From my family to yours, hope you have a wonderful holiday season and much health, happiness and abundance in 2015!
One of my early careers was a high school English teacher. Back in 1984, some of the things I was doing really rattled the older teachers. I wanted my students to enjoy and live the importance of the subject, not just tolerate it. So I created English projects, and encouraged students to engage more than just their heads.
The most memorable project came from a group of three grade 12 English boys who were not great students in the traditional sense. They were in the “vocational” stream. They struggled with the traditional school format and were learners who needed to engage in a different way. We were studying Death of a Salesman, and they wrote and performed a song about Willy Loman. I was blown away. They provided a more insightful analysis of Loman than any of my “academic” students. I was so proud of them and even back then questioned the impact of splitting students into the academic and vocational streams.
So it was with fascination that I listened to the TEDx Victoria talk by Jeff Hopkins on Education in the New Century because he is calling for the same thing, some 30 years later. I loved his talk and his passion. We need educators like him to transform our educational systems. He suggested we need to shift to knowing from knowing about. I would suggest we need to shift to living from knowing about. Engaging our youth holistically in things that matter to them seems infinitely more exciting and meaningful than “teaching” English or Math.
Dave and I were very excited to play a small role in sponsoring TEDx Victoria this year, and I decided to challenge myself to do some live sketch noting, a real STRETCH for me as I typically take hours to think about and then do a drawing! I will be sharing the more intelligible ones over the next little while … be gentle with me 😉
As someone who has navigated the complex waters of doctoral research, the notion of what constitutes “legitimate” knowledge fascinates me and so I was very intrigued by Garry Gray’s TEDx Victoria talk last week, the Ethics of Knowledge. That there is researcher bias is probably no surprise, but the extent to which scientists adapt their methods to ensure they receive funding might be. Subtle changes in how a question is asked keeps funders happy but can greatly influence research outcomes.
The most striking example Garry gave was that 100% of the research into BPAs in water bottles funded by those with a vested interest concluded there were no harmful side effects. The pharmaceutical industry is rife with examples like this. He suggested that good people are led into this sort of corruption of knowledge because of this funder bias. Maintaining independence as a researcher is critical. As consumers of knowledge, we must ask critical questions about not just how research is conducted, but also from where the resources for said research came.
I’ve been reflecting on how my creativity has shifted these past few years and have realized that, while the medium upon which I have relied most has not changed, I have started to develop more confidence in other mediums.
As an ex high school English teacher, my medium is words, and my creativity with words showed up early in a university paper called “The Care and Feeding of your Pet Student Teacher” where I was supposed to write academically about the pedagogy of teaching. I didn’t but my prof did comment that it was the most interesting paper she’d ever read and that she guessed I had met the objectives of the assignment. Grade B. Creativity A (if there had been a grade for creativity!)
It continued with my PhD dissertation where I used poetry, fiction, email conversations, and dramatizations to write up my research. Fortunately I had a committee who liked me and embraced the “originality” part of doing a PhD. Many have told me that I was lucky I actually passed … and perhaps I was. I will leave the idea of imposter syndrome for another blog as I often joke that just after I got my PhD I thought the university would change their mind and take it back 😉
I digress … Creativity is expressed in many ways and when Dave and I started doing creativity workshops about 6 or 7 years ago, we wanted to find a way to capture the various skills involved in it, based both on our own experience and what we were seeing in the research. Back then, there were a few books. Today there are dozens (read my past blogs and look forward to more). We are encouraged that recent research is still in line with the model we developed years ago. We have not blogged about our model so here it is:
C – tame your critic. First and foremost this needs to happen. We cannot create if we believe we can’t. What I have learned lately is that I CAN create beyond words. I CAN create visually (my blog drawings) and I CAN make stuff (jewellery!). That is very exciting and empowering. Secondly, though, we need to ignore those external critics. Sometimes the people closest to us offer the most critique as they have the most to lose if we create. For more on this, read Hugh McLeod’s Ignore Everybody book. We need to believe in ourselves and be willing to …
Risk – creative people take risks. They need to be willing to lose face, look silly, be laughed at, even fail. In fact, behind the “success” of creative people is probably some failure and Tom Kelley would suggest we need to fail often to succeed sooner. I find this concept tough. I don’t like to fail but I still risk. People have asked me how I risked so much when it came to my PhD. I honestly couldn’t have done it any other way without selling my soul. So I trusted that no matter what happened I would find my way through it.
Energy – creative people find their groove, their flow, their happy place where they lose time and just create. We need to notice when and where we do our creative work and shift our energy accordingly. For me, it’s usually getting away from my desk, going for a walk, or just shifting my focus to something else. This relates very closely to coming up with
Alternatives – creative people generate more ideas and think differently about how to meet goals. They look for inspiration from people who are very different from them and are good at asking “why not?” Or “what if?” When I’m designing workshops (which is another medium for my creativity), I often challenge myself to come up with unusual ways to deliver content. Generating alternatives takes …
Time – creative people devote time and space to their creativity. They give themselves permission to explore things that aren’t “productive ” but that feed their souls or expose them to others who inspire them. At the end of the day, our creativity relates to our passions and we need to give them as much importance as “getting things done.” The flip side of taking time is ensuring that we ultimately
Execute – at some point our ideas need to move to action. Creative people understand and deal with procrastination. What I have learned is to take one step towards my idea, as opposed to needing to figure it all out before I do anything. I can get overwhelmed by the enormity of a creative pursuit I envision and so allowing myself to figure it out as I go along has meant I actually have done something with my ideas.
Well, this is a longer post than usual! If you are curious at all about exploring and developing your own creativity, get in touch about our creativity workshops and, if you are local, get yourself to the Victoria BCHRMA Xmas mingle and bid on our creativity workshop silent auction! We are also speaking about creativity at the annual BCHRMA Conference in April in Vancouver and are very excited to be developing a graduate certificate in workplace innovation at Royal Roads University.
That people join companies and leave bosses is a saying still relevant today. Almost everyone has a story of a bad boss and I am no exception. A good number of my individual and team coaching clients have a bad boss lingering around in their heads, something I wrote about back in January.
For some, the idea of forgiving your boss might be ridiculous. The boss has the power, he or she has done the wrong and you have to do the work of forgiveness??? Yes … that is what I am suggesting and after much reflection, research and conversation with friends and colleagues, I have created a free 7 day email course on just that topic starting June 23 … How to Forgive your Boss. In it we will explore the 5 steps to forgiving your boss that have emerged for me:
- P – Price you pay – That you pay a price for working for a boss who’s done you wrong might seem like an obvious statement and it is. The other, less obvious, meaning is the price you pay for not forgiving a boss who’s done you wrong.
- O – Own your story – Unless we learn how to forgive our bosses, we are doomed to living out a “story” of unhealthy patterns that disempower us and leave us feeling like victims.
- W – Widen your view – We often see only a portion of the organizational complexity in which our bosses work. Our bosses are often dealing with situations, structures and people that exert a huge influence on how they behave and the decisions they make. This also applies to the wider view of their lives … we may not know the other general life complexities of our bosses.
- E – Embrace frailty – We project a lot of “ideals” on bosses and then are disappointed that they show up as human beings. We need to embrace human frailty, our own and that of our bosses.
- R – Release baggage – A large part of forgiveness is releasing negative emotions and thoughts and the idea that the past could have been different. This allows us to reclaim our own power and live more fully in the present.
Interested? Then sign up here and join me in a most interesting and powerful exploration of forgiveness! You can expect stories, visuals and provocative activities to help you reclaim your power. (And don’t worry if you are busy the week of June 23. You can save the emails and complete when it suits you.)
As an ex-English teacher, I am a huge fan of stories and storytelling. In fact, the name of our company, Calliope Learning, comes from Greek mythology. Callope was the muse of epic poetry, those big grand sweeping, usually tragic stories 🙂
And so combining my love of stories with my recent love of visuals produces something exciting for me. I was very pleased to sit in on Deborah LeFrank’s Visual Life Stories session held at the Victoria Executive Centre last Thursday. Deborah’s talk and actual examples of visual life stories was inspiring and energizing. I love how she is using this process not only to help individuals capture their life story, but also to help organizations tell their story. To me, this is a powerful way of capturing your culture and brand, and helping your customers connect to it. Can you imagine how we would engage people if our annual reports were a visual story?
We had the privilege and honour of working with the Men’s Trauma Centre as part of our once-a-quarter initiative this past Saturday. We thoroughly enjoyed working with them, learned a lot and were inspired by what they created in only 6 hours! We continue to be impressed by multi-stakeholder strategic planning visual processes and the creativity, investment, and energy that is unleashed. One participant stated at the end of the session that while she had been committed coming in, she now had a much better understanding of what faces them, and is completely invested, engaged and excited to make things happen. Now that’s what we all need more of. The next time you find yourself inviting “executives” only to a planning session, think again and get in touch with us about how to use these engaging and innovative processes in your organization!
I was going to prepare a thoughtful and reflective holiday season blog, but alas I got knocked on my butt by a horrible bug. It’s been 5 days and I may have the energy today to get dressed 😉 Suffice to say, nothing I had planned for this holiday season (including important client work) will get done. Ah well, no doubt there is learning there for me which I WILL blog about for the new year.
All the best to you this holiday season, and thanks for all of your support on this new endeavour of mine. Keep healthy, remember what’s important and let the rest go …
Well it has been some time since I blogged. What can I say? The NOW of sunshine, long evenings, festivals, traveling, wine tours, walks, picnics, baseball games, etc, etc has definitely pulled me from my computer!!! Blogging has become a tomorrow that has rarely come. And perhaps that’s ok. I’m learning to give myself a break, especially in the most hedonistic of seasons, summer. What is your summer looking like? Are you giving yourself a break?
We have had some real travel challenges in the last few weeks. While a lot of them are beyond the control of any airline, how they choose to respond reveals much about their corporate culture. At the risk of future retribution, Air Canada, you kinda suck. Outside of one flight attendant and 2 gate attendants who went out of their way to help us get on our London flight (thus saving us 24 hours more travel and much money), the rest of you seemed to be following rules that made no sense and/or just didn’t give a hoot. And that is the difference between a rules versus values based culture. Thanks goodness for those 3 people who obviously valued their customers, broke “culture” and helped us out!