If you’ve ever experienced anxiety over asking for what you want—in a relationship, a client meeting, or board room negotiation—you’re not alone. In fact, that same discomfort years ago led me on a journey to discovering my Extraordinary Self® and eventually making a head-first leap into the world of self-development.
Here’s my story:
It was autumn 2006 when I attended the Work/Life Balance Conference of the National Association of Mothers’ Centers (NAMC) in Syosset, NY. I had been on their corporate event planning committee for several years and was excited to attend a few of the breakout sessions offered that year.
One intriguing session had been presented by Dr. Diane Kramer, psychologist and full professor of psychology at Nassau Community College. (Diane also was a technology entrepreneur with an award-winning Learning Management System to her credit.)
Her breakout session focused on the difference between “everyday people” (who operate in the ordinary way most people do) and people who have mastered the mindset and behaviors leading to extraordinary success inside and out.
Diane and an R&D team of psychologists, social workers and business leaders had previously studied the characteristics of peak performers, i.e., people who hit the ball out of the park almost every time. That research led to one nugget of knowledge that began changing my life that day.
I sat among a standing-room-only audience and mused as Diane asked a salient question:
“What if you could change the voices in your head that keep you from going for what you really want?”
That really struck a chord with me! Earlier that morning, while visiting conference trade show booths, I spied a business opportunity I wanted to pursue. Having recently developed a course for creating winning B2B sales proposals, I wanted to ask for a meeting with one of the trade show booth vendors.
As I approached that booth, a voice in my head said, “Maybe this isn’t the right time … Maybe it would be rude to talk about my own business when he is trying to showcase his business (which was a university business program). His school paid for the booth, not me … Maybe my business partner would prefer that we discuss it first …”
Get the picture? I did speak with the dean that morning, but I had only what my critical inner voice judged to be a lackluster conversation.
Why was that? I had been holding back my own authenticity! I didn’t tell him I had a pretty great course he might be interested in offering to his students. I didn’t speak my truth; I let my inner voice derail me, and I left feeling disappointed in me. Being an expert communicator in most situations, I knew I could have done better that day. What got in the way was the voice I came to know that day as my ‘Inner Judge.’
A Learning Moment
During the Extraordinary Self® breakout session a half-hour later, Diane engaged about a hundred participants in a short visualization exercise. She guided each of us through an imaginary meeting with our own personal ‘Inner Judge’ — the personality part that often has protective intention for us (maybe that day it was to keep me from feeling rejected if I my meeting proposal was turned down). But the Judge’s harsh critical methods also created bad feelings for me. It’s messages may well have been intended to make me think through all the consequences—and plan appropriately—before I jumped head first into asking for that meeting. But in the moment, all I felt was the anxiety my ‘Judge’s’ silent comments created for me.
During Diane’s guided visualization exercise, my mind imagined negotiating with this ‘Inner Judge,’ so it would become more compassionate and resourceful, and help me move forward. That would be better than cautioning me with self-defeating thoughts and bad feelings that held me back.
During that breakout session, we were asked to pick a situation to examine in which this ‘Inner Judge’ created havoc. Of course, my trade show experience was top of mind. So, I imagined the conversation I could have had – if I wasn’t letting self-limiting beliefs get in my way. The exercise felt instructive for me. And in the moment, I thought it had some value.
When the breakout session ended, I found myself in a crush of 300 or so people squeezing our way up a lovely carpeted stairway to the ballroom where lunch would be served.
I also found myself squeezed right beside the dean! Perfect! The universe had gifted me another chance, and this time I was prepared.
With a smile on my face and much more confidence, I spoke to the dean about my courses. Turned out, he actually was interested. A few minutes later, he said, “It’s been great talking with you. Here’s my card. Call me.” A few months later, after a successful series of meetings, our course earned a spot in the college’s continuing education roster. Wow!
I realized that little visualization exercise had been a game changer. I thought, “If I could have that kind of impact in a 50-minute session with 100 others in the room, what would happen if I trained directly with Diane?”
Taking the Leap!
The next week, I signed up for the Extraordinary Self® program – which at the time was delivered in three-hour weekly group sessions for 8 weeks running. I parted with $595.00 in 2006, figuring if I got one new client as a result of the course, my investment would be fully returned.
What I hadn’t realized was how many ways I would benefit from that program over the years. I set new goals. Big Breakthrough Goals! The kind of goals that lead to a real difference in your life. By week four, I also knew I wanted to train with Diane to teach the program myself! Imagine that?
She accepted me into her certification program for coach facilitators a few months later. Check! I set a goal to move to Florida – at least part-time in 2007. Check! I wanted to publish a book. Check, check! I found an agent, then a publishing contract with McGraw-Hill and my book Marketing Demystified was published in 2010. In the meantime, I decided I should have a radio talk show to market my book and myself. Good idea! I secured a weekly AM Radio Talk Show in Florida for the next 10 years. Check, Check, Check!
How did that success happen? I began my journey of inner transformation with the Extraordinary Self’s step-by-step learning system. It led me through a series of powerful inner changes that enhanced my abilities. I let go of limiting beliefs. I liberated myself from several self-defeating patterns. I set goals and learned what I needed to learn to reach them each time. It didn’t matter what my goal was. Or how much I knew when I started. Once I learned the method, I could replicate it many times over and reach goal after goal.
Moving toward an Extraordinary Future
Some of my outer goals were short-term. Easy peasy. One of my bigger goals took over a decade to birth – but I kept going. Over the years, Diane and I began discussing the possibility of building Extraordinary Self® Online. We wanted a portal that would break down geographic and financial barriers. We wanted to make our program accessible to (conceivably) millions more people than we could serve in our face-to-face training sessions. It was a big goal we knew would take years to achieve.
Being sticklers for detail – and because Diane and I were each running our separate businesses —it took us a long while to execute. But we kept moving forward one tiny step at a time. We wrote course after course, and tested the content with learners. We re-configured a proprietary learning platform time and again to meet the criteria we set. And the courses themselves evolved along with us.
Despite the many challenges we faced in bringing our online program to you – we never lost our motivation to make it happen someday. And, someday is finally here! Time to celebrate!
I believe many people would have given up on our dream long before, letting it fall into their ‘could have been’ buckets. What sustained us were the extraordinary inner changes we both made through the years. Those inner changes laid the groundwork for more visible success.
What gave us so much staying power? The integrated learning method and skills we embraced — the same 8 Key Abilities of Extraordinary Selves that we now teach online.
So, here I am now, immersed full time in launching our first seven Extraordinary Self® e-Courses (more to come), along with e-Books (more to come) and Coaching services. It’s been a liberating journey!
If my story reminds you in any way of your own — if you’ve wrestled with a critical inner voice that sometimes derails you, or if you are easily triggered into emotional reactions, or you feel stuck, or if you have big goals you’d like to reach, do check out our Courses. They’re ready for you. And we’d love to help.