Archive by Author

Jul 04

An article I wrote for the Annex Consulting newsletter about David Allen’s Getting Things Done® (GTD®) methodology was published earlier today is now available on the Technically Simple blog.

GTD has had a profoundly positive impact on my life, both personally and professionally. The story of my introduction to GTD was published on the David Allen Company’s blog, GTD Times in 2009 and I was interviewed by David Allen himself later that year as part of the “In Conversation” series.

I recently shared the benefits of this approach with the International Coach Federation (ICF), Vancouver Chapter and with an enthusiastic group of coaches and consultants at a local Meetup.com gathering. Through my coaching business, Coaching Life, I work with people to navigate GTD and to develop their own systems. My consulting business, Technically Simple, has a strong focus on productivity and I provide consultant and training in Mac® and iOS® technologies that are designed to implement GTD – specifically OmniFocus and Daylite.

Read the Full Article

May 19

I’m excited to announce that I’ll be hitting the airwaves this Saturday afternoon at about 12:30pm Pacific Time as a guest on the The Dr. Anne Marie Evers Show. Dr. Evers is a best selling author of many books on the power of affirmations and co-authored Wake Up and Live the Life you Love in Spirit with Dr. Deepak Chopra and Dr. Wayne Dyer.

I’ll be talking with Dr. Evers about my 2008 journey through cancer and focusing on the role that positive thinking and gratitude played in my healing journey.

If you’re in the Seattle area you can listen to the show on KRWM, 106.9 HD Channel 3. The show can also be heard live on the Internet by visiting the Contact Talk Radio website and clicking the Listen Now button. The show starts at 12pm Pacific Time and my interview will be from about 12:30 until 1pm.

May 06

Technically Simple LogoI’m excited to announce that I’ve just relaunched my consulting company, Technically Simple. I originally founded Technically Simple way back in 2003 and, working with business partners and contractors, have had the pleasure of working with a wide range of clients to develop marketing strategies and have seen many websites from concept to fruition.

The next chapter of  Technically Simple’s evolution is focused on providing consulting, training and education with the intention of making the benefits of technology available to everyone in a friendly and accessible way.

I’ve always had a fascination with technology and continue to see its potential to make life easier and more creative for us humans. Ironically, many people see technology as a source of stress rather than a trusted sidekick. So what’s missing?

Choosing the appropriate technology is an important first step that is often overlooked. There is a lot of marketing hype and false promises around technology and one of Technically Simple’s roles is to act as an advisor and point to well designed solutions. In the near future I’ll be launching the Technically Simple Approved™ program. This seal of approval will be given to technologies that are well designed, reliable and genuinely make people’s lives easier and more productive.

With the appropriate technology in place, it’s important to establish clear workflows and to configured the chosen technology to support these workflows. Equally important is that people using the software be well educated on how to use it effectively and on potential pitfalls. I very much enjoy this sort of work and it draws upon many years experience as a project manager and on my passion for David Allen’s Getting Things Done® (GTD®) methodology, that has had a profoundly positive impact on me, both personally and professionally.

Partnerships with Marketcircle and MINDBODY

I recently established partnerships with two outstanding companies.

Marketcircle has been in business since 1999 and has an outstanding business productivity manager called Daylite that is well suited for single to medium sized Mac-based businesses. I’m a Daylite Certified Partner and am here to help you and your organization get up and running with Daylite or to fine-tune your existing installation.

I’m equally thrilled to be a MINDBODY Business Partner. MINDBODY has a web-based studio management solution that is used by yoga centres, health clubs, martial arts studios, spas and more literally all over the world. It’s a highly flexible solution that manages everything from client accounts to product inventory. I have a passion for fitness, yoga, martial arts and health and wellness in general and am excited to be bringing the benefits of technology to individuals and organizations in this sector.

More Information

I invite you to check out Technically Simple’s new website: technicallysimple.com. I’ve also written a blog post that provides more information on where we’ve been…and where we’re going.

Oct 17

A Snapshot of Your Life

If you’ve ever worked with a life coach, you’re likely intimately familiar with the “Wheel of Life”. For those of you who are new to this concept, the Wheel of Life is a coaching tool that allows you to take a visual snapshot of your life as it exists in the present moment.

Life is, by it’s very nature, multifaceted. The most powerful and lasting approaches to growth and healing encompass all aspects of your being. Taking stock of your life and acknowledging and accepting where you are right now is a requisite first step to engaging in transformation.

The Wheel of Life includes all major areas of life, typically: career, money, health, friends & family, significant other/romance, personal growth, fun & recreation and physical environment.

Wheel of Life

The exercise is to assign a rating from one to ten for each of these areas. A score of one indicates that you’re thoroughly unsatisfied in this area and a score of ten indicates that this part of your life is off-the-charts amazing. And, there’s all the scores in between, with five often being expressed as an uninspired “fine”. A common trap is to label lower scores as “bad” and higher score as “good”. I encourage you to approach this exercise from a very neutral place and accept life exactly as it exists in the present. The ancient yogis called this “Santosha” – contentment with the way things are.

“Career” in Modern Times

I frequently remind my coaching clients (and myself) that the labels associated with the Wheel of Life are arbitrary. If a specific term doesn’t fit it can always be substituted with a different, more empowering label. The goal is to create an all-encompassing view of life and not to fit a pre-defined mould.

The one label that has never really worked for me is “career”. I have struggled over the years to define my career, with varying levels of success and plenty of frustration. I’ve discovered that I’m not the only one who faces this dilemma.

In the past, a common scenario was that you’d receive an education in a given field and then spend the next 25 years or more working in that area, perhaps even for the same company. For better or worst, our modern life doesn’t always work that way. Our world is changing at such a rapid rate that industries that existed twenty, or even ten years ago may already be yesterday’s news.  And we’re exposed to a wealth of information and have many opportunities to learn that simply didn’t exist in years past. The result is that it’s common to have several different “careers” over the course of our lives and many of us are in a seemingly constant state of learning and training.

The concept of “career” doesn’t work the way it used to. Perhaps it’s time for a new paradigm.

Introducing the Wheel of Life Work™

Earlier this year I started working with a talented and highly creative coach, Phil Askew. During one of our calls I mentioned my challenges around the word “career”. As an experiment, we substituted career with a term which fit much more naturally – “life work”.

I believe  that each of us has a purpose for being here on the planet and that we each have unique gifts to offer. Our level of happiness and fulfillment is proportional to the degree to which we’re able to live this purpose and share these gifts (I’m tempted to insert a mathematical formula and graph at this point, but I’ll resist).

There’s a practical side to life that requires us to earn money in order to support ourselves and our family…and perhaps indulge in some of the finer things in life. Ideally the work that you get paid for is completely in alignment with your life work. This isn’t always the case and, especially in earlier stages of life, your purpose and “life work” may be somewhat (or completely) undefined.

As a minimum, hopefully your paid employment satisfies at least some aspects of your life work. And with a little creativity this is almost possible, regardless of circumstances. Those aspects that aren’t met by a traditional career can still be cultivated in other areas of your life, with or without financial gain. Sometimes rewards for carrying out your life work can exist in the form of fulfillment or as an experience of deep connection with the world around you.

So how does the Wheel of Life Work apply in practical terms? Read on.

My Wheel of Life Work

To further illustrate this concept, here’s my own Wheel of Life Work as it exists today:

Wheel of Life Work - Tim Stringer

In my case, I came up with eight personas and gifts that bring great fulfillment and allow me to make a positive contribution to the world. Some of these exist as part of paid work, while others aren’t attached to a financial income stream, yet bring great joy. In my case, I’ve discovered that the specifics of the work I’m doing is less important than the results that are created. For example, as a public speaker I enjoy engaging a group in a way that leaves them inspired and willing to look at their life in a new, positive light. The specific topic of the speech is less important than the impact that is delivered.

I’ve also noticed that none of the areas of my Wheel of Life Work exist in isolation. For example, as a Technology Consultant I’m motivated to share ways in which technology can be used to bring positive changes to our lives and our communities. I might express this enthusiasm and knowledge as a Writer, Teacher or Workshop Leader and may draw upon my training as a Yoga Teacher to inject some ancient yogic wisdom into the conversation.

I frequently revisit my Wheel of Life Work to ensure that each of these areas is getting “fed”. If an area is being neglected I put a plan in place to shift this area. I also use the Wheel of Life Work when evaluating new employment opportunities. If the opportunity doesn’t satisfy at least a few segments of my Life Work it’s time to look elsewhere.

Now It’s Your Turn…

Enough about me. Now it’s your turn to explore your own Wheel of Life Work.

Set aside some quiet time – 20-30 minutes will likely be sufficient – and define the various facets that make up your own life work. It’s useful to look back on your life and identify moments where you felt particularly fulfilled and content. These could be moments spent in the context of a job or they could be activities you’ve pursued for the sheer enjoyment they bring.

The key here is not to over-think the process. Often the first thought that pops into your head is the most relevant one. It may help to do this exercise with a coach or a friend. Let their curiosity around your life work help you clarify the various activities and roles that light you up and are aligned with your core essence. In some cases, it’s as much about your gift of being as your talents at doing. For example, you may have an enthusiasm that is contagious to everyone around you or your mere presence may instil a sense of calm.

Your labels may exist as personas, as mine did, or they may be more topical in nature. For example, sustainability and the environment may be a key component of your life work. You may come up with eight facets, or you may have more…or fewer. There may be some aspects that are crystal clear, while others may be foggy or even invisible at this stage. Identifying what is clear is a good first step that can allow clarity in the other areas to unfold naturally. It’s also important to keep in mind that none of this is cast in stone. Allow yourself the freedom to evolve your Wheel of Life Work over time.

Once you identify the various facets of your Wheel of Life Work, rate each of them on a scale from one to ten based on your current satisfaction in each area. Imagine what each area would look like if it were a ten – even if the means to achieving this level of satisfaction is unclear.

To help ground this exercise, take three areas from your Wheel of Life Work and commit to the rating you’d like to have in each of these areas three months from now. The key is to come up with measurable indicators. For example, if you currently aren’t putting any significant energy into a key part of your life and rate it at at two – a measurable quality that would make it a five might be that you’re spending two hours a week in this area or have identified jobs that would feed this part of your work life.

Creating accountability is a key aspect of coaching. I encourage you to share your Wheel of Life Work and goals with a friend or coach. And, if you’re feeling particularly brave, share a summary of your discovery in the comments below. Publicly revealing your gifts and ambitions can be a powerful way of setting the stage for a fulfilling life.

Sep 06

Tomorrow and Tomorrow and TomorrowProcrastination is one of those words that, for many, elicits feelings of guilt and powerlessness. I love tearing apart scary words and looking at what they really mean. This word has reportedly been part of our English vanacular since Shakespeare’s time and, roughly translated from its Latin roots, means “push it forward…because this belongs to tomorrow”.

Consider that there’s nothing inherently wrong with procrastinating and that sometimes it’s very much appropriate to push something forward to tomorrow. On the flipside, it’s important to remember that our human existence only affords us so many tomorrows and that by putting important things off indefinitely we’re depriving ourselves of the joy and fulfillment that accomplishments can bring. Issues that we face on a global scale, notably the health of our planet, have a very timely component and there’s a real cost to inaction.

My deepest learning around procrastination came in a less than subtle form. In the summer of 2008 I was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer and there were times when I wondered if I would live to see Christmas. A wave of sadness fell over me as I faced the possibility of not having many more tomorrows and I became mindful of all the things that I wished that I’d done over the past forty years. Fortunately I ended the year with a clean bill of health…and a new lease on life.

All of this begs the question. Why do we procrastinate? Fear is often a key component. There’s the fear of failure and the embarrassment that that might follow, and the lesser recognized fear of success – hiding out in the shadows might be more of a challenge once the world witnesses how amazing you are. Procrastination is also a common reaction when something feels too big or when the path to our dreams is unclear. And sometimes the things we put off are just not that important.

The first step to overcoming procrastination is to look your reasons square in the eye. Sometimes the source of the resistance is not obvious and it helps to talk with a friend or work with a life coach to clearly see your patterns. Bringing awareness to your reasons puts you in a place of choice.

Taking things on in life can be scary and uncomfortable and I invite you to move boldly forward, staying mindful of what’s at stake. If something seems too big, consider taking one small step, even if the rest of the path is unclear, and invite others to share your journey. Let go of things that aren’t important, be kind to yourself and be weary of that deamon called “perfection”.

In the words of Mark Twain – “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

Originally printed in Winds of Change Newsletter, Summer 2010
Photo by Andreanna Moya Photography

Aug 29

A Simpler Time

At the risk of dating myself, I have vivid memories of a “simpler” time when there was no voicemail or e-mail.  When the only “spam” you had to deal with was the occasional flyer that would show up in the mailbox. If you didn’t make it to the bank by closing time on Friday you had no cash for the weekend and if you wanted to take a trip somewhere you went to the local mall and leafed through glossy brochures under the guidance of a travel agent. Wondering what’s going on in the world? Your options were to stroll down to the local news stand or wait for the six o’clock news to air on the radio or television.

The Rise of Modern Technology

I watched the introduction of the first calculators and personal computers with a child-like wonder (not surprisingly, as I was a child at the time). I can remember getting up bright and early to spend fifteen minutes with one my school’s few Commodore PET computers and even getting my hands on a SuperPET or an Apple II on occasion. I was thrilled when my Dad brought his Hewlett-Packard calculator home for the weekend and managed to program it to accept input and print the results of calculations on paper tape.

The Great Debates

I remember all the debates that sprang up at the time. With the advent of technologies like instant tellers, there was one group who were purveyors of doom and gloom – who were adamant that modern technology would lead to wide-spread unemployment. After all, why would a bank hire a teller when a  machine could do their work for a fraction of the cost? At the other end of the spectrum, proponents of these modern trends pointed to all the new jobs that would be created to satisfy the world’s hunger for technology. They were also quick to point out that computers are well suited to mundane, repetitive tasks that nobody enjoys doing anyway. Automating these tedious tasks would mean that us humans would have and abundance of time to enjoy the finer things in life – music, art, literature.

As a wide-eyed teenager in the seventies I was firmly in the second camp. I’m a naturally creative person and saw modern technology as a vehicle with great potential – an opportunity to expand my world and stretch the limits of my imagination. My intrigue led me to pursue a degree in Electrical Engineering with a Computer Systems Engineering focus and to employment as a software developer and project manager on varied and complex software projects.

Welcome to the Future

I’m in awe at how far technology has come in a very short time. In many ways, it has far exceeded the prophecies of the seventies. Technology that, not long ago, was the stuff of science fiction is readily available to the average consumer. Boggling amounts of up-to-date information is accessible at the click of a button and communication, even to the other side of the planet, happens in a blink of an eye and often without a second thought.

Even as I marvel at our technological world, I also witness lives that are out of control and hear stories of excessive stress and overwhelm. It’s all to easy to become distracted by all the “noise” and it’s equally easy to become obsessed with all the tools we have at our disposal for connecting and communicating. If anything, life feels more complicated than it was in the seventies and, especially in our Western culture, I’ve noticed that there’s less emphasis placed on core human values and the finer things in life.

Fast Forward and Out of Control

So, what happened? Why all the stress? I see two core issues at the source of our woes. First of all, a high level of personal discipline is required in order for technology to serve us and not end up being a source of stress. Having a lot of power and information at our fingertips is, in some ways, akin to having a mountain of financial wealth. Sadly people who win lotteries too often don’t go on to live happy and prosperous lives. In fact it’s quite the opposite – their lives tend to be ruined as they don’t have the capacity to deal with their new-found wealth. There’s nothing inherently wrong with having money, just as there’s nothing inherently wrong with having access to technology. What is often missing is a balanced and constructive way of relating to this abundance.

The other core issue is that people generally aren’t taught how to use technology effectively. Instead we tend to be thrown into the middle of it all and are somehow supposed to figure out how all the parts fit together. Add in the myriad of marketing promises, many of them grossly overstated, and it’s not surprising that modern technology has led to so much confusion. People are worried about being left behind and not sure which “band wagon” to board.

Technological Bliss

I feel called to serve in both areas. I have been practicing yoga and meditation for the past fifteen years and teaching since 1999 and see how this ancient technology is needed more than ever in our modern civilization. Getting in touch with our core essence and developing mental discipline is key to not only surviving, but thriving in this fast-paced world we inhabit. A strong sense of self is more important than ever and is something that needs to be cultivated.

I’m also professionally trained as a coach. It’s not surprising that this professional has grown significantly in the wake of our technology advancements. Working with a coach can foster creativity and clarity and can be a powerful way to maintain focus in a world that is full of temptations and distractions.

The world of technology is frequently and appropriately referred to as a jungle. It’s an exciting space to be in and one that can easily become disorienting and uncomfortable to the uninitiated. Having grown up in the technology jungle, I feel well equipped to act as a guide and strive to help others feel at home while experiencing the marvel of this brave new world. This quest exists at a very practical level – as a guide my mission is to separate the substance from the hype and demonstrate, largely by example, how freeing technology can be. The jungle can be a dangerous place and I’m equally committed to pointing out the pitfalls along the way.

Your Humble Sherpa

This officially marks the beginning of a series of blog posts that delve more deeply into both areas. I’m not sure where this will go, which makes the journey all the more exciting. I’ll talk about specific technologies, with the focus being on how they can be used to make life fuller and richer, rather than on the technology itself. I’ll give plenty of practical examples from my own life and I encourage you to share your own experiences and wisdom.

Care to join me?

Jun 14

I’m excited to announce that I’ve invited to be a guest on Drishti Point, “Vancouver’s Yoga Radio Talk Show”, on Monday, June 21 from 5-6pm. This will be my first live radio experience! I’m very much looking forward to hitting the air waves and feel honoured to have been asked.

I’ll be talking about my journey through cancer from the perspective of a yoga teacher and student. Specifically I’ll share the profoundly positive impact that my training as a yogi had a on my healing process and the role that my yoga communities, or sangats as they’re sometimes called, played in my miraculous recovery. I’ll also share some of the many lessons and insights that my bout with cancer has taught me.

If you’re in the Vancouver area, tune your radio to 102.7 FM to listen in. You can also listen to the show live at www.coopradio.org. Thanks in advance for tuning in and I welcome any feedback you have!

Feb 28

Something from my training with Landmark Education that has stuck with me over the years is the power of being unreasonable. What do I mean by being unreasonable? It’s very simple – it’s all about having reasons not to do something…and then doing it anyway.

Sometimes there are perfectly valid reasons for not taking something on. For example, if I were about to set out on a road trip and learned that there’s freezing rain in the short-term forecast I’d likely choose to change my travel plans. I’ve driven in freezing rain before and know how hazardous this condition can be. In this case my reason for staying put is based on valuable experiences from the past.

I’m going to focus on the other type of reasons that keep us from cruising down the highway of life – those reasons that are born out of ingrained patterns stemming from events in our pasts and cultural conditioning. Sometimes these patterns are so subtle that we’re not even aware of the reasons that are holding us back. By bringing a heightened level of awareness to our actions and inactions there’s an opportunity to experience life at a whole new level and to serve as a role model for others.

When I think about being unreasonable in my own life one example that comes to mind is my decision to participate in the Ride to Conquer Cancer in 2009, a 260km (160 mile) cycling trip from Vancouver to Seattle to raise money for the BC Cancer Foundation. What made this decision particularly unreasonable is that at the time I was going through an aggressive course of chemotherapy and was facing a major surgery. Some days I barely had enough energy to walk more than a few steps and wasn’t even completely sure that I was going to survive long enough to even attempt this athletic challenge. I had a laundry list of reasons not to register and went ahead and registered anyway. Having the boldness to register induced feelings of optimism and excitement. I committed to training for this challenge and to honouring my health throughout the process. All that I really had to lose was the registration fee and perhaps an ounce of pride.

Within weeks of completing my cancer treatments I enlisted the services of a personal trainer and began the process of getting back into shape. It was slow going at first, but I gradually started to feel my strength come back and continued to focus on my goal. After being given the thumbs up from my oncologist I set out on my cycling journey with 1,700 other unreasonable people. I’ll never forget the feeling of exhilaration that I experienced as I crossed the finish line and hope that my personal victory served to inspire others who come face-to-face with cancer.

I continue to practice being unreasonable and continue to reap the rewards. Sometimes it’s something as simple as having a conversation with someone that I had reasons not to have and saying “yes” to something that takes me outside my comfort zone. I’m inspired to create positive change in the world and realize that this is an inherently unreasonable ambition. All the more reason to continue practicing being unreasonable.

The next time you notice yourself feeling stuck I invite you to take a good look at the reasons that are holding you back. Assuming there’s no freezing rain in the forecast, why not set aside your reasons and notice what’s possible once they’re out of the way? And then boldly move forward and experience the freedom and fulfilment of life on the open road.

Jan 16

To support the people of Haiti in healing and rebuilding following the devastation of Tuesday’s earthquake I’m donating all proceeds from my next two Monday evening Kundalini Yoga classes (January 18 and 25) to the CMAT (Canadian Medical Assistance Teams). Both classes will include a healing circle meditation – an opportunity to send healing to Haiti at a more spiritual, energetic level.

A member of the Yoga West sangat (spiritual community) is flying to Haiti on Sunday with the CMAT to help set up a self-contained field hospital and to treat the victims of the disaster. I acknowledge him for his courage and willingness to serve and am happy to support this initiative. As an added bonus, the Government of Canada will be matching all donations made to the CMAT.

Please see my yoga classes page for more information on the Monday evening Kundalini Yoga class and please feel free to contact me if you have any questions. If you are unable to attend the class, but would still like to support the CMAT you can make a donation through their website: www.canadianmedicalteams.org.

Photo by American Red Cross – http://flic.kr/p/7w4Chp

Dec 14

Atimi SoftwareI’m pleased to announce that I recently joined the management team at Atimi Software. Atimi is a company of about 65 people that provides software development services, with extensive expertise in developing Macintosh, cross-platform and iPhone software. As the Director of Desktop Sales my main focus is on Macintosh and cross-platform development projects, though I’ll have also have some involvement on the iPhone side of things.

I’ve been a big fan of the Macintosh pretty much since the day one was dropped on my desk in the early 1990’s. I went on to develop Macintosh software for six years and later moved into management roles. Over the years I worked for graphic companies in Ottawa, Gatineau in Dublin and my corporate experience includes an eight-year stint at Corel Corporation. In recent years I owned and operated a marketing and technology consulting firm called Technically Simple.

I’m excited to have taken on this new challenge at Atimi Software. I’m working with a fun, enthusiastic and talented group of people and the position makes good use of both range of technical and business skills.

p.s. On a side note, please contact me if you or anyone you know might be interested in contracting Atimi Software’s services.