The Importance of Personal Boundaries In Business with Christine Seibold

Episode 34

Danielle Napolio Cox

Welcome back to the podcast. I cannot wait to introduce you to today's guest. I'm speaking with author and coach, Christine Seibold. Christine is a certified coach with a master's degree in International Relations from Harvard. She currently runs a private coaching practice freelance in freedom, where she helps women follow their passion, and leads them through the process of starting their own business, so they can live the lifestyle that they dream of. Christine is an accomplished world traveler, who speaks multiple languages. In her book Blondie without borders, she shares true stories from her life, growing up with no boundaries, and the lessons that she's learned along the way. Today, Christine and I are talking about how the lack of boundaries in one area of your life can show up in other areas, including your business. With that, let's welcome Christine Seibold to the podcast. Thanks for being here today. Christine, it is an honor to have you as our guest.


Christine Seibold

Thank you so much. And thank you for inviting me, it's an honor to be here with you.


Danielle Napolio Cox

Well, I could not wait to have you on because I've read your book. It is fascinating. It seems like you've lived literally nine lives. It reminded me as each chapter went on, I was like, Oh my gosh, there was more to the book, this isn't the end. Because you have so many moments where you're like, wow, that that was just shocking and profound. Yet something else came up, so it reminded me as I was reading of the quote, Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. With that, tell us a little bit about your book, and what compelled you to write this book so that others could learn from your experiences?


Christine Seibold

Sure, absolutely. Well, I feel like I've lived nine lives, or at least three lives so I can relate to that. The book is about my husband and I walking through the streets of Seville, Spain, which is my favorite place in the world. As we walk through, we see or run into people or a memory and it strikes a memory for us to go. I go back and tell a story. That story has to do with a time that I didn't have boundaries in my life. It covers areas like business, traveling, spending money, lots of problems with alcohol and addiction and food as well. It kind of covers all areas of life where a lot of people struggle with having boundaries.


Danielle Napolio Cox

What's so fascinating about the book, again, like I said, it's like you read one chapter, which could have in itself be its own movie, and then another chapter. I do love how you weave in this, the travels in your experience in Seville, Spain, which is, as you said, one of your favorite places or the favorite place in the world. With that, let's talk about what did the lack of boundaries look like for you? Let's take a step back in time, when, where did you realize that you didn't have boundaries? What's the first profound time that you realize you didn't have them? How did that affect you?


Christine Seibold

I think the first time was when I got sober, which was a little over 13 years ago, but I didn't even use the word boundary or really know what it was. I just knew that I had an issue with alcohol, and I was drinking too much. I had to stop. Those are the stories in the book where I had a couple of near death experiences with alcohol and an abusive relationship. I knew that my life was going down the wrong path, and that I had to both break away from alcohol and this man. I think that was the first time I focused on boundaries was with my second husband, also in an abusive relationship. I was in a lot of therapy, and the therapist brought it to my attention. That was around 2016. I would say about five years ago, four, five or six years ago, where the word boundaries was actually being used. I was like, really brought to light, oh, I really don't have boundaries in any area of my life.


Danielle Napolio Cox

When did you learn that boundaries are a problem for you five years ago? How profound was it? Did you immediately jump into changing that and creating boundaries? Or did you struggle to actually understand what they were and how they looked in your life?


Christine Seibold

No, it was not immediate at all. I think setting boundaries for everybody is a process and for me for sure. First, it took the awareness to figure out what were the areas that I really needed to focus on. To get rid of those things that weren't serving me at the time and kind of take it step by step from there. It was definitely a process over time. I am still working on it but much much better today.


Danielle Napolio Cox

In the book, it's interesting because there's a lot about, like you said, your personal relationships, your relationships to substances. There's this one story in the book and I think my audience would love to know this. Sometimes we think it's easy as entrepreneurs to think that, well, maybe I have blurry boundaries with family and maybe I let my kids get away with more than they can. We kind of tried to compartmentalize these issues. Yet, as an entrepreneur, how we do one thing, how we do everything and if we have boundaries in our personal life, it's going to show up in our business. It showed up for you in a very big way when you started your first but your business freelancing freedom. Why don't you share that story with the listeners so they can see how, although you're over here struggling with relationships, and alcohol, how it actually showed up with your client?


Christine Seibold

Yes, absolutely. In 2018, I left my job in Boston and packed up a car, moved across the country to Miami, Florida. I decided I was leaving my job a year before. I started as a virtual assistant or a virtual project manager. Before I moved to Miami, I had secured a contract with a business in Miami to be a virtual project manager. I thought once I got here, the woman actually lived about three miles down the street from me. So she was requesting more or more, demanding that I move actually, or that I work from her house every day. It started when she had a marketing agency. It started as me kind of learning the ropes and managing some of her people and her clients.The first thing that bothered me was she smoked cigarettes, and she was like a chain smoker and I have asthma. In the beginning, I did ask her, she asked me like, "Oh, does this bother you? I said, ``Actually it does, because I have asthma." That to her translated to "okay, I'm not going to smoke in your face, I'll smoke with the window down, or I'll open up the window and smoke out the window." Yet by month two, I was talking on the phone with my sister, and she said, "what's wrong with your voice, you know, your voice has changed." I realized that the smoke was affecting my voice. I was going home with headaches every night and it just wasn't healthy for me. That was the first kind of red flag with her. Beyond that, it started as me doing kind of, you know, normal project management tasks, but then she would get upset if I didn't do it exactly her way. That soon turned into a change in the job that I was doing completely. Instead of working with her clients, and the people that were developing content, I was working, going to get her car fixed and going to return her clothes at the mall and running to Walgreens for her and returning things. It got to the point where she was asking me to lie, to do things uncomfortably, or call people and demand a credit that she wasn't do or, you know, return to demand that the manager of Walgreens take back, you know, something that she had used and exchange it for cigarettes pass do what on the receipt.


It was just very frustrating for me because I did not sign up to be a personal assistant. There's nothing wrong with being a personal assistant. but that's not what I wanted to do. I would go home and be so upset every day. My husband would say, "well, you're the boss, you know, she's your client, you didn't have to keep reminding me of that." It just got to the point where I couldn't take it anymore. I think I had gone to return a skirt for her at the mall and they ended up charging her for it instead of returning it. When I got back, she got all upset and we got into an argument. I just said, "this is it for me, you know, this isn't the right client." I walked three miles home that night and realized when I got home that I had to leave her.


Danielle Napolio Cox

That's interesting, is that this story with the client is super indicative of the other relationships and how they all progress? When I read in, and what I'm hearing, again, is that it started with just a small boundary violation, something small, but it wasn't small, right? It's just you kind of minimize it yourself, you have asthma. She was being polite by not blowing the smoke in your face. She was just blowing it out in the open window and stuff. It was like the first slip of the boundary where you didn't enforce it. Then it's almost like an invitation in all these other mini slips until it got to the point that you were doing things that were unethical and questionable. Not even part of the reason that she brought you on to help her. Yes. Yeah. Speak to that, so this is a theme in the book where you kind of had to reach this explosive end to learn the lesson? What would you tell yourself looking back on those situations and all the different stories about how you could have figured this out sooner? What would you do differently earlier on other than making a choice? What could you have done internally for yourself?


Christine Seibold

I think with all boundaries, it really comes down to loving yourself and putting yourself first and I have my 'love yourself' T-shirt on today. I think that putting yourself in your needs first, is really what all situations come down to. For me, it could have looked like speaking up to her more about cigarettes. I think when boundaries are violated, they need to be brought, it needs to be brought to the person's attention. They might not even be realizing they're doing it, or they could and they could be manipulative, and just trying to test you and see how far you'll let them go. You know, having a difficult conversation with her saying, you know, well, you hired me for this, and you're having me do this. So I was just curious, you know, when you decided or when the decision was made, that my job responsibilities were going to change, it was even in the contract that we had. Bringing up the contract violation to her and saying, "this isn't really what I signed up for." I think just being direct, honest, and communicating your needs and wants clearly are super important. I definitely could have done that better. I mean, I think I stayed there two months, but I should have left after two weeks, I really should have. I think the other thing is listening to your gut, because your gut always knows what's best. I was ignoring that feeling in my body that was making me uncomfortable when she asked me to call their credit card company and lie, or whatever it was, it was just like, this is, you know, this is just not for me and I ignored that feeling.


Danielle Napolio Cox

I couldn't agree more with what you just said. It's interesting because we often think about self worth, in terms of what I hear in the entrepreneurial space about how much you charge, right know your worth, or you don't under charge because undercharging is chronic, especially among women entrepreneurs. However, sometimes it also means knowing your worth means knowing that you're in a spot where you're not meant to be in and the worth around the money, the fear of scarcity around making money, their client, they're paying me starts to erode, we trade, we barter our worth for dollars. Right? That never worked out with it. Yeah.


Christine Seibold

I'm sorry. That was my exact thought. I think I was getting like $1200 a month, and I was a new entrepreneur. My husband wasn't working, so I was just like, Oh, I'm gonna stick it out because of the money and your self worth is not worth any amount of money, for sure.


Danielle Napolio Cox

Yeah, it's so true. We barter it, right? It never worked out for us in the long run. Even if we get the money, it still never works out. I love the talks about trusting your gut, knowing when this isn't right, and being willing to not only identify it, but also to honor it. I'll never forget one of my mentors, the best advice I personally ever received on boundaries. I think what is a common misconception is that boundaries aren't for other people to honor. They're for us to enforce. We sort of think like, oh, if I set this boundary, everyone else will honor it and that's their job. When they don't, they're to blame but the truth is, it's our job to enforce it, not them, it's never about them, it's about us saying, "This is my boundary, and if you cross it, this will happen". Then honoring that in ourselves. That really changed for me personally and it sounds like for you, you finally hit that point where you're like, I have a boundary here, I have, this is not what I want, I am going to speak to it, and I'm going to enforce it. Enforcing it could create either the end of the termination of the relationship where you let go of your client, or it can lead to a better relationship if it's genuinely a true misunderstanding.


Your book is full of examples like this is one of many about your lessons and learning about boundaries. What should the listeners listen to in this podcast, what should they watch for in their own lives? If they either think or suspect that they may not have somebody, a client or even a family member? Because the truth is, if it's showing up in person it'll show up in our business. If they're not enforcing your boundaries, which they look for to see if perhaps they either do not know that they have a boundary violation or that it's being taken up being in the Jeff.


Christine Seibold

I think I'm just going back to what we were saying about listening to your gut because your body will have a reaction or an automatic response to something that isn't aligned with what you want or what you should be doing. Kind of like a little wake up call, right that we feel like in our bellies or even in our back our attention. If it doesn't feel right, kind of pausing and stopping and taking the time to just be like, is this right, asking yourself asking the questions needed to figure out if this is really aligned with what you need and want?


Danielle Napolio Cox

Oh, I love that. Yeah, self reflection is everything, right? Because getting emotionally neutral is part of the process that I promote, and then analyzing it just with compassion and objectivity. Is this what I want? Is this how it should be? What do I think of this? Being willing to have the tough conversations, which is we could have a whole other podcast episode about those tough conversations, and how to have that conversation without being confrontational. By that we could like I said, that could be a whole other episode.


Christine Seibold

So sorry, I just wanted to add one thing. I was gonna say the next step, once you're aware, is just having the willingness. Sometimes we're aware that we need to set the boundaries, and we figure it out but are we willing to leave that relationship or leave that client? When we really express what we do want and need so the willingness to change, doesn't always follow once the awareness comes.


Danielle Napolio Cox

Yeah, absolutely. It's that fear, again, we're back to the fear of what will happen. Some people avoid tough conversations, some avoid what it will do to the relationship. Going back to your book, you highlight that there are several times where you have to have that tough conversation and it doesn't end well for you. In fact, it ends up very dramatic for you. The business case, the client, the marketing client, is a very small example of that you have some pretty, I don't want to give away everything. But some of those stories that you share, you touch on abuse, you touch on, like you said, on substance abuse, but also physical abuse. There's a lot to unpack about not having boundaries, or not being aware of what your boundaries are, and not enforcing them how they can actually be to your detriment. You of course, Christine, like I said, I've lived nine lives.


Moving on, what are three things someone can do if they suspect or know that they need to? Or know that they need to create or enforce some boundaries? What are three things that they can do? If somebody is listening right now, they think somebody there's a relationship, my life, professional, or otherwise, and I need to enforce that boundary, what can they do?


Christine Seibold

The first thing I think is to know what they value the person who's setting the boundaries. It's important to know your why and why you want to enforce this boundary to keep that at the top of mind when you're going into a difficult conversation. So really knowing what is important to you like if I want to run a marathon, it's important to get the training in and drink and eat properly. Why is running the marathon and I'm setting these boundaries around to make sure that I'm successful to be able to run it right. Knowing your why and what's valuable, communicating the boundary clearly, because I think that sometimes we think we're communicating clearly, but we're so nervous or anxious, it doesn't come out the way that we want.


Being very direct, and then being prepared for the person to not respect your boundaries, because oftentimes people don't, and to bring up the boundary, the boundary violation right away when it happens. If we say, "I'm not going to go out tonight, because I'm running" and someone says, "Oh, hey, let's go out to dinner." Then, you have to bring it up right away and you know, "no, I'm not going to go out because I really want to run this marathon." Just being not being afraid to bring it up because people forget, or they sometimes just don't care and people, there's gonna be people that try to disrespect your boundaries.


Danielle Napolio Cox

Thank you for that. It's true. It's just part of life. I think, in particular, if we are worried about the response to the boundary enforcement, we can try to use wishy washy words to ease the conversation to gently right and so that doesn't, that's not how boundaries get enforced. Boundaries are direct, precise, specific, and unemotional. Right? Like I said, we could unpack the whole conversation of enforcing a boundary for a long time. So Christine, tell us where can they find you on social media? Where is your book available to purchase? How can they learn more about working with you if they're interested in starting a business and going from career to business? Share your details?


Christine Seibold

Sure. So my book is available on Amazon and also my website which is freelance and freedom calm. So the letter is in the middle there, you can also schedule a free discovery call with me there on the website. If you're interested in opening a business, my social media is freelance and freedom and the book social media as well as my travels. Our blog is Blondie without borders.


Danielle Napolio Cox

Oh, thank you so much. I believe you have a freebie to help the listeners guide through their setting and establish their own boundaries and that's on your website. For those listening, I will put all of those below in the show notes and on the web, my websites that you can connect with Christine, and learn more about her crazy but so, so impactful stories. I mean, really, it's better than a season of The Real Housewives like it is. We're talking major drama but major, unlike the housewives, there are some real lessons and some real heartfelt understandings that you gain and share with everyone inside the book. Thank you so much for being here today, Christine. For those listening, like I said, there's a link to purchase Christine's book Blondie without borders in the show notes. You can follow her on Instagram, as you mentioned at freelancing freedom and Blondie without borders. That's it for this episode, everyone. I'll be back again as always, next week with more practical tips, tricks and insights to help you become the next best version of yourself.


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