Find Your Direction

“Happiness is like a butterfly, the more you chase it, the more it will elude you. But if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and sit softly on your shoulder.”

In our journey of life, it can be so hard to resist chasing more money, more things, more doing or more of anything to be “happy.”   Yet, when is the last time you examined where you were headed?  We are all moving toward something.

While goals can give our life purpose, goals without our purpose in mind can leave us lost when we reach them.   “Wanting” can lead to greed and emptiness.  “Doing” can be a way of numbing and finding self-worth.  If the chase doesn’t include enjoying the creation, discovery, and keeping the meaning of the mission alive, we can start feeling a sense of emptiness.

Have you noticed times in your life when you were chasing a goal, yet in the process people you valued were ignored?  Or did you even embrace the act, in and of itself?

In the times of my life where I have reached a point of burnout,  it was because I got caught up in the doing and no longer felt I was fulfilling my purpose.  I became someone just going through the motions not knowing where I was headed.  I became lost with feelings of emptiness.   At first, I thought my desire for a sense of accomplishment was to blame. However, when I decided to stop doing so much, I was still lost.  Then I realized I just needed to have the courage to operate by my true beliefs with meaningful doing in order to feel whole and alive again. It took doing some self-reflecting and gaining self-awareness and re-evaluating what I really wanted and what I didn’t want in life.

In my career, I have been fortunate to work in a company where the leader would say, “do what is right by the client.” The company’s values and mission were clear and the passion and energy were everywhere. Hence, turnover was extremely low and everyone was happy accomplishing the company’s goals for years.

Alternatively, many articles have been written about high turnover and burnout in companies that lack purpose. Simon Sinek in “Start with Why” tells many stories to prove most people want to feel good about their work at the end of the day. Without the “Why” companies fail. In Man’s Search for Meaning, Victor Frank shares how most of the people who survived the Holocaust had a strong sense of purpose.  Yet, I am hearing of more and more companies and coaches taking away the purpose out of the work and making it all about the money.  No matter where you are feeling lost,  don’t stay stuck.

Think of times in your life where you have been happy.  When have you felt whole?  Are you being true to yourself?   Is what you are saying and doing matching what you truly believe?

Create goals based on what gives your life meaning.  Then keep your purpose in mind all along your journey. When distractions come at you, go back to your why and let it guide you in your decisions and actions.  Be a leader.  Bring your purpose to your work and see if you can inspire change in yourself and inspire others. When you show courage to hold true to your “why” then you won’t get lost.

“People who can articulate their purpose live an average of 8 years longer.” Jay Shetty Podcast Ikky Guy

To gain a better self-understanding, take the Enneagram course through the Growth Institute Courses. If you are still struggling after this exercise, write to me at everythingforthesoul@gmail.com.  I may not have all your answers. However, it is the writing alone and sharing your story with someone interested that may be the very therapy you need.

Suicide Hotline: 1-800-273-8255

Crisis text: 741741

If you live in the Dayton, Ohio area, schedule free counseling by email: counseling@southbrook.org

To share inspiring stories or be referred to a Professional Counselor email: everythingforthesoul@gmail.com

For more resources:

Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Action by Simon Sinek

Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frank

Women, You Do Not Have a Shelf Life!

“Women have a shelf life.” Said the instructor.

While in my mid-thirties in a sales career, I took a class I had purchased to learn about stocks and how to invest on my own. When it came time for the instructor to sell his next class, he used fear in his sales approach saying, “my sister is a newscaster and I tell her she has a shelf life. To the career women in the room, if you are in the public eye,  you have a shelflife.  You need a fallback!”

Instantly I felt anger towards him and fear of aging at the same time as I knew how society views models and famous women who were defined by beauty and then age.  While being a salesperson myself, his approach instantly turned me off as I am sure it did for many other women in the room.  I still wonder if those words of fear still linger in the minds of the other women in the room that day.

In sales, you hear, “shine your shoes”, “wear your best suit”, “if you really want to get in the door look your very best every day” and “put the time in your appearance given so much is judged by the first impression.”   While respect for how you look matters and so does a proper dress code to gain credibility, being judged for appearance many times went beyond that.  It was not uncommon as a sales rep to hear the gatekeeper get asked over the phone,  “Is she good looking?” as a basis as to whether or not the person would take the meeting or not.  This may have happened with men too.

Now in my mid-forties, aging is more of a reality than a fear.  Long gone are the turning of heads.   This morning I listened to Oprah’s podcast where she interviews models and female actresses who admit how they realize their beauty got them in the door in their younger years.  Yet, as they aged they realized they had been defined by their beauty and had to find new ways to find self-worth.

During her podcast, Oprah talks about how in her 25 years of doing interviews very few people have spoken of what it felt like to be valued by their looks.  Her guests talk about how they handled the transition from being the one to turn heads to then no longer being able to use their looks to get in the door. They go on to tell their story of how they were able to grab ahold of another way of finding their value.  They tell their true age and don’t rely on plastic surgeons or beauty treatments to maintain their youthful appearance. They share how going through the transition is a freeing experience.

For some of you reading this, you may be thinking, looks are not required to succeed in most careers.  You are obviously correct.  However, there are certain fields where some people have defined themselves by how good they look,  just like some people define themselves by how good they are at their career or being a mom.

I have recently gone through this journey and am working on that very transformation myself and finding joy in new aspects of who I am by utilizing the practices of writing, being grateful, ways to motivate myself to exercise and being more aware of how I am defining myself.   Oprah’s Podcast reminded me I am not alone.

So no matter how you have defined yourself, either by beauty, as a mom, how great you are at your career, all of those things come to an end or at a crossroads.  There comes a time where you will need to find a new way to value yourself. When you recognize how you have been valued and how you have defined yourself is no longer working for you, life is not over.

In reality, living life fully could just be beginning.  You may just need to redefine how you value yourself.  Discover something new, create something, practice gratitude, exercise, and most importantly, admit your struggles because you will realize others feel the same way as you and a whole new life will begin to develop.  A life where you can embrace all that you really are and where you find people who will love you for it!

Source:

Listen to Aging Well With Cybill Shepherd, Bo Derek and Beverly Johnson from Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations in Podcasts. https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/oprahs-supersoul-conversations/id1264843400?i=1000449337412

The Growth Institute Courses

Photo taken at Strouds Run State Park near Athens, Ohio

When to Make a Job Change

All of us have heard the phrase, the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. Many times people have made changes for the wrong reasons and it has not ended well. Therefore when you are at a crossroads in your career how do you choose what path to take?

If you are making a change because of money, or because of too much change within an organization, then that is NOT a good reason alone. Also if you are in the valley of hard times within your job, that is not the time to make a career decision.

I once heard it is when you are on the mountaintop. When things are going well for you in terms of your performance is when you will have the most clarity to make decisions for the right reasons and not just to escape.

Ask yourself are you running away from something or towards something? If it is running away, what is it you are wanting to leave? Have you gotten in a rut? What do you see is needed to get out of your rut? When you no longer have the passion for what you are doing is it because of burnout or is it time for a new growth opportunity?

If you have lost your energy and feel you are not on the path to your life goals, that is a telltale sign you need to examine the path you are taking. What is your life purpose? Are you able to bring your purpose to your work? Does your work allow you to have time for your passions?

How do you know when you need to stick it out or truly need to change but have gotten too comfortable?

Start writing. Jot down your thoughts and see what answers you give yourself. When you listen closely to signs of emotion that stir within you, what is your heart telling you?

If you start seeing a trend and it prolongs for a consistently long period of time you may be stuck. You may need to realize that your energy is gone because you need new challenges. Have you given up on your dreams and your most important goals? If so ask, “Why are you staying stagnant?”

Change is very scary. Our self-talk can scare us to death of failure and keep us paralyzed. Think back regarding your changes in the past. What were you feeling before the change and what was the core reason you decided to change? How did it end up? Why did it end that way?

You have a choice. Either start bringing your life purpose to your job or search for a new opportunity based on what your gut is telling you.

Only you can make the decision. It may take digging deep, lots of self-discovery and listen closely to your inner self.

Photograph taken at Virginia City, Nevada

Leadership for the Soul

 

Mindtools.com says “Leadership can be hard to define and it means different things to different people. In the transformational leadership model, leaders set direction and help themselves and others to do the right thing to move forward. To do this they create an inspiring vision, and then motivate and inspire others to reach that vision.”

How is that done?

You may have heard the quote, “no one cares about how much you know unless they know how much you care.”  Can you be defined as a leader if you don’t ever get followers?  It seems the best leaders show how much they care about their mission.  Then the ones who show they care about their people get the most people on board.

Think of the best leaders in ancient wars.  Those who you see in the movies that are charging ahead of their troops to fight a battle.  The ones who get out in front.  They are in the trenches with their people.  When you see that in a movie, doesn’t it ignite your passion internally to want to see their side win?

Besides leading the way, how else do those leaders get people on board?  We see characteristics as being comfortable in their own skin, confident in who they are, strong in their decision making, have integrity and base decisions on the betterment of all their people.  They make their team feel valued that someone else is willing to fight on their behalf.  It makes them all want to win together.

What kind of leader are you?  How do you show you care about your people? When your people are trying to voice what they are experiencing in the trenches, do you shut them down?  If so, instead:

  • Work to listen and understand if it is a legitimate concern.
  • Rephrase what you are hearing them feel.
  • Ask what have you tried?
  • What were the results?
  • Ask what are your recommended options?
  • Ask how do you want to be part of the solution?
  • Do you know any others that are feeling the same way and would you want to help come up with ideas to fix it?

This approach will help your people feel heard and opinions valued.  Also, it weeds out the negative thinkers.  Those who want to complain but not help fix the problem.

When you make them feel heard rather than force top-down thinking and respond in ways where they feel they can’t trust being honest, you risk not getting valuable information for an effective strategy.  Also if you don’t understand them and what they are going through, how are you going to provide the adequate tools for them to handle the battle.  Shutting them down before understanding them says to them, “your opinions don’t matter”.  “Your views are not valued enough.”

If you feel they don’t understand the big picture from their feedback, it also tells you they don’t understand the vision.  In that case, you may need to clarify it and get them on board with why what you are asking is important.

Most people want to feel they are doing the right thing and will work more passionately for those who care for them.   Care for your people by empathizing with them and coach them how to become their best and you will have an army helping you accomplish your vision.

Photo taken at Lake Tahoe