Personal Writing

Look at that, your Champagne’s gone flat

I started the next Personal Systems Disruption group this week. This time, a six-week course on Monday evenings. This group of five people, three women and two men, are all over the map. They range from ages 25-50. They are in marketing, engineering, entrepreneurship, construction and the nonprofit sector. Two have children, three do not. One is married, two are long-term partnered; I don’t know how the other two define their relationship status. One lives far away but grew up here; three live here and one lives in the ruralist of rural spots. At least one is adopted. One is bi-racial. Two know each other from a previous professional life. All know me, although that ranges, too, from incredibly well to only through my blog content.

Interestingly, they all have an artistic side even though only two of them actively work in the arts, and neither as their full-time gig. Four play and make music, and at least one is working on a full-length book. I bet they all have a number of original pieces of art in their homes—I can guarantee two of them definitely do because I’ve personally provided some of the art that lives with them.

It’s going to be a fascinating six weeks with this seemingly disparate group of individuals who all came to Personal Systems Disruption work for different personal reasons. And I look forward to getting to know these five people better and seeing how we work together to come up with the first steps to what is next for each of them.

I am a true believer that those who show up are the ones who are meant to be there. That has absolutely played out in the past PSD weekend retreats, and I believe it will work that way with this group, too. But I always want more.

I have spent inordinate amounts of time these last six months wondering why more people aren’t showing up to do this work. Nearly everyone I know literally wants more of something in their life: more time, more money, more excitement, more experiences, more opportunities, more challenges, more love, more, more, more.

And people know me, and they know that my work is good. So what’s the problem? Why do I feel like I’m practically begging people to sign up to do this work?

The Long and the Short of It or Damn, My Glass is Empty

A short play by Dayna Del Val

Scene: A cocktail party with passed hors d’oeuvres and flutes of Champagne. An upright bass and piano play quiet jazz in the background. There’s a general murmur from the guests talking and mingling.

Guest to whom Dayna has just been introduced: So, what do you do, Dayna? (asked with some interest but also in that cursory tone)

Dayna: I’m a Personal Systems Disruptor (laughs a bit nervously knowing that that answer means nothing and feeling awkward once again after saying it out loud).

Guest (pause. stops drinking Champagne mid-drink): What is that? (eyes darting around in case there’s anyone more important available)

Dayna (takes big breath and nervously laughs again, fighting the urge to say “I hate to preface, but I have to give you some back story…”): Last fall I was awarded a two-week writing retreat out on a very remote farmstead in the middle of North Dakota. I went to work on one project, but it became pretty clear that it wasn’t going anywhere. But, in that time, my physical and mental rhythms (my personal systems) were broken (disrupted), and it was incredibly powerful. I realized (actually, I had one of those lightning bolt moments) I could do this work with other people who have things they want to do next but don’t really know how to take the first step. Or they do, but they’re afraid of looking stupid or of failing. Because it worked so well for me, I adapted what I did in those two weeks: some visualization, writing, talking (ok, sure mostly to myself, but I was still talking!), thinking, reading and watching others, I started to see patterns emerge. So now I give people all kinds of tools on how to think about what they want, how to go from theory to practicality in the first 48 hours, the first 90 days and the first three years.

Guest: Oh. (pause) Wow. (looks to now empty Champagne flute with regret)

Awkward silence.

Dayna: Yup.

End scene.

My coach assigned me this interesting talk about getting clearer (and maybe just the tiniest bit more succinct) on what I do. Perhaps she got lost in my less-than-clear explanation of what I do???

My new answer to “What do you do?” is: I help dreamers take the first step.

Please Tell Me More or Look at That, Your Champagne’s Gone Flat

A short play by Dayna Del Val

Scene: A cocktail party with passed hors d’oeuvres and flutes of Champagne. An upright bass and piano play quiet jazz in the background. There’s a general murmur from the guests talking and mingling.

Guest to whom Dayna has just been introduced: So, what do you do, Dayna? (asked with some interest but also in that cursory tone)

Dayna: I help dreamers take the first step. (gives a happy and confident wave to someone she knows in the crowd)

Guest: (pause. stops drinking Champagne mid-drink): Really. Tell me more.

Dayna: I’m actually the world’s first Personal Systems Disruptor. (laughs in that way that acknowledges the “what???” look on the Guest’s face without making Guest feel awkward) Let me explain. I work with people, primarily women, who have personal or professional dreams they want to pursue but for a number of legitimate reasons, and often excuses that feel legitimate but really aren’t, they simply can’t get going. I provide practical and tangible tools to help them identify their dreams and take the first step in 48 hours, 90 days and 3 years. And I do it in six weeks. Look at that, your Champagne’s gone flat. (gently takes the flute of Champagne from Guest, places it down and picks up two new flutes of Champagne as they are going past, offering a thank you to the server) Here’s to Disrupting your own Personal Systems!

Guest: When does the next course begin? (clinking of the glasses)


I have fabulous content in place, and I am trying out some new elements with this current cohort that I’m really excited about. Now I’m starting to drill down on who I’m generally for. I need to define that and be ok with leaving others out, at least for now. This week, I’ve been kicking around the idea of inviting executive women to be part of a small cohort and do this work together, very early in the morning (think once a week for six weeks, 6-7:30am since that seems to be the only time open for many women I know). That’s generally pre-getting kids and self ready for work, pre-first conference call, pre-have to be at my desk time.

And this group of 5 who are working with me right now? I’m delighted to be getting ready for session number 2. To be thinking about how to deepen their connections to each other and bring even more meaningful content to the course. They showed up, so they are the right people at the right time to disrupt their personal systems. And guess what? I know I’m the right person to help them do it.

End scene.

Dayna Del Val is on a mission to help others (re)discover the spark they were born with through her blog and newsletter, her professional talks and the (re)Discover Your Spark retreats she leads. Dayna works with people to help them not just identify and articulate their dreams but to develop a framework to get going on the pursuit of those dreams—today, in the next few months and for the years ahead. She's at the intersection of remarkable and so, so ordinary, but she knows that pretty much everyone else is, too. She's excited to be sharing this extraordinary journey with you.

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