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15 Days Until 2018 – Why Stones Are Heavy

Sometimes, when people talk about rocks and stones, I flip back to Frozen, where a bunch of stones rolled around and sang. They sang about how people need work. We’re not complete. We’re in progress. And that’s OK. 2018 is a time to get some momentum, but that doesn’t have to wait until January 1.

A few days ago, Vancouver’s Kaare Long tweeted the rich simplicity of Amelia Earhart:

It’s only our perception that deludes us into thinking we’re stuck, like a rock that can’t roll.

We can all roll. But we need to blow away the fog, or unstick ourselves from the muskeg of self-doubt, shame or self-attack. And we need a trigger.

When I started the Health and Wellness for Teachers workshop, I didn’t expect, for instance, a pressing need to spin it off into another Health and Wellness for Male Feminist Teachers workshop [title still to be streamlined, perhaps]. The eruptions in our world against male and white supremacy threaten to overturn the order we have known. That very entitled order. I welcome this. But there’s so much heavy lifting.

As we confront well-meaning men who push the empty #NotAllMen “defense” against demands for equality and justice, we need to find or create safe spaces for men to rebuild ourselves in positive images, not predatory or superior ones.

2018 means I’m ramping up the value of both Teachers workshops. But I didn’t wait for 2018 to begin to help many more teachers and male feminist teachers to create a world of real equality and liberation from all of our gender prisons.

Aren’t we all fixer uppers?

And you don’t have to figure out how to become a rolling stone 15 days from now. You can make a lot of progress in the next 15 days.

Stones are heavy. That makes them useful for being weighty, in place, for stability, so much can grow from a firm place.

Stones are heavy. When they move, they are mighty. They gain momentum and crash through old systems that need smashing.

And when the stones say we’re all fixer uppers, we need to listen to them.

And if you know any teachers and professors who need help with health and wellness and precarious work, send them to the link above. There is space for growth.

And we’re all a part of it!

16 Days Until 2018 – 1. Run Away; 2. Join Circus

It just made sense to take the kids to see Cirque du Soleil last night.

While today’s countdown to 2018 post won’t include an explanation about why I’m running away to join the circus next year, please do keep that sentiment in mind as we think about how we want to start next year.

It’s not true that organizations never hire process consultants when things are going well, because they do. But consultants are often at the front of leaders’ minds when there’s a crisis. Or one beginning to erupt.

Toxic personalities have an uncanny ability to freeze people. Leaders can ponder too long to avoid acting too fast, but then toxic behaviour can entrench.

By the time we reach adulthood we generally embrace a kind of social maturity where people treat each other with respect.

Generally.

The #MeToo movement, harrowing conversations about consent and rape and patriarchy, and #BlackLivesMatter are but a few examples of how “generally” can be a word to keep us all complacent, reminding those with privilege that things aren’t truly decaying right before our eyes.

But they are.

And it happens at work too. Corporations, government, non-profits, co-ops…it doesn’t matter. Where there are people, there will be anti-social personalities. Sexual predators who are experts at spotting and victimizing the vulnerable, and bullies whose power in adolescence continues to inspire them to, again, victimize the vulnerable. And, of course, others.

It does make us want to run away to join the circus.

But when organizations have crises and if leaders and people freeze and manifest inaction, someone needs to step up.

But we can’t live in the delusion. We can’t live in the mood where you’re going to pack your bag tonight to stow away on the circus train that leaves in the morning.

But instead of forever living in the toxic zone of teenage bullying and predatory behaviour, we need to embrace a different kind of childhood wonder. Like at the #Kurios.

The Band

Last night, the band was tight and soothing, and in sync with the rest of the cast. And sure, there is tension in a circus, what with superhumans defying gravity, with wires tethering them to the top of the tent. But there is tension at work as well. And we need a soundtrack, a backing band that creates a tone of stability DESPITE the ups and downs of tension. Our job in organizations is to ensure that people feel safe.

We sat very near the Cirque du Soleil superhighway last night. It was the one pole that everyone used when they were going to work at the top of the tent, or going up there or coming down. The crew and the anti-gravity personnel. Every single one of them walked to the bottom of the latter, attached their tether and ascended. Coming down everyone one touched the ground and transferred their tether to the pole.

When you have a safety net or a tether, you are free to risk more. I would often look up and see the crew in black at the top of the tent assembling a variety of gear and assisting the anti-gravity folks as they reached the sky or descended from it. Knowing you will not die when at work, allows for far more responsible risk-taking. Without a tether, the #1 thing on your mind is “don’t fall” [and do whatever work you can, but really, just…don’t…fall.]

Our job is to make work safe, with bedrock layers of stability. Toxic people are an existential threat to that. And in the circus, EVERYone works together so everyone is safe and soars. Often literally.

Don’t we deserve that too?

Lifting Each Other Up

We need to lift each other up.

Toxic people at work do their best to weaken others, often for their own enjoyment or to soothe their own personal weaknesses.

We cannot do great things alone. Our support networks and concentric circles of guidance and wisdom are always there, on the surface or buried in our souls.

At Kurios last night, we saw mutual interdependence dozens of times every minute. They are incapable of defeating gravity and normal human limitations without each other.

In our workplaces, we need to provide opportunities to lift each other up. Constantly We need to expect it of others and provide it ourselves.

And those of us in charge are responsible for ensuring not only the stability of the band, but the interdependence of the players. I don’t want to go into weakest link cliches but they’re real. And we all see them.

16 Days to 2018

So now you have 16 days to learn from Kurious.

We need to assess how strong is our base and how tight are our relationships. You can try to do this on January 2, but I think you should start thinking about that now.

And consultants, while knowing they’re often hired in crises, also know that they don’t get hired much in December.

But I want to challenge you to use this last week before everything becomes like a dotted line between Christmas and New Year’s. If you know your organization needs a tune up, make that decision and commitment now. Even to begin talking about a new direction with less toxicity and more stability.

We all know the first couple weeks back after the holidays are profoundly busy and scattering. It could be the end of January before you get around to addressing something you can do this week.

Be intentional, don’t be reactive.

Do you see what’s in that bell jar below?

It’s your future. It’s what 2018 wants to be.

You don’t have to run away to join the circus, but you can bring the intensity and rewards of the circus to where you work.

Pack your bag. You have 16 days left.

 

17 Days Until 2018 – Prioritizing Our People

Our people enrich us.

They’re our family or chosen family. Our work colleagues, or schemers and dreamers and calibrators and the precious folks who give us the WTF when we need a tune-up.

They inhabit the concentric circles of intimacies. We’re constantly entrenching our relationships with all of them. Either intentionally–I hope!–or inadvertently. I’m always a big fan of intentionality.

And we’re often promoting worthy people to a more inner circle and sometimes demoting people to an outer circle.

And we have mortal coils that join us to each of them. They are rich umbilicals that are thick or thin or frayed or metallic or glass, transparent or “complicated,” well-anchored on each end or not.

And these tethers keep us grounded, but can also fling us up into the air like a blanket toss, fearlessly because we’re still tethered to our people.

2018 approaching should be a time to draw out your concentric circles. Doing it over the next 17 days will help you take stock of all the people you’ve brought with you, who needs a promotion and who may need to step back a bit for your own mental/emotional health. You’ll know. And you can bring your circle drawing to everyone in your inner circle to get the wisdom and feedback that got them there in the first place.

Starting 2018 with intentionality means ensuring that we are getting all we need from our people, but reciprocally, it means making sure we are living up to all the ways we can be healing our people. These are the principles embedded in all the work that I do: organizational design and stakeholder engagement, Path Consulting, Health and Wellness for Teachers. There’s no room to do any of this without all these umbilicals in place.

Our goal isn’t to bring everyone into the first concentric circle. And we shouldn’t try to be in everyone else’s first circle. It’s not practical or wise.

But in our intimate relationships, our friendships, our colleagues, our co-conspirators, our workmates and schemers and dreamers: we can’t afford to take anyone for granted.

As we learn in this amazing Hands Free Mama piece:

I never had a trampoline growing up. I never had a summer trampoline sleepover. But that image is golden. It reminds us that the scope of connection available to us, is much broader than we often think.

For these 17 days left in 2017, please draw your concentric circles. They will help you cherish those you cannot lose, heal those who are too easily neglected, and pivot to the new year with a new vigor to enrich all you do because you have put your people first.

2018 will be so much richer for us all!

You don't have to be alone on your journey!

18 Days Until 2018 – Not Really Closing the Books

There are some nights, it’s like being in a cabin in the woods. Lots of snow, fireplace, and when you open the door there’s the silence and peace except for the sound of each snowflake landing on the already soft, white ground.
Almost imperceptible, but more certain when you close your eyes.
It’s in moments like this when we get the visions.
We are gifted with clarity.
We see that sometimes, tomorrow is just a blur from today. It’s not a distinct new day, but a continuation of today with just a different digit in the date.
Moving into 2018 shouldn’t be a beginning, or an end of this current year.

Not to rant against New Year’s Resolutions, but in my life now I’m feeling how important it is to note the continuity we carry with ourselves.
In 18 days we’ll be in a new year, but the progress we’ve made this year should merely keep flowing on January 1.
We don’t need to expect some grand change that by January 3, we feel the malaise of nothing PROFOUNDLY NEW engulfing us.
So join me in my slow snowy stroll into the new year.
I’m not ending a chapter or closing the books. I’m a going concern. So are you, and your paid work, and your vocation, and your volunteering and community involved, and your family [by blood and choice] and friends, and hopes and plans, and your awesome organization, non-profit, company or Grand Scheme, and your grander imaginings of far-away greatness that is really far less hypothetical than you think.

Over the next 18 days I’m going to be talking about how to stroll into the new year. With a strong light to guide the path.

And how my Path Consulting will manifest in the new year.
And my increasing obsession with geothermal energy. 🙂
And my Health and Wellness for Teachers workshops that have spawned the Health and Wellness for Male Feminist Teachers workshop, because…well, you’ve been paying attention too.
And the million metres I’m running before 2020, because Terry Fox.
And my work with social enterprises.
Sometimes, New Year’s Eve feels like an imminent car crash. A crash that doesn’t happen. We’re just waiting for it.
And that’s a distraction.

Don’t get caught up in all that.

Elsewhere I’ve written, “You’re walking across stones through a stream. The fog rolls in and it’s hard to see the Path. I’m here to help you continue. We blow away the fog, together.”

Let’s stroll into 2018 with focus and intentionality, as free of distraction and inflated expectations as we can, so we can notice those around us who need to lean on us. Because they’re out there. And you and I have lots to give.

Going Paperless, But Keeping “Paper”?

Chelsea’s sugar sheet swatchbook!

I’ve been so eager to go paperless for so long. I love books and BC’s value-added wood products, and toilet paper is pretty useful, but being a granola-eating tree-hugger means I’d love to keep the forests thick and wild.

And I recycle paper like a maniac. I’m NOT obsessive, but I really dig in.

But when I do need to print something–which is rare–I will use paper.

But not anymore. We are paperless now, but we are still using “paper.”

Here’s how.

It all started at a Sustainable Vancouver Meetup event in June. Its title was “How a family business puts sustainability front and centre.”

Minto Roy and Chelsea Gieschen came from Royal City Printers in New Westminster to talk about how as a multi-generational family printing company, they’ve…moved off of trees.

Instead, they use paper made from sugar cane. Sugar cane, yes, and actually what’s discarded when sugar is processed. I love it.

So I cruised by Royal Printers to pick up a box of printer paper, thereby saving half a tree. Did I mention that I love trees?

There is a sugar sheet swatchbook is available, for you to get a sense that there is a variety of paper stock available.

I’m going to put this in the category of “literally the least we can do” to start or continue making a difference with our environmental footprint.

So stop buying paper!

You’ll feel so good.

Just say “No Straws, Please” [There, That Wasn’t So Hard!]

With apologies to the companies around the world that make straws, we need to break up. Let me explain:

Plastic Oceans gets it. There are Texas-sized gyres of garbage floating around our oceans. That’s our fault. They’re not entirely comprised of straws, but just like sorting our recycling, saying “no straw please” when in restaurants may literally be the least we can do to combat our unhealthy relationship with plastic.

Do you know who gets it beyond Plastic Oceans? Vancouver’s new amazing, inspired social enterprise, Zero Waste Market.

The get it so much that they’re promoting tonight’s screening of A Plastic Ocean in Vancouver. And they’re demonstrating what makes them awesome as a market.

You can RSVP here, it’s free!

Ultimately, when people are harmonizing and optimizing their work-life-vocation-volunteering balance, which is the core of Path Consulting, it’s easy to skip the straws. It’s easy to align our working lives with our values.

And organizationally, when we have a pretty high bar for progressive values that improve the world, through a social enterprise or otherwise, it can be pretty simple to ensure our activities and our broad stakeholder relationships do more than just ensure sustainable economic activity!

It’s easy to be impressed with Zero Waste Market. I was last month. And you will be too.

Go see the screening tonight. And begin the trend among your people to make “no straw please” go viral!

I’m at ebStrategy.org.

Wonder Woman, Pregnant Women, Heroes and Equality

https://i1.wp.com/pbs.twimg.com/media/DBeZ6AaXsAA9WE0.jpg?resize=337%2C445&ssl=1This has been my week. Let’s make it everyone’s!

When we are developing our own expertise and counting all the people who’ve got our backs, and all our intentional and accidental mentors, proteges, heroes and anti-heroes…we need to keep in mind that we shouldn’t assume everyone else already knows what empowerment looks like.

Social Innovation Hub Inspiration, 5/5

GRAINWelcome to part 5 of 5!

Last Wednesday I spent the evening being rather impressed with a number of social enterprise groups at the Social Innovation Hub, run by UBC and Coast Capital Savings Credit Union.

In a world where it’s hard to pin down a non-cynical definition of “social enterprise,” Wednesday night was refreshingly simple. Each enterprise was deeply personable. Each had their story, a compelling narrative that resonated with the audience. Each knows that in the 21st century, we are increasingly more aware of the values inherent in our consumption. We gravitate towards those who share our values and away from those incapable of expressing values.

This week, I’m going to share with you the 5 groups who presented last week. I love what each of them is doing. And you likely will too!

Fifth up on Wednesday night was…

Who: EatGrain
What: Dry Goods For Fresh People. We bring a fresh approach to dry goods. All Canadian.
Web: https://www.eatgrain.ca/
Contact/Mailing List: https://www.eatgrain.ca/pages/contact
Twitter: https://twitter.com/eatgrain

Promo: Grain sources, sells and mills 100 per cent Canadian grains and beans, aiming to reconnect customers with the sources of their dry goods. GRAIN rejects conventional practices of processing, storage and distribution.

  1. Because family farms matter and it’s hard for us to individually get direct connection to those making our staples.
  2. We can’t raise the bar on improving the ingredients in our life without knowing more about sourcing, processing, storage and distribution.
  3. Because learning the stories of individual farmers expands our interconnected narratives.

And for context, below are my tweets and retweets from the night. Enjoy!

I’m at ebStrategy.org.

Social Innovation Hub Inspiration, 4/5

Welcome to part 4 of 5!

Last Wednesday I spent the evening being rather impressed with a number of social enterprise groups at the Social Innovation Hub, run by UBC and Coast Capital Savings Credit Union.

In a world where it’s hard to pin down a non-cynical definition of “social enterprise,” Wednesday night was refreshingly simple. Each enterprise was deeply personable. Each had their story, a compelling narrative that resonated with the audience. Each knows that in the 21st century, we are increasingly more aware of the values inherent in our consumption. We gravitate towards those who share our values and away from those incapable of expressing values.

This week, I’m going to share with you the 5 groups who presented last week. I love what each of them is doing. And you likely will too!

Fourth up on Wednesday night was…

Who: ChopValue
What: Because someone DID figure out what to do with all those used chopsticks!
Web: https://chopvalue.ca/
Contact/Mailing List: https://chopvalue.ca/contact/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ChopValue

Promo: ChopValue Manufacturing creates innovative composite materials using recycled chopsticks. Developed by Felix Böck a UBC PhD student in the Faculty of Forestry, ChopValue aims to remove more than 100,000 disposable chopsticks that are sent to Vancouver’s landfill every day in order to give urban waste a second chance.

  1. Clever replacements for waste are too rare. When one comes around, we need to embrace it.
  2. I’m not vain, but a custom-engraved, recycled chopstick yoga block sounds good to me, and as a gift too for my fellow yoga freaks.
  3. Their team is as creatively diverse as their ideas. I’ve always been a sucker for supporting BC’s value-added wood sector. This is just too easy! 🙂

And for context, below are my tweets and retweets from the night. Enjoy!

I’m at ebStrategy.org.

Social Innovation Hub Inspiration, 3/5

Welcome to part 3 of 5!

Last Wednesday I spent the evening being rather impressed with a number of social enterprise groups at the Social Innovation Hub, run by UBC and Coast Capital Savings Credit Union.

In a world where it’s hard to pin down a non-cynical definition of “social enterprise,” Wednesday night was refreshingly simple. Each enterprise was deeply personable. Each had their story, a compelling narrative that resonated with the audience. Each knows that in the 21st century, we are increasingly more aware of the values inherent in our consumption. We gravitate towards those who share our values and away from those incapable of expressing values.

This week, I’m going to share with you the 5 groups who presented last week. I love what each of them is doing. And you likely will too!

Third up on Wednesday night was…

Who: Quupe
What: Item lending? Life is better when you share it
Web: https://quupe.com
Contact/Mailing List: https://quupe.com/FAQ.html
Twitter: https://twitter.com/quupe_inc

Promo: Quupe (“koop”) is an online rental platform that provides users a way to rent things from their neighbours. Founded by four master’s students from the Centre for Digital Media, Quupe started with the realization that people have valuable things in their homes that sit around gathering dust, and now they want to get stuff out of storage and into the world, for everybody to own it.

  1. The iconic kayak bought one summer, used 8 times, then…dust, guilt, calculating how much you lose when you put it on Craigslist? This.
  2. For me, socializing the logistics and creating a structure to protect owners from damage…this is critical.
  3. Landfill, ugh.

And for context, below are my tweets and retweets from the night. Enjoy!

I’m at ebStrategy.org.