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Monthly Archives: February 2010

Do You Deserve Your Great Success?

As a career and life coach for women, it’s not often these days that I’m surprised by women’s behavior. I know women – especially midlife ones – quite well, or so I thought.    But I must say, I’ve been rocked recently by a potential finding that’s emerging as I conduct my research study on Women Succeeding Abundantly

About the study, I’m conducting a qualitative research study with over 100 working women across the country, ages 25 to 75, who are experiencing abundant success on their terms, and are thriving and living joyfully.

Here’s the official description of the study:

This qualitative, in-depth study focuses on women who consider themselves highly successful in life and work, and have advice and lessons to share with other women about achieving success, fulfillment, and well-being and living with a sense of passion, power, and purpose.

The target audience resonates with the statement: “I know what I want in life and work, and I am achieving it on my terms and with great success.” 

The results of the study will be dedicated to expanding our understanding of the specific choices, actions, behaviors and thinking that help women across all generations achieve abundant success. A trade book and a variety of education and coaching programs will be among the offerings.

(If you’re interested in learning more or participating, please let me know!)

So here’s the thing – I’m getting the inkling as I move forward that women are MUCH more comfortable talking about how things are not what they want in their lives, than they are sharing about their successes.  They just don’t want to come forward and admit, “Hey, I’m really successful!”

A great new colleague of mine – Viviana Sutton of Work Her Way – shared with me that when Shirley MacLaine won her Oscar in 1984 for her role in “Terms of Endearment,” in her acceptance speech she was certainly grateful, but also said “Thanks, I deserved this!” 

I checked it out on YouTube, and loved it! (here it is:

Nuggets of Shirley’s speech…

“I don’t believe there are such things as accidents.  I think that we all manifest what we want and what we need.  I don’t think there’s a difference really between what you feel you have to do in your heart, and success – they’re inseparable…Films and life are like clay waiting for us to mold it, and when you trust your own insides and that becomes achievement, it’s a kind of principle it seems to me is at work with everyone…God bless that potential that we all have for making anything possible if we think we deserve it.  I deserve this.  Thank you!”

From that sentiment of her feeling of deservedness (which I think she offered a bit tongue in cheek), there was great backlash – in other words, people thought “How dare she say she deserves to win!”

Wow…I guess we better not even whisper that we’ve earned our great success and that it’s deserved – that’s simply not acceptable, particularly for women.

What I do know is that hundreds of women contacted me when I was researching my first book Breakdown, Breakthrough about their professional crisis and breakdown.  They longed to share their stories of challenge and turmoil.  It was healing for most to come clean about how things weren’t working, and talk about how they overcame or handled their crisis.    And I’m thrilled that they did – I know from direct experience that telling our stories of challenge can heal our lives (turning our mess into a message is a cathartic experience). 

But what about talking about our successes?  Can’t this be strengthening and empowering as well?  Can’t we access important parts of ourselves and be inspirational to others in the telling of our success stories, just in the same way as telling our tales of woe?

I’m thinking – but I’d love your help here — that this reluctance in women to talk about their success may have a number of contributing factors, including perhaps that women:

1) Don’t recognize or “feel it” when they are successful

2) Don’t want to sound as if they’re bragging

3) Have as a top priority their sense of connection and relationship to others, and don’t want to alienate anyone who isn’t feeling successful

4) Don’t want others to envy them

5) Don’t want to jinx their success by speaking openly of it

6) Don’t want to sound like they are “more deserving” than anyone else

7) Aren’t sure they really measure up to some outside standard of “great success” (“Wait a minute, am I really that successful?”)

The women who have come forward to tell their stories of great success in my research study so far are courageous indeed – I’m so grateful to them!  Their stories have been anything but conventional – they’ve been about vulnerability, surprise, risk, heartbreak, practicality, ingenuity, and being a “finisher” – going the distance through the challenges and fear.

So help me solve this mystery, would you?  Here’s my informal poll below – I’d LOVE your comments:

Kathy’s “Abundant Success” Poll:

1. Are you:



2. How successful do you feel in your life overall:

(  ) Very

(  ) Somewhat

(  ) Not at All



3. If you feel “very” successful, how likely would be to talk about that to:

Your family                   Very     Somewhat         Not At All

Your friends                  Very     Somewhat         Not at All

Your colleagues           Very     Somewhat         Not At All

A researcher (like me)    Very     Somewhat         Not At All

4. What might hold you back from discussing your abundant success?

 Thanks for sharing!!


 My mission in my work has just shifted this very minute while writing this – it’s now about helping women claim out loud their great success – to help them get over their reluctance to speak about it openly and enthusiastically, and to teach other women how to openly embrace the beauty, joy and fulfillment of abundant success. 


In the words of Shirley MacLaine – you deserve it!

What Twitter Really Can Do For Your Life

I follow slews of fascinating people through their blogs and Tweets, and today I read a compelling blog post written by Scott Stratten who runs his company, Unmarketing.   I simply love what this guy has to say!  I find his ideas and posts so interesting, authentic, funny, insightful and just plain old great.

Here’s his latest blog about What If I Didn’t Use Twitter:

I was moved to write a comment on his post, which is here:

Scott – I love your description of what you’ve learned and received from Twitter.  My guess is that you’re the kind of person who gets enormous benefits out of anything you dive into.  But that being said, there’s something about the Twitter experience that helps you stretch into wild new territories that you’ve been deeply longing for, but didn’t even know it!  It’s so damn powerful – to connect with thousands of people, to use your voice in new ways, to put your one-of-a-kind ideas out there, to develop a tough-enough skin so that you can shrug off the occasional snarkiness of others, and to feel the love and support of one-time strangers who become dear friends.  Love your work, Scott!

When people ask me “Do I really need to use Twitter,” I have so much to say about it that I don’t know where to begin.  So I’ll begin here…

Who Gets the Most Out of Twitter? 

People who:

1) Have something of interest to say

2) Don’t care to just blather on about the everyday minutiae of their lives (most people’s lives are boring – let’s face it!)

3) Enjoy giving as much as they do receiving

4) Have a generous, kind spirit and can support others’ thinking and work

5) Understand that using Twitter effectively is about building relationships and is not a “get rich quick” scam

6) Get the fact that what you put into something directly correlates with what you get out of it

7) Don’t use it as a way of talking about how great they are, and how they can make you rich

8 ) Do use it as a way to become better, bigger, smarter, funnier, more helpful  – more of who you really are at your core

So, if you’re wondering what you can get out of using Twitter, I’d say this:

With an attitude of openness, curiosity, commitment, and generosity, you can get:

–  New friends

–  New ideas for books, writing, projects, seminars, talks, etc.

–  New interests and passions

–  New customers and supporters

–  New ways to see yourself and your life and work

–  New coping skills for when strangers write you and say your ideas stink

–  New like-minded colleagues to partner with

–  New directions to pursue that light you up

–  New ways to make money

–  New, helpful insights about yourself – what you’re great at and what you’re not so great at

It occurred to me that what Twitter has brought us might have some parallels to when television first emerged on the scene –  it opens up a fascinating new avenue through which you can connect to a whole new world of ideas, feelings, perspectives, teachings, directions, along with passionate, inspiring people who have so much to share and give.  That is, if you’re selective about what you choose to focus on.

So have at it, friends!  And as Scott Stratten says, I LIVE for comments, so please leave yours.

Ease – Are You Blocked From Experiencing It?

Someone (I can’t remember who unfortunately) recently shared with me the saying, “Turn your mess into a message.” 

I simply love that – perhaps because without realizing it, I’ve been doing that for a full eight and a half years since 9/11, and since I woke up and decided to transform my (messy) life and career.  I had, and still have, a good deal of mess to transform into messages!

This week, I had a powerful shifting realization, thanks again to my dear friend and financial consultant Denise Hughes, that one of my most intractable “messes” is around my resistance to “ease.”  Ease is not something that has been a part of my professional identity or life.  In my twenty-seven years as a contributive professional, there’s been nothing easy about it. 

Sure, I’ve achieved things I’m very proud of and excited about, and I’ve met many of my large goals.  But still – I can’t say that any of it came “easily.”  No way, no how.

This week, as I was exploring the idea of ease and why I resist it so fiercely, I had a very painful memory flash.  It was of my early teen life.  I recalled clearly how someone close to me used to say to me (and to everyone else) in a very critical and hateful tone, “Everything comes so easily to Kathy.”  This person used to brandish those words like a weapon, as if it were a terrible thing to have an easy life, and that it simply wasn’t fair, because her life was hard.  The implication was that God shined his light on me, and cruelly bypassed her, leaving her thwarted and miserable. 

As I tossed that memory around in my mind, I experienced the real ‘aha’- I realized that all these years – my whole 49 years on this planet — I’ve internalized the belief that if things come easily to me, then I don’t deserve them.  Wow…

Believing I’m not deserving of ease has two damaging aspects –  first, deep down, it tricks me into believing that I don’t deserve all the good that I’ve created or attracted, and 2) it traps me in a fearful place, worried that others will judge me negatively, hold me apart from themselves, be envious of me, and think I am not worthy of what I have.

Well…I can tell you that as of this minute, I’m DONE with my resistance to ease.  Done, gone, finished.  I’m shifting it consciously.  Be gone!

Here’s what my spirit knows to be true – When things come easily, it means you are in the flow – of life, of yourself, of your soul and spirit.  It’s not a bad thing that things come easily to you.  It’s supposed to be easy.  When you have ease, it means that you have consciously and completely given up your resistance to ease, and your attachment to struggle.

Each day, I receive an inspirational email message from a neat group – Mike Dooley’s TUT Adventurers Club – and recently got this message worth savoring and embracing:

“Kathy, it’s supposed to be easy.  Everything is supposed to be easy.  Everything is easy.  You live in a dream world. You’re surrounded by illusions, and the illusions change when you change your thinking!

Tell yourself it’s easy.  Tell yourself often.  Make it a mantra.  Eat, sleep, and breathe it.  And your life shall be transformed.

It’s supposed to be easy.”

(From Mike Dooley’s Notes from the Universe)

I’d add this – if ease is not your experience, there’s most likely something blocking you from believing you deserve or want ease.  Please take the time this week to dig deep and explore what might be keeping you from believing you can and will have ease from this moment forward, and that having ease is what you deserve.  You are strong enough to have ease, and to handle the envy of others who don’t. 

Ease is beautiful, perfect, and as it should be, for you and for me.  Let’s allow it into our lives, together, now.

What Do You Really Want – a Job or a “Calling?”

Knowing what you want in your life and career is the most important step to achieving it.  So what do you want – a job or a “calling,” and are you prepared to get it?

In coaching people to achieve a true breakthrough in their lives and careers, I’ve observed (and also personally experienced) the powerful impact of asking yourself the question, “Am I longing for a job or a calling?” – and answering it with brutal honestly.

Several months ago, I read a very thought-provoking article by Michael Lewis, columnist for Bloomberg News, about the difference between a “calling” and a job.  He had some powerful insights about the differences. 

Here’s the article (it’s certainly worth a read, especially in today’s times):

A Wall Street Job Can’t Match a Calling in Life

What struck me most were two intriguing concepts:

“There’s a direct relationship between risk and reward. A fantastically rewarding career usually requires you to take fantastic risks.”


“A calling is an activity you find so compelling that you wind up organizing your entire self around it — often to the detriment of your life outside of it.”

I couldn’t agree more.

Many people dream of having a fantastic and thrilling career, but in essential ways are not willing to do the work (either externally or internally) to achieve it. 

What is required then?  Here’s a list of traits and characteristics that are essential to having a fantastically reward career (or following a calling):

–  Deep and ongoing commitment (this is not about wanting – this is about committing to having)

–  A wellspring of energy

–  Frequent and continual leaps of faith and hope

–  Self-esteem and the confidence to know that your dream is achievable

–   Openness to learn from your mistakes and to get help when needed

–   A healthy dose of reality about what’s necessary to succeed on this path

–   Abundant risk-acceptance and tolerance, and the ability to proceed amidst instability

–   The belief that you can’t live without pursuing this career

–   A very tough skin

–   An ability to “power up” (gain strength, skill, confidence, and self-mastery) as you expand

–   And finally, strong boundaries that allow you to speak up for yourself and protect yourself from others who would say, “You’re crazy and stupid to do this.”

I agree with Michael that neither a job or a calling is better or worse; they’re just different.  “There are costs and benefits to both.”  You may have a job you enjoy (or can live with) yet know that what makes you feel passionate and powerful is not your job, but outside interests and experiences. 

Or you may feel you have a calling, and will do anything to follow it.

The key to a fulfilling life is to follow your authentic path (not somebody else’s).  Figure out what that lights you up on the inside, and motivates you to be all you can be, and do it!

Michael’s final words hit the mark – the critical question is not what the world can give you, but what you can contribute to the world, in a way that fills your soul and brings you great joy while doing it.

So ask yourself today:

1)  Am I longing for a job or a calling?   Which path will work best for me and my life?

2)  If I know I have a calling, am I ready to do what it takes to pursue it?

3)  And where will I get empowering guidance, support, and help to follow my calling successfully so I thrive in the process (rather than be crushed by it)?

Either way, having a great job or following a calling is a choice.  But making this choice consciously — with commitment and aligned action — is the difference between a frustrating, lack-luster experience that fails to satisfy, versus living full out – and expressing your true spirit each step of the way.


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