• Nikki Trotter, MS, M.A., SHRM-CP, ACC

Updated: Sep 18

I am making $200,000.00 a year,

but I don’t feel successful!

I’m a Sr. level leader being fast-tracked to be CEO,

but I don’t feel successful!

I’ve recently won several awards and accolades for my performance

and yet I still don’t feel successful!

I look successful! But I don’t feel successful!


I feel 100% unfulfilled; in my life and my job because I’ve spent most of my life “working” and not enough time “sowing” the seeds of my calling so that I can live a life with purpose in a destiny delivered and a dream fulfilled.


This story represents many of my coaching clients!


We get so caught up in the external markers and indicators of success that we fail to define what career success means for us.


In a changing workforce, volatility is constant, uncertainty is present, complexity is concrete, and ambiguity is acceptable; our definition of career success must have more substance and demand a higher level of self-trust, self-awareness, and self-direction.


Success is not one-size-fits-all, and this should never be our approach. It is not my role as a coach to tell my clients what success is for them. However, it is my job to help them explore their internal and external life experiences to identify what “success” means to them. In doing so, I have helped my clients discover that their journey to success is not solely based on those external markers. On the contrary, their success has been attributed to what means the most to them; the not-so-tangible, not-so-measurable, and not-so-objective things. And in the end, they have determined that success is defined as the things in their lives that are most valuable, subjective, and intrinsic.


If you want to get an idea of what a "new definition of success" would look like for you, that means you could seek to:

  • Experience a positive life-changing event vs. seeking change in a new position.

  • Create healthier boundaries vs. Increasing your compensation or financial status.

  • Make an impact for a greater purpose vs. focusing on profits and production.

  • Invest in yourself vs. hoping someone will see you as an investment.

  • Build a legacy of your own vs. playing a part in someone else’s.

  • Celebrate your achievements vs. waiting for a promotion or recognition.

These are just a few definitions, but success could mean so much more for you!


Just as my clients and I have worked to design and conceptualize their definition of success, you must do the same if you want to create a life that matters and has meaning to you; and only you. Because, like beauty, the true definition of success will always be in the eye of the beholder. And if you are in a race to catch someone else’s success or their definition of success, you will never win.


Let me know what you think about this post.


If you are ready to create your definition of success; and achieve it, email me at nikki@theiopcoach.com. Or, if you would like more insights and ideas on #career and #leadership, Sign-up for our coaching VIP list at https://lnkd.in/gdsAX-_s.


Nikki Trotter is the Founder and CEO of IO, LLC., a transformational coaching company.

I specialize in coaching professional women in leadership from the front line to the C-Suite.

I help my clients master the art of resilient leadership to take control of their careers with courage, clarity, and confidence.

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  • Nikki Trotter, MS, M.A., SHRM-CP, ACC

Our reality is someone else's perception, and someone else's perception is our reality! But which one is most important to you? Is it what you know to be the truth; or what others perceive as the truth? If we want to be honest with ourselves, we should always be concerned about our level of self-awareness and how we are showing up in the world. We should be worried about how the world sees us and how we are perceived by those we lead.


Understanding how we are moving in the world and having emotional intelligence (EI) is about demonstrating the capacity to have control of, express one's emotions; and handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically. And our EI is the internal operating system that tells us we have either said or done the wrong thing in the wrong place and at the wrong time. When this alert goes off, we have the ability to manage our emotions and understand the importance of the moment.


However, when a part of our emotional operating system (self-awareness, social awareness, relationship management, and self-management) becomes dysfunctional, our blindspots are magnified and perceptions, not connections are created instead. Then when perception becomes a reality to others, we are unable to build trust, be effective, and most importantly, lead from a position of strength™.


The "good news" is that we have tools in our arsenal we can use to reboot our internal system of emotional intelligence and reverse those negative perceptions to become a better version of ourselves, for ourselves, and our teams. The most effective tool for this is the Johari window concept. The Johari window is a technique that was designed by two Psychologists in 1955; Joseph Luft and Harrington Ingham. Their Johari concept posited that if we understand how others see us vs. how we see ourselves, we can work to close those gaps and ensure that our reality matches the perceptions of others.


Here is how the Johari Window technique can be applied to this.


The four quadrants of the window are:

  • “Open” (things known by self and others),

  • “Blind” (thing known by others but unknown by self),

  • “Hidden / Facade” (things known by self but unknown by others), and

  • “Unknown” (things not known by either self or others).

  1. Choose your peers: Identify people who you trust and who you think know you, or members of your team if you’re completing a team activity.

  2. Choose 5-10 words that you think best describe you.

  3. Get your feedback: Ask your peers to complete the same exercise, choosing 5-10 words they think best describe you.

  4. Plot your words: Place words both you and others selected in the “Open” pane. Place words that only you selected in the “Hidden” pane.

  5. Plot your feedback: Place words your peers selected but that you didn’t see in the “Blind” pane. Place the remaining words in the “unknown” pane. Alternatively, you can choose to leave the “Blind” pane empty.

  6. Review your Window: Review the words in the four pains of the window. How aligned is your view of who you are with how others see you? How open are you as a person?

I have used this tool in the past with my coaching clients and used it to change group dynamics and team development to improve inter-group relationships. Because this tool can harm you or your team if it's not applied correctly, I highly recommend it be used with the support or in partnership of a certified and professional coach and psychologist, especially if administered in a professional and organizational setting. Understanding who we are and how the world sees us gives us the information we need to become a better version of ourselves and a much better leader to others.


If you are interested in learning more about this psychological tool or if you'd like to administer this tool in a 1:1 coaching or a structured team setting, please feel free to contact me at nikki@theiopcoach.com; we can get the conversation started.


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Nikki Trotter is the Founder and CEO of IO, LLC., a transformational coaching company. I specialize in coaching professional women in leadership from the front line to the C-Suite. I help my clients master the art of resilient leadership to take control of their careers with courage, clarity, and confidence.

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  • Nikki Trotter, MS, M.A., SHRM-CP, ACC

Updated: Jul 13


Milk on the shelves of a hardware store
Are you shopping at the right store?

When I first heard this saying years ago, I wasn't quite sure what it meant. But now that I have had some life experiences behind me, I truly understand the importance and the relevance of it. Unfortunately, it was a hard lesson to learn because I was taught that it takes a village, and your village should be your most trusted source of information and inspiration in my time of need; personally and professionally. Although I respect and love those that I have in my circle; and those that support me I now know that this was one of the worse taught life lessons. And it is now one of the topics that come up often with my #coaching clients.


There are several interpretations of this statement, but for me, the saying "stop going to the hardware store for milk" simply means that too often we go to the wrong people and sources looking for the answers to our problems that they just don't have to offer. In fact, we often walk away feeling more lost than we did before; and in some instances, our situation is worsened because our village just didn't have the perfect recipe or the secret sauce (not even grandma) for our success. I can only speak for myself, but I am confident that you do not enjoy compounding your hurt and pain by continuing to take this approach and choosing this path. Let me ask you a few questions:


Would you go to a beauty salon to get your teeth fixed?

Would you go to an optometrist to have your clothes cleaned?

Would you hire an electrician to fix a leaking sink?


Absolutely not! So why do we continue to shop in places and spaces for professional, emotional, or psychological help when we know we will not get it? I believe I have an idea because I was once guilty of the same, but only you can answer that question. I think the more important factor is understanding the reasons we should immediately STOP going to the Lowes Home Improvement store, and Ace Hardware for the gallon of milk and START going to Krogers or Publix to purchase that milk for your breakfast cereal. And here are some reasons why:


Your family. They love you dearly; they are a part of you and you are a part of them. However, it will be almost impossible for them to give you an unbiased opinion on certain areas within your life that you want to excel in and propel forward. They are too up close and personal to remain objective.


Your friends. Sometimes they believe that their advice and support are helpful, but oftentimes, their feedback is based on a version of their life's experience or what they perceive to be best for you. But their perception is not your reality and your life is not their story.


Your co-workers. You spend more than half of your life with these individuals, but they aren't able to show up for you because unless they are your "best friend," they don't have (and don't need to have) all of the pieces of information about your life that is needed to help you solve your life's puzzle nor the challenges you are facing. They know and see you through the lens of work, so they cannot relate to or empathize with you on a personal level.


Your spouse. Even the one person that adores you more than anything in this world cannot lead you to the right decision or validate you. It is hard for a spouse to invalidate things that are near and dear to you. Therefore, they may see this as an insurmountable challenge and be afraid that doing so may create an expectation of them that they are not willing to risk or live up to.


So, what should you do about shopping at the wrong store, for the right product?


Let's acknowledge that we have been going to our family about our marital issues, our co-workers about family issues, and our friends about our career issues. And now we need to step back, self-assess, and realize that we have been doing it all wrong; and in doing so, we are not making progress or accomplishing our goals in life. And because of this, we may have missed out on some life-changing opportunities due to their lack of expertise, knowledge, or wisdom. And we must be determined to never make this same mistake again.


Now, don't misunderstand me, I am not saying that these important people don't have a significant role to play in your life, but what I am saying is that you need to start understanding what brand of milk you need to add to your shopping list and then know which grocery store you need to visit to purchase it. This means (1) identifying what you need, (2) why you need it, and (3) who is the most knowledgeable and skillful person you can reach out to that can meet you where you are and help you to get exactly where you want to go.


If you are shopping for milk, again that would be a grocery store. But if you need spiritual guidance; seek out a spiritual advisor, if you are struggling with a mental illness; consult a clinical psychologist, or if you're looking to design your future; hire a COACH.


We fail ourselves and we lose valuable time in our personal and professional lives when we waste time shopping in stores that don't sell the products we need. In contrast, we save our lives and increase our level of success when we can discern not only which stores we need to shop at for milk but also recognize when we don't need another gallon of milk but instead need to walk across the street to the hardware store for those nails.


Does this article resonate with you? What has been your experience in shopping for milk at the hardware store? I would love to hear your thoughts.


Nikki Trotter is the Founder and CEO of IO, LLC., a transformational coaching company. I specialize in coaching professional women in leadership from the front line to the C-Suite. I help my clients master the art of resilient leadership to take control of their careers with courage, clarity, and confidence.




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