A year ago, in March, just before lockdown, I had fallen into deep despair about the state of the climate. I had allowed myself to absorb the gravity of the situation and the impact on my children and people all over the world, as well as other species with whom we share the planet. I sat at my kitchen table with my husband, and I wept. That was my moment when I fully took it all in. I grieved for the loss of the planet as we know it and all its implications.
When COVID-19 and lockdown hit us here in the UK (I’m American living in Leeds, Yorkshire, England), I remember thinking, “Ah, this was predicted. Here we go, climate breakdown and social collapse.” In that moment I recognized that I was no longer despairing. I had accepted the worst dystopia. And in that moment, I began to experience life differently. I began to experience a merging of my sense of self with my sense of the world and decided that rather than shut myself off from the pain and suffering, I would live into the fundamental interconnectedness among all living things. I allow myself to experience the deepest pain of the rainforest burning, as if my own limbs were burning. And through this experience of being present to the pain, I am also connected to the living and the joy and the potential expansiveness of being present to a range of emotions.
This won’t surprise some of you who have known me for a long time. My mission for my life and my business has always centered on cultivating that sense of interconnectedness. It has taken quite a lot of reading, podcast /audio-book listening, verbal processing, etc. to understand the transformation I have experienced and give language to it. (Reading list forthcoming).
Today I am grateful in particular to Eric Holthaus, Author of The Future Earth, whose book I heard about on Dan Jones’ podcast, “Climate Scientist”.
In that interview, he put words to this idea that I couldn’t find the words for:
“Listening is the most transformative change that anyone can make. I’m not the point anymore. The point is not what I am going to be doing. It’s going to be trusting relationships to provide for you in this reciprocal way. We are in the middle of a transition from a society that is in transition from individualism to a society that is transitioning to reciprocity and care and mutual aid. It’s important to inhabit that world and show others what that’s like.”
“We need to act with the transcendent love of visionaries…Listening is an extremely important skill right now. The way to have hope is to think that the future is going to be pretty different from where we have come from… Doing nothing is being harmful when you’re being called to change and you do not change….The IPCC report [states that staying within the 1.5 degree threshold] will require transformative change in all aspects of society. Apply that to your own life.”
Let’s live into this world together. Let’s hold each other up as we experience the pain of the world. We will need each other in the years ahead. Let’s practice, let’s get comfortable with the full range of emotions. Let’s be resilient, transformational and world-changing together.
Moving into a new, higher-level position with significant authority for the first time can be intimidating. In our Women Leaders Emerging coaching circles, many of our conversations circle around the feelings we have when stretching into these roles. Some recent coaching conversations we've had include:
1. How are you hoping that this role will advance your career? What is your vision for this role?
2. What are the top priority objectives for your role from the leadership point of view? From your direct supervisor's point of view?
3. What is the one area for which you'd most like to develop credibility and influence?
4. Why did the organization hire you? What were they hoping you would be able to accomplish? What strengths and skills do you have that no one else has?
5. What matters most to the stakeholders involved in your work? What do they need to advance their agendas? What are the key barriers they face? When are their busy times? What's the best way to communicate with them?
6. What do you anticipate your greatest challenges will be?
The common thread in all of these questions is breaking down the hugeness of your developing career identity into manageable areas of focus. You'll be able to start thinking about what's next to focus on rather than being overwhelmed by not having everything in place right now.
What did you discover as a result of answering these questions? We'd love to have you join in on free peer-coaching conversations on our Facebook group, conspiring women. See you over there!
In our Women Leaders Emerging coaching communities for mission-driven women, our members share their experiences and approaches that have worked for them in many areas of their lives and careers. Here are a few tips that members have shared about testing out possible career paths.
1. Find out if your interest in the field is “sticky.” Often people wonder if they’ll sustain an interest in a specific field for a sustained period of time. This can hold you back from pursuing advanced degrees or deepening subject matter expertise professionally and getting pigeon-holed. If you love learning, curating and creating, test out a possible career path by being a catalyst for conversation in the field that you are exploring. You might start a blog, a book group, or start a Facebook or LinkedIn group that you create.
2. If you’re in a large agency or government, pursue a Details are temporary positions that fill a short term-need. Details allow you to gain exposure, build your skillset and test out one of your career theories before giving up your job and making a significant career leap that you’re not sure about. If these kinds of opportunities aren’t available in your work-environment, think about how you might be able to engineer a short-term work arrangement.
3. Shift your career communities. Take a look at the professional associations associated with one of your possible career paths. Are there ways to plug in and get to know the culture of the profession and some of the key issues before you make a big leap in your career? Use meetup.org and LinkedIn groups and connect both on-line and in-person. Check out one day workshops, webinars and minimal-commitment certifications to be in conversation with people in the field you are considering moving into. To take it a step further, position yourself in your target field by hosting a webinar series or in person event in which curate promote relevant thought-leaders!
4. Be your new career for 10 minutes per day. You may have a career aspiration that you can’t fully cultivate right now. Maybe you’re in a good position for your stage of life for some practical reasons and it’s not the right time to transition, for example. This doesn’t need to stop you from gradually taking on a new career identity! If you write your novel for 10 minutes per day, you can start to say to yourself (and others), “I’m a writer.” If you research nutritional science issues for 10 minutes per day, you can start to say to yourself, “I’m a nutritional science researcher.” Small chunks of committed work help you shift how you identify career-wise and, when timing, resources, and mindset are ripe, will create a natural opening for your career transition.
5. Pretend you’re a career anthropologist. Pretend you’re not interested in making a career shift and take on a mindset of being curious about the possible field you’re moving into. What are the norms? Who are the leaders? What is the culture? What are the top concerns and pressing issues? What works well and what dysfunctions do you notice? What are the values that rise to the top? Talk to people without worrying about whether you’d fit in or add value so that you can really By being curious, you’ll have more natural conversations that will create opportunities for meaningful exchange and depth.
We conspire with mission-driven women to lead, succeed and thrive in their careers, lives and organizations.
Individuals: We envision women who are enlivened, empowered and emerged. Our members have clarity of purpose and lead from strengths.
Community: We bring communities of women into the practice of seeing each other's strengths and potential. We envision multiplying communities of women-fueling-women's success and impact.
World: We conspire to unlock the potential energy & contributions of 51% of the human population. When this potential energy, thought power, and talent is unleashed, we will solve even the most difficult problems and transform the world.