My desire to work at a large company started soon after I moved to Rochester (NY) in the 70’s. It was certainly Kodak-world. Come early winter, there were all sorts of store promotions trying to get some of the Kodak bonus money that was distributed mid-March. When you signed paperwork at doctors offices etc.–working at Kodak benefits was the default selection. “No, I don’t work for Kodak,” I’d say meekly. Sure, I applied a few times, but I never got lucky. Year after year, I envied the workers in March and fantacized what I would buy with my bonus money…if I had worked at Kodak.
Although I enjoyed my human resource management position, I never felt like I had “made it.” My dream of working for a brand-name company continued to elude me–until the 90’s.
When I joined a small division of a large global pharmaceutical company–I thought I had gotten the best of both worlds. I was the HR head of this division (less than 150 employees), enjoyed the corporate benefit package but had a lot of independence. It was a great situation.
Then, the company merged. “Even better,” I thought. After getting an opportunity to relocate to the US Corporate Headquarters, I was very excited. Now in my 50’s, there was ample flexibility to transfer within the company–I wouldn’t have to worry about looking for a job at another employer–I could retire there.
I was making more money than ever before. I had finally achieved working for a large name-brand company…but I was miserable. It would be several years before I figure out all the pieces of why this wasn’t the right situation. There were many hard lessons for the 7 years I worked at that location. I will write more about them in upcoming blogs, I’m sure.
Because of that experience, I learned a lot about myself–what I’m able to change, the importance of using my talents and being true to my values and essence. The job didn’t turn out the way I had dreamed; but I now appreciate what I have–instead of focusing on what seems like a better alternative. Ah! Gratitude.
Have you ever found yourself envying others or another situation–only to learn it wasn’t like you had imagined? I’d love to hear your experiences.
I knew soon after Anders (not his real name) started working with me, I was in trouble–he didn’t like me. I wished I could have just ignored him, but unfortunately, this was the new manager I now reported to. Within weeks, he was making plans to hire someone “over me,” someone more strategic. Logically, I knew all this happened too quickly (I didn’t have time to screw up that significantly) for me to take it personally–but of course, I did.
Throughout my life, I have been a people pleaser (though I didn’t admit it until recently). So, I found myself trying to change myself hoping to get him to like me and have him “see the light–about what a great person I was.” I made several attempts–becoming more assertive, giving him more information, trying to be his “buddy,” — nothing seemed to work. My self esteem spiraled lower and lower–there must be something wrong with me.
It was then I had my first experience using a Coach. Barbara was terrific–she was always able to take whatever issue I had and helped me see another perspective. I always felt more positive and more empowered after each of our sessions. (Note: Barbara would be my inspiration to become a Coach some 10 years later.)
One of the things she told me was that Anders was sent as a soul mate for me. What–you have to be kidding. How do other people find romantic soul mates and I got him? What did I do wrong to deserve that? Barbara explained that soul mates are really people who are sent to us to learn from.
After awhile, I finally accepted her definition, but I couldn’t figure out what on earth my lesson was–except perhaps feeling badly about myself. I struggled with Anders for another 7 years and there were many painful moments. I continued to try and figure it all out, so I could move on.”
Eventually, I was able to see that Anders was sent to push me towards loving myself–just as I am. I didn’t need to please anyone else. The blessing I received was freedom to be authentically me. This awareness happened gradually, but I am amazed what a difference this has made in my life.
I’d be interested in hearing what lessons you learned from people who have crossed your path.
I had always been amazed how compassionate I am to other people, yet when it comes to me–I can be very brutal. Now being a life coach, I help my clients recognize this tendency in themselves.
One of my clients remarked how selfish she was and wondered what she should do to change that. After questioning her a little more–she was simply taking care of her needs. She didn’t neglect her spouse, her children or her friends. But when she decided to join an activity or go to lunch with her friends, she defined that as being very selfish.
Women in particular, become victims of this type of cultural conditioning. It starts when we are very young and we are reminded that good girls think of others before ourselves. This continues to be reinforced and it quickly becomes ingrained in us.
Check in with your heart before agreeing to something–is a great first step in self care. It doesn’t mean that you always do what you want to do–but that you are in touch with what you want to do. Take a little time each day to do something that is fun or enjoyable for you.
When a plane takes off and you hear the attendant’s instructions that if you need oxygen–you need to take care of yourself first, and then you tend to your child. The same goes true for self-care. If you neglect yourself, you soon lose the oxygen and energy to take care of anyone else. Children learn by watching how you treat yourself–not on what you say to do. Become your own best friend.
Do you find it difficult to take care of yourself? What can you do to bring more joy into your life?
It was 2007 and I had just moved into my new house and the movers had left my furniture, along with a mountain of cartons. I was anxious to get out of my depressing motel room where I stayed for 3 weeks, but had one more night. I had to get up early because my pre-ordered blinds were going to be installed at 9:30 a.m.
My biggest worry for that morning was getting Luna, my cat, into her carrier. I packed up the few remaining things and returned to my room for my unwilling passenger. I casually (so Luna didn’t suspect anything) set up the carrier and when Luna walked out in the open, I grabbed her. Just as I anticipated, she stiffened up, pushed her hind legs and got away from me. She quickly ran under the bed where it was safe.
Now what? Talking to myself, I heard myself say, “I knew this would happen.” Oops. “I’m a coach. I know how we create our world by our intention and energy.” I was convinced Luna would fight me because that’s what I expected.
I decided I would calm down and visualize placing Luna in the carrier easily. I sat down, closed my eyes, took a few deep breaths and did one of my favorite meditations. Within five minutes, Luna jumped on my lap. I petted her and after a few minutes, calmly picked her up and placed her in the carrier. She never moved or tried to get out of my hands or the carrier—even as I was zipping it up.
Did you ever walk into a room and notice someone who is obviously angry or upset? Without saying a word, you knew—it was their energy. Luna reminded me how powerful how our thoughts can impact our energy and our results.
Do you pay attention to your thoughts? If you find yourself in a funk — think back to what you were thinking a few minutes ago to cause your mood. The good news is that you can control your thoughts. Don’t like what’s playing? Maybe you need to change the channel.
“It is not the situation. It is your reaction to the situation.”
~ Bob Conklin
I’m an only child. My mother was 42 when I was born. Perhaps it was because she waited so long to get pregnant or her unhappy marriage, but it was obvious I became the light of her life. I can remember her telling me as a little girl, “I want everyone to like you.” There were times after family events that she would criticize me because I just wasn’t funny or talkative enough.
It was a message I heard oh-so-well. Matter of fact, trying to get everyone’s approval haunted me throughout most of my life. I didn’t always acknowledge the power it had over me. It all came to a head when a new manager was hired back in the late 90’s. I had this instant “knowing” that he didn’t like me–right from the beginning. The biggest problem was–I reported to him.
I did my Jane thing — trying to change myself, hoping he would like me if I did this or that. When it didn’t work, I’d try something else. Within a few weeks, I was crushed to learn he decided I wasn’t “strategic enough” and hired someone over me.
I took it all very personally–I hired a coach to help me deal with the situation. One of the things she told me was that he was my soul mate. Huh? She went on to explain that a soul mate is someone you learn from. I was really p–sed that everyone else seemed to get romantic soul mates and all I got was him!
There were times when I threw my hands up in the air in frustration. “Help me out here, God–what IS it I have to learn?” I guess I’m a slow learner, because it took me several years (six to be exact) to understand some of the things my coach had told me–what I had to learn from this man.
So, even though it took awhile, I finally got it–I was enough just as I am. I needed to understand that I had to just be me and didn’t need to change myself to fit anyone’s expectation (it doesn’t work anyway). After spending a life time getting people to like me–I met my match with him. It was a hard lesson — but it eventually released me from a lifetime of having to anticipate what others wanted. I finally found freedom to just be me!
People pleasing is a “disease” that a lot of women suffer from. What about you? Is this something you struggle with? Have you overcome it or are you still troubled with it?
I thought about becoming a Coach for about ten years–but everytime I did, I dismissed it — saying, “How could I ever do that?” “I don’t have enough confidence/skills etc.” “What do I know about starting my own business?” “How could I support myself?” I had a different excuse for every day.
Once I got laid off from my human resources position in Corporate America, I knew it was now or never. I decided to go for it. The idea of all I still needed to learn was overwhelming, but I hired an experienced Coach to help me–it was a great decision.
Looking back, I definitely under-estimated my abilities. As I began taking steps, the next steps became clearer and easier. I learned to look at the road in front of me and not get overwhelmed with what was down the road. And another thing that happened was I became more confident. “Geez, if I got to here, surely I could get to there.”
That first step was certainly a leap of faith, but it felt like the right thing to do! The two questions I now ask myself are: “At the end of my life, will I regret not going for it?” “What’s the worst that can happen?”
I utilize my intuition to tell me what to go for. It hasn’t let me down yet–I never leave home without it!
For years I didn’t recognize them. But now I realize they were actually little tiny dream-lings. (I know that’s not a real word.) These reoccurring thoughts were dream seeds and once I gave them a little ray of sunlight (aka — considered them possible) — they flowered and blossomed.
Like the time I was trying to decide what college I would attend. I thought about music and writing which were talents I had and loved. I didn’t think I was good enough to major in music (limiting belief–big time)! I seriously considered journalism, when my mother reminded me she could only afford a teacher’s college. “Be a teacher, you’ll have your summers off. If you still want to get into journalism, you can do that later.” (on my dime, of course)
The idea of writing a book someday–was always there. I would often dream what my book would be about–maybe the dramas I had in my life; maybe a compilation of my adventures and my friends’ lives. I never quite figured it out–but I often mentioned it to my friends as a life-time goal of mine.
Then, there was my desire to move to a warmer climate. It started while I was (probably) shoveling snow in Rochester, NY (probably) in April. As my friend described her recent visit to her cousins’ home who had just moved to North Carolina, I could feel a curiosity and desire–thinking how nice it sounded. During the 35+ years since that first discussion, my ears would perk up anytime I met someone from that area–and asked them lots of questions. I always felt I would end up there someday–but imagined it would be because of a job.
My desire to become a coach was a younger dream than the other ones I just mentioned. But after getting laid off in 2006, I finally allowed myself to put away all my excuses and fears and I signed up for a certification program. Then, as I was finishing up my coaching program, the dream to move to a warmer climate came bubbling up.
Yes, I did move to North Carolina–in 2007; and although my book hasn’t been written yet — a draft is completed and I have no doubt that it will be written soon! Once I started listening to my heart, it was like I had opened a faucet and water (dreams) started gushing out.
What about you? Do you have any wishes that keep re-appearing? I’d love to hear your stories of dreams you’ve had for years that finally materialized!
I recently talked with a friend who is going through a corporate reorganization. Although he had previously enjoyed his job, Tom now had to rally his team to meet certain expectations–without the tools to do it. He knows he’s in a no-win situation.
I think about the example of putting a frog in boiling water–where it would immediately jump out. But if you put the same frog in a pot of cold water, then gradually turning up the heat–the frog cooks because it doesn’t realize what’s happening.
It reminded me of my last position in a large global corporation. I’ve always been a loyal and dedicated employee–anxious to do what I can to make any company I worked for successful. As time went on, there were more and more seemingly minor concessions I had to make.
As a manager, I had to support corporate decisions–that was part of my job. Sometimes I had the ability to customize the initiative or decision for my internal customers, but most of the time I had little opportunity to influence changes.
Like the frog who didn’t jump out, I was “cooked” gradually–until my hope for making a difference faded. I was laid off three years ago and have had time to figure out the various elements that created my depression. I can imagine the additional pressures that employees face today–in these tough economic times. Companies are struggling and many times reduce headcount while employees are expected to do more.
If this sounds like you–a first step is for you to look around you and become an observer in your life. Notice your feelings as you go about the day. Identify what brings you down and distressed as well as what brings you joy. Write them down in a notebook or journal.
Identify if there are things that you might be able to influence and change. If you meet up with difficult decisions, writing your feelings can help relieve stress. And, once you know what you enjoy, find ways to incorporate those things every week (if not daily).
Most of my clients come to me and say something like “I feel like there’s something more, but I don’t know what that is.” I always answer, “If you feel there’s something more, then there’s something more.”
There are a lot of people that are happy the way their life is. They are content or at least, accept things as they are. So I am convinced that feeling needs to be addressed.
I have buried my desires and dreams several times in my life–during a bad marriage and a difficult job situation. You numb your feelings to get through it. While this may buy you some time — eventually, it will come bubbling back up until you meet it square in the face.
The trick is to un-numb yourself. It takes a bit of time and faith. It’s something you can’t think your way through. The best thing to start doing is to warm up your joy meter. Look around you and identify what brings you joy. Start feeling again!