Comfortable with uncertainty?

How comfortable are you when you do not yet know the eventual outcome of a particular decision or choice you have made in life? 

You know it was something you wanted to do, for multiple reasons, and yet it did not turn out exactly as you had planned. For some reason though, you trust that is is still the direction you are meant to follow, and that each bend in the road helps you master new a set of skills for the next part of the journey.

Unsettling for a while though, isn’t it? 

Especially when all of the advice you are getting leads you back to the place you left. It is well-meaning advice, but it simply does not satisfy the place in your heart that yearns for growth in a different direction.

bend in the road.JPG
Photo credit link 

So you politely thank people for their advice, which may be based on their own fears about their situations more than an accurate assessment of yours. Then you continue doing what you know you must do, following the intuition that will lead you to the next right thing. It is not for the faint of heart, this uncertainty. And yet it can open us up to the types of growth we are meant to experience.

When the doors start to open and your path becomes more clear, you again begin to trust that inner compass. You know that you can choose to remain in your wholeness, and approach your life with presence and lightness every day. And all of these gifts and lessons travel with you to the next place where you will face new trials, and traverse new territory.

Uncertainty can feel uncomfortable. But ultimately knowing that you have the resourcefulness and resilience to meet the next challenge with grace, or at least with a willing and curious spirit, can make all the difference.

Keep your heart open to those moments of knowing, even when your inner critic starts voicing the doubts that others may speak openly. This is that nexus where your vulnerability joins with courage (thank you, Brené Brown). This is where the magic happens.

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

 

 

Resilience workshop

On Monday I had the honor of sharing some favorite meditation practices during a workshop on the Neuroscience of Resilience with an engaged group of job-seekers. When we are in times of transition or challenge, being able to engage our parasympathetic nervous system to calm the body is key. We can bring a sense of equanimity and balance to decisions and actions we take.

resilient tree
Photo credit link

The group was excellent. They participated readily, brought their perspectives into the room and asked great questions. I really enjoyed pulling together the presentation and materials for this session. I had in mind the struggle of being between jobs and careers, and I know this can be a place of uncertainty and stress. It can also be a place of discovery and growth, should we choose to embrace that side of the process.

It takes self-compassion to remain resilient in the face of challenges or struggles. Those of us who have harsh inner critics can feel as though we need to “reprogram” ourselves in a way. Self-criticism can be so habitual that it feels automatic. But when we access that higher self, that inner mentor, and allow ourselves some kindness, paradoxically we find it easier to take actions and move forward.

This group is able to tap the resources of Career Partners International, so they are fortunate to have support during their transition. I hope I was able to add to their toolkit of resources to help them along the journey. What a great privilege it is to be able to share on a topic I have studied for so many years for my own benefit, and on behalf of the teams I have led.

I am humbled and grateful.

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

 

 

 

51 percent

From a young age I have been encouraged to strive for excellence. My parents did not exert much pressure, mind you. But I think the fact that they were teachers probably drove my expectations about academic achievement. I thought that “winning” was doing well in school, and since learning came fairly easily to me, I aspired to this type of achievement.

Looking back, I remember taking on a heavy course schedule, especially in middle and high school, when we could select our electives. I also participated in many school activities, band, forensics (what they called public speaking) and various other extras I was encouraged to add because I was deemed “gifted” due to test scores.

At the same time, some teachers in middle school in particular thought that I was not working up to my potential. I distinctly remember my 6th grade reading teacher explaining this to my parents at conferences. We had page number requirements for books we had to read and I remember that 1500 per quarter was considered grade A level (1200 = B, 900 = C). My reading list typically listed 4000-5000 pages for each quarter, or about 300% of A level.

I was (and am) a voracious reader, but not as excited then about writing reports or summaries of what I had read. Of course, I did not always remember a lot of what I had read (and I now know variable attention was a factor). At the speed I was going, I just wanted to cover as much ground as possible. Even today, I typically get through books quickly. But now I tend to read them more closely a second time if they have a larger impact on me. This habit worked well in college for getting through vast amounts of material, and then selecting what needed to be studied rather than simply read.

Fifty one percent

At work, it has been my habit in my career to attempt to give 110%, to go above and beyond what is needed. I realize this was a cultural norm for the company I recently worked for, which had in its mission statement the words “striving without reserve” for the greatest possible reliability and quality. While I appreciate the intent, the “without reserve” part always bothered me.

For many years, my personal “reserves” ran low constantly. By giving so much to my work so consistently, I short-changed close relationships, friendships, and even my own health at times. I received promotions and advancement, but at what cost? Since I experience variable attention, I often arrived early or stayed late so I could work while it was quiet and there were less interruptions.

Ironically enough, in my final year I realized that cutting back on work hours generally, and giving less (more like 90% rather than 110%) made me much more effective in the hours I actually worked. When I use the tools of more sleep, meditation, better mental and emotional management, and good quality food and exercise, and more time away from work to rest and play, I make better decisions.

In yoga teacher training, we are learning about the concept of non-striving, about giving 51% in our practice, the just right stimulus for growth, rather than 110%. As someone who has taken a break from the full time work world for 9 months, I likely embrace the concept more readily than many. It chafes against our cultural conditioning. And that can be a good and necessary thing.

In a world that often tells us we are “never enough” we need to re-think what is essential, and what is extraneous. Not all days or phases of our lives are identical, of course, and we may need to adjust accordingly. But sometimes giving 51% and keeping some energy for ourselves is appropriate and what gives us resilience for the longer term.

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

 

Change and our inner voices

Hello Friends,

I have been reading a wonderful little book for my Yoga Teacher Training and I wanted to reflect a bit on it. Making a Change for Good by Cheri Huber is getting me to rethink my coaching practice and also the self-coaching and mentoring we can do as we meditate and become more self-aware.

Some of the quotes which have impacted me the most since doing the reading, discussing with my colleagues and then re-reading:

“In meditation we find the center of conscious, compassionate awareness, and from that place mentor the young parts of ourselves who never had anyone help them understand their wants and needs.”

Making a Change for Good.jpgThe idea is that we all have sub-personalities that evolved when we were young to help us behave in certain ways to get the care and attention we needed from adults at the time. This leads to the illusion of a separate self from the rest of life, a principle Cheri Huber calls “Egocentric Karmic Conditioning.” She explains that self-hate is the process that EKC uses to remain in power.

It is really fascinating. I previously called this voice the “inner critic” but I definitely can sense it arising when I am about to do something courageous or bold. My voice often says “who do you think YOU are?” and it sometimes gets me to scurry back to safety before I risk anything too vulnerable. But we all have these voices. Acknowledging that they are a product of conditioning, and dis-identifying with them compassionately is how we decrease our suffering and create permanent changes in our lives.

“So much of what passes for education is nothing more than adults inflicting their unexamined beliefs and assumptions onto children and projecting their own unexamined reasons and motivations onto children’s reactions.”

This is profound stuff. Since I am fascinated by theories of behavior change, and how we can adopt more healthy and sustaining practices to live well, this is my jam! It dovetails nicely with what I am learning on coaching for transformation. I am so eager to put this work into practice!

What do the inner voices say to you each day? How often do you listen? 

cristy@minnesotana.com

 

Showing up as me

Do you ever feel like you are playing a role when you show up for an interview?

You know, there is a “song and dance” routine and you are expected to go through certain motions. You know the answers you are expected to give. You have been on the other side of the interview table, perhaps, on a selection committee a few times. And yet, you are unable to play the game in the way that you did before.

Salt and pepper hair
This photo was taken a few weeks ago before I covered some gray. Okay, full disclosure: I showed up as me with a little root touch up. And I’m unapologetic about that too! 

I think being 2 months shy of 45 has given me certain perspective on what I value. It has change the way I choose to show up these days. I no longer have a need to put on a “front” when I talk with people, at least beyond some social graces.

There’s a comfort level in my body, within being in my own skin, showing up as me,  unapologetic and real. It is freeing. I have gained experience in many challenging situations in the past couple decades. I’ve made lots of mistakes. And I’ve learned valuable lessons along the way. I’ve had success in a lot of areas, and I can own that success, and not be sheepish about claiming those victories.

I give tremendous credit to years of yoga and the past year of dance classes. Trying new things, and risking appearing foolish as a beginner has given me more confidence in trying other new things. I know that new moves (whether they are dance routines or yoga poses) can be learned and practiced, and that skills are built over time and with regular commitment.

I found out on Wednesday (after my Tuesday interview) that I will be asked for the third (and presumably final) interview for a position that excites me. I am getting better at showing up as me, rather than some image of who I think I am supposed to be. Perhaps that is ultimately the work of our lives, knowing ourselves and honoring those calls to grow.

cristy@meximinnesotana.com