I am so ashamed of how badly I effed up.
“I am a horrible person and a horrible coach, of course, I don’t deserve a business that goes well. “
“I’ve ruined everything — how could I be so stupid?”
“I’m such an F-up. I just can’t believe myself.”
This was the thought process after I took one of the most significant missteps of my career.
One of my clients was telling me how much our work together was changing her life. That she would love to help me because of all I’d done for her — was there anything she could do?
I told her the truth — “all those lovely things you just said about me would be great in a testimonial.”
End of conversation.
She did write me a beautiful and glowing testimonial all about the transformation and results she experienced in her life and business from our work together.
So, what’s the issue?
No, she didn’t change her testimonial saying I had pressured her to write it.
No, she didn’t lie and make up results that weren’t true.
No, I didn’t do any of the other things you’re imagining…
I made the mistake already. In the comment about testimonials being valuable in my business.
This particular woman was a client who another coach referred to me.
A coach who had been my coach and mentor.
A coach who I adored, admired, and respected immensely.
This coach — when we finished our coaching relationship asked me if I’d be open to taking referrals from her. She was up-leveling her business with a focus on group programs and courses and didn’t have time for all the one-on-one inquiries she received.
I was ecstatic! This was at the beginning of my coaching career, and my lead flow was *ahem* not at the same level as hers.
It seemed like the perfect situation.
(Narrator voice over: “It was NOT the perfect situation.”)
But I signed on the dotted line. Amongst other things, I legally agreed not to ask any of the clients that I served, that she referred, for testimonials.
And then I did the thing I said I wouldn’t do.
And it caught up to me fast.
Three days after I’d spoken to the client, she posted her review on a review site.
Later that day, I got a call from my former coach and mentor.
She said that her team saw a “flood of reviews” come in from clients that she had referred me.
She told me that when her team told her this, her response was, “No, I don’t believe it! I know that Crystal wouldn’t do anything like that. She wouldn’t tear other people down so that she could get ahead. I can’t imagine her trying to destroy my business as she works her way to the top.”
Her words burned my chest, and I felt a sting as tears sprang to my eyes. Even writing it several years after the fact brings a dark, dense, lump into my chest that I paused my writing to feel.
This wasn’t just any person saying this words. This was a woman who I felt deeply connected to…
...who I respected
...who I admired
...who I loved
Whose relationship was incredibly valuable and meaningful to me. I was concerned less about the money and our contractual agreement, but about potentially losing this relationship that felt sacred to me. I mean, coaching relationships, ARE sacred and this had been my first one. I had shared things with this woman that no one else in my life had ever heard.
And she was telling me that she saw me as a backstabber. An ungrateful, sneaky, climber who would do what it takes to excel.
That was painful.
But what was worse was when I allowed myself to believe it.
It’s like I thought I knew who I was…
I thought I was a kind, smart, loving, caring person.
Hard-working? Often enough.
Disloyal? Uhh, not generally.
Untrustworthy? I mean, I don’t think so.
Unkind, ungrateful, deceitful, sneaky backstabbing climber? Well, I never thought of it that way, but maybe.
That was the story I began telling about myself. Because that was what I perceived from this woman I so admired. But what I know now is…
1 | YOU DON’T NEED ANYONE TO BE YOUR SAVIOR
I hired this woman initially as my coach and paid her around $7,000 and was determined to get the most out of the experience. I took a lot of action. I did exactly what she told me. I started seeing results immediately. I was excited to see my fledgling business stand on its wobbly new legs.
Yes, her guidance was tremendously valuable. I LOVED having her as my coach. But I attributed ALL my success to her.
When we finished our coaching relationship and she talked about sending me leads, I felt like this was exactly what I needed. That this would “save me.”
But I didn’t need any saving.
And what I *actually* needed was to keep doing the work I had started and focus on building my own business.
Regardless, I don’t know if she even thought about it after it happened. But I did. And I kept telling myself the story I created based on what I imagined she felt about me…
2 | FORGIVE YOURSELF
I was punishing myself long after we ended the contractual relationship and I stopped getting leads. I was maybe more pissed at me than she was. I was saying these horrible things about myself, even as the other people around me were reflecting that I was not a bad person.
But here’s where the rubber meets the road…
I’ve read The Four Agreements
I’m a lawyer and now coach
I put a ton of value on my trustworthiness and integrity.
And then I did an action that was out of integrity.
So I punished myself harshly…
...any challenges I had in business I chalked up to not being worthy or deserving of a well-working successful business because I’m an untrustworthy person without integrity
...I kept myself small for fear that I would come on her radar and she would have venomous hatred towards me
...I connected with fewer people within my industry in case they knew her and she felt inclined to tell them to stay away from me because I’m a horrible person
I could go on, but you get the idea.
It’s worth noting, as far as I know, this woman is a kind and respectful person and would never intentionally hurt someone else or their business.
I’m projecting my guilt, shame, and worst fears onto her.
Which doesn’t serve me. What I needed was to extend forgiveness to myself. We all deserve at least that.
I’ll never know if the thoughts I've attributed to her are real or not and the truth of the matter is it doesn’t matter because it’s not my business.
3 | IT’S NOT YOUR BUSINESS WHAT SOMEONE ELSE THINKS OF YOU
The truth or falseness of the story I created in my mind about her is irrelevant and as Byron Katie says, none of my business.
Katie says there are three types of business in the world.
First, there’s G-d or the Universe’s business. This is natural disasters, hurricanes, tornadoes, forest fires, earthquakes, wars, etc. Things that are out of the control of any one individual. That’s G-d’s business and we’d do best to keep our noses out of it.
Then there’s other people’s thoughts, feelings, emotions, actions, behaviors, words, etc. That’s their business, and not ours.
Then there’s our own business. Your thoughts, feelings, emotions, etc. That’s where you need to keep your energy and attention. ‘Cause much of the individual suffering we experience comes from being in someone else’s business. Plus, when you’re in someone else’s business, there’s no one to be in your business and running your life.
I was causing myself so much suffering by holding onto all this stuff.
I hadn’t intentionally done anything.
I did what humans do.
I made a mistake.
4 | YOU’RE ALLOWED TO MAKE MISTAKES
I’m a human. If you’re reading this, you’re a human. And as humans, we’re allowed to make mistakes. We aren’t required to be perfect.
As someone who is actively *overcoming* perfectionism...well...I’m struggling to understand that perfectly.
Some mistakes are bigger than others and will have much further reaching consequences. But you’re still allowed.
I really made two mistakes in this story — of course, going against the contract, but also agreeing to the contract in the first place.
5 | DON’T SIGN SOMETHING YOU’RE NOT IN ALIGNMENT WITH
If you sign a contract, abide by it.
If you don’t want to abide by it, you’re not in alignment with it.
If you’re not in alignment with it, don’t sign it.
There is always another opportunity available to you. There is more coming to you. If you want something, then you receive something that’s close, but not quite it.
It’s ok to say, “close, but not quite. I’ll wait.”
6 | HAVE ANOTHER LAWYER LOOK OVER YOUR CONTRACT.
If you're aligned with an opportunity that requires a contract, have a lawyer (other than yourself) look it over, and listen to them. I had to make that caveat for those of you who are lawyers.
‘Cause I am a lawyer.
But it’s not enough for me to look over my contracts.
There’s no objectivity.
If I were advising someone else on the contract and she had the concerns that I did I would have told her, “don’t you dare sign that without some changes.”
7 | LISTEN TO YOUR LAWYER. AND YOUR MOTHER.
Now, I did seek out another lawyer. My mother.
She looked over the contract.
She told me, “don’t you dare sign without changes.”
I didn’t listen to her.
I wanted it to work. I needed it to work. I felt it was the only way for me to get what I wanted.
Also known as scarcity mindset.
8 | DON’T MAKE DECISIONS FROM A PLACE OF SCARCITY
Fear and scarcity can block your best judgment. If I had been operating from the state that’s most natural to all of us — open to and recognizing the abundance that’s always available, I wouldn’t have signed the contract as it was.
I would have told my mentor, whom I adored, that I didn’t think the arrangement was best for both of us...
I would have recognized that I have infinite creativity and capability needed to build a biz...
I would have known that I can be, do, or have whatever I want without compromising my alignment or integrity…
But coulda, woulda, shouldas are wasted energy. Because everything is happening in our lives as it’s supposed to. I created this experience, as did she.
Do your best Forgive yourself for being. That’s all you can do.
Onward and upward — I know magic is available for you.
Let me know in the comments if this resonates. Have you ever made a mistake in your biz? How did you deal with it?