Ever since Lee Chaix McDonough was a little child, she always wanted to write a book. When she was four years old, she wrote her first one she called The Book of Life about everything she had learned in her four years of life. Fast forward 3.5 decades, she finally came up with her first published one called, ACT on your Business: Braving the Storms of Entrepreneurship and Creating Success Through Meaning, Mindset, and Mindfulness. Today, she sits down with Alicia Dunams to talk about the process of writing the book as well as to go through some of the ways life and business coaches can act on their business, and the three M’s that can inform our decision making and any action we take in our life.
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Success Through Meaning, Mindset, Mindfulness With Lee Chaix McDonough
We are on episode 24 with Lee Chaix McDonough.
I’m excited to have you here, Lee.
I am thrilled to be here. Thank you so much.
Lee wrote a book called ACT On Your Business: Braving The Storms Of Entrepreneurship And Creating Success Through Meaning, Mindset, And Mindfulness. Particularly, what I love about you is you are the Founder of Coach With Clarity, a training and education company for life and business coaches. Lee, it’s great to have you. The first question I always begin with is, why did you write a book?
On the surface, it was something that I wanted to do for my business and showcase my background as a psychotherapist, trained in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. That’s the ACT piece and how I’ve pulled ACT into my work as a coach and as a coach trainer. It goes deeper than that. I had wanted to write a book my entire life. In fact, there’s this funny family story of when I was four years old, I decided I was going to write a book and I called it The Book Of Life. Everything I had learned in my four years on the planet. I made my own book cover out of construction paper and filled it with loose-leaf paper. Technically, that’s my first book but ever since then, I had the sense that I wanted to be an author. I wanted to write a book. It took me 3.5 decades but eventually, I did and ACT On Your Business is the result.
Tell us again what the ACT stands for.
That stands for Acceptance and Commitment Therapy or in some circles, Acceptance and Commitment Training. That is a particular modality I studied when I was practicing as a licensed clinical social worker. It looks at the intersection between mindfulness work and cognitive behavioral therapy. It’s a terrific approach for people who are dealing with depression, anxiety, trauma, and the like but many of the principles are applicable to everyone on a day-to-day basis. As I was building my coaching business and working with my clients, I began to see even more how the principles of ACT could apply in the small business and entrepreneurial space. It felt like this happy marriage between this modality that resonated with me personally and professionally and this work that I was doing. That was the genesis of the book.
Speaking into mindfulness, that is a tool that transcends industries, people, whatever you’re working on in your life. I do a lot of leadership training for Corporate 500 and one thing that we constantly teach is mindfulness tools. I do a lot of work in diversity, equity, inclusion, and unconscious bias. For me, emotional intelligence and mindfulness are one of the tools in your toolkit to support you on the journey of inclusion, connecting with others, compassion, and empathy. All these soft skills that people are like, “I’m focusing on IQ. I’m going to focus on getting stuff done.” If you don’t have the mindfulness down, life is going to be a little rough.
I couldn’t agree with you more. It’s true. I’m not sure this is as much the case now as it was years ago, but people would hear mindfulness and they would think meditation, yoga, some deep spiritual experience when all we’re talking about with mindfulness is understanding how to show up fully present and aware without judgment at the moment and meeting the moment where it is. For some people, that may include meditation but it doesn’t have to. There are many different ways that we can embrace mindfulness in our everyday life.
Prioritize the attributes and qualities that anchor you to your purpose. Click To Tweet
“Meeting the moment with no judgment,” that is a beautiful skillset to have. I call it, let’s be witnessing energy. I also call it a #JustNotice, just notice what’s good. You almost like fly on top of the situation. You become aware of the players, what’s going on, and how you’re responding. It’s October 1st, 2020, and I’m starting on a new leave I’m diving in. I call it the conscious climb. We choose moment-by-moment. It’s a day-to-day mindfulness. I’m excited because I work with aspiring authors. I have a program called Bestseller in a Weekend. I have a program called Impact Influence Income. I support aspiring authors specifically coaches, speakers, business owners who want to write a book as a way to create impact, influence, and income in the world. I have a lot of coaches that I work with. I want to dig in to ACT On Your Business. You’re speaking to life coaches and business coaches. Where do we begin? What are some ways that they can act on their business?
We want to begin with what I call the three M’s which are Meaning, Mindset, and Mindfulness. That’s how I’ve structured the book. When we’re talking about meaning, we are talking about your values. What matters most to you? How do you want to live your life? What do you want to be known for? Prioritizing those attributes, those qualities that anchor you to your purpose. Once we know what those are, then that can inform our decision making and any actions we take in our life. Step one is to harness that meaning piece and get clear on the values. We then transitioned into that second M which is Mindset. The way I define mindset is our internal relationship to our thoughts, feelings, sensations, beliefs, all of the stuff that goes on within us that an outside person may not realize we’re experiencing because it’s all within. How we relate to that very much informs our mindset.
That influences how we view the world, how we view relationships, and how we view ourselves. We can cultivate a mindset that can support our work, relationships, and our life, and then sometimes we get those sneaky little messages in there that want to throw us off track that wants to derail us. The mindset work explores how we can reshape those messages and then we call back to the values. If I’m living a life that’s aligned and anchored in my values then what messages am I telling myself as well? Those two go hand-in-hand. As we mentioned before, the third M, Mindfulness is all about showing up in the moment fully without judgment. It’s a marriage between acting in alignment with our values, showing up with a mindset that’s going to serve us in the world, anchoring ourselves in the present moment, and enjoying everything that life has to offer us.
I mentioned this, to get back into joy. One of my favorite spiritual leaders is Rob Bell. He has a one-hour episode called An Introduction To Joy. When you speak about your mindfulness, your three prongs which is a fantastic framework is joy wraps its arms around everything at the moment. That’s important. With your framework in terms of meaning, values, mindset, getting that right, and mindfulness being a tool to support us in our mindset, that’s a fabulous toolkit for coaches to build their business.
Thank you. It’s such a smart and resonant approach. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy has been around for a few decades. The grandfather is Steven Hayes and the work that he and his colleagues have done in psychotherapy with ACT is inspiring. Again, it’s easy to take those principles and apply them in a non-therapeutic setting. It lends itself beautifully for coaching, self-coaching, personal development work. What I appreciate most about it is its compassionate stance and it breeds into that idea of meeting ourselves and others without judgment. That’s not always easy to do. As human beings, we’re hardwired to judge because that’s what keeps us safe, evolving, and growing. The fact that we have judgments is not in and of itself a bad thing. When we have default judgments, when we don’t realize that we’re making those judgments and they start informing our beliefs and our behaviors, that’s where it can get a little out of control. Sometimes, the act of non-judgment is recognizing the judgments that we are having and choosing not to grasp onto them tightly.
That’s a great distinction because we’re going to have the judgments so it’s about managing them like managing the story around it or managing how are we going to respond and where are we going to go from here? It’s looking, “I had a judgment.” It’s being curious around it versus acting on it. That’s where you need the beat, the pause, the breathwork, the mindfulness. Don’t shame yourself for having the judgment, be aware of it, and almost playful with it.
That is the moment where you take the breath, you take the beat, and you find the joy. That’s where you regain your power and all of a sudden, that judgment isn’t controlling you anymore. You get to decide the extent to which it influences your actions, your decisions, and how you want to live your life.
What are some other tips and tools do you have for life coaches and business coaches we would love to hear?
It is important to remember that when you are building your coaching business or any business, we want to make sure that it is anchored in your values. It’s completely appropriate for you to have defined business values as well. I’ve got a set of values for my business but I’m also a part of my business. I’m the face of my business so it needs to also be congruent with what matters most to me, Lee, as the human being. If we can start by getting clear on why are you doing this work? Why is it important to you to be a coach? Why is it important to you to write a book? What about this is calling you and making this your life’s purpose? All of a sudden, we can follow that thread and ensure that we’re weaving it into every single aspect of our business.
When we’re hiring people, are we showing up in that situation aligned with our values? When we are creating programs and offers, how are our values reflected in that? Not only then are we living in alignment and in integrity with ourselves but we’re also going to attract the people who have shared values too. That is a part of finding your ideal client and so forth. When you’re on the same page and you have those core values in common then it’s going to make it so much easier for the magic to happen in coaching and in your business.
When do you suggest people do their values? Is it something that you do every year like New Year’s Eve, reassess your values? Is it something that’s one and done? In your twenties, you figured out your values and they take you all the way until the death bed. I do it once a year.
That’s smart and that’s a thoughtful question. I would say it’s not a one and done activity. While some of my personal values have remained constant throughout my life, service was important to me in my 20s and now, in my 40s. I don’t anticipate that changing. However, the way it shows up has changed significantly as I’ve aged. For example, in my twenties, I viewed services showing up for others. How can I help you? How can I support you? In my 30s, becoming a mom and so forth, it was very much how can I support my family and my children?
In my 40s, it’s like, how about a little self-service here? How can I show up and still support the people I love and care about in my life but also ensure that my needs are getting met? That value of service has shifted over time. That’s why, to your point, having a regular time to check in with your values and not just does this value of service still resonate with me but how is it showing up in my life? How is this value being lived out? What’s working and what’s not working? That gives us a chance to refine our values and decide, is this something that I want to continue holding onto or do I need to allow it to evolve and grow?
Is that an exercise that you take your clients through or readers of the book?
It is. In fact, in the book, there are several exercises for each of the three M’s but there are some values identification and clarification exercises in there as well.
Let’s talk about the book writing process. When you wanted to write a book, tell us how you got to the published finish line with your book.
I had to live out the practices and principles I was writing about in the writing process. This was very much a rubber meets road experience for me. It took me a while to get started. I was a little intimidated by the idea of writing a book. I’ll never forget, one night, I was at the YMCA watching my eight-year-old play basketball. It was a basketball practice. I had a journal, I had a pen, and I decided I was going to write a letter to my reader. I hadn’t even written the book yet, but I knew that there was a reader out there who would be well served by the book so I was going to write them a letter.
I wrote a letter to the reader and it wound up becoming the opening to my book. For me to start with a specific reader in mind and think, “I’m writing for you. Hopefully, this serves more people but you. This book is for you.” I was able to keep that reader in mind throughout the whole process. When I faced difficult writing moments, which I did. There was about a month where I didn’t write a single word because I felt stuck. One of the things that brought me back was, “My reader needs this. They need to hear this. I can’t let them down.” Again, that hearkens back to my value of service but writing that book was very much an act of service for the people I know it could benefit.
Mindfulness is all about showing up at the moment fully without judgment. Click To Tweet
I always share when I teach my courses because people will get in it. They’ll say, “I can’t do this and I’m not good enough.” People have all of those limiting beliefs come up. I would say, “It is not about you.” They shake them up a bit. When you were in doubt in your life about yourself, what you’re doing, imposter syndrome, whatever, because a lot of aspiring authors have imposter syndrome. “Who am I to be doing this? Who am I to write a book? There are many books out there, why should I write another one?” What I always share with them is when in doubt, focus out. When we’re focusing on our self like, “I can’t do this. I’m too young. I’m too old.” All of these things, just focus out. What if one person is impacted because you wrote this book?
That’s how I coach even my books that I’ve written, it’s called I Get To: How Using The Right Words Can Radically Transform Your Life, Relationships, And Business. I have been doing conscious communication training for nonprofits to for-profit companies. Even 1 or 2 of my scripts in the book will be a complete mindset shift for someone on the other side like, “I have to until I get to.” Even my script on sexual harassment or harassment, there’s a line of decency and you crossed it. I asked you to stop now. Sometimes you can’t find the words at the moment and to be able to have access to it can support someone in a real-time intervention. They can put that in their toolkit and they have something to pull out in a situation of difficult conversations or circumstances.
That’s such a gift that you offer your reader through that. That’s the other thing to remember too. We’ve got the imposter syndrome which is, who am I to do this? That’s something I’ve faced but there’s also this fact that we tend to minimize our strengths. We think that because something comes naturally to us, it’s not important, it doesn’t count, or it comes easily to everyone else. That’s not the case. When we can identify that that thing that comes so easily to us is our superpower, when we can anchor that in our story, in our book and allow that to serve others, that’s where the magic happens. Imagine if you hadn’t written that book and those scripts weren’t available to people who needed them, you’d be doing a disservice to the world by withholding that. That’s why we ought to tell our stories. We’ve got to get our words out there.
I always say, “What if Oprah did not do Oprah?” We would be all missing it out right now. There’d be a hole in the universe and we wouldn’t quite know what we were missing. We get to share our gifts with the world. Are there any other tips you want to leave our audience about your book? I’d love for you to share.
I would say when it comes to mindset work, there is a balance between understanding the thoughts, feelings, and beliefs that we hold about an experience, feeling real, and wanting to honor that, not wanting to negate our experience, and also deciding, how do I want to shift this in light of everything that’s happening out there in the world? It’s so easy to gaslight people, to minimize their experiences, and to use mindset as a way of bypassing it. If and when I do a second edition of the book, I want to make sure I address it even more. That mindset should not be used as a tool to convince people that how they’re thinking or feeling is wrong and they need to change. It’s more about, “You’re having these thoughts and feelings, they’re understandable, they’re valid, they make sense. How do you want to relate to them? What do you want to do now?” It’s not about bypassing, it’s about acknowledging and then empowering so that you can decide what belief do you want to hold and how will that serve you moving forward.
That’s an important distinction because we can mindset ourselves out of everything. We can reframe anything. We could be being sexually harassed and we can be like, “I get to have this challenge at work so I grow to the next level.” It’s a bit of both ends. It’s taking a powerful stand for some injustice that’s happening to you or whatever’s happening in the world. It’s also a tool to be able to manage that particular moment. It’s not leaving things as they are and mind setting your way out of it. It’s having the power to address that and then also having that skillset to be able to heal, to assess, and to be able to reframe. I work with a lot of women who write books as a way to heal from sexual trauma, rape, molestation whatever harm that has been done.
Part of it is recognizing the harm that has been done. Part of the processing is I asked three questions, and this is something I got from one of my spiritual mentors is, what was the violation? What harm was done? Is it happening now? That’s the whole thing about the concept of being present in the moment and you definitely would have the skillset to work with people through these questions. The last one, what good came from it? It takes time to get from here to here. That’s not something that’s going to happen overnight. It’s going to take time. I was doing training and someone was talking about something that was done to them in their life and they said, “They felt like they were reliving it.” I told them to have self-care and take care of themselves. When we tell a story from the past that happened to us and it feels like it just happened, what are some of the mindset and mindfulness tools to be able to work through that?
I worked for the Department of Veterans Affairs for a while so I did a lot of PTSD work with combat veterans and also veterans who had experienced sexual assault. What I found was that when someone felt like it was happening now or that their identity was so tied up with the traumatic event, there was a level of fusion that occurred. Their identity, their sense of self had fused to this event. It wasn’t anything that they wanted. It wasn’t even conscious but there was this deep connection there. All of a sudden that event defined them in a significant way. Part of the trauma work is learning how to diffuse that event from the self so that we’re not minimizing the event and we’re not erasing it but we’re understanding its context and how it affected and shaped us.
After the healing and teasing out all of that, we can talk about how we want it to inform our lives going forward. That’s that deep meaning-making that is powerful. As you said, it cannot be rushed. This is not something that we can say, “This happened to me but I’m a better person for it. It’s all good.” There’s some forgiveness work. There’s some justifiable anger there to be addressed. When we can separate the event from the identity, that’s where we regained the power of choice and where we can find that direction moving forward. That’s my thoughts about that. That’s where we do the mindset work and we get to choose, how do I want to view this event? How do I want it to inform my actions moving forward? How do I want to relate to this traumatic event?
It’s multilayered and there’s a lot there. Even with the words we use for years, I called myself a single mom. At a certain point, I’m realizing like, “I’m going to make sure I’m single because I keep on saying that.” That’s an interesting thing. I even had to go back. It’s the words that we use. Are you creating a self-fulfilling prophecy by speaking certain words all the time? Is that what you are creating? It’s multilayered and complex like humanity. Lee, I want you to share how people can find out more about you, your book, and where they can follow you online.
You can find me almost anywhere. If you go to Instagram or Facebook, search Coach With Clarity. You can also find me CoachWithClarity.com. If you go to CoachWithClarity.com/getthebook, it will take you right to the Amazon page where you can find it in either Kindle or paperback.
It has been wonderful to connect with you so much.
Thank you so much for having me. This has been a lot of fun.
Thank you, everyone, for joining us in this episode.
- ACT On Your Business: Braving The Storms Of Entrepreneurship And Creating Success Through Meaning, Mindset, And Mindfulness
- Bestseller in a Weekend
- Impact Influence Income
- An Introduction To Joy
- I Get To: How Using The Right Words Can Radically Transform Your Life, Relationships, And Business
- Instagram – Coach with Clarity
- Facebook – Lee Chaix McDonough – Coach with Clarity
About Lee Chaix Mcdonough
Hello there! I’m Lee, and I’m here to help you connect with a deeper, more aligned form coaching — and to build a successful coaching business while you do it.
I’m an ICF-certified business coach, creator of the Coach with Clarity® framework, a licensed clinical social worker, host of the Coach with Clarity podcast, and author of the #1 bestselling book, ACT on Your Business.
I’ve been able to help hundreds of coaches tap into their wisdom, serve their clients in truly life-changing ways, and create a business that thrives while doing it. With the resources I’ve created, you’ll have what you need to develop both the skill set and mindset to help your clients transform their lives.
Best of all, you’ll have a coaching business that’s fully aligned with your values and your purpose, and an unshakable confidence in your abilities as a coach and entrepreneur.
As an intuitive, heart-centered therapist-turned-coach, I know just how challenging – yet fulfilling! – transformational coaching can be. And I also know that, while you’ve got the skills and desire to do this work, knowing how to create an aligned business framework while mastering the art of coaching is a whole new world.
That’s why I created Coach with Clarity® — my framework for helping you tap into your wisdom, serve your clients in truly life-changing ways, and create a business that thrives while doing it.
In my Coach with Clarity® framework, I take a holistic approach to examining the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual dimensions of your life as a coach, as an intuitive, as a person.
Want to learn more about my ICF-accredited membership program, Coach with Clarity, or about private coaching? Let’s connect! Apply for a free consultation at https://www.coachwithclarity.com/connect.
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