Claire Sewell, Founder of SwellCoach, helps female business leaders see their untouchable value and master their inner voice, so they can achieve their goals and create the life they desire
What were your initial years of growing up like? Tell us about your life before starting your professional journey/venture/initiative and what inspired you to choose this career.
When I was 14, my Dad gave me the book, ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’ to read, by Dale Carnegie. It’s a classic in the self-help genre that helps you to understand and relate to people better and become a good leader. From that first book I was hooked on the power of the mind and human potential and wanted to share the ideas with all my friends. So psychology has always been a fascination and Mum and Dad encouraged me to believe that ‘if it is to be, it is up to me‘. I went into sales because I loved people, creating relationships and helping people succeed.
Was there any turning point in your life that changed your journey? If so, what was it? Please tell us the backstory behind it.
I’d always had a thought at the back of my mind, that I’d like to have my own business but I had no idea what I wanted to do and the thought was quickly discarded because I believed I didn’t have the right characteristics or skills to be a business owner. I thought I wasn’t driven enough and didn’t have the required business and financial acumen. 12 years into my sales career, I’d been at a company I loved for five years, leading and coaching sales teams, when I got headhunted for a Sales Director position. This was the next step in my career. After three months, a long interview process and much deliberation with my existing company, I decided to go for the new role. On the first day at this new company, the Chairman told me they’d bought me in to be their ‘Secret Sniper’. I was to look at every person in the sales team , their activity and performance, with the view to letting go of half of them. That was about 20 people and jobs. I was mortified. My strength was turning underperforming teams into high performers, not to let go of people before I’d even had a chance to work with them. Within a month, I knew I’d made a terrible mistake moving to this company and within 3 months, I was dreading going to work. For the first time in my working life I had the Sunday night/Monday blues. It was about that time, I was approached by a friend about a ‘Conscious Leadership School’. Helping Leaders become more conscious, choosing decisions and actions with clarity and courage that truly served employees, clients, colleagues and society as a whole. It was a year-long course – I signed up. That was right up my alley! Within the time that the course started – 3 months – I’d left the ‘dreaded’ role (without laying off a single person) and was considering what I wanted to do next. I felt lost. I’d been burnt and the corporate world was looking cold and unappealing for me to re-enter. The course explored psychology, how our mind works, (vs how we think it works!) and showed how we are all Creators of our results and life. It opened my eyes to seeing how powerful we all are as human beings, with our innate capacity for potential and growth through our mind but none of us were given an instruction manual! Much of the literature written and taught is pointing us in the wrong direction, away from our true nature. Halfway through the course I knew that my purpose was to share this message with my community, (that I was yet to build!) and with that, SwellCoach was born. I finished the year, signed up for the advanced course and then continued my leadership journey as a coach and new business owner.
Tell us about your goals, interests, and role models.
My goal is to empower women to see their inherent value and claim the dreams, career and goals that they desire to achieve. We have been taught to be ‘good girls’ which mostly means putting others before self. This is a terrible strategy and is one of the reasons women can feel ‘less than’ around their male counterparts. But the feminine energy within all of us, when lit and fanned, is far more powerful than we can ever imagine. I support women to ‘Lead like a Lioness’ with clarity, courage and compassion. My interests are human potential, hiking, anything activity that gets me out into the sun and spirituality. My role models are Maya Angelou and Mother Theresa, Rumi and more recently Melanie Ann Layer and Beyoncé
Everyone has their own set of challenges when starting an entrepreneurial journey. Still, the most essential part for others to learn is how you deal with those. Would you like to share with us your challenges and your coping mechanisms?
My greatest challenge with starting my own business was my fearful thinking. Self doubt and ‘what if’ thinking would arise at every new challenge or opportunity that was presented and I could have easily talked myself out of many key growth moments, if I’d listened to those thoughts. The most important thing we can learn is to become aware of the voice in our head and to start questioning it. Is it true? (Are we working with our made up facts or fiction?). Where have I already demonstrated the qualities I need to move this idea forward, (most of the time the quality was courage and we’ve all taken courageous action at some point in our lives – even in starting school!) The next question was: What’s the worst thing that can happen if I make this move? (Then I work through the solution for what I’d do if that happened) Finally, what’s the best thing that can happen if I make this move? Those four questions always helped me move forward.
What impact do you feel you have been able to create with your work so far and how would you want to grow in the next few years?
I have had countless messages from clients and my community on my social networks, sayinng that my work has changed their lives and supported them through challenging times. I do not do any of the work for them, they do it all themselves, I simply create the environment for them to see truths about themselves and their capacity, that gives them fresh thinking and perspectives about themselves and their situation. Solutions always come from those insights! My work shows people they are designed for joy and to have the greatest version of life they desire. It’s mostly showing women how to overcome our greatest obstacle and also our to harness our greatest strength…our mind.
While the global pandemic of COVID-19 is associated primarily with adversities, it has also brought about a true boom in startups, with successful entrepreneurship in many countries. The pandemic has impacted all of us in one way or another. Would you like to share your experience on a personal and professional level?
One of the most powerful outcomes I witnessed from the pandemic, which we can all celebrate, is the demonstration of the strength and resilience within us all. Any person, who can face the physical and emotional impact of being locked down, unable to connect with loved ones or our natural environment and come out the other side of it, demonstrates their innate capacity for resilience – or as I like to call it, our ‘bounceback-ability’. There is a beautiful truth in seeing the power each of us have within us, demonstrated throughout COVid. Resilience is all we ever need. Knowing that no matter what happens, we’ll get through the challenge and we’ll be ok. Personally and professionally for me, I had 3 strong reasons for starting my business: 1. To have the freedom to work from anywhere I wanted to in the world; 2. To spend more time with my Mum and Dad, who live in NZ (the other side of the world from me) 3. To help women step into their power and claim the life they are designed for. When the pandemic forced my business to go online, I headed down to NZ for six weeks, to spend time with my family. I ended up staying there for 15 months and realised in that time, that I had achieved my business goals within the timeframe I’d intended, which was five years. This year I have worked from New Zealand, the French Alps and I’m heading to Spain for the month of October. If you have a strong enough ‘Why’ for your dreams, you’ll overcome anything that stands in your way.
Your journey and your vision are very inspiring, but are there any achievements or accomplishments you would like to mention?
For me, one of my greatest achievements was stepping out of the safety and perceived security of a job and following my desire to be, do and have the ‘more’ I dreamed of for myself and for others. There have been many ‘milestones‘ along the way I’m grateful for but the ones I think are most meaningful (to me and for others’ to relate and feel hopeful) are all the times I didn’t quit, despite the loud voice in my head, screaming at me too. Self doubt comes at every stage of life – at every level – you’ve just gotta see it for what it is, say ‘not today self doubt’ and keep going.
Would you like to share with our young budding women entrepreneurs the change you would like to see in the world if given an opportunity?
The biggest change I would love for people to see – that creates freedom from emotional suffering – is that life happens through us, not too us. We are all responsible for everything we have in our lives. That doesn’t mean bad stuff that’s happened is our fault but it’s our responsibility to overcome it and realise our potential. There isn’t any person or situation in the world that can ‘make you feel’ anything. Our emotional triggers and upsets all come from our belief systems and our own interpretation of the person/situation and what we’re making it mean about us. We play a narrative out in our head and believe it and that can cause a lot of chaos in our hearts and minds. Life is an ‘inner’ game. All love, joy, happiness and fulfilment comes from within. It can’t come from a job, a title, a salary, a partner or any materialistic ‘thing’. If we all realised this, we would start becoming responsible for our own happiness, rather than relying on others or blaming others or their circumstances and the world would be a very different place for us all.
What’s the most important thing you have learned in your personal life and professional journey? What is your personal motto in life?
My personal motto is ‘go within and you’ll never go without‘. I’ve seen that doing the inner work – working through my feelings and emotions as they come up, my faulty belief systems that were holding me back, taking responsibility for my inner narrative, my actions, setting the standard for how I treat myself and my personal commitments, therefore setting the standard for how others’ treat me – is the greatest gift I could have given myself for peace of mind and a joyful life. Learning that I am ‘The One‘ who can make or break my life – no matter what – and taking full responsibility for that, for me, has been the true meaning of freedom.
Women are a growing force in the workplaces worldwide, standing shoulder to shoulder with their male counterparts. There are cracks in glass ceilings everywhere, with many women breaking through to carve out a space right at the top of the pyramid. What are your thoughts about women’s leadership today?
It’s great to see, I love it! I’m a huge advocate for celebrating our sisters rising. Also, our society is very much driven by masculine energy – the ‘yang’ of yin and yang energetic balance. We’re very focused on doing and achieving. Our schedules are jam packed. We’re constantly spinning plates, trying to be all things to all people, always doing, doing, doing. It can lead to stress, exhaustion, underappreciation and burnout. Many successful women leaders are also leading from this energy. Perhaps because this is the way that’s been modelled to us, we think it’s the way we need to succeed in this society. When masculine energy is out of balance it can come from a desire to prove ourselves or to control, (or both). This can cause friction and disharmony. Feminine energy is intuitive, heart-focussed, creative, wise, accepting, forgiving, compassionate and reflective. It’s a powerful leadership energy to bring forth. When a person blends their feminine and masculine qualities, (these aren’t gender specific), in leadership, they can make a huge impact – magic! Leadership needs to take on a new paradigm where leaders are connecting to and embracing their feminine energy within the business world so we can reconnect with our ‘Goddess Power‘ , make intuitive decisions, act from inner knowing and create impact with conscious, powerful, loving awareness. That would turn the business world on its head, positively!
With your grit and determination, you are making a considerable impact, breaking through, and serving as role models for many budding entrepreneurs. What would you want to say to our young women leaders/audience reading this?
You have been created and designed perfectly as you are. Within you is a force that is capable of creating whatever it is you desire. Anything that you want to be, do and have is available to you if you tap into your inner spark – the inner knowing that is always guiding you. Start by becoming aware of your inner voice and how often it tries to put you down, make you doubt yourself and stop you. This voice isn’t the truth of you. Tune in to your softer voice of intuition. You are far more capable than you think because you are far more than you think. Get to know the ‘unstoppable you’. She already has all the answers you need to take the next step. You don’t need the entire journey and directions laid out in front of you, you don’t need to know it all, you just need to know, “what’s the next step I need to take“. Step by step, is how you create your life by glorious design.