Category Archives: Career Advice

Check on your Strong Friends

When you describe someone as strong, what do you mean? There are different representations of physical strength: Running a marathon, push-ups or burpees (my least favorite exercise), hitting any number of yoga poses, childbirth, the list continues.

What about mental and emotional toughness? Not as easy to identify, right? Perhaps it’s someone with a level of resilience, the friend who’s been dealt a series of less than optimal hands and still shows up with a smile. They’re the friend who always figures it out. When you ask if they’re okay, they’ll reassure you with an “of course” or “yep, all good.”

Very nonchalant and never wanting to draw attention to themselves, our strong friends are often our soft places to fall. They’re our first phone calls for the good and the bad moments life throws at us. Because they can handle it. They always have, they always will, right?

Until they don’t. Until our strong friends are so depleted they can’t function. I’ve watched my strong friends lose themselves and I myself have experienced this. Here’s the thing, were all strong in our own way. Strong isn’t a one size fits all adjective. And as the song goes, we all need somebody to lean on.

We’re not supposed to do life alone. I, for one, know I don’t want to do life without my tribe. Asking friends for help (not misusing or disrespecting boundaries) is part of the human condition. Thank God for that! Imagine how terrible life would be if there weren’t other people involved!

Together, we need to redefine strong. Strong is being vulnerable, showing the full range of emotions, not just the ones that are comfortable. Strong is articulating what you need, even if you’re not sure what exactly that is. It’s showing up as you are, perfectly created, for the moments of pain, grief, anxiety, addiction and sadness.

Check on your strong friends. Better yet, check on your tribe. You will not and should not have the answers. That’s not the point. You are there to invade personal space and remind your people they’re not alone in this ever winding journey called life.

How do you invade their personal space without pissing anyone off? Check back next week for some ways to start.

Extra Measure of Grace

May is Mental Health Awareness so I’ve decided to write a series of posts highlighting what I know about mental health. While I’m not a trained mental health professional, I do believe that the only way to remove the stigma associated with mental illness is to talk about.

The challenging part of these issues is that they’re unseen and hard to articulate symptoms as many vary by person or develop over time. Regardless, it starts with you and generating a self-awareness about what you’re experiencing.

Showing yourself grace and compassion is essential as you work through whatever you’re experiencing. I’ve learned to label the energetic dip I experience as the recovery zone. This typically occurs after a period of high energy expenditure, like overly busy times at work or gearing up for a holiday. It also happens to me after bouts of increased anxiety. I become overstimulated, peak and hit a valley that’s challenging to come up from.

Some label this as burnout or high functioning depression; only you can name it to tame it. This place isn’t just low energy, its exhausting, a place where everything is hard and where you can see the way out but aren’t sure how to get there. It’s a place that’s necessary though it can be lonely as I’m the only one who can climb my way out.

This will likely look different for each person – it should! These are not cookie cutter experiences or solutions. When I’m recovering, here are a few ways I return to my steady state.

  • Generate an awareness that I’m there. A few indicators include not being able to fall asleep, lack of motivation to do anything, more snacking and a quicker temper.
  • Flow with the tide. There’s no magic bullet to pull me out. I feel the feels aka cry at every commercial and don’t force myself into doer mode. It’s very much about being in order to restore my own energy.
  • Love thy self, hard. This should have been the first commandment. I increase my self care where I can – exercise, binge watching, reading a book. I *try* to speak to myself the way I’d speak to my best friend, with care and compassion and give myself an extra measure of grace.
  • I let go of others’ judgement. *Insert eye roll here.* This is the hardest part for me. People hear recovery or burnout or depression and generally become helicopter friends. That’s not what I need. Support from a distance. Know that if someone you love is in this season, they have the resources they need within to recover. Walk beside them, not behind them pushing them along.

This is a season, a moment, not a place I’ll live forever. I’ve learn to accept my internal wiring and know I’ll come out the other side stronger. I’ve also created more routines that help prevent longer periods of recovery – things like daily exercise, meal prepping, monthly therapy and massages. I believe I’ll always experience this and find it to be a restorative process.

How do you show yourself grace when struggling mentally or emotionally?

Awakening Our Intuition

Did you know that humans are the only mammals that don’t follow their guts? We often ignore that feeling deep in the pit of our stomach or the words choking us, paralyzed in the back of our throat. How many times have you reread a text or email message before hitting send? *Raises hand slowly.* Don’t worry, you’re not alone my friend.

Since March (and probably before then), I’ve been on a journey. I started what I call coach school at Coaches Training Institute (CTI) to become a co-active coach. This included five three day weekends where I learned and practiced techniques in a safe space. As I type this, I finished the final course and am heading towards certification.

A coaches most powerful tool is his/her intuition, that gut feeling that guides the coaching. I’ve always felt my intuition and knew from a young age that it held great power. Yet, early on in class, I let fear of being wrong or judged hold me back. As I practiced and grew, I saw that when I trusted myself and trusted my intuition, it was powerful beyond measure and resonated with others.

So what if you’re not in coach school? Why might your intuition be useful? Well, for starters, who knows you better than you?! No one is more equipped to understand you needs, wants, hopes and dreams better than your inner voice. You might call it something different – inner goodness or Winston Churchill. You name him/her/it and talk to them often. Listen to what he/she/it is saying and sense the response. At first, you might need a quieter place to do this. After some practice, it will become natural and you’ll have a track record of success.

And what if you don’t listen to your gut because sometimes you won’t. Each day is a new beginning, you still have a powerful intuitive sense that you can further cultivate. Find others who you trust and ask them to tell you a story. Listen with all of your intention, ask follow up questions and try to name emotions that might have come up for the storyteller. That’s one way to build your intuition muscle.

The more you use intuition to guide you and eventually others, the more you’ll seen it’s power. It is your North Star that shines its light so you can see the way. Intuition doesn’t create the journey but it does allow you to flow through energies and challenges with more confidence and ease

You Belong Here

Hello my friends! It’s been an inspiring, grueling, jam-packed two weeks. I’m still trying to wrap my brain around everything that’s happened, all of the amazing people I’ve met and the stories I’ve shared.

If you follow me on social media, you’ll know that I spoke on a panel at the Superwomen Summit almost two weeks ago. I can’t begin to describe how phenomenal the entire weekend was. Take a look at the lineup and Google all of the speakers. Each brought her unique perspective while still being herself. That was the best part of the entire event: These women were attainable, real and struggled. As much as I love Oprah and Brene, they are such lofty goals. I spent the weekend hearing from mothers, daughters, sisters and friends who are still figuring it out but decided to go for it while they were going through the process. Inspirational, for sure and oh so fun!

Summit1

One of my favorite quotes from the Superwoman Summit courtesy of Anna Kunnecke

I am so proud of the panel discussion that I was a part of. I’ll save that for a separate post because that topic deserves my full attention. I can’t begin to capture all I learned at the Summit. The resounding message was one of belonging. There were talks about owning your power, being brave, prioritizing and self-care. Each one was special in its own right and all carried a thread of belonging. We, as women, find it hard to fit in. We’ve been told from men we’re too bossy, assertive, aggressive, bitchy and then there are other women who push us to find our voice, be bold, stand strong. You get the picture. At the Superwoman Summit, everyone was just right, not too much of anything. We, as a collective female community, need to support one another just as we are. Sure, we can support our goals, areas of growth, etc. AND none of that should change who we are at our core. We are perfectly and intentionally created, just as we are.

Post one Summit, I jetted to Atlanta for another, this one specific to work. It was the culmination of months of hard work, with new team members, lots of moving parts and my first show as a manager. It was the most challenging conference I’ve run to date. There were lots of moments where I felt like I didn’t belong, that my big, bold personality was too much. Why? Well, for starters, I wasn’t taking care of myself: Lack of sleep, not eating right and not exercising all contribute to my already stressed out state. Add in all sorts of feedback, both positive and constructive, it was like sensory overall. Plus, as the manager, I was the role model for the team. Just typing that was a lot. Upon returning home, I took care of myself, mind/body/soul. This included lots of sleeping, meal prepping and journaling.

Almost a week later and I’m about back to myself. As an empath, I catch and receive emotions in such a heightened way. I’ve learned a lot about what I need to do to show up the way I want onsite. Much of it includes self-care and setting boundaries. The biggest lesson is that a sense of belonging only comes from within. I know, I know Brene Brown already told us this. Yet, I had to learn it for myself. I belonged at BOTH of my Summits, I earned the right to be there, no matter how bold or extroverted or honest I am. I’ve finally gotten back to that mindset thanks to my support squad and lots of working through what’s true and what I’m telling myself.

It’s really hard to put those negative self-talk stories aside especially when you’re receiving feedback. I’m learning to be kind to myself and remember why the universe put me here in the first place.

Summit2

My co-worker/friend and I celebrating a successful Summit

Silence IS Golden

I’m the type of person who can talk to a wall. For most of my life, this didn’t have disadvantages. It allowed me to make friends more easily and fed my curiosity.
Then I entered the real world, full of conference calls, where there was never enough time for everyone to speak. Thanks for a courageous director, I received the very helpful feedback to pause, be more intentional with my words and embrace silence. I wish someone would have told me that sooner!
Before that conversation, silence held a negative connotation for me. If you were silent after I spoke, you disagreed with what I said or were disengaged. In actuality, that’s not always the case. Often, especially in virtual settings, silence can mean that someone is processing what you just said, so they can share a thoughtful response.
quiet.png
I had been practicing this notion of embracing the silence when I began coach training in March. There again I got the feedback to slow down a bit and give my coachee time to process (hold the space as we call it). It wasn’t always easy but the more I did it, the more it paid off.
Then, this radical idea occurred to me. If I want to slow down, be more present and intentional, then maybe I too needed more silence in my life. Since I’m the type of person who constantly has music/podcasts on, this idea intrigued me. So after my March coaching class, I tried it out – silence for the first few minutes of my morning and the last few minutes of my night. Here’s how it’s helped:

 

  • If I’m overstimulated (think post board meeting or networking event), the silence helps me center and come back down, making it easier to fall asleep.
  • I find it easier to visualize my intention for the day when it’s quiet. This exercise provides me with clarity on what my immediate and long term priorities are.
  • I am more intentional when I share on calls at work, really thinking about my reason for speaking and the words I’m selecting to articulate.
Believe me, I still play a lot of music but I’m learning silence has its benefits. Now at work, I recognize how talking too much can have its drawbacks. There’s a place and time for all voices to be heard but overuse can lead to a belief that the person who speaks that much likes the sound of his/her voice. That’s not what I want my brand to be. I’ve noticed too that staying silent in meetings allows me to absorb what people are saying and hear what’s not being said.
Don’t worry, my voice is still definitely heard…now the words are making more of an impact.
What’s your feeling about silence? Share in the comments!

Braaaaave

That’s how the final scene from the First Wives Club starts. Bette Midler’s character reminds her girlfriend to be braaaave and they all break out into song. If you’ve never seen the movie, go watch it now.

Recently, the word brave keeps coming up for me. I’ve seen people make brave decisions, taking leaps of faith into an unknown world. Or being vulnerable in front of a group of women who she doesn’t trust. Most recently, I spent the weekend at my third CTI course as part of my journey to becoming a credentialed coach. I can’t even describe what happened other than everyone showed up and were brave; brave in how they coached and in how they shared.

What do I mean by brave? There are plenty of definitions. Mine include:

  • Leaving your comfort zone
  • Speaking up because you know it’s the right thing to do even if the words are hard to say
  • Holding space and embracing silence
  • Taking risks even if that’s as small as trying a new restaurant.

You get my picture.

It’s a privilege to witness acts of bravery, big or small and they occur every day. The thing about being brave is that it has to matter to the person. Maybe asking a provocative question to a stranger is easy for you. But maybe trying Indian food isn’t. It’s all a matter of perspective.

I’d offer if you’re feeling stuck, trying on your brave hat (or shoes or shorts) might help. Find a quiet, like actually quiet place, where you won’t be interrupted and close your eyes. Slowly, take a few deep, deep breathes. Now listen. What’s that inner voice or rockstar as I call her say? What shift do you need to make? How could you show up differently?

For some, that exercise might be brave. If that’s the case, go you for trying it! Being brave is personal, it’s listening and trusting yourself to act or pause or say no.

Now I need to walk the talk right?! I had to practice coaching Saturday night and asked my friend, a coach himself with a wealth of extraordinary experience, to be my client. And I coached him. And I didn’t suck. When I did the same thing back in June, I most definitely had an anxiety attack. #babybravesteps #itshard

There’s my moment of bravery for the month, rockstars. I have a few more all around courageous conversations that I can share with you. Comment with yours if it feels right. I’d love to hear them!

Please, Call Me Bossy

Powerful. Ambitious. Bossy. Raise your hand if you’ve been called these words. *Raises hand.* Now tell me, were you viewed in a positive or negative light when someone used these words to describe you? Let me guess…

This post is likely going to trigger some strong emotions, dear reader, but stick with me. Of late, I’ve had what feels like hundreds of conversations with talented, experienced lady friends, who are walking around their respective workplaces walking on eggshells. Many are struggling with confidence or are letting past descriptions dictate how they show up in current roles. I’ve heard “I need to take back my power but don’t want to come off as intimidating” or “I feel like my team needs direction but I don’t want to seem bossy” Insert eye roll here.

our deepest fearLadies, I’m here to tell you, you’re likely going to be too much for some and not enough for others. That’s life. My question to you is: “What words would you use to describe yourself when you’re at your best?” If it’s powerful or ambitious or honest, so be it. These are not dirty words that shouldn’t be spoken. Powerful women stand in their own sun, radiating light for all to see. Ambitious women strive for more and are hopefully bringing others along on their journey. Bossy women don’t take no for an answer. To me, these are all beneficial actions. Sure, there are bossy women who are bitches, ambitious women who sell others out. I hope that’s the minority of women AND we have the opportunity to rewrite this story.

Take a few colleagues who you trust and discuss these words. How are they received in your workplace? What can you do to help other women embrace their power, their ambition? Corporate cultures are hard: typically they’re well-defined by only by a subset of leadership. They’re big on collaboration and you’re definitely working in teams. So how do you bring your powerful, ambitious self to work without ruffling all of the feathers?

It’s a balancing act for sure. I’ve been told I’m too much: too extroverted, too talkative, too honest. So I’ve started having conversations about my big, bold, beautiful personality upfront. Let’s make some agreements on how we’re going to work together so we both claim our power, so I’ll know when to ease up so you can step up. It’s not a magic potion that works every time but it’s absolutely helped. I encourage you to give it a try.

The quote above is what sparked the idea for this post. It was read to me during a coaching class and immediately tears filled my eyes. I pride myself on being authentic, yet if I dim my light because I perceive that others can’t handle it, am I really being my true self? It certainly made me reflect and step fully in my power.

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