Mindfulness and Reflection

“It is necessary…for a man to go away by himself … to sit on a rock … and ask, ‘Who am I, where have I been, and where am I going?”
Carl Sandburg

shutterstock_225924757I recently spent a half-day with a colleague who graciously offered me her support as I considered my business plan and asked myself the questions (again): Who am I? Who are our users and buyers? What do they need? How can I meet that need differently than my competition? During this process she challenged me to evaluate how I came to be where I was now, and in so doing, I discovered something new and different about my work around The Cycle of Transformation.

Mindfulness is coming of age as we learn more about the value created when employees are present and attuned with their work. Mindfulness practices in the workplace are linked to lower stress, employee satisfaction, healthier relationships, and improved business results. Mindfulness can simply be defined as attention and awareness to the present moment. There are many opportunities to practice mindfulness techniques in the workplace, depending on the situation, but I want to focus on those opportunities that are linked to evaluation, assessment, or a debriefing of action that has been taken.

Recently I read about the distinguishing characteristics of mindfulness to-action, and mindfulness in-action. This idea really resonates with me, because for years I’ve practiced reflection to-action as part of the transformative cycle for individuals and organizational systems. I can clearly see how mindfulness in-action strengthens the Cycles of Transformation, during the action phase, through full presence and awareness of each moment that one is engaged in “the doing.” The next phase of the transformative cycle happens when one reflects on “the doing.” The greater the ability to stay present and re-experience the completed activity, mindfulness to-action, the greater the opportunity for new insight as the individual or the organization remains agile and iterative about what happens next.

Cycles of Transformation become expansive, in part, through the practice of learning through reflection. We evolve and grow systems by examining past and current realities and pondering questions about priorities, impacts and desired outcomes. Mindfulness to-action, or Reflection, when embedded in the coaching or learning process ensures necessary time is spent to consider if we will repeat, adjust, or abandon a past course of action. Attention creates intention.

I have included three tips to support your success at the Reflection phase of the Cycle of Transformation process. These will help you use mindfulness to-action.

Contemplative Inquiry: To look at, or view, for an extended time. Deeply considering our own actions is an important element of a personal growth strategy. This level of reflection and inquiry can lead to self-awareness and deep insight about what is most important and what action we want to curtail or commit more time and energy toward. Some individuals like to find a quiet place to think, others prefer to walk, hike, or run while considering an important question, and still others journal or draw while in a reflective state. Figure out what works best for you. The same holds true for organizational systems. Appreciative Inquiry, Strategic Planning and Executive Alignment sessions are examples of structures that organizations use to take a step back and engage in contemplative inquiry by asking questions such as: Where have we been? Where are we now? Where do we need to go next? What actions will we choose to take?

Comparative Outcomes: The identification of effectiveness for specific activities. Looking back to compare and contrast what happened in different situations can often help excavate the pieces and parts that did or didn’t work. When in doubt regarding the best future course of action, look to the past and you might find a hybrid, or a combined approach based on several past experiences. Start by brainstorming all the times you have solved a similar problem or encountered the situation at hand. List everything you can remember about what took place and the outcomes. Discard what you didn’t like but be careful that you are discarding it for the right reasons.

Coaching Reflection: Leaders can support others in their reflective process by asking coaching questions about past actions. The coaching skills, listening and intuition, to name just a few, are also extremely valuable and can help uncover opportunities to deepen clarity and create new insight. Reflective coaching has a purpose; to create learning for another person that supports his or her desired, future-growth. Beware of creating a focus that erodes self-regard and confidence. Below are questions that may help you coach reflection, or mindfulness to-action.

  • Describe what happened.
  • How did that support your goal; objective; desired outcome?
  • What would the ideal outcome have been?
  • What did, or would lead to that end?
  • What would you change?
  • What could be done differently to improve the odds?
  • What are you especially proud of?
  • What will you repeat?
  • What will you discard?
  • What happens now?

If you are interested in becoming a performance driven organization that’s able to balance a drive for results with caring connected leadership; a mindfulness to-action and reflection practice may be part of the solution you’re looking for. Schedule a free consultation today and learn how to use Cycles of Transformation to grow your team.


Deb Siverson is an author and president of Xponents, Inc. Her book, “The Cycle of Transformation: Igniting Organizational Change through the Leader Coach”, encourages transparent and emotionally-connected conversations at work. Her company’s focus is to bring out the best in people by recognizing the unique talent, values, and purpose inherent in all.

Choosing to Live Intentionally

Everything about our lives is a choice, the question is, are we conscious or unconscious about the choices we make. We each can choose to flow through the day and let it happen or dig in deep and create a life that serves a greater purpose.  Maybe there is even a middle ground, a place that exists that is both flow and intention.

Blah, blah, blah. You’ve heard this before.  Eyes rolling back…zoning out.  Why does it have to be so complicated?  Just live life.  Be present, and live in the moment. Okay…noted…I get it! And just maybe one can live in the moment and be intentional. I am ever on the path to learning how.

There are days that I am just too tired, or distracted, and I don’t want to do the hard work it takes to live with full intention.  I settle…a bit (a lot) and I hope it’s okay to be intentional say 75% of the time.  And with huge helpings of unconsciousness, I think, isn’t ignorance just the purest form of bliss?  “Yes, thank you, I will have French fries with that, and another glass of wine would be so perfect…and I know how important that is to you, but I just have to handle one more thing first…can it wait?”

Today I don’t have the energy to aspire to 80% intentionality, but what if I could choose to live the life that was intended for me?  What if I had all the well being, happiness, and joy that was available?  What are the choices that I need to make to be in that flow?  I find that choosing to live intentionally requires me to stop, now and again, and take stock.

It all starts with self-awareness.  Assessments can kick start the process and remind us of who we are and where to pay attention. Coaching is also a great option to explore and discover what to focus on now. From the place of deeply knowing yourself, an informed decision, a true choice can be made about what to do.  It’s decision time.  Choosing action without self-awareness is foolishness.  An emotional connection to what matters most fuels action.

If it’s time to dig in deep and get focused on your career, work, or personal goals call us at 303-238-9733 or email me at [email protected].


If you like this blog, I think you will like my book The Cycle of Transformation. Available now!
Deb Siverson is a seasoned executive coach, certified as a PCC through the International Coach Federation. If you want to schedule time to discuss how you or your organization can increase engagement by having a different conversation at work, contact us now.

Self-Awareness: Looking Through Fresh Eyes

I wrote this blog on April 21, while traveling to Billings, Montana. I hope you enjoy it.

I’m on my way to Billings Montana where I will lead week two of Leadership Mastery.  This is a three month leadership program that Xponents developed and we have been delivering it to the Bureau of Reclamation for the last several years. 

My group, eighteen phenomenal individuals, will put their attention on the BIG picture, external awareness, political savvy, and creativity and innovation.  These are just a few of the leadership competences identified by OPM and adopted by many government agencies. 

In week one the focus was on self-awareness, and there was an Emotional Intelligence 360 and MBTI, and lots of exercises on expanding self-knowledge of how we impact our experience and the experience of others. 

Every time I stand on the precipice of doing work with a group I find myself wondering: What am I here to give and what am I here to receive? Of late, there has been a lot of personal focus on my own life transitions.  It struck me recently that I needed to step up the self-care as I had depleted my reserves with too much work, worry and whining.

I hate to admit it, but it’s so true.  Between my house woes and a minor health scare, I fell off my game.  I started to feel negative and not enough positive thoughts flowing through my  mind.  I am frustrated that my own leadership journey sometimes feels like three steps forward and two steps back. 

For me, these little wake up calls are like…WTF, Deb! I initially don’t have much compassion for my human tendency to mess-up. But gradually, as I work to find alignment I can hold myself more lightly.  I remember that this is a process and I aspire to more days living my intention than not.  Everyday offers me a new beginning. Every moment is a choice.

 I am proud to report that I went to yoga three times this week, inspired by my dear friend LL. And I had a tremendous massage inspired by my Moxie gals. All of the above moving me toward feeling more centered.  Yesterday morning as I was finishing a sweet practice at Vital Yoga on Tennyson in Highlands District, our leader asked why is it so hard to say, “I don’t know?” And I thought about how not knowing where my home will be, or if the book will be liked, or what it will be like when our son leaves for college are ways I am losing control of my world.  Why is it so hard to live with the unknown?

As I head into my work this week, with my incredible eighteen I’m going to sit with that question. What is it like to step into the bigger picture from a place of not knowing? If I trust that I know myself and what I have to offer, then the rest is just circumstances.

What is it like to look at the world with fresh eyes? I’ll let you know what I discover!

If you are longing to have a different kind of conversation in the workplace, call me at 303-238-9733.  Let’s talk about it.



Deb Siverson is a seasoned executive coach, certified as a PCC through the International Coach Federation. She is also the author of “The Cycle of Transformation: Igniting Organizational Change Through the Leader Coach”. Order your copy on NOW!

A Lesson in Self-Awareness

Self-Awareness is one of the fifteen emotional competencies measured in the EQi2.0 emotional intelligence assessment. The official definition is “knowing what one is feeling and why.” Knowing and understanding one’s strengths and weaknesses, what is most important, and how old scripts and behaviors get in the way of life goals is a critical component to success.

How do I describe success?

Young Women Thinking her Problems at sunrise timeSuccess is the ultimate prize. It is what brings each of us the satisfaction we long for. I don’t mean satisfaction in a purely hedonistic way, though frankly the majority of us could use a little more pleasure before the final curtain is drawn, but in an “I am well pleased” with my life and how it is progressing way.

But this post is about self-awareness which doesn’t always equate to things going the way we want. As I write this I am keenly aware that sometimes uncontrollable circumstances happen…s**t happens. And staying connected to who we are may be even more important during the times when life seems to be spinning out of control.

Take Polly for instance. I don’t know Polly well. I have watched her grow up from a distance, a second cousin on my husband’s side, a friend on Facebook, and a beautiful young mother who fought valiantly this past year against the great “beast.” We mourned with her when she was diagnosed with breast cancer a year ago. She shared herself and her journey generously…bravely. I watched as she lost her hair, and I cheered her on when she spoke of “kicking cancer’s ass.” I was elated when she was diagnosed as cancer free two months ago.

Then yesterday, as I was getting on the plane to head home, I saw her post a picture from her hospital room. Yesterday she was diagnosed with leukemia: a three week hospital stay, more chemo, and likely another six-week stay for a bone marrow transplant.

Her eyes said everything, and her words said, #‎gamefaceformyson.

She has been heavy on my mind the last 24 hours. I am sad, and angry that cancer exists, and in awe of her strength. I feel so many emotions it is overwhelming. I wish I could help and I feel helpless.

Self-awareness: I know what I feel and why I feel it.

Cancer must be eradicated…anything less is just not good enough.

The definition for emotional intelligence should have a picture of Polly. She has eloquently expressed how she feels about her cancer. She has done it with a sense of dignity. She has balanced her feelings with the feelings of others, and what they need.

She is emotionally aware, and during this tragic turn of events, what will be one of the most turbulent rides of her life, she is still able to balance her emotional self with others.

Now that is what I call success.


If you are longing to have a different kind of conversation in the workplace, call me at 303-238-9733.  Let’s talk about it.

If you like this blog, I think you will like my book The Cycle of Transformation. Available now!
HighResolution_Warnke_ DebSiverson20121208-9332-EditDeb Siverson is a seasoned executive coach, certified as a PCC through the International Coach Federation. If you want to schedule time to discuss how you or your organization can increase engagement by having a different conversation at work, contact us now.