Welcome back to the Coming Out Happy blog! We're so glad that you're here today because we have a special guest, Nadia Ibrahim-Taney, M.Ed., MA from Beyond Discovery Coaching. Nadia is an LGBTQ+ Career Coach and University Professor as well as the founder and principal career coach behind Beyond Discovery Coaching. She founded Beyond Discovery Coaching to help clients design and build happy and fulfilling careers and works with individual job seekers, side hustlers, freelancers and businesses wanting to offer coaching to their employees. Nadia is a first generation American, a woman, and a member of the LGBTQ+ community. She welcomes diverse clients and can promise a safe space where your needs are heard and respected.
“I am a Holistic career coach. I focus on the four dimensions of self as they show up in our career and emphasize the authenticity of the emotional, spiritual, physical and mental selves and how they affect our ability to show up in work, school, and life partnerships.”
There's a very acute intersection nowadays between our work and our personal lives. Queer people can have a really hard time reconciling being their authentic self at work or even working in environments that they can't be their authentic selves in, so Nadia helps people discover not only what they want to do with their careers, but how they can create a purpose-driven life for themselves.
We can all go out and get a job making some level of income, but how much we make, where we do it, and who we do it with is kind of nominal. What are we proud of at the end of the day? How do we want to show up at work? How do we want to support others around us? That’s what drove Nadia to become a coach.
“I was working in student affairs for a number of years in higher education, and it was fine. It paid the bills, but then you hit a certain point in life where you're like, ‘There's got to be more than just fine.’ I started doing some career exploration, and someone recommended that I see a career coach. I was like, ‘What the heck is that?’ So I got a career coach, and I figured out that this is a thing you can do for money! I felt like I could enjoy helping people like this. Now, I'm an ICF (International Coaching Federation) Credentialed coach. And that bleeds into your personal life, right? You become more present with the people around you and show up more consistently.”
As of last year, 46% of LGBTQ+ adults are closeted in the workplace. And, of course, this pours into how we show up at work. What’s one question that queer people can be asking to see if they can be their authentic self in the workplace?
“Everybody approaches what they need and want from work differently. For some people, being out at work is not as important to them as making a ton of money or working from home or wherever their top priorities are. I always start by asking folks, ‘What's your why?’ Why are you doing the things that you're doing and how are you showing up? And is that in alignment with who you are?
If it is, keep doing what you're doing! You're doing great, and we can definitely elevate it to another level. But for most people, they don’t usually need this massive career change or massive career pivot where they go back to school and they completely change their lives. It's more so these little nuances of everyday things that you can do that will eventually lead you to something that is, like I said, more in alignment.
So, a single question…If I'm interviewing with an employer, I would ask more than one question, but start with, ‘What practices are you actively engaging in to create an inclusive work environment?’ I don't want to hear your commitment or your mission statement or the lip service, right? It's one thing for them to just put on the website that they’re inclusive, but if I was hired and I looked around, and I'm like, ‘Oh, where's the diversity?” That's problematic, right?”
After hearing a company’s answer to that question, you have to consider whether you believe they are actively making steps toward inclusion or not. Then, you have to decide whether that actually matters to you. Do you want to be the only “other” person in the room? Some people may be comfortable with that and prefer to keep their private life to themselves, but, for others, the ability to be open about their identity is a necessity. Each person has a different definition of what authenticity in the workplace looks like.
What are some of the effects of an unfulfilling career that you've seen in your clients?
“For most people, there's a strong intersectionality of our happiness and work life. A lot of folks that come to me feel like they’re not doing well at work, and that's affecting their relationships. It's affecting how they show up with their family. I work with a lot of hyper-driven C suite level folks that are very comfortable and happy to work 60 to even 90 hours a week because I love what they do. They're so career driven, but they literally neglect everything else in their life. A lot of times, when I start working with people, I have them articulate what they think their challenges are. What needs to shift? What needs to change? What are the barriers keeping you from moving forward?
Most of our clients are high performers. They're high achievers, and they're doing really well in their work, but their personal life is suffering. I think it's all about finding that balance of asking those deeper questions, figuring out how they want to live, and creating the life that they want.”
If you don't know who you are, you can't really decide what you want to do. So what’s your best advice to someone that really wants to get the most out of their career and their goals?
“When you’re looking at it from a holistic point of view, you're not looking at all the little branches and side pieces, you're looking at the trunk – the root of the tree – so you can understand these different parts. So, if I were to give any advice, I would say two things:
One: don't follow your passion. That's terrible career advice and mostly what we hear growing up. It's important to incorporate things that you are passionate about, but as you evolve in your career, your passions, your hobbies, your interests, what motivates you, what excites you, that's going to change, and that's just an inevitability for all of us, right? There are very few of us that are doing the same job for 50 years anymore. So don't follow your passion.
Two: It's very easy to do what we're good at because we are human beings. We love the intoxication of success. When we're good at something and we invest more time into it because we like being good at something, all of that leads to just continuing to do what you’re doing because you're good at it.”
We don’t have any idea what our future selves are going to look like. What are you going to like in 25 years? You have no idea, right? What's the economy going to be like? What's the political landscape going to be like? You don’t even know what it will look like tomorrow. Start this dialogue with yourself to learn how to talk to check in with yourself. You can learn how to do that in a coaching partnership or even a therapeutic partnership, but learn those foundational skills of checking in with yourself and saying, “What's going well for me? What's a challenge for me? Where do I need to bring in other support mechanisms like a coach or friend or mentor to help me move through these things?”
As coaches, we've signed up for this lifelong journey of always evolving, always learning, and committing to doing the work on ourselves every day so we can better support others. And every couple of years, we need something to recommit our brains, recommit our hearts, and recommit our passions, if you will, to continue to do this work. Whether you're in a coaching partnership or therapeutic partnership, this is not easy work. It's hard to keep coming back to your why, and it's hard to keep questioning yourself. It challenges you to be emotionally present, particularly if you're in a toxic work situation.
Be kind to yourself and give yourself some space and grace to explore. Get comfortable being uncomfortable because that's just life. It's not meant to be this huge wake up one morning, quit your job and you're in another role by the afternoon. It's going to be small, incremental changes that eventually lead you to where you want to be.
We can't be all things to all people. We are going to change over time. Give yourself permission to evolve. And this parallels our identities so beautifully. When we are coming out for the first time, we feel different 5 to 10 years afterward, and giving yourself permission for this fluid journey is okay. Things may shift, and that's okay.
Having that dialogue and being able to have that conversation with yourself is everything. If we can navigate change in a way where we can have that connection to self, it makes everything easier in the sense that we have a home base to come back to. You have a place to land when everything else is up in the air and nothing's in your control. You can come back to yourself and go, “Hey, what's going on? What do you need today? How can I help you?” And that is the game changer.
It's important for many queer people to achieve – to make up for what they weren't when they were rejected or weren't experiencing support from those around them. The career is a core piece of the work that you're doing. Having support is everything, and we need it for every area of our lives. A lot of people are very familiar with getting it for fitness or personal training, but to have it for your mental health and overall wellness is very important, too.
If you’d like to find more workshops like Nadia’s from international LGBTQ+ and ally experts, join the Queer Happiness Collective Membership. The Queer Happiness Collective membership is your new social wellness club with the holistic tools, guidance & support you need to become a better partner, attract healthy relationships, and belong to a community of other LGBTQ+ adults cheering you on. Whether you’re in a relationship, dating, or just focusing on yourself, the Queer Happiness Collective can help you finally be the person, friend, and partner that you’ve always wanted to be.
The three of us didn't start today, where we are now. We didn't come out of the womb being holistic life coaches. Everybody starts somewhere, and it's just having the audacity to commit to the start. So if you're coming to this ideology with a beginner's mindset, or you've been doing it for 20 years, this is a great place to start. This is a great time.
So where can people find Nadia outside of the QHC?
“I am an older millennial and a career coach. So you can always see me on LinkedIn. That is my number one social media platform. I post literally every day. That's also a good place to connect with me, particularly, if you're looking for a job. I have a pretty expansive network on LinkedIn, and if you connect to me, that will give you access to all my first connections, my second and third connections. It's just a really great way to meet other professionals, other LGBTQ plus people, and then, of course, just human beings of the world. So LinkedIn is the best way to get a hold of me. I also have a website, BeyondDiscoveryCoaching.com, and an Instagram.
Blog based on our interview with Nadia Ibrahim-Taney, M.Ed., MA on the Coming Out Happy Podcast.
Dani & Keely
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