Act 2: You're On!

Talking Transformation with Anita Kite, Ph.D., MA, MCC

October 10, 2022 Kate & Rhonda Season 3 Episode 2
Act 2: You're On!
Talking Transformation with Anita Kite, Ph.D., MA, MCC
Show Notes Transcript

Do you compare yourself to others or some ideal and always come up short? Do you see yourself as simultaneously better than and less than others? Do you often beat up on yourself for even the smallest mistake? What is your inner critic costing you? And are you asking these things? Even though maybe outward measures say, you're a success?

These poignant questions come to us by way of Dr. Anita Kite, a leadership and couples coach who has worked with over 350 clients. Her key areas of coaching expertise include navigating uncertainty, managing difficult conversations, giving and receiving feedback, achieving work-life integration, navigating power dynamics, and managing distributed teams. Anita is often driven by her passion for adult and organizational learning, as well as her fascination with humans' unique capacity to continue to evolve, grow and improve Anita believes transformation happens through self-awareness and self-acceptance. In this fun, candid, poignant conversation, you’ll gain insight and practical skills - so dive in.

Highlights include:

“I would say that awareness is the unsung hero of transformation because it seems so non-action-oriented, but it actually provides a great basis from which to work. Its baseline: where am I at?”

“So the deal is to have that self-awareness, as an opening, to have some self-compassion and Self-awareness, and from that place, begin to make some subtle changes, not having that awareness as another way to sort of put yourself down.”

“...the question isn't really what do you want? The question is, what are you willing to do in order to get what you want? That is really the key question. And so, thinking about what is the effort that you're willing to put in the action-oriented effort that you're willing to put in? So transformation, unlike in Hollywood, or in some books, even I guess, is not a flip of a switch? Right? It is a slow, incremental process. But as long as you're making these steps - over time, they will accumulate into something bigger. And ultimately, over time, they will create that bigger shift.”

“...your task is to win the chess game. Given that some of the pieces aren't glued down. You have to be able to win the chess game with the pieces that are glued down. You can't move certain pieces. And when those pieces don't move, and you accept that it opens up another world of possibilities, but the more focused you are on the things that you can't change, the less it is apparent to you what else you can do.”
For more information on Anita Kite:
https://www.linkedin.com/in/anita-kite/

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and let's set the stage for a grand entrance. It's Act Two.

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You're on.

Rhonda:

Greetings, friends. Welcome to Act Two: You're on. I am Rhonda Garvin Conaway, and today I am joined by my lovely

Kate:

I'm Kate Leavey. And we're joined by our lovely behind the scenes producer Cathy Carswell.

Rhonda:

It's a good team. And that's good news for everyone. Because in our studio today, we have a very interesting and helpful guest. So sit back and ask yourself these questions. These are questions that our guests poses on her website. And it's something for us all to think about: Do you compare yourself to others or some ideal and always come up short? Do you see yourself as simultaneously better than and less than others? Do you often beat up on yourself for even the smallest mistake? What is your inner critic costing you? And are you asking these things? Even though maybe outward measures say you're a success?

Kate:

Those are fantastic, provocative questions,

Rhonda:

Aren't they?

Kate:

Oh, those are good.

Rhonda:

Yes, they're so important. And I did not come up with them. Dr. Anita kite came up with them. And she's here to help us navigate through those kinds of questions and kind of thinking Anita is a leadership and couples coach who has worked with over 350 clients. Her key areas of coaching expertise include navigating uncertainty, managing difficult conversations, giving and receiving feedback, achieving work life integration, navigating power dynamics and managing distributed teams. A need as practice is often driven by her passion for adult and organizational learning, as well as her fascination with humans unique capacity to continue to evolve, grow and improve Amen. I need a believes transformation happens through self awareness and self acceptance. Welcome to the show. Anita,

Anita Kite:

I'm so excited to be here. Thank you for having me.

Rhonda:

We're thrilled that you're here.

Kate:

Welcome. And with that bio - boy, does it visit feel like you are a woman of the times - that we are all struggling with some aspect of what Rhonda just mentioned, and there is such a shortage of folks who can help us unpack the uncertainties of life. So it seems a very timely conversation. But it also seems like you were built for these times. So welcome.

Anita Kite:

Thank you. Yeah, so I set my time machine and I landed just right.

Kate:

Thank goodness,

Anita Kite:

I'm so grateful. Yeah, I could you know, who knows where I could have ended up? So yeah.

Rhonda:

Well, I feel like this is a topic on the tip of everyone's tongue. And I'd love us to begin by talking about transformation. It's a universal characteristic in act 2, 3, 4 of life. So tell us more about the notion transformation happens through self awareness and self acceptance.

Anita Kite:

Yes. Okay. So I would say the first thing is that you can't change anything, if you don't know that it's happening, right? How can you change it if you're unaware of it? So the first people like to rush into change, but they skip an important step, which is just kind of becoming aware of what's going on? What are you saying to yourself, what's happening in your head? That awareness is really, really important. As the first step, I would say that awareness is the unsung hero of transformation, because it seems so non-action-oriented, but it actually provides a great basis from which to work. Its

baseline:

where am I at? That said, sometimes what happens is that people become aware. And then they use that as sort of another way to beat themselves up. So they're sort of like on doing that thing. And again, dammit, I'm sort of like, well, we just took a turn back, you kind of take the detour, and then you get end up back where you started. So the deal is to have that self-awareness, as an opening, to have some self-compassion and Self-awareness, and from that place, begin to make some subtle changes, not having that awareness as another way to sort of put yourself down. That was a lot, but I hope, I hope that was a clear answer.

Kate:

Oh, I thought that was really clear in such fine points, because I think we do tend...we're living in this age that detaches us from ourselves. So we're not very e. And then I love the point that you just made about, then we take this one step is one inch into s, and then we beat ourselves with it. And we look at it as opportunities to scold as opposed to saying, Wow, this is interesting. This is data and you to become that kind of neutral observer is, is a great skill, but boy, it seems to be hard to acquire.

Anita Kite:

It really is hard. There's a lot of noise, internal and external noise. But I always think of that saying in management that's like, you know, the beatings will continue until morale improves. And it's that same like concept with ourselves, we think like, I'm just going to beat the crap out of myself, and then I'm going to improve. And of course, it just doesn't work. So I do think that having a moment to just sort of notice what your voice is, and then do something that kind of breaks you from that, from that voice, like in other words, sometimes it can be helpful to think what I'm saying to myself right now. Is that what I would say to my best friend, yes.

Kate:

And I have a very hard-hitting, intimate question. And that is, Why did you break up with why?

Anita Kite:

I did. I always say that why, and I had a deep love affair. I loved why so much, deeply, deeply. I loved why I loved why because I thought if I just totally understood where something was coming from that would somehow miraculously make it stop. And what I've learned is that it doesn't. So if why is happening in the present moment, cool. But if why happened when you were four, in the absence of that time machine I mentioned earlier, it's not really going to help you. So why is less important? In my view, then, what am I going to do next to make this be different so that my behaviors and my thoughts serve me now, today?

Kate:

I like that. That's a good clarification.

Rhonda:

That's so helpful. Because I think there's a lot out there about the why, and being in touch with your why. And I don't hear you saying that's wrong. But it's really important not to stop the conversation there.

Anita Kite:

That's right. What's my why in terms of the context of what you want to do next for yourself, what's your purpose and your passion? In that context, you can reunite with why, but in the context of trying to figure out why you're doing a dysfunctional behavior myth, you don't need y, you don't need that version of why, per se.

Kate:

That's a good clarification. And you know, because y is such a, it's such a topic that people discuss, but the difference or that line in between leaving the question, living in the questions, and then living in that over analyzing and relentlessly beating yourself up with the questions and those it's a fine line. But I think that's a really worthy conversation.

Rhonda:

I feel like you're talking about forward motion. And on your website, something else you talk about is folks needing to have the willingness to do the work. And that to me says how do you move forward? What does it really look like? So tell us about that. If I'm listening at home, and I've begun the work, and I am doing the inner stuff? Is that enough? Like what what's it going to take to really embrace transformation, and have the desired outcomes I'm longing for in my life?

Anita Kite:

That is? That's really, really a great question. I would say that there was a blog post that I had read a while ago, but I really, really liked it. And the gentleman who wrote the Post said, you know, we all ask ourselves, what do I want? And he said, that is sort of a cheap question, what do I want? I want a six pack? You know, I want to I want to yacht I want whatever. But the question isn't really what do you want? The question is, what are you willing to do in order to get what you want? That is really the key question. And so thinking about what is the effort that you're willing to put in the action-oriented effort that you're willing to put in? So transformation, unlike in Hollywood, or in some books, even I guess, is not a flip of a switch? Right? It is a slow, incremental process. But as long as you're making these steps, over time, they will accumulate into something bigger. And ultimately, over time, they will create that bigger shift.

Kate:

Well,I'm going to jump in because I was thinking, again, it's these like, these little fine lines between the what do you want and the Who do you want to be? Because I feel like the Who do you want to be is much easier for me. And maybe that's because I love to live in the questions as opposed to what do I want to do?

Anita Kite:

I want to be Yeah, I think that's great. I think asking yourself who you want to be. Or you could flip it and say, How do I get to be more of who I already am? Yeah.

Kate:

Because that's active work, as opposed to just dwelling in the question. It puts the action to it.

Anita Kite:

I mean, that was the whole point is to say that you really want to be action-oriented, you really want to take it doesn't have to be a giant step. You don't have to wake up and do a 180 but as long as you know that you are putting One foot in front of the other, you are making one small, incremental step, then eventually over time, you will see some meaningful shifts.

Kate:

And in looking at your material in preparation for today, this is a question I want to ask and and what is the power of small things over time.

Anita Kite:

And I'm glad that you brought that up. Because I was I was thinking about that, as I was answering the previous question. Many years ago, I took a trip to the Grand Canyon. And it was amazing it was, it was majestic. It was it was just, it's just all the odds firing I recommend it is on everybody's bucket list. But I always remember that if this sign that was placed everywhere, kind of stuck in my head, and the sign said, something like if every person who visited the Grand Canyon through one because you have this urge to throw a pebble in right through one little pebble in in and it had this calculation, it was like you know, whatever, you know, 25 days, the entire Canyon will be filled. This is pre COVID. Of course, it was winning the grand canyon, probably a lot more. But it really what really struck me about that is that that is so true about transformation, we think it's just one little thing, but every little piece adds up. And it makes cumulatively a really, really big difference. So you can do a bunch of bad little things over time, and really put yourself in a bad place. Or you can do a bunch of really good things over time and put yourself in a much better place.

Rhonda:

I love that that's very freeing, and empowering, and forgiving. We've all the thing that we all need once.

Kate:

It's practicing self-compassion, and it's coming at the world with that lens. And do we turn that lens on ourselves, which is so important. We just did this

Anita Kite:

Awesome.

Rhonda:

Anita, in your work, you have shared that folks are often experiment with some of our clients about the power of 15 minutes. And we were in the midst of it. So we're looking forward to finding what people discover about that small thing? And did that, you know, did that - was that enough? Or did that do the trick? And what does that add up to? So it seems really relevant to what we're discussing here today. addressing their inner critic. And I think there are many terms that are synonymous with inner critic. People call it a variety of things, right? I've heard the term Gremlin before. The ego, you name it, it's been interchange. But for you - What does inner critic mean? And what's important for everyone to understand about their inner critic,

Anita Kite:

Oftentimes, and this goes back to this idea of like paying attention, our inner critic, it's, first of all, I would call it the judge. It's the judge that judges you, judges others, and judges circumstances, we need that to some degree, right? That's, it's an adaptive thing that evolved over time, it's when that kind of takes over your life and sort of infuses everything that happens, and your entire experience of everything. And that can become almost like white noise. Like we don't even hear it, right. It's just in the background. But I do I often say we're sort of in a cult of our own making, which is to say we're constantly telling ourselves things every single day, and it is often that that the voice of that judge or that critic or whatever you want to call it that it is informing what we think. And part of what you want to do is be a little - uh - kind of turn this word critical on its head, but be a little discerning about that voice, if you will. There's a lot of fake news that comes out of our heads, right? We don't we were you know, the funny thing where your kids go, you know - Where'd you hear that - well, it was on Tik Tok? Well, it was on the internet. If that your brain could just go in that list too. Well, where did you hear that? Well, it came out of my brain, oh, well, then it must be the word of you know truth? Well, no game, your brain produces a lot of crap. So there's a lot of stuff that comes out of your brain that has no basis in reality whatsoever. And that often stems from that judge. So looking at it more with a more with more discernment, can really, really help you kind of separate from it, and distinguish what is what are the facts from what your judge your I mean, seriously, if you we talked earlier about you know, people that do social media and advertising and everything Wow. If you want to get someone to do like promotional materials, it's your judge, that guy can sell anything. I mean, you know, you can really sell yourself a bill of goods through your inner judge or your inner critic, and you have to be really discerning about that.

Kate:

And in the in this light of being in a digital age and over stimulated, and the noise, noise, noise that is coming extrinsically but also intrinsically, I wonder how that has shown up in the work that you've been doing in the last five years of this digital explosion.

Anita Kite:

I think the key word is intentionality, you can be distracted 24/7. If that's what you want, you have to decide if you're going to create space for yourself in your life and what that space will look like. So sometimes I've worked with business leaders who decide who say, well, I need more self reflection. So I'm going to put that time on my calendar. And then we meet, and I'm, like, saw that self reflection go, and they're like, I just didn't know what to do. So I started like, answering my emails, okay, so you need the combination of the time set aside, and then some intention for that time, like during that time, I'm going to focus on my breath. During that time, I'm going to focus on something, I'm going to do an accounting of what was really good about my day. So it's sort of the combination of setting aside explicit and specific time to shut up the noise, and then giving your brain something to anchor to, right, because we're so used to being stimulated and phones and emails and you know, social media and TV and all that. But if you just kind of, it's like, you know, it's like the plane coming to a hard stop, you got to give yourself some runway. And so giving yourself something to anchor to during that sort of respite is really important.

Rhonda:

I really appreciate that. And it makes me think of the initial question we posed to you about transformation, beginning with self-awareness and self-acceptance. For some folks, when they hear those terms, it might feel a little bit ambiguous, ambiguous, would say an

Kate:

ambiguous

Rhonda:

thank you. It might sound a little bit like that or esoteric, I got that one. It might sound that way. So that concrete example of what self reflection could look like, it requires breath, maybe it involves journal writing. Can you give us a few more examples for folks who are listening?

Anita Kite:

Yes. And I do love that. And I am a fan of the of the concrete because otherwise, it's what I call like, the Hallmark greeting card of advice. It's like that's good, I can self-actualize. Thank you for that. So I totally appreciate that. Okay, so what are some grounding exercises. So a couple of things. One is some people find it helpful to rub their thumb and forefinger together with enough tension to feel the ridges on both fingers. Some people find it helpful to feel all 10 of their toes. Some people find it helpful to watch the rise and fall of their chest. Some people find it helpful to tune in and hear the closest and the most ambient sound. You can tune in while you're eating your lunch and pay attention to every flavor, texture, whatever it is in your mouth. These are all ways that you can anchor yourself to the present moment, you can feel your butt in the seat of the chair that you're sitting in. It's just something that anchors you to right now. And that can be really, really grounding and helpful. So you don't have to go to nirvana or listen to nirvana or any we probably will have the opposite effect of having you feel centered. But yes, you that all any of those things could be helpful.

Kate:

Yeah, so those great suggestion, yes, anchored yourself, return to yourself. And just being like, in the present with a tiny little thing that is not super fancy. It's not super challenging. But I do think people get overwhelmed and like, Okay, this is my time to return to myself, and I'm going to do it. And then you're like, oh, maybe I don't I don't like sitting with. I don't even know how to sit with myself. So even just that little thing, those little prompts. Those are wonderful. I love that. So in this complex game of life, is this chess game? Gosh, what is necessary? What do we have to do to win this thing?

Anita Kite:

What do we have to do in this? Okay? Yes. So I have this metaphor, and it is I'll be honest, it's a nod to my husband, who actually is a chess player, yay for the nerds. But what came to me at one point, I was talking to client and I said, you know, and they were very focused on what everyone else was doing and what their circumstances were and how impossible they were and how they couldn't do. They couldn't change and they couldn't change and they couldn't change it. And I said, Look, your task is to win the chess game. Given that some of the pieces aren't glued down. You have to be able to win the chess game with the pieces that are glued down. You can't you can't move certain pieces. And when those pieces don't move, and you accept that it opens up another world of possibilities, but the more focused you are on the things that you can't change, the less it is apparent to you what else you can do.

Rhonda:

That reminds me - Kate and I met through the arts and she is my leader, director and one Part of her motivational preparation she does before our choir performs, she says you can count on three mistakes. And it's like those chess pieces just know they're not going to move. So with acceptance of that, then you can actually play and engage and have a good time.

Anita Kite:

You're not worried about it.

Kate:

Just you reminded me of that one?

Rhonda:

Well you are both Brilliant. To bring your, your creative higher mind to it. Like if you hit a wall? Well, there's so many ways to like, can you go over the wall and under the wall? Can you poke the wall, maybe it's not even there. Or maybe there's a friend who gives you a boost up, it's just inviting yourself to look at things from a different angle. And boy, you know, we get so stuck in the literal world. And it's just so busy that we get we we get trapped, or we can't get to the your higher creative mind. And sometimes we need a Dr. Anita Kite of return us to ourselves or offer us just these reflective ways. And some of them might be really hard. Or it might be just too simple. You reminded me of my mom twiddles her thumb. And I really feel I don't know if it is meditative for her. But I've always sort of, yeah, I sometimes do that. And it makes me think of my mom. But it also just makes me think of the feeling of my thumb skimming over each other. And it's just a simple action that kind of centering brings me back to myself. And so I really appreciate that. And I do think that, that that well, first, I just so appreciate your humor and your energy, and the ease, like you're so accessible. And I think that this can be such an intimidating topic. And yet the world is desperately in need. And we know that there's not enough people available right now to cope with a tremendous amount of mental health issues, that that living through this challenging time. And not only COVID. But the world just seems to be pulling us in so many different directions. We're overstimulated, we're hurting. We need help. And I suspect you're doing a lot of good stuff. So thank you for being in existence. And thank you for sharing....

Anita Kite:

I didn't have anything to do with it.

Kate:

Ha - yes, that's true, you did not create this difficult chess game. Or, maybe you did glue down those pieces...

Anita Kite:

I did, I glued them down - no, but I didn't have anything to do with my being here. I just got here. But um, but you know that, but I agree with you. And I think there is no one silver bullet. So it's not, it's important to have your kind of bag of tricks that you can go to, so that you because it is so complex. And there are so many things going on, so that you've got like perspective taking and you've got, you know, rubbing your thumb and forefinger together and you've got having a conversation with your friend and all of these different things. They're none of them in and of themselves are meant to be the answer. It's, it's knowing that you have a bag of resources.

Kate:

And it's also knowing that so you have your tools, but maybe you've emptied out your entire tool kit. And then knowing that there are otherwise people out there who have their whole bunch of tools that maybe can be a compliment to you. Or they'll just fill you up in a way that you know, you haven't been able to, to fill up in a while. So this is a great conversation, and it's in, it's great to know that there's a resource like you out there. So.

Rhonda:

And I'm excited because we're at one of my favorite parts of our podcast episodes where we ask our guests, if they had a golden nugget they could share and leave for our listeners, what would it be? What kinds of things would you like to impart on our audience? So we can do a little bit better in this game of life? Yes.

Anita Kite:

Well, thank you for asking that question. I would say that you need you in your corner, even if you need help from someone else. And I know that sounds very, I just had a moment of feeling like I was channeling Fred Rogers or something. But still, you need you in your corner. And so - but when the judge or inner critic or whatever that other voice comes into play, which it will, you're not going to you're not going to get rid of it. One of the key things I think, is to not argue with that voice. So what happens is that people get in the mode of like, no, but But you say that I suck, but I did this and I did that, and I did this other thing. And what always comes to my mind is that adage that says the opposite of love is not hate, its indifference. If you start arguing with that voice, you're still giving it energy. If you're whether you're embracing it or you're trying to push it away, it's pretty much two sides of the same coin. What you really want to do is try to disengage from that voice and that is a little bit of what we've been kind of dancing around here with this, you know, feeling your thumb and forefinger rubbing those together, you know anchoring yourself to something and some physical sensation in the present moment, the value of that is that you're trying to create a break in that loop, the reason that you have gotten into the state that you're in is because you're in sort of this thought loop, this negative thought loop that just becomes reinforcing, whether you're telling it to go away, or you're wallowing in it. And the idea of breaking, continuing to sort of just even in nanoseconds, right, you're gonna break up, I noticed that negative thought, and then you're gonna break it for a nanosecond, and then it'll come back. But each time you do that, you're beginning to reinforce another neural pathway, you're trying to create another loop in your brain that's more of a positive loop that allows you to bring your brain from where it's going to where you want it to be, which is right here, in this moment, right in front of you, the anxiety is always in the past or in the future, it's never in this moment. So the more you can kind of begin to cultivate that habit of bringing yourself back to the present moment. The more accessible you will be peace will be to you is basically what it come down to.

Kate:

Sitting with it, maybe giving a little ear to it, but just also sitting with it and knowing that you can also invite it to move on that you don't have to stay stuck here. And it's I think that is super valuable.

Rhonda:

Oh, yeah, I appreciate that you're here, but I don't

Kate:

Thank you for your feedback and move along. That's need you Oh, that's right. Good. I'm gonna think about that one for a while. So I usually like to be the nugget person, but I'm the timekeeper. And so we're coming to the end of our time, which is so regrettable, but before we go, we wonder what what's coming next for you what, what's on the docket?

Anita Kite:

You know, as you know, I coach a lot of individuals. And I think that work is a really fun that work, enjoyable and meaningful and powerful. But I'm becoming increasingly interested in how we relate to one another. So I, I'm a big fan of the work of John Gottman, who does a lot of work with couples. And so I am increasingly working on how that sort of taking a lot of what we've talked about today can translate into couples working with one another in ways that are more productive, because we need one another, we need to lean on one another in ways that are supportive and productive and not in destructive ways. Right? None of us are meant to be here by ourselves, we're meant to be in connection. And so I think that there's I'm very interested in doing more work with couples and also teams in the corporate context. So....

Rhonda:

That.s going to make a huge difference for many people who are listening today. I can't imagine you not being a leader for all of us who want to do a little bit better and be a bit more connected. So thank you for this conversation, for your time, your generosity, all the strategies. This was chock full of wisdom, and how tos. So we are grateful for you today. Thank you very much for having me.

Anita Kite:

It's fun, super fun.

Rhonda:

And we also want to let folks know that if you're interested in knowing about Anita, you can find her on LinkedIn. That's Anita Kate, she's on LinkedIn. And you can also reach out to her at her email address. Akite coaching@gmail.com.

Kate:

I will certainly be doing that. But I want to say also a special thanks to our talented producer behind the scenes Cathy Carswell, we couldn't do it without her. She brings the magic.

Rhonda:

That is true. So thank you friends. And I think it is left for me to say go forth. Be brave. Live well and do good. Because it's act two

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Kate:

I do like coffee.

Rhonda:

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Kate:

...so we can keep providing resources for the doers and dreamers to find connection, purpose and the skills needed to create a sustainable, fulfilling life to better serve the world. And also so we can buy more coffee.

Rhonda:

Oh Kate, thanks for listening everyone.