The stories I tell myself about…

After my last coaching call, a friend shared this article with a reminder about Renée Brown’s book “Rising Strong“. Basically, the story you make up in your mind in the absence of information is not necessarily the full truth. And given that our minds are much more creative around detecting fear, you are more likely to make up a horror story than a beautiful happy ending.

That’s exactly what happened to me during a recent trip I did for work, talking at a conference about quality in support. When I walked down from the stage, I felt horrible. The company had sent me all over from the EU, giving me extra days to mitigate the impact of a 9 hour time zone shift… and my presentation definitely was not good enough. I certainly wasn’t good enough to receive this opportunity. And surely the presentation I just did was meaningless in comparison. 

I found more and more reasons why I was being irrealistic in my aspirations as a speaker, as a champion for quality, as a human being.

And then I ran into my audience.

“Thank you so much for the brilliant talk! I learned so much!”

“I just wanted to congratulate you on the talk. Those were great ideas, and I am already planning on how to implement them.”

Wait, what? Were they talking about ME? About MY TALK?

Sometimes all it takes is a reality check

I learned something very important that day (and extra kudos to my coach Steph for helping me to see that and use the insight): The stories I tell myself are incomplete and tend towards the negative. I need to fact-check with outside voices from time to time to give my inner voice the ability to defend myself from myself. 

So, instead of berating myself for attending and speaking at a conference that’s at the very core of my chosen career, I have created this counter-story for my critical self:

This was an amazing opportunity to share the work I am doing internally to a wider audience. I believe that by improving the quality of replies among support agents, both the agents as well as the customers are better served. Investing into quality in support increases net happiness and loyalty on both sides.

My presence in Portland provided an example to attendees that quality can scale, and that it’s not a side-endeavour but part of a strategy of excellence. I am proud that I had the opportunity to make a mark on those who attended the talk (and those who came up to discuss ideas with me afterward) and to showcase WooCommerce as a role model in taking customers seriously.

Because I am not only good enough, I am an expert in my field who deserves to be heard. 

[This post is part of my journey with my career coach Stephanie Vora, a perk offered by Automattic. You can find all posts here.]


  1. Abhijith Padmakumar
    9th August 2017

    Great write up and just beautiful. I just loved your thoughts and words ?

  2. Maria Górska
    9th August 2017

    Funny how I never thought coaching would be for me, but I totally see myself in all the posts from your coaching series. Perhaps I should consider getting a coach as well? 🙂

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