When I Laughed In The Face Of Fear

As a child, I made my decisions about the world quickly and assuredly. I gave things one chance and if it wasn’t all it was cracked up to be, I wouldn’t touch it again with a 10-foot pole for years. I once saw a fisherman gut a fish on a pier, which was, as you can imagine, HORRIFYING. I didn’t eat fish and chips for two years after that. Also on my blacklist included the dark, the vacuum cleaner, Chuck E Cheese, and roller coasters. Actually, let me clarify that last one – anything with a slight change in elevation.

Minnie Princesses

Because of this, Disneyland was my family’s choice of theme park. One year, I decided I was old enough to graduate from the kiddy rides to something a little more intense like Pirates of the Caribbean or Indiana Jones. Not quite ready for Space Mountain, but I was stepping up the ladder. My parents decided that my inaugural adult ride should be Indiana Jones. Knowing my history, my parents knew that this would be a very important experience: this moment would either allow all of us to ride something other than the teacups every year or we’d be stuck spinning around with toddlers until I could muster up the courage to try again.

BOOM, the ride takes off. We start jostling to and fro, flying around corners. My mom has locked eye contact with me. I’m staring at her and she can see my mind quickly deciding if I like this adult ride or not. I’m quickly deducing that I definitely DON’T. But before my mind can say NOPE WE DO NOT LIKE THIS and I start crying, my mom throws her hands up in the air and starts laughing.


Errrr, screech. My mind comes to a halt as I’m trying to wrap my head around the fact that my mother is laughing! On this very scary ride!…Or is it really a scary ride? Just as quickly, my mindset shifts and suddenly I’m seeing the ride through her eyes. It’s not so scary. It’s kind of fun! It’s kind of silly! I break out into a huge grin and start laughing, too. We laughed past the giant snake, we laughed across the rickety bridge, we even laughed down the huge drop. I got off the ride and declared that I loved it! It was my new favorite ride.

I often think about this memory and now that I’m older, I’m so impressed with how my mom handled that moment. If she wrapped her arms around me and told me it would all be over soon, I would’ve cried the whole ride and written it off completely, but because she laughed and threw her arms up, my mindset shifted. Our brains are so powerful and have the ability to bias us, to make us decide if something is safe or not, good or not, scary or not. As a coach, look for the opportunities to throw your hands up and laugh. You may lead your clients to do so as well.

Thanks, Mom, for making me braver. Happy Mother’s Day.

Check out the first picture, yep, that’s me along with Susan’s daughter having fun on the teacup ride many years ago.

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Leveraging Gratitude in Career Coaching

Numerous researchers in the field of positive psychology have learned that gratitude impacts many areas of our lives, as the infographic to the right shows:

  • Happy people’s income is roughly 7% higher
  • Grateful people on average give 20% more time and dollars.
  • Grateful people will have 10% fewer stress-related illnesses, by more physically fit, have blood pressure that is lower by 12%.
  • Grateful people are 20% more likely to get “A” grades

For those who coach career changers, I wish there were statistics on how gratitude impacted career changers’ success rates! If there were such stats, I’m confident they would show that grateful job seekers network more easily, get jobs faster, and negotiate bigger salaries (this last one is borne out in the first bullet above, with happy people having incomes 7% higher).

Gratitude ushers in the concept of provision. It causes us to view the world through a lens of possibility instead of problem, to believe “I have everything I need … right now.” The negative emotions of fear, anxiousness, and worry are based in anticipation of not having enough …  not having enough control, time, money, energy, health, protection, resources, wellbeing, wisdom, appreciation, acceptance, trust, ease. Simply put:

  • Lack of enough is scarcity.
  • Plenty of enough is abundance.

Practical Application

So how do you leverage gratitude when coaching your clients? If you are working with someone who is bummed out over a job loss, be cautious about coming straight out and saying “what are you grateful for?,” because it can sound insensitive.

Instead, first acknowledge the pain. For example:

“I hear the frustration… not what you were hoping for.”

And then, consider saying something like”

“Without denying those feelings, what do you hope this situation will open up for you … make possible for you?”

This is a way of tapping the gratitude emotion without using the word “grateful” or “gratitude.” So, dear colleagues and friends, what do you hope your current situation will open up for you?!

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When Failure Isn’t What It Seems

By Rebecca Potts, Academic Services Coordinator

Failure is an ugly word.  It comes equipped with pointy fangs, twisty horns, and a dark cloud around it.  And it probably has really bad breath. Yuck.

But what if I told you you’re not looking deep enough?  What if there is more to failure than meets the eye? That when you pick apart the letters, you see that its fangs really aren’t that sharp, and they’re stuffed with some really fluffy filling called Opportunity.  And when you carefully examine its horns, you notice that they’re beautifully textured with a material called Vision and extend so high into the sky that you know from the top, you can see everything, you just have to start climbing.  And that dark cloud? If you look really closely, you can see a light far off in the distance, and no, it’s not a train. It’s called Hope. And you’ll notice, the more you get to know Failure, the brighter that light becomes.

If you think back to the last time you succeeded, you’ll realize that you probably failed a few times beforehand.  Each time, it may have felt discouraging and frustrating and you might have felt like giving up, but you didn’t. You kept trying.  You learned more, you grew more, and Failure was right beside you the entire time. So why did you succeed?

Because “Failure” taught you how.

So the next time Failure comes knocking at your door, invite it for dinner.  Let it get comfortable and don’t be afraid. It’s about to compassionately teach you a very valuable lesson.

Image attribution: Copyright: <a href=’https://www.123rf.com/profile_drawkman’>drawkman / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

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I Can’t Find My Keys

By Rachel Grima, Client Services Manager

When I was much younger my mom had this habit of putting her keys in a different place each night. Each morning we would be on our way out the door and my mother would exclaim: “I can’t find my keys.” Which led to her running around the house opening cabinets, drawers, looking under the dog’s bed, and everywhere else she could think of. Unable to find her keys she would offer me a quarter if I could find them. At that age, I thought a quarter was a pretty big deal! I had this knack for finding her keys even if she put them in the freezer or the flower pot in the backyard. I just had this sixth sense about where her keys were and usually, I was able to find them in no time at all and we would be on our way.

Already late, I would find myself strapped into the car and my mother launching into one of her great life lessons. Usually, our 30-minute car ride turned into 40 or 45 minutes because she’d be so impassioned in her speech that she would forget where she was going! We’d find ourselves across town and she’d exclaim: “Oh! I needed to turn right 10 blocks back.”

As a child, I promised myself that I would NOT be this way. I would never forget my keys and I definitely would never forget where I was going. Fast forward 15 years to a typical early morning, me frantically running around my apartment yelling at my husband and asking him if he’s seen my keys. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been caught up in a story while I’ve been driving, and you guessed it, found myself across town 15 miles out of the way from where I meant to be.

It’s funny that as a child, in those moments, I focused on the things that didn’t really matter. I failed to see my mother’s wisdom, patience, kindness, and compassion, to name just a few of her amazing qualities. I told myself, “I would NEVER be” rather than, “I can’t wait to be.” This story often reminds me to view things in perspective. To not let fear of the challenge or fear of the unknown blind me from seeing the full story that contains an amazing and beautiful opportunity or experience.

Image attribution: Copyright: <a href=’https://www.123rf.com/profile_antonioguillem’>antonioguillem / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

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