Category Archives: Career Advice

Woman Up, Man Down?

The world we live in is one of conflicting viewpoints, mixed messages from the media/pop culture and the ability to share your opinion broadly without hesitation in seconds. This creates the perfect storm of disagreement all over, both virtually and in person, which could complicate how we as women choose to use our voices.

Within this world, women are rising, for a multitude of reasons. One reason is the solidarity the #MeToo movement has created. While not part of that community, I can see its power. Women who were abused are standing on each other’s shoulders to hold their male abusers accountable. Their bravery is inspiring, their tenacity empowering.

There is no doubt in my mind that there are bad men out there. Ones who abuse, denounce and berate women at every opportunity. Those men must be held accountable. For certain, that’s not all men. As women, for us to make that generalization, one I hear in lots of places, from song lyrics to conference calls to presidential debates, is ultimately doing us a disservice.

Being pro woman does not mean you have to be anti men.

There are 33 female CEOs leading Fortune 500 companies this year (2019). While that is a record high, it’s certainly not where we want to be. So tell me, what play do you call here? Engage men differently to achieve success or minimize their existence altogether? We’re not going to change the landscape of leadership alone. We will need our brothers as allies to support our journeys.

It’s complicated, creating this dialogue, especially considering we live in such a polarizing environment. I’d offer taking a look internally at your own perspective would be the logical first step. Here’s a few ideas I plan to try as I wrap up my summer and head into my busy fall season.

  1. Review my personal board of directors. How can I engage more male perspectives and in which areas of my career/life would those be helpful? What current relationships could I leverage to build out these new relationships?
  2. Leveling up my personal vibrations by surrounding myself with positive influences, whether that be people, media outlets (there are still a few!), brands, businesses, etc. Negativity and hate perpetuate stereotypes and generalizations I don’t want to waste my energy on.
  3. Challenges assumptions – my own and other people’s. You can sing ‘You Don’t Own Me’ at the top of your lungs and then pull up your dating app to engage in productive (fingers crossed) conversations. It doesn’t have to be one way or another. Developing meaningful relationships with men – in any context – doesn’t mean you’re handing in your ‘Who Run the World? Girls’ card.
  4. In every situation, stay open and base your opinions on facts, not the story you’re telling yourself. This is the hardest one for me. I have to unwind stories I’ve told myself about men, especially when it comes to dating. It’s a dance, one that I’m now more conscious of so I can see when I’m making excuses for my conditioned behavior.

None of this is easy. Give yourself a level of grace as you carefully unwind these twisted stories that potentially aren’t serving you. More on that later this month too!

Astericking Ourselves

I play co-ed softball every Wednesday night. Of course, there are more men than women playing. More often than not, the girls play the “easier” positions and bat further down in the lineup. I suppose that fine if it’s based on ability. Game after game, I watch the men walk confidently, making plays and cheering all of their teammates on. They believe the women can play…it’s the ladies who consistently downplay their abilities.

For most of the games, I play catcher, which means I interact with the batters. While there are outliers, the majority of the female hitters get into the box and immediately doubt themselves. “I’ll feel better once I hit the ball pass the pitcher…” “I just want to make contact, I don’t care if I make an out.” I promise you these are direct quotes. It takes all my energy to not to say something! Like I mentioned in my last post, what we think is what we become. I wish these women would believe in their abilities just an ounce more…

My co-ed softball league is one small example. I’ve seen this play out on a bigger stage, like on a panel at a conference. I watched many successful women with meaningful careers asterisk themselves in front of hundreds of OTHER WOMEN who PAID to be there. Let me share some examples from the panel and elsewhere:

  • “I’m sorry if I’m talking to much about XYZ experience..” She said this to a room full of people who PAID to hear about THESE EXACT EXPERIENCES.
  • “I’m sorry we’re having so much fun up here..” Because fun is a bad thing? Especially between two bad ass women? *Insert eye roll*
  • In the subject line of an email: “Notes + Next Steps (sorry this email is so long)..” Wait, you’re apologizing for giving us information we need for the project? Can we all see how crazy this is?!

As women, we asterick ourselves and apologize for everything: Doing our jobs, living our best lives, working hard. I don’t want to hear an I’m sorry from another woman unless she ate my lunch out of the office fridge or murdered someone. Here’s what happens when we continue to “a word” all over ourselves.

  • Our credibility goes out the window. Think about it written out. Would you put an * saying this isn’t really my experience, I didn’t really work hard for this on your resume? I bet not.
  • By saying sorry all the time, when we actually need to apologize (it happens!), the words have lost their meaning. It’s like the boy who cried wolf.
  • By using the “when I” phrase, we’re letting life pass us by. I’ll do this when I’m [skinner, smarter, etc.]. Will you? Why not try it today? Sure, you should train for a 5K if you’re not a runner. We let fear paralyze us into inaction.

The silver lining with astericking and apologetics is that we’re not alone. I personally believe it’s how the majority of women are wired. What that gives us is a community of women who can generate awareness and help each other rise above the fear and insecurity. At work, ask for feedback from someone you trust. Before you blurt out an apology, pause to reflect on what you’re apologizing for. Did you hurt someone? Were you intentionally unkind? You don’t need to dim your light so others can shine. We can all shine together! And anyone who thinks otherwise isn’t worth your energy.

Believe me, I don’t get this right everyday. I still have to hold back from apologizing for being my extroverted, outgoing self. With awareness and a top notch girl gang who holds me accountable, I’m making progress. Come join me and put the apologizing behind you.

The Universe Has Your Back

Change your thoughts, change your life. You’ve probably heard this before. Simple right? Think positive, be positive, life is good, immaright? If only it was that easy.

Earlier this week, I attended One Day of Greatness with Jack Canfield. Look him up! The man has a loads of best selling books, including all of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. If you’re like me, you marked up the Chicken Soup books up with highlights and post-its. This day, however, was focused on gaining clarity about your personal vision and goal by accessing tools to develop the powerful habits needed for success.

I could write a novel about all of the wisdom Jack shared at this one day conference. Instead, I want to focus on my biggest takeaway: The universe has your back. I use the term universe; feel free to replace that with whatever works for you. Jack walked us through several exercises that showed how when you change your thoughts you can in fact change your reality. Said another way, when you put positive energy into the universe, the universe will return it tenfold.

How? That’s the million dollar question. Its sounds so simple, yet we’ve been programmed to plan ahead, assess the risk and create options b,c,d and e for when option a doesn’t work. What if option a was the only option? Scary and uncomfortable? ABSOLUTELY! Worth it? How will you know if you don’t try?

Your mind/brain is a muscle, which means you need to exercise it. You can’t pay someone else to do your mental push-ups. Here are a few ideas Jack shared with us to build your mind muscle:

  • Take 100% responsibility for your life. This doesn’t mean self judge when things don’t go the way you want. It means own it, acknowledge it and move forward.
  • Events + Response = Outcome. Act as if. If you want something different, you have to change your responses and outlook. Meditations and visualizations can be useful here – start small, a few minutes a day – with simply creating a picture of what you want in your mind.
  • Success is a team sport. No one gets anywhere alone. When you’re faced with a challenge, start by evaluating your network and asking who can help you. Within that network, review who’s included regularly and make sure you’re surrounding yourself with the best, most positive people you can find.
  • Play whack-a-mole with your limiting beliefs. Again, no self-judgement. Everyone has limiting beliefs that were typically formed during ages three through eight. Acknowledging and even writing down what’s holding you back helps to remove the perceived power they falsely hold.

If you ever have the opportunity to see Jack Canfield live, I’d highly recommend attending. My hope is that something above resonates and you’ll give it a try. Remember, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting the different results. Happy manifesting!

Upskilling Season

I’ve mentioned in other posts that I’m currently working on my co-active coaching credential. Phase one was attending five three-day in person classes. Now during certification, I meet weekly for 90 minutes with my pod for 25 weeks straight. There’s homework, I’m actively coaching no less than five clients and have individual supervision. It’s amazingly powerful and some days overwhelming. Yet, I know it’s 100% what I’m designed to do.

I’ve been calling certification upskilling season because I will finish and this season will be over. I struggle at times to see the big picture and have to remind myself that sacrifices now will be worth it tenfold later. When you’re in the middle of the marathon, it can be hard to see the finish line.

During this season, I’ve been careful about what to say yes to personally and professionally as I only have so much capacity. So when my friend invited me to the Women in Non-profit Leadership Conference, I was hesitant. I wasn’t sure how the content would be applicable and wondered if it was worth six hours of my time, a precious commodity.

After some debate, my curiosity beat out my uncertainty and spending time with a friend wouldn’t suck either. I showed up as my authentic self, all in, ready to learn and boy did I. Here are a few of the highlights that I would have missed if I didn’t consciously choose to embrace upskilling season.

  • The first keynote, Sue Fulton shared that there’s no excuse for not planning for success; it’s typically harder to manage in non-profits that failure
  • During the fundraising strategies panel, the resounding message was the brand of a company/campaign must align to its mission.
  • The most impact session for me was the breakout about building a diverse board, led by Sulaiman Rahman. So much so that I have to share two takeaways (among many): 1) What ideas are being passed down that need to be challenged? 2) You can disagree with an idea but that doesn’t mean you disagree with the person. The picture above was also shared in the session…still thinking about it.
  • The Building Coalitions and Partnerships panel over lunch featured Diane Cornman-Levy from Women’s Way, who highlighted that when you invest in women, you then invest in the community. Can I get an amen for that?!
  • We ended the day with Deesha Dyer, who I definitely have a girl crush one! She was so relatable and shared tons of great nuggets. She talked about her experience of working for the Obamas and how they expected more from her than she thought she was capable of. It struck me that we all need mentors like that and should mentor that way too.

I’m definitely in upskilling season right now, where I’m trying to absorb as much as possible to become a more well rounded coach, professional and person. This season is more intense and requires more focus than being naturally curious and wanting to learn. My experience at WINPL shows that saying yes to the right upskilling will always serve me (and you) well.

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

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