“You are your choices.” ~Seneca

Remember, before each conversation, set time aside not to create a plan for what you are going to talk with them about and how they may react, but instead to relax, rest and focus on words like “acceptance”, “appreciation” and “allowance.” Know your boundaries with clarity; and with curious sensitivity make room for the words like “engaging”, “enthusiasm” and “encouragement.”


Keep your blind spots in mind and make sure they lead you where you need to go and do not distract you unknowingly. As Annika Matins posed in a recent post “If I want clarity and connection in my relationships, what the heck do I expect to happen when I begin our conversations with restless, twitching unfocused-ness? What I bring to any interaction is (usually) what I receive from it. So it boils down to this: Before walking into tough conversations, we must get clear on who we want to be in that moment.”


For all of us it is not only who do I want to be, but how do I get my needs met while staying true to whom I am. Moreover all of us want what we want when we want it.


Matins writes:

“This doesn’t mean that your body language and words will be in permanent alignment with the qualities you’ve chosen to focus on. And it certainly doesn’t mean you’ll now morph into some super-human communicator deluxe. You will still mess up, somehow. That’s part of being human. But, I believe, you will mess up less.


I believe that when you get deliberate about the intention and energy you want to carry into a conversation or a room, you shift the dynamic.


The context moves from He-made-me-say-it to I choose these words. I choose these actions. You are no longer floundering around. You are no longer a victim or a puppet of the circumstances and people around you. You’re making clear, conscious choices about the person you want to be. That’s what true power is. That’s what it means to create your life.


So before you open your mouth or write the email or turn the doorknob, be clear as seawater about who you want to be in that moment. And then be that.”


These are powerful reminders of the Cultural Intuitiveness™ definition and that we are not striving to be perfect, we are striving to be real in a manner that is respectful, voice-giving, corporative and focused on building a peace-filled, productive environment. We choose to not be constantly tossed by the unpredictable sea of change but to chart a course and navigate with the winds of change, riding the waves and harnessing its power so that we arrive not just safely, but in a consistently healthier place.


To evolve in your ability to be culturally intuitive can ensure that you have the ability to navigate change in both your personal and professional lives. We celebrate with you your evolution to this point and look forward to continuing this journey with you.


The recent Earth Day celebration was an opportunity to celebrate our planet, connecting us with the beauty of the natural world, with which many of us now have increasingly limited experience. Yet, many media stories focused on the politics of climate change, seeking to reduce the Earth Day observance to another partisan clash. Communication about protecting the air, land, and water has been going on for over 50 years. Most Americans have given the issue of environmental protection and climate change some thought and have now chosen connectors and information sources they believe and those they distrust about the issue. The media portrays two entrenched sides on environmental issues who can no longer hear one another. And studies now suggest that additional information about environmental issues actually has a backfire effect with those disinclined to believe new information that doesn’t align with their already held beliefs.  This would seem to be an intractable debate. Yet, unlike other entrenched issues, this one can have long term, irreversible consequences on our natural resources and food supply. So how can two seemingly intractable positions find any common ground to start the conversation?

Context–Value 4 of Cultural Intuitiveness—asks this very question: How do you take your seemingly logically founded plan you have developed in communication with those you have come to agreement with and get others, who were not in your communication circle and may not be so like minded, to respond to it with support—or at least not serve as a barrier?

Considering the context of your plan can help you identify what may likely influence the perceptions of those who are not in your immediate communication and planning circle. Of those who have the ability to help you advance with your plan or halt you in your tracks, are they concerned about the immediate economic costs (especially theirs) associated with your great idea or plan? Will they have to share or give up some (or all) of their power if your plan moves forward? Will their social relationships be impacted negatively by your plan? Will they have to communicate or receive messages that may not be comfortable for them? Appreciating how these 4 conditions—economic, political, social, communication—create the context in which your plan will play out not only can help you anticipate how your plan will be received, but also help you find places where you can find commonality by framing your plan in a way that is important to those that you need to  hear you.


Using this approach, we were able to advance a very proactive approach to address substance abuse issues in Kentucky, a Commonwealth which did not have a history of investing state resources in this multi-generational social problem. We appreciated that the leaders both at the state and community level, whom we needed to support our efforts, were most concerned about the allocation of financial and time resources. Rather than approach these leaders with an appeal for resources to support substance abuse prevention programs for at risk youth from the perspective of values for mental health or public health (a more social frame), we therefore approached our appeal using an economic frame. We proposed that supporting effective prevention programs across the state was as “Easy as ABC: Accountability, Best Practices and Cost Savings.”  Effective prevention relied on evaluation of evidence based practices which if supported and widely implemented would save resources (both financial and time) that would have to be spent on the consequences of substance abuse including not only mental and public health, but the education and criminal justice systems as well. This frame was both simple to appreciate and persuasive with our audience. We were able to continue to secure the resources and support we needed to advance our plan because those who may have wanted to detour the plan found this to be difficult since our new supporters appreciated the advantages of long-term cost savings and the accountability in the plan (a language they appreciated and outcomes they valued).

Researchers are now beginning to look at the context surrounding the environmental debate in a similar way. Analyzing the values that each side holds about the environment helps to determine how to best frame the messages so that each side can hear information about the environment in a way that resonates with their values. We would suggest that this is in fact the only way to advance the creation of a critical mass necessary to develop sustainable solutions to environmental issues—or any difficult topic—beyond the current state of partisan rhetoric and move us towards meaningful conversations and action.

“The very purpose of our life is happiness, which is sustained by hope. We have no guarantee about the future, but we exist in the hope of something better. Hope means keeping going, thinking, ‘I can do this.’ It brings inner strength, self-confidence, the ability to do what you do honestly, truthfully and transparently.”–Dalai Lama

Practicing Cultural Intuitiveness helps you to find and strengthen your hope by helping you discover how to connect with yourself and others more honestly, truthfully and transparently.




Family Tree (photoart by Carol Hays)


Our progress forward is propelled by the most important of tools (wisdom, wit, and whimsy) and resources (strength, sympathy, and strategic thinking). These tools and resources are the gifts given to us from the people who surround us. These individuals are our super power. They are behind us (having our backs) and they are in front us (leading by removing possible barriers from our paths and helping us choose the path that we need to follow). They are beneath us (helping us move when we are tired and crestfallen), and they are above us (helping us see what we cannot see, hear what we cannot hear, so that we can see and hear what is around us).  These people, our family and friends, are within us every moment of every day. They prune the branches and mulch the roots of our shared tree of life, keeping our roots firmly planted in the red soil and our branches bravely reaching toward the blue sky.

Those we connect with experience them through our words and deeds as we evolve in our embedding of the Cultural Intuitiveness™ values and principles. These people fill our knowledge gaps; teach us to be both creative and tech savvy.  These people fill our knowledge gaps; teach us to be both creative and tech savvy. These people who we take with us in our every moment are essential to our creative growth and entrepreneurial practice: they are our inspiration. They shape us and help us be who others encounter.


A Journey’s Path (photoart by Carol Hays)

We began our journey of Cultural Intuitiveness™ when we concluded that the focus on being cultural competent—so talked about but rarely practiced–needed to be more than words or documented only through a paper process (in our by-laws, check; in our break room, check; in our personal manual, check; etc).

Our journey continued as we researched and tested different concepts, tools and processes to increase cultural competence among the groups of individuals with whom we worked.

Along the way, we hit barriers–prejudice about our company’s Kentucky home and that neither of us looks like people who others perceive should have such a deep passion for and a deep interest in cultural competency.

The biggest risks we took were to change the name of what we do from cultural competency to Cultural Intuitiveness™.  While it is a much better fit the process and the outcomes we were seeking, the name change put us in a place of needing explain what it is we do.  We also created two work books based on our research, our insights, and our experience; holding them up in the bright light for criticism, rejection and scorn.

We realized that at the core of our work, values and principles, we are asking others to risk their vulnerability, remove the walls that serve to protect them. This meant for us that we had to be vulnerable and remove our walls of protection; we had to be who we are and want to be–culturally intuitive individuals.

Throughout our journey, we have had to take the time to look at the information we receive with a critical eye, to reflect on our own wants and needs, to engage in communication where we are fed as well as are feeding others, to embrace the gift of patience with that context put before and around our best laid plans, and to always be aware that the choice is not whether or not to change (as we are always changing) but whether or not to harness the power of that change in a manner that strengthens us because we are vulnerable and sustains us because we are taking additional risks as our journey continues.


Our work in Cultural Intuitiveness™ is to serve as the bridge built upon the principles of respect, voice, cooperating and building; a span of HOPE between what we know as our present and what we envision for our future. 


The Red Ocean, one side of the bridge, represents competition and rules.  Competition sharpens our skills, challenges our possible compliance.  Rules provide the structure and foundation needed to garner trust that we may all cross the bridge to our own Blue Ocean.  The other side, the Blue Ocean represents the freedom of the undiscovered, untested; both the potential and uncertainty that tomorrow holds.  To choose to live on the side of the undiscovered can be discomforting, challenging even. However, this discomfort is necessary fuel to embrace our own evolution to our potential. The undiscovered and untested along with the competition and rules are all needed and wanted for us to balance living in today and tomorrow simultaneously– known as the present.


To help individuals embrace the challenge of living in both oceans at the same time, Cultural Intuitiveness™ meets individuals where they are at, respectfully hearing their voice, working with them and building together their leadership skills, their communication skills, their cultural competency skills and empowering them to achieve their vision of contentment where their needs and wants are met. This is a purple world, a mix of both the red ocean shore and the blue ocean shore.



Purple Bridge  (Photoart by Carol Hays)

Our work, the work of being culturally intuitive, is not about disengaging from the present reality of rules and competition (the red ocean).  Our work is not about living in the limitless possibilities of tomorrow (the blue ocean).  Our work is about allowing the rules and competition to excite us, give us life.  Our work is about appreciating the possibilities and having the courage to create what we need and want.

The innovative perspective of Cultural Intuitiveness™ is an embrace of the strength and power of both the red ocean and the blue ocean, rejecting the aspects of each that take away our power, make us unsure of our position and make us feel stuck in place. Our CI work is about helping individuals start all conversations about themselves, how their world view shaped by their past interprets their present and either holds back or propels them to their future. This starting place provides them with the answers to questions about how their experience with the rules and competition either propels or drown them; as well as how their experience of the open sky and unlimited possibility excites them or frightens them.  


We help individuals better clarify their needs and wants, their capacity and readiness, their values and principles about their power and role to lead and communicate in a culturally competent manner, providing clear values and principles (red ocean) with the grace to apply them to be received well in each individual situation (blue ocean).  We focus on beckoning them onto and across the purple bridge of hope so that they can more readily transit between both sides of the ocean, receiving what they need and want to continue to evolve to their full potential. Our purpose for CI is to help those we work with to come to a place of comfort when they no longer need to reach back to the red ocean, letting go of the fear of letting go of what they know, the self imposed limitation of time and current skills. Those we work with to become certified in CI discover and strengthen the HOPE they need to move to and stay on the blue ocean side, a place of their limitless potential, where they no longer need the purple bridge or our presence to be their cultural intuitive authentic self alive in the blue ocean.



Flowing Through a Perfect Year (photoart by Carol Hays)

The perfect year of creating our energy, our art, would be similar to slow movement down a flowing body of water, moving forward, touching and changing the shoreline and being changed by it. Sometimes it floods; sometimes there is not sufficient flow to move easily over the water’s bottom. Sometimes it is sunny and cool; and other times sunny and hot. Sometimes we are moved along by gentle winds, other times by blowing gales. The changes are welcomed, even embraced, as each presents new hopes, new challenges and new growth. Staying hope-filled, empowered by the energy, touching and being touched by what we encounter–that is a perfect year of practicing cultural intuitiveness™.