EP 57: Toxic Proving, Gender Bias, and the Not-Enough Loop with Wendy Collie

Uncategorized Jul 22, 2022


When we spend most of our time trying to prove our worth, our proving shifts to looking for safety and validation from external sources and delegates our worth to others.

When we engage in this kind of proving, we end up in what I call the “not enough” loop.

The not enough loop is rooted in the belief that if you can change or fix yourself based on these external metrics–the standard of enough–you’ll get relief and feel more secure and capable.

But it only deepens our feelings of insecurity, comparison, and scarcity, which loops back to looking outside ourselves for validation. The not enough loop counts on us to externalize our worthiness.

When we fall into the not enough loop in our work, we often hear blanket labels like “imposter syndrome” that place responsibility on the individual and shut down conversations about the biases and pressures that make imposter syndrome and the not enough loop so much more prevalent for anyone who doesn’t identify as a straight, white, cis male.

My guest today has been through the grind of toxic environments, gender biases, and all of the things that can feed the not enough loop.

Wendy Collie is a former Fortune 200 executive with a passion for triple bottom line organizations who are customer-focused while having employee-oriented philosophies as a cornerstone for transformative, sustainable, and profitable growth.

Wendy believes that organizations have a responsibility to improve the lives of their customers, employees, and their communities, and that success is measured by both stakeholders and shareholders, no matter the size of the company.



Listen to the full episode to hear: 

  • What happened when Wendy was struggling to prove herself on all fronts
  • Why living her values meant stepping away from a job she loved
  • How Wendy evaluated the deep roots of her need to prove herself, and decoupled her identity from her title
  • Why Wendy believes in intentionally crafting company culture and how that impacts hiring and management practices
  • How Wendy reframes proving and perfectionism in her work now

Learn more about Wendy Collie:

Learn more about Rebecca:


Scroll down for the full episode transcript:

Wendy Collie: When leadership is tested and stakes are high, he used to constantly say to me, “You cannot make a decision to keep your job. You have to make a decision in service of those that you serve in your job, and if you're living your values and your decision is right, you have to accept the consequence of the outcomes and be okay with it.”

[Inspirational Intro Music]

Rebecca Ching: As long as I can remember, the sense I needed to prove my worth and competency was implicitly built into everything I did. Though not obvious, this sense that I need to prove on repeat was a given and jumbled into all the other expectations I carried (shoot, even continue to carry). Now, I often compete against myself and others, especially when I’m working out or playing a sport. I like to prove I can reach a goal or accomplish a milestone, and I’ve played this little internal game as far back as I can remember. It feels innate, but when I spend most of my time trying to prove my worth, my proving shifts to where I’m looking for safety and validation from external sources, and this kind of proving delegates my worth to others. When I engage in this particular kind of proving, I end up in what I call “the not-enough loop.” 

The not-enough loop is when you respond to feeling the pain of shame and look to others for validation you're worthy, and the not-enough loop is rooted in the belief that if you can change or fix yourself based on these external metrics deemed at the standard of “you're enough,” you’ll get relief and feel more secure and capable. When, in fact, it actually only deepens feelings of insecurity, comparison, scarcity, and more which loops you back to looking outside of you for confirmation of you’re enough on repeat. The not-enough loop get its fuel by putting all the pressure on you to change and blames you for feeling less-than in the first place, and the not-enough loop also neglects to take into account that our feelings of unworthiness and lack of safety are rooted in the systems and narratives that are invested in -- in fact, count on us to externalize our worthiness.


I'm Rebecca Ching, and you're listening to The Unburdened Leader, the show that goes deep with leaders whose burdens have inspired their life's work.  Our goal is to learn how they’ve addressed these burdens, how they rise from them and become better and more impactful leaders of themselves and others.

Though my worthiness never depreciates, it sure feels like it when I’m in the not-enough loop. When my focus on proving goes beyond the desire to earn trust and moves to proving my worthiness, I know I’ve arrived in the not-enough loop. Now, I suspect I’m not the only one that gets stuck in the not-enough loop. For me, it shows up in the many spaces I do life - as a business owner, a mom, a partner, a community member, a person of faith, a human, and when proving shifts from earning trust to looking elsewhere for proof of my worthiness, oof, now, I enter the not-enough loop with thoughts like, “What makes me better than everyone else,” or, “If I don't  get picked, I’m not worthy,” and here’s a doozy, “I have to always prove I’m working.” Side note: I think this one feels especially true for those who are service providers or are in traditional corporate spaces. Here’s another one: “I need to prove I am invested in my family and my work equally.” Yeah, it’s like the vice grip of the not-enough loop there.

The not-enough loop is a place I suspect many of you are very familiar with, though maybe never overtly identified. Now, I lose focus on the truth about my worthiness when I end up handing over way too much power to others, making me vulnerable to compromising my values. 


I also understand my struggle to shift out of the not-enough loop involves getting very clear on the biases, the pressures, the lack of autonomy I have and, shoot, continue to experience from leaders, organizations, government, and places of worship too, and when our proving falls into the not-enough loop in our work and personal relationships, we’re usually in a toxic space. I often hear language like “imposter syndrome” used as a response to understandable questioning, self-doubt, and real-life struggles in spaces that don't value authenticity. Many in the personal development space rush to label, even pathologize, discomfort as imposter syndrome. Argh, frustrates me so much. I want to press “delete” on this blanket-phrase that shuts down empathy and shuts down spaces that allow for honest conversations and questioning.

Now, Ruchika Tulshyan and Jodi-Ann Burey refreshingly call BS to the use of imposter syndrome in their Harvard Business Review article, “Stop Telling Women They Have Imposter Syndrome,” and they state: “Imposter syndrome is especially prevalent in biased, toxic cultures that value individualism and overwork.” Sound familiar? When we continue to shut down our discomfort around struggle with these blanket-labels like imposter syndrome that place the responsibility solely on the individual, we only feel the not-enough loop. I have a lot of compassion and grace for those, like me, who still get sucked into the not-enough loop which shows up more frequently if you don't identify as a straight, white, cis male. When you identify as female, research shows one of the likely catalysts of the not-enough loop results, also, from gender bias.


Joan C. Williams’ research has brought to light core components of gender bias. One of these patterns she identified is called “Prove It Again,” which says, “My mistakes carry more weight than a man’s mistakes, and  my success often gets attributed to luck, while a male’s success often gets attributed to his competency.” It also says, “My ideas don’t carry weight and are often overlooked in the presence of a man unless shared by a male.” It also says, “I’ll receive more criticism on how I follow the rules in the systems compared to a man.”

So, my guest today, she gets the grind of toxic proving, gender biases, and all the things that feed the not-enough loop. Wendy Collie is a former fortune-200 executive with a passion for triple-bottom-line  organizations who are customer-focused while having employee-oriented philosophies as a cornerstone for transformative, sustainable, and profitable growth. Wendy believes that organizations have a responsibility to improve the lives of their customers, employees, and communities, and that success is measured by both stake-holders and share-holders no matter the size of the company. The rise of her career catapulted at Starbucks Coffee Company, where she served various leadership roles over 18 years, both in The States and in Europe, with the responsibility for company operations, license stores, and international subsidiaries during her tenure. 

After leading iconic purpose-inspired brands for more than 30 years, Wendy founded Better Way Business because she saw a need for high-growth organizations to better integrate their strategy and culture, and to be more progressive and inclusive. After founding her consulting business, she has since held interim C-suite roles at companies like Salt & Straw (the best ice cream; so good), and Evergreen Salads, and continues to coach CEOs and executive leaders.


Now, pay attention to what Wendy discovered about herself and her work when she was trying to prove her abilities on all fronts. Listen to what a mentor shared with Wendy about choosing her values over her job, and notice the attention and pace Wendy gave to hiring and building teams and how candidates would prove if they were a good fit or not. All right, now, please welcome Wendy Collie to The Unburdened Leader podcast.

You’re listening to The Unburdened Leader, and I am so grateful to welcome my guest today, Wendy Collie. Wendy, welcome to The Unburdened Leader podcast.

Wendy Collie: Thank you so much, Rebecca. I am thrilled to be here.

Rebecca Ching: Well, I’ve been wanting to have this conversation with you since I started the podcast, so I am so excited to dig in. I want to start off by talking about how so many people have had major career shifts over the last couple of years whether they were looking for it or not, and you experienced a hard-stop in your career when you parted ways and left a job you’d loved as CEO for New Seasons Market in Portland back in 2018 (pre-COVID). Tell me what was going through your mind at this time.

Wendy Collie: Yeah, wow, Rebecca, this could be, like, a mini-series, but thank you for asking the question 'cause it was a really important transition in my life and a really important time. You know, I would start by saying I loved my job. I was so incredibly fortunate to be part of a progressive and beloved industry-leading company that always put people and planet and community livelihood in the forefront of every decision. That was part of what attracted me there and part of what inspired me as a leader within the organization. I would say that in any leadership position our values, at times, get tested, and especially in a progressive company that is looking at trying to show that you can operate a company in a different way in the world to better both stakeholders and shareholders. 


Your values get tested time and time again against conventional corporate wisdom, if you will, and those values get tested when stakes are really high, and without getting into all the long sort of details, I think a lot of leaders, at moments in their careers, experience this moment of, like, things are really good until they're not, you know, for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it creeps up on you or sometimes it’s like a frickin’ 2x4 that smacks you over the head and makes sure that you realize there’s a seismic shift happening and you need to pay attention. I call those moments significant life moments. In those moments, you have to make a decision of how you want to show up as a leader, and, for me, there were all these seismic shifts that were happening in the company that were outside of my control. The industry had shifted dramatically and evaluations had gone down, and we were having some labor challenges, we weren’t hitting our numbers and our goals, and so, it was just this really intense time between stakeholders and shareholders. The solutions and the complications just became more complex, and they were competing with each other, and it was really a strain on myself and my -- all of the teams, to be honest with you. 

And so, I would tell you that there was this conflict between my need to please, right? This need as a leader that I have to want to prove that I can handle it all, and I can do it all, and I can make it happen, and we can weather the storm and this need to prove, right -- that you want to prove that you're a leader that can add value to all of your constituents. I realized I got to this place where, you know, if I’m being honest, I don’t think I was being very effective on all fronts because there were too many fronts to fight.


A long time ago, I had a dear mentor (who’s still in my life) that talked about when leadership is tested and stakes are high, he used to constantly say to me, “You cannot make a decision to keep your job. You have to make a decision in service of those that you serve in your job, and if you're living your values, and your decision is right, you have to accept the consequence of the outcomes and be okay with it.” I realized there was too much going on and I needed to pick a path and not let the short-term upheaval and fear and demands take precedence over what I really was trying to accomplish with sustainable, equitable, inclusive practices. And so, I picked my path. I let the chips fall where they may. I knew they might have been in favor with me or not in favor with me, but ultimately, I was living my values and soon after that, I realized it was really time for me to leave the company that I loved, that I stood with the values that I hold dear and feel good about that decision, that I think sometimes when you have to make those decisions, you're making a decision to walk and talk your beliefs and not be boxed into something that, then, keeps you in a box in the future, right? That you're compromising your leadership values or you’re quieting your voice because you feel that it’s better to just work through a situation, and I feel good that I didn't box myself in. I stated my piece, I picked my path, and the chips fell.

Rebecca Ching: When you say boxed in, like, if you don't live your values you can box yourself in for the future, can you talk a little bit more about that possible choice you had and what not choosing your values and over-accommodating, proving at the expense of your values, how that boxes us in, not just in the moment, but for the future?


Wendy Collie: Yeah, I think -- and I will be honest with you, as a woman, right -- I present as a woman, and I do think there are times where it is even harder on us as female leaders to be able to take a really tough position and know that the stakes are high, the risks are there, and be comfortable with that. I would say that, speaking only for myself, in my career, there have been moments where I have disagreed with people that I was reporting to or people that were shareholders or investors in companies and have expressed my position but, perhaps, not been as clear and as -- what is the word I’m looking for -- as firm in what my beliefs are, and I have maybe quieted myself to not necessarily take a position of not being true to myself, but not vocalize what I believe needs to happen and be firm about that and understand that someone may disagree with me, and that disagreement could cause a falling out. Instead, being boxed in looked like, for me, “Oh, they know I’m good. They know my intentions. I know their intentions. I’ll just be a little quieter,” or, “I’ll just work around it,” or, “I’ll just see if I can kind of work my way into the conversation,” instead of really going right after it and saying, “I’m not gonna be put in a box. I have an opinion. I have a thought I want to share.” We can have that dialogue and agree to disagree, but we have to have that dialogue. We have to get comfortable with that conflict in the middle, if that makes sense. 

Rebecca Ching: Mm. Well, comfortable with the conflict or at least have the capacity and the respect for the conflict, yes. Comfort -- sometimes I’m like -- my husband thinks I’m too comfortable with the conflict, but I hear from a lot of people -- I appreciate that a lot. 


One more thing I want to circle back on is this powerful advice from your mentor about choosing your values and not your job. I’m still kind of digesting that a little bit, and I know that sometimes there’s potentially a lot of privilege in choosing values over your job, but there’s also a lot of, I want to say, freedom even though it could have a lot of -- again, that’s a complex lean-in, per se, to do that, and I just want for you to speak to that a little bit more ‘cause it sounds great, like, “Yeah! I’m gonna choose my values, not my job. Yeah! Go team,” or, “Go me!” Then, it’s like “Whoa, but the stakes are high,” ‘cause you’re leading a lot of people who trust you, who value you, who are connected to you, and there’s, again, a lot of hats that you wear, so when you choose values and really look at who you’re serving, too, and not just the job, yeah, there’s a lot of probably stuff that comes up instinctively like, “But I need to take care of me.” [Laughs]

Wendy Collie: Yeah.

Rebecca Ching: So, yeah, I just wonder if you could talk to that a little bit more.

Wendy Collie: Yeah, no, I think that is a great call out that it was a privilege for me to be in a situation where I knew that there could be -- especially the stakes get higher as you go up in organizations as well, but the stakes are real in every job that people have, and what I would say is living your values doesn't necessarily mean it’s okay if you get fired or it’s okay if you walk away, right? I think living your values means you are finding a way to show up and represent your thinking and your actions and how you believe you can be at your best. 


It wasn't an ultimatum that I gave when I was CEO at New Seasons, it was a conversation about I am not in alignment with you and I am not in alignment with you on some things that you are thinking about, and I want to share where I sit on that and how I feel about that, and that, perhaps, I am not the person. If this is the path you want to continue to go down, I may not be the person that is going to choose to participate in that or you may not choose me, and I understand not everybody has got the privilege of being in that position. However, I think we each have a responsibility to share our values and to speak our truth in a respectful, educational, partnership way and understand that there’s some risk that might be associated with that because the other person may not receive it in the way it’s intended, but it is important to feel you can and you should do that.

Rebecca Ching: Thank you for unpacking that more. Yeah, if we had more of those types of conversations in our country, in our world, we would be in a very, very different place. It’s nice to know that there’s pockets of spaces where that’s still happening.

So shifting as you took an inventory of your career and life, what did this hard stop in your career bring up for you as you reflected on both your personal and professional parts of your life?

Wendy Collie: Yeah, phew, it was a doozy. Back to your earlier comment about how do people do this 'cause it’s a high-risk situation, right? I would say it brought up a lot of things. I think, first of all, proving myself has always been sort of my deep-rooted driver and demon, right? I think a lot of leaders and a lot of women struggle with this, right? We’re trying to prove ourselves as community members, as leaders, as moms, as wives -- enter things here -- sisterhoods, and it’s a lot of pressure. In this particular instance, I felt really good, initially, that I did stand for what I believed was right, and I felt good initially about, like, I am valued, I have been a high contributor, I have made a difference in over 4,000 people’s lives over the last six years, I feel good about myself, and then sort of reality kicked in, and it was like that proving perfectionist side just smacked me in the face.


Honestly, I went through this phase of feeling like a failure and feeling like this was a setback and maybe I didn't make the right decision, and I had doubt and some depression and some anger and, honestly, a sense of betrayal at one point. I got angry, like, “Wait a minute! This is who I am. I’ve been showing up who I am every day for all of these years, and suddenly I take an unpopular position on something, and I'm being told I'm not valuable anymore?” Like, what is that about, you know? 

Then I went through the whole, like, “Aww, they didn't pick me,” or, “Wait a minute, would this happen if I was a man?” So I went through this gamut of personal sort of emotions about whether or not I had done the right thing, and my feeling and my need to prove myself, that burden of suddenly, like, wait, but I am a good person, I am a good leader, I do contribute, suddenly got hyped, you know? I think it was just because I felt a sense of loss in the process as well. As much as I triumphed, I lost.

Rebecca Ching: Oof.

Wendy Collie: Professionally, it brought up a lot too. I am the breadwinner. I have been the breadwinner for over 30 years, and suddenly, it was like, what do I -- what are my next steps and what did I really love about my job, and do I recreate myself or do I go back into a space where I’m most comfortable, and am I worthy of that, you know? 


Am I worthy of doing a job that is similar to this or am I an imposter in this space that I thought I belonged.

So, I mean, I will give you the example that right after I left the company, I got invited to go on an inaugural river rafting trip with 24 other female CEOs out of Oregon, and I called the person who was organizing it and said, “I don't belong. I’m not a CEO anymore,” and I remember the comment back to me was, “What are you talking about? This is when you belong the most. You need to be surrounded by people who are your peer network that can lift you up and support you and guide you along this next journey, and just because you don't have a specific title from a specific company does not mean you are not the leader that you are today.” I thought, oh, my gosh, you're right. I need to get into a different mindset. So it was quite a journey.

Rebecca Ching: I am so grateful for that reflection back to you. That is a powerful -- this is where you need to be now more than ever, and how powerful it is, even to the best of us, to realize how much our identity and worthiness are tied up in our titles, in our -- what the external is versus our body of work and who we are. You talk about proving, and I suspect anyone listening to this is, like, “Mm-hmm,” nodding and resonating with that. For you, with the burden of proving, was it proving you were enough, proving that you were worthy? What was the nuance? To get more granular on your proving burden, what was driving that? What were you trying to prove, at least those parts of you that drove you that way?

Wendy Collie: Yeah, I think, for me, personally, it was kind of being in this place and proving I am enough, you know, that I am enough. 


For me, proving of myself since I was a little girl, right? So if I go all the way back to young little Wendy, the environment I grew up in, I was told am I just gonna go to college and get married and have kids and call it a day, right? That was my destiny, and I was like really? I think it’s more than that. My sister and I were both, you know, the first two women in my dad’s immediate family to go to college. So there was a big thing there, and I remember him saying, “I’m spending all this money on you. I hope you don't just go get married and call it a day,” right? And so, you get into this mindset of am I doing enough, am I worthy enough? The way it would show up to me was pleasing and overworking and perfectionism and looking for recognition and people saying, “You are enough. You have done good work. You are doing good things. You are making a difference.” 

And so, sitting in that space after I left the job and realizing I didn't feel like enough, even though I had done all these great things, I realized, was an opportunity for me to reframe my thinking, right? Why was I not enough, ‘cause I didn't get everything done? Like, what does a checklist do, you know? So it’s just funny how your mind -- you can really create a narrative for yourself that is unproductive when you're really coming from this place of proving.

Rebecca Ching: So I’m curious. What were the stakes for you, then, as you began to decide what to do next, and what actions did you take to help discern next steps? I know you mentioned the white water rafting trip, but I’m wondering if there’s anything else that you decided to do and what were the stakes as you were like, “Okay, I‘ve got to figure out what to do with this place in my career?”

Wendy Collie: Yeah, yeah, I mean, the stakes were high because I was the breadwinner of the family, right? 


And so, there was a lot of pressure to think about not only providing for my family with my husband who provides as well. He was a stay-at-home dad, and he has a job that he does as well, but thinking about what does change look like for me, what does change look like for us, what does change look like for our family, and we were heading into this place of being empty nesters, right, and yet, I’m trying to figure out and recreate my career all at the same time. And so, I felt like the stakes were high because my role in the company that I was in was very visible and I was very active in the community, and I was very active in trying to advocate for stakeholder benefits and making sure that all people were being served and being lifted up, and then I left that, and (to your point, because I identified my brand with the brands of the companies that I’ve worked with) I had to redefine my brand.

And so, honestly, being on this river trip with these women -- we were 24 women from 29 years old to 72 years old, start-up CEOs to CEOs of law firms and founders of large companies, and so, we were kind of all walks of life. I think that experience allowed me to separate a bit of myself from the companies that I worked with and really decide who is Wendy. What is my leadership brand, and where do I want to play in terms of contributing my time and energy to lift up others? And so, it allowed me to start that process of separating and sort of going through honestly like a detox of corporate America that my proving was my paycheck and my review and having external and internal people tell me that I was worthy and really find it within myself of what’s the work that I want to do that’s important to me, and that was a lot of the next steps of the process that I took.


Rebecca Ching: Mm, that’s powerful, and I think it’s so worth noting, too, that the detox process involved community, and it involved nature. It did not involve reading a book or a course. It was, like, getting out of your usual routine and getting with folks who you had a commonality with -- there was a thread, and so, I think that that’s really important, that we can’t do these things in isolation. So often, so many people do. So I just appreciate that.

I want to talk a little bit about some of your work experience prior to new seasons. You started your career working at Starbucks as part of the core team that developed foundational, cultural, and leadership development programs which is amazing that it not only replicated you and your former colleagues successfully at Starbucks but in other companies. So what practices did you put in place to hire and lead a team that truly cares about the mission and each other? 

Wendy Collie: Yeah, I tell ya, I feel so incredibly fortunate that I was a part of Starbucks’ early days and in sort of their high trajectory growth days. I was there for over 18 years. I was reflecting on it the other day because I do think in many ways it shaped who I am as a person and as a human being, not just as a leader, but as a human being. You know, the thing that I learned at Starbucks was there was a saying that Howard Behar used to always say to us. He was sort of the people culture operations side of Starbucks, and I worked most closely with him and the people inside of his division, and he always used to say, “We are not in the coffee business serving people. We are in the people business serving coffee.” 


I really would tell you that through most of the ‘90s and the early 2,000s there was so much intention put in the company around people and around hiring people and hiring for the human being and hiring for the culture because, look, culture eats strategy and culture always exists, so if you don't define your culture, culture will exist anyways, and if you don’t curate and nurture and make sure that you are intentionally growing culture, it will absolutely eat up your strategy and spit it out because that’s just the way it works. That’s how humans work. 

And so, the thing that I learned at Starbucks was you hire the whole person. You interview for the fit. You interview, and you spend time to see if the person is appreciative of the values and the mission of the company, and you put people into the front line to see how comfortable they feel in the business that you are doing. So how that showed up in day-to-day practice for me in every company I’ve ever worked for is A, I will be accused of doing one too many interviews. So I’ll start with that. By bringing candidates in to meet with all levels of the organization and letting them experience every level from the most senior to the, literally, part-time, frontline person if you can, so that you can see how they fit into the total picture and how comfortable they feel is a great indicator of how inspired people feel by your mission and values, and that long interview process, interviewing with different people and different places, you also get a 360 view of how that human being shows up in different circumstances (when you're walking a store, when you're sitting in a conference room, when you're having dinner), because I’ll tell you what, wearing one hat, being the same person you are in every aspect of your life, to me, is one of the most important things in hiring someone. I want to know the whole person. I want to know who you are, and I want to hire people for their future potential, not just for the current role.


Rebecca Ching: So you would have these interviews where you would put a candidate in all the different spaces, not just if I was gonna work in marketing.

Wendy Collie: Yeah.

Rebecca Ching: You would put me in all -- is that correct? Is that correct?

Wendy Collie: Yeah, yeah, and I’ll tell you what, multiple times in my career, I was able to discern a person who was saying all the right things but didn't necessarily subscribe to the mission and values of the company because somewhere along the way it presented itself in either a they weren’t engaged or they asked questions that were canned questions or they dismissed someone because they didn’t think they would ever have to work with that person, and those behaviors show up as much as the behaviors of people you're like, “Mm, can they do the job?” Then you get this feedback of, like, this human being is remarkable, and if you don't hire them, we have to find a place for them in the organization. Like, they are a remarkable human being. 

Rebecca Ching: Even if they didn’t have a skill.

Wendy Collie: Yeah, yeah!

Rebecca Ching: Even if they didn't have a fully developed -- or as qualified as other candidates.

Wendy Collie: As qualified, and, you know, I have been known to hire people that maybe weren't the best at managing a P&L, but I can teach someone how to manage a P&L. I can’t teach people how to value the work that a barista does in a store, and the work that they do out of the corporate office (which we used to call the support center) is gonna affect that person as a barista, and if you don't care about that barista, the truth line of that company, the truth that has to exist because you're affecting their lives is not gonna work, right? You have to be able to appreciate the other people that you're impacting.

Rebecca Ching: That’s a vibe almost, too.

Wendy Collie: Yeah.

Rebecca Ching: When you feel that genuine, open-hearted curiosity and excitement, but also that gives dignity to others too --

Wendy Collie: Yeah.


Rebecca Ching: -- that dismissing of, like, “Oh, well, I’m never gonna be dealing with the early-shift barista, I’m gonna be up in corporate, so I don't need to really acknowledge you.” That, you could call BS to the stuff by just watching how they move through.

Wendy Collie: The other thing I would say I learned at Starbucks that I’ve replicated is if you have a mission, vision, and values in a company that is not alive and well in the company, it is not visible and experienced by the candidate, you also have a problem. So I would hear so many times at Starbucks and so many times, honestly, in other companies that I’ve worked in where the candidate goes all the way through this whole interview shenanigans, and when they get back and I debrief and say, “How was your experience?” They've said, “It’s remarkable to see the values of the company and the mission being talked about, being represented, and being reinforced..”  

Rebecca Ching: Lived!

Wendy Collie: And lived.

Rebecca Ching: And lived.

Wendy Collie: I had never seen that before. I‘ve worked at companies where it’s on a wall and nobody pays attention to it.

Rebecca Ching: Right.

Wendy Collie: That always was validating for me to know I was doing my part in bringing the mission and values alive as well.

[Inspirational Music Interlude]

Rebecca Ching: Leading is hard, and leading is also, often, controversial as you navigate staying aligned to your values, your mission, your boundaries. Navigating the inevitable controversy can challenge your confidence, clarity, and calm. Now, I know you don’t mind making the hard decisions, but sometimes the stakes seem higher and can bring up echoes of old doubts and insecurities and take you to the not-enough loop during times when you need to feel rock solid on your plan and action. 


Finding a coach who gets the nuances of your business and leading in our complex and polarized world can help you identify the not-enough loop and the blocks that keep you playing at safe and small. Leading today is not a fancy title or fluffy bragging rights, it is brave and bold work to stay the course when the future is so unknown and the doubts and pains from the past keep showing up to shake things up. Internal emotional practices and systemic strategies are needed to keep the protector of cynicism and the not-enough loop at bay and foster a hope that is actionable and aligned.

When the stakes are high and you don't want to lose focus, when you want to navigate inevitable conflict between your ears and with those you lead, when time is of the essence and you want to make hard decisions with confidence and clarity, then Unburdened Leader Coaching is for you, where you deepen the capacity to tolerate the vulnerability of change, innovation, and doing things differently than the status quo.

To start your Unburdened Leader Coaching process with me go to www.rebeccaching.com and book a free connection call. I can’t wait to hear from you!

[End Inspirational Music Interlude]

What leadership practices did you learn from working with Howard Schultz who was the CEO of Starbucks (or still is the CEO of Starbucks)?

Wendy Collie: Yeah, the third time’s a charm. [Laughs]

Rebecca Ching: I know, right? Coming back and forth. What are those leadership practices that you learned that you still practice today?

Wendy Collie: Yeah, yeah, I mean, I’ve learned so much from Howard, and, again, I’m so thankful that I got the opportunity to work with him and inside the organization. You know, I think there were a few overarching, guiding principles from Howard that really are true to who I am today, both personally and professionally. I think one piece of it is you have to bring people with you. 


He really was a -- the first time I had experienced a leader that really wanted to make sure that all partners (which is what we called employees at Starbucks ‘cause everybody got stock in the company) were brought into the success of the company and that they were given opportunities to impact their work environment and impact how their work showed up in that they had a place that was a community and that could be vibrant and rewarding. It was very important for him, but, you know, early, early days at Starbucks, we paid -- our starting wages were far and above minimum wage. Our benefits were far and above more or best and offered to people at 20 hours or more (which most companies didn't do at the time), and very progressive thinking around bringing people with you and always making your decisions through that filter. Your stakeholders, your customers, and your shareholders, the decision has to be in all three of those areas and make sure that everybody is benefiting. So that was number one. Serve people well, and bring them with you in the decisions.

Some of the other things that he talked about were rituals matter. So rituals around the way we always did coffee tastings at the start of every meeting. When we went into stores and a new coffee got brought in, the first thing we’d do is we’d all do the tasting together because those rituals around how you come together level-sets who you are as an employee regardless of your title, your role, or the job that you're doing, right? You're surrounded by this product that you all believe in. Rituals also meant how you treated people. You show up in a store. You talk to people. You meet people. You know each other’s names. 


With certain parts of your experience in the company and your tenure, you went through a deep immersion of either building your technical skills or going all the way back to what we used to call coffee culture and connection and deepening that. So those rituals matter around how you extend the village that’s working together in a company. So that would be the second thing.

The third thing is listen for the truth, and sometimes the truth is not overtly stated. You have to really find the truth and make sure that there is a true line between what your vision is and what’s actually happening in the company and understanding each person’s experience inside of that, and that really ties to what Howard Behar brought to Starbucks which is the Servant Leadership Principle which is the best leadership is not about serving yourself, it’s about serving others. So those are probably the biggest things, and then as we were growing, it was really the citizenship. You know, act globally but think locally, and remember that -- no, I said it backwards! Think globally, act locally. That was very funny. I totally switched that around in my head. Think about the global impact that you're having, but when you are acting, make sure that you're acting in that local space for those human beings that are a part of that space.

Rebecca Ching: Mm.

Wendy Collie: So those are probably the main things. You know, he was just great about bringing people together with common vision and hiring great leaders.

Rebecca Ching: And those core lessons that you learned still show up in any job. You bring those with you to any job, any space that you're leading. 

Wendy Collie: Yeah.

Rebecca Ching: The ritual one I want to go back to, too, of this picture -- it has an Egalitarian practice of a coffee tasting where everyone comes around, and it’s not about title, rank. It’s everyone sitting down -- I mean, people are probably very aware of who’s in the room, but there is something about having that common experience and how that does lift up and does connect. I love that. I’m just thinking more about rituals.


Wendy Collie: And it connects also to one more thing I want to share which is because of the trajectory that Starbucks was on in the early ‘90s, the only way that the company was gonna be able to grow and be successful and maintain the culture and the purpose and the values of the company was to bring people with you, right? Starbucks was the first place that I had experienced around A, progressive thinking around diversity and inclusion. So very early days, for me -- you know, Wendy in her late 20s, the focus on women and women in leadership and lifting up women in the organization was an imperative in the company as well as diversity. I think that the second thing was creating jobs that were big enough for people. So there was -- because we had a need to grow, it wasn't about tamping people to a skill. It was about creating jobs that were big enough for people. Let people grow in positions and views the growth of the company in a way to sort of fuel people’s passions and let them realize their potential, and I would say those few things are absolutely embedded in my approach of every company that I participate in.

Rebecca Ching: I feel that in my body listening to you talk about the idea of being in a job that I get to grow into and expand, not just because of my job description, and that that’s an invitation.

Wendy Collie: Yes.

Rebecca Ching: That’s an invitation and that’s cultivated versus, “Stay in your lane, and don't think out of your box, and don’t comment out here.” I feel like that is, what I experienced, has been more the norm than what you're talking about, and you were doing this 20 years ago --

Wendy Collie: Yeah.

Rebecca Ching: -- and these kind of things are talked about right now like it’s all edgy and new, you know? You were in the original space of this.

Wendy Collie: Yeah. Yeah.


Rebecca Ching: And it takes a lot of capacity as a leader and forward thinking and very focused on not just -- I mean, when you have a business, you look at bottom line. You have to look at laws and regulations and ethics and all those things, but not forgetting the person and how they're so inextricably connected versus how do we just retain people is not this high-level thing, but how do we really invest and grow our company with these great leaders?

Wendy Collie: Yeah.

Rebecca Ching: It starts with hiring well, and I’m seeing it’s like the hiring well, man, that process is huge, of course, but then this cultivation and the permission to grow, expand, iterate is an invitation and is cultivated.

Wendy Collie: Yeah.

Rebecca Ching: Oh, my gosh. I’m hungry for that.

Wendy Collie: Yeah.

Rebecca Ching: I’m hungry to see and hear about more of that.

Wendy Collie: And we were really challenged to see talent beyond the current role, right? Is the succession --

Rebecca Ching: That is a challenge.

Wendy Collie: It is, and the succession planning sort of philosophy of the company was not just about how are they doing in their role today, it was about where are their strengths, and where do we see them going, and it’s not about the next job, it’s about the job after that. How do we get them to the job that is two jobs next, right, and realize their potential?

I will tell you, you know, to the credit, there were a few men at the time in the early ‘90s running Starbucks who understood the value of sort of creating that freedom within talent and really allowing the diversity of people of color as well as gender to propagate in the company and grow, that the power of that was gonna be very strong for the company. 


There were a couple of leaders at the time who identified -- I want to say there was probably 10 of us, maybe 12 of us all at manager-level in the company, and they saw potential in us in our late 20s that none of us really could see in ourselves, and because of the way they organized the company around this philosophy of create jobs that are big enough for people, every one of us went through probably 10+ years in the company growing and growing and growing, and every one of us today are C-suite leaders somewhere in the world.

Rebecca Ching: Wow.

Wendy Collie: And we are just a small microcosm of an example of a large population that that was done for in all aspects of the company which is remarkable. So I have tried really hard to replicate that when I’m running companies or I’m coaching CEOs of companies of look at your talent not just for how they're doing today, but create the jobs that are big enough for them in the future, and do you see where their power is and their super power is, then what are you doing to unleash that because that is the success of a company.

Rebecca Ching: So, on that note, you have since developed this niche after your hard stop and a couple of years of reflection and a pandemic. [Laughs] You have since developed a niche of serving as a kind of what you call an interlude CEO for companies. So I’d love for you to share what it’s like to be brought into a company because of an issue, you shepherd the organization with that particular task in mind, and then when a company’s going through something not-so-great, you help them with that, and then you leave. What’s that like?

Wendy Collie: Yeah. You know what? I’m loving it. 


So it’s funny because this, in some ways, kind of fell into my lap. I took a little bit of time off, but then one of my passions is to really pay forward and help some of the up-and-coming leaders (whether they're founders or CEOs of organizations) to grow and accelerate in their roles and, in particular, women and people of color. I fell into a role, actually twice. So there were two different companies where there just happened to be incredible humans that I know that said, “Gosh, I could really use your help, Wendy. Here,” and I kind of stepped into a consulting role and helped in their organizations, and I started to get this idea of there are so many companies right now that are wanting to accelerate the vision and values of the company and wanting to integrate this idea of progressive thinking and inclusion and growth altogether, but they don't necessarily know how or they're in a change-management situation where they’ve lost a leader and they're trying to figure out, well, what kind of leaders do we need. So I’ve been calling them Interlude CEO Sprints, right? It’s like the in-betweens. It’s the in-betweensies roles, and so, I started to sort of test this idea of could I go into a company that’s in a transition or has a need, and what would that look like. It has been so much fun.

So the reason why I love it is A, I have got -- if you looked at my resume, I’ve got the craziest background ever. I am not a straight-line industry person. I have been in clothing -- retail clothing. Yep, you too! I did retail clothing. I’ve been in coffee. I was in early childhood education. I was in grocery. So I’ve got this crazy background, and when I really think about what is it that inspires me, it’s about going into purpose-driven companies that have an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of their customers, their employees, their communities and sort of accelerating that impact. 


What has been great about this is I’ve done it a few times now where I’ve gone in and people are wanting to be involved in the success of the company and in the sustainable practices of the companies that they believe in, down to their bones, right, and sometimes just need the coaching or the opportunity or the voice to be able to bring that forward. So it’s so fun to go in and find people’s voices, but also, help boards and investors and shareholders understand that you can change a strategy, you can shift your leadership approach, and you can unlock so much potential that is rewarding for everybody and watch the lightbulbs go off, and then you watch the momentum start. It is a very fun place to be, and in this last interim role I did getting a leadership scene set up, getting the strategy in place, helping the team to be successful, I’ve been rolled over onto the board which was incredibly gracious, and so, it’s super fun now because I get to still be a part of it [Laughs] which is great!

Rebecca Ching: So I’m sitting here. There’s been this vibe I’ve been working through as I'm listening to you talk, and I feel like I get it every time I sit and listen to you talk and we connect, and I’m realizing I’ve not been exposed to female leaders like you (minus two people that I can think of in my life, and I’m 50, and I’ve worked a lot of different jobs). That sense of there’s not competition. It’s I’ll make time for you. It’s what do you need, but there’s still boundaries. Maybe there’s a little proving still hanging out there, I don't know, but there’s something really different as I’m listening to you talk. 


Parts of me are like where’s the edge gonna come? Where’s the kind of, like, you’ve gotta suck it up -- there’s something that I just kept seeing so much. Like, you do your time, and there wasn't the investment. There wasn't who do you think you are, you know? There was just a lot of those messages, and I know the leaders that I was working with and under, that’s what they got, too, and so, obviously, the contagion that you got in your job at Starbucks has played through, but, I mean, do you see this with other female leaders that didn't have the mentorship that you had, that had to figure it out on their own or are still detoxing from that scarcity, from -- well, and it’s still there. Oh, my gosh, sexism and misogyny --

Wendy Collie: It’s there. 

Rebecca Ching: -- toxic masculinity, supremist culture, all of these things, but it seems like -- and you face it, and you face it every day. That’s not the issue. It’s somehow you have the skills, and you don't look like it’s me or you. It’s we. That really is the sense I get every time I talk to you and I hear you share stories of your work experiences, and that is not the norm, and, yeah, I’m just wondering, you must hear from other female leaders like myself that say, “Wow, this is different.”

Wendy Collie: Yeah.

Rebecca Ching: “How you're leading is different.”

Wendy Collie: Yeah, I do. I do, and, you know, listen, I am sure the people that I’ve worked with (and my husband) would tell you I’m not always smelling like roses. I have my opportunities. I’m human. I am so human.

Rebecca Ching: [Laughs] Of course.

Wendy Collie: I definitely make mistakes, and I would also say I am not afraid to make hard decisions or give hard feedback, but I think the difference that I’ve heard reflected to me -- and, again, I have to go all the way back to my early Starbucks days and the incredible leaders that I had coaching and developing me -- is you don't have to be a bitch to do it. You know, I don't have to show up and command. 


What I’ve learned is people buy into philosophies and agreements and decisions more when they feel like they're a part of the process, and so, the practice of bringing people into the we and listening and hearing, “Here’s what I’m thinking. Where do you sit? Why do you sit in that place, and let me explain to you why I may agree or disagree,” and exchanging in the dialogue where they feel seen and heard and valued, ultimately, helps to get to a place where it’s not about just doing what everybody wants to do. It’s about once we get to a decision, everybody understands the decision, and sometimes they may not like the decision, sometimes I may not like the decision, but ultimately, we can agree that it is the best way to move forward. I think what’s different in that is -- and you said it earlier -- I am willing to take the time to listen and to ask the questions and to see the person as a whole person versus just a person in a specific job description, and how that shows up is understanding life is complicated, especially during the pandemic, right? We all did our jobs. I was in an interim role during the pandemic, working with people over Zoom from a different state. It was hard, right? But just taking the few moments and connecting and seeing where people were at and bringing them into the conversations, ultimately, you actually get better dialogue, you make decisions faster, and I think the team becomes a much more high-performing team because they feel like they fit and they're a part of it. 

Women, in particular, I think, struggle with this and struggle with sometimes having their voice heard at the table, and that is probably the biggest thing I coach when I’m in an interim role and/or when I’m coaching female CEOs is, like, you have a seat at the table. You've earned your seat at the table. You have to use your seat at the table. So I do think it’s probably a different experience than most people have had.


Rebecca Ching: You said a few words: seen, heard, and valued. People buy into these philosophies when they feel a part of the process, and seen, heard, and valued are Brené Brown’s definitions of connection, and trust is built on these small moments of connection. When you have trust, then you can give the hard feedback and it’s received, and you don't get into this gender BS of, “Oh, you're just being a biotch.” It’s, “Oh, no. She cares about me. She’s calling BS or calling me in or up, and my worth and my safety aren't on the table or I’m not just getting picked on or targeted,” because there is connection and trust that’s been deepened.

Wendy Collie: Right.

Rebecca Ching: I’m kind of mapping that out in my head as I hear you talk about that, and take the time -- take the time to listen. That’s, I think, a huge takeaway. My word of the year is “slow,” Wendy.

Wendy Collie: Yeah.

Rebecca Ching: [Laughs] Slowing my brain down and my presence down and my to-do list and the tyranny and my commitment to “I don't want to be late,” you know, the proving, right?

Wendy Collie: Yeah.

Rebecca Ching: I’m gonna tease that out, the proving that gets in the way of taking time in important relationships. So I just think that’s powerful.

Wendy Collie: I think you're spot on. The other thing I would share is I think the space that I also create for people is it’s okay to fail, and it’s okay to fear. It is not okay to not learn from those circumstances, and you have the support to do so, and I think for a lot of women, in particular, the fear of failure and the fear of when you do fail, not being in an environment that is accepting can create a very difficult dynamic to show up as your best self.


Rebecca Ching: That segues to my next question. Perfectionism and authentic leadership can’t exist together. You really embody -- not hashtag authentic, like, you embody and live authenticity. That’s been my experience with you. I mean, you talk about this on a systemic level, but, for you, what is your relationship with failure and mistakes today, and how do you navigate the proving and hustling of perfectionism when it still shows up for you?

Wendy Collie: Yeah, you know, I was horrible at failure for a really long time -- like, horrible. If I thought I failed or I did fail, the amount of sort of beating myself up and tearing myself up and talking bad to myself in my head was horrible, partly because, again, I was in an environment -- and I think it was common when I was growing up in those days, whether you were at school or at home, that failure was not an option, right? You were sort of, like, “Do better,” kind of thing. I say today, all of my failures now are very public. Like, every time I fail big, I fail big and I fail public, so I’ve had to learn to be very humble about them. My biggest failure, my biggest learning was I was put in charge, at Starbucks, of creating, it was called, The Snapshot Program where external people went in, and they bought a cup of coffee, and they rated the stores, and there was data, and you got evaluated on it, and we reported those scores to Wall Street. So it was part of our reporting package how our customer service was doing, and I was in charge of the program. We needed to move to a new company, and so, I led that RFP process, and we selected a new company who I really liked, right, thought they were gonna do really well, and the first quarter they went live, they completely failed at the job.


So we had no data. Their systems broke down. They completely unraveled, and I had to go tell the CEO, at the time, Orin Smith, that I had nothing to give him to go to Wall Street - Wall Street! [Laughs] I was like, “I’m gonna be fired. I am going to be fired. There is no frickin’ way I’m gonna survive this.” I thought I was gonna throw up, and my boss at the time said, “Well, you're gonna need to go in and tell him, and my suggestion to you, Wendy, is to be honest and truthful and just talk about what you're doing to resolve it and what you've learned from it, and let’s see how this whole thing goes.”

So the reason why I’m sharing this story is 'cause it had such an impact on me. I went into the office, I told him the story, and he sat there very stern and looking at me with this very “hmm” face, and I gave him the whole story, and at the end, I said, “Orin, I am so sorry. I thought we picked the right company. We didn't. I know this puts you in a predicament. I am so sorry,” and he looked at me, and he said, “What did you learn from this experience?” I had all my bullet points. I told him all my bullet points, you know, and one of my bullet points at the end was, “And what I’ve learned is sometimes you can’t control the things you can't control. You could only respond to them. I can't control their systems. They told me they had it. They don't, so now I have to make a different decision and find a new company ‘cause they are not able to work with us.” At the end of my bullet points he looked at me and he said, “You know, Wendy, as long as you understand what you’ve learned from this and you can apply it moving forward and it makes you better at the decisions you're making, I’m okay with it, and I’ll tell Wall Street we don't have the numbers. It’s all okay.” I was like you've got to be kidding me! I mean, I was ready to, like, pack up bags.

So his graciousness and his ability to allow me to have this failure to learn, and he was allowing my learning process, has always helped me now with my future failures, right? 


I always look at it as okay, I failed. What am I learning? How do I apply it? How do I move forward? How do I be humble around it? How can I be vulnerable around it, and most importantly, how do I ask for help around it?  

So that’s really been my relationship with failure. I still struggle. I mean, when I think I don't do something right, it could be not making my lasagna right at home, and I didn't read the recipe right, it is an internal struggle that I face that I constantly have to just stare down and say, “It’s okay. This is part of being human, and I’m learning.” When I get into that place of the perfectionism’s voice is becoming too loud for me, that I’m not good enough or I should be doing better, I try to rewrite the narrative of proving, right, going all the way back to this need to prove and say, “I am proving right now that I am human, and I am still learning, and I am still growing, and I am still able to ask for help and admit my mistakes, and that is my truth.” That is the other big sort of lynchpin that helps me through those moments.

Rebecca Ching: That is a powerful reframe. It’s not dismissing the proving altogether, it’s just reframing it. It’s like, “Yep, I’m proving I am deeply human, hello.”

Wendy Collie: “I am flawed, and I am okay with my imperfections, and that is okay.” It’s a constant reminder.

Rebecca Ching: Wendy, is this what you thought you’d be doing today? Being an Interim Interlude Sprint CEO, is this what you thought you’d be doing today?

Wendy Collie: [Laughs] No. No, no, it isn’t. It is not, and, in fact, I am excited that this journey has taken me to a different place than I was expecting because I’m just about to formally kick off my consulting business that I’m calling Better Way Business with Wendy Collie. 


The reason why I’m doing that is because I’m finding that this interim interlude CEO and this ability to coach incredible purpose-driven leaders right now is actually a more impactful, faster way of embedding leadership practices that I think can make the world a better place, and that inspires me. I don't need to make more money for a shareholder. I want to make the world a better place, and so, this journey has taken me to a place that I think, ultimately, is a much more powerful use of my time, and I learn every day from many more people that I’m working with and new companies that I get to work with. So I feel incredibly fortunate. 

Rebecca Ching: Well, I am glad that you're in this role with these sprints because that means there are more organizations and more people you get to impact for the better and for the greater good.

Do you have a moment for some quick-fire questions before we wrap up?

Wendy Collie: Yeah!

Rebecca Ching: Okay. What are you reading right now? 

Wendy Collie: [Laughs] Okay, so I’m reading a series that actually is called Murderbot. [Laughs ] Yeah, it’s called The Murderbot Series, I know. It is actually about a hybrid human robot. It is a sci-fi -- it was the Nebula Award winner. It’s little novelettes (six novelettes), and it is absolutely enjoyable, and you can read the entire book in a week if you want to. My kids recommended it to me, actually -- who found it, and it’s by, oh, my goodness, Martha Wells. So it’s called The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells, and it is not something I’d normally read, and I’m loving it. 

Rebecca Ching: What song are you playing on repeat these days? 

Wendy Collie: Florence + The Machine, her new album, Dance Fever. 

Rebecca Ching: It is so good! I was just listening to it.

Wendy Collie: It is so good. Since it got released, it’s been on repeat right now -- repeat, repeat -- and I’m starting to get into the nuances of each song, and it’s just unbelievable. 


Rebecca Ching: She’s a brilliant, brilliant person and an amazing redhead too.

Wendy Collie: Yes, yes! A kindred spirit for you.

Rebecca Ching: [Laughs] What’s the best TV show or movie you’ve seen recently? 

Wendy Collie: One of my favorite TV shows recently was The Great which is just different and unique. It might be a little provocative for some people. I just thought the writing and the story between The King and The Queen was remarkable. I loved Coda. I thought Coda was brilliant. I just thought everything about it, from an artistry standpoint, disability standpoint, storyline -- loved it. So Coda and The Great are my two. 

Rebecca Ching: What is your favorite 1980s movie or TV show or piece of pop culture?

Wendy Collie: Well, I have to go to When Harry Met Sally because it’s pretty much the story of my husband and I. So it holds a very deep place in my heart. Yeah, we were best friends before we started dating and got married, so it’s kind of our little story so we love that movie.

Rebecca Ching: That’s awesome. The West Coast version of When Harry Met Sally.

Wendy Collie: Exactly. We were the West Coast version. We even met in college. That’s how true the story is for us. [Laughs]

Rebecca Ching: Oh, wow. Oh, wow. What is your mantra right now? 

Wendy Collie: Oh, that’s easy. Hands off our bodies.

Rebecca Ching: Ugh. 

Wendy Collie: Sorry. 

Rebecca Ching: No, don't be sorry.

Wendy Collie: Yes, that is my -- I will say that until I don't need to say that anymore.  

Rebecca Ching: We will not go back, yes.

Wendy Collie: We will not go back.

Rebecca Ching: What is an unpopular opinion you hold?

Wendy Collie: I will not watch or buy anything from The Kardashians or Goop. [Laughs]

Rebecca Ching: You might have some people with you on that one, [Laughs] at least in my circles. Who or what inspires you to be a better leader and human?

Wendy Collie: There are two things. I think one is I think the world needs a lot more better humans, so I want to be better so that I can help uplift others as well so we can get more better humans out there. I think the other thing is my kids. I want the world to be a better place for them.


Rebecca Ching: I cosign that too. Wendy, this was a real pleasure and a real honor for me. I am so excited for people to have a chance to listen to your heart and your wisdom and to scale it in this way, too. I’m really grateful for your time, really grateful for your heart and your leadership. I appreciate you.

Wendy Collie: Thank you. I appreciate you. It’s an absolute pleasure, and thank you for taking time to hear my story. 

[Inspirational Musical Interlude] 

Rebecca Ching: When we focus more on proving our worth than living our values, we often end up letting everyone down, especially ourselves. Sure, when we want to earn trust, we do the work to provide evidence to earn that trust, but for those who identify as female or in any marginalized group, the proving never seems to end, and for anyone who identifies other than straight, white, cis male, the need to keep proving our worthiness and our abilities again and again and again takes a toll on how we show up in our workplace and in our lives. In fact, the constant proving can feel straight up abusive and dehumanizing.

Wendy taught us the importance of identifying when our proving has taken us to the not-enough loop and how our values can be an anchor when we feel pulled away from what matters most. So I’m curious. What triggers your not-enough loop? Where in your life do you feel like you have to prove your worth right now? Who or what helps anchor you when you feel unsafe or less than? In this world, in this culture, I find it near impossible not to enter the not-enough loop, and it’s unrealistic to think we can avoid it altogether. Therefore, we need to stay clear on our values and stay connected to trusted support systems. Therefore, we need to stay clear on our values and stay connected to trusted people and support systems so we can recalibrate and orient when our worthiness and safety feel threatened, and this is the work of an Unburdened Leader.

Thank you so much for joining this episode of The Unburdened Leader. You can find this episode, show notes, sign up for the free Unburdened Leader weekly email, and find free Unburdened Leader resources, along with ways to work with me, at www.rebeccaching.com.


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