Kari Caldwell of Soul School: Optimal Performance Before High Pressure Moments; How To Relieve Stress, Clear Your Head, and Prepare Yourself For High Stakes Business Encounters

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My goal is always to be overly prepared before hand, so in the moment I can relax and focus on looking for connections and relationships that I cannot “see” but can intuitively sense. In order to achieve this, I consciously breathe and force myself to take time, speak slowly, and watch for synchronicities like maybe a good feeling or a shared connection that oftentimes will unlock greater potential.

a part of our series about “Optimal Performance Before High Pressure Moments”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Kari Caldwell.

Kari Caldwell is a spiritual mentor and coach based in South Florida. As a serial entrepreneur, Kari has navigated many successful (and unsuccessful) endeavors and learned (the hard way) the true meaning of grit and the power of faith. Kari now inspires entrepreneurs and change-makers to trust their inner intuitive voice and confidently choose themselves and their dreams.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

here was a time and a place where life was simple. Slurpees at the pool in summer and hockey on the lake and snow forts in the winters. I remember riding my bike and rollerblading around the lake in my hometown, Madison, Wisconsin and always wanting to “fit in” with the boys. As I got older, I took more and more to nature to balance the growing pressure to get good grades and have a “plan” for my life. My plan was Colorado. Not a job, not a career, rather a destination. I satisfied my parents by attending college in Boulder so I could dedicate my off-hours to exploring the wild west. Eventually, I “grew up” and my descent into the pressures of the corporate world became my norm. And that is when my journey into realizing I was intuitive began. Most people think that highly intuitive people have to have a special gift or a life-altering experience. I’m proof you don’t. And it’s the reason why I do what I do. If I can figure this out, anyone can.

What or who inspired you to pursue your career as an entrepreneur or business leader? We’d love to hear the story.

I remember as a kid sitting in school, looking out over the field and suddenly noticing my dad out for a run. At that moment I realized that people get to do things (that are enjoyable) during the fixed “school” hours. I grew up in an entrepreneurial household where I witnessed the long hours and huge sacrifices. As a result, I rejected the “work hard” ethic. I believed there had to be a way to follow your passions “hard,” make a difference and pay the bills. But before you can follow that path you get to figure out what you are passionate about — and if you are courageous enough to follow it. It took me three kids, several business ventures, and huge investments in my dream to finally go the distance and give myself permission to follow my dream. My name is Kari Caldwell and I professionally teach people about faith — and yes the hard work and sacrifices have all been worth it!

None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?

If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes lifetimes of world perspectives to forge a good leader. When I met my first spiritual mentor, Shweta Shymani, my world was limited to the village. Shweta was the first of many to impart the stories of humanity and show me that my world was not confined to the scope of my limited experience, but rather an integral part in a much larger tapestry. With Shweta, I learned to use my intuition to connect to that tapestry and start to weave my own designs.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?

Imagine you’ve cleared your incredibly busy schedule, left your little kids at home with grumpy grandparents and invested significant time and money so you can up-level your business and emerge as a superstar. But while at your retreat, you realize that your strategic plan to become a superstar is…to have faith.

Faith. This was the word I heard and envisioned while participating in a “future-self” meditation at a very exclusive retreat. As a meditation coach, I knew my intuition wasn’t wrong and the message I received was faith. But as other co-participants shared their very detailed visualizations about how they will build their businesses, I quickly began to unravel. Faith. Faith!?! All I had was faith. What I needed was a business plan. Needless to say, I couldn’t make it through my share. Devastated. Ashamed. Yup. A meditation coach — and all I could come up with was “Faith”. As I left the retreat for the evening, I’ll never forget thinking, “this spiritual crap is for the birds.” And then it hit me. I wasn’t supposed to have faith in my business. I’m supposed to teach faith. That weekend was the moment my business transformed from just another coaching business into a powerful vision that is changing the world.

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The road to success is hard and requires tremendous dedication. This question is obviously a big one, but what advice would you give to a young person who aspires to follow in your footsteps and emulate your success?

Don’t be afraid to fit out and follow your passion. See every idea thru to the end. I’ve been on my spiritual journey for 12 years and ideas long abandoned 12 years ago are NOW coming full circle. You will fail. But stay connected to your heart, pursue your bigger purpose and follow your intuition.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

One night, I stumbled upon The Sacred History of the World by Mark Booth, only to discover that I would never view my relationship with myself from the same perspective ever again. While reading Booth’s retelling of the stories of the Bible and ancient mythology from a perspective of universal oneness, I was inspired to explore my own stories through the same lens. I’ve since dedicated all my work to understanding the consciousness of these stories and how they continue to evolve and influence each of our individual human experiences. In my podcast, I weave these teachings together in hopes of giving people a new framework and insight as to where we are going (spiritually) and how we can get there more effectively.

Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?

“Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without the loss of momentum.”

— Sir Winston Churchill

As an entrepreneur, I’ve learned the hard way that failure is the norm. And despite having quit on many occasions, I always found myself drawn back to taking action on my vision. I’ve since come to understand that my path is not linear (do this, so that can happen). But rather a series of events and opportunities along a spiral path. My failures are no longer ends, but rather the indication from the universe that it is time for a pause, recalibration and to work on another project. Now the transitions between projects are more infrequent, the necessary growth happens faster and the setbacks are less severe. But most importantly, I can see that what used to be separate projects are all strategic pieces of the greater puzzle — and I have discovered Sir Winston Churchill’s “momentum”.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?

My favorite project is the Running on Faith Initiative. Through a variety of offerings, including a podcast and online spiritual support membership, I get to inspire people to intuitively transform their lives by teaching them how to strengthen their intuitive core so they can minimize stress and overcome patterns that keep them stuck in feelings of exhaustion and overwhelm and live the life they intend.

OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. As a business leader, you likely often face high stakes situations that involve a lot of pressure. Most of us tend to wither in the face of such pressure and stress. Can you share with our readers 3 or 4 strategies that you use to cope with the burden of stress?

I’ve come to learn that you control your destiny with your energy. I’ve learned to use my inner energy and intuition to manage high stakes, high pressure situations. My goal is always to relieve enough pressure so that instead of stress, I’m able to focus on potential opportunities in any given moment. I utilize the following strategies to achieve this:

I am my own hero. I’ve learned to be my own hero and face my fears of failure and rejection. I focus on connecting to the bigger picture of my vision and accept that the vision is not about me — it’s about something more. This perspective shift allows me to hone in on my message without over scripting or needing to please or control people’s responses or the outcome. As a result, I’ve learned to trust implicitly that every moment and every situation is an opportunity to discover another piece of the puzzle that I’m creating, even in the moments when I fail. This perspective, in turn, frees up energy for me to focus on potential opportunities, instead of worrying about potential failure.

I strive for emotional integrity. We all know the feeling of walking into a room and being able to read the “vibe”. Similarly, we sense other people’s stress without always realizing that some of the pressure we are sensing is not our own, but rather something we’re intuitively picking up on in the environment. One time I while preparing for a session with a new client, I was struck with a panic attack. It was the strangest sensation because logically I knew I was ok; after all I don’t get panic attacks, I had a great morning and other than the potential for supporting this executive for the long term there was no major pressure. And then I realized, I was sensing my client’s anxiety, which was confirmed the moment we started our session. To manage this I connect with the positive “feelings” of the outcomes. I then evaluate any pressure I may be sensing and visualize releasing it so that I can stay in the integrity of what I would like to experience and not trigger or succumb to stress.

I go slow. Often we are so focused on the outcome and getting through our high-pressure moment that we can miss some opportunities along the way. We know this coming together of opportunities as synchronicity. Synchronicity is everywhere if we know how to look for it. One time while driving to Tampa I was running late and in my haste, missed the exit to veer across the state. If you’ve driven the turnpike in central Florida, you know there is usually an hour between exits. This day was no exception. As it turns out, I was forced to re-route to Orlando, find accommodation there and reschedule my meetings for the following day. When settling into my hotel, I got a text from a high school friend that they just arrived in Orlando. The following day, I exuberantly shared with my team the good fortune of my mishap, only to learn that the road at the exit I had missed was closed the previous day due to a horrific accident and all traffic had been re-routed to Orlando!

My goal is always to be overly prepared beforehand, so in the moment I can relax and focus on looking for connections and relationships that I cannot “see” but can intuitively sense. In order to achieve this, I consciously breathe and force myself to take time, speak slowly, and watch for synchronicities like maybe a good feeling or a shared connection that oftentimes will unlock greater potential.

Aside from being able to deal with the burden of stress, can you share with our readers 3 or 4 strategies that you use to optimize your mind for peak performance before high pressure, high stress situations?

In my experience, I’ve found the best preparation for a big moment, high-pressure situation is to get out of our own way and trust that our preparation is sufficient. But getting out of our own way requires faith; faith that extends beyond religion and cultural norms, and reaches into the core of who we are and challenges what we dare to dream. It’s the kind of faith that has the potential to open doorways to unforeseen opportunities and propel us into unexpected paths in life, oftentimes only accessible in these big moments.

In our material society we’ve lost touch and relegated the teaching of faith to exclusively religious practices. But faith is not just for religious practices. Faith is what we each individually discover every time we fail and still choose to persevere. For me, faith is our ability to believe in that which we can’t see. And when we are in a high-pressure moment its all the unknown variables that create the stress. So how do I get better at believing in what I cannot see to mitigate the stress of a high-intensity moment so we can get out of our own way?

I intuitively partner with my vision. Whether defending an idea or birthing a vision, high pressure, big moments happen because we are creating a new reality. Our dreams are like seeds. And much like gardening, we can do the preparation; plant the seeds, water, fertilize and make sure it has sun. But to actually get our garden to grow we must rely on an inherent intelligence to bring the entire picture together. This inherent intelligence is equally real for the plant AND our dreams. So often we stifle our dreams with the pressure we create for them. But if you think about it, we would never yell at our plant for not growing fast enough. I intuitively connect with this inherent intelligence to make sure I’m not pushing too hard and to sense when I need to take a break. In order to do so, I will reflect and create a very clear picture in my mind of the feelings, colors, concepts associated with my dream. As we tune in to this intelligence it begins to form a picture and we can build and store these “future memories” within our bodies so that when we are in a high intensity “moment” and feeling most vulnerable, we can still sense and be guided by our inner knowing.

I tap underutilized energy and prepare to break glass ceilings. A high-pressure moment is one of the few opportunities where enough momentum coalesces to break our personal glass ceilings and exceed our greatest personal vision. I find that extra momentum can be generated by tapping into and up-leveling areas of our lives where we hold ourselves back. You may experience it in a relationship, health, food, or finances. For me, it’s my height. I’m six feet tall. And while I teach the concept of “fitting out”, in my personal life, I like to fit “in”. But I recently realized that if I physically slouch and lower my height to “fit in” I’m sending that message to the universe. Now I consciously practice standing tall in my shoes, including heels (which puts me at 6’4”) with the intention that I can hold my ground in a high-pressure moment and use this energy to help break my own glass ceilings!

I focus on intuitively creating space instead of “letting go”. Almost all spiritual practices teach that in order to achieve a vision we should “let go” of our expectations. I don’t know any parent or busy executive that has ever been able to say, “Sure no problem, I can take a break and let go”. The reality is, the concept of “letting go” is challenging even for the most spiritually acute individuals. So instead of focusing on releasing an abstract thing, such as, “my attachment to the outcome”, I prefer to focus on being prepared for an alternative outcome that will exceed my greatest expectations. In a high intensity moment this shifts my focus from trying to control the outcomes, to identifying taking advantage of the momentum that comes in a high intensity moment. I like to think about it like baking a cake. We control the preparation; mix the ingredients, turn the oven on etc. But after that, there is an alchemical process that we don’t control. All we can do is “create space” be prepared and allow for the magic to unfold. To apply this to my dreams and my vision and be prepared in for a high stake, high-intensity moment, I develop this skill by taking short, regular breaks to meditate: In the middle of strategizing and problem-solving (the elements I can control), I will turn everything off and shift focus to my intuition (a different part of the brain). Oftentimes, the greatest success and insights are achieved when I invite my mind to stop “chattering” and co-collaborate by observing the “let go” practice.

Do you use any special or particular breathing techniques, meditations or visualizations to help optimize yourself? If you do, we’d love to hear about it.

I practice Active Meditation. I learned meditation while running my own business and mothering three young kids. Needless to say, there was not a lot of time for quiet and focus (and when there was, I fell asleep!). However, I found that I stayed engaged in meditation when I had a specific purpose that would help me manage my stress better. My Active Meditation technique evolved out of the need for meditation to be highly impactful, meaning I legitimately solved a problem and process less desirable emotions and can be accomplished in a relatively short, accessible period of time. In this Active Meditation process, we train the mind to scan specific areas of the body to identify and process both positive and negative emotions.

Do you have a special technique to develop a strong focus, and clear away distractions?

Our body is like a battery. If one end is not connected to the positive or negative it won’t sustain a charge and it becomes challenging to stay focused. My goal is to not only connect both the “positive” and “negative” charge but to train the mind and the body to sustain greater levels of grounded energy (thus enhanced the ability to stay focused). A simple practice I do called a “light link” teaches the mind to intuitively connect to both positive (symbolism: heaven) and negative (symbolism: earth) energies so you can “hook up” your human battery. The most rewarding part about this technique is that even the most inexperienced people, get huge results and with practice (just like going to the gym) transform their ability to manage stress!

We all know the importance of good habits. How have habits played a role in your success? Can you share some success habits that have helped you in your journey?

I attribute most of my success to three habits: 1) I always have a coach to give me feedback on my goals. 2) I’m an introvert. So I intentionally surround myself with people that are already achieving what I would like to accomplish, which in turn motivates the introvert in me to get out. 3) In addition to a healthy exercise and meditation practice, I drop into deep meditation for at least seven minutes per day in the middle of the busy part of the day. This usually means setting a timer and creating time no matter where I am so I can totally disconnect from whatever chaos may be ensuing in my life.

What is the best way to develop great habits for optimal performance? How can one stop bad habits?

Plan time to choose yourself and the things that make you happy. The only one capable of loving you to the level you truly want to feel and experience love, is you. Figure out what makes you feel good and choose that, every moment of every day. It’s a discipline that when you plan for it will teach you to remember the nature of who you are. And that nature has an inner force that is capable of transforming your life for the better. Our bad habits form because in some way we’re feeling insufficient and disconnected from that inner nature. Here’s how to stop it: 1) Identify the emotional need 2) figure out the pattern you engage in 3) plan time for the emotional need. Example: Spending time with my husband and kids makes me feel really good. So I have to be very disciplined about planning my schedule so there is time for all of us. When I don’t, I’m tired, I’m frustrated and I find myself binging on some sweet treat at an unconscionable hour.

As a business leader, you likely experience times when you are in a state of Flow. Flow has been described as a pleasurable mental state that occurs when you do something that you are skilled at, that is challenging, and that is meaningful. Can you share some ideas from your experience about how we can achieve a state of Flow more often in our lives?

I experience flow as an emotional high that occurs when all of my efforts come together, and my actions and choices align with my feelings in perfect synchronicity. What I’ve found is that in order to maintain a lasting state of flow all of the emotions must be flowing — or not blocked up inside of us; including the less desirable feelings of shame, guilt, and fear.

To ensure we are not “emotionally constipated” I’ve learned to manage the less desirable emotions with exercise or other cleansing activities. I’ve found thinking of them like “junk food” in the body helps me identify how to process them. The other essential element to achieving a lasting state of flow is to surround yourself with people who are constantly striving and working in that state. What I find is just like doing a “group workout” group meditation is extremely powerful in helping us move energy, without a demanding amount of effort.

Ok, we are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

I am working to evolve the world’s happiness and reverse the mental wellness crisis by inspiring people to strengthen their intuition & transform how they relate to their emotional and energetic wellbeing.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them :-)

I would love to meet Vishen Lakhiani of Mindvalley. Vishen is the leader in bridging the gap between mainstream consciousness and “alternative’’ spiritual perspectives. After countless coaches and experts have told me that, “you can’t talk about energy” in mainstream settings I’ve learned to surround myself with people who not only share my vision, but also take action on it. In mentoring both youth and leaders I’ve identified a similar gap between more experienced generations that know how to build a foundation and culture and future generations of youth that are emotionally and physiologically equipped with incredible spiritual capacity, yet lacking inability to ground their ideas and “fit in” to society. As a result, this gap fuels our epidemic of mental unwellness and unrest. Vishen’s work inspires me to keep the momentum going and see every idea through to the end.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

www.runningonfaithinitiative.com

Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success.

Thank you! It has been fun putting together!

Authority Magazine

Leadership Lessons from Authorities in Business, Film…

Parveen Panwar, Mr. Activated

Written by

Entrepreneur, angel investor and syndicated columnist, as well as a yoga, holistic health, breathwork and meditation enthusiast. Unlock the deepest powers

Authority Magazine

Leadership Lessons from Authorities in Business, Film, Sports and Tech. Authority Mag is devoted primarily to sharing interesting feature interviews of people who are authorities in their industry. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

Parveen Panwar, Mr. Activated

Written by

Entrepreneur, angel investor and syndicated columnist, as well as a yoga, holistic health, breathwork and meditation enthusiast. Unlock the deepest powers

Authority Magazine

Leadership Lessons from Authorities in Business, Film, Sports and Tech. Authority Mag is devoted primarily to sharing interesting feature interviews of people who are authorities in their industry. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

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