Tree bark with green moss

As I set up my calendar for the month, I select a quote I’ve found that speaks to me. I write it in my planner and leave space below it to capture phrases I hear or read that speak to me and relate to the quote. I found this practice centers me throughout the month, and helps me be more present in my conversations, meetings, and readings. For April 2023 the quote was, “How are You Tending to the Emerging Story of Your Life.”

I regularly have conversations with folks about careers. From new graduates with informative interviews and coworkers about their next move to Veterans starting over outside of the military. I love these chats because everyone has an interesting story. I feel honored when they share their journey and trust me with their career dream. Here are a few chats I had in the past two weeks:

  • I spoke to a recent college graduate who shared near the end of our all that two men she had informative interviews with told her to “shrink herself” to get into a company. I don’t remember which expletive I shouted before I caught my composure and explained the lasting damage I’d seen from others through that approach. Finally asking, “Do you want to spend your time a tiny version of yourself?”  
  • I listened to a friend talk through the choice of job security with a demotion or opportunity of a 12-week severance package as her division was eliminated as a result of a corporate powerplay. I loved how throughout the call she came back to her value, not letting the situation diminish her expertise, gifts, and track record. Following the call, I sent her a draft vision of what I heard her define as her career future which included, “I offer bold ideas, share my passion, and get results in creative ways that are respected and recognized.”
  • I was part of lively discussion with 5 corporate executives about the concept of “take your whole self to work.” For some a resounding no, and others cautious optimism that the future of work would be more inclusive and welcoming. I shared that I think of it like an internal stereo equalizer – sometimes my total volume is on high across the board and other times I dial a part of me back for a specific situation. Post call, I reflected on what and who helped me gain more security in how much of myself I reveal…and that I stand by my dislike of this phrase, and would prefer “be yourself at work.”

Quotes that Caught My Attention

  • Time is sacred
  • Shadows are mistaken for the truth
  • Happiness, love, and peace are in inside job
  • Conscious creator
  • Be somebody’s peace – mainly yours
  • It started in your head and came of your soul
  • Let go and allow
  • Be at ease
  • Trust love, that’s pretty much it – expect maybe each more chocolate
  • I am
  • Own your greatness
  • There is more to see that what you found
  • Follow your inner wisdom
  • The fertile betwixt and between
  • Our unlimited, all-powerful potential; The inexhaustible battery of joy and bliss each of us can tap through practice
  • Abandon all plans
  • Creativity is intelligence having fun
  • You are a powerful being
  • Move in the midst of fear
  • Run to the unknown
  • My attention is my power
  • Line up together people, all of us, seek knowledge and love others
  • All of us breathe more deeply out in the unknown; maybe because we have no other choice
  • Words are spells go weave magic
  • Faith is between the dots
  • Let go gracefully
  • Go do the damn thing

Your Story Line

But our story is more than work. Often to help groups get to know each other I have them do a timeline activity. On the left side of a horizontal line “start” and on the right, “now.” Above the line folks write meaningful moments in their personal life and below the line ones that are career related. Then we all share. Each person’s story seems to have love, loss, and triumph, plus a side of surprise.

Each time I do this, there are subtle tweaks but always a sense of “yep, that’s me” when I finish. Seeing my story in such a simple way helps me reconnect with the core of who I am – not the veneer easily adjusted for a group or situation. Seeing markers for each chapter of my story – the environment, emotions, people, crisis, impact, and accomplishments – grounds me. It also fills me with gratitude. I see a story bigger than today and that is both humbling and empowering.

What I plan to start adding to this activity is a dotted line from “now” to “next.” It’s important to realize that what is written is part of you, but not all of you. Perhaps the professional story is robust but personal is thin? What if you are missing some of your favorite “characters” in your story? Maybe the memorable moments were good, but you’ve outgrown them and want more or different? What if a moment changed you to the core?

That’s the magic of our story – it’s ours. Ours to enjoy. Ours to dream. Ours to write.

April 2023 Quote: “Tending to the Emerging Story of Your Life”

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