Fred Duku Silver interview with me. He says…Had an amazing time interviewing Jane Hundley and how she is helping individuals solve and resolve the infinite questions that haunt them unconsciously for Arianna Huffington’s new venture Thrive Global.
“Know that your greatest weakness can be your greatest strength, you just have to discover it. It is a unique learning for every single person — and you are worth the time, energy and investment to find it. As part of humanity, you count, and making your life count is even more important than being happy.” – Jane Hundley, M.A. Organizational Psychology
At the core, Jane Hundley is an existentialist and innovator of a method of applied psychology. It is designed to help people make sense of their life pertaining to their self-identity, life mission, and unique talents in leadership. She thinks of everyone as a leader of their lives, and she loves helping them get down to the basic foundation of their being. Jane’s passion is maximizing leadership talent by getting people more connected to their core identity factors that operate their mindsets, self-awareness, and behaviors. Her work is focused as a high impact coach to executives, entrepreneurs, scientists, and all kinds of engineers (PE, software, electrical, mechanical, systems). For over 20 years, Jane provided custom-designed trans-formational mindfulness experiences wrapped in a management package — and for every age group. Clients know her as their secret weapon, insightful provocateur, and innovative strategist. She helps her clients gain skills in executive leadership presence, mindful management, communication and collaboration as applied to all aspects of their lives, especially their work life.
1. Humble Beginnings
Q: How did you get started and what or who inspired and empowered you to?
I got started because I was in a job that just didn’t use all of my interests and strengths. Even though I was helping people solve problems, which I love to do, I felt an urge to expand. Working for a larger company as an image consultant just wasn’t deep enough for my inner well, which was longing for being tapped into. The turning point was a traumatic divorce in my personal life that sent me on a quest to reach outside standard therapy and find alternative methods to jump-start my confidence and accelerate my personal learning. I found traditional talk therapy slow and ineffective, and knew that just getting into a group of enthusiastic self- helpers could not help me get to the change in mindset that I needed to find my calling and carve it out of the air. What was God telling me to do?
Then, one week of vacation changed my life. I was fly fishing on the Yellowstone River for a week. I spent literally 8 hours a day going downriver in catch/release style. By the 5th day, I became aware of presence very profoundly. My brain, mind and breath were interconnected at a deeper level of consciousness and I slipped into a deep state of dynamic relaxation. I could stop my mind chatter for long periods of time. From that point on, I kept meeting people who would help me pick myself up by the bootstraps. I met people in Seattle area who were world known in their fields — Sondra Ray (rebirthing), Peter Geiler (dance therapist), Lou Tice (Self Talk Expert), and Aadil Palkhivala (Purna Yoga master). Not any engineers there!
Q: What unique and creative strategies if any did you use when you were first getting started?
I drew upon inner strength and courage that I used in an international modelling career in Paris, and competitions as a hunter/jumper/ equestrian during my childhood in Virginia horse country. Bravery is only necessary when really scared, and that was me! Don’t let the fear stop you I kept saying to myself. Don’t give into failing out of fear. Believe and move — ACT! Don’t settle for a job that is unfulfilling. I left my day job (image consulting at Nordstrom) to write my book; The Power of Personal Presence; — no longer in print. The publication served as an expensive business card that got me out talking with groups — and that’s how my clients and I found each other. After a while, it was evident that people of my tribe were leaders under high pressure careers, usually in the C-suite and managers under a lot of stress in their company culture. Funny to find out too they were mostly engineers (or the spouses married to them!)
Q: As a professional, what is your main specialty in your work?
After working with people like this for so many year, I think about 10% of engineers have trouble stopping their thinking. They struggle to over think even at night. If they do fall asleep easily in the evening, they wake up and can’t get back to sleep easily. Sometimes they admit they just start planning, worrying, or wondering. The mind of an engineer is very curious for the most part. They, like everyone, can get stuck in repetitive loops that make sense only to the inner critic, who during the day is completely engaged in complex problem solving. So, when clients rapidly learn a new skill I call non-thinking — they begin to be able to tell their brains stop please, and it will obey. It will even agree with meeting your need and say “Yes, I am tired and am ready for a good long sleep without interruption”. I tell clients it’s because they are waking up to think about ‘their unique infinite question’. My specialty that defines my work is helping the individual solve and resolve the infinite questions that haunt them unconsciously. Even the most successful people have them. They are actually a secret inner weapon and tool for the individual, but it’s hidden to some degree to each person.
So, during the night we let go and the unconscious is processing. When a person has a busy intellect, the infinite quest for answers kicks up to take advantage of the fact the control commander is not focusing on anything else like a big engineering problem or people-related issues. Mind rest and silent mind are essential skills that are good for everyone, and for engineers and leaders it’s become imperative for one’s quality of life.
Q: What mindset distinguished you from others who were doing the same thing? How did you develop it?
I approach individual learning sessions more as a healer than coach. The coaching comes in helping others develop a personal practice of presence, or present moment awareness. I’ve been sharing mindfulness practices coupled with management skills for a long time- now almost 20 years. I provided depth psychology sessions to many different types of people and backgrounds, and eventually it was clear who related to my approach — highly pressured leaders managing stressful business demands. I started sharing my method of mindfulness many years before the word mindful was understood in the western corporate world. I provided coaching sessions too many years before the career term ‘coach’ came into the nomenclature too. I specialize in how people are being while they do their work, and help them direct their mindsets and personal states with a higher degree of purpose and self-understanding. It’s very eye-opening, uniquely personal and deeply meaningful. I can’t stop myself!
3. What is your definition of success?
Being able to be cheerful and have joy, even when you are unhappy. Practicing loving kindness, even when you are really mad and want to take revenge. Being able to truly and deeply listen to others in a way that is life-changing. Having a true sense of being loved — warts and all. Allowing your soul to be molded and shaped into knowing who you really are as a spiritual being inside a grounded body. Seeing past illusions of identity that we typically craft in our imaginations (and even promote on social media) Clearly, success is more than external assets, bank accounts and retirement funds. It’s about what a great scripture says “Live the life worthy of the calling you have received” Ephesians 4.1. At the end of my road, if I can say I’ve come close to that mandate, then I’ll say I have been successful.
Q: What do you think is the main reason why some people face failure when going after their vision?
I have to say lack of resources (family, social connections, emotional support and time) and creative strategies for sustaining oneself (funding) when starting out. That’s why one’s passion has to be never- failing because there are times of great fear and doubt one will have to surmount in order to continue to believe in their calling. If you keep your eye on the hawk and get up every day and work at it, you will see the light at the end of the tunnel, and even get into that light someday.
5. What is the best piece of advice you have received or came across and would like to share with everyone?
Know that your greatest weakness can be your greatest strength, you just have to discover it. It is a unique learning for every single person — and you are worth the time, energy and investment to find it. As part of humanity, you count, and making your life count is even more important than being happy.
Interview by Fred Duku Silver for Huffington’s Thrive Global.