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.


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.

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://i0.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.

(In)secure: the Future of Working, A Tyee/SFU Joint

We're not in Kansas anymore!
We’re not in Kansas anymore!

(In)secure: the Future of Working, a Tyee/SFU joint on May 25 examined the nature of the precariat. I had many thoughts!

As individuals and organizations we need to become far more intentional about the nature of work, relationships, fulfillment and the social contract.

THAT is why I’m a Path Consultant and an Organizational Soul Consultant.

Here are my tweets from last night. Do they resonate with you? Then we need to talk. We need to build a game plan for you or your organization to make this a more intentional century for you. Plus, as an added bonus, you’ll have a real advantage over people who don’t really understand all this yet.

Call me. I’m at ebStrategy.org.

What Are Your Power Anthems?

Regardless of what you do, you are a brand.

Sure, this may sound weird, but with all your hats as employee, innovator, activist, volunteer, expert, mentor, and/or protege, you can’t be unintentional about how you present yourself, just letting others define your scope and relevance in the world.

So you have to manage your identity, integrity, expertise, excellence in all you do at work, among your people [friends, family] and in all your other vocations and passion activities. You are the CEO of the thing that is you. Just maybe without the massive salary and titanium parachute.

Companies have whole teams of people who stickhandle their brands. You have just you, and the people who support you, and those you support. But that’s OK because you’re already pretty good and managing your posture. We have all [perhaps sometimes just inadvertently] developed some skill here. But probably not enough.

And what about your organization? Your business, non-profit, world-changing activist crew, co-op, social/hobby group that enriches so many people’s lives. Organizations also have souls. They cannot be left to drift about. We need to be intentional, and that means finding music that reflects the greatness that comes from everyone’s shared energy, vision, passion and frankly, idealism.

So one of the things we need to do to solidify how awesome we are is designate our fight songs. Our anthems that invigorate us and help remind us that we are pretty tremendous.

I was reminded of this when out of nowhere, Ed Sheeren’s new song “Castle on the Hill,” clobbered me with brilliance, reminding me of Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run.”

Castle has a powerful narrative, bold music, a solid baseline, deep human themes, decades of living and the pathos inherent in great literature. So does “Born to Run.”

Some of my other power anthems of awesomesauce and world dominance include Tina Turner’s “The Best” and “Better Be Good To Me” and Kathleen Edwards’ “Change the Sheets,” and Neil Young’s “Rockin’ the Free World” and “Crime in the City,” and the Tragically Hip’s “Ahead by a Century.” And that mystical thing that happens in those few precious early seconds when U2 begins to play “Where the Streets Have No Name” in a live concert.

These are the songs on my playlist that fill my ears as I start on a bike ride that involves a 10-20 block uphill.

These are the songs I fill my head on my way into a speaking event.

These are the songs that I play while I’m debriefing my time creating new universes with Path Consulting clients and organizations embracing how to intentionally enrich their souls. After these genius-birthing times when I’m reviewing where we came from, what we did and where we’re going, these songs re-affirm how we can jump and reach the bar. And bar! How we can enter a Spartan Race and not just finish, but beat a bunch of people.

So you.

What are your anthems that elevate you to greatness?

What songs help make you feel whole?

And have you built a playlist that you flick on when you are about to enter the realm of the gods?

In Path Consulting, we build these soundtracks. We play them when we are winning and when we are struggling. We forge new memories of growth and triumph, much like those fond memories you have from childhood when you feel in love with a new song.

We don’t have to struggle with just holding onto past moments of song bliss. We can create new ones that will help define us. For the rest of our lives.

Se get busy!

I’m at ebStrategy.org.

No More New Year’s Resolutions! Whew.

There are far too many people studying whether New Year’s Resolutions work or not. I’m not one of them.

As someone who has either attended or taught in K-12 and university for 40 years, January 1 means little to me. Labour Day is the start of my new year. Even in years when I wasn’t teaching or attending school, I would have trouble sleeping on that Labour Day Monday night, electrified with anticipation of the coming semester.

So when it comes to New Year’s Resolutions, I’ve never been compelled to use this month as a petri dish for the new me, or a new version of me in all my work, family, friend, life relationships.

So instead of encouraging the high stakes of making your resolutions work, or encouraging you to not beat yourself up for failing to achieve them, let’s think about process.

Let’s think about optimizing your work-life-vocation-volunteering balance, which is my Path Consulting model. And not just this month, but going forward. Because frankly, it’s not like you have never addressed your balance!

And even though it is January, working on optimizing balance in your life doesn’t have to be tainted with the “New Year’s Resolution” baggage.

You don't have to portage your canoe on your own! I've got your back.
You don’t have to portage your canoe on your own! I’ve got your back. [“End of the Portage” – Winslow Homer]
That’s why Path Consulting exists year-round. Take a look at the what goes into Path Consulting, and let’s roll up our sleeves to smooth out the bumps in your life.

But the better metaphor is portaging. You paddle your canoe, but when you hit the rapids you need to portage: carry it beside the rapids until you get to smoother waters. Or when you’re canoeing over long distances, from lake to lake, you need to portage over land. But you don’t need to portage on your own. I’ve got your back!