Season’s Greetings!










Dave and I wish you all the best this holiday season! May 2018 bring joy, abundance and peace!

How to Set Boundaries Without Drama

One of my favorite talks is How to Lead When You’re Feeling Burned Out and inevitably the timing of the talk coincides with me needing to practice what I preach! I gave the talk several times this past fall and most of the questions the audience asked came back to boundaries, albeit phrased like “These are all great tips but how do you do this when it’s impossible to say no and take time for myself?”

And then I found myself in the middle of having to say no and I too thought it was impossible … at least to begin with 😉 I realized that there were four things I needed to figure out:

  1. What were the competing values I was dealing with? In my case it was a competing value between my own health and wanting to keep a client happy. My tendency is to keep a client happy and deal with my own health later, but I know (and tell others!) that this is not a good long term strategy. So I got clear that it’s ok for me to value my health over my client’s happiness and that became my guiding value.
  2. Whose monkey was it? William Oncken’s brilliant metaphor of collecting monkeys, which are tasks or problems that we take on for various reasons that rightly belong to someone else, became very relevant. This piece of work that had grown into a rather large monkey did, in fact, belong to my client, not me. Sometimes the ownership of the monkey may not be as clear, but in those cases, it’s ok to ask someone who also has a partial ownership in the monkey to take it on (especially if that other person has not properly looked after that monkey in the past!)
  3. What feelings was I experiencing? I was stressed and frustrated but digging deeper, I realized I was a bit resentful. Feeling resentful comes from not being appreciated or being taken advantage of. This can happen when we impose “I should do this in order to be a good ___” or by someone else imposing their expectations on us. Getting clear on our feelings and, in particular, tuning into resentment can alert us to the fact that we need to set a boundary.
  4. What fears were surfacing? I was afraid that if I set a boundary my client would be upset, think less of me and then I would never get another contract ever from anyone else! I know that sounds irrational as I type it but these are the sorts of irrational fears that often prevent us from setting a boundary. In this case, I was able to get some perspective and realize that, given everything, it was doubtful this would happen and even if it did, it would not directly lead to no contracts ever! Often we don’t set boundaries because we are afraid a relationship will end. In that case, we need to ask ourselves if this is a healthy relationship to be in!

Working through these four things allowed me to set a boundary in a direct, respectful and grounded way. I was able to use my guiding value for why I could not complete this work and I did so from a place of confidence instead of frustration or resentment. Boundaries without drama has become my mantra!

Written by Tammy

What it Takes to Say Yes

say yes

A common coaching question is “what would it take to say yes to [fill in the blank]? In my particular case, it was saying yes to a book.  I have wanted to write a book since I became a high school English teacher at 24. I thought it would be a novel, and then as the years wore on and I changed careers many times, I thought it would be something non-fiction, probably around leadership or teams. I have come up with many book titles and even drawn up outlines for books but have never quite got there until now.

So what did it take for me to say yes to a book? A few rather interesting discoveries, thanks to the conversations with my brilliant book coach, Danielle Pope, my equally as brilliant husband, Dave Whittington and my equally as brilliant friend, Claire Abbott:

  1. That the book was writing me, not the other way around.  When I started the book, I had a vague idea about what I was going to say, but mainly the idea just wouldn’t go away. I needed to give it some time and energy and learn about the book by writing it.
  2. As an adult educator, I think and am energized by developing and facilitating learning. So the first draft of my book was actually an e-learning course, followed by a one day workshop. That was a major “ah-ha” for me and fundamentally shifted my energy about writing.
  3. Related to the above, that a book could start small (a 7 day e-learning course) and evolve into a full length book.
  4. That writing a book is different from any other type of work I do and I couldn’t do it at my desk! I was too distracted by “real work” and couldn’t focus. I actually had to go to another environment to turn the e-learning course into the first draft of a book.
  5. That finding my voice for the book meant overcoming several inner demons related to the last time I wrote something substantial, my PhD dissertation.
  6. That I had to give myself permission to write the first draft as if no one else would ever read it. Until I made that discovery, I edited almost everything I wrote or stared at a blank page.
  7. That I cannot write in dribs and drabs as recommended by lots of people. I could not get up early and write a few hours a day. I needed to delve into the book and make it my sole focus for a period of time.
  8. And the most challenging discovery of all … I had to say no to paid work. I set aside weeks in my calendar and then would get calls to do work and would take the work. The hardest thing I have ever done is prioritize the book. I had to tell myself that writing a book was as important as my “real work” and actually invest time and money (as I went away to The Haven on Gabriola Island, a great place to write by the way.) I realized that saying no was an absolutely critical part of getting this book written, and while this was the biggest no, there were others.

And so, whatever your dream might be, I encourage you to find a few folks who will continue to ask “What would it take to say yes to  ….?”

Oh and I almost forgot … the book is called How to Forgive your Boss and should be published this fall.  Contact me or watch this space for how you can get your copy!



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For those of you who have been subscribing to our blog, a big THANK YOU. You may have noticed it has been some time since I blogged here and that’s because I have been creating a new site for all of the visuals. I will continue to blog daily, but now it will be done at (visually (pix) inspired (pired). Head on over to subscribe to the RSS feed, a daily email and download a free reflective leadership journal. Hope to see you there!


Developing Personal Resilience

I recently noticed that this resource got lost in our web site’s latest reorganization. So here it is again …

This isn’t the only path to personal resilience, but these five practices provide a common-sense approach that is easy to understand and realistic to apply. Please note that because we deliver this presentation in a number of contexts and formats, what you see here may differ from what you experienced in the workshop you attended.

Link to presentation at and the handout (one page word doc) that goes with the presentation.

Know Yourself

Get clear about your strengths, develop your emotional intelligence, live your values and confront your self-limiting beliefs.

Set Clear Goals

We need really clear goals. This isn’t news: “Our plans miscarry because they have no aim. When a man does not know what harbour he is making for, no wind is the right wind”. Lucius Annaeus Seneca (4BC – 65AD). We need short term goals so that we can measure progress and we need long term goals so that we know which direction to head in.

What’s your long-term BHAG? What are your short-term SMART goals? And what’s on your stop doing list, to make space for the good stuff?

Lighten Up

Most of the truly successful people I have met seem to be having fun. They have a sense of humour, they don’t take themselves very seriously and they laugh a lot. It’s often difficult for us to find humour in the world around us, but we need to find it, and share it with others whenever we can.

Give yourself a break. Take time to connect with friends and family. Find ways to have fun at work. How can you maintain a positive attitude?


Viktor Frankl makes it sound so easy – “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing, the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances.”

We need to stick at it. We need to work on these practices continually, until they become a habit. Changing habits takes time and there is no instant fix. This is a lifelong exploration. We need to deliberately and consistently put effort into building resilience. This means scheduling time for ourselves to do the reflective work we need to do.

Embrace Paradox and Uncertainty

Uncertainty is one of the biggest stressors for some people. The clever folks who study complexity say increases as the pace of change increases and the level of interconnectivity increases. Our work and our society are destined to become ever more complex and unpredictable.

Asking stupid, insulting questions

I am a huge movie buff and really appreciate great talent, and so it is with utter bewilderment to me that reporters ask such insulting questions. Kudos to Jennifer Lawrence for handling herself with such authenticity and humour. We could all learn a few lessons from her!


Tell a different story

The way we talk about our situations really does contribute to the outcome. What are your “favorite” stories and how do they help or hinder you?


Enjoy every moment


The heart of anxiety

Well today’s blog is not all that inspiring but hopefully it provides you with some insight. It’s adapted from one of Chip Conley’s emotional equations. When I am able to truly live in the present, my anxiety does fade into the background.


Heading for the clouds

Just last month marked the 21st anniversary of the first Canadian woman in space, Roberta Bondar. I can’t imagine what that would have been like!