Self Care Sunday – How do you define success?

Art

On this Self Care Sunday I want to discuss Career. Career is the one of the four areas of life that Integrative Nutrition Health Coaches call “Primary Food”. Career satisfaction can affect your overall happiness and it also can affect your health and relationships. It’s important to step back and evaluate career satisfaction from time to time. If you are manager, I would recommend encouraging your employees to do this too.

For me, it’s so easy for me to get caught up in constant movement. As a “do-er”, I check my boxes off and claim my productivity by accomplishments and goals achieved. In a recent professional experience, things didn’t work out quiet the way I thought they were going to. I was not going to be able to achieve the goal I had set for myself which was causing me some anxiety and making me doubt myself a bit. Being trapped in my own definition of success was undermining my enthusiasm for the work I am doing and I was starting to feel a bit deflated.

I traveled to DC to give a briefing to senior leadership on Tuesday morning. In the briefing, I discussed my honest assessment of the program I am working on and its future if it remains supported the way it stands today. As I spoke, I was careful to be confident while also be truthful about my observations of the challenges and opportunities.

As I spoke, the conversation and energy in the room shifted and became supportive even nurturing. That’s when we realized that my definition of success was different from senior leadership’s definition of success. Leadership already viewed me and my Program as successful while I was still trying to prove to myself I could be successful. Let me say that again… Leadership already viewed me and my Program as successful while I was still trying to prove to myself I could be successful. My leadership explained to me that I already accomplished more than they originally thought was possible. WOW! That hit me hard. Right as I sat there in front of them I felt the magnitude of that reality hit me. I was pushing forward so hard that I never stopped for one minute in the last nine months to really see what I accomplished or to be proud of myself. They made me stop in that 45 minute meeting. It was a powerful moment for me. It was a powerful moment in my career💙

One of the Directors pulled me into her office for a chat about career opportunities. She wants me think about what I want because there are few different type of opportunities that could be open to me. She said I’ve proven myself capable and comfortable in “high profile” roles. She wanted to know if I would be satisfied going back to something less “sexy” after this 😊 It’s an interesting question for me. The truth is I am comfortable in this type of high visibility role. I am good with stakeholder engagement, up and down the chain. I present well and handle myself well. My biggest challenge this year was my own body. The constant health issues have been frustrating and the current issue with my stomach still isn’t resolved. I told her about my current issue and that I needed to see a specialist because of a suspicious stomach biopsy. She reassured me. She told me I shouldn’t let that be my deciding factor because my health issues obviously didn’t interfere with my work performance this year. She also told me accommodations could always be made for me. Yes, it may be easier for me to go back to a desk job that has more predictability, maturity and less of an ask from me but will it be enough for me after this???? My intuition says no…😊 But, I am keeping an open mind because I think it will depend on the opportunity and if it has room for growth and diversification. I also don’t want to work in chaos again. So work environment is important to me now too. For now, I am going let go and trust that everything is always working out for my highest good. I am going to trust God and my intuition to direct me to the right choice. As opportunities present themselves I will ask myself, “Does this honor who I am?”

I also met with new GM who is now an advisor to my program. Wow! What a difference chatting with someone with fresh eyes and fresh perspective can have! Having to walk her through my whole program reenergized me. It reminded me why I was passionate about this. It reminded why I wanted to do this in the first place. Her thoughtful questions and insights helped me find an unexplored path forward. I just met her that morning and already she helped me get unstuck. She suggested I look for something I can leave as a legacy, something tangible that people can say, “Linda did this”. I laughed and said, “Being the first and standing up the program isn’t enough?” 😂😂 She laughed but said she was thinking something more like a brochure or even a webinar that folks could use after I’ve moved on…. The budget will not allow for my current role to be a full time position. However, the role will continue as a temporary assignment after I move on to something new. She encouraged me to remember that I was first. I was the trail blazer. I have been the vision setter. I need to leave a legacy as well as start thinking about a transition plan. I came home full of things to think about as well a fresh new perspective and a new to do list. As I flew home looking out of window at the spectacular clouds, I was pensive. I was thinking about the events of the day and what I accomplished this year and what I learned about myself along the way. It’s been a great year professionally and great work experience.

I learned this week it’s important for folks to agree on what success looks like. While we had conversations about the goals of the program, their view of success was actually more achievable than my own. I learned this week the value of talking to people face to face when you have an important message to relay to them. If I presented my briefing over the phone, they would not have felt my energy or passion. The conversations that took place that day never would have happened. They would have missed the subtle nuances of my facial expressions and body language. This is good advice in any situation. If you have something important to say to someone, say it in person. The message may not be received in the way you are intending through phone, text or email. I learned this week talking to someone with fresh eyes or perspective can reenergize you. It can help you see things you may have missed. I learned this week to be open to constructive guidance and accept support when it is offered. Most importantly, I learned this week to always speak from my heart with confidence, authenticity and honesty even when I am briefing the big cheese in the organization😊

I write about self awareness a lot on this blog. I write about it so much because I truly believe self awareness is the key to growth and development. I think it’s especially important to practice self awareness in our careers. I admire leaders who encourage self awareness. How can you grow if you refuse to see yourself as you are instead of how you perceive yourself to be? How can you grow if leave no room for inner reflection and self knowledge? How can you be empathetic and sensitive to the needs of others including your employees if you can’t even acknowledge your own needs and desires? It’s with this new self awareness I will be moving into the future and evaluating upcoming career opportunities.

Do you celebrate your career accomplishments? Do you honor who you are while making career decisions? What legacy will you be leaving to the folks who will step into your shoes? Do you encourage your employees to leave a legacy? When you talk to employees, do you ask thoughtful questions and give helpful insights? Do you help them define success in their careers or projects? And is your definition of success in alignment with the folks around you? Do you practice self awareness as a leader or in your life?

I chose “Blackbird” by the Beatles for this post. It was written by Paul McCartney during the Civil Rights movement after seeing a black women arrested for sitting on a bench in a “white” section of a park in the United States. As a highly sensitive, empathic feeler, the current political climate is causing me a bit of anxiety.  I worry about our Democracy and the inflammatory rhetoric used by leaders against the Press and to stoke right extremists.  And now, a “USA Today” Op-Ed full of outright lies that many will believe on the surface without questioning. He’s gaslighting our nation.  I urge people to fact check politicians.  Even worse are the rich GOPers who only care about the economy and their own economic interests; turning a blind eye to everything else because life is good for them. I’ve been pulling away from people who lack a social conscience and put money & power over people. If you recall, fair haired white people were living good lives and turning blind eyes while 600K Jews were executed. I do not think our President is a horrible human being but I do think he lacks social consciousness.  Money and power are his Gods and rulers.  He’s willing to exploit the right extremist groups to win and aligns himself with Dictators.  The Senate and/or House needs to be a different party to separate and diffuse his power as well as bring accountability & transparency back in DC. November 6th is my sister, Sandy’s, birthday. I am hoping her spirit brings us luck and change. Stop the #trumpcult 🌊#votethemout 🌊💙

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