Skype Interview with Nicole Lewis-Keeber
So, what we're gonna talk about, I'm just gonna set this up a little bit before we actually bring Nicole on up here, which is that negative experiences, those bad working environments that we've had, can create negative patterns, and we don't even realize it, right? We don't realize the mental roadblocks that are there. We don't notice the blind spots that we have. We don't notice when we keep bumping up against the same obstacles over and over again, because we've created or recreated these negative experiences through a series of mental patterns, negative patterns. And so, what Nicole Lewis-Keeber really specializes in is helping business owners identify where are those negative experiences? Some of them are work experiences, some of them are relationship experiences. Some of them are familial experiences. Recognizing where those experiences have happened, how we've put up blind spots and blocks in our own brains, where we've gotten ourselves into negative ruts and patterns and then ...
identifying those in our businesses and helping us release them. And so I thought she'd be a perfect person to kind of talk us through how we can be better bosses to ourselves as well as to everybody else. Sound good?
Cool, so I've got some questions for Nicole for your benefit, hopefully, and also mine. But then we're gonna also have the opportunity to have her answer your questions as well. So if there is something that you're thinking about, maybe even a particular scenario in your own business that you would like some help with, definitely keep that in mind, and we'll ask her in just a minute. So, you want to bring Nicole on up? There she is, hey, Nicole.
Hello. (laughs) I love Skype, it's so magical to have people here from all over the world. And thank you, Nicole, for joining us on your travel day in your brand new hotel room. It's very, very awesome of you. So I've just kind of given everybody a background on who you are and what you do, and we'll have you talk a little bit more about that towards the end, but I think we should just dive right into questions, sound good?
Let's do it.
All right, awesome. So, we were just talking about those negative past experiences that we've all had, whether they're work environments, relationships, families. What are some of those negative past experiences that you personally see small business owners recreating as they set up their businesses?
What I see most commonly is people recreating relationship patterns that they've had, either with family members or maybe friends growing up, teachers maybe. So it's some way of relating that they got used to in their life that they'll recreate in their business. Like, for example, let's say you had a really demanding parent, who you could never do anything right, and you're always trying to strive, but you can never get that approval. Oh, my gosh. I see people set that up in their business constantly. I'd say that's the number one.
Excellent example. Does that resonate with you guys? Yeah; Beryl's like, "Yes." (laughs) We've got some resonating here. So you mentioned the "R" word, relationships, and I know it's really important to you for business owners to understand that they are not their business; they're in a relationship with their business. Can you tell us more about that?
I can. (laughs) When we decide to go into business for ourselves, we enter into a relationship, unwittingly. (laughs) And if we don't realize that, then we are ripe for bringing any of those patterns in our old relationship, either family, romantic, friendship, into that business with us, and that can be very detrimental to the health and wealth of the business.
Yeah, absolutely, and so where are some of the places that you see - Well, I guess, let's get into the actual mental blocks, the blind spots, where these recreated bad relationships have started to crop up. Can you give us - You mentioned seeking approval, what are some of the other things that we might be experiencing that we don't even really realize it?
Oh, my goodness. Can I give you an anecdote here that'll might be helpful.
Absolutely, please do.
Perfect, okay. Do I have permission to tell a tiny, teeny story just about how I realized this little demon happening.
You know it.
Context, okay. So, picture it. 5:00 o'clock in the morning. I've woken up. I'm in my business, and I feel like I've already failed. And I feel like a complete loser. And what I realize in that moment, the abridged version, is that I was feeling beat up and abused by my business. So then I asked myself, "Okay, why do I feel beat up and abused here?" Ah-ha! (laughs) Relationship. I was very used to that pattern of behavior in a relationship, and so when I had this light bulb moment, I started to see that I had recreated those really nasty patterns of behavior in my business because I was in a relationship with it. And so this can look very different for each and every person. You know, you can wake up in the morning and the next thing you know, the 1.5 ounces of cheese is super important to you, and you're like, "what the hell?"
Where did that come from? So, what I see most, is that we get into a place of saying, "they" need me to do this. "They" need this; "they" want this. Who is the "they?" This is your business, but what we don't realize that we're in a relationship with it, that business becomes that "they." Our business becomes our father who's demanding, or whomever that was that impacted us getting our value by our business. Make sense?
Absolutely. I'm gonna throw you a curveball here because this is not on the prepared outline list. But, you mentioned this "they," and I hear from a lot of small business owners them using the "they" as their customers, and assuming their customers are abusing them or mistreating them in some way. Are we - I think I'm having an "ah-ha" moment here - (laughs) Are we actually realizing or are we assigning this bad relationship that we're in with our business to these outside people that are paying us, but maybe not treating us the way we'd like to be treated. Is there a transference thing going on there? I don't know if I'm using the right psychology word, but -
Yes. (laughs) Is that clinical? (laughs) Yes, what we have to understand is that this is our business, and we get to decide how it works, whether 1.5 ounces of cheese is important to us or not. And when we don't do that, the "they" becomes our business, but then we project that "they" onto our clients or our employees.
Because they're not giving us what we need. We're not feeling the way we want to feel, and it's a pretty nasty place to be.
Absolutely, okay, so you and I have talked in the past about five steps that we can use to really identify when this is actually happening because that's really the trick, right? Is that we can feel bad, we can feel stressed out, we can start feeling exhausted, we can even maybe say, "All right, yeah, I'm seeking approval," or "I'm defering to authority figures," or whatever the particular mental block is, but how do you actually go about recognizing it on a daily basis and then releasing it? So, can you walk us through those five steps for doing that?
Sure, you know, and it looks different for each and every person, which is why we have these five steps to help you figure out where you are because without judgment, and that's the most important thing. Because when you look at this, you're gonna start to see, "What have I recreated here in my business, and how can I shift it?" So the very first thing that you need to do is to ask yourself, honestly, without judgment, where you're feeling out of control in your business. You know, is it because here you are once again, doing everything even though you have employees? You know, where are you, in that? So, ask yourself that honestly. And then you get curious about when you have felt this way before. Okay, in your life, prior to this. Did it feel this way in a relationship with your parents? Did you have a really mean teacher? That mean boss? Yeah? Am I recreating that? So, look at it, where have you felt this way before? And then you're gonna make a list of the ways that you've overcome this challenge and these situations or these unhealthy relationships in the past. You're gonna make that list. And so then, you're gonna look at that list, and you're gonna see patterns now. Because I guarantee you, a lot of people are gonna walk away from this today and say, "I never realized I was in a relationship with my business." And you're gonna start seeing this pattern immediately. And starting to see where those connections are that maybe you didn't notice before, and you're gonna start to see how those relationships were formed and how you can begin to shift them. You're going to say, "Oh, this feels really familiar. What the hell?" Be kind to yourself because despite the revelations that you're having, I want you to allow yourself to be curious because curiosity without judgment worth this type of depth is concerned. It's so important. And then you're going to learn how you could shift those blocks and those blind spots because now you're gonna see them. You know, so that's gonna impact your business in a positive way because you're gonna be in a healthy relationship with your business now rather than one that's very challenging and very mean and bossy or abusive.
Yeah. I wanna give everybody here a chance to ask - Well, no, maybe not everybody, but anyone who has questions, a chance to dive into this a little bit more. But I'm also curious, what do you see as a vision for having a positive relationship with your business? What, in your opinion, are we aiming toward? What does it feel like to have a great relationship with our businesses?
I think you just have to look at, "Where have I felt that way before?" and mimic that thing.
So, we do the opposite pattern. (laughs)
Exactly. You know, one of the very first things I do with my clients around this is - I love you for doing the exercise earlier about the best place to work, the hardest place - we look at: write down all the characteristics of the mean boss you had. People love to talk about their mean bosses.
Write down all the characteristics of the bosses that you loved. Look at those. Are you that mean boss to yourself? Okay, well stop that, and start looking at the boss that you loved, what these patterns are. And y'all kind of talked about that a little bit earlier. You get to decide this. You create this culture in this relationship. So, what feels good to you, according to relationships you've had in the past? Start there. That's really good place to start.
Beautiful. I love that we can work both ways on that. Who has questions for Nicole, or maybe a situation that you want to kind of workshop with her? I know somebody has got a question for Nicole. This is juicy stuff.
Their minds are blown. (laughs)
Could you go back over the five steps?
Yeah. Nicole, can you go back over those five steps again? Where do we start, and what are we gonna proceed through so that we can start to do this work ourselves?
Sure. So, the very first thing is to realize that when you start into a relationship, a business, you enter into a relationship. That's step one really. But then what you're gonna do is, ask yourself, honestly, without judgment, again, where you're feeling out of control in your business. That's a very good place to start because that's where you're gonna see that recreation of that perhaps abusive relationship or pattern of doing things. Where do I feel out of control?
Actually, and Nicole, I'm gonna pause you there and just ask, like let's do this, who is gonna be a brave volunteer to say, "I am feeling out of control in my business in X area?" Sharon?
I'll go. (laughs) I feel out of control in my business precisely because I'm trying to do everything, so I'm completely overwhelmed, like right now, I feel like I can't even run my business. I have no idea what I'm doing. (laughs)
All right, Megan?
Mine was actually the same. I wrote it down that I'm responsible for everything, and that was a pattern that I saw in my childhood, you know, that I saw that, especially as the mom that I'm supposed to be responsible - I'm supposed to like, take care of everyone.
Ah. Nicole, is that a common one that you see?
Not at all. (audience laughs) I'm kidding.
Oh, we love your sarcasm. (audience laughs) All right, so now we've identified we have this need to take care of everything or just it may have been our default mode, is to take care of everything. What's the next step?
Okay, so get curious about when you have felt this way in your life prior to today, which you all just did a little bit. Say, "Oh, this felt like when I was a kid, you know, my mom showed me that being a woman that, I'm, you know, I have power, is to have responsibility for all the things.
I think that -
That's the second step.
Yeah, I think that's such a great point too because it doesn't have to be necessarily abusive, right? This is a place where you probably really looked up to your mom for taking care of everything and making sure everybody had what they needed. But this is a place also where you need to have that kind of critical thinking behind it and say -
Is it still serving me?
Yeah, exactly. All right, Nicole, what's our next step?
Yeah, so make a list of the ways that you have overcome challenging situations or unhealthy relationships in the past. You overcame them; you started this business for a reason. You've got some gumption. What did you do? What worked? So what you're going to do is look at this list and see if there are some patterns of behavior, connections that you hadn't noticed before in your business, like doing all the things, hiring the employees and not trusting them to do the job. And see how they're impacting your business.
Honestly, and without judgment.
How is having to do all things impacting your businesses? Sharon?
Well, you know, my business is stuck in this plateau that I haven't been able to break through in a few years now.
Yeah, I think it's, I mean, it can only grow so big. You know, it can only get to - you know, there's just so many hours in the day; you only have so much bandwidth. So, if you're responsible for everything, then you're either gonna be on one extreme you're gonna be overwhelmed and burned out, or I'm overwhelmed and burned out. And then on the other extreme, you just can't make anymore forward progress. There's just no resources left.
Or everything takes a lot longer.
Yeah, or everything takes a lot longer.
Or it's not getting done quite to the quality you want because you're just like, "Oh, I gotta just get this done, get this done."
Nicole, I forget what number we're on. (laughs) We need number five?
Yeah. Can I just make a note, just say something about that. That's a very common frustration. And we gotta watch our language around this when we say, "I have to do everything," or, "I have to do this," or "I have to do that." Is that true? Is there some way to shift this? And what is it that's getting in the way of me letting someone else take this over? Delegating it, finding someone else to handle it, or letting, sometimes, the employee we are already paying do the job. What is that thing, honestly, beginning with ourselves.
Yeah. I think that's a great kind of flag for us, what you just mentioned, if you find yourself saying, "I have to" do anything, that's a really good indicator that we need to reexamine some things that may be true, and also, it probably isn't, and there's probably a better way to do it if we start having a healthier relationship with our business, right?
All right, so, be kind to yourself. I'm big on this because this is all information. I don't know about you, but I wasn't in business for myself before. I was a therapist, so, you know, this is all new information that we're figuring out, right? So, allow yourself to have curiosity without judgment to help yourself be able to see, "Oh, this is an area I need to shift in my business. This is the blind spot I didn't realize I had before." So that you can begin to follow up with different ways of being. This is all about pattern disruption.
I love it. Pattern disruption. (laughs) And you have to recognize the pattern to disrupt it, right? And that's really what you're talking to us about here. Any other questions or scenarios, now that we've kind of clarified the process a little bit more, that you wanna talk to Nicole about? Shelly?
You mentioned language, so what do you think about when people say, "I should do this," or, "I should do that?"
When people say, "I should?"
Yeah, they start "shoulding" all over themselves. (laughs)
Yeah, I love that term. I always ask, "Do you?" (laughs) I love to ask the question, "Is that true?" Because, a lot of the times, it's not. Sometimes it's a familiar feeling of feeling obligated to do something that maybe you're doing in your business that you don't really wanna do, but you feel obligated because "they" will get mad. So, I always ask that question, "Is that true?"
Yeah, I think that even plays into all of the, you know, when you're consuming all this great education, like this class, right, and you're like, "Well, I should do this," and, "I should do that," and you haven't stopped to ask yourself if that's actually true for you. So, yes, it's on the client's side; yes, it's on the business side. And it's also on the, you know, just all the information that we're constantly consuming and I can absolutely see how, you know, so many of us, maybe not all of us, but so many of us have been trained to be responsive to being told to do something, right? Whether it was school, whether it was previous working environments, whether it was our family, we've been put in places where we need to respond to what we're being told to do and it can create these really negative patterns in our businesses.
It so can. Now, when you look at that, you know, that pattern of behavior, you can kind of go back to it, and say, "Oh, my gosh, I lost my track." When you're looking at your business as a relationship, that is your key. That is your benchmark. Those are the red flags and the places to stick it - (laughs) Say, "How is this working out for me?" "Is it not working out for me?" And as you said earlier, that vision and that mission, whenever you find yourself "shoulding" on yourself, this idea or this thing that someone's asking you to do, is it in alignment with your vision or mission? And if it is, then maybe it's something that you are going to do, and if it's not, it's probably something you can let go.
I love it. Any other questions for Nicole? Well, Nicole, I think you've probably got some wheels turning, both here, yes, there's nodding. I don't know if you can see us or not. (laughs) And I know that there's probably nodding at home as well. So where can we find out more about thinking through the work that you do, and then just thinking through the relationship that we have with our business, both so that we can take care of employee number one, and so that we can take care of anyone we hire as well?
You can do two things. You can follow me on Medium, because I write a lot about this there. It's Nicole Lewis-Keeber on Medium. And my website is nicole.lewis-keeber.com.
Nicole.Lewis-Keeber.com. Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom with us and kind of talking us through this process of identifying where those blocks and blind spots might be, how they might have been impacting us from previous relationships, whether they're working relationships, or family, or romantic relationships, and how we can start to release those. Super helpful as we start thinking, or as we continue thinking, through what our ideal work environment is. Nicole, thank you. Have a great rest of your day, and a great trip.
Thanks, Nicole. (audience applause)