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Finding Energy for Transitions & New Experiences

As spring brings new beginnings, many of my coaching clients are graduating with masters degrees and accepting new jobs to advance in their careers. While excitement is in the air, navigating these changes successfully is challenging and often draining.

No wonder it is exhausting! When people leave higher education and start a new job, it affects who they are, not just what they do or where they go day to day. This process run deep, impacting one’s identity, purpose, and goals.

One of my favorite people in the world had to handle a big change recently. A year and a half ago, my brother, Jordan, left a leadership role in the federal government for a chance to lead a water science nonprofit. He planned well for a challenging first year and yet it still got the best of him at times. His new role had a steep learning curve, demanding more of his mental energy and stamina than he anticipated. Work responsibilities encroached on his personal life. He found it hard to be mentally and emotionally present with family and friends.

How did he learn to stand up to the everpresent demands of leading an organization? 

He re-prioritized exercise and fun. 

Since day one, Jordan has been fierce about sticking to his routine of swimming before work three times a week. Swimming definitely helped him stay afloat during tough moments. But exercise wasn’t quite enough to recover day to day and week to week.

He was missing some regular fun and relaxation to boost his energy. For Jordan, that’s frisbee golf. Once he made a point to get out on the weekends with friends to frisbee golf, he was able to re-balance his work and personal life. This guy will go to lengths to play frisbee golf! He’ll pack frisbees in his suitcase on trips! He has glow-in-the-dark frisbees when he can’t get a round in before dark. He once described playing frisbee golf as an almost spiritual experience: 

“You get to see the physics play out on each disc and each toss…”

Notice if it gives you a boost to ride the waves of whatever transition you’re experiencing.

Ideas for Finding New Energy

It can be easy to stick to routine and all of a sudden, it feels like we’re in a rut. Here’s some inspiration to try something new:

On a recent Saturday afternoon, our doorbell rang. In walked two elementary-aged kids and their mom, Megan. Behind them, their dad, Reid, carried a bag with the ingredients for a French dish called quenelles.

This was a great match: my husband and I love to cook new recipes. Our kids aren’t always up for cooking, but they’re usually game to try what we make.

Julia Child’s cookbook had the quenelles recipe. Welcome to our kitchen, Julia!

How did such a wonderful experience come to be? It started months ago with telling each other stories about cooking, like when both families tried cooking goose for Christmas. One day, Reid told us about quenelles. He’d heard about them when interviewing someone for a story about learning to cook in France.

Why not try making quenelles ourselves? We threw a date on the calendar and as the days approached, we created a menu around the quenelles: French preparations of green beans and carrots for the sides and rhubarb tart for dessert with rhubarb from our garden.

The doorbell rang while I was in our backyard tightening the screws on our new basketball hoop. So, while the adults cooked, the kids could play outside!

Listening to jazz trumpet

On a recent Monday, I mentioned to someone that I used to play jazz trumpet. She encouraged me to find a way to bring that back into my life. I happened to be reading the local news and saw an ad for “Berlin,” a new jazz venue in downtown Minneapolis. It must’ve caught my eye because I lived in Berlin, Germany for a while. I looked at the upcoming performances and saw a trumpeter listed for later that week. I marked it on my calendar and vowed to find a way to get there.

I wanted to go with someone. My mom popped into my head: she loves new experiences. Might she like to go? I texted her and moments later she responded “yes!”

And that’s how I found myself on a perfect Thursday evening in May inside a narrow, low-lit, lovely jazz venue listening to John Raymond and his quartet play Thelonius Monk. 

It was my idea of a perfect night (relatedly, I was home by 9:30!).

What’s one way you could at least approximate it?

Talking about what fascinates you

I was out for a walk and found myself listening to the most captivating conversation. On Ezra Klein’s podcast, he interviewed editor Adam Moss about his recent book “The Work of Art.” It was a conversation about the creative process of great artists. I loved learning from the conversation, but what I think I enjoyed most was listening to two people talk about a topic that fascinates them. 

Can you think of one person who might talk with you about it? Hint: if no one comes to mind, try a librarian!

The idea that fascinates me

I’d love to share something new I’m trying in my work. This summer, I’ll be experimenting with the hypothesis that cooking is a process that can illuminate leadership strengths and opportunities. About a decade ago, I came across a study of cooking education that got me thinking about this. 

I’ll be putting more shape around this idea in the coming months. Right now, I’m looking to build a list of people to talk with, and perhaps interview, about this idea. There are two ways you can help: 

(1) Email me if you are up for setting aside 60 minutes to help.

(2) Please introduce me to someone you know if you think they’d be interested. 

I’d love a wide range of perspectives, so the only “ask” is that you are interested in the process of leadership development. You need not be an experienced cook, but some experience cooking would help. 

– Thank you in advance!

Sharing the work of friends and colleagues

I’m excited to highlight the interesting work of some friends and colleagues:

For college students and recent college graduates: Check out Katie Selby’s work with Quarter Life Coach here. She specializes in helping young adults navigate the challenges and opportunities of early adulthood.

For men in midlife: Dan Neitz’s program, Work the Cor, focuses on personal and professional growth for men during midlife transitions. Learn more here.

For those in midlife: Explore the Modern Elder Academy here, a unique initiative that provides guidance, retreats, and programs for people transitioning through midlife.

Have an idea?

Do you have a topic you want to see featured in this newsletter? Email me your idea at [email protected]