“Belonging, shmelonging,” you say? If you’re wondering what all this touchy-feeling stuff matters in business, I have some thoughts about that. And it all starts with some unhelpful advice I received years ago. Read on…

“You’re going to have to wear a suit, you know.”

Those well-intentioned words, uttered by a coach back when I was just starting to transition from working as an artist and creativity coach to working as a consultant with corporate (and nonprofit) teams and leaders, had long-term ripples.

Without realizing it, I bought into a story that I was going to have to be someone different in order to work with big organizations, that who I am is somehow not okay.

For years I split myself into separate compartments, keeping my artist self tucked away when I showed up as a consultant.

Not only was this dis-integration of self draining and spiritually painful, in hindsight I can see it didn’t make any logical sense.

After all, my background as an artist (and a multi-passionate artist at that: Juilliard-trained dancer, professional artist /calligrapher, jazz singer-songwriter, improviser, amateur ukulele and double bass-player, and continual explorer in a multitude of other creative pursuits) is actually a huge part of the value I bring to the table when I work with clients.

But logic rarely plays a part in our mental patterns, does it? And often it takes awhile to understand those patterns. Awareness is the first step, as they say.

Once I’d finally realized how dis-integrated I’d become, with my artist self in one box and my consultant self in another, the next step was to figure out how to merge the two back together. Which is what I’ve been consciously working on for the past several months.

It’s clunky work, but I’m figuring it out.

If you’ve looked around the website lately, you’ll notice a new watercolor splash in the design, and you’ll also find this on my LinkedIn profile, on my online scheduler, on a new newsletter header (see below), and over on my personal/speaker website. This represents the fuller integration of my artistic self into my business brand. Long overdue.

The new header you’ll find on the newsletter if you subscribe. My artist identity is much more present, don’t you think?

So what does all this have to do with leaders, connection, communication, creativity, and building a culture of innovation?

Quite a lot, actually!

First off, my experience of feeling dis-integrated is not unlike what anyone goes through who feels like they cannot show up as their full selves at work. Whether they have to be closeted, or they have to code switch to fit in, or they have tone themselves down for fear of being “too much,” feeling like you have to mask who you truly are is draining, blocks true connection, and stifles creativity.

Questions to ponder:
Do you feel unable to show up fully? How is this affecting your ability to connect, communicate, and access your full creativity?

What is preventing you from showing up fully integrated?

How might you help others feel welcome to bring their full selves to work?

What barriers exist in your organizational culture that might prevent people from showing up fully?

What changes to your organizational culture might facilitate everyone showing up fully?

Here’s the reality: innovation lies at the intersection of connection, communication, and creativity.

People are at their most creative when they can bounce a wide range of ideas around the room… which requires diversity.

But that diversity is only conducive of creativity when folks feel safe and connected… which requires a sense of belonging.

And it’s hard to feel like you belong when you’re masking up in order to fit in.

The more we can fully be ourselves, and the more we can build cultures that allow everyone to show up fully as themselves, the more we set the stage for innovation.


When you’re ready to help your team or organization blast through creative roadblocks, book your complementary Impact Assessment Call and let’s chat about how I can help.


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