Energizing Your Dream

What Will Change in You When You Make the Choice You Really Want?

I remember using the pros and cons method for choosing the college I went to. That gave me the understanding that I preferred a large, coed university with an international program. What it didn't do was help me understand how a college education could help me learn how to develop authentically as a person, and in that way, help me find a career path that genuinely interested me. 

That's where coaching could have been very useful in offering me different ways to make new, aware choices for learning, expanding my skills, and becoming the person I really am. The choice-making options that coaching offers include what Joshua Rothman  in "The Art of Decision-Making" describes as—

  • Maximizing values— understanding what's really important to you— and making choices based on those values

  • Diverse perspectives— seeing your situation from different angles— helping you see aspects you hadn't thought of in making a new decision

  • Old self into new self— when a choice point requires that you open into a completely new way of engaging with your life

  • Aspiring to new values— aspiring to a new direction that interests you, but you don't know why or whether it could be right for you

The following example shows how using values and perspectives helped lead a client of mine from aspiring to a new way of working to shifting into a new self— that is, opening into a completely new way of engaging with his desired work and his whole life.

Matt, a corporate manager in his early forties, turned to coaching because he felt stultified in his career. He aspired to creating his own business, but wasn't sure that he was the type who could do well working for himself. When he came for coaching, he first wrote out a list of his values, which included— family, financial freedom, environment, and living authentically. Then we did the coaching exercise, “Perspectives,” which helps people explore different choices or options by encouraging them to push the boundaries of what they feel is possible.

With Matt, I used “Perspectives” to explore his attitude towards “working outside the box.” The perspectives he chose to explore included “Critic” and “Dolphin.” As I guided him through each perspective, I encouraged him to stand in different places, close his eyes, breathe, feel the sensations in his body, and visualize his internal energy level, “environment,” and attraction to that perspective.

He felt the fear in his contracted body sensations of the "Critic" as he thought about working outside the familiar corporate container. The “Critic” reminded Matt that it would not be easy to have the same level of financial ease and daily structure outside the corporate environment. Matt felt a deep weight inside his chest, as if his heart were closing down.

Ultimately, however, Matt chose the the “Dolphin” perspective to help him find a way to work “outside the box.” He realized that his new “Dolphin” attitude gave him energy for taking action on his dream. It also supported the purposefulness of his commitment to his family and the environment. It felt good, both physically and emotionally — excellent intuitive reasons for going with his new choice!

Matt then learned about the steps he needed to take to start his own consulting business with pro-environment action groups, and began doing this kind of work on a part-time basis. As he stepped into his chosen way of working, he said he felt as if "a huge weight had released from his chest" and he was "coming back" to who he really was.

Synchronistically, the company he worked for was downsizing, and offered Matt the option of leaving his corporate position with a sizable severance pay. Because he was now emotionally and financially prepared to leave, Matt's career transition became a deeper, transformational change. He left a career whose purpose was defined by others— and became a person who worked and lived out his own, immeasurably more satisfying purpose,

What Makes Taking a BIG RISK for Change Worthwhile?

Making a change that will radically shift your life involves taking a risk that is a definite challenge to what is known and familiar to you. Such challenges can be external, involving changing professions, investing capital to create change, or moving to a different place. But at a transformational level, taking a BIG RISK involves changing from within yourself, too. What is a BIG RISK to one person will not necessarily be the same BIG RISK to someone else with a different personality, skills, and life experience.

The bigger the challenge is to a person, the bigger the risk will seem. My client Jessica was a parent considering whether to publish a book she'd written about a controversial subject she was passionate about— bullying in public schools. Her son had been bullied when he was younger, and this had seriously impacted his sense of well-being.

But for her, even thinking about publishing this book was like being in a nightmare of having to solo pilot and land a small plane in dangerous terrain without total confidence in her equipment or or her ability to fly. 

Jessica came for coaching because she felt stuck, almost paralyzed, with fear. She'd written her book, but was afraid to publish it because of possible harmful consequences to her and her family. So I started by having her define what the value was to her in taking on such a huge challenge. While privacy for herself and her family was important to her, with her son in college, she felt a renewed inner drive to publish and voice her concerns about bullying at school.

Coaching gave Jessica a safe, supportive place to talk freely about the meaning to her of putting her book out in public. In this way, I heard her compassion and empathy for those children who were bullied and whose lives at school became a horror. She began to feel compassion for herself in her struggles with her fear of creating this genuine transformative change. She also felt more supported and grounded in planning for a big leap forward.

It's important to remember that taking a BIG RISK to make a change that matters vitally to you is not about the absence of fear. It's about becoming aware that fear indicates the presence of a new and larger possibility in your life. One way to do this is by acknowledging what success really means to you. Taking on the challenge of making a change that emotionally engages you is what makes taking the risk worthwhile.

Jessica now saw the risk she was taking as "My BIG Adventure!" What will be your reward? I asked her. She replied, "The adventure itself, learning to fly freely by motivating others to stop bullies in schools!"

Next, Jessica planned smaller action steps she could take to accomplish her mission. Using the metaphor of trying to land a small plane safely in dangerous, unknown territory, she saw that she could prepare by having her equipment (her book) carefully inspected before flight time (by her editor and her friends reading over her manuscript). She could be trained in making emergency landings (learning how she could handle criticism of herself and her book); and very importantly, learn to not to be hijacked by fear. 

She recognized how vital it was to have understanding friends and professional/ emotional support people to help her through any challenges that would arise after her book's publication.

She checked out the terrain of who she wanted to read her book, and made a list of her allies in getting the book out with positive reviews from teachers, other educators, and parents she knew. She had in-person and online talks with these people and began to get contacts for interviews on the radio, newspapers, education journals, and online sources. Jessica felt excited, and increasingly confident of her vision to change public school culture by creating zero-tolerance for bullying.

At a deeper level, Jessica found her inner well of inspiration to create something bigger than herself of true value in the world— making a beneficial contribution to young, vulnerable people. In transforming her fear of taking her BIG RISK to go forward with her book publication, Jessica felt empowered to meet the challenge of getting to where she really wanted to go! 

"You shifted perspectives . . . You allowed your heart to open. You let the bird out of the cage. You are flying!"  — Pamela Hale, Flying Lessons

Defining Heart-Centered Success in Your Own Terms for Your Work and Your Whole Life


What does it mean to define heart-centered success in your own terms with work and your whole life?  You don't necessarily need to become famous or rich.  Most importantly, you don't need to give up anything that's really important to you.  Clarifying what heart-centered success means to you is about getting to know who you really are and what really motivates you NOW.  The drive to find work and a way of life that deeply satisfies the needs of a person's spirit can be so powerful that it blows right through old messages from teachers, parents, peers, and the media that say, "you can't" or ''that's not what you're trained to do" or "you won't be able to make a living at that."

If you’re feeling burned out or limited at work, it’s likely you’re seeing your professional future and the picture of your life based only on your past and present experience, training, education, or family expectations.  As Barbara Sher in her book on strategic change-making, Wishcraft, asks:  “Were you given real help and encouragement in finding out what you wanted to do-- and how to do it?”  

If not-- and most people I’ve worked with have not been-- then your first step is:  

Begin to envision an authentic career and life as an integrated process based on what motivates and inspires you in the present moment! 

If you're reading this post, you may be exploring what it means to feel successful

in your career or the quality of your life as a whole— with relationships, creativity,

fitness, travel, spirituality, and whatever else is important to you.  Perhaps there's something intangible that you long for to bring a glow to all parts of your life.  This is what I call the "heart-centered" quality of success.  Your can feel it as energy, vitality, and passion.  Essentially, it's about understanding what it is that calls you.

As I wrote in my book, Success with Soul, "Vitality is our energy and passion to live fully, to discover our purpose, to awaken to the gifts we have to offer and not just get by— on the job, in our relationships with others, in every activity we undertake."

When I coach people, that's where we're going— towards where their energy

vibrates at a high level and towards where they are genuinely attracted.  At this energetic level, you're able to connect with what is most meaningful to you— and to your capacity to let this open and flourish.

Nicole, is a coach in her mid-50s with a strong business background, hardworking and creative.  She began coaching with me because she felt stuck professionally.  She believed that to go forward, she needed to create a bigger business involving associates, trainings, and informational products.  Each time she took a step in that direction, however, she could feel herself losing energy and interest.

Her dream was to go back to living in the country on a good-sized piece of land, but she insisted that she needed to make more money before she could afford to do this.  However, she was clearly longing to take action in a new way.  

So I asked her if she’d be willing to look at whatever she enjoyed doing, then brainstorm ideas for career directions for each possibility.  Soon it became clear that everything she loved doing was in the outdoors.  With “Hiking,” she considered becoming a professional photographer.  “Kayaking” led her to the prospect of offering kayaking tours.

But when she offered “Chickens” as what she loved, then I really heard the passion in her voice, while she felt the upsurge in her energy!  From this place of aliveness, she envisioned starting her own chicken farm of free-range chickens, finding someone with land with whom to partner (thus reducing her need for instant capital).  

In fact, she was passionate about wanting to rid the world of chicken factory farms that torture these animals to force them to produce.  By educating people about the humane advantages of backyard chicken farms, she also saw she could have more opportunities to be outdoors helping people make this happen. 

She even stretched her vision to consulting with Hollywood film professionals about setting up “boutique farms” in their spacious backyards.  With her passion, knowledge, business and coaching skills, she saw clearly how she could help them design and operate aesthetic, flourishing, self-sustaining chicken environments.

Most importantly, Nicole felt supported in embracing a new work and life direction that made her feel alive and ready to work at achieving her dream. 

So if feeling heart-centered success in your work and your whole life sounds like the direction you'd like to take, ask yourself—

What is heart-centered success to me?

How do I want to contribute from my heart?

What support do I need to lift my energy to a higher level to find purpose and aliveness in my work and my life?

Change-Making As Pilgrimage— Finding Your Inner Path of Fulfillment

An integral part of the coaching journey is the experience of finding our own paths to what is deeply fulfilling within ourselves. Often we base our desire or need for change on what seems permissible or possible. We base our choices on what we've already accomplished, rarely on the inner voice of our dreams or longings.

Making changes like this seems to take less time— just a jump from here to there. But conscious change is more of a pilgrimage than a commute ride. Conscious change-making is giving ourselves permission to explore and make tangible what our hearts long for. In this way, our actions are powerfully fueled by the tailwind of our full energy.   When we give ourselves permission, that energy from deep within ourselves is what moves us forward most effectively toward what we desire.

Creating change, therefore, can be experienced as a journey for which you consciously prepare. It's based on your desire to open yourself to new explorations that call to something deep inside— a dream from childhood, a quest for adventure, or a confirmation of an unrealized, even unacknowledged, potential within yourself.

In his book, The Art of Pilgrimage, Phil Cousineau writes that planning a pilgrimage is about "embarking on any journey with a deep purpose," even if you "are unsure of how to prepare for it. The art of pilgrimage," he suggests, "is the skill of personally creating your own journey, and the daily practice of slowing down and lingering, savoring, and absorbing each of its stages."

So your desire to create change can be a time in which to find meaning and relevance on the path to change itself. Indeed, accepting this new phase in your life as a pilgrimage--a journey with intention, awareness, and spirit-- allows the pathway itself to become an vital part of the whole of the change you seek to create.

One of my clients discovered this as she planned a career change from her earlier work as a professor in a British university. While she was taking her first steps in this direction, she required an operation that kept her mostly house bound for almost a year. She decided not to get stressed about her inability to give public outreach presentations that were the basis of her health education program. Instead, she planned as part of her coaching to strengthen the spiritual underpinning of her life and work through reading, journaling, meditation, and self-care.

She slowed down, savored more depth in her relationships, dealt with old fears, and appreciated the gifts of healing and spiritual connection. From this inner pilgrimage, she emerged re-energized and decided to pursue a long-held dream— to study dancing the tango in Argentina. During this trip, she met a former colleague who invited her to give a paper at a conference in Brazil. Later, he asked if she would offer a class on the same topic, which included a description of her health education project as a solution to a particular societal need.

So her pilgrimage led her deep inside herself, and later, brought her back to where she'd started with health education.  However, she now had more clarity and confidence about her new professional direction, and a more joyful, expansive outlook about her life overall.

"This is . . . why the art of pilgrimage is the art of re-imagining how we walk, talk, listen, see, hear, write, and draw as we get ready for the journey of our soul's deep desire."
The Art of Pilgrimage

What is the pilgrimage you must take to create the change you most desire?

Authentic Livelihood— What If You Always Knew What You Loved to Do?

Like many people watching the Olympic competitions in Rio de Janeiro this past week, I found the U.S. women's gymnastic team absolutely riveting. Simone Biles, in particular, with her stellar back flips, aerial somersaults, and serene poise caught my attention. Then I became interested in her back story, which showed that she'd been interested in gymnastics from when she was a young child.

Barbara Sher in her book, Wishcraft-- How to Get What You Really Want, zeroed in on this point, that what we really want to do emerges in different guises with great clarity from when we're quite young. As she says, "You were very busy when you were two . . . You knew perfectly well what you loved and what you wanted. And you went after it, without the slightest hesitation or doubt . . . Those 'rare' and 'special' qualities we think distinguish geniuses from the rest of us? You had them. I had them. Where did they go? . . . Ask any famous woman or man, and you will probably find that they remember having a very clear sense of what they were meant to do at a very early age."

Finally, Sher asks, "What talents or abilities might those early interests and dreams point to?"

Back to Simone Biles' childhood upbringing. Since her birth mother struggled with drug addiction, Simone had no opportunities when she was very young to let her natural curiosity and aliveness have full scope. When she was adopted by her maternal grandparents at age five, however, they immediately noticed that she was "happy, but hyperactive, leaping off furniture" and "doing back flips off the family's mailbox before she even took a gymnastics class."

Fortunately for her, Biles' adopted parents and her coach, Aimee Boorman, supported her in following her passion and channeling it into gymnastics, which she loved since being introduced to it at age six. According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, "Boorman identified something in Biles that she knew she needed to nurture. She went with a low-key approach that's rare in this sport. That meant letting Biles simply have fun in the gym in her early years, rather than pushing her towards Olympic greatness and risk losing her entirely."

Essentially, Boorman gave Biles back her early childhood of exploring and enjoying running, flipping, and twisting in the air. Gradually, Boorman introduced Biles to new ways of focusing her energy and abilities that allowed her to become the top athlete that she is now without burning out her joy in being who she is doing what loves.

We know we're not all champion athletes, Nobel prize winners, or Mahatma Gandhis. However, what Sher calls your "genius" and others call "authentic self" is there right from your beginning, "like the genes in a seed that say it's going to become a . . . palm tree, or a rose."

So if you're feeling stuck, and not sure what your career or life path is or wants to become, ask yourself:

What did I love to do when I was a child? What gave me joy?

For example, I loved to create things where I got to put together bits of fabric, paint, egg shells, and found objects. So my first job was not selling lemonade, delivering newspapers, or babysitting. It was teaching other kids on the block how to make papier maché puppets and other arts and crafts objects that I was learning from my own art teacher. Even then I enjoyed what I evolved later for myself--- being my own boss, working in my own environment, and helping people enjoy learning to create something new and interesting in their lives.

Then ask yourself:

What is it that gave me joy and delight as a child that I'd like to bring into how I work and live my life now?

Did I love running? Did I love to sing? Did I like drawing pictures? Did I enjoy collecting rocks and shiny objects when I went out walking? Did I like riding horses? Did I enjoy helping people find lost keys or cats? Did I like to read or tell stories to my younger brother? Did I relax by watching clouds scudding by in the sky?

And then ask:

What held me back from doing this?

Was it a lack of support when you got into school? Or an assumption that only certain skills can guarantee you sufficient income? Or....?

And then:

What are the essential qualities of what I loved doing as a child that I'd like to bring into my work and whole life now?

These could include-- being able to move freely, feeling creative, exploring new things and places, being with animals, spending time outdoors, building things, teaching, having time to be meditative, and so on. Imagine how these essential qualities of what you loved doing when you were young could be part of what and how you work and live now.

And finally:

What is it I need to learn in order to integrate these essential qualities into a new career or way of living that I love now?

This might be developing particular career skills. Or it might be getting coaching support for a career or life transition. Or it might be meditation practice or yoga for inner balance and centering.

Remember the advice of coach Aimee Boorman--- trainer of Simone Biles, who just won four Olympic gold medals--- to the five U.S. women gymnasts in this 2016 Olympics: "Success is being happy and healthy. Compete from a place of joy!"

Creating Successful Change— Keeping the Spark Alive!

"What we think we want, what we think we strive for, is often not the goal at all— just what we hold on to in order to discover what is truly calling us.
— Mark Nepo, The One Life We're Given

Have you ever had an experience where a barrier or obstacle inside yourself suddenly fell away and the next direction in your life opened clearly to you? This invisible barrier can be a belief based on other people's opinions— an emotion long-held and frozen inside— or a goal that does not take into account changing conditions. As this barrier falls away, you can feel the spark of adventure and aliveness inside yourself that has guided you to this place through all obstacles.

In my work as a coach, I see this inner shift as the defining place clients reach who have gone through the chaotic middle zone of a transition, between an ending and a new beginning. This place of uncertainty and discomfort also can be a time of affirmation of what we love and the spark we carry within us that lights our way forward. This is a genuine foundation for career and other life changes that feel right for us because they're based on what is true for who we really are.

In my book, Success with Soul-- Loving Your Livelihood, Living in Balance, I describe such a transformational journey of a client, Julia, "a single woman in her mid-30’s, who was very discouraged after a move across country to a big city for the sake of a new career in restaurant management. Her initial focus in coaching was on whether to change careers, and if so, how. However, it soon became clear that she had a desire she’d never before consciously claimed-- the warmth of home with a partner committed to creating family together. She’d certainly never put 'home' into the equation of how she wanted work to look and feel like in her life."

As Julia and I explored the joylessness of her life at that time and the profound sense of disconnection her restaurant work gave her from her friends, family, and overall sense of purpose, one thing became very clear to her— the importance of home and family. She became aware of her inner barrier— that her career goal had to be a high-level management position in a cutting-edge restaurant— and recognized it as a serious obstacle to her happiness. With this new awareness, she stopped trying to create career success in this way and found her inner spark. She realized then that she loved cooking and wanted to work in a way that combined this with her strong desire to help others.

"Synchronistically, she reconnected with a former boyfriend who now wanted to be her mate and build a life together. Her glow of delight at this new evolution of her life was palpable-- as was her new career plan to teach cooking for health and nutrition….

As she stayed connected with the 'spark' in her spirit that wanted to come fully alight, she answered her own biggest question: 'How will following my heart allow me to evolve a way to live and work that fully embodies all that I am and most desire?'"

Recently, I attended a reading by Mark Nepo— a remarkable poet, storyteller, and author, akin to the mystic poet Rumi— from his most recent book, The One Life We're Given— Finding the Wisdom That Waits in Your Heart. I was riveted by the quiet eloquence and deeply centered presence of this man whose calling to share heart-centered wisdom through his writing and speaking was born of some very difficult experiences in his life.

After surviving almost fatal thoracic surgery for cancer in his 30's, followed by divorce, Nepo discovered that the book he'd planned to write, and had had great ambitions for, was no longer relevant for who he was becoming. The books he actually wrote instead reflect a very different perspective on what success can be. Through his unplanned journey, he realized that living out hard experiences opened wide his heart and transformed the evolution of his life. His inner barriers fell away and revealed his own bright, authentic spark, guiding him to a successful career and new marriage.

"….What we think we want, what we think we strive for, is often not the goal at all— just what we hold on to in order to discover what is truly calling us. Often, when we think we're building one thing, we're building another, or we're the ones being built . . . When we think we're enduring one thing, we're often being undone by life into the birth of a gift we've been carrying for just this opening . . . The point is, we're challenged to follow our heart beyond our intentions in order to find our quiet destiny, the way a tulip . . . follows its urge to break ground, hardly imagining its life in blossom."
— Mark Nepo, The One Life We're Given

What obstacle have you encountered that opened you to your inner spark of aliveness?

What can you do to help keep this spark alive?

What has challenged you to make a successful change by transcending an inner barrier or obstacle?

The Wave That Carries Us Forward

As you pass over the threshold of another year, feel the impetus inside you that has brought you to this place, this time— the ending of 2014 and the beginning of 2015.  Have you drifted here in a natural way, as a leaf lets go of the tree? Have you moved purposefully toward this place, like a dancer in the final movement of the dance?  Or have you felt a shaking from within that impelled you forward, from still water into the arching crescent of a wave?

For me, 2014 was truly like launching myself into a huge wave with the coming out of my book, Success with Soul— Loving Your Livelihood, Living in Balance. In fact, as you can see, the cover of my book is derived from the famous print, “The Wave,” by the Japanese woodblock artist, Hokusai.

When I chose this image for the cover of my book, the wave appeared to be facing backward, as my colleague and friend, Tamara Alfaroff, noticed. Thanks to the magic of technology and the skill of my book designer, Mark D’Antoni, the wave on the cover now faces forward— carrying all before it with its supreme power, energy, and elegance.

What is the impact of the image of a huge wave— cresting high over your head and just about to crash— for you?

As I searched for an image of what would convey the experience of helping people find work they love and learn to live in balance, that of an enormous wave seemed to say it all. I mean, it takes energy to find work that genuinely nourishes you. And “living in balance” to me means learning how to nourish yourself through cultivating and enjoying the energy in all that is important to you. So the giant wave indicates dynamic balance, like real life— like the seeming stillness of the ocean that is, however, constantly shifting and rarely static (even though there are times when we’d like it to be that way).

As you can see on my book cover image, the wave is just about to complete its arc— rising from the sea, encircling the air, and about to touch the ground. There is completeness here on the wave’s elemental journey back into its oceanic source. Even the fire element is there, embedded in the wave’s upward surge of power.

How can you access your inner wave of energy and power to manifest the dream you want to live out in 2015?  If it’s not clear to you, please contact me for a free consultation about how coaching can give you the clarity and support you need to do just that. You can also read my book and check out my website for free reports, earlier blog posts, and other information about how to work and live authentically and well.

May 2015 be a time of deep fulfillment and happiness for you!

Beyond Magic-- The Journey of Transformative Change

Now and again I get questions about the phrase “transformative change” and what it means in my work as a career and life transitions coach.  Does it imply a “magical” change-- something way out of the ordinary and, more importantly, done to us-- as in one of the Oz books where a witch in the land of Oz “transforms” a young boy into a green monkey?  Or-- in what ways do we have a voice, or personal agency, in the transformative changes of our lives?

As I see it, “trans-formation” is not a passive state of becoming something you are not, but rather a conscious journey towards becoming more and more who you really are.  Transforming your life is neither a magical process (though it may seem so), nor a planned strategy.  Like happiness, it is a possible and desirable by-product of going towards what we feel called to do, inwardly and outwardly, during the transitional change times of our lives.

As William Bridges says in his exquisitely wise book drawn from his own personal and professional journeys, The Way of Transition:

Transformation is the true destination of transition . . . How transition does that is a mystery, but it somehow involves . . . [spending] time near a boundary between . . . one life-phase and the next.  The borders of Oz [the place of awakening to new possibilities] are everywhere, although the price of passage to the other side is often nothing less than your life-- at least your life as you have known it.

In my own book, Success with Soul-- Loving Your Livelihood, Living in Balance, I offer my own interpretation of the journey of transformative change in this way:

Today, like every other day, we wake up empty
and frightened. Don’t open the door to the study and begin reading. Take down a musical instrument.
Let the beauty we love be what we do.
There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.

— Jelaluddin Rumi, from The Essential Rumi by Coleman Barks

I love this poem by the Sufi spiritual master and poet, Jelaluddin Rumi, for the beauty of his words and images — and for the eloquence with which he expresses this movement from habitual acts to transformative action. This is what I love, too, about doing life coaching — helping people blossom with the joy of self-discovery as they create the changes that really matter to them in their careers and lives.

“Let the beauty we love be what we do.” The wake-up call — it’s time to stop settling for less than our authentic calling and go for “the beauty we love” in our lives. What is it that we really want? What is it that we are ready to put all our heart, energy, and passion into now? How do we really want to contribute to the world, to our families, to ourselves? What is the “beauty” that feeds our souls and frees us to move forward to where we feel fulfilled?

We all have had some experience of “waking up empty and frightened” — of losing what is important to ourselves, of not expressing our true selves in some way, of dying without having lived fulfilled.

The key is not to go back to the old habits, not just to “begin reading” — but to step past our fears onto a new path that may feel radical. “Take down a musical instrument,” sing with your authentic voice, and follow the unknown songs and sounds that emerge to new opportunities that free you to be yourself!

          What do you notice about your own journey of transformative change?

Success with Soul-- Frida’s New Year Dream Challenge!

As we step over the threshold of the year 2014, what do you want to do or become that will enrich and open the way you work and live? Challenge yourself and explore a new path that interests you? Contribute to the world in a different way? Deepen and stretch yourself as you try growing to a new level in doing the work you love? Below is a message from a friend of mine from Sweden, Frida Modén Treichl, a professional “musical theater performer” who took on a BIG career challenge this year. I found out about this as I was reading some new reviews of my book, Success with Soul-- Loving Your Livelihood, Living in Balance, and was struck by Frida’s.

She wrote: “This book helped me make a big life decision! It’s a must for everyone who is or has been at a crossroad in their life!” Of course, I contacted Frida immediately to find out what this big life decision was! It turns out that Frida, who’s well-known in her own country for her powerful, expressive voice and larger-than-life presence on stage, decided to go for her dream of starring as Elphaba (the green-faced witch) in the musical “Wicked” on Broadway. A very large dream in many ways! Enjoy reading below about Frida’s leap across the Atlantic into a new world and an expanded; vision for her performing life!

Hello, I'm Frida Modén Treichl. In Sweden, I’m a “musical theater performer.” Here in the USA, I’m an actress/singer/dancer. I’ve been a professional in this field for the past five years, since I was 24. But I knew when I was 18 that this is what I wanted to be.

Actually, I wanted to be a Hollywood movie star, but there’s no college education to become a Hollywood star, so I completed a higher education program in Sweden in the field of musical theater performance-- and that has determined my career direction. Right now, the big step forward in my life has been my decision to move to New York City and audition for starring roles in Broadway musicals. My big dream for a long time has been to play the part of Elphaba in “Wicked.” I know that it’s an important next step for me professionally to be here in New York now. It’s a huge challenge and a very big adventure. But it’s taken me a while to make the leap.

What’s held me back? Lots of fears! First, the fear of not succeeding, not reaching my goal. Also, English is not my first language (though I’m fluent in it), and I’ve sung most of my roles in Swedish. Plus I’m shy around new people, though that surprises people who know me. What’s helped me take a big chance to live out my dream of performing in a major Broadway musical production?

Several things, including the support of my family, of course. Financially, I had the good fortune to receive a scholarship from the Swedish foundation of Anders Sandrews for young, talented artists. This has helped me pay my living expenses in New York while auditioning. Plus I got to work with a great voice instructor from New York who was in Stockholm last spring and who bolstered my confidence by telling me I was definitely “Broadway material.”

And your book, Eve, Success with Soul-- Loving Your Livelihood, Living in Balance, was so helpful in making my decision. I was inspired by all of it, but particularly Chapter 6, “Living Out Your Authenticity and Aliveness”-- you know, that final exercise where you say, “Now breathe, feel your feet on the ground, and consider the professional and personal risks and paths you’ve taken towards living your life with heart and meaning.” Then you asked us readers to respond to the questions that you asked me earlier in this interview: -

How have you felt held back from expressing what really matters to you-- on the job? in other relationships? - How have you been supported in being authentic and open to your own aliveness? In your career? In your primary relationships? When I think about these questions now, I feel this vibrating energy in my belly! I am so thrilled to be here in the great city of New York at last! Just being around so many people with high professional standards lifts my spirit. It’s such a large theatrical smorgasbord-- you have it all here, and now I’m part of it!

What is Success with Soul?

Right now, it’s playoff time in American major-league baseball, with its heady atmosphere and personal stories of its players seeping through newspaper ink, the airwaves, the ether, and even, at times, my mind with its limited awareness of this national pastime. However, one player’s story from a recent New York Times editorial leapt off the press for me.

Did you know that there is a terrific pitcher on the New York Mets team who was an English literature major in college and who used his literary skill to write a “well-received” recent memoir about “his own struggles with childhood sexual abuse and adult loneliness and shame”?  Meet pitcher R.A. Dickey who is 37 (old for a pro baseball player) and just started with the Mets in 2010. Like the protagonist of Bernard Malamud’s book, The Natural, Dickey spent many years in the minor leagues before getting his big chance.

In my forthcoming book, Success with Soul-- Loving Your Livelihood, Living in Balance, there is a chapter called, “Defining Success on Your Own Terms,” in which I write about the quality of “soul” that is the essence of fulfilling work and lives:

             ....I am stirred by what Thomas Moore, author of Care of the Soul, says, that work is “central to the soul’s opus.” I want to know more about work as “soulful.” When we say something has soul, like joyous music, we mean that it grabs our spirit and sings out to us.  When something feels soulless, like certain work environments, on the other hand, we have a feeling of deadness or lack of energy in its presence.  

             Soul is a feeling of life and vibrancy that we can feel within from our experiences and relationships in the world. Soul is real and tangible, and it deeply affects our ability to feel satisfied with the lives that we create for ourselves.

Returning to R.A. Dickey, I find his story simply fascinating as regards the evolution of “soul” in the sudden arc of success in his work and life. As the NY Times editorial says, “before joining the Mets . . . he had played pro ball for 16 years. They were difficult ones . . . He was a middling pitcher . . . He got bumped around, sent down and passed over. He started getting old.” Did Dickey start to feel an urgency at his age and stage of life that his work begin to grab his spirit?  Was he looking for a change of career-- or for a way to succeed as a baseball pro? Certainly, he was feeling the need for something that might call forth his spirit more than warming the bench in a baseball minor league.

I don’t know his whole story or what motivated him to start practicing the knuckleball-- “a spinless pitch as difficult to master as it is to hit.” Whatever it was, he came through this season as a winning pitcher with a unique pitch-- “the bright light” of a team in trouble. More than that, however, he also climbed Mount Kilimanjaro earlier this year to help raise money to support women and girl victims of slave trafficking in India. Plus, he wrote his book. 

Success with soul for Dickey was clearly more than making it to a major league in baseball, though that was certainly important and gave him a larger platform with which to share his voice. In his mid-thirties, he opened his heart from his own sufferings and took conscious, visible action on behalf of the sufferings of others. He found the “soul” in his “success”-- “a feeling of life and vibrancy that we can feel within from our experiences and relationships in the world.”


To register for this FREE class, please click here!