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Masters of The Turnaround: “Be kind to yourself” With Bronwen Sciortino of sheIQ Life Pty

Be kind to yourself. When times are tough it can be very easy to double down on the way you speak to yourself. Chances are, you’re already exhausted and stressed, but you don’t need to add to the load by creating an even harsher inner world. When you’re kind to yourself, you’ll find that your thinking will broaden and opportunities you haven’t seen before will present themselves.

As part of my series about prominent entrepreneurs and executives that overcame adversity to achieve great success”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Bronwen Sciortino.

Bronwen Sciortino is an International Author and Simplicity Expert who spent almost two decades as an award-winning executive before experiencing a life changing event that forced her to stop and ask the question ‘What if there’s a better way to live?’

Embarking on a journey to answer this question, Bronwen developed a way of living that allows you to create a tailor-made life that is perfect just for you.

Gaining international critical acclaim and 5-star awards for her books and programs, Bronwen spends every day teaching people that there is an easy, practical and simple pathway to creating a healthy, happy AND highly successful life.

Sourced globally for media comment as an expert and working with corporate programs, conference platforms, retreats, professional mentoring and in the online environment, Bronwen teaches people how easy it is to live life in a very different way.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to this specific career path?

For almost two decades, I was a highly successful businesswoman. But … I was also a perfectionist.

I drove myself way too hard, for way too long until I pushed myself over the precipice and into the depths of a complete breakdown.

We hear a lot about stress, burnout and exhaustion these days and, just like mindfulness and resilience, we’re seeing a whole sector of the health and wellness industry focusing on educating people around how to avoid these outcomes.

I experienced all of these things and pushed myself relentlessly through them. I knew something wasn’t right and I knew I was unwell … and yet I kept going anyway.

Then one day my life shattered around me, and in less than 60 seconds I went from being an award-winning executive to on the floor, unable to cope with the basics in life and unable to stop crying.

This came off the back of a surgical procedure to remove a tumour from my temple. When I saw the wound for the first time, the shock of the reflection in the mirror was so severe that it flipped me into an alternate reality where nothing was ever to be the same again.

It took me two years of deep, confronting and overwhelming work to claw my way back to being able to participate in life. It was another year of this work that saw me being able to stand strongly in the thriving, connected and simple life that I lead today.

Now, I spend every minute teaching people around the world how to create the tailor-made life that is perfect just for them.

I dedicate every working minute to showing everyone that there’s a simple and practical pathway to creating a life that is happy, healthy AND highly successful.

Can you share your story of when you were on the brink of failure? First, take us back to what it was like during the darkest days.

As a perfectionist, breaking down was the absolute depth of failure for me. When you’re caught in the perfection trap, you spend every minute of every day expending every last scrap of energy you have trying to make everyone around you believe that everything is under control.

When I broke, for me, it was a glaringly obvious signal to the world that I had failed.

I was completely lost, and I believed that the wound on my face had turned me into a monster for everyone to see.

In those first moments, days and weeks after my collapse, it seemed like I had lost everything and that my failure to hold myself together meant that I would be subjected to a life of mediocrity for the rest of this lifetime.

I couldn’t see past the wound on my head; the visibility of it made me believe that I would be an object of ridicule and finger pointing for the rest of my days. All I could picture in my mind was people pointing and talking about me behind their hands and behind my back. I couldn’t stand the thought of the ridicule any more than I could stand the thought of the pity.

I had never been a ‘poor me’ kind of person. I wasn’t a victim; I had everything under control. Until I didn’t.

The worst part of this situation is feeling like you’re completely misunderstood. It felt like everyone came to their own conclusions about what was wrong with me, and what therefore would ‘fix’ me. I didn’t understand what was going on for me, so how could they have possibly known?

Nothing in my life was perfect, and it was all on display for the world to see. I have never felt so lost or alone as I did in those first months of being broken, having no idea which direction to turn for help and of having no control over what was happening.

What was your mindset during such a challenging time? Where did you get the drive to keep going when things were so hard?

I was lost, alone, terrified, mortified, angry, hurt, scared and miserable at the thought that after all I had poured into getting to where I was that I had amounted to nothing. The thought that I had failed — and that by failing I would impact the future of others as well — was devastating for me.

I was completely broken. There were no energy reserves anywhere for me to draw from, and the weight of my failure to withstand the pressure of the load was too heavy for me to bear.

I was ready to give up. I was ready to be set aside — I even offered to be set aside — so that others could get on with their lives without the stigma of association.

In my most broken moments, I wanted to protect those around me from being tarnished with the same brush.

I spent two weeks in this mindset before a friend made me an appointment to see a counsellor who specialised in grief and trauma being experienced by cancer patients. I dragged myself to the appointment and started the process of pulling at the threads that had wound themselves together to create a big, messy, knotted ball of ‘stuff’.

By learning to deliberately unravel the things that had gone together to get me where I was, I started the process of learning to step back and view facts without emotions.

When you learn to set the emotion aside, and allow the facts to stand on their own, its so much easier to review the information impartially. When you do this, you can find the pieces of information that help you move forwards in a kinder way.

Tell us how you were able to overcome such adversity and achieve massive success? What did the next chapter look like?

One of the most powerful things I learned to do was to turn my inner critic into my loudest cheerleader.

I used to have an inner voice that was mean, harshly critical and so, so nasty. She was so kind and loving and compassionate to everyone else, but completely unsupportive when it came to myself.

Learning to change the perspective on the conversation and recognise the things within me that were ‘shout worthy’ was the greatest turning point of my recovery.

The more I learned to cheer myself, my characteristics, my achievements and all of my steps, the easier it became to move forwards.

I slowly got to know the truest version of myself, and to acknowledge the strengths that I hold within.

As I recovered, I recognised that I had a fear (actually, I was terrified) of writing anything personal down. After all, something personal written down could be used as evidence against me that I wasn’t perfect.

I started journaling to overcome this fear and from that, my first book ‘Keep It Super Simple’ was published. As this went out into the world, people loved what they were reading and began to request other ways to work with me.

Suddenly, I found myself as an ‘accidental entrepreneur’ with a global business that worked with people through corporate programs, conference platforms, retreats, professional mentoring and in the online environment.

I have since gone on to publish more books and online programs, and continue to be sourced as an expert by the media, helping people to understand what makes them tick and then find the simplest solution that creates the perfect life for them.

Based on your experience, can you share a 3 actionable pieces of advice about how to develop the mindset needed to persevere through adversity? (Please share a story or example for each.)

For me, there are three key things to action when you feel yourself under pressure:

  1. Be kind to yourself. When times are tough it can be very easy to double down on the way you speak to yourself. Chances are, you’re already exhausted and stressed, but you don’t need to add to the load by creating an even harsher inner world. When you’re kind to yourself, you’ll find that your thinking will broaden and opportunities you haven’t seen before will present themselves.
  2. Ask yourself: ‘What can I do here?’ When you’re in the middle of an extreme challenge, you can find yourself getting caught up in all the things you can’t do. This mindset keeps you stuck in place and doesn’t allow you to move forwards (or in any other direction). Questions are one of the most powerful tools we have in life. When you start asking the question ‘What can I do here?’ you give yourself permission to see past the challenge you’re locking horns with and open your mind to find new solutions. Challenges only have power over you while they keep you locked in place. Ask questions can help you find new information that allows you to see things in a different way. Once you do this, it’s a matter of finding the simplest step that will take you in a new direction.
  3. Find the simplest step that takes you where you want to go. As humans we have an extraordinary ability to find ways to make simple things complex. You’ve most likely heard the saying ‘…life wasn’t meant to be easy …’, but I’ll bet you have no idea just how much you’ve embraced living that way. You’ve probably even used that saying when explaining a challenge you’re facing to someone else. It’s time to let that saying go and instead ask yourself ‘What is the simplest step I can take next?’ When you ask this question you will find new solutions and opportunities present that allow you to break the nexus with the challenge and move forwards in a different way.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

There are a number of people who played a significant role in helping me to recover and rebuild my life, but the person I hold the most gratitude for is my husband, Jon.

My life broke, and it felt like I lost everything in less than 60 seconds. But Jon’s life changed extensively as well. He went from having an independent, highly active wife to having a fully dependent and seriously unwell person that he became responsible for.

Neither of us had any idea what had happened, what the cause was or how to fix the situation. He stepped up, without complaint, and made sure I got the support I needed so I could recover and move forwards.

We discovered that there was lots of assistance (counselling, alternative therapies, medical subsidies and the like) for me, but almost nothing available to him as a carer.

He was there for me. He allowed me to take the steps I needed to so I could create the ‘new me’ moving forwards. He never complained. He never made the situation about him.

But mostly, he reminded me every day that he loved me — no matter what.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

I use my own life experiences as the litmus test for the products I create. I try out solutions and processes and hone them so that people can access the easiest, most practical and simple ways to create the things that work in their lives.

I am currently working on my next book, a series of mini-programs to help people re-set their lives after the trauma of the last couple of years and also on a series of corporate programs that can help organisations provide simple, practical and effective health and wellness training to their employees as a way of tranisitioning to a post-pandemic life.

I have no intention of selling anyone my perfect life, or the strategies that worked for me to turn my life around. They’re mine, created and tailored specifically to meet my needs, so the chances that they will work for someone else are slim.

What I am interested in, however, is providing products and services that give people the tools and resources they need so they can create the tailored made life that is perfect for them.

Everything I create focuses on providing a path that every single unique individual in the world can follow to create the solution that is right for them.

I believe this is the ONLY way forward.

The way we’ve been living our lives up to this point hasn’t worked.

The world is exhausted and suffering horribly from the side effects of being chronically over-stimulated and under stress. The long-held way of living that saw us push through and worry about our health later is at a crisis point.

It’s clear that we need to do things differently.

My products and services help people to find the ‘difference’ using tools and resources that allow them to get there with easy, simple and practical steps are that perfect just for them.

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. :-)

I would inspire people to view the world with a filter of love.

We’ve been taught to compare, judge and criticise as the primary way of determining where we are at in comparison. We’ve been taught that competition — and getting to the top no matter what it costs us (or those around us) — is the number one objective in life.

If we could view everything in front of us as a projection showing us the direction of our next step, maybe we’d see the end of war, the end of greed and the end of a life full of ill-heath and misery.

We’d be aligned with the things that are important to us, and simply let go of the things that aren’t.

We’d be happy for everyone’s achievements while still chasing our own. We’d move to living life from a place of abundance for all, instead of lack and competition for scarce resources.

Any parting words of wisdom that you would like to share?

It’s not until you take the time to understand who you are, without any judgement or criticism, that you can find the things that give you connection in your life.

It is said that two of the greatest questions we have in life are ‘Who AM I?’ and ‘Why am I here?’.

When we run around doing the things that everyone tells us we ‘should do’, we ‘need to do’ and that we ‘have to do’ without any thought about whether they’re right for us, we move ourselves further and further away from the things that really make your heart sing. The more disconnected your life becomes, the more you’ll try and cram into your life in the hope that something makes things easier.

The solution is to start using the power of questions to move yourself towards the things that are right for you — the ones that give you energy and make you smile.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

I spend a lot of time in the online space and am frequently sought as an expert for media across all channels. I share a lot of my work through my online platforms that readers can access by connecting with me:

Website Link: https://www.sheiqlife.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bronwensciortinoauthor/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/bronwensciortino_author/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/bronwensciortino

Free Email Series: https://www.sheiqlife.com/7-steps-email-series/

Organisational Health & Wellness Kit: https://sheiqlife.com/product/organisational-health-wellness-planning-kit/

I also have an online program to assist busy professional women reduce stress and beat burnout that can be accessed here: https://sheiqlife.com/kiss-fbpw/

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.

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