ABCs to end 2015

Tomorrow marks the beginning of a new calendar year. The completion of one year naturally tends to make us a bit reflective of what has passed in the passing year and also gives us an opportunity to start anew with a fresh slate and renewed optimism for what can be in the year to come. Tomorrow I will post my Three Words for 2016 but first I wanted to leave us with three words to conclude 2015 and perhaps give you a chance to reflect and plan a bit. The three words that I leave you with to end 2015 are Awareness, Boundaries, and Commitment.


Many times when I have conducted training courses it has been as much about creating awareness as helping people learn new skills. It is easy to get caught up in the day-to-day and not stop and reflect on what we do, why we do it, and even who we are or want to be. I know that some people don't like taking assessments about themselves. They are often people who have a very fixed mindset and things are right or wrong; and they don't want to be judged wrong. And no matter how many times you assure them that no one else will see the results and that the assessment is simple to help them gain some personal awareness they bristle. But not me. I like taking a moment to see what results I get.

This year I participated in two such awareness exercises and found both of them useful, painless, and interesting. I will warn you up front that both sites do have paid offerings, and even for the free assessment you will have to "register" your name, but I think it was worth it. And for the second one, I have a limited number of codes for a free rapid report.

VIA Institute on Character

The first assessment I took was the VIA Survey of Positive Personality Traits. The premise behind taking this assessment is that you should play to your strengths, or as the website says: "Research tells us that individuals who use their character strengths lead happier, more satisfying lives. Only when you understand your unique character strengths can you begin to live a life that is engaging, exciting and rewarding to YOU." And hey, who doesn't want to be happier and more satisfied.
My results came back showing my top 5 traits, in order, were Honesty, Love of learning, Appreciation of Beauty & Excellence, Creativity, and Curiosity. Even if you don't take the survey, you may find it interesting to read descriptions of each of the traits here. This was useful to me because it has helped me focus some of my work a bit and validate that I am moving in a direction that is in alignment with traits that are meaningful and dominant in my personality. Again, it is a tool for reflection. I am not claiming it will solve all of your problems, but I think it was worth the short amount of time it took to answer a couple dozen questions.

How to Fascinate by Sally Hogshead

What is a little different about Sally Hogshead's How to Fascinate is that "Most personality assessments measure how you see the world. Only one measures how the world see YOU." As with many assessments, it identifies dominant and secondary traits from a list of 7 categories called "Advantages" and combines your top traits into an "Archetype" that explains how your personality is "fascinating." On this scale I was deemed to be a "Secret Weapon" because my primary advantages were Mystic and Innovation. Again, at the bare minimum there is that moment of reading the results and going, hey, I am pretty fascinating and you get that little ego boost. But dig in a little deeper with any of these assessments and you can do some serious self-awareness building.
OK, here's the cool deal. I have a code for the first 100 of you who want to be fascinating. You will get a free rapid report so you can get a feel for how fasciating you truly are.
1. Go to
2. Enter the JOY-REFLECT + your information
3. Click START NOW!


I was recently on a flight from New Orleans to Newark, NJ by way of Houston. The flight was delayed leaving New Orleans and I was anxious that I would not be able to make the connecting flight but then a lovely thing happened. I got on the aircraft and was greeted at the door by the flight attendant handing out flyers. When I got settled into my seat I read that I was on the last commercial flight for the captain since he was about to reach the mandatory retirement age for commercial pilots. Suddenly I relaxed a little and smiled and thought what a nice experience this could be. There was much singing and clapping and pictures of the captain with his family onboard including his adorable granddaughter. 

As we took the quick hop from New Orleans to Houston I snagged the picture above and started thinking about boundaries that are imposed on us. Some are not optional, like the pilot having to retire. That one is truly imposed on people by an outside agency, but there are many boundaries that we feel constrained by that are actually of our own creation, even if only subconsiously. Too often we let past experiences, real and perceived, to create boundaries that we dare not try to cross. In this way we are like fish. Yep fish, It's called the Pike Syndrome (no not Captain Pike of Star Trek).

Many years ago the zoologist Karl Mobius (not the Mobius of the famous Mobius strip) studies pike which are aggressive and not terribly attractive fish who normally gobble up minnows. But the experiment, a version of which you can watch below, showed that if a glass barrier were placed between the pike and the minnows the pike would learn not keep trying to eat the minnows even once the glass barrier were removed. Eventually the pike will starve even if surrounded by food. And so it can be with people too. OK, maybe they don't physically starve but they give up on dreams or they talk themselves out of trying new things or create all sorts of excuses about why they can't do this thing or that. Are you suffering from the Pike Syndrome?


So here we are at the last letter of our alphabet journey today. C is for commitment. Whether you are the type that creates resolutions for the new year or not, it is natural to use the new year as a boundary of sorts between the old and new, the past and the present, the missed opportunties and the possible opportunities of the future. It is natural to make plans for the coming year in some way. I encourage you to write something down. As I said at the start I will be writing tomorrow about my Three Words for 2016, following the lead of Chris Brogan

But we can't stop there. As Jean-Paul Sartre said: "Commitment is an act, not a word." We have to do more than talk the talk, we have to dig in and do the work. What will you commit too for the coming year? Will you commit to learn new things? Will you commit to making new connections both in the real world and the vast virtual webby world? Will you commit to exploring how your unique creativity can be manifested whether it is through the arts, cooking, writing, solving problems, fixing things, or simply thinking wonderfully new thoughts.

See ya on the other side of today!