Get Better! The Seven Pillars of Personal Development for Change Agents

Uncategorized Dec 09, 2020

Want to give back better?

The timeless wisdom is that truly lasting change out in the world starts from within yourself.

Mahatma Ghandi has inspiring sayings for all of us who feel a calling to make the world a better place: 

"If you want to change the world, start with yourself

"Be the change you want to see in the world" 


But how do we put this wisdom into practice in our daily lives? In the last post we explored the six obstructing angels--the habitual states of mind that can so easily get in the way of our impact and our joy as change agents.  This post is all about how you can break free from these patterns.  Change takes work, but breaking free from even our longest running patterns doesn't have to be as hard as we might fear. 

Powerfully convergent wisdom & research

Over the past five years of my own journey I've delved deeply into the arenas of human flourishing and personal growth, as well as systems thinking and social change,...

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Overcoming the Six Obstructing Angels: Part 1

Uncategorized Dec 02, 2020

Who took your impact?  Who took your joy?  Do you want them back?

If you've got a strong calling to make the world a better place, chances are you've also had some times in your life when you really felt stuck--when you felt like you weren't showing up as your best self and making anything like the progress you aspire to.  And chances are, whenever you've felt like you were coming up short in your calling, you've also come up short feeling joyful and fulfilled across lots of other areas in your life.  That's the flip side of having that calling--it doesn't let you rest when you're not leaning into it! 

In my own journey, and with many of the social entrepreneurs and philanthropists that I've coached and advised I've seen a common pattern of how we can get stuck like this.   

In this post we're going to walk through these six "obstructing angels."  Kind of a funny phrase.   But think of these as guardian angels gone wrong--obstructing...

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Collaborative Problem Solving--it's not just for kids!

Uncategorized Nov 24, 2020

What do you do when you have a disagreement with a five year old?  What about with an adult who acts like a five year old, or makes you feel like one yourself? Are you sick of circling around the same conflicts, over and over, never reaching a lasting solution?

Collaborative problem solving is a great tool for resolving conflicts and creating solutions that last because they meet everone's underlying needs.   Sound like a pipe dream?  It's not--but it does require you to practice and master some specific skills and techniques.

This video walks you through the collaborative problem solving tool developed by child psychologist Ross Greene, as well as Marshall Rosenberg's   "I-message" framework which is a great way to initiate the collaborative problem solving process in adult relationships.

The 6 Steps of Collaborative Problem Solving

  1. Identify and agree on a problem that you and the other person are trying to solve
  2. Invite the other person to identify...
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Partnership Brokering: what to do when #coalitionsfail

Uncategorized Nov 18, 2020

If you have a calling to make the world a better place, chances are you've spent too much time working in coalitions that do a better job of torturing their members than getting any real work done in the world. 

Thankfully, there is a better way: it's called Partnership Brokering.  It's been used for over twenty-five years to advance sustainable economic development projects all over the world, and it's a great way to do collaboration differently.

One of the biggest reasons coalitions fail is that they focus only on the collective interest that brings everyone together.  A key insight from the partnership brokering field is that to collaborate effectively in the face of complexity you have to pay even more attention to naming and taming the key INDIVIDUAL interests that each party brings with them.   When those individual interests are left unspoken, they lead to all kinds of dysfunction, suspicion and lost opportunities. 

The core principles for a...

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The Restorative Power of Deep Listening

Uncategorized Nov 10, 2020

Did you know that 67% of American men would rather administer a mild electric shock to themselves than to sit quietly with their own thoughts for more than 6 minutes? 

 That’s pretty crazy, but it’s true.  This was the finding from a series of experiments done at UVA and published in Science Magazine July 2014.  And by the way, it's not just the guys.  25% of women also took the shocking way out of listening to themselves.  

What's going on here--why are so many of us so uncomfortable with listening deeply to ourselves, let alone others?  And what might happen if you stepped up your game, listening more deeply to yourself, to those you are closest too, and perhaps even to those with whom you have profound differences?

This post explores the transformative power of deep listening.  The kind of listening that: 

  • Is rooted in genuine curiosity
  • Seeks understanding
  • Steps outside your own psychology
  • Opens you up to being moved
  • ...
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Meditation and Mindfulness: 9 Ways to Get Started if You're Getting Stuck

Uncategorized Nov 03, 2020

Establishing a regular practice of  meditation is a great way to clear your mind and set yourself up for more joy and impact across all the areas of your life.  If you're someone who doesn't meditate you might be  getting pretty sick of hearing this from everyone who does! 

Maybe you've tried meditation and found that rather than bringing you peace every time you try to quiet the voice in your head it just starts chattering even louder.  This was definitely my experience when I first tried it.  Because of this I went for years believing that meditation might be great for some people, but it just wasn't for me. 

The good news is there are all kinds of ways into the world of meditation and mindfulness.  The main thing is just to get started and try some things out until you find something that works for you.  

This video offers an introductory overview to a variety of meditation and mindfulness techniques.  Whether you're...

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Systems Thinking and Root Cause Analysis

Uncategorized Oct 28, 2020

Having the discipline and commitment to “get real” is particularly important for all of us with aspirations to “change the world.”  As change agents, our idealistic vision of how the world could be is frequently what excites us and pushes us forward.  Unfortunately, this sometimes leads us to shy away from dealing with the complex, imperfect, and messy world as it actually is.  

Without a deep understanding of what’s real—of how the complex systems we seek to improve actually function, particularly around dynamics of power, community, race and identity—we cannot be sure that our solutions are the right ones, or if they  are truly moving things in a positive direction.   This is why those who appoint themselves to the role of “change agent” must be cautious  of their own vision, especially if they do not participate closely in the system they seek to change.  In the...

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Engineering Habits with James Clear's Four Laws of Behavior Change

Uncategorized Oct 22, 2020

How do you take a new habit from aspiration to automatic?   For many of us, this is one of the biggest questions we have as we seek to build up a set of positive daily practices that will carry us forward in our journey towards more joy and more impact across all the areas of our lives.  And most of us know that relying on sheer willpower is not a winning formula!

This post walks through a key framework from James Clear's research into the science of habit formation--the "four laws of behavior change" that he lays out in his outstanding book Atomic Habits.  

Clear explains that any habit, positive or negative has four components

1. Cue

2. Craving

3. Response

4. Reward

And he posits that the best way to make a positive behavior stick is to engineer each of these four components in a particular way.

  1. Cue: Make it obvious
  2. Craving: Make it attractive
  3. Response: Make it easy
  4. Reward: Make it satisfying

The reverse is true for habits that...

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Maximizing Your Personal Influence: Tools for Positive Persuasion and Inspiration

Uncategorized Oct 12, 2020

All of us have situations in which we would like to increase our ability to positively influence and inspire others.  This post reviews practical highlights from some recent research by behavioral science researcher Jonah Berger, as well as Bain and Company that you can apply to step up your skills to be persuasive and inspiring. 

And as you seek to build your skills for engaging positively with others, it is so important to remember being truly present with others also means opening yourself up to being influenced by them.   Sometimes the most important thing you can do as a force for good, whether out in the world or with your own friends and family is to step back from your certainty that you just need to get everyone else on board with your plan and genuinely tune into how you can allow others to influence your own perspective. 

Jonah Berger's 5 Keys to Persuasion

With this in mind, here's a summary of Jonah Berger's 5 ways to  remove barriers...

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Getting Visionary: Starting with Your What and Your Why

Uncategorized Oct 05, 2020

The first step on the Joyful Impact journey is about getting visionary. 

Many of us doing the work of social change feel as if we are committed to pursuing a vision for a better world.  But even it you feel like you already have a vision--it's worth asking yourself is my vision truly as clear and compelling as it could be? 

When it comes to getting visionary in pursuit of joyful impact, you need to start with clarity--not just about the difference you want to make in the world, but also about how you want to show up as your highest and best self across all the key areas of your life.   Here's why: we achieve joy and fulfillment in life by living in alignment with our highest selves. And so having clarity about who we are in our highest selves makes it much easier to become more fully conscious of what it takes to live in alignment. 

This post, and the worksheet that goes with it, guides you through the process of producing a 2-part personal...

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These are the same materials we use with the social entrepreneurs in our accelerator program and the funders we coach one on one.  The world has never been more in need of a new, greatest generation of change agents and that's why we're opening up free access to these materials to anyone who's ready to make use of them!