No Regrets: Transformation Coach
Jacqui Scougall – Transformation Coach, Author, International Speaker, Consultant
“I am not a stranger to the dark
Hide away, they say
‘Cause we don’t want your broken parts
Run away, they say
No one’ll love you as you are
But I won’t let them break me down to dust
I know that there’s a place for us
For we are glorious.”
This Is Me
There are very few songs that have struck such a chord with me quite like this one, “This Is Me.” From the opening line, poetically sitting in a darkened cinema, I found myself transported into the story, recalling my own darkness and anonymity; times when I’d let people’s perceptions project onto me, clipping my wings and holding me ransom. As they say, no one knows you better than yourself, and as the song rang out, its words wrapped around me like a superhero cape, fueling my inner flame …
“…When the sharpest words wanna cut me down, I’m gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out I am brave, I am bruised I am who I’m meant to be, this is me.”
I’ve had a few AHA moments in my time but regressed, consumed by some negative emotion, be it guilt, fear, sadness, or inadequacy. I hadn’t sufficient self-belief or certainty to step out of the darkness and into the spotlight like the ‘ringmaster’ in The Greatest Showman or my son as I proudly watched him act up on stage. Yet that night, sitting in the cinema, goosebumps covering my arms and tears streaming down my cheeks, my connection to the song was so undeniably strong that I finally gave myself permission to believe again and trust the process. Songs can be highly cathartic and a powerful anchor; this song delivered that to me in spades.
“…Look out ’cause here I come, and I’m marching on to the beat I drum, I’m not scared to be seen, I make no apologies, this is me.”
Like joining stars in the night sky, I finally made the connection between a series of events in my life. Whilst I recognised my perfectionist traits had previously left me frozen on the starting line, ‘paralysis by over analysis’, what had actually been holding me back was the fear of succeeding, or worse still, ‘outshining.’ Outshining can show up in our lives in many forms. A strong desire to people-please underpinned my personal experiences:
- Downplaying achievements in family environments. Being labelled, ‘the favourite’ or ‘special’ can challenge family dynamics. As the baby of the family by ten years, comments like; “they got smarter as they got younger” were flippantly exchanged across the dinner table.
- Not wanting to ‘outshine’ with your opinions. If you’ve ever been shut down in a meeting, at home, or publicly belittled for comments you’ve made, it’s most likely because they didn’t like being upstaged by your brilliance. Remember, it’s a reflection of their insecurities, not you.
- Playing small whilst being the head cheerleader for others. Hiding your talents or achievements to avoid drawing any negative response from your inner circle is not serving you or doing them any favours.
- Shrinking your problems because there are ‘bigger’ problems in the world. In the big scheme of things, there are, but dismissing your pain or pretending your problem isn’t real, is unhealthy.
- Deflecting compliments. Commonly, we meet a compliment with a caveat, “I was just lucky,” “In the right place at the right time,” or “You’re just being nice.” But when you give out a compliment, aren’t you being sincere? Food for thought.
With the prevalence of social media and ‘comparing,’ I’ll admit I have suffered from Imposter Syndrome. I’ve had a few bad experiences with so-called coaches or mentors, outlaying more money than I care to remember, only to find out they were frauds. After the initial emotional roller coaster of sadness, anger, remorse, and guilt, I began on some level to recognise that my diverse life experiences and training more than qualified me to do what they did. If I truly wanted to serve others, I needed to get out of my own way and offer an authentic alternative.
With awareness comes change and recognising my fear of outshining others was a game-changer. It was the missing piece in the puzzle, giving me a far more profound understanding of my relationships. I’d dimmed my light to keep the peace at work or home, letting the happiness of others determine my own. It was simply a natural response to pain or fear as I’d attached a negative emotion to each of my significant achievements, all influenced by someone else’s reaction to them. I thought I was being empathetic and compassionate, but at a subconscious level, it was inadvertent pity.
I’d given away the power of my innate Feminessence – and that was serving no one.
2012 started as a year I’d rather forget. Mum, my rock, had to undergo life-threatening heart surgery; my mother-in-law and sister-in-law were both undergoing chemotherapy, and we sadly said goodbye to our much loved four-legged family member. At the time, my career as a commercial/contract management specialist was at its peak. On the surface, my life was perfect, and I didn’t want for anything. Balancing work demands with being the kind of mum, wife, daughter, sister, and friend I expected of myself became increasingly challenging. I was in a constant state of ‘busyness’ and, sadly too busy for the people and things that meant the most. Worse still, I fell into the trap of thinking that material objects and gifts would compensate for my love and time.
When Mum started to get sick, you’d think I’d wake up to my new normal, but I kept suppressing it. It would take a few more months and something far more dramatic for that. I still remember watching my son play an inter-school cricket match, my laptop close at hand when my brother-in-law rang to say Mum had just been rushed to hospital. After many back-and-forth calls between the hospital and my siblings, it was decided that a surprise visit from me would only panic Mum. Forty-eight hours later, I was on a plane, fearing I wouldn’t make it in time.
We always knew never to underestimate Mum. She was the strongest woman I had ever known and determined to get out of that hospital bed; “I don’t have time to be sick.” When it became harder for Mum to talk, she switched to writing notes to us. One day, when we were sitting alone in her hospital room, she started writing away and then pointed to the words on the page; “Tell your business partner you’re moving to Queensland,” and on the following line “Life’s too short, live without regret.” My ‘AHA’ moment right there! She was pointedly right. I had been living away from my family for too long, living my life on other people’s terms and fulfilling their dreams instead of my own. Somewhere along the line, I had also lost my sense of purpose.
After nearly three weeks in the hospital, Mum peacefully passed away surrounded by her four children and the sound of our laughter as we stirred each other and reminisced of special family times. We took solace in knowing that after 25 years, Mum and Dad were together again and would forever be in our hearts.
Peeling Back the Layers
I began living my life differently after that, gradually peeling back the layers to reveal the real me. In doing so, the spotlight was shone on each of my key relationships, including the one I had with myself. Settling, being taken for granted, or playing small were no longer options.
When my marriage of 17 years ended, people were quick to judge. You’d think that with one in three marriages resulting in divorce the stigma would have disappeared, but I was wrong. I’d recognised for some time cracks were appearing in my marriage, and no single person was to blame. We had both changed from when we first met and now had different perspectives on life and what we wanted out of it. There was one significant exception to this, though; we both adored our son and wanted the very best for him, agreeing that no matter what, we would work together to make that happen.
As the ‘initiator’ you often carry overwhelming feelings of fear and guilt around with you for years before (and after) the day you make the break. It’s a hard decision, and there will never be a perfect time or way to do it. Accepting that people will get hurt is a heart-wrenching concept to grasp, and the pain I put others through still stings at times.
Writing a new story since my divorce, I started prioritising myself. My wings were no longer clipped but this sense of freedom didn’t happen overnight. I invested in what I’d like to class as ‘Personal Performance Technology.’ I wasn’t broken and didn’t need fixing; I just chose to fill my tank with nothing other than ‘premium’ fuel. The Universe answers when you open yourself up to limitless possibilities and approach life from a growth mindset. I broke free from my bubble and sought out more aligned connections – I engaged mentors, attended events often on my own, changed business advisors, signed up for what some would class as ‘out of left field’ courses, and established two successful side businesses. I’d be lying if I said it was all smooth sailing along the way, with me hitting rock bottom on more than one occasion. Was it all worth it, though – absolutely yes!
As work/life ‘balance’ had previously been a challenge, I put boundaries around the non-negotiables, my family. I also started following through on Mum’s advice; life is too short and “…not measured by the breaths we take but the moments that take our breath away.” I took the family holiday we never made time for, literally walked over hot coals, and completed a half marathon on the Great Wall of China. Serendipitously, the race was held on what would have been Mum’s 90th birthday. These events painted a picture of possibility that others started to see. From this, my desire to pay the lessons I had learnt the hard way forward was ignited, giving birth to my coaching business.
Paying It Forward
In 2019 I was honoured to share my story about breaking glass ceilings and overcoming adversity as a guest speaker at the Women Economic Forum (WEF) in India. Speaking in front of 2000 people was a daunting concept, but I’d felt the pull to help other women, to pay it forward.
In a break-out session, “Stand up for yourself, truly stand up for others”, I was partnered with two incredible speakers; a lady who recounted her husband’s attempt to kill her and a fellow Aussie acclaimed for bringing down Rolf Harris. Before my turn to speak, I doubted my right to be there. My story was certainly not in the same league as theirs – or was it?
As I was telling my story, a lady sitting at the back of the room started to cry. When I finished, she stood up and through the tears said she was divorced. She explained that we had just witnessed the first time she had said the word ‘divorce’ aloud. For over a year, she had kept that secret to herself in fear of dishonouring her Indian family and the consequences that would follow. Today she is an internationally celebrated musical artist and living life on her terms.
My wish for that trip was to light a spark in at least one woman, to give her hope, enough belief to back herself, and permission to dream again. I achieved that and came home a changed woman with an even bigger fire in my belly. I also realised that what was holding me back was the very label I’d stuck on myself like some badge of honour. My divorces weren’t what defined me. Each time I faced adversity, I had looked within to the gifts my Mum and Dad had instilled in me Your heart and true north are the only compasses you will ever need.
Finding My Feminessence
Since returning from India, I have continued my journey, including being featured in a book compilation called Change Makers. The experience was personally quite cathartic, but more importantly, I learned my story had touched others. Through my voice, they had been able to identify longstanding issues in their own lives and had decided to act. It’s the old adage ‘if she can, I can’.
But the alchemist in me knew there was far more I could do to help others transform their lives for the better. I pursued my certification as a Hypnotherapist, Master Practitioner of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) and Time Line Therapy.
With this renewed sense of purpose, I unconsciously began to emit my Feminessence. Friends started to comment on the change they saw in me – my inner spark and unwavering positivity. Strangers would, to my surprise, stop me in the shops to compliment me on simple acts, a passing smile I gave them, a kind word spoken or the twinkle in my eyes. This, to me was simply a display of the inherent qualities passed down to me. My thoughts and actions, head and heart, were in total alignment. So much so that my car sports ‘JUSTBU’ number plates. These plates embody what I stand for, and gauging by the number of conversations they have initiated, including with the odd traffic controller, the permission to dream again, to ‘live a life without regret’ is well and truly being paid forward.
Overcoming Gender Bias & Playing the Game
When I joined the Air Force at 18, I was 160cms tall and 50 kilos and quickly acknowledged my limitations. I certainly wasn’t going to pretend that I could, for example, scale a 2.5m high wall on my own. I fondly recall my first day on the rifle range, holding a rifle that was nearly as long as I was tall. As I looked through the sight, trying to focus through dust-filled eyes, I gently squeezed back the trigger and then splat; the recoil sent me flying head over heels. The bombardier, as a true gentleman, turned to me and said with a wry smile, “Ma’am, I’ve never had the pleasure of teaching a woman before, let alone a Smurf.”
Displaying vulnerability or asking for help is often incorrectly perceived as a weakness, and during my initial training, I certainly found this to be the case. I drew criticism from particular Directing Staff and a few of my fellow cadets being told, “There’s no place for a girl like you in the military.” They held strong unconscious biases and a distinct image in their mind of what women in Defence should look and act like. But I knew that what I lacked in natural physicality, I made up for in other ways, including resilience, agility, empathy, humility, teamwork and intuition. So I trained my butt off, ‘played the game,’ and chose to keep my mouth shut and let my actions be my voice. I will forever hold the most profound reverence for my military family, and my time in uniform was both a privilege and one of the best experiences of my life. It was also a time I experienced exponential personal growth and suspect was the key that unlocked the first gate to my Feminessence Code. My superpower was a balanced, ‘elegant’ leadership style – knowing when to step more into my feminine (Yin) energy and when to lean into my masculine (Yang) energy. The misconception for many is that these energies are intrinsically linked to gender, whereas we are a complex and ever-changing unique blend of both. When we begin to truly own this Feminessence, magic happens.
My Work – Empowering My Clients
Each of my businesses is centred on relationships, starting with the one you have with yourself, as we know this sets the tone for every relationship we will have.
We all enter the world the same way, and but for external factors, our trajectories could end up on the same path. So what then stops some people from reaching for the stars? I truly believe that like attracts like, and as you read this, I already sense you know that you are destined for something bigger but can’t quite put your finger on precisely what it is…yet.
Each client to me is a gem; precious, unique, come in different shapes and sizes, has most likely been placed under extreme pressure at some time in their life, and needs a little dusting off so others can see how brightly they shine. My work is not about changing who my clients are but reconnecting them with their true north and deepest desires. Then equipped with renewed clarity on how they want their story to end, I guide clients along the path less trodden. Yes, it takes courage, but that’s where the magic is found.
“Our job is not to deny the story but to defy the ending – to rise strong, recognise our story, and rumble with the truth until we get to a place where we think, yes. This is what happened. And I will choose how the story ends.” Brené Brown
As a transformation coach for both individuals and corporates, I weave together an integrative and bespoke solution matched to the client’s needs. This may be a single or series of targeted sessions. Clients are expertly guided through the whole transformation process, and as they unlock their hidden magic, they unconsciously design the outcomes, perfectly matched to their deepest desires and needs. This is no cookie-cutter, cut and paste approach.
The relationship between client and coach is one I treasure and not to be taken lightly as it must be ‘the right fit’ for both. I’ve had potential clients contact me who were rightly skeptical because ‘coaching’ hasn’t worked for them previously. I get it – I’ve been underwhelmed by some coaching experiences of my own. But sometimes, you need to dig a little deeper to see if there is a ‘secondary gain,’ a label or ‘badge of honour’ that has been unknowingly clutched onto like a security blanket. Using advanced tools, including where appropriate, values inventory and hypnosis, results are rapid and lasting. Negative behaviours and blockages are released, opening the door to new opportunities, enhanced relationships and growth.
I’ve been privileged to assist clients stuck on the yo-yo dieting treadmill release stubborn weight, and long-term smokers replace tar in their lungs with clean, fresh air. Breakthrough sessions are a personal favourite though. I’m honoured and humbled to witness such powerful transformations, inspiring souls to let go of years of negative baggage to reclaim their self-worth, and taking action to turn suppressed dreams into reality. Toxic relationships are not exclusive to our personal lives, having worked with corporate clients, similar issues exist in the workplace. By examining the language used in business interactions, ‘business self-talk,’ unconscious biases and their hidden messages are uncovered. This unblocks barriers often between supplier and buyer to enable a mutually rewarding and abundant relationship to be formed.
As an ex-military member, I am deeply saddened and concerned by the climbing number of suicides in Australia and the prevalence of PTSD. I am in discussions with various veteran groups, local women’s shelters, and parents beyond breakup groups to assist in the alleviation of debilitating levels of anxiety and stress in their members.
This is me.
“The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.” – Pablo Picasso