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Dana Mitra's book, The Empowered Professor: Breaking the Unspoken Codes of Inequity in Academia.Dana Mitra is a faculty coach, career, coach, and leadership coach. She specializes in coaching academics, women leaders, and professionals making career changes.

The Empowered Professor: Breaking the Unspoken Codes of Inequity in Academia – A Conversation


In this podcast, I discuss how academics can find success and fulfillment in their careers. Ian asked me about how faculty can improve equitable conditions within their university, and contribute to staff retention and well-being. Our conversation focuses on my recently released a book entitled “The Empowered Professor: Breaking the Unspoken Codes of Inequity in Academia.” Click on link below to link to how to listen wherever you find your podcasts–including Apple , Google, Spotify, and more.


"we are not our flaws. We are not our fears."

Forgiveness Relieves Anxiety

I struggled with anxiety during a rough patch in my life. People very important to me caused me to lose trust in them, and in turn, I lost trust in myself.

I began dreading social situations. I was short fused and unfair to my closest people in my life. I did not feel like I could manage my moods. I felt like a ship drifting about with no control of whether the next wave would knock me over. The world was doing things TO me. I had no control over it.

Forgiveness was the gateway to get my health back. But I learned that forgiveness is not what I thought it was at all.

I struggle when I hold on to the pain and hurt–far after the cause of the pain left the scene. Anxiety comes from trying to control things we cannot control. I would beat myself up by replaying the wrongs and squeezing on to them rather than setting them free.

I wasn’t ready to forgive because I believed other people were wrong. It wasn’t okay that they said what they said. Did what they did. They should have huge regrets for how they acted. There should be consequences. Because otherwise where was the justice in this world?

The shift for me came when sitting in stillness and silence one day-my pathway to knowing what is true and real. I had always thought forgiveness was about the other person. About holding that person in a kinder light.

It can be about that. But whether I wish the other person goodness or karma, I don’t ever get to determine how they experience what they did and said. I can’t control how they feel about anything. Wishing and hoping they feel anything at all is futile.

What I can control is me. My physical discomfort and pain is made by me alone. My resentment. My anger. My anxiety. My choice.

All of that energy may never land for “them”, but it grows in me when I don’t let it go. It sucks the life out of me and prevents me from showing up.

To be well and happy, I had to forgive.

So that I can be free and strong and dream of brighter futures and bigger and better ways of being. So that I can invest all the people who lift me up and value my energy and love.

I can fully decide that I will consciously turn from fear to light. I will seek peace and serenity for my own self. That choice can set me free.

Ready to get unstuck? Message me for a free consultation or email dana@coachingbydana.com

Dana Mitra doing the crow pose. Dana Mitra is a faculty coach, career, coach, and leadership coach. She specializes in coaching academics, women leaders, and professionals making career changes. She coaches on purpose, balance and productivity.Dana Mitra is a member of the International Coaching Federation. Dana Mitra is a faculty coach, career, coach, and leadership coach. She specializes in coaching academics, women leaders, and professionals making career changes. She coaches on purpose, balance and productivity.

Brave. Not Bravado.

I used to think being brave was forging through life with plenty of shields up to make sure that I didn’t get hurt. It was sticking my neck out to do great things, but to share as little of myself as necessary to get them done.

Now I realize that’s bravado. And it doesn’t really serve anyone.

True bravery is learning how to be vulnerable while also maintaining boundaries. It’s a much more challenging way to show up in the world.
Self care. We can’t be brave if we aren’t grounded and feeling cared for ourselves. We need to feel worthy from the inside. We mindfully charge our batteries through self-care, whether it be meditation, prayer, exercise, sleep, a cup of tea. We can’t fully appreciate others for all they can be if we are not honoring ourselves.

To be clear in our intentions, means that we need to stay grounded. Much like a snow globe that gets all shaken up, but we’re not engaging in self care then discernment is very difficult. Everything is cloudy and murky and it’s easy to have a cup overflow with anxiety, worry, and stress. Through mindfulness and breathing and enough self-care, we can stay in a state in which we can consider our intentions. When we are aware that our self-care is not where it needs to be. That her battery needs charged. That we’re not in a place of being grounded, then sometimes will need to step away from difficult conversations until we’re strong again.

Vulnerability. Bravery is taking off the various masks that we wear in life to be honest and real and vulnerable. Being vulnerable when it allows us to make greater connection with others. I’m wearing a strong place and we can find greater meaning through the sharing of our stories. It means that we acknowledge the stories we tell ourselves and recognize that others’ stories of the same experience are valid too, as the writer Brene’ Brown shares. It doesn’t mean sharing our deepest truth with everyone, but a commitment to trying to see the best version of whomever is in front of you, whether it be the store clerk, your child, or yourself in the mirror.
Cleaning up messes. But it does involve addressing discomfort and potential conflict head on. It involves saying sorry when necessary. It involves cleaning up our messes when we screw something up with someone. Taking responsibility for our messes is hard. But it’s much healthier than letting the mess grow.

Taking time outs. Being brave also means that sometimes we need to pause and find faith in non-action. If we are reactive and emotional and not in a place of grounding, then being brave sometimes is walking away. Not engaging. We must wait until we are on solid ground before we try to interact. Hopefully as we get better at this, those needs for timeouts and stepping away grow shorter. But it’s important to honor them. And they may not be the timeline of the person who’s trying to engage you (or pick a fight with you). People sometimes want a reaction out of you, even if it is negative. And that can be tough because it hurts when someone’s angry. That discernment is really about intention.

women dancing and hula hooping

Resonance and Connection

How well do you resonate with others? In coaching we work with clients to find their courageous voice. We also work with client to help to build stronger connections with people who matter to them. Sometimes courage and connection can feel in conflict. Most of us tend to find one of these goals easier than the other.

Some of us are more skilled at speaking truth to power, no matter what the consequence. I’ve always tended to find the courage easier than the connection The positive of this perspective is being strong and true. At worst the can be perceived as aggressive or offensive.

Others prioritize the connection with others. They naturally make interactions comfortable, friendly and kind. At best, they lift others up and find joy in the connection. At worst, they can feel used or unseen.

In coaching training that I am attending this week, I am pondering how to show up with both intentions—connection and courage. My daughter works in retail sales. She wisely observed that she can be heard when she raises her voice more highly, and smiles. This is a gendered answer, granted—when as women do we want or need to be heard vs. assert ourselves more? Yet it also shows great self-wisdom of how to make a connection and be heard.

I am learning that connection must come first. We first need to build resonance in order to be heard. Sometimes we need to mirror others to create a connection—making our voice louder or softer. Matching the range of our intended partner builds trust. Raising our energy or speaking more slowly. With connection, we can stretch to others—to help them to grow and to hear our own authenticity. We can also listen more so that we can learn and grow as well.

Where do you naturally sit on the spectrum of connection and courage? Which direction do you need to stretch?

Stretch sculture on Dana Mitra's website. Dana Mitra is a faculty coach, career, coach, and leadership coach. She specializes in coaching academics, women leaders, and professionals making career changes. She coaches on purpose, balance and productivity.Dana Mitra is a member of the International Coaching Federation.

Finding Intuition Inside

When uncertain of decisions, our body can give us the insight that we need. While we often stay stuck up in the brain part of our selves as we “think” through decisions, we gain wisdom and guidance by centering our questions and concerns within ourselves and breathing into them.

A common place to think is from our “gut.” Called the Hara or dantian in Eastern cultures, we can find truth and confidence in knowing through this center of wisdom and guidance.

Others find great comfort in breathing into the heart space to make decisions. They find the understand of an issue can feel broader, more spacious. Compassion for ourselves and others involved can change our perspectives and help us to decide how the dilemma might best be resolved in ways that align with our values and how we want to show up in the world.

Other body parts can give insights as well. Try focusing on your feet when making a decision. Grounding can come from the feet. Or an unwillingness to be grounded. At a recent lecture that I gave, one participant found that her one foot wanted to fly up into the air. She was getting strong messages that she did NOT want to be grounded. This person had been deliberating about taking a long desired month-long trip, but kept worrying about the funds. Further reflection helped her to feel strongly that it was time to make plans and begin her adventure.

The hands are also a place of insight. My hands often start shaking before I even fully realize myself that I’m nervous or afraid. They tell me what I’m feeling inside when I don’t want to admit it yet. They are my visual barometer of my inside self.
We have the wisdom we need. We are naturally resourceful and whole. We can find ways of knowing within ourselves by taking a quiet moment, breathing, and asking our bodies what they can teach us. Our intuition is always correct. It’s a muscle that we need to learn how to flex.
Contact me for a free coaching session to see the possibilities at dana@coachingbydana,.com

Weeding Our Emotional Gardens

Doing the tough stuff of change in our lives reminds me of work in my garden at the end of the season. I can celebrate the beautiful blooming that has happened over the course of the year. I can marvel at the growth in the blooms and all of the ways that nature has chosen to expand the beautiful

I also need to notice the parts that are not thriving. That despite my love and money and effort, some things were not able to grow in my space. In some spaces I had been trying to grow something for years but nothing seems to take. Others were neglected or the victim of happenstance–a patch of mildew or a bad storm.

In the garden, at the end of the season, we need to take stock of the places that we need to remove the plants that have failed to thrive. It can be hard work extracting that stuff. I can feel sad because we planted those living things with hope. Some take a few tugs and are gone without a thought. Others have rootballs that can take hours to extract. The tree stumps need professional help.

Once the hard work of getting rid of the stuff that didn’t take is done, there are empty spaces. We can be viewed as space is a possibility. Spaces of unknown they give opportunity for growth. For the healthy plants to spread out and stretch become even more glorious. Or a time to plant new seedlings and try again.

I can feel really impatient, noting that those spaces are not filled with joy yet. I have found myself focusing on the empty spaces instead of seeing the beauty of the plants around them. When we focus on the empty, and sometimes we can’t help ourselves, it can feel lonely. Maybe the spaces leave the garden feeling vulnerable to outsiders. Exposed. Unsure. What might others think about the failure?

Then there’s all the time and effort invested in those spaces. No matter how much was invested that failed, we need to move forward and think about how we can grow the garden. I can choose more wisely what to plant now based on what I’ve learned.

When I find myself stuck in looking at the empty spaces, I need to breathe air into growing the new. Into celebrating and focusing on the beauty of what is there. The gratitude for what works. And promise patience and grace for the spaces I haven’t figured it out yet. Waiting. Hoping. Trying again with new wisdom.
Feeling stuck? I can help you get from where you are to where you want to be. Contact me for a free coaching session to see the possibilities at dana@danamitra.net

mosaic pattern in a place in India.


One of the hardest parts of “adulting” is placing boundaries when you need them. The more important the person, the harder the work.

They say in coaching that you get the clients that you need. I wonder if that’s true with all relationships. Our child needed–and still needs–parents with a much more rigid line than we like to take. We had to focus on absolute consistency. It provided safety and scaffolding. The scaffolding included a nonnegotiable bedtime. Clear expectations and visible consequences. Without these boundaries, our lives would fall into chaos, and we would suffer the consequences of a miserable child.

The same is true for the business world. I had a client recently tell me, “I think my staff is waiting for me to make some rules. They will be relieved when I do.” And even with that knowledge, it’s still hard to do.

I don’t like that part of relationships—parenting, friendships, business. I don’t want to be the “heavy.” I don’t like rigid rules myself. I find myself putting my energy toward wishing that I didn’t need to do this important work –why can’t the other person change so I don’t have to do the work?

The paradox is with boundaries is that the tough up-front work is what sets us free. They can give us back our energy long term instead of handing it away over and over because we didn’t do the work.

Holding the boundaries requires self-care. Enough energy to do what might be harder up front but takes care of issues down the line. Remembering the boundaries and keeping them firm.

What boundaries and tough conversations are you avoiding? How does that serve you? You know it’s a big one if you hit an emotional block –queasy stomach, resentment, discomfort. Huge signs that your boundaries needs some adjustment. Avoiding the tough conversations doesn’t make them go away, they just get buried in our selves and multiply. We carry our unfinished work into all of the other relationships in our lives.

Be curious about all of those clear signs from your body that there’s some tough work to do. And you might not want to go it alone.

Ganesh in the car.

Anchor Points

Even when we are committed to change, we lose track of what matters. The values and goals in our lives can get drowned out by the noise. The busy. The distraction. The day-to-day responsibilities pull us away from our purpose.

Anchor points can help us to reground and stay focused on what matters. Some people wear a symbol of their values on their bodies. A bracelet with a word like “peace” or “love.” A necklace with a symbol of faith and connection. A tattoo of a meaningful symbol or words.

We can also keep symbols in places that we see every day. By our toothbrush. On our desks. I have a little altar in my car—a piece of driftwood from a trip with my daughter to an Irish island, a blue stone from my mother, a bracelet given to me by a friend out of the blue, and a Ganesh–known to be a remover of obstacles.

I spend a lot of time in my car, driving my teenagers from place to place. I don’t really enjoy driving. These little symbols stay in view to help me to remember how valuable that car time can be to connect with these people whom I love.

My kids are at an age where it’s so hard to learn how they are doing, and they often enter the car filled with overflowing emotions. The symbols help me to try to remember to show up fully for them when they arrive in the car. To breathe. To stay present with them. To remain curious instead of judging about their experiences. When I have time waiting for a child in my car, they remind me to make a call to connect with someone meaningful to me.

We all need reminders of what matters to us. What are little ways that you can reground throughout your day with the help of symbols?

You had the power all along, my dear. Find you power with Dana Mitra. Dana Mitra is a faculty coach, career, coach, and leadership coach. She specializes in coaching academics, women leaders, and professionals making career changes. She coaches on purpose, balance and productivity.Dana Mitra is a member of the International Coaching Federation.

You’ve Always Had the Power

I spent the weekend cheering at soccer fields, as I often do. My son’s team was missing a lot of its key players at this tournament. The more senior members of the team entered the first game heads down, sure of failure. And true to their expectations, they played terribly the first game. They seemed to have already decided before the game that they would lose.

The second game, one of the littlest kids decided to write a different story. He was new to the team, and you could see in his body language that he didn’t buy into the drama. He decided that he would be the spark. He scored two of the early goals, and suddenly the whole team believed in themselves again.

As a cheering soccer mom, when the team looks out of sorts, I often shout, “Who’s going to step up and be the leader right now? Who’s it going to be?” That second game, it was an unlikely choice from a spectator’s viewpoint. But it didn’t matter because that kid decided he could do it.
Mindset matters more than anything in life. That I know for sure. We get to decide how we will show up in our lives. I share this lesson with my own children endlessly.It’s a super power each and everyone of us have. We can decide that life controls us. That we have no choice. Or we can make miracles.

Like Glinda the good witch’s advice, we need to know that we carry within us greater strength than we will ever need if we can just be brave and vulnerable enough to tear down our walls and let it shine out. My daughter is starting to believe it. My son is still figuring it out. My greatest wish for him is that he lets his light shine so brightly that he can light the way for others too

Half Assery as a Form of Excellence

I work with a lot of clients who strive to be the very best they can be. Often they are burnt out, spinning their wheels, and exhausted.
I encourage these stressed souls to embrace Half Assery as much as Bad Assery. Not everything in our lives can be an A+. We should intentionally settle for pass/fail when we can. Know where life must be an A+; where your passions lie and you want the A+. But also give yourself permission to just skate by on the parts of life that do not bring you joy and do not require your best effort.
Especially during the holiday season, where doing it all perfectly can seem to be the unspoken expectation in the head of so many. By resting during the “need to” parts, we can save our energy and bandwith for the “love to” parts.
Today, I took my sixteen-year-old daughter with me to Baptiste Yoga—a form of yoga that is very intense, with high expectations of pushing yourself as far as you can. But we are running a half marathon tomorrow.
So, I told her we were going to stay for the whole class but work on being mediocre. Her eyes grew big, her body tensed. “Nope,” I said. ”We have permission to fail gloriously today.”
I’ve never felt so light and free in a yoga class When the rest of the class sank deeper into chair pose, I rose up higher. When others took a downward dog, I snuggled into child’s pose. It felt joyful. My daughter laughed throughout the class. Why on earth have I taken yoga so seriously all the time? And the kicker was, by being totally playful and relaxed, we still did about 90% of the poses, but had way more fun doing so.
Pass/fail instead of A+ can feel delicious. Let it be a gift to yourself. Be intentional about it. The space and rest you create with your Half Assery will allow you to then joyfully choose when you are ready to shine your light to the absolute fullest. And that is the greatest gift of all.

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