What got shamed out of you?


little kids     My mentor Steve Mitten brought this up recently: Ask yourself, what has been shamed out of you as a child?”     What quality or skill you owned at a very young age got stolen because some person of authority declared it of no value, or worse, punished you for being like that?

Where does this shame show up today in your life?

The most powerful example came from a friend who told me her exuberance and love for jumping as high as possible in the air got shamed out of her as a child. When she finally reclaimed it as an adult, it got stolen again – just after her first on stage appearance as an acrobat, her partner of many years, broke up with her.  “I did not deserve to ever do acrobatics again.”

My own discovery is something I would not have considered: what got shamed out of me was the passion for running my own business – quite odd but now I understand. Partly because people misinterpreted the lifestyle of my own entrepreneurial dad as one of stress and never being able to go on vacation – today I understand that for him it was all Play – work was just what he loved and therefore he had little need to “take a break”. Also partly because I had amazing people to work with who understood my need for independence and allowed me to prosper in a corporate environment. Special thanks to Tony, Charlie, Rim and Tanveer.

Now, let’s take that Shame to the next level: What quality of yours did you have to suppress in order to survive in less than optimal circumstances?

Working with women who want to find fulfillment in a new career shows this so clearly: in order to be the mother they aspired to be, they had to let go of a lot of things. Like kicking ass in a job, or making more money than their spouse. Like deciding how and what to spend their time with. Being footloose and fancy free is impossible when you have an infant or a teenager to watch over.

This is what we talk about in IT’S MY TURN – it’s time to reclaim what got shamed out of you.

I invite you to think about what your Shame is, and when you discover it, how about  letting it back into your life?

Would you like to be 40% happier?


Image I had a discussion recently about what makes some expats (here in India where I currently live) blossom and others get crushed under the circumstances of settling into a foreign culture. My folksy take on it was “who ever you are before you come here, India dials it up – if you are happy in nature you will have a great time here, if you are half glass empty type you will never feel at home here.”  Then I learned about some very relevant research on the subject, a study titled The How of Happiness.

University of California professor of psychology Sonja Lyubomirsky has researched thousands of men and women. Her key findings are:

50% of happiness is genetic
10% come from your circumstances (living conditions)
40% is by choice

This is exactly what a coach does: guide people to define what those 40% look like and enable them to pursue it. I describe it as finding your passion, living from your strengths and not worrying about your weaknesses, accepting that we are not meant to be compatible with every job or team. Not sweating the small stuff but focus on the things that are under your control.

When somebody calls me and asks “do you want to hear the good news or the bad news first?” I will inevitably answer:”There are no bad news. There are only good news and better news.” Today, my 16 year old son missed his school bus – at 7 am, for once I had no call scheduled and thought, ok let’s go for a drive.

So this was the good news # 1.

On the way to school, we had a nice conversation – any parent of a teenager knows how precious those moments are, when they want to talk without accusing you or the world. Then he blurted out: “I want to become a social worker.” To which I answered “That’s great news, you will be really good at this.” I could not really look at his face as we were driving thru Bangalore traffic (have to blog about that some other time) but sensed his jaw had dropped. He followed up with “But mom, I won’t be making any money.” To which I answered not too worry because passion will lead to success.

So you see, there are only better news. Hearing from my money-crazy son that he wants to first do some good before he heads into making his fortune made my day. Just like when he was little and thought about becoming a fire fighter, being a true hero every day of his life.

What can you do to access those 40% of happiness under your control? Here are some ideas for a great 1st step:

  • Commit an act of Self Love: indulge in something that makes you truly happy and while you are at it, remind yourself that you deserve every second of it.
  • Schedule yourself 20 minutes of Self Care to set the tone for the day. Some people meditate, others go for a walk, or sit in the garden listening to nature.
  • Try the 4 Corners of Happiness: check whether every day your are doing the following four things at least once: make progress on a goal, have a meaningful connection, give something to the world, and talk to a person that is important to you.
  • Or make up your own list of what feeds your Good Dog (There is a good dog and a bad dog fighting within each of us. The one that is going to win is the one we feed the most).