• Read The Next Time You’re Guilted into Saying Yes, Think About This

    Leadership, Productivity, Well Being

    The Next Time You’re Guilted into Saying Yes, Think About This

    A lot of my coaching clients struggle with boundaries.  I suppose it takes one to know one.  Like any good co-dependent, it’s the area I’ve probably had to do the most work on. I’ve gotten considerably better at managing boundaries over the years, which has resulted in managing expectations with clients more effectively, as I’m much more upfront about what the role of a coach is and isn’t and have worked hard to not take responsibility for my coaching clients’ learning and growth.  It’s improved family relationships and friendships, as I’ve gotten clearer on what healthy relationships look like, and as a result, no longer spend a lot of time obsessing about things or trying to control things that can’t be controlled.  And then every once in a while, I get triggered.  It’s inevitable; it happens to us all.  And it happened to me the other day when I was asked by a colleague to help them out on something they need to learn to take responsibility for themselves.  Normally I would have let the guilt push me into saying yes. But something interesting happened instead. I got visibly mad, and I found myself stomping around my office and complaining to my husband.  I got mad because I value fairness and accountability and always strive to be the kind of person who takes her fair share of the load.  I got even madder because I’ve noticed a pattern of this individual playing the victim and manipulating others in the spirit of “collaboration” to get them to step in on a moment’s notice and bail them out.  I was mad at her, and I think I was also mad from a cumulative effect of this behavior – over the course of my career I’ve often felt obligated to step in and save the day for others who I have judged (rightly or wrongly) to be stupid, lazy, weak or selfish.  I’ve felt like I had no choice but to help, and inadvertently built up a pool of smoldering resentment, as I erred to compromise myself and my values rather than risk being branded as unhelpful. Look under the guilt and anger, what’s the underlying need? Experience has taught me there’s normally something we need to look at within ourselves when we experience such a visceral reaction.  And the interesting thing about anger is there’s normally something sitting under it that’s begging to be healed.  So I looked. And then I looked some more.  And then I realized what this was really about.  It was really about approval.  We often confuse manipulation with collaboration And then I remembered a 360 I had done a long time ago, a couple of years after I had moved into leadership development.  My colleagues had provided anonymous feedback.  Their perception of me wasn’t stellar – I was completely focused on task and results, with no room for relationship.   And I prioritized my goals and deliverables above everything else.  It was a blindspot. I was so desperate […]

    July 10, 2024


    5.2 min read

  • Read Want to feel more joyful? Think about this.

    Emotional Intelligence, Leadership, Spirituality, Well Being

    Want to feel more joyful? Think about this.

    Our failure to know joy is a direct reflection of our inability to forgive.  Charlotte Jojo Beck I came across this quote the other day and it caused me to really pause and think.  As human beings, we tend to look at joy as something that’s attained once we’ve completed a series of steps.  I see this a lot in my coaching practice.  I’ll have joy when I get this promotion.  I’ll be able to tap into joy when I no longer work for this horrible boss, or when I feel more confident in my skillset.  I’ll have joy once I understand what my purpose and my true path on earth really is and have a plan for making it happen. It’s not wrong to seek change, to want to grow or to want to improve our circumstances.  The problem is in thinking that “fix” alone will solve the problem of not having enough joy in our lives.  Our mental construct often frames joy as something we must earn.  The truth is joy is accessible now – in our imperfect lives, our imperfect careers, our imperfect leadership, our imperfect team and family dynamics.  The issue is that we can’t often access it because we’re too busy blaming ourselves or others for the perceived problems in our lives. Forgiveness is often an inside job Beck’s quote speaks to the path we need to take to access what’s already available to us.  And more often than not, the person we need to forgive the most is ourselves. Forgiveness is about letting go of the protective armor Or maybe anger and resentment is projected outwards at the people around us.  We find ourselves locked into judgment and blame of others for the things they have done to us.  The things we have been subjected to – unfair expectations, abuse, trauma, bad leadership, bullying, being taken advantage of.  The list could go on and on.  Perhaps it shows up as passive aggressiveness or full blown aggressiveness with others.  Or maybe avoidance.  Forgiveness begins with the intention to let go of the armor of blame and defensiveness and a willingness to touch the vulnerability that sits underneath the anger.  Perhaps it’s the shame of having been humiliated publicly.  Or of having been abandoned and feeling isolated and unwanted.  Or the regret and shame of not standing up for ourselves with a difficult person.  When we can face that vulnerability and meet it with compassion and love for ourselves, we find ourselves on a much more joyful path.     For a long time, I carried a lot of anger and resentment about a previous work situation.  It was years ago, when I had just transitioned my career, and found myself in a situation where I had been set up to fail.  It wasn’t until I really leaned into the feeling that was sitting under the anger – humiliation, and allowed myself to feel it without trying to push it away, that I could let it go.  […]

    June 20, 2024


    4.4 min read

  • Read Are you at a Career Turning Point? Ignore it at your peril.

    Career Coaching, Change, Professional Development

    Are you at a Career Turning Point? Ignore it at your peril.

    Lately I’ve been feeling restless, which is usually a sign that something deeper is going on if I take the time to look under the surface.  What’s started to emerge upon deeper reflection is that I’m entering a new cycle of change as it relates to my career.  I find this interesting because the way we tend to view career is linear.  “I need to figure out what my calling is and then I’ll be happy.”  We frame the dilemma as an if, then statement and then are surprised when the old formula no longer works.  Things start to feel stale, but we’re not sure why.  We’re filled with an emptiness, a longing we can’t quite understand.  We distract ourselves with more work, social activities, relationships, we find other ways to numb.  But the feeling is still there.  The answer to this dilemma lies in the fact that we change and grow and evolve.  And because we do, we can’t stay in one static place.  Any successful career skillfully navigates several turning points.  These are sometimes referred to as an existential crisis, or a career crisis, or as we say in the South, a come to Jesus moment.  But the bottom line is that transition is normal and we need to learn to lean into it rather than push it away.  If you’re wondering what these turning points are once you’ve entered the working world, I can summarize them.  Ignore one at your peril, it will find a way of re-emerging louder and more painfully than ever before.  The main turning points of working life: Age 30 Assessment (age 28-33) No matter what direction we’ve launched ourselves in post college, we tend to do some reflection and assessment around age 30.  What has been working about the course I chose?  What hasn’t?  What do I want to achieve in the next 10 years?  How will I do this?  What values do I need to pay attention to?  What interests?  What are my family goals?  How am I balancing work and family?  What would be most meaningful to me as this point in my career?  What could I add to my life to make it more interesting and meaningful? Midlife Transition (age 38-45) This transition can be one of the most important in a person’s life.  And if we ignore it and bury the feelings that often accompany this transition point, it can be a disaster.  The proverbial mid-life crisis will often ensue.  Divorces are common at this stage.  Many people, confronted with the feelings of stress, anxiety and depression that often accompany this stage, choose avoidance.  But these feelings don’t really go away, they just go underground.  The True self, our soul essence, our spirit – whatever term you chose to use, still needs expression. How do I feel about my family?  How do I feel about work?  What changes would I like to make to achieve a better balance?  How connected do I feel to others?  What excites me […]

    May 31, 2024


    4.8 min read

  • Read What’s the Secret to Building a High Performing Team?


    What’s the Secret to Building a High Performing Team?

    This is a question that often gets batted around during leadership training sessions.  And to answer it, I often share the results of a Google study called Project Aristotle, which was completed a few years back.  It’s often surprising learning for a lot of leaders, because the key finding was that what matters the most for team effectiveness is less about who is on the team, and more about how the team works together.  Or in other words, when it comes to high performing teams, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. This isn’t to say that technical competency isn’t important.  Obviously, people have to have the right level of skill and competency to be able to do the job they’re in.  But having the brightest and best technical experts doesn’t necessarily equate to success.  We see this often in sports – the teams that are typically the most successful in making it to the championship are the ones the work the most effectively together, not just the ones that have the biggest and brightest stars. So the bottom line is that cherry picking a group of A players won’t necessarily translate into success. So all this begs the question – If it’s not so much about who is on the team, how do you build a high performing team?  Here’s what the Project Aristotle analysis found, and it boils down to 4 key components: Psychological safety The belief in a team that it is safe to speak up, share opinions and make mistakes.  Is your team environment one where only a few voices dominate, where ideas get dismissed, ridiculed, or shot down?  Are mistakes penalized with blaming or shaming language?  Or maybe there’s an unspoken power dynamic, where folks are jockeying for position.  All of these are signs that your team lacks psychological safety, and as the leader, you set the tone for what is and isn’t acceptable behavior. Accountability To what extent are roles and responsibilities clear in your department?   Are they documented and current?  When you delegate a task, how clear are you on the outcome to be achieved and on what your expectations for success are?  As a coach, I hear all the time about situations where a coaching client delegated a task, only to end up with a pile of crap on their desk a week later.  It’s not enough just to tell someone to do something – a good accountability conversation is one where the manager is clear about expectations and confirms that understanding in the conversation.  Are you having regular performance conversations where you give feedback on what’s working and what could be better, or are you avoiding tackling poor performance? Meaning and purpose This isn’t a nice to have or an airy-fairy thing.  The bottom line is that human beings are ultimately motivated by something greater than just a paycheck.  And this is critical in the context of high performing teams, because in these types of teams folks routinely […]

    May 16, 2024


    4.5 min read

  • Read In the pursuit to feel the fear and do it anyway, this is what we forget

    Change, Professional Development

    In the pursuit to feel the fear and do it anyway, this is what we forget

    I’ve never been a fan of anything that can feel like a box tick or a paper pushing exercise.  I recall plenty of such exercises from my time in corporate America, and I’m sure you can also relate.  But there are also things that often get treated as such that shouldn’t be — personal development plans are one example that comes to mind.  Who has time for these annoying things when there is work that needs to be done?  Besides, don’t people learn more quickly and effectively if they just throw themselves in at the deep end and figure it out?  Challenge builds resilience after all! Interestingly that used to be my approach to learning and development.  When I transitioned my career from risk management to leadership development, I unconsciously and somewhat ironically took that approach.  One day I worked in one department and the other day I worked in a completely different part of the organization in a totally new role, with no thought to what competencies I was strong and weak in, what I may have been lacking, who I could turn to for help, what resources were there to support me.  I had initiative and passion and that was enough, right?  It had gotten me through the interview and that was good enough as far as I was concerned.  Off I rode on my white horse to save the day on a passionate high, totally blind to what lay before me. Six months in I literally wanted to jump off a cliff.  Every day I considered resigning.  Nothing I produced seemed to be good enough.  I knew I was missing the mark, but I wasn’t sure why.  I was running completely in a reactive state and a place of fear, almost paranoia.  I felt like I couldn’t trust anyone or anything.  My relationship with my boss and coworkers became strained as I buckled under the stress.  I had always prided myself on being a high performer.  And high performers can perform regardless of the context, right?  Otherwise, they’re not high performers.  The judgment from my boss (which trust me was substantial) was nothing compared to the internal shame and judgment I put on myself day after day.  Looking back, it’s fair to say it was the most painful chapter of my life to date.  A Personal Development Plan supports sustainable growth, not growth at all costs… All this to say, “winging it” is not the best strategy if you really want to learn and grow in a sustainable way.  While I did learn a lot and grow a lot from that experience, it came with a huge cost.  I spent quite a bit of time working to build back my self-confidence and sense of self-worth from that experience.  And that took years, not months by the way.  But this kind of thing can be deceptive, especially when we’re bombarded with messages that you need to “feel the fear and do it anyway,” or constantly be setting “Big, […]

    April 30, 2024


    6 min read

  • Read Be Careful Who You Put on a Pedestal

    Authenticity, Mindfulness, Well Being

    Be Careful Who You Put on a Pedestal

    The last few weeks have been interesting ones – for a good chunk of March my husband and I took a vacation with my parents to Africa to go on safari.  I’ve been in a reflective place since then, thinking about the fun and excitement of the trip, but also thinking about how far I’ve come in my relationship with my parents, particularly with my father.  Family relationships can be tough, especially parent – child ones, and then there’s the added aspect of how we as children tend to put our parents on a pedestal.  It’s hard not to, when you think about it.  I’ve lived it, many of my clients have lived it, and while well intended, there are several unintended consequences in doing so.  It manifests in a lack of decisiveness when it comes to things like career choices, life choices, increases codependency and can really muddy the waters where clear thinking is concerned. When I think about the impact this had on my life, it’s profound.  It’s hard to just “be,” when you’re so busy trying to be someone else’s version of you.  Inadvertently and unconsciously, we give our power away and when we do we grow increasingly resentful of the other person.  Why can’t he see me for who I am?  Why can’t he appreciate me for the person I’ve become?  We feel pushed or compelled to do things out of family obligation and anger and resentment builds and builds.  Left unchecked it can completely poison the relationship.  I thank God it didn’t in the case of me and my dad.  When I truly think about it, for many years I was playing the part of the victim who had to do what he said without any choice in the matter, and my dad was the persecutor in our dynamic.  The more the anger built, the more I distanced myself from him – my tactic was to isolate myself rather than fight.  Over the years I’ve worked hard to pull him down from the pedestal I created.  And it’s important to note that I was the one that created it. Pedestals keep us from being able to truly love Putting others on a pedestal isn’t fair in two ways.  It’s not fair to yourself, because in effect what you’re doing is giving your power away as you seek approval and validation from the person on the pedestal.  But it’s also not fair to the other person.  It puts pressure on them, it creates unrealistic expectations that they need to live up to.  It creates a sense of division, of separation.  And the greater that sense of separation, the harder it is for love to enter the equation.  The harder it is to see that person for the truth of who they really are – a flawed, messy, beautiful human being, doing their best, worthy of unconditional love all the same.  That’s how I see my Dad now.  And I appreciate him for who he is, just […]

    April 3, 2024


    6.3 min read