Design for Personal Impact | Design Thinking Workshop Reflection

How do you design your time in this world?

On January 5th, I tagged up with another facilitator from the OpenIDEO DC chapter to employ design thinking techniques towards envisioning 2018. With a group of about 35 design thinkers and enthusiasts, we kicked off with appreciation for 2017. We asked everyone to think about the best of 2017 and to consider themes as they surfaced. We then pivoted to 2018 and encouraged everyone to develop three aspirations for the year. From there we began to map out our thoughts. With 2017 bests and 2018 aspirations, we prompted everyone to think about how they might work towards achieving aspirations for this year. Folks worked in pairs to talk through their ideas and began mapping. Along the way, folks were prompted to consider their underlying motivations, the pitfalls and people+places that offered them inspiration. The ultimate question everyone asked themselves was this: If today was January 5th 2019, how would I seek to describe 2018? 

We gallery walked. We shared our aspirations with one another. And we began, as a community, to understand that we all desire to make an impact in the world. We all actually do desire to be part of something much bigger than ourselves. Many also learned that discovering their purpose in life is easier than it seems...that meaning comes from meaningful experiences and that building capacity to accomplish more is possible. 

Further, charting all this out with others and identifying ways to be held accountable were the lynch pins identified in supporting successful achievement of personal impact.

2010 01 05 HH Personal Impact Map Layout Options.jpg

I've added quick sketches of the few ways to visualize 2018 that we offed to workshop participants. For those that didn't make this session or simply seek to begin again before we turn the corner into February, check in.

For a more detailed visual dive into your personal "data" that maps pivot points and defining moments, consider tying into a future workshop or 1:1 session. 

2018 & Another Trip Around the Sun

Ready or not yet another trip around the sun here I come. 

How do you kick off the New Year? I typically start with a little retro of my past (my reflection actually starts in the October time frame). And I must say my look back on 2017 wasn't pretty.

I can sum up 2017 with one word: BROKEN. While there were some fantastic highlights, just about everything broke. From relationships and bones to hardware and appliances, you name it, it broke and maybe twice. But what I learned very early on this past year was the power of naming and cultivating an affirmation. My affirmation appropriately came in late February as I was nursing a broken fifth metatarsal:



Practice and reflection on the breaking led me onto assessment. And just before the ball dropped, I decided to leave behind many things as the next trip around the sun began. I had taken time to find peace with the brokenness (oh yes, many a rant later). With that peace, I recognized taking some broken pieces that have yet to heal...and call it work in progress. With these pieces of progress in perspective, I refresh and reboot for the trip that's now in motion.

The perspective is one of appreciation (mindful this is tough coming from the kid that saw the cup empty). I take with me the learning, gratitude and healing process that started midst the breaking of 2017. I set the 2018 intention of connection that's been given to me, seeking to transform the floor of yesterday into the ceiling today and contemplate deeply the words of listen and illuminate that are laid on my heart. The accompanied goals I've set are my own and for the first time feel truly shared. I am cautiously optimistic that the hurdles of the past are ones I may overcome little by little (particularly with the blessing of renewed accountability this year).

If you're a goal setter and still reading along, I'll share a three basic tips worth considering as you set and progress on your goals:

1) Simplify: set at least one goal that is really accessible, actually doable (be it 1 glass of water more a day or smiling at someone on the commute home, ouch!). 

2) Personalize: set goals you can accomplish for yourself, by yourself. If goals require others, they are doubly more challenging to achieve...proceed on those with caution. 

3) Align: whatever you set out to do, check yourself before diving in. Is there passion? Is there purpose? If not, forget about progress. 

I approaching 2018 still visually exploring and increasingly aware that it's never too late to be who you might have been (thank you, George Eliot). Stay curious AND...


Your Practice.

ReFrame U

How do you tackle your wicked problems? What methods do you use to begin reframing your thoughts? 

This coming weekend I am very fortunate to be working with three talented facilitators to offer an intro to design thinking workshop, pulling from IDEO & Stanford d.School (d=design) methodologies. In the session, we will define both the what and why around the utility of a human centered design (HCD) approach to design better solutions. We'll then tackle a challenge in depth with step one of defining the proposed problem. And, YES, we'll work it all the way through to solutions in the form of tangible products. 

If you're like me, you may have already been to plenty of these events and even consider it old hat by now. If you have this mindset, may I ask you to reThink that assumption and read on?

I've been asked when reframing really starts. From a process perspective, I'd encourage you to exercise your thinking brawn immediately: redefine your problem as a possibility.

It might be worth clarifying my thoughts on reframing: essentially it works to identify what underlying assumptions exist and "break free" from them. Examples include Zappos & Morning Star: each took on new approaches to org structure with first identifying what assumptions drove their current model; they mashed those with what their employees said truly motivated them and built environments to support those needs. Today each runs flat organizations (hello, holacracy!). While not perfect on day one, the results have been colorfully successful with an increasingly engaged, thriving workforce. Win!

In these stories, you'll see that the companies went to their employees - working diligently to continually reframe their perspectives - to acquire the "meaningful" data. By doing so, these organizations effectively built empathy that lead to deeper understanding of the needs of their workforce. These insights drove the design of potential new structures & environments for testing.

Now we take a turn to empathy building, the next step once the challenge is out there.  This is the step you'll take with me on Saturday and we'll learn how to build empathy together... I'll say that despite the plethora of free tools (and kudos to Dave Gray for creating the standard empathy map), I couldn't find one that met all my needs. The result? I had to create my own as you can see...After due diligence not to re-create the wheel thru endless searching, I think I can safely say this is a relatively fresh mashup template for the taking. And if not, never hurts to add it to your sets! Along with mapping out interview results to build empathy, consider personas. Be cautious when building personas: understand their purpose or you'll waste your time. Make them memorable, unique; don't connect with them though too deeply as you'll loose focus. Develop an adequate number based on the challenge scope. Inevitably all these tools help us derive insights to then make our return to reframing. Notice any trends in these initial steps? 

Empathy Map Template

Bottom line is the employment of human centered design is a fantastic way to shake things up at work, and I can vouch for the value of its utility personally too. If you've not utilized this methodology professionally and would like to learn more (or even talk thru how to use the plethora of free tools out there beyond mind), feel free to geek out with me this Saturday or reach out anytime. 

And about a personal rethink with design thinking techniques, sure! Pulling from the same templates, try gaining some empathy for yourself (you as the customer). Learn what associations you have around labels, or unknown truths that may hold you back today. Whatever it may be for you - politics, gender or another flavor of inappropriate dinner table conversation - take a look through the lens of standard practice design thinking. How? Start with a softball life experience or moment as follows:

1) Consider a recent incident that triggered a surprising response or reaction from you. Maybe you received some tough news and ironically you were not sad, you were happy. Perhaps you've hit a life milestone and the weight of your emotions is an unfamiliar kind of heavy. Or it could be as simple as you didn't agree with the results of a personality test from work, or feedback after that performance review. Name it, then...

2) Take a moment to reflect or journal (1-2 pages). Call that the interview of yourself.

3) Then apply the empathy map to what you read about yourself/your thoughts. Explore what drove your thinking, feeling, saying, doing or other items. Dig deep. Ask questions. Pull at your own strings a little. You could also employ a persona template here. Who doesn't enjoy drawing their selfie? Tip: emoji me.

4) Then process it: take time out. Find quiet. Let your thoughts come, and go as they move with your breath. Let each pass in and out with zero judgement. Lengthen breath to the count of 4 in and out (slight pause at the top) a few minutes longer without seeking anything from it. Let it go.

5) Not into step 4? No problem. Talk out your insights with someone that knows you and then perhaps someone that's more an acquaintance. See what comes up in this vulnerable space. Hold no grip on the results, just let your capacity be built and your growth happen.

...Early on I mentioned being asked when reframing really starts...

It starts with YOU.

Keep your eye on...

...the prize? Not quite.

This past week I found myself in the passenger seat of a tow truck in the middle of Washington DC. The driver kept yelling "Keep your eye on your rear view!"...and I did so half shuddering/half amazed at what I saw in the mirror.

2017 Rear View Towing.jpg

It was astonishing to witness this vehicle being towed out since this garage since it's reported to have one of the lowest clearances in the District. Be mindful that Jeep is a high-riding SUV, with a roof still adorned by a bike rack left over from tri-racing days. I'm happy to say it was a successful towing/extraction feat. No new scratches!

Why share this story among all the many positive things that have actually happened since last posting...? Well this unfortunate event - getting caught in a DC parking garage with a bad starter on a newer SUV - highlights a few ReLearnings worth holding onto, and I believe to be fair game for reflection:

  • Stop, look & listen. At any moment, someone could be speaking truth you need to hear - whether it's your client generously trying to help you jump-start your car, the towing scheduler or the expert tow driver. In my case, it was all three last week. And the clear ask to keep my eye on the mirror not only demanded my full attention to what was happening (a miracle towing job!) and bare witness to it, I heard loud and clear the Johari Window come back at me. Take inventory: have you done that recently?
  • Recognize your blind spots. How does what you see in your rear view help you frame or re-frame your thinking in the present moment? What are your blind spots? 
  • Let go. In my case, it wasn't just the "stuff" I needed to let go of, it was the idea around what that vehicle had been representing in my life. Weird...a bit of hoarding that I needed to release. At MYBO right now, we are focusing on aparigraha (the concept of non-hoarding, non-possessiveness). Drop in and work through this question for yourself while practicing during the month of May: what are you clinging to that no longer serves you? what can you let go of?
  • Be IN fully to the experience: let's face it, what else was I going to do anyway but sit and watch? Well honestly I did have a choice in that moment. We all do. I could have pulled out my phone or stared straight ahead avoiding what I knew would lead me down a thought trail that could be very painful to unpack but...Why miss a moment? Take every opportunity to be in. When it gets uncomfortable, dig in deeper: find your breath, relax your jaw and loosen your grip.

There is a lot more to say on all this, and several methods and visuals that help work through many of these concepts...Interested in learning more? Stop by MYBO on Friday evening and sweat it out with me! Stay after to explore visual approaches. 

If you're in the middle of unpacking or simply avoiding the view, STOP and LOOK. Take a higher path for yourself and share in that choice with those around you...we will all be better for it.


In other news: if you weren't following TEDxFoggyBottommarkerninja or me in April, take a moment to check out recent updates here. More to come on the TEDx visual digital experience for a second year - and the provocative talks. Also keep a lookout for facilitation reflections from an amazing workshop we held for the kids of Casa Chirilagua last month too!


Lastly, it's an amazing time to visit my neighborhood #DelRayVA. Check out the league of local artists on Sunday, May 14th coloring the streets @La Bella Strada

WHO not do.

Earlier this year, an idea rose up around WHO not do. Since hearing this thought, several conversations, activities and events have called my attention back to this phrase repeatedly. The recurring theme found within warranted a bookmark, and short reflection with you too! 

First, the meaning: it's simple, so don't over think it. Read W-H-O not do. Focus on WHO (the person) vs. DO (the how). And just to be clear: what this phrase also indicates is what not to do: don't focus on the do, the how. Seems pretty straight-forward but...

Have you ever failed in meetings, in classes or in the kitchen?

If your answer is no, then by all means share your book! If in my camp of failure on occasion, the invitation is yours to read on.

  • STRATEGY (the meeting). how are you going to get there? After asking this question over and over again, what I continue to realize is that no matter how good your questions are (or your intentions), you have to truly understand WHO you are asking and WHO asked (that means knowing YOU too!). Consider Cheryl Bachelder (CEO of Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen): her story of past failure that paved a path to success in daring to serve; she focused her keen listening ears on WHO for success.
  • DESIGN (the classes, workshops)how can we rethink this? how do we reframe that? Open up to any methodology on offer across the world of design to learn quickly that essential to success is understanding WHO you are designing for. Pick up a crash course on the or IDEO approach. Look at Killer Questions or a recent favorite reference, Gamestorming, and you'll see the emphasis on WHO (humans although we could insert data these days). Ask yourself how UBER managed its leading position. Certainly this company reframed the game, and they did so much in part by understanding underlying assumptions and motivations inherently driving consumer decisions. Today we trust in jumping into vehicles with strangers, free of physical payment or exchange. Just a few years ago, this would have been considered insanity!  We'll see if other cultures around the world oblige to the UBER offering... I'd encourage you to think about this for a moment; reflect on your culture, the culture, and change. Fingerprints, or dataprints? It's fascinating!  
  • MARRIAGE (the kitchen, home). how will we change? what can we do differently to make it work? The circular conversation continues; and yet I would deprive this personal setting if I didn't apply elements of this learning around WHO. I find that as you truly work on cultivating a deep understanding of WHO your mate is, your relationship will shift, guaranteed.

Well then, HOW to focus on WHO? First please smile at this question based on what you've read. Next, look up empathy. Feel free to continue your search around empathy by adding "maps" - you'll find visuals, probably persona development and that may lead to interviews. This exploration will amaze. And taking an appreciative approach in any and all that you explore here is highly advised.  

Acknowledging here that this is a loaded post with zero visuals to help you. That's your tip to reach out to me about these topics and applications, or join a yoga class to breathe through your own personal inquiry anytime!

Gifts & Gratitude.

Do you find yourself working in a reactive state most days? Spiraling in the midst of well-laid plans gone awry? Have you been told to think happy thoughts or take a moment to be grateful for something and it would help to shift from a reactive place to more proactive thinking? If nothing else, it would "help you turn that frown upside down"...

I have. And I doubt I'll finish reading A Thousand Gifts

2017 Gratitude Jar

In chasing this concept of gratitude + proactive pivot, I set an intention to live more gratefully this year. I implemented the use of a gratitude jar (my homemade attempt is pictured to give you an idea). As we're well into 2017 - now celebrating longer days with the onset of spring - I can honestly say my intention of gratitude has been challenged more than once. Yet these trials act as a multiplier of a pursuit to hold myself accountable to live gratefully regardless of the circumstances.

There is power in recognizing the gifts - whatever the size - in your life. How?

The short list is 1) Pause. You have to take time to think and this leads to some sort of time to reflect. This pause, wherever it leads, is priceless for us (particularly if on a mission of deeper meaning or best self!). 2) Appreciation. In seeking something to be grateful for, you are forced to actively appreciate. Appreciative inquiry is magical (and a topic for another day). 3) Reality. We get caught up in the fires of the moment all too easily. We let the flames burn us: scorching the positive, painting harsh perceptions of what is not fully real. Don't get me wrong here: reality is not all rainbows (quite the opposite); yet our tendency is towards fear. Taking a moment to see all of reality - the good and the bad - is healthful recognition, offering us wiser perspective.

So get out of your head.

Actively "count" gratitude with something like a jar or journal. The inventory you build is a lovely visual reminder of all the beauty in your life (it's hard not to soften when you see it). If nothing else, speak aloud your gratitude as frequently as you can. Hear yourself. Heal yourself...and I should add that, for me, I have seen how grateful I truly am for what I used to think derailed me indefinitely.

Try it on with others too! & if you've done this or consider yourself a master of gratitude-living, I'd love hear from you about what trends you observe in the habit of gratitude, and the gifts that keep on giving!

2017 Neuland Kitting @ Casa Chiri

For me, a gift that just keeps on is markers. NEULAND markers to be specific. For all my visual practitioners, this is old hat knowledge. For anyone new to Neuland, get on board. Not only are these markers fabulous, the owners have the largest hearts and most giving souls. If you need proof, join us for a workshop this April at Casa Chirilagua. This workshop is the result of donations made by Neuland during #IFVP2016. As you can see from last Sunday's photo of marker kitting, we are well on our way with preparation. Our intention in this workshop, supplied fully by Neuland donations, is to share the gift of art with the next generation of Casa Chirilagua; we will be teaching the kids about how to use art as a way to express themselves and build confidence in co-creating a mural for Casa's new home.


This past week, I was asked to intentionally reflect on what my best self might look like both to me and to the world. It was a remarkable experience to take a week away and share with colleagues how I might make more of each moment, in showing up as my best realize my human potential.  

While we centered the discussions around our work, the conversation held deeper implications for everyone. Let's face it, we can't always leave "home" at home when we come into work. And with the ever-increasing rate of virtual work, home and work blur. While many might argue that boundaries are necessary, I am a believer in the power of bringing your whole self to your profession. I am also a firm supporter of eliminating the term of "work" from the vocabulary. Why? ...We all seek to do what we're passionate about to some extent. When you are passionate, focused and centered (your best self), what you do is no longer work.

In reflecting on my human potential (loosely defined as the "self" open to limitless possibility, the "you" that provides both inward and outward the most satisfaction, optimism and joy), a series of questions and several personal truths rose:

1. What is my energy demand?

2. What is the foundation of my best self (in terms of physical, emotional and meaning)?

3. What are my strengths? Where do I need to grow (respectful of those same terms)? 

4. How does my energy supply meet my demand (assess fuel, moves & recharging mechanisms)?

5. What is my experience? How does my perspective influence the experience? Truths: my interpretations impact the way my body responds; every thought, feeling and action is controlled by the brain.

6. What beliefs and values drive me? What inspires? What motivates? What can I do to sustain my connection to purpose (proposing here that my meaning is derived by this connection)?

7. What is my sentence? Am I better today than I was yesterday? (Drive by Daniel H. Pink). Truths: the only constant is you; autonomy, mastery and contribution (meaning) form my satisfaction.

8. What are my habits, patterns & practices? How do they help or hinder my potential? Hint: Tiny habit format (kudos to BJ Fogg). 

9. How does this all integrate for me? What insights impact my essential intent (which should technically align to "my sentence")? 

10. How can I move towards my best self? How can I access renewed energy? (proposing here that moving to my best self requires a moment in recovery/renewal).

Our brilliant guides throughout the week mentioned several times that "You can't separate the dance from the dancer."

Translation: Start with your own dance.

Johari Window

Indeed the use of a 360 feedback assessment was most helpful (particularly in attending to question #3 above). A proposed method to consider such results is the use of the Johari Window. I have flirted with this 2X2 many times prior and agree with its value. If you've not used it or simply want to try it on, I've added a personal visual spin to this post. Check it out.

Give a shot at working through these questions for yourself. Spend time and reflect on your potential. Use the Johari Window to think about what areas pose personal growth, and what strengths you should be maximizing! Questions, or seeking accountability? Me too!

Let's co-create. Cheers!


STILL: an invitation.

You only need to be STILL.

Wait, come again? You mean me?

My reactions to "BE STILL" range from "okay, sure: I will hold the yoga pose for a little longer?" and "I will rest, no problem: just give me an idea of how long." Translation: I am capable of anything but stillness. (Photos included to prove my one is perfect, right?). 

How about you...Have you ever been forced to be STILL? In that forced state - physical or otherwise - could you find calm? Find acceptance? Discover peace?

In a world that moves so quickly and when sudden stillness is required, it can seem as though we are no longer able to participate. In that moment, A LOT COMES UP. The countless emotions and thoughts are a rushing flood. The intensity makes one capable of anything but being still. Internally and externally the tensions rise. Forced stillness, midst whatever circumstances or phase in life, can be impossible. Still steals freedom. Or does it?  Could deeper inquiry reveal something of opportunity in pause? 

This is my recent inquiry, and new ask of myself: What if I decided to be STILL? 


On Valentine's Day, I was physically forced to be still. "How long?" was my immediate question in the ER. And the answer, unknown. My instant reactions - born out of fear - manifested themselves into a few big tears (admittedly to my embarrassment). I am familiar with injury. I am familiar with trauma. I am not well acquainted with unknown durations or vague 'strategic' direction personally. Like I said, I am anything but still. And I certainly was not interested in whatever lesson this was intended to teach me in 2017 (at first!).

Swallowing hard over and over since that moment, this circumstance continues to ask me to make a choice between impossible or possible. limiting or limitless. crutches or creativity.


Have you been confronted with something recently that asks you to pause for an ambiguous length of time? Perhaps a broken bone like me or something far, far worse.

What happened? What choice did you make? How did it feel? How did the feelings change? What did you learn?  I don't know what 2017 has brought upon you already. Whatever it is, I can only imagine it's required you to show up big, to make some big choices. Rest assured this will just keep on well past 2017, it is what it is.

So I share my situation as an invitation to embrace the pauses when they come; an offer to try on ways to practice new disciplines that may serve you in holding on through the ambiguity, the change. Even steps to healing, to peace:

Decide to be still. Bring on breath. Invite a moment to scan your year thus far without passing any judgment. As thoughts begin to rise, bring yourself back to your breath; lengthen each inhale and exhale. Use inhales to recognize what comes up, noticing briefly (at the top of your in-breaths), and then on your exhales let it go. Extinguish everything with each out-breath. Empty completely, creating space within yourself with your breath for as long as you have the breath to do so. Then begin to inhale new life. For any hurt or aches, remember that where your awareness goes, prana flows (as a yogi also encouraged me this week).

Choose an affirmation. Let the affirmation take the form of "I AM ______." A couple examples might be "I AM CONFIDENT" or "I AM HOLDING ONTO NOTHING" or "I AM UNSTOPPABLE". I was recently guided through yoga nidra and reminded that affirmations reveal what we see for ourselves, what we are becoming. Affirmations often stay with us for a long time, perhaps  all our lives. Consider affirming yourself with one right now. Why not?

Whether forced or invited, stillness can create opportunities. STILL bestows freedom uniquely yours to cultivate something new. It is a choice worth making. This is what I am learning. So I have decided to cultivate a practice of stillness all my own; to recognize I AM HEALING. Often physical hurt is asking us to notice a much deeper hurt within ourselves. As my vision board for this year reminds me, I have many areas in my life that could use healing. That healing for me is not going to come from "do, but Who."

Where do you land in stillness? Will you accept the invitation? Remember any challenge is an opportunity to get creative, so start laughing at your inner innovator. You will heal faster! And with this invitation and any others you might open, be gentle with yourself.

You are fought for. I promise.

Is it Essential? How to decide.

Feeling or ever felt pulled in too many directions? Struggling to make a choice? Uncertain what path to follow? How to decide? And is there a "right" way to even do so?

You are not alone.

We are all confronted with choices every day. Whether making decisions for yourself or with others, those decisions are seldom easy to make if you do not have a clear understanding of your intention, your purpose. So how do you gain clarity?  

A year ago, I was asked how I made decisions or what process I used to evaluate choices. It just so happened to be at a time in my life when I would soon need such a framework and it caused me to finally step up to the plate...and begin to seek such clarity. I've been on this journey since then. If you're at a similar crossroads, keep reading! 

Below are my steps and a quick frame (I'm a fan of consulting 2X2s if you didn't already notice), among several other visual tools... 

1) Awareness: are you truly motivated to explore the concept of purpose? Diving to this inquiry demands earnest desire. If not quite ready, take pause until that desire is truly present. A caution: the wait will entail moving in multiple directions and potential circling without clarity of purpose (a miserable experience, trust me).

Once you have gained an awareness of your desire to truly discover your purpose, consider...

2) Acceptance: what level of uncertainty can you palate? One might call this your risk tolerance. Name it as you wish, but settle with yourself on how to handle the certainty of ambiguity. This can be tricky. If you'd like support, reach out.

Next up...

3) Ask: what is excellence for you? what does success look like and how will you know when you've succeeded? what were you built for? I understand these are big questions, even intangible. Try this on: what are your backstories? These stories, your past experiences, inform "why" and often "how" you do what you do.

I was once called to look at the messes and the merriment of my own script (thus far) and ask how they inform my ministry. Kudos @MarkBatterson This sculpted a new way for me to look at my "life lows" with a newfound appreciation for His plan. My mess IS my ministry. Such truth for me offered both freedom and resultant mission orientation. How about you? 

Or simply not buying it?

Fair enough, try this: split a piece of paper in half and make two lists: one around what you do and the second about what you want to do. Then observe deltas: are you doing what you want to do? what should you stop doing or change to begin doing what you want to do? What drives the wants, the desires, the passions? Those answers shed light on the values and beliefs that inspire your actions. 

There are many, many ways to begin diving into your life's purpose and lovely literature to feed your discovery. From strengths-based analyses and gifts evaluation to the feedback from friends and colleagues, you will glean more and more to answer these worthy asks. Be thoughtful and be gentle with yourself as you contemplate.


4) Answerhow are you answering in a way that drives you toward a clear purpose? Do not fall into the trap of asking without answering! Good questions deserves good answers! While many options exist to help you scribe out your thoughts, I have found the below simple matrix very helpful. Don't thank me, please extend your appreciation to Greg McKeown. In his book, Essentialism, McKeown explores the disciplined pursuit of doing less and makes a compelling case for living with essential intent. In seeking clarity around what is essential, and ensuring to identify what is not essential, he offers this 2X2. 

Essential Intent 2X2

Need a bit more information on how to apply this matrix to chart your essential intent? Sure thing (and highly recommend his book too!). All set? Please press on to #5 - Anchoring down.

First consider the axes of meaning (bland or inspirational?) and measure (general or concrete?). Fill in the top left quadrant with thoughts from your brainstorming around what you are built for, and what excellence is to you. These thoughts may be a bit generic, and that's perfect! Let them flow, just ensure they inspire YOU.

Then, move to the bottom left quadrant and chart the ideas you had around your values (what drives you to do what you do, or holds you to things). Note values may be an umbrella for core beliefs or principles.

Then take a turn towards the bottom right box, loosely suggested as "objectives". Here begin to write some actionable statements that may help achieve your vision. Ensure they are time-bound (such as "Complete X within X months").

With these three quadrants filled, move into the top right quadrant to scribe what is both inspirational AND concrete.

Voila!...yeah, right.  This isn't easy, and it's not meant to be.

As McKeown and countless other brilliant authors highlight, this is hard work but it is worth it. Establishing this intent is your true north and how you gain clarity. How do you know you've reached that intent, and done so in the right way? ...steer on to the last step!

5) Anchor: Is it essential? Once you have landed on your intent, you have the true north to then answer this question of essential-ity over and over again. Your intent is your anchor to ground your past decisions and most of all, your present and future choices. The peace that surrounds establishing your essential intent affirms and assures, as does the promise it holds for you. You know when you've got it right by applying it to your decisions and seeing how immediately you are empowered to make a call that is truly anchored by your clear purpose.

A word on application: in this post, I explored my personal steps and a matrix at the individual level. I would be amiss if not encouraging you to use this same approach when working at the organizational level. Is your firm seeking to re-evaluate the vision? Is your team revisiting values or establishing its core principles? Ground these strategic conversations with proven tools and methods as explored here. If you'd like help, you know where to find me. I'd love to hear your thoughts and how you are applying these ideas! 

Cheers to the Chinese New Year, and a fortune worth charting!


ENERGY. It's a POWERful thing!

Our energy level affects us and how we show up each day.

Explore that with me:

You walk into your meeting after a sleepless night, the expectations on the discussion outcomes are high, and the personalities in the room are unpredictable. How is your energy? 

Flip it.

Time to enjoy an hour of happy after work, and in whatever shape that takes for you (sipping, sweating, swinging, sky's the limit). How about your energy now?

I don't know where you stand, but the second scenario leaves me lighter: a sunny forecast and excitement in my veins. I am ready for anything in that hour. With a positive outlook and high energy, I am more likely set up for stronger performance. Take it further: I am set up for a better experience and it's more likely that those around me are too. 

Somewhat obvious, yes? Yet how often do you take an inventory of your energy? If so, what do you do with that knowledge to serve you best in the moment?


During a facilitation last year, the Emotional Quadrants were informally introduced to me as a technique for taking inventory. This 2X2 matrix offers a way to assess your outlook and energy.  

Based on where you land, use strategies to shift in order to make it an hour of happy rather than unpredictable.

Simple, proven strategies include breaks for walking, hydrating, breath-work or coloring. And don't just take a break, I mean TAKE THE BREAK WITH INTENTION.

Do that by disconnecting through a physical action (like a short walk) to HIT RESET. Then try drawing your attention inward with your breath, lengthening it; as thoughts come up, use your breath to acknowledge (inhale) them and release (exhale) them out, coming back to deep breathing for a few minutes. Actually allow the break to restore and rejuvenate you.  Build these breaks into your day, your week, month and year. Give yourself the space to truly be your best self.

For me, the middle of the month can land in burnout or survival state. The annual high from January resolutions may leave us in a lull too. Today as I work towards fresh air, I'll not be taking a short break. I am hitting reset towards recovery with a few days away.

Sometimes we have to take inventory to realize a short break won't cut it. It's not easy to untangle yourself and take a longer reset, I understand that fully. But it's much harder to stay in the pit of low energy + negative outlook. Don't do that to yourself, you are worth more.

Consider your energy throughout this year. Use this 2X2 or another tool you might have to gain perspective and greater awareness on where you are energetically. Let that learning guide your steps to your best self, always. Interested in exploring more strategies? Be in touch!

Finally, this post would be incomplete without recognizing the Human Performance Institute for their brilliance, and to Billy McMillan for sharing last year. Inspire #hummaninnovation.


Start fresh.

Refresh your perspective this new year!

After all, it is a "1" year so says numerology (add 2+1+0+7=10; 1+0=1). This Universal 1 suggests 2017 is an opportunity to start fresh on a new 9 year cycle. Amazing thought (kudos, MYBO).  That cycle is an opportunity! I've decided to seize the moment, and not only that: carpe Deum, seize the dream and its script.   A visual reminder of continuous renewal for me came at a young age when I looked up from my swing set and watched the heavens change and renew themselves before my eyes. The transforming dance of clouds above me moved and changed, yet remained soft, welcoming and familiar. As I watched the heavens above me evolve quietly yet powerfully, I found comfort in knowing that familiar sky would always be there watching me from above. It refreshed me to have that constant dance overhead no matter where on earth I might lay my head. Since that day on the columpio, I still find myself hitting refresh by looking up. It changes my perspective and ignites a shift in me to move forward and hit reset.    How will you seize the opportunity to begin a new cycle in 2017?  What allows you to shift and reset? Seize the moment with me.

After all, it is a "1" year so says numerology (add 2+1+0+7=10; 1+0=1). This Universal 1 suggests 2017 is an opportunity to start fresh on a new 9 year cycle. Amazing thought (kudos, MYBO).

That cycle is an opportunity! I've decided to seize the moment, and not only that: carpe Deum, seize the dream and its script. 

A visual reminder of continuous renewal for me came at a young age when I looked up from my swing set and watched the heavens change and renew themselves before my eyes. The transforming dance of clouds above me moved and changed, yet remained soft, welcoming and familiar. As I watched the heavens above me evolve quietly yet powerfully, I found comfort in knowing that familiar sky would always be there watching me from above. It refreshed me to have that constant dance overhead no matter where on earth I might lay my head. Since that day on the columpio, I still find myself hitting refresh by looking up. It changes my perspective and ignites a shift in me to move forward and hit reset. 

How will you seize the opportunity to begin a new cycle in 2017? What allows you to shift and reset? Seize the moment with me.