I hesitate to say I’ve learned anything completely as mastery is elusive but I am learning a better way to make an impact, live fully, care for myself and love unabashedly.
Work has always occupied the Queen’s Seat in my life. I’ve prescribed to the “first in, last out” attendance policy, gone the extra mile(s) always and sacrificed health and personal relationships as the price of progress.
It sounds horrid, I know. However, it looks quite lovely. I own three businesses of wildly different missions, I’ve worked in corporate consulting, sold and bought businesses, turned personal passions into entrepreneurial enterprises and logged a lot of frequent flyer miles.
I say all of this from a place of humility as the way I blazed this path is pocked with scars from using more force than grace.
Is a better way possible? How differently might the world look standing on top of the wheel versus running at full sprint on the wheel? We each have these questions to answer. For me, I am learning to soften and to lean into experience as a sister companion to achievement.
In 2006, I had a significant health crisis. I was in the middle of an acquisition, my children were ages 2 and 4, and I was slowly, blindly running out of fuel. I was strategically limiting my sleep so as to advance my work and be present for my kids, and eventually, my body began to fail. Its sneaky way of calling a time-out, no doubt as my hair began to fall out, my speech shattered and I ached from head to toe.
How can this even be? I’m an avid hiker, golfer, lover of life. I’m optimistic, genuinely happy, and surrounded by love. I eat well, moderated everything that should be moderated, and yet, there I was in a slow fade.
My doctor’s comment to me? “Your lifestyle looks great on paper. And yet, if you don’t make a change, I’ll meet you in the hospital within six weeks.” If I hadn’t been so overwhelmingly exhausted, I might have been petrified.
This type of depletion does not happen overnight. In fact, there had been signs carefully ignored for two years leading up to it; symptoms, test results, subtle nudges from family. All indicators that I believed mind over matter could eradicate. For goodness sake, I didn’t have time to be sick. I had two children, a husband, a dog that kept running away and a business to lead.
And so, I finally got serious about the true roots of wellness. Here’s a secret I learned: they are deeper than our society wants us to believe. We are told to eat well and exercise but not taught that mindfulness is nourishment for our soul and deep sleep for our bodies. We are not taught that our breath is a gateway to radiance.
We are taught to balance the plates in the air & by all means, look good doing it. Sound familiar? Your story reads differently and yet it is the same with altered characters and settings.
The next several years were an exercise of healing. My eternal love affair with yoga started, and I eventually made my way to a meditation cushion. I discovered gratitude as a practice versus emotion, and I expanded my net of connection by opening my heart and investing my time with friends I cherish.
It took three years for my markers to return to “low normal;” a daily reminder that these sacred vessels we are given to explore our life are to be treated with care and intention.
Today, my life may not look that different than it did prior to 2006. I still own my businesses and love this thing we call “work.” Work has always been a strange word to me with its inference of unwanted but mandatory effort. For me, it has always felt like impact, and for that, I am happy. I’m wired for it.
The pivot; however, is HOW I immerse in a moment; replacing merciless drive with enthusiastic curiosity; whole-minded working with whole-hearted living.
In my career, I have talked to hundreds of people about their life’s path and struggle. I hear universal threads that link us all. A desire for connection, joy and fulfillment. And a burning question around how to say YES to our genius zone, thrive in our business and make our unique impact in the world without sacrificing ourselves.
My answer? Trust yourself. Slow down and listen. Move your body in ways that heal your body and spirit. Receive food as self-care. Know that you know. Confide in your tribe. Pursue impact. Meaningful work happens because we clarify our purpose path, we courageously eliminate distractions, and then we get busy bringing it to life. That’s the better way.
Laura Juarez is a business strategist and consultant as well yoga instructor, and overall lover of life. After a 25+ year corporate career, she birthed Pure Potential LLC. Pure Potential exists to teach high achievers how to optimize their time, manage their minds, and prioritize their well-being so they can make their unique impact in the world through their work. You can find her work at www.laurajuarez.com.