March 28, 2013

Nourishing Self

For each of us, there are always good reasons to not do the things that feed your mind, feed your spirit.  Think about yourself for a moment.  Are you finding time for those things or does the busy-ness of life get in the way most of the time?

Making time for those things for yourself is a choice that requires deliberate action.  Choosing to do what will charge up your inner battery instead of one of the urgent priorities that plucks at your sleeve every day.

If you are able to develop a habit of making time for these things for yourself, you can also have an influence on the people in your life that you care about.  Encourage them to take some time each day, or week, to do something that nourishes their inner spirit.

December 20, 2012

can you be counted on?

Our own integrity is something that we may not spend much time consciously thinking about.  It is, however, something that has a tremendous impact on how others experience us.  Paying attention to it is something that can have a significant positive impact on our work and personal relationships.

Integrity can be simplified to the foundational concept of being your word, and doing what you said you would do.  If you said you would be at a meeting at 1pm, can people count on you to be there at 1pm?  If you said you would contact someone to discuss something, did you contact them?

Over time, people have an expectation of you based on their past experiences with you.  So, if you typically are late to meetings or appointments, then people expect you to be late.  If you typically say you are going to make a phone call and then don't, people have an expectation that you won't have done it.

If you are a person who hasn't typically done what you said you would do, people learn to not count on you for much.  Alternatively, they spend a great deal of time managing you...checking in to see if you have done the thing you promised, or just taking over and doing it themselves, or not even asking you to do in the first place because they know you won't do it and they will have to wait  a long time, nag, and then do it themselves after all.

This time of year is often a good time to reflect.  Is there anything that you want to change about how others experience you?  And, if you think you haven't behaved as well as you would like in this area in the past, you can begin right away to change it.  Just do one small thing that you said you would do, each day.  In a short time, you will demonstrate to the others in your life that you can be counted on.

As the quote goes, any passing moment is a chance to turn it all around.  

September 15, 2012

Freeing yourself up from regrets

Are there events in your past for which you feel a sense of regret?

Dictionary.com defines regret as 'a feeling of sorrow or remorse for a fault, act, loss, disappointment, etc.' I would define tweak this definition slightly, to be more about a sense of unhappiness with an event, action or experience in the past. The emotion is attached to our own role in it.  

Regrets are often identifiable by the language you use to describe them.  Words such as 'I wish I had...', 'I should have...' are indicators of regret.

It is useful to take a look at our emotions around something when those phrases crop up and come to peace with however we behaved or whatever we did in that circumstance.  If one doesn't come to peace with past actions, the collection of regrets can accumulate.  No one would describe the feeling of regret as a positive emotion; it leaves you feeling sad and powerless.

What if you were kind to yourself?  Put yourself in the shoes of that past you, and give yourself a break.  Undoubtedly, you did the best you could with what you had or what you knew at the time.  Or, you made an honest mistake, not realizing the impact of your actions.  You have influence over your attitude towards that past event, and you can reframe it so you are at peace with the outcome.

Going through a process of forgiving yourself, and giving that past you a heartfelt hug, can free you up immensely.  It can give you courage to continue to try again and again, without fear of failure. We all do things that in hindsight we wish we had done differently.  It is part of being human.  Being forgiving is a gift that you likely offer to others, so why not to yourself?





September 5, 2012

how do you tell your stories?

Our lives are full of events, every day.   People we see, news we hear, things we experience.  Sometimes it might seem that the day has been uneventful, with nothing to tell.  Most days, though, contain a couple of events that we turn into stories to share with friends and family.


How do you decide which events to share with others?  What language do you use to describe those events?

It is interesting to pay attention how you typically frame your stories.  It is possible to get a lot of mileage from talking about how challenging a co-worker was, or about how terrible a driver was on a commute to work.  However, what is the impact of those stories on your listener?  Think about your own experience.

When people share positive stories with us, we usually leave the conversation uplifted, inspired.  The opposite is usually true of negative stories, although we might not fully be aware of the impact.  We might just feel a little more tired or disillusioned than usual, without attributing it to the conversations we have had.

If your listener is someone important to you, you likely prefer to leave them more uplifted and positive after talking to you than before.  What would it be like if you shifted your lens and told your story from another perspective?  If at the end of the day, instead of a story complaining about your cranky coworker, you had a story of how you helped them to finish an overdue project, relieving their burden and stress?


August 7, 2012

Wise reminders courtesy of LinkedIn

I use LinkedIn as a way to connect to and interact with some of the people in my life.  LinkedIn is designed to be more of a professional network than other social media platforms such as Facebook.  It is geared to helping you to connect with people who worked with you in the past, are currently working with you, or have had some sort of other professional interaction with you.

One of my favourite features of LinkedIn is the 'How You're Connected To...'  box down the right side of the page.  When you click on someone's profile, this little box gets populated with information about the different ways this person and you are connected.

What is amazing always about the information in this box is how closely connected you are to so many people.  You will find you are often no more than 3 degrees removed from anyone else.  The six degrees of separation theory states that every one of us on the planet is separated at most by six people.  LinkedIn makes the concept very real with its little graphic representation.

We are all very closely connected.  If we can develop better ways of leveraging our connections to make things happen, perhaps we can solve some of the seemingly intractable problems in our world.



July 22, 2012

Unlearning

When I first learned to distinguish one type of species of tree from another, my world was altered. It was no longer possible to see a tree and think 'oh, there's a nice tree'.  Instead, my thought was 'oh, there's a nice western red cedar'.

I can't unlearn tree identification. My brain assembles the information and out pops the thought.

Where does this show up in your life?  It might not be trees for you, but something else.  How has your knowledge shaped how you see the world?

July 18, 2012

All the things we make up

I was wandering in a mall yesterday.  I was by myself so I was silent, and that gave me the opportunity to hear what was going on around me.  Snippets of conversations as I walked.
With few exceptions, the conversations were about relationships.  Accounts of interactions between people. Person A telling person B about something that happened with person C.
This in itself did not strike me as unusual.  Our relationships in all areas - work, friendships, family - are critically important to our experience of life. It makes sense that we spend a great deal of time thinking or talking about them.
What did strike me was the degree to which we make things up.  The discussions were about different human interactions, someone recounting a story about who said what to who, or who did what to who.  And, about what they must have meant when they said it or did it.
We assign meaning to everything in our lives.  Then we spend a great deal of time thinking about what we've made up.  Not just thinking about it but believing it, and then we make decisions based on it.

What would it be like if the next time someone does or says something to you that you have a reaction to, you stopped for a moment, and took a breath.  Then, before you make up what you think they meant, you just checked in with them.  Maybe said...'I am assuming that you meant this when you said that.  Did I get that right, or did you mean something different?'

What would that be like?

June 9, 2012

Feeding your mind


I have spent the better part of the past two days at Social Media Camp 2012 here in Victoria. It's a good reminder for me to make the time to go to events that feed my mind. It's been a long time since my last conference. It's easy to be too busy...with work, with family, with life. I satisfy myself with reading books and blogs.

But it is not the same, and it does not replace the kind of energy I get from being in a room of others learning ways we can work to make the world better. Being inspired. Making a list of things to check out or take on. The experience is an important part of staying the course.

If you are interested in Social Media Camp, maybe so you can attend next year, check out the website here: http://socialmediacamp.ca/

February 26, 2012

Maybe say yes

Time passes at a reasonable speed.  Life is full.

When busy, which seems to be always, there isn't enough time to fit in all of the responsibilities.  How can one possibly find time for anything more?  The default is saying no to anything extra, those spontaneous opportunities that pop up, unplanned.  No, I have to work.  No, I have to clean the bathroom. No, I have to pay the bills.  No, I am too tired.

Sometimes, those spontaneous opportunities are where the juiciest experiences are.  The things you will remember when you look back on your year.  A friend from out of town calling with a two hour window for a visit.  A child inviting you to watch a movie.  A beam of sunshine beckoning you to the garden for a peek at what is springing up with the spring.  A dog wistfully eyeing you for a walk.

Are you finding the time to fit in those experiences?  The next time something pops up, unplanned, pause before that word 'no' is spoken, and maybe replace it with a 'yes'.  And see what happens.

January 1, 2012

Reflection - 2011's Year in Review

A year ago, in response to a post by Seth Godin, I wrote a post that reflected back on what I had shipped (Seth's terminology) in 2010...what I made happen or delivered. As we once again transition from one year into another, it's time to take a look back at 2011.

Here's my list for what I shipped or accomplished in 2011...

  • Designed, developed and facilitated a popular and effective curriculum for organizational champions
  • Worked with several professional teams to resolve conflict, increase effectiveness and improve productivity 
  • Collaborated on the design, writing and release of an online customer service curriculum
  • Competed for and was successfully awarded a corporate supply arrangement for developing curriculum and delivering training
  • Competed for and won a spot on a pre-qualified list for the facilitation of citizen engagement initiatives
  • Explored a country I had never been to before, rich in culture and history
  • Experienced Venice and the Cinque Terre
  • Made pasta from scratch with an Italian chef in Florence
  • Tweeted 800 times
  • Published 18 blog posts, several of which were popular with readers, including this one which shared about the potential contribution of non-developer citizens
  • Increased the profile of this blog, nearly doubling the number of unique visitors over the previous year
  • Published 6 issues of the Prosperous Times professional newsletter
  • Helped organize and facilitate 11 open data hackathons for OpenDataBC
  • continued to build and foster relationships with many amazing people
  • Created a home office with capacity for brainstorming, creativity, beauty, warmth, storage and communication
Also, just before the start of 2011, I made a list of intentions for the coming year. Such as wanting to create a home instead of merely a house. Creating calm, gratitude, connections, writing, sharing, fun, stretching outside what's comfortable. And more doing and less second-guessing, checking in with myself more often.

How did I do with my list?  A few gallons of paint, more time, some different furniture and fixtures and my house does feel a lot more like a home.  Over the year, there were many moments to focus on being calm and grateful. Lots of writing. Many opportunities for fun and adventure.  

Along the way, I also dove into many situations that I would have resisted before.  Meeting new people, sharing ideas and perspective, designing ways to contribute to projects, rather than waiting for projects to find me. The second-guessing voice was silenced with less effort.

It can be easy to stay looking forward, and not pause to reflect on what you've made happen. Now might be a good time for you to take a moment to reflect and celebrate what you accomplished or shipped in 2011. And share it, with family, friends, or maybe here on this blog. And, take a few moments to think about what you intend for 2012. 
 
I, too, will be thinking about what to create in 2012 over the next few days and will post it here.