As I sat on my desk last weekend, I so wanted to have a good, deep, coffee chat outside of zoom! Deep in the sense that the company I was longing for would make my heart sing. I was so glad when the lovely lady I was hoping to have coffee with was available. Her schedule is usually jam-packed and her time is literally money. So, why was I super excited? When I see her, when she walks into the room, wisdom has walked in. Love has walked in. Joy and peace have walked in. The atmosphere changes. These are generally the people I will have coffees with. People who inspire me to become better, call out the gold in me, love on me and have silly belly laughs in the midst of tears and deep talks on all things life. They carry a healing presence, divine solutions and freely pour out from a deep well of experience, knowledge and understanding.
When you walk into the room, something changes, question is, does everything change for better or worse? Do you come in and your team members relax and take a deep breath because they know a solution has just walked in? We have all been there, in a meeting when “that” manager who consistently complains, nags or attacks begins to speak. Quickly and surely, any shot of life that the last cup of coffee topped up is washed away. We know family members who walk in and joy and fun exit stage left or the senior manager who walks in and productivity and focus leave the building as they bring their large ego and unhealed inner child to the big table, sucking you all into their toxic vortex of complacency and negativity.
We all know that moment; that tragic moment in the team meeting when alas, you look at each other, across the table, sad faced, as one by one you silently acknowledge “we have hit the ice berg, the titanic is sinking and we are all sinking with it!”
The journey to be the best version of you daily is an intentional one. Intentionally pausing long enough to truly evaluate your progress in building from the inside. Building healthy internal dialogue, creating a positive mindset and rebuilding the walls of confidence and healthy self-worth that insecurity and pain have torn down, happens on purpose. Being teachable and correctable by ensuring to have trusted, wise counsel around you who can call your bluff and lovingly correct you doesn’t happen by mistake. And when you fail, still allowing you to love you and knowing that tomorrow is another chance to continue needs to be part of your belief system.
So, do you “leave a little glitter and sparkle everywhere you go” or do you leave battered and bruised hearts in those around you as they barely escape your presence, crawling out with arrows of harsh words lodged in their hearts, choking cords of control over their necks, knives of betrayal in their backs?
One of my favorite scents over the last few years has been Euphoria by Calvin Klein. Today though, I had to google it as I haven’t owned a bottle in a long while and could only remember the brand. Since leaving formal employment a few years ago and embarking on a journey of purpose re-alignment and focusing on my healing and passion, there was no room in the budget for expensive perfume. Initially, my self-centered, corporate minded, “bougie” self was quite sad at the fact I will have to make do with store bought rather than designer branded perfume. Back then, the last bottle of Euphoria sat on my table top for months as if I expected it to miraculously refill. After a while though, I didn’t notice it any more. It became apparent that I was on a spiritual journey to work on the internal scent I was carrying and emitting. There was toxic waste in there from wounds and trauma that could never be masked or contained with any amount of CK or “La vie est belle”.
The fragrance we carry flows from the state of our internal atmosphere as well as the external atmospheres we expose ourselves to. We become what we think and who we are around. Slowly but surely, any toxic, negative mindsets and atmospheres we passively embrace, seep into our core and become part of us. Yes we don’t always get to choose our environments; we don’t get to choose our work colleagues, we don’t get to choose our family members, but we can choose the impact their mindsets and behaviours have on us. Let the garbage that may be hurled at you, roll off you rather than create a dumpsite for it in your heart and mind to sit in. Regularly, intentionally, take out the trash that slips through the door and the residual hidden trash that’s built up over the years. You can do this with simple, creative and fun exercises where you meet with you, and hopefully your Maker too and explore “you”. Make time for YOU to hear YOU. Who do you need to forgive? what fear and pain do you need to let go of? what dreams do you need to pick back up?
Make “You time” a priority! You can: journal your thoughts (ideas, dreams, worries, fears), go on reflective walks, relearn the art of play by actively curving out time to do something you love. Whichever method you choose, don’t forget to intentionally work at surrounding yourself with positive friends and community as you begin to address the skeletons in the closet of your life.
“Leave a little sparkle everywhere you go” is one of my favorite phrases because from deep within the broken and healing places of my heart, where I am aware of the battles I face daily, I have begun to honour the battles others face. The battles in life leave wounds and unhealed wounds emit a scent creating a sometimes pungent atmosphere within, that leaks out. However, we all have innate tools in our awesome spiritual DNA to diffuse negative atmospheres, regardless of the brokenness we may feel. We can intentionally choose to partner with joy and bring peace and unity by accepting and loving others where they are at. Peace and joy are our factory setting. Let’s revert back to factory settings.
As leaders, we learn to create healthy work environments by constantly shifting atmospheres. Sometimes that atmosphere may be an individual whose toxicity is affecting the whole team. The most toxic atmosphere I experienced was years ago when the team I lead had to sit in an outsourced third party building. Shielding my team from the highly toxic and negative atmosphere within that company culture was a task. I learnt that I had to find a way to successfully create a sub culture and actively shield my team from the negative, productivity sucking, life sucking culture they were smack-bang in the middle of. Toxicity is detrimental to team wellness. If I was passive, soon I would have poor performing team members with lots of sick days and very soon begin the tiring recruitment process as the talent I worked hard to nurture would exit. I left the comfort of my office and sat with my team in this extremely dark and toxic environment to figure out how to create an invisible wall that didn’t alienate them from the rest of their colleagues within the building but efficiently shielded them from the toxicity within.
We must learn to be present and aware of the unsaid words being spoken. We can cut down on the numerous unproductive management meetings and “pop in”, spend time with the team and observe their condition. We will then spot the: encourager on the team, discouraged one, the discourager, any toxic leadership or mindsets in the team and potential leaders within team members. A great performer is not always a great team leader and the discourager might need some attention, guidance or even counseling, and soon became your greatest cheer leader and vision bearer. And ofcourse, once in a rare while, there will be that one; the one person tearing down the foundation of the healthy team you have been tirelessly building. That one, may need to be helped out the door.
Back to “what fragrance do you carry and what do your feet bring?”; it is difficult to bring peace, unity and wholesome productivity if you do not practice leading a peaceful lifestyle. Are you at peace with yourself and do you live at peace with others? Hearts can sense safe places and safe people. Are you one of them?
Continuing with the toxic environment my then team was sitting in, it took me one year to realise I was a naïve, gullible and ineffective leader. In my early years, I was one who always believed in the phrase “let’s talk, we will find a solution”. It took me a whole flipping year to get out of my naïve, savior mentality and begin to walk in wisdom and build discernment. Slowly, team members from the third party revealed a whole other world I was unaware of; an extremely toxic leader who hurled insults and abuse at staff, and an overworked and underpaid workforce. After I got over the shock of my blindness I began to build the wall. After all, I found a signed contract and this was just how it was going to be for the foreseeable future. We were in a bad marriage and a divorce would be too costly.
Whether we like it or not we carry a tangible presence beyond our words. Good thing is we get to choose what that presence comprises of. As we step into rooms, lets aim to bring a whiff of a beautiful fragrance filled with top notes of joy, peace and understanding, middle notes of patience and a bottom note of love, rather than; pungent odours of toxicity, strife and countless insecurities. We get to choose the scents that make up the overall fragrance we carry and thus, the atmosphere create. Your choice will be evident for all to smell and see.