Who is Tracy Lawrence?
Tracy is an entrepreneur, a coach to other entrepreneurs and executives, and a certified psychedelic integration coach with expertise in somatic practices and inner parts work. Through private, co-founder, and group coaching, Tracy supports leaders’ efforts to maintain their mental health as they scale their companies to help the world.
Before becoming a coach, Tracy co-founded and was CEO of Chewse, a San Francisco-based venture-backed technology company. Over a decade, she raised $40M, grew the company to 300 employees in 5 markets, and successfully sold the company in 2020. She was also included in Forbes 30 Under 30 and is a Young Presidents Organization (YPO) member.
Her journey as a first-time founder was challenging, marked by frequent fundraising rejections, layoffs, and personal struggles with depression, burnout, and imposter syndrome. These experiences taught her the importance of setting boundaries, fostering community, and prioritizing health.
Post-sale, Tracy took a six-month sabbatical for reflection and recovery, utilizing psychedelic integration and somatic therapy to heal from the rigors of founding a company. Her new goal is to impart these lessons to other entrepreneurs, ensuring they have the support and guidance she wished she had.
What are her core ideas and contributions?
<her beliefs to incorporate>
We are one system: unless past wounds are healed, your trauma is present in your work.
Traumatized leaders build traumatizing cultures
While you may not have been responsible for causing your trauma, you are responsible for healing it.
We don't kill trauma or negative feelings, we welcome and integrate them.
While the brain thinks, the heart knows. Using both makes you powerful.
<her beliefs to incorporate>
Balancing Work Expectations to Avoid Burnout
Tracy advocates for founders to maintain a healthy psychological work contract. What she means by that is that burnout stems not just from long hours, but also from unfulfilled work expectations. From her own experience as an entrepreneur and CEO, she learned it was essential to create a personal work contract to balance her expectations and contributions. I emphasize the need for emotional honesty, regular re-evaluation, and incorporating financial expectations in this contract. This approach is crucial for preventing burnout and keeping motivation high.
As an example, Tracy developed the following contract between herself and her work:
- Salary enough that she can save each month towards a house and have enough to do a 5 trips a year
- Sense of purpose, that she is actually helping others move forward in their business, make space in their lives, and see the larger pictures
- Self-expansion, that the topics she is learning about or that her founders bring her are causing her to reflect, grow (even if uncomfortable), and ultimately expand her resilience and views of the world
- Flexibility to surf in the afternoons and not have to work into the evening
- 1 flex week a month without meetings where she can dedicate to research, content, or travel
Unfreezing Emotional Numbness
When you’ve been through long periods of stress and you don’t have space to process the emotions, one way your body adapts is to numb out the pain. It’s the body’s way of finding a strategy to continue to move forward. Tracy highlights strategies to overcome emotional numbness:
- Create Space for Emotions: Allow time for processing intense emotions during release work, dedicating a few hours or a day to this process.
- Identify Physical Numbness: Notice where your body feels frozen or energy is trapped; use deep breathing to locate physical numbness.
- Honor the Numbness: Acknowledge and thank the numbness for its protective role, rather than resisting it.
- Validate Emerging Feelings: When numbness lifts, offer love and validation to feelings like grief or anxiety.
- Be Patient: Healing is not instantaneous; consistent love and understanding are crucial for healing.
- Seek Professional Support: For unprocessed trauma or grief, consider working with a therapist or a coach.
Harnessing Heart Coherence for Mindful Leadership
Tracy believes in the power of heart-based leadership and the science supporting it. Recent research shows the heart's unique neural capabilities and its significant magnetic field, emphasizing the heart's influence on the brain. The concept of heart coherence demonstrates how it heart-centered leadership enhances cognitive and social performance, and can be achieved through relaxation and positive emotions.
How might I apply her ideas to myself?
Applying Tracy Lawrence's key beliefs as a leader involves embracing a holistic approach to work-life balance, emotional well-being, and mindful leadership. To avoid burnout, you can create a personal work contract that outlines your expectations and contributions, balancing professional goals with personal well-being, as opposed to fully sacrificing all non-work-related aspects of your life. This could include setting clear salary goals, purpose alignment, learning opportunities, flexibility, and dedicated time for personal interests.
For emotional numbness, it's crucial to allow yourself time to process emotions, identify and honor physical numbness, and validate emerging feelings with patience and self-love. Seeking professional support for deeper issues can be beneficial. When you do, seek out professional support not only for top-down modalities (e.g. talk therapy) but also buttoms-up tools (i.e. body-based therapies).
In mindful leadership, embracing heart coherence involves recognizing the heart's influence on the brain and enhancing leadership through relaxation and positive emotions. Applying this in a leadership role could mean integrating heart coherence practices in meetings and client interactions, fostering deeper connections and improved team dynamics.
Writing, Interviews, Research, and Lectures