I’ve recently developed a bit of an obsession for Jennifer Lopez.
Bet you didn’t expect that. 🙂 Well, neither did I.
I’ve been a fan for years, because I grew up watching her videos on MTV and singing along to her songs. However, in the past 6-8 years, J Lo hasn’t really been on my radar as my musical diet comprised of mostly of electronic music.
What changed is that, about 2 weeks ago, I stumbled upon her Youtube channel and I was SO impressed!
She mentions this in many interviews and especially in this one for People Magazine where she admits there was a period in her life when things go blurry, when she strayed from her way of doing things. When she found her focus again, she skyrocketed to the top once more.
This led me to reflect on the importance of being myself and how it impacts my life in all aspects. I started by pondering on why I admire this ability in others.
What I’ve observed both in people I look up to – such as Jennifer Lopez or today’s podcast guest, Val Geisler – is that they’ve very consistent in what they do and how they talk about their work. They also have a unique voice and a clear path.
Why is this essential to how we live, to our performance and our happiness?
One answer is cognitive dissonance which involves a lot of mental discomfort caused by upholding contradictory beliefs. Us, humans, can’t handle that.
A person who experiences internal inconsistency tends to become psychologically uncomfortable and is motivated to reduce the cognitive dissonance, by making changes to justify the stressful behavior, either by adding new parts to the cognition causing the psychological dissonance or by avoiding circumstances and contradictory information likely to increase the magnitude of the cognitive dissonance.
For example, if your job is making you unhappy, you might justify staying in it by saying things like: “I might not get a job that’s as well paid as this one”. The same goes for straying off course when you decide to eat healthier: “a donut won’t make that much of a difference.”
Except it does.
Staying in that job affects your self-esteem and your belief in your own ability to assume ownership of your professional course.
Bullshitting yourself back into unhealthy eating patterns chips away at your belief that you can do what you truly believe is right for your health in the long run.
If you start to spot it, cognitive dissonance is present in many aspects of our lives. Listing all the instances where it happens can help us identify how influences affect our judgement and decisions.
Here’s a personal example: almost a decade ago, I seriously considered moving across the world to be with my boyfriend at the time. The motivation and decision were his, but I was so smitten that I almost did it, in spite of it not being the right thing for me at that stage in my life.
It was an incredibly painful process, both for myself and my family. I felt broken to pieces as everyone was trying to pull me in their direction (“move with me” vs “don’t move away from us”). At the end of the day, I didn’t really know what I wanted and it plunged me into a period of severe anxiety and, ultimately, depression.
That experience changed the course of my life. It accelerated my personal development and ignited a growth process that continues to this day. And it all started with going to therapy.
When I talked to Val Geisler for the How do you know? podcast, she also mentioned therapy as the most important appointment in her calendar. There’s simply nothing more effective for overcoming the big challenges in our lives, for finding our voice and our mission than working with an experienced therapist or coach. I’ve seen this work wonders for myself and many other people.
As the years go by, I gain a better understanding of why being true to ourselves matters, especially when dealing with so much change, inside and out. Talking to Val reminded me that’s where resilience comes from.
Understanding why we do the things we do, why we make decisions, and building ourselves according to our values are key habits that keep us grounded, like a tree whose deep roots keep it anchored during countless storms.
Val makes a couple of great points about resilience:
- There’s no better way to build resilience than doing the work
- We all make mistakes all the time and understanding why they happen and learning from that is what helps us become stronger, both mentally and emotionally
- Doing less, with more focus is a great way to set yourself up for success.
Val’s unique voice and position in the marketing community didn’t happen overnight. She worked hard to find the most fitting way to do her best work and she’s still doing it every day.
I loved her advice on putting the phone down and paying attention to what happens in our own lives. That is how we make decisions that align with our beliefs while also learning to become better versions of ourselves in the process.
This conversation with Val Geisler is so real, so authentic, and so helpful because she brought her whole self into it. No filters, no bullshit.
As time goes by, this internal alignment gets a bit easier, a lot more satisfying, and that source of inner balance that I’ve been craving for all my life. Using my decisions to drop anchors along the way makes sure I stay the course as much as possible and have an increasingly stronger foundation to build on.
I hope listening to all these wonderful women (and the men) on the podcast and learning from their experiences helps you make your best decisions too!
Val was all about real-life experiences, so here’s where you can find out more about her work and process:
Val also recommends Jay Acunzo’s book: Break the Wheel: Question Best Practices, Hone Your Intuition, and Do Your Best Work.