When it comes to living and working to your fullest potential, authenticity is key. It's also essential for overcoming the negative self-talk and catastrophic assumptions that can sometimes dominate our thinking in a high-pressure working world.
As we head into Relativity Fest season, I wanted to bring Erin Coupe onto the podcast. She has her own business, Authentically EC, which is all about finding your authentic self—and I’m delighted to say she’ll join us again at Fest this year.
In this episode of Stellar Women, Erin and I talk about how to connect with your truest self to be more intentional at work and find greater balance in life. Give it a listen and check out a partial transcript below. You can also find it in your favorite podcast app!
Blair Cohen: When Erin walks into a room, it's an energy of self-assuredness. Just an immediate calm. But I know that you didn’t always feel like that, right? Can you give us a little bit of background on what brought you to your "aha, things need to change!" moment?
Erin Coupe: Oh, absolutely. I spent a lot of my twenties on Wall Street, in a high-stress environment and dealing with a culture of face time—and that was not an app! It was just, you're at your desk 14 hours a day and it ate away at me over time. It was really detrimental to my psychology and to my physiology. That was a big driver in me finding mindfulness. After I resigned from that industry (not just from that company), I found a book called The Buddha Walks into a Bar.
I went into Barnes and Noble and was like, "What do I want to read? This sounds good." This book with a bright red cover jumped out at me, and that was my intro into mindfulness. That was many years ago, and over time, what I realized is that I was so drawn to a lot of what mindfulness has to share with us, because I sort of knew on a deep level that I could live my life differently—that I could feel differently in my own skin every single day, that I could feel differently in my own mind every day. And it was this new awareness that I was building that was just, "Yes, this is the way forward for me."
So fast forward several years. I about I would say six years ago now, I had two kids and I was working 50 hours a week for a Fortune 200 company. And I was just living the life of kind of running myself to the ground.
I feel like a lot of us, a lot of women, especially in this industry, can relate to that. Always saying yes, like always, putting others first.
Right! And thinking that it's what we have to do in order to be validated and to be accepted and, ultimately, to feel like we're winning or that we're achieving something in life. But in reality, I was so resentful—and that resentment was something that affected me in every area of my life.
That awareness was my wake-up call. I realized I've got to look myself in the mirror and take responsibility for what it is that I'm putting out into the world, what it is that I'm feeling internally, and how I go about moving forward in my life. And that's where this journey with mindfulness and all the things that I teach and being authentic really started.
e-Discovery is the industry that never sleeps, where the sun never sets. I know I feel like I've had to almost put armor on: I'm a corporate woman—I am always on my computer, I'm always available, Slack me, text me. Whatever you need, I'm there. But that's just not sustainable. And it's also not who I am authentically. How do you find your balance, being your authentic self at work?
A lot of people think of being authentic at work is, as one former client said to me, like: "If I'm a jerk and I just show up as a jerk, that's being authentic, right?" And no, that's actually the furthest from the truth.
People might think that being authentic at work is just displaying every emotion that you might be having or sharing all your dirty laundry with everybody so that everyone knows everything about you. That's being authentic, but it's also not what it is. Being authentic is being intentional in what you're experiencing, what you're feeling, and how you're showing up for you, and then how you bring that to others. And when you're more authentic, you truly are more whole—physically and mentally and emotionally and spiritually. You are grounded. You have an awareness about you, you have a confidence about you, where you're okay being you in any moment of your day, no matter who you're with, no matter what meeting you're going into. You don't allow everything around you to drive your behavior. You drive your behavior authentically from within, behave as the you that you know—not because of others' expectations or what you think someone's expectations are.
I did wear that mask for a long time: you know, the proverbial mask. Because for me, I always thought, especially on Wall Street, "Oh, gosh, there's someone that I'm supposed to behave like! Look around at all these people. Maybe I'm supposed to behave like an Ivy Leaguer." But I wasn't an Ivy Leaguer! Or "I'm supposed to behave like one of the 650 men on the trading floor, because that's just—that's how people dress. That's what people say. That's what people do."
But that wasn't me. And honestly, making myself someone I wasn't every single day was killing my soul. It was draining my energy.
What were some of the things you did to find your authentic self?
For one, I started to work on me. You know that saying: that you can't be great until you get started, but you have to get started to be great? That is true with anything, right? So for me, it started with intentionality. I had to be intentional in how I was showing up for me. One of the first things I did, about six years ago, was to give up Netflix and wine. Because I used to have this routine where I would have a glass of wine at maybe 5:00- 5:30 in the evening. Then, my kids are so young that I get them to bed at 7:00, and then I'd have another glass and I'd sit down on the couch and watch Netflix. That was my time to kind of zone out and not feel what I really needed to feel. Now, when I cut back, I still did the Netflix and wine; I didn't go cold turkey. However, what I did with more of that time was journaling. I was meditating. I was reading. And with all of those practices came new levels of awareness, came new tools that I could start to practice, came new insights that really planted seeds within me that were helping me grow and shift toward what I wanted to be—and what I knew I could be—rather than what society was telling me I needed to be.
Over time, what allowed me to be most authentic is letting go of what other people think and letting go of what my mind tells me they're thinking. You know, we create these fictional stories—and I was the queen of that. I always say I'm a recovering self-sabotage addict, because I would tell myself all these stories about what every single person around me is saying about me or thinks about me or wants from me. And those stories were deadening.
At Relativity Fest this year, you're hosting a workshop for our Stellar Women community called "Standing in Your Truth." Can you give us a little teaser preview?
I cannot be more excited to be with everybody that day. This will be a workshop on our sense of self. If we don't have a strong sense of self, then it is really hard to be present. It is really hard to know authentically who we are and to show up as we are and not be creating all these stories in our heads or wearing that proverbial mask. So a lot of this this workshop will be around skill sets in self-awareness and in understanding and managing your own energy—a lot of little hacks and tips and tools on how to connect inwardly and authentically to who you truly are underneath all this other stuff that we have going on in our own heads.
Erin, where can people find out more about you?
My website is ErinCoupe.com. You can find me on LinkedIn under the same name Erin Coupe and also on Instagram, @authenticallyEC.