Saturday, January 24, 2009


I was going to share my grandiose and well thought out List to Live By, but the last point on my list is all about NOT living by lists so thought it foolish to post, hence a one week hiatus in posting anything and the question, are blogs worthwhile? There’s an index of blogs, whatever you want it’s out there, there are sarcastic bloggers, serious ones, creative, provocative, you name it there’s someone posting something on it…there are no new ideas.

I had a friend who wrote his Masters thesis in philosophy around the idea of just that, no idea is a new one. His wife, my very good friend, was so tired of hearing him talk about his theories and how the great thinkers of the world; Plato, Socrates, surmised that all the ideas and theories were present, had the beginnings, or had been reshaped and revamped, she refused to talk with him until it was finished because it dragged on and on and on. Anything anyone comes up with has already been ‘thought about’ by someone else. Not new!

Today, I captured my innovative, creative self and vanished from the picture. When you’re thinking about something, so are others. Likely what you’ve been incubating, nurturing, creating in your mad scientist lab in the basement, is already being stimulated, actioned, and played with in other circles, parts of the globe, and minds. Ahhh, vanish the ego and create the connections. Is it that simple? First some good food and a little wine to stimulate the brain. Okay a brisk walk in -20 degree weather and sleep. Now back to the dialogue.

Case in point. A couple of years ago I taught a leadership class and used values cards as a way for people to connect with their values and to encourage living and breathing their own personal values. I’ve used the idea numerous times and in various ways. The idea is to write out your top 3 to 5 values on a recipe card, carry it with you, change and update it as you move through your life. On the other side write out 3 to 5 goals and combine the two to refresh and enhance your actions with your inner motivations. I still do this from time to time and have a couple of old values cards kicking around my wallet to remind me, kick start me, challenge what I’m doing on an every day basis. Just this morning I read an article by two friends and colleagues who are using a values card idea to help others connect with their values. For an instant I felt ownership over the idea, but laughed as I sat to write this, that’s exactly it. They’ve got a great spin on the same idea and have generated more thought on my part as to how it can be put into practice. I’m sure there are many of us using a similar exercise.

Sure we’re innovative, creative thinkers who learn from those who have been before us (do we really learn from the past? That’s gotta be another discussion), it’s about highlighting the synergies that are taking place right under our noses. It’s about expanding our view, the playing field, the precision of our ear, our ability to soak in what’s around us, massage it and generate excitement and movement as a result. This is the surface for further thought, pick out the red and mix it with other colors to see a different result each and every moment. Go beyond the emergent colours to analyse, synthesize and embody revolution.

Later my friends,

Sunday, January 11, 2009

I didn’t ask

I went to a faculty development workshop today and was asked what questions I had or wanted answered. I really couldn’t think of anything that I wanted answered. Odd for a couple of reasons, I usually have lots of questions and that’s what I usually do, I ask the questions. Upon reflection, my mind was blocked, I thought, “I know all this stuff” and I wasn’t prepared to ask about something I thought I knew, even though deep down I know I have much to learn.

I reminded myself why I was attending the session; to connect, to learn about connecting, to meet others and connect with faculty development people, see what they were doing to give new instructors resources to be more successful and a better understanding of teaching. I didn’t think my reasons for being there were related to the content of what they were sharing. I struggled and wrote down, “How can I connect better with students?” but didn’t hand it in. Likely because I thought I connect pretty well with students and didn’t need to learn more about it so it wasn’t really something I wanted answered. I figured I knew the answer, it wouldn’t have been authentic for me to ask and I couldn’t think of anything else. Tells me something right there!

Sure I connected with others, made some inroads with the faculty development people and got a better understanding of what they offered. Still, the day fell flat because I wasn’t open to learn and I didn’t ask the question I’m most passionate about, how can we connect more deeply with others. The lessons are reminders for me (ego), myself and I:

1. My Tae Kwon Do Master said that you only start understanding Tae Kwon Do when you get your Black Belt. Similarly, when you think you know something, you likely have just begun to understand and uncover its truth so continue to study and explore, train and listen.

2. If you find yourself in a situation that you usually put others in (i.e. asking the questions), pay attention to how you feel, what you’re thinking and how you react. Walk for awhile in those shoes because they have the potential to create new patterns.

3. Intention can be pure, but actions deliver the outcome. Connect your actions and intentions by consciously preparing upfront for your desired outcome.

Visit to find out what we are doing to revolutionize learning, develop leadership and explore innovation through collaboration. Continuing to learn!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Real Work

I came across this great book called “Presence: An exploration of profound change in people, organizations, and society” by Peter Senge, Otto Scharmer, Joseph Jaworski and Betty Sue Flowers. Betty Sue, isn’t that a great southern name.

The book I picked up was well-read with corners turned, and a note stuck in page 35. I borrowed it from the public library, it’s amazing the resources you can get for $12 a year. I read the pages that were ear marked from back to front (there are researchers that have studied reading magazines back to front –they’re the ones who’ve have had at least seven jobs in the past four months and drank way too much Red Bull, front to back -accountants, and random readers -randomreadererectus) and was brought to a deeper level of thought. One of the premises is that we go through a pattern of thinking, then reactive learning happens and doing which doesn’t lead to much more than surface iterations of change or continuation of patterns. By continuing in this stream we’re unable to integrate the parts with the whole. Otto talks about the U Theory and how we most often react rather than take the time to step back and really move to a deeper level of learning to process and act differently in similar situations. Not a really new concept.

The authors talk about “presence” where the whole is entirely present in any of its parts. They found that by encouraging deeper levels of learning we are able to see the larger whole and take action to shape future evolution rather than staying in old patterns of seeing and acting. Makes sense right? How many of us are moving beyond and changing patterns, we may try something new and then due to the ‘whole’ stray back into the false patterns that face us due to our circumstance.

I think of my ‘real work’ when out traveling the world, searching for and creating new patterns of being and how that is the future of new. Or perhaps it WAS and now deeper connections are emerging as a result of the whole. How can I truly move beyond what I know?

I checked out the website for the Society for Organizational Learning, which focuses on building knowledge for systemic change. Senge reflects on his experience with a mentor who continually reminded him of the importance of the culture, “the ethos of the enterprise as a whole.” The Ethos of the organization is “the frontier”. The core purpose, practical know how and results are vital but the deeper learning is in attention to relationships, are people are enjoying learning together? If not, the ‘organization’ will struggle. This is the real work, this is the whole.