'Tis the Season, Winter in Canada
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Winter

The calendar indicates that we are still in the fall season. HMMMM Out my window I see winter. This morning it was milder than usual for this time of year and it had rained last night so there was a layer of ice over everything that made my 300 step walk from my apartment to my office a little tricky.

I heard the other day on CBC radio that Canadians have the largest wardrobes, that is they own the most clothes. Our weather is such that we have to have clothes for four very different seasons. We have summer, fall, winter and spring clothes that we may need anytime of the year depending on the weather. So very true.

This week I have been sorting and selecting pieces from my own wardrobe that I am hoping refugees might appreciate … things I no longer wear in that overstuffed wardrobe. To be honest I like the change of seasons and the need for lots of different kinds of clothes. I also love my winter forays to the south which have taught me that it is always summer somewhere. I keep my sundresses and shorts handy at all times in case I need to head south but I had really never thought about the need for more pieces in a wardrobe here as opposed to other places in the world. In fact it is hard to imagine only needing summer clothes.

We Canadians also talk about the weather more than other people in other places do. There is obviously more to discuss. Weather changes rapidly here and sometimes our lives depend on how prepared we are for the changing conditions we face. We are also better prepared physically and emotionally to help others in need. People call us NICE and we are in part I am sure because we know that if we don’t stop for someone freezing by the side of the road that they could actually die.

The other cool (as in interesting) part is that we have fewer weather related deaths than many other countries. Good work CANADIANS. Stay prepared and be cautious out there and look after each other. Keep that extra layer of clothing from your abundant wardrobe in your car. It’s WINTER again and although it is supposed to be milder than most we still need to be ready for anything.

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BEACHs, PULSE Conversations, PULSE Enneagram, Social Exchange, UVI PULSE webinars
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Wednesday’s UVI-PULSE Webinar

This week on Wednesday I will be doing a webinar for the University of the Virgin Islands. You can register on their website.  UVI-PULSE.  This week I am going to talk more about the nine different approaches to the world that can be learned by studying the Enneagram.

I think it will be of interest to anyone who wants to develop their understanding of the nine positions on the Enneagram circle and how you can use the PULSE grid to find out where someone is at the moment.  I will also talk about how you can predict where they might go and how you can help people move when they get stuck.

It should be fun.  There will also be a short ebook available to people who register.

Any exposure to the cultures of the nine points is help full.  It can take only an hour to know how they work and a life time to fully understand.  I always say start anywhere and go everywhere when you are learning a complex concept like the BEACHs.  I hope you join us to expand your knowledge and add to the conversation.

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BEACHs, SHIFT Happens, Social Exchange
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10 Seconds

At my dad’s retirement home there is an elevator.  Once you step in, the door waits 10 seconds before it closes.  somedays that 10 seconds feels like an anxious eternity.  Other days it is a quiet vacation from the hectic world.  I always find it is interesting how time is relative to your state of mind.  Most of the residence push the ‘close door’ button immediately unwilling to wait for the doors to close on their own.  I always wonder why.  Is it because they are anxious to get back to their rooms?  Is it the seemingly natural impatience that I have noticed comes with age … or at least for my dad?  Or is it that time has become precious and waiting for an elevator door is not how they want to spend any of the 10 second timeframes they have left on this earth?

I like to wait for the door to close on its own.  I like to notice my own state during that time.  Where does my head go?  I take the time to examine my own state of anxiety or calm.  I find it helpful.  Where am I?  Not physically, although it is a good reminder of that.  Where am I emotionally?  How connected am I to my surroundings and the people there?  And what has transpired since I was last waiting in the elevator for the door to close?

Life is always about time and place.  Take time in what ever place you find yourself.  You will see that the next time you find yourself in that exact place, it will be like the time between visits has disappeared.

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Blog post, Loss and Recovery, SHIFT Happens
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I think I finally figured it out…. or maybe not….

Life, the universe and everything ….. I haven’t quite figured that out yet but I am getting a handle on my new identity.  I have been SHIFTing from Calgary to Edmonton for two years now.  The SHIFT includes residence and business model as I move away from PULSE and toward Dr Nancy Love Inc.  PULSE continues with the University of the Virgin Islands and I am happy to be working with them to renew that intellectual property and train trainers to continue the work.  Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I am creating a new identity for myself as Dr. Nancy Love.

The new website www.drnancylove.com  was created over a year ago but I haven’t paid it the kind of attention it truly needs.  I do want to continue to promote work other than PULSE that I have generated and continue to generate.  I also want to use it to maintain my connections with colleagues in the field as we collaborate.

I am finding that separating from your history is not as easy as you think.  There are so many pieces, so many moving parts that even after two years I am still sorting and selecting and searching to eliminate what I don’t need and create the new and improved version of my life.  I think we all do that everyday of our lives.

I am proud of my history and the opportunities it has afforded me.  I am also proud of how that history has created new opportunities for me now at this later stage of my career.  2016 is on the horizon and I am already creating my list of expectations for myself and the WORK I love to do.

Okay …maybe I don’t have it all figured out yet but believe me I do continue to work on who I want to be when I grow up.  Younger people may chuckle at that but those of you over fifty will know by now that this journey, this search, never ends no matter how many years you put behind you.

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Pre-Mortem

This morning I watched a Ted Talk by Daniel Levitin, a neurologist talking about the impact of stress on our ability tothink.  It was another reminder of why it is so important to have a plan of action so that when I high emotion takes over your body and your brain you have an automatic practiced response to keep you out of trouble.  He called it a pre-mortem … like a post mortem but BEFORE the event.  Pre-mortems give you the opportunity to generate a chain of reasoning before you are in a situation with lowered brain capacity unable to think about what to do next.  The best example I can think of for pre-mortem is the CPR training I took when I was teaching high school.  Repeat the steps until they come naturally.  BE PREPARED so that panic does not have a chance to set in.

PULSE is a pre-mortem for high conflict and difficult conversations.  With PULSE training you have a set of tried and true questions to guide you through a conflict situation.  Even if your brain has moved to fight, flight or freeze because you are feeling threatened, you will have an automoatic system, a structured conversation to use as a guide to get you to a calmer place.  AND you will also have practiced skills for defusing the other persons perception of threat.  This kind of preparation allows you to get to a place where clearer heads prevail, where the corisol caused by the stress has disappated.

Step one: Prepare for the Conversation … ask How will the conversation proceed?

Step two: Uncover the Circumstance … ask What is this about?

Step three: Learn the Signficiance … ask Why is it important?

Step four: Search the Possibilities … ask What could you do?

Step five: Explain a Plan of Action … ask What will you do?

And don’t forget to breath ….

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All Change is About Adjusting Expectations

Whenever my life has taken a turn for better or worse I have had to adjust my expectations.  As human beings I think we do that on a daily basis and if we maintain our previous expectations in the face of a changing environment we are always headed for conflict.  Ever day is a new opportunity to RESPOND to life rather than to react to it.  When circumstances shift and change we have choices to make.  We can become recalcitrant and refuse to acknowledge the need for us to change our way of looking at the world or we can embrace change with open arms.

Both are valid choices.  There are circumstances where accepting a new way of doing things is NOT OKAY. It may be in some way harmful to you or to your organization or family.  Its okay to become positional and to protect what you know to be a better way.  In those instances we move into fight mode and get ready to battle the forces of negative change.  We defend.  We protect.  We resist.  Or we move into freeze mode and ignore the changes, carrying on as if nothing has really changed.  Or we move into flight mode and run away to a different place where there is no change, where everything is as it should be.

If a change threatens us we are likely to fight, freeze or flee.  It is a natural reaction and is healthy where change is harmful. Where we are experiencing a positive change in our circumstances  we may still resist because there is someting about changing what we do or the way we do it that insinuates that how we used to do it was wrong.  No one wants to be wrong.  That’s why we question any change that we are asked to make or endure.

Over the years I have experienced major changes in circumstances more than once.  New jobs in different places with different people have been part of my history.  I welcome change when it is positive and means an improvement in some aspect of my life … better opportunities or a chance to be closer to family for example.  When I understand the change and the reason for it I can begin to release any resistance, relax into the new situation and relate to the new expectations.

Change has become the norm for me but now I find myself  in a place where change is not as necessary or as easy as it once was.  No matter what change in circumstance you are experiencing it is the adjusting of expectations that takes time and energy.  There are new expectations coming for me to be settled and still instead of uncertain and moving all of the time.  So here I am, the queen of adjusting expectations, setting expectaions for myself around my life circumstances that are contrary and different from how I have lived my life so far.  Can I embrace this change or will I resist?

This should be interesting……

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HEART – Hush, Empathise, Attend, Reflect and Trust

Tomorrow UVI-PULSE presents another Webinar in the monthly series.  This one is about listening … actively.  It is about the state of being we need to have as human beings to involve ourselves in listening to others.  It is not about just showing up and being within earshot.  Listening with HEART is much, much more. It is about deliberately setting yourself the task of truly understanding the other persons position.  It asks you to understand their physical, mental, emotional, relational and spiritual well being.

HEART stands for Hush, Empathise, Attend, Reflect and Trust.  It is a neural address for a set of skills that demonstrate and strengthen Compassion.  HEART is about caring about the other person, about honouring them as a following human being with their own unique perspective on the world.  There is no judgement in this kind of listening.  Its purpose is to get over to the other person’s side and have a look at the world from there,  It is about creating understanding but not necessarily agreement.

Hush. Stop doing what ever you are doing.  Stop the chatter in your brain. Stop moving.  Stop talking.  Stop judging.  Stop editing the story.  Just stop.  Listen to what is being said NOW.  Watch what is happening NOW.  Turn off your own stuff.  Suspend what ever is going on for you so that you can feel and experience the other person’s world. Hush.

Empathise.  Imagine how it is to be in that person’s world.  Step in.  It is pretty much impossible for you to really completely understand how it is for them but if you can begin to see how or why they are thinking, talking and behaving the way they are that is a good first step.  Feel what they are feeling if you can. Sense the state they are in and emulate it as much as you can. Empathise.

Attend.  Listen with both ears.  Sit up straight.  Watch with both eyes.  Attend to the facial expressions, the body language, the tone and pace, the changes in intensity, the pauses and the words.  Put all of your attention with that person. Learn how it is for them.  Attend.

Reflect.  Let the emotional state that you see and experience reflect in your own face and body without saying anything.  This allows the speaker to continue to speak.  It also encourages expression of the emotional reality they are experiencing.  If your reflection is not true for them, they will adjust their communication to explain more clearly what is true for them until they get the right reflection back. Reflect.

Trust.  Everyone is doing the best they can with what they know.  We are social beings searching for connection with each other.  We want to believe in something bigger than ourselves.  We believe what we believe because of our own experiences.  We act the way we do because of our beliefs, expectations, assumptions, concerns and hopes.  All of this is informed by what we know to be true.  AND we can change what we know.  Trust.

Listening with HEART looks like any other kind of listening.  It is the deliberateness and purposefulness of it that makes the difference.  Put your HEART into it and listening will improve, conversations will improve and relationships will improve.

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Tomorrow I Head Back Home- an update from UVI-PULSE

My stay at UVI this month has been enlightening for me.  I have had great opportunities to connect with people and to assess the role I will be playing here over the next few years.  I have had time to consider my own growth potential here and to examine how I can contribute in this environment.  

Although I have spent time here in the past, I realize now that I have been more of a tourist  … a guest invited to provide a service or some entertainment and then return from wence I had come.  Now I am looking to become part of the family. Now I have to find my own way around campus, do my own cooking and cleaning and fulfill the duties assigned to me.  I am expected to win support and influence people who are unfamiliar with the program.  It can be challenging.

That’s a good thing.  Although I was a little disappointed when some classes had to be canceled here, I am encouraged by the fact that we have regrouped and reorganized the learning experiences to better meet the needs of the local and international community served by UVI.  With great feedback from those who could not make it and our African Friends I believe we have come up with a plan that will bring us future success as we work to have Virgin Islanders “Check your PULSE.” (T-shirts to follow).

The month started out with challenges to overcome as power and internet connections wreaked havoc with our broadcast of the POWER webinar.  Ironic?  And later connections with UVI ST Croix created an echo on the radio program that went live and was recorded.  I had a chance to outline our UVI-PULSE plan of action and to give examples of the kinds of skills that could make a difference for people and their relationships here on the Islands.  It should be availabe on the ILOE.UVI.EDU website sometime soon.

With those issues behind us and an MOU with PULSE Africa and my friend Austin Gamey in place, we are well on our way to contributing in a meaningful way to  this “Historically American, Uniquely Caribbean, Globally Interactive” University.  Watch for news of exciting courses and an upcoming UVI-PULSE Conference planned for May 2016.  The plans include tours of St Thomas along with some Island Hospitality as well as guest speakers.  All PULSE Professionals and Practitioners will be invited to attend.

We are on our way….

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From UVI to Ghana and Back.

I am still in the Virgin Islands, on St Thomas. It is beautiful here. I have had lots of opportunity to meet new people and work with them on settin gup UVI-PULSE. I have also been graced with the presence of my dear friend and colleague Austin Gamey who is visitng with his wife Gladys from Ghana. I have known him for a long time and he continues to influence my life decisions.

I remember vividly a conversation with Austin where he advice me in a very strong way not to continue in politics. I remember how determined he was to desuade me from a life where people “eat you up and spit you out” as he so vivdly put it. I took his advice then and I continue to rely on him as he and I meet with UVI staff to fashion the future of PULSE.

Austin has done very well in Ghana and in other parts of Africa as he uses PULSE as the platform for his courses and his consultancy work. He is a fan of all things PULSE and he walks the PULSE talk in a way that makes me very proud. His latest advice to me is to work with the leadership research I have done using portraiture and of course he is among those who are anxious to see the new book.

I am very grateful to have him here. He tells me that VI is very much like Africa. I guess I will be able to tell you about it when I go there in the spring to work with Austin’s graduates from the Gamey and Gamey ADR Masters program. A new adventure for me and one I am honoured to take.

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The important work that women do with women …

I have spent the last two weeks with different groups of brave people doing important work on St Thomas and on St Croix. These people work everyday to help others have a better life and they are all anxious to have more skills to deal with the situations they find themselves in.  I continue to be impressed with them and the work they do.  They just want to help.  Sometimes the people they are dealing with don’t want to be helped or don’t know how to accept the help that is offered to them.  Other times deserving people get caught up in the bureaucracy and there is nothing that can be done to help.

These front line women KNOW what needs to happen to change things for everyone.  They know how to make everyone in society productive and contributing members.  They have seen where things go wrong and they understand how government money could actually be used to improve the lot of enough people to stop the cycles.  They don’t give up even though they have seen generations of families visit their agencies and yet they roll up their sleeves and help again. Experience has taught them what works to help people regain a footing and start again but no one asks them. And when they do have a chance to say a few words to politicians or other decision makers, it always seems that the budget has different priorities.  Funding gets cut but the number of people in need grows because money is being spent on the wrong things. And around we go.

I admire these tireless women who fight the unending battle and I am happy to do my very small part.  I know they are not alone.  There are goddess warriors like these in every community around the world.  They do what they can.  They understand the patterns, the ebb and flow of life in a way that it may be impossible for men to understand.  Deny it if you want to but for me I see that there is a women’s way of knowing.  As a species we would be wise to pay greater attention to  that wisdom and use it to inform our decisions about our future on this planet.

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