It can be hell in the hallway

Photo Credit: giovanni_cardona Flickr via Compfight cc


… one of my favourite sayings is “God doesn’t close one door without opening another, but it can be hell in the hallway.” My sister Hillary. You, our nation, our world is experiencing a black Friday. Our hope is that Sunday is coming. But it might well be hell for a while. – message to Hillary Clinton from her pastor.


Regardless of your religious/spiritual beliefs, talk about a punch to both the gut & the soul.


Never before in history have we been so close & yet so far apart.


It’s a matter of perspective.  For example, for the first time technology has the power to call together or wrench us apart.




Building alliances instead of adversaries

Building alliances instead of adversaries has been on my mind a lot as I’m thick in the middle of redeveloping & redesigning my business & my website (hang tight for fab new site coming in next few months).


We need tools to help us belong so we can breathe & then beam (showering our powerful gifts on the world). Yet world events (& some world leaders) conspire to entrench multiple, deep, intractable divides which has resulted in trauma for hundreds of thousands of people.


Most of us have experienced some form of trauma. It’s part of the topic of the next learning & development roundtable gathering where we’ll be talking about how to serve people who face multiple challenges. (Haven’t heard of the roundtable? Let me know you want to join here & I’ll add you to the mailing list. Know that we meet face to face & we Facebook live our meetings so you can join in virtually too).


The Body Keeps the Score

It’s also the focus of the book I’m most recently reading ‘The Body Keeps the Score; brain, mind & body in the healing of trauma.’ The author, Bessel Van Der Kolk, MD, says that research shows that children who were separated from their parents during the Blitz ‘fared much worse than children who remained with their parents & endured nights in bomb shelter & frightening images of destroyed building & dead people.’ If that’s not a case for the incredibly important nature of attachment I don’t know what is.


It’s a matter of perspective. There is a time to seek allies & there’s a time to challenge adversaries. There is a time to cocoon & a time to be bold of action. There’s a time to pull up the drawbridge & hunker down & there’s a time to open that same drawbridge & journey forth.


As we make our way through the ‘hell in the hallway’, let’s stay connected & attached. And let us follow Rainer Maria Rilke’s wise words:


Being patient towards all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves… live the questions now. Perhaps you will gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.  – Letters to a young Poet


And speaking of questions, take action & uncover some wicked questions.


What are wicked questions? Questions that are designed to increase innovation & uncover assumptions. Here’s an example: in an effort to decrease the rate of drinking & driving a group asked themselves how they could increase the same. That wicked question led to the invention of a machine that was installed in bars that simulated your eyesight after 1, 2, 3 etc. drinks. Et voila- drinking & driving decreased.


What’s a wicked question for our current hell in the hallway? Here’s one: How is it that we are simultaneously unique individuals, part of cultural groups & universal in our humanity?


Need some more examples? Here are 6 wicked questions every leader must ask by Doug Williamson (additional notes by me):

  1. Are We Really Clear Headed? Hot tempers can get the best of us. The situation will look different depending on how you’re feeling in the moment.


  1. Are We Using The Right Lens? As the creator of Life Lenses™ this is one of my favourites – take in the view from the balcony (Mountain Life Lens™) AND the dance floor (Carrot Life Lens™).


  1. Have We Been Totally Honest? Self-deception is deceptively easy (pun intended). Check out your musings with a variety of diverse colleagues & friends.


  1. Has Our Culture Evolved With The Times? Take some time to examine your work culture, your family culture etc. & how it’s influencing your thoughts & behaviour. And know that the best way to learn more about your own culture is to immerse yourself in another.


  1. Have We Banished Complacency? Hang out in your head & reflect, then get up off the couch & take action. Rinse. Repeat.


  1. Are We Breaking New Ground? Check out my creativity assessment if you need to amp yours up.



So while “God doesn’t close one door without opening another … it can be hell in the hallway.” If you find yourself in said hallway, seek connections & attachment, pay attention to trauma & its effects & ask yourself some wicked questions.



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ICTs for you from my eLearning Africa workshop – 3 rules & 3×3 tools


‘Are you on the beach?’ my partner asked me. ‘I don’t know,’ I replied, ‘it’s dark & I can’t see.’


I was newly landed in Mauritius, a tiny speck of an island off the east coast of Africa. The evening opening reception for the eLearning Africa 2017 conference was kicking off, where I’d present my workshop on Wrestling ICTs to serve community & learning while increasing ease & efficiency (see below where I share my free ICTs resources).


The next morning my jaw dropped as I could see what was cloaked in inky darkness the night before. I breathed in the salty air that wafted through the palm leaves & watched the waves break over the natural reef that surrounds Mauritius to keep out the sharks & make swimming safe. The conference was right beside the ocean on a startling white strip of beach.


Back to ICTs though. In our fast paced technology laden world, ICTs (information communication technology which includes social media), can often inundate & overwhelm us.  Do you sometimes feel like it’s obvious to everyone but you?  Can you relate to this adorable toddler?


There is no lack of technology tools, in fact the ever-increasing number of ICT tools can easily be overwhelming. If you’ve ever disappeared down the rabbit hole of time sucking tech, only to emerge bewildered, confused &/or frustrated then this is for you.


I get your ICT overwhelm. I get your ICT pain.


If you’ve read some of my recent blog posts you’ll know I’ve had some significant health issues. I’ve always been a fan of interesting ICTs but a silver lining from my health issues, as I wasn’t able to type or write for months this year, has been trying out adaptive technologies for the first time.


Example #1: Oh Dragon dictation app how I love thee (a free app that transcribes your voice so you can email etc. with ease).


Example #2: After some 30 decades of using my beloved daytimer, with not being able to write or type for months, I’m now firmly digital. Hello Google calendar.


Forging ahead, in my workshop we looked at wrestling back control for how to use ICTs to:


  • Listen & engage
  • Learn & teach
  • Increase your ease & efficiency



But before we dive into some ICTs tools I invite you to follow 3 rules for preventing migraines & wrestling ICTs successfully:


1. Have faith in yourself, you got this!


Beware the voice in your head that tells you you’re not smart enough, that you can’t do this, that you’re dumb. If you hear that voice simply brandish an imaginary feather duster & dust away that uninvited guest.


2. Be in charge – take the reigns


Instead of ICTs controlling you, take charge. Put yourself in the drivers seat & take those reigns.


3. Make room for the curve (the learning curve that is; give yourself time to learn)


Anything kind of learning, especially learning about ICTs, requires a learning curve. Give yourself space, time & patience to learn. If you expect it to take a bit before you’re smooth sailing if/when you hit a bump in your learning you’ll get over it faster.


Once you have the rules under your belt identify one work-related pain points (areas that are causing frustration &/or lack of productivity) that technology can help relieve.


Not sure what I mean by pain? Here are some examples:

  • You need to do research but have no time
  • You need to get input for a project but you’re overwhelmed
  • You’re confused about who on your team is where doing what & how to connect team members up
  • You’re overwhelmed by data & need to do analysis quick so you can share (or you want to pick up on trends or start a discussion)
  • You’re fearful of your data being boring & ignored
  • You’re scared you might inadvertently use photos for a presentation, report or newsletter that you aren’t authorized to use
  • You’re drooling over infographics but overwhelmed how to make them for your own use
  • Ack! You need help with your blender brain (capturing, storing, sharing information & ideas)


Now for your ICTs goodies

Check out 3 example tools for each of the 3 tool types (tools for listening / learning / ease & efficiency) (that’s 9 tools for you math whizzes). Hint: there’s a tool for each of the pain points listed above. Sweet pain relief is on the way.

All you have to do is download my worksheet, which gives examples of pain points & easy, free tools that can help. And keeners can download my PowerPoint deck here too.

So instead of feeling pain when it comes to ICTs learn how to identify your pain point(s) & use technology as an effective, efficient balm, so you can get on with your work & your life.

Let me know which ICTs pain point you face most & which tool(s) you’ve tried. I’d absolutely love to hear.


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2 alternative conflict resolution techniques I picked up at the UN

Photo Credit: Archives New Zealand Flickr via Compfight cc


√ Your blood pressure is boiling

√ You’re quietly simmering with your jaw aching from clenched teeth

√ Your heart is beating faster than a hummingbird’s wings

√ You’re as cool as ice while you plot your revenge &/or

√ Your every muscle is screaming run, as you plan your escape


These are but a few of possible responses you might have when conflict rears its head. All of which take away from strategizing & moving towards conflict resolution.


Speaking of resolution, you likely have one or two tried & true techniques. Call human resources? Call your mother? Arbitration? Mediation? Prayer?


Holly Weeks author of Failure to communicate; How conversations go wrong & what you can do to right them (I’ve written more about her work here & here) says we often view conflict resolution as a closed fan with only one or so go to technique. Our goal however should be to open the fan & discover a continuum of choices for resolution.


Recently I was in NYC at the UN’s General Assembly, a mecca of conflict & conflict resolution, where I picked up two surprising ways to move a conflict forward.


1. How to resolve a conflict when you can’t speak


When UN delegations are dealing with sticky situations & they’re not supposed to officially speak to each other (for political reasons) how can they possibly resolve their conflict?


In order to get on the General Assembly floor, high level delegations are exquisitely choreographed in their movements, to the tune of walk out of room, turn left, go 50 meters, turn right, take elevator on left to second floor, walk 105 meters etc. They make a Boy Scout orienteering hike look like kindergarten.


Back to delegations who aren’t supposed to officially speak to each other but have tricky conflicts to resolve. What’s a delegation to do?


They arrange an informal ‘brush by,’ which is where delegations will ‘accidentally’ run into each other while on the move. Quick snatches of time can be had for dialogue & dealing with conflict while passing in the hallway.


How you can use the concept of a brush by


When you have a conflict with someone & it’s ill advised to try to resolve the conflict in a formal setting, try an informal resolution.


As a mom to teen boys I know this all too well. Many a car ride, with both of us facing forward & not each other, have led to intriguing conversations about tough subjects.


Think about where you can broach tough subjects – for example the office water cooler (make sure it’s private), a stairwell, a coffee shop, on the way to work, a park etc.


2. The role of data in decision making & conflict resolution


While in New York I attended  Gender Equality, Data and Decision Making put on by Equal Measures 2030.

‘What do policymakers really think and know about gender equality?’

Equal Measures 2030 shared results of a study asking 109 policy makes in 5 countries about the state of women in the labour force, maternal deaths etc. which were shocking. Policy makers … the folks making the policies & the laws that influence these things … were woefully uninformed.


For example while 78% of men thought men & women are more equal now than 5 years ago, only 55% of women thought the same. Conversely 44% of women thought women & men were the same or less equal now than 5 years ago, only 19% of men thought the same (see the image below).


Talk about a data gap.


Even worse was the policy maker’s perception of maternal mortality. You can see in the graph below that 94% of responses were more than 20% off the correct answer. Oy!



The challenge in resolving the conflicts of maternal death, women in the labour force & other gender based issues becomes one of starting with the right data.   The results of this survey waves a giant flag for where to focus advocacy efforts – in this case education.


How you can use data in decision making & con res


Conflict makes us want to fight, flee or freeze, all of which are not ideal for well thought out conflict resolution processes but are ideal growing ground for assumption making, jumping to conclusions, posturing & narrowing one’s view, sometimes to the width of a pinprick.


Next time you’re in a conflict setting take multiple deep breaths & ask yourself what data you need to move forward. How can you gather more information? More facts? Who do you need to talk to in order to get a fuller picture? What research can you do to get more informed?


So open your fan & add a couple of new techniques. Brush by’s (‘accidentally’ & informally meeting up with the person you’re having conflict with) & pressing pause to gather more data are two tools that will help move a stuck, stalled conflict towards smooth sailing.


This week I’m in Mauritius, attending & presenting at the eLearning Africa conference. I’ll share some of my learnings next week’s post.


Until then, save yourself from banging your head against your computer screen in frustration when a tenacious conflict arises & first open your fan & look for more options to resolve a conflict (including gathering more info).



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Police, secret service agents & FBI are everywhere.

Photo Credit: dmott9 Flickr via Compfight cc

Police, secret service agents & FBI are everywhere. And those are only the ones I can see. I wonder how many snipers are stationed out of sight. Roads are blocked with huge cement bomb blast protectors. Traffic is cordoned off & diverted, while the streets are a colourful riot of every skin shade you can imagine, surpassed only by the array of wildly colourful & diverse garb that folks are wearing.


The last 3 weeks I’ve written about:


So it seems fitting that I close this mini-series while I’m in New York City, ½ a block from the United Nations General Assembly.


I’m not sure which side of the equation I fall on

I’m not sure which side of the equation I fall on – hopeful that world leaders can gather for dialogue & debate or despair that for such to happen, such an armed presence is required.


But then I think about the following:


Pessimistic or optimistic?

“When asked if I am pessimistic or optimistic about the future, my answer is always the same: If you look at the science about what is happening on earth and aren’t pessimistic, you don’t understand data.

“But if you meet the people who are working to restore this earth and the lives of the poor, and you aren’t optimistic, you haven’t got a pulse.

“What I see everywhere in the world are ordinary people willing to confront despair, power, and incalculable odds in order to restore some semblance of grace, justice, and beauty to this world.”

—Paul Hawken


And …

Our different faces

We all have “many different faces, and some are ugly and self-absorbed/narcissistic.  But each moment is another opportunity to love again, to ‘become’ more.  And as the times seem to grow increasingly fractious and fragile, I’m also seeing people dive into danger without a second thought to help someone else. I see great sorrow, loss and pain and I’m seeing so much light in the ruins of the world it takes my breath away.  Light like I’ve never seen before.  And as the struggle continues to keep going, I’m so grateful to witness the extraordinary and the hope that rises, that won’t be denied.” – An edited quote from a reader named Sam.


And ….

Medical emergency in the sky

I think about being jolted awake on the flight here to New York by passengers yelling. A young man was having a grand mal seizure. I rushed towards him & together with a wonderful Egyptian surgeon, we managed to stabilize him & keep him safe. As I yelled for help (for someone to get his id so we knew what language he spoke & to determine if he was carrying any health records, which he was) people were only too willing help. Many coloured hands helped to hold him steady as we all knelt together in cramped quarters so he didn’t hurt himself as he flailed about. I watched male airline staff quietly caress him & kiss him on his head after he was stable. The doctor & I stayed with him until we landed & the paramedics boarded & took over.


And ….


I revise my wonderings.

I am grateful that world leaders can gather together to work towards peace & justice for all.

Despite our wobbly world, it is a beautiful place, as are the people in it.

Including you dear reader. Including you.

So do take up the reigns of reflection & match them with action so goodness outweighs evil, inclusion becomes the norm & there is peace, justice & equity for all.



P.S. Take action:


  • How many times have you stood by when witnessing something that conflicted with your values because you didn’t know what to say, didn’t want to say the wrong thing, were embarrassed etc.?


  • Or how many times were you the victim of racism, sexism, gender based violence etc. & weren’t able to stand up or advocate yourself because it was too risky, or you didn’t know what to say?


  • Review my suggestions for how to reflect & then take action. Because the world needs you.



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Hang out in your head & reflect, then get up off the couch & take action. Rinse. Repeat.


There’s a time to speak & a time to listen.

There’s a time to reflect & a time to act


Last week was for reflection. Today’s for action.


Based on a traumatic incident I had while in the ICU, in the first of this 3 series post I talked about the power of praxis. Praxis is cycling back & forth between action & reflection. I use it when designing my workshops, but it’s also a great tool for wrapping your head around the many social changes our world needs.


Our world needs you to reflect on the batcrap craziness that is becoming normal.


And our world needs you take action on that batcrap craziness.


Yep you.


Last week I gave you some tools for reflection. On today’s menu is stepping up to bat & taking action.


Action aimed at effecting social change is:


  • Being an ally ~ be a voice & lend support to issues & causes where you hold more power & privilege. Make sure though that you have permission to intervene & refrain from giving advice. Check out this excellent interview with Parker Palmer about The Gift of Presence, The Perils of Advice. (Thanks to reader Jean for sending me this fab resource.)


  • Seeking allies when you need them because no one can shoulder the burdens of social change alone.


  • Speaking up, when you see something wrong, even when your gut is in a knot & your throat is thick with fear. Even when your words aren’t cooperating or coming easily …. say … something. Because ‘our lives begin and end the day we become silent about the things that matter.’ –Martin Luther King paraphrased.



Need some more specific ways to take action?


  • No one is born sexist or racist. This stuff is learned. Start early. When my kids were little I made a point of reading them social change books. Here’s a partial list. (As my ‘babies’ are now 15 & 20 these books are now classics. I’d love to hear updates if you have some.)


  • Not sure what to say when you witness a racist incident? Because silence is bad as approval Films for Action recommends these steps: stand beside & assist the victim (to regain their composure, get them water etc.), film & report the incident, & tackle the culture of racism.




  • If you have a life partner, consider what you call them. I’ve referred to my husband as my partner for years. It’s a small way I can be an ally in the fight against homophobia. It works. After an all day workshop I had one older woman come up to me & say ‘Dear, are you gay? We’ve been wondering all day.’ It was a fabulous opportunity to do some awareness raising.


  • Having a hard time wrapping your head around all the hullaballoo around mental health, another area that’s rife with judgement? Read Daniel Smith’s Monkey Mind: A Memoir of Anxiety. It’s a graphic read & front row seat to what it’s like to suffer from a significant mental health issue.


  • Is religious tolerance & acceptance your thing? Consider getting this bumper sticker that takes pride of place on my car. For a bunch of complicated reasons, my kids have gone to an evangelical Christian school here in Kenya. We are neither evangelical nor Christian. And while the school has been fabulous in many ways, religious intolerance has reared its head. My bumper sticker is a simple way to get folks thinking. And it hasn’t been torn off like one I had on my car decades ago, which was ‘women are natural born leaders, you’re following one now.’


There’s so much batcrap craziness in the world right now, simply pick an issue that calls your curiousity & get going.


Remember our recipe: action + reflection = praxis & social change. Hang out in your head & reflect, then get up off the couch & take action. Rinse. Repeat.


And when you need some inspiration? Remember this excerpt from Good Bones, Maggie Smith


Any decent realtor,

walking you through a real shithole, chirps on

about good bones: This place could be beautiful,

right? You could make this place beautiful.


This place, our world, needs you, so get going to restore, uncover & create beauty.

Stay tuned for next week’s post where I close the 3 part series with some final thoughts.

And do let me know by leaving a comment below:

  • which of the above you tried &/or
  • what issue you’re most called to act on & how

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There’s a time to tell your own story & a time to hear others

There’s a time to speak & a time to listen,

There’s a time to tell your own story & a time to hear others,

There’s a time to take a break because you can & a time to take a break because you have to,

There’s a time to reflect & a time to act.


Today’s a day to reflect.


Based on an incident with a nurse while I was in ICU, last week I asked you to gird your loins as we dive in together to tackle issues like racism & sexism.  I described 4 ways to frame your thoughts while doing so. And I explained the concept of praxis- constantly cycling back & forth between action & reflection as a way to move through tough issues.


Today let’s dive into the reflection part of praxis (next week we’ll focus on action).


Start by thinking about your power & privilege – how much of it do you or don’t you have & what does that mean?


Power & privilege is reflected in things like:


  • Whether you are likely to be followed by security when shopping simply because of the colour of your skin (racial privilege)
  • The ease or difficulty in getting a loan (socio-economic privilege)
  • If you can read food labels & other daily items without problems (literacy privilege)
  • If you’ve ever been a victim of mansplaining  (gender privilege)
  • Whether you’ve experienced mental health issues due to gender based violence (mental health privilege)
  • If you can marry the partner of your choice &/or show public displays of affection without fear of retribution, judgment or violence (sexual orientation privilege)


I’m a mzungu (white person) living in Kenya. I have waaaaaay more (unearned) privilege than the average Kenyan citizen. For example I drive a car with diplomatic plates, I have multiple degrees & have house help. And on the other side of power & privilege I’ve been a victim of gender based violence so extreme it resulted in a severe case of PTSD years ago.


Each person’s access to power & privilege will be mixed & unique.


I encourage you to reflect on your own mix. Here are some resources to do just that:



Hard stuff. And if you need some motivation in terms of getting out of a box (boxed in thinking), here’s a funny resource to help you do just that (& yup, being able to take a break is a sign of privilege).


Til next week dear one, where I’ll write about ways to take action after all that reflecting.


Your turn:

  • check out the links above & let me know what you think.  I’ll be waiting & reflecting.

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I was okay until I wasn’t. Reflections from the intensive care unit.

My home for a week

I was okay until I wasn’t. As I was rushed to emergency I stared at the ambulance ceiling, scared & confused. I thought I’d had the flu yet a week in intensive care later, I was treated for kidney & blood infections. My blood had become poisoned.


Fast forward. I’ve composed this post to you a million times in my head while in my hospital bed (that’s me above). Now that I’m out & mostly recovered I can finally settle in to write it.


I have a phobia of needles. I’ve been known to pass out when having one. That’s why when the male nurse startled me awake in the middle of the night saying he had to give me one, I was on full alert. I didn’t understand why & told him no 3 times.


He ignored me & lifted up my hospital gown to give me the injection in my stomach. On his way out he chuckled & said ‘next time I’ll have to sneak up on you.’


I spent the rest of the night humiliated & terrified. I didn’t press the call button for fear he’d answer, rather I’d wait until I could see another nurse walking by & I’d ask her for help.


We’ve lost our way in the world.

This is a small example. Zoom out & sexism, gender based violence, racism, ageism, homophobia, discrimination against people with disabilities, poverty & environmental issues are all rampant. At times it seems like we’re headed nowhere good. The distance between us growing. Violence is often the answer, no matter the question.


And yet …


Let’s find a new path

We can make choices. We have agency. Beauty & kindness exist in parallel to the violence & discrimination. It’s up to us to make a difference & increase the former while addressing the latter.


As a professional trainer, I create workshops using praxis, which simply means continuously alternating between reflection & action. Praxis can also be a path to effective social change.


Reflection (thinking, theory) + Action (practice, application) = Praxis


One without the other (action & reflection) is ineffective & inefficient.


Reflection without action is unapplied learning. Learning doesn’t leave the room.


Action without reflection is impulsive, reactionary & risky. It’s a flurry of go go go, do do do without any thought.


This is the first of 3 posts. Next week is a post on reflection; some tips on how to get your mind around issues like sexism, racism & homophobia. The third one will be how to take action.


Tidbits to ponder when tackling tough issues

In the meantime here are some tidbits to ponder when thinking about stirring, controversial topics. Think of them as ways to frame your thoughts. Because it’s tough & tender to delve into:


  • Know that we’re all in this together, even though the dividing lines can seem impenetrable.

Sunlight looks a little different on this wall
than it does on that wall
and a lot different on this other one,
but it is still one light. ~ Rumi





In short the world can suck. It’s easy to get discouraged &/or overwhelmed.

But I have a better plan. Wrap your head around the tidbits above (we’re all in this together, watch your judgment, don’t diminish, life people up & figure out the difference between haters & constructive criticizers) & gird your loins for next week when I share some tips on how to reflect on this world gone mad in order to tackle tough issues like racism, sexism etc.


Now please excuse me as I edit the letter I’m writing to the hospital about my incident with the nurse.


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Identity – yours, mine, ours & his … 6 ways


Have you ever walked into a meeting feeling super confident, competent, on top of the world, and ready and raring to get down to business?

And have you ever walked into a meeting feeling like you don’t belong, like you don’t know what you’re doing, like you’re an imposter and someone’s going to find out any second and kick you out?

Likely you’ve done both. Yet how can that be?

Perceptions, of our self and others, go to the heart of our identity.

Not only can how we see ourselves radically change but also, how other people see us can change as well.  (And sometimes the two never shall meet – our perception of our self and someone else’s perception of us.)

And identity is a funny thing, it’s fluid and highly dependent on context – who’s doing the ‘identifying.’

When I’m doing training workshops about culture I often stand at the front of the room and ask people ‘what do you see when you looking at me?’

The results have been astonishing everything from a hockey fan to someone who loves to iron clothes. I am emphatically neither of those things (despite being a proud Canadian). My idea of ironing is wetting down a piece of clothing, smoothing it out with my hands  and hanging it up to dry in the shower.


Identity – yours, mine, ours

That’s why this social experiment caught my eye. Six photographers, one subject, six different perspectives.

The catch was that each photographer was told something vastly different about the person they were photographing, even though the subject was the same for each photographer.

Here was their brief about who they were photographing:

  • Self-made millionaire
  • Saved someone’s life
  • Ex inmate
  • Commercial fisherman
  • Psychic
  • Former alcoholic

Take a few minutes and watch the video above that recounts the experience. And look at the resulting photos below.

‘A photograph is shaped more by the person behind the camera then by what’s in front of it’ …

…says Canon who created the experiment.

No one sees you like you. Yet who’s the author of that perspective? Here are some things about your identity that may shift according to how you’re feeling, where you are, who you’re with and a multitude of other things:

  • How smart do you feel?
  • How do you feel about your body?
  • How do you feel about your role as _______ (fill in the blank eg parent, partner, worker, boss, sister, brother, community volunteer)?
  • Do you have lots in common with the other people in the room or not?


So what does it all mean?

Remembering that questions of identity and perspective are fluid and changeable helps.  And realizing that especially when you’re feeling frumpy, grumpy and like an imposter, your identity can be a matter of the mind. When the (negative) self-talk is all in your head, be deliberate and shoo away that uninvited guest.










Life Saver





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Give me constraints, give me creativity

Photo Credit: jeschnotes Flickr via Compfight cc


If someone challenged you to write a book using only 50 words, could you do it? How creative do you think you could be?  That’s just what Theodore Geisel did when his editor bet him that he couldn’t write a children’s book using just 50 words.

Can you guess which book was the result? None other than the epic ‘Green eggs and ham,’ authored by Theodore who’s better known as Dr. Seuss.

Catrinel Haught Tromp, a psychologist, has dubbed this the ‘Green eggs and ham’ hypothesis of  creativity. The idea is that being faced with boundaries or limits can result in more creative thinking not less.

I’ve had a lot of time to think about limits due to my recent elbow surgery. I’ve not been able to type or write for about three months now. While it certainly has been frustrating & has caused me to want to tear my hair out at times, it’s also been strangely illuminating.

Here are some things that I’ve discovered based on my recent constraints:

  1. Technology: I’m using tech in all new ways. Auto-dictation is a wonderful thing. In fact I’m dictating this post right now using an app called Dragon Dictation (while the desktop version is pricey, the app is free). I’d seen the little microphone at the bottom of my screen on my smartphone (another built-in type of automatic dictation) but I never knew how easy it could be to use it. I have my constraint to thank for that.

2. Sharing the love: I’ve taught so many people  how to use auto-dictation. It’s been fun to watch their eyebrows shoot up & hear their exclamations of glee at the ease & efficiency of it all.

3. Going beyond the obvious: I was using Siri quite a bit (the built in iPhone ‘intelligent assistant’) but my constraints of not being able to write has pushed me to find new ways to use her. Who knew that Siri could add? Now doing healthcare receipts each month is a snap when I just ask her to add up all the receipt totals. No more fussing with a calculator.


All in all I’m not at the point where I’m glad that I had to have surgery, but I am grateful for the new opportunities that my physical constraints brought about a la the Green eggs and ham’ hypothesis of  creativity.


How can you use constraints to amp up your creativity?

Specifically how can you:

1. Use technology to help you learn, get organized &/or communicate?

2. How can you share the love & spread your learning?

3. When you’re faced with a challenge, how can you go beyond the obvious solution & break out some creative thinking?


Let me know, I’d love to hear. I’m not going anywhere; while I’m waiting for my husband to help me put on some deodorant (which I’ve discovered definitely requires 2 hands), I’m getting a laugh or two from the mistakes that the  dictation sometimes makes. Who is speaking about Justin Bieber? Definitely not me, though that’s what the dictation software transcribed recently.


PS thanks so much to all you readers who have sent me kind notes with get well wishes. I appreciate each & everyone. You rock!


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Simon says … ssssh, be the last to speak


I saw Simon Sinek, author of ‘Start with why,’ speak at an event in New York City some time ago and found his messages incisive & compelling.

Here’s one of his latest.  Check out the 1 1/2  minute video below & my notes from his video also below.

‘Here’s the problem & here’s what I think, I’m interested your opinion, let’s go around the room’ is too late.

Why? Because it’s leading &  influences what people say next.

Same with if you agree with somebody don’t nod yes & if you disagree with somebody don’t nod no.

Why? Again because it’s leading &  influences what people say next.

Instead what should you do?

Learn to be the last to speak.

The skill to hold your opinion to yourself does two things:

1. It gives everybody else the feeling they’ve been heard, they’ve contributed.

2. You get the benefit of hearing what everyone else has to think before you render your opinion.

So sit back, listen & ask  questions so you can understand from where they’re speaking.

Important caveat

Can you identify the big hairy assumption that Simon is making?

He assumes that you’re in a position of leadership & people will not only listen to you but will wait for you to speak.

At any rate it’s still great advice.

So go for it! Ssssssh.  Be the last to speak.



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