Tana found a way to support peace in the world and find her own fit at the same time. Read about her inspiring leap from executive to heart-centered entrepreneur.
Please share your story… what was your leap?
Eight years ago I decided to leave my executive job at BC Hydro and put my passion for business and leadership development together. I knew I wanted to do something to help people develop their individual potential and that I wanted to do something that would make a difference. So I started my company Authentic Leadership Global™.
I had moved from Vancouver to the US in the early 2000’s to take a job with my ideal company, the Balanced Scorecard Collaborative – one founder is Robert Kaplan, of Harvard University. It was a great experience but ultimately left me burnt out . When I was in the US consulting, my dad asked me one day, “Where are you going on that ladder?” which really illustrated the chase I’d been on. It gave me perspective in the moment – my career was providing a great deal of outward success but wasn’t providing what I really wanted. So I returned to Vancouver, and ended up on the Executive Leadership Team at BC Hydro.
What inspired you to take this leap?
I kept taking on more in my job, and I didn’t realize I was a “raving” introvert. A colleague told me one day that I looked like I had the weight of the world on my shoulders, which annoyed me greatly when she said it, though I ultimately realized she was right. Three days later I gave notice that I’d be leaving my job.
Of course that was on the heels of 20 years of personal development work so I can’t say it was just that comment that made me leap. Many years ago when I was a criminology student in university I worked in a women’s shelter because I wanted to help end violence against women. Working on the front line made me realize there was a better way for me to contribute. It just took me a few years to figure out exactly how I was best suited to help.
What is it that made this a leap for you?
Leaving an executive position to become a Coach and reinvent myself was a big shift. I initially swung pretty far into the mindset of “business is bad, spirituality is good” so it took a couple of years to get clear on my identity and find my path. I didn’t know who I was if I wasn’t an executive (“who am I if not the suit?”), so it took me some time to find that out.
How long would you say you thought about taking this leap before you did it?
The actual leap was very quick.
As soon as I woke up, I knew I needed to act.
The build up to the leap took two decades of personal growth. I have a very supportive husband, which helped me feel safe to make the jump to discover the “newly evolved Tana”.
If you thought about it for a while first, what changed that allowed you to take action?
I knew I wanted to do my part in the world, and had been dancing around it for many years. I found my home at New Ventures West when I did my coach training there. This was before I left my job but it helped me see my path to create the change I wanted in the world. As my brother Michael pointed out to me one day “When you say you are going to do something, you just do it. It may take 10 years, and you just do it”. Once I knew I needed to act, I did.
What was the hardest part before you took the leap? Was anything challenging after you did it?
Having conversations with people about my plans, having them see me differently than my identity as an executive. I was worried I would let people down by choosing this path. I felt that I was abandoning what my mentors had wanted for me, what my husband thought he was getting when we married. I was worried he would feel like he didn’t end up with what he signed up for.
After the leap pretty much everything was challenging! I thought I had to be aggressive to sell what I was doing. It was also difficult to believe in what I was doing at times. Finding clients that were aligned with what I wanted to deliver was initially difficult as well.
How did you keep yourself motivated to stick with the change as it was happening?
Ultimately I want to support peace in the world, so every day I feel a renewed energy to support that.
When I can help others see the business benefit of being kind to each other, when I can help a person choose her/his way to help in the world, then I’m doing the right work. I want to be around people who inspire me to be better.
It took a few years to see the longer-term impact of what I’m doing, to get the testimonials from clients about how the work helped them over time. I knew we were creating something special so I was able to stick with it. This work feeds my soul so strongly; I know this is the right path. This is the work I will do for the rest of my life.
What was the best part of the experience?
The best part is when someone opens up a new possibility and finds hope in a way they haven’t in a long time. The bully who doesn’t know how not to be a bully and then learns. The person who is lost in her/his career and doesn’t know what will bring them meaning in the next chapter. The leader who wants to create a great environment for his/her team. I love seeing men and women work together in a way that demonstrates vulnerability and creates hope.
Looking back at the leap you made, is there anything you’d do differently if you were doing it again?
I would have stayed in my corporate job part-time for a few years as I made the change. I tend to make things all or nothing but sometimes there’s a middle ground. If you can have something that allows the new life to evolve organically without financial pressure, that would be the way to go. It has taken me eight years to get the company where I want it. Because of that, if I were doing it again I would consider my family’s needs more, not only my own.
What did you learn about yourself from taking this leap? About the world around you, if anything?
A gazillion things! Many layers of the onion have surfaced since I left. I didn’t like myself for a long time when I was younger, and now I have finally found where I fit. I’m doing what I love and I have more inner peace now. Ultimately I guess I learned that I am a good person and that what I’m doing has meaning and helps others.
If you had to describe what making this leap has done for you in one sentence, what would you say?
It has given me back myself and allowed me to live as who I am more of the time.
I’m a former chameleon who made myself fit wherever I was but this has allowed me to see where I truly fit and to stand in my truth.
Is there anything else you want to share about your experience?
I’m grateful to be asked and to showcase the possibility of what can happen when we take leaps in our lives. I believe that if we choose to be, we’re all on this journey together. We may think that we’re alone, but we’re not. This work is so needed, so if you have any calling to be of service in the world, please start today!
Tana is a thoughtleader, author, keynote speaker and facilitator in the area of Authentic Leadership and Emotional Intelligence. You can get in touch with her at www.LeadAuthentic.com or on twitter at @LeadAuthentic.