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Showing posts from 2016

Building Relationships

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In professional learning sessions I often ask "With whom are you in a relationships - that you don't talk with on a regular basis?  Texting, emailing, and instant messaging don't count."   Participants resounding answer, "No one!"  That's because strong relationships require more than written communication. Creating time and space for conversations is at the heart of building relationships. Let's check it out.

Recently this was posted on my Facebook page - (The answer are mine)

Let's take a break from life and learn about each other. Copy and paste and answer the questions for yourself.
Are your named after some one? NoWhen was the last time you cried? Last night when I was laughing so hard that I teared up.Do you like your handwriting? No- I prefer to type What is your favorite lunch meat? BraunschweigerDo you have children? Yes - two boys and a grandsonDo you use sarcasm? Unfortunately sometimes. Do you have your tonsils? NoWould you bungee ju…

Thirty in Thirty

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I actually had my last post ready two days ago. I was busy enjoying the wonderful weather,  I had just returned from a conference and finally arrived at the lake by 4:30 a.m. just as the sun was coming up. I knew my boys would be here this weekend  so I took advantage of the quiet before the 4th. As I was heading in to post my final blog in the series my grandson arrived.  He became the center of attention and the day slipped away.

For me this challenge has taught me a lot about myself and my writing process.  I've learned that I can write everyday but feel like a photographer who takes hundreds of shots to find one that is worth sharing.  I may go back and have already done some, rewriting on the blogs.  I once heard a speaker tell the audience - we are all re-writers. A few will become articles on Ezine.com, and I may use bits and pieces in future works.

The experience of thinking deeply about what has influenced my thinking was interesting.  What I originally thought in many c…

Challenge Day #30

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A People Primer: The Nature of Living Systems
As my last post in this 30 in 30 challenge I decided I would write about one of my own books.  The first book I wrote entirely on my own.  If you’ve read my other blogs you understand why I would consider it a major influence in my life.  As a child I didn’t like reading and writing.  The only writing I enjoyed was poetry and I was never given any support in writing- it was all about spelling and grammar which are not my strengths.  Freshman composition was a nightmare.  When I asked “How can I improve this?” my professor repeatedly replied “I just wouldn’t have done it this way.”  Not once in the entire course did I get any feedback that improved my writing.  I did go to the university writing lab to be sure I was doing everything I could.  The idea that I had written an entire book that was being published was a major hurdle.
The first time I ever thought of myself as a writer was the day I was sitting in the local McDonalds opening a …

Challenge Day #29

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William T. Powers
Bill was like a second father to me.  He thought much like my father, held the same degrees as my father and went to college on the GI Bill like my father. Both were humble geniuses whom I miss every day.
I first met Bill Powers in the late 80s when he was giving a speech to a group of individuals in Chapel Hill NC.  I had studied William Glasser’s work for the three years prior to this and I was excited to meet Powers from whom Glasser had learned Control Theory.  Being a bit of a nerd I wanted to understand the research and science behind the theory. Little did I know that day I would form a deep friendship with a brilliant man that would last until he transitioned in May of 2013.
During this first meeting Bill was sharing the basic diagram that represents the process of feedback control and is the essence of Perceptual Control Theory (PCT), the scientific theory of human behavior. He was describing the diagram and came to the “input function.”  I raised my hand …

Challenge Day #28

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You Can Heal Your Life 
By Louise Hay
Originally a book and now a video You Can Heal Your Life is an empowering gift to the world from a wonderful woman Louise Hay.  Like many of the books I love I’ve shared it with a variety of individuals. I especially like the gift edition, just holding it in my hands I feel the positive energy that emanates from the book. The pictures are beautiful and relaxing.
The book walks the reader through several personal reflective exercises to dig deeply.  Louise believes that at the core our issues are created from some part of our self that we do not love.  Slowly while reading this book and doing the exercises you begin to uncover thoughts and beliefs you have about yourself that are not serving you. 
After working with clients Louise began to notice that specific physical alignments were linked to beliefs about our self that are unhealthy.  She compiled a list of the physical manifestation of our thinking/beliefs and shares affirmations to shift beli…

Challenge Day #27

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Tao Te Ching The Tao Te Ching is one of the most written about and translated books in the world.  I think of it as the book of mystery for within its 81 verses/chapters you will begin to be surrounded by the unfolding of the universe. The beauty of the Tao is in the simple complexity of each verse. 
No two translations are the same and no two people that read any translation will walk away with the same message.  In fact if you read it today and then come back another day the same message will take on new meaning.  Having read several translations I find it most helpful to read at least two or three varied translations before I begin to grasp the implications for my life.
Several themes flow throughout the book which resonate with me. I'd like to share three with you. Take moment to read these two different translations of a portion of verse two.
Translation 1 When people see some things as beautiful Other things become ugly. When people see some things as good, Other things become …

Challenge Day #26

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Donna Oakey Have you ever found yourself repeating a phrase throughout your life and tried to remember exactly where you first heard it?  Sometimes it is hard to do. When you want to honor someone’s ideas and give credit to the right source you may not be able to find the right source because so many concepts have been passed down orally through story or written and rewritten. 
Often people want to credit Gandhi for the idea of civil disobedience and if you dig a bit deeper you will find that Henry David Thoreau was one of the sources Gandhi read and emulated. Who knows maybe Thoreau got the idea from someone or somewhere else. Another is the priority matrix popularized by Steven Covey but often credited to Dwight Eisenhower – where you think about tasks in two dimensions urgent and important.  Urgent and important tasks you do immediately, important, but not urgent tasks you schedule for later, urgent but not important tasks you delegate, and neither urgent or important tasks you e…

Challenge Day #25

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Walt Disney Most winter Sunday nights my family would gather around the fireplace in our house – sometimes roasting hotdogs over the fire and watch The Wonderful World of Disney.  The only other show I can remember us all watching together on a regular basis was Bonanza.  I loved those nights sitting at the black TV tray with the painted flowers and seeing what adventure Walt would take us on that week.   
In 1968 my family moved to California and every weekend for six weeks in a row we went to Disneyland. Mostly because friends or family came to visit, but also because my father’s company had an event at the park.  I’ve always felt a strong connection to Disney it may have something to do with the fact that I was born in 1955 the same year the Disneyland opened in Anaheim California. Perhaps it was because the only movie my father ever took me to, just the two of us, was Old Yeller. Maybe because, Disney also produced my favorite movie of all time Pollyanna.  For whatever reason I l…

Challenge Day #24

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The Wonder WeeksHetty van de RijtFrans Plooij

Perceptual Control Theory (PCT) purports that we are made up of a hierarchy of negative feedback loops.  The higher levels are made up of differing combinations of lower levels. Over time this hierarchy becomes more and more complex. As an educator I have always been fascinated by the hierarchy and in particular how it is formed and how it relates to learning. One of the best explanations of the formation of the hierarchy comes from Hetty van de Rijt, and Frans Plooij, in their book The Wonder Weeks. 
Because I used the word hierarchy I want to specify that I’m meaning a complex dynamic network much like the images you have seen depicting neural networks or branching rather than a ladder.  Although we are born with part of the hierarchy in place most of it grows as we grow.  Rijt and Plooij Dutch researchers, conducted studies on when we first acquire perception on each level.  Their research suggest that by 75 weeks old an infant has de…

Challenge Day #23

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Mike Benedetto
“They often made me look better than I am.” although said by Jack Welch CEO of GE it was a sentiment I had heard before.  One of the people who has greatly influenced my thinking about leadership and in particular leadership of change is Mike Benedetto.   When I first met Mike he was the associate superintendent of Monticello schools in Monticello Minnesota.  Later he served as the superintendent of the district.
Monticello Schools were involved with the program I facilitated MEEP (Minnesota Educational Effectiveness Program) and Mike was the lead in the district of the program and most other change efforts.  I greatly admired the respect his teachers had for him.  On several occasions several of the teachers from the district had attended trainings and spoken very highly of him.  He was a master at creating leaders not followers. 
His district was known for having some of the best trainers in Elements of Effective Instruction which was led by two of the teachers.  He …

Challenge Day #22

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Ryan P.
Along the way I’ve managed to pick up some little ditties that help me keep big ideas front and center in my thinking.  For example: Ask – Don’t TellExperience First-Label SecondShow-Model-TeachWhat-So What-Now WhatKWL (Know-Want to know-Learned)Big Picture- Small Pieces-Big PictureRelationship First – Content SecondI don’t care what you know til’ I know that you care
I’m not sure if I read them, I created them to help me remember or if someone said it and now I parrot them. They have however served me well in keeping focused especially when I’m working with others.
Today as I was floating in the lake reading I was reminded of one that at first I wasn’t quite sure I accepted as true.  “If they knew they would do.”  As a parent and educator I have met many people when working with them I’ve found myself thinking – dang come on – you know better than that.  I hope those words have never passed my lips.  Then one day I was doing laundry and I recognized the veracity in if they …

Challenge Day #21

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Sherod Miller In the early 80s I was working as a regional facilitator for the Minnesota Educational Effectiveness Program.  In this role I had multiple opportunities to learn from some of the leading figures in business, education, organizational development and the learning brain.  One of the individuals I was privileged to meet and work with was Sherod Miller. 
Sherod and other researches from the University of Minnesota were known for extensive longitudinal research in interpersonal communications.  At the time malpractice medical insurance was skyrocketing and the University was looking for answers on how to decrease malpractice claims. The study was conducted with engaged couples who were then followed long term to assess their ability to communicate effectively.  
I begged my supervisor to attend his multiday training in the Twin Cities.  Actually the training wasn’t an open training it was being conducted for up and coming managers for 3M (Minnesota, Mining and Manufacturing…

Challenge Day #20

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Productive Workplaces: Organizing and Managing for Dignity, Meaning and Community by Marvin Ross Weisbord
Productive Workplaces was recommended to me by a wonderful colleague Sandy Swearingen.  At the time our job, along with a dozen others, was to facilitate school improvement teams across the state of Minnesota. I spent many hours steeped in learning about change, organizational development, and effective classroom practices. I loved this job—it helped feed my curious nature. 
When Sandy recommended Productive Workplaces she said “You don’t really need to read the first part of the book, just start with the second section where he shares about how to help manage change.”  I took her advice.  It was very revealing and I still use the information today. It gave me a foundation for knowing when individuals and organizations are ready for change.
Weisbord writes about assessing which of the four apartments of change individuals reside in. The first contentment categorized by “Everythin…

Challenge Day #19

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Punished by Rewards by Alfie Kohn
Over the past several weeks I have read, talked with others about, and discussed one topic repeatedly –praise/rewards. In each of these encounters I have found myself experiencing a strong visceral response and asked myself ‘Why do I feel so strongly about this topic?’  If you know me you know that once my mind gets going on a topic I’m not very good at letting it go. Each time I felt I had come to some resolution there it was again in a book, in a question I was being asked, or as I thought about my 16 month old grandson – who claps for himself each time he does something for which he is proud.
Guilt, praise, rewards, punishments, consequencing, isolation, buddying are all ways we try to get someone else to do what we want.  Most folks believe that with their words or actions they have the ability and the right to get someone else to bow to their wishes—to do or say what they want them to. What they really want is for the other person to conform – to…

Challenge Day #18

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The Shift Dr. Wayne Dyer wrote and stars in the movie, The Shift, about the spiritual shift from ambition to meaning.  The movie focuses on three individuals, a movie director, a wife/mother, and a wealthy business man.  Each is a model of a life of ambition which is ego driven.  Wayne refers to ego as -Edging God Out.
The director represents an individual who defines success in life as what he does.  He continually states “I’m a director – that’s what I am.”  The wife is driven by what others think of her – especially in her role as a wife and mother.  She has put aside her dreams of being an artist to take care of everyone else.  The third character the wealthy business man operates from an “I am what I have.” Sense of self.  None of them are finding what they are seeking.
The first time I watched this movie I found myself relating to the wife/mother the most – not because she was a woman but because much of her sense of self was measured by what she did for others. In our culture…

Challenge Day #17

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Nancy Drew When I was young I did the same book report for two years in a row Louisa May Alcott by Catherine O. Peare.  I had to look it up in the Library of Congress to try and find it – it was published in 1954, the year before I was born.  I picked it because it was the smallest book in my elementary school library that my fourth and fifth grade teacher would approve as difficult enough.  As a kid I hated reading.  Looking back as an adult I think it had something to do with reading wasn’t easy for me.  Neither was spelling.  Not an unusually combination. I didn’t learn phonics until I was an education major in college.  I was brought up in the site word era of Dick and Jane.  At home I was surrounded by books and readers.  My parents and my brother were always reading something.  My dad was an avid Tom Clancy fan and my brother read the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings Trilogy long before they were the thing to read.  Even in elementary school he belonged to a book club for the H…

Challenge Day #16

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Dad/ George Workman
Whoopi!  I’m half way through – and boy does it feel good.  I know several authors who write every day, often setting a word count target for their writing.  I’m learning it is a very different process to write each day rather than when I’m writing because I have a passion to share a specific message. When I’ve written my books, I often will chunk out the parts and set goals for completing certain sections on a timeline, but writing a new blog every day isn’t the same.  I have had to tap into a different mindset and a different set of writing skills. 
This morning I started my day reading a book I’ve had sitting in the stack for a while.  The ‘to read’ stack is still higher than the ‘I’ve read’ stack for the summer but I’m making progress.  Having finishedOriginalsby Adam Grant (which I’d highly recommend), I started Carol Dweck’s book, Mindset The New Psychology of Success: How we can learn to fulfill our potential.  I’d already done some reading and video learn…

Challenge Day #15

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Star TrekStar Trek, the original series starring William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, and DeForest Kelley was a show I grew up watching with my dad.  He and I loved to sit and become absorbed in the adventure, the technology and the possibilities of other worlds.  I must admit on some level I liked it even more when I found out my mother didn’t like the show and thought it was unrealistic.  Unrealistic or futuristic I’m not sure – but the themes they dealt with were controversial and all around me.  For me, Star Trek invited people to explore their belief systems through story in a way that was acceptable for its time. 
Episodes like The Enemy Within – where Kirk splits in two creating an evil and good Captain Kirk or Let That Be Your Last Battlefield – where we encounter Bele who has been pursing Lokai for over 50,000 earth years for allegedly leading a revolt of people who are black on the left side against the ruling order which is black on the right side. Underpinning the entire serie…