You Are Not Alone, with Lorraine Barnes
“You’re not alone because there’s somebody else out there that was abused as a child. There was somebody else out there that was raped. There was somebody else out there that was kidnapped. All of our situations are similar but what I mean when I say you’re not alone is you really do have yourself. They can only take from you what you choose to give them and while it’s great to have friends and family and loved ones to lean on and to depend on. The most important person to be able to lean on and depend on and to love on is yourself.” – Lorraine Barnes, on episode 10 of the Authenticity is Contagious Podcast.
Founder of Authentic Leadership Advisors and Authentic Leadership Advisors Academy, Kathleen O’Grady is a visionary leadership coach and fearless leader. She supports driven individuals and organizations to achieve the impossible. Her ability to act as a catalyst for people to discover, rediscover, and embrace their unique genius is what makes Kathleen one of the most sought-after global executive coaches. She is a two-times past president of the International Coaching Federation Raleigh Chapter, and her work is featured in web articles by the NYTimes.com, Huffingtonpost.com, Forbes.com, and eFinancialCareers.com.
Her real-world stories, practical tools, and actionable insights help clients step out of their comfort zone to create authentic meaning and purpose in their life and work. By embracing change, Kathleen believes everyone can achieve something extraordinary.
Kathleen O’Grady: So today, my guest on the Authenticity is Contagious Podcast is none other than Lorraine Barnes from Wilmington, North Carolina. Welcome Lorraine.
Lorraine Barnes: Hi.
Kathleen O’Grady: So I’ve been really excited about having you on as a guest because the story that we share is quite a doozy. Of course, you probably anticipate my first question that I’m going to have you share with our listeners today, which was, how did you come to get to know me and how did you like me at that time?
Lorraine Barnes: Absolutely. Positively. 100% against my will. So back in November of 2017, the gentleman that I worked for decided he needed to reach out for some authentic leadership training. I was hired to ground his company financially and do some heavy lifting, so to speak. And so he grouped me into that same category, which, you know, I flew off with, you have to be kidding me, few explicitives in there. So we fought about it and he’s like, well, I’m going up to Raleigh to meet these people and you’re going with me. So fast forward three or four weeks, that appointment comes and I’m like, I’m not going. I have a multimillion dollar business to run and I’m not going with you up there.
I have no desire to meet these people and no desire to even partake in whatever bullshit it is that you’re doing. So he goes up there, he comes back and he’s like, this is great. I’ve hired them. I have invested X amount of thousands of dollars, and of course I go left around the corner a few more explicatives and he’s like, Oh, by the way, you have a zoom interview and you’re gonna meet these people.
So a week later, we’re on this lovely zoom call with two people that I’ve never met in my life and really didn’t want to meet. Kathleen O’Grady and Marcy Miles. The whole time we’re having this conversation, I’m to the right of Rob, the business owner, my boss, and I’m cussing him. I’m flipping him off and I’m like, I am not dealing with this woman.
She’s way too happy. She smiles too much. She laughs too much. She’s crazy. I’m not doing it. So that’s how I came to meet you.
Kathleen O’Grady: Yes. And then fast forward to February 4th, yes. Of 2019. Yeah. Tell us about that.
Lorraine Barnes: After surviving the zoom interview and, and still being hell bent and determined that I was not partaking in this , it came down to basically, I either surrender and go or I can walk away from my job.
I had already walked out of corporate America at that point and really wasn’t in the mood to walk out of another job. So I sucked it up buttercup and I went to Raleigh, North Carolina. February 4th at 7:55 AM cause we were told to be five minutes early. I walked through the doors of Authentic Leadership Advisors Academy and there I sat and somehow they had me sitting at the front of the room next to one of the proctors, Ms Marcy Miles.
Kathleen O’Grady: And so what happened over the course of that day for you?
Lorraine Barnes: I mean, between all the different exercises and everything that, you know, ALA Academy was presenting to the restaurant brand that I’m the COO of, the long and short of it is, by the end of the day, I had called my boss and told him it was the best investment that he had ever made. Whether or not he had the money to do it or not.
Kathleen O’Grady: What made you say that?
Lorraine Barnes: Coming from the world that I come from and existing in a world that was strictly black and white, a little speck of light came through if you would. I was opened up to, let’s say, the colors of life. There was more than just black and white that existed. And not everybody’s feelings can be reduced down to a spreadsheet.
Kathleen O’Grady: Yeah. And. You know, you and I have talked about this quite a bit cause I always like to reminisce about how I won you over (laughter)
If I remember correctly, it was the exercise where you had to kind of identify your current identity story on a sheet.
Lorraine Barnes: The ” I am” exercise. The bubbles. Yes.
Kathleen O’Grady: And what did that uncover for you?
Lorraine Barnes: Honestly that I was the robotic shell of a human being, that I literally reduced everything down to a financial equation.
I reduced it down to a spreadsheet or to an algorithm. And that was pretty, that was pretty enlightening. When you actually sit and write something about yourself and you know, I was trying to be honest, we were told to be 100% honest about it, and so I was really like, okay, I’m here. Let me just dive into this. And totally be honest. And that’s what, that’s what came out for me.
Kathleen O’Grady: So your overachieverness actually worked against you in that exercise.
Lorraine Barnes: Absolutely It did.
Kathleen O’Grady: But for you in the end.
Lorraine Barnes: Absolutely!
Kathleen O’Grady: Now that was just the appetizer if you will.
Lorraine Barnes: Yes.
Kathleen O’Grady: To give a restaurant pun of what then transpired over the course of pretty much all of 2019.
Lorraine Barnes: Yes.
Kathleen O’Grady: And I don’t necessarily want to lead you in the direction of any particular story but if you can imagine who you have been in your life and all of the places that you had suffered and beat yourself up and basically tortured yourself emotionally. What do you want to share with the listeners about what happened to you over the course of 2019?
Lorraine Barnes: That’s a deep well.
Kathleen O’Grady: Yeah I know you’re not going to be able to tell everything.
Lorraine Barnes: No for sure. My story is a story of many many webs and many many strings and I think the greatest part of 2019 for me was that I didn’t have to be held captive by anything and everything that happened in the past . I used to be a person that existed strictly in the black and white. It was either this way or that way. I had an ego the size of you know the San Andreas fault, if you would, if you want to come up with something big and to compare it to. The fact that I was going to figure out a way to always be right. I could terminate people, I’ve probably slid 1500 or more severance checks across the table with no emotion, no feeling. Never considering someone else’s position where they may be financially, emotionally, mentally, no consideration for anyone. I held myself captive from the chains that I was bound by from a man that decided he needed to control and own my childhood. He took it from me and instead of me taking it back I gave it to him. I gave him every part of myself and I didn’t realize that I instead of taking the drug route in my life or you know the slumming it route. I became the absolute overachiever and I was going to claw my way to the top and I was going to fight my way to the top regardless of who I hurt or what I did or what I had to do. And I’ve pulled some pretty shitty shaky stunts in my life to get to the top. Yes it may have worked out financially but it worked out in no other way for me. This man, his name was Robert destroyed any sense of innocence that I had with myself. As a child as somebody that existed in a world and I didn’t realize until May of 2019 that I had given him myself and I gave him my soul and I gave him my heart. He didn’t take it from me, I gave it to him. And so the realities that set in for me were I didn’t have to live that life. I didn’t have to be this overbearing, obnoxious, self-centered, self-righteous bitch that I had become and that’s the only way to describe it. That’s everything that I had become.
Kathleen O’Grady: Thank you so much for having the trust to share that with every one who’s listening because I remember you talking about how your identity for the longest time had been one of victim.
Lorraine Barnes: Yes
Kathleen O’Grady: And so the way you fought back against feeling like a victim was to almost have if I will if I may like an, I’ll show you M-er F-er perspective.
Lorraine Barnes: Honestly what I did and this is just actually been a recent epiphany for me. You know what I did I took my victim status because that’s how I lived my life. And I turned other people into victims.
Kathleen O’Grady: Oh wow.
Lorraine Barnes: That’s what I did and the people that were able to walk away from some of the things that I did and not be a victim are the people that had already traveled a journey that I’ve just recently been traveling over the past 13 months. That’s what I did, if I was going to be a victim so was everybody else but I was gonna look like the hero in it. I wasn’t going to be the victim because I didn’t understand being exactly what a victim was.
Kathleen O’Grady: Well you know we’ve talked about this a lot but I’ve never heard you articulate it quite like that. That just goes to show that we’re always going to have new insights when we talk about who we are and who we’ve been.
Lorraine Barnes: Absolutely.
Kathleen O’Grady: And who we want to be more of and less of from one minute to the next and so you mentioned about sliding over severance checks and when you used to be this hardcore bitch, heartless.
Lorraine Barnes: Yes.
Kathleen O’Grady: Now I also recognize you’ve had a lot of transition in your current restaurant leadership and now what is it like when you have to have a conversation?
Lorraine Barnes: It’s quite amusing actually, the first termination that I actually had to do since this transition and you know going from one extreme to the other strange extreme and not finding that balance yet. I actually cried. I had to leave the table and let Rob deal with it. It broke my heart because all I could think about was, oh my God how are they gonna pay their bills? How are they gonna pay their rent? How is she going to eat? So I went from being the persecutor to jumping into this rescuing mindset like, oh my God I had to rescue them, so I just fired them. So now I’ve got to figure it out how are they gonna eat and how they’re going to pay the bills. So you know it was the first couple of terminations were a little tough for me because I had to figure out how to balance it. You know how to exist in a business world where certain decisions are black and white but the emotion and the human aspect of it doesn’t have to be black and white. So you know it took a couple months and you know you and I had several conversations about that but I finally found that balance.
Kathleen O’Grady: It’s kind of like a pendulum, it swings from one extreme to the other before it kind of gets into the center.
Lorraine Barnes: Yes.
Kathleen O’Grady: I’m wondering how you’re feeling today about your authentic leadership?
Lorraine Barnes: Honestly I feel better about myself today and my leadership than I have in what 25 years. A really cool thing that I’ve come to terms with is, all of the people that I have terminated in my career, not all of them technically deserved it. I was existing in a world of yes but. Now what I realize is I’m not terminating people. I’m setting standards for a company. There are budgets. There are baselines. There are guidelines. You know there are certain things that have to be followed whether it be health department compliance, alcohol law enforcement rules, service, labor budgets, food budgets, cost of goods, whatever the case may be. I’m not terminating the people. They’re actually terminating themselves. You know when you constantly jack your cost up over X amount of percent and it’s just kind of a whatever you know I’m not terminating them. I’m just helping them exit the building and I’m not doing it from a place of, yeah watch this I’ll fix you or doing it from a place of, oh you want me to control this this tightly. Okay let me just go terminate 10 people and call it a day.
Kathleen O’Grady: More conscious.
Lorraine Barnes: Yes. Yes and and I’m not robotic and I’m not cold hearted .You know I realize and I accept the fact that I am terminating a human being. I am releasing someone from a place where they’re receiving a salary. They may be dependent you know on that money because they may live hand to mouth and not have savings or whatever and you know they might depend on every single penny and it does hurt but at the end of the day when it comes to the business, yes I have to protect the business but I really don’t have to further destroy and further beat down somebody you know outside of that termination.
Kathleen O’Grady: And so outside of your professional life what has choosing authenticity done in your personal life?
Lorraine Barnes: Ah that’s a so you know funny enough I live in a complicated situation. My partner and I have been together well over 23 years and her mother recently moved in with us and of recent, I mean in the past four years she’s been living with us. It’s been quite complicated some days and the old Lorraine just got extremely pissed off and you know one big F-you and I’m not tolerating this. I’m going to make you choose and you know you can’t subject me to this and this is not fair. And you know basically acting like a child standing in the corner going, you can’t have my crayons I want them. And you know I’ve gone from that to accepting an understanding that this woman has lost her freedom. She’s lost her ability to be able to live by herself. She’s losing her sight. Her memory is not the greatest. She’s got some early onset of like some dementia setting in and I’m actually blessed that I am in a position to provide a house, to provide food ,to provide care, to provide transportation, and to provide laughter and love. No it doesn’t mean that there aren’t hard days and it doesn’t mean there aren’t days that I would like to choke her out. That’s human nature but what I realized is it really boils down to being proactive versus being reactive. As long as I’m not reactive to the situation and just love her no matter what, it’s all good and my relationship is stronger now than it’s been ever.
Kathleen O’Grady: It’s because you opened your heart.
Lorraine Barnes: I’m not heartless.
Kathleen O’Grady: You even opened your heart to me.
Lorraine Barnes: I did crazy enough, the woman that I thought was bat shit crazy
Kathleen O’Grady: And at this point we’ve been on two vacations together.
Lorraine Barnes: Yes Yes.
Kathleen O’Grady: I want to go back to a couple of things that I’ve known that you’ve shared with me about your experience of growing into choosing authenticity versus choosing fear. One of the biggest takeaways was the concept from the four agreements, be impeccable with your word.
Lorraine Barnes: Yes, oh so I’ll tell this story. Fast forward through the initial training that my company set up with Authentic Leadership Advisors Academy and we had some classes and some pre-work and some after work and some books you know different things we had to do. I went through CALC, Authentic Leadership Advisors academies, Certified Authentic Leadership Coach Training and the first weekend, I decided that I was going to, I wanted to take back control and power over my own life. Because I had given it away. I gave it away to Robert. I gave it away just on so many different things that we really don’t have time to cover so I’m just going to focus on Robert right now. The short of the extremely long story is the abuse was severe, it was deemed rape, torture, assault and he was in prison. It was discovered when I was a teenager at my godmother’s house. I stood up to put my cereal bowl in the sink, I passed out. I was internally hemorrhaging. I hadn’t told anybody. They rushed me to the hospital. The doctors came out asked my parents I need to know what happened to this child and I need to know now. So that’s when the stories started coming out. So fast forward through all of that time and you know climbing what I deemed a ladder of success which was defined by financial gain of course and title. That weekend ,that first weekend of CALC, I decided to take my life back from him. I had already turned my keys in from corporate America I was I was tired of it. I was tired of existing as a number. I didn’t know why I was tired of it but I was and so I decided to write this man a letter. And this letter that I wrote, it boiled down to forgiving him for everything and I think you may remember better than me because it was a blur Kathleen. But I think even there was one part of it that I thanked him for all the lessons that I’ve learned. And I read the letter to the leaders of the CALC program in private the last day of the first weekend and I gave the letter to Kathleen, and Kathleen said she was going to burn it and what was it three, four days later, three days later Kathleen just texted me a video of the letter being burnt at her home in a pot. And it said, goodbye Robert, Hello Lorraine. It took me a day to watch it but I watched it and from there, two days later the man had a massive heart attack. From there fast forward was it seven days, eight days later. My company was scheduled to be back at Authentic Leadership Advisors Academy for further training and while I was there on a Tuesday he actually died. During that time I went to the hospital and I saw him. He didn’t know I was there but again I said you know I reiterated my forgiveness and I wished him well and I wished him peace with his maker whoever that may be in his world. And what I have learned about the impeccability of your word is to be really really careful with what you wish, want, desire and manifest because the universe will deliver but it delivers in its own way and you have to make sure you’re ready for it cause the universe doesn’t work on our time If you think about it.
Kathleen O’Grady: Yeah and every time I think back to how that all was happening so quickly and divinely. The story I make up is that because you had expressed forgiveness to him through your letter and through your visit to the hospital, his role was complete.
Lorraine Barnes: He was my forgiveness and you know that forgiveness it went deep because honestly I didn’t need to forgive him as much as I needed to forgive myself. Because the type of damage and the type of pain, it took me a while to wrap my brain around this but all the writing and the thinking and the reading that I’ve done. All of the pain that he pushed on me and delivered to me. I delivered to others trying to pay him back. Now, it wasn’t in a sexual way you know I’ve never done anything like that and it wasn’t in that type of demonic way. But I delivered my own bullshit to people and I cost them their own level of pain as well. And I really had to forgive myself more than I had to forgive him. It was easier to forgive him than it was to forgive myself once I was able to actually realize what I was doing.
Kathleen O’Grady: What wisdom do you have to share with people who have suffered any sort of abuse or rape in terms of their healing?
Lorraine Barnes: We all hear everybody say you’re not alone because there’s somebody else out there that was abused as a child. There was somebody else out there that was raped. There was somebody else out there that was kidnapped you know whatever the case may be. All of our situations are similar but what I mean when I say you’re not alone is you really do have yourself .They can only take from you what you choose to give them and while it’s great to have friends and family and loved ones to lean on and to depend on. The most important person to be able to lean on and depend on and to love on is yourself. Because without that, they will always have power and dominion over you That’s what I would say to people.
Kathleen O’Grady: When you imagine having this podcast with me today, what’s a question that I haven’t asked you yet that I should be asking? All in this notion about authenticity being contagious, Oh I know the story If it’s okay to share the story about the letter that one of your staff people wrote to you.
Lorraine Barnes: Oh I actually have that letter over there on the desk. So I have this young lady and her life is a twisted web as well. She was a drug addict and she’s been clean for three years and she moved to Wilmington North Carolina The first year she was employed by us I walked up to her because she had made a comment that I was mean. Now this is pre pre journey pre-transition of Lorraine. She said I said to her if you’re not strong enough to stand up to me you’re not warm enough to be on my line and you can get the hell out. And from that point she worked diligently to prove herself to me. After my transition we’ve had a great talk and she recently just wrote me a letter her and her husband and asked me to be the godmother to their unborn child. So and this is the one that thought I was a crazy bitch. I mean she called me that a few times actually to my face. And the one question I’ve got this that I’m shocked you haven’t asked me was, what reality did I have and what what thoughts did I have and what did I know in my heart was going to happen to me if I didn’t make changes within myself?
Kathleen O’Grady: Okay Yeah.
Lorraine Barnes: Because I knew that you know between drinking and just burning the candle at both ends, the answer to that question is, had I not opened my heart, my mind and my soul up in ALA Academy, not only through the training with my company but through the CALC program, I would’ve been dead. I probably would have been dead within two years. I definitely wouldn’t be doing this podcast I most likely would have been dead.
Kathleen O’Grady: Would you consider that kind of self sabotage in a way?
Lorraine Barnes: Oh absolutely.
Kathleen O’Grady: Yeah.
Lorraine Barnes: Oh I was working in every possible self, self sabotaging way you could come up with.
Kathleen O’Grady: Well shout out to Rob Shapiro, thanks for saving Lorraine’s life.
Lorraine Barnes: Yeah Rob don’t tell him that girl
Kathleen O’Grady: Well my dear I mean there’s so much more to the onion that is you that I’m sure there’ll be reasons for me to have you back on again in the future but any any parting words to our listeners today.
Lorraine Barnes: Well I think the name of your podcast says it all is that authenticity is contagious and it needs to spread like wildfire because we won’t exist under the shadow of fear when it does.
Kathleen O’Grady: That’s so true and I’ll add to that with my parting words that I knew you didn’t like me. It was all over your face
Lorraine Barnes: Oh yes girl, I know.
Kathleen O’Grady: And I just thought to myself, oh I got this. I’m just going to love her into submission and it went a lot faster than I thought
Lorraine Barnes: I was on the way out of this world and that’s the part you didn’t know.
Kathleen O’Grady: Part of me did obviously.
Lorraine Barnes: Yeah.
Kathleen O’Grady: The part that connects us all. So I love you dearly.
Lorraine Barnes: I love you.
Kathleen O’Grady: We will listen to this recording together some night over a meal and smile
Lorraine Barnes: Asolutely
Absolutely. All right doll
Kathleen O’Grady: Thanks angel.