breakthrough album’

Alright, we’ve now discussed a journey from breakdown to breakthrough. Though there is much more to discuss about breakdowns and breakthroughs, we covered enough to keep you moving.

When I started seeing my lifecoach 3 years ago, she once asked me this question:

Can you limp along a little while longer?

At that time in my life, a concept like a journey from breakdown to breakthrough was not available to me. Well, it was, however, I was not paying attention, nor was I in touch with myself. When we are out of touch with our own humanity the conversation we just had is harder to put into action.

However, what I’ve come to realize in the past three years, is that with guidance and persistence, the journey from breakdown to breakthrough can become a reality for everyone.

A reality that includes welcoming our breakdowns, a willingness to ask for help, and a system we can use to capture our breakthroughs so we can learn, and move ourselves forward.

Definitions retrieved from Oxford Languages

#askforhelp, #breakdowntobreakthrough, #breakthrough, #creatingyourlife, #emotional-intelligence, #fear, #humanpotential, #keepmoving, #learning, #movingfromstucktounstuck, #natureofhumanity, #openness, #vulnerability

Developing and Managing Your Resilience During COVID-19

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Photo by Gia Oris on Unsplash

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.

Resilience

(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’

Oxford Languages

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.

First

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.

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August 1, 2020

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.

Second

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.

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August 1, 2020

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?

Third

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.

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August 1, 2020

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.

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August 1, 2020

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.

Fourth

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.

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August 1, 2020

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.

Develop well.

#comfortzone, #comfortzones, #covid-19, #covid-19growht, #covid-19growth, #development, #developmentandgrowth, #develping-resilience, #growing, #growth, #humandevelopment, #learning, #managingresilience, #perspective, #resielnce, #selfdevelopment, #uncomfortable

The Blog + Video Series #6: COVID-19 and the Art of Possibility

Possibility: Noun – a thing that may happen or be the case.

I’ve been thinking more about possibility this week. What’s possible in our new landscape? Are the same things possible today, as were possible 6 months ago?

Not sure? Me either, so let’s take a look.

The Art of Possibility is about creating a context. A context specific to new ways to think about old and or new problems or issues. It is about letting go of preconceived notions of what is possible in a given situation.

The psychology of possibility is rather simple. Let go of the past, be in the present, and create the future from where you stand today, seeing reality as it is.

Not how we think it is, rather how it really is.

Seeing reality as it really is means being aware of our thinking patterns, and knowing when we are limiting ourselves by presuming or assuming we know all there is to know about a problem, issue, or situation we are faced with. Factually, humans know very little – if you don’t believe this blogger, read a little Socrates.

Photo by Jez Timms on Unsplash

The sociology of possibility involves creating traction with those around us in the art of possibility. As I’ve written elsewhere, humans are social animals, and rely upon connections with other humans.

It is only natural then that groups will function in accordance with the language they use to describe their shared reality. If that language is about limitation then limitation is what they will see and create.

If, however, that language is about possibility, then possibility is what they will see and create.

The possibility of possibility is about remaining open to new ideas, new understanding, and letting go of the notion that we know. Seems simple, yet can be difficult, as human beings are in some ways programmed to think they know more than they do, which is where vulnerability comes in.

Being open means being vulnerable.

Be vulnerable today in some way. Create and share a possibility with someone in your context, and, or create and share a possibility here. Either way, create and share. What else is there, really?

#covid-19, #creativity, #knowing, #learning, #possibilities, #possibility, #psychology, #sociology, #theartofpossibility, #vulnerability, #vulnerable