(~3 minute read.)
Alexandra Kopack, M.A.P.P(M.S)., B.C.B.A, is a co-owner of W3RK WELL where the team strives to make meaningful change in the workplace to increase health and well-being. She is also Lead Behavior Analyst in Southern California for EBS Healthcare where the team helps children and young adults with autism and developmental disabilities lead full and flourishing lives.
Join us as Alexandra shares that while she has never considered herself particularly courageous, others (including me) admire her courage immensely.
How would you describe workplace courage?
It means working for an organization that honors and aligns with your values. If this is not something that is entirely possible (sometimes we just need a paycheck, I get that!) then being true to your values and being a living example of them is very courageous. For instance, one of my values is health and well-being; sometimes work can cause significant stress and take a toll on both physical and mental health. For me, courage would be asking for help on a project, admitting that I have too much on my plate and cannot take on another task or even just taking a day off. For others who value creativity, courage might be presenting a new idea to the team or using a different method to get something done than usual.
No matter what, I think workplace courage means representing what you value most, even when it’s difficult.
What does courage look like in your workplace?
I have a couple of different working environments. I work in a clinical setting where I use behavior analysis to help children and their families impacted by autism and developmental disabilities and I also co-own a business that uses behavior analysis techniques to increase workplace health and wellness.
Courage looks different in both of these places. In the clinical setting, courage looks like a therapist going to session every day and not giving up on a client who has had slow progress. It is also a behavior analyst approaching their colleagues to ask for support on a case they are having trouble with. The values of pursuing excellence and helping others are very common in the clinical setting, so acts of courage happen every day.
In the company I co-own, courage looks like presenting new ideas to the team and taking a leap to make new personal connections. All four co-owners live in different areas and frequently need to have meetings via Google Chat or phone, so courage could be asking for a meeting when goals aren’t clear or even canceling one if you need to take a personal day.
Please describe 1-2 examples in which you have been courageous. What did you do? Who/what enabled you to be courageous? What was the outcome?
I have never considered myself to be particularly courageous, but others have told me that they admire my courage, so I have been trying to embrace that. One instance of courage for me was moving to Australia from Chicago to get my Masters in Applied Positive Psychology. I got an e-mail from the university in mid-November that my course would begin in January. I had 2 months to find a way to pay for the program, get a visa and figure out where I was going to live. It was difficult to leave my life in Chicago behind but my thirst for knowledge and adventure told me that this was an opportunity I could not give up. In the end it was the best decision I ever made because my education and experiences there changed every facet of my life for the better and opened doors I never knew existed.
But I think the most courageous I have ever been was leaving an abusive relationship. To give a little back story, I met a man when I was living in the Midwest who swept me off my feet. He was charismatic and handsome, and I was thrilled to be with him. However, red flags began to pop up; he was bi-polar, irregular with medication, drank and frequently mixed medication and drinking. He became verbally abusive early on, but we both blamed it on his psychiatric issues. I couldn’t admit to anyone, especially not myself that this was happening. I believed that I could truly help him and change him. Together we moved across the country to California where I became isolated from friends and family. From here things became worse, he became increasingly irrational and violent to the point that I was afraid of him. I went back to the Midwest to visit family where I opened up to my mom about what was happening. My family’s love and concern was what gave me the strength to leave. I got back to California and in the morning when he left for work, I packed my bags, took the dog, changed my phone number and drove across the country back home with my dad. The healing process after that was incredibly difficult and admitting to others the situation I had been in, made me feel ashamed and embarrassed. But all of my friends and family wanted to offer only support and love. I spent countless nights crying to my dog and hours speaking to therapists since then.
Today, I couldn’t be happier with the choice that I made and the life that I am living; I feel like I’m living a life to be proud of.
From your point of view, to what extent are our world leaders leading with courage?
This is a tricky question as the leaders in my country have been leaving a lot to be desired and as of late there has been a lot of social/ political upheaval. However, there is always something good to be found and I see courage in the leaders who are accepting refugees into their country, fighting for legislation on climate change, and standing up for the rights of minorities. These pervasive issues can be polarizing, and I think that there is nothing more courageous than standing up for human rights and the greater good, no matter what that means.
If you like to connect with Alexandra, she can be contacted at: Alexandra@w3rkwell.com
I met Alex while studying our Masters in Applied Positive Psychology together. Alex brings joie di vivre to everyone she meets and to all she does, creating a contagion of energy and positivity. Her title of “Chief Relationship Builder” is most apt!