As 2022 begins, we are sharing ideas and concepts that changed us in 2021. Our focus for 2021 was seeking joy anywhere where we could find it, and this top 10 list delivered. Each idea or concept brought joy to a moment, changed a point of view, moved us spiritually, challenged us physically, or helped us live from a place of acceptance and compassion. We hope they will do the same for you.
1. Trust your gut
Karen was introduced to the excellent Your Body is Your Brain by a classmate from her Georgetown coaching class. In it, we found concepts that connect with all our coaching practices. Feelings and emotions don’t just live in our minds; science is finding that cells that interpret emotions are located all over the human body. What is described as a “gut feeling”… is actually from your gut! Often, your body knows how you are feeling before your brain does. Your body is sending you information up your spine, into your brain, and all the way to the prefrontal cortex (the rational thinking section of the brain) near your forehead. Your brain is the last part of the body to find out how you are feeling. In some ways, it’s the most clueless part of your body! An easy way to tap into Blake’s work is to stop for a moment, feel your feet on the ground below you, and do a full-body scan. Focus your attention on your toes; how are you feeling? Move into the bones of your feet; how are you feeling? Now your ankles, legs, thighs, etc until you reach the crown of your head. What can your body tell you that your brain didn’t know?
2. Lean into it and Relax
During our podcast interview with Good Life Practices author Dave Mochel, we discussed his approach to embracing and working with change rather than resisting it. Dave embraces the discomfort and discombobulation that comes with change. He likens it to taking a cold shower or swimming in cold water (which he does every day, btw): you know it’s going to be cold, so instead of shivering and bracing yourself against it, lean into it and relax. Soon, the cold won’t feel so cold anymore. We couldn’t help but compare Dave’s philosophy on change to the record-breaking number of Americans who quit their jobs in 2021. There are many, many factors that lead to people leaving their jobs, but studies suggest that embracing the change the pandemic has brought to all of our lives has led many to see where their job is or isn’t benefiting their lives anymore. When does work change from a purpose or a passion, into shivering and teeth chattering in freezing cold water? Where are there other places in our work and personal lives we need to lean into the experience of what is?
3. Post-its in the virtual world
When we first realized that working virtually would be a new normal we knew we needed to pivot from post-it notes and “Mr. Smelly” markers. How could we recreate the experience of standing shoulder to shoulder together in a Zoom room? How could we help people have a fun collaborative work session without a flip chart or team-building activities? Because sometimes the cosmos sends just what you need, as the pandemic began, Julie launched her virtual facilitation business, leveraging her 7 years of experience as an internal virtual facilitator and change acceleration coach at her previous employer. We were thrilled when she joined forces with the TWC team! She brought us into the “Miro-verse”, a virtual real-time collaboration tool. We’ve found Miro to be so effective, we’ve begun using it for in-person and hybrid workshops and meetings. We love reading their blog for inspiration, like this article about virtual icebreakers.
4. HIIT, AMRAP, and EMOM
One of the gifts of the pandemic is a renewed focus on overall body strength. Many of us started doing strength training, some of it in person, some in group classes, some over Zoom. A year ago, we didn’t know the difference between a hang clean and a press, and EMOM sounded like an electronic dance group. Now we’re planking, HIITing, and squatting with the best of them. It’s been fun to embrace a new way to practice being healthy, connecting with others, and learning something new virtually. And, did we mention being strong?
5. Continuing to unlearn.
One of the most enlightening, and humbling, outcomes of 2020 was understanding privilege as a barrier and realizing at a new level our journey of anti-racism. In 2021 we began to more intentionally look for how we can operate in a way that is the most inclusive and equitable for our clients and community. We are re-evaluating the tools we bring into meetings and asking ourselves what unconscious biases may be present. We are also working to evaluate our privilege daily, and unlearning habits and old lessons. One realization for us was the value of paying for anti-racism content and supporting black educators such as Rachel Cargle. This is a journey with no end destination, and to which we will be committed, always.
6. Be a Goldfish
We were charmed by Ted Lasso the Emmy-winning comedy in 2021. The sympatico themes of coaching, teams, collaboration, and kindness are a natural fit for The Wunderlin Company. It helps that the show is laugh-out-loud funny! We all binged season 1 and devoured season 2 as episodes were released weekly. We find ourselves offering each other and our clients pearls of Lasso wisdom: “Be a goldfish.”
7. Explore our own backyard
Many of the TWC team took at least one cross-country road trip, picked up camping, or explored a new-to-them US city in 2021. It changed how we looked at spending our R&R and what was available to us. Karen checked off seeing the Grand Canyon, Bryce, and Zion from her bucket list, and hiked through ancient pueblo canyons in Colorado, all from the comfort of a camper van. Christy spent Thanksgiving on a working dairy farm in central Kentucky. Michelle returned to the Rockies and Montana after two summers away and it was restorative in a way that is almost inexplicable. Floating rivers for entire days and engaging with fellow travelers over small dinners at the lodge brought her fully present into the pure joy of being human. It was an authentic experience of collective effervescence—-something much missed and never again taken for granted. Just like Dorothy says at the end of Wizard of Oz, “…if I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own backyard.”
8. Accompanying Others
La Casita Center”s mission is to enhance the well-being of Louisville’s LatinX community through education, empowerment, advocacy, and wellness. La Casita Center works intentionally to build a thriving community based on mutual support and respect. We were particularly struck by how Executive Director Karina Barillas describes the work they do as “accompaniment” rather than charity. Their agreements to “Faithfully and confidentially honor the stories of others”, “Judge neither myself nor those around me”, “Mutually support and respect one another” and “Ask, rather than assume” provide such a valuable model for partnering with others. It’s not charity, it’s not philanthropy, it’s accompanying. This new model changed the way we think about supporting others in our work, community, friendships, and families.
9. Start with the Purpose
Priya Parker’s excellent The Art of Gathering on making gatherings more impactful and meaningful came into our orbit in 2020 and made its power felt in 2021. Parker focuses on gatherings of all sizes and purposes: work conferences, cocktail parties, stand-up meetings, weddings…they’re all gatherings that merit thought, structure, and planning. In her own words: “Gathering matters because it is through each other that we figure out what we believe.” What powerful context to apply to your next board meeting or book club! Her writing now influences the way we plan sessions with our clients and the content of our workshops. It even helped Julie and her new husband make decisions for their wedding in September.
10. “+ 10 empathy/ – 10 judgment.”
Some of us have an approach that crystallized in late 2021 and is a personal and professional focus for 2022: “+ 10 empathy/ – 10 judgment.” We don’t need to take up your time talking about why empathy has been crucial this year and going into the year ahead. And how much better off would we all be if we spent less time judging others? Everyone has had their own version of a time when slowing down, releasing judgment, and applying empathy have served them well. We are thinking about putting our judgments in the back seat and our openness to others’ opinions and experiences in the front seat. It’s a challenge, practice, and something that can be downright impossible at times– but we hope and believe it will pay off!
As we shift our focus into the new year, we will continue to seek joy and focus on +10 empathy/-10 judgment. We wish you the space and openness to do the same in your personal and professional life. And why not start by listening to Season Three of Changing Times our podcast,? The upcoming season will focus on teams; how to create effective ones, how to collaborate with others, how to cultivate teamwork, and how to best learn from the people with whom we work. We hope you’ll join us, and have a fantastic 2022!