Oak Communications
July 8, 2010
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When we were house-hunting in Lafayette, LA in April, we met Rebecca Doucet, her husband Matthew and their son. My husband Mark immediately connected with Matt and I with Rebecca. We exchanged business cards and not long after, I received an email from Rebecca suggesting that once we move to Lafayette, I might want to meet Scott Brazda, the Executive Director of the Stuller Family Foundation. She kindly made an email introduction, and the three of us later met at Community Coffee.

During the course of our meeting, Scott told the following story, which he agreed to let me share. When he was a child, people would come up to him and say, oh, you are Jean Brazda 's son. Scott's mom was a beloved teacher in town. Or sometimes he would be referred to as Art Brazda's son, referring to his father, a well-known biologist among the goose and duck hunting circle. Today Scott is often referred to as Sophia and Nick's father.

When Scott was in his early 30's, he went to work at Channel 3 as a sports reporter. Soon after Scott started at the television station, his mother was at the grocery store and the clerk noticed her last name. The clerk asked her, "are you related to Scott Brazda on Channel 3?" She called her son immediately. Scott told her for 30 years his identity was tied to being her son. For one day she could experience what it was like to have her identity associated with him. That was a new one for her (and for Scott).

What is identity and why can it become a hot button topic for us? The dictionary defines identity as a set of behavioral or personal characteristics by which a person is recognizable either as an individual or as a member of a group.

We may find a tension between wanting to be known and understood for who we are as individuals and also as a member of a group. Yes, I am a daughter, wife, sister, member of this family, this profession, this ethnic group, this religion, gender, etc. and I am a unique person with these values, thoughts, and qualities.

As a coach, I see people struggle with identity especially when they are considering changing careers, or when they have lost a job, are deciding whether to retire, or when they become empty-nesters. Who am I or who will I be without the identity associated with this particular career or job?

One of my clients, we will call him Jim, was the Executive Director of a non-profit organization for a long time. He helped to make it flourish and prosper and weathered the ups and downs of the economy. When we first started working together, he expressed a desire to begin planning to leave the organization. He cared deeply about the organization and worked long hours. He had a difficult time imagining how the organization would survive without him and also imagining his own life away from it.

We worked on succession planning from both an organizational and a personal perspective. Gradually, he was able to loosen his grip. Neither he nor the organization felt unmoored. He now realizes that he doesn't need to hold on tightly to any one identity and thus is free to explore what is next for him in his life. He and the organization have set sail.

All my best,

Sue Schleifer
A Few Current Favorite Links

I captured this image at the Ruth Bancroft Garden
spiral cactus

My sister sent me this fun link. What a great idea for an arts organization to do something like this to introduce the public to an upcoming event.

Ballerina on a Boat - this is a wonderful short film made in 1969 with such grace and imagination.

Greater Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life - lots of great articles and conversations on the roots of happiness and compassion.

My colleague Pat shared this video with me called Gorilla Reunion which is a beautiful demonstration of love and compassion between man and gorilla.
Allons Lafayette

Lafayette lizard

Check out the Oak Communications blog for reflections on life in Lafayette, LA.
Coaching with Sue

Headshot Sue

Have you been thinking about working with a coach?

Perhaps you are tired of feeling stressed and overwhelmed and want to feel a sense of clarity and energy.

Do you yearn to bring your creative side back into your life and not sure how to proceed?

Maybe you would like support in making a change or moving forward in your life to feel happier and more at peace.

I would love to talk with you about how I can be your partner in moving forward with your life. Call me for a complimentary half hour telephone coaching consultation.

Coaching is extremely effective via telephone. Let's talk.

Sue Schleifer
510.316.3319 - cell
Sue's Consulting Services
Sue also specializes in helping organizations to fulfill their missions, work smart, and communicate effectively. One of the ways she does this is through working to improve the internal communications in the organization.
  • Is everyone clear on their roles and responsibilities and how decisions are made?
  • Is there tension between people that is getting in the way of productivity?
These are just a couple of the questions that we will explore to help you get your organization back on track.

For more information, contact:

Sue Schleifer
510.316.3319 - cell
Oak Communications

Lafayette, LA and throughout the country

510.316.3319 - cell

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