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Finding Flow

Do you remember what you were doing thirty years ago?


In 1994, I essentially lied my way into a job. Having grown tired of waitressing and my dream of becoming a famous stage actress, I signed up with a temp agency. I promised the agency I had office skills but until that point my only office experience was playing with my dad’s rubber stamps and adding machine when I was a kid. (I loved the sound of ripping the paper off that adding machine and then the thump, thump, thump of the rubber stamps.)


I was placed as a receptionist in corporate banking at the head office of one of Canada’s top four banks down at King and Bay in Toronto. One month later, I had a permanent job, trading in my waitress apron for shoulder pads and became part of the inner circle hanging out downtown with executives on Thursday nights.


I taught myself how to type on an electric typewriter and covertly called my friends to practice using the phone for conference calls. When people (mostly men) passed my desk, I would make eye contact, smile and shamelessly flirt a little. It turns out that my acting experience served me well. I received a promotion to the Vice President’s office. I was sure that my shoulder pads and I would take over Canada’s financial district!


When I think about the journey I’ve travelled, I feel immensely proud. A common thread through all the years has been a quest to find flow.


When I was waitressing and volunteering for Fringe Festivals I was in flow.


When I somehow landed myself down at King and Bay in the Executive Suite, I was in flow.


When I decided to stay at home, give up my income and commit full-time to being a stay-at- home mom—flow.


When my volunteer work turned into a career and I became the primary income earner for my family and started travelling around the world working with charities and teaching at conferences—flow.


Becoming an entrepreneur, helping raise millions of dollars for multiple charities – flow.


Stopping all of that and focussing on the health, wellbeing and success of the people working inside the charities—amazing FLOW.


How often do you work in a state of flow? Would you recognize it?


Flow is when everything else disappears, you lose track of time and you work in your zone of genius. That’s not to say that there won’t be challenges along the way. Of course, we need friction to get traction in life. But for me, each phase of my career had a certain amount of flow. That is what happens when your actions are aligned with your values.


So, why does each stage look different?


Well, because just like fashion, values shift over time. (Bye bye shoulder pads.) Being aware of how your values are shifting and what your true north is, changes. For me the shift seems to happen every five years.


Values are not static. They can change as you age or when major life events happen—like having a baby or getting married, or professional success and/or setbacks. Taking a pause to check in with your values—like you would a compass on a long journey—can help you stay on a path that increases the amount of time you spend in flow.


In such a passion-driven sector, we could do a lot to transform toxic work situations if we just all took a moment to assess how our values have shifted, and whether our current actions are still in alignment with them. This is essential for success; in our lives and in our organizations and with our teams.


“Following your passion is a luxury. Following your values is a necessity. Passion is a fickle magnet: it pulls you toward your current interests. Values are a steady compass: they point you toward a future purpose. Passion brings immediate joy. Values provide lasting meaning.” – Adam Grant


Flow is not a constant state. It is normal to go through phases that feel more challenging. I see those times as opportunities to level up. Discord is likely a clue that the actions we are taking, are no longer aligned with what we value in our hearts. Just like organizations revisit values during a strategic plan, we also need to be intentional about our own life strategy.


When we are stuck, a disruption can really help. That disruption can start by checking in with your values compass. If a state of flow is your true north, adjustments are required along the journey for you to stay on track.


This journey is an ever-evolving process. Now is the perfect time of year to take a moment to do a values audit and check in to see if your values and actions are still aligned.


·      Are you working in a state of flow more often than you are not?

·      When you are in a state of flow what are you doing?

·      How can you design your life to do more of that?

·      If you don’t remember the last time you were in flow, what can you do to create a shift?


Assessing how your career, your life or your organization have shifted over time is the key to soaring in 2024! Let’s get started.


Kimberley Mackenzie, CPCC, ACC is working with charity executives to get transformative results for themselves and their teams. Her next workshop is being held in Barrie Ontario with the AFP – Central Ontario Chapter on January 24th.


A charity executive for 22 years, Kimberley built a six-figure consultancy and held her CFRE for 17 years until she was certified by the International Coaching Federation as an Associate Certified Coach and by the Co-Active Training Institute as a Certified Co-Active Professional Coach. She is the former editor for Charity eNews, an AFP Mater Trainer and Group Facilitator. She participated on Rogare’s think tank reviewing Relationship Fundraising and was a driving force in the early days of Contact Kimberley at or follow her on Instagram @kimberleycanada.

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