Job Hunting Flow

There are a lot of reasons why the job hunt drains us of energy and in worse case situations lead to burnout. The FLOW LIST from – Mihaly Csikszentmihalyis research – creates flow.

It can also identify what blocks flow.

For example:

  1. Lack of Clarity. A lot of job seekers are not clear on what exactly the role they want is. The clearer you can be, about what it is you want to, the title, the location, the activities – the easier it is to find that role.
  2. Poor Skills/Challenge “Fit.” Looking for a job requires salesmanship. Most of us never trained to be sales people. The good news is being good as sales – requires the same skills as being a good friend. Good friends, connect, communicate and have each others back. Most of us want to be a good friend – so reframe the job search as an opportunity to get good at being a friend
  3. Lack of Feedback. OMFG — this one really gets me. Ghosting by companies and recruiters is real. many HR companies are too scared for legal reasons to offer feedback. Honestly, only the very best companies are brave enough to do this. People who don’t give feedback are jerks, that’s on them not on you. That said when you do get feedback, be grateful and if it’s useful, adapt.

That’s just three of the nine principle of Flow. If we walk through the other six (i.e. Distractions, Ego crushing, Lack of Control, Lack of Focus, Lack of Care ect.), it’s no wonder that most of us hate job hunting. All that to say,

Stop beating yourself up. Seriously.

Finding a job takes a lot of energy and stamina. You don’t have to do it alone.

I’m offering low and no-cost career group coaching and training Thursday evenings – Eventbrite Link {10 “free” spots available with the code: pause}


If you want to learn more about the flow list and avoiding burnout – my book, Applied Flow just launched and is on sale for the next week for 99 cents.

Stay Awesome,



Your Flow Personality

In Chapter 6, the Shape of Emotions, I wrote about 5 Flow Personality types I found that people gravitate towards.

Why Your Flow Shape Matters

Understanding our Flow Personality can give us a quick intuitive snapshot into the hidden assumptions that may be blocking our flow, collectively and as individuals. It is especially useful for identifying friction points and misunderstandings – and help us unpack that also elusive concept of “fit.”

For example, Firecrackers who are put into Gardener roles often get frustrated and quit. When the tables are turned, Gardeners who have very intentionally constructed their role, will likewise, seek opportunities elsewhere. Organizations that dismiss Minervas as Firecrackers, are exposing themselves to risk.

Even knowing that someone has a different shape from us, can alert us to to slow down and check our assumptions.

Ideal Shape Summaries

The Firecracker – “No Pain No Gain”.
Quick, eager, enthusiastic, firecrackers look for opportunities and challenges to learn and prove themselves. They thrive in high risk cultures – both physical and psychological and are generally younger. Many firecrackers suffer from imposter syndrome and benefit from mentors and colleagues who can help them ramp and get clear on understanding what they don’t know, they don’t know.

The Gardener – “Patience is a virtue”
Gardeners are steady, dependable rock stars. Who can be loyal to a fault. They get things done, they tend to be in organizations longer, so they also tend to know where the bodies are. Younger, underemployed, low-autonomy employees, who find themselves in this role, may get burnt-out from boredom.

The Spartan – “Do Work!”
We tend to think of Spartans as seasoned leaders. Unlike Firecrackers they take measured risks, although the still appreciate high risk, high growth opportunities.

The Minerva – “Practice Makes Perfect”
Minervas on the other hand are even more conservative than Spartans. The like challenges and also the feeling of being in control. Minervas believe that practice makes perfect. They have very high standards which may or may not signal perfectionism. Sharp and insightful – fire crackers and spartans can find them intimidating and off-putting.

The Guru – “Everything Happens For A Reason”
“Gurus” don’t take themselves too seriously. They understand their values and priorities and live into them. Most gurus are on the third or fourth career, they know who who they are, what they want and have work to set up their life so that have the autonomy to go for it.

Learn How to Discover Your Flow Personality Shape and Why It Matters


Let’s unpack the word, “exclusive”  We tend to think exclusive = special. Like diamonds. 

Except as you probably know diamonds are valuable because of manufactured scarcity, (see also De beers cartel). Exclusivity is a marketing tools — used to create a feeling of excitement and/or a false sense of importance to train us to spend money. 
We all want to matter, to feel important — the funny thing is

the quickest way to matter is to give value and to make others feel included, important and welcomed.


p.s. if you enjoy nerding out on mindfulness, business and etymology – DM your email address and I’ll add you to the launch team for my newest book. 


Applied Flow Community

If you want to go fast go alone, if you want to go far go together.

African Proverb

Job Transitions Don’t Have to Suck
(as much)

Looking for a new job is not awesome. The traditional job search is all about sales, marketing and self-promotion – which is great if you are a narcissistic extrovert sales person – but less than awesome for the rest of us. It’s often feels like a never ending slog.

Weeks 1& 3 – Community Check-Ins

One the first and third Thursdays of the month, we get together and talk about our wins, challenges, goals – we help hold each other accountable, celebrate wins and lift each other up!

Weeks 2 & 4 – Career Habit Tools

We’ll be offering free or low-call strategy tools and templates – in Notion and/or Google Docs, for you to keep on top of your job search. All the tools and templates we’ll offer will include flow principles – so that you can continue to manage your career on an on-going basis.


5 Habits for an Anti-Racist New Normal

“When the dust settles, I wonder if I will actually change?” 

A non-black POC friend recently mused on Facebook. After weeks of emotionally charged posts about the marches and protests – this time feels different, but then it always does.

Another friend, a black designer, admitted she is less hopeful. “I’m tired. I’ve been here so many times, I can’t get my hopes up.”  The struggle has been going on her entire life. 

When things break down, and I think the dumpster fire that’s been 2020, counts as a breakdown, we can either return to business as usual as soon as we can – or we can try something new. In The Happiness Hypothesis, American psychologist Jonathan Haidt notes, “There is a window of time – just a few weeks or months after [a] tragedy – during which you are more open to something else.” 

What can we do before this window closes? It begins by understanding and owning our power. Access to money and the power of state may feel out of reach, but we have the power of the people, and we have the power to establish social norms about how we treat each other. 

Since my area of expertise is in behavior change, I thought I’d share some tips from the research to make this process sustainable – while we have both the attention, the will and momentum. 

Making Anti-Racism a Habit 

When confronted with a trauma or a crisis – it’s productive to both take action and engage in sense making. This allows us to move our good intentions from our head, into practice.  After consulting on dozens of change projects, change often comes down to whether people feel like it. Change is like any new skill from playing piano to swinging a bat, you have to engage in deliberate practice to make it last. 

A few things to keep in mind. 

  • A small action is better than nothing. We can get caught up in our anxiety – worrying that we are doing the wrong thing or not enough. Many of us are well advised to start before we are ready.
  • Make it easy. Dan and Chip Heath in Switch, talk about creating the path, to set yourself up for success. Make it easy and if possible automatic to start and maintain your habit. 
  • Keep aligned with your values. One way we can do this is by noticing how we feel when our values are challenged.  When we notice racism and people being put down – it often feels bad and inconsistent with how we see ourselves and how we want people to see us. Use your feelings like data, an emotional cue to form a new habit, by practicing allyship or speaking up.

You may be surprised when you speak up, how many of your teammates will be grateful for the opportunity to stay aligned with their values. As a leader you are also signalling that living up to your values — even when it’s inconvenient — is valued. 

Five Tips to Start Immediately. 

As a coach and strategist, all five of these habits do double and triple duty – serving you well in whether you are negotiating a deal, securing a raise, or debating your ten year-old over bedtime.

1. Practice Active Listening. Start to follow diverse voices on social media. The nice thing about doing this is it’s pretty much automated and should provide you with ongoing perspectives. Take a minute right now and follow leaders like, 

  • Rachel Elizabeth Cargle – @RachelCargle
  • Reni Eddo-Lodge – @renireni
  • Ijeoma Oluo – @IjeomaOluo
  • Ibram X. Kendi – @DrIbram

You may also consider following hashtags and seeking out less polished voices. I started doing this in 2012 on Tumblr, listening to younger informal comments helped me cultivate compassion for emergent perspectives – even when I did not always agree, which brings me to,   

2. Practice Being Uncomfortable.  Notice what is painful to hear and what you resist. Notice the feeling in your body. For example, I don’t like being lumped in with “All White People.” It makes me feel tense and I tighten up. The result is, I am more likely to be disagreeable, more likely to argue and contradict whatever I am hearing or reading. This can be intensified when other people display big emotions like anger, and pain. When I feel that tightening happen, I take a breath and double down on listening. I try to access my curiousity, under the fire of anger there is usually an experience of injustice. If we can connect and understand the sense of unfairness, and bring the other person into the space of calm, trust and respect – then we can get to work. When we solve problems from that space, we turn an adversary into an ally. Honestly when that happens there is no better feeling. 

3. Commit to Community – Broaden your tribe and seek mentors from all sides. Challenge yourself to connect with people that make you really uncomfortable in different ways. Choose to see “challenging” as a good thing. The process of resolving conflicts teaches us to trust. Having a relationship with a broad group of people helps us course correct. 

For example, I had a conservative client, an executive who had trouble recognizing faces, technically it wasn’t prosopagnosia, but it was similar. While discussing civil matters he commented that he literally doesn’t see color. I know him well, and I trust him – but he doesn’t read the blogs I do. So as his friend I was able to give him a bit of historical context for what it often means when folks like him say “I don’t see color,” how it is too often used to dismiss or minimize the experience of other Americans. Of course, he was embarrassed, since is words did not match his meaning. Fortunately, he didn’t need to convince me, I knew him and was able to coach him to use words that better fit his intention. 

4. Prepare to Mess up. If you do this work, you’re going to piss someone off – accept that as a given. Part of that is people are hurting. It’s also ok to disagree. Some will say we go too far, some not far enough. Some will assume our allyship is performative or just PR, or a shallow cynical maneuver. As Mother Theresa said, you will be criticized for doing the right thing for the right reasons, it doesn’t matter, do it anyway. Yes, something may come up and we may be wrong and held to account by people who are not compassionate and just want to tear us down.  Practicing 1, 2 and 3, and listening for understanding may help mitigate and reduce the risk of messing up. Even then things change, messing up is part of the process. Messing up and course correcting is almost always better than doing nothing. When you are wrong apologize as quickly and as sincerely as possible. Move confidently knowing you are doing the best you can in the moment, and that’s all any of us can do.

5. Embrace Transparency and Accountability. When we make public statements, it’s a signal. We’re drawing a line in the sand by declaring our values. The hope is when we do that we embolden others to do the same – we are establishing the norms. People may push you to do more (or less). Other people will gladly tell you when you’ve been wrong or haven’t lived up to your ideals. As uncomfortable as this is, embrace it. Don’t let yourself off the hook, – do the best you can and then do better. 

Making these little shifts, 1 percent actions to be better every day. This is the un-glamourous process of making lasting change – it’s a marathon not a sprint. 

As a bonus, when you learn a new habit and practice your values it helps you build true confidence. 

What gives me hope? 

Sherrilyn Ifill, president of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, when asked this question on a recent 60 minutes bluntly said, 

“Well I don’t know of anything in the history of black people in this country in which I’ve read some account, in which it ended with, “and then they gave up.” That’s just not what we do. I know that we work for the future of our children and our grandchildren and their children. That’s our obligation, we don’t have any other choice.”

That grit determination is the quintessence of what it means to be American. 

Frankly, as a daughter of a carpenter, I’d be ashamed if I hesitated for even a second to roll up my sleeves and get to work. This is not a fight we can ever, ever give up on. 

This is our moment to rally in service of a vision of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness that surpasses the wildest most brilliant dreams of our founders. 

About the AuthorHeather Ingram is an organizational designer and people strategist – at the intersection of wellness, management, and game theory. Her new book, Applied Flow, helps employees and organizations create boundaries to create flow and prevent emotional burnout.

Pebble in the Shoe

I’ve been walking a lot more since “quarantine”, partly because dog parks are closed, I need to exercise, and get out of the house. On one of my recent walks, I had a small pebble in my shoe. It was only slightly uncomfortable so I didn’t bother with it.

Not surprisingly, I got a blister and have been dealing with the annoyance for the past week.

It’s a decent metaphor about endurance, grit, decision-making consequences, and taking quick action.


Free Yoga

One of the ways I access and practice EQ/Mindfulness is through a regular yoga and meditation* practice. Obviously, doing yoga in a studio under the guidance of an instructor – is great. Sharing energy and community has benefits for the relational nature of our brains, that neuroscience is starting to document. I suspect you can probably feel it – without needing MRIs to document it.

However, making it to class is simply not accessible for many folks, both in terms of time, accessibility, schedule and money. I love community and donation-based classes, like Yoga to the People – but again those are often limited to Urban centers. Fortunately, some of the best yoga teachers have classes on YouTube. Below are some of my favorite resources. 

They are worth checking out even if you have a regular practice and even if you’ve watched them before. Four years into teaching, revisiting old resources reveals nuances I missed the first few times.

Check out these channels – and when you are ready – set aside some time** to go down your own rabbit hole.

YouTube Yoga

More Terms to Explore:

Yoga, Yoga Nidra, Meditation, Chakra, Tibetan Singing Bowls

* Meditation, technically is part of “Yoga” – however in the U.S. we head yoga and think of the exercise – which is why I’m clarifying it.
** I like to set a timer so that I can mindfully explore. 

Mindful Job Hunting.

After a few months of searching (for a job, new client, date/love), have you ever felt, thought or said, “there are just nothing out there” – no good job, clients, dates, etc.

That’s totally normal*

I struggle sometimes with “mindfulness” and the woo-woo-iness of it all. My dad’s in construction, and at heart, I’m a bit skeptical of the woo. Recently, however, I came across this example from Deepak Chopra – which helped me make sense of the new age-y idea of how our inner world is reflected in our outer world.

Chopra shares this story.  In ancient times, a hunter in the east might go to his shaman to help with his hunting. He would not complain that there was no game in the woods, because of course there was game. Instead, the shaman would help the hunter look inside himself for that was driving away game, preventing him from finding or even seeing the game – perhaps holding him back from going as far as he needed to go.

Applying this to today. Think about what it is that you seek that perhaps you don’t have right now. If there is no doubt it exists, what shifts in yourself can you make to see that which is hidden?

Notice how your doubts, fears, energy may be driving away that which you want most.

Slow down, create space, manage your energy and open up.

Bon courage.

* based on my very unscientific non-random sampling.

Meet Your Heroes

I met one of my literary heroes last week, John Scalzi. Whoever said, “you should never meet your heroes” has obviously never stalked their heroes on Twitter for five years before crashing their friend’s book signing (I’m guessing.) 

It was lovely. We spoke a bit about politics, his wife’s skin care regimen, Mary Shelley, the historical roots of science fiction and troll-y fanboys. He added to my theory that successful writers have kick ass spouses as first readers. Finally, we discussed whether writing fiction and non-fiction at the same time was weird. Gloriously he opined that it helped him, shifting gears between them, he said actually helped. That little insight helped me feel just a little less crazy for trying to do the same.

//In case you missed it here is an Early 5K draft of The Orchid and Preview of Caroline Bingley//

Sadly I was too in the moment to take pictures of the lovely Loyalty books. Just this tweet after the moment – which Scalzi liked — thus releasing me of my filial obligation. 

5 Seriously Entrepreneurial Traits Arya Stark Demonstrates

This is for all the storytelling/science fiction/organization behavior nerds. Warning – if you aren’t caught up on Game Of Thrones and the Battle of Winterfell, the following contains spoilers.

You won’t be warned again.

Studying organizational psychology, you see a lot of patterns repeat, in books, in stories and life. It makes sense, we’re all human and our programming is pretty similar.

The ending of the Battle of Winterfell got me thinking about a current pattern I’ve been seeing a lot in the research on growth mindset and characteristics of flow. Before we get into that, let’s back up and look at everything that brought us to last night’s conclusion. There are several characteristics of Arya’s journey that align with the research on flow and success.

1. She has Grit. I don’t think even Angela Duckworth would deny that Arya demonstrates exceptional grit. She spent roughly the first six seasons, learning how to fight and become an assassin.

2. She engages in Deliberate Practice. More important than putting in her 10K hours, she has coaches to train her. First Syrio Forel, a master swordsman and later Jaqen H’ghar, a master assassin are on hand to give her immediate feedback and help her improve.

3. She has clarity of purpose. Arya has a “north star.” While we all know that she was under prophecy, really Arya was focused and committed to getting back to her family, and avenging those she loved. (Sidenote: repeating your goals and/or kill list every day is straight from Napoleon Hill’s classic, “Think and Grow Rich.”)

4. She knows when to strategicly follow (and then forget) the “rules.” When she was ready, Arya took control of her destiny. She refused to accept rules that were no longer serving her. According to Dawn Graham, author of Switchers, we have to learn how to “fit in and belong before we can stand out.” Arya learns to fit in at Braavos, in part to survive and also to learn the secrets of the many-faced god, so that she can get the skills she needs to protect her family.

A girl has a name.

5. She moves beyond fear and into flow. In Braavos she learned the skills to match the challenges ahead. During the Battle of Winterfell, you see her battle with almost balletic grace. At first, it is clear that killing wights is not much of a challenge, however, their sheer numbers overwhelm her, since she is still human. In the corporate world, we’d call this kind of overwhelm “burnout“. Stressed by volume, if not by challenge, we see her lose flow becoming anxious, rolling off roofs and fighting for her life — until at last, she has a brief respite. Surrounded by corpses in her family’s great hall she understandably might have stayed in survival mode, but the Lord of Light sent her one last coach in the form of the Red Woman. Melisandre reminds Arya of her destiny, beyond mere survival to thrive, she reminds Arya to think beyond herself (i.e. let go of the ego) and reframe Dani and Jon’s plan, and focus on what she can control inspiring Arya to act.

What do we say to the god of death?
Not today.

And the rest is legend. #NotToday

Those are just some rough thoughts from last night’s episode.

How does thinking about life as a story help you?

What else did you see, perhaps we can discuss the role of prophecy and the perception of time in achieving flow? (If we do, you know we’re going to need to get real about Endgame.)

Books Referenced: 

  • Grit – Angela Duckworth
  • Outliers – Malcolm Gladwell
  • Flow – Mike C.
  • Think and Grow Rich – Napoleon Hill
  • Switchers – Dawn Graham
  • Game of Thrones – George R.R. Martin

My poverty, but not my will, consents…


There is increasing discussion and awareness around the increasing student debt load in America. Debt and its effect on our economy and national morale should be a cause for concern. I submit that student load debt mortgages our future indentures our youth, and helps maintain the current power systems. This obviously disproportionately hurts those who are the most vulnerable/”lower status” (e.g. women, working class, immigrants, people of color), hurting their ability to negotiate for equality.

Overwhelming debt hurts progress because, from my observed experience, less talented leaders, squander the intellectual capital of new graduates through a combination of fear, micromanagement and jealousy. This presents a risk in terms of both innovation (e.g. less diverse opinions) and the fact that folks will be opting out of the arts.

It also represents an operational and reputational risk, since when folks can be forced into compliance by money, we fail to live up to higher ideals.

This is not a new problem – it’s just gaining momentum.

Businesses have the opportunity to build trust with their employees – and co-create systems that offset the inequities that student loan debt creates and maintains. Empowering their employees to think like owners and act according to the highest of ideals.


& yes, I included the Shakespeare quote in a vainglorious attempt to justify my liberal arts degree.

What do Spiderman, Voltaire, and God have in common?

They all understand that power and responsibility are inextricably linked. Not simply as moral encouragement – as in Uncle Ben’s admonition that, with great power, comes great responsibility. And also,

With Great Responsibility, comes Great Power

Major problems in organizations occur when credit (power) for work is disconnected from the folks who are responsible for doing the work. When bullies take credit, they are taking advantage of systemic inequities and information and social asymmetries that can not (and should not) be sustained.

Future forward organizations consistently teach and communicate what each person’s value is. They empower employees to know their worth and judiciously exercise their power like a boss (or owner), leaning into their value and values.

We all have more power than we think.

Part of the process of becoming a leader is learning to access our power for ourselves and others.