118. Rebelling For Something Greater with Shelley Paxton

The Do a Day Podcast from Bryan Falchuk

Shelley is an author, speaker, and transformational coach, who can best be summed up as a burnout fighter and fire re-igniter. She’s rebelling for rewriting the traditional script of success, starting with her new book Soulbbatical: A Corporate Rebel’s Guide to Finding Your Best Life (published by Simon & Schuster). Shelley spent 26 years as a highly regarded marketing and advertising executive, stewarding some of the world’s most iconic brands, including Harley-Davidson, Visa, McDonald’s, and AOL.

In 2016 she walked away from the corporate world to become Chief Soul Officer of her newly launched company and ultimately her life. She launched Soulbbatical with the mission to liberate the souls of leaders and organizations by inspiring them to embrace their greatest truth, purpose, and possibility from the inside out. As a certified professional coach, Shelley works with execs at Fortune 100 companies and fellow rebel-soul individuals and entrepreneurs. She has also trained with some of the top teachers in the world, including researcher and five-time New York Times bestselling author, Brené Brown.

Key Points from the Episode with Shelley Paxton:

  • Shelley is a “liberator of soul,” which means she’s a coach (and author and speaker), with a focus on the idea of rebelling
  • Shelley spent a lot of her life rebelling against a lot of things, finally rebelling against corporate America, which she was entrenched in
  • What she learned is the power of rebelling for something instead of against something so we can be the ripple that causes a wave of change
  • Rebelling for something is spacious, free and forward-looking while helping you find your purpose
  • When we rebel against something, it’s about things external to us, while rebelling for something comes from within
  • In her career, Shelley had a series of great roles at great, brandname companies, working all over the world including Turkey, India and other places
  • On the back of a difficult divorce that lead to great struggle and suicide attempts, Harley-Davidson came to her to be Chief Marketing Officer, which felt like a complete rebirth in a very rebellious way at a quintessentially rebellious company
  • What she found was that she was ignoring the voice inside of her that was saying “You are making decisions out of alignment with who you are.”
  • She was “shoulding” all over herself, and paid a price every time, with health issues, nightmares and more
  • While at Harley-Davidson, she had a nightmare where a force was pulling her through the building her apartment was in, into a room that was dark and cold, with the outline of a door to a closet, with a dog she had once had behind the door, suffering, dying
  • She kept having the dream multiple nights a week, and it was having a strong impact on her
  • In response to the dreams, her doctor suggested she start meditating every day, which helped her unravel the true meaning of the nightmare, which was around nurturing, caring for and respecting herself
  • Shelley hid this struggle for so long before getting help or telling people about it, using alcohol and business to numb the pain
  • When we aren’t numbing, we can reconnect to our soul signal to help us weather the storm
  • This is where the idea of Soulbbatical comes in as Shelley left Harley to find herself
  • When you realize that the way you have been living for 20 years is not actually connected to who you are, it can be shocking and dismaying
  • It left Shelley with questions about who she actually is
  • A Soulbbatical is not about going to amazing places around the world, and expecting these locations and  experiences to be the solution
  • It’s about tuning in and doing the inner work yourself
  • Early on during this period her Soulbbatical, Shelley realized she was keeping herself busy, because that’s what she knew how to do, and this was keeping her from the work she needed to do
  • She realized she needed to do things she’s passionate about – writing, travel and photography
  • She locked herself in a house in New Zealand, and just started writing
  • In the midst of this, she lived through a 5-day long, epic monsoon, which forced her to stay inside even more than she had been and really go deep
  • She mentioned the tool of an “I am” poem, where you write about what you are from a place of where you want to be and feel empowered
  • It lead her to the idea of what if everyone had to write what Shelley calls an “Iamafesto” where we write about what we seek to be
  • What if we thought about lives as brand, with our most important work being representing our personal brand? What we we be? How would we see ourselves? How would we live those values?
  • Shelley recommends a bit of a self-audit exercise by asking two questions
    • What would change in my life right now if I were being 100% true to me?
    • What am I pretending not to know?
  • She suggests an exercise where you split a paper down the middle, and write what fuels your soul on the left, and what sucks your soul on the right
  • Then take a step back, take the list in, and see what scares or inspires you, what you can learn to change, etc.
  • How can you find more space for the Soul Fuelers and remove some of the Soul Suckers


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