Move from Sadass to Badass – Book Excerpt from NOT DONE YET! by Bonnie Marcus

Words matter. Words are powerful. Author Yehuda Berg says, “Words are singularly the most powerful force available to humanity. We can choose to use this force constructively with words of encouragement, or destructively using words of despair. Words have energy and power with the ability to help, to heal, to hinder, to hurt, to harm, to humiliate, and to humble.” Yet, in truth, we rarely understand the influence our words have on others and especially on ourselves.

Without words, our thoughts can’t become reality. Words describe our moods, our opinions, and our emotions. When we say we’re pissed, people get it. When we use words to let others know we love them or we’re disappointed, they understand what we’re feeling, perhaps in a way they could not before hearing the descriptors. Words enable us to communicate with others and build relationships. But most importantly, we use words to describe to ourselves who we are and our future path. Words have the ultimate power of influencing a life of positivity or one of difficulty and despair.

For example, how many times have you described yourself as “forgetful,” “unattractive,” “over the hill”? We use a whole litany of negative adjectives, unaware that in doing so we diminish ourselves and deflate our egos and confidence. These adjectives rob us of our power and influence. Yet we have a powerful choice to instead use words that empower us and support us to create a successful career and fulfilling life. Yeah, it all starts with our thoughts and word choices.

In my own life, I realized that from time to time the stories I told myself were the biggest obstacles to the career and life I wanted. My stories have changed over time, but during different periods of my life, they chastised me, squashed my optimism, and destroyed my confidence. I had a “woe is me” story after a breakup. That story was full of self-pity and grief and an overwhelming feeling of not being lovable. I lived in that story until I was able to write a new one in which I appreciated and loved myself. Other times, I told myself that I was a mediocre author and no one would want to read my book (the one that you’re reading now, thank you very much). That story caused me to put writing on hold and shelve my life purpose. Luckily, that story didn’t survive long before I created another more positive one. I told myself that I was a terrible mother. That was probably the most painful story of all. All of my hurtful stories began during different times in my life and kept me from owning my brilliance and authenticity.

I started to see a pattern emerge, not only with myself but with my clients. Our stories were sabotaging us. It’s not enough that we’re dealing with sexism and ageism, we pile our own shit on top and destroy any hope of remaining whole. When I recognized that my clients’ stories about themselves were holding them back, and that they had no clue they were doing this to themselves, I gave them an exercise. I told them to write down the current story they tell themselves about themselves. More often than not, their narrative was a startling eye-opener. Yikes! They’d see the significance right away. “This story is slowly killing me. How can I possibly have the career and life I want if I’m basically telling myself every day that I’m stupid and fat and irrelevant?” And that’s the point. If your story doesn’t support your success, how can you be successful?

I gave this assignment to a talented and attractive thirty-eight-year-old client from Switzerland. This was her story:

I am just surviving. I have no purpose or motivation in life. I am not taken seriously or respected by anyone—my partner, my colleagues, my family, or friends. I am incapable and superficial. I am a procrastinator. I am fat and old. I’m ill and can’t sleep well.

I was shocked and I think she was as well. Did you catch the part that she thought she was old at thirty-eight? I asked her point-blank, “Does this story serve you?” Obviously, her response was no, not at all. But it was her reality. She lived this story and it prevented her from stepping up in her career and her relationships.

The next step was for her to write a new story, a positive and empowering story about how she felt when she adopted a badass mindset. It went like this:

I am thriving. I have purpose and motivation in my life. I make progress every day. I am recognized by my partner, my colleagues, my family, and my friends. I am capable and profound. I get things done and make things happen. I have options. I am fit and young. I am healthy and sleep well.

I began to witness her transformation. She read her story out loud each day. She kept it visible. Her new story began to fuel her ambition, success, and well-being.

Now it’s your turn to write your story. Be brutally honest. That’s the only way this exercise really works. In as much detail as possible, write your current story—not what you would like it to be but what you actually tell yourself about yourself, every day. Write it as you live it, in first person. Get in touch with your words, your reality, and let it flow.

Read your story. What did you learn? Does your story support or sabotage your present and your future? Take a minute. This can be a pretty emotional exercise. Breathe in. Let it out. This is what you see as your truth right now. More than likely, the story you tell yourself about yourself undermines your success.

Breathe in and let it out. Breathe and let go of this shit. Now is the time to write a new empowering story to propel you forward. If your current story is sadass, make it badass. You control this.

Write your new story with attention to detail in first person, present tense as if you’re already living it. “I am.” Not “I will.” You might want to answer some of these questions: What kind of work are you doing? How do you feel doing that work? What are your relationships like with your family, friends, colleagues, significant other? What do you want them to be? How does that feel? Carefully choose your words for the feeling they create and find the adjectives that give you joy and confidence.

My story today is:

I wake up each morning early, make my coffee and have a quick cup before I head out for a run. The air is fresh and cool and the smell of jasmine envelops me. I’m overwhelmed with joy at the beautiful sunrise. I’m excited about my day of coaching clients and writing. I love helping my clients push through their barriers and own their talent. Their successes are the fuel for me to go on and help others.

Midday I stop to express my gratitude and meditate. I feel grounded and purposeful and set my intention for the remainder of the day. My day is productive and creative.

As you write your new story, don’t jump to solutions. Don’t concern yourself with how things will happen, but stay in the positive space and welcome in the good feelings that accompany the new story. And, most importantly, don’t immediately judge the story as a pipe dream. Stay with it. Stay with the positive, powerful emotions until you finish writing it. And then read it out loud every day. This story becomes your new mantra. And as you repeat it daily, you begin to own it and live it. From sadass to badass, it’s your new story.


About the Author

Award winning entrepreneur, Forbes contributing writer, and executive coach, Bonnie Marcus, M.Ed., is passionate about helping women to embrace their talent and ambition and step into their full potential and workplace power.

With 20+ years of sales and management experience, Bonnie’s extensive business background includes CEO of a ServiceMaster company and VP of Sales at Medical Staffing Network.  She has held executive positions in startup and Fortune 500 companies. Bonnie began her corporate career at an entry-level position and worked her way up to the top of a national company.

Bonnie shares her message globally via speaking engagements, live and virtual workshops, blogging, and her podcast, Badass Women at Any Age.

Her book, The Politics of Promotion: How High Achieving Women Get Ahead and Stay Ahead, offers a roadmap for women to navigate the workplace and position themselves for success. Not Done Yet! How Women Over 50 Regain Their Confidence and Claim Their Workplace Power, will be published March 9, 2021.









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