This is the Too Many Trees newsletter, where I share what I’ve been writing and reading in the realm of leadership and personal development. My executive coaching practice is centered around the idea that we are more effective in moving towards our goals when we become more conscious and intentional in focusing our time and attention, and learn how our unconscious patterns are holding us back. If you know somebody that could benefit from my perspective, please forward this to them or let them know they can set up a free intro chat with me.

Looking ahead to 2024, and closing out 2023

December 17, 2023
I am offering a new class, Design Your 2024, starting in January, that will help you:
  • find a new path with purpose—one where you define what success means to you.
  • discover what energizes you, and using that to guide you towards a more fulfilling and sustainable life.
  • translate that clarity into goals for 2024 and beyond.
  • understand how you and others might be blocking your progress towards those goals, and what you can do about it.
  • design experiments and new behaviors that will create professional growth and personal transformation.
Whether you are feeling stuck in your career, or just want a little tuneup, this course will offer practical tips on how to be more effective and impactful while developing your calm resilience to handle what inevitably doesn't go as planned.

We will be using my book You Have A Choice: Beyond Hard Work to Meaningful Impact as a guide. You will read a chapter of the book each week and do the exercises, and then we will meet for an hour to share and exchange learnings with similarly minded seekers.
  • If you have been holding off on reading the book, or procrastinating on doing the exercises (as several readers have shared with me), this is your chance to join an accountability group to get the benefit of the learnings in the book.
  • If you've been wondering what it's like to work with me, this is an affordable introduction to my coaching, as I will be answering questions and offering coaching feedback each week to participants.
The plan is to spend 8 weeks working through the book, and we can figure out the timing that works best for those that sign up.

Email me with any questions - I'd love to have you join me!
Programming note: I will be taking the last two weeks of 2023 off for a holiday break, so look for the next edition of this newsletter to come out in mid-January.

For those paying attention, I also skipped the previous edition of the newsletter, as I had a couple rough weeks after Thanksgiving where I was solo parenting while my wife was on a work trip and then got a vicious cold the following week, and decided to do the minimum necessary rather than stress myself out to get the newsletter out. I often give my clients permission to do the minimum when they are struggling, and realized I could give myself permission as well.
As I wrap up the year, I'm already thinking ahead to what I will do in 2024 (the class I described above, a new coaching certification program, continued book promotion, perhaps a group class on becoming an effective executive). But rather than accelerate ahead to what's next, friends have reminded me to reflect on what happened in 2023 before turning the page.

It's been a rough year in many respects:
And yet, I am privileged to be able to continue my life with minimal disruption. I could still pay the bills even in a down year for my coaching, and we even took a couple big family trips. I invested the extra time from not coaching into writing and publishing a book, and built a new hobby of guesting on podcasts to promote the book.

What can you celebrate from this past year? What learnings will you take forward into 2024? I'd love to hear from you if you're willing to share.

And now for the normal personal development content…

Book-related content:
LinkedIn: These are ideas that have helped my clients (or myself), and that I share via LinkedIn to help a wider audience, and archive here.
  • How could this work? It's easy to see why a new possibility won't work, but if we succumb to that default, we never do anything new. Instead, ask yourself "What would it take to make this work?" or "This could work if..." and see if that changes your perspective on what to do next.
  • Who do you blame when things go wrong? I tend to blame myself. Some people tend to blame others. Others blame the world or systemic structures. All of these stances are incomplete, as causation is complex and includes elements of each of these. Instead of locking into any of these blaming options, we can take responsibility for our actions (and only our actions), and make new choices to try to create new outcomes. It means letting go of blame, and focusing solely on what you will do next to change the outcomes you are getting.
  • Fire fighting or fire prevention? Fire fighting is exciting and gratifying - you get the adrenaline rush and immediate positive feedback for saving the day. Fire prevention is often overlooked because nothing happens - the problems were prevented before they even became apparent. Appreciate the people who do the quiet, unsung work of fire prevention.
  • What do you want to change? When invited to give feedback, many people just complain about what happened in the past. That may feel good in the moment, but doesn't change anything. Effective feedback is about the future, creating targeted behavior change that is motivating to the recipient.
Since this newsletter is reflecting on the year that was, here are a few articles on my 2023 theme of connecting with courage and vulnerability:
  • Feeling Connected Makes Us Kind, by Nadine Lueras-Tramma in Greater Good magazine, sharing research that being reminded of community and close connections led to helping others. "These findings suggest that helping people connect with others doesn’t only benefit their own health and well-being but could benefit society as a whole." (hat tip to Experience Institute for the link)
  • The Essential Skills for Being Human, by David Brooks. "People want to connect. Above almost any other need, human beings long to have another person look into their faces with love and acceptance. The issue is that we lack practical knowledge about how to give one another the attention we crave." He offers examples of "illluminators" who "shine the brightness of their care on people and make them feel bigger, respected, lit up."
  • Spend your time doing what you want to do, a Twitter thread by Patrick OShaugnessy, in the spirit of connecting to oneself: "The best long term fuel source is some repeated act that energizes you in a way that then lets you become a generative person, who uses the energy to make things for others. A great question is "what is your renewable fuel source?"
Thanks for reading! See you in a couple weeks!
The Stateline Lookout trail in Tahoe is one of my favorites.
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