Monday, March 23, 2009

Talk to Yourself Out Loud, Outside and Often

It all started when I walked outside and saw the murals on the chain link fence across the street. They’re new, big pictures of trees, streams and wildlife. One has a cityscape on it and there are clouds floating in between the panels. They reflect our city and have a larger impact than what the creators may have expected. I’ll likely visit the principal and tell her how much I appreciate the children’s artwork that now decorates our neighbourhood and hearing the kids playing at recess. Our neighbourhood is filled with energy because of the school, children, teachers, activities and creativity they share. I stand outside and talk to myself out loud, smiling and asking questions into the blue sky.

Have a look around, what’s right in front of you that you connect with or may be overlooking? Listen to the landscape and sounds you’re surrounded by. We may all listen to our inside voice; positive, analytical, critical whatever it may be, we most often hear the chatter inside our head. What about your outside voice? Talking out loud to ourselves in public is often linked with mental illness. Call me crazy but talk to yourself out loud and outside because it’s not necessarily due to a chemical imbalance, it’s freeing. We all do it, it gives us another perspective. It adds another dimension to our thoughts.

I find interesting ideas, get unstuck moments, and clarity when I’m outside and talking to myself out loud. Talking out loud helps solve tough problems even, as a fellow out loud talker put it, “it seems like the things I'm most likely to say out loud are the key phrases.” Talking out loud helps in preparation for marketing pitches, difficult discussions, and to decipher complex situations.

You may talk to yourself out loud more when you’re by yourself so why not in public? Social stigma, self-consciousness, many things hold us back from opportunities. Whatever the reason here are a few tips on talking to yourself out loud and outside:

1. First of all the outside part. Start in your own backyard or on your balcony. If you don’t have either open the window, stick your head outside and start talking. It’s similar to stream of consciousness writing that many writers, creativity gurus and reflection specialists tout as being a great way to bolster creativity. Start talking.

2. How long? Start with a minute working your way up to 3-5. You’ll likely find yourself moving from your outside voice to your inside voice, consciously move back again. Talk yourself through the silence, you never know what you’ll come up with.

3. Once you’ve mastered the backyard talk, try it when you’re walking to your destination, could be on the way to your vehicle, on your daily walk or it could be during your daily commute. If you ride transit you may want to start with a cell phone up to your ear so that you won’t get the, well I guess you may still get a funny look because I usually don’t appreciate the loud cell phone talkers in public spaces. Watch your volume.

4. To get the full benefit, build a ritual with your outside, out loud talk. If it’s first thing in the morning, at lunch, driving home or in the evening, decide when you’ll integrate this into your daily routine. It’s a talk out loud break. Making it a daily occurrence gives you an opportunity each day to open a space for something new to emerge, solutions to build and creative connections to happen. Ya it might sound a bit nutty but give it a go.

5. Rocket science it is not, after sharing an idea, a piece of artwork, or a plan we ask others what they think. We want their opinion. Continue to ask and continue to share what you think out loud and move to an outside space. Being outside adds another perspective, it may take you to fresh insights. Moving outside expands your sense of space, seeing more than 4 walls or inside places changes your brain patterns helping you to connect and utilize both hemispheres.

6. Be alert to the next person you SEE thinking and ask what they’re thinking. It’s like showing your work on paper, this is your thought process on how you arrive at your idea. Sharing it involves others in the way you develop and arrive at your ideas. It provides others an opportunity to build on what you’re thinking.

7. This open sharing of thought inspires your inner thoughts to be more congruent with your outer actions, it’s a space for creative idea generation, a method to build solutions, it builds connections as well. When you share your process the motivation is exposed and exposing your motivation will build trust. Give it a try.

8. Share your inspiration and celebrate with others you catch talking out loud. Encourage others to grow through talking out loud, outside. You might inspire others who hear your discussion. More than once I’ve relayed a conversation overheard between 2 people or 1 person when in discussion with themselves. Everything we do has impacts that are greater than what we might expect.

Consciously talk to yourself out loud and outside.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

On Being a Cat

Find that slice of sunlight that streams in your window and curl up.
Create a cat bed that captures warmth is surrounded by plants and aches for a warm, purring body to curl up in it. Use it regularly for your cat naps.

5 minutes in the sun does wonders for creating, solving, relaxing and enjoying. Research has shown that our best ideas and solutions come when our brains are relaxed, bodies are in a state of flow, or exhaustion during that great morning run you regularly meditate through.

Follow the sun around your house, office or yard as you create your experiences every day.
Take 5 every day to BE a cat.

Even if you hate cats, try it.

Cats have no lack of self-confidence or personality.
They’re not shy about craving attention
Or about being by themselves.
Cats relish their surroundings, prance proudly.
Play with others, not always so empathetically, especially if you’re the mouse that’s been captured. But they play. They create their own fun and have fun with others.

Cats are simple and complex.

Cat's Eye Nebula (Wikipedia, March 15, 2009)
Structurally, one of the most complex nebulae known, observations reveal remarkable structures such as knots, jets and sinewy arc-like features.
It was discovered by William Herschel on February 15, 1786.
Modern studies reveal several mysteries. The intricacy of the structure may be caused in part by material ejected from a binary central star, but as yet, there is no direct evidence that the central star has a companion. Also, measurements of chemical abundances reveal a large discrepancy between measurements done by two different methods, the cause of which is uncertain.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Connecting with an amazing group of students

I get to be inspired each and every week in learning more about community development. For three hours a week I take time from working with other professionals, communities and entrepreneurs who are living their dreams or are poking their noses forward to sniff what those dreams might be and work with an amazing group of students. I’m lucky. These people have shared their learning, unease, questions and ideas through our weekly sessions.

At the end of every couple of sessions they reflect on their experience, reveal their concerns and moments of inspiration and I have the privilege of gaining insight into their lives just a touch more.

When I was asked to teach Community Development I thought it to be a great opportunity to explore a new way of building community. We decided to walk through this experience together as a community. Together we developed the outcomes for the course, the assignments and the overall course outline.

First was to open an opportunity to create our learning experience as something that would push beyond understanding community development and move to a place where we were actually living it. Some were onboard from the start, others wanted to be taught. So began the journey of community development.

We started building relationships. From finding out more about each other, to deciding what we wanted our time to look like, we started an evolution of education. I aim to revolutionize learning, to expand understanding of, create opportunities and spaces to heighten wisdom. I strive to develop leadership through innovative collaboration. With that comes framing opportunities and building cohesion together with those I'm with.

These students are entrepreneurs, friends, children, brothers, sisters, sport leaders and team players. Each belong to diverse communities from across the country, belong to golf, karate, mixed martial arts and music groups, dance, volunteering, hockey and many more. There are many ways to thrive and achieve. Resorting to traditional thought, structure and process often builds a great divide between expectations.

Outlining our expectations of each other was important for us to create a base for moving forward. Respect was number one, no surprises/communication and being fully committed in each and every session topped our list. Challenging ideas, information and process as we sculpted our David was encouraged.

Now, more than half way through the term, concerns over marks and projects are at the forefront. We agreed that both students and I would evaluate including comments as to why. We discuss and come to agreement on grades. Sure some may take advantage, others embrace the design as necessary reflection to amplify learning and become exceptional. And exceptional they are. It’s difficult for a number of people because of uncertainty. Sharing self-evaluation means laying your cards on the table, trusting. This discomfort is common.

Some people are more objective than others, some harder on themselves, some defensive, some don’t trust, others just don’t care or have other priorities. Admitting shortcomings, even those that begin with great intentions, is refreshing and thorny. Celebration is rejuvenating nonetheless forgotten. Trust is straightforward, open and exposed, still may be complicated.

I work with an amazing group of students who teach me through their words, written comments, presence, smiles, sighs, chatter, wisdom, challenge and private gatherings. This remarkable group of students has connected with other students, groups, and organizations. They will continue to shape my lifework as I connect, build relationships, community and company. This extraordinary group of people is an anthology of amazing individuals with whom I’ll continue to connect and connect with. I am lucky and humbled by the amazing.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Study Finds Exercise Advertisements Prompt People to Eat

The following excerpt came in a feed from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. It may not be rocket science but definitely provides evidence of what we know intuitively - that there are residual impacts of our actions/words/media, etc.

Study Finds Exercise Advertisements Prompt People to Eat
Mar 3, 2009

A study published online in the journal Obesity suggests that campaigns created to promote exercise might actually cause people to eat more, United Press International reports. According to researchers at the University of Illinois at Champagne-Urbana, viewers who were exposed to print advertisements featuring messages such as "join a gym" or "take a walk" ate one-third more than people who observed signage featuring messages such as "make friends" or "be in a group." Moreover, individuals who were exposed to subliminal messages about physical activity while completing a simple computer task ate 20 percent more than those exposed to neutral words. The study builds on research conducted by the university that suggested general messages promoting activity can prompt behavior changes, some of which are negative. In light of such findings, the study's lead author suggests that those creating public health campaigns be aware that "whatever they communicate is likely to influence not only the behavior they had in mind but other behaviors that might be somewhat remotely linked." (UPI, 2/27/09; University of Illinois at Champagne-Urbana release, 2/27/09; Albarracin et al., Obesity, 2/26/09 [subscription required]

Connections can be made in working with communities, relationship building, public presence and impact:

- the importance of words (sometimes we get hooked on them but they are impactful)
- intentions may be good and directed towards getting people 'moving' but may result in unintended outcomes
- the importance of how media campaigns are presented and perceived
- using research to substantiate and improve our actions/methods
and more

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Three ducks

Standing outside, the church bells chime, three ducks fly by.
Odd to see three ducks fly by, at this time, in the brisk Canadian sky.
March 1st and the Ides of March draw near.

Are they out of their element? Maybe leaders, maybe lost.

Inspiration of what’s to come, reflection on what has been spin, churn, whirl.
Rocking chair, stories shared, bring back the living room, powerful emotion, connection and hope of what’s to come.
Three ducks fly west. Are they going to or coming from, searching for or following the rest?

The Ides Of March ~ SILVERSTEIN
Tie me up with sheets, and hang me from your tree
I'll stay out here all night, it doesn't even matter
As long as I can see, into your room and feel
Like I'm inside your life, I'll follow you forever

Don't cut me down just yet, I'll make things right again
Don't close your blinds on me, on me...

I will never recover from this
I will never believe in this again
And I can never go back to the way I used to be before this started

The snow won't go away, My nose runs down my face
No one sees me here, It doesn't even matter
And every step I take, I stay in the same place
I can't begin to start again why can't I just be perfect?

I will never recover from this
I will never believe in this again
I can never go back to the way I used to be before this started

I will never recover from this
I will never believe in this again
I can never go back to the way I used to be before this started

You see my ghost and you'll never forget it
My face is as white as the snow that haunts me
Your windows my door and nothing can stop me
Sometimes betrayal can make you happy

Don't cut me down just yet, I'll make things right again
Don't close your blinds on me, on me...

I will never recover from this
I will never believe in this again
I can never go back to the way I used to be before this started

I will never recover from this
I will never believe in this again
I can never go back to the way I used to be before this started