In uncertainty we trust

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Over the holidays, while doing a very necessary digital cleaning to my laptop, I came across thoughts I had written down exactly a year ago. Funnily enough, they are just as accurate today as they were in last January. With that said, I want to remind myself and all of you about learning to love uncertainty, which feels now more relevant than ever.

Let’s hear a blast from the past (January 2018):

“I don’t believe in fluffy New Year’s resolutions. What I do believe is that this upcoming year will bring big changes into my life. Define big. Well, practical things like graduation, most likely a new job, travels, a marathon. Other than that, I don’t know yet. May this be my wishlist for the year and we’ll see where I find myself in next December.

Some people don’t like uncertainty, but I love it. “Anything can happen” mindset means both opportunities and drawbacks – and the latter ones we usually don’t get to choose. Instead, I choose to focus on the opportunities, because life will surely provide some. Not having plans set in stone gives me the flexibility to survive and embrace the unexpected, eventually leading to something great. So, in uncertainties we trust.”

Life did provide great opportunities in 2018, oh yes indeed. Things that I had wished and planned for, but far greater things that I hadn’t. I became an aunt. I travelled to places that I had never considered before. I surprised even myself by having the most fun summer job at a radio station.

The biggest and most unexpected opportunity of all presented itself in May, when I got to know my current workplace. A startup IT consultancy, where I was warmly hugged by all employees from the very first moment I met them. I didn’t remember their names, faces or roles, but I could feel a genuine excitement and curiosity, that they really wanted to get to know me as a person. They weren’t interested in my accomplishments or perfect professional answers. Instead and this I learned later on they wanted to know if my heart was in the right place.

To be honest, all that felt extremely strange at first. For a fresh graduate like me (with rather limited work experience) it wasn’t exactly my perception of work life. That it is possible to feel loved at work. Without exaggerating even a little bit, that is how I feel like at work. Love in a sense that I’m 100% trusted and cared for, encouraged to be sensitive, and challenged to reach my full potential.

I’ve also grown a wider context for my love for uncertainty, because it means even greater things for us as a company. As we are building Mpya Digital together, we aim to be a company that thrives in the world of black swans, pushes the boundaries of tech and is a joyful work environment. And all of this, our entire existence and vision, is based in prestigeless sharing, belonging and caring for each other.

So no, I did not make any dramatic New Year’s resolutions this year either. Even more than before, I anchor myself in the surprising elements of life (which I call uncertainties) and being ready to change the direction in a heartbeat, rather than in big promises or expectations put together once a year. It has proven to be a solid strategy.

I wish you all an unexpected year 2019!

WANTED: vulnerable role models

Robyn, Melinda Gates & Margot Wallström.

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about role models.

I’ve never experienced passionate admiration towards one specific person. I get anxious from the question “If you could choose anyone in the world, who would you like to have dinner with?“. I think there are too many great people on this planet I could learn from.

My role models are rather those who are close to me in everyday life: my colleagues, friends and family, random acquaintances. I look up to almost everyone I know in something, whether it’s how they treat other people, talk about their spouses, love themselves, make decisions or manage their time. I constantly try to steal some of the “good stuff” that I appreciate in them.

Last week I was listening to three female role models – Robyn, Melinda Gates and Margot Wallström – at a panel discussion about women empowerment. Setting the gender roles aside for a while, the discussion helped me to crystallize my thoughts about the kind of people I admire and would like to see more of.

As Robyn said it, being a role model is about being yourself. It is not some I-need-to-be-seen-as ideal, title or role you try to live up to, but about being your true self. Being authentic and unique. Now this is tricky, since many of you might get offended here: “What do you mean by being yourself? I am always 100% myself!“. I doubt that.

If you practice self-awareness and dig deeper than the everyday ‘you’ that functions on an autopilot, you’ll encounter that there is so much more to it. Our society just lays such expectations on us that one easily gets used to suppressing the parts that are generally interpreted as less desirable. Hence, by being yourself I mean accepting and expressing the whole wide range of human emotions from shame and fear to love and joy – daring to show vulnerability.

If it still sounds easy, just think about it. Think how often you dare to get in touch with your authentic feelings in contexts like work. When was the last time you shared your biggest fears or dreams with your colleagues? Do you put on a “professional me” mask in a job interview, or worse – every day at work? Have you ever cried or laughed a full rolling-on-the-floor laugh in public and if so, did you feel ashamed afterwards?

In other words, being a role model is about wholeness. Margot Wallström referred to wholeness by saying that a person can’t be whole unless they experience love. Love in a sense that you are allowed and encouraged to be yourself with all the quirks, moods and interests that you have. This is where organizations often fail. They fail at creating truly inclusive cultures where masculine and feminine forces are in balance, and where employees can feel safe enough to bring their whole selves to work.

When Robyn, Melinda and Margot were asked what was the single biggest influencer on their paths of becoming role models, two out of three answered sensitive dads. Sensitive dads who encouraged them to be themselves and explore their competences within whichever area they felt the calling for. The way I see it, sensitive male role models are crucial not only for women to feel empowered and more included, but also for so many men out there who feel they are expected to fit into the box of mostly masculine treats.

The good thing with role models is that they inspire others to become a little bit more like them. I wish to see more role models who dare to be sensitive and true to themselves. That is also why I will do everything in my power to make others feel safe around me – so that they don’t feel the need of wearing any masks.