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Thursday, December 30, 2021

January 2022: How Did I Get Here?

I traditionally take this week between Christmas and New Year's to get some "balcony time" to reflect on the past year and prepare for the new one. As one website states, "So many things call for our attention at work every day that we can get completely caught up in the day-to-day business of business—what’s happening on the 'dance floor.' Getting up in the balcony allows leaders to gain perspective and shape vision."

As you can imagine, this time in the balcony was especially... a lot to process. I used some directed questions (see below) to get me started, and I let myself really remember how completely bat*$(# crazy this year was. Which is saying something because 2020 was certainly no joke either! I won't cycle through the summary of this year's headlines that will loop on repeat in the next couple of days on every news outlet, but WOW. The lyrics to Once in a Lifetime by the Talking Heads keep rattling around in my head... (Especially "And you may ask yourself, 'Well... how did I get here?'")

In the midst of it all, my work with clients has plowed ahead. I am still digging in with several clients in terms of #leadershipdevelopment -- creating new manager training competencies, constructing more efficient and relevant onboarding processes, shaping better employee engagement activities, to name a few. But on top of that, I am kept very busy by providing workshops and conversations on #stressmanagement, #resilience, and overall #wellbeing. And recently I have had some truly powerful discussions around #neurodiversity. I am learning so, so much. 

To indicate the interest I am discovering around these concerns around #wellbeing: I post about once a week on LinkedIn, and I average from 15 to maybe 300 views... but two weeks ago I posted an article titled "Feeling constantly stressed? Blame your 'threat brain'" and it got 3,817 views! Alrighty then.

So here is what I am reading and using with clients. Please do let me know what connects for you.

🎼 🎧 Science-Backed Productivity Playlists to Help You Dive Deeper Into Work.  Personally, I need something in the background to help me focus when I need to put my head down and laser in on one thing. Here are some playlists that might be helpful to you if you like to do that as well? 

😡 Staying Sane at Work. This is a podcast interview with Dr. Laurie Santos, who leads the most popular course on Coursera, which I have taken and recommended here, The Science of Well-Being (I still REALLY recommend it). This interview appears on the "Ten Percent Happier" podcast, which is a tremendous resource for those looking for creative, helpful methods of #self-care.

πŸ“† End of Year 2021 Self-Reflection Questions. These are the ones referenced in the first paragraph above. Listen to the podcast given in the link, or scroll down and just use the 10 questions given. Questions 1, 2, 6 and 8 were the most productive for me. How about you?

✍🏾 Feeling Anxious? Journaling Might HelpFollowing up from my post in November on the value of journaling: Here is a quote from this month's article that sums up why I journal every day: "When people use writing to express themselves, Dr. Wright said, they 'increase emotional regulation, clarify life goals, find meaning, and give voice to feelings, which can help construct a meaningful story.' She added that looking back through old journal entries can remind the writer of the times she struggled but persevered."

✅ 22 for 22. Call them resolutions, call them goals, call them a bucket list... but I appreciate setting my sights on some things to work on and look forward to and challenge myself to try in the coming year. I did this last year via Gretchen Rubin's challenge to do the same (21 for 2021) and many were accomplished. Do this in a way that is life-giving and fun.

πŸ‘‚πŸ½ What You Discover When You Really Listen. I have learned that the activities of coaching and consulting with others (coupled with decades of pastoral care in my previous careers) requires focus (as opposed to multi-tasking), presence, curiosity, and the ability to keep going through the layers. This TedTalk by Hrishikesh Hirway captures that process -- it provides valuable insight for managers and leaders, but also for individuals as they relate to everyone important to them. Amazing.

πŸŽ™ Podcasts that I Can't Stop Listening To. Sometimes I feel like I could create a separate blog just for this topic... I am regularly awestruck and energized by the content I run into. My two latest favorites feed off of the recommendation directly above ~ perhaps you've already discovered Song Exploder on Netflix hosted by Hirway, which unpacks the process, in tremendous and fascinating detail, of how a song is written through in-depth interviews with the songwriter. But there are only a few episodes... so if you want a steady stream of new songs, I recommend the Song Exploder podcast. A similar podcast, yet totally different, comes from BBC Radio 4 that is called Soul Music. The title is a bit misleading... it does not solely cover soul music; rather, like Song Exploder, it explores stories behind all sorts of music -- but from the perspective of the listener, interviewing people who have had their lives (and souls) deeply impacted by a particular song. The episode of U2's I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For is outstanding. P.S. If you enjoy this exploration of the creative process, sign up for several hours of watching (which I found tedious occasionally, but overall very worthwhile) the documentary on the Beatles called Get Back.

🧊 ⛏ 25 Icebreaker Questions for Meetings and Groups ~ latest updateI try to regularly compile list of questions for teams to use to break the boring chitchat at meetings, so here's my newest list. Previous lists can be found at and

There are even more things to recommend, but that's enough for now. I hope I get to connect with you in the new year. Please feel free to reach out with questions and feedback at Thanks for reading.

Thursday, December 2, 2021

December 2021: What is Work?

During calls with clients one day this week, I "went" to Bosnia, Thailand, and England -- and Chicago in the US. I could never have imagined that work could look like that even ten years ago. It is equal parts fascinating and disorienting. Each day, week, and month I am seeing more and more how work is shifting and changing: when it happens, how it is accomplished, who I collaborate with, how we communicate, how it grows... just to name a few of the transformations I'm witnessing and experiencing.

This month's post is all about the ways I'm thinking and learning about "work." There is no order of importance or sequence here... each thing I list this month simply speaks somehow to the question of "What is work?"

πŸ•° The Future Of Work Is Asynchronous—And These Companies Are Leading The WayI'm having so many conversations about this, but it requires a massive paradigm shift in the way projects are managed and work is accomplished. Once you actually start understanding and using these new, foreign words "asynchronous" and "synchronous," this article might help you jumpstart the paradigm shifting process. Go ahead -- take the leap!

🧠 Neurodiversity at Work. I have already shared this individually with several people and with a team of managers. This is a tremendous episode. We ALL work with and know neurodiverse people, even if we don't realize it... ADHD, OCD, dyslexia, autism spectrum: all fall under this grouping of neurodiversity. This podcast episode is wonderful and enlightening, including interviews with a man on the autism spectrum who worked as an intern at Procter & Gamble, a supervisor of neurodiverse employers, and a clinician. Please listen and share this with others. We all need to keep learning about this to be better colleagues, supervisors, friends, family members and citizens.

πŸͺœ HBR Ascend. This is my new favorite Instagram account, though I've linked you to their website here. It is designed to "help young professionals find their place in the working world and realize their personal and career goals." Lots of good material on starting a career, well-being, and pursuing professional development. Everyone would benefit from the content here.

πŸ‘¨πŸ½‍πŸ’» Workers of the world, stay home! I know, there are so many opinions swirling about remote work. But this interview with Anne Helen Petersen and Charlie Warzel is a discussion about the real issue: how we define, measure and accomplish work in the 21st century.

πŸ™πŸ½ Pico Iyer and Elizabeth Gilbert – The Future of Hope. Admittedly, this conversation is really about LIFE, not work. It seems to capture so much of what we have all gone through since March 2020, and I just had to include it. Listen to it in a quiet space. It is very tender and thoughtful. 

🏴‍☠️ Random Stuff! These were all fun things I bumped into when I needed a brain break so my brain wouldn't break... (har de har har).

  • Free Classic Books Online. A very clean and simple website called "Library Athena." But of course you have read these lovely works already! 🀣
  • How Bowling Balls Are Made. Could. Not. Stop. Watching. This.
  • Book DonkeyIn case you need to be reminded of your many blessings, and of the beauty tucked into so many places in the world. 
  • Cool organizational tool. I received this from a client (and former student who is now a stud!). Looks so-o-o-o nice.

Final thoughts...

"We are what we repeatedly do."
Aristotle (via Will Durant)

Many thanks for reading.... As always, feel free to reach out to me with feedback or questions at


Hearty Bread for the Whole Journey? aka, "What's with the vague subtitle?"

If you have sat through (endured? enjoyed?) one of my Strengths Finder presentations, you know that I often refer back to my life as an eter...