• The Artful Learning Lab: Resilience and the Learner-Judger Path

    The Centre for Creative Leadership (CCL) describes resiliency as “the ability to recover quickly from change, hardship or misfortune. It is associated with elasticity, buoyancy, and adaptation. Resilient people demonstrate flexibility, durability, an attitude of optimism, and openness to learning. A lack of resilience is signaled by burnout, fatigue, malaise, depression, defensiveness, and cynicism.”

    It is my belief that in these times of global and economic uncertainty we need to find ways that will help us to stay grounded and open to possibilities, rather than succumb to fear and resistance, and the stuff that drains our physical and emotional energy. A practical tool that can help you is Marilee Adams' Choice Map.

    Marilee Adams provides a straightforward approach to examining our choices, that is, we can choose to be a learner or a judger. The high road of a learner takes us on the path of inquiry and curiosity, self-responsibility and staying in the moment. The alternative, the judger path, is a reactive, blaming, self-critical and downward spiral into the muck of the judger pit. Simple yes, and that is its' beauty. The challenge is in the execution.

    Leader-ly Learning is a way of being, the kind of learning a leader needs to engage in as an ongoing process of the job that includes becoming an active participant by questioning assumptions, being curious, and learning about human behaviour. (Vaill, 1996).

    Now whether you are a CEO of a Fortune 500 company or Chair of your book club, you will always have an opportunity to lead yourself. You will always have the right to choose where you allow your thoughts to wander and how you act in response to those thoughts. Remember, as the picture above illustrates, you can always switch lanes when you find yourself walking into the judger pit. It's all a matter of how you exercise your choices and how open you are to the learning you gain as a result.

    Photograph via Pinterest

    Thought Challenge: Over the course of the next week, spend some time tending to the learner and judger paths. What are the signs that you are moving into the judger pit? What are some strategies you can use to move yourself out of negative mindsets and into a learning mode? How will this enhance your ability to bounce back? What does it mean to you to be a leader-ly learner? What will be different about you as you master the art of curiosity thinking? 

  • 25 Years Ago Today

    Twenty-five years ago today I was initiated into the world of motherhood with the birth of my daughter, Ashley. The love I felt for this wee babe was unlike anything I had ever experienced before. Becoming a mother gave me a whole new context for interpreting the meaning of life.

    In the first few weeks after Ashley's birth, I remember feeling overwhelmed by the responsibility of caring for an infant wholly dependent upon me for her survival.

    As I look back, I wasn't into reading any of the popular parenting books of the time, it just never really entered my stream of consciousness. I relied a lot on my psychiatric nursing training for the valuable knowledge and tools that helped me understand and support positive human behaviour and development. Though, what really stands out is how much I seemed to instinctively follow my intuition or inner knowing to guide my decisions and approaches to difficult situations I faced as a mother.

    Children provide us with so many opportunities to grow and become the best of our selves. Today, I have been digging through those many lessons learned because I believe there's a wealth of gold to be mined from the experiences of the past that can be transferred to how I live my life now.

    Happy Birthday Ashley! 
    Thank you for the learning and for enriching my life. 
    I love you.

    Ashley in Paris 2011
    Photograph: The Art of Purposeful Living

    Thought Challenge: What are the nuggets of knowledge that you can use to help guide you now and in the future? How have you used your lived experiences to inform your decision-making processes? How has parenting or taking care of someone or some thing contributed to who you are today? 

  • Trust the Process

    I have a desire to master the art of deep listening, listening from the inside. I read about people who follow their inner knowing and intuition, and I admire them for their self-confidence and courage to trust in that which is unseen or intangible.

    In order to trust, I have to be willing to let go of fear and worry. I am noticing just how much fear and trust are interconnected. It seems that when I can release myself from strongly held attachments that not only do I feel a certain freedom, my world expands.

    It's just that it can take a while until I "get" it, OR I make myself so uncomfortable that I force myself to take the risk and just jump off the edge. Paradoxically, when I do get out of my comfort zone I usually survive, and yes, truth be told, even thrive to live another day. And that my friends is the reward, a deep and profound feeling of satisfaction and joy.

    Listen to the quiet voice of inner wisdom and trust the process.

    Thought Challenge: What experiences can you draw upon where you "trusted the process"? When you have taken a leap of faith, what did you learn? How is your life enriched by taking risks and doing something outside of your comfort zone? What can you do to connect to your inner wisdom?
  • Where are YOU in the circle?

    Image: Richard Long via 2Photo.ru

    You've probably heard it said before, "what you focus on becomes your reality."

    Do you ever wonder why despite all your efforts you just can't seem to get a problem or situation to change for the better? Where have you been focusing your energy? Inside your circle of influence, or in your circle of concern? 

    The Circle of Influence (Covey, 2004), is a powerful tool that will help you become more aware of your thinking and behaviours on matters where you can make a real difference. By becoming attuned to where and how you are using your valuable personal resources you can make changes that will increase your personal and professional effectiveness, gain more independence, and create a more desirable reality.

    Looking inside your Circle of Concern

    The following exercise will help you examine the choices you are making and how you are prioritizing the stuff in your life that consumes your valuable mental, emotional, and physical power. Let's take a closer look at what you can do to shift yourself out of the place that has you stuck by exploring what you may be doing to keep yourself there.

    Take a blank piece of paper and draw a large circle. Fill it with all the things you are concerned with, that are important to you, and that take your time and attention. Anything and everything in your personal and professional life. 

    Image via here

    Focusing on your Circle of Influence

    Now, draw a second circle like the one below depicting a smaller "circle of influence" within a larger "circle of concern." The things that we have little or no real control over fall in the outer circle of concern, while those we can do something about land within the circle of influence. So look at what you have identified and filter accordingly into one of the two circles in the diagram. As you complete this exercise, what do you see that you can let go of immediately?

    Image via here

    E x p a n d i n g your Circle of Influence 

    Covey suggests that when people shift their focus onto the challenges where they can make a real difference, it actually expands their circle of influence. (You can learn more in his book, "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.")

     Image via here

    Here's what YOU can do: 

    1. Use your filters and stay open to reframing the things that concern you. 

    2. Observe your thinking and behaviours...are you responding reactively to what is outside of      your control?

    3. Focus on your personal growth and self-awareness. 

    4. Be willing to make changes that are truly within your power.

    5. Be proactive and seek solutions.

    6. Develop SMART goals on the things within your circle of influence.

    7. Remember, it's all about the learning!

    Image via jpg a day

    Thought Challenge: How much time and energy are you expending in the circle of concern versus the circle of influence? What is it costing you? What becomes possible when you concentrate your efforts on the things within your circle of influence? How do your goals support your circle of influence?

  • The Artful Learning Lab: Mindful Goal-Tending

    Image via kim holtermand

    Why set goals?

    Goals are more likely to help you succeed more quickly at reaching a desired outcome when you can clearly describe what you're aiming for and identify action steps that will steer you towards attaining your goals. 

    Think of it as setting up milestones that will help you mark success along the path to reaching the desired vision you have created for yourself.

    Image via Tumblr

    Wondering how to get started? Chunk it!

    Break your goals into bite-sized chunks. Imagine your goals are stepping-stones, flexible and dynamic to allow for the learning and growth acquired along the way. 

    Think about your vision statement. What are the key themes that are expressed in your vision? 

    Where do you feel a sense of urgency, excitement, or inspiration to get moving? Start there. Two to three goals is plenty to begin with.

    Image via Pinterest

    Be SMART!

    Now, take those themes and write out a goal statement (I have created a worksheet you can download for free). Write your goal statements so that they are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound (aka SMART).

    Image via Pinterest
    Track it!

    Use the worksheet I have provided or set up your own process to track and check in on how you are progressing towards your goals. 

    Having a visual display not only helps you stay focused, it can also be greatly satisfying if like me you feel a sense of accomplishment at being able to check another task off your list. 

    How about journaling, drawing, or taking photographs as a way to record your experiences? 

    Don't forget to make adjustments because you'll be acquiring insights into what works, what can be improved upon, and what isn't necessary, etc.

    Image via Pinterest

    and the part about mindfulness...

    As you tend to your goals, how will you stay true to your values and what filters do you have that will help you know when you might be out of sync?

    I encourage you to tap into your wisdom, pay attention to what feels right for you. If you're doing something that doesn't fit any more or takes you away from where you want to be, pay attention.

    This journey is all about the learning. So tap into your intuition, trust yourself, and don't forget to enjoy the ride!  
                                                                                            Image via weheartit

    Thought Challenge:  What intentions have you set in regards to your vision? How is this helping you move towards your vision? In what ways are you using your values to guide your decision-making? How can goals make a difference in achieving your desired future? What is required of you in order to enjoy the journey on the way to reaching your destination?

  • O Canada!

    Image via Pinterest

    Celebrate the history of our vibrant cultural mash-up. Adorn yourself in the maple leaf. Have fun! I think I'll start this day with pancakes and sweet Quebec maple syrup.

    Image via Etsy

    Happy Birthday Canada!

  • The Passionate Self

    A Passion Expressed
    written by Teresa Belluz 

    A question: "Young man your face expresses a sweet pain, what is it?" 
    The answer: "It is simply my passion for soccer."
    "Eyemazing" via Issuu

    Thought Challenge: What is YOUR simple passion? In what way does passion contribute to your life? How do you express your passionate self?

  • It's a Beautiful Day

    To all the dads, grand-dads, brothers, uncles, brothers-in-law, and just plain good men.


    Dad & me

    Dad & Ashley

    Uncle Kevin
    Photographs: The Art of Purposeful Living

    Thought Challenge: Who are the men in your life you are honouring today?

    And let's wrap up this beautiful day with a little something from U2's recent concert in Seattle.

  • Start Your Own Green Movement

    After I titled this post I realized that maybe you might think the topic would be environmentally focused. Well, in a way it is. I'm very visual and I have a passion for colour. So, today, it's all about green. Some days you just have to allow yourself a few random pleasures...

    Images via Pinterest

    Thought Challenge: What are the things around you that take you to another place (metaphorically speaking), create a meditative mood, or shift you into a higher state of well-being? 

    COMING UP...

    I'll be posting about "The Circle of Influence" (Stephen R. Covey), and the next instalment of The Artful Learning Lab where we'll look at goal-setting and action-planning. I'm also working on some formatting changes to the blog, adding more information about myself and the work I do. Until we meet again...