I’m studious, I love to ‘think’ my way out. I’ve been doing it for a really long time, and with every challenge follows exhaustion, mainly of the brain type. I always say I’ve got such a big capacity to cope – why has it taken me so long to see that’s the very reason I’ve been having to ‘cope’. What we ask for we get.
The question I’ve got, for anyone who wants to get out of their head, in a non psychedelic way, is who are you, stripped bare of the qualifications, career experience, leadership roles, houses, cars and businesses and even illnesses? And if you have them, I also ask who are you without your kids?
I ask this, not to give up the stuff, or not be full of deep gratitude for all you’ve learned and achieved (I’ll come on the kids bit shortly) but to see you, for you, stripped naked of all that speaks of who you are. Who are you, really?
When I get asked what I do (which is really asking who I am) I can impress with my vast bank of high level qualifications, my 20 year big corporate career, my challenges and successes and being a proud mum. If I boil that down, what I’m saying is I’m bright (qualifications) I’m savvy (career) I’m courageous (challenges/successes) and I’m loving (mum). Isn’t that all we really want to know? As it turns out, perhaps not. I’d love to change that.
When I left my ‘big job’ about three months later my husband did the same. For the first time in our whole careers we were not working. I wanted to start my own business and he wanted to head back into the corporate jungle. But we were fortunate enough to take some down time and take stock. It involved a lot of tea drinking, long dog walks and travel. It was a glorious time, despite some obvious pressures. On one of our long walks, a friend asked this question:
“I don’t get it, my job defines me, what the hell is defining you two now you’re not working?’
Define = to state precisely the meaning of, to describe the nature, properties or essential qualities ofDictionary.
Was she saying her job is the only thing that describes her nature, her as a person, or the only thing that gives her meaning? None of it worked for me only because I saw I’d been hiding behind my career for over two decades. I was unsure of who I was now, without it all.
Hi, I’m Alex, I’m Head of Comms for a squillion pound company and mum of one.
So what! Who am I, really?
Now, the kids part. I LOVE being a mum to my own daughter. I’ve never been very maternal, I don’t get gooey around babies, and I talk to her friends adult to adult, even though they’re teenagers. I respect first, mother second. It’s just my way, other parenting styles are available. One thing I do know, is my relationship with my own daughter is strong because I am me, she is her. She is not an extension of me, nor an accessory or person to keep me company. We have deep and meaningful chats, I guide her when she needs it and we laugh, a lot. As she spreads her wings, I’m cheering her on. She doesn’t define me, she defines herself.
So, there I was, naked (metaphorically) no corporate career to hide behind and a parenting style that’s not about me. And at this point, I can add in that I’m a cancer survivor too, but that’s a whole different post on how I’ve worked my socks off for that not to define me. Just like millions of people, who find themselves at this cross roads, this fork in their path, this opportunity to run like Phoebe through Central Park or to return to type and remain hidden. The problem is, the person we’re hiding from, is ourselves. All of ourselves.
My great coach and mentor refers to the parts of us as the facets of a diamond. We can see the surface facets, the job, the kids, the stuff, the humour, the drive but what about the facets on the other side? What if they’re the facets that bring the most joy, the most success, the deeper connections, the bigger relationships?
If you’re anything like me, the ‘what if’ part filled me with dread. I needed certainty, I needed to plan, I needed to be in control, I needed a template. I could’t see how I could lead, in my business and in my life if I wasn’t all those things. Who would take me seriously and where would my clients come from if I lead with 360degree joy, not business models, templates, strategies or formulas?
So, I’ll ask the question again. Who are you, really? And if you allowed yourself the joy of finding out, how could you show up as that person every day, in every way, in everything that you do?
Here’s how I’m showing up from what I was to who I am really.
I used to need my qualifications and my vast experience to validate me. Now I walk my talk in joy, leading with how to put the joy back into our businesses and lives, because when I do it that way, the universe responds and abundance flows. When I drift back into needing validation, I get stuck really quickly, my business stalls, my writing gets dull and I’m a pain in the ass.
I still use strategy, formulas and models, but I use them to put the joy back, not to ‘fix’ or ‘do’. The results are the best I’ve ever seen.
I oscillate from time to time, as such an ingrained habit is a bugger to silence. I’ve stood in fighting shoes for decades, sometimes the Jimmy Choos of joy can pinch, but that’s okay. I find my way back quicker every time. Practicing joy has changed my life, it did almost overnight. I’d love for you to feel the same.
Feel called to explore? Let’s chat.