Painful Honesty

Today, the behavior of a small child completely rocked my world.

My girlfriend texted our friend group this morning to talk about an issue going on with her daughter. Her daughter was on the bus home from school and the bus driver and another child were apparently in a Russian standoff with the boy refusing to sit down and the bus driver refusing to drive until he did so. As the minutes drug on, my friend’s lovely and slight little girl, asked the boy if he would please sit down because she wanted to get home. And then he turned to her and punched her in the face. By the time, my friend’s beautiful little girl got home, she was in tears and told her mom what had happened all the while insisting that her mom not do anything about it because she didn’t want to get into trouble.

My friend was reaching out to us for our thoughts on what she should do. While we were all in agreement that something must be done, we were in agreement for a variety of different reasons. One of us wanted to know about the school’s rules and policies for this type of behavior. Was there some type of structure in place to track and monitor this type of behavior like a 3 strike rule, for instance, that would ultimately remove this child from the bus (or school) if the behavior continued? Another of us suggested a meeting with the principal to ensure that the child was removed from the bus. For me, I couldn’t help but wonder what was going on in the life of this child that he would physically assault another, much smaller child, and go to such lengths for something so minimal? What kind of a disservice would it be to the child if this wasn’t reported. Maybe this was a cry for help? Even if not, it seems that this is something that would warrant additional follow-up and concern for that child–was he simply repeating what he sees at home?

As I thought about my friend’s daughter and her pleas to let it go and not make a big fuss over it, I felt myself relating to that sentiment in so many ways. Why is it that we often ignore the wrongdoings of others because we don’t want to “get into trouble”? Or because we don’t want to make it a big deal? How many times have we allowed someone to take advantage of us without telling them that is how we feel? Or watched someone act cruelly to another without saying something? To be clear, I don’t believe that saying something is likely going to “change” the offensive actor, in fact, I think that is highly unlikely. But what kind of message does it send to the victim when we don’t act? When we don’t say anything?

Could our willingness to call out bad actors inspire the victims to act, to leave, to stand up for themselves?

Could our willingness to call out abuse when we see it, communicate to the victim that it doesn’t have to be this way? Could it affirm for them that it’s not okay and there are strangers who might care more for you than that person?

What an amazing opportunity to teach a child that, yes, speaking up is scary and yes, the world isn’t perfect and it might make things worse or harder for you by being honest. But your honesty, your truth and your respect for yourself and identifying what is okay and not okay, THAT is gold.

Honoring your truth and your experience and calling out bad actors even when it might cause you some discomfort or fear is what this life is all about.

Trusting your value and using your voice to establish your boundaries is a lesson most of us spend our lives trying to learn. What kind of a world would we have if children started learning these lessons right away? What impact would that have on the bullying epidemic? What kind of future leaders would we have if everyone learned from a young age to call out inequities and seek justice, whatever the cost?

What type of world we would have if we as adults were able to channel that power and voice our objections to racism, sexism, and cruelty that we encounter every day?!

When I was engrossed in an abusive marriage, I was meeting with one of my close friends and sharing some of my struggles with her. She looked me right in the eyes and baldly said, “You need to divorce him.” She didn’t try to soften it. She didn’t explain. She was unwilling to pretend it was going to get better. She didn’t lie to me and tell me she trusted him or believed in my safety. She risked our friendship to tell me the truth. The truth that I need to hear. I felt seen and my struggles felt validated. That was a huge turning point for me in deciding to leave and I will forever be grateful to her for her honesty.

Insidious things are a part of our world because we let them be a part of our world.

We. Let. Them. Exist.

That is a choice we make every day, several times a day, every day of our lives. Today I am inspired by the lesson my friend is imparting upon her little girl. Today I will strive to be the best and most honest version of myself. I will speak up when I see things that are hurtful or cruel. I will speak up, not because I want to change anyone but because I want to be an example to others of what is possible in this world. And what is possible is a world where people support and love one another, including those we don’t even know and will not sit by and passively watch as others are harmed and taken advantage.

If you see something say something.


Photo by Ben Wicks on Unsplash

Believing You Can Do It

Ugly beliefs: we’ve all got them. For one client it might be the belief that they are the ultimate cause of their client’s failure to win in court. For other clients, it might be their underlying fear that they aren’t going to make it and they are going to get fired. We all have them, laying below the surface keeping us from doing what we ultimately want to do. Those beliefs drive us to procrastinate, avoid work, avoid difficult conversations that are for our own betterment, and ultimately they keep us in a place that is inconsistent with who we are and where we want to be.

So how do we rip up those thoughts and get to a place of believing we can do anything?

We must first get to a place where we recognize and acknowledge that those thoughts we carry around in our heads are just opinions. They are not factual. They have not come to fruition. They are just words in our heads. Words we give power to.

Next we must realize that when we give those sentences power, they grow stronger. When we sit with those negative beliefs, our brain will provide all sorts of evidence to support those fears. If you give power to “I’m going to fail,” your brain will offer all sorts of evidence to support that thinking — ALL the reasons why failing is inevitable. Your brain is not designed to argue with the thoughts in your head. It is designed to agree with you by providing supporting evidence (i.e., confirmation bias). That’s why those thoughts feel so true. It’s why they have such a hold over us! But when was the last time, you also asked your brain to provide you with opposing evidence — to prove that you CAN DO IT?

When we worry that we can’t do it, we don’t even give ourselves the chance to consider whether the opposite might actually be true.

What if you can do it?

What if you are MEANT to do it?

Let’s be honest, none of us have proof that we can’t do it. None of us know with certainty that we will fail. So before we can shift to rosy thoughts about how we know we can do it, we first have to recognize our own role in this little song-and-dance: sometimes we give too much power to crappy beliefs about ourselves. Maybe we learned them from our parents, maybe they are criticisms offered by unkind friends or lovers of the past. Wherever they came from, their existence in our minds does not make them truthful.

Once we see our patterned thinking as just bad brain habits and not evidence of our innate shortcomings, we can practice believing something else. We can start to compassionately understand why we have gravitated toward those thoughts and we can dismantle those structures. For many of us, the reason negative thinking about ourselves is so powerful and so ingrained in our habits is that there’s a part of us that believes in the veracity of those statements. Knowing that, we can work to let that go too.

We all know that we say terrible things ourselves in our heads. We all know we have these limiting beliefs that we carry around. But the reason we carry them around is that there is a part of us that still wants to believe in their truth. You can’t let go of a belief so long as you are committed to the investment that it is true at least in part. We have to get to a place where we recognize that in our life we have so many choices to make. Choices to make about what we think about ourselves. We do not have to choose to believe that we can’t make it or that we’re going to get fired. Seeing those thoughts as choices can allow us to choose to believe something else.

But can’t some of those negative thoughts push us to try harder and do better?

I get asked this all the time. Intellectually, we know it’s not okay to talk to ourselves the way that we do and to carry around these worries about inadequacy; however, many of us look to our past successes as evidence that maybe being hard on ourselves is why we have succeeded. Maybe being hard on ourselves is how we were able to get where we are!

While I agree that for many of us, being hard on ourselves and pushing ourselves certainly contributed to our early successes in life. But when women come to me for coaching support, they are out of gas. They have pushed so hard they are pushing themselves right out the door and off of a cliff. While being hard on ourselves might have served us early in our careers, we eventually get to a point where it no longer serves us. We start to see the negative effects of treating ourselves so poorly. We have the success and the accolades but we have no boundaries, no balance, and our relationship with ourselves (and often others) is completely broken. You shouldn’t have to beat yourself into submission to achieve success — that pattern will leave you worse off than you started. (What’s the point of all that success if you don’t love yourself enough to allow yourself to enjoy it?)

What if instead of using negative self-talk to motivate ourselves, we choose to believe that we are inherently good enough and that we can be whomever we want to be?

Motivation will spring from either mindset but one requires an investment in our abilities while the other requires an investment in self-judgment. Which is more sustainable? Which will reap you more long-term benefits?

The choice is always yours.


Photo by Katrina Wright on Unsplash

Difficult Co-Workers

In every moment of our life, we have the option to choose how we perceive our experience. It’s easy to believe that what is occurring in our life shouldn’t have happened that way the things have gone wrong and that things should have gone differently. The problem with that thinking is that we become so wed to it and so invested in it that we believe it is the truth of our experience. We believe that what is happening to us in our world is bad and negative.

I recently worked with a client who was challenged by two women that she was working with. She believed that these women were the source of her unhappiness. She believed that they were the reasons she needed to leave her job. She believed that her job was not going the way she had wanted it to go. She was so invested in these beliefs and in the mentality that made her the victim and them the villain that she could not see her way out.

Through coaching, I worked with her to try and show her that all of these thoughts and beliefs were nothing more than choices and opinions in her head. Her opinions were not true for anyone unless she chose to make them true. And she was invested in making them true for herself. When I challenged her to think differently about her experience I was met with strong defensiveness. Immediately, she challenged me and asked if I was trying to get her to think pretty thoughts about these bad experiences in her life. Those of you that work with me know that my goal is never to shift you to prettier thoughts; my goal is simply to open up your awareness to the possibility that there are other ways of thinking about things  — that there may be more than one “truth” about a given situation.

There is never just one truth. There are multiple truths that can coexist at the same time.

For her, I needed first to get her to a place of neutrality where she could recognize that her perceptions of the experience were just that: choices. Her perceptions. Her opinions. And she could change them to something else. It didn’t mean that she needed to shift to something happier. We can always choose to live with those negative perceptions and interpretations of our life. But the power there comes from our choosing to feel negatively about those experiences and to think negatively about those experiences. My goal in teaching my clients to work through these challenges is to see that they are in fact making a choice. No experience is inherently negative. No fact of our life is inherently bad. We choose to make it bad. We choose to make it negative.

My goal in working with these clients is just to break loose that death grip that we have on our negative perceptions of reality and to open their eyes to that negativity bias and to be open to the possibility that there is always more than one truth available to us.

It doesn’t mean shifting from believing that our boss is the devil Incarnate to believing that he’s a saint. What it simply means is instead of living in the mind space where we always see our boss as a horrible human being and treating it as a hard fact, we shift to a mental space where we can see that he is there to teach us something about ourselves about our journey. For my client, what I wanted her to see was that she was choosing to be negative and to believe that this situation she found herself in was inherently negative. That was just a choice and she had complete authority to choose something different. She could choose instead to believe that this was part of her path. That it was time for a change. That truth could be equally as true as her belief that this was a bad outcome of her dreams. The choice was ultimately hers and each choice would dramatically impact how she showed up and experienced her time at that workplace.

Through my coaching programs, I help my clients to take complete authority over their life experiences. To take ownership of every emotion they experience and to consciously CHOOSE how they want to feel and what they want to believe about their lives.

“You see persons and things not as they are but as YOU are.”

What does your perception have to teach you about yourself? 


Photo by Engin Akyurt from Pexels

Being Good Enough

Many of my clients have struggled with the reoccurring thought that they are not good enough. That they are going to fail. They drive themselves towards some undefinable perfection. During my career, with every bigger step I took, I have also struggled with those beliefs and fears. What if I fail….what if this doesn’t work out…what if I’m not good enough…

Anytime we compare ourselves to other people we lose over and over again. If we perceive ourselves as being better than others we completely disconnect ourselves from those around us, which feels lonely and miserable. On the other hand, if we perceive others as being better than us then we feel terrible because we have now classified ourselves as less than.

Unless your comparisons breed inspiration, it’s just a cruel game we play with ourselves.

The misery that we create for ourselves when we compare ourselves to others is astronomical. So what’s the solution?

Accept that no one is perfect, no one should ever want to be perfect, and that maybe we’re all just really good at being exactly who we are. And just maybe the beauty of this world is that there are so many of us unique human beings each contributing in our own way (if we could only embrace our uniqueness and stop comparing ourselves to others!).

In coaching, we can certainly work around those beliefs and navigate their hold on us, but what if we didn’t have to?

What if part of being human was simply carrying with us this recurring anxiety and worry that we aren’t good enough?

What if we stopped giving weight to those worries but also stopped fighting to change them?

What if being human and being the best version of ourselves simply meant that sometimes we wonder if we’re doing it right?

Whenever I catch myself wondering if I’m not good enough or if I’m going to fail, I just allow myself to recognize this completely natural thought offered by my completely human brain. I see it and I move on. It’s just my biological drive to stay safe and not do the hard things.

I know that we all have that challenge from time to time and I know that thought will only get louder as we all take steps to do the hard things. I believe that if we don’t periodically wonder whether we are good enough or whether we are doing it right, then we are not truly striving to live as the best and most authentic version of ourselves.

In sum, if you aren’t wondering whether you are good enough and regularly being confronted with those fears, you aren’t living big enough.


Being Treated Differently

Humans will be humans. They will make terrible mistakes and bad choices. And sometimes, even “good” people make bad choices about the things that they say or choose to believe. These thoughts are often unconscious. Habitual, automatic thinking.

These automatic, programmed thoughts and ideas don’t make them a bad person it just means that they have bad thoughts that they haven’t examined through the lens of implicit bias….the jokes that people make or that people laugh at, the automatic judgments they make about others without questioning those judgments. The reason this matters is because those small actions, those unconscious reactions, and judgments are what are keeping so many segments of our society from moving forward. It’s not necessarily explicit hatred of another group but it is implicit bias masquerading in a prettier outfit.

Most of us have our own experiences being treated differently. I remember a few years ago, I was attending an early morning meeting where I was the only woman. As background, I have two white Shiba Inu pups and anyone who knows anything about dogs knows that a person who owns more than one Shiba Inu is a masochist. A masochist who loves having dog hair all over every article of clothing they have as well as in their icebox, refrigerator, underwear drawers, deli meat, and attics. I ALWAYS have dog hair on me.

On this particular day, I was wearing a long black pencil skirt. As I approached the breakfast bar to grab some coffee and a bagel, I felt a presence close behind me. Then I heard an older gentleman speaking in a low, private voice right into my ear, I think your dogs left you a present on your skirt this morning. Embarrassed and confused, I turned to look and saw that my backside was covered in the white hair of my beloved pups. As I thanked him and turned to leave the room to redress the situation he smiled and said you have no idea how much I wanted to wipe that off for you. You just have to let an old man have his fantasies.

WTF

I was immediately floored by his comment but I told myself He’s harmless. He’s a goofy old man who doesn’t think before he speaks…I was so shocked and startled and I wasn’t sure how to respond but I knew I didn’t want to make a scene at 7:00 o’clock in the morning in a room full of men.

After the meeting wrapped up, I went back to my office and tried to put the strange encounter out of my mind when I heard a knock at my door. I looked up and found the same old gentleman standing sheepishly in my doorway and waiting for me to notice him standing there awkwardly.   This time he was apologetic and thanked me for not getting upside with him, “just an old man,” and the “stupid things” that he says. He begged me to tell him if I was upset by what he had said. I brushed it off, told him it wasn’t a big deal, and we moved forward with the relationship and our days.

At the time, I found myself confirming that, if someone else had made the same comment, someone that I thought intended to be suggestive or probing, I would have reacted very differently. I was so focused on the individual and my knowledge that he didn’t mean anything by it….he was a kind and goofy old man with no malice. But why did that matter?

Through this work, I now realize that my response is part of a larger problem. I was focusing on the intent driving the individual to act that way, allowing space for his ignorance. People’s actions are just as important as their intentions. This gentleman did not intend to sexually harass me but the fact of the matter is, his conditioned thoughts and his words went there. He was thinking of me and my presence in a way that was not acceptable or safe. Even if he wasn’t seeking anything out of line, his words communicated to me that as a woman, I will always, in part, be seen as a sexual object. By brushing it off and not acknowledging the problem with his words, I was trading his discomfort for my own. To avoid making him feel uncomfortable by calling out his actions, I swallowed the pill and felt uncomfortable enough for both of us.

I didn’t want him to feel uncomfortable but it was okay for me to be uncomfortable.

Why? Because my predominant thought was “Let’s not make this a big deal….I don’t want you to think I’m overly sensitive or can’t take a joke.”

But the truth was, it was a big deal. The fact that I can still recall that moment so vividly and point to it as one of the many moments when I knew I did not belong is significant.

Those thoughts did not serve me at the time and they are not serving any of us today. Anyone who acts or speaks in a way that indicates you are not an equal in the workplace is a problem. It is not acceptable to stifle our concerns in favor of not making waves.

Instead of retreating in fear of confrontation and drama, I could have made better decisions and clung to better thoughts.

I want to feel angry when I feel like I am being discriminated against. I do not want to feel like “It’s okay.” I want to be open to the discomfort that comes with taking a stand and speaking my peace. These are essential emotions. I don’t want to feel good about these circumstances. I don’t want to pretend to be okay to avoid these negative feelings.

In those moments, I want to believe: This is an opportunity for me to be honest and develop my relationship with this human. I am not a victim, I am simply shining a light on the situation.

I am not trading my truth for your comfort.

The fear-based, glossing-it-over approach is not working. What does work is looking at people’s actions and challenging those actions where you see them. Rather than focusing on the person’s intent and formulating thoughts from there, shift your focus to the larger goal. I can address this and be honest with this person about what I think about what they’ve said or done. Demeaning words and actions, even ones that lack explicit malice, are indicative of tired thinking that begs to be challenged. If we keep condoning the actions and focusing only on the intentions, we sacrifice diversity of thought. We sacrifice honesty in our relationships.

In my experience, none of the people I have worked with were intentionally sexist/racist/homophobic. However, in my experience, many of those colleagues made sexist/racist/homophobic comments. They did not harbor hate but they did harbor ignorance and unacknowledged bias.

As humans in this world, we all have a role to play in fostering the evolution of thought. While that might mean we have to place ourselves in uncomfortable situations and call out actions that we know are not mal-intended. Unless we’re honest with people about how their words or actions impact our abilities to show up, to stand up, to speak up, we will never make the progress that our world so desperately needs.

Having trouble finding the words to speak your truth? Don’t make the same mistakes I made. Develop the tools to stand up for yourself and those around you. Coach with me and let’s make this journey together.

We need in every bay and community a group of angelic troublemakers. The proof that one truly believes is in action – Bayard Rustin

Photo by Markus Spiske from Pexels

Wanting it to be Different

I have been thinking a lot about investments and how crucial it is that we care for and nurture the investments that we make in our life. Not only the investments we consciously make but also the things that are important to us – relationships, education, health, etc. We all know that we have to invest time and energy in what’s important to us but many of us forget to apply that logic to ourselves.

When we find ourselves wanting things to be different, there is only one way to bust out of that plateau and build a life that will blow our own mind: intentional investment of our time, energy, and resources. Because wanting it, is never enough.

I recently invested in a personal trainer for the first time in my life. I’ve always been really fit and active but I finally got to a point where my health and fitness seemed to plateau. My weight wasn’t changing, my body wasn’t looking any differently, I wasn’t excited about working out; I realized that it was time for me to mix it up. I went to the gym anxious about the meeting and not committed to purchasing anything. As someone who’s always been into health and fitness, I figured that they could just give me some pointers and I can figure out the rest from there.

As we made our way through the session, I had a rude awakening. The workout was grueling and painful (and moderately humiliating!!!). At the end of the session, I realized that maybe I didn’t have it all figured out. Maybe it would make sense to bring in some support. So we sat down in the cubicle in the middle of the gym floor and started crunching the numbers. And I was completely floored! It was significantly more expensive than I had expected, and it was significantly more money than I had intended to spend on that particular afternoon. At that moment, I realized I was experiencing the same thing that many of my clients experience:

I wanted to change but I was hesitant to commit to doing the hard work.

My reptile brain was freaking out, objecting to this new possibility….when will I find the time…it’s too expensive…I can do it on my own…I don’t need this….it won’t work…, etc. As my brain spun out of control, I realized in that moment what was happening. I realized that it wasn’t really about the money, it was about my level of commitment to making an actual change…to signing up to do the hard thing…to spending a ton of money on myself in furtherance of a goal. To spending a ton of money knowing that I would HAVE TO show up to justify the expense! I didn’t actually believe that it wouldn’t work. I had clear evidence I wasn’t figuring it out on my own and I knew that I could find the time. None of my brain’s thoughts were the truth.

The REAL truth was that I wanted the transformation but committing to the work was freaking me out.

At that moment, I gave my reptile brain the middle finger and signed up. It was something I wanted and this was the first step to making good on that commitment to myself.

After I left the session several dollars lighter than I began, I realized that this is the challenge that many of my clients go through. No one gets excited about spending tons of money on personal training. People don’t get excited about spending thousands of dollars in therapy sessions. And many of the people I encounter are not excited about spending money on a coaching relationship. Why?

Because we’ve gotten along on our own for so long.

What more could these people possibly offer?

It’s not sexy. It’s not fun. It’s not a new purse that we can show off to our friends. It’s something that will require more of us. It requires us to put our money where our mouth is. To do something more than WANT THE CHANGE. Do we want it badly enough to submit to a process that will demand more of us and that will push us to take a hard look at where we really are? After I left my training session, I realized that just maybe I wasn’t in as good of shape as I thought I was.

Just maybe I had some things that I needed to learn. And just maybe I need a little bit of humility about what I was capable of and how badly I really wanted things to change.

When we choose to make an investment in ourselves or not make an investment in ourselves, it is never really about the money or the time. It’s really about our humility and our willingness to recognize that we can’t do it all alone; that we aren’t getting there on our own.

I like to think about our investment in our professional lives and careers, in the same way, I think about buying a house. In both scenarios, we spend THOUSANDS of dollars on the investment. Both investments will provide for us and our families, will protect us, and give us stability. But the main difference is that when we buy a home, no one ever believes “that will be the last money I spend on that!” We know there will be upkeep and maintenance costs. We will make improvements and changes. When it comes to our homes, it seems we are always spending money to care for them and improve them.

But when it comes to our careers, we are much more reluctant to spend our own money on upkeep and maintenance. It is no wonder that for so many of us, our careers are run down and abandoned houses, left to wear away on their original foundations. Just like a run-down, decrepit house, treating your investment in that manner will never provide any return!

If you want your career and your life to blossom, you have to care for your original investment.

Professional athletes are the best in the world at what they do and they all have coaches. They acknowledge that there is room for growth, there is value in the different perspectives that those coaches offer. In order to create the life of your dreams, you must be open to the possibility that you aren’t seeing everything clearly. That just like me and my personal trainer, maybe you have more room to grow if only you had someone to push you.

I’m here and ready to push you out of your plateau. Are you in?

Do You Have “It”?

I was recently coaching a new client and I was explaining to her why I do this work. For those of you who have not heard this rambling, let me summarize. When I was at my first, nationwide law firm out of law school, the shine eventually wore off. I was working all the time, struggling to find balance, and I became incredibly unhappy. At the time, I didn’t have the tools that I have now and I didn’t understand how to “fix” my situation. So I left. I cracked open the exit door just a few inches and I was quickly drawn out by another opportunity. I was hired by a rival firm to build a practice group from the ground up.

At that time in my life, I was roughly 29 years old. I had been practicing for about four(ish) years. I had a solid foundation and I knew enough to be dangerous but to start a whole practice group–pure silliness. What kind of maniacs would take that risk on me?! Despite it all, I sold them on the idea and I gratefully leapt from the arms of one task-master to another.

As I settled in and started to take an inventory of everything that went along with “running” a practice, I realized that I was going to need some support. I already felt myself bristling at the tired mentalities and structures that I disliked at my last firm and I could tell that many of the challenges I had run away from at my last firm would be waiting for me in this new place. So I hired a coach–a female attorney who had successfully built her own firm. I wanted someone who got it. I wanted someone who understood the subtext, the struggles, and the environment without my having to explain it.

(If you are interested in that kind of support, grab a free session now.)

In working with her, I was able to see and deconstruct many of the patterns that were following me into my new firm. I was able to shift into a different mentality — a space of confidence and unwavering belief that I COULD do it. That I did have what it takes. We worked through the imposter syndrome that many of us carry with us especially those of us that didn’t come from professional, college-educated homes.

Working with my coach, I was able to build a practice that was bursting at the seams within one year. Within one year, I had so much work and garnered the confidence and trust of so many large and demanding companies that I was drowning in billable hours. We hired two partners from opposing firms to come and join me…partners that were 20 and 30 years my senior and had been practicing for many years to great success without the oversight and wisdom offered by this 30-something little girl. So naturally, with that change, came all sorts of new challenges.

During that time, I was traveling all over the country selling our services to clients. Every day, my calendar was jammed with breakfasts, lunches, and happy hours where I was selling and schmoozing without end. I was asked to teach at a business school and then to also teach at a law school and I was constantly presenting at one conference or another.

My practice was thriving and I had done what I set out to do. I loved every minute of it.

The last time I related this story to a client, she asked me whether I thought my success was attributable to skills I had developed or whether I just had “it.” “Do you really think that is something I can do? I just don’t think I’m the type,” she explained.

This, people, is why I do this. There is nothing magical about my success.

“I am nothing special, of this I am sure.” – Nicholas Sparks

The only reason people aren’t going out and creating the life of their dreams is that they believe they can’t do it. Because they, like this client, allow themselves to consider that there is some innate “it” and you either have it or you don’t.

Let’s level set here. I am an introvert and I do not love to speak publicly. Prior to joining that firm, I hadn’t spoken publicly since COLLEGE. At my prior firm, I wrote the speeches, I prepped the slides but I was the silent partner — speaking was never permitted for associates. I was good at my job but I was not (and am not) any kind of a legal prodigy. Aside from leading bar crawls during my sorority days, I had never “led” anyone other than a secretary and a paralegal. I had no idea how to set budgets or project income, how to “sell” legal services, how to talk to partners who weren’t pulling their weight, and the idea of presenting my business plan to a Boardroom full of men made me sick to my stomach.

If there was some special “it” that made this stuff easy, I didn’t receive that gift.

I created my success because I INVESTED in myself. I put in the work. I allowed my coach to push me to do things that made me very uncomfortable. I got really good at uncomfortable conversations, I got really practiced at humility, and I learned how to “sell” myself authentically. Does it come easily now? No. It still doesn’t. But I have done it so many times despite the discomfort, I understand now that’s just part of the process for me.

I came to understand that in order to create a different career for myself, I had to do things differently. I had to take time to actually work on myself and that meant I had to get comfortable spending my hard-earned money on the fluffy stuff. I had to invest my money differently. I needed to acknowledge that, in order to create a different future, I was going to have to completely revamp my approach to practicing and that meant getting a coach on my team.

She pushed me to do things I didn’t want to do; things I WOULDN’T have done but for my respect and commitment to her. She helped me to see things about myself that were holding me back and she helped me to find my voice in a world where many of us just put our heads down and “accept” the legal profession with all its warts.

I wanted to share this with you today because I want to dispel this notion that we can’t all have the lives of our dreams. There is no magical “it.” You have what it takes and we have to stop considering that we aren’t enough. Instead, I implore you to consider —

What if you are wrong — what if you have EXACTLY what it takes?

Quick Fixes

We all want to be able to “fix” the problems that we see in our lives. Once we understand what is causing chaos and suffering, of course we want to fix it. It’s only natural to want to resolve it as soon as possible. What we overlook in this worldview is that when it comes to ourselves there is no such thing as a quick fix. Not only does it take time and effort to transform your relationship with yourself and reconfigure your automatic thinking,

The desire for a quick fix truly ignores the most important work that must be done.

Even before the pandemic, I would characterize myself as a bit of a reclusive introvert. I love my time alone. And I have managed to find a partner whose 24-hour shifts afford me ample opportunity to enjoy my time alone at home. What this also means is that I tend to avoid going out in public if I don’t have to. Again this was still me prior to the pandemic…now it just seems I have more people in my club. I have all my groceries delivered and I do as much shopping as possible online. I have my favorite liquor store delivery resources and my go-to grocery delivery resources. There are very few things that require me to actually leave my house. Everything is available at the click of a button. If I want an extra bottle of wine for my dinner party it can be at my door in less than an hour. If I wanna get extra pool floaties for my dogs I can order them on Amazon and have them at my house tomorrow. Feeling like sushi at 11:00 PM on a Tuesday? No problem, it will be there in an hour.

In today’s society, we are so accustomed to getting what we want immediately without having to wait for it. We are so wired and used to the quick fixes; however, there are aspects of our life that are not conducive to a quick fix no matter how much we want them to be.

This desire for a quick fix often comes up when I find a client in a rush to make a big decision or implement a big change. They just want to get it done, they want to file for divorce, quit their job, rip the band-aid ASAP.

Whenever you find yourself acting in a rush or a frantic kind of manner I urge you to stop and ask: what am I trying to get away from?

What is it in my current experience that I’m wanting to stop?

For many of us, we will experience transitions between jobs at some point during our professional careers. Once we open our minds to the possibility of leaving and start engaging in the search, the desire to leave becomes incredibly persuasive. It almost develops this weird urgency especially when your present state is unhappy, toxic, or stressful. We consider leaving and then suddenly are brains scream YES, this is the answer to all our prayers. This will solve everything. Let’s get out of here and NOOOOWWWWW!!

This drive to leave is your biology trying to keep you safe, running toward the closest exit. Your brain is not loving the current vibes and just wants it to stop — this sense of urgency happens because we don’t want to experience our current experience any longer. But when we act from an urgent panicked space we don’t often make the best decisions

Furthermore, we foreclose the opportunity to learn what’s available to us at that moment.

Whenever we are experiencing something negative that’s so intense we are driven to run away from it and rush into something new. When we do this without questioning the response, we ignore the pattern that we’re creating for ourselves. That negative experience is largely created by ourselves and our thinking. If we don’t utilize that opportunity to explore what’s really going on and work to clean up the panic, we overlook an opportunity to grow. You develop a pattern of running away from discomfort instead of facing it.

Anytime we feel rushed to make a decision or execute a plan it’s often because we’re running away from some type of negative emotion and feeling. Is that the kind of pattern you want to create for yourself? You will be challenged again; you will be uncomfortable again; wouldn’t it be better to develop skills to experience those emotions rather than run away from them? Whatever thinking you contributed to your current negative space will absolutely come with you into the next.

There is never better than here.

Because where you go, there YOU are.

Frantic acting and that desire to get out as quickly as possible assumes that once you get out, things will be better….that THERE will be better than HERE, that the grass will be greener on the other side. That is never the case. Your challenges will be waiting for you, no matter where you go because they are challenges you are meant to work through. Running away from them won’t change that.

While the fast order, quick-fix society that we find ourselves living in certainly has its perks, there are aspects of our life that will require the heavy lifting from us. While it’s certainly OK to reach for the quick fix at 11:00 PM on a Wednesday when you really want some sashimi, it’s not OK to run away from a challenging conversation into a new job with the expectation that you have “fixed” the problem.

Quick fixes in our emotional lives are never truly fixes, they are just delays.

To truly resolve anything in our personal lives, we have to dig into the ugly. We have to dig into the thinking that contributed to our present reality and try to understand it. Only then can we deconstruct the pattern and truly make “there” better than here but only because we have done the work to show up differently there.


Photo by ♾ MathDudels.com from Pexels

Trouble Being Still?

As women and as attorneys we are really good at executing. We multitask, we take on more than we should, we always say yes and we are often uncomfortable saying no. Admittedly there is a part of us that thrives in the chaos of practicing law. The unexpected will happen. Things will fall apart. Every best-laid plan will implode. From a biological perspective, this calls us to spend most of our waking moments living from our primitive brains. We’re always in fight or flight. Putting out fires. Running from one drama to the next. And we are really good at it. We have flexed the chaos muscle for so long that sometimes I find my clients have forgotten how to simply

be.

still.

Once we decided that we wanted to be attorneys, the journey was not that difficult. There’s a list. There are instructions. There is a long checklist of things that must be accomplished and done in order for this dream to take place. Once we get our first job, the instructions become even simpler. Say yes to all the work that comes to you. Do a good job. Don’t make waves. Just keep executing and don’t ask questions. So we spend even more years continuing to live in this fight or flight mode where we just move from one challenge to the next. Inevitably, we come to a crossroads where we catch our breath for a moment and start to wonder

what’s next?

Many attorneys come to me for coaching support because they don’t know what to do next. They are overwhelmed with the possibilities for their life and they want to know how to figure out where to focus their energies now that they have come so far. Having a law degree affords us many opportunities as to what we can do with our life. We can go down the partnership track…. counsel track….teaching at a law school….go in-house….go into business…..start our own firm…. When we start looking at all the options available to us it can easily become overwhelming.

But when we find ourselves stressing about where are we “supposed to” go next, the more important question we can be asking ourselves is

Is there anything wrong with just being where we are without having a plan for what’s next?

I recently found myself in a coaching session with a woman who was overwhelmed with the possibilities for her life and the decisions that needed to be made at some point in the future. In the future. Not now. There was nothing pressing. Despite this fact, she was incredibly overwhelmed and uncomfortable with not knowing what her long-term plan looked like. After exploring various possibilities and trying to get a sense of what resonated most closely with her, I finally asked her what if nothing is wrong here?

At that moment everything seemed to click for her and she realized that this need to have a plan and this desire to know the end result was creating a tremendous amount of discomfort for her. She had spent her entire life and her entire career living in fight or flight mode getting things done and now that she had found some space to breathe, she was uncomfortable just being where she was. No pressing decisions. Nothing urgent that needed to be done. Just a regular job. No family matters to attend to. No drama. No chaos. The calm following the storm of chaos that had comprised the early years of her career was causing her a tremendous amount of anxiety. She was uncomfortable just being in this space and not having a plan. In that quiet space, her brain wasn’t accustomed to being still, instead, it kept telling her that something wasn’t right, it needed a plan…she should be doing something more.

All those shoulds are indicative of how we value ourselves. Those shoulds come from our historical patterns where achievements and checking things off the list meant that we were doing well. It meant that we were good enough and that we were successful.

But when the list runs out and the goals have been achieved, we are left in this open space where we have to reexamine our worthiness.

In that space and on those plateaus where our brain starts telling us all the things we should be doing, it reveals a need for us to reexamine our worthiness and where we place our value. It is not a time to create a new goal and a new plan and something else to strive for. There will come a day where you will run out of plans you will run out of checklists and you will only be left with yourself. Those plateaus and spaces between the items on our checklists afford us the opportunity to work on that relationship because ultimately, that is truly the only relationship that matters. Those spaces force us to stop running and take a look in the mirror and that can be terrifying.

(Sound familiar? Grab a free session now and get support during your times of plateau.)

When our brains are used to living in panicked, fight or flight mode, it can be difficult to understand WHO we are if we are not busy accomplishing. It can be difficult to recognize our value if we aren’t busy checking things off a list. What’s more, for many of us it’s been so long since we’ve had the opportunity to explore that aloneness. To really consider our relationship with ourselves. We have lost sight of that relationship and so when we have reached this summit and find ourselves alone with no one other than ourselves, we panic. We feel like we have to develop some other goal and something else to strive for so that we don’t have to sit here in this stillness and take a long hard look at who we really are when we’re not focused outwardly. It’s easier to have something to be striving toward; it’s harder to do the work on yourself. It’s harder to challenge that voice that’s telling you that you should be doing more you and that you should be wanting more.

That’s the beauty of coming to these plateaus.

That’s the beauty of the stillness.

It reminds us that we’re not a long list of things to do. We are not achievements and we are not defined by our long-term plans. Where are so much more than that and once our current plan reaches that plateau rather than jumping into a new plan I urge you…no, I implore you to take that time to be with yourself and learn how to be still. At the end of the day when the race is over the only person standing next to you will be yourself. Those plateaus afford us the opportunity to rekindle that relationship and learn how to see our innate worthiness, without all the fluff.

Sometimes it’s okay to just be where you are.

If you find yourself uncomfortable taking an hour to relax on the couch or uneasy that you don’t know whether or not you want to make a partner it’s an opportunity to ask yourself

What is wrong with just being where I’m at? What is it about this place that makes me so uncomfortable? What judgments am I lobbying at myself when I am not frantically achieving and checking things off my list?

That my friends is truly where the work begins.

Wanting It Is Not Enough – Part 2

This is the second of a two-part series on getting it done. In part one, we explored our baggage and took a hard look at our list of “To-Dos.” The key takeaway was simply this: It is not enough to want it. First, you have to decide whether it is a priority. If it’s not a priority, put it on the list for a future date and move on.

What I challenge my clients to do is to take all their wants and to-dos and write them down. We have to start getting very serious about the things that we ask ourselves and the things that we tell ourselves we want to accomplish in his life. Many times the things that we put on this to-do list and allow to pile on the pressure are things that we don’t really want. Pipe dreams. Things that we really aren’t committed to doing but we are really good at telling ourselves we need to do. We have to do. We should do. None of this is true.

When we start getting really honest with ourselves about the bag of burdens that we carry, and we eliminate the pipe dreams, we are left with what is really important at this moment — our priorities.

Now, the second step is to decide to either develop a plan (or stop carrying that junk around).

We have to develop a plan. This is what distinguishes people who accomplish everything we want from those who spend their lives carrying around a long list of to-do’s and dreams.

It’s not difficult to accomplish things in life; the only difficulty is following through on your commitments to yourself.

You must first sit down and get very clear about what you want, develop a plan to get there, and follow through. For me, most of my planning requires me to sit down and focus on my calendar and what is on my plate in any given week. The only thing that makes it on to my calendar are priority items. Everything else is up for debate and the whims of my fancies once everything else is accomplished. I might decide during an afternoon where I have two hours of free, unallocated time to seriously consider where to hang that chandelier. But that’s for me to decide; that’s for me to determine how I want to use that free time and whether or not I want to look at any of my other low-hanging wants in those moments.

Need help getting clarity around your to-do list and taking actions on your goals? Get free support now, you have so much to gain.

My to-do list is not something that I need to carry around and remind myself of every day to use as a sword against myself. Instead, my calendar reflects my priorities. If I want to go to the gym two times a week, the only thing I have to do is put it on my calendar and allocate the time of preparation beforehand to ensure that I can accomplish it. I anticipate the obstacles. I know that my brain is going to tell me that my bed is so cozy, my muscles are sore from the last workout, or I didn’t sleep that well last night.

My brain is going to offer me all sorts of reasons why I can’t do this.

In these situations, time can also be a barrier. I have three dogs and oftentimes one of them wants to go outside and then the other one will want to go out and then suddenly they want to be fed at 6:30 in the morning rather than waiting for me to get home and feed them after the gym. Never mind the fact that I can never figure out what to wear to the gym and that constant agony of “I have nothing to wear today!” drags on the entire process in the morning making me feel hopeless before I even get out the door.

I know these obstacles will come I know these challenges will happen. So I anticipate them and I strategize around them. I plan my workout clothes the night before I decide whether I am going to feed the dogs before I leave or whether I will feed them when I get home and I stick to that decision. If I decide the dogs need to go out before I leave, it is the first thing I do when I get up before I start getting ready to go to the gym. I have to know the things that are going to pop up to try and keep me stuck. This is not complicated. This is not rocket science.

We identify obstacles to our goals and we strategize around them. We expect the worst so that we can be at our best.

What does that look like? All it looks like is deciding how you’re going to get it done and deciding what might keep you from acting. From there, we can strategize how to guarantee the accomplishment and ensure that we are in the best possible position to accomplish that task and check it off on our to-do list. We can then give ourselves a pat on the back and consider it a job well done.

When we allow our days to operate on a whim out of control and without planning, it makes it more difficult for us to tackle the things that we really do want to accomplish in our life.

It might seem overly regimented and stringent to put all these things on your calendar and live by that. But it’s actually freedom. I know that everything I want to accomplish in my life I will accomplish and I don’t have to worry, or stress, or stew about it. I just have to show up. I have it on my calendar. I have a plan. I have a strategy. I just have to do what it tells me and not question it. That’s all it takes. My days are more efficient, and my focus is clearer when my head is no longer jumbled with all of the things that I want to do and all of the shoulds bouncing around making me feel terrible.

For any day, I know exactly what I will accomplish, what I have accomplished, and what I can do next.

That is what it means to do more than just “want” it, because wanting it is simply not enough.

In order to transform our life from a list of dreams to a list of accomplishments, all we have to do is sit down, plan, strategize, then show up. From there they only this you have to do is honor yourself and honor your commitments.