Last week I tuned in to this exciting Facebook Live video with Amel Derragui of Tandem Nomads. I had the pleasure and honor of being interviewed by Amel almost two years ago (time flies!) when she was first starting her Tandem Nomads podcast.
Since then, she has brought together a great support community of expat spouses bringing their own individual passions, flare and dedication to fruition through a wide array of entrepreneurial endeavors. And – her work has paid off! Tandem Nomads has really made a name for itself and it continues to be a fun, supportive and educational place to connect over what can be a really unpredictable way of living all while shedding light on the unique position of being a “trailing spouse.”
In addition to some exciting news about Tandem Nomads (watch the video!), Amel shared the three words (The Three Cs) that have been the foundation of her success with Tandem Nomads. As I heard her talk about these key elements of her business success, I realized how applicable these key points are to anything we undertake.
The longer I’m in business (World Tree Coaching turns 4 next month!), the more I realize that the personal and the professional are intimately intertwined. Who we bring to our work is the person we are each day. And, as anyone who’s ever had to clean baby puke off of their work shirt before seeing a client will tell you, the personal always has an impact on how you show up each day for your clients and colleagues.
People will tell you not to combine work and life outside the “office.” I disagree – when you’re fortunate enough to do something you love, using work experiences to inform home life and personal lessons to guide work life can mean a deeper engagement all around.
So, I’ve decided today to get a little personal and share with you my own reflections on what Amel’s Three Cs – Clarity, Consistency and Conversion – mean for me professionally and personally.
Get clear about what you’re all about! This one hasn’t changed for me since I started World Tree Coaching four years ago. In fact, it is the fundamental reason why I know I’ll do this forever.
As a coach and expat support professional, I help people find home. I whole-heartedly believe that the answer to what home means to each of us is already with us. With age and time and conditioning, we lose our ability to get up close and personal with what we think and feel and that affects our ability to see clearly what home really means. We shy away from the messy parts, we hide the ups and downs and we downplay the things we’re totally rocking. My theory is – it’s all material! I help people learn to be okay with what’s working well. And, I support people as they honestly and gently, refocus towards their inner sense of home when they find what they’re currently doing has stopped serving them well.
How do I do all of that?
For my individual coaching clients, I bring optimism and compassion into the space in which we are working together. I believe in my clients – they are whole, capable, experienced and brilliant. Through a lens of love and curiosity, I invite them to step into the space where they can use those traits to get where they want to be.
It is my goal that no person living this nomadic life ever feel like they cannot find home. It’s in there somewhere – for all of us.
How does this relate to my personal life?
Three words are my compass of clarity – Peace. Love. Family. At each turn, whether it’s engaging with family from afar, cultivating relationships with friends, nurturing my marriage or supporting my children, I ask myself, “Does this bring peace? Are my actions undertaken in love? Does this strengthen my family/community?” Let’s be honest – sometimes I totally fail, but having clarity of vision on where I want to be is a lifesaver over and over again! When I get off track, I know exactly how to get back in the right direction.
Be consistent with what strategies you’re implementing to get where you want to go. Yikes! On the professional front, this one is a bit harder and without a doubt something that’s a struggle for me.
I am a naturally high energy, optimistic person. I have so much fun with all aspects of my business. I’m a bit like a puppy dog with a new toy – easily distracted into doing something that looks fun! Today Facebook live videos, tomorrow Instagram, next week….who knows! What about groups…workshops…online courses! It all sounds like so much fun.
When I’m able to harness this energy, I can definitely say there are a few consistent strategies that rarely fail me and I am committed to following through with them. These are areas in which consistency has definitely paid off.
What are those?
First, I look for opportunities to talk one-on-one with people about what I do. Sometimes this means I have to go out on a limb and ask to share my work. Other times, people ask me questions that enable me to clarify how I can support them in their endeavors. Either way – I engage people directly as much as possible.
Second, writing. I love to write and it comes easily for me. I use my writing as a way to share my work and connect with others and I seek out opportunities to include my writing on platforms outside my own personal blog.
Finally, I engage on social media. This is one that I’ll admit is a bit of a love/hate for me. I absolutely love the way in which social media connects us to our larger community. At the same time, I find that sometimes it can become a stressful rabbit hole. Therefore, I allow myself to be flexible with my engagement. I interact in ways that feel natural by commenting, liking or sharing only the things that really speak to me and by doing my best to filter out the stuff that just feels like noise.
Interestingly, consistency in my personal life is a whole lot easier! But, it wasn’t always that way. I had to find myself feeling rather lost in our nomadic lifestyle. There was a time when I was over-worked, stressed-out and quite a bit lonely. It took that experience to remind me that consistency can be the key to getting out of a funk. So, in my daily life consistency looks like – going for a run most days, meditating most days, eating clean healthy food as much as possible, limiting (although not eliminating) my alcohol and caffeine consumption, date nights with my husband, and never missing a chance to talk with a friend. At first this was hard, now these things take a major place of priority in helping me feel capable of facing our adventures head-on.
This is about turning what you do each day into real, meaningful work that affects the lives of the people you work with. Amel talked here about the difference between going “viral” and actually connecting with people and I whole-heartedly agree.
My business is small. I’ve had a few blog posts or articles that have had near a thousand readers and even when things are slow I have a steady stream of work with individual clients or groups, but for the most part, my community feels like a tight-knit group of people on a journey down the same path. And that’s the way I want to keep it.
I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that there are times when I ask myself if I’m doing “enough” and sure, I want to be successful so that I can keep doing the work I love. But then I take a moment to remind myself that sitting across from someone, giving her space to explore and accompanying her as she finds home is where my heart lies. I know I’m headed in the best direction for me. The results might look different than what an outsider thinks they “should” look like, but that’s okay. This feels right.
But how do you translate conversion into your personal life?
For me this is most apparent in my relationships, especially in my relationships with my children. Let’s be honest, parenting can be a big fat mystery. None of us really has much of an idea how it will all turn out. We do our best and hope they won’t hate us in the end. This is especially true for those of us living internationally – and even more so when we didn’t ourselves grow up living around the world. The balance can seem so much more precarious and we often find ourselves asking, “Will this (departure, move, tragedy, loss) end up being the final straw?”
When my kids were born, I decided to do my own personal work in hopes that I’d be as good a mom as they deserve. For me, that meant developing skills in mindfulness, setting boundaries, partnering continually with my husband, cultivating honest self-reflection and even going to therapy if it meant shedding some of the baggage of my own childhood.
The process of being honest about what I’m working on, letting them see me cry when things are tough, showing them the value of fun, reminding them that we’re always here even if our house looks different and apologizing when I mess up is important. It reminds them that they’re free to be whomever they find themselves to be (no matter where they call home). That’s conversion in my personal life – making the deep, consistent commitment for the long-term. It’s the slow, sometimes complicated process of trial and error that leads us to the most meaningful, messy, honest, love-filled and happy relationships.
Who knew when I listened to Amel’s podcast I would find so many lessons beyond the professional! Of course, if you’re a part of this lifestyle, it’s probably not all that surprising.
To me, here’s what’s so great about the amazing interconnectedness of an internationally nomadic lifestyle, from business to our personal lives, we get to learn all of these things together. We get to teach each other and share over our common place of strangeness in an unpredictable existence. There is a unique beauty, I think, in a community of people who support each other in finding their way. In the end, that’s what we all do – help each other find home, no matter where we go.