Living the Slash

Embracing Brené Brown’s Guidepost #9: Use Your Talents and Gifts


For those who have been along for the Rooted Bloom ride for a while, you know our very first Book Group for Growth was around Brené Brown’s Gifts of Imperfection. I credit that book with so much of my own personal growth, and it certainly supported my path into coaching. In recent months, the lessons of Gifts have been coming back to me, and especially those from Guidepost #9-Use Your Talents & Gifts.


The key messages from this Guidepost are, "Cultivating Meaningful Work: Letting Go of Self-Doubt and “Supposed To”. One of the ways Brown encourages this is to embrace "the slash," an idea that we can have multiple careers and passions in our lives, and not be shoe-holed into just one. This can feel somewhat controversial in a culture that privileges and romanticizes our work identity over just about everything else.


Think about it. It's habit to ask "What do you do?" to new acquaintances, almost instantly after getting their name. And even asking children, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" as soon as they can string a sentence together. In both of these questions, the unspoken part is, "What ONE THING do you do?" and "What ONE THING do you want to be when you grow up?"


So it can feel a little radical to have multiple answers to that question. I have been reconnecting to this Guidepost a lot since November, when I left my long-standing, full-time role with an organization to focus on building my coaching and consulting business. It has been thrilling and a little scary to ask myself the questions, "What ALL do I want to be? What ALL do I want to do?" In addition to applying this lens to my work, I also apply it to my other interests, that may not fall under the umbrella of "productive" (i.e. income generating). What a feeling to hold ourselves as complex and multi-faceted, and capable of multitudes!


While I see my slashes as ever-growing and evolving, I'm excited to share my current slashes as: Coach/Consultant/Facilitator/Social Worker/Amateur Birder/Reader/Walker Extraordinaire. I'd love to hear yours in the comments, and invite you to consider:

  • What changes if you invite "the slash" into your identities?

  • What passions can you honor?

  • What opportunities are possible?

  • What emotions come up for you? What are they telling you?

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