Finding Joy In The Trials of Leadership

by Ali Stieglbauer

Being a female leader can be one of the most rewarding experiences any of us ever have. It can also be one of the most stressful, and at times, one of the most draining. It isn’t meant to be easy, but being women in business can be made easier through a variety of tips, strategies, and life hacks. Some of my most recent podcast guests had a lot to say on the subject, and one life hack stood out above the rest: do what you love.


Loving New Experiences

Every new experience, whether in your personal or professional life, can be a challenge to be overcome. My daughter, Ali Stieglbauer, and I learned this as we engaged in the Whole Life Challenge, a six-week overhaul of things like diet, exercise, sleep, and mental reflection. It’s a lot harder than you might think, and it calls to mind many of the things you may know you need to improve on but simply aren’t motivated to. It’s so motivational because it doesn’t require tunnel vision on one shortcoming (which, for me, was sleep), but rather it inspires a lifestyle change where all aspects of you are lifted up.

Challenges like this are so rewarding, but they are still challenges. Ali and I discussed how vital to success a mindset change in the face of obstacles is. New experiences can be a terrifying prospect, or they can be a breath of fresh air. A lot of us default to our first instinct when faced with hardship or uncertainty: fear. It’s not our fault; it’s biological. But turning that fear into excitement in the face of a new experience is up to us. It’s easy to fall into impostor syndrome. That’s why it’s so important to remind ourselves of the successes we’ve had that have gotten us to where we are today. What you’re facing right now? It’s just another success that hasn’t happened yet. If you can shift your mindset like Ali has learned to do, you’ll love every new experience that comes your way.


Loving Letting Go

If there’s anybody that knows about the value of hard work as a female entrepreneur, it’s Carlene Wilson. Carlene is all too familiar with adversity in the workplace. She’s had to leave a company, uproot her life, and move across the country from Texas to Minnesota, just to climb the corporate ladder again. She’s crushing it now (of course), but emulating that is no easy feat. Carlene reminds us that it requires intuition, faith in yourself, working hard, and juggling work and life. What are her secrets?

It may sound simple, but Carlene has learned to love the idea of letting go and centering herself. Too many of us are afraid to do so, thinking that the world will fall apart if we’re not working 24/7. This simply isn’t the case, and honestly, working that much is no good for anyone. For Carlene, trusting her instincts tops it all. If her gut is telling her to work, she’ll work. If her gut is telling her to sit back, enjoy a glass of wine, and read a book, she’s going to do those things. If it helps, hire an executive assistant and keep a calendar as Carlene did. Those little life hacks can make it easier to kick your feet up after a long day, knowing things are in order. You won’t regret taking a little “me” time; I’m sure of that.


Loving Being Kind 

Kindness is the thing that makes the world go round. Compassion connects us to others, inspires people, and makes it easier to get out of bed knowing you can make the world a better place. Female leaders have a unique vantage point that allows them to be kind to so many people, and it’s this vantage point that Mindy Goodfriend (a fitting last name) believes we should all use to the best of our abilities. Mindy follows five commitments as her philosophy of life: kindness, tolerance, compassion, respect, and forgiveness. 

There’s a great joy to be found in applying these commitments to your daily life. They will make you a better, more admired leader; help you build community, and grant you numerous chances to reflect and grow. Not only is it good to apply to these commitments to others; it’s also great to do them for yourself. Forgiveness and letting go of past wrongdoings, whether yours or someone else’s, is freeing, and according to Mindy, it is one of the biggest acts of self-care any of us can do. That same self-love can be applied to clearing out the BS in your life. You’ll be happier and healthier when you focus less on the things that trouble or annoy you and more on the things you enjoy. Trust me when I say that being kind to yourself and others is advice that never goes out of style.


Loving The Hard Times

Loving the hard times may go against every fiber of your being, and for good reason. When you’re deep in it and life really sucks, it’s nearly impossible to see anything other than how awful things are. Sandy Hansen-Wolff knew that when she lost her husband of just 15 months to leukemia. Trauma like that can put you in a fog that seems to last forever. When the fog eventually cleared, Sandy realized that despite the unbearable pain, it wasn’t all bad. Hindsight showed her dark nights of the soul had shaped her interests, passions, and leadership capabilities. 

The fog will clear for you, too. I guarantee that. When it does, you can find joy in loving what the hard times have taught you, just like Sandy did. She used her newfound knowledge to grow her late husband’s business to spectacular new heights and honor his memory in the process. She cut out toxic people and trusted her intuition and patience. This is a lesson all of us can learn from. Self-improvement is often found in the darkest of times, and if we love the vulnerability and authenticity of these dark times, we just might find that we’ve discovered wonderful new things about ourselves. Those new things can give us the strength to go forward, face new challenges, and conquer them. If Sandy did it, we can all do it.



Unf♥<kwithable have a tendency to be always on, always locked in, and as a result, often burned out. When you’re mentally and emotionally exhausted, joy is a hot commodity, and it’s sometimes hard to come by. Female leaders at the top of their fields have learned where they can look to find joy, whether it’s in kindness, new experiences, letting go, or even in hardship. August was a month of those women in business who know all about seeking out that joy. Here’s a recap of what we learned.

Ali StieglbauerFinding Joy In The Trials of Leadership