Episode 34: The Light of Disengagement – Leadership Arts Associates

Episode 34: The Light of Disengagement


The Challenge

Here is part two of the visualization exercise we started last week. Make sure you completed part one before listening – otherwise this will make no sense. 🙂


The Transcript

Hello and welcome to Random Ramblings, the official Leadership Arts podcast. My name is Samm Smeltzer. I am the founder of Leadership Arts and your host for today’s episode. We’ve been doing an entire themed series for all of March dedicated to this topic of Work Love in building excitement for the Work Love live experience that is happening this Thursday at the Leadership Arts office here in York, Pennsylvania, Thursday, March 30th from 10 AM to 5 PM for only $75.

We do have some seats available. If you’re interested, there is still time to contact our office at 717-430-2850 or send me an email at Samm, with two Ms, S-A-M-M @leadership-arts.org and I’ll be happy to get you setup and taken care of. It is $75 to take care of everything. You don’t have to worry about a thing. Once you get parked in the downtown garage, which we will validate, we take care of lunch. We take care of all of your materials. You just have to show up and be and have an awesome experience. That’s exactly what it is.

Before we get too much further in today’s episode in talking about how we’re actually closing out this series for March, today is my dad’s birthday. I want to say happy birthday to my dad. He is an incredible father. He is an incredible Papap to my two little girls. I think that this podcast speaks volumes to how much impact my father has had on me. I know I’ve had several episodes where I’ve talked about him and just things that I have learned from him and I have a lot of my personality traits that actually come from my father. A lot of the ways that I process things, they come from my dad.

It’s interesting because those characteristics are not what people most easily notice and pay attention to, it’s my mother’s traits because I guess they’re more dominant. They’re more loud and flamboyant, shall we say, that it’s really easy to pick up. Number one, I look like my mother. Number two, I laugh like my mother. I talk fast like my mother. I can be loud like my mother. All those things are things that are easy to be picked up by others.

If you are to dive down and really take a deeper dive and get to know me, you see a lot more of my father come out. That’s probably me and my brother too. Happy birthday, Daddy. If you’re listening, I hope you have a fantastic day. Chill out. Relax. He really needs to do that today because he had the girls. He was watching them this past weekend. I know that those are incredible loving moments with your grandchildren but very exhausting as well.

All right. Back to our series, if you are just joining us, like I said, we’re doing a Work Love themed theories. That would be interesting. But no, themed series about Work Love. What really truly inspired the Work Love Experience, which is the program that we offer, we started off kicking it off with this concept of me defining the collective we, people who this would resonate with, with me starting with myself and identifying who I was, how I benefited through this, and building that initial foundation to let people know if this is even supposed to be resonating with you, not saying that’s it’s all encompassing if you totally resonate with others that aren’t in that collective we that I called it.

If you’re interested in that, please go ahead and check that out, that initial episode at the beginning of March. Then we jumped into an episode called What is Your Dream Really, and really starting to connect with your inner joy. I made that link with back to when you’re a child, the desires that you had as a child, what you wanted to be when you grow up and gave you a great meditation called Inner Child, Inner Joy to challenge you and take some moments to do that.

Then last week, we talked a little bit about what does your engagement say about you. I gave you a visualization exercise to complete, to explore a disengagement moment. This week, we’re really bringing it home by doing the reflection on that visualization exercise to basically address where the light is in all of these disengagement cycles. When we are actively going through them, it is very hard to see the light. It is super, super, super duper over difficult to see the light in those moments. I mean, these are moments, whether somebody outside perceives them as something we’re taking too seriously or something that is not really a big deal to us, they are a big deal.

To us, we perceptually are feeling something. It’s causing a stir inside of some sort. I think that you can’t discount that. You can’t put that up and judge it against what other people are saying. There is a reason why it is impacting you the way that it does, which is why it is so important to go back and figure out the lessons that are there from those disengagement cycles. If you truly want to reengage in life and get back in connection and realigned, I think that this is absolutely necessary.

Yeah. I thought the best way to do this is to share what’s on my About Me page on the website. If you’ve ever checked that out and you’ve ever been curious and wanting to learn more and have clicked on my image on Team, Meet the Team image, you get led to an About Me page. The top paragraph is a story that’s called It’s Happening Again. This is the story that I had to process actually when I was writing the Work Love Experience. More so, it is the story that actually led to Leadership Arts and led to this happening. Really, if you wanted to look at this big picture, going and learning how to process these cycles of disengagement that I had in the past have allowed me to open the door to Leadership Arts. I’m still processing them.

I’m still learning what I need to so I can stay engaged. I’m also seeing in myself an increased awareness about when those cycles might be starting again. I’m an entrepreneur. I am the boss. I get to define what I do every single day. Today, I messaged my business partner. I message Mary Rose and said, “I’m not coming in today. I got to finish up some things for my podcast. It’s easier to do it from home.” I’m just going to chill out this morning before and not rush to get to the office because whose expectation is it that I be at the office? I’m creating that in myself.

I have all that control. Even so, that I have this flexibility and I get to choose what I want to do on a daily basis, I then get to choose what clients I want to work and not work with. There is still signs of me being able to go down the path to start these disengagement cycles again. Luckily through reflection and increased awareness and some healing of some thought processes that I have about myself, I can not necessarily avoid them but stop them early on in the process that they don’t get that far.

In fact, I guess Leadership Arts is almost like my own personal ego test to see if I cannot generate a cycle. If I do, it’s a really twisted thing because we all generate our disengagement cycles. In a lot of the cases in my past, like what I talked about last week, I can make the argument that it was a disconnection with my employer. It’s interesting when the disengagement, if that were to happen here, is a disconnection with my employer which means it’s a disconnection with the company that I built.

What does that mean for me? Does that mean that I need to change the company? Does that mean I need to leave the company and move on? That turns into a whole big thing. That is the story to come, to find out, reason why to stay tuned to see if what happens if I were ever to give into these disengagement cycles. Let’s go through the story that I have on my About Me page.

It says, “It was 2014. The dream job that I had found 18 months earlier was slowly heading into the direction of yet another dead end. I was two semesters away from a master’s degree that potentially could now be pointless. Each day, I became more and more numb, frustrated and disappointed with myself for once again making a wrong decision. On top of that, I was three months pregnant, making me overly emotional and exhausted. Today, I can look back and know that season of life was absolutely necessary. I needed to be numb and tired enough to stop fighting and start listening. What at the times seem to be one of my darkest moments actually was filled with a constant light that was at work.”

I think the important thing to realize is that I know that that constant light was there today. I don’t know if I was fully aware of it when it was happening. I may have seen what … I think this is where people make the saying, “A glimmer of hope,” because there is little things that happen. Even today, there are things that we’re going through. We’ll turn disengagement cycles, situations. Maybe they are part of a larger disengagement cycle. I don’t know. In the deep end of it and trying to process it, but there is still things where I have heard a number of people say there is still a glimmer of hope, whether it’s in relation to a client, and other people development.

Maybe those are their disengagement cycles that they’re actually living and going through. That glimmer of hope is what reminds us that there is a constant light that’s present in that work, in those situations. If anything, it’s a reminder that even how difficult that situation may be, how necessary it is to get you to where you want to be. That’s where going back to this concept of what are your dreams really, what are those things really for you, it helps make this process so much easier if you know where you want to end up or what are some of those characteristics or feelings that you want to have when you end up there, not necessarily being able to specifically describe what that looks like.

One of the things that really stands out to me now as somebody, I love to watch people and observe people. I’m definitely a people watcher. I’m introverted by nature so unless you pay me to be on, like on the podcast, or to teach a class or to be your mentor when I have to step it up and do that, I will revert naturally to people watching. It’s always so interesting to me because the first reaction that people typically have is to ask me if I’m okay because I guess I look tired. Really, that’s my calm, chill out state. It actually happened Friday. We were doing a photo shoot, Mary Rose and I.

I was really chill. I was really enjoying the fact that I didn’t have to be on that day. That we weren’t even going to the office. I didn’t even have to do my hair and makeup because there was somebody to do that that day. I remember very quickly the photographer said, “Are you all right? Are you cool? Do you need anything?” I’m like, “Yeah. I’m fine.” It’s just interesting. It’s almost like a meter for me to know when I am truly chill because the people around me will make comments to try to check in, which tells me that yes, Samm is really relaxed right now because she looks like something is wrong, really weird thing.

Anyways, back to my original point that I’m a people watcher. I’m in a couple of professional organizations, networking groups. Then one of them have been exposed to so many people who are so in tune with themselves and doing the work on themselves. The stuff that I started doing on myself three years ago, which is a lot of what birth Leadership Arts, these people have found that themselves as well and are making it happen in their own industries. There is a few of them that I think is very fascinating because when you hear their stories, it doesn’t seem like they had to essentially be beaten down. They may have had a hard day but not get to a place where they literally were almost to a point of stopping and giving up.

Then that’s when they chose to see the light in the situation. I mean, I think that they see it very early on, which attest to where I am at now. Maybe this is not true. Maybe these people had moments like this. That’s something that I’m just curious about. Maybe I’m seeing them at a stage that’s closer to where I am today. I didn’t see them when they hit those dark moment or those dark places where they had to pick themselves up and start looking at themselves, learning from themselves, and healing some thought processes.

Yeah. I have three lessons that I put on here of where I saw the constant light that was at work. The first one was that I was introduced to a woman that would introduce me to the concepts and philosophies that would change my life and career forever. The missing piece in my career, in my training, in my facilitating, I had gotten to a place where I had gotten pretty good at making people feel good throughout the training that you could get.

When we talk about smiley sheets, at the end, when you do smiley sheets, this is when you say all fives, you did really great. You’re a fantastic speaker. I had gotten pretty good at getting my ratings up, that I wasn’t average. I was above average to high. That is a pretty big accomplishment for me because if we just go full cycle back, I am an introvert. It’s very scary to talk in front of people. This even goes back to episodes when I talk about what are your dreams really and I talk about my childhood dreams and how that was really paralyzing for me. I’ve had to work through that.

Once I had figured that piece out, I realized that there was still something missing. Just because you’re really good, doesn’t mean you’re truly making a difference. That concept of being able to make a difference became very important to me. If I’m going to get up and I’m going to have a moment of your time, I want to have an impact, an impact beyond, “Oh, that was a pleasant experience even though I had to be there.” I wanted to have them leave with something.

In fact, it became more important to leave them with something rather than have all fives. In fact, we have a diversity workshop that I facilitate a lot. It’s probably one of my most requested workshops. It gets modified in several different formats. I’ve gotten to the place that it is highly effective. It resonates with a majority of people that I present it to on some level. I don’t want to say will because it resonates on some level and that’s what you want with diversity training. You want to cause a stir of some sort, a safe stir so that it resonates with everyone at a level that makes them a little bit uncomfortable but that’s growth in the diversity inclusion realm.

It has that much impact that typically when somebody asks for it, I do give the disclaimer that they might not like the experience. To give them an evaluation where they have to say if they liked me, most people don’t like you if you make them feel uncomfortable. I have the privilege of that with coaching clients. I get to work with you long enough that you can see the results and then tell me that you like me at the end of it. There are a lot of people that I have interactions with, that for one reason or another because I have to push, I’m sure that they can classify that they just don’t like me.

I have come to a place in my career where the impact and the growth and what you’re walking away with is more important than you liking me. This woman that I talk about in the story is Dr. Jo Tyler. She still teaches and is the chair for the training and development program at Penn State Harrisburg for a master’s of education. That’s where I got my degree. She is always asking me if I plug that program  because I know she is on her way to her path to retirement at some point.

She says, “If you keep plugging me, they won’t be able to find me later on when I move onto other things.” The master’s of education program in training and development at Penn State Harrisburg. It’s an awesome, awesome program. Obviously, I can’t speak enough to it because it completely changed my life. It is the program that gave me the confidence to start my business. The individuals and the colleagues that I made from there are doing amazing things. I love watching them on LinkedIn because they just have these amazing posts. They share amazing things.

I met Dr. Jo Tyler in my, it was either my second to the last class or third to the last class. It was the spring before I was going to go have my summer classes and have the baby. It was right at the end of my program because I literally had three classes left. Then I was graduating that summer. When I met her, I went into this class a complete skeptic because like I said, I had figured out at this point in time that I wanted to make an impact. She introduced me to a theory called Harron and Rason’s Four Ways of Knowing, which is actually the theory that brings in the artistic concepts as a way of processing and learning.

That is the whole reason why art is integrated into Leadership Arts. It’s not because I’m an art teacher. It’s no because I’m a hitting crafty person, which I like doing some crafts. Really, the reason why art came into a leadership development firm is because of this theory and because of this class that I went in as a skeptic, became a believer and saw the magnitude that it had on impact that I had never seen with anyone else out there, meeting all the leadership … Not meeting, but reading about all these leadership gurus, reading about all these leadership development theory, talking to colleagues, talking to mentors, seeing the best of the best, going to these conferences with the best of the best.

There was something missing. This theory allowed you to embed that, what was missing and truly truly provide the learning and development that we want to see in the corporate environment. Yeah, so that happened throughout this entire thing. I was pursuing my master’s degree. I was pretty skeptical about the whole thing. I was too far along in my master’s degree to stop which is really interesting because the same thing that happened to me of my undergrad career. I had to finish. I was pretty much a pain the butt the entire time. I was pretty much a smart Alec in my papers. I mean, I did them but I was not very engaged at all.

That was the person I was walking when I met Jo Tyler, Dr. Jo Tyler. What she gave me in that class and how she pushed and grew me really prepared me for what was coming and prepared me to begin these concepts of philosophies and this whole thing that has been constantly evolving for me, and linking things together because I think it’s what’s been missing for so long. It’s not just me as we see the results. We see the impacts. Even my business partner, Mary Rose, who has had her own set of experiences, when we this come together, it is like what has been missing and what we truly believe can help the workforce moving forward.

All right. Then the second one was despite my current job drying up on opportunity, it provided me the one I needed to see these concepts and philosophies come to life in others. That, absolutely true. In my current job, my director gave me permission to put these theories that most would be skeptical about and because I had the trust that was there, she allowed me to see what happens. That was the platform that really gave me a place to safely pilot this with an audience that was willing to sit there and see what happened, see what this impact is that actually had.

I mean, if this, now, launching Leadership Arts and seeing the struggles that you have, trying to get people to enroll in programs and build them and push them, it’s a huge thing. Picking dates that people can actually attend, and it’s challenging. It would be very difficult to get to this having a pilot that was as solid as what I had in my current job. The pilot for the first program that really put these philosophies in place, I had a total of 20, 22 people. They went through the entire series. I was able to maintain attendance with all of them. I think there was a set of three who had to miss one but came back and did a makeup session.

I actually had 22 people complete the first round of series which was huge. It was huge. It was just what I needed to see truly the power of integrating this in there. Then the last one was the people around me began to push and encourage, saying they knew I could and would do more. One of the stories that really stands out to me and it perfectly lines up with everything that I’ve been sharing is that the end of the class that I had with Dr. Jo Tyler, we were going through these cycles where we were raising artistic methods. We built our version of the game of Life in a small group. We all had our own paths or pieces that we were adding. We basically played this modified version of the game, the board game Life.

At the end, we were tasked with saying and making up what is the future, what does that look like for each of us. You had to prepare beforehand the scenarios so that, I mean this wasn’t just a spur of the moment that you decide that you were supposed to give some thought as to what that would look like. I had a couple. I mean, mine were staying current job, look for a new job, be a stay-at-home mom, continue school, get my doctorate. There was a lot of things that I was trying to process and think through. At the end, I still could not pick one at the end of that board game, but one thing that was very clear and I remember Dr. Joe Tyler ever reiterating this for me was that you can’t stay where you’re at. You just can’t stay there. It’s going to cost you to revert back. It’s going to almost crush what has been exposed in that last semester.

The light that they were seeing, you can’t stay where you currently are at. That was the one thing that was very true. What I wrote on the last paragraph of my About Me page says that by May 2014, I still didn’t know exactly what I wanted or what my future path would be. However, the one thing I could articulate was what I didn’t want. Knowing that was all I needed to start my journey to a purpose-filled life. That really was something powerful. This was probably my most recent disengagement cycle. I don’t know if it was as bad or worse than the others that I had gone through before this. This is the one that I can still feel very heavily on my heart.

It is a very familiar cycle of what I’ve had before. Maybe it was the magnitude of the same cycle reappearing over and over, which is what just makes it more difficult. To give you some insight as to where I was, my husband and I just went away this past weekend. We were sitting and talking about the way that I process situations now in comparison to five years ago or when we first met. Me talking about how unhealthy it was and how I was just in such a bad mental place that I refuse to see the good or I refuse to see the positive. I didn’t think it was even possible. I thought people who talked about it where quite frankly, just incredibly blessed in ways that they didn’t understand the big differences. There is not. There is not a lot of differences.

If you read the work from Dr. Brene Brown when she talks about this concept of happiness, the really big difference between the people who are in those or that aren’t is that those who are happy believe that they deserve to be happy. While those who are not don’t believe so. Somebody who has been on both sides, that’s 100% true. It’s almost just down to our perspective and our perception that’s there.

Those are my three lessons, talking about the light that was very present in very very dark moments. This week’s challenge is going to allow you to take the disengagement moment that you chose to release last week and the visualization exercise and put it, not put it, but reflect on it and reveal the glimmer of light at the minimum or maybe really truly expose the light that is present from that situation. Okay? Make sure that you listen to that challenge. Like I said, if any of this resonated with you, I strongly encourage you check out the Work Love Experience that is coming this Thursday.

We’ll also have one coming to the Harrisburg West Shore area in August I believe. We’re working out the details for that. Watch out for that to come. Once again, $75 includes your lunch, includes parking, includes all your materials. It is a retreat of a sort. It’s really truly to readjust, realign, rejuvenate, get you going on the right path, making sure that you stay on that right path. I’m a firm believer, the more that you do it, the more likely you are to not be out of whack and see things more clearly and staying on that path. We’ll also equip with those tools to keep doing that on a continual basis.

If you’re interested, there is details in the show notes or you can go to WorkLove.LeadershipArts.org. Also, if you love the series because it was a free training march, yeah, I gave content for free, if you really enjoyed that or know somebody who this can resonate with or help even if they are not available or able to attend the Work Love Experience, feel free to share this podcast episode or the entire series using the social media buttons found to the left hand side of your page. You can also join our mailing list at the bottom of the page and then you will never miss another episode of Random Ramblings.

Also, don’t forget to subscribe to us on Stitcher or iTunes. You do get first access to this episodes when you do that. Last but not the least, at the bottom, we always challenge you. You can always start a fantastic discussion in the comments area. But we like to use a format called TFWNs which are Thoughts, Feelings, Wants or Needs and questions that may have come to mind as you listen to this episode. Other than that, have a great week, and I will not be with you in March. I will come back in May.

Gina Noble is doing her four episodes, four or five episodes on using the 5s, the Lean Method for organizing your home. It should be a great way to embrace spring and declutter those homes and really release some of that negative energy that clutter holds. With that, if I don’t see you on Thursday, I will talk to you in May. Have a great April. Happy spring. When I talk to you, it will be warm again. All right, later.

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