Episode 4: Making A Difference: Get Professionally Aligned With Your True Self with Julie Boyer
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Making A Difference: Get Professionally Aligned With Your True Self with Julie Boyer
We have the pleasure of speaking with Julie Boyer, coach and author of the book, Just Give Me Meaningful Work: Escape Your Exhausting Job and Start Making a Difference. Julie is a certified professional coactive coach and CTI-trained leader who helps purpose-driven individuals find soul-fulfilling work so they can excel and make a difference. There are many people who are unsatisfied with their work and feel that life is drudgery. I’m very excited to introduce you to Julie, who specializes in helping individuals find rewarding work and engage in life. Let us welcome, Julie Boyer.
Thanks. It’s great to be here, Lisa.
I’m glad to have you. Julie, oftentimes coaches have had their own journey that’s led them to coaching. I know you’ve shared some of your own story in your book but I was hoping you’d share a little bit with our audience about how it is you personally came to coaching?
I’ll start a little bit before, I actually had the idea or the clarity that coaching was my path. My background is in Fine Arts. After I graduated from college, I got two degrees simultaneously. There was a period where I was making a living doing art on the side but with work that wasn’t truly my path, it wasn’t totally aligned with who I was. I was working as a PE teacher and a coach and I loved it. In many ways, I love the people that I worked with and I loved the coaching aspect of it, but I knew I wasn’t going to stay in that field. I knew I wasn’t going to go get a Master’s in PE and I felt a little bit like a fraud or something and it didn’t sit right with me. I decided that going to graduate school for Fine Arts was the right thing to do to take myself seriously as an artist.
I got myself into one of the best art schools in the country and did a two-year grad program. I loved it. I love the inquiry. I love going deep into that area of interest of mine. When I graduated, I found that I was just as lost as I was before I went to school, if not more lost. The fact that I didn’t have the answer to the question of, “Where do I belong professionally?” was weighing on me at that point. I spent a year volunteering. I was at my parents’ house for a while, thinking that if I focus on what I have to give, if I focus on the care that I have for people and the different interests that I had, that would somehow show me the way. That’s actually a good path. It’s a good idea to go with your heart. For me, because there was more to it than that, there was more happening under the surface that was influencing my decision-making, it wasn’t doing it.
I was lost then I was stuck being lost. I wasn’t finding my way. I wasn’t having any insights about where I truly belonged, how I could make a living and being myself. I felt like I had a choice between either working and making a living and having a good job or being myself. I couldn’t actually have both. Around that time, I hit a bit of a crisis point because I had this unhappiness. I was exhausted from volunteering. I had worn out my adrenals, I had back pain and I had migraines. I completely burn out. At that time, an old boyfriend appeared on the scene and within a few months, I was engaged. That started the pinnacle of this life crisis, where I realized that I didn’t want to go forward on that either and it wasn’t the right thing to do. The relationship was emotionally really stressful. It got even more stressful after we got engaged. It was apparent that it wasn’t the right decision for me.
As heartbreaking as it was, it was the hardest thing that I ever had to do at that point in my life, I had to figure out a way to end it and emotionally survive that. I was so in the moment during that period, life came into full focus and almost there was a little bit of a feeling of a miracle around this time. I was very in the moment and I would have moments of clarity where I realized that love is ultimately what matters most to me in life. I started to feel connected to my core in that way. I started to realize, I actually have value. I hadn’t realized that at that point. I was seeking from it externally for that value. During that time, I picked up a book on leadership coaching and I had been obsessed with leadership for the last several years. There’s a strong relationship between leadership and creativity. When I read this book I was like, “This is me. This is all the stuff that I think about on the inside.” I’m not expressing on the outside at least not professionally. It spoke to a lot of the instincts that I had too, not just my values and what I believe in and how I see the world on people but also what I’m good at.
I like talking to people and having conversations that are meaningful, that brings out a person’s strengths, true beliefs or true emotions. I knew then that life coaching was my path but I didn’t have the conviction to jump into that. I didn’t know what the next step was. I started a business as an organizer. I became an organizing coach and I went through training for that with the Coach Approach For Organizers, which is a wonderful program. It took about a year. After that, then I have the gumption to go for life coaching training with CTI. I did their leadership training and I also did their certification. Now, I’m doing mastery training and the training will probably never end because I love it that much.When we follow one type of voice, it gets us into a lot of trouble. That's the one that will keep us running in circles. Click To Tweet
That’s how I found life coaching. It was a mix of a little bit of magic and synchronicity. Sometimes we get ourselves into a crisis so that we can get clear about stuff because we’re not seeing the signs up until then. It takes me in a place where I’m almost hitting bottom to say, “Something’s wrong.” I want to deal with it. When I had that book in my hand and I had that visceral reaction of, “I love this.” Then it was, “I’ve got to follow this feeling,” even though it’s all unknown. I don’t know how to do it. I don’t know what the next step is. I don’t even know if I’m capable because fears came in right away. It was I learned at that point, I followed it because that visceral feeling means something. I encourage my clients to follow that feeling as well and get in touch with it.
My work is very much aligned with your philosophy, I talk about discovering what’s in your acorn and that’s where that visceral reaction, those instincts and those values, that’s where it comes from. Listening to your story, I hear how much courage you had to not only listen to that voice but to challenge your own thoughts and maybe some of the programming that you had about, “You’re supposed to go to art school, you’re supposed to go to grad school.” That’s what makes sense there. When I’m working with people too, it’s one thing to get them to listen to that voice and have the courage to do that. Out of curiosity of the people around you, when you’re making some of these major life changes, did you have people around you who were supportive? Did you have people say, “Julie, you just went to grad school? What are you doing?”
Even though I felt at the time, I felt a lot of judgment, I actually think most of the judgment was coming from myself. I did have conversations where the other person would be, “You have this amazing life. You went to Ghana and built a geodesic dome with a bunch of kids there.” Very few people do that, I was doing great things. This is true of my clients too. Some of them are getting awards and knocking out of the park at work but they’re miserable on the inside. There’s this distance, this disconnect between what life looks on the outside and how I was feeling. That is something I see in the clients who come to me as well is that disconnect, that inner feeling that something is wrong. It’s not right but externally it’s very hard for people to understand or see why you would be unhappy because life looks great. It looks like you’re doing great.
A lot of times I hear from people, “Everything looks good on paper but this is not working for me.” To have someone that can help a person with that process of saying, “No.” Even if it’s on paper, what’s really important if you want to live that meaningful engaging life, it’s about, “Does it resonate with you?” That’s the key because what might work for one person might not work for someone else. Being able to have a coach who can help you with that process is such a valuable experience. If I came to you on paper everything should be great but life feels a job, a perpetual job here, I’m not doing it for me. How would you begin your work with a client? Help me understand that a little bit better.
Something that you said about finding your acorn. Part of the work that I do is helping people identify, which voices are coming from what you call their acorn, which voices are coming from what I might call like a saboteur voice or a negative ego. When we follow one type of voice, it gets us into a lot of trouble. That’s the one that will keep us running in circles. That the one that’s essentially, we’re choosing unhappiness without realizing it. Choosing the other leads us toward love, expansion, vulnerability and happiness. There’s a way to identify it but we haven’t been taught that. That is one thing that I’ll do with clients, as an example.
When I’m working with clients, I distinguish that. I call it the ego or the database. That often speaks in words because it’s our own thoughts and programming that we’ve acquired growing up. The acorn in that true self, I find that it doesn’t speak in words. Instead, it speaks in those energy shifts. That visceral feeling you felt like when you’re reading the leadership book. As you’re reading a book, the idea is your mind is taking off with ideas and expansion. Those things that you’re drawn towards those things that your mind naturally eats up or can just automatically see. I tell people, “I can have people who walk into a room and automatically see how it could be redecorated,” which that personally wouldn’t occur to my mind in a million years. I find that the problem is the voice of the database can be so strong and so it speaks with such authority that it overshadows the voice of the acorn. A lot of times, people can’t even hear that. Other times, I’ll have people who can hear it but they let the voice of the database trump it.
They choose it and they might keep choosing it and you get a certain result when you choose it.
How might you help someone differentiate that saboteur’s voice from your true purpose there?
On a simple level, when I’m beginning to work with somebody, I’ll direct them to their body. I know that the answers are in their tone of voice. This is the way that I hear what’s going on. It’s in their tone of voice, it’s in their energy and it’s in their emotions. It’s in what I’m feeling when I’m mirroring them. Emotions that I’m picking up on that are in the space, it’s how they end up showing up. You described so beautifully when you were referencing my story about the leadership book is, your mind is racing and all of a sudden you’re filled with ideas. You can see possibility and you’re believing in possibility because you’re feeling this energy, not only that but you’re showing up differently. You are a different person when you’re in that space. When you are following a path that’s not connected to your strengths or it’s based in fear or some of their constricting emotions, you’re going to show up differently.
The thing is that after years, if you’ve spent enough time or a lot of time in following the saboteur or the negative ego voice or what’s the database, what you call it, then you can start to believe that, “I’m not much.” You can start to doubt yourself because you’re not showing up as your full self. You’ve got a ton of strengths that aren’t being seen by you or anybody else getting to experience them. I will direct them to put words to what is happening inside their body. I will have them become aware of their tone of voice. Anything that I’m seeing, I’ll ask them, “Do you notice this? Do you notice how your energy shifted? Can you feel that?” That helps them become aware and verify and see the evidence by showing them the difference between the two choices.Life happens after work. Click To Tweet
I can see the same. I’ll tell someone, “Do you see what happened to your body when you’re talking about that?” You’re giddy, I’ll say then, “Tell me about doing X instead.” When you bring that distinction right there in front of them they could see, you could feel the weight on their shoulder. Their breathing changes the weight on their whole body and everything changes. I was, “Listen to that.” The way I try to tell people, “That is your best guidance system.” It’s those energy shifts and your energy, your body is telling you. Learn to trust that because the way I tell people, “That’s organic. No one programmed that for you, you came that way. That’s innate.”
All the stuff in the database or the saboteur voice, that’s been an accumulation of all our family, our society, media and all of that. A lot of people around you might think they know what you’re supposed to do, should do whatever but no one but you knew what you felt like when you’re reading that leadership book. They may have said, “Julie, look at what you could do with art.” No one internally knew the difference when you came out of that graduate program and in doing art versus what was going on internally when you were reading that leadership book.
Something that can happen if you aren’t following that voice and you’re not respecting your own true authority, which is happening in those moments, where you’re excited and feeling that organic inner knowing. What can happen is whatever would come out when you’re in that state, your strengths, gifts, your confidence and certain personality traits too don’t come out as much. It can create a situation where people don’t see you. You’re doubting yourself because you’re like, “I thought I was stronger than this. I thought I was smarter. I thought I had more potential, then I guess I don’t have that much potential because I’m not seeing it.” If other people aren’t seeing that too, that gets painful. It can feel alienating.
Can you give us an example, either a specific client or a collection of clients where you’ve helped them with some of these issues?
Everybody comes to me frustrated and stuck. That’s the common scene. Frustrated, stuck and unhappy at work enough and they’re also unhappy in other areas of their life. It’s already started to bleed into other places. Either the person knows they’re in the right job and is doing well at it, doesn’t necessarily want to change their jobs. They’ve lost the love that they once had of their work. They come to me so that they can get that back again or figure out what’s going on. If they need to change, they will. Some of the clients will not change. They learn to love their job again. Some of my clients know that they’re on the wrong path that they’ve been choosing that saboteur voice and they’ve gotten themselves into an industry that they don’t even value. They’re not able to be who they are.
These are people who are educated, ambitious and heart-centered. Everybody who comes to me has some heart-centered ambition and cares about what they do, what they produce or contribute with their work. They’re not of the mindset that it’s just a job and that life happens after work. They’re invested in that. Let me give you a couple of more specific examples. One client came to me and this client had a huge turnaround and fairly quickly too. He was a lawyer but he was working at an organization and using his lawyer capacities in ways that he knew were not at all matching his potential. He was essentially in a paper pushing job and he didn’t even feel like he was that effective in that job. He was disengaging, he knew it and it felt bad.
It was affecting his family life. This thing is typical. When we started to uncover some of the thinking, he took a look at how he was making decisions and what he wanted. He actually heard that voice, that acorn voice that you’re talking about. He grabbed onto it and saw that he would be stronger and better off at creating success if he chose that route. Whereas he saw, when I asked him to look ten years down the road and he looked at, what would life look like if I kept making decisions from this other place? He saw that nothing would change, “I’d be miserable. If I’m going to choose one, I’m going to choose the one that has the bigger potential.” He did and he started his own business. As a lawyer doing activist work, which is where his heart was. He discovered he had a huge vision, a change the world vision and he did it.
The transition for him was pretty swift and powerful. He cofounded an NGO, he’s been asked to be on CNN and to help out the UN at a Special Side Council. He became a leader in this field and it’s a dramatic example but that is an example of the thing that can happen. What he went on was the sense that there’s something more than this. I am capable of much more and I want to be passionate about what I do. I want to work from passion. He acted on those things. That’s where he went with it. I worked with a director of a nonprofit and she came to me in a state of burnout. She loved her organization, loved her job and loved the beneficiaries of her organization. There was a lot that was right about her situation but she was miserable. She wasn’t happy anymore and it didn’t feel right. She felt out of alignment and out of integrity because here’s this thing that she truly believes in but she’s not showing up in ways that go with that. A lot of things can happen to create burnout that don’t have to do with the job itself. They can be personal things like stuff that’s happening under the surface. She created this turnaround for herself and found her passion again. She started believing and dreaming again about the future. She got excited about work and was waking up excited to get to work each day. That’s exactly what she wanted.
You helped her in that situation get reenergized. She was in the right place but needed that reenergizing process.
The word that she used a lot was ownership. It helped her take ownership of her experience. It is part of the work that I do. It can be one of the things that clients learn but for her, that was important because she wanted more responsibility, not less. If I’m doing something to create this, then I’m willing to learn how to fix it. For her, feeling that ownership amounted to empowerment. If I want to be happy, I can be happy. If I want to set boundaries and enjoy some personal time, then I can do that. If I want to improve my situation, there are things that I can do to improve that situation. That empowered mindset where you’re not feeling life is happening to you but you know you’re actually able to think of what you want and create it.Feeling that ownership amounts to empowerment. Click To Tweet
I tell people, “You become more of a master of your own mind rather than at its mercy there.” One of the things that are so important about the work you do is not only did you help him find his passion. That is a great example of when people are doing a profession that is more aligned with their true self, the world will benefit from it. I think about what the world would have missed out on from him in particular, he kept being a lawyer.
It’s easy to see that in his example but I want to say that even when the circumstances are not as dramatic as his story, the same is true. I have a client who went through this program and she was in that same state of burnout. She was completely bored. Within the time of working with her, she figured out what she wanted to do and applied and got a job. Everything worked out for her. The thing that was important wasn’t necessarily the circumstances or the job title. What was important is that she felt positive again about herself. She got in touch with the real thing that she offers and stepped into it. If the thing that you offer is bringing joy to people’s lives moment to moment, that’s huge. That’s not contained in a job title but it is nonetheless, it can be your purpose. It can be the way that you profoundly affect the world around you.
It’s a benefit to both the individual and the world. One of the images that I always use is we’re all pieces of a puzzle. We call this world. The more we can just play our part to the fullest the better the whole puzzle will work. You’re doing such wonderful work helping people get aligned with what is their part to play in this world? Have the courage and follow their conviction of playing it. Can you share one piece of advice or suggestion for someone who is stuck, who is frustrated perhaps something they could maybe start even doing to help them with their own journey?
I’ll start by naming the biggest mistake that I see people making that I try to fix right away, which is most people when they’re frustrated, they focus on the circumstances that they want to change. Changing the job or changing if they want to stay in the job, changing a relationship with their boss. The question that they ask themselves when they go to create change is what can I get? What’s realistic? If I’m going to change a job, I’m thinking, “What can I do with my background? What jobs do people with my background do? It sounds logical and methodical but actually, that is rooted in a limited thinking from the get-go because that will take you into your head.
It will take you into this logical reasoning that’s disconnected from the stuff that brings you to life. What will happen is you won’t see possibilities that are actually there. You’ll only see the very limited possibilities that you set for yourself. You might not create a lot of resonance and you might never take action because it’s not so compelling. Whereas if you ask yourself the question, “What do I long for?” Not even, “What do I want?” I find the question, “What do I long for?” takes you into your heart if you’re going to be honest with yourself about what you need and what would make you feel fulfilled, happy or safe or whatever it is your emotional need is. I would start there, even if it’s visceral and vague because from there you can start to build out. You can follow the resonance of how that makes you feel, make decisions and choices based on that. For example, if what you need is more fun. You’re bored and you’re an adventure type. You have a boring job and what you need in life is a sense of thrill and adventure. I would start playing around with saying yes to things that make you feel that. You don’t even need the big plan but play around with saying yes, see where that takes you and notice what happens inside you when you do that.
Depending on even the types of questions we pose to ourselves or the types of activities we engage in, some of them are going to bring us closer to that voice of our heart. Some are going to get us more trapped in our head. It’s truly been a pleasure speaking with you and I want to thank you for all that you’ve shared and the guidance you’ve given our audience. To everyone out there, you can find out more about Julie Boyer through her profile in The Coaching Connector’s directory at www.TheCoachingConnector.com or go to her website, JulieBoyerCoaching.com. You can also download her book, Just Give Me Meaningful Work: Escape Your Exhausting Job and Start Making a Difference, which I would certainly encourage you to do. Thank you all. Please keep an eye out for our next episode of Guidin`g You Through The Maze.
- Just Give Me Meaningful Work: Escape Your Exhausting Job and Start Making a Difference
- Coach Approach For Organizers
About Julie Boyer
Julie Boyer is a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach and CTI-Trained Leader who helps purpose-driven individuals find soul-fulfilling work so they can excel and make a difference. She is the author of the book Just Give Me Meaningful Work, Escape Your Exhausting Job and Start making a difference, and has worked with directors of organizations, owners of small businesses, mid-level managers, consultants, and artists.
Lentino, L.M. (2014). Constructive thinking how to grow beyond your mind. Sudbury, MA: Grow Beyond Your Mind.