Posts Tagged: career

The Curse of the World Changer: Self-Doubt

“What if I made the wrong decision? What if I am on the wrong path? What if all of this, is just a bad mistake?” Patricia sat on the couch and verbalized what she’d been stewing for weeks. She had just made some giant changes in her career and she worried that somehow she had screwed everything up.

Patricia is not the only one who wonders this. Anyone who takes a risk at any level experiences fears of the unknown and of immobilizing self-doubt. Those of us who challenge the status quo because we believe in something better will ultimately stumble with self-doubt. I primarily work with people during crossroads stages in their lives, and after 18 years in this profession, I have noticed patterns emerge. Those folks who are determined to change their world for the better take extraordinary personal and professional risk to accomplish their goals. They say the hard things, they hear the hard things, and they make necessary sacrifices. They stand up for what is right and what they believe. They listen to the truth, even if it hurts. They resist the path of least resistance.


There are many crossroads decisions in our lives, some big and some small. But the self-doubt that plagues World Changers can stop you in your tracks, if you let it. I’ve seen self-doubt immobilize World Changers to the point of bewilderment. Just when they are making great strides, knocking down giants, and conquering goals, a wave of self-doubt hits them and sets them back. These motivated, spirited world changers get sidelined with fears, responsibilities, guilt, and doubt. They struggle to move through it, putting one foot in front of the other.

Fear is at the Root of Self Doubt


Some of the most resilient and get-er-done people I know get sideline by fear and self-doubt. Here are the things you might be afraid of.

What World Changers are Afraid Of

  • Afraid of your own potential: What if you fulfilled your purpose and potential in this life?
  • Afraid you can’t do it on your own. I know, I’ve been here too. I think things like, “But I don’t know enough to reach that goal,” or “I don’t have enough _____ to make that happen.”
  • Afraid you will be a disappointment. You wonder if you will disappoint others, God and yourself.
  • Afraid that God isn’t as good as He says He is. Another version of this is, Afraid God doesn’t love me as much as I hoped he did.
  • Afraid you’ve made a mistake: You wonder if the mistakes you’ve made are so irreparable that you won’t be able to recover.
  • Afraid of being insignificant: You wonder if your life will add up to a whole lot of nothing, and the things that you put your time and effort into just flop.

These fears are common to those people who put themselves out there, take risks and change the world around them. When World Changers make a change in their life, it comes with risk, sacrifice, and increased vulnerability. When you’re doing something big, something hard, and something good, be prepared for external and internal challenge. It’s normal. Ask yourself…

  • How do I respond to challenge?
  • Where do I give my power away?
  • What is taking more from me, than it’s giving?
  • Where do I need to ask for help?
  • What do I want to grow?

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As you ask yourself these questions, keep in mind that anytime you are doing big things, or making big changes, you will be challenged, tempted and delayed. That is just part of the process. How you respond to these challenges, temptations and delays is the key. Here are some ways that World Changers respond.

Things That World Changers Do

  • Align with Reality: You have a solid grasp of what is true and what is not. You are not interested in worst case scenarios, wishful thinking, someone to rescue you, or the fantasy. You do your research and you deal in reality. You’re big enough to handle the truth even if it’s hard to hear. Truth is sacred.
  • Blue Book Buyer: My dad carried around a little blue book that gave the current value of any car, anywhere and anytime. The Blue Book would tell him how much something was worth. You are a World Changer, if you know your value. You don’t sell yourself short, or value others more or less than yourself. You don’t stick around if someone is not valuing you, and you don’t use other people for your own personal gain. People are valuable.
  • Leaving behind what is good, to go after what is best. You are willing to take a risk for yourself. This is very important. You could stay status quo, but you know there is more to life than the easy life. You trust yourself to know that life is about taking risks, making hard decisions, and pushing past fears. There is a better way.
  • Get Out While the Gettin’s Good: If something is harmful, abusive, wicked or wrong, you know to separate yourself from it to protect yourself and the others around you. Even if leaving comes with loss, cutting your losses earlier is better. You know that harmful behavior is not supposed to be ignored or pacified. You know that bullies should have consequences. Even if abuse is what you have known in your past or present, you are not willing to let it be a part of your future. You are worth more.
  • Pick the Right Pain: If you are a World Changer, then you know the difference between the pain of injury, and the pain of growth. World Changers know that injurious pain should be avoided, and growing pain should be embraced. The reality is that you cannot choose a pain free life. However, you can choose the type of pain you experience. World Changers choose the kind of pain that results in strength, growth, wisdom and future goals. Use pain to your advantage.

If you are experiencing a lot of self doubt, chances are that you are about to embark on a sizable change for the good.



Ten Secrets to Understanding Entrepreneur Depression: and What to do About Them

If you’re reading this, it’s because you or someone you love is a bright, talented, motivated person with big ideas… and possibly at risk for depression too. If you’re familiar with entrepreneurism, and the personality that often accompanies it, you’ll know that failures common to entrepreneurialism can cause depression. 

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Entrepreneurs often feel alone in their endeavors, their challenges, and yes, even their emotional ups and downs. They recognize they are a little different. They know they are not like the rest. They are a little more driven, a little more obsessed and a little less content than the average person.  However, every strength twins as a weakness. Every positive has it’s negative. And every driven, high performing, hard-working entrepreneur has a down side. Often that down side is depression. Here are the top 10 problems common to entrepreneurs that lead to depression, and steps to turn it around.

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Top 10 Problems Common to Entrepreneurs

1.      Feigned optimism. Entrepreneurs need others to believe in them for their ventures to succeed. Often, they don’t feel like they can show doubts, fears or insecurities because it will lead others to doubt. Hiding these feelings compounds them and makes them worse.

2.      Impossible Goal Conflict. Entrepreneurs feel damned if they do and damned if they don’t. They feel trapped into the impossible task of making investors, employees and family happy, often feeling like they fail at all three.

3.      Future Tripping: Entrepreneurs’ minds may frequently review all the worst-case scenarios, trying to find imaginary solutions to things that never actually happen. Resting, meditating or staying in the present actually feels lazy and unproductive to them. Unfortunately, future tripping is a fast track to a depression crash.

4.      Musterbation: Entrepreneurs often feel a sense of being over responsible for too many things and to too many people. These things are largely out of their control, but they try to control them anyway. Their impossible expectations of perfection sound like, “I must be my best,” and  “I must make the right decision,” and “I must not let them down.” They musterbate themselves into a hole, leaving little energy for creative problem solving.

5.      Rumination: Regret can be a real killer if it is not effectively used for forward learning. Entrepreneurs have to collect a few failures under their belt in order to qualify as real entrepreneurs, right? But belaboring those failures can negate their usefulness.

6.      Chronic Anxiety: Acute stress is the reaction to an immediate threat and is considered desirable as it primes your brain for peak performance. But Chronic, unresolved stress increases the stress hormone cortisol and affects brain functioning, and can increase the occurrence of mood disorders and physical illness. Entrepreneurs can go from one stressor to the next without taking necessary time to debrief.

7.      Risky Business: The challenge is what excites the entrepreneur, but an environment fraught with interminable risk of failure can haunt the most positive among us. Starting a new business often requires a serious amount of debt in the beginning. The pressure of being indebted can take entrepreneurs to their breaking point.

8.      PTSD. Seriously. I’m not even joking. Once an entrepreneur has tasted painful, dream wrecking failure, traumatic residue is left behind making current risk seem bigger, scarier and insurmountable. But the scale of the current problem is a lot less than the scale of the emotional reaction.

9.      Hypomanic Let Downs: Sometimes entrepreneurs’ ambitious, little-to-no-sleep, hyperactive, get-er-done high life comes down. Down off the high. Whether it’s after a launch, or after a great accomplishment or a less than fantastic result, the high ends in a low. They leave their team, they go home, and the let down is real.

10.   Isolation and Lack of support: It’s no surprise to an entrepreneur that it’s lonely at the top. And at the bottom too, for that matter. They feel like they don’t have a “trusted someone” to talk things over with, or who truly understands the pressure.

Well, that list was depressing.

If you’re an entrepreneur, you know that the same passions that drive you, can consume you too. It’s necessary to put those passions outside of yourself just long enough to take care of yourself. Here’s how.

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So What Should You Do to Cope?

  1. The older, the wiser and the more seasoned among us would say, “Take a One-Day-at-a-Time approach.”
  2. Be honest about the way you’re feeling. You can be honest about your insecurities and still be strong. Seriously. It’s a thing.
  3. Instead of musterbating and ruminating, take a day to play. Do something enjoyable, for Pete’s sake. Remember, you’re not God so you don’t have to be perfect.
  4. Instead of anxiously asking yourself, “What if this happens,” or “what if that happens,” tell yourself, “Whatever happens, I’ll be able to handle it. I’ve done hard things before, I can do hard things again.”
  5. Anxiety kills creativity.  So instead of fueling chronic stress, treat it to a doctor’s visit.
  6. When in doubt, run it out. Remember physical exercise is your brain’s friend. And you like your brain. You want it to work well.
  7. Meditate. This is a skill that can be taught and learned, and can rejuvenate a tired mind.
  8. Self-worth doesn’t equal net worth. Be kind to yourself before you’re a success. Don’t make self-love conditional on your success.
  9. PTSD requires a skilled clinician to treat it well. Treatment doesn’t have to take months and months. Depending on the circumstance, PTSD can be treated relatively quickly.
  10. Reach out to others in similar boats. Tell your story, and let them tell theirs. Make sure you are actively involved with other people who have similar passions and experiences. Spending time together will help you recharge.

I’ve talked with brilliant, motivated, skilled people who, because of facing too many failures too many times, started to consider suicide as a way out. One man told me that his experience of bankruptcy felt so hopeless and humiliating, it drove him to consider ending his life. His thoughts truly scared him. He didn’t know he could drop so low, but he had. It was then, that he reached out to a counselor and some family members about how he was feeling. He took a bold step to get the help he needed. Today, he is running a very successful business and is just about ready to sell it for 20 times the amount he started with.

If you are an entrepreneur and have faced feelings of depression, I hope you know you are in good company.The world needs your creativity, your vibrancy and your stick-to-it-tive-ness. Don’t let another day go by without giving yourself the support you need.

Can the American Woman Really Have it All?

“You have a condition that usually only occurs in people over 60,” my doctor said as she typed in her lap top. “Have you been under a lot of stress lately?”
Hmmm, does she mean balancing the needs of my family, and my growing business? Or does she mean the PTA meeting I skipped so I could meet a writing deadline. By “stress” could she mean the lists that don’t get checked off, or the emails that don’t get opened, or the dog that doesn’t get walked? Which stressful event was my doctor alluding to, and how could I answer “yes” without shouting, “Isn’t every working mother- are you crazy?!!”

“You know,” she continued, “You will probably get this again if you don’t do something about your stress level.”

Shingles. That’s what she diagnosed me with. Shingles is this terrible burning sensation that attacks the nerves underneath your skin until you eventually erupt into mischievous oozy bumps. Awesome. I’m a therapist. I preach self care. I believe in balance. I teach people how to make and keep healthy boundaries. And I have a stress-related, immune deficiency condition that no 38 year old should get.

Wake up call.

Come-to-Jesus moment.

Time to take some things. Off. The. Plate.

So, when Marissa Mayer of Yahoo announced no more working from home, I paid attention. When Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandbert told American women to “Lean In”, I listened.  What are the women at the top saying about their positions, their work-life balance? What are they saying about their priorities? How do they balance it, and what are their secrets?

Turns out, they probably experience the same things I do (expect for the salary… that’s probably a little different.)

Erin Callin, former CFO of Lehman Brothers before the crash, recounts in her New York Times piece this weekend that “Work always came first, before family, friends, and marriage- which ended just a few years later.” She goes on to say, “Until recently, I thought my singular focus on my career was the most powerful ingredient in my success. But I am beginning to realize that I sold myself short… there were diminishing returns to that kind of labor.”

Though admired by many young women who see Mrs. Callin as a hero and an over-comer of the gender barrier, she is fraught with regret.

University of Michigan business professor Marina Whitman and corporate executive says in a recent CNN article by Todd Leopold, “I think this thing about ‘can women have it all?’ or ‘can’t they have it all?’ is kind of a silly argument. Yes, you may have it all, but not all at once.”

And what about Marissa Mayer banishing the working-from-home flexibility? She certainly has gotten a lot of back lash. Some of my working mother buddies say she ought to be ashamed of herself. But it has got me thinking that maybe “working from home” for the working mother, is just playing into the illusion that women really can have it all. That there is some ideal out there that a woman can be at home with her smiling contented children playing at her feet, while sitting at a desk with phone in hand, lap top open while climbing the corporate ladder. Maybe we’ve bought into the illusion that we “should” be able to do it all. Maybe we think, “if only my work schedule was ‘flexible enough’ then I could make that PTA meeting, I could take that work call while mixing the baby formula,” or in my case, I could schedule myself to being two places at one time and be half committed to both. Ugh.

So what did I learn from Shingles? Well, for one thing, I’m taking the Sabbath. I’m working my tail off Monday through Friday 8:30 to 3 until Sweet and Sassy get home from school. I’m shutting my lap top until they go to bed at night, and I’m wearing them out on Saturdays with chores, sports and lots of family fun. I schedule a date night with Mr. Dashing and make deposits into the marriage bank account. Come Sunday, I don’t return e-mail, I don’t write blogs, I don’t do anything that could remotely seem like work. I go to church, I go out to eat, and I read for FUN, not for work. Then I try to catch up on some Duck Dynasty, which really puts me into relaxation mode, because I’m pretty sure they haven’t worked a day in their lives, unless you count catching bull frogs as work.

Everything has a price tag. Everything worthwhile requires sacrifice. Some of us choose work, some of us chose family, and then the crazy ones, like me choose to work out the balance of both. The sacrifices I make as a working mother are continual and on-going. The fact is, if I throw the soft ball with Sweet, then I’m not going to get that blog post done. And if bring home work to do, I won’t be available to hear Sassy’s original song on the piano. What am I going to forfeit? What am I going to give up? Something has to go, which one will it be? I’m the last to cast a stone at working mothers’ choices. But I’m the first to say, life is about choices, and values, and about consciously making those choices according to your values. Could I be further along in my career if I chose to spend more time at the office? And if I spent more time at work, would Sweet and Sassy be as well adjusted and fantastic as they are now? I wonder. We make choices, some good, some bad. But most times we don’t know they’re bad till we feel the pain of them. Like the pain of Shingles. I didn’t know I was burning at both ends until I actually felt the burning.

My prayer is that you won’t have to.

** The first time I published this post was about a year ago to www.thinkspace/blog to a reach of about 10,000 people. I thought I’d be a literary genius and really use some vivid language to describe  shingles and the pain it causes. Instead of “oozy bumps” (which is what you read now), I used the word “puss” to describe it, and then I put the letter “y” at the end. Then I wrote something about bumps, and lead the whole world to believe that Shingles and STDs were somehow the same thing, and I was the lucky recipient of both. And wow, she must be so brave/crazy to admit that on a blog… Lawd have mercy. For the record, I had Shingles. Only. And I’ll never use the word “puss” with a “y” at the end to describe anything for as long as I live. Cheers to all the working mothers out there who like to make mistakes with the whole world watching! 🙂

Article in New York Times by Erin Callin

Article in CNN by Todd Leopold

My “Relationship Savvy” blog gives you tips, advice, and flippin’ fantastic feel-goods to help with your most difficult relationship challenges.

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