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 […]
February 21, 2023
4.2 min read
Authenticity, Leadership, Life Direction and Purpose, Mindfulness
Your values matter in life and leadership. Here’s why.
A discussion about values can often seem like an artificial conversation. It’s a nice to have, not a need to have, right? Something I do once at a training course because the facilitator forces me to do it, and then I shove the paper they’re written on in a desk drawer and forget about it and go on with the rest of my business. Values can help or hinder our growth and development What’s interesting to understand about values is they can help us or hinder us. And that might seem counterintuitive, because aren’t values a good thing? The answer is, it depends. Let’s say I value accuracy. If I place too much emphasis on accuracy, I might find myself overworking reports, overworking data, to an extent that’s unnecessary for the task at hand. Many of us trip ourselves up this way and forget the tried and tested 80/20 rule. One value that I tend to hear a lot from clients is trust. Trust is an interesting one because we often gravitate towards it if we’ve been hurt in the past. Maybe our parents got divorced and it eroded our trust in them. Maybe a spouse or partner cheated on us, and the result was devastating, we can never trust again. Maybe a business partner stole money from us, or a family member wronged us. The list goes on and on. Based on these life experiences we then conclude that trust is the most important thing in any relationship, and we cling onto it for dear life. We suspiciously look for signs that someone might be untrustworthy. We fear that our worst nightmare will come true, and then it does. We reinforce this idea by telling ourselves things like, “the only person I can trust is myself.” Fear based values versus conscious based values Don’t misunderstand me, it’s not wrong to value trust. But it’s worth thinking about the relationship you have with your values. Did I consciously choose to value trust because it’s important to me, or am I desperately clinging to this value out of fear? And if I’m clinging to a value out of fear, how might that be blinding me? How might I then be unconsciously creating the situation I fear? For years I clung to authenticity. It was my biggest personal value. And when I think about my personal history, that makes perfect sense. I grew up in a household where conformity was valued, and I often felt like I could never be myself or loved for who I am. I had to fight very hard for the right to just be myself. I even prided myself at one point of being the proverbial black sheep of the family. I was so concerned with losing my “authentic self” that it inadvertently blinded me to choices I might have liked but wouldn’t even consider because they seemed on the surface to be too conforming. A few years ago, I gave up authenticity as my most important […]
August 11, 2022
3.9 min read
Life Direction and Purpose
It Really Is All About Your Intention
At the end of yoga class yesterday, my teacher Erikka came up to me and said, “Your practice looks really nice.” Quite a compliment, coming from her, a graceful swanlike woman, I’ve often watched her move seamlessly out of one posture to another, balancing on one foot in warrior three without a care in the world. Effort without Intention It reminds me of when I first started my yoga practice. I was anything but. There, in the sweaty confines of the hot room, I was swearing under my breath as I struggled to lift my crooked back up one inch off the floor in cobra. I didn’t know what I didn’t know. I came back to class, day after day because I knew I felt better, but I looked at the postures as difficult mountains to climb, never acknowledged any progress I made and certainly never thought my practice was “good enough.” I muddled through year after year and somehow found the willpower to never give up. Lately I’ve been talking a lot in these blogs about the body, and particularly our connection to it. I’ve been realizing how frequently we get triggered by something, have that feeling that we’re out of control or overwhelmed, and then move about our day, only half really being in this wonderful bag of skin and bones we call home. We lose touch with the sensation of really “being” in our body, how miraculous that experience is. We become, for lack of a better word, “ungrounded” and float our way through life living almost exclusively in our head, in the neurotic diatribe that is almost always occurring in our monkey-like mind. The Power of Intentions So yesterday, I did set an intention in class. For many years I’d roll my eyes when teachers would say that. When I taught yoga, I’d often tell students to do it as well, but I really didn’t grasp what the words meant. I thought it sounded cool and zen like. My intention was to ground myself in my body during my practice. I’d had a tough week, I’d been triggered many times teaching a new course to a group of participants. My mind was on hyperdrive, “Was I good enough? What kind of feedback am I going to get? Was I too honest and harsh in the group coaching circles? Do the participants think I’m some sort of hack? I should have said this. I should have said that. I’m not sure they got all that much out of the experience. Maybe I upset them. I’m never going to be called back to do any work for this client again!” But I digress… So my intention was to look at the yoga not just as an interesting challenge, but a tool for connecting my body to my mind and spirit. I focused deeply on my breathing and recall hearing myself breathe in and out. In mountain I reached my arms up to the sky, to salute the […]
June 30, 2022
4.5 min read
Career Coaching, Leadership, Life Direction and Purpose
What is a personal branding statement? Why do I need one?
There’s a lot of hype at the moment about knowing your personal brand. Let’s break it down – what is a personal brand, and why is a personal brand important in career search as well as managing your career? What is a personal branding statement? When I coach career and leadership coaching clients, we often talk about a personal brand – a simple 1-2 sentences that speak to: 1) your unique gifts and 2) how you add value. Notice I put the emphasis on simple. I have noticed there is a tendency on resumes these days to put a few objective lines at the top of a resume and throw in every buzzword known to man, in the desperate hopes of seo optimization and hoping that something you say will resonate with someone. “I seamlessly utilize my core strengths of teamworking, project management, financial acumen and strategic thinking to empower global organizations to create cost beneficial forward-thinking solutions on the cutting edge of digital transformation that drive efficiency, effectiveness and create a happier and healthier workforce.” This doesn’t work, just in case you were wondering, and often recruiters dismiss this as unnecessary fluff. The paragraph long sentences also read like something out of a Nathaniel Hawthorne novel, and I didn’t like the Scarlet Letter the first time I read it. “I utilize my project management skills to help organizations deliver efficient, effective, digital solutions.” Much better – easier to read, easier to comprehend, and easier to tell the story of YOU. Why is a personal brand important in career search? Your resume then should speak to this statement. Imagine you’re telling a story. And the personal branding statement is the 30,000 foot up airplane view of you and your career. Your resume should then read to explain how you have managed to do this for the organizations that have been graced by your amazing presence. Consistency is key, and it’s super helpful in getting someone to remember you and what you bring to the table. Besides, human beings are natural story tellers. We like them, it’s our way of summarizing things and making sense of the world. Why is a personal brand important in managing your career? But I’m not switching jobs, so what does this matter? Does this mean I don’t need to worry about a personal brand? Wrong again. Because in your day job, you’re always marketing yourself, always selling yourself, for that next all-important project, that next promotion. And if you’re not the guy or gal on management’s radar for that particular role based on what they know about you, you’ll get overlooked. Ask yourself this: How do you want to be perceived in your organization? What do you want to be known for? And then think about: How you are actually perceived in your organization? What are you known for? Better yet, ask a few trusted souls to answer those last two questions on your behalf. You might be surprised at the answers you get. If […]
February 10, 2022
3.5 min read
Career Coaching, Life Direction and Purpose
What is a personal development plan? And why might I need one?
Life is full of annoying administrative tasks you have to do. You may be thinking, why should I add another one to the mix? Besides, isn’t my boss responsible for guiding my career and sharing developmental opportunities with me? Wrong, wrong, wrong. One of my favorite sayings in life comes from the immortal mouth of the Cheshire cat in Alice in Wonderland – “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.” What is a Personal Development Plan? A personal development plan is a succinct document that summarizes three important things: 1) Your key skills and experiences to date 2) How you’re looking to develop your skills for the future 3) What roles you’re looking to aspire to as you progress your career When I help career coaching and leadership coaching clients put one of these together, we often start backwards and answer question three: Where do you want to go with your career? That then informs what skills/experiences you will need to get there – which is question two. What skills may you be lacking? What experiences will help you grow and make you the right candidate for that coveted role? The value of a Personal Development Plan To the extent you’re focused and actively managing your career, opportunities won’t literally pass you by. That pet project that will give you added visibility? You’ll know to ask for it, particularly if you’re looking for the all-important promotion. And the added benefit of asking your line manager to complete the personal development plan exercise with you, means it’s also on their radar screen as well. Who needs a Personal Development Plan? You do, no matter how early or late you are in your career, no matter what track your career is on. It’s important you start thinking about this right away when you’re in a new job. And if it’s not on your manager’s radar screen, initiate the conversation yourself. Prepare a draft, ask for their input. Ultimately, it’s up to you to be in the driving seat of your career! 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!
January 18, 2022
2 min read
Authenticity, Life Direction and Purpose
Not Living Up to Your Potential? No Problem…
To everything There is a season And a time to every purpose, under heaven A time to be born, a time to die A time to plant, a time to reap A time to kill, a time to heal A time to laugh, a time to weep To everything There is a season And a time to every purpose, under heaven A time to build up, a time to break down A time to dance, a time to mourn A time to cast away stone, a time to gather stones together To everything There is a season And a time to every purpose, under heaven A time to gain, a time to lose A time to rend, a time to sew A time for love, a time for hate A time for peace. Nice, isn’t it? I was reminded of this song, or bible verse, however you prefer to look at it, most recently. I don’t know if this ever happens to you, but it happens to me quite frequently: I start seeing a quote, a phrase, a poem everywhere. It’s kind of annoying. I keep hoping that I’ll see the winning Texas Powerball numbers instead. So far no dice, the powers seem to just be limited to prose. But then my intuition reminds me that this is probably something I need to pay attention to and maybe if I’d didn’t stick my head in the sand like an oversized ostrich, I’d probably learn something useful. So I tuned into the message and found myself thinking, 2021 has been a hell of a ride in ways I never could have anticipated. I have found myself fluttering between two states – hyperactivity and lethargy. Okay fine, if I’m more honest than not, it’s the later state. This is quite hard for me to say, the recovering perfection junkie that I am. There have been several mornings that I’ve woken up, and frankly, I haven’t felt like doing much. So I didn’t. Don’t take this to mean I sat around in my highly alluring bathrobe all day with my husband and cats watching reruns of Judge Judy and eating Velveeta and rotel (don’t knock the golden cheese food goodness until you’ve tried it). I don’t need an intervention just yet. I did all the usual things, coached clients, paid bills, went to the grocery store, redecorated my office, planted a garden which I even actually managed to get a couple of eggplants from, until it got infested by these weird snails and flies that destroyed it. You know, normal life stuff. But all the while there was this nagging voice in my head. You haven’t made progress on your childfree group. At one point I had this vision of building it to about a million ladies and using it as a platform to achieve Oprah like stardom. You haven’t written another book, the voice kept nagging. I will admit I’ve started at least two […]
December 21, 2021
4.3 min read