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We talk a lot about how reflection is key to becoming an authentic leader, and a fulfilled human being. Without a baseline, how do we know if we’re getting warmer or cooler on the journey? And wouldn’t it feel better to make a decision from a place of confidence? That you did the work – the reflection – to know it’s a good fit? (This is why we chose our next book chat book!) In this episode of the F5 Point of View, we outline ways to get started with reflection – prompts and practices – share stories of clients finding value and making bold moves as a result, and dive deeper into “the why” of it all. 👾🐶👾🐶 (We also get buzzed by a “drone” and Toby, the house dog, makes an appearance.) 👾🐶👾🐶...

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Kate Hadley Toftness is a Flank 5 Academy Collectivist alumna. Professionally, she is a lover of the arts, a writer, and a leader in grants and partnerships for art institutions. You can learn more about her on LinkedIn. When I was reflecting on my time with The Collective, in preparation for my final meeting and sharing any thoughts with the other members, I came up with three “themes” that summed up what I personally took away from the experience as strategies for being honest with yourself and moving forward with your goals: 1) Patience 2) Generosity  3) Intuition To elaborate on this a bit, I would say that each one of themes has an important caveat: 1) Patience (with Risk-taking) – Understand and accept that things take time. Enjoy slowing down to take things as they come without worrying so much about the future. Enjoy the present and actively cultivate attention to the present (that’s the yogi in me). That being said, you have to be willing to take risks in the midst of that patience! Be active, take steps, rock the boat, wake up! And then be patient with the results.   2) Generosity (with Honesty) – Imagine that all the energy you put into your work and your relationships with others (and to your own own growth), will all come back to you ten fold. Just try it out as if it were true. Depending on the results, maybe this will prove true. Encompass this spirit of generosity and recognize your own limits. Less so your limits of ability, more so your limits of time. Respect yourself to give yourself and loved ones the time you and they deserve. Respect others enough to commit to the things that you can do with excellence. Or let them know you what’s possible. Be honest.   3) Intuition (with Strategy) – Do you have a hunch about something you should be doing? Could be doing? Do you just know that you’re on the right track but can’t say why? Do you just know that something specific in your life needs to change? Pay attention to the things that, it turns out, you actually know. Yep, that thing that you know but haven’t done anything about. Or the thing you know but maybe don’t yet have the words to explain. Now that you know it, and you know that you know it, make a plan about how you will address that intuition now and when it creeps up from time to...

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Searching Wisely


Posted By on Sep 18, 2017

Kevin Agnew is a facilitator of The Collective as well as a professional career coach and an adjunct professor at Northwestern’s Pritzker School of Law.   We are all in a constant search. At times we are seeking a new direction – the courage to step away from our current path to chart a new course on a new road. At times we are seeking peace – the clarity that comes from reconciling our past choices with our present reality. We often seek balance – that over-used word meant to signal an attempt to realign priorities so that we can feel a sense of calm. And, when the going is good, we seek to ride that wave of fortune for as long as it will take us. We have a choice in how we search. Indeed, it is in how we search that defines much of who we are. Will that search be a solitary endeavor, walking alone amongst the peaks and valleys that come with any arduous journey? Or, will we be brave enough to invite others onto our path, sharing in both the struggles and the triumphs that come with any meaningful search? That choice will have profound ramifications for the shape of a journey. Many, if not most, walk their path alone. That solitude can be a shield, a protector against the embarrassment that comes from “failure” or feeling lost. Walking in isolation is also what we have been taught – to bear one’s own burdens without complaint or self-pity. But choosing this route has consequences. The cramped feeling of isolation, the fear, the diminution of joy that comes with walking alone. Choosing to confront life’s challenges alone also prevents you from engaging other journeys, and learning from the sights and sounds of roads you will not travel. At its core, choosing to engage the search by yourself is lonely. The colors are not as bright. There is another choice. That choice calls for an odd mix of bravery and vulnerability. It is the choice to invite others into your search – to form a tribe of seekers. To get their feedback, their support, their perspective as you make your way down your path. It is brave because its risks rejection. But it is much more than that. It is brave – and vulnerable – because it actually risks being known. It is being known in confusion – the cold fear that comes from not knowing where you are going. It is being known when you feel stuck – that bitter mix of inertia and fear. It is being known in regret – the cyclical thoughts that...

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You Don’t Know Your Brand


Posted By on Jul 18, 2017

Powerful brands make the world go ‘round – and what we think of as a powerful begins with how we define “power.” Is it the brand with the strongest social mission? The largest revenue? The most employee retention? It gets personal. Quick. This idea of powerful brands residing outside of the brand itself is an important part of the conversation we have when working with clients who are evaluating “the next thing” – and maybe the stuff of nightmares for marketers. A core belief of ours – one that we share with many – is that you CANNOT create your brand. That’s right – you can’t “make it happen” or “seize the day.” This time you can snooze and win.   In a way. After all, it is through a) consistency and b) others’ experience of you – that the truth of your brand is revealed, not just what you think it is or should be or used to be or could be. Just the truth. That’s a great place to start. We offered this dichotomy at a recent Crain’s Summer School session, part of the Crain’s Academy suite of leadership and career development offerings. And we asked the question, “What are you known for (consistently)?” It prompted some introspection – and some uncertainty. Is what I’m known for a good thing? Is what I’m known for accurate? Is what I’m known for what I want to be known for? And then what? Running an experiment on the brand called you is actually an easy lift; but it takes some guts. Our prescription: ask three or four people the simple question, “What am I known for (consistently)?” Remember to always consider the source – these are people that should have a sense of how you’ve shown up, over a period of time. You can even ask anonymously, or use one of “Start with Why” guru Simon Sinek’s templates. And, of course, now that you have the data – a.k.a. what you’re known for a.k.a. the role you are master of – you’re only halfway there. You’ve got to tell the story of your brand, and this part you can control. Sort of. Consider, then, sharing a branding Mad Libs with your chosen folk and pushing the conversation a little further to ask, “How do you see what I’m known for?” It could be sentence completion something like: “YOU are really good if I ever need ______ and the reason I know that is because _______.” OR “If I ever need ______ solved or have a question about _____, I call _______, and the reason I would is _________.” Make...

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Endings are Important


Posted By on May 24, 2017

There’s a lot of fear that comes with endings – when it’s time for you to move on, make a change, or show up in a new way. That fear is why we stay put, maybe too long. Or why we leave too soon: “Just get it over with.” Or maybe why we “ghost” – disappearing without really having to end; it’s so scary we avoid it. But endings are important: they prompt helpful questions (“How will I keep the momentum going?” or “How will I keep in touch with these people I’ve grown to care for?”). They mark a pivot point and an opportunity to take stock: of what we’ve learned, what we believe and, perhaps most importantly, what we’re committed to We evaluate who we care about, who is better left “as is” and what we’ll carry forward. After all time is finite, and energy is not. This question of, “How will I keep the momentum going?” comes up a lot as people leave The Collective. It’s not overstating to say the group is transformative. When people leave they are different than when they arrived. It’s no wonder, then, that leaving is a hard decision to make – how do you continue to transform without the support and push the group provides? In your own transition, you could just as easily ask, “How will I keep in touch with people I’m leaving?” or “How will I avoid slipping into ‘bad habits’ I’ve worked so hard to stamp out?” The fear makes sense, but it’s actually not a great motivator. The answer to all the “how?” above has a lot to do with first thinking about what fuels us. In other words, what motivates us. Seth Godin wrote an awesome blogpost this week that offers a list of fuel / motivators – and reminds us that we have the power to choose, whether we’re fueled by “big dreams” or “dissatisfaction,” it’s important to take note. As Seth says: “They [any motivator / fuel] all work. Some of them leave you wrecked, some create an environment of possibility and connection and joy. Up to you.” Endings prompt an awareness that we’re going to have to look inward for our fuel – intrinsic motivation –  as opposed to a group, or a role, or an individual. This is hard especially if we’ve worked in a traditional supervisor / employee setting where we “follow the leader.” But when it’s really up to us – to move on, make the change, show up in a new way – we get to choose to look within. Knowing it’s hard, unnatural and will take...

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Amanda Ryznar is a Flank 5 Academy Collectivist alumna and facilitator. Professionally, she is a digital marketing leader who is committed to the pursuit of conscious leadership for herself and others. You can learn more about her on LinkedIn. I have always expected a reward and I have always been willing to work for one. My theory has been that hard work = reward. My world was initially set up to support this theory. I liked the model and have continued to play it out most of my life. Hard work at school meant good grades. Good grades meant getting into a good college. Getting into a good college meant getting a good job. Getting a good job meant achieving financial stability, satisfaction, etc. You’ve heard this before. You may have done this. You may be doing it now. And, you aren’t wrong for doing it. I only know that it does not serve me, personally, to continue this way of thinking. I joined the Collective because I wanted to know my purpose. I thought that if I spent two hours a week in this group setting, and then more time thinking about it outside these meetings, that I would figure it out. In other words, if I just worked hard enough, the reward would come. The reward in this case was specific purpose with a specific role. That is not the reward that I received. And, I no longer think that the “reward” for my participation needed to be a purpose and an associated specific role. Mark Nepo in the Book of Awakening writes, “The closer we get to all being, the more synonymous the effort and its reward. The reward for uncovering the truth is the experience of an honest being. The reward for understanding is the peace of knowing. The reward for loving is being the carrier of love.” The reward is the experience that you have that is internal and intrinsic to you. It’s not an external acquisition – and viewing it as a set target with a set point in time can be extremely limiting. My rewards for participating in the Collective are many. I evaluated my role at work, my attitude towards work, the type of leader I wanted to be, and the dynamic that I was co-creating with my colleagues. It was not easy, but the reward was a clearer picture of how I wanted to view work and an acceptance that growth comes from the willingness to question and sit with challenges. People who I didn’t know, got to know me, and as a result encouraged me, believed in me, and supported...

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