2020 was quite the year presenting no shortage of challenges to all groups of people in the world in their personal and professional lives. Even though we were quarantining and social distancing, the pandemic did something very interesting for Ross. COVID-19 brought Ross closer to the important people in his life. Nothing can be truer than the Tricycle Creative mantra during these interesting times; keep pedaling through the tough times.
Ross sought out his friends, clients and other creative business owners to have them talk about the good, the bad, and the lessons they can share with his listeners. Normally Rewind is a monthly series, bringing marketing stories you need to know every end of the month, but this time we will bring to you stories from this challenging year of 2020.
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In today’s episode of 2020 Rewind, Alex Gekas, an ex-colleague and friend from Ross’s time at SiriusXM, has also left that company to start her life journey. She may not be a business owner, but she is a compassionate human and creative with invaluable stories.
A little about Alex
Alex worked in media for 15 years. She started in print, then moved to digital, then digital satellite radio. Corporate life didn’t spark joy anymore and the media industry went in a different direction than she intended to go. It is so important to your own happiness to do what you want to do and Alex found that these corporate jobs didn’t fully align with her initial goal of telling stories of those who are suffering that reflect greater issues within our society.
Quitting Her 9-to-5
On her journey, she became more engaged in socially-engaged Buddhism and did a lot of self-reflection. Then she looked at how society was reflecting within herself. What she found is that systemic-injustice reflects in both. Alex then got involved in this activist Buddhist community that was taking up all her time after work, and work did not fulfill her as much. This realization pushed her to go to seminary and become a Buddhist chaplain. What this entails is to offering spiritual care to people in secular environments (prisons, universities, hospitals, hospice, senior citizen homes) Now she is studying for Masters of Divinity currently doing her first internships at a prison.
Why did Ross ask Alex to be a guest?
When Ross talks to people who are solopreneurs or always wanted to do something, and it’s really hard to “pull the trigger” and just do it. Career changes are something that a person will statistically do at least 4 times in their life, but the statistics don’t talk about that transition time between them. Financial, social, and material changes come with changing career paths. Alex had a very good job that one would not quit easily. She was paid well in a company that expressed a deep interest in her growth. The internal and external turmoil to quit and do what she felt was fulfilling is one that many of you may feel familiar with.
What transformations has Alex experienced?
Alex stresses that this was not an easy decision. It took years of pondering and saving a financial reserve to feel comfortable making that decision. She definitely feels that it was a blessing she had the type of job that allowed her to save money and make herself a cushion, which is not the case for everybody. Aspects of her life that definitely helped was the fact she didn’t have kids, didn’t have a mortgage, and she had to look at her life and decide what she really needed materially in her life and how much material need she can let go of. This allowed her to balance out her savings to her needs during this transitional period between career paths.
For Alex, this other career path is not a monetarily lucrative path. However, she didn’t want to wake up at 50 and realize she didn’t walk her path. Eventually, she took her leap of faith because the fear of leaving comfort is only human and was never going to leave, so there is no point waiting to not be afraid anymore. It’s hard because it’s equal parts strategic and equal parts “gut”.
Having it all but having nothing — Questions to ask yourself
The moment of clarity really came when she got a good job. She had the job, the salary, the support from the company, and she still was not happy. Imagine if you had everything you ever wanted in your current job, even if you’re still not there. Are you happy? Do you think you will be fulfilled at the end of the day? What kind of life would make you happy? Is it one where you work 40 hour weeks and live for the weekend?
Alex is currently also debating what her day to day life will look like. She’s noticed that 40 hour weeks at a 9-5 isn’t the best for her. She wonders whether she should have a steady part-time job as a chaplain, and then has her own service she provides outside of that job. She wants to be able to plan traveling more easily and to be able to take care of herself effectively from day-to-day. Having an idea of what you want your day-to-day will help you decide to take that leap of faith.
Positives of 2020
It’s definitely not fun to pay for a degree that is currently online due to the pandemic, there have been many positive side effects. Spending so much time at home has allowed her to control her schedule more to meditate and exercise and overall improve her well being which is hard to do when you are rushing to places in normal life.
Another positive is 2020 really helped separate and categorize who was a genuine friend and supportive of her journey. This goes both ways. Who she could depend on in a crisis, and who she was willing to support in their time of need.
It also reinforced what she already knew. Life isn’t certain and you should follow what you really want to do. We are seeing all these changes to corporate life that have made people realize nothing is 100% stable.
Challenges of 2020
In the US, we seem to have lost skills in how to care for ourselves and each other. When presented with great shock, many people bury it down inside of themselves and use unhealthy outlets such as drinking, food, working, and even over-exercising. We’re so caught up in this idea that you have to deal with your pain yourself, in private, and not let it show and being strong individuals, that it is harming our societal mental health. Other cultures have it within their culture to take care of their health and the people around them, that seems to be lost here in America.
Ross gives us a great example of how when he started delegating more work, the silence was worrisome. He realized he had to learn to not work and not feel stressed while not working. Meditation helped him to grow. Alex also has been meditating more and has been growing within. You keep your body still to get your mind still, even in the chaos of your life. Stillness is the main benefit of meditation and it is so comforting to a busy person. Entrepreneurs are the main workaholics and yes, that can help your business, but it only helps you to a point.
Recommendations by Alex
Alex urges us to look for the meaning in our lives. Find out what is stopping you from thriving towards that meaning to allow you to flourish. Our society has a few cookie-cut options of what success should look like, but allow yourself to question if that is your personal definition of success.
The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma ,by Bessel van der Kolk, MD, is a great book to check out as well. It is not spiritual, written by a doctor and psychologist that will show you how your body is keeping track of the trauma you face and what your opportunities are for healing. Trauma doesn’t have to be big and root in PTSD or abuse, and it still affects your overall wellbeing.