Spark Your Creativity: Dare to Think Differently

Spark Your Creativity: Dare to Think Differently

Spark Your Creativity:
Dare to Think Differently

August 15th, 2019  |  Laurie Hawkins

Creativity is something that we all have an innate human need for. When we open up our minds to creativity, we are able to find solutions easier, maintain stronger relationships, be more collaborative, find greater excitement in work, think of innovative ideas, inspire others, build balance and so much more.

Some people are wonderful at expressing their creativity by inventing new products, creating stunning pieces of art, or composing music. This has become the definition of creative when there is truly creativity all around us – it’s everywhere, for everyone. 

Creativity begins when you are able to silence your inner critic and have the courage to express your ideas, in various different formats. It is not the result that counts, which is counter-intuitive to a results-focused society as well. 

The moment you create, with your hands or your head, you start to release endorphins and you feel present…happy. Unleash your creativity. Here are a few ways that you can step into a more creative and fulfilling life.


Embrace Failure

Think about the things that are born out of failure. Being a perfectionist is stifling. So many people experience shame over this experience when the reality is that the failure leads you closer to the success you desire. Our world is far too focused on performance and success today instead of learning. 

“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve; the fear of failure.” Paulo Coelho


Leap Forward

Many times, the challenge with beginning something new is not that we don’t have any ideas, it is that our heads are filled with so much that we don’t know where to begin. It has become a habit to focus on the “bing” of the email or instant messages…all day long. People focus on distractions and interruptions all day long, instead of taking the first step towards something that will have a powerful impact. Take the first tiny action towards what you desire. Little steps over time lead to giant leaps.

“It’s a sad thing in life to wait until you are ready. The reality is that there is never a truly perfect time to start. No one is every fully ready. There is no such thing really. There’s only now. Start now.”


Sleep Well

We can be successful only when we take care of ourselves. The most important aspect of caring for yourself is to get sleep on a regular basis. This doesn’t align with the workaholic mindset that has been built in North America. When you sleep more, you become more competent. You gain clarity and longer term, create increased effectiveness. 

Sleep is the key to happiness and creativity. Gift yourself sleep and watch your creativity heighten.


Allow Boredom

There was a time, not so long ago, when you had moments of space and time to watch people in line or stay lost in thoughts. With the development of smartphones, this space has been eliminated. Every moment of the day seems to be filled. 

When was the last time you took a pause to notice the sounds around you? To notice the smells around you? To notice what you could see around you? We keep ourselves busy all the time and leave little time for doing nothing. Doing nothing is vital to recharge. This is when your imagination comes to life…and you can notice it.


Explore Uncomfortable

When we focus too much on keeping things the way they are, our minds tend to slip into auto-pilot. We stop seeing what is around us. It is comfortable and easy but sharing in new experiences creates a new vibrancy and awareness. It sparks all of our senses into gear.

Habits provide clarity. Our safe and familiar comfort zones are built around personal habits that make life easier for us. Studies have shown that the start of something is the most difficult part because it is a huge step into the unknown. Exploring new things is good for your brain; it keeps you sharp and you continue to develop yourself. 

Capture Youth

Beginner’s mind is a term Buddhists use to describe a particular state of mental openness. As a beginner you have no expectations. You are not restricted by your perspectives, biases, experiences, judgements etc. You are like a child full of wonder and you see the world through a prism of possibilities.

You become open to the world and people around you. You gain access to parts of your brain that you haven’t been using. Suddenly, new ideas can surface. A fresh look, like when you were a child and everything was new, will make you more creative.


Be Alone

“Decorate one’s inner house so richly that one is content there, glad to welcome anyone who wants to come and stay, but happy all the same in the hours when one is inevitably alone.” Edith Wharton

When we embrace our alone time, the most beautiful thoughts can emerge. With social media and the “always on” communication in today’s world, many days it is difficult to carve out true alone time. Many people have become uncomfortable with being alone. The soul craves connection and yet, there comes a time where you need to walk alone to hear your soul. It frees space in your brain to experience new thoughts and insights.


Go Offline

There is so much valuable information online. The frequency to which we turn to our smartphones in mindless moments is a problem. We keep looking, swiping, tapping, checking…we spin in nothing and lose hours of valuable time. Our brain doesn’t help us as it likes to intuitively move through this process. It’s the instant gratification of the ping and flash that keep us coming back for more.

There are so many ways to “go off the grid” for periods of time…for space!  What if you put your phone where you couldn’t see it? You can’t produce anything of value if you are unable to concentrate. What if you hung out with people who made you forget about your phone? Offline is the new luxury.


Magnify Mindfulness

There is a direct correlation between meditation, mindfulness and creativity. Practicing mindfulness helps to develop the ability to look, feel, see, sense all that is around you. Meditation allows you to dive deep, which allows your creativity to blossom. You become still, your awareness is heightened, your thoughts become clear, you are fully present to all that is possible. 

Mindfulness teaches us to be in the here and now. Our thoughts wander easily to the past and the future. Mindfulness is like a filter on your mind. A calm mind is a creative mind. Our greatest experiences are our quiet moments.


Build Team

You’ve started practicing mindfulness. You’ve boosted your energy levels. You’ve gained confidence in your abilities and have started creating. Now you desire to surround yourself with a community of people who can appreciate your art, share your ideas, let inspiration flow with. You want a creative partner(s).

Find a creative connection where your ideas and energy can expand together. Collaboration amplifies creativity.


Creativity sparks an enormous energy. There is an unexplainable fuel that ignites when something new is created, a new idea is born, a unique perspective is discovered. It’s like an interruption of the norm and it inspires people into action. 

We crave the opportunity to roam free, to explore, to seek solutions. We delight in working with our hands and creating something beautiful. This creative spark can be illusive in our over-busy world. It seems difficult to give ourselves permission to spend time in play and creativity. 


When you step back and recognize the powerful outcomes derived from investing time in the creative process, this belief system makes no real sense. Creativity gives you the power to shape your life, build balance, unleash the amazing. 


Reflection: What one thing will you choose to action when you reflect on all of these possibilities?

You Have More Power Within

You Have More Power Within

You Have More Power Within

August 1st, 2019  |  Laurie Hawkins

This summer I took on a challenge (opportunity) that was presented to me from my dear friend Kate. She said “do you want to go on a yoga/kayak/wilderness adventure?” Without much thought, I felt a “hell yes” stir inside of me and I followed my instincts. The description of the trip was for a beginner that had not kayaked, which neither of us had. We were both seeking a connection to nature and to experience new things in life…really to slow down our pace and enjoy life in a new way. We are both workaholics and have been focused on the “pause”, so this was the perfect chance to do that.  We had no idea what we were truly in for.

Day one was about repacking to fit our five-day gear in a kayak, preparing to flip the kayak, rescue ourselves, be rescued…yes, I said beginner. Then we battled 35km winds against us as we paddled six hours out into the wilderness. There were so many lessons over the next few days that reminded me of life and business…here are just a few of them.

You Have More Within You

As we crossed the last channel, the whitecaps emerged and having never experienced anything like this, fear set in. Our guide said “just paddle like you have never paddled” …inside I thought to myself, well I haven’t ever paddled. There was a huge obstacle in front of us. Kate was in front of me and for the next hour we dug deep and just – kept – paddling. I screamed, grunted, called to God for help. You know that moment I am taking about; the one where you don’t think you have inside of you what you need to cross the chasm that you are presented with. Then, my friend Kate hit the shore. She was my guiding light. She turned around and I was right there. She said that the feeling of her own accomplishment was incredible and then to turn and see me right there, was just as powerful. Half of our group did not make it and had to be towed in. 

There was no time to pause and really take in what we had just accomplished as now we had to set up camp, in the middle of Georgian Bay, on a rock, in a two-man tent. What were we thinking? Later that evening, Kate and I shared an amazing conversation about the human spirit and what we truly have available in our reserves. Kate shared some wisdom with me that we only use 60% of what is available to us and when we think we are ‘done’, we have so much more available to us. That day proved this to both of us! We accomplished something that previous to that, if you had asked us, we would have both said “no way.” What more is possible for you that you have blocked what you think is possible? You have more within you to create what you desire.

Group Think

Our guide was an expert in her field. She shared many stories from her wilderness experiences. She was truly impressive. As true as this point was, she did not want input from others. The stories she shared created a culture of “not enough” very quickly within our group. This was 12 inexperienced women who desired an experience. Our initial thought was that we would have a peaceful, beautiful connection with nature and do things that we hadn’t done before. 

Many people attempted to share their experiences and stories and they were shut down and taken over. At some point, we all offered what we thought was an idea we could bring to the group, only to be told we were wrong. By the second day, everyone conformed. Out of fear and self-doubt, we all followed what the leader said. A group of confident, successful women in their own world, became conformists. Then came the group think. Even when a question was asked, everyone looked to the guide to tell us what to do. 

This was such an example for me of how organizations can fall into group think, when the leader does not openly welcome other people’s insights. The best organizations listen to everyone and then make decisions. When this doesn’t happen, people shut down and stop thinking for themselves. We all did!

Connection, Collaboration and Competition

I am a huge believer in collaboration and connection. Ask good questions, listen to people, lean in and truly understand another human being. Every single person had something deeply amazing about them, when you take the time to learn that. Our guide did not focus on connection and instead focused on competition. It was all about being the best, being the strongest, going the fastest. 

We also had this incredible yoga master. She was the complete opposite and to have both on this trip, heightened the importance of connection. She gave us the time to breathe, to connect, to pause. She asked questions, she went deep into our souls.

Without connection and collaboration, competition was bread. People started telling others what to do and how to do it. 

Think about what happens behind the scenes with people when you don’t focus on building connection. We are hard wired for connection and without it, there is pain and suffereing.

Paddle with Peace

On the final day of our trip, I knew that we had another 5-6 hours of paddling in front of us. That morning, the winds had shifted and they would again be coming at us versus supporting us. At first, I started to step into fear. Then I remembered the resilience we had built within us over the past few days. I dug deep into the fact that Kate and I had found power within each other, that we had laughed and found connection between us through the struggle. I knew that together, we had stepped into a new world, one filled with connection, collaboration, love, joy, power and strength. At that very moment, this new thought entered my thoughts…what if you paddle with peace, no matter what?

What if you choose peace, in the midst of the chaos, fear, struggle, and effort? What if you could choose a different feeling for yourself? I decided in that moment that I would paddle with peace all day. It didn’t matter if the winds came; it didn’t matter if I was judged; it didn’t matter if I was good enough. When we started out that day, the winds shifted again and were at our backs, the guide slowed down and started pointing out the nature all around us, we stopped on a rock to talk about our experience… we leaned into connection, joy and peace. It was beautiful.

I wonder if I would have noticed if I had not made a choice to shift my own thinking. Paddle with peace. It is available to use every moment of every day. No matter what you are going through in your life, business, family, career – you can choose to experience joy and peace


Choose an area of your life that is filled with effort, pain, hard, struggle and ask yourself how you can start to paddle with peace from this point forward. What would that be and what is the first step you can take?

The Lost Art of Asking Meaningful Questions

The Lost Art of Asking Meaningful Questions

The Lost Art of Asking Meaningful Questions

July 15th, 2019  |  Laurie Hawkins

If asking good questions is critical, why don’t most of us spend more of our time and energy on discovering and framing them? One reason may be that much of our culture and society in particular, focuses on having the “right answer” rather than discovering the right question. Our educational system focuses more on memorization and right answers than on the art of seeking new possibilities. We are rarely asked to discover compelling questions, nor are we taught why we should ask such questions in the first place. Quizzes, examinations, and aptitude tests all reinforce the value of correct answers. Is it any wonder that most of us are focused on providing great answers instead of asking great questions?

In conversation with others, people are always responding with “so what” in their own minds. When you focus on telling people things, they are always justifying the investment of their time with you. Instead, when you are asking questions, they are focused on the interaction with you. What a powerful reason to shift to being curious!

There are many ways to build the habit of shifting to being curious. I have found a few ways to incorporate questions in a meaningful way. One of those ways is by leveraging the feel-think-opinion strategy.

Three Questions That Allow You to Connect on a Deeper Level

Feel Questions: Find ways to incorporate “feel” questions into your conversations. When you ask someone how they feel about something, it forces them to emotionally connect with their core values and emotions on that subject. This immediately allows you to experience a deeper level of understanding about the other person and their desires.

Think Questions: When you ask someone what they “think” about a certain idea or topic, then people must dig into their minds for an answer. It becomes personal as you are asking for their specific ideas. This allows you to uncover their specific thoughts on any area of interest.

Opinion Questions: Asking opinion questions influence people to provide both their emotional and logical answer. It connects the heart and the head in a response. These questions are very personal to those answering as you are asking for them to specifically answer about what they think and feel on a topic. These can elevate any conversation and open it up to new areas of discovery.

The other powerful questioning strategy is leveraging the “three deep” investigation method. This requires you to listen intently to the person you are speaking to so you can intuitively go deeper into their original answer. It’s where you ask them to “tell you more” about the subject you are discussing. When they give you an original answer, you want to stay on that theme and just continue to learn more about the subject. You keep going at least three deep into that area.

You can use statements like:
→ Tell me more…
→ How did that impact you?
→ What did you learn from that experience?

The more you dig into a theme or subject, the closer you will get to the true core of that area. You will uncover more about the subject and have people share at a deeper, more meaningful level.


What has kept you stuck from asking questions? How could you step into becoming more curious? What are some outcomes you would experience when you made this shift? What action will you begin today to practice the art of questions and connection?

Boost Your Curiosity

Boost Your Curiosity

Boost Your Curiosity

July 1st, 2019  |  Laurie Hawkins

What do you think engages and creates a lasting impression on someone that you have just met? Most people believe we connect with people by saying the right thing or providing them with new information. The compelling truth is that asking meaningful questions is far more impactful. 

Powerful questions can immediately help you win more business, deepen your relationships, and assist you in connecting with people more rapidly that you ever thought possible. Asking thought-provoking questions will allow you to engage and uncover key issues and opportunities in ways that provide you with a differentiator in the market.

One of the key characteristics of a person who is successful at creating sales opportunities with customers is that they seem sincerely interested in the thoughts, feelings, and opinions of other people. They are likeable and have learned one of the great secrets to success in building human relationships…they ask great questions and listen carefully to the answers people share. They possess an element of keen curiosity.

Learning how to ask great questions and to be naturally curious is one of the most important qualities for you to focus on. The more questions you ask, the more you learn about what is important to others and about how your product or service may be able to create value for the people you would like to do business with. When you ask questions, you get inside the heart and mind of anyone you meet. 

I was recently meeting with a business executive, who was running a large company. She deals with people who want to earn the right to share time with her consistently. I asked her what the key was to people having the opportunity to meet with her and she said that it was about building credibility early in the conversation by asking a powerful question. She then went on to say that people who ask her great questions build trust and credibility quickly versus those that want to tell her all about how they can help her. She believed it showed arrogance when someone assumed, they knew what she needed before asking any questions? It is the quality of the questions people ask and how intently they listen after that differentiates them.

The 10 Keys to Effective Questioning Strategies That Will Help You Uncover Your Customers Real Needs

  1. A good question can draw someone inward and cause him to reflect, consider, and even do so subconsciously through the awareness your question has created. Your questions will help to make people pause and think differently about their situation. Questions require an answer so if you focus on insightful questions that will force people to dig deeper, you will be viewed as a valued resource automatically. 
  2.  Good questioning allows you to take control of a situation, without being controlling! Many sales people believe that when you are telling, you are selling and that puts you in control of the conversation. When you are talking though, people can “check out” and be in their own thoughts without really hearing what you’re saying. When you ask them questions, then you can guide where the conversation goes by flowing with the answers and direction you choose. Good questioning allows you to take control of a situation, without being controlling! Many sales people believe that when you are telling, you are selling and that puts you in control of the conversation. When you are talking though, people can “check out” and be in their own thoughts without really hearing what you’re saying. When you ask them questions, then you can guide where the conversation goes by flowing with the answers and direction you choose.
  3. Good questions create higher quality communication. Higher quality communication fosters superior relationships. Do you want superior relationships? Then you must start by asking better questions. Many people prepare to ask simple questions and therefore never really get to the heart of connecting. Asking powerful questions will require you to plan purposefully for your communication with potential customers. When you plan, move past the traditional fluffy or high-level questions…think deeper. How will you get the answers you really want? Work backwards from there to create impactful questions.
  1. Good questions lead the recipient on a path of self-discovery. You could tell someone something and perhaps they will consider it. If they discover it on their own, then THEY own it! When you are responsible for guiding someone in this direction, they will automatically attach the energy of their “aha” moment to you, the person who guided them through the discovery. The most impact you can have is when you ask questions that have people say, “Wow, I haven’t thought of things in that way before.” You can’t get to this place by telling people your thoughts. You can only get to this new, amazing place by taking them on a journey of discovery together. 
  1. Good questions create high levels of rapport. Perhaps you have heard the quote “judge of a man not by his answers, but by his questions.” What do your questions say about you right now? In this era of over-communication, you are responsible for acting in ways that separate you from the norm. How can you connect with people at a deeper level? Think of being at a gathering and then leaving and you can’t wait to share about this person that you met who was just “amazing.” When asked to describe what made them unique, you can’t quite put your finger on it. I will guess that this person asked you meaningful questions and then actually listened to hear your answers, with great interest, and then moved the conversation forward in this fashion. You felt understood, it felt real, it felt more meaningful. You connected on an emotional level.
  1. A good question changes the lens in which a person sees their world. This is such a powerful thought! You can actually have that impact for someone – that they’ll begin looking at things differently due to the questions you ask them. You have the ability to change someone’s future trajectory by focusing your attention on your communication with them. Think of someone close to you and how often you have “told” them to do something. What if the next time you communicate with them, you instead turn that thought into a question and how their decision is impacting them? Here is an example of this thought: My son loves to throw his socks on the floor in our family room and every day for the longest time, I tell him to pick them up and put them in the laundry room. He might or might not follow my instructions without me having to tell him again. Instead, I choose a different approach and I ask him, “Who do you think will move those if you don’t and what impact do you think that has on your Mama?” The very next day, the habit shifts. When you give people the gift of seeing things from their own perspective and with a different insight from your question, it can shift people in profound ways. Now, my example isn’t profound and yet sometimes, it’s the simplest things that can have the most impact on people.
  1. A good question, asked of the wrong person, is just as ineffective as a poor question asked of the right person. This is key in your sales process that must be paid attention to. So many people run around in circles, hoping to earn new customers and thinking they are asking great questions, and yet, they are speaking with the wrong person. What if someone asked one of your children if they could purchase your house – now that is a crazy thought! If that seems bizarre then why do you spend time dealing with the wrong contacts within businesses? Take the time and have the courage to spend time with people that can move forward with you and your offering.
  1. A good question, at the front end of a response can offer the clarity needed for you to offer a more meaningful response. Often customers say “yes” to do business with us and yet we haven’t taken the step to create a connection that will drive ongoing loyalty. You don’t just want to earn a new customer; you want to create a lifelong partnership. When you are in a position to work with a new customer, take the time to ask questions about how this will impact them, why they chose to partner with you, what is most important to them in this decision they have made. Take the time to slow down and gain the clarity and connection.
  1. Good questions focus not only on discovering the pain, they focus on discovering the opportunities your customer or prospect desires! People buy for two reasons – they want to diminish a pain or experience a pleasure. When you meet someone, you have the opportunity to help them reflect on where they are today, where they desire to be in the future and what the gap is that is keeping them from achieving their future view. Many people believe that by uncovering pain, you can influence people to make a change. The reality is that although the pain is usually something that people attach more energy to, people also learn how to live with their pain and therefore you also want to get people excited about the amazing things they dream of. When you uncover both their pain in the current and paint a picture of what the future state can be, then you will have connected emotionally with them. This process happens by asking great questions.
  1. A good question can move someone off the fence of indifference by igniting emotional buy-in! I’ve used the words emotionally and connect often in this learning already. Combine these together and create an emotional connection with someone and you have a customer for life. People believe they buy from others for logical reasons…think of the last time you purchased a car and someone asked you, “why that particular car,” and you started talking about the colour and the leather heated seats, the price, and on and on the list goes. The real reason you purchased it was how you felt driving the car. We don’t realize that we always justify our emotions with logic. People are moved by how they feel, not how they think. Even for those people who say they are thinkers and use analytics and logic, this is still a truth.


Reflection: How often do you plan on creating connections through the powerful questions you ask? How much focus have you given this in the past? What impact has this had on your life and business?


Prioritize with Pleasure

Prioritize with Pleasure

Prioritize with Pleasure

June 15th, 2019  |  Laurie Hawkins

Are you feeling overwhelmed by your large to-do list that only seems to expand?

Have you ever reached the end of the day and felt like you were so busy you couldn’t
breathe and yet, you got nothing “real” accomplished?

Does this describe your life in any way?

You wake up in the morning and start checking your email right away. Then you grab your coffee and continue to check email. You had every intention of meditating, reading or exercising and yet, there seems to be no time left…again.

You spend the whole day reacting to the “bing” of new emails. You don’t seem to have time to take lunch and if you do, it’s on the run and at your desk. You go home with no extra energy reserves and feel too exhausted to interact with your family in a dynamic and meaningful way.

Even though you are tired, you can’t seem to sleep, so you mindlessly surf the TV or internet. You feel completely swamped in work and yet, you don’t feel like you get anything accomplished.

Our lives are made up of activities that are more or less important and more or less urgent. That means that everything we do falls into one of four quadrants with those as your axis points. Learning to choose where you spend your energy, in which of these quadrants, is the key to building a life filled with fulfillment and flow.

This is such a difficult choice in today’s continuous barrage of information and communication coming at us. I think back to even ten years ago in my business and life and how much more manageable everything seemed to be. This is a choice that needs to be made every minute of every day.

I wonder when Stephen Covey created the Urgent/Important Matrix if he had any idea how impactful and critical the concept would become. Let’s take a look at leveraging this tool to create success and peace.

Stop with the TO-DO list and shift to a priority list

Former US President Eisenhower used the so-called “Eisenhower Principle” to organize his tasks. He is quoted as saying, “What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important.” Dr Stephen Covey made these concepts mainstream, calling it “The Urgent/Important Matrix” in his famous book ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’. By embracing the work created by Stephen Covey known as the Urgent-Important Matrix, you can get more done, build your energy, accomplish goals and lean into meaningful productivity.

Quadrant 1: Necessity
These tasks are urgent and important. These are the things that come at you that you need to take care of now. That’s why it’s called the quadrant of necessity. An angry client on the phone, a friend has a heart attack, the printer breaks down at the office. People who live primarily in Q1 are urgency addicts. The gateway to the mind is cluttered with critical priorities that demand attention now.

Quadrant 3: Distraction
These pursuits are urgent but not important. Many people spend a lot of time in Q3 thinking they are in Q1. Really, they are just reacting to other people’s crisis, phone calls, emails, text
messages, routine meetings, people dropping by – all these can deceive them into thinking they are getting things done, but really, they are just spinning their wheels. Meanwhile, truly
important priorities fall off the agenda. Q3 people are also urgency addicts. This quadrant has always been the enemy of productivity and even more so now, thanks to the technology tsunami that swamps us daily.

Quadrant 4: Waste
These activities are not urgent or important. We call this the quadrant of waste because
literally nothing productive gets done. People who live in Q4 watch too much TV, spend hours and hours playing video games, surf the net into the early hours and spend hours scrolling through social media. The human brain that hovers constantly over distractions on electronic screens is a Q4 brain. It is so important to relax and have fun, as long as it is not being motivated by a desire to evade priorities. Burn out and mindlessness are enemies of

Quadrant 2: Extraordinary Results
Tasks here are important but not urgent. This is the quadrant of extraordinary results because here you take charge of your own life and create your future. Q2 people do the thoughtful, creative, proactive work that changes the world. They plan, they prepare, they prevent crisis. They learn, they create, they build relationships, they continually renew their energy levels so they don’t burn out. They do the things everyone else knows are most important but never seem to get to. How does it feel to live in Q2? Some of the words would be fulfilled, peaceful, energized, in control. People here habitually put first things first in their lives.

Reflection: Time is your most precious resource. Reflect on the four quadrants and determine how you will choose to spend your time differently so that you can create all that you truly desire.