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And Just Like That....(extended version)

Updated: Oct 24, 2023

In a split second—everything changed.


Isn't that always the case though? Punctuated Equilibrium...this term was introduced to me during that one year when we all went pantless and forgot how to have face-to-face conversations. Remember that, right? Well, I frequently use this term now because I've come to realize that quite simply...it happens every day and all the time. We can resist it or embrace it, and my friends, I choose to embrace it, and I hope you will too, because fear has no place in the Level After Next.


Punctuated Equilibrium is the hypothesis that the evolution of something is marked by isolated incidents of rapid change or growth amidst long periods of little to no change.


I see this in everything now. "That year we'd rather forget" brought change to commerce, business, education, relationships, and how people function in their day-to-day lives among other things. If you knew me before that, or worked with me in any capacity, I would have told you that we were heading toward an online world, and I think anyone paying attention would have agreed. Then, in just one day, it seemed we had to figure out how to do everything in isolation. Now we do things differently. Punctuated Equilibrium.


It happens all the time, doesn't it? My best friend had a motorcycle accident a few months ago. Punctuated Equilibrium. When my dad was rushed to the hospital and had a triple bypass, there it was again. It can be different for everyone, each event like this. Lacey and her husband vowed to get rid of the bike, and they look at waking up, spending time with their kids, and everything in this life differently. My dad is in the best shape I've seen him since I was very small, he walks daily and eats healthy, he goes to church with my mom regularly. Both events affected me differently, the thought of life without Lacey or my dad...how close I was to that. It changes you. It changes people in an instant, it's perspective.


It's not always life-altering or life threatening things though. Sometimes it's a moment with my children, like Jeremiah telling me a joke. He knew it was supposed to be funny, but did not understand what he was saying at all, he had memorized it from a YouTube short. Punctuated Equilibrium in the form of wiping that app from everything and making rules that had this poor, confused, kid so upset because he didn't realize that the punch line was wildly inappropriate. I realized I needed to be far more diligent and change how I did things.


Punctuated Equilibrium in the form of a therapy session where my therapist explains how I trauma-bond, causing me to become so aware of myself that I have to take more time in all of my thoughts and interactions, to pause and determine what is healthy...to the point that it changes me and every relationship moving forward.


I experienced a pretty big PE last week, as did many people. Like I've said, these things can impact everyone differently and on many different levels. I was given news that kept changing, it will likely continue to change but it's become more and more clear. It impacted my business in some ways, but more than anything, it impacted my thoughts. I questioned everything; trust in myself and others, my decision-making abilities, my priorities, my leadership. I questioned my judge of character, I felt foolish for having belief and trust, I felt guilt for having so much belief in another. Then, I decided to do what I've had to learn to do over the last few years of very hard work, mental, physical, corporate, and emotional work. I decided to get the hell up, lead, navigate, and grow. I know I am not responsible for anyone else's actions or behaviors. I know good people can do the wrong thing or make a bad choice. I know people can change and get caught up in their own egos or goals. I know things can go wrong. I know things fall apart. I know that I may never know the full truth about anything aside from what I do in this life. At the same time, I also know that I love seeing the best in people and I don't need to be a perfect judge of character because the only character that truly matters is my own. I won't apologize for wanting to believe in others, ever. I am, however, getting better at taking my father's advice of the last 40 years..."when someone shows you who they are, believe them." I may always be quick to forgive, but I'm learning to be more careful.


I'm ready to grow from this experience, to grow through it. I have no regrets in the decisions I've made and no questions about why or whether I should have changed careers. I wouldn't have changed my decision and whether I would do it differently is neither here nor there, because I can't and, the truth is, that I don't think I would have. I learned a great deal, an invaluable amount, from someone who is a genius and who did great things, but eventually let me down. I coudn't have seen it coming, I never would have even dreamed of it. I get to keep everything I learned though. I wouldn't change that for the world.


I'm hardly the first to have believed in someone and been let down. I have no doubt it will happen again. I'm getting pretty good at handling it though. I am getting quite efficient at taking the opportunity to grow.


Things happen. Things will continue to happen. Anything, big or small, can provoke massive change in you or me, or the world. You get to decide if things will happen for you or to you, and I'm simply done letting things happen to me. Life is oh-so-short, it is far too sweet, and there are details and events that are simply not important to know and understand outside of how they impact us. So, I evolve again...I think in truth it started today. You're allowed to take a beat to let things sink in, to let them hurt, to be upset or confused. As that same leader would say all the time, "it's about how long you let yourself stay knocked down." See? That's good stuff...I popped right back up.


I took that beat and got back to it...because this has just launched me into the next level I've been trying to work toward. I didn't know how to get there, but I suppose I needed an "isolated episode of rapid speciation" to remind me of what I wanted to do with this life. I needed something massive to remind me of my strength that has been tested so many times in the last decade. I have a lot of great things coming for you.


Somewhere along the line, I forgot my truest calling, my identity. My podcast got a little foggy, I stopped showing up as much online because it didn't feel comfortable...because I wasn't teaching. I'm a teacher, I'm an educator. I don't belong at the front of just one classroom, though maybe someday I will again. I am here to educate, to share, to help, and to connect others with their identities and greatness. Sometimes it will be products, the same products that I researched and studied and knew were so important when it came to helping others, and some really wonderful and complimentary new ones as well. I have so many new partnerships with clean, safe, companies that compliment my favorite health and wellness line and I'm so eager to share so much information that will inform and help anyone find their best form of healthy living (plus discounts...always discounts).


Beginning in the next few months, I'll be launching an additional podcast focused on Leadership, interviewing experts, thought leaders, and members of the media...not just social media 😂. The "If You Lead Them" Podcast is a manifestation of a dream I wasn't even brave enough to say out loud, but here it is. I have a platform being built with the most incredible soul sister the world could ask for, and together we will support the kind of change and growth that she and I have spent decades working to understand and achieve. To help people find, acknowledge, and live in their greatness.


I started recording a solo podcast yesterday for my Level After Next Pod that felt so right, it's like I'm alive again. Then...I saw the 4, 5-Star, ratings on it, all so beautiful...and I cried. I cried. I didn't know a single person had rated my podcast, I've never asked anyone to rate it. I had no idea who these people were. They were touched by my words and my guests, they found value. I honestly can't even tell you how incredible that moment was. I absolutely realize that 4 reviews is nothing to blog about for many people, but oh my gosh...it is for me. It is WILD to me, it's an honor and such a beautiful feeling that 4 people took their time to say that they enjoyed what I share. I am on the right path. It's ok if you're laughing, I just didn't have expectations outside of wanting to create something good. If it was only good for 4 people, that is enough for me.


So yeah...something happened, it wasn't great. I can't quite understand it, but I'm okay with that. I'm growing through that. I don't need the answers; I need to grow and support my people, my team who look to me for support and growth- for their own futures and goals, my friends, co-workers, business partners, listeners, readers, or anyone totally new I haven't even met yet. I need to learn whatever this lesson is so I can teach it, I need to teach.



Some situations take time to grow through; I promise there is always a way. If anyone has taught me that, it's my cousin. Surely you know someone like her, and if you don't, you can borrow mine. Things happen, you decide if they happen to you or for you. Surround yourself with those who believe the latter, have grace for the moments where things don't quite make sense.


If you've read this far, I love you dearly. Truly.


There are no ends to the levels, but fear cannot exist with true growth, and friend...we were all made for something great. There is nothing I love more than helping someone find their greatness. So...that's the plan for the foreseeable future.


My office is always open, and I still haven't charged anyone a dime, so take advantage while you can.


xoxo

Katie B.

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6 Comments


Katie Barnett
Katie Barnett
Oct 24, 2023

Oh Van, I'm so honored life brought our businesses together. Thank you, this was a hard one to press publish on, but at the same time it felt right. Can't wait to see what this year brings, although I'm pretty bummed you left the West Coast before I got to visit you on the island! The good news is that you can be a Dodger fan now 😘. Go Baseball!

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My darling daughter, you will always inspire me!

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Katie Barnett
Katie Barnett
Oct 24, 2023
Replying to

Mom!!! I didn't know you read my blog! 😂 I love you. You inspire evertyhing.

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I love this Katie! I never want to forget my calling and yes always stay true to yourself. Never lose yourself for profit and you will continue to “level up”. I’m looking forward to listening to your podcast! I will make time ❤️

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Katie Barnett
Katie Barnett
Oct 24, 2023
Replying to

I'd love to hear all about your calling ❤️. Sometimes life makes things murky and even if we don't forget it...we just get a little lost, you know? Thank you so much for being here ❤️.

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Van Vogel
Van Vogel
Oct 24, 2023

Katie, That was a beautifully well done post! This will encourage me to time to look at my future in a different light! Have a wonderful day!!!

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