On coaching, discovering your values & impact

Briony McKenzie

December 7, 2019

I met Briony at an event where she did a group coaching session and I was so impressed with how passionate and kick-ass she was, asking just the right questions and making you dig for things inside yourself. I started following her coaching brand - Untapped on Insta and was impressed even more with all the hard work and dedication she puts in every single day to be a better support person for others. I am super grateful to have Briony share her journey on Storyo!

You talk a lot about transitioning from corporate law at Chapman Tripp to being a coach and running your own business. Tell us a bit about this journey?  

From the day I started law, I knew it wasn’t my future. But I’ll be honest, I had NO idea what it was that I wanted to do, which is how I came across the personal development industry. I started looking for answers, and I actually found more questions. But in the process I fell in love with human potential and personal growth. I travelled all over the world training in-person with some of the biggest names in the industry (Tony Robbins, Landmark Education, Luke Hawkins) and I worked with local New Zealand coaches (START, Emily Gallagher to name a few) too.

Eventually, with the strong desire to share this work to impact others, I started running some free breakfast workshops called ‘Why Wednesday’ in downtown Auckland. At first, it was just my friends (shout out to them), then their friends and eventually tables full of people I had never met (which was a cool moment!). The passion and drive grew stronger so I started to hatch my exit plan from law. I started working weekends, early mornings, late nights: working with private clients, designing programmes, creating content & building what would be the Untapped brand.

I stopped going out as much, I got my head in the game and for 6 months I worked full-time in law and side hustling Untapped. Looking back, it wasn’t sustainable. My health and relationships were definitely impacted - a lesson I would later learn but for the moment it seemed necessary. I siphoned away money into my ‘Let’s Leap Fund’ - approx. $10,000 as a security blanket for when I finally decided to make the leap. This is something I suggest every single person who is considering leaving their full-time work does.

On 16th November 2017, I handed in my resignation letter to my supervising partner. He offered me a part-time / contracting work but I was ready (well actually I was shaking and thought I might vomit) but I knew it was time to burn the boats and take the island. The weeks that followed were some of the most challenging and uncertain times I have ever experienced. I felt lost without my identity as a lawyer, I felt lonely without a team, I felt scared with little to no consistent income, and I had no idea how to build a business (haha shit!). But I was committed, I had a heart full of possibility, a notebook full of ideas, an unshakeable mindset, a community of people cheering me on.

I can hand on my heart say, my experience of 4 years in law has given me an undeniable and invaluable advantage in launching my entrepreneurial endeavours. The work ethic that was instilled, the ability to cope under pressure, the eye for detail, the mind for systems and processes, the level of professionalism ingrained into us, not to mention the credibility (people love that haha!). And whilst law wasn’t my future, it provided me with phenomenal training and incredible connections and I will be eternally grateful for that.

The other training that has been an absolute asset was years of Speech & Drama, during school and university studies. I worked my way up the grades and completed my ATCL and LTCL (fancy letters meaning I am a qualified Speech & Drama teacher) with Trinity College. Whilst I had no ‘specific long-term intention’ for this training, I loved it and I’m a big believer that if we continue to follow the things that give us energy and draw our curiosity - eventually all the dots connect. And they did! Speech & Drama has given me tools to speak on stages, run video campaigns, improvise during workshops - all with ease and grace.

Untapped breakfast workshop with Briony

What are your guiding principles / values in life and in the work you do?

Nature. She’s my homegirl. My place to slow, reconnect, reset. Whether it’s hiking in the hills, swimming in the ocean, snowboarding down the mountain - this is my happy place where I completely lose track of time. And in New Zealand, we are SO blessed with what we have available in our backyard! I am committed that every Kiwi gets out and explores our magic - just email me if you need suggestions.

Impact. One of my favourite moments is when I see a client have what we call an ‘aha moment’ - whether it’s in a workshop or during an online coaching session, you just know when the penny has dropped. You see the years of limitations, pains or fears they have created disappear and they are finally free to step into their truth. Ahhhh it gives me goosebumps!

Coaching isn’t about giving people the answers or advice, it’s about asking them powerful questions and challenging their thinking so that they discover their own answers. The discovery of these answers is what alters the course of their life and it’s and an absolute honour to be part of this process.

I believe we have 1-2 top core values that are unchanging. For me, they are growth and service / contribution. Beyond this, life will give us new experiences, we will evolve as humans, and our priorities will change so from there I think values should shift and expand.

What are some of the things you have done that didn’t align with how you felt and how did it affect you?

I try to slow down and reflect a lot more before I say yes these days. But absolutely, as a recovering people-pleaser, I would always find myself at coffee dates or events that weren’t truly filling me up. So that’s been a journey to really tune into what’s aligned.

In the past, I used to drink and party a lot. Being a Dunedin student and then a corporate lawyer - it was a huge part of our culture and how people connected. Deep down I always kind of hated the binge drinking culture and being hungover but alcohol was such a normalised part of society and I didn’t want to be excluded. It took many awkward and questionable moments about ‘feeling different’, and not being invited to BYO parties anymore but eventually in the past couple of years I have finally found my place and my authentic relationship with it - which is that I don’t drink, and whilst I love to socialise - I don’t value alcohol fuelled connection and I would honestly rather hit up a personal development seminar together - they get pretty high vibe dance parties! I’m not anti-alcohol or saying everyone needs to give up drinking, for me this was just another example of leaving societal conditioning and expectations to get closer to the truest and most authentic expression of myself.

Seed Waikato event in Hamilton - Briony speaking on stage

What is the toughest thing about being a freelancer and owning your own business?

Couple of things on this one.

Working alone, because we are social beings and we are designed to have community and connection so the notion of ‘working on your own’ as a ‘solo-entrepreneur’ goes against this ingrained biology. In the beginning, I worked from home but after doing too many loads of washing and eating a jar of peanut butter a day haha the best decision I ever made was joining the co-working space at GridAKL Auckland.

Financials. When you go from a consistent paycheque to the complete unknown of how you will pay next weeks rent - it’s, well, challenging.

I could take this so many directions right now but I will share the most impactful area. I invested heavily in my own money mindset, understanding my personal psychology with money and unpacking my belief systems around money. I had some huge blocks around “making money doing something I love and charging my worth”, and “feeling guilty for wanting wealth” - through NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) I reprogrammed some of these subconscious beliefs so that I was freed up to increase my prices, charge my worth, and generate sufficient income so I could keep doing my work in the world.

In the social impact space, I hear (and also used to say) “it’s not about the money and I don’t need to make lots of money” - sure, but what if you could?! Wanting money can be seen as ‘dirty’ and taboo to talk about so I am going to go ahead and talk about it. It’s ok to want wealth and financial freedom, with that we can scale / grow and create more impact! Here is the mindset that helped me: “you will be paid in direct proportion to the value you bring to the world” - don’t focus on the money, focus on the value.

When looking from the outside in, it is always easy to assume that others have it all figured out and we might feel like we are not good enough. Could you please share some of the personal or professional challenges that you have experienced?  

I cry. I shake and sweat before going on stage. I rewatch a video and want to delete it only moments after I have posted it. I say rude snappy things to my partner when I am triggered. I wake up at 4 am sometimes wondering what I’m doing with my life. I wonder if that new person and the party thinks I’m cool… I have family trauma that I’m working on healing. I struggle to slow down and have to catch myself when I have turned into a walking to-do list and google calendar. I still get self-conscious at the beach.

I had and continue to have every single limiting belief and self-doubt. As follows:

  • You’re not enough. Full stop. Just never enough.
  • It’s got to be perfect.
  • What will people think, they’ll judge you.
  • Who do you think you are, you don’t have enough experience or qualifications to do it!
  • What if you fail. How embarrassing…
  • Someone is going to find you out! You big fraud!
  • You’re a dreamer. Get real.

These thoughts roll around - 10 years ago, 5 years ago and unhelpfully this morning as I write this article. The truth is this inner critic is a part of everyone one of us and it’s designed to keep us safe and small. And the more I coach, the more I realise: Every. Single. Human. Being. Has. These. Thoughts. Read that again. You are not alone!

The only difference might be that I don’t believe these BS thoughts and I definitely don’t let them stop me! I continue to move forward and take action in the face of them and I choose empowering beliefs that serve me, such as…..

  • You were born enough and you always will be.
  • Progress over perfection.
  • People judge regardless, let them judge you for being willing to follow your purpose and live courageously.
  • You have everything you need. Just start.
  • The biggest failure of all is to never try.
  • In every moment, we are creating our reality. If you say it’s possible, it’s possible.

Hahaha, also there is some stuff they don’t tell you about ‘finding your purpose’ or ‘landing your dream job’ even when you do - it’s still challenging! My challenges 2 years ago have transcended and now I have new ones: how to hire, how to scale, how to build community when working remotely. One of my biggest & most effective #lifehacks to navigate challenges is that I ALWAYS have a coach and community who have my back! No one does it alone.

When I first started coaching, I looked out to the marketplace and I was like, “Oh no there are coaches everywhere - the market is saturated. She’s so good on video. That one has 10k followers. Ahhhh he’s way ahead of the game”. Again, more unhelpful thoughts. But the truth is each and every one of us is unique. We each have a special story, a particular essence, a unique message and the world needs all of it!

My current challenge: every single time I open Instagram, I get hit with massive inspiration and comparison. Loads of my friends are coaches, so I see them showing up online and my ego is like, “Oh shit Briony, what have you been doing! Look at that picture, she’s so good at editing. He made 10 videos in 10 days. Ahh you’ll just never create content like they do”. Haha again, unhelpful thoughts! Here’s my current ritual:

  • Pause and notice it. “Wow I’m triggered AF right now, my focus is out of my own lane.”
  • Ok state change - get up and move, dance!
  • Right - “What is it within them that is unrealised within me?” See whatever is within them is within you. Everything is within you just some parts just haven’t been activated yet!
  • Amazing - “Are you ready to awaken this part of yourself?”
  • Celebrate - Woohoo a new area to deep dive on and awaken!

We put people on pedestals, but the truth is whatever you see someone is within you too. If you see something you like - it’s yours. I literally look to my mentors and inspirations and list the qualities within them that I want to awaken within me.

Briony McKenzie on the pier facing the water

If you had to recommend one or two things for people to ponder in their own life - what would they be?

Discover your core values (so you can design your life around them). This exercise literally changed how my whole life occurred and gave me such a sense of clarity and confidence in who I am. Sign up for Free ‘Uniquely Untapped’ 5-Day Mini-Course here.

Surround yourself with a community of people who ‘get you’, live your values and empower you. Your ENVIRONMENT is EVERYTHING! I had so many moments in life I felt like I didn’t belong but as I stepped more into the truth of who I was I finally felt connected and a sense of belonging I had been yearning for. Your vibe attracts your tribe, stay true to your values, go to events that align and you will find your people!

Have you worked with any people in the coaching setting who might not necessarily want to start their own company or do “big” things, but are quite content at enjoying life without having to be a high achiever? Do you approach it differently?

Not everyone is here to ‘change the world’ at the grandiose level. You can be a badass Mumma, a truck driver, a content lawyer, an amazing sister, a present and joyful checkout attendant. The world is made up of all of these and every single one is as valid and as important as the other. There is nothing ‘wrong or inferior’ with this and no one is judging you. To those who are quite content enjoying life, I say ENJOY IT! That is what the human experience is about.

Also, worth mentioning quite often high-performers and achievers chase ‘stuff’ because they aren’t comfortable in themselves and seeking something outside of themselves to fill a void so we have to be careful of that!

It is my belief that personal growth and coaching could serve every human being in their endeavour to live a powerful, happy, deep and fulfilling life. But on the very same notion, there are people who heard the call, there are people who wake up with a deep sense of desire to do something great, there are people who know that they are not living their truth and that their life is to be used for a purpose and greater good and to those people I say, answer the call.

Briony talking at The Social Experiment, the words: “The secret sauce.” projected at the back

If not coaching, what would alternative-universe-Briony be doing now?

It’s funny, I ponder this often. Right now I feel so aligned with coaching, it’s hard for me to imagine anything else. But here are some other future Briony’s: writer, movie maker, nature’s tour guide, leading personal growth workshops in third world nations - all through the lens of personal growth and awakening humanity, of course.

And finally, whose story would you want to read about on here?

Gemma Major: founder of Seed Waikato and amazing new mama to Malakai, she is an inspiration to myself and so many others on how to balance and integrate all the magic life has to offer!

Tui Williams: founder of Spirit Labs, she has a gift at weaving indigenous wisdom with leadership development & innovation. A true feminine leader of our time.

Aenslee Tanner: an incredible mentor and absolute powerhouse coach empowering women to step into their confidence and leadership abilities!

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