Too many of us grew up only seeing one kind of boss or leader in the media. The lack of representation for other groups reinforced harmful stereotypes and acted as a self-fulfilling prophesy, but would our opinion of what a leader looks like be different if the media did a better job at representing the true diversity of leadership in America?
Women and other under-represented groups are already leading many great companies, organizations, & academic institutions; others are authoring best-sellers, building engaged audiences, leading movements and more.
We had the honor of connecting with many of the best and brightest female leaders from in and around the city and we asked them our question of the month: What is the best advice you have for someone who feels like they are facing insurmountable odds.
We encourage you to check out the female leaders we’ve highlighted below, follow them on social media if you find their work or story interesting and most importantly do your part to #fightstereotypes.
Heather Garbo | Writer | Localist & Creator of Denver Dweller Blog
When I face an overwhelming challenge, I find two things really help. They may seem opposite at first, but they are very much complementary. The first is to get your body moving. We feel mentally strong when we feel physically strong. And when I’m slacking on physical activity, my energy level for work is down too. But, go to a yoga class or the gym or hop on your bike, and you’ll feel like you can take on the world. Second, look to your intuition. I’ve always been able to find greater perspective by getting quiet and still and shutting down outside distractions. I know many people who meditate to achieve this but for me, it’s always meant journaling. If I can shut the outside world out and dedicate some time to writing, I never fail to write my way to some clarity, whether that’s the starting point for a new project, a solution to a seemingly insurmountable obstacle, or just identifying the first step in the right direction. I think we all have the answers inside us if we just get quiet enough to listen.
Jenn Edgar | Health Coach & Body Confidence Model
It’s easy to become overwhelmed and consumed by the challenges that we face throughout our lives. When I find myself facing a challenge, I try to stop and look at is as an opportunity–what can I learn from this? How will I be stronger from it? How will I become a better person from it? I am a strong believer that the universe only gives us what we can handle at the right time in our lives. It’s easy to say this, but I do believe it. Once I can start to see the opportunity within the challenge, it shifts my focus to the positive, and I see it as a positive challenge that I can overcome and grow from. It doesn’t happen instantly, or overnight…sometimes it takes a few days or longer. When we choose to see the positive in these moments, our perspective shifts, and we see that we can indeed surmount the challenges that come our way.
Juliana Broste | Travel Video Journalist at TravelingJules Productions
Go for it! You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. Don’t get comfortable, take chances. Step outside of your comfort zone, you’ll find big rewards.
One of my best and worst qualities is persistence. Focus on what you want, and take steps in that direction. Don’t quit until you get it. Every inch is forward progress. Eventually, you will gain momentum and before you know it, you’ll be at your destination. And once you get there, take a moment to take it all in. Congratulate yourself for making it happen. You got this!
Rebecca Goode | boutique owner & mother
Honestly, my best advice and what has worked for me is to relax, stay grounded and take it one day at a time. I love to make lists and seeing the steps written out in front of me and out of my head always help me feel calmer & focused. Also, meditation has gotten me through some major hard times. Taking time to calm the mind, and be positive is so important. I really believe in the power of the law of attraction & keeping a strong, positive outlook! Never say I can’t. What do they say?? ‘fake it til you make it’!
Monika Oginski Blanchard | Creator of FABOO
Stay positive and feed yourself with good thoughts ;go into peaceful nature which is very soothing.
Visualize and TRUST in the Best outcome for yourself !
Crystal Chavez | Salon owner | master stylist, & national color educator for John Paul Mitchell Systems
My advice is remember why you choose to take this challenge on. Look to your mentors for confidence building. And surround yourself with positive people who have similar dreams and goals. Don’t ever give up! Reaching the summit is the most rewarding experience in life!!
Codie Collins | Photographer
When I face a challenge that seems insurmountable, I take a deep breath and remember it’s only unachievable if I let it be. You don’t start a marathon and fly to the finish line. I start breaking down the challenge and attack it one step at a time. Some steps are harder than others, but before you know it, you’ve crossed your finish line. You are the only one that limits your potential!
Erza Bloom | Creative Entrepreneur | Business Owner
The late Maya Angelou once said “I can be changed by what happens to me, but I refuse to be reduced by it.” The greatest power we posses is the belief within ourselves. At times obstacles may seem far to great to overcome however, we possess the power within to motivate ourselves in pushing forward knowing whatever challenge we face will be met with a heart full of resolve.
Be confident in your approach, face the challenge with an adaptable mind, and understand no matter the outcome – are you satisfied with the effort you put forth?
Liv Walker | Business Student & Model
Speaking from the experiences I had as model, living in NYC, and traveling abroad for work, I had to develop a specific skill set to deal with challenges I had little to no control over. From fashion weeks to extended stays in major markets, I was tasked with putting myself in front of clients. Especially during casting for fashion week shows, the grind of running around a city, walking for casting directors, and waiting to hear if I’d been rejected or hired was especially daunting. Sometimes such a downer and other times exhilarating, the emotional load was difficult to deal with. I’m lucky to have had an amazing support system in my mom and dad, who gave me some amazing thoughts to use when facing a challenge or problem: deconstructing, problem solving, and compartmentalizing are my best friends when it comes to facing a doubt or challenge. I have the tendency to let worries oppress me by making the problem seem really big and oppressive. By acknowledging my thinking is distorted, understanding the problem, coming up with a short-term solution, and compartmentalizing parts I can’t control, I’ve learned to have faith a solution will tease itself out. Finally, after all the mental gymnastics, if the problem still seems insurmountable, use common sense and move on. As a model, whose livelihood was dependent on other people’s decisions, I got to the point that I wanted control over my future. That’s when I realized it was time for me to try something different. I’m really enjoying my freshman year at the Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado.
Kendell Green | Actress and Social Curator
The best advice I can give to someone who feels they are stuck in a challenging part of life is to always remember that things will get better. In the moment, this feels nearly impossible, so do write it on a sticky note and slap that onto your bathroom mirror, your dashboard, wherever you’ll see it and at the very least get the subconscious reminder.
Also, don’t ever be afraid to ask for help or advice if you need it. I can promise that you are never alone. Even when you feel like no one is there for you or that no one can relate to what you are going through, there is always someone. Counseling helped me get through some of the hardest times I have experienced when I genuinely felt that there was no one in my life I could turn to. There is absolutely no shame in seeking out a counselor or therapist when you feel that you have no one to turn to. In fact, it might be one of the best decisions you make.
Above all else, take time to love yourself. If it’s as little as grabbing your favorite pastry and enjoying each bite, or taking yourself for a full-on spa day. Self-love is SO important and so underrated. You might be surprised at how much brain space you can free up with self-love. Brain space that can then be used to logically and sanely be used to tackle any challenge life might throw at you.
Jenny Seidel | Custom and Bespoke Jewelry Designer
I think the best way to tackle a huge challenge it is to subdivide. Break it down into smaller chunks, more manageable goals that build all the pieces of the puzzle. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with the bigger picture and you can’t do everything all at once- you have to break it down and once you keep working at these smaller goals, those smaller goals add up to your bigger goal and before you know you’re on your way towards conquering it. And it’s also helpful to remember that nothing great happens overnight, working towards big goals takes time, months, even years, so be gentle with yourself and stay steady in working towards those smaller achievements along your journey.
Lucy A. Sroka | Self-Taught Tattoo Artist
Basic but severely overlooked is the role that self-care plays in challenging situations we face.
Make sure all of your basic needs are met-
Ask yourself, “Am I tired? Hungry? Dehydrated?”
Take a nap, eat something, drink some water.
Everything feels a bit more overwhelming on four hours of sleep and an empty stomach.
Once you’ve taken care of yourself, break it down into steps- what is the first step towards your goal or the first step towards solving the situation? Broken down into steps, everything feels a little easier.
And finally- ask for help if you need it. There is no shame in reaching out. The more you reach out, the more you will realize what an amazing community is behind you.
Kim Ribbens | Calligrapher + Signage Artist
When I have faced challenges in my life that overwhelm me, it has always helped to break things down into manageable categories.
Either mentally or on paper, I work backwards from finish to start.
‘What are the end results I want? What specific things will need to happen to achieve those results? What smaller goals will I need to reach to get those things?’ And so on, until I have a few items I can work on immediately.
Having just a few tasks to achieve on a checklist makes it feel much easier to get started on something that might otherwise seem “too big.
Julia Remnant | Owner of Peony Bakery
I think I would tell them that “You can do anything you set your mind to”. This phrase says a lot. For one, it has an element of setting your mind to do something. You have to have the ability to see the bigger picture and not lose sight of it. Secondly, it has an element of doing something- you actually have to take action! You can’t just sit around and wait for your challenges to miraculously resolve themselves. It’s all about finding a way to break down the challenge into easy-to-manage chunks, and tackle each of those one at a time. Both of those combined, not losing sight of the goal and breaking down into manageable tasks, will help you overcome the challenge bit by bit. And lastly, I would say “I believe in you”. Sometimes all we need is a little encouragement and support.
Kristen Harris | Graphic Designer & Artist
For big challenges and problems, I always try to break it down into smaller goals. Taking things one day at a time, or one check mark at a time is a way to see your progress. You know you’re working towards the overall goal without feeling overwhelmed by the big picture. Making these smaller goals for yourself can also be a way to celebrate the journey towards your goal and/or challenge! Be excited and proud about what you are accomplishing, and the bigger pieces will fall into place.
Meghan Yager | food writer & photographer
When it comes to facing insurmountable challenges, sometimes all you need is a change of perspective. To me, these types of challenges can seem like a giant wall that you can’t scale. The climb is too steep, the rock is too smooth, you can’t find a place to grip. But you CAN start carving out your own steps. Every challenge we face can be broken down into steps that bring us closer to getting past it. Every time you experience a win or take a step, even if it’s seemingly small, CELEBRATE IT. The less you think about how overwhelming everything is, the more you’ll see just how far you’ve come and how capable you truly are. It’s what gives me a boost in my step when I feel completely stuck! If you’re having trouble making that shift in your brain, sit down and write out your top 10 successes in life. There were challenges facing you then, weren’t there? You overcame them, didn’t you? See? You’re more powerful than you think.
Kim Zimmerman (she/her) | Floral Designer & Urban Flower Farmer
As a former therapist I’ve witnessed many people facing challenges that feel completely overwhelming. What has helped me the most and what I tried to help others do is break this giant challenge down into the smallest steps possible – steps that feel almost silly because they’re so small. And then commit to completing these tiny steps, one by one, bit by bit and at your own pace. Maybe you start with just getting out of bed after the first snooze button instead of the third. Maybe it means you spend exactly 5 minutes allowing yourself to worry about the job, the relationship, the whatever-it-is. If you break it apart into the tiniest bits and commit to digesting those, eventually you’ll find yourself on the other side of this mountain. It certainly may not be easy, but worthwhile challenges never are.
Laura Orozco of Laura Orozco Photography | Life Photographer
Dig deep! At many times in my career I felt like I was facing insurmountable challenges. Like when I was a 22-year-old pharmaceutical rep trying to tell well-seasoned doctors how and when to prescribe medicine. Or when I was a young defense attorney representing doctors and hospitals in medical malpractice lawsuits, arguing cases against attorneys with 20 years of experience. I felt so small and unworthy, no matter how much I prepared! I had a giant case of imposter syndrome. Now I am approaching 40, and I realize that, when you put things in perspective, nothing worth doing is insurmountable. Sometimes it takes prioritization. Sometimes it takes a great big deep breath. Sometimes it takes reaching out to a mentor or a trusted advisor or best friend. Sometimes, and most often for me, it means first reaching out to God to pray for strength guidance to get me through the task at hand, whether personal or professional. Find your light and chase it to the end of the tunnel. You can do it!
Rachel Heckel | Fitness Instructor
Life throws us a lot of curve balls, but none that we can’t handle. The more difficult the challenge, the more we grow. When we are put in situations that seem unattainable, it’s important to know that it’s okay to fail. It’s also a great opportunity to prove to ourselves that we are strong, we are worthy, and we are capable. The best way to face these challenges is head on. Ignore the doubts and second thoughts and allow yourself to be great.
Jailyn Jenkins | Educator | Advocate, & Lover of Life
The best advice I could give to someone facing an insurmountable challenge is to remember the 3 B’s: Build, Breathe, and Balance. In life, challenges are inevitable, and some seem impossible to conquer; however, in implementing the 3 B’s, it makes the journey to victory more do-able. From what I have learned in 24 years of life and 5 years in education, the secret to success is lies in building genuine relationships with a plethora of people, making time each day to breathe/unwind, and maintaining a healthy balance between stress and drive/optimism. Challenges exist to spark growth, so when we face them, we must lean on the fact that “this too, shall pass” and continue to FIGHT for victory, and ultimately…a better you! Don’t give up! There’s a reason behind everything…trust the process!
Elle Dice | Entrepreneur | Health Coach & Traveler
Your mindset is everything! If you are doubting yourself and your capabilities to do something in life right now, you are NEVER going to get where you want to be in the future. Start believing in yourself and start taking chances, regardless if nobody else believes in you-because you know what? There’s only one person you have to go to sleep with every night and that’s YOU. Are you happy with your life? Or do you want something more? What dreams do you have? I have had to shift my thinking from “there’s no way I can do that” to “I am going to make this happen no matter what.”… 9 months later here I am, traveling the world and working from my dream destinations because I took a leap of faith and bet on myself so that I could start living the life of my dreams. Start believing in yourself girl, I know you can do this too.
Heather Taft | Fashion Stylist
Throughout life, we will always come across something that seems too great to overcome. How do we get through these obstacles? I’d have to say the simple words, this too shall pass. All we can do is give it our best genuine shot and as long as we do that, how can one be unsatisfied with themselves? If it goes in your favor, it’s an amazing feeling of accomplishment and your so proud; if it does not work out…guess what, this too shall pass. Something else is waiting for you in your path. You have to trust your journey, even if it doesn’t make sense at the moment.
Chelsea Brinkley | Travel Planner & Blogger
First, just breathe. It’s easy to get anxious and overwhelmed when something seems impossible but remember that you really can do anything. Don’t doubt yourself. Next, do a “brain dump” where you list out absolutely everything on your mind that would need to happen for this challenge to be conquered. Then, order that list from the first thing that needs to be accomplished to the very last. And finally, take it one baby step at a time working your way through that list.
Lisa Ochoa | lash artist | business owner, and mom
Everyone faces something that they think in that moment is insurmountable in life. I would say when I encounter a situation like this I look at everything I have faced and overcome already. When I look at what I have accomplished it’s usually more than I ever thought I could have and that I’m stronger than I ever knew I could be. It’s not always easy and I’ve had to work hard to be where I am, but we as women are strong and if we work hard we can overcome any obstacle.
Miss Jae | Social Media Influencer & Confidence Coach
Everyone finds a challenge that seems to be too hard to overcome. I have felt like that way too often. “You were put in this life, because you were strong enough to live it.” I think about that quote when things start to get tough. I know that times are gonna get tough but I know that I have been able to get through every challenge and I can get through any challenge that comes my way. I smile every day and I stay really positive throughout my days. Wallowing and being upset about the challenges that come my way isn’t going to help me overcome the challenge. I step up and think of plans I can take to overcome that challenge. When one plan doesn’t work, I don’t give up, I take a step back and follow a new plan.
Kriss Delacerda | Nutrition and Fitness Coach
We always have the opportunity to surprise ourselves, and there is no better feeling in the world. If we can understand that it all starts with having pure belief in our abilities, there is no feat we can’t achieve. My best advice is to start with small steps, don’t look up the mountain, look one, two steps in front of you. Write down your goal. Make it specific and make sure you give yourself a realistic time frame – and then write down actions you will take, step by step. Focus on that, and keep going. Before you know it, you’ll be able to look down from the top and appreciate all the hard work you’ve put into reaching your goals. The time will pass anyway, why not show yourself what you’re made of.
Danielle Webster, AKA the Electric Lady | Photographer & DJ
The feeling of a challenge that seems insurmountable is only a feeling. We let fear, or money, or ego get in the way. If there’s something you really want in your life you can make it happen. Asking for help is also a big lesson in life. Don’t be afraid to ask for help once you figure out what you want.
Jesi Josten | Creator & Owner
I have SO been there with insurmountable challenges! I feel like the best advice anyone ever gave me is to take one tiny step at a time. There is always somewhere you can start – make a list and just concentrate on one step at a time. Then take a breather and look at what the next logical step is. I think looking at the whole picture can often be the most overwhelming part, but if you look at each step, and cross them off as you go, you’ll move forward no matter what!
Kiera Queen | Chief Clinical Lead Orthodontic Assistant and Scentsy Consultant
I would tell them that the situation might feel hard right now and that it may feel like the end of the world but that I promise a year from now they will be able to sit back and laugh at the situation. They will look back and feel proud of themselves for being strong and chugging through. All projects and life lessons take time and effort, nothing comes easy. Blare some music, sing really loud, and force a smile on your face to remember what you are working towards. Always keep your head up and mind focused on the end goal.
Regina Foster | enthusiast Food Photographer and Traveler
One of my favorite quotes that I’ve ever heard about challenging yourself is “Just Do It”. I mean, it might not that easy but when facing with some challenging situations in your life which are getting you out of your comfort zone it is always a big step forward. Sometimes we fail, but we’ll never know until we try. So, don’t be scared ever and go for it!