How my boss helped me quit my job

I really liked my last job. The company had values that I supported and shared, the colleagues were fun, leadership was authentic and strong (seriously, I have no patience with bad leaders anymore) and projects usually interesting. It was a really good workplace where I had flexibility and autonomy, and lots of fun. In general my life was pretty amazing and I knew I should be satisfied. I mean, I was happy(-ish), I did amazing travels during my vacation days, spent evenings and weekends climbing, practicing acrobatics, dancing and hanging out with smart, spontaneous, crazy-ass wild kids and go-getters like myself (LOVE YOU!). But I felt like life at its core was… wrong. Not completely out of place, just a bit… twisted. Like I was filling in the spaces of my everyday life with things I loved, but like the actual… direction of where my life was going was slightly out of place. What was supposed to be my main focus in life wasn’t right, but I could cover it up so that it was kind of okey anyway.It wasn’t until I got another job offer that I realised that things really needed to change. Suddenly it stood clear that change was unavoidable, and I needed to take control. The new offer talked to parts of me that had been under-stimulated for a long time, plus competition was hard and I was flattered that they wanted me. But I did really like my job, I was genuinely engaged and felt like I really mattered, and this other place was one of those huge enterprises where change happened slowly and hierarchy was all but flat. I had to make a decision, the potentially new place expected my reply. I was confused but knowing that I needed change I was tempted to take the offer just to shake things up and see something else. But I wanted to give my then current employer a chance and I wanted to be honest with them. So I called my boss. At first, I think she was a bit shocked that I hadn’t talked about it (the need of change) before. She was a preacher for transparency (a GOOD thing, mark my words, but complex – read my thoughts on why transparency at work is utopia in my previous blog post) and couldn’t see how I could’ve had this process going on without talking to her (however I think she understood that I needed to have my own process first during our upcoming conversations). Anyway, after some thinking about what kind of culture I thrived in, I decided to say thanks but no thanks to the new job offer. Moving from a small company where my words really mattered to a big enterprise was not a step in the right direction. But I still needed change.Our conversations about my future continued for a couple of months. Wanting me in the company, she opened up ways of changing my position and location if I wanted to. And here is the key, here is where my boss proved to be a leader and not just a manager; she only wanted me in the company if that was what I really wanted wholeheartedly. Not to make more money, not for her own pride of not loosing an employee, not to avoid messy changes within our projects. A couple of times during our talks she said something like ”as CEO I think this [advice], but as a friend and human I think [reflection/advice]”. Doing this I knew that she supported my decision no matter where it went. She didn’t try and talk me into a solution that would be seemingly better for the company (me staying), she tried to help me see and follow my truth. Our honest and authentic conversations lead to me not being able to dim the light shining on my dreams and my truth anymore. And I quit my job. And even though my boss probably saw it coming even before I did she waited for me to see it clearly myself. A manner I truly admire, and a bravery rarely seen amongst managers – but a sign of a true leader. 

“Our honest and authentic conversations lead to me not being able to dim the light shining on my dreams and my truth anymore”

Leaving my job was like graduating school. My feelings were mixed, I was excited to see what the future held, but I would miss what I had left behind. However, this was me surrendering to my truth and it was just no other way. It was time. I had amazing years at that company, I am so grateful for the people I met, everything I learned and for allt the laughters. But neither of us (me or the company) would gain from me staying when it was no longer my true path, when my heart wasn’t really there anymore. I learned what I needed and it was time to move on. I don’t believe in lingering when a phase served its purpose. Moving ahead doesn’t make what we had less important, its just a part of life. I know I would have come to the same conclusion even if my boss didn’t behave the way she did, the truth was inside of me all the time. But the detour would have been longer, I might have taken that other job offer and been stuck at another place before finally having enough of hiding my truth behind excuses and fear. I might have tried another position or location within my then employer and ended up failing because of not being wholehearted anymore. Even though me and my boss didn’t agree on everything, I truly respect and admire her. Leadership is all about leading people, not managing a company, and she gets that. For leading people, authenticity is the only way.I believe there is a shift happening right now, in me, in organisations and in the world, where anything inauthentic can no longer survive. Everything that is fake or false will come tumbling down. 
With gratitude. 
Hanna

Why transparency at work is utopia

When growing up, going to school and working at our first jobs, we learn to follow instructions and to do as others are telling us. This is not necessarily wrong, and in some situations it is even necessary, either way it is how it is and how we learn to behave. In modern leadership, transparency and authenticity are buzz words, a manager is supposed to be inspiring not instructing and working as in a team of equals with their subordinates (and they should certainly not use the word subordinate – we’re talking aspiring flat hierarchies). Following and giving orders is last century, and we are all supposed to be happily intrinsically motivated or speak up as soon as we experience an ounce of boredom, stress or hardship. As good as it sounds, this kind of culture is utopia. Strive for it yes – but as a leader you are making yourself a huge disservice if you believe you are all the way there.We all bring experience from school and usually a couple of more or less shitty jobs (being new to the job market you pretty much take what you get, right?). We all have our luggage of dysfunctional organisations and probably a couple of bad managers where being 100 % ourselves was a risk not worth taking. Even though some companies encourage their employees to speak up about anything; new ideas, suggestions, complaints – there is always the risk of stepping on the wrong toes. I’ve had managers telling their employees that they want transparency and are happy to be questioned as a way of developing; stating their values of high standards (because they learned that this is modern leadership) and yet not being able to live up to NOT taking it personal when being criticised. This is not surprising. Bosses are people too, after all, and learning how to handle critique in a good, productive manner takes practice. Not taking it personal and using criticism only as a tool takes hard work, and most leaders are to be honest not that mature. There are other reasons not to be fully transparent at work. Telling people about your shitty day might actually just put everyone in a bad mood, when it might be better for you and for everyone else if you just try to focus on getting stuff done and forget about that bill or whatever it is that put you in a bad place. You might not wanna talk about that you applied for your dream position at another place and didn’t get it. That makes sense, and it doesn’t mean that you don’t like where you are. Every healthy company and good leader understands that people have dreams and will want changes as they learn and develop, that is a good sign of having employees with ambitions. Actually, I think it is healthy to question what we are up to every now and then no matter what, and hopefully the answer to our question is that we are happy where we are. But when going through the mini-evaluation of the week/day/month finding out if we (still) like what we’re doing, we might not want to tell everyone. And that’s fine. Thus, even when working at The Perfect Company, as employees we will be careful. Even if you are The Perfect Leader at The Perfect Company, expecting your followers/employees to be fully transparent is not fair. What is crucial to understand is that it’s not about you allowing it or asking for it. Thats not how culture happens! People come with experiences of their openness being punished, and building a culture of trust takes time. The trust it takes to be transparent is interpersonal and for every new person in the company it must be reestablished. As a leader, you must lead the way to this openness and you are going to have to work to create the culture you desire. Its not only in your words or in your values, it is a relationship with each and every person in the company – including your relationship with youWhy am I writing this? I am and will always be a dreamer. There will always be ideas and plans on things I want to do that are not in line with any a company or with what I’m currently doing. I am a seeker and an explorer, and change is necessary for me. As I am trying to be wholehearted in everything and make active choices, if I am working with you I’m there for a reason. What we’re doing together is aligned with me and my dreams, but that doesn’t mean that I won’t be longing for something else sometimes in the future. I might even plan for that future as I am working with you, as a visionary that is how I function.I have been criticised and judged as less trustworthy for having aspirations outside places where I worked. For wanting to be MORE than just that one label. For not wanting just one career. Something I think is frickin’ awesome! I’m multifaceted and learn fast, I am brave and creative. But most companies don’t seem to be able to handle this truth – their employees want MORE, they have dreams that don’t include them. They probably understand it secretly, but as long as it stays hidden and unmentioned we can all pretend that its not happening. But we are all more than work, we are all multifaceted and our workplace is just one piece in the puzzle, one phase in our lives. I really hope we will be able to be honest and transparent about those things in our workplaces in the future, but its not easy. Understanding this complexity is crucial for being a good leader.
Stay true,
Hanna

Safe travels in 3 easy steps

As I am sitting there by myself, except for the driver, in a taxi with all my belongings in the trunk on my way through narrow streets in a foreign indian city on a late night, with no clue about if the driver is taking me the right way or if he has something ill-meaning going on, there is one train of thoughts going trough my mind. I’m thinking about all the times I’ve been traveling around in foreign countries with foreign people and been this exposed. Not knowing anyone nearby (or even in the whole country), not knowing where I was going and been obviously vulnerable. And I’m thinking about all the people I met during those times; all of those who understood my situation, my confusion and how exposed I was. And I’m thinking about the fact that NOT A SINGLE TIME has any of those people ever took advantage of the situation. Instead, friendly smiles explained the way to where I was going, drivers drove me the right way and gave me good advice on what to do and see in their hometown and how to stay safe, strangers walked me to the door when I was unsure of the way and every single time the goodness in people met me even when we didn’t even share a mutual verbal language. Even when we came from different worlds, even when we both knew that I probably have more money on me than that person earns per month, EVEN THEN goodness and compassion conquered.

I am of course reading and planning my journeys as not to take stupid unnecessary risks and I am trying to read peoples’ intentions as much as possible, sometimes leaving situations when it felt unsafe or uncomfortable, but other than that I’ve been trusting people and that is basically what took me around the world. As easy as i may sound, I have three steps that I believe is enough to be safe as a solo traveller around the world:

    1. don’t be stupid
    2. listen to your gut feeling
    3. have faith

Once you completed step 1 and 2, you haven’t been stupid and your guts are telling you that all is well, you can calmly move on to step 3 and trust people you meet. Because you will be okey, most people are good and you did all you could to make them see that you are clever and friendly. This way you will attract good people who wishes you all well and your travels will be safe and social. And of this I am certain.

Enjoy the ride,

Hanna

Changing. Everything.

Some decisions that may seem big sometimes just land as the one natural thing to do. Sometimes what seems hard is easy. Sometimes all you have to do is surrender to your truth, give in and let go. It may take years before the time is right and you are ready, but when you are, it is easy. Because you will know that there is only one way, your truth has revealed itself in a way that you can not unsee. It is pulling you, and there is only one way to make it stop – and that is to listen and follow in the direction it is pointing you. Surrendering to your truth is the hardest and the easiest thing in the world.

My truth – this truth – has been pulling me for years. But there were to many distractions and to much in life pulling me in all directions. There were some other experiences I needed and wanted first. I needed and loved my years at the university – goodness did we have FUN – and I needed, appreciated and wanted the jobs I have had. But the path that I’m now starting on just needed to happen at some point and its been waiting for me my whole life, but it wasn’t until now that I was ready or even really wanted to. I’m not telling you that me going down this path is some kind of divine plan (I’m also not saying that it isn’t), I’m just saying that it’s been in my dreams and visions for as long as I can remember. Now I’m not talking about the boho kind of visions and dreams (also not saying that it’s not) but in my very down to earth ideas on how I wanted my life to develop. Although some would argue against ”traveling the world, go from adventure to adventure, sharing my story and being my own boss” being called ”down to earth”. 

 To me it is, it’s more down to earth, more true and more realistic than any corporate job. Even though I am sometimes scared and worried the relief that comes with giving in to my truth and not trying to fake it is beyond words. And I am reminding myself that only where there is fear there can be bravery. And I know that the burning question for me in the end will be ”when I had the opportunity, did I choose courage over comfort?”.

Bravely,

Hanna