This week, the world lost a truly transformational leader as Debbie Ford passed away, losing her battle with cancer at the age of 57. Debbie was a New York Times bestselling author, teacher, trainer, and internationally recognized expert in personal transformation. Yet it's not the accolades that I mourn and celebrate today.
You see, Debbie Ford touched and transformed people in a way that was unique. Her methods were neither a quick fix nor a "rainbows and puppies" solution. They were rooted in exploring the dark side (our shadows), embracing them, and thereby empowering people with the emotional freedom to truly shine. I am one of those people on whom Debbie left an indelible mark.
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I discovered her work at a critical point in my life. I had been landing the nice jobs with corporate companies but dying a slow emotional death, mired in a great deal of self-loathing, and feeling hopeless about the possibilities for an inspiring future. Like many, I discovered Debbie on Oprah. Devouring her book, The Dark Side of the Light Chasers, I saw myself in her words, perhaps for the first time.
At the time, I was not the kind of person who would attend a workshop or do anything out of the box. I was a fearful woman who struggled with panic and anxiety attacks and didn't stray too far from what was expected of me. This is why it made no logical sense whatsoever that in 2001 I drove by myself to upstate New York to attend her Shadow Process at Omega Institute.
There really is no way to explain that weekend except to say in the course of three days, I hit my lowest lows and highest highs. I was forever changed, and it became the catalyst for everything that followed.
I eventually spent over a year training personally with Debbie and her staff, becoming a coach. That's when I realized my career emancipation. I can remember standing in the San Diego sunshine and speaking with a man named Dick during one of our breaks. I asked him what he did for a living; he owned some sort of industrial widget distributor company. When I asked why widgets, he told me, "I chose this so my business life supports my whole life in the way I want it to (freedom, financially, et cetera)." His words that have become my mantra. I realized in that moment -- as I stood in a room full of people who were mostly following entrepreneurial, business owner, or other nontraditional career paths -- that there could be a different way to earn a living than sitting in the death cubicle, passing time, waiting for "someday" to truly live.
The transformation I experienced as a person, a professional, and leader could never be fully described. Without Debbie's impact on my life, I would have no business. I wouldn't have realized deep relationships with family and loved ones. There would be no outdoor adventures, no book, and frankly, I wonder if I could have even survived the soul-suicide path that I was on at all. The personal freedom, the depth of life experiences, and the empowerment that came from these times has only deepened and widened as I've continued on my journey. Her work first taught me how to go inside and connect head and heart. This is the seat of all wisdom and one of the tenets of the Intuitive Intelligence® work I created.
The author of nine books, Debbie was writing her tenth at the time of her death. Her pioneering books are as relevant today as when her first was published in 1998. Her willingness to share her personal story, and use that as a catalyst for herself and the world at large, remains inspiring. Her books reach deeper than so much other "self-help" work, and in so many ways. For instance, Spiritual Divorce allowed me to move through the separation of my old professional life to a new one (not to mention helping so many people work toward a conscious divorce).
She was a frequent media guest, and many remember her from her appearances on Oprah. Her last was in October 2012, on the Super Soul Sunday series. She spoke publicly about her battle with cancer (click the link; her incredible video clip is worth watching). From her workshops and lectures to the amazing work she and her staff did training transformational leaders through The Ford Institute to her philanthropic efforts with The Collective Heart: The positive impact she's had on individual lives and the collective world is immeasurable.
For more details, I recommend reading the wonderful piece from New Consciousness Review celebrating Debbie's life, as well as the words of Deepak Chopra as he remembers his friend and colleague. Her sister Arielle Ford, also a spiritual teacher, composed a beautiful letter from the family. You can bask in some live moments with Debbie on her YouTube Channel.
Her work will live on, so even if you've never heard of her before, you may be reading this article for a reason that calls you to discover her work for the very first time.
I'll share with you the closing of the very deeply personal essay I wrote as my final assignment during my coach training in her program. I believe it sums up the profound power of learning to go inside, shift your being-ness, and bring that to all you do in your life and business. I believe it also sums up the infinite and eternal work this dear teacher will continue to have in this world and beyond.
So, as I shift, those around me shift. All of us who do this work act like ripples in water allowing the vibrations of our energy and spirit to touch others and return to us full circle.
Paula Gregorowicz plucks women business owners off the hamster wheel of overwhelm, struggle, and self-doubt and guides them to a purposeful path of building authentic and successful businesses using a unique blend of practical action and inner awareness.
Download the free recording: "Price with Confidence & Get Paid What You're Worth" at http://www.pricewithconfidence.com.
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