Do you ever feel powerless – like the circumstances of your life are out of your control? Do you long for a sense of freedom, of agency, meaning and purpose – yet struggle to claim a sense of power in a world that feels like it doesn’t often make space for you?
Australian transformational coach Kemi Nekvapil knows these feelings well. Raised in foster care from a young age, bouncing from home to home, Kemi learned to navigate structures not designed with her marginalized identity in mind. She felt powerless, like she always had to hide and surrender in order to not make waves, stay safe and secure. But, as she began moving out into the world as an adult, she began to question everything. Now, through years of deep experience coaching people, often at the highest levels, who appear to be in powerful positions, yet feel the opposite inside, she’s developed a deeply insightful lens on power, how it’s been defined, and how it’s time to reimagine power moving forward. In her new book Power: A Woman’s Guide to Living and Leading Without Apology, Kemi invites women to stop waiting for others to empower them and instead tap into the strength within.
In this conversation, we dive into her 5 principles that help reimagine what it means to live from a place of internal strength – a place where we need not make ourselves smaller for others to stand tall. Kemi explains that for too long, power has been defined by its most dominant, externally bestowed forms. But true power, she says, rests in our innate capacity and ability to do something – in a way that embraces equality and responsibility.
As Kemi shares stories of stepping into her own power – from asking for no tomatoes on her sandwich to leaving an acting career and building her own, powerhouse career as trusted advisor – she illustrates how power built from within can blossom into a force for good in the world, not one that requires dominating others but rather finding ways to coexist in mutual empowerment. And along the way, she invites you to test your assumptions, own your stories and inquire into what truly matters, offering a framework and potent questions to guide you towards what she describes as the power of presence, delight and fun.
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Kemi Nekvapil (00:00:00) – I believe that power is a dance. I talk about the power of delight. I talk about the power of fun. It is not this necessarily this intense, dominant force. It can be beauty and fun and connection and it can be abundant and we can share it with others. And one thing that I know for sure is that if I’m truly in my power, I’m not afraid of yours. I don’t need you to make yourself smaller. I don’t need you to hide in the cupboard so that I can be bigger. I can actually stand alongside you. You can stand alongside me. And together we can have power in the world to do things in a particular way.
Jonathan Fields (00:00:36) – So my question today, do you ever feel powerless like the circumstances of your life are maybe outside of your control, or maybe you long for a sense of freedom or agency or meaning or purpose yet struggle to claim that sense of power that would bring it your way in a world that feels like it doesn’t often make space for you. Australian transformational coach Cami Neville.
Jonathan Fields (00:01:00) – She knows these feelings well. Raised in foster care from a young age, bouncing from home to home can be learned to navigate structures not designed with her marginalized identity in mind. And she felt powerless, like she always had to hide and surrender in order to not make waves, to stay safe and secure. But as she began moving out into the world as an adult and began questioning everything, different ideas and senses of possibility began to emerge. And now, through years of deep experience in study and coaching, people often at the highest levels who appear to be in powerful positions yet feel the opposite. Inside, she has developed a deeply insightful lens on power and a framework of how it’s been defined and how it’s time to reimagine power moving forward. In her new book, Power A Woman’s Guide to Living and Leading Without Apology, Cami invites women to stop waiting for others to empower them and instead tap into the strength within. And in our conversation, we dive into her five principles that help reimagine what it means to live from a place of internal strength, a place where we need not make ourselves smaller for others to stand tall.
Jonathan Fields (00:02:11) – And Cami explains that for too long, power has been defined by its most dominant, externally bestowed forms. But true power, she says, rests in our innate capacity and ability to do something in a way that embraces equality and responsibility. She really illustrates how power built from within can blossom into a force for good in the world, not one that requires dominating others, but rather finding ways to co-exist in mutual empowerment. And along the way, she invites you and me and all of us to test our assumptions, to own our stories and inquire into what truly matters, offering a framework and potent questions to guide us towards what she describes as the power of presence, delight and fun. So excited to share this conversation with you. I’m Jonathan Fields and this is a Good Life project. I want to start somewhere a little bit different because you shared that you’re certainly in the early stages of being an organic flower farmer right now, and I have to know more about that.
Kemi Nekvapil (00:03:24) – The thing is, though, Jonathan, is that we only have the time that we have, and I can talk about flowers for days.
Kemi Nekvapil (00:03:30) – So it’s on you that we’ve started with flowers? Yes. I grew up in Kent, which is known as England’s Garden, and I was surrounded by farms and beauty and flowers and would pick strawberries and eat strawberries until one is sick. I will put it on the record that that is possible to eat too many strawberries. You know, I live here in Melbourne, in the city and I love the city. I love what it offers. But my husband and I took our children around Australia for 387 days in 2015 and when we got back from that trip, I said to my husband, I love the city and I love this family home that we have for our family. I said, But I know that the work that I want to do in the world means that I need to be filled with nature and I want to be on the land so that I can sustainably give. And that was a conversation we started having. It wasn’t really in my husband’s dream, but it was very much mine. And then I was reading a beautiful magazine here that I love called Country Style when I was at home parenting young children.
Kemi Nekvapil (00:04:33) – That was my happy place. And you would read all of these stories of people that had literally gone on a weekend away, driven up a driveway, found a derelict building, bought it, and now they were dairy farmers, you know, so it’s interesting how we suddenly acclimatised to these stories. So these weren’t people that were generational farmers. They didn’t know what they were doing. But there was a very clear, strong sense of this is the next chapter. So I was reading these stories, which kind of made me realize you can just learn as you go. You’re going to fail, which is a little bit to do with my work as a coach. And I remember reading this magazine one day I turned a page and if I can sort of share the visual, it was the back of a woman and over her shoulder she must have had about 200 David Austin roses. She was just holding them, so she just harvested them. And I had this visceral reaction to that picture. And then I read the quote and it said, We are speaking to so and so, so and so a flower farmer.
Kemi Nekvapil (00:05:31) – And the next thing I thought was, Oh, of course someone has to grow the flowers for commercial purposes. And in that moment I said, and I want to be that that was the beginning of my farming journey. So we bought a farm at the end of 2020, probably not the year to make big life decisions, but in some cases probably the year to make some big life decisions. So we bought the farm and I’m currently experimenting with peonies and David Austin Roses and I inherited 10,000 daffodils. So for the last two years I’ve harvested those daffodils, brought them back to the city and then just given them to my neighbors and community because I believe in bringing more beauty and delight into the world. And flowers is a way of doing that.
Jonathan Fields (00:06:15) – I love basically every part of that. And also your openness to sort of receiving a signal and saying, okay, I’m feeling this, there’s something happening here. I can’t just let this go. There’s something bigger going on. I feel like so often we get those signals and they’re often subtle.
Jonathan Fields (00:06:34) – Sometimes they’re really strong and visceral and we deny that they’re actually speaking to us in some way. I wonder sometimes, because it scares us, the thought of of then acting on it because it might require us to reimagine our future in some way and let you got this. And you were just like not questioning it. You’re like, this. It is what it is.
Kemi Nekvapil (00:06:54) – It is what it is. And I have definitely really engaged in practices over the last two decades, actually, that allow me to trust the bodily knowledge that I tap into every single day. And I’m one of those people that, you know, I have a gut reaction first and and I can tap into my heart and what I feel and then I’ll take it up into the head. Whereas I know for some people they start in the head. So then obviously to see something like that in a magazine and then think, I want to be a flower farmer, if you’re just operating in your head the whole time, that makes no sense.
Kemi Nekvapil (00:07:30) – You don’t know how to do that. You have no knowledge to do that. And so for me, the head comes in last, but I always trust my internal wisdom first.
Jonathan Fields (00:07:39) – Okay. So now I have to ask you, because we can’t leave this hanging out there. Are you open to sharing what some of those practices are? Because I have no doubt that many folks are really struggling with the journey from the heart to the head and the reversing it. And I feel like I have systematically tuned out the wisdom of intuition and also of our physical body. And we just pretend that it’s not actually giving us valid information. I’m curious now what those practices might be that allow you to really tap into it.
Kemi Nekvapil (00:08:08) – There are a few practices that I have and I also. Think as well. You know, it’s an opportunity to look at the bigger context. So, yes, individuals may struggle with this, but we also have to acknowledge that we are also parts of systems where us being connected to our body and our wisdom is not beneficial to the systems.
Kemi Nekvapil (00:08:25) – So there is a larger narrative going on as well. But for me as an individual, I have been practicing yoga and meditation for 28 years now and I am an absolute passionate lover of beauty and nature. So I spend a lot of time out in nature. That’s also one of my practices of just kind of being present to myself and in my body. And I think this is one thing that’s really powerful about meditation and yoga as examples is that they are practices. I think people assume that they should know how to do them and there isn’t really so much a how, it’s more a feeling our way into it. And my meditation practice now that I have a 19 year old who has just left home actually four weeks ago and a 17 year old at home, it’s very different than when I was at home with young children. My meditation practice then was me kind of running into the shower, hoping no one would follow me, trying to do a couple of breaths and get out again. That was, you know, that was my meditation of the day.
Kemi Nekvapil (00:09:24) – And my other practice is journaling. There is such a power and I know that I’m sure that so many of the listeners in your community are big fans of journaling the ability to take what is in our head and to have it in front of us. Just that in itself. I’m someone that doesn’t go back to read my journals. It is purely about in the present moment, what I’m thinking, what I’m feeling. And even this morning I ask myself a question and the next line I’d answered it and I think I was saying, Oh, I should probably talk to so and so about. And then I just wrote, Oh no, actually I think I’ll just do B And I said, okay, well there it is, there’s my answer. So for me it’s yoga, nature, journaling and meditation that allows me to be present and to trust myself.
Jonathan Fields (00:10:05) – Yeah. And that trust part, I think is just something we’re also so, so often disconnected from these days. And in fact, sometimes we’re even taught to distrust ourselves in various different ways.
Jonathan Fields (00:10:15) – And that ties in for sure to some of the bigger systemic things that are going on that you referenced earlier. So as we have this conversation, you are in the world largely as a coach, a facilitator, a consultant, working often with women on the topic of power, on the topic of full expression, on the topic of living the way that they want to live, you spend time studying everywhere from Bhutan. Gross Happiness. Gross National Happiness Center. For anyone who’s tracked some of the happiness indexes over the years, Bhutan often shows up near the top of those. So I thought that was kind of fascinating and really diving deep more recently into this topic of power and all the nuances around it. And I want to dive into that because it is in fact the subject of your new book. But for you, this is also a very personal exploration. It sounds rooted from the earliest days. I’d love you to share a bit more about the origin story of your interest and exploration of the notion of power.
Kemi Nekvapil (00:11:13) – I’d love to share. So I was born in the 1970s. I was born in England and I have Nigerian heritage and in the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s, middle class Nigerian families, many that could that had the resources to fostered their children out to white families in the UK. So I’m English, but I have Nigerian heritage and I didn’t grow up with my Nigerian birth family because my parents, like many parents, want the best education for their children. And once again, the larger narrative is colonization. Obviously the idea that there’s only one form of education that has any merit in the world, but also they made the best decisions for us at the time. So that meant, you know, from being a baby until the age of 13, I had five primary carers growing up. And so my focus as a child was to feel safe and my focus as a child was to make sure that I never angered or put a step wrong with any of my parents because then I would be moved on to the next parent.
Kemi Nekvapil (00:12:12) – And I think by the age of five I understood racism, but I understood it not as a word. I understood that because of the color of my skin, I was less than everyone else around me. And the reality is, is that I didn’t question that. I had no reference point to. Question Is that true or not? I just took that on as the truth. And so from a place of survival and that’s our instinct. Our human instinct is to survive. How do I exist in this environment? And I knew being a girl that being good was going to be a really great inroad. But then to be a black girl, I had to be very, very good. And how that looked through my childhood and even into my early teens was to never rock the boat to make sure that nobody thought that I had. Well, I hope I wouldn’t say I didn’t have a personality because I did, but I definitely was not living a full expression of myself. I was on high alert all the time.
Kemi Nekvapil (00:13:08) – My main question all the time was. Am I going to be asked to leave here? Do I? Am I going to have a new mum and dad next week? Next month? What is it going to take for me to stay here? And because of various financial constraints at the time, it meant that I couldn’t always stay with the same foster parents or they got older and they couldn’t look after me. And so I was moved around. So my early years were very much based in powerlessness, although of course I wouldn’t have given it that name as a child.
Jonathan Fields (00:13:38) – Moving around like that and constantly sort of it’s almost like you’re living in a state of hypervigilance 24 over seven and there are layers and layers of that and reasons why you might do that. And it makes perfect sense that one of the responses is to effectively fit into the power dynamic that you felt would keep you safe and in the place that you felt you wanted to be, at least for that moment in time. And that meant, to a large extent, surrendering the power that was inside of you and basically just complying, going along with whatever the local culture was.
Jonathan Fields (00:14:10) – When does that bubble start to burst for you?
Kemi Nekvapil (00:14:15) – There was definitely a few core moments. One of them actually was about 16. And, you know, you’re 16. You’re a teenager. I was the only black girl at school. All of my friends, everyone seemed to have, you know, a boyfriend or a girlfriend, everyone in that teenage kind of vocabulary. And I remember feeling very lonely. I had very much got the message that because I was, you know, a dark skinned black girl, that I was not beautiful, that I was not desired, that nobody wanted me. And I remember being in physical education class and everyone was kind of getting changed. And I remember looking in the mirror, I must have been doing my hair and I got what I call a divine download. And when I say that it didn’t come from inside of me. So we’re talking about my wisdom central. It didn’t come from inside of me. It came from outside of me and it felt like it came from the right side of my head into my consciousness.
Kemi Nekvapil (00:15:04) – And I don’t identify as a religious person, but it was definitely a voice that was outside of my own. And it just said to me, If you keep comparing yourself to everyone else, you will never be happy. And at 16, I just knew that was true. I didn’t question it because I was experiencing being very unhappy because I kept looking around at all of my friends thinking, Why do they have what they have? Why do they look the way that they do? Why did they have all of these things that I’m not experiencing? So to get that message at that time was very truthful for me. I think another time that was very powerful that I share in the book was I had grown up in these environments where people kept saying to me, Well, black people are your people. So when you’re with black people, and I would spend holidays with my birth mother in London, she had a little flat there. But mainly my environment was very much a white environment. So I then sort of took this ongoing.
Kemi Nekvapil (00:15:58) – I went on with black people, then I’ll feel like I belong and, you know, then I can feel safe and that’ll be okay. And I had gone to drama school and I had been invited to be part of a music video where most of the cast was a black cast. And I was so excited. Jonathan I remember going on the train up to London to visit, you know, in inverted commas, my people. And I remember asking a question to the choreographer or the director on the set, and I just saw a couple of people sort of look at me and sort of mutter to each other. And one of them smiled and I just felt this uneasy feeling. But I didn’t know what it was. When we then had a break, I went over and spoke to a group of people. All a group are just young black people like me, and I asked something about the direction that we had been given, and one of them said to me, Oh, you’re a coconut. And I had no idea what that meant.
Kemi Nekvapil (00:16:47) – And I said, Sorry. And somebody else said, You’re black on the outside, but you’re white on the inside, aren’t you? And I remember in that moment thinking, Oh, so I don’t belong here either. And I remember leaving that day sitting on the train, and I was really puzzled. I said, okay, so I don’t belong in this white world and I don’t belong in this black world. Very binary thinking. Obviously, I was young. I don’t belong in the white world. I don’t belong in the black world. And that was my next moment of so I’m going to have to belong to me first. I’m going to have to navigate the world as myself first and not turn myself inside out to try and fit into spaces and places that I’m told I’m not allowed to be in.
Jonathan Fields (00:17:31) – How old were you when When.
Kemi Nekvapil (00:17:32) – This was about 16. 17.
Jonathan Fields (00:17:35) – So again. Young.
Kemi Nekvapil (00:17:37) – Yeah, young. But that didn’t eventuate for a long time. So I was still very much walking into rooms.
Kemi Nekvapil (00:17:44) – And I would I would have an intention of make sure that everyone thinks you’re nice, be nice. So I left any other complexity of my personality outside the room so that I was nice in the room that no one ever felt threatened by me. And I did that probably until my early 20s. And I just think it’s been a progression over time of me being able to step into who I am. An example for me, owning my power is sharing. My story about being a foster child. I never used to share that story because I didn’t want people’s pity or people’s sympathy, and I didn’t want to show that kind of vulnerable side of me. But I fully understand that one of the most powerful things we have is our stories and to take ownership of them.
Jonathan Fields (00:18:27) – Yeah, I mean, so powerful. The the way you describe it, it’s like the seeds were planted in your late teens. And then it took a while for this, the seeds to start to actually bear fruit. And like any plant, it’s not like it just shows up as a fully bloomed like tree.
Jonathan Fields (00:18:44) – It grows slowly and like it slowly bears fruit and slowly becomes more lush. So this becomes at some point a central focus for you. I mean, it starts out as your own exploration, as you move into the world of exploring not just power, but also service and how to live well and going deep into what are the elements of how people actually show up and live these good lives. Like power becomes also something that you keep circling back to. It sounds like, and over time developed your own effectively model around it. But part of that also has got to start with just the notion of what is power. I mean, when we’re talking about that word, what do we even talking about?
Kemi Nekvapil (00:19:27) – And I have to share that when I was speaking to my writing mentor about this book and we were sort of brainstorming with each other about the title, and I remember just saying to him. Power. And the first thing that my head said was, Who do you think you are to write a book about power? Like, once again, I had this visceral reaction of You are not allowed to go there.
Kemi Nekvapil (00:19:49) – You do not get to speak about this. But I also knew because I’ve been writing for a while, Oh, this is exactly why you need to go there and you need to write this book. So the first thing I did as an English person was I went straight to the Oxford Dictionary because I knew we all have these ideas of what many words mean. And I thought, I actually want to go to a respected source and see what it says. What is power? And the Oxford Dictionary definition of the word power is the ability or capacity to do something in a particular way. Now that is extraordinary to me because what it shows is that we have all been told that there is only one particular form of power in the world that is generally male, that is generally Anglo, cisgendered, able bodied Christian. Suddenly, if it’s how you do things in the world, that becomes one form of power. It doesn’t become all forms of power. And then I remember talking to my editor, I had just started writing stories, so I started writing stories from my clients, working with, you know, over a decade now, working with females in leadership roles in various industries, various career levels.
Kemi Nekvapil (00:20:58) – And I started seeing these themes of where they felt powerless in their lives or in the rooms that they found themselves in. But I started with my own stories, and as I was writing them, I believe that gender was going to be the predominant area where I found myself powerless, which maybe was naive, I’m not sure. But this is the power of writing as well. But as I started writing the stories, I was like, Oh, actually it’s race. There’s the intersection of gender for me. But actually it is race as a defining factor where I have felt that my power has been taken away the most. And so suddenly I looked at, okay, so we’ve got this idea of power. We have a form of power in the world that everyone knows, and yet we’re being told it is the capacity and the ability to do something. I remember one night thinking, I know how I want to redefine power is in the word itself. I know it’s in the world. So I just wrote on a post at night, the night before.
Kemi Nekvapil (00:21:50) – The structure is in the word and I just went to sleep. I woke up the next morning, I did my meditation and in my meditation came the acronym, which is Presence, ownership, wisdom, equality and responsibility. And once again, Jonathan, I didn’t question it. I knew this is where all of these stories, all of my client experiences and what I’m exploring fits into this word.
Jonathan Fields (00:22:17) – Again, trusting the download. You know, it’s interesting because and this is actually something that you write about early in the book is in the context of defining your own model and almost like reclaiming what power is, but not just for you, but for each person who wants to stand in it in their own, whatever identity it may be. You also contrast it with ambition, which I thought was really interesting because ambition is something that often a certain identity associated, but also the word itself is is often seen as on the one hand, some people see it as like, this is the way that you have to be in the world.
Jonathan Fields (00:22:52) – And other people see it as this is a really big negative and the contrast between power and ambition. The relationship there I think is really interesting.
Kemi Nekvapil (00:23:02) – Yeah. And for me, I believe that comes under the power of belief. And what are the things that we believe about ourselves, especially when in relation to certain words, I had a situation where I was having lunch with a really dear friend and colleague that I really respected. She was in the corporate space and I was just sort of starting my coaching work and she said to me, she said, I love your ambition. And I remember thinking, you know, I’m English. So I just smiled and nodded and pretended that she hadn’t offended me in any way. And but obviously my face changed because she said, Oh, you look like I’ve offended you. And I said, No, no, no, no, I’m absolutely fine. Everything is absolutely glorious. And I remember walking away thinking, why would she call me ambitious? Why would she call me deceitful? Why does she think that I’d step over anybody to get what I want? I was really offended.
Kemi Nekvapil (00:23:47) – So once again, I went to the dictionary. Definition of ambition is that is a strong desire to do something. So suddenly I was like, Oh, I am ambitious. I have a strong desire to do work in the world that has meaning and it has impact. And so suddenly I reclaim that word for myself as well as the word power. And that’s what I try to do in my work, is for us to look at what do we think things mean and what do they actually mean? Because the reality is, Jonathan, is that so many of us, especially women, do not want to embody the form of power that has been done to most of us. So we have this idea of, I don’t want power. Power is bad, it is wrong, it takes away from other people, it is dominant and I don’t want a part of that. So I knew that I didn’t want a part of that for myself. So the redefining of it was a really important part of the journey of writing this book.
Kemi Nekvapil (00:24:38) – And then when I looked at this acronym, I looked at my stories and it was very clear for me that this was an unconscious process that I had taken myself through to move myself from someone who felt very powerless and was told, you are powerless to them being able to be in the world as myself with a sense of power that makes sense to me.
Jonathan Fields (00:24:59) – Yeah, it sounds like it was this acronym that dropped down, and the framework of these five different elements was almost a not just a prescriptive tool, but a diagnostic tool to sort of look back and understand the journey that you had been taking in, very likely will continue to take for the rest of your life. I want to dive into the different elements of your model. Before we get there, though, there’s one thing. There’s almost like the meta lens, the meta skill for all of this that I thought it was fascinating to see you address. And it’s the notion of awareness. And this has been something where I think about the way that we live our lives and all the options we might have, the choices we might make, the things we might invest in or choose not to invest in, change we might want to affect in our lives or in the world around us.
Jonathan Fields (00:25:43) – Nothing happens until there is a level of both internal and external awareness, because you can’t be intentional until you’re aware. So I thought it was really interesting that this was a part of the conversation. Before you really invite people into the model.
Kemi Nekvapil (00:25:57) – We have to be aware. I believe it’s the first moment of change. And one thing I believe that can happen, especially within the coaching space and, you know, coach in different ways. And for me as an ICF credentialed coach, there’s a particular way that I coach and that isn’t always to go towards action. It’s not always to go towards the goal. It is about who you’re becoming along the way. And I was working with a client just yesterday who had what she called a brain burst moment and she said, So I need to do something, I need to do something. And I question her. I said, you could do you need to do something? Or is the powerful thing to sit in the awareness and see what bubbles up in just giving this awareness some space and some time? And let’s see what you come back with when we speak in in a couple of weeks.
Kemi Nekvapil (00:26:44) – And I could literally feel her nervous system settle that she didn’t need to go straight to action. She didn’t need to go straight in to do, do, do, do do that. Actually, the being with the awareness of what she had just discovered for herself was the most powerful thing that she could do at that time. And we live in a world where we have to be very committed to staying aware because the distractions are everywhere.
Jonathan Fields (00:27:10) – Yeah. And the notion even that sometimes the most powerful thing to do is nothing is to just be still. It’s counterintuitive. Yet if you dig underneath it, it’s actually profoundly intuitive. But we tune that intuition out.
Kemi Nekvapil (00:27:23) – And also because sometimes sitting with the awareness is really challenging to be with either the feeling or the truth that we’ve just revealed for ourself or the situation that we have co-created with someone I will talk about. We co-create dynamics. It’s never about just that person over there. Sometimes it’s sit with where we are in our lives or how we’re feeling or the impacts is really confronting.
Kemi Nekvapil (00:27:46) – So it feels easier to go to action than it is to actually sit in how that makes us feel.
Jonathan Fields (00:27:53) – Yeah, that makes so much sense to me. Let’s drop into the model a bit. You have this acronym, so and it’s literally the, the letters of the word power, the P, the first P there actually represents the word presence. And I feel like that’s a little bit of what we’ve already started to talk about. But take me deeper into what you’re actually inviting people into when you talk about presence 100%.
Kemi Nekvapil (00:28:16) – We have already touched on it because it is presence is awareness. So when I talk about presence in regard to power, it’s being aware of what is working and is not working in our lives and that our ability to be present or not has a really big impact on our ability to connect with ourselves and to connect with other people. We have to know what is going on for us before we get out into the world to try and make any shifts or changes or transformations. We have to know what in my life is good, you know, But what in my life has space for change or growth or needs to be completely overhauled? And we have to start with a place of presence, creating stillness in our lives to ask ourselves these questions.
Kemi Nekvapil (00:28:57) – Yeah.
Jonathan Fields (00:28:57) – Mean when you talk about creating that space, creating that stillness to really be present in the truth of whatever is part of that is internal, but part of it for you, it sounds like also is the truth of the systems, the society, the culture in which we function. Because especially in the context of how do we step back into a place of power in our own lives, that’s got to be part of the equation, right?
Kemi Nekvapil (00:29:23) – It has to. And for me, I believe it gives us power. So for those of us that have marginalized identities, whatever that looks like, the reality is, is that we are operating within systems that were not created for us. So just last week I was working with a client. Who is a lawyer here in Australia, and she was in a particular room with other lawyers and she just felt herself close up. And she said, I don’t know why I do that. Why? Why do I close up? I have something to say.
Kemi Nekvapil (00:29:51) – Why do I close up? And I said to her, Yes, we can have a look at your individual reaction in that space. But also let’s have a look at the context. You are not meant to be in that room. You are never meant to be in that room. So let’s look at it with the larger context that you’re operating under. So it doesn’t just become what is wrong with me? Why can’t I do that? And once again, I felt her just go, Oh, of course, of course. And I’m like, okay, so can you can we now look at some self-compassion? The reason that you struggle or any woman or any person coming from marginalized identity might struggle to have a voice in that room is because you weren’t meant to be in that room. And then it actually led her to this space of all of the things and the work that she has done to get in that room in the first place. And it would be a shame for her not to speak now like it actually ended with quite a light note.
Kemi Nekvapil (00:30:38) – But yes, 100%. We have to be present to the structures because they are real. I feel very privileged and honoured to do the work that I do. I love the work that I do and I can walk into a room as a black woman and be made to feel powerless in a moment. And that is real. That is not in my head. I have not made that up. And so for me, being aware of where is this me and what is my response to this reality compared to this is reality that I have to navigate every single day?
Jonathan Fields (00:31:09) – Yeah, it’s got to be really interesting also because and this is part of what you write about under the exploration of presence is the notion that on the one hand, we have to acknowledge the system we’re working within and it’s input into the way that we feel empowered or disempowered or somewhere in the middle. And at the same time, you also don’t want to let people off the hook. There’s another side to this, which is sometimes one of our go tos is who else can I blame? So it’s a really interesting dance, isn’t it? It is.
Kemi Nekvapil (00:31:39) – But the reality is with blaming other people is that it leaves us powerless. It’s the complete opposite of a sense of power because it’s all over there with them. And then which kind of leads to the final power principle, which is the R, which we’ll get to. But if it’s all over there with that person, if what they are doing and obviously I’m not talking about any situation that involves abuse, but in situations where, you know, we’re at work and just someone, why don’t they do their work or why don’t they do this? It’s over there. But if we were present to ourselves, we could be thinking, I’m present to the fact that I don’t want to have an uncomfortable conversation with that person about their work. It is easier for me to point the finger and maybe enroll other people in the team about how they’re not doing their work, which is so much more dramatic and delightful and you know, than it is to actually go and have the difficult conversation with the person about saying, Hey, you’re not pulling your weight in the team and it’s impacting the team.
Kemi Nekvapil (00:32:34) – And so I believe that personal development is a gift to all of us that have the resources. And one of those gifts is that we are responsible for the changes that we want to make. It doesn’t make it easier, but ultimately it is up to us to make the changes and the shifts.
Jonathan Fields (00:32:50) – And I completely agree. You know, it’s about agency at the end of the day. And and how much of it do we want to surrender unwittingly? Often what’s interesting is you have this sort of meta lens, which is the model, you know, like the acronym power. But within each one of those, the five different core elements, your approach is not to say, let me give you the answers to like how to actually like get what you want from this element and then stack the P on top of the on top of the R and the E, you do the exact opposite, which is you basically say, I don’t have the answers here, but what I do have is a set of I think it’s 26 different questions that are split between the different elements that you call power processes.
Jonathan Fields (00:33:30) – But effectively they’re personal inquiries. And essentially you’re saying to somebody, this is up to you. I’m going to share questions that might help you figure things out. But at the end of the day, it’s up to you to both step into the question and answer them honestly and then think about what is the appropriate action for me in response to that, which again, goes back to this agency thing at the center of everything.
Kemi Nekvapil (00:33:55) – And to me, that is the heart of coaching. You know, there is such a difference between being a consultant where I would say to a client, so you just need to follow this roadmap and then you will example have the house that you want. You know, an architect is kind of a consultant in some ways you want. And I’ll tell you exactly what it is that you need to do. That is not my role as a coach. My role as a coach is to create a safe space for my clients where I hold no judgment. And so whenever I write a book, it’s never about me telling people what to do because I don’t know their lives.
Kemi Nekvapil (00:34:24) – I don’t know their internal and external resources. And to be honest, I’m sure you’d experience this too. There is so much of the self development world that actually makes people feel worse about themselves, and I never want to be a part of that. This idea that, well, you just. Do what I did and then everything will be fine. Leaves people thinking, Well, I couldn’t do that. And it’s like, well, maybe because you are nothing like that person and you don’t have their resources and you don’t have their story. So for me, it’s about sharing my stories, sharing stories from my clients and then, as you say, asking questions at the end. So what is a relationship in your life where you feel that you have a sense of equality and a sense of power? Or what is the relationship in your life where that isn’t the case? And for people to work out for themselves, where they feel powerful in their lives and where they feel powerless and where some of that may be purely internal and where some of that may be external.
Kemi Nekvapil (00:35:15) – Because power is when we as individuals know that we have agency in our lives. And for some people, the next step is to possibly and I’m actually not joking when I use this example in my second book, The Gift of Asking, I was working with a client around asking and she used to order a sandwich from her local cafe every day. But she doesn’t like tomatoes, so every day she’d get this sandwich that had tomatoes and she would take them out every single day. And we worked on her because she had grown up never asking for what she needed or wanted. She didn’t want to be a burden. And she did not want to say to the cafe owner, I’d like that sandwich, but without the tomatoes. So part of the work was for her to ask for no tomatoes. And the cafe owner said to her, Oh my goodness. I was wondering when you were going to ask because I just have to keep throwing tomatoes away every day, you know? And she was like, I thought you’d be a burden and something like this.
Kemi Nekvapil (00:36:09) – So that’s seems like a really small action for her. It was huge. She said she was trembling when she asked that question, whereas I may work with someone in a C-suite and it’s a much bigger action that they need to take because the presentation that they’re giving, you know, literally will depend on whether or not their company will get the job, we’ll get the tender. So it’s kind of a bigger ask for them, but it is still relevant to that person in that season of their lives. I am never pushing a client saying, but it should be bigger. You should be doing more. I’ve never been a fan of the phrase do something every day that scares you. I’m like, Why? Why do I want to send my system into overdrive every single Can’t I just sit still? Why do I have to be scared every day? You know? So there’s always, always the challenge. And that push and pull of progress isn’t always go, go, go, go, go. Depending on who we are and the life that we’re living, sometimes progress is stop.
Kemi Nekvapil (00:37:04) – Now we know the amount of people that are in burnout on the edge of burnout coming out of burnout through the pandemic before the pandemic. And for some people, progress and growth is to stop and to take stock of the cost of them continually going forward in what they think is progress. Because we know the body takes us out in the end anyway. If we don’t stop, the body takes us out.
Jonathan Fields (00:37:28) – Yeah, always. And I have experienced that and I think most people probably have at some point pushing too hard. You know, part of what’s embedded in your approach of really dropping people into questions rather than answers is also and tell me if this resonates, because this is from the outside looking in. What I experience is the notion of testing assumptions. You know, it feels like so many of us, we move through life assuming certain things are true or not true, and we never test them. And those become constraints, constraints in our power, constraints in our agency constraints and our joy and our fun and our pleasure, everything.
Jonathan Fields (00:38:04) – And we just assume it is what it is and what was underneath. A lot of these questions that you offer up is the notion of testing the assumptions.
Kemi Nekvapil (00:38:13) – Yes. And there’s power in owning that. We have them, you know, as human beings, we are judgmental. We had to be judgmental roaming around in our tribes to make sure, is that person safe? What is going to happen? We make snap decisions about people all the time. It is so much more powerful to admit that than it is to pretend that we don’t. Because when we admit that, as you say, then we can do the work and go, Oh, why do I assume if that person looks like that, that there is a certain thing or that into a particular thing? You know, one of the things that I love to do or not so much now, but in my early day, people just assumed that I loved hip hop. They just assumed that I knew every hip hop song that was going about.
Kemi Nekvapil (00:38:54) – I grew up in Kent. I grew up with foster parents that loved country and western music. I grew up with Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton. I’m an absolute country and Western fan, although most people might look at me and not assume that. And so I think one of the parts, especially of the second power principle of ownership, is that we own all parts of ourselves to say, No, actually, I love flowers, I love country and western music. I’m a black woman with a shaved head. I have no idea where I am in terms of geography. Most of the time I’m always getting lost. I don’t like driving. You know, there are so many things that when we share these parts of ourself, that’s what connects us with each other. When we can take ownership of our light and our shadow of the things that we know and things that we don’t know of, the parts of our stories that we’ve been told that don’t actually belong to us, which is really big for refugee and migrant families.
Kemi Nekvapil (00:39:44) – Sometimes the stories that we’ve experienced, those that we’ve created, those that we’ve made up, and when we can integrate them all, we get to stand in our power in the way that we navigate the world in a way that we don’t. If we leave parts of ourselves like I did, I leave parts of myself outside of rooms so that I was allowed in the room. Now, for me, power is just not stepping into those rooms where I would feel that I would have to do that.
Jonathan Fields (00:40:07) – You’re certainly not the only one. The notion of leaving parts of yourself outside so that you would be allowed in the room. I think everybody has done that or the very minimum considered doing that. And of course, it’s going to differ depending on who you are, depending on your level of status and privilege and history. Some people probably feel more compelled to do that than not, I’m sure. And at the same time, the notion of you giving up or leaving a part of yourself out so that you can be invited in, I think when even when we do that and then we’re in the room, it becomes apparent pretty quickly that we’re not actually in the room.
Jonathan Fields (00:40:42) – Like there is some projection of us, some curated set list of unchangeable qualities that’s in the room. And if that’s accepted, it actually doesn’t give us the feeling we want to have.
Kemi Nekvapil (00:40:54) – 100% and it’s exhausting. That’s the other thing is that it is exhausting to leave yourself outside of the room but be physically in the room and then putting on this mask or this way of being or this way of speaking or the thing that you do. So the thing that you don’t say so that you can be in this room, which actually means you’re not even there, no one’s actually meeting you, and you leave feeling less than you did when you walked in because you didn’t actually bring yourself into that interaction. And I know that for some of us, it is also not safe to show our whole selves, you know? So it is it’s this dance. And I talk in the book. The book isn’t about 21 days to power, and then you will always be this all knowing power forever. The book is about we will give our power away consciously because we are smart and we know that is the best thing to do.
Kemi Nekvapil (00:41:40) – Sometimes our power will be taken away from us and sometimes we will give it away from us by default. Once again, it goes back to awareness when we become aware and present of why and how and with whom and in what spaces, We then start to rebuild our power in a different way. And then in a week’s time, taken away from us. I have teenagers, Jonathan. I can go on stage, speak to a thousand people plus, feel incredibly in my power and like I’m a worthy human being in the world contributing. And then I get home and my teenager will just give me a glance. And I my power just leaves me and I watch it go, you know? So it is a dance, you know, in the same way that I talk about coaching, Coaching is a dance. I believe that power is a dance that it can be. I talk about the power of delight. I talk about the power of fun In the book. It is not this necessarily this intense, dominant force.
Kemi Nekvapil (00:42:30) – It can be beauty and fun and connection and it can be abundant. And we can. Share it with others. And one thing that I know for sure is that if I’m truly in my power, I’m not afraid of yours. I don’t need you to make yourself smaller. I don’t need you to hide in the cupboard so that I can be bigger. I can actually stand alongside you. You can stand alongside me. And together we can have power in the world to do things in a particular way.
Jonathan Fields (00:42:55) – I love that. So we’ve sort of dipped into the notion we’ve gone beyond dipping into the notion of ownership, and that would be the the letter and the model so built into the center. The center of this is wisdom, which I think is really interesting because so often I think a lot of us probably feel that there is power being exercised in the world that is entirely divorced from wisdom.
Kemi Nekvapil (00:43:24) – And there’s a wisdom in knowing that you may or may not be able to do anything about that, but you can affect the wisdom that you have and the way that you show up in the world.
Kemi Nekvapil (00:43:35) – And the way that you contribute to other people. You know, one thing I say in that chapter is that we tend to outsource our lives. We need to be mindful of not outsourcing our lives. I know that you’ve had incredible, you know, wisdom leaders and seekers and teachers and coaches on this podcast, and I love this podcast and I listen to podcasts and I have teachers that I follow, but it’s all information for me to then process for myself as. CME What works for me, what is true for me, what resonates for me, and to actually once again have that awareness, to sit with the information and not assume it is right, but to kind of sit with it and test it and trial. And if it doesn’t work, to not assume, well, there’s something wrong with me. The wisdom is, well, that doesn’t work for me to think that, well, there’s something wrong with me is a sense of powerlessness to say, Well, that doesn’t work for me. It brings us back into our power.
Kemi Nekvapil (00:44:29) – So for me, the wisdom principle is all about not outsourcing our lives to trust and train. And we do need to train it. It is a practice we’ve spoken about. It can be trained out of us from a very early age, but to have practices that when we get a message, when our intuition tells us something, that we get to a point where we can trust it, that it is real, and then we may want to check in with our head around the how or how does this actually work in the world. But to actually trust that innate wisdom because it will guide us to the life that we want for ourselves.
Jonathan Fields (00:45:01) – It feels like this also really relates back to our earlier conversation around stillness, creating this space, you know, rather than brute forcing. What is the lesson? What is the message? What is the insight like? I need to actually figure this out, which I think is a very Western minded way to do it. Also in embracing my hand because I’m wired that way to a certain extent.
Jonathan Fields (00:45:20) – But do the practice which just creates the space and allows the insight, the wisdom, the deeper truth to emerge from that space. But again, there’s this really tough dynamic because to do that, as you shared earlier, sometimes it means us sitting in a high level of discomfort at the same time. So we’re sitting in stillness. There’s a lot of discomfort that emerges. It may be just about the reality of who we are and our circumstance. And at the same time, we’re trying to tease out what is the wisdom in this moment that’s being shared with me, that’s being revealed to me? It’s complicated.
Kemi Nekvapil (00:46:00) – It is complicated. We’re complicated. We are we are complicated and we are multi-layered and we carry around so much within us. You know, there are worlds within all of us. And some of those worlds are really scary. And sitting with some of these stories that we have, sitting with what our wisdom tells us, you know, our wisdom is going to say things to us that we don’t want to hear because it means going against maybe what our families told us we had to be or should be or what society is telling us we should or have to be.
Kemi Nekvapil (00:46:32) – Why would you leave this particular job over here that gives you these particular benefits or this particular status to go and do this thing that makes sense to nobody at all? You know, one of my biggest tapping into my wisdoms, I was an actor for many years and I loved acting. It was really fun. But when I sat with it, I realized that the biggest gift that I could give myself as somebody who had played a character for a big part of my life, of trying to be someone to fit into spaces that I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life playing characters. You know, I have great friends who are actors and I love the craft of acting, but I didn’t want to do it for the rest of my life. And I had to make a decision as a young person who was earning great money, who was having adventures around the world and decide I had to decide something that made sense to nobody. It didn’t make sense to anybody to leave a successful acting career to go back to what I also loved at that time, which was shipping and being a baker to kind of go back into obscurity, some would say in some ways.
Kemi Nekvapil (00:47:34) – But I remember that first night. Of Saturday service. You know the dance. You know, you love using the analogy of metaphor for dance, but for anyone that’s listening, that is a chef has been in kitchens, the dance. When you have a busy service and you’re a team working together and you’re moving in and out of each other and there’s no words, but you just are creating this incredible energy together. I remember that first Saturday night and I remember thinking, this may be a mistake that I’ve just left this career that I should have wanted, but my gosh, it feels good right now and I will work out what and how from here. But this is the feeling of being myself in a kitchen at the end of a Saturday night service. This feels more like me than the me that I was when I was playing characters in different roles all the time. That decision was really lonely and very isolating. I’m not sure I’ve ever felt as lonely as I did then because no one understood why I was doing what I was doing.
Kemi Nekvapil (00:48:29) – But I trusted myself and I’m glad that I did.
Jonathan Fields (00:48:31) – Yeah, I mean, it’s that wisdom that comes from within that often is not supported externally. Yeah. Until people actually you have a little bit of space and people see what’s going on. In a very, very past life. I was a big firm lawyer in New York City, like we’re talking decades ago. I had the job that, you know, quote, everybody who went to school with me wanted. I lasted about a year and then I tapped out not just of that job, but of the profession. One of my big concerns was what will people think? But it wasn’t enough. But there was something inside of me that also knew this is not for me, this is not my path. And it was really crystal clear. And it took years for some of my friends, my peers, my colleagues to understand what was really happening. What was interesting to me is there was a departure memo that was sent around this, you know, like a thousand people or whatever it was in the firm, as was the way that it happened whenever someone left the firm.
Jonathan Fields (00:49:23) – And mine effectively said, I’m leaving to go lead people up mountains and explore the outdoors and start my own thing. And it was the senior partners in the firm who shared notes with me that said, Do it, I’m excited for you. Please keep me sort of updated on your path. I thought that was a really powerful moment for me to realize that the people who I had normally looked to to sort of like normalize what I was doing would not normalize it. But the people who were down the path where we were all aspiring to be were telling me maybe not honor that wisdom. That was a powerful moment for me, building on the wisdom part. And by the way, I want to remind everyone that within each one of these different elements, you there are just a whole range of very specific inquiries and questions that you offer up that I would really strongly encourage folks to drop into and sit with, not just like, you know, like jot out a quick answer, but really sit with and return to because I thought they’re really simple questions often, but really powerful.
Jonathan Fields (00:50:28) – Like one question under the wisdom section, Who are you waiting to get permission from? Simple question really powerful when you sit with it, because most of us probably don’t think about that, and most of us probably are waiting as we move on from wisdom, we drop into that and that is equality. And this is something that’s been weaving through our entire conversation. And it’s also something that has become a central of what’s always been a central part of your story and a really emerging part, what you’re inviting people into. And also maybe of the five different components of your model of power, the one that may engender the highest level of discomfort for a lot of people.
Kemi Nekvapil (00:51:06) – Yeah. And I talk about equality in kind of two ways in the book, and I think about it in this way. I have a feeling that a lot of the listeners to this podcast are contributing to global inequalities in the way that they can with the resources they have, whether that’s time, whether that’s financially where I think a lot of us are very aware of the global inequalities and yet we sometimes miss the equality that sits inside every single one of us.
Kemi Nekvapil (00:51:31) – You know, as I said earlier, I did not grow up thinking that I was equal to the white people around me at all. And so I just thought, well, that’s my place in the world. And so and I have to operate in a particular way. And, you know, the same speaking to friends that identify in different ways, whatever that is, that so many of us have been told that who we are in the world is wrong and that we are not equal and that we have to wait for permission for someone to allow us into spaces or places or give us the job or the opportunity. And for me, this idea of power that comes from the inside is knowing that our humanity is equal to everybody else. So one of the gifts of the work I do is that I facilitate groups and Australian business owners because I live in Australia. But I know The Hunger Project does this around the world. So The Hunger Project is a global organization that really works with people on a coaching model.
Kemi Nekvapil (00:52:25) – So once again, it gives power and agency to the people are hungry that are hungry. The model is not, we will come and save you. We know what is best for you because that’s not powerful except for the person. That’s saying that it’s definitely not powerful for the receivers. The Hunger Project’s model is all about coaching, and so I will work with, say, 20 business owners. We go over to I’ve been to Uganda a few times with The Hunger Project and we work with our village partners on the ground to look at what does leadership look like for them. And an example may be a woman, Barbara, who I’ll never forget, who had home that she was living in that had a banana leaf roof in this village that we had visited. And her dream and her commitment and her action was to make sure that by the next time, the next time the rain season came that she had made sure that roof was a corrugated iron roof. And she was so excited and she was so committed and she was so ready.
Kemi Nekvapil (00:53:13) – Now, one of the leaders in the group, the Australian group, and we went back that night to kind of process and facilitate the day. She was really emotional and really moved and I checked in with her what’s going on? And she said, I couldn’t believe how excited and certain that Barbara was about her ability to have this happen, that she would have a tin roof by the time the rain season came. And how she celebrated herself and her accomplishment. And she said, I never celebrate myself. My team, we’ve had a high turnover in my company. I’ve never been able to put the finger on why. And I’ve realized because I don’t celebrate anything or anyone, I’m go, go, go. Now, we could think because Barbara’s vision and her goal is to get something that many of us just have. It’s a privilege that we have a roof over our head that doesn’t have rain coming through it. But how she responded to that, her humanity and her celebration was a mirror to the person that had so many more external resources than Barbara had, but it still gave her something about her leadership.
Kemi Nekvapil (00:54:16) – Another thing for me is that I’ve had the honor of speaking on a panel on Richard Branson’s Necker Island now. So I’ve been in a space with Richard Branson. I’m in a space with village leaders in Uganda. And one thing I know for sure, Richard Branson has more external resources than those leaders in Uganda. There is no doubt about that. But when it comes to their humanity exactly the same. There is no one that is less or more worthy than the other. They are humans having human experiences with challenges, different challenges, but challenges. And I think we miss that. We are all humans at our core. None of us are better or worse than the other. Life is complex, it is challenging and it can be delightful and we’re all in it together.
Jonathan Fields (00:55:03) – And as you share and invite people into the notion that if we start from that place and then we say that equity, that recognizing this, that resourcing it, that standing behind it, advocating for it is important to us, We may well also be inviting some level of discomfort, different for different people into our experience.
Jonathan Fields (00:55:22) – And that’s part of what we’re saying yes to and to say yes to the whole thing, because you can’t really parse that out. You know, that is a part of the exploration when you’re actually stepping into this this place of not just inquiry, but action taking, not exactly.
Kemi Nekvapil (00:55:37) – And if I was working with a client to say, for example, in a client said to me, I just feel like that person is is less than me or they just, you know, they just they don’t have as much status as me or something like that. Once again, I wouldn’t make it about the other person. I say, What is it about that person that makes you feel that they’re less than you? Like, what is that? And it could be or their English isn’t as good as mine or they haven’t been to the same school that I’ve been to. I mean, that was one thing for me that was huge. For many years I did not have the opportunity to go to university. My childhood was very much about survival.
Kemi Nekvapil (00:56:08) – So I and I know for many people that have not attended university, it is a huge thing where we make ourself less equal to those that have a higher education than we do, because that is part of the narrative of power. If you have a university education, then you have a particular status and you get a particular role in the world. And as you say, though, you can have a particular status and a particular role in the world and it doesn’t necessarily give you what you want. It gives you a level of education, but it doesn’t necessarily give you the good life. There are many ways to achieve and build and vision and create a good life. And knowing that we are worthy of that life is one of the most important things. And we don’t need to feel worthy every single day in every single moment, because that isn’t always possible for all of us. But it is feeling worthy enough in the moment to press send on the email or feeling worthy enough in the moment to pick up the phone and have the conversation, or to ask for the raise or to go on the holiday for no reason other than I want to go there.
Kemi Nekvapil (00:57:07) – You know that just being worthy enough in moments and over time that builds up to know my quality is intact and I’m allowed to be in the world.
Jonathan Fields (00:57:15) – And that really drops us beautifully into the last element of your model, which is responsibility. Which which. It’s funny because it spells out a word. It’s almost linear, but I really view this as a circular experience. You know, this is something which just everything keeps winding around and informing the next thing. And it brings us back to the notion of agency, which is a lot of where we started our. Two. It’s really about how are we going to step into this and owning the fact that it is actually up to us and responding to that invitation rather than just waiting for somebody to tell us what the next step is 100%.
Kemi Nekvapil (00:57:50) – And I, I love responsibility. Like, I know that for some people it can feel like a burden which is different to having responsibilities. You know, having responsibilities can feel burdensome, but having responsibility for your life doesn’t make life easier.
Kemi Nekvapil (00:58:06) – Let me just put that caveat in there. Sometimes it makes it harder because, you know, no one is coming. And just to quickly tap back into ownership, one of the gifts for me of being fostered and one of the gifts of me being black in a very predominantly white world, two things. One, I knew no one was coming to save me. I just knew that I knew no one was coming to save me. And in reading fairy tale books at that time that were all white princesses with white princesses, there were no princesses that looked like me that were ever saved by princess. So I’ve never had this idea that anyone was coming to save me and that I would need to, in inverted commas, save myself. The shadow side of that has been that. I’ve also had to make sure that I haven’t veered too much into. No one can help me, You know, we write the books we need. So my second book, The Gift of Asking that asking is a vulnerable act.
Kemi Nekvapil (00:58:53) – And vulnerability was really scary for me because it’s like, well, what’s going to happen if you’re vulnerable and you’re not allowed to have feelings? But for me, responsibility is the gift because it gives us agency in our lives. We take ourselves out of the passenger seat hoping that the person that’s driving is going to go the right way, hoping that they’re going to turn a left when we want them to, although we haven’t told them we want to go left, they go right and then it’s their fault. But it is scary. It’s scary to be responsible for our lives. It’s scary to realize that no one is going to come and say, Hey, you know that job that’s sucking the life out of you, You don’t have to do it anymore. It’s scary to say, Hey, you know, this relationship that you’re in where you feel less than who you are, you should probably leave that relationship now. You know, most of us know not to tamper with people’s relationships anyway, so there probably is not anyone coming saying that.
Kemi Nekvapil (00:59:40) – But we have to take ownership for ourselves and the lives that we want. And as I said, it is not easy. We have to take the first step. We have to be the one that kind of straps on our shoe and ties up the lace and says, Look, I’m not exactly knowing necessarily where I’m going, but I know what I’m moving away from. I’m moving away from this idea that I have to wait for someone to give me permission to live the life that I want or the life that I know that I deserve or the life that I’m not even sure if I deserve it or if I want it. But I’m willing to give it a good crack anyway and see what happens.
Jonathan Fields (01:00:11) – Yeah, I mean, that really resonates powerfully. And part of when you dive into the specific questions around each element, part of what you’re inviting people to explore also is in different ways the notion of what actually matters to me. So when we actually stand in a place of agency and responsibility and then to actually and as you described, you may know what you want to move away from at that particular season.
Jonathan Fields (01:00:34) – You may not know what you want to move towards, but if you start to this start into this process of inquiry to ask yourself what actually matters to me that I feel like is the thing that starts to reveal the what am I moving toward? Because it helps reveal like what is worth mattering to me and what is worth investing energy in.
Kemi Nekvapil (01:00:54) – And that’s what I love so much about coaching and questions because there are so many different angles of which people can explore the answers for themselves. So there is. There’s what matters. What matters to me, there’s how do I want to feel just working with a client recently? How do you want to feel? And her answer was, I want to feel, you know, she’s coming to the end of a business that she’s been working in for nearly 20 years, said, How do you want to feel? Said I want to feel free and at ease. I said, How do you currently feel? The exact opposite, You know, She was like, I feel the exact opposite.
Kemi Nekvapil (01:01:25) – But that then led us to a path of what feeling free and feeling ease would be. And it means making some really difficult, challenging decisions. But now she knows how she wants to feel in the world. Another one as well is what don’t you want? Sometimes it’s really hard, especially for women, to identify what it is they want for themselves because we have been socialized to know what everyone around us wants, to make sure that we are available all the time and to make sure that nobody is put out by any needs or wants that we may have. So sometimes asking a woman, What do you want? She actually has no idea. Sometimes the way in is what don’t you want? And then that can be the path in. That can be the first step. Questions are so powerful because it gives agency to the other person and we get to be curious about ourselves. We move away from this is me, this is what I do. That’s just who I am. And of course, as we get older, there are certain parts of our personalities that are very much cemented and set in stone.
Kemi Nekvapil (01:02:23) – But we have to be careful that those phrases and that narrative doesn’t make our world and our lives really, really small.
Jonathan Fields (01:02:31) – So powerful in this context, in the conversation around power and. A conversation around agency and responsibility and wisdom and ownership and all these amazing things. And in this container of Good Life project, if I offer up the phrase to live a good life, what comes up?
Kemi Nekvapil (01:02:46) – To give ourselves spaces to be present in our lives, whether that’s watching a butterfly, whether that’s being present in the relationships that really matter to us, whether it’s being present in our bodies, but creating spaces in places where we can have moments of presence and obviously grow flowers, whether it’s one pot, because it reminds us every day that there is beauty and things die and things grow and things happen, and yet the flowers always return. So I also think, you know, gardening or flowers also is a really great measure.
Jonathan Fields (01:03:19) – Thank you. Hey, before you leave, if you love this episode, safe bet you’ll also love the conversation that we had with Jada Zellner about reimagining how you step into your life and building it around a center of love.
Jonathan Fields (01:03:32) – You’ll find a link to Jota’s episode in the show Notes. And of course, if you haven’t already done so, please go ahead and follow Good Life project in your favorite listening app. And if you found this conversation interesting or inspiring or valuable and chances are you did. Since you’re still listening here, would you do me a personal favor, a seven second favor, and share it maybe on social or by text or by email. Even just with one person. Just copy the link from the app you’re using and tell those you know those you love, those you want to help navigate this thing called life a little better so we can all do it better together with more ease and more joy. Tell them to listen, then even invite them to talk about what you’ve both discovered. Because when podcasts become conversations and conversations become action. That’s how we all come alive together. Until next time, I’m Jonathan Fields, signing off for Good Life Project.