“I’m not feeling great today Rob. I’m really struggling with something quite personal and it’s really affecting my ability to do my work properly.”
“No problem Jeff, would you like to make a booking with our coach to bounce it off someone so you can work some things out and get back on track?”
What if this was a conversation that could happen in our work culture, in our office, with our colleagues and it would be 100% acceptable? What if courage to speak up about what’s really going on could be rewarded, acknowledged and even encouraged? What if people could be vulnerable and it was met with empathy and compassion and there was a resource to help, available when needed? What if we treated people as the whole person they are, not just for their value for productivity in the workplace, but including the human struggles they may be experiencing at any given moment? How do you think that would impact their overall output and productivity?
Some people may read this and say, but if I’m vulnerable and let them see me struggling then they won’t respect me, they’ll think I’m soft, they’ll question my ability to do my job, the other men will call me a ********, vulnerability is for wimps, my boss will think there’s something wrong with me………the list goes on.
What about as an independent business owner, what if you could share your personal story and it was met with respect and acknowledgement? What if instead of chasing away business, it brought more business towards you? What if your courage to show up authentically was applauded instead of criticized or judged?
What would be possible then?
I’ll tell you what, raw courage and vulnerability is contagious. It’s empowering. It’s awe inspiring. It evokes emotion. And in the presence of it, we connect to our own story and feel hope and possibility.
It was from hearing courageous and brave stories of others that gave me hope that I could get out of the situation I was in. By hearing how others overcame their challenges, it paved a way for me to overcome my own. And how I felt toward these people who had opened their hurt and their heart was unwavering respect.
In my darkest moment, feeling helplessly suffocated and bound inside my abusive marriage, I heard a story of a woman who summoned up the courage to leave her own marriage. It was through hearing her story, her shame, her vulnerability and finding a way to be brave where I no longer felt alone in my struggle. Someone else was experiencing this too. It wasn’t just me. Someone else had the same thoughts and felt the same way.
In that moment, I felt hope and encouragement that there was a way out. Someone had done it before so it must be possible.
And now, almost three years free from my marriage, I have begun to share my own story. I am on the other side of it now, feeling empowered, strong and truly focused on what I bring to others.
I share not for sympathy or pity, nor for attention. I share because I know the enormous power of courage and vulnerability. And the response I’ve received has proven that to me. People have come forward with such a generous and heartwarming reaction. And others have come forward to share their own story of overcoming, thanking me for inspiring them and paving the way.
A friend reminded me the other day, ‘Dagmar, don’t hide behind someone else’s message. It’s the story of courage and overcoming that brings the power to your messages and those who are listening. Share with us more of that.’
So back to courage in the workplace, what if it was rewarded and given the respect and space it truly deserves? Imagine what possibilities open up for our co-workers and for our employees when they have a chance to be authentic, to reach out for help if they need it and to tell the truth. Just imagine how they’d be able to move through their struggles easier and faster, while also developing resiliency and grit. And then imagine, after feeling acknowledged and supported, how much more invested and motivated they would be in the work and in your organization? Imagine the creativity and productivity that would follow?
Would it be worth it?
I think so.
So next time you notice that someone at work is struggling a bit, ask if they’re ok. Maybe even offer a resource they could turn to. Start a shift. Be the change you want to see in the world.
“You’re not enough” “You’re not worthy” “You don’t deserve it”
Do these sound familiar? Maybe a variation of these is more yours instead, like ‘You’re not smart enough’, ‘Who do you think you are?’, ‘You’re not good enough for this?’, ‘You don’t deserve him/her’.
We all have this voice, this gremlin, this demon or limiting belief that sends us illogical messages based on our past – either someone from the past, or an experience from the past. The truth is that it originates from way back in time, to a time we often can’t even remember. But a message was imprinted on our brain that says we’re not enough.
This might even be uncomfortable to read, because we don’t like to talk about it. Most of us have shame around this and think that if anyone knew or found out, then it would push people away. So we hide this thing, this inner voice, the inner critic. We hide it, try to contain it and go about our daily lives, at home, at work, around friends. And trust me when I say, you’re not the only one with these thoughts. We all have them in some way or another.
But we were born enough.
We were born perfect, worthy, loveable, capable, deserving and enough.
For me, it was ‘you’re not good enough’, ‘you’re not smart enough’ and ‘you’ll have to hustle for worthiness’. And so I did. I hustled, and I hustled and I hustled for my worthiness from others until one day I found myself married to someone who loved the game and toyed with my worthiness like a cat toys with a mouse that he’s about to eat.
It was in that moment, which became my defining moment, that I said, f*%# this s##*, I am worth more than this. It was in this moment that I stood up to my demons, those nasty voices inside, and said, ‘no, you’re wrong, I deserve better than this’.
Shortly after, I left my husband, pursued a massive career change and started my new business while being a full-time mom. And through this most recent journey I learned how to quiet the demons inside, those negative voices that kept clawing at me, trying to convince me that I wasn’t good enough.
It was in the falling down, hitting the bottom and finding my way back up that I built my own worthiness, I grew my own confidence and developed an unshakable belief in myself.
How about you? What does your demon or gremlin say to you? How much does it affect your life, your business, your job or your relationships? How would all these areas of your life be different if the voice was just a quiet one that you would know how to respond to and quiet when you need to?
I share with you 5 steps that fundamentally changed my life and that I now use when working with clients who want to overcome their inner obstacles and their inner critics that are holding them back from the happiness and success they want.
1. Summon Up Your Courage To Face the Bully Inside
Just like standing up to a bully, you need courage to make a stand for yourself. So reach in, dig deep, grab hold of your courage and tell yourself the quote by John Wayne ‘Courage is being afraid but saddling up anyway’. And then just hang on tight, don’t let go and stand strong.
2. Tell Someone Exactly What That Inner Voice Is Saying To You
I know this sounds so fear inducing, but hear me out. Shame cannot exist in the presence of empathy and compassion. (Wise words from Brene Brown). So when you shine light on these thoughts, when you tell someone what this voice says and it’s received with empathy and compassion, you no longer feel alone, you no longer feel the need to hate this part of yourself. You’re acknowledged for having an irrational thought, like everyone else. The power that this thought once had on you falls away as you realize that it’s just a thought, it’s not reality or the truth. When someone says I get it or me too, then you can begin to offer yourself empathy and compassion, you can begin to be gentle with yourself and love yourself instead. This simple act will be the catalyst in turning from and walking away from that gremlin or demon inside.
3. Look Your Gremlin In The Eye And Have A Conversation With It
As if you could almost sit down with your gremlin, your limiting belief and have a conversation with it, what would happen if you asked it to say what it needs to say. So, you’re about to meet a new group of people, or pitch your new idea, or present your business to someone new, what is this voice saying to you? It might be saying, ‘they’re not going to like you’, ‘they’re going to find out about that thing about you, and then they won’t like you’, ‘they’re not going to like your idea’, ‘do you honestly think you’re good enough for this?’. So if that’s what the voice is saying, what if you could ask that part of yourself, that’s saying these words, what do you want for me that’s positive? Or, what are you trying to protect me from? Every behaviour we have has a positive pay-off or some benefit that is simply there to keep us alive. It’s our emotional framework or structure that we have in place to protect us, to keep us emotionally safe. So ask yourself again, what do you want for me that’s positive and what are you protecting me from?
4. Get Resourceful And Go Out And Get What You Need
Once you’ve been able to answer the question, what do you want for me that’s positive, then go out and find a way to get that from another source in order to build you up. Tony Robbins always says, it’s not about a lack of resources but more about a lack of resourcefulness. So, start thinking of ways, tools, people, anything that will help you get what you really need in that moment. For some, they may need the voice of a loved one saying, ‘you can do this, you know you can’. For others they may need to refer back to a time when they found a way through a familiar obstacle before and ask themselves, what worked then, how did I find my way through that? For some it may be reading or watching an inspirational story or talk. For some it may be hiring a professional, like a coach or mentor that can help them challenge these negative limiting beliefs and empower them to get what they really need and what they’re wanting at a deeper level. For some it might be meditation, exercise, music, or something that makes them feel good and changes their state so they can think more clearly and access the visual and ideas centre of their brain. Whatever it is, go out, take control of your life, and find other ways and resources to help you get what it is that you are really needing. When you discover that you have the power within you to make a change, a world of possibility opens up.
5. Take Action and Create Evidence That Challenges Your Limiting Beliefs
This is the step where that critical voice inside is replaced with creating something new and something positive instead. A friend recently shared with me that an important part of his journey was that he decided he wanted to create a different result in his life. I thought it was so powerful and captures the essence of this important step. Focus on creating a new result and create actions steps to get it. When you bring your attention on this new thing you want to create and when you align yourself with your values and your personal vision, you create actions that stem from what’s important to you. And when you complete these actions, your confidence grows, your self worth grows and those demons and limiting beliefs quietly slip away. In fact, you won’t even notice them getting silent because you’ll be so caught up and feeling empowered from this new thing you’re focused on and creating. As you continue with this process you’re constantly creating new evidence that challenges that critical voice inside, evidence that proves that voice is wrong.
So keep taking action, keep moving forward and keep creating evidence that you do have worth, that you are worthy, that you are smart enough, good enough and simply enough. Because you were born that way and nothing has changed.
Custom photography by Angela McConnell
When you’re deep in the thrusts of change or you’re about to embark on a new journey, the challenge is always finding stability in instability or certainty in uncertainty. The very nature of change brings about more stress and anxiety than any other human experience.
Most of us try to avoid change for the pure purpose of avoiding the, sometimes excruciating, discomfort it brings. But some change is unavoidable, sometimes coming suddenly at us like a storm in the night or creeping up slowly like a rising tide.
However it comes upon us, either way, we must find a way through it with no guarantee how things will turn out when we get to the other side.
But one thing we can choose and be certain about is how we approach change and the intention we set going into it or while amidst it. You have three choices:
- You can fall down, stay down and become a victim of your circumstance.
- You can fall down, get back up and survive the experience.
- You can fall down, get back up, and thrive through the experience by using this moment in time as an opportunity for massive personal growth, new awareness and positive change.
If you go for choice number three, there is one magic ingredient that you will need for all the stages in this arena:
-and there is no gluten free, vegan or dairy free substitute. Just courage, 100% pure and straight up!
So how does courage displace or do away with the discomfort and sometimes sickening feeling of uncertainty and instability that comes along with change? How does it ease the grief after losing a loved one or a marriage? How does courage allow you see a brighter future when all you see in front of you is the mess you’re in? How does it help you feel in control of your life again?
It doesn’t, but hear me out.
Just over 4 years ago I embarked on a period of change in my life that I didn’t believe I could survive. The events during this time were so big, so emotionally consuming and heartbreaking and demanded every fibre of my resilient soul to respond to and keep going. Just to paint a picture of what transpired during this time, my dog was killed in a car accident, I moved back home after living across the world for 8 years, I separated from my husband, I became a single mother, I moved 4 times and my father passed away.
I lived every day in uncertainty and instability became a familiar friend.
But looking back now, 4 years later, it was being brave and courageous that got me through each step and created who I am today. In fact, after not only surviving but thriving through my recent change and adversity, being courageous is no longer an option. Being uncomfortable is no longer an option. Being vulnerable is no longer an option. These are all now necessary for moving forward, for my personal growth and for healing from the past.
So getting back to courage as that magical ingredient in change, when do you need to dig deep and find your brave to move you through the stages of change? When do you need courage as that platform from where you stand when the ground where you once stood is no longer there? When do you need courage as that oxygen mask that drops down to you in your seat to get you through to the next moment? And when do you need courage as that fuel to push you towards taking the next step?
I’ve broken it down into some easy steps, steps to help you identify when you need to pull your courage super hero boots on, tap into your brave and move through the stages of change.
Step 1 – Accept What Is
The first step in change and often the most important is to have the courage to accept and face to truth of your situation and your reality. Perhaps you have to accept that your marriage is over. Maybe you have to face the truth that you’ve lost your job and no amount of getting upset will get it back. Perhaps you have to accept the changes happening within your organization, even if you don’t agree with them or struggle knowing how to deal with them. Maybe you have to listen to your inside voice saying you’re not happy doing what you’re doing and that it’s not aligned with who you are. Whatever the truth may be, the first and most important step is to summon up the courage to face the truth, look it in the eyes and accept it however much it hurts and brings you discomfort or pain. For this will be the foundation from where you stand and take your next step.
Step 2 – Reach Out
Once you accept what is, there may be a flood of discomfort and difficult emotions. It’s important that during this time you have the courage to reach out and find someone you can talk to, get help from, act as a sounding board and offer you empathy and compassion. This can either be a friend, a family member, a coach, a counsellor, a mentor, a support group or anyone that will support you along the ride It’s here as well to seek out any resources, such as books, websites, or TED Talks that may support youl. It takes courage to reach out and ask for support but we’re wired for connection and designed to thrive when we receive it.
Step 3 – Let Go
When you’re ready and you’ve done steps 1 & 2, it’s time to let go of the old, what was, what you’ve just come away from. It’s going to feel like a loss, and it may hit you quite differently depending on what you’ve just come away from. But when you have the courage to let go, you then give yourself permission to move on and create something new. By letting go you make space for a new future and new possibilities that you may or may not be able to see yet. The important thing is that the space is there and you are ready for what’s next.
Step 4 – Step Out Into The Unknown
Once you let go of the old you enter unchartered territory, a place often called the Neutral Zone. These are the roughest waters and where most people get hung up. Some turn around and go back to familiar land but the strong, resilient and determined push on and eventually find their way to the other side. It takes tremendous courage to move through these waters, to fall down and keep getting back up, to risk looking a fool and be unknowing, to feel like you have no control and to keep going even though you can’t see the land on the other side. This is where another essential ingredient comes into play, which is self-belief, and without it you most likely won’t make the journey.
Step 5 – Reach Out And Hold Onto The New
Once you’ve made it through the neutral zone there is this amazing thing that starts happening, opportunities start popping into your life in the most unsuspecting ways. They may be small or they may be big, but they start coming in. It’s here where you need to be courageous to respond to these opportunities, grab hold of them and go for the ride! It might feel like you’re hanging on to a wild roller coaster at first, but hang in there, these opportunities came your way because you created a space for them, you were down in the trenches building your resilience, your strength and gaining wisdom from your experience. So go for it and enjoy it, you’ve earned it.
Step 6 – Move Into The New
The last step in change is to really step into your new reality and the new opportunities that have come your way. It might feel strange at first and there may be some resistance from your old self, the inside voice, those pesky self-limiting beliefs and maybe even people around you. But push past them and place your feet firmly on the ground. This is your new future, this new thing you’ve created whatever it is. You’ve done the hard work so be grateful for how far you’ve come and give yourself a pat on the pack for what you’e accomplished.