The Highlands Company Blog

How to Maintain Your Sanity and Overcome Challenges in the Workplace

Having survived the challenges that women in the business world often face, Highlands Consultant, Marilyn J. Fettner, and well-known speaker and coach, Linda I. McCabe, were motivated to co-author their new book Sanity and Success for Working Women: A Quick Guide to Survive and Thrive in the Corporate World. This small gem has become a must-have resource for working women.

Sanity and Success for Working Women provides the catalyst for developing strategies to overcome the most pressing issues working women face today: gender bias, earning and receiving equal pay and recognition, office politics, and the demands of personal life. For many women, it’s not just about work—it’s about balancing their lives.

As a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor and also a Master Career Counselor, as recognized by the National Career Development Association, Marilyn counsels women and men in different phases of their life and career. Having experience working in the corporate world, she particularly understands the struggles that women encounter in the workplace. Her empathy with those struggles and her experience working with numerous professionals, especially with those in the Chicago area, are what led her to co-create this valuable quick reference guide to help women get the inspiration and practical ideas they need when struggling to find answers.

A frequent challenge women face in the corporate workplace is how to get promoted. The book is designed so that readers can quickly find this topic, or others of interest. For example, a quick flip to the chapter on Solutions to Equal Pay and Career Advancement leads readers through an exercise called Ready Set Go, Apply for that Promotion. This exercise builds confidence for women, as they create an inventory of their abilities, interests, and skills, and by doing so, recognize the proficiency and value they have to offer.

In addition to the necessity for women to take stock of their skills and experience, it’s important that women also get comfortable being assertive – so they can get what they need and deserve. ”So many women aren’t assertive because they equate that with being aggressive. It’s a relief for them to be taught how to be assertive—the words to use, when to use them, how to say it. I think this is a very common problem that women face in the workplace.”

Unlike men, who generally feel they are equipped to handle a new role even if they are just 60% qualified, women generally tend to think they must be 100% qualified to apply for a higher-level position. Sanity and Success guides women through action steps in identifying their objective skills, learning the words to describe those skills, and communicating in the best way to present themselves. By building confidence and assertiveness, many women get the promotions they deserve and expand their career options and growth.

Consultant Spotlight: Marilyn Fettner, LCPC, NCC, MCC

Since 1998, Marilyn Fettner has been helping people find satisfying careers and better work-life balance. As President and Founder of Fettner Career & Life Counseling, located in Northbrook, Illinois, Marilyn helps people of all ages and at various transition points gain confidence and solidify their career goals. Her training and services include life and career counseling, executive coaching, mental health counseling, couples counseling, divorce coaching, mediation, college counseling, ADHD coaching and others.

With a thriving business and a recently-published book to her name, we wanted to chat with Marilyn and learn more about her work and how the Highlands Company has impacted her career.

A Holistic Approach

Marilyn became a Highlands Certified Consultant in 2011. As someone who highly values a holistic approach to counseling, she was immediately impressed by the way the Highlands frames natural abilities as one part of the Whole Person Model. “The core of the work I had always done was to help people realize their best potential—where they fit best and how they could do their best work. The Highlands Whole Person Model aligns beautifully with my approach.”

Her emphasis on helping people find balance in both their personal and professional lives is also the reason she became a licensed counselor. Prior to that, she was a career coach, and while she enjoyed helping people in that capacity, she saw how deeply work lives affect personal lives, and vice versa. Her firm belief that “everything is connected” is what led her to seek training in expanded areas that impact our sense of well-being.

And people notice a difference. It’s common practice for clients to interview several coaches before deciding who they want to work with. According to Marilyn, “People will often come to me and say, ‘I really like the benefit of a whole-person perspective.’ Other coaches only look at interests or personality, but I don’t know how someone can make a career decision based on just one area. Everything is connected.”

Transformational Outcomes

Helping people to identify, inventory, and understand their skills, strengths, interests, values, abilities, and personality is central to the process Marilyn offers to every client. She loves the Highlands Ability Battery (HAB) for its objective evaluation of natural abilities and consistently witnesses how that information is transformational for her clients.

She remembers one client who had been let go from his position and was trying to regroup and determine his next move. He had a lot of negative emotions from his last position because he was so frequently criticized. After taking the HAB, he realized that the work he had been doing did not at all play to his strengths.

“It was incredibly freeing for him to realize that he didn’t have to prove anything,” recalls Marilyn. “He took the self-validating knowledge of what his natural abilities were and followed his passion to a new job in California, where he is very happy and successful. He doesn’t second-guess himself anymore.”

Marilyn sees, over and over, the importance for people to let go of feeling pressured that they should be able to do something, in order to find what they want to do. Maybe the pressure comes from an individual’s family influence, where everyone is a doctor and the family expects the same path for all their children, or maybe it’s idealized expectations that people internalize, about what “successful” individuals look like or how their careers should unfold. Whatever the case, the objective information provided by the Highlands Ability Battery, in conjunction with the Highlands Whole Person Model, provides people with the information and the confidence to reimagine their careers.

Knowledge of your natural talents and how they can impact your ability to take in information can be particularly helpful for students, a demographic that Marilyn frequently works with. One young client of hers was bright, capable, and extroverted . . . and a poor student. The learning strategies recommendation in her HAB report encouraged her to make use of her high tonal (hearing/listening) and rhythm (movement) memory for her studies. Rather than sitting alone quietly, she began to study in groups with other people, take frequent walks, and say aloud what she needed to remember. The difference was phenomenal. “It was like suddenly she was breathing in all of this oxygen. She was elated! She had been feeling badly about herself, but knowing how to study in a way that worked for her made all the difference in her outlook and her grades.”

With her sights already set on writing a second book, Marilyn continues to find inspiration and satisfaction with helping people find happiness and balance in their careers and personal lives. And she continues to find The Highlands Company to be an invaluable partner in that pursuit. You can learn more about her work at