Originally Published on February 4, 2019 on LinkedIn
As I shifted towards the window of seat 8F, the tears welled in my eyes and I prayed that the cabins lights would dim quickly.
I’m a failure. I have to get off this account. They don’t want to accept anything I suggest and I don’t know what else to do. I just want to be home with my dog. What if I’m not cut out for this work? I should change jobs. Maybe I’ll go into real estate.
And like that, I was online 35,000 feet in the air, I was researching how to get my real estate license in an attempt to escape my misery. I told no one.
If I tell my boss, he’ll think he made a mistake hiring me, demote me, fire me! He’ll say I should already know how to handle this. Everyone else is so great at this stuff. I’ll look like a fool if I tell them what’s going on.
I pray that no one else has gone through this but I’m sure I’m not alone. But, I felt like I WAS alone and I was afraid and ashamed to admit I needed help. The shame was so powerful that I began to retreat to my couch every day I wasn’t working; the curtains drawn 24×7. If it weren’t for my dog, Nakoa, I wouldn’t have gone outside for days at a time.
People talk about “imposter syndrome” but this wasn’t it. I wasn’t trying to be something I wasn’t. I was giving it all I could every day with this customer for over a year and after the first few months, it stopped being “an opportunity” or a “gift” and all of those bullshit words we exchange for what we really want to say. I kept telling myself that if I were this person or that person, I would be able to turn this around. But, if I asked them for help, I believed they would think less of me. So every week on my flight home to Denver, I checked in as early as my status allowed to get the window seat so I could cry into the window on the long flight home.
It took several months, but I eventually moved to another account. I can thank four very important people that year for unknowingly pulling me through the next two years. Believe it or not, one of them was a sales guy. I know, right?! But it’s true. I was paired up with Bret Mullins and over the first few months, we presented an approach to transforming their business and won over a team of executives. He was exactly what I needed during that time; supportive, humble, caring and collaborative. As he moved on to other accounts, we stayed in touch and I told him how much it meant to me that he graciously offered his time and attention during a very difficult time for me.
This next account was also a blessing because our main contact was a charismatic and tenacious guy that brought humor, candor and professionalism together seamlessly. Mike Alexander, was my dream customer. He listened, took action, asked questions and pushed back in just the right way. Our small transformation team met for lunch, grabbed dinner together after a hard day and caught up via text sometimes just to joke about who was still sticking to the KETO challenge. There was a mutual trust that we’d be able to work independently on things and when we’d need to check in with each other. I learned how to be myself more often even when I felt I was channeling Jean Tabaka, Ronica Roth or Chris Browne in a moment where I needed inspiration. This account showed me what other accounts could be; an extended family.
The next person to make a huge impact on my confidence was a fellow transformational coach, Tamara Nation. We worked together to build a portfolio planning session and creatively morphed a dry two day presentation into an interactive and highly engaging session that brought out the best in us and the attendees. It was a reminder that I could do this work. I was good at it and people appreciated my style and having a partner like Tamara made it so much more fun and rewarding. Even with just a few weeks of her time, she helped me to feel a bit more human again.
Tamara led me to the fourth person. As our work on the portfolio class came to an end, she highly recommended that I take the Extreme Leadership class and introduced me to Steve Farber in 2017. After a short phone call with him, I signed up to take the class and get certified to teach it. The course, and more importantly, the attendees made that week in San Diego a pivotal moment in my life and my career. We talked about how important it is to feel connected and to be vulnerable. Not just at home with your friends and family but at WORK! I made a decision that I needed to adopt these new beliefs and developed a plan to start showing my team how much they were loved, supported and appreciated.
In those short few days, I finally acknowledged publicly that “I need this as much as other people need it.” And the “it”…