By Barb Klein
Now What? Facilitator and Deputy Editor
Originally published for Inspired Possibility’s blog
If you’ve been following along, I ran for NJ State Assembly, announcing in March and losing my primary on June 6th. What am I taking away from this experience?
NO PAIN, NO GAIN
Running for office, especially as a neophyte, was a huge learning curve. I thought of it in January and by mid-February, life handed me a campaign manager and a handful of consultants who helped me weigh the decision. I jumped in with both feet and ran “off the line” for a chance to represent on the Democratic side.
I knew I was attempting something very difficult to achieve. You want the party endorsement (thus being “ON the line”) because most people blindly vote for whomever was chosen for them by their party. However, my fire was lit, and it was not going to wait two years to attempt to make a difference.
LISTENING is TEN TIMES More VALUABLE than Talking!
Being a professional speaker and performer, I was not intimidated by the public aspect of running for office, but my greatest asset, I found, was my ability to listen. As I participated on panels and a candidate forum, I repeatedly heard my fellow candidates speak ad nauseum on tangents and not address the question asked.
These were not experienced “pivoters,” but people who like to hear themselves talk. At one point, I was the last of four to address a particular question, and I asked the person who asked it if he thought his question had been answered. He said no.
I proceeded to answer, but prefaced it with “Please don’t confuse my economy of words with not having anything to say. I believe in addressing this head on. The answer is no.”
I waited for the election results at a friend’s house, along with the couple who hosted and my husband. We could see the outcome starting to gel, and then the final call from an official source came in. I had lost. I was OK. Until I wasn’t.
The news was crushing, and I felt embarrassed that I had thought we could pull off the near impossible. The first day post election was ugly. I was so grateful that people were clearly giving me space and not rushing to call me. My disappointment quickly moved to anger. I was livid that it seems that most people do not spend ANY time paying attention to who they are voting for and that many don’t show up to vote at all. I got half as many votes as the two winners (three of us were running for two seats), and I earned every single one of them. It only made me more angry that apparently thousands of people (25% of eligible voters who voted) did not even pop open their computer for thirty seconds of research. If they had, they’d have seen that neither of my competitors had a website nor much online presence at all. Perhaps they may have voted differently when they could only find one of us and gain an understanding of what that one stood for.
So there I was having felt compelled to run because the party didn’t care about my district or who actually won it —and the candidates who raised virtually no money and were not running a proper campaign took the win to compete in the general election in November.
Day Two, I was relieved. Day Three, I was completely cynical about our system, and the ability of good people ever being able to make a difference. Day Four, I was relieved that I didn’t have to keep campaigning. Day Five, I was fine – the grieving cycle had ended.
I have no regrets. And, in fact, I am SO happy that I ran!
I have made more progress in getting involved in my town and state and therefore, the nation, than I ever would have just despairing about the news on TV. I had a ringside seat to the inner workings. I’m not an expert, but I now see how HUGE I had made the barrier between politics and me. I, like many people, was just ignorant and diving in showed me it’s really easy to understand. I used to avoid it at any cost. Part apathy, part not knowing where or how to start understanding it. With that said, politics is not the point. Knowing how government works at the municipal, county, state and national level is so that I can continue to be an agent of positive change. I hope I have shown others what’s possible.
These last few months took me away from home a great deal of the time. It turned out that my family may not have acted like they missed me much, but now that I do not have to campaign any longer, I can see some very important things that need my care at home. Turns out we only have so much energy and attention at any given time. This is something that keeps women, especially, from running for office. It won’t deter me from running again, but I’ll be better prepared next time.
Thank for taking the ride with me, and stay tuned for what’s next. Even if our politics are not the same, please know I don’t want to be a politician. I do want to be someone who listens, finds the patterns in the chaos, and works to be a part of the solution.
As a woman who stopped me in the grocery store said to me last week:
“I told my friends you weren’t a Democrat or a Republican. I told them you were someone who can get things done.”
I’ll take that and run. The support of so many has made this journey possible. As much as I wasn’t doing this for myself, I could not have done it by myself. Thanks for following along.
P.S. Politicians could really use coaching. Just saying.
How would it be to take something you would do for free (and often do) simply because you love it that much and turn it into wild success? Impossible you say? Not so! Here are 11 people who have done just that.
Looking to a new and improved future??
Sometimes it’s hard to believe, but it IS possible to turn your passion into a career. Here’s some evidence in the form of six very successful people who did just that!
Layoffs, downsizing, and “rightsizing” are a common occurrence these days, and often they happen without rhyme nor reason.
by Nancy Friedberg, Now What? Facilitator
We’re living in an age of perpetual motion—so much so that we forget to take a moment to press the pause button, collect ourselves, and breathe. Proof is everywhere. While recently purchasing an Apple Watch, I discovered a new Apple App called Breathe. Oddly enough, this genius app detects an elevated stress level and heart rate and reminds you to BREATHE with an alarm signal to your wrist.
I have seen countless clients who end up “burned out” from overload and find their careers and personal lives come to a grinding halt. They are often left with three choices: 1) quit their job 2) obtain approval for a sabbatical from work or 3) request a medical leave of absence. But what if these options simply don’t feel plausible?
Try this instead: Give yourself permission to take what I call a “mental sabbatical.” I define this new concept as a structured time out from life—a chance to free your mind—devoid of all the should’s and have to’s rattling around your head. A period to simply feel mentally free to explore without any added pressure of having to do something, make any forced decisions, or take any impulsive fear-based actions.
Think about what’s Not Working
Consider any and all unnecessary clutter in your life, be it physical, mental, or emotional. Unless you spark a change, you’re likely to become burned out at work. Explore all the parts of your life that are draining and no longer serve you. Make a list of all the intolerances and irritants—people, places, and things. Then eliminate each energy drain one by one.
One dramatic example of this simple exploration led one of my clients on a de-cluttering frenzy in her home. The result? She decided after 4 months that a radical career/life change was in order. She left her corporate career of 25 years and a marriage of 15 years and moved from NYC to upstate New York, forging a whole new professional and personal life.
Examine Your Identity
Evaluate your primary role and how it impacts your identity. Are you a full time caretaker for your children or aging parent, a leader on a mission, or a tireless volunteer? Dig deep and discover the other parts of your identity you may have lost touch with. Identify any losses you’ve endured without overdoing it in this primary role.
In May 2010, I gave myself permission to take a 4-month full-time sabbatical from my primary role as Career Coach. The clarity I sought came right to me—in the white space I discovered a deeper craving for greater connection and more quality time with my two teenage sons. Following my leave, I transformed how I worked and played so I could be more fully present for both my sons and my husband while at home and my clients while at work. Today, 7 years later in my new role as “empty nester,” I can say it was the best choice I ever made.
While you might feel out of control, as though you’ve lost your authentic nature, a mental sabbatical can help you find your way, once again.
Look At Limitations
Consider your limiting beliefs and write them down. Think about the stories and messages you received from long ago that no longer serve you. By encouraging productive thinking and creating new possibilities, you’ll create excitement that embodies more of who you are. For instance, is your line of work limiting? Or, are you more risk adverse? Be honest: According to research at Pepperdine University School of Management, authenticity and vulnerability are linked, so don’t shy away from acknowledging flaws or limitations.
Explore Your Life Story
Take this time to separate the happy, healthy parts of your “story” from the unhealthy ones that may have led to fatigue and burnout. You can also start your day on a positive note with morning motivational mantras from Now What?® Coaching to encourage mental change. At Now What?® Coaching, those suffering burnout or who are desensitized to their dreaming mechanism are also encouraged to engage in “hobby by crisis.” Once you’ve identified negative patterns in your life story, use your intuition to create new ideas.
For instance, engage in a new hobby that can bring joy. View life as an experimental laboratory, rather than a prison where you feel enslaved. Here’s an example: One client realized it was time to reignite his sense of humor. What started out as simply a fun improvisation class turned into a moonlighting side career, performing at comedy clubs around NYC.
Find Your Purpose
Enthusiastically search out the qualities that absolutely no one on this planet has that only you can offer. Ask others for feedback on what they come to you for and how you have enriched their lives. These unique gifts will help you define your purpose. For instance, a study at Florida Atlantic University found that people who lack meaning have higher risk of depression, anxiety, and substance abuse, but by encouraging participants’ creative talents, such as writing and meditation, risk decreased.
These gifts of purpose can also be quite simple, such as making someone laugh easily, being the voice of reason, inspiring wonder in others, or serving as the calm force in a crisis. Find ways to live from your purpose every day during your mental sabbatical.
Put yourself first to nourish the soul and regain authenticity. Whatever your path may be, approach it with excitement, openness, and curiosity—and you will see the healing it provides for health and happiness, long-term.
Originally published on Nancy Friedberg’s Linkedin articles