Courtney Elmer: “Work on Yourself First; There’s a human behind every business, if that human isn’t growing or being well-cared for, how can you expect the business to grow and thrive”
Work on Yourself First. There’s a human behind every business. If that human isn’t growing or being well-cared for, how can you expect the business to grow and thrive? This is a question I often ask my students and clients, and it’s one I also ask myself. A business on its own is just a business. That business is nothing without you. Our “weaknesses” are an opportunity for us to grow. That’s why anytime I notice my own shortcomings, I lean in and see where I can improve. The biggest room in your house is the room for improvement.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Courtney Elmer. She is a Business Strategist and Stress Expert who teaches high-achieving women how to expand their income + impact without the stress (or as Courtney loves to say: “how to make bank in their biz without the burnout!”) After a fast-paced career and overcoming cancer at the age of 25, Courtney realized that life’s too short to waste any time feeling stressed, overwhelmed, and overworked. Now as the creator and founder of The StressLESS System©️, Courtney specializes in showing busy women how to ditch the overwhelm, create order out of life’s chaos, and find their inner peace. She’s known for sharing simple, actionable steps to help them scale their business without the stress, so they can have more time to enjoy the life that’s in front of them right now. After all, “StressLESS, LiveMORE” is her motto! You’ll find her in New Orleans with her husband Alan and their son AJ, most likely with a hot cappuccino and piece of dark chocolate somewhere nearby.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Overcoming cancer at 25 was NOT how I expected to start my journey as an entrepreneur! But that’s exactly where my story starts because as I sat there in that cold, sterile exam room, THAT was the moment I realized that life is too short.
That’s when I decided to quit burning myself out, feeling like I had to choose between having success or having a life I truly loved, and figure out how to have both. So I walked away from my fast-paced career (and all the luxury and accolades that went with it) and became obsessed with finding the answer to the much deeper question: “WHY do stress, overwhelm, and burnout happen in the first place, especially to people who are pursuing their passion and working toward their dreams?”
From then on, I quit buying into the belief that to be successful I meant I had to DO it all.
That’s why facing this unimaginable challenge was not the end. It was my beginning! My test literally became my testimony, and I created what’s now known as the StressLESS System© to help high-achieving women carve out a clear path to create wild success — without the stress.
What is it about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?
There’s a dangerous belief running rampant in our society that “doing more = more success.”
BUT IT DOESN’T.
You know it, I know it, yet still, we go through the motions day after day in an endless, exhausting pursuit of “our dreams.” We feel this intense pressure to get everything done right now, and no matter how hard we work, we often feel like we’re taking one step forward and two steps back.
We try to “manage” stress and “manage” time, as if they are dogs on a leash that we think once we tame, then we’ll be happy.
But it doesn’t work like that.
We’ve convinced ourselves that hustling harder is the only way to get what we want out of life, which is why what I’m doing is so disruptive. I’m literally challenging not only the status quo but the belief that’s woven into our Western Society that stress and overwhelm are “just normal,” and that if we want to be successful, we have to “work hard for it.”
I’m here to show you a different way.
We all need a little help along the journey — who have been some of your mentors? Can you share how they made an impact?
Absolutely! I’m a huge advocate for hiring mentors and coaches who are a few steps ahead of you on their journeys, to show you how to get to where they are (and point out any blind spots that are holding you back!)
I wouldn’t be where I am today without my two primary mentors: Janelle Fraser and James Wedmore.
Janelle has been instrumental in the deep personal transformation I’ve experienced along the way, and in learning how my own journey plays a much bigger role in my overall mission. When I discovered this, I was able to structure my business in a way that’s in such alignment with the desires of my heart: sustainable and simple, not stressful!
James Wedmore and his program, Business by Design, has been an invaluable resource to me along the way as well. Because as my biz took off it was obvious I needed a framework to get my message out to the world in a bigger way. I knew to add an online component was the answer, but I was so afraid of losing that authentic human connection if I tried to take these powerful, transformative experiences I created offline and put them online.
But I needed to make a decision fast, because not only was my business growing beyond what I could handle on my own, I’d just become a mom and I wanted to stay true to my personal mission of stressing less while scaling my business.
James has made it so easy to track my progress, make sense of the numbers, and know exactly when I’m on track, and in a way that’s total alignment with my own mission — scaling my business without the stress.
Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.
Work on Yourself First
There’s a human behind every business. If that human isn’t growing or being well-cared for, how can you expect the business to grow and thrive?
This is a question I often ask my students and clients, and it’s one I also ask myself.
A business on its own is just a business. That business is nothing without you.
Our “weaknesses” are an opportunity for us to grow. That’s why anytime I notice my own shortcomings, I lean in and see where I can improve.
The biggest room in your house is the room for improvement.
Ask Better Questions
Too often in life and in business, we ask ourselves bad questions. In my career before my “epiphany,” I’d ask myself “what do I need to do to stress less?” My answer came in the form of more things to do, such as “go get a massage,” “sleep in,” “grab lunch with a friend,” etc.
But then, I became aware and started asking myself a better question: not, “how do I get rid of stress?” but “why does stress happen in the first place?”
The same goes for every area of our life.
So instead of, “why is this so hard?” ask: “what’s one thing I can change to make this easier?”
Instead of giving an excuse as to why you can’t do something, ask yourself: “how can I?”
Instead of “why am I not hitting my goals?” ask: “where am I spending my time?”
Always remember, the quality of your life is determined by the quality of the questions you ask yourself.
As cliche as I’m about to sound if I had a dollar for every time I either got or gave this advice, I’d be flying my private jet to Antigua right now.
Even if things don’t go according to your ideal plan, it doesn’t mean you’re a failure. (oftentimes, this is what we unconsciously make it mean when we set goals and don’t hit them, or make plans that don’t go the way we expected.)
Expectations are a sneaky thing: we set them in our heads without even realizing it, and then when life doesn’t happen according to our “expectations,” we experience the pain of loss — even though all we’re “losing” is the perfect idea we had in our minds, to begin with.
So instead, focus on what you CAN control, and surrender the rest.
I know, it’s tough to do, but also incredibly freeing. This has been the most powerful and pervasive mindset shift in all areas of my life.
How are you going to shake things up next?
The last half or 2019 is going to be a huge period of growth for the company! We’re officially re-opening the doors to “Chaos to Clarity,” my signature 6-week digital group coaching experience where I teach the StressLESS System© to live to high-achieving women who want to learn how to have it all without having to do it all.
The StressLESS, LiveMORE podcast is launching later this Fall, and my book proposal is out for bid to find the right publisher!
But even with all of these exciting things in the works, my #1 mission is the same: serve others by walking my talk. The best way I can teach others to StressLESS is if I’m living my mission in my own life.
Do you have a book/podcast/talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us?
One of my all-time favorite reads is The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery by Ian Cron and Suzanne Stabile.
(If you’re not familiar with the Enneagram, this book is a perfect introduction!)
I literally laughed out loud when I read one of the chapters (with my husband Alan sound asleep in bed next to me!) because I’m a “One” through and through (the “Perfectionist”) and everything this chapter said was SO ME. Dead on!
What I learned was revealing: there IS a rhyme and reason to why I think and act the way I do — part of it’s wired into my personality. And the same goes for you.
The more you can get to know yourself and how you operate, the more you can operate better in all areas of your life. I highly recommend this book if you want to deepen your own self-awareness!
I’m a major podcast junkie, too. I may be biased but there’s a lot of buzz about the new StressLESS, LiveMORE podcast launching this Fall — it’s supposed to be off the charts! ;)
Also biased, but my mentor James Wedmore’s podcast, “Mind Your Business” is truly powerful. James and I speak a lot of the same language when it comes to going deeper into how we think and act the way we do. If you want to do things differently, you have to think differently and get to the root cause of the problems, challenges, and struggles you face in your daily life. This podcast is a great introduction to this conversation and teaches you how to shift the beliefs you have that might be holding you back and also identify any blind spots standing in your way so that you can overcome them. Highly recommend if you want to grow your business faster — it starts from within!
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
Dang, what a great question! For me, I envision a world that marches to the beat of a different drum. One where…
- stress and overwhelm are not “normal,” but an invitation to go deeper and identify where we’ve gotten off track
- we CHOOSE every single to shine our light and use our gifts to make a difference in the world, despite any fears that would otherwise hold us back
- we lift each other up and rise together, encouraging each other to work through blind spots and obstacles along the way
- we know, deep down in our soul, that we are enough, and that our worth lies in who we ARE, not what we “do”
It’s time to rewrite the story of our future generations. The time to shift the status quo is NOW.
We need to cultivate and deepen our collective awareness and learn how to Stress LESS, and Live MORE.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“80% perfect is perfect Courtney.”
This is what my dad would tell me when I was a girl. He saw my inner perfectionist and knew that in my quest for doing things 100% right all the time, I’d stress myself out over the 20% that didn’t matter to anyone else anyway.
My personality type is prone to perfectionism, so I tended to take what he said with a grain of salt. In the meantime, I’d burn myself out trying to do everything “right” and get it “perfect.” It was exhausting.
Then one day it was like the lights switched on and I FINALLY understood what he‘d been telling me all these years: that 80% is perfect enough.
That I am enough.
That I‘m worth more than what I do, or how “right” I do it.
That’s the day I set myself free, and I’ve been focusing on the “80% Solution” ever since. I admit it’s not always easy, but when I remind myself that I am intrinsically worth more than what I “do” or “accomplish,” my soul relaxes a bit and my mind is put at ease.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Although I run a primarily digital company, I believe in the power of human connection. And that’s why I love technology because it’s what connects me to YOU! I hope you’ll come to hang out with me on the ‘Gram @CourtneyElmer_ where I’m there every day sharing tips, hacks, and insider strategies to help you scale your business without the stress.
I can’t wait to connect with you!