Networking is Like Gumbo

I love to cook as much as I love to coach. I have read more cookbooks in my life than any other type of book and will take every opportunity to hang in the kitchen with chefs of all stripes, including the wonderfully inspiring Leah Chase of Dooky Chase in New Orleans (that’s her in the picture).

Sometimes my two worlds collide, like when I led a marketing workshop for a DeAnne with Leah Chase, 2010group of solo-practice lawyers. We covered many things, including how to reach their clients through networking. As soon as I uttered the word “networking”, I got some eye rolls, wrinkled noses and sighs. Networking has really gotten a bad reputation, thanks to the rise of direct sales companies and social media. You know, the “Let’s do coffee, but I really want to sell you something” meetings, and the social media over-connectors who have gotten caught up in a race to gather likes, connections, and “friends.”

The problem is that networking is not about adding another pelt to your belt, at least not for those of us who really care about connecting with and serving others.

During that workshop, I asked the group to look at networking in a different way – similar to a good gumbo. Why? Because just like that spice-rich stew I love so dearly, networking is based on a trinity. Instead of the combination of onion, celery and bell pepper that gumbo and lots of Cajun and Creole dishes rely on, meaningful networking is built on a combination of “know, like and trust”.

The first place you need to develop the KNOW is with yourself. Yep, you! Are you someone you would want to do business with or hire? Are you honest with yourself? Do you know what you do best, and what you screw up every (or every other) time? Do you know the difference you make in your business or in your current position? What do people look to you automatically for? In what instances do people bypass you? How well do you know you?

Now, do you LIKE yourself? Do you like what you do? What aspects of your work do you like, and which would you prefer to farm out to someone else? Why would you farm out those tasks? What does that tell you about yourself and your next step?

And finally, TRUST. Do you trust yourself to make the right decision? Do you trust your gut? Do you have a vision for what you want, but don’t trust that you can get it?

After you adopt the know, like and trust thyself model, then your goal is to get curious about the other guy and focus on building relationships based on mutual understanding and appreciation. You see, if you never realize that you are a unique and valuable contributor then you will never realize the connections that can be made and the possibilities ahead.

Once you take the gumbo approach to networking, you are constantly weaving a safety net that can support you and the other people in your network now and in the years ahead. Life and work are so much more fun and rewarding when they are shared!

Freckles, Love and All

I have always had freckles. Truly, I have so many freckles you couldn’t count them all if you had two entire days! I even have one on the bottom of my left big toe! To say that I hated them as a kid would be a huge understatement.

In school, kids constantly told me I would be pretty if it weren’t for all those spots. Or I was IMAG0306asked, “What happened to you, do those hurt?” To make matters worse, school pictures came around every year after I had spent the summer outside, piling on more freckles.

So, I began to try to get rid of them. I really tried! I thought I could wash them away with soap. I made big circles of soap on my skin with my fingers and then used a washcloth…Nope.

I saw an old movie where the beautiful leading lady used buttermilk and salt to to keep her skin milky white…Nope. (And if you ever get salt and buttermilk in your eyes, you won’t forget it.)

I even used a great big glob of my grandmother’s face cream for removing “age spots.” Really, I did. Although it lightened my skin in general, it didn’t stand a chance against the millions of the freckles.

I covered them up with layers of makeup and powder from my mom’s makeup drawer in the hall bathroom, until I looked and felt like my face was covered in bondo, you know, that stuff that car repair shops use to fill in dents in fenders and doors.  Well, this kind of worked to cover them up, but it was hard to smile, or even blink, when your face felt like cracking plaster.

My efforts must have been very frustrating to my mom and dad, who always told me that I was beautiful. Certainly, they did their best to bolster my self-image. But nothing really worked…until one particular day.
My dad, seeing me try one of my many solutions, pulled me aside and said, “You know I think you are beautiful, right? Do you know why?”

I didn’t say it, but I was thinking, “It ain’t ‘cause of these freckles!”

He said, “You are the only one who has my mother’s skin, and yes, I know you don’t like the freckles, but she had them just like you and I thought she was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen until I met
your mom. Now, when I look at you, I see a bit of her.”

I had never met my grandmother. So, he went to the hall closet and got down a picture of her. At that moment, even though I had been told over and over again that I was beautiful, freckles and all, something snapped for me. I got it, in a deep soulful way, in a way that allowed me to not only accept that I had freckles, but to embrace, even celebrate them, as something that ties me to a family that I love dearly, an inheritance from a grandmother I never knew.

Now, I realize that how my dad helped me then, is a lot like how I help people now through coaching. We all have some attributes, knowledge, skills and brilliance that we accept, embrace, even celebrate, and then we have the stuff we don’t, the freckles.  When I help my clients realize that they are more than their current job, lack of technological prowess, illness or income.

What perceived liability is keeping you from accepting your own unique value?

I love helping people “embrace their freckles”—if you’d like to explore how your least favorite attribute can actually be part of your strengths, schedule a complementary 20-minute call.  I would love to support you in a change of perspective that moves you forward or help you “connect the dots”. That change in mindset could mean thousands of dollars in your pocket (when you land that new job you’ve been telling yourself you’re not qualified for)!

Book a Free Strategy Call!

Are You Leading Your Life Or Are You Failing to Launch?

I’ll admit it: I’m a chick flick fan. One of my favorite movies is Failure to Launch. It isMovie Reel funny and bittersweet—my favorite combo and it has more than a couple of stars from my beloved Lone Star state. But what really makes me love it is that it delivers some great lessons with a lot of love. (If you haven’t seen it and are a fan of ‘girly’ movies, definitely add it to your list!)

In the movie, Matthew McConaughey’s character is living at home with his parents. Well into his 30’s, he is way past his expiration date for living at home.  Desperate to get him off on his own, his parents hire Sarah Jessica Parker, a self-described “launch expert.” SJP’s well-honed strategy to encourage him out of the nest involves dating him and helping him see how ready he is for independence. Her character has already done this a million times—since she isn’t in the market for a serious relationship, she’s the perfect “transition girlfriend” and the guys she dates typically go on to move out and develop great relationships.

Movie TheatreLike Matthew’s character, we often fall into patterns that seem comfortable, but are really keeping us stuck. Since I believe that we are all here on this Earth so we can grow, being stuck is really an uncomfortable place to be. But we stay there because change and taking a chance can be scary.

Here are some of the ruts my clients and I have fallen in over the years—yes, myself included. (More on that in just a moment!)

Perfection. I am waiting for __________ to be perfect before I create the life I want. Okay, so you can fill in the blank there: timing, your relationship, your body, your idea, your house.

But here’s the thing: If X were perfect you would say it was something else. This is what I call “Dejá Doo Doo”. No matter where you are or what’s going on, you keep using the same old kind of excuses and nothing much changes.

This tendency often shows up as complicating the heck out of your plans, over-thinking or deciding that you need more certifications or degrees before you can really get started.

Guarantees.  Many of my clients have never taken a big leap or even an itsy bitsy step without a clear view that everything will turn out exactly how they have planned it.

Well, that one doesn’t exactly make sense either since we don’t really get guarantees in life, professionally or personally.

Waiting for a sign. Now, I believe in listening to your gut. Some of my best decisions certainly didn’t make sense on paper. (Ask me some time about how I applied to graduate school at 23 with no money and no job—it didn’t make sense, but it worked out brilliantly.) But most of the time waiting for a sign is about stalling and when you stall, you lose all momentum.

Approval. I often hear in my clients’ voices a longing to be approved of—by a parent, society, professors or any number of individuals. So many of us have a need to get that gold star or that pat on the back. But even if you do manage to earn the approval of others, it’s fleeting. It leaves you empty.

If you don’t want to make a move unless you know it will get you a thumbs up from others, what is really stopping you is fear.

Fear of being seen as a fool, failure, a diva, devil or even fear of success. Fear of being more successful than your parents, someone you admire or even more successful than you think you can handle will stop you in your tracks. I have seen it so many times and even experienced this myself.

Other symptoms that you are in peril of becoming a failure to launch include:

Blaming others, the economy or some other outside entity for where your life is right now
Being in the same place for 6 months or more
Constantly relying on others
Feeling emotional, jumping to conclusions or dodging in different directions all the time
Brimming with ideas, but not taking any actions based on them, or not taking actions with any consistency

I promised I’d tell you a little bit about the ruts I’ve fallen into. Here goes:  When I first went out on my own as an independent coach, I tried doing business like everyone else. I got the corporate headshots of me smiling in a suit. I put all the letters I could scrape together after my name on my business cards. However, as I have continued to peel more layers of corporate life off, I’ve become more and more myself. Now when people ask me what I do, I say “I kick butt with fuzzy slippers.” The more I own who I am and what I like, I find that I am more effective. I find just the right clients with less effort. Perhaps best of all, I enjoy my work even more as I work with people in all parts of their lives, not just careers. Many of my clients leverage, change or relaunch professionally, in doing that, some choose to start a business or a consulting service.

Anyway, the good news is that even if you do have patterns that can lead to being a failure to launch, you can change them. The way out is leadership—taking the reins of your own life and making decisions that suit you. It happens for Matthew McConaughey in the movie, it has happened for me and it can happen for you too.

Are you ready to launch?

Register Now!


“By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third, by experience, which is the bitterest.” — Confucius

I love this photo of my client, Camden, and me after a coaching session Camden and meover coffee. Camden and I have been on a great journey together as coach and client creating a life she loves professionally and personally. Camden once lovingly said, “As a coach, DeAnne, your motto should be…‘GET A LIFE, JUST MAKE FOR DARN SURE IT’S THE ONE YOU WANT!’’

Small Plane, Big Lessons: A True Story

As a kid, I was in a car accident. In true Texas fashion, my brother, sister and I were all piled in the cab of my Dad’s truck, headed to the department store where my Mom worked to visit her on her break. All I remember is tires screeching, metal crunching, and all of us being thrown over to the driver’s side as we skidded off into a ditch. We only had some minor bumps and bruises, but as a result, I was terrified of learning to drive.

I was almost eighteen when my older brother and sister took it upon themselves to have a heart to heart with me—the gist of which was that I needed to cut this crap out and get behind the wheel. Where I grew up, being able to drive was a necessity since there were miles of hills and highways between everything and no public transportation.

That’s how it came to be that my siblings spent their weekends home from college teaching me to drive.DeAnne's sister

My sister, now a cop, was focused on making sure I knew the rules of the road. We spent many hours perfecting turns, pulling into and out of parking places, and studying the driver’s handbook. (As a result, I can parallel park any car, anywhere. Thanks, Sis!)

My brother, David, on the other hand, wasn’t so interested in the rules. He wanted me to be confident, independent, and able to think on my feet (or, in this case, behind the wheel). His approach was all about problem solving and scenarios. He would say, “What if the road was slick and you needed to stop? What if you had to make a U-turn? If you needed to pass a large truck, what would you need to do first? What if you wanted to make a left turn? What if a school bus stopped in front of you?”

DeAnne and her brother, before he walked her down the aisle.One day, David took me out on a remote stretch of road. The county was building a loop around the city we lived in, but it hadn’t yet connected this piece of newly asphalted road with anything else. It was practically deserted.

David was patiently giving me instructions, asking me questions and critiquing my performance. As I drove down the road, a small plane landed right in front of us. My knuckles turned white as I gripped the wheel. He quietly told me to pull over. I blurted out, “But that plane doesn’t belong here!”

He reassured me that since the plane was bigger than we were, it had the right-of-way. The plane doubled back, turning right in front of us, until it came to an awkward, screeching stop.

We sat there, partly because we were blocked by the plane, partly because we were so surprised. Emergency lights came on and the local Sheriff came up to the driver’s side window of our car. He told us the plane was short on fuel and had radioed in distress. He told us to go on home so they could “figure out how to get that thing out of here.” My brother leaned forward and said, “Yes, sir.”

David just looked at me and said, “You don’t have to worry about practicing this particular procedure, because this will probably never happen to you again.”

Thankfully, he was right.

Yet, while I never have experienced this particular scenario again, I learned a lot of valuable lessons that I continue to use almost every day:

  • There are many types of people in the world, even in our own family. I am truly thankful for that,
  • Some things in life, like a plane landing on a rural road in the middle of a driving lesson, just can’t be planned for.
  • Some things should be planned for, like having enough fuel to reach your destination.
  • It’s important to know when you need to call for help, like when you are out of fuel.
  • Sometimes fear can stop you in your tracks, but when you have a goal, it is important to keep after it. It doesn’t hurt to have people you trust and who believe in you by your side.

Yes, I had more lessons and I learned to drive, but not that day…That day we went home with a great story to tell and with a new perspective on the fear that had stopped me before. After all, a plane landed right in front of me, so parallel parking would be a breeze, right?!

If you’re currently experiencing a situation where you’re wondering if you have enough gas to get to where you want to go or you feel your hands are gripping the steering wheel so tightly you can’t discern your next move, let’s talk. I save room in my schedule each week for free 20-minute sample sessions, and I’d be honored to play a role in helping you get to your destination.

Where There Is Poop…

Here is a story I heard several times from our pastor, Brother T. (I grew up in North Texas which is part of the Bible Belt. Brother T. played quite a big role in my young life!)

“Once upon a time there were two children. Each were given a golden key and asked to make a wish. Then, they were led down a hallway and told to choose a door that led to what they believed would grant their wish. When the children opened their doors, they discovered that each room was filled six feet high with crap. The first child threw down the key, slammed the door, and stomped back down the hall. The second dove right in and began digging away, hand over hand. ‘With all this poop’, she said, ‘my pony must be in here somewhere’.”

Well, I have to admit that I have been in a crappy mindset lately. Yep, me—the highly trained coach, the wife of a brilliant, supportive and loving man and the mother of great kids. Despite my many blessings, I was feeling like an impostor in my own life.

It really hit me when a friend texted me and said why she was thankful for me—for my parenting, the work that I do and the person that I am through and through.  I thought, “Wow, she must have sent this to me by mistake. Maybe she meant to send it to someone else.” I texted her back, but yep, she meant that text for me. I have to admit, I sat there more than humbled at my desk…actually doubtful.

You see, I’ve had the sinking feeling for decades that I’m not quite good enough. These are the main ruses I’ve tried to keep everyone (including myself) believing and in the dark about how I really felt on the inside:

1. Being perfect. Trying to be the ultimate college student actually put me in the hospital with exhaustion my freshman year. Trying to be the perfect coach made me feel like I had to have all the answers, when really, my clients have all the answers; I am just really good at asking the questions that unpack and dust off the insight and wisdom that was right there the whole time. It also caused me to not tell people when I was struggling, even my best friend, who I talked to about it recently. (That led to all kinds of deep conversations and a beautifully wrapped gift that you will see at the end of this article.) Being perfect is poop. Being real, genuine and imperfect deepens the relationships that truly matter, which is important when you are having what I call, ‘a bad hair day’ and need the support of a friend. Friends that can be around you when you are ankle deep in your poop are truly the “ponies” of the world.

2. Blending in. This is a really funny one. If you have met me, seen me speak, or bumped into me at a conference, you know that I don’t blend in. I am almost six feet tall with about a million freckles. My favorite color is red, I laugh really loudly, and I change my hair color like some people change socks. Trying to be invisible was like trying to stick a round peg into a square hole. Blending in was poop, it hurt. Being me, all of me, is really what I am called to do and what I coach and teach about day after day. If you are truly yourself, you have no competition….Personal brands and strategies are big ponies!

3. Blaming others. I have blamed a long list of people, events, organizations, and companies for the way my life, career and relationships have been at different times in my life. Blaming others was a great way to stay inactive, comfortable and small. I noticed that when I am in blame mode, I was also squishing my emotions way down inside. They are bound to pop out at some time, kind of like a beach ball you hold under water. The further down you hold it, the higher it will pop up when it is finally released. I have popped a number of times; doing that around the people you love or an unsuspecting stranger is poop. Learning your triggers, managing your weaknesses and finding a way through the rough spots with a sense of responsibility and dedication is a pony, not always an easy one to ride, but one that can take you very far in life.

4. Belittling myself. This is an easy trap for women to get sucked into: the kids come first, or the job, or the husband, or the parents. At some point I had to take a clear-eyed look at what I was tolerating. Then I had to choose my non-negotiables and stick with them. I thought, “I can tough it out, wait until things are calmer/better/richer until I do what I truly want to do.” I followed other people’s advice and put my big girl panties on and muscled through situations and did hard sells on people to convince them that I was “just fine”. I told myself that if I listened to the experts, then surely I would start to feel better about myself, but all I really did was get blinded by their tail lights. The light I was looking for was within the whole time. I know it sounds woo-woo, but it’s clear now that my gift is helping people find their own inner light. I don’t always understand where this gift comes from or even how it works, but I’ve seen it work too many times to hide it or run from it any more. Following so-called experts too closely got me in a lot of poop, but I dug myself out and found a way to take steps on my own at my own pace. I learned that it behooved me to listen to that inner voice….LOL, I couldn’t resist that pony pun!

5. Being busy. I have spent lots of dollars on programs, coaches, clothing, hairstylists, personal trainers and such, all so I could feel like I had made it. I have to admit, I love certificates, awards, ribbons and such. All the homework from all the programs kept me busy and were things that I could check off a list, but that kept me buried, safe and small. I finally clued in to the fact that all those times I got published or received sincere thank-you’s from clients weren’t a fluke. I really do have what it takes to do the work I do, be the person I am and create the life I want. But that clarity came from inside me, not from a certificate. Galloping is okay, but you should limit it to when it is needed or you find yourself running amuck in a dizzy, busy state, not a productive deliberate direction.

6. Being in control. OK, this tactic only made me look like, act like, and really become a bossy “B” at times. Have you ever seen someone who needs to control everyone around them, every minute of the day, trying to set everything up to be perfect, then falling apart when the outcome is not what they wanted? Yep, that was me. I have badgered others to be a certain way and act a certain way. I thank my kids for helping me break this awful habit – bossing people around really doesn’t work when you have middle-schoolers! In coaching we often say that control is an illusion. Truly you can set goals, prepare and work really hard to get something, go somewhere or achieve something, and then you can be stuck at the airport for 12 hours like I was recently and miss the gig entirely. Ultimately, complete total control is a pile of poop and doing your best and letting go of the rest is the pony.

(BTW, I still struggle with being bossy in the kitchen…and that is okay.)

Here’s what I know now: you don’t have to be perfect to have a great life. My struggles are important to get through because they make me better able to serve and support others. Besides, going through is the only direction possible. As my wise friend Madeline Eno says, “Your poop is very fertile ground.” (Which is a more colorful way of saying, “Your mess is your message.”)

Now, about that exquisitely wrapped gift my friend game me after sharing with her how I was feeling….what was it? It was a toilet bowl brush. Not just any old toilet bowl brush, but the fanciest, most expensive version money can buy. And the card said, “Keep looking for the pony!” It was a lovely, funny reminder to be gentle with myself as I continue my journey to finding the ponies. Thank you, Laura Morales, I feel fancy and imperfectly loved!

DeAnne with Toilet Wand

If you are struggling with figuring out how to get through the poop and find the pony,

maybe it is time to hire a coach….

Perfection is Overrated, Take it From an Ogre

As I am writing this today, I have a sick kid at home. Which means it’s not exactly a perfect workday. But it has provided the perfect opportunity to talk about an ogre I and a lot of people meet everyday – perfectionism.

Normally, my daughter is way too old and entirely too cool to watch kid movies, but today she wants something animated, some chicken noodle soup, and her momma nearby.

She chose Shrek. Since I find it hard to resist the story of the green ogre, the donkey and a red-headed princess, I watched with her.  As I did, I found myself making all kinds of correlations between the movie and what stops many of us — the struggle between being ourselves versus the idea that we have to be perfect.

I did a little singing along, too, but I will spare you that part.

You probably know the movie, but in case you don’t, here is the story: The ogre is really pretty happy with his life until his swamp home is invaded. He tries to save it by making a deal with the land-grubbing prince who wants to marry a princess so that he can become king.

The diminutive prince is bent on being perfect: having the perfect kingdom and the perfect bride. Worst of all, he wants it all without effort! Clearly there’s something offensive about his point of view, because at the end he is eaten by a dragon. (Oops! Spoiler alert!)

The ogre has a goal and sees a simple solution: Find a princess, deliver her to the prince, and get the deed to his swamp, all while becoming friends with the pesky Donkey. Yet along the way, the princess and the ogre fall in love.

Here is why the ogre is the real hero, and how I see some of the same lessons in life:

  1. You don’t have to be perfect to get a great outcome. The ogre didn’t have to change to get the princess to fall in love with him. Believe me, I have messed up plenty…I believe that my mess is my message, in that what I have been through is the stuff that makes me who I am and helps me serve others.
  2. Listen to yourself first. Shrek had a trusty sidekick in Donkey, but his first allegiance was to his own vision—that of a peaceful home. I silenced my gut a long time ago when I worked in corporate, because let’s face it, the VP didn’t want to hear the woo-woo stuff and there was no column on any spreadsheet titled “gut factor.” I was miserable. That’s why now I often have clients focus on what their gut is telling them when they are comparing to companies or career paths.
  3. Let nothing stop you. It is your path–run it or walk it, you just have to keep moving forward at the pace that suits you, and pick yourself up whenever some obstacle temporarily trips you up. The ogre was willing to fight for the home he loved and later to fight for the woman he loved. He knew what his non-negotiables were and stuck with it.  (BTW, the princess kicked some butt, too.)
  4. Ask for help. At the end of the movie, the ogre enlists his friends to help rescue the princess. They weren’t perfect–one was a moody dragon and the other was a real ass.  But they were right beside him even though the risk was big. Sometimes, we take for granted those friends that have our backs. I have a friend on my mind right now that I haven’t made much time for—I’m going to go reach out to her on Facebook and set up some time for lunch as soon as I’m done writing this.
  5. Know your enemy. In the beginning of the story, a band of villagers comes after the ogre with torches and pitchforks, not realizing that he is not the real enemy. Know your actual weak points – not your perceived failings – and figure out how to manage them (working with a coach is great way to figure out what is perception and what is reality). You have to know what you are good at and what you stink at to make the splash you want personally and professionally! After all, average sucks!

You can learn a lot from an ogre about showing up just as you are, not the perfect version of someone else. I know I did.

What Happened on the Way to Waco

Years ago, driving across Texas from my hometown of Rusk to Austin, I planned to have lunch with my sister, who lives in Waco.

Along the way, I got completely turned around and found myself in a small town called Mart. I was lost, late and feeling frustrated Map of Mart, TXwhen I stopped at a gas station to call my sister (this was way before cellphones and GPS). Now, I belong to a family so big my husband refers to it as the “the herd.” And like a good herd, we stick together. I knew my sister would be supportive. But I also knew that her first reaction would probably be to laugh and I really couldn’t handle that.

The first words out of my mouth were, “Please don’t laugh, but I am lost in some town called Mart.” She couldn’t help it, she laughed. I cried and hung up.

Yep, very mature, but that is what I did.

Standing there, lost, I had some choices:

  • Wait there until the gentleman who ran the small gas station where I had pulled over had the time to show me where I was on the map, where to go and get me on my way.
  • Follow the clearly marked signs to Austin and ditch my sister — after all, she had laughed at me and I now felt dumb.
  • I could remain lost. Just stand there and vent, rage, or cry.
  • Call my sister back.

I called her.

She said she was sorry and that she knew I was upset. Then she told me I was very close and guided me to Waco.

I got lost in my career recently, too.
Not too long ago, I was really trying to up my game as a coach. I was making changes, holding retreats and following my coach’s advice, when, bam! I got lost.

I was losing money and not loving what I was doing, even though my clients were doing great things. It felt just like being in lost Mart again. I was frustrated. All the signs pointed to familiar territory, but I wanted to go a different way and take things to the next level.

Then, just like in that phone booth at that gas station, someone I trusted laughed at my struggle. When I called my coach, she thought she declined the call and put her phone in her pocket. What I heard next was a muffled discussion of my personal life and what she believed was wrong with me and my business in great detail and with much laughter.

I was annoyed and felt dumb all over again. But, just like in Mart, I realized I had choices:

  • Stay lost and hurt
  • Call it quits and go home
  • Trust my gut and go my own way

Guess which one I chose. Well, I did indulge in option 1 for a short period of time, but then I got through that and went on to number three. Kind of like how I sat in my car for a few minutes and calmed down before I pointed my car toward Waco.

We all get lost from time to time.
Heck, I’ll probably find myself in some other version of that gas station parking lot again. It happens. The good news is, when you do find yourself in some strange parking lot, there are proven steps you can take to get you motoring on your way again.

  1. Find your bearings by giving yourself some time to think. Find your GPS—your Gut Positioning System. For some people, that may mean meditation, visualization or deep breaths. Oh, that is so not me! I have to walk it and talk it: I take a walk by myself—no dogs, no kids, no spouse. Then, I talk it out with a trusted friend or coach (I went and found myself a new one), sometimes quite loudly.
  2. Ask for help. Give up the idea that you have all the answers. This can be much harder than it sounds! But being smart would not have gotten me out of Mart. Someone else’s know-how can really get you out of a tight spot.
  3. Weed out the negative thoughts and plant something better. Try forgiveness. I forgave myself for getting off track and got back out on my own, training and speaking.
  4. Adjust your role. I had to allow someone else to guide me. Now, as a coach, I call myself a professional encourager, but sometimes I am the one who needs to ask for encouragement from someone who truly supports me.
  5. Sometimes you have to walk away from one thing to get someting better. I walked away from my coach the day I overheard her laughing about my situation and I went on to hold the best retreat ever. I found a new level of confidence and then the right coach to support me.
  6. Decide what is really important to you and make it happen. In Mart, I swallowed my pride and called my sister back because our visit was important. The day after that crossed-wires phone call, I swallowed my fears and went on to serve my deserving clients without the support of a coach whom I had once thought I needed.

After all, Mart is a nice place, but I wouldn’t want to live there.

10 Things to Do When Nothing Works

The promotion goes south. Someone else walks away with the contract you worked hard for. The project is canned AFTER you put in long hours. We all have those moments when what we want is just NOT working the way we planned.  That’s the time to shake it off and shake it up.

Here are 10 things I ask my clients to try:

  1. Take a break. A walk, a trip to an art museum or lunch with a friend can breathe new life into your long workweek, give you something to smile about despite that rejection or give you a fresh perspective when things are rough.
  2. Simplify. Baby steps count! I know people who have completed college degrees in three years and others who took seven years, but it’s the same degree. If a big leap isn’t possible, make smaller moves in the direction of your dreams.
  3. Talk to yourself.  Is there something else going on with your current plans? Do you have a fear or doubt about your ability to achieve that goal? Is that goal as important to you today as it was when you first hatched it? Is this really your goal, or someone else’s goal for you?
  4. Do it anyway! Honor your feelings and pay attention to your needs. After all, most people will understand if you have a family emergency or come down with the flu.  But there are some things that you just can’t reschedule.  To finish that project, pay those bills or send off that cover letter, you may just have to plug away even if it means keeping tissues handy for tears or screaming into a pillow.
  5. Ask for help. Turn to someone supportive or delegate to someone who specializes in an area you find draining or time-consuming. You can’t do everything or be everywhere. When my children were in diapers, I had a young woman come over just to play with them and get them down for a nap, so that I could do some marketing and promotion work from home.
  6. Give up. Well, not everything and not forever… let’s just say for an hour or two. Take a long shower or stay in your PJs and watch a sappy movie that will make you cry or laugh, whatever helps get you back in a productive mood.
  7. Take a (virtual) trip. Look at yourself from a helicopter view and ask from a distance, “Is this pesky detail really as important as it seems with my hands in it?” Or try a time travel filter. When I look back 10 years from now, will this project still deserve so much heartache?
  8. Sleep on it. There are times when I have stayed up late finishing a project, revising an article for a magazine or just plain old fretting. The next morning I am bleary-eyed and the report is riddled with mistakes from the late night hours.  It would have been better if I had gone to bed at a decent time and set my alarm a bit early.
  9. Check your resources. Are you trying to do too much with too little? There is a saying that goes, “If all you have is a hammer, you are going to treat everything as if it were a nail.” So, take a look at your resources, time, skills, knowledge, experience and manpower….Do you have enough of the right stuff? I often encourage clients to find or create a spreadsheet, revise their shopping list and update a skill, knowledge or experience through training or volunteering.  Of course, ask for help or mentoring if you need more muscle, brainpower or direction.
  10. Celebrate often. Now, I am not one of those people who believes that everyone should get a trophy or a ribbon. Awards should be for excellence, hard work and extreme effort.  With that in mind, I like to help my clients breathe in the joy of their best accomplishments (big or small) and feel grateful for their progress. We need to recognize our victories without the party or the trophy — with our own eyes and in light of what is most important to us.

Your life and career will ebb and flow, sometimes gently, sometimes in a wild surge. It is so very important to recognize that we are not in control of every outcome, and when life knocks us down, we must get back up, take a deep breath and take the next step.

Good luck and remember, you don’t have to make this journey alone.

Schedule a free Strategy Call to get the support you need today!

I Hate Waffling!

My family loves waffles, but I hate waffling!


You know that type of decision making in which you flip back and forth like the yummy breakfast pastry! This how it goes: you make a decision like, “This is my year, and I am going to get that degree, tell my boss what I really think or ask for that raise”. Then, you rethink it, change your mind, get worried about the risk, how will it look and you back down, the momentum fizzles out and you never get started. You waffle!

Everyone does it! Have you made a decision, and then decided it needed more thought, gotten into planning mode, instead of commitment and action mode. You created a so-so, kind of gray message or took wishy-washy action and combined it with some lukewarm effort. What came back to you? Was it gray lukewarm, wishy-washy results? You waffled, showed up gray in a world that has enough gray areas. When it comes to having a vision, a goal and getting into action there is no room to waffle. That is why I hate waffling and why I love what I do.

You see, as a coach I get to help people be their best selves, dream their biggest dreams, then I support them as they make those dreams come true, even when they want to waffle.

Have you waffled lately?

So why do people waffle?

Why can’t smart people get what they want out of life every single time when they have such great ideas?

When you have an idea, especially a new and innovative idea, your brain doesn’t know quite what to do with it. The newness of the idea feels and seems foreign to your brain, which likes things complete and concise. We even call these new ideas “half-baked”. So right away there is a need to shush that thought, take off the rough edges so logic jumps in and says, “Wait! Put the brakes on, this one needs a little more time in the skillet”. There are times when you need to do just that. Typically, some decisions take a second thought, like who to marry, is the swimming pool deep enough for diving? But, not all new decisions are that life changing or life threatening.

Here are three coaching techniques, free to help you beat the Waffling:
1. Trust your gut. Your first inclination is probably your truest decision, the one that is most in line with your life happiness. We often don’t let ourselves have the quiet moments to feel that intuition.

2. Don’t leave it up to luck. Take an action, big or small. I learned many years ago from my own coach that an action is the best antidote for stress.

3. Flip to the Facts. When fear rises up and seems larger than any possibility of getting what you want, it often has a much bigger “emotional shadow” than the actual results would be… So, taking time to get real about the facts by listing what you really know in the situation can be really freeing.

Stop the waffling now! Sign up for a limited time offer brainstorming session, Focus, damn it…With Love and Support.


Celebrating Mistakes

As a career coach, I spend a lot of time helping people with their “mistakes”. There are so many people that feel they have made a professional “mistake”, or have been given obstacles or problems that simply can’t be surmounted on what should be the straight and simple path to success. Realistically, there are lots of things that get in the way of that straight path to career bliss. Many people have detours, speed bumps, rocky climbs, or “long periods in the desert” as one of my clients coined, during their professional lives. Industries and markets are changing at break-neck speed and words like off-shoring, down-sizing and redundancy have become common words in corporate language. We, as individuals, are observing these trends along with our own shifting lives and priorities and finding the need to adapt, adjust and alter our priorities and our definition of success and tactics. All this leads to change and some mistakes along the way…..With that in mind and knowing that we all encounter “mistakes”, I wanted to share with you a list of 5 Reasons to Celebrate Mistakes:

5 Reasons to Celebrate Mistakes:

1. Mistakes get our attention; they give us a starting point for change.

2. Permitting mistakes allows us to take risks.

3. Noticing mistakes shows our commitment to quality, to making our life work.

4. We can use mistakes to practice. Look through the lens of your values.

5. Mistakes make powerful teachers and give us an opportunity to renew our values, learn a new value or new behaviors.


“Life is like a camera. Just focus on what’s important and capture the good times,

develop from the negatives and if things don’t work out, just take another shot.”



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Email: deanne@deliberatecareers.com