• Read The Beauty of Grace

    Emotional Intelligence, Relationships, Spirituality

    The Beauty of Grace

    I’ve been noticing a trend in popular culture lately as it pertains to relationships.  Evidently, we live in a toxic world, full of narcissistic people who don’t deserve to have our friendship or our comradery as colleagues.  We are often told by various self-help guru’s and other talking heads that we need to cut these people out of our lives. You know the kind of problem people I’m talking about.  They’re the selfish, difficult ones who don’t respect boundaries.  Who take and never give.  And the most appropriate response is to ghost them, particularly if it’s a personal relationship.  Ghosting a colleague or a boss at work is a bit tricker but many of us find ways to “work around” problem people or secure our escape in other ways, perhaps by changing departments or jobs. The problem is, it’s just not this simple.  And there comes a point at which you can’t keep avoiding problem people, trust me I’ve tried.  I’m not in any way advocating tolerating abuse, but there’s a difference between abuse and dislike.  There’s a difference between abuse and valuing different things.  We can put up wall after wall after wall, but the interesting thing about life is that it will keep sending you the same challenges over and over until you rise to the occasion and look more deeply inwards at what is really going on.  Grace under pressure I’ve known my friend Morgan for years.  She’s the amazing artist type, somewhat erratic, flies by the seat of her pants, creative and fun. I’m not, and that has been a point of contention over the years, especially as it relates to timeliness and honoring appointments.  I expect her to agree to a time to meet and be there at that time.  It doesn’t always happen.  And so the tension had grown and grown in our relationship – I was becoming increasingly resentful of her tardiness, and I made it personal.  That she didn’t respect me, that she didn’t care, that she didn’t give a damn.  We had fought about this in the past and I just didn’t have the energy to re-engage, plus, she’s a better fighter than I am.  I was ready to walk away from the relationship. So the other day I showed up for a walk at 8 am, the agreed time, and I rang the door and I waited.  No Morgan.  I called.  No answer.  I waited about 5 minutes and then I left.  I went and got gas.  I was looking at my phone, deciding which yoga class to go to instead, and I saw her name pop up.  Normally I would have avoided the call – she lost the opportunity to walk with me, she can bear the consequences, and this friendship really is on its way out.  So be it. Instead, I took the call and told her I’d come back to walk after I got the gas.  Why did I do it?  I’m still not sure.  But I […]

    February 8, 2024

    |

    6.8 min read

  • Read How to Set Boundaries at Work part 2 – The Art of Letting Others Sit in Their S#it

    Leadership

    How to Set Boundaries at Work part 2 – The Art of Letting Others Sit in Their S#it

    When I think about my own journey, whether it pertains to life or leadership, boundaries are one of the things I’ve probably struggled with the most.  Boundaries with friends, boundaries with family, boundaries with colleagues.  The problem with human relationships is that they often trigger reactivity in ourselves, especially if we let our buttons get pushed.  And when our buttons get pushed we often lose control of our boundaries.  And we all have buttons.  The more aware of what they are, the better off we can be at managing them and our boundaries. There’s a lot of talk at the moment in popular culture about setting boundaries.  Telling people what’s up, how they need to show up with you, be with you, work with you.  There’s a lot of emphasis on having feedback conversations to clarify firm lines and if someone God forbid crosses the line, we’re encouraged to label this person as toxic and eject them from our lives.  That is one strategy.  And in certain situations, it could be the appropriate one.  But in my experience if you follow the above a bit too rigorously, you’re going to end up a very lonely person who has managed to alienate just about every single person from your life.  Setting boundaries doesn’t have to look so black and white.  I’ll give you an example of something that happened to me this week.  Silence Can Be a Boundary’s Best Friend A colleague asked for 45 minutes of my time to prepare for an upcoming delivery that we’re co-facilitating together.  I don’t know this individual very well and had never worked with her before.  I show up to the call on time, as I always do, given that being on time is something I value and something my clients know me for.  I login to the zoom and am let into the room, where I hear my colleague speaking on another call and hear other voices as well as hers.  She pops a message into the chat – “on another call, be with you in a bit.” Now, at this point I’m livid.  She didn’t even think to mute the call she’s already on, so I can hear what’s being discussed.  And she’s expecting me to just sit there and wait.  Rude and disrespectful are two descriptors that instantly popped into my head. I thought about what I wanted to do.  I decided to exit out of the zoom call.  I waited a few minutes, sent a few emails, and then popped back in.  She finished up quickly after I returned into the room and our call commenced about 8 minutes late.  “Apologies Shelley – but it was a call with a potential new client to facilitate something.  You’re freelance too, I’m sure you know how it goes.” Cue the awkward silence. I sat there and looked at her on the screen, and then I changed the subject.  I didn’t agree with her, I didn’t disagree with her.  And it shook her […]

    September 7, 2023

    |

    4.7 min read

  • Read What messages about your availability are you inadvertently sending?  Part 1 – Email -How to set boundaries at work

    Communication, Productivity, Well Being

    What messages about your availability are you inadvertently sending?  Part 1 – Email -How to set boundaries at work

    I’ve decided to write a multi-part blog on a topic that is so important, it warrants a little extra attention.  I was talking about how to set boundaries yesterday with a client, a freelancer who is working on growing her business, and struggles to optimize her time effectively.  I think many of us fall into this bucket.  I mean, who really does have perfect time management skills?  But all the fancy apps and time management tricks mean nothing if we don’t challenge the limited beliefs that are guiding the everyday choices we make. Our beliefs about availability drive our behaviors I’ll give you an example.  My IT guy, James (who is awesome by the way) has a way of working with clients, which he communicates clearly.  I know in an emergency I am to call him immediately.  A real emergency, not a fake Shelley kind of emergency like “could we change the color of the banner on my website – it looks too blue?”  James knows me all too well… So far, I’ve only had to do this once, when my site domain got hijacked and my website got pulled down – a real thing by the way, and now I’ve learned all about the importance of 2-factor authentication.  But I digress… Otherwise, if there is something non-emergency related I need I am to email him.  James checks his email twice a day, once in the morning and once in the late afternoon.  And aims to respond to client requests within 1-2 working days.  If something is going to take longer than that, he gets back to me with a time estimate of when he can most likely complete the task.  It’s a clearly communicated policy of how he deals with email and client requests. It’s so simple, it’s so brilliant, it’s so effective, and yet, most of us do the complete opposite.  Why?  Because deep down there’s often a dark, hidden, limited belief lurking in the shadows that says something like – “You have to be available all the time.”  Or “If you’re not available, people won’t be able to trust you and rely on you.” Or “You have to be available 100% of the time for your clients or your business will fail.”  Sound familiar? The people pleasing poison These beliefs are rooted in what I call one of the three poisons – or reactive tendencies that end up creating a lot of problems in our life and leadership.  This particular poison is the one of the people pleaser – My self-worth is related to how much people like me.  And we human beings are super inept at sitting with the discomfort of feeling like we are not liked.  Notice I say “feeling” because often this is our perception, and perception does not equate to reality.  Healthy people respect and honor appropriate and properly communicated boundaries.  And because we’re not conscious these fears are lurking in the background, then we do stupid things like have the email notification […]

    June 30, 2023

    |

    4.3 min read

  • Read When you feel the need to please, think about this first

    Authenticity, Communication, Difficult conversations

    When you feel the need to please, think about this first

    Ever been pushed into pleasing in a difficult situation and then resented the heck out of it? Here's something to think about next time you feel the need to please.

    June 2, 2022

    |

    5.4 min read

  • Read An important caveat to vulnerability: Don’t throw your pearls before swine

    Authenticity

    An important caveat to vulnerability: Don’t throw your pearls before swine

    The other day I shared something deep and personal I had written in a very public forum, and then found myself freaking out about it.  Social media is a strange thing, and I’m not sure there are many of us who have completely mastered the art of using it.  I felt that funny feeling in my stomach.  You know the one, when you’ve been caught with your proverbial pants down.  The embarrassment, the shame, like when the teacher called on you in the second grade and you didn’t have the answer and you looked like a fool in front of your entire class. I’ve always been told by others that they admire my vulnerability.  My rawness.  My ability to put myself out there and let it all hang out, so to speak.  And so, I often do, and therefore was quite taken aback by my emotional response to sharing a seemingly innocent article the other day. Perhaps I’m not as comfortable with vulnerability as I thought I was? Vulnerability is a funny thing.  It’s a big buzzword at the moment, we’re all told we should do it.  We should lead with it and practice vulnerable moments with co-workers.  We should practice vulnerability daily in our personal lives.  Brene brown says vulnerability is the key to living a wholehearted life, whatever that means.  And I get it on many levels, it is an amazing way of creating connection with other people.  Think about it, how can anyone ever really know you if they don’t know the real, unpolished, not-so-perfect you?  It’s also important when it comes to letting go of perfectionism and practicing compassion for oneself.  Overall, vulnerability can be a really great thing. There are limits to vulnerability But there are limits.  And frankly, there should be limits to it.  Which is the lesson that hit me like a ton of bricks the other day.  You may have heard the phrase, “Don’t show your pearls with swine?”  It’s a popular piece of advice, and is adapted from a phrase in the Gospel, “Cast not pearls before swine.” Okay, I know where your thinking just went.  So the point of this is to not call other people a pig, no matter how much you may believe someone deserves it.  Or to start preaching at you.  The point is to carefully distinguish amongst who it is appropriate to share your heart with and who it makes sense to keep it more closed.  To make a conscious choice to share or not to share.  And then share it only with people who will really appreciate your message. I think every person and every culture struggles with this, but I do think having lived in many different countries, that we Americans often take the cake with this one.  We share and share and share because we think we’re supposed to.  We share things with our family for instance because they’re family and we think this is what family is supposed to look like, and […]

    May 4, 2022

    |

    4.8 min read

  • Read How to Say No to the Needy Networker

    Relationships

    How to Say No to the Needy Networker

    The Case of the Needy Networker The other day I found myself in a conundrum of my own making.  I had accepted a coffee date with a woman I met in a social group we both belong to.  I arrived 5 minutes early, got my coffee and waited.  She showed up fifteen minutes late, sat down, a mess of chaotic energy, and launched straight into a story about how she was new to Austin and nothing in her life was working. About thirty minutes in, I tried shifting the conversation to something lighter.  She kept pushing the subject back to career, in particular her career. I realized at this point she knew what I did.  She knew I was a career coach.  She knew I did leadership development and mindfulness work for organizations.  She mentioned she wanted to break into corporations with freelance work, but she didn’t know how.  She was hungry.  And I was her feast.  And the energy was so strong in that interaction, I could feel myself being devoured by her desperation.  It was a sticky, yucky feeling in the pit of my stomach, and I had to get away. I tried to shake her off and change the subject again, to shift the energy of the conversation, but then she really dug in deep. Then the flattery started.  How I was a trailblazer, how I was an adventurer, how I had built a successful business as a woman, and I am an inspiration to all.  How she just wants to be near me and learn from me. Honesty is the best Policy I offered a few pieces of advice and said, “I can’t wear my coach hat out with everyone in a social setting.  I’ve got to protect my own energy, and to do that I have to establish boundaries with folks outside of work.  I hope you can understand.”  And then I made my excuses, picked up my purse and left, considering I’d already been there almost an hour and a half. Sometimes we call these types of people “toxic,” but I think that’s a little unfair.  There is no such thing as a toxic person.  There are only people who treat us the way we allow them to treat us.  We unwittingly find ourselves locked in toxic situations, often referred to as emotional blackmail situations, by our own poor understanding of boundaries and our need for another’s approval.  And then the gremlin kicks in: “You’re such a bad person if you don’t sit here all day and sort her problems out.” “People are going to think you’re selfish if you don’t help her.” “You’re a coach.  You’re supposed to believe in abundance and giving to everyone!” As a woman in a caring profession like coaching this happens a lot.  We don’t get up and leave when we should.  We take the phone call in the middle of the night from the crazy family member that we know will piss off our spouse.  We spend […]

    March 29, 2022

    |

    4.3 min read