Why Am I Eating Six-Layer Dip? And Other Ways I’m Sucking at Life

This is dedicated to all of the business owners and entrepreneurs grinding to make it work. (And now I have "Juicy" in my head)

I am a total Excel geek and can knock out an annual budget for a client in 30 minutes flat, but I still haven’t finished my 2017 budget.

I can see the branding pitfalls and strategic holes for my clients, but struggle to define a specific niche in my coaching practice.

I can build a nutrition and exercise program for someone based on their needs and limitations, but find myself indulging in 6-layer dip on a weekly basis and eating things I know will make me sick.

I struggle with consistency and creativity, but get inspired and amped when my clients need it most.

(I could go on and on… DM me if you’d like me to)

 

This seems so counter-intuitive and ridiculous, but the more I share with other professionals on this topic, the more I realized I’m not alone.

 

Take the graphic designer who for three years did not have a complete website of her own.

Or the political fundraiser who was confused about her own direction and platform.

Or the IT engineer who could built a full system (I’m not going to attempt to know the ins and outs of IT), but couldn’t pay his parking tickets on time.

Or the matchmaker who could align the values and goals of her clients to make “the perfect couple,” but struggles to define boundaries in her own relationships.

 

These are just a handful from my clients and other encounters, but I’m sure we have some professional/personal skeletons in our own closet. So what’s the missing piece? Why are high functioning professionals stumbling when it comes to translating their professional strengths into their personal lives?

Back when I was a CrossFit Coach, I had to make myself work out. I despised the time in that environment. Why? Because it felt like work.  

The dreaded four-letter word: WORK

For some reason this word has the ability to suck the fun out of every activity. It can take a high engagement hobby that you want to do into an obligation or chore which will tank out your engagement into a “have to.” Is it the financial piece or the time expectation? Whatever the trigger it can make our stress level shoot through the roof.  

So what do you do?

How do you get your happy back if your hobby has now become your full-time gig or if your once enjoyable job has tanked into the pit of despair?

Here are a couple of options to explore.

1)      Go Gently – My mom says this to me on a weekly basis and it’s usually after I’ve beaten myself up for not being where I think I should be. Be gentle with yourself. You are one person doing the best you can with what you have. Once you can speak kindly to yourself, you can move onto the next step.

2)      Ask for Help – Yes, this is a shameless plug for coaching, but in the case of the IT professional, campaign fundraiser and web designer, this was critical to build a plan that worked for them. Once they realized that what they were doing wasn’t working for them, they sought outside resources.

3)      Focus on What You’re Awesome at and Delegate the Rest – If you are maxed out on programming, the last thing you’ll want to do is manage your timesheets or budget. This may be a key time to hire a Virtual Assistant or Project Manager. No one says you have to do it all to be successful. Focus on what you’re passionate about and what makes you money. There are tons of solutions out there once you’re ready to release control.

4)      Stay Accountable and Challenge the Status Quo – “I’ve never been able to…” “I’ve always done it this way…”  yadda yadda yadda no longer will be tolerated. You are aware of your strengths. You are aware of your challenges. You have a solution or two to apply, so go out and do it. You’re a bad ass MoFo right?! I mean you wouldn’t be reading this if you weren’t! Get yourself an accountability partner or a coach to check in with on a regular basis (daily or weekly is recommended). Do what works for you. If you know you do better with a group, check out networking groups or mastermind groups in your field. If you like the lone wolf track, go one-on-one with someone.

 

Sure this may seem simple, believe me it’s not. This takes time to reprogram yourself, so be patient and gentle.  Ideally you need to start thinking of yourself as the CEO of your life – not the consultant.  (Stay tuned for another post about this mindset shift)

Who’s the Boss? You are The Boss (not Bruce Springsteen).

So I Didn’t Get The Job… What I learned in the process of getting rejected

Two months ago a message popped up in my LinkedIn account from a recruiter. Typically I briefly glance at these messages and delete them, but this one caught my eye. It was from a reputable financial firm with the makings of my dream job – an internal coaching and consulting position in the DC region.  

Six months before this, I walked away from an eleven-year career in association management where I traveled the world and worked with awesome people. For the most part I got to call the shots and make important decisions, but it was lacking a key element – my true passion for coaching.

So after getting certified as a professional coach, I decided to take the plunge. I walked away with no clients, no real prospects and decided to go for it. People thought I was crazy. I was scared, but I was more afraid of what I would become by just playing it safe and small.

Slowly I built up my clientele and built my niche working with entrepreneurs and millennials looking to carve out their way in the world, but the words of self-doubt kept creeping in. “Are you sure you’re going to be able to make enough money?” “Do you really think you’re good enough to be a coach?”

I pushed through the funk of my internal speak until, in month two of being a solopreneur, a “dream” job appeared. It was wrapped in all of the too-good-to-be-trues. “The job is made for you.” “It’s yours if you want it.” “Name your price.”

I took the bait hook, line and sinker and dropped all efforts in business development to pursue this opportunity. I shifted my schedule to make interviews work and held my breath waiting for my new life to begin. Only the email and call never happened. The promise for follow up was broken week after week. I emailed, I called and there was nothing. After three weeks of waiting, I got pissed and decided to take the decision into my own hands. I didn’t walk away from the security of a 9-5 to then run away from my business that had only been up and running for 2 months. I recommitted back to making Lauren LeMunyan Coaching work and went for it.  (Sure enough I heard back from them two months later asking if I would be interested in continuing the process and I respectfully declined).

Business began to pick up and I started working with higher profile clients. The universe must have sensed that I needed a new challenge to my entrepreneurial commitment and thus came the amazing job offer. It was almost twice what I had made previously and had the promise of structure with flexibility. After speaking with the recruiter, I talked to the hiring manager and then another future colleague. I traveled at 4:00am for a three-hour marathon interview session with four points of contact (P.S. there were no scheduled food or bathroom breaks in between the 10:30am – 1:30pm timeframe). I was authentically me the whole time and felt appreciated for it. I felt like I found my people. The job was surely mine.

“You’ll hear from me early next week.” The recruiter promised.

I thought this was odd given this was in between Christmas and New Years, but maybe they were really dedicated to the process.

No call. No email. The doubt started to creep in, but I didn’t waiver from building or maintaining my business. It was either going to be the right fit or not.

Another week passed and I reached out and got an out of office response, so I reached out to the hiring manager. No decision had been made, but they asked if I could continue meeting with regional managers. Sure not a problem.

I then reached out to schedule a time and was told they went in another direction. There it was. The decision had been made and it wasn’t me. It felt like a punch to the gut. All of the fantasies of my future life with my new role and income were dashed. Here we go again – another disappointment. I cried and got sad and then I talked to my coach who challenged me to write 5 things I learned in the process.

So here goes…

1)      I’m pretty freaking awesome – They found me. They liked what they saw and heard and I was 100% me.

2)      I like security – Clearly after two times of me going down this path, I have realized the common thread. Not having a guaranteed income scares the shit out of me. Even month after month I increase my revenue, not having the guaranteed take-home income triggers my self-doubt. As a result, my focus is now on diversifying my business with corporate clients, individual sessions and events.

3)      I am resilient – I can face rejection and accept it for what it is – a determination that it wasn’t a good fit. I can pick myself up, ask for help and support and move on to the next one.

4)      I was playing too small – I was secretly waiting for someone to determine my worth (or maybe it wasn’t so secretive). I was safe in my small space. I stopped writing my blogs. I stopped pushing myself creatively. I stopped going after the ideal clients. I used the excuse of not wanting to overcommit, but deep down I was trying to protect myself from the potential rejection and hurt if I didn’t quite make it. 

5)      I felt like a phony, sell-out – Here I was coaching my clients how to lean into their discomfort and fear and I wasn’t doing it for myself. I was hiding from the truth that I didn’t believe I was good enough to be a successful coach.

 

So here is the truth. It’s scary to be an entrepreneur. Not everyone is cut out for it, but if you’ve got the cojones to take that step, I’ve got your back.  If you’re not afraid or uncomfortable, you’re playing too safe. It’s what you do with that fear and self-doubt that will either hold you in your safety bubble or launch you into a realm of success you never knew possible.

This literally just happened, so I don’t have a happy follow up to give you, but I do promise to keep you posted with honest and uncensored feedback on the process. So if you’re needing some bold accountability coaching, I’m you’re girl. First session is on the house.

November: New Month, New Intention

Each month I like to set my word of intention. In the past it has been words like abundance, exposure, connection, perseverance.  This month after five months of cranking on my business, I wanted to switch it up and share it beyond just my inner circle. So here is my word.

COMPASSION

This is a word I struggle with. I have beaten myself up when opportunities don't click or when I don't hit my numbers. I have criticized myself for not being kind to others and myself. I got sad when I wasn't living up to my other words of intention.  

Compassion means loving, forgiving, and releasing. It allows us all to release the judgments and ill feelings of others that weigh us down. I choose to focus on being more compassionate to myself and others in my life who I am struggling to forgive. 

How do I plan to bring more compassion into my life? If I feel a tinge of judgment come on, my job is to create a compliment in its place. If I hear others speaking negatively, I will offer an alternative view. Each day I will begin my day with a new compliment about myself.

This month especially we need a little more love and kindness. When our views can differ so greatly, this is our opportunity to come together in compassion.

7 Kinds of Leaders: Which One is Best?

The Gloom and Doom Leader – At every fork in the road you see despair. Whether it’s employees missing deadlines and disappointing you or Board members who load on the guilt, you’re bogged down with the weight of the world. You can’t see the light because there is too much to do and no one to delegate to.

Advantage: People around you more often than not are waiting in the wings to step in to either counsel, console or take on the extra workload.

Disadvantage: You’re kind of a bummer to be around and you probably go home feeling worn out and burned out. You feel the weight of the world on Mondays and dread waking up in the morning.

 

The Command and Control Leader: You’re an alpha leader to the nth degree. You on the room when you walk in. People hush up when you enter the room for fear of being chewed out. You bark orders at people before they’ve had a chance to have their first sip of coffee. You drive the ship because there couldn’t possibly be any other way of getting to point B.

Advantage: Directions are clear and you know what you want.

Disadvantage: You’re probably hurting a lot of people’s feelings along the way and are feeling really exhausted. Imagine a 10+ hour boxing max – yep you’re in it.

 

The Win/Win Leader: You take everyone’s opinion, feelings, interactions and reactions into consideration before making a decision. You are conscious of how you come across and how others may perceive you. Every situation is about making sure everyone wins.

Advantage: People feel acknowledged and validated. They are part of the group and feel like they matter which in turn empowers you.

Disadvantage: Consensus takes time and effort and may not be achievable in short deadlines. People may be frustrated at the time spent to make a decision and get moving. This style may also be seen as coddling and tolerating sub-par ideas or talent.

 

The Hero Leader: You believe in helping people along the way. Your cape may be hanging up, but people expect you to swoop in and save the day. If someone needs assistance, you’re in their workstation before they’re done writing the email. You are the safe place for people to vent and ask for what they need. You’ve set up mentoring and professional development programs for the next 6 months for all of your employees.

Advantage: People feel safe and supported with you. They know if they have a problem, they can come to you.

Disadvantage: You may be overstepping and assuming people need assistance rather than letting them figure it out on their own. If you’re a chronic helper, you may be over-exerting yourself to your own detriment. If you see people as need your help, you may be blocking their progress to thrive.

 

The Entrepreneurial Leader: Ideas are fluttering all around you. If there was a problem, yo you’ll solve it! You bring people together to tackle big projects and are starting on the next idea before 10am. You are a machine of innovation and creativity. You bring together the best and the brightest to facilitate your vision.

Advantage: People are excited to be around you. Your energy is infectiously creative and profitable. You are a renewable resource of innovation.

Disadvantage: If people aren’t on board with you, you can feel dejected. You may be moving at a speed that doesn’t enable people to understand your process. If you’ve already thought of the solution, you’re not thinking about steps 2-19 if you’re already on step 20.

 

The Joyful Leader: You are a ray of sunshine. Every day is a party and you want everyone to dance and sing with you. People love being around you to get their jolt of happiness.

Advantage: You’re a refreshing break for people who need to feel good. You inspire people with your goodness. People love chatting with you on the phone or stopping by your office for a chat usually lasting over 20 minutes.

Disadvantage: You may be missing the details and detached from day-to-day objectives if you’re swaying to the rhythm all day long. But who cares, you’re awesome.

 

The Placard Leader: You are known only by the title on the lobby door. You’re out and about being the brand.

Advantage: You get paid to be you and don’t get bogged down in minutia details. Whatever you see or say is the direction of the company.

Disadvantage: People don’t understand you and make think you’re a bit of a jerk who doesn’t get their hands dirty.

 

Which leader do you think is the best leader and why? Post your vote in the comment section below.

 

About Lauren LeMunyan, CPC, ELI-MP Lauren LeMunyan is a certified professional coach, host of Water Cooler Wednesdays and former nonprofit executive focused on increasing employee engagement, motivation and retention. Lauren facilitates group sessions, attitudinal assessments and private coaching. www.laurenlemunyan.com 

Busy: The New Four Letter Word

Last week, I spent six days in Mexico in a remote area with twelve semi-strangers and a trickle of Wi-Fi. This was my first real vacation, not attached to a work trip, in over four years (yes, I’m working on it).  It was a step outside of my comfort zone – no five star hotels, pools with swim up bars and restaurants in walking distance. Our days were filled with yoga, dips in the ocean and creative approaches to entertainment without connectivity. To say I was triggered was an understatement. I’ve learned recently that although I have extrovert tendencies, I really enjoy being by myself. This proved to be a huge challenge when sharing a room and having limited space to be quiet and reflect.

On Saturday, a group of us headed back to the airport to return to our modern comforts. I have never been so happy to feel air conditioning. Four of us were on the same flight to Houston with a tight connection through customs. We sprinted, sweated and prayed we’d make our flight. Upon approach to our gate, we noticed we were delayed an hour. Rather than get annoyed, we took it as the perfect opportunity to eat non-Mexican food and have a glass of wine. In our hour of delay, we realized that if we hadn’t had that time at the airport, we wouldn’t have set a plan to stay connected in our busy lives back in DC. So we exchanged information and committed to getting together soon after life calmed down.

We said our second goodbyes and boarded our flights. I sat down in my glorious window seat eager to close my eyes and catch up on much needed sleep (FYI - it is next to impossible to sleep with 120% humidity, no AC, and mating sounds of lizards and birds). A woman sat down next to me and I smiled and jokingly asked if she thought we’d really be leaving in 10 minutes. Turns out she was a flight attendant. I thought we would exchange pleasantries and be on our solo movie watching way, but instead we dove full on into our thoughts on love, relationships, friendships, conflict, and jobs. Then she said something that made the hair on my neck stick straight up, “I’m too busy for some people.”

There it was again…. “BUSY.” A seemingly innocent four letter word, but underneath a loaded bomb on passive aggressive energy. I stopped her. “What does that really mean?” She paused and thought for a minute. “Well, it means that some people are not a priority or worth my time.”

So what does being busy really mean? For me it says, I have a priority that is worth more of my time than another person or priority. If I don’t find the time, it wasn’t actually worth it. Then I dug in a bit more. How much are effort are we putting in to seem busy? Are we being busy or giving ourselves the excuse to not engage in areas that aren’t important to us?

If I ask someone to brunch for example and they say “I’m busy” and don’t offer an alternate date, you better believe I’m not barking up the same tree again. On the flip side, how many times have I responded with “I’ve been busy” when someone has asked what I’ve been up to.  Looking back on it, it feels very dismissive. It shut down discussion and curiosity. Here was someone genuinely interested in what was going on in my life and I summarized it in three words. What a missed opportunity!

I can’t say that I will full eliminate the word, busy, but I will be more intentional in its use or perceived interpretation. I will elaborate and explain my competing priorities when needed. I will be honest and up front about my limited time. Even with a full schedule, I will always make time for those important people in my life.

So the next time, you say you’re busy, ask yourself if it’s worth making the time or not.

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Opinions

What do you see in this picture at first glance?

A mother trying to pick up her baby or an angry mother scolding her baby?

This was the topic of discussion between my friend and I this morning. I was brainstorming about an awesome topic for my site and we started searching for relevant images. I came across this one and sent her the link with the comment "This makes me so sad."

Her response, "What does? The bear?"

"Yes, it looks like the baby bear is getting yelled at and has disappointed his mama."

"I thought it was a momma bear going to pick up her baby!"

We were looking at the same exact photo and had two totally different emotional responses. We then both went back to it and were able to see what the other saw. For me it was the aggressive teeth. For her it was the kind eyes and relaxed jaw.

Then it hit me, how many times have we looked at the same photo, email or situation and interpreted it in completely different ways? Our snap judgement creates the knee jerk reaction, but if we can pull back and ask what the other sees, we can open up the dialogue and better understand one another.

We spent ten minutes discussing this photo and where we were coming from - not to convince the other to change their mind, but to broaden our horizon of curiosity.

Life Decisions According to Kenny Rogers

You gotta know when to hold up. Know when to fold up. Know when to walk away. Know when to run.

It's a catchy tune and I'm pretty sure there is an embarrassing video of me as a four year old singing it in the bath tub (Dad - don't even think about it).

On a serious note, those lyrics can provide us with the choices to every decision we encounter. We always have options even when we think we "have to" or "need to" do something. Sure it's ideal to want to do something and be passionate about it.

What I'm referring to are those critical decisions (i.e. whether to stay in a job or a relationship that isn't quite working for us). When we feel like we have no options, we become victims to the situation and can feel dejected. Why bother?? (This is a very level 1 response). We could also feel really pissed off and frustrated that we don't get a say. (This is level 2)

What Kenny is offering us is an awareness to ask ourselves what our real options are.

  • Hold Up - Pause and wait for more information before proceeding.
  • Fold Up - Time to pack it in and readdress the situation from a new perspective
  • Walk Away - Graceful closure with honest exchange.
  • Run - Get the F out of there!

This sounds much more promising to review than the life sentence we feel is thrusted upon us. Yes, it's a simplistic view, but it provides the framework to pause before reacting. We have the choice to be aware and to decide what our best decision is at every step. With choice we have power. With power anything is possible.

7 Ways to Inspire and Maintain Positive Change at Work

We resolve to eat better, work out, read, spend time with friends, etc. What about the workplace? Would you like to improve motivation and morale? How about increasing retention and decreasing turnover? Awesome!

So, we come up with an action plan to build a super awesome workplace. We email out our plan or have a meeting about our new culture and attitude. A week or two passes and we feel the slide back to the old guard. So, how do we make that plan of positive change stick?

  1. Get People Excited– Just like a grand opening launch, your new culture should be launched with a high energy celebration that is authentic to your company’s values. Be different and show how things will be different. Serve yummy food and/or drinks, smile, interact. This is a party!
  2. Get Buy In– Ask for feedback with open, empowering questions. Rather than bark down change, ask for quantifiable responses on their willingness to participate in the new culture. If it’s not at an 8 or higher, ask more of those empowering questions.
  3. Be Consistent– As a leader, you set the stage. By being consistent, employees know what to expect and what is expected of them. If you stop by two days in a row to say good morning to all employees, but waiver on the third and fourth, your employees will doubt your commitment.
  4. Keep Your Word– Say what you mean and mean what you say.  Along with consistency, your word is your bond. If you promise to meet with an employee, don’t cancel. This is where trust is made or lost.
  5. Reinforce Positive Vibes– If you see positive things happening around you, acknowledge it and participate in it.
  6. Set the Bar High– Go big! This is an investment in your team and yourself. Incentivize positive change with group projects, group competitions, service projects, or other accolades.
  7. Be the Example of What You Want to See– Be the leader you wish you had. Look in the mirror and set your intention to be a powerful and inspiring leader. How do you want to show up to your team? What is the legacy you want to leave?

The ABCs of Awesome Living

First admission, I loved singing the ABCs as a kid and it seems it hasn’t left me in my adulthood. I woke up this morning with a burning question… Could the alphabet guide us to an awesome, positive, power-packed life?

The answer, of course!

Below is my compilation of the alphabet and the words that resonate most with me to live my best life.

A – Accountability: Keep your word and honor your commitments

B – Bravery: Step out when you aren’t quite sure what’s beneath you

C – Creativity: Imagine, develop and produce ideas and art without fear

D – Depth: Go beyond the surface

E – Enthusiasm: Be passionate and energetic

F – Fearlessness:  Take risks, go on adventures, try new things.

G – Generosity: Give to others and give to yourself when needed

H – Healing: Take time to recharge and resurface

I – Intuition: Trust your gut. It always knows.

J – Joy: Enjoy your bliss!

K – Kindness: Be sweet and loving to others and yourself

L – Love: Share it freely

M – Mindfulness: Be aware and centered in your mind, body and soul

N – Nourishment: Feed your soul and body with goodness

O – Openness: Arms spread wide allowing new ideas, people and love to come in

P – Presence: Show up as your true authentic self and be engaged in every interaction.

Q – Quality: Hold your standards high and give out what you want back

R – Respect: Treat yourself and others how you would treat your best friend

S – Serenity: Find peace and quiet in the moments to reflect and appreciate all that is around you

T – Trust: Knowing that all of this is with purpose and for growth

U – Unique: Be bold and different… it’s pretty awesome!

V – Vulnerability: Be open to be exposed. The more we open up and share, the more others trust us.

W – Worthiness: Know you deserve all the love and abundance imaginable

X – Xenial: Be hostess with the mostest  (sorry X is a tough one!)

Z – Zest: Be spicy and flavorful in everything you do!

 

What are some of your words?  How do these words work for you?