You DO Belong at the Table – So Show Up Fully

“Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.” “Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.” ― Brené Brown

 

Okay folks. I’ve just uncovered one of the top reasons leaders (people!) don’t have the meaningful success, relationships, income, and impact they want. And it’s crazy frustrating.

Here’s what it’s NOT:

It’s not because you may not have the same level of education as others have, or aren’t as skilled or experienced as others in your field are, or don’t have the job title you feel you “should” have by now, or are older/younger/something other than you see as being valued by your industry. 

Don’t get me wrong – of course education, skills and experience are important. And ageism and glass ceilings DO exist.  However, after talking with and coaching hundreds of leaders at crossroad moments, these “factual” barriers are not what holds people back.

What does?

For many, it’s what happens as a result of thinking they are somehow different, separate or “less than” those who are “successful.”  It’s the voices in your head, your Imposter Syndrome, your limiting beliefs and your assumptions about what is and is not possible for you that take up a lot of space, and literally prevent opportunities from being seen let alone seized.

Don’t think this applies to you?  Great! 

And… are you really sure?  I’ve watched respected leaders be confident and able to excel and advance in many areas, and simultaneously have blind spots in certain situations or with certain people/positions; somehow believing they don’t belong. It’s Imposter Syndrome, it’s not understanding one’s true value (the impact we have on others when we’re showing up fully), sometimes its cultural, and it’s sneaky.

I’ve had some recent experiences where I was again reminded how a lack of belonging can make leaders inadvertently self-sabotage their progress and success – their impact:

Every time I hold the first convening of my group coaching and leadership cohorts- either in the group or afterwards privately – my clients will express some version of “thank you for accepting me – even though I KNOW that I’m not as _(fill in the blank)_ compared to all the other leaders.” Or, “Everyone else has similar backgrounds. I’m the only one who is facing _(fill in the blank)_ .”  Or, “I’m not like that, I don’t/can’t/won’t do that.” 

This happens 100% of the time.  

Once, every single group participant let me know privately after the first meeting that they felt like an outlier.  Think about that – every extraordinary leader was looking around the room thinking they weren’t as “good” as all the other participants!  It was a great teaching moment, because it was so obvious that they couldn’t all be right.

Sometimes the separation is done with self-depreciating humor, beautiful complements to others, or subtle, quiet, even kind, self-editing, and sometimes it is revealed in dramatic fight or flight resistance. 

I was recently facilitating a meeting of diverse leaders; all contributing to the conversation with depth, breadth and artistry. Because the group had been working together for some months, there was reflection that it was now easier to feel comfortable bringing more of themselves to the table.

Instead of wasting time choosing words carefully to not inadvertently offend, or spending brain power holding back trying to put their non-conforming ideas into what they thought others in the group might view as more “acceptable-sounding” frameworks, creative ideas flowed, tears flowed, connections occurred and a new outcome appeared that would not have been possible with people holding back out of fear of judgement and being seen.

Luckily in coaching we can reveal and breakthrough these limiting beliefs, but its easy to imagine how feeling separate can shut us down, create a sense of victimhood or hopelessness, and stop us from contributing, participating, impacting, growing, expanding, even loving. 

And, it takes up A LOT of time and space to think this negative way about ourselves!

So! What can we do to make a shift into connectedness and belonging? Here’s some Guiding Questions that may help:

REFLECT

  • What situations do you feel Imposter Syndrome kicking in? Why do you feel less than, compared to others?
  • When do you find yourself self-editing?  Why? 
  • What do you believe about yourself and/or others that is informing your thoughts, feelings and actions?  How do you (really) know this is true?
  • How are these limiting beliefs and decisions holding you back?   
  • What situations are you avoiding? Or not pursuing? Why?
  • What would it look like if your limiting beliefs and assumptions were not true or relevant?  How would it feel?  What would it make possible?

MAKE A CHOICE 

  • “Just DO it!”  Starting today, assume that you DO belong, “even if” you’re not as _(fill in the blank)_ as others. Lean in and say “yes!”
  • Commit to being fully present, listening, observing, BE-ing you – with curiosity in seeing what occurs.   
  • Respect that whoever invited you, sees a reason for that decision.
  • Know that likely there are others in the room who may be battling their own feelings of lack.

SET AN INTENTION – FOR BEING 

  • You get to decide how to BE, and to value what that will make possible. Of course, be prepared, but don’t hide behind data or powerpoints, don’t set about to prove your worth, expertise, belonging.  Set an intention for BEing that helps you show up fully, and thus creates the possibility for helping others.  [for more on intention-setting in meetings, check out this BLOG]

OBSERVE & REFLECT

  • What were the tangible and non-tangible ways your presence elevated, supported, guided, helped? How do you know?
  • What was the hardest part for you? Why?

REPEAT 

Showing up fully, knowing we belong, is a practice. As you experience your true value, and start seeing your impact on others, clarity and confidence increases. You’ll have more time to think about important things! You’ll be doing things that will help you create the success you envision, rather than inadvertently avoiding the very things and people that will help make it possible.    

To your success,

Kathryn

Kathryn R Martin 
“Next Chapter” Coach
Creator of The Career (Life!) Breakthrough Academy
Leadership Transition Strategist & Professional Interim CEO 

****NEWS – 1. The February 2020 Leadership Cohort is being formed NOW.  2. If you or someone you know is ready to take a leap into a Next Chapter, JOIN me LIVE on  <<Thursday, January 30th at 6:00pm PST>>  for a FREE Online Training: Monetize Your Superpower!

Define Your Own Success

This is often a time of year for reflection, followed by goal-setting and resolutions. If your annual process works for you, great! However, if you find yourself disappointed, disillusioned or even depressed about what did not occur for you this past year, it’s a great time to try something new with my Six Questions to Clarity exercise.

These past three weeks I’ve been talking with leaders who are exploring the two coaching programs launching in January* – all are at a self-described “crossroad moments” and wanting to curate their dream scenarios in 2020.  They are from different industries, backgrounds, ages, positions, and income levels. 

Two themes have appeared. Frustrating, heart-wrenching
themes.

1.  Inadvertent Self-Sabotage

Believe it or not, what you may consider as realistic,
practical, best practices, or even facts, may not be relevant to you, and be the determining factor in preventing you from reaching your goals.  Similarly, what you consider to be the mark of success, may be getting in the way of you seeing the success you are having right now.

I had the honor of speaking with a visual artist and a musician last week.  The conversations were one day apart, and while these leader’s lives are completely different, each shared how they were happy, having impact on the lives of friends, family, community and organizations. During one of the conversations, a couple even walked by and said how much they had enjoyed their performance the night before!

The leaders each spoke of people seeing and acknowledging them for things that really mattered.  And then, the musician said, “But I know I should be performing in Carnegie Hall or Paris.  I guess I’m just never going to be successful.”  The artist said, “I gave up on having shows in galleries in New York.”   I was struck by the jarring “should-ing” they both were inadvertently doing! 

Early in our careers having ambition and being able to visualize our success was often a very important tool.  For some, that definition of success remains true, but for many, the definition of success needs to deepen as we grow into ourselves, connect with our impact (our purpose), and see how many “vehicles” we have available to have that impact.  In the case of these two leaders, they said they are happy!  They said they are living full lives of meaning and joy!  And yet… the voices in their heads are whispering “you’re not good enough.”  Can you imagine how exhilarating it will be, and what will be possible for them, when they see themselves as the successful, purposeful leaders they are? They will attract those who want to help them, and who they are meant to help.

2. Expert Advice Causing Harm

Limiting beliefs don’t always come from within they can be in plain sight as experts give us advice.  In the realm of executive search, every day leaders are told in order to reach their goals they “must first do x, y or z to be considered.  It’s just the way it is.”  These “gate-keepers” wield a lot of influence.  It’s one of the reasons I would get so frustrated when I was working in Search and everyone sounded the same, as they all followed expert advice. Recently I was on the phone with a senior level non-profit marketing professional who knows she wants to be an Executive Director. For three years, every recruiter has told her she’s “not ready” yet – she must “first” get a development director job, or start out as an Executive Director of a very small budget organization, or get more credentials, training, and certificates.  For the past three years, she’s followed all that advice, invested time and money in training, and was told recently it is still not “enough.”  Guess how she’s feeling right now?!

When looking at her materials and doing our Strategy Call, it was clear (to me) that the unique kind of deep impact, experience in supervision, budgeting, relationship marketing and partnerships and collaborations make her an excellent candidate for the right kind of ED or CEO role, and that her unique story of impact and trajectory needs to be conveyed differently to both the recruiters and search committees. If she continues to convey her value in the traditional ways, in terms of skills and experience “boxes” to be checked (or not checked), she will never be enough in the decision-maker’s eyes.

Instead, with a new approach she can take charge, tell her story, enroll and engage others in her trajectory, and find the leadership role where she can thrive, with joy and a salary in line with her true value, and make a difference in the lives of those around her!

As you think about what you accomplished in 2019 (and didn’t), and as you think about what you want to make possible in 2020, try my Six Questions to Clarity exercise:

  1. How have I defined success in the past?
  2. As I think about 2020, what does success mean to
    me… now?  Describe success in detail.  NOTE: Check and triple-check your answer: where is that definition coming from (parents? industry? Other “shoulds?” Are you smiling or frowning?)
  3. How will I feel when I achieve that
    success?  Why?
  4. What will my success make possible… for
    others
    ? (what is my impact?)
  5. How many of the responses in #3 and #4 are already
    happening NOW?
  6. Therefore, I am slightly revising my definition
    of success for 2020 to be…

100% of the extraordinary leaders I speak with have everything they need to be successful, within themselves.  You have everything you need.  However, there is often missing “foundational” information that needs to be unlocked, revealed, used as a compass, and communicated.

Begin today by taking some time to connect with what you are (really) looking for in 2020.  Only then can a plan be reverse-engineered to help you get there.

To your success, and wishing you a very Happy New Year!

Kathryn

Kathryn R Martin,
“Next Chapter” Coach
Leadership Transition Strategist & Professional Interim CEO

*P.S. – 2020 is fast approaching, and our Leadership Coaching Cohorts begin in January – with special pricing and bonuses. IF you are ready to take a leap into your Next Chapter, CLICK HERE and we’ll get on the phone to see if I can be of help.

Gratitude: for YOU

It’s the day after Thanksgiving and my heart is singing.  When we observe and express gratitude, extraordinary things are made possible.

I am grateful for YOU! 

Thank you for reading and sharing my emails and social media posts. Thank you for reaching out to me when you are struggling, and entrusting me with your feelings as you consider the first steps in making a change. Thank you for your vulnerability as we work through these shifts, and thank you for letting me know when my words have made a difference in your life. 

When I look back at my life prior to starting my coaching business, I remember gathering around the Thanksgiving Table with my family. We would take turns giving thanks for our blessings. It was the singular time of year I would take the time stop to reflect and express my gratitude – and it always felt wonderful.

Yesterday, we came together and again expressed our love and gratitude, and I realized that now I’ve curated a life where I do this Every. Single. Day

This past year I’ve watched in awe as the practice of noticing and focusing on what I am grateful for, has become one of the foundations of the multi-faceted abundance, momentum, ease, clarity, curiosity about what is unfolding, confidence and joy I am blessed to experience. 

These past nine months I was entrusted to lead the Tucson Symphony Orchestra forward as their Interim President & CEO.  I remember letting the Board President know “I only work with people I like and who want to join me in creating impact.” (!)  Just as I do with my individual coaching clients, I’ve found joy in helping them reveal their organization’s unique strengths and purpose, and support the professional staff and volunteers create new-found momentum by focusing on their impact. Not only has a lot been “accomplished” but I am now blessed to have created new life-long friendships. I will miss my team when the permanent CEO arrives!

I’ve also come to observe how the more we focus on what we’re grateful for, the more frequently extraordinary things happen and momentum builds. This one practice (noticing and expressing gratitude) literally creates the possibility for creating the lives we may have not even known was possible.

Last year, after receiving the IAOTP’s “Top Leadership Coach” award, new things began happening “out of the blue.” (This is a known phenomenon that many of my clients also report experiencing when we work together.) I was invited to join an international group of women launching a video conversation series on compassionate leadership,  I was invited to co-author a book with Oprah Winfrey, Melinda Gates and 47 other extraordinary women, I was contacted with the news I’ll be receiving the “Empowered Woman of the Year” award in Las Vegas next month, and last week I was invited to coach and facilitate a convening of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences’ Commission on the Arts. “Out of the blue” three extraordinary professionals reached out offering me their expertise and support in the exact areas I had been thinking about, but had not yet taken action on.  And,  have had a graduating class on the on-line self-paced “Career (Life!) Breakthrough Academy.

Every single day, I have deep, meaningful conversations with people around the globe. Friends, clients, members of the on-line self-paced “Career (Life!) Breakthrough Academy, leaders signing up for Strategy Calls – people just like you – all successful leaders who want to have impact and be of service.  People who are often feeling a pulling to a Next Chapter and have a curiosity about what may be possible. I am so grateful when amazing people have willingness to ask for help and their trust in me with their story. 

I teach, I learn, I support.  I laugh, I cry.  I love my life!

None of this would have been possible if I had not taken a step into possibility 4 years ago. 

Shifts don’t just happen, and trying to decide what to do next, or how to differentiate yourself can be quite frustrating or confusing.  I’ve developed a unique process to help you look inward, take stock, gather evidence of impact, and develop the elevated language needed to reveal and speak your uniqueness.

If you would like to take a concrete step that is likely to create new possibilities for you, I invite you to build upon the North American tradition of Thanksgiving, and every day between now and December 31stcomplete the following simple prompt:

·       Today, I am so grateful for (start with a list of at least 3 things):

Then, record and reflect on what you list.  What do you observe? What are you choosing to notice and capture? Over time, does your list shift? Over time, what do you observe is occurring in your life? And please let me know!

Thank you for all you do, thank you for who you BE.

To your success!

Kathryn
 

P.S. – You may also be interested in this BLOG:   “Gratitude is a Verb”


Kathryn R Martin,
“Next Chapter” Coach
Leadership Transition Strategist & Professional Interim CEO

Gratitude is a Verb

Gratitude is one of the most powerful leadership tools I know. Create a practice of noticing and expressing gratitude – no matter what your situation – and you create the possibility for big impact and joy.

This week has been full of strong messages to me about gratitude – wonderful reminders and affirmation of the life I’m curating as I help leaders who are facing a crossroad moment curate their dream careers and lives.

I’m writing this on my way back home on the train with my sister, after spending a few days with mom in San Diego.  My heart is full as I continue to set an intention to be as supportive a sister as my sister is for me. Showing my gratitude through my actions. That intention continues to organically build upon itself in wonderful ways.

Yesterday, I felt joy as two strangers gave my mom a gift by choosing to change their plans; inviting us in to the two homes where my mom grew up!  They each sensed the importance of the moment and stopped what they were doing.  They’ve inspired me to look for ways to help others – even when not “convenient” or planned.

But showing gratitude isn’t only for the “good” parts.  Character is grown in all of life’s moments, and how we choose to re-act.  Choosing gratitude can feel like a leap of faith, or a courageous act.

When our son was in hospital battling brain lymphoma I was shocked, scared (and a wide range of other emotions), and every day I created a list of all the things I was grateful for. I remember how hard that exercise was that first morning in the cancer ward. But by the end of the 3rd day, my list was long as I became more and more aware.  That daily practice has served me well.

In relationships, I’ve learned that our brains cannot hold two opposing thoughts/feelings at the same time. i.e. we get to choose whether we think and feel “You really annoy me” vs “I’m grateful for how you x or y.”  Being willing to choose gratitude will in some cases require us to let go of many things, like fear, anger, resentment, and other limiting beliefs. There may be feelings of vulnerability.  It’s okay. The payoff is significant.

Creating Your Personal Gratitude Process

STEP 1:  Giving Thanks

During the Thanksgiving Holiday in North America, many of us will be expressing our thanks. Instead of waiting until you’re sitting at the table, I invite you to begin now by asking: what am I thankful for today?  And why?

STEP 2: Showing/Embodying Gratitude
What are the actions you will take to show your gratitude today?  Why?

  • “Thankfulness is the beginning of gratitude. Gratitude is the completion of thankfulness. Thankfulness may consist merely of words. Gratitude is shown in acts.” – Henri Frederic Amiel

STEP 3: Observing and Building Momentum                      Notice and Observe what happens to others when you show your gratitude. How does the other person feel and how do you know? 

What happens to you when you show your gratitude?  How do you feel?  Why? 

  • “When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around.” – Willie Nelson
  • “If you concentrate on finding whatever is good in every situation, you will discover that your life will suddenly be filled with gratitude, a feeling that nurtures the soul.” — Rabbi Harold Kushner

More Gratitude Wisdom

  • “Gratitude turns what we have into enough.” – Anonymous
  • “Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” – Melody Beattie
  • “Gratitude will shift you to a higher frequency, and you will attract much better things.” – Rhonda Byrne“
  • “Being thankful is not always experienced as a natural state of existence, we must work at it, akin to a type of strength training for the heart.” – Larissa Gomez
  • “Today I choose to live with gratitude for the love that fills my heart, the peace that rests within my spirit, and the voice of hope that says all things are possible.” –  Anonymous
  • “We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.” – Thornton Wilder
  • “Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” – Oprah Winfrey
  • “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” – John F. Kennedy
  • “I looked around and thought about my life. I felt grateful. I noticed every detail. That is the key to time travel. You can only move if you are actually in the moment. You have to be where you are to get where you need to go.” – Amy Poehler
  • “Gratitude for the present moment and the fullness of life now is the true prosperity.” – Eckhart Tolle
  • “Gratitude is the sign of noble souls.” – Aesop
  • “Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” – William Arthur Ward 

I invite you to set an intention to join me in both observing and expressing gratitude this month.  As always, let me know when you see shifts occur!

To your success – filled with gratitude, awareness and intention.

Kathry

Making Time For You, Helps Others

When we think of time to refuel as “self care” we often put it at the bottom of our list (sad, but so often true).  Instead, if we reframe vacation or time away from work as a means to ensure we have the capacity to ultimately help others – putting the proverbial oxygen mask on ourselves first – our motivation and way we prioritize can shift.

Continue reading

Now is the perfect time.

It’s almost September?! Summer in the northern hemisphere is winding down, and anticipation of the nine months ahead is building: Opening Nights in arts organizations are being planned, new jobs are starting, new initiatives are getting ready to launch.

Before you leap into the next nine months, these next two weeks offer a perfect opportunity to reflect, take stock and envision how YOU want your upcoming year to look like.

I find myself thinking about this in my own life, and in fact have now made the end of August a part of my intention-setting practice as I envision the months to come. Interestingly, this is also a time of year when there is a wonderful surge in leaders reaching out to me for coaching around common themes of transition and being in a crossroads moment.

Do any of the following resonate with questions you may be asking yourself?

How do I shift my leadership style? I have a client who had spent the past three years successfully leading a turnaround as CEO. She had exceeded her goals, was acknowledged and honored by all, but she knew that the way in which she achieved organizational success was not sustainable – for her. She wanted to continue to have big impact, but not at the expense of personal relationships, health, sanity, sleep, etc.. Leaving the organization she loved was definitely on the table. After taking time to reflect, she created a new framework for being a successful leader. She identified the “causes and conditions” she needed in both her personal and professional life to have the most impact and thus the most joy. She stayed, and is providing the strong leadership her organization and community need.

How do I position myself and prioritize my time in the first 90-days of a new job? A couple of months ago I was coaching two very different leaders, both about to begin a new job – one was a first-time Executive Director and one was a veteran Executive Director. In both cases, for them to have the organizational impact they were seeking, they needed a way to quickly (like, by week one!) and effectively engage and empower their board and staff. Instead of jumping into a To Do list, they invested in looking inward first to create clarity in their authentic voice and purpose. The resulting actions, internal and external communications, prioritization, and plans flowed effortless from this foundational knowledge – ultimately helping their teams move forward on the same page.

I’ve had it. How can I find a better job, without all this disfunction so I can be more effective, be valued, be happy, have more balance, be paid better, etc., etc.? By the time many leaders reach out to me, they’re often ready to resign. They’re done. I get it. I’ve been there! I’ve learned that when you’re at that point, it’s a great opportunity to think about how you will be different in a new job. And then, make that shift now. “Even if…” you believe there are external forces outside of your control (a challenging board, boss, etc.) that are making it impossible for you to be your best. The results can be powerful when you shift your limiting beliefs and leadership strategies.

I was working with a Development Director who came to realize that in every job he held, he reached a point where he believed people were holding him back, and thus he resigned and moved to the next job. That pattern kept repeating itself. He was successful but was tired of moving. Through a process, he identified ways he was contributing to this dynamic, learned two new strategies and “magically” people around him began to react differently. He felt valued, empowered, and with a voice at the table. In his case, he still ended up leaving, but it was no longer out of frustration – it was so that he could have greater impact.

How do I get my current organization to see me as a viable candidate for an elevated role? Repositioning yourself within your organization can be one of the most challenging (and most rewarding) opportunities. A couple years back, I was coaching an extraordinary artistic director through a search process, with the intention for him to move from an assistant role into the top leadership position. We used a process both to develop and then communicate his “elevated” impact messaging, and then created strategies to overcome the Search Committee’s assumptions that they already knew everything about him. He got the job.

• How do I know when it’s time to make a change? Your situation is not terrible, you may even believe that it’s “just how it is” in the field you’re in. You may have limiting beliefs substantiated by industry best practices and traditions. I have a lot to say about this subject, and if this question is resonating with you, I invite you to scroll through some of my past Blog Posts. 

The bottom line: trust how you feel. If you don’t have a spring in your step, if you keep feeling a pulling… take some time to imagine what it would be like to feel your “peak moment” feeling, every day. Dig in to why you may not be feeling that right now. Dig in to what’s holding you back. I am proud and honored to now have over 200 leaders who were in this place, and who are now in their dream career/life after taking a big breath and taking a leap into themselves. We need you BEing your best. People are counting on you!

• How do I find/get offered the job I want? Well, that’s a longer discussion! I’ll share something that I know for sure (and this is where I start waving my arms around): if you don’t yet have foundational “intel” and clarity on yourself (your true value, your impact, what brings you joy, and the unique causes and conditions you need to consistently BE that) – it’s all a crap shoot! If you DO have clarity, but don’t have the elevated impact language to effectively communicate it to others – the outcomes can be confusing and frustrating. I’ve seen candidates that were PERFECT for a role, not get the offer and then carry that rejection forward. I’ve seen Search candidates get the job they want and six months later, not be happy.

Have you been asking yourself questions like these?

As a rule, my initial answers to these questions often begin with: “It depends. What do you (really) want, and why? What is the impact you are meant to have (no matter what your role)? And, therefore what do you need to create the possibility for achieving that?”

If we don’t go deep and identify what’s at your core, you might as well just “google” these “How do I…” questions.

Go on, try it! You’ll get lots of great information about how to define your leadership style, how to write a great cover letter, learn about interview strategies, time management tools, self-help ways to bolster your confidence, and more.

And, if you are at a crossroads moment, NONE of those will create the breakthrough awareness and results that you are (really) seeking.

None.

Now, this is usually the part of the article where I offer something like “3 Steps to Getting What You Want.” In fact, I do have some past Blogs that offer specific Guiding Questions to help you begin. And of course, my Career (Life!) Breakthrough Academy guides leaders through this entire process.

But today, my invitation is to simply carve out the time to think about yourself.

Take some time before September is upon us to reflect on the remaining months of 2019, your life, your career. Take stock of what is bringing you joy, and how you are making a difference in the lives of others in those moments. You are. See what percolates up, and where those thoughts take you.

Join me in putting your feet up – by a lake, river, beach, on a couch or desk – and envision how YOU will create the impact you are meant to have, and the dream career/life you (really) want!

To your success,

Kathryn

P.S. – did you see my goofy video on FB and LinkedIn as I opened the boxes with my book with Oprah, Melinda Gates and 47 other women leaders?! I’m so honored to be a part of this inspirational project – and am excited to be signing and personalizing copies for the first 40 people that CLICK HERE and place an order.