The point is to know where you are and where to go next

As John Lennon once wrote, "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans." What he leaves out is that making plans, making choices, is a necessary part of the process (even when they don't work out the way we expect). We have to keep moving as if we know where we are going, even knowing we will also have to course correct as we go.

That's why we need a compass. A compass has four points, but the point of the compass is to allow us to make better choices for our next step. Someone who is not moving does not need a compass. The compass is a tool for people on the move.

What are the points on the compass that guides you through life. The first, your north star, is health and well-being. Movement (even metaphorical movement) requires that we have the energy, strength, flexibility and balance to take the next step. Health of mind and health of body is the power source that drives all our movement.

What we do with that health and well-being has an i…

Build Strength Through Uncertainty

How do you do it? We all have strategies for the days when the clock is ticking but what we need is not happening. We all have strategies for getting through uncertainty.

There is no magic bean that will eliminate uncertainty. And uncertainty goes to the heart of what makes human beings most uncomfortable: we don't know what is coming next. Our brains have evolved to keep us safe by predicting the future, but it's often an impossible task. There's no way to know for use what will come next and so there is no way to prepare for it without wasting resources we might need to guard against something unpredictable. So our brains go in circles, running their best predictions and then running them again with whatever new information becomes available.

But there are so many situations where we just don't know. We don't know how long, how much, or how often. We don't know the outcome of the project or the illness or the relationship. We can guess. We do guess. We do wh…

Encouragement Is More Powerful Than Management

Management doesn't just happen at work. It happens everywhere: we manage our kids, our partners, our parents and friends. We manage situations and feelings. We manage.

There's a funny thing about managing: it has two meanings. On the one hand it means that we like to run things, to control things, to give direction. And on the other it means that we are surviving or coping. You can see where those two intersect: managing means hanging on in a world where none of us are able to thrive. People and relationships need managing because we don't trust collaboration or cooperation. We don't trust other people to follow through or to be capable or to want good things. And we don't trust them because when we are managing, we are just hanging on. And that's not a position of strength or confidence.

What would be different if we encouraged people instead of managing them? We'd start with the belief that they were clever and brave and capable. What we don't always …

An invitation to be present, to make shared meaning, and to get moving

I understand that most people who read this blog don't read poetry. It's foreign to most of you, in the way that plants that grow on the other side of the planet are foreign. It's so far outside your awareness as to seem irrelevant to your lives. But when it's outside my awareness for too long, I get antsy.  Poetry helps me settle into all of myself. Maybe if you give it another chance, it can help you, too.
Here's why I think "more poetry is needed": Poetry grounds meaning in the senses. It uses sight and sound not just as containers for meaning, but as part of how meaning is made. In poetry, words point you toward lived experience, rhythms get under your skin, and the way the words  look on the page changes how you hear them and what you imagine when you do. It's as if the function of poetry is to say "There is no meaning outside the way you live your life. Presence is what counts."Poetry only makes sense when the reader and the writer coo…

The 4 Ps for Parents Who Want to Encourage Their Kids

Encouragement means more than cheering people on. According to Google, it means"give support, confidence, or hope to (someone)." That makes encouragement the key to helping your kids find what they need to face their challenges and pursue their goals, whether they are toddlers or teens or much older than that.

If you have a kid who is anxious or stuck, you can use the 4P process to help them find what they need to feel better and do better.
The first P is for presence. Your kid needs your undivided attention. I know it's hard to put all your attention in one place. You have a million things to do and you're tired and easily distracted. But think of it from your kid's point of view, and you'll understand why focused attention is important. There's not much that makes kids more anxious than fighting for their parent's attention. They feel insecure as soon as they think that they're losing you, and they feel safer as soon as they feel that you are tr…

Making a mistake is like losing a piece to your puzzle

In an NLP training this weekend, we were talking about the problem of getting people in a particular profession to own up to mistake. Within moments, we realized it wasn't about a particular profession. Most people find it really hard to admit they've made a mistake.
If you don't own up to making mistakes, it's hard to learn from them. That's like paying for something and walking out of the store with empty hands. You have the pain of the mistake without the gain of learning from it. This is even more true for organizations. If people won't own up to mistakes, the whole organization misses out on the learning that should come from them.

Making a mistake is like losing one piece to your puzzle.  If you don't own up to the mistake, no one is going to know that what they just picked up in the the piece you need to complete your puzzle. So as an individual and as an organization, you face the same choice. Am I okay with a puzzle that looks like this, a puzzle …

What are your choices when you're at the edge of the map?

It might be hard to remember the last time you looked at a physical map.  Maybe you were on vacation, and you pulled a map out of a guide book or you picked up one of the tourist maps you get at hotel desks or information centres. The thing about a paper map is that it has edges. Your map program on your phone will just move the edges and re-centre so you are back in the centre of the picture.

Life is more like the paper map. Sometimes we get to the edge, and we have to make choices about what to do next. Essentially we have only 3 choices: turn around and go back; go forward without a map or go looking for another map.

Sometime between 40 and 60, maybe several times, you will come to the edge of your map. It can happen earlier or later, but it will certainly happen that in the middle of your life, you will run out of map. Your plans will or will not have worked out, and you'll find that there is no clear route from where you are to where you are going. You probably don't eve…