Aligning Your Human Being and Human Doing


When I graduated from college I had no intention of entering the traditional workforce. I taught environmental education, guided camping trips with teenagers, and led semesters abroad with gap year students. I filled any downtime in employment with substitute teaching. A desire for roots and community brought me back to Minnesota for grad school. I applied for a summer internship at Cargill and I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. I decided to stay. (And they decided to keep me!)

I look back at the last 10 years of my career with incredible gratitude. I still can’t believe some of the experiences I’ve had. My colleagues taught – and continue to teach – me lessons about courage, creativity, leadership development, coaching, and authenticity. I discovered that curiosity and listening are the keys to engaging and building trust with anyone, from a union leader in the middle of Ohio to an executive in Ecuador. I learned how to be vulnerable to give others the permission to learn and grow. I am here today because of these lessons.

Even through these amazing experiences, I always wondered if a full-time role in corporate America was the best place for me. Many of you have been reading my blog and know that I started to listen to that voice and seriously entertain the idea of entrepreneurship about a year ago. After much exploration and reflection, I put in my notice at work in July, went part-time in October, and my last day is Thursday.

Although I never felt like my life was particularly out of alignment, I have become increasingly aware over the past several months that I am now living in alignment. I am energized and inspired. I have never experienced this level of creativity. Amazing people are entering my life. The changing structure of my days fits my personality. The actual work I am doing and developing is aligned to my values, my skills, and the impact that I want to have. I am serving with my whole self. Life feels full of possibilities. It’s not easy, but it’s right.

My former leader at Cargill recently started a project called Significance Matters. On the website she and her husband have two different bios – their human doing bios and human being bios. Alignment is a collision between the human being and human doing. Instead of my being and doing existing separately or bumping into each other only occasionally, they are becoming one. This is the difference I feel.


What about you?

Most of the time we aren’t in vast misalignment. We tend to notice when our integrity is crossed or values blatantly violated. Subtle misalignment is harder to recognize and easy to ignore. It’s the boiled frog metaphor – if you drop a frog in boiling water it will leap out. But if you place a frog in cool water and slowly raise the temperature, it will boil to death without ever leaving the pot.

Are you in a pot with the temperature rising so slowly you don’t notice?

Are you like me? Generally happy with your life, but feeling like something is just a little off?

Pay attention to those sensations that tell you something is awry. Lean into the feeling. Get curious about it. Ask yourself where it is coming from. Do your best to withhold expectations or judgment from the response.

Once you recognize where you are out of alignment, you can make adjustments. Sometimes a big change is needed. Often more exploration. But just a tweak here and there will also help bring your human being and human doing closer together.


Heather Whelpley is a coach and speaker that works with women to master doubt and imposter syndrome and own their brilliance. Learn more about her coaching services here.

8 thoughts on “Aligning Your Human Being and Human Doing

  1. The blog is very good and I like your point that is is not always a screaming call within yourself regarding the need to realign. In fact, sometimes when you are having a good experience it takes more energy and courage to go to something which is calling you. Much easier when the leave -from and go-to are both strong.

    Here are a few of my favorite quotes I wrote in my journal some years ago and refer back to.

    In the dim background of our mind we know what we aught to be doing. William James (he happens to be one of my favorite philosophers)

    You may I think it is too risky to give up a salary, pension, job security, or familiar surroundings because of the dim night light in your mind that draws you to see why it’s turned on. I suggest that there are no risks at all if you pay attention to that light, what is your knowing. Dr. Wayne Dyer

    Each man has an aptitude born with in him. Go do your work. Ralph Waldo Emerson

    Thank you for referencing my blog.

    Is the bridge photo yours? It is stunning.

    Sent from my iPad


    1. Thanks for your comments! I agree that it is often harder to walk away from something that is good. The motivation can be challenging, even when there is a nagging thought that something different may be a better fit – just like the quote from William James that you shared! Yes, the bridge photo is mine. I’ve been walking to work through Loring Park for the last 2 1/2 years and it has afforded me many wonderful photo opportunities! This one was taken right after it had finished raining – it provided unique lighting with the storm clouds around and bridge reflecting in puddles.

  2. I really feel moved by this article Heather. I believe as Joseph Campell says, “Follow your bliss”, but we have to listen to our intuition and follow it truthfully. If we have listened to that voice I believe we have joy in our every day. Thanks for the reminder😁

    1. I’m so glad the post resonated with you! Thank you for commenting and letting me know. I love what you say about the relationship between listening to that voice and joy. I absolutely believe that we cultivate joy in our lives – perhaps listening and then acting on what we hear and know is how we cultivate joy.

  3. This is a great reflection, and it so closely echoes my own, as you know. “The changing structure of my days fits my personality.”–I think I say that almost verbatim every time I talk about having my own business and how well it is going for me. Congratulations on the new chapter officially starting!

    1. Thank you, Katie! The changing schedule suits me so much better than having the same work schedule each day. And for other people this would completely stress them out. It’s good to know how we each thrive so that we can design our lives that way!

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