The Interplay of Certainty and Flexibility

This quick pen on paper sketch from the other night got me thinking about the interplay of certainty and flexibility in life…

I love to draw both in an app on my iPad and on paper. In the app, nothing is permanent. Every line can be erased, every shape can be modified, and every colour can be changed in one quick tap.

That said, when I’m sketching in a sketchbook with ink, the stakes are much higher. Every line is permanent. I need to take more time, be more precise, and somehow integrate my “mistakes” into the drawing.

I think life is a little like this too… there are times when we have lots of room to maneuver – like in coaching sessions when I’m helping a client prepare for a difficult conversation. We test out different approaches, experiment, and play with multiple options and scenarios.

And similarly there are also times in life when the stakes are higher and every “line” counts – like in the actual conversation itself.

This doesn’t mean that we can’t be conscientious when the stakes are low… or that we can’t be flexible when they’re high. Recognizing the difference in contexts and how this might impact the way we approach things is what’s key here.

So I’m curious… what does this drawing metaphor evoke in you?

Internal Checks and Balances

When I feel overwhelmed by situations or decisions, I do a little self-coaching to help me tap into the wisdom of my head, heart, and gut:

Head: What are the facts? What cognitive biases may be at play for me?

Heart: What feelings does this situation evoke within me? What are those feelings trying to tell me?

Gut: What does my “Spidey-sense” say about this?

Alignment: What path forward would take into consideration what I’ve learned from my head, heart, and gut?

What questions help you get unstuck when you’re feeling overwhelmed?

Balancing Polarities in Difficult Conversations

We balance a lot of different polarities when we have difficult conversations.

Sometimes we need to focus on dialing up assertiveness, risk, and speaking up… but this doesn’t mean that we need to totally let go of empathy, safety and deep listening. We can do both.

These polarities may each be balanced differently at any given moment during a difficult conversation. The trick is to try and do this consciously instead of falling into our regular patterns by default.

What polarities do you balance during difficult conversations?

My Happy Place

I did the Sparktype test recently and it really hit the nail on the head when it comes to what type of work makes me come alive!

My primary Sparktype is the Maker – creation is my calling :) I’m most alive when I’m making things… whether it’s creating a workshop, preparing for an upcoming mediation, or making the drawing below… I absolutely love the creative process and get completely lost in it.

My shadow (secondary) Sparktype is the Maven – I love diving into a topic, industry or field and learning as much as I can about it… there is so much joy in this for me, but as my results accurately explained, this work is really in service of my primary Sparktype – i.e., love Iearning so that I can use what I learned to make something.

What puts you in your happy place?


She fantasized about the seeds

she’d plant for young women,

as she sat under the shade

of trees planted for her

by grandmothers near and far.