MEANING

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MEANING

Have you ever rolled your eyes at someone who asked, "What does it all mean?" only to find yourself going through some stuff a couple of days later and wondering the same thing?

I've been doing an interesting exercise recently asking myself why I do the things I do. For example, what's the point of this blog? Well, it's a communication tool to put some of my thoughts out there, connect with like-minded people, attract potential clients, and gather posts somewhat haphazardly that maybe later I'll sort into a book. Also, I love writing and the idea that maybe I can reach someone I didn't know and got them to thinking about something new, just once a week.

Why do I want to be a Coach and what do I hope to achieve? Being and working as a Coach means freedom to me, as well as using my extraversion and empathy to lend support, form relationships, learn, and be part of other people's lives in a joyful, helpful, peaceful, resourceful, inspiring way. Hence, writing down stories and articles every week, as well as researching possible market niches for my practice, preparing to launch a website and following seminars about how to be the best Coach I can be are some of the activities that add meaning to my life.

It's clear that once you set yourself a goal, the action you take in order to achieve that goal gives meaning to your life. You may also find meaning through the people in your life you love. What's usually more difficult to reconcile is how to find meaning in suffering. Natural disasters, bad news from your physician, your partner leaving you, losing your job, or working your behind to the ground and not seeing any benefits - now, what's the meaning of that? What's the point to keep on keeping on if it all just gets taken away again eventually anyway?

In his book "Man's Search for Meaning", Viktor E. Frankl powerfully illustrates how he survived almost three years in concentration camps by remaining hopeful towards the future, and making plans of what he still wanted to accomplish (namely re-writing the manuscript about Logotherapy that had been taken from him). Conditions in the camp were such that he refrained from waking a fellow prisoner from his nightmare, because "no dream, no matter how horrible, could be as bad as the reality of the camp which surrounded us" (page 29). And yet, he found meaning in his suffering and rose above the horror. He could not avoid the suffering, but he could and did influence his attitude towards it.

Note that I'm not comparing Frankl's suffering to anything, because I can't. But, alas, all of us go through our own rough times; celebrities, heads of state, even royalty are no exception. How are you dealing with suffering? Do you accept the cards you are being dealt and make the best of it? Do you wait under the covers until the storm passes? Do you seek help and counsel from others who have been through similar experiences? If you're going through a difficult time right now, I invite you to imagine yourself some time in the future, after this has passed - what have you learned from this experience? Looking back, what good came of this? How can you modify your attitude to maybe shine a little light of humor on the situation? What could be the point? Can you make this into something that offers meaning, if not to you, then to someone else?

Til next time, all the best wishes.

Image by mozzercork, Flickr, Creative Commons License.

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Home Country

Expat life is interesting, but there's no place like home. I'm currently on vacation visiting family - want to see where I grew up? All photos taken with an iPhone, no filters, no edits.

Do you recognize the places?

Lots of puffy clouds and greenery ahead, enjoy:

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Neuroscience of Type workshops in NYC

Dario Nardi, Ph.D., is an author and award-winning UCLA professor. Since 2005, he has been strapping EEG caps on his willing students to study real-time brain activity. He discovered that people with different personality type preferences use their brains in fundamentally different ways.

He's in New York today offering an afternoon and evening session hosted by the New York Chapter of the Association of Psychological Type on Monday, April 28th. You can register here

If you can't make it, buy his book, or have a look at this video:

Want to see for yourself?

I'm certified to facilitate Dario's findings on the neuroscience of Type. Fill out your own NeuroPQ inventory, 

http://neuroscienceofpersonality.com/

Enter your name, choose "Doris Fuellgrabe" as your facilitator, and answer 56 questions. You will be asked to provide demographic information for statistical analysis and administration purposes. 

Purchasing the Neuroscience of Type item on the right will prompt you to download a pdf describing how to book a debrief session. 

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Thoughts on Coaching and Teaching

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Thoughts on Coaching and Teaching

Time + Learning = Knowledge

Time + Learning = Knowledge

The more time you spend tinkering with something, reading about it, watching YouTube videos or TED talks, the more knowledge you're going to build. If you're really lucky, you'll also learn and grow through the lessons life gives you as you simply get older. 

At some point, people will come to see you as someone who knows about this thing, and ask you questions. They'll seek out your experience and what you can share with them so they might learn from you. This is valuable information they are willing to pay for, because learning from you saves them time.

That's teaching.

You can teach anyone something new who's not quite as far along on the Knowledge-generating journey as you are - even though they might be older and more experienced in other things. (Of course you can coach them as well by not answering their question, but instead asking them new ones. Personally, if someone asks me a direct question I can answer, I do.)

What about the experts in your field, who have studied your thing all their lives? They might not ask you questions about content, but you can still show them what an inquisitive mind can do, and remind them what it's like from time-to-time to see their field of expertise with new eyes. 

That's coaching. 

Best of all, as you work with the experts, your knowledge will keep growing, too.

Where can you bring teaching and coaching into your workplace or practice? 

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Sex Ed Across Cultures and Types

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Sex Ed Across Cultures and Types

CreativeMornings is a global, free, open to all, monthly breakfast lecture series. The theme this month is sex. If you haven't already, go visit your local chapter. In New York, we had the great pleasure (yes, pun) to hear Cindy Gallop, founder of If We Ran The World and Make Love Not Porn.

Her talk inspired me to start a survey - participate here (linked again below). 

Real-world sex is funny, messy, and responsible.
(We are) Pro-sex. Pro-porn. Pro-knowing the difference.
— Cindy Gallop

Not only is Cindy a compelling speaker, her message is affirming. Sexuality is as human, as natural as it gets - yet there's hardly any unembarrassed, unbiased, or transparent public debate about real-world sex.

She shared the struggles her company is going through (morality clauses make everything from financial backing to web hosting nearly impossible). She also shared her vision of a world where children and teenagers can learn about sex as they would about any other subject, and where adults can talk openly about their needs and desires, finding ways to make putting on condoms mid-passion seem sexy while embracing all the accompanying squishy-sweaty farting noises.

You'll be able to watch a recording of her creativemornings talk here, or view her TED talk, or her SXSW talk

Afterwards, I went up to her and asked about cultural differences. Growing up in Germany, I remember seeing naked women (fewer men though) on soap and shower gel ads - the body wasn't sexualized but shown as something you want to wash. In Cindy's experience, however, people of all nationalities have this in common:

Fear of what other people think is the most paralyzing thing - in business and in life.
— Cindy Gallop

Free and open as I always thought my mind was, I think she's right.

If I start blogging about sex, what will "they" say?

Well, "they" are you, so, this is where you come in: I'm curious, and have put together 15 questions (plus demographics) about how you learned about sex and sexuality. Please fill it out - completely anonymous - and share with your friends. Thanks! I'll post aggregated responses soon. 

https://www.quicksurveys.com/s/Mi3n6T7

 

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Tips and Examples for Effective Personalized Leadership Training

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Tips and Examples for Effective Personalized Leadership Training

Managing complexity, change, and strategic thinking are the most common leadership development competencies. No doubt you have spent multiple training hours on implementing frameworks and off-the-shelf solutions to help your teams be more effective. 

How did you define success? Were you able to measure a change in behavior and the impact on your bottom line?

I propose that while many existing courses about "Time Management", "Deal with Change", and "Embrace Ambiguity" have their rightful place in the Organizational Development curriculum, they're missing one crucial element: customization. 

No, I'm not talking about branding it to your company by slapping your logo on the slides. I mean actually customizing actionable implementation tips to the individual leader. 

How? 

By using Personality Type knowledge. 

"Oh my gosh, we have so many personalities among our leaders, I wouldn't know where to begin or how to get all of them under one hat. No way we can please everyone!"

Lucky you - the solution I'm proposing takes the guesswork out of it for you. 

"That's fine and dandy, but we need our leaders to commit to company goals; all root for the same goal; be team-players, you know?"

Lucky you - the solution I'm proposing will improve inner- and inter-team communication and collaboration. 

"Sounds great, but we've already committed to a program and can't really switch horses right now."

Lucky you - the solution I'm proposing works well as a stand-alone and can also be used to enhance existing programs. 

Enough teasing, drumroll please: welcome to Matrix Insights.

This brand new online platform provides in-depth personal profiles, comparison between Types, and Development Areas for each Type.

For example, "Breakthrough Leadership Skills" often come down to

  1. Dealing with Ambiguity and Paradox
  2. Managing Change and Complexity
  3. Strategic Agility

Every high-potential needs these skills to be successful. Traditionally, companies provide time management resources and operational management trainings for support. These are great and have their rightful place in leadership development, but I for one know that the same training class has different effects on its participants, and personality type is one of the deciding factors. 

To accelerate learnings from traditional trainings and make them stick better, faster, Matrix Insights provides Type-specific action items to practice building these skills. 

As such, Matrix Insights access can be added on top of existing programs to enhance content retention and engagement at the time of need, and it also makes an effective basis for one-on-one or group coaching. 

Here's an example using ESTJ and ENFJ leaders side by side.

ESTJ leaders have natural talents for organization, efficiency, and practicality. To develop the three skills mentioned above, here's a personalized approach:

Dealing with Ambiguity & Paradox
ESTJs like to rely on tried and true strategies when dealing with situations. They like to perfect what already works well and that does not always open the door for considerations to new choices. When faced with ambiguous situations, evaluate the tried and true options for responding and identify a couple of new ways to approach the problem at hand. Find others who can provide a significantly different view of the situation and who can suggest new tactics for addressing the presenting ambiguity.

Reduce ambiguity by declaring the A1.
Clarifying priorities by sorting associated tasks, identifying areas of needed information, and designating tasks by As, Bs, and Cs, where A is most important to C low importance. Even in the face of ambiguity or paradoxical uncertainty, knowing the A1--even if it is just for the day--is a clear step forward. Make a plan to revise the priorities over the course of several weeks when dealing with a complex problem as conditions will change and the current A1 may drop off the plate. Humans are galvanized around a priority and it is doubly so for ESTJs, so declare some.

Managing Change and Complexity for ESTJs
Who can provide you with alternative interpretations of information in change?  
Typically ESTJs are eager to take efficient action and to take care of the “to do list” as quickly as possible.  To do so, ESTJs need to confidently take action based on the information they have, which as a general rule, they have vetted and decided is worth their attention.  Herein lies the potential problem--speed and bias.  ESTJs can improve their management of change if they do not assume that everyone has the same perspective and if they actively solicit views from others on the change under consideration.  In fact, make a list of all of those individuals who typically see things differently from you and seek out their perspectives.  What and how will they interpret some of the messages that you are contemplating providing during change can be useful to consider.  They may even provide you with tips for making the messages clearer and more useful.

What rules of thumb make dealing with complexity easier?
ESTJs are naturals at finding “rules of thumb” to make sense of and act on situations.  Usually, their approach to complexity is to break it into smaller units of information and respond in a more tactical manner; however, this may not serve them well in terms of understanding the layers of dynamics in a situation nor will it clarify how to manage those dynamics that haven’t been fully recognized.  Usually, ESTJs have had enough experience with an array of situations that they have a useful set of heuristics or pragmatic tips for addressing similar situations in the future.  There is value in creating a  “tactics log” to identify the most typical ways to manage change and to enrich this list, ask others for their short rules for various complex situations.  

Strategic Agility
Action plan inclusive of speculative outcomes?
Make a list of five hypothetical adjustments on a product or service regarding how this product or service might look in ten years given social, technological, and economic changes. Speculate based on a few hunches and create a elevator sales pitch on each of the five hypotheticals. Discuss your explorations with a colleague and examine how this kind of process can aid strategic thinking.

Found a way to explore trends?
More often than not ESTJs require more data points than intuitive types before reporting that a trend exists. Practice projecting a trend based on three data points rather than having a large set of data to create a prediction. One of the challenges of ESTJs is to learn to create a possible trend based on a few data points so with this tip, practice the stretch.

Leaders with ENFJ preferences, by contrast, have innate abilities for empathy, mentoring, and maintaining harmony. Obviously, they would approach the three skills from a completely different angle:

Dealing with Ambiguity and Paradox
Looking for the perfect outcome?
Even though it is clear that there are no perfect solutions ENFJs often look for them. In a psychological “feedback loop” built into their type dynamic, ENFJs “see” possible solutions which are “evaluated” and found unacceptable. This prompts more interest in finding better solutions. It is important to become aware of this and to break the pattern. Create a list of the mission critical criteria to use in evaluating the available data and outlined options. This will enable ENFJs to identify what is sufficient and effective.

Energy levels unusually high?
ENFJs find that they become more energized by solving complex problems and ambiguity usually makes things much more complex. A very important strategy for keeping all this in perspective is to make note of the energy level and evaluate how this is serving you at the time. There is a good chance that taking time out and meditating--even for a few minutes--will introduce a relaxation response which has the benefit of encouraging focus and directing attention that leads to finding a successful response to the situation at hand. 

Managing Change and Complexity
Use empathy to help drive change?
ENFJs have a knack for understanding what others are experiencing.  This ability can benefit their change management tactics by tapping into the needs of others and stepping into other perspectives on the change that is to be implemented.  While such empathetic “sight” might not change the decisions in change, it can inform how best to communicate, what to anticipate, and how to respond to others finding the change difficult. 

Using cues to go with the flow in complex situations?
Complex situations are in a state of flux--the greater the complexity, the more energy is in the system where the complexity resides.  ENFJs can quickly ascertain the complexity of situations and in their passion to help contribute to improving things, they may bypass some key clues.  A useful question to ask yourself is: What factors am I emphasizing and what might I see in the situation if I changed emphasis?  What methods of monitoring shifts in the situation have I put in place? How are you observing or monitoring the primary movers, influencers, and doers in the situation?

Strategic Agility
Why the urge to decide clips your agile considerations.
Being strategically agile means being able to flex with new information or new insights. ENFJs are wired to decide and move forward, whether or not the situation requires it. When in this mode, ENFJs spend energy on deciding and acting on what is believed to be the best strategic plan at the moment. This inoculates ENFJs from paying attention to new emerging ideas. Create a strategy log or journal in which you can keep your ideas and sketch out possibilities.

Cutting loose from the values anchor.
Like other NFs, ENFJs seek to take action and make recommendations on options that align with values and ideals. This creates a drag on new energy and on agile considerations that may emerge. One of the ways to manage this is to be unambiguous about the top five values on which you based your decisions. The clearer you are about those values, the easier it is to contract choices and measure the impact on the current choice and to ask what other choices can be pursued that value those not able to attend.

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What's even more powerful than knowing your own Type? Knowing your team's.

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What's even more powerful than knowing your own Type? Knowing your team's.

Back in December I spent a week with an extraordinary group of people in a co-working space called Studiomates. We clarified Type preferences for a lot of talented creators and creatives at the time - most of them asking what this knowledge might mean for their relationships, all of them open and eager to learn more. 

Yes, Type practitioner heaven. :-) 

Last week I had the privilege of getting a dozen individuals around the table who actually form a team. Everyone already knew their Type, but here was the chance of experiencing how Type preferences show up in everyday working situations, and seeing it all in one framework.

The Type table is such a simple tool that it's easy to sweep under the rug, but it's the only tool I know that can powerfully demonstrate holes in diversity, potential areas of over-emphasis, and potential blind spots. I find it particularly helpful in homogenous teams, where inevitably, one or more people have to operate outside of their own preferences, and are likely to experience increased stress.

Here's a blank framework for your consideration:

Blank Type Table

Blank Type Table

Each of the 16 Types is represented by its 4-letter Myers-Briggs© shorthand, as well as its Temperament / Essential Motivator™, Interaction Styles™, and pattern description as published by Dr. Linda Berens. You'll see the 8 cognitive function shorthand on the right in the order they appear as well.

Practitioner Tip:

When introducing Type in the glory of all its 256 potential combinations, make sure your group or team has basic (ideally solid) prior knowledge of Type. A one-page "cheat sheet" of all functions and basic Type descriptions helps participants stay on top of the information. 

Bonus:

'cos they're awesome - here are some "lessons learned" illustrations, shared anonymized / with permission:

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Your Brain in Numbers

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Your Brain in Numbers

You've probably heard by now that your brain is the most formidable organ ever to have existed.

The kid on Jerry Maguire taught you that the human head weighth three poundth

But did you know that a Japanese super computer - the fourth largest in the world - tried to simulate one second of 1 % of a human brain's capability - and that took 40 minutes? (1) 

So what are some other numbers to describe your brain? 

Apparently, Intel is working on a computer with similar processing power as the brain. Look out for a notice ca. 2018. 

For another great article on how alcohol doesn't actually kill brain cells (except if you drink it in quantities or concentrations that would actually kill the whole you), read this

Image by Gerry Shaw, Creative Commons License

Reference:

(1) http://www.popsci.com/article/science/supercomputer-takes-40-minutes-create-super-detailed-model-1-second-brain-activity?dom=PSC&loc=recent&lnk=2&con=supercomputer-takes-40-minutes-to-create-superdetailed-model-of-1-second-of-brain-activity 

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