We love formulas for how to live our life perfectly. Workout 5 days a week for 30 minutes a day. Don’t drink diet coke. Get on social media. All this is useful information but what we need to remember is that it’s information, not a precise mandate on how to live or be successful. When we internalize and try to live perfectly according to a formula, it just increases our guilt when we inevitably fail to achieve perfection.
Formulas are very black & white. Right or wrong. Instead, look for the nuance. Advised to fake it until you make it? It’s not about being fake. It’s about realizing that you have to experiment and try things out when you’re not an expert. This makes you vulnerable and is a risk. The advice isn’t to be fake; the advice is to let yourself know that you are learning how to be the expert and to stop worrying about being perfect. Look deeper to figure out the underlying meaning for you.
Take another example: The advice to network. I tried that as did many of the women we interviewed. Have you ever gone to some of these networking events? Some of them are quite atrocious, like a feeding frenzy for business. Instead, what about just connecting? The nuance is that connection is something we (women) do quite well and often naturally. And connection is where relationships are built. Business of course is all about relationships. Networks are very helpful in our careers; but how we go about it can be something we tailor to our own style.
Or the advice to lean in. Leaning in isn’t advice for you to forget your own needs and goals and do whatever it takes to become a leader. It’s about being a leader precisely by understanding your needs and goals and speaking up for them. Asking for things that you deserve such as a promotion or to work on a special project. It might also be to draw boundaries with your work so you can get more out of your personal life.
Living the Orange Line is about leaning into your whole life. Knowing what you want, what it looks like. But again, here’s the nuance. It’s not about yet another formula for living a perfect life: “oh no! Now I need to know what I want!” It’s subtle. It’s about learning step by step who you are. So you want to change companies because you don’t like your boss. What don’t you like about her? What about other teams? How are they led? What does good leadership look like to you? Can you overlook her lack of perfectionism at her job and just do yours? Can you hang in there until she possibly changes over?
Or you are a programmer and realize you don’t like programming. But what do you like? Oh you like working with the business to figure out their needs. So maybe you are really a project manager! Each of these subtle lessons nudges you to the next step. It’s not about waking up one day and realizing, HERE IT IS! Nope. It’s about nudging your way, step by step, closer to the life you want to live. It’s subtle. It’s nuance. It’s life.
© Jodi Detjen