This post originally appeared on my personal blog, Fumbling for Words, in August 2010 when I was imagining Sophia Leadership into existence.
Warning: This post is mostly just me thinking aloud. Feel free to ignore it if you get easily annoyed with the inner angst of an over-thinker.
I’ll admit it – I’ve been agonizing about what the big “next step” will look like once I walk away from my day job. No, the agony has not been about second-guessing my decision – I’m pretty confident it’s the right choice – but rather it’s about “what am I going to put out into the world once I have to be responsible for marketing MYSELF rather than a non-profit or government organization”.
At the heart of this agonizing is a question about whether to be a generalist or a specialist. I have a lot of skills that I think are marketable – writing, communications planning & marketing & public relations, media relations, creativity, facilitation, leadership development, teaching, storytelling, global thinking, travel, synthesizing information… and that’s where I get a little bogged down. I LIKE to do a lot of things and have a lot of variety in my life. That’s why I’ve been happy in this job because it has offered me opportunity to grow in my leadership, do lots of creative writing and communicating, travel to fascinating places in the world, do story-gathering and photography, advise people on how to effectively communicate their message, etc., etc.
So part of me thinks I should just start marketing myself as a generalist who’ll do all of these things, and be kind to you while I’m at it.
BUT… I’m a little nervous that being too much of a generalist just waters down what I want to do in the world AND gives people the idea that I’m a “jack of all trades and master of none” and that I won’t really do a bang-up job of whatever it is they consider hiring me to do. So then I try to synthesize all of these things and come up with some kind of well-rounded statement like “I’ll help you use your personal and organizational stories and strengths to transform your leadership and impact”. Hmmm…. blah.
The thing is, the skills that I think will get me jobs (ie. INCOME), are not necessarily the things I want to do a lot of. Corporate communications, for example. I can write a bang-up press release or produce a lovely annual report, but please don’t make me do that ad nauseum! On the other hand, if you want to hire me to go to Zimbabwe to visit your project site to take pictures and gather stories so that you can better communicate what your organization does, I AM SO THERE!
And then there’s this other piece that keeps nagging at me like a pesky child who won’t stop showing you pictures of delectable chocolate until you take her to 7-11 for a chocolate bar (like my smart little manipulater did the other night). Sophia Leadership. THAT feels like a real calling and something I really feel like I need to put out into the world. It’s needed – I know it is. It’s the gap that I never fully found in my thirteen years of leadership – a safe space for leaders who want to explore their feminine wisdom (intuitive thinking, creativity, spirituality, comfort with ambiguity, embodiment, etc.). Despite the many times when my fear gremlin tries to convince me that I’m not qualified to be a leadership consultant or that there isn’t enough of a market for it or I’ll kill my other chances of making an income if I focus too much on that, I KNOW deep in my heart that this is a calling I’m not supposed to take lightly.
And then… well, then my mind starts to throw all kinds of other doubts and questions on the table. Should it really be just about leadership? What if that alienates the people who SHOULD recognize that they are leaders (the artists, stay-at-h0me moms, administrative assistants, dancers, etc., etc.) but are afraid of that word? Maybe it should be something like “Sophia Rises” to express more of the emerging quality of feminine wisdom in a world that needs much more of it, without attaching it just to leadership? And… should I really call it “Sophia”? Won’t that confuse people who don’t understand that Sophia = Wisdom and who think it’s my first name? Oy veh.
As Marianne Elliot said so eloquently, “I’m learning to trust that the work I’m here to do is bigger than me.” Somehow it feels like the Sophia work is bigger than me and it’s the direction I need to place my energy. I expect that (at least at first) it won’t be the only thing that I do, and really, I think if I do it right, all of those things can be incorporated into the Sophia work.
The lovely thing is that this thinking work is not really stressing me out, despite the use of the word “agonizing”. To some degree, I thrive on change and innovation, and this is just the kind of thing that gives me a buzz. So I’ll happily keep thinking and overthinking and praying and meditating about this thing for awhile, and at some point, perhaps the path will be clear.
If you have any wisdom on the subject, feel free to share it. I’d be especially interested in hearing about what you think my “essence” or”strength” is – what is the quality that shines from this blog that you think people need more of?