Overcoming the High Achievement Trap with Laura Honeycutt

Overcoming the High Achievement Trap with Laura Honeycutt

“This is not exclusive to women. This is everybody. We have come to view failure as something bad, and that is probably because somewhere along the way you had an experience where you failed and misery ensued.” - Laura Honeycutt 

You may have heard that we all have infinite power (and we do!), but how can each one of us draw it out of ourselves in order to use this power in all aspects of our lives? I’m so excited to be bringing you today’s Brave By Design guest, because she has made it her life’s work to answer this critical question.

Laura Honeycutt had a successful 25-year career in advertising, but she always struggled with the need for constant validation by others. When she didn't get it, she would make up incredible stories that threatened her self- confidence and forced her to change jobs before she was "found out" to be the fraud she thought she was. Laura also made too many personal sacrifices in the name of her career, and often felt bitter about it. This wasn't how she wanted to live. In her desperate search for a solution, she explored executive coaching. And that's when she discovered the transformative effect coaching can have on not only a person's career, but also their life.

Laura took a trust fall with the Universe. She left my lucrative career and became a certified coach. She started her own practice. Now, it's her turn to share the gifts of transformation with other women. To help you see what's in your way (spoiler alert: it's you!). To help you clear it away and manifest your vision. Life is really too precious and short to waste it mired in self doubt, inertia or fear.

As you’ll hear, this episode with Laura is all about turning your perception of yourself around, and ultimately, taking back your power.

Get the free video series on The Five Habits That Help Women Rise:

http://bravebydesign.net/fivehabits

Learn more about working with Laura one-on-one:
https://www.bravebydesign.net/private-coaching

Invite Laura to speak at your live or virtual event https://www.bravebydesign.net/work-together

Connect with Laura Khalil online:

instagram.com/iambravebydesign

linkedIn.com/in/LauraKhalil



What You’ll Hear In This Episode: 

  • What it is really like to work in a high-pressure corporate setting in advertising, and some key lessons Laura learned from this experience [2:18]

  • How interactions with bullies in the workplace affects your inner thoughts and feeds the imposter syndrome [8:20]

  • Her tips for dealing with your negative self-talk and some ways to process these feelings in order to move on and enrich your authentic self [12:53]

  • What you can do to start building your self-validation muscle muscle now - because you may not get it from anyone else [18:00]

  • Things leaders can do, and avoid, in order to truly empower the team that works with them [24:53]

Additional Links & Resources:

Get Laura’s 7-Step Guide to Helping You Crush the Symptoms of Imposter Syndrome! & Watch For Her New Unleash Your Inner Badass 3-Day Bootcamp

Schedule a Badass Breakthrough Session with Laura 


Support the show (https://www.paypal.me/bravebydesign)

Transcript
Laura Honeycutt :

This is not exclusive to women. This is everybody. We have come to view failure as something bad. And that's probably because somewhere along the way you had an experience where you failed and misery ensued.

Laura Khalil :

Welcome to brave by design. I'm your host Laura Khalil. I'm an entrepreneur, coach and speaker. I love thinking bake, exploring the power of personal development and sharing the best strategies from thought leaders and pioneers in business to empower ambitious women and allies to bravely rise and thrive. Let's get started. Everyone, welcome to this episode of brave by design. I cannot wait for my discussion today with Laura Honeycutt. Let me tell you a little bit about her. She is a 25 year advertising veteran who went from a burnout with imposter syndrome to personal power accelerator. Yes, she led award winning advertising efforts for multiple million fortune 500 brands like Walt Disney, Hallmark cards, Sprint, Kraft, Heinz, and agencies like Leo Burnett 360 I FCB, all while living with a fierce case of imposter syndrome. And I know there are people listening to this, who feel that coaching changed all of that. And now she partners with clients to claim their personal power in order to reduce stress, increase productivity, elevate confidence and overcome exhausting politics bias and toxic work cultures. Laura, welcome to brave

Laura Honeycutt :

by design. So much, Laura, so great to be here.

Laura Khalil :

You know, we had a really inspiring conversation about a month ago and I'm going to go back to something that I said on the podcast A while ago, the benefit of talking to strangers So you and I did not know one another. We are complete strangers. And I am a real advocate for talking to people who are in your space adjacent to your space and we just really hit it off and I wanted to have you on the show. Because I think that what you've experienced in your career, and how you help people now will resonate with a lot of women who are in high powered roles who feel like they have to hold it all together. So let's back up, like, tell us about, you're like an ad exec, a marketing exec. Take us back there and what's going on?

Laura Honeycutt :

Yeah, well, it sounds so sexy, right? Like, I work in advertising. And I've always laughed every time I've watched TV shows or movies where you know, the protagonist works in an ad agency, and they portray it to be this like super glamorous, so glam. Right? It's like, Who doesn't want to work in this industry? And what they don't realize is like, we're all sitting at our desk, eating a french fry for dinner that we found, you know, under the desk because we're starving and it's 11 o'clock at night. And we had an apple for lunch and so

Laura Khalil :

many Can I just interrupt you to say so what people don't realize the ugly underbelly of advertising agencies, is people work like dogs. Yeah, in those agencies. They Work super hard because you're trying to keep the account you're trying to do it for, you know, some ridiculous rate that you've charged and it's really on the backs of very young people often that these things happen.

Laura Honeycutt :

And that's the whole model, right? They've over time and I've, I mean, 25 years I was in that industry. So, you know, it wasn't that way 25 years ago, but a grind and that was a tough job that you would look at at the you know, at the big wigs in the corner offices and go, Ah, someday that's going to be me with me kicked up on my desks, smoking my cigar because I worked at an agency. Tobacco was like one of the big clients though really focus in their offices, right? No kidding. No kidding. And so you're like, not that I would necessarily smoke the cigar but I could just kind of see like, Okay, I'm gonna work really hard right now and then someday that's going to be me. But it was really a sweatshop even then now, it's only gotten worse now. Because, you know, the clients kind of press you you know, squeeze you on pricing and You're trying to deliver a work product for a really low rate and writer that you can really do that is on young talent. Yep. And so then imagine if you're someone like me with imposter syndrome, and you have this sense all the time that you don't belong there, right? You're Why did you feel like you didn't belong there? You know, it was just kind of, I mean, what it really comes down to Laura is a feeling that you're not good

Laura Khalil :

enough. Okay.

Laura Honeycutt :

I started my ad career at an agency named Leo Burnett and if you know advertising, that's a really big name and the industry and it really was then it was like the blue chip of blue chip agencies. And they only recruited talent from Ivy League and big 10 that was it.

Laura Khalil :

So you had to be the best you

Laura Honeycutt :

had to be the best and I got in the back door, because I had a skill that they really needed in below the line marketing, which ultimately became digital and back then, you know, like when we were still like sending our presentation boards to clients via FedEx, because we didn't, you know, have email, you know, back then it was a big deal to have that kind of expertise. And even though I was at a junior level I had it yoke on so I got in kind of through a backdoor, which I think just from the beginning, I could say, well, that was why, but really it you know, it went back to I've recently realized that it went back to an incident in my childhood when I was ostracized from a little clique of girls for no apparent reason. And it started to send this message that I need to show up in a certain way to be accepted.

Laura Khalil :

Isn't that amazing about how imposter syndrome all the research shows that it starts in childhood. Yeah. And it's these incidents, like you mentioned, where you're not part of the group. And then you're always trying to be a part and then that, as you said, you kind of got in the back door, so sort of feeling like oh, assuming Oh, I'm not good enough. They never would have hired me,

Laura Honeycutt :

because I didn't go to Ivy League retest. You know, I went to this tiny little liberal arts college in Tennessee. So, you know, I knew that credential wise, I didn't measure up to the people around me. But it was so much deeper than that. And you know, now I talk to women all the time that like you said, going back to childhood, it's always something may not have been something like that. But maybe there was a bully who picked on you that started telling you something about yourself, or, you know, your parents didn't really celebrate your accomplishments with you, it was just considered kind of table stakes. Or your teacher called you out and ridiculed you in front of the class because it took us longer to understand a math problem, whatever it was, that's imprinted on us at an early age and our childhood immature minds tell us it's always going to be this way. Mm hmm. So then, you know, when I made it, and actually, you know, walked in the doors of this prestigious amazing agency where I just felt like this total combination Every day, I'd like ride the bus coming in down Clark Street. And I'd look up and I'd see that gleaming building poking into the sky. And then, and I hadn't worked here yet, I would get inside. And I'd be like, what are they going to figure out? Like,

Unknown Speaker :

I don't belong here.

Laura Honeycutt :

And that was just my life all this time. And so on the outside, I looked incredibly successful. And I've even heard from leaders in organizations I worked in today who will say, nobody ever felt like you didn't belong there. You were always highly valued. But it didn't matter. It didn't matter what people told me and so I see that a lot in women that I work with now who are really successful on the outside and, and I'll even have conversations, you know, with organizations who hire me to coach some of their executives, and the head of HR is my contact and the head of HR will say, Oh, well, this person doesn't have any issues with confidence. And I'm like, are you sure that I hear? And so that's the whole thing. You look so successful and together on the outside, but inside, you're just like a house of cards.

Laura Khalil :

Yeah. And I think that's one of the things about imposter syndrome is everyone has it in various degrees. And we all suffer silently, because nobody's talking about it. So I know that in your story, there was someone there was like this bully in your organization. Tell us a little bit about you talked about kind of like people leaving you out in as a child, and maybe bullying in childhood. And then it sort of follows you a little bit into this work organization. Tell us a little bit about that.

Laura Honeycutt :

Yeah, well, that's what's so fascinating to me. And one of the things that I've learned in doing the work that I do now and also just to become skilled and certified to do what I do now, the little secret that they don't really tell you going in is you're doing all this work on yourself. Right again, Coaching Program. Yes. And so the training is working on your own stuff. Yes. So through that process and through what I've learned and working with the women that I've worked with, and I continued studies, because I'm constantly a student of personal development, we do. Yeah, I've learned that you kind of create that reality for yourself.

Laura Khalil :

So what what tell us more about your reality what was going on?

Laura Honeycutt :

Yeah. So, you know, this was the very end of my advertising career. This was literally the job that broke me and, and got me to a point where, you know, sometimes you may be thinking how bad does it has to get before I change something? Yep. been there done that? Yeah. And if you ever read or listen to the work of Joe dispenza, he says that like, you know, at some point it is going to get so bad, that the fear of staying where you are is worse than the in the unknown on the other side. And so it was kind of one of those, like, I hit rock bottom, okay. And there was a very powerful bully in this organization that just constantly seemed like every time I turned around, she was boarding me. Um, and, you know, the there was just there were a lot of things that kind of played into it. So I came in, I was hired, they basically created a new role. For me, they assigned these really lofty impossible to reach truly goals, arbitrarily. There was really no math behind it. When I came in and started doing the math, I was immediately like, Oh, geez, like, I can't do this with what I've got here. This means I've got to go into innovation mode. Okay. And so I went into innovation mode, and that's what I do. I have all of this, you know, really opportunistic, creative, entrepreneurial energy I always have, and I find that that energy is really tough. for corporate organizations to deal with, like, they didn't know what to do with me, because I had all of these, you know, crazy ideas. And it was like, Oh, no, we can't do that. We tried that before or that's not possible, or there's no budget for it or whatever it is. And so you're here, like over here, like, what about this? What about this? What about this? And you know, what you're getting back is no, no, no, no, no, no. But okay, now, this is a person who already feels like, I don't know, if I'm good enough to be here. The message that you receive in that situation is, I'm not doing what they brought me here to do. They brought me here to make this happen. And I can't make it happen with the tools I have. So no problem. I'll just like go create new tools, right? Oh, wow. That doesn't work. And so here enter the bully, who was not in my part of the organization, but I needed her to get what I was doing. That, in her mind gave her this authority and power over, you know what I was doing. So she felt like I had to get approval from her to do any of these things. And getting her approval was just like it was nothing was ever good enough, right? nothing was ever right. Or we can't do that, or no, we're gonna do that, you know, with my group at an event instead and all of this stuff. And so, you know, you just feel this constant sense of defeat.

Laura Khalil :

And there are people listening who are going through this right now, who feel I'm sure who are listening who are thinking, I feel like I'm in the exact same situation. I'm a high achiever. I've been put in an incredible position, and then I have these walls thrown up. Mm hmm. So Laura, like, let me just ask you like, so you left? Yes. You left the corporate world you started coaching. What do you say to people who are going through this now because often what they do is they try to quit the job. They go to a new job and what I always tell them is if you haven't dealt with your stuff, It's gonna pop up in a new form. So tell us a little bit about what realizations did you have in this process as you were doing your coaching certification and learning more about yourself and working on yourself.

Laura Honeycutt :

Yeah, so the big thing that was really hard to stomach was I was creating all of that.

Unknown Speaker :

Ah, yeah, that's, we're just gonna let that sink in for a minute.

Laura Khalil :

Um, Tom, what do you mean, you were creating all of that.

Laura Honeycutt :

So this is the thing about when fear controls your life. You are making decisions from a place of complete inauthenticity. You're showing up in the way that you think you're expected to show up instead of the way that you would authentically show up. And you start second guessing yourself. And you I mean, this bully was real. I was not creating this bully, right? She was real, but I let her get the best of me to allow that and I gave away all of my Power. When all of my power was outside of me, in my mind, she had all the power. I had none. And so through my day, operating from this place of depleted power, so I wouldn't sit and strategize and like, Okay, what can I do differently? What different decision would I make? Instead, I would sit and I would cower at my desk going, I'm so defeated here. I don't know what to do. Nothing is possible. Everything is hard for me. And so you're creating that reality. Right? And so it just, it just would manifest because that was draining all of my energy. And so when all of my energy was drained, because I was constantly in fear, and then I would see my boss after a meeting, you know, walk into HR office, I'd be like, crap, they're gonna fire me.

Laura Khalil :

So you're like creating all these stories.

Laura Honeycutt :

All my stories that may or may not have been true, right? But it didn't matter because every minute that I spent stressing over that Feeling victimized by this bully? Guess what? I wasn't doing

Laura Khalil :

my job. Right? Oh my gosh, you know, there are people listening. I know it because Laura, I have felt. I mean, your story really resonates with me. I have felt that when I worked in the full time world, this was I felt like an ongoing roadblock. And I know there are women listening right now who are thinking of themselves. I'm in that situation. I keep getting rewarded. There's someone who keeps showing up, you know, throwing a monkey wrench into my thing here. What can we start doing if we have given away our power like this? If we have created these stories, where do we even begin to is it gather back our power? What What do we begin to do?

Laura Honeycutt :

Yeah, one of the most simple things that I recommend to my clients and I teach this to nearly everyone because it's so simple But so powerful that it will really start changing your life. I call it success journaling. And it basically is a process whereby you start to create from within all the stories of how you're so amazing, rather than looking for it from other people. So, you know, you may say, imposter syndrome. That's not really me. But then if I were to kind of talk about some of the things that are that are kind of the symptoms of imposter syndrome, you would go Oh, yeah, that's totally me. And one of the things is like, well, I'm, I'm afraid to speak up in a meeting because I might say something that makes me look stupid. Hello, imposter syndrome. If you would say, Well, I did this great presentation. And my boss and my team thought it was amazing, but I think it could have been better. Hello, imposter syndrome, right? So Oh, this is where you start gathering the evidence, of all the ways that you will Totally killing it. And based on how you feel of it, not based on external thing, right. Tell us a little more about that, because that's a really interesting distinction you're making, because a lot of us are looking for external approval that I'm good enough. So yes, yeah. Is that kind of the problem? Right? Yeah. Because if you don't get it, or if it doesn't come in the way that you expect it, then you're going to assign all kinds of meaning to that. You're going to start interpreting signals that you see where, you know, I say something in a meeting, and then I glance over at my boss, and she like, pulls out her phone and starts like, you know, texting something, and the thing you're thinking Oh, crap, like she's making a note of something that I said, that was that right? This is what you do. And you're just creating stories when she was just like, I forgot to tell the babysitter to go pick up my there's a half day at school today, right? Like, I mean, like you don't know, but you interpret a meaning. And then you go and your mind takes it. runs with it. And so this muscle building of self validation is so critical, because you may or may not get it from someone, you may have two or three jobs where you had like the best bosses ever. And they were amazing and they built you up and they you know, and they championed you and they acknowledged you and you were you constantly felt supported and valued. And then you get a boss who doesn't do any of that and all the stories can start so Wow, here is getting it from yourself getting in the habit of giving it to yourself so that you don't need it from anybody else.

Laura Khalil :

And that kind of makes a little game changer. Yeah. And it sounds like when I hear you talking about this, I don't know maybe I'm incorrect, but it doesn't make the highs is high and the lows is low, but you're kind of steady. You know, it sounds to me like you're pretty stable. So, you know if something great happens at work, you're like, awesome if something bad happens Work you're like, Okay, let's figure that out without getting completely discombobulated by either or.

Laura Honeycutt :

Right. Yeah. I mean, we have so much fear in general. And this is not exclusive to women. This is everybody. We have come to view failure as something bad. And probably because somewhere along the way, you had an experience where you failed and misery ensued. You know, either you were mistreated in some way, you were called out in a way that embarrassed you, you lost your job, there could be a million, you know, right. But all of those responses, that conditioning to hate failure came from this place of, and this is what I tell my clients all the time, we want to take it to mean something about us, but a lot of times that ridicule by a boss when we made a mistake, is all about the boss and not about you at all. And we want to thank the This means I suck. No, you're perfect. You're doing great. And this, you know, failure is just a learning experience. But it's been twisted because there are people out there who say, Oh my gosh, you failed. And now I look bad. And I can't look bad because guess what,

Laura Khalil :

they've got their own and they have imposter syndrome. You know, that is so powerful. One of the things I always tell people, especially when we're dealing with someone, and if we listen, everyone's been around a person who sucks the energy out of the room, or who you immediately kind of feel like, ooh, I don't like what's happening here. And I always tell people, everyone is giving you an experience of their inner world. And so when people are happy when people are a joy to be around, and we all feel that we know that it's because they're giving you an experience of what it's like to be them. When someone is angry. When someone is critical. When someone is berating you, they're doing that to themselves. That's what's going on in their head. Yeah. Imagine it's like to live in there.

Laura Honeycutt :

Yes. And that's the thing that, you know, this is one of those moments where like, lightbulbs go off when I have this conversation with clients where it's like, I'll say all judgment is self judgment. Like, well, what do you mean by that? And it's like, if you're sitting here going, that person, or those people are going to judge me in a certain way, if I do this thing, guess what? law already judged yourself. Yeah. And it's like one of those like, jaw dropping moments, right? of, oh, crap, like I write. And so it's like, why are you trying to protect yourself from something that you're already receiving? Like, you're already absorbing that in your body? And so then you're ruled by fear. You know, you're constantly everything takes you so long, because you were sitting here going, Okay, let me think of all the things that could go Wrong. And what if this? And what if this? And what if this? And what if that, and I want to make sure that I'm completely bulletproof. Well, you're already do the damage is done, girl, right already done. And so and by the way, that email that would have taken you 90 seconds to fire off has taken 15 minutes, and now you're late to your next meeting. Mm hmm. And so I tell people all the time, if you are working super long hours, there's a couple of things going on. One is just you don't know how to set boundaries. But more than that, but oh, well, let's just say it. You're not setting boundaries, because you're afraid.

Laura Khalil :

Yeah.

Laura Honeycutt :

Because you're afraid if you set a boundary, some kind of backlash is going to happen. Something's not going to get done, and you're going to get the blame. So I had a client just this week who was telling me this, and this is just like an amazing, like, breakthrough moment where she's like, you know, I've been the person who's always kind of cleaned up for the rest of the team. I do things that aren't my job. Because I see them not getting done. And I do that because I'm afraid there's going to be held to pay it as a team. We haven't, you know, delivered what we're supposed to. So I go and I clean everything up. Hmm, well, here's the thing that's cutting into her personal time. So she has this habit every Sunday night of like, Okay, I'm gonna like before I go to bed, I'm going to like catch up on a little bit of work. So I can, like be ready to hit the ground running on Monday morning. And this past week, she decided she wasn't going to do that. Because she had made a personal commitment to the 30 day yoga challenge that she was doing. And she's like, this is important to me. And I've made a commitment to myself, and I'm going to do it and the work will figure itself out. And so then the next morning, what she found was that allowed her to say, you know what, I'm going to push this back to the person who should be doing it in the first place. Yeah. And so I put everything together and I said, Okay, hey, team member, I've put this to you know, I put these thoughts and bullet points together for you. So that here's the part that you need to take care of now, and she said it felt so liberating. Yeah, because no longer was she like obsessing over work on Sunday night instead of doing something

Laura Khalil :

for her personal benefit filling her own cup. Yes, she was also setting a very clear boundary and saying, I'm trying to avoid this future pain that may or may not even come to pass. But in the meantime, I'm inflicting pain because I'm sitting here working when I want to be doing something else. That is a really okay, that's Laura, that like major truth bombs here that is so powerful. I know there are people who are feeling that as well. And the thing is, I have felt that when I set healthy boundaries, when I tell clients to set healthy boundaries, and they follow through, you know, a funny thing kind of happens. We see a reduction in stress and anxiety. Mm hmm. You know, all that stress is self. A lot of it I would say a lot of it is self inflicted. And if you can set the boundary and then take the for yourself as your clients are doing, then you can actually manage and navigate the challenges that are coming with more ease and grace and not feel like you have to carry the weight of the world on your shoulders. You do not. I just have to say I've just like on a roll now, Laura, but like when we infantilize our employees or our coworkers by saying all do it because clearly you can't do it or you're gonna never get it done to my standard. You infantilize people, you don't empower people to actually step into their role and show you how incredible they can be.

Laura Honeycutt :

That's right. That's right. You also create a system where they're always dependent on you. Yeah. And so then, you know, that's also disempowering, because you know, they're never going to learn to do it the way you do it. If you always stepping in exactly step

Laura Khalil :

back, people step back. Oh my gosh, Laura, this has been incredible. I have loved every second of what you've had to say I know we're going to hear about this episode. If you have a couple takeaways for the audience, what would you like to just leave people with as they go about their day?

Laura Honeycutt :

Yeah, I would say if you find that you are really overworking, if you're burning the candle at both ends, you want to stop and ask yourself, what's really behind that is that coming from a place of fear of some sort, whether you don't think the work is going to be up to par, or you feel like some kind of backlash or negative consequences going to come to you stop and get really curious about that? And ask yourself, what's kind of the thing behind the thing that is causing me to feel I have to put in all of this extra work. And I would say, especially right now, in these crazy times, where you know, we're trying to get our work done, and everybody in our household is there with us all the time. And you know, it's a constant drain on our energy. It's even more Important now to establish those clear boundaries, love it. And the second thing is when you start feeling like circumstances outside of you are creating your reality. That's another time to get really curious because this is where you need to step up and take responsibility for your own stuff. And claim literally Reclaim Your power and take it back and go, you know what, my power is not outside of me, it is within me, I can choose how I interpret this, I can choose what I do next, I can set this boundary. When you start to do that, even on a really small scale, it is going to be incredibly liberating, and you're going to experience a freedom that you've probably not felt in a really long time. I'd love

Laura Khalil :

it everyone. If you want to learn more about Laura, where can we go?

Laura Honeycutt :

Yeah, so my website is Coach honeycutt.com. I have a free download there. It's called Get over yourself guide

Laura Khalil :

Read it, I love it.

Laura Honeycutt :

It's seven steps to uplevel your confidence. And they're really simple exercises. Success journaling is one of them. We talked about that today. And then there are six more. These are the things that I've actually done myself. So I know that they work. And I prescribe them to almost all of my clients to help them start turning that perception around, that they're not bringing it. So I would say that's the best place to go. And when you go there, then you're going to get on my mailing list. And you will probably be receiving an invitation shortly to attend my three day unleash your inner badass boot camp, which is just a three day experience. It's not three full days, it's just an hour each day. It's a pretty minimal time investment. But super, super powerful change and incredible results and shifts can happen just in a matter of three days. And you'll get to experience a little taste of what my private clients

Laura Khalil :

know a lot deeper. Well, that's coach honey cut calm. We will put a link to that in the show notes Laura Honeycutt. Thank you so much for joining us on brave by design.

Laura Honeycutt :

Thank you, Laura. So glad to be here today.

Laura Khalil :

I want to thank you for joining me and remember to subscribe to your favorite app so you can stay up to date, and I would love your review. If you've enjoyed this episode, please leave a review and comment on Apple podcasts. You can also keep in touch with me online. You can find me on LinkedIn and I'm also on Instagram at force of badassery. All that information will be available in the show notes. Until next time, stay brave