I am used to using the term “DEI” to describe the kinds of work I do now in facilitating teams and helping them implement inclusion into their teams. This stands for diversity, equity and inclusion for those of you not into the alphabet soup of this field.
Recently I discovered a new term that I absolutely LOVE because it incorporates justice into the mix!
JEDI: justice, equity, diversity and inclusion.
I realize this is not going to go over well with corporations. Justice has never been a strong suit of that particular area of the economy. For for small and medium sized businesses or nonprofits I believe it works well. So from now and until a better term floats into public purview I am embracing the “JEDI practitioner” moniker…
Oh hell yeah…
P.S. Thank you, Princess Leia, for always showing us how it is done.
I hope you are well and are enjoying some New Year’s Eve peace and joy. As we bring this year to a close I know many of us are hoping that 2021 brings a little more lightness and brightness than 2020.
As someone who treasures time alone or in small groups, this was a year of relative freedom for me. While being released from a job can be stressful for many, I was grateful to have solid savings and unemployment funds to tide me over during the transition to my next venture.
I began a team coaching certification program in September at The Medici Group, which I will complete in February 2021. I enjoyed teaching yoga online through Healing Within Acupuncture & Wellness Studios. I provided personal coaching services to a few 1:1 clients, and I had lots of time for my favorite things: reading books, writing and snuggling on the couch with my hubby, with no pressure to be social.
I co-taught yoga sessions like “De-Stress for the Holidays” (available free on YouTube) with yoga sisters Amy Klous and Krista Steinbach, and connected with other wellbeing professionals at Ikigai Lab. I worked with my lovely coach, Stephanie, founder of Our Natural Wisdom. And I re-discovered my sense of purpose and mastery that led to me leaving a corporate position in 2018 to pursue my own endeavors.
One day, upon being asked (once again) for a bio prior to a presentation I was about to give, I threw up my hands in despair. Why do people keep wanting me to define myself based on my past? Seriously, it is an existential and also a practical question. I prefer to define myself based on my vision for the future. So I wondered if I might create community and offerings around embracing everyone’s gifts, not defining people based on roles, job titles or diagnoses.
As someone with variable attention (which I do not consider a deficit, as a diagnosis might suggest) I struggle to BE just one thing. I enjoy so many things, and my creativity is enhanced by my ability to see the connections between things. And while I am “mexi-minnesotana,” it is only ONE aspect of my personality, not the totality of me.
And I know this is true of YOU also! You are not just a mother, a sister, a teacher, a writer, a caregiver, an employee. You are a multi-dimensional, beautiful human being! Can we all take a moment to celebrate that? Okay, now carry on with your day. 🙂
While I know my business will evolve over time, for now I plan to write, speak and advocate for those of us that refuse to be tamed and tethered by the terms others use to define us. We will together Unleash, Unlearn, and Enliven. The world needs us, and it is time to step out of the shadows and be our full selves.
Grateful for the supportive community here that has actively championed my contributions here for 3+ years. Much love to you all!
-Old Arabic proverb (trusting the internet on this attribution, please correct me if you know a more specific source).
Have you ever heard this one?
Even for those of us who have faith, it does not give us license to be naïve about our future. Leaping without a net might be okay if your family is wealthy or inclined to bail you out. But I live in the real world, and come from humble beginnings.
I made a leap last August, away from a corporate manager position and into a sabbatical, some forays into self-employment: coaching, science writing, and freelance consulting. I designed and delivered some workshops: Embody the Leader Within You and the Neuroscience of Resilience. I began yoga teacher training, and I am loving that experience. I started with about 6-8 months of living expenses put away, and I earned a little money here and there.
I realized back in February/March that this was not going to be a sustainable living for me, and that our reserve funds were rapidly dwindling. So I took a bridge loan of sorts and then headed back into looking for full-time gigs. Good thing my credit is excellent, and I foresaw the shortfall a few months before it became mission-critical. Also good thing that I spent 10 months before I left the previous job in serious preparation for this time away, putting away extra money and hiring coaches to position myself for a break. I do not take that privilege for granted.
Though I will someday try a self-employment venture again, I was honored last week to accept a position at the University of Minnesota as a Program Manager in the Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute. I will begin on June 10th (my birthday!) and it feels like an amazing gift. As it turns out, the recruiter had contacted me originally on March 8th regarding this position. So it was about a 3-month period of messages back and forth, phone interviews, in person interviews, interacting with the hiring committee, and eventually the hiring manager (3 in person experiences).
I kept pursuing this one because I see it as a unique blend of an opportunity to build something new in an academic setting but at the same time apply my expertise in clinical research. At the same time, I had a hard time pursuing corporate positions, because I just do not see myself in that sort of role for now, so I did not bother.
Because I was having a positive experience with the interview process, I made a leap of faith and did not do much searching in the full-time realm for other jobs. I front-loaded my YTT studies, knowing that a full-time job may mean less time for focused study of yoga. And I am bringing my coaching practice to a mindful close while I allow lots of energy and time to learn the new job without too much distraction.
I am grateful that I took the leap, learned so much in the interim, and found myself a role that, though it pays less than my previous role in the corporate world, allows for a sustainable and regular income for my husband and me. It is on my “growth edge” and will stretch me in new ways. I am excited and a little nervous, as anyone might be in a new role. But I will embrace it. The faith I have developed in my own resilience serves me. And wherever the road bends next, I know I can meet the challenges ahead.
This week I have the privilege of enjoying some time near Lake Superior. My friend is attending a conference and I will be caring for her two kitties (one of which is pictured below) while she is away.
It was lovely to have some time to catch up with her for a day and a half or so before she leaves. It struck me how similar our career pivots have been in recent years. She is about 5 years ahead me. And while she left a tenured professor position at a University and I left a corporate position, I can tell we have some “threads” in common.
For one, we are finding that recruiters and hiring managers do not always “get” what to do with our experience. As knowledge workers, we often specialize in a particular area for a period of time, say 10-15 years. But then some of us get an “itch” to extend our skills, to stretch outside our comfort zones, or maybe to find work that speaks to our souls. Perhaps we found ourselves living someone else’s idea of success. At the time, it made sense to take that road, to fully immerse ourselves in an area of expertise. And then suddenly (or gradually) we grow out of it.
Many people think we are crazy. “Why the hell would you leave a secure job as a professor (or a clinical research operations manager, in my case)?”
Futurists often tell us that the work place is changing. We should expect to make major career moves every 5-10 years. It keeps us nimble, fresh and innovative. But the reality is that structurally, recruitment and sourcing professionals are not hiring this way. It is still about “ticking the boxes” and following a formulaic approach to look for talent, sadly.
My own timeline is such that I will likely head back to full time work soon, probably within the next month or two. I was feeling sad about this a few weeks ago, wondering if I had failed at this attempt at self-employment because I had not planned well enough. I had not narrowed down my niche properly perhaps, or I may thrive under conditions where I have a bit more structure than this wide open landscape.
However it is not failure if we learn from our experiences. And this time I will go back to the drawing board understanding myself better. I know more about the support I need to be productive. I have piloted and tested some ideas and workshop offerings. I have enrolled in yoga teacher training. I am moving forward.
Even if I do need to regroup and re-capitalize a bit, the dream endures. This retreat is an opportunity to go inward to get clear about my deepest longings. I am so grateful for the time and space for this process.
How many of you on my readership list are current or former members of a Toastmasters club?
I am curious, because if you are, you will know what an “ice breaker speech” is intended to do. It is a way of introducing yourself to the club in a 5-7 minute speech, and helping them to get to know you better.
Whenever I have to speak on a topic for which I have expertise, I feel comfortable. It is harder to give a speech about myself, because it feels more vulnerable and personal. However, after practicing using the voice recorder on my phone in the morning before the speech, I delivered in a way that felt authentic.
My main purpose was to explain the reasons I joined Toastmasters and give them some insight about my motivations, values and goals. I used the term “white Mexican” to describe how I see the world. I was pleased that I got great feedback on the speech and the evaluator thought I used humor, eye contact and gestures very effectively in the speech.
All in all, I am happy to be done with that one. I was not able to write out the speech or even put together an outline. I like to speak a bit more extemporaneously but somehow I found the words I needed by staying present and focused. I am grateful that it is a very kind an encouraging group, so I am looking forward to growing alongside the as we practice our public speaking, evaluation and leadership skills.
Thanks to all of you who encouraged me as I struggled with procrastination. I felt a huge surge of energy after this project was completed. I know the next one will go much better! The ice is broken!
I am going a little rant, so pardon me in advance for doing it. Of course if you choose to read my blog, this is what you’re going to get now and then. You accept it. Maybe you even enjoy it.
Many organizations lack the flexibility they will need to thrive in a future that looks very different from the present. Or possibly I have not found the “holy grail” of flex work yet, and if anyone can shed some light on this, I will be grateful.
The future of work will not have everyone working 8+ hours for 5 days a week. I am fairly sure of that, based on the research and reading I have done about the evolving workforce. But most companies still seem reluctant to take on employees at less than a 100% commitment. Not only do they want your time, they seem to want your soul.
Ideally for me, a 20-30 hour gig would be perfect. 3-4 days a week of full time work would be ideal, so I could build up the larger vision of my practice (the tagline of which is “Embody the Leader Within You“). I realize it takes time and clientele built over time to achieve my vision, and I am willing to work at it part-time for now, supplementing with a job in an organization. But most organizations either want 100% of your time, or nothing.
I was talking with a friend who is retired, and she told me she had planned to work part-time for a few months or a year for her employer. But they were not willing to consider that, after many years of full time work. When she decided to leave, they gave her 3 weeks to train her replacement and then she was gone. She is now retired now and doing all of the things she loves to do, living free and happy.
But that workplace missed out on some highly experienced and mature work. I am guessing that the Gen X or Baby Boomer manager did not properly value her contribution or may have had stereotypes about her ability to learn technology.
This is a sad state. I am a Gen X/cusper myself and I can often identify with the situation of millennials (Gen Y) individuals. However, in my limited experience with Gen Y versus Boomer employees, I would go for the latter every time. Mature workers show up every day and they understand that they will not receive a trophy just for doing the bare minimum.
I realize I am over-generalizing here, but mature workers know how to have a conversation. While some of them may be as wedded to their phones as the millennials, most have basic manners as well as focus and attention. They understand the subtle dynamics of social interaction, and how to adjust accordingly to circumstances.
I have worked with Boomer employees who got more done in 15 hours a week than the interns I hired who worked 40 hours a week. So please, if you are in a position to hire someone: do not rule out someone who wants to work for you for 25-30 hours a week. I will bet that that this person may be more productive in those hours than the 40 hour worker, and possibly more loyal if you hire them as well.