With all that's been happening, I haven't been making time to write this blog. Both work and volunteering have kept my days pretty full. But I hope to get back to some reflective writing before the year ends! In the meantime, I encourage you to take a look at some of the previous posts. Thanks for visiting!
Dear blog readers,
My second-ever podcast interview just released today (5/16) -- and it's such a great complement to my first-ever that I wanted to share them both with you here.
Last year I was a special guest for the Mac's List Find Your Dream Job podcast, which I recommend often to job-seekers. The wide range of topics and experts makes the archives a terrific resource for people at every stage of career, anywhere in the U.S. You can hear me in episode #20 ("Reinventing your career"), and also as a guest host for Kerry Hannon's episode ("Ageism is alive and well, but you can fight it"). I'm grateful to Mac and his team for making the time we spent together lots of fun and a very rich learning experience.
The newer interview is with Angela Copeland of Copeland Coaching, who's also been a Mac's List guest. I enjoyed talking with Angela about a tough topic: unplanned career changes, including layoff situations. The first question Angela asked me was: "What's the hardest thing about a career change you didn't plan for?" My response focuses on the loss of two big things: security and identity. The interview is full of good questions from Angela and practical tips from both of us.
If you listen to one or both podcasts -- I'd love to know what you found most useful or interesting. I could make your favorite moment the topic of a future blog!
If you're not a big podcast listener -- take a peek at the resources that are part of the show notes for each.
Thanks for reading. Best wishes for a wonderful week. --Michelle
A few weeks ago, I returned to my yoga practice after a longer-than-usual break. I won't bore you with the reasons (or, as my friend Laura would say, excuses) for staying away from class. What I want to share is something the teacher said that keeps sticking in my mind:
"Get more props than you think you need."
In a yoga class, props are objects like blocks and straps and blankets that help you bridge the distance between, let's say, your hands and the floor in a posture like a standing forward bend. Props are important for a few reasons. Among them: every body is shaped differently; props allow you to explore possibilities in a pose with less risk of injury; and you are able to practice longer and deeper if you're not exhausting your energy all at once pursuing some "ideal."
I've been practicing yoga for a long time, and as my body ages I confess to having some difficulty setting my ego aside and accepting what my body can actually do on any given day. So "more props than you need" has become an interesting metaphor for me about allowing something to be easier, more possible, than it might be without extra support.
How might this look off the mat? And how might it relate to aligning how I spend my time with what I say I value? As I reflect on the difference between activities I consistently show up for and those I don't, four things come to mind.
Could these four things make an activity or a goal more possible for you? If yes, here's my invitation. Take a look at the picture I've drawn below. Jot some notes. Try some things. Make it your own. Allow yourself to gather more around you than you think you might need.
Finally -- don't overlook the value of a great teacher or mentor or coach. A few well-placed words can inspire your everyday efforts, and allow you to stretch beyond what you thought was possible.
I'd love to hear from you in the comments about your own reflections. Or, reach out to me directly.
Thanks for reading!
Ten years ago this month, I had the opportunity to meet a remarkable group of leaders through an executive education program at Stanford University's School of Business. All of us were CEOs or aspiring CEOs in nonprofit organizations, big and small, from half a dozen different countries. Though our work and our contexts were different, what we had in common was a deep desire to make our corner of the world a better place for all.
Last weekend, fourteen of these same leaders gathered from across the US and from three other countries to celebrate ten years of staying in touch -- some of us from as far away as Australia. We launched our reconnection time with some key questions inviting reflection about "then and now," including "What's guiding the choices I'm making right now?"
My answer came from this paragraph in Tom Rosenstiel's new novel, Shining City.
"Maybe Martin Luther King was right and the long arc of history did bend toward justice. It was pretty clear to Rena you shouldn't expect to recognize the curve in your lifetime. You just tug in the right direction, because if you do, others might too. And if you don't, the arc might bend the other way."
"Tugging in the right direction," for me, has involved making some changes in how I spend my time. I felt so fortunate to spend two days with people who spend every single day tugging toward justice -- empowering farmworker families, transforming math and science education, strengthening economic development, creating safer streets for youth of color, training community organizers, funding affordable housing, fighting Islamaphobia, and more. Being among these leaders felt humbling, inspiring, and hopeful.
The last time our alumni group gathered was five years ago. (See the fun photo below.) There are some folks I saw last weekend I hadn't seen in ten years. Nearly all of us have changed jobs, and some of us have stepped off the CEO track. Yet across time and distance and transitions, we still recognize in each other a common commitment to, as my husband likes to say, "creating the world we want to live in."
Somehow, one intense learning experience plus lots of smaller connections over the years have transformed us all. When we are together, we can be a community that speaks honestly, shares generously, laughs and cries easily. It's a group of people that tugs me in the right direction. I'm honored to be among them, whenever and wherever we can make that possible.
This week's invitation to reflect: Do you have a phrase, a quote, or a set of values that guides you from day to day? Who are the people, or what are the practices, that help you live in alignment with your aspirations?
I would love to hear from you in the comments or via my contact form.
Warm best wishes for a week filled with good connections. --Michelle
When I returned to this blog after a month-long hiatus, I mentioned that I'm part of more groups than I have been in quite a while. Reading Anne Lamott's short and wonderful book "Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers" reminded me how grateful I am that these groups -- nearly all new! -- exist.
From monthly dinner parties to twice-monthly action hours, from collective philanthropy to spaces for learning together -- all of these groups depend on women's imagination, energy, and generosity.
In the course of describing how and why she gives thanks, Anne Lamott mentions a line from one of Rumi's poems. "There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground," the Sufi mystic says. Whatever you can offer now, in this time, is perfect. It's yours.
I offer a deep bow to all the women in my city and across the country who are creating so many ways for us to grow and to act together. Thank you.
If you're in or near Portland, OR -- don't miss this new "Civics Series" benefiting the ACLU. If you're reading from elsewhere -- I'd love to know what creative gatherings are happening in your part of the world. Please share in the comments.
As a coach and consultant, my work is to make yours easier, more effective, and more aligned with your vision.