Being a Lighthouse in the Dark
I know what it’s like to feel lost in the dark. And I really know what it’s like to be disconnected from yourself and your purpose. This kind of disconnection happens slowly over time as we hunker down into protective behaviors, hustle for approval, and ultimately, abandon our true selves.
If you’re like me, you’ve likely looked towards outside things to fill this gap of disconnection. And if you are like me you have had some big stressors thrown at you which makes you wonder “why in the world does God think I am a badass?” And yet, you discover that you are a badass and surrounded by a divine Grace.
My hot-mess, broken-wide open journey includes: being grateful for a parenting journey that is part-joy-part-hazard-pay, healing from breast cancer, being a caretaker for my husband who passed from Alzheimers, and accepting my powerlessness in the face of addiction. I learned I could let these parts of my journey ruin me or change me.
And so, I chose to lean in, commit to chasing slow, and dig deeper into self-discovery so I can feel God and experience, firsthand, the invisible hands that are at work on me and in my life.
When we humans face our grief, accept our fear, surrender control, and do hard things, something transformative happens. We come to believe that grace sits at the table with us. And everything becomes clearer in many aspects of our lives.
It is through my awakening process I have become better able to effectively serve individuals, executives, and organizations around the globe as they awaken to connection, heal themselves, and courageously lead both at work and home.
Leading Differently, One Day at A Time
If you believe there is a different way to live and lead, then you have come to the right place. If you are overwhelmed and feeling numb or out-of-sync in your workplace or at home, you are not alone.
We are not having a leadership crisis. We are having a human being crisis and the most impactful leaders are those who lead from their own connected heart and soul.
If you know something has to change and you want to lead and live a life of wellbeing, then you must stop thinking you can MBA your way into better leadership or that there is a 5-step process for enhancing your relationships.
Connection is the solution. And the kind of connection I am talking about is the life-changing, courageous kind. The kind that upends the status quo and calls you into an adventure. The kind that begins with self-connection: a deep, abiding journey into yourself for it is there that you will encounter the keys to the life you want to live.
Today’s challenges are tough and they just keep coming. When you connect deeply with yourself, you’re able to find calm in any storm and navigate external situations with more ease and a whole lot more grace. And we need leaders at home and work who are grounded enough to remain centered as chaos swirls.
If you can choose connection over perfection and vote for transformation, not information, you will walk right into the Connection Era.
My Story: A Hero’s Journey
Hello there, I’m Karen. I am a lover of all things connection. Whether that means connecting with God in the stillness of the morning as I hug my coffee cup or connecting with my tribe around my table filled with laughter and yummy food, I believe we are meant to connect in emotional, relational and spiritual ways while we are in human school.
Our stories are powerful and through the open-hearted vulnerability of sharing our story, we find renewal, peace, trust, and collaboration with those around us. Wherever true, soul-warming, nourishing connection takes place, I want to be there.
I learned the power of holding my center when my life was turned upside down.
As a young girl with a mother who had a terminal disease, I spent over a decade doing everything I could to keep her loved, hopeful, healthy and alive. It did not work.
Instead, it planted the seed of saving people deep within me and I embarked on a martyrdom journey, superhero cape and all, looking for the next person I could fix.
The truth is, this need to save people was a distraction from a painful truth: I was hurting, grieving, feeling unworthy, and like a failure for not saving my mother.
Life continued to happen as I searched for outside solutions to an inside problem. From the outside things looked good. On the inside, I was struggling. While I lived in this place of disconnectedness, eventually the bottom dropped out from under me and I woke up exhausted, angry, and broken wide open.
While I was so busy wanting to save others, I lost me. My feelings of unworthiness and this sure-to-fail-rescue-obsession brought me face to face with abuse and addiction. With a shattering divorce behind me and my son and I looking to our next chapter, I was once again brought to my knees: this time by a breast cancer diagnosis.
Life was having its way with me.
Yet here is what I learned: grace shows up in the bottom of the ninth. So, one day at a time, I began an awakening process that involved connecting back to myself, deepening my connection with God, and connecting to my ride-or-die tribe.
I began on the path back to connection, which included heaping amounts of forgiveness. I forgave myself for not being able to save my mother, for trying to fix people who did not want to be fixed, and for not being able to heal all my stuff fast enough so I could prevent my son from having to carry some of my baggage.
And then, I kept doing God’s work and learned to let go.
To really let go, we must use our faith to leap in times of uncertainty. I took my leap of faith a number of years ago off a cliff in Montana that looked down into a glacier-cold river 30 feet high.
Because my son asked me to, and because God has a plan for me, I knew I had to do it. As I stood at the top of the cliff, every cell in me was crying with terror. (I grew up with a mom who believed riding our bikes in the driveway could be fatal so believe me… a dare-devil I am not.)
I knew this was one of those defining moments. And I was standing on the threshold of it. 30 feet up contemplating jumping into the river.
My son was watching how I would handle letting go with faith as fear continued to flow and uncertainty loomed: a sure requirement for the hero’s journey we are all invited to take.
And as the world became so quiet I could hear the tears fall on my cheeks, I said to my son, “I can’t let go.” And he said, “You can. You have to.”
And with that, the invisible hands swept me up and I was literally lifted off that cliff into a free fall of uncertainty.
My son yelled down to me, “It wasn’t pretty Mom but you did it!”
And so it is with life, with relationships, and with leadership. Letting go is never pretty, yet the aftermath sure is. The hero’s journey is filled with courage and stories, fears left behind, and freedom calling.
The thing is, we are all just in human school learning how to empower our true selves by accepting our imperfections, healing our wounds, leveraging our personal stories, and celebrating our collective experience. This is authenticity at its best.
When you show up authentically, you can nurture connection and discover more ways of bringing it into your life with yourself, a spiritual Grace, and with others.
What We Do At KJH, Inc.
At Karen J Hardwick, we teach a different approach to leadership because the truth is, the world doesn’t need more outdated leadership paradigms. The world needs connected leaders.
We need real, raw, authentic connection that harnesses the power of our stories and gives others the permission to be fully human. Because ultimately, that is what we are here to do: to help ourselves and those around us be the person they were designed to be.
I serve as your guide to help you create relationships at work (and at home) that enhance engagement and purpose and transform your culture into a place of wellbeing and abundance.
I started my company because I believe in the power of connection. And because I believe my unique background as a clinically and spiritually trained psychotherapist with corporate experience, would make a powerful impact in the world of leadership.
My work extends from the core of who I am. I use my Masters of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary and psychotherapist background to offer a unique approach that blends modern psychology, spirituality, and leadership principles.
For over twenty years, I’ve been guiding influential leaders to reclaim their true selves, connect to who they really are (flaws, gifts, mess, miracles and all!) so that they can become a catalyst for transforming their lives, the lives of others, and the cultures around them.
At Karen J Hardwick, we are committed to helping individuals, teams, & organizations around the globe navigate the outside pressures found at work and at home, enhance their performance, and elevate wellbeing by using the “seven strategies of connection” that I outline in my book, The Connected Leader: 7 Strategies to Empower Your True Self and Inspire Others.
We coach executives and their teams, facilitate powerful retreats, offer inspiring courses, and ultimately invite our clients to awaken, heal, and courageously lead and live.
The work we do is transformative because we understand the complex nuances of what it means to be human and a leader in life and work. Through participating in my own hero’s journey, I am able to use my approach, my training and my ever-healing-heart-and-soul to make a difference in this world.
If you’re ready to take the first step back to yourself, take the Connect 7 Assessment to see where you stand when it comes to your own connection to yourself, others, and the world around you.
We believe connection is the antidote to the collective challenges we are facing today. Join us. The time is now.