One of the most powerful ways to bypass our thinking brains is to use visuals. Images have a way of opening us up to different stories and information in ourselves that our verbal, logical brains tend to block. I've also found that images can get us talking about the issues that may be more difficult for us to discuss and they provide us with great metaphors for developing deeper insights.
One of the tools I've enjoyed using the most is the VisualsSpeak Image set. It's been an invaluable asset to me in face-to-face workshops I've done on careers, leadership, learning and teambuilding. It helps us have interesting conversations and gain greater clarity about the situations we are discussing.
VisualsSpeak has now added an online version of the tool that allows people to select and arrange images into collages through their web browser. I use itwith clients who want to explore issues around careers and leadership and in my online workshops. Amazingly, they're offering free access to people who want to to explore their vision for their career, so you get a chance to try it out!
How it Works
1. To use the tool yourself, go to the VisualsSpeak Image Center and sign up to do the free "Exploring Your Vision for Work" Image session. Note--you must be using the Firefox, Chrome or Safari browsers. You can download Firefox here and Chrome here--both for free. (You should be using these anyway--much better browsers than Internet Explorer!) There's also a beta version for the iPad.
2. You will then receive instructions via email on how to log-in to the Image Center and create your collage.
3. Once you've complete the collage, you will receive an email on how to work with your image.
My favorite strategy is to print it out, glue it into my career journal and then write down keywords, thoughts, etc. that occur to me related to the image.
It's also been helpful for me to discuss the image with someone I trust. I get into a sort of stream of consciousness story about what I'm seeing and the person I'm talking to is able to identify key themes and patterns they may hear in what I'm saying. They may also be able to ask my questions or make their own observations.
My Vision for My Career
To give you an idea of what you're collage might look like, I went in and did a career visioning session for myself, which I annotated and uploaded below. Note that I added the notes using Jing, just to give an idea of some of the ideas that came to mind after I'd completed the exercise. I have much more complete notes in my career journal.
Working with the Image
For me what's helpful about using the visual process is that I am able to get a richer vision than when I just write. Images are about metaphor, so they help me hit on some key insights that I would have missed otherwise.
For example, in my collage there are a lot of nature images--more organic, holistic pictures. It wouldn't have occurred to me that this was important, until I noticed it in the collage. Once I did, I became aware of how that's a feeling or experience I want to incorporate into my career.
Also notice that I have several circle/spiral/rounded images. Symbolically, circles can indicate many things, including unity, wholeness, cycles and focus. When I saw the circles, I realized that these were additional insights that wouldn't have occurred to me in just writing about my vision, but that are important to me nonetheless. Seeing them in my collage, I'm able to explore and incorporate them into my overall vision.
Want to Try It For Yourself?
If you want to try the Image Center for yourself and then do some more exploration and discussion with a group, I'm running two free webinars in November you may want to join. The sessions are on November 15 and 29 from 8-9 p.m. EST and you can get more information and sign up for the webinars here.
I've found that working together with a group to debrief on your image can be a really powerful way to gain greater insight than just working alone. In the webinar I'll walk you through some key debriefing questions, show you examples, and give you some ideas on how you can keep working with your image to shape and refine your vision. You'll also get a free workbook you can use to record your insights., as well as some additional links.
Even if you don't want to join us, I strongly encourage you to try out the tool. It really can give you some amazing insights into what you want to do with your career.