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Creating Trauma Informed Courses with Dr. Lee Cordell

TW: trauma and brief mention of suicidal ideation

This episode is really special. If you listen to the earlier episode with Shannon Mattern, you might recall us mentioning Dr. Lee Cordell, and the Institute of trauma and psychological safety. We talked a little bit about how transformative her work is, and encouraged you all to find her. Well, I'm thrilled to share that I asked Dr. Lee to come on the show and chat with me about all things trauma and psychological safety in courses, and she was all for it. So whether you have a course, want to develop a course, or simply work in the online business space, please listen to this episode. There are so many nuggets and profound pieces of wisdom that I know I'll be referring back to for as long as I'm in this business. And I'm willing to bet that there's something in here for you to not just as a business owner, but also just as a human. It's good stuff. Listen in.

Erica Nash 1:01

Welcome to next level course creator. My name is Erica. And this is a podcast about creating premium online programs that participants never want to leave. If you want a program that serves the whole person satisfies participant needs, and creates brand ambassadors who tell all their friends about how awesome you are, this is for you. Listen in as we go beyond conversion numbers, sold out launches and five figure months to get to the heart of the matter ... Taking care of the people who have already said yes, let's go.

Erica Nash 1:38

So when I tell you that I have been so excited for this interview, it really just doesn't cut it. I'm here with Dr. Lee Cordell. She is an expert mindset coach, Certified Clinical trauma professional and CEO and founder of the Institute for trauma and psychological safety. Dr. Lee, thank you so much for saying yes and coming on the show. For people who don't know who you are, please tell us just a little bit more about you and your program and what you do.

Lee Cordell 2:06

Sure, thanks for having me. I've been really excited for this too. I like to sum up what I do with just kind of like a simple analogy, right. So most of us when we think that we're like living in the present, we're really not where oftentimes our mind is either in the past, and it's pulling the paths forward into the present and affecting how we're seeing things, or we're in the future, and thinking about how things are going to go. And our brain is so focused on what could happen, that it's missing what's happening in front of it. So what I like to do for people is help them understand how their past is affecting their current reality, so that they can have more aligned control and command over what they're creating for their future. And that involves trauma work and shame work and understanding the painful things that have happened to you in the past. Because a lot of times, we we don't know that something has had an effect on us in the way that it has until somebody pointed out to us. So we I we do all of that at our institute, with really the mission of helping people create more safe and supportive and mutually beneficial relationships, both with themselves and with others. And through doing that, like just be more present in the moment.

Erica Nash 3:31

That is so beautiful, and just such important work. Such important work. So to start, before we kind of dive into the really big questions, can you give us a brief explanation of what it means to be trauma informed and psychologically safe?

Lee Cordell 3:50

Sure. Yeah. I always laugh when I think of how I named this company, because I'm like, It's the longest name in the world. And we need both. So when you think about being trauma informed, a lot of people this is a term that's become kind of a buzzword in the last few years. And so there's going to be lots of definitions out there when if you were to go look this up. And I think the simplest way to think about it is when you are in a scenario with somebody, and they do something, or you're in a scenario with someone and you do something, and it's unexpected or weird or you're like oh, that's not the thing that I thought was gonna happen here. Instead of going what's wrong with this person? Why are they like this, like from this judgmental place, which is what we like to do as humans we like to judge that's how we that's evolutionary that that's how we've stayed alive to this point. And instead of taking that judgmental stance, what we do is we go Hold on, what is this person's experiences like why not why are they like this, but what is happening to them in order for them to maybe be having their reaction that they're having right now, what's happened to me? What are my past experiences, both positive and negative, that are leading me to show up in this scenario in this way right now.

Lee Cordell 5:09

So it's basically shifting the question from Why are you like this, to what happened to you, and shifting from a place of judgment and assumption to one of curiosity and compassion. And then when it comes to psychological safety, psychological safety is one step beyond trust. So there's four key pieces to trust. And two of them are what we call affective or emotional, and two of them are cognitive. So the effective pieces are: Do you care about me? And can I? Can I believe you? Can I take you at your word? Are you going to do what you say you're going to do? The cognitive pieces, are you capable? And are you consistent? So when you think of trusting someone, the time you're going to trust somebody the most is when all four of those are there. Right? If we have three, we might trust people, but just be a little hesitant. If there's two or less, it's hard to trust somebody. All of those have to be present for psychological safety. Because what psychological safety says is, if I show up and take a risk, are you going to accept me? If it doesn't go well? If I show you this piece of me? Are you going to shame me? Are you gonna make me feel bad? Are you going to ostracize me abandoned me. So we're not going to have psychological safety in a space where I can't trust someone's going to tell the truth, or I can't trust that they're capable of holding or leading the space? Because how could I show up and be myself fully? If I know that it might get violated in one of those four ways. So psychological safety is really important when it comes to doing trauma work, because trauma work is inherently risky, it's vulnerable. And so if I'm going to be vulnerable with you, I have to be able to trust you and I have to be able to feel safe with you that whatever I show you, you're not going to be like, Oh, that's too much. I'm out. Or you're wrong, or you're bad.

Erica Nash 7:23

I love how you broke it down into four, four steps, I would you call it four stops?

Lee Cordell 7:31

Yeah, like four pieces? Yeah.

Erica Nash 7:32

Yeah. And because I can see how, you know, it's very obvious that those four pieces would need to be in place for for trust to occur. And I can see so clearly how those four things have to be in place for a program to be successful. And for people to like, feel like they can show up in that program and do their best work, and achieve whatever results they've set out to achieve? And how if those pieces are missing, how harmful that could potentially be?

Lee Cordell 8:08


Erica Nash 8:09

Yeah. So I'm super excited to dig into this, because I think that this is going to be... I've not heard a conversation around this. And so I'm excited for you to kind of like, share all of your wisdom with us. So based off of that explanation, you know, in my time as a student of online courses, but also as a curriculum designer, I see sometimes that you know, content or coaching might stir up some feelings and cause some unintentional harm. I don't believe that it's ever done on purpose, but it does happen. So what are some ways a course creator can create a safer container for students, especially considering some of the agitation that does occur within the coaching space?

Lee Cordell 8:54

Yeah. The coaching space I lovingly refer to as the Wild Wild West, right? It's it's not, it's not regulated by the Federal Trade Commission, anyone can call themselves a coach, which is beautiful, and also can lead to some harm. And so when you think about creating a, and I like to say a safer space as a coach, because you can't create a safe space, a fully 100% safe space, and in fact, that little bit of vulnerability, that little bit of it, like, am I going to be accepted here? That's actually really beautiful, because that ability to be vulnerable and have that moment of, are they going to hold me are they going to drop me and have someone meet you there? That is where true like community is created. So we want our spaces to feel as safe as possible also inherently knowing that they can't fully be safe because things aren't things are gonna happen. Like you said unintentional harm. So as a coach, if you can set your container up from the start So that people understand the expectations of them, they understand what is psychologically safe for them to bring to the container and what's not. They understand what the norms are of the container. And if you in that initial container setting meaning and this can be, this can start on your sales page, right? It's telling people what's going to happen next. So they come to your sales page, they click on the button, they buy the thing, okay, automatic email, here's what's going to happen next. And then following through on that, right, we're hitting that both effective trust, are you going to do what you say you're going to do? And are like, do I consistently know what to expect?

Lee Cordell 10:44

So when people can know what's going to happen next, the other piece is, is you showing them also a little bit of vulnerability yourself in that container setting? And one of my favorite ways to do that is just to remind people that it's not a question of if I'm going to cause what we call a rupture, which is harm. It's not a question of if there's going to be a rupture in our container, it's a question of when, because that's humanity. Right? We have ruptures all day, every day with little ruptures and really big one, sometimes to where we misunderstand each other, we hurt each other, you know, things don't go the way we expect them to. So really letting people know, it's a question of when, and when that happens, I want to know, and here are the ways in which you can bring that to me. And if that those ways, don't feel safe, here are some other ways that you can bring that to someone else in the container who can bring it to me. And that sort of both vulnerability and accountability from the start does two things.

Lee Cordell 11:53

One, you're showing people you've already thought of what could go wrong. And for a lot of people, that's what their brains are doing when they enter new into a new space. They're scared, they're like, Well, how could this go wrong? Right? Our brains interpret new spaces, new things as scary. Because evolutionarily, that's how we survive as if we're afraid of something new, we don't accidentally do something that could hurt us. So you are showing people that that vulnerability, and you're also taking yourself off the pedestal. So this is something I see is the downfall of so many coaches that end up building really big communities, is they never have that conversation of their own fallibility and their own, like their own accountability around the fact that they're gonna cause harm, because they're human. And then everyone assumes that they are, they're not going to cause harm, and then they do. And it hurts. So I think that that's like, the biggest thing is really thinking about how do you want to set up boundaries? What what, how can people contact you? And how, if they contact you in another way? How are you going to redirect them to the appropriate route? If something in the program is not working for them? What should they do? Right, really thinking about? How can I create trust and make it the safest for this person to show up in this space vulnerably and get what they need out of it? And like taking your own ego out of the, the picture.

Erica Nash 13:36

I think there's so much to be said for just like remembering that we're all just human. We're all just human.

Lee Cordell 13:43


Erica Nash 13:43

And we're all just showing up in this space to to accomplish this thing, whatever that thing might be. And that it's okay to not, like, have it together all the time. Like there's no need to

Lee Cordell 13:57


Erica Nash 13:58

You don't need to put that facade out there that you know that we've got it together and we have all the answers and we know all the answers. Like, I think it's a lot more. I don't know, I think it says something, something about us when we're more of the mindset of like, I might not know this all, but I can walk through it with you and I can help you figure it out. And I can certainly like you know, do some research and help you find the answers. Rather than, you know, I know it all and have it all together. Simply because, you know, aside from what you already said about when you do fail if you've kind of pedestalized yourself or allowed your students to do that for you. When you fall, it's from a really high place and that's going to really hurt and cause a lot. But I think that also, gosh, it's just so much harder to like keep like that, Just I think that emotional baggage would begin to just weigh a lot in holding that down.

Lee Cordell 14:59

Yeah. There's a lot of it requires a lot of masking, to, to pretend, right. So when people hear that piece about cognitive trust and competency, what they sometimes interpret that to mean is I have to know everything, or I have to look like I know everything. My students in our programs know from day one, I do not know everything, I will not pretend to know everything. And if you know something that I don't, or if I say something that you know, to be wrong, teach me. And that, I mean, if you are coming at this from a more egoic place, that is a hard thing to hold, because, you know, I want to look like the expert, I want to be everyone to like, you know, just be like fawning all over and be so excited. And, but what's really going to serve them? And what's gonna serve me in the long run, is if we don't pretend that I have all the answers. And what I will say, though, is like, I have a lot of resources. So if you need an answer, and I don't know what that answer is, I do 99% of the time, know where to find it. So I don't have to be competent with all the information in my head, most experts aren't confident, competent, because they have all the information in their head, they're competent, because they know where to go to get it. And they know to teach the humans who rely on them for that information, to also where to find it. So they don't even have to come to me to get it.

Erica Nash 16:37

That's such a, I think that's such a tricky place to be to. Because I think that as course creators, you know, there there is kind of a almost a pressure to, to to feel like you know, or to show that. I know everything, I can help walk you through this. But that transparency is just so valuable in creating trust, and just fostering relationships. And also, in that, you know, we see so much fake stuff on social media, and especially in the coaching space. And when we're able to be super transparent, then, you know, there becomes this like, unveiling maybe of like the business world and like, Oh, this is normal, this thing that you're going through, like I'm going through this too, or whatever it might be.

Lee Cordell 17:29

Yeah, it's it's resonance. It's, oh, I'm not alone. Yeah. And that's a piece of effective trust to write that, like, you can trust me with your feelings, because I'm going to show you mine first. And not from like a messy sobbing on the call type way. But like, one of the things that my clients told me that they love the most and and honestly, I don't love this the most. I just know the value of it for both me and them. And so I keep coming back to it is when I'm like, Hey, y'all, this is how I'm having a hard time right now. Like I wrote a post today that was like, here's why I slept three hours last night. And here's why. And here's what was happening in my head. And here's all the things I had to do. And like, here's, here's the pain that I was having. And and those posts get the most comments, because people are like, Oh my gosh, thank you for showing me that when I have a multi six, near seven figure business, this stuff still happens. Yeah, and you think that that's the mess that is going to keep people from signing up and working with you and joining your programs. And in reality, that's the thing that people go, Oh, I want to be in her program, because she doesn't expect me to be perfect because she doesn't even expect herself to be perfect. So you're creating this this space of it's safe for you to mess up here. It's safe for you to be wrong, it's safe for all of us to be wrong. And I'm going to show you that first.

Erica Nash 18:57

Transparency is beautiful.

Lee Cordell 19:00


Erica Nash 19:01

So I know you have experience creating programs for large communities. Are there any specific strategies or or systems that you would suggest having in place so that, you know, it's safer? You know, does that really differ from communities that are smaller?

Lee Cordell 19:27

You know, I actually think smaller communities are harder to hold. I'm just kind of realizing that as we're talking because I I read this question earlier today, and I was like, I don't have my answer yet. It'll come to me. Now I think smaller communities are harder to hold because everyone's there on the screen. Like larger communities I think are easier to hold because it is. It is easier to find pockets of can unity within that larger community, right? So I can find two or three people that I totally vibe with and in a community of 500. However, if it's a community of eight, and two of us start fighting, right? That container is going to be a little bit harder to repair, right? Then me going like, Okay, you to come here, let's talk this out over here, and like the other 498 don't even know what's happening. Because, you know, it's point 2% of the group. So that's just kind of a feeling I have around that. But I think the big thing is, with larger communities, again, is is explaining and really modeling for people how you expect them to show up. Right? And I think people feel uncomfortable with this, because they're like, Well, I don't want to tell people what to do, or people go too rigid with this. And they're like, You have to show up like this. And if you don't, you're kicked out, and we keep your money. And, and so sometimes we go like too overboard. But we want to have like, we want to have really clear boundaries. Of this is how we do things here. And also, if you have a problem with any of that, one of the other things that we do here is we talk about things like we're flexible, we're not just like this, is it and if you don't like it leave.

Lee Cordell 21:23

So I think the other thing with large communities is also you got to think for yourself as a leader. How much access are these people paying? For? How much? How many touch points are these people paying for? Right? I see a lot of a lot of coaches advertising online, like here, we're gonna take your one to one from sorry, we're gonna take your coaching practice, from one to one to one to many. And it's like, okay, hold on. Those are two different things. Right? So if you are taking a model where you used to take care of 10 People used to support 10 People with your coaching and your supporting 200. Okay, are you hiring support coaches? How are these people going to have touch points? Is it understood that this is more of a self study thing? And they keep themselves on pace? Or are they paying more and they're really expecting someone to check in with them over time? And did you clearly are articulate that when they bought the program? So being really clear of like, this is, this is the support and these are the touch points you're gonna get. And then you really want to make sure you deliver on that. Because I know that there's a saying like, Happy wife, happy life, right? My coach used to say to me, she's like, think about that with your clients. So isn't it so much more fun to have the same client that you love, come back over and over for your programs than it is to have to go go out and find a new one. And the way you retain people is by making is helping them feel like they're getting out of the community what they expected. And so if the expectations aren't clear on either side, you're gonna have some problems.

Erica Nash 23:21

And that, that right there, what you just said, is literally the whole point of this podcast. You just summed it up very beautifully.

Lee Cordell 23:29

Oh, good. I'm glad.

Erica Nash 23:31

I did I really want to go back and talk for just a second about programs that scale really fast.

Lee Cordell 23:38


Erica Nash 23:39

Because I think that I think there's really, really something there in terms of like, you know, especially in the last couple of years, like we've had, we've seen these programs that like, you know, they start really small, and then within six months, they have like, really blown up or whatever. And I sometimes I see these and I'm like, I kind of feel bad and not not feel bad for this coach, but like, I'm kind of concerned for this coach.

Lee Cordell 24:08

Yeah, yeah.

Erica Nash 24:09

Because of how quickly that's grown. Because I kind of doubt that the curriculum changed that much over that span of time, and was probably not initially set up to I mean, I mean, you can't you can't initially set up a, a curriculum for a program that's structured to help 10 people and then also support 200 people in the same way. It just doesn't work that way. And so I'm like, thinking about this coach, I'm like, what, what have they done, you know, in order to like, really protect their clients that they have that were already committed, you know, as they were scaling to whatever this number is, but also to like protect themselves like I'm thinking about them and like the mental load and you know, like you said, like, are you how Hiring help, are you, you know, is there support in place and, and I know we'll talk about that in in a little bit. But that I think really is one of one of the big things right now that I think we really have to look at. Because we have these people that are incredible and growing these programs because they're incredible. But I'm just like, wow, they're like, it's okay to like, slow it down just a little bit in favor of like, your mental health and like taking care of yourself.

Lee Cordell 25:28

Yeah. Um, so we are starting this new thing in our at our institute where anyone who's ever bought, even if it's $1, anything from us, it has access to a monthly group coaching call. Oh, and so we pulled all of our numbers. And my, our ops director sent them to me, and I was like, we have over 300 paying clients in the last, like, you know, less than two years. And she's like, Yeah, wow. And she's like, well, you have 1000s of people from a free standpoint. And I'm not sharing those numbers to like, boast, I'm sharing those numbers, because I was like, oh, okay, so we have to think about, if we're opening up a two hour coaching call once a month to 300 people, what that looks like, because that looks a lot different than if I've had 20 paying clients, and I'm opening up a call to them, because if it's a two or three hour call, I could probably guarantee a hot seat, or a coaching session for all 20 of those humans with 300. Okay, how are we going to do this? So people understand that not everyone's going to get a chance to get coached? How long am I going to coach people for? How am I going to, you know, effectively set a boundary of when that timeframe is up, there's all these questions that you want to think about before you do it. And I think so many times, and I've, I've gotten this coaching in less than trauma informed spaces that I've been in before of like, we'll just do it, and you'll figure it out. And that's great. I'm a big fan of done not perfect, and like, like, grow as you go. And also, do your people know that? Do they know that this is the first time you've ever done this? Do they know that you're working out the bugs, right? And people are afraid to share those things. Because again, we've been taught from a marketing and positioning perspective to like, show no, no chips in your armor, right. And I am so much my ... our clients in that first email, and we're gonna go, we're gonna try this this first month and see how it goes. And just know that we're probably going to tweak this, right, that's setting people's expectations up to know, okay, month two may not look like month one.

Lee Cordell 27:49

If you don't have that conversation, and you realize, oh, the way we set this up didn't work. And you have to change in month two, you actually have to do a lot more cleanup that way. Because now we got to get people on board in an entirely new process. So that's the that's the, the one side of it of upscaling rapidly is like, every single time you're gonna have to look at it and go, Okay. Logistically, operationally, energetically, how do I hold this? How do I have capacity for this? And then also, how do I let people know that we might need to tweak things? From the me side? You know, I think the coaching industry, the online coaching business model is so gorgeous in terms of freedom, and accessibility, and potential. And I think one of the shadow sides is we encourage people to grow oftentimes faster than they have capacity for. And, you know, I'll have clients come to me and say, I want to make $100,000. In the next year, I'm like, okay, you don't have a business yet. So we can do that. And how much money do you have to invest? How much time do you have? How much energy and capacity Do you have? Do you have six kids? Given any? Do you have a supportive spouse? Like what other resources in support do you have?

Lee Cordell 29:23

Because the three pillars are time, money and energy capacity, in order to put into your business in order to grow it. And so you're going to need, if you don't have a lot of money, you're going to need a lot more time and a lot more capacity. If you don't have a lot of time, we're going to need a lot more money or a lot more capacity. So if you're trying to grow your program, and you're not pouring into that triangle of time, money capacity, you're gonna have a problem. You're gonna burn out because you're working 80 hours a week, you're gonna run out of money or You're going to, like, just, your family's gonna be like, where are you? What's going on? And the answer always isn't to add more support because people forget, like to hire people in people forget, like, you have to train people. And also if you've never been someone's, and I don't want to say, boss, because everyone who works for us, they're independent contractors. But if you've never, if you've never hired somebody to support you in your business, and you don't know how to lead them in your business, Oh, buddy, that's, there's a learning curve there.

Erica Nash 30:34


Lee Cordell 30:36

So you really got to think about, you know, do I want to do I want to grow really quickly? No, because if I'm going to grow really quickly, if I'm going to scale really fast, my capacity for failure also has to be really high.

Erica Nash 30:53

Wow, that's good.

Lee Cordell 30:54

Like, I'm gonna have to tolerate a lot of discomfort and making a lot of mistakes versus do I want to go slower? Do I want to figure out like, where my own trauma stuff is around this? Because have I, you know, how do I handle rejection? How do I handle disappointment? How do I handle disappointing someone else? How do I handle all those things? Because I'm gonna have to handle those as this grows, do I want to be able to take those slower, and maybe my business only grows 20% Each year, like 20%, each year over 20 years is a really big business.

Erica Nash 31:26

So yeah, and you know, just looking at what kind of risks were willing to take and also recognizing like that, clients may not be okay with us taking those kinds of risks, and they get to they get to decide that they're not okay with that. And that may mean that they move on. And yeah, you just you there's some such good nuggets in all of what you just said. And it kind of leads me into the next into next question. I we know, obviously, like people are so complex in when we create these coaching spaces, spaces, were essentially gathering traumas, right? We're gathering participant traumas, coach traumas, support team traumas. And so not only does that, you know, increase the level of difficulty that maybe wasn't expected, it's also just really heavy sometimes. So life continues on while, while students and coaches are engaged in these courses, and many times that life encroaches into the program space where it may or may not be appropriate to take it. So what would you say are some key indicators that it's time to refer a student to help or resources or resources outside the program when that happens?

Lee Cordell 32:46

So I'm a broken record here. I think, again, setting the container from the start of like, these are things we do talk about in here. And these are things we don't write. I've been into business masterminds, where one was bring everything, like, we're going to talk about sex, we're going to talk about money, we're going to talk about your marriage, we're going to talk about all those things, because they affect how you're running your business. And then another was like, nope, strategy, maybe mindset stuff, but like, we're not bringing any of that outside stuff in. And so now, I knew entering into both of those containers, okay, this is what I bring here. And this is what I bring here. So if you've clearly said that, and then you have somebody who is encroaching on those boundaries, not from an even if it feels intentional. It's from a place of need. So at that point, you get to go, okay, hold on, can I hold this? Have I actually grown in my coaching to the point that I could hold these things? So maybe I get to change the container? Maybe people do get to start bringing more of that stuff in here. And we can reset and have that conversation? Or do I need to and this is a huge one, okay. You're gonna want to coach this person, to the best of your abilities in the moment publicly. And coaching here doesn't look like you're telling them what to do coaching here goes, Wow, I'm really hearing that, you know, this stuff that's happening in XYZ that's like, not related to here is really affecting you. Like I'm just really witnessing You and seeing you in that. That's not my area of expertise. And I want you to feel seen and I want you to feel hurt. That's what I do publicly.

Lee Cordell 34:38

Privately, I'm messaging this human and going, Hey, I want to check in on you. You know, one of my favorite things to say is you're not in trouble. Yeah, right. When you when you are a coach, even if you're like we're friends, we're all on the same playing field here. There's still a little bit of a power differential for a lot of participants. So you coming to them and saying, Hey, aka we need to talk. They're thinking, and I asked this at conferences all the time, I'm like, when somebody comes to you and says, We need to talk, what are the four words that come into your head? And there's, there's two versions. First is, am I in trouble? And the second is, what did I do? So I like to start it off the bat of like, hey, I want to come in here. And first of all, you're not in trouble. You didn't do anything wrong. When you brought that question up in our hot seat, or when you put that post up, I realized that that is beyond the scope of this container. And I want to make sure that you feel seen and heard, and also, you know, we, within the walls of this container, we don't, we can't hold that. It's not a benefit to you, for me to try to hold that. So let's figure out what you need to be able to hold that. And then we can hold you from the business perspective, or from the whatever perspective, we're coaching here, while you figure that out, right?

Lee Cordell 36:06

What you're doing there is so key, because what you are showing them is I'm not abandoning you, you still belong here, if you decide you want to stay, and this piece of you is safe here. It's just not going to be served here. There's a fundamental difference between that and this piece of you is not safe here. And here's the thing that participants still might take it the wrong way, because they're gonna have their own trauma responses and their own things coming up around this. And so this is why I think trauma informed training for coaches is so important, because knowing when you caused harm versus when someone feels that harm was caused, is nuanced.

Erica Nash 36:49


Lee Cordell 36:50

So, um, just a really quick example, in our trauma informed psychologically safe certificate program, one of my biggest fears was that my biggest concerns before we went in was I was like, you know, we're gonna be talking for nine months about trauma. Someone could get triggered, someone could have a PTSD, flashback, like some things can happen. So I thought, okay, proactively, we got to talk about this. So in terms of service, people understand that if they have any mental health issues, that they've talked with a mental health professional, they're agreeing that they're good enough, like, like, not good from a qualitative perspective, but like they have the capacity emotionally, mentally, physically, to be able to participate in this program, knowing what's in it. So that was like the legal proactive piece, but also letting people know, shit could get hard here, right. And then, on the on our end, operationally, I hired a coach that is a dual trained mindfulness coach, and she's a licensed clinical social worker in the state of New York. So she's a trained therapist with trauma certs. And so I said to her, like, you're not going to be a therapist in here, because that there's all sorts of legal pieces with that. And can you be the human, that if we have someone go into crisis, they get to talk to, and you help them find the resources that we need? And I'll back you up. When she was like, absolutely. So sure enough, six weeks in, eight weeks in, we had somebody that was having suicidal ideation, that was sitting in the parking lot of a gun store texting us. Can you help me not go in here? And I was like, Oh, my gosh, worst fear coming true, right. So I did my own regulation work and quickly, like, got back into a regulated state and had and said, Hey, I see you, I hear you, let me get you. Let's get you on the phone right now, me and you with Nancy, our support coach. And she supported him, like throughout the entire weekend, got him help. And they're now really good friends. And he, you know, nine months later is like, you know, that literally saved my life. And that is something that a lot of people are like, Oh my gosh, like, I don't know that I'd have the capacity for that. Okay. Well, that's something to know. So who do you have on your team? Who do you have in your back pocket that when things like that happen, you can call? You want to have resources like that? Because if you don't know what to do with that, then, you know, that is a potential place of harm. So.

Erica Nash 39:31

Yeah, no, and I'm so glad that that you brought that up. And just really talking about you know, the the kind of things that can be put in place to protect coaches too, because so much heaviness can come out of some of the stuff and that's just a lot for one person to hold, especially if they're not necessarily prepared or trained to hold that kind of stuff. And I also love the way that you were talking about you know, when somebody does bring something to especially like a group coaching call that you address them publicly acknowledge their feelings, acknowledge the way that that, you know, whatever it is, is manifesting in them, and then address them privately about, you know, seeking the right help or, or whatever it might be. But you know, these are kind of like, it's not going to serve you, if I try to help you with this, or whatever. I think that's just so beautiful, and like, such a gentle way to hold people in that. And like you said, let them know that, that they're not being abandoned. And that they're still welcome. Because, like, that's truly what we're all seeking, right, as a place to feel seen and heard and loved and accepted. And so I just, I just love that you pointed that out. And, yeah, just wanted to, to make note of that.

Lee Cordell 40:52

You know, and even like, if that's how I would use a little bit of a judgement, but like, if that's how I would grade an A response, an A+ response is on that public coaching call, saying, hey, I want to make sure that you're supported after this, can I reach out to you personally? Because here's why that's important. One, you're getting consent, which I think is huge. To everyone else in the program, is understands that this is being handled further privately. Because that can cause ruptures, if, even if you handled this privately, and this person's good if other people in the coaching container feel like oh, wow, like she brought something in here that she wasn't supposed, you know, quote, unquote, supposed to? And, you know, yeah, like Lee handled the conversation Well, but then that was it like, Well, what happens next? All right. So you, publicly letting everyone else know, this is what's going to happen next, is super helpful, because then they're like, Okay, she took care of it loops closed.

Erica Nash 42:05

So, you know, I think that we would probably agree that the overwhelming majority of course creators are in this business, because they want to help people, you know, they, they see a need, they want to help people, they want to make an impact. And they're supporting people at a really high level. And sometimes it's to their own expense at the expense of their well being, and maybe their relationships or whatever it might be. And so with some of the things that we've talked about, if a coach is in that space, and they are, they're established, they already kind of have, you know, their their processes and their strategies and whatever in place. But they're kind of in that space, where they're, they're supporting their students at a high level at the expense of their own well being, what advice would you give them to start implementing some some safer practices for themselves and for their students?

Lee Cordell 42:59

I love this question. This is my favorite thing to talk about. And it's what we call trauma informed self care. And it can be done in any profession. And I think it's particularly particularly important when you are your own boss, because there's no one reminding you to take care of yourself. Right? So it incorporates three things, right? So self care is not what people think it is. Self Care is and how we practice self care on ourselves is based on how we were cared for by our caregivers. And it's also based on how we watched our caregivers take care of themselves. So a lot of us have some good old, past painful experiences, some good old trauma wrapped up in self care, because we watched our caregivers not care for themselves, out of necessity or out of trauma. And we also were not taught effectively how to care for ourselves, like the way it was modeled, or the way that it was received. So there's three fundamental pieces to self care. And one of them is nurturing. And nurturing is like, am I feeding myself? When I have to go to the bathroom? Am I getting up? Or am I waiting an hour? am I drinking water? Am I standing up and stretching? Am I putting 17 calls back to back with no break? Or am I am I you know, taking a lunch? Am I working every single day and I haven't taken a vacation for two years? Or do I work four days a week? Because that's what works for me so I can get my kids off the bus right? Um, do I pay myself? Sometimes timewise you're good, but you keep reinvesting things back into the business instead of I don't know Paying, you're giving yourself a paycheck. So all of those are nurturing. So how are you nurturing yourself. And this is hard for some people because some people think, and rightly so, because this is a really pervasive message in our society. They think the more I work, the more money I make. The harder I push, the more money I make. More calls I have, the more money I make. So my clients and I, we play a really fun game, where we come up with affirmations, like, the more I rest, the more money comes in, more I play, the more money comes in. Every time I'm on a plane, I make money. Right?

Lee Cordell 45:46

Like, I have a friend who has that every time I fly, I make money because she flies a lot to like, go see clients and go do fun things and travel. And she's like, every time sometimes it's two cents, right? She's like, sometimes I'll save an invoice and send it right before I get on the plane just so I can make money on the plane. But it's fun. And it's and it reinforces that belief of I don't have to work super hard. I don't have to like fall into this toxic productivity. Productivity says first piece. Second piece is guidance. Do you have good mentorship? Either self mentorship, like do you? Do you know what books to buy? And do you read them? Do you go and like watch things on YouTube? These don't have to cost money and they don't have to be someone that you are personally connected to. Right? Are you? Are you learning from people who've done what you already want to do? And then also, I think mentorship. This is the first time I haven't had a mentor in three years. And the only reason I don't have a mentor in three years, or I don't have a mentor right now it's because I haven't found the next one, like I know exactly what I'm looking for. And that human hasn't like, come into my field of existence yet. And I always have a mentor. Because I know that I can guide myself in a lot of directions. I don't want to go if I try hard enough. Or if I'm scared enough.

Erica Nash 47:09


Lee Cordell 47:09

Right. So it is helpful for me to have somebody who knows me, well, who knows what I'm trying to do, who understands me, and can go like lead, you see that you're doing that? And I'm like, now I'm really blessed in that I have a husband who understands my business intimately and who will be like, Babe, what are you doing? Right? Or I can go to and ask questions, or my operations director is my right hand woman, I can be like, Hey, what's going on? Like, should we do this? Should I pay this person? This? She's like, No, I'm like, okay, great. Thanks. So it's having that type of guidance is super important. And then the last piece is boundaries and limits. The one that people don't like, this is aka discipline. Right? Sometimes, you're gonna have to do things that you don't want to do. And that includes, you know, what I would love, I love being paid to have 20 people in this container. And realistically, right now I can hold 12. So the next round of this, even though I'd love for my business to get bigger actually needed to get smaller, because that's what I need for overall longevity. Do you have the discipline to look at ... Okay, this is what actually needs done. Even if it means you're going to look like a fool, even if it means people aren't going to understand it, even if it means that people are going to be disappointed. And I think all of these have their own hardships to them. And I think that this one is the hardest for most people because they're used to practicing discipline to get what they think they want, instead of practicing it to make sure that they feel the way they want to feel.

Erica Nash 48:57

Oh, yeah, I could see that. Absolutely.

Lee Cordell 49:00

Yeah. So we practice discipline to get an outcome. We don't practice discipline to achieve a feeling. So most of us practice discipline with the endpoint in mind. My invitation to anyone listening to this is to start looking at practicing discipline with the journey in mind.

Erica Nash 49:18

That's really good.

Lee Cordell 49:20

So those are, that's, that's self care. That's how you make sure that the decisions that you are making, aren't going to burn you out that they're not going to lead you down a path like you're, you're still gonna fail, you're still gonna fall, you're still gonna be like that was a bad decision. And if you're practicing these three things, what you're going to develop is resiliency, which is the ability to be like wow, that sucked. Okay, that was a mistake. Cool. Let me feel my feelings around it. Let me show myself some nurturing and some compassion. All right, let me go get some advice around this. And then let me put into practice what I know needs done.

Erica Nash 49:56

You know, talking about ... talking about boundaries, and really going back to the support, you know, and I think it also goes back to, we're not always the best people to, like, make those decisions, because we can't see it super clearly. And so especially when it comes to like these high levels of support, and some triggering type content, when and I would even argue that, that a lot of what I see when I'm looking at curriculum and things like that, you know, I'm I'm seeing a lot of, of the coach's triggers and kind of what's going on with them. And then I see how the students are interacting with that, and then triggers on top of that, and it's just like this whole thing. And so sometimes I have to, I have to figure out a way how to kind of address that, you know, and being really gentle with the course creator and saying, like, hey, you know, Why is this here? And like, can we look at this objectively? And like, is this? Is this here? Because it's serving the goal? Or is it here because you felt in that moment that you weren't good enough to do this? So you just like, packed in all of these extra things to make it feel a lot of value? Or whatever it might be? You know?

Lee Cordell 51:16


Erica Nash 51:17


Lee Cordell 51:18

Which is not self nurturing, right. And it's not self discipline, either. Because self discipline is, I trust my work with just these three core pieces of this course, are valuable. And I'm not going to put on 17 bonuses. Because these three pieces are enough. They're more than enough.

Erica Nash 51:38

Yes. Oh, my goodness, that could be a whole different episode. I have so many feelings on the bonus stuffing trap. This has been amazing. And I think that we could probably talk forever about all of this stuff, and just the nuances of all of this. And before we go, I just want to pop in really quick, I took both your trauma informed entrepreneur course and the trauma informed coach course. And I can't speak highly enough about them, thank you so much for putting that work out into the world. Because not only did it inform my work, but it... both of those...and it was I took the trauma informed entrepreneur first and then the trauma informed coach. And both of them in a like scaffolded way have helped me like have incredible breakthroughs that I was, I didn't know that I even needed to have. And like not only has it made me better at what I do, but it just made me a better all around human. And so I really appreciate that, you know, you've created this space and these products and that you're sharing these things with the world because, yeah, it's really needed.

Lee Cordell 52:59

Yeah, this is... it doesn't feel like work. And I really appreciate and like, thank you so much for that feedback, because that's the goal of these programs for me is like, how do I say this, I don't have an outcome for you when you take it, because everyone is gonna get something different out of it. My desire when people take these courses, like the entrepreneur course, and the coach course and our business mini mind that we have, is that you come in, and you see all the things you didn't see before, and that you leave those in that container with me. Like the ones that aren't working like you, you're like, Oh, I'm setting that down right here. Like, I'm not taking that with me further on. And also like, Oh, I'm gonna pick this up and leave to so it's it. Like I said, I just really appreciate that feedback, because it is like a reframing of oh my gosh, like I've been carrying this around, and I don't even want that. And also like there's this thing over here, I really want and let me pick that up and bring that in. And that because I feel so much better to put into my course or to offer to my students or to give to myself.

Erica Nash 54:16

Yeah, yes, well, it's it truly is life changing stuff. That's amazing. So thank you for that. Thank you for this for coming on here and sharing your wisdom with us. I so appreciate it. And I know that everybody listening is just going to get so many nuggets and so much wisdom from all of this. So very, very much appreciated. I'm going to include all of the links to all of the things in the comments. So anybody looking listening can go and find Dr. Lee and work with her you absolutely won't regret it. So, again, thank you for your time.

Lee Cordell 54:55

Thank you for having me.

Erica Nash 55:00

Well, I hope today's episode brought a little clarity and community to your next level course journey. If you enjoyed listening, please consider subscribing and leaving a review. And if you'd like to connect, be sure to find me over on Instagram at Erica Nash design or on my website at Erica I would love to hear from you. All right, you guys go forth, educate and change lives. I'll see you next time.


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