I am oftentimes asked what has led me to pursue the field of change. The truth of the matter is that it all started many years ago, when I was going through a process of transforming my own life and career, in the face of a collapsing economy, raising very young children and working full time.
This journey I went through in my own life got me fascinated with the power of the human mind to thrive against all odds and overcome obstacles. What motivates us to change our lives? What stops us? Why are we so afraid of changes? And what keeps us going through difficulties and challenges?
I have been consulting leading brands for over a decade on engagement and motivation through organizational change.
My passion is leadership through change from a place of fully understanding the challenges that change presents. I am here to guide you through the powerful steps leaders can take in order to help their team members not only embrace change but also recognize and navigate the opportunities that it presents.
THIS IS HOW IT ALL STARTED
My journey began at a time in my life where I felt extremely frustrated. I worked at a job that I didn’t like. I told my husband that I constantly felt I was wearing shoes that were three sizes too small. My days were spent feeling overworked and unappreciated.
Back then I had a good friend that was a few years older than me. We both had young kids. We used to meet at the local Starbucks at 7:00 a.m. every Saturday morning, before the kids woke up and the day started. One day, I told her how much I hated my job and my day-to-day. She looked at me and said, “Then change it. Go to school and change your path.”
“I wish I could,” I told her while holding back the tears. “My kids are so young and they need me. Adam is in a startup and never home. One day, when the time is right, I’ll do exactly that.”
She gave me a sharp look and then told me what changed my life.
“Michelle,” she said, “you just don’t get it, do you? Your kids will always need you and Adam will always be in a startup. Go and sign up for classes this week, and tell me next Saturday that you have done it.”
I looked at her puzzled. What she had told me never crossed my mind. I never thought of it that way.
I was desperate for a change. I went and signed up for my master’s in psychology. My son was five. My daughter was one. I worked a full-time job and had a husband who constantly travelled.
I found myself setting alarms for 3:00 a.m. I was working until 6:00 a.m. and then waking up the baby and starting my day. I worked twice as hard, but my life was suddenly full. I had a challenge. I had content. I felt that I was going somewhere.
IS QUITTING EVER THE RIGHT CHOICE?
Then, in 2008, the economy collapsed. My husband’s startup was shut down. Things were getting challenging to a near breaking point. I told my husband that I thought the most sensible thing for me to do was to take a break.
“I will come back to school later,” I told him. “When things get better and the time is right.” He looked at me and said two things that I will thank him for every day for the rest of my life. He said, “Who deserves a Ph.D. more than you?” Then, he said, “Michelle, if you leave now, you will not go back. Stay with the program no matter what and finish your degree.” And so, I stayed.
A few semesters down the road, I found myself struggling with bills, kids, work and school. I was trying to keep up with it all.
At that time, I had a professor that did not think too highly of me. I don’t think he realized the kind of struggle that I was in. I earned a grade of C in both of his classes and got a warning letter from the university. The letter said that I was on probation unless I repeated a class. I literally sat and cried.
I went home and told my husband that, perhaps, I should take a break. He said to me, “Michelle, repeat the class. You won’t even remember it later. Swallow your pride and repeat the class.” And, I did.
The day I got my Ph.D. was not a day about the academic degree. It’s nice to get a Ph.D. It’s nice to get any degree. It was a day, for both of us, that epitomized working against all odds and incredible teamwork. It was a day of resilience and persistence above and beyond what I thought I had in me.
WHY EMBRACING CHANGE IS AN INCREDIBLE OPPORTUNITY
My work with leaders, teams and individuals on embracing the incredible opportunities that change presents and the actionable tools and inspiration that I provide to many from the stage, from TV and through my books and articles is my way of reaching out and instilling in leaders the confidence that change is not something to handle. Change is something to embrace and grow from. It is a much needed skill for every leader and every individual in a rapidly changing world.