Monday, February 16, 2009

Recognize My Gifts and Delegate the Rest

I picked a card from a deck called Plant Seeds and Pick the Blooms - It said:

Recognize My Gifts and Delegate the Rest

We cannot be everything for everybody, nor should we try. Everyone is blessed with unique gifts. Recognize what you are good at, and don't judge yourself harshly for things you don't do well. Don't be afraid to seek help, or to delegate tasks and responsibilities to those who have more knowledge and skills than you in certain areas.

Action: Make a list of areas - business or personal - you need help with. Be it sorting out your finances or explaining the exercise machines at the gym, put alongside each the name of a colleague or friend who could help you. Then add how you can bring your personal gifts to that person's life to reciprocate.

Cassandra at

Monday, February 2, 2009

Asset-Based Language Challenge - Can you go 24 hours without saying the word "need"?

Up for a Challenge? Try this - give yourself and your colleagues the 24 hour challenge. Can you go 24 hours without saying the word need?

If you want to try something even more challenging try to go 24 hours without saying the words problem or barrier as well. See what happens. I tried it and found that I needed to dig for more precise or accurate words - and that I felt a lot better when I changed the language. So I extended it from a 24 hour challenge to an ongoing commitment.

Post your experience in a comment.

Cassandra at

Graphic Recording of Disturbing the Immunity to Change

This is a graphic recording done by a woman named Avril Orloff of a presentation on the material in Robert Keegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey's book How The Way We Talk Can Change the Way We Work: Seven Languages for Transformation.

This is a great book that I've written about in our February newsletter.

If you want to see more from Avril check out her website

Cassandra at

Words are 7 % of communication

Want to see a simple example of how communication through words is so challenging?

I asked a group last week to think of a chair. Then we went around the room and each person described the chair they thought of - look at this list:

a winged chair with arms
a wooden chair with arms
a chair with leather padding that is solid with no creaking
the chair I am sitting in
a plain straight backed chair
antique rocker with cushions
stress less - relax the back chair
two chairs - one cane backed and the other the kind in an ice cream parlor
two chairs - one straight backed and one a rocker
my favorite leather chair
a chair big enough for two
a leather chair with an ottoman
I see a chair that is in a bar that has a saddle on the top
an aeron ergonomic chair
an adirondack chair

So how might this inform our communications? Think about all the other terms we use that we assume everyone has the same meaning for. I've been working on a lot of strategic planning projects and it became clear after awhile that there are just as many different ideas of what strategic planning is as this list of chairs.

Examining our assumptions about what we mean by words that we are using - may help us realize how to communicate more clearly.

What's your chair? Post a comment.

Cassandra at

The Difference Between Adaptive and Technical Challenges

Can we distinguish between Technical and Adaptive Challenges? Heifetz & Linsky explain the difference and what it means for us. There is a great website that applies these ideas to creating adaptive leadership to create system change. I've reframed these in strengths based language. The primary difference is that:

* Technical Challenges- We know how to address these - they are mechanical, a technical approach works.

* Adaptive Challenges- Require learning and changing people’s hearts and minds. Most social issues are adaptive challenges.

For more go to:

Cassandra at

Conversation with Gregg Braden

This is a link to an article in Natural Awakenings Author of Fractal Time: The Secret of 2012 and a New World Age

Our Dream

Imagine you go to sleep and wake up in the year 2012. People are using their resources, and creating positive change through collaboration.

Money in the social sector is being well spent and creating high impact outcomes that are transforming the world. The corporate sector has adopted the triple bottom line – the driving forces for business are people, planet, and profit. People are using their strengths collectively, they are passionate about their work and the contributions they are making to create a collective shared vision of flourishing.

Young professionals can’t even believe that it was ever any different. They have heard stories about how all the effort and focus used to go into listing and describing what people, organizations, and communities didn’t have, what they lacked, and how this was call “needs assessments” or “gap analysis”.

They couldn’t believe that people would do this before developing ideas-- because this so narrowed the focus of inquiry and distorted the situation. They couldn’t imagine how so much money and time was spent developing expensive programs in the social sector which could only be funded with large amounts of new money. And they couldn’t understand why people would completely ignore all the resources, assets, and strengths of what did exist. They also couldn’t believe that people would measure prevalence of all the risk factors and make decisions about program funding based on these statistics without any consideration of what would have the greatest impact, what was sustainable, and what built on existing strengths.

There is a book that describes how it used to be and the cover says Deficits ARE History.

When told the story of how this shift came about, there were lots of little steps that combined to create a tipping point. Join us in discovering the gentle actions which lead to this shift.

Anything you want to add? Leave us a comment with your thoughts and additions. Thanks. Cassandra at