Is there one question you avoid at all cost? A question that makes you cringe? I have one:
“What do you do?”
I despise this question. I do a lot of things, but would so much rather tell you about what excites me and what I care about. However, I’ll share ‘what I do,’ but first, let me share a bit about who I am and why I do what I do.
I am a classic achiever type, think Type A. I went all out in school, moving swiftly through undergrad, a highly-ranked master’s degree program in my field, and finally on to earn my doctoral degree. All this before I turned thirty-two while working full time making a six-figure salary. However, please know I don’t share this to gloat but to show how drive can drown out important life messages. On the outside, it looked like I was on the path to big success, but internally, a nasty battle was brewing under the surface.
By the time I finished my Ph.D., I was serving in a senior-director-level position. I noticed this nagging, sinking feeling I couldn’t shake. From the outside looking in, I had everything I had worked so hard to achieve. I was working with the top executives of a big organization. I was part of a team doing incredible organizational redesign work and was offered the seemingly perfect next job in my climb. Yet, I was miserable.
My soul was aching, and I felt a disconnect between the seemingly perfect path I was on and my heart and soul telling me every second that I wasn’t doing what I was put on earth to do.
I worked in healthcare, where the values of providing health and care to patients are all about service. The higher up I got in these healthcare organizations, the more disconnected we were from those core values. It became about money, control, ego, and bureaucracy. It was critical to realize for myself that I was no longer in alignment with where I needed to be and how I needed to operate going forward. But I continued.
Over the course of the next year, my marriage fell apart, I became more and more miserable in my roles at work and ended up increasingly burned out and depressed. In a last-ditch effort to find my way out of this feeling, I accepted a promotion from a dear friend and colleague to take on a new role in a new city.
I remember lying in bed saying to myself, “There has got to be a better way!” I was witness to intense suffering at work—in my colleagues, my bosses, my teammates, in myself. I saw the workplace sucking the soul and energy out of the best-laid plans and most beautiful people.
Shortly after that, everything I thought I believed in and everything I had striven to create no longer meant anything to me. I resigned and left the country for several months to find myself again.
I realized that no matter how disappointing, sad, and frustrating I found it to work at these organizations; they were doing the best they could with the knowledge and tools they had. So often, leaders don’t have the mindsets, skillsets, or heartsets needed to lead soulfully in today’s world. It’s no fault of our own. We don’t know what we need to know.
This what excites me and is at the heart of why I wrote the book, The Evolved Executive. After this incredible journey, I see the future of work is led from love, not fear. I believe in a world of work that is brimming with meaning and opportunities for growth. An organization that is a positive force for good in the world. A day when the vast majority of people are excited to dive into their workday and go home as energized as they entered the day.
And, this is my purpose. What do I do?
I awake the souls of leaders to create soulful organizations.
I believe together we can change the world of work by changing how we lead ourselves, our teams and our organizations.
Are you ready to take the next step and evolve your leadership?
Check out my new book, “The Evolved Executive: The Future of Work is Love in Action” or find me online at: