A small business can be a really accurate reflection of that’s business’s owner. So when an entrepreneur is fraught with insecurity that is going to show up in the business. Marlene Cameron helps business owners and entrepreneurs to connect with their innate wisdom and resilience and to see that their moment-to-moment thinking doesn’t need to derail them when they have times of insecurity or doubt.
Marlene Cameron has been training, coaching and mentoring business owners, leaders and mental health professionals since 2002. Former successful careers as a commercial interior designer, business owner/manager, management consultant and financial analyst have garnered her extensive experience and expertise in business leadership and strategy, unlocking human potential and enhancing resiliency and well-being.
One of Marlene’s clients won the 2006 International Coach Federation (ICF) sanctioned Prism Award for “Business Excellence Achieved Through Coaching” and Marlene was part of a team of coaches working with executives at Chevron Resources Canada, winner of the Large Business Prism Award in 2010.
You can find Marlene Cameron at MarleneCameron.com and on Instagram @marlenelcameron.
- On our mistaken impression that going into the past helps heal us
- When we’re not grounded in our own capabilities, we’re at the mercy of whatever thought is going through us in a given moment
- How we continue to seek validation to solve the insecurity
- Learning to not get caught up in the insecure thinking that’s coming up in a moment
- What our self-doubt may be an indicator of
- How state of mind is so often the culprit when a business fails
Transcript of Interview with Marlene Cameron
Alexandra: Marlene Cameron, welcome to Unbroken.
Marlene: Thanks, Alexandra.
Alexandra: Tell us a little bit about your background and how you got interested in the Three Principles?
Marlene: I’ll give you the short version of a long history of career transition. I actually started off as a commercial interior designer, and I think I was 30 years old when I decided that I wanted to work for myself and started a small consulting practice. I did commercial interior design, some mostly office interiors, and some institutional work.
And then I moved to the United States and thought I’d go back to school. And thought, initially, I would do a master’s in architecture, but ended up doing an MBA, and then found the whole world of finance. So then I became a chartered financial analyst and, and thought I’d work in that world. But I realized that they wanted me to work as hard for their businesses as I had worked in my own business, and I didn’t want to do that anymore.
I had the opportunity to take a coaching program. I worked initially with entrepreneurs and executives, and then segued over to the field of energy psychology. I taught a technique for many years to coaches, counselors, mental health professional psychologists, as a way for them to help their clients to regulate their emotional state. I did that for many, many years.
But what I started noticing with observing my students working with their clients was that people were imagining things like worst case scenarios, or, what if this happens and becoming very emotionally distraught about that. My question I kept asking my colleagues, in my supervision classes was that, how do you help the client differentiate between something that’s factual, and something that we call fictional? Like, he made it up or dreamed it up?
I kept asking that question over and over again, until a colleague of mine actually in Vancouver said you might be interested in understanding called the Three Principles because it speaks to this. The idea of the role of thought in our experience. So I started watching YouTube videos every day. I think when people come to this understanding, it’s like even though you don’t know what it is, something draws you in. And maybe that’s that deeper part of us that we speak to in this understanding that said, Oh, here it is, oh, this is what it is. And so that’s how I got drawn into it.
Alexandra: And then, it must have looked to you like it provided an answer to that question that you had about fact versus fiction.
Marlene: Yes, because especially with this technique, we did a lot about going back to the past and trying to resolve somebody’s emotional memory. I remember working with a young client one time, and she said to me, this is really painful. And I’m thinking like, she’s right. It is painful.
But, I was of the understanding, then, well, that’s cathartic, or, you’ve got to go through that to get through to the other side. And maybe without knowing that, I wondered if that was true, because I had my own experience of feeling very anxious.
I felt like an imposter. In spite of all of my academic and business achievement. I still felt inadequate, I still felt very insecure. And the thought I’ve been working with his technique for 15 years, and that really hasn’t shifted for me. So I suspect there was something in that curiosity for me. It’s like, without really knowing, we don’t know these things. We’re just drawn to them.
Alexandra: That brings us around to one of the things I wanted to talk to you about which is self-doubt in entrepreneurs and business owners.
It sounds like you were drawn to that area because of your own experience. Would you say that’s true?
Marlene: Yes, one of the – I call it a symptom or a sign – of what we what we understand to be imposter syndrome, which is the label for something we experience is that in spite of all of somebody’s obvious talent, achievement success, they externalize the reason why they’re successful, like they were lucky, or it was a fluke, or they just work way harder than the other people or even that you’re just nice and likable. And somebody chose you because of that.
If we don’t have that grounding in the understanding of our own capabilities or our own talents, our own value, then we’re at the mercy of whatever thought is going through our minds in the moment, and not understanding where that’s coming from. Because I remember my experience, I found that very confusing, because at one hand, I knew I was accomplished, I’ve got all kinds of degrees and diplomas and grateful clients. It’s like, just what is the matter?
Some days I recognize that and other days, I don’t. What is that all about? And that was the thing no amount of counseling, or coaching or more techniques really, really helped me to understand what was really going on. I could come up with a great idea. And then the next day, it’s like, oh, I don’t know, maybe that’s not so good. Or, maybe I don’t have what it takes to bring that about.
Or thinking that, because they didn’t recognize my own deeper intelligence, I was constantly going to other people taking courses, taking more workshops, taking super extensive programs for from people who I thought had the answer. I would learn their system, their process, and then magically, I could replicate that and have my own successful business. And, you think after how many courses I took, like, I would figure that out, that didn’t really work.
On top of that, I felt like a failure. It’s like, what’s the matter with me? Like, they’ve got this process or the system, and that works brilliantly for them. But I’m worse off to tell you the truth.
Alexandra: In a situation like that, I can see that. I’m relating it to diet, and trying to resolve an overeating habit, because the same thing happens, we chase the answer, and we apply the technique. And, and when it doesn’t work, we think, Oh, I’m the failure. I’m the problem here.
What do you see is the difference now, if you have feelings of self-doubt?
Marlene: I started to be able to see myself in action. My entry level was starting to recognize that I was experiencing my thinking in the moment, even if I didn’t know what those thoughts were. And so I started experimenting.
I might wake up in the morning and feel anxious, it’s like, Ooh, another day got to figure out this, how to do this. And I thought what if I did nothing? What if I trusted that we indeed do have this innate, well-being, this innate mental health? I was surprised how quickly I came around. I said, Oh, okay. That was, that was good.
Because normally I would have had to do my technique. And keep doing it until I saw some sort of shift in how I felt in the moment. And then, when I started to see that I was experiencing my thinking, then I started more and more and more when I started to feel anxious or overwhelmed or less than because I was comparing myself with a colleague or somebody else who I saw successful in business. I could see more and more that that was just instinct to cure thinking coming in in the moment and not get too caught up in it or too embroiled in it.
So I think it’s I think it’s the power to recognize first appreciating where that feeling is coming from me recognizing like, Oh, I’ve just fallen into an old pattern of insecure thinking, doubting myself, dismissing my accomplishments and putting other people on a pedestal. That comparison thing. People say, when you compare you despair, and I’ve certainly found that to be the case.
I think it was just really more self awareness. So they could see where I was innocently, often unknowingly taking myself back to that old habit of old patterns of thinking, old ways of seeing myself. And understanding that that was the thoughts in the moment.
Alexandra: I like hearing that. I had a recent experience that I wanted to ask you about; I recognize that sometimes when I have judgmental thinking or critical thinking about somebody else, I’ve had an insight the other day that it might be that I’m feeling vulnerable. And that judgmental or critical thinking is letting me know what’s happening, that I’m feeling a little bit vulnerable in whatever the situation is.
It’s giving me feedback about my state of mind, those judgments or criticisms, because they feel they feel yucky inside me when I’m thinking them.
I’m wondering about self-doubt, and the information that it carries. Can you address that a little bit?
Marlene: I came to see about this whole self-doubt thing. It’s almost like we’re not more closely connected to a deeper part of ourselves that has that natural confidence, that has that natural knowing. We’ve been led astray, or led down the path away from that. And we know that the ego mind is, some people, some people believe I really don’t understand ego, some people believe that it tends to be more fearful, more wanting to protect its own personal identity, vulnerable to feeling threatened than that type of stuff.
So I think that’s what comes up when, when I know, for me, when I started to compare myself to others, it’s like they’re not good enough or not, I used to go through this whole scenario, not good enough, don’t know enough, not doing the right things at the right time, and don’t have the right connections. I could see that pattern floating up there. And every once in a while I would start to believe it. And so it’s that disconnection from that deeper, wiser part of ourselves that knows that that’s just, I call it fabrication.
Alexandra: You talked about those four or five things that you noticed a pattern in yourself. And that obviously creates a feeling inside you that you you’re able to pick up. And notice, oh, okay, I’m in this old pattern.
Marlene: Yes, I start to feel very anxious, very discouraged, I would say even fearful, it’s like, Oh, my God, like, Am I ever going to figure out life out? Like, how am I going to navigate life from this perspective?
Alexandra: And so now, do those feelings come up in you still and if so what do you do with them then?
Marlene: When this came up, the other day, I saw a colleague of mine had posted something about how successful her business was on LinkedIn or something and I had that little response. And I’m thinking like, okay, Marlene, what’s going on here, right? Just give us some space, check in with yourself, and then I just came to peace about it.
We’re completely different. We’re on different paths, we’re both doing our thing. And say, there’s no better or worse, there’s no more or less successful. I think in our culture, we’re conditioned into this comparison thing, because how many times do we hear about people posting about their the best of something that they got the highest award. I think that even started in school, the grades and the comparison.
I was encouraged to be a high achiever, so I thought that that’s who I was, and that the value I brought to the world, like I could be a high achiever. And so, though it was my actions, and my accomplishment had more value than who I was as a human being.
Alexandra: And in this day and age, too, with social media, this is an entirely new ballgame. And of course, we all do it. We post about the good stuff if that’s happening.
It must be so easy for business owners to fall into comparison-itis and feeling like they’re not measuring up.
Marlene: One of my clients right now is a very successful designer. She has all the business she wants she has happy clients, she’s thriving, and yet she can still fall into the am I doing it right? Am I doing enough else. What do people really think of me? It really is crazy making.
The thing I realized, that really landed with me when I was speaking with her, she said the thing that gets squashed the first is my creativity. That’s the thing that gets like tamped down when I really get into this overthinking about how am I doing?
Alexandra: That’s such a good point. In a business like hers, she needs her creativity, of course.
Marlene: Even if it’s not a creative service like design or something like that, every entrepreneur has to be creative, because you’re the business, you’re always going to be faced with situations you didn’t anticipate or even opportunities. Can I really take on this project?
And that capacity within this gets overridden or we can really struggle. There’s so many statistics now about why small businesses fail, and they’re always sort of in the material world. So you know lack of cashflow, lack of funding, lack of recognized, recognized in their competitive advantage sheet like all the lack lack lack, but when I really see it, it’s a state of mind. That’s the culprit.
Alexandra: That’s what you help entrepreneurs with, I’m assuming.
When we see our natural resilience as entrepreneurs, and our resourcefulness that’s innate, and we don’t have to make it up or fake it till we make it.
Marlene: Because then the low state of mind, your low mood, we know that people see the world differently and respond differently. And so if you’re if you’re feeling stressed, or overwhelmed, or for whatever reason, not being able to fully operate in the present moment, you misread situations, you make decisions that are not beneficial. You avoid things that feel uncomfortable, you just can’t face them right now.
I think it’s the result of of that. I’ll just go back to the result of that, the implications of a lower state or lower understanding, that really is the saboteur.
Alexandra: Yes. And it’s such a good point. Self-employed people, entrepreneurs, they’re everything; they’re the accountant in their own business and the creative person, and the customer service and all of it. When we don’t understand that it’s our state of mind that affects all those things.
That a low mood is temporary, it’s not a comment on our ability to do our job. Powerful stuff.
Marlene: It’s a paradox, too, because in our culture, we really value the over busy stress. We’ve labeled it like, Oh, you must be busy profitable important you’ve got a going concern here, and not seeing how that state of high stress or over commitment or overwhelm is the culprit. It’s really debilitating people’s ability to be effective to be productive, and bring a light hearted state of mind that helps them to be more creative more, as you say, more resilient, more resourceful.
Alexandra: We’re recording this on a Wednesday and I on Monday this week I hit a bit of a wall and needed a nap and a rest and to read my book for the afternoon. I saw how busy my mind got about resisting that. “No, no, it’s Monday, you need to be productive. You need to keep going and do all this stuff.”
But my experience has been that listening to that wisdom that is saying “slow down for a minute, just take a breath and have some have a rest” is the thing that keeps me going in a way if I don’t rest, I burn out. So that wisdom is always there for all of us, but specifically for entrepreneurs.
I love this quote that I pulled off of your website on a blog post, that, “It is our inability to love and accept ourselves, that gives us the opportunity to find fault with others.”
Can you talk about that a little bit and how that affects entrepreneurs.
Marlene: I think it goes back to that level of understanding about who we are. Our spiritual psychological nature, if you will, or how our mind operates. So if we can’t see ourselves in a good light if we struggle to see our own talents, gifts, generally, generosity, kindness. It’s almost like the that that inability to see that in ourselves is mirrored back in the world.
So we start to see issues with other individuals and judge other individuals, but it’s just like that, how we perceive her of herself as being mirrored back through how we see others. And thinking it’s about them and not understanding it’s really our own perception, just circling back and, and becoming our own experience of ourselves and, and others.
Business owners say, Oh, I just can’t find any good people or people don’t want to work, or they just make up all kinds of stuff about above their fellow human beings, and that really can hurt people’s businesses. Because if they don’t create an environment for people to be acknowledged and appreciated for who they are as a human being, you’re not going to provide an opportunity for those people to really show up at their best.
Alexandra: That’s such a good point. Have you ever noticed that shift? If someone’s able to come to a more loving place with themselves?
Have you observed a shift in what they see outside themselves?
Marlene: Well, first of all, I think what they come to appreciate is that everybody’s sort of living in their own personal reality. And so they’re going to have their opinions and their beliefs and their ideas about things.
But they also bring their own wisdom, their own insight, their own creativity, and so it’s being able to see both sides of the equation. We have this innate capacity for all this brilliance. And we’re human beings who have we deal with our stuff. So I think there’s just more compassion. I think people feel more connected.
I really emphasize listening with my clients and students, because if you’re over here and your own mind judging, comparing, whatever you do, you’re not really hearing that person deeply. And because of that, they don’t feel seen. They don’t feel heard. They don’t feel appreciated. And if I think as a human being we like to feel that we’re valued, that we’re appreciated. Even loved.
Alexandra: Yes. Even or maybe especially in the workplace. Well, not especially, I guess, everywhere. But yeah, when we’re doing a job we want, we all want to feel appreciated.
I guess one of the things I also wanted to ask you about was you mentioned this phrase calm self-assurance on your website.
Tell us about that, where that phrase came from and what it means to you.
Marlene: It was really my experience of having these impostor feelings in because I could project that I was confident, self-assured, knowledgeable trustworthy, like I could project all of that. But that’s not how I felt on the inside. So there was that lack of congruence that lack of that connection with that call that deeper, wiser part of myself.
When I talk about that calm self-assurance that’s coming from inside of you, you’re not more confident because you got the right makeup or the right clothes, or you’ve punched the air before you’ve gone into the meeting. It almost comes more from your beingness rather than you did something to feel confident, right. It’s more innate, it’s more integral to you know, just how you how you show up in the world.
It’s not put on, it’s not fake. It’s not contrived. That’s just you in it. I think that’s what people were looking for. I think they have to work for it. Something they have to do. And I probably took a few of those courses myself.
Alexandra: We all have. Yes. I think it’s interesting that you don’t just say self-assurance, you say calm self-assurance.
So that word must have meaning for you as well. A big part of the equation.
Marlene: I think the calm comes from that groundedness or that presence, that deeper understanding. It comes from a knowingness. I think we talk about how our true nature is joy and contentment and calm and happy. It comes from that place of us that’s already there, it’s already present.
Alexandra: When you described earlier about how we can try to make it about the way we look or our clothes or our makeup and our hair and punching the air before we go into a meeting or whatever it is. And to me, there’s an acting element to that, a presentational element.
And then also, I noticed to that person who feels that or when we feel like we’re made up of all these different pieces that we’ve put together, is really scrambling. I’m picturing the little duck with their feet just going like crazy under the water.
Whereas when we really connect with a sense of calm, it doesn’t have that frantic presentational quality. Would you agree?
Marlene: Absolutely. That’s a great way to put it, actually. Because there’s so much doing this in being calm. We’ve been led to believe is like doing this and being calm, right?
Alexandra: Yes, that’s so true.
Tell us a little bit about the types of clients that you work with, and the sorts of things that you help them with.
Marlene: I really like working with entrepreneurs. I would say I have more women on clients than men, but I often have men referred to me by women who said you need to go talk to somebody.
The thing I love about working with entrepreneurs is everything’s at stake. Their career, their reputation, their financial well-being there. It’s like the business is a reflection of them. And so when the business is struggling, of course, that’s an indication that the business owner or leader is struggling.
I find that they’re keen to know. They can be even a little bit more interested, more invested. Like, I gotta figure this out. Everything is on them.
Alexandra: And are your clients mostly in the interior design world?
Marlene: Not necessarily. That was my first career and I circled back to that field to see who would be interested in there’s a few, I’m talking to a few designers now. And people I’m meeting in the world of small business and entrepreneurship.
I’ve always understood that I’m not coaching the business. It’s the business owner. And with however the business owner evolves, the business will naturally evolve. I’m not there to help them run their business. And I know, there’s lots of business coaches out there who have real expertise in helping people with systems and processes. And I could, that’s I have education than that. But that’s not where the really interesting stuff lies. It’s like, what’s in the mind, of the business owner or the leader?
Alexandra: I loved what you said about when their understanding shifts, the business reflects that. That’s really cool.
As we’re just about coming to the end of our time together, is there anything we haven’t touched on that you’d like to share today?
Marlene: One of the premises of this understanding is that over time, you just seem to have a better experience of life. And that’s been my experience. I’m finding that I’m just a little bit more settled, don’t get quite so caught up in things. I seem to give people more space, have more compassion for people who were struggling for whatever reason. It gives you a nicer experience of life and lets the joy and the beauty of life show up more often, rather than the concern or stress or whatever.
So, that’s what I would say about this understanding it. And of course, that’s going to impact every aspect of your life. Your work, your relationships, your friendships, and yeah, it just shows up all over.
Alexandra: I think it’s really an interesting doorway that you’ve got in for people you’re talking to them about their business. But really, that is the gateway and then it’s going to affect every area of their life. That’s really cool. It’s like a gateway drug or something.
Marlene, where can we find out more about you and your work?
Marlene: My website is MarleneCameron.com. So that’s a great place to start. And if anybody wants to contact me directly, it’s Marlene @ Marlene cameron.com. I’d be delighted to have this conversation with anybody who’s interested in exploring how this understanding could have a positive impact on their business or in their lives in general.
Alexandra: Oh, lovely. I’ll put a link in the show notes at unbrokenpodcast.com to your website so people can find you there. Well, this has been lovely. Marlene, thank you so much for chatting with me.
Marlene: Thank you very much. It’s been a real pleasure.
Alexandra: Take care.