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

 

 

 

Personal vs professional – erasing my border wall

I used to strive mightily to keep my personal and professional identities separate and somewhat walled off from each other. I realize now I did that out of fear, and related to a memory of a former boss using my personal life against me in my professional world.

It caused me to contract and curl up, to hide, to protect myself, and to lose trust. To be fair, I had been using some passive aggressive tactics to communicate my distress about my workload. Lesson learned, thank you EAP counselor who helped me become more proactive about that.

These days I have less desire to hide and protect myself, because I focus on how I can be of service to my clients, in my little corner of the world. That requires courage and a willingness to fail, to feel embarrassed, to try again.

I am the person I am. I have strengths, I have flaws. I never do everything (or anything) perfectly. And yet: I still believe I have gifts to offer. Brené Brown advises us to step into the arena anyway, knowing that we are going to get knocked down a few times.

As a result of stepping forward, and getting pummeled a bit, we build our resilience over time. We learn that each and every action will teach us. Each attempt builds our resilience, even if it does not turn out as we anticipated. Failing is only truly devastating if we do not learn from our experiences, our missteps and our decisions.

My new conviction, which feels much more deep and embodied, is to integrate my life, not to divide it. Sometimes this is really scary, and I do not like that “bottom dropping out of my stomach” feeling, like a roller-coaster the first time we ride it.

It is unfamiliar, this risk of revealing more of who I truly am. But in service to the goal of also inviting others to fully show up as who they are, it is worth it.

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

biz card image
My mini biz cards arrived from Moo today! They are adorable, with 4 different backgrounds. I blocked out the phone & contact info because I get so many random phone calls, I don’t want the bots to target me. 😉

 

 

Leaning into discomfort

For the last couple of days I had the privilege to observe a “culture transformation” facilitation 2-day session with a colleague who is a professional consultant. It was an intense but productive couple of days. In my usual fashion, I am still processing internally the lessons I observed about the group and about myself.

This was unlike other sessions I have personally conducted, but many of the issues were similar. My goal was to learn as much as possible, be of help when I could to the facilitator, and consider how I may apply these lessons to my future work.

I realized during the process that I would have to lean into my discomfort, meeting 15 leaders of R&D and business cross-functional partners gathered for this meeting. Only 1 of the leaders was a woman, along with the admin and the HR director, and the rest were men. (With the facilitator and myself, there were 5 women total, less than a third of the room).

The first day I was a bit overwhelmed by it, actually. I pick up on the emotional states of others quite easily, and it felt like my empathy channels were flooded with input. By the end of the day, though I was invited to the happy hour and dinner that followed, I was desperately in need of a break from the action to quiet my mind. Fortunately I had this, about 40 minutes between others leaving the room, and joining them for the informal portion of that day’s events.

women in boardroom
Photo credit link

It reminded me of how I typically feel after attending one of my own team meetings where I am fully engaged and “on” the whole day. But since Latin America teams rarely re-convene before 7 or 8pm to have dinner, the break in between is typically longer. Usually that has meant I sacrifice sleep, since we return to the hotel around 11 and it takes me an hour or two to calm my jangled nervous system after all the people interaction.

As a morning person, I seldom sleep past 5am, so a 3-day meeting leaves me exhausted and depleted, even if it was a productive event. So I plan for this, and I ensure that before and after these meetings, I have plenty of solitude, writing time, meditation. I go on walks, do yoga, sit with my cat on my lap when possible, and allow for the impressions to seep and filter into consciousness.

Leaning into discomfort is possible because I know myself. I realize it does not indicate anything has gone wrong. These preferences may be hard-wired or habitual, and I am aware of when I must step into it. The observations of interactions between people fascinate me, and this particular group had a few real characters. The “lab” of human interaction is at play, and while it can be challenging, my curiosity typically redeems the discomfort involved.

I typically enjoy interactions 1:1 with people and in small groups, where I feel I am able to focus my sensory “data collection” if you will. I am curious about how my comfort level may evolve over time and with practice. Right now I am allowing for the learning, as challenging as it is, and being patient with my discomfort. It is all part of the growth process, and for that I am grateful.

Happy weekend, amigos.

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

 

Facilitation

facilitation
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Today’s post will be brief, as I am off to facilitate a panel at my work conference this week, featuring geography perspectives on the new process for External Research Projects at our company.

Since I represent Latin America, and I have facilitated before, I am substituting for the individual that was originally scheduled to complete this task. I probably should be more nervous than I am about it. I only reviewed the slides yesterday for the panelists, and I have not devoted much time to prepare.

But I am strangely calm, and I think it is because facilitation is my JAM. It is about being in the moment, staying aware of what the audience and panel need, and helping to make the session more interactive. I have that skill, and this group is familiar to me. So I shall extract confidence from that, and not worry too much about the outcome.

What skills do you have where you are confident in your abilities? Do you have a chance to use those skills every day? 

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

 

Heading back in

sleeping cat with tongue out
Calvin all tuckered out and laying on his Dad’s foot.

After a lovely two weeks of vacation, on Monday I am “heading back in” to work mode. My husband took a picture of our cat Calvin, who was lolling about on his foot on Sunday, enjoying the sensation of connection. I thought it illustrated my sentiment fairly well.

Going back to work sometimes makes me feel like that, but I guess that’s one way to know I am not aligned with the work I do now.  The School of Life has an excellent video about that “Sunday Night Feeling” which I encourage you to check out if you sometimes suffer from the Sunday blues.

I am so grateful for the time off. It gave me some perspective on the situation and on what my intentions are for the coming weeks. I completed some coaching homework, including a timeline and plan for my 1-year goals. I had a good conversation with my husband about what we are prepared to do in order to go from two regular incomes to one for a few months during the transition. My intention is to leave my current job behind in August, and to try to work on my own as a consultant.

I plan to offer my skills in facilitation, strategic planning, human-centered design and change management to companies and departments where I can add value. While my last few years have been primarily focused on clinical research project management in the medical device field, my skills are transferable.

I really enjoy organizing and leading multi-disciplinary problem-solving sessions for leaders or individual contributors that allow people to think big and dream differently about their work. I have a lot of experience in change management efforts, having co-led several of these efforts in the past few years. Most were successful and some less so, but I learned some valuable lessons about what factors are critically-necessary, especially in international and multi-cultural organizations.

Effective organizational change can be achieved when the following exist: 1) shared understanding of why and what changes are necessary; 2) buy-in and ownership of the change(s) at all levels; 3) effective communication and pacing of changes; 4) ongoing conversation and engagement of those affected by and asked to embrace the change; 5) evaluation and re-evaluation if the changes are effective and achieving the desired outcome.

Changes so often fail because they try to address a problem without understanding the root causes. I believe the most successful change efforts often arise from the “on the ground” and customer-focused employees, the people who do the work and see the gaps in the system. Leaders can facilitate these changes by being open to hearing the problems and issues, soliciting and supporting ideas from their front line employees, and adding the appropriate resources to address the challenges. It is important not to make assumptions or jump to conclusions without fully understanding the dynamics of the situation.

I am fortunate to be connected to other consultants doing this kind of work and anticipate I will begin by apprenticing and learning from them, partnering where I can add value. Many years ago I consulted in the nonprofit field, helping leaders with strategic planning and grant development efforts. I particularly enjoy adding an outside perspective to an organization or department that is struggling. It is fascinating to learn and understand the “ecosystem” of an organization and problem, and then begin to apply design processes and engage the right people to solve that problem. Indeed that is the most rewarding work I have done throughout my career.

In about 6 weeks, I will say goodbye to the corporate role, and begin a new phase of my work life. I am ready. Wish me luck!

cristy@meximinnesotana.com