Honor Your Ambition – Reimagining Hustle with Lee Chaix McDonough

My big takeaway:

Don’t be afraid of your ambition!

This episode of Reimagining Hustle features Lee Chaix McDonough, founder of Coach with Clarity. Lee specializes in helping professionals transition into coaching. She blends intuition and strategy to help her clients develop a powerful coaching framework. Lee also supports her clients in developing business skills.

Lee emphasizes the importance of core values in defining success. She suggests identifying one’s values through emotional reactions and behaviors. Values can change and evolve over time.

As a parent and entrepreneur, McDonough has learned to hold worry loosely and trust her children. She has also found that creating repeatable systems can help save time and energy.

Links from the show:

Show Notes:

Roxanne: Podcasting from under my blankets. So it’s quiet enough to hear me. This is Reimagining Hustle, a podcast for entrepreneurial parents, creating a life or business and parenthood live peacefully in the same space. I’m your host, Roxanne Merker, a mom of two micro business coach and serial entrepreneur on a journey to prove that it really is possible to do what you love without sacrificing all of your precious time. Let’s do this.

Welcome back to ReImagining Hustle. I already wanna be best friends with my guest today, so I would love to introduce to you Lee Chaix McDonough Lee, how are you today?

Lee Chaix McDonough: Roxanne. I am doing great. Thank you so much for having me on your show.

Roxanne: Oh my word. I’m so glad you’re here. We’ve already made many fun connections, so this is gonna be really fun. Will you just dive right in? Tell us about you, tell us about the work you do, and you have a really interesting journey to get to where you are today. So if you’ll fill us in on some of that too, I would appreciate it.

Lee Chaix McDonough: Absolutely. So my name is Lee Chaix McDonough. I am the founder of Coach with Clarity, which is A company that focuses on helping intuitive, innovative, helping professionals transition into the world of coaching. Uh, I myself was a therapist for about 15 years and, uh, because my husband was active duty air Force, had a breadth and depth of experience that I’m really grateful for.

And, When I started my coaching career, I was a little overwhelmed at the prospect of how to translate all of that training and knowledge and experience into a coaching career. And I kind of charted a path for myself, and now I help other people do the same. Uh, I provide programs that are accredited by the International Coaching Federation.

So if you want to become a credentialed coach, you can do so through my initial training. If you want to stay a credentialed coach, you can do so through my group membership program. Um, and really I just have a heart for helping people live out their passion. And I see coaching as being such a powerful way of doing so.

And uh, yeah, it has been kind of a topsy-turvy road to where I am today, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Roxanne: That’s amazing. I mean, obviously it’s led you to where you are. It’s, it’s charted this path for you. That’s absolutely incredible. So when people come to work with you, what’s that question in their mind that they’re like, I gotta find somebody, Lee’s my girl. Like, what’s, what is that? Where are they at when they find you?

Lee Chaix McDonough: I would say the majority of the people I work with, Are exceptionally skilled in their first career, but they’re looking for something that offers a little more flexibility and freedom. They often wanna be their own boss, but they have a real heart for service. And so they know that whatever it is they do, they wanna show up and help other people achieve their dreams.

And through that, that’s what improves our world. But it feels really nebulous. To say that it’s like, what does this actually look like? So what I really love about the work that I do is it blends strategy with intuition. So I’m helping people really uncover their own gifts as a coach, and I’m marrying that with a really clear framework that shows people.

Here’s the the structure you need to be a powerful coach. Here’s how we connect with our clients. Here’s how we structure our sessions. So there’s a lot of coaching, skill building that goes into it. And then because the majority of coaches are themselves, business owners and they work for themselves, we marry that with.

Business skills as well. So we’re looking at how do you start a business? How do you grow an audience, how do you connect with potential clients and referral sources? How do you find ways to keep that revenue coming in? So it’s this, it’s this wonderful blend of the coaching skill and the business growth.

Uh, and so whether it’s through training programs, one-on-one coaching, group coaching programs, I mean, we kind of do it all, which is fun. It keeps it really diverse and interesting. But I, I will say the majority of my people, It’s the business side that really overwhelms them. That tends to be where we start.

Then we get into it and then it’s, okay, I’m getting some traction. I’m getting some clients. Now what do I do? Then we tend to go a little more into the skill side, and then we find a, uh, a balance between the two.

Roxanne: That’s brilliant. What a gift to offer your people. That’s, oh, and it’s so true. I mean, it’s interesting this, the coaching world. Is is a, it’s a big world and there’s a lot that happens, but to include that piece of the business side of it is such a, again, just a gift. There’s, that’s the only word I can even think of that, that even begins to capture it.

So what does success look like to you and how do you talk to your clients about it? So kind of this, this, I wanna, I wanna know from your perspective, but also how do you teach your clients about it?

[00:04:45] What does success look like?

Lee Chaix McDonough: I really love that question because I think the answer is so individualized, and that’s a lot of what I do with my clients, is to really help them define their own success metrics because it’s so easy to get sucked into what we’re supposed to want to do, you know, what, what we think success looks like and in the coaching industry and in the online space.

I mean, if you know it’s, oh, be a six figure coach or work two hours a week and make millions of dollars, and I. I guess there are people out there who are able to do that. Um, I’ve yet, I I’ve yet to get it down to two hours a week and make tons of money. It, it takes a little more time than that, but I love it.

So I don’t mind doing that work. But no, it’s really about helping people connect with what matters most to them. What are their core values? How do they want to show up and serve their people? And once I’m clear on what their values are, then we allow those values to inform their personalized success metrics.

So yes, of course we are looking at revenue. If you’re running a business, you have to look at revenue, and not just revenue, but profit. So we’re looking at both your income and your expenses. That’s absolutely gonna be a metric, but there are other metrics too. How many connections have you made this month?

How many offers have you made? How many lives have you impacted? How many people have you spoken to? I mean, there’s it in the internal metrics too. What does it feel like to wake up in the morning and town or co-working? What does it feel like to show up and do that work?

Um, so again, I really want to connect with my people so that whatever it is they want to achieve, I can help them do that. But I wanna be really clear on what matters most to them so that I can ensure that the work we do is fully aligned with their values.

Roxanne: That’s amazing. So can we get a little more personal then?

Lee Chaix McDonough: Please.

Roxanne: What about, what does that look like for you?

Lee Chaix McDonough: My core values, and I gotta tell you, this is really interesting. When I was a therapist, values were at the heart of my work. I, I focused, uh, in a modality called acceptance and Commitment Therapy or ACT. And that’s very much about values driven action, and for a long time I thought values were fairly stable.

The way we express our values may change over time, but those values themselves are pretty. Pretty locked in. As I’ve gotten older, as I’ve hit my forties, as my kids have gone from babies to school age to teenagers, I realize that that’s a pretty fixed way of looking at it and I’m noticing my own values have shifted over time and owning my own business.

Becoming an entrepreneur has certainly factored into that. So I would say, you know, my core values are, have always been about service and connection. Those two are constant, but the idea of empowerment and being really clear around what it looks like to live and work in integrity with yourself. I think those were always kind of baked in, but they became more explicit through becoming an entrepreneur and owning my own business.

So for me, at the end of the day, it looks like when I look at what I’ve done in my business, when I look at how I’ve served my people, Is that in integrity with who I am on the inside? can I, put my head down on the pillow at the end of the night and feel good about what I’ve done? And I would say most days the answer is yes.

Every now and then we’re gonna have a day where it’s like, I didn’t show up the way I wanted to. So we learn from it. You know, we grow, we don’t do it again. Um, but for me, it looks like being really committed to my client’s success, uh, supporting them in the ways that works for them. So being flexible enough to modify my approach and also making sure that what I, the energy that I give my clients, I.

I reserve some of that energy for my family, my friends, my colleagues, so like it’s not all about clients. And of course some of that needs to be directed back at myself as well. Easier said than done

Roxanne: Oh, so much easier said than done. And what an interesting approach to, to come at that from both a coach and a therapist side. So what do you do for yourself?

Lee Chaix McDonough: Um, you know, it’s, it’s funny, I have been in some conversations lately with some friends around this idea of self-care and 10 or 15 years ago, even 20 years ago when I was, uh, getting my social work degree, self-care was kind of this like, new idea. And the idea of incorporating self-care into your practice was like, oh, okay.

Yeah. And then I feel like self-care has become commoditized. And now it’s like, spend money on this to make yourself feel better and under the guise of self-care. And I’m like, that’s not self-care. Self-care is not always easy and fun. And don’t get me wrong, I love brunch. I love a massage. I love a manicure.

That can absolutely be a part of your self-care strategy. But it also looks like doing the deep inner work to love yourself. It looks like spending time cultivating the mindset that’s gonna support you in creating powerful relationships and in creating the life you want. And sometimes it means looking at some of the shadows inside and really coming face to face with those because.

When we shine a light on the shadow, the funny thing is it tends to dissipate, but when we ignore it, it looms so large, and so for me, self-care certainly includes internal work, which is not always easy. Sometimes it’s painful, but in the long run it’s always for the best.

Roxanne: Mm. I love that. Oh, I love that so much, Lee. You’re my goodness. Just dropping nugget after nugget of wisdom here. I wanna go back to this concept of core values for a minute.

Lee Chaix McDonough: Mm-hmm.

Roxanne: This, I think you’re the first person that has ever introduce the idea, at least on the show, at least in, in this things that I’ve done, that your values can change and can be flexible.

So, and, and you kind of alluded to, you know, things kind of shift a little bit and maybe, maybe take the spotlight, maybe they’ve always been there, but things take the spotlight at different times. So we talk about core values, we talk about finding our core values. Um, the recommendation that I always see is like, Hey, just go online and find the list and see what resonates.

Do you have other suggestions for finding your core values, first of all? And then I’ll ask you a follow up question after that.

Lee Chaix McDonough: Okay. Yes, I do. Um, I’ll share some of them here. I also actually go into greater depth in it in my book, which is called Act on Your Business, which here’s the, here’s the sneaky thing. It’s called Act on your Business. But it’s not just about your business, it’s about your life. It’s how you show up.

And I have a couple chapters in there about values identification and clarification. So yes, you can go find a list, you can pick your top five. I’ve done that activity with my clients, but I also think it can be really helpful to start with the end in mind, meaning let’s look at our behaviors and how can our behaviors tell us what we value?

So an example I will often use is think about the last time you got really, really angry.

Roxanne: Mm-hmm.

Lee Chaix McDonough: Typically, we get angry because a button has been pushed and behind that button is a value. And so on some level, a value has been threatened and we respond with anger. And it’s not just anger. Sometimes we do that with sadness or even anxiety, but anger tends to be a really easy one to connect with.

And when we think about what’s underneath that anger, where do I feel threatened to the point where I felt like I had to respond like that, that tells us what’s important. It tells us what we were concerned was being compromised. So yes, you can start with the values list and go from there, but sometimes I think it’s a lot.

Easier and, more illuminating to start with our emotional reactions, our behaviors, and allow those to then tell us what do I really value? What does this say about me?

Roxanne: What a great suggestion. Thank you for that. That’s a fun one. How often would you suggest people revisit this idea of their values? If, if they are, if the spotlight is ch that’s the the visual I’m gonna use here. So if the spotlight is changing on our core values, how often would you suggest people revisit?

Lee Chaix McDonough: I think when we are going through times of change or transition, we should be reevaluating them more. And I think as a society, we’re doing that. I mean, look at what we’ve been through the, through the last three years or so.

Roxanne: Ooh. Yeah.

Lee Chaix McDonough: Yeah. We have had a societal shift. Courtesy of the pandemic, courtesy of a lot of things actually.

Let’s be

Roxanne: Yes. Yeah, that’s true.

Lee Chaix McDonough: So a lot of us feel like we’re in a state of flux, understandably. And, and we’re still finding our new normal, if you will. And so, Revisiting our values when we are in those transition periods can be a little more challenging, but I would argue it’s even more important than before because as humans, we are designed to grow and evolve.

If we don’t. We perish. So if we are growing and evolving, it makes sense that our values would too. And if we are in situations where the world around us is changing and we are changing in response to it, then it makes sense that we might wanna reevaluate our values too. So honestly, Pre covid before the pandemic.

I might have said, oh, every few years, check in now. I think it might be a little more often. Um, I incorporate it as part of my annual review. So for my business, every year I’m checking back in with my business values and my core values. And when I do a quarterly review, I’m just kind of checking in as well.

But I really do the deep dive every year.

Roxanne: Mm-hmm. That’s awesome. And you’re these periods of flux and change, I. I often, I mean, you, you were military, so you get this too. So I’m military spouse and we move every two to three years. And so we always, um, talk about, okay, who’s the new version of us, like in this new place, what do we wanna change? So like right now I’m in Roxanne, Japan.0..

Oh. Right. Like that’s

Lee Chaix McDonough: Yes.

Roxanne: the, the conversation happens. And so these periods of. Of change and transition I think are so helpful. So that’s a, a great idea to add that to this, those periods of change. So thank you for that. So I wanna shift a little bit and talk about parenting. So you’re a mom as well. How many kids do you have?

Lee Chaix McDonough: I have two boys. They are 16 and 14, so tons of fun.

Roxanne: You have two teenage boys. That is exceptionally fun.

Lee Chaix McDonough: Yes, and a husband and a male dog. So it is like testosterone city at my house. I am representing the estrogen and hitting perimenopause, so God only knows how much I’m even bringing to the table. So this is a fun time. Lemme tell you

Roxanne: sounds like a period of change. Time to reevaluate. I’m just,

Lee Chaix McDonough: little bit, little

Roxanne: know, right? No, but truly that’s, that’s a lot. So how has being a parent during this journey of yours changed you as a person?

[00:15:21] How has being a parent changed you?

Lee Chaix McDonough: Oh my goodness. It has changed me in ways that I think I am still recognizing. I found myself initially feeling such fear in the midst of Covid and the pandemic, not so much for myself, but for my kids. Uh, and then the anxiety would come up and I would worry about their school performance. I would worry about socialization, all of it.

Um, and for the first month or two, like, I won’t lie, I kind of spiraled out a little bit and then I realized this is not serving me and it’s certainly not serving my kids, so let’s, let’s kind of bring it back. And so I think after that pendulum swing all the way towards anxiety land. Kind of swung back the other way and then found a happy medium, which is, as a mother, I will always have concern for my children.

I mean, they could be in their seventies and me in my nineties, and I’m still gonna worry about them. But I’ve learned to hold that worry loosely, and I’ve also learned to trust that my husband and I have instilled values and ways to make decisions in such a way that our kids are learning from us. We’re trying to model that, and at some point I have to have faith in my kids.

And so this really tested my faith muscle. Uh, and you know, they’re teenagers. Their brains are not fully developed yet. They’re making mistakes as they should. By design. Uh, and so now my, I, I view my role less as disciplining and correcting and more about, okay, you did this. Let’s look at the consequences.

What happened because you made this decision. How can you know, or how are those consequences working for you? And if you don’t like them, what will you do differently next time? And so I’ve really had to shift my approach with my kids as they’ve gotten older. And, uh, that’s a learning curve. It’s a learning curve for both my husband and me.

In many ways, as exhausting as being a parent of toddlers and little kids, was I felt like I had more control over them. And as they get older, you start losing some of that control. So now it’s less about telling them what to do and helping them decide how they want to live their lives, how they can make decisions, and then just having faith that, you know, I’ve done my job the best I can, and now it’s time for them to make their own way in the world.

Roxanne: Oh, that’s, you’re speaking to my heart on so many levels. I often tell my kids, my job isn’t to make you the person I want you to be. It’s to help you figure out who you’re supposed to be. And so to hear that that’s a conversation you’re having too, is really validating for me and, and it makes a lot of sense.

Do you ever experience guilt around parenting and entrepreneurship specifically?

[00:18:04] Guilt?

Lee Chaix McDonough: no, never. No, I’m kidding. I totally experienced guilt around those

Roxanne: Talk to me about it.

Lee Chaix McDonough: well, and it, particularly when I was first starting my business and, you know, the ramp up period requires a lot. It’s kind of front loaded. And so there were definitely times where I felt like, ugh, it’s evening and they’re home from school.

They need help with homework, but. I have a podcast to publish or a blog poster write, and so there was definitely times where I felt torn. I think as I got more established in my business and I started creating sy repeatable systems that worked for me. It started saving me time and energy, which then allowed me to be more present for my family.

But there are still high intensity periods in my business or when I travel, for example, where I’m not there physically or sometimes I’m not there mentally, and I just try to be compassionate with myself. Do the best I can. Um, in my book, I talk about what happens when values clash, and the example I use is being a mom and a business owner.

And I have, you know, right, because I have a value of service, I wanna show up for my clients. I also value family and connection. What happens when those values clash?

Roxanne: Mm-hmm.

Lee Chaix McDonough: And what I’ve realized is that, In a given moment, one value may need or want to take precedence over the other, and we have to make decisions.

But then when we take the broader view and we look at it, Long-term over, over the whole time. That’s where we try to find balance. I’m not sure I can always find balance on a day-to-day level when it comes to that, but if I look long-term, week to week, month to month, year to year, I feel like it all evens out.

Um, And I also find that a little bit of communication goes a long way. So when I hit those really busy times, I just kind of let my kids know I’m, I’m going into a really intense period the next few days or few weeks. It’s, it’s gonna be a lot. Um, so just know that if you need me, I will be there for you, but I may need you to tell me that you need me right now, and that’s okay.

You can do that. Um, and, and we’ve kind of figured it out as we’ve gone along.

Roxanne: That makes a lot of sense. And, and you know, we talked a little bit earlier about how there’s a lot of similarities between their ages now vs when they were toddlers, but I think that’s one amazing difference that toddlers you, they don’t get that when you say, Hey, it’s getting a little busier. It’s getting a little crazier.

There’s nothing, there’s no way to process that for them. But at this age, your kids can process that.

Lee Chaix McDonough: Yes. And I have so much respect for mothers of young children who are starting their own businesses or quite honestly, who, who work outside the home. No, let me correct that. I have a lot of respect for mothers who work inside the home too. Um, but I will say, I don’t know if I could have started a business with toddlers.

And I know that there are women out there who are doing that every day, and I am just in awe of them. Because you’re right, starting a business requires a lot of time and energy. Being the parent of an infant or a toddler requires even more. And to try to do both at the same time, I think is almost a miracle.

Um, so I really, my hat is off to, to those parents.

Roxanne: absolutely. I mean, I’ll,, Superwomen, it’s, they’re superwomen. That’s really all there is to it. Lee, what do you wish people knew about being a parent and an entrepreneur simultaneously?

[00:21:27] What do you wish people knew?

Lee Chaix McDonough: that no one is going to give you the grace and compassion and make you feel okay, like that has to come from you.

Roxanne: Hmm.


Lee Chaix McDonough: I have in the past looked outside myself for validation. I’ve wanted other people to tell me, you’re doing a good job. Everything’s okay. you’ve got it down. And don’t get me wrong, it feels really good to hear that.

And everyone needs external validation, but that does not fill that guilt hole inside or the shame. And the greatest gift we can give ourselves is to do that work so that we can provide ourselves that level of grace and compassion, because that outweighs anything honestly that we’re gonna receive from someone else.

Roxanne: Hmm. Hmm. Yes. Yes, yes. Woo Lee, this is, we talked earlier, it’s early where I’m at, and this is a really good way to start my day. It’s gonna be a good day. I would love to ask you a question around the name of the podcast. So, when I started my business, I was not a parent and I loved the hustle culture. Oh, I loved it.

You know, it felt so good. It, it felt like who I was at my core, right? I thought that those were my core values. We, you know, going back to our conversation earlier, and then I had my first child and my whole world stopped just, I mean, It all stopped, and so I’ve been on this quest to figure out how to make a sustainable balance of these worlds since so how to reimagine hustle.

And so I would love to know how do you reimagine hustle?

[00:23:02] Reimagined Hustle

Lee Chaix McDonough: When I think about hustle, I, I, I like to kind of peel back the layers of the onion, like what is hustle really about? I don’t wanna presume that what it’s about for me is what it’s about for everyone else, but for me it’s about ambition and what it means to be ambitious, what it means to want to make your mark in the world, whatever that looks like.

And I think to an extent, productivity culture has really taught us that in order to be ambitious, you have to hustle, you have to work hard, you have to grind all of that. And I think motherhood has taught me that that’s just not sustainable. So how can I embrace my ambition. How can I make a mark on the world without feeling like I have to grind 24 7, 365?

Because when I do that, there’s nothing left for my kids. There’s nothing left for my partner. There’s nothing left for me. So reimagining hustle to me looks like finding other ways to honor my ambition and my desire to have an impact. In the world, and if there’s a way to do that that’s maybe a little slower, maybe a little more gentle, but still has the same level of impact to me that’s, that’s my sweet spot.

Roxanne: Mm, honor your ambition. What a beautiful, a beautiful phrase.

Lee Chaix McDonough: Because there’s nothing wrong. There is nothing wrong with being ambitious. I think a lot of times women in particular get shamed for being ambitious, especially.

Roxanne: Oh yeah.

Lee Chaix McDonough: Especially parents. It’s this idea of do you love your job more than your kids? What does it say about you if you’re working towards it? I think that’s such an unfair bind and I just don’t see fathers or or men having to deal with that to the same extent that women do.

I’m not saying they don’t deal with it, but it is a different ballgame completely. And so I want women to unabashedly claim their ambition. I want them to unapologetically own the fact that they wanna have an impact in the world. I happen to do that through coaching, but there’s all sorts of ways women can do that.

And it’s okay to be ambitious and have a family, and I believe it’s possible to do both, but not the way productivity culture dictates it. We, have to find our own way through.

Roxanne: Yes. Oh, yes. Yes, yes, yes, completely. Lee, you are. You are brilliant. Just absolutely brilliant. Before we find out where we can find you, because we need more of you, will you give us a 30 second pep talk for other parents on this entrepreneur journey and maybe direct it specifically to coaches, cuz I know that’s who you work with.

Lee Chaix McDonough: Yes. Part of me wants to start off by just saying it gets better. You know, if you feel like you are just in a really sticky, tough patch right now, I just want to give you a little bit of hope that it does get better. Uh, that’s number one. Uh, and number two, I wanna say that not only does it get better, but it gets richer and more rewarding.

The relationships that I have with my children now that they’re teenagers are unlike anything I ever thought that would happen bef that that would happen. And, and part of it is because I became a coach. Part of it is because I learned how to communicate with people in a way that fostered connection and growth.

And that’s not to say I didn’t do that as a therapist. I absolutely did. I believe therapists do that on the regular, but coaching because it’s this blend of personal development and mindset work and taking action. To me, it was so directly applicable to parenting that I was able to bring this skillset to my parenting and say, and, and learn how to talk to my kids in a way that would promote them to, to open up, to talk to me without feeling a sense of obligation.

So I guess that’s what I would say. It gets better. The relationships with your children can get so much deeper and when we know how to communicate with each other, like that’s the key.

Roxanne: Mm mm You’ve just been pep talked. Thank you, Lee. That was amazing. Oh, you’re just incredible. Just absolutely incredible. What a gift. Thank you for, for being with us. So will you please let us know? We need more of you. Tell us. Where can we find the book? Where can we find you online? Give us all the goods.

Lee Chaix McDonough: So I am at Coach with Clarity. Pretty much everywhere. So coach with clarity.com, Facebook Instagram TikTok, et cetera. Um, I also host the Coach with Clarity Podcast, so you can find that wherever you listen to your shows. And again, if you wanna do a deeper dive into values work mindset, mindfulness, you might really enjoy my book.

It’s called Act on Your Business. You can find out on Amazon, or you can go to coach with clarity.com/get the book, and that’ll take you right there as well.

Roxanne: Awesome, and we’ll make sure we link everything in the show notes. Lee. This has been an absolutely incredible way to start my day. Thank you for the gift of your time, the, the wisdom that you’ve brought to us from all these different areas of your world.

I, I appreciate you so much.

Lee Chaix McDonough: This conversation has been a joy. I am so honored to be on your show. Thank you again for having me.

Roxanne: Thanks Lee.

Thanks for listening to Reimagining hustle with Roxanne Merket. If you like the show and want more, check out reimagining hustle.com and please leave a review wherever you get your podcasts. We’ll be back next week with another episode. See you soon.