Life is not about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.
– Bernard Shaw
We grew up with engaging, enterprising parents, who loved my sister and me to pieces. Yet conflict was a daily staple, my young heart absorbing it all. I especially hated the tense conversations, the hollering, the disconnection I felt.
I was smart enough to stay out of the direct line of fire, so it was a natural progression to the therapist’s chair when, years later, I found myself helping people sort through complicated conversations and traumatic experiences.
In spite of their own conflict, both of my parents built successful small businesses and were actively engaged in the life of our community. That entrepreneurial spirit and a willingness to learn lives in my blood.
Early on in my career, I brought my counseling skills to work as a manager of an employee assistance program. I loved it, all the way around.
I was training and teaching business leaders in the ‘soft skills’ of presence and listening.
I was working with entrepreneurs to juggle their vision with caring for their teams while running viable businesses.
I was having an impact in the very businesses where we spend so much time grappling with change and the stress that goes with it. Yet I knew there was more.
I sought to take a deeper dive, stretching myself to learn how to transform stress while fostering the human side of business.
A few certifications later, I tapped into my consulting skills and set out to create my own business. I was committed to standing in my own power as a woman, as a business owner, and to tap that inherited entrepreneurial DNA that had long been itching for expression.
Yet being my own boss and having a full life, well, it’s not been an easy road.
A fiery, failed marriage later, and the embarrassment that came with it as a psychologist (we should have it all together, don’t you know), I found myself struggling — identity in tatters, coping tools not working.
I knew I needed to check myself for what I couldn’t see or know or do. I went to therapy, got into another advanced program, started my business, cried a lot, found a coach, took up the martial art of aikido (who’d have thought?).
It was then, thankfully, that I happened upon an approach that proved to be life changing. It allowed me to combine my love of learning and intellectual curiosity with my penchant for the outdoors and movement.
I’d discovered the powerful work of embodiment, and it opened a doorway for me to access aspects of my self that were beyond my thinking mind, and opened to a whole new world of possibilities.
From a heap of ashes, and plenty of self-development work, a new me emerged. A voice I didn’t fully recognize started speaking up, a confidence I’d not known before started to bloom.
Embodiment helped me rise from the ashes, but it didn’t turn me into a unicorn..
Being my own boss lets me choose what I want to do, to create what I envision . . . yet my deep inner work had unearthed some core beliefs that still had their teeth in me.
“If I’m competent, I should be able to do it all by myself.”
“Before I really put myself out there, I should get more training (another certification, online course).”
The first few years were rough . . . I couldn’t get clear on what to do first, there were so many things to be done in the business, all while working full time too.
I had nagging doubts about my capacity to really build my business. I often wondered if I should’ve gone to B-school instead getting my doctorate in psychology.
“Work harder” was another engrained belief that caused me grief. I wanted to do business, “the right way,” you know, like the big-time consultants.
Except, I wasn’t a big-time consultant.
Instead, I spent long hours working 1:1, trying to grasp the ups and downs of accounting, sales, and the follow through required to build a successful business.
Half completed projects. Classes that flopped.
Burning myself out with 1:1 coaching clients and one-off teaching gigs, which looked good on paper, but weren’t sustaining in the long run.
Something had to change, and I had a sneaking suspicion (read: intuition) that it had to begin with me, despite my fears and reservations and resistance.
The Big Leap
So, I took a breath, reflected on those “surefire strategies” I was told would work, examined that false belief I’d bought into about how these things were done, and decided to let them go.
Instead, I took a leap!
That leap was a 180° turn to step into something bigger than what I’d been doing for years, something that I’d have to commit to fully and be willing to learn at a new level – to embody a new way of being in my business
After the initial fright (WTF am I doing?), I realized that when I had traction in the past, the times I was most successful were when
- I listened to the intuition that lived in my body, following my heart as well as my head – again, embodiment
- l let someone support me in my dream—‘you mean I didn’t have to figure it all out myself?’ and
- I was working in collaboration with a partner or team toward a greater end – connection and collaboration.
In those times I tapped something almost magical: the brilliance and natural energy I believe we all have within us.
My process was no longer the canned, prescribed way to build a business they teach in B school.
Not the ‘right way’ selling track with lots of consultant-speak and forced scarcity to drive sales.
Not the manipulative or ‘have my perfect life’ social media posturing that hides reality.
I was building my heart’s desire business and it wasn’t at odds with supporting others at all!
Actually, it wasn’t about developing a business at all. The business had to work to be viable, but it was simply a means to serve.
I’d been going about it backwards, striving for the ‘right way’ had led me the wrong way. I’m guessing you can relate.
To grow others, I had to grow myself first.
To build offers that were responsive professional’s needs, I’d have to tune into what I needed first. Only then could I tap into my creative energy and cultivate it to meet the positive challenges ahead.
What about you?
Are you ready to take on the momentum building action steps to grow yourself, to grow into the contribution that’s only yours to make?
To take real steps toward the aspirations you’ve been holding onto? To be that balanced professional or entrepreneur whose leadership stands out and makes an impact?
Look, I know you’re ready to do the work because you’re here (or at least poking around, looking for answers in the right place).
By reading about my journey and challenges you’ve shown that you are curious about doing the work, you just need to make sure it’s the right work, at the right time, with the right person for you.
I’ve had the privilege and honor of working with hundreds of clients, professionals and entrepreneurs just like you, to grow themselves so they could grow their impact.
How? By choosing to be a learner in life, to commit to what’s important, and to take focused action. Then repeat.
Embodied learning is transformative, whole-self learning that informs the way you show up in the world, with it you cultivate the ability to do something new that you can’t already do.
It’s embodied learning that generates the powerful momentum to uproot old mindsets and create forward momentum in life.
My reputation is based on my skill for coaching and teaching to the hard things – the invisible things – those ways of being that support abalanced, integrated day-to-day life, where good decisions are arrived at by listening to your body and mind, and taking responsibility for your story, crafting each chapter–especially the ending-is as natural as breathing.
Partner with me in a safe space where we can explore the invisible (or glaring) patterns that got you here. You don’t need to carry them into the future or stay stuck in striving for something that’s not meant for you.
Together we’ll create clarity, learn new practices, and work your edge of mastery.
In fact, you’ll learn to
- Clarify your purpose
- Communicate with greater influence & power
- Collaborate & delegate effectively
- Operate skillfully & efficiently
- Move high-performance teamwork forward
I can do this with you because I’ve done it, and I teach what I have learned and know – warts and all.
If you have some resonance with what you’re reading, and want to get a sample experience of my work you can download my “5 Steps to a More Resilient You.’
Even better, you can grab a cup of coffee and hop on a no-obligation Discovery Call with me. I’m curious about how I can support your personal vision to impact the world.
A Little About Me
- I took up skydiving in my 20s, much to my mother’s chagrin. Loved it!
- I am a student of aikido and 3rd degree black belt.
- I secretly aspire to be a jazz singer.
Chris Johnson, PsyD
As an psychologist, Master Somatic Coach, and business owner, I’m passionate about embodied learning and leadership, and leveraging it to cultivate strong business and community leaders, healthy workplaces, and engaged, thriving communities.
I get to spend my time creating learning opportunities and coaching folks to embody a more compelling presence, align their actions with what matters most to them, and to transform life’s high pressure stresses into opportunities for deeper connection and greater contribution with others and the environment. It’s the best learning gig around!
Over past twenty-five years, I’ve delivered coaching & training to 100’s of clients in numerous organizations. In addition to my doctoral work in psychology, from the Chicago School of Professional Psychology in Chicago where I’ve taught in the Executive and Professional Development Program, I am deeply informed by my ongoing training and practice in both mindfulness, from the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care and Society, and in somatic leadership from Leadership Embodiment, Zen Leader, and the Strozzi Institute where I am certified as a master somatic coach and teacher.
To that end, I help smart, savvy, successful leaders like you take your leadership and team performance from functional to excellent!
I’m known for creating trust with those who value honesty, deep listening and straight talk, and my commitment to their success.
And, I like to partner with clients who are committed to success and are willing to do what it takes to learn, to excel in this journey of work-life integration.
Together we co-create space to learn, to embody a compelling presence, to handle high pressure situations with greater ease, to collaborate with others and create skillful, focused action towards results that matter.
In short, I help people tap into the best in themselves so they can make a bigger difference in the world.
Are you ready to dive in and discover what’s possible for you and your team?
Still have unanswered questions? Check out our FAQs here.
Why did you become an executive & leadership coach?
The honest answer is that I’ve learned so much from having had one (four to be exact) over the years) that it’s hard to believe where my professional life would be today without one! That said, with my background as a psychologist, interested in learning and performance, and with my training in mindfulness, which is all about awareness, adaptability and resilience, becoming a coach was as natural as breathing.
What are your qualifications to coach me or my team?
When working with clients, I’m certified to use a number of professional assessments including The Leadership Circle Profile (TLCP), Emotional Competence (EQ), Focused Energy Balance Indicator (FEBI), Lominger’s Talent Suite.
Who are your ideal clients?
In our work, leaders and their team members uplevel their awareness, mindsets, strategies and skills to take leadership and team collaboration and performance from functional to excellent.
Who do you work best with?
I work best with clients who are committed to success and are willing to do what it takes to learn (which typically includes getting uncomfortable, making mistakes and perhaps even failing at something), are committed to long-term growth and change, and understand the value of investing in themselves and their teams.
Hard-working, responsible, and successful people who want to up their game in life, while having fun and learning will benefit most for our work together.
Who do you NOT work well with?
How do you work? What can I expect?
Working with clients, consider me all in—in to you becoming your best self, in to you developing that new skill, taking that new risk, living into a better version of yourself as a leader, whatever your role.
I use an embodied learning approach as the starting point. Working in this way promotes catalytic shifts in awareness, mindset and the skills needed to be successful.
Since I work with only a few clients at a time, you can look for a lot of personalized attention and challenge (even a push when needed) that will result in clarity, accountability, and celebration.
Can I just sign up for one session with you?
Nope—Change takes time. Since your current thoughts and emotions, behavior patterns and habits didn’t form overnight, neither will your new, intentional ones.
That said, sign up for a Discovery call so I can learn more about your concerns. What I can say is that I’m 100 % all in for those I do work with, and would certainly bring that commitment to working with you
How does a coach differ from a therapist, counselor or other type of helping professional?
Unlike therapists or counselors, where the focus is often on diagnosing a problem with the professional’s expertise and then solving it, or healing the past, working with a coach is a generative experience where the focus is on co-creating new outcomes: skills, opportunities, futures.
If you imagine a cross between a hard-driving sports coach, a strategic thinking partner, a good old-fashioned and trusted friend, you’ll find an effective coach–one who will work you hard.
As your coach, I’ll ask powerful questions that have you look inside yourself for answers. I’ll challenge you, and “hold” you to your vision for yourself. I’ll give you practices to stretch towards your future, and opportunities to develop the skills, strategies, and mindsets to fulfill on what’s most important to you.
As a psychologist, do you still see therapy clients?
Why do I need you? Can’t I just do this on my own?
Often if you’re into the DIY approach, you’ll end up feeling isolated, frustrated and stuck. Besides, if you could shift (your perspective, attitude, skills, etc) on your own why haven’t you already?
All of us can benefit from alternative perspectives since they sharpen our awareness, and open possibilities. Top athletes rely on their coaches to bring out their strengths, improve on their weaknesses, and push their best performance. The same is true in life and work.
I’m super busy and overwhelmed these days. How much time will it take before I get results?
Being busy can deplete all your energies, those you really need to make a difference. Learning to pause will help, and here I’ll be your biggest supporter. Yet, truth be told, your own level of your engagement and commitment will drive how fast you see results.
I’ve never invested in myself like this before. How can I justify this expense?
I’m not quite ready to get started, is there a way to sample your work?
I still have a few questions for you. Can I talk with you on the phone?
Absolutely! Set up a complimentary Discovery Call with me so we can talk about your concerns in more detail and I can answer any questions you have.