I applied for a promotion at work last week. To some, this probably seems like the logical next step in a retail career that has spanned three decades. To others, however, it might seem like I’ve pivoted in the opposite direction of my dream to walk away from corporate America in a few years. Not that I should put stock in opinions about how I live my life, but these differing opinions mirror what is happening in my own heart and mind.
I’ve been reading (or should I say “listening to”) Quitter by Jon Acuff. In a true when-the-student-is-ready-the-teacher-will-appear moment, one of my January retreat goers mentioned that I might find the book helpful.
She was right.
The first half of the book was a harsh look at the reality that comes with the freelance or entrepreneurial lifestyle. It wore on me and there were plenty of mental eye rolls (because I was driving, the physical kind were kept at bay).
On my drive to the Austin airport this week, Acuff hit the heart of the matter for me and offered a perspective which completely shifted my attitude. To paraphrase: the enthusiasm, talent and joy we find (or don’t) at work spills over into our personal lives. In other words, the monotony I was feeling around my current projects were informing my attitude toward so many small business tasks. Not a good place to be having just relaunched my The Brave Kind brand.
I stopped to consider my day job. What do I dislike? Harassing people to “buy stuff.” I feel the same way about continuing to peddle services that nobody is booking. What do I like? Building business cases and visually appealing presentations to help people understand how it makes sense for us to partner. It’s everything I love about the event planning for retreats.
The promotion at work, should I get it, is centered on strategic planning and helping to organize the team’s efforts. Every month or two this year, I will bring small groups together on our farm to unite for a common goal. I can see how each opportunity for personal development is intertwined with the other.
When I started the book Quitter, I thought it was going to be a lesson in gratitude and I’d be forced to humbly accept that a steady paycheck is best. These recent chapters, however, are helping me celebrate the “both…and” mindset that has surfaced occasionally since creating The Brave Kind.
I can be of maximum service to others…and still contribute value to a team that is focused on profit.
I can lead women on monthly events…and hone those skills through team leadership at work.
I can pursue paid public speaking…and have more relatable experience to share with other professional leaders.
An anecdote Acuff shares in his book is returning from a speaking engagement and having to reluctantly don his work khakis before heading back into the office. His wife told him that Superman couldn’t exist without Clark Kent. It gave him a lens into human nature.
My mind immediately went to the stunning Lynda Carter who wowed me as a child with her superpowers. In Gal Gadot’s reprise of the role in Wonder Woman:1984, the film focuses far more on her “day job” as a museum curator. For me, it is proof that I can excel at both ideas: contributing to the nation’s economy and wielding my superpowers of authenticity, courage and kindness to save the humans in it.