Do you know what really lights you up at work?
When Morgan Harper Nichols found herself overwhelmed and depleted by what seemed like a dream job as a nationally touring singer-songwriter, she felt like a failure.
She quit, but she didn’t give up. Morgan began cultivating passion in the places where she found real aliveness—poetry and art that explores how creativity helps create connection. Some years later, an autism diagnosis helped explain her challenges with sensory overload and reading the social cues that help foster relationships. By then, Morgan had already learned to tap the source of her her own innate resilience.
Hearing other people’s stories and translating them into art brought Morgan to life, and started to answer her essential question about how connection is found and fostered. She was captivated enough to develop a website where she asked people to submit stories that she then turned into artwork—and gave to them for free.
Bad business strategy? Well, today Morgan has 1.7 million Instagram followers; an extensive line of products featuring her signature illustrated poetry; partnerships with a variety of brand names in retailing, art and fashion; and two well-received books under her belt.
She did it by walking directly into the fire of her own aliveness, focusing on her passion and finding the part of her that could connect directly from her heart. She activated her Lover story type as the conduit for her resilience. So can professionals and organizations everywhere.
This is the seventh in a multi-post series on resilience and the unique, natural ways that people and groups can build it through story typing. I’ve gotten this far without actually defining what I mean by resilience, and it’s a little different than what you might think.
One way resilience gets talked about in human behavior is as a form of toughness that can emerge from adversity. I like how physics looks at it better—as the ability of something that’s flexible to absorb energy and then release it while springing back to its original shape. Resilience may or may not toughen you up. But if it’s going to last, it will always gets you back to you. And that means resilience and authentic identity aren’t really very far apart. People and organizations that are truly resilient know who they are and how to find their way back to the shape of that.
Understanding the Lover’s gift
In many ways, the Lover story type is the category essence of identity itself. It shows us who we are at our most alive, most fueled, most connected to ourselves and to others. And if that doesn’t drive both resilience and authentic identity, I don’t know what does!
The Lover story type has a gift for everyone when it comes to moving from the things that disconnect us back to stronger relationships and true excitement (even zeal) for what we’re doing and who we’re doing it for or with. And I’ve often seen its power get underestimated inside organizations.
While romance may be the first thing people associate with the Lover story type, it’s not about that at all in professional settings. Here the Lover is about enthusiasm, passion, connection and commitment. The Lover story type at work represents the heart of employee engagement and customer appreciation—things that get talked about all the time (more often than they get delivered, many a survey tells us). From a resilience perspective, all of those things matter. Maintaining strong social connections makes virtually every list of ways to build resilience. The relationship-building strength of the Lover leads very directly to a capacity for bouncing back and for overall professional success.
And if this story type seems highly individualistic in nature, it absolutely courses through the veins of many organizations as well. I’ve worked with two organizations recently who exemplify the Lover. Both non-profits, they have a moving capacity to see and appreciate their clients for who they are and what’s special about them—and a deep commitment to helping them restore their quality of life and move back toward their joie de vivre. That commitment makes for a powerful brand identity. More importantly, it helps them change the world.
So let’s add Lover to the “gift of resilience” story type chart we’re building out in this series. Here’s where we’re at:
|Type||Non-resilient state||Resilience-building attribute or gift||Resilience-building focus||Related values|
|Ruler||Insecurity||Confidence||Progress||Responsibility, Role Modeling, Influence|
|Empathy||Solidarity||Community, Justice, Fairness|
|Caregiver||Overwhelm||Compassion||Human potential||Service, Kindness, Development|
|Innocent||Disillusionment||Optimism||Hope||Ideals, Faith, Values in Action|
|Hero||Exhaustion||Mastery||Achievement||Action, Drive, Making a Difference|
|Creator||Lifelessness||Imagination||Re-invention||Invention, Ideation, Expression|
|Discovery, Individualism, Experience|
|Lover||Disconnection||Relationship building||Passion||Aliveness, Appreciation, Commitment|
Activating the Lover resilience quotient
Becoming a more resilient Lover (or leaning in to its resiliency quotient) is all about shifting your consciousness from disconnection to relationship, connection, passion—and maybe most of all, aliveness. Morgan Harper Nichols talks about that in one of my favorite sections of any poem, ever:
“no matter the darkness around her,
Light ran wild within her,
and that was the way she came alive,
and it showed up in everything.”
- What are you most passionate about professionally—and how can you share that with others?
- What engages you most at work, when you’re truly in flow and time seems to fly?
- What do you see and appreciate most in the people or groups around you—and how can you let them know about that?
- What relationships need your attention right now, and how can you strengthen them?
- Who are what are you truly committed to right now?
And keep looking for and shining your light!
Cindy Atlee is a Creator type (with a heavy dose of Lover) who loves to help professionals, teams and organizations understand and express who they really are in the world. She’s the co-author of the Professional Strengths, Values & Story Survey (take the free version here: https://www.storybranding.com/take-the-svss-survey/. Learn more about the Worklife Reset online program for lighting up your professional life here: https://worklife-bliss.com/.