2021 has been a year of incredible highs (buying a home, moving, finishing my first book) and lows (losing two friends, multiple health scares) and where I found myself feeling like I was living in the “in between”.
A dance between just enough joy and the uncomfortable mounting feelings of fear.
Last night, I was watching Brene Brown’s Netflix special A Call to Courage again and in there she talked about choosing joy just for the sake of choosing it.
It hit me then: I have diminished my capacity for joy.
Amidst a year of major loss, fear of dying, aging parents, seeing my husband in the ER with severe abdominal pain (he’s totally fine), going to the ER multiple times myself (I’m fine too), and just feeling the compounding empathy I had of witnessing and hearing of other people’s pain and loss I realized then it felt too painful to be joyful. Or I just felt guilty or uncomfortable with joy: something I fought so hard for.
I took it further.
I started rehearsing all the bad things that 2022 could bring around more loss of loved ones, health issues etc., that I stopped believing in or committing to a year of happiness ahead. Rather the year ahead became one where I was just hoping to dodge whatever inevitabilities the year had ahead for me instead of enjoying and EXPECTING good things to come.
The truth is that I had not committed to fully choosing joy in 2022 because I was too afraid of the vulnerability that choosing it would bring.
How could I choose joy amidst so much I could not predict?
How could I handle any more loss and pain?
So it was just easier to not allow myself to go there for fear of the pain it would cause.
But the thing is that by not choosing joy I’m also not choosing myself or living fully- a right I have. I‘m glad I had this aha because I have since committed to joy truly.
In a conversation with a client today, we talked about soulful leaders and how when we stop operating on auto-pilot because we are in a reactive or survival mode, we realize the space and responsibility we have to make conscious choices.
When we are reacting out of fear, out of old programming to avoid shame, disappointment, judgment, ridicule and pain etc.. it can seem like we DON’T have choices. We have to do what we have to do to survive.
And when we start to remove that programming and the external factors in place that perpetuate that, we realize that we do have choice and there is an elevated level of personal responsibility that comes with choice: awareness, accountability and personal responsibility.
After a certain point, we cannot unsee what we see which means we cannot lie down the responsibility that is ours to hold and to forge by discounting it or placing it on others.
The ho-hum of living in a pandemic is daunting, spirit-debilitating and mind boggling – no doubt.
But even a pandemic does not take away our ability to make self-aware choices of what is best for us and our businesses.
1. We still get to have choice around not betraying ourselves.
2. We still get to choose how to tender to our dreams.
3. We still get to choose how we treat those in our world and how we are treated in return.
This is self-leadership.
This is leadership that changes worlds and that changes OUR world first and foremost.
As I start reflecting on 2021 I realize the stories that held me back.
The story of shame.
The story of not belonging.
The story of loss and the unimaginable pain it would cause.
The story of not having what it takes to shatter my inner glass ceilings of authenticity, vulnerability and courage.
Amidst these stories, I also realize where I still want to grow:
1) Forgiveness hasn’t been easy for me.
I realized I still hold onto grudges. I’m still unpacking that.
I received a gift in that regard a couple of months ago when I felt deeply judged by a colleague who wanted me to do something she thought was right and I took it as a manipulation and a boundary crossing. I felt really judged.
That judgement made me look at where I am judging others and holding onto grudges and not forgiving other people and the pain that that causes.
If we are to change the world and to invite people to look at a different perspective, what I know for sure is that judging them or making them feel judged is no way to influence a positive or sincere response.
2) I realized that for shame to not control me, I had to look at the lies I still tell myself about my worth and worthiness and my level of comparison to others further ahead in the entrepreneurial journey.
The truth is that in the ten years I have been a coach, I have never crossed the six-figure mark and it has utterly haunted me.
It’s not just for the badge of honour that it holds in our industry and the milestone it would be (so long as I keep most of that money LOL), it’s for how I have let that hold me back.
Although no client of mine has ever asked me how much I make a year, and I have helped several multi-six and seven-figure business owners, it has made me feel less than, broken and in the shadows.
I have been at an income ceiling for years and it’s felt maddening.
I have been actively working on this for myself and sharing this with you – bringing my own shame into the light, while cathartic, is my way of diminishing that shame for myself so that I don’t let it own me as much as it has.
Yes – I have very big aspirations and goals for myself and meanwhile, my income doesn’t impact my ability to really help the right people that see me as the person to help them. And it’s something I have to keep reminding myself of often.
3) Defining success based on external markers (no more).
For so long I’ve judge myself by societal standards that dictate success.
For over thirty years, I felt less than whenever I was thirty pounds over my healthy weight level. I’ve probably lost and gained those thirty pounds at least a dozen times. The roller coaster was total insanity until I found peace and partnership with my body and did deep work with a coach who helped me get comfortable feeling my feelings. I am now at a stable weight as a result of my partnership and reverence with my body instead of my disdain of it.
For too long, I felt that being single meant I was unlovable. Until I did deep work to unravel old traumas and to be ok with myself as I am and to also be ok if I never met someone. And not too long after that and when I was truly ready, I met my husband Alex in a Dirty Dancing workshop in San Diego.
For my decade in entrepreneurship, I had to prove my worth through external accolades and especially my income. Not reaching it has been a huge trigger of imposter syndrome and that I didn’t know what I was talking about or what I was doing (thankfully my clients think differently).
But it wasn’t until I did the inner work to decipher what my definition was of success and peace within myself in each of these areas was that things really turned around for me.
I had to do that with my definition of what being a leader means to me as well. It happened amidst the birth of the Soulfluent® Leadership Archetypes work that I had channeled. I had no idea what this work was about and was truly mortified to share about it with the world. I felt utterly exposed and like a naive Polyana telling the world to lead from their souls when I had no idea how to explain it to them.
Today as I client asked me the same question: “What kind of leader do I need to be for my staff and my vision?”I told her that it’s a natural right of passage for soul-led leadership to ask this question.
And that truly soul-led leaders source their answers from within.
That it is a deeply personal and intimate exploration that requires:
- an excavation of the Truth for you and
- a deep detox of old “shoulds”, “musts” and stereotypes of what leadership ought to be.
Defining our path isn’t easy.
It’s vulnerable because it’s unchartered, uncertain and undefined until you define it for yourself.
It takes courage and a few glasses of wine and chocolate truffles.
My wish for you for 2022:
As you step into 2022 my deepest soul desire is that you define leadership on your own terms for your life and business and that you know that your worth is not defined by external markers but by YOU.
My wish is that you are brave to ask yourself what really matters to you no matter how big or small.
Size is irrelevant when it comes to dreams.
Resonance is what matters and timeliness.
I read a Facebook friend say that in 2022 success is driving her son to the dentist. First because she doesn’t know how to drive and secondly because her son doesn’t like to go to the dentist.
Let’s unplug from the notion of what we “think” success looks like and really dig into what nourishment, pleasure, satisfaction, curiosity, expansion, connection, possibility, fun, vulnerability and play can look like instead.
As you step into 2022, here are some questions to help you define success and leadership on your own terms:
- What stories have you been telling yourself that you are really ready to stop running your life?
- What chances are you willing to take to contribute to others and to expand your life>
- What dreams are you willing to fulfill on and to believe in amidst all the odds?
- What hurts are you willing to forgive so you can be lighter and freer?
- What vulnerabilities are you willing to expose yourself to for the possibility of greater reward, freedom and connection?
- What courage are you willing to presence yourself to for what you truly believe in?
- Where are you willing to show compassion and empathy despite a knee-jerk desire to react versus to consciously respond?
- What are you willing to learn or unlearn that will make life more joyful?
And finally, what commitment are you willing to make that will make your life more joyful? More filled with ease? Your business more profitable? More awe-inspiring and magnificent TO YOU?
Our ability to feel the FULL spectrum of emotions is what will allow us to live a deeply enriching and full life.
It is my deepest wish that you have the courage to lead bravely and from your soul as you step into each breath, each day and each interaction with yourself and others.
Because leading bravely is both your birth right and greatest reward for a life well-lived in your own terms.
2021 has given me undeniable reverence for each breath and gratitude and for life. May you treasure yours and those you love now and always starting with yourself.
To your sweet success,