I can’t. I literally can’t. I work my ass off 60 hours a week. At no point has a PTO day been remotely “O”. I spend more than half of my days off answering emails, fielding calls, putting out fires, and trying to get actual work done. And yet, I’m still hearing that I’m “inaccessible; no one can ever get a hold of me for answers or direction”.

I’ve rewritten next week’s strategic plan three times trying to hit the ever moving target of Stan’s message and direction. I’m just gonna leave it; can’t do anything else at this point.

I can’t stop thinking about my tone and delivery during today’s team meeting. Angela was visibly upset and left without making eye contact with anyone or saying another word. 

Not to mention, it’s 11P and I have 50 emails to get through along with the project plan I promised Stan 3 days ago.

Sh*t! I just remembered I have the 7:30 meeting tomorrow morning and Zac needs a treat for his class party. **** it! I’m just going to bed.

[Fast forward 2 hours later still lying awake].

I feel horrible about what I said to Angela. I didn’t mean for it to come out as harshly as it did. She was visibly pissed and immediately shut down. I really need her to take a big role in next week’s presentation. Now I’m worried she won’t want to after today.

I should have taken a breath and counted to 10 before I just blurted out I wasn’t onboard with her idea. I know pausing helps me find more filtered and compassionate words. I didn’t even give it a fair shot.

Damn it! Why did I do that? I’m her manager. I should know and act better. Great example I’m setting.

UGH! Tomorrow will be so awkward. I don’t even know what to say. I really don’t want to deal with it. 

[4 hours later when the alarm goes off]

Oh for the love, when will this stop? When will I have some control?

Oh ****! I still have to get those damn treats. 

When Life Feels Out of Control

This is an excerpt from my life 2 years ago. When it seemed as if level one lens was superglued to my face and I was convinced the weight of the world was mine alone to bear and there was absolutely no way to escape it. It was, and always would be, my life. There was no way out. I was stuck. 

Not only did I feel I had absolutely no control over my situation at work, nor any say in how to make it better, but my husband was a SAHD because he had just left his job. I was the sole breadwinner and I had just taken a new position. There was no way I could leave so quickly. It would definitely be noticed and noted on my resume. So, every morning, I woke up to this crippling despair and anxiety because there was literally no way out. 

The Zone of Destructive Energy

This is the zone of no glimmer of constructive/anabolic energy. It is destructive and catabolic through and through. It’s the zone of apathy and inaction. The moments when you’re so overwhelmed you don’t know what to do, so you choose nothing. It’s as if all your decision making skills completely vanish because you don’t see anything but what you’re experiencing. The thoughts and feelings are so deep and have such a strong hold, you’re convinced life couldn’t be any other way; there are no other options to explore. You’re blocked from seeing a way out. And it’s in this space your sense of worth and confidence are little to even non-existent. You’re constantly worried about what happens and what’s said feeling shame for your part in it because you “should” have done it differently. All of this weight prevents you from moving forward.

This is also the space your inner naysayer is screaming the loudest. Why? Because the thoughts and feelings are so heavy. They’re painful and so your naysayer steps in to offer a bit of protection from them. That’s how he/she/it got there in the first place – to minimize the weight that comes from experiencing destructive energy.

But … Not All Hope Is Lost

One of the most imperative tenets on this topic – i.e. energy and how it’s experienced – is that there is no good or bad, right or wrong, black or white. Whatever we experience just … is. Plain and simple. And while based on the narrative, it may not seem as if there is any upside, there absolutely is! When experienced, this energy allows for moments of sympathy and support from others.

Think about your own experiences in this space. No doubt you can pinpoint when others gave you attention and offered their sympathy, and maybe even some advice and help to initiate action. 

BUT … There’s a Flip Side

With every advantage comes a disadvantage. Experience this energy too often (that is, form unconscious thought, feeling, and action patterns when it surfaces) and you run the risk of alienating friends, family, and coworkers because you’re unable to get out of your own way. You’ll struggle to get out from the weight of your thoughts and feelings, and genuinely believe your naysayer’s message that you’re unworthy, making it that much harder to go after what you actually want.

Moving Forward with Awareness

The first step in any journey is awareness. Awareness that this energy exists. It’s a part of the human condition, though we’re always at choice as to whether we experience it or not and knowing that if we do, there’s a reason for it, which brings us to the second step in the journey … 

Taking the Next Step with Acceptance

Acceptance that it’s perfectly normal to experience everything that comes with this energy state. Because of course it is! You’re human! You live to be autonomous; to make your own decisions; to freely practice free will. So when your life experiences continue to pile on (from work, work, family, or even a global pandemic) and their collective weight seems insurmountable, it makes total sense you feel

  • overwhelmed and unable to keep up
  • worried about what will or won’t happen next
  • guilty about what you could have done differently with hindsight being 20/20

Speaking of 2020, this year is a phenomenal case study in this energy space. With 95% of our choices taken away from us, we collectively put on our level one lenses and spiraled to some dark places. (Hell, I’ll be the first to admit as a coach who’s trained in all of this, I had some ROUGH moments to be coached through over the last 7 months). Places we weren’t certain we’d ever escape, and yet here we are! Open to seeing more options available to us, and making every effort to move forward to the third step on our journeys. 

What Can You Allow Yourself to Believe?

Maybe you’re not yet out of your 2020 funk, or regardless of this year, this energy state is prominent for you. One, it’s perfectly normal. When this energy is experienced, it’s a lot to work through. It incites deep established patterns of thoughts and feelings around being trapped and overwhelmed, which take time to unravel and repurpose. So take just a few steps forward to recognize there are options available.

  • Step 1: Gain awareness that change/something different is possible and it’s what you want
  • Step 2: Accept that you absolutely have the courage ability to make whatever change you want happen.
  • Step 3: Continually allow yourself to believe in your awesome and unique talents and creativity to bring it to life

What can you allow yourself to believe about yourself that will propel you one step closer to stepping into your power and creating a life true to your most authentic self?

Challenging yourself in these moments takes courage and support. If you’re struggling to alleviate yourself of this energy and feel consistently stuck in a pattern of overwhelm, lack of options, and inaction let’s connect. There are several coaching options we can explore to get you moving forward. I’d love to hop on a 20 minute call to hear what comes up for you in this space. What’s the number one thing that keeps you from going after what you want?

Live your truth. Unabashedly you. You are worthy.

If your mind immediately when to Ross Gellar, we’re BFFs.

Every business – regardless of industry, focus, or size – pivots at some point in its journey. If not multiple points. My business was officially opened in November 2019, and has pivoted 4 times. Some of that has to do with me being new to this game and feeling my way through it. The other stuff has to do with it “just not feeling right”. My intuition knows when something just isn’t quite “right”. It does an amazing job of letting me know too; whether or not I listen in the moment.

The first turning point

When Covid-19 hit, I went into support mode. As a business owner and coach, I wanted to put myself in a position to be there for those who didn’t want to go it alone or maybe felt they couldn’t in the moment. My immediate thought went to HR because as a function it hit hard. I lived through the 2008 recession in HR and it wasn’t fun. Spending weeks gathering information on who needs to be let go in silence is thoroughly exhausting. The mental capacity it takes to walk around with 100s of people’s livelihood and well-being in your hands is enough to break anyone – no matter how tough. So I created the HR Chat Series the #otherfrontline. I spoke with a number of people in and outside the industry who supported me and I ran!

Every session has been AMAZING! I’ve re-connected with a lot of great people in my network and met even more! The experience has been nothing short of incredible, and I’m confident attendees have gotten a lot out of the experts who’ve been showcased.

So why change?

Jenny Williams was my guest on the most recent episode. Her mindset moment touched my soul and intuition deeply that day. “If you knew you could always accomplish your dreams, would you dream bigger?” I was a resounding, “HELL YES!” I’ve had loads of fun with the HR space, but I want to take it bigger. And ironically with a more focused audience.

(Nearly) Every marketing guru and/or business coach will tell you, make your niche very specific. Admittedly, I’ve had a hard time with this one as evidenced by my 4 pivots thus far. It wasn’t until Jenny’s question along with some deep meditation and reflection that it finally made sense. As a coach:

  • My clients are wildly successful working moms who down play their superpowers and convince themselves they aren’t special.
  • Though at the same time, my clients feel they’re not stepping into their full potential and want something spectacular for themselves. They are hungry to make a big splash!
  • My clients are tenacious go-getters who take accountability for getting in their own way, but more importantly, want to do the hard work to get out of it!

With this new found clarity, the HR Chat Series is pivoting to focus on this space. The segments will focus on supporting badass working moms whose intuition constantly reminds them they’re capable of so much more, but who’s minds and hearts have convinced them otherwise. #ReleaseYourHero

Jenny Williams, Sr. HR Business Partner with GE Aviation, kicked her servant leadership mindset into high gear when Covid-19 hit. One tiny LinkedIn post about helping displaced workers with their resumes blew up – in the most amazing way! In the last 10 weeks, she’s supported 62 individuals … and still counting … doctor up their resumes and find new positions. Her energy, outlook, and approach to not just this project, but life in general, are truly inspiring!

Who is Jenny?

Jenny has worked in HR for over 20 years. She’s held positions in every aspect of the employee life cycle. From recruiting to performance management to salary design to labor relations and everything in between. She’s seen it all. Her experience runs far and wide. So when she decided to employ her recruiting and resume services, it wasn’t a stretch. She often says, “I’m not unique,” but that certainly isn’t the case – AT ALL. As part of her process, Jenny utilizes a graphic resume template. Something outside the traditional chronological list. Something to spark a recruiter’s interest. She also sends each individual a summary of how to manage a phone interview, as well as a personalized piece of encouragement. Something that speaks to the individual she’s helping. That encouragement is the magic. That encouragement is what makes Jenny and her servant leadership so unique.

Highlights from our chat

  • Values and faith-based leadership brand: Jenny connects herself spiritually to a higher power and has taken a lot of time to develop her closest held values. Every time she needs to make a decision or is presented with a new situation, she gut checks those values. If everything is aligned to them as well as her heart, she moves forward. Living in this way has strengthened her leadership style. Her business partners know they’ll always get authenticity and transparency with her.
  • If you knew all of your dreams would come true, would you dream bigger? Jenny left us with that mindset moment using me as an example. She walked through all the dreams I’ve had in my life to date and how I’ve accomplished nearly all of them. Knowing that I … and you … have achieved most of what we set out to have in our adult lives, how much bigger could we dream knowing we have a history of accomplishment and success behind us? We’ve done what we wanted, what’s stopping us from going that much bigger!?
  • Interested in Jenny’s energy and services? Contact her on LinkedIn. Her InMail is pushing it’s limits, (understandably) but she is organized and process-oriented. Turn around time is quick.

Check out the full episode

I’m so honored to have met Jenny and to feature her on the series! Her energy and outlook align so well to the idea of setting yourself up to accomplish everything you want in this life once you’ve cleared your mind and heart of the things that convince you otherwise. Remember, you are unique. You are full of potential. You are absolutely and unequivocally … unlimited.

Colleen Drennen Pfaller, founder and CEO of A Slice of HR, a staple HR fractional consulting firm in Cincinnati, OH, joined us to talk about unemployment – what it is, what it isn’t, who it’s for, and how to properly approach it from an HR and employee perspective. Colleen’s infectious energy and deep knowledge brings clarity to and removes the stigma around this often sticky topic.

Colleen’s top takeaways:

  • Don’t believe everything you hear … or think: Unemployment is insurance. It’s a safety net when you find yourself out of a job through no fault of your own. If you’ve worked for a company, you’ve paid into it starting with your first job. It is NOT the equivalent to welfare. It’s intended to bridge the gap between your previous role and your next role.
  • Covid has changed the benefit a bit: Every state is doing it’s own thing, so be sure to review the guidelines to familiarize yourself with those guidelines. In addition to what your state is doing, the federal government offers another $600/week.
  • HR’s role: Understand the regulations and laws. Communicate clearly and consistently to employees. Point them to the right resources. Approach each person with empathy during the difficult time.
  • Employee’s role: Give yourself some grace. The situation was completely unexpected and threw you for a loop. You’re allowed to feel hurt by it and take some time to root through those emotions. Recognize it will take time to get back on your feet. Unemployment bridges the gap, it doesn’t mean you have to run to the next thing. Take your time. Sort through what you really want and be intentional about your next job search. You’ve been given a break. Use it to your advantage.

Check out the full episode here.

Not sure why the video quality suffers at the beginning. Bear with us. It bounces back.

Colleen left us with a great parting thought:

“I think we all have empathy. We may not have enough courage to display it.”

-Maya Angelou

When in doubt … connect. Show humanity. Accept humanity. It’s what we’re all searching for in every moment – and particularly when we’ve spent 2+ months separated from one another.

If you’d like to know more about Colleen and/or A Slice of HR services, contact her directly on LinkedIn or go on to the company website.

How will we handle return to work with ease?

The uncertainty of post-Covid-19 work environments causes understandable discomfort. On top of that, HR leaders are at the helm of navigating uncharted return to work procedures and ADA accommodations. On today’s HR Chat Series #otherfrontline, Licia Thompson, certified holistic life coach with a specialty in navigating the complexities of ADA accommodations and return to work policies, walks us through how to approach the situation with a bit more ease. With her coaching background, she applies empathy and compassion to legal regulations to meet everyone where they are and show mutual trust between the employer and employee. She provides practical tips on how HR and business leaders can effectively get people back to work amid increasing anxiety and complexities.

Licia outlines 4 main takeaways for HR and Business Leaders:

  • Start to review all current policies and procedures now before the influx truly starts. Get a handle on what the current process is and how to streamline it in the new normal. She advocates for getting all on one system if feasible to allow technology to help structure and automate the process as much as possible.
  • Be sure to understand what restrictions and accommodations were in place for employees before Covid-19. It’s imperative to get a handle on how the temporary restrictions as a result of Covid-19 will affect the permanent restrictions some employees had before the epidemic hit.
  • Ensure communication is clear, concise, and timely. The return to work process can be stressful and overwhelming for both HR and employees in any normal situation. The added complexity of Covid-19 can make it worse. Be open and compassionate with everyone’s situation to help alleviate some of the stress. If you’re unsure of something, lean in with empathy and ask questions until you have a workable understanding of the situation to take action.
  • Remember to take care of yourself and make your health and mental well being a priority. Walk, get some fresh room, and take 5 deep breaths to clear your mind.

Much like everything we’ve experienced over the last 5 weeks, we’re writing the playbook as we go. With a focus on human connection and seeking to understand situations without judgment, we will undoubtedly get through this, and learn a whole hell of a lot in the process. Here’s to hoping we don’t have to use this playbook again in our lifetime.

This week marked our HR Chat Series Kick Off. Last week I connected with a few former colleagues and we got to talking how we can give back to the HR community that’s doing so much to guide, manage, and protect their companies and its employees through these unprecedented times. Those who are making quick and sometimes incomplete decisions based on rough and unfinished information. Those who are gathering lists of individuals who will receive a salary reduction, furlough, or layoff and then communicating that 100s of times and carrying the collective weight of them long after they’re over. Those who are struggling to support themselves behind the scenes because they’re exhausted, overwhelmed, and scared of the uncertainty themselves.

The overarching vision is to provide encouragement, inspiration, a chance to laugh, and a chance to learn for official and unofficial HR leaders!  Our focus is to be to be insanely simple, insanely valuable, and insanely immediate. We start each week with something fun or funny, showcase a subject matter expert who will  provide usable content, and give those who have the HR title or play it in their organizations, a chance to breathe, laugh, and respond.

In today’s session we talked about the change curve model from Vicki Shillington.

Phase 1: Chaos/Frenetic energy – eyes on HR to lead the way >> emotions ramp, quick decisions are made based on fear and incomplete information

Phase 2: Acceptance/Settle in – get used to what’s happening >> everyone’s finding some comfort in working from home; focus on one thing at a time with an emphasis on self care

Phase 3: New normal/re-entry – eyes back on HR >> gear up for what’s coming including re-ramped emotions; time to tap into creativity and innovation to be of highest value for the organization

One thing is for certain. We’re not going back to the way things used to be. How can we use this time to actively influence the new normal and create work environments that are inviting, inclusive, and full of unlimited leadership and potential?

Lauren-

No apologies needed! I’ve been waiting to hear from you for quite some time. You’ve no doubt noticed I’ve been keeping some distance lately, which has allowed you to shine like the bright star you are!

To be honest, I’ve been giddy with excitement since you started working through our time together and realizing how it hasn’t always served you. It was never my intention to keep you from opening your mouth when it was most important to you; to make you think you needed to have a filter more often than not. It broke my heart to see you shy away when someone stopped you from asking a question or disregarded your input. I love you with all of being and seeing you with a dimmer light was too much to bear, so I started to step in if I sensed your disappointment would be too great. It didn’t occur to me that I protected you too much until I saw your disappointment turn to anger and resentment when you felt you didn’t have a platform or no one was listening. You’ve grown into a strong, intelligent, and articulate woman with an uncanny talent of inspiring others with your authentic and infectious enthusiasm for life! Of course you’d feel anxious and judgmental of yourself when you couldn’t get that out. You’ve spent years censoring yourself, and as you started to form your own thoughts and desire to share your gifts with the world, it makes sense you wouldn’t know where to start and self-loathing settled in. You had … and have .. so many great things to say, I’d be absolutely shocked if you didn’t get angry and frustrated in the moments you felt you couldn’t get it all out. 

It’s completely understandable that you want to step away. We’ve had a good run together and I know we’ll always be connected. There’s no doubt in my mind that you’ll accomplish great things. I’ve known that since I first met you over 30 years ago. 


When you come back, recognize that I will be here to support and serve you in a new way. I won’t allow you to tell yourself you don’t have a voice worthy of being heard. In fact, I’ll be the first to tell you, “shut the hell up. You’ve moved on. Why are we revisiting? You have a voice. You’ve shown the world you know how to use it. Not today. What else ya got?”

I love you, dear friend. I, too, will always cherish the time we’ve had together. I’m so damn proud of you! The world has no idea how lucky it is to have your bright, unfiltered, authentic self every single day. You’re amazing. Don’t EVER convince yourself otherwise. 

Kick ass out there, 

Louie

Louie –

You’ve been by my side for as long as I can remember. Your protection has kept me from so much pain, embarrassment, and ridicule when I just wanted to blurt out exactly what was on my mind or ask a stupid question. I’ve experienced so much anguish and anxiety because of my voice, had you not been there to make me think twice about situations that may have brought on more of that, I don’t think I would have recovered. 

Thank you for always being there to blanket me from the inevitable self-loathing and shame I would have felt had I just put my voice out there. Your safeguarding is so deeply appreciated; though, it’s no longer needed, dear friend.

Because you did such a great job of teaching me to filter, it became my go-to. I became so comfortable in your sanctuary, I didn’t learn to use my voice at all. I kept my mouth shut so I wouldn’t feel anything, not realizing the pain from doing so was infinity greater than the alternative. I worked so hard to not introduce self-loathing and shame from things I shouldn’t say. Ironically, they crept in anyway because of what I didn’t. The self-imposed vice I secured around my throat from blindly following your well-intentioned guidance robbed me of utilizing my unique skills and talents, which include sharing my words and my voice.

Having said all this, I don’t blame you. I don’t hold you responsible for my years of filtered silence and subsequent anxiety. That’s on me. I took your protection too far. I didn’t ask (you) how best to utilize your counsel to work in my favor when I had something to say. I just assumed not speaking up to avoid pain applied to everything. 

You have done a great job of keeping me from some nasty sh*t, but because I couldn’t discern how to effectively use your protection, it kept me from learning other valuable lessons and allowing those to shape me in completely different ways. 

As I’m sure you’ve guessed, it’s time for me to say goodbye … for now. I’ve reached a point where I’m secure enough in my own voice and my ability to deal with whatever pushback comes my way. I’m now able to step into my voice because I’ve released myself from the anvil of self-judgment I’ve carried around for so long. I won’t crumble if someone challenges me because I know exactly who I am and how I want to show up. I no longer feel the need to compete for relevance because I am relevant and in competition with no one. 

Because we share so much mutual love and respect, there’s no doubt we’ll stay connected and continue to grow together as life progresses. You’ve taught me so much and I wouldn’t be who I am without you. I will always cherish the time we spent together. You are a good friend and purposeful ally. I will keep you close as my biggest cheerleader. 

With infinite love and appreciation, 

Lauren 

I don’t typically talk about my kids because well they’re my kids, but an instance hit me so hard as a mother and a coach that I wanted to address just how deep self imposed anguish can run and how early in life it can surface. 

My older son is an absolute sweetheart and well beyond his years. He’s 9 going on 40; a typical first born – conscientious, protective, nurturing, motivated by attention, with an urge to please. When stressed or having experienced a perceived wrong, he demonstrates a fairly high level of self righteousness, immediately followed by guilt and shame for doing so. He definitely leads with emotion over logic or intuition, but is wicked smart and quick to catch on. 

As he ages, the emotional charge continues to grow, and over the last few weeks it’s become much more pronounced. In the instant of a trigger, his emotions are immediately written all over his body. At 9, he hasn’t developed the emotional muscles to deal, and as such, understandably struggles to lift himself above the mental fray and spirals to a point of no return. In the last week alone, I’ve witnessed him falter under the weight of his self imposed pressure three different times. With momma bear protection mode running full force I went into action. 

But Monday night he spiraled into episode 4 and it was obvious a different approach was warranted. So rather than mom mode, I went into coach mode. I simply asked him to share his thoughts and feelings rather than hand out advice. As I expected he had a difficult time articulating what was circulating, but it was also apparent he responded to the coaching techniques. After about 45 minutes, I learned what my coach’s intuition had already told me: he carries a tremendous amount of guilt and shame for who and how he is, but to a level I wasn’t prepared to face as a mother. To avoid the tears I was fighting so hard to hold back, I maintained coach mode and simply said, “You don’t deserve the anguish you put yourself through.” And in that instant, my sweet young man with not a care in the world started to peek through. 

It’s absolutely amazing the amount of pressure we place on ourselves even at a young age. And even more amazing the length of time we carry it around thinking it will never go away; convinced this is “just the way life is”. It isn’t and there are ways to readjust your mindset to experience a new lens. 

  1. Grant yourself peace and forgiveness. Much like my son, you don’t deserve what you’re putting yourself through. You’re a talented human being with tremendous strength and definitive purpose. You’re robbing yourself and the world of both when your energy is focused on pulling you down.
  2. Repurpose your energy. What’s another way you could look at yourself in the moments you default to degradation mode? A useful go-to is to remind yourself you’re still learning and you haven’t got it all figured out (because at no point in your life will you not be learning and let’s face it, no one’s ever going to figure it all out).
  3. Come up with a mantra. I asked my son what he loved most about himself. He couldn’t come up with anything, so I redirected to things he loved about everyone in the family. He rattled those off without a hitch, and followed that with, “It’s really hard to find something to love about yourself.” Yes! Of course it is. We spend so much time tearing ourselves down, we blanket the stuff we do really well and the things others admire about us. We brush it off as things “everyone can do, so what’s the big deal.” We’re all incredibly gifted in so many ways – it’s absolutely a big deal! Immediately following I gave him a list of 3 phrases to repeat when he starts to weigh himself down. In the short days since, I’ve even heard him saying them to himself. 

As a mother I’m still processing this experience. It was eye opening to see that he seemingly felt more at ease with me as a coach vs. me as a mom. As I reflect on that, it validates the importance of truly listening to someone else and not being attached to the outcome (as we typically are as parents). When we attach an expectation, typically [unintentional] judgment comes with it because we’re convinced our way is “right”. In that instant, it was all him. I was there to support him in exploring the thoughts and emotions swirling inside of him with no other motive than to hear and see him. As a coach I’m encouraged by his evident relief and subsequent growth and self discovery. I have no doubt he will accomplish great things, and I’m genuinely thankful to be a part of the experience to help him repurpose his defeating messages to maximize his success. 

Life is entirely too short to live under the weight of self-imposed guilt, shame, anguish, anger, resentment, and whatever destructive emotions you may be placing on yourself. You are a beautiful human with so much to offer this world. You have every right to grant yourself tranquility to step into exactly who you want to be, who you know you can be if you could just get out of your own way. You are unique. You are full of potential. You are absolutely and unequivocally unlimited.

Lauren is a certified professional leadership development coach and mentor dedicated to radically shifting workplace cultures by empowering leaders through self awareness around how they show up and harnessing their energy to lift [others] as they climb. She works with leaders who are in the process of figuring out the most effective way to bring their definition of leadership to life to positively influence themselves, their teams, and their overall workplace environment. She fosters an open and engaging relationship to fully explore what’s going well as well as what’s holding leaders back from stepping into their full potential. Want support in unravelling any self-imposed limiting messages? Fill out the contact form to get more information www.unlimitedleader.com, Follow LI and FB: @Unlimited Leader, LLC; IG: @mrslaurenammon