First, I want to say thank you to everyone who wrote in with positivity and gratitude for JOY. It felt really good. And even better to have support around an ending. THANK YOU.
This week I share about my process around digging through some not so attractive ego stuff. I am always grateful to sift through the darkness, but it is a vulnerable experience nonetheless. I know many of you are on similar adventures of the psyche. Thank you for sharing your stories with me. I'm listening. Like I say, it's crowded down here in the hole. Thank goodness. Good to be with you down here.
When I was in high school if you cut class but didn’t necessarily want the risk of walking down the hill or sneaking off in your car to leave campus, you would meet your friends by what was known as the Red Doors. The Red Doors were a set of metal fire doors located at the far end of a dark hallway, that of course was by the art room. Behind the Red Doors sat a small set of concrete stairs with well worn metal handrails facing the surrounding woods. Older kids would meet there to smoke, do shots between classes and get into all kinds of good high school kid trouble. I only really went a couple times, usually to grab my friend Chris for art class. Truth be told, I got away with a lot in high school because I was a good student, good athlete, and did my work. While that formula bored me, I understood it. Following that formula made me the last person adults looked to when something went wrong. And this provided me with a tremendous amount of freedom. I flew under the radar.
This trust, warranted or not allowed me to leave campus pretty much whenever I wanted without much debate. Mostly, I snuck off campus via the Red Doors to grab a meatball hero sandwich or swim in my friend’s pool in the middle of the day.
Meatball subs and swimming aside, I rarely cut class, skipped out on a test or refused to complete an assignment. I actually never blew anything off academically. Even in college and graduate school I always finished and finished well. I always powered through.
So when it came to disinterest in a class I’m currently enrolled in I immediately tried to convince myself to do what I had always done, power through.
Here's what this logic looked like.
*I paid for this class and it’s a waste of money if I don’t follow through.
*Make the most of it. Education is a privilege.
*It doesn’t matter if you are not interested anymore, you made a commitment.
*You’ll miss out on networking opportunities that you need to succeed.
None of these reasons seem outlandish to me. If I do not take this class, it is possible that all of these things are true. But there is only one real piece of data in here. Can you spot it?
*Education is a privilege.
That piece is true and pretty irrefutable. But the others have more to do with how I see myself and concern about how others might see me. The more time I spent playing in this space, the more I realized that actually forcing myself to take a class I am no longer interested in was more about what others might think of me than what I think of myself. Ooof. An honest to goodness psychological trap.
Most of this came down to my ego or really superego (that’s really what we are talking about when popular psychology refers to the ego) and proving my worth. My ego was so enamored with proving myself that when thinking about cutting out on the class I considered how it would feel to not earn a certificate at the end. The pretty one that I get to share on LinkedIn to show anyone who happens to fit into the algorithm for that brief moment in time that I completed a certificate course at IDEO.
And why did that matter?
I had to think about this for a while. And kind of surrender to the discomfort of what the possibilities could be. This self-worth stuff is hard. At least for me. I had a good friend yell at me through the phone a few years ago, “when the fuck are you going to stop needing to prove yourself Lisa?” It hurt, but he was right.
The possibilities that surfaced were kind of interesting and led me to a surprising place. I had many questions.
First, why am I taking classes on working with organizations? Is that what I want to do, help solve problems for groups? And if so, why?
And the answer is, no.
I discovered through JOY IS NOW that I prefer working with people one on one. This discovery is crystal clear to me and not really something I need to spend a lot of time questioning. It’s like data at this point. And to be honest, after all my group facilitation and psychoanalytic study of groups through the years I still think the most effective and sustainable way to shift a system is one person at a time. And that is not possible in many instances, but I get to choose how I want to work. Organizational systems are thorny with many layers of complexity and often enough organizations do not really want to change. They want the illusion of change. And I’m not interested in pushing that boulder. Am I qualified to do so? Yes. Does that mean I have to? No.
Second, if all of this resonates with me, where was the pull to enter into the organizational world?
Well, it’s familiar. Like I said, I spent many years facilitating and studying groups and group behavior. And it is nothing short of fascinating. But being fascinated is different from waiting to live it. I find mycology fascinating, but I am not interested in spending a ton of time in the damp woods looking for mushrooms. I’d rather read about it. See the difference? Fascination just didn't seem to be the driving force. I thought more and then discovered what was at the center. And yuck. It did not make me feel great.
If you do not live in the Bay Area, you might not be familiar with the massive number of tech giants here. It’s impressive really. The Bay Area is an exciting place for innovation. We are early adopters and open to new ways of doing things and this attitude is definitely in part fostered by all the money and advancement in innovation that happens here. If you are a contractor or freelancer, it is known that the big contracts are with Google, Meta, Apple, etc. This list could go on and on. But there is a brass ring that consultants look to grab. Get a contract at one of these giants and the money is really fucking good. While I hate to admit it, this brass ring turned out to be the driving force behind me wanting to work with organizations. And I am not really sure it was even the money. More of just to say that I had landed the thing that so many other people are interested in landing. Even if it is not really what I want to do. Yuck, that feels so gross, but also hooray - good to have figured out!
And don’t get me wrong, I would love to go to Google, Meta, Apple and talk - just not about psychological safety, corporate culture, team building, group work, and solving complex communication problems. If anyone there wants me to come give a talk about how skateboarding informs stellar leadership and sets the stage for effective feedback, I’m game. That sounds fun to me, but the rest of it? Not my jam anymore.
I was getting somewhere.
But that still wasn’t the whole thing. The next layer had to do with how I spend my time.
What surprised me here is that my first instinct if I were to drop the course and someone were to ask me about it would be to say that I just didn’t have time. Like I had too many clients or professional projects and it just interfered with my work. Because that seemed acceptable and also made me sound really fucking important. But let’s be real. I’m not a firefighter. I’m not that important.
What I found interesting here is that the only acceptable place my mind went in terms of an allowable excuse was that I didn’t have time due to achievement. First, this was not the case. If I was really interested in the course, I would make time. I see clients three days a week and purposely carve out flexible time the other two days to allow for such things. And I’ve made time this whole year for my Human Design training course and continuing education. The time is there if I choose. The actuality is that the IDEO course did cut into my time, just not my work time. It cut into skateboarding. And I did not see this as a warranted use of my time if it meant I couldn't take the class.
And I call bullshit. On my own bullshit.
The fact that I do not have time is true. But for different reasons. If I was going to take this class it meant that there would be a morning and/or an afternoon where I couldn’t go skateboarding because I would be doing the work or I would be going to a class meeting. And I wondered about why this time did not count? Why was it not valuable?
I am spending my time on something valuable. Something that lights me the fuck up. And the thought of this course doesn't even come close to matching that. But this seemed ridiculous to say.
I don’t have time because of skateboarding.
What does skateboarding do for me?
It doesn’t bring me work opportunities. It doesn’t further my education. I don’t get a certificate to share on Linkedin.
But it does so much more. And this is where my work with Human Design really helped change my perspective. Human Design teaches that our energy is all in the same vessel. Whether we put our energy and enjoyment toward something at work or something in other parts of our life, it has the same impact on us in totality. Feeding one area improves our life across all areas. So while I cannot track the data of how skateboarding brings me work opportunities or helps further my education, the joy and satisfaction and play I feel while I am skateboarding feeds all areas of my life. It does improve my work, relationships and opportunities by holding me in a place of receivership and enjoyment.
So if we are looking at the choice between a course that makes me feel shut down every time I try to re-engage and one that right now feels like a tremendous amount of energy to get through and getting on my skateboard and feeling completely expanded, energetic and alive, then the choice is easy.
I’m grabbing my skateboard. I’ll see you at The Red Doors.
STRATEGY + AUTHORITY
As always thank you for sending me your questions! I LOVE responding!
This week I’m answering a reader question about the relationship between STRATEGY + AUTHORITY.
Before we begin, I want to remind everyone that Human Design is not a science, although many people refer to it as one. But as a scientist, I do not think it is a science. It is a mystical tool which means that by nature it is not dogmatic. It is a space for us to play and feel empowered. We are all capable of living incredibly successful and enjoyable lives without ever living our design or using any of the tools Human Design makes available. Human Design does not make you wrong or right for doing anything and does not dictate that you can or cannot do something because of your design. That's bullshit. Where is the glory in being in a mystical space if we create ridiculous rules around it? There are no bad energy types or gates or channels or profiles. No one energy type is more or less powerful or lovely than another. It's all good. You be you. Human Design is here for you to take what resonates and trash the rest.
Let's dive in!
STRATEGY is how we can create aligned the most opportunities. It offers guidance on how we can best be available to receive the right opportunities for us. The ones that light us up, feel energizing and expansive. The ones that make us joyful, at peace and delighted. Also the ones that support us being in an equitable relationship with receivership, where our output is matched by input.
AUTHORITY is how we best make decisions. Like an internal compass, it offers guidance on how we can discern which opportunities are meant for us. AUTHORITY does not involve logic. Our AUTHORITY guides us toward the most aligned commitments and opportunities through our body response. It is one of the most powerful and nuanced pieces of your design. Understanding your AUTHORITY and trusting it takes practice. The process is a lot like changing a behavior or a response in therapy. First we notice afterwards, then during, then before. And then sometimes miss it altogether.
Generally STRATEGY + AUTHORITY work together like this:
When an opportunity shows up according to our STRATEGY, we rely on our AUTHORITY to determine whether the opportunity is right for us. This order follows suit for all energy types except Manifestors who will often use their AUTHORITY first, then STRATEGY due to their initiating STRATEGY.
Let's look at an example under the lens of the GENERATOR energy type with an emotional or wait for clarity AUTHORITY .
All GENERATORS have the STRATEGY of wait to respond. This means that more aligned opportunities arrive to GENERATORS when they respond to inspiration, invitation, interest, and what lights them up and and gets them excited rather than initiating or seek them out. GENERATORS are best guided by responding because of their extremely magnetic nature. The mantra of GENERATORS is pretty much opportunities are always coming to me. The key is to be present and aligned in order for them to arrive. Waiting to respond helps with this. Waiting to respond also has to do with boundaries (really all of Human Design does). GENERATORS are meant to wait for things to come to them and respond to something outside of themselves to light them up in order to then use their AUTHORITY to trust whether or not they commit to that opportunity or relationship. The more they say no to what doesn't light them up, the more opportunities come their way that do. Think of it like a filter.
Once an opportunity comes via waiting to respond - it could be an email or a text message, question, job posting, meme, social media post, article - a GENERATOR will determine if it lights them up. This can feel like expansion, energy, a calm knowing. Generally for GENERATORS and MANIFESTING GENERATORS it can feel energizing, but there are subtle differences in all of us. Once an opportunity lights us up or feels expansive, then AUTHORITY comes in. A GENERATOR with an emotional or wait for clarity AUTHORITY will then take a beat to wait to see if the opportunity continues to light them up and feel expansive over time.
This might look like asking for a day to get back to someone about an invitation to the museum. Asking for a week to respond to a job offer. Or requesting a few hours to decide about making a work purchase. The reason for this guidance in waiting for clarity is that GENERATORS and MANIFEStiNG GENERATORS can be very susceptible to the excitement of others. They are motor centers with lots of energy and could easily give energy out to many different people and opportunities. The key is to get a little bit of space from the excitement of others in order to determine it the excitement you feel is really yours or belongs to someone else. Patience is really important. And also hard!
As a MANIFESTING GENERATOR I have waiting to respond as part of my STRATEGY and I am also a wait for clarity AUTHORITY, and the waiting is HARD! I'm not great at patience, but I can say that after some practice and really seeing how much more ease I feel when guided by these ideas, I have learned that waiting while still hard is really worth it for me.
There is a bit more nuance here that I will save for another time, that speaks to GENERATORS and MANIFESTING GENERATORS using their sacral response as a guide for smaller decisions and relying on AUTHORITY for bigger ones. I am able to rely on my sacral response for decisions, even though with bigger ones I do wait for clarity. My decision usually doesn't change. If I get a body response that something is energizing waiting for clarity usually doesn't change this. Also, if I get a sacral response that something tires me out, or leaves a bad taste in my mouth, with time this rarely changes as well. But that's me. It might be different for others.
If you would like me to illuminate this aspect a bit next week let me know by hitting the reply button below. Happy to shed more light on it!