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Life Creativity – Applying Beyond Personal Mastery® to Life Changes

Life Creativity – Applying Beyond Personal Mastery® to Life Changes

I want to share with you my model of Creativity that provides practical steps to enhance Life and Career changes.  I will describe the model in this post, and in subsequent ones discuss each of the steps in greater detail.

Here is the Beyond Personal Mastery® model.

 

Beyond Personal Mastery® and its brother Beyond Corporate Mastery® are really two related models comprising Action and Mind steps.  The Action steps, as the name implies, describe the actions that lead to creativity.  The Mind steps are attitudes and dispositions that have been shown by research to support and promote the Action Steps and hence creativity.

The Action Steps model is based on the following ideas derived from the research into creativity:

  • Little “c” creativity involves combining ideas in a new way that has some amusement value, novelty, or modest utility for the person creating and perhaps their immediate circle
  • Big “c” creativity involves combining ideas in a new way that solves or contributes to solving a problem deemed important by others and society generally
  • Ideas are combined when previously stored knowledge is combined in a new way, or old knowledge and new experiences are combined to form a new idea
  • Innovation occurs when Strategies are developed and Implemented to put the creative idea into practice or practical use
  • Creativity starts with the Inspiration stage – meaning literally breathing in or taking in new ideas or experience. In my model this does not mean being impressed, excited or energized that comes later. The Inspiration stage is about taking in new information and experiences. There are a series of ways of improving your Inspiration. I’ll address these in another post.
  • The new information coming into the system is processed into Patterns.  This often happens automatically and unconsciously.  However consciously examining the new information for patterns will yield richer, more subtle and complex patterns.
  • Once the structure of the new information is understood in terms of patterns, the Learning stage classifies patterns into pre-existing categories, schema and mental models. or generates new categories for information deemed novel.   (The more rich the Patterns generated in the previous stage, the greater the chance of new categories being generated).  During this stage, new information can be rehearsed to ensure it is fully understood.  There are, of course, myriad different ways of enhancing learning. See future post.
  • Emulating or copying or leveraging is the stage where one has mastered the new information and can repeat it, play it, do it, understand it, explain it or use it.  Once this stage is reached, you have attained Mastery.  One of the biggest barriers to creativity is people trying to avoid Emulating, but it is an essential step. See later post.
  • Combining and Adding is the step when we go beyond mastery into creativity, hence the name of the model. It is in this stage that we take some mastered idea, knowledge or practice and combine it either with another previously mastered idea or with a current Inspiration.  When this happens – a solution or new pathway appears, often suddenly, and it gives rise to the “Aha” moment.  This is often the exciting and energizing time.  There are lots of techniques to help people with the combining and adding.
  • Once we have the new solution, it is the appropriate time to enter the Strategizing stage to develop plans and goals to implement the creation.  Nearly all personal and business change models start at this point and tend to neglect the previous steps that should now be quite obvious as being essential.  The solution/creation determines what can be a goal, a goal does not provide the solution. This is often misunderstood.  See a future post for more on how to do this.
  • Finally, we must execute our plans in the Doing Stage.   This again is non-negotiable.  Because inevitably given the complexity of the world, something will go not strictly according to the plan, and sometimes things will go very differently indeed.  These “failures” or “unexpected by products” provide new Inspirations, and so the cycle can start again.

The Action Steps explained in general terms. (click on the graphic to open in a new window where you can zoom in and enlarge image)

The Mind Steps model

The Mind Steps are likely to be more familiar to many people as the terms used here are commonly used and understood in counseling and coaching.  I will briefly explain here why they are included.  I will go into greater detail in future posts.

Optimism

The great contribution of the Positive Psychology movement, and its champions like Martin Seligman is that we now know that optimism can be learned, developed and enhanced.  Optimism is an important predictor of people’s willingness to change or an organization’s ability to change.  People who believe that things can be better in the futrure are more likely to be motivated to try to explore possible futures. The are ways of boosting optimism that I’ll cover in future posts.
Openness

Creative people and organizations are open systems.  That is they are curious about the world, and accept that there are always interesting things to learn, and different ways of doing things.  This mindset increases their chances of having new inspirations and patterning them in novel ways. It also increases their chances of combining and adding in novel ways.  Some of the ways you can increase openness will be covered in a later post.

Self-Efficacy

Is defined by Bandura as the degree to which a person believes that they are capable of achieving in a particular domain.  Self efficacy has been shown to be a strong predictor of success in a range of different areas such as completing training, preparing for a big event etc.  Increasing self-efficacy can be a useful way of fostering change.  Ways of increasing self-efficacy will be covered in a later post.

Vision

Vision refers to a collection of qualities such as Purpose, Spirituality, Connection, Limits, and Imperfection.  It is about fostering a sense of a bigger picture, and encouraging people to ask questions such as Why am I doing this?  To whom am I connected?  Whom do I serve? How can I be useful?  What place can I or do I occupy in society/family/friends? How can I serve others?   Do I have a choice? What matters to me? Research shows that fostering this type of thinking can sustain people and reduce stress. It can help people persist, or even try in the first place.

Playfulness & Risk

Increasingly research is showing that play is a potent form of learning, and that many western educational systems have under-valued its central importance.  Furthermore risk-taking is often misunderstood or characterized in pendulum attractor terms as
“risk-free or reckless”.   Nearly all creartivity has arisen from play, risk taking or both.  There are ways to develop appropriate playfulness and risk taking and I’ll show you how in a future post.

Flexibility

In a world that is rapidly changing, uncertain, complex and chaotic, the ability to be flexible is very important.  Flexibility of mind is centrally important for playfulness, inventiveness, creativity, overcoming barriers, seeking inspiration, combining and adding, strategizing and doing.

Persistence

The importance of keeping on going, in the face of adversity, loss of enthusiasm, boredom, obstacles, set-backs, criticism, despondency, ennui and the rest cannot be over-estimated.   Others prefer to capture some of these ideas under the term “Resilience”.  Much of what is done under this term would fit in the Persistence category.  I prefer the term Persistence because the word more strongly implies movement, and movement in a self-determined direction.  I’ll post more on how to develop resilience later.

And this is Life Creativity – Applying Beyond Personal Mastery® to Life Changes!

 

 

 

Transform your career by shifting: Shift 10 – From Knowing In Advance To Living With Emergence

Here is a spoiler alert – if you are likely to be going to the cinema or watching TV in the next while, you may want to skip the next paragraph.

Rosebud was his sledge.  They all did it.  The dog dies in the final reel.  The shark gets blown up with a scuba diving tank. Nixon resigns. She dies.  He dies. Dr Evil escapes.

In this time-poor world you can thank me for giving you the endings to some of the better films in cinema history thus saving you having to watch them.  Curiously not everyone I meet is thrilled when I tell them the ending to a movie.  Oddly they prefer to be surprised, and let the movie unfold for them.

However this attitude of going with the flow, seeing where it ends up, living with emergence rarely extends to our careers.  Here we are encouraged to plan thoroughly, to visualise or imagine how things will play out, to know in advance what are next steps, and indeed are foreseeable steps will be.

So why this disconnect? Why is surprise ok in the movies, but less in careers?  Maybe we are more personally invested in our careers. We believe we stand to lose more if we do not keep on top of our careers, and know in advance where we are going.

We often admire people who know where they are going.  But think about that statement for a second.  What does it mean to say you know where you are going?  Well about the only certainty (I think) is that we are going to be dead at some point, and even then, we are not certain what it means to be dead, or what “dead” is like, if anything, and if it is not like anything, what it is like?

“I know where I am going”. No you do not. Not entirely. Not certainly. Ok, I hear you say, that much is a given, but we can gain a lot from planning out a direction, and a good plan incorporates the possibility that it will not work.   From there it is but a short step into all of the popular planning tools out there – whether it is setting goals, developing strategies, or exploring the most likely outcomes.  All of these methods whether they use testing, imagination or narrative, work on the assumption that we need to narrow down a range of probable alternatives to explore more fully before finally deciding upon a course of action.

Such approaches can be useful and reassuring (especially they are reassuring to others, like parents, spouses, friends and teachers).   However the Chaos Theory of Careers characterises people as limited in their ability to fully know their own circumstances or indeed needs and wants.  It is a work in progress and over time these will change, sometimes trivially, and at others more dramatically or uncontrollably.

From this perspective, the planning model is also seen as limited.  There is no guarantee after our careful and rational deliberations that we will end up on a satisfying path.  The sense of confidence about our new found direction may ultimately serve only to send us focused and furiously up a blind alley. But hey, at least we exuded confidence as we ground to a halt.

An equally valid method of exploring our world is through living with emergence.  This is the suck and see approach, the curiosity driven approach, the experimental approach, the small steps approach, the planned failure approach.  Here the emphasis is constantly testing ones thinking, ones skills, or knowledge as well as the opportunity structures in the world.   It involves trying things out, not fully knowing how they will end up.  It is setting off on a journey and seeing where it takes you.

Such an approach involves not ever more focus, clarity and control, but continued curiosity, openness, flexibility, efficacy and optimism. It involves what Steve Jobs of Apple has referred to as “I do stuff, I respond to stuff” (Steve Jobs being interviewed by Stephen Fry in Time Magazine. Jobs responding to Fry’s question about his “career” said “”I do stuff. I respond to stuff. That’s not a career — it’s a life!”) (see this post).

Interestingly we are so conditioned to accept planning approach as superior, people often dismiss or worry about following the emergent approach.  “You must have a direction”, “You must make a choice” etc.  I think part of the problem is that people are less clear what the emergent approach really is, and perhaps confuse it with ideas like dropping out, drifting, being fatalistic, avoiding difficult choices, running away, being childlike etc.

However it is a mistake to equate an emergent approach with these kinds of notions.  An emergent approach is about continually engaging, gauging and engaging, often in lots of different directions simultaneously.  It is not about passively sitting back and waiting to see what happens. Rather it is about immersing oneself in a range of activities, and actively monitoring and reflecting on our attitudes to these, so we can modify, amplify, diminish or extinguish the activities as we see fit.  As Jobs puts it, it is about doing stuff and responding to stuff.

Ironically, it is more likely that the planning model with all of its assumptions that one can discover and think through in advance sensible options to move you in a good direction that can lead to inaction as people stall with fear lest they make the wrong choice, or choose to explore a dud option.

This is evident in situations where, for instance, a College student cannot choose a major.  The planning perspective is that there must be a correct decision.  Planners are likely to throw their arms up in despair at any suggestion that the student do anything other than think even more deeply about their situation and preferences.   There is money at stake here afterall!

For some students, this may be helpful if they have been partying so hard they almost forgot why they had gone to College in the first place.  However for most, this injunction to think harder or deeper serves only to frustrate – as though they haven’t already tried this.

Here it may well be better to suggest an emergent approach.  Simply go with one or other choice, but at the same time try out other things. Take other courses on the side, get more experience in a range of other things, see what comes of those endeavours.  It may well be the case that one of these avenues leads somewhere entirely different and more enjoyable than any of the original options.  However it may also be the case, that they would never have known this at the time.

But this is not optimal, and the student ends up with a degree (and a bill) in a subject area they are no longer interested in.  Well that is the point, and that is life.  We cannot always know these things in advance. However that student, if they followed the emergent approach will have been energetically exploring, doing and responding to stuff that will likely have sharpened their likes and dislikes and exposed them to things that are more likely to provide them with some satisfaction.

So the student ended up with a degree that they do not use directly. So what?  Tell that to the 60% of Engineers who end up in Business, or the vast majority of Psychology graduates that do not practice Psychology.  It is not a tragedy. It is only a tragedy if they are encouraged to see their choices as being sub-optimal failures, rather than in the context of ongoing exploration, self-awareness and environmental awareness.

One of the benefits of the Emergent approach is that in adopting it or recommending it, we are privileging ideas like flexibility, curiosity, openness, adaptability, opportunity awareness and skills of reinvention.   These ideas are actively downplayed or seen as weaknesses or problems in the planning approach.  However in a world that is increasingly unpredictable and chaotic, employers are crying out for flexible workforces, and the person who is able to re-invent themselves or be flexible in what they can offer is likely to be more gainfully employed, as well as more satisfied with what they do.   Emergent approaches are good approaches for the times we live in.

Ultimately, we all live with emergence whether we like it or not. It is our reactions to this fact that can lead us astray.  An over-reliance on planning, and on insisting on knowing in advance places unrealistic demands upon the world, and can have counter productive results.

Our careers are not like movies, we cannot know the end, even if we wanted to. They do not follow the script, even if we wanted them to.  And they are not best enjoyed as a viewer in the 2nd row with a box of popcorn.

Living with emergence, means just that. Living.

Shiftwork is the work we have to do to manage, thrive and survive in a world where shift happens.  I’ve identified 11 shifts that we have to make (see here), so far I’ve addressed the first nine, and in this post, I addressed the tenth shift.  The earlier ones you can read by following these links:

  • first shift Prediction To Prediction And Pattern Making (see here)
  • second shift From Plans To Plans And Planning (see here)
  • third one From Narrowing Down To Being Focused On Openness (here)
  • fourth shift From Control To Controlled Flexibility (see here)
  • fifth shift  From Risk As Failure To Risk As Endeavour (see here)
  • sixth shift From Probabilities To Probable Possibilities (see here)
  • seventh shift from Goals, Roles & Routines to Meaning, Mattering and Black Swans (see here)
  • eighth shift from Informing to Informing and Transforming (see here)
  • ninth shift from Normative thinking to Normative and Scaleable thinking (see here)

Transform your Career by shifting: Shift 7 From Goals, Roles And Routines To Meaning, Mattering, And Black Swans

Shiftwork is the work we have to do to manage, thrive and survive in a world where shift happens.  I’ve identified 11 shifts that we have to make (see here), so far I’ve addressed the first six, and in this post, I address the seventh shift.  The earlier ones you can read by following these links:

  • first shift Prediction To Prediction And Pattern Making (see here)
  • second shift From Plans To Plans And Planning (see here)
  • third one From Narrowing Down To Being Focused On Openness (here)
  • fourth shift From Control To Controlled Flexibility (see here)
  • fifth shift  From Risk As Failure To Risk As Endeavour (see here)
  • sixth shift From Probabilities To Probable Possibilities (see here)

We live in a world that is complex, changing and therefore inherently uncertain. These fundamental features of our world apply to everything from cellular reproduction to operating the windscreen wipers on a car.   It is how we respond to the challenges that complexity, change and uncertainty pose that influences or determines how successfully and happily we live in this world.

Ironically, one of the most common responses to complexity, change and uncertainty is to act to reduce or eliminate them, or if we cannot do that, to pretend they do not exist.   We can cope with the idea that one factor causes or influences another thing – like heat turning bread into toast, and we are especially happy when the relationship is controllable – the longer in the toaster, the browner the toast.  However when there are nine different options to operate the windscreen wipers it is all too much.  I know someone who has just sold their car for a cheaper and simpler one for this reason!  If only the world and the people in it obeyed simple rules, life could be conquered, neatly bundled up and put in a box.

To be fair, this approach has been spectacularly successful in many regards.  Sit under an apple tree long enough and you will appreciate Newton’s insights about gravity and apples. Lots of things in the physical world do appear at the human scale to behave in predictable and lawful ways over reasonably long periods of time.  Stonehenge is still standing, Warwick Castle remains, the Pyramids are still around.

However, when it comes to humans and human interactions, simple models of behavior have proved to be less successful, humans and their interactions have proved to be less predictable, less controllable.  There are simply too many different influences coming to bear at any one time with a tendency to change from one moment to the next.

This has not stopped us from trying to account for behavior in the relatively simple terms of personality, star sign, gender, sexuality, head shape, body shape, political views, family history, birth place, birth order, early childhood experience, love of cats or dogs and many more.   In nearly all cases evidence can be found that suggests these factors do play a small part in our behavior. However the emphasis is on the small part they play, and even when combined there is still a very large amount of uncertainty in behavior remaining.

Nonetheless the desire for a predictable live leads us to implementing strategies that are predicated on the world being an unchanging, controllable and predictable place.  The three most common strategies are Goal Setting; Role Setting and Routine Setting.

Goal setting is the most popular behavior change strategy employed by individuals and organizations. It is almost uncritically accepted, a point I and several others have been making for some time (see this article and this one).

In complexity terms, goal setting involves reducing all of the complexity in a situation simply to the actor and the goal – from here to there.   The strength of goal setting is that it demands that we focus upon a clearly defined target, and very often it further demands that we move toward that target within a specific time frame.

As I’ve pointed out before (along with others) goal setting works well in psychology labs and in the short-term. Over longer periods (typically more than 3 – 6 months) the potential for things changing in our environments, or us changing is so great that the goal posts shift or are obliterated.

In situations where there is a lot of ambiguity and change, there is a danger that goal setting will lock us in too early to an objective that is ultimately undesirable.  Goals work best in simple situations in the short-term.  Goals can be useful, but to rely on them overly or exclusively runs the risk of missing opportunities that change brings, or becoming rigid, stereotyped and irrelevant in a complex changing situation.

Another way of simplifying the world is to think of ourselves and others as occupying roles.  We do this to ourselves when we think in terms of “worker”, “homemaker”, “parent”, “lover”, “child” etc.   Like goals these can be useful ways of making sense, but ultimately they are limited and too rigid to capture the complexity of a changing world.  The simplistic messages first adumbrated about work-life balance highlight the limitations of dividing the world into these categories.  The reality is messier, the boundaries are blurred.  In organizations in the past, the extensive application of roles in the workplace led to demarcation disputes, inflexibility and a lack of competitiveness.   Organizations with rigid structures have typically not fared well in the 21st century business environment.  Similarly those with an overly rigid sense of self, reinforced by a role label also struggle.

The third strategy is to impose routines as way of increasing predictability and reducing complexity.  Everyone knows where they are with a set of rules.  Funnily in sport, the most artificial of rule-governed environments, where doing the best within the rules is the whole raison d’etre, the rules often change from one season to the next. For instance check this site to see how the rules changed in baseball. Changes are made as players adapt and exploit loopholes or even as was the case in 1975, a shortage of horses meant they needed to find another type of hide to cover the balls!

The point is that there is always an exception to the rule.  Things change unpredictably requiring the rules or routines to change.  Rules and routines are always a response to complexity, they never lead or tame it.  Further because things are complex, the rules or routines will never be able to fully capture or anticipate that complexity.

We all have experienced the exasperation of dealing with “more than my job’s worth” little pedants – or their voice activated counter-parts, or sometimes whole bureaucracies that just cant or wont respond to your particular circumstances.   Rules, regulations, policies and the like are an essential part of life that provide a degree of certainty and consistency of expectation in human interaction, but like Goals and Roles, when applied rigidly, without finesse and wisdom, they can become rigid, inefficient, and sometimes damaging or even inhumane.

Shift 7 is about recognising the value and importance of these strategies, but seeks to add other approaches to life that transcend these attempts at trying to control and predict everything.   The move to Meaning, Mattering and Black Swans underlines the fundamental importance of these things to the human condition.

Doing things that have personal or community meaning is an important but neglected consideration in our work and organizations.  Instead of jumping straight to the goal setting tool bag to solve our problems, time spent reflecting on what is the most meaningful thing that I or we could do, may provide a bigger guiding framework into which shorter-term goals or roles or routines begin to make sense.  Having this sense of meaningful work also provides a home for wisdom – the wisdom to recognize when goals are not appropriate or should be changed or abandoned.

Mattering is a related concept to meaning and it relates to doing work that matters to us and to others.  It means doing work that resonates with our sense of calling, purpose or vision, and work that has a tangible and important positive effect on others or society.  It is about social connection and doing something useful and worthwhile. It is work as social contribution.   Again mattering is superordinate concept to Goals, Roles and Routines.   It guides us as to their use and application.

Ironically Meaning and Mattering are the things that provide the motive force to maintain Goals, Roles and Routines.  It is when we start to question whether what we are doing is meaningless or feel that is does not matter to us or to others that we begin to waiver, before getting stuck.  Often a failure to think sufficiently and frequently about Meaning and Mattering risks us following Goals, Roles and Routines on autopilot, and in so doing we do not take into account the shifting sands of our lives and the result is we run aground and get stuck fast.   As Norm Amundson points out many people (and organizations) report feeling “stuck” when they hit a crisis point.

Finally, the Black Swans refers to the term I think was termed by Nassim Taleb in his eponymous book from 2007.  He makes the point that Europeans assumed that all swans were white until a black one was discovered in Western Australia.  The point is that in many situations (more than we tend to appreciate) it only takes one thing of which we were previously unaware to change everything.  Black Swans are a reminder that what we dont know we dont know has the greatest potential to impact our lives and they are things that we cannot predict with goals, or simplify into Roles or Routines.

The presence of Black Swans in our lives (that Taleb credits for every event of signifcance in human history!) is a potent reminder of the severe limitations on our ability to predict, control, goal-set, role-set or routinize our lives.  It is a reminder that if we want to be successful in our lives, we need to do what is meaningful, what matters and to be excited and content to live with the uncertainty of Black Swans.

 

Finding Harmony in work: A strategy to re-soul your career

Harmony: Finding Harmony in work: A strategy to re-soul your career

In my earlier blog Resouling your career I defined harmony in the following terms: “Harmony is a joyful dance through and with life.” Here I want to expand on some practical ideas for finding harmony in your career. In part prompted by Ed Colozzi’s excellent comments on that blog, and in particular because I want to explore the idea of harmony because it has so much to offer to people in their careers.

Harmony is a metaphor derived from music to describe a fundamental aspect of nature where we respond strongly when some things are joined or blended.

In music, harmony is the use of simultaneous pitches (tones, notes), or chords. In some types of music like jazz chords can be altered with “tensions”. A tension is the addition of an element within the chord that sets up dissonance with the bass. Usually in music, this dissonant chord resolves into a consonant chord.  Harmony is the sense of balance between the dissonant and consonant chords – between the tension and the relaxation.

So to my mind, harmony is about a dynamic, an oscillation between tension (I mean this in the mild sense and NOT stress!) and relaxation, a repeating pattern that resonates with us.  It involves the interplay between two or more elements and involves the careful timing to ensure the blends happen at the right time.  In career terms, being “in sync” with others or events may provide a sense of harmony.  Pitching in with contributions or ideas at just the right time, responding intuitively and spontaneously to others – these are all examples of harmony.

Obviously harmony extends beyond music and can be found in all walks of life if we are attuned to seek it out.  Cezanne stated, “When paintings are done right, harmony appears by itself. The more numerous and varied they are, the more the effect is obtained and agreeable to the eye”.  Harmony is an arrangement of the elements or parts of the whole that creates a strong positive aesthetic reaction in us. All the elements seem to work together to create a pleasing order.

Art and music teach us that the common underlying theme of harmony is a sense of connection where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts and creates an immediate positive response in us.   It is not only a sense of connection, rather those connections appear to be dictated by a sense of order and belonging – the elements combine in very specific ways – to create that pattern of tension and resolution.  You cannot simply throw any random elements together and expect to get harmony.

In Chaos Theory of Career terms, Harmony can be seen as an emergent property of the dynamic complex interconnected influences in our lives and careers.  It explains why the idea of “fit” between a person and job should not be construed in static terms, but as a dynamic dance.  Harmony is dynamic.

I like to think of harmony in terms of dance because it melds the musical and visual elements of harmony.  In dancing, getting your timing right so that you are in the right place to meet your partner, or doing the the thing that is consonant with the music makes the difference between a satisfying dance and an embarrassing display!

In career terms harmony involves understanding connection, knowing how and when to join in. It involves timing and rhythm.  It involves feeling part of something bigger but at the same time remaining a distinctive element in that bigger thing. Harmony is about blending in AND standing out, it is not about subjugating your voice, rather adding your voice.

Listening carefully, observing, appreciating that you are distinctive and bring unique qualities to work.  This requires acceptance of both your strengths and limitations. It requires respect and close observation of others and nature to understand as much as possible how things go together and to spot opportunities where the addition of your contribution will create harmony.

I also want to clarify my comment in that earlier blog that you can’t do harmony on your own.  What I mean by this, is not that you need other people to achieve harmony necessarily (but often this is where the most obvious or accessible harmony can be found) rather whether it is communing with nature, or meditating, harmony necessarily involves the blending of your self into something greater, something bigger (thanks Ed for making this point in your comments on the Re-souling blog!).

Harmony James

I included album cover for this artist, because I love her name!!

Here are a few suggestions about how you can achieve harmony in your career:

1.  Harmonize with your self. Find time and space in your life to reflect on who you are and what you have to offer

2. Harmonize with your spirit. Try meditation, prayer or silent time (perhaps immerse yourself in a long bath or sauna!) to remove the background noise to listen to the quiet signals and messages

3. Harmonize with others. Immerse yourself in projects and connections – do not expect to find harmony in all of these, but use them as learning opportunities to explore the nature of your strengths and the types of work and people where you experience harmony

4. Harmonize with nature.  Find times to immerse yourself in nature.  This might be a walk or bike ride through the country, a visit to a beach, or it could be appreciating a flower, a flower’s scent or a bird in your back yard. It could be a camping trip, or sitting atop a mountain sipping hot chocolate while taking in the view.  When fully immersed you feel that instantaneous connection as a distinctive part of a vibrant dynamic, complex and inter-connected world.

5. Harmonize with time. Be persistent, harmony requires timing, and in careers timing is not always under your control.  So do not give up if your fail to harmonize in your initial attempts.

6. Harmonize with difference. Seek out friends, colleagues or team members who bring harmony – not people who simply agree with everything you believe – a carbon copy, remember you need that pattern of tension & resolution for harmony – this is why diversity in teams is so essential – without moments of tension you simply have blind agreement – there is no movement, no oscillation, no harmony.

7. Harmonize with change – recognise you are change, are changing like the things around you and harmony needs the constant movement, the warp and weft, the alterations, to be maintained.

 

What is your idea of harmony? How do you find harmony in your work?

 

ps  check out this beautiful video posted via twitter just after I posted this – harmony!

Coaching and Leading for the short-term and authenticity

Coaching and Leading for the short-term and authenticity

The short term gets a bad press.  A short-term measure is frequently seen as superficial, a temporary band aid solution that fails to address the deeper underlying problem. This perspective fails to recognise the fact that the short term regularly turns out to be long term. The things that we do now can and often do have a major influence on things down the track (in the longer term).

You cannot get to the longer term without going through lots of short terms, it simply isn’t possible. However frequently Leaders are criticised for not taking a long-term view, coaches and counselors are enjoined to take a longer term perspective.  However anyone demanding a long-term view should be made to spell out how that view articulates in the short term.

I think people are reluctant to spell out the short-term implications of a long-term view, because they feel compelled to produce a “complete” solution.  Often an honest and legitimate short term implication is that little will appear to have changed.

Short term is not synonymous with simple. However it is often necessary to simplify in any one short term action, simply because we are human and there are limits to what we can think and do simultaneously.  However doing lots of simple things reasonably contemporarily can add up to complexity.  Lots of short term actions can address complexity.

The corollary of this is that short-term strategies do not have to be over-simplified and rigid.  This is how short-term actions get a bad name. In our preoccupation to be seen to be doing something tangible, we can miscontrue a situation in overly simple terms which in turn begets an overly narrow, simplistic set of actions that may give the appearance of addressing a problem, but in fact is not doing so particularly effectively.

Imagine someone pitching the idea of aging.  The long term view is that our hair will go grey or just go and our skin will become wrinkled (Joan Rivers excepted).  But what about now? What is the short term effect of aging.  The true answer is that tomorrow you’ll pretty much the same as today, notwithstanding any major life events or traumas. And the day after, and the day after that.  If you’re lucky and the year after that.

The key to embracing BOTH the short term and the long term is to recognise that in a complex and changing world, it is not always possible to get  clear line of sight between the short term and the long term.  It may not be clear why events happening now have any meaningful connection with outcomes then. This insight means we cannot control and predict, we cannot know all, we are indeed vulnerable as Brene Brown points out here and in this knowledge we can be authentic leaders, coaches or counsellors.

Being aware and comfortable in discussing that the short term may not offer a complete solution to the puzzle, and indeed that in reality, neither does the longer term, rather what we are trying to do is intentionally and intelligently explore the mystery, is an important step toward authenticity.

Once you have a stated (long term aim, purpose or calling) you can be liberated into attempting lots of short term experiments.  The danger lies in attempting to apply planning techniques that work well in a short term situation like goal setting that demands a specific result by a specific time.  Imposing such specificity on longer term outcomes has the tendency to stymie short term innovation and experimentation, because it is always being held to account against a rigid set of criteria.

Short term actions may not only fail to appear to be moving things along, it may even appear to be going in the wrong direction.  Within the Chaos Theory of Careers, the long term is an emergent pattern (or state) that results from many many repeated short-term events.

Taking action in the short term without a sense of purpose, intention or calling may result in good longer term outcomes, but it relies a lot on chance.  Following an intentional, purposeful path may not result in a desired or even desirable outcome (there are no guarantees in life) but it does at least mean you are more likely to be prepared to follow hunches, hear calling, try things out and take action in the first place.

Placing demands on yourself and on others to articulate tangible and specific outcomes in the short-term or the long-term may result in such a jaundiced view of the short term, that you don’t bother even trying.  It is a failure to appreciate that trying and striving now can and does lead to places then.  The short term is the birthplace of action, but dont waste your time anxiously looking for results.  For some things, and dare I say, the most important things, the outcome or result emerges over time, and in some cases, those patterns may not be evident within our lifetimes.  That fact should not deter us from trying and trying now.

see also this post on calling and re-souling your career

 

 

Five ways to resoul your career

Five ways to resoul your career

What is the point? Why am I doing this? Who cares? Does it matter? As Poehnell & Amundson (2011) point out “Many have questions about who they are and what they ought to be doing with their lives. Many struggle with personal and external issues that make it difficult for them to effectively answer these questions in practical ways that can be worked out in today’s labour market.”(p18).

Ultimately I believe that these are questions that at some time or other we all ask ourselves, and I further believe that frequently these questions are prompted by career crises.  I also believe that these questions can in part be answered or addressed through our careers.

Our careers can become vehicles for the expression of and the nurturing of our souls.  The impacts of exploitative work or drudgery are reflected in the terms we use to describe these activities such as soulless, soul destroying, empty, meaningless, crushing and so on. Similarly unemployment has been described in similar terms.  It reminds me of the close connection between work and the soul.

A good career is food for the soul.  A good career allows us to attend to meaning and mattering in our lives (Amundson, 2009). A good career fosters our spirit because our work is social contribution (Savickas, 1997).  All work is social – as John Paul Getty said, if you haven’t got a problem, you haven’t got a job – work is socially delegated problem-solving. So in working with others to help them solve problems we achieve connection, and this in turn provides us with a sense of social connection, a sense of place and a sense of belonging.  We become part of a community of connection through work. Thus work is spiritual.

Deborah Bloch in her writings on Spirituality (e.g. Bloch 1997; 1998) identifies five aspects of spirituality that are relevant to careers:

  • Calling
  • Purpose
  • Transcendence
  • Connection
  • Harmony.

Calling

Ed Colozzi has written that finding work that addresses ones essential sense of worth and meaning – the work you are meant to do and have to do, is to discover one’s calling. Having a sense of mission can be motivating, reassuring and sustaining when inevitably we are confronted by barriers and frustrations in work.

Doing the work you feel you are meant to do may manifest itself by a sense of fluency or ease with which the work becomes available to you.  A series of  “chance events” that appear to smooth the way into a role, or provide the opportunities to follow a path or complete a task can sometimes be interpreted as signs of a calling. A feeling of being “comfortable in ones shoes”, that you have found your niche, that you fit in can all be expressions of finding a calling.

Listening carefully to that calling can sometimes be difficult. Some have suggested techniques such as meditation and other mindfulness approaches as a way to clear away the distracting inner dialogues to hear our calling.  A calling may appear to change and transform as contexts and the problems we confront change over time, and the challenge is to understand the consistency of the Calling and to have the wisdom to articulate that calling in different ways in different contexts.  This is what some call being true to yourself.

Purpose

Related to our Calling is a sense of purpose.  A sense of purpose results when we transform our calling into meaningful social contribution, which often is some form of work (whether paid or unpaid).  Having a sense of purpose means to be able to see the connections between our intentional actions and their intended impact upon the world. It follows that work that is meaningful to us and that matters to us and to others is going to be purposeful work.

Transcendence

Within the Chaos Theory of Careers (Pryor & Bright, 2011), a central idea is that the sheer complexity of ourselves and the systems we live within mean there are limitations to what we can know or is knowable. Thus the world is a mystery, not a puzzle that is to be solved or indeed solvable (e.g. Dave Snowden 2010, see for instance his comments at the end of his blog here).

There is structure, knowledge or systems that are beyond what we know, beyond our limitations of what we can know. Kant saw faith as a way to deal with the transcendent.

Connection

If work is social contribution then work connects us to society.  One of the most commonly noted consequences of unemployment for many is the sense of disconnection and ennui that many who are unemployed can feel.  A spiritual sense of connection often refers to a vaster connection of things in the world.  Within the Chaos Theory of Careers (Pryor & Bright, 2011), the notion of sensitivity to initial conditions (the characteristic that leads to non-linear, or sudden or disproportional changes in our systems) it is interesting to ask what are our “initial conditions” for our personal human systems. Quickly it becomes apparent that we do not “start” with our genes, because these came from somewhere, and before we know it, our family tree of “starting conditions” takes us back to the beginning of the universe – and that is to take just one aspect of our “starting conditions”.  We live in and between our connections.

Harmony

Being at one with the universe is to have a sense of harmony.  You cant do harmony on your own (well you can record yourself repeatedly and overdub it in Garageband software!) but generally the most satisfying harmonies occur when we become one, like a band playing well together, or two singers in duet.  There is something that moves us when we experience harmony, something that we want to join in with.  I see harmony in the modern phenomena of flash mobs. The spontaneous coming together of people.  In their paper showing how Youtube can be used effectively in career counseling, Glavin, Smal & Vandermeeren (2009) refer to a video showing how a flashmob forms when the song Do Re Mi is played through the PA and people spontaneously join a joyful dance. One of the authors describes her reaction to watching this video: “To begin with, I love performance art that incorporates an unsuspecting public because the crowd becomes a part of the performance and it is an art form that exists only within the moment. The other thing that I like about this video is the sense that everyone in the train station is a part of something greater. You see the people’s expressions changing from confusion, to surprise, to excitement, and in some cases, you see them begin to let go – letting the moment, and the movement, move them. I think that one of the most powerful gifts you can give someone is the sense that they are not alone in this world.”

Harmony is a joyful dance through and with life.

Five ways to re-soul your career.

  1. Find some quiet time; take a break or a trip on your own. Clear your schedule and try some mindfulness techniques to clear away day to day distractions.  Try to find time each week to practice this. Learn to hear your calling.
  2. List out how your work links to society. What difference are you making? How important is that to you. Does it matter to you or to others? How could you find out how and why it matters?
  3. Relax your preoccupation with trying to control or predict everything.  Recognize that you cannot do it or know it all and be comfortable with that. Celebrate that fact and be humble in the face of it.
  4. Write out the ways in which you are connected to your: family, friends, community, place, country, colleagues, and strangers
  5. Join in. Consciously make the effort to harmonise with others. Seek opportunities to be in harmony.

P.S. If you are interested in a much more extensive consideration of Spirituality within the Chaos Theory of Careers, chapter 9 of The Chaos Theory of Careers is where to look or get it from me here.

P.P.S. You may find more on practical ways of working with spirituality in this post

P.P.P.S. David Winter’s Existential Take on Spirituality here and my next post that is related here

P.P.P.P.S.  PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT – IT IS A FORM OF CONNECTION AFTERALL! 🙂

References

Amundson, N. (2009). Active engagement: Enhancing the career counseling process (3rd ed.). Richmond, BC: Ergon Communications

Bloch, D. P. & Richmond, L. J. (eds.). (1997). Connections between spirit & work in career development. Palo Alto, CA: Davies-Black.

Bloch, D. P. (1997). Spirituality, intentionality and career success: The quest for meaning. In D. P. Bloch & L. J. Richmond (eds.). Connections between spirit & work in career development (pp. 25–208). Palo Alto, CA: Davies-Black.

Bloch, D. P. (2006). Spirituality and careers. In J. H. Greenhaus & G. A. Callanan (eds.), Encyclopedia of career development (Vols. 1 & 2, pp. 762–764). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Bloch & L. J. Richmond (eds.), Connections between spirit & work in career development (pp. 85–208). Palo Alto, CA: Davies-Black.

Colozzi, E. A. (2007). Spirituality, career development and calling: Emergent phenomena. Paper presented at NCDA Global Conference, Seattle on July 8, 2007.

Colozzi, E. A. & Colozzi, L. C. (2000). College students’ callings: An integrated values-oriented perspective. In D. A. Luzzo (ed.), Career counseling of college students: An empirical guide to strategies that work (pp. 63–91). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Glavin, K., Smal, P., & Vandermeeren, N. (2009). Integrating career counseling and technology. Career Planning and Adult Development Journal, 25(1), 160?176.

Poehnell, G. & Amundson, N. (2011). Hope-filled Engagement. Richmond, BC: Ergon Communications

Savickas, M. L. (1997). The spirit in career counseling: Fostering self-completion through work. In D. Bloch and L. Richmond (eds.), Connections between spirit and work in career development: New approaches and practical perspectives (pp. 3–26). Palo Alto, CA: Davies-Black Publishing.

Snowden, D. (2010). Extispicium. Cognitive Blog. Downloaded from http://www.cognitive-edge.com/blogs/dave/2010/07/extispicium.php on 15.4.2011

 

Using Signpost cards to understand passion, purpose and values

Signpost Cards

 

Signpost cards, are a set of 48 cards developed by Russell Deal of Innovative Resources. They are based upon original photographs that that inspire exploration of the importance of purpose and belonging in our everyday lives.

Introduction

 

One of the most important, but regularly unspoken questions in a career counselling session is “what is the point?”.  As Amundson (2009) points  out clients often seek career counselling when they feel “stuck”. This sense of going nowhere can sometimes be the result of an obvious barrier, but frequently the reasons are more diffuse, and are connected to a lack of a sense of purpose, or a failure to appreciate what is personally meaningful or what matters most. Sometimes the people seek counselling for assistance in finding an outlet for their purpose.

Signposts cards are a resource that support the counsellor and client in bringing to the forefront and addressing issues relating to meaning and mattering.  In so doing, these cards provide a valuable tool to have effective career conversations about topics that go to the heart of the idea of a fulfilling career.

Not all clients are ready to consider such weighty matters, and indeed sometimes clients may present as being suspicious of the whole counselling process, reluctant to cooperate or are by nature somewhat withdrawn.  In some cases, a lack of cooperation can arise if there is a perceived power imbalance, for instance, when an authority figure like a Manager, Teacher, or older counsellor is working with a less senior client, or a younger person.  Similarly if the client does not attend voluntarily, but presents to meet a requirement or perhaps at the behest of someone else like a partner or parent, this can be enough for them to be hesitant and untrusting in the early part of counselling.

Signpost cards, can be a useful ice-breaking device because they provide an immediate shared context between counsellor and client, and they move the focus of attention away from the counsellor-client interaction, to the cards themselves.

The extensive use of visual metaphors further reduces the pressure on the client to respond verbally, or extensively, and provides them with an alternative, ready made language in which to articulate their feelings.  In this way, Signpost cards provided a valuable and flexible resource to begin and to foster meaningful career conversations.

Addressing what matters, and living with emergent meaning (from Pryor & Bright, 2004)

The Chaos Theory of Careers (Pryor and Bright, 2003ab, 2004, 2007, 2011; Bright and Pryor 2005, 2008) explicitly incorporates spirituality into career decision making.  Bright, Pryor, Wilkenfeld and Earl (2005) reported that young Australians commonly offered spiritual reasons for their career decision making and behaviour. Savickas (1997) argues that the role of the Career Counsellor is to foster the client’s spirit.

By emphasising the complexity of influence on careers as well as the inherent uncertainty in all actions, the Chaos Theory of Careers provides a natural and inclusive home for both the rational and spiritual in career planning.  Chaos theory is about what we know and do not and indeed cannot know; what we can control and what we cannot and will never, control – about confronting a dauntingly complex reality and instead of being intimidated being awestruck and humbled (Pryor & Bright, 2003 a,b).

 

Chaos Theory of Careers – a natural home for the spiritual in career planning

Chaos theory views reality in terms of complex dynamical systems which have a number of distinctive characteristics as a result of being complex, dynamical and systemic. Complexity is a recognition that reality has to be comprehended in its totality despite what challenges of investigation this poses (Lewin, 1951). The more complex chaotic systems are the more likely it is that random, unplanned, unpredicted events will begin to appear in the course of the functioning of the system. The unpredictability of the weather is a classic illustrative case. The dynamical nature of chaotic systems is a consequence of complex systems’ sensitivity to change that can be quite disproportionate to the alteration in the initial conditions. This is popularly known as “the butterfly effect” with the by line from the recent movie with that title “change one thing: change everything”. More serious contemporary examples are the impact a few terrorists may have on a whole continent and the computer virus on the Internet with the potential to bring down literally millions of computers worldwide, from perhaps only one gifted but maladjusted hacker.

Order and Disorder as composites and not opposites

Up to this point chaos theory may appear to be only about chaos or disorder, when in fact it is also about order (Kellert, 1993). The systemic component of chaos theory emphasises the interconnectedness of elements which when functioning as a system begin to display characteristics of pattern and order. Chaos theory recognises order as the emergent and often synergistic properties of systems’ functioning (Morowitz, 2002). The leaves on a particular species of gum tree all produce recognisably similar configurations of leaves. Order is a consequence of the boundedness of the functioning of a system. This is known in mathematical systems theory as the attractor. Chaos theory introduces the idea of the strange attractor which is essentially the self-organising patterning of a system which repeats itself but not in such a way that can always be predicted (Kellert, 1993). That is what it means to be a complex dynamical system. But where does this so-called “Theory of Everything” (Morowitz,2002) intersect with career development theory and practice and what are some of the consequent implications?

The accepted wisdom among psychologists used to be that these two domains of human experience do not have much overlap and that while psychology may contribute to the understanding of religious behaviour, spirituality really had nothing to tell hardnosed empiricists and conceptually confined theoreticians. In the career development field unless you were discussing careers in the clergy, spirituality was simply neglected or purposely omitted from consideration.

Perceiving, understanding and acting in the world

The resurgence of interest in spirituality in the general community is becoming increasingly reflected in the career development literature. Counselling strategies and assessment techniques abound which deal with spiritual concepts such as purpose, meaning, balance, harmony, passion, mission, commitment, contribution and integrity (Anderson, 1998; Bloch, 1997; Bolles, 2003; Johnston, 2000). Chaos theory stresses pattern and emergent order as characteristics of the functioning of complex dynamical systems. The pattern or fractal of a person’s life and career development, are functions of each individual’s strange attractor. The strange attractor can be understood in terms of what really matters to someone, their “ultimate concern”, the paradigm they have for perceiving, understanding and acting in the world. Thus chaos theory draws no distinction between the scientific and the spiritual. They are both elements in the functioning of the complex dynamical system that we call our human existence (Morowitz, 2002).

What is being claimed is not that all these new currents of thinking, conceptualising and counselling practice owe their origins to chaos theory. These new realities have derived principally from careers counsellors confronting the daily challenges of twenty-first century career development, not theorists. Rather, what is being claimed is that chaos theory can provide a coherent understanding of such new currents’ significance, their links to each other and to reality in general.

Signpost Cards (Russell Deal and Karen Masman, 2004)

The Signpost cards provide an interactive and natural way to address spiritual issues in careers.  The cards are designed to “provide a simple set of prompts that can help us reflect on, and talk about, our search for meaning and significance”.  As Deal and Masman point out there are no rules for using the cards, your imagination is the only limiting factor.  Here though are some suggestions for using these in the context of vocational counselling. In all cases the cards can be used in group or individual counselling and / or teaching scenarios.

How to introduce the cards

Introduce the cards to a client or a group, with a brief background such as:

“These are a set of cards that contain statements about different aspects of life or values that important to many people.  What I am interested in today, is which of the statements on these cards do you see as relevant to your past or future career. Remember there are no wrong or right answers here, all you are required to do is think about each statement on each card and consider how it relates to you and what is important to you”.

Here are some exercises for you to consider:

 

Cards that mean something to me.

Shuffle the cards in front of the client to convey that there is no pattern in the way the cards are displayed.  Lay out the  48 cards in a  6 x 8 grid. Now ask the client to look at the cards and to select at least 2 or 3 and no more than 7 that jump out at them as saying something about their work values or their career.   Ask the client to place these cards in front of them, and collect up the other cards so they do not distract the client.

Now, ask the client to consider each selected card in turn and ask them about why they selected the card.  Some questions to prompt this include:

Why did you select that card?

Can you tell me a story about your work/career/life/experience that relates to this card?

How can you incorporate the statement on this card into your career / career plans / next job / life?

Can you see a pattern across the cards you have chosen? What is that pattern and how does it relate to your career?

Forced choice  random pairs.

Take the pack of cards and shuffle them.  Now deal two cards from the top of the deck. Ask the client to select one of those cards.  After the selection, ask them why they chose the card they did, how it relates to their career, and how the statement might be useful in their future career.  Repeat this process with the next 2 cards and so on

Your career story

Spread the cards out on a table and ask client to write down a story that reflects who they as a person and how their career has unfolded using the cards to reflect aspects of their career. They should make explicit reference to the cards, why they chose them and how they relate to their career.

Optional: Ask the client which essential plot (Pryor & Bright, 2008) applies: Rags to riches, Overcoming the monster, Voyage and Return, The Quest, Tragedy, Comedy or Rebirth.  Then ask the client to re-cast the story within another plot.

Significant Others

Ask the client to repeat the “Cards that mean something to me” exercise, but on this occasion do it through the eyes of some significant other person – what cards would they decide mattered to the client?

Like / Dislike

 

Rapidly present one card at a time to the client and ask them whether they like the card or don’t like the card.  Then place the cards in one of two piles for like or dislike.  Alternatively you can get the client to do this themselves, but having the counsellor do it, is one way to maintain a rapid pace.

Once they’ve been sorted into two piles, take the like pile (which is normally a lot larger than the dislike pile), and spread all of the liked cards out on a large table so each can be seen clearly.

Now tell the client they have 1 minute to select their top favourites from the set.  Make a point of timing them with a watch, stop watch or mobile phone timer.

Most clients will feel a little challenged by this exercise which why you impose the “strict” time limits.  The idea is to encourage the client to make “hunch” or instinctive selections without overthinking their choices.

You may find that a client stubbornly refuses to choose only 10 and may pick 11, 12 or a couple more. This is fine. The main aim is to reduce the number of choices to a workable number.

Once these have been chosen, ask the client why they have chosen those particular cards.  Typically clients will spontaneously commence explaining their choices, but same may need some prompting.

If appropriate write down their commentary.  If the client has not spontaneously offered an explanation that links their choices together, next ask the client if they can see any common themes emerging from their selections.

Worked Example

 

Client A

 

Client A was sent to see me, and appeared reluctant and withdrawn.  She was in her late teens and her parents were concerned about her disconnection with education and work.  She had left school prematurely, and had worked in series of labouring roles that appeared to be well below her potential and that did not satisfy her.

Having initially tried to engage her in conversation about her past, it was evident she was not forthcoming, and maintained a very guarded and defensive attitude.

At this stage I introduced the cards by saying “Ok, I’d like you to have a look at these for me, and just pick out any that you like”.  I deliberately underplayed the exercise in attempt to avoid provoking further suspicion or withdrawal.

As she sorted through the cards, I observed how she approached the task.  It was apparent that she was quite engaged by the cards, and in particular made emphatic gestures of pushing away cards that she did not like.

From this (and her general demeanour) I formed the hypothesis that she was fairly sure of what she did not like, but was perhaps more tentative and unsure in deciding what she did like. I say this was a hypothesis as at this stage in the counselling session I want to explore and tentatively construct an understanding of the client. I try to stay as open as possible, and will often form several hypotheses, some (sometimes many) of which will prove to be wrong.

As she continued with the exercise, she began spontaneously to provide a commentary on her decisions.  Once again the negative choices were more likely to accompany a commentary.

Interestingly perhaps half of her choices that she explained were based upon her responses to the imagery on the cards, rather than the written sentiment.  Furthermore her responses were often related to the aesthetics of the cards – the layout, the colour schemes, the juxtapositions – rather than the meaning conveyed by the imagery.

Once she had completed the task, I asked her about her choices, and decided to start with those that she had rejected, because she seemed more comfortable talking about these negatives.  This confirmed to me that she was operating from a heightened aesthetic sensitivity as she often described her responses in terms of her emotional responses to visual imagery.

This is in turn lead into a discussion of Art and it transpired that she had spontaneously enrolled in an Arts night school course, but had withdrawn after her parents criticised her choice as being “impractical”.

From this point she began to open up and told a story of dominant parents who had strongly encouraged her to study subjects that would lead her to working as a Personal Assistant – the same role her Mother had occupied for many years.  However she had no interest in this area, but was very interested in the Arts at school, and had done well in this subject in school until her parents had encouraged her to drop it.

It was at this time her interest in school began to wane, and she began to feel alienated from her parents and other friends who “did not understand” her.

Despite her apparent interests, she had not made the link between her interests and careers. Indeed she had been rather more preoccupied with the sense of rejection and alienation from those closest to her, and had not given much thought to how career choices may play a role in resolving the conflict and providing a viable outlet for her passion.

From this point on the counselling session was transformed as she opened up more, and became more trusting that she could express her interests in this area without fear of criticism or introduction of discussion of “practicalities” – a term apparently used often by her parents. This in turn lead to the development of plans and ideas about her finding ways of pursuing these interests and the sorts of courses that she might enrol in.

As this process continued, she developed sufficient confidence to explain her situation to her parents, who she found to be surprisingly supportive and agreeable.  Once they appreciated that her interests were soundly based and genuine, they had a new perspective from which to view her apparently “antagonistic” behaviour.

Purchase Signposts Cards

The cards can be purchased from Bright and Associates here

References

 

Amundson, N. (2009). Active Engagement. Ergon Publications. Richmond, BC.

Bloch, D. P., & Richmond, L. J. (Eds.). (1997). Connections between spirit & work in career development. Palo Alto, CA: Davies-Black.

Bolles, R. (2003). What color is your parachute.  Berkley, CA:  Ten Speed.

Bright, J. E. H., & Pryor, R. G. L. (2005). The chaos theory of careers: A user’s guide. Career Development Quarterly, 53(4), 291–305.

Bright, J.E.H. & Pryor, R.G.L.. (2008). Shiftwork: A Chaos Theory Of Careers Agenda For Change In Career Counselling. Australian Journal of Career Development. 17(3), 63-72

Bright, J.E.H., Pryor, R.G.L., Wilkenfeld, S and Earl, J. (2005).  Influence of social context on career decision-making. International Journal for Educational and Vocational Guidance, 5 (1),19 – 36

Johnston, G. (2000).  Aligning your work and purpose: Step out to an abundant life.  Melbourne, Vic:  Information Australia.

Kellert, S. (1993).  In the wake of chaos: Unpredictable order in dynamical systems.  Chicago, Ill: University of Chicago Press.

Lewin, K. (1951).  Field theory in social science; Selected theoretical papers. D. Cartwright (Ed.). New York, NY: Harper & Row

Morowitz H.J.  (2002). The emergence of everything: How the world became complex. New York: Oxford University Press.

Pryor, R. G. L., & Bright, J. E. H. (2003a). The chaos theory of careers. Australian Journal of Career Development, 12(2), 12–20.

Pryor, R. G. L. & Bright, J. E. H. (2003b). Order and chaos: a twenty-first century formulation of careers. Australian Journal of Psychology, 55(2), 121-128.

Pryor, R. G. L., & Bright J. E. H. (2004). ‘I had seen order and chaos but had thought they were different.’ Challenges of the Chaos Theory for Career Development. Australian Journal of Career Development, 13(3). 18–22.

Pryor, R. G. L., & Bright J. E. H. (2007). Applying chaos theory to careers: Attraction and attractors. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 71(3), 375–400.

Pryor, R. G. L., & Bright J. E. H. (2008). Archetypal narratives in career counselling: A chaos theory application. International Journal for Educational and Vocational Guidance, 8(2), 71–82.

Pryor and Bright 2011. The Chaos Theory of Careers. Routledge. New York.

Savickas, M.L. (1997). Fostering the spirit in career development. In D.Bloch & L. Richmond. (Eds). Connections between spirit & work in career development. Palo Alto, CA: Davies-Black.