Dreams as Career Development Guides

megan leatherman career coach and human resources consultant
Photo via Unsplash

Reprise: I’m dropping down to one new post per week between now and giving birth in March 2017, so enjoy this repost!

As a young Psychology student in college, I was taught that researchers still don’t really understand dreams, but the predominant theory was that they’re just how your brain processes information from the day – tossing out what’s useless and keeping the knowledge you’ll need in order to function tomorrow. No hidden meanings, no prophetic qualities – just an overnight update like the one your computer makes.

I felt sad and conflicted to learn this, and yet, I believed it for a very long time. I’d have dreams and hardly even pay attention to them because I figured that they were just nonsense.

That’s unfortunate, because I think I could have avoided a lot of pain and heartache had I paid attention to this vast resource that we have access to every night. 

I don’t believe that every dream I have holds some major “aha!” moment, but for me, it’s this amazingly easy, simple way to stay aware of what’s going on for me at a level below my consciousness.

Carl Jung, one of the most incredible thinkers (and feelers) of our time, believed that dreams were the process by which you become conscious of unconscious thoughts and feelings. He taught that dreams reveal much more than they conceal, and that their interpretation is highly personal – no one can tell you what your dream does or doesn’t mean for you.

I think this is why we’ve poo-pooed dreams in our modern culture. Since we couldn’t categorize, measure, and standardize their meanings, we tossed them aside as neurological waste.

That’s nonsense, and I believe it’s high time we included dreams in our personal and professional development work.

megan leatherman career coach and human resources consultant
Photo via Unsplash

Since I’ve reconnected with my own dream life, I’ve been able to understand personal changes I’m going through, have gained insight into my business, and have been able to process old pain that was keeping me stuck, all of which is pretty amazing.

At this point, I should note that for some people, dreams just don’t really resonate with them, or they never remember their dreams when they wake up. That’s totally fine, and those people have other ways to access their subconscious, intuitive sides. Jung taught that even if we don’t remember our dreams, they’re still working their magic and helping us become aware of what’s going on beneath the surface.

If you’re curious about the dreams you have and are wondering how you can start tapping into their wisdom (your wisdom), I’ve got one trick that I’ve found incredibly helpful.  

The technique is attributed to Carl Jung’s dream analysis method, but I wasn’t able to find any hard evidence of that online (fear not: I’ve reserved almost all of his books at the library and will let you know what I find out later). Luckily, papa Jung encouraged people to just figure it out on their own and not overthink this, so here goes:

My version of a “cut to the heart of the symbolism in your dream” analysis technique:

Step one: When you wake up from a dream, it’s helpful to do something that solidifies it in your consciousness since so often we fall back asleep or go about our day and forget the details that were so vivid while we were sleeping. Some people write in a dream journal that they keep by their bed, put a note in their phone, or just try to remember it once they’re awake. Do whatever feels easy and light to you.

Step two: As you remember the dream, take any symbol or character from it (it can be a person, animal, stone – whatever interests you) and pretend you are that symbol.

As you take on that symbol’s persona, pretend that symbol has a message for you, the dreamer. What does this symbol want you to know? What does the symbol say? What is that symbol trying to make you aware of?

That’s it. That’s the trick. And it’s revolutionized the way I understand my dreams.

I’ll give you an example that helped me understand where I was getting stuck in my business:

A few months ago, I had a dream that I was in charge of a downtown revitalization project, and one of the larger art pieces for the downtown square was an iron sculpture of an Orca whale. I watched sadly as workers welded on its rusty fins and tried to make it appear alive and majestic even though it was a sorry representation of the whale’s true beauty in its natural state.

That was basically it – the rest didn’t really feel important to me, so when I woke up, I just focused on that image of the steel Orca and how sad it made me feel (we don’t have to conduct a 5-hour analysis on our dreams, we can just take the snippets that really speak to us).

As I sat remembering the dream, I pretended to be that iron Orca. I pretended it had a message for me, and the message came through clearly: the Orca represented my worklife, and while it wanted to be wild and alive, it was becoming a mechanical, stiff shadow of its real nature.

Message received: it was time to loosen the reins, step aside, and stop trying to force my career into a small, lifeless box. This totally resonated with me at the time, and it was exactly what I needed to be made aware of.

megan leatherman career coach and human resources consultant
Photo via Unsplash

Now, on another day, maybe the Orca would have meant something different to me. Maybe Orcas represent something else entirely to you. And that’s all fine and well. You can scoff at this entire idea – part of me does sometimes, too – it goes against what we’ve been taught about external, “objective” truths, and it can feel silly to try and bring our dreamlives into the professional arena.

But give it a try – even if it’s just once. Play around with analyzing a part of a dream you had and see what you find.

Learning how to remember and interpret your dreams is a skill, but it’s not one you need to fret over or feel any sense of “not good enough” about.

Your dreamlife is yours, and it’s simply a resource that’s available to you if you want to tap into it. It will always be there, and if you can just be soft and playful with it, you’ll gain the insights your consciousness needs. Trust yourself with this process – whatever feels like the right interpretation is the right interpretation…with one big caveat:

The right interpretation, the one stemming from your intuition, will feel good – it will feel peaceful, clarifying, and calming, even if you get the sense that you need to make some changes, like I did with my Orca dream. Interpretations that make you feel afraid, bad about yourself, or fearful are coming from your ego – the part of you that hates any kind of change.

So trust the sense you’re getting, but try to make sure it’s from your growth-oriented deeper self, not the fearful part of you that wants to stay exactly who and where you are forever.

I hope you’ll give this a try if it fits for you, and I would love, love, LOVE to hear from you if you gain any insights about your career by using this technique!

A Vision for the Future of Work

*Reprise: I’m winding down to one new post per week between now and Baby Integrated’s arrival in March 2017. Enjoy this repost!*

megan leatherman career coach and human resources consultantWe need a new vision for work – a vision that’s more alive and more vibrant than the mechanical environments that most of us are offered in our jobs today.

Many of us still believe in old stories about work, stories that tell us things like: “you need a boss,” “what matters is the bottom line,” or “once you get to the top, you’ll be happy.”

Even if we know those things aren’t true, we still cling to them and strive to fit into stories that don’t serve us. We’re hungry for something else, but we aren’t quite sure what that is.

Our stories are outdated, and that’s causing dissonance for people who want more depth and meaning in their careers.

David Korten, the author of a book called The Great Turning, wrote, “When the stories a society shares are out of tune with its circumstances, they can become self-limiting, even a threat to survival. That is our current situation.”

In case you haven’t heard of the concept of The Great Turning, I’ll share my understanding of it: it’s essentially the idea that humans are at a pivotal crossroads in terms of our consciousness and the actions we take based on what we believe is true in the world. Many people are living and working as though things are fine, the same as always – “There are plenty of natural resources,” “If I just work hard enough I can get ahead,” “Our world is not falling apart,” etc.

But for those of us who are awake to the destruction happening around us – the devastation of our natural environments, the curse of affluenza and consumerism – we have a choice to make. We can either choose to be crippled by fear and continue living like everything’s fine, or we can be a part of the shift: The Great Turning.

We can turn toward community, toward stewardship, toward a new economy based on wholeness instead of emptiness.

The Great Turning absolutely applies to our worklives and the stories we tell ourselves in our careers.

Things like the push for paid parental leave, a new awareness of self-management in the workplace, and a greater desire for work life integration are all signs that people are choosing a new vision of work, which gives me all the feels and makes me so excited.

So what is that vision? What would work look like in a society more interested in caring for ourselves, one another, and our planet than with shareholder profits?

Frederic Laloux, whose work I respect immensely, writes about three components of organizations that are pushing the envelope toward this new vision of work:

  • Self-management
  • Wholeness
  • Evolutionary purpose

These are concepts in his book, Reinventing Organizations.

Here are some ways that self-management might show up in the future of work:

Organizations that have come out of The Great Turning will be living, diverse ecosystems, not the behemoth machines that we have today. These organizations will be made up of peers who have agreed upon a certain mode of functioning and self-enforce the rules and structures that they’ve created. Teams within these organizations will be like fully functional cellular organisms, equipped with what they need to support one another and do high-quality work. Ongoing, in-depth training on group dynamics, vulnerability, and conflict resolution will ensure that these self-managing organizations can focus more on the good work they’re doing than on politics and in-fighting.

What about Laloux’s concept of wholeness? How might that become part of the future of work?

Thanks to the work of Brené Brown and many others, shame and vulnerability have become more acceptable things to talk about, but there’s still not enough room in today’s workplace for us to show up fully human. From where I sit, many of our workplaces are hyper-masculine environments in which you’re expected to have a forceful approach to problems, compete with your peers, and scramble to the top. In any living system, whether it’s our bodies, ecosystems, or the earth itself, we need balance.

Our workplaces need a balanced dose of the feminine. In organizations that move toward and value wholeness, feminine attributes such as intuition, cooperation, and care for the community will be just as important as profit, action, and meeting goals. We need both types of energy, and when in balance, they enable us to be whole ourselves and to create organizations that are spacious enough for integrated adults.

megan leatherman career coach and human resources consultantFinally, I want to talk about Laloux’s concept of evolutionary purpose and add my own twist:

Laloux talks about evolutionary purpose in terms of organizational purpose and the idea that if an organization is a living system, its direction cannot be controlled. In the future of work, perhaps organizations start out with one set of goals, but over time and through the work of their self-managing teams, new goals arise – goals that could even change the entire focus of the company. The idea here is that we will learn to let things arise and move with them instead of sticking to old stories or outdated company mission statements.

I want to add another idea to this concept, though, and that is about interconnectedness. Part of The Great Turning is a change in Western consciousness from individualism to a deeper sense that we are part of something larger. So many people are sick in this culture because they believe that they are separate. They believe that they are alone in this world, disconnected from others, from the earth, from life itself. If you believe that you are separate from everything, it’s much easier to cause harm – to yourself, to others, and to the earth around you.

But we aren’t separate, are we?

I love this quote from the poet Rabindranath Tagore: “The same stream of life that runs through my veins night and day runs through the world.”

In the future of work, I imagine people coming together to create organizations that monitor, act, and celebrate stewardship of their people and their impact on the natural environment. Profits are most definitely a part of that, but in this evolved future, profits are put in their rightful place: alongside – and no more important than – people and the earth.

When we realize that we are connected to everything around us, we can 1) wake up to the pain of what’s going on in ourselves and to the earth, and 2) choose to be a part of The Great Turning.

megan leatherman career coach and human resources consultantIt is possible to have a society full of organizations that contribute to the well-being of the world instead of deplete it.

The future of work can be one that is joyful and colorful and supportive of each of us and the gifts we bring to it. We all have a unique part to play in this pivotal time, and if our bodies and hearts are diminished after each 40-hour workweek, it’s difficult to see what that part is and how to play it.

No matter where you are in the world or what you do for work, I encourage you to believe in this vision if it resonates with you. Shed that old story that tells you that work is about taking and keeping up and defeating others.

Choose to believe in a story that invites you to be bigger and dive deeper.

We need this vision to become real, and I believe that process is already underway. If caring, brave individuals like you can come together and support one another as they make real change in their own worklives and in the lives of others, then this vision will become real much more quickly.

One such community of these kinds of people is the Facebook group I facilitate called A Wild New Work. Click to join us and choose a different path.

I’m Taking Space to Re-invigorate

Hi lovely readers,

I wanted to let you know that I’ll be taking some time away from writing between now and December 27th to do two things: 1) rest and enjoy the season, and 2) think about how to re-invigorate The Integrated Workplace.

It’s hard to believe that I’ve been writing two blog posts per week for over a year now, and to be honest, I’m feeling a bit tired. I also wonder how you’re feeling and am thinking about how I can tweak the format, rhythm, and flow in a way that re-energizes things for all of us.

So, I will most definitely be back, I’m just not sure in what exact form 🙂 My guess is that I’ll mix the writing up with content in other mediums, but stay tuned!

If you’re feeling a little worn down in an area of your work, this is the perfect time of year to take some space from it so that you can see it in a new light. Once you give yourself permission to look at things anew and make them work for you, the gifts flow much more easily.

You *might* hear from me on the Winter Solstice if I’m feeling inspired, but otherwise, keep an eye out for a post from me on Tuesday, December 27th!

I’ll still be active in our Facebook community, A Wild New Work, and you’re welcome to join me there!

Take good care of yourselves in this dark time before the sun starts to return next week!

xo,

Megan

25 Things I Love About Work

megan leatherman career coach and human resources consultantThis morning before I sat down to write, I was feeling stressed out because I got off to a late start and don’t have as much time to write as I normally do.

“What will I write about in such little time?!,” I wondered. “I have to get this done ASAP so I can make those website updates today!,” I thought.

Then, a sweet little ping of inspiration hit me: I can have fun with this.

I can have fun with this constraint, this lack of time.

It doesn’t have to be hard and anxiety-ridden, which is something I’m trying to remember more and more in every part of my life.

So, instead of trying to plan out a dense, wordy post for you, I decided I’d give myself five minutes to celebrate what I love about work. I set a timer and wrote down as many of my favorite aspects of work as I could.

I focused on what brings me joy and tried to have fun with this instead, and it turned out to be an illuminating exercise! I’ll tell you what I learned after I share the list.

25 things I love about work:

  1. Collaborations with cool people
  2. Shaping ideas
  3. Getting paid
  4. Connecting with other humans through the work
  5. Coffee dates
  6. Opening up shop (meaning: starting early)
  7. Starting late when I want to
  8. Learning new things about my clients’ lives
  9. Breakfast meetings
  10. The first email check of the day
  11. Stretch assignments
  12. Building presentations and curriculum
  13. Learning about different company cultures and wondering what makes organizations tick
  14. Having rhythm throughout the day: work, break, work, break, stretch, work…
  15. Opportunities to express gratitude, which are everywhere
  16. Sharing that knowing look with a colleague in the hallway, like “We got this.”
  17. Getting in the zone
  18. Dreaming about what could be…
  19. Dry erase boards
  20. Power Hour
  21. Having a workspace that’s mine and full of inspiration
  22. Color-coded calendars
  23. Looking out the window until my next best thought arrives
  24. Excel formula magic (up to a point)
  25. The fact that we always get to choose how we show up in our work

megan leatherman career coach and human resources consultantWhen I looked back over my list, I realized that I really want more of two things:

A dry erase board, and…

More connections/collaborations/partnerships with other people doing soulful work in the world.

I knew my desire to collaborate has been getting mulled over in the back of my mind, but it came out so clearly on my list that it surprised me a little.

Isn’t that what it’s all about for most of us, anyway? Finding connection and meaning in our work? Partnering with others to build something we care about and that serves others?

Work gets a bad rap a lot of the time because, well, it’s complicated. But we can celebrate work – it can be fun and life-giving and meaningful.

What do you love about “work”?

If you’re interested, time yourself for 5 minutes or less and jot down as many things you love about work as you can. What does your list say? And how can you get more of what’s on there into your day to day life?

I’d love to hear about your list or thoughts about this post in our Facebook group, A Wild New Work! Click here to join the discussion.

Why Recruiting at Your Organization Might Be Doomed

LinkedIn just released their annual report, Small and Mid-Sized Business Recruiting Trends 2017. This report is a survey of about 2,600 small to mid-sized companies that includes data about what they’re planning to do in recruiting for the next year. I’ll give you some of the highlights of the report:

  • 57% of small and mid-sized (SMB) businesses plan to increase hiring next year
  • Most SMBs are focused on leveraging automation (those applicant tracking systems where you upload your resume) to speed things up and “decrease human bias”
  • SMBs report they’re most focused on “quality of hire,” which is measured by how long the new hire stays with the company, satisfaction of the hiring manager, and the time to fill (which they report should be <2 months, ideally)
  • 50% of SMBs will not increase their budgets
  • Their top concern: competition with other firms

megan leatherman career coach and human resources consultantSo, if I had to sum this all up in one sentence, it’s this:

Businesses want to hire more people that are a good fit faster than they have before, but with even less human interaction. (Oh, and they’re all planning on doing the same thing and are, rightfully, worried about competition).

The authors of the report wrote all of this without irony, but I felt confounded and sad while reading it.

When are organizations going to learn that the answer to hiring the right people doesn’t lie in the old “pump and dump” recruiting model? 

I guess I can see why there’s a wish to leverage automation – human bias is real and pervasive, and most candidates agree the process should be faster – but increased computer interaction is not the answer.

The need to hire for fit in an organization conflicts with our obsession with speed and efficiency.

Until companies think outside the old model of hiring, we will continue to hear about how there’s “no talent,” and amazing, gifted candidates will keep getting screened out because their resumes don’t have all the right words in them.

The companies that will win “the war for talent” are the ones that make the effort to focus on human connection.

They will create people-centered recruiting practices that might take four months instead of two but will result in wildly better results.

megan leatherman career coach and human resources consultantThese are the organizations willing to look beyond the resume, invest in training their managers to limit hiring bias instead of outsourcing the problem to software, and who treat their current employees – and candidates – like people.

The “war for talent” is a farce created by organizations that don’t want to change how they treat people.

Like Seth Godin wrote, “it’s a lie because many organizations only pretend that they’re looking for talent.”

Many organizations are just looking for someone who checks off the right boxes, follows instructions, and will keep their head down. For those people, maybe the transactional nature of recruiting today is the right fit.

But if you’re looking for the imaginative people who will pour their heart into the work and up-level your organization, things have to change.

You already have everything you need to transform this empty, deathbed hiring game: you have real humans on your recruiting team who are capable of empathy, intuition, and relating to potential hires.

There are real people working at the company who can tell it like it is and, if they’re treated well, will recruit their friends for you. There’s money to pay the company’s bills that can cover the cost of a lunch or coffee date with someone you hope will join the team one day.

You’ve got everything you need…you just have to choose to be different.

Choose to be different from all the other firms and recruiters who will continue to automate and scramble for the few qualified candidates who are still willing to play their tired old game.

megan leatherman career coach and human resources consultantI work with individuals every day who are bright, creative, and ready to put the work in, but who get stalled by applicant tracking systems or recruiters who are programmed to look only for the people who have done the same work before.

The game is rigged, I tell them, and it is. If you’re a recruiter or have anything to do with hiring in your organization, my guess is that you’re frustrated with the game, too.

No one is pleased, but we keep playing it, even though it feels fake and doomed.

No matter whether you’re someone who wants to be hired or someone looking to hire, I want to leave you with a nugget of advice:

Do whatever you can to make the process feel more authentic to you.

If you’re recruiting for a company that totally sucks and that you can’t honestly recommend to the candidates you’re talking to, dial down the enthusiasm a little and find ways to have integrity while you’re doing your job. Or leave – that company doesn’t deserve you, anyway.

If you’re applying for jobs and are discouraged by the black hole job search approach, find a new one. Talk to real people via informational interviews. Quit sending your resume out cold. Hire an innovative career coach. Do what you need to in order to do this with integrity.

If enough of us stop playing the game, the game will have to change and become human again.

Are Healthy Organizations the Unicorns of Modern Work?

megan leatherman career coach and human resources consultantA couple of people have asked me lately if it’s possible to find work in an organization that values people. Like, really values people – a place that encourages them to show up whole, makes space for bottom-up change, and does work based on connectedness, not fear.

Someone asked specifically if I thought organizations like that were unicorns – legendary, fleeting creatures that may or may not have ever existed.

My immediate answer was “no,” because there are organizations like that in today’s workforce – organizations like Sounds True, Buurtzorg, and Morning Star. These are real-life places where employees are managing themselves, their work, and they’re kicking ass in their industries.

But I want to take this analogy a little further and flesh out my response. Warning: you might think I’m crazy once I start talking about unicorn people at work, but try to just roll with the metaphor.

Many people believe that unicorn legends are based in reality – that in China and the Middle East, horned animals like rhinoceros and certain types of oxen were woven into various stories that eventually grew more and more magical.

Unicorns appear in art and stories across cultures, and some of their basic traits are that their horns could be used to heal sickness, aid in protection, and that they were wild, fleeting creatures that could only be caught by a virgin girl who sat quietly waiting in the woods.

megan leatherman career coach and human resources consultantInterestingly, one scholar pointed out that unicorns are the only mythological creature that doesn’t seem to have originated from human fears. They’ve been stripped of some of their darker traits as the years have gone on, but generally, it was believed that unicorns could only help and heal, and they could only be drawn in by someone “pure of heart” (let’s assume that has nothing to do with whether someone is a virgin).

So if we’re looking for unicorn-like organizations, then we’re looking for places that are healing, helpful, a little hard to pin down, and drawn to people with a good heart.

Honestly, I think there are still only a few unicorn organizations in our modern world of work. That doesn’t mean they don’t exist, they’re just harder to find.

There may only be a few unicorn organizations, but I know that there are a lot of unicorn people within organizations. Sweet, sensitive people with integrity who are trying to keep their unicorn-ness even though it’s hard.

We can all be unicorns.

We are all wild, capable of healing, and drawn to others whose hearts are pure. We are those things already, we just get stuck in old belief systems and environments that can suffocate us.

megan leatherman career coach and human resources consultantThere’s a whole community of unicorns out there, and as long as you choose to believe they exist, you can surround yourself with their hopefulness and innovation. You can find the unicorns of the working world in places like Enlivening Edge, the Reinventing Organizations Wiki page, and in our Facebook group.

To amp up your unicorn powers, all you have to do are the things that feel healing and that make you want to help others. To go even further, you can surround yourself with people who believe that unicorns exist, individually and as organizations.

For those of you who feel cynical and like these organizations just aren’t real, or that change isn’t possible, I’d leave you with this question:

Isn’t life just a little brighter and more fun when you believe unicorns are real?

Why Our Work Has to Change

megan leatherman career coach and human resources consultantA lot of what I’ve been doing lately has been centered around this concept of “a wild new work.” I think that term is appealing to folks because it sounds alive. And hopeful. Many people are hungry for work to be different – for it to be nourishing and adventurous instead of a source of depletion or fear.

For others, it’s easy to throw off this concept as frivolous, or optional – as if only privileged freelancers or white collar workers have the right to dream of something better.

From where I sit, this concept is not optional.

To work in a way that is life-giving is part of the next phase of our human evolution, if we choose to be brave and allow it to unfold. If you believe that the way we treat people in most organizations has no impact on how we treat the earth or the beings we share it with, then I’m sorry, but you are mistaken.

What does it do to a person to go to a stale office building every day to do meaningless work under the hum of fluorescent lights? How does monotony and micro-management change us over time?

According to psychologist Barry Schwartz, we are deeply shaped by the work that we do and the environments in which we do that work. (Check out his 10-minute TED Talk for more on this).

What does that mean for you? When you look around you at your work, does it strike you as an environment that you want to become?

For some of you, I think the immediate reaction would be “No!”

Some of the most troubling aspects of the way many of us work now are:

  • The systemic squashing of our own internal truth and integrity (e.g., our obsession with “experts,” “objectivity,” and productivity above all else)
  • The rampant disconnection: from the earth, from animals, from those we love, and, therefore, from our own humanity

photo-1461709444300-a6217cec3dffWhen we work in places where those things are true, we experience sickness, whether it’s physical, mental, or spiritual.

In these environments, we forget who we are, which makes it easy for us to become desensitized to things like the systematic harm done to people of color or the literal pillaging of the earth (#nodapl). We fill our bank accounts or get to tell others about our fancy job, but meanwhile, something is closing off inside of us. As Viktor Frankl wrote, “Ever more people today have the means to live, but no meaning to live for.”

Because of what it does to us and our communities over time, the tightness and misalignment that’s felt in so many workplaces by so many people is a serious issue. The tightness and misalignment you feel is a serious issue.

Things have to change.

The work we dedicate so much of our lives to should make us – and the world around us – healthier. And there are people who are making that a reality today. Tami Simon, founder of a company called Sounds True, shares her vision of how business can be different:

We have this idea about business–everything we do has to help us make more money, be more productive or whatever. But that’s not my view of business. My view of business is that we are coming together as a community to fill a human need and actualize our lives.

I believe her vision is possible and have seen it happen for myself and others – including people working within organizations. There are always things you can do to nurture your spirit and your humanity, even in the midst of a mechanical workplace. If you feel interested in learning new ways to work and support yourself, I’ve got three ideas:

megan leatherman a wild new workYou can join our Facebook group, A Wild New Work, where we share resources and discuss issues coming up for working people.

You could register for the free webinar I’m offering tomorrow, September 14th at 10:00am. (If it’s after September 14th and you’re itching to view the recording, let me know).

If you’re a working woman in Portland, you could check out the four-week group I’m offering starting October 29th, where we will get very real about all of this and shake things up in our worklives.

If any of those ideas resonate with you, I hope you’ll take a step forward.

Your relationship to work, how you’re treated in your worklife, and how you treat yourself in your worklife are so important, and I hope that, no matter what, you at least give yourself permission to want what’s best for you and your gifts.

Combating Silence in Organizations

megan leatherman career coach and human resources consultantI was really afraid to publish a post called 50 Reasons You Feel Like Shit at Work, and I was fearful in large part because it was so critical of common organizational practices.

For a long time, I was worried about coming across as too negative, too anti-organization, and so I wrote more mild posts in an effort to support readers while also keeping a door open to do work within organizations. I thought that if I played nice enough, I could continue writing while also working to make change inside of companies, even though when I’d tried, it felt totally draining.

We need innovative, forward-thinking people inside of organizations to drive change. Absolutely. For sure. And we also need people on the fringes noticing and giving voice to the things that are harmful and need to stop, which is where I feel more aligned with who I really am.

We need both kinds of people if we’re going to create organizations that allow people to show up as wholly themselves.

There is an unhealthy amount of silence around our organizations and their practices today. I felt afraid to post what I did because it still feels taboo to me to be critical of companies or non-profit groups. And yet, they wield a lot of power, and because of that, need to be held to a higher level of accountability.

Why are so many of us uncomfortable talking about the lack of transparency and humanity in these places?

I think it’s because for many of us, doing so has been labeled “unprofessional,” and we’re afraid of what could happen if we’re critical of the very people who sign our paychecks.

megan leatherman career coach and human resources consultantMany of our ancestors have either been part of a labor movement or were working adults while their peers were trying to form unions. I know how controversial unions can be, and some of them are just as crooked as the organizations they’re “protecting” employees from, but their foundational purpose is pure: to publicly hold organizations accountable for how they treat their employees.

We need people to serve that function. We need to unveil harmful practices like hiding pay practices from employees, expecting salaried employees to work way more than 40 hours/week, and putting employees through patronizing disciplinary processes.

We need less silence and more accountability. Without bringing things out into the open, they stay secret and gnarly and more harmful than if we just looked at them and at least acknowledged that they were happening.

It breaks my heart when I hear about people who feel like they have no one they can talk to about an abusive boss, a total sense of overwork, or a suspicion that they’re being paid less than their peers for the same work. These are real, serious issues, and while I know the people in power often feel just as isolated and afraid as those “below” them, they’re kind of like politicians: they should be beholden to the people in their community.

Some organizational leaders will, for a long time to come, cling to the notion that they’re actually only beholden to “the business,” as if that’s a real thing.

megan leatherman career coach and human resources consultantThe social contract between workers and organizations is changing though, and the organizations that succeed will be the ones who stop trying to hide harmful practices and who humbly partner with their people to make things better.

Whether you work in an organization or without, I encourage you not to be silenced anymore. If you see something destructive, shed light on it. If you see something beautiful that needs more room to grow, do whatever you can to give it that.

You get to decide what kind of a place you want to work in, and you can effect real change by doing your part to hold the organization and its leaders accountable for their decisions and their treatment of you, the community, and the earth itself.

I know it’s not always comfortable, but it is a requirement for those of us calling for a new, healthier, more authentic world of work.


If you’d like to join a community that’s discussing some of these issues, I invite you to check out our Facebook group, A Wild New Work.

Performance Metrics for the Enlightened Professional

megan leatherman career coach and human resources consultantMoney.

It’s everywhere. It’s involved in almost every part of our lives, and there is so much energy around it that it can define what we do, who we are, and how we spend our days.

If you are over the age of 17 or so, I’m sure you’ve been asked these kinds of questions numerous times by well-meaning adults:

How will you make a living?

How will you support yourself?

What will you do with that degree/trade/job/idea?

The word goddess Cheryl Strayed has a beautiful response to the pressure so many of us feel to have the “right” answer to these questions:

You don’t have to get a job that makes others feel comfortable about what they perceive as your success. You don’t have to explain what you plan to do with your life. You don’t have to justify your education by demonstrating its financial rewards. You don’t have to maintain an impeccable credit score. Anyone who expects you to do any of those things has no sense of history or economics or science or the arts. You have to pay your own electric bill. You have to be kind. You have to give it all you’ve got. You have to find people who love you truly and love them back with the same truth.

But that’s all. 

How would your life change if you simply focused on paying your bills, being kind, giving it all you’ve got, and loving truly?

I don’t know about you, but that kind of life sounds pretty appealing to me, even though the socialized part of me clamors and clings to old ideas of “success.”

A few weeks ago, I was talking with a mentor who helps me get real about money and my business, and when he asked me (like he usually does) about setting strategic monetary goals, I hit a wall. I told him how sick I was of focusing on the money. I told him that it felt yucky and gnarly, and like a poor use of energy. These were hard things to say to a financial mentor, but he was kind and gracious, and he met me where I was.

Instead of focusing on money, we agreed I’d set new goals – ones that felt good to me and that kept me going in the direction of where I want to go. This has changed the way I measure what I do each day, and it feels awesome. Instead of limiting myself to regular performance metrics like revenue and website traffic, I’m focused on two more enlightened ones:

How much fun am I having?

– and –

How much connection am I creating?

megan leatherman career coach and human resources consultant
Can you channel some of the fun and connectedness these girls are having?

Now, the importance of money is not lost on me. I know how much it matters, and frankly, I want more of it in my life. But I don’t want money guiding my worklife – I want it to be an outcome of the fun I’m having and the connection I’m creating with and for others.

How would your career shift if you focused more on fun and connection?

When we’re having fun and connecting with others in an authentic way, our work can actually heal and enliven us.

When I look at the things I’m having fun with and creating connection through, like the Facebook group and A Wild New Work course, I involuntary smile and feel so grateful to be doing this work. To me, that’s a definite sign that I’m succeeding and performing at a level I’m proud of.

Forget about “how will you make a living?” for a minute and imagine what would make you feel more fun and connected. Do you see the value of those things?

Do you see how they support and nurture your success?

 

 

50 Reasons You Feel Like Shit at Work

megan leatherman career coach and human resources consultantI hear from a lot of people who feel tired, stifled, belittled, overwhelmed, and patronized at work. They feel disrespected in meetings, put down by their “teammates,” or are just exhausted to their core.

So many of us put up with jobs and organizations that diminish who we fundamentally are.  We feel bad, heavy, or mixed up at work but tell ourselves that it’s just because we’re not tough enough to “hang.” We become convinced that since we feel badly, something must be wrong with us.

If you feel like shit at work and are telling yourself to toughen up, then I have something to say:

It’s not you. It’s them.

You are trying to function in a system that is broken. You’re trying to fit into an organization or mode of working that is not very friendly to normal human beings, and when we try to fit into systems that don’t work for us, we get sick. Or tired. Or angry. Or all of the above.

If you’re working inside of a company, you’ve likely tuned out a lot of the things that are breaking you down, because to see them all the time would make you go crazy. It often takes an outsider to notice them and say, “Actually, I think that’s wrong. And dumb.”

In this post, I’m highlighting 50 of the most insidious ways that organizations belittle the people they claim to be committed to (that’s you).

I’m doing this because I want you to see what you’re up against. I want to help people see so that they stop berating themselves for not being “tough enough” to succeed in these environments. Then, maybe, if we stop trying to fit into them, we’ll have the energy to change our organizations for the better.

Some of the practices on the list might seem so benign that they surprise you, but little by little, drip by drip, these practices build to create cultures that are stagnant, devoid of trust, and overrun by egos. You might not experience all of these at your job, but I bet many of them will ring true.

I hope this list reminds you that you a) are not alone and b) are enough – tough enough, smart enough, capable enough – to do amazing work in the world.

For those put off by the title or message of this entry: I’m glad this doesn’t resonate with you – it may mean you work in an organization that truly values who you are! 

:: 50 Reasons You Feel Like Shit at Work ::

  1. The supply closets in the office are locked.
  2. You’re told – explicitly or implicitly – to keep “personal stuff” out of the office.
  3. Your organization doesn’t allow celebrations or recognize holidays of any kind because they’re too afraid of being sued.
  4. If you want to apply for an internal posting, you’re expected to have a Master’s degree, 5 years of experience, and a willingness to be paid at the bottom of market value.
  5. Meetings don’t start until people in positions of “leadership” are there, even though everyone else is expected to get there on time – and does.
  6. You’re not allowed to decorate and personalize the workspace you inhabit for 8+ hours/day.
  7. Dress codes.
  8. Your company assigns work as a one-way street without any input from the people being asked to do the work.
  9. Most meetings are secretive and closed-door.
  10. The leadership in your organization pretends that everything is fine when it’s not. Employees can handle bad news, y’all.
  11. Your time off is limited, capped, monitored, and regulated. If someone’s really motivated to work with you, they’ll show up and get the job done.
  12. Your manager gets salty when you have to leave early to pick up your kid or go to the dentist.
  13. They’re too cheap to stock the coffee station with high quality supplies. Folgers it is.
  14. You know that requests for ergonomic office furniture are always declined, so why bother asking?
  15. You’re asked to sign 100 company policies that treat you like a liability more than a trusted partner.
  16. A promotion is dangled in front of you but no one is being real about the fact that it’s not going to happen for another year or so.
  17. The front desk is decorated super nicely since it’s customer-facing, but the employee break room is sad and nasty.
  18. You’re expected to go to company parties that celebrate an organization you aren’t excited about.
  19. That new college grad is paid $80,000/year to analyze Excel spreadsheets but management says they can’t justify a $0.50/hour raise for the blue collar staff.
  20. You’re given 3 days of unpaid bereavement leave after a loved one dies. Oh, and you need to prove that someone actually died.
  21. The company’s relationships to shareholders are prioritized over their relationships with employees.
  22. Your supervisor lets you think that your contract will turn into a permanent gig even though they know it probably won’t.
  23. Your one on one check-ins are regularly cancelled with little to no consequence.
  24. Performance reviews get pushed back again and again until they’re 6 months or a year late. Or don’t happen at all.
  25. Unhealthy competition between teams is fostered just to get the numbers up.
  26. Pretty much the entire “disciplinary” process. Give me a break.
  27. Your manager talks about you and your team as if he’s playing in a fantasy football league that reduces you to a number and position.
  28. Your organization talks about people solely in terms of their performance (e.g., “low performers” v. “high performers”).
  29. End-of-year company bonuses get paid out to the C-suite but to no one else.
  30. Your organization fails to offer high-quality training and then gets annoyed that you’re not doing a better job.
  31. You’re expected to work in the same way, at the same times, and for the same reasons as everyone else.
  32. You’re not given the freedom to just do whatever’s necessary to take care of your customers.
  33. Your internet access is restricted at work.
  34. Everyone around you tolerates gossip and politicking.
  35. The physical space is neglected so much that you don’t have access to natural light, plants, or other things that make you feel comfortable and human.
  36. They offer you doughnuts once a week but then make clear that you actually don’t have a say in how you do your job.
  37. The payroll or HR department is slow to fix issues with your paycheck but somehow very quick to correct any over-payments they’ve made.
  38. You get in trouble for taking an issue to someone other than your direct supervisor.
  39. The workspaces for new team members aren’t set up ahead of time.
  40. The HR professional calls the lawyer more often than she talks to actual employees.
  41. Gratitude goes unspoken because “that’s just your job.”
  42. Someone’s value is directly related to how much time they put in at the office, even if it’s spent doing close to nothing.
  43. Bullying is tolerated.
  44. Expense reports.
  45. The leaders around you are allowed to “forget” where credit is due and take it for themselves.
  46. You’re rushed to make decisions, but then they take their sweet time to get back to you about that promotion you interviewed for because, well, “you wouldn’t understand.”
  47. You’re not allowed to work from home.
  48. The company increases their recruiting staff but does nothing about the fact that organizational turnover is 100+% for the year.
  49. What you say about work on social media is monitored and could get you in trouble.
  50. The people leading your organization believe that there’s no consequence to treating employees like shit.

We can do better.

We can create worklives and organizations that are vibrant and healthy, and that requires us to start by looking at the dark underbelly of many of our workplace cultures.

If you want things to be better or you found yourself nodding along to some of the things on this list, I invite you to find someone to debrief with, whether it’s a colleague, your partner, a friend, or the lovely folks in our new Facebook group,  A Wild New Work.

Bureaucracy and Beaver Dams

There are so many organizations that are operating as glorified bureaucracies. Layers upon layers of control, measurement, and analysis clog the processes that they’re supposed to support, and some of the highest paid people in those organizations aren’t those actually doing the work – they’re the ones analyzing the work.

megan leatherman career coach and human resources consultant
Courtesy of Fast Company magazine.

With all of the levers and rules piling up in these organizations, it’s no wonder people are running around feeling completely overwhelmed and foggy.

Bureaucracy corrupts.

It turns us into people who create more and more problems for ourselves so that we can stay busy and demonstrate how valuable we are. I want to share a quote from Ricardo Semler, who has an awesome TED Talk called “How to run a company with (almost) no rules.”

Semler says, “Bureaucracies are built by and for people who busy themselves proving they are necessary, especially when they suspect they aren’t.”

Even if you don’t identify as someone who creates busy-ness in order to prove that you’re necessary, I’m sure you’ve met someone in this state. These are the people who talk about how busy and overwhelmed they are all the time, and I’ve been one of these people.

In my former worklife, I totally looked for more and more work in order to show how valuable I was. I made things overly complicated and did more for the sake of doing more, even though it rarely added value to the organization.

To demonstrate how ludicrous this is, I want to take a look at the natural world for a minute. Human beings are extremely complex thinkers, and we have these big brains that enable us to predict outcomes and analyze results, which has helped us to survive as long as we have. I would argue, however, that we have swung way too far in the direction of complexity.

While data is important and valuable, it is never more important than the quality of the work that’s being done.

megan leatherman career coach and human resources consultantImagine a family of beavers building a new dam and lodge along a river. Do you think any of those beavers, once they’ve finished building their new home, is like “You know, I think we need to do a survey of other local beavers and build a report that demonstrates how fast beavers are building in this region. Maybe then we could compare it to reports from other regions and see how we compare!”

Do you think that when bears gather food before they hibernate for winter, they look at what they’ve got and then go gather more just for the sake of seeing an increase in food stock year over year?

No!

In the animal world, simplicity reigns.

When the work is done, the work is done. Resources aren’t wasted on reports or tasks that don’t actually contribute to the well-being of the animal.

Nature purifies, and it holds a valuable lesson for people stuck in a state of overwhelm and bureaucracy.

megan leatherman career coach and human resources consultantThe next time you feel an urge to complain about how busy you are, I encourage you to pause and simply, lovingly, ask yourself: “Is what I feel busy with truly contributing any value?”

Are you busy with things that you believe contribute to the organization’s higher purpose, or are you busy with things you’re doing to try and prove your worth? What would happen if you just stopped doing those things? We often overestimate how much other people depend on the mundane tasks that we dread doing.

Now, to be fair, a lot of people are handed work and told it’s necessary because it affects someone else down the bureaucracy chain. You may not feel like you have a lot of ownership over the work you’re supposed to do, but that’s not true.

You have more ownership than you know, and the seemingly infinite reports, measurements, and analysis will never stop coming until regular people in regular jobs start exposing them for the clutter that they are.

So what can you simplify today?

Can you stop once the dam and the lodge are built? Can you gather enough for the winter and then rest to enjoy the bounty? I hope you’ll give yourself permission to try.

 

Welcoming and Working with Change

megan leatherman career coach and human resources consultantWhen I worked in a fast-paced start-up, change was the norm. Everyone knew it, and I think most of us expected it, but when it came, many of us acted shocked and incredibly annoyed (unless the change was our idea, of course).

Even if I could recognize the benefits of a change, I was usually bothered and joined in on the watercooler grumblings about it. The assumptions behind those grumblings were generally “we should just keep things the way they are,” and “I don’t know what to expect and am afraid of what this change will bring.”

My resistance to change wasn’t a professional issue, it was personal. At this time in my life, I felt completely ungrounded – like I was being thrown around without any kind of anchor. I didn’t have a strong sense of who I was, what worked for me, or what I wanted out of my career, so changes in my environment felt like an assault on any semblance of stability that I had.

Sometimes organizational change fails because the plan and execution are poorly done.

Most of the time, however, it fails because so many of the people who make up the organization lack the groundedness needed in order to integrate change in a healthy way.

We all know that change isn’t going anywhere, a point illustrated in this quote from shamanic practitioner Lena Stevens:

“We are not going back. Evolution only goes in one direction. The increase in energy and complexity is here to stay. So you can adapt or you can suffer. Your choice.”

Instead of being someone who resists, sabotages, or suffers through change, you can be someone who is grounded and healthy enough to work with and actually benefit from it.

A long, but related, side note:

Not all change is good. I hear about a lot of organizational changes that are made simply because people think they have to stay busy or create more complexity. In this post, I’m talking about changes that get your organization closer to its purpose, not changes that are being made simply for the sake of looking busy.

It’s also unfortunate that so much change is mandated from the top of organizations – from people and analysts that are separated from the day to day work itself. Sustainable, healthy change is purposeful and generated from the people who are actually affected by it.

Ok, now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about how to welcome and work with change.

I see this happening in three steps:

  1. Get grounded
  2. Intend hard
  3. Let go of outcomes

nature-forest-leaves-groundGetting grounded:

In order to flow with change in a healthy way, we have to get centered on a personal level. As far as I can tell, this means creating a daily practice of getting still, taking regular stock of what’s working or not working, and taking full responsibility for our reaction to change.

Intending hard:

Expecting and welcoming change doesn’t mean that we stop working on the tasks at hand. It does, however, force us to get clearer about the purpose of our work. I’ll give you an example:

One of the biggest projects I’ve worked on was helping an organization switch to a new phone system for its customers, field staff, and internal staff. This was a tough project for many reasons (namely that it was a top-down approach), but it got even tougher because I didn’t push the project team to get clear about why they wanted to make these changes. We all brought our own assumptions about why this major change should be made, but we should have worked through those together and set a stronger, intentional foundation for the project.

Without clear intentions guiding the change, we had a hard time selling it to the organization, our own processes got muddied, and we clung to a prescribed outcome instead of focusing on whatever it took to achieve what we wanted in the end. If I had to do that project over again, my guess is that the outcome would look wildly different.

If you want to be someone who can flow with organizational change, you need to do the work to a) get grounded, and b) get clear about what you intend to create through your work.

Letting go of outcomes:

Let’s say you intend to create a supportive environment for your team members. You’re very clear about that guiding intention, and it informs the work that you do. In order to realize this goal, you start working on a new initiative to build out quiet spaces for staff members to use for yoga, meditation, or to just get a break from the busyness.

As you’re working on this plan and moving it forward, you find out that Rick over in Research & Development is planning to use the same space for more laboratory storage. Old you might have gotten into quite a tizzy about this – talking to your office-mate about how Rick from R&D is such a spoiled brat who gets everything he wants – but grounded, intentional you is more skillful.

Staying centered and committed to your intention of creating a supportive environment for your team members, you can recognize that there are thousands of ways to achieve your intention. You’re aware that building out quiet space is one of those ways, but it’s not your only option, and you’re able to approach Rick and have a conversation that is collaborative and solutions-focused instead of one that’s desperate and accusatory.

Being a critic of change is easy – anyone can do that. Our organizations are full of naysayers and people who are clinging to “that’s the way we’ve always done it.”

The question is, can you be different? Can you be grounded, intentional, and creative amidst the change and show the rest of us how to work with it more gracefully?

I have no doubt that you can.


Shameless plug: I’m leading a class on this topic for Portland-area professionals. It’s on July 11th, and I’d love to see you there.

How to Be Open About Your Intuition at Work

megan leatherman career coach and human resources consultant
Photo via Mystic Mamma

This week I had the honor of getting a group of women together to talk about intuitive communication (which I’ll be doing again online soon if you’re into it).

Toward the end of the class, after lots of information sharing and discussion, one woman spoke up and said something to the effect of “Yea, okay, but how do I tell my old-school boss who wants hard data all the time that I’m making a decision based on my intuition?”

Mmm, yes.

In this class, we’d created a sort of cocoon where everyone was in agreement about how clarifying and helpful our intuition is in the workplace. We were sharing our experiences, affirming our intuitive knowing, it was all happening, and then…we remembered that this stuff still isn’t mainstream.

The old paradigm that worships hard data and efficiency above intuitive knowing and human connection is on its way out, but it’s not going down without a fight.

As more and more people demand “high touch” experiences with organizations, we will have to reconnect with our own humanity, which includes our intuition. Unfortunately, many leaders in organizations are unable to access this for themselves, and so they continue ravenously hunting for external data that shows them what they already know in their hearts, and they put the same diseased pressure on their employees.

It doesn’t have to stay like this, though. The tide is shifting, and intuition will become more and more acknowledged and accepted in our workplaces, but it’s still at the edges for now.

So how do we, as intuitive people, be more open about accessing that part of us in the workplace?

How do we explain that we don’t need to spend another hour looking at reports – that we already know what we need to do? How do we explain that we can’t explain – we just feel something deep in our core that’s leading us in another direction?

megan leatherman career coach and human resources consultantThe answer isn’t easy, but it is very simple: We just do it.

I don’t know any other way. We just have to be more open about it. We have to do it for ourselves and for the people in our organizations who are starving for their own inner wisdom.

Now, of course, you get to decide how you do it, and with whom. And you can be choosy – maybe you drop “feeling” into a conversation with a colleague you think might be open to it. Maybe you tell your boss that you “just sense” something and watch their reaction. Or hell, maybe you’re ready to open your next staff meeting with “This is what’s in my heart, and I want to be more open about where my intuition is leading me because that’s how I make the best decisions for our team.”

You can also choose not to use the word “intuition” if it’s still a dirty one in your organization. You can simply say things like “I feel…” or “I’m sensing…” or “Something that comes up for me is…”

If the tide is going to shift, we have to be more open about how our deeper, mystical, seemingly “less rational” selves inform our work. We have to do that and then hope that the person across from us is open to accessing their intuitive side and can meet us in that place.

In the last few weeks, I’ve been struck by how open-minded so many professional people are – people you may not expect to be on board with the more squishy, intuitive skills that I’m talking about here.

Last night at an HR Association event I was facilitating, I told about 20 HR professionals that next month we’d be talking about office auras, and no one yelled or threw food at me! Okay, sure, I live in Portland, and this was an innovative group of people, but it still gives me hope – I think people in the professional sphere are ready to talk about things we can’t always name, or see, or measure.

We have to show up as our intuitive, authentic selves in our worklives and trust that the right people – the ones we want around us – are going to be able to meet us there.

Start wherever you are today, even if it’s just imagining dropping “the I word” into a conversation with a colleague.

Honor yourself by making space for your intuition in your work – I can guarantee you’ll reap rewards, even if it’s just feeling completely aligned and genuine for one amazing moment.

3 Signs Your Organization is Shackled by Ego

megan leatherman career coach and hr consultantIn my most recent post, Your Lizard Brain Could be Killing Your Organization, I mentioned three signs that could indicate that an organization is driven by ego – the part of us that is fearful, controlling, and determined to survive.

In this quick SlideShare presentation, I talk more about that concept and offer some ideas for how to balance the ego with more soul, which is the part of us that can rise above fear and make meaningful change in our lives and the lives of others.

Link to the SlideShare presentation: http://www.slideshare.net/MeganLeathermanMSPHR/3-signs-your-organization-is-shackled-by-ego-and-what-you-can-do-about-it

 

Your Lizard Brain Could be Killing Your Organization

megan leatherman career coach and human resources consultantAs I prepare for the webinar I’m offering next week, Using Your Intuition to Work Smarter, I’ve been thinking a lot about our lizard brains.

Seth Godin and Steven Pressfield write a lot about lizard brains – what they define as the part of us that wants to be safe, go slow, pull back, or lash out. It’s resistance, fear, the instinct to survive, and it’s the sphere in which most of our organizations operate.

In order for this to make sense, I have to talk about the Ego. Most of the wise teachers I know would say that the ego and the lizard brain are two peas in a pod. Your ego partners with your lizard brain to keep you safe – it’s very good at picking up on potentially harmful situations and getting you out of them as soon as possible.

If you were caught in the middle of the ocean, your ego and your lizard brain are what would keep you swimming for dry land. If you’re giving a presentation and feel threatened by a critical colleague in the room, they’ll send “GET OUT!” signals like sweaty palms and a racing heart. Their sole interest is in keeping you alive and eliminating threats, which is really very sweet!

The problem is, they’re running rampant and, ironically, killing off many organizations as a result. Here are some ways you know that ego and lizard brains are calling the shots:

  • Decisions are made out of fear: “Don’t rock the boat…The shareholders will be upset if we don’t do it this way…We need to tolerate her or else she’ll sue us.”
  • There’s in-fighting: The loudest, most belligerent people succeed in these organizations, which means competition, under-cutting, and sabotage are rampant. Sensitive people who want to collaborate burn out quickly.
  • There’s never enough: Scarcity runs the show in this organization. There’s never enough money, resources, time, talent – everything is urgent. The top line in everyone’s job description should be “Putting out fires.”

Now, nothing is ever all bad – we do need our egos to help us stay alive and get things done in the world.

megan leatherman career coach and hr consultantBut the ego has to be balanced, and it’s balanced with Soul.

Your soul is what pushes you to make changes in your life even though they’re scary, like switching careers, going back to school, or falling in love. Your soul helps you transcend your survival instincts so that you can live out what you’re on this earth to learn and do.

When our souls inform our lives and organizations, there can be trust, openness, and a sense of abundance – like we know that our needs will be met. Some signs that an organization has a healthy balance of ego and soul are:

  • Decisions based on trust and love: People are given the benefit of the doubt. Policies are in place, but minimally, and they’re never a substitute for a human conversation. When making decisions, the leaders of the organization seek what is in the highest good of all stakeholders – employees, their communities, and even the earth itself.
  • Everyone has a place: Each member of the organization is valued for their unique set of gifts and diverse backgrounds. Community is intentionally formed through trust-building, collaboration, and mutual shows of respect.
  • There is enough: Leadership isn’t stingy about salaries, vacation time, or employee appreciation. They trust that there is enough and are generous with the money that flows through the organization.

One major way that we can tap into our souls and the wisdom they hold for us is through our intuition.

Intuitive knowing is becoming more accepted in mainstream business culture, but it’s still out there on the fringes – largely, I believe, because it’s been denigrated through our obsession with “rationality” and other more intellectual ways of knowing. The tide is shifting, though. I see other professionals waking up to their own inner sense of knowing and using it to guide their careers and their organizations.

When we bring our souls – through our intuition – into the conversations we’re having, the content we’re producing, or the art we’re creating, we integrate our lizard brains and have a chance to thrive instead of merely survive. We get grounded and make decisions that are based in trust and openness instead of an obsession to stay safe and never change.

using your intuition to work smarter webinarIf this topic resonates with you, I’d encourage you to sign up for my free webinar on April 28th called Using Your Intuition to Work Smarter. In this live 60-minute session, I’ll be talking a lot about how to actually tap into your inner sense of knowing so that you can be one of the brave few who are ready to work beyond the world of the lizard brain.