There is powerful energy created when women with similar journeys and struggles connect and share stories with each other. It is a combination of relief and joy when we realize we are not alone.
I witnessed this in my learning circle on Monday night, and I was inspired to consider how fascinating it is that we connected, and all of our commonalities. I am also pondering how best to facilitate some practices that can help us stay grounded and centered along the journey.
Of course, y’all know I’m an evangelist for meditation and yoga, so we will explore some simple practices that I have found to be particularly helpful. I am also requesting that they commit to some small daily action, with the support of the group, to help build and maintain their ability to show up at their best, at home, work or in the community.
Since this is the first time I have offered this series, we will see where it goes. But for now, I am so honored and grateful that these amazing women have elected to join me in staying open to learning practices that will support their growth.
On New Year’s Day this past week I attended a 2-hour yoga workshop in which I had the opportunity to reflect a bit on the past year. After some journal writing and reflection, we did a yoga practice and then finished with a meditation practice.
I enjoyed the opportunity to “digest” a bit of the past year, to celebrate it and to consider my strengths, or any limiting beliefs. In the final meditation the word/concept “integrate/integration” kept emerging for me, and variations on that word: integrity, integral, etc. I started thinking about the root of that word (think of integer) which is to make whole.
That seems appropriate, since this past year felt in many ways like a dismantling and releasing of what was no longer serving me. Then on Sunday I had another impulse to de-clutter, and to organize in my office (not something that comes naturally to me) so I followed it.
I allowed myself some time and space to consider the objects and books I have collected. What is that path of curiosity telling me? Which things can I can release? I have tried following the Kon Mari approach to do this all in one big project (which can take up to 6 months, she writes). But I have found I follow more of a spiral or cyclical path when it comes to releasing things. And that is just fine.
Releasing is necessary because we hold onto so much that we no longer need. This can be physical stuff, but more often it is out-dated stories we tell ourselves. I find that is the more “sticky” of our stuff. It is easy to give bags of unused and unneeded things to Goodwill. But how often do we enter into our deep consciousness to see what is floating around in there, and question if we want to keep it there?
When I did a coaching series with Elizabeth Dickinson this past fall, she was able to identify a few of the beliefs (or stories) I had carried about money that did not match my current reality. What an amazing gift, to release an old story that was holding me back. At one point, that story may have had a purpose. But it was at least a decade out-of-date. So I started trying on a different story, reinforcing a new belief that serves me better.
What is it you may need to release in order to thrive in your life?
I am a sucker for a good self-development book, especially one that is meant to help you “find your purpose” and live the life you truly want.
Sounds like a cliche, eh?
But that is probably because the “life I want” seems to change from decade to decade. When I was in my teens, I wanted to grow up and get away from my small town where I felt confined. When I was in my 20’s after college I just wanted to earn my own money and not have to live with my parents.
When I was 30 I got divorced because what I wanted was very different from want my ex wanted. (I tried to explain I’d never wanted children when we married. He was pretty sure I would change my mind. At age 44, I am still grateful I was not “talked into that.”) I finished my graduate degree with a Master of Liberal studies focusing on Nonprofit Management, but I still did not really know what I wanted to do.
I kept reading self development books to try to figure it out. But while I read a lot, I did not often do the exercises recommended in the books.
In my 30’s I disintegrated some networks, I jettisoned a great job and burned bridges without a plan or a safety net. Probably not the best move. But I am resilient, and I knew I’d find *something* to earn a living Fortunately found a job I enjoyed at a very large medical device company. This path allowed me to travel to Latin America regularly, which got me to reconnect with my roots in important ways, and re-discover my enjoyment of travel.
One of my mentors told me a year ago that I needed to figure out what my definition of success is. But I told him I have already succeeded. I was making more than twice the money I thought I could earn at my age. Materially, even though we still do not own our home, I have everything I need every day. That is more wealth than most people on the planet. He said “then you have to give back.” I agree.
A nagging voice inside me says I am not working “up to my potential.” I used to hate it when my middle school teachers told me that. I graduated salutatorian of my high school class. What more did they want from me?
In retrospect, I can can see that my ability to focus on many things at once is not a detriment. Lack of focus means I had a LOT of interests. Choosing just one, or even just two, has always felt like Sophie’s Choice to me.
I am working with a coach right now who is helping me whittle this down. But I may just have to accept that I am a multi-potentialite (a term coined by Emilie Wapnick). Please watch her Ted Talk if you can relate.
For now, I am doing the exercises that my coach (and most of the self-help books I have read) have recommended. The habit of devouring books is not something I will get over any time soon. Now, I have to stop using that as a diversion and do the work, finish the exercises, and see what they reveal. Scary, no?
This week’s Saturday Share goes to the blog at Elizabeth Dickinson’s website, Pursue Your Path.
Full disclosure. I have already read Elizabeth’s recently released book, The Concise Coaching Handbook: How to Coach Yourself and Others to Get Business Results. I posted my review on Amazon if you are interested in the topic, well worth the read. I also plan to do some coaching with her over the next few months as I launch my consulting venture. I have really been impressed with her career and accomplishments over the years that I have known her.
Elizabeth writes about many topics of interest to me, such as developing leadership on your team, and the fact that you are your own expert on your life. I really like her premise and her approach. If self-coaching or coaching others is of interest to you as well, I encourage you to check out her work.
On Thursday I met a colleague for coffee who I have not seen in a while. We have traveled together in Colombia and Chile, and she has been a trusted confidante. She was eager to hear about my next gig. I have been refining my “elevator speech” for my network in the company that are curious enough to ask about what I plan to do.
Many colleagues are surprised I am leaving my current company, as I was labeled “high potential” and typically the company pours a lot of resources into developing their “high po’s” as we call them. But that is actually one reason I am leaving. They want to invest in their top 10-15%. That is supposed to trickle down to everyone else. In an ideal work, I suppose it works. I want to invest in 100%. Or at least in 90% – maybe the bottom 10% do not belong there, that’s up for debate.
So I decided to write up a core values statement so I can explain to friends and colleagues in which area I will consult. I realized in talking with a VP who controls a lot of resources, when I mentioned what I was doing, he had about 4-5 contacts at the company that may be a source of business for me. Ding! A light bulb went on. I am networking the he** out of my contacts in the last 2 weeks while I am still here, and getting feedback on my ideas.
But since you, my faithful readers, have also given me tremendous support and helpful feedback, I thought I’d share the draft here. Below is a short values statement (~50 words) boiled down to the 3 main principles that will form the basis of my practice.
What resonates for you? In what areas would you like more information or clarification?
Give me the good, the bad and the ugly. I want you to ask questions and throw mud! Really!!
–Diversity Drives Innovation.
-Women are natural leaders. We as women must define leadership more broadly. Leadership is coach-able, and we all have the capacity to be better at it.
-Everyone (on a team) is a teacher and a learner. It is best when we have opportunities to serve in both of these roles.
I am working on mini-manifesto of sorts (less than a page, probably 400-600 words) to expand upon these values in a more concrete way. I will post that one on Monday. These will go onto my consulting website when I launch it in September/October, along with a concise mission statement, which is another piece.
Thank you in advance for any questions, feedback or eggs you can throw at it. Truly.
When you start your work day or your work week, do you ever ask yourself: What makes the most sense? It may be a good way to clarify your objective in any given moment or hour of the day.
Do you ever consider what time of the day you work best?
(I am going to answer for myself in the parentheses below the questions: yes, morning. My best work happens before noon.)
Do you plan your time so that (if you are a morning person like me) you accomplish your most important work at that “best time”?
(Yes. Most of the time that works well. In my corporate job, it did not work as well, because I had to be sure to be available to my team at certain times, and morning was the time the most probably intersections.)
Do you spend multiple hours checking and responding to email?
(I used to do this. It took up WAY too much time and required me to refocus far too many times in the day to get to my “deep work” tasks as much as I wanted.)
Are you able to put aside distractions such as social media, email and other items while you are trying to complete your most important work?
(It is truly tempting to have the social media “open” during the work day but I realized this was a recipe for disaster. So now I define times I will do that, usually during a break between harder tasks, before/after lunch break or at the end of the day when my brain is shot anyway.)
These are some questions I am using for my own self-coaching as I begin to work for myself, and launch a successful consulting practice. If they can be helpful to you as well, awesome! If you have some other coaching questions you like to ask yourself for helping to focus on working effective, I would love it if you share them with me.