Reflecting on 4 years of coaching, consulting, & facilitation
I find myself tingling with excitement as I write to you because I said I would do a thing, and here I am doing that thing! For those of you who who missed my previous (and first blog in forever) that explains why I have struggled to share my voice, check it out here. For everyone else (and those who don't feel moved to re-read my previous post) know that I am very happy to be back in community and sharing my truth with you on a twice-monthly basis.
So what's up for this Dear Reader newsletter? If you recall, I shared briefly that this month Be Bold Services celebrated 4 years in business (woohoo)! So today I am going to re- share my origin story and use one of my favorite ecological metaphors (Onions & Orchids) to reflect on four years of business. Admittedly, it's a touchy time for me. I have lot's of feels about life and this subject, so I am going to do my best to keep things light and ask for your grace while I lean into my core value of authenticity.
I am also trying to put a little bit of something in these posts for everyone! So check out the bottom of this post to see what I am up to, learn a new tip, and explore how you can be in community with myself and other change agents. And for those who opened this email and thought "to long didn't/can't read" (TLDR) you will not offend me by skimming this article for the bold text or skipping to the end for more business forward content.
Before I start with the juicy reflections, I want to take a moment and invite you to re-visit the Be Bold Origin Story. I would love, love if you clicked that article and read it because it captures a whole energy and moment when I announced my business, but I know time is precious so I will recap the highlights for you in bullet form;
In 2018 I experienced an existential crisis & what some call a dark night of the soul.
During this time of extreme professional unfillfiment, I experienced a devastating health condition that coincided with the rise of the Trump Administration.
I decided to get rid of everything I owned and lived in my car for a year (with all my belongings) while working as a Climate Program Analyst in Washington, D.C.
Not paying rent provided me enough funding to solo travel to Belize (twice), Guatemala, and Mexico in a year to visit Mayan ruins and World Heritage sites.
I cried harder than I ever had in my life, spent months with very limited social contact, but poured my heart and soul into blogging, travelling, and reading about wellness, social change, and consciousness studies.
After numerous medical interventions and a short return to work I just said "eff it" and quit my "dream job" to follow my passion for self development and cultural change.
I moved into my parents basement, used the last of my $3,000 savings to become a Certified Coach, and then launched Be Bold Services on May 4, 2018.
Fast forward some four years later and I still get emotional when I think about the heartache, despair, and adventures that led me to create one of the most meaningful and life-affirming undertakings of my life; Be Bold Services.
I still hold back tears when I think about the heartache, despair, and adventures that led me to create the most meaningful and life-affirming undertaking of my entire life; Be Bold Services.
I struggle to find a way to talk about that time and what I have leaned since in a way that is professional and authentic, so I am going to share the most important lessons I have learned with a metaphor I have used in many facilitation settings; onions & orchids. This ecological analogy reminds me that there is healing in the bitter (onion) and beauty and fulfillment in the blooming (orchid).
In my post 4 year reflections, onions represent the challenging and downright sad lessons I learned while running Be Bold. By themselves and unprepared, they are layers of pungent, sharp bitterness covered in dirt. And they come in every type of color and shape (they are actually one of the largest plant species on Earth); some giving more aroma than another, but all serving tears.
But when you peel back the layers, chop, dice, or slice and cook them with other spices, they bring much needed dimension, richness, flavor and texture. Despite the tears I get from preparing them, I know that they also act as medicine for headaches, heart disease, and digestive issues. So accordingly, I have accepted them as an opportunity to digest the happenings of my life, connect more deeply with my heart, and be more understanding of and resilient to my insecurities and frustrations. Here is what I have learned from onion medicine over the last 4 years of work:
Not every one likes you, and you will not like everyone. If you try to please everyone, you will never get to be yourself with anyone. I learned this the hard way after spending hours carefully crafting beautiful RFP responses and presentations in hopes that people would be impressed with me. Then I would be stuck working on stressful projects devastated when I gave my all and the effort wasn't reciprocated. I learned very early on that there is an ecosystem of solutions, and we don't have to be connected with everyone or every organization in the forest to make change. I lost myself, my joy and my sense of purpose seeking perfection and approval. Capitalism tells us that we are only valuable for what we can produce. I have to remind myself every day that my worth is not what I produce and that my life is precious, even when I am at rest.
Capitalism tells us that we are only valuable for what we can produce. I have to remind myself every day that my worth is not what I produce and that my life is precious, even when I am at rest.
Consulting is by nature, a risky and extractive practice. After the warm fuzzy from a training wears off, people quickly revert back to their past ways of being. Even I find myself reverting back to old ways of being when I have a budget shortfall or there is scope creep and suddenly the budget isn't enough. From clients ghosting me in the middle of contracts to losing close relationships because of consulting work and giving hours of free labor, I have weathered the ups and downs of social impact consulting and coaching in a society that profits off of fear and insecurity. I have learned that agreements and forewarnings simply become words on a page when the appetite for change is replaced with overwhelm and when time and money are at stake. I have learned that who I work with is way more important than the work I take on. So I focus my anger on systems of oppression that breakdown relationships instead of pointing fingers and harboring resentment. I commit myself over and over and over again to expressing my feelings and needs. I give myself permission to cancel work when I don't feel safe expressing my needs or when it's taking a toll on my health.
I focus my anger on systems of oppression that breakdown relationships instead of pointing fingers and harboring resentment.
Being a Black, neurodivergent woman working with predominantly white organizations and individuals is a whole other level of emotional labor. Sometimes I wake up to videos of Black people being killed and then facilitate an equity training two hours later. I have experienced microaggressions when supporting organizations new to equity work, but consider taking the contract because I could use the money. I constantly monitor and flatten my emotional responses when clients think it's too political to use words such as oppression or injustice. I have dealt with the emotional fall out from other people of color who undermine my work. That one really hurts. Being neurodivergent triples this labor. In the beginning when I needed clients, I was constantly re-negotiating my professional boundaries to secure contracts and then performing the double labor of explaining why I needed an accommodation or made a certain request and why it's important for the organization's equity journey. I couldn't be human (or at least didn't let myself be). I felt like the only option was to be a polished, competent, eloquent, Black professional. I realized that I am confronted with my own insecurities, every time I encourage someone or some organization to break past theirs. That I must confront my own internalized oppression every time I walk with someone else or an organization seeking to do the same. All of this came at a cost until I created healthy boundaries and support systems for myself. I have learned that meditation, prayer, therapy, and surrounding myself with people who look like me, struggle like me, and love me unconditionally are non-negotiables.
I have learned that meditation, prayer, therapy, and surrounding myself with people who look like me, struggle like me, and love me unconditionally are non-negotiables.
Orchids represent the beautiful blossoms of my 4 year labor. They are the wonderful, life-affirming, exciting and fulfilling parts of my work. One of the most interesting things about orchids is that they are the oldest and largest of all flowering plant species. It is also believed they were around before there were continents! They also take anywhere from 5 to 7 years to mature before blossoming. But once they do, they captivate the viewer with their symmetry, beauty, vibrancy and magnificence. They compel you to stop, notice, and appreciate the richness of life. Their presence is a reminder of the gift of patience and care.
Over the last 4 years, every onion has been followed by an orchid; moments big and small that re-ignited my passion for consulting and social impact. Moments that moved me to understand myself more clearly and the Living World I call home. Here are some of the orchids I have experienced over the last four years.
Figuring out that I was a decolonization practitioner was an enlightening experience. There was some power in being able to find a word that could contain the common thread behind my undergraduate degree in history, masters level studies in sustainability and fascination with spiritual ecology. It just hit right. And even though it took me 2 years to find that language, it gave me a hashtag, praxis and whole body of knowledge to orient my work around. It helped me understand why I decided to give up all my things and live a life of less to travel, reflect, and connect with the Living World. It also gave me powerful language to talk about the impacts of capitalism, paternalism, mechanistic thinking, racism and other forms of supremacism that made me feel so disconnected from society, and many individuals and organizations unable to realize their full potential.
There was power in finding a word that could contain the common thread behind my undergraduate degree in history, masters level studies in sustainability, and fascination with spiritual ecology. It just hit right.
Prioritizing regular rest and living life on my own terms and my own timeline has been a game changer. Many of you know that I take quarterly rest periods of up to two weeks every solstice and equinox to unplug, recharge, and connect with myself and the Living World outside work. There were days when I worked 12 hours (like today when I committed to sending this blog out), and weeks when I worked 50+. But taking Fridays off and these quarterly rest periods let me lean into my natural productivity cycles and live in harmony with the birth, growth, rest, and decay cycles we see in nature. Working remotely also allowed me to feed my passions (instead of my fears) and live more fully. I finally fulfilled my dream of living in Mexico for 4 months while working full time in 2019. I finally got to visit the most biodiverse place on Earth and see whales when I visited Costa Rica soon after (video below). Last year I had the flexibility to take a last minute vacation to Sint Maarten, which ended up being the first vacation with family since I was a kid, and the best vacation ever. Most importantly, I have been able to set an example for clients and organizations who sorely need to prioritize radical self care and rest.
Taking Fridays off and quarterly rest periods let me live life on my timeline. It's allowed me to lean into my natural productivity cycles and live in harmony with the birth, growth, rest, and death cycles we see in nature.
I am good at what I do and I can make meaningful change doing what I love. There is a saying on Twitter (I'm sure it originated elsewhere) that if you wonder what you would have been doing during the Civil Rights Movement, this is it? I am comforted knowing that despite the unravelling of the world, the majority of my waking hours are spent showing up for myself, my fellow humans, and the rest of the Living World when it matters most. I am by no means perfect and there is always more I can do and plenty of ways to improve my work and self. But sometimes I nail a presentation and someone emails me after to say it was the best training they have ever received on equity and their worldview has shifted. Sometimes I facilitate a breakthrough in a coaching session and a client decides to take the leap and start their own business or start interviewing for their dream job. I get chills when they score their first client and land that job. Sometimes I help a working group reach consensus on an equity strategy after months of group editing in a google document and we suddenly find the word or phrase that gives us the feeling of completion and we are some how magically closer and more tender towards one another. And now they are speaking about equity more confidently and course correcting without being prompted. True partnerships are fortified and I can see the ripples of our work as I am connected by word of mouth to others. And I rest easier knowing that I am a facilitator and co-creator of that magic, all because I made a decision four years ago to live boldly and work intentionally. I take comfort knowing that I am being the change I wish to see in the world and that (clap), feels (clap), good (clap)!
I take comfort knowing that I am being the change I wish to see in the world and that (clap), feels (clap), good (clap)!
Phew! I feel like that was a lot. Maybe now is a good time to tell you that brevity is not my forte :). And while there is still more that I could share, I am aware that I am in touch with something here- an energy, a knowing, a moment that is similar to what I felt when I announced my business on LinkedIn four years ago. All of the anxieties, uncertainties, and fears melt away when I connect with and share my deepest truths. And I could not be more grateful for the journey, for the opportunity to take chances, make mistakes, and boldly work in service of transforming the world of work into a vehicle for sustainable, socially conscious, and strategic impact. Now I am thinking deeply about the power and potential that still exists inside of me and what seeds I should plant (and water) as I explore decolonization work and personal and organizational development more deeply. I hope you will stick around to see what comes next!
Alexis Goggans, PCC (she/her/hers)
Founder & President of Be Bold Services
Want to chat? Schedule a meeting with me
P.S. Check out the next section for updates on Be Bold happenings, tips to bring humanity back into the workplace, opportunities to be in community with me, & cool resources!
Tip for Bold Impact
A tip for to invite more health, harmony, safety, and joy in our lives Humaning is hard in 2022. The past month in particular, has been especially difficult for me and many others. I don't feel the need to name the collective trauma we are currently and continue to experience, but I do want to remind you that you are whole, valued, and deserving of health, safety, harmony, and (yes even) joy in these difficult times. I encourage you to spend atleast 20 minutes this week doing something just for yourself, even if that means giving yourself permission to do nothing at all. Whatever you do, remind yourself during this time that you are valued, appreciated, and worthy of health, harmony, safety, and joy. Go ahead and even say this out loud to yourself if you'd like. I recommend using third person language ("you've got this", instead of "I've got this") or saying your name out loud. There is a whole body of research on "The Power of Saying Things Out Loud" that explains why positive self talk is important.
And if you are a leader of an organization or team, this can be a great time to cut a staff meeting short and invite staff to use the extra time to tend to themselves and whatever else needs tending to. You don't have to mention any specific event or make a long statement- it's the honoring of humanity that matters. Encourage people to use the time for non-work related matters or self care, but trust that they will use the time in whatever way they see fit. If your organization offers free counseling, wellness or employee support programs, this can be a great time to remind folks of the resources available to them.
Be Bold Happenings
Check out this section for updates on my coaching and consulting work
I started a second business, the Institute for Coaching Excellence, which offers individuals a certificate in Life, Leadership, & Executive Coaching in just 6 months. Step by step instructions for launching a successful business, equity training, income opportunities and mentorship are also built into our program. We are currently accepting students for our Fall 2022 cohort! You can register for an Informational Session or learn more about our program here. Please spread the word!
I applied to the Fund for Liberatory Practice, which offers a flexible grant of $15,000 for coaches and consultants. I won't hear back until mid June but hope you will keep you fingers crossed and me in mind, as I look for opportunities to fund some exciting regenerative projects and a much needed vacation.
Let's Be in Community
Here are some opportunities to engage me & other folks doing bold work
I would still love to hear how you are meeting the moment. If you are moved, drop a few sentences in this Google doc. I hope to share in a follow up post. Yes, you can be anonymous :).
"Liberation cannot be ushered in by exhausted folks" - a direct quote from Wildseed Society who is hosting a Rest+Play retreat in North Carolina. Registration is closing soon so consider signing up or sharing with someone who might benefit.
Here is a consortium of Networks and Initiatives focused on emergence and social transformation from Brian Stout. Alot is happening this week (year) and if you don't know where to put your anger or grief, I encourage you to seek refuge in communities of practice who are working collectively to move society towards healing, emergence, and transformation.
Here are some interesting and inspiring things I have digested recently
I'm following Building Belonging on Substack and just read a phenomenal article on Polarization titled, "Polarization isn't the problem; it's about power". It is my #1 recommended read of the month!!! I am getting very overwhelmed by the political theatre and Stout's value-aligned analysis really helped me feel grounded. Please consider following Brian to deepen your understanding of belonging. You can also support Brian and the gift economy with a re-occurring contribution.
I'm watching the replay of a stellar, 1974 interview with Buckminster Fuller. It's great to hear past futurists speculate on the trajectory of human development. What I appreciate most about this interview is the exploration of human and social development born out of abundance, instead of scarcity and survival (which has dominated most of human history until recently). I also appreciate the commentary on the impacts of consciousness and technology on politics, resources, and labor. Just a heads up, the audio gets scratchy towards to end. Still worth it!
I'm reading "Sacred Civics: Building Seven Generation Cities" and appreciating the deep dive into how we can infuse indigenous and regenerative practices in city planning. I love the way the authors share their backgrounds in the beginning, it makes for a more personal read. Their framework and narration on the wise management of the commons through shared values is worth a read. I especially appreciate all the new language they are providing me and look forward to diving deeper. You can access this book by hitting the "download" button at the link above.
I'm (still) listening to this new podcast called Chasing Consciousness. I am continuing my deep dive into Carl Jung's work and learned about Wolfgang Pauli's attempt to bridge psychology and quantum physics in the Season 1, Episode on Synchronicity. What if our thoughts were collapsing quantum possibilities and influencing real world realities? What if synchronicity and the observer effect is what moves life from chaos towards order? Learning about his work and conversations with Jung and Einstein is making me consider a PhD in parapsychology.
I've been visiting Planet Neurodivergent's website recently after sharing some resources with a coaching client. If you are neurodivergent, there are tons of articles on topics such as executive functioning, navigating the workplace, and self care. If you are an ally or have staff that identify as neurodivergent, there is also a whole page on advocacy.
Thank you for following along and especially to those of you who provided feedback on my last newsletter. I also want to extend deep gratitude to my past and current clients. I literally could not do this work without your trust, effort, and commitment. I look forward to another year of growth and bold impact.
If any part of you is inspired or curious about this blog, please leave a comment or share with someone who needs to read this. And if you want more content, please follow Be Bold on LinkedIn where I share tons of resources, webinars, and consulting and coaching tips. It's a little more business forward there if that's your thing.