Suzanne Monroe is Founder and CEO of the International Association of Wellness Professionals (IAWP), a global education company that trains and certifies Wellness Coaches worldwide. Suzanne started the IAWP to inspire others to share the important message of holistic health and wellness while creating a career following their passion and purpose. Today the IAWP is a thriving community of over 25,000 wellness professionals worldwide that are a part of the IAWP mission to change the health of people everywhere. Suzanne is the Director of the IAWP Wellness Coach Certification program which provides a world-class education from the industry’s most renowned experts in holistic health, natural medicine, wellness, coaching, entrepreneurship and holistic business. She is a leader in the conscious business movement, that includes creating success by aligning your passion with your health.
Can you please share your “backstory” with us?
I started my career in the pharmaceutical industry, first as a marketing consultant and later as a sales representative. I gained a real behind-the-scenes look into our healthcare system and it ignited in me a personal mission to find a better way to wellness than relying on prescription medications. After six years in a corporate environment, I began to feel something was missing. I was burned out from working long hours and I felt out of alignment personally with what I was doing for my job. These two forces caused me to begin searching for answers, hoping that there was a better way to wellness.
I took a deep dive into the world of self-improvement, including mindfulness, spirituality and holistic health with a goal of finding out how I could create a life of balance while doing work I loved.
In 2007, I started my own health and wellness business. I started with a small practice as a Wellness Coach to individuals and organizations, then grew to a professional association and multi-million dollar, global education company (The International Association of Wellness Professionals) which trains and certifies Wellness Coaches worldwide. Today I live a life of both wellness and business success and am committed to teaching others how to create healthy and successful lives doing work they love everyday.
What role did mindfulness or spiritual practice play in your life growing up? Do you have a funny or touching story about that?
I was a kid who asked a lot of questions. I probably drove my parents nuts. But I was always wondering about the bigger meaning of things. One question I remember asking was “Why do people go to work all day doing something they don’t enjoy?” I saw my parents work really hard in their jobs but at the end of the day they seemed unfulfilled. Of course now I understand they were focused on providing for our family and I’m grateful to them for all they did. But as a child and later as a young adult, a part of me wanted to know how we could find meaning in what we do everyday. These questions were tied to my greater quest as an adult of how we can find our purpose in life and share our gifts with the world. To me, finding our purpose in life is a spiritual journey.
How do your mindfulness or spiritual practices affect your business and personal life today?
My spiritual practices have become necessities, not luxuries. They help me to approach everything I do from a more mindful place and I’ve noticed that has a major impact on how I live each day including how I feel, how much energy I have, my outlook on life and how I interact with others.
One mindfulness tool I use is meditation. Carving out just ten minutes to focus on my breath and let go of everything allows me to find my center. I feel grounded and connected to something greater. This is an important place for me to find so that I can listen to others and coach them through their own challenges. When I’m centered, I can approach complex business challenges with a clear mind. I can communicate better with my team. I can support students in our community to overcome their own obstacles. Without this place of center, my mind might be racing, thinking about things I had to do, living in the future or just full of mindless chatter. Meditation has helped me to be present in both my business and personal life.
Do you find that you are more successful or less successful because of your integration of spiritual and mindful practices? Can you share an example or story about that with us?
I’m confident I’m more successful because of my spiritual and mindful practices. I truly believe success includes both internal and external results. A person can have a lot of external success but not be truly successful if their internal world is chaotic. For example, if you’re constantly worried or stressed or living in the future, no matter your apparent success, you won’t feel peace or experience joy. This is where mindfulness and spirituality come in to complete the picture of success.
I see my work as my intention to share my unique gifts with others. But on a busy day, it’s easy to get caught up in all of the to do’s and forget about the bigger picture. So in order to stay connected to my purpose, I practice something I call “Creating My Sacred Work Space”. It looks like this….
Before I begin working each day, I do five things to open my office from a spiritual place. Rather than check my emails right away or jump into a project, I spend at least ten minutes preparing my space and my mind. My goal is to literally infuse my space and my mindset with my intention and a purpose to guide me for the day. First, I do some yoga poses to stretch my body and clear my mind. Second, I light a candle to open my sacred work space. Next, I ask for guidance about how I can lead and be of service today through my work. Finally, I listen for what will support me to be mindful and present — sometimes it’s reading a spiritual lesson, or drawing an oracle card with a daily message or even dancing to music in my office!
What would you say is the foundational principle for one to “lead a good life”? Can you share a story that illustrates that?
I used to think leading a good life meant reaching a certain level of external success like having a nice home, having a family, having a lot of money, being able to travel or purchase things you desire. And while those things can definitely contribute to leading a good life, they aren’t the whole picture. I achieved all of those things and realized that I wasn’t any more or less happy than when I didn’t have those things.
Material abundance can be great, but leading a good life to me means having an internal abundance — a belief that I have the freedom to explore my passions and am able to share my unique gifts with others. I believe we are all here for a reason. That each person has a unique purpose and gifts to share. To me our freedom to be able to explore that purpose and do something about it is what truly nurtures our soul and allows us to experience abundance. If we’re trapped by our own minds or our perception of our circumstances, we won’t have the energy to put towards our creativity and purpose.
Can you share a story about one of the most impactful moments in your spiritual/mindful life?
My most spiritual moment was the birth of my son, Luca, who is now almost 8 years old. When it was time to choose where I would give birth, I had an inner knowing that I should have a natural home birth with a midwife because it would be a spiritual milestone for me. While this seemed scary to me at first, I stayed mindful and listened to this inner knowing because it was so strong. My home birth experience indeed turned out to be a spiritual experience. I felt connected to all of the women who had gone before me in a way that is hard to put into words. There was something sacred in this painful experience. I learned that pain in our lives does not last forever. On the other side of pain and darkness can be beauty and joy. I learned to let go of control and be supported. I learned what it really meant to be present and in the moment. These spiritual lessons stayed with with me after his birth and changed how I approached my life going forward. Luca’s birth really became a birth of myself as I learned the importance of receiving support and letting go of control.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
My husband Kevin Cahill has supported my vision and purpose in the world in a way I could never have imagined was possible. It’s hard to put into words all that he means to me and all he has done to help me achieve success. In fact, finding Kevin was part of my mindfulness journey. I had spent two years practicing mindfulness as it related to finding the ideal relationship. This included becoming aware of my limiting thoughts, beliefs, patterns and behaviors about relationships and noticing how they were creating my reality at the time. I consciously became aware of my thinking and perception about attracting a partner and what I would desire in an ideal relationship. Unbeknownst to me at the time, Kevin was also on his own similar spiritual journey. We both had created a list of attributes we desired in a future partner and they were pretty lofty lists. When we met, we were both surprised at how powerful creating intentions can truly be.
Kevin is not only my soul mate, he is my business partner, my biggest fan and my biggest supporter. He has helped my vision and mission grow using his own unique talents that complement mine and he plays an integral role at the IAWP as our Chief Operating Officer.
Can you share 3 or 4 pieces of advice about how leaders can create a very “healthy and uplifting” work culture?
Don’t keep your spiritual self separate from your public self. While spirituality is very personal, I think the more we can share our spiritual side with the others, the better. People are craving more mindfulness and spiritual connection in the busy lives we lead today and are looking to leaders to show them the way and set an example of how to blend spirituality with the everyday aspects of our lives.
Share your story — One of the best ways people learn is through real stories. Sharing your personal stories as a leader makes you more relatable and personal. You vulnerability is your authenticity. Your personal stories can encourage and uplift people. Leaders sometimes seem unreachable or out of touch but you can inspire others by sharing your personal stories.
Create meaningful rituals and share them in the workplace — Work culture can be mundane, but it doesn’t have to be. We can create a sense of connection and greater meaning with workplace rituals. Rituals are practices that are repeated to instill meaning and mindfulness…. An example of a workplace ritual could be opening a weekly staff meeting with a mindfulness exercise to help center and connect the staff together. Or you might encourage a team member to share a practice they enjoy with the group and take turns each month sharing.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I’m grateful today that I’ve been able to start and lead a movement in wellness. My personal dual mission is to inspire people to create meaningful careers that help others and to share the message of holistic health and wellness with as many people as possible. Through my work at the IAWP, this movement has become a reality. But I have not done it alone. Each of our our Wellness Coach students and graduates are leading this movement with me. They are committed to helping others and sharing the important message of wellness. Together we have impacted thousands of lives and I believe that we can continue to grow our movement and help many more people learn how to take active, empowered role in their own health and life.
How can people follow you and find out more about you?
Suzanne Monroe and the International Association of Wellness Professionals can be found at https://iawpwellnesscoach.com/ or on Facebook at facebook.com/InternationalAssociationOfWellnessProfessionals
About the author: Jacob Rupp is a coach, author, speaker, podcaster, and rabbi. He is the founder of Lift Your Legacy, a community that helps people live a more authentic life. He has a regular, syndicated column that appears in ThriveGlobal and Authority magazine. To learn more about him or to listen to the Lift Your Legacy podcast, search iTunes or visit his site: liftyourlegacy.live