Disappointed at not getting the results they desire. Frustrated because they aren’t loving what they do. Unhappy with the direction of their life. These obstacles cause clients to come to us to seek help in getting on the right track. Unfortunately, Kathy fit into all three categories. An insurance actuary by day and life coach by night, she just couldn’t see the runway ahead that led to the building of her practice without giving up the security of her day job. As she explained, with two small children and a family to support, this just wasn’t an option. Kathy was frustrated. She knew exactly what she wanted, but was stymied by unexplained inaction. She had a thousand good reasons her dreams needed to be put on hold. Yet she was finally ready to do something about it – and so we gathered for a day-long breakthrough session.

In the first hour, it became obvious that the culprit squelching Kathy’s aspirations was her own mind. Now I don’t mean to speak despairingly about the mind. After all, it keeps Kathy’s body running with little fanfare. At work, it allows her to analyze hordes of information, compartmentalize risk, and project estimated costs, taking into account the most nuanced subtleties. On a larger scale, the mind has created some pretty big hits – the electricity we use, the airplanes that carry us around the world, the music we love, and the iPods that adorn many of today’s earlobes. I suspect the mind will bring us many more wondrous things in the future. Again, I’m a big fan of what it can accomplish when it works in our favor. But, when it conspires against us – we’re done for.
In order for Kathy to understand how we’d work together, we first needed to do some myth-busting:

• Myth #1: If we just work harder and muster up more will, the results will eventually come. If it were as easy as willpower, Kathy would already have all the results she desired. Willpower comes from our thinking or conscious mind. But our unconscious mind is exponentially more powerful. Malcolm Gladwell mainstreamed this concept with his book Blink, where he offered evidence that split-second decisions can often prove more successful than prolonged, gut-wrenching decision-making. That’s because we tap into a vast storehouse of information that unobtrusively resides in our unconscious. Yes, taking action is vital, but we want to ensure that the unconscious mind is conspiring on our behalf so we’re doing the right stuff.

• Myth #2: Change takes time. Change can actually happen in an instant. Think about it – have you ever known someone who received a serious medical diagnosis and all of a sudden their outlook on life or what’s important changed dramatically? On one level it’s because they shifted what they value and believe and, as a result, they changed how they see and respond to the world. When we change how we view the world, our behaviors and emotions immediately follow suit. Kathy needed to understand that she could leave the office with a changed perspective and, as a result, the changes she needed to make in how she functioned in life and work would happen immediately.

• Myth #3: Having a clear vision of success and setting goals will make the path to success obvious. Kathy was clear about what the future looked like, but she just couldn’t see the path that would get her there. There’s the old adage that when the Why is compelling enough, the How will show itself. On some levels that’s partially true. But, unless you’ve taken the time to understand what you value about your dreams and what you believe to be true, the unconscious mind will only show you the how that aligns with your picture of reality based on your past.

You see, we are bombarded with over two million bits of information at any given time. Yet, our mind spectacularly filters the onslaught of data we receive so our senses won't be overwhelmed. It’s like we have an internal colander, if you will, and the holes allow the right information to seep through based on our definition of important as seen through our memories, desires, values, attitudes, behaviors, and beliefs. From there, it compartmentalizes further by taking that data and putting it into perceived associations and themes so our conscious receives just seven pieces of data, give or take a few. So, if you have a significant memory of a past business failure, your mind gingerly serves up all the evidence you'll need to prove you'll fail again. And, because Kathy's colander was perforated with holes made by fear-based emotions and limiting beliefs, her how strategy was driven by information that offered nothing more than dead-end streets.

Yes, success starts in the mind. Sure, we have to take consistent action and ensure we are moving toward what we want, but getting the power of the mind behind our dreams is critical and easy. In Kathy’s session we started with a values elicitation to understand what was driving her motivation and behaviors. Like many of our clients, Kathy quickly offered up clues that indicated that a few of her values were accurate attempts to shield or protect herself, as opposed to supporting and moving her toward her dreams. They were stopping her at the moment of contemplation. We spent the rest of the day reframing and changing her limiting beliefs, uncovering the natural strengths and resources which would support her new strategy, and wrapped up the day by re-eliciting her values to ensure we’d seen an immediate shift in the way she views the world. Remember, change can happen in an instant.

Kathy left our session that day feeling confident, secure, and laser-focused on her vision of success. For the first time in her life, she believed the path ahead would show itself if she took deliberate action every day. We’d accomplished our goal – helping Kathy to shift her perspective so she could see options that were right in front of her all along. Now, the rest is up to her.
I’m happy to report that Kathy continues to make significant progress. In her own words, “I am completely supercharged and know what I need to do to achieve my goals. I began seeing positive results in my life right away. My thinking has shifted in a way that supports me instead of sabotages me. My business is growing quickly now and I am no longer afraid to do what I have to do… I’m even looking forward to public speaking!”

Ah, the power of the mind. As you now know, Success starts there.

Author's Bio: 

Positive Change Network was founded by Susan Crampton Davis, who’s been coaching and guiding individuals to success for more than twenty-five years. Prior to Susan’s work at PCN, she enjoyed a rewarding career in Human Resources most recently as a senior leader at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. In addition to working at the foundation, Susan held various leadership roles at Getty Images, Amazon, HomeGrocer, Staples and W. L. Gore & Associates, Inc.

Susan received her B.A. from Evergreen State University, where she focused on Human Resource Management and Leadership Studies. In addition to being a seasoned coach, Susan is a national speaker with Vistage, the largest CEO organization, a Master-level NLP practitioner, a hypnotherapist, and certified in Time Empowerment®.

Susan brings extensive expertise and passion around career fulfillment, leadership development, and managing through personal change. She believes people do their best when they work from a place of personal strength, are moved into action through internally motivating factors and self-discipline, and always show up as their best self. This belief led to the creation of PCN and the dedication to create more empowerment, fulfillment and success in today’s workforce.