KEEP YOUR T.I.P.S. UP — REMEMBER WHAT YOU ARE AIMING AT TODAY

IMG_3061

A number of you have asked me if I would say a few words about each of “The T.I.P.S.” (the Twelve Integrated Practices of Sparking) that I recommend as your core strategies for feeding your spark and creating a life of joy, meaning, connection and impact. I will begin that here and assemble them in one place.

I still (try to remember to) open up my T.I.P.S. document each morning and look at it before I get onto The Hamster Wheel.

Each day, the first of the T.I.P.S. I see reads:

  1. Remind Yourself Each Morning What Matters Most

As you start your day — and certainly before you begin working — REVIEW YOUR GOOD LIFE INDEX (GLI) and remember to aim at creating G.L.E.E. (the experiences of joy and meaning that fuel you that you will tuck into your “Good Life Experience Envelope”) OUT OF WHATEVER PRESENTS. I call this “Spark Surfing.” This will help you remember what you are really “after” throughout the day and will make it easier for you to avoid confusing the “means” (of what you have to do or have planned to do) with “ends” (that which you care about the most).

Then I look through my own Good Life Index, which reads as follows:

For me a successful month is a month in which I experience

I. CONNECTION

 1. FEELING THE FAMILY FLOW

 … Ease and happiness with Stacey and Tsadia together at least once a day on twenty or more days in the month.

 2. STACEY SWEETNESS

Loving heart connection with Stacey at least once a day on twenty or more days in the month.

 3. DAUGHTER DELIGHT

Loving heart connection with Tsadia at least once a day on twenty or more days in the month.

4. FEEDING FRIENDSHIPS

… The awareness of deep connection and/or the sense that I am nurturing a friendship at least once a day on twenty or more days in the month.

 5. MOMENTS OF MICRO CONNECTION

… The happiness I experience when I co-create a small moment of genuine human connection – especially a serendipitous micro-connection in an unlikely context, at least once a day on twenty or more days in the month. 

II. IMPACT

 6. GIFT GIVING

Meaning and satisfaction as I use one or more of my gifts to spark others … at least three times a day on twenty five times or more days in the month.

 7. LASTING LEGACY

… Gratification s I take at least a small step to create some sense of meaning/purpose (and relief) by writing, recording and posting, and/or otherwise sharing some idea, insight and/or story that I believe could be useful to others — if not in a lasting way — at least five times in the month.

III. JOY

 8. LOVING WHERE I LIVE

… Delightful belonging that I am “living in the right place,” (including “Beholding Beauty”) at least once a day, on sixteen or more days in the month.

 9. COMING ALIVE WITH PLAY

… Exhilaration and coming alive from play, at least once a day on eight or more days in the month

Join the Conversation Read More

The Feed Your Spark Glossary

Art credit: Alice Muhlback spiritandkitsch.com

Art credit: Alice Muhlback spiritandkitsch.com

SPARKspeak or

The Practical FEED YOUR SPARK Glossary

A.C.E. CHALLENGE

The tool I use to help people define their visions of success for their work in the world each quarter. I encourage people to articulate their vision of success in a way that would meet the “A.C.E. Challenge.” That is, while helping you “take at least a small step in the (right) direction of your “Thinking Big Three Year Vision Of Success,” your quarterly objective should be stated in a way that is Achievable, Clear and Exciting (A-C-E). To me a good indicator of “achievability” is that you have articulated it at a scale that is no smaller than would be satisfying to you, but no larger than you would stake your job on. It should be largely within your own control. “Clear” means that you would definitely be able to recognize your success when you see it. “Exciting,” means that it at least captures your own imagination.

BEST SELF

The tool and practice I use to help people cultivate one attribute in themselves (at a time) over a three-month period. The first of the Four Frames to be run in sequence before you make a decision –once you have already paused, decided if the matter at hand is a decision of consequence (see below) and if so, waited for the eight (see below). The mechanics of the Best Self are explained in “The TIPS” document. In contrast to what some people did with me on Best Self 2-25 years ago, my focus now is a “building on islands of success” approach wherein you choose an attribute of you own that is already a strength of yours, as a way to get towards how you want to be. For example, if you are expressive but want to grow in your confidence, we might have you aim at cultivating your Expressive self as a way to move towards your confident self. I can happily explain that more but will leave it here for now.

THE BIG GIVE

 A mnemonic device deriving from the letters B-G-I-V to help you remember the sequence of the Four Frames for decision-making (Best Self, Good Life Index, INGs, Vision of Success—which is your ACE Challenge, informed by your Three Year Big Picture Vision of Success).

 CLARIFYING THE QUESTION

The process I advise people to engage in before making a decision, by which they attempt to get clear about which of the many questions clamoring for their attention is the most important question to attend to next, understanding that you should make one decision at a time since the facts on the ground in your life will then change and that it is key to become adept at figuring out which is the RIGHT decision to make NEXT.

CLICK

 The notion of waiting for crisp clarity whenever possible before making a decision of consequence. As in, “did you get to the point where you really felt ‘The Click?’’ if someone says “well, I think I felt a click,” then there was NO click! J

 

DECISION OF CONSEQUENCE

The term I use to describe a decision that might well have implications for your life for seven or more days. The idea behind this is that if a given decision at hand clearly will not have implications for your life for more than seven days then you should make it quickly and make sure you don’t squander precious energy fretting about it before or after and if it might well have implications for you life for more than seven days, then you should Pause.

 DRAINERS

The activities at work or in your personal life that drain your energy most of the time.

EXPLORIMENTING

The practice of trying to balance all the intentionality of my approach with a significant openness by aiming at getting good and lost to start each day and thereby making a new discovery or having a new idea/insight.

Or

the art of making that which is right in front you new, fascinating, exhilarating and full of (possibility for) new discovery if not also beautiful.

FIRST THING, A

The practice of taking responsibility for jump starting your own spark first thing in the morning, while putting back in front of your awareness that which matters most to you by reviewing your GLI and aiming at an experience of Threefer Madness, before you get on the hamster wheel. This is NOT just “having a cup of coffee” to lift your mood, this is about lifting your spark number THROUGH activities that give you meaning and joy!

 FOUR FRAMES, THE

The term I use to collectively describe the Best Self tool, the Good Life Index, the INGs framework and the “Think Big Start Small” vision of success.

FUEL SOURCES

The name I use for each of the ten elements of your Good Life Index.

GOOD LIFE INDEX, THE

The second of the Four Frames. The tool I use to help you identify what matters the most to you (“what is truly important?”) and what is “enough” to consider a month “on track” an “successful.”

GLEE (Short For “Good Life Experience Envelope”)

The (hopefully daily) practice of noting moments you are grateful for when you feel really alive, having experienced one or more of the Fuel Sources on your Good Life Index that you are now “tucking in” to your Good Life Experience Envelope by recording on your phone or writing down somewhere you will be able to easily find it on Friday afternoon. Thus, “how do I do my work while aiming at GLEE” does not just mean “to be happy” but to create one or more of the ten fuel sources you have identified as most meaningful to you. This has big implications for how to make choices when your life is very full and time feels tight.

HIGH INGs

See “INGs.” Activities that are really energizing to you that you would say based on past experience will likely enable you to experience (co-create) a spark number of ‘8,’ ‘9,’ or ‘10’ on a 1-10 scale.

INGs

The third of the Four Frames. The tool I use to help people consider the actual activities they do at work and in the rest of their lives, with a notion of whether a given activity is really energizing. A ‘10” is an activity that will likely give you a spark number of a ‘10’ and it is so energizing you would do it for free. A ‘1’ is so draining that if you were told you would be paid a million dollars if you did this all day long every day for a year, you would not be able to do it.

MODIFIERS

A term used in connection with INGs to mean the conditions that can make a given ING become very energizing or very draining.

OPEN QUESTION

The parts of your “Three Year Thinking BIG Vision Of Success” that you do not yet feel clarity about but want to name. These get less weight in your decision making process than the parts you “know for sure.”

PAUSE

The key step in the decision-making process I recommend. This involves having the awareness to know that you are about to make a decision or that you have been called on to make a decision. The practice involves closing your mouth, assessing if the question at hand is the most important question to answer right now, then noting if it is a Decision of Consequence (see above) and if so, engaging in the Four Frames process (see above).

PST

An acronym for Possible Story Title. This means a unique word or phrase that you know you have not heard anyone else speak to you in a year and that you can imagine no human being every having spoken. See elsewhere my “Master List of PSTs” for more than 100 examples.

S.O.W. The Story of The Week

The central practice of my Feed Your Spark approach (see details under “The TIPS”) which is like a party game to help you create a sense of coherence out of your week by using a unique word or phrase you happened upon during the course of your week, to connect two or more of the significant development from your week.

This practice helps you to aim at your Good Life Index (GLI) and note GLEE and story material throughout the week, look for and share the significant developments and big juicy questions in your week and live lyrically by listening for and writing down possible story titles as you hear or see them throughout the week.

SPARK

The combination of your energy, happiness and sense of possibility.

SPARKFALL

The experience of disappointment and loss that can sometimes follow a period of extended exhilaration.

SPARK NUMBER

The practice of assessing and ascribing a 1-10 numerical value to the current state of your own spark – especially with regard to whether you are in a place where you should or should not be making a decision – including the decision as to whether or not you should open your mouth (if your spark number is below an 8).

THE T.I.P.S. (The Twelve Integrated Practices of Sparking)

The collection of the twelve practices I suggest you DO to help you thrive in your life, succeed in your work and change the world.

THREEFER MADNESS

The term I use playfully to suggest that you should aim as often as possible (which is about as often as you have the thought) at engaging in an activity that enables you to simultaneously experience three or more of the Fuel Sources on your GLI. The state of mind that comes from experiencing three or more of your Fuel Sources simultaneously.

THREE GLEE VISION

The practice of aiming in the morning at creating at least three moments of GLEE, out of whatever material presents itself in your day, no matter how challenging. This sense of surfing the save of your life is close to the essence of my practice.

WAIT FOR THE EIGHT

The practice of not making a decision about a decision of consequence until you get your spark umber back to an eight.

Copyright. The Sparks Center. 2015-2018. All rights reserved.

Join the Conversation Read More

Your Sweet Spot For Sparking Change

Saturated 3.2

 

 

 

I know that many of you are having a hard time these days figuring out how best to focus your energy to make a positive difference, given the many things that are crying out for attention.

If you try to engage with every issue that concerns you, your efforts will be neither effective nor sustainable. I am sharing with you here a simple technique I call “How To Find Your Sweet Spot For Sparking Change.”

As I shared in my recent “Hunkerers and Hankerers” post, many people are talking these days about “hunkering down,” and engaging in “self-care.” They are doing so however, with a very incomplete and even dangerously narrow understanding of self care. True self-care necessarily includes clarifying what matters most to you and taking some action in the world to express your core values, to realize your own vision of success. I am saying this not out of some ethical imperative like “everyone must do something” but just reminding you of something you have likely already experienced: that your life is juicier and more satisfying when you are Living Connection and making more possible with and for others. Taking such action helps build a sense of accomplishment and momentum and enables you to ward off the fear, sense of powerlessness, alienation and isolation that are afflicting so many.

I see many people working for change but doing so with such a hankering — a restless desire to make things better — that even taking a few moments to create personal happiness can seem like “selfishness” and a “betrayal of the cause.” When confusing or upsetting things are happening all around you, it becomes even more important — not less — to establish the most solid personal foundation possible of happiness and satisfaction.

Sparking Change, broadly speaking, is an approach to living your life that enables you to create a high level of joy, meaning and impact – that you can sustain over time. Finding your own Sweet Spot for Sparking Change is about taking action which helps you connect what you love doing, what you are most inspired to help make happen and where you have the greatest leverage.

To find your Sweet Spot For Sparking Change, draw a Venn diagram. Put thee circles inside a rectangle. At the top of the first circle put the words “Love It!” Think about what you love to do the most – which activities help you feel most joyfully alive. In my parlance these should be “INGs that are 9’s or 10’s and likely to give you ‘Threefer Madness.’” That is, please write down the most energizing activities for you — those that create a ‘10’ spark number for you while enabling you to simultaneously experience three or more of the fuel sources on your Good Life Index.

The hours you choose to put into your activism – as all the hours in your day– should ideally be spent on activities that give you energy, joy and meaning.

At the top of the second circle please put the words “Light Up!” What are you most inspired to help make happen in your community or in the world right now? I prefer this positive articulation to “what issue or issues concern or worry you the most?”

At the top of the third circle put the words “What Can I Leverage For The Greatest Impact?” In what realms do you have the optimum leverage to make an impact? Perhaps because of some talent of yours, your background, your connections. What kind of resources are abundant for you now? Who would likely heed some message you want to convey?

In the space where these three circles intersect you will find your Sweet Spot for Sparking Change.

To find my own Sweet Spot, for example, I wrote down:

What Do I Love?

Laughing with my buddy Joel and making videos, especially when we are biking or otherwise having fun outdoors and talking with other people in ways that enable me to experience my Fuel Sources of “Creating Small Moments of Micro-connection,” “Using My Gifts to Spark Others,” “Loving the Place that I Live,” “Coming Alive with Play,” “Feeding Friendship,” and “Experiencing the Delight of Beholding Beauty, and/or Enjoying some other Stimulation of my Senses.”

What Lights my Fire? What am I most inspired to help make happen in the world right now?

Creating a culture of connection

What are some of the resources I can leverage?

I have some credibility with at least a good number of the 60,000 + people I have trained and coached around the world. I have strong connections in the rather unusual combination of Ithaca, New York, Vermont and Tanzania. I have the capacity to reach many of these people and connect them through my blog and Facebook page.

My Sweet Spot for Change might therefore be riding around with Joel through the streets of Ithaca on his yellow 1969 Huffy tandem bike, playing, talking with people and making little videos of conversations we are having and connections we are creating with a diverse range of people, then sharing the little clips to invite other people (especially in Ithaca, Vermont and Tanzania) to find their own “Small Spark,” some informal, creative positive strategy to build a bridge across some real divide in our society.

Spark On!

 

Join the Conversation Read More

KEEP YOUR T.I.P.S. UP

IMG_3061

Sparking is the approach I have developed to help changemakers around the world create lives full of joy, meaning and impact.

There are T.welve I.ntegrated P.ractices for S.parking. I call these “The T.I.P.S.”

Together, these T.I.P.S. can help you boost your energy, happiness and sense of possibility, as you cultivate a life filled with what you value and enjoy most.

The twelve practices are designed to help you cultivate: clarity, mindfulness, gratitude, satisfaction, openness, connection and creativity, as you work to make a positive difference in the world efficiently and sustainably.

Each of these practices is explained in more detail in a dedicated post on this site but here is the quick overview. This post is intended as a reminder/cheat sheet for those I have already coached; I do not expect those new to Sparking to be able to take action from this post alone.

  1. Start each day with your own First Thing—an activity to take responsibility for jump starting your own spark out of your Fuel Sources, while putting back in front of your awareness again that which matters most to you and which you will aim at throughout the day ahead, before you get on the hamster wheel.*

*Note: This tip is of great importance to the Spark-etype known as “The Swinger” and unnecessary for the Spark-etype called “The Uber Sparker.” Some people are such great Natural Sparkers that they start most of their days full of energy, clarity, possibility and joy; they do not need a “First Thing.” For the rest of us, this practice can be very helpful to remember what we are aiming to create out of whatever presents itself to us throughout the day, while getting us on the most solid ground possible to start going about our business and interacting with others. I am putting in bold here the practices that I regard as valuable for everyone.

  1. Exploriment as part of your First Thing or as early in the day as you can to cultivate your openness and playfulness, in order to balance all the intentionality of the Sparking Life. In your Explorimenting you will purposefully make decisions to get out of your comfort zone; and thereby experience things with a more open, confident perspective.

Note: This tip is of great importance to the Spark-etype know as “The Planner,” who might want to aim at more openness.

  1. Review your own “Book of Sparks” the collection of your own Aha Moments, tips and practices for feeding your spark that you have built– soon after you complete your First Thing. This not only can but should include insights you have gleaned from other sources and experiences that have worked for you, as well as tips from me. As a placeholder until you create your own Book of Sparks you can use the Twelve Integrated Practices for Sparking as your interim “Book of Sparks.”
  1. As you start your day — and certainly before you begin working — review your Good Life Index (GLI) and remember to aim at creating G.L.E.E. (experiences of joy and meaning that fuel you that you will tuck into your “Good Life Experience Envelope) out of whatever presents. As you progress to what we call Next Level Sparking, you will aim at “Threefer Madness” by choosing activities that will make it as likely as possible that you will simultaneously experience three or more of the Fuel Sources on your Good Life Index. Ideally, you will experience Threefer madness for at least part of each day. If you operate with a to do list or a calendar, you should check out your GLI before leap in so you do not confuse “means” with “ends.”
  1. Aim at “3-GLEE Vision.” That is, living with the awareness that throughout the day you are looking for opportunities to create GLEE at least three times and that once a day you will reflect onand record in a way that is easy for you — the three or more experiences during the day when you felt most alive.
  1. Answer open-ended questions you are asked (such “what’s going on?” “How are you?”) with a story of the most recent moment of your G.L.E.E. that you have not yet told anyone about.
  1. Cultivate your lyrical living and positive perspective by keeping track of your “Story Material” (experiences that are NOT delightful but from which you might be able to create some meaning) and a running list of your Possible Story Titles for your Story Of The Week (S.O.W.) Remember: “PST!” (The universe is giving you a gift by whispering P.ossible S.tory T.itles to you).
  1. Review your G.L.E.E., P.S.T.s and Story Material at the same time once a week and craft your S.O.W. to celebrate and try to remember what is best and let go of the rest.
  1. Stay aware of your Spark Number (which corresponds to your energy, happiness and sense of possibility) throughout the day and make choices accordingly. This means that whenever you come back to awareness that your Spark Number has dropped below an 8 (on a 1-10 scale of your own assessment), no matter what you had thought or planned as your next task, you should immediately move to the top of your to do list the most readily available activity that will get your Spark Number back up to at least an 8 (Sparkers call this “reaching for the next highest ING”).  
  2. Steward your energy wisely by coding your to do list by ING number (the Spark Number that you think will likely result from engaging in this activity) and practice “Sudoku Scheduling” or “Sandwich Scheduling.” Remember to make sure you leave work at an 8 or higher.
  1. Practice the Four Frames approach to decision-making. This involves getting to know your own cues that tell you when you are about to make a decision and which decisions matter most, then making sure you PAUSE before making a “decision of consequence,” get your Spark Number to an 8 or higher, “clarify the question” to make sure you are attempting to answer THE question you need to answer next and THEN make your decision about your Clarified Question based on your “Four Frames” (Best Self, Good Life Index, INGs and Vision of Success, each of which is explained in a separate post on this site).
  1. Finally, in terms of the Key to Feeding Your Spark that I call “Living Connection,” greet every person you encounter as if you might never see them again or as if they might become your best friend. Either way this is THE moment to share some spark – hear a good story from them, learn from them, share something with them that matters. Any transactional encounter can be transformed into a moment of genuine human connection!

 Spark On!

 Copyright. The Sparks Center. 2015-2017. All rights reserved.

Join the Conversation Read More

Reach For The Next Highest Available ING

ing-color-correct-copy-copy-1

Art credit: Alice Muhlback http://www.spiritandkitsch.com/

Every time you have the awareness that your spark number is dropping — or has already dropped below an 8 — you should immediately “reach for the next highest available ING.” That is to say, you should move to the top of your to do list the activity you can do that will most quickly boost your spark number.

 Here are the precise steps to help you make that happen: 

* Make a list of your “These Are A Few Of My Favorite INGs” list of 50 tops INGs. See “Model INGs lists.”

* Print out and keep copies of your INGs list in several places where you often experience Sparkfall, or where you go regularly and could get a quick reminder. One person I coach keeps one copy in her office, one in her car and one in her bathroom!

* Look right down your INGs list until you find which of them would truly be “reaching for the most easily available high ING for quick Sparklift” that you could engage in RIGHT NOW where you are. One person I spoke to yesterday said she is clustering her highest INGs on her list by location of where should could do them, so that she can look through a more manageable list such as what she could if she is at home and has sparkdrop from some moment with her partner or kids, at work etc.

* Spark On!

Join the Conversation Read More

S.O.S. Challenge

Sparks are Flying Logo v2-4

Art credit: Alice Muhlback www.spiritandkitsch.com/

S.O.S. WHAT IS THE S.TATE O.F YOUR S.PARK?

Our spark – the combination of our energy, happiness and sense of possibility — goes up and down. If your spark is low and you happen to be in “Flickerer Mode”right now rather than “Beacon Mode” there is nothing to feel embarrassed about but there are some very different steps I will encourage you to take. Let’s start out with six simple questions to help you see where you are right now along the spectrum from Definitely Drained to Completely Charged and then I will share with you what to do accordingly.

Please answer each of these six questions on a 1-10 basis and then tally up your total. Drumroll, please …

  1. To what extent would you say right now that you are “really clear” about what energizes you and really energized by your work and your life?
  1. To what extent would you say right now that you are “really clear” about and experiencing each month what matters most to you?
  1. To what extent would you say right now that you feel you are living with a sense of expanding possibility and, if applicable, able to take steps at work to nurture a culture of possibility?
  1. To what extent would you say right now that you are growing, thriving and becoming the kind of person you aspire to be?
  1. To what extent would you say right now that you are “filled with a sense of gratitude” at least half the day, most days each week?
  1. To what extent would you say right now that you are able to create an interesting and inspiring story about your life every week, if not every day?

Add up your answers

If your total was 45-60, you are in what I call “BEACON” mode.

BEACONs (BRIGHTLY LIT) 45-60

People in Beacon mode often say things like:

“I feel like I got a new spark plug when I changed my work and now I am humming along.”

If your total score was 30-44, you are in what I call “YOYO” mode.

YOYOs               UP AND DOWN 30-44 points

People in YoYo mode often say things like:

“My spark varies considerably; today it’s probably bright enough to read a book by, but not enough to light a room.”

Some days or even some parts of days you feel great and then at others you can get completely thrown by life’s noise. You have a picture of yourself really energized and happy and you want to live in that mode more often. You probably feel pulled in a lot of different directions and have the sense that you don’t have a lot of time for yourself and/or do not want to be “selfish” when your family, organization and/or the world need you.

If your total score on the SOS Quiz was under 30 points you are in what I call “FLICKERER” mode. 

FLICKERERs

People in Flickerer mode often say things like:

“I’ve buried my spark.”

Someone wrote me recently and said “In my first draft of this note to you I wrote that I have a ‘limp wick’ but that didn’t sound too good so let me say instead that ‘I’m currently wrestling with my spark, and I’m not sure who’s winning.’”

Almost everyone I know and respect has been in Flickerer mode at some time or other. Being a “Flickerer” does not mean that you are “unsuccessful,” nor does it mean you will not be able to cultivate your capacity to thrive in your life and succeed in your work. It might well mean that you are taking care of everyone and everything else. WHAT ABOUT YOU?!

 

I know we are all super busy, so in addition to putting up a series of written posts this month, I will also post in audio form so that those of you who would find it easier to take in some practical and provocative ideas and inspiration while driving, cooking or sitting on the toilet will have the chance to do so.

So much more is possible.

Jeff Bercuvitz

CEO (Creator of Extraordinary Opportunities)

The Sparks Center

Join the Conversation Read More