Firms: Finding the Right Fit

In my legal career, I spent countless hours interviewing candidates trying to fish the good from the bad, and, in other instances, trying to “sell” them on the firm. Maybe we needed their specialty, maybe I wanted a fellow alumnae at the firm, maybe I just wanted another woman or a diverse candidate, or maybe I just really liked the person and wanted to hang out. Listen, hiring partners and committees make hiring decisions based upon a whole host of dumb, subjective reasons. Human beings will typically gravitate towards others like themselves and law firms are no different. Having worked at both a national law firm and a smaller, mid-size corporate firm, as well as handful of small 2-3 person shops, I have experienced countless strange interviews and had my fair share of bad hires. While I certainly don’t have the silver bullet for ensuring a good hire, I have more thoughts on what candidates should be doing to vet law firms. When I was teaching in a law school, the students often asked me how to know if a firm was a good fit.

How do you get your interviewer to pull back the curtain and tell you how things really work without all the sales-ey pitching?

Here are few suggestions from my own experience and from those candidates who successfully got me to “spill the beans”, so to speak.

Ask about diversity and exit rates

If diversity and inclusion are important to you, and they should be, that is something you need to sort out before you take the job. Law firms are notoriously terrible at diversity and inclusion. Law firms are also notorious for having plenty of smart people who will devote time and energy into dressing up their warts. Most firms can easily tout their diversity awards and achievements and minority representation and show you a long list of “diverse” organizations they support and how much D&I training they spent loads of money on. That means absolutely nothing. Do not be fooled by the smoke and mirrors. The only way you will truly know whether a firm is a dinosaur promoting only like-minded individuals from the same demographic group is to start asking questions. Here’s a few examples:

In the last 3 years, what percentage of your attorneys who left the firm were women or minorities?

These numbers do not lie. If the rate is abnormally high, run. People leave firms for all sorts of reasons. In my experience, if there is a significant percentage of women leaving a firm, it is not because they all just “found the opportunity of a lifetime” or found an in-house opportunity they “just couldn’t pass up” or their partner found a job in another city. Those excuses and explanations are all break-up speak–“it’s not you, it’s me…” Those are things attorneys tell leadership when they are fed up and leave, because at that point, what good will it do to tell them the ugly truth? Besides, by the time you get to that point, you’ve probably already had the conversation 100 times and they ignored you each and every time. Why would they listen now?

Here are a few questions that might assist this evaluation:

Where do most of your candidates/new hires come from?

What law schools do you recruit at? Why or why not?

Where did most of your current attorneys attend law school?

See if you can find someone who used to work there.

You will have to lean on your network or your law school career center for this one. People who have left will be the only ones able to tell you if they truly took off because they found their “dream job.” Take them to lunch and explain your situation and any concerns you might have. If they know you are picking up on some of the firm’s true underlying issues, they will likely confirm or deny your impressions.

Meet separately with attorneys you can relate to

If you are still interested in considering the job, ask to take some of their female/minority associates to lunch or, ideally, drinks. Get them away from the firm and away from the partners/supervisors. Use this opportunity to see what their life is like, how the partners work, and how the firm operates. Ask them for recommendations as to who else you should meet with – other attorneys who have left or other attorneys currently at the firm. Get them talking. Questions to consider:

If you had the opportunity to work in (whatever practice group you are applying to), would you do it?

 Law firms are like small fiefdoms. Each practice group or office location likely operates pretty independently and according to its own norms. Most firms have a few practice groups that are notorious for destroying associates and churning through staff. Figure out which groups those are and ensure you don’t get stuck in one of those, unless you really want to learn some unnecessarily hard lessons.

Questions to consider:

In your experience, why have others chosen to leave the firm? Do you see any trends or common reasons?

What is one thing you think the firm needs to improve upon?

Have you found that people are willing to help you learn and guide your development?

Tell me about your typical day/month? When do you arrive at work and when do you leave? What about weeknights and weekends?

Do your diligence

Check online AND AROUND TOWN  for any reviews—social media or on other websites. Negative reviews of law firms likely signal a larger issue. Be sure to take all complaints with a grain of salt, but if your social media searches and casual inquiries reveal a barrage of negativity, be wary.

Check out the firm website. Is it up to date? Are the postings 3 months old? How about blog postings? How important is it to you to be part of a firm that has a sophisticated online presences? Not only will the website be your first introduction to your clients when you join the firm, but for now, it may indicate how much support you will get to market yourself and your business. Does the firm appear to have a strong marketing department and marketing presence? It may also indicate how much of your time you may be required to spend preparing blog posts for yourself or your partners (read: nonbillable time burdens).

Look at the attorney profiles. What is the attorney demographic like? Do they all look the same? Did most of them attend the same law schools? Do not be fooled by this. If the attorneys all seem to be the same person with only minor variations, and none of those attorneys are similar to you, take it as it is. No matter what they say they are doing on the D&I front, it is obviously not working. That indicates a MUCH bigger, underlying issue and that is likely a general lack of buy-in by the firm about D&I. Do not be persuaded otherwise and give some long and serious thought about whether you want to be the “other” and whether you believe this homogeneous group will truly be open to you (as a person) or your ideas (as an attorney).

In the end there is no perfect law firm and you will always find room for improvement. The key is being able to identify those shortcomings before you start so that you aren’t blindsided. The goal should be to find a firm whose shortcomings are ones you are willing to tolerate. In summary:

  1. Ask the hard questions
  2. See if you can find someone who worked there
  3. Isolate candidates that you can relate to
  4. Do your diligence:
    1. Check their reviews — online and around town
    2. Check out the firm website
  5. Do not seek perfection!

Are you looking for a new firm or your first legal position? Coach with me and lean on my years of experience working in and recruiting to large corporate law firms. Let my past mistakes benefit your future.

Mr. Personality

I recently attended a retreat where the group was asked to go through personality evaluations so that we could begin to better understand the group and how we all interacted with each other. At the end of the examination, there were four categories of personalities:

  • Controlling
  • Supporting
  • Promoting
  • Analyzing

I ultimately found myself classified somewhere between Analyzing and Supporting. I was a good planner, thorough and organized but I was also equally relationship-oriented, understanding and empathetic.

After we had all been categorized, sorted, branded and shamed for our shortcomings, we started going through exercises to examine how our personality types interacted with those in the other categories. At one point, the group was asked to “guess” where they thought each other should be classified. This was a bit of an odd task given that most of us didn’t really know each other that well. For the most part, we only had a general sense of each other’s occupation and role within the company. Not surprisingly, the fact that everyone knew I was an attorney resulted in me being classified as Controlling by those peers. It was not surprising to me as I too would imagine that most lawyers demonstrate various aspects of the Controlling personality which was described as taking charge, decisive and bottom-line focused. Made sense to me despite the fact that, like all professions, attorneys come from all walks of life and personality styles. While I could certainly flex those skills when needed, it wasn’t where I really wanted to live 24/7.

As part of the process, I started categorizing the people in the my life — the good and the bad. I imagined the people in my life who had challenged me professionally and I categorized them too. I found some interesting patterns. Oddly enough, everyone in my life with whom I had significant professional struggles fell into the category of Controlling. As I read further through the description of the Controlling personality, a few things struck me.

Controlling personalities tend to be impatient, too dominant, insensitive, demanding and unwilling to let go.

In contrast, one of the drawbacks of a Supporting personality (e.g., me!) is that they struggle dealing with critical or aggressive people. I sat there dumbfounded. I could not believe the intersection of those personalities! It’s no wonder that I struggled so much in my past with those people. We were literally oil and water and our drawbacks triggered the others’. Our communications styles are dramatically different and our weaknesses just inflame each other.

I spent the evening really working through this realization and examining how this knowledge could have changed things for me in my past. Knowing that these individuals were simply acting in accordance with their dominant personality characteristics could have helped me disconnect from their aggression, demands, and insensitivities. These people were not singling me out for this treatment and it had no bearing whatsoever on me or my value. The problem was that I had allowed myself to believe that their aggression and antics were about me.

I made it all mean that I was something lesser, that I was an idiot, that they didn’t like me, they didn’t respect me, they didn’t think I was good enough, etc.

I was miserable because I interpreted this behavior as something negative about myself. At the time, I couldn’t help but believe it was all about me.

The problem was that I had allowed myself to believe that their aggression and antics were about me. I made it all mean that I was something lesser, that I was an idiot, that they didn’t like me, they didn’t respect me, they didn’t think I was good enough, etc. I was miserable because I interpreted this behavior as something negative about myself. At the time, I couldn’t help but believe it was all about me.

In the end, it all comes down to our thoughts and how we interpret the situations and the people in our lives. However, it doesn’t hurt to have a little science behind that awareness and appreciate the fact that we all have different personality tendencies that will drive our behaviors. It’s just one more reason to affirm to yourself every day that the actions and words of others have nothing to do with you and everything to do with the other person. The only thing that truly matters is:

What are you making it mean?

As an attorney, I am no stranger to difficult personalities. In my coaching work I have honed the skills to work through our issues with others to truly turn the corner and stop making it all about us. Coach with me and let me show you how.

Sometimes, Life Stinks (here’s why that’s a good thing)

Lately, I have been spending a lot of time focusing on the notion that life is supposed to be rough, 50% of the time. It brings to my mind the ancient Yin Yang symbol. The Yin Yang can be interpreted, literally to mean “shady side” and “sunny side” and stands for the idea that two opposite dualities create the balanced whole. The Tao Te Ching describes the same:

“When people see things as beautiful, ugliness is created. When people see things as good, evil is created.”  One cannot exist without the other.

In our modern lives, these ancient concepts mean that there is a higher purpose for our negative experiences and emotions. If that is so, why is it that so many of us spend our lives trying to avoid and resist negative emotions? In honor of this concept, I’ve been spending more time examining negative emotions in my life. Specifically, I have been trying to better understand what it means to experience negative emotion – where is it located in my body? What do I do when I feel that emotion? How do I act? How do I show up? What is going on in my head that is creating that feeling?

One of the most common misconceptions so many of us have about our lives is that everything should be good – better – happier.

Everyone just wants to be happy. Your marriage should be happy, parents should be supportive, family members should be loving. Abuse should not happen, infidelity should not occur, etc. These thoughts that our lives “should be” happier are toxic. They cause us to resist the bad bits of life, to struggle against negative experiences and emotions, to bury them and avoid them. When we are feeling upset about life, we tell ourselves It wasn’t supposed to be this way. This was not supposed to happen. Or we make ourselves the victim of our circumstances. I was the victim of abuse. My horrible boss fired me. None of these actions or thoughts create happiness. They just perpetuate the misery until it resurfaces again.

So what is so bad about these emotions that we have to run from them and bury them? What is so bad about being angry? What is so bad about feeling sad? It’s just a vibration in our bodies. It stems from our thoughts about neutral circumstances.

What so many of us struggle to see is that negative emotions and experiences are the foundation of a happy life.

If we didn’t know the pains of loss, we wouldn’t be able to understand and experience love. If we hadn’t experienced anxiety, we wouldn’t be able to appreciate or even identify feelings of peacefulness. In other words, if our lives were 100% positive all the time, that positivity would lose its value. It would no longer mean anything to us. We would not be able to see those positive experiences and emotions for what there are – they are a departure from sadness, loss, guilt, fear, etc. Happiness and positive emotions exist only in the absence of the negative and vice versa. Yin and yang.

So why, then, is it that so many of us spend our lives trying to avoid negative emotions and feelings? What are we so afraid of? I have clients that want so much more in their lives but they aren’t willing to take action because they are afraid they will fail.

They are afraid of what the failure will feel like.

In order to avoid embarrassment, guilt and shame, they simply choose not to take action at all. Because they are afraid of those negative vibrations in their bodies. Many of us are driven by avoidance of those negative emotions. We buffer them with work, exercise, alcohol, blame, etc. just to try and create a jolt of happiness or distraction to cover up the negative emotions underneath. Others make themselves victims rather than face their negative feelings of embarrassment or shame. They never truly own the fact that they are feeling embarrassed or shameful and can’t recognize that it’s okay to experience those emotions—it’s part of the human experience. They make excuses and buffer so that they can forget and ignore the feelings. But this never works! It just delays the inevitable meltdown.

Similarly, some of my clients are dreaming big. They want more for themselves – bigger houses, more money, more prestigious jobs, etc. When we work through those dreams, what we ultimately find is that they want those things because of how they believe they will feel once they achieve those things. Feelings of worthiness, pride, peace, etc.  Only once they achieve those goals will they allow themselves to think positively about themselves and experience those emotions. So they strive toward those goals, looking for an external source of internal positivity.

In the end, whether you are acting towards your dreams or not acting towards you dreams, you are being driven by your feelings –feelings you want to have or feelings you are avoiding.

Now consider that everything you feel is the product of your thoughts. You can choose to think thoughts that create peace, pride or worthiness. You don’t need to wait for an external event to think thoughts that will generate those emotions. One the other hand, if your thoughts are creating feelings of worthlessness or shame, how is that so scary? It’s just a thought creating sensations in your body. Those thoughts are not truths and those feelings are not going to hurt you. 

Now this doesn’t mean that we should automatically replace all of our negative thinking with positive thoughts so that we can feel happy all the time. That is directly inconsistent with the premise that life is 50-50 and that we can’t have the good without the bad.

But what is so essential is being able to accept that sometimes you will feel negative emotions and that is okay.

What’s more, you recognize your negative emotions and positive emotions and learn what thoughts are creating those outcomes. We can gain so much understanding about our lives and our experiences if we can become better stewards of our minds and our emotions. This doesn’t mean that we replace negative thoughts with positive thoughts, what it means is that we become intimate acquaintances with negative emotions. That we learn the thoughts that are generating those emotions so that we can learn more about ourselves. Certainly at some point you may be able to start adjusting those thoughts to stop creating negative emotions but at that point, you will have a deeper understanding of those negative emotions and they will no longer hold you back. Once you become intimate acquaintances with anxiety, for instance, you will no longer fear that emotion, it will no longer control you. You will be able to recognize it and choose how you move and act when you are feeling the emotion of anxiety. You will reclaim the driver’s seat.

For example, Sunday evenings are often anxiety-ridden for me. On Sunday nights, my weekend to-do list resurfaces and I start feeling guilty about all the things I did not accomplish over the weekend. Then, I inevitably tell myself that instead of relaxing with my partner, I “should” tackle a few more things on my list. Then I start feeling guilty about my lack of accomplishments, and then I start feeling guilty for not being present with my partner, and then I beat myself up for my inability to relax, and thus the cycle begins! Whenever I am feeling this way, I snap at my partner and criticize him, I pull away from him and don’t show up as the partner I want to be. Then, after I have sufficiently beaten myself down, I get up and started running around, an anxiety-fueled speed demon trying to get 10,000 things done at once so I can feel like I am worthy and productive. All the while this goes on, I beat myself up, telling myself what a terrible partner I am and how I should be better to him, and I should be more organized, and around and around it goes.

Lately, I have been focusing on simply sitting with this anxiety. I know it is coming and when it does, I just sit with it and feel it in my body….a tightness in my chest, a dull headache and dizziness, a slightly racing heart. I just sit still and feel those sensations in my body. As I sit there, I observe the thoughts swirling around my brain and resist the urge to spring up and get to action in an attempt to make myself feel better (buffering!). Instead, I just sit there, watch the thoughts, feel the sensations in my body and introduce myself to my friend, anxiety. Hello, my friend, I see that you have arrived once again. That’s okay. Come sit with me awhile…

It has been transformational to observe this from a removed perspective. I had no idea how strong the urge to act and buffer against those negative emotions was for me. I was so used to letting those thoughts and feelings switch me into auto-pilot. Since starting this work, I have been able to overcome the visceral urge to jump up and do something to “make myself feel better.” Instead, I just identify all the negative things in my mind that were making me feel terrible. As I sat there and watched them, it was like they lost their power. I no longer felt anxious or scared and the urge to act slipped away like an afterthought. The chatter in my brain dimmed. I was still left with my knowledge of those negative thoughts but the power of that emotion of anxiety waned significantly and I was able to show up and be more present while carrying the weight of those thoughts and feelings with me. I have no doubt that this will continue to be a challenge for me but I am lessening the fear of that feeling of anxiety. I am learning to identify it and just live with it – it doesn’t have to control me or drive my actions like  a mad woman. It is just a part of my life sometimes and that is okay. I can carry it with me and be just fine. I can just be still with it and learn to better understand it. Maybe someday I will be able to let go of those thoughts creating my Sunday night anxieties but for now, we are still getting to know each other.

Are you being driven by negative emotions? What could experiencing, rather than resisting or buffering negative emotions do for you? Have you considered which of your thoughts are creating those feelings? The answer may surprise you!

Experiencing negative emotions is the most valuable skill I can teach my clients. Coach with me and let me show you how this skill can change your life!

Insidious Boredom

I’m bored. There is something about that statement that drives me nuts. Kids say it all the time and that’s not necessarily what I’m talking about here – although, yes, that makes me crazy too. I had a client come to me recently complaining that she was bored with her job. She was bored with her job but when I challenged her to consider why she was bored or to develop ways that she could become more engaged in her work, she immediately went on the defensive.

She had 1,000 reasons why there was no solution to her boredom. She was just bored and it was making her depressed. She had really committed to this feeling of boredom and was really struggling to see the situation any differently.

As coaches, we strive to demonstrate how these thoughts that we have are really just simple choices that we make on repeat. In reality, this client had committed to her choice to remain bored but she saw her boredom as a fact of her existence and not something she could control. She had made herself a complete victim to this boredom and boredom was winning.

This got me thinking about boredom, in general, and how this simple emotion can be indicative of so many larger issues. Most of us experience boredom from time-to-time but we rarely take the opportunity to learn from this emotion. Here a are few ways to reconsider your boredom and use it as a means for further self-awareness.

Choosing to be Stuck.

If it is important for you to be engaged in your life and connected with how you are spending your time but you often find yourself feeling bored, it’s time for a closer evaluation of things. For instance, if your current experience is “bored” and you want your life experience to be “fascinated” or “learning” or “being challenged” then you have the opportunity to take action to create that result. It’s just like when kids whine about being bored and we as adults snipe at them go outside, go read a book, go find some friends to play with, etc. We have all the solutions for the kiddos but when we as adults find ourselves bored, we often act like this boredom thing was just imposed upon us without our consent or involvement and there’s simply nothing we can do about it.

Boredom is caused by our thoughts! It is a choice we are making. Instead of choosing boredom, you could get to work brainstorming all the things that you could do to NOT be bored. You could get to work examining your thoughts that are making you feel bored. If you are thinking I’m so bored because I’ve been doing this job for 10 years you could consider some alternative thoughts that might make you feel differently I’m so glad that I have a job that is not full of stress and anxiety or I am working on finding new aspects of my job to develop and stimulate me. Those thoughts will yield feelings and actions that are must different that I’m bored. I am stuck. I am not taking action. When grown adults complain that they are bored, I can’t help but think – you are bored yet your level of engagement in your job, your family, your life, etc. is 110% within your control; if you don’t like it. Fix it. If you aren’t willing to take action to change your thoughts and fix it, accept that as your choice and shut up about it.

Overcoming Boredom Often Uncovers Negative Beliefs.

Choosing to not be bored is often the first critical step in self-exploration. If you decide you want more excitement in your life, you will likely be faced with options and choices that may drum up some negative emotion for you. Are you bored because you are afraid to go out and try to meet new people because you fear rejection? Are you afraid to set up a profile on a dating app because you aren’t happy with your body? Are you afraid to pick up a new hobby because you are worried you won’t have enough time and you will be stressed? All of these thoughts are motivated by fear and resistance to the unknown. These thoughts generate insecurities and negative emotions.

The fear of feeling those emotions is why so many people choose to stay bored. To stay stuck.

These thoughts are not fun and choosing to overcome boredom may require you to push through those thoughts—to feel the fear and do it anyway. Boredom and staying stuck is a hell of a lot easier than working through these feelings. That is the root of why so many people choose to stay bored and choose to stay stuck.

What Are you Making it Mean?

Even before you consider new actions and thoughts that might create a bit more excitement in your life, I always recommend taking a closer look at your boredom. What is going on in your brain that is causing you to feel bored? Are you thinking about how much you don’t like your job? Is there something you think you should be doing with your life instead? Or consider this: What is so bad about being bored? That is really the question so many of us need to examine. When you are “bored” what are you making that mean?

This is a more insidious kind of boredom. I think of it as Buffering in Boredom’s clothing. We all know those people who are constantly piling on the projects and dragging around to do lists a mile long. They say that sharks can’t stop swimming or they will die. While I don’t know whether that is true or not, I always think about that when I meet these people. They won’t stop moving or adding enormous projects to their plate. When I see this with clients, I always ask them what’s so bad about being lazy or bored? What’s so bad about not being busy? What are you making it mean if you are not busy? Why are you always telling yourself you are bored?

They say things like I just love to be busy. I hate being bored. I like to always be on the move. Then, as we continue to discuss it, the “shoulds” start to emerge. When I’m not busy, I just think that I should be doing more, I should have accomplished more, I should have finished this last week, I should be doing XYZ, etc. They have all these reasons why they are “behind” at life and why they have to be sprinting to catch up.

These people are shoulding themselves to death!

They are so afraid of what will happen if they stop swimming. They are afraid of those thoughts and feelings that come up when they stop franticly accomplishing things. They have all these negative thoughts and insecurities about their value that come to the surface when they stop. It’s like they have decided that so long as they continue to check things off their list and add new accomplishments, THEN they will be worthy. THEN they will be accomplished and successful. This belief is so toxic. Unless and until they sort through those thoughts telling them that they aren’t good enough as they are, this cycle will never stop.

There will always more things for the to do list and none of them will ever fill that gap, and the cycle will continue indefinitely.

For me, this rings very true. My resistance to boredom is often driven by negative thinking: You should be doing more with your free time, Why don’t you have more of a social life? Why don’t you have more friends? Why don’t you have a more engaging career or a more exciting job? Why can’t you find a hobby you are passionate about. It is because of these thoughts that boredom makes me uncomfortable. I am not resistant to boredom in and of itself, I am resistant to the feelings it drums up in me. Feelings of inadequacy. Feelings of lack. This is the root of my problem with boredom. These thoughts are why I try to avoid boredom. Being aware of those thoughts allows me to face them, examine them, and work through them.

No Sunshine and Rainbows

Life is not meant to be sunshine and rainbows 100% of the time. There are going to be days/people/projects/experiences that you aren’t going to love. I promise you. But those experiences that aren’t great pave the way for you to have experiences that ARE great. Yin and yang. That is the basic nature of this life. Expecting everything to be easy street will only set you up for a lifetime of disappointments. Believe me, there have been times in my practice when I had to deal with an issue that could easily be classified as “boring.” While I could easily find myself buffering with all sorts of other activities – I need to get a cup of coffee, I’m going to stop by to chat with so-and-so, I think I need a snack, etc. – it was when I was able to buckle down and commit to being fascinated with the topic that I felt truly rewarded. Being able to commit to learning something new and becoming an expert in something is rewarding and exciting – no matter how boring the topic. And besides, approaching those projects with fascination and the intent of getting lost in the work was so much more fun. I would sit down and say to myself, today I’m going to become an expert in this section of the Internal Revenue Code. Yes, it sounds totally boring but when I approached it with that mindset it was so much more explorative and accomplishment-driven. It wasn’t just another item on my list, it was another opportunity to improve myself and to learn something new from a place of fascination.

Growth and development are things I value at a very personal level and being able to recharacterize a “boring” project as an event in furtherance of my core values allows me to see the task with renewed energy and excitement. Making the most of the challenging experiences in our lives is the only way to move through them and make room for the good experiences in life.

If you find yourself feeling unfulfilled in your life or simply bored, ask yourself why you are choosing to feel that way and do you like your reasons? Why does it bother you so much to be bored? What does the feeling of boredom drum up in your mind? Whenever we find ourselves resisting a negative emotion or thought, even something as simple as boredom, it can be an invaluable opportunity to investigate and challenge some of your closely held thoughts, beliefs, and assumptions about your life.

Feeling bored with life? Take the next step. Allow me to push you to elevate and illuminate your true purpose. Coach with me and see how exciting life can be.

Wanted: Motivation

I recently found myself riding the popular mode of public transportation known affectionately as the Monday Morning Struggle Bus. I was tired and grouchy and just plain did not want to be at work. I didn’t want to be at my regular 9-5 and I didn’t want to work on my coaching business either. I just wanted to go full-on introvert hermit and hide under the covers all day. The problem was that I had made all these commitments – to myself and my clients. My day was full of tasks that I had planned to complete so that my week would stay on course. The constant reminders started popping upon my phone at 8:30 this morning and I knew that wouldn’t stop until 8:30pm tonight.

I told myself that if I could just muster up some motivation, I could get over this hump.

Now, where to find that motivation…. Facebook? A trip to Starbuck’s for a caffeine jolt? Maybe a hallway chat with my co-workers? Maybe if I procrastinate long enough, I will force myself to get to work in a frenzy of stress-induced mania!

My brain came up with all sorts of fun things I could do today instead of work. That’s when I realized that I had just caught my brain in serious reptile mode.

My brain knew I wasn’t feeling particularly motivated. It knew I didn’t want to work and it was politely offering me all sorts of ways to indulge myself and run away from those crappy feelings and dumb work projects. My brain got to work coming up with all sorts of ways to self-soothe. In my mind, I imagined some skeezy alter-ego standing on the corner in a dirty trench coat saying “hey, babe, you want to fly to the moon?” Dramatic, yes, but the basic premise is the same.

My brain was selling me a quick fix, promising it would make me feel better and help me avoid the discomfort I was currently feeling – the Monday morning blues.

I had thought “I really don’t want to do this” and my brain responded, “here are some things you can do that would be WAY more fun.” In addition, my brain went to work telling me all the reasons why it was okay to blow off all the things I had promised myself…you worked really hard all weekend, you deserve a break . . . this project isn’t worth worrying about, you can do it tomorrow . . . you work harder than everyone else, you deserve a few hours “off”. . .

That is what our brains do! We are so used to indulging ourselves and going out of our way to bury those negative feelings (buffering) or running away from them outright through avoidance or procrastination, that is what our brains automatically do in the face of discomfort. And now our brains are really good at it!

Once we allow our brains to run that route a few 100,000 times, it becomes a pro and offers us those “solutions” every time we face the same or a similar discomfort.

If you think “I really don’t want to go to the gym today,” your brain is going to get to work running that pattern and offering you all sorts of reasons why you really shouldn’t go to the gym: You really don’t have time today . . . your really should rest, the day was super stressful . . . you seem run down, you’re probably getting sick, better to rest . . . gosh, your knee seems a little tender, if you don’t rest it you will probably strain it . . . Trust me, the brain is a WWE Diva when it comes to this stuff because we have let it practice this song and dance our entire lives.

When you see your brain doing this, just know that it is operating as it should but that what it is telling you is not the truth.

These are not a facts; they are just thoughts your brain is really good at thinking. Your brain seeks to operate as efficiently as possible (e.g., running the same thought patterns) and the reptilian brain wants to keep you safe (avoid discomfort at all costs lest you be killed by lions!). When you get uncomfortable, your brain offers you these thoughts in an attempt to seek comfort and avoid pain. They are all attempts to keep you running the same route you have been running your whole life. This is guaranteed to keep you stuck.

You have to get savvy with your brain. You have to catch on to its tricks! The next time you catch your brain offering you a platter full of delightful excuses not to do something out of the norm or something you aren’t excited about (e.g., 5am gym classes), do the hard work and keep your promises to yourself. THOSE are brain patterns you want to become a habit but they never will if you don’t force your brain to practice the routes.

Recognize when your brain is doing this and see it for what it is – an old pattern. Then work on creating a new pattern.

This doesn’t mean you have to engage in a round of mental arm wrestling, arguing with each of these thoughts. What it means is that you can recognize when your brain is doing this and ignore all those thoughts and justifications your mind offers. Hello, brain, I see all these glorious excuses you are offering me, very adorable, but no thanks. Just clear your head and stick to the commitment. Period. By honoring commitments, you develop a new set of beliefs and patterns that your brain can channel. The next time you find your brain running an old pattern and explaining why you really shouldn’t go to the gym this morning, you might be able to think instead – Yes, I was tired last time I went to the gym at 5am and I still had a great workout and felt energized all day . . . or Going to that gym class always makes me feel so much less stressed out and I always have a better day than when I skip it.

Commitment is a skill and learning to honor your commitments takes practice and it takes foresight. Your brain will try and talk you out of it, guaranteed. Plan on it and know you must push through.

Only through commitment and practice will you build motivation.

Once you start building those patterns, you can literally achieve anything.

Get out there and use your discomfort as an opportunity to teach your brain some new dance moves. This is hard work but it is the work of a lifetime. Commit to yourself. Commit to better results than you have gotten thus far. Coach with me. I’m ready. Are you?

Judgment

My most recent epiphany? I am a judge-y biach. And listen, I am not saying this for self-deprecating purposes or to publicly shame myself. I am simply stating my mind’s natural tendency, as I have observed it. If left to its own devices, my brain will run off with all sorts of judgmental criticisms of those around me. I am not a bad person and I genuinely believe in the good of other people; however, regardless of my values, my brain tends toward a cycle of mental abuse of not only others but myself. 

I recently spent some time at a work conference in NYC. As I sat there the first morning and looked around, I found myself in a foul mood. I couldn’t figure out what I was so irritated about. So I started writing down my thoughts… 

I hate stuff like this… I don’t want to meet new people… I don’t want to make small talk…this is dumb…I don’t want to be friends with these people…

And then when I started being curious and asking why I hated stuff “like this” and why I didn’t want to talk to anyone, my brain was more than happy to explain: 

We are all competitors, I don’t want to be friends…you all probably think I’m some country bumpkin who doesn’t know her way around the lawI’m sure you’re all thinking I look like an idiot and probably have no idea what I’m doing…you are all judging me and thinking you are better than me

Clearly, I was on some defensive mission. I imagined that all these people were making judgments about me and criticizing me while pretending to be friendly. In turn, I was fuming and hating them for it. So, naturally, my brain opted to engage in its own bad behavior and started criticizing them. It was a pretty amazing spectacle to observe. I had convinced myself that they were judging me and I’d be damned if there were going to get through this day without me judging them right back. Ha! I was going to show THEM who was right and who was wrong. I wasn’t going to let them mentally bad mouth me without any recourse!  I was on to their game!

Alas, there was the cause of my misery and dark mood. It was almost humorous in its simplicity. My mind had taken off on its own and it was making me miserable. I was swimming in a pool of frustration and bitterness . . . I don’t even want to be here, this is dumb, they are all criticizing everything I say, they think I’m dumb but I already know all of this information, what a waste of time, etc. In reality, no one said anything unkind. In fact, at that point, no one had said anything to me! There was no indication of judgment what-so-ever. Everyone was incredibly friendly and welcoming and the conference was lovely. The only bad behavior was my own thoughts and I was in a rotten mood because of it until I got my thoughts under control.  

This happens so often and it brings to mind a few critical coaching lessons:  

If you spot it you got it – if you point a finger at one person, there are three fingers pointing right back at you – the things we disdain in others, are likely the things we disdain in ourselves – hurt people, hurt people  

I had convinced myself that these people were judging me unfairly, so in turn, I was judging them harshly and without merit. Judgmental people are one of my pet peeves – but isn’t that, in and of itself, a judgment?! More often than not when we find ourselves judging other people about a particular personality characteristic or action, it is often because we have that characteristic in ourselves and we don’t like it.  If we weren’t so intimately familiar with that characteristic, we probably wouldn’t be able to notice it in others, right?

For example, I had a client who came to me furious about her brother. She felt that he was always putting on airs and not being himself around the rest of the family.  

He just wouldn’t open up and was always being fake, she said. 

What do you do when you are around him and he acts like that, I asked. 

I clam up; it makes me so uncomfortable, I don’t even know what to say to him!  

So, when he’s around, would you say that you are not being yourself? Would you say that is because you are uncomfortable? Is it possible that he too, is uncomfortable and that is why he is acting that way? Do you see that you are frustrated because he is not being genuine so in turn, you are uncomfortable and not showing up authentically?

Do you see!?

Often times when we criticize someone for acting a certain way or doing a certain thing, we are likely doing the exact same thing we are condemning!

Furthermore, when we catch ourselves judging someone else about something they are doing, if we can evaluate how we too have shown those characteristics in our own lives, we can see that person with so much more compassion! Instead of judging that behavior we can relate to it, understand it, and perhaps let go of that judgment and replace it with empathy.  

The next time you catch yourself criticizing or judging, ask yourself if you have ever engaged in similar behavior or whether you can relate to what that person might be thinking that may be causing them to act that way. It’s a game changer! 

The second thing that came to me was this: when you find yourself judging others, take a look at your thoughts driving that judgment. Is there something about the situation that is bringing up insecurities or fears? Are you operating from ‘fight or flight’ mode?  What thoughts or feelings are you trying to avoid by mentally lashing out at others?  

In my case, I was trying to avoid feeling like an outsider. I was afraid of feeling like I was “less than” the others around me and I was afraid that I wouldn’t fit in. Instead of feeling those fears and proceeding anyway, my reptilian brain went into “fight or flight” mode and obviously, chose FIGHT. I was going to fight with everyone (in my head, of course) and let them know how worthy I was and how dare they think otherwise!!

Instead of being myself and being vulnerable, I shut down and closed off, lest I be measured and found lacking. I was scared and uncomfortable. My feelings were driven by all sorts of nasty thoughts about my worth and value and in the end, I was feeling terrible all by my own hand. The end result was that I wasn’t showing up as myself. I was closed off. I was making myself the outsider that I was so desperately trying NOT to be. Pure craziness! 

As a life coach, I don’t have it all figured out and I am just as human and fallible as the next person. What I do have is a good understanding of my brain and how my thoughts drive my feelings, actions, and results every moment of every day. I was able to get to the root of my sour mood and resolve it in a way that lead to greater clarity about myself and my fears.

Every bad mood and negative feeling is simply an opportunity to explore your mind and deepen your relationship with yourself.  This is the journey of life!

Interested in continuing this work? Sign up for a free coaching consultation with me!
 

Save the Drama for . . . well, you know . . .

Recently I’ve had several sessions with a similar underlying theme relating to drama and the stories about ourselves and our lives that we carry around with us.

So many of us carry stories about ourselves or our past that are so riddled with drama that it is making all of us crazy!

Not only does this drama typically bring with it some unwanted and unproductive emotions but the habit of creating drama in your life is going to make it difficult to find space for the things you truly WANT to spend your energy doing. As you make bigger goals and strive to do new things, you are going to encounter struggles and negative emotions and if you spin out in drama every time this happens, you will handicap that goal…and you will likely make yourself crazy in the process, so that’s fun too.

I once had a client tell me that the reason she is stuck in her life is because she can’t move home to the Midwest. “I can’t move home to the Midwest because I have this house and it needs all this work and I keep trying to hire contractors but I don’t trust them and there really aren’t any good contractors out there any way, and the house is practically unlivable because the last contractors I hired completed botched the roof and now water is coming in everywhere. . .”

On and on she went about how the house was so terrible and no one could be trusted to fix it for her so she would just have to be stuck where she was until she could figure something else out.

Come to find out that the issue with the house was that the contractors didn’t properly seal her skylights so the roof was leaking over her kitchen. That was the huge catastrophe that was keeping her from moving. Of course, when she initially related all this to me, I was horrified, imaging contractors who had left huge sections of her roof completely unfinished and exposed to the elements and a roof that was about to cave in and lions, tiger, and bears, oh my!

My mind immediately went for the drama.

That is what our reptilian brain does! It looks for danger to try and keep us from getting eaten by lions! This situation was not worthy of that level of panic but that’s what our brain immediately wants to do.

Here’s another example. My partner is selling his home and recently found out that his roof had some damage and would need to be replaced prior to the sale. When I got his message that he was going to have to replace the roof, my mind LITERALLY imagined that there must be huge holes in his roof from some cataclysmic overnight hail storm that I slept through. My heart started to race and I imagined all the horrible possibilities. When I spoke to him, he was very matter-of-fact: the home inspector says there is hail damage, I spoke to my insurance carrier and filed a claim, they will let me know more soon. That was it. No drama. Just the facts. My mental chaos was immediately snuffed out.

The distinction here is that one person was focused on the facts of the situation and JUST the facts. No superfluous details or embellishments.

Just those aspects of the situation that everyone would agree were universally true about the situation. That is the trick that so many of us are missing. When our brains want to spin out of control joyriding a parade of horribles, we have to stop and focus on the facts. Once these scenarios are boiled down to simple facts, they become so much less dramatic. So much easier to solve for and they require so much less of your energy!

I most often see this when people speak about their pasts. Try it sometime on people that you know well. For instance, that friend of yours who is always sending you 11pm text messages “Call me immediately!” for some new drama. If you ask her to describe her childhood or last relationship, her description will likely be laden with drama.

On the other hand, your friend that always seems calm, cool, and collected will likely describe her past with simplicity and without unnecessary drama or extravagant stories. It doesn’t mean that one of them had a past that was any easier or less challenging, it just means that one of them chooses not to create drama around her childhood and chooses instead to cast her childhood in factual and positive tones.

How we describe our past experiences is a choice.

It doesn’t mean you deny that you have had difficult experiences; it means that when you think about those experiences, you focus on the facts and you find truths about those experiences that make you feel good instead of focusing on the facts that make you feel miserable. This is SO important because if you cast your past in a drama-filled, chaotic manner, those thoughts are not likely going to make you feel like you are ready to take on the world and build your empire. I personally know that when I allow myself to sift through the drama of my past relationships and the negativity of those experiences, the only thing I want to do is sit on the couch and eat an entire bag of chips with queso. Those thoughts are not helpful. They are not making you feel better and they are not helping you move forward.

The only reason your past exists today is because you let it. The only way your past exists is in your mind.

How you think about that past in your mind is YOUR CHOICE. Separate the facts of your past from the drama. You will free up so much mental space when you do.

Here is an example to help drive home this point. I once left a firm and believed that I was not leaving on good terms. I believed that we were both angry about how things worked out and I believed there was a lot of resentment in both camps. So, when I received my last paycheck from the firm and it was about 10% of my usual paycheck, I went through the roof! I was so upset and angry and indignant that they would “do that to me.” I had convinced myself that it was an intentional slight and was the ultimate “last straw” in my relationship with them. I would never have anything good to say about them EVER! On and on I went. I told myself there was no need to call them and challenge my compensation because they would have all sorts of excuses and rationalizations and it “just wouldn’t be worth the energy to ask them about it” I just didn’t “want the fight.” I didn’t want the fight but I was seething no less. I was fighting, alright, I just didn’t have an opponent.

So I decided to heed some of my own advice. I ditched the drama and endeavored to find the facts. That required me to reach out and start asking questions. Turns out, the payment was correct but without the breakdown of how they landed at that number, I didn’t have a full picture. Health insurance, retirement contributions, final deductions, etc.  for the full month of my termination had whittled my final paycheck down to almost nothing. Once I saw the numbers, it made sense. All that drama for WEEKS. What a waste.

What could I have done differently? Rather than making myself crazy for weeks, I could have focused on the facts of the situation: I got my last paycheck, it was $X less than usual, I did not ask for an explanation. Those facts, standing alone don’t seem worthy of a meltdown. Those facts instead beg the question—why aren’t you asking for an explanation? Those facts are confusing and require additional research! Simple. If I had looked at the facts sooner, I could have spared the drama and asked for the information earlier. Or I could have decided not to ask for an explanation and added another fact: I am not asking for an explanation and I am okay with that. Done. No more mental work to be done here.

If you can learn to identify and clean up the drama in your brain and in your life, imagine what you could do with all that extra time and energy. The possibilities are endless!

Need support ditching the drama? Coach with me and let’s start cleaning up your brain.

Commitment

I once had a friend who was complaining that she needs to eat healthier and whenever she gets home she’s tired and doesn’t have anything to cook so she just orders in. I asked her Why don’t you plan and prep your meals in advance so you can get out of this cycle of exhausted panic and ordering in? You can plan to have something healthy on hand and ready to cook instead of just deciding to order in and going down this rabbit hole every day? Her response? Because when it comes down to it, I know I won’t want to eat that. I will feel like having something else.

This logic is one of the most time-sucking, goal-derailing theories my clients subscribe to. And let’s be honest, we have all been guilty of it — I don’t FEEL like doing XYZ even though I said I would. I used to avoid planning my outfits for the week because I wanted room for creative liberties – because, what if I don’t feel like wearing a skirt that day?! So, instead I would waste 20 minutes every morning laboring through my closet and the I HAVE NOTHING TO WEAR AGONY before rushing out of my house in a sweaty, flustered, and grouchy tornado.

Forget that. Years later, I have gotten wise to my propensity to wear approximately 5% of the clothes I own. Why? Because those are the clothes I most often feel like wearing. So, two years ago, I decided that I will get rid of one thing every single day. Whether that is the extra can opener or those strappy pink sandals that I never wear, every day something has to find a new family. With respect to my clothes, this means that on Sunday, I take about five minutes to pull five work outfits and hang them in my closet. That’s it. Either those clothes get worn that week or they go. I either like them enough to wear them no matter what or they find a new home. This has been magically freeing (but more about that later). I have stopped allowing myself bask in fashion creativity. I force myself to be decisive and no longer give energy to what I feel like wearing. What does that even mean?!

Anywho, the point is, we don’t like to make decisions ahead of time because we want to allow ourselves to make decisions in the heat of the moment, guided by our feelings. The problem is that our feelings are fleeting and our feelings are often driven by our primitive brains. Our primitive brains want to keep us happy, safe, comfortable and warm. The primitive brain will seek safety and pleasure while avoiding resistance. That brain is NOT the brain that will help you climb a mountain or do anything that scares you. That brain is not a cheerleader for healthy choices or difficult workouts. That brain wants the dopamine hit from chocolate cake and takeout Chinese on the couch. That brain cannot be allowed to make any decisions, unless you are running from a tiger, naturally.

Instead, we must make plans ahead of time from our prefrontal cortex – the part of our brain associated rational thinking, cognitive behavior, and decision making. This is the brain that says go to the gym, do not face dive into the box of red velvet cupcakes. Unfortunately, this brain is like your silent partner whose solid advice is often drowned out by the rantings of a lunatic toddler (i.e., your reptilian brain). You have to allow your prefrontal cortex to make decisions ahead of time, when your toddler brain isn’t participating because toddlers don’t care about planning. Once those decisions are made, you have to stick with them. This is where the real work comes in.

Most of us would not deliberately stand up a friend at Happy Hour or bail on your friend for that 5am Zumba class at the last minute so she is left to suffer alone. But we don’t hold ourselves in that same regard. When it comes to commitment to ourselves, we are terrible, horrible, no good, very bad friends. We ghost ourselves on the regular. We make plans and then we skip them. We promise ourselves we will go to the gym and then we hit snooze instead. In those instances, we are letting our warm and cozy, reptilian brain run the show. We refuse to trust the earlier judgment of our prefrontal cortex. We refuse to honor those commitments and will expend all sorts of energy rationalizing our flakiness.

Stop. Doing. That.

Make decisions in advance and commit to yourself that you will do it. Make a meal plan for the week and stick to it. Decide which days of the week, you will have a glass of wine and honor it. Set benchmarks and tasks in furtherance of a larger goal and freaking do them! My clients ask me all the time, How do you accomplish so much? How do you have time for all of that? Here’s the secret: you just do it. There is a reason that Nike’s slogan is Just Do It. Anyone who has done anything hard knows that the only trick is to simply DO IT. There is no magical formula for motivation or progress. You make a commitment to yourself and you honor yourself. It’s time to start treating yourself as well as you treat your friends and the commitments you make to them.

Here’s the icing on the cake. So many of my clients want to feel inspired and motivated to achieve their goals. They don’t act because they are waiting to be moved and inspired. Sorry, people, motivation and inspiration are not synonymous with lightening. They don’t just suddenly appear. They are created by action. Action creates momentum, which creates inspiration and motivation on repeat. How to you take action? Honor your commitments to yourself.

It all starts with learning to make commitment to ourselves and respecting ourselves enough to show up for ourselves. If you can master that skill, you can do anything.

If you are interested in a practical tool to help you organize your life and start sticking to your commitments, sign up to get my free tool for Finding More Time.

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The BS of Busyness

Most of my clients have areas of their lives that they want to improve upon. Some want to eat healthier, others want to spend more time on their hobbies or with their children, yet others want to get back into shape or develop a meditation practice. I suspect that you, gentle reader, have a laundry list of things that you would like to spend your time doing but you can “never seem to find the time.” That is the most common explanation I get for these challenges –

I just don’t have time . . . I’m so busy . . . my kids are so consuming . . . my job consumes all my time.

So many of us blame Father Time for our inability to have the work-life balance we so desperately seek. Unfortunately, time is not what is really standing in your way. YOU are standing in your own way. The “busyness” that so many people use as a badge of honor is nothing but a cover story for being disorganized and not managing themselves properly.

Think about it. Time is the greatest equalizer. We all have the same amount. Rich and successful people are not given more time than the rest of us. Sure, having piles of cash lying around can allow you to spend your money to free up your time but that doesn’t explain how you were able to get there in the first place; it doesn’t explain how you were able to make that success that created your piles of cash.

So many successful people have commented in their bios how much they had to hustle in their early days to make things happen, to pursue their passion for writing, or their painting hobby, or whatever it was that lead to their success. They wanted to have time for those things and they made it happen. They didn’t magically buy more time.

They didn’t run around exclaiming about how busy they were and didn’t have time for their passions.

People make time for what’s important to them.

In order to have the life you want, you might have to sacrifice a few things. You might have to spend 10 minutes getting ready instead of 30 so that you can squeeze in a 20 minute meditation before you go to work. You might have to get up at 4:30am to spend some time writing or reading before everyone else gets up – this may mean you have to start going to bed at 9pm instead of 10pm and you miss the late night news. Guess what, you can catch a news podcast in the morning on your drive to work. No harm, no foul. It’s all about your priorities and choices.

Whatever you are wanting more of in your life is simply something you are choosing not to make a priority.

I see so many people that want that success, they want to be a published author or they dream about running a marathon but they are not willing to make it a priority and rearrange their lives in honor of that priority.

We want the glory but we don’t want to reach for it. We want that success but we aren’t willing to be uncomfortable to get there.

I have my clients work through a few different exercises to try and banish the busyness demon. For those clients who are convinced they simply “do not have enough time” for XYZ, I ask them to keep a detailed list of how they spend their days, every day, for one month, down to the minutes of every hour.

The results are always mind blowing – did you know you were wasting 1 hour every week night cooking dinner when you could spend 2 hours on Sunday meal prepping instead? The could earn you 3 extra hours a week during those precious week nights! Or did you know you spend 30 minutes in the shower every day? What if you spent 15 minutes and used the remaining 15 to read the paper every morning or start plowing through those piles of books you want to read? Twenty minute commute? Use it to learn that second language or listen to audiobooks.

The possibilities are endless. This can be such a freeing exercise and opportunity to truly look at your life – what are you making a priority? Take a look and approach the experiment with honesty and curiosity.

The second exercise is to practice diligence and commitment to yourself and your goals. This is done by careful planning ahead of time. Making your calendar your greatest friend and ally.

Making commitments to tasks in furtherance of your goal, putting them on your calendar and honoring your commitment to yourself.

If you want to start a business, break it down into bite-sized steps and put each step on your calendar. As the events come up, honor them as if they were a meeting with the CEO of your company. Do not reschedule them.

Commitment creates results and builds momentum but only if you let it.

After working through these exercises, I believe you will come to see that busyness is not a symbol of importance or productivity but rather an indication of mismanaged time and scattered planning. I hope you can use these tools get over “busyness” and make space for your true priorities.

Learning to manage you energy and honoring commitment is at the heart of the coaching relationship. Learn these skills with me and commit to your new future.

Failing Hard

Have you ever asked yourself why you aren’t doing something or why you aren’t taking action toward your goals? What I have found is that most people simply are afraid to fail. If you are going on a diet and plan to lose 50 pounds, do you tell your friends? Do you put it on Facebook and declare it to the world? Probably not and here’s why: no one wants their failure to be up for public scrutiny. As humans, we prefer to fail quietly and privately or not fail at all. If we succeed, great, THAT we will shout from the rooftops. But if we keep our failures privately, it’s like it never happened. No unmet expectations of others and no disappointments other than your own. But what is so bad about failure after all?

The fear of failure, the fear of embarrassment, the fear of how we will feel if it all falls apart, is at the heart of it all. Here’s what our friend Merriam-Webster Google has to say about fear:

an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.

Let’s break this down…

Fear is an “unpleasant emotion” caused by a “belief”. Beliefs are choices we make in our brains based upon thoughts we hold to be true. So fear is an uncomfortable emotion caused by our thoughts. That is all that is holding you back from taking action, from making that move, from leaving your soul-less job. You are letting your brain ruin all the fun.

If you want to lose 50 pounds, don’t let an unpleasant emotion hold you back, don’t be afraid to fail. So what if you fail? What’s the worst thing that could happen? Embarrassment? It’s just a feeling caused by what you are thinking. How you will feel after a failure is driven 100% by what you make that failure mean. We all do it. You set a lofty goal and then when you miss the mark you think “I’m never going to fit into those pants again” or “I’m never going to get promoted” or “Why do I even bother trying.” Ugh those thoughts are dream-killers. You are choosing to think that garbage and it is making you feel terrible.

If you have a lofty goal that you are not pursuing, ask yourself why. What is the worst that could happen? You don’t achieve it? So what? What is it about that failure that is so scary? 99% of the time we are afraid of how we will feel once we fail. We are afraid of feeling disappointed in ourselves. So instead, we put our little dream on the shelf and feel disappointed in ourselves for not trying. Don’t you see that we are already feeling those things we are trying to avoid!? Instead of trying, failing, and feeling disappointed. We are not trying, not failing, and feeling disappointed all the same. People, this is some kind of crazy.

I am challenging you to try and fail, despite the fear. Try and fail and feel those feelings having known that you actually tried. If you’re going to feel crappy you might as well do something first to feel crappy about. Don’t feel crappy about your inaction. You don’t deserve to feel crappy about your situation unless and until you have actually tried and failed.

But let me challenge you even more. I submit that, if you try and fail and continue to try and fail, despite those feelings, you will win every time. Every single time you try and fail, you will develop yourself. You will learn how not  to achieve your goal, you will learn alternative methods to try and achieve your goal. You will learn how to manage those feelings of shame, fear, embarrassment, etc. You may not even have the same goals on the other side of all the trying. I do not believe that someone can try and fail to achieve a goal repeatedly and gain nothing from the process. It’s impossible.

If you are not trying and failing on a regular basis, my guess is that you are already sitting with those ugly feelings you are trying to avoid by preventing failure. If you are not trying and failing at something all the time, I am begging you to examine what it is that is holding you back. Shame? Embarrassment? Those are all just feelings. Driven by your thoughts. Driven by what you are making your “failures” mean! Failure doesn’t have to mean you are hopeless and destined to be unhappy. Failure can mean that you are dedicated to learning and evolving. To challenging yourself and learning to manage your brain. Are your dreams really worth ignoring because you don’t have what it takes to experience uncomfortable emotions? Take that leap.

What is the worst that could happen?

Coach with me and learn the skills to fail forward.