The Legacy We Leave

big picture question, coaching, services
My father died fourteen years ago. He was 52 years old and died of a sudden, massive heart attack. Because he threw himself into both sensual and self-destructive pursuits with abandon, I had known that he wasn't going to be the next Methusela. But still, his death caught me off guard and, if I'm being honest, angered me. He wasn't going to get to be a grandfather; he wasn't going to be able to take advantage of the opportunity life was giving him to redeem himself as a parent to my half-sister; he wasn't going to be around for us to enjoy each other's company--and he brought it on himself (or so I said, inwardly). And, because I was pregnant with my second child when he died, I had no…
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Sparking Joy and “No”

big picture question, coaching
One of the questions I often ask in my capacity as coach is "what resonates with you?" That may be sort of woo-woo language, but it gets at something fundamental about feelings and desires, which, in turn can give us access to deep reserves of motivation and excitement around something. To have something resonate with you is different than "liking" something or approving of it or wanting to do it. Resonance comes, I believe, from your gut, your instinct and is an internal nod of the head of sorts that says, "oh, yes; that fits." When I think of the concept of resonance, I picture really clearly the room in which I took yoga classes during my first pregnancy. As I got bigger and bigger, I had to modify more…
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Taking Note

big picture question, productivity
That simple title, "Taking Note," could lead into a dozen different posts. I could write about my love of writing notes on books and lectures in longhand. Or about my obsession with high-quality French and Japanese paper goods. Or how I find writing with a fountain pen a superior writing experience in ALMOST all situations. Or about one of my favourite new podcasts, "Note to Self," and digital notes. But this is actually about taking note in terms of NOTICING. Because we can go through our hours and our days without taking much note of our surroundings, or what we're doing with our hands, or the words we use, or the emotional wake we leave behind, or myriad other things. Making a habit of taking note, of NOTICING, can be…
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Time and Money

big picture question, productivity
When I received my first tenure-track job offer, from a public land-grant university in the midwestern United States, I was a bit nonplussed with the salary offered. I had looked at the MLA's suggestions for salaries at various stages of the profession and suggested to my new department that they consider coming closer to that magic number. After they were done convulsing with laughter, they upped my starting salary by $500. Woo hoo. I was, as I frequently remind myself, young and foolish and didn't know the first thing about negotiation. Nor did I possess the smarts to talk to someone about how to go about negotiating a hiring package in the buyer's marketplace that is the foreign language job market in North America. But part of my problem then…
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Big Picture Question 3: Conducting a Self-Evaluation

big picture question, coaching
This week’s #bigpicture prompt gives us an opportunity to take last week’s prompt and change direction on it: How would I evaluate my own performance? Last week, we tried to look at ourselves through someone else’s eyes. This time around, I’m asking you to take the opportunity to think of how you would conduct an evaluation of yourself. Of course, in order to evaluate yourself, you need a yardstick, a job description. You can, of course, stick with the job description that came with your work contract. You’ll know whether you are engaged in the duties necessary to your position or working toward the goals set by your team or organization. But you can also expand on that and add to it the qualifications and criteria that are important to…
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Big Picture Question 2: What Do Others See?

big picture question
If I asked my colleagues, what would they say is my greatest strength? Today’s big picture question invites us to look at ourselves through someone else’s eyes. My guess is that you—all of us—have a pretty clear idea of what our weaknesses are, where we fall short of our goals, or what we haven’t crossed off our to-do lists. Being in touch with your weaknesses and focusing on them, even with the stated aim of working to overcome them, can have the perverse effect of magnifying those weaknesses, both for ourselves and others. So this week’s prompt and challenge is to step into a colleague’s shoes and examine who you are from the outside. Of course, this is an imperfect exercise, but I guarantee that, with a little thought, you…
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Big Picture Question 1: What Feeds My Soul?

big picture question
Starting this week, I am going to share weekly #BigPicture journal prompts here and on Twitter and Facebook. These prompts resemble the powerful questions my clients and I work with in coaching and are possible lenses through which to view your life and career anew. Please follow along and share with your friends. I'll share some of my thoughts here publicly; you are free do to so in brief here or entirely in your own secret, locked-away-from-prying-eyes diary. This week's #BigPicture Question: ​What is my #1-must-do goal? The one that will fulfill me and feed my soul? For me, this answer to this question can only occur to me when I am quiet and open. I don't think the answer to this question can be found on my to-do list,…
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