Today’s Discomfort …

These last 165 uninterrupted days with my boys have been TRYING to say the least. I’ve been quite miserable and struggled to find inspiration to move forward. More days than not I felt lost and uncomfortable. I lost my shit more times than I can count over things that normally wouldn’t bother me.

It actually served me to feel that anger to get it out, though the aftermath between us was ugly. Once my energy (re)settled, we’d talk about what happened – what was behind my anger, frustration, resentment, annoyance. I’d ask what was behind theirs. We’d share our thoughts and feelings to learn from the experience. Yes, we kept getting angry, but every conversation got us closer to the true root of it all.

That root? Space. It’s vitally important; especially from those we love the most. Going off and having our own adventures allows us to flex the muscles we learn at home. To push boundaries on our capabilities. To learn from those outside our family unit … because some times other people do things more effectively and gaining that exposure is INVALUABLE.

… is Tomorrow’s Strength

So today my boys venture out into a whole new world; not only new grades, but new school procedures, new expectations, new ways of doing life, and I trust they’ve learned a great deal about themselves to prepare them. I venture into a new chapter reinvigorated, refreshed, and renewed having been through some extremely uncomfortable times and learning SO MUCH MORE about myself:

  • Space and time to think are vitally important to my physical and mental well-being
  • Autonomy is solidified as my #2 value. When it’s threatened, I have a REALLY hard time holding it together.
  • Resentment can consume me. I struggle to release its grip until I physically name it aloud and allow myself to really feel it.

When work gets uncomfortable…

Regardless of field, industry, or individual role, we all feel discomfort on the job. That discomfort can be fleeting, or it can linger for 165 days (or longer). You’re angry, frustrated, resentful, annoyed. You want more, but you’re lost and uncomfortable.

Absolutely! Anger, misery, lack of inspiration followed by discomfort because of the unknown are perfectly normal. So take a step back:

  • What’s the root of my painful emotions?
  • Where is the anger, frustration, boredom, discomfort coming from?
  • How have these emotions served me?
  • When did I feel setbacks because of them?
  • What have I learned about myself (that I didn’t know before)?

… Build your strengths

The first step in learning from your experiences is to dive deep into your person. Meaning you’ve got to tour the inner depths of your heart and mind to understand and optimize the thoughts, feelings, and actions that drive you, and transform those that don’t. Self awareness is the single most important factor in building your strengths and determining your ongoing development and success.

On a scale of 1-10, 1 being not at all, 10 being I know myself in and out, how do you rate yourself awareness?

How does that rating compare to where you want it to be? Is there a significant gap?

Looking to reduce discomfort? Find your strengths? Let’s connect. As a coach, I focus specifically on deepening your self awareness and establishing your leadership lifestyle to maximize your comfort and strengths. I’ve got 5 client spots available for breakthrough coaching sessions.

It’s a BIG day…

I sit here bawling my eyes out. Not because of sadness or sorrow, but because of deep love, appreciation, and pride for my 17 yo nephew who just graduated from Army boot camp.

I’ve always had an affinity for those in the Armed Forces. I tear up EVERY TIME I see them in the airport, in the grocery store, or driving in their car in uniform. I go out of my way to say, “Thank you,” and offer a hug if they’re open (pre Covid of course…cuz, ya know, that’s off limits now).

There aren’t enough words in any language to express my support and gratitude for what they do for our country. Now that one of my own is included I’m legitimately speechless.

Lessons Learned

As I watched the live stream I was overcome with emotion, not only for my nephew, but the other 199 graduates who made the decision to give a part of their lives to serve this country. The commencement speaker talked about the Army values, and I couldn’t help but equate them to leadership lessons that apply to all of us.

  • We’re all capable of hard things. True to 21st century technology, his battalion posted a lot of the group’s training on their FB page. I got to see my nephew go in and out of the gas chamber, crawl with a rifle under barbed wire, and complete a 0500 physical challenge. While the average leadership position doesn’t require that much physical exertion, it certainly requires that much mental exertion. In the face of organizational adversity, be Army Strong.
  • Tough decisions can and will be made. My nephew was inducted into the Army National Guard at 16. His prefrontal cortex isn’t close to being fully developed, and yet he demonstrated conviction and decisiveness to say, “Yep. This is for me.” To be fully transparent, he made the decision at a much younger age and still chose to follow through when it came time.
  • It’s not about him. It never was, is, nor will be. As a soldier, you learn that your job is to defend the US Constitution, serve your country, and protect your peers. In short, put your ego aside and ensure others’ safety. The most effective leaders learn early and demonstrate often that level of humility. They protect their own and share their ideas, but rein in their egos to allow others to flourish and grow.
  • His biggest lesson was self-discovery. I had the privilege to communicate frequently with him by letter over his 10 weeks away. In every letter he mentioned, at least once, how much he learned about himself and what lessons he’ll carry forward in life. As a leader, the absolute most important, hands down, nothing will make you more effective, is self discovery and ultimately awareness. I say that with such conviction because I believe it to my core. It’s what I’ve built my entire practice around. If you don’t know you, there is absolutely no way you can lead others. It’s the same in love. If you don’t love yourself, you couldn’t possibly find genuine love for another. Get a coach. Do the work. Dig Deep. Know yourself inside and out in order to maximize your effectiveness and potential … as well as that of your team.

In closing…

To anyone in the military who reads this, Thank You. I appreciate you with every fiber of my being and admire your conviction to sacrifice your life for the rest of us. To fellow leaders or those in the making, your willingness to step up and take the reins is admirable too. It’s not easy being at the helm, making decisions in the interest of the many. Leadership, military or civilian, takes self-awareness, humility, adaptability, resilience, and empathy. Continue to build these muscles and there will be no stopping you. Be[come] the leader everyone wants to have.

I’d like to petition for a permanent shift in perspective among the human race. So often as a coach I hear, “I just don’t like change.” Makes total sense! You were humming along doing really well at something. Then BAM! Some catalyst rocked your whole world. Now you’re standing in some abyss of unknown and you’re not a fan. Of course you don’t like it. You’re in a position to learn something new, which often brings with it self-consciousness, resistance, and a myriad of other thoughts and emotions that can be challenging to manage.

Here’s my petition for the shift. It’s not the catalyst or change that’s the challenge. It’s where you ended up that’s eliciting feelings of discomfort, uneasiness, maybe even some shame mixed with anger and resentment.

When’s the last time you experienced a major change?

Think hard. (Too soon?)

The last 10 weeks have been a complete and utter cluster. Only a certain few privileged individuals saw it coming, (again, too soon?) so of course when it hit the general public we were understandably thinking and even saying, (in the presence of our children) “What in the literal *%#!?” But here’s the thing. Change surrounds us at every minute of the day. We can’t escape it. In addition to death and taxes, it’s the other major constant. Unless you’re a weatherman named Phil, your days are never remotely the same.

So it wasn’t the catalyst of our respective government officials saying kids won’t go to school, business need to close, and you need to stay home. It was the environment that was created as a result that we weren’t prepared to handle. And it makes TOTAL SENSE we all lost our respective minds and hearts in the immediate aftermath of those announcements. And then again when the reality of our new normals really settled in. Every working parent across the globe screamed a collective, “I”m sorry, I’m supposed to sustain what now? You want me to work full time and teach my children whatever the hell they were learning in school? Yeah, ok.”

So where do we go from here?

If change isn’t the issue, how do we effectively manage new normals? By training our adaptability and resiliency muscles. They’re a combo pack. You can’t have one without the other. Adaptability is the quality of being able to adjust to new conditions, and resiliency is the capacity to recover quickly. To most effectively manage the catalysts of change, both are required.

For years, I’ve talked about the importance of adaptability and resilience as top priorities for personal development – no matter your role, title, or any other demographic. And they often come up in every coaching session. They’re the essence of life, no? No matter what you want – be it more love, compassion, joy, wealth, health – adaptability and resilience are #1 and #2 for getting there.

So how can you build adaptability and resiliency muscles?

  • Hit the mental and emotional gym: Since change is constant, the opportunities to train for adaptability and resilience are limitless. And like the actual gym, repeated effective movements build muscle the quickest. Since the Covid catalyst changed so much of our normal lives, think back to an adjustment you handled well. What mental or emotional exercises did you employ to respond to the new normal? Now shift to an adjustment you didn’t handle well. What was the difference? What was the resistance to that specific new normal? How can you apply what you did from what went well to what didn’t?
  • Recognize the importance of easy or rest days: Every [effective] exercise routine requires light or off days. They allows muscles to recover, which make them stronger in the long run. The same goes for mindset shifts. Take a break. Give yourself some grace. Either don’t actively work on it or consciously experience a setback in your progress. Have you ever gone to the actual gym and not been able to lift what you did 2 days ago? Yes! It happens. So what do you do? You pick up lighter weights to do some movement, and you come back a few days later being able to lift way more than you thought you could.
  • Track your progress: Keep a journal or scribble notes in your phone or tablet. What went well today? What didn’t? What are your thoughts? Emotions? What are they telling you? Consciously reflecting on what goes through your heart and mind are pretty damn powerful. Clients often tell me what they write during reflection exercises actually surprises them! They often tell me their “true” consciousness comes out when they write something completely out of the blue and it makes complete sense! They just let it flow without fear of judgment or ridicule (since no one will ever see it) and the most profound realizations surface.

You’re more powerful than you know. You were born innately super with everything you could possibly need in order to achieve what you want in this world. Expand your human consciousness to see your inner super hero. You’ve made it this far … clearly you’ve mastered some level of adaptability and resiliency.

Colleen Drennen Pfaller, founder and CEO of A Slice of HR, a staple HR fractional consulting firm in Cincinnati, OH, joined us to talk about unemployment – what it is, what it isn’t, who it’s for, and how to properly approach it from an HR and employee perspective. Colleen’s infectious energy and deep knowledge brings clarity to and removes the stigma around this often sticky topic.

Colleen’s top takeaways:

  • Don’t believe everything you hear … or think: Unemployment is insurance. It’s a safety net when you find yourself out of a job through no fault of your own. If you’ve worked for a company, you’ve paid into it starting with your first job. It is NOT the equivalent to welfare. It’s intended to bridge the gap between your previous role and your next role.
  • Covid has changed the benefit a bit: Every state is doing it’s own thing, so be sure to review the guidelines to familiarize yourself with those guidelines. In addition to what your state is doing, the federal government offers another $600/week.
  • HR’s role: Understand the regulations and laws. Communicate clearly and consistently to employees. Point them to the right resources. Approach each person with empathy during the difficult time.
  • Employee’s role: Give yourself some grace. The situation was completely unexpected and threw you for a loop. You’re allowed to feel hurt by it and take some time to root through those emotions. Recognize it will take time to get back on your feet. Unemployment bridges the gap, it doesn’t mean you have to run to the next thing. Take your time. Sort through what you really want and be intentional about your next job search. You’ve been given a break. Use it to your advantage.

Check out the full episode here.

Not sure why the video quality suffers at the beginning. Bear with us. It bounces back.

Colleen left us with a great parting thought:

“I think we all have empathy. We may not have enough courage to display it.”

-Maya Angelou

When in doubt … connect. Show humanity. Accept humanity. It’s what we’re all searching for in every moment – and particularly when we’ve spent 2+ months separated from one another.

If you’d like to know more about Colleen and/or A Slice of HR services, contact her directly on LinkedIn or go on to the company website.

What we resist persists. 

Sit with that one for a while. We’re smack dab in the middle of a time of resistance. 

Resistance to our confined situation. 

Resistance to working remotely … or not at all.

Resistance to being our children’s teacher.

Resistance to (very unfortunate) financial struggles.

Resistance to whatever the future holds; or more aptly, resistance to not knowing what the future holds. 

Resistance in this moment makes total sense! We’ve been dealt a tough hand. One that no one on this planet has faced before, so of course we’re digging in! It would be surprising if we weren’t resisting all that crap that’s been thrown our way. We’re genetically wired to fight or flee; and as a determined people, we want to beat (i.e. resist) this thing! 

What would it look like in this moment NOT to resist? 

What would it feel like to trust the process and concentrate more on the experience vs. the outcome? 

What would your days look like if you were to observe more of what’s happening vs. be an active participant? That’s to say, remove yourself from being in the mix and position yourself to be an outsider looking in at your own life. 

What would you learn about yourself? Your family? Your co-workers? 

How might you use that information to support yourself and them in a different way?

There’s complete awareness that a good portion of those reading this article literally just said, “yeah ok.” And understandably so! If you’ve been struggling to make sense of this entire situation, the next immediate reaction is not “oh no big deal. It’s going to be fine. Let me just think differently.”

That’s not the intent. The intent is to start asking yourself these questions regularly. Try on a few different answers and see how they feel – mentally, emotionally, physically. 

As leaders, our job is to make observations and present ideas to allow those around us to come up with solutions that work for them. If you’re living from a position of resistance, how is that being absorbed by those around you? Even if they’re nowhere near you and picking everything up via Zoom, Teams, phone, email.

Want to explore some quick and easy ways to alleviate conscious or unconscious resistance?

  • Meditate / pray – better yet, do both! (If religion is your thing of course. If not, stick to meditation). There are 100s of apps and resources that you can sign up for and within minutes you’re practicing meditation.
  • Exercise – physical demands shift focus from mental resistance to physical resistance. Whether you lift weights, run/walk/bike, or some combination of it all, your mind will focus on the amount of effort it takes your body to resist all of that; thus giving it a break. And because so many good chemicals are released during a workout, your brain will feel much lighter by the end. Haven’t yet established a routine or exercising hasn’t been a huge part of your life before now? No worries – we’re all beginners. Start with a 10-15 minute walk. Add 2-3 minutes every 2-3 days. By the end of the month, you’ll be up to 30-45 minutes! 
  • Connect with a neutral 3rd party – mentors and peers are phenomenal resources! They are great sounding boards to bounce ideas off of and to get your creative juices flowing. Professional coaches are a great resource as well. They are truly unbiased (because they don’t know a lot of your story – talk about a great blank slate to dive in with) and are professionally trained to root through (conscious or unconscious) mental and emotional resistance. Search any coach here on LinkedIn. You’ll find that most of them, myself included, have opened up their calendars for things like breakthrough sessions (i.e. 1 time sessions completely free or at a reduced rate) or group experiences to optimize pricing/individual. 

Leadership can feel fairly lonely at times, particularly in rough times where you’re being sought after for answers and directions – some of which you may not even know yourself. It’s completely normal to feel resistant in these moments. Remember, you’re complete, resourceful, powerful, and unequivocally unlimited. Root through your resistance in order to set your mind, soul, and body free and to maximize your greatness and potential as well as those around you.

Stay safe. Be well.