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How To Be a Successful Woman

The author of twelve books on personal development, an international speaker, life coach, and founder of The Coaching and Positive Psychology (CaPP) Institute, Valorie Burton shares about her latest book Life Coaching for Successful Women and her free 8-module online course "How to Coach Yourself" (available with the purchase of her book from ShopCBN or any bookstore).

Her passion is for women to understand what holds them back and to learn how to break the negative cycle that is keeping them from fully achieving their dreams. Valorie believes that life is about knowing why you are here and living your life purposefully.  She has overcome many major hurdles in her life and career, and wants to share all that she's learned.  I spoke with her recently about her book.

One of the things that intrigued me in reading your book was the layout of how you have the book set up. It is almost in the style of a daily devotional.  I am curious as to why the format that particular way and what's the best way for a reader to read your book. Is it intended to be a reference or something you read from cover to cover?  What do you encourage?

My publisher came to me and asked about doing this book originally because I was writing a weekly newsletter column. I felt led to write on different topics that people often need coaching around. The thought was to create something that's very bite-size but can move you forward in a very practical way. At the end of each chapter is a coaching question. I really believe that when we ask the right questions, we get the right answers. So, because we have the book in sections, the person might decide, 'Hey, I want to really focus on relationships or maybe I want to focus on business and finance.' So some people will read it straight through, but many will go right to the area that speaks to them most on that particular day. And I've had people say 'For me, this is more kind of like a devotional.' So I think a lot of people will read it as something that they do daily that keeps them inspired and provokes thought on how they need to be moving forward. 

People are so busy these days. I read a statistic recently that a very low percentage of people actually read a book cover to cover. That doesn't mean the book is necessarily bad but with so many things vying for our attention, we get distracted easily. I've written 13 books and I've found that people will often comment on the ones that are written in short chapters about how they felt like they were making progress. 

Why was your book directed specifically towards women? Is that where you typically do your life coaching or do you feel like there was a particular need for women? 

That's my calling. Years ago, I owned a marketing and PR firm and I was good at it, but I was not passionate about it. I prayed and prayed. And it was a couple of years later when I felt like God just spoke to me in a bookstore in the women's books section. He said my mission is inspiring women to live more fulfilling lives. We'll do it through writing and speaking. That was in 1999 and I started writing my first book within a few weeks and I self-published that one and then Random House picked it up. Most of my books don't have women in the title, but my three most popular books do. Successful women think differently. Successful women speak differently. And happy women look better. 

And what I realized is while the topics in the book are relevant to men as well, we as women have some challenges that men tend not to have to the same degree. We feel a lot of pressure to be able to balance a lot of things, be really good at a lot of things. We tend to feel guilty when we are not, especially when we're trying to do the work thing and the home thing. Women also struggle more with depression. Women are twice as likely to be depressed. We have higher highs and lower lows. Meaning when we feel happy, we actually feel happier. When we feel low, we feel lower. So, I love able to speak to women specifically because I believe we need this level of encouragement, but we also need to be practical. 

And I think that one of the differences is I really believe so much in the power of coaching to help us find the practical answers to any problem. As you know from reading through the book, it's from a faith perspective. And even Jesus himself was very practical in his advice to us about how we should be living. Being able to combine all of those elements and direct them at women specifically is exciting and I want women to know I'm talking to them. So, I put them in the title. 

One of the things that I found intriguing was your questions at the end of each section on how to be your own life coach. I really enjoyed those. How do you encourage women to truly be their own life coach? 

So that question is so huge and so important to me because I, in all of my books, do a lot of the questions. I think our lives move so quickly that we often do two things when we're faced with dilemmas and challenges. We don't stop and pause to ask questions that help us to see the bigger picture and get the answers we need. And number two, we just run around asking everybody else what they think. And it's not that others can't have good advice. But it's important for us to get quiet, to be prayerful, and to hear ourselves. Because in that we often realize that there are some fears I need to overcome. I need to be more courageous. I need to speak up more. I need to make a change that I'm afraid to make. And by asking questions, you can get honest about that. 

One of the things that we did with this book that I've never done before is we created a course called How To Coach Yourself. Everyone who gets the book can get the course for free.  It’s eight modules total where I guide you through the process of how do you have a breakthrough and then how do you coach yourself? How do you stop and pause and ask the question and find the action steps that you need to take? The first step is having the right types of questions. That’s why I have the little coaching toolkit at the end of each chapter. 

Do you have a particular primary message for somebody reading your book? Is there one takeaway that you really want them to have from reading the book?

Yes. Success as I define it. I don't want any woman to be intimidated to say, well, I'm not climbing the corporate ladder. I don't own a company. It’s not about that. I define success in this book and in all my books as a harmony of purpose, resilience, and joy. God has all of us here for a purpose. And part of our job is figuring out what that is and making sure we're living it on a daily basis. The resilience is simply that we will never get through life without having something to bounce back from, some challenge to navigate. And so the most successful people are the best at being able to be resilient. And I think your faith is critical to that. I love that. My background is in applied positive psychology and even all the research around resilience shows that religious Americans, as the scientists describe it, are more resilient, bounce back faster, are more optimistic. 

And so that's essential. Then lastly, the joy. We have to find that joy and research shows that although we often erroneously believe that success will bring happiness, it's actually the other way around. When we are happy, we are more likely to get promoted, more likely to get raises, more likely to be married and happily married, less likely to get sick. There are just all of these benefits that come. To me, that's really exciting. We know even throughout the Bible that God talks about the importance of finding our joy and that the joy of the Lord is your strength. There's nothing better than to be happy and do good while you live. Finding joy in just the everyday stuff that can be mundane. I really want people to understand, my book has a definition of success that isn't what culture tells us, but instead is really about purpose, resilience, and joy. And then understanding that if they can pause and ask the right questions each time they're faced with a challenge or an opportunity, they can navigate their way to success on a daily basis. 

That's encouraging because it means success isn't out of reach for anyone. 

It's not out of reach. It's not about your bank account. It's not about your kids being perfect or whether or not you're married or what your job title is. It's what does God have for you to do? And are you doing that? So by this definition of success, the person that has all this financial success but isn't living within their purpose really hasn't found success yet. I don't think you want to get to the end and hear God say, 'Hey, you missed it. I told you to be over here. But you were too afraid to step out on faith and do the things that you were called to do.' 
 

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