Let's LEAD - March 2020

"All you need is a framework."

I recently called a coaching colleague in a bit of a panic...I had just gotten off a call with a prospective corporate client, and after hearing about their 2021 goals, I suggested a solution I was super excited about, and so was the client! 

It was kind of an out-of-body experience. I could hear myself saying 'we can do this...' and 'we can do that....' We agreed on some clear next steps, and when I hung up the phone, well, cue the happy dance. This is going to be FUN!

mickey mouse happy dance GIF by hoppip

Then reality set in. What did I just do? My thoughts were racing...I just suggested a solution I had never delivered before. 

My heart was pounding and my stomach felt queasy...in that moment, all I could imagine was how I was going to screw this up.

This colleague has done this kind of work, so I called him to talk me down off the ledge in my head. I explained what happened, and he calmly reminded me that in fact yes, I have done this before. Maybe not exactly, AND 'all you need is a framework.'

He was right. I HAVE done this before, and all I was experiencing was my ego/inner voice reminding me of my long-standing fear of failure and the risks involved with saying 'yes' to this opportunity. 

This is how I experience my fear of failure: all or nothing thinking. If I don't have 100% of the knowledge, skills, etc., then I risk failing...and on an epic scale!

The fact is...I already have about 85% of the knowledge and skills I need to deliver this client's solution. The rest (the 'framework') I'll figure out. 

There's a reason I call my business Leveraged Leaders...we all have something in our arsenal of knowledge, skills, experience, talents, gifts, strengths, etc. that we can leverage when presented with something new or a big change we want to make. While it may feel like you're starting at zero, you're not.

What would you be willing to try if you knew you were already 85% there?

3 Tips - Challenging the fear

The purpose of our inner voice is old-school: to ensure our security and survival. It's the part of us that manages our 'fight or flight' response to any danger, whether real or perceived.

Our inner voice remembers all our fears, and it shows up to remind us when there's a perceived risk of our fear coming true.

We all have old stories that we believe served us at some point in our lives. When I was growing up, failure was not an option, so I avoided it at all costs. As I got older, this story morphed into a belief that 'if I make a mistake, I'll never recover from it.' My failure would be epic.

Imagine how this translated into my choices and decisions; over-analyzing and quick to say 'no thanks' to anything outside my comfort zone. 

So, the next time your inner voice triggers a fear, consider these tips:

  1. Take a deep breath...for a couple reasons. First, to recalibrate your nervous system. Odds are your breathing has become shallow, and your body needs some air. 

    Second, that deep breath, which takes about six (6) seconds (I've timed it!), gives that incoming information time to move from the limbic system, the emotional center of your brain where you're internally screaming 'OH S#!T,' to the prefrontal cortex, the rational part of your brain. This graphic paints the picture...


    There's no bypassing this information route; it must pass through your emotional memory bank before moving on to think rationally about the information. Give it the (very brief) time it needs to move on.
  2. Check your story. To quote another coaching colleague (dang...we are brilliant!): 'Once you have your story, check the facts.' 

    How true is the story you're telling yourself? Let's use my story of 'if I make a mistake, I'll never recover from it.' Is it true? Of course not. The truth is that if I make a mistake, I'll learn from it and course-correct from there. 

    Byron Katie's framework, called 'The Work,' includes four (4) questions to help us challenge our negative thoughts and stories:

    Is it true?
    Can you absolutely know it's true?
    How do you react—what happens—when you believe that thought?
    Who would you be without the thought?

    Then she asks us to turn the thought around...to experience the opposite of the story. For me, I imagine myself willing to make mistakes KNOWING that I can overcome them.

  3. Choose. Now that you have your story straight, you can make a knowledge-based decision. What are the pros and cons? Does the opportunity support your established priorities and goals? Do you WANT to do it?

    In my case, YES, the opportunity supports my business goals AND I want to do it! Now it's about closing that 15% gap. The more I think about it, the more excited I get!

As a leader, how are your fears and stories keeping you stuck? What are you willing to try to overcome them? Imagine how by addressing your own fears and stories, you are able to help your team do the same.

Then, what would THEY be willing to try?

Cool Resources

What I'm reading (articles, books*):

As I mentioned above, leveraging one's strengths is key to successfully creating change or trying something new. Another trusted colleague suggested I check out StandOut 2.0: Assess Your Strengths, Find Your Edge, Win At Work by Marcus Buckingham, and it arrived in today's mail! Can't wait to dig in...

*I use Amazon links (no affiliate relationship); please check with your book retailer of choice


"No one achieves anything alone." -- Leslie Knope, 'Parks and Recreation' 

...and something more:  

So on that quote...every time this video shows up in my YouTube feed, I get a big smile on my face! The idea of 'you and me together' once COVID is behind us makes me super happy! Dare you not to smile 😊 as you watch (just like everyone in the video)...

Coming up...

Come join me at the (virtual) 2021 Washington State SHRM Employment Law and HR Conference on March 12, 2021! Register at https://www.wastateshrm2021conference.org/. I'll be speaking on 'The Self-Aware Leader: The Critical Impact of EQ on Employee Engagement and Business Results.'

I hope to 'see' you there!

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I look forward to connecting!

Camille McKinney
Leveraged Leaders