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  • Sandy Burgham

New year provocations for you


This note is about clarifying and resetting your intentions as the wheels of the new year start getting into motion. Hence we include some key journaling questions to ponder and our annual one-word provocation to get you started.


We are not big on goal-setting in the traditional sense as goals often come with negative connotations and arise out of a sense of “lack”. They also have a tendency to be narrow- focused, static and limited as opposed to being aligned to the core principle of our work which is about opening to growth and its infinite possibilities in all areas of your life.


The word “growth” has been somewhat hi-jacked by business leaders who for many decades have considered growth in a linear way - top and bottom line, numbers of FTE’s, whether they are in the Fast 500 or whatever. The focus for growth and the goals/targets associated with it are about profit, goods and services but rarely about the growth of the human beings who are intrinsic to the functioning and success of that organisation. A number of developmental psychologists now believe that human beings’ greatest motivation is to grow. At Play CoLab we know this to be true. For years now we have observed that leaders who deliberately enter into a process of transformation impact their organisations in ways that would previously not have been possible. Thus, leaders have a tremendous responsibility to not only grow themselves so they are better able to deal with the complexities they face every day, but to grow their people.


This growth we are focussed on is about the deep development of the human being - emotionally, mentally, consciously, relationally and societally - and how this aligns to influential and impactful leadership that is transformational rather than merely transactional. Considering growth in this holistic sense leads to people and their organisations (business, familial or community) developing beyond what they can originally imagine. Five and a half years into the Play CoLab practice means that we are seeing this play out time and time again. It’s not only deeply interesting but deeply fulfilling.

So instead of the (limited) tedious process of goal-setting this year, consider these questions:

  • What kind of leader was I last year?

  • What kind of leader do I choose (do you intend) to BE this year?

  • What impact might this have on the people around me?

  • What might I need to let go of in order to be a more mature (better) human being and more effective leader? (e.g. a fixed mindset, a need to be in control or to be liked or admired etc)

  • And the big one: how do I know I am growing as a human being?

We really recommend journaling a few pages on these questions to get underneath the egoic response. Dive deeper.


Then start to wonder about one word to anchor the year. Now what we really recommend is that you don’t choose the word so much as allow the word to choose you. We like to let the intention of a word of the year come from our intuitive selves vs our intellectual reasoning. Hence just start wondering vs pondering. There is a distinct difference. Wondering is far more expansive and open to possibility. Pondering leads to a lot of overthinking. So meditate, walk, wonder and see what bubbles up from the unconscious. Over the next few days a word may come to you. Don’t ignore it. Notice how it affects you emotionally. If it won’t let you go, that’s your word. Usually it feels a little uncomfortable in some way. You don’t need to know what it really might mean, in fact resist the urge to make sense of how it might play out.


Amongst our collaboration we have: Miracles, Romance, Clean. Who knows how that all might manifest. We also set a word of the year for Play CoLab itself. This year it is Clarity. This came out of a conversation about where we sensed Play CoLab was leading to.

In the past it has been somewhat difficult to describe what Play CoLab does as the work we serve and how we operate and even how we are structured does not fit into traditional models. And the work itself was waiting for our own processes of development to catch up. But we are getting clearer and clearer. We are systems disruptors and sit in the intersection of three intersecting types of systems – human, organisational and socio-cultural – with a deep interest and some expertise in all three. We need to be clearer on explaining to people and organisations the how and why of these interconnected areas. So if it’s diversity and inclusion that is wanted, then we must work with the executives and the org culture and reveal how inside AND outside forces shape both, including the interiority of the leaders and the world they were enculturated into. Clear?! We’re working on it!


We are clearer on the types of people and organisations that we are best to play with and hence we want to continue our work with alumni. Every year we work with an alumni group where we don’t only revisit core concepts but dive far deeper into them, particularly stages of adult development. It is great to mix up people from different cohorts too. Sometimes the best work is done two or more years after the initial course. We have seen this play out when alumni sense they are repeating an old pattern and reach out to be coached.


Our next alumni group is starting in March so if you are interested please get in touch with me directly or Jenna on 027 544 2264. We may be tapping some of you on the shoulder as we curate this group.


Meanwhile, after we announced pressing pause on public courses we had four people approach us to do one so we are likely to do one of these in the first half of the year. The time for any interested parties to contact us is now as the year starts gearing up.


Do let us know what your word of the year is as this is part of the declaration process.



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