SG: What do you want the SG Tribe to know about you?
Katie Weitz: My name is Katie Weitz, and I was raised in Omaha, Nebraska. I started my social justice career boycotting Nestle and writing letters to President Reagan to stop nuclear armament at age six. 40 years later, while my understanding of social justice has matured, my advocacy efforts are just as passionate. I love to problem solve with big ideas and can foresee unintended consequences as well as question assumptions. I am a small CoG, Champion of Good, in the big wheel of my community. I got my fundraising sea legs by working for Susie Buffet’s Foundation. In addition to helping non-profits solve the problems encountered while fundraising in a digital age via Advokatie.org, I am the Executive Director for the Weitz Family Foundation, which seeks to break the cycle of poverty in Omaha, NE by empowering individuals, agencies, and organizations to create a more equitable and peaceful society. We believe in empowering servant leaders to address issues of equity and justice in Omaha, Nebraska. Since inception in 2000, over $50 million in awards have been granted to housing, arts, education and health organizations in Omaha, Nebraska.
Sarah Gibbons: What does it mean to live your legacy every day?
KW: Living my legacy every day means helping other people make their dreams a reality. I am fortunate to have worked in large Omaha Foundations and, with deep family roots in the community, I have a broad network of powerful change agents. I feel like a radio transmitter, pulling in information and tuning the channels to sending the messaging out where it is needed. While my professional ability to see both the macro and micro allow me to successfully point out flaws, challenge assumptions, and warn of unintended consequences, my efforts don’t always imediately land as helpful. However, when paired with passionate doers, willing to keep pushing to find the answers, I find that almost anyone’s dream can be achieved. Further, my desire to share power with those most affected by policy or program implementation forces me to confront the challenges of operating in an “old boys” town and, regularly, navigating both implicit and — at times — unambiguous racism, classism, and conservatism that prevents a thriving community for all. Omaha is a great place where everything is possible, big enough to have demand and resources and, yet, small enough to be two degrees from anything you need, empowering me to live my legacy of helping others accomplish what they have set their minds to.
SG: What do you find most challenging about living your legacy each day?
KW: What’s most challenging for me in living my legacy every day is to consciously focus on celebrating not just the macro-wins, the final outcomes, but also the micro-wins that are the building blocks towards completion. It is easy to fall prey to those feelings of never doing enough, never being enough, never giving enough. It can be a real challenge to recognize the myriad of micro-milestones and focus on the successful facets of each event. For example, when my job is to point out inefficiencies or when my teams have gone wrong, it’s easy to label the work as lost; effort that I didn’t guide correctly. Instead, however, I have to remind myself and teams that we’re not retreating; we’re advancing in another direction, we’re course-correcting because we learned which direction to not go in.
SG: What’s the new belief or habit that has changed your quality of life?
KW: The new belief in my life is that I now have an awareness of and practice around being intentional about how and where I focus my energy, identifying wins and acknowledging success, all while honoring myself. My work with Sarah has been incredibly meaningful in leading me to identify and transact with beliefs I think I always had but was unable to properly connect with. My work with Sarah has helped me identify all of my professional (and personal!) wins, identifying a graceful path, and prioritizing filling my own cup. My work with Sarah has provided me a daily practice to reinforce my daily legacy, helping me see that I’m reliable to accomplish big things, which alone is a gift that has changed my life.
How are you? We’re on day 71 of Covid, can you believe it? Wondering how you’re doing with the shift into Summer and what that might mean for you. Maybe you’re starting to settle into your new norm and have enough Band-Aids in place that it’s starting to feel ‘good enough’ for now. After all, good enough delivers comfort; some sort of predictability and feeling of control.
I notice this mindset with my driven clients, and I want to share it with you because I see the personal and professional costs if they let it get a hold of them. I was coaching one of my executive clients this week, and she shared that our coaching work, after 8 months of experiencing major shifts inwardly and outwardly, was starting to feel like a chore. Of course, initially it felt like a gut punch. However, once I began to get where she was coming from and really seeing her, I had an assertion around what was going on. We had created big results up until now; we’d accomplished some incredible, professional goals that matched her ambition and commitment to growth. However, since hitting those milestones, life very quickly had become good enough across all the major areas of her life. Comfortable, easy usually excludes excitement. Without the excitement and dreaming about the impossible, I’m not surprised coaching started to feel like a chore.
We course-corrected and looked at where she might be hiding and playing small, and it brought up so much emotion! On the other side of that emotion was the realization that the reason she hired a coach was to move way beyond her comfort zone, the life that’s “good enough” and into a life she never thought would be possible.
*THIS* is what I do. As I told my client, the real work begins now. Her homework this week starts with her asking for what she wants from three colleagues at work, on the back of courage and vulnerability.
I’m fortunate to have found my professional calling and have the opportunity to work with such high-caliber clients. I get to witness hundreds of people experiencing the leap from “good enough” to “jaw-dropping-amazing.” I realize not everyone is up for the latter; it’s very uncomfortable and confronting at times.
Here’s to living a jaw-dropping amazing life,
“Through my work with Sarah, I developed a skill set that delivers far more awareness and intention than I had before. As a result of Sarah’s guidance and process, I realized my role as a leader and continue to experience the positive changes in holding that space. In addition to the impact on my professional life, I also created a strong, intentional vision for my personal life.
There are two skills I developed via Sarah that I use daily. The first is realizing that much of my unhappiness was directly attributed to unmet expectations. While many expectations were ones I placed on myself, I came to understand that I commonly applied expectations to others. The real a-ha! moment that Sarah coached me through was an understanding of the difference between expectations and agreements. This shifted so much for me, generating change across the board in my life.
The second breakthrough that has reduced the friction in my professional and personal lives is the ability to distinguish, and not commingle, acceptance and shame. Through many convos, exercises, and analysis with Sarah, I fully understand that I am the sum total of my experiences and choices. While they have been a mix of good and bad, all I can change is how I move through the world today. I cannot fully explain how liberating this insight has been and the fruit it has yielded in my life.
A third breakthrough has been around having an awareness of being a leader (willingness to have honest conversations and sit in the discomfort) vs. trying to make everyone happy and not rock the boat. I have found that in every aspect of my life, when I show up as a leader and am willing to say “the thing” and stick with it, breakthroughs and change occurs. When my focus is on being social and pleasing, the frustration continues.
Probably the biggest surprise I’ve had is around my marriage and the role that I have played in its current status. My way of being, because I was living through expectations, was not always kind or deferential. I was always expecting of him what I expect of myself. I never realized that my expectations, my lack of transparency, created a huge gulf between us. I have shared this breakthrough with my husband, taken responsiblity for what I have done, let go of my shame, and invited him to enter a new space in our relationship.
Sarah helped me see that the game that I’ve been playing is too small; that I’m capable of much much more. She’s given me the freedom and tools to strategically think bigger.
I think Sarah’s gift is challenging people’s assumptions about themselves to help them redefine what is possible in their life. She does it with such care, nuance, and patience that the changes feel organic — like she’s uncovering who I really am, and I recognize that person. Sarah’s insights about me and her ability to gently guide me toward my best self is masterful! In Sarah, I have found a masterful leader and by far, my biggest champion.
– Sally Nellson Barrett, Founder of Just Jump Films/ I Love Public Schools
Driven women are accustomed to thinking of leadership in terms of a fancy title. Or, a corner office. Or, an MBA from (insert your favorite university). This misconception occurs without realizing that when you signed up for Motherhood, you were actually taking on the leadership role.
Fast forward to the present, and it probably seems obvious that you’re in leadership when it comes to leading your children. We all know they watch our every move: the good, bad, and the in-between, starting at a young age. And, leadership as a mother is not for the faint of heart. When you were pregnant with your first, remember how everyone told you how awesome parenthood is? Funny how they omitted the part about sleepless nights, tantrums, impact on marriage, career, etc. I work with powerful women all day long, and those of them who are mothers will tell you their leadership gets tested the most as a Mother.
I’m eager to see Mothers really own their leadership in a way that creates the relationships they want not just with their children, but with their partners and colleagues.
Imagine what more intimacy would feel like with your partner? Not just physical, but emotionally too.
Imagine what it would feel like to be even more leadership with your colleagues and to be really seen and heard?
I hear all day long from driven women how they are chomping at the bit for more intimacy and support from both partners and colleagues; how they’re tired of carrying all the load when it comes to the operations of the children and the household. While there are plenty of examples of mothers not being given the same respect and opportunities as men, I believe it’s up to us Mothers to change the narrative. We need to say goodbye to any flavor of martyrdom and pointing fingers (past or present) and stand in leadership. Otherwise we’re just handing over our power and perpetuating a leadership style that doesn’t foster intimacy and ultimately authentic connection.
Three telltale signs you’re owning your power and standing in leaders as a Mother and a woman:
Standing in personal responsibility and cleaning up a mess, if you’ve made one, that’s impacted someone else. This looks like not only owning your mistakes, it ultimately means owning the impact you had on someone. Clean. It. up.
Believing you’re worthy of your desires and asking for what you want. You were born worthy. Life happened, and you’ve started to pick up stories that your desires don’t matter as much as someone else’s. It’s not true. That story doesn’t serve you. Standing in leadership looks like choosing to drop that old storyline.
Practicing forgiveness daily! Forgiveness is the gateway between judgment and compassion. If you’re wanting to love more openly, be kinder, be more patient, then the judgement has got to go! Remember, judgment and compassion are like oil and water, they don’t mix. This doesn’t mean you have to let someone walk all over you. It just means being honest with that person and by all means practicing forgiveness and letting the judgments go.
As a Mother of 3 boys, I fall out of leadership regularly. We’re human. We’re complicated. We have lots of feelings all at once and that can create chaos. My focus is always how quickly can I get back to center. Leadership. Mother’s Day is just a few days away. Instead of hoping you get to have a lie in, ask for what you want. Stand in leadership. Ladies, we were born with voices and desires for a reason. Let’s use them to lead. Imagine collectively what would be possible if all of us Mothers took the bull by the horns and stood in leadership? I imagine we’d feel a tremendous sense of connection, support, and love not only from our colleagues and partners, but from our children too.
Here’s to being driven women who are owning ALL of their leadership, unabashedly,