Leveling Up as a Leader: Shift Frustration into Momentum

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Growing a company is hard and every leader eventually hits a ceiling. It can be deeply frustrating when there are no apparent solutions and it feels like things will never change. And yet, discovering what’s underlying your frustrations may be the very key you need to break through that ceiling and level up as a leader.

Bob, a client of mine, is the founder of a successful growth start-up. When I started working with him, Bob was six years in and struggling to “let go of the vine” so that he could resume the visionary role in his company. He knew that in order for his company to get to the next level, he had to stop micromanaging. Conceptually, this made sense to Bob, but in practice he didn’t know how to release control.

At first, he tried disconnecting entirely from the daily operations. However, whenever there would be a high level meeting to review the month’s numbers, Bob found himself blowing up at his team when he saw they weren’t hitting all their targets. He felt the cost of their blunders so deeply that his immediate reaction was anger. For his team, the anger only made it harder to reach their potential.

The problem was clear. Bob’s anger was causing damage and only hindering the results he sought. He understood that for the greater long-term good of his company it was necessary to allow his team space to make their own mistakes and learn from them; but, he didn’t know how to do that.

This is where the benefit of outside perspective comes into play. A concept I talk about often with my Scaling Within clients is the importance of growing in self-awareness so that they can learn to act from intention rather than reaction.

If you’re not aware of what’s happening on the inside you will always react out of your emotions, and that can be costly when you’re leading a business. Alternatively, when you become aware of what you are feeling, you invite logic and reason into your situation. And the result is invaluable to your leadership; it unlocks your ability to chart a new course and ultimately break through your ceiling.  

At Scaling Within, I often refer to this process as “looking under the hood.” Anytime you experience anger (or frustration or annoyance) there is always a more primary emotion underlying that feeling, like feeling misunderstood, betrayed, trapped or scared. We typically feel anger first because it's less vulnerable than the more primary emotion beneath it. Feeling angry is like having the check engine light flash on your dashboard. It’s a signal to you that it’s time to look under the hood, though most cover the flashing light with duct tape and continue driving. Discovering which primary emotion is under the hood of your anger or frustration is an integral key to moving forward so you can level up as a leader.

For Bob, anger was only a secondary emotion. I asked him if he could identify which feeling was underlying the anger he felt when his team didn’t hit their targets. After thinking about it for a moment, he replied, “It’s fear.”

You see, Bob was self-made. Raised by humble midwestern farmers, he was a visionary who had carved out his own path and built something, and something very successful at that, quite literally from nothing. Bob suddenly realized that, beneath his anger, he was afraid that if he didn’t control his company tightly enough his dream of changing the world through his business would slip through his fingers. His desire to pass on a legacy and give his future children the opportunities and experiences he never had growing up would come to nothing.

It was an epiphany for Bob to realize this. He now understood the intensity of his reactions during team meetings. His reaction wasn’t based on the actual data his team presented, but out of the fear of what another month of missed targets might mean in the long run.

This awareness alone was game-changing for Bob, but identifying his underlying emotion was only the first step. The next step was to address his fear and reframe it. I told Bob, “Fear has held you up, but your stock isn’t in what you’ve already built. If the whole thing crumbled tomorrow, you’d be okay. You have a wealth-making mind. Your stock is in your ability to take what you’re given and create something from nothing, to move things forward, to adapt, to leverage relationships, to pioneer something great. If this thing ever falls apart, you will only go on to do something greater. It’s who you are. You can’t not.” It was true.

This realization freed Bob up to begin letting go of control and allowed his team to learn through their own mistakes. It gave him the inner peace to begin to truly let go of the vine and return to his role as visionary. And only months later, Bob’s team is now hitting their highest numbers to date.


When you’re the head of a company, it’s often lonely at the top. Understanding what’s happening under the hood in the place you feel most stuck is often the very thing needed to breakthrough to the next level, but it can be quite difficult to figure that out alone. Sometimes you need outside perspective to help you do this. That is the benefit of having a skilled outsider help you look at and reframe what you’re going through.


I’m here to help you identify the ceiling you’ve hit in your current thinking, to help you rise above and think higher. As a leader, you continually need to pause and gain perspective, refine your capacity, and keep moving forward. My clients use our sessions as a place to process relational issues at home, client or employee drama, overcome anxiety, or to reconnect to their core vision so they can effectively level up.

Meredith Kathleen Neumann, MS, LMFT

Meredith Kathleen Neumann, MS, LMFT


I am Meredith Kathleen Neumann. I work with entrepreneurs and business leaders to help them identify and overcome internal barriers and limiting mindsets so they can graduate to the next level of leadership. I call this work Scaling Within, and it’s basically a hybrid between executive coaching and counseling. In my past work as a Licensed Therapist, I specialized in understanding the neurology of complex trauma. This background helps me identify my clients’ limiting beliefs quickly, enabling them to level up both professionally and personally.


Additionally, I do speaking and team trainings for companies where I teach a simple framework from neurobiology that helps individuals grow in self-awareness, so that they have the practical tools needed to scale within as they scale up their businesses.

If you are interested in learning more about individual consulting sessions at Scaling Within or bringing Scaling Within to your company or team, don’t hesitate to reach out.

You can find out more information on my website scalingwithin.com or email me directly at: meredith@scalingwithin.com

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Why Founders + CEOs Need to Scale Within As They Scale Up

(and so does anyone else involved in a growth company)


Whether you’re an early-stage founder or a CEO of a well-established company, your intention is to expand your impact and multiply your revenue. Essentially, your goal is to scale your business. But one obstacle stands in the way of anyone in such a fast-paced, high-stress role. I’ve seen it again and again in my work with business leaders at varying stages of both the entrepreneurial and corporate journey: the need to scale within.


It’s one thing to have a great idea or a vision that you want to bring forth into the world. It’s another thing entirely to:

  • Actually grow a business.

  • Build a functional team.

  • Manage endless drama from clients and employees.

  • Deal with the countless other challenges that arise along the journey.


Whether you are currently scaling your business or are in the initial stages of a great idea, the road to scaling up necessitates learning to scale within. In other words, you must grow as your business grows.


Scaling Within Is about Leveling Up


The concept of scaling within is about expanding your internal capacity to sustain external growth. It’s about increasing your ability to lead yourself and others well as your company develops over time. Personal growth is crucial to your success as a leader.


Another way to think about scaling within is to picture scaling an internal mountain. Think about climbing up the mountain of what you’re capable of offering to the world in this life, and leveling up as you go.

I think of it like the video game Mario Brothers (the only video game I ever played growing up). You’re playing the game, developing skills, collecting coins, and, eventually, you conquer the bad guy and advance to the next level. Now, if you die on that next level, you don't go back to the beginning of the game; you start over at the beginning of your new level.


Scaling within means knowing what internal level you or your company is on and recognizing when you’ve hit a ceiling that you’ll need to overcome in order to level up.


When You Scale Within, Your Former Ceiling Becomes Your New Floor

As I mentioned, scaling within means recognizing when you’ve hit a mental ceiling and learning how to overcome that internal barrier. You can obtain a certain level of success based upon your natural abilities and skills. But, eventually, you will hit a ceiling—where what worked in the past isn’t enough to take you to the next level. For example, you may find that you need to develop better time management skills or greater self-awareness or a more effective communication strategy.


Once you recognize that you’ve hit an internal ceiling, you can become intentional about overcoming it. You can create a plan for internal growth, and execute it—just as you would implement a new marketing strategy or hire a new employee if the need arose. Once you’ve conquered the ceiling, that former ceiling can become your new floor. In other words, what used to block you from getting ahead is now your starting point on the journey to further growth. It’s like you’re on a whole new level in Mario Brothers.


The Foundation for Scaling Within Is Self-Awareness


Scaling within is about learning to act from intention rather than reaction, and the foundation for doing so is self-awareness. If you don’t have awareness about what’s happening on the inside, you will always react out of old patterns. You will never behave in the higher ways required for you to level up and will likely be unsuccessful in scaling up your business.

It's not only about having the awareness to recognize what's happening inside you, but also recognizing where your company is at in its developmental process—and acting accordingly. For example, it’s helpful to tie your two-year-old’s shoe for him. But if you’re still tying your eight- or even 16 year-old’s shoe, it’s no longer helpful. You’re performing the same action, but you’re actually hindering your child’s growth if you continue doing so at this advanced developmental stage.


In the same way, sometimes the actions you take that are helpful when you’re first starting out will actually hinder your business from moving forward if you don’t become aware and adapt as you grow. This is another reason why learning to scale within is so vital as you begin to scale up your business.

Scaling Within Is a Concept, but it’s also a Company

Meredith Kathleen Neumann, MS, LMFT

Meredith Kathleen Neumann, MS, LMFT

I am Meredith Kathleen Neumann. I work with entrepreneurs and business leaders to help them identify and overcome internal barriers and limiting mindsets so they can graduate to the next level of leadership. I call this work Scaling Within, and it’s basically a hybrid between counseling and executive coaching. In my past work as a Licensed Therapist, I specialized in understanding the neurology of complex trauma. This background helps me identify my clients’ underlying issues quickly, enabling them to level up both professionally and personally

When you’re the head of a company, it’s often lonely at the top. As a leader, you continually need to pause and gain perspective, refine your capacity, and keep moving forward. My clients use our sessions as a place to process relational issues at home, client or employee drama, overcoming anxiety, or to reconnect to their core vision so that they can effectively level up.

Additionally, I do speaking and team trainings for companies, where I teach a simple framework from neurobiology that helps individuals grow in self-awareness, so that they have the practical tools needed to scale within as they scale up their businesses.

If you are interested in learning more about Individual Scaling Within Consulting Sessions or bringing Scaling Within to your company or team, don’t hesitate to reach out.

Email me directly at: meredith@scalingwithin.com

For more on this topic, join the mailing list below or follow me on social media: @scalingwithin