10 Mind-Blowing Lessons from Badass Women You Can’t Afford to Ignore.

Have you ever listened to someone speak, and the truth in their message shook you to your core?

It’s a rare moment, but you can probably recall someone you watched live, listened to on the radio or on a podcast, or saw on television that challenged your way of thinking. That moment when you paused, reassessed, and decided to approach the world a little differently.

This past weekend, I had TEN such moments at Emerging Women Live 2015 in San Francisco.

I would love to share these gems with you in hopes that you can glean some of the wisdom vicariously. After all, this is secondhand therapy!

#1. “I want to tell you a secret, I’m just me.” -Dr. Jane Goodall

For those of you who don’t know Dr. Jane Goodall, you can catch up on her amazing story here. This was her response to the wild applause she received when she stepped onstage. I started to cry when I heard this. It made me realize that she truly does feel that her extraordinary life has simply been all about being herself.

If we all focused on being our bravest and most authentic selves, the world would be a pretty amazing place.

I have no desire to spend years watching animals, but the good news is that is not what I’m wired to do. What are you wired to do? You may think it’s insignificant, but watching chimpanzees wasn’t a job until Dr. Goodall made it one.

#2. “What is the energy I’m putting in, versus the impact I’m having?” -Vicki Saunders

Vicki Saunders, founder of SheEo, referred to this as the energy for impact equation. I think I’ve been doing this by accident over the past year, but allow me to explain the theory:

Our energy is a finite resource. Vicki challenged us to constantly reassess how we are spending our energy. If we are spending a lot of energy that is not giving us much return, it’s time to make a change instead of allowing the drain to continue.

So what is taking up your energy right now? Is it worth it? What choices can you make to change this (hint: there is always a choice, we just may not like our options)?

#3. “The most revolutionary thing a women can do is to see and hear herself.” -Wokie Nwabueze

Wokie talked about her own experience of realizing that she had given up pieces of herself over the past decades. She explained the “choices that we make as women are often based on others’ priorities and expectations.”

Does this resonate? Sure did for me.

What parts of yourself have you lost along the way? What do you need to be brave about and reclaim? Maybe it’s your love of dancing or your geeky obsession that your spouse made fun of and so you gave it up. Whatever it is, Wokie told us to “breathe some air into those little dark corners that you have rejected of yourself.”

#4. “Write down the experiences that make you gritty.” -Promise Phelon

As we strive to become our best selves, we are going to experience plenty of of challenging circumstances. Promise, founder of TapInfluence, described grit as “the struggle as you strive towards your dream.”

As we alternate between pushing forward and falling down, it can become easy to forget the purpose in this process and what we learned about ourselves. By keeping written record of how we felt during these challenging times, we develop our own “grit bible” to refer back to.

Challenge accepted. New notebook has been set aside. Are you in, too?

#5. “Choose discomfort over resentment.” – Dr. Brené Brown

Did you know that Dr. Brené Brown, author of recent bestseller Rising Strong, has a ring that she always wears…one that spins around in the middle? The reason she wears this ring is that she spins the middle part of this ring whenever she is asked to commit to something. It gives her a moment to decide if this is something she should be saying yes to, or if it’s better to be momentarily uncomfortable while saying no. We have all had that resentment build up from saying yes to something when we didn’t want to.

Does this mean that you need to search for your own spinning ring?

Yes, I’m pretty sure it does. Happy shopping!

#6. “Leaders need to make choices that are consistent with what matters.” -Kim Jordan

You may not consider yourself a leader, like co-founder of New Belgium Brewing Kim Jordan, but I firmly believe that this principle applies to all of us. As a parent, you need to make choices that are consistent with what matters for your family. As a spouse, you need to make choices that are consistent with what matters for your marriage. As the person in charge of the health and wellbeing of yourself, you need to make decisions that are consistent with what matters for you.

Got it?

If you need an extra quote to reinforce this lesson, check out the Secondhand Therapy ‘About‘ page.

#7. “If the world is asking you to be something, YOU DO THAT. YOU BE THAT…when someone puts a crown on you and says you’re important, don’t say, ‘No I’m not.’” -Liz Gilbert

This one hit me in the gut. Like a sucker punch (full of love!) from Liz Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love and Big Magic.

It’s hard to accept praise. It’s hard to acknowledge what other people see in you, because we are all keenly aware of our own deficiencies.

Do it. Be it.

Don’t reject the brilliance that those who love you see in you.

#8. “When the price exceeds the payoff, it’s time for change and not a minute before.” -Dr. Neha Sangwan

Dr. Neha, author of the recently released Talk Rx, used to be an emergency room physician and she was tired treating patients, only to find them back in the ER months later.

She developed the Awareness Prescription, in which she would write the following questions down on her prescription pad for her patients to think about until she came back to visit them in her next round. Here are the questions she would ask them, regardless of their physical ailment:

  • Why this?
  • Why now?
  • What signals might I have missed?
  • What else needs to be healed?
  • If I spoke from the heart, what would I say?

Have you been struggling with your health lately? These questions are a great excuse to pause and do some journalling to figure out what your body is trying to tell you. Being physically unwell is a high price to pay. Are you ready to make a few changes?

#9. “We are all willing to be erotic at work and then numb at home.” -Esther Perel

Esther Perel was dropping truth bombs both during her workshop and her keynote speech on Saturday. This one may be a bit uncomfortable to sit with, but allow me to explain what she meant.

In a long term relationship, it is easy to settle into comfort and stability. We subconsciously seek this, because we want home to feel safe. However, as human beings we crave excitement and aliveness, desire and playfulness—in other words, erotic energy. She challenged the audience that, as women, we come home from work with the mindset, “I’m done with the show and the curtain goes down.”

“If it’s not eros [erotic energy] redirected at work, it’s redirected at the kids,” was a statement that sent a shock wave through the crowd. Keep in mind that she does not define erotic energy as necessarily sexual—the key concept here is aliveness. If we focus our feelings of aliveness on our career or our children, this leaves little left over for our partner.

We need to admit that it’s not always “I have nothing left to give,” but instead, “there is nothing that I need” from our partners as we have fulfilled our erotic selves elsewhere.


I realize this may not translate well with some of you, but I would encourage you to read her book or watch her TED talks to better understand her relationship theories.

#10. “Your dreams will have greater meaning if they are connected to your community.” -Dr. Tererai Trent

Oh what a powerhouse Dr. Tererai was!

She spoke to us about her dream as a young girl in an African village, in which most girls got little to no schooling, to get a proper education. She not only wanted to graduate high school, but get a Bachelor’s degree, Master’s and then a PhD.

Her mother encouraged her to write her dreams down, but had her add one last dream that involved her community. The words above were her mother’s words to her as she wrote that last dream down: to come back to her village and make sure that other girls had the same opportunity for education that she did.

And so the journey towards making her big dreams come true began.

I love how she admitted that after she got her PhD in America, she resented her mother for making her write down that last dream. She wanted to stay where she was and enjoy her comfortable new life. But her mother knew something: personal meaning involves connection to others. Dr. Tererai explained, “The greatest hunger is the hunger for personal meaning.”

She ended up accomplishing ALL her dreams, most recently receiving a huge grant from Oprah to open new schools (with the additional distinction of being called Oprah’s all-time favorite guest!).

We all have secret dreams.

Some of us have a “great hunger” to accomplish these dreams, like Dr. Tererai. Do your dreams involve making a difference for your community (not necessarily where you live, but a community of people that you are connected to)? If so, we have the chance at reaching beyond ourselves and knowing the contentment that comes from knowing we made the world a better place.

Final thoughts.

If nothing else, I challenge you to consider what lessons are waiting for you amongst these great teachers.

Life has a funny way of trying to teach us certain lessons, with the magnitude of each situation increasing until we are brought to our knees.

I don’t know about you, but I’d rather learn from these amazing Titans (EWLive founder Chantal’s term for the women at this conference) and save myself having to reach the same conclusion after much pain and suffering.

Write it down. Go forth and live your best life.


If you are looking for more support in taking better care of yourself, check out my free 30 page eBook.