Rising Through Resilience: Tijen Genco On The Five Things You Can Do To Become More Resilient
An Interview With Fotis Georgiadis
Creating a mantra that helps you with that. While deciding the treatment options I was feeling quite upset, keeping the news to myself, and not liking the Western medicine options that I found to be abrasive. There was an overwhelming amount of information to understand, to digest, and to decide all at the same time in order to progress toward a decided course of action. All of this was too much. I developed a mantra saying, “I have no problem right now. I feel well. Therefore, I can manage this.”
In this interview series, we are exploring the subject of resilience among successful business leaders. Resilience is one characteristic that many successful leaders share in common, and in many cases it is the most important trait necessary to survive and thrive in today’s complex market.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Tijen Genco.
Tijen Genco, MS, MCC, NBC-HWC, E-RYT200 is the founder of Genco Coaching, providing Executive, Life and Well-being Coaching, Coach Education and Mentoring. Tijen overcame a variety of obstacles and grew through numerous tragedies in her life. She successfully turned them into inspirational techniques that support her clients and students in their growth. As an ICF Master Certified Coach and board-certified Health and Wellness Coach, Tijen has developed and combined many innovative evidence-based and esoteric coaching techniques to form the nucleus of the Genco Method, to enable her clients to transform challenging experiences into their superpowers!
Genco Coaching: https://gencocoaching.com/
Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your backstory?
I grew up in Turkey and started my career as an R&D engineer in Ankara, designing robots for the first five years of my career. I was always fascinated about the concept of performance and the lack thereof. I wanted to understand how people and things functioned when they were at their best. After my job as an R&D Engineer, I went into IT and systems integration, employed by the Turkish subsidiary of an American company. That company brought me into the US because of my advanced integration skills with complex systems. I furthered my career by achieving mastery of excellence in processes and services before I completed my master’s degree in organizational behavior and coaching.
I was a very protected child; yet, as a highly sensitive being, I often needed to find different ways to function than most other people around me. So, I started developing my skills on how to be a resilient human being at an early age, while developing an understanding of human potential and performance. Pursuing my BS in Electronics Engineering, I was one of three female students out of eighty-five students in my university class. Therefore, I had to learn how to function well in a male-dominant professional field and education. After my graduation, I moved to Ankara, the capital of Turkey, where I worked as an engineer at an R&D company. I was the only female R&D engineer among many males. I enhanced my skills on how to be resilient in the male-dominant workspace and social culture.
After developing skills on how to be a successful single professional female in the technical field in Ankara, I moved to the US by myself where I faced many challenges to overcome: simple things, such as having no credit history in this country, to even being able to obtain a credit card or rent a house; to losing my immigration status when the sponsoring company declared bankruptcy. I gave up a lot to get another sponsoring company quickly, washing away 10 years of my career. I started my career again as if I were a recent college graduate. Often life offered me challenges all at once: breaking off an engagement, losing my job and immigration status all at the same time, tragically losing a loved one, having another family member being diagnosed with a mental illness, and losing another job again back-to-back. I was also diagnosed with breast cancer back in 2019. All these challenges taught me that each time I am presented with a challenge I had two main options. I would either feel victimized by the experience or feel empowered by it. At times, I could not choose the second option right away, but I always found my way towards it. Now, as a coach, I teach my students how to coach others to find their inner strength, and I coach my clients about how they can turn events they feel victimized by into their superpower.
Can you share with us the most interesting story from your career? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
Years ago, right after I received my PCC coaching credentials, I volunteered to offer my services to ICF during International Coaching Week. I was assigned a client to offer a session to. I had no idea that the assigned client was diagnosed with a terminal illness and wanted to discuss their anger and grief during our session. I was not prepared for such a deeply transformative session at all — up until that time, I had performed internal coaching duties inside a large corporation. In that moment, I faced choosing yet again to be resilient so that I could support the client to do the same. The session was life-altering for the client. I ended up offering additional pro-bono sessions to this client as they prepared themselves for their departure from this world, but not before seeing themselves as a powerful human being, able to complete everything they wished to complete before their life came to an end.
When we started coaching, the client was quite bitter about all that was happening for them. They had lost their job, and then were diagnosed with the illness. They were feeling quite angry that they could not counsel people anymore, they did not have a place to see their clients, had certain challenges with their family members, feeling powerless about what Western medicine offered to them, etc. By the time we concluded our sessions, the client had found themselves an office space that was free of charge at a neighboring church (although they did not belong to that religion), started seeing clients, resolved their challenges with family members, and walked towards the end of their journey with peace.
What I learned from this experience is that first, life does not offer us anything that we are not equipped to handle. Despite my fears, I was ready to handle such a complex case, and the client had it in them to respond to the complexities they were facing. I also learned from observing the client’s journey that once they had chosen to take their power back from the circumstances, they were able to create many options to enjoy their life and continue to blossom regardless of the illness. So, no matter what we are experiencing, we always have options to choose our responses in life. And that to me is the key to resilience.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
My company offers a variety of unique approaches to coaching under the umbrella of Genco Method. As a person who is trained at the mastery level for service and process excellence, I always strive for the best practices and do significant amounts of learning and research. I am trained in both the Eastern esoteric teachings as well as Western evidenced-based methodologies. Therefore, my company has a holistic approach to achieving human potential in an integrative way with excellence in offerings.
The coaching method of self-directed change always puts the client in the center. However, it does not always look at the client through the holistic lenses needed to honor the client’s complexity, make the invisible patterns visible, and facilitate change through every cell of their human system. Often, traditional therapy and coaching approaches and queries only engage the mind. Genco Method includes energetic systems, physical systems, subtle bodies, cultural and ancestral imprints, beliefs, and value structures in the inquiry, as these are relevant to create sustainable changes for the client.
One of my student-clients was pregnant. The client (and baby in the belly) participated in various training courses of mine and had private sessions with me during the pregnancy. Often, we worked on the inherited family patterns that were impacting the client (and the baby) during the pregnancy, as well as how the client envisioned themselves postpartum. Two days prior to the birth, the client reached out to schedule an emergency session with me. Client was feeling quite fearful about her ability to raise a young child at the same time as having a newborn, without falling into, and repeating the undesired behaviors of her mother. I facilitated the session collectively, including the baby’s responses to my inquiries inside the belly, as well as my client’s. Client’s fears were resolved, and she had a brand-new perspective about her abilities and resilience. The client obtained a compassionate view of what was happening to client’s mother when she was young. As a result, baby relaxed inside client’s body. Two days later, the baby slid through the birth canal with ease in fewer than thirty minutes to meet her mom with joy. Mom and baby are enjoying their postpartum time together now, along with the other young sibling.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
Of course, I thank my parents first. My father was a pioneer who brought in many revolutionary ideas to the culture he lived in. My mother is always understanding, listening and supportive of me, no matter what I want to do. These two mentoring parents cultivated my ability to try new things, and when they do not work, to learn how to pick up the pieces and integrate as a growth. This supportive environment helped me to master resilience.
Also, I have a close friend who has been by my side for over twenty years. Years ago, she said to me you can always use me as a test person whatever you are learning and developing. So, no matter what kind of certification I wanted to get, I had a trusted and honest client to practice on. I would like to thank her.
Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. We would like to explore and flesh out the trait of resilience. How would you define resilience? What do you believe are the characteristics or traits of resilient people?
Often, resilience is defined as one’s ability to bounce back from a challenging experience and keep moving forward. My definition differs from that. I see resilience as a gatekeeper, a bottleneck point in our spiritual advancement as a human being. In our journey of life, we are offered many opportunities or bottlenecks to decide whether we meet the challenge and respond to the gatekeeper properly. This will determine our ability to get to the next level in our being and self-expression. Some people decide to go backwards in their spiraling journey, some decide to stay where they are and act as if the spiral was a circle, and some keep going deeper in their spiral of spiritual existence and explore new depths of themselves. I say that each challenge is an invitation to change and deepening. How we respond to that invitation is our choice.
I repeatedly share with my coaching students that experiencing firsthand whatever they wish to support their client would be quite impactful for them becoming a masterful guide in the client’s journey. To me, there are various degrees of demonstrating resilience, requiring various skill sets.
At the basic level, let us call it level 1, one responds to the challenging event, somewhat recovers from it, while carrying forward some level of resentment about it for the rest of their life. I describe this level as moving backwards in the spiral of their spiritual development. Since the person was not able to face the challenge rather fell back.
At level 2, one responds to the challenging event, recovers from it, and moves forward with their life at the same level of the spiral as it was before (circling). This results in maintaining the status quo of the spiritual enhancement journey. At this level, person demonstrated physical and possibly emotional resilience without spiritual advancement as the learnings were not integrated properly rather taken as a physical and/or emotional challenge.
At level 3, one responds to the challenging event, recovers from it and advances from that bottleneck into their next level of growth by deepening their understanding of themselves and the events. At this level, spiritual integration and growth takes place.
At the level of mastery, one faces the challenge, and not only advances to the next level by recovering from it but understands the meaning of that challenge at a deeper level and becomes a beacon of life for the others who are going through similar challenges. They support the others’ ability to pass through bottlenecks into their next level of growth.
When you think of resilience, which person comes to mind? Can you explain why you chose that person?
When I think of resilience, I think about my great-grandmother. She was thrown out of her house with four children by her husband when he decided to replace her with the maid of the house, back in the early 1900s. She became a single mother, with no support from her husband. She lost one son during the war, and another son from food poisoning. She raised two beautiful daughters alone and managed to support my grandmother becoming one of the first female teachers of the Turkish republic. I never met my great-grandmother. I grew up listening to the stories of my grandmother’s challenging childhood. How hard it was for them to not be able to have food to eat, etc. As I look back, I now realize how strong and amazing my beautiful great-grandmother was. She managed to take care of her family with utmost integrity and strength as a single mother at that time of chaos. She sewed things for others with one sewing machine that she had. She faced many obstacles and grievances, but she was able to plant the seeds of a lineage of brilliant, strong, and resilient women.
Has there ever been a time that someone told you something was impossible, but you did it anyway? Can you share the story with us?
Yes, of course. Let me share that one that tells the story of me coming to the US. I am a child of two teacher parents from Turkey. As I grew up, I felt that I did not belong to that culture. I felt the need to move out of the country. People told me it is impossible to do that, you cannot get a visa, etc. I remember at some point getting ninety-nine business addresses from the embassies of Turkey and sending my resume to the European businesses as a young Electronics Engineer. I received ninety-nine decline letters…I did not give up on my urge, as this was beyond a dream for me. After a while, I ended up being employed by the Turkish subsidiary of an American company. With that company I moved to the US via a job transfer. A short while later, that company declared bankruptcy. As a result, I lost my sponsor for my work visa and faced an abrupt requirement to return to Turkey. I had to either find another sponsoring company for another job or leave the country within the three weeks. I faced challenging decisions and ended up starting my career from scratch within the US to be able to find the sponsor that I needed in that short timeframe.
Although that experience was a significant amount of trauma, I decided to take my spiral to the next layer in its depth and continue to explore further into its new layers. I am now standing here strong, sharing my ideas of resilience with many and being an inspiration for them.
Did you have a time in your life where you had one of your greatest setbacks, but you bounced back from it stronger than ever? Can you share that story with us?
In 2019, after many trials of challenges, tragedies, and setbacks in my life, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Once again, I decided to respond to this challenge as an invitation to change also like I explained earlier. This diagnosis helped me to reflect, recognize, and become more aware of additional things in my life. It supported me to be much kinder towards myself and deepened my level of compassion for the people moving through the cancer diagnosis to an unimaginable level before my own diagnosis.
I am now extending my discoveries and learnings to the Genco Method Somatic Coach Training, so that my knowledge can support many other coaches and their clients moving through challenging events and difficulties in their lives.
Did you have a time in your life where you had one of your greatest setbacks, but you bounced back from it stronger than ever? Can you share that story with us?
I grew up with an elder sister who, like many other elder siblings, introduced me to many facets of fear, both those perceived to be external, or perceived to be my shortcomings. That, to me, was good preparation for facing the fears of life, no matter what direction they are coming from.
During the first year of primary school, I got the mumps. My grandmother made a mistake and gave me one of her sleeping pills instead of the prescribed medicine. I woke up sick and could not even keep my head straight. However, I still pressured my mother, who was a primary school teacher, to teach me how to read, as I did not want to fall behind my class. I thought that I needed to be ahead of everyone, having to go to the school where my mother was teaching, and being a member of large and well-known family in the city that we were living.
Despite the illness and the sleeping pills, I managed to learn how to read and returned to the school as the first one to read in my class. Later, I took a role of assisting my teacher, teaching other students, who had high levels of anxiety and learning challenges, how to read.
Resilience is like a muscle that can be strengthened. In your opinion, what are 5 steps that someone can take to become more resilient? Please share a story or an example for each.
The first step is detachment. See yourself, your core being separate from what is happening. As mentioned earlier, I was diagnosed with breast cancer in late November of 2019, right around the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays in the US. I felt that I needed to keep the news to myself to avoid impacting the people around me. So, I kept saying to myself that this is just another experience, a diagnosis, it does not define me or consume me. I am separate from the experience. For this time there is just a relationship between the two of us and that can change any time.
The second step is focusing on the now. Creating a mantra that helps you with that. While deciding the treatment options I was feeling quite upset, keeping the news to myself, and not liking the Western medicine options that I found to be abrasive. There was an overwhelming amount of information to understand, to digest, and to decide all at the same time in order to progress toward a decided course of action. All of this was too much. I developed a mantra saying, “I have no problem right now. I feel well. Therefore, I can manage this.”
The third step is finding something that you can manage and fit into your value structure that is related to the challenging experience you are having. I was incredibly lucky to be surrounded by the oncologists who understood me and my values as a person. I had a dialogue with them about my values and collaborated with them, instead of surrendering blindly to their recommended course of treatment. I decided to be a well-informed, educated, and well-communicating patient that wants to collaborate with the doctors. Therefore, they were able to coach me toward decisions that were more acceptable to me and my value structure.
The fourth step is integrating life’s offerings. After the course of treatment, my body was different, and it had new challenges. I did not like going through anesthesia and some other aspects of the treatments. Therefore, I created nurturing, healthy drinks such as red beet, aloe vera and coconut water, to consume after the surgery to flush out the anesthesia, etc. I subscribed to Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), and got fresh organic vegetables delivered to me so I could take new life inside of me to create healthier cells as I went through radiation therapy. I created new exercise regimes to regain my mobility. Therefore, I was taking in and metabolizing this change.
The fifth and last step gets you into mastery. In this step, you decide to become an inspiration to others, telling your story in such a way that others understand the challenges but also find inspiration in it. I developed Genco Method Somatic Coach Training and NLP and Polyvagal Applications to Coaching Training to help others. I also participated in fundraising efforts of non-profit organizations that help cancer patients such as Unite for Her. I donated my audio meditation CD Chakra Symphony of the Heart and Peacefulness with Tijen Genco recordings to integrative hospitals as a supportive tool to share with their patients while they are moving through the diagnosis, and treatment.
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. :-)
One of my main teachings is to help people detach themselves from the inherited thought patterns that are limiting their potential. I am already planting the seeds with my students and clients toward a social cognitive revolution one mind at a time. I would like to expand this effort so that we can expunge harmful thought patterns consciously, by being aware of them and choosing something else that is all inclusive, supportive, and loving. Our language plays a great role in this. English language is often quite self-defeating and pressuring, such as “killing it, go big or go home, crush it, nail it, war against ___, pressure is on”. As we choose peaceful, all inclusive, all-loving language, we move towards a more loving, caring, compassionate, and peaceful planet for all of us. So, my invitation is to be resilient toward beliefs that are unkind, uncaring, or separative, and to choose what is life affirming — saying, “Pause, Poise, and Choose with Care” (PPCC). Let’s call that the PPCC movement by Tijen Genco!
We are blessed that some very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them :-)
Yes, I have three. One is Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO, because she has funds as well as organizations to facilitate global structural change for PPCC.
The second one is Oprah Winfrey, Philanthropist and TV Host, because through her audience she can create curiosity about and awareness of the need for social change.
The third one is Tami Simon, Founder and Publisher of Sounds True, because she has the audience to help create further awareness and training materials at large.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
The best way is via my website: https://gencocoaching.com. They can like my Genco Coaching page on Facebook, find me on Instagram as @tijengenco, twitter as @gencocoaching, and on LinkedIn as Tijen Genco.
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!