334: How to Stop Freaking Out and Keep Moving Forward with Maxie McCoy

By August 17, 2018Podcasts

 

Maxie McCoy advises dropping the grand plan of your life in favor of simpler questions to move you forward.

You’ll Learn:

  1. Two exercises for discerning your direction
  2. Why you should keep a gratitude journal
  3. Five wise questions to ask your support network

About Maxie

Maxie McCoy is a writer and speaker obsessed with giving women the tools they need to believe in themselves. She writes weekly inspiration on maxiemccoy.com, and is the host and executive producer of the live-audience show Let Her Speak. She specializes in creating meaningful offline experiences for top brands and conferences. Her work has been featured on Good Morning America, Bustle, Fortune, TheSkimm, INC, Business Insider, Yahoo, Marie Claire, GlassDoor, The Huffington Post, Women’s Health and many others.

Items Mentioned in this Show:

Maxie McCoy Interview Transcript

Pete Mockaitis
Maxie, thanks so much for joining us here on the How To Be Awesome At Your Job podcast.

Maxie McCoy
Thank you for having me.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, I think we’ll get into a lot of really good stuff, and perhaps the best place to start is with your flower obsession. What’s the story here?

Maxie McCoy
You know, where all great podcasts start. So my flower obsession – I really just have this dream of myself in the future where I’m going to own a flower shop at the age of 80. But really where that came from is, I have a ritual every Saturday morning – I go to the farmers market here in San Francisco at the Ferry Building. We’ll get into rituals later, because it’s such a key piece of figuring out where we’re going. And I basically only allow myself a certain amount of cash and I spend it all on flowers. And then I come back and I fancy myself a flower designer and cover my one-bedroom apartment full of flowers. So it’s just flowers galore in here. I can’t really explain it, other than it’s a really fab ritual.

Pete Mockaitis
That is really fab, if I may. I don’t have much in the way of flowers; most days are flowerless in our home.

Maxie McCoy
Oh, no. We need to change that. It’ll bring your home alive.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, one thing I’ve noticed is that every time I pass eucalyptus branches, I go, “Ooh, I really like that!” And so, that seems like a nice little gateway drug, if you will, into bringing them into my home. But someone freaked me out, like, “You want to watch out for mold and for bugs.” It was like, “Uh-oh.” What should I do if I want to get eucalyptus into my life, in the home? Are there any safety tips I need to follow, or what’s the story?

Maxie McCoy
I really think that that’s amazing. First of all, I’m the girl that could kill a cactus. So if I can do it, I feel like you can do it and not have to worry about bugs. But isn’t eucalyptus the one that dries and then stays in a vase for a really long time?

Pete Mockaitis
That’s what I thought.

Maxie McCoy
Yeah, you picked a really good one. And also, eucalyptus makes the air smell amazing.

Pete Mockaitis
Yes! It’s so fresh and alive. It’s like, I’m a little bit more energized, and I love being more energized.

Maxie McCoy
See, and we’re going to talk about that too. So I think that you just need to follow the energy, Pete, and get yourself some eucalyptus.

Pete Mockaitis
Thank you. Well, already unlocking transformation.

Maxie McCoy
Right here on the flower anecdote.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, so with inspirations – you’ve got a lot of them written up at your website MaxieMcCoy.com. And I was sort of cruising through them and enjoying them. What would you say are some of the biggest recurring themes that show up again and again as you’re doing your writing?

Maxie McCoy
There’s a few of them, and I think in order to understand where they come from, it’s important to understand why I started writing to begin with. I actually was spending about 90% of my time on the road, talking to women, building out offline networking communities. So I was building out curriculum and facilitating workshops, and really just focused on having these conversations with young professional women. And there were just so many universal themes that kept coming up.

I was a writer first and writing has always been my first love. I was like, “I have to capture this somewhere”, because these conversations that we’re having in anywhere from groups of 10 to groups of 300 could be brought together for other people to glean from. And what really came out of that, and it’s what you see as you’re cruising around on my site, is this incessant doubt around our future. There are just a lot of these themes of, “Am I doing the right things? Is what I’m feeling normal? How do I handle this doubt? Where the heck am I going with my life?” And really the writings there are one giant love letter to women that they’re not alone, that we’re actually all feeling these things and asking these things, and most of it comes into career as a cornerstone in our life in my writings. So those are some of the big ones.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s good. And so, our audience is mostly women, but not all. I’d say gentlemen too experience some of these questions – the “Where am I going with my life?” obsession, you call it. And so, your book, You’re Not Lost tackles this. And how would you phrase the main idea behind You’re Not Lost?

Maxie McCoy
You’re Not Lost came because in all those conversations I was referencing, it was the one thing – and I’m sure you have this with our podcast also – it’s the one thing that I just kept hearing over and over and over again. And it brought me to the main thesis and the solution that I was trying to create from having heard this so much. It’s just simply that you don’t have to know where you’re going in order to begin; that we can find our way when we tap into a really deep sense of self-belief in order to take small step after small step after small step.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay, I dig this. And I see that you on your site have a reference to Tara Mohr, and we’ve had her on the show, and she’s awesome. That’s one of the top, top downloaded episodes – fun fact – the Tara Mohr episode.

Maxie McCoy
It doesn’t surprise me. Just this morning actually I was sharing on Instagram about this visualization of  my future self, which I actually found from Tara. The amount of comments already this morning on that are just… She resonates so widely with me, with my audience also, and just that concept of some of what we want to figure out in our life, we can do by going forward first.

Pete Mockaitis
Yes. And so, for the listener, that was the “inner mentor” exercise, where you imagine an older, wiser version of yourself in a pleasant setting, and just see what does your older, wiser self tell you. And it’s almost freaky. I was like, “Wow, that was really wise and helpful.”

Maxie McCoy
So, did you do it?

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah, and I just made that up. It’s like, “That’s all from me! Whoa!”

Maxie McCoy
“It all came from me.” Wait, I have to know – what was your inner mentor’s name? Because in the visualization exercise, for everybody listening, you have to name your future self. Do you remember what your name was?

Pete Mockaitis
We did it such a rapid pace; it was sort of real time on the show. And so I more just had a visual picture, as opposed to a name. I just thought of him as Peter.

Maxie McCoy
Yes. Kind of like Maxine.

Pete Mockaitis
And I more so resonated with his gray hairs and wrinkles, and yet sort of smiley, joyous demeanor. I was like, “Okay, what does this guy have to tell me?” [laugh]

Maxie McCoy
“Let’s talk about this guy.” Same. I had a very similar experience. It was cool, because kind of what you just said –  we have all of our answers. And a lot of the messaging that I work around is really to help people get to peeling back that onion and just figuring out our own answers. And this is one amazing exercise to do it.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. So we got the, “I’m lost. What am I doing? Where am I going with my life?” – that obsession. You say one of the very first steps is to just accept it’s okay to start before you have the whole masterplan step by step laid out. So, what are some of the other first steps that folks should take when they’re wrestling with this one?

Maxie McCoy
I think when you are just kind of obsessed with that question, there’s a lot of people out there that are going to tell you to find your passion or figure out your purpose, which honestly – and I don’t want to offend anyone – I kind of think it’s B.S., because we’re all really smart people; if we knew the answer to that, we’d be doing it already. And so, it really is more of getting us into action, to a place that we’re going to be able to really level up the answer to some of those really big questions. And at a macro view kind of figuring out, “Where is my life going?” really is about dropping the obsession with the big picture and stepping into the unknown.

I am a reformed goal junkie and then some. I used to live my life by a masterplan, but there’s a number of things that happen when you do that. We’ve all been there, where we’ve achieved the goal, then feel completely empty about it, whether we’ve done that at work or whether we’ve done that in our own lives. We’ve set this bar for ourselves and we get there and it’s like, “Well, this doesn’t really feel like anything.”

Or we don’t have the ability to even conceptualize the masterplan. The feeling of loss comes from both of those, and just at a macro view, when we can tap into our own power and be willing to step into the unknown, we’re going to create the path as we go. That is what starts to open up the, “Oh, I actually do know where this is going.” But you’re not going to think your way to that answer.

Pete Mockaitis
I dig that, I dig that. And I think sometimes people will identify a passion, like, “I love the violin! Oh, but that’s really not practical. You can’t make a career on the violin. Only a dozen people per town.” Whatever, it can go to a symphony. So, I’m intrigued by that. You say if you knew it, then you’d be set.

Maxie McCoy
You’d already be doing it, yeah.

Pete Mockaitis
And I’m thinking, sometimes you have some inklings, but it feels sort of impractical or not possible. So, what do you do with that one?

Maxie McCoy
You’re totally right, that there are some of these that can feel impossible. However, if something is moving you forward, actually so much possibility is there. I’d even say in my own life working in women’s leadership and talking to women for a living really… My background was sports broadcasting even though this was always my passion – really did always feel outlandish until some of the small decisions and choices that I made led me here.

And I think instrumentally these high-level, like being a pro athlete or a concert pianist – those things could absolutely be hard to achieve, and to make a life and to grow, but in the context of our own jobs, when we’re able to tap into that inkling and know it may not be about the fact that you love playing the violin and that’s where you want to make your living; it may just be that you want to be a bit more creative. You might be in a data job, but the violin is really speaking to you, and then really understanding why is that, what are the qualities about this that are pushing me forward? And I think when you start to tap into that energy and ask yourself, “Why?”… We’ve heard the exercise – I’m sure all of us – you ask yourself “Why” three times and it can really get at what that inkling might be able to tell you, even if it feels really not remotely possible. There’s some kind of nugget there.

Pete Mockaitis
Alright. So with the violin piece – when you go into some “Why’s”, let’s just see how this might work. You might be, “I love the idea of being able to be immersed in something for hours at a time without interruption, and feeling like I’m being pulled in 10 different directions from all these different stakeholders who want a piece of me.”

Maxie McCoy
And I ask you, “Okay, Pete. But why?”

Pete Mockaitis
Alright. I don’t actually play the violin, so I’m trying to imagine a violin player.

Maxie McCoy
You want to know what’s funny? I do play the violin.

Pete Mockaitis
No kidding! Maybe my subconscious picked that up as I was reading about you.

Maxie McCoy
It’s kind of incredible. It’s by my feet, which is amazing. That’s so good.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, you tell me. So maybe the “Why” associated with that – I’m just going to guess – and then you give me another example. So, with the violin, “I like the sense of going deeply immersed into something and not be pulled in many directions, because I feel like I am getting a sense of learning and growth and mastery from getting to spend that extensive focus time.” And if I go “Why” again, it can be like… Or in some ways I almost feel like …, “Because that sensation is awesome, and I’d love it.”

Maxie McCoy
Yeah, and you’re feeling very alive or very energized. And it does come back to that sensation. I think what builds into so much of the joy that we have in our careers is like, “Where are we spending our time and the feelings that we’re getting out of that?”

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah, totally. So, give us maybe another “three why” example that you’ve seen with some folks you’ve worked with.

Maxie McCoy
So I think that when you’re breaking down, whether it’s energy or expression, really figuring out who we are, is a really amazing first step in progressing this question along. I am always asking myself and others, “How can you be the highest possible expression of yourself? What does that actually look like?” And then when you are able to distill down what the expression of you looks like and ask yourself, “Why that matters, why that matters, why that matters”, you can really get at all of the molds and the limits that were keeping you from being that person.

And the reason I think that this is really important in the grand scheme of figuring your path out is, there’s so much telling us to be different and there’s so much telling us that we need to change before we begin, but actually we just need to take all of the things that people have told us to do differently and to be differently, flip it on its head, and you actually have an inverse formula, specifically for being the highest possible expression of who you are, which is going to directly correlate to the things that energize you. And I think when you can ask yourself “Why” three times, and doing this often, it really gets down into, “Why does it matter that I am the most me, and who does she or he actually look like in that?”

Pete Mockaitis
And when you say “inverse formula”, can you talk a little bit more about that? What are we doing?

Maxie McCoy
Yeah, so we’re basically converting all of the things people have told us to change and flipping it on its head. So if I’ve been told that I talk a lot, or that I’m loud, or that I’m taking up too much space – it’s really just flipping it and doing all of those things, and doing more of those things, of the things that come so innate into who we are, they make up who we are. And those become what an expression of us looks like, and not changing them, and not trying to fit into other people’s molds, because molds are just limits. They pull down on who we are.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s intriguing. And I think in some ways, you want to exercise a bit of prudence there, because on the one hand if someone says, “Pete, you’ve always got your head in the clouds. You’ve got to be more practical” – I can imagine inverting that like, “Coming up with new ideas and innovation is a real strength of mine. And so, I’m going to run with that and make it happen.” Versus if it was like, “Pete, you drink so much, you embarrass yourself and everybody else around you” – I’d rather not flip that, like, “This is who I am. Deal with it.”

Maxie McCoy
No, I think an asterisk is really important. You give a perfect example of where those things can really matter and where they cannot really be relevant to as much of a career conversation. But yeah, you’re totally spot-on. I think it’s more values and characteristics-driven as we’re trying to apply our talent into whatever it is that we’re doing.

Pete Mockaitis
Thank you. Alright, so those are some great steps to get the wheels turning in some really positive directions. I’m wondering, once you’ve begun, what do you do next?

Maxie McCoy
What do you do next? I’m really glad that you asked that. I think once the wheels are turning, there’s a couple of things and exercises that are just really powerful to get you to continue moving. We talked a little bit about going forward and talking to that future self, per Tara. But I think coming back to this “What energizes me” conversation, because that’s going to point you like a compass where it is that you should be stepping.

Reflecting here is really, really powerful. I think looking back at your work – if you’re in a place where you feel stuck or your feel a little bit unhappy or you’re feeling like you have no idea where you’re going – going backwards and asking yourself, “Where are all of the places that I’ve felt the most energized?” Energized can be a little amorphous, so I think breaking that down even further and asking yourself, “Where have I felt proud? Where have I done things where I’ve completely lost track of time?” We hear that one a lot. Where have you really felt deeply connected to your power? And just listing out whatever comes up, you’ll start to see that there are probably a lot of similarities in some of the types of work that you’re doing.

And then to put action around those, because that’s what actually matters. Just what you were saying, getting that wheel turning is not so much about creating the grand plan, but just asking yourself the simple question of, “What is the absolute smallest thing I can do right now to put any of that energy into motion?”

In my own life, one of the biggest life-changing things that’s ever happened to me came from a tiny, tiny decision. And a lot of what happens in our life isn’t because we took this giant big leap; it’s because we made one really small decision that ended up setting us off on a very exciting and different course, and we kept taking those steps and we kept taking those steps, but it started somewhere. For me that was about six and a half years ago. I’d been in sports broadcasting, I wasn’t yet in women’s leadership. I was feeling more lost than I had ever felt, and I was like, “Shoot. I have got to go back to the things that make me me, the things that I really care about.”

And I took myself actually through some of this, “Where have I felt the most proud and energized in my life?”, and it all came down to writing and women’s stories. So, I decided to sign up for a writing class. And it was a tiny decision at the time. It was just a difference of like, “Can I afford this 7-week class or not?” And I was like, “I’m just going to do it, because I need to be exercising this energy that makes me feel alive.”

And that ended up leading me directly to the startup that put me into women’s leadership, why I started being on the map, traveling and talking to women – because a woman in that writing class handed me the front page of the San Francisco Chronicle business section and was like, “Hey, there are these women who are building a company based on all the things that you care about.” And I think that’s what we underestimate, is we have no idea how it’s all going to play out. Life is so not linear, there’s just no way to tell these things. But if we can get into a place where we’re really willing to do that absolute smallest thing to follow the energy, it could truly lead us anywhere, and that’s where the path starts to open up.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s cool. I’d also like to get your take when it comes to the instincts and what they’re serving up. How do you think about doing the trusting of instincts, versus the digging deeper and exploring and evaluating what the instincts are pointing you to?

Maxie McCoy
I think it’s a fine balance of knowing, “Do I trust this? Is this just anxiety and fear coming up? Or do I need to go a little further, do I need to ask some people?” I think we can actually answer that ourselves when we come back to us. One of the things that I think we lose track of is how much time we’re spending in other people’s lives, which makes it really hard to evaluate any of those instincts, because we’re so not tapped into our own power.

These stats get referenced all the time, but the fact that a third of us feel unhappy and envious following our most recent social exchange – that just tells us that there is a direct correlation to how we’re feeling and how outside of ourselves we’re getting to even know what our instincts are saying, much less trusting them enough to do anything about it.

But I think with instincts specifically, this one’s a little off the map, but I love it so much and I’m on a crusade to bring back superstitions and lucky charms. Hold with me – it’s not as crazy as it sounds. When you are starting to get onto this path and you’re taking action and the fear shows up, and the gut instincts are showing up and you don’t know if this is right or if you should even follow it – there’s a lot that we can do to ritualize our highest potential.

So, doesn’t matter what this is. I can tell you what mine are, but there’s a reason that top athletes and people are using the sign of the cross a million times, or have their lucky underpants. There are so many examples of people doing this. And there was actually a study that found – they did this specifically with golfers – that when you hear, “I’ll cross my fingers for you”, or you’re given a lucky ball, they do better. They do better than those who didn’t hear those things or weren’t given a golf ball.

And so, we all have the power to kind of ritualize that experience. For me I have an Oprah candle that I light for myself before really big days. I also light it for other people. It’s this long candle that has Oprah’s face on it, because I’m obsessed with her.

Pete Mockaitis
Oprah gave you this candle? What is an Oprah candle?

Maxie McCoy
Oprah did not give me the candle. It just is an old devotional candle that has Oprah’s face on it. She’s my religious experience, but that’s beside the point. So, it’s become a joke now amongst me and all of my friends, like, “I’ll light the lucky Oprah candle for you.” And I light it for myself, and it’s not just superstition and lucky charms; it’s really proven to help our performance.

And so I think when you’re talking about, “I’m feeling this, I’m not trusting it” or, “I don’t trust myself”, there are some very real things we can do, like coming back to ourselves by getting out of the world of everyone else. And then, how can I use a lucky charm or a superstition to improve my performance? Which is going to feed back, loop cycle back to you feeling more confident and doing even more.

Pete Mockaitis
What’s really cool about the lucky charm or superstition or ritual piece is that whenever I go deep into scientific journal article reading, which is surprisingly often; I’m not a scientist.

Maxie McCoy
I’m not that surprised by that, Pete.

Pete Mockaitis
I’m just curious and I want to know the truth. So I’ll get after it. One thing that really strikes me is how the placebo is really pretty good. It’s like when we compare something against the placebo, and they’re like, “Oh, it didn’t do any better than the placebo.” It’s like, “Yeah, but the placebo did pretty good on its own.”

Maxie McCoy
The placebo is pretty powerful, exactly.

Pete Mockaitis
Maybe I should just sell placebos and look at all the results that get claimed. I don’t know, maybe FTC or somebody has cracked out on that. But I guess the placebo effect doesn’t really work unless you believe that there’s something that’s at work.

Maxie McCoy
Is being done, yeah. Do you have a lucky charm yourself?

Pete Mockaitis
I don’t know about…

Maxie McCoy
No Oprah candles over there?

Pete Mockaitis
I don’t know if I’d call it a “lucky charm”, but I had a rosary that turned gold when I was in a pilgrimage location.

Maxie McCoy
No way!

Pete Mockaitis
Way, yeah. And actually it’s funny because a lot of people say this happens. So I was checking it every few hours when I was there. It’s in a tiny village in Bosnia. So that’s pretty cool, because it’s like something miraculous and supernatural happened here. And so, if there’s something really big happening, I do want that by me, because it’s like, “This got a heavenly touch and I’d like that to be near me in this moment.”

Maxie McCoy
It’s powerful. And I think knowing what those things are for you… I am so blown away by that story; that’s incredible. Yeah, I would keep it by you and in your pocket at all times.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, it’s fallen apart a few times. I’ve had to try to repair it, because it’s been around.

Maxie McCoy
Can I borrow it?

Pete Mockaitis
If you are next to me. While we’re in the same room you can have it in your pocket. So, whether it’s a lucky charm or an item from heaven, or a placebo – there’s something to that. I also want to get your take… On your website you have one of the most interesting hashtags that I’ve ever seen, and it’s #batshitgrateful. [laugh] I was like, “Boy, there’s a combination of words, and I think I love it.” So could you unpack a little bit of that? What does that mean?

Maxie McCoy
I absolutely can. I’m trying to remember the genesis of this particular hashtag, but I really think it just came from a place of being so grateful, #grateful was not enough for me. And people say “batshit crazy” often. I was like, “No, I’m not crazy. I’m grateful.” And then “batshit grateful” was born. And for me, kind of going back to that ritual conversation and the power of gratitude – I ended up ritualizing in my own life because things were just getting crazy and I was trying to find a way to ground back into myself so I could listen to take these little steps that were opening up on my own path.

People talk about gratitude journals all the time, and every year I felt like I was writing New Year’s resolutions, “This is the year that I’m starting the gratitude journal.” But it actually wasn’t until I read Oprah’s What I Know For Sure, which is one of my favorite books. And she talks about in her career, and at the height of her career, she was feeling a lot of unfulfillment in her own work. And when she looked at the reason for that, she brought it all down to the fact that she had stopped a gratitude journal that she had done for decades, because things were at the height, it was getting crazy. She had more than she’d ever had, and yet it wasn’t feeling like enough.

And I just had this light bulb moment of, “Okay, if Oprah felt like that then, then I sure as heck have to get my head wrapped around feeling grateful for what’s going on in my life right now.” And there is so much to back this up. One of the things that has always stuck with me about gratitude journaling is that if you do that for five minutes, it increases your long-term well-being by more than 10%. And 10% is the same impact as doubling your income. So you can feel the effects of doubling your income just by gratitude journaling for five minutes a day. And that really sums up the practice of being “batshit grateful”, but the hashtag as it is is just a way for me to just put out in the world that I am so grateful for where I’m at, even though I have a million places that I want to go.

Pete Mockaitis
What’s cool about even just the concept of being “batshit grateful” is like being crazy – it’s sort of over the top. It may make people go, “Whoa”. Nonetheless, it really is wonderous that, whatever – you have delicious food available to eat, or that you can summon a Lyft or an Uber, they just snap up, from your phone you can contact anybody in the world and be in touch with them.

Maxie McCoy
You can have Pete’s voice on your phone any morning you want.

Pete Mockaitis
Wow, so much to be grateful for.

Maxie McCoy
It really is so much.

Pete Mockaitis
My voice. And so, with the gratitude journal, could you unpack a little bit what happens in these five minutes? So you’re feeling grateful, you’ve got a pen and paper, and what are you doing?

Maxie McCoy
I think that you are just reflecting on your day. And when I say “I think”, I mean you’re reflecting on your day. You’re coming up with, no matter how bad your day was, no matter how good your day was, what are a few things? I always encourage to do three; two of those being, what are the things that you’re grateful for outside of yourself? So, what you just said – “I had a really amazing meal”, “I got to FaceTime with my best friend, who lives in another country.”

And then really taking that third, that last piece of the stuff that you’re jotting down and asking, “What am I grateful for myself for?” So whether that is, “I had a lot of motivation today and really got a lot done” or, “I feel like I handled that conversation really well” or, “I was really honest.” Just being able to be grateful to yourself, not just to the things happening to you. I do three. I jot down three and give a lot of detail. You could do five, if you wanted to do that every day. And it really is piecing out what are the things, no matter how simple, that you are feeling particularly grateful for that day.

Pete Mockaitis
That is a nice piece there. So when I’m doing gratitude stuff, it’s usually in prayer. I think of three to five-ish things that happened the last 24 hours. And I took that form Shawn Achor and his Happiness Advantage work – an amazing book.

Maxie McCoy
Amazing book.

Pete Mockaitis
And then I think of three to five things that I’m grateful for, just in general, that are generally great, like it’s pretty cool that I have a baby. But then you’re adding a whole another dimension there, in terms of grateful about yourself, because I think it’s quite easy to criticize. I see my shortcomings all the time.

Maxie McCoy
All the time. Our brain is wired for that. We’re kind of wired for criticism.

Pete Mockaitis
And so it could be, “I’m grateful that yesterday I was able to do four podcast interviews, even though I was feeling really hot and tired. And they were great.” So, that’s something to feel good about, in terms of what I could do there.

Maxie McCoy
Exactly. That’s exactly it.

Pete Mockaitis
Beautiful. Well, Maxie, tell me – anything else you want to cover before we shift gears and talk about some of your favorite things?

Maxie McCoy
Yeah, I think that we’ve talked a lot about this internal journey that we can have in order to kind of figure out where your life is going. But I think one of the things that we don’t talk about enough is how in certain situations, external validation from the people that we love the most and who are some of our biggest cheerleaders can really have an impact on us believing in ourselves enough to take these actions.

And so, the last thing that I would say, just in terms of what can make a really big impact in figuring out where it is you want to go – and this was one of the more transformational exercises I’ve ever done in my life – is really surveying. And we hear this a lot, about getting 360 degree feedback, doing peer reviews. There’s so much here on why this works, when it comes to our own self growth. But really figuring out where people see you and where they see your potential and your value, can eventually help you get there. You eventually will start to believe in yourself and the way that they see you and that they believe in you.

For me what I had done was, I had a friend who put together five questions. She sent them out in a typeform to around 15 to 20 of my closest, I call them “cheerleaders” – people who are your biggest fans and believe in you and have your best interests at heart. And we asked them what makes me irreplaceable, what is my superpower, what’s holding me back, where they thought I would be five years from now, and then anything else they wanted to say about my potential or my value or my talents.

And then that friend actually synthesized all the information to me and delivered it to me in person, and then gave me all the raw data. And I am telling you, Pete, my life – this was years ago – I am literally living the life that is in that spreadsheet of answers right now, because they saw it. I just was too scared to do anything about it, but knowing that these people believed in me and what they saw started to open up me being able to see what that North Star might be, and how to get there.

Pete Mockaitis
That is cool, that is bold. Can you lay it out – what are a few of those questions that got in there?

Maxie McCoy
Yeah, the five are: What makes you irreplaceable? What’s your superpower? What’s holding you back? What are you up to five years from now? And then any additional notes on talents, potential, or unique value.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah. And what I like is that it’s a positive. We had a guest talking about self-awareness – it was Tasha Eurich. Self-awareness and talking about doing dinner of truth. And that’s really cool.

Maxie McCoy
Super cool, but I don’t want to be there.

Pete Mockaitis
It sounds pretty spooky, whereas those questions do have some constructive stuff – “What’s holding you back?”, to deal with. But most of it is going to make you feel awesome.

Maxie McCoy
And sometimes you need that. We’re hard enough on ourselves.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah. That’s cool. Well, thank you for that.

Maxie McCoy
Absolutely.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, tell me now – how about a favorite quote, something you find inspiring?

Maxie McCoy
I find this incredibly inspiring. You can tell me how you feel about this, but it’s from an artist named Ashley Longshore. She’s incredible, one of my favorite people to follow on Instagram. But she says, “Instant gratification will get you stone drunk or pregnant. Everything else is going to take some time.” I think it’s just a really funny way, and I say it to myself often to just have some patience with any of the things – with ourselves, with trying to figure all of this out. We’ve just got to stick at it.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s great, thank you. And how about a favorite study or experiment or a bit of research?

Maxie McCoy
The McKinsey study – I think this was late 2015 – specifically around advancing women’s equality, which is the thing that gets me out of bed in the morning, that $12 trillion could be added to the global GDP by 2025. And for me that’s just a reminder of why this work matters.

Pete Mockaitis
Thank you. And how about a favorite book?

Maxie McCoy
Lilac Girls. So this one is Martha Hall Kelly. I read it, I’m obsessed with it. In all of this self-help work that we’re all always doing, I have transitioned my mind at night to being obsessed with fiction, and this is just one of my favorites. It’s got some complex female characters that I dig.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, cool, thank you. And how about a favorite tool, something that helps you be awesome at your job?

Maxie McCoy
So, I use and love – and this goes back to the gratitude journaling – an app called Reflectly. It’s a daily gratitude journal where you rate your day, and then you can see over the course of time what your metrics are, like how happy you’ve been over the course of a week, through the course of a month.

Pete Mockaitis
Thank you. And how about a favorite habit?

Maxie McCoy
Am I allowed to talk about the Oprah candle again? Because that’s just hands down my favorite habit. I light her every day. And by the way, I buy her in bulk.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. And is there a particular nugget you share that really seems to connect or resonate with your people, and you hear it quoted back to you frequently?

Maxie McCoy
Yeah, this quote around, “You never know who you’re inspiring” gets retweeted all the time from me, because I think it’s just a reminder to all of us that our actions, even if they feel small and insignificant – our actions, our stories, our voice – it all really matters so much. You have no idea the impact you’re having on other people.

Pete Mockaitis
And Maxie, if folks want to get in touch or talk to you, where should they go?

Maxie McCoy
Please, I love talking to people. It’s MaxieMcCoy.com. You can email me directly at an inbox I do check, at hello@maxiemccoy.com. Or quickly, I’m always fast on social. It’s @maxiemccoy, Instagram and Twitter.

Pete Mockaitis
And do you have a final challenge or call to action for those seeking to be awesome at their jobs?

Maxie McCoy
I really think that everyone should do this survey about their humans, and just get that feedback and believe them. I also put the survey in my book, which is You’re Not Lost. It’s on any of the major retailers. You can find out a little bit more about the story and how to do that there.

Pete Mockaitis
Perfect. Well, Maxie, this has been a ton of fun.

Maxie McCoy
So fun!

Pete Mockaitis
Thanks so much for sharing your take, and good luck with the book You’re Not Lost, and all you’re doing!

Maxie McCoy
Thank you, thank you, thank you. I’m so batshit grateful to be here.

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