Leadership, Life Direction and Purpose, Well Being
How to Build Confidence – 3 Elements to Consider
Developing a healthy sense of confidence, whether it’s in your leadership, or whether it pertains to your career direction, is important. We often report feeling like we lack it. But how to build confidence? It’s intangible and fuzzy – it’s nice to say we need it, but what do we do about it? There are three elements critical to building confidence in my experience as a coach. As I describe these, think about for yourself which of the three you would rate as high, and which you would rate as low. How to Build Confidence – The Three C’s of Confidence Clarity – Direction is important, and to the extent we lack it, we can feel rudderless in our lives and in our leadership. Do you have a vision for your career? Do you know who you want to be as a leader and how you want others to experience you? I remember when I was making my career change from accounting to leadership development back in 2012, I knew what I wanted, I had a direction. I might have had no idea how I was going to get there, but the passion I felt for the vision I was cultivating kept me going. Clarity is inspiring. Once we have it, we can take steps to materialize our vision. I often have clients think about their values as a method of making a way out of the fog. It can sometimes feel like an arbitrary exercise, but it’s not. Our values guide the choices we make, and we all have values, whether we are conscious of them or not. One of mine is autonomy. It came into play recently when I was faced with a difficult business decision. Tuning into my values helped to navigate this situation, knowing that I was tuning into my own True North. Competency – Building skills builds confidence. Every job has competencies associated with it. Some are technical, and some are what folks often refer to as the softer skills. Things like communication, presentation skills, time management. Leadership does as well. Good leadership is about two main things – building relationships while getting tasks accomplished. We often sacrifice one for the other. Maybe I over-focus on delivery and ignore important opportunities to coach and mentor my team. Or maybe I focus too much on relationships at the expense of deliverables. Good leadership requires balance between these two elements. How do you stack up on the competencies for the role you’re currently in? Do you even know what they are? What are you strong on? What needs some work? When we’re feeling less confident, we often try to hide our inadequacies. We’re ashamed of them. We may shy away from things that will challenge us because we’re afraid to fail. The more willing we are to cultivate a growth mindset by leaning into our strengths and working to improve our weaknesses we better we will feel. Movement in this direction generates energy and motivation. Compassion – […]
July 14, 2023
4.7 min read
Career Coaching, Leadership
Sorry, there is no perfect career. You still have to do your inner work.
There’s a common misconception floating around currently where passion and purpose is concerned and the whole decision of career path. “When I find my passion, my job won’t feel like work.” “When I’m following my purpose, I’ll be fearless. I’ll know I’ve found the right career path. The things that used to scare me just won’t anymore.” Don’t get me wrong, tapping into passion and purpose is great. A lot of my career coaching and leadership coaching work is geared at helping folks recognize these things for themselves and connect to them in a meaningful way. But as far as the above statements are concerned – I hate to burst your bubble, but they just aren’t true. I’ll give you an example. I love teaching, I love facilitating. It’s when I’ve had probably the most moments in actual flow – those moments you lose yourself, time passes and you’re not watching the clock. These are magical moments, as you’re completely present, mindful and 100% engaged in what you’re doing. I often suggest coaching clients think about times when they have entered this state as a way of connecting with activities and topics that bring joy. The more you notice a correlation between flow moments and a certain activity, it may be a good career path option to explore. There is no career path that will deliver constant flow But that doesn’t mean shifting your focus to that activity or career path will automatically bring you into an instant state of flow 100% of the time. The human experience is way more complicated than that. I’ve also had a lot of scary moments as a trainer and a facilitator. Difficult participants, difficult clients, difficult colleagues. Logistical challenges where a room hasn’t been ready, the materials failed to show up or a flash flood was suddenly headed my way with a room full of participants and no idea what to do. Add to this my personal favorite – incomplete or incoherent course content that’s only been delivered to me a day or so before a program and I’m expected to pull off a miracle with no time to prepare. Before every delivery I’m a little bit nervous. There are often insecurities that come up – What if I don’t know enough? What if I get asked a question I don’t know the answer to and look stupid in front of participants? What if I can’t handle the challenging dynamics in the room? Things are often coming at a facilitator a million miles a minute. What if I miss something? What if the feedback is negative from the participants and they express it was a waste of their time? What if this team or coachee doesn’t get the outcome they’re looking for? I can’t recall a single delivery where I haven’t felt at least a twinge of anxiety in the run up to a session starting. And yet I do it anyway. Day in and day out, over and over again. I show […]
May 17, 2023
6.2 min read
Career Coaching, Emotional Intelligence, Well Being
Feeling stuck? Learn to recognize the pesky voice of your inner critic.
There’s often a disconnect between what we want and where we find ourselves in this journey called life. Maybe you come up with an idea of something to try or to learn, but you find yourself quickly dismissing it or finding reasons to rationalize why it would never work. We often mistakenly perceive these things as a lack of motivation. “I guess I just didn’t want it enough. But when I find the right thing, I’ll know it because I’ll suddenly be motivated and filled with an intense passion!” Wrong. Motivation doesn’t just fly out of the air when you find the right thing. There is no right thing by the way. Cultivating motivation and passion has a lot more to do with what voices you’re letting speak inside that crazy thing called your head, rather than the specific thing that you’re focused on. In my experience as a coach, folks typically are stuck for one of two reasons. The answer lies in the source of the stuckness, and whether it has to do with an outer block or an inner block. What is an outer block? An outer block is an external constraint or barrier that gets in the way of a person achieving their goal. It’s something that needs to be planned for, managed, and actively worked. Let’s say I’m thinking of making a career transition, and I want to move into finance. Education will obviously be a barrier to me achieving this goal if I know nothing about numbers. So identifying a course or a program to enroll in, using time management skills to plan for this course, budgeting for this course will be key. Outer blocks are relatively straightforward and easy to coach. The problem is that most of us suffer from inner blocks when there is a disconnect from where we currently are to where we want to be, when we feel stuck or are lacking motivation. The sinister world of the inner block and the inner critic In my time as a coach, I’ve never met a client (including myself) who didn’t suffer from inner blocks and the curse of the inner critic. An inner block is a deep-seated belief that who we are and what we are just isn’t good enough and will never be enough. We all have an inner critic. Mine’s name is Gertie. Here she is: Gertie loves to fly around my head at warp speed and bump into things. She squeals with glee as she yells, “You don’t work hard enough Shelley!” Deep down Gertie knows that I’m lazy and I’ll never do what it takes to finish that new initiative or project. That online leadership academy I’ve been thinking about building and piloting – What a silly pipe dream! And then I start thinking to myself, “Well, maybe it wasn’t that important after all. Maybe I just didn’t want it that bad.” Or maybe I do, and I just allowed myself to get derailed because the inner critic […]
May 8, 2023
5.3 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, Well Being
Perfect is the Enemy of Growth (not Good)
On my desk I keep a small statue. It’s a beauty pageant participation trophy I got off the internet for $4.99 plus $19.99 in shipping and handling. I even had my name engraved on it. She sits proudly on my desk looking at me, all smug with her right hand coyly resting on her hip, standing up perfectly straight in her big poofy skirt with her sash draped proudly over her chest. She sits on my desk not to remind me of the beauty pageant I never won (or even entered for that matter). She sits there to remind me of the evils of striving for perfection. And when you think about it, many of us get caught in this trap. We get caught in the trap, and we don’t follow through. We get caught in the trap and we give up before we’ve even started, because whatever we produce just won’t be good enough. We won’t be good enough. So why even bother? Or maybe we try and we don’t exactly meet the goal, or the target. And then we beat ourselves up about it. Here’s an example. I set myself the goal of writing this blog once a week on January 1st of this year. I’ve dutifully done it every week, except one in September when I was on vacation. And then the end of the year rolled around and I’ve missed a week or two. And then my thoughts the other day turned to – “See! You didn’t do it. You never follow through! What kind of coach are you, you can’t even finish strong when you made a big deal about starting something. You might as well give up, you hack!” I could really listen to that voice. Tune into and wallow in my misery of failure. Revel in the fact that I’m an impostor that doesn’t deserve to use the word coach. I could do all that, and don’t think I didn’t think about it. And then I took my own advice, and remembered sometimes it’s actually helpful to practice what you preach. One of my favorite books which I often have clients read is one called Mindset, the new neuroscience of success. In it, the author Dweck talks about the difference between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset. Fixed Mindset = Proving The fixed mindset is all about proving. Proving one is good enough, smart enough and gosh darn it, that people like you. (I’m hoping someone will catch the Stuart Smalley reference here…) Many of us go through life locked into a fixed mindset a lot of the time. As a result of it, we often have difficulty accepting criticism, rising to the challenge of something new or unexpected because we might fail or collaborating effectively with others because we view them as competition. We have difficulty because the emphasis is on proving. I have to prove I can finish what I start, and if I don’t, I’m an impostor. Growth Mindset […]
December 8, 2022
4.5 min read
Awareness is great, but don’t forget to act
For years, I chased the big insights. I think many of us do. Particularly if we fall into the category of someone who is super interested in personal development and mistakenly intent on “fixing” ourselves (I stubbornly argue there is nothing in you that ever needs to be fixed) the insights are like gold and can often feel addicting at times. Perhaps we feel lighter for a while, our perspective has changed. We can feel our growth. We might start to recognize that we’re showing up differently as opposed to embracing that old bad habit. And then we have a day where we are faced with all the old problems, and we fall into the trap yet again. And we may start to wonder, how did I end up here? Didn’t I already learn this lesson? I thought I had figured this out, why am I back in the same place? Development can and will be messy This is why I often tell folks when they contact me for a consult that development is a messy business. Some days it can feel like you’ve taken one step forward and then two steps back. I use the word “feel” for a reason because in my experience the trajectory is typically up, even though it’s never a straight line. I say this because I’ve noticed a trend in myself and human beings in general, who can make great strides through new insight and shifting patterns of awareness, but often lack taking action that will help to reinforce that new insight. Here’s an example to illustrate what I mean. I start to recognize how important it is to be grounded in my body daily. I recognize the power of yoga in my life. And then I get busy, and for a few weeks I fool myself into thinking it’s not as necessary as I thought, and I stop doing it. And then I wonder why I’m feeling so restless all the time. Why I’m feeling disconnected from my purpose as a coach and trainer, and everything starts to feel more like a daily grind. I wonder why I’m snappier at people. Why I’m confused about the things that really matter in life. Or perhaps I recognize that part of the “problem” with myself is the lack of compassion I have for myself. Because of this I can’t hold appropriate boundaries with friends or family members, as I’m always needing and chasing for their approval. Or I dimmish my accomplishments thinking they’re not good enough, which ultimately steals my joy or keeps me from trying something new. I get the whopping insight, perhaps even heal some old childhood wounds with the help of coaching or therapy that caused the deficit in the first place. And then a few months later, wham, bam, I find myself in the soup again. The insight has flickered out because I’ve forgotten to make it a practice. I mistakenly assumed that was just “fixed” now. Don’t forget to act […]
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.