Are You Holding Back?

You’re successful. You’ve worked hard, been rewarded for your hard work, met challenges and sought out greater opportunities. And then, some new ‘thing’ just rises up and stumps you.

Sunshine was spilling through the window, but Sarah ‘s mood was perplexed. She was an ambitious professional. Hardworking. With many successes to testify to this hard work. But today, her normally positive attitude was hard to sustain.  She had set some new goals for herself, but just couldn’t get excited about them.

As we talked about her new plans, it became clear that she was holding something back. A part of her wasn’t ‘all in’ and she didn’t know why.

After some deeper conversations, where I probed and asked lots of questions, Sarah began to realize that there was some icky unfinished business related to what she was trying to do. As we talked, she began to understand that emotions around events in the past (which she thought were in the past) were interfering with her passion to fully embrace what she was trying to do in the present. 

Together, we developed some homework assignments, aimed at examining fully what was going on. Greater understanding leads to empowered action. Released from the entangled morass of undealt with emotions, she felt renewed energy. And in our next coaching session, Sarah saw a way to make something positive from it, to clear away the unfinished business. Funny how this happens, but she felt excited about what she wanted to do right now.

If you feel like you’re holding back, ask yourself, “What is interfering with my enthusiasm for what I want?” It’s a great question to get you started.


 

He actually thought worry was productive

As I sat across the cafe table from Mark, I could see anxiety lines on his forehead. I noticed he had his coffee cup in a death grip, when he began catching me up on the last two weeks of progress toward his goal of starting a business. From my side of the table, it sounded like he was right on track. We had made a checklist, and he was right on target with that. He had plenty of financial reserves to provide a nice cushion. What could be wrong?

From Mark’s perspective, his worry was productive. He kept painting ‘what if’ scenarios. I quickly saw that he had shifted his focus from ‘enthusiastic anticipation’ to ‘what might go wrong’. Watching the circling drain, he was sure things were going to go wrong, and then, his plans would be down the toilet. He was absorbed in trying to prevent trouble, when there was no evidence of trouble. It was all about his focus.

Been here? Energetically moving toward what you want ( a new goal, a loving relationship, a new venture, a healthy lifestyle program) You’re diligently carrying on, when, it all begins to look like a nightmare. Where did all the good feelings go? The excitement? Like Mark, worry, doom and gloom move in to threaten your world? And you stop. How do you move through sluggish pea soup to get back to your original intention?

What happened to Mark is called “Failure Impact Predictions”, and when that happens, stress skyrockets. Mark’s mind shifted from happy to wary, as a method of protecting himself from disappointment. (He was unaware of this pattern).  But at what cost!

What I did with Mark, and what you can do when this happens to you, is to shift your focus. To do that, ask yourself these questions (and write down the answers) :

  1. Remind yourself about what progress you HAVE made.
  2. What kind of energy do you have for this goal? What would increase the energy?
  3. What resources can you tap into to move ahead?
  4. Who could help you with this goal
  5. Accomplishing the new goal will bring change. How can you support this change?

Awareness, and reconnecting to his goal made a difference in Mark’s outlook. His fingers relaxed around that coffee cup. The sparkle came back into his eyes. Relief!

The Dark Side of Nice


Do you spend time thinking and worrying about the problems of others, and how you can fix them?

  • Do people know they can call on you at work to take care of the extra last minute projects because you’re ’nice’ and ’so helpful’?
  • Are you the one that always goes along with whatever the group wants? Never expressing your opinion or finding your voice?
  • Maybe you have an adult child who is always calling you for help?
  • A friend who is always embroiled in some drama, and you’re the only person who understands?
  • Do you drop everything to handle things for your family? And you see this as your job?
  • Do you end up feeling unheard? Taken advantage of. Or wonder when it’s your turn to shine?atlas

First. Congratulations on your big heart. You are NICE. You’ve knocked that one out of the park. But because you’ve hung in here reading with me, you recognize that nice could be hurting you, and there are other strengths you could be utilizing.

There comes a time to understand this impulse of yours to jump to the rescue. Not necessarily to become less ‘nice’ but so you feel less fragmented, less taken advantage of, less like you are at the bottom of your own ’to do’ list. When you start to get excited about your own plans, when you quit trying to fix others problems and empower them instead.

Here’s the thing. Getting wrapped up in other people’s problems keeps the attention off yourself and away from your own growth. You may not be aware of it, but taking care of others without caring for yourself, leads to a deep simmering anger that can disguise itself as health problems, stress, sadness, and other secondary issues.

Being constantly pulled away, ’needed’, looks nice, might even feel good, but by doing so, you are closing off growth in those who quote ‘need’ you. Really. 

And, by saying yes to others neediness, you’re utilizing a subtle coping mechanism to avoid your own feelings and resistance to growth and change for yourself.

What does a healthy alternative to the dark side of nice look like?
When you’re whole and complete, you

  1. Set boundaries with people chronically with ‘drama’
  2. You provide a listening ear to your loved ones, but do not attempt to solve their problems for them. You trust them to come up with their own solutions.
  3. At work, you show up as ‘empowered’ doing your job with integrity and capability. You do not take on others problems or last minute projects. Instead, you help coworkers problem solve.
  4. You feel confident and in charge of your own life.

Like many of my clients you may have grown up conditioned to be ’nice’,  to sacrifice your own desires for the good of others. But this only works for so long before the cost of submerging yourself feels wrong.red-shoes-2

You can change the equation from:
You x Other Peoples Problems = You as Atlas
TO
You x Other Peoples Problems = You as Dorothy at the end of the Wizard of Oz

 

Ready to Take Action?

(For the last several weeks, I have been sharing some tips gleaned from many years of working with people who are motivated to grow through challenge. Week One was Getting to Yes. Week Two, answered the question “You’ve Said Yes, Now What?” Today, the last in this series is all about Action.)

Jen had gotten this far. Years of frustration collided and she knew she had had enough. She had to do something different. Time for a change.

She worked to define what that meant. But how to make that happen? I’ll share the strategies that Jen and I employed to move her from passion into purpose. I think they might work for you too.

Do something. Now. And Later.  

Jen and I had done research together, and she was now clear on what she wanted. I then coached her through a series of questions to help clear her mind as to what next steps she should take.

What three steps can you take to make this desire a reality right now?  When I asked Jen this question, she looked into space for a few moments, and then, bingo! She knew what to do first! Small steps or large, it is good to get right into it, plant your feet firmly in the doing. This energizes you and builds momentum. Finish those three steps, and then ask yourself, what’s the next best thing to do? Then do it.

What strengths or resources could you tap into to overcome any obstacles that might arise? Roadblocks will arise, it is inevitable. You will be stopped by them, unless you’ve already identified what strengths and resources you could call on to get you through. For Jen, she called on the resource of coaching to get things to happen faster. What resources do youhave to call upon? Make a list of your resources and strengths. It helps to affirm your positive attributes when things get hard.

What is your confidence level on a scale of 1-10 that you will accomplish your goals? This is key. Is your confidence below a 10? What would it take to get to a 10? If you don’t have confidence in yourself in regards to this project, have confidence in your potential.)

As your Coach, my job is to ask a lot of questions. They’re not questions to satisfy my own curiosity, but questions to help you build understanding and grow into your own spectacular potential. So here’s my next question. What’s next for you?

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After You Say Yes, Then What?

If you read last week’s article (Are You Being Invited?),  we talked about the power of YES. Affirm the bold stirring from within that urges you to create something new  — Is it time for a job change?……. Feel like you can’t get organized?…… Is a relationship not working?….. Worried about the prospect of the empty nest?.… Or  that other adult rite of passage, retirement. Whatever it is, you decide it’s time to acknowledge the dissatisfaction that’s been sitting in the pit of your stomach. This itch just has to be scratched.  No more tolerating. The time is now. YES. It’s time to set an intention for new. I promised I would share what to do after you scratch that itch —  the next steps to change, this week…..

Phase Two is all about gaining clarity specific to what that change IS. What it looks like. And that depends on where you want to end up. To get there, answer a few questions for yourself.

Take 15 minutes or so, and do a little stream of consciousness writing. If you don’t know what that is, drop me a line and we’ll work together.

  1. First question to answer — “What’s the issue?”  What niggling thing keeps you awake at night? What do you complain about most with people you trust? Does this question ring true for you — “I feel that time is running out for ___?”
  1. “Imagine that you have what you want.” What do you see? Stream of consciousness again. Let your imagination soar, describe your deepest wishes. If there were no obstacles, what would you do? Tap into that place and let yourself dream.
  1. Next, answer for yourself — “What is standing in the way of getting what you want?” Is it other people? Is it financial worries? Is it loyalty to someone or something else? Is it inertia? List all of those roadblocks.

This is your work for the next week. To dig deep. Imagine that you are flying high. Make a note of all the stuff in the way. That’s it. Next week, Last Step, we’ll make the plan.

 

Are You Being Invited?

You open your mailbox. There is an envelope announcing an invitation. You open it with anticipation…….

The message of the invitation works like a magnet, pulling you toward your next destination.

Each new season is an invitation. In northern climates, we watch with anticipation as the temperature climbs or falls, as dormant gray turns to vibrant green becomes crimson then snow. A new season is fresh, a change. Each season is an invitation to growth.

Other invitations – to graduations, weddings, cultural rituals, that mark the beginning of something new, something different. You are invited to be a part of the meaning of an important transitional moment.

The definition of invitation, in the larger sense, is to say yes or no to a call. The call can come from within yourself, acting as your own messenger, inviting you to ……? Explore new territory? Change up your job? Resolve a relationship? Fill a gap? “Invitation: a situation or action that tempts someone to do something or make a particular outcome likely.” Do you feel a nudge to explore and stretch yourself? An invitation like this doesn’t accept the limits of the status quo. It’s the open door encouraging you to leave ’stuck’ in the rear view mirror.

I’m continuously inspired by the power of yes. Sean said yes. He wanted work that he felt passionate about. Saying yes to coaching, gave him encouragement. Saying yes to the possibility of something better around his career and by extension his life, gave him a new attitude. Responding to the attraction of “abundant possibility” gave Sean more energy for the work of change. The message of the invitation works like a magnet, pulling you toward your next destination. The first step is saying yes. I’ll be sharing the next few simple steps to abundant living in the next couple of weeks. I’ll see you there!


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Through, Out and Up!

“How wonderful that you are a ladder for others.” (Lady Rosamond, Downton Abbey). I was working, with the television going in the background. When I heard those words, that sentence took on a pulse.


An unromantic metaphor, the ladder. Useful, efficient, practical. Providing a ladder for others. Climbing the ladder yourself?Copy of Copy of Copy of Deborah Campbell + Coachdeborahcampbellcoach@gmail.com

A quick google search expanded the picture. Ladders have histories, inventors and dozens of designs specific to each peculiar task. Three legged ladders for fruit tree picking. Hook and chain ladders for emergency rescue. Christmastree ladders for divers climbing back on ship with flippers on their feet. Even a fish ladder, an after thought created to help fish maintain their travels up river to spawn regardless of the interruption of man made dams and mills.

“Mistakes are merely steps up the ladder.” Emil Zatopek

If you could be intentional about conjuring up your own scalable structure, what would it look like? The one you build for yourself? The one you build for others?

You may be afraid of heights, but if you keep your eyes only on the next step, you’ll arrive at a higher destination.

There are times when people in general experience dramatically challenging episodes of ‘life’ — a loved one is sick, job turnover, relationship blow up. Let me stretch this metaphor a bit more, and ask you — what kind of ladder can you design that would lift you (or that volunteer opportunity you care about), through, out and up? Play with me here. You are the inventor of this symbolic ladder. As designer and builder, what features do you want? What will yours look like?

To get you started try this

 

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Are You 1. Brilliant or 2. A Fraud. A Multiple Choice Question

Sitting carefully in the formal living room, I surveyed the richly furnished surroundings. This was living room # 2, completely decorated in several variations on the color white. I was feeling like I didn’t belong.

I was at a committee meeting, one I was asked to be on, working with academics, engineers, and other highly educated people. The thoughts that were zooming around my head were deadly. “They are going to find out I’m not as smart as they think I am.” “They are sure to see how unsophisticated I am.” “ I’m just flat out unworthy to be here.” “I’m a fraud.” Truth be told? That same narrative tape begins its reel in my head every time I’m in a new situation. After working with hundreds of clients, I know that this phenomenon is just about universal. And what I also know, there is a way to make that disagreeable scenario disappear. You can stop it cold. Screenshot 2015-09-30 14.05.15

I recently read this story. Every year, students in the incoming class at Stanford Business School are asked, “How many of you feel that you are the one mistake that the admissions committee made?” And every year, about two-thirds of the students raise their hands.

Now this is curious, because getting into a top-notch program is not easy. A high GPA, excellent scores on the GMAT and strong letters of recommendation from prominent professors and professionals are necessary. High achievers who succeed academically on tests and grueling internships are in that classroom. Yet, despite this, the majority of students who achieve their goal of admission to this program seriously doubt they deserve to be there.

Screenshot 2015-09-30 13.56.07The story isn’t limited to students. Research done on every level of successful professional comes up with the same number. 70% of all high achieving people describe feeling unqualified, like a fraud, in spite of many significant achievements. This behavior has many names — fraud factor, impostor phenomenon. First described by psychologists Suzanne Imes, PhD, and Pauline Rose Clance, PhD, in the 1970s. Defined as “a collection of feelings of inadequacy that persist even in face of information that indicates that the opposite is true. It is experienced internally as chronic self-doubt, and feelings of intellectual fraudulence.” Feel familiar?

It goes something like this: “I’m here, sure, but they’re going to find out I’m (Fill in the blank)” “ I’m here just by dumb luck” “ I’m not smart, in fact, I’m really stupid. Didn’t I just do something stupid yesterday?” “ If they knew of my other imperfections, they wouldn’t have invited me here.” I could go on….

These thoughts hold you back from fully enjoying life. From completely embracing success. The impostor phenomenon appears when you are embarking on a new endeavor outside your ‘zone of comfort’. I think it is a trick from our psyche to keep us safe, in a way. A primitive warning signal that we are about to do something different and we should be wary. But this warning signal triggers shame and vulnerability too.

Take heart. There are ways to change the story going on in your head.

1. Recognize that just about everyone have these feelings. You are not alone.

2. Give yourself credit for stepping outside your comfort zone to try something new. Credit also, for all of your past achievements.

3. Allow yourself to be imperfect.

4. Understand that this is some part of your unconscious, trying to keep you safe. Acknowledge this. Then give yourself permission to go ahead anyway.

5, Another permission granted: Give yourself permission to congratulate yourself fully for growing and developing, Step into a new and more abundant reality. Because you really are wonderful, and the world needs to have that!

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The Secret Behind Every Decision

“I think I’m depressed” Tom (not his real name) said quietly over his coffee cup. Indeed, he looked sad. I urged him to tell me what was going on. As the story unfolded, Tom said that he was having trouble feeling good about his decisions. He blamed poor decision-making on his lack of a big bank account and a more prestigious career. His father, mother and sister were all very accomplished people. He was sure there was something wrong with him, that he couldn’t do the same.

The Secret Behind Every Decision

Tom’s story included the fact that he was a good Dad to two daughters. His marriage had broken up when the girls were young. From the tenor of his story, I had a feeling that Tom had not made poor decisions. But that his values shaped his behavior and choices, values he wasn’t aware of. I knew that if I could help Tom discover what values drove his past decisions, he would feel a lot better about himself, and that would inform all future decisions.

Values are the principles that you live your life by. Too often, we are unable to identify what is really important for us. We don’t live our lives in alignment with our values, and then wonder why we feel unbalanced or things aren’t working. To honor your values means to create and live your life in such a way that there is nothing in the way of living them. This leads to a life lived with integrity.

The compass that sets your course are your core values. Those core values direct all of your life choices and every aspect of your behavior. Core values are defined by you. They are:

  • Something that is regarded as important.
  • Standards of behavior.
  • Beliefs, ideals.
  • Guidelines of worth.
  • Principles that guide conduct.
  • Seen as intrinsically desirable, valuable.

Values are easily squashed by needs, shoulds and problems.

Needs. ..Shoulds. ..Tolerations. ..Unresolved matters. ..Addictions… Irresponsibility. Stress… Fantasies. ..Roles. ..Money. …Obligation/Duty……..

Until this list is handled, values orientation is difficult to do, because most people have values and needs confused. Their needs are so great that they overshadow their values. This circumstance makes living a values based life and setting values based goals unsustainable. A Values based life brings fulfillment.

Some examples of values: Accomplishment, Discipline, Social Recognition, Spirituality, Taking risks, Tradition, Wealth, Creativity.

Tom did a values assessment with me, and discovered that family and responsibility were much stronger values for him than affluence. Tom had been comparing himself to others and in his mind he hadn’t measured up. A man with a prestigious career and a big bank account was the role he imagined he was supposed to play. For Tom, the discovery that he had made the choice to work at jobs that would be best for his family, jobs that allowed him to be the kind of Dad he wanted to be, brought him great relief. That knowledge paved the way to making peace with the past, feeling satisfaction for the present, and empowered about the future.

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Guidelines for Making Good Career Decisions

It All Depends On Where You Want to Go

The road is a long one between North Carolina and Michigan. We had taken a detour on a whim. Just as we approached our exit to go west, we veered east instead. We were curious to see the scenic coastal city of Wilmington. When we were back in the car pointed west again, GPS broadcasted the disconcerting news ‘12 hours and 25 minutes’ to get home, I felt a surge of discouragement. Navigating our way to Florida to be with family was exciting. That part of the trip was fun with anticipation. Then, by wandering and wobbling along the road back, it felt like we had gotten sidetracked, pulled off course.
The perils of getting sidetracked.  A client was having a problem we all would envy.She had been sought out for a job in another department at the university she worked for. A promotion and a raise. The HR Manager called her out of the blue, told her that her work and accomplishments had been noted by the Dean’s Office — “She was a top-tier employee”. They wanted her to come work for them.
Wow! …… and then Whoa, Wait a Minute! My client was hesitating for several reasons. One, she was happy in her present job. She had not been seeking a change. Two, she knew her boss counted on her and he would be upset if she left. She felt a strong sense of loyalty. (But she also knew her boss respected her, and wanted the best for her.) Three, the new job included many unknowns. But then, here was an opportunity being offered to her? Should she take it? As we continued to talk, I asked her some thought-provoking coaching questions.

1. Did she enjoy challenging, sometimes difficult work, or did she need a job where she knew what to expect? (The answer to that was she loved solving problems, and challenging work).

2.Was her present job one she saw herself staying in until she retired? (No. She knew lots of people at the university who were content, comfortable, but she liked to do ‘what’s next’. She loved her present job, but upon thinking, she didn’t want to end her career there.)

3. So the next question was, “What do you see as your optimal career path, your dream position?”

4. And does this job that has been offered to you, fit into that picture?

It all depends on where you want to go. Being very clear about that makes all the difference in where you end up.
Her career path doesn’t have to be haphazard and dependent on the decisions or whims of others. She is empowered to create her own way.
Where do you want to go? That is the question that will lead you to making decisions about your next step.

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