The journey of finding fabulous can be long, scary and confusing. Luckily, I have the privilege and honor of interviewing some fabulous people who provide insight and encouragement through sharing their courageous journeys. Angela Kontgen is one of those people, and her interview offered me some really great practical tips and advice for staying aligned with my values and getting the most out of each and every moment. This is her story, and this is what she taught me:
Words of Wisdom:
“Do the work. Do the work to continually build new levels of clarity on who you are, what you really want, and what you value most in life.”
“My biggest value is growth, and I will never stop learning. I’ve learned to love everything that shows up in my life, because it is all a teacher. Even if the present moment is very uncomfortable, it might be my biggest learning.”
Definition of Success:
“Success for me is fully experiencing life, and making a difference in the world. Rather than a wide array of experiences, it is about the depth of experience and having incredible connections with the people in my life.”
Reflecting back on her 17 year history in pharmaceutical sales, Angela speaks most fondly of the relationships she developed with physicians. Unsurprisingly, it was that very element of her first career that would become the driving force for a new career and pursuit of her life’s purpose. Entering the pharmaceutical industry in her early twenties, Angela got to work in the area of health, which along with fitness had always been her passion. The majority of her time was spent as a pharmaceutical sales representative working with family physicians, and sometimes specialists. Although the job gave her a lot of flexibility and played on her strength for building strong, trusting relationships, she never really stopped to think about her core values or whether they aligned with her work. Physicians were drawn to her pragmatic selling approach and open, honest communication style, so she was quite successful. However, several years into the job, the attitude of the public toward the industry really started to bother her. It really made her question her values, and the impact she was having on human health.
Entering her mid thirties, Angela started to feel hungry for something more. Unable to articulate it at the time, she felt a desire to make a bigger impact and be part of something that really mattered. That desire lead her to attend several personal growth seminars and read self-help books from the likes of people like Tony Robbins. Doing a lot of work to uncover her driving core values, she realized she had a passion to elevate human health. Problem was, despite her believe that the pharmaceutical industry played a role in health, it wasn’t allowing her to have the impact she wanted. Additionally, she couldn’t understand how the leaders in healthcare, the ones we all turned to for advice and look to as role models, were some of the least healthy people she knew. These men and women she had been working with for years, who were taking care of every one else, didn’t seem to be taking care of themselves. This was a huge disconnect. Unbeknownst to her at the time, the very thing that irritated her most about healthcare would guide her toward her true calling.
Angela had always been a fitness instructor, and did some personal training along side her sales job. It was one of her personal training clients, an experienced business and life coach, that first gave her the idea that she could do something else. All of a sudden, she wanted to do what he did. That moment seem to explode into others as she met other coaches and became more and more interested in exploring her options. As she got more clear about what she wanted, she attracted even more people that were in the coaching field. When a year long sabbatical was approved, Angela took the opportunity to become trained and certified and launch a new coaching business. Despite realizing she wanted to be a coach, it wasn’t immediately clear where that would lead. She had this value around health and energy, and was drawn to healthcare, but early experience with leadership and organizational coaching in a corporate setting didn’t really fit. Then, one day she had an interesting conversation with a long-time, physician friend who suggested she coach physicians. The idea of continuing to work with physicians, but in this new way, really struck a chord with her. That’s when her purpose came flooding in! All of a sudden, she realized she could work to improve all of the disconnects she saw in the healthcare system by helping to create role models in health.
“A role model for health is someone who is continually working on themselves, mind, body and spirit to improve themselves”, she explains. She believed she could reach many more people in the system by working with the healthcare providers who treated them.
Eventually the work she was doing to uncover her values, find her purpose and understand what she really wanted, lead to leaving her corporate sales job to become a coach and entrepreneur full time. Despite gaining the clarity she desired around her purpose, she is quick to add that she still had no idea how to do that, what it would look like, or if she was even good enough. That seemed to be her biggest challenge; was she good enough? It is a challenge that continues today, even after figuring out a lot of the what and how of her purpose. As a coach she can quickly identify the two biggest self-limiting factors clients often struggle with; I’m not good enough, and I don’t deserve it. For Angela, it manifests as the need to take more courses or gain more credentials until she is ‘good enough‘. I’m fascinated by the matter-of-fact way she describes this hurdle and impressed that her self-awareness has allowed her to overcome it. Now, she takes courses for pure enjoyment and to continue growing for the sake of growing, instead of worrying whether it will make her more credible in someone else’s eyes.
As the interview progresses, it becomes clear to me that Angela has an incredible work ethic that touches not only her new career, but her approach to living. At one point she describes her transformation as “massively, massively, massively, uncomfortable”. The decision to let go of both professional and personal relationships, in order to take her business to new levels and create the life she really wants, has had some really uncomfortable moments. Through the experience, she has adopted an attitude of acceptance toward learning and growing that welcomes even the most uncomfortable moments, in a belief they are showing up as a teacher. Her advice to others going through similar struggles is to continue doing the work. “When I’m feeling out of alignment, off track or disconnected, it is because I’m not doing the work and asking myself the questions”, she describes. It is a true belief that everyone has the inner knowledge they need to be successful, that allows her to live in this state of constantly digging deeper. That knowledge needs to be brought to the forefront of your life, and not left as an undercurrent. “This is what drives me every day, because it brings massive clarity in both my professional and personal life”, she explains.
Perhaps not that uncommon, Angela used to feel like her life was blasting by her, leaving her feeling kind of numb. Ever since she started working on herself, she has committed to living more fully and noticing that there are no ordinary moments. Listening to her describe how she works on soaking up each and every moment and learning from it, I can’t help considering why this moment has shown up in my life. What is it I’m suppose to learn from this interaction with Angela? Ever since I made the decision to leave the corporate world, I’ve been on a mission to do the work figuring out what I want in life, and understand my purpose. It is easy to envy the people that seem to know exactly what they are passionate about, and what they are meant to do with that passion to make this a better world. Yet, for those of us who don’t know, the idea can be quite intimidating and the journey of discovery quite overwhelming. It is encouraging to listen to the evolution of Angela’s life, and hear her admission that she didn’t have things figured out right away. And to hear she still doesn’t have all of the answers and must keep doing the work each and every day. In her words, “unless you are a guru on top of a mountain, you have to keep doing the work because otherwise you will be constantly pulled off track by competing things and people.”
I’m no guru on a mountain, so I guess I’ll keep doing the work. As I gain more and more clarity, and make the course corrections resulting from that insight, I will always remember my time with Angela and the things she taught me. The lesson that will keep me striving for more, comes from something she said to me near the end of our interview, when I asked her how she would know if she was successful. She said, “Success looks like, wow! What I’m doing is sometimes really big and really scary, but I know I’m suppose to be doing it.” Not only does that make me want to kick things up a notch and play big, but I think it sounds like a great guide post for finding my own fabulous life. Thanks Coach Angela, I’m more energized already!
Angela Kontgen is a Health & Energy Coach, Author and Speaker
If you would like to learn more about Angela, and the great work she is doing to “live life at new levels”, check her out at AngelaKontgen.com