Purpose

3 "FINDING MY PURPOSE" TRAPS

You’ve decided it’s time to rethink your PURPOSE! Bravo to you for having the courage to give yourself permission & space to reflect on this. That is OUTSTANDING! ….but your head hurts just THINKING about how to tackle this mission. 

After having coached dozens of women through this process I want you to know you’re not alone in feeling that way–you’re simply HUMAN (and that’s beautiful)! Here’s the 3 most common traps that often come up for my clients searching for their next purpose and a tip on how to avoid them–

TRAP 1: ASSUMING PURPOSE IS THIS BIG, GRANDIOSE THING.

Can I tell you a massive secret? I think we all have the same purpose deep down. In the book Repacking Your Bags the authors lay out a basic framework for purpose/success that goes something like this—

  • Being in a place you love
  • With people you love
  • Doing what you love
  • ….on purpose

It’s just that there’s so many options to define it! Right?! 

  • What happens when you break down your purpose in those buckets? What becomes possible?

Perhaps a small shift in one bucket might make a big shift in the overall quality of your whole life right now.

TRAP 2: THINKING THE ONLY WAY YOU CAN FIND PURPOSE IS IN WHAT YOU DO IN THE WORLD.

For years I defined purpose very narrowly as what I DID in the world. Yet there’s an immense amount of purpose to be found in how you choose to BE in the world. In Gregg Levoy’s book Callings he notes that it can be powerful to open up our minds and hearts to finding purpose in how we choose to be as well!

  • What are some ways of BEING you can choose today that create purpose in your life?

These can be instituted right now in this very moment! No massive career or lifestyle change necessary. Try playing with how you choose to BE first. What you DO may take a bit longer to shift (and that’s totally normal!). 

 TRAP 3: ASSUMING WE ONLY GET ONE SHOT, MAYBE TWO TOPS.

That’s a lot of pressure to put on this choice when reality shows us we often have multiple chances for multiple callings in our life. Let yourself right off that hook! Instead think of this time as simply looking to outline the next chapter or book in the whole anthology of your beautiful life.

  • What book or chapter might you enjoy reading next in your life’s anthology?

Give yourself permission to experiment and change your mind as you learn new things about yourself along the way. This process takes time to unfold–above all else be gentle with yourself, Dear One. 

Hope these traps & tips help you as you define your next chapter! If you’d like even more support to dig into this meaty topic I invite you to join me for a 1-on-1 Values & Vision Session where I support you with powerful questions & tools to get clear on what you want for the next book in your life’s beautiful anthology. Or if you’re eager to get support not only on the visioning but the ACTING part too check out my private coaching engagements

Either way, enjoy the process (it’s 95% of the journey afterall) and drop me a line letting me know how I can support you in it!
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5 Signs You Need Better Boundaries

5 SIGNS YOU NEED BETTER BOUNDARIES

Boundaries. These B-word buggers have the ability to make or break your life. And no, I’m not kidding. I spent 10 years looking at charts & graphs as I built a corporate career but completely ignored the “chart” of my self-esteem until the day I noticed an interesting correlation. Every time I let my boundaries slide away from my values & vision my self-esteem went right down with it.

You deserve better than repeating my mistake. So let’s get proactive and talk about 5 indicators you may need better boundaries in your life:

1. WHINING. 

You often find yourself whining about your boss, coworker, that neighbor next door. This is a DEAD GIVEAWAY it’s time for you to assert yourself and work to establish some clearer lines communicating your wants & needs to others.

2. WISHING YOU HAD MORE TIME. 

We all have the same amount. If you’re wishing for more it’s a sign you’re spending time on stuff you just plain don’t want to be. Let’s fix that! 

3. FREQUENTLY APOLOGIZING.

“I’m so sorry I’m running late! I’m sorry I missed that deadline!” This was the story of my life before my wake up call. The line was drawn and I’d violate it again and again. When I set boundaries in line with the woman I wanted to be I no longer had to hand out apologies like they were free candy.

4. PLAYING THE VICTIM CARD.

Do you come home and vent to your friends or your partners about how your peer, a friend or maybe even a boss took advantage of your time, skills, money, or energy that day? Again, YOU can change that in the future with healthy boundaries.

5. OVERWHELMING & PERSISTENT NEGATIVITY. 

You’re upset, angry, and just plain miserable way more than normal. Consider the possibility that you may be violating YOUR OWN boundaries. The boundaries we set for ourselves are arguably much more important than those we place on others. It’s counterintuitive initially, right? But honey, when you start honoring yourself and your own limits beautiful things happen.

Does this sound like you or someone you may know? Here’s the good news…

It’s possible to change these things by redrawing the lines! If you need help on how check out what a coaching relationship with me might look like. Then let’s talk in a free discovery session and see if we’re a good fit! 

When you stop making compromises on what matters most to you everything else starts to change. I can speak from personal experience here in addition to witnessing dozens of clients do the same. If you’re ready to take radical self-responsibility for your life and your choices I’m ready to coach you in clarifying your next chapter, establishing healthy boundaries, boosting your self-esteem and getting you to the places you actually want to go!

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An Open Letter to My Foster Daughter

AN OPEN LETTER TO MY FOSTER DAUGHTER
I couldn’t sleep this morning. I started thinking about what I see women battle (myself included) and what I want most for our Big Girl T. So I wrote a letter to her. At first I thought was meant just for her. But when I finished I realized these are my true, genuine wishes for EVERY woman. You see foster care has busted my heart open in a way I didn’t think possible—in a way that makes me look at strangers and see them as my foster sisters, daughters, mothers. So these wishes are for all women–for her, for you, for me.
Dear Big Girl T, 
 
I get frustrated that we still don’t know your future after almost a year of loving you. 
 
Loving you has been the greatest gift and best teacher in my 31 years. It’s encouraged me to get a grip on worry, to let go of the future and focus on all we have—the present.
 
But I’m still human and sometimes I wake up at 3AM as I did today thinking “I just want to KNOW how this story ends. Will I get to know you forever? Or just for right now?”
 
Instead of sitting in that impatient and anxiety-ridden moment, I thought I’d get up and write my deepest wishes for you—
 
I wish for you to know SELF-ESTEEM.
May you know the power that resides in every part of your body from your tiniest toe to your highest hair coil. May you know the power of finishing the statement—“I am a woman who…”—with whatever you want to do or be every minute, morning, month and millennium. You are a woman who can do anything! And I hope you grow up to know this deep within every fiber of your being. May you also know the inner wise woman that resides within you. Deter yourself from gazing too often into the eyes of others for answers or validation, Dear One. Check in with your soul instead. She knows the way. You are safe to trust her…safe to trust yourself.
 

I wish for you to know HEALTHY BOUNDARIES.
May you to know how to say NO so you can say YES to the people, places, and experiences that matter most to you. Whenever you feel short on joy or time I hope the first thing you think to do is check in with your values and refresh your boundaries accordingly. Whenever you feel devalued or degraded, less than or shoved aside—redraw the lines. YOU have the power and voice to decide what you will accept and what crosses a line.You can have boundaries and still have compassion for individuals on the other side of them.The two are not mutually exclusive. 

I wish for you to know PURPOSE.
May you know a clear sense of what you were placed on this Earth to contribute. And may you be gentle with yourself should you find this purpose changing shape over time. You will find purpose is born out of a clear understanding of yourself, your gifts, your passions, and your values. Knowing these will aid you immensely. You’ll find it easier to assert yourself, establish those boundaries, and find a way forward when life gently shows you it is time for change or more harshly forces change upon you.
 
I wish for you to know GOOD LOVE. 
May you know the good love of a tremendous life partner (like your Daddy is to me), of friends, and of family regardless of the shape, size, color or duration of those packages. And most especially, may you know the good love found in loving yourself. May you treat loving others and loving yourself as equally important. May you know how to GIVE love freely. May you know how to RECEIVE love easily. May you never be afraid to ask for help or provide help to others. May you know the strong footings of a deep & rich support system capable of reminding you who you are and all you are capable of in moments you are tempted to forget.
 
Lastly, may you know that I love you. Wherever you are in your journey. Wherever you are in the world. I know you. I love you.
 

Forever and Always,

Mommy Shannon

Feedback: How to Give, Receive and Increase Quality Critiques

FEEDBACK: GIVE, RECEIVE & GET MORE QUALITY CRITIQUES!

Warning: there are lots of F words in this post. No, not that F word. The other one–FEEDBACK! 

According to my recent survey with over 100 respondents, feedback is the #1 thing employees want more of. Feedback is also the #1 thing managers want the most help on how to deliver. With that in mind, here’s a few lessons I’ve learned about delivering, receiving and increasing the amount of quality feedback I got or gave after 10 years in Corporate America.

PART 1: GIVING FEEDBACK

1. Seriously question if the feedback is worth delivering at all. Two tests to confirm it’s worthy of a conversation—

  • Style/Bias vs. Substance. Is this a style preference? Is this unconscious bias? Or is this a matter of true substantiative feedback?
  • The Actual Work. Is this really impeding my (team’s) ability to move the actual work forward? If yes, then proceed in having a conversation.

2. Timing. We all know this. But it’s worth repeating–give feedback as soon as possible after the incident occurs. Don’t wait. I have had dozens of employees and not a single one has ever said “can you wait a while before you give me feedback?” If you lead a team, consider making a copy of my work style survey to ask your employees about their preferences on this topic and others!

3. No Feedback Sandwiches. Above all else—resist the temptation to sandwich feedback. DO. NOT. Sandwich. I repeat: do not serve  feedback sandwiches at your leadership table unless you want to confuse someone quickly.

4. Approaches Matter. Good news on this! You have at least two methods you can try to address a situation requiring feedback—the coaching approach or the managing approach–

  • Coaching Approach. This is my personal favorite to start with because it may result in you not actually having to deliver even an ounce of feedback! In this approach you ask questions first. Immediately after the “offense” ask questions like—
    • How did you think that went?
    • What would you do differently next time? 
    • What do you need from me?

If after this initial coaching conversation you observe their self-awareness is not yet in tune you can then move on to the second method…

  • Managing Approach. Consider leveraging the DESC Model below to outline main points.
    • DESCRIBE. Focus on the facts of what you saw.
    • EXPRESS. This isn’t about how you or anyone else feels, but rather the outputs you observe. What went wrong? How did or does it impact the business? We don’t want to rake the employee over hot coals here. We do want to be clear on facts and impacts.
    • SPECIFY. What exactly would you like them to do differently next time? What does good look like?
    • CONSEQUENCES. What can they expect to happen if a change is not made? Alternatively, what can they expect to happen if change IS made? If they do the specific things you’re asking them to do what are the positive consequences that may result for them, the business, etc. 

5. Commit to a Zero Tolerance Policy on “Feedback Triangles.” A feedback triangle is when you tell a 3rd party the feedback instead of telling the person directly. Go directly to the individual or decide it’s not worth saying at all. Those are the only options. Indirect feedback is slimy, tactless, and in poor taste. I can say this because I’ve made this mistake before and I felt slimy, tactless, and totally in poor taste giving and receiving triangulated feedback.

  • What about company sanctioned 360-degree anonymous feedback surveys? Aren’t those feedback triangles?
    • In short, yes! They are! But they don’t have to be. After watching too many of my own employees get devastated by their own 360’s I made the personal decision to copy & paste my responses and send them directly to the person as soon as I submit it. That way they have an opportunity to ask questions, get clarity and make more meaningful change based on what you share.
    • If you’re in a position where you feel you can’t give this feedback to a peer directly, try consulting your manager for help on how to deliver it but do not ask them to deliver it for you (that’s a feedback triangle). Or leverage the tips above!
    • If you are in a position where you feel you can’t give this feedback to your manager directly, consult HR for help on how to deliver it but do not ask them to deliver it for you (that’s a feedback triangle). Or leverage the tips above!
 PART 2: HOW TO GET MORE QUALITY FEEDBACK

Maybe your manager still just isn’t giving you the amount of feedback you want as often as you want. After all, 100% of you in my survey said you wanted more feedback more often! Here’s a couple questions I’d lovingly encourage you to reflect on if you were my client or employee–

1. Who do you want feedback from? Why them? Now you might be thinking–Is this coach lady crazy?! From my manager! DUH! And because THEY’RE MY BOSS! Obviously. Well here’s the thing–after becoming an entrepreneur it became painfully clear how much I relied on someone else to tell me “Great job! Here’s what could be better.” There is no one to do that for you when you own your own business. Research tells me 65% of you reading this want to be an entrepreneur some day. Work to own your own brand & business now! A very healthy skill set to develop NOW is self-assessment to build self-awareness. If you’re like I was and find yourself searching for feedback every week or even monthly consider the possibility that you may be able to provide some of it to yourself. Here’s how:

  • Keep a career journal and practice self-assessment at a cadence you wish your boss would give you feedback (weekly, monthly, etc.). What did you do well? What have you learned? What do you want to do better next time? What support do you need to get there? 
  • Initiate a feedback conversation with your leader after your own self-assessment to help you check for accuracy. They’ll love you for it. I promise.

2. What do you want feedback on? What might your very own self-measuring stick look like? Help you help you. Help your manager help you and build out that measuring stick! What skills are you working to excel at right now? How are YOU defining what good looks like? How about your manager’s definition of good? Get on the same page about what YOU want to be measuring and HOW. I guarantee you’ll get more feedback because they’ll find it much easier knowing what you’re motivated to improve.

3. Proceed with Caution. Don’t ask for feedback if you’re not prepared to hear both positive and critical inputs. When I was a first time manager I asked for feedback every week from my direct reports. That was obviously way. too. much. I wasn’t resilient enough as a leader to take in feedback that frequently. I was more like a baby horse struggling to find my footing easily knocked over by a little whisper of wind. That level of external and internal feedback was not productive to my growth process. I didn’t realize it was ok to NOT ask for that much feedback until I observed my leaders levels above me. They rarely asked “so how did I do?” at the end of a meeting. Maybe once a quarter (if that) they’d ask me what they could be doing better.  You’re going to screw up AND you’re going to crush it. Potentially all in the same week depending on who you ask. See above and get great at self-assessing vs. needing others to uncover or validate your strengths & errors.

 

Ok…so now you’ve given some feedback expertly. You’ve found ways to get more feedback. And then the bomb drops. Uh Oh! You receive criticism that is ideally constructive (but perhaps not) and really tough to hear…

PART 3: RECEIVING FEEDBACK WITH GRACE

1. Try to stay open & get curious. Ask at least 1 – 3 clarifying questions before allowing yourself to share a reaction/thought/opinion. Make feedback a basketball game—pass the ball 3 times before you take a shot. In other words, try to ask 3 questions before taking a shot at your own reaction.

2. Thank them & exit. Graciously. You’ll be glad you did.
 
3. Breathe & Remind Yourself:
  • It’s one data point. It’s one person’s perspective. So check that data against some others you’ve recently received. What do the averages tell you? Have you been getting this message from one individual or more? Have you gotten similar feedback in past roles?
  • Everyone is entitled to their opinion (including YOU!). Check in with yourself and your opinion on the matter. You get to make the ultimate decision on what feedback is worth acting on and what’s not (see #1 under giving feedback to help you decide). 
  • Is this something you want to change? Often times the most painful feedback is something we already didn’t love about our work.
  • Or is this something you’ll choose to roll off your back? Why? You are who you are after all who I suspect to be a fabulous, vibrant, intelligent, bold, and self-improvement focused leader if you’re reading this! Pick your focus areas and leave the rest. Your future self will thank you.
4. Get out the self-measuring stick you built under Part 2 to help you decide if it’s worth working on. 
  • What 1 or 2 skills do you want to improve right now? Maybe you really tanked on that one presentation but the majority of your role & future goals are about being behind the scenes in data analytics. Is eliminating a few “umms” from a rare presentation more important than advancing your knowledge on database querying language like SQL? Probably not at this point.
  • How are you defining success? How is your manager defining success? Nothing else much matters. Think of success in all forms—
    • How do you want people to experience your communication style?
    • What do you want people’s experiences to be working with you in general?
    • Does EVERYBODY have to like you in your version of success? If so, I’d love to be your coach so we can work on this! 

Hope this helps you on your journey to create healthy, productive, quality working relationships and results! 

If you’d like to dig deeper into any of this with a coach I am here for you! Please use my contact form to reach out or comment below.