My name is Christy Fechser and you are listening to All In The Name Of Growth. This is the podcast for women who are seeking inspiration and advice on how to design their life on their terms. We cover topics like mindset shift, setting boundaries, growing a business, overcoming limiting beliefs…after 20 years of marriage, raising a family, building several businesses as an entrepreneur and mentoring women for over a decade. I have a thing or two to share. I love helping women see their life with a fresh perspective so thanks for tuning in.
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Hey friends, thanks for joining me today. I am really excited to talk about our topic today. It is something that I am very, very…I feel very driven about, and that is how to advocate for yourself, why you want to advocate for yourself, how to advocate for others, and to teach others how to advocate for themselves. I know that probably sounds like a lot, but as I have been doing business for two decades, and mentoring women in particular for over a decade, it has come to the forefront of my mind that, especially as women, we have a really hard time justifying or advocating for ourselves, being able to stand up for ourselves basically. So for those of you who don’t understand advocating, what that actually means…it just means that you have your own back. It means that you are in your own corner and that you will defend yourself and that you will stand up for yourself and that you will basically not be the world’s doormat. That you’re going to stand your ground and make sure that you are taking care of yourself.
The first time I ever remember encountering a situation where I felt like I needed to advocate for somebody else was in high school. My brother’s best friend, who also really was like my brother – we were so tight and we happened to be in the same history class together. Our history teacher decided that it was his job to reprimand and call out this guy in front of the whole class about his grades… and I don’t know what it was… I don’t, I don’t remember a time before that, that hit me so hard the injustice and how unfair and disrespectful it was for another human to behave in such a way… And I called the teacher out in front of the whole class and told him that, that was totally uncalled for and disrespectful and none of anybody else’s business and that he should be doing that in private. And I think that that was the very first time, at least it’s the first time that I remember really coming to somebody else’s defense and being like, hold up. Who do you think you are? This is totally uncalled for.
The second time – well, not the second time… The other thing that stands out in my mind from high school… I just have to share a funny story. That was, it was advocating for myself. I was in English class and the teacher was very like, I don’t even know how to describe it kind of like morose. He wanted us to read a story by Edgar Allan Poe, which was not my brand, not what I was about. I like the uplifting, happy, like breathe life into people, kind of things, and he wanted us to read a book by Edgar Allan Poe and then write an essay about it. And when I kind of got the synopsis of what the story was about I was like why the heck are we reading this in high school? Like why are we not like reading something that helps to uplift our minds and inspire us and you know, make us want to be better people. It was just so bizarre to my brain. And so instead of reading it and writing an essay about it. I wrote an essay about why we shouldn’t be reading that kind of material while we were in high school. And luckily, for me, in both instances. Both of my teachers were somewhat receiving of what I wanted to share. With the history teacher he was just like, okay, whatever, move on. My English teacher did not give me an A (shockingly) on that. But he did give me a B on my paper. So it was, I don’t know. I guess my first instances of feeling like I had a voice and I wanted to be not just a defender of myself, but also a defender of those who didn’t have a voice, who didn’t feel like they could stand up for themselves.
And I don’t know how many of you are familiar with Enneagram, but it’s basically – they assign you a number that kind of talks about your personality and the way that you are and I am to the core an Enneagram 8. I am very much a person who will speak bluntly. I speak it the way that I see it. I’m not going to be one of those people that minces words. You will know exactly what I think. I had an instance last week where my daughter actually had a conversation with somebody that I was hoping was going to provide some clarity and it didn’t because that person was not blunt. They were totally beating around the bush about a situation that had happened. And instead of her walking away like, “Okay. I understand. I now have Clarity.” That was not the outcome at all. She walked away being more confused and like, what did that person actually mean? Were they saying this or were they saying the opposite of that?
And I don’t like, I don’t like that kind of communication. I don’t want to leave a conversation wondering what somebody meant. I want to know for a fact, what they’re actually saying is what they mean. And so I try to be that way with people… so I guess it’s less blunt, in my opinion, and more honesty. I like to be honest with people about where I’m at. Where, in mentoring, where they’re at, and to be able to just leave people with no doubt and I’m not the kind of Enneagram 8 that’s like in your face, being a jerk about things. That’s not my style at all. I’m not rude.
But anyways, I just wanted to kind of touch on why it’s important that we advocate for ourselves. And I think that what we were just talking about with the situation, with my daughter, is a really good example of why it’s important to be clear and to defend ourselves. So prior to…let’s back up a little bit, prior to this miscommunication that she had had, I had asked her if she had tried to create clarity and she said, nope. I just said everything is fine. And I think that that’s the way that most people operate in the world is that we’re “It’s fine. I’m fine. Everything’s fine.” When it’s not actually fine. And I hate watching people walk around saying everything is fine. When in fact, it is not fine at all. I think it’s so important that we speak up, that we, we speak to the things that are not fine. And that we communicate that with the people that can affect the situation. So I mean like it for example in high school, you know, when we were coming up against teachers who felt like they, you know, were there, the all knowing and all whatever and so they were going to just lay it out like they wanted it to.
Another situation though, which is actually also involving the school system. I homeschool my kids. I have for years. I like the freedom of choice, of being able to teach them the things that I want to be able to teach them… The things that I think are, that I lacked, when I graduated from high school, and my husband lacked when he graduated from school. And so I’m a huge advocate of choice and if you choose to send your kids to school, that’s awesome. I like whatever choice is right for you is the right choice for you. I feel very strongly about homeschooling our kids, and it wasn’t without base, right? When my daughter was in the third grade, I went in for a parent-teacher conferences and her teacher told me that she had a reading comprehension problem. And I was like, okay, why does my daughter sit in her windowsill for hours on end reading if she’s not comprehending what she’s reading. Like, please explain that to me and she said well, I don’t know, I all I know is that I gave her a piece of paper. I have a read a passage. I asked her to fill out the questions and answer to the passage that she read and hand it back in and it always comes back in blank. And I was like, okay, that has nothing to do with her reading comprehension. If you verbally ask her those questions, she would give you a total synopsis of everything that she just read. She doesn’t want to pick up her pencil. That’s the problem. And I realized in that moment and moving forward, there was a… there were a couple of other instances that led me to a starting homeschool. It just made me realize that I had to advocate for her because she couldn’t. She wasn’t old enough to advocate for herself. She wasn’t able to say I don’t like writing with a pencil, but if you ask me, I can tell you all the things you want to know. And it was actually interesting because the next year, I had her tested. It was the state testing and she was testing at a 10th grade reading level in the fourth grade.
So that’s why that one example, really, stresses the importance of advocating for yourself, and for your kids and for those around you that don’t have a voice for themselves. Because sometimes people just have misinformation or they make misdiagnosis or they jump to conclusions without having all the information. There was also an instance. I know it’s just like story time today, but I feel like stories help to be able to portray where I’m at, where I’m going, so that you understand instances in your own life and you can identify instances where maybe you can handle the situation differently, or you could just look at it differently or moving forward, how you handle the situation. If it, you know, appears in your own life, so we did put our youngest son into school for a couple of months in the last place that we were living. He really wanted some social interaction and I was busy trying to get my daughter off onto her, like next phase of life. And it just, it just felt right for him to be able to be in in school for just a brief time. We were in a small community. I thought, you know, a small school. It will be fine. So I was not sending him school without a way for him to be able to communicate with me however. So he had one of those little Gizmo watches that he wore on his wrist, in case he needed any help, or something came up during the day and he needed to contact me. I’ve always told my kids, you are always welcome to call me. If you are in a situation where you feel like you need to step out or you need to get away or like there is something happening that you don’t like, then excuse yourself to the bathroom and call me. So that’s what he did… He excused himself to the bathroom, and he called me and he said I feel really sick and I want to come home. So I was actually not there. I was not in town. I had driven out of town and I was going to be back later, but not soon enough to pick him up. And so I said, let me call your dad and he will come and get you. So just go tell your teacher that you’re, you know, not feeling well and that you need to go to the office and your dad is going to come and get you. So the next thing that I hear my husband calls me after picking him up from school and says so I went in to pick up our son from school today and the front office told me that he is not allowed to have a way to call home. And I was like, what? And he said, well, they told me that he’s not allowed to call home without their permission. And I was like, I don’t know if these people have met me before, but that does not fly in any form in my life and we had been teetering on the idea of pulling him out of school. based off of some other instances that were happening. But yeah, I was like, done, signed sealed, and delivered. Do not tell my son that he is not allowed to contact me without your permission. That does not even fly with me. And I think that it’s that kind of stuff that parents just let slide because school people say that it has to be that way when it doesn’t have to be that way and I’m not okay with my children, not having a way to communicate with me without somebody else saying that they have permission to. No way.
So that I think it’s just another one of those things where we just act like, oh, well, somebody told me that that’s okay. And so I guess I just have to go with it. And I am here to encourage you to question things. We are told, I mean all growing up in school, throughout school, through… from possibly parents or other people that are in our lives not to question. Just don’t ask questions. You’re here to learn. You’re here, to do what I say. You’re here… I mean we get that even at work sometimes… that we question something and are told do not question, just do your job, just do your homework, just do the lesson. Just whatever, do whatever I say. And I just don’t have the kind of personality. That’s like, okay, I’ll do what you say even though, it doesn’t make any sense to me, and I see that there’s a better way, or a different way, or I shouldn’t be doing this. That’s just not who I am.
And I strongly urge you to question when you it’s something that comes up in your life. That’s like hmm, “that isn’t sitting right with me. That doesn’t feel good.” Question it! Ask questions. And it’s not to say that everything that you question is bad, but we should be able to feel at peace with a decision or an action or something that somebody’s asking of us before we jump into it.
So a couple of years ago I had a publisher contact me and asked me if I wanted to co-author a book. And I was super, super jazzed about this opportunity because I wanted to write my own book for years. I actually have probably four of them started, none of them, obviously, completed. So, when I had this publisher reach out to me and ask me if I wanted to be a co-author in a book, I was like, yeah, absolutely. And they were like, okay well, here are the terms – and it was all kind of verbal. And I’m like, okay well, I used to work as a legal assistant and I’ve taken law classes, and I need a contract. Like I need to know… I want it all spelled out. What this is going to look like on your part, of what your expectation is on my part, so that we have a meeting of the minds and we understand each other. Because I don’t want there to be a fallout where it’s just like he said, she said verbally. And so I advocated for a contract and they kind of sent me something and I’m like, yeah, I’m not, I’m not, okay actually signing that contract… Here are the reasons why. And they were like, how about you make all the edits that you want to the contract and send it back to us and we’ll make those edits. And it was awesome. I felt good about being able to get into this relationship with this publisher because I was able to make the contract look the way that I wanted it to look. That it was an agreement that we were both okay with. And I think that it’s just so important, in professional situations, in personal situations, in all situations to be able to say, oh, I’m actually not comfortable with that. So can we look at this and find a meeting of the minds where we can both agree upon it? I think that there are just a lot of instances that we don’t question and we get ourselves in situations that we don’t like, and that need… that could have turned out differently had we spoken up.
So here’s an example of a time I did not advocate for myself, in case you think that I am always just advocating for myself. There was actually a time, probably five or six years ago, when I started seeing an upper cervical specialist because my neck was messed up and I needed help. And so I went to him and he – I went in to see him a couple of times a week actually to have my neck adjusted. And I had this really strong feeling at the time that I should be going and getting frequent massages as well as doing yoga at the same time to be able to strengthen my core and relax my muscles, because my neck had been out for so long that my muscles were always so tense, and I suffered from really bad headaches all since I was in high school. Because my neck was messed up and I said to him, I am wondering about going and getting massages and also being able to do yoga to strengthen my core. And he said, no, don’t do that while we’re doing this, just let’s do this. And then you can implement that at some other point, but not right now and not for at least the next few months.
And I was like, okay, I don’t really understand that. I don’t know why that would be the advice he gave me, that seems counterintuitive to what I’m trying to, the result I’m trying to get. And so I was like, okay, whatever he’s the doctor, I’m not. So I’m going to trust him. And totally regret listening to him! Because not long after that I was like, hold up this isn’t creating the outcome that I want. I actually ended up stopping seeing him and went to a different chiropractor that was treating the whole spine instead of just my neck. But my point is, is that I had ambition then and a desire to take care of myself in a way that was feasible for me, at that time. And after that, it was really hard to feel like, oh, I want to go get frequent massages and go to yoga, like, the moment had passed – and for years, I have wished that I had actually advocated for myself in that situation. And even if he said don’t do it, he didn’t have to know. He didn’t know what I was doing outside of going to see him for adjustments. I should have done it, and it is something that I regret not doing. So it doesn’t matter if it’s a doctor or a teacher, or a boss, or a spouse even, or a parent. It’s so important that we understand where to draw the line, and how to draw the line, and how to speak up for ourselves.
I actually have been teaching my youngest son this concept over and over and over and over. So we were helping my sister-in-law move not too long ago and my son came to me and he was like, I’m really hot and overheated. I think I just need to go lay down because I keep feeling like I’m getting lightheaded. And it was really hot in the moving trailer. It was just a hot day in general. And I told him, thank you for advocating for yourself because I don’t know what’s happening on the inside of you. I need you to tell me what’s happening. And I definitely want you to go and rest for a minute because we don’t need to be dealing with like heat stroke or dehydration or anything stupid. But that’s something that is so important. Even with my husband. I was talking to him about some health goals that he had and I was like, well, you know, I think that we should blah blah blah and he’s like, I guess I didn’t even think of that because I guess that isn’t the thing that comes to my mind first is to advocate for my own health or whatever. And I’m like, oh my gosh, will you please start doing that? Because it is really important that you do that so that I know how to better support you. I don’t know what’s happening on the inside of you? I don’t know what is in your mind or in your body. I don’t know what’s going on. You have to communicate that and that, that is advocating. Communication is advocating and it’s so important that we stop feeling guilty about questioning, or stop feeling like you don’t have a voice to be able to say what you need to say. It’s so important that we are advocating for ourselves and our loved ones and the people who don’t have a voice. So that we can stop the people that are trying to take advantage of or overstepping their bounds or doing things just because that’s the way it’s always been done.
So two or three years ago, we were going through the adoption process for two brothers in Vietnam. And they wanted us to get a tuberculosis test. I think that is what it was. And it was going to cost like several hundred dollars each, for my husband and I to get this test. And I was like, why are we being tested for tuberculosis? Like the chances of us, being and living in the United States, getting tuberculosis is actually very slim. And why would we need to test for it? Vietnam doesn’t require us to have that test in order to enter Vietnam. Now, for the boys coming out of Vietnam, they would have had to be tested for tuberculosis to enter into the United States because their chances of having it are much higher than ours are.
And I contacted the adoption agency I was like, okay I just want to understand why we need to have this tuberculosis test. From everything that I can see, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, explained my concerns, and I didn’t want to shell out – I mean, adoption is really expensive – and I didn’t want to just keep shelling out hundreds of dollars needlessly, just because somebody told me, I had to. I wanted to understand why we were getting this test and the gentleman said, huh? I’m not really sure. I think that it’s probably just because it’s the way it’s always been done. Let me check on that. And so he went and researched and came back to me. He’s like it turns out you don’t actually need that because it’s not something that’s required. It is just something that’s always been done. And I was like, oh my word how many times in life do we follow suit? Of something that is, it’s just because it’s the way it’s always been done. Not because there’s an actual reason behind it. It’s just, maybe it applied 50 years ago and it doesn’t apply any longer. Why are we still doing that? That is why we question. That is why we ask like, why are we doing this? It doesn’t make any sense.
To me, the other aspect of advocating for yourself is sometimes when you advocate for yourself, it’s because you need somebody else to be accountable for themselves. So, let me give you an example of what I’m talking about. Last week I think it was, my husband, we were on a walk and he said, I’m so frustrated. and I’m like, what’s going on? And he said, well, there’s a new guy at work – and so for those of you who don’t know, my husband is a software engineer. He is brilliant. So we were having this conversation about this new guy that started work not too long ago. And he said he broke the whole system, and when it, when you break the system where my husband works, like, it means that people can’t run payroll all across the country and he said, he broke the whole thing. Nobody can run payroll and he’s like, I am gonna have to spend the whole day fixing this situation and I was like, why isn’t he fixing it? And he’s like, well because it’s going to take forever if he fixes it. I’m like well, why don’t you just roll back the code to what it was before he broke it and upload that because everybody was functioning before and then he can work on fixing the problem and he’s like, well the problem is he didn’t test it and he didn’t this, and he didn’t that. And I’m like, look this guy doesn’t know what he doesn’t know. It’s your job to make sure that one you’re advocating for yourself and saying I’m not doing your work for you. I’m not fixing your problem. But also that you’re telling him, look, this is the problem that you created. This is how it happened. And this is why you need to fix it. And this is how you’re going to fix it. And in the future, make sure that you’re thoroughly testing before you’re uploading code. He was like, I just don’t know how to have that conversation with him without it being like this big thing. and I’m like, whoa, this doesn’t have to be a big thing. And so I like coached him on exactly what he was going to say to this guy so that it was a learning experience. Not a like you’re so dumb. Like why did you do it this way? That it could just be just matter of fact. It doesn’t have to be like degrading, it can just simply be. Hey, the thing you did, it broke everybody’s code and nobody can do anything. I have rolled back the code and re-uploaded it. So everybody can keep working. In the meantime, you need to fix the code that you wrote and you need to thoroughly test it before you put it up into production. And so we get back from our walk. He goes and has this conversation with this guy. literally like five minutes later, he comes in. and he’s like, takes a deep sigh and I was like did you do it? and he’s like I did it. It was so scary. and it was like ya but you didn’t die and it was okay, right? Like it wasn’t a problem. And this is like this was a huge thing for my husband because he is a perfectionist to the core just like I am and he would rather just fix it then to try and explain to somebody else how they have to fix it. So for him to tell somebody else like hey, this is something you need to work on. This is something you need to fix and this is how you’re going to fix. It was huge for him.
He wants to be able to actually move into leadership and management and be able to even move into his own business. And you can’t have that those kinds of positions without being able to clearly articulate why somebody needs to do something for themselves, to fix a problem, or to do things in a certain way. And so it was a big deal for him, and I was so proud of him for standing up, not only, for himself to not, break his own workload down, because he has a project that he’s working on himself, but also to be able to help this other guy understand the necessity of testing and making sure things are functioning properly before he uploads because If we don’t correct behavior in the very beginning when it starts, it becomes so much harder to correct the behavior further on down the road and that is true of ourselves. That is true of our children. That is true of our co-workers, our employees. Whatever that is. It’s actually even true for the people who you feel like have leadership over you, who have some kind of jurisdiction or something over. You, you teach people how to treat you in advocating for yourself. That is one of the best ways to be able to help them understand where your limits are and where you will not let people cross over any further.
Now, that leads us into a whole discussion about boundaries, which I’m not going to cover today because that’s a whole topic in itself and also something I’m also very very passionate about people understanding, but I will save that for a different episode.
Today I just want you to be able to understand why it’s important for you to advocate for yourself, how to advocate for yourself, and why we also want to advocate for those around us and teach them how to advocate for themselves. Because if we all had clearer boundaries, if we all functioned in a way that said, this is where I am, and we all communicated clearly, there would be way less miscommunication, way less hurt feelings, way less drama in our lives. So my challenge for you today, as we part, is for you to just look at your life and the situations that you’re coming into contact with, people you’re coming into contact with, and being able to learn how to and identify when to advocate for yourself, be able to stand up for that.
So I would love to hear back from you. So on my website you can go to christyfechser.com/podcast, and I’ll actually put it in the notes for the podcast as well. I would love for you… there’s a form on there where you can send in suggestions or comments, things that you want to learn more about, things that you struggle with. Please go fill out that form. I would love to be able to make this podcast applicable to you. That’s why I’m here. That’s why I’m doing this. So, I hope that this was helpful for you today. I would love any questions that you have any comments, suggestions, thoughts that you want to share. I would love to hear back from you. So until next week. I hope that you have an awesome week. Talk to you next time.
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