My experience collaborating with people using visuals for all the reasons portrayed above has convinced me that visuals have the power to shift our worlds at work, at home and in our bodies. When our understanding of something changes, we change. Wait, visuals? What do I mean by visuals? There are many ways to think about visuals: from fine art (be it photography, painting, or drawing) to crafting (hello collagers and quilt makers) to doodling on the scribbled cafe napkin (or drawing on a whiteboard at work) where one colleague describes a problem with drawn images. While these are all valid and help to open our lens of knowing, I'll focus on the last - hand-drawn work to convey something clearly or as a mode of problem-solving. Drawing things out can be the next big skill you take on! My goal is not to have you creating beautiful images. (Although that may happen.) In our modern societies we believe that drawing should be left to the experts with years of art training and experience. Noooooo!!! This activity belongs to every one of us. The value of drawing can be had with the goal you give it - you draw to explain an idea, to find the kink in a process, to add more context to what you mean, or to solve a big, daunting challenge. Opportunity arises when you are in the middle of drawing or discussing a drawing and someone says, 'I don't get it!' or 'It's not clear to me.' These are the best possible responses to hear. They bring the conversation alive letting you know to try another angle and ask more about how they see it. Then you're on your way to true dialogue instead of a mind numbing download of what’s in your mind. You move into a new social space and start to talk without misguided assumptions that you understand each other instantaneously. I invite you to try drawing your next big idea or the next challenge you come across. Draw it out! While you draw it out, think about the environment and what surrounds the idea/challenge as well as all the players and what's at the core! Notice what happens.
A decision to go for it. A tight time frame. Jumping in....
On a second call, sensing a frustration with the immensity of the task and how to go about it, I asked, 'Have you thought of drawing out your overall vision - literally?'
'It's not about creating something beautiful, it's about seeing your own point staring back at you. I find it really helps to make some marks on a page that help me see connections and the space in between, especially when doing a strategic planning initiative like you're jumping into. It can be a great place to start. Then we can make your thoughts into illustrations you can use to share your ideas.'
"I never thought about it that way. I think I'll try it.... "
These were some of the illustrations we created together, as we thought and talked strategically about shifts toward real-world experiences needed in education.
What we really need to learn (as students + teachers +...) is active citizenship!
It's incredible when someone else takes what feels like a risk (hello vulnerability!) and draws out what they are thinking. You can literally see and feel the way visuals can support us through the struggle of thinking something through! To run with the power of visuals is to have the ability to unlock new information - literally. I'm always humbled by visuals as I see this happen over and over!
In my client's words, "The images allowed me to be me and share with my energy and personality. Using visuals removed the barrier that written words can be during presentations. Ahead of the session, the illustrations pushed me to clarify the concepts and feelings I wanted to convey because I knew that there would be no words to prompt me. I think preparing in this way helped me to practice more effectively and convince my listeners that I create impact in my work. The illustrations also made me feel like there was an element in what I was sharing that set me apart, so, they boosted my confidence too."
THANKS for being such an awesome client and sharing your story with me! I love to hear stories of how visuals worked (or didn't!) for you. Reach out and share your story with me.
ALSO, I am excited to be building a longer term program to support deeper visual practice and learning. I plan to launch after the May DRAW it OUT workshop, and the May workshop (or another in person workshop) will be a part of the course (which will have a 3 month, 6 month and 9 month option). We'll see how it unfolds! Stay tuned!