Is It Me? Maybe Not…

Last year I did something I’ve never done before in my life. I walked out of a training.

I flew half way across the country to attend an event, believing that I would hire the host as my new coach. From her marketing, I thought we’d be a good fit. I was wrong.

It’s not that she intentionally didn’t deliver. She shared a wealth of content and put a lot of energy into the delivery. For some people in the room, it resonated. For me, her broader message was consistent with my values but her manipulative method of teaching was not.

She lost me when she challenged us to play full out – after deeply seeding this as meaning we’d join the new program she was rolling out. She went so far as to say that she’d left her small children to spend time with us so our failure to give everything to her training would be cheating her children.

I remember these words as if it were yesterday… “If you don’t play full out, you are cheating my children.”

At that point, I concluded that I was cheating my own kids sitting there watching her antics, so I left.

Later, I ran into another participant at the elevator who I’d met earlier and clicked with. She asked if I was leaving. I nodded. Tears streaming down her face, she said, “I understand… but I’m not strong enough to leave.”

How heart breaking.

She didn’t trust herself enough to ask for what she needed. What she deserved. Why? She didn’t trust the trainer to stand behind her word of satisfaction guaranteed, no questions asked.

Although the program offered a full (super-platinum-no questions asked-I assume-all-the-risk-plus-more type) guarantee, based on her experience of the training, the woman by the elevator didn’t trust this. If she trusted, she wouldn’t need strength to leave. She could have acted on trust. (And it ends up she was right, there was no easy peasy refund coming).

Her strength had been sapped by the trainer’s messages that triggered the participant’s belief that she would be blamed for not getting out of the experience what she “should” get. She must have done “something” wrong not to get more out of the training.

This feeling was reinforced by the trainer giving messages like:

Stay with me and it’ll be okay … instead of let’s get you strong enough so that everything will be okay no matter what.

Follow me, I’ve got the answers … instead of let me teach you how to recognize answers when they come to you.

Look to me and outside of yourself … instead of first look within.

This trainer sought to grow a dependency on herself. Red flag: This is not a healthy growth partner.

When someone guides you to look outside of yourself for your answers, they’re using a self-interested map, not pointing you to your own north star.

The truth is that you have your answers within you.

Are you in a situation or a relationship that is not feeding your spirit or making you stronger – and you’re feeling that this is your fault?

Step back and get some perspective. Be honest with yourself about whether you’re doing what it takes to make it work. Be fair to the other person. This mismatch doesn’t always mean that the other person is doing something wrong or bad. Sometimes, it simply means that it’s not the right relationship to be in at this time.

If you are bringing your integrity to a relationship or an experience and it isn’t serving you, don’t be afraid to walk away. You owe it to yourself to get out of it — and the other person owes it to you to let you go.

Perhaps it’s time to move forward … into a greater expression of your essential, beautiful self.

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Leave A Reply (49 comments So Far)

  • Mollie, I really enjoyed the post! Reminded me of a saying I often say during trainings (and repeat to myself ;-)) — “personal development is a hands on project — meaning you’ve got to be the biggest part in your own growth”. Thank you for your very wise post my friend 🙂

    • Can just hear you say that, Josh 🙂 Grateful to have you as Contributor and share this journey.

  • I’m so grateful that you 1) walked out 2) that you wrote about it 3) that you didn’t gossip and name names. Such powerful modeling on all three parts. Big love to you.

    • Thanks, Mark. My general rule of confidentiality is to give details OR name names but never both. So you may hear who I met with – but not what was said – or you may hear a story but no names. Even with this guideline, I’ve never been big on sharing these types of experiences.

      I just gave Bob Burg a nod of gratitude on this the other day. I have writings along these lines tucked away on my computer where I processed a profound lesson through interaction with another. This story would have stayed there had Bob not shown me that when you see someone doing a disservice to others, it can help others to bring it out into the open to invite them to more fully process a similar experience.

      This can be done with integrity (the lightbulb came on for me when Bob shared how he googled what he wrote to make sure that none of the people he was writing about came up based on what he’d written). So grateful to have you and Bob as two of my high-integrity guiding lights. Thank you.

    • PS 🙂 Thought you/others might be interested in the post by Bob that gave me my lightbulb moment that I could share this type of lesson while protecting the identity of my teacher:

  • Hi Mollie!

    I remember when you told me about this shortly after it happened. What a horrible use of the stage — to manipulate people to tears because they are scared to leave. Irritates me to no end. That person might be “successful” making big money with dozens/hundreds/thousands of clients/followers, but I always wonder how people like that can sleep at night. (Although the fact that she was using these kinds of “scare” tactics and the refund wasn’t so easy to come by tells me she was probably scared herself of the big hotel bill coming and being desperate for a way to pay it…).

    Anywho… while I agree with you on most points, I would like to respectfully disagree with you on the point that each of us has the answers we need inside us for everything. While that is true on a spiritual and emotional level, it’s not on a more practical level.

    For example, if all people had the answers to working out successfully without getting injured and effectively and efficiently building the muscle and losing the fat they wanted to from their bodies, my personal trainer hubby would be out of business.

    If all people inherently knew how to give a speech that is authentic and really helped their audiences while at the same time sharing an offer in a way that wasn’t manipulative but open and honest to work together further, I’d be out of business and you wouldn’t have left that event.

    I could go on with the practical examples — like financial planners (look at all the folks who are bankrupt and foreclosed upon), graphic designers (we’ve all seen those sweet or obnoxious homemade websites that could use some professional sprucing up), and trainers of every type… but I know you get my point.

    In some cases we have to look outside ourselves to find answers to practical issues and get some help. What’s important to understand is when it’s appropriate to look outside and when it’s best to look inside. Discovering THAT will allow us all to move forward being our authentic best selves while being certain that what we need help with will be there when we need it.

    Thanks for the post & the food for thought. Well done as always 🙂

    Felicia Slattery

    • Point well taken. Life is too short to learn everything yourself and it’s useful to have mentors in your life to share from their experience and wisdom.

      I’m a BIG believer that top performers seek mastery in their field and find the right coach (and support structures/communities) to help them on this path. I currently have a biz coach (to provide me with ideas, guidance and short cuts) and I just hired what I call a heart coach (to remind me of the truths I DO know – I benefit from her reminders to regularly stop in this noisy look-outside-yourself world and reconnect to my truth).

      But my choice to partner with these particular coaches came from INSIDE me. Neither of these coaches comes from the assumption that they know what is best for me, my business, or my life. I am not dependent on them in a sense that they have all of my answers and I need them to move forward. Rather, they work to support my growth from inside out as I step into serving others in a bigger way to design their best life.

      Thanks for your input, Felicia.

      • Anonymous


        Mollie! Awesome distinction! You hired someone after you made the decision INSIDE yourself. You weren’t convinced, sold, or manipulated into thinking you needed something. You looked inside and realized what you needed and wanted.

        I love that 🙂

        • And … we meet in the middle. That’s so often where the good stuff is!

          You may want to take a look at what I just shared with Coach Julie. Her comment brought back the 2 “choices” if we didn’t work with her — playing small or choking on our arrogance (offered with a graphic example of someone who did this and never went anywhere). Period. Black and white. I chose gray 🙂

          • Anonymous

            I know our colleague Dave Lakhani is the persuasive genius, but when I was teaching persuasive speaking, there were six fallacies I’d warn against. The Either-Or fallacy was one that sets up false alternatives for the audience. That’s exactly what this speaker did. She’d have gotten an “F” in my class for THAT! LOL

  • Cordula

    I am lucky to be fairly immune to this kind of pressure and scare tactics. During ‘pitch time’, where I heard some of the same sentences at a differently themed workshop with the same trainer, I happily used the time to write down a lot of ideas that were bubbling up. Got a lot done, and didn’t feel the least bit guilty for tuning in to my own truth :).

    • Cordula – if you shared this experience at a different training, thank you for honoring the anonymity of the trainer. Your point highlights that each person in an audience experiences his or her unique response/reaction. Some may feel energized, some may feel pressured, some may tune out, and some may feel the need to walk away. The key is to be aware of what is coming up for you and to honor it.

  • Ah Mollie – I’m with you on this one. As you know, I’ve been cleaning house in my own life lately. I trusted folks based on what they said (as I have always done) – and in some cases based on my own need due to fear. I listened to theit talk and the talk around them- and didn’t pay attention to their walk. Even though i saw the signs of a walk that didn’t match my beliefs, my values or my integrity. I kept on trusting – making up excuses for them, looking the other way – even as I felt more and more out of my own integrity.

    My intuition and knowing were screaming at me. Yet my own fears and feelings of inadequacy kept me hanging onto these supposed friends and partners. Until, as you can guess, the ultimate betrayals left me standing wondering “How did I get into this mess?”

    At first I blamed them – for their own out of integrity behaviors. But then I came to realize that I was responsible.
    – I made the choice to trust them without enough information
    – I made the choice to stay with them- even as I saw things that did not match my values
    – I dissed my own self by looking the other way.

    And in the end – I learned a valuable lesson the hard way. When partners or associates don’t act in a way that matches my own values and integrity – there isn’t anything necessarily wrong with either one of us. But there is a difference – and important difference that I need to recognize and respect… because if I don’t do that, when I look the other way – I am only disrespecting myself.

    Good for you for walking out. I would have done the very same thing. And I pray everyone who reads your post will be encouraged to stand for their own values – and not those of the supposed ‘experts’.

    hugs to you!


    • Thanks for sharing your lesson, Rebel. Those “how did I EVER get to this place?” moments offer insights that can bring such a renewed richness to life when we fully process them. They are created when we make decisions that are not congruent with our values. And while it’s easier to blame others, our wealth lies in turning to what we did to co-create an experience that is not serving our highest truth.

      Getting back on course with new resolve takes great courage — often cleaning house, as you say — and the pay-offs are IMMENSE. Onward, my friend!

  • Good call. I used to have a problem leaving MOVIES until I left in the middle of some lame (The Avengers?) flick after realizing my money had already been spent, but my time had not.

    And she sounds like a bad teacher. More of a cult leader.

    • Such a powerful point. Even without the outright manipulation I experienced at this event, we have our own inner rule master and pressure to conform to social expectations (“You paid good money for this movie/event … you can’t leave”) and then the justifications swoop in to bolster up these voices (“This has got to get better any minute”).

      It brings a whole new perspective to say, I am trading my time – my LIFE – for this experience. Is it worth it? If not…and the choice is always yours to make…move on.

  • Bill

    Mollie- your elevator story reinforces the feeling that hundreds of people have discussed with me about them being dependent on other stuff – people, trainers, gurus, experts, systems, programs, tools, etc. Until we are willing to own our life and understand HOW we get exactly what we build for ourselves, it will be easy to continue “the victim of other stuff” mentality. When some aspect of a person’s life isn’t developing the way they want, they should recall the permission to care about themself that you gave them in your post, “You owe it to yourself to get out of it.” Always look forward to your ideas.

    • Thanks, Bill. Your note brought this insight…dependence and INdependence, come from within. Have never thought of it in just this way. Maybe I’ll start calling it WITHINdependence 🙂

  • Oh Mollie,
    Thank you for sharing this. Thanks for encouraging all of us to trust ourselves!

    • Oh, yes, Gina – trust your brilliant, gorgeous, sexy, beautiful SELF! 🙂

      • hahaha I should have known you’d say “sexy!” Ooooooookay! trusting, trusting, trusting, trusting.

  • Thank you Mollie. You share a piece of yourself with each story you tell. Through our stories we can create connection. I think it is important to note that for this by-the-elevator participant your example of strength in leaving gave her the possibility to have strength in staying. I imagine since she understood that you kept your integrity through your leaving that gave her the courage to keep her integrity (not losing herself in the tide) in staying. She would have recognized that this experience was building strength for the future. Thank you for being an example to us all.

    • What a beautiful insight on how living our best life can inspire others to live theirs – even when our individual choices (and the consequences that always follow our choices) are very different. We share a responsibility – as you say – to use the experiences we create to build strength for a better future and a life lived with greater personal integrity. Thanks, Connie.

  • I’d love to think that I’d stand up and leave like you did. I’m certain as I’d have felt as you did, but kudos to you for having the strength to respect yourself as you did!

    • Hi, Sue. Know that there was a time (a big timespan) in my life where I wouldn’t have made this same decision. Your comment brought up gratitude – I was fortunate to have a very wise person at this same event to process the experience with – and also talked through it on the phone that same day with a member of my team and my hubby. Yes, the answers must come from within…but none of us can live our best life alone. So glad you’re sharing this journey with me!

  • Eric

    Fierce integrity. Thank you for writing about this. The cult of dependency is so alluring to the part of us that is wounded and seeking solace. But, the wholeness, healing and, yep, success never come from projecting your greatness onto others. Especially those who will eagerly encourage such projections and poke at the soft spots of the soul to extract money and feed their image.

    • “poke at the soft spots of the soul to extract money and feed their image” … this will stay with me for a long, long time. Sometimes we learn by seeing a beacon of who we want to become…and sometimes we learn by seeing how we don’t want to treat others. I believe a wise person learns from and honors both of these teachers. Thanks, Eric.

  • Thanks, Mollie, for sharing the audacious truth of your experience. Kudos to you for knowing what works best for you and letting that direct your actions…then and now!

    • Thanks, Sylvia. It was a vulnerable sharing – has been marinating until I felt I could share from a place that served me and others. I’m grateful it spoke to you.

  • Claudia

    I admire you for just walking out. I think I would have tried to work on her (i. e. got into a heated discussion), as just reading how she brought her kids into play made me angry. It seems she can serve as a warning example at Codependents Anonymus…

    • I get that – your comment made me think how the young lawyer within me would have had a similar reaction at one time 🙂 My life journey has brought me to a place of knowing it doesn’t serve me to give my energy to trying to change someone else in this way. I now seek to more quickly let go and move forward to what fuels me and allows me to help more of the people I’m meant to serve. These feelings are often an indication to me that I’m playing in the wrong sandbox…

  • Great post, Mollie! Thanks for sharing. There are a lot of valuable lessons in there. I wonder the same thing as you – How can you sleep easily if you’re manipulating the behavior of others?

    • Thanks, Jim. I’m not convinced this trainer felt she was manipulating anyone. She was clearly passionate about her high value content. From what I observed, it is possible that she so strongly believed that she had the answers others needed that she felt justified in doing whatever it took to get them to work with her… so in her eyes, she could help them even more.

      I don’t believe many people self-identify as manipulative. All the more reason we need to pay close attention to not only the content being taught, but the way in which it is delivered…and listen to our inner voice about whether both of these resonate with us.

  • Dr Mommy

    Hi Dr. Mollie!!

    I wish more were as brave as you were to leave. You felt it in your soul that it was not the place for you and that is something to truly admire!!

    So sad to see so many looking for the answers outside of themselves, when if they just stopped, quieted down and truly listened..the answer they’ve been longing for is within them and always has been.

    Much love to you!!

    • Your comment makes me want to put a note on my wall …Shhhhh, listen. What do I truly want? Will this serve my highest truth? Will this make me happy? Will this help me live my best life? Shhhhh…Listen.

      Thanks for sharing your wisdom, Daisy!

  • Good for you. I have a similar situation brewing with a business partner who’s values are not aligned with mine. By sharing you have illuminated what should have been an obvious decision.

    • So glad this article helped, John. Thanks for letting me know. What a wonderful example you give of carrying our values-based answers within. We might not always be aware of them – but we certainly know what they are. Best with your situation.

  • Coach Julie

    Talk about hitting the nail on the head with this one Mollie… I’ve experienced several similar situations at workshops, seminars & conferences I’ve attended over the years. I’ve often thought is there something wrong with me? cause I just don’t get what they are talking about. Perhaps more importantly, what they are saying and how they are saying seems to be all about them. One such situation happened last month at a 2 day empowering women conference where the closing speaker praised all the women in attendance for their commitment to spending those 2 days ‘improving themselves’ and then mocked the people who weren’t there. I sat there thinking to myself, “wait a minute… where has she been the past 2 days?” Hmmm… After she suggested that if we want to become successful like she has, then we better sign up for her magnificent thousand+ dollar program that is being offered today only for the special blowout price of just $299… Really? Isn’t that the same tactic every other self promoting speaker uses? or maybe she thinks I just fell of the turnip truck – I do live in Idaho after all! – lol 🙂 Sure do appreciate your post!!!

    • Amazed how the comments here keep allowing me to go deeper into this experience and are supporting me in more fully processing it. Thank you. You reminded me that the presenter in question gave us 2 clear explanations if we didn’t buy into her mega-buck program… 1) it meant we were not ready to grow and likely would always play small or 2) it meant that we thought we had all of the answers ourselves and our arrogance would be our downfall. Appreciate your input you savvy Idaho girl! 🙂

  • guest

    Thank you Mollie. Well said!

  • Thanks to all of you for your comments here. My email inbox has been buzzing, too. Here’s one message I think many can relate to: “I read every word of this and it just makes me sick to my stomach for you and for the other lady who stayed…and for obviously the implied after event of trying to get a refund.:( To this day I feel a bit cautious about “selling” in front of the room…even if it is acceptable and frankly expected sometimes by those who don’t pay your full fee but allow you to sell your books or whatever which might make up the difference….that being said I pray I have not done this to anyone.”

    If this concern resonates with you, here’s a highly recommended ready by Mark Silver that breaks down why selling into a crowd can feel icky and what you can do to walk this path with a greater level of awareness and integrity:

    Here’s to us helping each other find a better way!

  • Frank Allen

    Unbelievable how social media can be so effective…I happen to follow Bob Burg as a result see a mention of you and this particular article…awesome… I too totally concur with Mark Silvers comments. Thank you indeed. There are so many suppossed self proclaimed experts or gurus (God I hate the term more every day) that under the guise of being Go-Givers are truly solely financially motivated. Some of these well marketed / promoted presenters I feel just don’t get it. Many of the youth here in Calgary awhile back would say “Keep it Real” – I love it. So once again thanks to you for keeping it real and Bob Burg for his post on facebook.

    Very best regards,

    • One of my favorites I’ve heard from our youth is, “It’s all about you…not” – another keeper!

      You can get an interview with Bob and I – along with a couple other powerful trainings – at the top right of this page. Welcome to Best Life Design!

  • Suzy

    This offers a terrific validation to the woman within. We women often think we don’t know enough and give our power over to someone else. Been there, and hopefully leaving that part behind so I can act from the power of who I really am.

  • Anonymous

    Mollie: Thanks for sharing your experience and especially how important it is to tune into your inner self. I especially liked your point about taking an honest look and that if you’re in a situation that isn’t serving you, too, it may be time to let go or walk away. Your experience was one we can all learn from. Thanks for sharing it with us!

  • Michele Woodward

    Brilliant, Mollie. Absolutely brilliant, and needed to be said. Perhaps you should consider making this a public service announcement, and “air” it four or five times a day! Many thanks for your authenticity and candor.

    • Thanks for stopping by, Michele. This was one of those “hover over the publish” buttons posts 🙂 So happy to see it resonate with and help people!

  • Mike

    Great perspective! I truly like the fact that you had the courage to write this article. “First” look within” hit me like a zap od lightening.

    Warmest Regards