What Catching a Cake Has to Do With High Performance

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What if you were already a leader, a high performer, and you just couldn’t see it?


Has something ever happened which you KNOW is silly but yet it sits in the background of your thoughts? The experience of being embarrassed or humiliated continues to live on.


For a client, those background thoughts were propelling a level of anxiety that had not been present for years. The kind where your thoughts and feelings manifest in terms of struggling to breathe.


In her words she felt 'helpless', and like a 'foetus'. The power of our words to create our world is profound.


When we looked at what was behind her anxiety we got to an incident where she was 19.


She was waitressing and she opened up a glass cupboard to get out a cake and the shelf and the cake fell out, and she CAUGHT it.

When the cake shelf hit the ground there was a lot of noise and people came and saw her holding the cake with a shelf on the ground.


A chef told her ‘We can’t have mess up like this!’ and she was sent home. She never waitressed again. She avoided being in a situation where it was possible to experience in her words ‘being humiliated again, and made to feel worthless, like she couldn’t do anything right.’


In that moment she created a belief:


‘If I lead and make decisions, I could get it wrong. I don’t want to get it wrong so I will stay in my lane.'

This narrative was stuck in a story based on how she had felt in the moment of being told ‘We can’t have fuck ups like this!’ and then being sent home.


But had she actually messed up? NO!

Her quick reactions led her to save the cake.


Those who had admonished her had a perception of reality based on what they saw not based on what had happened. The consequence was that she took this on based on an old belief that this must have been her fault. Their perception of reality became her reality.


Have you ever experienced someone’s else’s judgement of you becoming your judgement of yourself?


When my client got clear on not only had she not done something wrong but she had thrived in that situation by catching a falling cake, leaving it unscathed, ready to be sold, the narrative of 17 years before disappeared.


In this moment she saw that she had avoided leading because she perceived that at 19 she had done something wrong, and she never wanted to feel that way again.


The next layer of the belief cake was removed when she saw how this had also perpetuated a belief that she was generally indecisive.

I asked her who she was being when she caught the cake. She said ‘decisive’. To which I replied 'And yet earlier you shared your anxiety was coming out because you are indecisive.’


She responded, ‘when push comes to shove I am decisive’. I asked ‘What is push come to shove, where does it exist?


She said, ‘it doesn’t.’


Then what is it? At first she said 'the future' and then she paused, looked for a moment, and said 'NOW'.


'If there was only NOW, then how would you act differently? Could you lead a team?






‘Because inside of NOW There would be an urgency, I would be an absolute demon.’


I said: ‘What if you were already were a high performing leader and all there was to do was to walk backwards to stepping into who you already are?'


She said ‘that’s true!’


The next day she spoke to me and said ‘I have been an absolute demon today’, and she started listing off all her accomplishments. And now that she she doesn’t experience the same triggers, she is less fearful in her professional life and embraces being a high performer.


If there was a narrative that in the space of a conversation not just shifted your anxiety but allowed you to see how great you are, what would that be like for you?


If you want to experience coaching from a world class coach, who has worked with the leading coaches of the last 50 years in high performance and leadership, then book a call today.



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