So I have just come back from two fabulous weeks in Spain with wonderful friends. It has been a nourishing time for sure, but also presented me with a challenge and a major life lesson.
In July I was headhunted by a university for a Professorial position. It looked promising, with the potential to create something of impact in the future. It was the first time I had felt excited about the potential of returning to academia - I had not been actively looking but as the opportunity presented itself I thought it worth pursuing.
My inner critic - Professor Bowen - loved this as it gave her so much material to feed off and impact my business mindset. But, despite the internal turmoil, (which with hindsight I should have taken as a sign) I pursued it.
The interview date had not been set at the time I applied so I notified them of my availability, making it really clear that I was not available during the dates of my holiday.
How (un)surprised I was therefore to be notified during my holiday of an interview date within my holiday that (apparently) could not be moved. Of course, I was informed, I could join virtually to give the required presentation.
What to do?
Well obviously I declined. After I got angry.
Why did I get angry? Why was I not excited and honoured at being given the opportunity?
Because they had trampled on more than one of my values.
The first - fairness. I have been involved in many recruitment processes and there were several points where good practice was missed in this experience.
The second - honesty. The university website and blurb was all about how the institution supported and valued work-life balance. How ironic.
But the greatest lesson was that actually I just didn't want to go back to being part of an institution that treats people like that. I had been pursuing an identity I have grown out of because I felt insecure in my identity as a business owner and coach - Professor Bowen - my inner critic, had led me towards a course of action that was fundamentally out of alignment with my personal values.
By saying 'maybe' to academia I was saying 'probably not' to the hugely impactful work I do as a coach - work that I value above anything I ever achieved as an academic.
So, what is the lesson?
The lesson for me is about taking time to understand what your personal values are, and to consciously live them each day. To use your values to challenge your inner critic and to guide the decisions you make.
How do I know this is the lesson? Because having sent the email declining the opportunity I felt relieved. I also felt terrified about how I'm going to create a more aligned future, but the relief was the message I needed.
So my question for you is this: Where in your life are you living out of alignment with your values?