Today I had the privilege in participating in a learning session hosted by Pillar NonProfit. The topic was community collaborations and how to use the art of cultural animation to explore system level issues in provocative new ways. It was an energizing learning playground. We experienced different animation tools. The thing that is lingering on my mind is what got revealed using the animation experiences.
Over the course of the C2 Conference I participated in a number of brain dates. Brain Dates are a brilliant way of creating connection for idea sharing. You put out offers of topics you are willing to share information about as well as topics you want to learn about. You can search for topics that resonate and reach out to the person offering to request a meet up. Brain Dates are 30 minutes of quick, passionate sharing and often end with a commitment to follow up and share further.
I just experienced my first C2MTL Conference – Commerce + Creativity. One of the speakers challenged us as participants to have the courage to change before we have to. All of speakers spoke about the importance of leading change, embracing change or being the change we want to see. However, I love that there was the acknowledgement that change requires courage.
I have the great joy of being away on vacation. As I sit on the condo balcony I can hear the surf of the ocean, the waves caressing the shore. I can feel the gentle breeze and watch the palm trees swaying..
Vacation is a time for retreat, renewal and reflection. The very act of getting on a plane lifts us up into the air and helps shift perspective. Lift off temporarily closes the door on ‘regular’ life.
Each year I set a theme for the year. However in 2014 I did not. Nothing seemed powerfully compelling to hold as a focus. As a result, I meandered a lot this year. I had more clarity of what I didn’t want to do instead of the normal crystal clarity of my direction and the desired impact I wanted to create.
Simon Sinek, author of Start With Why, is one of my favourite thought leaders. This quote of his spurred me to reflect on both the power and vulnerability of standing in the place of "I don't know". "When we say what we don't know, it increases the likelihood that someone who does know will offer to help."
I was asked to provide comments for an article related to separation anxiety that occurs when parents return to work and children enter some form of childcare. Here's where my reflections took me. Being an individual with a career is one thing but being a working parent trying to focus on balancing two important roles -- dedicated professional AND parent -- causes many people to be stretched.
For me to feel optimistic I must trust. Without trust my optimism waivers. That is what I find myself pondering after this year's (2013) State of the City Address by our Mayor of London, Ontario (Joe Fontana). Having attended these events regularly I'm noticing a different feeling leaving the event this year. I'm feeling subdued and reflective. I noticed that the audience also seemed subdued as well.
How do you respond when someone cancels a meeting with you? Lately I’ve been responding with gratitude. I’ll be clear that I don’t condone bailing on people and leaving them hanging. However, when people have to cancel for really good reasons I accept it and see it as a gift of time. In fact, I’m noticing that my mind starts dancing with possibilities of what unexpected pleasures or untended items I can welcome into my day.
I’ve been noticing a lot of my clients are living with a lot of disturbance in their lives right now. It seems that people are being challenged – work or personal relationships are going off the rails, unexpected events are messing with well crafted plans, credibility and integrity is being questioned, or they are feeling immobilized by uncertainty in the face of rapidly changing conditions. These are painful experiences; all of them legitimately cause a person to go to some degree of self doubt and wondering of “Why me?” From a broader perspective, the world feels universally unbalanced right now. Political, economic and environmental systems are unpredictably shifting like a rapidly moving roller coaster. This is creating waves. People are being humbled by their inability to exert influence or control over conditions impacting them.
Yesterday I experienced what it’s like to go against the flow. It provoked me to consider how hard it is to be the person in any situation who approaches things from a very different perspective. As I reflect on the experience I hope that I will now have more empathy and understanding for the experience of those who choose not to comply or conform and are equally convicted in their goals and approach them in a different way. Situation: A Blue Jays versus Boston Red Sox game had just completed in Toronto.
This morning I awoke early and sat quiet by candle light gazing at the snowy expanse beyond my window. As I sat, the following “voices” of snow emerged. This is such a sweet reminder for me that one simple element can mean so many different things to so many different people. Taking time to explore perspectives through the eyes of self and others is such a powerful and exquisitely simple act. It is also a well honed art of those who are especially skilled in healthy social and relationship dynamics. Snow…
We humans are facing a new disorder. It’s called Nature-Deficit Disorder a phrase coined by researcher Richard Louv. NDD is the human cost of alienation from nature. I learned about this listening to CBC and it struck me like a bolt of lightning. One of the many reasons that people are feeling so disconnected from themselves is the lack of time spent in nature. I see it again and again with leaders that I coach.
Twenty one years ago to this day I became a Mom for the first time. Our son Ryan Frood Hawke was born prematurely at 29 weeks. He has forever changed my life. Today he is my greatest mentor and guide. His life of five weeks was short and yet powerful in many ways. His life and death caused a major shift in my life that woke me up to my calling and the work I do today. I am abundantly thankful for the imprint that Ryan has left on me.
I’ve been noticing a trend lately with a lot of my clients; especially those assuming new levels of responsibility or wanting to shift to working at a more strategic level. They have a really, REALLY hard time delegating. This is clearly a leader’s edge. As I’ve worked with them I’ve noticed a few common themes and beliefs that are barriers to delegation.
Clarity of vision and values provide a powerful force to living a life of intention and fulfillment. Success is easier to achieve when you can move towards your preferred life and future with focus. It’s easier to know what to say YES to. However, another important advantage of clarity and yet rarely talked about is the ability to get really strategic about when to say NO.
Recently I worked with a client who shared that life was great. He is maximizing his strengths, he’s living in alignment with his values, he’s passionate about his work, loves his colleagues and the stimulating work environment he’s blessed to be part of. Yes, he’s working hard and long hours but it’s gratifying on so many levels. So, he pondered why engage in coaching when everything is good. Such a great question.
Half the challenge of communication is that it's not clear what people want or need from a conversation. Part of communication clarity is being able to ask for what you need. How often have you experienced someone venting to you about a challenge? Don’t you find that your natural instinct is to jump in and try and fix their problem? That’s not always what they need. Sometimes it’s the simple act of listening is all that's needed.
I haven’t met a person yet who doesn't love to receive acknowledgement, thanks or appreciation. So if that is true, why is it so difficult to do? How often do you quietly, internally think positive thoughts about a colleague, friend or family member and yet hesitate saying something. My hunch is a lot. We humans are masters of assumptions. We assume that those we value the most intuitively know that we think highly of them and appreciate their efforts. Because of the work that I do as a coach, I have come to realize that the art of appreciation is a huge skill to cultivate in leaders.