The way we see and manage our own life is ultimately what leads us to our kind of satisfaction. Going against the expectations and limiting beliefs of the society, we ultimately find how we can truly improve our own lives. Certified professional coach Jennie Bellinger dives into relationships and perspectives as she takes us into an inspirational story of growth, change, and moving past the judgment of others. Jennie shares her perspective when it comes to labels, breaking them down and to free ourselves from the limits they impose.
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Relationships And Perspectives Improve Life Satisfaction with Jennie Bellinger
How To Get Ahead In Life
Jennie Bellinger is a Certified Professional Coach that works with successful sales representatives in various industries to improve their overall sales process. To develop their relationships with clients, prospective clients and fellow business professionals, and improve their quality of life and job satisfaction. She has been a successful sales representative herself, owning and operating her own sales business for a few years before she pursued her coaching certification. Jennie is a proud single mother of two lovely young ladies who she knows are watching her every move. Jennie loves to spend her time with her family, friends and enjoys an evening on the town from time to time. Jennie, welcome to the show. I’m glad to have you and I can’t wait to hear your story.
Thank you so much. Where would you like me to start?
Go back to when you were a little girl.
I grew up in the Air Force. My dad was an Air Force officer. I grew up a little bit of everywhere over the years, mostly in the Midwest. We never got PCS overseas or anything. I spent the majority of my time growing up that way. I feel that growing up in the military was a major factor in who I’ve become as a grown woman because I have very little fear. I know if I can survive to move every few years, I can handle just about anything. If you have to pick up and life has the potential to be totally different in 30 days, which actually happened to us. I remember one time when I was about eleven or twelve years old. We got a call and the Air Force told my dad, “In 30 days we need you in Indiana.” We got that call when we were in Chicago but we were living in North Dakota. We had to travel back to North Dakota, pack up a house, and then move to Indiana in 30 days. It’s something that I realized that life changes in a minute.
Doesn’t that help you though? When you have changed, it is an inspiration for growth. Anytime we experience change and we learn how to expect it, we start to develop and understand our expectations in a lot of ways. The mere fact of moving that often and having many experiences, that adds to the quality of our life. To me, that’s what’s important. The experiences we have in summation create us into who we are.
Moving every so often gave me the opportunity to live life in a way where I don’t hold rock solid expectations. I’m much more flexible in my life. I’m laid back. If I am expecting a particular thing and it doesn’t happen that way I’m like, “That’s life.” Having grown up with so much change, it definitely was a major opportunity for growth. In fact, probably one of the major growing points for me was when we got PCS to St. Louis when I was in high school. I was super depressed because in high school you’re super social and you make these close-knit tight bonds with your friends. The Air Force up and made me move and I was mad to be kind. When we moved here, I was sad and depressed and upset. I was like that for about three weeks. I realized, “The only person I’m hurting is me.” I was trying to take it out on my parents and they were like, “She’ll get out of it. It’s okay. She’ll figure it out.”
What I realized is I had been this slightly introverted, quiet, bookish little girl all the way up to this point. I said, “Nobody at this high school knows what I was like at my last school. I can be whoever I want to be this time. Who do I want to be?” I decided I wanted to be the social butterfly. I wanted to know everybody. I created a goal for myself and my goal was that in every single class, I was going to talk to one new person in my first week. By the end of my first week of school, I had 35 new friends.
Your expectation though was that you were going to change yourself. I don’t think that expectations from others play a big role. We have social expectations. We have societal marriage expectations. There are expectations in everything because we can’t do anything without having an expectation behind it. It’s how you manage them that matters. What’s more important is that your core expectations set the pace for how you think and who you are. We see them in two lights, faith or fear. That’s my base premise with expectation therapy. I see how you can think because people who think traditionally about expectations think about other people’s expectations upon them. Society’s expectations, school, advertisers, there are millions of them. I threw them a lot. When you made that core expectation decision and created that core expectation, that’s where the epiphanies come in. At some point, you had an epiphany. Epiphanies don’t have to be these huge things, but you came to the realization that “No one knows me. I can be whoever I want.” There’s a beauty in that. For you to realize it is powerful and it shows how much control you have over you.
I didn’t realize how powerful that was at the time. I didn’t think it was that big a deal until much later in life when I was having a conversation. Once I got into the direct sales world when I was in my early 30s, I had ladies who were saying, “You’re outgoing. I can’t be that.” That’s when I realized, “Yes, you can,” because that’s the decision I made in my life. You can be that way. When I would tell them that story, I used to be this quiet and introverted little girl. At fifteen, I decided I didn’t want to be that anymore. I went out and changed my behavior in order to reflect who I wanted to be. I didn’t even realize the power of that decision until many years later. I was 32, 33 years old before I realized that. It was definitely a turning point in my life because that made going off to college a lot easier. I’ve moved how many times in my life and I know that I know how to make friends now because I did it here in St. Louis. Now I can go to school and know that I’m going to be okay no matter where I go. I didn’t have to worry about that, which has made for a great college experience. I knew I was going to make friends because I’ve done it before.
The part that I find interesting about that is what triggered for me was when people use the word I can’t. That’s the fear that enters in through their expectations and they start living that fear, “I can’t do this. I can’t do that.” It becomes an excuse. Therefore, they don’t try new things. They’re always fearful about what other people think. “How am I going to look? Am I not going to be smart?” That word can’t is a powerful word and a negative for people. It stops them.You don’t need to be motivated to get something done. You don’t need motivation to get anything done. What you do need is a short list of three to five actions that you want to get accomplished. Pick one thing. Then DO IT. Click To Tweet
There’s very little that I don’t think that I can do. Meaning I know how powerful I am because I’ve been through so much and not in a negative sense. I never felt more powerful than the moment after I gave birth to my second child because from the first contraction until the moment she was born was three hours and fifteen minutes. She came fast, which means I delivered her with zero drugs in my system and that was not by choice. The first one I had an epidural. When I made it through the second one going, “If I can make it through that because that was terrifying how quickly she came.” I was like, “If I can make it through that, I can do anything that I want to.” Does that mean that I want to go out and jump out of a plane? No, but I know I could. I have no interest in that. That’s not my thing.
I always talk about I’m pretty fearless when it would become where I’d have to walk on a tightrope between the Grand Canyon.
I don’t know that I could pull that one off just out of sheer fear of heights, which I know is irrational and yet it’s still there which is what makes it a phobia. For me, the power of those words is what holds people back, which are great because when I have a conversation with a prospective client, one of the questions I ask them is, “What is holding you back?” I would say 95% of the people who I talked to and I asked that question of, their answer is always, “I’m holding myself back.” They’ve identified themselves as their limiting factor. That often becomes how do we make that change? How are you going to change your own limitations? We talk about that quite a bit, but not always necessarily in those terms because that’s too scary for a lot of people.
That’s why I’m into expectations because I believe it is the core of our being. I believe that was the seed that was planted in us by God, that we’ve become creative. What has gotten from being a caveman to a digital age has been this expectation that we always can be more. It’s when we stealth it with, “I can’t. I won’t. I don’t want to,” that you stop your creative juices flowing in your body and your brain. That’s why I start at that point because I like to go back to the basics and rebuild people and reach in. That’s a little bit I was going to throw in about my working with expectations.
That’s a great point if you can start with the belief of, “I can do anything.” It’s, “What do I want to do?” There’s a big difference between saying, “I can’t do that or I choose not to.”
I learned it at nine years old because of moving, because my parents moved us from an urban area where I played baseball. It was my identity. It was who I was going to be. I’d be a professional baseball player. We moved to this rural area in Upstate New York where there were no neighbors. My nearest neighbor was three to four miles away and they were 90. They didn’t have kids that I could play with. I was there by myself with my sister and she wasn’t going to play baseball. She was playing with dolls. For me, I became lonely and abandoned because my parents were going through big changes in their life. I was feeling abandoned and I went to this hilltop, laid on my back, and I had a conversation with God. That is where I heard the words, “Just be faithful.” I have always lived by that. After many trips up that hill, I got the confidence to be who I wanted to be. I knew I was in control of that. I went into the Marine Corps and that kind of stuff. How you believe in your faith and in your expectations are attached to each other. Not until we’re challenged do we start exploring ourselves. I did it at nine years old and you sound like you did it at fifteen. Some people never do it their whole life.
I love the title of this podcast that it’s Shower Epiphanies. When I was telling my boyfriend that I was going to be on this podcast, he’s like, “I do have the greatest thoughts in the shower.”
The reason that I named it that was for that reason because everybody you talk to will say, “I have these thoughts,” then my next question is, “What do you do with them?” “I forget them. I don’t think about them.” I read one of your blogs, which I love to death about just doing it. Many people get hung up and discarding their thoughts and I call them wants, needs, and desires because that’s what lies deep inside of each and every one of us. We all have wants. We all have needs. We all have desires. When you discard those and you do it continuously, you get into a pattern. When you start living them, your wants, needs, and desires. When I die, I am going to be the happiest man dying because I have done everything I wanted to do in my life. If I hadn’t been successful at it, at least I can say I tried it and I do. When I speak to high schools, I end my speech at high schools with, “Go out and start doing it and go make do-do all over the Earth.” I’ve had kids write me back and say, “I remember you saying that. I remember how important it is to keep just doing.” You will never fail if you keep doing. The failure is in stopping and ignoring.
That’s one of the questions that I get from direct sales prospective clients is, “I feel like I’m a failure.” I’m like, “Have you given up on the business yet?” They say, “No.” I’m like, “You’re not a failure. It means you’re readjusting course. You’re here talking to me and so you’re talking to a great navigator now.”
No one ever fails in direct sales unless they quit. That’s the only way you can fail.We can't do anything without having an expectation behind it. Click To Tweet
Sometimes, I understand that there are times when it’s like you’re not in the right place and you’re not in the right thing. That’s not a failure, that’s recognizing that you’re in the wrong place or this is not the right time for you because maybe life is happening and you’ve got to set something aside. I have that conversation with some people too because they go, “I feel I got to let something go and I can’t let my family go and I can’t let my relationships go.” Sometimes they say, “If you want to set that aside, that’s the great thing about direct sales is you can always go pick it back up or go pick another company or go pick a different product that you have more passion for.” It’s about letting this business not run you, but you should run your business. Allowing it to fuel who you are and fuel your wants, needs, and desires. If it’s not fueling those things, then it’s detracting from you. You need to set that aside for the time being. Sometimes that happens, but for the most part for the ones who want to rock it in their business, it’s about, “How do I take over the business? How do I run the business instead of letting it run me?”
I’ve seen people who have been in one business and they weren’t successful. They go to another business and not be successful. They go to another business and then all of a sudden, they’re the top producer. I know someone like that. One of my questions to them was, “What did you do differently?” It came back to that they identified that it was their belief system. They didn’t believe in the two companies, and their belief system in the third company was off the charts. They blew it up.
Like in any business, this isn’t just true for direct sales. This is true for any business owner or any business professional. When you have a passion for what it is you’re offering whether it’s a product or service, it doesn’t matter. When you’ve got a passion for that and whether or not someone signs the contract or buys your product or pays for your services. You’re out there looking to help the world by providing this and you’re making the connection with your ideal client. It becomes easier. It’s not a chore to go do it.
Who along the way has influenced you? Who have been your big influences?
My parents have been great. My dad was an officer in the Air Force and when he left the Air Force he started his own business. I got that entrepreneurial spirit from him. My mom was a stay-at-home mother out of necessity because when you’re moving that often, trying to maintain a job was a little difficult.
Unpacking the boxes would be a full-time job.
With four kids, two dogs, a cat and two vehicles. It’s a lot of work to do that. Even with all of that going on, every base we went to she would join an organization. Looking back, I’m impressed that my mom in those short periods of time was such a leader. Oftentimes within a few months, she was often joining the leadership team of the organization that she was a part of, whether it was the officers’ wives club or the choir of the church we were at. All of a sudden, she was the choir director or all of a sudden, she was the president of the organization or the secretary-treasurer or something quickly. She is a servant leader. I learned that from her. That’s been an influence and I learned it by watching. It wasn’t something that she set out. I’ll have to ask her if she set out to teach me servant leadership on purpose or if she just lived it and I learned it from seeing it all the time.
Would it matter? It doesn’t matter.
It doesn’t matter but for me personally, I’d love to know, “Did you know you taught me that? Were you intending that?”
Your mother will probably love to know that because that’s what some parents don’t realize is that their kids watch every single move they make. Whether you think they are or you think they’re not, they are watching everything.There's a big difference between saying, 'I can't do that,' and, 'I choose not to.' Click To Tweet
You know who taught me that was my little girl. My youngest is six years old. For the last two Christmases, she has requested makeup because she likes to play makeup. This year we got her some more makeup to play with and she said, “Mom, there’s no foundation. You always put foundation on.” I said, “I’ve got some tinted moisturizer, I’ll let you use that. How about that?” I went to go give her the tinted moisturizer and instead of putting her hands out in front of her like you would for lotion or something, she put her hand out so that the back of her hand was facing. She had seen me when I put my foundation on. I put the liquid foundation on the back of my hand and then I use a brush to brush it on my face because that’s what I was taught by my makeup lady. I realized I didn’t teach her that on purpose. She learned it from watching me. That’s when I had the a-ha moment of, “My kids are watching literally everything I do, including how I put my makeup on.” If they’re watching me do that, they’re watching me do all these other things and picking up on all of them. That was a big a-ha moment for me.
Some of my other influencers, my parents are my first and foremost influencers. My biggest influencers have been coaches. A few years ago, I didn’t realize coaching existed. I didn’t know what it was and here I am already coaching in my business. I didn’t know that’s what I was doing. As soon as I found out what it was, I was like, “This is where every signpost in my life has been pointing me towards is to do this,” because I was a teacher for a number of years in my twenties. A coach is a little bit of educator, a tiny bit of therapy, a little bit of a counselor but also the accountability portion is what makes a great coach. I was learning and including all of those things into whom I was. Once I figured that out, I was like, “Coaching it is.” That’s where I’m meant to be. This is who I am. Coaches in various industries because none of them does the same thing. They’ve all been quite influential to me. I’d say in the last few years, the most influential person has been my best friend. She’s helped me through an incredibly difficult time because I’m in the process of finalizing a divorce and that was hard to go through. She’s helped me maintain sight of who I am through all of this. Even though it’s not a knock down drag out divorce, we get along very well. It’s still going through the process of redefining the relationship to say, “This isn’t what I thought it was. This is what it is. How do I move my mental shift from being what I thought it was to what it really is?”
You change your expectations. When I’m working with divorced couples, I do that. We talk a lot about divorce expectations versus marriage expectations. The whole thing with me on expectations is that unmet expectations are the root of all disappointment. Somebody has a quote out. It was Shakespeare or somebody that has a quote like that, but it is the truth. That’s why it’s important to learn to manage your expectations. Going through a divorce and separation, if you can learn how to manage your expectations, it will go a lot smoother for you.
For me, it definitely was this shift of realizing, “This isn’t what I thought it was going to be. I’m no longer who I thought I was going to be. He’s no longer who we thought he was going to be.” It’s a shift of that expectation. What’s interesting is as we’ve been telling people that we’re divorcing, many people are because of their expectations of what divorce is, they’re often shocked when I say, “We still live together, just not in the same way. We’ve got two little girls who want mommy and daddy around. We’re doing things differently.” When people go, “Isn’t that weird?” If you’re going to hold the expectation that all divorced people must hate each other. If you’re holding onto that, then living together would be weird. We don’t hate each other and frankly, I’m someone who’s like, “I don’t care what you think of my situation because I’m the one who has to live it and not you.”
They don’t live your life. That’s why it’s important not to let other people’s expectations dictate your behavior.
When people who are more introverted or maybe even have social anxiety will ask me, “How can you do that?” The most polite way for me to put it is I don’t care what other people think because I’m the one who has to live my life. I’m the one who at the end of each day goes, “Was this a day that I can put in the win column? Do I feel good about now?” No part of me is saying, “Was now a good day? Do I put into consideration what other people think of me?”
I always reference it this way that it’s not that I don’t care what other people think of me. It’s that I choose not to let that influence me. That’s how I approach that thing. In a way, we all do care what people think of us. It’s whether you let it influence you that matters.
I love that little quote that says, “What other people think of me is none of my business.” Good or bad, it’s none of my business. I’m able to do that because I also don’t hold judgment of others because I don’t know their story. I don’t know what they’ve been through. Why they would make a decision to do X, Y or Z? It’s not my point. It’s not my position. It’s not my job to judge people. It’s my job to support them where they are. If it’s a friend, it’s my job or expectation that I helped them move forward as a friend and be there to support them. I don’t hold judgment because that’s not my place.
Let’s talk about that because it’s important for our audience. How did you get to the point where you shunned judgments of others? I’m much that way too. I don’t place judgment on it. Do you think it’s our understanding of things because we’ve been trained in coaching and in psychology?
It probably stems from the fact that back in high school, part of the reason I was introverted and quiet at my first school is that I personally felt judged. I personally felt that other people were judging me. I didn’t want that either. One of my best friends in college said something that has stuck with me to this day. We’re still best friends as well. She said something like, “I won’t let gender get in the way of who I fall in love with.” That’s part of the whole judgment. It’s about the person, not their gender. For me, that all fall within the judgment pieces. I don’t want to be judged, so I don’t judge others.When you start living on your wants, needs, and desires, you are going to be the happiest man dying. Click To Tweet
That’s probably a bigger influence than our education in coaching and everything. When you were saying that, I was thinking about, “That is true for me too.” In high school, I was judged and my parents were judged. We were shunned in the little town that we’re at. I only had twenty kids in my class. You know how that goes. Everybody knows everybody’s business. We were literally shunned because we were considered outsiders. I went to my 50th reunion a few years ago and it was interesting. I had somebody come up and say to me, “Did you ever know why we all shunned you and everything and we didn’t talk to you and everything?” I said, “Is this the same reason why everybody is on one side of the room and I’m over here by myself?” They said, “We were told when you moved to this little community here that your parents were running from the mafia.” Our parents told us, “Do not associate with them because you could end up getting shot or killed.” What’s amusing about it is we’re Irish. There’s the Costello that’s Irish, not Italian. Frank Costello back in the ‘50s was a big mafia guy in New York. That’s where that came from.
This horrible misconception led to that. The judgment came from it. For me, I want to be a safe space for people who are around me, which is why many people are drawn to me. I’m sure you probably hear this quite often, you’re talking to a stranger and within five minutes you know their whole life story. When you are a safe space, when you are open and non-judgmental, people pick up on that subconsciously and then they don’t have a problem holding back. They will share anything and everything with you whether or not you asked. I prefer to hold that space of non-judgment and being open to people, being who they are because I also want to be in a space. I hope that other people hold that space for me where they are non-judgmental and open-minded to whom I am instead of expecting me to be whatever. A lot of people would probably look at a biography of me and think that I’m a typical soccer suburban mom. There are all kinds of things they don’t know about me that I’m not going to put in the professional bio that I hope they wouldn’t judge me for. I hold that space for others because I want them to do the same for me.
One of the things I thought about when you talked about your roommate and love, I also believe that love knows no boundaries. There are no boundaries in it. It’s the limitations that we put on it that make all the difference when people have all kinds of reasons for doing that. There’s a lot of truth in the quote that, “Love is boundless.” There are no boundaries to it. I care about people so much and I used the word I love you often with friends. My wife could get jealous of that because she could think, “You have all these friends and you’re on the phone with them and they say I love you when you say goodbye and people would be jealous.” She’s not. She does not get jealous of it. She calls them, “Here’s your girlfriend calling.” I’m grateful that she is the way she is because she lets me be who I am.
When you’re in the right relationship, you get to be who you are without fear and without judgment. Knowing that you’re accepted for who you are is more powerful than the societal expectation of what love is.
I’ve got one more thing I want to discuss with you because I’m interested in your viewpoint on it. I have this thing about labels. I believe that the labels that are placed upon us are what limits us. We’ve done some research and surveys in prisons. We found that 90% of prisoners regardless of their gender, their color, what they were in prison for or whatever. 90% of them were told as children, “You’re going to end up in jail.” When we have teachers that say one kid’s smarter than another kid and people call people dumb and all kinds of weird things. We start to believe those labels. You got any feelings on labels?
I was lucky that when I was in college or I had already graduated from college. I went back to school to become a teacher because I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I graduated from college the first time. I read a story about a teacher. She was a first-year teacher and when she got her student list, she noticed there were numbers next to their names. She didn’t know what the numbers were, but they were all numbers that ranged anywhere from 120 to 145. She’s looking at all these numbers and she said, “Maybe that’s their IQ.” She taught all of these kids as if they had IQs of 120 to 145, which if you know anything about IQ, that range is from all the way up to genius. She treated her kids as if they were gifted. At Christmas break, the principal comes to her because they’ve had two report cards. The principal says, “These kids are doing so well with you and you’re a first-year teacher. How are you doing this?” She said, “These are all bright kids. I’m shocked that you’re shocked that they’re getting all A’s. I don’t understand it.”
She came to find out that the numbers next to those kids names were their locker numbers, not their IQ. It turns out that a majority of these kids were labeled as learning disabled. I took away from that you should never take the label and assume it means something. I don’t like the term learning disabled. When somebody tells me that their child has LD, which is a short abbreviation for learning disability, I say, “Your child learns differently.” I’ve said that ever since I heard that story. They go, “My child is learning disabled.” I’m like, “Your child learns differently. Disability implies that your child can’t learn. Can your child learn?” They’re like, “Yeah.” I’m like, “Does your child learn the same way other kids do?” They’re like, “No.” I’m like, “Your child learns differently. We just have to figure out how to support how your child learns.” The labels do define and limit if you’re going to allow that to happen. There are few labels that I will ascribe to myself past mother and friend. Mother, friend, and coach. Even coach can be somewhat limiting because people have assumptions about what that is.
One of the episodes posted here is with Kristin Smedley from Philadelphia who has two sons that have genetic blindness. Two different ages, two sons that are blind. I did an interview with her because she is powerful with expectations. She made a decision and a choice to refuse to have her children treated as blind. They play baseball. They don’t play it the same. She convinced the community that she lives in Philadelphia that while they were learning how to play baseball, they were going to have to alter the game because of their challenges. It’s a tremendous story. She’s raised millions and millions of dollars for the big organization that her children are part of. The story to me was her expectation to have her children treated as normal. They do well academically. They’re in mainstream school. They are doers and they think differently about their challenges.
When we let the outside world and organizations dictate how we’re going to raise our child. She’s living proof that it makes a difference of challenging what’s the norm. Children are resilient, they can do things and when they learn and are encouraged to learn and think differently, tremendous things can happen to them. That is a great thing. I always like to ask my guests, what is the one tidbit of information that you would like to leave on this Earth when you’re gone? How would you want to be a difference maker?
I would say that the legacy I would want to leave would be to hold that space for others that you want to be held for you. If you want grace, if you want open-mindedness, if you want loving, if you want whatever it is that you want, hold that space for others if that’s what you want to be held for you.Love knows no boundaries. Click To Tweet
Those are powerful words. I appreciate that. Where can we find out all about you?
You can find me on Facebook. My business is called Level Up Coaching LLC. I’m on Facebook as Facebook.com/LevelUpCoachLLC. You’ll see my smiling face there with my purple dress on. That’s how you know you found me. My website is LevelUpCoachLLC.com. I put blogs up about once a month or so.
Thank you, Jennie. We appreciate it. God bless you. I hope everything works out the way you expect it to.
Thank you. Same to you, Art.
About Jennie Bellinger
Jennie Bellinger is a Certified Professional Coach that works with successful sales representatives in various industries to improve their overall sales process, develop relationships with clients, prospective clients and fellow business professionals and improve their quality of life and job satisfaction. She has been a successful sales representative herself, owning and operating her own sales business for 7 years before she pursued coaching certification.
Jennie is a single mother of two lovely young ladies who she knows are watching her every move. Jennie loves to spend time with her family, friends and enjoys an evening on the town from time to time.
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