December 26, 2020
Find Joy in Your Work!



Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 08:01 PM | Comments (0)

December 18, 2020
Want to Become a Certified FREE THE GENIE Facilitator?


If you are looking for a simple, engaging way to sparkl powerful new ideas from your team, department, or clients, you have come to the right place.

1. WHAT IS Free the Genie? Free the Genie is a 60-90 minute online creative thinking process that sparks clarity, insights, new ideas, commitment, and the kind of positive mindset needed for aspiring innovators to make meaningful progress with a new venture, idea, or opportunity.

2. WHO IS THE CREATOR OF FREE THE GENIE? Mitchell Ditkoff, Co-Founder and President of Idea Champions -- a thought leader in the field of creative thinking, innovation, and the creative process. His clients. And... what they say.

3. WHO IS FREE THE GENIE FOR? Anyone committed to manifesting an inspired goal, idea, or venture -- especially people open to exploring new possibilities with a skilled facilitator of the creative process. If you are stuck, Free the Genie will get you unstuck. If you are already unstuck, Free the Genie will spark a quantum leap of thought and action.

4.WHAT IS THE BACKSTORY OF FREE THE GENIE? Twenty years ago, the creator of this service (Mitch Ditkoff) created a deck of creative thinking cards (Free the Genie) to help his clients think out of the box and become more innovative. Eventually, the deck evolved into an online tool -- his assumption being that aspiring innovators needed a simple, online way to spark their own brilliance. They didn't. So, the tool just sat there in cyberspace, its potential unrealized. Then came Covid-19. Unable to deliver his innovation-sparking services, on-site, he migrated his services online, via Zoom. Soon, he understood why Free the Genie online never got off the ground. Aspiring innovators didn't want a "do-it-yourself creative thinking tool." They wanted a skilled, committed, trustworthy human being, by their side -- online -- to facilitate their process of reaching their inspired goals.

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The lives of millions of people have been disrupted. Entire industries have disappeared. Untold amounts of people are unemployed. And while some people have managed to adapt to these crazy times, many haven't. Isolated as millions of people are from each other, these days, their opportunity to creatively jam with friends, colleagues, and co-workers, is less than ever. And while these millions of people continue conjuring up intriguing, new possibilities, they often don't have a dependable way to develop them. The result? Lost opportunities, wheel spinning, and tons of unrealized possibilities.

6. IS FREE THE GENIE FACILITATION RIGHT FOR YOU? Free the Genie facilitation requires a very specific kind of mindset, skill set, and commitment. It is not for everyone. How will you know if you have what it takes to succeed in this venture? To begin with, respond to the following self-assessment. On a scale of 1-10 (with "10" being the highest score) rate yourself for each of the statements below. If your total score is 160 or above, there's a good chance that Free the Genie facilitation is a good fit for you. If your score is less than 150, but you STILL want to proceed, stay open. It is still possible..

1. "I see myself as a creative person."
2. "I easily create rapport with people."
3. "I am skillful at 'thinking on my feet.'"
4. "I am very interested in the creative process."
5. "People think of me as flexible and adaptive."
6. "I am a good communicator."
7. "I believe that anything is possible."
8. "I tend to see the cup as half-full, instead of half-empty."
9. "There's nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come."
10. "When I commit to something, I stay with it."
11. "I am a lifelong learner."
12. "I know how to use Zoom (or, if not, I will be happy to learn)."
13. "I am organized and follow through on my commitments."
14. "Great ideas often make their appearance at unexpected times."
15. "I have committed to at least one, big creative project in my life."
16. "It's time for me to do something different."
17. "I have at least a few juicy ideas that I would like to develop."
18. "I have a good feeling about this 'Zoomstorming thing.'"
19. "I have coaching, facilitation, or mentoring experience."
20. "I am a good listener."

Want to begin the application process? Click here.

Want us to contact you, when the training is available?

More about Free the Genie

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 11:19 AM | Comments (0)

December 10, 2020
How Verbal Aikido Can Help You Avoid Stupid Arguments


Great article on skillful communication and how to free yourself up from the quicksand of stupid arguments. Author: Don Johnson

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 01:50 PM | Comments (0)

December 01, 2020
One of the Biggest Obstacles to Genuine Communication

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"When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen." -- Ernest Hemingway

One of the biggest obstacles to good communication between two people can be summarized in four words: "I already know that."

This all-too-common phrase heads its ugly rear when the listener, having heard as little as a single sentence from the speaker, assumes they already understand what the speaker is going to say. It is this snap judgment, often made unconsciously, that subverts even the faintest hope of communication. But even more than that, it subverts trust, intimacy, connection, and the possibility of meaningful collaboration.

And while it's possible, of course, that the listener does know what the speaker is about to say -- especially if the two of them have a longstanding relationship -- all too often, the listener does not, at least at the depth of what the speaker wants to express.

In other words, conversational beginnings don't always foreshadow the depth or direction of what's to follow.

Whenever the listener, in a conversation, responds with "I already know that", it is highly likely that the speaker will feel dismissed, diminished, dissed, interrupted, unheard, misinterpreted, or judged -- the kind of reactions that don't bode well for any kind of one-on-one communication. And even more than that, it increases the likelihood that the "unheard" person will retract and become less willing, in the future, to initiate other conversations -- the so-called "vicious cycle."

It doesn't work for marriages. It doesn't work for business relationships. And it doesn't work for even the closest of friends.

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Are there reasons why this conversation interruptus dynamic happens between two people? Absolutely. And here are five of the most common:

1. IMPATIENCE: If the person being asked to listen has a lot on their mind, is busy, overwhelmed, or distracted, he or she will tend to perceive whatever is being said to them as an interruption -- or worse, an invasion of privacy. The result? Impatience and, along with it, the rush to end the conversation as quickly as possible. As a result, curiosity and receptivity go out the window and the person talking ends up concluding that the listener doesn't have the time, interest, or willingness to engage.

2. LIMITING ASSUMPTIONS: An assumption is a belief that's accepted as true without having sufficient proof. In other words, human beings are predisposed to supposing, presuming, projecting, and jumping to conclusions without really knowing what's to come. We may think we know what someone is about to say to us based on past conversations we've had with them, but our presumptive thought doesn't always match up with the content wanting to be shared.

It is not uncommon for the listener, in a conversation, to utter the "I already know that" phrase as a way to protect themselves from where they imagine the speaker is about to take them -- a kind of protective, pre-emptive strike on the part of the listener. If the topic on the table is a charged one and the listener is not in the mood to participate in what they project will be an uncomfortable conversation, a sure way to end the exchange is to cut things off at the pass by declaring "I already know that."

4. SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS: All of us have a tinge of self-righteousness in our blood -- the belief we are morally superior, smarter, or wiser than another. When the person, on the receiving end of a new conversation, is coming from this kind of mindset, it is highly unlikely that any real communication will happen. Unspoken judgment? Yes. Social distancing? Sure. Disappointment? That, too. But no real spaciousness for any kind of genuine expression to take shape.

5. THE LISTENER DOES NOT TRUST OR RESPECT THE SPEAKER: Here's the bottom line: If the person being spoken to is not experiencing trust, appreciation, or respect for the person who is speaking, there's a high likelihood that he or she will find a way to end the conversation abuptly. And one of the simplest ways to do that is to trot out the "I already know that" phrase -- a not-so-secret code for "Excuse me, I have better things to do than talk to you right now."

Of course, there is always the flip side of this coin.

While all of the above conversation inhibitors are quite common, there will be times when the listener's declaration of "I already know that" is both appropriate and well-founded. Perhaps the speaker IS obsessing, being neurotic, or repeating themselves for the tenth time. It happens. It does. But even when it does happen, the listener always has the option of moving the conversation (and the relationship) to higher ground. How? By assuming the best in the speaker and responding with graciousness, receptivity, patience, and presence.


Here's another way to think about this dynamic:

If someone looks into your eyes and says "I love you," you responding with the words "I already know that" probably isn't the best way to establish intimacy. Or if your child comes running into your bedroom and says "there's a monster under my bed", you responding with "I already know that, you told me the same thing last night" isn't likely to calm your child's fears.

Those kinds of responses, while rational, are not what's needed in the moment. What's needed is something else -- receptivity, curiosity, empathy, care, and presence -- all of which are the pre-conditions for genuine communication.

I am not suggesting you become an easy target for another person's neediness, neurosis, or projections. Nor am I suggesting you waste your time entering into conversations you really don't want to have. What I'm suggesting is this: Any time another person seeks you out to speak their mind or express themselves, it's a golden opportunity for you to be of service -- a simple act of human kindness that can be accomplished in three minutes or less. Let go of your fear of being overwhelmed. Your day is not about to be ruined. You are not about to be sucked into a rabbit hole you cannot get out of.

All that's being asked of you is to receive the other, honor their need to express and, by so doing, increase the odds of genuine communication taking place. Towards that end, you have choices. Here are two healthy alternatives to the "I already know this" routine:

1. Pause, take a breath, and become present: In other words, for the moment, let go of your TO DO list and the spinning hard disk of your mind. Unplug from your momentum! See the person standing before you as the perfect person to be standing before you and know that your respectful attention has the potential to work wonders (without taking a whole lot of time).

2. In a gracious way, let the speaker know you DO understand what they are about to say -- then give him or her a chance to express themselves more fully, i.e.

-- "I hear you. I know this is a huge topic for you. Is there anything else you need to say to me about this?"

-- "Yup. I totally get that this topic has been on your mind for a while. What do we need to do to resolve this situation?"

-- "Hmmm. I can see we have some unfinished business here. Is there anything you need from me to get closure on this?"

-- "Thanks for speaking up. I know how important this topic is for you, but this moment isn't a good time for me to have this conversation with you. How about we dig in later tonight?"

-- "Oops! I thought we had already resolved this matter. But maybe not. What do you need from me in order to feel complete about the topic on the table?"

"Give me the gift of a listening heart." -- King Solomon

24 quotes on good communication
Why do people want to listen?
Listening is a superpower
How to know if you talk too much
Illustration: gapingvoid

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 06:32 PM | Comments (0)

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Idea Champions is a consulting and training company dedicated to awakening and nurturing the spirit of innovation. We help individuals, teams and entire organizations tap into their innate ability to create, develop and implement ideas that make a difference.
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