Like many other professions, as a coach I am required to jump through accreditation hoops, if I wish to be considered a ‘professional’. The email which greeted me on Sunday (yes Sunday!) morning from an auspicious federation in the UK was entitled, “Clarification needed on your Credential Renewal Application”.
My heart sank and I quickly felt a knot forming in my stomach as I hurried my children to get ready for church. After 6 years of maintaining this credential, were they now going to deny it?
Voices from the imposter syndrome reservoir entered with a vengeance,
“What if you’re now going to be found out? What if you can’t renew? What if they decide you’re not worthy?”
I really had to work hard to suppress those voices of panic and use what I term, the advocate on my shoulder to speak very firmly to myself, “You’ve done the necessary work to re-accredit. You have acquired this accreditation 6 years ago and successfully renewed it previously. You just need some time, which is not now, to calmly respond to their queries and you’ll be fine!”
During the holidays I read Sheryl Sandberg’s Option B, kindly loaned to me by a client. I’ve dished out quite a few copies of “Lean In” over the years, but the Sheryl, I encountered was quite a different one from her “Lean In” persona. In Option B, she quotes Martin Seligman’s model of resilience, namely, the ‘3 Ps’ which can stunt recovery;
1. Personalisation – the minute I saw that I email I immediately felt as though I was under investigation by the CIA and that they personally had it in for me! (okay call me paranoid!) I mean this was about my personal identity as a professional and my very reputation was at risk!
2. Pervasiveness – the experience that now not only was I going to be deemed an insufficient coach, but that this would impact my entire work reputation! The irony is that this accreditation is purely voluntary and not many coaches elect to apply its rigorous and expensive criteria, but here I was doomed to a life of being ‘found out’.
3. Permanence – as I took some time to review the mail, I note that they kindly stated that, “your credential renewal application will remain “in process” to allow you time to complete the credential renewal requirements.” No ex-communication or threats of expulsion…this was not a life sentence or even a mild punishment.
So yes, I have made myself somewhat vulnerable to clients and prospective clients who may be reading this to the potential to suffer from what Brené Brown terms, a vulnerability hangover! And far worse things occur on a daily basis than receiving an email requiring credential clarification.
But the research suggests that when something hits you from left field is to personalise it, make it pervasive in your life and see it as permanent.
Even Sandberg, in her traumatic loss, noticed that, “when I got sad or anxious, often the second derivative of those feelings made them doubly upsetting. When I felt down, I also felt down that I was down. When I felt anxious I felt anxious that I was anxious.”
So here are three ideas which though trite to write, have been tested and retested through the wisdom of many lives to help build resilience;
• The first is self-compassion – to cut yourself a little bit of slack and speak to yourself as you would a good friend
• The second is to label positive emotions and write about joyful experiences. They may be hard to find in a day, particularly if you have lost someone, but writing about joyful experiences for just 3 days can improve people’s moods
• And finally to gain appreciation and notice 3 things a day which you appreciate or are grateful for. They may be the smile in a child or a big job done, but take time to notice and acknowledge them.
Finally I was reminded of the fact that resilience can indeed be built and that,
“It isn’t about having backbone. It’s about strengthening the muscles around the backbone.”