Hey – good to meet you virtually :o)
Why I’m Here:
I’d been co-running a successful business with my husband for just over 10 years. We were respected by our clients, and bringing a lot of value to them with our unique training.
For my husband, this business had always been his true north. He seemed to have this inner guidance – a knowing of what was needed right now, what came next, and when to pivot. He had a steady confidence and happily moved along his intended path. A true craftsman at work.
I, on the other hand, despite the near decade of helping entrepreneurs actualize their dream businesses, still felt out of place, and was now dreading my work day. I was mostly involved behind the scenes, and mostly behind a computer screen – hardly coming in contact with a living being. And at the end of most days, despite feeling I’d given my all, I still felt disengaged and frustrated.
At the same time, everyone in our circle was (at least seemingly) ‘crushing it‘. They had found their ‘one thing’ and were diligently pushing it up toward success. To me, that ‘one thing’ dogma felt wrong on a gut level. I saw it as the path to boredom and creative stagnation. My brain was alive with ideas, and craving a collaborative buzz. But in this world, my ideas were always too unconventional, ahead of time, too divergent, or just too many.
And that massive disconnect between the dictates of my external environment and the internal setup I was naturally aligned with, was draining my cognitive energy and my self-belief. I felt like a dud.
On the outside, I must have looked like the eternal Peter Pan – refusing to grow up in society’s terms.
On the inside – I was struggling. Afraid to ask for help in case other people’s judgments were harsher than the ones I dished out to myself. And as time went on, more and more of me seemed to give up the ghost, as I struggled to find my answers: “What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I be happy? Why can’t I ‘make it’ like everyone else?“
One day I said to my husband (and business partner):
“I need to try another way.”
I was stepping out of my main role in our business, and with his support, I got to work with full intensity, looking for MY ‘one thing’. My meaning. What I really loved. If this is what I wanted, I told myself, I’d treat it like I’d treated every other job I’d ever had to do – with full intent, hard work, good planning, and strategy!
So I soul-searched with powerful questions. I journaled my little heart out. I did a SWOT analysis on myself with the KOLBE test, Strengths Finder, you name it. Read books, watched interviews, and took notes from many well-meaning, respected, successful, and smart people. I did courses on discovering my ‘passion’ and MY ‘gift to the world’…
This work eventually yielded ideas and plans for a potential business. Although that didn’t mean I’d gotten closer to my big breakthrough – I was getting warmer. If you push hard enough, I thought, something’s bound to fire up, even if it’s just through pure friction!
But each time I started a new business, I’d make it as far as the launch. I’d do aaall the work it takes to get to the finish line before yelling “Cut” – something else had to be optimised before I could really commit… (this I now know was self-sabotage, and a signal that I should’ve taken note of).
I kept choosing (perhaps by the inertia of the hustle culture I was ‘swimming in’) to focus on the areas where I wasn’t succeeding! As I struggled to get my shit together, my inner jerk wouldn’t get off my shoulder with her incessant chatter:
- What the heck is wrong with me, and why can’t I finish a single thing?
- Will I ever find my passion?
- What if I’m just a fake! I have the fancy language and have learned how to express it for the public, but actually, when it comes to making it a reality, I’m just a bunch of hot air!
So I pushed to find my answers (another signal to a trait that is integral to my M.O.). I ‘faked it ’till I maked it‘ in the hope it would override the lack of confidence I felt, and to just keep me moving.
And I kept moving. Through the death of my dad. Through saying goodbye to our kitty daughter of 20 years. Within a year, my life had turned upside down. I was still hustling every day to figure it all out.
But things were slipping away from me even more noticeably now, so I did what came naturally: I gripped harder and leaned in; focused on getting myself up, dusting myself off, and getting on with making business happen. Instead of taking some time to respectfully address the severe sorrow cloud that had now gathered up over me.
Alas, the Universe had had enough of my hustle and grit strategy!
It turns out they were not what was missing or needed from me at the time…
One day, a routine chiropractic session was all the opportunity my body needed to send me the signal I wasn’t going to manage to ignore. A day after the visit, I could barely move, and months of MRIs, neurologists, and physical adjustments were struggling to pull my body out of the stress toll it was stuck in ‘paying’ right now.
My world had turned upside down (and inside out). I’d thought I had my ‘shit’ together – I was in control. Now here I was – crushed! Physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Who I thought I was – completely deconstructed…
I was ashamed to ask for help. Furious at what I’d done to myself. Incredulous at not having ‘seen it coming‘. And feeling helpless – sure I had exhausted all plausible options for recovery.
But – I had time…
Not to rush and do, but to rest and think. I’d been obsessed with my one life’s purpose and I’d ended up completely broken down, feeling like I had no life left to offer. I took the ‘invitation’ and I set out to find more clues to creating a future in which I felt alive more often. My guiding quest was for more of the ingredients that naturally made me feel like a useful member of my tribe. I wanted to find out more about ME—which felt borderline cringe-worthily indulgent at the time! But I damn did it anyway.
With my investigative mind and penchant for problem-solving and learning, I followed one trail after another. Some required long hours of reading. Some required leaps of faith. Many times I was hopeless – I felt what that meant beyond the intellectual understanding.
You’d not believe the length and depth of my inquiry.
Luckily my body, had intuitively guided me to join more groups and form close relationships with other strong women entrepreneurs. I noticed I came alive in group settings, where I could contribute and connect ideas (another signal I managed to ignore). Things were interesting in a group, and I felt excited to be able to discern the right problems worth solving at the right time.
The people I connected with seemed to like my ideas. Being able to see their journeys helped me keep hope present. Their kind but candid feedback and the utility I could provide for them in return started to gradually build my confidence and open my eyes to where my true value was and what brought me joy.
So then I had to ask: What brings me joy?
Because the ‘message‘ that was now coming through for me loud and clear was: Fuck finding my passion! I want to find more joy! Life is not meant to be the fastest, most excruciating sprint from A to Z without looking sideways…
And then the next question was: How do I get more of it more often and more predictably?
What are my naturally given ‘ingredients’ to reliably find joy WITHIN me, not outside – because the outside was, well, outside of my control?
What if, like a budding Chef, I could look at my traits pantry and learn how to ‘cook up’ the recipes I liked? What IS my ‘recipe’ for joy?
So while I was doing my dues to repair physically, I was reading even more about behavioral psychology, devouring books, interviews, and lectures from people like Jordan Peterson, Andrew Huberman, Ian McGilchrist, Lisa Barrett, and Gabor Mate.
I already had a robust 15+ year interest and background in everything about wellbeing, so it was natural for me to traverse broadly between neurology, anatomy, psychology, nutrition, fitness, and epigenetics. Anything that could answer and fix where I was at.
And because my brain had always worked to bring multiple modalities together to reveal the best course of action, an alchemy was brewing inside my head now, providing my attention with guiding strokes.
“Each present moment is a just remembered past.” – Gary Edelman.
Book after book, my mind was blown as I began to understand more of how our brains work. How they create our individual perception of our reality, based on our past experiences, physical, emotional, and social, creating from that our unique ‘experiential soil’.
In her brilliant book How Emotions Are Made, neuroscientist Lisa Feldman Barrett makes the case for how that experiential soil dictates the emotions we assign to anything we experience through life, and how they directly impact what she calls our ‘body budget’.
By seeing my potential ‘ingredients’, I could start to understand how the way I had rigged, what I thought was the right work for me, was switching my life lights off one by one. Eating away at my body budget by keeping me isolated when human contact was my lifeline. Making me do single-track deep work, when my mind was naturally designed to be multi-passionate, fast-learning, and adored switching pace and context as a way of generating my best work.
THAT was getting me closer to Joy.
By this point, I was already a certified personal trainer, and a certified Tiny Habits coach (with the amazing B.J. Fogg). I had certified as a Bulletproof Wellbeing Coach (with Dave Assprey) and graduated the “Business of Food” class (with Seth Godin’s Akimbo crew).
I’d also done some of the most popular personality tests and immersed myself in their meanings. I’d dabbled before in an attempt to understand myself and my closest people. But now, in the context of ALL the science, I took a more selective approach to that testing.
What was shaping up inside my mind straddled multiple disciplines. It felt powerful and exciting, and I could see the utility of what I was creating.
Enter, the Self-Design Matrix?
Through research, hypothesis, testing, and revising, I created a systematic approach to discovering your core personal traits (how you do things when you do them and why), and map them out to help you understand how you work. And with that understanding, you can decide what doesn’t serve you and needs to change; what’s already doing great, what you might want to enhance and do more of, and what you should accept about yourself with compassion and clarity.
I devised a simple to-learn-and-use framework that you can use to intercept, prepare, change, or create behaviors with. And started to test the Self-Design Matrix in its cohesiveness with family, friends, other lifestyle entrepreneurs—after already testing it on myself. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive. I felt alive with excitement for the potential of what I was sharing.
THIS is where I started to turn full-heartedly towards Joy :o)
To paraphrase one of my mentors Seth Godin,
“Even the best orange grower with the fanciest equipment and the world of resolve, will not do well, growing oranges in Antarctica!”
Well – I’m out of the ‘cold’ now and grateful for all the hardships leading me here. I get to share the ‘gold’ I found on my journey. And I get to have fun (even though it’s still hard work).
Which is a very long-ass way of saying: this is “Why I’m Here” and “Welcome to the Self-Design Matrix” :o)
P.S. Stay curious. Never lose your colour & shine…