I had the pleasure of interviewing Maria Dowd, who is a dynamic motivational speaker and impassioned activist for women’s empowerment, Maria taps into her own personal missteps and wake-up calls to inspire women to be more courageous, wise, and enterprising—to design an amazing life built upon uncompromising values, enduring passions, their true genius and expertise, and with crystal clear visions of what they want and deserve.
Eager to share with other women that are possibly going through—or healing from—similar experiences, Maria posted a snapshot of her map on social media and received overwhelming responses. This was her cue to launch the My Amazing LYFE Map Course, an interactive holistic life planning system that includes coursework, personality assessments, action partnering, community support, vision boarding, and more to help women (and men!) powerfully navigate and activate transformative life goals. Participants are challenged to create a soul-stirring, whole-life blueprint with action steps that promote greater inner peace, physical well-being, prosperity, more harmonious personal and professional relationships, and uncompromising optimism and happiness. To help women adopt daily best practices to exponentially elevate their quality of life, Maria hosts a private Facebook Group called LYFE Lifts: Your Healthy Habits Haven when women and men share and garner healthy lifestyle tips.
Maria’s My Amazing LYFE brand of empowerment programs experientially and holistically deliver this promise, along with a community of highly engaged mentors and action partners to ensure the activation of its participants’ dreams and aspirations.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? How did you get to be where you are right now?
Maria discovered her vocation in the 1990s, with the founding and production of African American Women on Tour (AAWOT), an empowerment conference she toured with for 13 years. AAWOT profoundly touched the lives of over 29,000 women worldwide by embracing, fueling, and celebrating their strengths, endurance, and brilliance.
Maria later became a successful network marketing consultant, representing a line of botanical body care products. She trained and mentored a team of over 1,100 consultants committed to uplifting their economic well-being and sharpening their leadership skills while promoting self-care and healthy living.
Maria has authored three inspirational books: Journey to Empowerment, Journey into my Brother’s Soul, and Journey to a Blissful Life, which was featured in Essence magazine as one of the best books on personal renewal. Maria is also a contributing author of Delayed But Not Denied Books II and III.
Her life took a dramatic turn after a divorce in 2012, which served as a “lightbulb” moment, for Maria, like so many women, had fallen into the trappings of financial and toxic emotional co-dependency. Determined to never find herself in such a vulnerable position again, Maria created a holistic life map to help her through the journey of expanded self-awareness, course corrections, and remarkable levels of clarity and traction.
Are you an introvert or an extrovert? How did this quality help you overcome obstacles on the path of becoming an influential and inspiring leader?
Maria consistently falls halfway between introvert and extrovert, which has helped her to garner an audience that connects with both her introspective and her “edgy” persona who’s not bashful about interjecting a profane word or two to drive her message home…and into the minds and heart of people seeking to transform their lives, and connected to a community that identifies and has the capacity to authentically empathize with their life’s experiences, hopes and dreams.
What does it mean to be mentally-strong in the hyper-competitive world of running a business or an organization?
As a woman of color, to be mentally-strong means to be attuned to the subtleties of sexism, biases, insensitivities and racism, even with others aren’t aware or evolved enough to notice when they are in play, and becoming really good at finessing them situationally. It’s a tough game to play, for sure…in not only in a hypercompetitive world, but also in a world that interprets our words, our actions, our body language and even our mere presence in a room according to a different set of standards and rules of engagement.
A lot of people in the business would feel as if talking about mental health makes them appear weak. How do you feel about showing mental strength and setting an example of what it takes to have strong mental stamina to succeed?
I believe those who show the most mental strength are those who practice talking and walking through mental challenges with calm and great wisdom, who have developed relationships with “insider” mentors and sponsors who have walked the walk, or who at least earnestly try to empathize.
But, it also requires having outsides circles of trusted comrades you can be completely transparent and authentic with. Being able to vent, cry and laugh at often times downright outrageousness is helpful. And, finally, there is self-care – those things we do and practice to brings us into states of calm, enlightenment and contentment…in matter what they may be facing come Monday morning.
Is there a particular person, a book, or place of wisdom that has inspired you to become a successful and mentally-strong leader?
Maria’s mental strength comes from a great blend of family nurturing and influence, various teachings, from learning that it’s safe and incredibly healing to be transparent, and from the many mentally strong women she’s been surrounded with throughout her entrepreneurial and personal transformational journeys.
Can you give us 5 tips on maintaining strong mental health stamina to succeed in the modern business world? Tell us a little about why each point matters.
Can an imbalance in private life cause a mentally-strong leader to deviate away from the path of success? Why? How to alleviate this problem?
Yes, it can. The stress and strain could be financially based, there might be some sort of abuse or harassment being experiences, a critical or chronical illness being dealt with or a child is a crisis situation…but this is the case with anyone; and here’s where compassionate leadership is important…but a critical missing quality of far too many work environments. It’s changed in a lot of ways, but also more of the same. Family leave, mental health breaks, flexible work opportunities and other really simple, yet high impact actions can be taken – but people have to rally – even fight – for them. And, leadership has to do it’s own education to understand the value and “greater good” ROI.
If the readers of this interview series would like to read more about you, how can they reach out?