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Amanda:
Welcome to unleashing your great work, a podcast about doing the work that matters the most to you. I’m your host, Dr. Amanda Crowell, a cognitive psychologist coach, and the creator of The Aligned Time Journal.

Every week we are here asking the big questions. What does it take to create something of your own? How do we overcome the procrastination, failure, and rejection that comes prepackaged with great work, and while we’re at it, what is your great work? How would you know, how can you find it?

We’ll explore all of this and more so get in here and let’s unleash your great work.

Okay. Welcome, everybody.

This is Amanda Crowell. I’m your host for the Unleashing Your Great Work podcast. And today I am joined by my very first guest, Dr. Alyssa Adams. She is an amazing clinical psychologist and coach. She works with successful, but secretly stuck entrepreneurs to address the root cause of their business problems so they can create more wealth, success and happiness without fear holding them back.

Welcome, Dr. Alyssa Adams.

Alyssa:
Thank you. I’m really excited to be here.

Amanda:
Well, I’m really glad that you’re here. I am excited to talk to you.

As you know, that this podcast, the purpose of this podcast is to explore great work. So great work is, very specifically, it’s the work that matters the most to you. It’s work that comes out of your personal experience, creates a legacy, is done in community with other people who value, what you value, and it’s something that makes you feel alive when you do it. And I’ve known you for years. And I know for sure that you’ve been doing a lot of great work, but how would you… can you tell me a little bit about your great work?

Alyssa:
Absolutely. Yeah. So I think my great work may have evolved probably like many people’s, right? It takes some different shapes, has some different iterations until you kind of land on what feels like the most great of the work you wanna do during that time.

So for me, for my great work — the thing, that really gets me the most energized and the most excited, is to really help entrepreneurs who are stuck in some way. Right?

I believe that entrepreneurship has this opportunity to confront us at each level of growth, right? Where we’re struggling with different kinds of things, beliefs, subconscious programming, unprocessed emotions, stories that we’ve created for ourselves that are things that impact really every part of our lives.

But business tends to be the mirror that kind of brings them to the surface to explore and to untangle.

And I’ve found for, for many entrepreneurs is that that’s the real work that helps generate the momentum and the movement in their business. To be able to really untangle some of these things that are holding them back so that they can step into sharing their ideas to a broader audience, to, um, creating the wealth that they wanted to when they started their business, to let go of anything that makes ’em feel like an imposter or not enough in some way, to build confidence, to really get back to who they are and let that part of them shine in their business.

Your Great Work Should Be Authentic To You

Amanda:
Yeah. So that makes a ton of sense to me. I love that your great work is helping your clients do their great work. Really, because what you’re describing is helping them get out of their own way so that they can be who they truly are. So is this a story that resonates with you? Is this an experience that you’ve had?

Alyssa:
Yes. Absolutely. Yeah, for sure. And I think for me, it kind of showed up in all different ways in my business, right? It’s these subtle things where you write a post and don’t click the button to submit it. You write a blog article and don’t post it. You plan to send something to your list and you don’t, and you have these emotional reactions when you see somebody else doing what you wanna do, or you feel like I didn’t even realize I had these doubts about myself until I was confronted with this thing I wanted to do, build the successful business, help people in these certain ways, and then having to tackle all that inner stuff that comes up was huge for me.

And I think like many client-based service-based entrepreneurs, especially in the early phases of my business, I thought like, oh, I just need strategy. Like, do you just tell me what to do? I’ll do it, I’ll follow the things. And, you know, something will happen.

And to some extent that’s true, right? Like we need strategy, of course. And I did create success with that, but there was always this limit to how far that could go until I really started to explore, like, what is happening here?

Amanda:
Yeah.

Alyssa:
What are all of these doubts that are now bubbling to the surface? What is this story that I’ve created about my own potential or who I get to be in this context? And, you know, those were things I came up from my academic training.

From graduate school, what we were sort of taught to believe, or what I took on from my parents and other people who were in more traditional nine to five jobs, like just all of these things I sort of adopted that were really putting a lot of roadblocks up for me. So it helped to explore those and to really let my own self come through without all of that conditioning that I kind of picked up over my life.

Amanda:
That makes sense. Can you tell us an example of a piece of conditioning? Like something very specific, like I wanted to, I don’t know, you have an amazing podcast, The Uncommon Couch podcast. You’ve been doing it now for like a year and a half. Is that right?

Alyssa: Yeah. Yeah.

Amanda: You’re my podcast hero. So, um, maybe it’s that, or it could be any other sort of, you know, moment when you wanted to express a part of yourself, like what exactly got in your way? How exactly tell us just like a, a very concrete story about how you were able to face part of who you were conditioned to be overcome it, you know, without fighting with yourself and, and engaging in amounts of shaming and all that to overcome it, to actually do it.

Alyssa:
Yeah. Uh, I probably have like 20 examples I could pick from. Um, the one that comes to mind is that, you know, I feel like I’ve always been a really intuitive person and I’ve always had these kind of, maybe out-of-the-box ideas.

I am really interested in these sort of like unknown realms of intuition and psychic realms and kind of the depths of your psyche. Like all of the things that are kind of, um, maybe a little bit more outside of the box. Right? So I’ve always been interested in these things. Always kind of felt intuitive, but had so many messages throughout life.

I think that like, oh, well that’s not a career. Like that’s not a thing that you can do or even tell people that you’re interested in. Cause it’s too weird. Right? Um, so that kind of message. I think I got a lot.

And then when I went into my graduate training program, there was, there was some explicit talk I think, around like, well, you actually don’t use your intuition. You kind of, you know, like a pilot, you trust your instruments, you know, like you trust your assessments, you trust the things you can see, like you don’t use intuition because it’s wrong.

Um, so I was like, okay, well I don’t… I don’t actually know how to, to like extract that part of myself, but I will try. Um, so I think I kind of adopted these things, right? Like you kept getting that message like, Hey, what you’re naturally thinking is wrong or what you’re wired to believe is wrong. And, and also it’s not something you can, uh, integrate into your work with clients, whether that’s as a therapist or a coach or whatever, like it’s just not supposed to be there.

So I think for a long time I kind of just played that game. I just kind of adopted that belief. And when I started my own business, it was still there. Right? Like that belief was still there. That story was still pretty entrenched there.

I think I hit a point where I had to just get really, really deeply honest with myself that like, I wasn’t really building the business that was truly authentic to me that I was still kind of shutting down these parts of myself. And, and also I had no boss. Like I get to decide what I put out there.

Amanda:
Mm. That’s a wake-up call.

Alyssa:
Right? Um, so to get like that, that radically honest with yourself to say like, what am I actually just not recognizing that needs to come into this? So then I started openly talking about intuition.

Amanda:
And how did it go?

Alyssa:
Well, I think nobody freaked out nothing crumbled to the ground. No one sent me any nasty messages. Not that I think I would’ve cared anyway because I was like, yeah, like it, it actually fine. Um, to talk about these things that I think were really important, it was really freeing, um, too, to even say I do intuitive business coaching. I do intuitive readings or I weave intuition into my business. And here’s how.


Amanda:
Unleashing your great work is sponsored by The Aligned Time Journal.

As you think about great work, you might think, okay, but how, how do I figure out what my great work is? How do I make progress on it? How do I overcome procrastination, burnout, and perfectionism? What I like to call the three horsemen of the goalpocalypse?

My answer to that question is use The Aligned Time Journal. It’s a whole person time-management system that will keep you moving forward on your great work without ever feeling overwhelmed.

Click the link in the show notes to check it out, give it a try and get busy, unleashing your great work out into the world.


Your Great Work Will Change Over Time

Amanda:
You know, one of the really interesting things that you said, you said it towards the beginning was that your work, that your great work has shifted over time. And I think that there’s a way that, you know, in this conditioning that you’re mentioning like one of the, one of the maxims or the ideas that tends to get like lodged in people’s psyche and cause them a lot of problems is this idea that like 99% is the same as zero, as opposed to like 99% is the same as a hundred, right?

Like that you’re almost there or any, um, actually that’s a Will Smith quote from his book Will. So I just wanna be sure that I’m honest about where that came from, but you know, I think a lot of people feel that way — that if you’re not the best if you’re not the top, if you’re not the Einstein, if you’re not the, you know, Michael Phelps or whatever — you should just not be a scientist, you should just not be a swimmer because what is the point?

And I think one of the interesting things about great work, when you look at it, um, across the greatest people we know, right? They didn’t start, you know, on the top of Mount Olympus, they started like, you’re telling your story, right? You start by starting a business, doing what, you know, how to do in the way that you feel safe doing it.

And over time you learn something and you shift and then your work changes. And sometimes it looks like there’s a big pivot. And sometimes it looks like tiny little shifts that get you closer to your honest, authentic voice.

Can you tell us, I call that, you know, the movement of great work, that great work just has movement. And I think it’s important to honor where you came from. Like that was great work too.

It was the greatest work you could do at that time. I’m curious about your history. Like what, what kind of great work did you do before you arrived at this, your most, your current iteration of the most authenticity you can bring into your great work, but what came before?

Alyssa:
Yeah. Uh, absolutely. Um, so my training, my background is, uh, I specialized in neuropsychology and health psychology. So that meant that I did a lot of health psychology work. A lot of people who were coping with chronic illness, um, I worked in hospitals, so then I went back to school to become a nutritionist.

So when I started my business, my coaching business, I thought, well, I’ll be a health coach. I’ll do health coaching. That’s what I knew the most. That sounds reasonable. Made sense. Yeah.

Um, it was interesting to me that was my dissertation and master thesis. Like I was really in it, you know, for a long time. And I realized that I was just pretty saturated with thinking about and talking about health. I just, um, kind of hit a limit. I just wasn’t, um, what I thought it was gonna feel like.

So I transitioned, um, and we were actually working together at this time. Um, surprise! Um, Amanda was my, my first business coach when I was, um, starting my business.

Amanda:
That’s right. We go way back.

Alyssa:
Way back. We do, we go way back. And, um, I moved into the space of doing more relationship coaching. Cause I, you know, I like, I care about relationships. I, I liked talking to people about them. Um, so I started doing relationship coaching, which taught me a lot. And I thought actually was a really good experience.

Although during it, or towards the end of it, I was like, I don’t think I’m in my zone of genius here like, I’m doing it. It feels okay. I’m helping people, but it’s like, so it’s when you hit up against that place of like, I can do this, but I don’t really want to do this. It’s not my thing. You know?

Amanda:
One of the things I loved about working with you, I loved all of it. But one of the things I really liked about working with you is that you learned everything through action. You were like, Hmm, do I wanna be a relationship coach, let me get 16 relationship clients. And then I’ll see what it’s like to do that.

And that’s another piece about great work that I think’s really important is that it’s driven by action. You can’t know, you can’t think your way into it. You kind of have to live your way into it. Has that been your experience?

Alyssa:
Absolutely. Without a doubt, it’s been my experience and, um, I think for better or worse, I like to move quickly and take action on things and, and experiment honestly, and try stuff.

Um, I feel like a lot of my career has been that way or my interest, you know, I’ll take action, move fast into something and then you get to get feedback. Right? Like you get to use that experience and decide, do I want more of this or is this a no? And I get to keep moving. Um, as long as you’re honest with yourself, right?

Amanda:
Right. Cause you can get deeply entrenched in the well I said I would. And so I better. Yeah. And part of the reason you move quickly, I, I would guess is because it feels great.

Alyssa:
Yeah. Yeah. It feels like I’m in a relationship with my life or my business. It feels like it feels like we’re kind of dancing together. Like I’m thinking about something, well, let’s see how it goes. Let’s try it out. Right? Like let’s get into those experimental waters and kind of treating it as a, an experiment or a game. Let’s try this, see how it goes.

Um, and I, I think that if you’re not trying it or you’re not moving into any action, you just don’t know, like you can only go so far in your head, as you said, and then you find out so much faster, right. Instead of spinning your wheels, thinking about it for six months, like, well, let me try. And then in three months, you know, not for me, let me keep it moving.

Amanda:
Or I can’t believe I get to do this. And I can’t believe how many opportunities are and I mean, opportunities. They do flow when you’re being who you are and doing your great work. They come your way fast and furious. And I know you’ve experienced this too.

And I think another one of the underlying skills of great work is somehow balancing this desire to move quickly and be in a relationship with your life and find things out and grow as fast as you can and do as much as you can and be the best and do the, all the great work possible against being a human being who gets tired and wants to have like relationships with other humans. And I don’t know, play Sudoku, whatever it is that you wanna do. So I don’t know. Have you struggled with that at all?

Setting Boundaries to Avoid Burnout is Important!

Alyssa:
Oh, navigating that line. Yes. I think that’s been one of my like core theme struggles forever, I think, right. Is I like to be moving. I like to have momentum. I like to be in action. And also I don’t have a tremendous amount of energy, um, just to do like output.

So I think learning about my own limits, what are the things that drain my energy versus what are the things restore it in, in like on purpose, trying to build those things into my day and my week has been like a, a, probably my whole life kind of learning experience.

Amanda:
What’s an example of something you’ve learned?

Alyssa:
Yeah. That, um, I love one-on-one work. I love client-based work. It’s been something that’s been a thread in probably my whole career since 2003. I think I realized that one in my first role in psychology, but it’s tiring for me. It doesn’t matter what kind of work it is, but it is tiring. There is some energetic tax that comes with it. So in order to do it, because I also love it, I needed to really think about like, how much of this can I do until I kind of hit my max.

So for me, that just involved of like structural changes in how many people I allow myself to see every day. And that means having these limits around, okay, well this is it. Like, even if you, you know, someone needs a session at a certain time, I’m like that day is full. We need to look at a different day because I realize that when I’m doing kind of, of creative work too, if I’m like writing or creating content or recording a podcast or, you know, working on emails, it’s not as energetically taxing to me. I could do that for a longer period of time. And kind of feel okay, but it’s the, it’s the output. It’s the exchange being with others that, although I like it, there’s a limit.

Amanda:
Yeah. That’s such a great example too, because it’s so difficult to listen to the voice in your head that says, this is a boundary for you because it would be great to have another client who’s paying you more money, or it would be great to have people like you and, and be the one who’s there for them and showing up and helping them and like, you know, there’s dopamine involved in those interactions. Right?

And yet I feel like really learning to hear the honest truth of what you can do and how best to do it is, is like a ninja skill. It feels like quitting. It feels like giving up, or like acknowledging something that like, shouldn’t be true about you, but I’ve actually found, and maybe you have too, is that when you actually work within your limits, the work you’re doing is so much better. The impact you’re having is so much bigger that even if you did 50% more work, you would still have less impact. Does that resonate with your experience?

Alyssa:
100% resonates. And I think when you click over into forcing it mode or pushing past your limits mode or exhaustion mode, and you’re still churning out something, right. Whether it’s content or client work or whatever, you know, that the quality is not what you want it to, you know, that you’re just pulling from this like super dry well, and it’s not having the impact that you want to, and it doesn’t feel the way you want it to either when you’re doing it. Yeah, for sure.

Amanda:
Yeah. Yeah. 100%.

Alyssa:
But I also think we get, we get this model or this example that we’re supposed to never have an off switch. Like we’re supposed to just go and go and go. And I remember having this conversation, you know, I lived in DC for a long time where there’s like very much a culture of go, go, go with many cities. Right. And I was doing therapy there working with some folks with anxiety and, um, which was common.

People had really high-paced lives, busy jobs trying to have a personal life. Like they were just all maxed out. Right? So I remember working with one of my clients who said something like, can you just help me not be tired? And I was like, okay. So like, let’s talk about what you have going on. And the person was working like 14 hours a day. They were working, waking up early to go to the gym. They were coming home and doing, I forget what the thing was that they were doing at home, but they had like something they were doing every day after work. And then they would come home and they were working on some sort of like project for work or like extra class that they were taking. And they were like, and I have to make dinner. And like, I don’t get to bed until like one or something. And then I wake up at like five or four 30 or something to work out and do these things.

Amanda:
That makes me wanna cry just thinking about it.

Alyssa:
I know, I, I remember having this conversation and I was like, so you, you want me to help you be a robot?

Amanda:
Right, right, right. We are missing the point. We, if you want a robot, get a robot code, some program to do whatever it is. If you want a human being to contribute, you’ve gotta honor the humanity of that person. Especially if that humanity, your honoring is your own.

Alyssa:
And to hear reflected back, right. This like, well, I’m actually not happy. I don’t feel fulfilled. I don’t feel good about I’m like yeah, of course. Yeah. Right. Um, right. Yeah. So judgment. Right? Like so many of us fall into this because it’s kind of, what’s what we think is the most available option to us. Right. We think it’s like the option.

Um, but I remember like having this moment where I thought, wow, like we’re all so conditioned or so, um, I don’t know, told that like, this is the way right. You maximize all your time, you work constantly, you know, you’ll sleep when you’re dead kind of, um, sayings that are just not helpful for, um, really anyone I think, but definitely most of us.

Amanda:
Right. But I think it’s interesting. I would say that at the core of the great work concept is a counterculture assertion, which is, if you wanna do your best work, you cannot do it from an exhausted depleted, miserable place. And I get a lot of pushback, like, but I have to like being miserable. Okay. They don’t say that. Right?

They don’t say like, I must be miserable, but they do say like, I can’t, I cannot turn down any work. I cannot back out of any commitments. I cannot tell these people, no, I must continue doing all of this stuff. And it’s like, you know, it’s one of these kind of these leaps of faith where it’s like on the one hand, I have to agree that when you look around at great success, what you see are a lot of people pushing way past their limits, right?

Like the CEO is probably working every night and every weekend and has been for 40 years, but at what cost, right. And a lot of people talk about their success in a way that describes that hustle mentality. So can you succeed and be very successful and be admired doing it that way? Yes. But I contend that there is another way you do not have to be so exhausted and miserable.

And in fact, if you really want the shortest path to your great work and what matters to you, and the contribution impact you wanna make, you have to take better care of yourself. You have to protect your resilience, like your protecting Scrooge Mcducks coins, gold coins, like it is your most valuable resource. Yeah. You know, and that of course is juxtaposed against the fact that doing great work, like doing what we love is exciting and invigorating, and we want more and more and more of it. And it requires actual management of yourself saying like, I know you could keep going, but we need to stop protect our resilience, connect with the people that we love, see a bigger picture of our life. Uh, and again, that’s just another one of those, you know, underlying skills.

Alyssa:
Yeah. There’s, there’s, um, some self-trust that has to really be there, like to really trust yourself, to be able to turn it off when it’s time or to acknowledge your limits or to communicate your limits or to just acknowledge that you have them. First of all.

Amanda:
Right. Like that stop trying to be a robot.

Alyssa:
I, I just think that there’s like freedom really, that comes with like some acknowledgment of that. Then all of a sudden you’re like, okay, well now how do I work within these kind of guardrails that I’ve set for myself?

What it’s Like to Work With Dr. Alyssa Adams

Amanda:
Yeah. And I wanna return to where we sort of started, which is you will be able to do more with less of an impact on your resilience when you’re doing what’s truly your great work. Yeah. When you are, as you said, like when you return to who you really are, when you’re willing to, to take the risks, to express who you really are ask for more of those opportunities and that’s really what you help people. Do you wanna tell us a little bit about what it’s like to work with you?

Alyssa:
Sure. Yeah. Um, I work with many entrepreneurs, many business owners, um, usually who are in a services-based role. So they have clients of some sort that they work with. Um, and really what we’re doing is the kind of under the hood work as I like to call it. Yeah. You know, we’re really exploring the thoughts, the beliefs, the emotions, the subconscious patterns, the shadow work really, that is all underneath your business and your life. Right?

So the changes that we make not only impact your business and create a whole lot more ease and less struggle, they also open doors in your life. Right. Where, how we show up in our business is often how we show up in our life. So the, uh, um, changes that we make, tend to kind of ripple out into these other facets of our, of our world.

Amanda:
And you have a ridiculous number of skills in this space, right? You’re a, a therapist and a coach, a certified coach and a hypnotist. Yeah. You have a lot of intuitive that you bring into it. Well, you are just remarkable. If the listeners wanna learn even more about you and consider working with you, how could they do that?

Alyssa:
Sure. I’m happy to share about where people can find out more about me. So you can go to my website at dralyssaadams.com and there’s lots of information on there about me and my programs and how I work with people.

Um, you’re also welcome to check out my podcast, which is called The Uncommon Couch, so good. And that is on Apple podcast or really anywhere you find podcasts. Um, and that deals with the inner work of business building focused on kind of entrepreneurs at all different stages of business building. Um, so to check that out, that would be great.

And I also have a free audio hypnosis for getting more clients and building confidence. So I will share that with Amanda too. And she can kind of pop that in the show notes. You’re welcome to download that free audio hypnosis, um, for clients and confidence. So I look forward to connecting.

Amanda:
You should definitely do those things. And Alyssa, I just wanna say thank you so much for being my inaugural guest on this podcast. You have no idea how nervous I was to do this for the first time. And you made it so much fun. Thank you.

Alyssa:
You are very welcome. And it was an awesome time to come here and chat and connect. And, um, thank you.


Amanda:
Thank you for joining me today on the unleashing, your great work podcast. If you like, what you heard, please subscribe and leave a five-star review, and hey! Don’t forget to check out The Aligned Time Journal.

You need support to get started, stay at it, and unleash your great work out into the world.

See you next time.

About the author

Dr. Amanda Crowell is a cognitive psychologist and business coach who helps accidental entrepreneurs get more clients and have a bigger impact. Amanda's TEDx talk has received almost a million views and has been featured on TED's Ideas blog and Ted Shorts. Her ideas have also been featured on NPR, Al Jazeera, The Wall Street Journal, Quartz, and Thrive Global.