Letting go of the past to make room for the future

This month marks the 20th anniversary of starting my first corporate job. Sixteen years of working in the forest products industry, in the company of men, in a world where differences were settled with fists in the not too distant past, and the favored qualities were tight structure, “objectivity”, toughness (both mental and physical), competitiveness. The same sixteen years included some wonderful people, big salaries, 401k matching funds, health insurance, paid expenses, and many opportunities to learn and grow….to a point. And then I woke up to the fact that my growth had not only stagnated, but had put me in a rigid little box of patriarchal construction, so I quit. And spent the intervening years releasing some of the limiting beliefs and assumptions about how life works, and preparing myself for a new kind of career. But that’s another story, to be continued.
As I noted the anniversary today, it was in the context of watching the last bit of 401k money drain from my account in service of starting not one, but two new businesses. At age 54. It is an interesting and admittedly somewhat frightening place to be, starting anew in late-mid-life. And it goes against the grain of current American thinking, as I am reminded over and over again when talking with friends that are still in that culture. It seems to me that you are supposed to stick it out, keep building those retirement funds and saving part of that big salary (that keeps getting bigger with promotions and raises) and then sail into your 60s on cruise ships and lawn chairs, supported by the patriarchy that you served for so long.
I simply couldn’t do it. It felt like living half a life, with the other half to be lived in some non-existent future. And I couldn’t find a way to be a whole person – OK, really a whole woman – in that world, in any corporate world that I was familiar with, really.

So here I am, starting over as a leadership coach/healer, trying to not only build a practice that will support me, but also build a healing center that will support a variety of healers and their clients. Talk about an opportunity for personal growth! And, it turns out, for spiritual growth. Business as spiritual practice, how did I miss that? These two businesses constitute the crucible for continuing to burn away old limiting patterns and beliefs, and for integrating truth, love, authenticity into my everyday life, as a whole woman, as I learn what that even is.

One person who helped me see the connection between business and being an authentic human being is Mark Silver, with his Heart of Business. His offerings are resources for those of us bringing together what is deep inside with our external creations, in a way that is mentally, emotionally, spiritually and – financially supportive. So that someone like me can trade in the financial security of half a life lived in patriarchy, for a full and complete human life in integrity. In a way, this journey is just beginning for me. I have just refined the way I think of what I am offering through my business, and have just signed up for a couple of Mark’s programs.

I have no idea if this makes sense to anyone but me, but there it is. More to come as the money earned in corporate America runs down in service of this new life and these new creations. Quite an adventure!

 

You are a leader

You are a leader

Sometimes someone comes along and says exactly what I want to say exactly when I want to say it. This video came to me today courtesy of Parker Palmer’s Courage and Renewal newsletter. It is a TEDx talk by a gentleman named Drew Dudley, pointing out the fact that most of us do not realize the impact we have on the world every day, in every little thing we do. We are all leaders, and to deny that fact is to be unconscious of our connectedness and our own authority.

I forget this for myself, all the time. Yet the concept has been driven home many times as I watch other people struggle with their sense of their own power. When I was coaching supervisors in a large manufacturing business, it struck me over and over again how so many of them did not, could not, see their greatness and their influence on their crews, peers, and even executives, even when we asked them to consider promotions.

Embracing the concept of self-as-leader really comes down to one thing – knowing that it matters what I say and do, and don’t say and don’t do, every day. If you’re like me, this feels true, exciting, and a bit frightening!