Too many of us grew up only seeing one kind of boss or leader in the media. The lack of representation for other groups reinforced harmful stereotypes and acted as a self-fulfilling prophesy, but would our opinion of what a leader looks like be different if the media did a better job at representing the true diversity of leadership in America?
Women and other under-represented groups are already leading many great companies, organizations, & academic institutions; others are authoring best-sellers, building engaged audiences, leading movements and more.
We had the honor of connecting with many of the best and brightest female leaders from in and around the city and we asked them our question of the month: What is the best advice you have for someone who feels like they are facing insurmountable odds.
We encourage you to check out the female leaders we’ve highlighted below, follow them on social media if you find their work or story interesting and most importantly do your part to #fightstereotypes.
Emma Chase | Virtual Health & Fitness Coach
Just start…and keep going. Be okay with walking this journey imperfectly. Anytime we do something new, we aren’t going to be good at first, so be willing to fail forward a LOT. That is how you can GROW forward. When you have moments of doubt, discouragement, or despair, use sweat and prayer to find the strength inside of you to keep going. Remind yourself of how you want to feel when it’s done then focus on whatever you need to do to get to where you need to be. I like to keep an evidence journal where I write down 3 things everyday that prove I moved forward towards my goals. It helps me to see that I’m on the right path. Just start and don’t stop until you get there.
Michelle Schaefer | Avon Independent Sales Rep
I love baseball and that sport offers a lot of lessons on challenges. I think it was Babe Ruth who said, “Every strike brings me closer to the next home run.” Each time you fall down, lose, feel defeated, get back up and try again. Even successful people like Babe Ruth had times where they were striking out and could not break the streak. When I feel like I am losing control and surrounded by chaos, I take a forced pause and reflect on all that is good in my life. I take myself into a place of gratitude. I believe when we are filling our hearts and minds full of all of the positives, it crowds out those feelings of failure and fear. It always helps to recall a past challenge I that at the time seemed beyond my capabilities and once I remember how I conquered, I get back to beast mode of breaking it down, making a plan and taking action. Reshaping the focus of our minds and staying true to what is in our hearts is beyond powerful. Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve. Believe in yourself and find your path through.
Kylee Kristiane Wilkinson | Entrepreneur
Doubt can manifest negativity when we are blinded with difficulty. By trusting the design of hidden lessons, we learn detachment from fear provides peace. Seeking the truths of our creator has brought me clarity throughout life’s roller coaster of unpredictable.
Megan Renee Linnell |Creative and Mental Health Advocate
I had a therapist once in a group program that painted a picture for her broken out-patients: if you beat yourself up because you used to be able to get up and go out with your friends after a long day of work… (look good, socialize, and spend hours outside of the comfort of your own home), but now you find yourself lying in bed for 16 hours a day not even able to take care of your hygiene, let alone deal with anxiety from going out and mingling amongst a crowd of strangers, take a breath and first give yourself grace to heal: and once you’re ready – save yourself the guilt with this motto: “No More Zero-Days.”
Meaning, if you used to go out dancing and now that seems like an insurmountable task, start simple. If you can’t even find the energy to do your make up and your hair after trying to take a shower for an event that takes 100 steps, then how about taking one. If lying in bed is all you can do, maybe get up and go to the bathroom and start a shower. If you feel like you can’t finish it then turn it off and go back to bed. But that was not a zero day; you took a step. Perhaps the next week, after a few days of getting out of bed, you’ll be able to take a couple more. Perhaps next you’ll wash your hair, and that’s progress. After, you’ll start to brush your teeth. Perhaps next you’ll send your old friends a text that says “xoxo, maybe I’ll see you again soon.” not committing to plans, yet? That’s fine
But when you’re lying in bed, don’t daunt yourself with what feels impossible. If step one hundred looks and feels impossible, remind yourself you don’t have to go there yet. Look at what you have control over, even if it’s small, just start there – usually there’s a lot of growth just in what we are able to hold and please, be kind to yourself.
PS, I know this sounds bizarre and cynical, but true hope lies in knowing that if I don’t put any honest effort into conquering an intimidating, fear-filled thing in front of me, the default consequence will be failure; so for me it’s comforting knowing that even just *meeting* the obstacle with a courageous approach means I’m that much closer to winning. And if I can liberate my spirit by shedding what’s holding me back and I take one step, what would be the difference between my first and my hundredth?
Jashele Tillman | Web Developer & Creative
Allow yourself time and space to navigate any challenge – mentally & emotionally. Focus on what you can do in the moment and focus on what is in your control.
Kayla Ouellette | Baker & Pastry Cook
The best advice I have is to always try your best and don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it.
Shannon Van Kirk | Health and Fitness Coach
I see this all the time as a coach because changing a lifestyle can be so hard.
The easy answer…just start! It’s not really easy though is it? We are our own worst enemies when it comes to overcoming challenges and starting something new. The human brain is actually hard-wired (like caveman days-wired) to be scared of change. It sees something new and wants to run in the other direction. New = BAD. When it comes down to it though, taking on something new is all about mindset. It may sound totally foo-foo, but if you believe that you can, you will. Its as simple as that.
When I take on new clients and coaches the first thing I tell them is to make messy movement. It doesn’t matter what you do or what you know, just start DOING. Even if its messy, at least you moved. Everything in life is figure-out-able. Take the first step and figure the rest out along the way.
Haley Park | Student & Lifestyle Photographer
You’ve made it this far. Every trial you’ve faced throughout your life, you have made it through. I look back on my life and some of my once biggest challenges seem so minuscule when looking at my life today. Take some time to reflect on what is most important to you and spend your time and energy pouring into those things. The rest will fall into place. One of my favorite verses is Matthew 6:26, “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”
If God watches over the birds of the sky, He’s watching over you.
Rest in that, you’ve got this.
Yorjelhi Prieto | Makeup Artist | Aspiring Youtuber & Mom
The advice I have for someone who is facing a challenge that feels insurmountable, would be to take a step back and look at everything you have around you. Take a look at everything in your life that is going well and continue to focus on that. Seeing the good in your life and being surrounded by your family and loved ones helps you get through the tough times. Always remember that after every storm comes a rainbow. That goes to show that sometimes we have to go through tough situations to enjoy the good times even more. We have to focus on the positive more than the negative in order to live a healthy and happy life. You can overcome anything with a positive attitude. All of our experiences whether they’re good or bad make us stronger and it’s part of what makes everyone unique.
Sierra Nicole | Model | Singer | Dancer | Actress
The best advice I would give someone who thinks something in their life is insurmountable or too difficult to overcome would be to take a deep breath and get out of your own head. Then after that remind yourself of who you are,and remind yourself that you can do anything you put your mind to. We are in charge of our own path,destiny,and future so don’t give up before you start.
Noelle Rogers | Software Engineer | Graphic Designer & Cosmetologist
When I have gone through personal challenges in my life, the advice I give myself is ‘will this be as big of a deal as it is right now, next week – next year – in 5 years?’. It helps me remember to put perspective on my life and remember the purpose of why I am here. When facing something that seems impossible, remind yourself what you want to get out of it. Will it make the future you a smarter person? Will it help your future self reach your goals? I also enjoy breaking things down into small do-able tasks. This way, instead of one huge list item that needs to be checked off, you have many smaller items to check off and keep yourself motivated through the process of overcoming a challenge you feel is insurmountable.
Marina Nellie | Creative Coordinator (@2911church) | Director of Marketing (@sayyestothedresser) and Photographer (@mrandmrsvillegas)
Fear and a lack of peace are two entirely different things. However, we can often times let fear be what guides our life, acting as the Holy Spirit. Yet, it is not our guide but a crutch masking itself to keep us from being brave. The Holy Spirit speaks in truth, peace, and love yet we confuse the two, forgetting that God is not a God of confusion but of peace.
God was for Israel, not against them. He said he would smooth out their roads and lead them when they were blind. You can’t lead a blind person if they refuse to follow. However, if you were blind and you knew that the perfect guide was with you at all times… why refuse?
God clearly tells us, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7).
Yet, when we are on our faces in fear asking God what to do, we listen to that fear to tell us how to live our lives.
If good is the enemy of the best, then fear is the enemy of power, love, and self-discipline.
What then is to be done about life’s decisions?
You must be able to know that when God is truly guiding you, even when it is scary and unknown before you that does not mean it is bad. This just means you need the faith to trust our guide. The guide who, “…will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deut. 31:6).
Take that fear and throw it out the window, let yourself have child like faith to look fear in the eyes and say, “you are not who my Father says I am. I walk in power, love and self-discipline” Because at the end of the day we know who wins this life and it’s our Christ who was raised back to life.
Natalia Ronceria Ceballos | Consultant & Executive Director
No matter the area of life, it is crucial to always take a step back, assess the situation from a new vantage point, & acknowledge the resources you do have that can help. Lean on any support systems (people) that you can, ask for help if needed, break down the challenge in to smaller steps, and start chipping away; in short, take action. Even if small steps. Take action and keep moving forward. Before you know it that insurmountable challenge will morph in to a lesson learned, and then just a memory to reflect upon.
Alex Morgan | Realtor & hitting instructor
When faced with an adversity that seems impossible to overcome I look inside myself. I ask myself if I believe I gave it everything I’ve got to try and overcome the obstacle. If I can give more effort, or even approach a task with a better attitude, then I will make an adjustment and come back attacking. Ultimately, you are in control of your own destiny. It’s a matter of if you want to look back wondering “what if”, or if you want to look back satisfied knowing you did everything you could. Your best is all anyone can ask for.
Anya Melkozernova | fashion designer and fiber artist
The best advice I can give is to be patient, all good things take time. Things happen when you’re ready for them and sometimes you just have to give yourself time, wait for yourself.
Samantha Nungaray | Mother | United States Navy Sailor & PostPartum Doula
If you are going through a challenging part in your life, remember that there is a reason you going through this. You may think that the challenge will never end or you don’t know why you have to go through this, but there is a reason. There is a light at the end of the tunnel and there will be a great blessing.
Look up, keep your head up and remember you are a strong, beautiful person. Don’t let anything get in the way of you meeting your goals in life.
Jessica Noto | traveling photographer | videographer and mixed media artist
Never give up! Ever! If you are born with the desire you were meant to do it. My whole life people have told me you can’t make a living as an artist! Guess what? You can! Don’t be afraid to ask for help. You will find that people who have achieved success are most happy to talk about how they did it and would love to offer advice.
Sara Moni | Costume Maker and Model
The best advice when facing an insurmountable task is to break down what is making it seem impossible and tackle what you can. Reward yourself for any accomplishments and take your time.
Lauren Paez | entrepreneur and energy healer
In my experience when I have faced challenges that feel insurmountable, I have learned to never give up and to believe in myself. Anything is possible! A couple of things that help me to face these challenges are positive thinking and vision boards. Thinking positively helps me to stay in a healthy mindset, even when things feel overwhelming. I realize that in life not everything that happens is going to be a positive experience. However, when something negative occurs I have learned to take the experience as a lesson. I acknowledge it so that I can learn from my mistakes, but I do not dwell on it. Vision boards can help people plan out their goals and dreams. I also use vision boards to help me map out how to overcome challenges. Positive thinking and vision boards can both help you to manifest positive things in your life.
Teresa Arteca | Barre Instructor & Studio Owner
Stay confident and believe in yourself. Nothing is impossible. You can do anything you set your mind to.
Stephanie Paver, MS, RD, CSO, CNSC | Integrative and Functional Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
Your perception is your truth, and your truth is your reality. If you believe something is insurmountable, then it is. If you believe that you have the power to overcome and conquer, then you will. The power of the mind is unbeatable. You don’t have to know how you will overcome the challenge, but having the belief that it is possible will enable you to fight to make it happen. Having this type of conviction does not come easily and may require inner reflection to re-write your self-limiting beliefs. This is something that takes daily work and repetition. Changing your beliefs will change your behavior. A great book on this topic is You Are a Badass, by Jen Sincero. One of my favorite quotes by her is “You are a bad ass; it’s not open for negotiation.”
Dresden Whitehead | Nutritionist | Wellness Coach
I feel like I am currently facing an insurmountable challenge in life myself. When I look back on life and remember times I’ve felt this way before, I appreciate the personal growth I’ve experienced and the support I received from those I was in relationship with. My best advice is to find positive relationships and surround yourself with those individuals. I would also suggest finding ways to serve others in need. There is something healing about helping someone else in need. Lastly, but most importantly, conquer the battle in your mind first. Visualize yourself already victorious over what you are facing, and then get through each day by focusing on adopting a positive mindset and filling your thought life with things you are grateful for.
Brittney Cocco | Christian | Military Wife & Mom | YouTuber & Social Media Aficionado
First, and foremost, God. If He brings you to it, He will bring you through it. Secondly, dig deep. Why are you doing whatever it is you are doing? Are the results going to be worth potentially hard work, long hours, and investment? If so, chip away, one step at a time. Proceed as if success is inevitable!
Nichoelle Adler | Mom Hat and Margaritas Blog
The best advice I would give to someone who is facing a challenge they feel is insurmountable is that with depths of the sea untouched, and an infinite universe we only have room to succeed if we want it bad enough. Things may seem impossible or unobtainable but we are the only ones getting in the way of achieving the end goal by convincing ourselves it is so. When I’m not feeling motivated to start tackling the task at hand I like to break it down into smaller steps and goals, sometimes getting through the first few steps creates the momentum to knock it out. Meditation has been a big help for me, clearing the mind to gain a new approach can cause the insurmountable to be more straightforward. It seems like everything adds up to a huge task in our day to day adult life, prioritizing the things that bring you happiness come first my friends!
Kirsten Blair | Singer | Voice Teacher & Yoga Instructor
My best advice to someone facing an insurmountable challenge would be to always try your best to show up for yourself and to meet yourself where you are. It takes a lot of courage to face difficult challenges, and one of the greatest rewards can come from practicing the perseverance that it requires to nurture growth and learning through them. Part of this process for me includes being compassionate towards myself and recognizing what I have to offer, as well as what I need to still work on in order to be successful. Also, never be afraid to ask for guidance from those that you look up to. Finally, attitude is SO important in being empowered. To quote Henry Ford: “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t- you’re right!”
Roxanne Delgado | Corrective Exercise and Strength Coach
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Some of the greatest lessons are learned through failure.
Faith Christiansen Smeets | Artist and Voice for the Wild West
My advice for someone facing something insurmountable is this: Work as if it all depended on you and pray as if it all depended on God. And in the meantime, seek wisdom, not memes or short cuts for guidance.
Stephanie Lynn | Autism Advocate and Mixed Media Artist
As an artist of different kinds, from acrylic painting to producing my own music and writing lyrics to sing with it, I’ve faced many different kinds of challenges. As an autistic artist that was late diagnosed just over a year ago, it was like my whole world was ripped from under my feet and I honestly didn’t know how to handle it or where to even start. My doctor’s had told me that I had to stop working a typical job due to other health issues, from my Spinobifida Acolta that I’ve had since birth to my mental health issues and disk bulges in my neck. At this point in my life I didn’t know what else to do. Everything I ever worked for was falling through my fingers, I lost my apartment, fell into a crowd and work space that was incredibly toxic and not the cleanest morally, lost my car, and lost all types of independence I had ever known. All in a matter of a couple weeks to a month. I struggled with trying to figure out how I could be useful outside of just being the best stay at home mom and home school teacher I could be to my children. Autism comes with its ups and downs and challenges dependent upon the person and where they are on the spectrum. Despite popular belief, autism is NOT just the inability to communicate with spinning or flapping and having emotional volcanic eruptions at the simplest of things throughout the day. While this is definitely still something that an autistic person CAN be or do, it most certainly is the stereotype that’s been spread amongst the masses; and this is the stereotype to boys and men who have autism it isn’t the norm for women or girls. Before I continue, there is no blanket statement for autistic’s, we are all incredibly unique and have struggles, challenges, triumphs and interests that are as varied and diverse as the human race is itself. It’s a spectrum and there is not and never will be a “one size fits all” diagnosis or symptom/challenge combination. Growing up I always felt like an outcast, a loser and someone who was just broken. So much so that when I found out I was autistic, I didn’t exactly greet it with the love and acceptance I currently have towards my diagnosis now. To me, this seemed to just make things worse, why would anyone believe me? Why would anyone look at me and see a capable, “aesthetically normal looking” woman, with an intellectual vocabulary and ability to socialize, and believe that I have autism when what they believe autism is, is a CHILD who has the inability to control themselves, that they don’t speak and they are dumb. Side note, I also suffer from anxiety which is common with those who have autism because we have a sensory processing disorder (which means that everything that comes into contact with our 5-6 senses of life, including spirituality and soul, is processed entirely differently than a neurologically typical brain). So how did I over come it? Feeling like I wouldn’t ever even be able to live independently from my parents or make any kind of income to have freedom, or even to just have the ability to drive again. I turned to the only thing that made me feel like I was a full soul, art. From a very young age I spent a good portion of my childhood on the stage of my home church. It continued all the way through high school and what I secretly wanted more than anything in this world, was to be a performer. Not just any performer, but a performer with a purpose, a performer that didn’t care about money or social status but rather their integrity and ability to bring a sense of love and warmth to whomever I was entertaining and speaking with. To escape and just feel like nothing could touch me I started to sing on a karaoke app called Smule. I posted a song to my account just for myself, I really didn’t think anyone would see or hear it… I was wrong! Literally, over a hundred and up to a few hundred people were liking and listening to my cover song and I was FLOORED! Along with singing, I started to paint watercolor and thanks to a paint and sip night out with a friend, I got back into acrylics. The very first painting I did (in December 2018), I wanted to signify what my soul needed more than anything: Freedom and peace. So my first painting came to life of a woman with gorgeous red and brown curly hair, in the middle of the night by the ocean, arms outstretched and feeling the moon’s glow. I finished it inside a few hours and I felt energized, alive and just more encouraged than I ever had been in my whole life. After that Smule experience followed by painting my first canvas and that feeling, I started to record covers and original songs. My first couple of songs are very rough and I am not the best at navigating audio production software or editing. The point is that I made them and I put myself out there, and you know what? The end of the world didn’t happen and the internet didn’t come eat me alive saying I was awful and should leave my dreams of being any kind of artist behind. (This is what anxiety can do to you, take away the things that make you happiest in life and turn them against you without that being your intention at all.) I got brave and started to post more to my Instagram and you know what? Nothing bad happened. Did I go viral overnight? OF COURSE NOT. But here I am writing my very first piece to be published by a local magazine, and I am still shocked that this is really happening. Every step counts, every push towards your goal and your dream – MATTERS. My autistic ability to see the world differently, view social aspects of humanity differently, and my unique ability to use empathy and my “too intense of emotions” was poured into all forms of my art. I started to release more covers and more original songs as I completed them and thought… why not make an album and actually upload it to be sold and streamed across all platforms? At this point what exactly did I have to lose? ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. I’ve been working hard on it for the past six months, and currently my album is completely drafted and in the editing stages/final recording vocal stage, it’s set to be released on my birthday: July 17th of this year, 2019. In the past, my birthday has signified a time I didn’t enjoy, my birthday’s would always seem to fall short of ever actually happening. People wouldn’t show, or I would be ignored by the majority of friends and family, but this year? This year I’m making my birthday into one of the biggest accomplishments I’ve ever worked towards. The truth is, we’re all faced with challenges and obstacles that we perceive as insurmountable, that no matter how hard we try and no matter how badly we want it – we just fall short of reaching the goals we set for ourselves. We need to stop focusing on the end goal so intensely and start focusing on the substance of your product/art/ability. Don’t worry about the HOW you’re going to get there just worry about doing whatever it is that completes you, whatever it is that you’re trying to build and be. Focus on that. You will have low days and they may stretch on for weeks or months or even years, but do not be discouraged because anything worth having will not come easily. Am I where I want to be? No. Am I going to allow myself to get discouraged and let the world’s lack of notice keep me from doing what makes me feel more whole and unbroken than I ever have? ABSOLUTELY NOT. The only opinion that matters about your life’s journey, IS YOURS! Too often we hyper focus on those things and people that we truly love and value their thoughts and opinions, by all means please listen and hear their advice, but please remember that not everyone is going to be able to see the vision you have or even agree with it. A hard truth to accept is that if you don’t believe in yourself, you’ll never be able to reach the things you’re wanting to get to. So when you’re being beaten down by life and the world seems to ignore you or pull you down to the level they’re on, remember that you need to believe in yourself and your passions or they will fade and fizzle inside of you, a piece of you dying while trying to please and appease those around you. Surround yourself with people and things that support your journey and goals in life, if there are people you love and care about that are pulling you down or are toxic to you, let them go and not be as close as they have been to you in your intimate life’s happenings previously. Failure has bred more successful people in the world than doubt and fear ever has. So celebrate your failures and see what you can do DIFFERENTLY next time to get a DIFFERENT result. Grind all you can while remembering to rest when and as long as you need in order to recharge yourself, but never stop moving forward. You’ve got this. Because if a scared autistic woman can find out at 29 that she wasn’t broken, just different while still being whole, and still push forward to go into an industry that could potentially eat me alive and spit me back out – SO CAN YOU!
Rina Maya | President of United Brokers Inc and Classified Realty Inc
The only thing I can suggest is if you’ve reached an insurmountable state of mind just breath relax and break everything down on paper until you feel you want to manage any one of the items you listed, conquer that first item and move forward little by little until you get your momentum back!
Melissa Tirendi | Financial Sales | YogaMeditation Instructor & Local Foodie
I really love podcasts, and I often think about how my favorite podcast guests always share a story of overcoming something challenging as a crucial part of “their story”. When I am struggling, I like to imagine being interviewed for a podcast in the future, and I imagine what I might say or how I might describe overcoming that scenario in a way that’s relatable and inspiring to others. It’s a really tangible reminder that situations are temporary and that you get to control how you respond and influence your thoughts positively.