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A Uterus is a Feature and Not a Bug

Today I was featured as a life coach and mom on Sarah Lacy’s Podcast “A Uterus is a Feature and Not a Bug” which is about “badass women doing badass things and raising badass companies and children.”

We talk step parenting and parenting, why mothers (and single moms) make outstanding employees, and how women can deliberately design a career that enables the life they want to have, and the parent they want to be.

I’ve been a fan of Sarah’s for quite some time, so I was honored to be included among the badass. For more, please listen to our podcast and read her outstanding article.

 

 

 

Doing the Girl Thing

I have two impressive clients, one a lawyer and one a doctor. They are highly accomplished in their fields.

On the same day, each separately asked me the same question at one point during the session:

“Am I doing the girl thing?”

And I knew exactly what they meant. But, being a coach, my job is to ask more than answer and so I asked what they meant. Here’s what they said, more or less:

“You know, that thing where I have an idea, then totally kill it, or think that what I’m offering isn’t good enough, even though it’s more than enough. Or when I have success in something after working hard, then put myself down. You know, the girl thing.”

I do know. The girl thing.

In fact, yesterday I was sharing this very story with a friend. She just received a big promotion at work, and closed a new deal faster than any one ever has in the history of the 30-year company.

Then, she explained away her success as luck, not really a big deal, a long time coming, etc. As soon as she did it she realized, “Oh my god! I just did the girl thing!”

Yup. So I asked her what she could say instead. She came up with:

“Thank you! It’s a great client — I’m excited to start working with them.”

Perfect.

But the unspoken “girl thing” that too many of us understand is no longer working for me. And, as the mother of a daughter, it’s really not working for me. I want the same opportunities and possibilities for all my children, no matter the gender. Not 79 cents on the dollar for my “less valuable” daughter. I don’t want to see the world teach limitations into her core, as it has for me and my clients.

I want my 2-year-old daughter, who is pretty badass already, to not recognize “doing the girl thing” as what my doctor, lawyer, and business friend and I recognize too easily. Putting yourself down. Making excuses for your success. Apologizing for your creative ideas. Hearing yourself “you can’t” before you say “I can”.

Let’s redefine what “doing the girl thing” means. What if doing the girl thing meant that girls:

Celebrate, like Brandi Chastain

Lead, like Golda Meir

Act, like Margaret Thatcher

Help others, like Ina May Gaskin

Are Brave, like Malala

Are Strong, like the Williams Sisters

Create Justice, like Ruth Bader Ginsberg

Do What’s Right, like Eleanor Roosevelt

Blaze A New Path, like Hillary Clinton

Are Entrepreneurial, like Martha Stewart

Guide Others, like Harriet Tubman

Stands up for Your Rights, like Susan B Anthony

Care for Animals, like Jane Goodall

Teach, like Julia Child

Manage Money, like Janet Yellen

Rock, like Joan Jett

While writing this post, I got a call from a client who set a lofty goal for herself 3 months ago. Today, the dream became reality. She called to tell me about the interview that lead to the offer, and started by saying: “I’m not going to lie, and I hope this doesn’t appear arrogant, but I did a GREAT job. I knew I had it and I did. I could tell during our conversation. I just nailed it.”

When I asked her what she did in the interview that was so special, she said, “You know what? I just said what I believed and I acted like myself. I was totally honest. And it worked!”

That’s the 2016 version of doing the girl thing. Just finding that thing you’re great at and doing it. Being honestly and authentically you.

C’mon Get Happy

The old Partridge Family song takes me back. I’m a kid again, dancing around on a shaggy blue carpet. Nursing a serious crush on David Cassidy. No responsibilities. Little to no power either, but it’s the singing and dancing that I remember. And the feeling of being happy.

Segue to today: I’ve been reading a particularly fabulous book, recommended by one of my clients, called The Sweet Spot, by Christine Carter.

It focuses on that whole overwork / work life balance thing. (You know, what I do for a living :-)). Though it may seem like well trodden terrain, she offers solutions for getting your life back, enjoying it, thriving at work and  having a short fitness routine that will get you in solid shape.

One thing I’ve started doing is using this free app called Happier. If you bob and weave through the solicitations (not that hard to do), you’re able to use it to record something every day that makes you happy. It automatically pulls up your pictures and prompts you with your own visual memories — just in case you forgot how fantastic that trip to the garden with your daughter was.

Minimal investment, maximum happy.

Minimal investment, maximal bliss.

I like doing this daily; it’s a quick passage to emotion (like the kind I get when I look at the old David Cassidy pictures), which encourages the building of neural pathways of joy. It reminds me to sit in that moment – an take a deep tub soak of positive emotion. There’s ample research to demonstrate the impact of regular positive thinking, gratitude and connecting with emotions.

Plus, after a few weeks, I have this incredible flip book of happy moments – the moments that seem inconsequential at the time, but are the tapestry of your life. So record your happy once a day, or once in the morning and once at night. However you choose to remember your happy, the benefits are clear.

As a wise man once said, “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.” And when you stop to capture those seemingly insignificant, powerful and joyful moments, you’ll be able to marvel at your own incredible life.

When “It Will Work Out” Is Not Helpful

Fertility Advice - Family Coaching

How Many Are There?

I remember sitting at the office after my fourth IUI didn’t work. My colleague was showing me pictures of her beautiful 2 year old running on the beach. She had no idea what I was going through.

Except that she did. As I cooed over her beautiful child, she opened up about IVF. This had been her 3rd go, it was hell but it was all worth it.

I told her what I was doing and where I was. As I said the words, I could barely hold it together. “Don’t worry,” she said. “It will all work out as it’s meant to.”

Easy for her to say. She had the gorgeous daughter, waving to mama from the sand. Pictures like that are like nails on a chalk board to someone going through fertility treatments. I wanted to get the hell out of there, and then felt even more evil for resenting this mother and her sweet kid.

Maybe that’s why I wasn’t getting pregnant.

I didn’t deserve a kid.

I wouldn’t be good with kids.

I wouldn’t be a good mother.

Some really bad thing I did was coming back as karma.

This was my penance.

These are the thoughts I had when I wasn’t getting pregnant. Maybe you have them too. It’s okay to feel this way. It’s hard to explain the stress of fertility treatments to someone who isn’t in it.

But couldn’t she remember her own stress? She had done IVF 3 times? She had been through this, she was just like me. Didn’t she understand how awful it was for someone to say, “It’ll all work out as it’s meant to”?

First of all: “As it’s meant to?” That clearly means I’m not MEANT to have a child, doesn’t it? Because it sure ain’t working out now. It will all work out – like I’ll come around to the idea of being a barren old maid? Because that’s what it feels when you’re in it.

But when you have distance from the situation, does that change? I was recently speaking with a client who had navigated the fertility maze, and now was at home with her healthy 4-month-old baby girl. I asked her, “Knowing what you know now, would you have said to yourself when you were going through the fertility treatments?”

“I would have told myself to relax. It will work out as it’s meant to.”

The wisdom of hindsight. In the moment, it’s not what we want to hear. Well intentioned people see the possibility of a positive future; it just feels so far away when we’re sitting in a painful present.

Today, my client could see that she needed extra time to prepare herself for the baby. Today, she has the perspective to say the baby came at the exact right time.

When you’re sitting in the problem, you feel it more deeply than anything else. It’s hard to step out of the present and imagine the possibilities that the future can (and will) bring. When you are in it, you may feel excluded from the parenting joy that others have access to. You may get angry, frustrated and jealous. And then the guilt comes in.

Those who love you (including the future you), want to put a window in that wall, so that you can see possibilities. To see the good that can and will come from this.

But at the time, the positive people make you want to scream. Because they give you that hope – they see you with your baby. And after a D&C, a miscarriage, and a chemical pregnancy, it’s almost easier to believe in no baby then to gear up again and believe in the possibility of a viable pregnancy. Hope requires vulnerability.

The pain of longing for your unborn child is a most exquisite pain. Because in this wanting, you have joined the ranks of feral animals that give anything to protect their young. The energy that helps women pick up cars if they think their child is under it. The protective power of a momma bear separated from cub. You have become a mother. And something has come between you and your child.

And that strength, that deep maternal power and connectedness to your core will help you create the child you are meant to have. Because you have already become your powerful mother self. You have become a mother, and the child will arrive, I promise you.

Even though that’s the most painful thing you can hear. If you have the courage to believe it and find peace in it, then that whole labor thing will be a walk in the park.

The Best Question a Life Coach Can Ask

The Best Question a Life Coach Can Ask

What would thriving look like?

As a coach, I listen and ask questions (in that order).

Here’s how I know I’ve asked the right question: you stop your flow. You’ll look up or down; you look away. If we’re talking on the phone, there’s a longer than normal pause.

And that’s my goal – to help you step away from, and get perspective with your own thoughts. You’re here, talking to me, because there’s a question that’s tugging at you. Making your brain circle, get fatigued, and not focus on answering the problem, but focusing on the problem itself. We want to move toward the solution, not sit in the problem.

There is one question that is incredibly effective, and I know this from being on the receiving end. This is the question my coach asked me in our first session that made me stop and re-frame my focus.

Ready for it?

Really ready?

It’s pretty simple, actually. Here it is:

My coach asked me, “What would thriving look like?” 

That’s it. Five words. And it probably doesn’t read like much on the screen, so say it out loud.

What would thriving look like?

Here’s why this is the best question a coach can ask. Let’s parse it out bit by bit:

  • “…thriving…”. You know what thriving means. It’s a plant in full bloom. A kid who loves to play sports running on the field. A dog chasing a ball. Thriving. You have an image of this, and there’s momentum to it. We’re not talking about “success”, “doing well” or “happiness” – these words are loaded and complex. Thriving. It’s an active straightforward word.
  • “What would…” This question invites a possibility. Woulds and coulds are possibility words. Nothing committal. And nothing judgmental like their arch-nemesis, “should”. (More on that damaging word later.) It’s the ultimate set up for a hypothetical question, inviting you to brainstorm, allowing you to imagine the possibility of something. No commitment. Just dream.
  • “…look like?” Instead of asking that thriving “is” – is is a static word, (just ask Bill Clinton), I’m asking you to literally describe what it might look like. You want to lose weight? Tell me what you want to wear, and where you want to go when you hit your goal. Now let’s make that happen.

Or, you want to love motherhood?

OK. Are you sitting on a hammock with your baby? Or are you reading a book while the baby is napping and you get a break? You want a happy marriage? What does thriving look like? Is that snuggling in bed watching Steven Colbert or is it climbing Kiliminjaro together?

When I ask you to picture the end state, that helps you to imagine it. And a picture of your future is worth a lot more than 1,000 words. Once you have that delicious image in your mind; you’ve got a great motivation for creating, and implementing a plan to make it happen.

That, my friend, is the essence of coaching: listening to you and asking really good questions that help you answer your own questions.

So, the next time you find yourself going around on a problem, ask yourself, “What would thriving look like?” Or better yet, ask the question of a good friend or partner if you see them spinning. Stop. Listen. And help them go for it. Look them in the eyes and ask, “What would thriving look like?”

Then have a good look at the picture that is painted for you.