Your Queer Career: Work advice from ‘The Gay Leadership Dude’

In his latest column, Dr. Steve Yacovelli, (a.k.a. “The Gay Leadership Dude”) shares his expertise on submitted workplace questions from members of the LGBTQ+ community. Have a question? See below!

Hello “Gay Leadership Dude,” I’m exhausted. Like you, I live in Florida and between the “Don’t Say Gay” fiasco and the “Stop W.O.K.E. Act” shenanigans in our state alone, I’m feeling frustrated and lost; like we’re going backwards. I try to promote equity both in our community as well as in my workplace. What do you suggest I can do to keep up my spirits and continue the fight, and not get frustrated and give up? — Annoyed Advocate

Hey Annoyed: I completely hear you. The legislative attacks both here in Florida and in many other states against our LGBTQ+ community definitely are not changes in the right direction, and it has made me feel the same way as you: frustrated, sad, angry and a myriad of other emotions all mixed up in an icky, giant ball. Compound that with the ongoing pandemic, economic worries, unjustified wars, etc. and it’s no wonder people in our community (and beyond) are struggling to cope with it all.

One of the things I do for a living is “change management,” or how to manage (usually workplace) changes. New business processes, a new software implementation, a company merger; these are all types of workplace changes that “smart” organizations think about and strategically plan to adopt (and adapt). Sadly, some organizations just throw the change to their peeps with lots of drama and consequences. While learning the right way to implement change in an organization, I was exposed to the concept of “resiliency,” or how us humans adapt in the face of change, adversity, trauma, tragedy or significant sources of stress. While the concepts of being resilient involves simply “bouncing back” (or in some cases just surviving), it can also be an opportunity for profound personal growth.

The good news: there’s a heap of strategies we can leverage to help facilitate that growth. If you search for “resilience,” you’ll find a ton of resources. For me, the Top 3 strategies to be resilient in times of change (like the time we’re facing right now) are:

(1) Having a positive view of the world. Studies show that if we tend to look at the world in a more positive manner we tend to bounce back from adversity faster than those who have a more “doom and gloom” perspective. No, it’s not the “Everything is Awesome!” rose-colored glasses thing but being able to find those bright spots even when it’s a crappy time is the key. One trick from psychologists: create a “what went well” journal, where at the end of each day you find five things that went well for you. As you find those things, you’re rewiring your brain to look for those bright spots.

(2) Having a healthy self-concept. Think back to your past: have you ever been in a “low” spot? We all have. Having a healthy self-concept means you don’t feel like a victim of changing times; you also know your actions influence those around you. To realize you have a healthy self-concept go back to a “low” point and ask yourself what got you from that lower point to that higher point? Yes, you’ve been in low points before and know that you WILL get out of any future ones as well.

(3) Handling ambiguity. Finally, this is the hardest one for anyone in the throes of change. Humans by nature don’t like change; change is uncomfortable and hits our “safety” brains. However, when things start to get rough, we sometimes focus our energy where it does the least amount of good. Here’s a strategy that can help:

1. Think about a 3-ring bullseye. Now think of a current issue of significance to you in which you don’t know the final decision or outcomes.

2. After thinking about this issue, make a list of your biggest concerns.

3. Review your list. Plot each concern on that 3-ring bullseye. If it’s something in your control it goes in the dead center. Can’t control it but you can influence its outcome, next layer out. Finally, if it’s something where you have no control nor influence, that goes in the outer ring.

4. Take a step back and consider where your energy is being focused.

5. Make a plan to take action on the concerns you can control or at least influence.

Look, I know an article with some “these are good tips” may not be enough to alleviate the frustration we’re all facing at this time but the best advice is to take one step at a time, one effort or action that we know will make an impact — even if just a little. The great thing about this fight is you are NOT alone: there are heaps of us trying to make a difference and we have a lot of allies who are trying, too. Stay positive, remember your value and focus your energy on that inner bullseye that we can indeed control, and allow yourself time to rest in between the fight. We’ll all need it.

HAVE A QUESTION FOR “THE GAY LEADERSHIP DUDE”? Submit @ Please note the advice shared is for informational use only; it is not intended to replace or substitute any mental, financial, medical, legal or other professional advice. Full disclosure can be found at the website listed above.

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