Emmanuel Jal & Yogadishu; what’s fought in your mind & won in your heart?

The yoga matts all ready for us

Yoga matts, each with a patterned pillow, were laid out in rows, which made the room look like a wildly colourful game of tic tac toe. My stomach bumped up against my ribs as I settled my nerves. I’m used to doing yoga at home in private, but I was there to see the world premier of the documentary Yogadishu, the extraordinary story of Ilwad Elman’s work in Somalia.

Locally made pillows … that we got to take home (thanks to Lululemon). The light in me shines the light in you.

Thanks to the Africa Yoga Project before the film there was yoga. My friend Emmanuel Jal, an encyclopedia of stories, a former child soldier, now a peace activist, artist & entrepreneur led us in his trademark ‘Y.A.Y.A.’ We alternated some easy Yoga poses with some hip swaying, heart enlarging African dance moves & then repeated (hence Y.A.Y.A.).

Ilwad, a Canadian/Somali peace activist, had set out to address some of the raging conflict in Somalia by teaching yoga to youth & thereby using yoga to help trauma survivors. Yogadishu was her story – with achingly beautiful sweeping vistas of startling white beaches, whose waves tickled the toes of kids doing yoga. You can see a short clip here.

Jal spoke eloquently afterwards, as usual with his deceptively quiet voice telling powerful stories. He told us that “battles are fought in the mind & won in your heart. Your issues live in your tissues. … Who owns your mind? Anxiety? Fear? Worry?”

Can you relate?


What battles are fought in your mind? What wins your heart?

What wins our hearts are stories.

Stories are our secret weapon. Marsha Shandur, storytelling great, goes so far as to say they help defeat evil.

Did you know that video will make up 79% of global traffic by 2020 (Cisco)? That’s a whole lotta video, which is why I’m delighted to combine storytelling & video by having Nathaniel Cy, professional videographer, come & share his tips & tricks tomorrow.

Please join us …

… for my monthly learning & development roundtable where professional videographer Nathaniel Cy will give an interactive workshop on How to tell your story through video for people who don’t know where to start. It’s free & easy. Simply join at the link about at 10am EAT (if you’re not in East Africa, click here to convert to your time zone). And if that time doesn’t work for you, no worries you can always watch the video later as we’ll record it.

That’s Jal, my hubbie & me at a reception I hosted after Yogadishu.

Now back to our story …

As I heard the strains of ‘We Want Peace’ reaching me at the UN here in Nairobi, I was dismayed. I was busy meeting with someone, but that was my favourite Emmanuel Jal song he was performing live. The sun had set for the day, after a long day of meetings.

I said in a rush that I couldn’t possibly meet now because we couldn’t miss the song & we had to dance. I grabbed their hand & together we ran down the stairs to the dance floor.

I don’t remember the facts of the conference that had been happening but I do remember hope bubbling up as people from all over the world danced together & listened to Jal, who’d triumphed over all attempts to make him into a mindless, heartless killing machine & who sang about peace. Because don’t we all want that.

See what I mean below– it’s not possible to sit still. Get up & dance (or at least wiggle on your chair).

That’s the power of story. Please join us tomorrow to find out more.

P.S. And stay tuned for a whole new look for my newsletter very soon. My new website, with all it’s ways to get engaged, is almost ready. I’m so looking forward to sharing it with you.


Annnnnnnd take action



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How you can use storytelling to defeat evil from Storytelling Master Marsha Shandur

Photo Credit: KidL92 Flickr via Compfight cc


As my Nana’s jewelry slid through my little girl fingers, it felt cool to the touch but heavy with memories. I felt a jittery excitement whirling around in the pit of my stomach in getting to explore her jewelry box.


That’s one small example of master storytelling coach Marsha Shandur’s memory scavenger work with me. We originally met at a Camp Good Life Project (aka summer camp for creative souls) & then I hired her to help me craft the story behind my Life Lenses™ work.


Given this month’s Learning & Development Roundtable (June 22nd) theme of storytelling, I asked Marsha to share her top tips & insider’s advice on all things storytelling with you.


Q: Why is storytelling so important these days?


Why not, is the question.

Study after study has shown that we base our decisions on our emotions (then reverse-engineer to justify them with our intellect). And storytelling is one of the quickest ways to affect people’s emotions.

Telling stories is one of the ways we decide almost instantly if we like someone or not. It’s a fast-track to telling someone a lot about your personality. So if you want to find your people, and have them like you? You need to tell stories.

Storytelling affects completely different parts of the brain than facts. And when you tell a story live, your brain gets in sync with your listener’s brain. And if you tell stories well (see below), your reader or listener’s brain releases dopamine – a reward, which also helps with information processing and memory retention – and oxytocin – which helps with bonding and trust.



So if you want to be remembered, if you want to be understood by the person you’re speaking or writing to, and if you want to create connection and trust: TELL STORIES.

Q: I’m guessing you hear “but I’m not a storyteller” a lot. How do you deal with that (& other ahem, excuses)?

The biggest myth about storytelling is that you ‘have the gift’ or ‘you don’t’. It is absolutely a LEARNED SKILL with a set of rules you can follow. That’s why we all know that one person who could tell any story and be fascinating, and we’ve all been stuck at a party with that other person who we’re sure did something interesting, but dear gods, when will their story end. The former is using the rules, the latter is not.

In five years of running my live storytelling show, True Stories Toronto, and with a two year waiting list to tell, I have never turned away a single storyteller.

You can do this. I promise you.


Q: Okay you got us, where do we start?

Here: yesyesmarsha.com/storytips

Or if you don’t have time to click: stop thinking about narrative and start thinking about action scenes, like in a movie. Ask yourself these two questions, over and over:

1. What did it look like?
2. How did I feel?

Q: What are the top 3 things you’ve learned as storytelling coach?

1. Storytelling makes people you don’t know feel like they’re your friend and they want to follow you/your cause

2. With practise, effort and a willingness to, absolutely anybody can learn to be a great storyteller

3. We all walk around, all day every day, thinking that everyone else has their sh*t together, and *I’m the only who doesn’t*. Telling stories with emotion shows people that it’s ok not to be perfect, defeats shame and builds empathy.


Given that lack of empathy is the root of all evil, telling stories DEFEATS EVIL.


Q: Sounds awesome. Where should we go if we need help / more info?

  • yesyesmarsha.com/blog
  • Try this exercise. Next time you’re telling a story, include the answer to the question,

How did you feel?

Or next time someone is telling you a story, ask them the same question. Then see how much more you enjoy the experience.


Annnnnnnd take action




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Before you call the cops …


I know what I know & I don’t know what I don’t know.


For example, I know what it’s like to be a white woman. I don’t know what it’s like to be a black man.


But this amazingly poignant, utterly captivating video will give you some powerful insights (if being a black man isn’t your reality).


Do yourself a favour & watch Before You Call The Cops.



It’s by Tyler Merritt, a stand up comedian from Nashville, Tennessee who …

  • hates spiders and bananas
  • is a vegetarian
  • can recite every word from the musical “Oklahoma!”
  • has never been to jail
  • has never owned a gun &
  • hates “that anyone at all might possibly be afraid of me.”


In today’s climate …


Where spewing venom against people we don’t know is common

Where we quickly dehumanize, distance & discredit

And we don’t feel recognize the poisonous effects that same venom has on our very own souls


Tyler’s video is a wake up call

Both a balm & blast to our consciousness

Instead of backing away from difference

Let’s lean in




Annnnnnnd take action




  • Grab a coffee & a colleague & talk about how equity is or isn’t addressed in your organization (feel free to borrow some tips from last week’s blog post).


  • Didn’t get a chance to join us for Fiona Jarvis, Canadian High Commission, recent roundtable session on Making Decisions in High Stake Situations? Don’t get your knickers in a knot – you can access the video here.



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Fur balls, fairness, equity & you

‘But that’s not fair!’ was a frequent refrain of mine when I was a child.


I was the oldest of 3 & the only girl. I noticed how I was treated differently than my brothers were.  So I laughed extra long & loud when I saw this monkey’s reaction to an unfair situation.


At first, getting pieces of cucumber is fine for the fur ball …. when her buddy is getting the same. However when her buddy gets grapes, well, let’s just say she’s far from pleased.


Take a look at this video clip & see for yourself..

Today, when I’m teaching team building workshops – how to help teams work better together – the issues of equality frequently comes up.


What’s one mark of a high performing team?

A mark of a high performing team is understanding the difference between equality & equity.

Equality is treating everyone the same. Sounds good in principle but if it means expecting an elephant to climb a tree like a monkey, we’re in trouble.

Equity is acknowledging differences & treating everyone fairly.

‘When Everyone Is Different, Fairness and Success Also Differs’, saysAmy Sun from Everyday Feminism.


Like the monkey in the video, teams watch how members are treated.

 And it makes a BIG difference.

Professor Dave Ulrich’s research shows that for the NBA, World Cup & Stanley Cup, a surprisingly low 20% of the top scorers are also on the winning team.

How many of the 20 “Best Actor/ Best Actress” Academy Award winners in the last ten years were also in the “Best Picture” for that year?

You guessed it, only 20%.


How this relates to your team

The good news?  Dave says that a strong organizational culture lifts up those that may not inherently be strong performers.  If you have a healthy organizational culture and high performers you’re riding the wave.

The bad news?  Grab your life jackets, it’s sink or swim time because a negative organizational culture, also brings down normally high performers. 

And bringing it full circle, an important part of that organizational culture is how people are treated.

Think about how your team members are treated. Is equity a part of the equation? If not, think about how to plant some seeds & add it.

Think about things like:

  • New parents with young kids (Oh how I remember the ‘daycare dash’ – madly trying to reach the daycare on time to pick up my kiddos at the end of a long day)
  • Sick or disabled staff or staff with sick, disabled or special needs kids
  • Sandwich staff (those taking care of elderly parents & young kids)
  • Including staff’s religious/spiritual needs (for example syncing break times with prayer times)
  • Staff of colour (how reperesentative are the images in your marketing is a simple place to start)
  • Women (I just watched I am not an easy man, a French film where gender roles are completely reversed. Such a great mind bender.)
  • LGBTQI staff (the UN here in Nairobi celebrated the International Day Against Homophobia, Transpohobia & Biphobia for the first time ever)
  • Staff who may have literacy issues


Our desire to be treated equally is built in. With a little more work we can treat folks equitably. Strong teams & healthy organizational cultures sit up & take notice. Just like our other furry friends.


Annnnnnnd take action


  • Grab a coffee with a co-worker & talk about how equity is or isn’t addressed in your organization.
  • Check out my cultural elements worksheet & map your own culture – above & below the water line from last week’s post. It can help you identify some equity issues that may be hiding.
  • Didn’t get a chance to join us for Fiona Jarvis, Canadian High Commission, recent roundtable session on Making Decisions in High Stake Situations? Don’t get your knickers in a knot – you can access the video here (scroll down to the May 2018 meeting resources).
  • Find out more about what drives you by taking this 4 question motivation assessment I designed based on Nat Geo’s research.



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What do you carry (11 cabbages & a grudge against your father for never coming back?)

My attention is always caught by creativity; because it’s a great springboard to unusual ways of thinking & problem solving. This cab driver’s sign is a great example & got me thinking.


What do you carry?


The things we carry tell stories. They serve up memories from the past & memories yet to be made.


There’s the obvious ones – the things you carry in your pocket, purse or wallet.


If you were to peek into my purse you’d find a 5 Ringgit bill leftover from a trip to Malaysia (about $1.25 USD) & both a Canadian & a Kenyan driver’s license (where my age is listed as ‘over 18’).


What about you? Is there anything in your purse, pocket or wallet that would surprise people? Delight? Mystify?


What about the invisible things we carry.


Like, for some of us, who carry the invisible backpack (“White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack”) by Peggy Mcintosh, which seems even more timely now then when she originally wrote it in 1989.


And for all of us, we carry our culture – the many elements of culture such as our beliefs, values, faith, gender roles, role of leisure, work, the aged & the young.


Some of these elements are permanent, some of them flex. Some are critical to our sense of self & others not so much. And some may be the same as the dominant society & some not.

Some of these cultural elements are visible. Some are not. Like an iceberg, only about 10% of culture is immediately apparent. The rest is under the water line so to speak.


We tend to assume though that wayyyyy more is visible than it actually is.


Interestingly, if we push this metaphor further, like two icebergs that look miles apart, sometimes people that seem the most far apart, can actually be similar when you look under the water line. Their icebergs are touching under the water but they don’t know it.


Culture is shorthand for those that share the same one. For example if I showed you my cultural iceberg & under the water line you could see OCD, what would you think?


Probably you’d think I had obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). Right?


Wrong. I have osteochondritis dessican, a weird condition where the blood doesn’t always flow properly o the end of the bones.


So what else is on my cultural iceberg? What else do I carry? I’m a woman, a daughter, a wife, a mom, a grand daughter, a big sister who misses her addicted brother, a seeker, a friend, and an entrepreneur. I’m a self-employed, survisor of abuse, ACOA (I’ll leave that one for you to figure out), urban dweller, Canadian living in Kenya, 52 year old human with feet & hips that love to dance, & a lover of my hard won wrinkles.

I’m the great grand daughter of my Granny – a tough prairie woman, who fell in love with the milkman who she exchanged love notes with via her purposely left behind mitten. They hatched top-secret plans to marry & during a community dance that took place during a wild snowstorm, she escaped the watchful eye of her brothers & fled to the train station to elope. Her father discovered she was missing & guessed what was happening. He called the stationmaster who not only ignored his request to not allow them to board but rather had mugs of steaming hot chocolate waiting for them as he whisked them off on the train to elope.


I carry these generational imprints.


What do you carry?


Check out this worksheet I developed that explains cultural elements & gives you your own cultural iceberg to fill in.


What you carry, & where you carry it (above or below the water line), may surprise you.


Annnnnnnd take action



  • Didn’t get a chance to join us for Fiona Jarvis, Canadian High Commission, recent roundtable session on Making Decisions in High Stake Situations? Don’t get your knickers in a knot – you can access the video here.





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How your tribal dynamics affects your decision making

Fiona Jarvis, from the Canadian High Commission, is this month’s Learning & Development roundtable speaker (the group I founded & facilitate for people interested in learning, training &/or teaching).   On Friday, May 18th she’ll guide us through an interactive workshop on Making Decisions in High Stake Situations (feel free to join us in person at the UN in Nairobi OR online).

With Fiona’s session in mind I was curious when I came across Alex Cequea’s video – Why Facts Don’t Convince People (and what you can do about it). Alex is the founder/CEO of Social Good Now & he makes some interesting points. So interesting in fact, that I had the video transcribed.


Feel free to:

  • Watch the video below
  • See my highlights &/or
  • Read the transcription.



Highlights: Why Facts Don’t Convince People (and what you can do about it)


  • Find out how your (yes your) decision making is influenced by:
    • Your emotions
    • Tribal dynamics
    • Your brain working to preserve your worldview
    • The surprising backfire effect
    • How empathy relates to ‘other’ through ‘instinctive dehumanization’


Most of all learn what you can do about it

  1. Look for & enhance similarities
  2. Consider you may be wrong



The video transcription:


If you’ve spent any time on Earth, you might have noticed that humans are not the most rational of creatures.

We make decisions based mostly on emotion instead of facts and a lot of times we’re guided by tribal instinct.

Part of the problem is that the human brain evolved to help us survive, and not necessarily to help us be factually accurate. So we often respond better to social and tribal dynamics than to intellectual analysis.

For example, if someone’s tribe believes that Obama is a secret Muslim born in Kenya, that person probably thinks the hard proof of his US birth certificate is fake. That conclusion is neither rational nor accurate. But from tribal perspective, it makes sense.

It’s safer to agree with your tribe and stay united ideologically, even if you are wrong about the facts, than to disagree and isolate yourself.

Another part of the problem is that our brain is constantly protecting our worldview and sense of identity.

So when our worldview is challenged, that same part of the brain that processes physical danger gets activated. This is why people sometimes react so aggressively to information that proves them wrong. And this is why it’s often so hard to have an intelligent political debate.

Several studies have also shown that there is a “backfire effect” that happens when people encounter facts that contradict their current beliefs. They actually become MORE convinced of their original ideas.

So fighting ignorance with facts is like fighting a grease fire with water. It seems like it should work, but it actually just makes the whole thing worse.

Lastly there’s the problem of lack of empathy. Several studies have found that when humans are divided into groups of any kind, we instinctively become less empathetic to members of “others” group.

That means that for survival’s sake, we might instinctively empathize less with other races, other nationalities and even other sports teams. This instinctive dehumanization of other groups is what makes things like slavery and genocide possible in our society.

So what can you do?

If you want someone to consider factual information that clashes with their beliefs, first you have to prevent their brain from seeing you as a personal threat.

So look for ways to identify the person as part of your tribe and you as part of theirs.

“Hey, we’re part of the same family.” “Hey, we’re both parents.”  “Hey, we both STILL play Pokémon Go.” Whatever.

Anything that communicates that you’re part of the same tribe. That’s the first step. Second consider the possibility that you may be wrong. Maybe the facts are not on your side. In which case, admitting it will help you model to the other person that it’s ok to be wrong.

I understand that none of this is easy or smooth. But we want to continue to function as a stable society, we have to learn to get past our own natural biases. Only when that happens will we be able to move forward towards a better future. Peace.

So there you have decision making in a nutshell.

Next time you find yourself having to make an important decision try sorting out the tribal aspects & look for & enhance similarities rather than differences. Plus consider that you might actually be wrong.

I know. It’s a tough pill to swallow but your ultimate decision may thank you for it.


Annnnnnnd take action

  • Join us in person OR online for Fiona Jarvis, Canadian High Commission, roundtable session on Friday, May 18th 10am to noon EAT – Making Decisions in High Stake Situations






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Do you lean in or out? How to tell & what to do about it


Are you geared to lean in or lean out? Move towards or away?


Here’s what I’m talking about, why it’s important for you to know & what you can do about it.


Did you know you’re in the business of change?


No matter what you do you’re likely at some point aiming to change behaviours. Or change attitudes. Or get people onboard with your idea.   Or work with a team towards delivering a product, a service.


They all involve change. And the more you understand if you tend to lean in or out, move towards or away, the more likely you’ll achieve the change you’re striving for.


You’ll have less of that roiling about feeling like your wheels are stuck. And more ease, efficiency & effectiveness.


(Plus you’ll likely have better communication, be able to include more diverse opinions & have less conflict.)


Think of it like a finely tailored Italian suit- custom made to fit you to a T. It’s the same with striving to reach your goals- you’re SO much more likely to get there if the path towards them is custom fit for you.


So back to my original questions.


In general do you tend to lean in or out?


Do you have an approach mentality or an avoidance mentality?


Research from ‘Your Personality Explained, Exploring the Science of Identity’ (National Geographic), tells us that people generally fall into one or the other – an approach or avoidance mode.


Here are two examples of each. See which ones resonate.



Goal: let’s say you want to loose some weight.

Which one of the scenarios below fits you the best?

  1. You decide to loose weight because you want to feel healthier, more fit. You want to experience new foods & have your clothing fit better. You want to be more comfortable, & be able to stay out longer on the dance floor. OR
  2. You decide to loose weight because you don’t want to have a stroke or a heart attack. You want to lower your blood pressure & not have high medical costs resulting from health problems caused by excess weight. You also don’t want to be made fun or dread having photos being taken of you.


Which scenario is more like you, 1 or 2?


Let’s try another one.


Let’s say you are getting your website redesigned.

Which one of the scenarios below is the best fit for you?

  1. You are super excited to have an aligned, strategic new look. You’re eager to use new ways to engage people through your website & use technology in cool, creative ways. You look forward to expressing your creativity through your website.
  2. You are getting your website redesigned because you don’t want to loose traffic with your old website or put people off by the old design. You don’t want to get left behind with technology.


Which scenario sounds more like you, 1 or 2?


If you picked number 1 in either of the scenarios, those are approach strategies.  Approach means that you’re more likely to lean in, to move towards positive outcomes.


If you picked number 2 in either of the scenarios, those describe avoidance strategies. Avoidance means that you’re more likely to be motivated by leaning back & avoiding negative consequences.

Spoiler alert; speaking of website redesigns,

I’m soooo close to unveiling my brand new look.

Stay tuned for a new look very soon.



Here’s the kicker.


Research tells us that approach motivations last longer & are more effective.


So if you tend to pick approach motivations, carry on.


And if tend to avoid, think of how you can turn your motivation into more of an approach.


With a better understanding of your lean in/approach or lean back/avoid motivation, you can more easily reach your goals because you can create customized ways to get there that fit you like a finely tailored Italian suit.


So go on, lean in & approach, because the world needs more of your gifts & talents.



Annnnnnnd take action




  • Take my grit assessment & find your GQ (grittiness quotient) to also help you understand what motivates you so you can continue customizing how you reach your goals.

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It’s been a tough week; here’s my response (& an interactive gift to you)


Last week I wrote about drive. And how, if you know which of the 6 different types of drives you respond to, you can customize your own way to achieve the goals you want.


One of the types of drives is affiliation, which got me thinking.


Draw close – pull up your chair & gather round.


This week has been tough. For me & some folks close to me.


Nagging health issues have had me strapped into several ominous machines while being injected & having my head in a vice with a Silence of the Lambs type mask over my face. All of which are not my idea of fun (though important caveat: I’m very grateful to have access to the tests).


If things have been tough, complicated, overwhelming &/or stressful for you too, here’s a quick pick you up.


Join me …

… in our very own dance party, to the tune of this uplifting song.

‘cause while things may be rough,

I have faith –

in you, in us & in this messy, complicated, beautiful world.


Have faith (if it’s a really sucky day, pretend if you have to) & know I’ve got your back & this tune for you.


And see you next week with the second way of finding out what drives you.



Annnnnnnd take action




  • And have faith.

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How to id & harness this powerful force that drives your everyday behaviour


Think of a goal – something you want to achieve? (And yes, I know goal setting isn’t a sexy topic & it can be confusing but hang in there because it’s important.)


Got one (a goal that is)?


Have you been slogging towards it? Feeling unsuccessful? Held back? Discouraged?


I may have your answer.


Think about what motivates you to achieve your goal.


Your level of & type of motivation is uber important because it will make a massive difference to your chances of reaching that goal.


So let’s match your goal setting to what drives you. If you do you’ll significantly up the chances of reaching your goal.


Plus it’s easy. Truly.


I’ll share two ways to find your motivation style; one in this week’s post & one in next week’s.


So back to the task at hand. Put that goal to the side for a minute while you ponder the next question.


What drives you?


Not sure? Take this 4 question motivation assessment I designed based on Nat Geo’s research.


“Learning about our drives- our motivations & strivings toward a goal – can help us understand what we want.  Although we don’t always recognize our drives, they are potent forces behind our everyday behaviour.” Your Personality Explained, exploring the science of identity, National Geographic.


If you know what drives you you can more easily reach your goals.


There are 6 key drives:


  1. Achievement


  1. Power


  1. Affiliation


  1. Autonomous Motives


  1. External Motives


  1. Future Focus


Need an example? Let’s take two – one on the professional front & one on the personal front.


Here are two examples of how you might proceed based on the 6 different drives. In each case I’ve used a different drive to illustrate how you might reach your goal.

Example A: professional – imagine you set a goal for yourself of changing careers


  1. Achievement: you conduct informational interviews with 6 power people in your field of interest.


  1. Power: you organize & lead a weekly group of people considering career changes to swap tips & advice.


  1. Affiliation: you find a volunteer opportunity in your field of choice.


  1. Autonomous Motives: you make a list of top companies in your new field & go for it – you start applying for jobs.


  1. External Motives: you check in closely with your community to look at the impact shifting careers would have.


  1. Future Focus: you discover there’s a big wage gap between men & women in your new field, so you write an article about it, advocating for change & pitch it to media outlets.


Example B: personal – imagine you set a goal for yourself of getting in better shape.


Here are some examples of working towards that goal using the 6 drives:


  1. Achievement: you find a highly rated app that lets you set your goals & your daily progress towards them.


  1. Power: you organize & lead a weekly (insert preferred exercise here) group.


  1. Affiliation: you bring together a group of close friends to discuss challenges & successes related to fitness & diet.


  1. Autonomous Motives: you make & follow your own exercise program.


  1. External Motives: you find a workout buddy to hold you accountable.


  1. Future Focus: you organize a weekly workout for inner city kids & take part yourself


Did you notice how different the means are depending on the drive? Imagine how much more successful you can be if you match your drives to your goal.


So about that goal you’re wanting to achieve for yourself; take the short motivation assessment I designed for you & once you get your (immediate) results – custom tailor your way to success.


Go for it! And let me know how it goes.


Annnnnnnd take action


  • I’m offering an online course called Working Better Together, where we’ll tackle issues like conflict & communication, in part to amp up our grit. It’s based on my work with more than 20,000 participants in & from 115 countries. Email me if you want to get more info laragan (@) rpsinc.ca


  • How gritty you are also affects your success in reaching your goals. Take the grit assessment I put together & find your GQ (grittiness quotient)




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Getting it on with GQ (but not the way you think)


There’s IQ, EQ (emotional intelligence) & now GQ (guts or grit quotient).


A little girl puts her nose to the table, eyes wandering everywhere but the fluffy marshmallow in front of her face. She’s part of the famous marshmallow experiment, which showed that kids that could delay gratification for double the treat, overall fared better later on in life.


Now it’s called grit. And having it is tied to all sorts of good stuff.


When you have grit it can help you reach your goals, sustain your attention & buckle down in order to blast off.


Tomorrow is a luxury without grit

Early on in my career I worked in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, Canada’s poorest postal code, & with street involved youth & youth in prison for committing sex crimes. I noticed that thinking about tomorrow was a luxury few could afford because today loomed too large in terms of addiction, violence etc. In other words it was a tough place for grit to call home.


It makes sense. Our school system is based on it. Study for years & get a degree (or 2 or 3) & you’ll earn more moola. It takes grit though to make those Monday 8am courses with a prof lecturing from notes so old they’re yellowed (not that I’m speaking from experience!).


So what is grit anyway?

Grit is:

  • firmness of mind or spirit, unyielding course in the face of hardship or danger
  • having backbone, fortitude, guts


So what’s the big deal? And why is grit an issue?


Grit – the ability to persist in working toward goals—is associated with all sorts of positive outcomes in life, from success in school to longevity on the job to steady personal relationships. (Your personality explained.)


Attention, attention

More than ever we have reasons for our attention to be drawn away from diligent, persistent, consistent focus. Enter the ping of your phone announcing a new text message or in my case the endearing yet ghastly daily call of the ibis birds that constantly fly by my office window. (Think of the sound a pig being swung around by its tail while on fire could make & you’ll start to get a sense of the racket they make.)


And even when we are able to pay attention our focus can be misplaced. We can easily put our attention in the wrong place.



We now live in an attention economy says  Matthew Crawford“Attention is a resource—a person has only so much of it.”


So do you have it, do you have enough grit to focus, pay attention & reach your vision?

Take this quick assessment, adapted from Your Personality Explained, exploring the science of identity, National Geographic.


How’d you do?


Need to amp up your grit? Here are some ways to do just that:

–      How to Banish Pinball Syndrome & Rock Your Pinball Wizard

–      Telling shiny objects apart from true illumination

–      Shiny Object Syndrome – why it’s hard to tell the difference between Styrofoam and gold

So go for it, get your GQ on. Because you deserve to make your vision a reality & reach your goals & grit will help you get there.


Annnnnnnd take action


  • I’m offering an online course called Working Better Together, where we’ll tackle issues like conflict & communication, in part to amp up our grit. It’s based on my work with more than 20,000 participants in & from 115 countries. Email me if you want to get more info laragan (@) rpsinc.ca


  • Great communication skills can help your grittiness. single.time this communication technique wins out over the actual words I’m saying. Do you know what it is? Listen to this 20 second clip & then listen to this one to see if you can figure it out & then find out more here.





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