I’m constantly floored by the generosity of the women I work with, since it can be really intimidating to tell the truth about what is stopping each of us.
I’ve been working with a woman we’ll call Margot, who wants to make a profound difference by contributing to others. Currently, she has a following only with her friends and family, but long term, she is interested in having a national presence.
We’ve been working together for a while, and there always seems to be some undefined “thing” in the way of her taking the powerful actions she needs to take. She’s extremely bright and knows exactly what she needs to do, but has not been able to motivate herself, or get herself started.
On my end, it’s so frustrating! I see who she could be, and there is a big gap between what’s possible for her and where she currently is. And it’s impacting EVERYTHING in her life… her job, her relationship with her significant other, her relationship to her body, food, weight, family… you name it and it’s impacted!
Our conversations go something like this (every week):
Me: OK, Margot, you said you’d do “x” last week. Did you do it?
Margot: Well, not all of it, not really…
Me: OK, thanks for acknowledging that. What do you want to create this week?
Margot: I’d like to start exercising, but I’m totally not motivated. I mean, I get up early enough, I have the time to do it, but I just don’t do it.
Every week, we explore what the one small action item could be, and every week we acknowledge that the previous week’s item was not completed in full.
Finally, this week, we started talking about what might be stopping her, since obviously there’s something standing in her way, right?
Whenever I run up against someone who is stuck, I find that they are often stuck in an arena that Marianne Williamson addresses beautifully in her 1992 book: A Return to Love. (It’s often incorrectly attributed to Nelson Mandela.) Here it is:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’
Actually, who are you not to be?”
When we dove into that inquiry, we immediately hit on what was in her way. You see, she is married to her best friend and partner, who is also the father of her kids. And in her quietest moments, she’s able to identify that she is terrified that if she becomes a national figure, her relationship will not survive.
So, while she is deeply interested in growing her career, she is also simultaneously sabotaging herself!
As an observer, it’s amazing to witness what changes for people when they get real. The minute she spoke her truth, her entire body and demeanor changed. She settled into her own skin, was no longer avoiding my questions, and we could actually get to work!
We explored what she specifically was scared of. Was she scared he would not love her if she became a national figure? No, that wasn’t a problem. Was she concerned that he would be threatened if she made more money than him? Perhaps, but that was a peripheral issue.
Was she worried that she would have tremendous growth and he would not grow along with her and then they would no longer be compatible?
At this point, we both took a deep breath, since this was a tough one. You don’t have to grow in the same way, but yes, if she were going to begin this tremendous growth process he would either have to grow in his own way, or their relationship would stop working for them.
After more discussion, she came up with a plan. She felt comfortable sharing these concerns with him and exploring their options, communicating her fears and then getting his buy in, support and creating a plan. Together.
So she went home and spoke with him. He was moved, grateful, and inspired that this powerful woman loved him, and wanted to take the journey with him.
Uncovering her fear, and then taking a powerful step to manage it, led to a whole host of other breakthroughs for her. She had previously struggled with boundary setting. After this breakthrough, she set boundaries with her children, her immediate family, and her job. She began exercising and was able to begin taking care of her body the way she was committed to. And she took the steps she needed in order to begin walking along the path of the national figure she knows herself to be.
If you are struggling with a goal, I invite you to ask yourself: What do I need to get real about? What am I not addressing that, if uncovered and addressed, would enable me to reach my personal and professional goals?
It’s not as scary as it seems.
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