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  • Wednesday, February 28, 2018 12:21 PM | Kevin Smith

    Get off the Stage: Transitioning Away From Training Sage
    by Erin Lavery

    Real talk: I think I was first drawn to training because I liked being the person who delivered “ah-ha” moments to people and because I loved being the center of the classroom’s attention. It’s a gross thing to admit, but it’s true. My approach to design reflected my desire to be the “sage on the stage.” Long, carefully scripted anecdotal monologues both let the learner learn and filled my lifelong dream of writing and starring in a one-woman Broadway show. 

    My first training job was a department-level trainer onboarding new hires. So, I guess this approach to design wasn’t a bad one for the situation. A bit of entertainment goes a long way in helping people remember policy compliance. However, my next career step was as an organization-level leadership trainer. My classes were filled by leaders with experiences to share and who also wanted results and not just entertainment. Based on the audience and its needs, it was no longer the right approach to be the center of the learning experience. I knew deep down that something needed to change, but I wasn’t sure what it was or how to train any differently.

    When I read the theories of Howard Gardner, it was like a light bulb went off. Well, that’s a nice way to say it. It actually felt more like a brick hit me in the face when I read “While experts need to have some of this inert knowledge, classroom teachers need to know how to coach and encourage their students, so that students can gain various literacies, come to love knowledge, know how to learn, and know how to assess their own growth”. It was at that moment I first started to dip my toe into the world of Facilitative Learning.

    Facilitative Learning is an approach to adult learning design that believes learners learn best when they are deeply involved in their own learning through questioning, discovery, and real-world application. It can be risky as an approach, but it is also incredibly powerful.

    Making the design and facilitation transition to this new approach wasn’t easy for me. In fact, it was awkward and felt a bit like free falling at first. It took time and practice to get good at the approach. Facilitative Learning is not as simple as asking a discussion question here or there. There is real risk and it takes honed skill to successfully open up the flow of design and hand it over to the learner. What if they don’t talk? What if they don’t care? How do I direct the conversation toward the objectives? How do I redirect if they get way off topic? How do I balance scripted design and freedom? How do I ensure I have the appropriate level of challenge in application?

    That being said, it’s hard to describe the relief and freedom I felt when I let go of the need have “the answer” to any question. When I opened up my design to learner-centric exploration, I took the seat next to leaders as we struggled to find meaning together. Instead of trying to bring all the value, I was finding the ability to discover value together. The shift was incredible and the results were immediate. Classroom participation and engagement increased and the class was truly and fully transformatively learning together – myself included!

    I would challenge you to explore Facilitative Learning if you aren’t already. The rewards are well worth the effort. Coming up on March 15th, Jason Weber is sharing his success with Facilitative Learning in a session called “Creating Engaging Facilitative Learning”. I would highly encourage you to attend. Looking back, there were so many common pitfalls I could have avoided if I had been able to attend a session like Jason’s. I hope to see you there! I’d love to connect and chat about your design journey as well.

    Erin is a Quality Improvement Advisor focused on developing organization-wide training and improvement solutions for UW Health. She holds a Master of Science in Adult and Continuing Education Leadership through the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee as well as a Bachelor of Arts degree in German Literature and Pedagogy from Calvin College. In addition, Erin is a certified trainer for Development Dimensions International and Crucial Conversations as well as a certified Life Coach for students with disabilities. Erin currently serves as the VP of Marketing for the ATD-MAC. 

  • Friday, February 23, 2018 10:48 AM | Kevin Smith

    The Rise of Rise, and other Rapid Development Software

    By: Curt Klinkner

    ATD-MAC’s #VirtualBattleSeries continues as we fight through the great debates in the Learning and Development profession. This week, it’s the Great Tech Battle in Articulate vs. Captivate. We’ve explored the pros/cons of each with Kevin’s VLOG earlier in the month. Now, it’s time for me to weigh in on how I see Articulate pulling ahead with Rise. Don’t forget to weigh in on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook with #VirtualBattleSeries.

    I don’t know about you, but I’ve been pushed in the last five years or so to completely rethink how L&D “goes to market” with development solutions. I’m consistently being asked to move learning to a digital format to save costs.  Create solutions in days rather than weeks.  Cut one-day sessions in half, or better – less than two hours.  Oh!, and learner’s need to be able to view courses on their phone or tablet.  Sound familiar?

    So how do you achieve all this – digital, faster development, shorter learning and flexible delivery format?  The answer lies with Articulate Rise and other rapid development software. It’s one of the reasons that Articulate pulls ahead in the Articulate v. Captivate battle.

    Rise is just one of many apps that comes with an Articulate 360 subscription.  Rise is a web-based, fully responsive authoring app that makes it a cinch to create beautiful e-learning that’ll look perfect on any device.  It comes with a variety of prebuilt lesson outlines and the ability to create custom lessons.  Rise also makes it easy to incorporate the world of information that already exists on the internet.  Linking to videos, articles, other websites is done in just a few clicks.  Best of all, I learned how to use the tool within a few hours.  Check out this video for a Rise overview:

    Mobile Learning Development Done Right - Rise

    It’s obvious I’m a Rise fan, but don’t take my word for it.  Rise just happens to be the tool my organization gave me.  Do you own research and find a tool that works for you and fits your budget.  I guarantee a rapid development software will help you overcome the organizational challenges mentioned above, not to mention it will make you look like an L&D all-star.  

    Curt is the Lead Learning Programs Manager for QBE North America and has been with the organization since 2013. Prior to QBE, Curt spent 17 years with American Family Insurance mostly in the L&D space designing and delivering technical and leadership curricula.

  • Thursday, February 15, 2018 8:14 AM | Kevin Smith

    Virtual Battle Series: ADDIE vs SAM    

    by: Marc DeCarli

    Creating a learning experience is not easy. There are can be many risks, complexities, and constraints. L&D professionals have several learning design methodologies to choose from: ADDIE, SAM, Learner First, Agile, and Design Thinking. Which is best is hotly debated, and two that are most contested are ADDIE and SAM.

    ADDIE stands for analysis, design, develop, implement, evaluate. It was originally designed for creating instructor-led training, and is considered to be a traditional waterfall method. In other words, ADDIE is a process designed to move things forward in a sequential order. It has been the go-to methodology for novices and experienced instructional designers and learning project managers for years. It is easy to follow, very detailed with many possible tasks, but it can be overwhelming as a result. Opponents of ADDIE also consider its design its biggest flaw; do all of the analysis, then design, develop, implement, and evaluate.

    (Click on image to view larger.)

    Successive Approximation Model (SAM) was created and is used primarily for e-learning development. Created by Michael Allen, CEO of Allen Interactions, SAM is an iterative and collaborative process that provides L&D professionals the greatest opportunity to create the most effective learning experience possible within its constraints. Allen’s goal was to create a methodology that is a more agile, effective, and flexible process that challenges learning designs early and throughout.

    In contrast with ADDIE, SAM is not a linear process. It arguably focuses more on learning experiences, learner engagement, and learner motivation than content organization, presentation of information, and summarize post-tests. While traditional approaches such as ADDIE seek to ensure accuracy and completeness of content, SAM works to uncover engaging and interactive learning events. In order for these learning experiences to be effective, they need to be meaningful, memorable, and motivational. Otherwise known as the three Ms.

    (Click on image to view larger.)

    So, should ADDIE be thrown out with the bath water? Some L&D professionals say no, that right now ADDIE is still the easiest and most effective in certain circumstances. For instance, if you were asked to create a compliance training, a day-long instructor-led training or webinar, ADDIE can be very effective.

    On the other hand, SAM would be the more effective approach if you were asked to create an e-learning project (e.g., workshop for salespeople), with many stakeholders, is highly politicized, and everyone wants to be involved, where time is tight (i.e., six months) and cost is limited.

    While no process can address or overcome all the challenges that L&D professionals will face during an instructional design project, arguably, taking a more agile, interactive approach to design and focusing more on performance than on content can increase the chances of creating a brilliant learning experience. Both ADDIE and SAM have their pros and cons, as do other development methods. All of them provide a repeatable checklist that facilitates faster and quality development of learning events and experiences. But these methodologies can tempt you to follow them blindly. Learning development is a science and an art, and some tasks can be completed easily, while others require innovation and vision. Which ever approach you choose for your learning project, do not let it limit your flexibility.

    Marc DeCarli is an engaging talent development professional with wide-ranging experience in adult learning, facilitation, leadership, technology, and training development. He has 15+ years of experience developing and delivering training content to new and experienced employees, coaching, and leading teams in challenging and dynamic organizations.

  • Wednesday, February 07, 2018 3:47 PM | Kevin Smith

    Virtual Battle Series: DiSC vs MBTI

    by: Kimberly Bellefeuille

    As part of ATD-MAC’s #VirtualBattleSeries, we’re fighting through the great debates in the Learning and Development profession. One of the battles I always hear is which personality indicator is better: DiSC or MBTI. Let’s explore the primary differences between them and see if we can settle this debate once and for all.

    Both DISC and MBTI are assessment tools that provide insight into personality and behavior. Both are widely respected and used by individuals, organizations, institutions and corporations worldwide. Additionally, both are backed by decades of research and are their theories are scientifically sound. Like any personality profile, neither should be used as an aptitude assessment, a predictor of success in a particular job, a hiring tool, or a performance tool.

    So, what really is the difference between the two? Below is a basic overview of the differences.

    The truth is, declaring a clear winner is more difficult than it sounds. That’s because, a successful practitioner needs flexibility to use the right tool to achieve the best results. In fact, in my practice, I often move back and forth between the two based on the situation. When a client asks me to facilitate a session using a personality assessment, I always ask the following set of questions to determine whether DiSC or MBTI is the better fit:  

    • What is the objective/goal of the session?
    • What’s most important for participants to come away with?
    • Do participants want to understand how they think (MBTI) or how they act (DISC)?
    • How much time does the team have to invest? DISC can be understood and applied more quickly – the model is simpler to interpret and for a quick-hit teambuilding session, can do the job well.
    • Is this the first foray into self-awareness for this team or are they experienced with development tools? I have found MBTI is more useful for coaching, leadership development, and for addressing complex interpersonal issues.

    So, in the end, rather than declare a personal favorite, I’m going to say that the personality indicator should reflect the strategy and outcomes.

    Kimberly Bellefeuille has been involved in the Madison learning community for over 20 years. She is a certified administrator of Myers Briggs and a trained mediator. In addition to leading Professional Development at American Family, Kimberly designs and delivers a variety of training experiences related to unconscious bias, conflict resolution, team communication, change management, and strategic thinking. People describe her training sessions as high energy, relevant and engaging. 

  • Wednesday, January 31, 2018 3:41 PM | Kevin Smith

    We all have preferences in life. It’s no surprise that the Learning & Development field is full of preferences, too. In fact, Learning & Development professionals are famous for picking their camp and digging in. Captivate versus Articulate. MBTI Myers-Briggs versus DiSC Personality Types. ADDIE versus SAM. Build versus Buy. Vector Graphic versus Picture Image. Classroom versus Online. The list goes on and on.

    This month, ATD-MAC is sounding the battle cry. We’re duking out our favorite preferences and identifying clear winners in our Virtual Battle Series. It all starts with a VLOG with Kevin Smith and Mark Steiner. Mark is the leading guru on Captivate versus Articulate. They’ll be giving us the lowdown on the history of this notorious battle and what factors should influence a software debate.

    After this, we’ll have THREE BOUTS of competition. The Bout One will start on 2/7; it’s MBTI versus DiSC on the blog and we’ll be opening online debate using #VirtualBattleSeries. Throughout the week, join the debate and add your thoughts and preferences. We’ll put it all together and declare a clear winner before starting Bout Two. Bout Two will start on 2/14 with ADDIE versus SAM. Keep up your online chatter and defend your champion using #VirtualBattleSeries to share your experiences using either model. We’ll end with Bout Three in a Live Virtual Event showdown of Captivate versus Articulate with Mark Steiner – register today for the Live Virtual Event!

    Let the battle begin!

  • Tuesday, January 23, 2018 10:08 AM | Kevin Smith

    Member Spotlight

    We would like to welcome all of our new members and thank all of our returning members from Q4 of 2017 – see our Q4 Member Report below. We are excited to see you all at the ATD-MAC Annual Membership Meeting on January 25 from 2:00-4:00. Register today and hear all the things we’re planning for you in 2018. ATD-MAC is all about adding value to its members as we grow the profession together.

    Part of growing the profession together is having a chance to connect and brainstorm with professionals who are influencing the development field. Member Spotlight is one way that we introduce you to top influencers in the Madison learning community. In this quarter’s spotlight, we are honored to be able to feature Tamela (Tammy) Stafford. Tammy is a frequent participant in ATD-MAC’s monthly sessions and has shared her experience and expertise in leading the learning function forward. She is the Learning & Development Director for the Wisconsin Department of Employee Trust Funds.

    Meet Tammy Stafford

    I am excited to be a new member of ATD since October 2017. My position at Employee Trust Funds as Learning & Development Director began in July 2017. My overall 25 years of experience as a Customer Service Representative, Employment Specialist and Quality Assurance Trainer Team Lead has provided an eclectic background. I returned to school after 14 years to receive my associates, bachelor’s and a Masters in Adult Education and Counseling. My education and experience has helped me to design and deliver a variety of training programs conflict resolution, team communication, job preparation and customer service. I also spend time teaching human services and sociology courses at Upper Iowa University. My family is my greatest joy and I am very fortunate to have two younger brothers and their families and my two sons, Jake and Josh. My sons were recently married to amazing women, so I now have some girls in my family!

     In the last five years at my previous position I developed an onboarding program for new case managers for the W-2 and FSET programs for Wisconsin. My new position as Learning & Development Director is exciting because I am developing a new learning & development process which will track our training projects and bridge resources our business areas will be able to share. One of my favorite projects is a new onboarding program for our employees, contractors and consultants. This program will help our new employees to learn more about our agency and start them out on the right foot at ETF.

    As a life-long learner I have enjoyed the presentations and networking opportunities ATD has provided and look forward more opportunities in 2018.

  • Wednesday, January 10, 2018 3:50 PM | Kevin Smith

    Finding Value in 2018

    by Jenn Stangl

    “What’s your new year’s resolution?”  Not sure how many of you encountered the same question over the last few weeks, or how you responded.  Personally, I’ve never been a fan of resolutions.  A friend approached me with this question and I shared with her a quote I came across a few days prior.

    “Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.”

    This sparked a discussion about how we set such high expectations for ourselves.  We want to feel successful in so many areas of our lives (at work, at home, in relationships, etc.), and in turn, we tend to feel unsuccessful because we can’t meet every expectation.  But, if we look at the value we provide (to our families, friends, co-workers, organizations, etc.), it might elevate how we see ourselves.  We can remove the skewed perspective we may have of success and focus instead on the value we bring to our relationships and experiences.

    ATD-MAC’s 2018 focus is to provide you with value.  We want to give you applicable and enlightening experiences that support you in providing value in your lives.  Whether it is through attendance at our monthly events, volunteering with the chapter, or joining the board, we want to inspire you to find and provide value.

    Our January 25th, State of the Chapter will provide you with an overview of the chapter and some of our upcoming events.  We’ll have time to network, share stories, and information to start the new year off right! 

    To ensure you receive the full value of your membership, I encourage you to check your account (ATD-MAC and National if you are a power member) and make sure all your contact information is updated, including email and mailing address.

    Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have questions about the chapter, want to get involved, or are interested in connecting. 

    Jennifer Stangl is the Director of Professional Development at CUES. She also serves as the President of ATD-MAC.

  • Thursday, December 28, 2017 3:52 PM | Kevin Smith

    Managing a Newly Restructured Team

    by Marc DeCarli

    A while back my team was restructured with the goal of elevating our status within the organization and to better serve its needs. Before the restructure we were a team of trainers; after it, we were a group of people with different responsibilities and a whole new mission. We previously handled onboarding and ongoing development for our sales organization, and functioned as instructional and training designers, product and sales processes SMEs, coaches, sales support, you name it.

    The makeup of the team looks very different now. We still have one or two contributor roles, and most of the team members are Program Managers; Training and Development (me), Content and Assets, and Communications and Events. While each of our responsibilities is different, our mission as a Sales Enablement team is to be the conduit and catalyst to enable our sales organization to get sales done. If it sounds altruistic, it is. What mission statement isn't?

    With our mission statement as our guide, our challenge was to figure out how we stayed within the guard rails of program management and fulfill our mission. Since we added two new team members, we decided to do a team building workshop. We waited long enough so that the new team members had a lay of the land, but not too long where it would lose its effectiveness.

    We took a full-day away for team building and strategic planning. There were many excellent take-aways from that day. For starters, we walked away with a better understanding of each other’s strengths, experiences, and insight into how we think, solve problems, etc. Second, we established our bodies of work by program (i.e., training and development, content and assets, etc.). Not only did we identify the work, we clarified, prioritized, debated and then reprioritized all of it. In the end, we walked away with a clear and more prioritized body of work that we could start actioning right away. One of the most enlightening take-aways from that activity was seeing how each person’s role played a part in very different projects.

    To continue the momentum, it is critical that we continue to meet as a team. We established a three-tiers meeting structure. A formal team meeting every other week, a 15-20 minute huddle twice a week, and weekly one-on-ones. In our formal team meetings every other week, we share updates and discuss our top priority projects, regardless if they're in progress or still in planning. At our twice a week huddle, we meet informally for 15-20 minutes to update each other on what we're working on that week, ask questions to team members, and uncover barriers. And, for our once a week one-on-ones, the goal is primarily for the team member to talk through challenges, seek advice or coaching, get direction, feedback, really anything. Sometimes, this entails discussing things that were also discussed in the team meeting, but it allows the team member to gain more guidance and feedback on possible solutions that were discussed.

    For us, it was important to “own” the restructure. In order to be successful, we had to be mission-driven and take time to pattern and prioritize our work around that mission. By making sure we are all working toward the same goal and checking-in with each other often, we’ve been able to actualize our mission while also moving closer together as a team.

    Marc is an engaging talent development professional with wide-ranging experience in adult learning, facilitation, leadership, technology, and training development. He has 15+ years of experience developing and delivering training content to new and experienced employees, coaching, and leading teams in challenging and dynamic organizations.

    He currently works at Renaissance, a K-12 educational technology company, as the Program Manager, Training and Development for their sales organization. Marc holds an undergraduate degree in Organizational Behavior and Leadership from Edgewood College. Outside of work he enjoys spending time with his wife and two young boys, being outdoors, dabbling in photography, playing acoustic guitar, reading non-fiction, using technology, and watching sports.


  • Wednesday, December 20, 2017 12:22 PM | Kevin Smith

    December’s ATD-MAC theme is Authenticity. Today, Erin Lavery finishes her two-part series on her year-long journey to build Authenticity in her work and life. In Part One, Erin shared the commitments she made to better understand herself.  In this second part, Erin shares the 4 commitments she made to better understand others.

    A Year of Authenticity:

    What Happened When I Lost It and Tried Something New (Part 2 of 2)

    By Erin Lavery

    Last week, I told you about the crisis meeting that left me with the choice to either shut down or change up. I shared the 6 commitments I made to myself to try to something new. These were:

    1.     I will be curious first.

    2.     I will show up for today only.

    3.     I will believe I am worthy now.

    4.     I will right-size situations.

    5.     I will wait to act.

    6.     I will act from what I value and not what I fear.

    The commitments I had made started to change the way I interacted with and understood myself in my work. But, if I was going to avoid another crisis, I needed to change the way I interacted with and understood others in my work.

    As I started to navigate and change my view of myself, it started to have a profound impact on how I viewed others. Through the work of exploring and getting curious about what I was learning, I found a growing list of commitments on how I would interact in the world.

    Erin’s Commitments (Part 2):

    7.     I will speak up when I don’t know or understand something. Not only does this often clarify misunderstandings that lead to conflict, but it always puts me in the best position to always learn and master new skills. By admitting I don’t know, I have come to know more and gain more skills than I ever would have otherwise. That being said, it’s terrifying and every time I have to repeat Commitment #3 over and over again.
    8.     I will trust in the wisdom of crowds. In his awesome book The Wisdom of Crowds: Why the Many Are Smarter Than the Few and How Collective Wisdom Shapes Business, Economics, Societies and Nations, James Surowiecki not only wins the award for longest book title, but he also shares the Parable of the Ox. The parable tells the story of a county fair that had a challenge to guess the weight of an ox. None of the individual guessers got the right weight; however, when all the guesses were averaged together, the crowd as a whole came up with the right weight. The truth here is: when we work together, we get closer to the ideal. That is, collaboration always leads to better design and outcomes. Whenever I find myself holding something too tight or too close, I force myself to send it to someone else for review/input. Doing this keeps me honest about not allowing a project to become about MeMeMe (see Commitment #4), but it also leads to better ideas and innovations while opening me up to opportunities to learn from others.
    9.  I will assume the best intent. My first reaction to a comment or situation may be distrust or anxiety, but I make a conscious effort to amend my story of the person and assume they have the best intent. When this is extremely difficult, I default to the question a brilliant colleague of mine uses. “What if they are doing their best today?” What if the other person is doing their absolute best in the situation to communicate clearly, be authentic, and get good results? If I assumed that to be the case, how would I feel differently about their actions? Sometimes this mindset change takes me while, but that’s okay because of Commitment #5.
    10.  I will be authentic in my connection and communication. When I am hurt, angry, fearful, excited, grateful, or thankful, I will say so with respect and with the goal of connection. I will make the choice to choose connection, authenticity, and honesty over trying to protect an image of perfection. My challenge to myself is this: If I see an opportunity to make a connection or be vulnerable, I will take it even if it’s scary (see Commitment #6).

    So, it’s been almost a year.  Here’s what happened.

    I’m happier. I’m more creative. I’m more daring. I actually am more what I was trying to be before all of this started.

    Have I disappointed people? Probably. Do people know that I am messy and less than perfect? Yup. But, they also know that I’m going to keep trying and showing up every day no matter how many times I fall. They know that when they don’t know something, I won’t judge them. They know they can approach me. They know we can muddle our way through together, make mistakes, laugh at ourselves, and do more amazing things than we could if we weren’t being human together.

    I won’t tell you it gets easier. It doesn’t. It’s still horrible and uncomfortable and tiring and scary and courageous and brave and wholehearted. But, hey, according to Commitment #2, I only have to do it for today, right?

    Click here to download a free poster of Erin’s “10 Commitments to Something New”.

    Erin is a Learning & Development Specialist focused on Leadership Development at UW Health. She holds a Master of Science in Adult and Continuing Education Leadership through the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee as well as a Bachelor of Arts degree in German Literature and Pedagogy from Calvin College. In addition, Erin is a certified trainer for Development Dimensions International and Crucial Conversations as well as a certified Life Coach for students with disabilities. Erin currently serves as the VP of Marketing for the ATD-MAC. 

  • Wednesday, December 13, 2017 3:33 PM | Kevin Smith

    December’s ATD-MAC theme is Authenticity. In this two-part series, Erin Lavery shares how she went from crisis to a new normal on a year-long journey to build Authenticity in her work and life. In Part One, Erin focuses on the crisis and beginning the journey. She shares 6 of the 10 commitments she made to herself to find better relationships, results, and realness in her work.

    A Year of Authenticity:
    What Happened When I Lost It and Tried Something New (Part 1 of 2)

    by Erin Lavery

    One year ago, I sat in a meeting at work where everyone (myself included) dug in a bit too much and it got messy and uncomfortable. On a stress scale of 10, I was a 17, and I realized in that moment that I had to make a choice. Either I could make a conscious effort to radically change my approach to work, or I could dive head first into total and complete burnout.

    Let’s back up a bit and I’ll give you some history.

    I’m a chronic do-er. StrengthsFinder calls it an Achiever. I call it waking up every morning at zero and needing to earn my right to a ten out of ten (or higher, I mean, let’s not limit ourselves after all). Brene Brown calls it a “hustle for worthiness”.  I have lived my life firmly and totally believing the lie that my value is derived from my ability to be the best fill-in-the-blank [Best worker. Best designer. Best facilitator. Best wife. Best mother. Best friend. I have always operated under the assumption that if I was the best, I could hustle my way past Imposter Syndrome and into real worthiness. I imagined I would wake up one day and feel like I had finally earned it (respect, value, intelligence, you name it).

    So, back to the pivotal meeting.

     I was presenting a program design that I had put my whole self into. In my mind, this wasn’t just a program. It was the quintessential representation of my Best Self. It was the Thing that would catapult me to worthiness. As you can imagine, it didn’t go well.  People had questions, feedback, ideas, opinions . . . all those benign things that people have that make end products better.

    And. I. Lost. It. Inside.

    Every suggestion wasn’t a suggestion. It was a challenge to my ability … my knowledge … my worthiness to be at the table. And I believed it. I was left beat-up, broken, and raw.

    And here was the moment of choice: Either I shut down, or I change up.  I chose to change up.

    I started by making one commitment to myself. That commitment was “I will be curious first.” Instead of jumping in, diving in, hustling, clawing, and scraping it together, I decided I would only be curious. I adopted the phrase “I’m having a thought that X. I wonder why I’m having that thought.” And that is how it started. Every day, every time making the conscious choice to say onl“Hmmm…I’m having a thought that X. I wonder…”

    From curiosity, I dove into showing up. From showing up to worthiness. From worthiness to authenticity. And on and on. And every moment I make a choice for the following growing list of things.

    Erin’s Commitments (Part 1):

    1.     I will be curious first. Instead of judging or trying to change what I am thinking, I will get curious as to what I’m thinking/feeling and why. I will not try to change it. I will only be curious about it.

    2.     I will show up for today only. Every morning when I wake up, I wake up for that day and not all the others in the future. This commitment came when I decided to start running again. My immediate thought was “when am I going to do it? Should I wake up early every morning? Run after the kids go to bed? I have to plan this out.” And it turns out, I don’t. I just have to do it today.

    3.     I will believe I am worthy now. Brene Brown said it best when she wrote, “Worthy now. Not worthy if. Not worthy when. Worthy now.” When I’m at work, I will believe I am enough. When I am able to do this, I put down the burden of trying to prove myself and open myself to more creativity, productivity, and connection.

    4.     I will right-size situations. As I explained with my project last year, it was no longer just a project. It was indicative and representative of my whole ability as a professional. When I start to get that feeling of the bigness of something, it’s a red flag to me that I’m blowing it out of proportion. This always leads to heartache and disappointment. Instead, I make a conscious effort to right-size something back to what it really is (and isn’t). “This isn’t my Life’s Defining Moment. This is just a meeting.” “This isn’t my Intelligence. It’s just an idea.” 

    5.     I will wait to act. Just recently, a friend told me “The more chaotic things are, the more still I get.” When something happens and things feel chaotic, I am forcing myself to wait a day, an hour, sometimes just 10 minutes before I act. You won’t believe me until you start trying it, but you would be amazed at the number of great innovations that surface when you wait just 10 minutes to act, reflect, and get curious.

    6.     I will act from what I value and not what I fear. When it is finally time to act, I have made a commitment to choose the action that fulfills and restores what I value rather than simply avoids what I fear. This started with having to understand what I value and what I intend to build in the world with the time that I have.

    Join us next week for Part Two of “A Year of Authenticity” as Erin shares the 4 commitments she made to her team that led to more fulfillment in her work and better outcomes for her organization.

    Erin is a Learning & Development Specialist focused on Leadership Development at UW Health. She holds a Master of Science in Adult and Continuing Education Leadership through the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee as well as a Bachelor of Arts degree in German Literature and Pedagogy from Calvin College. In addition, Erin is a certified trainer for Development Dimensions International and Crucial Conversations as well as a certified Life Coach for students with disabilities. Erin currently serves as the VP of Marketing for the ATD-MAC. 

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