Underwhelmed at work?

Many women come to me because their day jobs don’t feel creative or meaningful enough. They spend quite a bit of time on production, tech, management, or analytical thinking. They have a passion for art, women’s issues, wellness, travel, culture, nature, something besides the way they make money right now. Their true passions, however, feel impractical...like they could never pay rent.

If you’re in this situation, you’re really lucky. A paycheck gives you the mental security blanket to create in peace. It’s an exciting time – something I like to call “the liminal space.” The key is to resist your desire to come home after work and numb yourself.

In my experience working with hundreds of women, the kind of after-work exhaustion that leads to numbing comes from Good Girl programming: the inability to say “no,” overworking, controlling, proving, and scarcity-driven behaviors. When you spend so much time being “unchill” at work, no wonder you want to come home and splatter yourself on the couch and just “chill.” The pendulum swings in the other direction! The reason you don’t create has nothing to do with a lack of time, but your own resistance and Good Girl tendencies.

You, my dear, might be in this tender liminal space and feeling a bit stuck. You know you have to work to pay the bills, but you crave change and bravery. Something more. Some fresh air.  

I want to share with you the three phases I take every client through to some degree to build creative confidence and get creating outside of their job. I’ll also share the Good Girl blocks specifically associated with each phase. This is new content I’ve never shared before. Fresh off the boat!

Ready?

Phase I: Express

In the first phase, a woman must begin creating without being “precious” about her work. She must let go of the idea that she is somehow being bad by creating, that she should be spending her time doing something more practical. She must set healthy boundaries at work so she can protect her energy and rituals. She must definitely not get on Instagram and go down a comparison spiral (unless she is going to deliberately take someone else’s work as inspiration and build on it in her own way).

Good Girl Blocks

  • Perfectionism
  • Comparison
  • Lack of Boundaries
  • Low Energy
  • Guilt of Pleasure  

Phase II: Show

In this phase, a woman no longer hides behind closed doors, but begins to show her work. For some women who went to design or art school, showing your work might be associated with critiques. But we’re not in school anymore, we’re in life. You let go of the desire to be perfect and show yourself as messy and figuring it out like the rest of the world. You celebrate mistakes. You overcome your fear of judgment and whether your friends from high school will think it’s random that you’re making abstract yarn paintings. This is a wonderful phase where you learn who most resonates with your work, and who least resonates too!

Good Girl Blocks

  • Fear of judgment
  • Fear of being messy or “wrong”
  • Personalizing feedback
  • Approval-seeking

Phase III: Exchange

After a woman has granted herself permission to create and show her work, there’s the option to go deeper. In the exchange phase, she offers her creative work to someone in exchange for some kind of value – time, money, skills, or other creative work. Many women can get stuck here – especially if they feel like trading or selling their creativity is sleazy. They fear it’s not good enough and that nobody will want it even before offering it! I think of trading as “training wheels” when women can’t leap to selling, since selling can feel too uncomfortable and the inner Good Girl hates it. But I can’t even describe the first day someone paid me for coaching. It was the first money I earned that didn’t come from some authority figure like a parent, boss or employer, but came from me giving value to someone directly. One of the most empowering days of my life. And it didn’t even matter that it was only $25.

Good Girl Blocks

  • Fear of rejection
  • Following the Rules
  • Attachment to outcomes
  • Lack of Worthiness and Value
  • Scarcity Mentality
  • Guilt of Money

Reply and let me know:

  • What phase are you in? (Note: different creative projects may be in different phases).
  • Would you be interested on going through these phases with my guidance and a supportive community?

I’m playing with the idea of designing a creative confidence training specifically for women who work full time. We would overcome the Good Girl blocks above by moving through the phases and taking action together.

Reply and let me know if this strikes a chord!

Ciao bella,

Majo

P.S. And if you have something else you want help with, let me know!

 

On expressing feelings at work

After I gave a recent talk on women’s creative leadership, a woman in the audience shared that she felt no room to cry at work without being labeled as “the emotional one.” In the same vein, one of my coaching clients asked me whether she should put on her “mask” when she felt overwhelmed at work.

It saddens me that women are still asking these questions. But alas, we live and work in a culture that has a complicated relationship to feelings. Feelings, especially negative ones, have become the enemy of action and action is required to meet business goals.

In my work with women creative leaders, I’ve learned that emotional safety is especially key to a woman’s growth at work. As dangerously stereotypical as it sounds: If you want to retain creative women at your company, you must accept and even welcome the expression of feelings. For most women, feelings are a bio-socio-psychological reality and the price of compartmentalizing or suppressing them is very high.

In a larger sense, this is about being able to show up as your whole, authentic self to work. In my interview with former Design Director at IDEO Andrea Mallard on the Heroine podcast, she stressed the importance of being cared for as an entire human being:

I had this one client that wasn’t a big fan of me and there was nothing I could do to fix this...I fully expected that I would get in big trouble...I remember [Chief Creative Officer] Paul saying, ‘you are worth more to us than this client is…’ [I learned that] this is a company that cares about me as an entire human being and sees my value...that built so much trust and such a strong desire to do the best work of my life there.

As long as work cultures don’t foster emotional safety, I predict women – especially highly creative women – will be the first to go. I’m not saying your company should replace the role of therapy or coaching, but I am saying that the current emphasis is far too much on action and results, and far too little on feelings and process. You may be more productive in the short term, but you’ll lose creative talent in the long run.

What do you think?

xo

Majo

This piece was originally featured in 99U's Magazine – Winter 2017 Issue