#7 Sailing through rough seas…

For the last weeks, I’ve been jumping timezones and heard stories, impact, struggles, worries and leadership bravery in Austria, Jamaica, Trinidad, Italy and Ethiopia.

I had never more goosebumps and also felt the power of communities never stronger.

We’ve never experienced anything similar to those days now. Not all together as a global family.

I’m so proud of all teams in Austria, epunkt and Talentor International – you see amazing brave leadership and such high resilience of everyone going through the rapid changes.

I’m so proud of Jamaica, and how fast you took action and Lisa Soares Lewis and the @Greatpeoplesolutions team immediately supporting the nation. And I’m proud of all African leaders who protect their countries and learn from all that is happening (Go Ethiojobs.net!).

From last weeks calls, I’ve been seeing incredible women leaders taking rough decisions and running non-stop for your businesses, families, getting home schooling on and to navigate your team through all.

We have all just started a marathon (or ultra marathon…who knows). Kilometer 5 that might feel like 30 already…

Whatever Kilometer you are on right now, I’d love to help you boost your energy level so you won’t burn out while saving your world and sailing those rough seas over the next months.

If you’re in my circle, I’ll send you an energy booster every Monday via Whatsapp so you start your week with a smile and get all set to inspire your folks. Send me a reply, if you want to be added and I’m happy to share some magic with you.

More inspiring stories of women leaders who sail those rough seas to come…

Take good care…

…of Yourself.

… Your Family.

… Your Team.

… Your Boss.

… Your Organization.

… Your Community. But start with Yourself. And breathe.

Big hugs, Gertraud​

PS: This Forbes articles is a great read – two years old, but now more relevant for your power than ever. 10 habits that will change your life forever…

The beautiful picture is crafted by Morgan Harper Nichols.

#6 Women on Fire

Today is International Women’s Day and it is always a spotlight day to celebrate powerful women in our lives.

There are many opinions out there, almost similar to other One Day Events like Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day or Father’s Day. Yes, it would be great to celebrate every day the power of women and power of community, but we usually do not do that and get drawn into daily struggles and life.

So, let’s enjoy all the bliss, spotlight, discussions and insights during this day.

For this day, I wanted to share more insights of my recent work.

[Side Note: I’ve mostly seen those gifts and combination with women, but that could also be that 80% of my recent clients were women living and working abroad. So this is exploratory research only and sharing the themes I have seen coming over and over and over.]

Let me call this series Women on Fire for now…and you’ll understand why in a second. Let me start with the Gifts I’ve seen among so many women, who are super compassionate about their project, career or business:

  • You do not fit into any box. You are doing the exact opposite of what society would be doing, or your friends or anyone in your city. Is it that you are leaving your home country and following a big career calling in a weird country abroad. Is it that you are starting a business while starting a new job, and still wanting to get pregnant. Is it that you decide to run for an impactful big role in your career although everyone tells you to just be happy where you are. You love and enjoy disrupting those labels.
  • You really believe that anything is possible. You want to create a positive impact, inspire your team, leave a legacy. Your work is not focused to put a spotlight on you, but on creating real change for your community. Everyone can feel your compassion and see your eyes lighting up when you talk about your job, your business or your project.
  • You are always on the move. Learning, growing and seeing the next step is second nature to you. You’re always on the move, and about to create a new comfort zone. Whenever you are too long in your current comfort zone, it is time to disrupt it again…​
  • You inspire others to follow your example. All your energy is contagious and you soon see people following you, getting inspired and craving what you have. But they do not see the dark side of all your gifted life and blessings…

When looking into your Gifts, we’ve also detected in all interviews and sessions I had been working on in the last years, that although they are so powerful, they might also be working against you in some way.

  • Although you are so compassionate about all you do and glow when you talk about your work, you secretly run on an empty tank. From time to time (or also over longer periods in life) you forget to integrate self care into your packed schedule. You forget about Saying No to things that do not fuel you anymore. And secretly your resources and energy are getting low. All your compassion does not really match an empty tank, and from the outside no-one would also guess that you are actually feeling quite depleted from time to time.
  • ‘I feel that all I do is never enough. I am always striving for more, better, higher, different, more impactful…’. This sentence pops up over and over when I work with super compassionate women. The theme of ‘Never feeling enough‘ is a recurring one and is a heavy lift.
  • Being a Beta Version of yourself. A Beta Version is an almost perfect version, but still needs to be finally tested before the big release. We can compare that status to the feeling, that you always feel like not 100% ready, not 100% experienced, not 100% the right match (yet!) when you enter unchartered territory. Unchartered territory meaning a new job, moving to a new country, a new chapter in life (becoming a mum), a new initiative…

I’d be very curious – is this you? What part is you? Are you a believer, disrupter, compassionate women on fire? Are you struggling that you almost feel that all you do is never enough? Do you feel like a Beta Version or the Best Version on the Market?

Drop me a message and share your thoughts & inspiration on today’s Women’s Day.

The Series Women on Fire will be continued over the next months and you’ll see some powerful women sharing their compassion and secrets to fill up their tanks. Stay tuned…

I wish you all a wonderful Sunday – put a spotlight on you, all you’ve created and just enjoy some Weekend Bliss. That’s all you gonna do – and that’s enough and beautiful.

Yours, Gertraud

#5 The Fear of Failure

Nobody wants to fail. And especially not someone who is used to achieve your goals or even outreach them on a regular base.

So, imagine you are starting a new role in another country and you experience all layers of uncertainty.

No wonder, that most women I’ve interviewed in my Interview Series Expat Women on the Move were so afraid to fail abroad. So much more afraid than they would be, when they stayed in their roles back home. Read more about my insights here.

The question – What if I failed after three years or a certain time in the country and did not bring the results I wanted to see? – is a very tough one and we usually do not talk about it a lot.

When you are leading change abroad, you certainly go through struggles, but the final goal shall be to succeed. At any prize. The fear of failure is certainly in anyone who raised the hand and said: Yes, I am gonna take this challenge and move to…

So, how do we work with this fear in us? This inner voice that says: We need to make the change happen, otherwise we’ve moved the family at a high cost, the team is not happy and I know that I’ve failed.

When we are afraid of something new – a new challenge, a new country, a new role – it actually means that we are growing. It means that we chose a challenge outside of our comfort zone, and that we are right now creating a new comfort zone. The one, that we will exit in three years from now.

We won’t be able to get rid of fear. I’ve been watching a powerful Ted Talk just today about how a young African entrepreneur, Caleb Meakins, who recently passed away too soon, transformed his country by constantly spreading the word that failing is part of the game.

One saying stood out: We can’t stop fear. But we can stop that we get stopped by fear.

One client shared recently that the fear of failing in the assignment was always with her for the entire assignment of two years. She rushed goal setting processes, rushed to get to results and did not invest the time at the beginning to connect with her key people. One insight I’ve gained from working with her, out of many, was that everyone is afraid to fail. Especially when you are in a new role in a new country.

And in her case without a family support system. So, any extra layer of complexity seems like fear gets increased times two. All up to the point of almost burning out.

What changes the narrative? She said that she craved a community of like minded women leaders who address challenges in a safe space. Inspiring leaders who share in a very open way what they are afraid of and how they wanna tackle it are rare. If you do work with your fear, it will inspire others to see their growth vs. failing as well.

So, are you afraid that you will fail abroad? I’d love to hear your honest answer.

​Keep on rocking, and failing, and growing, Warriors!

​Yours, Gertraud

PS: The quote ‘Let this be the Year when you choose Courage over Fear’ is by Morgan Harper Nichols. A wonderful storyteller, writer and musician, who features real life stories and struggles in her art. It is like every quote reads my mind…

#4: When warriors turn into imposters

In my last blog post I was writing about how warriors turn into worriers.

That side of high achievers, especially women, that are their biggest critics to themselves. In my work and also in my own career and being, I’ve been noticing another pattern that sits next to Mrs. Worrier. It is called the Imposter Syndrome.

As an Imposter you tend to feel like a Fraud.

I recall one of my last conversations with a multi-talented and powerful women who was managing a complex organizational transition in a – what we call – hardship country.

She: When I started my role, I’ve never been managing a team before. I’m an expert in my field, grew a ten year career and managed projects at large scale. Never a team. Jumping into the role and on top of it doing it all in a new country was rough.

Instead of seeing what experience brought me here, I only focused for a year on everything that was new for me. I felt like I didn’t have a career of ten years before and started all over again. That feeling of being foreign, alone in the country and new to the role, overwhelmed me for over a year.

No wonder I rushed my team and did not take time to connect with them.

Executive Woman – Multinational in CEE

When we digged deeper into the results she created after one year actually, we saw that – despite feeling like an imposter for over a year – she created quite some remarkable results. The results were there. What was missing was her joy during the ride and also a team, that was united working for the same vision.

It is normal to feel like an imposter when you start in a new role. Especially, when this new role is also in a new country and you literally need to dive into your new organization but also into all the different cultural nuances. I’d say: Everyone feels like an imposter, if you take on a role that is a new challenge for you.

Respect keeps you growing. You are outside of your comfort zone and create a new comfort zone. What might differentiate women is that there is research that women tend to feel like imposters for quite some time. So, instead of processing your new role and working with your fears at the beginning of a new assignment only, you find yourself still struggling after a year.

Tell me – when did you feel the last time like an imposter? What cured you? Is there a cure ?

#3 Being a Warrior is tough business…

I still have one comment of a fellow Jamaican expat in my head, when I shared what I was working on, my passion to support women leaders (especially when they live abroad) and what fascinates me when women lift each other up and support each other through our journies.

She said: It sounds like you work with Warriors.

The word truly resonated with me. And I thought: Yes. Almost all women I’ve met along the last years abroad, who were leading complex assignments, lives and careers abroad, were bold, adventurous and so driven to make a true impact. Life abroad and leading a team in another cultural context even sometimes feels like a mission or battle. We activate all our resources to make change happen.

One of the definitions of a Warrior says:

”Warrior can mean anything from “a person who is known for being involved in warfare,” to “someone who fights in battle and is known to have courage and skill,” even to “someone who is engaged in some struggle or conflict.” … It sounds simple enough, but being a Warrior is tough business.

Leading organizations and lives outside of your home country can be rewarding, adventurous, tough, exhausting, frustrating and challenging. Challenging in a positive and in a rough way. It is certainly a place for growth and navigating a life outside of any comfort zone.

So, let me call you Warriors for this message. Warriors embrace their gifts and energies to play smart in their markets. They stand up for their organizations. They focus on their results and impact they leave in the country they choose to live in for a certain amount of time. They are bold. Adventurous. Choose the craziest places to make an impact. Choose courage over comfort many times in their careers and lives. They love the edge of their roles. And they also wish many times to have a more comfy life.

Society, their friends and family would second that you are a warrior. They would certainly not describe you as Worrier. You do not show up as being worried or constantly worrying about your life and career. Warrior or Worrier? Warrior.

But how about the question is not if you are a Warrior OR a Worrier in your life? I’ve noticed that the boldest, most engaging and adventurous women leaders always thrive for more. They are very hard on themselves and we find worry deep within them. Secretly, and mostly not shared with their environment. Because in our world, they are brave, and bold, and strong, and powerful. And worrying does not fit into who we are.

How about the question is: Warrior AND Worrier?

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