The first 100 days in my new role – mommy to be

When you take over a managerial role, there is this magic rule: the first 100 are a crucial point for evaluating your performance so far and help make a prognosis for future success.

Well, in my case things are a bit different. A couple of months back, I realized that I had enough from that corporate world: The always-on, non-stop performing mentality. The seemingly impossible chance to take decisions within that machine that will not be overthrown by three or more hierarchical layers up. Although I loved the five years I worked for this company and learned so much that I am so grateful for, I realized that somehow this environment did not fit any longer.

It was time to take the first steps into a new chapter in my life. During Corona lock-down, I experimented with other forms of work, collaborating with people within my network. Together we created great products in leadership development and wrote a book. I felt energized and ready to start a new career.

Private blind spots

In my corporate managerial role, I learned to be rather quiet about personal topics especially when it comes to having a family. Over time, I got used to brush off questions into this direction with empty statements like “this is not for me”, “I have no plans in this direction”…

During lock-down, with some help of my coach, I slowly came to realize that I was not only lying to anyone who asked me this question, but I was also lying to myself. The truth was, that the future I envision for myself has kids in it. A family that lives together enjoying life to the fullest. There was this side in me that dreamed about having a family while the rest of me was still struggling to survive all expectations thrown at me in my corporate environment. My wish of being a mom, enjoying my life with kids, was buried under the fear of risking my career, the reputation I had built up, everything that I had worked for. I was afraid to lose my financial independence and derail from any future job perspectives.

It felt like a parallel-world: On one side, my newly career ambitions where I was ready to take the risk of not knowing how it would turn out in the end.  On the other side, my vision of a family that comprised similar fears. For the professional track, I was ready and prepared to overcome those fears and take the risk of starting something new. On my private track, I lagged behind, still worrying about the same things.

Life is faster than I can handle

Although I did not feel prepared or ready, reaching clarity about my wish to start a family did the trick. Just like the weeks before, life was faster than I could grasp in fulfilling me every wish I have. (Read all about it here) The law of attraction seemed to work for me again.

It was shortly after I had told my closest colleague that I was about to leave the company that the next change hit me. I felt it, when I went for a run. I was out of breath but so much slower than ever before. I felt pain in my stomach and my back. It was only after four negative pregnancy test followed by an extensive wine tasting, that the test finally turned out to be positive. This one moment of staring at the sign “positive” comprised so many elements of emotions for me. Disbelieve. Being overwhelmed. Pure Joy. Gratitude. Hope.

Adjusting to the new situation

Since I found out about my pregnancy, I have been rather silent on here. Mainly because I was struggling to keep up with this small but huge change in my life and all physical side-effects of growing a baby inside you. I dealt with nausea, exhaustion. Every day was different. Most days were challenging to say the least.

Besides typical symptoms of a pregnancy, I carried some thoughts with me that I had formerly only known in my business life:-

  • I don’t want to ask for help, I want don’t want to burden anyone. But how the hell do I get home when I am too exhausted to drive 240km and am too afraid to ask a colleague for a ride?
  • I don’t want to be complicated. How can I be as flexible and good at my job as before when I need to run for the bathroom in-between a meeting?
  • How can I avoid unnecessary attention? I don’t want to be the center of attention.
  • How can I keep my performance level? How can I remain the same (so nobody notices a difference) when I am so f’***ng tired?
  • Will I be good enough as a mom? Will I do a good job? What about all my flaws? About me failing at the easiest things like managing a calendar? Will that have a negative effect on my baby?
  • Am I really ready for this? What if I am not? What about my career? What about my job? What’s going to happen to my body?

Differently to my previous life, there was no way out. I really really really wanted to have this baby. I deeply loved it from the fist moment. Hence, I had to learn. The difference was that this tiny baby of the size of a raspberry was such huge motivator and driver to break my behavioral patterns. I knew that I had to change some behaviors so that this baby could grow and be healthy.

I started to understand that this was a phase in my life where I would not be a top performer. Neither in my professional life nor in any physical activity. So far, everything I wanted to do, I had been able to do. It was just a matter of discipline. Stay longer at the office. Push through. Get out with the result I was aiming for. Now, my body said “No”. When my body shut down and everything I felt was exhaustion, when I was painfully tired, no coffee or energy drink would get me through. My body did not need to be pushed. It needed to rest in order to let the baby grow. I had to accept my limits. Therefore, I started to decline or postpone a meeting, when I was just too tired to focus or felt sick. I shortened my working time, focusing only on topics of highest priority. I handed over smaller projects accepting the fear that I would not be a key player in the department any longer.

I dared to ask my colleague to drive me to work (without mentioning the pregnancy) which meant extra effort for him. In that moment I was ashamed to ask him for help, I felt powerless and dependent. In hindsight, I think we enjoyed the drive together having a great discussion and getting to know each other better.

I struggled with accepting my physical limitations also when I did sports. For the most time in my first trimester, I was basically lying flat, not able to get out of bed for weeks.

Whenever there was a better day, when I felt able to do some sports, I was disappointed with myself. Nothing worked as before. Everything was twice as hard and took me double the time. After 20min or so, my body would give up. It was new for me not to push myself, but to stop when my body gave me the signal to do so and just give it a rest.

The physical changes were another thing that was hard for me. I had always taken care of my body, my physique and my appearance. Not being able to work out and in addition gaining weight and finally showing a small baby-bump, did make me feel like it was not my body any longer. My yoga teacher started giving me special instructions that were different from the rest of the class in order to be pregnancy safe. I struggled with the extra attention and being “the weak” one of the class.

To be honest: I still struggle with all of this. Therefore, I am happy that I have six more months to prepare and get ready. To catch up to reality and gain confidence in my new role.

My “performance” review

After 100 days of pregnancy, I am still learning. I am still struggling. Physically and mentally. At the same time I am a 100% determined to do everything within my power to give this baby the best life possible. From day one, this small human became priority °1. This makes it so much easier to continue learning and going through that change.

Part of this learning is to understand that this new chapter of my life is not about performance. It is not about pushing limits, going the extra mile, putting in more energy. It is about being, resting, and nursing your body and the baby. Listening to what your body needs. Giving up the need to be the best in order to be fully there. Finding power in not doing more but resting and regaining energy for that little human being growing inside you. It is about letting go former KPIs and success criteria. Shifting the paradigm from performance to being. It is about enjoying that beautiful miraculous thing that is happening in that very moment. Being present, experiencing and creating life.

This is worth any temporary struggle. Or, looking at it from a different perspective: isn’t this a wonderful opportunity to grow as a person? And isn’t going out of your comfort zone to reach a new level what change is all about?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below 🙂

Finding the courage to step into unknown territory

A couple of days ago I was satisfied about my progress since I decided to start my personal transformation. I wanted to dive into the unknown, following my white rabbit down the rabbit hole.

My achievements, as I might call them, so far were:

  • getting clarity on what is important for me. Namely, the ground values that glue together who I am: love, creating with passion and natural authenticity.
  • defining HOW I want to live my life going forward. Creating a vision of a future life where I can wear sports-gear most of the time, have room for creativity, can work from home a lot, have space for my family and friends and can enjoy physical exercises and nature.
  • taking the first steps into this direction by exercising, writing articles and contributing to a book, making time for my future husband and friends who need my presence.
  • giving up -or let’s call it in a more sophistical manner: “letting go” half of my managerial duties, which has never happened before in my company and required a talk with the CEO.

Looking back, these are things that I can be proud of – and I am. I feel like the world has given me so much already that fits into my vision of life.

Here’s the BUT.

I realized that I am “not there yet”. As if there was a hurdle which I have not crossed yet. I know that this wall represents quitting my well-paid, managerial job in the midst of a global pandemic. This in turn means letting go of financial independence, my comfortable lifestyle, my career and my dear colleagues.

Deciding if I should let go of my job seems like I am standing in front of a big stone wall and can’t get over it. It reminds me of Harry Potter’s platform 9 3/4. To get to the magic train, young wizards and witches have to run towards this wall. Eventually they will experience that the wall is a secret door that lets people pass through the moment they touch the wall.

Like the young wizards and witches I am f***ing scared to run towards the wall. How do I know that this wall is truly magical? What if I run full speed, hit the wall and end up only with bruises on my head?

Even if I pass this wall – what lies behind it? Is it a magical world full of wonders, adventures and excitement? Or is it more of a horror movie that I will enter? Where everything is so terrifying that I will not be able to open my eyes to eat a bit of popcorn. Plus, I will have bad dreams for weeks.

Will I ever be able to pay for my bills by myself again? Will I ever find a job again that I feel fulfilled, joyful and passionate about? Or will I – after some months of leisure come back to the realization that I have to serve burgers at McDonald’s to make my living. Will I crawl back on my knees and move in with my parents having to clean my room every second day?

In my heart I know that I am going to run towards this f***ing wall. There is no way around it. It is right in front of it and I need to to do something about it. Going back is not an option. Just like Alice said:

I know how I want to live my life differently in the future – actually I already started to do so. I am certain that “now” doesn’t fit me any longer. I loved the past. I learned and I grew – but it seems I grew out of it.

My only choice seems to be “when” I will run towards that wall.

Hitting the wall (in case it is not magical after all) won’t be too bad. My future husband is a doctor 😉 And I am way too curious about what’s behind that wall not to go through.

If I land in a horror story, I will learn how to run fast and defend myself super-hero-style. Which is not too bad, now that I think of it.

In case I find a magical wonderland evolving when I easily pass the gate, I will take my time exploring it full of curiosity. I will be enjoying every minute and every adventure it brings.

So the main question will be: What the hell do I need to finally take this step? When will I overcome my damn fears? Maybe they sound so insignificant to you but for me they give me hell.

When will I find the courage to run towards platform 9 3/4? WHEN??? What else is needed to take this final step?

Writing about change, authenticity is valuable to me. So, it is important to me to also share how I struggle with change. How I face my fears and deal with them. If you look for a polished version, just jump over to Instagram or the social media platform of your choice. 😉

I dealt with personal and organizational changes for all of my professional life. So I think it is safe to say, that any profound change is not easy. It comes with its struggles.

“New” are fighting “old”, habits or fear. Maybe some setbacks are luring you back to where you were. The “known” sometimes feels more comfortable than the “unknown”. Especially if you feel like you need a break.

Here’s the catch: the shortest way to come out of the storm is to go through it. So let’s go.

The shortest way to come out of the storm is to go through. So let’s go.

If you are in the midst of changing something in your life as well, let’s go. It might be f***ing frightening but we will make it. We will either succeed or learn. We will be proud that we overcame our fears. We will look back at this magical wall, shrug our shoulders and smile about how insignificant our fears turned out to be. We will enjoy ourselves, smiling at the world and will be ready to explore it further.

Let’s go!

Heart Attacked

Yesterday LinkedIn notified me that my close friend from university got promoted. The simple act of congratulating him resulted in not being able to sleep for half of the night.

It was not the first time this happened. Over the past 10 years my mind has decided to go back to those times more frequently than I wished.

Every time I lie in bed, remembering how close we were. He was the perfect friend, supportive, a great sense of humor, down to earth – and handsome. We studied Economics together, both feeling a bit like we didn’t belong to those rich kids striving for great careers, already driving their BMWs to university. Being different than the other students and struggling with the overwhelming drop-out exams didn’t matter too much, as we had each other laughing about every challenge we faced.

Did I mention that he was handsome?

Okay let’s not beat around the bushes, I completely fell for him.

So it might be understandable that from time to time “friends” turned into “friends with benefits”. But when we met again the next time everything was back to “friends”. I don’t remember exactly how things developed. What I remember though is, that even my best friend got annoyed by my hopes for a romantic relationship with him.

Than one day, out of the blue, I met my prince (as my father calls him) who is my partner ever since. Maybe as a result, my friend and I grew apart soon and he moved to another country to start his career.

Now when my heart attacks my mind at night, when I am up thinking about him, I can’t help but wonder what could have been, would have been, should have been. It haunts me. The more time passes, the more I fill the gaps in my memories with imagination, probably with the most romantic scenario that I am able to construct.

What haunts me is not the wish for a different partner or a different life. I am so blessed to have my future husband as a partner in crime and couldn’t wish for anything else. What keeps me sticking to these what-if-thoughts is the feeling that I didn’t go for it. I did not try. I was too embarrassed to talk openly. I never found the courage to say what’s on my heart. I was too afraid to be rejected, to be humiliated, to be weak or sad.

Did I thereby fulfill my own prophecy?

I recently heard a tedtalk about the power of vulnerability. Brene Brown – the speaker – talked about the original meaning of courage which is “to tell the story of who you are with all your heart”. How you need to make yourself vulnerable in order to be fully seen and deeply connect to other people.

You need to make yourself vulnerable in order to be fully seen and deeply connect to other people.

It seems I was not ready for this back then. Which makes me think: now that I want to change my life and this thing still keeps me up at night – am I ready now? Do I have the courage to tell him how I felt when we were together, with the risk of embarrassing myself? Maybe he has fully forgotten about it. Maybe he doesn’t give a shit.

Still it fells important to me. Firstly, to close this chapter and come to peace with it. Secondly, to prove to myself that I a am strong enough today to be weak. And Thirdly, because I want to tell my friend that I miss him as my friend. Even if he is doing great without me, I would love to know that he knows he is valued, missed and important to another person out there.

So I am going to call him. I am going to talk to him. Break the circle of hiding behind nonsense-jokes and distance. Given my journey into the unknown I think it is a suitable challenge for me to do something I avoided to do for so long.

Wish me luck. Or better than that: Push me. because I am already f***ing scared.

Klare Schnitte

Was bisher geschah…Vor ein paar Wochen habe ich eine persönliche VerĂ€nderung gestartet. Mein bisher durchwegs als glĂŒcklich und erfolgreich zu beschreibendes Leben ging mit einer unspezifischen, latenten Unzufriedenheit einher. Lange habe ich mit mir gerungen doch schließlich beschlossen dieses Alles-was-man-sich-wĂŒnschen kann-Leben gegen ein neues, komplett unbekanntes einzutauschen.

Um dieses neue Leben zu gestalten, habe ich mich intensiv mit meinen Ängsten, WĂŒnschen und Werten auseinandergesetzt. Dabei habe ich verstanden, dass ich zwei wesentliches Antriebsenergien in mir trage:

Zum einen der Wert von Liebe und Geborgenheit, den ich in meinem Leben mit jeder Faser meines Seins erfĂŒllen will (auch, wenn ich noch nicht genau weiß, wie…). Zum anderen ist es das “Freie Schaffen”, der Wunsch etwas zu kreiern, zu bewirken, mit Mut, KreativitĂ€t, Disziplin und Leidenschaft in etwas Gutes in die Welt zu bringen.

Diese Ekenntnisse beflĂŒgeln mich und seither geschehen unvermutet schöne Dinge. Gleichzeitig bringt diese Klarheit unweigerlich Konsequenzen mit sich. Auch wenn man sie zunĂ€chst nicht sehen will oder nicht wahrhaben kann, sie sind da.

In meiner Geschichte spĂŒrte sich diese Entwicklung an wie ein Topf mit kochender Milch. Und wer so grauenhaft schlecht kocht, wie ich, weiß, dass man meistens erst das Brodeln bemerkt, wenn die heiße FlĂŒssigkeit zischend zwischen Topf und Deckel ausbricht, sich ĂŒber den ganzen Herd ergießt und sich der Feueralarm lautstark meldet.

Bei mir war dies der Fall, als an einem Abend vor ein paar Tagen meine berufliche Opponentin mein Team in höchst unangebrachtem Ton und ohne jede Grundlage attackierte. Ich bin normalerweise ein Mensch, der als ausgeglichen, gefasst und stabil gilt. Meist um Konsens und Harmonie bemĂŒht, mindestens aber um einen Kompromiss. In dieser Situation wurde ich unerwartet emotional. Ich konnte das GesprĂ€ch gerade noch -nach westlicher Firmenkultur-Standards- professionell beenden. Doch anschließend saß ich fassungslos auf dem Sofa, zitterte vor Wut und wusste, dass eine Grenze ĂŒberschritten worden war.

Ich rief meinen Vorgesetzten an, den ich zum GlĂŒck nicht erreichen konnte. Ich rauchte. Ich schĂ€umte weiter, zitterte weiter, war den TrĂ€nen nahe. Als mein Chef zurĂŒck rief, riss ich mich mit aller Kraft zusammen, um wieder den beruflichen GesprĂ€chsstandards zu entsprechen. Immer noch mit zitternder Stimme aber bestimmt erklĂ€rte ich ihm, dass ich einen bedeutenden Teil meines Verantwortugsbereichs abgeben wĂŒrde. Er spĂŒrte die EndgĂŒltigkeit der Entscheidung war erstaunt aber akzeptierte es. (interessanter Weise, hatte er bei bisherigen GesprĂ€chen, die in eine Ă€hnliche Richtung gegangen waren, immer auf zukĂŒnftige Lösungen verwiesen, an mein Durchhaltevermögen appellliert oder Konsequenzen angedeutet)

NachtrĂ€glich ist mir klar, dass dieser Moment der notwendige Auslöser, ein hilfreiches Ventil fĂŒr eine lĂ€ngst getroffene Entscheidung war. Wie das Blitzlicht des Fotoapperates, das der Auslöser fĂŒr einen besonderen Bildermoment ist. Mit der Weisheit des RĂŒckblicks bin ich dankbar fĂŒr das kindliche, unreife und aggressive Verhalten der Kollegin. Es war das, was ich brauchte, um den ersten klaren Schnitt in meinem VerĂ€nderungsweg zu machen.

Vielleicht klingt das jetzt fĂŒr den ein oder anderen nach einem “so what?”-Problem. Vielleicht ist es das auch. Gleichzeitig möchte ich die Frage stellen: Wer von euch hat schon einmal bewusst auf gut 40% seines Verantwortungsbereichs verzichtet, weil “es nicht dem entspricht, wie ich arbeiten möchte?” Darunter die Zusammenarbeit mit dem CEO zurĂŒckgelegt “weil es mir mehr Kraft raubt als, dass ich gestalten kann”. In dem Unternehmen, in dem ich aktuell arbeite, war ich laut HR Chef die Erste. Das gab mir ein GefĂŒhl von GrĂ¶ĂŸe, StĂ€rke und Stolz.

Als ich am nĂ€chsten Tag aufwachte, fraß mich die Angst. GrĂ¶ĂŸe, StĂ€rke und Stolz hatten sich ĂŒber die Nacht in Reuhe, Relativierung und Schwere gewandelt. Ich ĂŒberlegte ernsthaft den Weg zurĂŒck einzuschlagen. Wie dumm konnte man sein? Diese Chancen beiseite zu legen, kann nur unvernĂŒnftig sein. So etwas tut man nicht.

Das Geheimnis außerordentlicher Menschen ist in den meisten FĂ€llen nichts anderes als Konsequenz.

Buddha

Eine Woche spĂ€ter ist der Schritt vollzogen, soeben habe ich das Abschluss-GesprĂ€ch mit dem CEO gefĂŒhrt. Es war wertschĂ€tzend, offen, klar und ich habe Erkenntnisse fĂŒr mich mitgenommen. Ich gehe aus dem GesprĂ€ch mit einem GefĂŒhl von GrĂ¶ĂŸe, StĂ€rke und Stolz.

Warum ich das erzĂ€hle? Ich denke es ist wichtig zu verstehen, dass persönliche VerĂ€nderung, persönliche Weiterentwicklung und Wachstum mit Konsequenzen einhergehen. Man wird klĂŒger, die Optik schĂ€rft sich und plötzlich kann man nicht mehr akzeptieren, womit man sich bisher arrangiert Die unheimliche Scheiss-Angst vor dem Unbekannten ist weiterhin da. Nur: wenn man Dinge klarer sieht und nĂ€her an seinem Kern ist, KANN man gar nicht anders, als etwas zu Ă€ndern. Und plötzlich hat man eine Entscheidung getroffen, die man vielleicht schon im Innersten lange wusste aber nie den Mut hatte, es zu tun.

Was folgt ist wie ein Sog, in den man gezogen wird. Wörter wie “Persönlichkeitsentwicklung” oder “Learning Journey” klingen so romantisch, nett und gemĂŒtlich. Aus meinem Empfinden ist die Beschreibung realistischer, dass VerĂ€nderungung es wie ein unkontrollierbarer Strudel ist, bei dem man sich fĂŒhlt als wĂŒrde man sich an das letzte StĂŒck Holz eines gesunkenen Schiffes klammern und von den Wellen hin und her geschleudert werden.

“Werden sie dich kĂŒndigen?” fragt meine Mama. “Verlierst du damit Macht?” fragt mein Kollege. “Musst du auf Gehalt verzichten?” fragt mein Freund, “Wie werden deine betroffenen Mitarbeiter reagieren?” fragt mich mein Chef.

Honestly: I don’t know. Was ich in der Tiefe meines Herzens weiß, ist, dass das die einzig richtige Entscheidung fĂŒr mich ist. Egal was kommt. In jedem Fall habe ich daraus gelernt, dass ich Grenzen setzen, fĂŒr mich einstehen und mein Leben formen und gestalten kann, dass ich Mut habe und ĂŒber meiner Angst stehe. Das fĂŒhlt sich nach GrĂ¶ĂŸe und StĂ€rke an und macht mich stolz.

Habt ihr so etwas schon einmal erlebt? Wie seid ihr damit umgegangen? Ich freue mich eure Geschichten zu hören.

Love,

Florence