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Your First Fidelity

“True belonging is the spiritual practice of believing in and belonging to yourself so deeply that you can share your most authentic self with the world and find sacredness in both being a part of something and standing alone in the wilderness. True belonging doesn’t require you to change who you are; it requires you to be who you are.” ― Brené Brown, Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone

In this podcast conversation, I sat down with my colleague Virginia Bauman to speak about the Conditions of Courage. The ‘conditions’ are the things that you need to have in place, or the inner work you get to do, before you can confidently make a big ask or change without letting fear of the outcome keep you tied to something that isn’t working for you. This could be your role, your job, a relationship shift, or those situations in which we begin to feel as though our loyalty to something is beginning to get in the way of our loyalty to ourselves. 

We talk about this in the context of managing teams, from both sides — that of the employer and the employees, the leader and the directs. For employers and leaders, Virginia asks: How could encouraging your top folks to consistently be interviewing help the resiliency of your team? And, as you consider even thinking of asking them to do that, what comes up for you? 

In the context of what this means for employees or direct reports, the work required is for you to uncover what the conditions are that you need to have in place in order to make big moves or to ask for what you need in situations in which it doesn’t quite feel safe to do so. You might feel like you will lose your job if you speak up, or that you won’t get what you need. Yet, the need for change and the desire to ask for change persists in you. 

On an individual level, there’s a lot to explore here around your relationship with the organization, to your work, and to yourself. What fears are here for you? Fill in the blanks for these prompts:

What I would like to change is ___________

What I can’t say is ____________

I think I can’t say it because _____________

What shows up in the ‘fear category’ for you is where the work is. What will it take to say what you need to say, or ask for what you need, in order for change to happen in the current situation? What might you have to know or have in order in your life to leave the current situation if it’s not working for you and nothing changes? 

This is a tricky spot for humans. (And, for good, reasonable reason! For example: if you are not yet financially stable, the potential of losing a job has big implications on your life.) With time and exploration, self-discovery is inevitable and so is a way through. Soon, the conditions you need to be courageous are in place by your own doing. And, in doing so, you have a more stable ground from which to proceed in creating the change you’d like to see. 

When you can question how your loyalties may be providing a false sense of belonging–how are they making you small?–you stand a chance to arrive at a place of true belonging. True belonging is belonging to yourself, first and foremost. 

I like to apply the wisdom of horses to these moments which challenge us to bring forth our most authentic self. Author Anna Blake reminds us that: “Horses are honest. The language of the herd is more of a ‘Say what you mean and mean what you say’ approach. No one apologizes for their feelings or tries to control the outcome; they breathe and ask for what they want.” My wish for all of us is that at some point in our lives we all arrive at that place within ourselves and that stance becomes our first fidelity, part and parcel of our integrity, in any group or system in which we find ourselves.



Building the Machine vs. Building the Thing “The output of a manager is the output of the organizational units under his or her supervision or influence.” –  Andrew Grove Where have you experienced the brightest bulb challenge?…
The Most Essential Step “And the world cannot be discovered by a journey of miles, no matter how long, but only by a spiritual journey, a journey of one inch, very arduous and humbling…



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