Since I started coaching, the number one word that my clients have used to describe what they want from our work together is clarity.

I never intended to become a career coach, and at first, I resisted.

Instead, I wanted to teach changemakers how to prevent burnout. But my clients weren’t coming to me for burnout prevention. Instead, they came to me already burned out, longing to figure out what was next in their work-lives.

Over time, I discovered that the practices and skills that helped my career coaching clients get clear about what they wanted to do in the next phase of their work were the same steps that helped them heal from and prevent future burnout.

I call this set of practices and skills radical discernment.

Now, what is radical discernment?

My favorite definition of radical is from Angela Davis—radical simply means grasping things at the root. And discernment is the act of perceiving clearly what was previously hard to see.

Radical discernment is a set of skills that can help us perceive clearly and consciously choose our next steps.

When we can quiet the inner chatter that makes it hard to perceive clearly, identify our yeses and our noes, and consistently nourish ourselves, we can more skillfully navigate the treacherous territory of our collective existence while trusting that we’re doing our best. We can more easily meet our needs for contribution and joy, meaning and connection, personal healing and collective liberation.

The problem is…

Dominant culture (capitalism, white supremacy, ableism, cisheteropatriarchy) teaches us to ignore what’s most important—our intuition, our communities’ needs, and the small signals that lead to clarity—and to consume knowledge and seek expert advice instead.

Honoring your numerous commitments and meeting your multiple needs is a complex process and demands a complex skill set. To heal and prevent burnout, show up in the ways we’re called to show up, and experience joy and ease while we’re at it, we must learn to discern.


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