Ah, those days when you wake up and scrunchy your hair into an effortless bun. You’re bare-faced, wearing some stretched-out tank top from college. You take a selfie or glance in the mirror and think, “I look great!”
Then, another day you spend four hours getting ready like you’re heading to the Oscars. The expensive, fancy dress fits awkwardly, the makeup comes off harsh, the humidity’s wrecking your curls, and you just don’t feel confident. All that added effort for zero extra payoff.
Maybe this simple scenario resonates, or perhaps you can relate to trying too hard in an unhealthy relationship, dead-end job, or to please strangers on the internet.
Sometimes, putting in too much effort just isn’t worth it because the results don’t merit the sacrifice. Plus, it can deplete you, stealing time away from other things you love, like naps.
Welcome to part two of three in the series where I divulge more of the business evolution that my team and I have been working on behind the curtain. This week, I’ll reveal a taste of the “how,” including the triumphs and stumbles that happened along my journey.
As a gold star collecting, lifelong overachiever, I was prepared to put in sweat equity to level myself up during this process. But even the coach in me was (unpleasantly) surprised at the old ghosts that reared their ugly heads.
Today, I’ll share three shifts I made to overcome these roadblocks, plus three factors to improve your odds of growth success.
What You’ll Learn in this Episode:
The shame reflex
Negative feedback vs. your reaction to it
Walking toward discomfort instead of away from it
Ziplining between Zambia & Zimbabwe
The Dark Night of My Soul
Listen to the Full Episode
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Full Episode Transcript:
Hello. It is 6:30 am in New York, 1:30 pm in Johannesburg, and 6:30 pm in Bangkok. Welcome to the Expat Happy Hour. This is Sundae Schneider-Bean from www.sundaebean.com. I am a solution-orientated coach and intercultural strategist for individuals and organizations. I am on a mission to help you adapt and succeed when living abroad and get you through any life transition.
Welcome to the second of a three-part behind the scenes series where I am disclosing sort of this business and personal evolution that’s been brewing for quite a long time. Last week, in episode 262: The Next Big Thing, I shared the “why?” behind some of the core changes coming up, and that you’ll likely be seeing soon in my business. And today. I am sharing some of my inner growth shifts that were tied to some outward learning so that you too can go deeper as you set your goals and begin to walk through your own journey this year.
So, let me take you back to July. I signed up for a certification course to become a mentor coach. The thing is, I have a level of accreditation from the International Coaching Federation to be able to mentor other coaches. And people were already asking me if I would be their mentor coach to help them with their 10 required mentoring hours. And I thought about this, I thought, “Okay. I can already do it in terms of accreditation,” but kind of the overachiever that I am, I wanted to make sure that I would be doing it right. I want to do it right by my clients. I want to make sure that I’m giving them the best service and that everything they need to know about these standards and guidelines that the International Coaching Federation has set out that I can really support them.
So I was taking this very seriously and I wanted to feel really good about the support I was offering these other coaches. I personally have had amazing support for my own mentor coach, so, shout out to Hannah, who is this gorgeous mentor coach that’s giving me new life goals for what I want to be doing in my later years. So, in this time, I had a couple of choices. So I thought, “Okay, what can I do? I can do some self study, get savvy, in the accreditation standards and all the competencies and then support them, with over a decade of experience that I have coaching.” And I knew I would do a decent job. But knowing myself, it would come with over-preparation. And to be honest probably some self-doubt or second-guessing of whether I was giving my clients the best service possible.
So my other option was really, I’m going to say, I just was going to be lazy. I just take a course from someone who’s already figured it out and then we remove the self-doubt, right? And I could learn from their mistakes and follow their lead, their guide and I was like, “Yeah, bring that on!” Because it’s essentially what I do for my clients in Expat Coach Coalition. My intention is to help them fast-track their learning so there’s no double work or second-guessing. So, of course I chose this and here’s the thing, what I thought I was going to learn when I signed up for this, literally, now, I’m giggling at myself when I look back on the journey. I thought, instant enough, I was going to learn the details on the coaching competencies. And for those of you who are not coaches, just imagine like, I don’t know, seven, eight pages of competencies with detailed sub things to do and embody when you’re doing this methodology. So it’s a little daunting.
There’s a lot going on, but I just said, “Okay, I will learn how to support coaches in better demonstrating those competencies,” and in an even deeper way from the lens of teaching that to other coaches. Some tips and tricks on how to support them as well as on the journey.
Like I said, that’s why I thought it was going to happen. But what really happened is what I like to call: The Dark Night of My Soul. For Real. I did not understand what was really going to happen. And I would even WhatsApp some of my friends after my session, like, “Yeah, I’ve had another mentor coaching,” and my friends would know what that meant. It meant that I just went through some part of my soul that I wasn’t expecting to excavate.
So I really don’t know how this all happened. But I’ve done some thinking on what it was, why this was such a deep experience for me. And I think for starters, my mentor coach is extremely experienced and talented and I think my mentor coach has this talent of peering into my soul, or maybe it’s just that my soul is so damn obvious. I don’t know. But the process did so much more than help me support others in their coaching journey. It really brought up some deep stuff. And I think it was because it was coming at a time where my heart was wide open. If you’ve been following me for years, you know that I’ve been consciously practicing, putting my guard down and allowing more of myself to be seen and to simply just feel deeper into the highs and lows of life. And at that time, when I was starting the program, I was in the USA visiting my family after finally, having been reunited after two years of separation. At the same time, I was leading the Wisdom Fusion Project. If you recall, I did an eight-week learning experience with 20 women from around the world who spanned the ages of 20 to 70+ and during that time, I was witnessing amazing moments of courage and absorbing these gorgeous stories of wisdom and resilience.
Parallel to that, I was going through a huge growth period of my own and being challenged in ways I haven’t been before. So of course, I was entering this program, like I said, wide open. And what happened was small things would come up in the program and what would be something simple like, “Oh, okay. Yeah. I gotcha,” ended up tapping into things that I thought I had completely, maybe completely is a little bit too far, I thought I had moved quite far away from, right? So there was one example where we were in, I think a mentor coaching triad where I was practicing something and I showed up in a way that could be construed as maybe leading too much.
In coaching, leading could be as simple as hearing your client sigh and saying “When you signed, I saw relief. Tell me more about that relief,” instead of letting them fill in the blanks which would look like, “I heard you sigh. What’s going on for you?” You see the difference? The second doesn’t lead like the first example.
And that’s one thing as a coach, you want to be mindful that you’re not leading. And when it came up in the triad instantly, my whole body went *gasp*, “You’re leading, you can’t lead. That’s not good. That’s bad, you’re bad.” And it all happened so fast. I wasn’t surprised at the feedback. I was surprised at my reaction and at that moment, I realized that there was an old perfectionism reflex that came rearing its head.
Remember, I always refer to myself as a, “Recovering Perfectionist.” And I have really made wonderful shifts in that direction, but there was something as a natural reflex that came from that. Brené Brown says, “Where perfectionism exists, shame is always lurking.” So what happened in that moment, that *gasp* moment was this shame reflex, so fast, I could barely hear it until it stopped. So instead of perfectionism, I’ve worked on healthy striving, balanced, connected, grounded. So I was taken off guard at my physical reflex to this simple and very legitimate piece of feedback on one of 45 different pieces that I could have been given feedback on. Keep in mind, I was also given positive feedback on a host of other things in that hour but that is the one thing that stuck with me, right?
So that shame flash came when I was quote, caught, not being perfect. And I thought, “Wow. Isn’t that interesting? It’s been a long time since that shame reflex has come up,” and this is something I noticed in this experience that there were things that came up during my mentor coaching program that it wasn’t just like, “Oh, yeah, good, great tip. Great idea.” It would touch me in a way that was so much deeper than the constructive feedback.
I am going to step back here for a second. You might be asking, “Why am I sharing all of this with you?” Because we ALL have moments of self-doubt. We all have moments where our old reflexes come back. It isn’t about assessing how well we have or have not mastered anything (that would be like shaming yourself for feeling shame, which is a WONDERFUL spiral to get stuck into!) But rather NOTICE that you have discovered an area to heal, or a place to grow…and then get curious on how you want to work with that. Because our tendency is to just stuff that stuff down. To walk AWAY from it, rather than TOWARD it. And I tell you, even though it’s not always comfortable, TOWARD is always a better way to move through something than away. I will give you a few tips on how to do that in a moment, but let’s get back to what I was sharing.
And I realized that I was in a phase of being wide open, not just for learning but for growth.
So another thing that came up in this process was this idea of effort. My mentor coach caught, through my thinking, through what I was doing, that I was putting in a lot of effort. And we looked at it and effort is like a good thing. Again, the whole intention is for me to do right by my clients to serve my clients well, and they deserve that I put in effort. But this is how I caught it manifesting during this time.
I put in a lot of effort to get it right. And then, what was I being? I was being exhausted. I was like, wait a minute, thanks to this process, I realized what I was thinking, doing, and how I was being and it actually made me think, it might actually be serving my client, but is it also serving me? And if there isn’t that balance between serving the needs of myself, that it doesn’t serve the needs of my clients. I say this to my own clients all the time when it comes to how we show up in our lives, how we show up with our friends, with our family, at work. If we’re not also meeting our own needs, then any efforts to meet the needs of others are going to lead to resentment or depletion.
So I was chewing on this thought and again, there was this weird shame reflex, like, “Sundae, you teach this. You shouldn’t be doing this.” I was catching myself in a deep pattern and I think what it really wasn’t that I was reverted to an old pattern, I was digging deep to something that was still buried in my cells if that makes any sense? So anyway, I kind of let that be and was very pragmatic on this learning point. It was like, “Yeah,” the new goal for me, was like, “Okay now just being mindful of the effort and energy you’re putting into this course.” Because of course, I was working full-time at the same time, serving my clients, I’m with my family, I was traveling between countries. So I have to watch my energy.
We get back to South Africa, and we had the pleasure of being able to enjoy low COVID numbers during a window here in Southern Africa and we went to Botswana and went on a tiny three-day mini getaway. While we’re in Botswana, my friends had a crazy idea to go ziplining across a gorge between Zambia and Botswana. And so here I go. We just got off the plane, rock up there. I see this gorge that we cross and what do I do? I listen to the instructor, how to do, how to break, and I go like hell across this gorge. But what do I do? I also stop like hell. I pulled down so hard and almost crashed into the other guy on the other side and pulled so hard that it hurt my arm. And the guy goes, “I think you’re putting in too much effort.” I just laughed. I’m like, “Hello. Have you met me? That is what I’m working on.”
*NOTE: In the episode, Sundae mentions Botswana. While they were in the Four Corners on this trip (Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe – this gorge was actually in Zimbabwe, near Victoria Falls). We share this here so we do not mislead any of the adventurers among you to the wrong place!
So am I alone? Does it sound familiar to anybody?
So, what I did is I just laughed out loud and I don’t think he really got the irony of what I was working through. And so, the next leap across the next gorge, I really reflected on that. Like, “What would it look like to enjoy this journey across with all the gusto and also be present to pause and look at the view and not overexert myself?”
So I’ll be really transparent about how that went. There were like six or seven stints across this gorge and I think, by the time I hit five or six, I found that zone. The first few were not pretty and I give myself grace for that. There is something about that part of me of giving it my all that I love about me. I love that I give it my all and I know that others benefit from that. And in this whole process, I mean, we’re talking years and years, I have been working on giving it my all and also doing it in a way that is filled with as much consideration and love for me as it is of my clients. So it was like that journey surfacing again and had an invitation for me to go deeper with that.
So my coach challenged me to just do everything in my mentor coaching just effortlessly. Didn’t mean I didn’t try, it meant what can I do more effortlessly? And I realized that focusing on sending myself a little bit more grace and love was a great start. And what that meant is really being the woman who wants to do well for her clients without doing harm to myself, right? Like careening across the gorge and it was crashing into the guide. So what I did and the reason why I’m sharing that with you is because there’s a process that helped me go deeper that I know might benefit you.
So for example, I looked at my thoughts and my behaviors again. So in the second go with this beautiful gift of feedback, I looked at my thinking and I shifted my thinking to, “I’m going to strive to do well for my clients as I grow into the mentor coach that I am but I’m also going to make sure that I strive to do well for me.” Again, I am working a full-time business, taking care of a family, taking care of my health, and on top of this, I was doing this mentor coaching. Doing, what does that mean? Well, how can I translate that thinking into doing. It meant, I’ll give my time and energy while still keeping some for myself. So on the weekends when I’d reserve an hour to do mentor coaching. I made sure it was one hour and not two, and I checked in my energy and as soon as something started to feel like it was full of effort, I stopped. And I looked at, “Well, what can I do instead that would feel effortless?” And I made that shift.
And what does that result in in terms of, who can I become? It allowed me to be the coach, who can love on her clients by giving what I can without sacrificing something else, right? Can you just feel the energy, how that is so different? The first version of how I was showing up was that first go across the gorge of like careening down it, like Tarzan, and nearly crashing into the guide and almost hurting my shoulder.
And the second version after walking through what I was thinking, doing and who I was being was that sixth and seventh shot where I was literally gliding across this gorgeous gorge making it to my destination in great speed but without danger or harm to myself or the guide, and really enjoying the view. Enjoying the view.
So that, so simple, to pause and look at what’s operating and I encourage you to think about that for you, right now, whatever challenge you’re facing, whatever you’re learning, or where you’re wanting to grow. What’s going on on these three levels of thinking, doing, and being? The actual sort of practice, of reflecting on those three levels took literally no time and it saved me worlds of energy and time. Isn’t that exciting? And that’s why I wanted to share that with you. It feels vulnerable to share the backstory of what went on, but I also share that because I want you to know that I get it. I get how that feels to move forward towards something we really want. And then wonder whether that’s the best, most effective way, even though you’re reaching your goal, is in the way that’s serving you and others the best long-term, right?
And it’s true, the whole process of this mentorship coaching program is because of the excellence of the mentor and the quality of the cohort and the feedback that they gave on what best practices are, what we’re doing well, what we can work on, etc. So that is absolutely true. But another part of that, which we all have control over a few other factors.
And the first one is, I’m going to call it: Heart wide open. Are you truly open for a shift in the process? Is your heart wide open?
The second is: Are you willing to not just learn but grow? Again, in my episode, I’ll put in the show notes about learning versus growing. They’re different. Are you willing to go beyond learning and grow?
And third: Do you have the courage to explore how you’re showing up on those three levels of thinking, doing, and being?
I walked unexpectedly through what I jokingly referred to as: The dark night of my soul. And while it sounds intense and it was, I am so grateful that I did that because it was totally worth it. Because of the level of growth. Listen, I could have spent, you know, those six months learning. But because of that open-heartedness, that willingness to grow and that courage to look on those three levels, I spent those same six months at a level of depth that wouldn’t have been available to me otherwise.
And that goes back to an effortlessness of growth. The simple shift of inviting those three layers into that process made an exponential difference in the quality of what I learned, not just pragmatically but also personally. And, I’m sharing this with you and it makes me think of what my sister-in-law used to call: A soul striptease. It feels kind of like sharing a lot
but I just want to think about when you’re going to do something important, right? What are you ready for? Do you want to go beyond just learning that thing? Or do you want to go to a level that will stick with you forever?
And for me, I went in thinking that thing was mentor coaching but during the process, I felt like it brought out the worst of me in the best possible ways. Meaning
what are the things inside of me that still needs some healing? What are the things inside of me that still need some TLC, some attention? And what does it reveal as a strength? Because both of those things can be happening at the same time. And that all started with this simple journey of mentor coaching and ended up coming out, not only a better mentor coach, but a better coach, and a better person.
And this is what I mean by transformation. This is what I mean by the difference between learning and growth. Does it have surprises? Oh hell yeah.
Does it sometimes feel sucky? Oh, yes, it does. But we come out better on the other side in infinitely, more ways than we thought possible.
So quickly to sort of recap. One simple thing you can do to shift your learning journey to a growth journey is by simply focusing on the three levels. What are you really thinking? What are you really doing? And who are you being? And I hope that just by pausing and looking at those three levels this week helps you, as you carve out time for you and your goals this year. And I’m with you, I’m with you. I get it, right? But if you know me, you know that there’s nothing that I suggest you do that I haven’t done myself. There’s nothing that I suggest that I haven’t tested and seeing amazing results with myself or my clients. And this is just one of those things. It’s so simple, it could be deceiving that it’s not powerful, but check it out and see how it works for you.
So if you know you’re ready to dive in and you want to go a little further with your learning journey and make sure that it is one of growth, then let’s talk because if you haven’t heard about it already, I’ve got six VIP spots open for January 2022. A handful of them are 90-minute power sessions and two VIP half days. So a VIP day is split into two days so that you can get really crystal clear on what are your most pressing issues. And what are the most delicious goals that you want to work on this year. So really, to kick start your year and make sure that you go to the next level that will help you have that deep, sustainable, change. That change and transformation that I experienced that I didn’t even know was possible.
And for those of you who are coaches, this was just a little sneak peek at what will be revealed as new when my website goes live, the new version at the end of this month. So keep your eyes peeled for more of that.
All right, everyone. You’ve been listening to Expat Happy Hour with Sundae Schneider-Bean. Thank you for listening. I’ll leave you with the words of American poet and human rights activist, Bryant H McGill: “Whatever makes you uncomfortable is your biggest opportunity for growth.”
Enjoy The Show?