Her Doubt Demon

“Phyllis” sounded down when we started our coaching call. I asked how things were going. “I’m frustrated with myself and some challenges at work,” she said. She’d recently started a new role in a new city and was learning the company culture.

Soon, the underlying frustration surfaced. “My Doubt Demon has been dancing in and out of the rooms in my mind, telling me I don’t belong in certain meetings, my suggestions don’t have merit, so why even say what I’m thinking.”

Her Doubt Demon (I love her title for it) was in full swing, strongly opinionated, deeply persistent. She finally had to forcefully tell it to leave, exhausted from dealing with it.

This was not Phyllis’ norm. She sometimes has doubts (who doesn’t?) but this was heavier. To shift her thinking to different perspectives, we talked about what was going well and what she wanted. Good things had happened, but they were tucked in the back of her mind. She knows she has much to contribute, confirmed by her Senior VP. But her immediate manager… nice guy, not a communicator, “always has his face in his screen,” she said.

We talked about what she could do. First, send her manager succinct weekly updates on what’s done, what’s in progress, what she wants to know from him. Second, schedule meetings with him, since he doesn’t. Send a brief agenda the day before, with updates and request for his perspective. At the end of the meeting, ask what’s the most important thing she could do in the next week, month, quarter. Keep asking until she learns how he thinks.

We also talked about what she could do when Doubt Demon is dancing around.

–Ask open-ended questions, even if you doubt you should. You may be amazed at what it opens up.
–Keep in mind: every one of us, no matter how seasoned, is a work in progress.
–List what you’re grateful for. Gratitude shifts your attention to the positive.
–Do something for someone, virtually or in person. It takes the focus off you.
–Go within, listen deeply, trust your positive instinct.

Phyllis felt better at the end of our call. Articulating what’s gone well, how she’s helped others, what she wants to do, clarified her thoughts on next steps. Including visioning her Doubt Demon getting smaller and smaller as it dances into the sunset.

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