We co-create Brave Spaces of Intentional Inclusivity and Fierce Belonging.
Young and looking for purpose. Currently suffering from an early mid-life crisis but working my way through the muck of the frivolous extras and hoping to come out on the other side with some great battle scars. Life is only lived if you're living it!
So what happens when you listen to someone share their story on clubhouse and it’s so powerful and real you can’t wait to hear more? You invite them to do an episode on your podcast and hope they say yes. In this episode I was able to interview Sola Adenakan, co-founder of St8cked media and BrazenTv, which focuses on social issues and putting women and POC behind the lens. Along with her newest project Transmit Media Podcast Network, the first Afro Latina owned social impact podcast network.
It’s a lot going on but she was gracious enough to speak with me and I’m so thankful for it, because her story is also just as compelling as the stories she films.
My name is Jessy Santana and I’m an organizational culture strategist, entrepreneur, mother. This is The Way We Work podcast, where we discuss all things at the intersection of knowledge-seeking curiosity, entrepreneurship and social impact.
Take a listen to the full Interview Here
This is what happens when you let go of fear or the narrative you can’t and just do. Clarity through action and we’ll all be manifesting powerful stories too.
I can’t wait to keep learning about Sola’s work and you should definitely check her out too. At her new project Transmit Media Podcast Network and all of her other incredible work.
This Week’s Rose Bud and Thorn
I am so excited that The Culture-Driven Leader academy is now live! And the first cohort will begin on Feb 15! If you’re interested make sure to check out the site here or on my IG @theway_wework you’ll find more information there.
All of this creating content, entrepreneurship takes a toll on your family and sometimes you don’t even realize how much. Maybe that’s why so many entrepreneurs are divorced. Someone once told me, there is no work life balance as an entrepreneur, you have to choose between work, family, friends, health or sleep. What’s your choice?
After that conversation with Sola, I’m just really looking forward to the rest of 2021, it won’t come easy and it won’t come fast but change inevitable and I just want to work with those that are ready. So if you’re with me, you know what to do.
If you liked the show make sure to like and subscribe and leave a review and don’t forget tell your friends to listen.
January 20th was Inauguration Day 2021, a day many have fought for, a day many prayed for and a day some hoped would never come. And while Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are making history in their own ways, it’s still just a day.
An important day, a historical day but a day nonetheless.
They have both made many promises that I hope will inspire and be held accountable for creating a catalyst for change but they are not the only source, by any means. Creating leadership that looks and feels like the population it represents is an admirable goal and leading by example is a powerful force for change but we still have so much work to do.
Even now, 3 in 4 Republicans believe Joe Biden didn’t win the election legitimately according to Newsweek.
How hard will it take to work together when they don’t feel you belong?
It makes it that much harder to do anything: to encourage innovation, create any meaningful change, and be able to be empowered enough to bring initiatives to the forefront.
Biden’s ‘Healing of America’s Soul’, will feel resistance when many don’t believe his legitimacy. But the way will be paved a little bit smoother with a slight margin in Congress but a return to bipartisanship. Which is basically the buy-in he needs in order to make things happen his way, but there still needs to be a lot of work done to mend those relationships because Trump’s rhetoric has really damaged them, the collaborative spirit and even the idea of progression doesn’t need to be an uphill battle.
So then what? What’s the point of progress if since Obama, things have been done to reverse a lot of what he did. Trump’s election, in fact, was a reaction to Obama. And in his first days, Biden reversed Trump policies as well. So is this what reactionary politics looks like?
So where do we go from here?
Let’s not forget this moment…
It was like the release of a breath you didn’t know you were holding.
Now that’s there’s talks of the vaccine, a sense of normalcy seems to be within sight, but don’t forget what we learned in 2020.
It’s possible to change, traditional industries were quick to adapt to work at home situations, given that they didn’t believe it was possible before.
People will no longer stand for performative Inclusion and Belonging efforts, this means…
–Volunteer Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion piled on top of your workload? With no pay and no help?
– Working on initiatives that are siloed in HR and don’t apply to the organization as a whole?
–Creating data backed, employee-driven resources that sit on someone’s desk collecting dust?
This is what happens if we don’t take this opportunity to fundamentally change and make progress in our organizations, how we show up for ourselves and those we work with.
What happens if we don’t use this opportunity for Change
The burden of creating organizational change should not fall on your marginalized employees. That not only creates emotional and mental burdens they may not be prepared for, but it increases the isolation and the feeling of exclusion.
In regards to the bottom line?
Higher Absenteeism, Lack of Engagement, Loss of Productivity, Higher Turnover
That’s billions of dollars in refusing to fix the actual problem. It’s not the pipeline, it’s not the skill set, it’s the toxic work cultures we idealize that do not create Brave Spaces of Intentional Inclusivity and Fierce Belonging.
If you’re interested in using the momentum of this moment and embrace change in your organization- reach out!
What happens when today looks the same as yesterday, can we call it change?
This is the second half of my interview with Mari Corona, artist, photographer and writer from LivinginMommyWood and Visions by Mari– Do check out her work, it’s stunning!
How do we heal as a community? Healing our communities first then dealing with the oppressive systems. A novel idea? I’m not sure but I know that I love the concept, because I, too, need to heal from being ostracized and outcast from my community.
It’s not enough to simply create spaces of inclusion, because inevitably there will be some that don’t want to authentically share their stories with those that have not only benefited from the system but in many ways have used the system to oppress others.
In understanding how my need for assimilation has made it in some ways easier to navigate in white spaces. If you can’t beat them, join them? I’m sure I wouldn’t be the only one. The only one that gets home and removes the burden of their “white voice” or corporate persona for their true self- whatever that might be.
This in-between area of not belonging to neither here nor there. I found myself being too brown for some people, not brown enough for others.
If you don’t know better, how can you do better?
We have this opportunity in front of us, that are so much different than our parents, different than our ancestors. One of my friends like to say, “We are the dreams of our ancestors”, and I love that! There’s no way in hell that our ancestors, having lived the lives they had could have ever envisioned the lives we are now living. But what it means when we are on our own healing journeys, it is up to us to reach out and learn how to grow and heal, because that burden that was imposed upon us by our parents, grandparents, etc is seen in the ways we as a community, we as people, understand the world.
Even if you don’t know exactly what the trauma is, I know that as good-intentioned as you may be, there is something in your collective understanding of the world that makes it difficult to process or it makes it so that we are habitually pulling out a negative behavior.
Maybe it was a trauma instilled in us as a child, when we first learned something was wrong. Or maybe it was a trauma we dealt with as a youth, maybe in school or with other children in the playground, where we felt there was something wrong with me. Or maybe it was in young adulthood where our self-worth began to crumble when we began to judge ourselves by others’ standards.
However you came to be whoever you are in this world, I encourage you to explore, to rediscover who you were meant to be because at the end of the day if you are better as a person, as a leader, as whatever it is you are in this world or however you present yourself in this world you are only going to improve those around you as well.
Podcast episode interview with Mari Corona, of Living in MommyWood
This week I’m so excited! I am doing an interview Mari Corona, photographer and writer who empowers, motivates and inspires through images and words. So powerful! But that’s not the only reason- she’s also a strong advocate of Holistic Wellness, Self-Care & Creativity & using these mediums as Art Healing Therapy tools for manifesting her Best life.
And that’s what we’re getting into this week.
If you’d rather listen to the episode because it is so powerful, you can take a listen from the link below!
So you know there’s a lot to unpack.
This is a conversation that is full of truth, vulnerability, and intentionally aligning with who you are meant to be through the art of healing.
And that deserves a full break down and a full breadth of insight and peeling apart the layers.
And because today was the 46th Inauguration and we now have our first Madam Vice President I thought I’d share with you a letter I wrote for my daughter.
A Letter to my Daughter, on this Most Historic Day: Kamala Harris, a Woman of Color is Madam Vice President!
Today, was the Inauguration of the 46th president of the United States. While that’s significant, it’s not usually earth-shattering in my world.
But this time it’s different. This time there’s hope on the horizon.
For one, we are stepping out of the fog that was the 45th President, full of divisive language and rhetoric that created dangerous factions of unrest.
It was a constant test of just doing the next right thing- just like Anna says.
It wasn’t always easy. In fact, it sometimes took a source of strength I don’t think most are capable of exerting, so we fell into the norm of combative discourse.
The constant arguing and fighting was incessant. Maybe that word is too big but it was just constant.
But do you know what today means?
Today means that darkness has not won, it has not stayed. We proved we are capable of falling and getting back up.
There’s a healing that needs to happen, not just within the US but worldwide.
It’s a powerful feeling when you’re able to look back on the other side of trauma. We as people carry that around us, for so long. We feel resentful, angry, triggered by so much these days but those wounds didn’t begin in adulthood. They may not have even begun in your lifetime.
If you haven’t seen Frozen, just listen to the song The Next Right Thing from Frozen 2- it’s deep in the way you can express trauma and depression to children.
Just do the next right thing. Take a step, step again. It is all that I can to do. The next right thing. I won’t look too far ahead. It’s too much for me to take
Anna, The Next Right Thing, Frozen 2
Let’s All Do The Next Right Thing
Change doesn’t happen overnight, if it’s true, impactful and heals- it’s going to take time. That’s why it’s so important to heal before we move forward. And I mean really heal, not tout to the masses that they need unity. That’s just hiding the real problem underneath rhetoric without doing the real work.
Healing is uncomfortable and hard, because you have to pick at scabs you thought had healed but you just forgot about them. Or tried to, but I’m sure they came up in other ways. In lashing out at others, mistrust, hate, living with an angry cloud overhead.
I really believe we all resonate at a vibration unbeknownst to us, learned behavior molds and shapes how that vibration grows but when you are doing the work of healing, it really is beautiful on the other side.
Today we’re talking healing from trauma, we’re talking affirmations and prayer and manifestation for a better 2021 going forward.
If you’re interested in listening to the podcast version, click below!
Are we ready for change?
Today we’re talking healing from trauma, were talking affirmations and prayer and manifestation for a better 2021 going forward.
My name is Jessy Santana and I’m an organizational culture strategist, entrepreneur, mother. This is The Way We Work podcast, where we discuss all things at the intersection of knowledge-seeking curiosity, entrepreneurship and social impact.
After what happened last week at the Capitol Hill, if you call it insurrection, domestic terrorism, lunacy, misguided patriotism or outright xenophibic racism- it was a lot.
For me, watching it was so triggering. Literally, watching an open attack on what would normally have been a very boring process. Watching it and staying glued to the screen brought me back to high school, where we spent the entire day watching the Twin Towers fall and the devastation that followed. The visceral imagery of that mob full of anger and hate just broke my heart in a way I wasn’t ready for. Obviously not on the same scale but the trauma felt the same.
It also didn’t help that I had to also explain what has happening to my Chinese husband and Mother in law. And of course, the constitutional reasons as to why they were allowed to be there in the first place and the institutional racism and mismanagement that could have prevented it from happening. It was the most exhaustive American Government class I didn’t know I was going to give.
Fast forward and we’ve got impeachment again, as a form of accountability but does it really matter to someone that doesn’t seem to care or feel remorse for the situation. And without someone wanting to change can they really do so?
So a wonderful way to start the new year and I had such high hopes for the peaceful transition as its been called. Oh well, I’m sure they’ll be written in the history books and hope that they were on the right side. Moving on because I don’t have the energy to peel away the layers and layers of bullshit.
If we have never met before you may not know this about me but I am insatiably curious which has its benefits but also it’s faults. I am amazing at trivia- full of knowledge that doesn’t do much for the average person. But I am driven to learn for learning sake and the problem is that I can pour so much of myself into my learning that is sometimes doesn’t have a purpose it doesn’t Benefit me in whatever in someway I just learned this new random knowledge or skills. But this year I’ve decided to be intentional because I am more conscious of my time and my energy and I cannot give it away.
I came across a beautiful NYT article on “How to Rewire Your Traumatized Brain”, that spoke about a book entitled The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind and Body in the Healing of Trauma,” by Bessel van der Kolk, as a way for the author to understand her visceral reactions, her words, to the process of remembering her trauma.
“Dr. van der Kolk wrote on the three avenues for recovery: “top down, by talking, (re-) connecting with others, and allowing ourselves to know and understand what is going on with us”; “taking medicines that shut down inappropriate alarm reactions”; and “bottom up, by allowing the body to have experiences that deeply and viscerally contradict the helplessness, rage, or collapse that result from trauma.” Survivors usually need some combination of the three methods, writes Dr. van der Kolk, but the latter — the mind-body connection — is most neglected. His work is predicated on integrating body-focused treatments into trauma recovery work, like yoga, role-play, dance and meditation. Another method he suggests is writing and keeping a journal.”
This is exactly what I’ve been doing for 2020 and into 2021.
Especially as we start another round of lockdowns and curfews here in Montreal, I have noticed my greater level of resistance and anxiety.
These Are Things I’m Doing to Heal from Trauma
I meditate and pray. It sounds simple but it’s harder than it sounds. Sitting in silence is harder than it seems. Letting your mind wander and come back to your breath or using guided meditation. One of my new favorite apps is insight timer and there’s thousands of teachers and free courses or short audios that can help with anything from anxiety to sleep. It’s really amazing.
I also am a big believer in writing. Getting the thoughts out of your brain as if you were emptying a jar to be reused again but at least the thoughts got out. My favorite time to journal is in the quiet of the morning. If I can get some writing done before the rest of the house is awake- it makes me so much productive and at ease.
Movement- like Dr. Van der Kolk describes you just need something physical to get you out of your mind. Don’t sit in it. Or if you have find a way to get out. This one is harder because hibernation has set in but just find 30 minutes somewhere. They don’t have to be consecutive. Just 10 minutes here and there and you’ll be gold. For me, blasting some good dance music and doing some Zumba moves or dancing with my husband and daughter definitely clear the cobwebs. How could it not?
Some other things I do are affirmations. These are sayings or phrases you repeat in order to restructure your thinking. That’s how I see it anyway. It’s powerful once you start allowing yourself to begin the journey of healing. It sounds ridiculous but sometimes the affirmations we have already said to ourselves so many times before- this is just how I am, if you’re not for me then you’re against, I’m not good enough.
Those are all harmful affirmations that we tell ourselves over and over until they become truth. And once you allow yourself to begin believing even before you believe, to start working towards this mindset things are just going to start happening.
So if you head over to my IG @theway_wework you’ll see some of the healing affirmations I have been using and I’ll also post it on the website, here!
What are manifestations? Manifestations are the action that we take upon the positive affirmations that we tell her selves. Again Affirmations are sometimes called mantras sometimes or called prayers sometimes they’re the negative misnomers or stereotypes that we start to believe about ourselves. We say things like this is how I am or I can never change or one of the worst ones there’s something wrong with me.
We can all acknowledge that nobody’s perfect but for some reason there has been an a simulated idea of perfection that has caused us to believe in an ideal an ideal of relationship, and ideal of what we should look like, and ideal of who we are meant to be. And the problem with ideals is it they are unachievable by nature that’s what makes them ideal. Nobody sees the blood sweat and tears that happens before they walk on stage.
Nobody sees the depression or the days of not getting out of bed because it’s just too hard. Nobody seems to want to talk about the times where we over consumedOn things that we know are bad for us but we chose them anyway.
Once you start positive affirmations and you start telling yourself good will happen, I am enough, I can heal again and again until you believe it. You will start doing things in your best interest by default because that default will be reprogrammed.
You are rewriting the foundational work on which to build a more resilient and powerful you. I believe it because it’s working for me.
We are all works in progress but if we work on ourselves to heal in our own bodies. The outside world can bring about its worst but human potential will be limitless. We just have to understand it won’t be easy, it will hurt and it may seem easier to give up but the transformation on the other side is where the real magic begins.
Why is it so difficult to genuinely care about our colleagues?
After the events of last week, the Insurrection at Capitol Hill, I was surprised by how many people reacted by saying don’t ask me how I feel about it. Conflict is hard, but it is also an opportunity for growth- if we allow it to be. That means being honest about what this moment was for all of us and not hiding behind the rhetoric.
I know that conversations can sometimes make us feel like there’s no point, we’ve had the same conversations over and over again. Screaming at the top of our lungs saying Racism is a real thing in the US, not a figment of our imagination.
I don’t think anyone can look at those rioters and say there wasn’t anger there, blame and hate. In whatever they got swept into the mob mentality, it was too late for many of them to know how to say no, and they should be met with consequences.
But for the rest of us, there’s another choice entirely.
Xenophobia aside, we have gotten to a place in the US where we can not genuinely care for each other. We cannot genuinely and authentically learn from each other. We cannot share hopes and visions for a better tomorrow.
That’s the lie we have been told.
There is no greatest shared experience than our humanity. We all hurt, we all want consoling and we want others to care about what we care about- it’s human nature.
Bringing Humanity Back into our Work
I don’t know when it was decided that we were all meant to be stone-faced cold-hearted cogs in the machine, unfeeling during our 9-5s even through adversity.
I admit, whenever I felt emotional at work- I hid out in the bathroom until the moment passed. But why? Why is it inappropriate to care about our fellow human beings that we work with? Especially when we spend more time with them than our own families? To me, it doesn’t make sense.
Professionalism, shouldn’t mean we can’t have intentional conversations about the state of the world. We need to because the world affects us all. If you need a mediator, find one.
But understand this, no matter the political affiliations, everyone was affected by what happened at the Capitol. We all experienced a collective trauma and if you watch the news at all- it may be on continuous loop.
If you need guidance in having Intentional Conversations for Change check this out!
3 Signs That You May Need to Ask for Help
This is hard, because we have all been taught that asking for help is a sign of weakness- it’s not. It’s a sign of personal awareness, knowing our limitations.
If you feel anxious, can’t concentrate and find it hard to stay on task- it may be time to ask for help.
Trauma, and we cannot say this moment in history is not a collective acute trauma and until we feel safe, it will continue to harm those most vulnerable.
Feelings of being unsafe in your bodies or relationships
If you’re feeling the way I am, it can be difficult to understand the state of the world right now. Feeling as if you are not safe from your anxious thoughts, relationships with those around you are affected and you may be wary of those around you. Do what you need to keep your energy and yourself safe, whatever that means for you.
We need to remember and mourn for what was lost
The process of grieving looks a little different for everyone. Some of us ignore it and push on, some of us focus on work and never look back, some of us find ourselves incapable of moving forward. What if there was an alternative?
We need to acknowledge what was lost: From the lives lost. A sense of safety in democracy. The naïveté that some had in assuming it couldn’t get worse, and therefore enabling the behaviors that led to this moment.
It’s ok to mourn for the loss of what we thought our world was.
Reconnecting and Integrating with a New Sense of Self
Who we were as a nation on January 5, 2021 is not the same as who are post-January 6, 2021. In the same way, we cannot go back to pre-Covid times and we shouldn’t want to. So many of us shy away from using conflict as an opportunity for growth, in ways that do not resolve anything but rather pushes down trauma so that it bubbles in destructive ways later.
Every time some thing happens that is traumatic and a source of pain or conflict, we have the habit of ignoring the conflict and finding immediate solutions to make the pain go away. While it may feel good in the moment, the pain has not been resolved- the hurt still lies there just below the surface.
Instead of ignoring the signs of trauma, reconnect and integrate with who you might be now. Are you a person that still supports the divisive rhetoric that could incite a mob to break into the Capitol Building? Are you a person that still refuses to acknowledge the deep divide between how people of color are treated by law enforcement is different, especially at scale? Are you a person that still believes the simplified versions of catchy lies that have no scientific backing or proof to stand on?
I know that I am a different version of myself in 2021 and I have not been able to focus as much as I was planning to thus far. I have not been to walk away from the ongoings on the news but the sake of my sanity, I need to.
These are things I am personally doing, in trying to heal from reliving the trauma of Capitol Hill.
Do not let the News be the first thing you listen to in the morning
Instead, I start my day with meditation and prayer. I am really loving the Insight Timer app. It has tons of teachers and guided meditations for all your needs.
Allow Movement to Get You Out of Your Head
I’m a big fan of movement to help you do something that’s not just cerebral. I spend the majority of my day thinking, I’m sure we all do, on what to write about, what to make for dinner, which marketing tool is better etc. Movement helps us to change our train of thought. In the same way, that we can lose our focus when the phone rings- we can use our brain’s ‘stop function‘ to distract ourselves for a bit.
That’s why I often play loud dance music and dance with my daughter or Zumba for the hell of it!
Do Something Fun
If Zumba isn’t your jam, try something you do find enjoyable. Spend time reading, creating art, doodling. Something that uses the creative parts of our brains. One of my favorite is drawing with my daughter and making cards for my 91-year old grandmother. If you can learn to get silly and step away from the hurt, it can help you on your journey of healing. But know that it’s temporary, but that’s ok. That’s what makes Joy special.
As we in Montreal, go into another lockdown, I’m practicing these not only to keep my monsters at bay but also because I’m worried. Not only for myself and what it means to be a US Citizen these days, but also for my daughter and what kind of world we are creating for her.
It may be too late for some, but I’m hoping reason will triumph in the end.
Yesterday, was a dark day in American History, no matter where you were entertainment was halted as a seemingly normal business day where the state of affairs was meant to be bumpy but proceed with very little fanfare. That was not the case as during the middle of proceedings and even in mid-sentence pro-Trump supporters gained access to the Capitol Building in Washington, DC.
While it was shocking, was it surprising?
What happens when you force-feed individuals political rhetoric that subverts, hides and even outright lies? What happened yesterday was the culmination of deep-rooted hate, misinformation, and baseless lies filtered through algorithms whose sole purpose is to match like to like (meaning based on your online persona, they handhold you to places of distrust).
Like 9/11, this is a traumatic event and for me, that same feeling of shock and heartbreak over institutions and safety. The triggers are all there: incessantly watching the news all day for fear of missing something important (we spent the day watching and I had to explain the historical, cultural, and political significance of the moment to my Chinese-born family), reaching out to family and friends to try and understand the chaos, and trying to cope using better mental health practices (which I wish I had known then).
What Happens Now
This morning, there’s more coverage trying to make sense of the what, how, and who and every possible angle of what occurred yesterday.
Understand this: There are people throughout the world who saw the events yesterday as a collectively triggering and traumatic event.
For people who may have first-hand knowledge of riots and toppled governments. For people that see what is occurring in the US as another notch in the continuous onslaught of hate and exclusion. For people like me, that work in Inclusion and Belonging, and think of our children and the work we do may not be enough, not nearly enough.
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
— Martin Luther King, Jr.
Look Within and Reach Out
Know that yesterday’s events were an act of hate- plain and simple. I had trouble sleeping so this morning wrote a letter to my daughter on my personal blog because I worry about the kind of world we are creating for her.
If you need help to process, like I do- reach out. There are so many of us that are simply in shock, not surprise, but still shocked.
If you have access to mental health services or a counselor or therapist- reach out.
If you are impacted, let your employer know because they should also be reaching out- no matter who you are.
Employers Reach out to your Employees
Sometimes we get caught up in our titles and create this division of authority that separates us, but we are all people. People with feelings, ideas, and different understanding of the way the world works but no matter your political affiliations- we are people.
And just beneath the surface of all that hate- is hurt.
We need to stop pretending and spreading this false narrative that strength means aggression, that we need to be take from others in order to have, and we need to hurt others in order to heal ourselves.
Sorry, it does not work that way.
Know that you will lower levels of efficiency today, less engagement and more emotional and mental distress amongst your employees because we all experienced trauma and have yet to have processed it.
I am not a mental health professional, but I know being silent on this will cost you.
I leave with these words from Seth Meyers, who was angered and shaken by yesterday’s events.
After some much needed emotional and mental healing I’m back and rejuvenated for this new year of the culture-driven leader!
If you’d rather listen to the podcast- click on the link below!
This time of year is always filled with new plans, new goals and passions we want to make happen this year because this will be the year different from all years before it right?
I’m a big fan of shaking the cobwebs and learning from what didn’t work before and how we might improve? So what’s the obsession with resolutions? Is it appropriate when we may not know what the year may hold? This year or any year? How different are we on January 1st from December 31st?
That amount of pressure to put on ourselves and those around us never sat well with me but what we can do is understand where we are and where we want to be and how to get there.
In this week’s episode we’re doing a deep dive into behavior change. What does it look like and if we can achieve it?
My Plans…are you in?
Things I’m working on and how you can be a part of the process but first, some strategies for intention setting instead of resolutions we’ll never hear from again.
Making decisions can be difficult for many when we have so many options in front of us. The dental care aisle is my worst nightmare with it’s myriad of choices that differ very little from each other. Mint or spearmint? Green or blue? Does it really matter?
But when it comes to hard decisions actual decisions that impact your life from what to study, what industry to go for work, if the job is worth the micro aggressions or the slow mediocre promotional track?
According to Ruth Chang, a philosopher and a professor of jurisprudence at Oxford University, she has this theory on decision making that I love.
First, what’s the difference between a big choice and a hard choice?
Big Choice: Life-saving surgery is big but not usually hard if you want to continue living. Right?
Hard Choice: Two decisions that are very similar- two jobs, living in two different cities, etc. Both have pros and cons but neither is definitively better than the other, but choosing one and committing to it is the part that makes it hard.
While choosing one and wistfully regretting not taking the road less traveled makes the decision process unbearable.and for many it makes us live life with a feeling of regret or contemplating if we’ve made the right choice for ourselves.
This insecurity in decisionmaking is a long believed stereotype of millennials among others but can often derail us completely if not riddle us with anxiety over our big life decisions.
Be the Author of your life. Author being an acronym for
A is ascertain what’s important. Who’s opinion matters such as your parents or if there’s a certain goal or career type you’re looking to achieve. Totally get both of those angles.
U is for understand the pros and cons with respect to what matters. But remember these are options that may be similar in standing so finding those deep pros and cons may be more difficult than we realize.
T is for tally up the pros and cons, another not small feat depending on the hard decision.
H is for hone in on the fact that it’s a hard choice- the options are on par with each other no option is definitively better than another. Choosing a promotion in Germany vs taking the same position at another company for some may be relatively similar depending on career plans but they are both relatively great options as long as you keep A in mind.
O is for open yourself up to the possibility of making a commitment, this is where Chang lays it down. Commitment in making a choice makes all the difference.
R is for remake yourself as someone who or realize yourself as someone who has committed to a choice. If you choose the Germany position, you would have to be a person that has committed to agreeing to a promotion in Germany versus being a person that takes the same job at another organization. Neither is bad but they both have very different potential realities.
As a person that spent 6 years in a foreign country I know this very near and dear to my heart. Had I stayed, I might be in the same circles that I was in before I left like most people I found from back home. But the alternative? Let me to meet my husband, now have a daughter and be with you now living in my 4 country.
What I love about this strategy for decisionmaking is that she’s not telling you what to do- that’s up to you. But what she is saying is that commitment is key. Realize yourself as a person that is this person.
How does this relate to new year plans and behaviour?
We all know that intention is only a piece of the puzzle. You hope to make a change this year? Great but how can you actually do so? You have to commit to that change.
Easier said than done right?
Of course, everything that requires introspection and commitment always is.
So what if we took that same level of commitment for something we wanted to achieve this year? It can be anything but it should be something you actually want and are willing to commit to.
It doesn’t have to be big. Start small. Use those smart goals we all know about.
Specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time bound.
I was able to achieve so much of what I planned on in 2020 because I started prioritizing and learning strategic methods of working on the one thing.
Highly suggest it because the truth is not all lists are created equal, learning to prioritize and figuring out what works best for you is the number one way to learn how to change behavior. It doesn’t happen all at once, it may not happen as quickly as you hoped but if you commit and allow yourself to learn from the process, it’ll make all the difference.
For Organizations and Employees
Another note as employees return from holidays and staycations because let’s face it where did we go? But anyway, remember all those commitments and intentions that companies set out for themselves last year? Increasing and retaining more diverse talent, working to close the gender equity gap, equal pay for equal work, promoting more people of color to c-suite, etc. At the bare minimum releasing their diversity numbers so you know who you’re getting into bed with.
Now that the new year has started remind them that those intentions still need to be held accountable. DEI is not new but its priority has slipped from many organizations’ front page.
It happens to the best of us, we move on- especially when we are not directly impacted by it. We need to make sure to remind our employers and the organizations we work in that it matters to all of us because inclusion is not only the burden of people of color or marginalized peoples. It really is the responsibility of everyone.
We all know innovation happens when we bring in new ideas our products speak to our customers in better ways, our bottom line increases because at the end of the day inclusion means being intentional and choosing to remake yourself as the person or your organization as that which has made the commitment to inclusion and not regretting that choice. Because the alternative no longer exists.
We can all admit 2020 was a special kind of year, one some wish we could have passed over, written off or or slept through. With rampant pandemic cases, record-breaking unemployment and economic troubles all around but what if there was another option?
If you want to hear some reflection and introspection on 2020, listen to The Way We Work podcast! Like, review and share!
Change is Possible
We stepped into 2020 thinking it was just going to be another year of monotonous gear grinding and day in, day out mentality. Feeling like a cog in a machine? No worries, 2020 would fix that, for the better or worst. So there’s a virus that comes up and takes over the world, basically and unless you’ve been living on a deserted island you know what I’m talking about.
The upside? If there is one. Is this- Change is possible.
Once lockdowns were put in place and things came to a standstill in this apocalyptic reality. We can all admit it was weird to see metropolises and main squares completely empty with not a soul in sight.
But something else happened too. Companies, big and small, pivoted. For some it was easier than others and technology that was previously not common made all the difference. Hello- Zoom! But Work from Home became Work at Home. Industries that had previously disdained the possibility of flex schedules, remote work and needed deep separation between the personal and professional lives of their employees. Those same industries have now learned to embrace- a little, that we need more. We need more as individuals, as employees and as contributors to the economy of our respective countries.
Things that couldn’t have happened without people and companies coming together to enact change, quickly and in solidarity for the greater good:
There are companies that have weighed the benefits of full remote and have decided that’s the direction they want to go in now.
Adapting to change, while difficult, always has an opportunity for growth. Some companies even did well in 2020, and yes- it skews to tech because they were more easily able to quickly shift and adapt but they aren’t the only ones.
Change is also possible when it comes to social justice and equity. One of the hottest jobs in 2020 seemed to be Diversity and Inclusion and yes, we know it’s not perfect. Most of the positions are performative and siloed in HR, but, they exist when they didn’t before. Companies react to what their customers and their boards want and guess what? They have spoken!
Mental Health was Demystified and De-Stigmatized
While many found themselves unemployed, dealing with the anxiety of lockdowns, and rushing to prepare for the end times, something happened for all of us. Maybe it was the relentless news or the possibility of death if you walked out your door, or the countless zoom meetings that caused burn out and created a new word, Zoom Fatigue. But while we had time to sit at home and ponder things more and more of us released we were not ok and started reaching out.
The truth is mental health is often deemed a luxury for a lot of people, seeing the need as something that can wait but 2020 has shown us that there are a lot of cracks in that logic, especially when health care doesn’t really seem to be able to cope with the mass amounts of people that are still drifting their way through.
I am a firm believer that the generational trauma of 2020 will continue to ripple, simply because most of us have never needed to be introspective or have difficult conversations with ourselves because we could always fill the silence. And if you’re still trying to get through the fog, maybe it’s time to learn some coping mechanisms that may work for you.
My favorite are meditation and learning to have deep conversations with yourself, through writing or journaling and with others. We long for deep connections, that’s the human way.
One of the most important lessons of 2020, is that it is possible for anyone to fall into the traps of anxiety and depression- and I’m sure we all felt it in some way or another. Maybe it manifested as working for hours on end with no breaks because you didn’t know what else to do, not wanting to eat well, or binge-watching all of Netflix (that was a vice of mine).
However, it looked like for you- know that there are services, some companies extended mental health outreach and gave greater access for their employees, and I’ve found even social media has had a place in mental health de-stigmatizing. As long as you take the truths shared with a grain of salt. It’s still not complete reality.
Resilience is my New Favorite Word
Not because it means overcoming challenges, but for the other meaning: Elasticity. We were all pulled in many different directions this year, in ways we didn’t know were possible. We were asked to care for our neighbors, to care for our community and ourselves in ways we had never done before.
I lived in China for a long time, so wearing a mask for me was not a big deal, but for some it was an audacious request. Being told to stay home and spend time alone or with family and find new and interesting ways to pass the time. Some people were ingenious with their solutions. Working while balancing a toddler on one’s lap was an experience, I’m sure I’m not the only one who found myself thrust into parenthood with no reprieve. Reconnecting with old friends or reaching out to new ones while attending virtual conferences or networking was fun, although exhausting.
No matter which direction we were pulled, we learned. What works, what doesn’t. How to manage our time or how we’re really not. Tough decisions were made, ones we may still be feeling the pangs of, but there were also moments of freedom and liberation. At the end of this year, while we sit in reflection remember that we still made it.
We were pulled to our limits and beyond but humanity survived. And if we can move forward into 2021, remember that resilience, that strength that will take us forward into this new year.
We may have suffered tragedy upon tragedy but we continue, nonetheless.
We may never be able to return to the pre-covid times of our memories, and why would we? They weren’t that great to begin with, but what we can do is take the lessons learned and move in a better direction.
That person who helps others simply because it should or must be done, and because it is right thing to do, is indeed without a doubt, a real superhero.
This holiday season will be difficult for everyone. There’s no doubt. Whether you’re staying home for safety’s sake or being forced to by the government of where you live. The holidays have never looked like this.
Even the years I spent in China, a country that saves its cheer for Chinese New Year, I could usually find a group of friends and a home or a karaoke to celebrate Christmas in. This year, however, the cheer has fizzled out of the grandeur that normally is the festivities this year.
I, for one can’t go home for Christmas, the border is still closed between the US and Canada. So my mother’s infamous Christmas party decorations and merriment will have to wait until next year. Replaced by my sad little tree and twinkle lights. Honestly, there’s no comparison but there’s also no presents because my husband doesn’t understand the concept of waiting to unwrap gifts and has opened every package that’s arrived- there goes the surprise!
We’ve been lucky and grateful in this year for many reasons, we’ve struggled but we’ve managed, others may be not.
Last summer when I started hosting the Beyond BLM: Actionable Steps for Change series, one of the panelists mentioned that no one had checked in with her just to see if she was ok, and it would have been incredible if someone had. When she felt she could handle going public, she did and the comments and calls of support followed, but the toll on her emotional and mental health had already occurred.
The holiday season is always one that is filled with a tinge of darkness just beneath the surface. We all get distracted by the holiday movies, the dinners and parties but loneliness is especially high during the holidays. I imagine this year, numbers will peak. Especially for those that may be quarantining alone.
Mental health has already become precarious in 2020. According to the Mental Health America, The number of people looking for help with anxiety and depression has skyrocketed. Even in Canada, pre-Covid, 1 in 5 Canadians needed help with mental illness, according to the Canada Mental Health Association.
Don’t let the year finish without reaching out, if you do need help or even if you don’t. The worst feeling of regret is always wishing you had reached out to those you thought might be struggling.
Last week, I reached out to an old friend and she admitted that while she was at work all day, she found her off time had little activity and she was glad for the conversation. What was supposed to be a 30 minute discovery call ended up being an hour and a half, let’s talk about everything call.
I remember that feeling from the start of the pandemic when we saw no one, didn’t leave except for the weekly grocery run. My husband and I had to learn to speak deeply to each other again, not having done that in a while. Another reason to be grateful this year.
But reach out and genuinely speak with one person this year, it might benefit you more than you realize.
And if you need more than just a helping hand reach out to those services that offer more. There is no shame in realizing you need help, we all do in different ways.
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