What Are Your Results Telling You?

Connie said she wanted to explore new career options. She had long felt undervalued at work, unchallenged. She felt as though she was treading water. She said her boss was unwilling to help her reach her potential. But she was paid well, and couldn’t risk rocking the boat, so hadn’t budged on exploring further. Yet, this was what weighed on her mind when she woke up in the middle of the night.

Cole was a devoted family man, he would tell you every chance he got. Yet his behavior showed a man who put in long hours at work, and had little time to be the man he said he wanted to be. man-aloneHe believed this was what his career demanded of him. The years were ticking by with no shift in the balance while he longed for his life to change.

Shelly knew she was talented. She had an unsatisfied appetite for learning. She wondered what might have happened if she had continued her education, and felt bitterness about the obstacles that had kept her from reaching her true potential. If only things had been different.

All you need to do is look at the results to see what they are committed to.

It may surprise you to know that Connie, Cole and Shelly are committed to staying in their cycle of stuck. The sad thing is, they are unaware of this. If they understood what really is holding them back, they would be empowered to instigate change. But all three of them thought it was outside forces that kept them stuck. The real reason? The beliefs they held on to.

Are you stuck in a job you have been complaining about? In a relationship that isn’t satisfying? Are you still in debt despite having taken on another job to put money in the bank? Guess what. You have something deeper going on, more than what you think. There is a complex disconnect between what you say, and what you do. To understand and change this disconnect, first you have to uncover your unconscious mindset, revealing the ‘why’ behind your behavior. When you do this, you can let go of what is holding you back, and begin doing what you say you want to do.

Mindset and unconscious beliefs are powerful forces. When Connie, Cole and Shelly dig a little deeper, they can begin to peel back the layers and reveal the real purpose behind their behavior. Understanding that will give them the tools to make empowered choices. This awareness will free them to lead happier,  fulfilled lives. That’s what I want for them,

and for YOU.

Sending Love,


The Power of Small Acts of Courage

I never know what might happen.

Tall, short haired and serious, Jean is a very inspirational woman. A Vice President in her company, she works very hard and is well respected. She came in January to a business retreat I led. The work that day concentrated on changing or letting go of things that were not serving life and work. My job was to help the participants to expand and transform in ways they wanted more of. Sometimes surprising things come out of these retreats.

As Jean worked through the exercises, she compiled a list of ideas, both personal and work related. Jean was on firm ground when it came to work goals. But when it came to personal relationships, she was less confident. On her “I want more of this” list, she had written in the personal column, “To be closer to my daughter”. Her adult daughter lived with her in the lower level of her house. They had an okay relationship, but not as close as Jean wished it was. It was a source of sadness to her that they lived in the same house. but never enjoyed each other’s company or had any fun together. They actually had very little interaction. 


When Jean and I had coffee later, her eyes were shining. Now that a closeness with her daughter was on her wish list she was feeling hopeful. Jean decided to test the waters and see if there was anything she could do to reinvigorate their family dynamic. She decided to write a note, but give it to her daughter in person. The note said, “Our lives are so hectic and busy, I know. But one of my goals for this year is to have more fun with you. Would you help me with this goal? What do you think?”


After her daughter read the letter, she looked up in surprise. She wasn’t 100% enthusiastic, but she didn’t say no.  Jean’s daughter could have said no, but Jean’s desire for closeness over rode the risk. This took great courage. Jean was used to showing strength at work, but in personal matters, she sometimes floundered.

Next day, Jean drew up a list of potential activities to choose from, and asked her daughter to choose something. When the weekend rolled around, they were going to a concert together.

Is this big goal work?

Yes, if the goal is deeper, more loving relationships. Relationships are built, one step at a time.

Does this fulfill the “I want more of this” goal?  Jean was one move closer to a goal that can expand outward. This kind of transformation begins with the quiet power of courageous acts.

What is your “I want more of this” goal for 2017? Work and career? Deeper relationships? Building pathways to greater purpose? Can you do something today that’s a first step?

It all begins here.

“It Was Like I Was Wearing a Mask.”

“I’m a very positive person, but this whole concept of having to always be nice, always smiling, always happy, that’s not real. It was like I was wearing a mask. I was becoming this perfectly chiselled sculpture, and that was bad. That took a long time to understand.” — Alicia Keys

Caroline was a young talented woman. She loved her job, had huge responsibilities at work and was paid well. The work energized her, and she constantly pushed herself to learn more, do more. To take classes, trainings and certifications to rise in her profession. That area of her life was right on track. The thing that kept her awake at night was her personal life. She was in a serious long term relationship. She was having second thoughts, a vague uneasiness. Her doubts about the relationship caused her to doubt herself. “What was her problem!”, she kept asking herself.  Her hesitation had now turned into sleepless nights and gnawing anxiety.

Mark was a bright guy in his 50’s. He had made a lot of money working long hours as a tech designer. His passion was for photography (his zest for tech work had long ago disappeared). He said he wanted to figure out a way to sell his photography, to see if he could turn his hobby into a career. He had been saying this now for two years, and had done nothing about it. He was at a loss as to why he couldn’t move ahead.

Just retired, Lauren had been preparing herself for a smooth transition to doing what she loved. All plans were in place to rent space in a commercial kitchen and bake her famous cupcakes to sell at the Farmers Market. This was to be Lauren’s second act, one she was excited about. Just as she was checking out commercial kitchens to rent, her parents moved back from living for many years in a vacation/retirement village in South Carolina. Now they demanded Lauren’s time, and played on her sympathies as a daughter to get her to care for them. She felt torn, resentful and guilty. All of these emotions morphed into extreme sadness about the loss of her dream. Family trumps self, right?

Carole, Mark and Lauren couldn’t trust their own instincts. They were letting the ’noise’ of what they thought they ‘should do’ get in the way of  what they wanted to do. Staying stuck in limbo was making each of them miserable. These three thought there was something wrong with them, and they felt overwhelmed by what, exactly could they do about it?

I’m happy to say, they did not stay stuck in anxiety, overwhelm and sadness. We worked together in a strategic way, and began to create a road map so they all could thrive.

First we systematically uncovered the truth about what was holding them in a painful place. Then, they brought what they desired into focus. They gave themselves permission to say yes to having what they wanted.

Second, we moved all the faulty thinking out of the way, and created a new, more powerful and honest, way of thinking.

Third we made a step by step plan to move through challenges toward their ideal future.

I’m thrilled to say, they all did this courageous work. You can too. Caroline, Mark and Lauren learned to trust their instincts. Let go of the mask of inauthenticity. Become your brilliant self.

Let’s work together. Begin here……..

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
You x Other Peoples Problems = You as Dorothy at the end of the Wizard of Oz


Is it time to clear the air?

I work with people who want to develop in their careers, or move through divorce not reduced but expansively, or who want to meet challenges and thrive instead of hide or fight change. In essence,to live a full meaningful life. In every arena, because of the complexity of we humans, being in relationship with others can sometimes be ‘difficult”. To succeed and thrive means to meet those relationships with complete presence.


It’s Time to Clear the Air

We’ve all been there. It’s time to have that ‘talk’. Things have come to a head, and you’ve decided that you can’t ignore it any longer. So gather your courage, pull on your boots and be an adult.

But where to begin? Here are some thoughts.Untitled design

First and foremost. You cannot make anyone talk through an issue. The only thing you can do is offer a safe place for dialogue to happen. How do you create a ’safe’ place? By acknowledging that this might be difficult. That you care enough about improving the relationship to work on it. Own up to the fact that you may have contributed to ’the problem’ (whatever it may be). By offering this, you validate everyone’s feelings. Next, be ready to do a lot of listening, if the other party feels like opening up. Another thing to remember, this is a process. The initial conversation may just open the door a crack to honesty.

Which brings us to the next important feature of any relationship — their feelings are theirs, not yours. Your actions are yours. That is what you need to own. Let them know you care about improving things, and are willing to hear, regardless of what they are feeling. Your goal is not to make their feelings go away. It is simply to witness them and stand by the relationship.

Accept that some things may not be resolved. Again, you don’t have control over the thoughts or actions of others. But knowing that this is a process free’s you to lead the way and set the tone, because good things can happen. If not now, then somewhere down the road. By being open and receptive, you hold the key to the opportunity for deeper relationships, which are vital to a rich and abundant life. The life you are committed to having.

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Sandwich Diplomacy

Standing in Integrity: Part 1: Sandwich Diplomacy

Joe, my smart son in law, loves Zingerman’s Sandwiches. Zingerman’s Deli has what seems like hundreds of choices to pick from, so it is difficult to decide what to love when you’re hungry. I might continue to think about Zingerman’s (I do love their pickles), but I’m writing an article about Sandwich Diplomacy, and these aren’t the kind of sandwiches I’m
talking about.                                                                                                            ( Melina & Joe>>>)

I also love working with people, and entering into a ‘thinking partnership’ with my clients. Many of them struggle with asking for what they want. I’m guessing this comes up for you, too? Yes?  I know you are a nice person. You like making other people happy. And in order to do that, you don’t rock the boat. Maybe you give in when you don’t want to. Maybe you say, “Whatever you would like to do is okay with me”. Sound familiar? Asking for what you want turns out to be really hard. (There are many reasons for this). But, there comes a time when you decide you’re ready to leave the ‘passive’ voice behind, and take a more active role in your own life. And you can begin, with small steps in small moments, to initiate larger changes. For people who find asking for what you want intimidating, a good tool to use is Sandwich Diplomacy.

What the heck is that, you say? Here is my definition:
Sandwich: To insert between two other things.
Diplomacy: Skill in managing negotiations, handling people, etc., so that there is little or no ill will, tact.

So here’s how it works for the purposes of asking for what you want. By using two positive statements sandwiched around a more difficult ‘asking’ statement, you have an easier time stating your needs.The bonus is, the other party also has an easier time hearing what you have to say. What, say you? Here are a couple of examples.

As a volunteer who wants to say no:
“This committee is doing amazing work, and the gala you are talking about sounds like a winner. My schedule is packed right now, and I won’t be able to contribute. The beauty of your mission is, others will get behind you.”

See what I mean? Two positive statements sandwiched between the asking statement. A little more palatable for those of us who have difficulty saying what we want.

Two more examples:                                

As an employee who wants to make a request:
“Because our company values education and training, I’m requesting funds to go to a conference in Atlanta. This department has a strong tradition of innovation and development, and I want to be a part of that.”

As a friend or family member who wants to set some boundaries:
“I love coming home after a long day of work, and spending time catching up with you. I would like you to clean up the kitchen before I get here. Then we can make a cup of coffee and sit down and relax together.”

Are you, at this point, saying, yeah, right! I ‘ll ask, but what if they say no?” Fear, that the answer may not be what we want it to be, keeps us small and prevents us from asking in the first place. But, go ahead and try it on for size. If they push back, then you have valuable information. Did they not hear you? Repeat the phrase. If they did hear you, and they begin to argue, repeat the phrase. If they did hear you, and still say no, then you know where you stand. You can make the next move, make a different choice, make a plan to leave, etc…..

Begin taking steps to stand tall, right now, using Sandwich Diplomacy. And it’s  not crunchy peanut butter spread thick between two slices of Zingerman’s Chocolate Cherry bread that I’m talking about. Although that’s fabulous too.

I’d love to know your experience using this tool, so please share!

“Saying No and Standing Firm”

“Saying No and Standing Firm” Free Tele-class September 23rd, 2014, 7 p.m. EST

Are there times when you wished you had paused a moment and said ‘NO’?

Did you know that the word “NO” is a complete sentence? Probably not. Most of us say yes, and then feel guilty, when we probably want to say no. And the cost of this is:

-overwork because you are doing double time
-hidden feelings of anger and resentment
-sadness about yourself and your inability to have a backbone

What you really want to know is how to say no without guilt so you can stand firm. Come to this free tele class where you will get:

– Guidelines for setting boundaries
– Ways to find your voice when its challenging
– Tips for being more assertive in emotional conversations

By practicing these skills you’ll be free to say “YES” to those things that most matter to you. This call will be interactive, so bring your ‘no’ challenges to the call and get tips for handling those tricky situations. You will leave armed with concrete strategies, ready for that next encounter.

“Saying No and Standing Firm”  Free Teleclass
September 23rd, 7 p.m. EST

To grab a seat in this tele-class, click here

Try to come ‘live’, but if you can’t, there will be a replay recording. For all of you, feel free to hit the  click here button, and let me know any questions that you want to see covered.

What’s a teleclass? It’s a conference call that focuses on a hot topic. When you hit the click here button, I’ll send you all the necessary details. Don’t wait! First five people to sign up get a free gift.

“It’s time to live your life with meaning.”


As defined by the Merriam Webster Dictionary

“Something (as a principle or quality) intrinsically valuable or desirable.”

Synonyms: appreciate, cherish, prize, treasure, love

I have been doing so much thinking about values in preparation for the workshop on Saturday and finding it a fascinating subject. That word is thrown about, abused and used by our culture, in my opinion. So much so, that polite people avoid it. When we avoid reflecting on something so important, we impoverish our growth. I’m not talking about values in the political or judgmental sense. But in the personal meaning category, where it belongs.

What are values? I think it is synonymous with our desire for meaning. You can’t avoid that conversation for long before you say, “Enough. If not now, when? It’s time to live my life with meaning.” Start the discussion for yourself, this Saturday. http://www.eventbrite.com/org/2579871566

Creating an Authentic Life: Discovering Your True Values

Join me, September 22nd at the Riverside Arts Center, as we explore where your true values lie and how those values determine your path. Join in the discussions, assessments and discoveries and come away with a clearer picture of how to use this information to re-set!

Creating an Authentic Life: True Values

September 22, 2012            9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.              

Riverside Arts Center

76 N. Huron, Ypsilanti, MI

People live through their values – that’s values with a capital V. The Authentic You. To honor your values means to create  your life in such a way that there is nothing in the way of living them. What does this mean for you? Do you find yourself giving up your deepest desires  for other people or circumstances that feel beyond your control? Find out why and what you can do to align your life honoring your true values.

Workshop is $25, sign up at: http://www.eventbrite.com/org/2579871566

5 Principles for Inner Transformation

A recent post on “dailygood.org” underscored some inspirational principles for inner transformation. As we all wrestle with these issues, it is always good to give them a moment for reflection. The author created these five areas for achieving more happiness at work. I would add that these principles can be broadly applied to every area of your life. In brief:

1. Perfection is a Paradox…….Our lack of clarity around the myth of perfection creates misery for ourselves.

2. Protect Your Values……….Defining values and establishing boundaries to protect them is paramount.

3. Build High Quality Relationships…….Even a 5 minute positive conversation boosts productivity and engagement.

4. Connect to transcendent purpose and cultivate mastery………….Are you watching the clock or building toward a greater purpose?

I invite you to read the post in depth, and see what resonates with you? ServiceSpace Blog: 5 Principles for Inner Transformation at Work | ServiceSpace.org.

Deborah Campbell—- a Coach specializing in transition and personal transformation. deborahcampbellcoach@gmail.com. 734/645-6847