I’ve been back from an assignment in London for three months now. WOW. Time has flown.
In that time, I’ve had the amazing opportunity to reengage with clients, pick up my executive coaching and join some amazing conversations. I am about to lead a CEO Peer Advisory Group for the Austin Chamber of Commerce (this ain’t your mom and pop’s chamber… super progressive and really involved in responsible growth in Austin). I also was just asked to be a mentor for the amazing CPG accelerator, the Incubation Station. What an great group of people. I am so inspired by the entrepreneurs in the current track and humbled by their courage.
As I’ve been going through this time of growth, I knew I would start to experience what many of my clients do… some growing pains. So often my clients reveal their fears and together we undercover the blind spots that get in their way. These can create really unhealthy soundtracks in our minds. If they get on a continuous loop, watch out.
Last week, we had a health scare with one of our sons and while it was fleeting, it took me out of commission all week. (He’s 100% fine by the way. I blamed it on the Monster Moon that all the astrologists were fearing.)
Coming off a week of zero sleep and poor eating, I found my own inner soundtrack kicking in… My super shield of courage was really weakened. Gone were the “this is amazing!” “you can do it” and in slipped the “are you kidding me?” “who do you think you are?”
So I started writing it all down in the black notebook I’ve been using for brainstorming. I started writing down all my fears. All of them. I listed every single self doubt and ugly statement I’ve ever made about myself. It was a full on purge.
While I didn’t have full relief, I knew that getting these fears out and deciding whether I wanted them to be my truth would be an important exercise and give me some calm. I knew this was a safe way to explore my vulnerability as a leader.
Until it happened… the black notebook went MISSING. That’s right MISSING. In the midst of waking back up this week I inadvertently left the black notebook SOMEWHERE. Where was it?!?!
The real purging began. I felt sick. Sick to my stomach. It was one thing to be fully vulnerable with myself, it was another to know that pages of my vulnerability were laying around somewhere for someone, anyone, to read.
The next day, I had a full day of meetings and I couldn’t even begin to look for the notebook until 4 pm. I checked a couple of spots and I found it. I picked it up silently from the nice folks who collected it for me and my mind started racing.
The notebook was filled with a lot of benign musings on business development, branding, etc. That was fine. However, I had conveniently tabbed the “you suck” page of vulnerabilities with a blue sticky. It’s like I put a neon sign pointing to the page, screaming out … hey you! Read here! This is some juicy stuff! Linda Glass in the raw!
I didn’t ask if it was read. I just thanked them profusely and went on my way.
Did they read it? Raced through my head. I have no way of knowing unless I ask. And if they did, I began to wonder… what would it matter? Would they read the statements and one by one confirm them. Check! Check! Check!
I decided to use one of my lifelines and called my dear friend Stephanie. She said, “Linda they’re human and have those same fears and feelings. If they did read it, they probably appreciate knowing you are human too.” And to quote my favorite line from When Harry Met Sally… “You’re right. You’re right. I know you’re right.”
She is right.
It’s important for people that I work with and that I coach to know that I, too, am human. I have fears and vulnerabilities. And through that, I can truly sympathize and offer the right guidance and support.
I remember a meeting once at Starbucks when the president at the time said to our team, “I’m afraid I’ll be found out. Do I have what it takes to do this job? Do I really deserve this position?” It was empowering for all of us. He let us in… we connected around the fact that we all have fears. In the end, we all felt we could be open about our challenges and insecurities. We were tighter as a team.
So, while I’m not quite brave enough to publish the whole list… I will tell you that sometimes, even the experienced coach has fears… I fear I’m not enough. I fear I might fail. I fear I might be judged.
And today, I’m choosing to not let those fears take over my soundtrack. Today, my soundtrack might be sung to my fears by Gloria Gaynor…
Go on now, go, walk out the door, just turn around now
‘Cause you’re not welcome anymore
Weren’t you the one, who tried to hurt me with goodbye?
Did you think I’d crumble? Did you think I’d lay down and die?
Oh, no, not I, I will survive!
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You bet you can. Have it all.
Belly on up to the All You Can Eat, YOU CAN HAVE IT ALL Bar.
Go on. I’ll be there. Waiting for you with Tums in hand.
What does that mean ANYWAY? “Having it all?”
And before you think this just a “women’s” issue… please read on… yes, we may be discussing it more, but as my husband likes to say “If mamma ain’t happy… ain’t nobody happy.” This impacts us all. Everyone deserves to define it, no matter your gender.
There is a lot of recent buzz around the discussion of women regarding whether we really can “have it all.” From Sheryl Sandberg’s new book, Lean In to Anne Marie Slaughter’s article in The Atlantic Why Women Still Can’t Have It All, the debate has flared again and the conversation is hot.
And as I was reminded after watching The Makers on PBS this week, throughout our history there has always been a group or a person trying to represent what it should look like for women in work. BTW… if you haven’t watched this… it was amazingly well done and reminded me that it wasn’t that long ago that women didn’t have a ton of choice when it came to work. Watch here.
I think the best article in response to the debate was this one by Sarah Lacy, founder of PandoDaily:
The line that resonated with me most is this:
Everyone’s definition of “having it all” varies.
Damn straight, yet how often do we take someone else’s image and definition and think it must be our own?
It’s a bit like this…
I see the model for “Having it All!” She has it all figured out and man does she look satisfied. She has the house, the kids, the career, the dog, the laundry done, a planned vacation, great sex… (pan to Enjoli commercial).
Society has told me that in order to “have it all” I should follow her, do exactly as she does and wear her shoes. And if I can’t or don’t, I have FAILED.
Here is the reality… Her shoes look great. Really great. There are some aspects I think will work for me, like the supportive ankle strap or the forgiving wedge. Only problem, she’s a size 9… I’m a 7… 6 ½ on a good day with no swelling.
HER EXACT SHOES WILL NEVER BE MY PERFECT FIT. NEVER.
Wearing her shoes would make me feel:
- Not to mention, late to everything
I’m tired of the judgment. I’m tired of the victim voice. I’m tired of the one-size fits all when it comes to this debate.
We all have a choice and a responsibility to determine what is right for each of us. We each have our own family dynamics, financial responsibilities, and deepest desires when it comes to living our lives to the fullest and “having it all.”
For me, “having it all” means…
I get to live a peaceful life that includes laughter, love and tons of challenging thinking everyday with people that matter the most to me.
How I do that and what shoes I choose do accomplish this life in… whether I choose to have a “job” while raising children or no children or dedicate to raising children… well that’s up to me. No one else, but me.
If you haven’t sat down and given a long hard thought to what your definition of “having it all” is… stop what you are doing and do it now. Right now. This is your sacred touchstone that will always anchor you when someone tries to force his or her “having it all” shoes on you.
Once defined, put on those damn shoes. Wear them proudly and gloriously with every step you take and enjoy the perfect fit.
I’m curious, if you’re willing to share… how do you define your “having it all?”
It was not just your regular rainbow and unicorn morning.
This morning I went to a performance at the kids’ school. Truth be told, my son was dreading it and I can sort of get why… two repeat performances of mouthing his handmade puppet to Muppet oldies isn’t really his gig. He muscled through it.
I, on the other hand, immediately started to think what my puppet would have looked like, how I would have arranged the first piece differently to infuse more energy, and wondered if each puppet somehow psychology represented the state of this tween gathering. My poor kid.
The line up:
First… puppets mouthing “Manamama… do, do, do, do…” to a recording
Second… Well, escapes my memory already, just an hour later
Third… all children singing THE RAINBOW CONNECTION (feel free to pause and watch the original)
As soon as the first notes to The Rainbow Connection began, I started to well up. Seriously?!? Well up? You’re at your kid’s performance… a kid who doesn’t even want to be there btw.
What gives? Was it the nostalgia of it all? Remembering when I was a kid? It was a Billboard Hot 100 in November 1979, when I was just 10 (go ahead, do the math). I was in that special tween time too.
I felt a rush of crazy talk inside my head… what’s wrong with you Linda? Get a grip before one of the normal parents sees you and wonders if you took your meds today.
To divert my emotion, I turned to really listening to the lyrics. I’m not sure I had really paid attention to the lyrics before, besides the chorus…
Why are there so many songs about rainbows
and what’s on the other side?
Rainbows are visions, but only illusions,
and rainbows have nothing to hide.
So we’ve been told and some choose to believe it.
I know they’re wrong, wait and see.
Someday we’ll find it, the rainbow connection.
The lovers, the dreamers and me.
Who said that every wish would be heard
and answered when wished on the morning star?
Somebody thought of that and someone believed it.
Look what it’s done so far.
What’s so amazing that keeps us stargazing
and what do we think we might see?
Someday we’ll find it, the rainbow connection.
The lovers, the dreamers and me.
All of us under its spell. We know that it’s probably magic.
Have you been half asleep and have you heard voices?
I’ve heard them calling my name.
Is this the sweet sound that called the young sailors.
The voice might be one and the same.
I’ve heard it too many times to ignore it.
It’s something that I’m supposed to be.
Someday we’ll find it, the rainbow connection.
The lovers, the dreamers and me.
My gift for the morning was embedded in the lyrics.
As I mentioned in a previous blog, my business is going through a time of transformation. I realized this morning that it’s really ME that’s going through the transformation.
It’s time to listen to the voice of what I’m truly meant to be and stop listening to the voice of what everyone else thinks I should be. I’VE HEARD IT TOO MANY TIMES TO IGNORE IT. IT’S SOMETHING I’M SUPPOSED TO BE.
It won’t be a huge departure. No, you won’t see me on Project Runway or fulfilling my life long dream of being a professional gymnast.
It will be authentically me. My voice. My contribution.
Until I’m ready to reveal… you can find me with the lovers and dreamers.
FUN FACTOID: Did you know that the Rainbow Connection received a nomination for the 52nd Academy Awards? However, the song lost the Oscar to “It Goes Like It Goes” from Norma Rae, a win that some critics decried. I kinda like the visual… a little Kermit mixed with Norma Rae… suits my style just fine.
I love me some good problem solving.
Throw me at it. How do we do this? What’s the best solution? How creative can we be? Let’s do this!
This morning, I was stumped. Yeah, stumped. Impressed, yet mildly disturbed.
I found this next to the coffee machine left for me by my 11-year-old. Yes, there is water in those glasses turned upside down.
What happened? He used to be such a sweet, charming little boy. Actually, if I’m honest with myself, he’s always been a bit clever, a bit conniving, and a bit out to get me. And I love him dearly.
So, not able to immediately draw a conclusion, I pasted to the world of Facebook for a solution. I could have stared at it for a while, but why when I know there is a dearth of talent in the people with whom I keep company?
Here are some of the comments:
- Surround with sponges and lift
- Make him clean it up when he gets home and if he spills any, ground him, or make him write a poem about water.
- Drag the glasses to the edge of the counter, put a pan next to the counter and slide glasses off quickly.
- Drag them over plastic wrap!!!
- He created it. He can clean it up and maybe even lose an evening’s privilege or have to clean out the cat box. Some sort of consequence.
- Love it.
- I would write “funny” on the same paper and leave it for him to clean up
- Clever boy.
I gotta say, this kid has a lot of consequences for things that are real issues… like beating the life out of his brother. Should I really punish the kid or applaud his ingenuity?
I mean, what if I really did give birth to a genius? And what it the next ingenious thing he puts on the counter is a solution to world hunger, albeit it in a mocking “I got you” sort of way?
Would the way I handle this impact his future contributions?
Is it possible to separate out the feedback on being a smartass with positive feedback on his cleverness?
People we live with or work with do things all the time that might irritate us. We REACT and don’t step back. Are we throwing out the next best idea or great work because of the irritating delivery? Can we applaud one while coaching on the other? What do you think?
I think I’ll work with him on the solution and save the feedback for the next issue. And be thankful I’m not the kid of some of my FB friends… I’d be in perpetual time out!
Ultimately, though, I have to agree with my FB friend #6… I kinda love it.
Having recently moved, I ran across this picture. This is my mom, Alice. On top of my jungle gym. Behind the family truck and farmhouse. My mom. The monkey.
Several emotions have come to mind when I have seen this picture in the past. One is of sheer embarrassment. This very picture was in our Christmas letter one year for Pete’s sake. How could she do that to a 7-year-old? What would my public think?
But this time, I had one emotion only… Hell Yeah Mom! My mom was silly. She loved to laugh. Her humor was exceptional. And now I realize how critical that was to her as a mother and how critical it is to me as both a mother and a business owner.
I’m embarking on a new chapter for my business as I hit my 5-year anniversary. Call it Glass Talent 2.0. I’ll continue to work with my great clients as their supportive and challenging Executive Business Coach. And I’ll be looking at ways to evolve my practice as a Talent Strategist.
In imagining what is next, I’ve put together a vision board to collect my ideas and thoughts of what I want my working journey to look and feel like. It must involve CONNECTING. COLLABORATION. CREATIVITY. LEARNING. WRITING. COACHING. SERVING.
In seeing this picture again, I am reminded that I am missing a very important word from my board… HUMOR.
Humor brings me bliss, joy, relief and solace. Humor helps me keep things in perspective and keeps me humble. Humor helps me manage through the valleys and the peaks. Humor makes me happy.
So, here’s to adding a big fat piece of HUMOR to the heart of my Vision Board and leading with laughter.
I wish I had the picture of my mom playing the role of “the man at the bar” from the Santa Fe Melodrama. I don’t. You’ll just have to imagine it and laugh along with me.
If you’re not laughing, you’re not learning… Email me at Linda@GlassTalent.com to learn more about my coaching (or at least send a good joke!)