Personal Courage & Planning

We can’t control everything,
but we are in charge of our responses
and we can be flexible and prepared.

INTRODUCTION: A Self-Guided Workshop
We all need to feel a sense of courage and preparedness, regardless of what the coming year looks like. How can we make empowering choices and plans as we live in endlessly shifting realities? In this self-guided workshop you’ll be invited to reflect on your current reality, energy and goals for the coming months/year. We’ll do this through reflection and writing on the following topics: autonomy, collaboration, lessons-learned, your vision for the year, potential disruptions/adaptations, key people and where courage lives in your body.

Stina’s Territorial Acknowledgement:
I acknowledge that I write from the location of a non-Indigenous, cisgendered, white, lesbian woman living on the unsurrendered territories of the Syilx Okanagan Nation peoples. I acknowledge that they are the first and rightful inhabitants of the lands and waters that are now called the Okanagan Valley since the land was formed. I acknowledge that historical and ongoing colonization has devastated many Indigenous communities in what amounts to genocide. I also acknowledge the strength, resilience and wisdom of Syilx people and I am grateful to have been born on this beautiful land.

Once in a while it’s helpful to map out the context of our work. No person is an island, especially in the work we do, and it helps to “see the landscape” and the other people that influence our experience. We also have a ripple effect on others.

Take a few minutes to reflect and answer this question:
“In my work context, what am I able to plan/do with a high degree of autonomy?”Or  you could finish the sentence: “I have the power or control to…” List at least 5 or 6 different areas of your work or specific tasks, goals or duties you have the ability to accomplish on your own. The less autonomy you have to accomplish something, the more collaboration is required.
So – let’s map it out!

Activity: Reflect and write, answering the following questions:

  1. “What are the tasks, goals or duties I need to accomplish – in collaboration with others?” Things I can’t do on my own.
  2. Who do I need to collaborate with?” List folks associated with the tasks, goals or duties you wrote down.
  3. How do I best work with others? What do I need, to show up in a way I feel good about? How do I prefer to communicate or coordinate with my collaborators?

Bring it ON! Power Plan!

What’s the PLAN?! I’m not talking about what will someone else tell me is the plan – I’m asking – what is MY plan? What am I bringing? What are my goals? What choices do I have? Let’s explore that!

INFORMING MY PLAN: Lessons learned, building to adapt, and bringing my best

  • What have I learned in the past year that can inform this year?
  • What worked for me last year – what do I need/want to change?
  • What are the new and evolving dynamics I need to be aware of and track?
  • Where do I want to be in one year’s time?

What do I bring to my work?
What’s the attitude, the energy, the invisible (and sometimes visible) influence I have on my surroundings, my colleagues, my students?

  • On A Good Day: List all the attributes I’m bringing with me when I am at my best – when I’m ON and moving through the day like a BOSS. What helps me feel like that? What do I need in place to show up and move through the day adding good things to my surroundings, to relationships with my colleagues, students, community members? (Make a list!)
  • On a Sh*tty Day: List the worries, frustrations and real-world problems (hello pandemic/climate change) that weigh me down on a hard day. Let’s get it on the page to acknowledge it. Don’t get sucked down into it. We can be more aware and plan accordingly, having taken some of the energy of surprise out of a disruption or negative event.

We can begin to feel like a victim on those sh*tty days and lose our power, or exhaust ourselves worrying about those terrible days/events possibly happening.

BUT – there are ways to pull ourselves back up!

Think of the folks you interact with at work. OR – Go back to your collaboration activity and reflect on the people you interact with on a regular basis… We are going to think of those folks and ask: “Does this person bring (positive) energy INTO my life?” OR “Does this person require more energy OUT from me?”

So – who are the people we gain strength or energy from, in this time? Who are the folks at work who lift me up – who help me see beyond the moment or who I can count on?
Who adds something positive to my experience? (List who they are and what they add – in a few words)

Who are the folks who require extra energy from me?
Can we offer encouragement or support in ways that don’t deplete us?
Can we set healthy boundaries to know when to say “no” to something that drags us down?
Which of our colleagues are likely to be adjusting to added levels of stress or “curve-balls”? (List who they are and what I might want to be mindful of – in a few words)

Reflecting on Next Steps

Visualize yourself walking back into your place of work after this reflective work (even if that’s your kitchen table office)… What (in a best-case-scenario) do you want to be feeling? What are your hopes? What is giving you a sense of power and courage? Where does that sense of power live in your body?

In Closing
Take a moment to appreciate yourself for taking the time to focus on what you need to show up in your power and feel prepared. This is important work!!

(Optional) Activity:

One way to take back our power is to differentiate between what we HAVE to do, and what we CHOOSE to do – thus enacting our willpower and having some control of how we choose to do what we have to do.
(See optional activity below)

Referring to your handout – or on a blank page – the left half the page at the top will be titled: “I HAVE to:”

On the right side of the divided page write: “I CHOOSE to”:

  • Brainstorm all the things you are committed to, obligated to or must do on the HAVE to side. (The power in the relationship is EXternal)
  • How many are you actually excited about doing?
  • Which ones do you REALLY NOT WANT TO DO? Underline those.
  • Of the ones you dislike, are there any you can (give yourself permission to) DROP? Can you delegate or hand it off? Can you stop doing it?
  • Can you CHOOSE to do something you dislike in a way that gives you back your power? Can you bring a “get’er done!” caring or rebellious attitude to it? Can you be amused by it? Can you make it temporary?

Now see if you can write or add a number of things on the “I CHOOSE to” to side.
This is about how you use your power to act. What do you CHOOSE? (The power in the relationship is INternal) It’s about what you decide, what you bring – your goals, your intentions, your attitude, you – creating your life.

Choice gives you power.

  • SO – If you have more items on the “I HAVE to” side, than the “I CHOOSE to” side, this is a signal that you will need more resources, or you will need to make changes to maintain your sense of wellbeing and resilience. The “I HAVE to” items can empower you – but only if you’re able to add your will to them (vs feel like a victim or like the power to make you do something is external)
  • For example: “I HAVE to go back to work…” can be: “I CHOOSE to go back with measures in place that help me feel safe and resourced.”

About your Coach:
Stina Brown (she/her) is an accomplished meeting and retreat designer, facilitator, visual practitioner/recorder, trainer, coach and consultant. She is especially passionate about projects with a focus on equity, well-being and systems change. She has an extensive background in group, team and organizational culture and development, strategic planning, visioning, skills training and visual and systems theory and design. For more information or to book a chat with Stina reach her here:
E: stina at stinabrown dot com

Stina’s Approach
I respect the culture, rights, and autonomy of the group and the individuals.
I strive to engender an environment of equity, respect and resourcefulness where all participants trust that they can speak freely and where individual boundaries are honoured.

July Workshop (self-guided)
If you would prefer to walk yourself through the process (not on our July 14th Zoom call) – this page will equip you with everything you need, as will the Agenda below. Feel free to download the handout to jot some notes as you go or write in your journal.

Workshop Agenda…

We will start with a reflection:
What helps you relax and/or re-charge?
(List as many things as you can, and note which ones are the most restorative or energizing)

Current Reality Check-in:
From the past few months – and now,
What’s easy/hard about this new reality?
(Divide the page in half – one side “Easy”, one side “Hard”) Notice which side is easier to list – and dig deep to go below the normal noise.)

Future Reality Check:
When I think about the rest of the summer and on to September,
What am I afraid of – looking forward? 

  • What keeps me up at night?
  • What do I rebel against or fight with in my mind?
  • What steals my energy/joy/inspiration?

What do I want things to look like in September?
How could this new reality create positive changes in my teaching experience – in my child’s experience, or in my experience as an administrator?

Reflection Question:
How do I care for myself, or what brings me a sense of well-being and, how do I sustain that sense of well-being?
* Use reflecting on and answering this question to set you up for the following questions – don’t skip this step. We each need to know how we provide resources for ourselves, to be full and ready for what lies ahead. If we discover we have few ideas in this area – it might be encouragement to really build this reservoir of energy and practices UP, to provide us added strength and adaptability as this pandemic season wears on.

What do I really need?
(*Reflect and answer above question before proceeding…)
What MUST be in place for me to feel safe/well/equipped to navigate this new reality we are in?
What are my MUST HAVES?

  • How do I be resilient when I don’t get what we need?
  • How do I become an athlete of this new lifestyle filled with uncertainty and interruption?
  • How can I surrender to the moment and still keep MY POWER?

In Closing
Take a moment to appreciate yourself for taking the time to focus on what helps you take care of yourself and be resilient. This is important work!! Go back over your notes in the coming weeks to see if your thoughts evolve. Nobody knows the future – but as we enter each season eyes-wide-open, we can feel more resilient and up for the challenges, whatever they are!

“Eventually we realize that not knowing what to do is just as real and just as useful as knowing what to do. Not knowing stops us from taking false directions. Not knowing what to do, we start to pay real attention. Just as people lost in the wilderness, on a cliff face or in a blizzard pay attention with a kind of acuity that they would not have if they thought they knew where they were. Why? Because for those who are really lost, their life depends on paying real attention. If you think you know where you are, you stop looking.” ~ David Whyte (2009). “The Three Marriages: Reimagining Work, Self and Relationship”, p.88, Penguin



Trust. Clarity. Artistry.

%d bloggers like this: