That’s right. I’m a space invader and proud of it. Know why?

As a mindful leadership coach, my job is to help you translate this principle into real career success.

The formula is simple.

Through books, a membership site, speaking engagements, and a weekly blog/podcast, I will challenge you to up your game at work by clarifying your values and then making “small” choices each day with intention.

Yep. That’s it.

And when you REALLY understand this concept— I mean when you r-e-a-l-l-y begin to apply it to your life with conviction—let’s just say “Get ready” because everything changes in the most core-shaking, mind-blowing, universally transformational ways. I know that sounds like hyperbole. Too good to be true. Not to mention, who am I to be making this kind of claim. I get it.

So I want to share with you how I came to this work and, specifically, how mindfulness helped me shed some (very) bad habits and discover my stronger, centered, more focused self. (You don’t want a coach who hasn’t tested this stuff, right?) Well, here you go.

Basically, I’m the definition of a Gen X, latchkey, only child.

Raised by a single, working father, my earliest memory is sitting on my living room floor, totally engrossed in the wedding of Prince Charles and Princess Diana. I remember being in the house alone, which wasn’t unusual, but – in hindsight – it kinda was.

The year was 1981 and I was four years old.

Don’t worry. No tissues needed.

I grew up in a loving environment, but it’s no surprise that I work in careers since I learned the ripple effect they can have on a family very young.

With my dad, I was aware that he wanted to give me more than he could. I watched him constantly stress over money and then – when I was eight years old – I remember when he lost his job. Thankfully, he landed in a new position pretty quick, but I’d be lying if I said we weren’t scared.

Annnnd then there’s my mom. My mother never really had a career and, as a result, she hasn’t always had options. When she was younger, being financially dependent led her to stay with abusive men and feel trapped in situations that didn’t serve her.

That’s putting it mildly.

And while I’m happy to report she did find love and happiness for almost two decades with my stepdad – tragedy struck when he drove to his job as a bridge painter one morning, got out of his car, and collapsed of a heart attack. He was gone in an instant and – with no job, no resume, and no real savings to fall back on – I’ve watched my mother struggle too.

I’ve watched as she moved out of her home. I’ve watched as she took $8-an-hour positions she hated. And, more recently, I’ve watched as she waits…..and waits…..and waits…..for medical tests she needs but, with no insurance, she doesn’t always get.

Again, this is not a sob story.

I know how blessed I am – but it doesn’t change the fact that the first ten years of my career were a hot mess of drive and anxiety, and so I want you to know where it came from.

Because when I tell people that I tripled my starting salary during that time or – less impressive – that I was emailing publishers to pitch my first book just hours after delivering my first child – most assume my motivation was greed.

Not at all. It was fear.

On one hand, my deeeeeeply imbedded need for security and independence had me grasping relentlessly for that elusive next level and always reaching for more.

More success. More money. More respect. More impact.

And, of course, I wanted it all immediately.

On the other hand, the further I got into my career, the more unimpressed I became with the sacrifices required achieve those things.

I couldn’t fathom extended absences from my family – at a business dinner once I was horrified to learn it was my boss’ 16th consecutive night away from home – and I hated the subtle, yet omnipresent competition among my colleagues for sales and plum assignments. I certainly wasn’t looking to lean out of my career, but the view from the corner office wasn’t so hot either – at least not at the price my coworkers were paying for it.

Enter Mindfulness.

So, feeling slightly defeated, one day I simply quit my corporate job and went on a massive ambition detox. I traded in my business books for self-help guides, and my pencil skirts for yoga pants. Of course, my stiff-suited, hyper-caffinated friends rebelled.“Good grief Emily, when did you become….. a hippie?”And while that wasn’t the description I would have used, I knew something wonderful was happening.

All of a sudden, “life” wasn’t about everything I’d been killing myself to achieve someday… it was about the moments right in front of me I had been too busy or too stressed out to notice. In other words, by giving up my constant brooding about how to manipulate the future, I opened up a ton of mental bandwidth to fully live in the present.

Stay with me here because this is much deeper than woo-woo soul searching.

Although there was some of that.

By making moment-by-moment choices in alignment with who I wanted to be instead of getting hooked into the same old self-destructive habits, I not only freed myself from the crippling anxiety and comparison traps that had plagued me throughout my career – but I was less angry, less victim-y, a much better parent, and finally able to shed an eating disorder I’d carried around since college.

Still…. even though I was totally diggin’ my new perspective in a head-smacking why-didn’t-anyone-tell-me-this-before kind of way, it didn’t take long before I needed to get back to work. Not because I had bills to pay – although that was certainly true. I needed to get back to work because I love to work.I love being part of a team, helping others, creating things, free coffee, the smell of office supplies, and, yes, my dusty stash of business books.So hello to more pencil skirts…and hello to a new challenge.

How was I going to incorporate mindfulness into my career
without falling right back into the negative patterns that weighed me down before?
For starters, how was I supposed to “let go” of the future and stay driven at the same time? How was I supposed to “be loving” and “forgive” at work without being a total doormat? And while we’re at it, how was I possibly supposed to keep my “high-level energy flowing” when surrounded by low-energy people?I mean, of course it’s easy to feel good rockin’ some vinyasa in the woods– but I was used to spending 9-hours a day in a building where the usual elevator chat was what floor is serving donuts and how close it is to Friday.Insert proverbial “A-ha”, light bulb, Newtonian apple moment.

True to mindfulness, I was going to approach my career one tiny choice – made in the space between stimulus and response – at a time.

To be honest, while I HAD a corporate career, I’d been writing and speaking ABOUT careers as a side-gig the whole time and – even though I’m proud of all my work – the concept of mindfulness was waaaaay deeper, way more fulfilling and, I’m somewhat embarrassed to admit, way more effective than anything I’d ever taught up to that point.

Suddenly I realized I needed to, literally, preach what I was practicing.

So… I committed myself to carrying the centuries-old message of mindfulness to professional women seeking a new level of career success – one that’s not only based on how high you go, but how well you live and the lives you touch along the way.

Less motion. More meaning.

Microsoft UBS Young Presidents’ Organization 85 Broads
Pennsylvania Conference for Women Society for Human Resource Management
National Association of Colleges and Employers University of Pittsburgh
West Virginia University Professional Business Women of California Cisco
And since you’ve read this far, why stop now?

If you want to dip your toe into mindful leadership, subscribe to the weekly blog.

But if you really want to dive in and experience radical shifts in the way you lead and live first-hand, I invite you to join our global, amazing community of professional women in Awake Exec™.

Either way, I promise you will love this space.

P.S. The launch of my book, Who Says It’s a Man’s World, was the first time I actually told the (real) story of why I do this work. I tried not to cry. (Fail.)