Are You Digesting Life Properly?

megan leatherman career coach and human resources consultant

Have you ever had something come up in your life that feels eerily similar to an issue you’ve dealt with in the past?

A while ago, I entered into a business partnership that was all wrong, and while my intuition was sending me alarm signals the entire way, I chose to ignore them. Sure enough, the partnership had to end, and it wasn’t a pleasant experience.

Something came up recently within a completely different context, but it had the same icky texture. Since our brains like to find commonalities and make sense of new experiences, my brain immediately declared, “This situation is just like that other one was, which means it’s horrible and you need to get out!”

In some ways, this is really helpful – I was noticing some of the same intuitive signals, and I’ve learned my lesson well enough now to pay more attention to them.

But something else was happening: it became clear to me that I hadn’t fully digested the first partnership, and without doing more emotional work there, it would shadow opportunities to collaborate with others in the future.

I wasn’t able to determine whether this new opportunity that came up was actually right or wrong for me without revisiting and dealing with the old one.

angel Kyodo williams is a Zen priest, writer, and visionary who recently spoke at the Sister Giant conference. While there, she shared an analogy that really stuck with me. She said that people who don’t meditate are going around eating and consuming life, but they’re not digesting any of it.

That is the truth.

Without consciously digesting our experiences, we end up having spiritual diarrhea, constipation, or all sorts of maladies in-between.

megan leatherman career coach and human resources consultantOur bodies are amazing, aren’t they? We consume food throughout the day, our bodies take what they need in order to nourish us, and then they eliminate whatever’s left over and ready to go.

Most of us don’t even have to worry about this process – it just happens automatically, and it gives us the energy we need to enjoy life.

Digesting our experiences is just as important as digesting our food, but many of us have to learn how to do this – it’s not always something we’re taught.

But how do we digest intangible experiences and the thoughts and feelings that come along with them?

When I realized that old pain was informing how I felt about this new opportunity, I got quiet and asked myself some questions: what was the old story I was telling myself, what still hurt, and what was I ready to let go of?

Then I journaled about it so that it got out of my body and onto paper, where I could see it more clearly. This is the digestive process that works for me, but here are some others you could try:

  • Create rituals of processing and releasing. Maybe you write something down on paper and burn it, hike up a mountain and imagine releasing that thing at the top so you’re free on the way back down, or you toss rocks into a lake.
  • You could burn sage or incense after you’ve examined what the experience(s) meant to you, what they taught you, and what about them can be eliminated.
  • You can process things out loud with a loved one or support person.

megan leatherman career coach and human resources consultantWhatever you do, I hope you’ll just start by being more aware of your emotional and spiritual digestion, because it’s so important.

When our bodies don’t digest things slowly enough, we can’t absorb the nutrients we need. When our bodies digest things too slowly, we get stopped up, which causes pain and an inability to take in any more food.

So it is with the things that we experience in life. We need the time to process and draw out lessons from what goes on in our lives, but we also need to release them and move on in time to receive new experiences.

If there were a continuum between “Digests Experiences Too Quickly” and “Digests Experiences Too Slowly,” where would you fall?

Is your spiritual body in balance, able to take in and eliminate regularly?

If not, consider what you might be holding onto that’s ready to go or savor your next experience and see what nutrients can be drawn from it.

10 Non-Creepy Ways to Show Love at Work

In honor of Valentine’s Day (and every day, really), I want to share some ideas for how you can demonstrate care to those around you without looking like you’re trying too hard. Whether you want to use these tips on a love interest, colleagues you normally can’t stand, or your office BFF, they’re guaranteed to give you and the recipients the warm and fuzzies.

You’ll see them in list form, but I’ve also included a fun infographic below that for your viewing pleasure!

10 Non-Creepy Ways to Show Love at Work

  1. Be present. Stop making a grocery list in your head while Debbie from Payroll is trying to talk to you. Take a deep breath and actually be present with her – focus on her words, her demeanor, what she’s asking of you. When we know someone is truly present with us, we feel seen and connected, which is ultimately what it means to be loved.
  2. Bring treats. This one’s obvious. Pastries, lunch, sweets – eating yummy things releases oxytocin in our brains, which makes us feel relaxed and cared for.
  3. Remember something they said or did. You know how it feels when someone brings up something you said or did that seemed inconsequential to you but that touched them enough that they remembered it? It feels amazing – you feel meaningful and like your existence matters a little bit. Do that for someone else today.
  4. See them in new ways. Our minds like to put people into tight little boxes and then go find information that confirms what we already believe about someone. Pay attention to the stories you have about those colleagues that really irk you and choose to let go of them. Allow yourself to see the people around you in new ways.
  5. Smile more. Even when you don’t feel like it, smile. It tricks your brain into feeling happy, and it’s uplifting to others.
  6. Notice when they’re really trying. It sucks to be a newbie at something, and most of us are newbies in one way or another – we’re learning a new system, trying out a new skill, or working to make personal changes. Notice when someone is trying to improve and tell them privately how much you appreciate or admire their efforts.
  7. Give more. Hone in on one person you work with and ask yourself what you could do today that might lighten their load a bit. Find one small thing and do that for them.
  8. Be specifically grateful. We throw “thanks!” around like it’s nothing. Instead, thank someone for something specific, like “I really appreciated how quickly you got this report back to me” or “Thank you so much for helping me unload that box of papers – it was going to be too much for me to carry on my own.”
  9. Ask them questions. Be genuinely curious about people. Use your ability to be present to really see them and be inquisitive – what do they think about this situation? What’s it like to be them in this job? What’s on their plate that’s getting them stuck?
  10. Radiate love. Did you know that you actually radiate a certain kind of energy depending on your mood and the level of “stuff” you’re carrying in your chakras? When you take care of yourself and choose to be loving, you make those around you feel good without even trying. 

And now, in infographic form!:

10-non-creepy-ways-to-show-love-at-work

If you’d like to download or print this infographic, click here

Reclaiming What it Means to Be “Professional”

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

I recently held a webinar with a new software system that I wasn’t totally comfortable with. It was time to start the webinar, and I could see that people were signed in, so I went ahead and switched it to “live” and started talking. I knew the chat function wasn’t working, but I didn’t know how to fix it, and while normally I like to get confirmation that people can see and hear me, I decided to just move ahead since we were recording.

So, I’m talking, sharing my slides, doing my thing…for about twenty minutes. Twenty minutes, so like, almost half of the time I’ve set aside for this thing.

After this chunk of time, I check back into the editor window, and someone was able to submit a message to let me know that no one could see or hear me. I had been talking to myself and presenting my audience with a black screen for almost half an hour.

Panic.

I’m pretty sure I dropped some f-bombs…I was sweating…I couldn’t believe this was happening. Finally, I got it working again, and almost everyone who had signed in originally was still there with me, despite it being a total mess.

Once we were back on, I didn’t even pretend to stay “polished.” I don’t usually have such major technical issues, and this one just threw me flat on my ass. I apologized profusely and, interestingly, I felt this amazing wave of relief – I didn’t have to pretend to have it all together for these people, because clearly, they already knew I didn’t.

They were so gracious, and afterward, I was reflecting on how freeing that felt – despite the whole thing being kind of a disaster.

What does it mean to be “professional”?

In my case, I thought it meant making the technology work seamlessly, appearing put together but friendly, and maintaining an air of distanced expertise.

Instead, I probably came across a little bit frazzled, rushed, and 100% human. And that felt really good.

To me, being “professional” simply means having integrity. Integrity looks different for each person, but it’s essentially an alignment between your inner and outer selves. The formal definition of integrity is all about morals and virtue and whatnot, but that feels too cloudy to me.

megan leatherman career coach and human resources consultantI think my definition of integrity is simpler: does your outer persona reflect who you really are inside?

Even if that inner and outer matching means that you swear a lot, cry easily, express anger, need rest, take time to process, or make crass jokes, if that’s what it means to be in integrity for you, then I think that counts as being “professional.”

I’m on LinkedIn a lot (p.s., let’s connect)and lately I’ve been seeing comments from people who seem to have taken on the role of “LinkedIn Professionalism Monitor.” They’ll comment on more personal-ish posts that people share and say stuff like “Please leave this kind of post for Facebook” or “This is unprofessional clutter – doesn’t belong here” as if it’s up to them to determine what’s professional enough to post on there.

You know what happens when we enforce silly rules about what it means to be professional and shame others who don’t fit into that mold? We all end up looking/acting/talking/behaving in the same way, which is exceptionally boring and dangerously intolerant.

I would much rather encounter people who are genuine, honest, and authentic across their lives than work with people who are trying to fit into – and force others to fit into – some stuffy, bullshit way of being at work.

And what about you, dear one?

Are you essentially the same person at work, home, and in-between? Are you feeling pressure to act a certain way or fit into a suit that doesn’t work for you?

If so, what can you slough off that isn’t yours? What’s not you? Get rid of it.

Add in the messiness, the color, the complexity that’s missing. You’ll feel better, and you’ll give others the permission to reclaim “professional” for themselves, too.


Feel like debriefing this or discussing other creative ways to be more you at work? Join our Facebook group, A Wild New Work!

 

What Will You Do to Prepare for Spring?

megan leatherman career coach human resources consultant work imbolc springTomorrow is officially the Celtic holiday of Imbolc, an ancient celebration marking the shift from Winter to Spring. It was a time when herding animals like sheep were beginning to give birth, little wildflowers were popping up, and the sun was lingering in the sky for a little longer each day.

Even if there’s snow on the ground, frost on our windows, or if the darkness still feels oppressive, something in us is stirring. We know deep down that Spring will inevitably come again, and soon.

Spring surprises me every year. One day I’ll wake up and be astonished at all of the blossoms on the trees, or by the daffodils popping up along the sidewalk. It’s a gift, really – that capacity to continue to be surprised by the Earth’s natural rhythms and change.

For many of us, January has been a tough month. 

The holiday season was full, the pace of New Year’s was rapid, and the return to “normal” could feel like a total slog. In the United States, we also inaugurated Donald Trump as our 45th President, which has felt disorienting and heavy to me and many of the people I work with.

Amidst all of this, the Earth still turns.

Spring still marches toward us, and if we choose to do so, we can celebrate her return this week.

If you imagine Spring as a season in your career, what comes to mind? How might your worklife blossom and be renewed with this sweet, courageous energy?

Where is there potential stirring beneath the frozen ground?

No matter how you feel about your career these days, there is always potential. There is always room for growth, leverage, and blooming. Something that looks dead to us could very well be germinating and gathering strength for an amazing showcase of color and beauty when the time comes this Spring.

We have to honor this potential by giving it space to come forth. 

megan leatherman career coach human resources consultant work imbolc springThings like toxic thoughts, the mistreatment of our bodies, or an overwhelming schedule can be like Round-Up sprayed directly onto a bed of tulip bulbs. Despite their potential, the tulips die off because of the hostile environment created around them.

This is such a rich and exciting time if we look closely. Spring is coming, and that can absolutely be true for your career as well – it can mean more growth, exciting change, or healthier beginnings.

Where is there room to make more space for Spring’s potential today? 

What feels toxic or heavy to you at work? What can you do to either manage it differently or move it out of your environment?

Where do you feel overwhelmed? Can you cancel, reschedule, or renegotiate to create more time and space for yourself?

Pretend it’s time for Spring cleaning in your career. What needs to go, what can stay, and how can you create more space for what’s to come?

Like I said, I’m always surprised by Spring, but that doesn’t mean I have to wait until it’s here to prepare for what could show up.

We don’t have to know what’s brewing beneath the surface in our worklives.

All we have to do is trust that something is there, warming and growing, and then make room for its beautiful, inevitable bloom.


Know someone who could use a reminder that Spring is coming? Pass this post along and share the love!

4 Easy Ways to Discharge Workplace Stress

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

Have you ever watched two dogs fighting with one another who separate, shake it off, and then go about their day as if nothing happened? Or how about one of those National Geographic videos of a herd of wildebeests escaping an attack, slowing down, and resuming their search for grass to eat?

megan leatherman career coach human resources consultant workplace stress
Take a cue from the animal kingdom and shake it off.

Doesn’t it seem like they get over that cheetah attack a little too quickly? That’s because animals – humans included – have instinctual methods of discharging stress and trauma almost immediately after it happens. They literally shake it off.

Before the human species developed its robust thinking mind, we would experience stress or trauma, shake it off, and move on. Now that we have these hyperactive minds at our disposal, when we experience stress, we create a story about it. When our coworker disagrees with us in a meeting, our bodies are sent into a stress response, which instead of just dealing with and shaking off, we turn into a story about our worthiness, our coworker’s intentions, et cetera.

The energy that’s created by a stressful response has to go somewhere. It will either stay in your body and make you sick, get displaced and hit those around you, or, ideally, be intentionally released in a healthy way.

Our workplaces generate a lot of this energy. Many organizations foster feelings of competition, unworthiness, and insecurity, and most of us simply absorb that energy into our own bodies or use it to attack those around us (either accidentally or intentionally).

We’re often completely unaware of how we’re feeling, what those feelings are doing to our bodies, and how we deal with the energy behind those emotions. We’re all walking around with the stories that we use to explain the presence of this tense energy, which don’t actually help us release it.

Our workplaces would change dramatically if we simply learned how to be better stewards of this energy.

We have a choice in how we react to our environments, and taking notes from the animal kingdom seems like a great place to start. Our natural response to stress is to discharge it quickly and without attachment.

While many of us are used to creating a story around the stress (e.g., “Jane disrespected me and is a bad person,” or “Larry isn’t talking to me anymore because I’m incompetent”), we can change that behavior and choose a different method instead. We can hit “pause” on the story and discharge the stress so that it doesn’t become toxic in our bodies or to those around us.

megan leatherman career coach human resources consultant workplace stressI should note that hitting “pause” doesn’t mean that you don’t deal with the external situation or simply walk away after someone causes you harm. It does mean, however, that the impact from that event is contained and released so that you can think clearly about the right action(s) to take in response. This way, your response can come from a place of ease and detachment instead of insecurity and threat.

Below are some quick, easy ways to discharge stress that comes up in your workday (or any day, really). Animals shake off stress multiple times a day, and you should feel free to do the same if you need to!

No matter what you do next, start by getting present with the stressful feelings. You can’t discharge stress if you don’t know that it’s happening. Notice it and just accept that it’s happening inside your body. Notice how it feels and where in your body it’s showing up. Your jaw, neck, or shoulders might be tight. You might feel like you have a knot in your gut or chest.

Once you’ve noticed it, you can try the tricks below or any that you come up with on your own. The most important thing is to process the energy through movement of some kind, and to do it as soon after the experience as you can.

  1. Literally shake it off. Close your office door or the bathroom stall and imagine all of that ickiness coming off of you as you shake your arms, torso, legs, hands, feet, head, etc. You could also do this by dancing in the privacy of your own home (or in public!) to a song that you love.
  2. Flick it off. If you can’t writhe your entire body, flick the negative energy off with your hands. If you’re in a meeting that’s totally stressing you out, you could get present with the stress, imagine it flowing like water down your arms, and then flick it off onto the floor.
  3. Wash your hands. Water is a great reminder to release and let go of stressors. If you just had a stressful experience with a supervisor or co-worker, you can head to the bathroom to wash your hands and just imagine all of that sticky energy spiraling down into the drain. Maybe you even dry your hands by shaking the water off.
  4. Breathing exercise. On an in breath, get present with the stress that you’re feeling. Envision the frustration, fear, or anger in your body expanding in your lungs. On the out breath, release all of it out into the ether. Feel it leaving your body and stretch and expand as it does. Try this 1 – 3 times. Imagine peace, presence, and calm taking the place of the stress that was originally there.

If these techniques seem totally weird to you, that’s okay. We’ve been disconnected from our instinctual natures for a long time, and reconnecting with our bodies can feel really foreign and silly.

That said, most new habits feel inauthentic at first, so I hope you’ll at least give this a try and see if it starts to feel normal again. It might even help to tell your partner or a friend about it and see if they’re open to trying it with you. Chris (my sweetie) and I have used the shaking technique from time to time, and it completely shifts the energy of the situation. We feel stupid when doing it, but it always works, and we feel better afterward.

I hope that if nothing else, you feel encouraged to release some stress in a healthy way today. Maybe you flick some negativity off before pouring that glass of wine after work. Or maybe you release some energy through washing your hands before you reach for that cigarette.

Whatever you can do, wherever you’re starting, is just perfect.


Know someone who needs to shake it off? Consider passing this post along to them.

 

What Does it Mean to be Wild at Work?

I use the word “wild” a lot in my worklife. I use the word in many of my offerings to folks, and it’s one way that I want to feel on a daily basis, no matter what I’m doing.

The word “wild” can conjure up all sorts of images, from unruly teenagers to rock stars, which isn’t exactly the point I’m trying to make by using it. To me, “wild” resonates because it’s about something much deeper within us.

Something we may have forgotten about consciously but that never went away.

To be wild is to live in harmony with our true nature.

megan leatherman career coaching human resources consultant wild new work

It’s about instinct, and intuition, and a sense of connectedness that most of us don’t experience on a regular basis.

I often wonder if there’s room for our wild selves at work. In most organizations – and this is even true for entrepreneurs like me – there are layers and layers of unspoken rules about what’s acceptable and what’s not.

From where I sit, I see a bourgeoning desire among professionals to reconnect with the natural world, which of course includes their own internal wildernesses. This is a beautiful thing. It means that more freedom, authenticity, and truth are at hand.

So, what does it mean to be wild at work?

If being wild is about being our true selves, then I see it showing up in four major ways:

First, as a deeper connectedness to our bodies.

Up until two or three years ago, I couldn’t have told you what my body might think about the stress I was in at work. I assumed bodies were for using – my body got me to work, it typed things, and it was a real annoyance every time it needed to eat or sleep. I was separated from my body, which is a real shame given the fact that it was sending me blaring alarm signals that I could have listened to.

Other animals can’t separate from their bodies like we do. Our minds give us the ability, for better or worse, to override what our bodies are telling us about a situation.

To be wild at work means that we partner with our bodies instead of hating them for placing limitations on us. We express gratitude for the fact that we’re here on this earth in this way and honor that by taking good care of the skin we’re in. To be wild at work might mean sleeping more, taking regular breaks every 90 minutes at work, or choosing foods that support the body.

Second, to be wild at work is to be connected to the Earth. 

megan leatherman career coaching human resources consultant wild new workCan you imagine putting a bunch of bears in a climate-controlled office environment with fluorescent lighting on them all day? Let’s say they’re there for months, and even years, day in and day out. How would that change them?

I don’t think anyone would argue that bears should be in that kind of environment all day for years at a time, but a lot of us assume that it’s fine for humans.

The truth is, being in an environment where we’re shut off from Nature is detrimental to us, too.

To be wild at work is to cultivate a connection to the Earth in some way, even if you do have to sit in a poorly lit cubicle 40+ hours/week. Maybe your instinctual nature will be nourished enough by going on hikes over the weekends, or tending to a plant on your desk, or looking at cute animal pictures on your lunch break.

Third, it’s about reconnecting to our intuition.

When I think about having to survive in the wild on my own, I just shrug my shoulders and assume I’d be dead in a matter of days. Martha Beck talks a lot in her book Finding Your Way in a Wild New World about the amazing abilities of modern-day trackers. These are people who track wild animals using skills that most of us in the “real world” have totally lost touch with.

There is so much mystery and truth right underneath our rationale-loving noses, and if we can reconnect with our intuition, it will guide us. We can learn to track our own desires again.

To be wild at work is to know and trust your own internal GPS even though there’s external pressure to be logical and justify your actions. You’ll know when it’s your intuition because it will feel clear and free, as if you just know where to find the water and food you need.

megan leatherman career coaching human resources consultant wild new workFinally, to be wild at work is to be connected to one another.

Before we could all go to the grocery store, rent apartments of our own, and be entertained by little screens, we existed in tribes of around 100 people. We were embedded. The concept of “loneliness” may not have even existed.

Some wild animals are solitary beings, but not us. To be disconnected – at work or in any area of our lives – is physically painful to us. More and more research is demonstrating the harmful health outcomes that come along with living in isolation, and work is one of the most common places where people feel alone.

If we really let our natural, true selves out of the “civilized” prison we’ve constructed around us, we can connect more deeply with one another. At work, this requires us to be authentic and loving – to assume the best in our colleagues even when we feel like they’re getting in our way somehow.

You know what’s the most beautiful part about this concept of being “wild”?

It’s that we’re already there.

We are in bodies, on the earth, with intuition and the ability to connect with each other.

We are wild, despite our civilization and occasional disconnection from ourselves.

All we have to do is reclaim what feels natural to us.

megan leatherman career coach and human resources consultant winter solstice new year's resolutionsIf this topic feels wild or natural or energizing to you, then you might be interested in a free webinar I’m doing next Wednesday, 1/11/17, at 10am PST.

It’s called How to Work in a Wild New Way, and we’ll be digging deeper into this topic.

How to Know If You Need a Professional Tune-Up

In just a couple of weeks, my friend Claire and I are starting a series of “professional support groups” called Realigning Your Professional Self. We wanted to put this together for a couple of key reasons:

First, there are not enough spaces where professionals can vent, gain perspective, or just be seen and heard. Work is hard, y’all, and without a safe place to process what goes on there, we can get burnt out, resentful, and lost.

career work personal development
Photo via Pexels

Second, not everyone needs a major career overhaul. Sometimes we just need small tune-ups along the way, as if we’re getting a regular “Career Oil Change.”

It can be tough to know if we really need something to be different in our career or if something else is at play in another area of our lives. If you’re feeling relatively healthy and stable in your body, your relationships, and your finances, it’s much easier to pinpoint a work-related issue.

Even if you’re not feeling stable in those areas, however, there are still a few sure signs that a tune-up would be useful:

  • You constantly feel overwhelmed and mentally “flooded” at work
  • You get a pit in your stomach when you walk through the office door or even think about going to work
  • You find yourself getting anxious, angry, or sad at the end of your weekends
  • You’re exhibiting physical symptoms that weren’t there previously, like a racing heart, excessive sweating, headaches, etc.

Other less urgent signals might be things like boredom, feeling drained at the end of each day, or just sensing a tug toward something new.

None of these signs mean you’re bad or that you’ve done something wrong, they’re simply your intuition trying to send you a message.

You probably need a little professional realignment, and knowing what kind of tune-up you need is immensely helpful.

When we’re in that space of sensing that something’s not quite right, we can ask two powerful questions that are posited by Chris Guillebeau in his fun and accessible book, Born For This: How to Find the Work You Were Meant to Do.

The first question to ask ourselves is: Is it working?

Is the work you’re doing actually working, as in: Is it bringing in enough money for you? Are you able to produce quality work? Is what you’re creating resonating with the people it’s meant to resonate with? Basically, is your career functional?

career work personal development
Photo via Mystic Mamma

The second question is: Do you still enjoy it?

You might be getting promotions left and right, but do you hate the work? That’s a red flag. In order to create a career that’s energizing, meaningful, and a reflection of your unique giftedness, it’s critical that you actually enjoy the day to day work.

Try to determine whether you enjoy the work itself or the fruit of the work, like praise from others, the “status” it gives you, industry accolades, etc. While all of those things might be fun results, if you don’t feel a connection to the work itself, you may not be operating in alignment with your strengths, which can eventually feel really draining.

If your answer to both of those questions is “yes,” then you’re probably in the right spot professionally, which is great!

If you answered “no” to one of them, then maybe it’s time to make a career pivot or switch some things up in your current environment. This might mean that you need to take on more responsibility at work, foster more connection with your peers, or commit to doing less each day. Your first step if you answered “no” to just one of them will be to try and optimize the aspects of where you are right now.

If you answered “no” to both of them, then something bigger needs to shift so that you can be expressing your gifts in a way that’s more fulfilling and in a way that actually works. If you’re in this bucket, there are a lot of amazing resources available to you, whether it’s a book like Born for This, a career coach you connect with, or (the most amazing resource) your own intuition.

A very important point: going through this exercise will only be helpful if we can be completely honest with ourselves as we answer those two questions.

If there’s any part of you that hesitates to admit that things aren’t working, or that tries to convince yourself that you do still enjoy it when deep down you know you don’t, notice it.

It can be really hard to admit to ourselves that something we’ve worked at for so long just isn’t fitting for us anymore. I’ve been in that place, and I can tell you how uncomfortable it is.

This summer, I reached a breaking point in my own worklife where I knew that the answer to that first question, “Is it working?” was a “No.” My work didn’t seem to be resonating with my community, the money wasn’t flowing like I needed it to, and things were just totally stagnant.

career work personal development
Photo via Pexels

It took a while to accept this reality, but finally I broke down to a mentor and, in-between tears, I admitted that things were broken.

Just saying those words was incredibly freeing. It didn’t mean I knew how to fix things, but I was putting so much effort toward strategies that were getting me nowhere, and in that moment, I got to reclaim all of that misguided energy.

It felt terrifying to face the shame I felt. I had been subconsciously hiding this secret, that things weren’t working, because I thought that if I admitted it, it meant that I was a failure – that I couldn’t be an entrepreneur, or a coach, or a help to anyone. But that wasn’t true.

It was my own fear of facing what was really going on that was hindering my ability to support myself and others.

As with every other time I’ve spoken the truth to myself, I felt free.

I could rest. I could cry and admit that things really sucked. I let myself feel some self-pity, I declared that I wanted things to be different, and then something really lovely happened: the clarity I needed came to me and I’ve had the best three months I’ve ever had in my business.

I say all this because while Guillebeau’s questions are elegantly simple, our egos can over-complicate things in order to try to protect us from the truth.

The truth will feel clear and expansive to you. Even though I didn’t like the fact that I had to answer “No” to that first question, it was so lucid that it felt like an immense relief to accept it.

We have to be honest with ourselves if we’re going to find our way.

If you’re seeing the signs that something isn’t working for you anymore, it can be an amazing opportunity to practice authenticity. You can choose freedom and answer those questions in a way that resonates deeply with you – the way that only the truth can.

What Nature Can Teach Us About New Year’s Resolutions

On December 21st, we passed through Winter Solstice – that gate that comes once a year to remind us that we’re returning to longer days and more light. Between now and the Summer Solstice in June, the light will slowly, almost imperceptibly, return.

megan leatherman career coach and human resources consultant winter solstice new year's resolutions
Photo via Unsplash

I love two things about the Solstice:

  1. It always comes, twice a year, without any interference from humans. It’s a sure thing, and a good reminder that we don’t have to force change – the Earth shifts and moves in its own perfect time.
  2. It’s a slow change. Instead of everything changing in a jarring instant, it happens in increments that add up over time, until before we know it, we’re out playing in the daylight until 9:00 at night. It’s smooth and artful.

 

Contrast this with the pushy, neon energy of New Year’s Eve.

I think it’s sweet that people want to celebrate bringing in the New Year, but the whole champagne-popping, bright lights-flashing, party-hat scene has never jived with me.

Not only does the celebration itself feel empty, but the amount of “New Year, New You” marketing emails and advertisements that come at us this time of year feels pretty overwhelming.

The intent behind all of these emails and programs isn’t negative – there really is something to the idea of starting a new year that’s invigorating. But the urgency associated with them is so unnatural.

It’s healthy to seek change and create goals that come from our depths and really support our dreams. That said, too often we’re pushed into creating rigid programs for ourselves that rarely end up producing the benefits we were seeking.

megan leatherman career coach and human resources consultant winter solstice new year's resolutions
Photo via Unsplash

We enroll ourselves in “Boot Camp” or commit to “Whipping ourselves into shape,” believing that the new year is a time to fit into stuffy boxes of personal change.

If there’s something your heart really wants to be different in 2017, I think that’s beautiful.

But instead of creating an Excel spreadsheet outlining the steps toward change or signing up for a program that treats you like something bad that needs to be “fixed,” I’d encourage you to take a different approach.

Keep it simple and give it space to grow.

The Solstice comes twice a year without our having to will it. The light waxes and wanes, the waves ebb and flow, and the flora and fauna thrive when it’s time.

We can take notes from the natural world around us and follow a similar arc in the journey of our souls.

I’ll give you an example that I think illustrates the benefits of this approach.

I was working with a client we’ll call “Jo,” who was feeling really desperate to have a new career in 2017. She created to-do lists, she set ambitious goals, and she gave herself a firm deadline to go by.

And yet, every week, making time to focus on her career changes would get pushed aside. I’d check in with her about her progress, and she’d feel down and frustrated that she couldn’t get to the things she wanted to, but she remained committed to her deadline.

So there was tension: not much was happening in the present moment, which made her feel bad, but she didn’t want to abandon the rigid structures and timelines she had set up for herself.

It was a recipe for failure, and she was feeling like shit along the way.

megan leatherman career coach and human resources consultant winter solstice new year's resolutions
Photo via Unsplash

So, through some honest reflection and re-configuring, we came up with a new approach: ditch the lists and the deadline, and put that energy toward one hour of career nurturing per week.

One hour in which she was giving her dream of a new career the space to grow, without the pressure to check everything off or figure it out by a certain date.

When we break out of rigid systems that aren’t working for us, there’s tremendous freedom and creativity released.

And that happened for Jo.

Sure enough, she actually started creating the dream she’d envisioned. She looked forward to that hour every week. She was playful with it and found that it created the momentum she needed in order to do the hard work of transitioning into something new.

Making the changes we want in the new year can be a natural, fun, and enlivening process.

We may feel the pressure to set deadlines and whip ourselves into action, but oftentimes that just paralyzes us in a space of inaction and shame because we’re “not doing enough.”

megan leatherman career coach and human resources consultant winter solstice new year's resolutionsI want to support thoughtful professionals make the changes they seek in healthier, more sustainable ways.

On January 11th, I’m offering a free webinar called How to Work in a Wild New Way, and it has nothing to do with pushing you to make resolutions or commitments that don’t align with who you really are. It has everything to do with making work fit for you naturally, in your own perfect time, and I’d love to have you join us.

Click here to learn more and sign up.

3 Things You Need If You’re An Airplant

At the end of A Wild New Work, we do a closing ceremony where each person is asked to bring in a gift (real or symbolic) that they’d like to leave the group with. In our ceremony this past November, one of the participants very sweetly brought me an airplant, which is one of my favorite kinds of plants.

megan leatherman career coach and human resources consultant
Some of my airplants drying out after their bath.

Airplants, formally known as Tillandsia, are native to South/Central America, the southern United States, and the West Indies. They’re these adorable little things that can attach to other creatures (you’ll see them growing on trees in the wild), but many of them don’t require any soil.

Some of them will shoot roots, but they’re unlike other plants in that they don’t require an underground support system.

In my work, I talk a lot about how important it is to be grounded (rooted), because without being grounded, it’s easy to lose a sense of who we are amidst the chaos of life. Rooting into what is meaningful for you, whether it’s through a daily spiritual practice, going for a walk outside, or simply living in integrity, is essential for us humans to live well.

But sometimes we’re so taken out of our elements, either by a crisis or a major change like moving or getting a new job, that it feels like we lose our rootedness for a minute.

This is the limbo stage we get put into when we enter into a new phase of our lives, and it can be really uncomfortable.

This topic feels very personal to me right now, as I’m about to enter into the completely unknown territory of motherhood. Maybe for you, the territory is a reconnection to your true identity, a new relationship, or an unfamiliar town that you’ve just moved to.

I think airplants have something to teach us about this place of limbo – this feeling like everything is unfamiliar, or like we can’t make sense of things like we used to. Eventually we’ll get rooted again (hopefully in a rich, healthy soil), but if we take a few cues from our airplant friends, it’s possible to get through this in-between stage with grace.

The three most important things that airplants need in order to survive are light, water, and air. Let’s take a look at how each of these can help us in these times of transition (bonus: this can be a mini airplant care tutorial if you need one!):

megan leatherman career coach and human resources consultantLight

Airplants need to be no more than three feet away from a brightly-lit window. They love the light.

The light warms us, helps us see clearly, and bestows invisible vitamins on us without our having to do anything. It’s a gift.

When we’re in this place of feeling like we’ve lost our groundedness, we can seek the light. What is it in our lives that makes us feel warm? Can we get closer to it in this time? And how about seeing clearly? What can we do to have more clarity? Maybe it’s journaling, asking ourselves if we really believe something to be true, or talking to a supportive person in our lives.

Sit in the light of what feels like truth to you and you’ll get all the warmth, clarity, and nutritious vitamins that you need in this time. For me, this light has been the work of Byron Katie and her book Loving What Is, which I highly recommend.

Water

Most airplants need a bath 1-3 times per week for about 20 minutes each time. This enables them to really soak up resources and stay hydrated.

When was the last time you felt totally submerged, in a good way?

Think back to a time when your cup felt really full or like you had a lot in your emotional/energetic tank. Can you feel that fullness in your body?

A few weeks ago, I scheduled a prenatal massage because when you’re pregnant, your body has no idea what the fuck is happening and starts to decompose. Or at least that’s what it can feel like. On my way to the massage that I was so looking forward to, it was raining, I had Lykke Li playing, and my heart was so full. I hadn’t even gotten to the massage yet, but that simple act of showing up for myself and what my body needed made me feel submerged in goodness.

We all need to bathe regularly, and not just literally – we need to feel submerged into whatever it is that fills us up, whether it’s a massage, lighting a candle, or getting outside. Just because we don’t have roots in this time doesn’t mean that we have to run on empty – just like airplants, we can still store up resources to draw from when we need them.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pkjm_Go-JFk
Air Plant Design Studio

Air

Once the airplants get their mini spa day, it’s really important that they dry out completely within four hours. Putting them in a place that gets good air circulation is critical, or else they’ll rot from the inside out (I’ve had this happen, and it’s sad).

Fortunately, when we’re in this place of limbo and newness, there’s already lots of air circulating!

We’re no longer in our stale, stuffy old patterns – we’re breathing in novelty and change. The key is to incorporate plenty of light and water into your life so that all of the freshness around you doesn’t start to feel completely overwhelming.

This sense of limbo won’t last forever. Eventually, we’ll begin to feel grounded again and things will start to feel familiar. Change is a wonderful thing most of the time, but it can cause some real discomfort when we’re in the midst of it.

If you’re in unfamiliar territory, don’t panic: that sense of groundedness will be back soon.

In the meantime, focus on the light, water, and air that are always available to support you.

How to Ignite Change in Others

megan leatherman career coach and human resources consultantWe all need an extra dose of support at various stages in our lives, and in a society without strong social connections or elder-apprentice relationships in place, we often have to “outsource” that supporting role to therapists, psychologists, and coaches.

I’m a coach, and while I don’t love labeling what I do in such structured terms, you have to start somewhere. I use the term “Career Coach” to describe my focus on supporting people who want to thrive in their worklives.

It’s easy to recognize a good coach when you see one, but not always easy to describe what makes those coaches different from others who use the same label but just don’t ignite the same thing inside of us.

So, I’ve been doing some research at HR Think Tank, a program I co-lead, and also in my Facebook community. I asked people to describe the attributes of their favorite mentors or coaches, and some themes appeared. Getting this feedback has been so helpful to me in my work, and I wanted to share it with you today so that you can use it either as you coach others, or as you look for someone worthy of coaching you.

The three categories below are the primary ways that good coaches ignite change within people – change that already wants to take place but needs space to come alive.

Three Powerful Ways You Can Ignite Change:

1. They have personal integrity and model authenticity.

Good coaches and mentors walk the walk, and it’s not always pretty. These people will be the ones to speak the truth in a room full of liars, they’ll be working on their own development and well-being, and when you meet them, you’ll know that what you see is what you get.

They make you feel at ease because you know this person will do the right thing, be open with you, and give you the space to show up completely and fully as yourself.

2. They’re appropriately vulnerable. 

Being vulnerable is part of being authentic, but it’s so important that I’m pulling it out to stand on its own. A good coach gives you the freedom to try things, make mistakes, and ask “stupid” questions. They do this because they’re open with you about the mistakes they’ve made in the past and even about the things they struggle with currently.

They know the line between showing vulnerability to support your growth and vulnerability to receive inappropriate validation or affirmation. A good coach ignites change in us because they show us where they’ve been stuck in the past and how they got through it. That requires having enough courage to be vulnerable and shed the need to be “the expert” in the room.

megan leatherman career coach and human resources consultant3. They’re genuinely curious about you. 

I met with a coach a while ago who is pretty well-known in my community and who I believe really cares about the work she does. That said, I felt like shit after meeting with her, and you know why? It was because she launched into coaching me before she even really knew anything about me.

It doesn’t feel good to get advice from someone who doesn’t take the time to understand us first, and a good coach takes the time. A good coach uses whatever tools she has to draw you out, learn how you see the world, and figure out what you – soulful you – wants to be and do in the world.

Here are a few things missing from the list of feedback I received: credentials, the number of hours a coach has practiced, the degrees they hold, the rate that they charge, their age, their job title…I could go on.

What matters to the people who gave me this feedback, and what matters to me, is the connection that a coach can create. That connection, when it includes the three big attributes above, is what sparks change in us.

Hearing from folks as part of this mini research project has made me even more motivated to be this kind of coach.

If you coach others as part of your work as a manager, mentor, or even as their peer, I hope you’ll focus on these attributes as well and release those stories that tell us we’re not “good enough” to help others.

megan leatherman career coach and human resources consultantIf you need some support in your career right now and something in this post resonated with you, I’d love to talk more.

After November, I won’t be taking on any additional 12-week coaching clients until May 2017, so this is the right time to reach out if you think you could use some help getting to the next stage in your worklife.

Click here to learn more about how to work with me.

5 Ways to Be a Grown-Up When Shit Hits the Fan

The week before A Wild New Work started, a lot of weird, gnarly, frustrating things happened. People from my past showed up, clients were having emergencies and cancelling, I broke out in a rash…I could go on.

megan leatherman career coach and human resources consultantIt was an abnormally difficult week, and it literally felt like someone had thrown poo into a fan and it was shooting out over every aspect of my life.

I believe in energy, which means that I believe our actions have consequences – often unintended ones. I don’t believe all of the things coming up that week were “my fault,” but I’ve noticed that interesting things always happen before I start a big, important thing in my life.

With A Wild New Work, I was staking a claim and starting a group workshop that I knew I had to do. That’s powerful stuff, and I think it reverberated in good ways and uncomfortable ways – hence, shit + fan.

It’s hard to be a grown-up when things keep coming up that just feel so frustrating, overwhelming, and uncontrollable. It’s much easier to revert back to our childhood and wail on the floor about how unfair it all is, even though that doesn’t help us in any way.

Something had my back that week, though, because I kept coming across books and articles by grown-ass people who showed me how to be like them amidst what felt like total chaos.

I tried their methods, and I’m happy to report that this was my most graceful handling of a horrible week so far.

So I want to share the five major tools that people like Glennon Doyle Melton, Elizabeth Gilbert, and Steven Pressfield taught me about how to be an enlightened adult when things get rough:

First, you need to accept what’s happening. Things get much, much harder if you’re fighting the fact that someone is throwing shit through the fan. They just are, and it’s not always something you can turn off. So here you are, crying on the bathroom floor, or screaming at the person who cut you off on the freeway, and you just have to be there for a minute. No one deserves a happy, easy life all of the time, and you can get through this as long as you accept what’s going on and intend to see it through with grace.

You get to decide how you respond to the things showing up in your life right now.

megan leatherman career coach and human resources consultantSecond, you need to take care of your body. This will not get better if you’re exhausted, hungry, or in a ton of pain because you haven’t moved your body in 48 hours. Now is the time to take an extra 30 minutes to do a yoga video at home, drink lots of water, go for a walk, or get some fancy healthy food in your stomach. You’ll be able to think and feel much more clearly.

Third, rally support. It’s not helpful to go into a long, circuitous tirade about how unfair everything in life is, but it is helpful to ask for help from the people who love you. Tell them what’s going on. Ask them to light a candle for you. Take a sick day and let your co-worker cover. Ask for what you need like a grown-up and, if it feels right, humbly accept the help that’s offered.

Fourth, stay still. Don’t make any sudden movements. No major decisions should be made in crisis mode unless a decision is what’s needed to get you out of it. In my experience recently, there was nothing that needed to change that week, even though I wanted to overreact to the difficulties and completely switch up what I’m doing in life. But that wasn’t the time, because those changes would have been reactive and made just because I was uncomfortable.

Stay still and get quiet. Watch what’s happening, journal like hell, and hold your heart.

Finally, practice gratitude like it’s nobody’s business. Gratitude snaps you out of temper tantrum mode and gets you grounded again. You don’t have to be grateful for everything, and it’s really important that expressing gratitude feels authentic to you, even if it’s hard at first. You can be grateful for your next breath, or the water you’re drinking, or the fact that you have heat in your home. Find the things to be grateful for – they’re there even when it feels like everything is falling apart.

Sometimes chaos enters our life to show us what really matters again. It’s uncomfortable and wildly inconvenient, but we always have the ability to choose how we will respond to its presence.

People who have their shit together inside when the world around them is in upheaval are the ones who will learn, adapt, and transform through the chaos.

We can all be those grown-ass people if we stay grounded, healthy, accepting of support, still, and grateful.

How Connection Can Transform Your Work

If I could do my last corporate job over again, I would focus so much more on building human connection with the people I worked with.

For lots of reasons, at that point in my life I just couldn’t connect with folks at a very authentic level – mostly because I didn’t know myself anymore.

megan leatherman career coach and human resources consultantBut if I could go back in time as who I am now, that’s what I would do: ditch the pressure to be “professional,” show up as my real self, and see people for who they really were. I would be honest with them about how I was doing, I would laugh a lot more, and I would ask the deeper questions that I wanted to speak but kept inside because it felt safer.

Every human being is desperate for connection with other human beings.

In today’s disconnected (or “misconnected”) world, many of us feel unseen, unheard, and unknown. Without being seen, heard, or known, we feel empty and lost, grasping for a sense of context in which to put ourselves.

For many of us in the United States, we’re especially disconnected, because unless we’re part of the Native American heritage, this land isn’t even where we come from. Sure, you might have been born here, but it wasn’t that long ago that your lineage was deeply rooted in another land, a place where your people may have been for centuries, cultivating knowing and community with the Earth and each other.

So here we are, today, on land we don’t know, surrounded by strangers, each trying to find our own small tribe in which to make sense of things.

This sense of disconnection follows us and pervades our workplaces, and people are growing weary of it.

Without community elsewhere, many people are looking to their organizations or teams for that sense of camaraderie, understanding, and being seen. It’s why things like “culture,””the coaching mindset,” and “employee engagement” have become such popular topics.

These days, my work is focused almost entirely on connection, because without it, the people I serve won’t feel supported enough to look at the deep, dark questions that brought them to me in the first place.

They won’t feel comfortable crying, or yelling, or wrestling with the fact that birthing their gifts and creating a worklife they love is hard fucking work.

So we have to connect.

megan leatherman career coach and human resources consultantThey have to feel seen, and heard, and understood. They have to see me as human, not as an automaton who just takes notes and repeats their words.

Developing deeper connection was pretty uncomfortable for me in the first few months of my coaching practice. That “be professional” mindset was deeply entrenched within me, and in many ways, it still shows up – but only when I need it to.

As I’ve relaxed my need to feel like I’m “doing it right” or being “the expert,” I’ve been able to really see my clients in their fullness as complex human beings, and that allows for such deeper work to happen.

Before I start the 12-week process with a client and for each of the women in A Wild New Work, I do something that always feels pretty scary:

I prepare a gift for them.

I’m not sure why I do this, I just really like it, and I think it builds that connection right from the beginning. And it’s an intimate gift – I choose aromatherapies and stones that I believe support what they really need at a deep level. I meditate and pull a card for them that has a message on it that is very personal. And I tell them all of this, even though I haven’t necessarily met them in person before.

But I do it because I want them to know how strongly I support what they’re about to create, even though it makes me feel really vulnerable.

How would things change if instead of getting a company notebook or ID badge when you started a job, you got a gift from your hiring manager that was about you, as a human, and was designed to support you succeeding in the next phase of your journey?

megan leatherman career coach and human resources consultantWhat if you got a long handwritten card with it that explained how grateful they are for your presence there, and how excited they are to see you grow and contribute your unique strengths to their team?

When we connect in a “high touch, low tech” way, which is more and more what people are demanding in today’s economy, we transform ourselves and the other person that we’re reaching out to.

It shifts things.

It makes them more real, and colorful, and it enables us to do the hard work that we’ve set out to do.

There are always opportunities for connection, no matter what you do for work. You can get someone a coffee, be honest about how your weekend really was, or be fully present with your co-worker as she tells you her father passed away.

Connecting requires us to be brave, but without it, we’re doomed to numbness, loneliness, and a life without much beauty in it.

Choose connection, always.

What is True?

megan leatherman career coach and human resources consultantI was driving home from the grocery store yesterday, and I was stopped a few cars down from a red light. On the righthand corner ahead of me, there was a man who looked to be in his 30s with a cardboard sign that read “We are people too.”

I liked that, and wholeheartedly agreed with the sentiment. And while he wasn’t openly asking for money, his sign and where he was standing implied that that’s what he was requesting from those of us driving by.

A few seconds later, the light changed to green, and everyone started rolling forward. As I drove by, I noticed he had folded the sign in half so that it read something else:

“Go fuck yourself.”

When I read that, the first thing I felt was surprise.

And then relief.

It was striking. While I’m sure that’s what a lot of people asking for money on the streets want to say after they’ve been ignored, yelled at, or demeaned, I’ve never actually seen a sign with that written on it.

It was refreshing to see someone in real life – someone who was socially and physically vulnerable, no less – say exactly how he felt. “Go fuck yourself.”

How often do you hear or speak the truth at work? How often does a message come in loud and clear from someone’s mouth? Coming from the world of Human Resources, I’ve seen my fair share of spin in the workplace.

“We don’t want to justify paying you more” becomes “Our research shows that this is the appropriate salary range for someone in your position.”

“We have no intention of continuing your contract after three months” becomes “We’d like to see how you do in the role and then talk about the possibility of having you come on permanently.”

“We have no idea where we’re headed and everyone on the leadership team hates each other” becomes “We’re excited about the future and are working hard to find strategic paths forward.”

megan leatherman career coach and human resources consultantImagine a workplace that’s been taken over by huge spiders weaving webs of total befuddlement and confusion. Everyone’s walking around with sticky webs all over their bodies, leaving them tangled, heavy, and nearly blind.

Some people have been around the spinning of the webs for so long that they can hardly recognize the truth anymore – in themselves or in others.

Many of us have our polite, outward-facing selves – the parts of us that hold the sign that gently says “We are people too.” While it’s appropriate to keep good boundaries at work and keep some part of ourselves private, too many of us are walking around as victims and accomplices of the befuddlement spiders.

Have you ever shown someone the side of your sign that says “Go fuck yourself”? What keeps you from turning it over?

And the truth doesn’t have to be angry like that – what keeps you from speaking other truths, like “I love you” or “I’m afraid” or “I don’t believe that’s fair”?

megan leatherman career coach and human resources consultant
Image courtesy of Mystic Mamma

For most of us, it’s fear and shame. But your truth can cut right through all of that, and it can also cut through the webs of confusion and mistrust that are so prevalent in many organizations today.

The day before I saw the man on the street with that sign, I used a tea bag that had a little message on it. It said “Truth is everlasting.”

The truth isn’t going anywhere, and it will come up again and again until we can’t ignore it. Better to let it in with open arms than to continue being wrapped up in the webs that keep us trapped and confused.

What is true? What do you say to yourself before you make it nice and palatable for others?

What’s on the back of your sign, and will you ever show it to us?

 

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?

Even If You’re An Evergreen, You’re Changing, Too

megan leatherman career coach and human resources consultantI realized something the other day as my husband and I were driving out to the Mt. Hood National Forest: deciduous trees get all the glory this time of year. 

Their bright, flashy leaves draw us in and announce to us that Autumn has arrived. Feeling their crunch under our feet or throwing them up in the air over us is a joyful experience, and the leaves are kind of the signature of the season.

But what about the quieter changes taking place?

What about all the other trees, the ones that don’t seem to change much throughout the year?

I always thought that evergreen trees like pine or cedar grew up, dropped some cones and maybe a few needles along the way, and were mostly unchanging throughout time. During our weekend trip in this spectacular forest, I wondered if that was actually true. Nothing is unchanging, right? So what happens inside of these seemingly ever-stable trees during the Fall?

It turns out that evergreen trees go through changes of their own each year, but it’s much more subtle and less “out there” than their fiery deciduous cousins.

Evergreen trees shed old needles every few years, and before those needles drop, they turn yellowish brown. This process is totally natural, but a lot of people mistakenly believe that this change means the tree is sick or dying. Some trees only shed needles on the inside of the branches, making their transformation almost invisible unless you look closely.

In my work with people who want to make a shift in their career, there’s a lot of pressure to make big, sweeping changes – changes that are apparent and obvious to others looking in on their lives. And some people do make those changes, very quickly – one day their leaves are all fiery oranges and reds, and I know they’re ready to make the leap.

Others, however, are like the evergreens. They’re much slower to make changes, and sometimes the change taking place is so deep inside of them that it’s difficult to see. For months and months, it can seem like nothing is really shifting, and then one day, they have a branch full of old brown needles that are ready to drop.

We are each our own kind of tree in this transformational season, and we may even be different kinds of trees throughout our lives.

The past few years of my life have been like that of a sugar maple tree, ablaze in the Autumn and undergoing major changes every year. Other times, however, I’ve felt much more evergreen – as if nothing on the surface was changing until one day, it did.

megan leatherman career coach and human resources consultantTrust the natural changes that want to take place in your life, even if you feel like the leaves aren’t dropping quickly enough.

The leaves on any tree change color and drop from the branches without thinking or being made to – they simply respond to the changing environment around them and go when it’s time.

Your leaves are your thought and behavior patterns, the parts of your past that need to be integrated, and aspects of life like your career, relationships, etc. You’ll know when they’re ready to change color and drop off your branches because your intuition will tell you they are.

You’ll have a sense that something needs to change, that you want more from a part of your life, or you’ll hit rock bottom and be forced to look at a tree full of empty branches and ready for new growth.

This process is much simpler and more graceful when we’ve developed a relationship to our intuition and can sense the shift before we’re faced with a crisis and forced to change.

Have you heard about the concept in Chinese medicine and other ancient belief systems that says that sickness begins in the spirit, or the aura, or whatever word fits for you? The idea is that disease is a manifestation of an illness that began long before we could see it in the physical body. If we can develop a strong relationship with what’s happening in our energy systems, we can sense a disturbance and address it before it makes us really sick.

The same is true for our intuition and the changes our souls want us to make. Sometimes life pushes us to the edge with a crisis that forces us to look at some things we wouldn’t see before. Other times, we’re given the opportunity to sense something that’s not yet “real” and make the change without needing to go through crisis.

Try not to hang on to the leaves that want to turn brown and drop to the ground.

Try to trust that your intuition, or your heart, is at work and able to show you what needs to change and when – even if you feel like a Bosnian pine tree that hasn’t dropped needles in five years.

Intuition is one of the most amazing and accessible tools that I focus on in my work with people, and I’ve seen its ability to transform lives and careers.

megan leatherman a wild new workEveryone has intuition, and some of us need help tapping back into its wisdom from time to time. Intuition will be the focus of an entire day in my upcoming group coaching series for women, A Wild New Work. We’ll spend time exploring how intuition manifests for each of us and look at what it might have to say about our worklives and what we’re here on this earth to do.

If you’re a working woman in Portland who has a sense that some needles or leaves need to drop in order for new growth to come in, I hope you’ll consider joining us starting October 29th. You can learn more at this link.

No matter where you are in the world, I hope you’ll make some extra space for your intuition today, whether it’s by journaling, sitting quietly outside, or just holding your heart and taking a deep breath.

Let the seasonal changes of your soul carry you – they will if you let them.