The Flywheel Effect

The Flywheel Effect is a concept developed in Jim Collin’s book Good to Great. He argues that a good-to-great transformation never happen in one fell swoop. In building a great company, or social sector enterprise, there is no single defining action, no grand program, no one killer innovation, no solitary lucky break, no miracle moment. Rather, the process resembles relentlessly pushing a giant, heavy flywheel, turn upon turn, building momentum until a point of breakthrough, and beyond.

Rick Kettner provides a great summary of the concept here or you can watch his YouTube video below.

Please note: Rick Kettner references both Amazon and the Joe Rogan Experience when explaining the Flywheeel Effect. I am personally opposed to both companies, but I have included Kettner’s video, as I think he does an excellent job in summarizing Jim Collins’ overall concept; and it is of equal value to small businesses, artists, and not-for-profits.

Heart Centered Learning: Chef Babette

A seventy-two year old, world-class chef, fitness expert and motivational speaker, Chef Babette runs a successful Inglewood, California restaurant, Stuff I Eat, while also producing online cooking classes, and participating in health summit and speaking engagements all around the country. She is an amazing, inspirational human being who lives her life from a place of love. I hope that you will take some time to learn about her incredible journey.

The River of Integration

“When we are integrated, a system such as a relationship or a nervous system with its brain and whole body moves into a flexible and harmonious flow. Integration becomes harmony. Integration is created as parts of a system are allowed to be unique and specialized, like you and me in a relationship or like members of a choir singing in harmony. The differentiated parts retain their unique aspects and they also become linked. The left and right sides of the brain work in a coordinated and balanced manner, and the communication between you and me honors differences and promotes compassionate connection so our relationship flourishes.

If either differentiation or linkage does not occur, then something very specific happens. When integration is blocked, a system moves toward one or both of two possible extremes: chaos on the one hand, and rigidity on the other.

I think of this like a river. The central flow is one of integration and the harmony is creates. One bank outside this central harmonious flow is chaos; the other is the bank of rigidity. When things are chaotic, they are out of control, wild, overwhelming, completely unpredictable. And when things are rigid, they are stuck, unchanging, boring, and completely predictable. Life has a natural movement toward, rather than getting stuck on, the banks of chaos and ridigidity as we wind our way down the river of life, the river of integration.”

~ Daniel J. Siegel M.D., Brainstorm


In reading Siegal’s book, I have been reflecting a lot about the concept of integration. As a person who lives with anxiety, I definitely lean tends towards rigidity. Routines, control and structure provide me with a false sense of security but they can also be very limiting and stifling. It is so important to know when to hold on and when to let go.

A good friend of mine once gave me a good piece of advice. If it is 80% right, it is good enough. Forget the rest. I have been working to bring this approach into my own life by asking myself what is essential (e.g. must do) and what can I drop (e.g. nice to do). The reality is everything does not need to be perfect and I will die with an unfinished ‘to do’ list.

In working towards integration, I need to prioritize time for spontaneous fun and play, as much as chores and routine (rigidity). It is important to enjoy silly experiences with my friends and family, like rock n’ glow bowling, dancing and roller disco, that bring joy. This is just as essential as completing the shopping, cooking and cleaning. The reality is that our time together on this planet is finite and precious. We cannot take anything for granted and we should not fill it up with work and obligations. Valuing the role of love, connection and laughter is at the heart of it all.

Watch List: “Bones of Crows”

Bones of Crows is the first Indigenous and female-led produced, written, and directed drama about the residential school experience in North America. It was created by Marie Clements, a Canadian Métis playwright, performer, director, producer and screenwriter.

The film is a psychological drama told through the eyes of Cree Matriarch, Aline Spears. It reflects the protagonist’s survival of Canada’s residential school system and the impacts of systemic racism, starvation and sexual abuse. Bones of Crows unfolds over a one hundred year span; it captures an inter-generational fight for survival, as well as highlights the strength and resiliency of Indigenous peoples.

I had the privilege of attending a private screening of Bones of Crows earlier this week. Marie Clements and many of the cast members were there in person at the event. Not only was it deeply moving experience to watch the film but it was an honour to learn, first hand, about its creation. Every single Indigenous person who spoke was either a residential school survivor themself or knew a family or community member who had survived. The experience of being there, in that room, bearing witness to the truth of Canada’s dark past, is something that I will never forget.

Letting Go

My Uncle Mike passed away this week at eighty-three years old. He was my dad’s older brother and he played an incredibly important part in my young life. Losing someone you love is never easy, even when it is expected, or it is their time in life. It leaves behind an absence that cannot be filled. A person-sized void.

My uncle was strong, resilient and smart. He was a boxer in his youth and he played rugby in his forties. He always smelled faintly of cologne and soap. He gave big bear hugs and he was always laughing. We spent many summer afternoons visiting his cabin on the shores of Lake Tahoe: located just down the road from Obexers Marina and Chambers Landing. The coolers were always teeming with ice, pop and beer, and the charcoal barbecue smoked on the wooden porch for hours, cooking endless burgers and hot dogs for the friends and family that always filled his house. I remember sitting on the swing in the yard with my sister, our bare feet skimming the dry grass, watching the adults laughing and talking all around us, and feeling very happy to be a part of it all.

One of my favourite family photos was taken when I was about ten years old. It captures a beautiful moment with my California relatives: Aunt Charlis, Cousin Kate, Aunt Susie, Grammie, Dad, Mom and Uncle Mike. With the exception of my Dad, all of the adults in the picture are now gone. I feel their absence as a deep aching in my heart. I realize that when it was taken, many of them were roughly the same age that I am now. I remember how old and wise they seemed to me back then. Now I know the truth. None of us really ever ‘grow up’: we only grow older. Although I am an ‘adult’, I will forever remain seventeen in my heart. It is now my job to pretend that I know what I am doing, and keep things steady for the younger members of the family: to guide them as best I can with what I have learned along the way.

I was incredibly fortunate to visit my uncle this past October. I knew it would be the last time I would see him, so I tried to cherish every moment that we had together. I told him how much I loved him and what he meant to me. I gave him extra hugs and I inhaled his smell. I created memories to draw on now that he is gone. I am so grateful to have had him, and all of my beloved family members, in my life. Sometimes you get a long time together and sometimes it is cut short. Although I believe he is happy and at peace now, reunited with his loved ones in the world beyond this one, I miss him. It is never, ever easy to let go.

Black History Month

Every February, people across Canada participate in Black History Month events and festivities that honour the legacy of Black people in Canada and their communities.

Historically, Black people have largely been ignored in the telling of mainstream Canadian history. Black History Month is a time to learn about these important stories and significant contributions.

The 2023 theme for Black History Month is: Ours to Tell. This theme represents both an opportunity to engage in open dialogue, and a commitment to learn about Black histories, successes, sacrifices and triumphs. I encourage you to start by checking out this great series 28 Moments of Black Canadian History by Unilearnal.

Belly Laughs

I was driving my daughter home from dance the other day, and she casually commented, “I never see you laugh. You smile all of the time but you never laugh.” This took me aback. Of course I laugh, I thought to myself; but the more I reflected on her words, the more I realized she is right. I do not laugh. Not very often anyway. When did that happen?

I sometimes think of this period of my life as a marathon. My head is down, and I am striding along, mile after mile, with my teeth grit: determined to reach a finish line that is nowhere in site. I am taking care of a teenager. I am taking care of aging parents. I do my best at work. I keep our household running. I cook. I clean. I drive. I do laundry. I sometimes find a moment to write and be creative. I repeat.

When I think about my best belly laughs, it is always with the friends I grew up with. The ones who knew me when I was in my teens and twenties. It is the last time in my life that I remember being really really silly. We would find something dumb to riff off of, and laugh about it so hard, it would make us hyperventilate and cry.

I realize that in my quest to be the a ‘good’ mom, daughter, friend and colleague, over the last thirteen years, I have lost connection to the free spirited, immature part of myself, that just wants to play. As much as any other priority in my life, is important to make time to laugh and let go.

In addition to being fun, laughing has many health benefits. It relieves tension, it boosts the production of immune cells and antibodies, and it releases endorphins to improve your mood. All in all, it is just a good thing to do. In the spirit of good belly laughs, I have been on the lookout for videos I can watch when I need a boost. Here are a few that made me laugh until I cried. Please share any videos that you love with me. It would be great to have your recommendations.

Parenting is Hard

I have a smart and strong-willed thirteen year old daughter. These are traits that will serve her well as an adult; but it is often difficult and exhausting to navigate our relationship on a daily basis. Nothing seems to be straight forward and everything is up for debate and discussion. I sometimes feel isolated and lonely as I try to figure out this challenging phase of adolescence on my own.

Throughout the process so far, I have identified a few supportive tactics that I am finding to be helpful. I thought I would share them with you.

Hold Your Boundaries

Guilt. The common theme of parenting. Am I doing enough? Am I turning into my mother? How can I do/be better? These questions, although valid, lead to doubting your own decisions and inconsistency in approach. Do not do this to yourself. Make a decision and stick with it. As your child pushes against your boundaries, trust your inner knowing. Hold fast. Know that your child will ultimately respect you and feel more secure if you are consistent, gentle and firm. The boundary that you set is real for you in that moment. Honour it. You can always reflect and regroup at a later time.

Create Space for Discussion

Although it is important to hold firm in the heat of the moment, the reality is my child and I are in relationship with one another, and it requires work and an openness to improvement. Sometimes I make mistakes and I need to correct them later on with acknowledgement, apology and discussion. When we are in a calmer space, my daughter is better able to explain her perspective to me; and sometimes it changes the way that I see it. This impacts how I respond at a later date. Flexibility and adaptability are key. There is no right way. Just what is right based upon what you know right now.

Be Loving and Kind

I always tell my daughter that no one can hear her when she is yelling, and yet, I find myself doing the same thing. It is amazing how triggering being a parent can be, and how quickly I fall back into the patterns of my own childhood, where yelling was the common response. I am actively working to be mindful about not raising my voice, or I ask for a specific amount of time (e.g. 20 minutes), if I need a time out to regroup. I hold onto my wise, adult centre in these difficult times, and provide myself with love and support, as well as my child.

Testing is Normal

I need to remind myself that my daughter is not purposefully being difficult, she is testing the waters of independence, which is normal and to be expected. As Lisa Damour writes: “Your daughter needs a wall to swim to, and she needs you to be a wall that can withstand her comings and goings. Some parents feel too hurt by their swimmers, take too personally their daughter’s rejections, and choose to make themselves unavailable to avoid going through it again…But being unavailable comes at a cost…Their daughters are left without a wall to swim to and must navigate choppy—and sometimes dangerous—waters all on their own.

Take Care of You

I never planned on being a single parent. I did not sign up to do this on my own and it is hard. It brings up a lot of sadness, grief, anger and disappointment for a dream that is lost. This is the moment when I have to turn to myself for comfort and advice. I put my arm around my small, scared self and I say…Let it out. Cry if you need to. Feel all of your feelings. Try to relax. Breathe. Trust it will soon pass. Move your body. Go for a walk. Take a bath. Go to bed early. Breathe deeply. Ask for help. Talk to a friend. Keep putting one foot in front of the other. You got this. I believe in you.