Your next promotion is just the beginning, and this podcast shows you how to get there.
Welcome to episode number 161. Today's episode I am going to share with you why I think your work shouldn't matter so much and how you can step into your power at work, so that you can actually put more energy and effort into the areas of your life that DO matter. It's a pretty raw and vulnerable episode as I've been contemplating what I want to bring more of into 2023, and I think you're really going to enjoy it.
So let's get started.
Hello corporate badasses! Welcome to another episode of Women Changing Leadership. I am your host, Stacy Mayer. Oh, so excited to be here with you this week, but in a somewhat different capacity. I had a podcast episode planned out for today and I had been trying to record it all week, but it wasn't working out. I was procrastinating and trying to figure out what I wanted to say, even though I had it completely outlined. And I think it's because there was something else that needed to be said in today's episode. And I have something that I want to share with you today that's a little bit raw, a little bit vulnerable, and a little bit in the moment, as in: I'm actually experiencing this feeling in real time and processing it. And I wanted to just share it with you because I feel like this podcast is an incredibly intimate and safe space and I hope that you, as a corporate badass, always feel like you can be yourself in all of my containers and with me. And so I want to reverse that and show that love to you as well.
So what I was going to talk about was the difference between practice and process. So for many of you, you transitioned into leadership through an individual contributor role or being a subject matter expert in your field of study. And then you go into leadership and it's almost like a complete career shift. And how do you shift into that? And you look for a process. Because as the subject matter expert, we have a step by step process and that gets us to a conclusion.
So that's what I was going to talk about today, and I'm happy to talk about that in a future episode. So definitely look out for that. I still think it's useful to talk about the practice of transitioning into executive leadership.
But today what I want to talk about is how your job is not your life. We don't live to work. You know this. You know that your job is not the most important thing in your life. You know that on your deathbed you're not going to be remembered for the role that you had. You're not going to be remembered for your title. You're not going to be remembered for the meetings that you attended and the projects that you completed on time. We know that. But yet because we spend, and let's face it, 60 hours a week, because we're not just spending our 40 hour work week, often because many of you are in very high profile positions, you're spending 60 hours a week thinking about work. And because it occupies so much of our time, we forget that it's actually quite meaningless in the grand scheme of things. And this hit me kind of hard this week because it's the new year. Actually, when I'm recording this episode January 5th, and I do a lot of reflection coming up into the new year.
Let me lay out for you my process of this transition. This is definitely one of the biggest transitions that I, I dive into every single year and I fully embrace it. It starts about in November for me, where I start to think about what I want to improve. So this is basically where most of you are at on Jan 1. You think about what do I want to improve my life, what do I want to do better? And you feel really positive and motivated and and ready to go. And in my experience, if I start right then on this motivational track, I tend to do quite well. So I started a a diet plan at the end of November, right in the middle of the holidays. And it supported me so well through the chaos of the holidays and having family visit and just different things going on, having the children at home more often, just like all of that stuff that comes up for you at the holidays. And so I find that process of doing it a month in advance to be incredibly supportive. And I don't do this consciously. I think I'm going with the flow of the change in the seasons, winter solstice, gearing up more for winter solstice than January 1st.
So anyway, that's what I've always done. And then right around Jan 1, what I start to do is I start to do all the exercises. I love New Year's exercises. So I like finding my word of the year. I like writing out all of my wins from 2022. I like thinking about 2023 and what would be some big goals that I can't even imagine, like impossible goals. I did this exercise with the women inside The Leadership Table where we set impossible goals, and for many of them they couldn't even say it out loud because it feels so impossible. And I find all of that process to be really, really fun. And this exercise that I did, though, kind of jarred me a little bit.
So a colleague of mine suggested that everybody write down 50 of their favorite moments of 2022. And the exercise was meant to do before the full moon, which is tomorrow, January 6th. And we were supposed to write down 50 of our favorite moments of 2022. And I mean, it was unbelievably easy. That sounds like a lot, but I just started writing. I triggered my memory a little bit. I pulled up my Google Photos album.
I looked at my calendar. I was like: oh, you know, and then this happened and oh, my gosh. And then this happened. And oh, that was so fun. And I love that. And wow, I can't believe that was a whole year ago. There was line after line after line with so much detail and so much richness. Because as I already shared at the end of 2022 and my reflection back, I was like: really? It was so much a year of contentment for me and and a lot of power to that. I just really had an absolutely phenomenal year and just felt really proud of everything that had happened for me.
So I'm writing all of this out, and then this observation came to me at the end and I go back through it because now we're supposed to add in emotions and feelings that we felt when we were going through this process. And I'll just say, as a side note, if you decide to do this exercise, do the same thing. Write down the emotions that you felt. Because what we're trying to do is not tie our situations, our happiness, to a specific situation.
So let's say we moved into a new house, so I could say that caused me happiness because I moved into a new house. But in reality, what we're seeking in 2023 is more happiness. So so you sort of look at the motions and you can take them away from the circumstance and say, how can I create more fun and happiness and joy and playfulness and pride and all of those great emotions in my life in 2023?
But here's the thing that I noticed. Is that out of these 50 items, and please do this for yourself and let me know how it goes, very few of them were about work. I think there were three. And I'm going to tell you what they were, were about work. And that's why it feels kind of vulnerable to share with you, because I'm like: I talked to you about work every single day and I care a lot about you and coaching you and wanting to help you. And so you would think that this would be the most important thing in my life. Or maybe, maybe you do. I don't know. But it's also probably not surprising that out of my 50 favorite moments that they really didn't have a lot to do with work. They had to do with my family, with connections. Different ways that we traveled, ways that my children have grown this year, moments, special moments, milestones. Different things like that that happened.
And then in the work category, it was really interesting when I really asked what were my favorite moments. There were three areas that came up. And one was the celebration, the award ceremony at the end of 2022. And for the first time ever, I hosted an awards ceremony inside of the group and it was amazing. Executive Ahead of Time has been around for about two years and women from the first cohorts showed up. I haven't seen them for a little while, even though it's lifetime membership. Not everybody comes to the weekly coaching calls. And so it was a great way to reunite. I also put them in breakout rooms at several different times, and you could tell the buzz and the energy. It sort of felt like a cocktail party where you kind of go into a breakout room and chat for a little bit and then come back to the main session and the speeches. And we really got to hear from different women who won these awards. And I was able to present Jennifer Fisher with a lifetime achievement award. And it just filled me with so much incredible pride. And it was a one hour blip in my year and it was literally one of my favorite moments.
And then the other favorite moment of my work was also the text messages I wrote down, the text that I receive when somebody says they got promoted or that they tried what I offered and it worked. And these are text messages or emails that I receive from you. It can be people in my paid programs and my non paid programs. You're all my corporate badasses. And you said that what I taught you work. And that I just I never take that lightly. And the culmination of all of those, I considered it to be one lump sum of joy. That joy and pride and how I felt receiving those messages. Maya Angelou talks about: People remember how you made them feel. Not what you did. And so that's how people make me feel. Is when they connect with me and they say: oh, you know what? I did that thing and it worked. And I now my life is better as a result of it. So that was also one of my highlights.
Another one of my highlights, I think I talked about it in one of my episodes where I was actually sharing what was said from the stage, but I appeared in person at a panel discussion in Austin, Texas. And that was a really big deal for me. One because I love being on stage and I haven't been on stage or given talks in a long time except for on Zoom. And so that was also a really big deal and I felt incredibly powerful.
But the other piece that was really important for me and why that was such a favorite moment for me was because I spoke my truth. And I noticed that the other women on the panel, they were speaking their truth. And I'm not saying that they weren't because that's not true. We're all speaking our truth. We're speaking from our perspective and what we know to be true. But the way that I was communicating to the women in the room was very different than the other coaches were communicating to the women in the room. And I think the example, and I'll link to this in the show notes, was this woman was talking about how a person at work, whenever she would ask for anything, he would tell her that she was too ambitious or that she was too aggressive, and she ended up leaving that role and no longer works for that human being. But yet three years later, he's still on her mind. And he still bothers her. And so what she wanted to know was, how do I not be labeled as too aggressive? And so, of course, the other woman talked about different ways to have difficult conversations, to communicate your needs and things like that. And I think all of that is incredibly important. But from my perspective, I was like: let's talk about why this person is still bothering you.
Let's talk about the PTSD that all these shitty bosses bring into our lives for many, many years. That person holds so much power over her and her ability to succeed in her current role – still. And if that is not examined, then she's going to continue to bring that trauma with her into other roles, whether it is manifesting as too aggressive because she feels like she has to put on a shield and show up hard and strong and not be vulnerable. Or maybe it's it manifests in not raising her hand because she doesn't want to be put to the fire again. And so we have to acknowledge what's actually happening for us.
And that leads to the real point of this episode, which is if we can acknowledge that our job is meaningless, that's actually incredibly helpful because so many of you are working so hard to prove yourself, to show your boss, to show your team your worthiness. When I hear somebody say that they've got six projects going on and they're they're swamped and they can't figure out how to delegate anything and they don't have a team and they don't do this. And people are offering to take things away from them, but they don't even know where to start Then I'm like: You are in a bad situation. This is not working for you. And so what you need to do is you need to take a step back and you have to say, Why am I doing this? Why does this matter?
And I think the problem for so many people is, is that we're constantly doing this push pull where we lean into our work really hard core and we get burned out and we get stressed and we get burned literally from the outside, like we don't get promoted. We're not making enough money. We're not able to provide for our family in that way. Or we're just like: I give up, I'm going to work, I'm going to go part time. I don't want the stress. I'm not going to take the leadership role that's being offered to me. I can't handle it. So I'm going to just focus on my family and put my career aside. My career is just about making money.
And I want to offer to you the middle place. And this is what I'm always teaching, is that other. And so for me, in my business, this is how I look at it. When I saw that sheet of paper, I was actually really floored. I spend so much emotional energy on my business, so much emotional energy. I'm feeling emotional about it just sharing. I want my business to work. I want to make good money for my family. I want to contribute. I want to be a powerhouse executive leader. I want to be a powerful spokesperson for you. I want to change the leadership table. This is a really big frickin deal. I think about it a lot. I spend a lot of energy and time thinking about it.
And that doesn't necessarily cause me stress. I'm not burning out or exhausted or hating my life. I love it. But what I do need is strategic distance. I do need to be able to take a step back. And so I consider the 50 favorite things of 2022 to be a wake up call for me to be able to look at and to to remove myself a little bit from the equation, to say: you know what? This work is actually not about me and my abilities and my ability to prove myself and to show my worthiness. It's a job. It is a job. And that job, the better I do at that job, the happier I am at that job, the happier I am in the rest of my life. The other 50 favorite things.
So if you're finding yourself very stressed out at work because you're working too hard and you're not being rewarded properly and you're not actually being included and you don't enjoy the work that you do, then come into Executive Ahead of Time. Let's talk and let's find a way for you to show up as the powerful leader that you are. To begin to say no to things so that you feel more included. That is where your work matters, so that you can show up for everybody else in your life for those favorite moments.
Now, fast forward, I have a couple of women inside of The Leadership Table who have been working with me for two or three years, and without fail, they all go through the same exact process. And I talk about this in a previous episode that I'll link to where I talk about my three year plan. And it's without fail, it's the same process. When we first meet, they're feeling stuck, frustrated. They want more. They're not sure which way to go. Do do I pull back? Do I lean in. Like: what do I do? Because it's just not working for me right now.
And then we go through various different milestones. Maybe they receive a promotion very quickly, maybe we work, maybe we shift organizations. whatever that is, it's about finding their own personal empowerment so that then they're saying yes to themselves on a regular basis. There are no longer tied to their job. They no longer have that desperate feel. They know that if it doesn't work out here, they're going to go find a role someplace else where they are valued, where their work does matter. That is the real work that we're doing inside of my executive leadership path.
That is what we're doing is we're transitioning from our job, having so much power over us, from feeling like it's the most important thing and it's taking and sucking all of our energy away into this place of space, of distance, to be able to do the work that we need to do at work to get ourselves into those higher level leadership positions. So this isn't checking out. This isn't silent quitting or whatever the crap. We are really, truly leaning in. And then we also know that we are inherently worthy, that our work matters. And we are willing to stand up for that. We're willing to get paid an equitable rate. We are willing to say something.
I just had a woman inside of Executive Ahead of Time, we start with wins every time, and she shared with us that when her boss offered her a promotion, she said, No, I think this is actually a senior director role. And her boss actually agreed. So she basically advocated in the moment for a skip level promotion. But that only can happen when you don't need it, When you don't feel like if I get this skip level, then I'll be worthy. Then I'll be validated because it's not that important. I want you to get your next promotion so you can stop worrying about getting your next promotion.
I want you to see how that freedom feels to not need something so desperately to validate your existence. Because everything else in your life is way more important than this. So that's the work that we're doing in my leadership path is really getting you to a place of freedom. Freedom from your job while leaning into your job, you can be in the highest frickin position at your company and feel that freedom because they are. The women that I have been working with are feeling that freedom.
And you know what it starts to look like in the end? When you feel that freedom, when you get your house in order, as I call it, the foundation in order. You know your place, you know what you're supposed to be doing. You're getting paid the right wage. You have the appropriate title to match your abilities. You're on a team that you actually enjoy working with. Then you can look at what else, What else do I want to be doing? What thought leadership do I have? Do I want to write a book? Do I want to speak on stages?
And so that came up recently where a woman that I've been working with to get promoted to vice president for a while now, and the promotion still is on the cusp, it hasn't actually happened, but yet it's going to. It's not one of those fake. It's like: well, I mean, she's done everything that she could do to make this happen. And then there might be a conversation in a month from now to be like: okay, let's get it in writing. But basically, she has been the Executive Ahead of Time, the VP ahead of time for a very long time, and everybody's acknowledging it. So that's happening. So she doesn't have to worry about that. That's already set in motion. And she's like: Well, then what? And I'm like: Yeah, let's talk about it.
Let's talk about what the then what is. Because that's what really matters. Those are going to be your favorite moments. Those are going to be the moments in your career that you're going to remember the most. When you stood for something, when you spoke about something, when you mentored someone, when you served on a board. And all the other moments with your family, because now you're resourced at work so that you can spend that time with them, so that you can enjoy those favorite moments so that when you are on vacation, you can be with your family. That is what I'm helping you do by getting your next promotion. I am showing you what's possible. I am showing you how powerful you truly, truly are, and we are moving to get you there.
So my wish from this episode and as we continue on our way into 2023 is that you start to. Find your way and navigate your own power at work, your own ability to to rise up, to create that distance, to say: you know what? I am putting a lot of energy in this basket and and this is not for me. And what am I going to do? Instead, I'm going to say that I want to be the vice president. I know it sounds funny. Because normally when we when we give up, so to speak, we pull back. But I'm going to ask you to lean in and to get even more powerful, to say I'm worth more. I'm not going to attend these meetings. I need a team of five people. I'm not going to do this project.
We're going to start saying no to things, saying yes to things that are bigger and more aligned with who you truly are. That's the work that we're going to be doing in 2023. We're going to stop taking the BS that is just project after project and more work after more work, and we're going to start saying yes to us and our value as a corporate badass, as the queen that you are. And that, my friends, that is what really, really matters.
Alright, everyone, thank you so much for listening. And I'll see you next week.