It will feel really vulnerable to write a book. Do it anyway. If I moved forward with this project based only on my comfort level, then quite frankly, this book would never have been written. I don’t think I realized how vulnerable it would feel at times, but I’m sure glad I stuck with it. My own personal growth process has deeply benefited from this whole experience.
Aspart of my interview series on the five things you need to know to become a great author, I had the pleasure of interviewing Amy Lombardo.
AMY LOMBARDO is a pioneer in personal growth programming and has worked for over fifteen years as a spiritually-focused entrepreneur. In 2016, she created the Brilliance Academy for Personal Transformation and Social Change to train and certify aspiring coaches in her uniquely integrative approach to empowerment and to inspire the next generation of change agents in the field of human potential. Her new book Brilliance: A Coaching Guide to Clearing Inner Obstacles and Letting Your Authenticity Shineis due in stores March 26th and available for pre-order on Amazon and at amylombardo.com/brilliance.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you share a story about what brought you to this particular career path?
My first job out of graduate school was at the National Audubon Society in New York City. After 3 years there, I decided to take a leap of faith and start a career as a yoga instructor and coach. There hadn’t been a boom in the yoga and coaching professions yet, but I had just completed a yoga teacher training program, and something inside me was telling me to make the change even though I felt scared and unsure. 9/11 had just happened, and that gave me a stark clarity and bravery that perhaps we don’t have at other times.
Coincidentally, the same month I left my job at Audubon, my mother had sent me a box of my old childhood memorabilia. As I rifled through it, I found an old letter from my camp counselor to my mother written in the 80s that said, “Amy just loves her yoga class. She comes back to the cabin and teaches all she learns to her cabinmates. She’s a natural.” I was only 9 years old at the time! I had actually forgotten about that early childhood exposure to yoga, but after reading that letter, I never questioned my decision again and haven’t looked back since.
Can you share the most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your career?
A definite stand out story for me is when I met my now dear friend Busayo Obisakin from Nigeria. I was part of a volunteering initiative with a wonderful organization, World Pulse. They were running a program to help women around the world learn to become citizen journalists, and I was paired with Busayo to act as her coach during the program.
We met over Skype once a week for several months. Though the internet connection was sometimes full of static, there was no denying Busayo’s fortitude and focus. Her involvement and ultimate success in the program won her a trip to the United States. So, a few short months later, I found myself hosting Busayo in my Manhattan apartment in the dead of winter!
Nearly nine years later, Busayo and I are still close friends and allies, and she’s gone from being a newbie citizen blogger to a veritable leader and change agent in her country and beyond. You never know where this work will take you or the incredible people you’ll meet along the way.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
As part of my job, I occasionally lead yoga and empowerment retreats. As a newbie retreat leader, I wanted to impress my students by saying just the “right” words to capture the essence of the moment after a long day of group silence. So, there I was under the palm trees in this most idyllic setting of Costa Rica pondering how I could sound important and wise.
Well, I guess the howler monkeys above sensed my ego kicking into full gear, because right after I crafted that “perfect” sentence, a monkey very purposefully chucked a half-eaten mango right at my head! The silence was indeed broken — with joyous group laughter!
I got an important reminder that day — being in the position of a coach or teacher is not about looking good or sounding good. It’s always about being of service to others. Now, when I get too serious or my ego flares up, I just remember my little primate friend.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
I am thrilled to be offering the next round of my empowerment coach certification program through the Brilliance Academy for Personal Transformation and Social Changestarting this July. I created the Academy to support others in finding ways we can leverage personal evolution for the advancement of the collective. In fact, I use my book Brilliance as the main curriculum piece.
Though right now the program focuses on training people to be coaches in a one-on-one capacity, I’m really excited to be in the development phases of another curriculum track that address how to design and facilitate empowerment experiences in communities and organizations as well.
What is the one habit you believe contributed the most to you becoming a great writer?
My perseverance has been crucial in my journey as an author. One of my favorite mottoes is “the longer the runway the bigger the take-off.” Remembering this long-view helps me stay patient and focused on those days where I feel like things are going nowhere or life is throwing curve balls my way.
For example, midway through writing my book, my husband was in a serious motorcycle accident that left him laid up in bed for months, needing a lot of extra care from me. We also have a rambunctious toddler at home who was experiencing her own health challenges. Between that, my regular work, and writing the book, it felt like there wasn’t a moment of my time that could be wasted. Having to apply the principles in my book real time as I wrote it made the whole experience that much richer for me.
Can you share the most interesting story that you shared in your book?
It was December 31, 2009, and there was a special blue moon lunar eclipse happening that night. I had just moved to LA from NYC six months earlier after experiencing major career burnout in the Big Apple.
I did my evening meditation on the beach with the sunset as usual, but when I got up to leave, I saw the biggest, most beautiful full moon I had ever seen in my life. It was so breathtaking, it literally brought me to my knees. I was so moved in fact that I spontaneously started saying vows to the moon. To this day, I don’t know what came over me.
Somehow, the moon had become an external representation of all the parts of myself that I had abandoned and treated poorly, and I knew I needed to proclaim to her, to myself, that I would never do that again. I vowed that I would always treat myself with love, respect, and compassion, no matter what.
When I left the beach that night, there was no turning back. I had just had a commitment ceremony with myself! I affectionately refer to this now as the day I married the moon.
What is the main empowering lesson you want your readers to take away after finishing your book?
Choose to align yourself with that part of you that senses something extraordinary is possible for you, because that part of you is right. Your brilliance is innate, not something you have to cultivate from outside of yourself. BUT, you have to choose to live from that place, even when it doesn’t feel convenient or easy. You have to be willing to align your actions with your deeper truth even when that requires you to step out of your comfort zone and explore new edges of your vulnerability. That’s where the magic happens.
What was the biggest challenge you faced in your journey to becoming a bestselling author? How did you overcome it?
The biggest on-going challenge for me in my journey of becoming an author was keeping my inner perfectionist in check. I reminded myself that I was writing this book to help people step into their authenticity, and that the best gift I could give to them was to actually do that myself as I wrote the book.
Embracing my authenticity, including my imperfections, meant I had to ask for a lot of help to complete this project. I had to adjust the expectations I placed on my own time and energy. I had to forgive myself for all the ways I wasn’t “doing it right.” It helped me to think about the kind of example I wanted to set for my daughter. I want her to see that you can pursue your dreams, even the big ones, and you can do it in a way where you are still kind and loving towards yourself. You don’t have to run yourself ragged. Nothing is worth that kind of self-abandonment.
Which literature do you draw inspiration from? Why?
I love to read books and pull my inspiration from a lot of fantastic authors and teachers. Two of my favorites are:
· Andrew Harvey–I am huge fan of the way he teaches us how to fuse deep spiritual knowledge with wise radical action in the world. He has greatly influenced my definition of what it means to be a leader of brilliance.
· Anodea Judith–Her work in the yoga tradition was instrumental in helping me experience my spiritual self in an embodied way. I’ve also learned a lot from her about how to discuss ancient wisdom in a way that makes sense to the modern mind.
How do you think your writing makes an impact in the world?
My hope is that my writing makes the readers feel less alone. When you are going through tough times or are just trying to figure out how to start living the life you really want to, it’s easy to feel like everyone else has it together and you don’t. But the truth is, we are all on the path together, and no one has it all figured out!
I also hope that after reading my book, people will realize there is nothing naïve about believing in your capacity for brilliance. In fact, it’s entirely strategic, especially in a world where it’s so easy to be seduced by other’s or your own negativity.
What advice would you give to someone considering becoming an author like you?
Put a good team of people around you that understand your mission and want to support you and it. There’s no way I would have gotten through this project without the support of my beloved husband Glenn and my amazing publishing partner, Lifetree Media. Writing a book as a new mom, I often thought of that phrase, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Well, in my opinion, it also takes a village to write a book!
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why.
1. Writing the first draft of the manuscript is the easy part. I naively thought that after the first draft, it would just be some tweaking and proof-reading of the text. It turns out that a lot of strategic re-writes happened after draft one that required me to dig deep and get really clear on the message.
2.Don’t neglect your body. When writing a book, it’s easy to forget about all else and find yourself glued to a computer screen for hours on end. Not a good idea! Taking care of your body is crucial anyways, but when you are taking on a big creative endeavor such as writing a book, you have to think of your body as your ally and treat it with respect and love.
3. It will be lonely sometimes. In many ways, I was in a long-term relationship with this book, and no one else really knew what that relationship was like. It required a lot of my emotional energy to stay present to the book’s evolution, and at times, that was a very lonely experience, but one I am so grateful to have had.
4. It will feel really vulnerable to write a book. Do it anyway. If I moved forward with this project based only on my comfort level, then quite frankly, this book would never have been written. I don’t think I realized how vulnerable it would feel at times, but I’m sure glad I stuck with it. My own personal growth process has deeply benefited from this whole experience.
5. You’ll never feel fully ready to pull the trigger and say the book is done. One of my editors, Sarah, offered some wise words to me. She said eventually, the book becomes its own entity. This really helped me to think of the book as its own being. I may have midwifed it into the world, with the help of many others, but now it’s time to let it go, and it will have a life of its own.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
I would start a movement that focused on advancing the education of girls around the world. Research shows that educating girls has a multiplier effect, meaning better-educated women tend to take what they’ve learned and use it to improve their families and communities. Women can be the ultimate amplifiers of brilliance in this way.
There are already a lot of amazing organizations out there fostering this movement, and I suppose the best way I could support this movement further is by encouraging the “education of girls” to mean more than just education in the traditional schooling sense. I’d like to expand that definition to include educating young women about their interior life and self-care potential as well. How powerful that would be to have young girls learning how to be their own biggest advocate in a world that so often does not advocate for them.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Linked In: www.linkedin.com/in/amy-lombardo-a2a556
Thank you so much for these great insights!