Authenticity is the name of my game.

Why do I keep coming back to authenticity? Why when I am trying to write my two line elevator pitch about what I do, does the word ‘authentic’ always come front of mind? I believe I am most passionate about this subject because we are inundated with ideas and images of the way we “should” look and the way we “should” show up as a leader. “Be bold!” “Be the boss you are.” “Take your seat at the table”. It all feels aggressive to me…. and I am way more on the gentler side of things. We get feedback from those above us that we need to show up this way or that. “Be more confident.” What this reads to me as someone who is not naturally inclined toward being the loudest voice in the room (or most frequent), or stating my opinion as fact, is “be less like you’. So when I think about the message and the world I want to live and work in, it is to cultivate environments where people can show up as their authentic self and have their style valued and appreciated.

Being forceful is never going to me. I influence in other ways. I influence through connections. My authentic style is leading through empathy and connection. I like to know people and have them get to know before we embark on journey together. I am more of a narrow but deep person. Which makes business development hard, since going deep is not always easy to do in a 20 minute conversation. But that aside, I am not going to change that about myself. I don’t want to. I also believe that the gentler, vulnerable Rachael makes better decisions and relates with others in a positive way, which long term, makes for much stronger outcomes. The good news is my approach isn’t for everyone. It takes all our styles and traits to create amazing outcomes. I see lots of organizations putting people in leadership positions who have executive presence, as defined by the organization, which usually equates to ‘male like’ traits of dominance, forceful, self-assuredness, and less on what we are still annoyingly referring to as “soft skills”… like communication, vulnerability, humility, inspiring others….This myopic approach that a leader looks this way or that, is what stifles creativity and growth. Diversity in thought, experiences, approaches, backgrounds, style, you name it, is what lays the foundation for ideas and execution of those ideas we never could have dreamed up alone.

Table stakes; you must get the job done. You must be competent in your role. I am not talking about that. I am talking about the manner and style in which you get it done. Somewhere along the way, being a “driver” got a nasty connotation. That if you get good outcomes and deliver it must have been on the backs of others. Not the case. I consider myself a driver. But I also know that the ways work gets done is through other people, in them feeling inspired and connected to the work and the team. When people think of the word “driver” synonymous with ‘leader’, they think of people who get outcomes despite the people. That is not what makes a leader people want to keep working for.

Now, hard talk….if you are not getting the response you desire from others, then yes, something needs to change. Maybe what needs to change is the situation you are in; you need a different crew (“but ugg Rachael, job searching is hard”). Maybe what needs to change is you. Influencing and finding alternative ways to get the results you want can be accomplished with you still showing up as your authentic self. Not changing yourself to be an image of what you think others, or the culture you are in value. There are many variations to trying things on. Piloting if you will. Small tests of change. Sidebar, leadership coaching will help.

I find when I am not being authentic and showing up differently than what is my nature, either because I am insecure, or I think this is what the environment calls for, those are the times that I ruminate the most afterward. Those are the times when my anxiety gets away from me. I hope you feel confident to know your authentic self and bring it out in any situation.

People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” ~Maya Angelou

It’s been a year…(and a half)

It has been 1.5 years since I left my corporate job after working for someone else for over 20 years. I thought it was a good time for some solid self reflection. HOLY $%*#! I clearly am a rip the Band-Aid off kind of person. It has been a heck of a doozy last two years for all of us. So many external factors we never could have dreamed of, killer virus, political upheaval, floods, fires, hurricanes, neighbors killing neighbors, kids murdered within the walls of their school, crisis after crisis, and throughout we have “experts” telling us to be resilient and display a mental toughness… which that gets old and tiring too. Plenty of days I have wanted to pull the covers of my head, but because of my very strong network of old and new friends I am still standing. Having a daughter who I need to show up for, helps my motivation too. And she add to the areas of my life where I feel like I consistently miss mark and can do better. Grace. Compassion. For oneself. Repeat after me. “Compassion for oneself.”

I can honestly say in the past 586 days there has been three ten minutes periods that I thought to myself, “oh girl you made a big mistake…, you should’ve kept that corporate job.” But then I talk with someone who is inspired by me, or tells me how unhappy they are, and those thoughts quickly go away.

I fight the fear…. Fear and Ego are the two big areas I am struggling with. My ego of what success looks like. And fear mostly that I will look back and realize what a financial disaster I made out of things. So my mantra board gets regular updates encouraging me to stay in the game and to remember how far I have come, and all the experiences I’ve had, and how strong and smart I am… ya know, all the things I coach others on… Hello…. “physician heal thyself.” That is why coaches need coaches. But the fear is real and it becomes the negative sound track that brings us down. We put in interventions to stop that fear (saboteur) in it’s tracks.

So on top of the giving up the security blanket (aka golden handcuffs) of Corporate life, I am now a Central Oregonian. Which although is only an 8 hour drive from the San Francisco Bay Area feel like light years away. I am adjusting and enjoying many of the people I meet, and I am having some cringe worthy moments when I realize this Jew from New York who moved to the country is out of her league. I knew what I was stepping into coming here, but I definitely didn’t realize how it would make me feel. I thought I could go about my business and enjoy my life without getting involved uhm no, I guess that isn’t me isn’t either. I reflect on what Brene Brown says about “self-righteousness” and “righteousness”, that we must fight injustices and inequities, but in doing so not think we are better than anyone else. Or something to that effect (she is highly eloquent). That has been really hard!! Side note, grab the book Atlas of the Heart, it was gifted to me by someone who knows me well, since I love it. And I don’t usually love ‘self help’ category books. My days looks so different. I drive 20 minutes each way to bring and retrieve my daughter from school. I get to relish in the peace of the drive. No highways, just gorgeous mountains, buttes, and valleys. We don’t go out to eat often (we used to do that at least 4 times a week). We don’t have play dates or park dates. I don’t have moms I meet and relate to (that was always a struggle for me, but even more so now). And there is less sun. Not sure how I missed the research on that one (I am going with it has changed with global warming like everywhere else), but I seriously suffer from SAD and there are a lot more gloomy days. Sunlamp is where it’s at.

Transitions are hard. And I am still in the thick of it. Like I said, I am clearly a rip the Band-Aid off person. No analysis paralysis here. I wanted something different and I got it. I hate to say it, but I think getting older makes the change harder too… I have a family now. I have other people beside me to “hold up”. In the past, when I would move around and try different things, my change in course didn’t impact anyone but me and I didn’t have that far to fall (I had the security of my parents… the privilege is not lost on me). Now the ego talks back to me more….

So I keep to my two core mantras, borrowed from who knows…. “Face the fear and do it anyway”, and “Regret the things you did, not the things you didn’t do.” These two things have kept me going since I was 17 and left for college and never looked back. So far it’s worked for me and I have the confidence to trust that it will keep working for me. Thanks for the vent friends.