Altering the school system to include more beneficial life related skills is something I have always wondered about. Although I feel I have learned quite a bit while I was in school, I still feel curriculums should be looked at and acknowledged tremendously to include more life related skills that would essentially help young students navigate their way through the “real world” upon graduation. From learning how to manage their own money, to nurturing relationships, to buying their first car or home and learning how to file their own taxes, these are all fundamentals that sooner or later all human beings need to learn how to deal with.

What about just going back to the basics? What about the strong need to learn to love yourself, to trust yourself and to live the life that YOU want because you know you CAN and because you have learned to shut out the outside noise? What about instilling that strong foundation of self love in the younger generation early on so that they have the tools to overcome any hardships they may come across that can badly damage their own self esteem when they’re older?

I had the honour of interviewing Taylor Hui, founder of the BeaYOUtiful Organization in Vancouver, BC. With a heart of gold and the will to influence the younger female generation, instilling self love in young girls is something she prides herself in for various reasons.

Hi Taylor, thanks so much for joining me today! Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and how your organization came to be?

Thanks so much for meeting with me! I was born and raised in Vancouver BC. I worked in Asia for the last 4 years on and off in fashion and recently relocated back home, which has been great! 

I started BeaYOUtiful when I was 16 years old. I was in highschool and I had a lot of friends suffering with eating disorders and I was often bullied, mostly online. Cyber bullying was something that I had happened quite often in my life growing up. I just saw this cycle of negativity regarding the need for a young woman to pull others down in order to feel better about herself or to rise above and I always felt there was more competition between girls over collaboration and I never understood why. I very much and have always preached the opposite.

There was always this hierarchical feeling and women needing to bring other women down to raise their own self esteem. I thought that was such a vicious cycle and a mentality that I really wanted to change so I created BeaYOUtiful. The organization provides 6 week classes for young girls in elementary schools focused on building confidence, self esteem, nuturition, learning about self respect and self worth. I just think that these are such fundamental tools that are not taught in elementary schools or even high schools for that matter. It’s really shocking to this day that these topics are rarely touched upon in the education system and so I thought it was essential to bring about a class that would provide and teach those values and introduce these characteristics to young girls so they’re better equipped as they grow into their teenage years and then adulthood.

My friend and I did a pilot test that lasted about six months and it ended up being amazing and we just kept expanding… five years later, we’re still continuing today and are participating in quite a few districts across British Columbia. It’s been quite the adventure. I really do feel my personal experience has played into that, but it’s been the most empowering and moving experience I’ve ever gone through. It will always be a part of me and I say that because if it doesnt turn out to be my full time career, it’s definitely my passion project. I feel like I’ve grown so much from it and the girls are a reminder to me of what the meaning of life is and what to value. It’s been such a life changing experience for myself and for our volunteers. The people on my team are incredible and they’ve grown so much from it so it’s not only the mentors that inspire our students, the students have inspired us as well.

That must be so rewarding and to be able to see their growth too. How many students do you usually have in each class?

Yes, they’ll walk in the first week being timid and feeling so vulnerable. You can tell the self confidence isn’t quite there and a lot of the times, they don’t even know what it means to have self confidence and how to work towards it without having this idea that being confident is being egotistic or being bossy because a lot of the times, young girls get confused by the terms. With all the social standards in place, it’s just so important for young girls to realize that they have a voice, they have self worth and it’s about applying all the values we teach and making sure it’s with the right intentions.

In terms of numbers, it depends and usually the minimum we have is six girls. My favorite number is eight. I love having eight girls in a class, but we’ve done up to twenty three girls. Ideally we aim for eight to twelve. A smaller group allows the mentors to build a closer connection with each student. When you have much more than that, you’re not really given the opportunity to have those much needed one on one moments with the students.

With that being said, it’s not a one-on-one mentorship program. They get that one on one time to build relationships, but we ensure that they build relationships with each other as well because that’s who they’re going to be spending their everyday with. They’re going to be attending high school and university with other girls and they need to learn how to respect and understand each other. So while I believe that one-on-one time is important, what’s even more essential is that they’re building connections with their peers.

Do you have a vision for your organization or stretch goals for later down the road? Would you want to perhaps go global?

Our goal is to just impact as many young girls and women as possible. Going global would be a dream of course! We are definitely looking at expanding onto Bowen Island right now and interested in Toronto and even Calgary, but it is quite difficult because we do use a lot of guest speakers, a lot of artistic therapists come in too and we just have such dynamic classes of different topics. We’d have to find the right people to help facilitate the program. I am so lucky that we have such a strong team here and so many resources and I’m not saying these wouldnt be available in other cities, but it would definitely take time to find and create the right connections and build that network.

“Our goal is to just impact as many young girls and women as possible.”

Right now, we are looking at hosting more conference type events and that is our next one-year goal. Being able to host conferences in different cities which consist of a 6-8 week program compressed into one or two days would be a dream! It’s a super-high stretch goal for me, but it is something that’s in the works right now and our test trial would be done in Vancouver. Depending on how that goes, I’d love to then go nationwide (like in New York or Los Angeles!) as well as difference cities across the world. But yes, baby steps!

With technology these days, we have access to and are heavily influenced by so much information that we see online. With Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, Youtube etc. do you personally feel that social media plays a huge role in how young girls see themselves today?

Oh absolutely and it’s undeniable that it has a long lasting effect. I grew up with a cell phone, but not until I was in Grade 8 or Grade 9. My 6-year-old cousin already has a cell phone and it’s insane! It’s normal for her age now. These girls we’ve all spoken to in Grades 4, 5 and 6 all have iPads, or some sort of technological device to keep them entertained. The amount of information and knowledge they have access to is incredible, but it’s also very scary and can be very toxic.

In our programs, we actually dedicate a week to talking about social media, addressing how advertising manipulates young woman and what beauty standards are. I think the earlier you introduce this to a young girl, the better. They don’t even realize half the time that the ads they see are often photoshopped and edited and the world of commercialisation is quite manipulative (if i can say that). It’s making young women aware that things they see online aren’t always what they seem.

It’s also about educating these young girls that if you post something, then erase it, it doesn’t mean it’s gone forever. It doesn’t mean that those feelings associated with it disappear. I always make sure I touch upon my experience with cyber bullying and how that affected me growing up. I share how to this day, I still remember how it felt to receive those messages. Just because something isn’t said to your face, doesn’t mean it won’t have the same effect on your wellbeing. What’s important is to look at media in general as a pedagogy. It’s a huge platform that you can learn from and it can be used in so many amazing ways. It’s just harnessing those tools and ensuring you’re providing positive information to its users.

“What’s important I think is to just look at media in general as a pedagogy.”

There are proper ways to offer criticism and everyone has their own opinion. Freedom of speech is so important, and I encourage it. But it is about taking responsibility at the end of the day and at BeaYOUtiful we call them “acts of kindness” – ensuring there is a good purpose in whatever is said or done, whether it is in person, or online. It’s about education, awareness and taking responsibility, NOT discouraging people to use social media as a whole. I want them to be able to contribute, but in a way that’s inspiring and positive. If people can strive to integrate the two, social media is such an amazing tool that we’re so privileged to have.

“If people can strive to integrate inspiration and positivity, social media is such an amazing tool that we’re so privileged to have.”

What type of harmful messages did you receive when you were younger that really affected you?

There would be a lot of swear words targeted towards me and a lot of negative content. They made me feel worthless, and a lot of the times I was excluded from the “cool” activities and I didn’t get invited to parties that other girls hosted. At that age, no one wants to feel excluded, especially if you feel like you’ve done nothing wrong. I was quite the tomboy growing up and not in the way I dressed or acted – it was the activities I did. I enjoyed playing sports and playing in the mud as a child, and I was always on the track team. I grew up in a family where everyone played hockey and I loved that!

Cyberbullying is still an issue and something I feel should still be talked about. People are able to say a lot more on social media than they would to your face.

Absolutely. It’s so terrible because it encourages a chain reaction where one person posts a negative remark, someone else likes that person’s comment, and then another person posts a new negative comment. People end up encouraging the behavior and then it snowballs and it can be quite vicious.

We have one week of our program called “Heart to Heart” week and it’s literally us in our pyjamas, with pillows, chocolate and a box of kleenex. We have conversations and connect and showing that there is so much beauty in vulnerability. There’s so much confusion and misconceptions about being vulnerable, but to be able to open your heart up and cry and talk about what’s bothering you and to just be aware of what’s happening in your life… it really changes your opinion on others and how you treat others.

When you have a group of young girls and even women crying after sharing their most vulnerable selves, it is the most empowering thing. We show that we embrace being human to each other. We acknowledge that we have feelings. We share that we’ve all been through ups and downs. That’s just part of life. To be able to hear that and comprehend that at a young age is just so important.

“We have one week of our program called “Heart to Heart”…having conversations and connecting and showing that there is so much beauty in vulnerability.”

I love the whole idea of being more comfortable with being vulnerable because there’s such a stigma about being vulnerable and how it’s a weak characteristic when in actuality, it’s a strength.

Yes! The earlier we can teach vulnerability to younger girls, the better. It’s something that is not taught or spoken about in school. When we first started this organisation, I got a lot of backlash saying schools aren’t places that we have these types of conversations and discussions. Schools have said that they are not there to teach those values, because parents do that. That frustrated me more than ever. The administrators didn’t understand that people may not have the luxury of a safe space at home. I’m thinking to myself, as facilitators who are with students 6-8 hours a day, how can you not be teaching values of kindness and expression, or basic life skills or the fundamentals useful to us when we are sent out into the “real world”?

Something we’re also looking to incorporate into our program soon, for highschoolers in particular, is what kind of financial aid do you have available to you? How do you write a resume? If you don’t have any experience, how can you still own the room during an interview? Skills like that! If I could rewrite the syllabus of what’s taught in schools today, I totally would. But then again, this is why our programs exist; to really offer that alternative form of education and learning.

“Schools have said that they are not there to teach those values because parents do that. That frustrated me more than ever.”

Going back to the title of your organization, BeaYOUtiful, did you play around with that a little bit? How did that come about?

My slogan is, “I want every girl to look in the mirror and feel beautiful”. I started it in elementary schools because I feel that when you’re in high school, you may already have a negative view of yourself or your image, so why not introduce it earlier to prevent them from feeling that way once they reach that point? It’s simple and it sells itself. We cater to a younger demographic, and it’s easy to remember.

It’s super cute when you hear the girls say, “I am in the BeaYOUtiful Program”. They sound so confident, too!

Did you feel like you had all the skills necessary to build your organisation? 

It honestly was so organic. I sat down with my girlfriend who helped me bring it to life. Once we graduated we went our separate ways, but she always encouraged me to keep at it. I just had this idea and saw a need for it and I see it now more than ever that I’ve always had a love for entreprenurship. I’m such a passionate person and when I feel so deeply about something and want to help, I take action and I believe that’s what a lot of young girls feel like they can’t do. They feel they don’t have the right tools or resources, but for me, I thought, How can I take what I’ve learned in my life – from my mom especially, as she taught me so many values – and apply it to different modules?

My family dynamic is so strong and we celebrate life. I am always working on my acts of kindness and volunteering, and being able to travel opened my mind and way of thinking. I took all of these life lessons and arranged them into a lesson format. The first class we ever did, which spanned six weeks, is not much different to what we do now. I didn’t feel the need to alter much of it because after that first pilot course, we saw how well it worked and how it affected these girls. The girls were just so much more full of life, they built new friendships, and were confident. It wasn’t necessarily what we did, but more of the space we built for them. They felt safe and secure. It was a place of connection, and vulnerability was really celebrated.

“I’m such a passionate person and when I feel so deeply about something and want to help, I take action and I believe that’s what a lot of young girls feel like they can’t do.”

What has been your biggest hurdle throughout this entire journey? How did it affect you and how did you handle it?

The hardest thing was – and still is, sometimes – having that credibility. I’m not a teacher or a therapist. I had no degree or higher level of training when I started this. I was a student trying to do something positive and facilitate a class for young girls with zero certification, and that was hard to sell. I’m still working on my degree and even when I complete it, it’s actually not in psychology nor education, it’s in Communications.

“Why do you feel like you’re qualified?” I do feel like that’s always been the pressing question. We’ve definitely built our reputation up over the years, but for the first year, we were denied at several schools and couldn’t teach our course in the school we hoped to get in to.

We were told we didn’t have the prerequisites to teach and weren’t qualified. We were always asked, “How do you know what you’re teaching is valuable?” It took so much convincing. On our end, it took a lot of passion and dedication. I funded it all out of my own pocket for the first two years because I believed in what I was doing. It didn’t come easy, but the program itself developed through experience as well as the mentors’ experiences, and what I would’ve wanted to learn in school. I took all of that and applied it to the program.

We just want others to know that we aren’t trying to be therapists or teachers. We want to be sisters, because you cannot teach experience. At the end of the day, we’re teaching kindness, we’re teaching how to be expressive, and we encourage self love. I never learned that by going to university or college. I learned all of that by going through what I’ve gone through. That was the selling point, because they began to see that we weren’t out there to propose a teaching style similar to institutions that have been conducting classes since the 1950s. We were trying to  change the learning experience altogether. I won’t lie, it’s an ongoing battle, but now that we’ve been running for a few years we’re in a better position.

“BeaYOUtiful’s purpose is to change the learning experience all together.”

Girls want to be able to ask their questions without feeling scared. If someone is suffering from depression or anxiety, no offense, I dont think they want to talk to a 60 year old counsellor whom they met once at an assembly. They want someone they can sit with and feel comfortable with. Someone they can relate to. For us, it really is about making that space and if topics come up, we have mandates and protocols in place if we need to get schools, teachers or parents involved. Right now, these girls need a safe place where they can go.

How do you define success?

To me, the definition of success is happiness. If you’re constantly wanting to be better and striving for more, I think that’s an amazing quality. For myself, I always feel like it’s never enough. I accomplish one thing and immediately I’m like, now what? Sometimes, I need to take a step back, look at what I’ve accomplished, and celebrate that. If happiness for you is working a full time job with an apartment and a dog, whether married or single, then celebrate that!

I have so many friends who are globe trotters that don’t have a permanent address. That was me for a while, where I jumped back and forth, and that at the time was happiness to me. That was my own definition of success, being able to travel, learn and engage. Being truly happy and at peace with where you are doesn’t have to mean you don’t have goals you’re not working towards. If you can celebrate your health and who you have in your life, that’s success. I don’t see success in the form of money or hierarchy. You can have those goals for sure, but if you have your health and family and good people you’re constantly surrounded by, you’re doing just great!

“I don’t see success in the form of money or hierarchy. If you have good health, family and good people you’re constantly surrounded by, you’re doing just great!”

What are some sacrifices you needed to make to get to where you are right now and at the end of the day, what truly motivates you?

What truly motivates me? It’s the grind! 

I’m a full time student. I realised that if I wanted to run a business, I had to ask myself what I was willing to give up? And at this point, it’s time with friends. I’ve had to say no to going out so I can get work done. Setting up meetings takes away from family time. It’s all about balance, but for me, it’s being okay with working the extra job or going the extra mile to finish school so I can make my business flourish.

So I think the biggest sacrifice was accepting that I had to give up certain luxuries in order to have this business, but for me it was always worth it because I loved doing it. And that’s the thing, if you love whatever you’re working on, it doesn’t feel like work. I’m so focused, and excited to get things done. It’s a no-brainer. I do love to go out and have fun, but had to accept that it wasn’t going to be every single weekend any more.

I’ve talked to a lot of people who have been honest with me and said things like, “Your passion isn’t a career in this world that  makes a lot of money.” And that’s the reality.

I always think at the end of the day, can you see yourself being happy doing anything else? If the answer is no, then you’re in the right place at the right time of your life. You just have to sacrifice going on that extra vacation or by living in the suburbs as opposed to the city, or by picking up more shifts at the restaurant you work at.

My rule is to keep pursuing this project as long as I’m loving it and as soon as I fall out of love, move on. Life goes on. I just know that right now, I’m super happy.

Who is your biggest inspiration?

Oh that’s such an easy question, my Mom. It’s so funny because I get asked this all the time. I can cry in a second when talking about her! She is my world. Everything I’ve learned and everything I want to be, it’s due to her perspective. I feel like everything I’m saying here has come from my Mom. Growing up, that’s what I’d hear. “You are so fortunate. You are so blessed to be healthy. How grateful we are to be living this life. Appreciate it everyday.”

Just the other night we went for dinner and she said to me, “You’re in this new chapter of your own life, and I’m so happy for you. My heart is so full to see where you are.” I feel the same way about her. I’ve seen my parents transition into a new chapter where their kids are getting older and moving out. They’re the hardest working people I know, yet the “youngest” people I’ve ever met. They work crazy hours, but they love their jobs, and they celebrate! They really know how to balance life.

Family is everything for us. My mom is behind me on everything and has pushed me to elevate myself. She really believes in what I do.

Leaders In Heels is all about nurturing, inspiring and empowering female leaders. In your own opinion and off the top of your head, what are three qualities you think a Leader In Heels would naturally possess?

Number one, she is passionate. Two, she is fearless. She is not afraid to succeed nor fail. Three, she is a hard worker, but still stays true to herself.

For more information on Taylor and BeaYOUtiful, feel free to check out www.foreverbeayoutiful.com or follow their instagram: @beayoutiful_org or Taylor’s instagram: @taylorlinhui


In the Disney movie Mulan, the protagonist defeats the Huns because she accepts who she is: a girl who knows how to wield a sword as well as a fan. Mulan, as the Stevie Wonder and 98 Degrees credit song goes, stays “true to [her] heart.” In doing so, she saves China, receives recognition and respect from the nation’s citizens, and reunites with her family.

The analogy might seem a little juvenile, but there’s something to be said for staying true to what makes you who you are. If you want to champion workplace equality, you shouldn’t lock down your emotions or don a mask of masculinity.

You should embrace the skills, experiences, knowledge, and personality traits that shape who you are as a person. They set you apart from your colleagues and make you a strong leader capable of advancing in and improving the workplace. The following tips will show how you can use who you are to your advantage.

Assess Your Strengths and Weaknesses

Assess where your strengths and weaknesses lie. Mulan, for example, couldn’t climb a pole using her own strength, so she used her intelligence to figure out a way to shimmy up it. Follow her example.

Go a step further by taking a personality test. The test will reveal not only how you act but also why—and the why is a game changer. It helps you understand yourself as well as your responses to others.

You could pay oodles of money for a personality test, but if you’re on a budget, have no fear. Time, in collaboration with Cambridge University’s social sciences department, offers a Harry Potter personality quiz that gives you some decent insights into your behavior and skill set.

Be Confident

 “Be confident” probably comes across as trite advice, but confidence is needed to win in the workplace. Many women, however, tussle with the quality, and some admit the problem starts long before employment.

According to Girlguiding’s 2016 survey, roughly 74% of girls aged 7 to 10 feel confident and say “I can do anything if I try.” The percentage plummets to 40% for girls aged 17 to 21.

To bolster your confidence, return to your strengths and weaknesses. Remember what you’re good at and what you’ve accomplished. Celebrate those strengths and build on them. Honing an existing skill almost always leaves you feeling more confident and content.

Also create a circle of friends and mentors who support you as a person and a professional. They will encourage you when you lack confidence or make a mistake. Remember to rest and recharge, too. Lazing about for a while can be a good thing, so hush the voice that says you should be working and instead reading a book, watching a movie, or going for a hike.

Share Your Knowledge

 Susan L. Colantuono at Motto: Words to Live By says there are three keys to success—but we are only taught two of them. You probably already possess two of those keys—attaining greatness personally and helping others achieve greatness—since they relate to how you contribute to a company’s success and how you engage with others.

The third—creating and maintaining extraordinary outcomes—often receives little attention, which could be because it doesn’t cater to people who already understand that this skill leads to career advancement.

Because of that, develop your acumen in whatever industry you find yourself, and demonstrate it in business strategies and planning sessions. Showcasing your skills and sharing your knowledge can go a long way in helping you be successful in the workplace.

Become a Mentor

If you want to promote your leadership skills and devotion to the company without self-promotion, become a mentor. You may join a formal program, but informal mentee-mentor relationships work well too. Either way, motivating others to excel ensures everybody wins, a point noted by Nicole Fallon, a managing editor at Business News Daily.

Fallon shares that mentoring, both formally and informally, creates stronger workplace bonds, boosts confidence, encourages risk-taking, and establishes stronger listening skills. Mentoring can also increase workplace accountability and cause you to reevaluate long-held values and opinions. Basically, mentoring will likely stretch your skills and develop some new ones.

Be a Big Sibling

 Many people shy away from being aggressive because they fear being perceived as pushy. However, aggression operates perfectly when augmented with empathy. Josephine Fairley at The Telegraph calls the skill “constructive aggression” because it entails “having the chutzpah to move projects on when you find yourself pushing at closed doors.”

If you dislike the term “aggression”, think of the concept another way. You’re acting no different than a big sibling would. Big siblings, at least once they get past the teenage years, care about what their younger siblings think and do everything in their power to protect their siblings’ interests. So find out what your co-workers or employees care about, and use that knowledge to benefit your company.

Remember the Elephant

 Women also sometimes feel they need to act more like men in the workplace, but that seems downright silly. You are unique, possessing a blend of skills, experiences, and attributes no one else does. Maybe you are more sensitive than the guy sitting next to you at the conference table. More power to you. The workplace needs people who can empathize with and relate to others.

However, that sensitive nature can get you into trouble if you forget the elephant. “Elephants,” explains Jessica Miller-Merrell at Workology, “may be sensitive souls, but they have incredibly thick skin. Nothing can penetrate it, not even a snide or passive-aggressive comment from a co-worker or colleague.” Miller-Merrell also encourages people to think about time and place—that is, there is a time and a place for emotional fallout, but it rarely occurs inside the boardroom.

Be Water, Not a Rock

When Caroline Beaton, Forbes contributor, spoke with human resources (HR) managers, recruiters, and CEOs, she discovered they increasingly look for people with a combination of required technical skills and desired soft skills.

Some of those skills hold as standards. Things like communication and collaboration continue to be important. However, Beaton’s interviewees share other skills described as “under-discussed, rare, and essential in the modern workforce.”

Beaton’s research covers four soft skills, but the one to note here is agility, sometimes used in place of flexibility or adaptability. This skill asks you to be water and relates to, as Beaton says, “the ability to overcome.”

You possess that skill. You’ve overcome many obstacles to get to where you are today. But you likely didn’t reach that point by being a rock. No, you acted more like a wave of water, staying still or crashing with fury as needed. Remember and continue to harness that ability as you lead in the workplace.

Develop Your Problem-Solving Ability

 Both LinkedIn and Monster report a need for employees who think critically and solve problems creatively. Bloomberg’s 2016 Job Skills Report uses terms like “strategic thinking” and “analytical thinking,” noting recruiters target people who possess them.

Employers desire employees who reason through difficult situations and devise solutions to them. They don’t want to hire automatons, nor do they want to babysit new employees. They want independent thinkers who align with the company’s goals.

To develop your problem-solving skill, and it is one that requires regular exercise to get stronger and more habitual, practice close observation during routine activities, such as driving to work or exercising at the gym. Also think before you speak and consider an issue and try to see it from a multitude of angles. Then, share a couple of solutions and back them up with data and patterns of behavior. Doing so not only demonstrates your knowledge but also increases your value to the company.


If you want to kill it at work while staying true to who you are, find out what your heart says. Determine your strengths and weaknesses. Once you know them, you will be equipped to either reinforce or develop the skills needed to advance in the workplace and make a positive difference in co-workers’ and colleagues’ lives.

 

shea-drake

Shea Drake is a writer in Salt Lake City where she enjoys all things related to tech, personal development, photography, and becoming a better leader. A firm believer in that everyone is the master of their fate, she writes on how to emphasize your strengths without completely changing who you are. You can find more of her writings and thoughts on Twitter @SheaDrakePhoto.


Just as we think things are running smoothly – bang! One of life’s road-bumps comes crashing in from nowhere, and we find ourselves agonising over difficult new choices. To make matters worse, we know that any decision we make will also have a run-on effect for those close to us.

Unless we lock ourselves away from the world, blips on the radar will be as predictable as breathing. Why is it, then, that as common as these bumps are, we’re not taught techniques for managing them? Without an efficient process to follow, it’s just too easy to get lost in their distracting whirlpool of stress and emotional upheaval.

Here are seven tips for seeing life’s tough decisions through new and empowered eyes – in fact, to play them like a chess game and win!

Anticipate

Obstacles and their challenging new choices can throw us off-kilter, especially when they blindside us. It helps to expect their appearance. Try being on the ready, prepared to welcome, accept, and embrace whatever it is that pops up. When it does, your response has a better chance to be more objective and far less emotional.

Reframe

This term refers to putting a more positive spin on the situation. Instead of perceiving a pending decision as an obstacle, try seeing it as an opportunity for positive change. That shift in thinking will dramatically transform the quality of your emotions around the problem. With this mindset, you can move directly to the ‘how’- “How can I turn this issue into positive change?” This productive thinking will serve to move you AWAY from any tendency to procrastinate or mope, and TOWARD problem solving and strategic decision-making.

Leverage

However you choose to ‘perceive’ your obstacle, there is no doubt that its existence will throw a significant amount of emotional turmoil into your days. The stress, frustration or impatience you may initially feel can be tapped in a productive way. Use it as a driving force to explore the issue and as fuel to create an effective resolution.

Envision

One of the most powerful ways to create a happy ending is to take time right up front to imagine the very best possible end result – to become crystal clear about what you want to see as an outcome. The picture of this after-effect of your new decisions must be vivid and in full detail, so that you have something specific to move toward. See it as if you’re watching a movie.

Plan

Working off the back of your newly formulated vision, you’re ready to become strategic, so reverse engineer, from your envisioned end result. Imagine… What were the things you did to get there? What decisions did you make along the way? Who did you involve? What were the action steps you took? From this vantage point you can create a realistic plan and prepare for real-time action.

Take Action

Depending on the nature of the decision you have to make, the action steps may be quick and easy or long and involved. Either way, hold onto your plan like you would a flagpole in a big wind. It will ground you to a focus on your desired outcome and keep you from spinning emotionally, especially if you’re caught up in a particularly complex situation.

Bask!

And now, bask in the glow of the success of your final decision and the rewards of your envisioning, planning and action.  Whether you worked through a small or complex issue, you accomplished a resolution and you can relax in knowing that you’re prepared to manage the next one with relative ease – life is good!


Muffy Churches is a Sydney-based executive coach, speaker, and leadership specialist. She is director of Beyond Focal Point, and author of ‘COACH Yourself’ (2016). Find out more at www.muffychurches.com


You went to university, picked a course, got the degree and now you’ve been working for a while… but for some reason, your job isn’t quite satisfying. You want to do something more, something different, but it all seems so overwhelming.

Or perhaps you’ve taken some time off from work—time for yourself, or time for children. Now you’re ready to return, but it’s nerve-wracking given all the time away. Is that job you used to do still what you want to do? Does it accommodate the changes in your life?

It won’t be easy, and it will require dedication and determination, but you can start working towards the career you want today.

Know what you want

What is it that excites you? Would it make you jump out of bed in the morning? We all have a big list of things we enjoy doing, but not all of those will inspire you enough to keep at them when things get tough.

Whatever it is you choose to you, it must align with your core values, and be something you would still want to do—even if you never had to work another day in your life. If you need some guidance, download our free Passion Discovery printables for exercises to find what gives your life its spark!

Decide what to sacrifice

Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Time is limited, and so is your energy. What will you choose to stop doing, so that you have time to start doing whatever it is that will get you to the career you want?

This could be anything from cutting down on weekly breakfast out with friends, foregoing movie night, taking one less fitness class a week, or even pushing dinner duties to your significant other. The important thing is that you set aside time to work on creating your future.

Skill up

It seems obvious, and there’s no getting around it—you’ll need to gain or develop the skills you need to pursue your passion. Not only do you need the technical skills in the field, as well as leadership skills, but if you’re planning on running your own side-hustle, you also need the business skills.

Thankfully, in this day and age, there are lots of options available. For example, Southern Cross University offers many 100% online courses, which enable you to study at your own time and pace, even while you continue to work. They also provide a dedicated Student Success Advisor, who is there to support you from start to finish.

An MBA online course is perfect for those looking to grow as leaders and managers, and understand business fundamentals. It’s one of the most affordable MBAs in Australia and has flexible entry and exit options. This means you can stop your studies at certain points throughout the degree, yet still earn a postgraduate certificate or diploma.

Network even before you begin

Don’t wait until you’ve started to network. Go to relevant industry events while you’re still in the planning or dreaming stage, and get chatting! There are people at these events who’ve already walked the path you’re about to embark on, so there are opportunities to glean some great advice. If you’re truly passionate about what you want to do, these people will be able to see that–and respond.

You might also come across others in the same place as you, who are starting out and are as new and unsure as you. Don’t dismiss them, because it’s invaluable to have others to share the journey with. They’re amazing support; they’ll be going through similar highs and lows, and will be as hungry as you to make it.

Stay determined

No one ever said it was going to be easy. Changing direction, learning new skills and pushing your mind to work in new and different ways will always be challenging. There’ll be days where you wonder what possessed you to take this journey, and days where you want to give up. But the important thing is to keep pushing. Every time you fail, get up and keep going. That’s how wars are won—and there’s no more important war than the one for your future!

 

This article was created in partnership with Southern Cross University.


There is a fine line between confidence and ego. Sometimes the line can be blurred. It can feel thin and and wobbly, requiring one to adopt balancing tricks as if walking along the tight rope without the safety net. Here’s the difference: Ego acts as a repellent, while confidence draws people in like a magnet. Leaders need to build and exude confidence while keeping their ego in check at all costs.

As human beings, we are attracted to confidence. The deeply-felt kind that inspires us to follow great leaders to the end of the earth. Yet, if you cross the line and go one shade darker, you often find it becomes ego instead of confidence.

Today, technology has created the age of the ego. It’s easy to create an ideal-looking life on social media. We post the most exciting moments enhanced with filters that make our reality seem better and brighter to the outside world. At the same time, we peek into the lives of others, seeing only the curation of their best parts. We draw comparisons that amplify our ego in a toxic way.

As Theodore Roosevelt eloquently noted, comparison becomes the thief of joy. When you believe that you can do something, are clear about what you are good at, and fully aware of what’s outside your control, you exude confidence. When we tip to over-confidence, our abilities can potentially leave ourselves vulnerable to unforeseen blows. Ego denies the possibility of failure and creates a sense of entitlement to success. Unrealistic expectations are defined and a naïve and unwarranted certainty about outcomes presents itself. Ultimately ego disconnects us from ourselves and the people around us.

Have you ever met a leader who oozes confidence when they walk their talk? Their actions speak louder, they are transparent in their thinking and are here to serve. On the flip side, have you ever been caught up in a leader’s a path of destruction, when the sense of self is inflated, and they disregard others and dismiss new ideas? Sadly,what they know is the end of all knowledge in the universe. They limit possibilities and humility goes out the window.

Deepak Chopra, the spiritual leader, says it well: “The ego relies on the familiar. It is reluctant to experience the unknown, which is the very essence of life.”

We know by nature that the ego separates. Look at conflict, the mentality of one person having to win. Leaders start to falter when egos drive their sense of entitlement, and they behave in a certain way towards others. Decisions are justified and they adopt a “better-than-them” mentality.

When leader’s behavior and attitude separates them from others, few people want to be around them. They emanate a “battle” mentality or justify incredibly selfish decisions. An attitude born of competition, comparison and manipulation is potent.

No one is immune to ego. Stepping into a conscious confidence awakens your ability to quieten your mind as needed, acknowledges presence without the social media feeds, and it serves to the whole, not to the selected few. It brings a unified “everybody matters” approach.

How do you know if a leader is confident or powered by ego? Let me share with you 11 ways you can be sure.

Relaxed eye contact

A person powered by ego does not really look at you nor engage at a soulful level. They are busy looking around for the next person to talk to about how incredibly extraordinary they are. A confident person will be present in conversation, make it all about you and will maintain a warm engagement with their eyes focused on you.

If you are not green and growing, you are dying

When we stop learning, business suffers.

Continuous learning as a leader is imperative. Have you ever come across the leader who knows it all? As if now they’ve hit the seniority threshold, there’s no need to learn any more. It’s beneath them. Warning bells should be going off at this point. When we stop learning, business suffers. It’s time for a check-in with the ego to see where we are at, rather than assuming all is good and well.

Confidence is the driver, ego is in the boot

Whether you are creating a new strategic plan, reviewing the last financial plan or plotting your next career move, you should constantly be looking for ways to improve. To stretch your thinking, expand your knowledge and broaden your toolbox. You should be delving in to explore improvements, how to strengthen yourself and your business in the next 12 months and to explore the lessons, feedback and learning is part of the continual growth process. Be cautious that the boot doesn’t open and prevent you from stepping into the inner journey of self-reflection.

Wear a visibility cloak

Don’t assume you have all the answers. You don’t.  Being a strong leader means being able to seek out and use input from a wide spectrum of people. Leaders driven by ego stop listening. They stop seeking feedback. When you start to believe you are invincible, you ultimately fail. Move the ego out of the way and allow yourself to lead with a quiet confidence.

Don’t assume you have all the answers. You don’t.

Being the lone ranger

Initiative is a leadership capability. When starting off a business or transitioning into a new role, taking ownership of leading your success is critical. Business rewards results.  Building a team breeds collaboration and creates success. What can often happen is we get caught up with “having to do it all” as no one can do it as good as you. Ask for help, partner with like-minded people and delegate or outsource to allow you to amplify what you do best. Move the ego to the side.

Vulnerability is strength

Imperfection opens the door for healthy discussions and pro-active change.

Resourceful and functional leaders openly admit mistakes, share experiences and their learning. Imperfection opens the door for healthy discussions and pro-active change.

Create communication architecture

Seeking different viewpoints, engaging with those at the front line and deeply listening, creates a solution-focused platform. Nothing matters more than fostering a culture that values seeking out the voices of others before a decision is made. Joel Gascoigne, the founder of Buffer, pro-actively engages people who will be most affected by any potential change to enable them to be part of solving the challenge. Nothing fosters harmony like a “we”-centric approach. His method of open sharing with full context creates an environment where all contribute to the solution and changes are more fully embraced.

Cleaning the toilet is necessary sometimes

In the corporate world, often the higher the ladder is climbed, the potential for ego to magnify is a real threat. There is an unspoken ego-driven rule that certain tasks are now beneath you, as you have paid your dues. I remember recently speaking at an event and there was a shortage of crew members. Whilst I had some time in between my speaking moment, I assisted by loading and unloading the dishwasher. As small as my contribution may have been, sometimes you need to get back into the trenches and be a decent professional human being.

Maintain an ego barometer

Sometimes, leaders are the problem. They can scare people away, they can lack the skills necessary to build sustainable relationships and as they value themselves more than others, giving them feedback would be like pouring kerosene down their throat and lighting it up. When interviewing others and your barometer is hitting the flashing red sirens, trust your internal compass and do not hire. Being confident is an asset, being egotistical is soul-destroying.

When your belief is delusional, ego has taken over

Nobody wants to work with someone who lacks empathy, is arrogant to the point of being unable to receive any feedback and sacrifices others to benefit themselves. It’s impossible to repair relationships, the quality of work decreases and both people and business are compromised. Ryan Holiday’s book, Ego is the Enemy, shows that while confidence enables one to strive forward and reach new heights, ego can be detrimental. Steven Jobs was a genius. He revolutionized computing and created an iconic brand. However, by a number of accounts, his ego made him so impossible to work with that he was eventually forced out.

People first

Leaders create leaders. They place their staff before anything else. When you care about your people you create a human-centered business. Success is based on collective growth and extraordinary results. Ego-driven leaders put their own needs about everyone else. When was the last time you expressed your gratitude to your team, your leaders, your people?


When you value people, they reciprocate. When you invest and believe in your people, they will rise to the occasion. When you don’t invest and believe in your people, they will also rise to the occasion. You decide who will lead. Confidence or ego.

 

Angela Kambouris is a highly-valued leadership coach and business leader having spent over 20 years in the field of vulnerability and trauma. She is super-passionate about unlocking human potential to deliver extraordinary results and has spoken on stages and worked with thousands of people in the areas of self-development, leadership, mindset, human behavior and business.  She has master-minded with leaders and expert authorities in personal development and business all over the world.


Every single day we are faced with a number of choices. From simple choices like what to have for breakfast and what to wear to work to bigger and more complicated choices that affect our lifestyles and our loved ones. Since making a choice or having to make a choice is always going to be a part of our lives, it is in our best interest to master it. Let me share with you five tips to making any choice in life and work like a boss.

1. Think of the outcome

Contrary to a popular belief, I’ve learned that one of the initial steps to making the right choice is to think of the outcome that we would like after making the choice instead of writing and comparing pros and cons on a piece of paper. Why? Because each pros and cons is subjective. For example, we might be faced with the option of whether to choose cereal or hash brown for breakfast. Both are equally bad for health and equally tasty. In this case, writing a pros and cons list is not going to help us make the right decision. However, if we think about the outcome we want after eating our breakfast, which, for example, is to feel fuller for a longer period of time, then the right choice is hash brown. Similarly, in our work life, we might be faced with having to make a choice between two job offers; the one that pays more vs. the other with a better career path.  Based on what outcome we would like to achieve and what we consider important to us, we can make the decision that is right for us.

2. Apply past learnings and experiences

We are always encouraged to learn from our experiences in the past. There is no better time to apply our learnings than when making a choice. So for example, if we had made a similar decision before, then we should think back and reflect on the choice that we made. Was it a good choice? Could we have done better? Whatever we have learnt then, we can apply now.

3. Have default options

I am a strong believer in the phrase the less we have to do (for things that don’t matter), the more we can do (for things that matter). That’s why having default options that I always choose for certain circumstances work wonders for me. For example, my default option for coffee is skim flat white, my default choice for hairstyle is bob and so on. Our brains are great at making the same choice effortlessly after enough practice, which is why women always go to ladies toilet and men go to mens without having to think twice or think at all.

4. Know the difference between urgent and important

An urgent decision is something we need to make immediately, for example, when we get into a lift, we need to press which level we would like to go right away. An important decision is something that we need to consider thoroughly, usually after analysing, gathering and processing facts. With this type decision, we may need to sleep on it to ensure we are not rushing into something. For example, if we are thinking of buying a property then we will need to perform adequate due-diligence before choosing which property to purchase. Then there are both urgent and important choices which call for immediate and impactful decisions. And then we have non urgent and non important decisions, which are simply not worth fussing over. Knowing what type of choice or decision that we are making will help us make the best decision for each circumstance.

5. Think outside the box

Just because we are given choices, it doesn’t mean we must choose one of them. Maybe we can choose both; have your cake and eat it too. Or maybe we do not want to choose any, but come up with our own option. Or maybe we decide that we don’t need to do anything at all. One thing to bear in mind though is that we don’t want to be a rebel without a cause but we want to be curious and innovative leaders who inspire ourselves and others with choices that we make.

So there you have it, five practical and helpful tips on how to make any choice in life and work. The next time you are making a decision, I hope you think of the steps above and make the right choice with ease and confidence.  Do share with us if you have got any tips that have worked for you in making right decisions.

About the author

Ei Sabai Nyo is a highly innovative and award-winning web technologist and people manager with over 15 years industrial experience in the Internet and web development industry.  She is also a co-founder of an Internet start up, Sale The World.   She is passionate about start ups, entrepreneurship and personal and career development.