The Chaos of Big Transformations

Chaos theory
Chaos theory (Photo credit: anroir)

In the last twenty years, we all have become an expert at making rapid transformations in our lives and business.  Sometimes, we are made to feel less than if we don’t create big transformations quickly.  In the past, I have found myself doing work where I lead major transformational projects and have been considered a change agent, so I have some idea on how to get things done.

In my experience, no matter how much you plan a big transformation, there is always a part of it that is chaotic, especially if you are trying to do something more quickly than usual.  Of course, this makes sense, because if we were following standard protocol, we would take the normal amount of time and effort to do something.

I can’t say that the move to a new location for my family and business is particularly aggressive in it scheduling.  Yet, after 14 years of living in our home,  it’s hard to not have a chaotic element to what we are doing.  Right now, I’m taking a break from packing and getting the new house set and taking the time to check in here.

Have you ever had a big transformation where everything went smoothly without chaos?

The biggest transformations in my life always had times of chaos in the middle of them, whether they were personal or professional.  With the most important transformations, everything changes for the better after the chaos.

I can already see a new enchanted oasis emerging for my family.  My mother was awe-struck this morning with how lovely our backyard garden looks.  In our best transformations, after the dust settles we end up “living” in a better new place and way of life.

You may not be literally moving to a new home, but so many of us are moving through big transformations and dealing with the ensuing chaotic moments.  This is an important time to remember to remain aware of how we are showing up.  In chaotic times we need both rest and awareness to remain calm.

Daily Contemplation:

What is the smoothest big transformation that you’ve ever had in your life?

When you were exhausted and tired from a change that you are experiencing, and you know the chaos must continue for a bit longer, how did you stay kind to yourself and others?

Focus on Your Strengths as You Write

Every so often, it feels appropriate to talk about my experience as a consultant and how that might apply to writing.

Today, I’d like to share an idea that I first heard 6 years ago, when I was working for a non-profit that was part of the National Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP).  I was taking a class on executive coaching from a woman who had successfully coached hundreds of CEOs to become more innovative and profitable.

She surprised me by teaching us that manufacturing was suffering in America because its leaders focused too much on eliminating weaknesses and not enough on expanding strengths.  Focusing on weaknesses was leading manufacturers to become commodity creators and driving down costs.  A business that focused on expanding its unique strengths stood a much better chance at being innovative and more successful.  Think Apple and Steve Jobs!  Ever since that time, I’ve wondered about coaches who focus so much on weaknesses.

This same idea applies to any of us who wants to write for a living or as a passion.

This idea of knowing our strengths came up again in a recent Shero class where Jen Louden asked us to get 10 people to tell us our strengths.   I asked several people to do this for me, and got some unexpected answers like: you have a flair for fashion and you like shoes.  I hadn’t thought of my love of fun shoes as a strength! However, the best strength was this one by my ex-husband.  Yes, I asked him!  I’m one of those weird people who is better friends with my ex now that we’re not married.  Here’s what he shared:

Since they were young, I've taught my boys to enjoy trees too!

You also have the ability to see the bigger picture.  Some would call it “vision”.  Not all people have that gift.  I have some of that but I’m very task oriented.  I get the crap done, but you see what needs to be done – in a grand style.  This is also your downfall. You see the forest in spite of the trees because you climb atop of the trees to see the forest.  Every now and then you fall from the top of a tree.

Yet, the funny thing was that as I’ve been writing my novel, I have scenes scattered throughout my book where the main characters sit at the top of trees.  And of course, sometimes they fall from them!  Art does imitate life.

So, how does this apply to you?

This next week or so, find some people to tell you what is great about you and your writing.  Then, for the rest of your life focus on getting better at those things.  The weaknesses you’ll always have, and you’ll find a way around them.

To paraphrase ancient Greek wisdom, “Know Thy Strengths!”

Would you like to be a Writing Coach?

One of the big opportunities for writers in years to come is coaching others on what you know or have learned about writing to others.   If you’re a writer, and you haven’t considered coaching others, you might want to consider the possibility.

It is true that coaching other people to write can have it’s problems.  Coaching takes time away from your own writing, and can be a long, winding journey as you help someone else discover their voice and what they want to say in a book or piece of writing.  Also, coaching is different from teaching, in that it’s not your job to train someone else how to write, unless you’re paid to do that. 

You may ask, how can I become a writing coach?  Do you need an advanced degree or a teaching certificate or years and years of experience?  These help, but I don’t think so. The primary credential you need is that you can show someone else that you are a good writer and that you can help them start and finish a project more quickly and effectively than if they did it themselves.  This is not to be confused with being a ghost writer, where you do the writing.  As a coach, I do edit writing sometimes, but not the bulk of the writing.

In my case, I have experience of working a professional marketing and technical writer for ten years, writing my own books and several years of business coaching experience.   When I began coaching, I worked with people who knew I could help them create and refine the message they wanted to share.  Most importantly, my clients trusted me and knew that I was committed to helping them share their work in as big of a way as possible.

To me, the biggest benefit of being a writing coach, is that my coaching clients are my patrons.  Working as a writing coach allows me to have the lifestyle that I want with time to spend with my children and time to be a writer.  The biggest joy of being a coach is watching my clients write the book they wouldn’t have had the courage or discipline to write on their own.

Have you been a writing coach or found other innovative ways to support your writing lifestyle?