“Inspire and get inspired”:
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Today we talk about radical changes: redesigning one’s life with one’s values as cornerstones.
Three questions to Giuseppina Polino, PhD, ex-researcher and neo-coach.
In this article, Giusy tells us about her journey of awareness in stepping out of limiting beliefs and the “leap” to break free from the trap of performing at all costs.
She tells us:
…And I recognised myself less and less in the shoes of those who stay in the comfort zone by accepting compromises.
It is her personal journey towards reconnecting with her values to make them cornerstones on which to anchor her future.
Inspire and get inspired
Welcome Giusy and thank you for accepting my invitation to participate to “Inspire and get Inspired”.
We met during our PhD at the “Center for Hybrid and Organic Solar Energy” in Rome.
You have more than 10 years of research and development experience in the field of organic electronics: from photovoltaic devices for energy and biomedical applications, to storage systems based on biodegradable and biocompatible materials, and two years working in the field of neuroscience research. You have been a speaker at international conferences and author of several scientific papers in leading journals in the field.
2021 was a year of profound change for you.
You decided not to have your contract renewed.
You felt the need to highlight what for you were the cornerstones on which you wanted to base your future.
You took your leap.
You changed cities.
You started working in an energy cooperative.
You started being a mentor for a B-CorpSchool to guide high school kids in creating a sustainable business.
You have also ‘put yourself back to school’ and enrolled in a school to become a Professional Coach, and in the same field, you have decided to become part of a national project for the defence and transversal promotion of talent, designed for schools, organisations, companies but which you would also like to bring into a university and research context.
It seems to me that, at this point, you are familiar with change!
…and that is why I am asking you these questions:
HOW DID YOU COME TO MAKE SUCH REVOLUTIONARY CHANGE DECISIONS IN YOUR LIFE?
I answer you by saying that it was not a decision taken on the spur of the moment.
Initially, it was not at all easy to decode the ‘alarm’ signals.
I have always loved being a researcher, because I could put my curiosity and creativity into play by asking questions and trying to find answers, which often came AFTER MANY TRIES, ERRORS AND FAILURES.
Words that frighten our society so much, but which actually teach us to persevere and understand that answers can often be found where we least expect them, and that often what we call error or failure can lead to new paths and discoveries.
I no longer identified myself within the system that makes one fall into the trap of performing at all costs, of competing and producing more and more in ever shorter timeframes, meeting ever more stringent deadlines, and that I somehow felt depersonalised the very essence of research.
I began to feel a sense of unease and frustration.
I no longer recognised myself in this system that completely casts aside the ‘human being’ and forces one to accept a hierarchical system based on the homo homini lupus approach.
I often wondered about these feelings.
About how hard it had become to passively accept this system.
A sense of anger mixed with disappointment grew within me.
I felt a bit like the hamster in the wheel!
WHAT WAS IMPORTANT FOR YOU TO MAKE THE “JUMP”?
The year 2020 has forced us to come to terms with ourselves, to change our habits.
It has highlighted that when a system enters a crisis, it would be desirable to activate a change in strategies, behaviour, organisation.
Instead what often happens is to implement attempts to solve problems using the same ideas that created them.
I embarked on a journey of reconnection with that part of me that was trying to free itself from certain limiting beliefs.
I reflected deeply on those chains that had, for years, kept me bound to the conviction that in order to achieve a goal and realise a project one had to go through constant renounces, suffering and sacrifices.
This was the message that was hammering at me from my surroundings.
And I recognised myself less and less in the shoes of those who stay in the comfort zone by accepting compromises.
For me, 2021 was the year of awareness.
I had just finished writing a project I cared a lot about and had started to inform myself about the procedures for obtaining funding from the European community. I was more convinced than ever that this would put to rest those feelings I kept having.
This was not the case.
The deeper I got into the system, the more I realised that something had to be changed.
I debated with colleagues, students and friends.
I also listened to completely different points of view from my own and this helped me realise how important it was to change.
Often teachers and leaders do not teach us the fundamental thing: to have confidence in ourselves and our own potential.
I thus realised that I had to emphasise what were the values that were important to me:
looking to the future in an evolutive way.
I wanted this to be done with respect for some fundamental cornerstones:
- valorisation of ideas and talents
I wanted these words not just to be used as mirrors for larks but to be the keywords to create a different “ecosystem”.
And that is how I decided to get back into the game.
I decided to put my core values first.
I went back to study to become a coach.
Also fundamental was the coaching course we did together with “Steps to the Self“.
It accompanied me in the transition when I was in the middle of the “leap” towards this new cycle.
It helped me to approach it in a conscious manner.
IMAGINE MEETING YOU IN 2020 WHEN EVERYTHING WAS STILL IN THE CLOUD OF UNCLEARNESS: WHAT THREE PEARLS WOULD YOU GIVE HER?
To the fearful me of 2020 I would like to tell that she has often been forced to identify herself only with the label that each of us receives in our lives when we undertake a course of study or a job (for me that of ‘electronic engineer’).
I would like to tell her that this is precisely why she has silenced her creativity and potential.
Nothing could be more wrong.
To be truly fulfilled, people must be enabled to express themselves and make their best contribution to society by choosing and having the courage to imagine a different world.
By listening to oneself.
By observing and integrating into one’s life the most important personal values, the cornerstones to follow.
And by trying to be that change that apparently is a tsunami in your life, but which becomes a gift for yourself, and can also become one for others.
And to conclude, I’ll tell you something:
at the peak of the “crisis”, when I was completely disoriented, I wrote down on a piece of paper those five key words, as well as a sort of map of “what I would like to do”.
I forgot I had written it down and it popped up just as I was closing the old cycle and starting a new one.
It struck me how those written and forgotten words then became my “future”.
In fact, I saw many things manifest that I did not expect and for which I am grateful.
Things that, although in different ways, maintain a common thread with what has been my “being a researcher”.
Giusy, how much inspiration do you offer!!!
“I wanted these words (sustainability, cooperation, support, ethics, valorisation of ideas and talents) not just to be used as lures but to be the keywords to create a different ‘ecosystem’.”
And it seems to me that you have embraced this “different ecosystem” and made it part of your current life.
Here is another central point of the Leader of the Self:
listening to and integrating into one’s life what are the most important personal values, the cornerstones to follow.
Just as you tell us.
And finally, I quote here a pearl you wrote that I have also seen very valid in my experience as a team leader:
“To be truly fulfilled, people must be enabled to express themselves and make their best contribution.”
Which can also be read like this:
when we support the people around us to express themselves and be fulfilled, we give them the impetus to make their best contribution.
That is, we trigger their “flourishing”.
And you reading… what inspiration do you draw?
More info on Giuseppina Polino
WHO I AM
I was born in 1980, and for 11 long years, after obtaining a PhD in Microelectronics and Telecommunications, I was a “wandering” researcher and worked in various research centres and universities and lived in different places both in Italy and abroad. I love to write, paint and research… and I continue to cultivate my passion for physics and quantum mechanics.
WHAT I DO
I am “redesigning” the world I would like to see: a more sustainable world, where ethics, cooperation and the valorisation of ideas and projects is the main step to support people in change and help them promote their potential.
WHAT INSPIRES ME
I am inspired by beauty expressed in all its forms: I always imagine the caterpillar that does not know it is a butterfly… or a small seed that if sown in the right soil can become a beautiful flower.