Life is an interesting journey and when we struggle to reach a place in our path that brings us joy and happiness, sometimes, just taking the time to stop and listen can be the key to unlock the doors of our greatest potential.

Melinda Fouts, with over 20 years of experience and knowledge as a business coach and psychotherapist, had a pivotal incidence in which she kept asking questions, with no answers until she finally quieted her mind. Once she stood still long enough to “hear” what she was looking for, the answer came. Melinda then began a new path where she changes life through leadership development, helping her clients optimize their results for success.

In this interview, you will find out what makes Melinda unique and her skills of value to both herself and those who work with her for empowerment, higher awareness, and transformation.

EB: Your background as a business coach and psychotherapist has been the core of your career. Tell me how you got started and what three key insights you have learned that helps you work with your clients.

MF: Being dissatisfied with one’s work can be the impulse to seek your passion and turn it into one’s lifework. I was a single mother, and every morning I would take a walk on the beach raging to the universe that I must have a purpose that is fulfilling and in service to others, demanding an answer.  One morning, before I started my rant, I asked, “How come you never give me an answer?” I was told, because you do all the talking and never listen.

That morning, I decided to listen, and the answer came in code. I drove to the house of someone I knew who could decipher the answer.

Three insights from that morning which changed my life:

  1. Learn to listen more than you speak
  2. Learn to ask the right question and the answer will come
  3. Know who can guide you on your path.

These three insights shaped my career and set me apart from other’s in my profession.

EB: Many professionals have untapped potential, even if they are in executive or high-level positions. How do you help your clients find their spark within that brings out their potential and moving them up a level in performance and advancement?

MF: Several ways, Eileen.

First, when someone has an innate strength, they are often not aware of it and therefore do not capitalize upon that strength. At the same time, individuals overuse their strengths because that is all they know.

When this happens, they limit their potential and we work together to move them out of what I refer to as their “go-to” style and into new unchartered territory. In this manner, they are moving up in performance because they have expanded their capabilities.

My clients all take the emotional intelligence assessment which covers 15 competencies. The results reveal their strengths and what needs development.

I also challenge their perspectives. We are all shaped by our experiences that create our biases and beliefs. Behind every decision, perspective along with emotions are running in the background and influence our decisions.

Taking time to uncover these and challenging oneself in this arena moves one into optimal performance.

EB: As a leader in your field, self-awareness is pivotal to success. What have you learned about yourself in your own self-awareness that has been instrumental in your achievements?

MF: Interesting, Eileen, that you chose the word “instrumental.” My bachelors’ degree is in Music Theory and Composition. I was part of a small chamber group of excellent musicians and felt I was not as good as they were, I play the harpsichord. I decided to quit and the professor-in-charge of our group sought me out in a rage demanding to know why I quit.

I told him I did not play as well as the others. I will never forget his words. He said, That does not matter! You are the only musician in the group that plays with emotions and you hold the entire group together and help them make music!!” 

Whew. So much self-awareness came crashing through that day.

  • I learned that technical expertise is not enough and you can be the most valuable member of a team even if you lack technical expertise.
  • I also learned that my strengths are different and that I need to own them and not let my limitations overshadow the value that I bring.

Finally, before quitting an endeavor, ask for honest feedback. Asking for feedback is a way to gain some insights into the self.

EB: You have a philosophy in which you believe both individuals and organizations can gain a better understanding of the path they must take and the steps they must accomplish to get there. I would like to know more about this, please explain a little further.

MF: I believe that everyone wants to perform their best in life and in all areas of their life and everyone has the potential to be successful. However, people are held back by their fears, fear of failure, lack of belief in themselves, and not unlocking new strengths that are latent in their awareness.

Both individuals and organizations can start transforming themselves by taking the emotional intelligence assessment that I offer. The results are a starting point and through my coaching, we uncover their blind spots, their “go-to” style, that I mentioned earlier, and areas that need development.

Carl Jung wrote that the transformation process is a life-long journey.

Breaking patterns is difficult and takes time to gain comfort in new ways of addressing situations, especially challenging or adversarial issues. I will hear how a client handled a situation, and I will tell them, their same old pattern showed up again and was in charge. I’m always told, “Why didn’t I see that.” Eventually, they begin to recognize and catch themselves thus implementing a new strategy which brings about a new outcome.

EB: Many successful entrepreneurs and leaders go through roadblocks or have blind spots on their way to success. Tell me about your own struggles and how they have been a source of strength for you.

MF: Roadblocks often come in disguise, the most obvious are the nay-sayers and dream stealers. These are often people you are close to and although they are unaware of their actions, they are trying to sabotage your success through their own limiting beliefs and fears.

Another roadblock is if you are a people pleaser, (yep, that’s me) and while I wanted to forge ahead on my new path, I knew it displeased my father. He was not supportive of my new career.

I had to hold onto knowing my purpose and passion and break through the people pleaser roadblock.

Eileen, if I were to hold a conference for people pleasers, I would not be able to find a conference center large enough to hold all those who would sign up.

People pleasing is a very common roadblock. Once you can break through that, you are literally free. A client of mine actually told me she felt liberated and more empowered when she broke through that roadblock.

EB: Who has inspired you in your life journey and why?

MF: Whether my role as teacher, psychotherapist, trainer, or coach, almost every person has been an inspiration to me as I watch them struggle, wrestle, and grow. It is an honor to be part of another persons’ growth through their challenges and pain. In these roles, I also grow and learn and what better way to be inspired than to lead and be lead.

EB: What gets you going in the morning, knowing you have another day to make a difference in a person’s life and a company’s sustainability?

MF: I have a mission statement: If I can help one person have more inner peace, then we are one step closer to world peace.

If I can help a CEO lead more peacefully or help a person have a greater awareness and understanding of their thoughts and actions that keep them stuck, with this awareness, we can be more peaceful and affect a different outcome with those we come into contact with and work with.

EB: “Success Starts with You.” What are three invaluable tips you can share that aligns with this statement?

MF:

  1. All the very best in life stems from within yourself. Our inner state creates our day and shapes our life.
  2. Today is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Be conscious of being in the present moment and seize the opportunities that come your way.
  3. The mountain you must conquer is your inner self.

EB: What is your favorite quote?

MF:

“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field. I’ll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase “each other” doesn’t make any sense.”

~Rumi

EB: For anyone who would like to unlock their potential and develop leadership skills that will empower and encourage both themselves and others, what words of advice can you give?

MF: Pay attention to your thoughts throughout the day. Your thoughts lead to your emotions and actions.

  • What thoughts/actions are interfering with your desired outcome?
  • What emotions are you expressing?
  • What’s influencing your thoughts?

The first step to unlock your fullest potential is to become aware of the changes that can be made in these areas. My role is to help you expand your awareness and give you the guidance and specific skills and tools I have developed for over 20 years.


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Larry Tyler

Great advice for the novice and the seasoned veteran. As always your articles inspire……..