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From cancer diagnosis to coaching women all over the world

How a wakeup call in the form of a health scare led me to start my own six-figure business and create the Women's Leader Archetypes - allowing women everywhere to escape burnout and embrace authentic leadership

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People all over the world are experiencing stress at record highs.

According to a recent study, approximately 40% of people in the workforce experience persistent stress or excessive anxiety on a daily basis in the workplace. That’s nearly half of the individuals who report to work every day!

Working women in particular tend to make up a staggeringly large number of the stress-afflicted population. In an age where we can have it all, we push ourselves to our limits and juggle increasing responsibilities with admirable multi-tasking skills.

There’s certainly nothing wrong with pursuing it all, but stress, left unchecked, can be extremely harmful. Even the United Nations’ International Labor Organization has defined occupational stress as a “global epidemic,” one that’s been demonstrated to be associated with increased rates of heart attack, hypertension, and other disorders.

It’s more important than ever for women to take better care of themselves—from learning how to effectively manage stress to creating firm boundaries that protect their peace of mind. After all, the more time you devote to nourishing yourself, the better able you are to maintain your mental, emotional, and physical health, which best positions you to accomplish your goals with more energy, enthusiasm, and clarity.

Many people, though, struggle with slowing down.

Sometimes, it takes a wakeup call for you to take a long enough pause to assess your life and decide whether or not you’re truly living the way you want to.

In 2010, on the anniversary of my mother’s death from cancer, I received a wakeup call of my own. It came in the form of a heart-stopping diagnosis that changed everything for me.

Cancer.

Suddenly, I was very much reminded of all the things I wanted to do with my life but that I had continuously put off for another season. You see, we tend to subscribe to the belief that we’ll have all the time in the world to pursue the things we most want to accomplish, to steadily build the life of our dreams. At the age of 42, however, I realised just how precious time really is and how I’d sadly taken so much for granted.

My wakeup call led me to make a decision: enough was enough!

It was time for me to make big changes in my life.

For one, I was ready to take back the reins of my destiny and create a new future for myself, one where I was living intentionally and fulfilling my purpose by utilising my skills, talents, and gifts for the betterment of others.

At this point, my corporate career in Human Resources and Organisational Development spanned more than 20 years. It was early on in this career that I’d realised just how much I enjoyed coaching and developing individuals. As such, I was passionate about releasing the potential of leaders, teams, and organisations on a new level.

That’s how my firm Shaping Change was born, a consulting practice in the field of Organisational Development and Human Resources, where I help leaders and managers leverage the talents and skills of their people. While it was scary to leave my corporate role to walk the road of entrepreneurship, I knew in my heart it’s what I was being called to do. I had to trust in myself and in my abilities, and as it turned out, doing so paid off. Within a year, I’d created a 6-figure profit through Shaping Change, and every year since then, the firm has grown in new and in incredible ways, affording me opportunities I could’ve never fathomed at the onset of it all.

While being a business owner naturally comes with challenges of its own, it also allowed me to escape the overwhelming stress that can often come with a corporate career. I no longer had to be a part of the stress and burnout epidemic that’s ravaging the working world. Indeed, as Founder and Managing Director of Shaping Change, I’m fortunate to experience a fulfilling type of freedom that allows me to create my own schedule and reserve time for things that nourish me.

One example: world travel had always been a dream of mine. Once I was finished with my cancer treatments, I decided I wanted to prioritize enjoying my life to the fullest extent. As such, I now take an annual overseas trip with my husband, which has been a joy for us both.

But fulfillment can also come from pursuing purpose-driven work, and this has certainly been the case for me with Shaping Change, especially with regards to the newest directions my work has taken.

Recently, this has meant researching and exploring the art and science of female leadership, which led me to create the Women’s Leader Archetypes.

What are the Women’s Leader Archetypes? Here’s how I describe it: the world of business was constructed by alpha males for alpha males. This makes us approach leadership as a one-size-fits-all role, but this doesn’t always work for women and can lead to stress, burnout, and overwhelm when it doesn’t align with how a woman has been designed to lead.

Enter: the Women’s Leader Archetypes, a diagnostic tool I created that reinvents what it means to be a female leader, showing women that it’s possible to lead and influence effectively—while still being true to themselves!

This work has been wildly fulfilling for me and has allowed me to coach women all over the world in embracing the leadership archetypes that empower them to be their best and most effective selves.  

In fact, as a direct result of my mentoring, my clients have achieved five figure pay increases, promotions to the C suite, and unshakeable confidence. They have also left stifling, inauthentic roles for more satisfying ones, have created highly successful businesses, and have designed first-class lives!

All in all, my wakeup call allowed me to be a catalyst for change for other leaders—giving them wakeup calls of their own that have helped them escape stress and burnout to build the lives of their dreams. What a journey it’s been!

Want to learn more about my experience with surviving cancer, the lessons I learned along the way, and how I created a life where I’m thriving every day? I talk about it all on FRIED: The Burnout Podcast, where female entrepreneurs learn to be more resilient – and have more fun!

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