Why Personal Change Planning?



I wanted to share with you why I’m focusing more on the personal, particularly in my practice, but also in the book. I think real change, especially when we’re looking at organizational change, especially if we’re looking at societal change needs to start in ourselves and then the next place it goes is in our interactions with others, the one on one interactions. It’s tough to interact in healthy ways, especially if someone’s angering you. If you’re tired, if you’re hungry, if you’re hangry, which is one of my favorite terms. If you’re overwhelmed, overstressed and a lot of the onus is put on us and I don’t know about you, but it strikes me that there’s a lot on our plate.

I’m going to speak for myself. Sometimes I feel like a failure because I’m not reacting very well to the crazy that’s going on out there. And it strikes me that maybe being angry and depressed is a really, really good reaction (and not unhealthy) to what we’re seeing in our organizations, what we’re seeing in the world and how we’re interacting with each other.

So I focused on personal because I think we’re in an environment that’s incredibly destabilizing and it’s made worse by our foundations being undermined. When I look at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs – at the bottom of it is physiology, the second level of that is a safety and security. When I was looking at the research, (and I will eventually share all this research with you, maybe just remind me, I’ll have to put it in the back of this video or as a separate. I think we’ll do it as a separate video.) People are not sleeping well. People are burned out and disengaged. Even if they are highly engaged, one out of five people are burned out. We’re not eating well. Even those of us who are trying to eat healthy, there’s a lot of questions about what’s going on with our food and water supply.

Then if you look at safety and security, the Gig economy is growing. There’s a lot more contractors. Layoffs, are a lot more common as businesses try to right-size or whatever it is that a lot of organizations are trying to do. Fundamentally, and in a lot of places people are treated like cogs in a machine and resources. It’s a very, very old model and it’s very dehumanizing and people sense that even if you try to paint a pretty picture around it. With pretty terms around, “we value our people.” That’s a whole ‘nother kettle of fish. This is what we’re working with. So the way I see it, it behooves us individually to get ourselves right and then make sure that when we interact with others that we’re doing so as best as we can on any given day from a place of respect.

It’s easier to do that if we’re sleeping well, if we’re well nourished, than if we’re not. What I’d like to do is perform an experiment and I’d love your comments. This is more of an observational exercise. Take a look this week at the days where you’ve slept well, things are going well, you’re in a decent mood, and just observe how you interact with others. Especially when someone’s giving you bad news or they’re being aggravating.

Do the same thing on days where you haven’t slept well and things aren’t going your way. You’re running around meeting to meeting to meeting, eating junk food. Maybe someone brought a cake. How are you interacting with others? Where’s your hair trigger? Just for the week. I think if you experienced that and just kind of do observation, you might be surprised by what you find. I think it’s really good baseline too.

That’s why I’m focused very much on personal change planning because I think, too, that if you’re able to experience what successful change looks like on a very personal level and particularly as you look at how that change impacts other people. And how that impacts your interactions with other people. That applies to organizational change management because at the end of the day, an organization is a group of people and each one of those people, is an individual. They are not cogs in the machine. They’re not toys that you mess within your system and hope it works well.

That’s my invitation to you. I hope this helps. Please write your comments, your observations, um, and any feedback on this video at the, in the comments area, either here or on the blog or wherever you happen to be encountering this video. Thank you so much for your help and support. I hope you found this valuable.
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How to Measure the Life Impact of a Change

Transcript (edited from Temi.com)

Like most coaches, we’re going to work with the wheel of life.

There’s going to be a couple of key differences though between how you and I are going to work together with this versus other coaches.

First – I wanted to make sure you could see how whatever area you’re focusing on impacts the other areas of your life because it’s going to impact other areas of your life.

What we’re going to do is work together to define how you see the areas of your life. We’ll start with this rough template.

We’re going to wind up ultimately with between five and 10 areas. Then, we’re going to work together to define which area you’re going to focus on for the 12 weeks and also which area we need to keep an eye on to make sure that it at least stays stable. We don’t want that area impacted.

For instance, over the past three months, I’ve been working on putting together this coaching practice, so I’ve been very focused in this work and education area. It was important to me to not impact my relationships negatively. So the area I’m keeping an eye on is relationships.

I’m not working to improve them necessarily. I just don’t want them to get any worse. Thankfully I’ve got really solid relationships with my family and friends. I’m very grateful for that. Work and education has been my area of focus. Relationship is the thing I’m keeping an eye on to make sure that’s not negatively impacted, and then these other areas are going to improve or decrease depending on whatever else is happening. In the health and appearance area, my workout regimen hasn’t been terribly consistent because I’ve been spending more time on work and education.

These things happen. If you’re focusing on one area, other areas are going to be impacted. Hopefully not negatively, but that is a risk. You need to decide what you’re willing to tolerate. We’re going to make sure that all of that is very clear during the course of our engagement.

The other thing that we’re going to be keeping an eye on (and I’m going to click on this progress tab) is any trends because what we don’t want to have happen is, “I’ve been focusing on work to the complete detriment of my health and appearance.” You don’t want to go from a level four to level one, so we want to keep an eye on that.

I think by using a dashboard, it’s going to be easier for both of us to really see what’s going on. We can see trends and whether things are trending up or down. Also, we can see what the current overall changes are in the averages. This is one of the tools that we’ll be working with in the coaching practice. I hope this helps.

I have some free resources available that you may find useful. Each button will send you to a video and supporting PDF after requesting your email. Check “I would like to receive future communications” if you would also like to subscribe to my newsletter.

If you are looking for a safe space to practice new skills and you would like some help defining and creating a plan to implement important changes to the way you work or your career – go to http://middlecurve.com/coaching/  .

Video: An Example of Experiential Intent

(Transcript – edited to remove some of the verbal tics)

I wanted to talk a little further about this notion of experiential intent.

As I look at this experience and the decision making that went into my trip, you know, I had mentioned before that I did time calculations I could have gone to the airport and flown between DC and Toronto.

There was another component to it as well when I did some decision making and that was …what was the experience I want to have in the process of this trip?

Now, if I were trying to maximize my productivity time or I needed to maximize my productivity time, then the airport and the airline experience … absolutely doable and absolutely possible and a really good option.

You know, I could sit down, I can work on my computer, I know I’ll have Wifi, I know I’ll have cell signal. I know that there’s food around.

Thankfully, for this particular trip, I had a different intent in mind.

One was to relax a little more.

Two was to be able to see more of the country. Right now I’m here in Erie, Pennsylvania. This is a section of the country. I’ve never been to before.

And then the third thing was to change up my inputs a little bit, so instead of staring at a screen or staring at a book, I’m staring at nature and whether there are ideas that I can pull from just sitting here on this lovely beach we’re at right now that is fairly empty because I’m very fortunate enough to be here on a weekday.

So by determining experiential intent, it helps guide decision making during the planning process.

It also helps guide decision making during the actual execution, much like your why.

Hope this helps and talk to you soon.

On Time, Resources and the Desired Experience

Sitting by a tree in Myersville, MD talking about trip/project planning.

Now that I am back home, here are the actual numbers:

If I went by plane (one way):

  • 1.5 hours for the actual flight between DC and Toronto
  • Take taxi to airport (anywhere between 30 minutes and 2 hours – dependent upon DC traffic)
  • Arrive at the airport at least 3 hours before the flight
  • Pick up luggage and rental car – about 1 hour
  • Get to destination in Southern Ontario – 2 hours
  • Total travel time – 8 – 9 hours

Going by car (one way direct to final destination):

  • 10 hours, including stops.

Then there is the experience in a car vs. the plane:

  • I don’t have to worry so much about packing toiletries
  • My seat is significantly more comfortable
  • I can listen to whatever I want without getting interrupted
  • I am free to stop whenever I want
  • I am not disturbing anyone or climbing over people to use the bathroom
  • Even with gas prices, food, and wear and tear on my car – the car is significantly cheaper.

Fundamentally – I spent 1-2 extra hours for significantly more satisfaction and happiness.  I think that’s a great ROI.

Really, the only “disadvantage” of driving myself places is that I am not able to work (or at least do stuff in front of my computer).  Honestly, I don’t see “not being able to work in front of a computer” as a disadvantage.  I managed to get a lot of work done during my road trip – the videos are my evidence 			</div><!-- .entry-content -->
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Allow the Gap

I’ve learned over the years that when my calendar looks suspiciously empty, something is up.

The smartest thing I’ve done in awhile was to not try to fill the space myself.  Allow the emptiness.

Let the time fill itself up as it needs to.

This time gap, it turned out, filled itself with the need to create space to be with family.

Both my family of birth and my family of choice.

I’m fortunate to be surrounded by people that I care enough about to miss when they are gone.

I’m fortunate to be surrounded by people that I want to be with as we grieve together.

I’m fortunate to have clients who understand and are willing to provide me with some space as I sit with family and friends as the generations transition.

Thank you.

In all of the noise and the quest to be busy and productive – creating space for things to happen may be the most important thing we do.

The quickest way to create space is to not fill up the new found time.

Allow for serendipity.  Allow things to just happen.

Sit for a bit. Enjoy that bit of quiet.

Ultimately, the stuff that needs to get done will get done when it needs to get done.

This past month was a good reminder.

The relationships I have and build are infinitely more important than any deadline or to-do list.

Thoughts on Priorities

Picture of Barbara Rouse

I’m writing this in a hotel room outside Cocoa, Florida.  Mom and I drove 16+ hours (not all at once, thankfully) so we could be with family and mourn my Aunt Barbara’s passing. This was one of the sudden ones and, for me, it wasn’t until the funeral that I realized that she was gone.

She was the most elegant woman I knew and an incredibly welcoming and accepting person – curious about my adventures and encouraging me to be my best self (even if that meant dragging me to the Merle Norman to get my eyebrows waxed).

I am blessed to have the vast majority of my family members as part of my tribe and people I look forward to seeing.

It’s important to me to be able to drop everything and be able to be present (to the best of my ability) for the family.  I’m doing my best to structure my business and my life to allow that level of flex and presence.

This is what the personal “why” is about.

Dropping my work plans was a no-brainer against that metric.

Does it sometimes feel like I “should” be doing something else?  Yup.  There are so many messages telling us we must “grind” and “hustle.”  Sometimes, that all has to stop for more important things.

Like being in the car for Mom as she drives down I-95, somewhat shell-shocked that her elegant, graceful older sister is gone.

Like sitting on the seawall reeling in another catfish from the backyard while letting a cousin talk it out.

Like listening to another cousin as he tries to project manage all the things that need to happen in and amongst shock and grief and unknown resources.

Like catching up with cousins and second-cousins I almost never see – save for weddings, funerals, and important events.

Am I late with newsletters and posts? Yup.

Am I behind on my launches and sales and marketing? Yup.

Will I regret coming down to Florida, spending quality time with my Mother, and adding more memories to the extended family file?  Absolutely not.

Rest in peace, Barbara.  And thank you so much for all of your love.

May I age as gracefully as you and develop even half of your grace and elegance.

So How’s That Working For Ya?

The dreaded question.

Anyone who has spent time with business coaches has heard this one.

It comes out when the coach has identified one of your blind spots.

A pattern of behavior that isn’t working.

And you don’t see it. OR you are holding onto it for dear life because it is familiar.

I hated it when Matt asked me that question.  “So how’s that working for ya?”

Got me. (internal shame spiral because I think I should know better)

Now what?

I think he asked me “So how’s that working for ya?” at least once per session during our coaching engagements together.

As uncomfortable as that question is – “So how’s that working for ya?” is the question that has improved my life the most.

It forces me to think about what I am doing and why I am doing it?

It forces me to find alternatives that will better move me towards my goals.

What’s currently eating your lunch?

How are you dealing with the problem right now?

And…how’s that working for ya?

Matt Cross is an awesome business coach and has been one of my coaches for years. I’m not affiliated, just sharing information 			</div><!-- .entry-content -->
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Being Courageous In The Workplace

Courage is rightly esteemed the first of human qualities because it is the quality which guarantees all others - Winston Churchill

Lance Secretan states that courage is the foundational ingredient required for leaders.

It takes courage to speak your truth in environments that may not be ready to hear what you say.

It takes courage to admit you don’t know the answers, to apologize, to make mistakes, to be authentic, to take the first steps towards the unknown.

It takes courage to risk rejection, to face criticism, to rise above intimidation.

A recent conversation had me thinking about courage in the workplace.

What is it about the environments that we are in that makes it so scary to be our authentic selves?

Why does it take so much courage, in so many workplaces, to be truthful?

During that conversation, I realized that I have been in something of a privileged position in the workplaces that I have functioned in.

  1. Being the “trainer” in IT departments usually means being the least technical (and therefore dumbest) person in the room. Since expectations of my understanding are low, it’s easier for me to ask what appear to be obvious questions.
  2. The environments I’ve worked have rewarded that behavior from me – if not with the usual social awards such as promotions. The reward has been in the conversations after the fact and the relationships built as a result. The one-on-one thank yous for opening up the conversation. The built reputation for being a “truth-teller.” The meetings with new executives whose first sentence is often “they told me to come talk to you.”  And, occasionally, the changes that are made to projects or policy or activities as a result.  I didn’t see this when I was in the environment. Only now, with some distance, am I seeing the rewards for what they truly are.
  3. I was lucky to be in an environment in my most recent job where I wasn’t the only truth-teller.  I have been blessed with colleagues who were masters at taking the air out of the room by exposing the elephant in it.  We had each other’s backs.  That was a blessing.  Not many people have that in their workplace.
  4. My last boss encouraged my truth-telling and helped me find the language so that the message was more palatable.
  5. In my current work, people are paying me to be courageous and tell the truth to them. It’s my job to tell people when things are going off the rails. It’s my job to help them avoid disaster, or show them how the decisions they are making may not lead to the outcomes they expect.
  6. Since I’m also working as an outsider, it’s easier for me to be truthful.  I don’t have promotions or bonuses on the line.
  7. I’ve concluded that it is more important to me to work with people and organizations who are willing to engage openly and authentically than it is to keep a client no matter what.  I am the scarce resource.

I’ve come to recognize that it is easier in some environments to be courageous than in others.

It’s easier to be courageous when you aren’t gunning for promotion and you have people in the environment who have your back.

It’s easier to be courageous when you have immediate managerial support and you are working from a place of inspiration.

The next question – how can we create those environments for others?

Overwhelmed by busywork?

Want more time to focus on the things that are most important to you?

Join the Flowbox – a subscription service containing short videos, tools, and templates to help you overcome overwhelm, reduce meaningless busywork, and find flow in your work and your life.

Use the coupon betatestmonthly for 20% off the first 6 months of your subscription.

10% of all subscription fees received through December 31, 2018, will go to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.

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#52books The Spark, The Flame, and The Torch

#52 Books – The Spark, the Flame, and the Torch:Inspire Self. Inspire Others. Inspire the World. (Amazon affiliate link)

Format: Kindle

“Life is a mirror and will reflect back to the thinker what he thinks into it” Ernest Holmes

Lance Secretan argues that we are now seeing in our economy and our workspaces exactly what we have been thinking. And it’s not working.

“Our social and corporate cultures have developed into ones that brilliantly reward the metrics of performance while overlooking the measures of the heart, and this has caused an evaporation of inspiration.”

So what?

People want to be inspired.

Inspiration, Secretan argues, is a result of a leader who is clear about WHY they are here (Destiny), how they will BE while they are here (Character) and what they have been called to DO (Calling).

“There are two givens that we all share:

  • Our passion is drawn to the things that excite us – positively and negatively
  • At our core, we all yearn to serve and improve the world”

Inspiring others means serving others.

Motivating others, as Secretan defines it, means serving self.

Practically everything we talk about in business and education is about “motivating”.

How do I get others to do X?

Secretan wants us to look within first and get clear on your destiny, character, and calling.  Then demonstrate that through your moment-to-moment interactions and consistent action.

He then moves out into the corporate environment and provides a few techniques for developing an inspirational vision for your organization.

For an inspirational vision to work, leaders need to prioritize employees, then customers, then shareholders (think Disney, Southwest Airlines, Nordstroms).  Too many organizations, Secretan noted, focus on shareholders first, then customers, and then (maybe) employees.

Secretan wrote that well before the recent tax law changes. In multiple surveys and summits, the majority of CEOs planned to spend the money for stock buybacks and dividends or mergers and acquisitions. Investing in the company (capital spend) or its workers was not as high a priority.

We’re hitting a point in our economy where having your own company and being a shareholder (no matter how small) is more secure, less soul-sucking, and has a higher probability of financial remuneration than being an employee somewhere.  This includes the risks involved in starting your own business.

The knowledge workers who these organizations need to grow and thrive in today’s environment are coming to that conclusion themselves.  Many of them are pro-actively deciding to go independent.  By 2020, more than 40% of US workers will be independent and that number will grow rapidly.

If you are in a leadership position, Secretan has provided a toolkit to help you staunch the bleeding of your best talent and become the leader that talent needs you to be.

It starts with you.

Values at Work

I’ve been reading a lot of leadership literature recently. A theme keeps appearing.


Personal values.

Define the values you want to live by. Use them as the foundation for your career and leadership style.

Typically, they will define the values you should follow for you.

And some will focus on how to get others to share those values.

Interestingly, I haven’t been in too many workplaces where values are deeply discussed – beyond “You really ought to have these values.”

  1. I don’t know how many people have deeply thought about the values they hold.  There’s not much in our society that encourages this.
  2. If they have thought about values, it’s more because someone has told them they should hold these values vs. questioning why they hold these values and whether the values they are holding (that they may have gotten from elsewhere) still work for them. Again, there is not much encouragement in our society for this level of reflection.
  3. If they are confident in the values they hold, their workplace is not a safe place to discuss these values.  Especially if the values they hold contradict either the stated values or the behavioral values.

I’m thinking that helping to cultivate a safe environment for deeply reflecting on, then sharing, personal values is key.

If I’m going to try and create this space for someone else, this looks like questioning, staying curious, and being open to the answer.

Most importantly, not trying to shift someone else’s values to look like mine.

I’m thinking more 1-1 time, being clear and open about the values I hold, and doing my best to deeply listen is part of it too.

What are the values you hold?

Why do you hold them?

What does a safe space for discussing values look like to you?

Want more time to focus on the things that are most important to you?

Join the Flowbox – a subscription service containing short videos, tools, and templates to help you overcome overwhelm, reduce meaningless busywork, and find flow in your work and your life.

Use the coupon betatestmonthly for 20% off the first 6 months of your subscription.

10% of all subscription fees received through December 31, 2018, will go to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.

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