I put a call out on facebook this week for topics that blog post readers/viewers would be interested in. This is the beginning of a trend. Consider this your invitation to comment or personal message me with suggestions/ requests for topics that you’d like me to write a blog post about (assuming it’s in the arena of human development, women, leadership, entrepreneurship, life transition – you get the picture).
So here’s the first suggested topic from a blog reader:
“Do we always have to be leaders? When is it okay to take a break/brake along our career path, humbly doing something less than what we are capable of and enjoy a slightly easier life once in awhile?”
OK, so the first thing I hear is that “leader” means bigger, better, faster, more (or something like this) to most of us. Am I right? I don’t mean our conscious definition of leader if we stopped and reflected necessarily, I mean the unconscious associations we have when we don’t think about it too much. Because that’s probably our model “in use.” So of course when the expectation is that we just have to get better all the time, we get tired. We want to get off the merry go round. We have developmental exhaustion. There’s a sense from the question that being a leader is – by nature- heavy and difficult. If there’s a need for a break or full-on BRAKE – it insinuates the gas peddle is getting pushed HARD for too LONG up until that point.
I used to be so hard on myself, the only place I could escape was to the realm of the unconscious – where I could engage in unhelpful behaviors (binge watching TV is a classic one) and escape the gaze of my exacting eye (or the gaze I would project onto others as having). This still happens on occasion, and I’m feeling into a new way that doesn’t involve success as striving.
As I spoke about in my video blog Smart Women and Success, my body quite literally wouldn’t let me “pump the gas” and rev my engine anymore for a time when my thyroid stopped working. My thyroid literally forced me to pay attention to things like: getting good sleep, not relying on caffeine for an unnatural sense of being “energized” when I wasn’t because I was pushing too hard, and prioritizing the care of my energy over accomplishment (or, more aptly, prioritizing the care of my energy as a means to accomplishment).
Instead of “breaks,” and putting on the “brake” – which we absolutely also need to do sometimes, I am aiming for leadership that can feel kinder, gentler, and more joyful to inhabit potentially. I’m hoping we can be leaders who aren’t trying to be someone we don’t want to be (because that is tiring and hard). I’m hoping we can give ourselves permission to allow something other than our own impossibly high self-expectations, or internalized sense of what others expect us to be – to hold court and occupy space in our way of being. So we can allow more stillness and softness for ourselves, and hopefully more receptivity for ourselves too: to hear what we need to show up and offer our best.
So maybe instead of developmental exhaustion we go for another kind of leadership development entirely. Not Arianna Huffington’s collapsed cheekbone from falling flat on her face from lack of sleep, but the “hard” work of undoing what makes “work” so very exhausting, un-energizing, and defeating of our birth-right to vibrancy in the first place. When we are working against “type” it’s tiring (and women often are when we are acting not subordinant, not submissive, not indirect, not financially dependent or helpless). Because we’re doing the work of our profession and un-doing internalized patriarchy simultaneously. So of course we’re tired from developing. And so maybe it’s worth it even moreso to develop within ourselves a vast kindness, compassion, and benevolence for ourselves. So that we don’t so desperately want a break, or, in the end, have to BRAKE.
Again, consider this your invitation to comment or message me with suggestions/ requests for topics that you’d like me to write a blog post about in the future. I have not forgotten about your requests/questions Wendi Seskus-James or Rebekah Hart!
And, your request/suggestion/question can of course be anonymous if desired.