Rise & Shine Interview: Dr. Susan Biali about Perseverance

I'm really honoured that Dr. Susan Biali is sharing her thoughts on perseverance with us today. She has really been a mentor to me. I first reached out to her about becoming a lifecoach and have been blessed by her encouragement and support. She took the time to share her thoughts and encourage me on my journey.  It meant so much to me.   I'm grateful that she took time out of her busy schedule to do this interview.  Thank you, Susan!

Dr. Susan Biali, MD, is an award-winning medical doctor, wellness  expert, life and health coach, author, and flamenco dancer. Based on  over twenty years spent studying principles of health, happiness, and  success, Dr. Biali offers hope, inspiration, and tools for life to  people worldwide. She speaks internationally, personally coaches a wide  range of clients from stay-at-home moms to military leaders, blogs for Psychology Today and is frequently featured in media such as the Ricki Lake Show, The Chicago Tribune, Cosmopolitan, Martha Stewart Living, and The Washington Post.  She is the author of the bestselling  book, Live a Life You Love: 7 Steps to a Healthier, Happier, More Passionate You.  You can find out more on her website: www.susanbiali.com. Read Susan's interview below!

Image (c) Dr. Susan Biali
Image (c) Dr. Susan Biali

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received? Who did you receive it from?

"Figure out who you are, and what you really want to do with your life." This came from a senior Emergency Medicine resident, when she called me (unknowingly) on a night where I was feeling so desperate about my future that I was considering taking my life.  She told me to take stress leave, and that I'd be welcome to come back to the residency program at any time...but gave me this incredible "homework". It changed my life forever.

How important is mentorship in terms of your success?

I have been fortunate to have great mentors along the way - one was a successful speaker I met at a conference who offered to mentor me with monthly calls that helped me enormously in building a career as a professional speaker.  Another is a wonderful executive coach who I regularly have calls with - we coach each other and share secrets, insights, and strategies. She has impacted my life in amazing ways.  From the opposite perspective, someone I began mentoring a few years ago has become so successful that now she and I coach each other, so fun.

What has been the best moment in your life so far?

One of the most fabulous moments so far has been performing flamenco dance on Christmas Eve at Las Ventanas al Paraiso Resort - Sean Penn and the owners of the Lakers were in the audience (they sure knew how to cheer - not surprising really!).  It's when I really knew that the big dreams I'd had for my life weren't just silly imagination.

What tips would you have for living a healthy life?

Get enough sleep, eat well (don't eat junk because you're stressed - I know it's hard!), and exercise daily even if it's just a walk. Really listen to your body when it tells you it needs to slow down.

How do you motivate yourself to persist despite setbacks?

I remind myself of all the stories I've collected over the years of enormously successful people who got there because they persisted (often against incredible odds and apparent failure).

What has been your biggest setback? How did you deal with it? What did you learn from it?

I haven't written about this publicly yet (though I'm planning to), but during my book tour in 2010 just as things were starting to really take off (major national media were contacting my book publicist etc.), I experienced a dramatic blow in my personal life that sidelined all my plans and took me many months to recover from.  I dealt with it by looking after myself on a very deep level, and took a lot of pressure off myself professionally. I learned a lot about timing from this experience (e.g. being patient, trusting life to come through no matter what), as I've found my direction and focus again in the last few months and my career has taken off again accordingly.  It looks like it was meant to be a season of strengthening in the face of adversity, to prepare me for yet another higher level.  Not fun, but so worth it!

How do you deal with critics?

I always first ask myself (or a trusted confidante) if they're right - I'm always open to new perspectives, feedback can be very helpful.  If they're just being mean for the sake of being mean, or clearly don't get what I'm trying to do or what it's all about, I ignore them.

How important is social support in overcoming obstacles?

It's critical - yet you must have social support that is truly supportive, people who share your vision and encourage you in the possibilities.  If you're doing something truly unique in life, many people won't understand you and may try to "protect" or discourage you; be around those people as little as possible!  Social support is also important for blowing off steam after you've been pushing past those obstacles; it's important to have people that you just love being around who you can relax, laugh, and recharge with.

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What advice would you give others about goal setting?

Dream big. I don't use the "SMART" style of goal-setting with clients as I find it too rigid and concrete.  While we do focus on specifics when appropriate (for example, if the goal is losing weight), I like the journey to meeting a goal to generally feel more like exploration and play, a delicious journey.  With most people I have to encourage/teach them how to open up to possibilities, to flow with the opportunities that begin to come their way as they become clear about their vision and dreams for their life.  We still identify clear next steps, and set deadlines if appropriate, but I don't like to box their goals in with too rigid a structure that feels like school or work.  Not to mention that many of the goals I have personally achieved would not have been deemed by traditional coaching models as "attainable" or specific (they kept morphing as things unfolded more and more spectacularly). Set a big goal or dream, identify what you need to do next to move you closer to it (and identify the obstacles - most frequently old habitual thought patterns or beliefs that hold you back, a good coach is a great help to assist you in seeing these), and then keep your eyes peeled as the path starts to open in front of you.

What life lesson have you learned that you would like to pass along to others?

Be yourself. Be yourself. Be yourself. It's not selfish. When you honor and use your unique talents and become all that you were meant to be (whatever that means, big or small), you bless all those people (could be a dozen, could be a million) who benefit from your being your best you.

Thank you Susan for sharing all your life lessons with us!You really have inspired me! Keep up the amazing work. I hope I get the chance to meet you someday.

Thank you for reading and your presence at this beach retreat. You Rock! I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts in the comment section below.

See you at the beach!