Women, Work and Overwhelm


One of the things I’ve always loved about being a professional coach is that the work requires me to continuously look at myself and evaluate my way of being in the world.

I’ve always said that I don’t believe I need to be perfect, but I do believe that I need to be constantly on the path of growth and development. I need to be walking my talk, so I can look my clients in the eye and challenge them similarly.

There have been times when that has been easier than others.

Ironically, as a deeply trained coach, I’m equipped with more tools and frameworks and ideas than the average person – tools that can help me navigate challenging situations and ensure my choices are aligned with my values and goals. But using those on myself when the going got tough has proved to be quite difficult over the years.

As the author and my good friend Charlie Gilkey has said, “You can’t read the label from inside the jar.”

It’s taken me a while but I’ve eventually gotten better at doing what I know can be helpful. Regular mindfulness practice, asking for help rather than do everything myself – these things sound simple and basic, but when you’re in the throes of, as Jonathan Fields calls it, the “thrash,” the smart and practical approach isn’t always top of mind.

I know that what I experience is to some degree an experience shared by many women. What’s unique about me, though, is that in addition to being the “go to” person for my family, I’m a business owner. As my friend Angela Devlen shared with me, “…being the single point of failure at home and at work is exhausting.” And based on many conversations with my clients over the years, the same feeling is true whether you’re a business owner or a leader in an organization. When too many people see you as the holder of the solutions you empty your personal gas tank pretty quickly.

I’ve referred to this situation, this feeling of overwhelm resulting from attempting to be too many things to too many people, as being an “Accidental Alpha.” It’s a characterization that has resonated with many women when I’ve mentioned it over the years, so – although it’s taken me forever to have the courage to bring it into the world – I finally wrote the book.

In my view there is one key mindset shift that we overwhelmed “go to” people can make that has the potential to change a lot. I’ve offered it, in a simple framework (along with some personal and client stories), in hopes that it can be helpful to others.

But old habits die hard.When talking with the Parachute Executive Coaching associate team on our recent monthly call I found myself holding back from asking for the kind of support I knew would be helpful as I start to promote the book. Until one team member pointed out, “You know, you CAN ask us for more than one thing.”

I’m a work in progress, clearly.

“The Accidental Alpha Woman: The Guide to Thriving When Life Feels Overwhelming” is available now on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle versions.

Note: If you’d like to purchase copies in bulk, or book me to speak, please email me directly at kwright@parachuteexecutivecoaching.com