“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.” – Maya Angelou

How true is that? Well – I have an idea. I’ve been noodling on some things since the new year, looking for ways to add more WONDER to my LAND (see last week’s blog). The fermentation of that noodling is a project I want to launch called Project Butterfly, and I invite you to join me. Interested?

Here’s the concept.  One is not born a butterfly, one becomes one.  That’s true for the butterfly, and it’s also true for us, as people interested in leading ourselves to a happier, more productive, more satisfying life.

The butterfly birth process begins with eggs (ideas or thoughts), then those become caterpillars (those thoughts and ideas grow when they are well-fed), then it holes up in its own little cave (think going deep inside you for thinking, reflection – aha’s and insights), and then voila!  Out pops a butterfly.  Butterflies are an important part of the universe’s ecosystem.  So are we. Each one of us plays an important role – more important than we know.

What if we spent time over the next six weeks focusing on what our butterfly would look like – what would it look like if we migrated from where we are today, to a point of greater potential, using our strengths, leveraging our passions, and knowing ourselves well – from the inside out?  What would we feel like?  How would the world see us?  What changes would we see, feel, hear, and enjoy?

I can’t say what they would be, for each person’s journey would be unique.  The only thing I can guarantee is the journey itself.  Where you are today is not where you will be in six weeks. 

In case the notion of six weeks feels kinda random (don’t blame you for wondering!) there is a bit of structure I’ve created to support us.  A general roadmap, if you will, for we don’t want to start from a blank page.  A blank page is too easy to leave blank.  It has too much gravity – we want a little rocket booster to help us get started.

Well, I have just the thing for you.

Week #1:

Choose your word(s).  Why this?  Well, each butterfly is unique, and as such, each of us will need to find a word, or two words, or a phrase to describe our journey and keep us focused on the destination.  I decided to take this step myself after reading the fabulous blog by Bonnie at The Paperkeeper, and the impact of choosing one word for year has had on her and her world.  Click here to go read it – it is short and impactful, and click here to see words others chose.   My words?  I was starting with WONDER (for my land) but I’ve decided, after reading Bonnie’s blog, to choose WONDER-fully FEARLESS. My butterfly is going to be WONDER-fully FEARLESS so that I make better choices, personally and professionally.  My future will be different from my past.  I will land in a place, six weeks from now, that is closer to where I want to be. Are you with me so far?

Take the Strengthsfinder if you haven’t done so already.  We’re going to use a strengths-based approach to becoming fully.  It does require a small investment of $9.99 at but as my friend Amy said, “I spend time and money on a manicure, or a lunch – why wouldn’t I do the same with my strengths? Surely they deserve at least that much time a week.”   Indeed. (Hint: Make sure to read the Insight Guide report – it is unique to you – it is the jewel in the process.)  I am committed to supporting you on your journey if you commit to learning your strengths!

Watch your world for a week. See if you find your word/phrase popping up.  Note what you love most about your work or your world.  Note what you dislike the most.  Just jot it down in terms of “I loved doing XXX.” Or “I felt great when XXX.”  And capture in one line what you didn’t like as well. There will be things that undermine or violate your word or phrases.  We’re simply going to shine a spotlight on all of it so that we respond well, from a point of awareness. Responding well is an important aspect of self-leadership.

Then, next Sunday, let’s share what we’ve learned in the first week.  If we form a learning circle, we will think about what we learned, and what we can do with the information.  If we share in the comments, we can all learn from one another (which is where the fun is.)  Hint: If you want to leave comments, you have to click on the “register here” link and create a user ID.  Just create an id/password that you can remember, or write it down. If you have trouble, contact me and I will help you.

In WEEKS 2 – 6, we’ll focus on one strength a week, leveraging the Insight Guide, combined with our words, blended with the special sauce that we’ll receive from each one of us!  How will I use my strengths to be WONDER-fully FEARLESS?  I don’t know yet, but I’m excited to start!

This might be a good time to find an accountability buddy – someone who travels the path with you. Is there a colleague or friend that you know would be fun to play with?  Invite them.  Invite whomever you’d like.

I can see hundreds of butterflies – yellow, orange, blue, black, white –  dancing in the wind, the sunlight flashing off our wings… this is going to be awesome!  

16 thoughts on “PROJECT BUTTERFLY

  1. Count me in!
    My word is FOCUS. I am not sure it is a good word, it certainly doesn’t seem to come easily to me, but that is why I have let it choose me.
    We don’t seem to be using our words in week 1 – is that correct? I just need to watch my world and spot what is good, and what is not so good. Normally I just take what is there and don’t really react to highs and lows. Noticing my world will be an interesting experience, and the start of my FOCUS?

  2. Hi Hazel! I love that you let the word choose you. And even better that it’s something you haven’t FOCUSED on before. :-) Right, I think let’s use the power of observation for a week – see what’s there, what’s not, when the word Focus appears, or if you find yourself paying more attention when it does not appear.

    In the east, they teach by observation (quite different from the west – we are often told in my Tai Chi class to just watch. In fact, to hone our observation skill, there is one form that, in theory, is taught without explanation. Even if a student has a question, they aren’t allowed to voice it, they must show where they are struggling, then the teacher repeats the posture. It’s all done in silence, with is both joyful and frustrating. It’s joyful if you’re the teacher, it’s frustrating if you’re the student! :-) So, kind of watch your world. Note whatever you observe. There is no right or wrong on this journey, there is only YOUR journey. And while we will walk side by side, we will each have different experiences along the way. :-) So glad you’re on board! Feel free to invite colleagues and friends to experience this as well.

    One last thing – I have to say that I did something yesterday because of my words, WONDER-fully Fearless. I sent five emails that required a bit of calm courage. In the past, maybe I would have sent them, maybe not. But there was no maybe this time. I chose to be WONDER-fully Fearless, yet detached from the outcome. One person has replied, and while it wasn’t the response I had hoped for, it did leave me with a sense of WONDER, because I chose to reach out, and I’m not upset or hurt by the outcome. In fact, quite the opposite. I was WONDER-fully Fearless, and that felt darn good! Onward!

  3. You know you can count me in! I’m excited about week one and the observation ahead. I love how you are starting here. Being a leader in our lives starts with awareness…of what’s going on within us, with others, with our surroundings. You are grounding us here. Super fantastic.

    My word is PEACE.

    My strengths are Strategic, Relator, Maximizer, Connectedness, Responsibility.

    Looking forward to a week of ‘watching my world’ and honing my observational skills – here’s to awareness!

    Thought I would share with you one of my favorite butterfly quotes, which seemed somehow fitting with where we are on our journey:

    Happiness is like a butterfly which, when pursued, is always beyond our grasp, but, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you. Nathaniel Hawthorne

    • Hi Vicki! Loving that PEACE will be what you share with us as we embark on this journey. Can’t wait to see what you think after your week of observation.

      I’m getting some private emails about this as well, which is fine and completely okay. There are no real rules here, other than to keep an open mind to what we see along the path. And Hawthorne reminds us that it’s easier to find if we are quiet, reflective, and calm.


  4. Thank you Maureen!

    My word is HEART. My butterfly is going to lead with its HEART, land on things that make a difference, sip a little nectar and pollinate as it moves ahead.

    My strengths are Achiever, Learner, Arranger, Intellection, Connectedness.

    Cannot wait to see how the week unfolds!

    • Hi April! Love your HEART word – and how your butterfly is going to use that as wind beneath its wings, to spread awesomeness around the earth. And with your great strengths, I can see how that could happen. The process of pollination is kinda like the process of leveraging Connectedness + Achiever + Arranger, don’t you think? Thank you for sharing your perspective – it motivates me!

  5. From: Inez Jordan
    Subject: Butterfly

    Hi Maureen,
    I would like to participate in your “Butterfly” project.

    My word will be “ACTION”. I have a day job as an Executive Project Manager. However, I have spent much time and money preparing and educating myself for my next “passion” career – becoming an online instructor for project management courses. I have my e-learning certification and have shadowed other instructors, etc.
    However, I have a problem making the next step. I have promised myself that will dedicate
    several hours per week to following subject matter experts in the field and then I must “Take Action”, make a step by approaching a local college or an online institution to learn more about
    getting into the field as an online instructor. Scary stuff.


    Marie Inez

    • Hi Marie! So excited to have you here with us! And very pleased to hear about your next steps in your project management career! And you’re right. You’ve done the heavy lifting, you’ve done your home work, now it’s time to raise your hand and say to the world, “I’m ready to teach!” We will support you as you take ACTION. It begins with your intention, which you’ve shared here with us today. Can’t wait to watch the journey unfold!

    • Marie, one thought now that I see your strengths. Could it be that Intellection (the need to think and think) and Maximizer (the need for it to be really quite perfect as possible!) are preventing you from taking that action you want? If so, it’s time to put those in your back pocket, and lead with your commitment (discipline), Learner (you love new things!) and Individualization – making you a great teacher who would see each person as wonderful and unique. Perfect for the new role! There is a time and place for both Intellection & Maximizer – part of our journey is owning our strengths (and controlling them) rather than them controlling us. Let me know what you think of that idea…

  6. My word is DISCOVERY. I think this perhaps anti- to my strengths (Intellection, Analytical, Input, Deliberate, Discipline), but that is the point! I declare 2014 to be my year of DISCOVERY, both internal and external!

    • Hi Jen! DISCOVERY – what a lovely word to choose to support you on this journey. You do have amazing strengths – they are all low frequency, meaning you have a HUGE opportunity to be misunderstood. And at the same time, look at what you can offer the world. So I see, as you said, Internal and external discovery, but I also see that from our point of view – we will DISCOVER how you rock the world, and help you “do more of that.” I know you’re off to Thailand soon (talk about DISCOVERY!) and I hope you’ll keep a journal of what you do, see, learn, feel, give, so we can celebrate with you. Onward!

  7. Hello All,

    My chosen word is ACTION. For the past two weeks that has been my focus. I am currently trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. I have over 25years of project management experience, but am very excited about what is happening in the e-learning / adult online education field.
    My action has been 1) to talk with my upper management about career advancement opportunities. DONE. )2 investigate additional training as an e-learning instructor /instructional designer. DONE. Next step “sign-up”..

    I am inspired my the butterfly project.


    • Hi Marie! I love your word! ACTION – no getting stuck for you! Action will help you keep your motor running, and that’s what we need. This isn’t a landing spot, it’s a process. I’m very excited about your interested in e-learning. i look forward to hearing more about it. And look at the ACTION you have already taken! Talking to your management, and investigating educational choices – GOOD FOR YOU!

      Next step – SIGN UP! We hear you and will be asking about how that is going – we are your partners on this journey!

  8. My sister forwarded me and asked me to do this with her. As always her timing could not have been anymore perfect. A friend and I just decided on Monday that we’re going on an exercise journey which we want to become part of our lifestyles, not just a crazy fad.
    I would generally consider myself a positive person, but the word that just threw itself as me when I was reading this was ‘CAN’…I always tell myself
    ‘I can’t do this’ as I’m half way through completing something i’ve completed a hundred times before
    ‘I can’t be bothered’, my life isn’t challenging or stressful and I wouldn’t consider myself busy- so why can’t i be bothered? I have time, I just don’t use it!

    I CAN do stuff, I do a lot of good stuff, but I know I need to challenge myself more with CAN.

    • Welcome Heidum! Love your positive energy (and it always rises when we introduce Green Eggs and Ham, doesn’t it?) :-) Look forward to hearing about your path. There will be ups and downs – and that’s what makes it NOT a crazy fad. Your friend is welcome here as well. Onward!

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