Work with Me
Feel better, focus more and do big things
As an academic who has mentored hundreds of people from the BA to the PhD level and beyond, one of my professional specialties is helping people bring their very best work into the world.
So I have seen first-hand that what holds people back is rarely a lack of talent or effort. 99% of the time, people get stuck because of how they feel about doing the work. And how they feel is fucking terrible.
This terribleness shows up in lots of ways, but they fall into two general categories: hiding and chasing.
When we’re in hiding mode, we’re not actually putting everything we have into our work. We sign up for an MA program but we keep skipping class. We procrastinate until we have to prepare the presentation in the last five hours. We stay in a job that we know isn’t challenging us under the guise of security.
We lay awake at night worrying we’ll never actually write that novel or start our business or go back to school. We live our lives with a secret conviction that we haven’t tapped into the best that’s in us, and it’s soul-destroying. It keeps us at war with ourselves, and it comes out in ways we don’t like when we see other people living their dreams, especially if those dreams bear any resemblance to ours.
The second one is the mirror opposite: chasing.
When we’re in chasing mode, we’re going full throttle after big goals, but we never seem to reach the pay off we thought we’d get. We finish the PhD, we launch the IPO, we win the big grant, and we feel great for about five minutes. And then 24 hours later, it’s like it never happened. So we go after the next goal and the next and the next, only to have the same thing happen.
Until one day we have to face it: none of this is making us feel any better. And if we’re not going to feel better, then what, exactly, was the fucking point? We hit what looks like a total dead end. We can’t keep using our talents to chase success, but we also have no idea what to do instead.
Either of those sound familiar? How about both? Because even though these problems look like opposites, hiding and chasing usually go hand in hand. The same people switch between them over the course of a life or even a day.
So we spend weeks on easy stuff that earns us lots of pats on the back, but meanwhile we’re hiding from doing the big project that scares us. Or we put off making art for years, only to get immediately sucked into chasing mode as soon as we start an MFA.
And that makes total sense because hiding and chasing are both symptoms of the same fucked up way that we’re taught to think about talent, self-worth and validation. We hide and we chase for the exact same reason: because we think that being good at something is the measure of how much we count in the world.
When we’re hiding, it’s because we’re terrified to actually find out how much/whether we count. When we’re chasing, it’s because we keep hoping the next hurdle will finally, definitively prove that we count.
In both cases, the premise is flawed. Using our talents won’t fix us or make us worthy. But accepting that means we have to find another way to deal with feeling less-than and unworthy in the first place, and that often feels impossible.
So most of us just keep hiding and chasing until we hit a wall, and it seems like we just can’t keep doing it anymore. This is not a fun moment, I can say from personal experience. I only got over the wall with help—a lot of help.
And it took longer than it might have, because some of the help I sought out wasn’t actually that useful. It reduced the hiding and chasing, but without getting at the beliefs that were driving them. And that meant they eventually came back.
I have seen the same issue plague so many people in my academic work. The help that's available doesn't create permanent change, because it doesn't address the core level where all the hiding and chasing is coming from in the first place.
This core level is where my coaching operates. I use tools from narrative analysis, philosophy of mind, and cognitive psychology to help my clients identify, dismantle and rebuild the thought systems we each carry about talent, achievement and self-worth.
The process is intensive, challenging and radical, in the original sense of the word: thorough, far-reaching, profound. It’s also rigorous and often counter-intuitive, which is why it’s tailor-made for smart, skeptical people who thrive on stretching their brains.
Here’s what I can promise at the end: your life will no longer be about hiding and chasing. You’ll be able to use your talents with joy, purpose and commitment. It won’t feel intolerable to be present while doing your work, or empty and unrewarding at the end. You’ll have the kind of relationship to ambition and accomplishment that serves you and makes you feel at peace in the world, rather than leaving you feeling tormented, stuck and incomplete.
What’s more, it will be interesting getting there. In every coaching session, we work together to create something entirely new in the way you comprehend your experience, with no predetermined answer. We think hard, and we create big, permanent results for you. The process is immersive, powerful and world-expanding. It’s like taking the lid off your life.
In addition to one-on-one coaching, I also offer occasional larger coaching workshops, send out emails with tips and tools you can use on your own (never more than once a week), and regularly publish new resources here and elsewhere.
If you'd like to be notified when these sorts of resources become available, you can sign up here.