This past week, I had a lot of opportunities to test out the elevator speech for the new role I am trying to create for myself in the next chapters of my life. During my work’s big congress in Vancouver it was openly discussed that I would no longer liaise for my committees as I will be departing from the company. This naturally resulted in a lot of questions as to what my plans for the future are.
Knowing that this day would arrive, I had taken the time to write up a strategic plan for my next endeavors, complete with tasks, action items and measurable goals. I had also drafted a vision and mission statement for the work I would like to do in this world. Up to last week, I had read the statement to myself several times a week to see how it would resonate inside of me. This was the first time that I had to verbalize it out loud over and over again. The reactions were as varied as the people, who asked me in the first place.
My summary went something like this: “I am planning to do something on my own in the field of self-development. My aim is to help people identify and overcome the mental obstacles that prevent them from discovering and pursuing their true passion in life”.
Reactions of the healthcare professionals I currently work with ranged from an “Okay”, followed by a shoulder shrug, over a “Well, entrepreneurship is the American way…” to someone who was head over heels in developing a program right in front of my eye that I should consider teaching to her PhD students and fellows. Interestingly enough, each of those comments was energizing in its own way. The first one brought out the fighter in me, who thought that I will proof to this person that what I want to do is truly possible and will make a difference in people’s lives. The second comment made me laugh. I know it was meant genuinely by the person, although he is well aware that I am not an American. I know he appreciates determination and hard work. I decided to take it as an incentive to display both on my new path. And with a few additional questions to the last person, I quickly realized that the program she wanted for her students was also something she has insecurities with herself. We continued the conversation and it turned into a very good exchange that let me highlight the strength that I see this person already possessing that would support her in her areas of insecurity. What a wonderful random conversation to have that left both of us more energized.
Having to outwardly identify with my new role and vision for the first time in a larger crowd, set me into a little bit of an overdrive. I think there might have been some of the old “proof to others that you know what you are doing and that they have to take you serious” showing its face. I felt that I had to put my skills on display 24/7. Since congresses have long hours, this meant a lot of hours in a week to be on display. Since I generally strive on intentional conversations, I was very aware to make space in every conversation I had to allow for more than small talk and give people a place to connect on a deeper level. In an intense situation like a congress, where jet lag and long hours of work are involved, people are more willing to show their authentic emotions. While I myself felt more connected than in a long time, my overdrive mode forgot the fact that I am a true introvert. I need alone time to recharge my batteries and be the best listener I can be for others. By the end of the week, I felt on a higher high than I have felt in a long time, while at the same time having my whole body shut down in complete and entire exhaustion.
There were so many lessons for my new path this week. I am grateful each that every one of them was presented to me to teach me something valuable for moving forward.
Having to explain the role I am writing for myself out loud, is making it more of a reality. But I also have to give myself the permission to make adjustments to my new role and not see it as an end all be all, just because it was spoken out loud. I was grateful for having been thrown into such an interactive situation, where conversations with people were unavoidable and provided ample opportunities for me to truly connect with others. The energy this brought to me is almost indescribable. But I have to not forget the roots of my personality along the way and what I need to allow myself to be a good listener and provide a positive light to impact others in times of stress.
I am realizing that new roles can hold so much excitement that we sometimes can lose ourselves in them and forget the other roles that have served us well for a long time. It will be important to make room for all the parts that make up the new me. If I only nurture the ones that are there for “others”, I risk losing myself again and turning my passion into a cage for which I am handing the key over to people outside of myself.
I already know this doesn’t work, so my new rule is to find moderation and balance of the different parts that make up the new me.
Vancouver was a perfect place for this lessons, as city, mountains and the ocean show that putting different parts of yourself together in perfect harmony is possible.