8: On Finding and Claiming Your Lane
Let's talk what the process looks like and a few practices you can implement to support you in figuring out what your lane is or what you work is in the world.
For a transcript: http://andrearanae.com/acts/8
You’re listening to A CALL TO SERVE. This is a podcast calling entrepreneurs, coaches, educators, healers, creatives and other people with a vision for change in their communities to show up with integrity, use their power and practice radical service so that they can make their impact in the world in the most sustainable ways. My name is Andréa Ranae, I’m a facilitator and coach focusing my work on holding space for liberatory leadership and I am so excited that you’re here! Let’s get into this episode.
In episode 6 I talked about how when I was younger I wanted to help everyone with everything. I reconciled that by deciding to use what I have available to me to support others in making change happen re: the causes issues and movements that are closest to their hearts.
I’ve worked with/am working with: artists, college students, parents, coaches, healers, people that have trailblazed new possibilities in the health and wellness industry, community organizers, someone tending to the current state of labor and industry practices in the food industry in the US, educators, flexibility and yoga teachers, CEOs and so much more
I can’t remember if we talked about, in episode 6, my college admission essay I wrote when I was 17 where the question was something like: “What is our most urgent contemporary human issue?” My answer:
“Two hundred years ago, German philosopher, Immanuel Kant advised us that ‘For peace to reign on Earth, humans must evolve into new beings who have learned to see the whole first.’ The most urgent problem that faces us as a society today is that we now have the resources to see ‘the whole’ but we don’t utilize them. Poverty, war, modern day slavery, genocide and the absence of universal health care are all significant problems, but there is a reason they exist. They are all the result of a more fundamental human problem: humans’ lack of compassion, love and respect towards each other, the earth and ourselves. We lack these things because our collective community, as a whole world, does not completely understand the various cultures that make up ‘the whole’. Our world’s increasing interdependence makes it so that accepting, respecting and understanding each other’s cultures is essential for humanity’s growth.
I want to see ‘the whole’ and hopefully help others to learn to see it as well. As human beings, we tend to separate ourselves from one another. We push for our world to be divided, when progress in transportation and technology is shaping our world into the interconnected place that it is. I want to be a leader that embodies and encourages seeing our world as the ‘whole’ that Kant wrote about.”
And I’ll stop there. Because I start getting into connecting it to the school and all of the things I’m going to learn there and start shmoozing like that...
But, beyond that, I want to acknowledge that Immanuel Kant was one of the most prominent philosophical voices that contributed to spreading ideas that support scientific racism – science that was created to justify colonialism and white supremacy and everything else that goes alongside that. And the effects of that are still at play today in our healthcare systems, especially in the US. Had I known that in high school I would’ve found another person who expressed a similar idea because I honestly didn’t even know who Kant was until I found the quote I reference and I ironically only found the quote because I had already decided what my answer to the prompt was and I needed to find a quote from someone with enough status in academia to legitimize my thoughts. So… there’s that.
Anyway, I wanted to share this with you because, while my analysis and awareness has deepened since I wrote that 8 years ago, everything I said, I still believe. That’s how core this was and is to me, that whatever I did to contribute to the world around me had and has to be connected to all issues *and* it needed to get at the root. Focusing in on one issue is insufficient for me.
And I want to underline “for me” part because I’m not sharing this to try to say that this is where you should be too. Absolutely not. What I’m interested in is your answer to the question of “what’s the most urgent contemporary human issue?” And I want to do whatever I can to support you in showing up for that in the most sustainable and effective way for you.
So I’ve come to a place where I’ve been able to recognize and really claim that that is my lane when it comes to my part in the collective, but there’s more than just that. I’m gonna try not to get too lost in the lane metaphor y’all so bare with me. But there’s layers. There’s looking at what’s yours to do, what your place is in the collective, there’s what’s yours to do and tend to and take responsibility for in your communities and interpersonal relationships, there’s looking at what’s yours to create in this world, there’s tending to what you’ve got going on inside of you. And there’s so much more beyond that.
One of the reasons this concept of finding and claiming your lane is so essential is that with each of these layers there’s work that can only be done by you in the unique way that you show up for it. If you’re consistently veering off into the lanes of others, we miss out, and you also get in the way of others doing their own work.
For me, I’m constantly working on this, and always taking a pause to check to see if I’m really minding my business, as my friend James-Olivia always says.
This year I’ve been clarifying and shifting a lot specifically around what I’m creating. For example, I started facilitating - or exploring the art of facilitation - when I was 14, and I started coaching people in more formal settings, 1:1 when I was 19. When I started my business, I created a structure that worked for me and met me where I was. I set myself up to do the work I knew how to do and had the capacity for. I was offering 1:1 Coaching and leading small groups through various content and experiences. And I knew there was more for me beyond that, but it wasn’t until half way through last year that I started to really feel how unsustainable that was for me in the long term (and on the daily).
I love deep and intimate work so much and I actually thought, because I’m an extroverted introvert, that cultivating deep connections with others was my jam, and it is BUT I’ve realized that I can only really sustain those deep connections with a few people and, for my own well-being, those people have to be my closest friends and family and the people on my team. Last year, it felt like every single relationship I was navigating in my work went deep and it was taking a huge toll on me. I was constantly exhausted and also unsatisfied because I’m a big picture person, I’m at my best when I’m most often in a creative space, but at that point I was also doing SO MUCH maintenance work and other work that’s just so draining for me.
It’s taken me a year since then - up until now - to make the big shifts I needed to make in order for me to continue doing this work that I love. And doing it in a way that’s mostly nourishing and joyful rather than mostly exhausting and monotonous. So, I stopped doing private, 1:1 coaching and cut out other offerings in my business that weren’t really working for me, and I now have the privilege and blessing of being supported by a beautiful, brilliant group of people that actually have the skills, gifts, capacities and desire to do some of the work that I suck at or hate or just don’t want to do or that drains me. And that’s freed up an amazing amount of space for me to tend to and create the things that are mine to create and tend to. Especially the things I had been neglecting or avoiding because I was so wrapped up in work I didn’t need to be doing. And I want to make sure that I’m clear in saying that by basically living and working outside of my lane, I was also diminishing the power of my work. It’s gotten so much better with all of the support that I have now, where people are doing that other stuff that I don’t need to be doing, and I am able to tend to the things that are actually mine.
So now I have some really exciting stuff in the works that’s more in alignment with my needs, my capacities and my vision. I’ll share more about one of those things in the next episode, episode 9. And I could probably talk for days about all the other ways I’ve been getting more fully into my lane, but for now I want to move on to you. Because this is what it has looked like for me, recently. The process might look very different for you. So let’s find out. There are four practices in particular that I’ve seen and experienced as being wildly supportive in the process of finding and claiming your lane.
Cultivating self knowledge and awareness: of your capacities, skills, gifts, gaps and weaknesses or limitations + resources you have available to you, who you are, what you want, your vision. Part of what really has supported me throughout this year in making the shifts that I’ve made in my business, is taking the steps and doing the work that is sometimes challenging - at least for me - to really own the gifts and capacities that I have. To be like: This is what makes me amazing AND here are the limitations I have, here are the things that I just “ugh”. And having a lot of inquiry from myself about what is the “good” stuff, and what is the “no” stuff. In college I struggled so much with finding my place, claiming my lane, especially as it related to the work being done on campus around Black Lives Matter. I STRUGGLED because I had this story that I needed to be at all of the protests, I needed to be at all the meetings, I needed to join all the groups around this and do the organizing work, and that I needed to be present for all of that and support all of that. Here’s the thing: I have no energy for that. None. I don’t know if you all know much about Human Design, but I am going to just pull that in here for a second. I’m a Projector. As a Projector, I have four or five really good hours of work in my per day, and I’m also really open to taking on the emotions of others. And, especially on my campus, there was so much repressed, suppressed, denied emotion, and it was actually really hard for me to be on campus each semester because it was so much for me to take on physically. I knew that going to protests would take me out for a couple of days. I struggled though, because I thought I needed to be there, I needed to be involved. I struggled to recognize that the gifts that I do have - that are around healing and around holding space and around supporting people in processing experiences and emotion and empowering and inspiring and envisioning and relating - those are my gifts and skills. And I had such a hard time just owning that that was enough, and that was needed. And so, where I’m at now, on the grand scheme of things in the world: I don’t go to protests. Absolutely the fuck not. Protests, direct action, community organizing...it’s all so necessary and so important in terms of us moving in a new, different, better direction in our communities, in our world...but I’m not the one. Those aren’t my skills. I don’t have the capacity to do that work. And that doesn’t necessarily need to mean anything about me. And it doesn’t mean anything about the people who do that work - God bless them. (Side note: definitely find out who the organizers are in your community and send them some money. Support them. Because they do so much for us, and most of it does not get thanked). I have had to come to a place where I have very firm boundaries. I know where my place is. I won’t go out into the streets, but I can be back home to listen and support and help process. I only know that through getting to know myself and bringing more and more awareness to the things that don’t really feel good to me, or the things that feel really great for me that I have a lot of energy for.
Space and grace: Letting go of the shoulds and the shame and guilt that comes with that. Using my previous example, I have had to intentionally let go of the “shoulds” and the shame and the guilt that I should have that capacity. I should be out there doing that kind of work. I have had to let go of that so that I can be free to do something else. To do what works for me, what’s sustainable for me. Initially it was like: let me just consider the possibility that I don’t need to be there. Then: Oh, I’m actually more effective over here. And giving myself grace for that. And loving myself for that and loving myself into “okay, this is where my lane is”. I think that for those of us who want to serve, want to help, want to make a difference and serve or enhance and support the lives of others...we are so judgmental of ourselves. And judgment isn’t a sustainable practice. I’ve gotten a lot of support around this from people like Jen McCabe of Lead Gather Relate, and others in my life - so it’s not something I just did myself. A huge piece of this is community and letting your community see and support you and being in relationship with them. Which leads me to #3...
Relating: Getting into a practice of, not just connecting, but being open to the ebb and flow of relationship and developing a relationship with yourself, your yes and your no, but also relating to others’ yes and no. I know that there are a lot of people out there that might hear me say “I’m not going to go to a protest” and have an intense reaction to that. Cool. Not that it doesn’t matter. I’m down to relate to it, I’m down to connect around that, I’m down to have a conversation around that. And I think that’s important. Because relationships are everything. I want to create a world where we are free. Where we are consistently practicing justice, where we have access to joy on a regular basis. In order to get there - or at least support the efforts to get there - I need to be about what I talk about. So, the third practice is around relating and developing your capacity to relate to others. Whether they are happy with you or not. Whether you are happy with yourself or not. But building that capacity to be with others and be with difference.
Willingness to make mistakes or go off course and relate to what is: be in a process of honing in on what’s yours and saying no to the things that aren’t. There might be feedback - that doesn’t necessarily feel good - there might be critique. Be willing to make that mistake. The road to freedom is not paved with perfection. So, we’ve got to make space for ourselves and each other to fuck up sometimes - or ALL the time. I believe that the best learning you can do is through making mistakes.
So, I get the questions all the time of: How do I find my lane? How do I know who my people are? How do I know what my work is to do in the world? I don’t have that answer - but I have these 4 practices I just shared. That’s the way that I’ve found. And there might be something more for you, maybe something different for you. Let me know. Let me know what resonates, what doesn’t. DM me on instagram at @andrearanaej - DM me and tell me your thoughts!
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