Labber Spotlight | July 2019
5 min. read
Jennifer Kellogg, Controller
The Paulson Institute
“Indeed a treasured and empowering experience!”
Throughout her career, Jennifer Kellogg has taken a variety of seminars and training classes, in-person and online. Some focused on proven strategies for conflict resolution. Others tested how she showed up in various scenarios and applied a collection of letters to identify her personality type.
“I’ve spent a lot of time on myself, because I believe who we are and how we show up should be positive, purposeful and intentional, whether it’s on the professional business path or in our personal life. We should each be a good partner in this life—and a good ‘living ancestor.’
“So I didn’t know if the Lab would be any different from what I had already experienced.”
Oh, yeah. It equipped me with a different lens for evaluating situations, embracing emotions, exploring triggers, exposing projection—and all while being kind to self. It confirmed that leadership is more successful when there is a balance. The intent is to bring everyone along for the ride, not just the leader. Not [your] typical training material. The Lab provided framework for healthy communication, resolution and restoration. Its approach was holistic—from our individual check-ins to hearing the unguarded reactions to the new concepts that were presented.
Hearing from others in my cohort served as confirmation of many things I had long thought and felt, but never addressed. I always thought these experiences were unique when, indeed, they were not. In that circle, I heard from other women who experienced the same things (like issues with family) that had me sit back and think: “Hmmm, I’m not the only one.” I could totally relate!
Generally, I do not speak on matters close to the heart, sensitive topics and vulnerable issues because it can often open the door for judgement, misunderstandings, unsolicited advice and opinions. And part of it is embarrassment. So, I ‘hold secrets’ to prevent judgement and protect my space.
It was confirmation that *everybody* has some challenge—no matter economic status, age, race or profession. I can use challenges as my strength or allow them to serve as a weakness. As a result, I was moved to reevaluate my approach to past events and consider other ways to show up. As I embraced new approaches, I was moved to hold myself accountable and check myself as I attempted to (truly and fairly) weigh everyone’s ‘humanness’.
How has the Lab done that?
Being introduced to alternative approaches and options—either directly or “for my consideration”—allowed me to develop my own strategies to challenging moments.
Before WLL, I may have been passive in a circumstance where my response had the potential to inflict pain or damage to someone, all while I hoped to resolve the matter and protect everyone’s pride.
Now, my toolbox has expanded with additional strategies to address a difficult conversation. I’ll ask myself: ‘Why is this a trigger for me? Do I need to sit with this for a minute to assess the origin and determine if this is something that I need to own?’ Then I think through the best approach so it is authentic and true and beneficial for everyone. Simply to respond for my benefit isn’t effective.
So, the Lab has given me some tools to work with to achieve outcomes that benefit the team.
Could you give any examples how this has proved itself for you?
Sure. I have always been direct, but the work done in the Lab provided awareness, additional tools, and verbiage to have challenging conversations and question unfounded and unfavorable feedback I received at work. Specifically, I asked if this same evaluation would be given to a White man in my position doing the very same thing and ‘standing his ground.’ Would this be an issue? [They] said: “I don’t know. That’s a valid point. I don’t know.”
Matters of race are always on my radar—that comes naturally because my skin has been kissed by the sun. But to be conscious of misogyny in play was a new awakening birthed in me through WLL. Enlightenment in truth creates the ability to stand boldly in the face of racism and misogyny. In this particular case, a WLL lesson travelled beyond the group to plant a seed and raise the consciousness of a male counterpart.
Were there any ah-ha moments that surprised (and changed) you?
When someone brought up: “You know, we women don’t have to say ‘I’m sorry’ for everything.”
Why? Why do we do that?? It’s something I was surely guilty of and not even aware of when I was doing. I’ve said ‘I’m sorry’ for things I didn’t have control over or participate in! It’s conditioning, taught early in life—particularly to girls and women.
The pendulum has swung and I’m FAR more conscious of this and try to refrain from that ‘auto apology’ reply. Instead, when an issue comes up, I want to acknowledge it with a focus on how we can move forward and address it effectively. Saying “I’m sorry” creates a diminished feeling and immediately places the other party on higher ground.
By not responding with an empty and robotic “I’m sorry”, I remain empowered and strong.
When I realized I didn’t have to do that, it gave me back the courage and the power.
What’s your key takeaway from your experience with the Lab?
Be authentically YOU. Own ALL of you. Do not shrink to fit into the tiny space society has crafted for you. You will suffocate and surely die.
I must continue to *unlearn* the misguided teachings and conditioning of society and fiercely stand in the greatness naturally created within me. I will accomplish this by being true to myself, embracing my emotions, understanding triggers, and recognizing my value and potential while uplifting others.
Jennifer Kellogg found her courage and strength through the work she did within her Women’s Leadership Lab cohort. She now uses it to build stronger connections at work and at home. That is something we practice in every WLLab.
Join us for our next 6-session Chicago Women’s Leadership Lab , beginning in Fall, 2019