I used to think that my results in my business and my personal life had nothing to do with each other.
That was before life handed me a challenge that shook me to the depth of my core.
Striving to overcome change and challenge used to work for me. I powered through every time I made a leap in my career, or a big move in my business. No matter how scared I was, or how big the risk, I’d put my head down and get it done.
From high school teacher to corporate trainer, from trainer to award-winning salesperson, from sales to building my consulting business, my success was directly related to how much work I was willing and able to do. And I was willing to work a lot!
And then everything changed.
Nothing in my life had prepared me for a front row seat to a horrifying tragedy.
In October 2009, I participated in a personal development retreat led by James Arthur Ray in Sedona, Arizona. A sweat lodge ceremony on the last day of the week-long event caused the deaths of three of my peers. In the highly publicized aftermath, I turned away from all things personal development, including the transformation of my consulting business into a coaching practice.
I lost my confidence, my voice and I did not trust in my ability to coach. Instead, I clung to my unfulfilling but safe consulting work and diverted my energy into starting a more tangible helping business by opening a gym.
I could not see that I was overwhelming myself with work.
After five years of being spread too thin, I was exhausted and overwhelmed. Something had to give.
Timed with a relocation in 2014, I sold the gym to one of our trainers and cut the cord on my consulting work. Moving was the opportunity I needed to re-evaluate. I was ready to get back to what mattered most to me – my dream business of coaching entrepreneurs, public speaking and writing. On the surface, it appeared that everything was OK and that I was moving forward. I was doing all the “right things”. Only this time something was different. It wasn’t working, and I couldn’t figure out why.
Enlighten Us – The turning point
The turning point came in early 2015. I was contacted to participate in Enlighten Us, a documentary about the tragedy in Sedona, and the events leading up to it. The idea of going on record and being seen scared me. But I knew in my heart that the time had come to have a voice.
My interview for Enlighten Us took place on March 1, 2015. It was a long day of lights, cameras and answering director Jenny Carchman’s questions as carefully as I could. I spoke of things that I hadn’t allowed myself to think about or feel for years.
When the interview was over, I stood outside for a moment and took a deep breath. I turned my face towards the early March sun. As I felt the faint warmth of the sunlight, an unfamiliar feeling washed over me.
I had just shared the details of my trauma – potentially for anyone to see.
I knew I couldn’t control how what I said would be used or what people might think – and all I felt was relief.
The day I interviewed for Enlighten Us, I began the process of reclaiming my voice and speaking my truth. I was determined to get to the core of what had been stealing my joy.
I came to the realization that I had to stop doing the same thing over and over again, expecting the same result. If I didn’t change how I was doing everything, I was going to end up stuck with a business I didn’t like.
Over the next weeks and months, I put everything I was thinking, feeling and doing under the microscope. I came to realize I hadn’t just turned away from coaching – I had rejected many practices that had brought joy into my life. One by one, I started to bring them back.
(By the way, as I went through this process, I documented it all and organized it into an e-Book – 7 Core Strategies to Move Forward After a Significant Life Crisis – that you can download for free by clicking here.)
In my return to coaching, I embraced the approach that works best for me and started bringing it into my practice. I started to tell my story in public and found that many people resonate with my experience of trauma and shame. But they also resonate with my fierce desire to move forward – not in spite of, or in opposition to what happened – but to engage in meaningful conversations and share the lessons from my experience.
When I learned to integrate my life with my business and my business with my life – including the hardest parts – my business took off.
And I also learned something REALLY BIG – the process to come back after a significant life crisis and the process to grow a business that you love is exactly the same.
You can’t keep life and business away from each other. A happy life and a successful business you love are created the exact same way.
So now, I’m on a mission to help entrepreneurs have
Clarity – So you can build a business you love that fits YOU.
Strategy – So in the best of times and the most challenging times, you know how to move forward.
Results – So you can grow your business while being true to yourself and the people you serve.
I encourage you to ask everyone who calls themselves a business coach about their real world business experience. Now that you know about my story and my mission, here’s a recent talk I gave to an intimate group of entrepreneurs. It’s a fun look at my 20 years of business since I left teaching!