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Yes, you’ve heard plenty of it, even here at Art of Hustle®. Go-gettin’, moving and shaking, working hard. We’re all about it. Grit, will, discipline, self-determination. A dream without ACTION is just drunken conversation at a cocktail party, we know this.

Still… (no pun intended) we can’t be all Go, no Pause. Especially those of us blessed and cursed with extreme passion for our work, for delivering outcomes, for contributing to a meaningful cause or to a great change. This, of course, is the basis of nearly every form of the all-too-common burnout. Both physical and psychological.

 

“Oscar Wilde said, ‘You destroy the thing that you love.’ It’s the other way around. What you love, destroys you.”
― George Plimpton

 

Burnout kills, sometimes literally, our most valuable people, our staff, our leaders, our advocates, our teachers, our parents, you name it. Frankly, this is ridiculous. Enter new podcast episode and special guest, Julie Lamonica. She has a story and philosophy worth listening to. Learn about her background in education and how she’s evolved the expression of her mission into her current role of Life Coach. Get a sense for this new kind of inner strength that she is helping professionals and young people realize.

Yes, this is going to be another good one! Please download to your podcast playlist and enjoy!
 

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Transcript:

I believe that collaboration is completely required for growth

Anthem: Hello, everybody, and thank you so much again for tuning in. Today, we have a special treat in the form of Julie Lamonica who will be joining us. Let me tell you a little bit about her through her bio. Julie Lamonica is a long time educator and formally trained life coach who works with tough-minded, tenderhearted people who’s professional lives and personal lives intersect and overlap constantly. Her clients care deeply about the quality, meaning and depth of their lives, and they want to live powerfully and on purpose. That’s huge. Thank you, Julie for joining us.

Julie: Thank you for having me. I’m thrilled.

Anthem: So I am really excited as well. And one of the reasons why I’m really excited is because life coaching is a sort of new field but it’s kind of blowing up at the same time and a lot of the values that exist in life coaching are also values that Art of Hustle supports. But I have to say in all of my early interviews to date, it’s always been about being on the hard driving side of life. It’s always been about the hustle component of Art of Hustle. So, I’m really excited to have you on here to give some balance to that early messaging in Art of Hustle’s existence. What can you tell us about life coaching as a field? What is it for folks who are not too familiar with it?

Julie: Yeah so you’re right, it’s a brand new field really and it’s mushrooming and there are so many different flavors of life coach. So for me what being a life coach means is that I am like a support person. I’m a trainer. I’m a teacher. I’m a guide. It’s like I’m all of these things wrapped up into one person and I basically walk along side somebody as they are hustling on their journey, whatever that is. So, as you mentioned I love partnering up with people who are hustling, who are working really hard and who push and who want to achieve and who have big work to do in the world. And those are the people I really connect with and I can support them along their journey. So the ways I do that, like the “hows” of coaching, it’s why I use lots of tools and things like that, and I’m happy to talk all about that, but the main idea is that I believe that collaboration is completely required for growth. So we can’t grow, like we hit a ceiling unless we’ve got some input and some support and collaboration from some other energy source. So that’s the big why behind what coaching is for me.

Coaching is for people who are basically healthy and well psychologically and want to level up in their lives in some way

Anthem: Okay, fantastic. So this is probably a common question I imagine, so let’s say I am somebody who would like life coaching and historically because of the prevalence of psychotherapy most people would say, “Hey maybe I need a therapist or I need some kind of counselor,” so how does life coaching differentiate from those other modalities, those professions, therapy and counseling?

Julie: Yep, great question. So there are some really clear distinctions between therapy and coaching and there is like a little bit of overlap so I’ll talk about the distinctions first. So coaching is for people who are basically healthy and well psychologically and want to level up in their lives in some way. So whether it’s with their business or it’s with their personal lives or with their family, anything, they want to live more powerfully in some way. And therapy is really well suited to people who are still kind of healing from wounds. You know there are all kinds of emotional, psychological wounds that people experience and there’s thankfully a lot less stigma about that now culturally these days, in general. But therapy is fantastic for anybody who needs that kind of true healing support from a professional who’s trained to diagnose a problem, like a disease or some kind of a sickness. I went to therapy for a while, like six or seven years in my 20s and it helped me hugely. I think of therapy as a really excellent modality for somebody who is unwell in some way and so in my mind in this analogy that’s somewhere in like the negative range there so from the zero to the negative ten, so I probably was a negative six for example when I went to therapy. I needed help and I got it. And I felt like it kind of moved my self into the zero to positive range on that number line as a result of that therapy and the work that I did. Coaching works really well for people who would basically consider themselves in that zero to positive ten range already, so they’re well and whole. Most of their wounds have healed and they’re ready to implement or to have their life look different in some way now that they’ve done that internal work of therapy.

Creating a baseline of calm

Anthem: Fantastic, thank you. And so I love this concept of leveling up. What are they leveling up from or leveling up to, in your experience?

Julie: Yeah so this is a little bit hard to describe sometimes but what I find, like I talk metaphorically when I do it, so be forewarned. So the leveling up to, you know the outcomes usually that people achieve, are like a sense of being really forceful, like their force and vitality and power behind them and there’s a sense of abiding peace and calm at the same time. So usually with the people I work with who are hustling and working really hard, it’s like they retain their edge and their power so they can still push. They can still get stuff done and do that big work in the world. But they also have this sense of inner clarity that creates peace in general so that the baseline is not a baseline of anxiety where people are frantic and anxious all the time and kind of freaking out, it’s a baseline of calm. And there’s a lot of power in that. So some people explain it to me as feeling like well things seems brighter now in my life or they’re more colorful, they have more time, they have more energy, it’s like that. So whether it’s specific areas of life, maybe it’s just in work that they want coaching or maybe it’s just their relationship, it’s like these outcomes actually tend to overlap and feed into every area of people’s lives.

Anthem: Fantastic. To get more specific about the type of services you provide, when any of us, if any of us were to look up life coaching right now you would find that some people might help an individual find their purpose. Some people might be more business related, like I’ve seen a lot of, strangely enough, life coaches for business. And everything in between about being more creative or being more in tuned with yourself. And I guess of the many different kinds of life coaching that is available, how do you differentiate yourself from other folks who share that title in the field? Who do you serve exactly? What do you do?

Julie: So this question used to keep me up at night and so I have two answers for this. So the first answer is that I serve really high achieving, effective, successful people who have it together but feel like they’ve got that baseline of anxiety. So the reason I do that is because that’s who I used to be so I understand really hard driving, very ambitious people, who have big plans and who get a lot done. So that’s my first answer. My second answer is that yes there are a ton of life coaches out there and I guess what distinguishes me is me. So to be perfectly honest I feel like people actually find the people that they need. This is kind of as spiritual as I get. But I really feel like, I trust actually that the helpers that we need or the people that we find, or like as the Buddha says, “When the student is ready, the teacher appears.” So it’s really, for me it’s like my website it out there, I communicate with the people about what I do and I think when people choose to hire me, it’s because they feel drawn to me in some way. But the way that I communicate that in general is — my first answer is that it’s about people who are really ambitious but also kind of anxious at the same time.

Tapping into the power of being more relaxed

Anthem: That’s fantastic. I mean that you would relate to it also because you are that person.

Julie: Yeah, that was me.

Anthem: That makes a lot of sense. And you say that was you. Do you mean that past tense, like things are different for you now?

Julie: Yeah.

Anthem: What are those differences and how do you find that those differences help you become a better coach?

Julie: Totally, so yeah I used to be extraordinarily ambitious, hard driving, high achieving, like all the adjectives that I’ve used and I still have those things but I don’t push myself in the same way because I definitely drove myself into a state of not being healthy. And so now what I have found is the thing that I described earlier is that I have been able to keep my edge and I actually feel that I have much sharper focus because I have tapped into the power of being relaxed. So that is something that I work with all of my clients on, every single client. I teach people to access relaxation because that is where we actually get our best thinking done. We don’t think well when we’re on the run or in fight, flight, or freeze. We just are not sharp or effective in that state. And culturally, in general, we don’t really learn how to do the slowing down and taking a break and all the stuff that we kind of are starting to talk about and starting to become popular like self care is sexy and all that stuff. And yes I’m with that but it’s actually relaxation is the thing that gives us more power. I feel like a much more powerful human being these days. I can get a lot more done because I am relaxed. And I can choose to go into hyper drive if I need to but my baseline is one of peace.

Anthem: I’m with it. So let’s talk about these high achieving folks. So there is somebody who’s maybe, I’m just going to pretend, let’s say on the edge of burnout. They work really hard. They probably, I’m imagining are also very metrics driven. So probably I imagine folks would be able to self identify, they say I need help because this thing is not feeling good anymore. But I imagine someone would also say how do I know its working? How do I know life coaching is working? How do I know if it’s right for me? What are your answers for when folks say stuff like that?

Julie: I honestly don’t encounter that question a lot. Usually when people get on the phone with me for the free consultation that I do it’s like they’ve kind of decided, like you said, like they know they need help in some way and we are just deciding in that phone call together whether or not we want to work together or not, like whether or not we resonate. But when I do get that question I share a little bit about my background in education, like I used to deal a lot with state-mandated test for example. And so I can say with a lot of clarity that what we measure is what we value. So when we are measuring, you know the metrics that we are using to define success are actually more important I think than the actual outcomes, the results themselves. So I like to look with people at what those metrics actually are. And for me I don’t have an assessment and I can tell you more about this but as a former classroom teacher I used to live and die by assessments. They were the most important things. I was designing assessments constantly, multiple choice, free response, essay, projects. There are a million ways to assess somebody’s knowledge and progress and growth. I really backed strongly away from that in my life coaching work and I have clients who just say to me oh I feel so different and things like that. So I can capture what they’re saying but it’s a little bit — I haven’t actually cracked that puzzle of how to communicate those outcomes to people who want to know, okay, well how would I know if life coaching were working? …that kind of thing. So I’m sorry that’s not a super satisfying answer but —

I don’t tell people, Oh, think positive

Anthem: No, it’s totally satisfying. You’ve been pretty clear that the metrics are different and so you can’t measure them the same. So I think that’s important for folks to know. What would you say if someone said I’m nervous about it because I don’t totally — I get it theoretically but are we going to actually be doing? So what can you tell people about what the work actually looks like if they were to sign up with you?

Julie: Sure, so first if somebody told me that they were really nervous about it, I would take them through an exercise where they imagine that they’re standing on the top of a diving board looking down into a pool. And I would ask them to close their eyes and see, like what do you see when you look down at that pool? Is it clean, bright, light, sparkling water and there’s plenty of space for you to jump in, and there’s sunshine out, and it’s warm and it’s awesome? Or is it like a nasty pit full of crocodiles? And if it’s the latter, then please don’t jump. So, what I would do is spend some time with that person to actually look at that fear and this is the happy fear of like “Oh, I know this would be good for me, I’m just kind of afraid because it’s new.” Or “I’m afraid because this is not right for me at all and I need to run in the other direction.” So, I do that first. But to answer the question, the how of coaching, what it looks like is I meet with people once a week or every two weeks or three months or six months or a year and we talk. So, what it would look like from the outside is okay this is two people having a conversation but it’s kind of like when you walk past a yoga studio and you see twelve really sweaty people standing there in a pose, it doesn’t look like much but there’s a lot of internal work going on. So, what it looks like is we’re having a conversation, but what’s happening in those conversations is I am of course deeply listening to what’s going on, but I’m basically taking my clients through an inquiry. So we’re looking at thoughts and beliefs that don’t serve them and that are causing suffering in some way. And we dissolve them together. So that’s a lot of what I do.

I don’t tell people oh think positive because that just doesn’t work. I don’t tell people to let go of that thought because that doesn’t work either. The thoughts let go of us when they’re good and ready and when they’ve been subjected to inquiry. So we do a lot of shining a light or to continue with the yoga metaphor, it’s like we’re stretching out parts of the mind that need air and light and oxygen. So that’s a lot of what it looks like and then there are really fun tools that we do too. But basically I am teaching tools, asking questions, listening really deeply, and holding vision for where that client wants to be which I find out in our initial session and I’m kind of energetically moving them toward that.

Teacher is actually a better descriptor for me than coach

Anthem: Fantastic. Tell us more about your background in education.

Julie: Okay, so it’s like I backed into being in education. I really did. My dad was a teacher. My grandfather was a teacher and a school principal. And I was like there’s no way I’m going to be a teacher even though that’s what everyone told me as I was growing up. So I graduated from UC Davis and literally the next day I became a teacher. So I started when I was 22. I was teaching middle school and of course, giant surprise, I fell head over heals in love with the students that I had and with that work. I loved being with students in that way. And the majority of the students I’ve served over the years have been students who are first in their families to go to college, usually from under privileged communities, that kind of thing. That’s really my jam. And yeah, so I spent six years being a classroom teacher and then I transitioned into being a coach for teachers. So I was a literacy coach, a couple years it was called that. Other years it was called an instructional coach. I was an assistant principal. So basically, I was an administrator for another seven years. And yeah, I found my way into life coaching as I was doing that administrative work. I always felt that as a teacher and as an administrator, I was on target with the social justice work that I feel like I’m really called to do, but there was something really missing. And now I know of course like it was this life-coaching piece. But yeah, that’s the background.

Anthem: That’s fantastic. So it was one type of mentorship into now this current form of mentorship.

Julie: Exactly, yeah.

Anthem: So we may have already covered it but I want to ask just to be clear, you talk about a missing piece in that social justice work you were doing and so how would you articulate that missing piece now that you’ve gone through this work and that you’re in this new role? In hindsight what was that missing piece? Is it easy to describe in a sentence or two?

Julie: That’s such a great question, Anthem. I’m glad you asked. And I have tried to articulate it and sometimes I fall down but I’m going to try it. So here it is, I love being with people and I consider myself like a grower of people. That’s what I do. I make space for beautiful things to grow and doing that in the education system was the way that I thought that had to happen. What I found as a classroom teacher is that I had students who felt like they were misfits or like they didn’t have friends or they were upset or whatever. They would just want to come into my room and hang out with me. And I always felt like, oh my gosh they’re so cute, but I want to eat my lunch and this is slightly annoying. But they’re so awesome at the same time, I just can’t get enough of talking with them.

It’s like that’s what I love so you totally put your finger on it. It’s the mentorship. And so what I found is those lunchtime conversations were the growth-full ones where I could really see young people take a new idea and run with it. So like the young woman who thought there was something really wrong with her because she had a crush on her girlfriend for example, and it’s like actually no, there’s nothing wrong with you. That was long, many conversations, over months but that is the kind of stuff that I like to see. So when people really kind of take off and feel like they’re good with who they are internally, then people can learn anything. So like I was teaching English and reading intervention which is great, but I felt like really what I was doing and what I get to do now is to be with people in a deeper, more sustained way. I love one on one. You can really get in there and get a lot done in a one on one setting which is really fun. And of course I still enjoy teaching group workshops and programs too, but there is something really special about that one on one collaboration and the kind of growth that can emerge from that. So that was the missing piece, kind of giving myself the giant permission slip to just shower people with love, like that’s honestly a lot of my work. There are laws about, no, you can’t touch students, and yes, I get that but I’m a hugger. That’s one way that I create safe space for people. There are just a lot of things now that I get to do that I have this giant permission slip to do as a life coach that didn’t totally fit within the confines of the education system. As much as I believe in public education it just —

Anthem: It sounds like a powerful evolution because ultimately what I’m hearing is that your mission got more focused and that the expression of that mission is the only thing that’s really changed. You’re still in the same work essentially.

Julie: Yes. And even, it’s become clear to me more recently that a teacher is actually a better descriptor for me than coach. You know I’m not out there barking at people and slapping them on the behinds. That’s a little bit of what I do, maybe that’s just a stereotype of what I have in my mind as a coach, but really I’m more of a teacher. So I’m holding people’s growth. I’m holding that vision for where they want to go. I’m teaching them skills that they need to get there and they’re doing it. And it’s not how to write an essay. It’s how to create a powerful life that you totally love.

What is it about mission-driven work that has people so much abuse themselves?

Anthem: How about this for a question, if your current self had a chance to visit with your former self, how would you have coached your old self?

Julie: Oh, my gosh, I would have told myself to relax. I think about this all the time. I definitely would have told my former self to slow down, to trust the timing of my own life. And to start to value my body in a different way, like to physically relax my body, which was pretty much constantly in a state of fight, flight, or freeze.

Anthem: Wow, that’s big. And that leads me into my next thought which is, what is it about mission-driven work that has people so much abuse themselves psychologically and physically? And what can folks who are in mission-driven work do more, if you have any practical tips, to basically help make a shift in their lives and in their mindsets about that work?

Julie: Yeah, so important and I think — I can speak for myself and say that I have been very mission-driven and there’s just so much urgency usually around someone’s unique sense of mission. I know that I’ve had a lot urgency around that, like, “Oh these students, ah, I’ve got to get them into college.” You know, like, there’s not a second to waste here. “I’ve got so much to do and there’s so little time and oh, I just got to do this. So yeah I’m just going to get four and a half hours of sleep tonight but whatever, these kids need their essays back.” So whatever the person’s mission is I think that we can get really wrapped up in that sense of urgency that might be real, might be contrived, whatever, but I think that is a piece of it is kind of looking at the thoughts around that. So what is it that’s driving me? And so I used to think like oh it’s just all about the kids and then I realized there was like a not so awesome piece of my mind that was like wanting approval from my students. I wanted approval from my administrators. When I moved into administrative role, I wanted approval from my colleagues, like I’m going to get this work done and I’m going to always be on my email and I’m going to get this project done early because then people will value me more.

So there are some other things in there that I’m less than proud of. But yeah unpacking that and really looking at it. So what is the pay off? Because there’s always a pay off, so like being really honest and coming clean to myself about what the pay off is for why I am pushing myself so hard. Is it money? Not in my case. It was not money. The pay off was really more about achievement and that I feel really happy and good about myself when I’ve achieved something. You know some people are really driven by achievement, other people are more driven by money, other people more like a sense of approval, whatever, but there’s usually something in there, in the mind that is driving us in a way that can get a little out of bounds.

Showing young human beings one model of how to be an adult in the world

Anthem: Yeah and it’s kind of contradictory I have found even in my own work in non-profit work, that often times we are trying to save communities or uplift them but as employees we never considered ourselves to be members of the community we’re trying to save or uplift.

Julie: Yeah, absolutely, I know what you mean. It’s like I’ve told so many teachers when I’ve been mentoring and supervising them that classroom teaching a lot is about just showing young human beings one model of how to be an adult in the world. So a lot of what young people are learning is how to be harried and frantic and anxious and hopped up on espresso. And it’s like yeah, that’s certainly one way, but there actually is a better way I think that I’m learning now, there’s a lot of value in modeling for the people that we work with, what it is that we want. So now I choose to live it to be able to give it. So I’ve got to live that relaxation and peace of mind and not working 60 hours a week. And that pushes me to my own growth edges, but I know that’s the work for me.

Anthem: Absolutely. I like to tell people that there’s a difference, even though I say hard work a lot, but there is a difference between hard work and discipline. And I feel like to be a hard worker is good in that you’re being responsible for your outcomes but to be disciplined means also having the discipline to slow down. Some hard workers don’t have the discipline, even though on the outside you would say wow this is a very disciplined individual, when really they’re only disciplined to do one thing. They’re not disciplined to take care of themselves or to pace themselves or to breathe easily and ultimately I think it’s all about having a more holistic relationship with what discipline is in all areas.

Julie: Yes, I’m so with you on that and I think one question that I ask myself a lot and clients too is, is this inspired action right now? Is this action that you want to take because you want to, because you love it? Because the action that you take will then be infused with that energy and joy and desire to connect with people and communities and that feels delicious. It’s liberating. And if I am instead working because I’m working like a donkey because I have to or I should, well, then the outcomes of my work are going to reflect that energy. And I am in a way, like this is a little dramatic but I actually do believe that if I am pushing myself in that way, like the way that I used to when I was a teacher, depriving myself of nourishment and rest and connection and love, it’s like I’m actually doing violence to myself.

Anthem: Absolutely.

Julie: So, that’s not okay anymore. That’s an absolute no for me now and I just needed to go through that other stuff so I could learn it I think and that’s why I can teach it to other people. We teach what we need to learn. Yeah, that’s the metric I use now. Like does that feel delicious, and if it does then yeah, go do that thing. And if it feels like a giant burden, then don’t. Stop. Step away from the computer, back away from the phone, whatever it is.

Anthem: Yeah, to have clean intentions. I love that, the way you phrase that, doing violence to one’s self because I think it’s pretty clear. It’s pretty direct. I think that’s spot on. And if we’re going to help curb violence in our communities, we have to stop with the violence that we impose on ourselves, I think that’s awesome the way you phrased it.

Julie: Well, thanks.

Gathering yourself up on insides

Anthem: What can you tell us about this meditation program that you participated in recently for youth? This is kind of interesting because you’re taking your current role and you’re visiting your old, former field, and you were able to come in and provide some of your current learnings to that other arena. So what was that about, that youth program?

Julie: Yeah, oh my gosh it was so fun and yes you’re absolutely right it was just this really interesting intersection of the different pieces of my life now. So yeah I was hired to go once a week to the school where I used to be the assistant principal and to sit with seven high school students who were learning formal mindfulness, mediation practice. So along with another administrator and another teacher at the school, we were all taking this online course through this wonderful organization called Mindful Schools. They’re I think based in Emeryville and they’re just absolutely terrific, doing amazing work in the Bay Area. And they have this online program as well as a curriculum that teachers can use to actually teach mindfulness to their students in the context of the classroom itself.

So I got to spend about seven weeks being with these students who were learning mindfulness mediation for the first time. And it was such a delight for me. It was absolutely thrilling to get to sit with them and teach them stuff that really to them felt really weird, like really uncomfortable to go and sit there. And so especially since you were asking me about metrics, the things I got to see were kids who were giggling and squirming in their seats and really shy and not sharing their experience at the beginning of our little program. And then by the end, I was sitting with seven kids who were able to be silent and going internal for ten minutes at a time.

Anthem: That’s a lot.

Julie: It is a lot. That’s right.

Anthem: For a kid especially.

Julie: Even 15 seconds, yes. And so yeah, incrementally, over time, we built that up. And that it self was not — I mean that itself is an outcome to be celebrated but I was more thrilled about the things that they said at the end of it. So, I had one student say to me that she thought this process was about gathering herself up on insides. And I just thought that is some really cool language for what medication actually is. And then another student who happened to be pregnant at the time said that this was really valuable for her because she was learning what to do when she feels angry because she doesn’t want to be an angry mom. And I just got teary and was like my work here on earth is done. I’m good.

Anthem: I’m about to get teary. Oh my god, that’s big.

Julie: Yeah, really beautiful things that they were saying. So I could not have anticipated but those were the outcomes that they basically created for themselves in that container that I was holding. So yeah it was amazing.

Anthem: Yeah because no one can meditate for you.

Julie: Exactly. No one can build those muscles for you. No one can help you sit with yourself and be cool and compassionate towards yourself. That is personal work for sure.

Anthem: That’s amazing. And I love that it was able to go full circle for you, I mean, career-wise. That’s so neat.

Julie: Yeah, it was. It felt really special. It’s like is this really happening to me? Pinch, pinch, but yeah it was.

Anthem: My gosh, okay, well, thank you so much for sharing all of this valuable information. Where can folks find out more about your practice, your coaching, any workshops you have coming up? I mean, this is so inspiring I’m sure folks would be interested in learning more so where can folks go ahead and do that?

Julie: Oh, thank you, Anthem. So I have my website, it’s my name, it’s really simple, so it’s julielamonica.com and everything lives there. So I’m actually in the process of adding a bunch of content to it now and changing things up so people are welcome to visit and if it’s under construction, it’s under construction, but things will be available and running. There just might be some weird spaces. But I have new pictures that I’m about to add, a couple of these high school students actually doing their meditation thing and at the training we went to for the curriculum. So, I’m excited. But yeah everything lives there on my website.

Anthem: Well fantastic, everybody head on over to julielamonica.com to find out more.

Julie: Thank you, Anthem.

Anthem: I appreciate it a lot, thank you for being on.

Julie: You’re welcome.


 

Hopefully, this message of centeredness resonates with you. Thank you for listening, for always aiming to bring your best to your clients and community, for prioritizing both self-determination and self-care. Have you enjoyed this dialogue?

Please pass this along to ANYONE who would benefit from this episode, who could use the permission to slow down, who would love to still be doing powerful work (even more powerful work) from working from the inside-out. You may use any of the Share buttons below. And also, of course, your comments are always welcome!