Ten years ago, I was going through a very tough divorce. My marriage of only five years was over, and I felt devastated, like I had failed and was letting down my then three-year-old son.
Back then, I craved normalcy and peace more than anything else. However, it wouldn’t be another four years before the long divorce trial and emotional roller coaster slowed down.
During those years, I was working full-time, commuting almost four hours a day, caring for my son, and grappling to hold it all together in my life. To make things more stressful, I spent those four years living under the same roof as my ex-husband until the court decided our destiny and place to live.
The truth is that back then I couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. Regardless of the emotional upheaval, I knew I was doing the right thing. Though, not a day went by when I didn’t feel mixed emotions about the past, the present, and our future.
These are some of the most meaningful actions I took that helped me navigate this difficult life transition and supported me as a leader.
You see my dear friend, from my personal experiences, I've noticed that it's all connected. When we're flailing in one area, as I was, it impacts the others.
As leaders, let's do whatever we can to support each other so we can focus on the task at hand--and spend our energy on the activities that will move the needle in our business and our happiness.
Tap into your superpowers
To help me get through all of it, I tapped into a part of me that I had seen earlier in my teen years when I immigrated to this country. It’s that part of me that is resilient, and that knows that whatever challenge life brings, I’ll figure it out. This part of me is very resourceful, curious, and determined. In the grand scheme of life, failure was never an option.
Lean on your support system of friends and colleagues
Throughout this challenging period, I sought out support and surrounded myself with people who could help me get clear on my path forward. They helped me heal the wounds of love lost, grief for a life that would not be, and the disappointment.
Some of those people and friends who lent me their shoulders and ears were peers, colleagues, managers, old team members. The support system that I had built throughout the years was truly indispensable. Their kindness was uplifting as I struggled to focus my energy on projects and deliverables when my personal life was consuming so much of my energy and creativity.
Be authentic and transparent
Being transparent with my colleagues about what was happening was a gift I gave myself, while simultaneously staying away from drama or damaging behavior at work.
This level of transparency, combined with a high level of awareness about monitoring and managing my emotional state while in the office, made a big difference.
My manager knew what was going on, which made it less stressful when I needed vacation days to attend my divorce trial. Careful planning to complete assignments and deliverables on time ensured that work didn’t suffer as a result.
Colleagues and peers who also knew provided a source of comfort and compassion, which during those times were invaluable. They also offered their perspectives, helping me navigate many first-time decisions around parenting arrangements, and co-parenting logistics that were completely foreign to me.
Learn and grow
Looking back, journeying through my divorce wasn’t easy, nor would I ever prescribe it as a “diet,” although I lost a lot of weight in the process. All joking aside, this experience has been one of the most significant in my life.
Learning about myself and the relationships around me, I grew and catapulted to a new level of leadership, resilience, and capability that I didn’t know existed. The lessons were humbling and helped me ground in my values and worth. They also exposed the gaps I had to fill to create a new life. I learned I wanted to create more meaning, impact, and relationships that supported my well-being and inner peace.
Stay focused and avoid the drama
Today, I am grateful and appreciative for the colleagues and friends who continue to be there for me, and vice versa, for the path that lies behind me and the one ahead. Staying away from the drama, focusing on what matters most, and cultivating reciprocal relationships with authenticity, open communication, trust, and cheerfulness is one way to go about it.
Continue to build healthy relationships
I can attest to how powerful building healthy connections and relationships with colleagues can be. For more than two decades in business, those relationships supported me through a divorce, the death of my dad, the birth of my son, and many other extremely sad and gleeful experiences. My team, peers, managers, and friends made all the difference.
Reflect on it
Today, I invite you to stop, assess, and consider your work relationships. How would having a healthy, supportive relationship with your team, peers, and managers support you as you navigate the waves of life’s challenges?
Developing these relationships will provide a great source of joy and a massive return for all involved. We’re all in this together.
If you enjoyed this article, share it with your network and leave us a comment.
How have your colleagues and friends supported you through a rough patch in your career and life?
In the meantime, be fearless! (act despite the fear)
With love and appreciation,
About Dr. Ginny A. Baro
Dr. Ginny Baro is an international executive coach, speaker, and #1 bestselling author of Fearless Women at Work. She is the CEO and founder of ExecutiveBound™ and Fearless Women @Work™ and the creator of the innovative and proven method, C.A.R.E.S. Success System™.
Ginny specializes in helping executives develop leaders, maximize performance, and increase profits. As a career strategist, she partners with talented individuals who are navigating a corporate hierarchy or transitioning into an entirely new phase of their professional careers.
She has successfully facilitated leadership training and coaching programs for global companies with over 65,000 employees and delivered keynotes impacting international audiences larger than 7,000 people.
For over two decades, Ginny held multiple Director and senior leadership roles in financial services and technology. Her academic degrees include a Ph.D. in Information Systems, an MS in Computer Science, an MBA in Management, and a BA in Computer Science and Economics. She's a Certified Professional Coach (CPC) accredited by the International Coach Federation. For more information, visit www.executivebound.com.
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