4 Tips for Effective & Transformational Exercises

One of the things people ask me most when they come to me for support on facilitation and curriculum techniques is “How can I create more effective transformational exercises?”

I love teaching about this because knowing how to masterfully craft exercises that move your participants is KEY to co-creating results and deep learning.

Yet, too often teachers and facilitators don’t quite get it right.

And when you don’t get it right, your exercises come off as trite, too surface oriented, misplaced or just plain weird.

There are a lot of components that are necessary for an exercise to work REALLY well, and this includes a very important piece about how you set up your curriculum throughout your workshop, class or retreat.

We’ll get to Curriculum Development soon, but for now, I wanted to share a few tips on what you can do within the exercises themselves to make them more powerful, more effective, and more moving.

These 4 tips are truly just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to crafting exercises, but they should get you started:

  1. Activate at least two different levels of Learning & Processing

    In a previous article, I shared about the 4 Levels of Learning and Processing. In any full curriculum you create, you want to make use of all 4 learning and processing levels. But in any single exercise that you lead, you want to include at least two of these different levels so that deeper transformation can be harnessed and integrated.

  2. Set up an emotional journey

    How do people learn most effectively? Well, think about the Hero’s Journey for a moment. In every powerful Hero’s Journey, there are the actual events that are taking place (this can be compared to the content & information shared in your exercises)….but there is also an emotional journey that is happening for the Hero.

    If you want your participants to really be moved by an exercise, then not only do you need to evoke emotion, but you need to go beyond evoking just ONE emotion. For true transformation to happen, you want to weave a variety of emotions into any given exercise.

    For example, when I craft exercises, I may lead my participants through anger to grief to joy. Or perhaps from frustration to surprise to celebration. The variance of the emotional experience keeps participants present, helps activate breakthroughs, and allows for emotional integration of the content to happen.

  3. Make use of metaphor and body wisdom

    The absolute most powerful and effective exercises for workshop, retreat or class participants make use of metaphor and body wisdom. Simply put, this means crafting ritual and ceremony into your exercises.

    The language of ritual and ceremony speak not only to the mind, but to the body, to the heart, and to the soul. I always like to say: Before there was therapy, there was religion. And before there was religion…there was ritual. Ritual acts as a potent and physical metaphor for desires and wishes. Enacting ritual and ceremony goes deep to embed new patterns into the psyche. It is also a really wonderful way to harness the energy of the group itself, as ritual is often made more powerful through community.

  4. Lean in and demonstrate

    Really transformational exercises often require participants to do things out of their comfort zone – things that may at first seem or feel strange or foreign, or things that evoke emotion that they are not comfortable with. One of the keys to supporting participants to be willing to go to the depths with you and not feel weird or confused on it is for YOU, the facilitator, to be fully 100% present with what you’re asking participants to do and model it for them FIRST.

    When you model, you not only demonstrate for participants the nuts and bolt of HOW to move through an experience, but you also demonstrate the focus, intention, emotion and passion with which to be present. This makes such a difference in how an exercise will be understood and experienced.

 

Would love to hear how these tips are landing for you. I’ve literally got 100’s more when it comes to exercise and curriculum development, but these are some of the first ones to think about.

My successes & heartbreaks of 2017 + my commitment to you and me in 2018

2017 was a big year in so many ways – some happy, some sad, some easeful and some incredibly hard… I leveled-up in many ways…and that leveling up had it’s growing pains…

…but I can honestly say there has been so much learning and evolution from all of it.

I wanted to share some highlights, successes, heartbreaks and learnings from my personal & professional life over the last year…and then a special commitment with details on what you can expect from me in 2018!

In 2017, I:

–Completely filled ALL of my Programming! including my brand new Coach Training, my Ritual & Facilitation Training, and the Curriculum Lab:

The learning: I share this not to ruffle my own feathers (though I am definitely proud), but to let you know that I had been TERRIFIED to shift my main business focus towards training on building your business and yourself through delivering highest quality coaching, classes, and retreats. I thought it would take a few years to really catch on and for programming to fully fill, but it happened right away. This was such a huge lesson in following my heart, my desires, and my intuition…and putting a stake in the ground for what I believe in. I encourage you to do the same!

–Had my key team member leave the team (in the middle of a launch!):

The learning: I was so sad for Sophie, my long time Online Business Manager to leave the team to pursue a dream…and especially because it was right in the middle of the Sacred Depths launch! When Sophie first gave notice of her departure, I felt like everything would fall apart. But her and I planned for the transition for over a month; I took my time and interviewed numerous candidates; and most importantly: I somehow stayed calm. The result was an incredibly smooth transition and a new Business Manager (Sarah!) who rocks and has our Operations and Team in tip top shape!

–Launched 2 MAJOR trainings in one year (even though I “hate” launching!)

The learning: Literally for years I would not give myself permission to launch anything massive. I designed all of my programming to be rolling admission so that I wouldn’t have to undergo the intensive process of a launch – I like to have things feel calm and easy! But this year I felt so called to launch two big trainings. The learning is that I can do things even if they feel super uncomfortable….so long as they feel exciting and aligned!

–Got criticized cruelly and harshly by a workshop student (I cried for a full day)

The learning: I’ll save the long story on this one for another time, but for now I’ll share that I had an online workshop student rip me to shreds in an email. It really stung. I cried for pretty much a full day. I hated on myself and judged myself harshly that entire day. And even though I didn’t know this woman personally (over 200 people had participated in that workshop), I spent the day hating on her as well. But after that day…I found a higher perspective. I was able to see so clearly that the email wasn’t about me at all. I found compassion for the pain this student must have been in to write such a horrible email. This was so important for me on so many levels: I learned how to chill out over criticism and cultivate compassion no matter what.

–Took 2 weeks off ALL technology…and survived!

The learning: I’ve always been a big advocate of unplugging, but I really put myself to the test this winter break when I had SO MUCH going on in my business but chose to unplug anyway. It was dreamy. And so important for me and my wellbeing. I learned that my business can wait.

–Led my 21st retreat for a particular group of private clients that have been working with me for 7 years

The learning: First of all, there are no other groups in the entire coaching or transformational industry that I know of that have been together for 7 years. This is honestly one of the biggest accomplishments of my life and I am so proud of what I have created, together with this group of wise woman, magical clients. If you’ve ever been to a retreat with me, you know the transformation and growth in the room is like nothing else you’ve ever experienced. The learning here was more of another reminder for me that I have the ability (as we all do) to defy industry norms when I am working on something I am passionate about.

–Had a cherished, long-term client traumatically “break up” with me

The learning: This is something I’ve been lucky enough to have avoided in my nearly 20-year career…but it happened this year. It wasn’t easy. It was actually incredibly painful and draining. If you’ve been part of my community for a while, you know I’m a truth teller and always try to be as authentic with you as I can for your own learning and growth. So even though this is hard to share, I’m sharing it with you. Because I want you to know that it can happen. And if it does happen, it doesn’t mean you’ve done anything wrong or that you’re a bad practitioner. It simply means that sometimes sh*t happens. My learning was to be incredibly gentle with myself.

–Donated more money than I ever have before to causes that are important to me

The learning: Being able to give, and to give a LOT, feels AWESOME.

Between everything that is happening in the world, and all the lessons I’ve learned in 2017, it feels more important to me than ever before to use my voice and my work as a platform for healing, evolution, and deep change.

It feels more important than ever before to speak my truth.

It feels more important than ever before to stand strong for all I believe in.

For me. For you. For the world.

So here are my commitments to myself and to you for 2018:

1) I will be taking an even stronger stand for coaching and facilitation mastery because the industry needs practitioners like you who know how to create deep and real transformation with your clients.

2) I will continue to take a big stand for integrity in the coaching & transformational industries because there are too many industry practices right now that are out of integrity and not of service. My commitment includes continuing to only serve and support those I know I can help, doing everything I can to keep my marketing promises, only delivering the highest quality services, not inflating my rates beyond what is aligned, doing everything I can to make my business welcoming and nourishing to ALL people who want my support.

3) I will amplify under-represented voices and voices of color because it is a top priority for me to play my role in helping to raise up ALL human beings and to bring visibility to powerful voices that don’t always get heard.

4) I will offer you even more trainings, workshops and opportunities to master your coaching, ritual, facilitation and leadership skills…so be on the lookout because there is a LOT of awesomeness happening this year!

5) I will use my business to honor and take care of the earth by donating proceeds in ways that count, by being even more conscious of the resources I am using, and by continuing to share the message of honoring and holding the earth sacred.

6) I will continue to show up with my full heart to support you in all the ways I can (& find more ways for us to connect!)…a GREAT way to start is to join my Facebook Group if you haven’t already done so. It’s called Coaching and Facilitation Mastery: Tools And Skills For Better Client Results. I share a ton of resources over there and love to interact with everyone.

It’s going to be a powerful year, and I am just so excited that we are on this journey together.

I’d love to hear from you on your commitments in 2018 and what you are excited about it.

The Power of Ritual and Coming Together in Community

As you read this, I’m in my old Brooklyn neighborhood of Prospect Heights. I’m here for the weekend to support one of my best friends in the world who was recently diagnosed with cancer, and to celebrate with her that her surgery went really well! I’m also here to celebrate a 40th birthday & engagement with another dear friend from our circle.

Me and one of my best friends…many years ago!

I’ve known these two women for a long time now, and they are two of the members of a women’s circle that I’ve been circling with for nearly 10 years. Through those years, we’ve been supporting each other through thick and thin, laughing together, crying together, and meeting nearly every month to be together in ritual space – to revitalize, to reconnect to source, and to be in community.

Over the years, I’ve had the pleasure and privilege of being part of many women’s circles and communities, and of starting a few on my own. I can tell you that there are few things as powerful as both ritual and women coming together in community.

I highly recommend it! It will enhance your personal as well as your professional life by leaps and bounds.

Wherever YOU were this weekend, I do hope it was with loved ones or that you were doing something that makes you smile!

With love,
Joanna

Soul-Centered Networking 101

networking-101“I’d rather get a root canal than go to another networking event!”

Does this sound familiar?

You know you “need” to network. So, you begrudgingly pay the $40 for the event, you put on your uncomfortable “networking” outfit that makes you feel awkward, make sure your lipstick is on, and get to the networking meeting. The room is filled with strangers, so you nervously get yourself a drink because you’re not sure what else to do… Maybe this time you find one person who seems somewhat friendly and you latch onto them for dear life. Maybe you feel anxious about your experience, so you don’t talk to anyone. Or maybe you get trapped in a conversation with someone you immediately know you can’t stand. And you wonder, WHY am I doing this? Why can’t I just email people from the safety and comfort of my sofa (while wearing my Snuggie!)?

And there you are, back at work the next day, with $40 less and nothing to show for it.

So, why should you network?
Because you – and your business or your Soul-Centered Projects – don’t operate in a vacuum. No one can achieve great success alone. It’s really difficult to attract in prospective clients, business partners, suppliers, and even employees if you aren’t willing to connect with others and create relationships.

Yet sometimes, traditional networking can feel uncomfortable, scary, weird, or unnatural. Many of us lack the confidence to walk into a room and “work” it because to do so requires an act or set of behaviors that are unfamiliar and feel inauthentic. What you need is to learn how to network in a Soul-Centered way that is aligned with YOU.

Networking and How I Hated It!
When I first started networking, I absolutely hated it. I hated showing up to events that were often early in the morning, slapping on a nametag, and performing my one-minute elevator speech. I was scared of going to networking meetings and telling people about my coaching practice because I didn’t want them to reject me or judge me. I was scared of making myself vulnerable by letting people know about what I did and that I was looking for business. It was a RISK for me to put myself out there without knowing how my networking might turn out.

After WAY too many unsuccessful networking endeavors that ended up with me feeling like my time would have been better spent doing ANYTHING else, I decided it was time to network in a different way
. In a “soul-centered” way. And once I did that – everything changed. All of the sudden, I started looking forward to networking events and I’d leave the evening with many new contacts and prospects. I even started to have FUN at networking events! And the more fun I had, the more successful an evening it was.

Soul-Centered Networking: What it’s Not

Soul-Centered networking is NOT about making up stories about who you are or what you do. It’s NOT about trying to sound like someone else or saying what you think the other person wants to hear. It’s NOT about attending a meeting or event that feels misaligned or tedious for you (even though you think your target audience will be there). It’s not about giving your contact info to people you don’t feel connected to or don’t want to speak to again; it’s not about talking only about yourself or having a conversation with someone and talking only about them. Throw all these ideas away.

What It IS
Soul-centered networking IS about bringing yourself and your work authentically and confidently to a conversation with another person, and being genuinely interested and curious about that person. Networking and marketing are all about creating relationships – that is what’s MOST important. It’s that simple! My gift to you, below are three Soul-Centered networking practices that will help you have much more effective, much more fun networking experiences. You can start using them TODAY:

Three Simple Practices:

  1. Write It Out— Before you go to a networking event, make a script of what you are going to say about yourself and your business. Be clear on how you talk about yourself and your work – and who you work with. The exact words aren’t essential, and you should be able to adapt to different groups or individuals you are talking to, but what must come through is your PASSION. Talk about how you help people. Connect to the part of you that is confident and KNOWS what an impact you are here to make.
  2. Go Where You’re Happy—Network in places that are aligned for you. If you’re not into formal networking events, then skip them! Think about environments where you naturally shine: volunteer events & associations, your kid’s school or parent groups, your place of spiritual practice, parties, conferences, even attending a class that interests you. Be open to the fact that networking can happen anywhere.
  3. Make the Connection—When you meet someone at a networking meeting or event, allow a heart connection to emerge – don’t put up your defenses. Each person is there to connect, just like you. First and foremost, remember that the other person is a human being – not some evil robot! Before any words come out of your mouth, allow for an energetic connection to happen. This works in business networking but also for all human relationships – even dating!

Finally, believe in yourself and follow your instincts. When you meet people who you feel no connection with, it’s okay to politely move on. But when you feel an energetic connection, absolutely engage, allow your curiosity to open the conversation, and don’t forget to follow up!

I have many, many more Soul-Centered networking tools that I will share with you in the weeks ahead. In the meantime, here’s my homework for you: make a goal right now of attending one networking event in the next month. Connecting in a Soul-Centered way will bring more people into your circles, create more powerful relationships, and reveal ways these people can help you. Get out there, and let me know how it goes!