Judy Brooks is the curator and guide behind Immerse Yourself—a collection of experiential adventures and artifacts designed to invite personal growth. Co-founder of global conflict management company Proactive Resolutions and Blo Blow Dry Bar and executive chair of Smart Sweets, we are excited about Judy’s new book Consider: An abstract but practical approach to personal evolution. We had the opportunity to sit down with her and discuss. —Catherine Dunwoody
Can you describe Consider in less abstract ways?
Consider is a collaboration of community: photographers, artists, dreamers, seekers, designers, poets—people. They are mirrored in the details of this artifact’s construction; from the linen wrapped box, to the Japanese hand-stitched bindery of the booklet to the Consideration and Contemplation cards. Consider encourages self-discovery. There is no right or wrong way to explore it and interact with it. Read it. Feel how it moves you and who you may become as a result. What resonates today may or may not have significance tomorrow. You can start with the Conversations because they’re the stories of people you may relate to. You may want to drop deeply into one of the Considerations, then drop deeper still. You might decide to pick one of the Contemplations and read the poetry. Perhaps you choose to skip the reflection on the poem, and instead just sit with it and then ask yourself your own questions. Throughout the artifact there are Collaborations—photography, poetry, and images shared from community in acknowledgment of their belief in this body of work and the impact it has had on each of them.
Can you give us examples of artifacts?
Websters defines an artifact as an object made by a human being, typically an item of cultural or historical interest; something observed in a scientific investigation or experiment that is not naturally present but occurs as a result of the preparative or investigative procedure. We have added to this definition: a kit of parts that provides an abstract but practical approach to human evolution. Artifacts are objects that inspire reflection and inquiry. They remind us that we don’t learn things once. As we grow this community and consider ways to make impact and support peoples’ journey of inquiry and self-governance, we want to provide more ways to support an individual’s evolution. The card sets are a great example. They are both perfect illustrations of how an artifact could support growth and is a result of inquiry and work of people considering the same important questions about self-evolution. People who have a copy of Consider are using the cards as prompts and discovery for team meetings, for dinners and gatherings with friends and family and for quiet personal reflection.
Can you walk us through the process?
For the last 10 years about 600 people have been quietly immersing themselves in the considerations found in this Artifact. Through facilitated group Immersions and 1:1 sessions, people have been diving into this practice to support their own self-evolution as well as deepening impact and relationships at work and at home. A couple years ago, a group of them came forward and shared how they continue to use the considerations and awareness that they had been practicing in all parts of their lives. They asked the beautiful question of how can we share this work with more people? The right answer seemed that it was time to curate a publication that served to reflect all the amazing work that was being done in community. Since true wisdom and self-evolution comes from inquiry, the elements of Consider reflect that theme highlighting considerations, conversations, photography and reflection on poetry; all from people who have been impacted by this work of self-governance.
Balance is an overused word. What specifically does it mean to you in blending personal growth with professional growth?
Honestly, there’s no difference between them. There is just growth. The congruency between how you show up in your personal and professional life is most indicative of the congruency you have cultivated within yourself and your emotional state and expression. This congruency takes practice. And while we practice to create more ease in how we show up in all parts of our life, there will always be effort. If we look at professional and personal development as skill-based, then we have to keep our attention to the reality that you can’t just learn a skill. You have to practise it to truly develop. Another key piece to cultivating this congruency is a practice of evolving where you are in a moment; not just big picture thinking, or only future planning. There’s a line that says. “What got you here may not be what will get you there”. This is also true in the process of personal growth and understanding of relationships to others. To allow for the greatest possibility to deepen one’s awareness and consideration for how they show up in the world. We see so many examples today of people in leadership being called on about how they have managed their own understanding of self and relationships with others. We are interested less in how much wealth or power one accumulates, and more curious and inspired by what kind of awareness a leader has for the impact of their behaviour on others, and the responsibility they take for that impact and their own self-governance.
What goal, what trait will move us toward self-discovery?
Self-discovery is not about a goal. It’s smaller than that, but more serious. For this work of self-governance, there is a quote from an unknown author we use as a guidepost: “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” This quote, used by Steven Covey to describe the work of Austrian psychiatrist Viktor Frankl describes the closest thing to any kind of “goal” one might hope for in the work of inquiry and self-discovery. We are constantly practicing on exploring that space. With ourselves and in relationship with others in the world. Inquiry, awareness, presence. All of these require effort and a continued practice of curiosity, compassion and humility. Again and again. The world will not cease to create stimuli. Therefore, there will always be a moment before our response where we can refine and explore who we want to become, how we want to show up and what impact our behaviour may have.
Can you describe the difference between emotional wisdom and emotional intelligence?
It goes back to the principle of practice. You can gather all the knowledge. You can quote all the great philosophers, theorists and poets. But if you don’t actually practice compassion, curiosity and kindness for yourself and others you haven’t really done much. The wisdom is in the embodiment of the awareness that comes from self-reflection. How you show up, the quality of your presence is what matters. Nothing you can say can “prove” that you have wisdom. It is in reflection on how you behaved in situations and reflection by others about how you treated them, engaged and impacted them, that wisdom can be felt and understood. Wisdom emanates from you. Emotional Wisdom is a “being” not a doing. It is not a goal or an outcome, it is a process of recognizing both your own responsibility for your behaviour toward others and being continually in practice of discerning ways to show up in more congruency with your deep beliefs about yourself.