In her new book, Take Your Shoes Off First, Freeland shares principles to help individuals and corporate teams bridge divides between colleagues, cultivate inclusion and accelerate innovation in our dramatically different world.
“To change the world, we must first change ourselves. This means engaging in change, not just managing it. When we shift our perspective and challenge our beliefs, we make room for different and open the door to new possibilities.” – Freeland
Her book focuses on helping people let go of their certainty about how they see things while encouraging them to become more aware of how they unknowingly hold themselves back and be more open to new ideas. Readers follow an executive who embarks on a journey rooted in self-reflection, psychology, and cognitive science. He learns to embrace one simple idea that helps him understand what he could not see and discovers a better path forward through a challenging situation.
While this book can help anyone working through these issues, Freeland suggests that meeting planners use her book as read-ahead material for strategic planning or off-site meetings to help clear the way for better communication, collaboration, and curiosity about what can be.
The idea for the book emerged from Freeland’s reflections on the rise and fall of her career and unexpected firing due to her inability to see the need for change and being ill-equipped to handle big shifts in life.
Freeland admits, “I had too much of my identity and sense of self-worth wrapped up in my role and expertise, and when that was taken from me, I couldn’t adapt fast enough to be valuable to the company. In my effort to survive, I became my own worst enemy without knowing it. I was blind to what was happening and unprepared to handle the kind of change that was expected.”
That realization led Freeland to spend the next four years researching leadership, psychology, and human behavior to figure why she was fired. She ended up creating a powerful personal change framework, the Breakthrough Compass, which forms the backbone of her strategic learning and coaching programs for Fortune 500 executives.
Freeland’s embrace change message is reaching a broad audience, and her book is quickly climbing several best-selling book lists on Amazon.com. In response to this, several Northwest corporate leaders are sharing the book with their teams, and they are booking her to present at their next strategic planning sessions and off-site meetings.
Kimberly Kraemer, Founder and CEO of Waterhouse Brands in Seattle, read the book because she worries about the cumulative toll that the long duration of the COVID-19 pandemic is having on her team’s mental health and will be sharing the book with her colleagues. “I resonated with the main character’s contemplative journey of navigating his relationship conflict at work, and I felt my colleagues could relate to this fun metaphor to see the importance of questioning long-held beliefs in order to be open to new ideas and ways of doing things.”
Since giving up their office space in 2020, the Waterhouse Brands team shifted to remote work and were looking forward to returning but abandoned the search when the Delta virus emerged. “We won’t be returning to an office which presents challenges; burnout from working and living at home is a real thing!”
Kraemer mentioned that her employees now enjoy the unexpected benefit of having an extra one-and-a-half to two hours a day to spend with family or for personal care. She is considering monthly off-site meetings to reconvene as needed, and says, “I’m in a wait and see mode.”
Pam Hoepfl, the Director of Capital at Precision Capital in Eugene, Oregon enjoyed reading the book and believes it will resonate with others because the idea of changing your mind and not trying to change others is a great lesson.
“If anyone had asked me two years ago if we would allow employees to work from home, I would have thought it to be impossible with our line of work,” declared Hoepfl. “One thing that Covid taught me was that everyone was able to be successful working remotely. Currently, three of my staff continue to work from home, and they do a wonderful job of it. So, I have changed my mind!”
Learning to embrace change is a powerful life skill, which is how this mechanical engineer, mother-of-three with six career reinventions under her belt, wrote the book. According to Freeland, we can all do this.
“To excel in our rapidly changing world, it’s critical that you develop the ability to confidently navigate change and master the ability to thrive in uncertainty. Fortunately, you were made for this.”
Take Your Shoes Off First is available on Amazon.com, bookstores, and Audible.