At SHE LEADS ACADEMY, we help high-achieving women define what it means to live their version of a “good life” and guide them in the process of making it a reality. We believe that the world will be a kinder, more inclusive place with more women in leadership. We believe in the power of small changes to create big results. We serve as a tool to women becoming more connected, grounded and authentic leaders, who thrive in our busy, modern work environment while also feeling joy and gratitude in their personal lives.
In 2014, against the advice of many, I walked away from my flourishing fourteen-year career at Microsoft. This move came as a surprise to most. On paper and from afar, I was in a great work-life spot. I’d landed my dream job a few months earlier, was planning my wedding, had bought a new home, and was ticking the final boxes on my graduate degree. The thing is, though, I wasn’t happy. In hindsight, I was having a spiritual crisis.
In terms of work, I felt like I’d “arrived”. I was in the role I’d dreamed would one day exist. Once it was mine though, reaching the pinnacle fell short of the fulfillment I’d imagined. What I’d worked so long for and had been incredibly passionate about equally as long, now lacked meaning. It seems it was it was just a matter of weeks that I went from being highly motivated and excited about the impact I was making to feeling like I couldn’t rally the energy to participate in another meeting or reply to another email.
Soon, I didn’t know if I wanted to keep plugging away at it. During this time, existential questions ate at me – “Why am I unfulfilled? Is this what I’ve worked so hard for? How can I have so much yet feel so empty? What should I do? I couldn’t possibly leave Microsoft, could I?”
Many nights I sat awake, paralyzed by fear and uncertainty, contemplating what to do with my career and imagining how a change in career would alter the life I’d grown accustomed to. The stress from indecision was mounting all around me. I knew something had to give, I just didn’t know what. I felt stuck. I was overworked. Overburdened. Overwhelmed. Often, I felt flat and one-dimensional, a fraction of the joyful, vibrant, passionate person I once was. And I was terrified of making a decision I’d regret.
So, in 2014, on what felt like a whim, but in actuality was a long time coming, I left my corporate gig to redefine success on my own terms. I relocated from the Windy City to the sunny, coastal town of Charleston, SC and co-founded SHE LEADS ACADEMY.
Today, I work with passionate, driven, high-achieving women who are at a pivotal point in their careers and lives. They’ve proven how incredibly capable they are, that they can do the work, and have the career trajectory, altitude, lifestyle and financial rewards to prove it, but are searching for answers about what they want to do with the reaminder of their one precious life. They crave more time for themselves and greater meaning, fulfillment and joy.
I meet my clients where they are and serve as the confidant I wish I had during my moment of consternation. Part Career Coach, part Life Coach, part Spiritual Guide, I support my clients in finding answers to their most pressing life/career transition questions. I work at the intersection of spirituality, psychology, and career strategy to open my clients to life’s infinite possibilities, to help them define what success looks like to them and to guide them in reclaiming their lives, their time and their joy. I feel immensely fortune and deeply grateful to be able to do this work. For me, it’s not a job, it’s a calling.
Looking back, the seeds of my high-achieving personality were probably planted in childhood. I grew up in the suburbs of St. Louis, Missouri. My parents emphasized the importance of education and hard-work. I took their advice to heart. I excelled in high school and took pride in being a straight A student.
I attended college and continued on to business school. I then moved to Chicago to begin my career. I loved a challenge and took on marketing and communications positions in both the for-profit and non-profit sectors. But the fulfillment I thought I would receive for my accomplishments never lasted for long. With each promotion and increasing level of responsibility, I became more and more dissatisfied.
The pace and expectations at work only continued to increase. Most days, I was replying to emails from the moment I woke up to the moment I went to sleep. I was not taking care of myself. I had no time spend with family and friends. I felt stressed, overwhelmed, exhausted and disillusioned. Eventually, it all caught up with me. I was so worn down, I became physically ill and had to be hospitalized.
My illness was my wake-up call. I decided regroup and reassess. I took a look at my life and made some changes—hard but necessary changes. I began exercising, meditating, eating better and reconnecting with the people who mattered most to me. I also decided to return to graduate school to study divinity and counseling.
I now see how all of these experiences have led me to a life and career uniquely suited for me. Today, I wake-up each morning excited about my work as a chaplain, coach and counselor and committed to helping other women feel the same. I am passionate about helping high-achieving women lead healthy, grounded and more fulfilling lives to bring a greater sense of balance, meaning and connection to their lives.
Chrissie and Tiffany are proud to be graduates of the University of Missouri-Columbia and Loyola University Chicago’s Institute of Pastoral Studies.
Copyright © SHE LEADS ACADEMY 2020