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.

Does Your Vision Add Value?


You must give birth to your images.

They are the future waiting to be born.

Fear not the strangeness you feel.

The future must enter you

                        long before it happens.

Just wait for the birth,

For the hour of new clarity.

  Rainer Maria Rilke

This January has been busy with updating budgets and marketing plans.  It has been a time of deep reflection and challenging our thinking.  The Xponents team has been consistently and carefully considering and creating the future.  We have been revisiting the Xponents vision and asking ourselves, is this still viable?

At Xponents we elevate individuals, teams, and organizations above self-imposed limitations to recognize their limitless potential through honoring and unleashing the unique talent, values, vision, and purpose inherent in all.

I have been holding this vision for more than ten years.  I wonder at the start of a new budget cycle, is my vision still something I am called to do?  Are others as inspired as I am by the power that exists when we see and are seen for the seeds of greatness we possess?  Am I being self-indulgent, or is this work we do adding value to our customers?

Today during our morning meeting we were discussing our value proposition:

  • What problem does our product or service solve?
  • Exactly who are we solving the problem for?
  • What are the key benefits of our products and services?
  • How are we different from our competition?

Here are some of the things I have been thinking about.

What problems do we solve?

Often our customers come to us to grow leaders.  They ask us to educate and build awareness so that leaders transform performance by going beyond managing results and instead lead people to greatness.  The business problems they want to solve are weak sales or service performance, issues with productivity, low team member engagement, challenges due to conflict and collaboration, or lack of alignment around goals and strategies.

Who are we solving the problem for?

Our ideal customer is in a mid to large corporation or a government agency.  We hold a GSA Schedule, and have done work in a variety of government agencies.  We like to think we attract Senior Business and Learning Professionals who are progressive and understand the link between business results and human performance.  We believe these individuals recognize the value of having a different kind of conversation in the workplace which stems from knowing the formula for developing authentic trust and connected and transparent relationships.

What are our products and services and their key benefits?

We solve these business problems with out of the box and customized products and services that develop leaders and teams to balance a drive for results by being caring and connected to others.  We say our mission is:

Designing, developing, and delivering cutting-edge, experiential leadership development products and services that have a dramatic, transformative, and lasting impact on performance.

This means we provide consulting services, coaching services, and workshops that focus on developing leadership skills, such as emotional intelligence, coaching skills for managers, and collaboration and partnering.

While there are many benefits that our customers experience, the three key benefits are:

  • Our products improve performance by defining what success looks like and we support you in developing the map to get there.
  • Our products are designed to create sustainability through an emphasis on systems thinking and change management methodology.
  • Create reliability and repeatability by deepening individual awareness of strengths to leverage and obstacle to manage.  We link awareness to action.

What makes us different from the competition?

At Xponents, our vision is not only about Leadership Mastery of the soft skills.  We stand for transforming organizations by transforming the conversations that happen in the workplace.  We believe that organizations that are leadership centric are employee centric, and customer centric.  You might say that we are people centric.  When we truly care about others success then everyone wins…especially the shareholder.

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.  If you want to schedule time to discuss how you or your organization can increase engagement through the development of the leader within contact us now.

What is Hope: Realistic Goals, Persistence, and Belief

I sit here in front of the fire on the first day of the year and contemplate what I can do differently to more fully live my life in alignment with my truest self.   I like New Years, as it represents turning the page and starting anew with a clean slate.  It’s also a time to slow down for a little contemplation and reflection.  As I consider the goals I set for myself last year, I’m pleased to say that the one that mattered most was met.  Achieving that big goal, requires that I take all that I learned and up the ante for next year.  While I had some success, other goals did not turn out the way I would have liked.  I find myself feeling extremely disappointed by this fact.  I have a tendency to question and second-guess myself, and frankly it takes effort for me to practice self-compassion.   If I am being completely honest, I don’t like it when I don’t meet my goals.  So today I am doing my best to wrap my head around what created this less-than-expected performance.

I recently read that C.R. Snyder, who spent his career researching to understand what is hope, which he defined as a cognitive process.  “A trilogy of goals, pathways, and agency,” or a function of setting a realistic goal, being both persistent and flexible in your pursuit, and believing in yourself.  So which part of that equation impacted my hoped for outcome last year?  How do I identify the missing element so that I can avoid the same thing happening in the New Year?

When I look back, I begin to see that my missed goal was not realistic, and it wasn’t even that well defined.  I worked tenaciously and persistently, but I wasn’t clear enough in terms of what I was doing and how often I was doing it.  I threw a lot of spaghetti at the wall, but not enough of it stuck.  And as for belief, I was hesitant rather than confident.  The relief I feel is tangible like the sigh that escapes me, when I realize the insanity can stop now.  Thankfully it’s a New Year.

As I begin to take a deeper look, I see something that makes me feel a bit uneasy.  I suspect that I may have set the goal because I felt I should, and without aligning it to the big picture and my talents, values, and purpose.  Geez…what do they say about a plumber always having leaky faucets?

What I am going to say next sounds like some broken record, cliché, whatever, but I just can’t help that.  It dawns on me that everything must be connected to a vision, and regardless of whether the vision is for my relationships, my health and fitness, or my businesses P&L without it I am like some lost soul wandering (I was going to say alone in the desert but it sounds way too dramatic) with no idea of where they are, or where they are going.  For this vision to be inspired or inspiring, it will link directly to my talents, purpose, mission, and values, or the very essence of who I am.

My husband and I recently went through a values clarification exercise as a way to align and support each other more completely.  We discovered that we shared one third of the values we individually selected.  We are in the process of creating some art for our family room that we will put on display as a constant reminder of what is most important to us individually and collectively. We decided to take this step before revisiting our individual vision and purpose.  Then we can look for alignment, set individual and collective goals, and update our relationship agreements.

We are in the process of working on vision and purpose and have decided to write individual letters and then share them with each other.  One way to revisit vision and purpose is to have your future-self write your present-self a letter. The subject line might be something like, My Ideal Life.  Set a timeframe of one, three, or five years.  I have done this in the past as a way to imagine what I want my world to look like when I wake up at some future place and time.  In the letter I describe in great detail things like; where I will live or work, what activities I am participating in, how my work has changed or evolved, the quality of my relationships, what I have accomplished, and so on.  In coaching circles we would call this a future-self exercise.  Really dig into the quality of the feelings this evokes in you.  And dream big…you can pull on the threads that make it both realistic and attainable if you decide to set specific goals and move in that direction.

It’s never too late to do the heavy lifting.  If you haven’t spent time reflecting on the progress you made this past year, do it now.  Get clear about what you want to create in the New Year.  Explore what matters most, identify what you have to offer, and envision a future that links those things to what the world needs now from you.

How are you checking in on both the inside and the outside to see if you are aligned?

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.


Strategic Planning Template: Year End Considerations

In Part 2 of my blog series on Reflection and Goal Setting, I examine the Six Considerations for Xponents as we prepare to leap into the New Year by remembering the best of who we are, what we have learned, and what we are hearing from others.  Use these six considerations as a strategic planning template, as you prepare for the next stage.  Next week in Part 3, I will explore what we will bring with us into the New Year and the goals that will support our ongoing growth and evolution.

  1.  Your Product/Service – At Xponents we can’t afford to rest on our laurels.  We will continue to develop our products based on what our customers need.  We determine customer s’ needs by listening to them and looking at consistent themes we see across various industries and groups.  There is clearly a call for more virtual programs to minimize travel expense.  Watch for announcements in the first quarter on which programs we have migrated onto a virtual platform.  You will also hear us talking more about The Power of Why; Bringing Vision, Values, Purpose, and Mission to Work.
  2. Your Customer – Customers are laser focused on minimizing cost while maximizing learning opportunities.  Requests for virtual programs are on the rise.  At Xponents we continue to look for ways to deliver virtually when it makes sense through the use of blogs, web conferencing, and other means.  We will also stay focused on ways to harness the rich knowledge and experience of the baby boomers and provide solutions to support developing future leaders.  The window of opportunity to address the leadership gap that the retiring baby boomers will create in the next several years is now.  I also see opportunities to enhance communication and coaching skills in managers to improve engagement, reduce turnover, and drive performance.  Many experienced managers today seem to be struggling to identify what is important to their team.  Teaching managers how to coach individual values is a huge opportunity that will dramatically impact results.
  3.  Your Message– In the New Year we will continue to be the company that facilitates authentic conversations in the workplace.  It is why our newsletter is called Exposed.  Authentic conversations are the key to building trust, focusing attention on the right priorities, and shifting behaviors that create transformational changes.  Our mission is to model that transparency and authenticity in everything we do.
  4.  Your People – During the planning process we identify developmental and training opportunities.  For myself, I budget each year to attend training for a new certification, or to enhance my skills to better serve my customers.   Each of us determines what we need to become more effective and successful, and while I can offer suggestions it is a personal decision.  I am in the process now of asking each of my team what they want or need in terms of professional development.  For myself, I’m leaning toward gaining certification for the Leadership Circle assessment this year.  I also would value attending the training by Christina Baldwin on circle dialogue.  Last year I attended facilitator training with Arnie and Amy Mindell and I would certainly benefit from more work with that amazing duo.  While there is always room for each of us to grow and develop, I feel confident that I have the right team in place to hit the ground running in 2012, both in terms of internal employees and through alliance partnerships that have been strengthened this past year.
  5.  Your Money – I made some purchases this year to update our systems and software.  We purchased a new server, two new desktops, a lap top, and an iPad.  We also updated all of our productivity software and our accounting software.  I have also been persistent in laying the foundation this year for our CRM and lead generation process.  We did have a substantial lift in revenue last year, and I credit that to improved consistency in our contact management strategy.  This will continue to be a focus for us in 2012.  We will also invest in the ASTD trade show this year, which will be in Denver May 2012.  That has proven to be a wise investment in years past.

I hope this strategic planning template will help you sort out what happens next to create even more success.   Schedule time now, and see how we can help with your strategic planning.


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.