The Reflection Series Part 9: The Power of Silence

In Leadership and Life

Photo by Tim Hüfner on Unsplash

This past week, I’ve been reflecting upon the power of silence; and, maybe more importantly how in that absence of sound and other stimuli there lives a very powerful reservoir. One that, as many of you know, I was not in touch with for many years.

In my reflection this past week, I’ve also been pondering how in today’s fast-paced, go, go, go, culture, I do have the United States in mind here, accessing silence is even more important. The paradox? It’s harder to access. Though not for the reason you may be thinking.

It’s harder to access, not because there is less silence available in the US. In fact, accessing silence has nothing to do with spaces and places. The reason that it is harder in the US to access silence is actually rather simple. It’s not valued, nor taught. In fact, one could argue that the opposite is valued.

Fast-paced, loud, go, go, go. Right? These may be horrible generalizations, yet take a look around any metropolitan city in this country, and what do you see? People moving fast, cars driving fast, animals moving fast. Habituation to a lifestyle that proceeds all of us, yet we also help to continue to perpetuate this lifestyle. Interesting.

In this post, I want to create a space to discuss some practices that anyone, no matter where you live, can take up to secure themselves a little silence each day. These practices are common sense. No great mysteries here. Yet, it’s the planning and doing and repeating that matter most in this conversation. (Re)habituation.

(Re)habituation

Photo by Omar Flores on Unsplash

Well, I’ve not defined a word in a while in a post, so let’s do that, shall we? Good. Here we go.

habituation

noun /həˌbɪtʃuˈeɪʃn/ /həˌbɪtʃuˈeɪʃn/[uncountable] (formal)

  1. habituation (of somebody/something) (to something) the action or condition of becoming used to something

There we go.

So, what then is (re)habituation? It simply means the process of habituating ourselves to a different set of stimuli, actions or conditions, while letting go of the ones we are currently habituated to. Simple. Yet, when we are habituated to an action or a particular set of conditions, it can be difficult to (re)habituate ourselves to something new.

I’ve written on this topic before, and think, especially right now, it is important for everyone to consider how they can get at least a few moments of silence in their lives each day.

Just a short 4 years ago, I never created silence for myself. In fact, I thought reading and watching television was, in their own way, silent time. And, when you don’t know how to access silence, and, in fact, are quite afraid of it, then watching TV or reading a book can seem like silent time.

Yet, accessing real silence takes practice. And, guess what? Once you’ve created a new habit to access silence, and you’ve done so for some time, you begin to realize that silence is always available. Even when you are busy. A paradox? Yes, and no.

Here are a couple things you can do on a regular basis to begin to access silence.

  1. Stop – when you are super busy. Stop. Stop, and set an alarm on your phone for 2 minutes and just sit there and focus on your breath. The way the air is inhaled into your lungs and the way it is exhaled out. Just 2 minutes. Do that periodically throughout your day. You will find that in just 2 minutes of silence, you can quiet your mind a little, and gain more focus. As you practice this 2-minute silence break, increase it after a couple of weeks to 3 minutes, then 5 minutes. It is amazing how much focus and mental equilibrium can be created out of just a few minutes of real silence.
  2. Walk – calendar yourself for regular walks. You can start with a 5-minute walk. If you’re at work, maybe it’s just around the area you work, inside or out, it matters not. What matters is to focus on your breath as you walk. As you take a step, inhale in, and as you take another step, exhale out. You can even count the steps as you take them. I still do this today without even thinking about it. Habituation.
  3. Listen – when you are super busy, stop what you are doing, and listen to your mind and body. How do they feel? Are you tense? Is your mind super active? If so, stop and breathe for a few minutes, or take a walk, as described above.
  4. Repeat – the most important thing about creating a new habit, or (re)habituating ourselves out of our current habits and into new ones is repetition. Daily is best. Yet, it is also important to set a schedule you can work with and that will feel good. So, if that’s every other day, so be it. Getting started is key, and then continuing as you are able will create more workability for you inside of creating a new habit.

Alright, there are a couple of things you can do to habituate yourself into a new habit, which will help you gain access to silent time everyday. Remember, if you forget, which will happen, or feel you don’t have time so choose not to access silent time one day, it’s okay.

There are no demerits here. It’s about creating more workability by increasing your focus, attention, and mental wellness, something everyone needs, and leaders must have.

Leadership and Silence

I’ve found accessing silence one of the most powerful concepts and practices of my entire life; and, remember, the person writing this post did know how to access even one minute of real silence until about 4 years ago. True.

Yet, when we create the time to be silent, to quiet our minds, to listen to our bodies, and to just be, what we get back is so much more. We get more focus, attention, and mental wellness, and we also get more insights. Insights into our own humanity. A sacred and beautiful experience.

Here are five few ways that silence has impacted my life and leadership.

  1. Mental Flexibility – when we are mentally flexible, we are open and willing to listen and learn.
  2. Calmness – remaining calm under great pressure and stress is key to keeping yourself and your team on track and in alignment.
  3. Clarity – developing clarity means that your communications will be more clear and understandable. Communication is one of the most important functions in leadership, so being clear, concise, and understandable is key.
  4. Patience – the ability to demonstrate patience shows your team that even under extreme pressure, you will remain open and flexible. Demonstrating patience will give your team more confidence in you as a leader.
  5. Deeper Understanding – to lead, you must understand yourself well; and, you must be able to relate to all people, staff, peers, customers, clients, everyone. Developing a deeper understanding of your own humanity, means that you develop a deeper understanding of all humanity, which makes you more relatable, empathetic, and compassionate.

There are many more ways that silence has impacted my life and leadership, yet these are important for all of us, and for leaders they are critical. The ability to be mentally flexible, remain calm, have clarity, demonstrate patience, and create a deeper understanding of yourself are skills that every leader needs.

Remember, then, the next time you feel overwhelmed at work or in life, create silent time for yourself. It can even be 1 minute to start. What matters most is getting started.

It’s about accessing the silence that is always within you; and, watching that grow over time, as you continue to practice the act of creating silent time for yourself.

#clarity, #creatingnewhabits, #creatingsilence, #deeperunderstanding, #habituation, #leadership, #leadershipdevelopment, #life, #mentalflexibility, #mindfulness, #patience, #personaldevelopment, #professionaldevelopment, #reflection, #selfdevelopment, #silence

The Leadership Series Part 3.5: Developing High-Performing Teams

Getting into Action and the Resulting Traction

Photo by Shridhar Gupta on Unsplash

Well, it’s been a little while since I’ve written an installment in this series. Busy, just like you. I am also continuing to work on a new leadership series, Leading from Within, the first post of which will be out in the next month.

Alright, where we left off in the last installment of the leadership series, was discussing relationships, process, and systems. All necessary and needed to prepare yourself and the team for being in action and gaining traction.

In this post we will look at roles and responsibilities, getting into action, and the resulting traction. Ready? Good. Here we go.

Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

Roles and Responsibilities

In a team environment, defining each team member’s work and areas of expertise is important. If you don’t know, you won’t know who to hand the “ball” to, who to go to when you need help, and you will not understand what your team members do at work.

Being on a team means defining roles and responsibilities. The first time the team and I completed this task, it was hard. Hard because I came from outside of the department, and most of the people in the burgeoning department knew of each other, yet didn’t really know each other. Meaning, there were acquaintances, yet for what this team would eventually begin to create and build, acquaintances wouldn’t be enough.

We needed to really know each other, to really get each other; and, to do that, you need to dig into the individual work.

I’m sure there are many ways to define roles and responsibilities, yet I only really know how we did it, so here we go.

  • Defining roles and responsibilities – it is important on a new team to use the same language. In fact, I’ve not written a post about this concept, and it is an important one. When you are building a team and a culture around a team, you are creating an overarching system for how people communicate; and, using the same language consistently is key, which is why defining roles and responsibilities is an important first step.
  • Individual staff time – once you’ve defined roles and responsibilities, and have talked with each staff member about their individual roles and responsibilities, each staff member will need time to actually write their roles and responsibilities out. Know that they may have never been asked to do something like this, so will need some time. I think we took about 2 or 3 weeks to write ours out.
  • All staff meetings – once all of the roles and responsibilities are submitted, create an all staff meeting to go through them together; and, have each staff member talk through their roles and responsibilities. Important. This will give their teammates the opportunity to ask questions.
  • Document and file – after all staff members have sight on each other’s work, and have had the opportunity to ask questions and discuss their work, make sure to document and file the roles and responsibilities. Documentation can be done many ways. If you use a project management system, that would work, as would a Google shared drive folder.
  • Keep them handy – how you document the roles and responsibilities matter less than that they are accessible to all staff, and are referenced often. After we completed our roles and responsibilities, I used these data to formulate portions of our very first 1W1 conversations. Helpful.
Photo by Edho Pratama on Unsplash

Results

As we created our roles and responsibilities, we also worked through the results we intended to achieve in our respective positions.

Here is an example of what that looked like.

Albany, Oregon 2021

Yep, that picture is a little askew, yet you get the idea.

Setting your intention early on in a team’s formation can really assist everyone, especially if you are in a leadership position. It tells you what people are passionate about, and how they plan to achieve their goals, and results.

Once everyone’s roles and responsibilities are declared and results are clearly articulated, it’s time to create a system for getting into action.

Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash

Getting into Action

The past two weeks I’ve been reflecting more upon the system we’ve created over the past three years, which I’m going to walk you through momentarily. One thing you will notice is that within the system, there is a focus on both people and performance.

As I wrote about in the post, Causal Loop 101, a focus on people only results in a lack of action and traction, whereas a focus on performance only will result in declining morale and burnout.

Here is a very simple system anyone in a leadership position can use to move from inaction to action to traction. Ready? Good. Here we go.

  1. Door’s always open – as I’ve written about in other posts, creating safety on your team is paramount. And, one way to do that is to ensure you are available. Being open and available for people let’s everyone know that they are the priority.
  2. 1W1’s – I’ve been conducting 1W1’s with the team for almost 4 years now. These 1W1 conversations have iterated over time. For almost 2 years they were weekly, and now? Only as needed. 1W1’s are instrumental when creating a new team. Creating relationships takes time, intention, and thoughtfulness. There really isn’t anything more important than these relationships.
  3. Program Meetings – these smaller interdepartmental meetings have also iterated over time. Today, there is really only one program that still meets weekly. It is the most complex program, with the most staff, so that’s what feels right today.
  4. Area-specific meetings – the registration staff also meets weekly right now. Super helpful during a time when we are not all together in our office, and can easily have ad hoc conversations. At some point these meetings will probably go by the wayside, yet not right now.
  5. Quarterly team building – an important aspect of building teams is making sure that each person on the team has access to high quality developmental opportunities. We began quarterly team building in year 2, and though we are on a hiatus from team building right now, they will be back once we are back on campus.
  6. Weekly messaging – as many of you know, I send the team a message each Monday morning. It is a way for me to stay connected, and give them a reflection from the week before. Something for them to ponder and reflect upon as they work through their week.
  7. Monthly Updates – I usually send out a small monthly progress report, which lets the team know how we are performing across each program in the department. They are to keep the connection going, to give them data, and to celebrate our many victories.
  8. Quarterly reports – these more detailed reports relay important data on how we performed against our metrics, and testimonials from students and clients. They serve two distinct purposes – give the team my sight and thinking on the current reality and landscape, and to celebrate our accomplishments.
Photo by Slidebean on Unsplash

Resulting Traction

When people on a team feel safe, know what each other do, understand their goals and priorities, and fully support the vision, you will get traction. One way to ensure that happens is to install systems into the team to ensure that there is predictability and stability.

Though our systems are mostly home-grown, they work; and, though the type of education we work in changes rapidly, just like businesses in the private sector, there is always a sense of predictability and stability amidst the chaos. Important.

You might be thinking, what does traction look like?

Well, it can look lots of different ways. One thing it is not? Just hitting a metric. That’s not it.

Meeting your goals, objectives, priorities, and metrics is only one part of the equation. Just one. The other? Developing high-quality relationships with each other that can withstand changes and chaos that will come your way. It is inevitable.

If you have the former without the latter, the team will eventually falter. If you have the latter without the former, you will achieve the former in time, and the resulting traction. Guaranteed.

Alright, that’s the last entry in The Leadership Series. It was fun. As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I am currently working on a new Leadership Series, the first post of which should be out sometime in April. That will also be fun. Until then, lead well.

#action, #beinginaction, #creatingtractiononteams, #leadership-development, #peopledevelopment, #personaldevelopment, #professionaldevelopment, #results, #rolesandresponsibilities, #teambuilding, #teamdevelopment, #traction

A Blogger’s Diary 2/21/21: On Writing and Reflecting, Spring Term, and Asking for Help

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

Do you ever feel like you have so much to say, and there’s just not quite enough time to say it all? Well, I’ve felt like that some this week, so have some new posts coming in the next few weeks, which I’m pretty excited about. Before we get to that, let’s take a look at 2 reflections from writing that occured this week. Alright, here we go.

On Writing and Reflecting

Forgiven

I had a great time reflecting upon and writing the poem forgiven. It was prompted by the Saturday RagTag Daily prompt, by Punam. The prompt was hugs.

As I reflected upon the concept and actual practice of hugging someone, it occured to me to write about a warm embrace in two ways, which are paradoxically, and not, one way. There is something very special about the contact between two people that occurs in a hug. Magical in fact.

The concept of falling into someone’s arms is about sharing something so special with someone else that in a way in that moment the two become one, and all of life’s complexities, challenges, and even disappointments disappear and are forgiven. Lovely.

I miss hugging people. I look forward to a day when hugging people is something we all do again as a normal everyday practice.

Imagine

I had an equally fun time reflecting upon and writing the poem Imagine, which was a WDYS prompt from Keep it Alive, by Sadje. As I considered that beautiful tower, I wondered what the tower would think about the state of the world today. I imagined, pun intended, that the tower would long for a day when people would be bustling up and down it’s steel reinforcements, and walking, laughing, and playing at its base.

Of course, as with all things we write about, imagine is also a poem about my reflections about the state of the world. The hope and knowing I hold deep inside that in due time, we will all be in-person together again, walking hand-in-hand, and laughing and playing again like we did not so long ago.

I look forward to that time.

New Writing

I have several new posts I’ve been working on. Here is a preview.

  • My One Thing This Week: Creating a Vision Traction Organizer
  • The Reflection Series #8: Causal Loop 101
  • A Developmental Moment #5: Patience as a Concept and Practice
  • A Developmental Moment #6: Why Learning to Ask for Help is Necessary and Needed

Of course, I have some new poetry, which I am also excited about. More to come!

Photo by Mink Mingle on Unsplash

Spring Term

Well, last year at this time, we were just about to embark on pivoting 5 educational programs to fully remote. Something we’d never done before, pandemic or not.

And, as we prepare for this Spring Term classes, registration for which begins on Monday, I am filled with such gratitude and appreciation for each person I work with. Their persistence in the face of adversity, determination to never give up, and to always acknowledge our current reality, while creating new ways forward within that reality, is such a treat and joy.

The department has over 120 remote classes, workshops, and training on offer for Spring term, and each term, as I’ve written before, we reach more and more people with opportunities for them to be with other people. This last term, we had students from Europe and all across the US. Super fun.

Asking For Help

For a very long time, I did not like asking for help. In fact, I would say that I avoided it at all costs. It was a part of how I was raised. Part of that individualistic mentality that is so pervasive in the US.

However, it is mere confusion at best. Why? Because, as I’ve written about before, the idea that we are independent of other people is an illusion. Simple. We are interdependent, nay, really One.

Therefore, living in an illusion that you are an individual separate from the rest of humanity and the world is a space full of pain and suffering. Seriously, I know. I lived that way for a long time.

When we are aware and realize that we are all interconnected, and that, in fact, all things on this planet are interconnected, the idea of asking for help is much more palatable. In fact, when you take that idea further, and realize that you ask for help everyday without saying the words, the concept of asking for help sort of becomes a part of who you are.

That does not mean, however, that it is easy for everyone. And, in fact, when I am super busy at work, my old pattern will reappear at times, and I have to always keep asking for help present for me. Important.

When we need help, we need to ask for it. Simple. You are not deficient or in any way less efficient or effective when you ask for help. In fact, the paradox is that you are way more effective and efficient when you ask for help. Yep. True.

I have an upcoming article on asking for help, which will come out in a few weeks.

Alright, that’s all for this week.

Stay healthy and well, and have a tremendous week.

#poetry, #askingforhelp, #blog, #blogger, #bloggers-diary, #blogging, #diary, #education, #personaldevelopment, #personalenrichment, #poems, #professionaldevelopment, #remoteclasses, #spring, #writing

Living An Intentional Life

How Your Head and Heart Function in Relation to Your Intention and Realizing Your Future Self

Photo by Jash Chhabria on Unsplash

Well, who’s not heard of intention? Yep, we’ve all heard the phrase, the power of intention, probably even read books about it; I know I have.

Yet, what does it really mean to live an intentional life; and, where does our intention come from, and how can we get more of it?

Good questions. Let’s first take a look at the definition of intention, shall we? Excellent. Here we go.

intention

noun/ɪnˈtɛnʃn/ [countable, uncountable] 

What you intend or plan to do; your aim

Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries

Well, that’s pretty straightforward, yes? Good.

Now, I want to look at intention five ways. Here they are.

  1. The Head
  2. The Heart
  3. The Head and Heart
  4. The Field of Experience
  5. Creative Beings

Ready? Good. Here we go.

The Head

When I use the term, or concept, head, I am referring to our intellect. The way we think about ourselves and the world. How we think about ourselves and the world has a direct impact on our intention.

For instance, if we believe we are incapable, and the world is a scary place full of bad people, our intention will follow. However, if we believe we are limitless, and that, generally, the world is full of good people, our intention will follow.

Why does this matter?

Because we are the creators of all of our experiences. And, how we think matters in relation to creating the life we want to live. If we are overcome by negative thoughts patterns, we will continue to live in a world full of those negative thoughts.

Meaning, that we will continue to get back very similar looking experiences to how we think about who we are as a human being.

We can actually say that in the head is where it all starts. Yet, it’s not where it all ends.

Photo by Omer Salom on Unsplash

The Heart

When I use the term, or concept, heart, I am referring to our intuition. It’s that “gut feeling” we get about ourselves and the world.

Unfortunately, in the United States, intuition is not regarded as important as the intellect, which, in my estimation, is a thinking error. It is a thinking error, because many scientific experiments, breakthroughs in theory, and research, are made through intuition, even if the researcher or scientist is unaware or in denial about this truth.

Factually, human beings feel their way through much of their lives. Feeling through that inner-knowing, which guides us through our experiences, both wonderful, and difficult.

Therefore, our intuition is a big part of how we create and set our intentions. How we feel about our personal and professional lives matter. As does how we feel about the future self we want to create.

The Head and Heart

When we have alignment between our head and our heart, our intellect and intuition will blossom. Many people have a direct conflict between their head and heart. Some are aware about this truth, and some are not.

When we are aware, we can make changes, creating alignment between the two. When we are out of alignment between our head and our heart, we are in a sort of perplexed state.

Have you ever wanted to try something new, and your intellect felt confident, yet your intuition told you a different story? Sure. It happens to us all.

However, if your daily experience, like mine once was, is like this, constantly struggling to make decisions, unsure and worried about the future, it may be because your head and heart are misaligned. It’s not a problem if this is the case, it happens.

What’s important is finding out why there is misalignment, and working towards realignment.

Alright, now that we’ve talked about the head and the heart, and alignment between the two, let’s talk about the field of experience, and setting our intention.

Field of Experience

What does the field of experience mean? Good question. In this discussion, it means all the information we take in and give back out within the contexts we navigate.

Here is a simple picture of how I view the field of experience. Yes, yes, I know, I’m not an artist. Well, not that kind of artist. You know, writing is an art. Anyway, I digress, here we go.

Corvallis, Oregon 2021

Now, let’s take each of these concepts one at a time and unpack them a little. Here we go.

Incoming Information

As we can see in the above example, we have a field that we experience. That which is in front of us. And, within this field of experience, we are always receiving information. The information we receive comes in many forms, mostly in terms of verbal and nonverbal information.

We take in all of this information, whether we are aware of it or not, and assimilate it into schemas about our lives. The information that fits, makes it into these schemas, or narratives, and what doesn’t, well, we sort of block it out. This blocking is also known as a blind spot.

Now, when we are aware that we function in this way, we can work to ameliorate these blind spots. How? By being open to new experiences and new information, which we don’t quite understand, until, yep, we understand it, and can assimilate it.

And, just as we have new information coming in, we are always creating new information and sending it back out into the world, or, in this example, our field of experience.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Outgoing Information

As was aforementioned, as we take information in we also give information out. We give information out in the form of verbal and nonverbal communication. And, as we already discussed, when we have a self-view or worldview that is cynical, let’s say, we give that back out to everyone we come into contact with.

However, when we are aware of how our thinking and feeling affects the information we give out, we can create a space of personal and professional transformation. Why?

Because we have now created a space where we have a choice about how we transmit our thinking and feeling. The concept I am alluding to here is emotional intelligence, which is powerful and transformative.

Once we understand how incoming and outgoing information affects our field of experience, we can better understand how the concepts past, present, and future, also affect our field of experience.

Past Present Future

I’ve written about the concepts of past, present, and future many times. They are important to this discussion because when we are facing the past, we are recreating the past in our present moments. And, when we recreate the past in our present moments, we are recreating the past in all of our future moments too. Yep. This is the truth.

However, when we let go of those previous experiences, meaning, that we are present in our current reality, and are creating our lives and our field of experience from the present moment, we are creating a future reality that is not bound by the past.

These concepts are actually quite simple, and yet, can also be confusing sometimes if you’ve never thought about your life experiences this way.

Remember, we create our future from today, from this moment; and, when the present moment is infused with confusion, worry, or shame, for example, about our past, we are then going to recreate those same thoughts and feelings in our present moment.

And, yes, they will then go out to our field of experience, which means they’ll also come back to us just the same.

However, as I’ve mentioned, when we create ourselves anew in each moment, we are creating new realities that are not bound by thoughts and feelings from the past.

And, what happens when what we think and feel is just right? Good question.

Photo by Artem Maltsev on Unsplash

What Thinks and Feels Right

When what we think and feel is in alignment, and just feels right, we are ready to set our intention to create ourselves anew in each moment.

It doesn’t mean, however, that we won’t at times have misalignment. It happens.

What it does mean is that more often than not, how we think and feel is aligned. Meaning, that we’ve freed ourselves from our previous worries, anxieties, and frustrations, which may impede our most creative moments.

Because, remember, if we are worried, anxious, and frustrated, we will only create more worried, anxious, and frustrated thoughts and feelings.

Again, at times we will have these thoughts and feelings. Yet, they will not dominate our present moments, because we are aware of how they function, can work through them, and let them go. Important.

Setting Your Intention

For me, creating and setting your intention simply means doing what we’ve already discussed. Now, we’ve covered a lot of information, so let’s recap real quick, so we can see how all of these concepts work together.

  • The Head (Intellect) – our thoughts contribute to our experience.
  • The Heart (Intuition) – our feelings contribute to our experience.
  • Head and Heart Alignment – creating alignment between our thinking and feeling is important.
  • Incoming Information – we receive verbal and nonverbal information all day, and we assimilate, or block, this information into our current worldview.
  • Outgoing Information – we are always creating and sending out information, both verbal and nonverbal.
  • Past Present Future – when we allow our previous experiences to shape our thoughts and feelings, we are creating more of our previous experiences in the present moment. However, when we work through and let go of our previous experiences, we are creating our present reality and future realities based on today, not yesterday.
  • What Thinks and Feels Right – when we have alignment between our head and our heart, it will just feel right. Meaning, that we’ll be creating our present moments and future moments from today, not our past.
Photo by Aziz Acharki on Unsplash

Now we can see how important these concepts are to our intention. For instance, when we are living in the past, allowing our old thoughts and feelings to dictate our current and future realities, our intentions are set exactly so.

Meaning, we will get back all of our old experience. Yes, thoughts, feelings, and actions; and, we will see those things, such as anxiety, worry, doubt, and fear everywhere.

However, when we work through our previous experiences, including our thoughts and feelings, we are creating a reality free from those old patterns, or habits. And?

Our intention follows. We create and set our intention from our present moment, free from our past, facing toward the future we want to create.

Intention, whether we are aware or not, is a powerful force. An example? Sure. Here we go.

Think for a moment about a time when you’ve been upset and really frustrated. Maybe, you’ve been overwhelmed, and it’s lasted at least a few hours, if not an entire day, or a couple of days even. What did you experience in those moments, hours, and days? Yep. More of the same, yes? Of course. That’s how it works.

Similarly, think about a time when you were feeling really good, and that lasted for a couple of hours, or days. What did you experience in those hours and or days? Yes, exactly. More of the same.

Our intention is powerful, and will manifest before us that which we think and feel most passionately about. Even if that is worry, doubt, frustration, and anxiety. Thus, we must take care of our intention, and feed it positivity, hope, love, compassion, empathy, and patience.

Creative Beings

Ultimately, we are creative beings. It’s been said and written many times, creativity is our highest calling. For me, this simply means that we are the active agents in our lives. We create our present reality, which informs our future reality.

And, we do so through the power of intention. Through the ways in which we think and feel about ourselves and the world. We create our present and future realities from this space.

Meaning that we need to take care of the space between our thoughts and feelings, between the information we take in, and the information we give out.

These spaces are dear to us, so use them well, take your time with them, and create and set your intention from this moment, facing towards the future you want to manifest.

#creatingintention, #creatingthefuture, #fieldofexperience, #future, #headandheart, #intellect, #intuition, #leadershipdevelopment, #lettinggoofthepast, #past, #personaldevelopment, #present, #professionaldevelopment, #selfdevelopment, #thepowerofintention

My One Thing: Creating Alignment in Our Lives

How You Can Create Alignment Between Your Personal and Professional Lives, and Create a Life Part 2

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

Alright in the last entry, My One Thing: Creating Alignment in Our Lives, we discussed vision and goal-setting. And, in this entry, we will discuss.

  • Creating Objectives
  • Creating Priorities
  • Creating Next Actions
  • Results and Metrics
  • A Single System

Of course, both objectives and priorities, must be connected to your goals, and vision, so we’ll also take a look at how to connect them all.

Ready? Good. Here we go.

First, let’s use a goal that is actually part of my work today. A very practical example. Here we go.

  1. Increase connection, collaboration, and unification of noncredit organizations throughout the state of Oregon within the next 2 years.

Alright, we’ve got a goal set. Now, let’s discuss objectives.

Creating Objectives

Where goals can be set for long-term planning, and short-term planning, in the context of this conversation we are using a long-term goal.

Our focus then is to go from our long-term goal to day-to-day activities that will connect back to our long-term goal. Creating objectives can help us do that by breaking our goal up into smaller pieces, which we can achieve in a shorter period of time.

Let’s take a look at an objective for our goal.

  1. Create a noncredit consortium, which includes representatives from each organization that delivers noncredit education throughout the state of Oregon in the next year.

There we go.

Because our goal is to increase connection, collaboration, and unification of noncredit organizations throughout the state of Oregon within the next 2 years, we need an objective that will, well, basically, help us get there.

In this example, creating a consortium within the next year can do just that.

Alright, now we’ve got a 2-year goal, a 1-year objective, now we need some priorities.

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Creating Priorities

Priorities are typically set for a shorter duration of time. They can be set for a day, week, month, and even a quarter. Alright, let’s create some priorities for our objective.

  • Priority #1 – Create bylaws for the non credit consortium in quarter 3
  • Priority #2 – Create a leadership structure for the noncredit consortium in quarter 4.

It is possible in this example, that both of these priorities can be achieved within quarter 3, however, to illustrate the example, I’ve chosen to spread them out.

The important point is that we now have a goal, objective, and priorities that are all connected. And, they all have timeframes allocated to them, so we know if we are on or off track. Important.

Once priorities are created, it is time to create next actions.

Creating Next Actions

Creating next actions, or action items, or next steps, is really about identifying the work that needs to be accomplished to meet your priorities, which then means, yep, that you are meeting your objective, and moving closer to attaining your goal.

Let’s create some next actions.

  1. Identify bylaws needed and begin to create them in the January meeting.
  2. Identify 2 or 3 committee members that will continue to work on the bylaws in between the January and February meeting.
  3. Create agreement and alignment on the bylaw next actions, which are due by the February meeting.

There we go.

Now, you’ll notice that I did not create the next actions for priority number 2. The reason this is so, is that that priority is for quarter 4, and, as we complete the next actions to meet the number 1 priority, we will learn more.

Meaning, that the second priority might shift a little by the time we get to the end of quarter 3. Normal.

Recapping, we now have a 2-year goal, 1-year objective, a priority for quarter 3 with next actions, and a priority for quarter 4 with next actions still to be identified.

Before we get to the system part of our conversation, which, of course, is one of my favorite topics, let’s discuss results and metrics a little.

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Results and Metrics

It’s important in all goal-setting activities, personal and professional, to identify a way to measure progress. The measurement can be quantitative or qualitative. Both are needed and necessary.

In our conversational example about the noncredit consortium, we can create a couple of ways to measure our progress. First let’s reset the goal. Here it is.

  • Goal – Increase connection, collaboration, and unification of noncredit organizations throughout the state of Oregon within the next 2 years.

Now, let’s set a result and a metric.

  1. Result – Increased service to all communities as an outcome of increased collaboration between the noncredit organizations.
    1. Metic – Total service numbers by organization.

We can even take a deeper dive with this result, by creating actually percent increases we expect, such as:

  1. Result – Service numbers increase by 10% in year 2.
    1. Metric – Total service numbers by organization.

Once you have your results and metrics, we need to think about how to gather the data to measure the metric. In this example, we would utilize the systems the various organizations use to gather their student service data.

Alright, we’ve now covered goals, objectives, priorities, next actions, and results and metrics. Let’s now take a look at how these components work together to create a single system.

A Single System

As you all know, I love white boards. And, yes, I’ve created two simple white boards to help us visualize the linear information provided in this post. Here we go.

Corvallis, Oregon 2021

In this first white board we can see I’ve used a relationship ecological system to display the connection between the self, team, organization, and community, and a vision, goals, objectives, priorities, and next actions.

They function the same way.

As we develop as a leader, we take in information from the team, organization, and community, and we give information back out the same way. It’s completely reciprocal and, well, quite lovely.

Similarly, when we create a vision, and set goals, objectives, priorities, and next actions, they inform each other. For instance, the vision informs the goals, objectives, priorities, and next actions. Just as our next actions will inform our upcoming priorities, objectives, goals, and the vision, as needed.

Pretty cool.

Okay, one more visual. Here we go.

Corvallis, Oregon 2021

In this simple illustration, we can see a similar pattern. The vision is the anchor, as the self is in a relationship system, and informs our goals, objectives, priorities, and next actions, which, in turn, informs our upcoming goals.

Wow, that was fun.

That concludes the second and last installment in My One Thing: Creating Alignment In Our Lives.

You can use these tools in your personal life, just as you can at work. The most important thing is to create a vision for your future self; and; to work towards the realization of that self by taking actions each day that align with the self you see yourself becoming.

Remember, you are the only one that can make that future self a reality.

#creatingalignment, #goal-setting, #leadershipdevelopment, #metrics, #myonething, #nextactions, #objectives, #personaldevelopment, #priorities, #professionaldevelopment, #results, #systemsthinking, #visioning

My One Thing: Creating Alignment in Our Lives

How You Can Create Alignment Between Your Personal and Professional Lives, and Create a Life Part 1

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In November of 2019, I went to a Nationwide Conference for practitioners of non credit education. There was a lot of valuable information at this conference, and a few book recommendations. I read often, so taking on more reading, with an already long list, is not something I do often, yet the book, The One Thing, caught my attention.

The book caught my attention, as everyone, professionally, yes, and even personally, have lots of things they want to accomplish. And, sometimes, when we have too many goals, we are unable to concentrate and move anything forward.

The basic premise of the book is to focus on that one thing that will move you forward, either personally or professionally, and let go of the rest. Yes, yes, easier said than done.

However, it got me thinking about a new series, where the goal will be to convey the one thing I’m focused on that day, week, month, quarter, or even year. And, then?

Well, most importantly, what I’m learning. Where have the obstacles been, and how did I get around them, or how did I let go as needed.

I think it will be fun, and if you find it interesting and educational, I’ll keep it going. What’s first? Good question.

One that is part of my work of the year. I would even go so far as to say it is my one thing this coming year. What’s that?

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Creating Alignment

Alright, so I’ve now been in my current work position for 3.5 years, and, in that time, there has been much change. Some created internally, and some, as we’ve all experienced, created externally.

However, the change is created, the important takeaway?

Change always comes. It is part of life. An unavoidable part, as much as some people would like to remove themselves from change as often as possible. And?

I understand. Change is difficult. Yet, there is a paradox here. What’s that? Change is also beautiful. Truth.

In addition to being in my current role at the community college for 3.5 years, I also developed myself during that time, both personally, and, yes, professionally. And, the more I develop, the more I see alignment between all aspects of my life. All of them.

And, that, quite frankly is just simple fun. Many people, as I once did, create a distinction between their personal and professional lives. These distinctions, however, can leave people feeling frayed and stressed when Monday, or the first day of their work week, rolls around. This does not need to be the case.

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However, it takes time to get to a place where you can see alignment in all that you do. I’ve been working on it for 3.5 years; and, I’m closer, yet still have work to do. And, that’s okay, for it’s in the work we do in life, whether personal or professional, where the experience of life lives. And, that’s being alive.

Now, what tools have I used to create alignment between both my personal and professional lives. Good questions. Let’s take a look.

  • Vision – as I’ve written about before, having a vision, or declaring a purpose for your life, both personally and professionally is a key ingredient in creating alignment between your work life and your home life. Here are a few that I’ve used over the years.
    • To increase access to higher education for everyone.
    • To increase access to higher education for everyone by making leadership development, creativity, inspiration, and personal transformation available to every business, employee, and community member.
    • I live to create new access points to education and knowledge, and part of those access points is dissemination in print and in collaborative contexts, such as leadership and coaching individuals, teams, and organizations.
    • Develop, Inspire, and Transform.

Alright, that should do. As we can see there are definite similarities and dissimilarities between these visions. Still a work in progress. Yet, the fun part about creating a vision, or purpose, or mission statement, is seeing your vision iterate over time. Super fun, innovative, and expansive.

  • Goal-setting – as I’ve written about before, having tangible goals that live inside of our visions is of utmost importance. If you don’t have goals, you will not create movement on your vision. Here are some of the goals I’ve created for both my personal and professional self.
    • Pull community members and business leaders to us by providing them the why.
    • Create new relationships with community members and business leaders.
    • Priorities that are tied to the vision and mission.
    • Continue to improve and document all processes.
    • Publish a novel.
    • Increase my fluency in Spanish.
    • Travel to Spain.

Now, we can see how there is alignment, and, maybe, non-alignment between the goals and the visions. For the purposes of our discussion that matters less, than that there are goals declared. For it is in the declaring of goals, and setting our intention, that there will be movement in an area, that movement then becomes possible.

Funnily enough, sometimes you can set a goal, and totally forget about it, and you will still see movement in that area of your life if you pay attention. Why? Because you’ve set your intention that something be so, that you want to create movement in an area of your life. Intention is powerful.

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Alright, that’s all for this installment of the One Thing on creating alignment. In the next entry in the One Thing, Creating Alignment, we will look at how to take out goals, and create clear, and sometimes not so clear, objectives and priorities. Why is this important?

You can think about creating alignment, starting with a vision, as part of a larger process, which is like starting at the top of a funnel, and working your way down to the actions you take every day.

Because creating alignment is a part of my work of the year, it will take a couple entries to complete. However, as I’ve mentioned, this series will be an exploration of my One Thing, sometimes, of the day, week, month, quarter, and, yes, year, which is where we are starting.

I’m already thinking about a One Thing entry on baking. Hm. How fun would that be?

Remember, creating a One Thing simply means developing the ability to focus and create action around a vision or purpose we’ve intentionally created for ourselves. And, that vision might be for the day, the week, the month, quarter, or year.

It’s a paradox. In one way we can say it’s less about the timeframe and more about the focus you create on that which you want to manifest for yourself.

And, on the other, we can say, timing matters, as the more alignment we create between our personal and professional lives over time, the less of a distinction between these two realms there is; which I can say from personal experience is pretty powerful.

#creating-alignment, #creatinggoals, #creatingvision, #goal-setting, #huamndevelopment, #intention, #leadership, #personaldevelopment, #professionaldevelopment, #selfdevelopment, #selfimprovement, #theonething, #thepowerofintention

A Developmental Moment #3: Creating Vulnerability, Movement, and Traction

3 Reasons Why Vulnerability is A Key Ingredient to Creating Movement and Traction for Ourselves and the World

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I’ve written about vulnerability often this past year. Why? Well, I do believe that vulnerability is one of the most important gateways to our own development. Pretty simple really.

Vulnerability conceptually is simple, as most things conceptually are. However, practicing vulnerability, well, that’s a whole different experience.

We can talk about concepts often and at length, however, when we put those concepts, like vulnerability, into practice in our lives, they can often feel very uncomfortable. And, vulnerability is no exception.

Yet, it is so important for each of us to find new ways, which are safe, to put vulnerability into practice in our lives. Safe? Meaning, where we are with people we trust and can rely upon. Important, as when we are vulnerable, we are bearing a side of ourselves that is, for lack of a better way to explain it, raw.

Raw, meaning, that these sides of ourselves have not been exposed to, what can sometimes be harsh conditions in the world, so we must take care when we practice our vulnerability.

Now, when we find those spaces and places where we can be the vulnerable-selves we know ourselves to be, so that we can grow and learn, there are many things we will get back from our environments, and ourselves, which makes practicing vulnerability quite the exquisite experience. What, prey are those things?

Right. Well, in this article we will explore three of them. Three reasons, as I think about it, why it is important for us to practice vulnerability regularly, so that we may grow into the next iteration of ourselves.

Ready? Good. Here we go.

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1. Learn

Wow, how important is learning? Pretty important, right? Yep, I agree. Well, to learn more about the world, and the people in it, we must first, learn about ourselves. And, being actively vulnerable is key. Why?

Because we get to learn about aspects of ourselves that were previously unavailable. For instance, if you are nervous about public speaking, as I once was, and you always resist public speaking, well, you will never learn about the experience of public speaking. And?

That’s perfectly okay. However, if you are interested in tapping into a reservoir of untapped potential, then being vulnerable in the area of public speaking will be a gateway to your learning more about yourself as a public speaker.

The only way to become a public speaker is to do public speaking. You can read every book that was ever written on the topic, and still never become a public speaker. Whereas book knowledge is helpful, it is in the vulnerable practice of public speaking, for example, where we create the possibility of becoming a public speaker.

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2. Know

Now, as we practice vulnerability, and venture into environments that we previously resisted, we learn more about the experience of, staying with the previous example, being a public speaker. And?

Then, we get the experience of knowing what it is like to be a public speaker. Again, the only way to know what it’s like to be a public speaker is to become one. Meaning, to take one step, or one action, toward the realization of your goal to become a public speaker.

And, guess what? You get to control how big those steps are. When we actively participate in being vulnerable, we set the pace. It’s iterative. It takes time.

There was a time when I was terrified of public speaking. And, I mean terrified. Then when I was about 28, I wanted to become a leader in the company I was working for at the time. Well, there is lots of public speaking in leadership. Lots of it. And? I took one small step at a time. One step, led to the next, and so on.

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3. Grow

And, the steps I just wrote about? That is growth. That’s what it looks like. You set a goal outside of your comfort zone, knowing you will have to be vulnerable to get there, and you take a step each day, or every other day, or once a week, or month.

Again, you control the pace.

Growth is an experience. It happens in the world by taking actions that we’ve not taken before. And, to take actions we’ve not taken before, especially when we are fearful or anxious, requires courage, yes, and it requires vulnerability.

Courage and vulnerability go hand-in-hand. In fact, there is a super cool quote I’ve drawn upon a few times from Brené Brown that speaks to this truth. Here it is.

“Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it’s having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome. Vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our greatest measure of courage.” -Brené Brown

Book Riot

Powerful. And, it’s been my experience that vulnerability and courage are linked. In fact, I believe they are one and the same. You cannot be courageous without being vulnerable, and you cannot be vulnerable without being courageous. They are one.

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Movement and Traction

Now, as you learn more about yourself, and begin to tap into your vulnerable areas, you also begin to know more and grow more. These three, learning, knowing, and growing are also linked. And, the concept that lies behind them? Yep. It is an experience.

When we are in action, and experiencing life, living our life in vulnerable ways, we are creating movement. Movement for ourselves, yes, and for those around us. Meaning, when we move our own development forward, we move the development forward of the people around us.

It’s the way it works.

And, when we continue this pattern? Well, traction will inevitably follow. Meaning, that as we continue to grow, and those around us grow, we create contexts never seen before. Seriously. It’s not possible that they’ve been seen, because you are doing things you’ve never done before. Beautiful.

It’s inside of this movement and traction, and these new contexts, where the possibility to change the world lives. And, I mean this literally. The world is always moved forward from contexts that contain both courage and vulnerability.

And, remember you do have the power to change the world. We all do. What does it take?

Learning more, knowing more, and growing more in contexts that were previously unavailable to us. And, creating these contexts takes courage, yes, and vulnerability. So?

Be courageous, embrace your vulnerability, and change the world for the better. One action at a time.

#courage, #grow, #growth, #know, #leadershipdevelopment, #learn, #life, #movement, #personaldewvelopment, #professionaldevelopment, #traction, #vulnerability, #vulnerabilityandcourage

Creating Developmental Opportunities for Ourselves and Our Teams

6 Questions All Leaders Should Be Asking Themselves Right Now

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As I continue to write the, well, second-and-a-half, installment of the Leadership Series: Why Developing The Self is Always The First Step in Leadership, another idea occurred to me. What occurred to me? Good question.

In fact, the idea lives inside of the first few installments of the Leadership Series, yet overviewing it in this article makes sense to me today, so here it is.

As we develop, there are six questions to ask ourselves, which can lead inward toward more awareness about who we are as a human being. And?

Well, as I’ve written about in other articles, the more we understand our own humanity, the more we can understand all humanity. Super helpful from a leadership perspective, and, well, a whole life perspective.

Without further ado, here are those six questions

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1. What Do I Think?

Understanding yourself begins with getting a handle on how you think. What are your thoughts about the current reality, the state of your team, and the state of your life; a better question, maybe.

In order to lead teams effectively, we must first inquire into ourselves. When thoughts arise, it’s about letting go of the judgment we have about these thoughts, so we can understand them. When we can understand our thoughts, we are more effectively present to ourselves, and all of those around us.

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2. How Do I Feel?

Emotions come and go. They are here, and then they are gone. However, human beings have a tendency to hold onto emotions, like thoughts, and carry them around throughout the day. This need not be the case.

We can learn to effectively have emotions, feel them, understand them, talk about them even, and then let them go, which is a large part of my own internal work today. And?

Just like our thinking, when we understand our emotions, we are better equipped to understand our own emotional states, and what led us to those states, and ultimately we are better able to understand the emotional states of the people around us. Important.

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3. How Do I Speak?

Several months ago I wrote the article, 4 Reasons Why Language is Power. And, it is true that language is very powerful. Therefore it is important to understand how we are speaking and what we are saying. This may sound simple, and, for some of you, this may be the case.

However, human beings have a tendency to use language as a currency without considering the replenishment of that currency, as if it is in a never-ending supply. And, whereas we can continue to create language as we like, we should question the necessity of the language and the communication that follows.

As I’ve written about many times, communication is key, as is the importance of making sure we are clear about our communication. It is far more important to communicate clearly than it is to communicate often.

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4. What Do I Hear?

As we get clearer on how we think, feel, and speak, we will begin to hear things that we may not have been previously present to.

For instance, someone on your team, or close to you, may say they feel great and that all is well. Yet, you may hear things in their tone of voice that tells a different story. It first takes being clear on yourself, and then you can begin to pick up on inconsistencies in behavior, speech, and emotion. And, guess what?

It may be your own inconsistency that you pick up on first. Actually, this is very likely. And? It’s not a demerit when this happens. It’s okay.

It does mean that investigating, or inquiring, into the inconsistency between our behavior, speech, and emotion is needed. Understanding why there is ant inconsistency, to begin with. Important.

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5. What Do I See?

One of my favorites. As I continue my own development, which includes my own personal inquiry, a life coach, and a super dynamic and inquisitive team, I see so much more. More about my own humanity, and that of the teams. It works that way.

And, when you can see more facets of the human being you are, you are in a position to effect more change. More change for yourself, for your team, and for your organization, institution, or business.

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6. How Do I Act?

Being in action is so important. And, how we act tells us, and everyone around us, a lot about who we are as a human being. How we act will, in fact, tell people how we see, hear, speak, feel, and think. For, ultimately, it’s the actions we take that say the most about who we are as human beings.

For instance, we can create language about creating and effecting change, however, without action, the language is just language. Action is where concepts in language become reality. Simple.

And, when we are clear on our own actions, we are able to discern differences in how people talk about their work, and actually do their work. An important distinction and discovery.

Alright, that was a brief overview of 6 questions all leaders should be asking themselves right now. And, in fact, these are questions that anyone interested in personal or professional development can ask themselves.

It’s inside the questions we first ask ourselves, and the work we do on ourselves, where we develop as a person and a leader.

And, as we develop, we create the possibility of development for everyone around us.

#development, #howdoyouact, #howdoyoufeel, #howdoyouhear, #howdoyousee, #howdoyouspeak, #howdoyouthink, #leadership, #leadershipdevelopment, #personaldevelopment, #professionaldevelopment, #self-development, #self-awareness, #sixquestionsallleadersshouldask, #teamdevelopment

A Developmental Moment #1: Inspiration

How Inspiration Relates to Our Personal and Professional Development

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In the article, The Leadership Series Part 1: What is Leadership, and Why is it so Important?, we discussed several leadership characteristics. And, it is these characteristics, which, by the way, are applicable to every aspect of our lives, that we will cover, one at a time, in this new series. Where to start? Let’s see.

Well, let’s start with this past week’s reflections, shall we? Good. Here we go.

Alright, so this past week, I’ve been reflecting a lot upon inspiration. What is inspiration, where does it come from, how can we get more of it, and what do we do if we run out of it. Very important questions. And?

Well, this week I’ve also been reflecting upon the creation of a new series. A series that can encompass a multitude of topics, and, yep, this is it, and inspiration will be the first topic.

Some of these developmental discussions will be longer, and some will be shorter. It will depend.

Alright, for this entry, let’s tackle the first question on inspiration. Ready? Good. Let’s go.

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Where Does Inspiration Come From?

I really do love this topic, as it seems so simple, right? Inspiration, well, it’s all around us. Some people say they find nature inspirational, or other people in their lives, such as their friends and family, or coworkers. And, that is beautiful. Truely. Yet, there is something missing here. Do you know what it is? Hm.

It is the viewpoint. Meaning?

That inspiration does not live outside of you. Nope. It lives inside of you. We look outward and place inspiration onto other things and people, yet that inspiration comes from within. Always has come from within, and always will come from within.

Why does this matter to your development? Good question. Here is one, of many, reasons why.

  1. When we know inspiration comes from within, we stop looking outside of ourselves for our own inspiration. Being aware of the source of our inspiration is important to our development, because when we fully realize that our inspiration comes from within, we are not bound to the changing tides of people and things. Simple. And?
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Well, we know that change is inevitable. It is part of life. Yep. And, when we get clear on the fact that inspiration does not live in the changing world, that, in fact, it can be developed, and maintained, regardless of external circumstances, we become more powerful. Really.

Does that mean that we don’t ever feel down, or stressed, or sad? No, it does not. We are meant to feel all of our emotions; to feel them, know them, and learn how to talk about them.

And, yet, we can still find our inspiration even during the most stressful times. Why? Because even though we may consider a situation stressful, we know that our inspiration is always there. Waiting for us.

Alright, so what can we do to connect, or reconnect, to our own inspiration? I think there is one thing we can all do that will assist in making our connection, or reconnection, to our inspiration stronger. What’s that?

  1. Make time for yourself. A must.

When we create time for ourselves, to be with ourselves, just for ourselves, we get to know ourselves better. And, the more we know ourselves, the more clear on our own inspiration we become. Really.

Next time, then, when things are really hectic, and you are feeling overwhelmed, stop. Stop doing what you are doing, and go for a walk, sit down under a tree and look around, or look up at the beautiful stars in the sky. Stop and just be.

For it is in this space, where your inspiration will find you.

#clarity, #compassion, #connection, #contemplation, #emotionalintelligence, #emotions, #inspiration, #leadershipdevelopment, #meditation, #mindfulness, #overwhelm, #personal-development, #professionaldevelopment, #reflection, #selfdevelopment, #selfimprovement

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

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Photo by Daria Nepriakhina on Unsplash

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

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

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

Learning

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

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

Create them from within

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

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

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

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