Career 27 October 2017
We all have skills and tools that we use to further our careers. Studying to get additional degrees or working extra hours to get a promotion are just two of the many ways that are proven to help create career advancement and success. However, there is another tool that is overlooked, undervalued and sometimes flat-out rejected in a work setting: intuition.
Men and women (especially women) are taught to ignore the irrational and unpredictable world of feelings in order to compete in the workplace. We are told that business and emotions don't mix, and in some cases that is very true. There is a time and a place for emoting, and very rarely is that moment in a presentation, interview or company meeting. However, the problem is that most people, while striving to maintain professionalism, shut all of their emotional antennas down – including the deeply powerful tool of intuition. And when this happens, they miss out on the ability to use their gift of intuition to elevate their careers and propel them forward.
Photo Courtesy of The Balance
You see, emotions are inextricably attached to intuition. Our empathic abilities are directly related to our openness to emotional energy. I am not suggesting that we all drop our defenses and cry or rage spontaneously in the workplace; instead, I am suggesting that we intentionally begin to have more of an internal awareness of our emotions throughout the day or in special circumstances. Would you even consider turning off your spellcheck feature before you turn in that important proposal or brief? Then why would you not check in with your gut during a job interview or during an important pitch to a client?
If you are more mindful about listening to your intuition in key moments, you can jump ahead or avoid a pitfall more easily than your colleagues. Giving your intuition a "seat at the table" in your decision making doesn't just happen. It requires intention, mindfulness and a willingness to be still enough to get in touch with your emotions in a work setting. Add checking in with your intuition to your to-do list around any work activity, and you are guaranteed to create better results in your career.
Here are my top five workplace moments where I suggest tapping into your intuition:
1. Job interviews
Don’t just try to impress; notice how you feel the minute you walk through the door. Is it warm and inviting, or cold and quiet? Sometimes we are so preoccupied with winning the "dream job" that we aren't noticing our gut sending signals. How you physically and emotionally felt in an interview or a potential workspace should weigh just as heavily in your decision-making process as what is in the offer letter.
2. Choosing your workplace confidants
We all need to pick our mentors, work friends and coaches to thrive in any organization. Just because someone is in a position of authority above you or says they are going to help you doesn't mean you should trust them with your career path. Check in with yourself. How does each of your colleagues make you feel? Sometimes it's the demure, 25-year-old veteran administrative assistant who really knows who to trust and who really has the respect of the C-suite.
3. Pitching that important client
You have finally landed a meeting with that huge potential client, and you’re willing to go to any length to show her that you are the right person for the business. Preparation is important. Research is important. But when you are delivering that perfect pitch, are you simultaneously listening to your intuition? How do you feel in the meeting? Is she responding warmly or staring through you? As you present, are you feeling closer to her relationally or further away? Don't drone on in the wrong direction. Use your emotional radar to quickly course correct a disastrous presentation or to keep on track and knock it out of the park!
Photo Courtesy of Hello Beautiful
4. Decisions, Decisions, Decisions
As you grow into positions of authority, the decision-making gets tougher and tougher. When you are the boss, by the time a problem hits your desk there are likely few choices left in terms of how to handle the issue. If you've weighed the pros and cons for each answer and there is no clear winner, go to your intuition. Close your eyes and imagine you have made one of the choices. Now notice how you feel in that scenario. You will always feel a little better or calmer with the right choice. The right choice never makes you feel worse.
5. Should I stay or should I go?
You finally called that bothersome recruiter back. He is painting the most glorious picture of an opportunity he wants you to consider. If you actually get to the job interview phase of this process. If you are not even sure that you want to leave your company...stop. Check in with your intuition. Why are you even considering leaving? There is an explanation. Are you not being challenged? Are you not getting along with your boss or a coworker?
If there is not a glaring reason, it could be something that you are in denial about in your current situation. You could be pushing through an underlying situation that needs to be addressed so it doesn't get worse. In other words, unconsciously ignoring your intuition. Notice your actions and look at what your emotional gut is trying to tell you. Your intuition can help you to address a problem so you can be happier at a great job, or finally, come out of denial to realize you are wasting time in your current position.
6 Min Read
I live the pain and stress of being black in America every day: I am a black woman, the mother of a black son, sister to black men, and aunt to my black nephews. I remember what it was like as a young girl to be afraid to go to Howard Beach for fear of being chased out. I know what it's like to walk on Liberty Avenue and be called "nigger" and being so young that I didn't understand what the word meant, I had to ask my mother. I know too well that feeling in the pit of your stomach when a police car pulls up behind you and even though you know you haven't done anything wrong you fear that your life may be in danger from what should be a simple encounter. Like all African Americans, I am tired of this burden.
African Americans have a long history of having to fight for our humanity in America. We have had to fight for freedom, we have had to fight for equality, and we have had to fight for our lives. The fight continues to go on. I have often quoted that line from the character Sophia in Alice Walker's The Color Purple, "All my life I had to fight." When I say this to my white counterparts it can sometimes be uncomfortable because it's clear that they just don't get it. They view it as melodramatic. But it's not. It's part of the black experience, and it is the part of the black experience that black people don't want.
I have often quoted that line from the character Sophia in Alice Walker's The Color Purple, "All my life I had to fight."
While I was out yesterday, passing out PPE and talking to people, a woman asked me, "What is it going to take for this to change?" I told her that I think peaceful protesting is a good start. But it's just the start. We can't elect the same people for the past 20-30 years, some in the same positions, and then talk about how nothing has changed in the past 30 years.
This injustice, inequality, and inequity will not spontaneously disappear. It will take bold, outspoken, and fearless leadership to eradicate the systemic racism in our country. We must address the violence at the hands of a police force paid to serve and protect us. We must address the recurring experience of black people being passed over for a promotion and then being asked to train the white person who was hired. We must address the inequities in contract opportunities available to black businesses who are repeatedly deemed to lack the capacity. We must address the disparity in the quality of education provided to black students. We must address the right to a living wage, health care, and sick pay.
While we like to regard the system as broken, I've come to believe the system is working exactly as it was meant to for the people who are benefiting from it. We need a new system. One that works for all of us. I am running to become the mayor of New York City because I can't assume there's another person who has the courage to do the work that needs to be done to create a fair and just city.
We can't elect the same people for the past 20-30 years, some in the same positions, and then talk about how nothing has changed in the past 30 years.
There are some things we may not be able to change in people, but at this moment I think that whether you are black, white, purple, or yellow we all should be looking internally to see what is one thing that you can do to change this dynamic. Here's where we can start:
If we want change, we need a total reform of police departments throughout this country. That is going to require taking a hard look at our requirements to become a police officer, our disciplinary procedures when civilian complaints are filed, and a review of what and how we police. No one deserves to lose their life based upon the accusation of carrying counterfeit cash. We also need to hold police officers accountable for their actions. While it is their duty to protect and serve they should not be above the law. Even at this very moment, police officers are overstepping their boundaries.
If we want change, we have to build a sense of camaraderie between the police and community. A sense of working together and creating positive experiences. We have to be honest about the fact that we haven't allowed that to happen because we have utilized our police department as a revenue-generating entity. We are more concerned with cops writing tickets than protecting and serving. Even during these moments of protest we are witness to the differences made when the police supported the protesters and stood hand in hand with them or took a knee. It resulted in less violence and more peaceful protest. People felt heard; people felt respected; people felt like they mattered.
While we like to regard the system as broken, I've come to believe the system is working exactly as it was meant to for the people who are benefiting from it. We need a new system.
If we want change, we have to be willing to clean house. And that means that some of you are going to have to step up to the plate and take roles of leadership. In my city alone, there are 35 city council seats that are term-limited in 2021. There are some that aren't termed but maybe their term should be up. Step up to the plate and run. If nothing else it will let our elected officials see that they need to stop being comfortable and do more. We don't need you out in the street taking selfies or reporting the problems to us. We need solutions. We need you in a room implementing policies that will ensure that these things don't continue to happen.
If we want change, we need to support grassroots candidates that are not in corporate pockets, who are not taking PAC money, and who really want to make a difference to their community. We need candidates that know first-hand and can relate to the experiences that many of us are going through.
We are at a pivotal moment. It is inspiring to see people from all races and backgrounds in the streets protesting, standing up for justice, and wanting to see change. We must seize this moment, but we must also be mindful that change requires more.
People often ask me why I decided to run for office? I am running for me. I am running for the little girl that was called nigger on Liberty Avenue. For the woman who has been pulled over for no reason. For my nephew who was consistently stopped during the era of stop and frisk. I am running for your son, your brother, and your nephew. I am running so that the next generation will never have to say, "All my life I had to fight." Because although we won't stop until we see justice and changes that address inequality and inequity effectively, this fight is exhausting.