Parvati Magazine sat down with Kelley Kosow, Master Integrative Life Coach and Chief Executive Officer & Program Leader of The Ford Institute, to obtain her thoughts on leading a business through a major transition and opportunities for personal growth in the workplace.
Parvati Magazine: In 2013, Debbie Ford, the founder of the Ford Institute, passed away. You had been chosen by Debbie to continue her work and lead the organization, though this had not been fully communicated to everyone prior to her passing. What was the transitioning experience like?
Kelley Kosow: All I can say is thank God I had been deeply practicing the shadow work, since that is all about knowing that everything is happening for your evolution and to support you in owning all of yourself. As the successor, I was naturally the object of lots of projections. People were grieving for Debbie and many did not know me like Debbie had. I made it all about the work, which forced me to go way deeper, leading me to break it down and dissect it in ways I had not previously done. The result was that my connection to the work grew as well as my confidence.
PMAG: What was the impact of your deepening connection to the work?
KK: I truly learned what we teach – to trust the process. When people walk into the Shadow Process we create a safe cocoon for them to look inside. It requires them to willingly get on a roller coaster and stay open to all the twists and turns knowing that they will have the ride of their life and end dancing in delight as they get to the destination of their dreams. They need to trust the process. It all comes together with an amazing team and open hearted participants who honour us by allowing us to bear witness to their lives.
PMAG: How do you foster alignment and cohesion in your organization?
KK: We practice what we teach. Keeping the shadow work front and center as the real driver and using the tenets of the work in running the business is key. It helps transcend our fear based attachments such as worrying what others are thinking which leads to greater personal empowerment all around. Our approach is to view what’s happening on the outside as a reflection of what is happening on the inside. This leads to each individual always standing in responsibility for the whole. An example would be if signups are down, we look to ourselves to see where we are blocked. It is vital that all those that are a part of our organization or work with us understand deeply what we are about and what we stand for which is why each person has to experience the work and attend the shadow process.
PMAG: What have you learned as a leader of your organization that could be useful for other organizations?
KK: Each organization needs to have an organizing principle such as a vision or mission that it actively stands behind and uses as a basis for all activities and interactions. Also, everyone needs to stand in the “we” of the organization knowing in “we” there is wellness and in “I” illness.
PM: What opportunities do you see in business today?
KK: The workplace offers a huge opportunity to learn about ourselves and align with something bigger than us. If we are able to face our fears and stand in the mystery of something bigger than us, we can evolve into something more than we ever thought possible.
PMAG: What’s the best place to start?
KK: It starts with ourselves. We don’t always take the requisite time to listen to ourselves and cultivate trust in ourselves. We need to cultivate that muscle of self-trust by standing in that scary place of not knowing and not having a clue. From this place, we can begin to recognize that all is happening for our own evolution, we can show up from a place of humility and accept the universe as the most benevolent friend and teacher.
Kelley Kosow is a Master Integrative Life Coach and Chief Executive Officer of The Ford Institute, where she is a leader and teacher of emotional education, shadow work, and personal mastery. Kelley Kosow was handpicked and personally trained by Debbie Ford to lead The Ford Institute and continue the legacy of this life changing work. Kelley founded the company Go Goddess!™ Inc., which created games, books, and seminars to empower, inspire, and entertain women and girls. Kelley is currently working on her first book on The Integrity Master Plan – Seven Steps To Living the Freedom of An Authentic Life.
For more information about Kelley, please visit kelleykosow.com/