In 2008, I took a leap of faith from my cushy corporate sales job and launched my first entrepreneurial endeavor. I had little cash reserves but a lot of ambition.
As with any major transition, I got sick three weeks into building my new venture. Was hospitalized for a week and forced to fast during my entire stay. On day seven, I was discharged with a $40,000 medical bill and a $40 prescription to rid of the parasitic infection contracted from the hospital bed.
If you’d have said to me, ‘Things happen for a reason,’ I would have told you to take your yoga mat and shove it where the sun don’t shine.
The saying “Stress Kills” is no joke. Nothing can ever prepare you for epic fails like these.
Times when your back is up against the wall.
Losing thousands of dollars quickly.
Feeling like a good-for-nothing waste of space.
For a few days during my downward spiral, I entertained the idea of letting myself wither away to nothing so my son could collect my life insurance.
When you’re stuck in a funk replaying the I shoulda-woulda-coulda tapes, it’s hard to break through the negative self-talk alone. I thank my lucky stars I surrounded myself with good people. I needed help (A LOT OF IT!) getting out of one of the most debilitating times in my life.
One golden nugget I keep with me every day is something my coach taught me that cold November day in 2008.
Have an attitude of gratitude.
“Take one positive action each day,” she told me. “Because undoing the past is impossible, and worrying about the future will keep you feeling paralyzed. Focus on the present, it’s a gift.”
One week into my recovery, I volunteered at a non-profit organization. I needed to get my mind off my first failed business attempt and recent breakup. Serving others in greater need became my saving grace. Doing good work for the sheer sake of the good-doing gave me a greater sense of purpose outside of my own four crumbling walls.
Some call me emotionally resilient for being of service when I was in dire need of help. The truth is, I was looking for any reason to wake up at all each day.
Day by day, I retrained my body to swallow food again and walk without assistance after my muscles had atrophied. As my health gradually improved, I got back on the job boards and put my entrepreneurial failure behind me. I was desperate to rebuild my life, career, and self-esteem.
By day 36 of my recovery, I landed a new job.
Nine months later, the universe tossed another boulder on my plans.
I was back in transition once again.
Standing at the crossroads this time around, I realized I had reached another season in my life. For over 12 years, I had chased someone else’s dream thinking I needed more stuff to prove to everyone I had “made it.” But no matter how much stuff I had accumulated or achieved throughout my corporate sales career, nothing money could buy would ever fill the void inside me.
So I chose to follow my heart and trust my intuition.
I began offering pro bono coaching services to support an organically built network of aspiring entrepreneurs and dislocated workers who were feeling hopeless, powerless, and defeated during the recession. Within weeks, workforce development groups and local universities were seeking me out for speaking, training, and writing projects.
For the decade that followed, I devoted my life and work to coaching, consulting, and training thousands of people on how to speak up, stand out, and change their corners of the world. Most of that time, I continued to give away much of my work for free.
Then I reached another season in my life and career.
It got lonely in my solo operation and I was craving connection, so I took a hiatus from coaching and consulting.
I joined an entrepreneurial team in the public sector where I ran an integrative health education center for over a year. It was unbelievable! I had manifested a dream job simply by showing up as who I am, expressing what I stand for, and sharing how I could use my gifts and talents to make a difference.
Many euphoric beginnings often come with excruciating endings. As was the case for me. It was an invaluable experience, nonetheless. And I left with hundreds of new friendships I had cultivated over that year. More importantly, I grew in so many unexpected ways.
Every time my integrity was challenged, I continued to implement my own strategies and tools to stay true to my core, to be brave even when it was inconvenient, and to remain resilient when there was no end in sight. And by living and breathing my Brave Bear ethos as I navigated that chaotic chapter in my life, I somehow reignited the joy and excitement I once had for coaching and consulting. Any doubt I had in my ability to make a difference—to speak up, stand out, and change my world—gone.
The lesson: “You already are enough.”
Duly noted, Universe.
THE STREET CRED
Hi, I’m Berni Xiong (shUNG).
I’m a truth guide, intuitive coach, creative strategist, and proud mom.
I’ve given talks and interviews on navigating difficult life and career transitions reaching hundreds of thousands of people across the globe.
The first season of my professional career—working with Fortune 500 companies managing six and seven-figure budgets— taught me the importance of being a trusted resource: customers’ needs come first.
I am devoting this season of my career to empower overachieving individuals to prioritize their health and well-being first as they bravely speak up, stand out, and change their corners of the world.
Berni Xiong is the founder of Brave Bear Creative, a coaching and training consultancy that partners with business luminaries and revolutionary companies to speak up, stand out, and change the world. She is an intuitively-guided coach, creative strategist, ordained minister, speaker and trainer. Berni holds a Master of Arts in Business Administration (MBA) from Cardinal Stritch University where she graduated with distinction and was inducted into Delta mu Delta, a national honor society in business administration.
In addition to her formal education, Berni also received professional training and certifications in several coaching and healing modalities, including:
- Usui Reiki Level I, II, and Master/Teacher
- Karuna Ki Reiki Master
- Certified Coach Training
- Color Therapy
- Spiritual Business Mentoring
- Intuitive & Spiritual Development
Berni is the author of The Year of the Brave Bear: Speak Up. Stand Out. Change Your World.; author and publisher of its paperback companion The Way of the Brave Bear: An Intuitive Guide for Speaking Up, Standing Out and Changing Your World; and a contributing author of Chicken Soup for the Soul: Time to Thrive.
In her spare time, she gives away some of her best stuff for free in The Brave Bear Insider.