My 1000 Small Steps – October 20, 2017

Posted on: October 14th, 2017 by Kathie England | Time for Success 1 Comment

Seek First to Understand

by AJ Pfander

As I anxiously anticipate the next madness from #45, I am reminded of the March post written by Judy Caforio. Judy presented an expanded perspective of taking small political steps to make profound change to include finding a way to make the world a kinder place at a time when many of us aren’t feeling particularly kind.”

I recently had an experience where taking a small risk resulted in a small step.

My husband and I invited our neighbors to dinner. Dick and Judy are the kind of neighbors we all hope to have— the same values for curb appeal and “over the fence” interaction, and loads of fun. They regularly invite us to share birthdays, graduations, and holidays with their family and friends and over the years we have become extended family members. There is one difference, though. They are Republicans! Dick supported and voted for our current president. We don’t speak about politics very often, primarily because neither my husband nor I are keen on debates, and fortunately, the difference doesn’t impact our friendship.

I was genuinely curious to know what Dick thought of the president now and how he was leading the country. So I asked. Dick’s response indicated he was happy with a couple of things (a Supreme Court appointment was one), but not so much with the how – communication style and behavior. We chatted briefly and then moved on to other topics. No harm, no foul.

The next day I received this email: Good morning. Recall our Trump conversation on Saturday. The dinner last night is an example of exactly what needs to be done. A reaching across party lines and an acceptance of that gesture to achieve a compromise. One small step forward…hopefully followed by many others. Not a victory or a loss for either faction, but certainly a step forward for us.”

I immediately thought of a line from the Prayer of St. Francis and a tenant of Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits: Seek first to understand.

According to Covey, many people don’t listen to understand. As they listen they are preparing their response for when it’s their turn to speak, potentially missing the meaning by selectively hearing and filtering everything through their own experiences. Covey teaches us to ask questions and listen empathetically without judgment, to get inside another person’s frame of reference so we can see the world as they see it. If we take the time and have the true desire to understand the other person, they are more likely to feel safe enough to open up about their thoughts and feelings. Being understood, then, is rooted in a deep understanding of the other person. Seek first to understand.

On the September 24 episode of 60 Minutes Oprah Winfrey moderated a conversation among a group of voters from Michigan about the current political climate. The emotion, passion and frustration of the opposing views were palpable. As the conversation ended, a comment was made by a participant that this event presented a great opportunity to listen to each other. Seek first to understand.

Imagine if…

  • One person asked the person wearing the t-shirt, Not My President, “Why do you think that?”, and listened without response?
  • One person at a protest rally asked the person facing them, “What brought you here?”, and expressed empathy at the response?
  • One police officer checked his or her judgment before pulling over a person with a “risky” appearance?
  • One person advocated including listening skills in school curriculums?
  • and so on…

So, I will continue to have “learning” conversations, asking questions to learn as much as possible about who that person is and why they might be saying or doing the things I don’t agree with. I will also do my best to assume the best in others. Suspending judgment is tough, but I’ve recently read that empathy is hardwired into our species. That’s hopeful.

And I may send the Peace Prayer to the President. Who knows, miracles can happen!


Thank you to my dear friend AJ Pfander for October’s perspective! AJ is a life-long learner and former colleague as a Certified Professional Organizer.

My 1000 Small Steps – September 20, 2017

Posted on: September 16th, 2017 by Kathie England | Time for Success No Comments

The Power of Poetry and Small Steps

Inspired by a chapter in Healing the Heart of Democracy by Parker Palmer, I invited friends to write poetry that reflected small steps and the challenges we face in our country. I asked them to write using Haiku or Cinquain forms of poetry.

My hope is that their poetry will inspire you to continue to take small steps in the midst of the despair many of us have felt over the past month from disasters caused by humans and nature.

All the steps are small
Beginning to end moving step by step
Only time until you arrive
One by one all together
Put all the tiny steps in line
The great reward is found
Greatest wall you’ve ever seen
Built with bricks stacked end to end
Many parts now are one

By Bob Knopp, UnCommon Sense

Fearful, angry
Hurting, flailing, lashing
Afraid to look inside their hearts
Mindful, precise
Piercing, standing, shining
Spotlights on the underbelly 

By David Poulshock, Red Door Films/Fix Features, LLC

Static, angry 
Spinning, fighting, blocking 
A log in the stream 
Fright, a play to stage 
Step, the curtain parts 
Forward, the plot resolves

By Janis Collins, writer and storyteller


I invite you to try your hand at writing poetry using either of these forms, Haiku or Cinquain. I’ll even send you the format guidelines for these two styles. (Email me at Or try your hand at another style.

I would be delighted to share your creation in a future monthly post for My 1000 Small Steps.

My 1000 Small Steps – August 20, 2017

Posted on: August 19th, 2017 by Kathie England | Time for Success No Comments

By Cassi Christiansen, MCC, BCC, PMC, Uluminations

Luminary Leadership – Inviting Your Light to Lead the Way

By taking one small step, or 1000 small steps, you are being a leader.

If you wonder how this is possible, I invite you to continue reading.

“Leadership isn’t about where you show up on the org chart, but rather how you show up. Leadership isn’t a position, role or specific job; it is a way of being.”

These words by Cassi Christiansen from Uluminations provide the foundation for my August reflections on My 1000 Small Steps project. Cassi has been my coach since the summer of 2009.

After reading her June 1, 2017 blog, I asked Cassi’s permission to share her thoughts.

After the events in Charlottesville last weekend, Cassi’s thoughts are more relevant than ever.

Cassi describes how this way of being “allows you to live and lead from a place of internal power vs. power over others.”

This way of being “allows you to live and lead from a place of expansion and what’s possible vs. a place of limiting fear and smallness.”

This way of being “is about getting to choose who you want to be.”

It’s about choosing who you want to be based on “what matters most to you in our world.”

In our world today, “we can no longer afford to be silent. No longer afford to play small.”

I invite you to read the full text of Cassi’s blog at

May Cassi’s words inspire you take your next small steps!

And may the marvel of the solar eclipse on August 21 inspire you to eclipse hate in solidarity with Charlottesville!


Cassi Christiansen can be reached at 541-728-0649 or


My 1000 Small Steps – July 20, 2017

Posted on: July 15th, 2017 by Kathie England | Time for Success 1 Comment

By Bob Knopp, UnCommon Sense

Stacking rocks…small steps

A few years ago I built a small, decorative garden wall from stone. It was easy. It took two dozen stones about the size of bricks and I didn’t engineer it to last for generations. The whole project was finished in around an hour, but the change it made to that part of the garden was remarkable.

Stone walls are built one stone at a time. I couldn’t go buy a stone wall and tilt it up in the garden like builders do with concrete warehouse walls. I had to buy the stones, haul them home, figure out which to install first, and then stack them up. Small steps, of course, but it’s kind of cheating, isn’t it? A little garden wall isn’t much of a project and it is a stretch to say I really accomplished much. But it scales very nicely.

Back in the year 1163, a bunch of stone masons started hacking up some limestone and stacking it into walls. They kept at it until the year 1345. When they were finished, their stack of limestone blocks turned out to be the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris. 182 years of piling rocks on top of each other. That’s a lot of small steps.

When Kathie talks about her project, My 1000 Small Steps, that may not be enough, but it is a good number to get you thinking about taking more than a few steps. It is important to understand that even very large projects or goals can be parsed into bite-sized increments.

While thinking about these two projects, I came to realize a couple of axioms about small steps. First, the size of your project has no bearing on whether it can or cannot be accomplished with small steps. The only things that limit you are time, money, and other material resources. Dividing the process into ever smaller steps can help with management of these resources as well. But there is no project too small or too large that would not benefit from using small steps. Buildings, governments, and civilizations were all created one step at a time and they can all be changed one step at a time.

Second, small steps not only offer the obvious advantage of reducing the amount of work to manageable increments, they also give you an opportunity to make adjustments more frequently. A builder who pours a hundred square foot slab and then stands it up only to find a crack right down the back has to start over. A stone mason building a wall gets to check every stone as he goes. If he finds a bad one, he can replace it and continue with no backtracking.

Here is another interesting observation about small steps. I could claim that projects finished using small steps are more durable. My little garden wall is still standing after a couple of years. The Notre-Dame Cathedral is still standing after a couple of world wars and a French revolution. The question is: Can that durability be traced to using small steps?

Try this: During the construction of Notre-Dame, the design was changed to increase the height of the main walls. While building these higher walls, the architect noticed that they were beginning to buckle at the top. If you remember history, you already know what comes next. One of the things that makes Notre-Dame distinct and famous is its use of the Flying Buttress. These added-on supports solved the problem of wandering walls. It was the use of small steps that allowed the architect to make the adjustment that saved the whole project.

Everything changes over time and it’s the 1000 small steps that allow us to keep buildings, governments, and civilizations relevant.


I invite you to ponder your progress taking small steps since January 20, 2017, the day I launched this project, My 1000 Small Steps.

Bob Knopp is the fourth guest writer who agreed to help me keep the commitment of publishing a blog and newsletter each month until November 2020 to encourage us to keep taking small steps to resist and change the political climate in this country.

I conclude this month’s post with a wonderful short video that my friend, David Poulshock, discovered. David is a filmmaker, director, writer, editor, and one of the most creative people I know. (David’s production company is Red Door Films.) This video explains how even creativity involves small steps. I hope it inspires you to keep taking small steps!


My 1000 Small Steps – June 20, 2017

Posted on: June 17th, 2017 by Kathie England | Time for Success No Comments

By Janis Collins

Literally small steps…

Colin O’Brady was nearing the summit of Mt. Everest when a dangerous windstorm forced him to turn back. If he failed to reach the top of the mountain, his 130-day effort to complete the Explorer’s Grand Slam by climbing the highest peak on each of seven continents would be in vain. 

If he could finish this climb, he would have just one more peak to conquer. But with every passing minute it looked as if his physical stamina and chances for completion were blowing away with each strong gust.

But Colin was not a quitter. Earlier, on a backpacking trip to Thailand, he had suffered third-degree burns on his legs and feet – jeopardizing his ability ever to walk again.

With sheer determination and coaching from his mother he beat all odds. She set a goal: a chair placed a short distance in front of him. Just one month after his accident, he took one tentative step after another until he reached the chair. Every day the chair was moved a little bit farther away.

When the weather broke on Mt. Everest, Colin pulled his fatigued body out of his tent with renewed resolve.

“Our own minds are our biggest obstacle,” he said. “I had to think of Mt. Everest as just a stack of small rocks. And I just had to take small steps toward that imaginary chair.”

Colin made it to the top of the world and 10 days later summited Mt. Denali in Alaska, his final peak.

Colin had used the Japanese concept of Kaizen, or continuous small steps toward improvement to become an internationally recognized athlete.

I learned the concept of small steps from Kathie England of Time for Success.

Our brains are developed to shut down when we are confronted with overwhelming challenges or change. Our minds can be, as Colin says, our biggest obstacle. But we can do an end-run around that tendency by perceiving our challenges in small, digestible bites.

Whether our goal is political change or simply completing a huge writing project, we can achieve wonders when we take one small step at a time. Maybe it’s making one phone call. Maybe, it’s finding a small foundational piece of research. Before you know it, you are at the top of your mountain. Which, after all, is just a stack of small rocks!

Janis Collins, the author of this month’s post, is a gifted writer, storyteller, an amazing cook, and a very dear friend. As a storyteller, Janis participates regularly in the Beaverton Library’s Story Slam.