Ep #44: Navigating the River of Shit

Navigating the River of ShitAs coaches, we take all of our clients through something I like to call the river of shit. We go through it ourselves on our own path to growth and transformation, and the hard truth is that if you’re doing it right, you’re going to end up in it.

The brutal reality of doing this work is that we’re all going to experience the river of shit at some point, and the work we do as coaches involves providing the tools and using them as oars to navigate through it to get to the other side. The misguided notions of what we believe our growth trajectories should look like is what sends us into the river, and this week, I’m showing you why this is what is supposed to happen and how to navigate it.

Join me this week as I show you what real progress and transformation looks like, and why time spent in the river of misery is not time wasted. Navigating through the river of shit is the real work for you to do, and as you practice this, you’ll find yourself getting through it faster each time you set a new goal.

I am so excited to offer you a podcast-only treat! I’ve created a five-day Unblock Your Confidence mini-course, and this is some of my best work. If you struggle with confidence and want to build more trust in yourself, stop caring about what other people think, get over your fear of failure, and start unblocking your confidence, you need to check it out. Click here to find out more!

What You’ll Learn:
  • How, as life coaches, we are selling our clients a deliberate trip through the river of shit.
  • What real progress and transformation look like.
  • Why we experience the river of shit.
  • How to navigate through the river of shit.
  • Why time spent in the river of shit is not time wasted.
Listen to the Full Episode:

Featured on the Show:
Full Episode Transcript:

You are listening to episode 44 of The Confident Coaches Podcast, the one where you learn how to navigate that necessary river of crap. Let’s go.

Welcome to The Confident Coaches Podcast, a place for creating the self-confidence you need to do your best work as a life coach. If you want to bring more boldness, more resilience, and more joy to your work, this is the place for you. I’m your host, Amy Latta. Let’s dive in.

Hello my confident coaches. How’s everybody doing out there this week? I hope you’re doing amazing. So listen, the Lattas, we have survived the first week of live in-person school here in Missouri. Even though there were some sleepless nights as the sixth grader worked through his anxiety of attending a new school with no transition days and no open house like we would normally do, not knowing how to open up his locker, only the sixth graders even got lockers.

He didn’t know how to open it, even though we tried to practice ahead of time on a combination lock. Was confused about getting from class to class. Oh my gosh, this poor kid. Have you ever helped your kid through a thing, only to realize you were talking to a younger version of you? That is totally what happened as I was helping him navigate this.

I was looking at him and just going, oh my gosh. At one point he said to me, he said, “Mom, I just lie in bed, I’m super tired, but my brain is just wide awake with thoughts that just keep going in all directions.” And I was like, dude, the story of my life.

So anyway, here’s the good thing with this. So parents who are also life coaches, the good thing is that we are life coaches with coaching tools and we’ve been talking a lot about thoughts and feelings. Little buddy and I have been talking a lot about our thoughts and feelings. I haven’t given him full-fledged life coaching, but introducing those concepts to him and kind of just giving him a safe space to just be able to vent.

Isn’t that a great thing to remember? That if all we do is hold space for our clients, they will be better off. There’s been a couple of moments where the only thing I’ve been able to do is hold space for my little guy. But man, watching him go through that, right? I mean, talk about loving your clients. This is my baby boy.

But with each day, he’s finally realizing that he’s not the only one and then he figured out how to open up his locker and he didn’t walk around in circles in this one hallway five times. So he’s getting there.

Anyway, here’s hoping that you are using your tools, my friends, for those days when your brain is like a runaway train of thoughts. Now hey, before we dive in, I just want to do a quick check with you, make sure we’re connected on Instagram. I’ve been giving a shout-out to Instagram lately if you haven’t been paying attention. I want to make sure we’re connected over there.

You’ve liked the Amy Latta page over on Instagram, that you’re following the Insta stories, that are you seeing the behind the scenes of what happens around here. You’ll get a couple glimpses of the baby birds and the little boys that I am raising. They’re not little anymore, let’s be honest. They’re in sixth and ninth grade now.

So make sure that you are following me at Amy Latta Coaching. My handle is @iamamylatta. Would love to connect with you over there. And speaking of runaway trains and anxiety and forgetting that you know things, that’s actually kind of where this week’s podcast episode came from. There’s a little inspiration.

Because here’s a little inside truth, and this is definitely what was happening with my kiddo. He was taking a little trip through the river of shit. He was definitely in a river of crap. And if we’re honest, we are selling our clients a trip through, like a purposeful, deliberate trip through the river of shit. It’s the truth.

If you are a good life coach, that’s what you’re selling your clients on. I’m doing it and you’re doing it too. Because transformation, transformation, it’s so amazing. No, it’s not. It doesn’t feel good, like, at all. Real growth, real transformation is crazy uncomfortable. Progress actually feels like moving backwards. Progress feels like swimming in mud.

And setting goals and taking consistent daily action, which stirs up all your doubts is what you’ve managed to avoid up until this point. Now sure, in a consult call, we’re taking our clients to this place where they can see what’s possible. We’re painting that future vision. What do they want to create if they can create anything?

And then we sell them on providing them the tools that they need to get from here to there. That’s our coaching. That’s what we’re doing in a consult call. But these tools that we’re selling them on, they don’t eliminate the river of shit. That’s now how this works. If anything, the coaching tools that we are selling them on stir up that river.

We kind of don’t tell them that, but that’s totally what’s happening, right? And this comes as a brutal reality to our clients in some of those middle months. So I work with clients six months at a time. My Confident Coaches mastermind is a six-month long program and many clients sign up for more.

There’s kind of a – listen, commit to this work for at least a year. And then you’re really going to see some transformation because I know those middle months, we’re just stirring up all your river of shit and you have all the tools, you have the paddles, and you’re like, shouldn’t this be easier? And I’m like, no, no actually it’s going exactly the way it’s supposed to.

So something that came up in a coaching call with my July mastermind, we talked about a book that I’m giving all my current clients right now called Atomic Habits by James Clear. It’s a great book if you’ve never read it, and if you’ve heard other people talking about it, now you’re hearing me talk about it. Go get a hard copy of it, go hit your Amazon and get that in there.

So in that book, he has this graph called the plateau of latent potential. Isn’t that so fancy? The plateau of latent potential. And the graph – so I will post an image of the graph in the show notes, but right now, the best thing I can do is just describe what this graph looks like.

So there’s a result or progress line going up from the axis. So the line going up is your progress, it’s your results. Time is going out across the axis. So there’s your right angle. You’ve got results and progress going up and time going across the bottom. And then there’s two lines within the graph. One of those lines is a straight diagonal line coming right out of the corner, like right at that 45-degree angle, straight at that 45-degree angle, nice and perfect and pretty.

Now but there’s another line and it starts in that same place, it starts in that same corner but it kind of swoops out and down for a bit across time without really going up in results or progress before it finally starts to curve up, and it eventually crosses that straight diagonal line and ends up even higher and faster than that diagonal line. Now, can you guess what these two lines represent?

Of course, that straight diagonal line is what you expect all of this bringing on a coach, being in a mastermind to look like. Straight, consistent growth over consistent time. This is what all of our clients are wanting too. It’s what your human brain is desiring also when you sign on with a mentor, when you sign into a program.

And that curved line however, so that straight 45-degree angle line is your expectation, but that curved line that sinks a while before it finally curves back up again and surpasses that diagonal line, that’s what actually happens. That’s what progress and transformation and growth actually looks like on a graph.

Now, here’s the fun thing. That space in between the two, so below that curved line that goes straight and when your results aren’t quite matching up with what you expected, that space in there – I was showing my clients today on my whiteboard that space in there – he calls that, so James Clear calls that the valley of disappointment. My own coach calls it the river of despair or the river of misery.

I just say those are all fancy words for why do I feel like I’m swimming in a river of shit? That’s what that space is. That’s you. Like, you’re swimming, you’re paddling, you’re doing everything you can and it is just full of excrement and crap because that is what’s happening. Coaching is going to take you through a river of shit.

Listen, coaching is supposed to do that. If it’s not taking you through a river of shit, then that’s not a good thing because there’s no growth or transformation or any real change if you’re not in it. So where does this river come from? It comes from the difference between those two lines.

So in my Confident Coaches mastermind, my CCM, we set regular goals, like how many clients do you want to sign in the 90 days, how many clients do you want to sign within the next month. We set regular goals with the intention of stirring up your doubt so we can coach you through it.

Of course, I want you to actually hit those goals, but for me, that’s the secondary purpose, that’s the secondary goal to working through the shit that’s keeping you from those goals in the first place. So yes, we set the numbers goals, and of course I want you to hit them, but more importantly than that, I want you to not just learn the tools I’m going to teach you but actually utilize them so you can learn how to navigate that river of shit.

You do that, hitting the number goals is the easy part. That’s the inevitable part. It’s the navigating through the river of shit that’s really your work. And here’s the thing; we get this intellectually. When we sign up for good coaching, when we realize, alright, I’m signing up for some real stuff here, I’m signing up for some true what are my thoughts and feelings driving my actions and results type of coaching, we know intellectually that it’s going to be uncomfortable.

But there’s this misguided notion that we’re going to find some doubt and then we’re going to replace it with a better thought to believe instead and sure, it’ll feel a little uncomfortable or maybe a lot uncomfortable for a moment, and then we’ll move forward. We’re thinking that this should be a short process.

And that that line will be straight and diagonal, progress and time working evenly and hand in hand in a fluid, smooth, forward motion. Friends, that’s not how life works at all. When has anything in your life ever worked that way, right?

Because our brain still believes all of those doubts. Just because we find them and point them out and find a new thought to think doesn’t mean your Helga brain, she still believes them. They’re hardwired. And we have to unwire them, and that takes time. That takes that lower swooping curve.

And the river of misery or the river of shit comes in because you’ll make the presence of those doubts mean that something is going wrong, and you’ll not only be feeling the discomfort of those doubts, but you’ll be resisting the discomfort of those doubts because you’re like, didn’t I solve this in one model last Tuesday? Why is it still coming up?

So then you’ll often add shame or judgment blanket on top of it all, really feeling really good now, aren’t you? So there you are. You’re questioning, you’re doubting, you’re thinking that you’re wasting time because that line is not a straight line like it should be. And you’ll start thinking I’m not going anywhere, I’m not making enough progress, I’m not moving fast enough, this should be happening faster.

And damn, if there isn’t always that one person or someone in the mastermind or maybe even a couple of people whose lines are not quite so low and swoopy as yours. Can I get a hell yeah? Can I get an amen on that one? And there you are. You are in it. In this river of shit.

You’ve done pushed off the island from where you were when you signed up for coaching, and that island is no longer in sight. That island that sure, it was uncomfortable and sure, it wasn’t actually safe, but you’d found how to be safe there, you’d found comfort in that discomfort, that island that you left, but you’ve pushed off that shore and you’re in that river of shit. You can’t even see it yet, but you also can’t see the next island yet.

It’s not quite in sight. You’re just in the thick. You’re just in it. And you’re probably hating me, you’re probably hating you, you’re probably hating your husband, you’re probably hating your dog at this point, right? If there was an audible representation for being in the river of shit, I feel it’s be something just like – your arms and your chest and you’re just like, get it off me, this is awful, because it sucks.

Alright, so what are we going to do about it? This episode isn’t just talking about hey, you’re in the river of shit, have a good time. How do we actually navigate this river of shit? So first of all, let’s stop judging the damn river. We’re supposed to be in it. This is what you signed up for. It’s what’s required for your growth. It’s the price of admission for your growth and for your success.

Any shift, any transformation, any growth comes with this difficulty. If it was easy, if it’s easy, if you’re thinking this is no big deal, then you aren’t pushing hard enough. You aren’t being pushed enough. The goal that you set isn’t far out there enough. Being in the river is not a sign of anything going wrong. It’s actually a sign of everything going exactly how it’s supposed to be going.

Now, when you notice it, your Helga brain will tell you something is wrong. And your first job is to remind her that this is a sign of the growth that you are in and the growth that is coming to you. Being in the river of shit is what is required to become the person that lands ashore on that next island. This is part of the process. This is the work.

So let’s also reframe this river just a little bit. If this is necessary, if this is part of the process and it’s absolutely supposed to be there, what if we reframed it just a little bit? Because I had this client consult today, going to be a new member in the September mastermind, who kept talking about what she knew she needed to do.

There was this understanding that there was this certain – and I’m using her phrasing – that there was a certain amount of glass-eating required for what she wanted to accomplish. Yeah, you heard me right. Eating glass. Glass-eating, like shards of glass. Imagine a giant shard of glass, I’m going to date myself here, but there’s an old SNL sketch with Dan Aykroyd selling really bad children’s toys and one of them is a giant bag of shards of glass.

That’s what we’re talking about. That’s what her brain kept telling her is that there was a necessary amount of glass eating in her growth. And sure, at first, it’s funny. Alright, I’m going to go eat some glass today. But then I pointed out to her that she kept talking about this like, I got to go eat the glass in order to get to the other side.

I mean, how motivated are you? I got to get up and eat some glass today if I’m going to make it to the other side. And I pointed out to her that just the subtlest shift in her thinking here could change that statement, which carries so much weight and ugh. Instead, she could choose to think, you know what, there is a huge transformation waiting for me on the other side. A new version of me that I can’t wait to meet that honestly is already a part of me now.

Yeah, it’s uncomfortable but it’s hardly shoveling shards of glass all day every day. It’s uncomfortable, but instead of big bags of shards of glass, maybe it’s more like finally ground down glass, which is sand, I believe, but we’re just going to run with the analogy here.

Like yeah, it’s emotionally painful and you’re going to want to resist it and it’s going to be uncomfortable to stretch yourself and to teach your brain that you can feel these uncomfortable things and to be in that state of cognitive distance where you’re still believing the doubt and you’re also learning to believe the new beliefs. But it’s also completely tolerable. It’s also completely doable.

And inside CCM, inside the Confident Coaches mastermind especially, you are going to learn all the tools that you need to navigate that river. A good coach is going to arm you with what you need in order to navigate it. And also, there’s no need to think about this time that are you navigating through this river as wasted time, as time that’s taking too long or it’s not going fast enough.

Now, that graph that is in the Atomic Habits book by James Clear, underneath that graph, he has this caption. So I’m going to share this. I’m just going to read his caption verbatim to you.

“We often expect progress to be linear. At the very least, we hope it will come quickly. In reality, the results of our efforts are often delayed. It is not until months or years later that we realize the true value of the previous work we have done. This can result in a valley of disappointment where people feel discouraged after putting in weeks or months of hard work without experiencing results yet. However, this work is not wasted. It’s simply being stored. It is not until much later that the full value of previous efforts is realized.”

That is the caption that he shares there and really understand what he is saying here. The true value of navigating that river of shit, of learning how to unwire those doubts and wire new beliefs and the ability to feel the feelings and feel the discomfort, all of those steps that I teach inside CCM.

The value of that will not be fully appreciated until farther along in that chart. It will come to fruition, and not only will it come to fruition, you’ll come out even higher than you expected. The end of the low dipping line ends up higher faster than the straight line. You will be blown away by what you are able to accomplish. You are able to accomplish way more than you initially expected. It’s just going to look a little bit differently than you had hoped that it would and that is okay.

This is not wasted time. And it’s so important to know that and learn that because my friends, there’s going to be future rivers every time you set a new goal, every time you up-level yourself in this business. You’re going to navigate a new river. But the more rivers you navigate, you learn, oh yeah, that’s right, I’m in that river of shit, I’m in that line versus expectation versus reality, I’m in that space in between, I’ve done this before, I can do it again.

None of that time is wasted. You learn so much about yourself and what you are capable of and how to do it faster with each river you navigate through. So there are lots of tools that you can use to navigate the river, and CCM is packed with them.

But one thing I shared with my current mastermind this week is something that I take my consult calls through. By the way, this is just super fun. I realized that one of the tools that you can use to navigate through the river of misery is actually something I share with everybody I’ve ever gotten on the phone with.

And that is to remember your answer to this question. Why can you not do this? I can’t not do this coaching business. And why? What’s the answer to that? Why is that true? So we do that by asking a few questions.

First, imagine your business in the next six to nine months. Like imagine yourself six to nine months from now. It’s a Friday and you’re shutting down for the end of the day, you’re looking around your office and you’re thinking, “This. This is what I wanted to create when I signed up last year. Like on a scale of one to 10, this is a 10. This is a 10 of what I wanted to create in this timeframe.”

So what would you want or need to see in order to confidently rate your business at a 10 in the next six to nine months? And once you’ve visualized that and once you’ve defined that, why is this so important to create? Because you don’t have to do this. Did you know that? You do not have to build this coaching business. But there’s something in you that knows you cannot not do it. What is that? Why is this so important to create?

And then what’s the impact of this business at a 10? What is the impact of this business on you, on your family, your relationships, your finances, your future? This visualization of your business at a 10, what is the impact of that business on your life?

And lastly, this business at a 10, it’s important because of those reasons why you can’t not do this, that’s important because of the impact it’s going to have on your life, what would it mean about you to be the woman that creates that business with that level of importance and that level of impact?

And it’s hard. And all of the tools I give you, imagine they’re oars and you keep dropping the oars and you got to go fishing for them, you got to remember what they were and which ones work best for you and how to do this again and why am I doing this again. This is why you’re doing it. This is why it’s worth it.

And reminding yourself that being in it doesn’t have to mean that anything is going wrong, and that there is no judgment for being in it. There is no judgment for being in the river of shit. You’re supposed to be there. And it’s so worth the person that you are going to become on the other side when you land on that next river bank.

Because you can’t not do this life coaching business, my friends. You know that. I know that. That’s why you keep listening, that’s why you keep plugging away, that’s why you’re going to navigate that river of shit. Alright my friends, now remember, until next week, let’s go do some epic stuff.

Friends, I am so excited to offer you a podcast-only treat. I am sharing with you the five-day Unblock Your Confidence mini course. It is only available to The Confident Coaches Podcast listeners and the only way to get your hands on it is right here. Why do you need this course?

Well, in this five-day mini course, you will learn why it seems like you struggle with confidence when others don’t, how to build trust in yourself, how to get over your fear of failure, how to stop caring so damn much what other people think, and the best thing you can do to unblock your confidence today.

All of that in just five days. This is some of my best work waiting for you. Visit www.amylatta.com/unblockconfidence to get yours. Again, that’s amylatta.com/unblockconfidence. Go now and get started today.  

Thanks so much for listening to The Confident Coaches Podcast. I invite you to learn more. Come visit me at amylatta.com and until next week, let’s go do epic stuff.    

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Hi, I’m Amy.

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I learned to create self-confidence and powerfully believe in myself first, and then built a multiple six-figure coaching business.

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