Bryan Schroeder became a very good friend of mine in a short period of time. I had been unemployed for about a year, hired a professional coach, and was about 12 months into the journey of rebuilding my life. I’d just gained two clients in my own coaching practice and was coaching on a very small scale.
Bryan was a business owner. Over the past 15 years, he had built a real estate investment business which purchased, rehabilitated, and sold 160 houses a year. They owned about 130 rental properties, and had built a hard money lending business that loaned money to other real estate investors. We were friends and I looked up to Bryan as a powerful business owner. I enjoyed being in his presence because I always learned a lot from him.
“Mike, I’ve been without a coach for about 6 months and I’ve been looking for one. I want you to be my coach. I think you have a lot to teach me,” Bryan said in a meeting I will never forget. He took me completely by surprise with his request. I had never expected it or even dreamed it was possible. I suddenly felt embarrassed, and feelings of inadequacy and insecurity began to surface.
“No way, Bryan. I don’t think I’m ready for that” I replied in a shrunken tone.
“Mike, I want you to reconsider. You have an executive business background, and I want to keep building my business. I know you could teach me a lot,” Bryan reiterated with some emphasis.
“Let me think about it, Bryan. I’m just not sure I’m ready to coach someone like you,” I said sheepishly.
Feelings of unworthiness chased me my whole life. Even though I had ascended in corporate America, and although I was always viewed as a high-powered leader, I just didn’t feel it. I couldn’t feel what others saw in me. The feelings of inadequacy ran deep, and my unworthiness was more than just a lack of confidence or courage. My unworthiness repeatedly told me that I was a waste of space breathing everyone’s air. I believed that was why I was terminated from two executive-level positions, and why I became suicidal and an alcoholic.
We look for evidence to support and reinforce what we believe. What we believe is created by what we are exposed to when we are children—especially between birth and seven years old. When we are young we are programmed with beliefs, and we often spend the rest of our lives trying to prove them right.
In my case I was taught that I was only worthy of love if I was perfect. I was taught that all A’s and one B required an overhaul of my habits, study schedule, priorities, and how I approached life. Since my mother was an addict, I needed to go above and beyond to feel loved. And even though I tried my best, love was typically not returned because of her addiction. So I grew up feeling unlovable and unworthy.
Even when I created massive results and achievements in my life including awards, strong income, powerful executive titles, and significant business results, I felt like I was a detriment to those around me, not a cause of the outcomes I created.
After my collapse and reboot, I began to become aware of the power that I had given away my entire life to those around me. I was looking for external validation and justification to be alive. And it all stemmed from my feelings of unworthiness. Over time I became aware of my true worthiness and took back my power one experience at a time.
A few weeks after Bryan made the initial offer he asked again, and I hesitantly agreed to coach him and his business. Together we have created a strategy, realigned, and reorganized his team. We have trained his leaders, and we review his monthly results to ensure the strategy unfolds accordingly. In our meetings, I have used lessons in leadership from my five years in the United States Marine Corps as well as my near 20 years in Fortune 500 corporations, which include almost 15 years in management and leadership positions. Bryan and I have coached together for over two years, and both of our businesses have benefited from the relationship. We don’t see the relationship ending anytime soon.
This all happened because I was able to move through the initial unworthiness, inadequacy, and insecurity I felt when Bryan recognized something in me that I could not see in myself. Since then, I have learned to trust that my talents, experience, and even my breath is valuable.
I no longer take up space and breathe everyone else’s air. I belong. It’s the feelings of unworthiness that don’t belong.
If you experience feelings of unworthiness, inadequacy, and/or insecurity, there’s always hope. You are valuable, safe, and capable of powerful things. You just have to realize that you might be holding onto some beliefs and stories that are no longer true, and no longer serving you. Once you do, you’ll find that all along your own self-rejection was the reason for every rejection you’ve ever faced.
And then your new life will begin.