Struggle vs. Ease... Which Do You Choose?

Time to read: 1 minute, 35 seconds

Let's all move into Hotel Ease!

Let's all move into Hotel Ease!

Hi Rebels!

This week, I had a fun email exchange with one of your sister rebels who asked me about the time it takes to write these newsletters. She writes a blog and said it sometimes takes her 10-12 hours to produce a blog post and that "writing is hard work." That got me thinking about all the things you do every day that feel like "hard work."

I had to really think about that before I replied.

  1. Because I wanted to say something useful.
  2. Because over the years, I have developed a very different relationship with writing and work.

For years, I was mired in a story that work was hard and required struggle. Think: No pain, no gain.

To produce a dissertation, I became unreliable to my friends, unavailable to my partner, and worked many, many hours because I believed "hard work" was the only thing that would get me that darn PhD.

In my corporate job, I believed that long hours and "hard" work made me successful and got me recognized as a top performer. Toward the end of my time at my corporate job, I was working late at night, struggling to keep up with email, and working "hard" while sacrificing time with my family and frankly, my sanity.

The truth is... this "hard" work got me a PhD and did get me recognized as a top performer. And, there were huge costs associated with my choice to see work as "hard" and as a "struggle."

A couple of years ago, I decided to change my perspective toward work, and it has made all the difference. Here's what I said (among other things, like it takes me 20-30 minutes to write a newsletter) in the email exchange. I share this because I'd love for you to be able to shift from "hard" to "ease."

"I hold writing these newsletters (like I hold most things) as fun and easy. It’s part of my personal practices to let go of struggle so I practice ease (not struggle) with things like my newsletter. Holding it with ease liberates the process to take less time and actually be easeful. Sometimes, I don’t have a clue as to what to write, and then it takes a little longer."

Think about a place in your life where you believe "hard work" and struggle are the key to your success. Where can you breathe ease into the process. (Notice, I'm not saying "easy." Even ease has elements of challenge. The question is, what would it be like to drop the struggle and do the same work with ease?)

Give it a try then write and tell me all about it. I love hearing from you.

With rebel love,

Christina

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Process Versus Outcome. Which Is It?

Time to read: Less than one minute.

The long-awaited package

The long-awaited package

Hello rebels!

Have you had the experience of letting go of something you want and then once you let it go, you miraculously get it?

Here's what I mean:

This is the letting go part: When my family was in Kenya last year, we shipped a box of gifts to ourselves. The promise was that the package would arrive in 3 months. (Give or take a few months. I know how slow international shipping can be.) Three months passed. No package. Six months. Nothing. One year. Nada. This week, I told my husband that it was time to give up. If it arrived, it would be a miracle. We let go of the package ever arriving.

This is the getting part: I've been out of town doing team building and coaching with a client team and last night, my husband sent me a text that said, "guess what just arrived!"

Our package.

I was telling my client this little miracle story this morning, and she said, "See, that shows that you have to let go of the outcome."

Yup. She's right.

Here's the nugget: Pay attention to the process. In our story, we dropped any remaining expectation that the package would arrive. We didn't allow any stress over lost shipping costs. We remembered the gifts we were given with fondness and felt the love from the giver even if we didn't actually have the gifts.

When you detach yourself from the outcome (e.g. a promotion, a raise, an office with a window, a particular job) and instead focus on building great relationships, enjoying your day-to-day, and doing great work, the outcomes will take care of themselves.

And you never know, you might even get something better.

With rebel love,

Christina

P.S. You're the best!

 

Circumstances Don't Equal Happiness. Lessons From the Volcano.

Time to read: Another one clocks in at 1.5 minutes. I'm on a roll!

Lava photo courtesy of Bruce Omori

Lava photo courtesy of Bruce Omori

I was listening to a radio report about the volcano eruption in Hawaii. First, let me say that my heart goes out to the many people who have lost homes and farms. The destruction is devastating.

As I was listening to the report, I was struck by one particular story.

A retired school teacher (let's call her Sally) reported feeling heat under her home and receiving an "evacuate immediately" notice from the emergency response team. Sally grabbed her two dogs and a bag of dog food and left thinking she would come back in the morning to retrieve her laptop and other important possessions.

When Sally went back the next morning, her entire home was covered in a wall of lava. All her worldly possessions were gone. I expected tears. I expected anger. She explained her circumstances something like this, "When you choose to live in a volcanically active place, you take the risk of this happening. It's a good thing I do a lot of yoga. I have insurance and instead of staying here, I'm going to use this as an excuse to move closer to my children in California." She even laughed. Wow.

As the story ended, I realized this woman gave me (and you) a tremendous gift. She serves as a reminder that your circumstances do not dictate your level of contentment or happiness. I'll break down the lessons:

  • Life is a choice. Sally chose to live in Hawaii and therefore chose the risk. You choose to go to your job every day, whether you love it or hate it. You choose where you live. You choose who you spend your time with.
  •  
  • Your reactions are a choice. It would be pretty natural for Sally to be devastated and angry. Instead she was optimistic and cheerful. Even in the midst of grief and loss, you can choose to fill your reaction with blame or with the pure experience of your human emotions including grief and anger.
  •  
  • Take care of yourself. Sally does yoga. Taking care of your mind and body enables you to be resilient when things go awry, in little daily ways or in big ways like a lava wall.
  •  
  • Look for the opportunity. When stuff happens, even bad stuff, you are being pointed to learn something, change something, or pivot in some way. Listen for the pivot. Where are you being pointed? Sally is planning to use this significant upset to make a move. (And you don't have to rush to the lesson. Have your emotions first, let things settle, then pivot as needed.)
  •  
  • Focus on what's important. Sally grabbed her dogs. Hard circumstances are clarifying and point you swiftly and with precision toward what is important and what is not.
  •  
  • Guard your sense of humor. Sally was laughing at her belief that she would return the following morning. She laughed that she saved a bag of dog food rather than her expensive new laptop. This is not to say that you must laugh or always look for the silver lining in tragedy. Levity, though, enables you to carry hard things lightly.

You are never as stuck as you sometimes believe you are.

With rebel freedom,

Christina

P.S. If you love the Corporate Rebel Unplugged Video Podcast and Newsletter, please share it with your friends and colleagues. They aren't stuck either. They can join us here.

4 Steps to Worry-Free Decision Making

Time to read: much less than two little minutes

Which direction should you go?

Which direction should you go?

Hello rebels!

Do you have decisions to make? Do you anticipate having decisions to make in the future? Do you feel an urgency to get to the right decision and get to it quick so you can move-on-to-the-next-thing-burning-on-your-to-do-list-so-you-can-focus-on-something-else entirely-already?!

Geez. That sense of urgency is not helpful! (I know this. Let me explain.)

Big decisions were made in our house this spring.

My daughter has been choosing a high school and my son has decided to switch schools at the same time. We've been part of the same tight school community for 9 years so this change is a big deal for all of us. Many times in this decision-making process, I have felt urgency to get information fast, weigh all the options, and finalize a decision so we can feel clear and certain and move on to other priorities.

And this process has offered me a few huge lessons about decision-making, which I happily share with you.

If you have a teenager, you'll understand this next bit. Despite my sense of urgency, there was no forcing my 14-year-old into a decision until she was good and ready. This story is a metaphor (in case you didn't notice, you are the 14-year-old). You can try to force a decision. You can talk about it until your friends stop returning your calls. You can live your worries in the middle of the night. You can obsess until the decision invades your dreams.

And the truth is, the decision will not get made until it is time to make it. When the deadline was approaching, my daughter flat-out refused to talk about school choice for a week. We had no option but to put the thing down. And, we had a deadline. Over a huge piece of cake (I'm a strategic mom), I told her it was go-time. I expected hang-wringing and worry about where her friends were going. Instead, she paused for 10 seconds, and said, "I'm going to XYZ school."

Done and done. The decision was filled with ease and joy.

I was shocked and delighted, and since I'm a coach who writes a weekly newsletter, I made note of what just happened so I could share it with you. When making a decision - big or small, here's what you need to know:

  1. Gather information, but just enough. In most cases, you will not land on the one piece of information that is going to make your decision for you so don't drive yourself crazy trying to find it.
  2. Fire up your intuition. Pay attention to how you feel about your options. Watch your dreams. Feel into the energy of the way you talk about your choices. (Do you feel expansive or constricted? Joyful or worried? Excited or sick?)
  3. Know your deadline or set a deadline for yourself. When you let a decision drag on and on, you're using it as an excuse to hide from the responsibility of actually making a decision. Don't do that. It's not fun, and hiding isn't going to get you anywhere.
  4. Give the decision space. Put it down. Stop talking about it. Let it go. In the quiet, you'll find the answer.

Oh, and I recommend cake. Cake helps everything go smoothly.

Rebel love to you

Christina

P.S. Do you love the Corporate Rebel Unplugged Video Podcast and Newsletter? Share with with your friends! They can join our merry band of rebels right here.

 

Life Advice From Your Tribe!

I've been looking for an excuse to use this picture!

I've been looking for an excuse to use this picture!

Last summer, I spent three weeks in North Carolina working at my children's summer camp. (Apropos of nothing, I was the Editor-in-Chief of the child-produced camp newspaper, The Tajar Times. So fun!)

While at camp, I offered pro bono coaching to anyone who wanted it. I spent many hours coaching people in their 20s who were angst ridden over questions like, "Should I marry the guy or dump him?" "I got a degree in a field I HATE!" "Do I take this job or travel through Europe?"

I also solicited advice from the Corporate Rebel tribe and posted the following list on the staff bulletin board. Many, many young people read it and told me the advice was astute and helpful. I came across this list recently, and your advice was soooooo good, I'm sharing it here with all of you.

Enjoy!

From Nick:

  1. Stretch every day.
  2. Read. A lot.
  3. Make time to explore the world. It's fascinating.

From Alastair:

Your dreams remain. Keep them top of mind even when 20 years of reality hasn't quite worked as you thought. Keep them present, and they will guide you.

I didn't.

Through coaching and refocusing, things I thought were lost to career "diversions" are now more present than they ever were before. Shocking really. But it speaks volumes toward a few things.

  1. Never give up hope.
  2. Accept that the original dream is still there but may manifest differently and in ways you can't yet imagine.
  3. Embrace variety beyond what you envisioned.
  4. Listen to your inner voice and be true to it.

So forgive yourself right now for not always knowing. Who does? And pause and listen to yourself. What do you want? Truly.

Know this - life is short. So relax, lean into your life, enjoy and focus.

From Anne

It is never too early to put your self-care first. Don't get immersed in baggage piling on your head.

Deal with issues, learn new skills, add them to your toolbelt and move on. Don't be a people pleaser. Be a YOU pleaser! Build your plate your way, set boundaries and know that it is okay to say no. Set boundaries and keep them.

With rebel love,

Christina

 

Do You Dread Bad News?

My little bunnies many years ago.

My little bunnies many years ago.

When you apply for a new job, go for a promotion or put your hat into the ring for something you really, really, want, do you lie awake at night worrying, "What if I get bad news?"

I'm in this exact spot, and this week I realized there may be no such thing as bad news. Wouldn't that be awesome? Here's what I mean...

My daughter is heading to high school next year, and my son has decided to consider joining her at a new school. This means they have applied to a number of places, and we have waited MONTHS to find out if they are admitted. We find out this week. (I'm doing lots of yoga and meditation to stay calm as the minutes tick by.)

Yesterday a friend commented that she hopes we don't get the "bad letter." When I heard those words, something in me clicked and my nerves calmed the heck down.

There really is no possible "bad letter" that could arrive this week. They will either be admitted or they won't. You will either get the job or you won't. Those are the simple facts. It's the story that you make up about the facts that causes the late-night worrying. Try these on:

"If I don't get the promotion, it's because I'm not respected by senior management."

"If I don't get this job, it was my last chance and my career will stall, and I'll eventually be homeless."

"If my kids don't get into this school, then…. what?….Their lives are over? They are destined for a horrible high school experience? Their future is in jeopardy?"

Can you see how ridiculous this thinking is?

The arrival of supposed "bad" news, is simply the arrival of additional information. And with that information you make your next choice. Do you stay at the company or move on? Do you do something different in your job search or try again? Do you retool your skills so you are better qualified next time?

The fact of the matter is that things always turn out. Something always results, and you are always ready to handle whatever it is, even if it's painful. My children will go to high school. You will have opportunities if you want them. They are growing into amazing people. You are an amazing person. That's what matters.

So, you (and I) can let go of the fear of the "bad" letter and know that all you have to do is be ready to make your next move.

So simple.

With rebel love,

Christina

P.S. I'd love it if you'd share this post with your colleagues, friends and family. Word of mouth is the best way to spread good stuff. Your friends can sign up here to get the a weekly dose of insight, wisdom, and good humor to make them happier and more fulfilled at work (and in life).

 

Do You Hate It When People Tell You How You Feel?

Time to read: 1 little minute and 15 tiny seconds

My corporate campsite this week.

My corporate campsite this week.

Do you hate it when people tell you how you feel?

Let me begin with a little story then tell you what to do when someone inaccurately insists you must be feeling something you are not.

I'm at a client site this week doing 2 intense days of back to back private coaching for a big corporation followed by a third day of team building sessions. When I return home, I head to another big corporation to coach all day in their women's leadership program. When I tell people about my week, they say, "that must be exhausting!",

When I hear that, I'm like, "hmmmmm….," or I'm annoyed. I'm annoyed because other people's opinions can muddy the water and make it hard to listen to your own feelings and trust your own experience. With their suggestion, you might start to wonder, "Am I exhausted? Maybe I should be."

By becoming aware when other people are imposing how you should feel, you can commit to listen to and trust how you actually feel.

Here's how to do that:

  1. Check in with yourself. When you hear a suggestion for how you should feel, use it as a reminder to pause and check in. How are you feeling? Is there something you need to express, process alone, or adjust? What will get you on track with where you want to be?
  2. Pay attention to the stories you tell yourself. Are you telling stories that are empowering or disempowering? Is telling yourself that you are exhausted or overwhelmed enabling you to be your best self and do your best work or is it sapping your energy?
  3. Choose your feelings. You get to decide if you are exhausted, overwhelmed or frustrated. The circumstances don't dictate your feelings, and other people's suggestions certainly don't. It is true that I may be tired when I get on the plane to go home, and while doing the work, I choose to be energized and inspired by my clients.
  4. Clarify. If you want to, you can clarify how you really feel to the person who is asking. Assume they care about you and had the best of intentions when they made their comment. Something like, "actually, I love these clients and get in the zone when I do back-to-back coaching."
  5. Get curious. If you notice yourself "suggesting" feelings to others, get curious. Instead of telling them how they feel, ask, "How do you feel about that?" You might be surprised by what you learn and amused to see the assumptions you make, too.

I hope this helps!

Christina

P.S. Are there people to whom you'd like to give a big, fat hint? Use this email to tell them to stop suggesting how you should feel! They can join to receive this newsletter right here.