I love my “job.”
I have the privilege of listening to women tell their stories on a weekly basis, and I’m always fascinated when I see a familiar thread run through so many of them. Their awareness of that thread seems to be the catalyst for change and growth.
What thread, you ask?
It’s the idea that our worth lies in our accomplishments.
Granted, that’s going to show up differently in each woman’s life, based on personality and environment, but - there’s no denying that we’re taught that our value lies in what we can contribute. Some of us just internalize it more than others.
Kara Nicole Bitar took that idea and ran with it, starting in 5th grade.
10 years old. Such an impressionable and tender age. How many 10 year old girls do you know who strive to prove their worth with good grades, excelling in sports or measuring up to social beauty standards?
Kara took that baton, and ran that race hard, right up to the point where she realized it was either her or her job.
You see, Kara was a high stakes corporate litigator with what looked like her dream job. It turns out… not so much. So she took the risks, made the changes and today lives a beautiful life, knowing she’s finally doing what she was made to do.
You’ll need to check out this week’s podcast Episode 96: Optimizing Your Life to hear her full story, and trust me, it’s worth it.
Kara remembers wanting to be a lawyer as far back as she can remember. She pursued that goal with gusto, received her JD from a prestigious university and went to work for one of the best law firms in the southeast. However, her resulting UNhappiness propelled her into the same cycle I found myself in a few years ago - she dove deeper. She worked harder, increased her pro-bono work, and yet still ended up on the floor in the dark when she arrived home at night, wondering why she was so miserable.
There were moments in her retelling when I found my heart in my throat. You see, I know she’s not alone. I too, have experienced some of those same feelings of utter confusion and hopelessness, with no visible answers… but somehow KNEW there was something more.
So, she got up and began persistently asking questions. That’s all one can do in situations like that, ask questions.
My questions launched my journey that culminated in leaving my corporate job a year ago. Kara’s questions - while still in her job - yielded no answers. Sometimes that happens. It’s possible to get so far “under water” that you need something drastic to get you to a place where you can just breathe. Somehow, Kara found the strength and courage to just quit. With no plan.
I don’t know many people who walk away from a career like that with no plan whatsoever. Most of us are conditioned to see that as reckless, but she’s not. She’s clearly courageous and undaunted, and willing to do what it takes to build her own resilience. As dark as things seemed, she was confident an answer was available. Moving through life with no connection to the wonder and beauty inherent in even the small things was no longer an option.
Kara was, and is, willing to dig down to understand what’s going on below the surface. That search led her to discover all kinds of wisdom. She set out on a path to discover who SHE is, willing to experience new things, and nurture change.
Kara’s Leadership principle:
Honor the ‘knowing’ we each have within ourselves and nurture the ability to do something with it.
That’s what keeps us moving forward. What she called “knowing.” It’s that voice, deep down, that reminds you that you matter. The one that whispers in the dark, don’t give up, the answers really are there. Go find them. You’re not only worth what you can contribute.
“YOU,” my friend, ARE the contribution.
That’s what I’m all about here. Holding out example after example of how the things we’ve been taught - conventional wisdom, if you will - needs to be turned on its head. Debunked.
Kara did have an inkling she would end up where she is today. She remembers reading women’s self-help books, way back in elementary school. She was looking, even then, for what she needed. I always find it fascinating when women tell me of their earliest leadership memories, only to realize that what they did as a child is either what they are doing now, or really similar. Suddenly, where they are, right now, makes a whole lot more sense.
So, what does Kara do, now that she has (re)discovered who she really is and how she can serve others, to keep her on that path?
Her habits have emerged from her quest:
Yoga - specifically Kundalini Yoga. Kara stays in touch with her body and what it needs to thrive, through a regular practice of Kundalini’s breathing techniques, eye and hand postures. Not being familiar with this type of yoga, she gave me a quick primer, so if you’re interested, make sure you give the podcast episode a listen. A yoga practice (in general) is going to help you stay more grounded, present and in touch with what your physical body is telling you - about everything. This is an area I am slowly learning, and I can tell a difference in my own ability to read and trust what my body is telling me, when I’m regularly practicing the yoga techniques I’ve been given to practice.
Living in the way you are structured to thrive. Once Kara figured out how she was structured - her gifts & talents, personality makeup - she started living in a way that lined up with her own structure. Now, she proactively gives that gift to others so they don’t have to go through what she did, all on her own. Kara is completely life-focused. As a yogi, she’s in a daily practice of understanding her own wellness, and her programs help others uncover who they are and how to live within their unique makeup.
This falls right in step with the philosophy of Intentional Optimism, where we celebrate each person’s unique skills, abilities, personality wiring, and experience, in order to allow each of us to become everything we were created to be.
Do you hear yourself in Kara’s story?
Are you confused by the fact that you are exactly where you planned to be, and yet are completely miserable?
My friend, it’s not too late to make a change. You’re in there, I promise, let’s find you!
How can you begin your own journey?
Here's Kara’s advice: start by asking questions.
Specifically, start paying attention to your thoughts, and identifying the feelings that go along with them. Feelings give you very important information, especially when they are accompanied by a physical reaction.
First, look for the thoughts that “feel bad” - find the untruth within them.
For example, I have a client who avoids conflict. When she senses it, she gets anxious, her heart begins to race, and she even starts sweating! Yikes! She discovered that the “untruth” in her thought was that conflict always involves confrontation and argument. Consequently, she really didn’t like it. Identifying that untruth, realizing that she doesn’t need to avoid conflict, nor must she be confrontational about it either, completely changed the environment for her. She was able to get curious, find a solution and resolve the conflict.
Next, look for the thoughts that “feel good” - find the truth within them.
This is where that “innate knowing” Kara describes comes into the picture. Yep, I agree with her, we usually know the right answer when faced with a dilemma. We usually know what response is congruent with who we are (our values, beliefs and strengths). We just aren’t taught how to listen to that voice. We are taught to evaluate everything we think and do by the standards of our culture. Every one of us.
Some of those standards are beneficial, some are not. Figuring out how to determine what works and what doesn’t, requires us to redirect our own decision making process and take our own intuition into account.
Once you become consistent in asking those questions, then doing something with the answers, Kara says the most important piece of advice she could share is:
Nothing will give you what you want more, than you being you. It is the most practical thing you can do. Authenticity is the only truly natural state for you.
Abundance, joy, creativity… anything else is going to PALE in comparison. If you think you don’t have time, make time. You’re missing out on YOU. If it feels like a huge undertaking, start small. One question at a time.
You’re worth it.
Keep moving forward.
Listen to that voice, deep down, that reminds you that you matter.
You’re worth so much more than what you can contribute.
“YOU,” my friend, ARE the contribution.
Until Next Time!
Check out this week’s podcast Episode 96: Optimizing Your Life to hear Kara's full story.
To learn more about Kara, or check out her programs: Kara Nicole Bitar
Kara Nicole Bitar combines the dedication and commitment needed to become a successful attorney, with extensive research, experience and training to help individuals excel in their professional and creative endeavors, be energized and excited about life, and experience their full potential.