Save Your Inner Tortoise!
Learn how to Cross the Finish Line Joyful and Satisfied
Perfect Bound Softcover
On the cover of Carol Courcy’s SAVE YOUR INNER TORTOISE! is a photo of a tortoise wearing a helmet, a large red rocket strapped to its back and wheels! Carol laughed when seeing it for the first time as it “fit” with how she felt in her own life-- a bit exhausted by life’s demands and in need of protection as the helmet suggests. It was the rocket strapped to its back that compelled her to use the image on the cover. Those of us who hectically push our way through life need boosters to get ourselves through our many tasks and responsibilities. (Boosters like caffeine, sugar, long workdays, working on weekends and vacations or fitness classes to build stamina.) Carol thought many of her readers would find the cover humorous and a reminder of Aesop’s fable about who won the race between the tortoise and the hare. If you recall, the story is about a hare who ridicules a slow-moving tortoise. Surprisingly, the tortoise challenges the hare to a race. When the race starts, the hare speeds off leaving the tortoise far behind. Confident of winning, the hare takes a nap midway through the race. However, when it awakes, the hare sees the tortoise crawling slowly but steadily across the finish line. Only then does the hare realize the error of its strategy.
Like the hare, we exhausted self-sacrificing, never-enough overachievers assume that at our furious pace we can cross an ever-increasing number of finish lines. (We will get help or rest soon. And soon hasn’t come yet.) As with the hare, we too sometimes find out too late we have used the wrong strategy.
Is now the time to SAVE YOUR INNER TORTOISE? This is an ideal book if more of the same in your life is NOT an option. You will learn simple and effective ways to undermine undesirable patterns of self-doubt and second-guessing that fuel exhaustion and overwhelm.
The aim is to make your journey across your finish lines satisfying—RIGHT FROM THE BEGINNING. If you bring genuine interest, leave the WHAT and HOW to Carol. Welcome!
Calling all fellow self-sacrificing “never enough”overachievers! Helmet a bit too dented? Too big a rocket on your back? Need a good rest? Want to retire from this life strategy? Me too. I began my retirement about 15 years ago.
In the mid-1990s, like many fellow self-sacrificing never-enough overachievers, I was driven in life. I pushed and pulled hard to give what I thought others wanted or needed. On the surface I looked successful—if not a bit tired or harried. If honest with myself, I thought I was damaged goods or flawed in some profound way. I didn’t think I was overachieving at all. Despite compliments, promotions, bonuses, kudos, and positive assessments of me and the work I completed, whatever I did wasn’t ever enough. I never quite measured up. I could always find someone else to compare myself to unfavorably. My ever-striving sensibilities had me always coming up short in life. There was always something more I could have done. Should have done. Any attempt at satisfaction or pride was trounced by my internal “itty bitty bitchy committee”hollering about what more I needed to do or should have done. Mind you, on the outside I talked a good professional game. I smiled a lot, thanked people for appreciating my work, and accepted their congratulations graciously. However, on the inside, the “never enough”flourished. Few knew of my personal worries about measuring up.
As a coach and lifelong learner, the approach I now take is one of increasing well-being rather than fixing something that is wrong with me, my clients, or their organizations.
My turning point in 1994 was Martin Seligman’s Learned Optimism that turned me toward finding ways to increase well-being. He offers:
I have learned that it is not always easy to know if you are a pessimist and that far more people than realize it are living in this shadow.
A pessimistic attitude may seem so deeply rooted as to be permanent. I have found, however, the pessimism is escapable. Pessimists can in fact learn to be optimists.
My “never ever quite enough”did indeed have a pessimistic shadow. I was pessimistic about my talents. That fed my fear of never measuring up and heightened my awful-izing (worrying) about my future. I had to please my customers and boss or else I’d never get work again. Seemed like a never-ending ride on a gerbil wheel.
I had an aha moment thanks to Seligman. Simply calling it pessimism and considering I could learn optimism fired up hope that I could indeed leave the shadows of my personal flaws for more lightness of spirit toward myself and more feelings of happiness and fulfillment.
Although insightful, I was left wondering exactly HOW one does that. I was hungry for more. I read other books on emotions by Daniel Goleman, the Dalai Lama, Candace Pert, and Paul Ekman. Great information and insights there too. However, the path to how to live in more desirable emotions wasn’t yet obvious to me.
I wanted an owner’s manual with instructions.
Another fortunate turn came during my second ontological coach training program. Although already a Certified Coach, I wanted to be a credentialed Master Certified Coach. (Of course I’d do a second course and get a higher credential. I am after all an overachiever—one is not enough.) I posed the “how do I leave my pessimism?”question to my Mentor Coach Jan Goldman, PsyD, whom I considered a masterful teacher and coach. Gratefully she took my question seriously, and through working with her I opted to pursue what turned out to be two life-changing strategies. In our early meetings, I discovered a pattern of never staying with a thing long enough to become masterful at it. I was a “jumper.”Easily bored after the first sets of challenges were successfully completed, I would switch. (I went from retail to ski instructor, to high school teacher, back to retail—this time in management—to consulting and training, entrepreneur business owner, executive, etc., etc., etc.)
Jan offered that without an ability to deeply feel satisfaction, I would continue to be driven to always do more and be better than expected, resulting in a habit of overextending, worry, and exhausting hours at work. I was driving myself somewhere fast without declaring my purpose or conditions of satisfaction. BIG MISTAKE.
What dramatically changed that life pattern were two of Jan’s coaching “homework”assignments: 1) Learn the emotion of satisfaction and 2) think of a question that I would enjoy researching for at least ten years. (Ten years? Was she kidding? What kind of question could possibly hold my interest for ten years? Didn’t she remember I was a “jumper”?)
I am usually a quick study. However, much to my surprise as a 40-year practitioner of “never ever enough,”I found a simple emotion of satisfaction perplexing to learn. As usual, my second-guessing habit engaged full throttle. Isn’t satisfaction akin to laziness? Won’t contentment cancel out all my ambitions for promotions, bonuses, better jobs, better bosses, more clients, or better companies? This is the wrong coaching assignment. In fact, isn’t satisfaction un-American, undermining our economic system? Fortunately for me, my coach did not buy into my justifications.
As it turns out, satisfaction was the best of emotions for me to learn and practice. The same is true for others wanting to exit their excessive self-sacrificing, never-enough, overachieving ways. Remember, tortoises don’t jump—they consider and change course.
Being an “ever striving”person, having no satisfaction as a counterbalance was a surefire route to exhaustion and disillusionment: anger for my staying too long at a company or in a relationship; regrets for not staying long enough in a good situation, and my pattern of unreasonable guilt for not doing more. Over time I developed a good case of long-standing resentment that I was STILL not happy after all that work.
Fairly early into the assignment I discovered I actually liked satisfaction. My days, although busy, felt less pressured now that I had an “enough”point. I started to leave the office on time, pleased with my day’s efforts. I felt a new sense of freedom. Free to say yes or no to projects. Love for my work reappeared. My fears of laziness never materialized. My ambition had some boundaries. My tendency to overcommit lessened with practice. The promotions, bonuses, and kudos kept coming. I simply worked fewer hours. With more time on my hands, I had space to think about the meaning I wanted for my life. Gratitude began to appear on a regular basis. I got a glimpse of joy and found it tantalizing.
I was on to something here. Those realizations launched me toward my ten-year research question:
Can we really (and I do mean REALLY) spend more time in the emotions we prefer than in the ones we dislike?
I had spent a lot of time in dislike, worry, feeling coerced to be better. Could I undo long-term patterns? Could I support others in doing the same?
Turns out, yes—a resounding and profoundly gratifying yes.
That original proposition started in 1994 and thankfully continues to this day. As I learned satisfaction and dozens of other positive emotional attitudes along the way, my curiosity also expanded to new questions:
Can we bring back an emotion? I like how I was last week!
Can we lessen an emotion’s hold or effect? I am sick and tired of feeling this way.
How do we extend and strengthen an emotion? I want more of this in my life.
And thus my passion for understanding and teaching what I call “emotional agility”was born. To my profound satisfaction and joy, you are reading the result: a book of simple practices that will help you create new emotional habits that encourage your version of satisfaction and joy.
Carol Courcy is a Master Certified Coach serving clients and companies world wide for more than 20 years. But, 15 years ago, in spite of her outward success, Carol had become a habitual self-sacrificing, resentful, overachiever. Like kudzu, resentment had taken up residence in her emotional landscape. She was angry with her bosses for not giving her what she felt she deserved. Though it was painful, when Carol's “Aha!” moment arrived, she said a compassionate “Hello!” to her own inner tortoise and stopped strapping a rocket to her back 24/7. Carol came to understand her little pal's natural wisdom. Burning herself out had truly diminished the joy of her journey and put much of what she treasured at risk. So she designed the powerful but simple practices of emotional agility, with a commitment to help others save their inner tortoise too. Carol welcomes anyone familiar with burn-out, overwhelm, exhaustion, disenchantment desiring more joy and satisfaction from life.Also visit www.saveyourinnertortoise.com
Perfect Bound Softcover