my Personal Values

I have always liked the work of Jim Collins. On a recent podcast, he talked about personal values. So, of course, he had my complete attention! He talked about pushing yourself hard to determine your values, asking if someone had observed you over the last year, what would they say were your values?

One of my personal core values is creativity. I found my way to understanding how important this value was to me when I least expected it.

My husband and I have twin boys, and when they were first born, it was a little overwhelming – ok, a lot overwhelming! My parents came out to stay with us, and when they walked through the door, they knew! The dark circles under our eyes were one giveaway, the glazed expression another. We were exhausted! Our happy bouncing baby boys were anything but exhausted. Within 5 minutes, my dad said, “Jan, you and I will take the night shift, and Mom will take the day shift.” They were baby people! Both of them could soothe a crying baby innately.

One afternoon while I was resting, my Mom was getting busy. First, she labelled and alphabetized our spices (that is another great story.) She also found my creative nook. Since the boys had arrived, it hardly resembled a creative nook, more like a dumping ground for all kinds of paraphernalia. She found some of my unfinished sketches, random art supplies, and ideas scribbled on scrap paper. She organized the whole area so that it was fresh and ready for creating.

When I woke up, she said, “your Dad and I are taking the boys for a walk. You take some time for yourself and wander over to your desk.” Mothering was wonderful and yet all-consuming. I thought I would never have time for creative endeavours again. I was sure that side of my brain was asleep! I drifted over and started to dabble. As I connected with my creative self, I realized what my Mom knew long before I did that being able to create is essential to my being (my Mom and I happened to share that value).

Since then, I have always respected and nourished this value within myself. I need space and time to create and imagine in order to optimize my best self. This is when I am most aligned and do my best work. It connects me to my center, grounding me. From there, anything seems possible.

For me, the creative process challenges me to drive invention, discovery, and curiosity. It is also at this junction where I have had spectacular successes and failures, often in equal measure and sometimes at the same time (many future blogs worthy of these examples so stay tuned)!

As purpose-driven leaders, we need to know our own core values. Our values will inform our purpose, and when we are aligned, we will have the impact on the world we know we can. Living and leading from our values is our most effective and effortless way to put our own unique stamp on the world.

It sounds easy, but the process can be challenging. Capturing your core values and finding a way to live by them is worth the effort.

And we are here for it!

If you are ready to put your purpose and values into words and action, The Story Co.’s Leaders Journey to Purpose might be just the course for you.

Interested? Email us at janet@thestoryco.ca, and let’s create your path to purpose.

Do Something Unscalable

What can you do for one of your customers that is completely unscalable? I know the buzzword right now is scalable, not unscalable, but stick with me for a minute.

Think of the one gesture, which immediately has you and your team saying “Well, we can’t do that for everyone!”

Think show stopping, I can’t believe it, outrageous, kind, thoughtful, out-of-the-box, hilarious, unexpected, empathic, differentiating, unforgettable, and purpose driven.

What can you package up, send over, create, do (covid friendly mariachi band serenades are on the table here) to delight and surprise (in a good way) your customer.

Yup, it is so outrageous you can’t do it every day, that is the beauty of it!

I am convinced this unscalable action will become a scalable story.

I am sending one out the door today…I wonder where it will land 🙂

I can’t wait to hear what you come up with!

Kind Acts, the value of Constraints and the Art of Propelling Questions

I have a beautiful, big, journal that I bought at the most amazing store called Paper Umbrella.  It’s a local store filled with so many treasures!!! I am inspired every time I go into the shop, not just because they have such an irresistible array of paper goods, sassy cards, and drool-worthy pens, but because the owners Theresa and Brad provide an experience that always lifts my day. They understand community in the purest sense.

All through the pandemic they have held imaginative and kind activities. One of my favourites was “letter love” where they encouraged us to write a letter to a senior in a care home. Brad and Theresa would deliver them to various homes and the notes would find their way to those who needed to know they were being thought of.

When we couldn’t go in their store we could order and have curbside pick-up. Our paper bags always adorned with a personalized note splashed with beautiful calligraphy.

Then there was the “daily dose” a five-minute video every day on something you could craft yourself and you could count on it like clockwork. They showed up to cheer us on and cheer up others. I won’t ever forget that.

Back to my journal….

I keep all my notes for blogging in this journal.  It’s a fab “evening azure ocean blue colour” (Can you tell that I always wished I had a job where I could name colours and paint!)  There is something about being able to sketch out a blog on paper first that appeals to me, and then I translate that using a keyboard.

But today my tried-and-true system is unavailable. I’ve broken my right wrist, so the keyboard and the journal will be getting dusty for the next little while.  This is my very first voice-dictated blog.

I feel a bit like I’m flapping in the wind, in freefall gripping the armchair with my one good hand, reaching out for something that is familiar.

Then again it is 2020! Working within a constraint has become familiar! A broken wrist? No problem just another constraint!

Constraints have been shown to lead to better practises, to the transformation of businesses, and the invention of vaccines! (Which last year we never even knew we needed.)

I admire so deeply the many businesses who have had to change their business model on a dime, and be nimble enough to respond to even the most remote opportunity to rewrite what is possible. These businesses chose to believe in a narrative that taking small steps forward would pay off.

I recently had the opportunity to interview Aimee Schulhauser, owner of two restaurants (Tangerine, Slice), a cooking school (Schoolhause Culinary Arts) and a catering business (Evolution Catering). Infact she opened a new restaurant right at the start of the pandemic! As you can imagine she has been hard hit.

“The fact that we are so nimble really paid off for us”, says Amy. “We were able to respond very quickly to the needs of not only our customer but our community. When we could no longer seat people in our restaurant we thought about how we might be able to help. At that time many grocery items were hard to come by. We opened up a mini-grocery with items like flour and yeast and some fresh fruit. We expanded our takeout with what our customers wanted, which was not our trademark salads. They were looking for mac & cheese and meatloaf! We became very determined to just keep showing up however we were needed.”

We are not in control of the constraints put upon us by this pandemic, but we can control the ambition and inventiveness it can generate in ourselves and in our business. Despite this, not every business story or personal story will end well.  That reality hurts our collective hearts.

So how do we move forward?

I think the first step is accepting the constraint, changing our mindset to remove some of our traditional ways of solving problems, and asking new questions. 

The type of questions you ask yourself can change your direction. Try asking yourself propelling questions. A propelling question is defined by linking together a bold ambition and a considerable constraint. It is a hopeful question challenging us to find the right idea. The practice of asking propelling questions can be used at all levels of business.

Some examples include:

How can I maintain relationships with our customers when our business is closed?

How can we expand our business when we don’t have an advertising budget?

How can I elevate the customer experience and reduce my expenses?

How can we prevent layoffs when our sales have slid?

Asking propelling questions will introduce tension and discomfort and make us examine what we thought we knew. I believe it will also propel us to new solutions.

Like voice dictating a blog. 🙂

 

*this blog is not endorsed or sponsored it is simply an opportunity to cheer on purpose driven brands

why is it dangerous to play it safe right now?

Don’t wait for normal to return, it is not coming back.

Take chances now.

Playing it safe right now is too dangerous a strategy.

If you are trying to play it safe you are missing a significant opportunity to stand out. And you need to stand out!

I gave this advice at an event this spring at the dawn of Covid. And about a month later one of the participants messaged me to say that she took my advice. She said, “I quit my job and started the journey that I always wanted to take, but hadn’t really had the courage to do it.” Now was the time.

Now is the time to invest in yourself, relying on yourself as your most valuable asset.

Understanding who you are, being able to articulate your purpose, and how you can use your genius work to help others; this is your portable equity and it is worth gold!

It is easy to lose ourselves right now, and yet the opportunity to find ourselves is the one we need to say yes to.

If you are ready to invest in your portable equity and declare your purpose we can help!

New Normal

The more we talk of the “new normal” the longer we stay tethered to the past.

And let’s face it; the past was not perfect, even though right now we are idolizing it. We did not have it all right then, the economy was still difficult, and we have never been able to go back in time, so why wish to go back now? Obsessing about the past is a lot of backwards energy.

But we are craving something. (Which often includes many trips to the fridge, hmm salty or sweet? 🙂

We are aching for something that will act as our rudder to steer us as we move forward and as we move our business forward.

That rudder is your purpose, both your personal purpose and your corporate purpose.

Dominic Houlder, professor of strategic and entrepreneurial management at London Business School put it bluntly and succinctly:

As business and organizations face stronger crosswinds, purpose becomes even more important, not less so. That’s because the “what” and the “how” of business is changing more frequently in a volatile world. This leaves the purpose, the “why” as the primary compass for navigating key decisions.

There is no shortcut, no magic wand, to wave us through this pandemic, but if we do the hard work and get clear on our purpose and then put our purpose to work, we will have the type of impact we imagined.

Keep going.

P.S. If you would like to get clear on your personal or corporate purpose so that you can have the impact you are looking for, set up a time to call me by clicking below.

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