Susan Dunlop

Sharon Ilstrup, Seattle, Episode 56 (podcast transcript)

Episode 56: Sharon Ilstrup, Seattle: A journey from opening hotels to Silicon Valley; a woman shifting with the curves of life with a vision for the future as a 3 Vital Questions® certified trainer, leadership and career coach, and more.
Sharon Ilstrup Episode 56 Coffee and Contemplation with Susan Transcript
Sharon Ilstrup, 3VQ certified trainer, leadership and career coach, Seattle, Washington

Susan Dunlop: Welcome to episode 56 of Coffee and Contemplation with Susan. Hello, I’m Susan Dunlop. If this is the first time you’ve joined me. Welcome. And if you’ve been tuned in before, thank you for coming back.

People passionate about what they deliver to the world intrigue me and make me want to know what, how and why they do what they do.

I choose to surround myself now with people who set magnificent visions, take risks to do good things in service to others, are kindhearted, purposeful and wise, and enjoy a good laugh. In service or in the books they’ve written, they change lives, including their own. Guests joining me on the Coffee and Contemplation podcast share their personal stories with vulnerability for the benefit of others and are people with professional and experiential knowledge of the theme of each episode.

For the first 40 episodes, I followed the advice of Russell Brunson from ClickFunnels, and he said, “just start recording tomorrow. Just start then when you get to 40 episodes, go back and listen to the first recording and see how far you’ve come”. That, and my post-it note motto, I applied to my very first coaching session, which was first is worst, dare to suck. So to me, everything in life’s about taking baby steps and trusting the process. And it’s good to look back and see that now I did start something and this is where I’ve come to today.

Today’s guest is Sharon Ilstrup of Seattle in Washington, whom I will welcome in just a minute.

Sharon and I have found ourselves to be kindred spirits in all manners of way since we met last October. A creator in every essence, in work and life, Sharon is a peer 3 Vital Questions® certified trainer, and a leadership and career coach, and in our very first intro session of The 3 Vital Questions training last year I recall thinking, did I just hear Sharon say she coaches the techs for Microsoft? And then I wondered, did she say Microsoft because her bookcase behind her is so artfully colourfully displayed, I envisaged, maybe she said Google, but no, we did clarify where and since moved our conversations onto more exciting things like retro campers called Daisy, hiking trips, camping under the stars on islands and our shared passion for creativity in art.

By way of today’s theme, our conversation is going to be, I would say around dreams, a journey that’s more about shifting with the curves of life, rather than the kind of zigzags that other women have shared on the show, to where Sharon has come to today and the vision for where she’s taking her work.

Sharon requested a change of intro music rather than the calm, transitional music that Spotify provided. So this is the inaugural intro, of personalised music. It is Alice in Chains, ‘man in the box’.

Welcome, Sharon, I’m really looking forward to our conversation.

Sharon Ilstrup: Thank you. Thank you, Susan. It’s so fun to be here and thanks for playing the raukus music.

Susan Dunlop: Can you tell me why Sharon we have Alice in Chains’ man in a box?

Sharon Ilstrup: Well it’s kind of one of my top favorite old classic rock songs to sing along to, and thinking about this conversation and the work that we do around victim and creator, it’s the perfect victimy song. If you listen to the song, it’s not super clean, but if you listen to the song, it’s classic victim.

Susan Dunlop: Okay. All right. And I do know you intimated what your sing out loud in the car song is, that’s more creator. Some question ideas that we’ve talked about in our zoom chats, I was intrigued because I haven’t really met many people who’ve worked in Silicon Valley. How did you get there? What was your dream? Was it a dream as a child that you would go and work in the tech industry?

Sharon Ilstrup: Yeah, definitely not! Back then and I’m going to age myself here, there weren’t many girls that definitely were thinking in terms of going into Silicon Valley tech, we were mostly thinking of nursing or being a veterinarian. I think that’s where I maybe wanted to go, or girls would grow up and have babies. Right. We’re talking sixties and seventies. My passion was, and I kind of fell into this, was an opportunity around the travel and hospitality industry. And so that’s kind of where I launched myself into that world and studied in school and I fell in love with that world. So working in Silicon valley came later.

Susan Dunlop: I know, yes the same thing. It was always you’re going to be a nurse, or secretary. You and I, we are born within a year of each other. So I totally get what you’re saying. The tech space thing then, what intrigued you to go, oh, I’m going to work in that industry, because obviously it did turn up on your doorstep.

Sharon Ilstrup: Right. I worked in the hospitality industry. I worked in hotels and my passion was to get them open, which is a lot of work. Get them off the ground and then we start the check-in check-out kind of thing. So I opened three hotels doing that. I worked in Hawaii, here in Washington and I worked in Colorado a little bit and also California and San Francisco Bay area. In the last hotel I opened, in 1989, we had the Loma Prieta earthquake. It was the Hyatt near the airport in San Francisco and the 7.9 earthquake literally knocked our hotel off of its earthquake proof rollers. And not by much, just by inches, but that’s all it took to shut it down for several months.

So I was literally launched out of the hospitality industry. I had a connection of someone who had been staying at the hotel while his house was being built in the Bay area. He was commuting from New Jersey and he’s very high up in Oracle. And he reached out to me and said, I hear you’re out of work. Do you want to come work for me? So I followed that path and that’s how I ended up in tech.

Susan Dunlop: Wow, interesting. So can I just go back there for a moment. When you say, you worked in travel and hospitality, you opened hotels! That’s not quite the same as what you would call hospo in common language nowadays. How did you end up opening hotels?

Sharon Ilstrup: The first hotel I worked for, I applied for, wasn’t open. And so that’s how, and then I got a job and I was working at the front desk for $5.50 an hour, and I loved it. It was right next to a big Colosseum. So a lot of away athletic teams were coming into town, which was really fun as a young person and a lot of superstars and famous singers. And so I got to meet a lot of them. It was just a really fun atmosphere, but then after it got off the ground, it got a little boring. So I’m like, what’s the next hotel I could open. I kind of hopped around a little bit.

Susan Dunlop: Well, that’s interesting. So you’ve moved into tech. Now you and I talk a lot to our clients around the C Dimension of business, you know, the people thing. I was just thinking, what companies have you worked for in the tech space that stand out as understanding and doing all three of the A, B and C dimensions of leadership and communication, as we know it in our 3 Vital Questions® work, and do they do it well?

Sharon Ilstrup: Wow. Hmm. I’d have to think a little hard about that. I loved all the companies I worked for. Back in the eighties and nineties and early two thousands, you know, Oracle, Yahoo, Adobe. I worked for a couple of dot coms that then turned into dot bombs when the market crashed. in San Francisco, I worked for them, and then later Biotech and Genentech, and most of them were focused on the A and the B and not so much the C where it’s really investing in their people and their growth and learning. They’d have motivational speakers come in and talk to us and hype us up but there wasn’t a lot of investment in personal development back then. That came later. It was small pockets, but I think the closest was probably Genentech.

Susan Dunlop: What was your role in tech when you moved from hospitality to tech? What position did you move into?

Sharon Ilstrup: At Oracle, I was in pre-sales and I would sell the relational database management system, RDBMS to the travel and hospitality industry, which was perfect for me because I knew what their needs were. So that was super fun but my roles changed in all of the different companies. And the reason I would leave a company is because something else would pop up and I’d go that sounds interesting. So I’d go to that. Something else, would pop up, you know, a startup company. That sounds fun. So I’d kind of follow whatever energized me, no matter what the role was. I did some HR roles. I managed a large staffing division at Genentech. That was really fun.

Susan Dunlop: That’s interesting isn’t it? So you gathered all that experience to become who you are now.

Sharon Ilstrup: Yeah, it’s amazing. And we’ll probably talk a little bit about the, you know, maybe the inner critic or the imposter syndrome at some point, but that played a big part in my life and thinking that none of this would ever transfer into what it is I really am dreaming about doing.

Susan Dunlop: I know I’ve done the same thing. I left my company after owning it for 16 years and thought who the hell am I at the end of that, but I mean, so many people I’ve spoken to in coaching say the same thing, that transition space of I did this, will I be able to take that into something else? Will anyone understand that’s what I am capable of doing? It is crazy that we shoot ourselves down inside our heads versus actually even putting it out there.

Sharon Ilstrup: Right, right, exactly. And we didn’t discuss this, but I spent 10 years working in education as well. And that was for the school my kids went to, which was really an unusual school. We didn’t have testing or grades. And once that ceiling was taken away, of the testing and the grades, it was amazing what these kids could do, and I then found my passion around adult development and constructivism. And I launched myself into that world and I now see how that plays into the work I do today.

Susan Dunlop: Oh gosh. Yes, that’s it. It’s a really big building block towards what you are, isn’t it. Okay. So how did you come to find the 3 Vital Questions® and TED*™ work, to bring into all of that, that is coming together as you? Was that through your self-directed learning or what was the moment that you looked at that and thought, yes, this is important?

Sharon Ilstrup: My path was circuitous how that played out. I worked in education in this really interesting environment. Right. And it was based on the work of Piaget and the constructivist theory and how we construct meaning, how humans construct meaning and I started to study Piaget, he’s since long gone, but then I found Bob Kegan and through Bob Kegan’s adult development theory, which I soaked up and became super passionate about, I then found the Leadership Circle Profile work with Bob Anderson and Bill Adams, and it was through that work that I found out about, TED* The Empowerment Dynamic™ in the book by David Emerald.

I read that book and that was it. I just thought this is it. I want to learn more and dig deeper. And then I read the 3 Vital Questions® which came out three years ago and then I looked them up and I signed up for the coaching course and then their training course. I’m definitely addicted to learning! This work is life-changing. I wish I had it 20 years ago.

Susan Dunlop: I’m the same. When I came across it, I was like, ah, there is an answer to all the things that I’ve had running through my head in all that time of being a leader, how much I could have done better if I’d had this already. Crazy!

Sharon Ilstrup: And how I wouldn’t have listened to that inner critic, my little inner persecutor. Right. And I would have actually gone for my dream. I followed my path, it’s just I could have saved some time!

Susan Dunlop: It’s funny, you know, I was introduced to the idea that our inner critic is there. It’s been there and it’s us, it’s inside us. And it’d be good to have a look at it and say, well, what are the skills of that inner critic that we can maybe redirect its purpose rather than making it stop us. That is something I’ve been pondering over the last few weeks. Thinking well, okay, (inner critic) you’ve done your job. You’ve been sitting there on my shoulder all this time with your little notepad taking notes so that you can remind me later what I can’t do. What are you good at, inner critic, that I can actually use those skills? Like, how about you come in and be my person in charge of risk. You know, just trying to shift my mindset around that even right now.

Sharon Ilstrup: Yeah, watch what you’re doing. Don’t go that direction. You may want to think twice about that. This is the inner critic talking, right? It can be very useful and full of wisdom, as long as you don’t let it dictate your life, it’s very helpful.

Susan Dunlop: Yes. And I think that was the perspective of it. There is the inner critic that’s you. There’s parts of it though that’s what other people have said, and the information that you’ve taken in and probably could have just let go. So there’s that side of it is probably what I’m thinking. Like that part, it’d be good to say you know what, I get you’re saying that, but that’s not me, how about you and I work on something that’s a little bit more purposeful and will actually take us towards what we want?

Sharon Ilstrup: Yeah. Got it. It makes total sense.

Susan Dunlop: So have you dreamed of something important for you that your inner critic stopped you doing? Let’s talk about that dream and what got in the way.

Sharon Ilstrup: Yeah. Well, the past dream from 20 years ago, when I said I wish I had this work. It was to be a coach. Twenty, it was probably more like thirty years ago when I really sit down and think about time, which is bizarre, 30 years ago that I wanted to be a coach and back then it was kind of this really weird, strange career, right? Only certain people had coaches, but I was fascinated by it, by the whole world of personal growth and working on ourselves.

I was told you should be a motivational speaker. You should be a motivational speaker, this was way back then, not nowadays and, that inner critic got in the way, like why would anyone listen to you, you’re too young. You don’t have the experience. You need a PhD in that. A lot of women use that one. I need another certification. I need another degree. I need a PhD in this before I can go give a talk about this, right? That’s the inner critic alive and well, and it ran my life for a good 20 years. So that dream died.

And then I’m like, all right. So when I finally became of age and, for lack of a better way to describe my age, I was like, I don’t know about being a coach now because I’m too old. Why would anyone listen to me? That can’t be the inner critic coming back? It’s just a pattern I had built. Right? So it came back alive and well, and I finally worked through that by kind of putting my little inner critic, not in its place, but on a ferry to Bainbridge Island or someplace, and just said, what is most important to me? Right. And that’s where that book kind of helped me.

So I’ve only been doing this for about five years, coaching people. I bring all of that experience and wisdom to my calls, and I’ve done the work on myself and I think that what’s important for coaches is we need to work on ourselves and raise our level of consciousness and our inner operating system so that we can support others on their journey.

Susan Dunlop: When you first started doing your coaching course, did that surprise you? That they said that the first year is really about coaching yourself?

Sharon Ilstrup: No. I actually knew that. When I wanted to become a coach this past time around five years ago or six years ago, before certification, I met with a bunch of different coaches and interviewed them and they said the best part is you get to work on your own stuff.

Susan Dunlop: It shocked me at first, but I so appreciated it. It was a brilliant year of just dropping your shoulders a little bit and breathing out.

Sharon Ilstrup: Yeah, we have to center ourselves before we can be available for someone else, and be present.

Susan Dunlop: For sure! I was just going to tell you, there’s a quote I love. Howard Thurman says

Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and go do that because what the world needs is people who have come alive.

Howard Thurman

To get to where you are today, your dream of working with people, who are alive, and you’ve mentioned you worked with some incredible leaders. Bob Anderson is one of those. What have you taken as your top one or three biggest life-changing lessons from all that, that you’ve given yourself to come alive?

Sharon Ilstrup: I think it’s a lot of surrendering. It’s a lot of letting go of our stuff and that’s easier said than done. Right. We love to hang on to our stuff, but I think it’s the surrendering and letting go is number one, and working with someone to learn how to do that. Bob Anderson, I didn’t work with him, but he’s one of my mentors and someone I really admire in the leadership development world and spirituality world, honestly, and the adult development world. He’s brilliant. So I’ve learned a tonne from him.

That is the number one, is that letting go of our stuff. And that means doing the work. So I guess the top three would be all compiled into that one, it’s just really, we have to do our inner work, so that we can show up and be present and not be striving and driving for the next thing and pushing our way through, because that creates resistance.

It’s like pausing and breathing and leaning into our seat of our awareness, leaning back literally and physically, and just letting go…

Susan Dunlop: I know you work with quite young people in the tech industry. Letting go of your stuff, obviously, there’s going to be a lot of what Instagram and social media would say that means, have you got a plain English way of explaining that to your clients about what that means in coaching?

Sharon Ilstrup: A Plain English way of describing that. When I’m working with my clients, I mentioned how people are constantly striving and driving for something out there. It’s this need. It’s this want. It’s so important to sometimes let go of that so that we can be here and be now and do the work. So that we can dream and we can have our desires from a place of presence. Is that landing?

It’s surrendering to the need for clarity. It’s surrendering the need to have the how right, and that’s in the 3 Vital Questions® work. It’s letting go of this need to be something, to prove something. You mentioned Instagram, to compare ourselves, especially with the younger people, that’s a big motivator.

It’s I want to climb a mountain because I want to say I did it right instead of let’s go inside and see what is the dream here? What is the experience? What is the feeling you get from that experience?

Susan Dunlop: It’s the underneath? I’ve talked about that before in a recent episode. A CEO said to me, it’s about understanding the underneath. So giving yourself the grace to do that. Like, you know, how quite often a coaching call isn’t about you filling in the gaps of conversation. It’s letting someone sit until they do find that in themselves. It’s pretty magic, isn’t it?

Sharon Ilstrup: It is incredibly magical. And sometimes it’s weeks and months. It’s uncomfortable. Like if I let go, I’m going to fall. If I surrender to be present, then I have to be present to the feelings and people don’t like that.

Susan Dunlop: That’s a lovely answer. Our mentor, Donna Zajonc, she was on a recent episode too, and spoke of a desire to fix the world. It was in her book, that we talked about in the episode where, Donna’s character learned it became about understanding that it was about easing herself into the flow and the trust of just leaning into her creator essence. You shared a comment in one of our little coffee chats recently about Bob Anderson, something to do with, ‘we need to reinvent our fundamental relationship with ourselves and our planet’. Sharon, how do you see we might start making that shift towards reinvention, as Bob shared with you?.

Sharon Ilstrup: Yeah, and before that he said the world order is imploding. And I think that’s important to say. It is important, right? The world is, we’re seeing it, we’re experiencing it and so how do we do that? How do we reinvent society? Wow. And the fundamental relationship with ourselves and the planet. It’s looking inwards, right? It’s going from, and this is part of Bob Anderson’s work, it’s shifting from two things, and it also is The 3 Vital Questions work.

Shifting your focus and going to purpose versus safety. Trying to keep ourselves safe and reacting to what life is throwing at us, the news is throwing at us, and reacting, or shutting down. Rescuing ourselves. To purpose and vision/outcome in the 3 Vital Questions® work. And so it’s making that shift. What is most important to me? And we start internally. So that’s the shift in focus going from safety and I’m crossing my arms across my chest, to purpose, our vision/outcome – what’s important to us?

That’s the first one.

Then the second one is to go from living an outside-in world to living an inside-out world, and to do that, we have to do the work on ourselves. So I think the only way we can reinvent our fundamental relationship with ourselves and our planet is to look in the mirror.

Susan Dunlop: And take the time on that. You’re making me think? It’s like you can go in that spin cycle of reaction and that’s quite exhausting to keep on being in that space and it’s quite confusing. So it makes it really hard to see the way out of that rat wheel. Funny, you’re doing the same positions as what I do, when I’m thinking physically of it, it’s like that closed small, your breaths even shallower, and all that type of thing. Thinking, oh God, what am I going to do? You just did the same thing with your arm, I put my right arm up in the air and envisage what’s up there, that’s where I’m headed, so, what do I want? And it makes you breathe more. You can look up, you can smile.

Sharon Ilstrup: There’s possibility there.

Susan Dunlop: Yes. But it takes the space in between doesn’t it? You’ve got to actually stop one. You can’t be doing one can you, as well as doing the other, what do you think?

Sharon Ilstrup: I don’t think you can do it at the same time. I think there’s some work in the first shift, like really what’s most important to me? And then we can start going okay now that I understand where I want to go and life is throwing things at me, that outside in, we aren’t so quick to react. The Power of TED*, The Empowerment Dynamic, we’re able to really go, okay, is this in alignment with my outcome? What can I learn from this that I just got hit with? Right. So we’re less reactive. So, yeah, you’re right, I think we do have to do the first one.

Susan Dunlop: When you’re doing this work, you’ve got to understand where you are and not beat yourself up for it that you might be in that rat wheel or spin. It’s okay. Even just to be curious about it and I love curiosity, like my God, it’s so good that you can just go, Ooh, let’s explore that. Let’s accept it and acknowledge it and then where can I take it because I’ve got another choice then. You can actually come up with something else to do, can’t you?

Sharon Ilstrup: Absolutely. It all starts with awareness. Everything, all the classes from all the spiritual leaders and all the neuroscientists and all the things have always said, it’s all about awareness and so most people are not aware. They’re just shoving down, shoving down, carrying on. The news, the news, the news, too much online, right. Too much social media. And they just are in massive stress and what we call in the world of psychology is our window of tolerance is very small.

We can’t take that much on because we’re either in hyper arousal or hypo arousal. So we have emotional overwhelm and chaos, which we’re not effective in, but a lot of humans are in, and they don’t even realize it. Or we are like not motivated, we’re underwhelmed, I don’t want to get out of bed. I don’t want to do my job. It’s the self-regulation. Can I self-regulate myself back into this window of tolerance? So then I can widen it and take on more of these hits, that life throws my way. And we can self-regulate by working with a coach or working with a therapist or going out in nature, doing a yoga class, breathing, breathing is a good one.

Susan Dunlop: So I’m going to shift gears into a little bit more about you. So what fills you up outside of you delivering your craft?

Sharon Ilstrup: Mm, reading about my craft, classes, lots of research. Eh, I don’t know if I’m going to say, well, I am going to say this. It’s interesting because right now I’m learning to become a death doula because I was with both of my parents when they passed, I held their hand, it was at different times, different years, and it was such a beautiful and sad but joyous experience. And so I’m fascinated by, not by death….

Susan Dunlop: Hello, we’re back from a quick break. Sharon’s audio just went totally dead. Oh, which is interesting because we were talking about her idea of becoming a death doula. I find that interesting because I was present when my own father died as well and it was the most beautiful experience to be there that night with him. So we’re going to get back to Sharon and Sharon’s going to talk about looking at becoming a death doula. So let’s talk about that for a moment.

Sharon Ilstrup: Yeah, kind of fascinating. The ghost of my mother or father just went, Nope, I’m going to shut down your audio. I love that. That was a beautiful. I was saying, I was with both of my parents when they passed and holding their hand and there was some crazy cool things that happened. It was magical and amazing. And there’s so much more that we don’t know. And so I’m really fascinated by death, not in a weird way, but in like it’s part of living.

I follow the Buddhist philosophy and a little bit of the Tibetan Buddhism and Pema Chodron is someone that I follow around the Bardo when she talks about death and what happens and it’s fascinating to me. And so I really want to, at some point really become a death doula in a practice so that I can be with people who maybe don’t have someone, or be with people as they pass, who have family members that are really scared.

Susan Dunlop: Hmm all you’re doing a saying it’s safe for you to leave now and just let them know that they have got someone holding their hand or stroking their brow, it’s such a beautiful thing to be a part of.

Sharon Ilstrup: I absolutely love it. I love Pema. I love learning about it. I love the things that we find out that they have been able to, like hospice nurses, they can tell that people who pass are still with us up to 49 days. I don’t know how they figure that out, but up to 49 days. So be careful with their belongings and what you give away during that time, and really honor them and talk to them. Especially after they just passed away while you’re still with the body.

There’s so much I’m fascinated with, and that fills me up, to answer your question. Yeah, it’s fascinating, and it’s something we’re all going to face at some point and we don’t know when. The more you embrace that, the happier your life today will be. It’s not about living like today was your last day on earth. I can’t really do that. Because I think I would just go lay around all day, like why bother? But, I do think that embracing that as part of our cycle is really critical to our happiness today and we tend to deny it in our culture.

Susan Dunlop: Wow, what an the amazing thing to be able to get to do, and that is something of interest to you. Anyway. I think that’s lovely. And you hike, I know that…

Sharon Ilstrup: I hike and I paddleboard, I love racing. I used to race paddleboards. It’s crazy stuff, but fun. Plus being with my family. I have a son in New York and so I’m out there quite often. Yeah. I’m happy. It’s a good life.

Susan Dunlop: Did you ever embrace travel before COVID took us down?

Sharon Ilstrup: Um, oh yeah, very much so. Very much so. I’ve always loved traveling, but it was more so when my kids got older, cause it was really hard when they were young. We have this vision of what it will be like, and it’s not. So yes, travel a lot. Italy is one of our favorites. Mostly local though, in the US and now New York. I love New York, California, whatever. It’s just fun. Costa Rica, Baja.

Susan Dunlop: It’s exciting it’s all opening back up again isn’t it? The reality is we can travel.

Sharon Ilstrup: Yes. Although everyone is travelling now. So it’s a little bit of a zoo.

Susan Dunlop: Might give it a break for a moment. Do you have any passion projects or vision that you’re working towards? I was thinking, when we talk about what we do in terms of The 3 Vital Questions, it’s about our outcomes, our vision, and all of that. And I do a lot in coaching around the yumminess of a magnificent vision, but underneath the magnificent vision, usually it’s come from something. It means something to you. I know you’ve said you liked the idea originally of becoming a motivational speaker, you thought about becoming a coach. What is it you are wanting to do, and what is beneath it, that’s making you do that?

Sharon Ilstrup: Well, I love, love, love, love, love my clients and I love what I do. There are a couple of things that are pulling at me and I’m kind of turning the other way cause I’m like, but, but I have all this work. Um, I have all these clients, but there are two things that are pulling at me. I would love to take this work that we’re doing with The 3 Vital Questions and take it to a larger audience versus the one-on-one. So doing more workshop facilitation, because I think it’s life-changing.

I also think, and I tell all my clients this, when I teach them that it should be mandatory in college, like freshman year. And if you aren’t in college, learn it as a high schooler, right. It’s such powerful work. And I started to think in those ways and then my daughter had something traumatic happen to a friend and her friend lost her life. To suicide. It was traumatic on many levels. And I won’t go into that, but it’s just traumatic on many levels and it was far reaching, the effect this had on people like my daughter and me and people that didn’t even know this beautiful child.

I felt, and this just happened last September, that’s pulling me to take this work now into younger people. I work with college grads. They love this work. I work with leaders at Microsoft too, and they love this work. I really want to take this work into even younger people. So that is like a dream and a vision that I have to really help support, teach, educate, and coach young people, not just women, young men as well, so that they understand these three different roles that we play when we feel uncomfortable with our feelings. Okay. And how to shift out of that, how to accept it and be aware of it and see the wisdom and the gift in it and how to shift out of that. I mean, that will save lives.

Susan Dunlop: It’s prevention, isn’t it, versus, I won’t use the swear word, but I always have a laugh with Tom and say, you know, you don’t want to get to the stage of being 50 and f*#ked! I’m like, don’t go there, sort it out earlier, like don’t spend all your life then trying to repair what you didn’t sort out early on. If you can bring that to that space, where they’re young, that’d be so wonderful.

Sharon Ilstrup: Yeah, absolutely. And there’s gotta be a way to bring this even to younger children in a simplified, at their level, way on games and materials, shells, and I don’t know, just a fun drawing exercise, or coloring with color crayons and there’s gotta be a way so that they can understand what it is they’re feeling.

Susan Dunlop: I’ve got a nine-year-old nephew who stayed up here recently at Easter and he came into my office one day. I was doing some graphics up on the screen and he was giving me his marketing advice about what I should do or shouldn’t do. I showed him, he could see I had the drama triangle and the empowerment dynamic triangle beside each other. And I had some of the descriptives and I went around the drama triangle with him. He just went, ‘oh yeah, I do that victim thing to mum. Yeah, I do that all the time. Oh. But it could be kind of creator, couldn’t I, I could spend more time doing that.‘ I just went, oh, bless you. They’re so sweet.

Sharon Ilstrup: Yeah, they do get it. It’s so much harder later as we have all these patterns and these habits that we’ve created.

Susan Dunlop: Yeah. And denial, wanting to deny that we have got these patterns. It’s okay. You’ve got to accept that you’ve done it for a reason. They’re there. They’ve come about historically or whatever. It’s okay to say, you know what, but tomorrow’s a new day and it’s OK.

Sharon Ilstrup: Right, and it’s about feel the feelings. I hear sometimes neighbors tell their kids that are screaming and crying and pain and they’re bleeding on their knees. You’re fine. You’re fine. I’m like, no, they’re clearly not fine, but I don’t go there because it’s not my child. I just want to take them at some point and say, I have something to teach you..

Susan Dunlop: Or maybe your energy will do enough in the street anyway, so that’d be good. Sharon, what’s one thing people you work with wouldn’t guess about?

Sharon Ilstrup: Oh, wow. Wow. I’m pretty transparent. What you see is what you get? Oh, okay. You know how I was talking about how I met some really cool people working in the hospitality industry in the hotel. I had an elevator ride with Sean Connery. I met Meg Ryan. I think I told you this part I dated Dolly Parton’s drummer and had margaritas with Dolly. When she was here in Washington State and she asked me all about my life. She was amazing, she acted like I was her best friend, because she was with all of her groupie, roadie people, and she’s with them all the time.

And here’s this new young person she wanted to know all about me. I fell in love with her that night. Still love her. She’s an amazing human being. So cool. I don’t talk about that with my clients.

Susan Dunlop: So we’re wrapping up now. What’s your favorite sing out loud in the car song?

Sharon Ilstrup: Anything by Journey. Anything by Queen. Def Leppard. I really love rock. So I guess I would have to say Bohemian Rhapsody, that is like greatest song to sing along to, so I’m just going to leave it at that.

Susan Dunlop: Okay. We’ll go with that one. All right. And your go to mantra or affirmation that gets you through a challenge?

Sharon Ilstrup: Ooh. That gets me through a challenge? Most of the challenges I might have are around communication with my adult children and sometimes my adult husband, and I love to say, and my clients love this to, Do I want to connect or be correct? Do I want to be right and prove my point. Or do I want to connect, take this moment to connect, connect or be correct? And then of course breathe. Just, don’t forget to breathe. Deep breaths through the nose.

Susan Dunlop: Sharon, you are a true gem of a woman, a co-creator and a coach. I feel very blessed to have had this conversation with you as we have all our other amazing conversations where we’re finding out so much about each other. So really thank you so much for coming on today.

Sharon Ilstrup: What a gift, thank you.

Susan Dunlop: Listeners, there may be some sound quality issues in there. I apologize, that happens, between us having that little break in the middle there, and I did have a truck at the never-ending construction site across the road from my home, but I hope the sound is okay for you.

As this episode has two small soundtracks from Spotify it is only available on Spotify.

I have listed out the questions that Sharon and I just walked through below and you’re more than welcome to use them as a journaling exercise for yourself.

I’m forever grateful for people like Sharon and the other beautiful guests I’ve had on to allow me to understand them more, to share their stories and just quite often breathe or laugh through the technical glitches that happen.

The podcast is ever-evolving so if you would like to join me as a guest to talk about your magnificent visions or how you’re changing lives, please reach out and chat.

If you’re baulking at the idea of having a magnificent vision, I can only say I look at my one-page vision at least every Monday in my prep for the week. And sometimes I have to go back to it just to put myself back on track because they’re not just magnificent, they have energy, for when you might not.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out and I can guide you through the process of documenting your magnificent vision and the first few steps to take towards making it become your reality.

I’m currently chatting with the next guest, who is going to be from Australian soil and we’ll be deciding a time to record that. She’s doing some amazing thing with young adults, with ADHD, and life skills. I found that quite intriguing to learn of this week.

Trust that you are blessed, even when you forget that you’re blessed and take care of yourself.

Thank you everyone,


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