I've been getting caught up in my head A LOT lately, feeling like I'm failing and falling short as a leader. This season of life is challenging me to learn and grow, but some days it just feels so hard that I'm not even sure I can do it. When our team's leader/mentor/mama bear, Meg, announced a retreat in Utah at the end of August, I almost didn't go... partly because life was busy but partly because I'd been feeling so knocked around and just not in a good place and felt I wouldn't have much that was positive to contribute.
You can see from the picture above how this story ends... I decided to go, and I'm so glad I did.
Our journey to grow our family has been bringing on some extra intense emotions lately, and my instinct during times like this is to run into a corner and hide. There's something to be said for taking time for you, but I tend to overdo it in that direction and isolate myself. It takes courage to keep putting myself out there in my business instead of retreating and going dark, and it took courage to go to this retreat and connect with people when everything in me felt like isolating. But the gifts I received by going were priceless.
One thing that always happens on these retreats (and the reason I knew I had to go) is that they allow me to move from comparison to appreciation. At home behind my computer, seeing other coaches on social media, it's easy for me to say "She has so much I don't have. I can never do what she does." But when we get in a room together, the dynamic changes. Suddenly I can see that each of us is so special, with a unique story to share... That there's enough room in the business for all of us, and our businesses are different enough that we're not really competing for the same audience or customers. We are each running our own race.
With everything that's been happening in life lately, a lot of the "old" emotional patterns that I've done so much work to overcome have come rushing back. To be honest, it's been discouraging to have social anxiety come roaring back and hear those voices in my head again: You're too quiet. You don't know the "right" things to say. You're not a warm person.
The only way to escape those voices is to avoid social situations entirely... but then the voices start attacking me about something else. (If you've never had voices in your head like this, consider yourself lucky not to have a vicious internal monologue, but know that many of us live with this every day.) So instead I continue to put myself out there, as much courage as it takes to admit that I'm flawed but still worthy of friendship.
As far as the activities we did on the retreat weekend... We had a corporate trainer come in and we visited the nearby corporate office for some additional training. The corporate team made a very touching video about our stories as individuals and as a team, and gave us some fun and meaningful gifts. We went for a hike, worked out together, and prepared meals together. I got to hang out with my sister-in-law and nieces who live nearby. All of the coaches went around in a circle and shared our driving force that inspires us to be in this business.
But the itinerary doesn't capture the essence. On this retreat I realized that only I can build the business I want to build, that I have a vision for building, that I AM building... that I have something to offer my clients that nobody else can offer them, so I had better not stop putting myself out there! I realized anew that I have a place on this team and I have something to teach people, and something to offer them, even if it's just warmth and connection, laughter and understanding. I got those voices in my head to quiet down and even start to turn around to more positive messages.
I realized that what's happening in life is affecting my business and vice versa. I had become so focused on fearing loss and heartbreak, as we contemplate the uncertainty that comes along with surrogacy, that I realized I had been living in a fear-based mentality. Instead of focusing on what we stand to lose, I need to focus instead on what we stand to gain.
I had no idea what I was getting into 3.5 years ago when I joined this company on a whim. I feel so fortunate now, not only to be with this company that does so much to make us feel special and appreciated as individuals, but also with this team, where integrity is the most important thing, period. And I am excited for what we—myself, my family, my team, my clients—stand to gain, now that I've been reminded that I hold the key to my own success and my own happiness.
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