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Yael C. Sivi

Yael C. Sivi

New York, New York

Yael C. Sivi is an executive coach and a Gestalt psychotherapist. Her expertise is helping people grow psychologically so they can lead with greater integrity and relate more authentically to others.

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About the author

Yael’s work takes place at the intersection of professional growth and personal transformation. With an academic background in industrial social work from Columbia University, a post-graduate fellowship in Gestalt psychology, and a career of nearly twenty years as an executive coach, psychotherapist, and organizational consultant, Yael’s expertise is on helping people grow and lead.

While originally setting out to be a psychotherapist, Yael’s trajectory changed early in her career when she realized the complex dynamics that exist within families and individuals also exist in organizations. She observed that the human dynamics at the workplace hold great potential for individual and group transformation.

For nearly two decades, Yael has worked with thousands of employees, managers, and leaders in Fortune 1000 companies and non-profit organizations on topics related to personal leadership, emotional intelligence, and conscious collaboration. 

She is the lead facilitator of the Princeton AlumniCorps Emerging Leaders program in New York City, in which she facilitates a 9-month course for early- and mid-career leaders through a journey of self-discovery, emotional maturity, and transformation. 

Yael is also an annual speaker at the as Securities Industry Institute at the Wharton School of Business. Her presentations on generational intelligence for leaders, as well as creating collaborative teams, have been among the highest rated for years. Yael has also been a speaker on generational differences at the international Organizational Development Conference – and has been requested as keynote speaker on this topic by multiple organizations.

In her upcoming book, Growing Up at Work, Yael - with conceptual and writing support from her partner, Yosh Beier, draw upon coaching and psychotherapy to bring adult development, Gestalt, and other theories to life: our work life. By presenting real-life case studies, she examines how work-related dilemmas for professionals often lead to an equally personal journey of growth and evolution.

https://collaborative-coaching.com/about-us/yosh-c-beier/
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Yosh Beier

Trained as a physicist, consultant, mediator, and therapist, I speak both the language of human and organizational dynamics. As coach, I facilitate the development of teams and individual leaders – with a deep conviction that personal, professional, and organizational growth are deeply intertwined.

Yosh brings a highly inter-disciplinary background and combines analytical skill with a deep understanding of human behavior. Trained as scientist, consultant, mediator, and therapist, he speaks both the language of human and organizational dynamics. A German native who moved to New York in 2004, he has worked as an executive and leadership coach for 15+ years – and brings nearly 20 years of experience as a global organizational effectiveness consultant and high-performance team coach to his engagements.

Shifting from an academic career in theoretical physics to consulting, Yosh quickly realized that the main reasons projects succeeded or failed nearly always lied beyond matters of technical expertise or project management - and had all to do with human dynamics. Intrigued - and driven by a desire to better understand how to facilitate and support individual and interpersonal growth, Yosh trained to become a therapist at first, and subsequently a mediator, executive coach, and SCRUM Master.

He has worked with many Fortune 1000 companies and various nonprofit, governmental and non-governmental organizations. He is a managing partner and co-founder of Collaborative Coaching. Yosh has been the board chair of a Buddhist nonprofit organization and – among other things – headed the strategic planning committee.

In his work, Yosh utilizes principles & insights from humanistic psychology and adult development theory to support both personal growth, conscious collaboration, and conscious leadership - and shares his insights from hundreds of coaching assignments with his co-author Yael Sivi in their upcoming book Growing Up at Work.

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Success! Growing Up at Work sold 622 pre-orders by June 18, 2020, was pitched to 127 publishers, and is in discussions with publishers.

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Growing Up at Work

Stories of Professional Evolution through Personal Transformation

Growing Up at Work is a collection of stories and case studies, based on real-life coaching and psychotherapy with clients, that illustrate how professional dilemmas and leadership challenges are best resolved by transforming our emotional and psychological limitations. The workplace is a unique "laboratory" where personal & professional growth are tightly intertwined. What better place is there to explore who you are and who you want to be?

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Personal Growth & Self-Improvement
55,000 words
75% complete
22 publishers interested

Synopsis

Growing Up at Work

We wrote this book as a way to consolidate and share our lessons learned, and to inspire professionals, managers, and leaders to engage in the “inner work” of becoming self-aware and emotionally mature.  With a respectful nod to the work of author and psychotherapist Irving Yalom, we share genuine, intimate, and relatable stories of real people on journeys that are as much professional as they are personal.  We hope that readers will see themselves throughout the book and that they will feel encouraged to be  intentional about their own growth as a result. 

Each chapter of the book is organized around a common dilemma faced by professionals and leaders. Readers will easily see themselves in many if not most of the archetypal growth challenges. Each chapter ends with questions for exploration, experiments, and practices to try.

Our book is informed by several psychological theories, including Gestalt, adult development, attachment, and transactional analysis. We translate key concepts from these bodies of work so that they are more accessible, relevant, and useful to the reader.

Early Praise for Growing Up at Work

“This a deeply insightful and practical book. It brings individuals to life right before your eyes. Yael Sivi and Yosh Beier are great storytellers and clear explicators — you’ll welcome their voice.”
- Bob Kaplan, PhD, Author of The Versatile Leader: Make the Most of Your Strengths Without Overdoing It

"This book offers the much needed reminder that our private and public life are not separate; indeed, how we navigate our inner world is how we show up at work.  Yael and Yosh, through clear and relatable story-telling, show us that to be effective at work, we must 'do the work,' that is to bring the unconscious to the conscious for healing and growth.

As someone who has not only benefited from the wisdom in this book, but has been personally coached by them, I can assure readers that Yael and Yosh's practical and reflective tools will lead to both greater personal and business success."
- Kerry Faherty, Co-Founder & Chief Impact Officer, Faherty Brand 

"I have seen first hand how Yael's insights and experiences have significantly impacted the over 120 participants she has taught in the Emerging Leaders program of Princeton AlumniCorps. As the lead facilitator, she has fostered a space for authentic and experiential learning and transformation. 

I'm thrilled that this book will provide her perceptive and actionable advice to a broader audience. Millennials have experienced many national and global traumas in their formative years and are now 'growing up at work' in an environment no one could have anticipated. This book will be invaluable to all leaders in this challenging and uncertain time." 
-  Kef Kasdin, President & Executive Director, Princeton AlumniCorps

"Growing Up at Work is a must read for anyone in a leadership position. As someone who has personally been coached by Yael Sivi, I have experienced firsthand how the teachings in this book open the door to stronger and more emotionally intelligent leadership. "

- Sarah Larson Levey, Founder/CEO, Y-7 Studio

Outline

Introduction      

- Why this book; who we are and the intersectionality of our work that reflects book’s premise

- Guiding ideas/theories that inform the book: gestalt, transactional analysis, adult development theory

- How this book works: Each chapter is about a different client and the professional dilemma they faced and then takes the reader through the personal/psychological work done to overcome their professional challenge

- Implications for management and leadership are discussed, when applicable - but this book applies to all professionals, from new to seasoned in tenure

Chapter 1: I feel like an imposter

Chapter 2: No one likes me

Chapter 3: I’m their manager but I want to be their friend

Chapter 4: I take care of everyone except myself

Chapter 5: I‘m just not enough

Chapter 6: I know I should address this conflict but I don’t

Chapter 7: I don’t want to play politics

Chapter 8: People think I’m a jerk

Chapter 9: People don’t trust me and I don’t know why

Chapter 10: I’m successful but I have no life

Chapter 11: I have to be perfect

Chapter 12: I’m scared of my boss

Conclusion: Lifelong practices for personal transformation and professional growth

Audience

Emerging Leaders and Professionals

This book is for all professionals - especially those who are young, new to the workplace, or new to their roles. It's for emerging leaders, new managers, and entrepreneurs. It's for anyone who wants to  mature or who wants to lead more effectively.  Overall, ours is  a book for those who bring a sense of curiosity, commitment, and psychological openness to their career growth.

While in 2020, young professionals and emerging leaders may be defined as Millennials, this book will continue to be relevant long after they become middle-aged. Very quickly a new crop of young professionals leaders will be emerging out of Generation Z, and we anticipate their interest as well.

The good news, in our observation, is that younger folks don’t need to be convinced of the connection between their personal and professional growth, and they can certainly spot it—especially the lack of it—in their own leaders. These young adults already get the message of this book. They’re looking for meaningful careers, and they want to bring their whole selves to work. By reading the stories of others like them, our hope is they will be inspired to be reflective in a new way.

Professionals who also enjoy self-help books might especially appreciate the convergence we address.

Seasoned Professionals and Mature Leaders

This book can benefit a seasoned professional, manager, or leader as much as it can someone more junior. Although seasoned professionals and leaders may have figured out how to function and lead with competence, they too can benefit from reflecting on themselves and their emotional maturity, so they can further cultivate their own authenticity and integrity as contributors and leaders. 

In many cases, we have seen seasoned leaders stall out career-wise due largely to their own emotional and psychological limitations. This book will support their introspection and growth too.

Secondary Audiences

- General audience of people who are interested in self-help, personal, and psychological growth—the people who pick up Patrick Lencioni’s books on teamwork or Oprah magazine. 

- We see our book as a great graduation gift for anyone finishing college or graduate school, entering the workforce and facing its challenges for the first time - a person in need of support, inspiration, and guidance to be effective at work.

- Other executive coaches, organizational consultants, or psychotherapists interested in professional development / learning how others work with clients facing similar issues

Promotion

Collaborative Consulting Website

We will create a page devoted to the book on our firm’s website. Collaborative Coaching currently has 1,500 unique visitors per month – most of whom are leaders interested in personal, professional and organizational growth. 

Social media strategy

We will create a Instagram account and a LinkedIn page dedicated to the book. These social media platforms will be updated regularly with real-life examples of professionals growing up at work, reviews of the book, interviews of corporate leaders, and articles.

Yael and Yosh currently have over 1,000 followers each on LinkedIn and our company newsletter has a distribution of 3,000 individuals. We would leverage these current connections and would seek to gain increased followership through already-existing networks.

Public speaking

Yael Sivi has a monthly audience of approximately 250 to 500 professionals she speaks to at various corporate and workplace events. We will book several additional speaking engagements in the first year of the book’s release.

We hope that client organizations, especially those who book us for public speaking engagements and the facilitation of leadership workshops, will be interested in purchasing large numbers of books for staff or as a complement to public speaking and workshops we will be doing for them.

Competition

Books for professionals tend to come in a few primary categories. One category focuses on leadership—a wide umbrella, often focusing on the concrete competencies required for effective leadership. Most of these books don’t emphasize the personal growth aspect without which career success remains limited. 

The other category focuses on providing career guidance. These books support selecting a job, finding a job, or building skills to succeed in a given job, such as time management, effective communication, and managing conflict.

Personal growth books, on the other hand, tend to be self-help books with an emphasis on positive thinking, overcoming limiting beliefs, self-acceptance, as well as obtaining more happiness, money, and success.

Our book sits at a unique intersection among the existing book landscape. It’s squarely built on the premise that personal growth equals professional growth, and vice versa. There are some leadership books, such as "Leadership from Inside Out" that look at personal growth as pre-requisite of leadership success. But the book’s content is anchored in topics of leadership, rather than a wider context of professional growth and career success (which isn’t limited to becoming a senior leader).

Growing Up at Work is unique because very few books are written for young professionals and emerging leaders - let alone any professional who wants to grow in their maturity. We believe that our focus on “psychological growth meets professional growth” means that we will meet a market need—one that has been proven to be strong by complementary, successful, and recently-published books like:

- Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts by Brené Brown

- Reboot: Leadership and the Art of Growing Up by Jerry Colonna

- No Hard Feelings: The Secret Power of Embracing Emotions at Work, by Liz Fosslien and Mollie West Duffy

- The Making of a Manager: How to Crush Your Job as the New Boss by Julie Zhuo

- 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership: A new paradigm for sustainable success by Jim Dethmer, Diana Chapman and Kaley Warner Klemp

- The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter--And How to Make the Most of Them Now by Meg Jay

- Leadership from the Inside Out: Becoming a Leader for Life by Kevin Cashman

- Creatures of a Day And Other Tales of Psychotherapy by Irvin D. Yalom

22 publishers interested Express interest
Addicus Books, Inc. logo Addicus Books, Inc.

We just celebrated our 25th anniversary. At Addicus Books, we are dedicated to producing high-quality nonfiction books. One of our areas of focus is consumer health titles, and we continue to develop our growing line of books. In addition to growing our line of health books, we are also developing other nonfiction lines: business, memoir, self-help. We put a lot of energy into a developmental edit of the main text, making sure it is as strong as it possibly can be. We look for clarity, appropriate tone, and good organization.

We publish a book six to nine months after receiving a final manuscript. We sell books through our national distribution program, IGP Books, in Chicago. Every book is published as a tradepaper back and as an ebook (on Amazon and Barnes & Noble--B&N.com).

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Isabella Media Inc logo Isabella Media Inc

Isabella Media Inc is a Rhode Island-based, family-owned, mainline publishing organization with a mission to discover unknown stories. We combine unknown or little known authors’ undiscovered potential with Isabella Media Inc’s unique approach to publishing to provide the highest quality books to readers about stories they may not find anywhere else. It’s our desire to find unique stories that drives us.

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Koehler Books offers you tremendous value, worldwide distribution channels and superior marketing guidance. Our authors span nearly every continent and every region and state in the US, and are consistently recognized nationally and globally for their work. Our titles are broad based and include nearly every major non-fiction and fiction genre.

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SOOP gives you personalized attention…

SOOP is a small virtual publishing company headquartered in Madison, Wisconsin, with a core team based in the US and additional contractors around the world. SOOP currently focuses on curating a small number of volumes for publication each year to enable its team to dedicate a great deal of time to working with its authors directly - not just on the manuscript, but also on platform-building and promotion. Anyone from a marketing manager to the CEO is a phone call away.

...but doesn’t compromise on quality.

While SOOP is a small company, we have a highly skilled production team. Our Director of Publications served as an art director at large New York publishing companies for over 25 years. Our Director of Editorial Services spent decades in fast paced news rooms where careful but timely editing was critical, and our Director of Premium Programs is himself an author and the founder of a small press. Our overseas contractors are carefully vetted and trained.

SOOP focuses on democratized marketing strategies…

SOOP was born after its founder Wade Fransson asked “what if.” Specifically, “what if the publishing industry was created today, with 21st century technology?” The answer? A focus on democratization both with regards to who gets published and to how SOOP would promote its books. SOOP focuses heavily on social media and online digital advertising, micro-targeting interested readers, ensuring that every dollar of marketing money is laser focused on finding an interested reader.

… yet still delivers bona fide successes.
SOOP may not have the massive marketing budgets of its big New York cousins, but it does have successful books. Its carefully planned and executed pre-order campaigns have delivered a string of #1 rated Hot New Releases on Amazon and has worked with an up-and-coming British politician to achieve a coveted #1 Amazon Mover and Shaker Rating.

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Too many beautifully written books are rejected on a regular basis because the submitting author doesn’t have a strong enough author platform.

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At AMJ Productions and Publications (AMJP2), we help entrepreneurs, like you, fulfill a lifelong dream or business goal in sharing their message with the world by becoming highly recognized and credible authors in their field, brand, message, and business. We provide one-of-a-kind full publishing services that support authors in seeing their book become a reality within a short period-of-time. We’re a proud member of IBPA – Independent Book Publishing Association, the largest publishing agency in the US allowing us to offer more marketing and promotional services to all our authors.

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Dr. Anita M. Jackson is the publisher and provides one-on-one publishing, coaching, and promotional support to all authors in helping them share their brand, message, and business across many platforms.

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eBooks2go, Inc., was founded in 2011 to provide the missing link for all your publishing needs. Our end-to-end solutions provide the guidance and support that enable publishers and independent authors to pursue their passions. To date, we have helped more than 750 authors and 100 publishers worldwide.

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eBooks2go offers an array of simple and affordable solutions to assist self-publishing authors at every stage of the book publishing process. Our comprehensive service offering includes editing, print and eBook production, book marketing, cover designs, ISBN registration, and even website designs. We are the single source for all of your publishing needs.

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Greenleaf Book Group is an independent publisher and distributor dedicated to empowering authors. We can partner with you on every aspect of developing and promoting your big idea, from expert branding to book creation, promotion, and retail distribution. We have the capabilities to take your book idea through full project development and production all the way to bookstore shelves. Our award-winning team works with you to create an exceptional book and design a custom-built strategy to ensure its success in the retail market.

Thousands of projects later and with over 35 New York Times and Wall Street Journal best sellers, our award-winning editorial and design, robust marketing, and expert distribution capabilities have led to partnerships with some of the greatest thought leaders and independent publishers around the world.

Greenleaf’s hybrid publishing model is uniquely positioned to offer the benefits of both traditional and self-publishing. We provide you with unmatched publishing and distribution services; you keep creative control, intellectual property, and most of the royalties.

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You want a publishing experience that rivals what the finest traditional New York publishing houses offer in terms of quality, personal attention and distribution while being able to retain all rights to your message and ultimate creative control that self-publishers offer.

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Our books frequently appear on the best-sellers lists and our authors are among some of the best known in their genre. At Inside Edge Publishing, we believe that every author has a story to tell, and that every story deserves to be told.

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I Feel Like An Imposter

Julia was what I would describe as a high achieving drifter. Academically gifted, ambitious, but not super-ambitious; if an opportunity presented itself and it felt right, she’d take it. After graduation, she got a job with a non-profit educational advocacy organization and rose rapidly through the ranks. There was not a lot of intentionality in her decision-making however. A chance to move to New York? Ok, I’ll do that. Move into a more senior position? Ok, I’ll do that. She took things on mostly because they were there to be taken on, and because she was a curious, bright person.

I offer all of my students a one-on-one coaching session as part of a leadership program I teach. Julia was one of the first to avail this session. A person who lights up a room, Julia was naturally full of energy, funny, and sweet; she managed to be simultaneously charming and authentic. That combination lead to her becoming a great favorite in class. She made friends easily.

So here is this funny, bright, highly capable person – someone whom I knew from class was very smart – yet within two minutes of sitting down with me, she’s in tears. She had been promoted consistently through her career, the only feedback she ever received was glowing, but as soon as I asked how she was doing, her head was in hands and she tells me that she’s terrible at her job. Not only that, but she’s telling me that everyone she works with knows she can’t do her job, and that it’s only a matter of time before she’s found out. What’s going on here? Where is she getting this message?

Imposter Syndrome

Imposter syndrome, where you continually doubt your achievements and live with the fear of being exposed as a fraud, is a deeply familiar experience for many people I’ve worked with – including very successful professionals and leaders, across ages and industries.

The good news is that by simply identifying imposter syndrome as a common thought pattern, and by giving it a name, we can start to work with it . ‘Do you recognize part of what’s going on here as a phenomenon called imposter syndrome?’ I might ask. ‘Does that sound right to you?’

Asking this question is the first step towards breaking down the sense of isolation that often comes with imposter syndrome. The belief that everyone else sees you as a fraud, combined with the idea that everyone else around you must know what they are doing, is a very unpleasant way of suffering and feeling alone.

With Julia, the impact of what she was going through wasn’t really visible on the surface. She was such a buoyant, effervescent personality that most of the people in her life were completely unaware of what was going on inside of her. But the pain and isolation were very real – impacting her mood, her relationships, her sleep.

My approach with Julia, as we’ll see throughout this book with other clients, was to make the unconscious conscious, to unpack the thinking that was leading to her suffering and hampering her development as a leader. I needed to hear exactly what Julia believed about herself.  What was the story she was hearing in her head? Whose story was that? What was drowning out all of the positive feedback and leaving her instead with the terrible sense of being a failure?

A feeling can often be traced back to the thought that caused it. While some feelings seem to come from our “gut”, and those feelings may very well be based in trauma or pain from our past, often our feelings originate from a story we tell about ourselves – thoughts that we don’t even know we are thinking that give rise to negative feelings. For example: I’m telling myself that my coworkers think I’m lazy because I told them I couldn’t help out with a project. When I tell myself this story, I feel sad and ashamed. There’s the thought, then boom! there’s the feeling.

As Julia spoke, as we explored her thoughts, it quickly became obvious that there was more than one voice in the room – two in particular. There was the part of Julia that was suffering because she felt she was an imposter, but this process all started because there was another part of Julia, an “inner bully” or critic, that was telling Julia over and over again that she wasn’t doing a good job. The voice of the receiver, the victim, was largely silent, taking in all of this abuse – and it also hadn’t been clear to Julia that she was actually berating herself.

Exploring the Voices Inside

To understand why we are suffering, it’s necessary to explore exactly what’s going on inside of us. With Julia, I wanted to hear the voice of the bully, or her inner critic, to know what it was saying and to understand the effect it was having on her. So I invited Julia to speak from that voice. What exactly was she telling herself?

‘You’re such a fake,’ she spat, ‘you’re such a phony. Everyone knows you don’t know how to do this job, and it’s only a matter of time before you’re really found out by everyone.’

What’s happening here, according to gestalt psychotherapy, is called an ‘interruption in contact’. Interruptions in contact essentially describe the different ways we unwittingly block our flow, our energy, our excitement, our love of life. In particular, this interruption is a very specific and very common form called ‘retroflection’. This is where we attack ourselves either in a way in which others attacked us, or in which we wish we could attack others, or in order to try to force ourselves to be a particular way in the world.

After hearing from the part of herself that was creating the attack, I asked if Julia was aware that there was another part of herself that was actually receiving this message. In essence, the receiver of the messages is our inner “victim” – the part of us who is the recipient of the inner attack. I asked Julia how this other part of her felt, and what, if anything, she wanted to say in response.

Julia gave me a blank stare. She said that that while she felt sad to hear these critical words about herself, she also added that she agreed with what the critic had to say. She said indeed that the bully was “right” and that she really was not good at her job and everyone knew it.

Standing Up to the Bully

Just as you would coach a child being bullied in the playground, I began to fortify that victimized, quiescent part of Julia’s psyche. Standing up to the bully – something we also refer to as making peace with your inner attacker -  is about exchanging the voice of the victim with the voice of strength. When working with the inner bully, I encourage my clients to get in touch with how they would respond if these mean things were being said to someone they cared about.

I asked Julia, ‘What would you say if this bully was talking to a friend of yours? How would you react?’ The truth is that it’s much easier for us to stand up to a bully if they’re bullying somebody that we love.

‘I would tell them to stop,’ she said, without hesitation. ‘I would tell them that this was unacceptable, that this was not OK. That what they were saying wasn’t even true.’

So I began coaching Julia to defend herself by proxy, to think of it as defending someone else.

Velcro and Teflon

It’s said that negative thoughts are like Velcro. They tend to stick. As human beings, we have a knack for believing, and ruminating on, negative thoughts about ourselves, and we feel bad as a result.

This was certainly true for Julia. She was in the habit of telling herself that she wasn’t good enough at her job, that she was an imposter, and as a result, she told herself that she was a failure. This thought pattern was on a loop in her head, and had a “sticky” quality in her consciousness.

Meanwhile, positive thoughts tend to be like Teflon. They often don’t stick. Someone tells us we do something really well and we just think, yeah, well, I’m not so sure...We write them off.

The reality was that Julia was in receipt of plenty of positive feedback – there was no shortage of people telling her she was doing a great job, but she had trouble believing it.

Sometimes we have to borrow the confidence others have in us and see ourselves through their eyes. People often see in us what we can’t see in ourselves, and it can take deliberate effort to appreciate something positive about ourselves to decide to be affected by it.

Julia began working on trying to be affected by the positivity around her. This took a lot of practice. It’s not easy to take a mental concept and turn it into something that’s lived in the body, to see that you have talents and gifts and to recognize that you can live them.

Over time, Julia could start to say, ‘I think I understand why I’ve been promoted’. She could begin to appreciate the things she liked about her job. She could chair a high-level meeting at the mayor’s office and in her mind, she could hear the voice that used to do nothing but accept the criticism say, ‘I can do this, I’m good at this.’

Julia also started a journaling practice to support the coaching process. Journaling can also be really helpful in this process, as there’s only so much you can accomplish in a fifty minute session every other week, and journaling accelerates self-inquiry. Instead of simply feeling bad, we can explore how the pain is being created in our psyche. We notice and track self-talk. So you might think, I’ve no idea what I’m doing here, and instead of giving way instantly to the feeling that this can generate, you stop and label the thought. This is critical self-talk.

Techniques like these allowed Julia to separate herself from the story she was telling herself.  With time, and with support in our sessions, she also practiced responding to her critical self-talk with compassion, love, reason, and balance. ‘Yes, I am new to this role, and I am still learning, but that doesn’t make me any different than anyone else who’s new to a role. I can see how much I am trying, and others do too. Why not try to just trust in that a little more?’

Getting Curious About the Bully

In addition to fortifying the inner victim, and helping her take in positive support, part of the work I did with Julia involved getting curious about her inner bully, and encouraging her to do the same. We started exploring questions like: Where did this inner critic come from? When did it start? Why was she pushing herself in this particular way?

I was also curious if the voice of her inner bully reminded her of someone. In some cases – not so much with Julia – but frequently, the voice is really the replica of a parent. The person is doing to themselves what was done to them.

Julia’s parents never really pushed her in that way but they did give her a lot of attention, along with teachers, for being smart, and for being great at school. It seemed that this inner critic voice actually emerged from Julia’s desire to continue to win approval. This is how she found identity in the world; by being smart, by performing well and by saying ’yes’, by being willing to take on whatever challenge presented itself. Over time, it seems, a part of her developed to keep propelling her forward, but this part was kind of ruthless, and didn’t take well to not knowing.

One of the things that can be especially illuminating when we get curious about our inner critic is to better understand how old we were when this part of ourselves developed. While not always an exact science, many clients have a sense of when this part of themselves emerged, and this was true for Julia as well. She sensed that she was around 10 years old when she concluded that she needed to keep performing to “earn” the love and attention of those around her. What’s important to consider here is the consciousness of a 10-year-old child – in particular, the way a child at that age still sees things in a simplified way.

With reflection and through coaching, Julia came to realize that her inner critic, the part that was continually attacking herself was a child – the 10-year-old. That part of Juila understandably wanted approval, but she also had developed a simple equation that led to that sense of approval and safety. If she performed well, and she felt completely confident, she concluded that she was lovable and safe. In contrast, if Julia was less certain about herself, she was walking on unchartered territory and her inner critic went into fear and self-attack. Her inner 10-year-old didn’t know what to do with the fact that indeed, adulthood, and professional life, includes many moments of not knowing, learning, even failure. These experiences enable us to grow, if we are open, but with an inner critic monitoring the situation all the time, they also ripe for self-attack.

One of the ways in which I work as a gestalt coach is doing “experiments” with my clients, and a powerful gestalt experiment is called the “empty chair”, where we speak either to a part of ourselves or to someone else. In Julia’s case, I invited her to converse with her inner critic, and to get curious about this part of herself.

Julia asked the critic questions about when she came about and why. As a result, we were able to confirm our hypothesis that the critic was a young part of Julia focused on protecting herself. With this increased awareness, Julia could come to see that while this part of her had been creating pain, it was also a part of her that deserved love and attention – ideally best when the attention came from Julia herself, herself now an adult. Julia learned to do the sophisticated dance of standing up to her 10-year-old critic – telling her, “It’s okay, I got this. You are safe.” while also thanking her for looking out for herself, as she knew her intention was a good one.

The Truth and the Lie

One thing I’ve realized over the years is that there is both a truth and a lie at the heart of imposter syndrome. The lie – the bully’s continual assertion that we are a failure, a phony – we’ve already talked about. It’s usually a way of trying to keep ourselves safe that is based in fear, but in essence the lie we tell ourselves is we should already know everything and if we don’t we’re a failure.

The truth is that actually, none of us knows everything. We are all on a learning curve. This is particularly true when we take on a new role, or are promoted into a position of authority. It is at this point that Julia was most vulnerable to the voice of the bully, because there were – of course – things that she needed to work on. The truth was that she didn’t have a great deal of experience in operations.

In particular, Julia frequently had difficulty when it came to making big decisions that affected other people. In one particular case, she needed to decide whether or not a certain academic subject should be made mandatory on the curriculum – a decision which she knew would affect thousands of kids. She was paralyzed by indecision. The anxiety this generated was exacerbated by one of her direct reports who saw what was happening and challenged her authority.

We are at our most vulnerable at moments like these, since it is now more than ever that the critical voice carries a certain moral authority.

How do you separate the lie from the truth when they are so entangled?

The hallmark of the lie is that it is monolithic. It is non-specific. You are a failure, a phony, a fraud. Everyone knows more than you.

The truth, by contrast, is more nuanced, more specific. Because of this, it’s far more amenable to specific solutions. We can distill what we want to learn and practice, what we want to refine in our new role.

·      Are there classes I need to take?

·      Could I benefit from mentoring?

·      Is there a professional development program I could avail of?

With Julia, we used some of our coaching sessions to look at and support her decision making skills. Seeking those supports broke the neurotic spiral, allowing her to grow, to move away from a place of shame and self-attack, and allowed for her to grow in the way that she needed. Nothing was wrong with that, but she also wasn’t layering shame on top of the legitimate need she had to trust her judgment more and to inform big decisions with data and consult from others.

Is This What I Want?

I’ve also come to see that imposter syndrome may sometimes speak to the fact that maybe this isn’t the best match between your interests and skills and what the job is asking of you, and there’s nothing wrong with considering this possibility – though ideally without self-attack. Experiencing the imposter syndrome can be helpful in that it does sometimes force you to ask serious questions.

·      Is this the right role for me?

·      Am I enjoying this?

·      Does it resonate with who I am and my natural strenghts?

·      If this isn’t something I’m good at, is it something I want to get better at?

These are legitimate questions, which demand reflection, and they are qualitatively different from the shrill voice of the inner critic, who seeks only to insist that you are putting one over on everyone.

It’s also true that that sometimes a pinch of imposter syndrome can help us stay realistic and grounded – I suppose it’s kind of an antidote to arrogance. Realizing we don’t know everything can reveal humility - the foundation of all virtues, according to Confucious – and humility, in my opinion, is something every leader needs. Note too that it was the spur of imposter syndrome that prompted Julia to look at her own growth, both professional and personal. Growing into a sense of self-trust and self-confidence means that we also learn to lead from a place of deep connection to ourselves. We become authentic, we feel more like ourselves.

Dealing with imposter syndrome in this way allowed Julia to be more present, to break the connection with a mental narrative that was not real.  This also enabled her to become a better coach, and a better manager, because she was that much more empathic to how some of her staff might be feeling in starting a new role.

The Magic of the Moment

Julia and I worked together for six months. Over that time, we saw a gradual reduction in her suffering. She became lighter, happier. She had less trouble sleeping. There was more flow in her life, more joy, more confidence. She came to realize that her struggle with feeling like an imposter felt both personal and universal. Simply knowing just how prevalent it is in the workplace was tremendously helpful.

Nor would I underestimate the role of ongoing awareness in this transformation. Think of the psyche as a container. When you’re not aware of the inner critic, its voice can take over so much of that vessel. By noticing it, it doesn’t sound quite as loud, or half as credible.

Eckhart Tolle puts it like this: ‘When you make your unconscious motivations conscious, you immediately see how absurd they are. Awareness is the greatest agent for change.’

And following on from that, the counter voice emerges and is amplified. ‘Thank you for your opinion, I love you, but I think I’m doing just fine.’ The work Julia did reset the balance between these competing voices.

She enjoyed further promotion at work, and found a capacity to recognize and accept the admiration of those around her. Being sought out, being asked to be more visible; this is evidence that a mature perception will find hard to ignore. Near the end of our work, she was selected as one of the leaders asked to address a conference, and, during that address, she recalled feeling the magic of the moment; knowing she was doing something worthwhile and knowing that she was doing it well.

Questions for Reflection

•       What do I expect myself to know by now and why?

•       How would I know how to do this without learning it?

•       How does it affect me when I tell myself I’m an imposter? Would I talk to anyone else like that?

•       What would make me feel less like an imposter? What do I need to learn and practice to feel equipped for this role, this job, this challenge?

•       What supportive words can I offer myself if I’m feeling scared or insecure?

Practices

•       Distinguish your thoughts from your feelings. If you’re feeling bad, stop and investigate the story you’re telling yourself.

•       Come back to the present. Name what you’re seeing, feeling, hearing, tasting. Get back into your body. Exercise, meditate – whatever it takes to get out of your head.

•       Say kind words to yourself on a daily basis. Talk about what you appreciate about yourself. Talk to yourself the way you would talk to somebody you love.

Experiments

•       Branch out! Take a class, seek support or mentoring for something you don’t know how to do.

•       Take five minutes to talk to yourself out loud about the things you appreciate about yourself. Write down how you feel afterward


  • Update #1 - Thank you for your support! June 19, 2020

    Hello!

    Our crowdfunding campaign for Growing Up at Work concluded yesterday, and we are delighted to report that we pre-sold 622 copies of the book ...


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  • stephanie bourgeois
    on May 19, 2020, 3:33 p.m.

    Can't wait to read this book! It sounds so compelling. Congratulations my friend!

  • Anonymous
    on May 19, 2020, 4:30 p.m.

    Congratulations to you both! I can't wait to read your book!!
    I'm so excited for you.

  • Claire Kaplan
    on May 19, 2020, 4:35 p.m.

    I'm so excited for you both! I can't wait to read your book!

  • Rakefet Kasdin
    on May 19, 2020, 5:51 p.m.

    Happy to do it! I can't wait to read the book and share with my daughters! - Kef

  • Mikaela Levons
    on May 19, 2020, 6:22 p.m.

    This book will be legendary, I just know it! And my husband, who is a huge fan of titles like 'Culture Code' and 'Leading Change' is going to eat this up as well. Definitely need a copy for our house. And I will get mine autographed at some point:) I am so so proud of this work, Yael!

  • Flor Hunt
    on May 19, 2020, 7:07 p.m.

    Given what a talented coach and facilitator you are, I have no doubt your book will be WONDERFUL. I plan to give away some copies to share your expertise and insight with my colleagues. Love, Flor

  • Renee Hall
    on May 19, 2020, 7:30 p.m.

    Congratulations on the book - what an important undertaking and I look forward to reading and continuing to learn! -renee hall

  • Sarah Cox
    on May 19, 2020, 7:45 p.m.

    We got one for every member of the Cox Family and cannot wait to read!

  • daniel fine
    on May 19, 2020, 9:43 p.m.

    Looking forward to experiencing both of you like this
    love
    d

  • Paul Hastings
    on May 19, 2020, 10:47 p.m.

    Congrats Yael & Yosh! Deb and I are excited to read your book! Can't wait to see you soon back in the 'Wood!

    P

  • Anna Riquier
    on May 20, 2020, 1:43 a.m.

    Congratulations! Having received direct transmission from both of you of this growthful wisdom over these many years, I can’t wait to have the reference guide and to be able to share it widely. Really looking forward to this book!

  • Anna Riquier
    on May 20, 2020, 1:49 a.m.

    Congratulations! Having received direct transmission from you both of this growthful wisdom over these many years, I can’t wait to have the reference copy and to be able to share it widely. Really looking forward to reading this book!

  • David Longmire
    on May 20, 2020, 2:31 p.m.

    Dear Yael and Yosh,
    I hope you are doing well. Congratulations on writing this book! Looking forward to reading it.

    David

  • Mark Dowd
    on May 20, 2020, 2:35 p.m.

    Kathy and I can't wait to read it!

  • Marti Sivi
    on May 20, 2020, 3:11 p.m.

    Can't wait to give these out as gifts to my friends at work or for their kids in the workplace!!!!

  • Julia Talerico
    on May 20, 2020, 6:34 p.m.

    I’m looking forward to reading your book Yael! Julia Talerico

  • Jordan Dann
    on May 20, 2020, 11:16 p.m.

    Mazel Tov! Congratulations to you both!

    Yael, thank you for all the growing up you've helped me with and for being such an instrumental force in my moving towards work where I can be my full self and work that I LOVE!

  • Jennifer Ostrega
    on May 21, 2020, 2:44 p.m.

    Internal personal transformation has a profound effect on workplace relationships. This book is so necessary to make the workplace a more supportive environment for employees, managers, and the culture and climate of a company as a whole.

  • Jennifer Griesbach
    on May 22, 2020, 2:36 p.m.

    So happy for you and excited that this has come to fruition. I can't wait to read it. All best wishes!

  • Rene Ward
    on May 22, 2020, 5:30 p.m.

    I am so very proud of and excited for you. You found your book and I'm certain the stories and insights within will help many.

  • Betsy Kaufman
    on May 23, 2020, 3:05 p.m.

    So Excited and PROUD of both of you! Amazing! Sending lots of L❤️VE!

  • Ruth Wolf
    on May 24, 2020, 3:33 p.m.

    Dear Yael & Josh,

    Can’t wait to receive your book!

    Love,
    Abie & Ruthi

  • Jed Miller
    on May 25, 2020, 3:14 p.m.

    Hope you are well and families too. This looks great!

  • Lisa Meline
    on May 26, 2020, 6:53 p.m.

    Yael,

    We are so excited for you and Yosh!

    Lisa Meline

  • Malancha Chanda
    on May 26, 2020, 11:31 p.m.

    Congrats to the both of you! Looking forward to the book!

  • Louis Wu
    on May 27, 2020, 2:43 a.m.

    Can't wait to dive into this Yael!

  • Sooah Rho
    on May 31, 2020, 7:32 p.m.

    Woohoo!! Can't wait to have more of your wisdom with me as I navigate my career/life :)!!

  • Jennifer Bezoza
    on June 5, 2020, 2:35 a.m.

    Great to chat today and excited to benefit from the book!! Congrats!!

  • Michael Grudzinski
    on June 7, 2020, 1:51 p.m.

    Looking forward to reading your new book, Yael! Good luck with the campaign and I look forward to seeing you during the next EL Alumni meeting!

  • Andrew Boyarsky
    on June 11, 2020, 7:10 p.m.

    mazel tov on getting this out. I hope that you make your goal, one more step.

  • Alethea Glave
    on June 16, 2020, 9:34 p.m.

    I’m so excited to support. You’ve been an amazing person and facilitator and I hope to remain connected. Looking forward to reading.

  • Abigail Wertz
    on June 17, 2020, 5:31 a.m.

    Can’t wait to see it. Congratulations and love!

  • Jesse Krieger
    on June 17, 2020, 8:37 p.m.

    Hello Yael, I am very excited to read your book. And I am also quite interested in publishing it. Look forward to connecting soon.

    Best,

    Jesse