If that title makes you feel uncomfortable, it should!
We all hide. We procrastinate. We avoid. We duck.
And, life goes on.
But hiding is likely impacting you personally and professionally in ways that are holding you back from achieving your goals.
One of my clients is avoiding the fact that her parents are getting older–she literally ran out of the room when her father tried to talk with her about the plans they’re putting in place for the future. She’s in her mid-40’s.
Another client is hiding from speaking up in meetings. He’s comfortable one-on-one but in large groups he becomes anxious. He also hides behind email, preferring it as a method of communication over speaking with colleagues directly.
Another client hides behind her spouse when it comes to money. She’s not comfortable making decisions about money, even though at work she’s a professional and a leader. Avoiding money has become an Achilles heel for her at work as well–by avoiding jobs that require budget responsibility she’s dimmed her career opportunities.
A stimulating, time-consuming job can enable you to hide from taking care of yourself–exercising regularly, eating well and sleeping enough.
Other common things we hide from are giving presentations; having a difficult conversation with your boss to request a raise or promotion; growing your business; making a job transition; or winding down your business or career.
If we’re hiding, it’s because whatever we’re hiding from feels difficult, daunting, frightening or simply impossible. It can feel like there’s a mountain to climb, and we can’t see what’s beyond it.
So, how would it be to stretch, pull yourself out of your comfort zone and reframe your fear as a challenge for 2017?
We offer 3 approaches:
Connecting to our fears and anxieties is one approach. If you let yourself move towards the fear, what’s there? Where does the Saboteur, (or inner critic), energy come from? How long have you been holding onto this way of thinking, and what’s the impact on your life? What would open up for you if you could stop hiding?
Another approach is to be bold and look for opportunities to say “yes” where previously you said, “No way!”. Build new skills, practice, don’t dwell on your failures, and then take baby steps or even a big leap. Put yourself forward to speak up in meetings, give a presentation, ask for a promotion or look for a new job or start a business. You can build confidence and competence as you go.
This approach comes from my colleague Diane Garga. She says: “Imagine you’re already there!” Think about a ‘brilliant’ moment that you’ve experienced where you were visible and not hiding, where everything was going well, you were happy and being your best self. Ask yourself: “Where was your focus? What did you let go of in order to be present? What did you notice about how you were showing up?”Knowing what your qualities are that make you shine can help unlock yourself. And, being fully present lessens your fear about extraneous things.
So, what’s one step you can take from here? What’s possible in your life and in your career?
Today I completed a three session clarity package with a client looking to make changes to her career and life heading into 2017.
The client had quit her career in public policy work nine years ago, early in her career, to take on the family business. It was a decision she felt pressured into making. Recently, she’s been missing the intellectual challenges and the sense of ‘making a difference’ that accompanied her work in human rights. To prepare for an upcoming shift she delegated a number of day-to-day tasks to a management company. But, she’s not looking to leave the family business fully yet, as it will provide her with a good income while she navigates what comes next.
In our initial consultation we did an exercise to provide more context for her desired changes. What surfaced is that her health is a concern and needs to be factored into to her thinking. It’s always useful to get the bigger picture going into any coaching engagement. Sometimes a client may want to make a change in one area but other parts of their life may not be lined up to support them.
In our first full session we uncovered her values. Advocacy, community, learning, connecting, making a difference, and her recent marriage were all important. It turned out that several of her values were being honored in her current work but some scored low in the assessment. Through discovery and scoring we got an honest snapshot of her current situation.
Some of the proposed actions that came out of this session turned out to be premature. At the start of our second session the client indicated that she needed to do more self discovery and research about potential opportunities before moving into action. In short, she needed to slow things down. Her timeframe shifted from being a few months to at least six months, and she now realized that there would be fewer hours in the week to give to a different type of work (5-10 hours rather than 20 hours). Often, our Saboteurs — or inner critic voices — awaken when we’re looking to make changes in our lives, and they can put lead boots on us that slow down progress. However, with this client I sensed a re-frame, that rather than a big shift in her career she was looking to pursue her passions more incrementally.
So, next we shifted to her role and purpose. She came up with the phrase ‘change agent’ in one of the visualizations, and that resonated with her both professionally and personally.
Our final session started with some positive updates. After connecting with friends and relatives she had signed up for an orientation class around learning a new technical skill, specifically a computer programming language. She’d also connected with an online nonprofit matching service where she could offer her professional services for a few hours at a time. These were two ways she could honor her values more fully. She saw potential obstacles around prioritizing her new goals versus family, but she also felt a high level of commitment to fulfilling them.
The focus of the third session was to create a vision for 2017. I asked my client to provide a headline for the year ahead: “Restructuring and reinvention – in that order!” she replied. By putting structures and systems in place within her existing business she would be creating more freedom and space for reinvention. And, by digging into personal finances, estate planning and home improvements she would be honoring her relationship with her new spouse.
Ultimately, she completed the Clarity Package with specific goals for 2017:
“I am clear that I want to get my house in order in 2017. I’m clear that I want to learn something in technology. I’m clear that I want to give back, and that I want to learn more about myself.”
The next step is to follow up with some assessment tools to help her with discovery around her personal strengths and blind spots.
Recently we arrived at the office of a client to prepare her for an upcoming speech at a national sales convention. She is a regular client who has worked with us on many presentations over the last three years. We’ve developed a very good working relationship, and we were confident about how the session would go — we’d go through the deck, tweak the language and slides, then polish her presentation. This is the usual flow for our voice and presentation coaching.
But when we arrived our client was in an emotional turmoil because she found out that she may have been passed over for a promotion to VP. What we thought would be a good rehearsal turned out to be both an emotional roller coaster to navigate and a strategy session for making her case. First step, allowing her to vent and get her emotions out of the way. Then, we used a set of visual imagination techniques to get her clear on what she really wanted amidst the tight deadlines and the emotional stress.
From there, we engaged in a strategy session to help her prepare for her meeting that hour (!) with the human resources representative to discuss her job status We wanted her to understand that the HR person, while friendly with her, was not her confidante or best advocate. That meant: listen, stay calm, and let it be known that you are the best candidate for the VP position.
We left her that day knowing that she felt less hurt and more confident, which gave her courage and fortitude to face this difficult interaction. We had no idea what the outcome would be but we knew we’d coached her through her moment of crisis to a place where she was able to own her accomplishments and ask confidently for the promotion she’d worked long and hard to achieve.
The next week we heard from our client that she’d met with the CEO and team and, as she expressed it, “got her stripes.” She thanked us for our real-time “multifaceted assistance” towards getting her VP promotion. As coaches we have to be ready for anything, but it’s key to build a strong foundation with clients so that when the unexpected occurs we have the tools and rapport to have an impact no matter what circumstances we walk into.
Voice & Presentation Coach Marilyn Pittman and Executive Producer Marianne Wilman were the coaches at this session
Recently we spent two days training members of a high-profile online fashion media team. The mission was to polish the skills of a group of 11 team members responsible for producing most of the content. The two-day training included on-camera work and red carpet interviewing, voice-over tracking for video packages, and representing the brand in media appearances.
We started with voice work. Many in the group, especially the younger women, needed better chops —breathing, projection, diction, emphasis, rhythm. We directed the team through copy, identifying individual weaknesses and fixing them. One person needed help with breathing and diction, another with pacing, another with what words to emphasize. Working in the same room allowed everybody to learn from each other.
The group was mixed in experience. Those with little experience tended to be tight, so we used an exercise that required them to read the copy as if they were drunk. The exercise is designed to help them stop trying to perform perfectly and loosen up, be playful. You can’t find the right value for the words unless you explore. It’s an acting technique that really works for voice-over because the take right after the silly drunk one is usually so much more authentic and conversational.
We also used an opposite exercise of softly whispering for someone who needed to not project. This enabled her to soften the volume and add more breath so the voice quality became warmer, lower, more intimate, and less nasal.
Next we explored on-camera interviewing. Many of the editors regularly host interviews with well known fashion designers and experts. In reviewing the video content there was a tendency to speak quickly, to swallow words, to giggle or show inexperience through their body language. We focused here on nerves, prep, facial expression and voice projection. You’re on camera so you need to learn facial expressions, such as getting a feel for how much is too much and whether your eyebrows are out of control? As we trained the team on interviewing techniques they became more relaxed and confident, more at ease with their guest and more focused on asking short, open-ended questions.
There are specific challenges to talking to stars on the red carpet on camera. The environment is loud but you can’t just yell. How do you relax before it all begins? Prep is essential to pulling off a live event with confidence — know your subjects and have scripted short questions that elicit good responses.
We also discovered hidden talents and creativity in several people. One gal really shined when she talked about the company. Another stood out as having a gift as a trend spotter and an ability to communicate her process. We were able to address all levels at once, polishing up the pros, while giving the junior people the skill sets they need to move forward.
Plus we had a blast. We jammed creatively, worked hard on the techniques and identified all kinds of strengths and weaknesses. And, we left them with recordings of their training that will serve them well as their careers progress.
Voice & presentation coach Marilyn Pittman & executive producer Marianne Wilman were the Business Presence coaches at this training.