The Leadership Transition of Jeff Bezos – 5 Lessons for Us Regular People

You don’t have to run the largest (and increasingly controversial) company to be thoughtful about succession planning. You don’t have to be a techie, a founder, or even the GOAT (Greatest of All Time) to learn some important lessons in leadership.

Jeff Bezos announced last week that he would step down as CEO, elevating his long-time second into the role of CEO. Bezos will stay engaged at a greater distance, focusing on strategy, new products and larger questions of company direction in his new role as Executive Chairman.

So, what can us regular people learn from this transition? A few things to consider:

+ What’s your plan for institutional knowledge? Not all of us can choose our successor and groom them for 10+ years, but we can begin to transfer our knowledge. (The earlier, the better to prevent feeling so overwhelmed!) All of that stuff that only exists in your head is valuable. It’s also stressful and heavy. Ensure that someone else can access that information, either through a central depository or through verbal download, or both. Bonus: you don’t have to wake up in the middle of the night, worried about all the things that completely depend on you.

+ Know thyself. Why do you love this work, or do you? What lights you up? If you keep tabs on what’s interesting and powerful for you, then you’ll be able to envision a more focused future. Well-known for being extremely hands-on, Bezos isn’t walking away entirely. He’s refocusing and honing that energy on the future of the company. Bonus: this clarity might also help to prevent burnout.

+ More than a pretty face. Your shareholders, colleagues or the larger community may blur the line between ‘you’ and ‘the organization’ – but this doesn’t have to be a permanent state. First determine to what extent this is true through honest conversations and/or the help of a third party. Then find ways to elevate and give credit to your stellar teammates. Bonus: giving genuine praise and support to others is good for you too.

+ Relationships matter. Emotional intelligence isn’t usually measured in your quarterly reports or annual review but the challenges of change are rooted in emotion. Whether we admit it or not, business is not devoid of feelings – tension, fear, anxiety, excitement, guilt, anticipation, hope, and more. Strong relationships can open up new options for growth, advancement, and stepping back or stepping out. Bonus: you’re more likely to get the benefit of the doubt and a little grace on a bad day, if you have strong relationships.

+ Philanthropy now! Giving back and supporting a better world doesn’t have to wait until you reach some particular milestone. Lead by example now and create depth to your work and perspective. See Mackenzie Scott.

It can be intimidating to think about changing your status and responsibilities. And whether you proactively think about it or not, change is inevitable. Take some of the potential sting out by preparing for the future and reap the bonus rewards now!

Interested in learning more about navigating leadership or life transitions? Let’s set up a free chat!

ARGH!! Four Things to do with your Quarantine Frustrations

Are you seething a little bit? Feel a low (or high) level burning as you get through your day? Find yourself numbing out or snapping at whoever is convenient? I just snapped at my cat. I feel you.

This is hard. The stress is real.

Frustration and anger is not bad. You are not bad for feeling those things. Those emotions are trying to get your attention. Here’s 4 ways to demystify the beast within:

1. Get it out of your head Journal, vent to a good friend or a safe virtual group, paint it out.

2. Peel it back What exactly is annoying the crap out of you? What is hurting you or leaving you feeling anxious? No judgement. But keep digging so that you can be as specific as possible.

3. Decide what’s right for you, right now Should you address it now, should you cool off first, or can you just let it go? What’s the right timing? You are in charge. Make the decision that is right for you.

4. MOST IMPORTANT – Notice it. Stop ignoring what you are trying to tell yourself. Things that were already a burr under your saddle are now Big Freaking Problems. (Thanks quarantine!) Instead of pretending that’s not true and will just go away, notice these pain points. What can you learn from them? What are they trying to tell you about your life and the sources of your unhappiness and anxiety? 

No judgments or shame. What we are feeling makes sense – and can spur us to greater creativity and positive action in our own lives.

Something’s Coming – Tune In

Photo Credit: Randy ORourke on Unsplash
Photo Credit: Randy ORourke

Hey y’all – 

I’ve spent the last few days touching base with clients and friends and colleagues. We’ve been having intense conversations where the only thing we know is…we don’t know. There’s so much that we don’t know.

But here’s the interesting undercurrent I want to share – in the midst of all the unknowing, there is some deep clarity taking shape. Maybe it’s not here yet, but it’s forming. Maybe you are seeing some of this yourself?

Have you noticed –

  • Things that used to be important have suddenly fallen off of your ‘To Do’ list?
  • Your focus has shifted
  • You’ve let go of things
  • Your feelings are closer to the surface
  • You are seeing certain relationships, structures and ‘impossible’ things in a new light?

This moment is an opportunity. 

The cool thing is that this opportunity doesn’t put more pressure on you. You are already doing the work – I’m simply asking you to notice it. Take it seriously. Write down the shifts you are noticing, without judgement. Allow yourself to imagine the future. You don’t have to do anything about it today. In fact, you probably can’t do a whole lot today. But dreaming is an important component to creation. It allows you be intentional when the moment comes to act.

What are you noticing about your new patterns? What ideas about how you want to work and interact with the world are surfacing? 

I encourage you to simply notice what is happening to you. What is changing? What has remained?

It’s ok to take what you are learning and weave it into a vision of the life you want. How do you want your life to have meaning and impact? There is no right answer – there is simply the answer that only you can create. 

Rest friends – take care of yourself. 

Change is happening. Embrace the creativity of transition.

What are Your 20’s Going to Look Like?

It’s almost 2020. 

Photo by Austin Chan on Unsplash

Somehow, the 20’s became a magical decade. Many people never mature out of them or at least never admit to it. Perhaps the Roaring ‘20’s still capture our imagination. Maybe we just like the idea of a younger, more carefree version of ourselves. 

Let’s call bullshit, shall we?

Let’s stop looking back nostalgically, or expectantly, or worshipfully. The truth is, wherever you are now, is perfect. It’s exactly where you should be to learn and grow in the ways that you specifically need. You’ve earned your way to this very spot. It is not good or bad, it just is. And it’s yours to live.

But that doesn’t mean that you have to stay. 

Maybe that’s already painfully obvious to you. Maybe life and transition is happening to you right now, whether you feel ready or not. 

Maybe:

  • A parent requires your caregiving and suddenly you’re not sure if you can handle being both a ‘child of’ and a ‘caregiver of’ (not to mention ‘partner of’, ‘colleague of’, etc.)
  • You have a new job or your work life is changing or you got a longed for promotion that’s scaring the pants off of you.
  • You are thinking about leaving something (a job, a relationship, a social group) that has defined you for so long that you can’t really imagine there’s another side.
  • You are getting divorced or are recovering from a deeply wounding break-up.
  • You’re not even sure how to articulate it, but a small voice inside you knows you are stuck or lost and won’t let you rest.

So, let’s ask again – what are your 20’s going to look like? What will this decade hold for you and for your work in the world? The world needs you. We need your gifts and courage, your grace and engagement. And it’s ok to not know what that means or where to start. 

You don’t have to figure it out alone.  The 2020’s don’t just have to happen to you. But they are coming fast. 

Find your breath.

Find your people.

Find your coach.

Do the creative work of making the life you want.

Now accepting a limited number of coaching clients to begin in January 2020. Group experiences coming in 2020. 

Try This:

Close your eyes. Take three deep centering breaths. Keep breathing and imagine what you want your life to look like in 10 years – your home, your social life, your spiritual life, your health, your career and livelihood.

Now two more deep breaths – what does this future feel like? Envision the feel of your day-to-day. Imagine the way happiness and fulfillment feel in your body. Do they feel solid and grounding? Do they feel light and free? Where does laughter and joy reside? 

Reflect:

How did that experience feel? Did you have immediate ideas about your future or did it feel like you were looking into a grey void? Both are ok – and both deserve exploring. Immediate ideas should be considered thoughtfully. Where did those ideas come from? Are those ideas for your life yours, or did they come from someone else? Grey voids mean you have lots of room to create, to play, to try on ideas until the right ones fit. 

What do you want?

Practice:

Spend two minutes every morning for the next two weeks envisioning this life and feeling these feelings.

The Voice of Imperfection

Mirabai Starr, Wild Mercy: Living the Fierce and Tender Wisdom of the Women Mystics

Our ideas of perfection are almost always external. We were taught about perfection, or we internalized ideas about it when we were growing up. Social media and regular media are a constant barrage of “perfection”.

By the time we are adults, our imperfections, on the other hand, are mostly internalized comparisons. We call them out to ourselves all the time – I’m fat. I’m lazy. I’m dumb. I’m not as good as…We judge ourselves again the external. I do it so much, I don’t even realize how often it happens.

What if our imperfections were actually something else entirely?

What if the internal judgements that we obsess over are actually helpful messages that we misread in our quest to be perfect?

I’m lazy. (Could also be – I need to rest.)

I can’t get everything done and I’m failing. (Could also be – maybe I don’t have to do everything and ‘doing everything’ is too much for anyone. I need help. I need to let go.)

I’m always tired. (Maybe your body need better nutrition? Exercise? Are you spending your energy on things that drain, rather than feed, you?)

Maybe our imperfections are important messages we are misinterpreting.

Can we stop beating ourselves up long enough to actually listen to what our ‘imperfections’ are telling us?

Itineraries, Agendas, and Slowing the F Down

It was an adventure – my daughter’s first “passport trip” as she put it.  There was so much for her to experience for the first time – customs/forms/questions, new currency, a language she only knew by a few phrases, foods, art, history.

 

And it was exhausting. Being a mama is exhausting. Traveling in a foreign place without other adults and a dependent (albeit fantastic) human is exhausting.

 

And yet – I kept adding on to the agenda. I kept asking what else we should do, kept scouring the map. Without acknowledging it, I was operating out of scarcity. Were we doing enough?? It was my daughter who reminded me to pause. To breathe. To absorb what we’d just done before we ran to the next thing.

 

“Mama, I think it’s time to go back to the hotel and just rest for a little while.”

 

A wise lesson in boundaries and presence from my 10 year old. When we got home, I asked about her favorite part of the trip. I expected it to be specific, a thing – the food tour, the churros, Frida Kahlo’s house, the Dia de los Muertos art installation in the Zocolo.

 

“My favorite part was when we were just wandering around and exploring; just being together.”

 

What do you want to be present for, just today? Not what are you waiting to see or do. Not what are you waiting to happen.

 

  • What (or who) can you be present for today? Maybe it’s you. Maybe it’s what feeds you.

 

  • How can you pause, before you run to the next thing?

 

Maybe less is not less.

 

3 “Simple” Steps

 

Whether you have a formal spiritual practice or not, most of us are seeking. We want to move forward in our lives in a way that is joyful. That means different things to different people, and at least for me, the very idea itself is constantly changing and evolving.

So often the advice out there feels rhetorical, loopy, or woo-woo, at best. So I’m always on the lookout for practical advice on what it means to seek and to grow. Gabrielle Bernstein was recently at guest on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday podcast, and she gave the following three steps.

Side note: she says these are “simple” but I’m not totally sure that’s true. If this stuff was “simple”, we’d be done and over it already, right? So, in the spirit of embracing our complicated and not-so-simple lives, these steps are worth considering.

Gabrielle Bernstein’s (Paraphrased) Steps to Enlighten Your Life Today 

  1. Be willing and open. Admit that you need to learn and grow in a particular area or way. Then, be open to new ways of seeing or approaching that part of your life.
  2. Pay serious attention to the teachers, the guides and assignments. If you are open, learning opportunities will come to you. Be on the lookout. Take the work of learning from the world seriously.“We can be willing, but then go right back” to the distractions (ie our phones), bad habits, or destructive patterns.
  3. Show up for the assignments. This one is my favorite. Do the work – and pay attention. You don’t have to feel like you have the answers, but you do have to show up, listen, and take the assignments to heart.

Here’s a link to the full podcast (Nov 7, 2017), which also includes Marie Forleo (I dig her too) – enjoy!

 

**If you are ready to consider your next steps, face some of your blocks, and vision your future – let’s do it together! Contact me for in-person, phone or virtual coaching today. sally@sally.blue