It might seem odd, but towards the end of my Master’s degree my enthusiasm was flagging. What would I do with it? How might my life change? Part of it was grief – I loved studying at Athabasca University in the Master of Arts in Integrated Studies program, focusing on education and equity studies, and while working on my thesis was pretty much all delightful something was bothering me… something was waiting to be born. Was I just going to go back to my old life? “Satisfaction Interrupted” indeed!
I was familiar with Christina Merkley’s work – mostly with her amazing graphics, but I knew enough to understand that her take on things was singular, and perhaps a bit daunting. As I looked at her course offerings I realized that her SHIFT-IT course might be the perfect way to transition to a new state. So I took a deep breath, continued on, finished my thesis, had it approved (with no corrections!) and my graduation was confirmed in early January – and, by mid-January, as it happened, I was able to give myself the gift of Christina’s SHIFT-IT program.
By then half a dozen friends wanted to do it too and we had an amazing time together, and made some new friends, and all of us SHIFTed… all of us wanted something different or more than we had, but hadn’t known how to get to what we wanted (not even those of us who were great planners for others).
Through the seven steps of SHIFT-IT, each based on interactive visuals, we identified where we were, we dreamed about where we could be if we stopped telling ourselves about what wasn’t possible, and we made plans about where we wanted to go, with whom and how. The great thing about working with graphics is that you can draw it (or I can draw it for you) and you can say “that’s not it” or “that’s exactly it!” and, really, the journey begins then and there. When we are clear about where we want to go we just naturally begin to lean there.
Over the course of the year I ended up in a Doctoral program. Two friends created the jobs of their dreams. Another friend who yearned to make art, started to draw and has gone on to be a graphic recorder. Another finished the book they always wanted to write. And our new friends in the SHIFT-IT course were working on their own dreams and actualizing them.
I was hooked. I wanted to spend as much time with Christina as I could and learn about how she worked, as a coach, a graphic facilitator and a high tech teacher with, as the Joker says of Batman, “such marvellous toys.” I went on to take two more courses with her, the second of which was learning how to use the SHIFT-IT methods as a coach myself. I then passed Christina’s rigorous training and exams and am now proud to be a Certified Visual Coach myself.
Christina’s base graphics, developed and honed out of years of working with people, form a great structure for me to work with you on moving from a state of dis-satisfaction through various reflective and planning processes and finally into “Ink It Don’t Just Think It” – a kind of personalised graphic that summarises what you will do, when, and how. There are other planning faciliation processes I’ve been involved in for years and years, and I have to say this is more demanding.
I also think it is incredibly rewarding for the right person at the right time.
I have not worked with anyone who hasn’t interested me hugely as we move towards clarity and then action, but I do have some areas of specialization that might be of interest:
Diverse Populations – I’ve used SHIFT-IT with people with disabilities and their family members. As one of two dads in a LGBTQ family I am particularly interested in folks like us.
Leadership for Social Good – as a veteran innovator with three decades of experience developing programs, designing curricula, supporting staff teams, mentoring leaders, engaging communities (including entrepreneurs) and trying to push the envelope of what’s possible and sustainable I am really excited by a new set of tools to use in support of all kinds of leaders.
Academic Planning – I love research methodologies and helping people plan successful completion of graduate work. There can seem like a lot of reasons to let go of a dream of a degree, and we can turn them all around!
If this is exciting to you, and if you’re just feeling like this might be the place and time and partnership you’ve been looking for, please contact me for a free half hour consultation!