2022 was big.  Big for me at least.  Biggest revenues, biggest number of clients.  Biggest number of challenges I had ever taken on.  Explosive growth on the personal and on the professional front.  I don’t think I had ever felt as comfortable in my role as a career and leadership coach, as a leadership facilitator, a mentor coach.  The pressure was high, but I was enjoying it for the most part.  I was flying high.  I had finally arrived! 

Then I Crashed and Burned

And then something strange happened at the start of this year.  I started hesitating before sessions with clients.  I started second guessing my reactions to things, the words coming out of my mouth, my interactions with people.  Did I show up with a compassionate open heart???  Maybe I’m being too hard on them…Maybe that thing I just said was really stupid…What a lame question!  I’ll never be as good as a facilitator as X.  I started thinking I had lost my edge.  And then I wondered if I had ever found it to begin with.

I stopped the diatribe and instead started to ponder why – why these thoughts?  Why am I torturing myself?  It reminded me of when I was a fledging yogi, at yoga teacher training in LA.  One of the opportunities of said yogic experience was being forced to listen to our esteemed guru rant on about any number of topics for hours on end.  But one rant stood out, where the guru was talking about achievement.  “Achievement is nothing.  Anyone can achieve anything they want to.  Maintaining it over time, now that’s a different story.  That’s near impossible!”

Achievement versus Maintenance

I think he was on to something there.  And then it dawned on me what was causing me to hesitate.  To second guess and doubt my every move.  The gnawing feeling that I didn’t have what it takes to go the distance.  The success was a fluke.  An anomaly.  And what was hiding in the wings (although very cleverly disguised) was my inner critic.  Whispering soft things in my ear like, “You should know this already.  Someone with your level of training wouldn’t be hesitating right now.  If you were emotionally intelligent you wouldn’t be over-reacting right now.”

I spent this morning in tears, having a good cry.  (Crying can be extremely therapeutic if you’re so inclined to try it…)

I made a list of all the things I’ve been struggling with (it was a long list in case you were wondering).  All the things I didn’t think I had gotten “right” lately.  And then I just let the tears flow.  Tears of forgiveness for all the things I haven’t navigated well over the last few months.  Things maybe I got wrong.  Or maybe I didn’t get perfect.  Because no matter how long I’ve been doing this coaching and training gig, I still:

  • Get mad at people
  • Get mad at myself
  • Can be overly reactive when something goes wrong
  • Doubt myself in relationships with other people
  • Worry about setting appropriate boundaries – am I being too passive and letting people take advantage of me or clamping down too much and pushing others away 
  • Worry I’m pushy and said the wrong thing
  • Get jealous
  • Feel resentment
  • Get intimidated by those that are seemingly “better” than me or think they are better than me

This list could go on and on by the way.

And I still just allowed the tears to flow.  And then the most amazing thing happened – I finally exhaled.  The restlessness I’ve been feeling this week started to melt away.  The tension in my body started to dissipate.  I felt lighter.  I went into my morning session happier and with more energy.  The time flew by, and I didn’t worry once about whether I was a good enough coach or had said the right thing.

Then I realized too that perhaps I’m encountering challenges I’ve never encountered before because I’ve grown.  And maybe I don’t have all the skills yet to tackle these.  YET.  But I can learn.

Coaching Questions for Thought

  • What might you need to forgive yourself for right now? 
  • How might you be holding yourself to a standard of “success” that’s unattainable or not super realistic?
  • What would happen if you let go of that measure, and allowed yourself to be human?

Shelley Pernot is a leadership and career coach who is passionate about helping her clients discover their strengths and talents and find a career that utilizes them.  Reach out to me here for a free consultation to learn more about the coaching process and how it may benefit you!

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