I spent most of life chasing success in things outside of me. From a young age, I viewed achievement as my 1-way ticket to love and acceptance. You know the game: “If I get good grades, win awards, and achieve in sports and extracurriculars…then I’ll be okay!”
I was good at this game. I played it into my early 20’s. I kept my sights focused on that next achievement…get into the good school –> get the next leadership position –> land a good job –> get the promotion.
“If I get there, then I’ll be okay.”
This approach worked for a while…Until it didn’t.
As the saying goes, “what goes up, must come down.” And shortly after graduating college my ship came a-crashing down.
I was nearly laid-off from my exciting job. I got dumped. An old knee injury flared up. Family stress entered the fray. And my closest friends moved away.
It felt like my outside world had fallen apart…and as a result, my internal state crumbled.
Fear, anxiety, sadness, and apathy gradually overtook me. But like the frog in a pot of slowly boiling water, these changes snuck up on me. And as a result, I wasn’t fully aware of how far I had fallen.
That changed as I walked through the park on a beautiful spring afternoon in Chicago.
I was talking on the phone with my dad. And he said something that stopped me dead in my tracks.
“Do you think you’re depressed?”
It’s like each letter of the question jumped out of my phone and punched me in the face.
I was stunned. Nobody had ever asked me a question like that before! It clashed with the vision I held of myself for my entire life: the optimistic, driven, creative, capable, and cheerful go-getter.
I wasn’t battling depression. But in that moment, it was clear: I was NOT showing up at my best.
I knew I was capable of more. I wanted ready to make a change. So I decided to step things up.
In trying to change my situation, my gut instinct was to use the tools that led to my previous successes. In short, I tried to fix my external situation by doing MORE!
I thought that I just needed to work harder to get my outside situation right…Then, I’d start feeling better on the inside too. So I started working harder. I woke up earlier. I dressed more professionally. I started staying later at work.
But simply trying to DO MORE got me nothing but frustration and fatigue.
The harder I pushed, the worse I felt. It turns out that my old “Roadmap to Success” didn’t apply anymore. The game had changed on me, and I didn’t know the rules.
One night, as I limped home from work on my hobbled knee, I had a realization…
I had it BACKWARDS this whole time!
The real problem wasn’t my external situation (the work stress, the breakup, the injury, etc…) It was my internal response to those events.
And therefore, the solution to my problem wasn’t going to be found externally by doing more and working harder. The real work, and my new path forward, started within.
My dad is an architect. I know that you can only build so high on a shaky foundation. And my foundation was in shambles.
So I set off to rebuild it.
“How can I live well? What does that even mean? What am I like when I show up at my best? And what can I shift to be that way more often?”
Questions like these became my obsession. And the more I looked inward, the more I wanted to learn about what I was actually looking at.
I sated my curiosity by seeking to learn the best of what others had already figured out. I studied mindfulness, habits, movement, performance psychology, ancient spiritual traditions, neuroscience, and any topic related to optimal living that I could get my hands on.
And I used these newfound insights, tools, and practices to start making changes. Day by day, step by step.
- I practiced managing my attention by practicing meditation and learning about my mind.
- I practiced cultivating better energy by building the habits that nourished my body and mind.
- I practiced looking inwards to understand myself by writing, reflecting, and creating more space in my life.
- I practiced my inner-game, building a resilient mindset that helped me thrive amidst life’s ups and downs.
- I practiced minimalism in all areas of life: cutting out non-essential activities and possessions, so I could focus more on my priorities.
My return to stable ground happened like my “fall.”
Slowly…and then all at once. The exploration, experimentation, and dedicated practice made a difference. Not just to get me back on my feet. It helped me take strides far beyond where I once was.
My work situation improved. I felt more engaged in each day. My clarity and focus were sharper than ever. I felt more motivated and confident in myself. I was the healthiest and strongest I’d ever been. I had increased energy and enthusiasm for life. I was clear on my priorities, and was investing myself in them.
But it’s not all about performance…Just as importantly, I started enjoying the journey of life in a deeper way. Even when things weren’t “going right”, I knew that a state of peace and vibrance was just a thought away.
That isn’t to say I was some sort of blissed-out guru floating around all day. I still had (and still have!) my fair share of work to do. 🙂
I had come a long way from where I started. But what excited me most is that this adventure had only just begun!
The more I reflected on my journey, the more I understood that my situation wasn’t unique.
- I wasn’t the only one who struggled to show up at their best, and knew they were capable of more.
- I wasn’t the only one who wanted to take what they’re doing to the next level.
- And in our hyperconnected, reactionary world, I *certainly* wasn’t the only one who wanted to live a more intentional life, doing more of what matters to them.
But most importantly, if I could make these types of shifts in my life, I knew without a doubt that others could too.
With that realization, I made it my mission to give back.
I wanted to document the best of what I had learned. I wanted to double-down on my own journey of growth and development as a doer, giver, mover, lover, and leader. And I wanted to help other ambitious people navigate that transition from coasting to killing it.
Thus, Mindful Ambition was born.
Since then, I’ve coached dozens of inspiring leaders from around the world, helping them unleash the best version of themselves, and give more to others in the process. And I’ve shared tens of thousands of words through my blog and Mindful Monday Mornings notes.
I’m grateful every day for the opportunity to support you in this way. And, to continue walking my own path. Waking up each day ready to actualize just a little bit more of my potential in service to others.
Interested in Working Together?
If this story resonates, and you’re ready to start going from coasting to killing it…Let’s talk.
You have the opportunity to access my 1-on-1 support for free.
Each month I open space on my calendar for a number of complementary clarity sessions. These sessions will help you get a boost of clarity so you can craft a strategy to move towards your goals at your best.
But, I will say, my coaching isn’t for everyone. I only work with ambitious leaders who are willing to get creative and take bold action. (And who want to perform at their best each day while actually enjoying the ride.)