On this episode of THRIVE—sponsored by Workamajig—Kelly and Amira Alvarez talk about how past programming keeps agency owners from leveling up and why it’s so hard to visualize ourselves being in alignment with what we want. Watch or listen (and share!).
EP 79: Bringing Awareness to Our Blind Spots
Kelly: Welcome to this week's episode of Thrive, your agency resource. Today, we're talking about how to bring awareness to our blind spots. And I'm joined by Amira Alvarez, founder and CEO of The Unstoppable Woman, which is essentially a global coaching company, helping entrepreneurs and creatives achieve their dreams and goals in record time. Amira, thank you so much for being here. I'm really excited.
Amira: I'm excited to be here. Thanks for having me.
Kelly: So your personal story is really rooted in figuring out how to get out of your own way, which is like the thing that none of us can seem to figure out in a short amount of time. So can you do a little storytelling for us to kick off the episode?
Amira: Absolutely. So my personal story is like life is good but it's not great. It's not extraordinary. And without diminishing the good, how do you get to great, how do you get to extraordinary, how do you get to be living the life that you have in your mind's eye, like your aspirational life, without diminishing the fact that we're humans with human struggles? And there's going to be stuff that comes up, but like, how do we really go for more. And I looked around and there were people who actually had pinnacle lives. And in their lane, they had pinnacle success. And I'm more of a renaissance person. I'm not Michael Jordan who's gonna be like the best, or let's use a female example, Serena Williams. They are in their lane. How did they do that? It was almost like I used that as an excuse, like, oh, they're just a tennis player. They can concentrate all that. And here I am. I'm a generalist at life. I want to excel in my business, of course. Well, that was enforced to me. But I also want to have this delighted lit up life in all aspects. And so, I kind of use that as an excuse. And at some point I realized, I don't have a clue how to do this. I'm staying in the good all the time, right? It never got to pinnacle. And, you'd have these little moments of highlights, but it never really got to that high level of success. And it never dropped super terrible.
Kelly: So like complacent? Do you think it was complacency?
Amira: I didn't see myself as complacent. I saw myself as an action taker, actually kind of driven and ambitious and like top of my class and all of that. I would never have self-describe myself as complacent or lazy or any of that. In fact, I think that's a real key part of this story, which is, I understood hard work. I understood drive. I understood going for excellence. I understood that but I wasn't actually getting the results that I thought that equation like hard work, I bought it, hook, line, and sinker, “Hard work gets you the results you want.” And hard work is part of it. Life, you need to put effort into things. But that wasn't the key for me in terms of scaling my business. And when I had this wakeup call, it was the end of another 12, 14, 15 hour day like it was a long day. And I was at the end of the day, I was sitting on the floor of my office leaning up against the couch that I had in there with my laptop on my lap, trying to get one more thing done and here's the sort of behind the scenes ugly truth of it. I was still in the clothes that I had slept in. They weren't sexy clothes. They were dog haired covered sweats with like the big T-shirt. I'm all about comfort also, but like, it was not an elevated experience. I hadn't taken a shower that day and I hadn't brushed my teeth and it was like 7 PM at night. So there I was, sitting on the floor of my office, like all of this. I hadn't brushed my teeth. I hadn't washed my face. And my husband is like, hey, baby, come down for dinner. And I'm like, calling down. Yeah, I'll be right down. Just need to get one more thing done. And of course, one more thing was another thing, was another thing, was another thing, and 20 minutes, 40 minutes passed, and he's like, hey, baby, I'm starting for dinner. Not out of resentment or anything but like, you do you but I'm gonna have my dinner. And I was like, I cannot sustain this. I'm not getting the value out of this. I'm not actually getting ahead. I'm just in fear. I'm in fear that if I don't do the next thing, the House of Cards is gonna fall apart. And so at that point, I was like, there's got to be a better way. I understand that intellectually, I'm using my rational brain here. And there's got to be a better way. But I'm not I'm attached to this way of being. And I can't see myself out. And at that point, I went on a search for how to break through, how to actually do life and do business differently. I studied the tactics, the strategies, marketing, and how to create your business and all that, which is absolutely essential. And what the key for me was learning how my subconscious programming was stopping me and how I had a self-image that was attached to doing in a particular way that I didn't even understand existed, but was driving all my actions and not consciously but unconsciously on autopilot. When I figured this out, and took the next level actions, like because the awareness is one part, but then there's action, I went from making 138 a year to making 700K a year. That blew my mind like that was something that I personally thought I could do it. That wasn't my self-image. It’s what I wanted, but the reason it blew my mind was I didn't think I could do it, but I did it. And then keep scaling, keep going across the 7 figure mark, all of that. And now this is what I teach regularly, and help people break through.
Kelly: Right. So you hit on something that the episode that I had Aaron Rose on. He talked about past programming. Can you talk a little bit about that? Because that's probably a little bit more of an unfamiliar concept to most of the people listening or watching.
Amira: Absolutely. So ever so briefly, we have a conscious mind and we have a subconscious mind. Conscious mind can accept or reject things, can make choices. It's where we think rationally about X, Y & Z then PDQ. All of this stuff. Our subconscious mind is where our programming lies. We were an open fishbowl. Meaning, we couldn't reject anything from our outside environment up until the age of say, 7 to 10. And so we're like this open fishbowl, everything in our environment comes in, and we create a belief structure, our paradigms, the meaning, the lens through which we see the world and our self-image, the meaning that we are ourselves. And, this works in a lot of ways. This is how we're socialized. This is how we're raised. In lots of ways that works, but in some fundamental ways, it doesn't work if you were brought up to think, say you're in business for yourself and you know that you need to make sales to run your business. Otherwise, it's a hobby and it's not a business. But if you were brought up to think asking for something, asking for what you want is overstepping, or you're asking for too much, then you're gonna have a really hard time asking for the sale. And that's a very specific example. When we're kid, we're in the toy store, and we're like, hey, mommy, I want the big wheels or I want the new tennis racket or the Barbie or whatever your thing was. And maybe ask mommy, maybe ask daddy, whatever it was, you asked for something. And your parent probably said something that either was a no or not now, or maybe later or if you jump through this hoop, you can get it or if you put that on the list, you can get it. There's something around asking that wasn't okay. And then we layer onto that. They probably had money stuff, 98% of people have money stuff. And they were like, oh, I can't afford that. We're not going to make rent this month. And I'm going to say something to deflect it. But energetically, we know that we've done something wrong because they feel guilty about saying no, or they don't feel clean about that.
Kelly: Right. And we've caused that, in that primal parent, that primer.
Amira: Correct. And then you have a belief in your programming and your subconscious programming that says, you're not conscious about this at all, okay? It's like just this underlying thing. Asking for what you want is dangerous because mommy gets mad and cuts off the love. And we know that our love, like how we survive as kids, how we know we're gonna survive, is if that love connection is still there. Because mommy and daddy were parents. They were where the survival came from. We know that instinctually. So there's a ton of these. This is just one very obvious example. That wasn't obvious to me at all when I was starting this. Now to finish this teaching point, the subconscious is running this program. It's on autopilot. And it is telling your conscious mind what to think about everything that comes into your world. So using that sales conversation example, again, you're in a conversation with a potential client, you're presenting your proposal, and they say, I want to think about it. Your subconscious says, oh, okay, that's fine. I'm not going to ask for anything else. So it doesn't put a follow up, call on the schedule. I teach people how to have a sales conversation. You have to ask some follow up questions there. You have to say, what is it that you need to think about? I'd love to speak to your concerns. What is it that you want to go back and think about? Because oftentimes I can help you work through that. Not pushy, not creepy, or weird; it's of service. But if you don't think you can ask, you will interpret that as oh, they'll just get back to me. And then you wonder why you're not making any sales.
Kelly: You’re not closing.
Kelly: It's so interesting. There was a blog post that I wrote a few months ago, that was along these very similar lines, but it was using the attachment style theory or attachment theory. Mary Ainsworth study in psychological development and how attachment theory from my perspective leads to exactly what you're talking about, difficulty with new business, difficulty for asking for what you need. Difficulty closing the sale. And like how a person's response, whether they decide, hey, we're gonna choose a different agency, or whatever the situation is; how that response and how you respond to their respond is actually from childhood. I mean, we might call this like past programming or attachment style or all of these different things. There's a ton of different ways that you can sort of contextualize it. But it all comes down to the same thing, it's this program that's running underneath the surface. And so, what about in terms of like our self-image, being in alignment with what we want? Obviously, this is part of why it's so difficult, but I would imagine that there are other reasons or other factors why it's so difficult for those two things to be in harmony.
Amira: Absolutely. So one of the ways that I help people intellectually understand this because we need to have an intellectual grasp on it. So we can then use our conscious mind to make different decisions because your subconscious is going to just keep going. The way to change is to make a different decision. But that's very hard if your subconscious is telling you what to think about every decision that you have to make. So we have to reprogram our subconscious. And one way, we need to do is to look at this our self-image and remap that. So, if you have a self-image that says like, I am someone who only can charge a certain amount. So let's say you have the self-image that you're not supposed to be the pinnacle person or the person who knocks it out of the park and you're not supposed to be using the example that I started off this conversation with, or the bottom of the class, but you're supposed to be like top of the class but don't stand out too far. And you have the self-image. And you have that self-image that you have to struggle for your success. That was one of mine. Like, if I didn't struggle for it, I wasn't worthy. There's many more but you have this image of yourself of how the world works and who you are in it. And you have a cybernetic mechanism, which is your subconscious programming that's going to, here's your self-image, it's like a target on the wall, and you're going up to your new idea of what you want your business to go to, Kelly's coaching you and you're like going gangbusters, and then realizes that you're going to miss that target and it will pull you back down. And this becomes this famine cycle, all of that because you have a target that says, this is who you are. It's like a heat seeking missile or like the cybernetic mechanism on your thermostat. If you set it to 70 and you get to 72, it's going to bring you back to 70. You drop back to 68, it's going to bring you back to 70. That's how we work. So we're constantly doing things that bring us back to our self-image, our target, and we're completely unconscious that we're doing this.
Kelly: And that's where I think some of these things like fear of failure, fear of success, a lot of those like the big fears that our subconscious or unconscious, those are the things that bring you back to that thermostat setting. I think that's a great analogy.
Amira: Yeah. And it comes out in the most reasonable ways that you will agree with. So like, let's use the sales example, again. You're doing great. You're making sales. You're on target for your new big goal. And then your subconscious is like, whoa, you're going in the wrong direction. And suddenly you'll have a team issue. Three people leave. You have to hire new people. There's a real issue there. It's not that there's not a real thing that you have to deal with. But you take your eye off of the sales ball for a month, and you start, you don't make sales. This is the feast or famine cycle. But it your subconscious got you to agree with stopping to make sales because you had to deal with this team issue. So it's completely reasonable. But it's this mechanism at play. And you have to break through on that, on all these friends but consistently, stick to where you're going, and take action that's in alignment with your true goal, not with your subconscious. And it feels like oil and water, like all of you is going to be saying, you got to deal with the team stuff. And that comes first. When you really have to be consistent. Did I do my outreach today?
Kelly: So what we're overarchingly talking about are really these blind spots that we have, because they're blind because they are unconscious. So at a high level, what is your methodology when you work with clients? What is your methodology for helping people see those blind spots and bring awareness to them?
Amira: Yeah, so there's a lot of different angles, pathways to that; of course, not one size fits all. But fundamentally, I ask them about where they want to go. So we get super clear on their goals and we make sure that there's more meaning behind them, that they want it badly enough because mediocre goals, you won't do the work that's required to break through. You need to be madly in love with it even if it scares you. So for instance, that year that I made a big quantum leap. I was saying, I want to make a million dollars. I heard that you could make a million dollars a year. Why can't I? Okay, I'm gonna try for that. I didn't know how to do it. I made the decision. I was going to do it before I knew how it was a big juicy goal. And if I had chosen like I had made 138 the year before, if I had chosen say, let's get to 200 this year, which is a completely reasonable incremental goal. I would not have been as excited or pushing, really driving myself. And having that bigger goal created new ideas of how and methodologies and where. So first, I really get clear on where someone truly wants to go and then we look at what's stopping them, what has consistently gotten in their way. We have a whole conversation about that. And then we come up with two prongs there. There's like coming up with the tactical plan to get them from where they are now to where they want to be like the business model, all of that. And then in the process of talking about the business model, generally speaking, all the resistance comes up. I can't do that because X, Y & Z, and then we go under the surface. Where did that start? Like, where did you learn that? Because here's one of the things about working with someone who has done it before has done what you want to do. They're at a higher level of awareness than you are. When I hired my mentor. I had to get over my DIY. Like, that's the only way to do it. That was a self-image thing. And I can only be truly successful if I do it on my own, scale life, much less a business. Like if you do everything yourself. I was really stuck in that. So I hired someone who had a higher level of awareness to bring me up to that level of awareness. I was working here, not here. And that's one of the tricks of quantum leaping. Like you bust through that level of awareness. So when I'm talking to someone, I'm working from that higher level of awareness, and very directly and emphatically, like I don't dance around things, and I will tell them how they're not seeing the truth of the situation. I will tell them specifically, you're caught in this lie. This is the lie you're in. That's not true. Let's look and I will show them how it's not true.
Kelly: And where does it come from.
Amira: Yeah. Because here's the thing, Kelly, we think it's true. We're in the forest for the trees. It's not like, I don't want to believe it, or that happens to other people but not me. We actually think it's true. So busting that open very directly and then really quickly giving them a new action that's going to create an effect that's different, so that they solidify the work.
Kelly: Yeah. So let's sort of wrap up by talking a little bit about universal law. So this is like the concept or the principle by which you're guiding these clients. I definitely subscribe to this theory or this concept as well. So yeah, let's talk a little bit about that. Because that's just a fun topic.
Amira: Oh, my goodness. So actually, it's more than a fun topic for me, like it is. I mean, I know what you're saying. I love it. It is what changed my world, understanding the universal laws of success, and studying them and not just studying them, but living them, holding myself to a higher standard. So like, what does this mean? I'm having some negative experience right now. What truth do I need to bring to this to bring me to the next level of awareness beingness experience? And when I use these laws, it clarifies everything. It gave me the roadmap to success. And here's the thing, Kelly, I don't know about you. But growing up, I was very reactive. I was a child that wanted to please my parents and I learned right and wrong from that reactive place. And it wasn't based on some core principle of truth. It was very outside driven. So if you'd see me 10 years ago, you would have seen someone who outwardly looked confident, but internally was jumping through hoops and trying to figure out how to do the right thing. And you have no idea what you're talking about. Like, if it's the right thing, it's the right thing. And I didn't have an internal grounding of that. And so I was completely outside driven. I was completely reactive. I was living in fear all the time, even though I wouldn't have necessarily named it that way. Like did I do it wrong? If someone is upset at me. Am I going to fuck this up? Like, all of that that's fear. And it was because I did not understand. I did not understand where security comes from. And as part of that, to be very specific for people in business, but also for people in the workplace and jobs where they work from silence for someone else, I did not understand where money came from. And in our culture in our society, if you don't know how to create money, you will always be in fear in all your relationships. Because money touches all those relationships. And so you are going to be jumping through hoops trying to do the right thing for other people, because you are afraid of not having enough for survival. Because you actually don't know how to create the money you want when you want it. It's like a mystery. And when I learned these laws of success, which I love teaching, I got it like I understood the creative process. I understood how to create anything I wanted, whether it was money or some other goal. Like we were joking earlier about having great sex. And like, my company stands for delightful life in all areas like let's be unstoppable everywhere. And I did not used to think that that was possible for me. So I had to change my self-image. I had to do the belief work, but I also had to learn the creative process. And part of that is using the laws of success in universal law. One of them is the law of clarity, which says if the desire is felt, the supply is ready to appear; everything is created as a whole. There are no halves or fractions or a human creation. But in life, there are no halves. So if I want to be someone who's in a lit up relationship, having amazing sex, having intimacy, whatever you want, that was one of the things I wanted, the desires felt the supplies ready to appear. Now I have to understand how to work that to the next level.
Kelly: Right. It doesn’t just appear and then like, okay, great, I'm done.
Amira: Yeah. But understanding that if you want something, if you truly want it, it's there for you. Now it's your job as a human being to tap into your creative agency to make that happen.
Kelly: Right. I love sort of just like underscoring the whole conversation with this, because it really pinpoints that this is about an integrated life. Like we're talking about money, we're talking about relationships; you're talking about business development, all of these things. And like, as an agency owner, creative leader, there's no difference between you as an individual and you as the owner of a business, like you're the same person. And so what you're talking about in terms of the whole, you could sort of apply that into the integration of life, like you're not a fraction of a person here and a fraction of a person here. Your one whole. So I just I really appreciate wrapping up with that because I think this whole idea that we've had for so long about work life balance is such a misnomer. It's work life integration. And the better that you get at these things in your personal life, it's just naturally going to transcend into how you're running your business because you're showing up fully. And I think that's what it's all about, delightful life.
Amira: Yes, absolutely.
Kelly: Amira, thank you so much. I love this conversation. Totally speaking my love language, as you know. So thank you so much for joining me today.
Amira: You're so welcome.