The strength of sisterhood…

I hadn’t really thought of “sisterhood” as a strength until very recently. However, I have absolutely no doubt it is now. Quick story as to why.

I wrote a column about my experience with postpartum depression (PDD) for the monthly column I write for a local paper. The experience of having PDD taught me a lot about myself, most importantly courage - how I got through it, acknowledged it, talked about it and most recently wrote about it publicly. Although some initial reaction was jaded (ignorant comments to my column), overall the response was amazing. Other women found their courage to share their story with me one-on-one, most for the first time ever, that they too had suffered with PDD. Some wanted to find a voice for their experience, and weren’t sure how (writing newspapers columns isn’t for everyone!)

So, what to do? Turn to like-minded sisters to explore possibilities.

Fast forward a few weeks. Met with some amazing women who have begun a postpartum depression support line in my community available to women across Ontario. It was a gap, and their charity was bound and determined to fill it, despite an uphill battle. Again, enter stage left courage.

What if we invited other women to share their stories with PDD too? How might it help them through their experience or in their recovery process? Might it bring some sense of peace during the experience or closure to a very difficult time in their lives? Could we use the proceeds of this book to fund this support line to ensure women going through PDD will have this important resource for years to come? Unanimous yes, yes, yes around the table. Next steps? Rally the sisters.

The sisterhood grows.

PPD Book Editorial Team Kim McArthur, Tracy Woodford, Sarah McVanel, Sharon Brooks, Marsha Skrypuch, Heather Wilson and Jacklyn Brooks (missing Monica Pierce)

PPD Book Editorial Team Kim McArthur, Tracy Woodford, Sarah McVanel, Sharon Brooks, Marsha Skrypuch, Heather Wilson and Jacklyn Brooks (missing Monica Pierce)

The Executive Director of this charity – Sharon – leveraged her strength of relationship-building to bring on board a diverse group of women she had built ties with over the years. The first meeting was nothing but electric! Full commitment within one hour by a publisher, award-winning author, dedicated student, decorated equestrian and community advocate, director of an educational institution, expert in PDD and of course Sharon and I. We were going to make this book happen, and fast!

The sisterhood grows momentum.

Within one month, there is an electronic submission form on the charity’s website, we hosted a press conference where all the local press show up (one article for example), have full endorsement and support by all levels of government, and local businesses already donating goods for the launch. Within days, we have five stories submitted, with a week more come in from many continents (talk about the international power of women!)

By start with the intention of bringing insight, healing, kindness and a sense of community to a new project, amazing creativity and commitment naturally followed. PDD is tough topic, sometimes with tragic consequences or at minimum with emotional scars, so we thought this might be a tough sell. But we realized quickly that women simply needed the mechanism to commit their strengths to an important project - from sharing a story to spreading the word to editing the book, By leveraging the bond of sisterhood, collectively we can leave the world a better place.

So, have you got your sisterhood on lately?

Awkward! What not to do when starting a blog (and a few things that worked too)

I’ve been a veteran blogger for four months now, so thought I’d share what I’ve learned about blogging. It won’t be rock science, but might be helpful all the same…

1. Watch some YouTube videos on how to blog

I’m a Gex X…why do I keep forgetting that? I can’t figure out technology sans help. It would have saved a lot of frustration and hours (not to mention a few grey hairs) if I had started by researching how to use this foreign technology. If only I had watched an hour of YouTube videos first (after all, I ended up having to anyway!)

2. Not gotten so caught up in the “shiny” things about blogs

Sure, deciding whether to buy a theme or not to buy a theme is super important in the grand scheme of things, not to mention which colour palette to choose, but probably less so than the content. I think I changed the “look” of my blog about a dozen times in the first two weeks. I am pretty sure no one was more drawn to my blog because of my final selection (in fact, I can tell you from the stats they were definitely not drawn to a blog with only one post and a rapidly changing “look”). And don’t look at my blog with that “I-don’t-know-what-all-the-fuss-was-about-it-looks-pretty-plain-to-me” expression!

3. Don’t take yourself so seriously. No seriously, don’t take yourself too seriously…

Like the colour, I wanted to pick the “perfect” title and caption. Picking your URL and title is important, granted, because it’s hard to change the URL and switching your title can be confusing to followers. However, if I had to do it all over again, I would have thought of something creative, fun and inviting for my title and caption. My blog’s title is kinda serious. It’s also exactly what I want to talk about. So, I guess finding the balance requires time to sit back and think about how to best capture that balance. Unless you’re an uber serious person with an intense topic, how can your blog’s title be both accurate and fun?  Kinda like these:

Image4. Use titles that catch search engine’s attention

When people are doing a Google search, you likely want them to stumble upon your site. If you’re trying to be overly witty or unique, there’s a good chance the only people who will catch onto your blog are those who follow you already (your blog or other social media you use to promote it). Although I don’t really like the “4 Things that didn’t work…” sorta person, I thought I better figure out how to make it work if I was going to invest the time into blogging! No point in having a blog that no ones reads (otherwise I’d just talk to myself and save myself the carpal tunnel!)

 

And more importantly, the things I’d do again…

1. Write a bunch of content when I had time

Life gets busy and some weeks I barely have time or energy to write. Other times I get really excited about a topic, the writing comes easily and I seem to have more time (such as if the kids and hubby go up north). Keeping draft content ready to publish means you can always have something on the ready to just click “post” and it seems like you’re writing all the time!

2. Invite guest bloggers to share their wisdom

I think other people are way more interesting to learn from, and the wisdom of many is superior to the wisdom of one. I started asking other strengths-based leaders to answer questions that I’d find interesting and guess what? Others found their responses interesting too! Who knew that interesting people would have cool things to say?!

3. Leverage social media to promote every blog post

I get more traffic on days I promote my blog through LinkedIn Groups, Twitter and Facebook than on days I don’t. Don’t believe me? You can see the stats of what people are reading, on what days, and how they accessed your content. Plus, it makes all those people in high school that made fun of you think you’re super smart posting brilliant things all the time! Seriously though, make sense a social media tool would be best supported by another social media tool, so connect them for heaven’s sake!

 

Best advice (not that you asked) is have fun with it! It’s an extension of you – your interests, life experience and strengths, so be true to yourself and let it reflect the real you! The more you can do these things, the longer you’ll stay with your blog!

 

 

 

 

5 Great Strengths Tools and Exercises: Exploring your own and others’ strengths with intention

From self-reflection to teambuilding, here is a good list of strengths-based exercises and tools that will help you and your colleagues explore your own and each others’ strengths more deeply so you can get onto the business of honouring and leveraging them everyday! To learn more, just click on the link for a full explanation of the tool and how to use it. Enjoy!

  1. A Plate of Strengths
  2. Scaling in Action
  3. Resource Gossiping
  4. VIA Signature Strengths Questionnaire
  5. Strengths Map

Don’t forget to comment what strength exercise you liked the best and any tips for us!

Exercise: Strengths Map

Do you know what your colleagues’ top strengths are? Do they know yours? If the answer is ‘no’ or ‘I’m not sure’, they try some ideas below!

Steps:

  1. Each person completes the VIA Signature Strengths Questionnaire
  2. Everyone shares their top 3 or so strengths. Perhaps even create a “Strengths Map”. Reflect on similarities and differences (see sample strengths map below):
Gloria Jenny Steve Ben
Bravery X X
Honesty X
Fairness X X
Perseverance X X
Humility X X
Spirituality X X X

3. Each person describes what honouring those top strengths looks like for them.

  • What do you need from your colleagues?Image
  • How will your colleagues know when they are honouring it?

Make it visual and fun – don’t just stay in your seats!

4. Describe what not honouring each top strength looks like for you.

  • What doesn’t work? How would someone take each strength for granted?
  • What behaviour would be the opposite of honouring each top strength for you?

5. Combine what people say they need (and what doesn’t work) into group rules based on common themes.

6. Post top strengths and ground rules somewhere you can easily see and access the lists. Reflect on periodically, particularly when going through a tough time as a team.

Related posts:

Exercise: Resource Gossiping

In a past blog post, we talked about the benefits of Resource Gossiping. Hopefully you’re inspired to spread the great word about the greatness you see in others, not just with them but about them with others!

Want to make this a group activity? Here’s some benefits:

  • It’s energizing
  • It can be done with large or small groupsgossip comic
  • It only takes 5 and 20 minutes

Materials:

  • Cardstock or paper
  • Pens
  • Any device to track the time

Instructions:

  1. Explain the concept of resource gossiping (see blog post).
  2. Have people form groups of 2 to 4 (depending on how much time you have). Ask them to determine who is Person A, Person B and so on.
  3. This next step can be done standing up or sitting down. Person A turns his or her back to the group. Person A gets ready to record on paper everything s/he hears (trying not to filter it!) The others “resource gossip” about Person A for the next 2 to 5 minutes (you will tell them when time is up). What strengths, talents, and gifts does this person have? What lesson, observation, or story can you recall that exemplifies this?
  4. Person A is to then receive the acknowledgment by simply saying “thank-you”.
  5. Cycle is repeated for Person B and the rest of the group until all have had a chance to resource gossiped and been resource gossiped about.

Debriefing Questions:

  • What was it like to be “resource gossiped” about?
  • Did you know all the things your colleagues said about you?
  • How could you use this outside of this session? How might this be applicable to other settings?

Translation to the work setting:

  • Explain the concept of resource gossiping to others. Make it a familiar concept.
  • Point out when someone is sharing something positive about someone else when they’re not around. Acknowledge how great it was to be a part of resource gossiping.
  • Of course, resource gossip as much as you can!
  • Notice when you’re tempted to gossip, and see if you can turn it into resource gossip. Can you see the strengths and gifts rather than only the negatives?

Related Posts:

How Resourceful is Your Gossip?

ImageWe often thing of gossip as a bad thing, and with good reason. Often it’s mean-spirited and hurtful; a passive-aggressive way to bully someone. But does it always have to be?

Not necessarily.

Gossip, without the negativity, is simply speaking about the other person when they are not there. So, theoretically, could it be positive? You bet!

Have you ever told someone how much you admired a friend or colleague when the person of your praise was not present? Have you ever said “oh, I know someone who is good at that, you should call X!” Have you relayed a story about a colleague who impressed you with your spousewhen you got home? I know I have.

My colleagues and I call scenarios like these “resource gossiping”. Not only do it do it, we in fact encourage people to do it and teach them how!

So go ahead. With your best of intentions at heart, talk freely about the great things you see, hear, and think about the greatness all around you, even with the subject is not there to hear it! I bet you will notice the greatness all around you all the more (you have to be on the look out to live the intention to share it!) You may also hear through the grapevine that someone has been talking about your strengths too!

Related post: