Heather Christensen | Envisioneering
“Some people never embark on the journey because it’s scary and requires vulnerability. But, there’s such a reward. It’s being able to be who you really are. It feels like wearing the right skin.”
Heather Christensen recently jumped back into the startup world by launching her own consulting business. In her past 20 years of being a professional civil engineer, she’s been a part of a few startups, so this isn’t new territory. But rest assured, it hasn’t gotten any easier. Heather’s also spent many of those years working for large organizations, so her valuable perspective stems from those varying experiences.
She’s found her biggest passion in working with people. Helping them navigate how and what it takes to do their best work. In her words, that means “getting people in the right seat on the bus, so that they can feel fulfilled by the work they do.” It’s the whole mission behind her new business, Envisioneering.
So naturally, we dug deeper into this topic. When it comes to our professional life, isn’t that what we all really want – to feel fulfilled by our work? More than anything, Heather believes there’s a direct correlation between being fulfilled and two factors: self awareness and authenticity.
Self Awareness: conscious knowledge of one’s own character, feelings, motives, and desires.
If you haven’t already realized, self awareness is an ongoing journey that manifests itself in stages. But there are things you can do or practice to help the process along.
1. Make time to focus on you. Start by taking note of the things you’re doing each day or week that are bringing you joy. Make it simple by writing a short bulleted list of those things. Alongside that (event, task, work) – jot down why you enjoyed doing it. Over time, this list will be very revealing and help you make certain things a priority over others.
2. Surround yourself with people who not only genuinely support you, but also challenge you. Here’s the funny thing about self awareness, we’re often blind to things that other people can see about us. Lean in to the people that are willing to provide honest feedback and input. They’ll help you discover things about yourself that you might never have seen.
** Careful: you don’t need to listen to EVERYONE’s feedback. Some people don’t have your best interest at heart, so knowing how to filter is half the battle. But that’s a topic for another day.
3. Seek out tools to guide or help. There are a wide variety of assessment tools out there that provide a little different perspective to help frame up and articulate self awareness. One recommended tool that Heather uses in her business is the Advanced Insights assessment. A few others are CliftonStrengths and Myers Briggs. Any of these tools will help you determine your natural talents and motivations – AKA the things that make you feel most fulfilled. Then, the most important step is to use your results to discover how (or if) they align with the work you do every day.
Authenticity: the bravery and courage that it takes to remain true to who you are and NOT be all things to all people.
So, how do we become more authentic? There’s really one answer to this question.
Be vulnerable. Which sometimes means asking for help.
“As entrepreneurs, it’s really hard because you have to do everything.” Heather recommends making an intentional effort to notice what parts of your work give you energy. Then, decide from there what’s worth doing and what you can take off your plate. It’s unrealistic to think you’ll enjoy every single minute of your work day, but the goal is to spend 80% of your time in your sweet spot – working on and developing the skills that you were born to do. The work that got you into this business in the first place.
Depending on where you’re at financially, you can pay someone else to do some of the things you recognize are not your strengths. Or, you can get creative around what that outsourcing looks like. In Heather’s case, she’s trading services with people in her network that can do the things she’s just not naturally good at (like sales). In either case, harnessing the skills of others to fill gaps in your business is key to staying authentic to yourself. Ultimately, it will make your working days more fun, fulfilling and productive.