[Featured: The Wholehearted Woman] The Real Truth About Pursuing Your Passion

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I had my quarter-life crisis at age 24.  Don’t get me wrong, things on the outside looked great.  I was newly married, living an adventurous lifestyle abroad in Beijing, China, and landed a dream job teaching at an international school.  But things on the inside weren’t so dreamy.  I was struggling with the paradox of passion.  If I’m passionate about teaching, then how come I’m frustrated with my job?  If I’m meant to mentor others, then how come I can’t seem to find those opportunities?  If I’m here for a reason, then why can’t I create a well-integrated, passionate life?  

If I could go back and tell my 24-year-old self one thing, it would be this: Passion is working towards living out your Purpose.  It’s up to you to be intentional with it.  

There’s a lot of not-so-helpful tips about Passion out there.  “Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.”  “You only live once!” The essence of these mantras are to inspire you to do great things.  But if we’re not careful, we can struggle with Passion as we strive to chase it, rather than create it.     

Pursue Your Passion by Shi Chen

So today I wanted to share with you 3 Lies about Passion, and 3 Real Truths about pursuing it.  Hopefully, the truth will set you free. 

Passion Lie #1: “I need to be passionate about what I’m doing.”  

People get tripped up with this misconception because they associate their work with something that should fulfill their ultimate purpose.  The thing is, work is WORK.  People freak out when they can’t see the connection between where they are now, and where they’d like to be.  Your career and your business has different seasons.  It comes with challenges and opportunities for growth.  Putting your focus on things beyond your control, like circumstances, job title and description and where you can lose motivation.  Instead, you have it within your control to do the self-discovery work of identifying your passion, even if it’s just for the short-term..  Ask yourself: what’s important to me in order to create great work?  What’s my purpose for this season of my career?  What strengths do I have to offer to make a meaningful contribution?   Passion can consist of your gifts, your strengths, and your purpose, so when you can pinpoint these components, it’s easier to create opportunities to pursue them.  Passion starts with your attitude, your work ethic, and your outlook on creating positive outcomes so your initial passion can multiply into even more passion.  

For me, it was easy to lose sight of the big picture of helping these young kids grow their minds, confidence, and skills when I was caught up in the student drama, difficult conversations with parents, and administrative work.  Once I realized that my teaching job is equipping me with the leadership skills of communication, creation and execution, and working with different types of people (that would prepare me for whatever was next), I could engage better in all aspects of my work and infuse passion into everything I do.  

The Truth is: Pursuing your passion means you can be intentional about bringing passion into your work, instead of relying on your work to bring you passion.   

Passion Lie #2: “If I’m passionate about it, it should be so easy and FUN!”

The problem with this mentality is thinking passion = joy.  But the real definition of passion is doing something that’s bigger than yourself.  When you’re committed to doing something that really matters, like finally stepping out in faith to follow your dreams, go against the norm, or stand up for what you believe in, you’ll start to experience a bit of fear and resistance.  Change is tough -- and you could be mistaking those challenges and obstacles for a lack a passion.  For example, you will encounter self-doubt, people who naysay and don’t understand your vision, and things that won’t go as you expected.  Yes, pursuing your passion CAN be easy and fun, once you’ve learned to embrace your fears, face the resistance, and do what you set out to do anyways.  

During my teacher years, I noticed that I have a natural affinity for educating kids, but even more so, for mentoring and coaching emerging teachers.  As a young professional myself, who was I to teach best industry practices?  But when I recognized my desire to help other teachers with professional development, I had to face my fear of caring what others think, fear of failure, and a bit of fear of success in order to create a series of workshops, team building meetings, and one-on-one mentoring relationships.   

Truth: Pursuing your passion comes with learning to embrace your fears and face any resistance.

Passion Lie #3: “I need to turn my passion into profit.”

It’s certainly a noble goal to turn your passion into profit, but it’s a personal choice.  There are many  business owners who got to where they are today because they were good at something, helped people, and figured out a way to make it into their full-time living.  That’s what happened to me.  I got bit by the coaching and mentoring bug and wanted nothing more than to coach as as many people as possible.  

The thing to keep in mind is: there’s a difference between being a passionate creative/service provider and being a savvy business owner.  Meaning, I am a great coach but being a great boss lady requires a different skill set.  One that includes marketing, selling, product development, management, etc.  So, if you’re passionate about something, you get to choose whether or not you want to go through the learning curve of business building, or just keep it as a creative outlet.  Both are fine choices.    

Truth: Turning your passion into profit is a personal choice.  There’s a difference between being a passionate creative and a savvy business owner.  

When you pursue your passion, it’s important to recognize the hard work, the fear and the resistance, and the learning curve of new skills in order to continue to do work that matters and live a life of contribution and purpose. The truth is: passion starts with who you are, where you are.  You have the choice and the ability to infuse it into everything you do.  

If you're working on turning your passion into profit, then my 1:1 3-month "From Calling to Clients" business coaching package will help you lay a solid and sustainable foundation for your business.  Apply for a discovery call today to chat about if this is the right opportunity for you to receive the support to reach your BIG business goals.  

With joy, 

Learning to Trust Yourself Again

Dear leaders, 

To the woman who has a big, God-given dream, but not quite sure how to make it happen.  

To the creative entrepreneur who has all the knowledge, the degrees, and the experience to be fully equipped for the next chapter of your life and business, but still unsure what the next steps are.   

To lady who’s brave enough to start over again to chase after what she really wants.  

This letter is for you.  

If I could sit across the coffee table from you, look you in those jaded yet hopeful eyes, and tell you one piece of encouragement, it would be this: 

Trust yourself.  

Trust that your ideas matter and they have meaning.  Trust that you’re not crazy for wanting to change, grow, or pivot your business, and that this is the start of something new.  Trust that you don’t have to do it like everyone else is doing, and that you can lean into your own instincts to show you the way.  Trust that you have the ability to learn what you need to, the capacity to expand your definition of what’s possible, and the choice to do it in a way that feels true to you.  

It seems so simple, but why is it so hard?  

Because just like in every other relationship, trust is built over time.  And just like in other relationships, trust can be broken in an instant and hard to recover.  

It may be hard to trust yourself because…

You’ve made mistakes in the past and are giving yourself a hard time.  
You know what you want, but every time you go after it, it cost you something personal.  
You’ve grown and evolved so much and became a different person, that you need some time to reconnect with what makes you you.  

If that’s the case, then here’s what you can try….build trust with yourself, as if you were building trust with your best friend.  

Just like when you’re meeting a new friend and ask about their interests….you can ask yourself “What do you want?” and “Why do you want it?” 

Just like when you give grace to your daughter for making a silly mistake….you can extend yourself some grace too when you’re attempting something new.  

Just like when you love others unconditionally…you can start to listen to your instincts instead of looking to others for approval or advice.  

It just takes some intentionality, but you can do it.  

Choose to get clear on your intent, give yourself grace, and trust yourself again.  

With joy, 

5 Lessons I Learned From Growing a Business & Growing a Baby

Dear leaders, 

    In this week’s episode, I wanted to share a personal blog about the lessons that I learned about growing a business and growing a baby (at the same time).  So for those of you who don’t know me, I’m Shi Chen, and I’m a leadership and success coach for women entrepreneurs who want to get their big idea into the world and make a difference in the lives or those who need them most.  I started out my career as an educator and recognized the power of personalized coaching for professional growth, so I transitioned from teaching into coaching and have been empowering women to be entrepreneurial leaders ever since.  

Then, last May I found out that I’m pregnant with my first child!  So as I was growing my coaching business online, there was also the beautiful curve ball of learning how to grow life as well.  When I reflect back on this time, I realize that there are so many similarities in leading a growing companion and a growing family, that I wanted to share some of those insights with you. 

Lesson #1: Focus on what matters in the season you’re in.  

When I first started my business, I made the mistake of spending a lot of time, money, and energy on more "advanced" strategies, rather than what matters in the beginning: getting clear on my niche, connecting and marketing to prospects, and laying a foundation of growing my expertise.  Similar to my first trimester of pregnancy, where the focus is on "surviving", getting enough rest, eating healthy and exercising.  I imagine once the baby comes, my focus will also be on establishing trust with my daughter by connecting, bonding, and delivering what she needs, even before she can clearly communicate what that may be.  With each season (every 90 days), I can re-prioritize what to focus on so I can create momentum, and also let go of any guilt or feelings that I need to do it all. 

Lesson #2: Plan and do what you can, and be flexible with actually happens.  

I'm definitely a planner at heart, so I feel much better when I set aside specific steps and strategies to implement.  However, in business and baby-ing, there are many unknowns and things outside of your control, so I'm learned to create a framework of plans but be flexible with what actually happens.  For example, when planning my maternity leave, I was specific about which responsibilities to keep, and which to let go of, but again, it all depends on what kind of baby we will get, if she'll be really fussy or easy-going.  (By the time this is published--we will know for sure!) 

Lesson #3: Getting Support and Accountability are key!

You can "have it all", but you can't do it all yourself.  Support and accountability are key to saving you time, energy, and sanity!  Some people may see asking for help as a weakness, but that's not true!  I'm learning that by delegating tasks and responsibilities to people, you're empowering THEM to use their gifts to serve you as you let go of the things that you don't need to be doing. 

Also, in my third trimester, I was diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes, meaning I had to be more strict with my diet (goodbye, carbs) and exercise.  I had to take my blood sugars 4 times and day, submit it to my doctor, and go to get monitored by a doctors 2x/weeks.  At first, it was a bit annoying but it was a lesson in accountability of having my husband and professional doctor's care about my health and my baby's health.  Around the same time, I had extra support and accountability for my business with the help of a coach, Mastermind, and accountability buddy.  They helped me to stay on track towards my goals as it aligns to my life and business. 

Lesson #4: Confidence comes with practice, but you already have a lot of (business savvy and maternal) instincts. 

When I first started out as a coach, I was confident in my coaching skills but felt like I had a lot of learn when it came to business and marketing.  The more I learned from mentors and implemented, the more I realized that it's not that difficult and that I have a a lot of natural marketing instincts (you know, from being a consumer for all of my life).  I think the same goes for being a mom -- yes, there's a learning curve, but you're equipped with natural maternal instincts and you already have what it takes to be a great mom if you listen to that intuition and follow-through with what's best for your child. 

Lesson #5: People will give you a lot of advice and what worked for them.  Decide what factors are important to you, take what you need, and do what’s best for you situation.  

A funny thing I ran into, is that as soon as people found out I started a business, or was pregnant, people would get excited and give me advice (well, most of the time I asked for it).  The key is to learn how to glean wisdom from their experience, and discern what would work best for you and your specific situation.  For example, when it came to maternity leave -- some people would advise to take 3 months completely off, while others would say to go back to work in a few days.  For me, I had to decide what maternity leave would look like for my situation, which meant keeping my 1:1 client load but taking a step back on administrative and marketing tasks. 

All in all, I wouldn’t change anything for the lessons that I’ve learned as a leader and a mom. 
Tell me what you’ve learning about growing a business and a baby! 

If you found this letter helpful, please share it with your friends.  If you’d like more insight into turning your ideas into action so you can create a successful business and intentional life, then subscribe to the “Letters For Leaders” and receive your free “Vision Into Action” workbook.  

With Joy,

Journey to Being Your Best Boss: Part 4

Growth can come in many different forms.  Leadership growth can look like getting rid of thoughts, habits, and relationships that hold you back from greatness.  Business growth can look like strengthening your foundation, narrowing down, or expanding outward.  Faith growth can look becoming fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire.  Whatever growth means to you, the journey of growth is an important one.  That's why I'm bringing you along my journey of growth and sharing stories, strategies, and lessons learned about leadership + business + faith since turning my passion for coaching into my full-time work. 

If you'd like to catch up on Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3.  Otherwise, here's Part 4 (Days 16-21)

Being Your Best Boss Part 4

Day 16 of #beyourbestbossjourney: Your instincts and Your intuition matter.  Trust it. 
Being Your Best Boss means using your gut as your ultimate compass. Think about it: you didn’t go into business for yourself to follow advice from just anyone.  You probably hated when your old boss told you what to do, using tactics that didn’t align to your vision and your values.  The online world can get pretty noisy with advice from “gurus”, thought leaders, and spammers.  Your best mentor?  Your own intuition that, if you tune into it, can point you back to the right direction and empower you to make aligned actions.  

Day 17 of #beyourbestbossjourney: Create something that matters.  

Being Your Best Boss means you have the freedom to MAKE SOMETHING out of nothing.  How cool is that?  Tapping into that creativity allows you to create something to meet a great need, make something that inspires others, or improve upon an existing product to make it even better.  You get to decide what projects to work on, and which to pass on, so you can dedicate your energy on creating a body of work that reflects your vision and your values AND helps to improves people’s lives.  Making the mindset shift from “just putting in the hours” into “creating something that matters” can motivate and inspire you to become the BEST you can be. 

Day 18 of #beyourbestbossjourney: Pursue your own definition of success.  

Being Your Best Boss means you get to play by your rules, and not compare what your success looks like to others people’s success.  Yes -- there’s a tension between striving to achieve what you set out to do, and honoring and being grateful for where you are now.

Imagine yourself already living out your definition of success.  What would it be like?  What would you be doing?  Who are you becoming?  For me, success is: using my gifts to do work that matters with people I care about, and having time to invest in my family and friends.  

Additional Resource: [Video] 3 Lessons on Success For Your Entrepreneurial Journey

Day 19 of #beyourbestbossjourney:  Grow your GRIT.

Being Your Best Boss means you’re committed to personal and professional growth for the long haul.  This is basically a pep talk to encourage you, whatever you are, to keep GOING and keep GROWING.  I used to feel frustrated with my lack of outward progress, or be disappointed with less-than-expected results.  But the thing is -- becoming a great leader, becoming a great entrepreneur, and becoming the BEST version of yourself takes time, commitment, hard work, and GRIT.  Don’t quit yet-- you’ve gotten this far.  You’re good, now it’s time to be GREAT.  Everything you put into practice what you learn, bounce back from failure, or pursue something that matters, you’re growing your grit.  And that’s something no book, e-course, or podcast can teach you. 

Additional Resource: 10 Ways to Grow Your Grit

Day 20 of #beyourbestbossjourney: Get Feedback From People You Trust.
Being Your Best Boss means being open to giving and receiving constructive feedback to help you grow.  I have a very small circle of “advisors (a coach, a mentor, and my clients) whom I regularly ask for feedback.  Sometimes it’s hard to see what you’re doing, so having the fresh, outside perspective from people you’re directly working with is key to evaluating what’s working, what’s not working, and how to change accordingly.  A few questions I like to ask to get feedback are:

- What’s one thing I’m doing well?  What’s one takeaway you have from working together?  (This helps to pinpoint what’s working and what value I’m bringing to the table.)

- What’s one thing that could make you’re experience even better? (This helps to understand what I can do to improve).

- What’s one thing you’d like to learn from me?  (This helps me to create more content).

Day 21 of #beyourbestbossjourney: Equip Others to Be Their Best Boss           

Being Your Best Boss means leading by example and coaching other people to become their best boss.  This means mentoring (formally or informally) people that could potentially replace you, or go on to grow their own company.  That’s the thing: when we empower ourselves to be the best versions of ourselves, we give permission to others to do the same.  We can continue the cycle of leaders empowering leaders to make a positive impact in the world.  Whatever you’re learning, you can use your journey to pass on your experience, knowledge, and expertise to others who may need you most.  

Thank you for joining me for the past 21 days, and all of the insights, support, and encouragement along the way! 

What has your #beyourbestbossjourney been like?  What are you learning about leadership, business, and faith as you become the best version of yourself?  If you'd like the guidance and accountability of a coach on your entrepreneurial journey, check out my 3-month mentorship: "Be Your Best Boss." 

Apply for a discovery call here to see how working together can help you take your biz to the next level. 

With joy,

Shi Chen Signature

Journey to Being Your Best Boss: Part 3

Being the boss is quite the responsibility. 
Maybe you're still carrying around some leadership baggage working for a terrible boss, and vowed never to be like her. 
Maybe you've been on your own for a while and feeling the call to pour into others what you've been given, and what you've learned. 
Wherever you are in your entrepreneurial journey, know that the journey to being your best boss is one full of lessons about leadership + business + faith.  So this series is dedicated to share my own stories, strategies, and wisdom nuggets to inspire you to honor where you are, and propel you towards where you'd like to be. 

To catch up on this series, check out Part 1 and Part 2.  Otherwise, here's part 3 (Days 11-15): 

#beyourbestbossjourney part 3


Day 11 of the #beyourbestbossjourney: Business Investments is Stewarding $$
Being Your Best Boss means you’re responsible for the finances and cash flow of your business. Money is a vehicle that can help you carry out your vision, and your investments can indicate what you value.  It’s important to keep track of your income and expenses, and can be done simply in an excel spreadsheet or app like Wave or Quickbooks.  In the beginning, I focused on being scrappy with tools and resources, but slowly invested in my own professional growth with coach training, then a business course, then working 1-on-1 with a coach.  That’s because I valued my education and knew these investments would help grow my competency and help better serve my clients in the long run.

By learning what was important to me, tracking my income/expenses, and setting realistic financial goals to work towards helped me be accountable to how I spend my business $$ and be a better steward of these resources.

Additional Resource: 10 Business Apps I Can't Live Without

Day 12 of the #beyourbestbossjourney: Lean into your LEADERSHIP.
Being your Best Boss means seeing yourself as a leader and being intentional about making a positive impact.  I’ve noticed so many women, helping professionals, and even entrepreneurs dismiss the fact that they are leaders because they don’t like to bark orders at people, or be overbearing in their authority.  Leaning into leadership is defining what leadership means to you, your style, and how you want to show up and serve.  Yes -- it can mean empowering others to make choices.  Yes -- it can look like creating a community where people feel comfortable to share and work together.  Yes -- it can look like being a rock-star strategist and getting things done.  

Additional Resource: [Video Blog] 3 Pillars of Leadership

Day 13 of the #beyourbestbossjourney: Show up and SERVE. 
Being Your Best Boss means “It’s NOT about you.”  The sooner I took the focus off of myself, and on to serving my tribe of prospects, peers, and clients, the better aligned I felt and the better results I got.  My entrepreneurial journey was really learning how to be GENEROUS: of my time, my coaching skills, and my expertise in leadership.  The tricky part is learning to have NO EXPECTATIONS in return so I wasn’t thinking about making transactions, but instead, focused on making relationships (that ultimately lead to money in the bank).  

To give an example, being generous meant doing over 100 hours of free coaching calls and writing and creating resources on my blog.   This was a great way for me to grow my competence as a coach, build trust, and SERVE.  I learned not to attach myself to whether or not they became a paying client (which thankfully -- most of them did), but instead count my blessings and be grateful for each and every opportunity I had to be able to make a difference in someone’s life.  

Day 14 of #beyourbestbossjourney: VISIBILITY is vital to your business. 
Being Your Best Boss means getting VISIBLE in front of the right people so you can be a better leader in your business and your industry.  Think about it: would you rather work for a company that no one knows about, cares about, or trusts to deliver their services OR work for a company that that is established in their values and reputation of doing great work?  VISIBILITY can be the difference between lurking in the shadows and showing up to serve.  VISIBILITY can be the difference between no enough leads and being booked solid.  The fun part is -- you get to choose the methods of getting visible.  These could include: collaborations, leading a group,  guest features, podcasts, advertising, etc.  My favorites are teaching guest expert Masterclasses, collaborations, and doing leading my Facebook group, Authentic Brand Leaders.

Additional Resource: VISIBILITY is vital to your business

Day 15 of #beyourbestbossjourney: Your entrepreneurial journey is an expression of your faith journey. 
Being Your Best Boss means believing in something bigger than yourself, and learning to embrace your fears as you grow your faith.  When you leap into the unknown, you’re bound to face doubts, insecurities, and a little bit of insanity.  Becoming a business owner is teaching me SO MUCH how to be a better believer -- how to trust in God’s promises, while stewarding the gifts, time, and treasure he’s given for at the moment, and that growth looks differently in each season.  Also, as an entrepreneur, you have to BELIEVE in yourself as well before other people can believe in you, too.

Additional Resource: Faith > Fear Guide

What has your #beyourbestbossjourney been like?  What are you learning about leadership, business, and faith as you become the best version of yourself?  If you'd like the guidance and accountability of a coach on your entrepreneurial journey, check out my 3-month mentorship: "Be Your Best Boss." 

Apply for a discovery call here to see how working together can help you take your biz to the next level. 

With joy,

Shi Chen