2011 was filled with learning in every realm of my world and my life. There were so many shifts for me. I not only wanted to share what the learning is and was but acknowledge those who were instrumental in creating those shifts.
I continue to learn that it's possible to grow older without growing old from my parents. They are more with-it, energetic, insightful, and up to the minute than pretty much anyone else I know. I'm constantly learning what new leadership looks like from my son and daughter-in-law. It's not about off with the old and on with the new. They integrate what they learned from those before them with what works for them for their present and future. I learned from Ray what it means to disconnect and enjoy life, (although what I do is as much who I am as my profession but he's really good about putting up with me. He makes it so easy for me to be me).
I learned the art of sharing knowledge, time, energy and expertise graciously and selflessly from Renee Freedman and John Spence.
I learned you can have the difficult, courageous conversations with a friend and still remain a true friend. I consistently learn from my friends who are my family by choice what authentic friendship means and from others what friendship isn't and make my choices accordingly.
I learned how to dive in and (as Seth Godin would say) know it's time to say "Ship it".
I learned a lot from Seth this year. I'm waffling between saying thank you and saying "Seth, get out of my head" …but as his words of wisdom were not only timely but a great 2 x 4 to the side of my head reality check, and because of them, I made a lot of changes in how I do what I do, whether coaching, writing, teaching or living…. "Thank you" wins hands down. And I've learned that pretty much anything he publishes, either his work or someone else's is something I WILL learn from, tangible or intangible. It might push every button I have and then some, but the learning curve will be HUGE!
I experienced the differences between having a book published and publishing a book... when to draw the line and acknowledge that delays are more damaging than the odd typo….and not to wait until 100 people think it might be good enough before getting it out. I learned who I could work with and who I couldn't, what conferences I'd attend and which ones I won't any more. It's time to see what people are living in realms outside of coaching. I need to learn more about people and what they're living in order to work best with them from their perspective, not coaches'. I continue to learn how to shift my view of the world and my place in it.
I learned that we learn from stories and how we connect our stories with those of others'. It's personal that way. We learn better and remember the lessons longer when a story connects to who we are or who we want to be. I learned from my clients everything from turbulence and chaos to success and accomplishment and that sometimes the latter is harder for them to deal with than the former.
I learned from the TED Fellows that everything I didn't think was possible…is possible. Thank you Jessica, Dominic, Adital, Su, John, Jon, Cesar, Naomi, Katie, Zubaida, Colleen, Kellee, Rachel, Eric, for opening my eyes to your worlds and inviting me in.
I learned from Ron Kitchens and Ruth Ann Harnisch that it's not about giving just to support….it's about giving to support greatness, growth, innovation and learning. It's about giving so those they give to get stronger and are independent. They are Human-Based Leaders in more ways than I can list here.
Through this year's experiences, not to mention through Laurier LaPierre, I was reminded of how proud I am to be Canadian. I love travelling and working all over the world but really love coming home. I am continuously reminded that, although we are similar to other countries, we are unique as a people and a country. We're just quieter about it. We have to be more vocal about it.
I learned from everyone in my book Leaders: Their Stories, Their Words. They shared their lives with me above and beyond anything I knew before. Thank you to John, the two Rons, Ruth Ann, Joe, Laurier, JD, Rick, Tom, Barry, Frank and Robert and all the others who shared their words of wisdom. Even though it's my book and I've read it 1000 times, I learn something new every time I read or share a passage from it.
Everyone has a story and I can't wait to hear them all. Everyone knows something I don't know about life and living and through their stories, I'll continue to learn about them, their worlds and myself.
For next year, there is a ton in the works. In addition to client work, I'll be doing more team and team dynamics work, part of that will be working with clients on putting in place a reverse mentoring program in their organizations and coaching what emerges through those conversations. I'll be speaking at Catalyst University in Kalamazoo. Talk about an innovative, community-growing initiative! I will be collaborating with client and friend Tuuli Sauren from INSPIRIT International Communications on a workshop for sustainable design to take place in Milan, Italy and partnering with friend and colleague David Drake as we bring Shadow and Narrative Coaching together for the first (but I'm sure not last) time in Toronto early next year. I'll be continuing my work with the TED Fellows which is such a gift to me, wearing my Dean hat with the International Consortium for Coaching in Organizations, and teaching more with MBAs, university students and even doing some guest teaching at the high school level which I'm very excited about.
There will be another book in the works….maybe two. What form that'll take is still to be determined. Stay tuned!
I'm continuing to learn how to better use Social Media and am thankful for the amazing people I've met through it who I wouldn't have connected with any other way.
There's more but I don't want to clue you in on everything just yet.
Suffice it to say, I'm hoping from reading this you'll reflect on your learning this year. The easy lessons and the hard, the life lessons and professional ones. I know I want to learn at least as much or more from the up-and-comings than from the leaders who are about to retire. I want to continue to believe that nothing is impossible. It just hasn't been invented yet and even then, the TED Fellows are showing me otherwise.
I'm sure there will be challenges in 2012 but I know the year will be extraordinary nevertheless. With people like this touching my life, how could it be anything else? If you see that I've missed something or someone, then let me know. Tell me your stories, share your dreams and aspirations and maybe I'll be able to point you in a direction. We all have a definitive amount of time to make our presence felt. Choose what you do with it wisely… who you spend your time with, learn from and what sandbox you're going to play in. Make whatever changes in life you need to make to be the best, the happiest, and the most fulfilled person you can be.
Begin now and in doing so, remember to take risks. Opportunities and people don't stay around forever. Live life to the fullest extent, don't just exist from day to day. Share your dreams with others, as if you keep them silent they will eventually die away. Help them help you make them happen. And may 2012 be great in every way.