Once Exhausted, Now Valued With Patricia DeBough

Her story amplifies our motto "slow down to speed up" and that what she hasn't done is the most significant result. She realized that there was accurate thinking required before jumping into a series of untested actions. If not, she may move from a bad or difficult situation to a worse one. Today, she is in a new position, provides leadership, and is valued across the entire organization.

Having experienced job burnout early in her career, Patricia DeBough began to confront her work life and what she wanted it to be. Although successful, she believed in projecting a positive attitude, suffered from anxiety, and didn’t understand her value. As a result, she put up with or stayed too long in situations that were unhealthy or didn’t meet her aims. She was profoundly frustrated and felt powerless in certain circumstances and relationships, and she hustled for value instead of having an intrinsic sense of her worth or her specialized knowledge. Exhausted and dissatisfied, she didn’t fully understand the toll of her psychology.

Her story amplifies our motto “slow down to speed up” and that what she hasn’t done is the most significant result. She realized that there was accurate thinking required before jumping into a series of untested actions. If not, she may move from a bad or difficult situation to a worse one. Today, she is in a new position, provides leadership, and is valued across the entire organization.

Below you’ll find a transcript of this podcast episode that has been edited for your reading pleasure. You’ll also see links at the bottom of this post where you can find more information on the people and ideas mentioned in the episode.

Produced by: John Patterson & Tyson Crandall

I didn’t actually understand my value and my worth […] I was trying to be everything to everybody in a lot of respects and that’s exhausting.

John Patterson: Patricia, welcome to the Influence Ecology podcast.

Patricia DeBough: Thank you so much, John. It’s wonderful to be here.

John Patterson: Well, do tell us who you are. Introduce and say a little bit about where you live and what you do.

Patricia DeBough: My name is Patricia DeBough, I live in Colorado, just North of the Boulder-Denver Metro area and a little town called Longmont, with my husband and our four lb teacup chihuahua Moose. Moose is very important, have to get Moose in there. By day, I am a brand and marketing strategist and I really focus on design and brand experiences to bring the personality of a brand forward and to really enrich the personality of a brand. And I do that both through strong brand activations, events, strong visual identity as well as even physical spaces.

I’ve had the opportunity to actually pull brands through physical environments and kind of combine my love of interior design with my love of brand strategy. So that’s how I spend my days. And then I have some little side passion projects around interior design, any of that design and things like that. That’s a little bit about me.

John Patterson: Fantastic. So everybody here at Influence Ecology has a particular kind of journey and there are a few things I would love to address in this particular podcast. One of the things is I really appreciate on the front side that in your notes, that you talked a little bit about mental health and some of the things that you’ve learned or dealt with around mental health in this program.

Now, I’ll start first and let our listeners know we’re not medical professionals or psychological professionals, or anything like that. So I’m not, I don’t think you are, but you have some things about your own journey that you care to share. And I think that’s really useful, especially now with what’s going on in the world. And by the way, for anybody listening, we’re in the midst of the coronavirus quarantine. I’ve got my quarantine shake on today. Instead of my office suit, I’ve got my flannel and slippers just like you.

Patricia DeBough: And very handsome.

John Patterson: Oh, thank you so much. But I think that’d be useful and there are few things that are beautiful takeaways for people that I think might be relevant as well. So I think that’s one of the opportunities that we have. But before we get to that, I want to address your journey here.

One of the things that I would love to find out is just a little bit about your own journey and particularly what was life like? What were you thinking before Influence Ecology? What was going on? What were you thinking? What guided your actions, what was all that about?

Patricia DeBough: Yeah, so before I started with Influence Ecology, which was about three and a half years ago now, I had just turned 35 and I was going through I can only describe as a midlife crisis. And to steal maybe a term from Brené Brown, I think it eventually became a midlife awakening, but it definitely started as a midlife crisis, and it was a bit early. I think 35 is potentially early for that kind of thing. And, and I don’t want to say crisis in a negative way because it ended up being such an amazing experience for me and I learned so much about what I wanted out of life, but I was definitely in a place where everything from the outside appeared great.

I had a good paying job, I was successful. And for all intents and purposes, I owned a home. I had a wonderful marriage. And so from the outside, everything seemed and looked amazing and it had a lot to be grateful for. I felt happy in a lot of respects. And at the same time, there was kind of an underlying feeling of dissatisfaction, unhappiness and kind of a feeling of being a little bit stuck.

And what I started to realize was that there were ways that I was stuck and I had kept trying to kind of come up against those things and figure out how to get around them, and how to get around those blockages. And the stuff that I was trying to just wasn’t working and I was trying really, really hard and putting a lot of effort in, and it just wasn’t getting the result that I wanted.

John Patterson: Do you mind saying what some of those stucknesses looked like or felt like, or seemed like? Because it may be relevant to other people who have similar stuckness.

Patricia DeBough: Yes, yeah. So one of the big things was early in my career, I had gotten burned out. I was just at the point of exhaustion. I was emotionally exhausted, physically exhausted, and that was one of the things that definitely led to my unhappiness at least in that condition of life of career. One great example, looking back from an anxiety standpoint, the anxiety got in my way in my career in a number of areas. One in the things that I was able to take on and the ways that I was able to take advantage of opportunities within my career.

And one great example was about five years ago, I got to a place where I couldn’t fly anymore, because I had such flying anxiety. And flying is not an abnormal fear, that’s not something that is a strange thing to have a fear about. But I had a very high level of anxiety, because it was combined with kind of just generalized anxiety that I had in my life as well.

And so that fear of flying just became unmanageable. And so about five years ago I just stopped flying. And so as a marketer, I had events that I would have been great for me to go to and be at. There are people that I love that I wanted to go visit and travel. I travel a lot when I was younger and I love traveling.

I love seeing new places and there are so many countries and cities and places around the world that I wanted to visit. And it was really hampering not only my career, but also what I want to do in my personal life. So that was one just kind of one example of where the level of kind of anxiety and stress and fear that I lived with day to day really got in my way.

John Patterson: Very good. Anything else how your depression or anxiety showed up as symptomatic in your work life, career, life, or anything else?

Patricia DeBough: Definitely. Yeah, one of the other things that I’ve realized in hindsight is that I stayed too long or put up too long with unhealthy dynamics and I would feel very powerless in certain situations. Again, a lot of this was internal for me. This wasn’t necessarily something that I projected to the outside world. A lot of people wouldn’t have known that this was going on for me, but inside I was kind of like the duck’s legs under the water. Just constantly spinning and having all of these emotions and feelings and things, things going on that were not helpful and were not constructive.

And so I remember one example, there was an early, one of my very first Influence Ecology webinars, and it’s actually really funny story. Very early on, I was watching a webinar, I think it was something like fight, flight or transact, and I was sitting on my bed. I was working from home that day. I was sitting on my bed watching the webinar and I happened to look at while you guys were doing the welcome and thank you for being here. I happened to look at my email and I saw an email from a colleague that I had really struggled with.

Something about it just triggered me and I just started balling. And so I was sitting there listening to this webinar that was all about not becoming emotionally hijacked, balling. And I remember at the time sitting there thinking, “What is wrong with you? What are you doing? And this is what they’re talking about.”

And so I had such hope, first of all that I was involved with an organization that might be able to help the reason that I’m sitting on my bed crying right now. But just the irony of also that it was the don’t get emotionally hijacked and learn how to transact instead. So just one funny little example, but lots of stuff like that.

John Patterson: Well, I think that’s a very important point right now. We’ve got so many different people as you know that are in different states of emotional hijack, kind of whether or not they’re threatened financially. By the way, I just got off a conversation a moment ago with several people. There are some people who are doing so well right now. In fact, mostly because this tragedy has offered opportunities that they were prepared for.

Some people are doing well because they have a lot of surplus that they built knowing that breakdowns do happen and since we talk about was everything surplus so that you can survive certain breakdowns there. They’re doing okay. There’s a whole host of other people, their business is gone. It’s just gone. Their business model’s gone there and it’s all that kind of stuff.

So we’re doing everything that we can to help people transact effectively at this time. It’s one of the things that we’re just simply making sure that we offer. Some of those things are very tactical and some of those things are just simply very supportive, or maybe even connecting people with the right resources and all of that.

But just wanted to put that in there at this moment. So since you found yourself able to transact instead of being hijacked, as you said. Then what started to happen? What started happening during your participation? Where did you discover you were naive or where did you find that you weren’t thinking accurately? Tell us a little bit about that.

Patricia DeBough: So one of the things that I started to realize and one thing I will say is that about a year into my Influence Ecology studies, I started what I would call my therapy journey. I realized that there were some things that I couldn’t address on my own because I wasn’t able to think accurately, fully. And so one amazing thing that I’m so grateful for is that I had therapy along to kind of partner up and be co constitutive with my influence, ecology, learnings. And the two of those together have been so impactful for me.

And so what I started to realize was that I, one, I had a really hard time thinking accurately about myself. I could think accurately about other people and other people’s transactions, but not about myself or about my own. And I also was spending a lot of time what I would call hustling for value, seeing how hard I could work, how much I could do to try to feel validated and to kind of “prove myself.” And deep down what I realized is that it was because I didn’t actually understand my value and my worth.

And ultimately also I didn’t know what my specialized knowledge was. And so I was trying to kind of be everything to everybody in a lot of respects and that’s exhausting. And then two, I started to realize that like that example of listening to the webinar and kind of sitting there crying and feeling powerless and frustrated and depressed about a particular situation. I started to realize the emotional, but more importantly also physical toll that that was taking on me. And impact from a health perspective, physically and kind of my reputation and the value I could provide to other people.

And so that kind of first element of not realizing that I couldn’t think accurately, entirely for myself was I think the first step in really making a shift. And one of the other things too that I realized is that even through all of this, I had huge ambitions. I mean, all of these ideas being part in venture, I’ve got ideas for days. And so I had all these ideas that were kind of based in hope and possibility and the current, not as much in reality.

So the combination of seeing that I wasn’t able to think accurately starting to come to the realization through Influence Ecology that there’s a responsible nature to ambition. Ambitions can be dangerous if you’re not coming at it from a transactional approach. And that we get very wrapped up in the current and what the current expectations are.

And then starting to understand also the idea of value and really understanding and kind of decoupling myself from that feeling of having to prove myself. And really understanding what is it where I provide value. And that just allowed me to start to kind of unwind and unweave the thinking that wasn’t healthy and that had me kind of being somewhat self-destructive and high cost to myself.

John Patterson: I want to now move into what’s happened since you have some things that began to redirect your thinking and the way that you acted. What are some of the biggest takeaways or some of the biggest results?

Patricia DeBough: One of the things that I want to just kind of speak to right off the bat is that when I began studying with Influence Ecology, I came in very much from the perspective of “Okay, this is going to be great for work and for career. I’m going to launch this new business idea that I have.” That was the vision that I came into Influence Ecology with. And what I experienced and came to find out was that it was much more of a holistic experience. The fact that we addressed so many different conditions of life.

I have seen improvement across the board and have had impact across the board. And some of the things that really stand out to me when I look back in retrospect. One is the impact on my relationships and my ability to see other people to contribute and help other people from a transactional philosophy, and from a transactional personality standpoint has been huge for me. And not only just at work but also in personal relationships.

Like example, my husband and I were just celebrating this month, our 21st anniversary of dating, so that’s a long time.

John Patterson: Congratulations.

Patricia DeBough: And thank you very much. And he’s a judge and he’s a judge with a little bit of a producer wing and then I’m an inventor performer. So we’re across the transaction cycle from each other. And one thing about two years into my study with Influence economy of learning about the personality types I heard either at a webinar or at a conference, I don’t remember which one it was. But I think it was Kirkland that started to share about what bragging sounds like for different personality types. And when he got to the judge he talked … Yes, it was good. It was so good. And when he got to the judge, he was talking about how bragging sounds like complaining.

And that realization, I will tell you has made such a big difference in my relationship with my husband because after 20 years of being together, the inventor, performer person over here on my side of the relationship, I heard every time that my husband complained about something, I heard it in one of two ways. One, the inventor side of me heard it as something to go to work on, a problem to be fixed, a possibility to be created to solve that problem.

Or I would hear it as a little bit of a fight because it would kind of trigger into my ego or two, my performer side would hear it as something that I did wrong or some way that he wasn’t okay and I just take care of him or our relationship or kind of like remove that struggle or that complaint that he had.

And so I spent 20 years running around like buffering everything, trying to figure out like, “How could I fix this and take care of that, take responsibility for this.” And so that alone making that mental shift and realizing, “Oh my gosh, that is his form of bragging.” And then also looking at it as a contribution because judges see the world through the lens of standards and right and wrong.

And so seeing it not as a complaint of like, “I’m just going to sit here and be annoyed and complain.” But seeing it and trying to reframe it as his opportunity to kind of contribute to how he thinks the world should be made a big difference for me in my relationship with him.

John Patterson: Well, that’s fantastic. That is so fantastic. That’s really great.

Patricia DeBough: Thank you.

John Patterson: And so there’s a particular thing that I really do love that you put in your notes about one of the biggest results that you’ve gotten that you said, “In some respects, what I haven’t done is the biggest results.” Tell us a little bit about that. I love that bit.

Patricia DeBough: Yeah, it’s very, very true. One of the very first FOT sessions that I was on, I remember you sharing the idea of slow down to speed up and at the time I thought, Oh yeah. Okay that makes sense. I get it.” I thought I had a very cursory understanding of what that meant, but as I started going through the fundamentals of transaction program and then subsequently map the idea of that, I couldn’t yet, one, articulate my offer in a way that it was very clear for a single ecology and had a clear breakdown that it solved for.

I couldn’t have a plan and a pathway for articulating how the work and action would get done in a way that wasn’t going to exhaust me. I hadn’t yet narrowed my 115 ideas down to one and so what I realized through this study is that I was not yet ready to launch a business and to launch a new offer. There was work to do first.

And so I had to spend time stopping, slowing down and looking at not only those things that needed to be built, but also focusing on where were there things that were threats? Where were the things that we’re going to get in my way if I were to start this business and start this new offer that would make it a struggle and that would make it unsuccessful ultimately. Whether it’s unsuccessful was because the business wasn’t successful or unsuccessful because I would be exhausted and burned out. Because either one of those things wouldn’t look like success to me.

I spent a lot of time removing threats like all of the stuff we talked about around anxiety, fear, my ability to overwork and overthink and never stop inventing. We can whole side track. We should just ask my sister sometime around me not stopping inventing around my wedding. We can talk about that in a second, but that’s a funny story.

Yeah, that’s her favorite one to bring up. The work that I did to slow down to speed up was to start to go to work on those things that I saw ultimately would start to get in my way. And some of that was the kind of a psychological element of things that had happened in my childhood that I was bringing into adulthood. That anxiety and fear that I struggled with and then looking overall at my fitness and not fit fitness and physical fitness, but the transactional philosophy, definition of fitness, of whether or not I was fit to actually do and complete this offer.

And so that has been a lot of the work that I’ve done over the last three years. And it’s slightly embarrassing to say, but I also think that any inventors out there would definitely understand this, that it’s taken me a good three years to really get to a place where I feel like I’m starting to get narrow enough to actually decide on one offer and one offer alone. So that’s an accomplishment.

John Patterson: It is.

Patricia DeBough: And then I’ve also spent a lot of time experimenting the possibilities. Early on in my Influence Ecology journey, I talked a lot about what my business was going to be and what I wanted to do and I was going to do this and I was going to do that. And I verbalized all of that stuff and I had a narrative that was like only half big, but I was verbalizing all of that.

And what I realized and what I have been kind of turned inward and started to do is that it wasn’t ready for public consumption yet. And two, I had a lot of work to do to experiment with all of those possibilities and kind of test them and see is this really what I want to do with my time. It sounds like a great idea. Now I have some proof and evidence over here that I think I would like this.

There’s a big difference when the rubber meets the road and you’re actually doing something day in and day out. And so I have spent time narrowing and experimenting and actually kind of getting my hands dirty in these different things that I’ve wanted to try. And I found that some really, really resonated and some were super fun, and were exactly what I wanted and some weren’t.

And so those are the things that I’ve been able to start to kind of narrow and pull back from because I got out and just kind of tested them and play around with them a little bit before making these broad sweeping claims about like, “I’m starting this business and I’m so excited.” That was one of the ways that I have slowed down to speed up and that I have done the less, not more.

John Patterson: It’s really great. And so while you’re all at work at that and you’re thinking accurately and removing all of the threats and removing some of the anxieties and things like that. In the meantime, it sounds like also you left a job that didn’t meet your aims, but also that particular position, your value wasn’t seen or appreciated or perhaps even align with the organization’s aims. Can you say a little bit about that?

Patricia DeBough: Yeah, definitely. So I was in a role where there was a big disconnect between the value that was seen in me on my team versus the value that was seen amongst the executive team. And I’ll say to this day, I don’t really even understand all of the nuances of exactly what was going on there. And there are lots of theories and lots of things that I could point to. But ultimately what I realized is that there was a cultural and ethics misfit.

And I don’t mean ethics as an ethical, I mean that what aye put first and foremost was not in line with what this organization put first and foremost. And so even though I have tons of respect and lots of friends at this organization, it just turned out that it wasn’t the right place for me. And so I made a decision at some point doing accurate thinking and the realization that it just wasn’t working for my health and my other aims any longer.

And I had a great coach at one point give me this advice of there’s kind of three ways that you can be. You can adapt, you can flee, you can change or leave or change your environment or you can die. Those are kind of from a nature standpoint, those are your three options. I had spend a lot of time trying to adapt, learning this, let’s bring this coach in, let’s try to fix this thing over there. Roles and responsibilities. Okay, we’ve got all that figured out and something still wasn’t working.

And ultimately at the end of the day, what I realized is that there was an expectation that I just keep digging in and “prove myself.” And the realization that I had was that there was a lot of there. And so there was a lot of interest in me sticking around because people liked me. But ultimately I realized that the organization did not have a clear understanding of the value that they were looking at in my role, and did not have a clear understanding of the value that I provided. And so I made the decision that it wasn’t a fit. And so I decided to move on and do something else.

John Patterson: And now?

Patricia DeBough: So I spent some time as a brand and marketing consultant over the last year, which has been really rewarding, gave me a ton of flexibility. I got to work with some really amazing clients. Got to learn new things and put all of my years of practice into kind of a different level of application. And then I started working with this great client locally here in Colorado and I just recently joined them as a full-time employee.

And my experience in this organization has been so wonderful. I feel incredibly valued, not only just on my team, but all the way through to the executive level. I have executives asking me questions about transactional philosophy and transactional personality. I get to make recommendations, I get to have strategic conversations. It’s funny, one of our executives recently just on Slack sent me a message and he’s like, “Okay, hey, guidance counselor, I need your help.”

And he wanted to talk about how a meeting had gone and how it hadn’t gone well from his perspective. And he wanted me to sit down and kind of help him kind of pick it apart and figure out why it hadn’t gone well. And I was able to talk about an address from a, both a personality standpoint, but also, “Okay, well that’s because you guys were backing up in the transaction cycle. You were in possibilities. They were in assessment. So that’s why it felt like there was a weird kind of tug of war.”

So just that opportunity to, one, feel like I’m providing value, but then two, to also be able to bring these kinds of things into my career environment, my work environment. It’s fun. It’s really, really fun. So I’m super happy in the place that I am now.

John Patterson: It’s fantastical. Congratulations to you on that. Really so very happy for you. And finally, I want to invite you to climb on your soapbox about anything that matters to you. So do you want to say anything from your soapbox? Any advice?

Patricia DeBough: So there’s this idea of a growth mindset versus a fixed mindset and a fixed mindset is this is how it is. I can’t change my life. I just am kind of a victim of my circumstances, so to speak. And the thing that I would really encourage everybody to think about is having a growth mindset. There are so many resources, so many studies like Influence Ecology. There are therapy resources, there are coaches, there are so things out there that can get you unstuck from whatever it is that you’re struggling with, whether it’s something career-based or whether it’s something like psychological, whether you have depression or anxiety, there are just resources after resources.

And so I would just encourage anybody who feels stuck in their life in any way to keep trying and to keep searching and to believe that you can change your life. Yes, there are objective things sometimes that objectively cannot be changed, but there are so many things that can, and you can have so much more power than you realize by going to work. And it may not be the first thing that you discover, it may not be the second. It may take you a hundred times to figure out what that one or multiple things are.

But just please keep trying because it is so worth it on the other side, on the other side of whatever it is that you’re struggling with. And so I would love to be a resource. People can find me on Instagram or LinkedIn. I’m not a psychological expert. I’m only an expert on my own experience, but that is one of the things that I love most in life is to help other people in some way make their experience even just a little bit easier. Because I really believe that we go through things in life, so that we can then kind of guide the path for other people after.

That’s my soapbox is keep trying to find those resources and the waves around wherever you’re stuck and ask for help. Reach out to people and just do that as many times as you need to because it’s totally possible.

John Patterson: Well, Patricia DeBough, thank you so much for being a guest today on the Influence Ecology podcast. Certainly this interview will help lots and lots of people. Thank you so very much.

Patricia DeBough: Thank you, John. It’s great to be here and I will just say thank you so much to you and Kirkland and the entire Influence Ecology team. I do not think you will ever understand the impact that you make on everybody in this ecology and so much appreciation for you all.

John Patterson: My special thanks to our guest Patricia DeBough. In our show notes, you’ll find leaks to connect with her and all the links to websites, books, or downloads mentioned in this podcast. The Influence Ecology Podcast is produced by Influence Ecology, LLC in Ventura, California. This episode was recorded March 30th, 2020 and was produced by Tyson Crandall and John Patterson. You can find a transcript for this and other episodes at InfluenceEcology.com. This episode is made possible through the assistance of the Influence Ecology faculty, staff, mentors, and students around the world. Co-founder Kirkland Tibbels and our colleagues comprise an international collective of professionals who are active in the development of the philosophy of Transactionalism and the discipline of Transactional Competence™. Kirkland is considered a leading philosopher and authority in the field and he has authored more than 500 papers on the subject, study, and discipline.

The podcast theme is by Chris Standring and titled “Fast Train to Everywhere.” You can subscribe to the Influence Ecology Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts. You can also find us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or via email at podcast@influenceecology.com.

If you haven’t yet offered a rating or review, I ask that you take a moment to go to iTunes or your podcast app and let us know what you think. This helps us more than you know.

Podcast Bonuses:

Influence Ecology is the leading business education specializing in Transactional Competence™, having published and contributed to the only comprehensive text on the subject, Transactionalism: An Historical and Interpretive Study by Trevor J. Phillips. Co-Founder Kirkland Tibbels has authored more than 500 papers on the subject, study, and discipline of transactional competence and is a sought-after lecturer at universities, major corporations, and civic organizations around the world. 

Influence Ecology’s curriculum includes conferences, webinars, online tools, podcasts, and mentorship utilized by men and women in over seventy countries around the world. Our membership includes an international assembly of accomplished professionals, faculty, and peers from a variety of countries, industries, and cultures.

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