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Ep. 40: High Achievement Addiction with Shauna VanBogart

Oh girls and guys — you are a high achiever. You want so much more out of life than what I would consider the average human. You want more money, time, energy, satisfaction. You have a higher calling to you, but you hit a ceiling and you’re tired. Maybe you’re not getting the results and you find yourself spinning the same damn wheels over and over again.

If this has resonated with you, today’s episode is going to hit a lot of notes because I’m super excited to have Shauna VanBogart who’s going to talk about the framework for optical operation in your business. Shauna is a speaker and business coach for high-performing entrepreneurs. She’s worked in the field of transformation and business strategy for over a decade, helping hundreds of business owners just like you get out of their own way.

Shauna and her husband live downtown Charleston and are probably best known for their one-year-stint of living on a boat in Charleston harbor and were featured on Tiny House Hunting, which I find fascinating.

Welcome to The Gutsy Podcast.

shauna’s career transition

Laura: So, I first want to give our listeners just a brief history because you and I have crossed paths in the past. When you were running Best Kept Self, I remember I had a teammate that got an email from you and you were looking for writers and contributors and she’s like, Hey, I think this will be perfect for you. And I submitted on your website thinking I probably wouldn’t hear back from anyone. Um, and I heard back from you. And so I wrote on your blog for awhile, which is a cool story.

So what I’m most curious about is what called you to change and transform and transition from Best Kept Self?

Shauna: So, Best Kept Self was an evolution from the previous place that I was at. As you mentioned, I’ve been in the field of transformation since 2007 where I came in as an Image Consultant. So I was working with people individually on their appearance, behavior, and communication to use those built-in tools and leverage those to get things that they wanted in their life, whether it was a promotion, a recently divorced man who never dressed himself and is back in the dating scene, or an entrepreneur who needed to feel more confident and effective at networking and selling.

So that was where I entered into this field and when I started working with clients and they embark on a transformation like that, it’s addicting (as you probably know in your own life) and you want to start transforming the other areas and everything’s intrinsically linked, right?

And so over the years I had cultivated all these connections with wellness coaches and makeup artists and mom coaches and all of these people and sort of became like this go-to Rolodex for transformation of the connections that I had. So it was a necessary rebrand to move into Best Kept Self, which was a bigger umbrella of not just Image Consulting but was this self-care exclusively for the entrepreneurial market. Because that is sort of where my clients started to pull.

And the intention of Best Kept Self was sort of to be this one-stop shop of transformation experts in a variety of fields. But it very quickly became this online editorial magazine, which was completely unexpected. I also went into the mode of operation with that business completely differently than I did my previous brand, which was under my name, Mackenzie Image Consulting.

So I kind of went into it going, you know what, I’m going to actually use this as a moment to surrender. And it was my first, I would say, deliberate, intentional act of surrendering control and allowing the business to become something that I didn’t need to see the end results of. So that was very purposeful in that. And as it evolved, what it helped me understand about my own skill sets in my zone of genius is that I’m actually not meant to be behind the scenes. And as beautiful as this online magazine and all the contributors — I mean, it was a big platform — were and for it seemingly working in the ways that it needed to work, I wouldn’t go as far as to say I was unfulfilled, but something just wasn’t right with it for me.

I felt ethically that if I was going to be leading a team (and especially if I was going to be contributors ethically), if I have one foot in and one foot out, I just didn’t feel okay with that. Even if I could manage it — which I was, it was easily manageable. I just didn’t feel okay with that. I felt like maybe I was misrepresenting or misleading people.

So for me, I kind of had to take another intentional moment in my career to step back and go, what clarity do I now have with this experience under my belt? What’s that next evolution?

And so that’s where that led to, which is where I am now.

allowing transformation

Laura: So I’m curious. I feel like you probably went through a deep transformation in yourself and that reflection and releasing and surrendering to, you know what, this is no longer serving me. I need to do something different.

I think a lot of people get hung up on that and feel like, that’s a failure now, I didn’t do something right, or this was a waste of time. I’d love to hear a little bit more about your process in that transformation before launching your consulting business now?

Shauna: I mean, this is sort of an annual practice of mine now because of stalling myself up by not knowing this. So to stay on top of it, first of all, we have to realize that we are always in motion. We are always growing and moving. And so that means our values, our mission, our purpose all evolve slightly or dramatically along with that.

So what I’ve done in those moments, especially that very first moment where I really was down on myself, is I sat with a sheet of paper and I don’t know where these questions came from, but I sat with the sheet of paper and I asked myself a handful of questions. And the first question I start with is, What is it currently that I still love to do within my business?

The next question that I go to is, What am I really good at? Which is really different than what do you love. And so what would I and other people say I’m really good at? I’d spell that out.

And then the next question, Who do I really love to engage with ideally?

The very last question was, Now what does this all mean? Because, ideally, when you answer those three questions (and especially when you see it on paper), the formula as I see it is: To do what I love, to do things I’m inherently good at, channel them in a space of people that I immensely enjoy working with. And that to me is the definition of success.

And so if I could see that down on paper, I could, again, it’s that data-harvesting I could pull from the current experience and everything that’s happened up until that moment to then go, okay, what does this mean? This means more of these things and let’s let the other things go. So then you move into a phase of massive editing and purging. And the question that I continue to come back to is what earns its spot in my life and what earns its spot in my business?

So instead of like taking everything in and then sifting through it, I don’t let anything in until they pass through some filters because you know, I don’t want to be back in the same situation that I was in. So you know, you cultivate discernment in that moment and you bring a bit of selfishness back to it. Cause how am I serving anyone showing up in a business that, sure, it’s decently successful — it’s not that it was necessarily failing — but it certainly was not doing what it needed to do. But how is that helpful to anyone if I don’t take an active, positive, selfish approach to it?

high achievement addiction

Laura: So you’re working with high achievers, and I can attest to this because when I was reading through your website, I was like, well, yeah, it’s just kinda talking to me.

What are some of the common things that you are recognizing, like why are these people so important for you to work with?

Shauna: I love achievers because they’re doers. They’re ambitious. They like to go after it. It feels good to win, you know, whether that’s in competition with yourself or others. Like there’s just a fire there. And the other thing I would classify, not with all achievers but as a commonality between a lot of the clients and the audience members that I work with, is that people are achievers for a reason.

Something’s happened, right? Like something’s happened in their life where perhaps they’ve overcome some trauma or maybe even abuse or they’ve gone through some hardship and that achievement is a way to tap into themselves and sort of have ownership over themselves. Again, not all achievers are like that or have gone through something like that, but I find a commonality. Like there’s a re there’s a reason that achievement exists.

And I know that part of my journey as I data harvested all these experiences and I reflect on them and I go, okay, what do I want to take with me to this next phase? What do I want to take with me whenever I hit sort of a ceiling?

The more I’ve embarked on my journey, the more I’ve discovered there’s a lot of stuff I’m doing for the sole reason to just achieve. Which means to win or figure it out. And I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with that. I think small wins and wins in general are incredibly energetic and they carry a lot of momentum for other things. But for sustainable growth, impact, and results, we have to have a deeper intent, which should be impactful.

And I don’t think achievement and impact are in conflict, but I do see a lot of people that are running a business (myself included in the past where I was doing it because my motivation was to achieve), a lot of that achieving was tied up in proving something. Proving something to themselfves or proving something perhaps to other people without even knowing it. Totally subconscious, completely subconscious.

And when I stepped back to go, Why am I doing this? Why is it so important for me to have media mentions? Why is it so important for me to achieve business awards? Why is this so important for me to hit, um, you know, a half a million dollars in revenue? Like what is really behind that? What I found was it’s coming from a place of fear and coming from a place of needing to prove something.

Once I got clear on like, okay, all I’m doing is basically achieving. And when you’re in sort of what I would classify myself as in an achievement addiction, you achieve and you get the high off of it. But then (and listeners can maybe like use this as a way to check in with themselves to see if they have these symptoms) you like achieve and then you’re deflated. Not that much longer. It could be days, it could be weeks, it could be a month later. But like you’re back to a place of unfulfillment or feeling like you’re missing something. It’s not sustainable.

So then you need another achievement to go after. So then your motivation for your business is personal achievement. You’re making it, perhaps your business, all about you. Which I know might sound like it’s in conflict with the selfishness conversation we had, but your business in the grand scheme of things should be there for impact.

So if you realize like, okay, I’m just skipping from achievement high to achievement high to achievement high. And what some people will end up doing (which they don’t even realize, again, all subconscious) is they end up creating things like creating problems or creating ventures for the sole reason to achieve, cause they don’t even realize this dynamic is at play. So then they just keep hopping and hopping and hopping and hopping and nothing is sustainable and they keep returning to the same place again.

And those achievements can become more and more intense. So when we ask ourselves, am I doing this because ultimately it feels really good to have impact or am I doing this because I want to win and I just simply want to achieve? Just realize for yourself that the impacts gonna carry the sustainable results you’re looking for and the achievement is going to be a temporary means to maybe gain some energy.

how to achieve for impact

Laura: What are some ways you typically help guide people from that need for achieving to really be more in an impact state-of-mind?

Shauna: We start with the why. Why did I get into this? Why did I start?

What I find for most people is that the theme kind of remains constant. The vehicles you might move in and out of. So for me, going all the way back, it was transformation, which is a huge umbrella, but the theme is the same. And so I moved in all these different vehicles and it’s like, okay, return to the theme of transformation.

Now with everything under my belt and everything I’ve experienced in all these beautiful projects and collaborations I’ve been a part of, what were those peak moments? And so I started then collecting like a puzzle piece.

I really love connecting with people. And I looked outside of my business. So as I looked for my why, which in my opinion is hand-in-hand with impact, I realized outside of my business ever since I can remember I have been the go to person for advice and insight from basically all my friends. And I love that. I love being that person.

I also started to recognize in my personal life I was involved in a lot of nonprofit work and board of directors where I was put in positions to be an advisor or a teacher. And so I thought, okay, why am I putting these in separate buckets? Why have I gotten away from that connection in that one-on-one service that I clearly get immense satisfaction from outside of my business? Why am I not bringing that back as part of my purpose and as part of my operation mode?

So, again, it was a massive period of reflection and I find, without fail, it often takes a mediator or a coach or a mentor. That data and those answers already exist. They already exist. We just need someone to help you sort through them. And sometimes we’re way too close to ourselves to see it. And mind you at this time period, I also had a lot of people in my ear going, “Shauna, you’re so good at coaching. Shauna, you’re so good at giving advice, Shauna, you always just seem to know the answer.” So again, it took people outside of me to tell me who I was and we have to keep eyes and ears open to really seeing and hear that.

being a doer

Laura: You tapped into something that really peaked my interest, you said “doing is not always the solution.”

So we by nature are doers and it’s very, very, very easy to get in the pattern of just cross off the list, keep going, keep running, and keep going along. Then you find yourself in this whole mix. So talk to me about the whole concept of being a doer?

Shauna: I love this. I’m like rubbing my hands together. It’s like let’s do this. So, um, the doing is hand-in-hand with achieving oftentimes. There’s a lot of glorification on how much we can get done in that to-do list. And you know, even neurologically checking things off the to do list feels really good. Intention is a big role in that.

But doing is necessary. It’s also important that we understand there’s a season of receiving and a season of also recovering. We can liken it to an athlete. You know, an athlete’s not always performing. They spend a lot of time in rest. They spend a lot of time in just recovering. They spend a lot of time in between those moments in between performing. And the performing, which is the doing, is incredibly intentional. So what I would say is missing right now as I see it in business owners is the active receding.

So if we look at this as a linear model, we say I want a half a million dollars in business or I want to win this award and we enter down this very linear sprint. And the problem with looking at it as a sprint to get there is setting these very rigid goals with these big milestones and then this massive to-do list is. We leave no space for the creative inner guidance system to kick in, which provides us with our best ideas. And then also when we arrive at that destination of the half a million dollars (or at least we try to arrive at that), we are so burned out by the process of getting there that we either collapse into recovery or move to the next thing on the list — which basically looks like coming back to the starting line — and then we sprint again to the next thing.

how to redirect fear + overwhelm

Laura: What do you recommend in those moments to start transitioning some of those thoughts and feelings?

Shauna: That one is hard to answer. The general answer is you need some sort of what I would call a sacred practice; your higher-self or a high-minded operation manual for yourself for those specific moments.

One of my favorite books that is kind of the starter book I recommend to everyone is Busting Loose From the Money Game. I would never have picked it up off the shelf. Um, unfortunately being big judgmental of the book cover. But that book is incredibly transformational and it outlines a process for that specific moment that I think is a really wonderful starting point.

And so the process in a nutshell is basically, okay, bring the emotion closer to you, which is like fear and scarcity and like, what did I do wrong? Don’t try to bypass it, which is what a lot of us do. I don’t like these feelings. Okay. Bypass it. Take the high road. Instead of that, bring it closer to you. And there’s a whole buildup to this process, but and then tell the truth about it, which is and should be, I’m infinitely abundant. I am infinite possibility. We want to get into quantum physics.

So if I’m infinite possibility, there’s really no reason to fret in this moment. We have to trust each step into the unknown. We don’t need to micromanage or worry about how. Relax on it a little bit. And then is the moment of receiving. And the moment of receiving, some would say, well, what is there to receive in that moment? The moment of receiving, the moment of seeing a bank account that puts you into scarcity, is the opportunity to remind yourself of who you are. Which is a really incredible moment of gratitude, too.

Instead of viewing that as a moment of despair, it’s a cue to remind myself to ground back into the truth of who I really am. And that is a really beautiful moment to express gratitude for because life is constantly trying to give us these cues through our experiences that serve as these sort of alignment moments to align us back to who we are.

4 Levels of surrendering 

Shauna: I love that you said surrender. In my world and in my framework, that’s sort of inspired through me. The way I see it as there are four levels of surrender, and I’ll say them quick. I know we’re probably coming to the end of our time here, but the four levels we need to surrender to is:

1. We need to surrender being right. And that’s really aligned with possibility. That’s the first place we need to start and is something a lot of us are clutching to. We are so obsessed with being right. So the first surrender that we need to make is rightness. We need to give up being right and if we can give up being right, then the universe goes, thank you now I can do my job!

2. The next level of surrender is control. We need to stop micromanaging. We talked about that.

3. The next level of surrender is the known. We need to embrace the unknown, which is a really difficult part because that’s neurologically hardwired into the oldest part of our brain — that fight and flight and freeze. So we need to embrace the known and embrace patience.

4. And then the last thing we need to surrender is independence, which is like the deeper level work. You know, I work with people (in terms of how it actually looks), like we work through those layers of surrender. And surrendering that last level of independence is stepping into a place of true co-creation.

What Does Gutsy Mean to You?

Shauna: Gutsy to me means having the courage to show up as who you really are. And, you know, on the general level, we’re all infinite possibility and infinite love and whatever you want to say there. But we all then have the beautiful will to also specifically be unique in our own way. And so I think being gutsy has nothing to do with like these massive risks and all that so much as it has to do with allowing yourself to be who you are. And beyond that, what’s even more gutsy to me is allowing other people to see it as well.

Connect With shauna

Website  |  ShaunaVanBogart.com

Instagram  |  Shauna VanBogart

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