451: Achieve More Than Meaningful Work (& How To Ask For The Help You Need)

HTYC’s own Cindy talks with Scott about what may be stopping some people from being “happy high-achievers”



cindy gonos
Cindy Gonos, Director of Client Success

Cindy is passionate about helping people in the first step towards finding work they love. She's the first person you talk to at HTYC.

on this episode

Years ago, I wanted to learn more about how some people became what I now call Happy High Achievers – people who were successful in both their career and also in the other areas of life.

Fast forward to when we started HTYC, we had the goal to help many more people in the world become Happy High Achievers, not just to get to meaningful work. 

So what do you think stops people from making career changes to much more fulfilling work? What stops people from becoming Happy High Achievers?

What you’ll learn

  • Why you don’t need to run away
  • How “powering through” isn’t always the answer
  • When your lifestyle you’ve grown accustomed to might hold you back
  • Why you can’t do it on your own
  • Why you don’t need to have everything figured out

Success Stories

I am so thrilled taking your CCB Program! It probably saves me thousands of hours groping in the dark on my own in the journey to find work I love.

Tina Nguyen, Dentist, United States/Canada

"When I started I was afraid of making the wrong decision! My career was incredibly important to me and I didn't want to screw it up or waste time making a move I wouldn't enjoy! Scott helped me learn what my strengths are and what is most important to me… but more important than that I learned about what I can't stop doing that I have to have in my work to make me happy"

Rhushi Bhadkamkar, Senior Consultant, United States/Canada

during this last transition to Seattle, while working with Lisa, that help was just what I needed right then to go from where I knew I could go to where I got.

Mike Bigelow, Senior Project Manager, United States/Canada

The role is meeting my expectations… totally owning the marketing function. And luckily the founder/president is always forward-looking – he just presented us a huge strategy doc for the next year. So there will be an opportunity for us to grow beyond our initial audience, which is great. I applied (against conventional wisdom!) and went through a lengthy interview process. I did use the resume/cover letter chapter quite a bit to customize what I used to respond to the ad. I also found that using the Interview chapter was super helpful in formulating “SBO” oriented responses, and I even used some of them in the interview. Having those “case study” type responses was really helpful and I believe cemented my candidacy. BTW – they hired me completely over Skype and phone! I never met anyone from my company (in person) until last week at a conference.

Erica Fourrette, Marketing Director

Cindy Gonos 00:01
We do have that mentality of, "I can do it on my own." And eventually, folks will come to the conclusion that, "maybe an expert is somebody that I should be talking to." And an expert is not your spouse or your significant other or your parents or a friend. But I think that a lot of times people stall on the process because they really feel like they can do it on their own.

Introduction 00:26
This is the Happen To Your Career podcast, with Scott Anthony Barlow. We help you stop doing work that doesn't fit you, figure out what it does and make it happen. We help you define the work that's unapologetically you, and then go get it. If you're ready to make a change. Keep listening. Here's Scott. Here's Scott. Here's Scott.

Scott Anthony Barlow 00:50
Back in the early 2000s, I started studying what makes people successful. Early on, it was very clear that some people were successful, they achieved a lot, but gave up everything else to do it. Now, when I was researching this, I didn't want to know about those people who destroyed all of the relationships with their kids or other people that they really cared about to go after some other version of success. Instead, I wanted to know more about those people who prioritized both. And those people who became what I now call "happy high achievers", people who are successful in their career and define success on their own terms, but also in the other areas of life that mattered the most to them. People who had great relationships with their significant other and a career they love or people who are highly wealthy and are happy people to be around. When we started HTYC, it was the goal to help many more people in the world become happy high achievers, not just to get to meaningful work. Since then, we've learned more than a lot. Here's the question I have for you, what do you think stops people from making career changes to much more fulfilling work? What stops people from becoming happy high achievers?

Cindy Gonos 01:59
But I think just taking that first big step and saying, "I don't know" it's okay to not know before you get on a call with me. It's okay to not be sure before you make that appointment. It's okay to feel all those feelings before you do this. But the biggest thing is just to do the thing. That would be my best advice, Scott, is do the thing.

Scott Anthony Barlow 02:19
Do the thing. The answer is counterintuitive. That's Cindy Gonos, our Director of Client Success and the very first person that you meet when you talk to us at HTYC. I asked her to come on today to be able to share what she's learned by having many hundreds of conversations over and over and over again, with people that want to make this type of change. Now, it turns out, it's not the work or the knowledge or even developing the skills that often stops people from becoming happy high achievers, it's the fact that most people never ask for help. And if they do, often asking people that aren't in a position to help them. In this episode, today, Cindy and I will chat about what we believe are the five biggest beliefs that stop you from ever taking the first step and asking for help. Cindy, welcome to the podcast, officially.

Cindy Gonos 03:06
Thank you, Scott, for having me.

Scott Anthony Barlow 03:08
Where in your career have you seen this pop up? This idea of struggling to ask for help or even not asking for help or being challenged in asking for help and that stopping you from something somewhere that you want. Where have you seen that pop up for yourself?

Cindy Gonos 03:22
Sure. I had a really amazing opportunity, Scott, to open and run a swim school for children. I was very, very excited about the opportunity. And I felt like I was ready to, no pun intended, dive into anything to help make the swim school successful. I learned very quickly that one of my responsibilities as the General Manager of the swim school was to also be a lifeguard, the head lifeguard, if you will. And unbeknownst to my owner, or any of the folks that was helping me with training, I have an absolute phobia of water, terrified of the water, absolutely terrified of the water. And when I went into my lifeguard training, I just kept telling myself, "you're going to be fine, you're going to do this, you're going to be fine." But the fear that I had was absolutely paralyzing. And it was really difficult for me to admit that, it was really difficult for me to admit that I needed to ask for help. So I went through the first day of lifeguard training, just floundering around, struggling a lot, but really trying to put on that brave face. And at the end of that day, I went to our lifeguard instructor. And I just said to her, "This is really, really hard for me, and I'm really, really afraid." And she was able to calm me down. She was able to talk me through it. She was able to tell me all of the reasons why I could do this thing that I was so afraid of, and I did it. I became a lifeguard. I became an awesome lifeguard. And at the end of lifeguard training, when I got my certification, I went to my car after training and I cried so hard because I was so absolutely proud of what I had done, but I was able to go in with confidence because I asked for help with that.

Scott Anthony Barlow 05:03
That's amazing. And I think that that pops up for so many people. I know I've experienced that. I can't even count the times in my career. I would love to say that every single time on the other end of it, I went and asked for help, that is not the case. A lot of times I just struggled through it. And sometimes I didn't even get where I wanted to go, because I didn't ask for help. And conversely, the other times where I did, it wasn't as big of a deal every single time in so many different ways. It often requires the same degree of courage that you described, or transparency, to be able to say, "Look, I'm really struggling with this. I don't necessarily know where to go from here. But I do know that I need help." So that's what's really interesting to me. And I'm curious, you and I had a conversation prior to the evolution of this episode. And we had identified that there's really five main things that we've seen over and over again, stopping people from asking for help. What is the first one that you've seen?

Cindy Gonos 06:00
Yeah, absolutely. I would say the first thing that folks will say is that they have that feeling that they don't want to just run away, or they don't want to let others down. I think so often, we take career paths, because it is expected of us, right? It's the expectations our parents have, or our partners have, or the responsibility that we have to our families or to our children. And one thing that I heard from a couple of folks that I talked to is that even getting on the call with me took a lot of courage. And that courage was to accept the fact that they weren't running away from something, but that they were actually running towards something that was better and more fulfilling for them. And that takes a lot of courage.

Scott Anthony Barlow 06:45
I think that's, on one hand, fascinating that that is what it feels like. It feels like if we are making a change, we are failing at something, we're running away from it, as opposed to the... what very often is, is trying to make an intentional change, and intentional improvement in your life, or your work or your career or whatever else. And I think that that is, I don't want to necessarily, you know, take us down a bunny trail, but it's really interesting that that is what we've created in our society that when you're trying to make that type of change, the first thing that we think of is, "Oh, crap. I'm failing at this." And that causes us to not go and ask for help to make a change. So that's a whole nother episode unto itself. That path that is expected of us, tell me more about that.

Cindy Gonos 07:33
Sure. I think when we start our careers, a lot of times what we do is we look for the logic in what we should do. We look for that path that's going to give us success. We look for the path that's going to make us safe. And I think safety for some folks means stability, as far as finances go. I don't think that we're focusing enough on the safety or fulfillment of ourselves. So it's almost as if we feel as though we're letting other folks down by not having that predetermined societal version of success, right.

Scott Anthony Barlow 08:11
Yeah, that whole idea of doing what's expected. I think the really interesting thing about that is studying happy high achievers, or would be happy high achievers, there's always an evolution in there, there's always an evolution where you are initially focused on what other people, you know, whether that be people that are close to you, or societal versions of what we think success is. And there's always this evolution in the switch that happens, it's not usually overnight, it's usually over a period of time where we start focusing more and more on what we personally define as success and what we expect of ourselves. And that's something that takes practice in so many different ways. And I think we underestimate that and just how much practice we can get, once we are doing that with someone else that can help us. So that whole asking for help, literally is stopping that in so many different ways when we're not doing it.

Cindy Gonos 09:06
One thing that I hear a lot of folks say is when I'm on our first time calls, because I'll do all the first time conversations, is a lot of times your folks say, "I know I've been really lucky. I know that I've been really fortunate." And I can feel them hesitating on the but. They almost feel that guilt of saying, "I know I've been really successful but I'm not fulfilled." They tend to trail off on the end of that sentence. Because again, it's that expectation, the... "I know that what I have makes me fortunate compared to others" or "I know that I've been successful." But but but... is the thing that they're... Yes, they're trailing off on. So it's great to be successful. But if you're not fulfilled, if it's not meaningful, then are you really successful in the way that is meaningful for you? So.

Scott Anthony Barlow 09:54
I love that. What would you say is the second biggest way or second biggest thing that stops us, second biggest belief that stops us from asking for help?

Cindy Gonos 10:04
Yeah, absolutely. So there's a running joke in my house, we love Arrested Development, it is one of our favorite shows. And we have a daughter who was very picky eater. And we would always tell her "Amber, you know what, it's dinnertime. You just need to keep your head down and power through, just power through." And I feel that a lot of folks take that throughout their careers that they don't want to feel weak. So they justify staying in a situation that they don't necessarily want to be in by saying, "I just need to power through this. I just need to keep going." So that they don't feel that weakness or again, that sort of failure, where maybe they just aren't trying hard enough, maybe they're just not pushing through enough. So I think a lot of folks fall into that mindset of "if I can just power through this tough time, or I can just power through these last 10 years of unhappiness through to the other side." So that's one thing that I hear a lot is folks having that mentality of just put your head down, just keep your head down and power through it.

Scott Anthony Barlow 11:01
I've definitely heard people say, "Hey, I only have X number of years left till retirement" quote, unquote. And that might be like three years, that might be five years, it might be 10 years. The other day, I heard someone tell me, "I only have 32 years left to retire." I was like, "Oh, no. I'm so sorry." And it's that idea. Somewhere along the line, we've gotten the idea that we just need to power through, and maybe some places that can serve as well. But I found that generally, when it's something that goes on for years, we're not talking about, like, "Hey, I just need to power through this project that's going to last the next two days." But we're talking about, "I just need to power through years at a time." Like we only have so many years on the planet. So you know, regardless of what your beliefs are, like it's a relatively short time, and just powering through isn't necessarily going to serve you and the other people really, really well.

Cindy Gonos 11:56

Scott Anthony Barlow 11:57
What do you think is the third biggest belief?

Cindy Gonos 12:00
Oh, man, yes. This is the one that kills me. It kills me a little bit inside every time I hear folks say it. There is this misconception, I will call it a misconception, that in order to find fulfilling work, that for some reason, folks are going to have to be poor, they do not want to be poor. So if I'm talking to someone about ideal career or roles that they're looking for, I always ask what their salary requirements are, what would they like to see themselves ideally at a salary. And when they start the phrase with, "Well, I guess I would take..." and then they insert a number, that is a really quick indicator to me that they are expecting that they're going to have a lower standard of living or lower income in order to have meaningful work. So I'll ask them, I will question them, "Why did you choose this number?" And I always get the same response, "Well, if I want work that I really love, I know I'm going to have to take a pay cut. I know I'm going to have to sacrifice some of my income." And that is absolutely positively just not the case. So I think that stops a lot of folks from even taking that first step. They have that sense of financial security, and they're so afraid that they're going to jeopardize that, that they just don't make any moves forward.

Scott Anthony Barlow 13:15
Yeah, if I feel like I want to keep up the lifestyle I've grown accustomed to, and I feel like making a change is going to force me to give up that lifestyle, then I'm not very likely to move forward in one way or another. And what's so fascinating is that it is so ingrained. You and I, when we had a conversation the other day, I remember talking about this, and we're saying that it is literally every conversation that shows up, every conversation that we're having with someone who we are potentially working with to help make this type of change we're talking about, we always are addressing this in one form or another, I feel almost like sometimes we are releasing people of that belief that if you are doing something meaningful, that it must be done for less money or less compensation, or in fact, on the other end, we don't see that. But we don't see that when people are going through the efforts to do work where they are contributing at a higher level in different ways than what they're accustomed to that is requiring them to accept a lower value, in fact, we see it very much the opposite way. But ultimately, I mean, everybody gets to choose. So if you're going to choose, I'm always going to choose to keep my my salary at the same level and the head after that, because I know that if I am upfront, accepting that I need to do that it's impossible or I can't do that, then I'm making it impossible for myself.

Cindy Gonos 14:36
Yeah, I agree. I think that so many times folks undervalue their strengths. And when we work with folks, that's really where we want them to be is working within their strengths. And I think that once they're able to see the value in their strengths, then they're able to see that they can keep the lifestyle, they can have a better lifestyle than what they've been accustomed to, and they're in that place where the work is meaningful, their bandwidth is longer, they're able to work better and work harder, and it feels really, really good for them. And it's this really magical place that they don't think exists. So it's up to us to break that stigma and let them know, "Hey, sorry, but you're wrong. You actually can do work that you really love and make a really good living that does exist. It is a real thing." So.

Scott Anthony Barlow 15:21
It is a real thing. Those, I understand where the belief comes from, it's very pervasive in our society, that accepting a work that is more meaningful is less valuable in one way or another. That doesn't necessarily make it true, that doesn't necessarily make it what's actually happening out there. What do you believe is the fourth most common belief that stopping people?

Cindy Gonos 15:46
The fourth most common belief is that folks really believe that they can just do this on their own. So I have the luxury of working in health and wellness and the health and wellness industry for about 10 years. And you would get into January, right, and you would think, "Oh, man, I'm gonna be so busy, like, everybody's gonna need help with getting healthier and losing weight and doing all these things." And it would be crickets for the first couple weeks of January, because everybody had this mindset of, "I'm going to be able to do this on my own." And then you start to creep into the end of January. And then all of a sudden, you're just getting bombarded with people who have now realized, "Oh, hey, wait, maybe I should probably have somebody who's really, really good at this helped me get going on this." But I think we do you have that mentality of, "I can do it on my own." And eventually, folks will come to the conclusion that maybe an expert is somebody that I should be talking to, and an expert is not your spouse, or your significant other, or your parents or a friend, an actual real life expert who can be your coach and can be your partner through this. But I think that a lot of times people stall on the process, because they really feel like they can do it on their own.

Scott Anthony Barlow 16:54
This one's fascinating. We spent, Alyssa and I have spent a lot of time trying to instill this in our kids, because we've realized in the last two years that somehow our kids have adopted this same type of belief, like I can do this on my own. It's like, whoa, whoa, hold on. Maybe that's true. Maybe that's true. But let's evaluate what it's going to take to do this on your own versus working with someone that knows a lot more than you. And you know, Camden, he told me this the other night, an ice hockey. And when I was coaching this team, he's like "I already know how to do it, dad." It's like, yes, you know how to do it. But have you done it? And, you know, having years and years of experience actively doing it looks differently than just knowing theoretically how to do it. And we find the same thing is true for career change. Like part of the reason this company Happen To Your Career is in existence is because I was trying to figure all this stuff out for myself. And it literally took me seven years to go through and learn how to do it. Now, we have really smart listeners. So if you're listening to this, you know, maybe it takes you five years to figure out how to make a career change on your own in a way that's really wonderful for you and really meaningful for you versus changing from job and having to go to the wrong one and then go to the wrong one again, and then maybe the wrong one a third time. But you don't necessarily have to do that. That often is the difference of asking for help, in one way or another.

Cindy Gonos 18:15
Yeah, I love that. You said that, Scott, because it's true. We have really smart listeners. So could they possibly do this work on their own? Absolutely. I think anybody can do anything, but it sure have a hell lot easier when you have a partner, and you have somebody who's really good at it, right? Somebody who has also gone through the paces with other folks who are going through the exact same things that our clients are going through, they've kind of seen it all. So you're benefiting from the expertise of not just the coach, but the coach's experience with other folks who have gone through the exact same thing.

Scott Anthony Barlow 18:49
So right, so right. I'm still learning layers of this. I feel like every day, for myself, for each new thing that I'm learning or taking on. What do you feel like is the fifth and the final belief that stops people?

Cindy Gonos 19:04
Sure. I think the final belief that really stops people from asking for help is they, and I don't know why, I can't tell you why this is, I'm a human too, so I, a lot of times, feel the same way. But folks feel like they need to already have it figured out before they ask for help. So it's kind of that you know, before you go to the dentist, and you're flossing as much as you possibly can, and you're like "I'm gonna brush my teeth the very best that I can" when you know the dentist is going to clean your... Or you're really trying to get your hair looking good before you go to the salon. I feel like when I talk to folks, what I hear so much is "I don't know what I want to be when I grow up" and that's okay. That's why we exist. That's the very best thing that we're good at helping people figure out is what they want to be when they grow up. So I think people feel like they need to already have it figured out and they absolutely do not. They don't even have to have a little bit of it figured out in order to ask for help.

Scott Anthony Barlow 19:58
When you pull back and you look at the bigger picture, there's some level of absurdity to it that we think we have... and you and I were talking about this the other day with ducks in a row like, we think we have to have all of our ducks in a row before we go to get our ducks in a row, or go to get help for keeping all our ducks in a row. And it's like, "Hold on, that doesn't make any sense whatsoever." Because if we already had it all figured out, why would we be ever asking for help? And I think to bring us all the way back around what I've seen in studying happy high achievers and would be happy high achievers is that those are people, who, along the way, get more and more practiced at asking for help, where they need it, how they need it, anticipate in and even working through all of the mental challenges and sorting through all of our own personal beliefs along the way. So I'm so glad that you said that, that is definitely something we see over and over again here. What can people do? What advice would you have for them if they're thinking about a career change? They're in that place where it's like, "I just... I'm not sure if I should. I'm not sure what it would take." What advice would you have for them, Cindy?

Cindy Gonos 21:03
The best advice that I can give is to ask for help, whether that's checking out our podcast, whether it's scheduling a call with me, I love to talk with folks about their career change. It is what I do all day, every day. And I want folks to feel comfortable with doing that. If it's not the right time, or if it's not the right fit, I'm always really honest with folks, but I think just taking that first big step and saying, "I don't know" it's okay to not know, before you get on a call with me. It's okay to not be sure before you make that appointment. It's okay to feel all those feelings before you do this. But the biggest thing is just to do the thing, that would be my best advice, Scott, is do the thing.

Scott Anthony Barlow 21:42
Do the thing. You've heard this on past podcast where we've said, "Hey, you know, just email me." And part of the reason that we've done that in the past is just to try and make it easy to be able to ask for help. So I feel like it's appropriate here. So I promise you, I will introduce you to Cindy. You can contact Cindy directly, you can always contact anybody on our team directly. But to make it super easy, just to email scott@happentoyourcareer.com put 'Conversation' in the subject line. And what we'll do is, first of all, I'll introduce you to Cindy directly. And then we'll ask you a little bit about your situation, your personal situation. And then we'll help you figure out the very best way that we can help support you or what type of help you may need, even if it's something that we can't provide. Either way, we'll be really transparent and upfront with you. Because this is what we do. It's what we love to do. So Cindy, thank you so much for coming on. I really appreciate it. And thank you for sharing all the observations that you've seen over the last many hundreds of conversations here. I appreciate it.

Cindy Gonos 22:44
Thank you, Scott. Absolutely. This was fun.

Speaker 3 22:52
Fear is defined in two ways and how this actually helped me even with this podcast today. You know, this interview is there's two types of fear. One is the what if worst case scenarios. And the other is what happens when you're in a place where, you know, it's bigger than you expected. So expansion happens or energy gets better or you actually connect with your true self. That's a different type of fear.

Scott Anthony Barlow 23:16
All that and plenty more next week right here on Happen To Your Career. Make sure that you don't miss it. And if you haven't already, click Subscribe on your podcast player so that you can download this podcast in your sleep, and you get it automatically, even the bonus episodes every single week, sometimes multiple times a week. Until, next week. Adios. I'm out.

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