Our Spiritually Impoverished Workplaces

Our Spiritually Impoverished Workplaces

When I was a senior in college, my world came crashing down. Over the course of one panic-attack filled weekend, I had what those in the Christian community call "a crisis of faith." For seven years after that weekend, I rejected anything that felt remotely spiritual. I couldn't walk into a church without feeling a knot in my stomach, I felt angry anytime someone used the word "God," and I thought Richard Dawkins was the shit.

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Lessons from the Wild: How to Shed Old Skin

Lessons from the Wild: How to Shed Old Skin

About a week ago, I had a dream that I was being chased through a garden by a snake. It wasn't a large snake, and it didn't have fangs, but I was still terrified and was running like hell to get away from it. Finally, a kind person (I don't know who) caught the snake and, at my request, promptly cut its head off. In the dream, I was relieved that it was dead, but when I woke up, I felt horrible. Why would I kill this sweet little thing that didn't seem to want to hurt me? Maybe it was chasing after me because I needed to stop and actually pay attention to it.

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Are You Digesting Life Properly?

Are You Digesting Life Properly?

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!"

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10 Non-Creepy Ways to Show Love at Work

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!

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Reclaiming What it Means to Be "Professional"

Reclaiming What it Means to Be "Professional"

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.

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What Will You Do to Prepare for Spring?

What Will You Do to Prepare for Spring?

Tomorrow 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.

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4 Easy Ways to Discharge Workplace Stress

4 Easy Ways to Discharge Workplace Stress

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?

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.

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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

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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.

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?

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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?

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.

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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

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

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

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.