The start of the winter solstice flags a time to rest, renew, and reflect. I don’t know about y’all but 2021 has been quite a year. I’m going to spend some time quiet time at home (thanks, Omicron) to chill out of and recharge before the new year.
Here are a few coaching questions I’ll be reflecting on by the fire with care:
What are you grateful for?
What did you learn? How have you grown?
What did you fail at?
What challenges did you overcome?
What were your small & big wins?
What are you most proud of?
What do you need to let go of?
What do you need to table for next year?
What opportunities lie ahead for 2022?
What are you leaving behind in 2021?
How will you reset/recharge before the new year?
What ways will you #treatyoself?
How will you give yourself grace?
What would you like to make space for?
How can you nurture new connections?
What ways will you build & create ideas marinating in your head?
What questions help you take a beat to think on? Let me know.
The Open Education Awards for Excellence provide annual recognition of outstanding contributions in the Open Education community, recognizing exemplary leaders, distinctive Open Educational Resources, and Open Practices from around the world.
The award was given to the project in the “Open Reuse/Remix/Adaptation” category and, according to the adjudicators, the project is an outstanding example of the power of OER reuse for the following reasons;
Remixing the physical book into an audiobook has increased accessibility by providing the text in an alternate format.
Drawing together the open education community around the reading of the text sparked the companion “Between the Chapters” podcast, providing a deeper dive and critical analysis by experts into the topic of each chapter. This has added an additional layer of richness to the original book.
The weekly podcast release schedule, and accompanying critical analysis created a fundamentally new way to experience the book – slower and in bitesize chunks.
Each episode of the main recording or the companion podcast also now exists as an OER available for future use / reuse.
Although I am honored and delighted to receive this award, I share similar sentiments with my audio project partner-in-crime, Clint Lalonde. We are grateful for the nomination and award; however, the real motivation and “win” was getting to be in community and conversation with all of you. From chats with guests on the “Between the Chapters” episodes, Twitter threads/banter, and reading/hearing your reflections on the topics for each chapter — I was overwhelmed by the interaction, engagement, and offering a space for others to give voice to these issues and ideas. I hope this remixed project inspires others to continue the conversation, as we have learned that ed tech history often repeats itself.
As Clint shared, we could not create an audiobook without the generous contributions from the ed tech and open ed community. I’m so grateful for those of you who were willing to participate in this pandemic podcast project, as your stories and thoughts about this book helped bring new ideas and perspectives for the podcast episodes. It was such a lovely time talking, editing, and producing the “book club chat” aspect of the project. Many thanks to my the “Between the Chapters” guests for your candid conversation and willingness to share:
Lorna M. Campbell, Phil Barker, Lee Skallerup Bessette, Catherine Cronin, Sukaina Walji, Grant Potter, Brenna Clarke Gray, Maha Bali , Caroline Kuhn, Anne-Marie Scott, Alan Levine, Jim Groom, Mark Brown, Clare Thompson, Jessie Stommel Mark Guzdial, Kelvin Bentley, John Robertson, D’Arcy Norman, Laura Gibbs, Bonnie Stewart, Maren Deepwell, Judith Pete, Virginia Rodés, Bryan Alexander, Alexandra Pickett, Sarah Frick, Orna Farrell, David Wicks, Sue Beckingham, Chrissi Nerantzi, Tanis Morgan Autumm Caines, Rebecca Hogue, Christian Frierich, Helen DeWaard, Dave Cormier, Rolin Moe, Amanda Coolidge, Dragan Gasevic, Joyce Seitzinger, Chris Gilliard, David Kernohan, Audrey Watters, sava sahali singh, Clint Lalonde, & (of course) Martin Weller.
If you’re just learning about this audio project, know that you can still find the 25 Years of Ed Tech: The Serialized Audio Version wherever you catch your podcasts. All episodes are archived and available on a number of podcast platforms. You can subscribe to listen to both the book chapters and the “Between the Chapters” conversation episodes now have detailed show notes and transcripts (new!) now available from our discussions.
Much of the work I do as coach is to help clients align their interests and values with how they want to work, lead, and live their own life. I know the last 18+ months have brought new experiences, ideas, and questions of — what do I really want to do now?
In my past academic life, I directed my students to the MyNextMove website (a branch of the O*NET Online) if they wanted to understand occupational pathways and how their academic majors might impact their career direction(s). For those who were “not really sure,” I recommended the O*NET Interest Profiler to allow folks to learn more about their interests and help direct their own career exploration. I hoped these resources would anchor to some self-assessment and research for what is available. Many learners who were early and mid-career, found these tools helpful if they needed a starting point or felt completely unsure. Although, I’m still a fan of identifying interests and skills — I’m reminded how important it is to NOT narrow your options during the self-discovery phase. If we jump to filtering these interests based on occupational roles, organizations, or even industries — there seems to be limitations placed on the “what’s next?” and this removes any openness towards possibilities for “what if…?” instead.
What do you want to do to feel alive and absorbed daily?
What you learn about each type from the assessment results — your primary, shadow, and anti-type — is organized to help move us towards work that let’s us be our best, true self. The five domains shared in this book identifies how you “come alive” or are “sparked” both personally and professionally with regards to your:
Purpose: Knowing you’re moving toward something you believe in.
Engagement: Excitement, energy, & enthusiasm for the pursuit of that something
Meaningfulness: The feeling that what you do and who you are matters.
Expressed Potential: The sensation of being fully you and not having to hide, bringing all of your potential to the experience, and leaving nothing untapped.
Flow: The blissful experience of getting lost in an activity, losing time, and becoming absorbed in the task.
As I ponder my own primary (Maven) and shadow (Maker) Sparketypes, I am thinking more about what is possible for how I use this resource with coaching clients or in my L&D work. For those who are connected to me and follow my work, you can see how and where these two Sparketypes align with my own practice and process:
Maven: Slogan: I live to learn. Daily Mantra: “I want to learn more than I knew when I first woke up.”
Maker: Slogan: I make ideas manifest. Daily Mantra: “I want to make something that did not exist before.”
The other piece of this book I am fascinated with that syncs with my coaching practice are examining and assessing the four categories of work:
Paid Work: part-time, full-time, contract, freelance, consulting, etc.
Leisure/Fun/Craft: hobbies, sports, activities, and joy in your “time off”
Roles You’ve Played: the “hats you wear” – caregiver, volunteer, leadership, etc.
Classes/Courses of Study: edu., workshops, retreats, webinars, training, etc.
Most people might not consider everything on this list to be “work.” But I love the idea of thinking about work that is paid, volunteer, and based around our interests. To unpack these categories further, I would encourage you to reflect on both your professional AND personal life to answer:
What groups or communities are you connected to?
What personal interests or hobbies help you grow?
What projects are you most proud of?
How did you contribute to a team, org, or interest group?
What tasks put you in the “flow” when you work?
How does “fun” enter into your daily life?
What topics or subjects get your attention?
What tools, technologies, or platforms do you find fun?
What processes or experiences do you look fondly back on? (not the end project/product)
You should not be surprised this book has #sparked what I am thinking about for my next project. I think this resource could be fruitful for working 1:1 with clients, but now I wonder how I can scale some of my coaching practice to reach others. More people are reaching out to ask and reflect on working more meaningfully, so I am starting to design a group coaching program for anyone interested in career wayfinding, e.g. pivots, transitions, and transformations.
As a Maven/Maker — I want to bring you along with my in this “process” as I “manifest” these ideas out loud (e.g. blog, podcasts, IG, etc.). I’m currently thinking about a 4 week pilot program end of 2021 or beginning of 2022 to support career discovery and exploration. This coaching program would be targeted at folks mid- to late career who are looking to transition to something new outside their professional domain, industry or role. If you might be interested in this, let me know — and please help me answer some questions as I design this pilot program:
How are you thinking about your LIFEwork?
What are the career questions you want to dig into?
What blockers or challenges are you facing in this transition?
What would you want to walk away with from a group coaching program on this topic?
I will continue to ponder these questions and share what I develop + launch with y’all. Thanks for any inputs, comments, DMs, or messages in advance!
In setting up my clients for success, beyond any coaching engagement, I thought — why isn’t there more of a career check-up available? What would work assessment look like if someone wanted to take a pulse check? I dug into some of my coaching resources and readings to share questions often ask my clients. If you want to think more deeply about your career and life — specifically how you might want to make your next professional move— then these career exploration questions might be a solid place to start your own reflection.
I used to do a monthly check-in tied to a planner for my own work life and projects — thanks to my Get To Work Book. There are monthly prompts to “reflect and goal set” on a regular cadence to ask what is going well, what’s still in progress, what needs attention/focus, and what could/should I let go of that’s not getting done. I love dedicating space and time to think intentionally about what I am working on — and more importantly to look at the bigger picture: Career Direction. Maybe it’s time to set up some regular appointments to review and ask, “How’s it going with my career?” Here are a few questions I tend to ask coaching clients when they start on this career check-in journey.
Explore Your Career Interests
How did I get here professionally?
What do I want to stop doing? What deflates you at work?
What do I want to start doing? What excites you on the job?
What do I want to continue doing? (E.g. transferable skills)
What are the verbs or actions I enjoy doing at work?
Define What Work Means to You
What work excites you or makes you feel alive?
What are the things you love to do at your job?
How do you define meaningful work?
What do you want your career growth to look like?
What skills do you want to build and grow?
Ponder Your Career Possibilities
What do you find interesting?
What topics do you often talk and/or read about?
What issues or ideas do you genuinely care about?
What do you want to learn in your next role?
If work was not required, what would you do?
Transfer Your Talents & Skills
How do you want to expand on our professional experience(s)?
How would you like to use your talents and skills?
In what ways can another industry utilize your expertise?
What are the problems you want to work on?
What impact would you like to make in your life/career?
If you have not faced any challenge or change in your life over the past year, I’m not sure how you avoided it. The last 18 months has been nothing but that for me. It’s been a weird and evolving period of space and time where I’ve thought more about what I’ve been doing and how I’m contributing to society. Accelerated by the pandemic and social/climate events worldwide, there has been more perspective-taking on how to move forward. So, I don’t think I’m alone in taking stock of our life and experiences. In 2020, we had a forced slowed down and even pause on our lives, which has encouraged everyone (myself included) to reflect and think deeply about how I want to be in the world. If you’re at a fork in the road — this might be the blog post for you. Welcome — I am here as well. Let’s see if we can help you work it out…
Earlier this year, Manoush Zamorodi launched a helpful podcast series to help others at a crossroads in their life: The ZigZag Project. This project shared 6 episodes to encourage to think deeply about where they are and where they want to go. The project was designed to help listeners get unstuck and inspire them to move forward, with intention and purpose.
From checking in with a self-assessment (1. The Pulse) to thinking about your future self (2. The Vision), I thought this project offers a simple way to stop and think about what we are doing. From brainstorming our wild desires of what we want to do (3. The Ideas) that best align with our values (4. The Match) — we can then map out where we want to go (5. Path) and by identifying how /when we can accomplish our goals (6. The Timeline). The coach in me LOVED this series — as it offered a space to reflect on these very powerful questions:
What is one word that describes your mindset right now?
How important is owning your work?
What do you want your work to look like five years from now?
What weird ideas do you want to work on?
What are you not willing to sacrifice as you zig or zag?
What would you need to give up to pursue a new idea?
What’s one thing you can do to research your path(s)?
What’s one thing you could try before committing to a big change?
If you are considering a pivot or transition in your personal or professional life, I would highly recommend this audio project and the homework assignments. I am grateful for this series as it has helped me, and some of my clients think deeper about their work. If nothing else, it can offer you some dedicated think time to ponder what is important to you now, and where you might go in the future. Additionally, some of these questions might be great for your team or organization to think about. For example, I adapted Assignment #2 for a team to think more about their future life at work: Visioning Exercise: Future Campus
That being said, getting unstuck is not a simple 6-step process. Sometimes you might be in that “murky middle” of transition for a while. This will bring about doubts, fears, and uncertainty. I know this to be true, as I’m still in this middle phase myself figuring out my best fit at work is. You are not alone, my friend. According to Kanter’s Law, everything looks like a failure in the middle. Just when the change is happening, you might doubt your goal, feel uncomfortable, or run into trouble — but don’t despair! This is where your motivation for change will be challenged. Hang in there — change and getting unstuck is a process we need to face head-on. [As my Aaptiv coach says: What challenges you, changes you.”]
“Everyone loves inspiring beginnings and happy endings; it is just the middles that involve hard work.”
– Rosabeth Kanter, Harvard Business School Professor
In moments of doubt or difficult times during this hard middle, you might want to pause to reflect and ask:
Tune in to the environment: What’s changed since the beginning? Is the problem still relevant?
Check the vision: What’s inspiring to you now? Is the idea still exciting?
Examine progress: How will you measure progress? Can you find early indicators of success?
Search for synergies: What is working for you now? Can this action encourage other steps?