Today’s value: Playfulness

Even if you feel you no longer got it, you probably had it as a child. Being playful is one of the ways to stop time, to fully be in the flow, to be immersed in what is going on right where you are. It requires concentration, lightly held to allow room for new things to emerge. What about this? What if I put this over there? Let’s see what that does. There is a lightness to it.

Playfulness does not have a goal, except itself. In our overscheduled lives, this makes it a radical act. It also makes it a necessary one, for playfulness is what gives birth to innovation and new ideas. It is also the perfect antidote to adulthood turned calcification. Ever watched how a grandma’s face changes when playing with her granddaughter? Life itself flowing right back. Kids often allow parents to have a second round at this. Nieces, friend’s kids also work to tickle that side in you. Or the puppy from the shelter. The art workshop.

But its been so long. But I have forgotten. But I don’t have the time. What will my boss think? Oh you adults. It really doesn’t take much to get back into that mood… using what is there and creatively exploring its for maximum enjoyment. Play with the water a bit when you do your dishes, you got that fancy shower head faucet for a reason (nobody is watching). Use your hands to make the burger patties (it’s OK to play with your food). Hop along the sidewalk stones making a pattern (ignore them, they are just jealous they don’t have the guts). Find words that rhyme and switch up your favorite song lyrics as you go for your run (park animals love early morning songs). Wear that tie or scarf that you never quite thought you could pull off. Hang up that wonky drawing from your niece, right next to your fancy credentials in your office. Try out a different thing when opening your next team meeting. And if you feel you can’t quite pull it off yet, invite your team to make a start and let them know you are genuine. And for the sake of your younger self, play along. Let life back in. It will be good for you.


Check out the values worksheet here.
Or
go deeper and get the book.
Or
ping me about how coaching might help. 

On speed

Our lives consist of multiple facets that all grow and develop. Just not all at the same speed – remember puberty? (Hormones vs neocortex in the neverending battle of “is that actually a good idea”). Later, as our adult lives are chugging along, unless we get pushed from the outside, we rarely stop and check in with ourselves, our loved ones, our environment. We rarely take step back and check where we are, and how the puzzle of our different areas of life fits together, and what might need attention before things blow up.

It’s a bit like a dance choreography, or square dancing, where different parts can do their own thing for a bit, but then there are key points where everything needs to come together for this to work to not have your or others’ toes stepped on. Sometimes we need to take a look how these different sections work, in isolation, but also in their combination. Where are pain points? Where are things that just constantly drain energy?

Check out the values worksheet here.
Or
go deeper and get the book.
Or
ping me about how coaching might help. 

…but is it art? (and who cares)

Creativity might be part of your core values. As an activity in your own life, or in appreciating what others do. The question then might become “is it art”, and therefore possibly “is it worth it”. If you are not in that field as an “industry” and you can put your inner critic on pause (no mean feat), this question becomes less important over the magnificence of the act of creation itself, and the sheer number of possibilities this unlocks for yourself and, by extension, everyone around you.

If you didn’t like drawing at school, don’t worry. Creativity really is for everyone. In the broader sense has something to do with taking inspiration from the outside, linking it to something inside of you, and making this into something new that then comes alive on the outside again. Or, if you will, some form of putting spirit into matter. The outcome could be all sorts of things. A new recipe for a salad, a solved engineering problem, an insight translated into a conversation or vice versa, a beautiful framework to cut through a thought-mess, a vision becoming reality. Or, actually, nothing; aka something that isn’t quite done yet (and never fully might be), and that’s OK too.

It’s about not getting in the way of what wants to materialize, realizing none of this is linear (while still doing the work). On bad days it may feel like being in a chain gang with your-selves in endless painful grinding minuscule repetition with no end, outcome or goal in sight – in your least favorite weather while being ridiculed by the entire village. On good days it might feel not like doing, but more like bearing witness to an emerging miracle, so breathtakingly beautiful that tears replace words.

It doesn’t matter how big the outcome is, how visible, and if it is going to win any awards. As long as we know it is there. We are doing the work. We are sticking with it and eventually, we will have created something out there. It will then need to start walking by itself, make its own friends and find new creative ideas to mate with. And we have no idea what that might lead to, and that is the beauty of it.

What we create and put out there can change a day or a life for a person, and we might never see the longer-term implications this might have. Maybe that person then felt great as a result and had a really important conversation with their kid at home that will come to full fruition 10 or 20 years later. Or they muster the courage to embark on a journey of creation themselves. In all likelihood, we will never know. All we can do is keep the intention, do the work, get out of our own way, and create things. If we do enough of that, this will result in some next steps somewhere down the line that make a positive difference. Whether it’s art or not (that’s a picture of radishes).

Check out the values worksheet here.
Or
go deeper and get the book.
Or
ping me about how coaching might help. 

On contribution

You have some sense of your values, who you are and what you would like to contribute to the greater whole (that is great by the way, not everyone does). Or you don’t quite yet (give a shout, I help with things like that).

The next step is not trivial: What am I going to do with that? What does that mean in practice? How and where can I make a difference?

“I am helping X to get Y by using Z”. That is a good start to make things understandable for everyone not living in your own head. The more granular you are able to get, the easier it will make your search.What are these X, Y, Z? Where else are they relevant? Who else could benefit from this?

Brainstorm, and involve people who know you well. Involve well-connected near-strangers. If nobody is around, pick a magazine you would normally never read and mentally figure out what “your craft”, your business superhero power would look like for a company or organization like this or that, or for that sector mentioned, or for famous person A or B and the field they are in.

Also, watch what makes you angry. That is a fantastic guide to what you truly care about and where you are ready to storm into battle to defend it. Anger is often triggered when something you deeply care about gets violated. What is that thing that you are looking to protect? How can you apply that out there?

See if that sparks anything. Keep notes and over time, watch what sort of patterns emerge. You might already be in the right place where you are (and that is a good thing). Or we have an urge to try something different, to maybe find another outlet elsewhere where we feel we might be able to do more. Then a journey of exploration starts. Volunteering can be a good entryway to test the waters. Networking and talking to people in the field you are looking to enter.

And don’t forget: No matter how big your aspirations and purpose: You won’t have to do it alone. In fact, you most likely wouldn’t be able to. There’s 7 billion of us, that is a pretty good team size for a world changing assignment, and there are roles for everyone.

What is yours?

Check out the values worksheet here.
Or
go deeper and get the book.
Or
ping me about how coaching might help. 

(2021 small edit as a section featured long flights and other travel which seems a bit outdated…)

How values help getting an overview

You are somewhat aware of your most important values. How do they play out in your life? In all likelihood, not all of them are flourishing in equal measure. Which ones are at the forefront? Which ones could do with a bit of TLC? And sometimes there is one that always seems to be on the backfoot unless something major happens.

How fulfilling is your current setup to their flourishing? How do they influence how you planned your week? Keep a list of your key values around when you plan your week, your day, your next big priorities. What sorts of things let your values flourish? Can you get yourself more of these?  For example, if collaboration is a key value, do you get enough of it? Anything you could tweak? Or if you value creativity, and there is not enough of it in your work, what about that artistic project you have been pushing back? Catching up with your little niece? Maybe that’s something to consider on the weekend.

How did your Monday go? Anything on a practical level you could do to allow your values to flourish more throughout the rest of the week? And the weekend?

This is not just about knowing what your key values are. Unless you make some changes in your daily life, they are just nice-sounding words on paper. And that would be a lost opportunity for a big increase in happiness…


Check out the values worksheet here.
Or
go deeper and get the book.
Or
ping me about how coaching might help.