I wish I hadn’t said that.

I’m going to let you in on a secret: I didn’t feel entirely comfortable with last week’s article. 

I fully believe in what I wrote about flowing versus striving, BUT… when I pushed send, the contraction in my body told me that the way I said it wasn’t exactly right somehow. Too long, too business-y, too cerebral. Too blah blah blah.

The voice in my head punched me around a little bit. Told me that I should have waited to start my newsletter until I had planned it all out perfectly… waited until I’d fully practiced and perfected the new writing style that feels more authentic to me now. 

Do you get that perfectionist voice in your head too? The one that delights in pointing out you didn’t get something right? That you should have done it differently? 

That voice has good intentions, for sure. It wants to keep us safe, but instead it keeps us trapped in a corner feeling bad about ourselves. It prevents us from experimenting with what feels aligned and what doesn’t — those somatic signals of YES and NO in our bodies that tell us when we’re on or off our path.

A YES feels expansive and right; it’s our soul’s way of saying “do more of this.” A NO feels tight, constricting: do less of that. Simple breadcrumbs that unerringly lead us forward.  

I’m now writing a memoir about my path to authenticity. This kind of book demands of me a different writing style: a shift from head-based business insights to heart-based stories. And that requires a new way of seeing and moving through the world… one that’s based on feeling, not thinking

I’m still practicing. Sometimes I get it right; sometimes I don’t. And I’m ok with that. 

This is all part of finding our authentic voices, in writing or in life.

“All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.” 

Ernest Hemingway

What’s true for you right now? Underneath the smart thoughts, the fears, the rationalizations, the mask, the expectations — what’s your truth? Embrace it. Marinate in it.

What true sentence can you say to someone right now? I’m scared. I’m sorry. I love you. I feel like an outsider. I don’t feel safe. I screwed up. Whatever’s alive for you that you’re trying to hide… will you share it? 

Next week we’ll talk about the fine line we need to walk between authenticity and credibility as a leader. When does vulnerability become a liability? 

PS. Want to get my posts in your inbox once a week?

Are you in flow, or on a hamster wheel?

This week’s topic is on creating both stability and flow to better roll with the changes. 

Change… gawd, it’s so commonplace now that it’s almost boring to talk about. Layoffs, working from home, COVID lockdowns… 

I’m sure that’s why this HBR article on being forever employable in this era of rapid change is striking a chord for a lot of people. Two of my coachees recently emailed it to me and asked for my perspective.

What Jeff Gothelf writes here triggered an “Absolutely!” mixed with “oooh, I’m not sure about that.” 

Yes, a thought leadership platform can create both stability and flow.

Jeff writes: “By becoming a recognized expert in your chosen domain or discipline you reverse the flow of jobs, leads and opportunities. Instead of you having to chase them down, they come to you.”

Totally agree: this flow of attraction is the sign that we are doing something right. And yes, the mindsets of entrepreneurialism and self-confidence keeps us open for spotting and pursuing new opportunities when they arise. 

So far, so good. 

But let’s try to stay off the hamster wheel, ok? 

Three of the five core concepts in this article are continuous learning, continuous improvement, and reinvention… gaaah! It’s not that it’s wrong, per se… but I feel overwhelmed just thinking about it. 

Do you feel this way too, or is it just me?

Maybe I’m extra-sensitive to this overly busy work environment we’ve managed to normalize. Sensitive after hitting burnout two years ago and escaping overseas without a plan. Since then, I’ve deliberately redesigned my life for balance. 

This idea of perpetual, ever-increasing, ever-faster hamster wheel of change is NOT NORMAL. Spinning, spinning, spinning… and we’re having a hard time holding on, let alone keeping up. 

It’s especially hard for “rebels with a cause” — we tend to be dazzled by a lot of different ideas and problems to solve; we see so many opportunities. How to focus? What to learn and improve? 

This doesn’t feel like flow.

Can we stop the endless doing and start being

There’s a balance between change and stability; we need to find that edge and surf it. The first question to ask ourselves is… what doesn’t change? Anything?

Yes… human nature doesn’t change. There’s a reason why Shakespeare is still relevant 500 years after his death: he knew how to play to people’s needs and emotions. For as long as humans have walked the earth, emotion is what drives us to do what we do. 

What lights you up? What brings you joy? As I wrote last week, these are the things that ground you in who you are. They’re what I call “motivational DNA,” unique to each person. How do you want to feel? 

Will you find new things that excite you? Sure. Will you evolve? Absolutely. But the Jen at 51 is pretty much the same as Jen was at 8, exploring, painting, writing, riding my bike with the wind in my hair. I’m a rebel with a cause; a free-bird problem solver. Always have been, always will be. 

This is NOT about endless reinvention. 

This is about excavating who you already are under the rubble of should’s, expectations and endless running on the hamster wheel. 

Your motivational DNA, combined with your skills and strengths, can help you identify your ground of power: the source of flow. This becomes your stable platform, and you’ll naturally enhance it with new skills and knowledge because you love it; it’s effortless, like breathing. 

It’s like the source of a river, high in the mountains: when we’re connected to our source, we tap a wellspring of boundless energy, creativity, security, and whatever else we need to thrive. 

Our source never moves. It never chases. It doesn’t care what other people think, what the latest technology is, or the latest job title, or the hottest unicorn in Silicon Valley. 

Instead, it magnetizes. This grounded source creates the flow. It’s both/and, not either/or. Flow and stability, simultaneously.

Questions:

Are you in flow, or on a hamster wheel? 

Are you attracting or chasing? 

Are you more focused on being who you really are, or endlessly doing more and more? 

Want to discuss? Shoot me an email, or leave a comment here on this blog post! 

Until next week!  Jen

PS. Most of my clients are navigating a transition right now, and we’re working on building their own thought-leadership platforms. If you’re interested, check out my coaching for flow page and/or book a call with me. 

What do you love?

If you haven’t seen Ethan Hawke’s video on TED’s YouTube channel, you’re missing out. It’s called Give Yourself Permission to Be Creative, but it’s really about giving yourself permission to be yourself.  

My favorite quote: “What do you love?… if you get close to what you love, who you are is revealed to you.” 

Amen. 

Too often, we try to make decisions by thinking and analyzing instead of tapping into the wisdom in our bodies and emotions. Ethan calls it love; I call it your YES — that vast, expansive, light feeling in your body that emerges when you’re in full alignment with your truth. 

This feeling reveals who you are. It reveals your path, like breadcrumbs. 

Questions: 

  • How often do you feel that sense of YES in your life and work? 
  • In what ways have you sacrificed what you love in the name of an expectation or a paycheck or…? 
  • If you could do one small thing this week to create more YES, what would it be? 

Share your answers in the comments; I’d love to hear from you!

Photo by Michael Fenton on Unsplash