Ferne Kotlyar

Welcome to another episode of The Frame of Mind Coaching™ Podcast’s Fridays With Ferne!

Today Ferne presents a case study about a young woman who spends 7 years studying to help rehabilitate prisoners back into society. As she starts work, she figures out that the job isn’t what she thought it would be. Now she feels stuck. And if she leaves, she feels like she’ll be wasting all those years studying, but if she stays, she won’t be happy. Either way feels like a bad option to her.

What do you think she should do?

Have you ever found yourself in a situation like this? Do you have a case you’d like to talk about? Share your story! If there's a challenge you'd like to discuss here on the podcast or privately, please reach out to me at:


Episode Transcript

Kim Ades: [00:00:05]
Hello, hello. This is Kim Ades, I am the President and Founder of Frame of Mind Coaching, and you have just joined The Frame of Mind Coaching Podcast, where we typically invite guests from all over the world to get coached live and in person, right on the show.

Today, we have a special episode. I'm inviting my daughter, Ferne Kotlyar to come onto the show and be my cohost and actually provide me with some cases where we're turning the situation around and I'm answering the questions that she's posing.

Ferne, welcome! I'm very happy to have you on the show again.

Ferne Kotlyar: [00:00:37]
Thank you so much! As always, I'm happy to be here. Are you ready for your case today?

Kim Ades: [00:00:42]
I am so ready.

Ferne Kotlyar: [00:00:44]
All right. Let's jump in.

Okay. So today we have a girl name Louise, and she is, you know, in her mid-twenties. She's the type of girl that's super, super studious, and where school is her whole entire life, basically. She doesn't really play any sports, have big hobbies, but school is, you know, what she does.

She just studies all the time. And of course, you know, she has friends, she has a life, but you know, doing well academically is really what drives her. Until she finishes high school, she does her undergrad and then she does her Master's both in law. And then after passing with flying colors, she decides to do a course in essentially prisoner rehabilitation.

So, her philosophy in life is-- what she wants to do with the rest of her life is she really, really wants to help people, and this is the way she chose to help people. And so she does this, another two year program after doing her undergrad and then her Master's. She does another two year program where at the end of the program, she gets a full-time job and basically assured employment.

And so she does it, she passes everything, does great, and the last step of this program is to do a placement. And so she goes to the placement and she goes into the the prison and learns how to help rehabilitate these prisoners. And what she realizes is that it's really... not that it's-- it's tough for sure, but the people aren't nice.

And not even that the prisoners aren't nice, her supervisors aren't nice. The team isn't nice. And she's not really sure if this is kind of something she wants to do with the rest of her life. But so she works hard, she does well, and she does as best as she can.

And essentially her supervisor say or indicate to her that they think that she's too soft to do this job, that she doesn't have toughness to help these prisoners get back into the real world. And like, that makes her mad, of course. But you know, that's not going to stop her.

And so, she finishes this placement and her supervisors have to rank her. And she gets ranked, because her supervisors don't like her that much, she gets ranked 267 out of 325.

And she's devastated. Like, that's very low for her. And she's super upset because you know, school is her thing and she always does really well. But she's particularly devastated because the lower you get, the less opportunities you have for good employment.

So the higher up you get first choice, and as you go lower down, you get less and less choices. So most likely she's going to end up in a big city where the prisoners are meaner and, you know, the cost of living is more expensive.

And so, you know, she's upset and essentially she finishes her program and it's the summer before she starts working because she gets this full-time job, and she doesn't know what to do. She doesn't know, like, she should continue, she should take the job, you know, it's good money, it's a very good position.

But you know, she doesn't really know if she absolutely loves it, but she doesn't think she can go back to school, you know, she spent so long, so many years studying, working hard, putting all this effort into this program, doing this thing because she doesn't want to be a lawyer. So this is really her only option.

And also she doesn't want to prove her supervisors right by quitting. She doesn't want to say, "yeah, I'm going to quit, so, you know, you were right because I'm too soft for this". So on one hand, she's not sure if this is her life life's purpose. If this is really, really for her.

But on the other hand, she can't stop now because she put in too much effort. It's too far ahead. It's too, like, long into the process. So she feels stuck. She doesn't know what to do. What do you recommend?

Kim Ades: [00:04:36]
Okay. So, I need to understand a few things. When you say they're mean, what does that mean?

Ferne Kotlyar: [00:04:46]

Kim Ades: [00:04:46]
When she goes to work and she finds out that these people are mean... Define "mean".

Ferne Kotlyar: [00:04:52]
So the prisoners, I mean, don't necessarily want her to be-- like, they don't necessarily see her as, you know, someone who's really, really trying to help them. And the team, they're not, like, a supportive team and, you know, she's only worked on this one team, so we don't know what other teams are like, but that team that she got on, they're not supportive of, you know, the toughness of the job.

And they're just kind of like, "this is tough and that's the way it's supposed to be". And they don't, like, help her get into it.

Kim Ades: [00:05:28]
Okay. So you're saying they're not supportive of her and they're not helping her adjust and acclimate to this particular job. They're not setting her up for success. Is that accurate?

Ferne Kotlyar: [00:05:39]
Exactly. Yeah.

Kim Ades: [00:05:40]
Okay. So, I mean, if I were coaching this girl, one of the things that I would explore is the question of whether or not she believes that her supervisors are doing a good job. And I don't mean just with her. I mean, are they doing a good job, rehabilitating these people?

And so she's done a ton of work. She's gone to school. She's an intelligent, hardworking, highly driven individual. So I would really start to ask her if she thinks that they are doing an effective job in their roles.

Ferne Kotlyar: [00:06:19]
And if they're not?

Kim Ades: [00:06:21]
Well, I would start to inquire what she thinks should happen differently. In other words, what I want to know from her is if she were to be the supervisor and if this were to be her job and she were training someone else, what would she implement?

How would she approach these prison mates? How would she provide rehabilitation? What approach would she use? Does she feel that she needs to toughen up or does she feel like the tough approach isn't actually effective? What does she think?

And so the first thing I would do is really extract her intellectual point of view.

Ferne Kotlyar: [00:07:07]
Okay. And then?

Kim Ades: [00:07:08]
And what I want to do is actually capture it and write it down. Chances are her point of view is going to be slightly different than what she's experienced. And from that point of view, she will actually extract a methodology or an approach to rehabilitation that is different than what she's seen and experienced.

So to me, that's interesting because her experience provides insight. Right now, her experience is only providing stress, disappointment, frustration, upset. And what I want her to know is that her experience actually provided her with insight.

And the insight is "I have a feeling, I have a good, strong sense, given my experience, how things should look or how things could be improved, how things could work more effectively and efficiently".

Ferne Kotlyar: [00:08:07]
So you think she should stay in the industry?

Kim Ades: [00:08:11]
Well, we don't know yet. It's too early to tell. But when you say she has no choice, that's a belief that she might have that's absolutely inaccurate. She has a million choices. So what are her choices?

Her choices are, she can go to another prison site and see what the team is like there. She can also... She has a Master's degree. She's very intelligent. She can potentially provide some consulting to say, "Hey, here's what I've seen, and let's try a different approach".

Perhaps it's time for her to start a consultancy of her own that says "I've got some insight, I had a bad experience and here's how I think things could work better. Not only for the prison inmates, but for the incoming rehabilitators to be more effective". She could put even a training plan together.

Ferne Kotlyar: [00:09:08]
Is she experienced enough to do that? She only did her placement.

Kim Ades: [00:09:12]
Of course she is! She's experienced enough. She can provide some guidance, some assistance. Given the fact that she did have experience in this particular role. She could say, "I went in, I got trained. Here's my background. Here's my history academically, educationally. And here's my results here. There's a disconnect. Why?"

Ferne Kotlyar: [00:09:34]

Kim Ades: [00:09:35]
"There's a training gap that we perhaps need to fill". But what we want to really address is the fact that she's really, really focused on one thing, and one bad thing happens and her life is destroyed.

And that's the issue that I'm really interested in addressing to help her understand that when something bad happens, it doesn't mean the end of the world, it doesn't mean no choices. It doesn't mean something terrible, horrible, awful happen. It means that there's an opportunity in front of her that she hasn't quite seen yet.

Ferne Kotlyar: [00:10:07]
And what is the opportunity in this case?

Kim Ades: [00:10:09]
The opportunity is that she, in fact, experienced something and from that experience was able to draw out a conclusion or an insight, or she could use that as contrast to help her decide what she wants next.

She might say, "you know what? I don't even like prisoners. You know, what I want to do is I want to go work with kids" or "I want to go work with..." you know, "I might not want to be a lawyer, but I want to work with lawyers and perhaps I could provide them with some kind of assistance that's not where I'm doing the legal work, but I'm doing something else with this group of individuals".

There are a million options. And so that's the other piece that when someone thinks they don't have options, that's a belief that's often flawed. Right?

So number one is I want to extract her intelligence, understand how she sees things. Number two is I want to show her that a bad thing doesn't mean the end of the world. And number three is I want to show her all the options available to her.

But what we're really trying to do is build her emotional resilience so that when something bad happens next time she doesn't crumble, she doesn't fall down or perhaps she falls, but not too long. And she's able to gather herself, pick herself up and move on to the next opportunity.

She's smart. She's intelligent. The whole world is at her disposal. You know, as a lawyer, she's probably a strong speaker, probably a strong writer, lots of opportunity out there for her. And so we want to address that.

Ferne Kotlyar: [00:11:48]
So these seven years, I guess, that you spent doing this specific program for this specific job, you don't think that that's-- I guess she has this idea that like, that's what she should be doing because she spent all this time doing it. But you're saying that she doesn't necessarily have to follow that path.

Kim Ades: [00:12:06]
Of course not. So I think two things: I think that our journeys, I'm a big believer that one thing leads to the other and whatever we did in the past is uniquely designed to lead us to the next place. And that's exactly what's happening here for her.

The other thing is, so you spent seven years doing something you decided you didn't like, why spend the next rest of your life doing something you didn't like? Right? So it's okay. You learned a ton. What do you want to do now?

Ferne Kotlyar: [00:12:36]
So it's not a waste, is what you're saying.

Kim Ades: [00:12:38]
It's absolutely not a waste. It provides great information. It provides a great foundation. And it's the gateway to what's next.

As you're telling me the story of this particular young woman, I think of myself. I remember when I ended up getting hired by a coaching company here in Toronto, and I went to work for them. I lasted maybe eight and a half, nine months.

And for lots of reasons I didn't last, number one is I'm an entrepreneur and my nature is not wired to work for other people. But when I got there, I observed how they coached people. And there was something about their approach that didn't sit right with me. And I thought, "hmm, I think they're doing it wrong. I think that there's a better way". And that's when I decided to start Frame of Mind Coaching™.

And right now she's in the moment, in that place where she might say to herself, "hmm. I think they're doing it wrong. There might be a better way". And so I want to empower her. I want to give her the opportunity to look at herself as actually someone who can decide what that better way is, who can make a proposal to how things can improve in the prison system.

Ferne Kotlyar: [00:13:54]
And what if she's worried that she isn't, you know, good enough to do that? I mean, she only did her placement, so who's-- who is she to, you know, go into the prison and completely rearrange the system? She doesn't have enough experience.

So how do you give her the confidence to say, "yeah, you can go and start something" if she doesn't feel like she's, you know, prepared enough for that.

Kim Ades: [00:14:16]
So confidence is not something I can give to anybody. Right? But what I can do is I can help prepare her to feel stronger. So in other words, I could say, well, you know, first of all, what do you have to lose? Not all that much.

Number two is let's look at your background, your experience. You're not as unprepared as you think, right? You're not as inexperienced as you think. Number three is your unique vantage point is very, very important. You're that person who just went through, whatever you call it, an internship... And you have that unique insight that most people don't have. And so let's leverage it.

Number four is sure you're new in the game, doesn't mean that voice is invaluable. And so what we would do is we would look at the beliefs that she has that says I'm not good enough. I'm not experienced enough. And we would address them and blast them out of the water because everything starts somewhere. Right? Everything starts from somewhere.

And I would share with her my own experiences when I started coaching, I had no experience either. And so I started off with a small idea or a small project, and she might do that too. And so there are lots of ways around it to help her feel more confident and to help her fully build it up so that she's adding value and increasing her experience so that she feels better and better and better about her contribution.

Ferne Kotlyar:
Right. And when you speak about starting small, she could also, I guess, go to work, start the new place, see if the team is better and do this on the side and see which one she likes better and kind of pursue whichever one makes her happier.

Kim Ades: [00:15:54]
Sure. And she can also say, you know, go to a supervisor and say, "you know, I want to try something new. Would you be open to it?" Right? She can share her ideas, her philosophy. She, she might say, "I'm looking for a supervisor who's open to trying this".

Ferne Kotlyar: [00:16:11]
And what if--

Kim Ades: [00:16:11]
You can go do a million interviews and find that one supervisor.

Ferne Kotlyar: [00:16:15]
What if she doesn't have new ideas?

Kim Ades: [00:16:19]
I suspect she does. We all have new ideas. I would push back on that a little bit.

Ferne Kotlyar: [00:16:26]
All right. Fair enough. Fair enough.

Kim Ades: [00:16:28]

Ferne Kotlyar:
So if you were to give this young girl one more piece of advice, what would it be?

Kim Ades: [00:16:35]
For me, the moment she says, "you know, I got a poor mark" or the moment she says, "I'm really, really frustrated. I feel like I'm failing". I would say to her, "congratulations". Right? Failing gives us great, great lessons, and it really builds us up to get to that next place.

So failing isn't a terrible thing. Failing can be a win. And so that's the first thing I would help her do is to see her failure in a very, very different light.

Ferne Kotlyar: [00:17:04]
I like that. You used to tell me congratulations when I came home with bad marks.

Kim Ades: [00:17:08]
There you go.

Ferne Kotlyar: [00:17:09]

Kim Ades: [00:17:11]
Greatest mom, right?

Ferne Kotlyar: [00:17:12]
Yeah. Yeah.

Kim Ades: [00:17:14]

Ferne Kotlyar: [00:17:14]

Kim Ades:
Ferne, thank you so much for being on the podcast, for throwing at me yet another challenging case study, and I look forward to the next one.

Ferne Kotlyar: [00:17:26]
Me too. Awesome. Thank you so much!

Kim Ades: [00:17:29]
For those of you who are listening, if you have a case study that you want to share with us, please reach out. If you have a challenge that you want to discuss on the podcast, reach out as well.

My email address is Kim@frameofmindcoaching.com

And if you have a challenge that you're not so willing to share on the podcast, but you do want to discuss, please reach out.

Again, my email address is Kim@frameofmindcoaching.com

For those of you who are listening, and I know that there are lots of you out there, please provide some feedback. I'd love to hear what you think about this new style, this new approach. And please give Ferne some props while you're at it.

Ferne, again, thank you.

Ferne Kotlyar: [00:18:08]
Thank you.

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