Thought Series provides actionable ideas and anchors for reflection on your life or your work.


In 2015 I founded CHC with the bold goal of helping people engage uncertainty in order to lead change. Since then I’ve had the amazing opportunity to speak on the topic to many people here and abroad.

One of the ways we learn how to engage uncertainty is through experiential learning projects. I’m often asked how uncertainty or risk is viewed from leader to leader or organization to organization. The answer is, it’s not really that different. There are way more similarities than differences when it comes to dancing with uncertainty in order to drive change.

I’ve found that there are five universal truths about embracing uncertainty that transcend geography, gender, and organization type:

The first truth is that you can define uncertainty in driving change however you want. It doesn’t matter what you call it: risk, threat, doubt, indecision, ambiguity. Most people share a similar desire which is to do the right thing for their themselves, their teams and their organizations. When it comes to engaging uncertainty each person has their own idea of what is comfortable, tolerable and acceptable. There is no right or wrong way to define or describe uncertainty. It is what it is for you and for you alone.

The second truth about engaging uncertainty in driving change is that uncertainty is part of our daily lives. Your ability to dance with it will change as your environment shifts and changes. Things like new managers, new connections, new roles, new interests, life circumstances like births and deaths, health (yours and others), will all impact your ability to embrace uncertainty. Empowerment can be found in recognizing and accepting that what you need now in this moment is very different than what you will need 12 months from now, or five years from now.

The third truth about engaging uncertainty in driving change is that small changes lead to big changes. Thinking small is about being dedicated to a niche or segment. Most organizations are focused on scaling, and idea of changing the world reigns strong (toward whatever end). We want to utilize innovation to make huge changes in the world so that we can matter. Hopefully we make our mark and make use of the great gifts that we’ve been given. From the lens of the interior mind, scale may not be the most prudent way to proceed. The neurological response seems to be strongest when we pay attention to the micro-level, when we ask “what do I need to do to change my neurology first?” The result is wildly different than if we were to design for scale. It is creative, relevant, and potent.

The fourth truth about engaging uncertainty in driving change is that it is virtually free, which is great news because everybody loves free. You don’t have to hire a professional coach, find a therapist, acquire advanced degrees, get advanced certifications, join a meditation group, or purchase a ton of books. If you want to sell tickets, make a web site, or produce a record, there are is a robust set of platforms to choose from. These are all options you can choose but you do not have to do any of them. There is no shortage of opportunity. What’s missing is that we haven’t shifted gears enough from how business was done just 20 years ago to how it needs to be done today and in the future. We haven’t gotten out our own way and chose to take the leap.

The fifth truth about engaging uncertainty in driving change is that it requires you to…take the leap. Taking the leap means you are improvising, vulnerable, and not sure what you are doing will work out. A human being, and only a human being can engage uncertainty. The act of being generous with ideas, and structure, and connection in ways that have never been done before. What we need to understand is that society is lining up to reward people for doing things differently, for becoming outliers, for thinking unconventionally. There are many attributes associated with these kinds of people, none of which we were taught in school. We were taught to receive a map and follow instructions. The death of the industrial age as at the heart of the uncertainty we find ourselves in. And the work you do matters. Changing yourself changes the work you do, the connections you reach toward, and the impact you have in the world. It’s your choice to find what level of uncertainty you can engage toward driving change. Some days you might make choices that support your definition of change. Other days you might make choices that sabotage the type of change you’re seeking. But change occurs in the practice of engaging. It’s awkward at first. But every day you get the chance to choose, again, and again, and again.


How do you keep track of your personal development and career goals?

I developed the Becoming Personal Development Journal as a way to keep my milestone goals, progress, and overall thoughts on my own development in one place. Sure, I have my blog to do that, but after inadvertently deleting my blog of ten years when I switched to a web site, I realized the impermanence of ideas. Plus, writing something by hand requires discipline and it’s discipline that comes into play when you are trying to achieve a bold goal.

Through this journal, I wanted to inspire my clients to stay motivated and maintain their momentum as they were rolling off engagements with me.

I started using early versions of the Journal two years ago. I had quit my job to finish my doctorate, was fresh out of my final defense with my committee, recovering from some very painful surgery, and felt a bit rudderless. Because I started this process for myself in August 2015, I made the journal undated. Change starts the day you decide it starts. You do not have to wait till January  to get started. In fact, it’s almost better if you do start at an odd time of the year since you are not distracted by three months of holidays. I noticed that my clients felt a bit overwhelmed with papers and information I had pointed them to during our time together. Many didn’t have a system for keeping their learning in one place. I experimented with PowerPoint and worksheets, with varying degrees of success. There are several worksheets inside the Journal that will help you get organized, focused on your goals, and really learn about yourself as a catalyst and leader. These are informed by both my research and my experiences coaching.

Using the Becoming Development Journal
I make it easy to get going with this journal. I Set up your weeks starting on Mondays and ending on Sundays. Each week, you’re prompted with a question to make you think about your goals and how you plan to get them done. You have space to write the things you are working on (like noticing your attention in meetings or with certain people, noticing your decision making and the quality of your thinking, and even noticing how you felt that day). Some people might develop symbols for some of these concepts. Smiley faces makes a good one for mood. A numerical rating system can also quickly denote how your day is going. I provide example entries to help you get started.

There are a lot of extra sections in this journal, including different approaches to managing stress, avoiding burnout, and a lot more. Over time, see if you utilize the whole journal or only focus on specific sections.

Why Journaling Works
It’s been said that writing down your goals makes them more concrete. Pysch Central has a great article about the benefits of keeping a journal. I noticed that as I logged my goals and the milestones to getting there each day, I learned more about myself, what I do well and where I struggle. I became an effective coach to myself at a time when I couldn’t pay anyone to care. More importantly, the things I want to avoid altogether are there, staring me in the face. I become my best accountability partner. Here, I can be completely honest with how I’m doing and notice trends along the way. Friends are great, but they are soft on us. Managers are great too, but when given a choice to talk about the status of the business v the status of you, they will opt for the business. They generally have extremely limited bandwidth for deep conversation on your personal development. We all have those times in our lives when we need support coupled with an accurate reflection of where we are at.

Using this journal has been helpful for me and my clients. While I love writing about concepts related to coaching on the blog, it’s so much easier to flip a few pages through the journal. A few weeks ago, I had spike in networking activities. Thanks to the Becoming Development Journal, I was able to pinpoint that it happened as a result of being asked to write an article for a local newspaper, which resulted in an invitation to speak on a panel. From there, several meetings sprung up, and in one of them, I received some valuable advice that gave me something to think about in terms of my approach to getting business.

What are your development goals for the coming month? Do you use a journal or a similar method to log your progress?

Thought Series: The value of the intolerable

Thought Series provides actionable ideas and anchors for reflection on your life or your work.


Over the last month I’ve been asked to speak about my research findings. More and more, however, I’m noticing that people want tips, checklists, or recipes for success, getting mindful, or whatever goal they are after.

TIP: If checklists really helped, all of us wouldn’t still be struggling so much.

Below is yet another list…of points to consider. These are key takeaways from a study I did on values based leaders and how they manage scaling their organizations. Yet, the one concept that binds them all together is: tolerance.

Leaders that are a cut above have the ability to sit with and manage great intolerance. We go to trainings where we are told “it’s ok to get uncomfortable” or “it’s safe to make mistakes.” But people are coming with their team, where they will go back to an environment where they feel unsafe.

Question: How many trainings have you been to where people were actually uncomfortable?

I’ve only been to one. At Microsoft. Lisa Brummel brought an organization in to help change the culture from being dominating to being more collaborative.  One of the first hours of this training attempted to give vocabulary to the concept of feelings. Among a sea of engineers, where feelings were seldom acknowledged when negotiating tradeoffs for launch dates, vocabulary was limited. People could only identify four terms: happy, sad, mad, afraid. When it came time to identify one of these feelings publicly in conjunction with an exercise we were doing, several people got up and left, some shouted, others boycotted the day. The unspoken feeling was fear, that would be used against them in performance calibration. Since then, the training has been adapted and performance calibration has been revisited.

The point here is that it is intolerable in today’s society to register discomfort with anything. We must be happy, always know the answer, and demonstrate competence even while we are learning something new. restrictive environments like this squash motivation, ability to innovate, and individual creativity.

How much more can you tolerate?



Leaders that are highly valued among employees and even markets, have a great capacity to create the conditions necessary for innovation and ongoing experimentation. Here are some key takeaways from values-based leaders.

1. You Matter, Whether You Like it or Not.

A person’s consistency in word and deed sets the tone and depth for relationships, for how work gets done, for what is permissible. How you are narrows or broadens your prospects. If you take action and you’re committed to making a difference–great. If you’re one of those that decide that ‘well I don’t make any difference I’m just one of 7 billion people–what difference do I make’ (and you live your life that way) that’s the impact that you are going to make.  You know that people who don’t care are less fun to be around, and those that want to make a difference, do. You will have impact one way or another. How do you want to show up?

2. Create a Vision from the Future, Step into that Possibility Not Knowing How to Create It

Most visioning projects start off looking at the past and the steps that got them where they are. They then develop a series of steps to get them to their future. By identifying your future, and beginning to move in that direction the ecosystem will provide it. Each person individually commits to the future. If someone is just going along for the ride, when things get tough it makes it hard to have a breakthrough. What future do you want?

3. Individual Commitment.

All individuals have to commit to the vision. We, as individuals, have the power to create. Each interaction we engage in creates our future. We have the choice to determine the conversation, in that moment, of who we are going to be. Creativity lives at the level of each individual. Groups do not create. Autonomy is only as robust as the level of personal responsibility. There is a certain magic available to people when they operate like they are responsible for their own universe. There are rewards to living life where you consistently choose, and are held accountable for choosing, to serve your team and your community. What is it you are up to? Making a living or a life? What inspires you?

4. Develop & Celebrate Your People.

Most jobs are hard, that is why they call it work. I am not sure whether I would want to work with the type of person who would be willing to endure a job only for the pay. Observe each other’s behavior as they go about aligning to the vision. Teach the team to give and accept feedback during the next team meeting. People truly committed to the vision will accept feedback of their peers. The group develops into a supportive team of coaches that holds them accountable for making a difference.