Why the Bar is Lower Than You Think

A view from my solo road trip last October.

I didn’t get my driver’s license until I graduated from college.

I grew up in a city, and didn’t have a parent who wanted to teach me, and so I just never got around to it.

But in the spring of my senior year I suddenly had to learn to drive: I’d accepted a job in California, and driving the company car was part of the gig. “No problem!” I said, because who doesn’t have their license at the age of twenty-two?

And so then I needed to learn how to drive, and fast. I persuaded my college friends to take me out for the kind of driving practice you do when you’re fifteen–I still have memories of swooping around circular highway off-ramps with my friend Jeff, and thinking, “Holy crap, will this curve never end? This is a lot harder than a video game.’

I was terrified.

Driving phobia runs in my family–my grandfather started teaching my mother to drive by reminding her that “a car is an instrument of death.” Yikes. And so when I got behind the wheel, I was bringing in all that history and baggage, as well as a little bit of shame that I was behind the curve, and of course, the time pressure to figure it out–and fast. This turned into a lot of self pressure, performance anxiety and more–every time I got onto the road I was setting myself up for even more runaway anxiety and fear.

And then I had a realization that changed the driving game for me. And it’s helped me with performance anxiety ever since.

“Stupider people than me do this ever day.”

People get into their cars every day, and while accidents do happen, the majority of people who drive every day in America do not kill themselves or others. Of course, getting behind the wheel is a serious responsibility (I’m sorry, I know I sound like an outdated DMV manual here) but I had to just be a bad driver until I became a good driver, otherwise I’d never be a driver at all.

Also, just in case you were wondering, ‘stupider’ is not actually a word. Which just goes to show that you don’t have to be perfect to get what you need.

There are things in our lives that we are not ready for. That we’re not good at yet, that we might even flop at.

We need to do them anyway.

And sometimes when we look around, we realize that maybe the bar isn’t as high as we thought it is in our minds, that the level of polish, service and sophistication we hold ourselves to as a standard we can never meet, is not actually the standard out there in the world. It happens to me all the time with client-based work, and I’m learning to understand better what the bar actually is, so I can spend my time and my client’s resources more intelligently, and to fully own when I think the standards need to be higher, instead of falling victim to that persistent voice in my head.

Confidence is a verb, not a noun. You build it by doing it. Behind the wheel or behind the podium, or even behind your computer monitor.

Are You a People Pleaser and What’s it Costing You?

Does it ever take you the better part of an hour to send off an email that should have taken you five minutes, as you agonize over every layer of meaning?

Do you ever find yourself dwelling on a conversation you had with someone earlier in the day, going over every nuance of the interaction?

Do you ever defend a boundary of yours at work and then immediately feel bad about it–and worry that your boss is disappointed in you and doesn’t see you as a team player?

This week in Build Yourself+ Live Online we looked what I like to call ‘saying no to say yes’ learning to implement boundaries to all the unfiltered priorities of others (because all the priorities means no priorities) in order to direct our careers in the way we want them to go. We, as women, struggle to say no because we’ve been trained to be accommodating and put others needs ahead of our own. We also get more pushback when we say it–I get women really comfortable learning to say ‘not yet’ as a starter step which is both easier and sometimes can deflect negative perceptions of us. It’s hard to say no but it’s one of the key skills that will move you into the next leadership level.

Saying no is about time management, yes, but it’s also about unearthing a deeper skill–that of checking in with our inner wisdom.

When we practice saying no, we also remember to ask ourselves, what do I really want to be saying yes to?

When we spend our time and energy engaged in people pleasing, we fall out of touch with actively curating what we want, what we really, really want. When I first started this workshop, I thought each participant would, with the help of my strategies, hit the ground running on pursuing what she wanted for her professional life. I’ve learned, over time, that part of my job is to unlock the ballsy (and yes I used that word) girl within you and let her out again.

So when’s the last time you did something, or overdid something just to please someone? Was it today? Was it this morning? Was it five minutes ago?

Do me a favor, say no once today. It’s one of the best ways I know to tap into your “yes”.

Pay It Forward and Build The Culture

I got an email the other day from a coaching student that showed me I was making an impact. She forwarded an email that she had sent that week to a consultant she was working with.

I think it’s a model for all of us.

supporting other women

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Make Like the Merrill Lynch Ladies and Build Your Circle

Raise your hand if you like self-important people? The “humble” brag? Now raise your hand if you like talking about or claiming your accomplishments? Are you more likely to deflect your kudos with an ‘Aww, it wasn’t me,’ or a redirecting shrug?

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The Work-Life Collapse Attack Meltdown! & How to Handle It

There’s a thinking pattern that I’ve been seeing in the women I work with.

We all know about the comparison gremlins (she bought a house, I’m still renting, wow that woman owns her own company and she’s only 22? and ohmigosh what about all those babies–or grandbabies–on facebook?) Sometimes, when I see women struggle with the gulf between where they are and where they want to be, they do what I’ve come to call the work-life collapse attack meltdown.

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