May 27, 2024

Do You Know Your Core Values? with Andrea Johnson

Do you know your core values? If not, what's the big deal about it? They help us make decisions and be authentically ourselves.

Unlock the guiding compass within you as I sit down with the Intentional Optimist and transformational leadership coach Andrea Johnson, to unearth the transformative power of core values. 

Are your decisions an authentic reflection of who you are?
This episode will equip you with the insights necessary to align your life's choices with your deepest principles, fostering a truer sense of identity and direction.

We talk about, 

  • what core values are
  • the difference between core values and behaviour
  • why a lot of people don't know what their core values are
  • how core values help us make (better) decisions and navigate life with more clarity
  • why she calls herself the intentional optimism
  • the difference between critical thinking and critisism and 
  • how to be a good leader

As we wrap up, Andrea shares her wisdom on striking a balance between optimism and critical thinking—a skill paramount to navigating life's challenges with grace. Learn how self-trust can transform chaos into peace, both within and in the world around you. 

AI generated Transcript    >>> click to open

Conny Graf: 
Welcome to my podcast from Chaos to Peace with Conny. I am Conny Graf and your host, and I will explore with you how a few minutes a day can keep the chaos away. And with chaos we're talking about the physical, digital, social, financial, mental, emotional and spiritual clutter that can accumulate in our life and business. In every episode, I want to make you aware how clutter is so much more than you think, how it affects your finances and how clearing your clutter leads to more time, more money and more peace. Let's go. Well, hello, my friend. Welcome to the podcast. I am Conny Graf, your host. Thank you so much for allowing me back into your ears.

Conny Graf: 
So today I'm very excited to welcome Andrea Johnson as a guest. Andrea is a transformational leadership coach for high achieving female founders, community leaders and executives, and she's here to talk with us about the relevance of core values, and in this conversation we talk about what core values really are, how core values help us make decisions, the difference between core values and behavior, why a lot of people don't know what their core values are, why she calls herself the intentional optimist and what that has to do with core values, and the difference between critical thinking and criticism, and how to be a good leader. I really enjoyed my conversation with Andrea. This is a fun and fast-paced conversation and it's also light and funny, and I really hope you enjoy it too. And if you do, please send fan mail text messages to me so I know whether you liked it or not. Any feedback is welcome. Really, I really just want to get some fan mail, Okay, so without further ado, let's jump into this conversation with Andrea Johnson.

Conny Graf: 
Welcome, Andrea. I'm so excited to have you as a guest on my podcast. I was looking so forward to this conversation. How are you today?

Andrea Johnson: 
I am good, Conny, and I too was looking forward to this, so I know that it's going to be a wonderful conversation.

Conny Graf: 
Yeah, it can be nothing, but so I have an international audience. So please tell us where are you located, where do you live, and also tell us one thing that about you, maybe something quirky or something surprising that has nothing to do with what we're talking about afterwards.

Andrea Johnson: 
OK, well, I am currently located in Charlottesville, virginia, which is where the University of Virginia is, in Charlottesville, virginia, which is where the University of Virginia is. So it's, if you're not familiar with the state of Virginia, I'm just about 90 miles south of Washington DC and I can see the Blue Ridge Mountain range from driving in on my road, so it's very pretty here. We're right at the foothills of the mountains, and something that people might not I mean I do. I don't make a big secret about it, but I grew up internationally.

I grew up in Seoul, korea, and right now I one of my favorite things to do is watch K dramas. So right now I have a free account with Duolingo. I am brushing up on my Korean, so every time yeah, my son has been using it for Spanish and so as I walk around the house doing my little lessons, he can hear the ding ding. No lingo, you know. So I'm back into learning and I love to learn. So I'm back into learning Korean, which is not a language that a lot of people know how to speak.

Conny Graf: 
Yeah, I just want to say it might not be the easiest either, right, it is not.

Andrea Johnson: 
No, and what's so funny is I'm, you know, when I see the words written out. When I went there, my parents were missionaries. I grew up there and when I went there in third grade it was the last year in elementary school, in my international school, that they had us learn the Korean language. So at the age of eight I learned the alphabet, I learned the sounds and then, of course, I was in the environment, so I heard it spoken around me all the time and I could tell you a lot of vocabulary. I can tell you what certain words mean, but I don't always know how to spell them out, and so it's been fascinating for me to actually see.

Oh well, in the English language we have regular letters and then we have combination letters like T-H or S-H. You know to make different sounds. And now I'm seeing them and going, oh, that's how you spell that word, I have no idea. And so they'll say what do you hear Say this, and then I'm like oh, that's dog or oh, that's bread, and it's like connections are being made. And it is. I think it's technically the second hardest language for English speaking people to learn. So my parents went to school at university for two years straight, Nothing but language. They went to language school so that they could learn to speak the language.

Conny Graf: 
Yeah, but I think it's best always to engulf yourself if you can't live there, right. But what you're doing too is like with the Duolingo app. So when I learned English so English is not my first language, but we hear it when I learned English, so the school English didn't really help me that much, so I was surprised, like we, it was all about grammar and they're beating the grammar into us and you had to spell properly and everything. But then when I ended up in London, I couldn't even talk with anybody really because not just because I felt self-conscious or anything, but just because we didn't learn how to communicate back then. Right, many years ago, go and look every word up in the dictionary, like back then we didn't have internet, but not look every, not look every word up, but just forcing myself to continue reading to maybe see whether I can get the just of what was said, and then also watching soap operas or something like lightweight on on tv to, so that even if I didn't get what they were saying, it wasn't so bad right.

So you and I, we have that in common we both love to learn, right? Yes, yeah, and so that's actually a good starting point in our conversation. Is learning one of your core values because we want to talk about core values and how they can help us and help us in life and business, as a leader, as an entrepreneur, but also as a private person, right? So is learning one of your core values I don't know that learning is one.

Andrea Johnson: 
It's not one I've ever. It's one that I've said would be maybe a secondary or maybe even a principal, a lifelong learner. Like I want to be a learner. But I will say my top core value is freedom of thought, which means I am constantly curious and I'm constantly breaking things down. So I'm a natural learner, which means I don't even have to hardly, you know, sometimes I need to be intentional about pursuing it. But I think that learning can be a core value quite easily, but I don't know that it's mine, I think.

Andrea Johnson: 
I don't know, maybe it is. I just need to read, I just need to revisit it again I have to take a note

Conny Graf: 
You're literally like me is like wait a second. Yeah, that's good. Yeah, I want to talk about the relevance of core values. Let's maybe start. When did you discover that core values play a big role in our life or are really relevant or were more relevant for you? Or when did you discover that? Back in Korea already, maybe, yeah.

Andrea Johnson: 
Well, back in grad school, you know, I mean I was raised in a Christian environment, a religious environment, so there were certain things that we were, that we valued, and we would say these are our values as a people or as a congregation. And I would just say there's a principles, or maybe even guidelines or rules or things that were important. But it wasn't until I was in grad school which happened to be seminary where I met my husband. I was doing, I was using the Franklin Planner System, which is a really like day timer on steroids, a plan like a daily planner, and it had to do with. It included reflection, it included goal making, it included all of those.

And then when Steve Covey bought it out so he's the seven habits of highly effective people when he bought them out, I read his book and then I came up with an exercise at the end that have you do your governing values? And I still have mine. This was almost 30 years ago and it's laminated with packing tape and I call them my governing values, which today I would call these more principle, more like a principle thing. But it was the first time that somebody had said you, andrea, get to, you, get to say who you are and how you're going to show up in the world. And that was the beginning. But it wasn't until I was getting my coaching certification that someone that I was introduced to this idea of core values as something rather than outside of myself, it's inside myself that.

Andrea Johnson: 
I'm wired with natural to me, that are my non-negotiables. And it wasn't until about five or six years ago that I just got really intimate with my own and trying to figure out my own. And the more I did it and the more I looked at how I could help my clients do the same thing, I realized this was I like to. Now I call myself the core values lady because I realized that every single relationship I've ever had, every decision I've made, every fight, every hurt, every tear of joy, every good relationship, every bad relationship has all in some way been because of or in relationship to my core values. And when we look at how we dishonor them or how we honor them, then we can see where we're going wrong in life and how we're like getting off the path. Some people talk about being in alignment with core values and I like to talk about honoring them because I don't want to be in a line with anything outside of me unless I've decided to go in that direction and I decide based on my core values.

Conny Graf: 
That's an interesting distinction, because I kind of like the word alignment but I like what you're saying, that this is outside of you I would have. It's really interesting, like because I would say I want to be in alignment with my core values and I wouldn't see it on the outside of myself. But so, yeah, that's very interesting conversation.

Andrea Johnson: 
So let me respond to that. The way you're saying it is, I would agree with right. Okay, I want to bring my outside world into alignment with who I am. I want to make sure that my environment is in aligned with my core values yeah, right. But most of the time we talk about aligning ourselves with something like, yes, yeah, something outside of us, and so when I say core values are inside, they're not outside. They're not things like my friends or my family or my job or or even my position in the community. Those are not my core values.

And we talk a lot about character or mission and vision, and I just want to make that distinction because even things like leading like people will say, well, I have a core value of integrity, but that's really just the behavior you're looking for A core value of integrity is going to look a little different than your desire to live with integrity. That's a different thing, so they feel similar. But when you talk about the behavior, your core values influence your behavior your behavior is a different thing and so kind of separating those for us helping us see that core values really are those foundational convictions, they are the inner priorities that help us have our identity and our authority intact, no matter what we go through, so that other things can align with us, which sounds very self-centered and that's very hard for Westerners to talk about. But rather than saying I'm going to align myself with something out there, yeah, yeah, no, I like that distinction.

Conny Graf: 
I never thought of it that way. So because integrity, I would have said too, that's one of my values. I don't know whether it's the core value, because mine is also freedom, freedom of speech and freedom of living my way kind of like my lifestyle and I find it interesting that you say there is a difference between our core value and then how we act out in the world. That's very interesting conversation. I could just talk about this for an hour but it might be a little bit going too far down a rabbit hole.

Andrea Johnson: 
I just did a podcast episode that came out the day we're recording this. It's the difference between our core values and our principles right If we instead of calling them both values, if we call them our life principles, then it's easier to see. I call those like your core value is your map I mean, excuse me, your core values is your compass and your life principles are the vehicle that get you where you want to get you there, right.

So you can have integrity as a core value and integrity as a principle. Yeah, but they look a little bit different, yeah.

Conny Graf: 
And so what you think why so many people don't have core values for themselves? Like why they, like you said, they just align with whatever their society goes by and never think about what. Is that actually how I want to like? Is that actually one of my core values? Or is that actually how I want to act? Like? Why do you think that is?

Andrea Johnson: 
Well, for me it was because I wanted to fit in. Yeah, I wanted to belong, which turns out to be one of my core values. And so, in trying to honor one of my core values, I dishonored so many others. But I just yes, I, I just wanted, I wanted to be part of the group. I wanted and I grew up overseas in this expatriate community that included.

So we actually called, we left our families behind, our nuclear families behind in the States, and so as missionaries we had a large group of missionaries that we called aunts and uncles, like we called them our extended family. We didn't call the kids cousins, but we did call them aunts and uncles. And this last week we lost one of my uncles who was a missionary and he had brain cancer, and so it wasn't completely unexpected, but I shared sitting in the living room with my family I said, oh, we lost Uncle Gary this week and my son goes who's Uncle Gary? I mean, he was like really upset, because he was like, wait a minute, I don't know this uncle and and what it was is I. It's helped me even more reflect to say I had belonging in a way that was unique. There was a giant community. It didn't matter if they were Presbyterian or Lutheran or Catholic or or Baptist or Methodist. They were all aunts and uncles, and so there was this sense of belonging and community that was very different than I'm ever going to have in the United States.

I'm just never going to have that right. It's just a completely different thing. And so, coming back, I looked for ways. When I came back to college, I looked for ways to belong. So I got very involved in my church, I got involved in politics, I got involved in a sorority I mean you name it and I just couldn't find it because I was trying to create belonging outside of myself, when the reality is, if I knew who I was, I could have belonged to me and then found ways that I could. You know that others could align with that belonging in me and I probably would have had truer friends.

There's very few people I keep in touch with from college. You know I probably would have had truer friends. There's very few people I keep in touch with from college. I probably could have had better experiences. I wouldn't have had some health issues that I had. So I think that's one reason we want to belong. But another reason is we're not taught to think for ourselves, we're not taught critical thinking skills, we're taught to regurgitate information and we're taught to follow the rules and fit in Right, and I totally identify with you. It's like I want to live my life my way. Yep, I'm going to live my life my way. Not everybody wants that. Some people just are like could you tell me what to do? Yeah, and yeah, there is a way in which that's not always terrible, but if it goes, dishonors a core value that you have because there are followers. Right, there are leaders and followers.

Conny Graf: 
Yeah, I think that's a lot Like you said yeah.

Andrea Johnson: 
So just knowing who you are and then honoring that is the best way to do it.

Conny Graf: 
Yes, yeah, I agree with you. We're, we're. We're not growing up being told that we can have our own values, especially as children. I was told be quiet, be pretty, be whatever and don't be yourself, basically. And when you have core values, you're for sure living more authentically. And that doesn't mean you don't fit in right. You just may not.

Andrea Johnson: 
You might stand out yeah, you might scary, but here's the thing? When you are more authentic, you're so attractive to everybody else? Yeah, you're so. When, when you are you and you truly live as you, you're much more attractive to the people that need to be in your life. If it's your clients or your customers or a romantic partner, it's you're much more attractive.

I mean, I had my, my mom, my sister met their spouse, literally met their spouses in 10th grade, so they met him at like 15 and then got married at like 19 and 20. Yeah Well, at 26, I still wasn't, hadn't even met anybody, and my mother was saying, you know, if you go on it while I was going on a date, she said just keep your mouth shut. Like you said, sit there and look pretty. You know, I'm like he's gonna find out who I am eventually. Right, it's like I need him to know now. And it turns out the man that I've been married to 29 years this next monday loved me for who I am.

Not the persona that I put out there, and so it just is so much more you're going to attract to you what you want when you can be yourself.

Conny Graf: 
Yeah, but I think too, it's like when we're young, it's sometimes hard to know who we are, even if we would have an encouraging environment that tells us we can have our own core values and everything, and we're still, like you said, wanted to belong. I wanted to belong too when I was younger. In the beginning I was bullied in school, so then I even more wanted to belong, right, and you're starting to twist yourself like a pretzel somehow and then eventually you learn that this is actually not working and so we need to change. So that's also sometimes when you're just like becoming older that you're realizing it, that it doesn't work that way. 

I saw on your website you're talking about that. Core values help us to make confident decisions. They help us have gracious boundaries around us right, authentic relationships and magnetic leadership. So I want to go to the decisions first, real quick, because I often say that when we have clutter in our life and I mean with clutter like not just the physical and digital clutter, but I also talk about social clutter, for example like when we don't have boundaries, when we do everything for everybody else and forget about us, blah, blah, blah. So I always say like having clutter, no matter what clutter is not making a decision, or unmade decisions. So let's talk a little bit how, when we have values, how, when we have values, how we can make better or more confident decisions.

Andrea Johnson: 
Yeah. So, to be clear, I want to make sure that everybody hears that we all have core values. It's just we may not know what they are and some people are really good at making decisions that honor them and some people don't even, because we don't know what they are. A lot of times we do whatever we think we're supposed to do and every once in a while we might hit something and actually make a decision that's based on a core value and it just feels so wonderful and it's the most beautiful decision and it's easy and it's clear. And then the next time it's like well, what went wrong here? But it was just we happened to hit on it the right way. But when we know what our core values are, we the right way.

But when we know what our core values are, we can use them either as like a filter to help kind of filter things through, to say, will this decision honor these top core values, the top three or the top 10? You know, it's like, even if you're looking at taking a job and moving across the country, what is it in your core values is this job going to honor? Are you going to be able to honor these things? And if, in your top three, nothing's going to be honored in there, I would really ask you to consider whether or not that's a good job for you. When we talk, I mean that's a big decision, right.

Conny Graf: 
Yeah, or who says you should take that job right, like oftentimes, the outside world is oh, this is an awesome job, you should really go for it. That's prestige or whatever, and that is not actually what you're looking for.

Andrea Johnson: 
And we can do pros and cons, but that's still. Maybe that helps us, Maybe it doesn't, but the reality is, if I'm looking for a place where I can have freedom of thought and where I can be authentically myself which means I get to talk a lot and I get to give my opinion and I am looking for belonging, where I can actually feel like I belong and create a welcoming space for others, then I'm not going to be happy in a job or a situation even if it's in community leadership where I have to toe the line or enforce someone else's rules.

Conny Graf: 
That's hard for me, right.

Andrea Johnson: 
It's like that's why I mean I did 25 years in higher education and I'm surprised I lasted that long. I look back at some of my interactions I'm like how did I not get fired from that, you know? But and I think part of it's just you know, we have charisma sometimes, but when we make those decisions based on our things rather than someone else's, it just is so much more confident building. And you know, when you've made a good decision right, I mean I tell people that I want to help you move from imitating other people's principles and priorities to defining your own, which then gives you this authority to make these decisions with confidence. So a filter is one way. Another way to look at it is my son liked to bowl, so we would put the gutter guards in so they would have good rails. You know, it's like keep you in your lane. So core values can do that for you too, depending on what they are and what kind of decisions you're making.

Conny Graf: 
Yeah, I would say it helps declutter the mind, right, because it, like you said, it's kind of like a filter it right away, like we have so many choices these days and so much that we could do and so much information that we could look at, and if we actually do have these core values, we can dismiss. Let's say dismiss or just let go a lot of it because it's not going to work, because it's not aligned.

Andrea Johnson: 
I have a friend who loves shopping at Whole Foods and I said what is it that you love about Whole Foods? And she said they've already narrowed down the best choices for me, right.

It's like when you have your core values you know you've narrowed down the best choices for you, because if something is going to dishonor a core value, it's an automatic no.Conny Graf: Yeah, yeah, yeah. And so I want to pivot a little bit, but I think it still ties into for me at least, it still ties into the core values. You call yourself the intentional optimist and I talk a lot on my podcast and I also practice it. Intentionality, I really am like big, instead of just going with the flow in automation mode or whatever being more intentional. But I want to hear what you mean with intentional optimism, or you being an intentional optimist, and how that fits in with your core value. I mean, I could see it, but I don't want to put words in your mouth.

Well, it all started when I lost my mother seven years ago to breast cancer and I decided I needed to. I was 50 and I had an eight-year-old adopted son and I really wasn't where I wanted to be as far as my career was concerned and I wanted to look at how I was going to live out the next 50 years, to see how I wanted to get to the end and be able, if I, if for some reason, I was taken quickly, I don't want to have any regrets and so I looked at what are the things that are important to me, and this is what I would say are my principles. And, Conny, you know we do this in home, decluttering. We start from the outside and work in a lot of times because it's easier to see right, it's easier to see the things that are outside. So for me, being an intentional optimist, my mother was a very, very bubbly person and everybody loved her. Somebody asked me where's the biggest crowd you've ever spoken in front of, and I said I think it was at my mother's that I'm not super bubbly all the time.

I have a very hard line to me sometimes and I can be very straightforward, but I know there are things that I wanted to do differently, and I like being optimistic. I have to tell myself to be optimistic, which is where part of the intentionality comes from, because I also am very good at seeing the realistic side of things. I can tell you all the ways that that's going to go wrong. If it's an idea, or if I can tell but it's, I do it in a way that helps you avoid the pitfalls. Right, it's?

Conny Graf: 
So I see we're twins, Andrea.

Andrea Johnson: 
Yes, so I'm an Enneagram six, if that makes any sense to any of y'all, but I am the one who can see all the potholes coming up and I can help you maneuver around them. And some people see that as worst case scenario thinking. I see it as avoiding the bad stuff. I'm avoiding it. I got that pushback.

Conny Graf: 
I got and get that pushback a lot. I can see the big picture when somebody tells me something. I can see all the pitfalls and I was accused of being negative and I'm like on, on the contrary, I'm very positive. We're just gonna go around all this stuff, aren't you happy that I've already kind of can see what all could go wrong and we can from the get-go maybe try to avoid like we never can avoid all, all the pitfalls, but we can maybe the ones that Conny sees or Andrea sees already beforehand, right, yeah, yes, well, but that's part of it is being prepared.

Andrea Johnson: 
Right, it's like I'd like to be prepared, but I decided what I really wanted to pursue was more of taking that positive spin on being able to see all the pitfalls and calling that optimism and saying I have hopeful confidence that I can be proactive and that I can do things.Andrea Johnson: And then, of course, within there I've got like six whole tenants. But the final one is being intentional, which is a sense of purpose. I I'm not a wanderer, Conny, I have. I mean, I have a friend who is an artist and she can just wander and she has a coach that she works with. They call it Cotty Wumpling, and it's just wonderful and literally the idea makes me break out in a cold sweat.

I just I cannot do it. I need a purpose. I can't just sit and watch television hours on end. I can do it for a little while to just release my brain, but I need to learn something from it. I need to. There's gotta be something in there. So, maybe learning. I need to again, I need to put learning on my list. Yeah, I think so. But I have a sense of purpose. When I walk down a hall, I'm walking to someplace. I'm not just walking. If I'm just wandering, then I need to be out on a beach, right, it's like wandering is for beaches or mountain views or something. It's relaxing. So when I say I'm intentional about it, I help myself see the positive side of things so that I can do better, so that I can make a difference and so that I can enjoy the sense of wonder and see all of those things in a way that I don't know helps me plan for them, mm-hmm.

Conny Graf: 
So we're very similar, but I actually can wander and I intentionally wander, so maybe you want to try that out too. That's really awesome because you can.

Andrea Johnson: 
Yeah, I should just come up there and hang out with you for a little while, and intentionally.

Conny Graf: 
Yes, we have beautiful mountains here. We have the ocean here too. Oh yeah, Come and wander with me, because it can be very intentional to just wander.

Andrea Johnson: 
So yeah, I went out with this friend last. Friday and we wandered for about four hours so, but we talked, you know, so there was a purpose to it it's totally fine, I don't.

Conny Graf: 
I don't take your purpose away, you also. You don't only have a purpose, you also have a mission. I read on your website you have a mission to equip and empower female leaders to think critically, create imaginatively and lead effectively in any situation, team or organization. So what is? That's a beautiful mission, by the way, thank you. But so where do you start there? Like so, I'm a big believer in small steps, right? That's why I also say a few minutes a day keeps the chaos away.

So what is one thing, what is one little thing that we can start working towards becoming more empowered leaders, more critical too? I don't have to learn that, but a lot of people may have to learn that. Right, I'm also being accused of being very critical, but I just love to question things, and that doesn't mean I don't agree with them. I just love to question them because maybe they're outdated, maybe they're mental clutter, maybe they need to go. So where can we start? Where can somebody start that is not thinking like well, that's all nice and well, Andrea and Conny, what you're yakking here about intentions, but where do I even start?

Andrea Johnson: 
I like the way you stated it. I think, question everything. It's time to start questioning things. It's time to start questioning our roles, our relationships, and not in a bad way, right? Because a lot of times when we question something, we realize the value of it. We may not have understood the value of it beforehand. And by value there I don't mean like a core value, I mean the worth, how much it's worth to us. And I've been through.

When I say critical thinking, critical thinking, by definition, is not necessarily being what we think of as criticizing. It's breaking something down to its elements, taking a good look at it and then putting it back together, either the same or in a new way, and it's it's looking at the different elements of things. My son is finishing up his first art class it's like art one in high school and he's got a whole unit on art criticism. And he says, oh, I love being critical. And he's like this is not what I thought it would be, no.

And I said but what is it? And he said, well, it's determining what kind of art it is. What does it look like? What is it? So when I talk about critical thinking, I'm like taking the stuff in and questioning it. Do I just automatically put this thought or this idea or somebody else's opinion on a shelf and let it take up residence? Do I put it on my fireplace mantle as a decoration? Or do I look at it and say this doesn't actually go with my decor. Right, this goes with your declutter ideas right yeah.

Yeah, this doesn't match my decor. Why would I keep it? Yes, I mean when, when we lost my mom and my dad moved into an apartment, there were a lot of things from a big house to an apartment that he needed to not keep.

Conny Graf: 
Yes, and could not keep because you cannot put everything you have in a big house in a small apartment. It's simply not possible.

Andrea Johnson: 
And he's still what I call divesting some things. He's realizing that he tried to keep too much. And my sister and I neither one of us are super sentimental and we both have learned a lot about letting things go and not taking in new things. In that area, she and I are pretty good at it. But my dad got to the place where he would say you need to want this. And people do that to us all the time. Conny, you need to want to agree with me. You need to want to have this political idea. You need to want to work this job. You need to want to have this political idea. You need to want to work this job. You need to want to be my best friend.

And it's then our boundaries get overrun all the time and it's a joke with us. Like my dad knows it's a joke. I don't know that he would listen to this anybody, but y'all listen. My dad knows it's a joke and he says it with a twinkle in his eye and. But he's even put it in his will, okay, and but he's even put it in his will, okay, and as a final joke, he's even put it in his will. My sister says did you read the last page, I'm like, no, not gonna, you know, and so it's just.

But people do that to us all the time, and if we're not able to say I don't need to want that yeah, then we don't have the ability to think critically. And because when we don't, when we don't have all that clutter, Conny, that's when you get to be creative. Exactly that's where you have the space to actually wander, or let these imagine, let your imagination run wild, come up with a new solution to a problem, recognizing that creativity is a problem solvingsolving tool and using it in ways that people never would have expected, trusting ourselves that our ideas are good and trusting that we can come up with really good stuff, because that makes us the better leaders, right? So that's where that kind of comes from, and I say the very first place to start is to get curious and question yeah.

Conny Graf: 
Yeah, I love the sentence who says Because, like, sometimes we literally just do. We don't even notice that we just do. And I just have to laugh when you talked about like our homes or like your dad having to move into an apartment.

So when we moved into this house this is a very small house and I don't mind it but then first, like we, when we looked at it, it's like, okay, here's the master bedroom. These are the other secondary bedrooms. I've figured out where should my office be. And I'm like, oh, it's a really dungy room back here. I don't really want to work here. And then I'm like, who says I have to work in one of the secondary rooms? Maybe I can just take the master bedroom. And it makes actually sense because, when you're thinking about it, so I'm now in the so-called master bedroom, which is, for over 10 years, my office. It faces south, it faces the road, it faces the life, it's nice and bright, which we don't need when we want to go to sleep.

No, we need that when we want to be working and inspired. And the bedroom is now in this more darker room because it's facing north, but it's also facing the forest, it's the quiet place, right, so it makes so much sense. Just because whoever built this house decided this is the master bedroom and this is the other move doesn't need like. Who says so? I love asking. Who says this is my critical thinking. That's great, yes, and the and the answer can be oh, I say because I agree with it, and then I do whatever. Who said you know, yeah, and sometimes I'm like no, that's where my core value of freedom comes in, where I say no, I don't need to do what everybody else says and I'm not hurting anybody right by using the master bedroom.

Andrea Johnson: 
This is not that conversation. Yeah, exactly yeah, and we did that in Baltimore. The master bedroom was at the front on the road with a big streetlight, and so we took the guest bedroom back in the back. Yeah, and it faced the yard and the same thing, right, exactly.

Conny Graf: 
And just because some person decided that this is now the master bedroom without thinking that maybe, if it's facing the road and is the most sunshine in the day, is the next to the living room, the most beautiful room in the whole house, and we're just putting the bed there and never see it. I mean, yeah, yeah.

Andrea Johnson: 
Yeah, exactly, I love that example. That's perfect yeah.

Conny Graf: 
So where can people find you, andrea, when they want to like? They're intrigued. They love how beautiful you look, they love what you're intrigued, they love how you how you beautiful you look, they love what you're saying, they love your critical thinking, they love your values. Where could they find you? What are you offering and what can they expect when they connect with you? 

Andrea Johnson: 
Sure, I am the Intentional Optimist, as we've talked about, so you can find me at theintentionaloptimistcom. If you want to correspond with me quickly, you can find me at the intentional optimistcom. If you want to correspond with me quickly, you can DM me on either LinkedIn or Instagram and let me know that you heard me on Conny's podcast here chaos to peace and let me know that that that's where you heard me and that you wanted to reach out, because then I'll know you're not spam and I will respond. That's where I'm most active.

Yes, on my website you can actually take the core values course if you want. It's a simple six module course that will walk you through the exercise that I walk other people through. There's disc assessments available there online. But if you want to work with me individually, I have a coaching program that I'm doing now that is kind of in its alpha testing to figure out the platform for it, where I work with the people walking through the core values course. So you finish a module and you do your homework and then we meet and we walk through it and push back a little bit more and dive a little bit deeper, which is really fun. So if that's the case, just reach out to me and I'll just send you the link for that.

But I also have just opened up and I don't know when this will air, but about every other month I open up free masterminds where we walk through a leadership book and you can talk with other women Right now it's all women where you can talk with other women and learn at the same time. And I'm opening up a membership group where we can do that on a regular basis so we can meet like once or twice a month and walk through books and kind of have a little bit of accountability. So there's a lot of options. That's all individual work. If you are, if you own a business or you're on a team in an organization, I can come in and do all of the same type of work with your team and I love doing that with teams because it changes the whole culture of the organization.

Conny Graf: 
Yeah, I could imagine that would be awesome for teams. I could just see that. Yeah, yeah, I will put the links in the show notes, andrea, so that they can. Just for you, listener, you can just go click in the show notes for andrea's um information so you can dm her and connect with her.

She's an awesome lady as you just said so you want to, you want to connect with her. So, before we wrap up, do you have any last words, or maybe something that we didn't touch, that you were thinking or that you are right now intrinsically feeling, needs to be said, still to wrap this or make a bow on this beautiful conversation.

Andrea Johnson: 
Just wrap it all up in a bow, a pretty little bow, exactly. Well, Conny, we've kind of touched on it a lot, but I think, at the foundation of all of this, being able to do critical thinking, being able to ask why, being able to say who says all of those things they have to do with trusting yourself, and I would just invite you to trust yourself to make good decisions, trust yourself to, to, to to be worth what you look for and to find that you're going to find some really good things and that you are going to make a real difference in your immediate circle. And then, as it as you grow in yourself, circles that are beyond your comprehension, when you start doing the things like this for yourself, because you, you've got what it takes.

Conny Graf: 
beautiful words and what came to my is and that will bring a lot of peace to everybody. It's like, as you know, it's called from chaos to peace, and when we can do that, what Andrea just said, there will be a lot of peace in you. Yeah, no matter what happens around us, right? So? Thank you so much, Andrea, for sharing your wisdom, your experience and your knowledge with us. Thank you so much.

Andrea Johnson
Thank you, it is my privilege.

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Andrea Johnson

empowers executives and founders to lead with authenticity, conviction and confidence so they can make a positive impact on their lives, organizations and communities. As an adoptive parent, who grew up internationally, navigating mental and physical wellness, she learned that emotional resilience must be earned. The process of uncovering and understanding the significance of her Core Values became the key to the process that allows her clients to do the same.

Her personal journey of deconstructing her own assumptions, beliefs and conditioning produced her signature tool, Intentional Optimism.  It provides the framework for how we do what we do. It’s the attitudes and mindsets we employ and embody to live out our own values, goals and dreams with excellence.

Andrea a certified Maxwell Leadership Speaker, Trainer, Coach, and DISC Behavioral Analysis Consultant.

Here's the link for the information on the free Mastermind Groups Andrea is offering in June 2024: 


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