Owning my own story

Long time, no blog.

I’ve been meaning to get back into the swing of blogging, but various things (legitimate and in hindsight not) have intervened.

Things have been very busy — the good kind of busy.  I have the tremendous good fortune to have great clients, friends, colleagues and family.

I’ve been involved in some fascinating things in the past 12 months since I last blogged.  I have traveled a lot — sometimes way too much and too far in too short a time.  But there’s no question the world has been conspiring to offer me lots to do, to think about, to pitch in on and to try and add my perspective to.

My friends from Windhorse Farm always take occasion to remind me how much pausing, reflecting and “taking stock” really matter – and how little we generally seem to believe our lives allow for that these days.  Having a wonderful place like the incomparable old growth forests of Windhorse is a fabulous place to be able to do it from time-to-time.  But most of us don’t live or work in such idyllic settings, and we have to do it between meetings, on our way to or from the rink/arena/field, after folding laundry, in an airport terminal or in other found time.

So I’ve created a new bite-sized mechanism for reflection, thoughtfulness and being “present” – I’m calling them Fisherwick-isms.  It’s a selfish exercise, to be sure.  It’ll force me to reflect, think and be present.  In sharing it, I’m hopeful the odd one will help you, too.

When I write, drive or run I listen to music.  When I want to learn or escape, I read fiction (and even some occasional non-fiction).  I always come across things that stick in my mind, and that help me to connect dots.

Over time, I’ve taken to using them to help connect dots for my clients.  We’ll be in the middle of a discussion on negotiation strategy, and I will come out with a reference from a fiction book about a talking dog.  We’ll be musing about a major policy issue, and I will quote a contemporary song lyric.  Or maybe we’re discussing the challenges, the loneliness and the cost of striving to be an authentic leader, and a line from an ad in a metro station will spill out of my mouth.

Like everyone, I try things out.  When they work — when people connect with the idea, the thought, the sentiment in the lyric, the book quote or the found inspiration — I know the original author or the musician was on to something.  These things then become part of my retinue – ways to get an idea across, to help characterize a situation and to draw people out of business-speak, legalistic mumbo-jumbo, talking points or other ways of obscuring meaning and sewing confusion.

I used to be kind of self-conscious about it, my own worst critic and self-scolder.

But the other thing I’ve started to really do in the last 12 months or so is to really own my story.  I’ve allowed myself to see the chapters, the paragraphs and the pull quotes – and to realize that there’s a whole lot left to write.

I’ve had the good fortune to work at, learn about, participate in and shape things in the past two decades.  And still I’ve gained no particular work-defining credential.  No “PEng”, no “CA”, no “LLB”.  Finally, I’ve decided I’m OK with that – I’m embracing it.

As a good friend used to say: I’m not a rocket-surgeon.

I am a generalist, a cross-pollinator and a dot connector.  And as far as job descriptions and go, it’s not a bad one for this part of my story.

So I’ll add the Fisherwick-isms to this Chapter.  With much thanks to my buddy Harp for his creative thinking, inspiration and gentle butt-kicking.

Hope you enjoy – first Fisherwick-ism to follow.

Paul