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Aww Shift

Jan 23, 2024

In today’s episode, our guest is Amina Al Tai.Our guest today has overcome life challenges, including a moment where she was told she might not make it. She made crucial adjustments, moving from avoidance to a deeper sense of purpose. Her success journey is now focused on teaching others to find genuine fulfillment in life, beyond just financial success. 

[2:33] Why should I listen to you? 

One thing I thoroughly enjoy is approaching conversations with curiosity. If I were to engage with you, I'd likely pose numerous questions – after all, who doesn't appreciate being asked? Initiating a dialogue in this way feels disarming, fostering a connection by delving deeper into understanding and connecting with someone.

[3:00] Where did you get that curiosity from though? 

 The story is quite intriguing, and I'm sure many people can relate to it. I am of mixed heritage, being half Iraqi and half Welsh, born in London, and raised in New Jersey. In my family, my older sister faced significant health challenges, dealing with type one diabetes. Consequently, I had to become exceptionally self-sufficient and take care of my younger sisters. As a sort of coping mechanism, I found solace in eating my emotions. This led to me living my childhood in a larger body, and I frequently received comments about being too heavy, clinically obese, and the need to lose weight. In response, I developed an overcompensation strategy. I decided to cultivate a sparkling personality, aiming to be the most charming person in the room. I buried myself in academics, determined to excel in school so that people would notice me and acknowledge my worth. This coping mechanism, born out of my circumstances and body image, became a performance that I carried into my professional life. This approach served me well for a while until it didn't. I took my strong work ethic into the workplace, pushing myself to the point of burnout and developing two autoimmune diseases. Working 70-80 hour weeks became the norm, until one day, my doctor called and urged me not to go to work but to head to the emergency room. I was just days away from multiple organ failure. This incident was a wake-up call, highlighting how my childhood programming had set me up for dysfunction in my later years.

[5:30] What did you learn from that experience? 

 I appreciate the concept of the "stop moment" or the shift in perspective, that moment when the universe intervenes, signaling a need for change. Initially, I resisted my doctor's advice and went to work that day, dismissing the severity of the situation. It's quite surreal to reflect on that time and see it as a window into my programming and how I was navigating life. Sure thing! I really love what I call the "stop moment" or that shift when the universe says, "Hey, what you're doing needs to change." So, on that day, my doctor told me not to go to work, but I shrugged it off, thinking it couldn't be that serious. I went to work anyway. Looking back, it's wild because it offers a glimpse into how I was wired at that time. Eventually, I acknowledged that my doctor was probably right, and I needed to see someone. I found myself at a crossroads: continue down my current path, which might not lead to a longer life, or choose a different way. I chose the latter and assembled a medical team. Alongside that, I sought coaching, realizing that everything I thought I knew about life wasn't working for me. Coaching was a game-changer and, honestly, a lifesaver. That's why I became a coach – it revealed the stories I held about myself, work, success, life, and worthiness that needed a deep rewrite.

 [7:00] Before we delve deeper, what exactly do you do? 

 In simple terms, I'm a business and career coach, but I like to think of myself as a holistic leadership and mindset coach. My approach is holistic because my own pivotal moments taught me the importance of a multidisciplinary approach to our work and lives. My coaching covers mindset, well-being, and even touches on social justice because I find it crucial. I adopted this multidisciplinary approach because relying on a single lane or lens didn't work for me. I realized the significance of taking care of my well-being to show up fully, understanding that nourishment serves as a conduit to clarity. Working on my mindset was essential to approaching work differently. I also recognized the need for specific tools and tactics in how I showed up in my business or career, determining whether I thrived or not.

[8:25] What are the things that you have experienced, and as a result, developed a deep appreciation for?

 What you've asked is truly profound, and it perfectly resonates with some of the most difficult moments in my life. To be clear, I don't necessarily want to relive those moments daily, but I wouldn't trade them because they've been valuable teachers. The pause in time, as challenging as it was, altered the course of my life, leading to the career I have today. Losing my grandfather in 2018, my father figure, was incredibly painful, the most significant loss I've faced. Yet, I wouldn't undo it, as the depth of that grief allows me to empathize and guide others through similar experiences. Despite not wanting to embrace these moments daily, I cherish the lessons they've imparted.

[13:55] What are some of the ups and downs you've had to face?

 My career initially started in marketing and brand management, which I pursued until a pivotal moment prompted me to return to school. There, I delved into coaching, nutrition, mindfulness, and movement, seeking personal well-being. With newfound knowledge, I envisioned creating a corporate wellness company to share these insights and prevent others from hitting rock bottom. Despite apparent success, delivering a talk at a top consulting firm left me in tears, questioning the authenticity of my path. It became clear that I had compartmentalized my identity into "business Amina" and "wellness Amina." This prompted a shift, realizing the need to integrate all aspects of myself. The experience taught me the importance of embracing evolution, as fixating on a singular dream can set us up for failure. We are always becoming, continuously refining our journey.

[16:22] How can someone recognize they've reached that point? 

I believe there are a few recurring themes. Frustration is one—I've experienced deep frustration. Bitterness is another theme. Resentment is present when the morning struggle to pursue our desires arises. That, to me, is a significant indicator. As you mentioned, having the ability to decide, "I'm going to start this business," is a form of privilege. However, we can make subtle shifts to experience more ease. I often encourage people to engage with their genius. Everyone has different zones of genius. In corporate roles, we often operate outside of our genius, leading to frustration. If making a drastic change isn't feasible, ask yourself, "How can I spend an extra 10 minutes today in my zone of genius? What about 20 more minutes?" Over time, this shift can transform frustration into a sense of flow. So, even if we're dealing with the signature themes of frustration, bitterness, resentment, and anger, there are ways to make gradual improvements 

[17:40] How did you navigate these experiences? 

A common challenge I observe in my clients when it comes to embracing personal growth is the fear of losing loved ones. It's a deeply human emotion, rooted in our instinct as social beings. The notion that growth might lead to losing people is daunting, making some opt to stay where they are. However, addressing your initial question, I believe it's a balance. I've invested a significant amount of time in individual work because, often, we rely on others to guide us, asking coaches or healers for advice. Yet, our inner wisdom is profound, and those external figures serve as mirrors. It's about finding the right people who ask the right questions and reflect back to us. It's also crucial to spend enough time with ourselves to discern our voice from others'.

[20:05] How do you introduce these ideas that may seem somewhat abstract to them but, at a deeper level, address the core issues you perceive they're facing?

A wise individual once shared with me the importance of selling what people want while delivering what they truly need. In my discussions with others, I acknowledge their desires for promotions, raises, business ventures, and financial success. However, it's crucial to recognize that these aspirations are intricately linked to our mindset and spiritual growth. They are not mutually exclusive but interconnected. To chart our 2024 roadmap authentically, we must honestly assess our internal landscape and stay true to ourselves. By doing the internal work, we not only create plans for external success but also ensure personal growth.

[21:47] How do you guide people through their sticking points, and what's it like for you when you witness them embracing something unfamiliar and achieving a win?

Honestly, the best feeling in the world. So, one of the newest bodies of work that I brought into my coaching practice is nervous system work. It's exactly what you said that we can't grow beyond our own capacity. If our nervous system doesn't believe or feels unsafe about our next level, we're not going to get ourselves, or we're going to subconsciously sabotage. So, I work with a practitioner that does something called body mapping. And so, it's a practice of somatic practice. I had people in my group program that were like, oh, no, I never heard of this. This is a little weird. We did a group session together. Then somebody messaged me afterward like, hey, I'm feeling stuck on taking action. I was like, do the body mapping. She messages me after she's like, I reached out to everybody that I was supposed to. I have two new clients. This whole thing shifted. I tried to do an hour meditation beforehand. It didn't work. But the body mapping shifted me in 15 minutes, and it's like, when tools work for people. I think it's so exciting, and my favorite thing to do is not tell them but show them because once you show them and involve them, then they understand they've seen the shift for themselves.

[24:10] Who would be the ideal person for you to encounter, someone you'd think, "This is the perfect fit for me to work with"?

Typically, those who seek my guidance are individuals who've successfully climbed the career ladder, reaching what they thought they "should" achieve, similar to my own journey and possibly yours. However, upon reaching the summit, they realize it lacks the freedom and joy they anticipated. Instead, they feel trapped in a performance, leading to burnout, frustration, anger, resentment, and other familiar themes we discussed earlier. This deep dissatisfaction becomes a turning point when they approach me, driven by profound discomfort. It's at this juncture that they commit to playing full-out, refusing to remain in their current state. This discomfort becomes the catalyst for a transformative shift, prompting them to embrace new beliefs and behaviors, ultimately shaping a different reality.

[25:22] Are there ways to hasten the process of reaching a point where you wake up to a life and think, "You know what, this is it"?

Certainly, one of the best practices for this is novelty. When talking about staying in your comfort zone, no matter how dysfunctional it has become, my comfort zone was a job that was killing me and was wildly dysfunctional, but I knew it, so it was comfortable, even though the other side was way nicer. So when we introduce novelty in our lives, let's say I decide to take up a new sport or I take up pottery, I'm getting new information and sensory input in my body. And when I get new sensory input in my body, my mindset shifts, my nervous system shifts, so I can actually see more clearly, think more creatively, and find my way out and through. So if you feel like you're close to your shift moment but you just can't get there, I would say introduce novelty. Take up a new sport, a new activity, a new way of moving, flowing, meeting new groups of people because that novelty will create the space for you to think more creatively, more clearly, and take action towards what you really want to learn.

[28:20] What areas are you currently exploring or expanding within yourself to effectively lead and guide the people you work with?

In my work, the essence is truly helping people understand themselves, leading to better decisions in their careers and the creation of fulfilling businesses and jobs. For me, it's about a profound inner knowing. When considering future-proofing our careers, especially in the age of AI, I emphasize the development of our human qualities – what used to be termed soft skills but are now rightfully called power skills. I appreciate this rebranding because these skills hold immense power. The more empathy we cultivate and the greater psychological safety we provide, the better our world becomes. I firmly believe these aspects will remain crucial, whether or not AI is present. I constantly delve deeper into exploring how we can bring more of our humanity to the forefront. I feel that we've only just begun to tap into the potential of creating environments where people feel fully safe to express their authenticity, and there's considerable room for growth and exploration in this aspect. 

[29:45] How do individuals reach that point, and what's your approach to guiding them towards that destination?

Engaging in this practice is crucial as I used to overly care about others' opinions, rooted in a people-pleasing nervous system state. Recognizing these behaviors and taking small actions to shift over time is key; awareness is 80% of it. With age, entering my fourth decade, I find myself caring less, a liberating shift that's a continuous practice. Returning to your question, identity plays a significant role. Those with non-dominant identities may find this practice challenging as the world can feel less psychologically safe. Fostering internal safety allows us to be ourselves outwardly, caring less about external opinions.

[37:20] What promise did God make to the world when he created you? 

It's a captivating story. During a guided meditation, I connected with God before entering this lifetime. In our conversation, there was a sort of squabble about returning, but I was reminded of my commitment to help others in this lifetime, especially those who are underrepresented. My purpose is to assist people in discovering purpose, peace, and prosperity, with a specific focus on historically excluded individuals. I believe I'm equipped to provide the love, energy, and compassion needed as a catalyst for their growth.

Key Quotes 

[19:23-19:27] What's on the side is always better than where we are. 

[26:45-26:48] Motion changes emotion

How to connect with Amina Al Tai