Thursday, June 29, 2017

Resiliency is Our Most Important Trait

Thanks to Kristi Casey Sanders for the original share of this
If you met me now, you probably think I seem pretty together, and have things pretty good. I do. Most of the time. We all have stories of our own, of joy and pain, love and despair, falling down and getting back up again. This is life. We are never prepared. We must learn, usually the hard way, to be resilient. To develop the capacity to recover from difficult situations. To know these are situations, and they will pass is a first step. Knowing who you can count on to help you, who is truly on your side is another tool to get through challenges. Perhaps one of the most difficult is choosing our attitude. Will we wallow in the misery? Sometimes. Will we look forward and seek hope over despair? If you ever think you are having a tough day, read Amanda Lindhout's story, one of resilience beyond imagination.

If you have known me since my teens, you will know about recovering from Bells Palsy. If you have known me since my twenties, you probably still want to carry something for me because you remember when I could not lift my arms long enough to wash my own hair. You may have known me through losing my brother, father and numerous friends and extended family members. I am not alone in facing challenges. I have wallowed, and overcome. I have been resilient because I had to be. It is one of the toughest traits to develop; a skill hard to teach, experience being the teacher with impact. It is a key, core skill for getting through what may come. As we send one child into the world, with the other not far behind, I question if we have taught them this and know it will be only time that will tell. All we can do is be there when they need us.

If you have been by my side working on one or dozens of events, thank you. Every single person has contributed to making each event better and darn it, a lot of these have taken a ton of sustained effort in sometimes seemingly impossible conditions - from the tops of glaciers where you pack it all in and out to remote communities with little infrastructure and fewer supplier partners, to massive sets, movements and strikes, often with unrealistic timelines. 
Every time, we dig deeper and get it done. Then we get up and do it again. 

Eventprofs know the power of resilience. When a client chooses to leave our agency for any number of reasons, we bounce back and find new clients who can use our support and expertise. When challenges arise, from a tanking economy leading to unexpected cancellations, from security to transportation, mudslides and road closures, venue changes and so much more, we find solutions. We find the people we can trust, we move forward, we adapt. 

Many of you have shared your stories with me, from living with chronic conditions to losing what is most important; through illness and recovery, cross-country or global moves and a million brave choices, overcoming large and small fears as we navigate the mundane and complex day-to-day challenges of life. To each of you, thank you for choosing to include me in your journey. I salute your resilience.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

The Power of Not Yet-Kirk Style

This is Kirk, above with his wife Lorraine and their children Melissa, Nicole and Kenton and below with his sister Zella. This week Kirk is in the biggest "Not Yet" moment any of us can face. As in "Not yet God, I still have work, and play, to do here." So with his family at his side, I would like to tell you a little bit about Kirk and why everyone should send a little healing energy in his direction.

As a member of his community, Kirk does everything, and I mean everything, with the best of intentions. He has conviction in his beliefs, as outlined in his book The God Process and a deeper belief in kindness to all. This was instilled their whole lives by their parents, who were both gone too young, and whose legacy Kirk, Zella and his wife Lorraine have perpetuated - they always start with love.

Kirk loves ice cream, and chocolate, and cookies, and did I say ice cream? His love for ice cream is combined with a love for bike riding, soccer and any other reason to get outside and breathe. It was at a soccer game this past weekend where a faulty aorta burst. He has been through five surgeries this week, and WOW, what a committed surgical team at Foothills Calgary hospital. The deepest gratitude from all who are touched by Kirk is extended, words inadequate for their skill, effort and belief. Each moment, his family keeps remembering to breathe themselves and reminding Kirk why he needs to keep fighting. Each day he is now getting a little stronger.

Thirty six years ago Kirk and Lorraine fell in love and were married. Zella and her friends welcomed Lorraine to the family by removing all the furniture from their apartment while on their honeymoon and replacing it with Barbie and Ken sized furniture. Lorraine decided to stay anyhow. What I know is the strength of their bond and a love that wraps around their family. When you are first married, you are a team, holding hands and facing the world. When you start a family, you become a circle, focused inward with love and outwards to protect. As you grow together you become a quilt, each piece adding to the story, and when something this surprising happens, it is if that has been ripped in half, and now, with each stitch holding Kirk's body together, so this quilt becomes whole again.

I have lost both my father and my brother, and I know how difficult it is to lose a parent and to lose a sibling. For Zella, your bond with Kirk is incredible and I have seen first-hand the love and support you each rely on. Yours is an honest relationship which has survived the loss of too many, and for even just this reason, he needs more time here - and is indeed fighting for this. For Kenton, Nicole and Melissa, your dad is your rock. He is also your parent and for all of us, these are complex relationships, as we go from small children requiring care, to teens and now young adults finding your own paths. Always, you have known you are deeply, truly loved and also for you, it is not yet time - he will fight to see how each of you goes forward in your own strength.  

I will close with this - Kirk, there is a big bowl of ice cream with your name on it just waiting. Yes, of course it's chocolate. 

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

The Power of Not Yet

Have you ever caught a fish? Just now.
Motivation is a tricky sport. Carol Dweck has been studying it for years, and in her TED talk I enjoyed recently on my commute home, what struck me was the idea of the power of "Not yet."

How often do we say "I can't"...
  • dance, sing, play an instrument
  • climb a mountain
  • draw, paint, sculpt
  • race a car
  • ride a horse, or a llama
  • play soccer, basketball or golf
  • grow a garden
  • win a snowball fight or build an igloo
  • run 10k, or wheel 1k
  • snowboard a black diamond run
  • master a paddleboard
  • write a story or even a haiku
  • present to a group, or try improv theatre
  • solve that math problem
What if...
Instead of saying "I can't", we said, "Not yet."
Instead of saying "I failed", we said "I tried."
We remembered that none of us are masters of anything the first time we tried.
We forgave ourselves when things don't go exactly as we had planned.

The power of positive thinking, of reinforcing that learning is a process, and there is more reward in effort put forward than in getting everything right is measurable. It is measurable because when we offer the opportunity to try a little harder and to approach a problem in a different way, and to step up and meet a challenge, we start to see results. We see personal betters, we see organizational improvement. When the lowest ranked schools, the ones with the highest numbers of marginalized students were told, you can do this, just not yet, in the course of a year (one year!) the students believed their efforts could pay off. They wanted to try harder. Time after time, they went from the lowest ranked in a district to the highest.

If we apply this to our own organizations, not just saying "you have to do better" but really looking at how you can apply positive reinforcement for trying, learning, and trying again, you will see innovations and improvements. You will see teams working more collaboratively and you will see individuals keen to rise to new challenges. You will see them enjoying the process.

When we produce events, we have the opportunity to let people try new activities in safe environments. We can provide incubators for ideas and hypotheses to be tested, to see what sticks and to see what may need to be adapted. We can do this in a group of peers who can go from "we're close" to "we got this." 

Let's change our language. As parents, educators, and #eventprofs. We got this.