Thursday, December 27, 2018

Asking Questions

“Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” – Steven Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Too often, we use questions as weapons. 

We use questions to dominate others, demonstrate our “superior” mastery, advance our own agenda.

No wonder asking questions, and being asked questions, has become so emotionally charged.

What if we approached encounters with a desire to understand the other first?

Listening then becomes a pre-requisite for asking good, relationship-building, information-gathering questions.

Questioning then becomes a tool for working and creating together.

I have found that the best conversations (and best relationships) have started with my desire to learn about and from the other. 

When I go into a conversation with an agenda, or with a pre-conceived notion, or in a rush, or trying to prove something, it doesn’t go nearly as well.

Programmers have code libraries. Coaches, Therapists, Ethnographic Researchers, and Business Analysts have question pools.

Sir John Whitmore provides one of my favorite coaching question pools in Coaching for Performance.  He designed these questions to help managers improve employee performance.

Tony Stoltzfus also provides a solid introductory question pool in Coaching Questions

These tools are helpful, but they work best as a way to seed conversation.  Other questions surface if you are listening deeply and seeking to understand.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018


Listening deeply to another is the best gift I can think to give this year.

Being able to hold space for another.

Listening with no agenda. 

Listening without aiming to respond, or be clever, or win the conversation.

Many of us aren’t taught to do this.

Our educational system seems to reinforce “listening to win.”  If you have ever sat in a graduate-level seminar, you will understand what I mean.

Our systems reward cleverness, witty repartee, put-downs, “strong” arguments, “influencing others.”

Mark Goulston and John Ullman, in Real Influence, recognize that the core of real influence is in listening to the other, learning where they are coming from, and meeting them there vs. “getting someone to do something.”

So many of us hunger to be understood. The recent statistics on loneliness are staggering, In a 2018 survey of 20,000 American adults, Cigna found:

  • 54% feel that no one knows them well
  • 56% said that the people around them “aren’t necessarily with them.”
  • 40% felt isolated and lacked companionship

AARP noted that of adults 45 and over – 1 in 3 are lonely.

The situation is also global.

Explanations for our feelings of loneliness vary.

The cause may not matter in the long-run.

I figured the best thing I could do is to learn to listen.  Connect with the people around me. Seek to understand where the other is coming from. Provide a space to just be.

Listening skills require practice.  

Listening skills DON’T require courses (though courses exist).

This is my skill focus for 2019.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Observation and Pattern Recognition

Observation allows us to see what is going on.

Pattern recognition helps us to make sense of what we are seeing.

Being busy is valued in today’s society. As a result, we forget to stop and watch what is happening around us.

Are we seeing what we expected to see? Does what you are seeing map to a pattern you have seen before? Is there a variable in this context that has not appeared in prior encounters with similar scenarios?

From my understanding, the readers of this blog have been around the block a few times. 30-60, college-educated, 10-30 years in their careers.  

At this stage, you have probably seen at least one cycle of trends. Centralization / Decentralization, Onsite/Remote, Hierarchical/Networked, Independent / Teamwork, or whatever polarity tends to dominate your field.

You have also seen what works and what doesn’t, and have likely formed strong opinions based on this experience. 

You have also formed clear mental models and frameworks.  Mastery is built on these models and frameworks. There’s significant value in these models and frameworks and, in most instances, they work well.  Models and frameworks help you make sense of what is going on around you and help you integrate new information as it comes in.

It may be worthwhile to get clear on the assumptions you are using when you observe what is going on around you. Are these assumptions accurate for this context?

Often, the answer is “yes,” but there are still surprises, and it’s good to be aware of the assumptions you are making when you are making judgments and decisions.

Is there something in the environment that you have not seen before that may impact the patterns you recognize?

Many of us have been trained to write off these anomalies.  How often has the thing you wrote off returned to bite you?  What does the pattern look like when you account for the anomaly?

I invite you to spend some time observing your surroundings, looking for patterns, and questioning your assumptions.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Learning How to Learn

Many of us have been educated in schools built to produce good Industrial Revolution era workers. Learn by the clock, perform to standard, don’t question the teacher.

When I pursued my graduate degree in Instructional Technology (early 2000s) – much of the conversation centered around how a child’s brain developed.  Adult learning theory focused on embedding any new information into the frameworks that adult had already developed.  Though there was a sense that humans continued to develop once they hit adulthood, there was an implicit assumption that continued development was limited to a select few and everyone else quit growing. 

This assumption mapped to Frederick Taylor’s belief that there were a select few “college men” (i.e. managers) who were capable of making all the decisions and everyone else could do the work.

Maslow’s “self-actualization” level was a “nice-to-have” if you got lucky.

The past 20 years has produced research confirming the plasticity of the adult brain. These findings are only now appearing in the popular culture.

The ability to learn new things quickly has become increasingly important as our environments evolve at a seemingly faster pace than ever.  Knowledge rapidly becomes outdated. Years of mastery becomes irrelevant.

Harold Jarche has put together a nice framework that helps us practically learn new things quickly – Personal Knowledge Mastery.

Harold sees Personal Knowledge Mastery as consisting of three interwoven processes:

  • Seeking – Finding and receiving information.
  • Sensing – How we make sense of the information we find and receive and putting it to use (or not).
  • Sharing – Exchanging what we learn with another. Making the necessary adjustments as we receive feedback.

In my experience, the Seeking process starts with a question and getting a general lay-of-the-land. 

The Sensing process has me finding or developing frameworks to organize that information and begin discerning the information’s importance.  Is the information important, or is it noise? Do I need to unlearn something from previous experience to incorporate this new information? Does the framework I currently hold still work or do I need to find or create a new one?  What assumptions are behind the information? What assumptions am I holding as I engage this information?  This reflection, processing, and integration time is invaluable, nevermind the practice. New knowledge and skills don’t stick unless I honor this space.

Sharing allows me to refine that information and challenges me to make enough sense of that information such that I can either ask questions (I find that I need to understand enough of what I don’t understand about the information to be able to create a question that makes sense to another person) or communicate what I have learned and request feedback.

Learning how to learn will allow us to keep our technology skills up to date – no matter what happens to the user interfaces and functionality of the tools we use.


Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Thursday, November 22, 2018


The US Thanksgiving holiday is my favorite holiday.

It is the one holiday that is solely focused on gratitude, time with loved ones, and food.

It is also one of the most stressful times of year for those who don’t have strong support networks, have amazingly dysfunctional families, or are in the throes of early sobriety.

I’m incredibly grateful to have a strong support network of family and friends – both near and far away.  This network has been a godsend in 2018 as I attended 3 funerals of close family members this Spring and spent the better part of this year re-evaluating what I do and why I do it.

One of the other things I am grateful for is the increasing number of voices working to de-stigmatize mental health issues.  

If you are functioning “normally” in a messed-up environment, are you truly “healthy?”

It occurred to me that the best thing I could do is to share what I know and resources that have helped me.

I’ve put together a list of mental health resources – based on my experiences. Look under Resources > Mental Health.  Or go to 

Every single one of us deserves to be safe, happy and loved.

And to my friends and family – thank you so much for being awesome.

Thursday, November 08, 2018

How to Use Video Games to See Patterns

Over the past few weeks, I started playing Stardew Valley –a farming life simulator (or what I would fondly call, an errand runner – where I do the tasks I SHOULD be doing in real life).

Life simulators, like Stardew Valley and the SIMS, are agreat way to see patterns that you might miss while living life.

For example, as I played Stardew Valley – it became very clear to me that I am a workaholic and, when I feel I have a bunch of stuff to do, I will neglect social relationships to get things done. I suspected I had this pattern, but it was interesting to see it in my avatar.

I also noticed that, as in life, I got much further, faster
in the game by focusing on a couple of skills for a period. In my case, during the
early game, I focused on foraging and mining. 
I de-prioritized fishing, social interaction, and much of the farming
outside of chopping down trees and scything weeds.

When I first started, I had a go at everything. This helped
me evaluate what would be the most productive area of focus.   I tried fishing – and learned that trying to
do that on a touch-pad was next to impossible. 
I socialized with the community – and found that when I was in the early
game that I didn’t have anything anyone particularly wanted.  Farming outside of chopping down trees
required coin and resources I didn’t have. 
Once I learned that I needed to get resources quickly, I focused my
attention on that – and let go of the other activities … for now.

Later in the game, other activities become more useful.  That’s the adjustment part and something that
can get neglected. It’s easy to continue doing things that worked before long
past the point the point where it stops working. It’s also easy to write off
previously difficult activities as “too hard” forever. But, as in life, you get
more skills, practice and resources. And, almost magically, what was “too hard”
before suddenly becomes easy if you just try it. 

During this Stardew Valley play-through – I hit a point
where I needed to start mastering fishing. 
I picked up a new resource (in this case, a wireless trackball mouse), found
a wiki for the game that told me where the different fish were and when they
hit, used my prior knowledge of the game map to find decent fishing spots, and
focused my attention on getting good at fishing. 

It would have been easy to drop the game, or ignore fishing
altogether. The experience would have been partial. 

Same thing with any other endeavor in life – fitness,
building a business, learning a skill. We hit mastery milestones where the
early activities don’t provide nearly the impact they did before. Our challenge
is to make the adjustments, try activities that we may have previously written
off as “too hard,” and spend some focused time getting good at those
activities. That focused time builds our skill base and tool kit. 

It’s also not simply a matter of adding on or replacing. We
integrate our prior knowledge as we build our skills.  Sometimes, the old ways work. Sometimes, we
need to go all in on a new way. Sometime, a hybrid of the two ways provides the
best result. 

Video games provide a way to externalize patterns.  What’s your favorite game? What patterns do you see as you engage with that game?


Dan and Carrie Floyd at PlayFrame introduced me to this game.  Unlike many video game play-through YouTubers, the Floyds work in the industry and point out creative and design details that your average gamer ignores. 

Thursday, November 01, 2018

Case Study – Change Planning Facilitation Pt 2

One week later, after Heather moved (hence the bad lighting on her side), we continued the facilitation. 

We found that the extra week helped her confirm some of her analysis around the short and long-term impact of her change.

She also provided some feedback about the process towards the end of the video.

Heather writes about her outdoor adventures at

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Case Study – Change Planning Facilitation Pt 1

Heather was kind enough to let me record this session.

She is looking to make her blog into a business.  We wanted to confirm that this was a good idea, analyze the potential impact, and surface any risks.

This particular facilitation is part of a larger coaching engagement. As a result, the change planning facilitation has been divided into two sessions.

I can make a transcript available upon request.

Heather writes about her outdoor adventures at

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Case Study: Health Goals


For this case study, I wanted to do a case study of a change that a lot of us attempt to make at one point in our adult lives for another. This is one for healthy lifestyle changes.

I have a few caveats because I know this is a really sensitive topic.

One, I’m not a doctor of any sort.

Second, I’m not a healthcare practitioner of any sort. I’m not a nutritionist, I’m not a personal trainer. This is just my experience.

Third, and this is from my experience, if you’re doing this to work with an addiction, whether it’s food or alcohol or something else, I recommend doing this exercise with a sponsor (if you’re part of a program) or with professional help if you’re seeing a therapist or get a sober accountability partner. That partner needs to be someone who has already accomplished what you’re trying to accomplish with this change.

This exercise is from my personal experience, your experience, your resources and the environment that you’re working with may vary.

There’s certain things, when you’re looking at the scope of this, where this exercise is going to be really good. One – you want to ask if this is going to impact another person. If you’re trying to just, “Hey, I need to drink more water”, (this is) probably not going to impact anybody else. If, however, you’re looking to stop drinking, often there is a very social component around that. If you’re looking to do major dietary changes and you have people living with you or if it’s something where the dietary changes you wish to make…a lot of families have food rituals and you’re going to have to be mindful of those food rituals.

I think it’s worth at least going through this as one pass fairly quickly just to see where you might wind up inadvertently impacting someone else.

The other scope consideration, is this a long term or permanent change? (This is useful even if it is not).Let’s say you’re looking to do, say the Keto Diet for 30 days to take off 10 pounds. I think it’s going to be handy just so that you’re also thinking in terms of how you off-ramp that change or what you’re trying to do. If it’s super short term – “Hey, I think I’m just going to quit coffee for 30 days.” That’s, that’s the only really going to impact anybody if you get really cranky and that’s not going to necessarily be a long-term change.

I think with this exercise, spend the time with it relative to the scope of the impact and the scope of the change that you wish to make. All that said, I’m going to give you my demonstration of what I’m considering right now for myself.

We’re going to go through four passes of this. The first two passes are decision points. We’re going to go through a short term pass and then we’re going to go through a long-term pass.

Then we’re going to say, “Okay, is this something I actually want to do?” If the answer is yes, then we’re going to do two more passes. We’re going to see what we already have.

I think that’s very important to recognize that we already have quite a bit to work with. It makes that change a little less daunting and then what we need, and we’re going to do this in the context of four quadrants. In a lot of the changes that we’re looking at in these case studies or changes that we individually are making, there’s other things that are also impacted. The changes we make do wind up impacting others.

If they impact us, obviously they impact others – sometimes in ways that we’re not really thinking about when we decided to make a change. They impact the relationships we have with others. Oftentimes, if we’re making a change, we do need to set some boundaries with other people or we need to set expectations with other people. Renegotiating how we’re engaging with others. Also, we may be modeling behavior as well.

Then the, Its, which is your mechanicals. Any systems you have in place, any materials that you need, the money that you need.

The change that I’m wishing to make is Go Primal. There is something called the Primal Blueprint that Mark Sisson has created. I’ve played with it before. I think it’s a pretty good baseline.

My why is -I’m trying to get higher energy. I’m also aware that my diet since back when I was doing crossfit has gotten not so healthy. I’m sure that’s having an impact on my energy levels and how I feel on a day to day basis. Also, my clothing starting to get a little tight and I would like to take care of that before I have to go out and buy new clothes. It’s getting tight in the wrong direction. I want to stop that. I’ll be interested to see whether or not that “why” is strong enough to keep me going when things get kind of tricky. I might wind up reevaluating this, but that’s what I have right now.

My goal is higher energy, so as I evaluate the process, that’s going to be my indicator.

My first pass is the short term. Some of the short term things I came up with in five minutes sitting down with this particular section is:

– I need to set stronger boundaries both with myself and others around workouts. My partner is working from home a lot more frequently and, for whatever reason I tend to be shy about working out around other people if I’m not in a gym or in a class. I need to get over myself and just set aside some time and do it.

– I need to start planning meals again. There’s been too many instances recently where my partner and I will sit there and look each other.

What do you want to eat?

I don’t know.

I don’t know. I don’t feel like cooking.

Okay. And then we order out or go get fast food or something.

– I also need to plan the workouts and then actually go do them. I found that if I go into the gym or if I even work out here with a plan or have a really concrete idea of what I’m going to get accomplished that day, I’ve been a lot more inclined to get it done. That’s just me.

I need to remind myself that I am fit and healthy. I’m getting close to 50. I think I’m doing okay, but I need to keep reminding myself with that. The mindset I need to maintain is that I do what I say I’m going to do and I execute my plan.

That said, I do reserve the right for myself to execute that plan imperfectly or change the plan if my energy levels are really, really low that day. I have a couple of chronic issues. I need to be willing to be flexible but still maintain the discipline of, “Okay, if maybe lifting heavy weights isn’t going to work for me that day because my joints are bothering me, maybe doing yoga.” Getting very clear. Again, I’m after higher energy, and it’s (also) getting very clear about what the intention is for that (higher energy).

I’m in the It (quadrant). I’m gonna look at this as how this impacts other people, whether I want it to impact them or not. A big person this impacts, frankly, is my partner because I do a lot of the cooking and if I’m doing a diet, he’s either going to have to cook for himself or be cool with going along for the ride.

One of the changes – we’ve been eating a lot more pasta these days. Bread and that sort of thing. I know the Primal Blueprint is not very crazy about that stuff. He’s going to be seeing a lot more meals without grains. One of the other things that I need to do, and I’ve put this in italics because it’s something I need to ask or it’s something I’m not terribly certain of – I need to go get more information, is I do need to ask him about the impact of just setting aside time for workouts and setting aside space and privacy for workouts.

I don’t think it’s going to be a big deal, but I don’t want to make that assumption. This tells me I need to go ask some questions and that’s a good thing. We want to surface what questions we need to ask. Where we’re not entirely certain of information.

In terms of the We, it’s how I’m interacting with other people and how I’m modeling for other people. One of the things that we need to do, so with Ryan, I need to negotiate time and space for workouts and again, as we put together that contract with each other, maintain that. I’m also negotiating meals. I do want him actively involved in this process. It impact him. I don’t want to do two meals. He’s really good at fending for himself if what I’m making is not to his liking, but I just as soon have him be a partner to this process.

Friends and family. Again, there is a social component. In my family in particular, and maybe yours too, we’re super into food. I know that sharing with them what I’m doing and why (will be important). I’m very fortunate to also have a very supportive family and very supportive friends. Just let them know, ask for help, see what comes back. That way I’m not getting inadvertently sabotaged. I also get feedback, too. I know that there’s been some changes where friends have not necessarily been all that supportive and that’s good to surface. Uncomfortable, but good to surface.

You’re also bringing out risks as well, particularly if there’s particular friends that might cause you problems.Let’s say a relationship with some of your friends are all about being drinking buddies and you decided to quit drinking. You’re going to learn real quick about what the foundation of that relationship is. Knowing that you’re going to surface that – it’s good to be prepared.

Also with friends and family, one of the things about food and a lot of cultures, (and I know the food with my family and maybe yours, too), is that you may have someone who cooks your favorite thing because they know that’s your favorite thing. It’s an expression of love. There’s a couple of ways to handle this, particularly if you’re dieting and you’re on a diet that has some restrictions. One is selectively eat what is offered. Maybe not take as much as usual. Then, on your own time, go, “Okay, how am I going to accommodate this?” The other is, you know, “Hey, I love you. Maybe there’s a better way we can do this.” Again, that’s up to you.

I know my preference, based on my values is – if my Mom makes me German chocolate cake. I’m having a slice of German chocolate cake. Your choice, but that’s my selection.

Then finally the Its. This is all the systems. Groceries – what do you need to shop for in any diet or health plan? (Diet and health plans are typically) good about giving you a grocery list. For me it’s “Eat real food, minimized process things.” Go around the circumference of the grocery store. Meal prep. I know short term I’m going to need to get a lot more disciplined about setting aside an hour for meals and meal prep, usually in the evenings. What I need to add to that, as I’m looking at this again, setting aside time and planning for things to eat for breakfast and lunch.

I do work from home. For those of you who are working in an office, making sure that you’re setting aside time for meal prep, for lunch. For eating out, identifying friendly restaurants. I think that’s really handy because sometimes you just flat out don’t feel like cooking. Knowing that you’ve got some go-tos that support the lifestyle change you are wishing to make is very, very helpful. I’m very fortunate. I live in a major metropolitan area with really good restaurants. Some of you may not be so lucky. Just identify what you’ve got to work with.

Then, the workout. I need to figure out what workouts I want to do. I’ve always been a big fan of having plans. A lot of people don’t. Also gear check. What do I have to work with, particularly if I need to work out or want to work out from home?

That’s the short term pass.

Now, longer term, because I’m looking at this as a lifestyle shift, there’s some longer term changes I need to make. For those of you who are looking at this more as a short term (change), you know, “I’m trying to drop 10 pounds before my high school reunion,” this is where you look at things like off-ramping. What do you want to do after you finished that really strict diet? This is where I would actually recommend getting a nutritionist to help you because they may be able to help you with that off-ramp process and with longer term changes.

In the long-term, for myself, I know I need to get really good at maintaining those boundaries around workouts, particularly when I get busy.

I’m in a busy time right now because I’m doing a lot of writing which is really sedentary. It’s gotten way too easy for me to decide to stay on the couch and surf the net versus actually working out. I have to maintain those boundaries.

Also with travel. Travel tends to throw my schedule off and I’ve heard it throws a lot of other people’s schedules off in terms of eating and exercise. Determining a plan for what I’m going to do when I travel is going to be key.

Also scheduling. I need to make sure that I set that time aside for meal and workout planning. Considering that part of my day and know if I have a lot of meetings, just making sure that time is blocked and being really disciplined. The mindset is “I’m disciplined and I execute my plan.” The belief I need to maintain is I am fit and healthy.” One of the things that I found really powerful (for me) is reminding myself that I’m already those things. It took a long time for me to get there when I was coming from a place where I wasn’t fit and healthy.

Right now I’m coming from a place where, yeah, I’m kind of fit, but I let things go. I haven’t been feeling that healthy, but reminding myself, “Okay, I am fit and healthy,” I will BE fit and healthy. That’s been helpful. It’s one thing to say internally “I’m fit and healthy” and (feeling like) I’m a shambling wreck. I’m also trying to maintain some integrity too. (Being honest with myself around where I really am).

I think that’s where the power of those affirmations is. If there’s a disconnect between what you’re trying to say to yourself and what you’re manifesting in the outside world, at some point you’re going to want to resolve that disconnect. The disconnect is, “Oh my God, what the heck am I saying?” I invite you to consider maybe other ways to resolve the disconnects. Not, “I’m working on being fit and healthy”, but resolving the disconnect where (you ask), “How do I get to where I want to really display that?” I think that could be really powerful. I’m going to get off my soapbox on that.

In the It section – there’s a couple of things I’m watching for.

One of the things that is worth remembering, and I know this is really valuable for me too, is that the It section is all the behaviors I have no control over. I have no control over what happens outside of the meat case. That’s me, that’s my body. It’s a matter of observing behavior in this section and keeping an ear out. I know that this section for me somewhat incomplete. I may do one more pass, but at this point I need to get cracking on this change. A couple of things I’m looking for long-term: One is to see whether or not Ryan’s inspired to join me in either this or the exercise. He does do some of his own exercise at night. I leave him to it, but I’m listening for that and I just need to make sure I’m open if he decides to go, “Hey Wendy, I’d like to join you.”

Also friends and family. Again, that’s a practice that I need to do. To make sure I stay open and see if anybody wants to join me on this little adventure.

In the We – the we is the relationship I have with others and how we interact. With Ryan, who’s my partner, just maintaining boundaries around me going to work out and also asking for input on meals. Keeping him engaged because that’s the area where he’s really impacted beyond maybe losing a little bit of time as I go pick up iron or move myself around a bit. Then with friends and family, it’s selectively eating what’s offered. That includes desert. Maintaining any boundaries that I need to maintain.

For instance, I’ve been sober for seven and a half years as of this recording. One boundary that I still have to regularly maintain is “don’t drink alcohol. ” Everybody’s gotten pretty good about that at this point. Early on that was none of that was something I had to repeatedly maintain. And you still do, or I still do. That’s a pretty regular boundary I have to maintain, particularly with people who don’t know me really well.

In the Its section – this is the resources and the systems long-term. With groceries, I’m very fortunate in that I have a model and it’s my cousin Mary Beth. When we went to visit her in Oregon, she opened up her fridge and it was this complete wonderland of fresh produce and super fresh foods. My aspiration is to have a refrigerator that looks like hers. I wish I took a picture of it because it was, it looked like something that should be posted on instagram. It was pretty amazing. That’s a long term model.

Meal prep, maintaining that one hour of meals and meal prep and eating out. One of the things I need to do long-term is determine the system. Particularly when I’m traveling, being able to (determine at a) glance, “Okay, is this something that’s going to support the lifestyle I’m trying to develop or not in terms of my health?”

Then for the workout, determining what’s working and what’s not. There’s a little bit of metrics and when, because I know that my why is higher energy, it’s keeping an eye on whether or not when I leave those workouts I’m energized and keeping track of how I feel a day or two later. One of the things that I’ve noticed for myself is that things that I used to do 10 years ago – I used to do Crossfit. I used to really heavy weightlifting. Unfortunately when I overdo it, it kills me. I may feel fine afterwards, but then a day or two later I feel like I’ve been run over by a truck and it’s not the “I’ve worked out, my muscles are sore,” run over by a truck. It is like existential exhaustion. So I have to be very mindful about how I push myself.

It’s that level of evaluation in terms of evaluating what’s working. That’s going to going to be a long-term thing for me. Now that I’ve done in the short term and the long-term, I can make a decision. In this particular instance, my decision is yes, but I also know that I’m going to need to break it down a bit.

The next step, now that I’ve decided “yes,” is to figure out what I have to work with and what I’m going to need. The first pass is what I have to work with. What resources do I already have available?

The important part of this resourcing is – I’m trying to bridge the gap between my current state and my desired state. I’m very grateful in that I’ve been exercising and sort of toying with healthy lifestyle changes now for the better part of 11 years.

Thankfully I’ve got some prior knowledge to work with. In this case, some of the resources I’ve had to work with include: I’ve actually done Paleo for … I think I managed to make it 17 days. I have an idea of where I’m going to get derailed. I also have an idea of some of the hazards and risks. Paleo is really great for people that it works really great for. I wasn’t terribly successful and the only reason is because I wound up losing weight way too quickly. I was a shambling wreck at the end of it. One of the coaches I was working with the time saw me after 17 days (and told me to stop.) Don’t do anything that’s going to endanger your health. A lot of people are very successful on Paleo diets and it’s worth trying just to see whether or not that’s something you can maintain.

I have had a steady work out program for now over 10 years. It’s been a little more touch and go the past few years, but I do know that I can do that. For many of you – exercise is pretty lame. I think it’s a matter of finding, (this is probably gonna sound really trite,) something you enjoy or just moving around. I would recommend finding an exercise coach for this. Particularly one who’s really good with the types of issues that you’ve had. Don’t try to find someone that’s like,”We’re gonna power through things.” You don’t want that type of coach. (In my personal experience and opinion. Some people need people to push them. I need someone to ratchet me back. Get what YOU need.)

I do have some familiarity with the Primal Blueprint, Primal eating and Primal lifestyle. I have the books so I can get more knowledge. Thankfully, I can also cook. A lot of people can’t and may not be terribly interested in cooking (which is absolutely cool). There are services that provide meals. That may be something worth resourcing.

(Then there is) mindset. I am disciplined (most of the time). I do what I say I’m going to do. I execute on my plan. Maintaining that mindset is going to be really key for me because this is an area that I know, from my past experience that I start making excuses.

In the It area – again, this is how this impacts other people and this is where I’m really looking at who are my allies and who will help me with this. Thankfully, Ryan’s very supportive. He encourages me to get out. When I first started working out, he had some really grave concerns about what I was doing. He’s seen the results. He’s (now) really supportive. Plus he gets the, uh, “added bonuses.”

Then friends and family – I’m looking for the ones who are open and supportive and aren’t like, “Oh, what do you think doing?!?” Finding the allies among them.

Then some of the We – in terms of the (romantic) relationship, I think with him, you know, he is supportive. I just need to make sure I talk to Ryan first. The other thing that I know with my friends and family that they’re already doing is that they are keeping an eye on me and so it’s really important that I ask them, “Hey, as I go through this, please keep an eye on me.” I know from my Paleo experience that I do need to ask them to please note whether or not they see any significant behavioral changes, particularly if I’m starting to be really nasty to people. If I seem really drawn out. If I seem really skinny (and I’ve had that happen as well. In my case – getting too skinny is a bad sign). I know from my experience I need to have people keep an eye on me as I do this. Your mileage may vary.

In terms of resources, I know that when I go grocery shopping, thankfully I’ve gotten in the habit where a lot of my grocery shopping has been on the fringes. Protein and produce, probably minus the ice cream – maybe not do so much of that. There are some tweaks that need to happen there, but for the most part, if I stay on the fringes, I should be okay. I do already set aside an hour for meals and preparation. It’s just pretty much maintaining that. I do have one restaurant that we go to if we’re looking at each other and neither of us feels like cooking. It’s like, “Eh, let me just go pick up a salad.” We do need to find more and take a look at the places we tend to go and see if there’s anything that we need to maybe focus on more than some of the stuff we tend to eat.

I also have knowledge about workouts. I’ve been very fortunate in that I’ve been healthy enough to have an exercise program for pretty long time. I do have resources available. I just need to pick one. I also have a better idea of what’s working for me these days and what isn’t. I do have books, so I have quite a bit of reference material. I don’t need to go out and buy this. Those are the resources I have now.

Thankfully I have a lot to work with. If all of this is really new to you, that is perfectly fine. We all have to start somewhere.

In terms of needs, again, I did this in the past, this is my experience. One of the things that I think is really important for those of us wishing to make permanent changes is to look at this in terms of small focused steps and gradual changes and really checking how you feel.

I know that the changes that have tended to stick have tended to be ones that were small and I could focus on that and make sure they stuck and then I could add something else. John Berardi, at Precision Nutrition, has a pretty good benchmark. I think it’s you have to have at least 95 percent (confidence) that you could succeed at this. And if you fail, okay, well, let’s make this easier. The idea is to build confidence in your change and to have the change stick. Does it mean I’m going to go from my current lifestyle of sitting on the couch and eating a little more junk food than normal (to a healthy lifestyle in one go)? Probably not. I know that that won’t stick. It’s just a matter of me deciding what those small focus steps are going to be.

I need to go get an (annual) exam. I think it’s recommended anytime you’re planning on significant lifestyle changes and I need to do this for two reasons. One is just to make sure there isn’t anything else going on that I should be aware of. The other is baseline. Getting a much better map of where I’m at now. Again, part of the driver behind this is I have not been feeling very energetic this past year. I have been fighting a little bit of chronic fatigue and I’m still trying to make sure that it’s not something more serious other than just the “existential tireds.” I think that’s really important.

Then I need to maintain a belief that I’m energetic and healthy and that I’m capable of being energetic and healthy. Again. I haven’t been feeling that way for the better part of a year, probably longer, but I think that’s really important.

That mindset of I’m disciplined and execute my plan. I do what I say I’m going to do. These are the things I really need.

In terms of what I need from others. I need to find accountability partners, – particularly in this area. I need to go find a coach again. In the workout area. I’ve been finding that having (a coach), regardless of how the workouts are, having someone that I’ve made the appointment to go see has been incredibly helpful. And recently, as soon as I have not had that appointment, it’s been too easy for me to stay on the couch. I need that. Then, encouragement. Thankfully all I need to do is ask. And that’s where this comes in, is just asking for encouragement. Then also again asking that people keep an eye on me, just to make sure I don’t go overboard…I’ve been known to do that

Resources. I need to schedule regular time for workouts and make sure that those are set appointments that do not get rescheduled. I’ve gotten a little slack about letting other things get in the way of that. I just need to make sure that I set aside regular time for food and workout planning. I used to do this back when I was doing Crossfit and for a couple of years afterward, where every Sunday I’d sit down with cookbooks and my workout journal and plan the week. It was a couple hour process but it was a process I really enjoyed. Again, your mileage may vary on that, but I think having, at least in the early going, some time set aside in terms of what you’re going to eat and the workouts – I found it really valuable and it wound up allowing me the mental space. I wasn’t thinking about “What am I going to have for dinner?” It’s already on my plan. What I plan that week, I need to go do that.

That’s my example of the change planning. This particular pass-through took me about 20 minutes altogether. It probably took me longer to explain this than it took me to do it. My recommendation is to do one pass, let it sit for a day, sleep on it, do another pass, see if you’ve forgotten anything. There’s a few things that come out of this. I know for me what’s come out of this exercise has been that I just need to sit down and do some planning. I need to do some scheduling. I need to go find an accountability partner. My next step is to determine what small change I’m going to make this week to make this real.

I hope you found this helpful. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to comment on this video or on the blog post. I hope this helps and thank you so much for your help and support.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Tracking Achievement Goals and Habit Goals

Transcript (edited from

Whenever I’m making a change, I want to keep track of both the lag metric or achievement metric towards my goals and the lead metric or habit metric and whether or not I’m practicing those habits towards my goals.

When we work together, we’re going to define an achievement metric. In my case I’m working to reduce my coffee consumption and the lag metric or achievement metric I’m using is just to make sure that my weight stays stable since my goal is actually a habit goal. I want to see whether the habit is going to support my weight staying stable.

I like to think of those habits as being more additive or replacement versus negating. When we define a habit, I’m looking for a replacement habit to drinking coffee.

In my case, my target is six eight-ounce glasses of water. Now that’s probably a little low. It doesn’t mean that’s the only beverages I’m drinking, but that’s what I’m targeting – six eight-ounce glasses of water.

If I get all six, I put a V in. If I’ve made at least a go of it, I’ll put in a P. When I’m feeling really motivated I can put in a comment.

Let’s say that on the 11th day I managed to get three glasses of water. I put in the p and then I can insert a comment so I can see how many I actually got that day from this information.

I created some dashboards. Here, we are looking at how many days I’ve managed to practice that habit and whether I’ve been more successful doing it partially or managing to get the entirety of the habit done.  I still want to give credit for the attempt. I think that’s really important.

If I refresh this, I can see that in month one I’ve done it six times all the way and then four times partially. I can also see the number of days practicing the habit.

I can look at trends. If I refresh this, I can see whether or not I’m being more or less successful.

If I’m having a harder time sometimes doing the habit in its entirety, we can then discuss where the struggle is or where the challenges and what we can do to mitigate that.

Then we can look at achievement habits or the achievement metric that we’ve set for ourselves and look at trend lines for that. I think really being able to see how you’re doing with your habits and how you’re doing towards your goals is really motivating. I hope this helps.


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Thursday, October 18, 2018

Case Study: Writing a Book

This case study applies to writing a book. You can also use this for any large personal project.


I want to share with you a case study on how to use the change planning model and today’s case study really applies to projects that you want to start for yourself. In this particular instance, for me, it’s writing a book, so there’s four passes to this model and what we’re doing is we’re going through all four quadrants and the quadrants are:

– I as in how the change impacts me.

– We how the change impacts how I relate to others.

– It the impact on other people, so putting myself in their shoes

– It’s which is all the materials and systems.

In the center of the model is the change or the activity that I wish to pursue. Write a book. The next thing I do is identify why I’m doing it and this is really important because by having really solid why helps you go through the challenges that invariably occur when you’re doing a big project and it helps you make decisions in terms of which paths to take. In book writing, I’ve learned that there’s essentially three big reasons why people write a book, one is to make money, which is always a nice thing to do, two is to share expertise, and three is as a freemium or just to get it out there and build your list. A lot of people use short books to build a list.

In my case, I’m using this as an expertise sharing exercise. Yes, making money would be great. I hope to, but it’s really more important to me to share my expertise and to do so in a way that’s more organized than 12 years of blog post. The first two passes I’m going to make will be the short term impact and the long-term impact.

When I’m looking at a project, the short term impact is – what changes I need to make immediately to make space to make this happen. Also the short term impact on others. I will pursue at least a high level version of this anytime anything I’m doing is going to impact someone else.

There’s two reasons for that. One is I want to make sure that I accommodate the needs of the people that are important to me in my life because I am going to be asking something of them. The second is because oftentimes when projects and changes get derailed, it’s because of the reactions of others. Surfacing, some of that is a really good idea for risk mitigation.

The second pass that I’m going to make is long-term impact because even with things like books or other projects like building a website, there is an operational component that you’re going to need to consider. How is this going to impact your life? I’ve learned even something that appears to be one and done like, “I’ll just go up and post the website,” often you need to update it.

There is a marketing component for those of us who are entrepreneurs or solopreneurs. Considering what the long-term impact of what you’re doing is going to be really important.

First two passes, um, and I would have done something really fancy with moving stuff in (with the PowerPoint). This section took me about five minutes. When I look at the impact on myself, short term, I just need to sit down and create the project plan to write the thing. It’s essentially setting aside time to do the work.

There is a mindset, a couple mindset and belief shifts that need to occur to. One, for me, is the belief that “I am an author” and I see that as being different than “I am a writer” of because “I’m a writer” is the act of writing.

I’ve been blogging for 12 years. I’m a blogger, but “I am an author” tells me in the back of my head that I am writing a book. And so reminding myself that I am capable of doing that is going to be really important.

A mindset shift I need to make is, “I have valuable information.” This is going to be really important because I don’t know about your demons, but my demons tend to be pretty loud and often remind me that “Why am I doing this? Because no one wants to listen to you, Yada, Yada, Yada.” It’s really important to me to … not necessarily quiet that voice, it’s always going to be there … but befriend it and do the things that you’re supposed to do as a healthy person to get stuff done. Because if I listened to that voice all the time, I’d never get anything done.

Another mindset shift that I need to make is reminding myself that completing the deliverable is not the end of the project. One of the things that I found as I transitioned from employee to entrepreneur is a lot of my career was spent finishing a project for a client, throwing it over the wall to the client, and hoping I never heard from them again. The client or the customer was the person who was responsible for getting it out there.

One of the big things that I’ve learned over the past couple of years as an entrepreneur is that – no, the work doesn’t end when I finish this thing. There’s a whole ‘nother phase of work that needs to occur in terms of marketing and sales. Another shift that I need to make is reminding myself that “No, this is the first phase.” Finishing the book is the first phase. There’s still a whole ‘nother phase of things to do for the book to be successful. That’s the I component.

The next place I went to when I wrote this was the We component. This is where I look at my relationships with others, what I’m asking from others, or what I need to model for others. In this case, I’m really doing more of an ask. Whenever you see Ryan (in this demo), he’s my partner. He’s the one most impacted by the stuff that I do. One of the things that I needed to negotiate with him was time and space for doing deep work; as in, time and space where he’s not going to interrupt me. Not because he intends to sabotage me or anything, but just for basic day-to-day stuff like, “Hey babe, are you ready for lunch?” He’s also working from home a lot more frequently. We actually have to work together to find space so I can get work done and so he can get work done. Making sure that we have that conversation and have it regularly and that I’ve maintained really solid boundaries and make very clear in regards to what I’m going to do and expectations for each other is going to be incredibly important.

The other thing that I need to do is to, and okay, I’m going to be the first to admit I’m really lousy at this and any of my friends who were watching this will know this, is to share what I’m doing and why. And also ask for their support help and feedback. This is a change that I need to make because I’m really lousy at asking for help and support, so it will be a good practice for me.

I’m going to go up to the upper right hand quadrant (It). This is the It. If the We is how I’m relating to others and any support or boundaries or expectations that we need to set with each other; then It is how my actions will impact others or how I feel they might react or how I would like them to react to what I’m doing. In a business sense, this really speaks a little bit to one of those stakeholder management grids. Knowing who’s going to be the people who are going against you, who’s going to be your supporters, who do you need to support you that may not be fully bought in yet.

I kinda think of this area as, are there other roles I need from others? Are there skills I need from others? What sort of support do I need from others? In the It section – I need an accountability partner and know this is something, thankfully that I actually have. A bunch of accountability partners. This is going to help me get this thing done. I am going to work with Ryan to identify what support I need from him. Thankfully he’s very encouraging so it’s probably going to be a five-second conversation. We’ve already had it, but it’s good to know during this process to reiterate. Also (for me to) get clear on how this book is going to help other people because part of the stakeholders is the audience for the book. Making sure I’m clear on what their needs are, how it’s going to help them, and making the appropriate adjustments is going to be key.

The It’s. This is the resources, materials and systems. One of the things I’ve done is that I’ve blocked regular time for writing and content creation. This tends to be early morning. I (also) need to check the effectiveness of my organization. Content management. I tend to write in small chunks, especially because the type of writing I do is nonfiction. It often has a lot of research. Also, when you’re doing large books, it helps to know where your chapters are and know where your outline is. And any material supporting materials like if I’m making charts or pictures. Making sure I know where my knowledge is (and making sure that my knowledge management is) on point.

I’ve done the project management (for this project). Again, this is something where it took me a lot longer to explain this than it took me to actually write this stuff down in the section. I did it in a couple minutes. I have slept on it, done a second pass and I may do a third pass when we’re on this today. It’s good to do it once, sleep on it, and take a look again.

The next pass, now that I’ve done the short-term is long-term. Here I’m really thinking about operations and what this looks like in the long-term. For this particular change, I’ve personally defined long-term as once I’ve gotten the book written. Again, part of this is reminding myself that, “Yes, there’s a whole ‘nother phase after I finished a thing. I’ve got to get out there and market. ”

I need to decide the marketing strategy. I need to decide sales strategy and actually execute it. Sales is not an area I’m terribly comfortable in. It’s a definitely growing edge for me. Making sure I execute on that is going to be key. I also need to determine a process for any needed updates. I know my thinking has evolved on the topic for my book over the past 12 years. There’s a lot more people out there now sharing their expertise on change and change management and how change works. There’s some great neuroscience out there as well. It’s really started surfacing in the past 10 years. I want to make sure that I’ve planned for updates.

One of the things I did, and I did this in italics, is I need to determine the long-term impact on me. I’ve got it in italics because I don’t know what that looks like yet and I’m not sure that’s an area I particularly want to plan or control. I probably need to do some deeper thinking on it. I’ve never been here before. I’ve never written a book before. I’ve never marketed a book before. I know I’m looking to build expertise; share my expertise. I don’t know what this looks like in practice. The mindset I still need to maintain long-term is “I have valuable information to share” and a belief that I need to maintain long-term is “People like my work and want to get to know me better.” This is really important for me because (again, my friends will know this) if I am left to my own devices, I’m a hermit and deep introvert. I think this is going to be very important – just remembering that the vast majority of people have good intentions. I know this from experience and I forget this pretty frequently. I let the Gremlins in my head tell me that people are terrible. (Assuming good intentions) is a belief that’s going to be very important for me to keep.

In the We section long-term, one of the things that Ryan and I need to negotiate, particularly as I share my expertise in various ways as a result of the book, is to negotiate boundaries around travel. How long I’m away from home. Things that will and won’t work for him in regards to that. What he needs from me. What I need from him. Again, this is in italics because I don’t know what the long-term impact is going to be. I do know that there is going to be travel and some demands on my time that haven’t been there for the past couple of years.

Then We, in terms of interacting with others, and this is everybody outside of my relationship with Ryan, family, friends, professional colleagues, people I meet. What’s really important is to maintain humility. I’ve learned an awful lot from an awful lot of people and had an awful lot of help. I think this is all really important. Just practicing gratitude just because I’ve been so fortunate to have people helping me on this path, particularly over the past couple of years.

If I’m able to maintain that mindset and really model, I think this is gonna be really helpful. Long-term, I’ve got two things that I need to keep an eye on. One is long-term impact on Ryan. I don’t know what that looks like. And long-term impact on the rest of my family. My family is pretty important to me and I want to make sure that I’m there for them. Again, those are unknowns. It may wind up having me pull the plug if it looks like the long-term impacts are going to be negative. Not necessarily in writing the book and sharing my expertise, but maybe some of the more travel and energy-intensive parts of expertise sharing.

Then some long-term systems that I need to take a look at: my marketing architecture, I have one, it’s going to need to be maintained; sales operations metrics, again, long-term, needs to be maintained in my update process.

At this point with the short-term and the long-term, I have a decision to make as I look at the potential, short-term and long-term impacts. Do I still want to do this thing? I know it’s going to be time consuming. I know that there’s potentially an impact on my family. This is where I also look at the short-term and long-term and think in terms of values. How is this going to impact how I want to show up in the world and the values that I possess? I think with boundaries I’ll be okay. If it looks like I cannot be successful and still maintain positive relationships with my family and with Ryan, I’ll have to ratchet this back.

This is a yes and I have already started writing this, obviously. We’re going to see what happens. It’s going to be an adventure. With that decision, I’ve made the yes decision and I know where my risks are and I’m shaping some boundaries around where my outs are. This is really good output for that phase because once I had surfaced any risks or any unknowns, I can go find the information. I can mitigate those risks. I can also come up with contingency plans. I know this sounds really complicated, but it is really useful because things happen in life and knowing what’s really important is going to be incredibly helpful during the journey.

This next phase is the resources that I have. I think it’s really important to do an inventory of what you’ve already got to work with, especially because for many of you, you’ve been in the field a long time, you’ve lived quite a bit of life. You’ve probably done similar things before. I think it’s useful to just reflect back and go, “Okay, what’s a similar that I’ve done?” It might be nothing, but there’s always something you can pull off (your prior experience) because most of us have written status reports. Most of us have done big projects just for ourselves or for other people. Then you can leverage that experience.

You can also think about who your friends are and who your supporters are. Those are the first people that will really help you. That you can lean on. Many of them have expertise possibly in the area in what you’re doing for your project. Also with things in terms of knowing what other material stuff you may have lying around. In this section, in terms of resources: I am writing in an area, I’ve got quite a bit of experience in, I’ve been implementing change for most of my career, and I’ve been implementing involuntary change most of my career. Being able to help people implement change they want to make is really exciting to me and kind of different. The other thing that I’m looking at is – I did write a master’s thesis about 24 years ago. The process is pretty similar. I’ve been using my experience doing that for this particular personal project.

The mindset that I’ve got, which has been incredibly helpful, is, “This is a learning experience.” This is a mindset I already possessed. I’ve possessed it for years, which is awesome. Occasionally I forget that mindset, but it’s pretty easy for me to get back to this at this point. Sometimes after a little bit of thrashing.

The We section. Thankfully I’ve got a partner who’s already very supportive. I just continue talking to him and I’m confirming that everything’s okay. Making sure those lines of communication are open. I’m also very fortunate to have some communities of practice that I’ve been involved in. Some of them for, more than five years. Some of them closer to 10. And some of them for my entire career. They’re really good with providing feedback. They have offered to help. Again, my task is to stay open to their feedback.

I do have resources so people with skills that I can reach out to. I’ve got peers that have written books before. They’ve been really gracious in helping me in terms of the process and things I need to consider. My dad. Fantastic feedback giver, particularly in the area of business. Ryan of course is a pretty good resource just in terms of day to day support for the process.

Then some of the resources I have available to me, and this is the materials and systems. I do have 12 years of blog posts. Many of them are on change. You won’t be seeing the blog posts in the book straight from the blog post. I am doing quite a bit of rewriting. I do have money which is enough to, I mean I’m not wealthy by any stretch, but I do have enough money in the kitty to cover the costs of this effort, which I am amazingly grateful for. Things that I need to succeed. What’s nice about this is if this provides me an inventory.

What are the things I need to go out and get for myself? I need to remind myself. “Beginner’s mind.” I am new at the whole book writing process. Even though I’ve written a Master’s thesis before, I am new at the marketing and sales process. I need to be okay with making mistakes. This is something that, early on, is a good thing for me to practice. I know that this is a practice that, now that this has surfaced, I know I need to be more mindful of. The discipline to follow through on the marketing and sales. Again, introvert. New at marketing, new at sales, hasn’t been my wheelhouse. An area of fear for me. I know to reach out for help with that. Then just belief in myself.

One of my beliefs that I need to make sure that I remind myself of is that I am capable of being a great writer who provides value through my work. This speaks to growth mindset. I may not be a great author or great writer yet, but the key word there is “yet.”

Then (making sure I am) providing value and making sure I’m reaching out and getting feedback. Does this provide value? I think the market will tell me. Then maintaining the mindset, “I’m open to feedback” and reminding myself that people tend to interact with best intentions. Focusing on the people who are interacting with best intentions because I do know that that’s not the entire world.

In terms of the We, I just need Ryan’s continued encouragement. I may need to seek out other communities as well. Asking for feedback and being open to the response. This is going to be a regular practice. I need accountability partners. I think I have some, but it’s always good to have many accountability partners.

Friends and family – what I need from them is understanding around my lack of availability and their encouragement even if they don’t quite understand what I’m doing. I know for me when I say “lack of availability,” I find that when I’m in these really deep mental processes, I sometimes am not nearly as present even if I’m in a room full of people. I’m working on that. I know that for me presence is a terribly imperfect practice right now. If they have understanding around that, and also if they occasionally, “Hey Wendy, are you there?” I think that’ll be a good thing. That will be a very helpful thing for them to give me. I need to have that conversation with people.

Then the It’s. What materials do I need. Thankfully, I have a marketing architecture so I don’t need that. I just need to make sure I keep my schedule blocked and I need more knowledge around and experience around marketing a book and selling a book. That’s pretty much the process.

From talking through this with you, you see some of the outputs that I’m able to use for the project plan and as I go through the project. I don’t have to be nearly as detailed in this project plan. I’m a project manager. That’s how I roll. I do know that I have some conversations I still need to have with people I’m asking for help. I do know that I need to continually make sure that I keep beginner’s mind, stay open to feedback and just remind myself that I am capable of doing this and that I am able to provide value. I’m maintaining boundaries. I do know that that’s something that I’m going to have to be very clear on with the people around me and asking for help if I need it. There’s some really good outputs.

The other thing, too, is this reminds me that I am doing this for expertise sharing. Expertise sharing really has a couple of things. One is, here’s the stuff I know, but also it’s (how do I put this) building that kind of expertise in terms of making myself known as someone who can actually help in this area. That really is secondary to, “Hey, I’ve been doing this for a long time. I hope you find this of value,” and putting this together in a way that people do find value out of it.

That is the book writing. That’s the pass of the Personal Change Planning model in the context of a project. In this case, writing a book. I hope you found this of value Please comment if you have any questions or have anything else that you, that you see or any comments. I’d love to hear from you. Thank you so much.

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Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Why Change Fails


I wanted to talk today about change failure and, as you know, I’ve been doing quite a bit of research on change and change failure – mostly to confirm or get a feel for how accurate I am when it comes to what I’ve been seeing over the 15-some-odd years of doing change work and the statistics are pretty scary. Current statistics on organizational change success – 70 percent or more of change initiatives fail and those numbers are apparently increasing. And yet, there’s a greater demand for change and needing to be agile in the face of a very uncertain environment and we’re becoming worse at it. And, I suspect, that your experience in that space is very similar to mine where there’s all these change initiatives and there might be a little bit of focus and then as soon as we’ve done the ceremony, had the training, turned it on, let’s do the next change.

And so people wind up being really tired, which is a common reaction to change initiatives. Particularly, I noticed that in the last five years working in organizations where it’s one thing after another, after another and people are just tired. The second thing is that even when you’re looking at personal change or habit change, the failure rate is 80 to 90 percent. And when I see the research on that, a lot of it is focused on, well maybe you didn’t chunk it small enough, you didn’t do anything with your environment … throw away the cookies. But I think there’s something that has been missed in some of this conversation. The reason that I’ve seen that change fails both in organizations and in just the personal changes we’re trying to make. We have not considered the impact on other people and we have not considered how we need to interact with other people to make that change successful.

So here’s what I mean when I talk about how we haven’t considered the impact on other people. In an organizational sense, I’ve often seen it as, “Okay, well we’re going to do the stakeholder matrix and we’re going to know them as a trainer.” You’re looking at it in terms of: “Who are my audiences? What’s the change that can happen now?” It’s very surface level, but we really haven’t considered both the short term impact because any change is going to slow people down as they learn new processes. They learn new tools and they have to integrate and learn how their interactions with others change. That’s a layer that we don’t normally get into when it comes to organizational change Then on the personal level, when many of us approach change for ourselves, like the new year’s resolution, we’re thinking about the behaviors and the changes we need to make personally without considering how this impacts others.

For instance, I actually had this conversation with my better half last night. I’m thinking about changing up some of the things that we eat. We’ve gotten a little sloppy with our diet and, thing is, if I was going the way I typically go and we have typically gone into things, it’s like, “Okay, well… I’m just going to change my diet and start eating vegetables and all that.” There’s a possibility that, that could get derailed pretty quickly because maybe on a day I want a salad, he wants pizza. I like pizza. How easy is it going to be for him to derail me from the salad to go eat pizza?

The changes that we make for ourselves tend to have a greater impact on others. It’s the same thing when you’re looking at even family and friends or people outside. Again, I’m going to use food as an example. There’s a social component around food and going into food situations where, “No, I can’t eat this, I can’t eat this, I can eat this.”

It’s good to set boundaries, but it does have a social impact. That’s something that often we don’t consider. I know for myself, if, whenever I’ve made changes and those changes happen to stick, part of it is me. I’m healthy. Part of it is me, but some of it is also how I’m interacting with the people in my environment now. Like a lot of humans, I want to belong.

I’m doing it more to make myself a little healthier. I don’t have medical issues, I’m not trying to lose a ton of weight. And I’m fortunate enough to not have food addictions, or that sort of thing. It is still worth considering how your personal changes are going to impact others.

The other thing that often gets lost, and I’m thinking part of it is because it’s really uncomfortable, is how we interact with people needs to change oftentimes with change. I’m going to go again to organizational…the personal on an organizational level. What tends to happen, or at least what I’ve seen in my career, is change comes down from on high and is inflicted on others, especially these process changes. But the people who are leading that change are treating it as “It’s a change you need to make. I don’t really need to do anything.” They may not mean to send that message, but that’s often the message they send – like, “I’m separate and apart from this change. Even though you have to make the change, it doesn’t apply to me.”

There’s modeling that needs to be considered. There’s How does this change what I’m rewarding? How does this change how I interact with people? Do I need to treat people differently?

A really big example of this is that shift to Agile requires an awful lot of changes in relationships between people. And I think that that’s one of the things that gets lost and that’s one of the reasons why a number of Agile implementations go sideways. And then on a personal level, again, there’s interaction changes. I’m not only modeling, “Hey, I’m really trying to do what I say I’m going to do,” but also setting boundaries, setting and maintaining boundaries. I’m asking for help – which is difficult for a lot of us.

I know I am super guilty of this and I am working on this constantly. Asking for help is really, really hard. If you’re not someone who has typically asked for help, that’s a major change in the way you interact with people. That’s one of the reasons why I’m writing the personal change planning book. I think that one of the ways we can really help our cause and make new habits stick is to deeply consider the impact on others and how we need to change how we interact with others. So I hope that helps. The link to the preorder for the personal change planning book I’m working on is below. Please comment or send any feedback or questions on this video or on the blog post.

Change for All Quadrants: Personal Change Planning – is now available for pre-order on Publishizer.
Campaign runs October 1-30, 2018.

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Thursday, October 11, 2018

Case Study: Personal Education


In this case study for the personal change planning model, I wanted to provide a case study for decision around whether or not to join a particular club or any other time-consuming activity. I would also think of this case study in terms of pursue a certification or pursue a new educational opportunity, one that is going to take some time.

What we’re going do is we’re going to do this using all four quadrants The quadrants are defined as – I, or the impact on myself – It, or the impact on someone else. I think that’s really important when we’re looking at personal change. We – any changes that I need to make in terms of how I interact with another person or other people. It’s – which are the systems and resources that might be impacted or that I might need for the change.

When we do this, we’re looking at two passes. First, to help us with our decision making. One is the short term impact across all four quadrants, which are shown here. The second is the longer term impact across all four quadrants. We’ll talk about that a little bit later. Then, once we decide, yes/no – this is worth pursuing, then we’ll take a look at what we have already available to us, which I think is the step that we often forget when we’re initiating a project or initiating change and what we need.

What I’m showing here is the decision that I made a couple of months ago over whether or not to join Toastmasters. Now, for those who aren’t familiar with Toastmasters, they’re an organization that’s been around for a really long time and they started as a group that helped each other become better public speakers; particularly in the format of giving toasts.

An old tradition is a best man, stands up at a wedding and gives a toast to the bride and groom. It was about perfecting that over the years. Particularly, in the last year, they’ve expanded their mission to become not just an opportunity to practice public speaking, get the support to overcome fears of public speaking, and get better at public speaking. They’re also doing a lot more around leadership and leadership skills and coaching skills and feedback skills. That’s what attracted me. When I approached, I already knew a little bit of about what the organization was. I also had an advantage in that my dad was a member of Toastmasters growing up, so I had a passing familiarity with the group.

The center of the model is the choice that we’re making and this is a yes/no choice. In a later example. I’ll go over choosing between options. The choice is do I join Toastmasters? Yes/No. The second part of the center is the why. Getting very clear on my primary reason for joining it. In this case, my why is to get better at public speaking, particularly extemporaneous public speaking. Now I’ve been in front of the classroom and doing online webinars for 20 plus years. I’ve never taken a public speaking class and I know even watching some of my recorded videos that I’ve developed some really annoying verbal ticks that I’m not real happy with. So it was important to me to go back and really work on my public speaking, particularly the extemporaneous public speaking.

That’s the primary reason. Now there are secondary why to this: networking. I am a solopreneur, so networking is always important. Finding community – that is important, but that is secondary to public speaking. Being very clear as to why I’m doing this will help me decide as opportunities present themselves what is most important and whether to say yes or no to it. Having that why there is going to remain very critical.

I’m going to turn on my laser pointer here. The first pass I take is the short term and really these first two passes only took five minutes each. Then what I do is I sleep on it and then I go back to it. So the first question I ask is what’s the short term impact on me and others and my systems and how I relate to people if I do this?

In the I quadrant, a short term impact is one – attending meetings. Going into new groups is always a little scary. The second thing that’s really important in this instance is to make sure I contribute to each one. Any of these is a give and take, I want to establish solid relationships right off the bat with a new group of people. The second one (actually the third) is they have something called Pathways – that’s the learning tracks within the organization. They did a really nice job (on these learning tracks), that’s one of the things that attracted me to this group. One of the things with the pathway that I need to make sure of is that I’m only doing one at a time and one project at a time. So … not getting too far ahead of myself, which is really, really easy to do.

Excuse me, for the dog. The second thing (fourth thing?) is belief. Going into it with a belief that I am interested – which is infinitely more important than the second part of this – and interesting. Mostly what I’ve found is that what I’m interested in others, I become more interesting. The one thing I don’t want to fall into is the, “Hi, I’m grilling you with questions because I’m too nervous to have an actual conversation with you.” That’s something that I’m working on. Maintaining that belief is really important. Then mindset. It’s really important with this change – actually with any change, but with this change in particular – to remind myself that just because I’m not the most inspirational speaker now I can become one with healthy practice and support. The whole idea behind Toastmasters is being able to support each other as we become inspirational speakers and not necessarily inspirational speakers as in, you know, “I’m going to stand up here and pretend to be Tony Robbins.” That’s not what I mean. Inspirational more in terms of I’ve inspired someone else to improve themselves. I think that’s the best way I can explain that. Those are the short term impacts. There needs to be a change in belief in myself and a change in mindset. Also just remembering not to get ahead of myself.

The change of the impact on others. Keeping in mind the impact on my household. My household consists of myself and Ryan who’s my life partner. Any decision or choice or change that I make that has me leaving the house or needing to make time for things, I need to make sure he’s accommodated. I’m very, very fortunate in that I’ve got an incredibly supportive partner, but on my side I need to make sure that everything’s copacetic. Ideally before I just do stuff. That’s just a value I have. That’s the type of relationship I have. It’s not even a permission thing. It’s more of a respectful, “This is what I’m up to, this is what I’m doing, this is where I’m going. You don’t have any plans for me, do you?” It’s a respectful thing like that.

The change in the impact on the We, which is how I relate to him, is just making sure I’m negotiating time for those meetings. I needed to have it up here because the impact on him is that he’s gonna have to cook for himself Monday night. Other impacts include getting to know the individuals in the community I don’t know. That’s kind of the short term impact. I don’t know what further impact this is going to have yet. I’ll talk about that on the next slide. In terms of we with friends and family, one of the things that has a short term impact is just sharing what I’m doing. Everybody’s really supportive. No one’s said “How dare you go out and learn more about public speaking.” This is not a terribly controversial activity.

Short term, this is a bunch of new people to me. I don’t know them very well. I didn’t go in there knowing anybody. What is important is that I show up, present and interested and polite. Trying to be my best self in each of those interactions. Demonstrating respect. I think that’s incredibly important with anybody, not just people we don’t know very well.

I think it’s almost more important that we demonstrate that respect with our closest friends and family. Then being open to feedback. One of the things with Toastmasters that can be a little challenging is that it really is about feedback and that I’m learning. A lot of people, I’ve noticed, find sometimes that feedback is really painful. Part of the lesson is figuring out how to give feedback and how to receive feedback and how to discern, productive feedback. I know the group that I’m with works very hard to make sure that the feedback they provide is productive and is in the right spirit. I know they want you to improve as much as you want them to improve.

In the Its area, short term, blocking time for the meetings and also commuting to the meetings and finding parking for the meetings. I live right outside of Washington DC. It’s not just the amount of time it takes to get from here to there, it’s also finding parking and it’s also the unpredictability of traffic, so I have to schedule that.

There are also projects. I have to block time for the speech writing and the projects, not just for the meetings. I did my icebreaker (first speech) a few weeks ago. It took me (I was super nervous so I took longer than it probably needed to) but that one took me about eight hours to decide what I was going to talk about and structure the speech, run it against the evaluation criteria, restructure the speech, decide to do another speech, repeat process. I don’t quite anticipate the other speeches to take nearly that long, but I do think eight hours is about the right amount of time. Especially since I seem to like tossing stuff and starting over again. I’ll get over that.

One of the short term things I need to do is figure out what the expectations are from the club, and also national. Each of the clubs have a national component. I also need to learn more about the Pathways process. They just changed their tracks. So it’s a learning experience for everybody. That that’s the important part. That’s the short term impact

The long-term impact. When we go into new activities I found oftentimes that we look at the short term, but we don’t necessarily look at how this is going to impact us long-term or operationally. This is true both for personal change and also for projects and organizational change. In long-term, too, I also think in terms of exit strategy as well as knowing when to call it quits.

I think that’s a good thing to ask about in these long-term quadrants. In the I quadrant, the impact on me, I will have to make a decision. This talks to my exit strategy as to whether or not I continue that commitment past my dues – so the end of 2018. That will give me four months to see how things go.I also need to make a decision in regards to what level of participation in volunteering I’m going to provide to the group. It’s good to make that decision early versus being asked, saying yes, and then realizing you have no time for any of the other stuff that you’re trying to do or you’re tired or I start neglecting my family. Being really mindful and remembering what I’m trying to get out of it.

I think making those decisions early now – you can always change them – but having an idea of why you’re making those decisions and what you’re trying to get out of the experience and what you want the experience to be like as you go through the process. I think is really important. That’s the I quadrant.

Now I’ve got these italics because I really don’t know. I need to see what the long-term impact is on my partner. I also need to see what the impact is on club members. Part of the evaluation is – is the giving and receiving even? Am I getting what I need out of the experience? Am I reciprocating what they’re providing? So far it’s been an even exchange, but that’s something that I need to keep an eye on. I also need to ask club members as well as I start developing relationships long-term. For Ryan, it’s really maintaining the boundaries and communication around the activities.

I should add this here – having him encourage me to get out of the house. It’s a little too easy, especially when I start hitting evening, for me to go, “Oh yeah, well I’ll skip it.” That’s way too easy. Ineed to ask him to continue to encourage me. “Hey, don’t you need to be somewhere Monday night?” That’s good for me. That’s an external accountability too.

Then with the club members, my goal is really to develop positive and mutually fulfilling relationships. They seem like a really nice group of people.

Then, in terms of systems, I do have to understand that there is a minimum operational commitment of time. I know at minimum I’m looking at two hours every two weeks and then for the Pathways or the work that I’m doing with the club. It’s to learn this public speaking. I’m estimating right now about eight hours per project. This is something I’m going to keep an eye on.

And then there are minimum costs that will come out operationally. There is annual dues. I’m involved with a community dinner club and one of the ways that they’re able to maintain that room in this restaurant is that they encourage us to get dinner. I need to make sure I budget for dinner every two weeks.

I’ve done my short term and I’ve done my long term and even though it took me longer to explain, the process took about five minutes. Typically I’ll sleep on it, and then go back to it and then I decide, yes/no, do I want to do the thing? This is a yes/no decision. In this case, the answer was obviously yes. Onto the next round.

Once I have determined that it’s a yes, the next thing that I need to do is think about what I have, what resources I have to work with already, and then what I need to do and what I need.

Again, these resources are in all four quadrants and I’m going to start in the I quadrant again. This really talks to internal resourcing and me and my mindset. The big thing that is really good in terms of what I’ve already got is that I’m not going in there petrified of public speaking, which is good. I have had stage fright and it’s not a lot of fun. The one thing that is really important is that I do not get complacent. One of the reasons why I’m in there is to improve my public speaking, going in there going, “Oh yeah, I’ve done this for 20 years.”That’s not gonna help. I really need to maintain beginner’s mind.

Another thing that does help me is – if you’ve ever read Don Miguel Ruiz’s The Four Agreements, one of them is fundamentally I do what I say what I’m going to do. I’m true to my word. If I tell them that I’m going to serve as grammarian, which is one of the roles that they have in the meeting, then I can trust because I’ve done this for a long time as a practice that I’ve got a 95 percent chance that I’m going to do what I say what I’m going to do, irregardless, unless I’m really sick and contagious or dying. We can argue about how healthy that is. It’s been a mindset that has really helped me over the years more than it hurt me.

In terms of resources I have from others, people with the roles and skills that can help support me, I have a supportive partner who does encourage me to get out more, which I am eternally grateful for. And my dad was actually a former Toastmasters member. When I was a kid he participated for a few years, so he has a little bit of subject matter expertise. Also, he’s been the one who tells me I mumble too much – usually at the dinner table. He’s a really good person to get feedback from.

Then in terms of We – the resources I have. Ryan,again. I just need to make sure that we maintain our lines of communication. And, thankfully, I’ve been involved in some really fantastic online communities and professional communities and some of the speeches that I’m planning to give as part of my toastmasters projects are very much centered around the professional work I’ve been doing over the years. They’re able to provide feedback on content and have offered to. I do intend on taking advantage of their offer because even though these are Toastmasters projects, I think they’re important and I’d like to be able to provide value to them by being as accurate as I can be.

And then in terms of resources, I’ve got so much material for speeches. I am incredibly fortunate that I’ve spent 20 some odd years doing stuff and so I’ve got a pretty good library of topics. I do have video, I’ve been doing online video for a long time. I’ve been doing my speeches as dress rehearsals by filming them first, much like this. I’ve got all the materials for that. Actually that reminds me – part of what I need to ask is whether or not they’re cool with me filming my next speech.

Money. Thankfully I also have enough money to cover costs right now. I do need to keep an eye on this. I do have a community toastmasters group nearby. I have noticed that a lot of the groups in this area tend to be affiliated with organizations. I don’t know what it’s like nationally right now. The fact that there is a community group nearby where their meeting is pretty easily accessible to me, particularly since I’d have to drive around during rush hour around here, is really awesome.

Finally I’m looking at things I need to be successful. In this case with Toastmasters, I need to really maintain beginner’s mind. I’m going to get in big trouble if I don’t maintain a level of humility about this. I need to improve my public speaking. I need to improve my extemporaneous speaking. I can learn a lot from others who have been practicing and have been actively working on their public speaking. Yes, I’ve done this for a long time, but I also can get better. And I can do so by maintaining beginner’s mind, that’ll do me a world of good.

There’s a belief I need to maintain, mostly about being able to become great public speaker and coach the coaching things new to me. I’ve managed drift for probably too many years by just doing the public speaking and not really working on getting good at it.

Then a mindset of maintaining openness to feedback and realizing that they are looking out for me and want me to improve. Now I know in many environments that’s not always the case, this one it is. If I was going into it new, I know they have free meetings where they invite guests and one of the things that I’ve really looked out for is how supportive are they with each other. It was very important to me that I found a group that was very, very focused on supporting each other. I can trust it that is accurate.

In terms of other people, what I need from my partner is encouragement. I do need to find an accountability partner, a coach, someone in the organization. I’m learning more in terms of what the club members are expecting from me and from each other. It does take time to embed in the community and it takes time to make friends. This is something that I just need to keep an eye on and just ask questions if I don’t understand something and just observe. You can learn a lot by observing the norms in any community.

Then in terms of how I interact with other people. Ryan, I’m going to use for feedback, also encouragement and I just need to ask him for encouragement. The online communities, again, I need to ask and then be open to the response. I’m going to wind up putting myself out there quite a bit over the next year as I go through this particular journey.

These are the resources, like the material resources in the system, resources that I need to put together. One is I just need to sit down and block the schedule. I’ve already done it for the meetings. I have not done it for speeches and I need to determine a cadence for when I intend to do projects. There’s a balance that I need to set. I don’t want to always be going up there speaking. I do want to spend some time in some of the other meeting roles and I’m sure they’d be very tired of hearing from me if every single meeting I went up there and spoke. I do also need to figure out what the formal expectations are. I know some of them, but not all of them.

And make time for that, both learning about it and doing what I need to do to fill those roles. I also need to get a better understanding of the participation structure. I need to get a better understanding of providing feedback and speech writing and what those norms are. After evaluating their materials, it’s pretty apparent to me that they are doing best practices. I just need to get clear on that. Practice it, get good.

This is my case study for joining a group. If you have any questions, comments, feedback about this video, please feel free to leave comments in the video comments or on the blog post where I’m also putting in the transcript for this video. Thank you so much for your time. I hope this helps.

Change for All Quadrants: Personal Change Planning – is now available for pre-order on Publishizer.
Campaign runs October 1-30, 2018.

Order Now