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Several years ago, I fell and broke both my ankles. Yes, at the same time.

During the year I was healing, I learned so much about who I am, how I show up in the world and what I can do to evolve as a leader. I want to share what I learned with you today.

How I broke my ankles, doesn’t matter. What does matter are the things I did to compensate for those two broken ankles; getting around, taking care of my children, running my business and so on.

What I noticed during that time, was the many things I did to compensate for not being able to walk. I became super-efficient at what were once simple tasks— grocery shopping, taking a shower, doing the laundry, etc. I quickly learned that any sloppy thinking on my part was my biggest handicap. If I didn’t strategically plan my day, I would have to climb an extra set of stairs, or plan a very complicated trip back to the grocery store for the milk I’d forgotten. You get the idea.

MY BIG LESSON: Within three weeks of my accident I was no longer myopically focused on my temporary handicap. My compensatory habits had become routine.

The changes I was forced to make in my lifestyle were, at first, quite strange, uncomfortable and (truthfully) a nuisance. Then, without notice, they seamlessly wove themselves into the daily fabric of my life.

I got used to washing my hair once a week, instead of three times. I prepared much smaller meals because I no longer required the caloric intake of an active person. My children got used to walking themselves to school.

This phenomenon of adapting to wounds repeatedly occurs in your life too!

Your emotional wounds play havoc with your thinking, which precludes your success.

Emotional wounds shape you: It is the lens through which you see the world.

These demons of deception masquerade as “I’m not good enough” or its partner “I don’t deserve”. Then there’s the cousins, “I’m not worthy” and “I’m not lovable”. If you hit the emotional jackpot, it’s likely you’ve engaged with more than one of these, but the chances of you having never experienced any of these wounds is just about zero.

  • These wounds negatively impact your choices, attitudes and ability to positively influence.
  • They immobilize you, keep you stuck, prevent you from asking for what you want, or taking action on the things you say are important to you.
  • They limit your courage, diminish your confidence and minimize the difference you came here to make.
  • They limit your opportunities for success and hold you back, which frustrates and disappoints you over and over again.
  • These wounds interfere with your ability to be a good leader, and to cultivate good leaders around you.

Like the new behaviors I cultivated to deal with my unanticipated immobility,

it’s likely that you’ve developed a cadre of coping mechanisms

designed to ease the discomfort of your wound.

These habits may now be

seamlessly woven into the daily fabric of your life.

What starts out as a coping mechanism to deal with the anxiety your wound causes you, morphs into what now causes you anxiety. The solution becomes the problem.

The reason that you don’t reach your own finish line in a job, business or relationship is not because you don’t have the talent, the skill, the ambition or the motivation.

It’s your thinking, that comes from your wounds, that’s handicapping your success!

Here are some real-life client examples of how their wounds created an un-scalable wall between their potential and their performance. Which one maps back to your life?

  • Lars thought about writing his memoir for many years: He knew that people could learn so much about resilience from reading his story about his crazy whacko childhood. After five years of talking about it he discovered that, deep down, he didn’t think he was smart enough, educated enough or a good enough writer to pull it off.
  • Katie had a great new business in mind. Her passion for it exceeded anything she’d ever known. Never having been an entrepreneur she knew some solid coaching and accountability would be invaluable for it to succeed. Katie didn’t move forward with either the project or the coach when she concluded that is was a frivolous expense. She told herself that she should be able to do this on her own when, in truth, she didn’t think she deserved to spend that kind of money getting support.
  • Margaret didn’t apply for that promotion because that mean inner voice of hers told her that she wasn’t worthy of making that kind of money. Not incidentally, that voice could sounded curiously like her dad and her first-grade teacher.
  • Jeff ended his relationship on false pretenses because Donna loved him in a way that created dissonance for him. She thought he was funny, smart and handsome and that kind of adulation conflicted with his feelings about himself that he wasn’t lovable.


You can change your thinking (and, therefore, your outcomes) in an instant, if you just know how.

Sure, digging into your wounds can be painful, but it’s not as painful as tiptoeing around your potential success for the rest of your life, is it? If you knew you could tear down That Damn Wall that stands between you and what you deserve, wouldn’t it be worth a bit of work?

If you don’t explore your wounds, then you become a conspirator in your own failures.

The alternative?

  • You can paint your wall with excuses.
  • You can build another wall so you don’t notice the troublesome one.
  • You can point to someone else’s wall and blame them for your wall.
  • Keep this in mind: That Damn Wall will keep a lot of demons out of your life, but it will also prevent great things from coming in.

If you want to achieve more, contribute more, increase your impact, start that business, get that promotion, move to that city, then you need to figure out which thoughts of yours are moving you forward and which are holding you back.

The changes you are about to make will, at first, be quite strange, uncomfortable and a nuisance. Then, without notice, they will seamlessly weave themselves into the daily fabric of your life.


  1. Identify the core wound that most resonates for you. a. You’ll know which one it is by the visceral reaction in your body as you read through them. If your body contracts and your mind says, “Oh sh*t” then you’ve identified it. Don’t over-think it.
  2. Make a list of 5 major decisions you’ve made in the past ten years. Ask yourself: a. Did I make this decision in order to move toward what I want, or away from what I don’t want?
  3. Test it. a. Let’s say your dominant core wound is “I’m not enough” (ie not smart enough, capable enough, confident enough). Ask yourself these two questions:

  • “If I knew I was smart enough, capable enough, confident enough, would I have made the same decision?
  • If not, what decision would I have made?

  1. Keep the wisdom you gleaned front of mind for all future decisions.
  2. Identify a few goals. a. Ask yourself the first question. Take action based on that answer, not your compensatory habits
  3. Congratulate yourself for hard work, well done. That takes courage. That’s who you are.


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WomenThink™ partners with leaders of public, private, and non-profit global organizations to transform their female workforce into a high-performing LeaderForce™; attracting, developing, and retaining the best female talent as a result of creating an uncommon culture of equitable empowerment.

 For more than 29 years, WomenThink’s CEO, Nancy D. Solomon, has been a force for change and the go-to women’s leadership expert in traditionally male-dominated industries such as technology, banking, and finance, worldwide.

 She is a bold, courageous, and unapologetic advocate for women and has helped thousands remove the barriers to their fulfillment and success.

 As a result of their work with us, our clients build and sustain a vibrant, robust force of female leaders, equipped to manage the helm, and the highest offices of corporations across the globe. Our clients include Microsoft, Target, Acura, Amazon, Nordstrom, Wellpoint, and Westin and, as well as many passionate individuals.

 Schedule a meeting with us to begin the conversation of how we can accelerate your current transformation initiatives, as well as identify the future of leadership for your organization.

Known as The Impact Expert, she is the main stage speaker, expert trainer, and veteran coach who helps leaders solve key issues related to leadership development, employee engagement, and advancing women. She is the author of the acclaimed book: Impact! What Every Woman Needs to Know to Go from Invisible to Invincible and is currently working on her next book.