My New Book Living More Than OK

My New Book Living More Than OK
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Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Empowered By Our Past and Genograms

In the past I have mentioned that as a believer in life long learning, I enjoy learning at conferences. Last week I attended the National Career Development Association Global conference in now nearby San Antonio. Our work and personal life is empowered beyond boredom if we are taking time to learn new ideas from others. That is the main importance for me in going to conferences.

One topic that stood out to me first came from a keynote speaker, Mark Guterman of Meaningful Careers. Their website is The topic of his presentation was “In Remembrance Lies the Secret…Lessons From The Past Guiding Us Into The Future”. He touched on a number of ideas yet the driving point that spoke to me was that we are impacted by the people in our past. Our families, close friends, and role models have an impact on how we shape our values for what we want to pursue in our work world and personal world.

I like quotes that speak a kernel of truth to me and one that stood out in Mr. Guterman’s presentation was by David Brooks, “We inherit a great river of knowledge, a flow of patterns coming from many sources, none of us exist self made in isolation from it.” We each are where we are at partly because of choices and responses to those in our past who have interacted with and impacted our lives.

We need to take quiet times aside, to savor the impact that those in our past have had on the development of our present state in this journey we each are on. We need to take time and think through how past advice and personal examples have helped to shape our present. Through appreciation and gratitude for their impact, this can help us move towards a more positive future.

After the Keynote speaker I found it interesting as I was looking at the afternoon speakers, there was a session on “Discover The Impact Of Our Past By Learning How To Use Career Genograms”. A genogram is a graphing or mapping tool to look at your family tree. Since I am a strong believer in savoring the past for what we can learn from it, I could not pass this session up. The speaker was Kimberly Key, who has a private coaching practice in Austin, Texas -- named Encompass Work and Family. Her website is where you can find out more about her work.

I was somewhat familiar with Genograms and how they can give us insight into how we are living our lives in relation to our past family interactions. I must say I had never looked at them from the career standpoint. So this was refreshing to learn new ways to use Genograms. In some case studies reviewed in the session, I could see why people went the career direction they went in relation to past family members careers. In discussion and sharing in the session others pointed out that it is also a helpful tool maybe not to predict a particular career path, but to help people understand how their career values were shaped.

Both of these conference sessions helped me to see the importance of the past in our life journey. I often tell people we cannot change the past. But that day at the conference I gained a better understanding of how we can learn from the past to make better present choices. If you would like to learn more about Genograms check out the website and try doing one.

Reflection: Try doing a Genogram going back to your grandparents on both your mother and father’s sides. Reflect over their lives. What do you remember or even think about family myths about relatives? Jot down in a diary or journal how your values and life experiences have been shaped by them.

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