I’m talking about feelings and here’s why: many of my clients come to coaching focused on tactics. But so often they’re missing the fact that what’s brought them in, what’s held them back, and what’s driving them forward is – in large part – their feelings.
(Thoughts too, but we’ll save that for another day)
Recently I was in a meeting and a colleague responded to an idea with, “I just got goosebumps.”
Now when I hear that someone got goosebumps, I *feel* delighted. Goosebumps are a physiological reaction associated with strong emotions. Not everyone is built the same when it comes to “getting goosebumps”. To me, having a team member who is getting goosebumps tells me we’ve got a level of emotional capacity and intuition on board that is 100% useful in decisions. Including “work-related” decisions.
However. According to my experience in two of Canada’s top business programs, plus almost 15 years working in, or directly supporting people working in, Corporate, here’s what I’ve picked up loud and clear regarding today’s business environment: the first rule of goosebumps is that you don’t talk about goosebumps.
To the point where for the first decade of my working life, even if I did experience goosebumps in a meeting, I would not speak of it. Not because I didn’t think it mattered, but because I assumed the more powerful people in the room would think less of me for such an admission.
And I might have been right about that.
Because most workplaces discourage feelings. At their best, feelings at work are seen as frivolous and irrelevant. At their worst, weak and counterproductive.
Because so often our culture runs businesses like machines. Linear, simplistic and exploitative. Instead of like ecosystems, full of life, complex and, ideally, symbiotic.
Because our society has long ranked rational thought above feelings as the supremely dominant driver of decisions – indeed the only driver needed, thank-you very much. And we have a lot of big-picture problems to show for this lopsided approach.
Back to you and your career path. Let’s say that since your feelings are undervalued in your workplace, you’ve learned to tune them out. Hide from them. Mistrust them.
Discounting feelings, judging them as trivial distractions, causes harm. Explored and heeded correctly, they are literally a superpower.
Your feelings are your guideposts. If not for their potential relevance in your decisions AT work (for goodness sake, follow those goosebumps), then certainly for their relevance in your decisions about the why’s, how’s, where’s, when’s, and who-with’s of your working life.
Of course it’s possible to over-rely on your feelings by skipping over rational thought. That could get you into a real pickle. But we’re in such a deficit in this area societally, that you’ve probably got miles of runway before you come anywhere even close to over-reliance. Let those feelings in.
So today, ask yourself: how do I feel about work? What feelings am I experiencing regularly about work?
It will probably feel weird.
But when you do this, I can rationally guarantee you will increase the clarity with which you view your current work situation. And clarity is the first step, every time.
Have you grabbed your career alignment check-up yet? You can get my 12 questions to find your true north here.