It’s a fact of life: sometimes, things just don’t go the way we want.
Even when we put in gobs of hard work, when we’ve done all the right things, when we’ve tried everything – sometimes, life seems to have other plans.
A few years back, my client Claire came to see me for this exact reason. “I’m ready to give up,” she said, pacing in circles around my office. Claire was a talented businesswoman with an impressive track record. She ran a successful consulting service , and now she was trying to branch off into another of her passions, and create a wellness business – yet despite all her efforts, nothing seemed to be gelling.
“I just don’t know what’s going on,” she said. “I feel like a total failure. Like I’m banging my head against the wall. What should I do?”
Poor Claire. She wasn’t used to not succeeding. She was used to pushing through and making things...
I’ve been coaching for almost fifteen years now, and the longer I do this work, the more I learn some profound yet simple truths. And one of those truths, which comes up again and again again, is this:
Fear is behind almost everything that’s stopping us.
It shows up in a million forms: anxiety, self-doubt, limiting beliefs, even anger and depression. At the root of all of it is good old fear.
That’s why so many mindset tools are designed to help us overcome fear. And that’s why today, I want to talk about a powerful topic that can help anyone at any stage of life, whether you’re building up a new career, feeling stuck in business, or struggling to help your kids through a tough time.
It’s about being brave.
In The Courage Quotient: How Science Can Make You Braver, the psychologist Robert Biswas-Diener writes that bravery is the result of two things:
Nowadays, we talk about the pandemic like we talk about the weather – it’s everywhere, it’s constant, there’s always something new that impacts our daily lives. But just because it’s “normal” now doesn’t mean that our lives aren’t still disrupted, or that many of us are still struggling to navigate each change. We’re juggling plans for work, kids, and activities; trying to plan for the next few months; and doing our darndest to stay healthy, productive, and sane.
It’s at times like this that we need one simple mindset hack: flexibility.
Flexibility works in some surprising ways, and I’m not talking about doing splits and backbends (necessarily). Let me tell a little story about my client Jenn, and how she learned the true value of becoming flexible – in more ways than one.
Jenn was an interior designer here in New York, and she was going through a lot of changes: the end of a long-term relationship,...
Years ago, I got into an elevator with two people I’d never seen before, and I happened to overhear their discussion.
“Most nights I don’t finish work till almost three a.m.,” said the first person, sounding quite pleased with himself. “I can’t help it. I’m a bit of a perfectionist.”
“That’s probably what’s holding you back,” the other person said, without missing a beat. The next ten seconds ticked by in a tense silence. When the doors finally opened to my floor, the self-proclaimed perfectionist was just then piecing together a response.
And although I never saw those two people again, I’ve never forgotten what they said.
Why has that memory stayed with me?
Several reasons. First, I can totally relate to the first guy. Even though I learned long ago that perfectionism is not a virtue, I still fall into its trap– and even catch myself clinging to it sometimes as if it will somehow guarantee my...
Last winter, my friend Gigi told me a funny story about the time she moved to Brooklyn in her early twenties.
She was living in Ithaca, a small town about four hours upstate, and she was all excited to try to make it as a singer with her band in New York. Two days before she moved, though, she realized something relatively important: she didn't have any moving boxes. (Sometimes these things slip our minds, don’t they?) She didn't want to buy any, since she imagined they were prohibitively expensive, and she was broke. So she asked her roommate, Chris, if he had any.
"No," he said, "but let's go find some."
They walked downtown and started asking around. One person they asked, a guitarist playing Beatles songs on a street corner, suggested they ask at the liquor store. There, the manager there gave them a few Heineken boxes. Then he gestured to the shipping store across the street.
"They sell boxes," he said. "You can get all you want there."
So they went...
Awhile back, I began coaching an entrepreneur named Heidi – a successful, confident interior designer who just couldn’t figure out why her marriage was a mess.
“I don’t get it!” she said, pacing around my office. For someone who sounded so baffled, she looked incredibly put together – stylish heels, tailored suit, waves upon waves of blonde hair. “My partner and I just can’t seem to make it work. We’re going to therapy, and I’m trying everything our therapist says – we’re communicating more, I’m visualizing, I’m even meditating. But we still can’t seem to stop fighting. I’m at the end of my rope.” She stopped pacing at looked at me imploringly. “Can you help?”
“Tell me about the relationship you want.” I said, and she reeled off a list of things.
“Good communication. Love. Intimacy. Trust,” she said breezily, like she knew the right answer and had...
In 2015, the engineer and “Smarter Every Day” founder Destin Sandlin discovered something surprising: he could no longer ride a bike.
He’d grown up bicycling; he hadn’t had any injuries. Physically, he was capable of it. He just couldn’t ride it…because he’d accidentally “unlearned” how.
Destin had spent the year learning to ride something he called a “backwards bicycle” – a bike that had been re-engineered so that when you turn the handlebars to the right, the bike goes left. When he first started, he could ride his normal bike fine, and this bike was impossible. Physically, it’s not any more difficult than riding a regular bike.
Mentally, though? That’s a whole different matter. Basically, to ride the backwards bike, your brain has to rewire itself to understand that the handlebars work in the opposite way that you expect. Everyone who has tried it, many of whom are confidence that they can...
How falling in love (with yourself!) will help jumpstart your goal
I read an article once where Sigourney Weaver told about a time she was in an acting class. Looking around, she thought, “I feel so sorry for all these people. They’re not going to make it, and I am.”
Soon after I read that, I was in an acting class myself, and I sure as hell did not feel that way. But, I admired the strength and confidence she must have had, to believe that. I didn’t think she said it in a mean way – it wasn’t like “They suck and I’m awesome.” It was just a belief she had, a sense of certainty that she’d succeed. And she was right. (At least, I’m guessing the rest of the group didn’t all go on to win Oscars).
But that day in my own class, I looked around and thought, Wow, these people are so talented. How on earth am I ever going to make it?
And that troubled me. I knew that if that was the belief I carried around me, my results...
Recently, I tried for the millionth time to give up coffee. And for the millionth time, I failed miserably. But it was in failing that I realized something – my caffeine intake wasn’t the real issue. It was the symptom of a “tack” I was sitting on.
Wednesday of last week was Day 1 of my coffee cleanse. My alarm went off at 5:50am, and immediately, the thought of the day stretching out before me felt so daunting that I rolled over and hit snooze. Several times. For almost 45 minutes.
The rest of the day didn’t go much better. I got my kids off to school late. When I finally got to the office, my concentration was so off, I wasted a whole hour trying to sort through emails. I felt irritable and exhausted.
So I asked myself, what in my life is happening, that I need so much caffeine to get me through the day? Why do I rely on it so heavily?
The rest of that week, I dragged myself through my routine, succumbing to the corner café only twice. And it...
SONIA: Yeah, so, I was so fortunate. I had played this role of Lucy Cooper Spalding, and it was an amazing experience. But I had done it for five years and I thought if there was ever a time for me to leave and this was it. I wasn't in a relationship, or not a regular relationship at that time. I wasn't married, I didn't have kids. And I didn't have anything holding me. So this was my moment to go. The only thing was this time when I went back, as opposed to the first time when I left to...
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