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Lessons from 'Coming Out': Strategies to Get Unstuck in Life and Career


John Neral was 10 years old when his mom told him not to go to bed with a woman until he was married. 18 years later, he came out to his parents as gay. Today, he stresses that how we "show up matters. So Neral coaches clients on strategies to “get unstuck” and achieve their potential. He's our guest on the Lean to the Left podcast.


A certified professional coach, Neral helps mid-career professionals find a job they love or love the job they have. For 25 years, his career was in education and as a corporate consultant for Casio America. He’s the host of “The Mid Career GPS Podcast” and author of “SHOW UP – Six Strategies to Lead a More Energetic and Impactful Career” and “Your Mid-Career GPS – Four Steps to Figuring Out What’s Next.”


On the show, Neral describes what it was like coming out as gay to his parents, something that took him 18 years to accomplish after the day when his mom cautioned him, at age 10, not to ever have sex with a woman without being married. He also expresses deep concern about the political situation today with conservative politicians across the nation targeting the LGBTQ+ community with restrictive laws and proposals.


"As a gay man who has been very comfortable in his male identity, I have no context of what it must be like for somebody who is transgendered to realize that they're born in the wrong body," he says. "I know people who are transgendered. I respect them. What I'm saying is that I don't understand their walk, but I do believe that their rights must be protected." Their rights, he says, "are being weaponized or politicized", but he believes in fighting for their rights.


With the election coming at a time when the presumed GOP candidate, Donald Trump, could be facing jail time because of issues related to the Jan. 6, 2021 efforts to overturn the 2020 election.


"You almost think we're headed for another civil war," he says. "The next year and two months. Is going to be pivotal. It's going to be very pivotal in terms of where we're headed and what rights are going to be protected and what rights are going to be in jeopardy, and it is more important than ever in my opinion that we make sure we honor our right to go out and vote and to do so and get informed."


What Does it Mean to 'Show Up'?

"The way I think about showing up is to not be silent. I'm not saying it's about being militant, but in some ways, I think there are ways we can be very emphatic. about what's important. Showing up means going out to vote.


"Showing up means standing up for basic civil rights that have been taken away or compromised in some way. The divisiveness that we're seeing right now, more so than ever, I feel, sets us back 50, 60 years, decades of progress. And showing up is to ensure that those basic civil rights are honored and they're protected.


"And so when I think about what it means to show up, absolutely, I will always vote. I will have conversations with people not who are as necessarily far on the left, but to maybe try to understand a little more where they're coming from, and see if there is an avenue to have an intentional conversation to move that relationship forward."


Strategies to Get Unstuck in Life and Career


Q. Tell us what you mean when you say “How you show up matters.”


Q. How did you learn what that meant?


Q. During your career, you were a local union leader. Tell us about that and what that taught you about yourself.


Q. What are the six strategies that you write about in your book and where did they come from?


Q. How can people benefit from them?


Q. What does “showing up” mean for people who tend to lean left politically, especially with all of the divisiveness that is prevalent today?


Q. You waited until you were 28 years old to come out to your parents? Why did it take so long and what did doing that mean to you?


Q. What’s your advice to people who are facing that decision in their lives?


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