Simply Sather

what do you do well?

I wonder if coaches have the hardest time coaching themselves?

Though I’ve not officially held the title of “coach”, I’ve definitely found myself in many, many, many leadership roles. Many.

And in them I’m able to cheer others on, tell them how they’re winning, how I can help them win and encourage them when it seems there is no hope. As an introvert, I am then thoroughly drained and don’t have the energy or capacity to step back and hear for myself what it is that I could takeaway from those encounters.

Because truly – coaching others is also about your own personal growth and development too!

So when my most recent mastermind group discussion got to the topic of “self coaching” through negative talk, roadblocks and hurdles, I was challenged to ask myself “what I do well”. It was an important question because I needed to really consider why this seemed a difficult task for me and it was because I talk horribly to myself and don’t believe the good others see about/in me.

I’ve had such kind compliments paid to me, but the things that have stuck out over the years – the things that have lingered – have often been negative, hurtful, words that often stunted my growth. This challenge was one I took: to set a timer for 30 minutes and write out all of the things you believe you (yourself) do well.

Y’all. Do it!

BE HONEST.

First, let me say, it’s not as easy as you think. 30 minutes felt like a very long time for my very self-deprecating mind. But, it gave me a lot of time in reflective minutes ticking by that I was able to sort things out fairly honestly. For example, my husband thinks that I sing well. He’s told me many times. And I so appreciate him for doing that; Mister often lavishes me with loving compliments. But, I don’t think I sing well. I can carry a tune, but don’t think it’s one of my greater strengths.

I was constantly having to delve more honestly into whether I believed it was true. Just because someone tells you something – positive or negative – doesn’t mean you believe it’s true for you. Honesty was also important in the positives. I needed to give myself permission to brag on myself, to take pride in my strengths, some of the things that I just KNEW God has specifically wired into my spirit.

After about 16 minutes into it, I found myself looping around some similarly themed strengths and it made me smile. I grabbed hold of those things and they seem to be more rooted in doing the activity.

BE QUIET.

I was fortunate to be in our home for 30 uninterrupted minutes. I set my Apple Watch Timer (I have very few apps on it to distract me from the task at hand) and charged my phone a couple of rooms away from me, did not turn on any television but played a record I knew would put me into the right frame of mind to be quiet and listen; not a distraction but a support really – few words, folksy, calming.

If I’d done this when anyone else was around then I might have invited them into conversation with me and I needed to tackle this assignment on my own. It was imperative. I know that we are in so many varied seasons in our lives but it is of value to you to find make time to do this for yourself. Especially if you’re struggling with how best to strengthen yourself.

You can do it. Give yourself permission. Tell the other adult on your team what you’re up to, the value you think it’d bring to your soul (which benefits them by the way!) and ask them – very lovingly – to run zone defense to protect that time for you. You’ll be so glad you did.

BE ACCOUNTABLE.

Before I even began this challenge, I had a dozen folks holding me accountable to finishing the task. I’d set up the expectations and deadlines myself. I decided how I would share it and by when; that totally motivates me.

I chose people that I knew would want me to be successful – people who’d done it before, people who are also prioritizing their own growth and development and who would ask me about it.

To be sure I wasn’t throwing Mister for a loop, I emailed it to him before posting and sharing with my mastermind group and with all of you.

It moved me toward success!

___

If you haven’t done this before or haven’t done it in awhile, please consider it. For yourself certainly and perhaps a few people close to you who may also benefit from taking the time to explore and reflect on this question.

Y’all. It’s good for us. To take time and reconcile our thoughts. Our wounds, missteps, mistakes, bad choices, short tempers, outbursts, overwhelm and (what feels like) epic failures with what we believe and know we do well.

HERE’S WHAT I DO WELL (in the order it came to me)

  • Planning events
  • Lead, facilitate small groups + discussions
  • Pray
  • Develop, tweak, create systems, processes, operations
  • Remain calm in intense circumstances
  • Teacher/professional development
  • Asking questions that push clarity, stretch others toward vulnerability + growth
  • Encouraging women in hard times, messy mistakes, grief
  • Give dating advice
  • Reading: the Bible, for fun
  • Giving feedback, editing
  • Writing in my voice
  • Observing people and then anticipating or meeting needs based upon my observations
  • Making a space cozy + welcoming
  • Making things happen (dinners, getaways, girls weekends, trips, soul care retreats)
  • Cutting, staging flowers
  • Getting people to dig more deeply
  • Creating programming
  • Using Instagram to influence others
  • Advising young women, collegians
  • Put together my style
  • Organize care calendars
  • Bake well (most of the time)
  • Clean quickly in an efficient, smart way
  • Keep things tidy, at a minimum
  • Listen
  • Predict the outcome of stories (books, movies)
  • Able to be quiet, alone
  • Write thank you notes, penmanship
  • Try new things
  • Discern well
  • Travel
  • Apologize first, with sincerity/not excusing my wrong
  • Painting my own nails: toes + fingers
  • Speaking
  • Stop eating when full
  • Relate to others

I was able to record many things quickly and only scribbled out one thing that I wrote, but the battle in my mind was to continue to write things down while ignoring what had been said to me about these very things. I had to fight against the temptation to compare myself to how well someone appears to or seems to do that very thing and let it get on and remain on the list.

Along with weeks and weeks of prayer, conversations with trusted folks and a lot of pausing to dream, this activity brought me clarity in my next steps; something I’ve been praying about being revealed to me. It became clear when I realized that I do these things really well, that I had clarity in why other opportunities, positions, teams and relationships have not been successful; I either did not believe I did these things well, felt that my efforts were not valued or believed that I needed to stretch myself in other areas that are not strengths for me. I take full responsibility for that and now feel free to move forward working from (and building areas of weakness) this list, adding a few more things as I continue to grow.

I’m excited to better serve others knowing what I do well. I believe there will be a joy and filling that comes from delving into this opportunity that pleases the Lord and that encourages and blesses others.

Consider doing this activity for yourself. Once you’re done, circle back in the comments and tell me some of your things and what this was like for you.

Simply Sather

The power of a mastermind group

I’ve been blessed to be invited into a Mastermind group led by a free-living, thinking Christian woman we’ll call P. She gives of her time and self to facilitate the group and is currently leading about 12 women through a Mastermind group (11 weeks on Zoom) focused on the concepts in the book, “The Power of the Other” by Dr. Henry Cloud.

kindle app on my iPad mini 3

The book itself is very good, the concepts are challenging and also very compelling but the most powerful piece is the weekly conversation that we have with one another on Zoom. Every Tuesday afternoon at 1p CST we hop on the call, stop everything else around us and expect to share, listen, learn and grow.

P engages us in the group between sessions via Marco Polo – a free video conferencing app – and a private Facebook group (quite possibly the ONLY reason I’d return to that platform at this time – I haven’t yet, but m-i-g-h-t, maybe). She expects that everyone shows up ready to participate and will even re-write questions to push us up and over the walls and hurdles that are keeping us from moving forward toward whatever it is we believe we’re being called into.

When the calls began, I only knew P and two other women that I extended the invitation to (let’s call them S + T). Now, 7 weeks in, I’m feeling like this group of women are champions and cheerleaders for my growth and success – even though I’m not yet sure what that looks like…yet. Being in a Mastermind group with two other participants who knew me before we began is helpful in increasing accountability and success but also requires increased transparency. It’s great!

We are becoming more vulnerable, real and supportive of everyone in the group, no matter the original ties. And it is powerful y’all.

In my last post, I shared about how I speak to myself. And our latest Mastermind discussion, this very broken thinking was challenged. We were discussing a topic in the book: allowing those around you to struggle in their tasks (it’s good for us y’all – all of us) with support. I was quick and eager to share about how thrilled I am to walk with someone through struggles and challenges when they get to the other side of to a place they thought they might never reach. It’s exhilarating!

It has so much to do with asking them questions, making them feel heard, seen, valued. Smothering their doubts and fears with scripture and personal experiences (mostly things not to do). Stepping back to help clear the path toward their next step but refusing to actually take the next step for them or to even carry them across the threshold of that next step. That’s not my place. My place is in the mess – with them; most times, whispering into the darkness, the hopelessness, the fear. Other times shouting when they take those bold steps, encouraging, cheering, dancing and even weeping with them in those victories.

But, I was completely convicted when we were speaking and I realized that I don’t “coach myself” in the same way I coach others. Even when surrounding myself with positive, upbeat, cheerful and godly people, I can sometimes discount their words (and love) as they attempt to smother me and my fears, doubts, insecurities with Truth. It’s so hypocritical. And painful.

snapshot of my notes from the 10 July discussion

That I believe that God has beautiful, powerful, big things for the lives of the women I’m in their mess with but not for me.

So when one of the women in our Mastermind group mentioned learning to coach ourselves well – in order to continue moving toward what’s next for us – I knew this was something I needed to focus on.

In the next post, I’ll share 5 things I’ve done that are helping me coach myself through my broken self-talk toward health and readiness for the next step God has for me.

Simply Sather

The self-talk I’m used to

If the things I say to myself (that I would never dare say to another person – even if true) were put onto paper, I’d probably fill a landfill with all that garbage.

It’s a lot of junk.

Many of the roles I’ve served or worked in the past twenty plus years – mother, dean of students, office manager, church administrator, contractor, direct sales team member – I’ve worked with other people, for other people.

And because I did not often have the confidence to speak my mind to people in many of these scenarios, I spoke to myself.

my brain is moving too fast to smile

Me in my head. In my thoughts. In my experiences. Filtering out the challenging feedback or rough interactions that pushed me into further, deeper analyzation, into more critique, into more self-consciousness. Ultimately into more insecurity and self-doubt. Not because of the feedback but because of how it was delivered.

I can hear important things that are less than sunshiny about who I am, what I do, but it matters so very much how the information is delivered.

And I know I’m not unusual. That many others struggle to parse out negative or difficult things with quick and permanent turn-around. Without swimming in the dregs and after effects of being hurt or feeling misunderstood or in some cases humiliated. It’s happened to me a lot and I’ve been the offender too.

I specifically think back to my two years working as building administrator in a small school in Wisconsin. And though there are many stories or incidents where I’m certain I made a positive impact on the staff, parents and students at our campus, most of my takeaways from serving in that role are negative.

And to be clear, I’m not making that up. (I’ve stopped asking myself if I “imagined” that.) There were some very sad, dangerous and just plain wrong things that happened to, through and around me while working there. I acknowledge it and learned a lot from that those missteps and failures.

But the good. The benefit. The fun. The smiles. The growth. There was so much of it.

And while that’s true, I carry so much negativity about myself and how I served the people during my time that it is all I can recall or even consider. That I was too harsh. Too naive. Too black. Not black enough. That I was too focused on my faith and too critical of those who did not focus on theirs enough (in my opinion; though it was a Christian school).

So many things about that time we’re not conducive to leaving the end of a long day, week or term feeling great about the time put in or there person I was showing myself to be.

Incredibly fast paced (which I can do well in), high needs (almost 100% of our students were on the free/reduced lunch program) and an unbalanced organization (meaning many of the people in leadership did not look like/could not relate to the population they were hired to serve). It made for such a tumultuous work experience at times. So much so that I lost my best self in that culture rather than having and making time to have deep connection outside of it to pull me back to the center and to my best self.

It was a recipe for personal abuse.

on my way to a smile, but still working through some thoughts

With little time to stop the train and ask questions, change the direction (even though a decision had been made) or do what was best for people involved long-term, I found myself cracking under the pressure and subject to all kinds of attacks.

Eventually, I had to quit.

But while I was in it, we were operating on “business as usual” and acting like things weren’t wrong when everyone knew that it was. I kept quiet thinking it was the path of least resistance but mostly because I’d been beaten down as was believing that the negative feedback was the only truth.

So I chomped on it. Swirled it around and tried to pick the beneficial out of it but could not separate the good from the bad and ended up limping it all together and slapping a cherry (which I don’t even really like) on top.

I stowed it away. Let it create its own life in my head and heart. I allowed it to change my perception of others, of an entire profession and essentially myself.

Because here’s the thing…

You believe the mean stuff people say about you more than you do the positive stuff. Even if only 1/16 of what they said was true, you latch onto the whole thing – the comment, the interaction, the audience, things on the periphery and you take ownership of it.

I do this.

I then replay the stuff over and over. Embarrassed that I didn’t stand up for myself. Or that when I did speak it was as eloquent (or to be honest, as sassy and “strong”) as I would have liked. It cut right to my insides, to my soul. And I begin replaying it over and over and over, taking it to new heights. Expanding upon it, amping it up to epic proportions and the worst? Defining myself by it.

I am that mistake I made.

I am unlikeable because that person doesn’t like me.

I am not datable because I’m shy and they see it as something else.

I can’t lead because I take too long focusing on their heart than the numbers.

I’m a problem, rebellious, disrespectful because I ask question and challenge the status quo.

I’m unworthy because I’m not a good fit.

I’m harsh because I’m direct.

I am this or that or the other thing because someone outside of me touched a nerve, on some area of weakness that I thought I was hiding well but actually do need to develop in and now I’ve been exposed. Some parts of the feedback above may be true but I have allowed it to go too far.

I take it and become nasty with myself. Chiding, berating, just beating myself down to worse than what they expressed.

It’s so backwards.

I end up embracing the very types of things that I would not say to someone and heap them upon myself. And then morph myself to live up to those hurtful, horrible things – even without realizing it. If my girlfriend was dating a guy who talked to her the way I talk to myself, I’d tell her to dump him with no friendship options; cut ties and move on gurl. That’s what I would tell her to do.

But I’m turning a corner.

In the next post, I’ll share what it is I’m doing now to change the way I speak to myself. I’ll give you a hint…I’m not doing it alone.