Webinar Replay - Requisite Courage: How to Make Brave Decisions in Business & Life

Rachael Sampson: Well, hello everyone. I am Rachael Sampson, director of Key@Work and Key4Women programs here at KeyBank. And I want to welcome you to our program today. I am excited to have with us Kris McGuigan, founder and principal owner of Professional Courage. As a board certified executive coach, keynote speaker, and corporate trainer for the nation's most prominent fortune 500 companies, Kris has helped countless leaders step up and stand out in the marketplace. In her book, The Requisite Courage: How to Make Brave Decisions in Business and Life, is a science-based approach to fear management that helps you to overcome self doubt, take more risks and get results. The Requisite Courage reveals the fear abolishing strategies that helped Kris unlock her true potential and make powerful changes in her life and the lives of her clients.

 Today, we're going to explore the practical everyday concept Kris outlines in her book, and how you can put them action to take on any fear or obstacle in your way to achieve positive change and live a life with courage. I'm excited to share that the first 125 registrants who join the call today will receive a complimentary copy of Kris's book, and all other attendees will receive access to her ebook. So Kris, congratulations on your book and thank you so much for your generosity and supportive Key4Women.

Kris McGuigan: Thank you, Rachael. I'm so unbelievably excited to be here with everyone today.

Rachael Sampson: Oh, thank you so much for being here. And Kris, but before we dive in, I just have to interject and tell you I thoroughly enjoyed this book. And I really admire your vulnerability and sharing and bravery about exposing your personal experiences along with those from your clients, and pop culture, and business to really help demonstrate that real life example of change. I appreciate that it really gave me an opportunity to get to know you better on a personal level and what makes you so successful. I also like to say I love the courage and action exercises throughout the book. It really allowed us as leaders that time to reflect on the learnings and take immediate action. It truly has that workbook type feel to it that we can always use and refer back to, and it really helped me to continue to connect those dots. So it was much needed. And candidly, when I started reading it I could not put it down. So-

Kris McGuigan: Well, I'm so glad to hear that. Thank you.

Rachael Sampson: Absolutely, because when I think about even from my perspective, I like most of our guests really deal with a lot of change. We always hear the adage of nothing in life is more constant than change. Change is inevitable, but we experience so many different types of change sometimes all at once, whether it's personal or in our professional lives, if it's self directive like a career change or going after promotions, starting a new business. But then there's also the unexpected change that's put on us, whether it's job loss or relationship conflict. So before we dive in, I would just love to hear from your perspective, tell us more about your journey and how it led you to want to write this book.

Kris McGuigan: How much time do you have? Facing tragedy from an early age, I think I haphazardly learned to find the good and change and really ride that wave of disruption that you were just talking about. Death, divorce, followed by career transitions, and startups, and reinventions. I often was able to choose my change before it was chosen for me, but that didn't make the journey any less difficult or scary. And with each passing change, I found that it required these unprecedented levels of courage. And I wished that someone had given me a map, something to help navigate those dark spots and really shine a light on the self actualization milestones along the way. So I then created one for other people. The Requisite Courage comes from my heart. There is a lot of vulnerability there, and it's so that I can show I'm walking the talk. It really is intended to serve as a roadmap for finding professional and personal bravery in the things that matter the very most. This book paves the way to living in alignment with authenticity and audacity.

Rachael Sampson: I love that. And in your book you talk about so much and you introduce the three seeds of courage, clarity, constancy, and conviction. I'll start with the clarity first, and can you tell us what's clarity as you think about it? And why is self discovery so important to getting clarity?

Kris McGuigan: Sure. So clarity is the understanding of who you are and what it is that you want. I think it was Lewis Carroll who said, if you don't know where you're going, then any road's going to get you there. We have to have an objective. There's got to be an end game. And self-discovery allows for a deep understanding and more importantly, a connection to your value structure. When I think about values, I describe them as sort of this purest part of who you are that no one has the ability to change, not your boss, not your coworkers, not your neighbor, or your partner, or your children. Literally no one can mess with your values. It is what you hold dear. And the beauty is that when you're clear about your values, then your values really begin to drive your decisions. Your decisions drive action and action drives results.

Rachael Sampson: I love that. And when we think about just those values, sometimes we'll put ourselves in a box which can create traps. When we think about that, are there any self-imposed traps that we should be aware of or other things when we think about defining what those values actually look like, that might hold us back from getting to that purpose?

Kris McGuigan:  Oh, absolutely. I believe that we are without a doubt our own biggest obstacle. Particularly when it comes to high achievers... And I think it's probably safe to assume that most of the people on this call fall into that category, I think we become so concerned about the path that we were originally taking, maybe even we're sent upon that it becomes hard to remember that we are autonomous human beings. We are self driven. That we do have free will and that we can stop, pivot and try again. Part of the problem with following a previously drawn up plan is that we forget that we can throw it out. We can burn the plan when it stops serving us. So those self-imposed traps are limiting beliefs that we hold onto for far too long and can really stand in the way of what we're truly capable of.

Rachael Sampson:  And I love that. And you said a few key words in there about those self-imposed traps and burning the plan. I love that. But that can feel so scary. I know I'm a planner, a writer, I've got the memo pad. I don't know how many out there can relate to, we're going to write it down, we're going to plan it, we're going to replan it. So then how do you deal with that from an emotional, mental space of I've got this plan, I thought this was how it works. Unfortunately, especially when you're dealing with people it hardly ever works out that way. But how do you adjust to that? What are some of the steps that we can actually do to feel okay with burning up that plan?

Kris McGuigan: Yeah, so certainly we all have faced situations where things didn't go quite as planned. In fact, they rarely go as planned. So the best thing we can do is understanding that we can take all of the value, all the good stuff and the learnings we had from the bad stuff up until this point, and then apply it to a new situation. When we're feeling out of alignment and sometimes that can be a pit in your stomach or perhaps an intervention from a loved one, anything lack of motivation, those are things that are telling us... It's our body, it's our mind communicating that something's not right, we're out of alignment. And the longer you stay out of alignment, the farther away we're getting from our actual goals, getting from our purpose. And so, recognizing that and being willing to say, you know what? I'm just going to put this piece to the side, pull upon the value that did come from with what we've known thus far but then move forward with new information.

Rachael Sampson: Absolutely. And I like that the listening to your body, because sometimes we're not quiet enough to actually hear whether it's someone actually speaking to us about it and using that information, let alone our own bodies. So you talk a lot about those action, items and tools. Do we have any that we can employ right now in our lives that our attendees could really use to better understand their strengths, drive that purpose, be able to listen to themselves, identify those core values?

Kris McGuigan:  Absolutely. So obviously we talk about a lot of them in the book. But there're incredible objective assessments that many individuals have already experienced and they're available right there on the marketplace. Myers Briggs, an oldie buddy goody, Enneagram, the Keirsey inventory, so many great tests and tools out there. But consider that right now your own subjective view can be incredibly enlightening, simply by having a conversation with a curious companion. Or even journaling, if that's more of your style can help to bring forward some of your preferences, your tendencies, the themes that come forward in your life. So you would pose questions to yourself like what do I like to do the most? And what do I do when I'm not thinking too much about it? What are the things that people know me for? What kind of advice do people ask me for? And what would I do if there were no limits on money and time? Asking and then listening to the answers.

Really evaluating the answers to those questions can help you to pull out some keyword that point in the direction of where you'd like to go next in your career or even your life. They can tell you a lot.

Rachael Sampson: And I like the idea of thinking about some of those courageous conversations and asking for that insight in journaling and all through that self discovery process. How often is the typical amount of time that we should be spending in that self discovery, reflecting and of course reevaluating.

Kris McGuigan: Not a secret, I'm a big proponent of self assessment. Self-evaluation should be an ongoing practice. We should be constantly reflecting and reevaluating where we are in life. And one of the easiest but biggest things that you can do is to really identify in a regular basis whether or not you feel like you're in flow. So we've seen a lot of popular authors write about this, when do you feel like things are coming freely and just flowing through you and you're at your best? Do you feel that way? Is your life moving in the direction that you're looking for? Do you feel in alignment? And if not, and we talked about some of those physical indicators before, then it's time for a change.

Rachael Sampson: Okay. I like where we're going. Now, let's add another layer on that with conviction. Now as we shift to that conviction, how does the purpose and values serve you here? And what do you need to do to move past, again those fears that naturally creep in? And how does that now interplay with clarity?

Kris McGuigan:  Well, certainly a large question that we take a good amount of time in the book to answer. But what I would say is that when we have the clarity around who we are and what we want, goals, objectives, it helps us step into the unknown. The fear of the unknown comes up so often with the clients, in my own life as a major roadblock, especially when we're looking in the face of change. But that particular fear and the fear of change overall is actually not a result of the uncertainty that surrounds us. It's generated from a lack of clarity that we have within us. Here's how I know that. Consider that nothing is certain. We live every single moment of every day with a total lack of uncertainty, right? There is technically no guarantee of what's going to come forward from one minute to the next.

But we have sort of prompted by society this natural inclination to obsess over what we can't control. You're talking to an OCD person right here. Consider instead that it's this high quantity of variables that cause us to be in a level of discomfort. And the more that we reduce those variables by focusing on who we are and what we want, then we can more confidently step into the unknown.

Rachael Sampson: That's interesting. And I like your take on the variables and limiting the number of those, because I think a lot of times when we think variables we think other people or situations, not actually directed at self. And the mindset that we have to have to deal with that change before it's coming because we know some change is coming, we just may not always know what that is. So-

Kris McGuigan: Exactly.

Rachael Sampson: Yes. And with mindset really being the key to cementing that conviction. I love that by the way. So how do we move... We hear these buzzwords, fixed mindset versus growth mindset, but I'm not sure we always talk about how do you actually make that shift? It's one thing to say it. It's another thing to do it. So can you tell us what are some of the steps that we could take to reposition our thinking and our approach to build up our confidence?

Kris McGuigan: Sure. I completely agree, Rachael, it's one thing to say, another to do. Although I do think that saying it, recognizing that you might have a fixed mindset even around a particular area of your life, would certainly be the very first step. For those that need clarity or we can all use the refresher, in a fixed mindset we essentially believe that our potential is predetermined. That if we're not smart today, then we're not going to be smart tomorrow. If we're not wealthy today, then we wouldn't be wealthy tomorrow. It comes from this idea of limited potential. Whereas a growth mindset comes from having this belief in abundance that there is more than enough in the world, more than enough wealth and intelligence and kindness that every experience we have, whether it is good, bad, otherwise can present an opportunity to step more into your full and authentic self.

So at its simplest form, we could look at this in terms of how we typically consider a failure. Failing is commonly a term that we use when things don't go as planned. Well, we've already talked about rarely do things go as planned, particularly over the last three to four years in our country, across the globe, the pandemic. So when we're giving ourselves this inner dialogue, this inner conversation around how we screwed up because we didn't accurately predict something in the future, who can do that? So there's lots of variables outside of our control. But instead, if we think about every unexpected outcome as this chance to learn and grow and become more of ourselves, as an opportunity to kind of pull forward. Think about what went well, what didn't and then apply that learning to your next situation. The more that we learn, we then trust in ourselves to gain the learning, the more it builds our self confidence and then our self approach. We have more trust to keep trying new things and it all becomes cyclical.

Rachael Sampson: I love the idea of it being cyclical and the experiential learning and not even we think about failure. I love the idea of taking that off the table, maybe redirection, misstep, new zigzag or whatever that looks like, and focusing on what matters. I know I talk a lot about with our teams here, is not chasing the shiny new object and focusing on what really matters. And that absolutely resonates with me. What's important versus what's urgent, that's in my professional and personal life. And I'm sure we've all had experiences where we set out to accomplish something. We have a specific task or goal in mind and then we get distracted. If we find ourselves in that distracted, maybe discouraged, maybe lonely place even if we're surrounded by a ton of folks, what are some things that we can do to get back focused, to get back on track and figure out what matters most so that we can really ensure that we achieve what's needed to reach our goals?

Kris McGuigan: So I think that can be really personality dependent. So we all respond to challenges and then rejuvenate, come back from those challenges differently. But again, having a clear understanding around what the goal is, where you're going is absolutely paramount. I think building an accountability system, whether that's a partner that you check in with, a coach you're working with, or just a timer on your phone. There's an approach that can work with you that really brings focus and accountability to what you're doing, and you need to find that approach. I've worked with a business coach from the very start of my company, and while she's brought forth some really incredible ideas that helped me brainstorm innovative solutions and interesting approaches, at the end of the day she helps me the most, which is getting out of my own way. And I think that's where we're looking for the most focus and accountability. That we not procrastinate, that we not lose faith in ourselves, that we not go off course when even the smallest thing doesn't go as planned.

So building a foundation of accountability, whether that is the people around you or the approach and process that you take to your work, can really help you to build in that focus.

Rachael Sampson: Oh, I love that. And even the idea of what you said about that focus and getting out of your own way, that is one of those things. It sounds so simple sometimes, and I think even in our business lives we talk a lot about getting things out of our team's way so that they can be more efficient and spend time on the things that matter most. But I don't know if we always take a step back, even me included I will be the first to admit to say, what am I getting out of my own way? I'm focused on getting things out of other people's way, but what does that look like for me getting out of my own way?

Kris McGuigan: And Rachael recognizing... I didn't mean to jump in there, but recognizing-

Rachael Sampson: No, that's okay.

Kris McGuigan: You mentioned before we're always thinking about what's outside of our control. Recognizing what's inside of your control can help to answer that because so often we say, well, but I can't do anything about that. And so I'm just going to continue to be frustrated by it and complain about it and be distracted by it. When we're not really stepping back, objectively taking a look and recognizing that while you maybe can't change everything about that, there are variables that you can shift or move to work in your favor.

Rachael Sampson: I like that. So we started off with clarity. We went to conviction. Now we think about constancy. You talked about setting those reminders, calendaring things out, and constancy really being that quality of enduring faithful and dependable attributes. Something I absolutely strive for but again, I will be the first to admit in full transparency that I struggle with at times. And hopefully am not alone out there, so comment and let me know if I'm not. But you outline those four pillars of constancy. And I really want to spend some time here because I think sometimes we can identify, we know our values, we've got our conviction, but how do we pull tight to that? What are some of the tools that we can do to actually stay on track with our goals and what we're trying to set out and do?

Kris McGuigan: Absolutely. So the four pillars which I'm sure we're going to dive into, but as outlined in the book the framework we give is doing above thinking, manageable above monumental, pausing above pushing and support above setbacks. You mentioned the constancy piece. For me, that was such a critical part of my business because it's about understanding that things are going to ebb and flow and that we can't just do all the time. Invariably we're going to be spending some time thinking, and that's good. So it's not about only doing, it's about making sure that you're prioritizing the doing above thinking. That you're prioritizing a manageable workload and manageable steps over those monumental pieces. That there's going to be times that you experience setbacks, but you need to prioritize having a supportive environment above that. So it's really about understanding that there's going to be missteps. I like to call them turbulence.

We all fly on planes, many of us have flown on a plane, have experienced that turbulence. And when it happens, the captain communicates with the crew and the crew lets everyone know what's going on, and that we can kind of sit nicely in our seats and wait for a few moments and we expect it to pass. And this doesn't cause everyone to completely shut down. They don't turn the plane around and take it right back to land in that origin spot, rather we all accept it as a necessary evil to reaching new heights. And if we look at our own missteps, the things that don't go as planned as turbulence, a necessary evil to reach new heights, then we have this ability to prioritize and put things in the right space and then give our energy, our time, our emotion to those that matter the most.

Rachael Sampson: That's so true. And I love quotes and different adages of, we are very good at building the plane as we fly. That agile approach to figuring out, how do we adapt? And that was an incredible analogy as someone who just spent 17 hours in the airport about a week or so ago.

Kris McGuigan: Yikes.

Rachael Sampson: Yes. That we did adapt like, okay, I want to get home and I want to get home now but I know eventually I'll get home. So it's figuring out, okay, well, what did I learn along the way? Well, Rachel learned that instead of taking red eyes to get home, that to give myself some grace and go the next morning because you never know what's going to happen. And as funny as that may be, it's really fundamental. It sounds easy, but it was difficult because my values always says my family's important. I need to be there as much as possible as soon as possible. So if it takes me traveling all night long to get there, I'm going to do it. But then the space like you said, to be agile is giving self grace and understanding what's most important. And most important is me being rested by the time that I get there to spend that time.

So thinking about those pillars, how do we take those emotions and tie them to that constancy more. And give ourselves that grace so we can continue to do that, because it wasn't easy to change my future flights to do that.

Kris McGuigan: I'm sure not. I know for myself, and this may not apply to everyone. Not everyone on the call is necessarily going to be a parent, or have a daughter, or perceive that role, that responsibility the same way that I do, but for me what was really life changing when I faced some of those same thoughts that you were having like, well, part of my priority is my family. And I need to be there, and I need to be present, and I need to go to all the events, and I need to say all the right things and make all the right decisions. As I started to think as my daughter headed into her teenage years, everyone send me good vibes. And I started to think about what her life would look like later on when she was in my position, when she became a mom, when she decided to have a career and try to juggle a lot of things at once.

Did I want her putting that pressure on herself the same thing I was, or to be a real role model? Did I want her to show again that personal grace toward herself and just kind of step back and say, the right thing for me right now is to go to a hotel and sleep so I can be with my family and be fully present tomorrow. And when I started to shift having to do for her and instead do what I would want her to do, what I would hope for her and her future, it made a lot of those decisions much easier for me.

Rachael Sampson: Absolutely. And I do have to give a special shout out to Colleen Dugarte, our senior initiative development manager for Key4Women. She is absolutely that person that raise your hand to say, you're crazy. Give yourself a little bit of grace, love and that sounding board. So thank you Colleen for that. I do want to just veer just for a second. You talked about the teenager and we did get a question that says, do you have any recommendations for a book that teenagers could use to cover some of the similar topics that you talk about? I think really needing to focus on these topics on our youth is important as you mentioned, and would love to hear your thoughts on that.

Kris McGuigan: Absolutely. So I realize this sounds like a sales pitch, but my teenager has read my book. And I will point out that for those of you that have had access to some of the insider information, some of those changes, some of the challenges that I moved through in my life very directly affected her in ways that she hadn't prior to reading been aware of. And so it was a very conscious decision that I had to make to think whether or not this resource would be more valuable, versus the harm it could potentially do by kind of opening up her point of awareness. But so long story short, I do think that the principles in this book apply across the board. If that seems like too much for a teenager to tackle or they just don't want to do reading outside of school, which my son falls into that category certainly, there's also a workbook that comes with the book itself.

You mentioned in the beginning, Rachael, that there's some actionable steps that you can take, we call them courage in action. And just sitting down or offering two year teenager, maybe they don't want to do it with you. Some of the questions and exercises that come at the end of the chapters, can be a helpful way for them to start to get into that thinking.

Rachael Sampson:  Oh, that's a good idea. And we probably could use the book to sneak it in at the dining room table.

Kris McGuigan: Right.

Rachael Sampson: [inaudible 00:27:18] those questions without telling them they actually came from a book. If you say a book to some teenagers, I know mine they might run. But-

Kris McGuigan: Exactly.

Rachael Sampson: But it gets to the point of figuring out what works for you and what's manageable. And you talk about manageable above monumental and making it easy to say no. So what does that look like in practice?

Kris McGuigan: Sure. So this actually builds upon this idea of not waiting until things are perfect, which I'll speak for myself, is a very big challenge for me as an entrepreneur. We paralyzed ourselves waiting for perfection, but perfection's a fallacy. So sometimes we just need to move forward with the best information that we have at the time and trust in your own ability to be adaptable, and fluid, and change, and flex, and improve as things move forward. So if we really start to take things at a granular level, we can build steps that almost are so small that they almost feel like a ramp, because the incline is so insignificant that we have no reason but to move forward. When I look at a giant step that I have to leap in front of me, that is overwhelming. And in many cases I can come up with every excuse under the sun as to why I can't do it, or why I shouldn't, or why it's not right, or what if I get there and it's not what I wanted.

But when I see these small very manageable steps, it changes my perspective. An example, like when I prepare for a speech, the idea of writing a 10 page script just completely blows my mind. Think about writing that book, the idea of writing a single chapter let alone putting the entire thing together. So maybe I'm just going to start by writing down some topics. Maybe I'm going to take it all the way down to just, I'm going to pick up the phone and call a friend about the main topic for 30 minutes. Maybe I'm just going to set a timer for five minutes and brainstorm in my own head. As small as you need to make those steps so it's so easy you can't say no. Marathon runners do not run 20 plus miles on their first day of training. If you're already a runner, you start small to get warmed back up. And if you've never run in your life, the idea of even walking around the block might be too overwhelming.

So just set a goal that one morning you're going to wake up and just put on your running shoes, that's it. That's all you have to do. Put them on, you can take them right back off and get into bed. That becomes something that you think you could accomplish successfully, then you know that you have made your steps manageable enough that you can't help but perform.

Rachael Sampson: Well. I like that. And I'd love to just stay here for a minute. When we think about, there's a lot of folks that are changing careers right now, changing profession, changing teams, starting businesses, growing businesses. When we look in a professional sense and you're contemplating change or what it is that you want to do aspirationally, how do you start with figuring that out? What are some of the questions they should be asking themselves when thinking about some of those decisions that could have an implication on your life, could require investment, could require going back to school? What does that look like in action?

Kris McGuigan: Sure. So we frame out what I term courageous career pathing, and it follows a three step in ABC approach. We say that the beginning always starts with that assessment, which goes right back to what we're talking about in the clarity section. Getting clarity around who you are, your value structure. So some of those questions go back to our earlier part of this discussion around what do I really love to do? What have I been most proud of in my career? What have I received the most accolades for? What am I known for that I love doing the most? When do I find flow? Asking those questions or having a strategic partner ask those questions and just listening for the answers, different themes are going to come forward. Are those themes around strategy? Are they around facilitation? Maybe it's around being able to manage the culture of an organization or of a team, the strategic direction.

Starting to pull those seeds from the different values that you hold, the things, the tasks that you find important and the environment that you like to perform those tasks in can help to make sure that you're making an evidence based or a values based decision about what might be next for you. And once we have some of those ideas, we start to brainstorm what those keywords look like in the marketplace. So if I really loved strategy work but I also had an affinity for IT, I would literally go on to whether it be Indeed or a LinkedIn or anywhere that they had job titles. I'm not looking for an actual description to apply to, and I would just type in technology... What did I say? Strategy, and then just see and start to read some of the job descriptions that are coming up, so that you begin to expand your mind and your understanding of what's out there and what's available to you.

 We then go through kind of a decision making process so that you're vetting these different new brainstormed ideas against what we would consider your non-negotiables. So how does this new concept of life apply to how much money that you need to make in order to run your household. And whether or not it's going to allow you to continue to pursue other activities in your life, things of that sort. All of that is encompassed in this kind of assessment section, which is getting really close to what you value, what's important to you, what you love to do, where you find flow, and how you apply that in the work world, if that's in your own business or that's under the umbrella of an organization. And then after that assessment phase is together and tight, we then move into the B or the branding phase, which is where you have all of the written and verbal tools you need to actually promote yourself in that new space.

For an entrepreneur this could be your positioning statement, your brand statements, your website, et cetera. For a professional that might be your resume, your LinkedIn profile. And then finally we go into C, which is around connecting to the people and the opportunities that are really going to secure you that next step. Again, as a business owner those are the clients that you really want to work with, organizations you'd like to partner with. And as a professional looking to shift careers, how is it that you are really kind of understanding your network and talking with other people who are in your target area? How are you meeting with decision makers, preparing for interviews, salary negotiations, all of that good stuff? So I propose that courageous career pathing, moving forward with intention takes assessment, branding and connection.

Rachael Sampson: I love that. And courage being so important in those ABCs as we think about it, and just getting that done and pausing. I know you talk about pausing above pushing which is a lot of that grace in action too. How do we become mindful of that and making sure we are pausing above pushing, when we are going through those transmissions and challenges and reevaluations?

Kris McGuigan: So look, I built my brand on consistency and I get a little bit emotional when I talk about this. I built my company, my brand on this idea that you had to be presenting the right way every single time, all the time. And that was exhausting, and it wasn't realistic and it didn't exactly set a good example for my daughter about personal grace or recognizing that sometimes you're not able to bring your 110% to the table. Whether that is because you have a conflict at home that takes priority or because you just don't have the energy on that given day. And so what I learned over time was that it was really more about constancy, this idea of endurance. I define constancy as consistency with resilience. This understanding that you're going to build missteps into the plan, that you're going to expect turbulence so that you're able to take care of you, so that you can take care of the family, the business, the friends, the partner, whatever else is in your life. That endurance is bringing your best step forward.

And then when you're unable to be your best, recognizing that the very next day you can keep coming back and trying again because it is in the long game. It's a marathon not a sprint. That really will get you to that final stage.

Rachael Sampson: I like that. And I love the term constancy with resilience, really thinking about that of being flexible, being agile. And to go back and unpack something you said of just being tired, how do we especially us as moms, aunts, wives, mothers, daughters, teachers during the pandemic, school lunch ladies, all of the above, business owners, so many titles that we hold dear. One thing that we think about or sometimes don't think about is what does burnout look like? What does tired look like? What is all of those things when we think about I don't have the energy, or maybe I don't want to at this point? How do you overcome the one? How do you recognize when you're in that space? And two, how do you actionably overcome those feelings that maybe creeping in subconsciously, but impacting really your life and how you think about yourself and the world around you?

Kris McGuigan: So in my experience for both myself as well as clients that I've worked with, usually by the time we recognize burnout we've already been in it for quite some time. So I think being open to recognizing that it's not... I don't want to say normal, it is not healthy to need to take a nap every day at two o'clock. If you're that exhausted, it probably means that you're packing too much in. So sort of looking around at some of the other individuals in your life who seem to be thriving, who don't seem to carry the amount of stress and weight that you do. And comparing or being able to say, if they don't look as tired or they're able to enjoy their weekends and enjoy time when they're present with the children, and I don't seem to have that same flexibility. So there might be some decisions that I'm making intentionally or unintentionally, that are feeding into that.

And then coming back to the accountability piece of things, I think getting right down to having, in this case I do think having a partner to have that discussion with you is really important. And it should be someone that you trust, but it should certainly also be someone who's willing to be very direct and authentic with you. I often tell people that if you're looking for a cheer... People who are coming to me around coaching topics, if you're looking for a cheerleader I'm not the right person. I can be incredibly empathetic, but if I think that something is not in alignment in your life, I'm going to tell you that. So you need one of those people, and you have an open conversation with them about where you're at and where it feels as though you're being drained.

And they can sometimes with that outsider perspective, because it's so hard when we reach that place of burnout to see what's going on inside of ourselves but certainly around ourselves, they can offer you that objective view to kind of step in and say, well, I noticed this. I see this. You just mentioned four times your son's football games. Is that a source for you? What's happening there? Is getting him to practice too much? And if so, how do you set up a system so that your carpooling with someone else, or whatever it may be to move it to that action. But I think having a really honest conversation with someone who can bring that objective view, is going to help you understand what level of burnout you're at. And where maybe some of the low hanging fruit to start to address some of your concerns can be.

Rachael Sampson: I like that idea of having that support system that you can have those candid conversations with, is just being so important in our strive for success in our lives. So when we think about that and it being one of the most critical pillars, everybody needing support, is there a way that we can figure out who are the best folks to be that support system? Or what if you feel like you don't really know who that person is, how do you go about deciphering or finding or having that conversation to ask for it?

Kris McGuigan: Absolutely. So one of my favorite topics. And I don't want to dismiss the fact that there are lots of environmental factors that can support us to do our best. The time of day that we're working, the workspace we're in, how much noise is around us, all these different pieces, those things are important. But from an interpersonal level, it takes things to a whole different atmosphere. Research tells us that interpersonal support is the single biggest factor in our success. And so having a support system, your own personal entourage if you will, can make all the difference. When talking with career minded professionals, certainly business owners fall into that category for me, I often encourage people to have their own personal board of directors. And this can be in a really formal setting, or it might just be an informal way of saying, look, I need someone who I can call if I have a marketing question. I would like to have someone on speed dial when I need finance support, someone who can maybe help me understand or look differently as an operational issue.

But also recognize those might not be the categories that you need. Maybe you have enough individuals inside of your company or inside of your life who can handle those pieces. And instead, you're looking for more soft support. You're looking for someone to call when you want comic relief. You want someone that you can ugly cry to, someone who's going to help celebrating your successes and raising a glass, or that you call after you sign a big deal and can just pat you on the back. Whatever type of support system you are after you want to... And I would encourage you to truly write it down, sort of say, who would I consider on this board of directors? Who do I think are some of my closest members of the entourage, that I can lean upon and I know I can reach out to? And then maybe just make a quick note as to what it is that you can go to them for.

What do you consider them the point person of? And then when you look at that list, what's missing? Do you have lots of people that can help you when things are going well, but maybe not so many people who are there when things start to go rough and you need a different type of support? As you begin to identify where those gaps are, then you actively go out and try to fill them. You can do so with your peer group, with friends, with family, and sometimes as I mentioned, it can be a really informal setting of just reaching out to someone, giving yourself the opportunity to express gratitude for how you see them in your life. And let them know that you'd like to hopefully call upon them even more for that very same thing. So Mary, I have always found you to be this ray of sunshine.

 You always seem to have an upbeat and positive perspective. I'm going through a lot as I'm starting to grow my business and move through my career. I would love to know that I can call you if I ever need some of that sunshine. And I want you to know that because I'm a very practical decision maker, if you ever need help just walking through the objectives of a decision, I'm happy to be that person for you. So just having a very informal but very direct conversation of wanting to pull that person into your inner circle, and let them know that you plan to rely upon them. But that you're willing to offer the very same back, can help you start to feel like you're not just sometimes reaching out to people or scrolling through the phone list when you need to call someone. But instead you know who's going to be in that speed dial and who you're going to reach out to given what the need is.

Rachael Sampson: And Kelsey asked the question from our audience, what's the first step in building this board of directors? Say you're at ground zero with nothing, how do we get started?

Kris McGuigan: Sure. Kelsey, so just pick someone that you want. I would truly, whether it be in a professional or personal setting, identify someone who you admire. And that doesn't mean that the person can't be, but it doesn't mean that person has to be above you in the organization or who you'd like to be in three to five years. Just anyone in your world that you admire, that you look to and would love to emulate in a certain aspect. And then have that be your first target. So if there's someone in the organization or a fellow entrepreneur that I think does an incredible job in the digital marketing space and I want to learn from that person, I'm going to identify who that is if I don't already know. I'm going to take a look at the peers and say, okay, who is always getting credit for this?

Or who seems to be the most successful in this space? And then I'm going to start following that person, whether it be on LinkedIn or other social media without being a stalker. Actually following them if they're in the office, kind of taking a step inside their cubicle and just saying, hey, I would love to rack your brain for maybe the next 15, 20 minutes. Can we grab coffee at some point? I want to learn more about the success that you have in the digital marketing space. I would love to continue to learn and hopefully aspire to do some of the things that you've done. Would you be willing to chat with me about it? So just find someone, anyone. And if you're starting from scratch, there's all kinds of different resources and support people that you need. So select someone that you feel comfortable letting them know that you admire something that they do, or some aspect of their professional life that you would like to learn more about. And hopefully start to use them as a thought partner around that space.

Rachael Sampson: Yeah. So one thing that you mentioned earlier was in your coaching conversations that you are not the yes person. And if that they want someone to more cuddle them, you're not it. And so sometimes there's tough conversation, and Tegan, I hope I pronounced that correctly, asked us, how do you overcome not taking those conversations too personally, especially in those instances where it might be a tough conversation?

Kris McGuigan: So I think Tegan when you're getting difficult feedback, it kind of goes back to some of what we talked around, and this certainly feeds into the fear of rejection, fear of inadequacy when we think about recognizing how we validate ourselves. So we talked earlier about making sure that we're accepting failure not so much as failure, but as an opportunity to learn and grow and step more into our potential. I also think recognizing that what you think about the way that you're presenting to the world, what you set as your own goals and how you feel like you're navigating toward that, will always mean more than anyone else in your space. Whether that is good or bad. So a specific example is, even if a boss or a mentor approaches you to give you a pat on the back about a recent project that you were able to really deliver on. While it's fantastic to just receive that feedback and be grateful for it, what should make you feel good is how you feel about the project that you just performed on.

You want to get used to relying on your own sense of validation in order to feel and determine what you think the outcome of something was. And that certainly takes practice. It's not easy to do. It's something I wrote about, but we often write about the things we need to learn. So that's something I continually try to focus on, whether I'm getting good feedback or negative feedback, I take that. I want to accept that constructive criticism. I want to put it through my own filter to make sure that it's something I think is applicable. But ultimately I, Kris, gets to decide how Kris performed and how Kris feels about that performance because my own sense of self automatically trumps anyone else's sense of who I am.

Rachael Sampson: I love that. And we spent a lot of time talking about that support, what that looks like, tough conversations. Can we flip that around, not that we want to take on any more jobs than the 20 that we already have. But what does it look like in play for us to be that support system for someone else?

Kris McGuigan: I think that being a good support to someone else is bringing the attribute that you feel they can most benefit from to the table. So notice I didn't say what you like to give people the most. I didn't say what you think they need, not necessarily what they need. What is that person communicated to you they are looking for, and then try to help them get into that space. And also be willing to say if that's not your space. Again, I'm not a great cheerleader but I know people who are great cheerleaders, so let me introduce you to them. But I think giving authentically of yourself, being real and raw with someone else and oftentimes just sitting with them when they're going through a change, when they're going through a moment. And let them drive that conversation and just listen to where they're at. And make sure they understand that it's okay if they're not in a great space right now.

I think especially when we hold on a lot of different roles, we rush ourselves to get through the grief, whatever the loss may be, whether it's a loss of a job, an actual family member, or just the loss of a plan that didn't go the way we wanted it to and now we're watching it burn. Allowing someone to sit in that space, sharing the safe space with them, and just being in the moment with them, providing your support, your listening, your acknowledgement that it takes a minute to sort of pause and be in that really crappy space before we can all just pick up and start moving in a different direction can be really valuable. So one answer... I guess that was a two sided answer. One answer is when they ask you for something, listen to what they are saying and give them what they are asking for not what you think they need. And then if they are not being direct about what they need, what type of support they are looking for, then sit with them in a space and listen until you can hear what they're after.

Rachael Sampson: Wow, that's really insightful and an incredible amount of knowledge and insight that you've shared with us today. And I so appreciate you being here and your generosity and sharing with your book and of course, your approach to problem solving. So before we move into our Q and A, I would love to just quickly, do you have a kind of lightning round of client success stories that really demonstrates your approach in action?

Kris McGuigan: Client success stories about this particular approach? Absolutely. So given the group that we're with here, one of my female entrepreneurs comes to mind. So Shannon is a small business owner, and I met her actually through a mutual friend a couple of years ago. She was running a consulting firm and like so many of us, while it appeared on the outside that she was absolutely thriving, I think on the inside she was drowning. In addition to all of her personal responsibilities in her business, she had lots of clients, but her margins were really small. And she personally articulated that she felt like she was working 80 plus hours a week, that she had little time left for her son, which is actually what drove her to leave her corporate position in the first place. So she tried to get out of the role that she was in and build a business so that she'd have more time for her family, and then she wasn't getting that time.

So as we stepped deeper in the conversation together, Shannon started to acknowledge a need for some more streamlined processes and she needed some more boundaries. But most of all, she discovered that she needs to increase her fees, but the fear of rejection in doing that was really high. Like what if all my clients leave me? What if they're not willing to pay more for the work that I do? And so we talked a lot about that specific fear. We called it out, we owned it. I helped her own it, and then applied the framework of the Requisite Courage to really replace that fear, that limited mindset with a new mindset. One that is full of growth and position Shannon to start to take back her schedule and her value. And so today, happy to report Shannon found her brave. She moved on, she moved up. Rather than losing clients, she actually honed in on her target market and the people that she enjoyed working with the most. She raised her fee and now she makes more money in less time.

And colleagues in her industry actually seek her out for advice on how they can streamline operations. And they look for her transparent and accountable responses to things that are going on in the industry. And she absolutely loves being in that position, and I'm sure her son really appreciates it as well.

Rachael Sampson: Oh, that's incredible and so timely because I know so many of our business owners are struggling right now with inflation, and the cost of goods and expenses increasing and our margins getting really thin because we're scared of increasing our prices. So that was a phenomenal example and in really understanding our value and worth and understanding the lane that we play in, in that there has to be trade offs to everything. So I think that was a great example. Of course, now it's time to move into our Q and A portion. We do have a couple of questions left for you, Kris, so I'm excited to share those with you. But first, I encourage everyone to go to professionalcourage.com/key.com, the link that's been posted in the chat box for that exclusive offer in ebook link for attending today's webinar. Also, don't forget to save the date for our next webinar on October 19th. And really excited about this one too.

It's going to be from 12:00 to 1:00, and it's going to feature Kate Isler, co-founder of both the WMarketplace and an e-commerce site exclusively for women owned businesses, and the nonprofit, Be Bold Now, whose mission is to help achieve gender parody. Kate also released her first book, Breaking Borders, that tells the story of her career journey and how it led her to start her own business in nonprofit. Exciting news. We'll be giving away complimentary copy of Kate's book to those first 125 registrants too who attend the webinars. So all Key4Women members will receive the e-vite directly into their email boxes. So if you haven't joined our program already, I highly encourage you to do that so that you can always be in the know and first to receive our timely information, resources and invites to local and national programming.

And please, don't forget to complete the survey. That absolutely helps us to inform the future of our Key4Women content and our programming. And where that direction goes is really self-directed by all of you. Where you feel like you need the biggest lift, that's where we'll invest and make sure that you're getting all that you need from our Key4Women program. You can continue to enter your questions in the chat box, and we'll address as many of those as possible towards the close of our program. So Kris, to get back to our Q and A as folks continue to join Key4Women @key.com/joink4w as well as signing up for our next events, is we talk about career coaching. And you are fantastic at it, I can definitely tell from our conversation today and of course your book. How does one go about getting a coach? Where do they start? And that question comes from Lisa. Thank you, Lisa.

Kris McGuigan: Thank you, Lisa. So yes, identifying that you want and would benefit from one is a great start. And then again, I think any place you're looking for a professional resource, it's a great idea to first start inside of your own network and identify if there are people that your peers have worked with that they have found success with. So if I were headed onto the market and I wanted to find a business coach, I'm going to contact some of my favorite business peers, those people that I again admire or feel are most successful and ask them the direct question, have you been working with a business coach? Who would you recommend? Do you someone who might specialize in my given area or my target market? After I asked my inner circle, if I still came up short, I would turn to LinkedIn.

So the more that we leverage and focus and recognize all of the resources that are available on LinkedIn, not only the ease of searching for individuals with the title career coach. But also being able to clearly read through the different recommendations and clients, comments of people that they've worked with before can be really valuable information. You can search by the actual location they're in, and or again, the area that they specialize. And know that especially in today's virtual world, I guess it goes without saying, but that person doesn't have to be in the same geographic space that you're in. It's much more important that you identify someone that you feel comfortable with, that you can build a trusting and respecting relationship with, and that you truly feel that you can be your most authentic self. In my opinion, in my experience as both a coach and someone who has been coached, I believe that coaching is an incredibly personal thing even when it is focused on your career.

And there are times that it touches a very personal space and can get emotional and messy, and obviously dive into a lot of fears. So you want to make sure you're working with someone that you feel comfortable being that authentic with.

Rachael Sampson: I love that on a couple of different notes. One, I think LinkedIn is a powerful tool and proponent. And if you enjoyed today's program, I encourage you to post that and tag me and Kris and Colleen and Key4... #key4womenprogramonLinkedIn today. But also when we think about that personal even for me individually, we talk a lot about how that bleeds over and at first I was apprehensive. And it was eye-opening to see as you say, how much one is really impacted into the other, and being comfortable to share because I don't think you can fully express the feelings that you have or the fears or where that may be coming from unless you truly open up. So I think that's incredible advice. So we got another question coming from Maddie. Thanks Maddie for the question. And she said, with constancy in mind, can you expand a little more about progress over perfection and what that looks like?

Kris McGuigan: Yes. Thank you, Maddie. So the first tenant which we didn't talk as much about, but is sort of a foundation element of constancy is really doing above thinking. So across the board, without a doubt, research tells us that we achieve exponentially more progress by doing than thinking. So think about the last project that you conquered from beginning to end, did you take more strides toward the goal when you were talking and planning and thinking and rethinking and strategizing? Or did the good stuff happen when you actually started taking action? One of my... This is dating me a little bit, but one of my favorite country songs is The Thunder Makes the Noise but Lightning does the work. The really good stuff happens when you're doing the work, experimenting and learning and redesigning. And it's just absolutely critical that we'd be willing to just make that progress to trust in our own ability that the end result... I don't believe in perfection, but again that's a fallacy, but that the end result, the desired result that you are getting toward will be attained.

And in fact, it probably will change in the middle of all of that fluidity and all of your flexing and adapting. And so it's better to just get started, to start moving in the right direction so that you can begin learning and refining versus standing back from afar and just speculating what might happen once things get started.

Rachael Sampson: I love that. And that's exactly where we're going to leave it. Just get started. Well, thanks everyone for joining us today. Thanks, Kris, for being here. I hope everyone was able to learn some new techniques and approaches to support change in your career and life. Check out more of our resources @key.com/women. And of course, for any women in business in our communities on the call today that are not members, again, please consider joining at key.com/joink4w. I hope you all enjoy the rest of your day. Hopefully you've got some sunshine to enjoy. It's fabulous. And thanks, Kris, again for being with us. Take care.

Kris McGuigan: Thank you so much.

Rachael Sampson: Bye.

Kris McGuigan, founder and principal owner of Professional Courage, discusses her new book, "The Requisite Courage: How to Make Brave Decisions in Business & Life."

Kris talks through her book, "The Requisite Courage: How to Make Brave Decisions in Business & Life," about the road map for finding professional and personal bravery in the things that matter most. You'll walk away feeling more confident and with a guide to help you overcome any obstacle, take more risks, and get results. 

As a board-certified executive coach, keynote speaker, and corporate trainer for the nation's most prominent Fortune 500 companies, Kris has helped countless leaders step up and stand out in the marketplace.


Let’s Work Together to Achieve Your Goals.

For more Key4Women resources to help you reach your goals, visit key.com/women, or email us to learn more.

This material is presented for informational purposes only and should not be construed as individual tax or financial advice. KeyBank does not provide legal advice.

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