A wonderful client was struggling recently with how to define herself, in relation to work.
Through coaching, she had been gradually moving away from her “old self”, who thrived on approval and feared being punished, to a “new self”. This new and authentic self was not interested in seeking approval or avoiding conflict: instead it resonated with simplicity and serenity.
She had tried the old ways of working (which were seductive) and realised that she could no longer commit to that kind of role, and be true to her authentic self. So she finished her contract and stepped into the unknown.
However her “new self” does not come with a clear set of instructions. She was willing to be with the unknown consciously and with courage, yet she lacked a way of describing it that made sense to her and others.
She was not working full time or part-time. She was not between contracts. She was not on sabbatical. She was not participating in the paid workforce or running her own business. She was not in development or on hiatus. She was not a “lady of leisure” or “housewife”.
She was simply making herself available, moment by moment, to those who needed her and what she was here to serve: even if that was not always immediately clear to herself or others.
Together we held the space to see what would emerge. I admit I was struggling with the concept when these words just burst from her mouth. “I am consciously living an authentic life.” And I got chills.
What she had named goes beyond the language and labels we usually have to describe our way of being: we are our job title or our chosen career. Just like in the nursery rhyme, we are, “butcher, baker or candlestick maker.” Our authentic selves move beyond these definitions.
Being in the world, especially the world of work, without easy-to-read labels takes courage. It is saying to the world: I am not going to be defined in a way that makes sense to you. I am going to hold myself outside your paradigm, awaiting the signs of what I am here to do, what purpose I am here to serve.
Every day as my clients find themselves walking the path to their authentic self, I am inspired by their courage and willingness to go into the unknown.
Just like them, I too am moving beyond the known into finding out what I am here to do.
When I started Albany Lane, I worked more from the known place: leadership, strategy, policy. I thought that is where I would find work: I had good networks in this area, I knew what I was talking about, there was an understood market for this kind of work, I could charge reasonable fees.
Then life happened and instead I find myself working with wonderful people, in all different stages of their lives. They are dealing with issues relating to self-belief, making difficult choices, finding time for themselves, being available for others. They are dealing with fear, anger and sadness. They are acknowledging their passions and dreams. They are leaving parts of themselves behind, and stepping into unknown paths.
By seeing firsthand the courage of my clients to live lives of purpose and meaning, to consciously live authentic lives, I have been inspired to let go of my known world and step out somewhere new. In following their dreams, tapping into their creativity, they have given me the confidence to go on a different path too.
I am embracing my own passions in life: for equity and fairness, for compassion, for self-care. I am seeking out people with whom I most love to work: caring and courageous women. I am giving myself space to write and create, not as an add-on after the “proper work” has been done, but as a priority in my working week and day. Instead of trying to do it all, I have organised the support I need from experts in marketing, business systems and strategy. I am saying YES to what speaks to my heart, and NO to anything else.
This way of working has inspired and energised me. My weeks and days seem longer, and my productivity is up. I no longer feel overwhelmed by what “should” be done. I am more willing to be seen, to take chances, to speak up and be heard. While some of the work is difficult and challenging, it is oddly effortless too.
Step by step I can join with my clients and partners, so I too can say “I am consciously living an authentic life”.
Let me know if you would like to join us on this path.