Today I am blessed to share the blog with an extraordinary leader for my alma mater, Jennifer Watson. Jennifer is the owner of Jennifer Watson leadership, a consulting company where she incorporates her gift of speaking along with the leadership skills she learned as an all American collegiate athlete at the University of Wisconsin, to help other high performing leaders elevate beyond their mental and spiritual blocks to tap into their zone of genius. I was first introduced to Jennifer through a mastermind group online and was shocked that one of the first things I saw on her Instagram page was her dancing in a bikini in the snow. It's that kind of fiery love of life that makes her and the way she leads so very special
Today we're talking about how to find your quantum identity, which I promise isn't nearly as complicated as it might sound. I know you guys are gonna fall in love with Jennifer just like I did.
First I asked Jennifer to tell us about her background with collegiate sports and how that helped shape her into the leader that she is today.
Jennifer answers, “It's really interesting I always say athletes are a very different breed of people and they really bring a different nuance to leadership. Sometimes good sometimes bad. The wonderful things I learned as an athlete were perseverance, communication, teamwork, getting up time and time again, after failure, refining your craft, so many beautiful things. I got to travel and all this stuff,
but also with sport, the tendency with sport is to really connect performance and success to significance and to love. That can become really distorted and create other behavior issues that aren't good for you and that can lead to the demise of a leader. So, I really have found that athletes, during their athletic arena days as well as post athleticism, have learned to use the great gifts and skillsets of being leaders on athletic teams in separating success from significance, because that's something that's really needed even as leaders in things we do, right? We're constantly failing and getting back up. One thing I definitely learned at a very young age from athletics is to separate that ‘wanting this goal but knowing it wasn't who I was or how great I was going to become’ to success and I think that's one thing as an athlete you really have to separate but I love the journey, it gave me a lot of great attributes I fan today as a leader. It's just like anything, you can take things too far, you want to make sure that you're really crawling in the gifts there. Being an athlete at Wisconsin Madison was a beautiful gift and served me as a leader for sure.”
You talk about separating that success and I also know that you talk a lot about identity, so when you have that success and that success is your identity for whatever period of time, when you go to move on then where does your identity come from?
“I think we all have to be really careful to connect identity to something that you're really good at, and how to separate your identity from something you're good at is highly important as leaders because we are training other leaders to be leaders in the team that was leading and if people aren't separating continuously who they are as people without all of our superficial successes, whatever that means you. For some, it’s buying the million-dollar home or making extra money
or having a certain number of kids. Our successes is very subjective but I always tell people the way that we get to our true identity, is if you took all that away, that you have now or have had in the past, that was “successful” to you, what would be left? That's where I start with a lot of my clients that are really struggling as leaders. We're trying to identify who they are without success because it comes and goes, right? As leaders, entrepreneurs, and people we have to remember that. There are people that lost a lot of things last year and they had to go back to “who am I, really”. That is your true identity. This is what I love to talk about with people because when you really get that dialed in and get firm steady on it and I do call it the quantum identity method that I use with a lot of my clients.
I call my method the quantum Identity method because you really dig in deep for some self-awareness. What are some old beliefs and behaviors that really are not you, then once we actually know who you are we self-actualize and then impact. Were onions, were delaying ourselves all the time and that's okay. That's what we call self-mastery, when you get that we’re constantly learning. Were never fully mastering until we die, that's just how we grow.
I also think it's really important for us to understand we do need other human beings to uplift us and connect us and celebrate us and hold us accountable and refine us by fire but ultimately we still have to separate first and say who are we so we can pick the right tribe, we can pick the right people on our team. By the way, newsflash, not everybody’s gonna like you, and I'm okay with that. I'm fine at that point in my life like I'm okay with that. It doesn’t mean I’m being mean, you can lovingly honor someone else's journey in yours as well and find your tribe there are almost eight million people the world again, right? You'll find the people that resonate with you, but you gotta find your identity first. You have to, and if you don't know what that is, listen, I lead people and executives that make a lot of money, okay. and they were miserable by the end of last year, they were like I don't know who I am I'm making all this money but I could care less, I’m like a walking corpse. They had to go back to this identity piece and they had to stand it and go you know what this is my truth, team, if you don't like it then we have to negotiate and figure out if this is the right team... and that's okay. It takes a lot of courage. but in the end, it's beautiful it's this beautiful dance, you get to co-create with yourself and with others that resonate with you so now it's fun. It’s ease and flow. We both know Kelly Brackett, we talk about doing things in peace and ease and flow part of that is just being more authentically you. and that's hard for a lot of people because we don't like rejection, we want to be a part of people, we want to be a part of something but man it's so not worth it if you self betray. and when you understand who you are you start getting really giddy about being around people that get you.”
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I think it's really important to note that your identity can change over time and that doesn't mean who you were is bad or should be forgotten. There are things that old Sara was and did that serve current Sara, so trying to figure out, as you grow as a human, What still serves me and what can I let go of? What can I honor by letting go of it?
"Part of the way that I teach people and the reason why I say quantum is because you get your identity and delayer and become more of you and evolve more quickly when you get the steps that I give people. We start with self-awareness then we go to self-actualization, then we go to impact, then we assess what's new that's coming up, then you go back to self-awareness and self-actualization then impact. You keep making the cycle and as you get better you're making quantum leaps in your leadership and everything starts getting easier. You’re working less and become more productive because you are in such a flow state. I think when we're willing to be malleable and know that we're always evolving, it just makes us have more fun with this process that we're talking about and I love it."
How would you go about having friends from old life who expect you to be the old person? How do you deal with that without breaking those friendships?
"There are going to be times that you're gonna have to let certain relationships go, or create boundaries (that also includes family everyone just FYI). Before you go to this friend that you're connecting with, you need to know what are your hard yes’s and what are your hard no’s are. I always say top three- like this person has to be able to open up her heart to expand to the new place I’m in. and maybe that’s negotiable for you because you don’t see them a lot? It's very person-dependent. That comes with your team as well, with the people that you're leading that when you have to present something to be hard in a team meeting or conversation is gonna be hard to discuss with people that you know maybe don’t agree with you there has to be this hard yes no negotiable the start happening in this community of your team and what do we need to create boundaries on, again even with teammates right we have to decide that. How it's taken, you gotta let go of that expectation. but decide what your boundaries are when you're bringing it to someone that maybe is not where you're at or doesn't understand where you're at."
Obviously, emotional intelligence, EQ, and self-actualization are ongoing processes that cannot be completed overnight, but what action steps could someone listening right now who is thinking "Oh my god, I also have no idea who I am." take today?
"Humans start understanding who they are by contrast, it's polarity, is physics. We have to play with things to see what we're good at and if you really don't know that's when I tell people to write things down that you want to try and play with them and you'll find out very quickly what you like and dislike. You have to first start with activities that are polar opposite from each other, maybe if you don't know if you're an introvert or extrovert, go to a party and then go by yourself in the woods one day. which do you like? Contrast is everything and also, once you start doing that, memories start coming up of times your life like, ‘you know what I remember I didn't like that is a kid’ or ‘I did like it’. It starts by just trying things out, it doesn't have to be a lot, it can be a ten-minute talk or presentation, going for a walk by yourself. How does that feel? The first step I would say is contrast, try a few things out. The second thing I would really encourage people to look at is when you sit and create space, and start thinking about your life in the things you want to improve, your mind starts relating old behaviors or beliefs that don't serve you well. We were meant to survive so that's where your brain's gonna go first. When you sit and pause it goes to the bad, why? because our brain wants to keep us safe. The reason why that’s important, is when you're going to think about things that maybe you're like wow that behavior or that old relationship or that thing that didn't go well doesn't make me feel good, when you pause there your brain starts activating the higher level cortex of creativity to problem solve that issue and the reason why that's important is If you have that constant memory coming up guess what is playing out in your current life? as the Saran wrap over your identity. I'm telling you guys this is huge, old beliefs, old behaviors are playing out in your current life from a bad experience in your past, you're just not aware of it until you pause. That's the Saran wrap we're talking about with your identity. So first step, contrast, play with things. Be willing to sit, even if it's five minutes. Your brain's gonna start looking at things you struggle with. Let the brain problem-solve for you. Just by being still it will give your brain an opportunity to look at something different a different way and you've got to do that to break free of the strand wraps all the contrast you do with the plane that I'm talking about actually can serve you in a profound way that Saran wrap design and that belief system is sticking there it's gonna be really hard for you to steal this contrast of this feels good or bad so those are the two things I would encourage everyone to do is play. See what feels good and expands you and what doesn't. Write those things down. We start the process second you gotta be willing to sit with the yuk and see with the behavior is and let your brain start making ideas to create a different story so you can get that Saran wrap off, use identity that is beautifully yours, and make epicness happen. "
I know there is somebody listening that as this is it's going to hit, and if you want to get in touch with Jennifer you can contact her on Instagram @thejenniferwatson with any questions.
We want you to live your life, which is your true identity, and be the leaders I know you were meant to become because that's what we need in this world right now.
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