WBOC Leading Lady: Devan Robinson – Coaching people past the barriers in their lives

By Alyssa Dearborn

Social conditioning affects most women at some point in their lives. Although some types of social conditioning – such as people-pleasing, perfectionism, among others – are learned at a young age, conditioning can be unlearned. Helping people overcome these obstacles was the goal this month’s WBOC Leading Lady, Devan Robinson, had when she founded her business, Developing with Devan.

“I use the [term] ‘social conditioning’ as an overarching umbrella.” Devan said when asked how she would define social conditioning, “What social conditioning is is…the things that society has told you that have put you into some sort of box and created some type of obstacle for you to get through. And a lot of times, we don’t realize it.”

When asked what types of obstacles her clients seek help with, Devan said,

“There’s so much. Everybody is so different, but there are some themes. Some of the common themes are perfectionism, people-pleasing, procrastination, the negative self-talk, comparing ourselves to others, not having any boundaries, saying ‘yes’ when you want to say ‘no.’ Those are the common themes. Those are just a handful of the social conditioning type issues that we work through. It’s personalized, one-on-one coaching because nobody is the same. I do have an overarching framework that I follow, like specific tools that I have to pull from, but not everybody needs every single one of those tools and so I do a lot of customization for each person based off of where they want to go.”

Devan started her coaching journey in 2020 when she began contemplating what she was passionate about. Through this process, she realized that there were personal patterns that she was working through that other women were also dealing with.

“From there I figured out what type of training I needed, what skills I needed, which ones I had and which ones I didn’t. I worked on getting the ones that I didn’t and worked on the ones that I did. And then I got my DBA and took that first step.”

“I noticed some patterns going on in the lives of people, especially in women, and I realized that this pattern also was something happening to me.” she continued, “So when I realized that I was helping myself already, I wanted to offer to help other people through the same path. That was when I debated how I would help people. What job helps people in this realm? And that was how I landed on coaching.”

Developing with Devan offers a range of coaching services to work with clients seeking empowerment and help breaking through societal barriers. Devan offers her clients group coaching, a yearly women’s summit, and, of course, one-on-one coaching. When asked how these personalized sessions work, she explained,

“We take a test at the beginning of the session. If we’ve met before, we talk about what happened the last time, we answer some of the questions, like ‘what are your wins?’, ‘what are you thankful for?’ Just taking a little bit of time to reflect on what has happened because a lot of the time we don’t do that in our personal lives. And then we take a few more minutes to figure out exactly what is in your way that is weak and what you want to work through. And we kind of dig a bit deeper.”

“Sometimes people come with a more open-ended issue and they’re not quite sure. They know they’re stuck, but they’re not really sure why they’re stuck. So I help them by taking a look through and listening to what they’re saying, asking them some questions to kind of dig deeper. And that way, each session involves some sort of problem. We walk away with some type of next steps. And so that’s kind of what we spend the rest of the session on. We reflect and review, we hone in on what you want to solve and then we work through it and figure out the next steps of what we’re going to do. Then we’re going to repeat that every week.”

As she developed her business, Devan was able to find mentorship and networking opportunities through the WBOC. As a member of the WBOC, she took on a leadership role right away and became an active member of the organization.

“I joined the WBOC last year and I immediately hopped onto the board because you get what you put in. You get out what you put in and I can see the value of just showing up and being there in the presence of other women who are focused on the same types of things. And so, for me, the WBOC has increased my network, it has taught me some new skills. Being on the board I had to learn a lot of new things. It also helped me realize where some of my strengths lie that I wouldn’t have realized if I hadn’t joined the organization.”

Devan hopes that her business can make a difference in the lives of those who seek her help. When asked what she hopes women get out of her coaching services, she replied,

“I’m hoping that at the end of our session – or somewhere in the middle – that they have a career that makes them so excited to show up to every day because they have the clarity and focus that they need in order to pursue their passion. I hope they have a strong relationship with their significant other. A lot of the times these obstacles make it feel like we’re more like roommates for our partners and we’re not feeling heard or supported. I’m hoping that afterwards, working together, they know how to communicate what they want in a win-win way with their partners. And I’m hoping that after working with me, they have friendships, they’ve figured out how awesome they are, and they’re confident showing up…And I hope that they feel like an unstoppable force of nature that’s crushing it in life. That is what I hope for them.”

To learn more about Developing with Devan or the September Women’s Summit in Syracuse, visit  https://developingwithdevan.com/