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Navigating Non-Conformity • How I Re-invented my Career + Business Identities 16 Times • Part 1
Navigating Non-Conformity • How I Re-invented my Career + Business Identities 16 Times • Part 2

Identity no. 9 • online Strategist

In Humanitarian Aid • For Non-profit • As Employee

What lead me here • What lead me here • I'm grateful for my time in Rwanda. It validated that my next career move would HAVE to be international. It boosted my professional role from worker to manager and skyrocketed my confidence to set up 5 interviews in 5 days in New York City. I applied to every creative/online strategist/web design position I could find in the international development sector. I even brought fresh shirts and heels to change into after taking the NYC subway in July from interview to interview. By day 5, I got my dream job in headquarters, a long-term position (finally!), in a city filled with shiny objects. I flew home on day 6, packed up my life in Vancouver and moved to NYC on day 7. Dream life, here I come!!! Grit: 4/10 | Magic: 20/10.

Name that fear • "Will my field mission colleagues think I've abandoned them, by moving on to greener pastures?" Fear of disloyalty, fear of disconnection, and fear of success.

Why I left • I finished a two-year project in 8 months and there was no "up" to climb. Also, by the end of that year, I realised that my salary, minus my very frugal expenses, yielded $48 in savings. Not a sustainable career path or lifestyle.

Greatest lesson • I finally knew what "they" meant, when they said, "Throw caution to the wind and follow your greatest bliss." Which for me was freedom!

Critics corner • "You're a miserable daughter who failed at becoming the best eldest son / doctor / lawyer we wanted you to be. You failed to buy us a single-family house with a large garage and backyard in this insane Vancouver real-estate market." (I was only 25 and had already contributed $20,000 towards parents' down-payment.)

Identity no. 10 • Global Project Manager

In Humanitarian Aid • For Non-profit • As Employee

What lead me here • At my previous job, I was tracking Google Analytics and noticed a lot of traffic from a website. I clicked on it and saw a posting for my dream job WITH a higher salary AND a larger organization. I resumed work, but felt an urge to look it up later at home, by which time the ad had percolated much further down the listing. What where the chances that I saw it at the TOP of that page the EXACT moment I click on that website?!? I got the job effortlessly and for the first time, I had a great boss AND got to use my creative talents AND did good AND had generous/talented/funny colleagues AND shiny, shiny travels AND plenty of vacation time AND a good salary! Phew, only took 10 career overhauls. Grit: 1/10 | Magic: 18/10.

Name that fear • "Will they think that I am a thoughtless, heartless piece of shit by the mere act of leaving my former employer?" Agony, fear of (distorted perception of) disloyalty, fear of success, fear of self-worth, fear of martyrdom (disillusion that my purpose for existing was to take responsibility for everything and everyone).

Why I left • Again, I would finish 6-month projects in 2 weeks. It very painfully sunk in that no matter how much results I produced, there would be no commensurate acknowledgement, compensation, or growth opportunity. I even spearheaded an international $1.2M initiative and nada... You're paid for hours sat at your desk, not for talent.

Greatest lesson • You no longer fear death when you've truly lived. I've stuck so many hands and hearts and heads and limbs into so many cookie jars. There's no possible way to fear death now!

Critics corner • "<insert heavy, heavy contempt devoid of any kindness> Heh. Where are you off to now, uh-gain?"

Identity no. 11 • United Nations Coordinator

In Leadership • For United Nations • As Consultant

What lead me here • As other international offices took notice of my work and flew me to their countries to lead projects, I made a name for myself as a consultant. I basically helped United Nations and big international aid agencies play nice together. Oh man, the money was grrrreat! I bid for and got the projects I wanted, with teams already well-versed in remote-working. I was a digital nomad 8 years ago before that term was coined. Grit: 6/10 | Magic: 6/10.

Name that fear • "I wonder who will take this away from me or who will leech my money?" Fear of greatness, fear of prosperity, fear of being taken advantage of again.

Why I left • Two words: bureaucracy and wastage. High positioned clients demanded results, but were never accountable to delivering the assets needed for me to produce those results. The deeper into the system I got, the more I witnessed disgusting money wastage.

Greatest lesson • Career paths, life purposes (<-- plural), soul contracts (<-- also plural), they all unfold like petals of a blossoming flower. There are times when it's all uphill and times when it's all downhill. That's just the way it is. Fighting that only creates suffering.

Critics corner • "So... um... when are you gonna get a real job?" (Dad's words, on my 11th career, where I'd nearly reached six-figures!)
"Don't sweat it. You're not leadership material anyway." (Mom's words, I kid you not.)

Identity no. 12 • Digital Marketing Agency

In Wellness • For Small Businesses • As Entrepreneur

What lead me here • Humanitarian aid had "failed" me with its sloth speed and growth ceilings, so I chose to return to my joy-filled roots of web design (see career 2), where bliss, timelessness, purity of the work, serenity, and unlimited creativity converged. Personally, I also needed rest and nourishment after a soul-wrenching breakup and running on empty cylinders since age 14. I found and bid for a client contract ONE day before the application deadline. They called me the next day, on my birthday, to invite me to an interview. Within two weeks, I got the contract. What were the chances?!? This client lead me to move from Asia back to Vancouver, Canada. So I dove into health and wellness as a small digital marketing agency, another career 180. Being around heart-centered, purposeful passionate people was a refreshing change to UN bureaucratic cogs. Grit: 4/10 | Magic: 10/10.

Name that fear • "Had I really given up a prestigious and lucrative consultancy, after all that networking effort and courage to follow my heart into humanitarian aid? Nobody knows me in health and wellness..." Fear of identity crisis and depression, again.

Why I left • No amount of branding and website design would convert to sales and prosperity if a client had self-worth, financial scarcity and emotional wounds. I was tired of working for my clients. The same process, again and again, until they hit a wall and needed to do lots of self-work. I felt I mastered this arena. Is this all there is? I felt an instant tsunami of soul boredom and atrophy.

Greatest lesson • I always tell my clients and students, "If you choose security, you’ll have security. But if you choose freedom, you’ll have freedom… AND security!" Tada!

Critics corner • "You're insane for flushing a lucrative business down the toilet, for this wellness non-sense! There's definitely something not right with you."

Identity no. 13 • Success Coach

In Leadership • For Small Businesses • As Solopreneur

What lead me here • I got stood up on a date for the first and last time. So I took myself on a date to the regional wellness show. Of all the dozens upon dozens of doors I could have walked through, from the very first booth I approached, a woman jumped out at me and offered a "laser session." I thought she meant for my eyebrows or my legs. But it was Sue, the program advisor for CTI, the school I'd end up doing my $12,000 coach and $15,000 leadership training with. What were the chances?!? Grit: 1/10 | Magic: 20/10.

Name that fear • "Was I really going to throw away another lucrative business that I'm hyper talented at for an out-of-nowhere "calling" into coaching (which might as well have been voodoo at the time lol!). I remember wrapping up my last digital agency client ($60k-$70k contracts, for 1 month of work) and feeling the most expansive freedom and bliss. Next morning, I couldn't close the lid on my daily smoothie cup because my hands shook so violently from pure anxiety and fear of the unknown, fear of failure (a first for me!), fear of imposter syndrome, fear of ANOTHER identity crisis, and ANOTHER round of depression, fear of letting go of the good (certainty) to draw in the great (spiritual fulfillment and personal empowerment).

Why I left • I didn't. I simply felt something was missing. After reading Robert Kiyosaki's Four Quadrants book, I realized the residual income aspect was missing, for myself AND my clients: if we stopped working, we stopped earning.

Greatest lesson • Universe will test your willingness, again and again, to sell your soul purpose for physical safety. It doesn't feel fair, and that's how the laws of the Universe operate. Fighting them is a huge waste of time and great source of suffering.

Critics corner • "So you think you’re better than us now?"

Identity no. 14 • Wealth Mentor

In Real Estate • For Small Businesses • As Consultant

What lead me here • Something was missing... for my clients and my own coaching business. As solopreneurs, we had created a j-o-b for ourselves, but worse because now we have CEO, COO, CFO, CTO, CMO, CHRO and admin hats to wear. So I split my business into 51% wealth mentoring (new) and 49% mindset coaching (as before). At one point, through 4 businesses, 3 real estate properties and various digital products, I was earning $5,000/month working 2-3 days a month. Woo, bliss! Fullfillment! Freedom! Grit: 9/10 | Magic: 9/10.

Name that fear • "What will people say if I shine my true talents of wealth cultivation and spiritual fulfillment?" Fear of my own greatness and power of influence, fear of being hacked down to size or burnt at the stake for being too great.

Why I left • I didn't. The deeper my clients and I dug into wealth creation and soul fulfillment, the more we struck vulnerable nerves of shame and/or past trauma. I needed more tools.

Greatest Lesson • The hardest part about becoming great is letting go of those who are not.

Critics corner • "Who do you think YOU are?" (In an industry where I'm "disadvantaged" by gender, skin color, age, introversion, personality, upbringing, hyper-integrity... pretty much every part of who I am).

Identity no. 15 • Psychotherapist

In Leadership • For Small Businesses • As Solopreneur

What lead me here • I fell in love with Brené Brown's work after I watched her TEDx Talk on The Power of Vulnerability and heard her say "You are enough." She was the first to ever "see" me and validate this truth. I wanted to meet her, thank her in person. She wasn't scheduled for any talks or book tour, but I stumbled upon her The Daring Way program. As a certified coach, I qualified, so I signed up on a whim, THAT's how much I wanted to meet her. I found out at the in-person training that: 1. The training sold out 3 days later. 2. My training would be her LAST training (future ones lead by her senior faculty). 3. The day I signed-up happened to be THE DAY they opened this very last training because all previous ones were sold out. What were the freakin' chances?!? Grit: 1/10 | Magic: 18/10.

Name that fear • I did not expect the training to plunge me into such a deep turbulence, shame storm and depression... I faced the terror of allowing ALL my repressed shame, grief, loss, shadows and humanity to the surface.

Why I left • I didn't. I just don't spend time with clients on "mommy and daddy" issues. I use the powerful neuro-behavioral and somatic tools that I acquired to dissolve shame with my clients, so we can move on to "fly the nest" empowerment.

Greatest lesson • Entrepreneurship is a spiritual quest. Since I can remember, all I've ever wanted was to be free. I never expected entrepreneurship as the vehicle, that lead me through the forest of changing soul types, learning to meditate, breaking an engagement, legally changing my first AND last name, leaving my soulmate, healing developmental PTSD and alchemizing the world's grief (once I burnt through all mine).

Critics corner • "We have no clue what you're even doing these days. We don't know what to tell our friends when they ask. How are you making  any money?"

Identity no. 16 • Soul Guardian

In Spirituality • For Small Businesses • As Entrepreneur

What lead me here • I'd been collecting soul-inspired breadcrumbs for my new coaching/mentoring/psychotherapy brand for a while. I knew it was "Guide to (something). Then during a transcendent higher consciousness retreat, Grace came to me. Guide to Grace, that it! Everything that I tried, everything that I failed at, and everything I succeeded at, everything that I do and everything that I am had converged into this role of soul guardian, ushering women founders, overachievers and trailblazer towards a global movement of soul maturation + lifestyle freedom. Basically, the two hardest things to attain in Earth School, lol! Of course, I had to go for the HARDEST quest. Sigh. Grit: 2/10 | Magic: 18/10.

Name that fear • "I don't want to be labelled 'woo-woo'." Fear of fulfilling soul's sacred contract.

Greatest lesson • There is no price I wouldn't pay to know, feel and live the jubilation that every single thing I work on is for ME, for MY dreams, for MY way of illuminating the world. Not for some cog machine. Not for "the man." But for the fullest expression of the divinity within me.

Why I left • I'm here to stay!

Critics corner <Crickets> (Huh. Interesting.)

In the end...

If any past, present or future critics ask, "Why are you going so fast?", ask them "Why are you going so slow?"

If any past, present or future critics ask, "Why are you constantly changing?", ask them, "Why are you prolonging your own suffering?"

If any past, present or future critics ask, "Why can’t you stay still?", ask them, "What are you waiting for?"


With infinite grace,

xo, Ella

Women who are free will set the world free

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Ellany LeaAUTHOR • When Ellany said yes to freedompreneurship, she had no idea it'd turn into a spiritual quest of reclaiming the 1,000 pieces of her soul.