Believe Your Way Forward


Slack line in the city park.

Time after time, a huge truth is revealed to me:

Whatever you believe becomes your reality.

About six months ago, a woman came to me for coaching. A Vice President in a Fortune 50 company, she was worried because someone was promoted over her.

Someone younger.

Someone male.

And, in her late 50s, she wondered if she was getting sent a message. Perhaps she was getting sunsetted. Maybe they were getting ready to let her go. Maybe this was her terminal job and she’d never ever get hired again.

After all, who hires someone who’s 57 years old?

As a result of these assumptions, she worked extremely hard and went above and beyond to deliver results. Early mornings, late evenings, travel, conference calls, meetings and paperwork. She did it all.

And it felt like no one noticed. And it was never enough.

When we first met, her stress level was through the roof. I mean, stratospheric.

I knew what she needed – she needed  to rebuild her confidence and develop a strategy to manage the worry. She also had to figure out what was true about her work situation.

Because what you believe becomes your reality.

And she surely believed things were pretty terrible.

Long story short, among the things we did was to create a strategy for her to become more visible – in the office and out of the office. So, when offered a speaking role at a big conference, she said yes.

No, wait a minute. She said, “Yes!!”

Afterwards, people gave her amazing feedback about her presentation and she felt really good about how the whole conference went.

Then, one day, her phone rang. It was the CEO of a boutique-y company that excels in her area of expertise. In fact, they are more highly regarded than her company in this particular area.

The CEO said, “I’ve had my eye on you. Will you come work for me?”

Would she? Let’s see – more money, better title, solid-line reporting to the CEO.

And suddenly the assumption that no one hires a 57-year old woman went out the door.

And a new truth was unveiled:

“I am appreciated for what I do.”

Which is something pretty wonderful to believe.

So let me ask you: What reality are you believing into existence?


The Burnout Remedy




Tropical IslandOne day someone just might ask you, “So…what do you really want?” And in that moment, deep within your particular answer, there’s so much to learn.

Because if you quickly blurt out an answer, it could be your heart’s desire making itself clear. Which is a good thing.

But, you might pause and make a very calculated response – the response you know the asker is dying to hear – and you’ll learn something about how far you are willing to go to please others. Rather than yourself.

And if, when asked what you really want, you completely draw a blank – a stone cold, deer in the headlights head scratcher – well, then, you may have uncovered an incontrovertible truth.

It’s very likely you are burned out. 

Roasted, toasted, fried crispy burned out.

Sapped of every ounce of your imagination by the grind of the relentless, day-to-day busyness that is your life.

Gah, I am exhausted just thinking about it.

Aren’t you?

So what do you do when you are a walking tortilla chip, unable to even identify one thing you really want?

First, take a break. I’m not saying it has to be a month in Fiji, but that would be cool if you could pull it off.

But I bet you can find a single day.

One whole day for yourself. And just in case you aren’t clear, “for yourself” translates into: no chores, no work, no obligations. 

(Now some of you are starting to hyperventilate because that seems so lazy. So indulgent. So “not me”.)

(Others are anxious because there’s so much to be done. There’s always so much to do. Got to keep doing!)

(Still, one or two of you are frantic because you fear that if you step away for even one day, someone might jump in and take your place and then where will you be? Living in a van down by the river, that’s where, mumbling about Gantt charts and pivot tables.)

(And, if you don’t mind me saying so, it’s exactly this type of do-do-do, fear-based drama that has drained you, my darling.)

On this For Yourself Day, you are to find something that restores your energy. Something to block out the noise and haste and allow you to reconnect with the Essential You.

Because your Essential You is really pretty fantastic. You may have forgotten just how fantastic, but with a little time and attention, you can find You again.

For yours truly, I find myself when taking a walk in nature, reading a great book, seeing art, doing a little writing, and preparing a tasty meal.

(As you can see, I have faced burn out once, twice or a zillion times in my life.)

At the end of a day such as this, a day when you’ve attended to your own self and your own energy, it’s entirely possible that you will have found an answer to the question, “So…what do you really want?”

And whatever it is, it will be your answer.


And it will be exactly the right one. Which will feel both totally exciting and utterly relieving.

So, let me ask you… when are you taking that day for yourself?


[Editor's Note: My office will be closed on Wednesday.]




The Moral Of The Story




Inside a cardboard box concept for moving house, creativity or t

Let me tell you a story.

It’s a story about bravely facing fear – a big, lifetime kind of fear – and emerging stronger than you ever thought you could be.

Let me tell you a story about quitting a job.

Once upon a time, there was a woman who we’ll call Diane. For a long time, Diane had a dream – she wanted to have her own consulting and coaching business. She studied and learned and grew, but the reality of being a single mom and getting her kids launched weighed heavily on her mind. Money and security worries haunted her every moment.

So, like a lot of people, Diane put aside her dream in service to her family and their needs.

She commited to a corporate job with a big, international powerhouse.

Now, Diane was good at her corporate work and became a Vice President who consistently found herself at the ear of the CEO talking about strategy, vision and big picture issues. In response to one of the Big Vision Items, she developed a ground-breaking program that became widely implemented throughout the organization.

Diane routinely traveled the world from Asia to Europe. She was on so many conference calls that she almost forgot what it was like to meet with people face-to-face. Don’t even think about the quantity of email she managed.

Her pace was frenetic and challenging, but she was contributing, and excelling, and that felt very good.

And her children were becoming purposeful young adults and moving into their own lives, and that also felt very good.

She had a little nest egg, and that felt very good, too.

But then, suddenly, some things began to feel less good.

The CEO left and was replaced by someone who didn’t see Diane in the same light. She found herself shuffled around, and excluded, and reporting to someone she wasn’t so sure about.

It was confusing and unsettling.

Then one day her boss said that Diane would be let go at the end of the next quarter.

So Diane did what many of us in that situation would do – she worked like the devil to make sure no one would ever say that she left the place worse off than she found it.

A little voice began in her head – the little voice so many single moms hear, “What am I going to do about money? How can I ever replace my corporate salary in my own business?” – and Diane began to panic a little.

At the end of that quarter, Diane fully expected to be let go. She was prepared for it. Instead, her supervisor said, “Will you stay through the next quarter just so we can get everything really buttoned up?” And Diane, feeling the worry of pending financial doom, said “Sure!” and again worked like the devil to produce.

One quarter led to another with yet another extension, a flurry of production from Diane, more money into her savings, and a stressful future.

And then one day Diane took a deep breath. She stepped back. She got very still and reflected. She called a friend who asked:

What did she really want?

What was holding her back?

Was it true she didn’t have enough money to start her own business?

Was she going to wait any longer to do what she really wanted to do? Or was she going to allow the company to continue to string her along?

How long was she going to continue to jump to meet the demands of others?

How long was she willing to postpone her dream?

She sat down, right there, and composed her resignation letter. Because she’s who she is, she sent it to an employment lawyer friend who tweaked it and sent it back.

Diane submitted it.

She waited.

Until the HR head called to say, “We’re not accepting your resignation.”


“I’ve never seen anything like it,” the HR woman said. “The conversations around this were so interesting.”

Diane felt herself getting mad.

Until the HR head said, “You see, you are so well-regarded and so appreciated around her that we’re not going to accept your resignation – we’re going to fire you and give you a severance package of six months of full pay plus your full bonus plus pay you for all of your unused vacation days.”

(That’s a big bonus and 270 unused vacation days, by the way.)

Diane laughed out loud. 

Her future now looked very different. Now, she could take the leap into self-employment without fear.

Now, she could finally live her dream.

It had only taken saying, “No. Enough. No more. Here is where I stop” to get exactly what she needed. 

And that, friends, is the moral of the story.


The Business of Coaching LIVE! 2015


The Business of Coaching LIVE! 2015

 Friday, June 5 – Saturday June 6, 2015

 Arlington, Virginia


~ amplify your  success ~


In 2012, Laurie Foley and I gave a workshop to over sixty coaches where we shared how to create a viable, sustainable coaching practice.

michele woodward

Michele Woodward

We lifted the veil that often hides the facts about coaching revenue, and clearly showed how much money we made as coaches.

Yes, jaws dropped.

And one or two coaches got angry because they had bought into the “Six Weeks To Six Figures” meme used in the coaching world.

Now, not for a moment were Laurie and I “Debbie Downers”.  We calmly and patiently explained that there is no method or template for creating a sustainable coaching practice – the best approach is to create a business that reflects your priorities and leverages your strengths.

Laurie Foley

Laurie Foley

People walked out of that session with a sense of optimism, and a real, workable plan for creating great businesses.

As a certified Martha Beck Life Coach, I had the opportunity to attend a Martha Beck Coaches conference in March of 2012. Of all the seminars and workshops available that weekend, I headed straight for The Business of Coaching with Michele Woodward and Laurie Foley. At that point, I was a few years into what I then called ‘my coaching practice.’ Well, when I walked out of their workshop, I walked into ‘my coaching business.’ The tools, insights and inspiration that Michele and Laurie shared on those two days shifted my mindset, my knowledge and how I saw myself in my business. Their authenticity and transparency ignited a fire in me. This wasn’t a bonfire, though I was indeed fired up as I flew home that Sunday. No, this workshop lit a pilot light within me that has sustained my growth, guided my vision, and supported me in creating a life and life’s work that is rich and fulfilling both for myself and the clients I am honored to serve. The Business of Coaching 2015 will not only be an invaluable gift for yourself, it will be the best ‘invest in your business’ decision you make this year.”
–Mary Welty-Dapkus, CEO Fresh Intuition Coaching and Consulting

Shortly thereafter, Laurie and I started The Business of Coaching Facebook group as a way for those participants to gather and continue to work on creating businesses that matter.

The group has exceeded our wildest expectations in terms of helpfulness – one to another – kindness, and resourcefulness.

In 2014, we tacked on a Business of Coaching event to the International Coach Federation’s Capital Coaches conference in June. The event was a roaring success, with eyes opened, plans made and friendships cemented.

And I announced it was the last live event I was ever going to do.

But 2015 dawned and the Facebook group continues to grow – we’re at 950 members now – and I realized that we need another in-person event.

Because that’s where people connect, and connecting is one of my most valued treasures. And that’s where people really learn – another thing I value intensely.

So, here we go.

The Business of Coaching LIVE! 2015 will be held at my house – so you will have the opportunity to inspect for dust bunnies, examine the books in my library, and generally nose around under the couch cushions for spare change. By doing the event at my house, we’ll save ourselves the hassles of dealing with hotel management.

We’ll be working on AMPLIFYING your business. Discovering what’s working and making a plan to do more of that.

Because, and you may quote me on this:

Happiness is best defined as doing more of what you like and are good at, and less of what you don’t like – even if you ARE good at it.


Nona Jordan

Joining me to deliver the program is Nona Jordan, Master Coach and general awesome human. And, Laurie Foley will attend if she can – depending on her health and the demands of her wide swath of groupies.

In a nutshell, here’s what the schedule looks like:

Friday, June 5th

1pm – meet at my house in Arlington, VA, for the opening, foundational part of our work together

6pm – stay for dinner

Saturday, June 6th

9am – meet at my house for more work

12 noon – lunch and a walk in the forest

4pm – we’ll wrap up with love and a deep sense of accomplishment

Price: $525, limited to 30 participants (full refunds until May 1st. Cancellations after May 1st will be refunded 50%)

Enroll in The Business of Coaching LIVE

Dixie and Renee

Dixie St. John and Renee Sievert

Sunday, June 7th

Optional – Equus coaching workshop with Master Coaches Renee Sievert, Dixie St. John, and me. You’ll get intense one-on-one experiences with the horses and expert coaching to tease out concrete next steps you can take arising from your increased awareness. Will be held at the Rainbow Therapeutic Riding Center, Haymarket, VA. Price: $625, limited to 12 participants   7 spots left. (full refunds until May 1st. Cancellations after May 1st will be refunded 50%)

“The Equus Leadership Experience was memorable, instructive, and life-affirming! I learned that uncertainty is opportunity, assumptions need to be questioned, and recognition of teamwork is essential.” ~ Travis H., Business Development and Communications Strategist

Enroll in The Equus Coaching Workshop
Monday, June 8th – Wednesday June 10th

EQ-i 360Optional – EQ-i 2.0 Certification training offered by OKA Associates, Fairfax, VA. Click here for more information and use MW2015 to get a 15% discount off the registration fee.

Now, to wrap up.

Here’s my promise to you.

If you come to this event, you will enjoy yourself.

You will get clarity on your business.

You will discover new ways to promote your work and market your business.

Ways that will feel joyful, not icky.

You will feel energized.

You will meet new friends and rekindle connections with old friends.

You will feel… amplified.

Please join us. Will you?



A Blast From The Past

Baby Michele


When you look back, what do you see?

Every March, I take a look back – which is pretty natural because it’s my birthday month.

This March I’ll be turning 55 (double nickels, baby) which is older than some and younger than many. I’ve also been asked to moderate a panel for active duty and retired female military officers at a career conferencelater this week. The topic I’m moderating is “A Letter To Your Younger Self.”

Funny how everything’s coming together for me to be even more reflective this March.

In 1960, when I was born, the world was a much different place. Global population was about a third the size it is today, and it felt like there was plenty of open space here and out in the galaxy. We were a year away from a visit to space – the Soviet launch of Yuri Gagarin into Earth’s orbit followed closely by US astronaut Alan Shepard, in a demonstration of the competitiveness of the Cold War.

How surprised would the world have been in 1960 to learn that the Soviet Union would crumble and capitalism would come to Communist nations?

When I was born, the U.S. had segregation – Dr. King had yet to march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, and even though Brown vs. Board had been settled, few schools had been desegregated.

Could we even have fathomed the relative ordinariness of seeing people of color as CEOs, Presidents, politicians, doctors, lawyers and professors not only in the US, but around the world?

Women, in my childhood, had a slim choice of jobs if they wanted to work: nurse, teacher, secretary, waitress, domestic help or bookkeeper. Even the brightest women faced a thick, impenetrable glass ceiling.

Small Michele might not have believed what’s possible today. Had anyone said that she would grow up to work with executives around the world who want to get better at their jobs, and that she’d do it from home, most often wearing yoga pants and a fleece pullover, while making a very good living, Wee Michele probably would have asked:

“What’s yoga?”

But some things today are exactly the same as they were when I was born. And these are things I’m exceptionally glad for:

People still fall in love.

Folks still have best friends.

Most of us offer help when we see someone in trouble.

Children smile and the world is all right.

We cheer for the underdog and applaud our heroes.

We laugh at each other’s jokes.

Songs are sung.

Meals are shared.

Lips are kissed.

Yes, we humans still see possibilities.

We still make things happen.

We still believe.

And after all these years, and all that change, that’s the world I believe you and I really want.