We are often told we need to be assertive. Assertive, but not aggressive. And that can be a tall order for many of us, especially those of us that learned to make our way through life as the pleaser/appeaser. For those of us that fall or have fallen at some point into this category (myself included) when we try to make a conscious shift, we may find ourselves over correcting and drawing a much harder line than we intended. Imagine a pendulum swinging all the way from the left to the right. We feel guilty about it, and may find ourselves going back and forth in our heads thinking – “Did that come across as rude? “Did I overdo it?” “Do I need to apologize?” Maybe we do end up apologizing, maybe we’re not sure, but things are awkward. This assertiveness thing is too hard, too sticky. And maybe we’re better off just doing what we do best – going along to get along. Or maybe the shift is an unconscious one and perhaps the resentment we have shoved down for so long finally boils to the surface and we blow our top like a fiery volcano. This explosion becomes another mess we need to clean up and we find ourselves full of shame, guilt, we over apologize, maybe we beat ourselves up about it and punish ourselves and we double down on trying to be the pleaser, because good people don’t do things like this, right? If I was a better person, I would have been able to keep my cool and wouldn’t have reacted that way, right? In my opinion, assertiveness is one of the hardest things to get right, mainly because we have so much baggage around it. When I really started looking at the roots of this for myself, I had to go deep. Find the root cause If you’ve never met me in person, outside of the virtual world of zoom, there is something about me you will notice instantly. No, not my dazzling smile or my bright blue eyes, as lovely as they may be. I’m 6 foot 1. If I were male, you probably wouldn’t bat an eyelid. But even though humans are getting taller and taller these days due to better nutrition and living standards, 6 foot 1 for a woman is still really tall. And I didn’t shoot up like a weed later in life. I’ve always been tall. All my baby records were off the charts. I was always in the top 1% of height for my age, since about birth. So you can imagine that when I started elementary school I definitely stood out in the room, pun completely intended. And I bet you can guess what happened. I got teased. Bullied is the word we would probably use now. And it was relentless. It was every day, so much so that in the mornings I’d be nauseous and never want to go to school, because I knew what […]
February 15, 2024
6.7 min read
Authenticity, Life Direction and Purpose, Productivity
This is the question you need to ask yourself in 2024
I stopped making new year’s resolutions a while back. I could never see the point, especially considering the statistics that surround them. Just this morning the news was mentioning by the end of January, 43% of Americans will have already given up on whatever it was they resolved to do. But if not a new year’s resolution, then what? I think it’s human nature to gravitate towards the future. To think about things like goals and plans. I’ve been pondering this conundrum lately, as I’ve spent the last month taking a much needed and long breath. And I use the word breath very intentionally, rather than break. I closed my practice down over the holidays, something I’ve never done before. I went hiking with my husband out in the southwest – we visited Zion, Bryce Canyon, White Sands and many other desert hot spots. The breath gave me time to ask myself some questions, and to do some deeper reflection on what I really want. But the questions I was asking myself were different than the ones I’ve often asked myself in the past. In the past it tended to center around goal setting. What goals do I want to set for myself this year? What do I want to accomplish? Then a logical jumping off point from that question is to then think about how to make those goals SMART – specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time bound. We are starting with the wrong question. I tried asking myself these questions over my break this year, but no dice. I really tried. The answers just weren’t coming, and I did something that was hard to do – I resisted the urge to just come up with something and put it in a spreadsheet. It was really tough because the feeling of restlessness came up. I had a feeling it would come, and it was overwhelming. It was pushing me to sign up for a million different things and to try to fill my schedule with a million different activities. Restlessness is a feeling I’ll do anything to escape. I decided to sit with it instead. I looked deep into that feeling, and the patterns it can often create in my life. I asked myself what was really going on, what was sitting under the restlessness. I asked again and again, I resolved myself to feel it, and it eventually passed. And from the bottom of that well, a different kind of question emerged. This year, I stopped asking myself, “What do I want to do?” And I started asking myself instead a different question, “How do I want to be?” Being versus the doing The answer was one single word that kept coming to me over and over and over again. In conversations, in dreams, in everyday life interactions. Depth. It’s become my word now for 2024, an intention that I’ve set to define my year. Interestingly I’m feeling very differently about 2024 having gone through this reflection and […]
January 24, 2024
5 min read
Authenticity, Life Direction and Purpose
Know your place (and embrace it)
I’ve often mused that that trick is life is figuring out what you want, especially in this world that is overflowing with options and opinions. After all, it was the Cheshire cat in the story of Alice in Wonderland who wisely said, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.” It’s not enough to know what we don’t want, which is the less than powerful place we often navigate from. The question is what do you really want? What does your heart long for? But cultivating a direction requires some careful thought and often some courage. Without it, we can end up living someone else’s version of our story, rather than the one we were meant to create. Navigate from a place of what you want, not what you don’t I’ll share a personal example to illustrate this point. For the last couple of years, I’ve been figuring this out for myself, as I further refine my idea of my business, my calling in life and my priorities. I’ve been asking myself a lot of questions – What do I want my business to be? How do I want it to grow? Do I even want it to grow? What do I want my life to look like? Who is my ideal client? How am I meant to serve? And the answers are not often super straightforward because life will test us on this path. Charismatic colleagues and friends will show up with exciting business opportunities, saying things like, You need to introduce more products into your business so you can generate passive income! Or – I’ve got an idea or dream of creating something large and scalable where we’ll hire other coaches and build a coaching powerhouse of a business. Think big, think Lencioni and the Table Group. Think Kornferry. We can charge big money, travel the world, farm out the work and live high on the hog! Or – You’re such a talented coach, you’d be crazy to define your niche so narrowly and just work with women. Options and possibilities are a wonderful thing indeed, but there is a dark side. When you don’t have a clear direction for where you want to go, it’s easy to get seduced and swept away by someone else’s vision. And I can be just that person, considering I’m a natural enabler and want to see folks that I care about be successful and achieve their goals. Plus, sometimes it’s just easier frankly to ride someone else’s wave. You don’t have to think too hard. You don’t have to do your own heavy lifting and your own deep work. And we also get seduced because you don’t have to take accountability when you’re riding someone else’s wave – if it’s not a success you can always point the finger and blame them instead. Serve your soul, not your ego I’m realizing there’s something so powerful in recognizing who you are and putting a stake in the […]
November 30, 2023
4.9 min read
Authenticity, Leadership, Mindfulness, Well Being
A tip for releasing negative self talk
As human beings we are masters at creating narratives. We create colorful stories that have the capacity to stir up emotion. And that can be very wonderful and inspiring. I’ve often said that emotions are the elixir of life. The problem with our innate gift for story telling is that we often tend to cling to the negative and painful narratives and replay them repeatedly in our minds. If she just hadn’t said that. If I just hadn’t done that. Then the relationship wouldn’t have been ruined. I wouldn’t be in such dire straits. We create headlines of negativity And off this rumination we create high level headlines, scripts that sound like: I am always getting taken advantage of. I am estranged from this relative. I am always making bad choices. I am bad at leadership. I am horrible at relationships. I am not assertive enough. I am weak. I am not hardworking enough to pull that off. I am overweight. I am stupid. I am never going to get ahead in life. I am damaged. I am a victim. I am powerless to change anything. Just let it go, right? We’re often told by self help experts that we have to let go of these negative scripts. Release the negative self talk, they exclaim! But how? Especially when they’re so ingrained. Many of these stories have been kicking around in our brains for decades. Maybe I’m crazy for saying this but “Let that sh%t go” sounds trite and condescending. If it was that easy, I would have done it by now, is what I often think when I’m met with platitudes like that. I often speak about the power of language with folks I am coaching, and direct coaching clients to pay particular attention to anything that comes after the phrase “I am.” Why? Because words are literally magic. And they have the capacity to expand the possibilities in our lives or close them down for good. Words, whether spoken out loud or spoken in our head, are incredibly powerful. If you’ve ever read or heard of the book, The Four Agreements, Ruiz speaks to this when he addresses the first agreement – Be impeccable with your word, who says: “You can measure the impeccability of your word by your level of self-love. How much you love yourself and how you feel about yourself are directly proportionate to the quality and integrity of your word.” Beware of the negativity bait and switch So what would impeccability of word look like as it pertains to releasing negative self-talk? Would it be the converse? Instead of I am not weak, perhaps the answer lies in the reverse – I am powerful. That would be convenient, wouldn’t it? Just a simple bait and switch should be enough to do the trick, right? In my experience it’s tough to go from one extreme to the other. We as humans also have an animalistic ability to sniff out the falseness of a message. If […]
August 23, 2023
4.8 min read
Being versus Doing – What is a leadership purpose statement and how do I create one?
In many of the leadership courses I teach, I talk a lot about the difference between the being and the doing of leadership. The doing is the day-to-day stuff we get caught up in. It’s the systems or process, tools or models that we look to for guidance. And being the task and accomplishment-oriented humans that we are, we often focus more on the doing side rather than the being. As a leadership trainer I often hear this question: “What do I do when I need to x?” X could be giving difficult feedback, a tough performance conversation, realigning expectations, inspiring and empowering my team to deliver, the list goes on and on. And there are several tools and techniques out there that give advice on what to do relative to these challenges. Tools and techniques are helpful and I’m not underestimating the value they can add. But a participant of mine summed it up very well the other day when she said: “There’s no checklist for leadership. And people can see straight through you when you’re just going through the motions.” She’s right by the way. People ultimately respond to who you are being in that moment versus what you are doing or saying. We have this uncanny knack to sense when someone’s intentions aren’t aligned with their actions, or they’re saying the so called “right” thing to manipulate or control. So the leadership coaching question for today is, Who do you want to be as a leader? Who do you want to be as a leader? I often have clients write a leadership purpose statement. A lot of times folks struggle with this, and I accept the fact that it can feel awkward. But I’ve often mused that a mindful life is an intentional life. So why should your leadership be any different? Step 1: What’s my personal purpose? One way to go about this is to have a think about your own personal purpose first. This includes questions like: Maybe there is something that ticks all these boxes for you, or maybe some of the above. There may be several things that you love, but you may not necessarily be able to prosper at them. Perhaps you honor that by pursuing a hobby or volunteering your time to a cause you are super passionate about. There’s no right or wrong way of responding to these prompts. The key is to have a think about them and see what comes up. See where you may be able to find the intersections. Step 2: What goals do I have for my leadership? And then link this to the act of leading by asking yourself: Once you’ve had a think, time to put pen to paper and create your leadership purpose statement. Maybe your statement looks something like this: “I’m excited to work on the challenges of climate change and that gives me a sense of personal purpose. I want to lead my team to innovate and tackle this challenge […]
April 20, 2023
4.2 min read
Authenticity, Emotional Intelligence, Life Direction and Purpose
The Joy of Being Average
“You know what I’ve realized? I’ve concluded that it’s okay to just be average.” I heard this from a client a few weeks ago. He continued on to say, “For so long I’ve been worried about my image. What others thought about me. I would leave every interaction wondering whether I’d said the right thing. Worried that I didn’t. Worried about the interaction. Did I dazzle them enough? Wondering if they were seeing the smart and successful attributes in me that I wanted them to see. I had to get them to realize I was special, a star. Was I successful in getting the sale or the deal? Wondering how if it hadn’t gone well, how I could later manipulate the situation to get the outcome I wanted.” (We all do a version of this, just in case you were wondering if this is unique.) “Sounds exhausting.” I replied. “Extremely.” He confirmed. “And now you’re realizing it’s okay to just be average. How does that feel?” I asked. “I feel free.” I smiled. It reminded me of the moment when I realized it too. And the feeling of serenity and intense peace that came with it. I was so jazzed about the revelation that I even broke out into poetic genius and wrote a poem about it – The Joy of Being Average. It wasn’t a very good poem. It didn’t even rhyme. I even tried to find it to insert it into this blog because I thought that would make me look quite clever, but my filing system must be pretty crap because it’s disappeared. But I swear I wrote it. The Pursuit of Special is Stressful The image management aspect of trying to prove ourselves is exhausting. I got told growing up I was smart. I was special. I believed it. I so wanted it to be true. And it was all very well intended appreciation meant to lift me up from family members, teachers, friends and colleagues. But then I had to prove it. Then I had to live up to it. I spent a lot of time thinking about it. My image, who I wanted to be, who I wanted people to think that I was. An international woman of mystery, a courageous trailblazer who had conquered the globe and lived and worked in multiple countries, started my own successful businesses – twice. I carefully crafted and perfected these stories, used to spend a lot of time thinking about them for when I would give a speaking engagement. It had to be just right. It had to dazzle the audience. I had a whole wall in my office filled with degrees, certifications, accomplishments. I ran out of room for them eventually and started putting them in the bathroom. It’s not a surprise I did this. It’s not a surprise my client did something similar. Our context sets us up for it, and we unconsciously fall straight into the trap. If you look on social media it’s […]
It was a privilege to work with Shelley as my leadership coach! The process was structured and yet flexible enough to meet needs as they arose. Shelley helped me to grow, learn more about myself, and to really achieve what I set out to accomplish. We worked on planning, navigating a promotion successfully, and so much more! I experienced many successes as a result of working with Shelley, she has great resources, knowledge, and really helps with setting the foundation to this coaching work. She won’t let you down!
Having the opportunity to have Shelley as my Leadership Coach could not have come at a better time in my career. I was recently promoted to CFO and was new to the Senior Management Team. Shelley helped me navigate joining the team as well as helped me to determine who I wanted to be as a leader. The Leadership Circle Profile helped our team to discover our blinds spots and to be able to understand each other better. Working with Shelley not only has affected my professional life in a positive way, but also my personal life. She helped me take leaps and has given me the resources to continue this journey of self-improvement. If you’re looking to find more about yourself and how you can be the best version of yourself, I highly recommend working with Shelley.
I have been working with Shelley for the past 2 years on my leadership development journey. What I thought would be a straight line, I soon learned with Shelley’s guidance, was a winding path with several ups and downs along the way. Shelley supported me as I took a deep dive into my professional and personal history and learned how it affects my approach and my perceptions. She helped me to slow down and recognize certain behaviors and understand that I can pivot in the moment or try again next time. Ultimately, my work with Shelley turned out to be so much more than what I expected. Her approach to coaching was exactly what I needed.
Senior Vice President, Consulting
I’ve learned more about leadership in the past six months working with Shelley than I have in my 10+ year career. She is an incredible coach with many tools in her toolbox. The guidance and mentorship I’ve received from Shelley has been life-changing. She will challenge your limiting beliefs and inspire new ways of thinking.
I highly recommend Shelley if you need a coach, thought partner, and guide as you consider the next steps in your career. She provides practical tools and advice to help launch your career exploration, but most importantly, she is an expert at helping you cut through the noise of your limiting beliefs. At the end of our time together, I had a much clearer vision of what I wanted in my life and a plan to make it happen. My only regret is that I didn’t find her sooner!
My career coaching sessions with Shelley have brought me back to living. It’s been contagious, spreading throughout my personal and professional life. I now have the building blocks I need to continue setting healthy boundaries, the freedom to show up as my authentic self, and an adaption of a growth mindset that has allowed me to make bold decisions and try new things. I’ve discovered that there’s always another way and how to eradicate barriers that lead to tunnel vision. These sessions with Shelley have been a great gift and have given me the momentum I need to continue the journey to be my best self.
It is amazing to think where I was only 10 months ago when I first started working with Shelley and where I am now. Not only professionally but mentally and emotionally. Shelley helped me navigate out of an unhealthy work environment by challenging me and asking me those tough questions we never seem to ask ourselves. What are the values of a true leader? How do those values align with my own? Shelley challenging me and guiding me through some of those tough questions is what led to my epiphany and me having the courage and confidence to leave an environment that threatened my well-being. She taught me how to become more self-aware and self-compassionate. Reminded me to be kind even when the world would understand if I did otherwise. And the biggest one for me, shutting down that crazy inner voice (we all have it!) and replacing it with being present. Shelley has armed me with tools that I will carry with me for a lifetime. Tools that will help me to continue to grow and learn. Life can be hard but working with someone like Shelley does make it easier. She will help you navigate the good and the bad and you’ll learn so much about yourself in the process.
Director of Marketing
First of all I would like to say that I would recommend Shelley to anyone needing career guidance. As my counselor Shelley helped me transition my career from bartending to Tech Sales which was a difficult and scary transition for me. From the start Shelley was fantastic. Initially I had no idea of which direction I wanted my career to go, I just knew I wanted it to go somewhere else. Shelley was so kind and patient as she helped me figure this out, and gave me a step by step guide on how to explore my options and make an educated decision. She also helped me assess my skill set which played a large part in directing my energy. I landed a great job within days of my final session with Shelley, and now I’m month 3 I am absolutely loving it and doing very well. It was the perfect job for me and Shelley was the one that got me there. Working with Shelley was one of the best decisions I have ever made, she literally changed my life and I am so much happier for it.