Resilience is essential for success and trust is essential for resilience. Trust in something greater than you and trust in yourself. Trust that if you get clear on who you are and what you want, live with purpose, and take inspired action that everything will fall into place. This unwavering trust with give you the resilience you need to keep pushing forward, even when things get tough. To fully thrive and be successful we have to embrace failure and see it as a learning lesson and stepping stone. Resilience and trust help us to do this.
How does a successful, strong, and powerful woman navigate work, employee relationships, love, and life in a world that still feels uncomfortable with strong women? In this interview series, called “Power Women” we are talking to accomplished women leaders who share their stories and experiences navigating work, love and life as a powerful woman.
As a part of this series I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Kelly Collins.
Kelly Collins is the “go-to” Spiritual Coach for women who are burnt out, uninspired in their career or relationships, and feel disconnected from their true self. Kelly supports clients through a holistic life audit and provides actionable spiritual tools all while using her celebrated methodology Soul Spark ™ . Within a month, clients have stronger relationships, feel more fulfilled in work, have a greater sense of self trust, and report feeling a “special spark” which is why Kelly’s signature coaching has captured the attention of 3.5 million readers on her blog, Paleohacks.com, and her highly regarded podcast Soul Spark with Kelly Collins.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood “backstory”?
I grew up in Southern California with my mom who was an elementary school teacher, my dad who was a commodities broker, and my younger brother. I like to say that my career really began when I was a child because I had huge passion for moving my body and organizing and leading groups of my friends (like with my Winnie The Pooh club), haha. I dabbled in just about every sport but soccer, gymnastics, and cheerleading were what stuck. By the time I was working towards my Bachelor’s in Kinesiology at San Diego State University, I was ready to make my loves of movement, health, and leading people into a career. At the age of 18, I began working with my first personal training clients and teaching group fitness classes and the rest is history!
Can you tell us the story about what led you to this particular career path?
Despite having a successful career in the fitness industry where I helped people become healthy and strong, for 10 years I struggled with a negative body image, unhealthy perfectionist mindset, disordered eating, and identifying a true sense of self. In short, I was very lost, tired, and didn’t feel like myself. It was not until I went on my own extensive spiritual journey — practicing, learning, and teaching yogic philosophy, absorbing thousands of hours of retreats, workshops, books, and podcasts, and partaking in a deep-dive in self-study that I was able to strengthen my self trust and worth and rewire my brain. This massive spiritual shift inspired me to continue my education, share what I have learned, and build my unique coaching method which incorporates yogic philosophy, mindfulness, neuroscience, and actionable steps.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
I’ve a had a few different transitions throughout my career that, while they felt very challenging at the time, I now look back on fondly because I see how important each step has been. The biggest transition was when I first pivoted from fitness to teaching yoga. This was a huge time of transition professionally and personally. In fact, this was the moment that my deepest healing began and I began to really step into my role as a teacher and healer for others. I find this interesting because it just goes to show that when we do work to heal our beliefs about ourselves, the world, and what’s possible for us, we can then really step into our personal power and the role we are meant to play in the world. 10 years ago, I never wouldn’t imagined that I would become a spiritual teacher. Without that uncomfortable transition 7 years ago, I wouldn’t be where I am today. This is it is important as a powerful woman to get comfortable with discomfort and follow the path of what lights you up even when it doesn’t make sense!
You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
1. Authenticity — Authenticity is everything. When you are an authentic leader you use your voice and speak your truth. If you aren’t doing this, people can sense it. They can sense when you are not passionate about what you are doing, when you’re not in your power, and when you are masking your insecurity with being overly assertive. Authenticity breeds respect and true, long lasting leadership.
2. Approachability — I have found approachability to be an essential part of the success of my business. Being approachable and relatable builds rapport. People want to know that you are human. They need to be inspired by and trust the person they are investing their time, money, and energy into. When you are authentic, warm, open, and share parts of yourself with your employees and clients, it opens up the world of possibility for them and inspires them to be a part of what you are creating and strive for more.
3. Consistency — We live in a world where social media can make it seem like other peoples’ businesses blew up overnight. While this does happen, most people spend years building their brands and businesses before they make it big. This is something I’ve had to remind myself of over the years. Consistency is key to success. You have to continue to show up, even when you don’t necessarily “feel” like it. Being passionate about what you do and keeping the big picture in mind is an important part of this. On those days where you’re tired or upset because something hasn’t gone your way, take a breath, take a walk, and remember why you started doing what you do. Then, get back to it!
Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. The premise of this series assumes that our society still feels uncomfortable with strong women. Why do you think this is so?
I think that the idea of a strong woman can be confusing to both men and women. What has been lost to some is the understanding of what a strong woman is. To me as a spiritual teacher, a strong woman is one who embodies divine feminine energy. Divine feminine energy is strong yet soft, intuitive, adaptable, and speaks her true with confidence, clarity, and compassion. A strong woman is warm, supportive of other women, and recognizes that she is a powerful creator of her reality so she walks through life with an energy of abundance, love, and appreciation.
I think much of our world expects that a strong woman to show up with masculine energy in order to be successful. The divine feminine energy is BIG energy, so when a woman shows up with it, it is very intimidating for those who are still in that outdated mindset.
Without saying any names, can you share a story from your own experience that illustrates this idea?
I have countless stories of women, including my own, that have struggled to show up with this strong divine feminine energy in the workplace because of the way that society has conditioned us. Since we were little girls, society has told us that we need to “hustle” and “rise and grind” to be successful. This is a very masculine approach to being a “strong” woman. We’ve been taught that we should be functioning at 100% 365 days a year, despite the fact that our menstrual cycle functions in such a way that we go into four different seasons (phases of energy) every single month.
A great story that shows the power of embracing your feminine energy comes from one of my clients. This client had just sold her very male-dominated business and was feeling completely depleted mentally, energetically, and spiritually. She was taking some time to rejuvenate, reconnect with herself, and get clear on the job that she wanted to call in next. After 3 months of working together and reconnecting to her feminine energy, she felt rejuvenated, clear, and ready to get back out there. I had her write a list of all she wanted in a job, not a specific company or job-description, but rather the lifestyle the job would provide, the energy and ethics of the company, and the salary that she desired. Within one month of writing this list she got the exact job she wrote down, the salary, lifestyle, and all!
What should a powerful woman do in a context where she feels that people are uneasy around her?
Speak her truth with confidence, clarity, and compassion. Dis-ease from others comes from misunderstandings and outdated belief systems. Going back to the client that I mentioned above, she owned her business with a few male partners who felt the need to try and dominate her and the company. This is an example of an outdated belief system that men/masculine energy should rule the boardroom. While we as a society understand that that is not true on a logical level, this belief is still engrained in many peoples’ subconscious minds.
In a situation like that, it is essential to stand in your power and speak your truth confidently, clearly, and with compassion (since you realize they are simply stuck in the past). Use your voice to set boundaries when needed, to be warm and encouraging when needed, and to be authentic and open as need. Regardless of how someone’s dis-ease is showing up (as condescending or intimidated), it all comes back to the same issue — that they are intimidated by the woman’s power.
What do we need to do as a society to change the unease around powerful women?
Keep our minds open, rewire old outdated beliefs about women, and raise new generations to understand and embrace female power!
In my own experience, I have observed that often women have to endure ridiculous or uncomfortable situations to achieve success that men don’t have to endure. Do you have a story like this from your own experience? Can you share it with us?
I quit my last fitness job to start my own business by the age of 23. In part, it was because I was sick of the unfair conditions at the facility I worked at. It was a boys club and women were very outnumbered by men. At this job I was personal trainer and we had sales goals to hit every month. After a few months into the job I sold 10,000 dollars in one month and this was a huge deal because female trainers never made those kinds of sales there. What I continued to realized was that it was because the sales were mostly funneled to the male trainers and in order to get sales funneled to me I had to become one of the boys. Prior to that job, at the age of 19/20, I found myself in a job with as an assistant to a man who talked very inappropriately and even grabbed my butt a few times. Looking back it is infuriating and I wish I had had the courage to speak up for myself. At that time, I sadly didn’t even know if it was really bad or if I was just a “prude” which is everything that is wrong with the toxic masculinity in our society. Now, 15 years later, I am grateful that our society has opened it’s eyes to this disgusting behavior and that women are able to speak out against men like that.
In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by women leaders that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?
I would say the biggest challenges are that 1)Women are expected to be more gentle. When a women is clear, firm, and direct others can be taken by surprise and not receive it well or take them seriously 2)The struggle to balance playing a feminine role at home while showing up as a powerful leader. Shifting from one mode to the next is draining but there is a pressure put on women through social media and society that we need to be perfect, attentive mothers and wives but also be a badass in the boardroom. Not all women are meant to play both roles and certainly no women can play both roles evenly and perfectly.
Let’s now shift our discussion to a slightly different direction. This is a question that nearly everyone with a job has to contend with. Was it difficult to fit your personal and family life into your business and career? For the benefit of our readers, can you articulate precisely what the struggle was?
Absolutely. Running your own business never ends. My partner of 7 years is also an entrepreneur so for both of us, the work never ends. If we aren’t intentional about spending quality time together it just doesn’t happen. I also struggle with wanting to play a more feminine role at home but finding the time is hard. I love to cook and take care of our home, plus we have 3 fur-babies that need love and attention. This all takes away from time I can be growing my business so I’ve just found it to be super important to be efficient and intentional with my time so that I can do both.
What was a tipping point that helped you achieve a greater balance or greater equilibrium between your work life and personal life? What did you do to reach this equilibrium?
Embracing my feminine energy and scheduling my work based on my menstrual cycle! Every month I sit down with my Flo app and work calendar and schedule the month ahead according to my cycle. During my menstrual phase (our winter) I schedule more downtown and reflective work like analytics and looking at what is and isn’t working in the business. During the 10 days after my period (our spring) I schedule things that require brainstorming, planning, and creativity. During the next week which is our ovulation phase (summer), I schedule things that require me to be social, network, and speak. In the 10 days after that (our fall) I make sure that I wrap up and big projects and let things slow down a little bit again.
I work in the beauty tech industry, so I am very interested to hear your philosophy or perspective about beauty. In your role as a powerful woman and leader, how much of an emphasis do you place on your appearance? Do you see beauty as something that is superficial, or is it something that has inherent value for a leader in a public context? Can you explain what you mean?
I know it sounds cliché but I really do believe that beauty shines from the inside out. If we are taking care of our minds, bodies, and energy, we will glow. On a more material level, I do think that the way we present ourselves is important. How we dress, whether or not we wear make up, how we style our hair, should reflect our personality and be authentic to us. When we show up in a way that is true to ourselves we feel empowered, and that powerful energy is what dictates our success as a leader.
How is this similar or different for men?
I think it’s similar. Confidence and powerful energy breeds success.
Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your opinion and experience, what are the “Five Things You Need To Thrive and Succeed as a Powerful Woman?” (Please share a story or example for each.)
- Self-care — This is something I really drive home with my clients. Carving out time for yourself every single morning and in little pockets throughout the week or month are essential. A morning routine with meditation, reflection, and movement helps you start your day from a place of calm, clarity, and purpose. You have to fill up your own cup before you can fully give to others. I’ve seen this simple practice completely change people’s lives, my own included!
- Clarity — If you aren’t clear on what you are wanting or doing, you are going to end up with a life that is unfulfilling. This is why it’s so important to take time daily and monthly to sit, connect with yourself, and write down what you actually want to see in your life (not what you’ve been told that you should want). Get honest with yourself, begin to create from there, and watch how far you go!
- Purpose — Moving through life with purpose if everything. When you understand the purpose of what you are doing and see the bigger picture it helps you to move through the ups and downs of being a powerful woman with more grace, ease, and perspective.
- Inspired Action — A huge part of being successful is taking intentional action. Do not wait for things to be perfectly in place to start. Write down actionable steps and just go for it!
- Resilience/Trust — Resilience is essential for success and trust is essential for resilience. Trust in something greater than you and trust in yourself. Trust that if you get clear on who you are and what you want, live with purpose, and take inspired action that everything will fall into place. This unwavering trust with give you the resilience you need to keep pushing forward, even when things get tough. To fully thrive and be successful we have to embrace failure and see it as a learning lesson and stepping stone. Resilience and trust help us to do this.
We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.
Oprah Winfrey! As we all know, Oprah is a powerful business woman in many different ways but what I truly love about her is how she has used her influence to help people help themselves and has brought spirituality to the mainstream.
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.