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How my second answer to a question changed how I saw myself.

Have you ever had someone call you out on how you answered a question? Not a "hey, that is the wrong answer" call-out, but that "hey, thanks for the BS response, but can I get the real answer" type call-out? Well, it happened to me this week. To be fair, I completely deserved the call-out, and I was still unprepared for it to happen. The good news is that because it was my coach who did it, I was more open to the call-out than I might have been if it had come from someone I trusted less or was not as willing to consider why they were doing it.


The initial question was around why I made a decision to take a job, and she asked me to talk to her like I was talking to myself, and I went right into the sales pitch. Yep, I sales-pitched myself. I did not even recognize right away that I was doing it. So, she literally had to call me out on it. She asked me the question again "why did you decide to take this job?" and asked me to again answer it to myself, and this time to drop the sales pitch. I did not give myself time to think about it (that would have sent me right back to sales pitches!) and I gave her the real, authentic answer.


Her response to my second answer was so different - she told me she "felt" that one immediately. It did not feel icky (my word) or like I was trying to convince others of a why that sounded "right". It was my truth and it was my belief about what I saw as possible, rooted in my core values and my superpowers.


So, what was different in the two responses? The first response was my response from the place of convincing others and defending against perceived judgment and a desire for acceptance. It came from a place of scarcity and insecurity. This is where I reminded myself that even when we achieve success, we still have work to do with how we talk about it and how we see ourselves. The second response was from a place of abundance and confidence, it was not about convincing others, it was about believing in myself.


Being in a space that allowed me to explore those thoughts and work through that experience is one of my most precious resources. When she challenged my thoughts and pushed me to drop the sales pitch, she gave me the space to shift how I saw myself. I stopped viewing myself from the perspective of others (which we are not in control of, no matter how much we try to believe differently!) and shifted my view to what I believed about myself (which I am in total control of, even if I don't always remember it!)


The power in that shift is undeniably strong - for me, it allowed me to drop the defensiveness, the insecurity, and to stop the emotional drain I was letting happen. It does not mean that those thoughts and feelings stop coming up, it just means that I stopped giving them airspace. It also gave me three things to consider as a leader when I talking with my team and my colleagues in this new job:

  1. Building trust is critical to allowing deeper, more meaningful conversations to happen and it is foundational to getting honest with ourselves and being vulnerable.

  2. Listen with curiosity. My coach could have heard my first answer and accepted it, and we would have spent time exploring the thoughts and feelings around what I said, and I would have gotten something from that. Yet, when she listened with curiosity, she was able to ask me different questions and we were able to go deeper much faster and get to a better outcome for me.

  3. Judgment is easy, so don't be lazy. We all do it, to ourselves, to others, it happens. We jump to conclusions; we write stories, and we can choose to focus on how we are broken or not good enough or a million other ways that judgment shows up. It takes some effort to stay out of judgment and the results when we do are so impactful. And, as someone who can easily whip out judgment on herself, this one is as important to practice with myself as it is with others.

The great news in all of this is that I have an amazing, challenging, exciting and expanding new job where I have the opportunity to practice these actions with myself and my team. And, I can show up as authentically me and trust that my second answer is the reminder that I earned this, I belong in this seat and my impact will be so much greater from this space.


How will you challenge yourself to get to the second answer? Even better, if your first answer is already in that space of abundance and confidence, how do you help others learn to do it?

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