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Q&A with Laura Noel

Exclusive Trusted Magazine Q&A with Laura Noel, Leadership Mindest Expert

How could you describe your career path in few words?

My career path began with my service in the Air Force as an enlisted Airman, where I operated radar scopes during desert shield/desert storm. Through this experience, I embraced core values such as Integrity First, Service Before Self, and Excellence in all We Do. I became aware that performing music was a possibility in the military, so I auditioned for and traveled the world as a vocalist and eventually Band Manager with Tops In Blue and the Air Force Band. As I progressed in my career and traveled the world engaging with military leaders and communities, I saw first-hand how music connects people when working towards collaborative efforts, common goals, and peace. Progressing rapidly through the ranks to Chief Master Sergeant (E7-E9), I eventually served as the Commandant of a Professional Military Education Center in Hawaii. This institution provided college credit and equipped supervisors with essential leadership skills to become more impactful leaders of self and others.

Alongside my military journey, I pursued diverse interests, studying yoga philosophy and being mentored by the late Bob Proctor, a renowned figure in personal development; all of these teachings and experiences informed my practice as I retired from the Air Force and transitioned into my role as an organizational development psychologist and leadership coach. I combine my career experiences, mentorship, and knowledge of neuroscience and psychology to support individuals and teams to work more collaboratively and be more effective in less time.

Concurrently, I am pursuing a PsyD in Leadership/Neuroscience from William James College. I am a podcast host, keynote speaker, and author.

What was your most challenging experience, and it has changed your mindset?

My most challenging experience was when I reached the pinnacle of my career and leadership in my organization and was faced with burnout. I was juggling numerous responsibilities, including attending grad school and caring for my terminally ill father, all while maintaining an active and visible role as a leader. I had this personal turmoil going on in my life, and I didn't let anyone know. I took the core value of "Service Before Self" and weaponized it against myself; I even wore it as a badge of honor! However, despite appearing successful and respected on the outside, I felt miserable and lonely. I constantly pushed myself to achieve more, believing that reaching the next milestone would bring me happiness. I was always on the go, participating in marathons, figure competitions, and other high-intensity activities, neglecting my well-being, abusing myself at every angle, and feeling guilty for not feeling satisfied with my accomplishments; something was missing.

As I transitioned out of the military and into entrepreneurship to pursue my passion for coaching and helping others find alignment and fulfillment in their lives, I found myself falling back into old patterns of burnout and overworking. I realized that this mindset wouldn't lead to the leap in results I desired.

Through the guidance of a mentor, I learned to shift my focus and embrace a counterintuitive approach. Instead of overwhelming myself with a high volume of work and sales calls, I deliberately chose to do less but become more effective in what I was doing. I accepted a fraction of the sales calls I had coming in, and I immediately felt the world's weight lift off my shoulders. This mental shift allowed me to regain my time and surpass my previous income within three months. In six months, I was working in my business full-time, and within 18 months, I quadrupled my income while working half the time. Most importantly, I have permitted myself to prioritize self-care and embrace my unique gifts. I now have more time to enjoy my relationships and be fully present in my personal life without sacrificing my business success.

When you get surprised by unusual or uncertain context, what do you think?

When I encounter an unusual or uncertain context that surprises me, my initial response is to mentally separate the problem or challenge from myself to approach the situation from a different perspective. Rather than letting circumstances dictate my thinking or emotions, I rely on my mental faculties, such as imagination, intuition, reasoning, memory, willpower, and perception.

In my book, "Rat Race Reboot," I delve extensively into this concept. By leaning on my mental faculties, I stay in charge of myself and lead my thinking and actions versus allowing the circumstance to lead me, potentially having me engage in knee-jerk reactions. I employ my imagination to envision different possibilities and solutions while tapping into my intuition to guide my decision-making process. I utilize reasoning to analyze the situation logically and perhaps draw upon my memory to recall past experiences or knowledge that might be relevant. I leverage my willpower to stay focused and determined while I rely on my perception to observe and understand the nuances of the context. Most importantly, when operating from this more positive headspace, I am also better positioned to bring in other people to gain from their perspectives.

Based on your experience, what's the key success factor for a female leader / manager?

Though working with other female leaders and battling my self-doubt and impostor syndrome, I learned that comparison can rob you blind of opportunities and growth. While serving in the Air Force, several mentors pushed me to take on highly prestigious and impactful roles; they saw something in me that I failed to see. Instead, I was comparing myself to my male counterparts in a field that was dominated by men. I saw them as the epitome of leadership, and I did not look or act like them, and as a result, I declined those opportunities. When I started working with a coach, I looked within myself for validation, which changed everything for me. I think it's crucial to embrace the realization that "I am enough."

Additionally, borrowing the belief that others have in us can be a powerful catalyst for growth and confidence as you build up your own beliefs around your worth and value as a leader. Learning to say "yes" to opportunities before you think you are ready allows for personal and professional growth. A wise mentor once said, "Quit getting ready; you are ready now ." We can always do more, be more prepared and learn more; get comfortable with taking imperfect action as we can learn from the struggle and mistakes along the way.

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