Message from Houston: Navigating the Road to Renewal

photo credit: daniel scotton

photo credit: daniel scotton

"The capacity to renew is an essential strength. Both women and men need renewal and resilience."

Today's guest blogger is Kim Kristenson-Lee, CPL Team Member, who, as a resident of Houston, TX, is drawing on her resilience reserves!

With over twenty-five years of experience in increasingly challenging roles at a Fortune Five energy company, she brings thought leadership and unique approaches to overcoming difficult situations and changing times.

We are delighted she is part of the team for CPL's program When Women Lead. Here are her insights in a recent essay:

Navigating the Road to Renewal

Resilience for Women Through Purpose and Practice

Are you seeking renewal, in your life or work? Wanting more resilience? Perhaps you are being pulled by possibility, or perhaps you are being pushed by pain. How will you navigate your way forward?

The capacity to renew is an essential strength. Both women and men need renewal and resilience. Women may find they need more access to resilience than men. Women more frequently must confront conflicting roles at home and at work, and overcome unique obstacles in the business world. It is important to become aware of the great amount of resilience you already possess, as well as learning how to expand resilience. 

It Begins with Finding Your Own Authority

In our 24-7, e-enabled, and consumer-oriented culture, at least three areas demand that we learn and apply our own authority:

  1. Defining purposeful use of our time and energy
  2. Managing our energy expenditure
  3. Finding communities that renew us

These are all life elements that avoid burnout. But no one is going to require you to renew. You must make your own commitment, chart your path, and take your journey.

  1. Purposeful Use of Energy – Where Goes Your Attention?

At the heart of the matter is purpose. A clear purpose guides wise use of your energy. Richard Leider, founder of The Purpose Company, identifies two universal purposes each of us can utilize: to grow and to give.  Where are you going to grow today?  Where are you going to give?  “Save the world AND savor the world”, he advises. 

What questions now focus your energy and attention? What percentage of your attention goes to “why” questions (purpose based question about what matters most each day) versus “what and how” questions (activity based questions about what you feel compelled to do). Both are worthy. However, a daily pause to focus on the “why” questions is a cornerstone practice of self-renewal. 

  1. Managing Our Energy – A Paradox

You might think avoiding stress is a good thing to manage energy. Not true! We grow our capacities by stretching them. With great challenges, great growth is achieved.  Like any athlete, full engagement of our entire being is an important aspect of training. 

However, what differentiates a “self-renewer” from a “burnout”, is also placing a specific emphasis on downtime.  Deep rest and disengagement between challenges is essential.  Stretch and stress.  Rest and regenerate.  Repeat. 

It is essential to carve out undisturbed rest time on a regular basis, and that may mean letting go of other perfectly worthy things on the “to do” list. 

Your calendar is a great aid. Go to it and make a regular habit of booking downtime, with in-depth rest along a regular timeline that works for you. Do you have a day retreat in view?  How will you master cycles of both stress and downtime in your day, week, month or year?  With practice, you will learn the cadence.

  1. Finding Communities that Renew Us
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I live in a suburb of Houston, Texas. We just survived Hurricane Harvey. Humanity has taken a hit. Friends have lost their homes. It is a disruptive time. But, the storm gives each of us an opportunity to inquire, with fresh eyes. “Is there some way to take this hit as a gift?” In other words, what can we learn?

One of the most touching aspects of the hurricane has been the way people drew together in community, to assist one another. Both neighbors and strangers formed new bonds. I was reminded of the importance of community. We can find, build and sustain communities that encourage rebuilding internally as well as externally, and we don’t need to wait for the storm to awaken the need. 

A community can be as small as two people. Purpose-based teams or groups, that meet on some regular basis, can support renewal in any or all areas of your being - Mind (reading, writing, discussion, critical thinking); body (relaxation, exercise, time outdoors, mindful eating); heart (authentic communication skills, staying current with yourself and others) or soul (uncovering a set of values that have meaning for you). 

Whatever your current priorities, engage with one or more others who share common aims. Find some regular basis to do so. This is one of the most significant hallmarks of women on the road to renewal. Nothing succeeds like resilience. 

Kim Kristenson-Lee, September 2017

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