The Pursuit of Learning - Terry McDougall (1)
4:48AM Apr 10, 2021
Terry Boyle McDougall
Welcome to the pursuit of learning podcast. I'm your host, Clint Murphy. My goal is for each of us to grow personally, professionally, and financially, one conversation at a time. To do that, we will have conversations with subject matter experts across a variety of modalities. My job as your host, will be to dig out those golden nuggets of wisdom that will facilitate our growth. Join me on this pursuit. Today on the pursuit of learning, I enjoyed speaking with Terry McDougal. Terry is the author of winning the game of work. She is also the CEO of Terry B. McDougal coaching, which specializes in executive coaching, leadership development, talent, optimization, and team building. Prior to founding her firm, Terry was a longtime corporate marketing leader. This episode is great for anyone who wants to get ahead in work, or life. Terry, welcome to the pursuit of learning. It's great to have you with us. I want to start our interview today, diving right in to your major life pivot. And then through discussing your book winning the game of work, we'll be jumping back and forth through time and history. Which brings us to our first question in 2017, after more than 20 years in corporate America, you made the decision to pivot you wrote a book, became a professional coach, and started career consulting. What drove that major shift for you at that point in time?
You know, it was a it was a while coming. You know, I throughout my entire career had always been, you know, looking for what's next. I always wanted to keep moving up. And I think that as time went on, I just realized that maybe the answer to me feeling satisfied was not continuing to move up. You know, in the last couple of years, in the last job I had, I wasn't really happy. And it really got me thinking like what could be next I had some interviews for other jobs, nothing really seemed to, you know, be a good fit. And I really took a look at myself. And I said, What is it that I'm good at? And what is it that I like to do? And what I realized was that as a marketing leader, that I had really enjoyed mentoring and coaching the people that were on my teams. And I decided to get a certification and professional coaching.
You hit on something there that you actually talk about in the book about? Well, a number of things that we're going to dive into actually in that one answer. And one of the first ones is you talk about high achievers, and them being notorious for not celebrating their victories and always wondering what's next? What's next. Yeah, and not being happy with what is? Why do you think that is? And do you think that it plays a role in why they are high performers?
I would say yes, I mean, one of the things that I came across when I was writing my book, and it was a bit of research that I included in my book, there's a guy named time Tom DeLonge, who is a professor at Harvard Business School. And he has come to this conclusion that high achievers are addicted to external validation. And I was fascinated when I came across this article, I think it was in the Harvard Business Review. And partially because it really provided some context for something that I think intuitively I had recognized in myself and and other people. But it also I think, is the reason why high achievers are driven, but also a lot of times why they may be successful, but not satisfied. Because when it becomes a habit, that you are always looking for validation outside of yourself, you know, you're never really going to ever fully achieve that, right? Because anybody outside of yourself can move those goalposts at any time. And you know, it's really up to you to decide, like what's enough. But many of us who have gotten in the habit of always looking outside of ourselves for that validation. You know, we haven't really developed that, that and I guess I'll speak for myself, but I see it as a pattern and people that I coach as well. That connection with ourselves isn't as well developed. And a lot of times we have a hard time getting in touch with what will make me happy.
And in his study did he hit on why he believes that the high achievers are so addicted to that external validation. Is it something in the childhood?
I think it's just it's constant reinforcement, because it's people who you know, if you think about in school, you know if if you're paying attention to what the teacher asks And you get an A, that that kind of delayed gratification or that work that you're putting in, is rewarded. And we tend to keep doing the things that we're rewarded for. And, and for a lot of people here in the United States, you know, we, there's sort of like a track that people you know, like do well in school, and then you can get into a good university, and then do well in the university, and you'll get a good job offer. And then if you, you know, keep your nose to the grindstone there, you're going to be promoted, you know. So it's, it's just sort of like the, you know, playbook for success, if you will. And for people that, that keep getting rewarded for delaying gratification, or paying attention to what other people expect of them. It's just natural that they're going to keep looking for that gratification.
If every time you come home from school and you have an A and your parents are constantly praising that event, that result, then you're going to constantly be seeking that same stimuli from someone else potentially. That's an interesting, how would you circumnavigate that with your own children to get them conditioned to realize they are enough without getting that external validation? Is there something you do with that respect?
You know, it's funny, because I actually do have three kids and with my oldest son, and this was long before I wrote the book, or before I was studying this, and before I became a coach, but with my oldest son, when he went into middle school, one of another set of parents had told us like, Oh, well, you know, it's important when they get into middle school for them to keep their grades up. And so we said, okay, if you, you know, if you get a raise, we'll buy an iPod. And so he bought into it right away. He was like, all right, you know, so he was really studying hard. And he did get mostly A's, and we got him the iPod? Well, when my second son got into middle school, he's a different kid, is like negotiating. And it actually really backfired on us, it caused problems in our relationship, because I think that he did sense like, well, am I not enough? Just the way that I am? Why do I have to get AIDS? You know, why can't I just live my life the way that I want. And it honestly was sort of like a me, it took a few years for me to kind of recognize my own part in this dance that we had with him. And it actually caused a lot of problems. Because he, I think that he actually didn't want to focus on school because he didn't want to be defined that way. And actually, it's funny, because whenever I was going through my coach training, I did bring in, you bring in real things when you're going through coach training, and you get coached on them. And I brought in something, an issue that I had with him. And I remember some of my fellow coach trainees, were saying, Well, why does this bother you so much? And it really, I had to really examine my own feelings about like, what does success look like? You know, and why does some of this stuff matter? Right. And when I started letting go of it, my relationship with my son got a lot better. And it's very interesting to start thinking about, like, how do you define success? Right? I mean, some people define it by how much money's in your paycheck or what your title is. But that I think that once you start getting a certain level of success, you, you start to realize that that's not that hard. You can get to there.
And how old are your three kids?
They're 23, 21 and 17.
Oh, excellent. It's a great age. I guess they're all ages are good, but it's a bit a little bit more freedom.
Absolutely. I will tell you that I feel like the pressure is off my shoulders. I'm like, okay, especially with the two older ones. I'm like, you guys. It's on you guys. Now, I'm going to stop trying to police you.
And how old were they when you decided to make your pivot? So they were mostly at near the end of high school?
Oh, yeah. My my oldest was 19. My, I'm trying to think of that's exactly i think that's right. He was 19. The other one was the middle one was 17. And then my youngest was 13. Okay, I had one in college. So it was a little it was a little bit scary. But but we made it work. Good.
Yeah, I have a plan for a very similar path in my life. And my oldest will be the age of your oldest when I trigger the plan. So it's quite interesting, the way your timing played out relative to how ours will work out. Let's go backwards in time now to when you were working at a Boston publisher. And you first realized that there were rules to the game of work. Can you tell our listeners about what happened and what you learn from it?
Yeah, so I had worked at this publisher for I don't know, maybe like a year or so. I was the administrative assistant in the advertising sales department in my boss was the sales manager. And he had told me that he was going to promote me to be a marketing coordinator. So I was excited to kind of get out of the admin pool and move into more of a marketing role. And a new president had started at the company shortly before that, and my boss had been, you know, he was a real salesman, right? Like he wanted to sell as much advertising as he could sell. And, you know, there's no know how much people know about magazine advertising. But you know, there's deadlines for Okay, when we close the book, meaning like, if any new ads come in after that, that point, they would typically go in the next issue, because, you know, it has to go to the production department, they've got to lay everything out, we've got to get it printed. You can't sell advertisements, like up until, you know, it has to get a layout, right. But he was used to being able to sort of like, get his way with the production department. And when the new president came in, the new president said no, like, we're gonna have deadlines, and the deadlines are deadlines. And my boss pushed it and ended up getting in a tiff with the new president and got fired on the spot and was walked out the door. So of course, that was, that was shocking to me. I was like 23, and I had never seen anything like that happen. And I, I felt quite lost. I was actually so upset, I had to go home for the rest of the afternoon. It's so funny to think about, given everything I've seen at this point in my career, but I still had this expectation like, Okay, well, Dennis promised this promotion to me. So I'm expecting that somebody is going to fulfill on it. Well, it took a, you know, several weeks, I don't know, a couple months or something for them to hire somebody new to come in. And, you know, I let him know, I was interested in this promotion. And, you know, he interviewed me for the role, but he did not promote me, he ended up hiring somebody from outside the firm. And I was very upset about it, because I really felt like I had paid my dues to the company. And I did not want to continue being I had a BA in economics, I did not want to keep tightening people's letters, right, I wanted to move up. And what I realize now when I look back was that this new guy was going to do it his way, right? He wasn't going to go by the playbook of my previous boss, and especially since my previous boss had gotten fired. This, this new person had no intention of following that path. And, you know, it felt very unfair to me, but and it took me a while to sort of put it in context to understand that, okay, there is no objective, you know, guidelines or rules of work, right, you've really got to kind of step back and understand what are the dynamics here, you know, it is I feel like in many ways, it is a big game. And you've got to really understand what's going on there within the game, and play given what you see in front of you. It ended up I quit my job and got two part time jobs and saved up my money and moved to a different city and picked up from there. But you know, I just didn't want to stay in a role that wasn't wasn't really leading someplace,
in when you looked back, you wrote that it's so easy. Now to look back and realize how clueless you were, you talk almost about that path you talked about earlier, work hard, get good grades in high school, get good grades in college, get a job, keep your head down, keep your nose clean, without complaining, and you'll get what you deserve. And that was the first time you realized it doesn't actually work that way. And so were you able to start yet seeing Well, how does it work? Where did that come much later?
Well, you know, what's, what's kind of interesting is that I lived in and worked in Boston. And then I ended up moving back to the DC area, I'd gone to college in Virginia. And interestingly enough, the the woman that hired me, she saw that I went to William and Mary in Virginia, and that's where she went. And so that's why she wanted to interview me. And so even though I did not, I was thankful that, you know, she kind of saw that on my resume, and she pulled me out of the pile and decided to interview me, but when I I don't think I gave it as much credit at the time as I do now that those connection points, you know, those feelings of, you know, commonality that people have, this is a lot of times what helps you get ahead, and, you know, we can recognize those things and try to cultivate them, you know, because it's all about relationships. Right? And quite frankly, you know, if I think back to working at the publishing company, you know, maybe had I don't know shown up differently or, you know, cultivated the relationship with the new boss in a different way. Maybe he would have said, Oh, yeah, of course, you know, she's clearly ready to be promoted at knowing myself at that time. I probably had a slight chip on my shoulder because the old boss had gotten fired. And I was kind of like skeptical of the new guy coming in which nobody likes that feeling. When You're new coming in, and people are skeptical of you, right? because he'd had nothing to do with, you know, the old guy getting fired?
Yes. And I believe we've probably both been on the other side of that where we're the new person coming in. And yeah, exactly. People are skeptical of us in New York, right? That absolutely does not make for an enjoyable experience in a new role. So that's one rule of the game, you might say is cultivating your network, cultivating your relationships. So that in the future, when you are looking for new opportunities, you already have that network to lean on to help you find the right role or opportunity somewhere else.
Yes, absolutely. And, you know, I would also say that build your network without knowing what it's going to do for you. Because you will not be able to to know and I'll just give you a quick example, that, you know, at that first job in Boston, I when I was 22 years old, I met somebody there and befriended her. And we were friends for you know, the years that I was in Boston, and we've just stayed in touch since then, like just Christmas cards. I mean, not really, like, full blown, you know, talking to each other, like sometimes we didn't talk for years, but I am working with her nephew right now, because she referred him to me after like, 30 years, but she was like, Oh, you need a coach Terry's incredible. So yeah, you just don't know where, you know, what's gonna come out of maintaining positive relationships. And it doesn't have to be like I said, you don't have to be best friends. You just have to, you know, show up authentically, and, you know, be trustworthy and kind. And, you know, I think people, I think people want to help other people if they feel like, you know, that person is is somebody that can be relied upon. Absolutely.
And before we go on to another question, do you want to share the interesting tidbit? You mentioned you were at school in Virginia, and over the summers, I believe you were a server? Yeah. And you had one interesting customer? Do you want to share that with our listeners?
Yes, I did. Yes, I did. So I grew up in Delaware. And I worked one summer in in Lewis, Delaware, which is down at the beach. And one day, Joe Biden and his wife and daughter came in one evening, they came in for dinner, and I waited on them. And his daughter, Ashley was she was probably like four or five years old. She was a little, little child. And I knew I knew who he was because he was the senator. He I mean, he's been the senator in Delaware, you know, from like, 1970 to two and this is probably like 1981, or no, maybe 1984 or something like that. So he had been a senator for 12 years or something in Delaware. So I know who he was. And that's always been sort of like my, I've had that as a feather in my cap. And I also wanted him for president ever since he first started running like, I think he ran first and like 1988, or something like that. And I've always been a fan because he's a good guy. And actually, it's funny, because there's another little tidbit. Also, like that summer, I also waited on bill Roth, who was the other senator for Delaware, and he's Roth IRA. Oh, okay. That's he was the senator that that sponsored that bill. So, and nerdy as I was, I knew who both of the senators were.
Excellent. I love that little digression. Thank you for sharing that story. And I want to rewind the clock again, because there's something I think that was a thread throughout your career. And you highlighted when you were a child, your mother compared you to a tenacious little terrier.
I've often found that tenacity is a major factor in someone's ultimate success. Can you tell us what your mother saw in you that prompted that feedback? Well,
you know, it's hard for me to know exactly what my mom saw on me, but I just know how I am that if I get a vision in my mind that I want it to happen. And I think from her experiences, probably that I was always asking for things that that I wanted or just trying to do things on my own. I just wasn't really going to let things stand in my way. You know, I just was a creative kid. And you know, just I had a vision I was going to try to make it happen. I didn't remember one time when I was probably like six years old that I really wanted to be a ballerina and I really really wanted like to to you know, like a ballerina. I tried to make one out of paper like I colored it all pink and I had a but whatever. I wanted one I was gonna try to make it didn't work out that well. Did
that level of tenacity carry with you throughout your career and has that helped shape who you are?
Absolutely. Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I, you know, moved a lot in my career just to you know, to get jobs I've I'm really, really curious. Yes, there have been times when, you know, I really thought that maybe I would recognize something at work that we needed to change. And I would recommend it to my boss. And if my boss said, No, I would just hold it in the back of my mind. And I would just keep looking for those opportunities to recommend it again, I had, you know, more than one situation where just as an example, in the last company I worked for, when I first came in, we did a lot of charitable giving within the division that I was in, and we had no process for it. And I remember then to the first year, like all the bankers, they would like be charging like a gala table or getting a for some at a golf thing or doing some kind of sponsorship, and all of that came out of the marketing budget, but it was not, there was no process for it. So at the end of the year, we would have to be scrambling to, you know, be sending it, send me your, you know, credit card slips and, you know, anyway, so I came up with this whole process for and I talked to somebody else in the department that could do programming, and we were going to do this graphical user interface. I had like, talk to people in the departments to figure out like, what the process is going to be in terms of approvals, and so forth. Then I went to my boss, and I think maybe, I don't know, maybe it was just too complicated, or he was distracted or whatever he's like, now now, we don't need to do that. We don't need to do that. So, you know, I just waited to the end of the year, I might have brought it up one other time. But he just kept kind of brushing me off. And at the end of the year, we had to go through the process again. And he was kind of complaining about it. And I said, Well, you know, Rick, remember that process? And he finally said, Okay, alright, I'm going to give you the green light to go ahead and make this happen. I just would look for my moments, right, but not forget,
coming from a finance background, most of my career hearing that the marketing department was not necessarily on top of the numbers and budgets is not the most surprising thing I've ever heard. Terry, that's quite quite consistent through many organizations that I've seen over over my career. Yes, yes. The you mentioned in there that you've moved for a lot of jobs. If I can recall correctly, you had also moved 40 times before you were 11 years old. Yeah. How did that impact you from a development perspective and set a bit of a groundwork for your future?
I think that there were a couple things that came out of that, I think that it made me very self sufficient. Clearly, you know, I had, I didn't have like a group of friends that I could, you know, go through all the grades with or even you know, before I was in school, you know, we might live someplace for a couple months, and then we'd have to move because of my dad's job, which was, it was like these large scale construction jobs. That was why we had to move so frequently. And so I think that that's one thing, I think, on the negative side of it, I think, because I was self sufficient, I actually didn't trust people very much. You know, I think those two things go together, you know, that I would just depend on myself, because I didn't know people well enough to know whether I can depend on them. So I think, you know, maybe the tenacity kind of went into that as well. Because if I wanted to do something, I knew that I would just have to figure out how to do it myself. I also was very adaptable, because you know, you don't want to a new school, or move to a new neighborhood, you had to, you know, figure out your how to get around what the customs were, you know, in your school, it's always like a different layout different kids, what are the teachers like, you know, had to be pretty agile when it came to figuring things out. And I think that I'm just now quite frankly, beginning to recognize what a superpower I developed over those years, I don't think I really gave myself credit for the fact that I can kind of come into a situation and size it up pretty quickly. And actually, I see this a lot with many of my clients too, that when something comes to you very naturally, you just sometimes assume that everybody else can do it, too. And I kind of wish that I had recognized that earlier, because I think I would have been more confident about, you know, my perspectives, I was always hoping that somebody else would come in and second my perspective. And, you know, what I realize is that a lot of times they were it was gonna take them a lot longer to come to the same conclusion, because I just was so quick.
And did you ever find that that got in your way? A little perhaps,
that other people would say, well, Terry, you haven't been here long enough. You haven't seen enough to? To make that conclusion. It's too quick.
Well, I think that when I worked in marketing for my whole career and in marketing, you know, we're always having to sort of like evaluate what's going on, try to think about like, Okay, how are we going to, you know, support the objectives of the business and influence in the marketplace. And so you're always doing new things right. But I also would have to Get agreement and approval from the people in the business and get approval and the budget, all that kind of stuff. And, you know, often, I might come up with an idea that was a little bit out of left field, but I truly believed that it would work. And I think that the big gap was me being able to leap to a conclusion or come up with an idea and think that all I needed to do was present the idea like pretty casually, and that people would get it immediately. And I think what I did not realize was that, because I didn't give myself credit for how quick I was to size things up and come up with a solution, that when people didn't immediately support my idea, I started thinking there was something wrong with me, rather than recognizing that the issue was really that I needed to be more persuasive, that I needed to figure out where they were, and, you know, kind of fast walk them to where I was, so that they could see things from my perspective, and understand that it was a good solution.
So you were trying to take them all the way to Zed? Yes, without walking them through steps, B, C, D, and some people can't make that jump the way you could.
Yeah, most people, most people can't, and especially, you know, working in, in financial services, marketers are in the minority anyway, because they are the more you know, sort of creative type, or you're around a lot of analytical type people. And, you know, a lot of people that I worked with, were really skeptical of something that couldn't be like plugged into a formula. And, you know, have like an exact number come out, right? So often, you're just, you know, in marketing, we're sort of testing and learning constantly, you know, sometimes you'll make a hypothesis and you test it, and it doesn't come out the way that you thought, but then you just keep, keep trying to optimize. Right? And, you know, so often, when you're working with people that are analytical data that feels risky.
in solitary, how did you learn to effectively almost slow yourself down? And realize, well, wait, I have to take them through all the steps to get them to where I am? What was that process like for you to get to that stage?
You know, I think that, I mean, it's funny, because I don't I'm not sure that I can really pinpoint exactly when that started happening, I think I did start realizing that you've got to meet people where they are, you know, you can't just, you know, stand where you are, and be like, Hey, here's, you know, come to me, you've got to go to them. And you've got to start to see things from their perspective. And I think that that was just happening gradually over my career, but I think that it went into hyper overdrive, when I got the job here in Chicago, I was head of marketing for the US investment bank for an organization, here, a bank, and investment bankers are a really interesting breed. I mean, they're, they're like, you know, you look at their CVS and resumes and, you know, you're going to see the top top schools in the country, and, you know, very, very smart driven people that, you know, you talk about overachievers, these are over over achievers, right. And, and I really, it really forced me to sort of, like, stay on my toes. And I would also say that, you know, when I moved here, for this job, I moved my family from North Carolina to Chicago, and I need I had to make it work, you know, I wasn't gonna move my my family halfway across the country and fall on my face. So, you know, I really needed to, to make sure that I was figuring out how to influence and provide value and the role that I was in. And I think that there's so many lessons that I learned many of them, I learned kind of the hard way, you know, that you try something and and somebody would not like it, not only would they not like it, but they might call my boss and tell them that they didn't like. And so not only did you have to like deal with them, but I had to like, you know, call my boss down and be like, okay, I'll fix this, right. So it made me a lot more aware of everything that was going on around me. And I would often tell my, my staff, I was like, Okay, we got to play a good game of offense, meaning we've got to do our jobs, and we've got to do a great job at doing our jobs. But we also have to play a good game of defense, we've got to look around and say, you know, what are the potential downsides of the things that we're doing? You know, like, Who are we dealing with here? What's, you know, what's their likelihood? What do we what do we know about them? As you know, quote, unquote, a player? Right? Is this somebody who if they don't get their way there, they are going to call my boss? Or is it somebody that you know, because you're going to play it a little bit differently, right, you're maybe you're going to be a little bit more cautious or more specific, when you're sitting down with them to maybe you're going to ask more questions, or you're going to have them be a lot more involved in the planning, you know, but you really have to know who you're dealing with. Because sometimes it's not really the quality of your work. It's, you know, their feelings. of whether they feel involved or whether they feel heard.
To borrow a term from poker, you're, you're playing the cards because you have to, but you're also playing the players, you're saying, Okay, well, well, I'm gonna play, I'm gonna play that client differently than I will that client, because they have a completely different risk tolerance attitude.
Yeah, that's a great analogy. And even though I talked about, you know, game, you know, playing it like a game, that's absolutely, and I, I did totally do that, because there were some, you know, players, if you will, that I knew them well enough that I knew how to, I knew how to influence them to take a certain action.
And there's a certain level of strategy to that. And one of the things you talk about is, you say, it's key for people to gain objectivity, to be strategic, effectively having the ability to see the trees and the forest. Can you describe some of the challenges you see for the people that you work with? As it relates to being able to both be in the detail? And be high level? Where do you see people being challenged with that,
you know, it's, it's interesting, I was just talking with one of my clients this past week, and she is having some conflict with somebody that she works with. And she gets sort of irritated and emotional about this person. Like, he has a tendency to kind of push her buttons. And I think she wants to like react based on her emotional response. And, you know, what I've been trying to get her to do is like, okay, use your emotional response to see if you can get at the heart of why this bothers you. And then, you know, once you get clear on it, and basically what it was in this case is that she's doing a lot of work, she's doing a good job, she's asking this person to do something that is within his job description, and he doesn't want to do it. And so it, you know, puts a burden on her because she's more client facing. And so she ends up being sort of left holding the bag, because he's not doing the part that should be his. And so once, but you know, she's just having a reaction to this, like, you know, irritated, right? But once we started seeing, like, okay, what's going on here, and then you can start putting it in terms of the impact on the business. And once you can start talking about like, when x happens, y happens, and this is the risk for the business, that's when you can go and start having conversations with people higher up to explain what's going on. Right? It's basically drawing the X's and O's on the board, rather than, you know, being in there and getting your teeth knocked out. Right, because I've seen it time again, I've experienced it myself that when you go in hot to talk to your boss, or, or whoever, they'll brush you off and say, oh, they're just disgruntled, or there's just that's just a personality issue. They're like those who just don't get along. Rather than understanding that like, no, baby, we've got a huge gap here, that somebody is really not performing. And it's causing an issue, you know, and a risk for the business. Like, you have to go through the emotional part for yourself, and get it down to the facts. And then once you have it down to the facts, and you can talk about the facts without getting emotional, then you're ready to go and talk to the boss or, or even, you know, go and talk to your colleague to say, you know, listen, when when you do this, this is the impact that it has. Maybe you didn't realize it.
Yeah, it's not personal at that point. It's not an interpersonal conflict. It's an actual issue with facts.
Yeah. And yeah, and in that situation, you know, when I was talking that situation through with my client, what we actually realized was that, you know, she was definitely feeling, you know, like, there was some issue personally, but I said, Well, you know, maybe it's, maybe he's not a good fit for that role. And he actually, maybe we should have some compassion for him, because they put him in a role that he can't do, you know, and that's not his fault. That's, you know, whoever hired him for that role. They bear some responsibility there. You know, they should have explored to see if this person could do the job. And if they can't do the job, it's not that person's fault, right? Some people just can't do something. Right. It's just not within their wheelhouse to do it.
And one thing you said there, because you actually talk about this is you say some people get held back because they take things too, personally.
Right. And they become attached to that scenario. And one of the things you try to teach them is the importance of perception. Can you tell our listeners a little bit about that distinction? perception so that they don't take it personally?
Yeah, you know, I think that everybody has a perspective, right? And if you can, you know, try to put yourself in the position of the other person or Or maybe even step back and say, you know, I'm telling myself something before I start feeling angry. What if that thing I'm telling myself is not true, because that's our perception. I can simplify this in terms of, I think, something that anybody can understand. And it's like the example of when we're driving down the highway and somebody swerves into our lane and right, we've automatically, I think that underneath of everything, what we're saying to ourselves, that person trying to hurt me, right. And so and then we were shocked, and we lay on the horn, and we curse and all that kind of stuff. We might even like, you know, speed up and give them the finger or something like that, I suppose natural if you feel like you're being threatened, you know, you're in a moment of trying to survive. But if you shifted that perception, and then you said something different to yourself, like not that person trying to hurt me, but maybe you say, well, maybe they're in a rush, because they're trying to get to the hospital, maybe they've got somebody hurt in the car, right? Like, you're going to react differently if you have different beliefs, right? And so often, from our own perspective, we're looking at somebody and we're making judgments about them. And we're saying, Oh, well, you know, like, in the case of that, that client I was talking about, you know, she might be looking and saying, well, that guy is just trying to, you know, he's trying to screw with me, like, he's, he doesn't want to support me. And the reality is that he probably isn't capable of doing some of the things that are part of this job, you know, and that's a very different thing than him, you know, wanting to sabotage her, right? I mean, and would bring you to respond differently, right? I mean, to beat up on somebody who does not know how to do the job, that's not going to make them be able to do the job, right. But to be able to go to the boss and say, this guy's really great at analysis, he's not so great at execution. Right. And so we're, you know, maybe you don't even personalize that you just say, there's a gap here when it comes to execution. And, you know, maybe we need to get somebody in a role that just works on execution, in
sticking on this idea of perception, because there's something that you hinted on right there, about the way you perceive something in your own mind. In your book, you also talk about the fact that you talk about cognitive behavioral therapy, and you use it with your coaching clients. Personally, it's been one of the most instrumentally life changing things for me personally, can you describe to our listeners, what CBT is, and how you use it in your coaching practice, and how they can use it so they can get at that core of being able to choose the answer, that's probably more logically accurate, then usually those first one to two answers that just pop into our brain when we see a stimuli. And your example of that car swerving was a great example of really auditing your thought process, which really brought me back to CBT.
Yeah, yeah. So I mean, you know, I'm not a psychologist or anything, but I do look at like, Okay, what causes behavior, right. And there's this, there's a stimulus, there is a thought, and there's an emotion, and then there's an action. And so many of us will try, you know, say, for example, like if it's dieting or something like that, that will just try to, like change the action, without getting in and saying, what was the thought? And what was the emotion that was that, you know, happened after the stimulus, right? A lot of times, we've got habits, right. And that's also why we have knee jerk reactions. Often, that something is, you know, it's there's a neural pathway there that's been trodden for years and years and years. And we might not even realize that we have a choice about this. But if you have patterns of behavior that keep causing new problems, whether it's at home or at work, you might want to take a look at it, and slow things down. And you know, it could be you know, every time it's time to clear the dinner dishes off the table, it ends up being like a war of words with the kids, right? Because they're not doing it. And you know, if you can say like, Okay, well, the stimulus is that dinner's done. My belief is that the kids to just hop up and, you know, start clearing off the table, and when they don't do that I feel used. And so because of that, I start yelling at it. Right? Maybe the kids aren't aware that that's what you want them to do. Maybe they have other feelings about, you know, so you've got to stop at that very moment and say, okay, and, you know, am I really being used or could something else be going on here? And I do see it a lot where, you know, people will sometimes say, Okay, well, I understand this, but, you know, it's hard for me to change that nicely. Yeah, of course it is. Because you know, what's going to happen is that if you know if you've got that scenario with the kids not clearing off the table. Well, maybe the first time that you've made it, you know, you've made a decision that I'm not going to just start yelling at them, I'm going to say like, well, maybe I need to ask them nicely if they're going to do it. But a lot of times when we might start off, just doing what we've always done, but you can always pull back and change that, like, give yourself credit for not getting on a path that doesn't work and continuing down that path. Right? If you get halfway on the path, and you're like, Whoa, I don't want to do this, I'm going to go back, you can always go back and be like, Whoa, sorry, I yelled at you, I'd appreciate it if you would clear the table off, right and see what happens, right? Very likely, if you show up differently, the people around you are going to show up differently. You're not going to spend as much energy on feeling angry or feeling threatened or, you know, whatever that is that causes you to react in the way that you do.
It's a great, great example. Thank you, for listeners, I'll put it in the show notes. A book that is a good read on cognitive behavioral therapy for anyone who thinks it might help them is feeling good, the new mood therapy by David Burns. So we'll put that one in the show notes for people. The taking a little sidetrack, one of the things you say is so many people rely on intelligence on their talent, but it's not enough. And there are a lot of other things that they have to be doing to be successful. That to me is a really important one to unpack. Do you want to take the listeners through some of the factors that you believe drive a person's ability to advance in their career in within an organization?
Yeah, I mean, I think that the first thing that is helpful is to have clarity around whatever the goal is that you have. And the second thing would be to think about, you know, what's the roadmap to get there. And it doesn't mean that you, you know, if you come up with your goal, and it's a big goal that you're going to get there next month, right might be a five year plan, right? Eventually, I want to get to this level. And this is sort of like my roadmap to get there. I think that when you're developing a roadmap, a lot of times, what you're going to see is that I think that it's important to look for these is like, what are the skill gaps between where you are in where you need to go, one of the things that I see a lot with with talented people is that, you know, if they've got a strength, they will double down on that strength, like if you know, with high achieving people, if they've hit an obstacle, and they're not sure how to get through it, they'll try to go faster, or do more or, you know, just take on more. And a lot of times it makes sense to step back and try to look at the big picture and say, is there a different way that I can get to my goal, besides just trying to bust through? And, you know, I also say that, or I've observed this with myself and with a lot of my clients that usually people's biggest weakness is their biggest strength overused, and, you know, just as an example, you know, me being able to, you know, size up the situation quickly. And that's a superpower, right, but for me to just rely on that and not develop other skills, like, you know, an understanding of where other people are, and, you know, listening and figuring out how do I communicate what it is that I'm trying to influence them on more clearly, you know, a lot of us have, you know, tools in our toolbox that we want to reach for all the time. But just like if you're doing work around your house, you know, and you're good with using a hammer, like a hammer is not going to be very helpful. If you need to take a screw out of the wall, like, could you do it? Yeah, you could like bang a big hole in the wall, and you could get the screw out. That's not the that's not the most effective way to do it. Right. So sometimes it It helps to develop these other tools that we can use, even if they feel awkward, you know, the more you use them, the better you're going to get at it.
So how do you work with your clients? Or how would you recommend to someone to undergo that gap analysis themselves? You know, outside of getting a 360 done at work? How can I identify what my biggest gaps are?
Yeah, I mean, you can actually do a 360 for yourself if you want. And I think I might have even talked about how to do it in the book that you can set up a Google form and you can send the link out to people and they can fill it out anonymously. But I think that if you're not getting the results that you want, and you seem to, you know, be tripping up on certain in certain scenarios, it's probably worth it to take a closer look at that and say, I mean, it's very easy. I mean, I've had clients say this to me, like, Oh, I'm so unlucky. I always end up with these terrible bosses or whatever. And I'm like, Okay, this has happened at your last three jobs. You're the common denominator here, right? It, it might not be your boss, right? It might not be luck, it might be that you're showing up in a certain way. And it's, you know, you're the common denominator. So like, if you showed up differently, how would that impact the situation? I do think that sometimes it's difficult to get that kind of perspective on yourself, it's very difficult to even see that there are things that you could do differently, because a lot of times, they're so innate to us. I mean, this, this is why coaches can be helpful, but, you know, if you've got people around you that are willing to give you feedback, and you can, you know, ask for it takes courage to ask for it, you know, and like I said, sometimes, you know, the greatest weaknesses that we have, or our greatest strengths overused, and it can feel a little threatening if somebody says, Well, you know, sometimes you, you know, you talk too much in meetings, and nobody else can get a word in edgewise, right? And it might be a positive thing to be able to have the confidence to talk and to, you know, quickly come up with ideas that you want to share. But if you're getting that kind of feedback, maybe that means that you need to consciously step back and let other people, you know, be able to be heard as well, or consciously ask people like, Hey, does anybody else have ideas?
That makes absolute sense? And one of the things you said in there that gave me a chuckle, because you talk about it later in the book is what do these five words mean to you? When someone says, at every job I've had? Do you want to dive into what immediately comes to mind when a coaching client comes to you and they start their sentence with those five words?
What I alluded to that, if they're having the same problem at every job they've ever had, the common denominator is them. So I actually think that it's a positive thing for me from a coaching standpoint, because that means that there's something there that we can discover. And if it's something that they're doing, they have control over it. I'm not saying that sometimes people aren't just unlucky, and maybe just keep picking bad jobs. But that also might be something to look at, like, Well, you know, how could you recognize that maybe this isn't a good job, right? for you. But you know, if it's something that you're doing, you have the power to change it, it just might be a little bit painful to, you know, might feel a little, you might feel a little bit vulnerable, when we're looking at it. But you know, you're either going to, you know, keep doing the thing you're doing and not advance or be boxed out of, you know, maybe be ignored or something because people either don't want to tell you the feedback, or they have told you and you're just not getting it, right, because eventually they'll just say, okay, just sit over there in the corner and just do the work that we give you, we're not going to give you an opportunity to move up. And usually they don't tell you that right. But that's what's happening.
That's what happens behind the scenes. And when you have that conversation with your coaching client, when they when they use that they tell you, oh, you know, my last six jobs, this exact same scenario is played out. When you point out to them, do you see the commonality? How do they react to that? And how do you get them to that point where they realize, wait, I have to make a change? It's not them. It's me?
Yeah, it's usually not something that happens immediately. I'm actually surprised or not surprised that like, I guess pleasantly surprised and, and happy when sometimes when I have some assessments that I do that sort of shine a light on some of the patterns of behavior. And sometimes as soon as those patterns are surface, people will be like, Oh, my gosh, you know, like, now I understand. But a lot of times, they'll still go back to that like defensiveness or, you know, because it's hard. It's hard to separate yourself from that behavior. But I think that what we can do is recognize that, you know, we are not our behavior, right? Changing, you can change your behavior at any time. I'm not sure if I'm answering your question. But you know, some people take to it right away. Some people are very attached to their defense mechanisms, you know, the assessment that I do, it really kind of divided it up into two, two sections. One is where I'm talking about, you know, what I see from the assessment in terms of like, who they are at their core, you know, it might be that they're creative, optimistic person that likes to collaborate, or they're, you know, whatever the assessment tells me that's sort of like who they are at their core. And most of the time people are like, oh, wow, yeah, that does feel like me, but I you know, that's like my ideal me, right. And then there's another part of the debrief where I talked to them about the their coping mechanisms, and how the coping mechanisms that they're using Maybe holding them back from stepping fully into that potential, because that's who they are at the heart of it, but maybe they have some coping mechanisms that are outdated or, you know, ineffective. And all we have to do is learn new coping mechanisms. It's not, we don't have to keep doing the same things that we've always done. And in fact, a lot of our, you know, coping mechanisms or ways of showing up were developed when we were kids. And depending on what your you know, life was, like, when you were kid, I mean, a lot of people have had, you know, a lot of, you know, traumatic things happen in their life. And so they had to come up with some pretty, you know, drastic ways of coping, and that might, you know, if you're a survivor, and you know, you are making sure that you're going to survive in a very dangerous situation, like, that's great, you've survived. But if you go into the workplace, and it's not, you know, a cutthroat, toxic environment, and you're showing up, like, you know, you're in a fight with the bear or something like that, people are gonna be like, Whoa, like, what's going on here, like, and it's gonna have the opposite effect of what you probably really wanted to have, you know, people would be like, Wow, she's so touchy, or, you know, she's so defensive, or, you know, she avoids things or he avoids things, you know, and maybe those coping mechanisms worked very well early on in your life, but they need to be brought up to date to deal with what you're dealing with today,
the quote by Carl Jung, that comes to mind is until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life, and you will call it fate. And so many of us don't realize that something that was probably safe and healthy and the right coping mechanism to have when we were five years old, six years old, eight years old, whatever age it was, it may just not be the right reaction today. And we don't know that.
Right? We don't know that.
So until someone like you brings it to the light, yes, it has a conversation around it. We don't know to change it. That's great.
Yeah, you know, and I will also let you know that. And I mean, this is something that I've experienced as I've gone through my, you know, healing and growing, and all of that is that sometimes there's shame associated with the way that we've coped, you know, and, and we, we want to beat ourselves up for it. And I always try to help people reframe it to say, look, you know, everything that you did in the past got you to where you are now. So kudos to you, because you've survived, you know, any amount of success that you've had till now, you made it happen, right. But like, as they say, What got you here is not going to get you there. And so you can choose to evolve and change and grow. And just like, you know, when you're a little baby, and you're learning how to walk, you don't do it without falling down a little bit. Right. Yeah, I mean, we fall down, we hurt ourselves, but we keep getting up to keep going. And I think that a lot of times with adults, that that can be difficult, right? Because we you know, we get past those early years of learning and falling down and skinning our knees and all that kind of stuff. And, and we like not doing that, right. But if you want to keep growing, you may have to, you know, push the envelope, you might have to step outside your comfort zone, and it's gonna feel uncomfortable. But that's but you will master, you know, once you step outside the comfort zone, you will master that. And that will become the new comfort zone. And you just keep going until you get to where you want to get to, and you're getting the results that you want to get out of your life in your career.
And so an important concept and correct me if I'm wrong on this for your clients to be successful. And for them to get to where they need to get to through this work, because it is it is work to change who we are. Yeah, I assume they have to be coming in with a growth mindset.
Yeah, yeah. I mean, if they really want to make progress, they do need to come in with a growth mindset. And I would say that I've had a couple of people that have wanted to work with me, and we've gotten started. And it was just clear that they didn't understand what coaching was about, like coaching is about us kind of coming up with strategy and then then taking the action, right, like writing me a check is not going to protect you from having to step outside your comfort zone, but it will, you know, I kind of come with a big flashlight, right? So I'm like, I'm trying to shine it a little further down the road. So it's not as scary to take those steps, but for the most part, yeah, I mean, you know, some people I'm amazed I'm like, gosh, do you really even need to pay me as your coach because you're like, you're cruising but you know, they needed somebody to help them with, you know, get started and and many people you know, it's very valuable to them to have someone to bounce ideas off of and it gives them the courage to take the action. Other people we have to work a little bit of them detaching from those from those defense mechanisms. Right? And that's okay. It's absolutely okay. It's completely understandable that somebody would respond in a certain way, if that's what worked for them in the past. Right. But we just don't like conditioning? Yes, absolutely, absolutely. And it's just a matter of, you know, starting to recognize that, Oh, I'm in a different place now. And so if I want a different result, I have to do something different.
D, it's interesting, because we've, we've talked about cognitive behavioral therapy, we've talked a little bit about Shadow Work, psychoanalysis. And for a lot of people, these aren't things that they necessarily dive into when they're a high achiever in finance, or marketing. And all of a sudden, you're bringing up concepts from psychology from psychoanalysis, even as a coach, do a lot of the higher achievers take to some of these areas right away, do some of them have resistance to these?
Well, I mean, I'm not a therapist, and I don't usually talk about these things, you know, using the, you know, psychological terms, you know, I just talk about it more in, you know, what's the impact that it's having on your life? And if we look back, and we say, like, Okay, well, you, you develop these coping mechanisms, and this is why, you know, once they understand that, and they understand that that was very normal and natural. And then usually, they, they feel comfortable enough to start thinking about how they could respond differently. And usually, they've come because, you know, they're, they're like, figuratively banging their head against the brick wall, right? They, they've run up against an obstacle, and they've, they've made a go at it number of times, and it's painful, because they're not getting through, they're not breaking through to the other side. And, you know, I basically am telling them, like, okay, together, we're going to step back and see how we can figure this out together. And a lot of times, they just, like I was saying earlier in our conversation that with high achievers, often, if they're not getting the result that they are expecting, they will double down on whatever they've done in the past, they're going to try to go faster, they're going to try to do more, and that often just causes them to have less energy, because it's not productive activity. You know, it's literally them banging their head against the wall. And I'm like, Okay, let's step back, hey, look, there's a ladder, let's use the ladder to go over the wall, or, hey, there's a little path there to the side. Why don't we try that
the let's stick on high achievers for a second, we already talked a little bit about how they can be addicted to external validation. One of the other things, you talked about them getting trapped by his lifestyle creep. And you've said as they go down that path, they start to lose themselves, and they don't know what they want. How do you help them find what they want, in a way is that is, is I tend to look at things in a very simplistic way, is know what you want, figure out a plan to get it. Yeah, I tie that to your roadmap, and then do the work. Life is actually pretty simple. Not necessarily easy, but simple. So how do you how do you get them to overcome that trap of external validation and lifestyle creep to really figure out what do I want?
Well, the funny thing is that when I ask people that question, one of two things usually happens one time, one situation, they'll say, I don't know, I don't know what I want. And the other situation is they'll say, I know what I want, but I can't these are the reasons why I can't have it. So slightly different ways of dealing with those two scenarios. I guess the first thing that I would say is that I believe that deep down inside, everybody does know what they want, but it's just a matter of like, how much are you defending yourself against your wants? Because there's risk involved in starting to take action towards something that you want. And I think that it's very interesting that with high achievers, that a lot of times they sort of placate themselves with like, well, at least I'm making a lot of money even though I'm not really doing in the industry or in the functional area that I love, right? At least I'm making a lot of money, or I've got the title or whatever, whatever it is, whatever the trappings of that success are. But when people say that they know what they want, but they're here's the 10 reasons why can't have it. I just tell them, let's separate these things. Right? Let's just let the thing you want exist, right? Don't don't like smother your baby in the cradle, because that's, you know, basically what they're doing. And then separately if that if you're clear on what you want, let it live. And then separately, let's start brainstorming of how you can get there. Right? Because there's a way there's absolutely a way right I mean, we see people every day that how Have the things that we want, right? And if we can allow ourselves to embrace that, and envision that we can find a way. And I mean, it's funny because I've seen my clients that once they allow that idea to live, they can get that thing pretty quickly. Because there are people around us, that could give us the thing that we want easily, right? I mean, there's people that are hiring every day, right there, you know, if you want to live in a different town, there are realtors right there, there are ways that you can do these things, right, you just have to start start thinking that way, when people say they don't know what they want, a lot of times, they're very defended against allowing that inner knowledge to trickle up to the level of consciousness. And what I'll tell people that are in that situation is like, start paying attention to your body sensations, when things are happening, right. Like if you you know, if there's a project at work, and you get butterflies in your stomach, when somebody starts talking about it, take note of that and start asking yourself, like, what is it about this is that's getting me excited. You know, if I think that, like, even the opposite of that is true, too. Sometimes we'll tell ourselves why have to do this. But you know, maybe when we're doing some part of our job, we'll start clenching our jar clenching our fists, or our palms or get sweaty, and I think just getting curious about like, what's going on here, because maybe that's something that we don't want to do. And we're making ourselves do it, because we've told ourselves that this is like part of our job, and we have no choice. But just I think getting in touch with that inner wisdom is what's really important. And then, you know, honoring yourself enough to allow what you want to live and, and to believe that there's a possibility for it to happen.
When you said, Let's separate these two things. One, what you want to be doing two the reasons you can't do it. Such great advice, are there some very common responses that people give to why they can't do it? Okay, what are some of those,
everything from like, Oh, I want to do this, but I have to go back to school to do it. I want to do this. But you know, that doesn't pay that much. And I make too much money to do that. You know, my kids are in college, or there's all kinds of reasons why, you know, they only hire people that come from an HR background to do this, and I really want to do it. But I come from a finance background. You know, and I don't know, call me an optimistic fool. But I believe that, you know, if there's a guess maybe this is where my tenacity comes in. You know, I truly believe that there's a will there's a way, you know, and there's, you know, just because something happened a certain way in the past doesn't mean it can't happen differently in the future.
You know? Absolutely. As soon as you said, the way I see it, right, in my head was if there's a will, there's a way. So yeah, you are an optimist. And maybe it's the right way to look at it. I'm aligned with your thinking on that. And when you were talking about how some people, you tell them to focus on the sensation of when they like something, and also the sensations when they don't, one of the case studies in your book, Scott said something that really struck a chord with me. And it was if you don't love what you do, why do it? I'm curious what that means to you?
Well, I mean, why waste your life doing something that you don't like to do, you know, that one of the things that I noticed with, with high achieving people is that they have the ability to do many things, you know, and, and I think sometimes we can try to protect ourselves by not going at the thing that we really want, because maybe we fear that if we don't get it, we'll be too disappointed. Right. So sometimes we'll go after something that's like kind of close, you know, I think in Scotts case, you know, he was he was writing, and he was writing for, you know, an organization had a great job, but he, you know, had this, this hankering to go out and start his own business, and, you know, do writing. And the funny thing about about him too, is that, you know, he's a financial copywriter and writes like white papers and all kinds of, you know, content. And I met him at a networking event. And when I met him, I was like, Oh, my gosh, where have you been my whole career? Because it's very, very difficult to find financial copywriters who understand the more complex areas of finance and you know, he worked in an investment bank. So he, he was writing about things that I was constantly looking for somebody to, to write about. So I think, for him to have the confidence to say, you know, I think there's a I think there's a need in the marketplace, and I'd like to be doing this. I guess essentially, it's the same thing that he was doing for the company, but he's doing it for his own company and he can choose who he works with and What types of projects he works on. And, you know, I know in his case that he just felt, you know, more ownership and joy out of knowing that he was creating this company, and that he had more control over it than just waiting for somebody to give them an assignment.
He also talks about the importance of moving towards something versus away from something. Can you tell me in the listeners a bit more about what he means by that?
Yeah, I mean, I think that I see it a lot. When people are in pain in their current job, that they'll come and they'll just say, I need a new job, I needed a job, because I just want to get away from the pain, right. But the reason why I have the first step, when somebody works with me, is for us to get clarity on their goal is because if they don't have a goal, you can leave your job, and you can go and get another job. But is that really gonna do you any good, if you just, you know, jump out of the frying pan and into the fire, right, it could be just as bad if you haven't gotten clarity on what it is that you want, you know, and when you get clarity on what you want, and then you're going towards something, you know, if you're just trying to get away from something, you can go in any direction, and it doesn't mean that you're going to be going towards something that's better.
And if you don't know why you want to get out of that situation, odds are, you're going to be saying, every time I'm at a job, this happens down the road until you figure out what the cause is. Yeah, something else that you wrote about. And I watched the movie when I was a kid, so quite loved it. In mindfulness, we often talk about the monkey mind. And you write about Gremlins?
it's a very similar concept. Can you explain to our listeners, what a gremlin is, and how they can deal with it so that it can help them in their day to day life?
Yeah, you know, Gremlin is the word that I use for that little voice in your head that a lot of times the same kind of mean thing, you know, don't throw your hat in the ring for that promotion. Because, you know, you're just gonna fail, you know, don't don't do this, you know, the Gremlin is a voice in your head, that it is part of you that is trying to protect you. It's job, it's, it's sort of like the, you know, it's like the guardians at the gate, right, but they don't want to let anything in period, they don't want let anything in. Because that can be risky, that might hurt you. But the Gremlins can also keep good things from coming in. And I think that it's, it's important to sort of honor that part of yourself and to recognize that that voice is trying to protect me. But it also can hinder you know, and to, to understand that, you know, you can you can be kind to yourself, and you can, you know, you don't need to talk harshly to yourself to get the results that you want. I think that a lot of us just kind of got in the habit of it. Because, you know, depending on how we grew up, I mean, maybe it was really critical that we were harsh with ourselves, because the stakes were high if we made a mistake, you know, and it's important at some point to stop and take inventory of where you are in your life right now and say is this level of hyper vigilance needed, you know, like, really look at it objectively and say, you know, it's funny, because like, when I first left my job, and I was starting out my business, I did have this feeling constantly that my family was going to end up on the street. Just because I think it was such a weird feeling not to get direct deposit in my bank account every two weeks, right, that I had been getting that in my bank account for, like 30 years. And it's strange when you first leave, but I finally sort of step back and I was like, okay, like, look at your bank account, right? You're fine. Look at the business that's coming in, like, yes, it's not at this point, equal to what your direct deposit was. But, you know, you made this choice consciously. And really, what you're dealing with here is, you know, maybe like a little Gremlin that's not used to the new normal, right. And I had to really reassure myself that no, I'm okay. Right, that even if, you know, it gets to a point where financially I'm not doing well, with my business. There's so much runway between where you know, where I was then and, you know, my family and the guy on the street. It would have never, ever happened, right? Because I could always go out and get another job, or we could sell our house or whatever, you know, it's not and sometimes just being able to recognize that, you know, that voice is being very alarmist. And that's not really the truth of what's going on that we can adjust. The way that the Gremlin talks and the Gremlin is us. So we can we do have control over how it talks to us. And I think a lot of people don't recognize that they're like, that little voice, you know? Yeah. Everybody has it.
Have you ever met someone whose inner Gremlin is a positive, happy go lucky person that just continuously praises them?
Well, I mean, it's I I don't know, you know, I can't hear somebody else's inner voice, right. But I do think that a lot of very successful people have learned how to consciously shift their mindset so that they preserve their energy to focus on their goals. And anytime that we get caught up in listening too much, and I talked about the monkey mind, you know, if we're spending a lot of time worrying, ruminating, looking for threats, like an excessive amount of time doing that, or being defensive, judging, all of those activities, use a lot of energy, and all of that energy is leaking out of our ability to focus our energy and be able to go forward towards our goals. You know, I think, you know, probably, if you talk to Tony Robbins, or somebody like that, right, that there, very little leakage there of energy, like probably all of the energy is going towards the goals, with very little time spent worrying or judging other people. And you know, all of that, all of that is, you know, it's a way to try to keep us safe. But it's probably, you know, I think that I started coming around to this at some point where, I mean, this is a long, long time ago, but I remember, I always tried to stay really tight on top of my finances. And actually, the second job after I got into business school, I, I got a relocation package, and they move me and, you know, me and my husband, and that was great, you know, I felt like, Oh, well, I made the big time there, got to reload package and all this kind of stuff. But and I didn't really I didn't realize that those benefits are taxable. And so when the, when I did my, my taxes that year, I owed, and I was so upset, I was beating myself up for like, a couple weeks over, because I thought I was going to get a refund. I mean, it's, it's silly now. But I was beating myself up over it for like two weeks, you know, just feeling really angry about it, and kind of saying, what could I have done differently? how, you know, how would I have no notice? And I had to write the check to pay the taxes. And then I realized afterwards, I was like, why did I waste so much energy on that? Because I was gonna have to write the check anyway. Right. And, and I could have chosen to be upset for 10 minutes, and then been like, whatever, okay, I got to write a check. You know, I have to shift my expectations about, you know, what I was thinking about using the refunds that I wasn't gonna get, you know, but I think that there's a lot of times where we put a lot of energy into things to try to protect ourselves. And, you know, like, maybe if somebody is going into a presentation, and they're like, worrying about it, and think, well, what if they ask this question, and oh, I have to do all of these different things. I've just observed that so often, if I over prepare, like that, I'll go in, and none of the things that I prepared for happen, and something that I didn't prepare for does happen, and I deal with it, right. So we can choose to do that at any time. I mean, I'm not saying don't, you know, don't prepare, don't practice your presentation. But I'm saying, like, do the right amount. And then just have confidence in yourself and go in and be present and deal with things in the moment, right? Because if otherwise, maybe us, you know, we're sleepless all night long, and you go in the next day, and you're not going to perform well, because you're so worried
the what are some of the things that you've taught yourself tools, tips, tricks on how to reduce the Gremlin voice or to just look past it?
Well, a couple things. I mean, when you hear that voice, you can say, what's a better thing for me to say to myself, right, like, it could be anything, you can say, you can come up with things to stay say to yourself when you're not under stress. Like it could be that when you recognize that you're beating yourself up, like come out of a presentation, and or any anything like an interview or whatever, and you're like, Oh, I'm such an idiot, and I didn't do well. And I should have known the question to this and all of this, to say, how would you talk to your dearest friend or loved one, if they were in the same situation, try to start adopting that language with yourself. You know, don't say things to yourself that you wouldn't say out loud to somebody else. And most of the time, we wouldn't call somebody else an idiot, or stupid but yet people will do that to them. selves all the time. And, you know, I, at least my experiences that the more that I have stepped into this, the better I feel about myself, I feel worthy, I feel lovable because I talk to myself that way. And I get used to feel that way. I used to feel like I really had to have the, you know, the lookouts on the gate, I had to like be looking for the threats. And and I really believed that if I wasn't doing that if I wasn't hyper vigilant that something might common, you know, upset the applecart and I'd be in a really bad situation, right. But I think I just realized that that that was a very, very high price to pay for the, you know, success. And that if I just sort of let things flow a little bit more that I probably not only had the same amount of success, but more because I'd have more resources that were available to focus on my goal.
You mentioned hyper vigilance right there. And needing a guardian at the gate. And very early in the conversation. You mentioned that you realized that one of the things that moving did to you was it made it hard for you to trust people? Do you tie those together? In that that lack of ability to trust? put up a bit of a guardian gate for?
I think so i think so. Because I think that, you know, whenever you go into a new classroom, or something that you didn't know what the social dynamic was, right, like, who was the queen bee? You know, who was the who were the popular kids? Who were the not, you know, whatever, you just didn't know what people's roles were right. So, you know, I was very wide. I like looking for all of the clues that I could put together to understand what the dynamic was. And, you know, there were times whenever I, you know, I didn't get it. Right. Right. And, you know, maybe there was something that maybe there was an altercation on the playground or something, you know, because I didn't know to steer clear of this person, or whatever, you know, I wasn't friendly enough to somebody and they took offense or whatever. Yeah, that childhood stuff. You know, I think once you get into the, the workplace, there's, I mean, there's still drama, and there's still politics, and, and all of that. But, you know, I think adults usually are not as as cruel as children can be.
You know, it's just thinking as you were talking about it, how it changes from childhood to adult, but you still have, you know, what we were talking about earlier, we still have that coping mechanism that we had when we were in grades. You know, we're now you know, we're in our 30s, we're in our 40s, we're at work, we're still coping that way. It's an interesting way to look back at it, one of the things that you talk about for all of us is that we all have our stories, what is the importance of each of our stories? And how do people find their story?
Well, you know, I think it's, I think it's really interesting. You know, one, one thing that I've noticed as the more that I, you know, come on and a guest on podcasts, and the more I tell my stories, the more I understand them. And, you know, I, one of the things that I see a lot with people, when I do that assessment that I talked about is that it gives them a reframe of their story, because a lot of times people are very judgmental of themselves, you know, that they'll they'll just say, Well, I wanted this and I didn't get it, there must be something wrong with me. And, you know, when we start digging into what their coping mechanisms are, and start shining a light on and you know, even asking, like is this, you know, given that this is what you want? Is this the best way to go about getting it? And, you know, a lot of times people are like, Well, no, it's not, but I really don't know what to do instead. And I'm also not sure why I'm doing this, right. And usually, it's because of something they've experienced in the past. Always It is always it is. And you know, I talked about this a little bit earlier that when we put their behavior in context to say, Well, of course, if your parents divorced when you were four years old, and that you didn't have the oversight, or they were so distracted by what was going on with, you know, the broken family and mom had to go back to work and you were left by yourself, it's natural that maybe you would develop this certain type of coping mechanism, right, because you did not get the support that you needed. You didn't get the attention that you needed at that at that age. And I've seen it a lot with that, once that is put into context and they realize that there's nothing wrong with them that really the way that they're coping is normal, given what they experienced. They relax and they're like, oh, okay, like, there's nothing wrong with me like at my core, and I'm like, No, like at your core. You're the Beautiful shiny being. And then you know, there may be your you've got sort of like, some dirt on the outside, because this is, you know, you coped in a certain way that wasn't as effective as it could be. But you can always choose to do it differently at any moment,
as you were describing that the word that came to mind was that must be absolutely freeing for the person who's realizing that with you,
yeah, I mean, I've definitely seen people, you know, it's almost like a huge weight is lifted off their shoulders. Now, the thing that I'll say is that there is a tendency to want to go back, I mean, we don't even want to we just do, right, because that that neural pathway is carved and praying, it really, it's sort of if you think about, you know, your brain and like part of your brain is just like this dense forest. And then part has this like well worn path on it, that when we're deciding that we want to do things differently, it's hard work, because we were taking the chainsaw or the machete and we're cutting the, we're cutting a new path in this dense forest, right, we're doing something different. And, you know, if we don't keep doing it, and then it kind of the vines grow across the path and all of that, right. So you have to keep doing it till it becomes a habit. And then the nice thing that that happens quite often is that if you keep consciously, you know, reinforcing that, and reminding yourself because like, it's very likely that you'll sometimes be like, well, I'm gonna go on this old path, right? And then you're like, Oh, yeah, I told myself, I wasn't going to do that, I'm going to back up, and I'm going to go on the path through the dense woods, it's a harder path. But the more you do it, the easier it gets. And then what will actually happen is that if you don't use that old path, the vines will grow across that and you won't even think about doing it. Or maybe it'll just be like, under extreme stress, you'll go back to that old way of doing things.
That is such a great analogy for describing how to convert from a prior habit that you don't want anymore, to a new habit that you do. And it really encapsulates how much work you have to do to do it, get the machete out and cut a path day in, day out, do the work. And that's something in everything I write or talk about that I really encourage the listeners to realize is, at the end of the day, a lot of this is about doing the work to get what you want. Terry can do the work for you, I can't do the work for you, the only person who can do the work, is you. And that brings me to another question. Because something that happens to a lot of high achievers over time, is we get that opportunity to step up and do more often we don't get a title page, and we don't get any compensation with it. What are some of the things that our listeners should be thinking about when that happens to them? And as an example of that, can you take them through what you refer to as the stop method?
I might have to get the book out to to remember that when you you've definitely gone deep into my booklet and I'm like, Oh, I keep hoping like, Okay, I hope I remember that example. Well, let's see, you know, when people want to move up in the organization, a lot of I think that if you're given the opportunity to, to do more, that's great. Because typically, you're not going to make a giant leap from one level to the next. Because it can be very risky for you and for the organization for them to say, oh, we're going to promote you to this, like, you know, really high level role or radically expand the scope of work that you're expected to do. So I actually say that I think it's important to over perform and improve yourself so that you're ready to move up to the next to the next level. But I also think that it's important to position yourself as a leader and not just quietly take work on you know, if there's something that you that you want to do make sure that people understand that Yeah, I want to move up, I want to if you're offered something, you know, don't hesitate to ask, you know, what, is this just temporary? Is this something that is a stepping stone to something larger? Or are you just expanding my role without giving me additional pay? A lot of times companies will try to do that.
Absolutely. And that's a huge differentiator that you talk about is recognizing Is this a short term, temporary situation or is it long term, and the acronym that you have for stop is stop, take a few deep breaths, observe the sensations that are arising and proceed with awareness and compassion into the situation. I thought that was great when someone's being put into a situation where they're, they're unsure of how to handle it is to just effectively what we've been talking about. Throughout the conversation, putting a gap between the stimulus and the response that they undertake some questions I like to dive into outside the book tied to your coaching. And one of the things that jumps out at me are what are some of the myths to coaching? Are reasons that people don't pursue it? And why do you think they would benefit from coaching?
Well, I think that some of the myths that people have about coaching are that only, you know, senior level C suite executives get coaching. And I think that another thing that that sometimes people think, is that people who are successful in organizations got there effortlessly, that they just got on it, you know, that they were just smarter, they were lucky, and they got on a escalator that just took them to that to that level, and they didn't have to really do anything. And in fact, a lot of successful people have gotten help, right, that they, they recognize, they go through the things that we talked about, you know, like that, they they set a goal for themselves, they put a roadmap in place, they looked at what are my skill gaps, and they proactively went out and got somebody to help them whether that was a mentor, or a coach, or, you know, whatever, you know, got some presentation training or sales training, or, you know, communications coaching. So I kind of look at it, like if there's something that you really want, and you believe that you have the intelligence and the talent and the drive to do it. Don't let other people's perceptions of what your potential is stand in the way, you know, like really position package yourself, position yourself to be in that place where people are going to start looking at you and saying, Yeah, I think their management material,
you already highlighted your superpower, which is a question. I like that ask a lot of my guests. And on the flip side of that, what's something that you struggle with day to day?
Well, I'm extremely curious. And I think that the thing that I struggle with his shiny object syndrome, I like to, I am very curious, I like to be involved in a lot of things, I like to start a lot of things, one of the things I kind of miss about working in the corporate world is that I could come up with ideas I could come up with, you know, the strategy, do the creative stuff. And then I had a team of people that I could delegate to, and as an entrepreneur, you know, that's, that's a little tougher, you know, I'm putting some I'm putting some, you know, support in place to help me with that, but it's very easy to get stuck in the weeds, whenever, you know, you, you overcommit, which sometimes I tend to do
when you're operating at your best, what routines habits rituals are you following? Well,
that's a good one. Because I really, when I'm operating at my best I get up early in the morning, I journal I meditate, I kind of get myself centered before I start my day. And I will also regularly review what's on my to do list and prioritize, right? Because sometimes, you know, things that I wanted to get done this week, maybe they're going to be deprioritize. Because something else came up and you know, constantly sort of looking at at what I have to do and prioritizing is critical. Because otherwise, you know, something gets left on the backburner that really is something that's important that should be paid attention to.
And for the listeners out there that morning practice that Terry does of journaling, and meditating those can also be very effectual in helping quiet or reframe the Gremlin or the monkey mind. Yeah. So definitely something that when we're operating at our best is very beneficial. If there was one problem that you could solve, what would it be, you
know, if there was one problem that I could solve it would be to help people appreciate themselves and to understand that they're worthy innately period.
Thank you. How can our readers or sorry, how can our listeners find you?
They can find me at my website, which is Terry B. McDougall comm they can also link in with me on LinkedIn, and my handle, there is Terry B. McDougal. And then if they're interested in checking out my book, winning the game of work, it's available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
And we'll have all of that in the show notes for them to find in before we go, is there anything else that's on your mind that we haven't covered so far in our conversation?
Well, the problem that I wanted to solve I guess the message that I have for your listeners is that you deserve to be happy, period. So if you're not happy right now, start figuring out what you need to do to be happy. You deserve that
you are enough. Just as You are. Yeah. Thank you, Terry. I really appreciate it.
Thanks for having me, Clint.
Thank you for joining us on the pursuit of learning, make sure to hit the subscribe button and head over to our website, the pursuit of learning comm where you will find our show notes, transcripts and more. If you like what you see, sign up for our mailing list. Until next time, your host in learning Clint Murphy