Lisa Doig is a pioneer in the field of values and consciousness, creating a leadership and facilitator development program (Facilitating Transformation through Values) based on how our values guide us on our journey from the ego to an integration of the ego with the Soul. Her unique contribution is bridging spiritual wisdom in an accessible and grounded way for business leaders.
She gained extensive experience in culture transformation and leadership development programs as an external facilitator for McKinsey & Company for over 10 years and later developing “Facilitators of Transformation” for the Firm and their clients. Previous to this she has 20 years business experience in the resources and environmental industries as a Marketing Consultant.
Lisa and I got to know each other in one of her trainings a couple of years ago. She invited me to be a coachee in a demonstration of her “Seeing the Perfection” coaching process, which led to a major transformational shift in how I am looking at myself and at the end she sparked my curiosity to dig deeper into transformation. Her consistency in seeing a growth opportunity in everything and everybody is very inspiring.
My conversation with Lisa is about the connection between transformation, values, fear and vulnerability. In complete openness she shares one of her own major transformational stories in which she beautifully demonstrates how one of her biggest upsets in life turned out to be her greatest learning gift. Enjoy the read!
Lisa, thank you for taking the time to talk to me, I have been really looking forward to this conversation. So, let’s just dive in.
What does transformation mean for you?
First of all, Kathrin, I want to thank you for inviting me onto your Blog and giving me the opportunity to share the Work more broadly.
For me, transformation is an awakening from an unconscious pattern. Through an experience, most often an “upset”, we become conscious of a limiting belief that is no longer serving us. In fact, when we have a transformation, usually a new value becomes important to us. Our consciousness expands, the way we see the world expands, and we can’t go back. In another sense, for us as individuals it’s like an unpeeling of the onion. At the core is our True Self.
I think the interesting question is, if most transformations start with an upset, who is creating the upset?
Can you share a story of your own in which you have experienced a fundamental transformational shift that contributes to who you are today?
Let me go back to an upset I had when I was 40. Here I am at the top of my game, really successful (in my own eyes), running a marketing consultancy, interviewing CEOs all over the country for an oil industry magazine where I was the publisher. I hire this woman to be responsible for the advertising sales. Over the next 6 months, she doesn’t meet the budget, she doesn’t action what I tell her to (yes ‘tell’ is what I was doing!), she’s failing in my view. My fear is that she would make my business fail. There are two values that she triggered in me. One was “success”, and the other one that was quite unconscious was “harmony”. With the latter value of harmony, I believed that if I spoke my truth to her, she would yell at me and then feared she would leave me. Which was a memory of my mother in childhood.
I never gave this woman, Malene, feedback but continued to feel disappointed. Part of this story was that I was a workaholic and perfectionist – success was my identity. On top of having to be perfect at everything, I was settling into a new country (Australia) where I didn’t know anyone and had two young children, and a husband who was focused on his work. My immune system was run-down as I kept getting the flu and never fully recovered. Get the picture?
After three bouts of pneumonia, the doctor called my husband and told him to get home. My whole body collapsed. As I couldn’t go back to work and worried about all these deadlines, I called Malene to ask her to take over some of the events in the business and she said, “well, that’s fine. I quit!” I was stunned. I remember thinking, “how could you do this to me?!” Just as I feared, she was abandoning me…. What I realized later, this was the story of my life.
At the time, I thought she ruined my life because I was so sick, I couldn’t work anymore. I couldn’t even look after my kids. I held that anger and resentment for two years. What I didn’t tell you was that Malene, was my husband’s best friend’s wife. And they had moved here to Australia from Denmark just to be with us!
So, let’s fast forward 2 years. I attended the “Relationship Weekend” that my husband’s company (Woodside Energy) had organized as McKinsey’s first pilot of integrating personal transformation with organizational transformation. Gita Bellin was the teacher.
There I was sitting in the front row, when Gita told her own transformational story with her father where she realized he had always loved her. She drew on the chart, “so can you see how every UPSET, if you reframe the words, is actually… a SET UP for your own growth?” Something happened within me in that moment, which was not coming from the rational mind. I realized in that very moment that my upset with Malene hadn’t ruined my life. Because of her, I had broken down and finally spoke my truth to my husband that I wasn’t happy and we had to make changes. Because of her I saw who my real friends were. Because of her, I started making different choices about not pleasing everyone else and asking myself what I wanted. In that moment of Upset = Setup, I realized, instead of the thought “how you could ruin my life?!”, the new awareness came through that, she had saved my life! She had woken me up. Literally my whole life changed in that moment. My whole reality changed. I felt this overwhelming gratitude.
This wasn’t the end of the story. Synchronistically, after the workshop, only a few weeks later, guess who turns up at a workshop I was attending? Yes Malene! I shared my insight with her, and we reconnected. A few months later, she came over with her husband. They had just come from the doctor. She been diagnosed with ‘Motor Neurone Disease’ or ALS – the disease that Stephen Hawking had. She was 38, had 3 kids and had been given 18 months to live.
As I was in the middle of being trained as a transformational facilitator with Gita, Malene asked me, “can you come and teach me everything you’re learning about how to transform?” I was so touched! Who would have thought? “Of course,” I said. I visited her every week to teach her the spiritual concepts we were learning in the program. I thought she had ruined my life and then I realized she saved my life. And here now she is asking me to help her make new meaning to her very survival. My husband and I visited them every weekend as we saw her lose all bodily movement over 8 years. At the end she could only blink to communicate, but she was still sharp in the mind. What an incredible gift she gave me and even today, she gives the world, as I share this story in our courses.
This is why I truly believe that our biggest upsets in our life, are our biggest gifts. Many people have someone in their life from whom they are cut off. And when I tell this story, I know that I am touching people who also have people and stories in their lives where they find it too hard to forgive. This transformational methodology, I feel, moves beyond forgiveness, to gratitude, to seeing the perfection, of every moment.
What interconnection do you see between transformation, values, fear and vulnerability?
I think there are only two things in life, fear and love. You know that my work is all about values. What I’ve learned over the years is at the core of every value is Love. Most of us do not really live the value in its true essence. We have veils of beliefs around the values which often means we are living them from a lower level of consciousness. As we transform, these beliefs dissolve – and when we have a big ‘aha’ or insight, in that moment of transformation what do we feel? Gratitude, compassion, Presence – all aspects of love.
For all of us, as we go through our life, we experience challenges – or as we can call them “upsets”. We are emotionally triggered. In this emotional trigger, usually one or more of our top values will be challenged. We have some belief (around that value) rooted in a fear. For example, in my story above, my value of Harmony was challenged. “If I speak up, I’ll be abandoned”. We know from Maslow’s work on his hierarchy of needs, that the fears are usually, fear of not being safe or in control, fear of not being loved or accepted, fear of not being good enough or valued. We feel vulnerable. It’s the story that we tell ourselves about our life – our “old story”. And, not to forget, this belief and fear has also served us and helped us get to where we are. Don’t make the fear all wrong!
In the moment of transformation, a new realization or awareness emerges, and this belief dissolves. In that moment, we may also feel vulnerable – but as a strength. It comes from a different place. It’s an openness from Source, our inner wisdom. Our True Self.
This is why I love the work of Values. Because we know with every upset, a value is challenged. By exploring the unconscious belief within the value and asking transformational questions, the belief collapses, and the value becomes a portal for accessing and experiencing love, wisdom, the creative force.
Our life experiences then can go from upset to love, upset to love, upset to love. The upsets become smaller and smaller. This value becomes integrated, we expand our level of awareness. And then what? Another new value becomes important to us. Our consciousness is expanding.
So, going back to your question, for me, vulnerability is the bridge between fear and love. It’s the gateway. We can actually look at fear, feel it and reframe it instead of repressing it. Love it. Because in it, it has our next opportunity for transformation.
What would be your most important recommendations on how to deal with fear in transformation processes?
It’s having the skill of moving from reactive mind to creative mind in which you see an upset as a set up for growth. That is a baseline self-awareness and most important for accelerated transformation. I think the big reframe around fear is embracing your fears and asking the question, “How is this fear serving me – what is it trying to tell me? “How is this perfect for me right now? Why have I created this?”
The next piece is about trusting in and tapping into your own wisdom. What I know to be true is that we have within us the wisdom and the knowledge of every teacher. And we need time on our own to trust this. So, we need to stop and be present. I love Eckhart Tolle’s definition of Presence as “No Mind”. To me, that’s really the exciting thing about being human. We have it all within us. Every single one of us.
According to your own experience, what role does resilience and self-care play in a transformation process? How do you take care of yourself?
It’s funny when you wrote this my thought was, “That’s a great question”. This question is the key to our work. Self-care and self-love, self-compassion is at the core.
What I do every morning is I meditate, and I exercise for an hour. This is what I consciously do for my own well-being. This took me many years to finally put myself first.
A lot of people who go into this work of transformation, love being martyrs. They feel they are making a difference in the world by sacrificing their own needs. But it’s unsustainable and they will get burnt out. And then they’ll be resentful. Self-care is absolutely the core.
Especially now, I feel that there is an awakening in the world about the importance of balance and self-compassion. We have seen the societal tendency to prioritise materialism – money, achievement, success over self-care. For sure, the younger generation is better than we were. Much better. My adult kids, for example, have no desire to have their focus being money or building a company. They are environmentally conscious and way more conscious than we were at that age.
One of my biggest transformations last year was when I was going back and forth to Copenhagen for a bank client every 6-8 weeks. I was getting exhausted, but of course rationalized that I was making a real difference. At some point my son, who was twenty-five at the time, looked at me and said with some incredulity, “what are you doing?”. And for some reason in that moment, I stopped. And I asked myself, “What AM I doing? And why am I doing this?” Up to that point, I believed I was saving the world. “They all need me and want me and thus I need to be on a plane.” If he would have asked me 10 years ago, I would have answered “I want to make a difference.” But in that moment, in that constellation, I stopped and asked myself, “What AM I doing?”. It landed. It’s not that I stopped travelling and doing my work, but I am much more conscious about and challenging myself on why I am doing what I am doing in every moment. Is it ego or is it Soul? I am taking much more care of my own resources.
How would you describe the essence of your work today?
As I have explained thus far, the core of my work is around helping leaders accelerate the evolution of their consciousness through a focus on values and Purpose. With the foundation of the work from Gita Bellin, and then integrated with Richard Barrett’s 7 Levels of Consciousness model plus many other wisdom sources such as Eckhart Tolle and John Demartini, as well as the latest leadership research (e.g. Bob Kegan, The Leadership Circle, Otto Scharmer), we have developed a simple yet profound methodology that is grounded in business.
The more you put your intention and attention on those values, the more you will become aware of the beliefs that are in the way and trigger those values, the more you will transform them. You will start manifesting what you want because your energy, like a magnet, is directed by your Purpose and your highest values.
What are the moments in your work in which you observe real transformation happening?
It happens when the space has intentionally been created for transformation to happen. For example, recently I was doing a workshop virtually, on-line. I had two very senior people who were very, very cynical and who held on to their cynicism. My focus was to hold an intention of transformation and trust the process. Letting go of judgement, holding these men’s defensiveness in a loving, compassionate way, just being a vessel, this is when profound transformation happens. Creating the space for the heart to open up and to trust. Both of these senior leaders subsequently experienced a huge shift in Awareness.
We also know that transformation, learning and growth is a lifelong journey. What next growth step do you want for yourself?
Well, the next layer of speaking my truth with people who show up as really aggressive, is still my growth edge. And this happens in particular with people closest to me, people who I really love and who are very aggressive in the way they fight when I challenge them. Like many of these issues this goes back to my childhood experiences.
And I think the other big one is having the courage to say “no” to requests that are not aligned with my purpose (even though I’m good at that task). I sometimes have an internal struggle between being a mother and a wife and being “super woman”. It’s been a journey for me, ultimately, of what I truly value. The truth of course is an integration; not either/or.
My growth is to let go of some limiting beliefs that if I step into my True Greatness, my husband and kids won’t love me. In fact, the opposite is true. It goes back to the same fear I had with Malene in my opening story – that childhood fear that “If I speak my truth, I’ll be abandoned!”
If we meet again for another conversation in a year from now – in the meanwhile you have been super happy and satisfied with your contribution to the world – what will you be
telling me that you did?
What I get is there’s a lot of space. I stopped doing so much and I allowed space for what wants to emerge. There are new connections, new unfolding. A lot of calmness and grounding. The word Nothingness comes to me. There’s a lot of energy.
What do you believe in?
I believe we all have unlimited potentiality. I feel like we are all a droplet of the Creative Force. I believe there’s perfection in every moment. I believe we all have the wisdom within ourselves. And that’s the really exciting thing. I believe everyone and everything is in our life for a purpose. Especially our biggest upsets. And I believe that relationships are our biggest growth opportunity. I believe that being in relationship with others is the hardest thing. And to me, that’s the real work. It’s not going off and transforming a company.
I remember that I was doing this work for a couple of years, flying all over the world, really thinking I was doing great work in the world. But as I came home, the family was not in balance and lots of upsets. Of course, this was polarity getting into balance. That’s when I realised, “the real work is at home.”
What are you grateful for?
I’m really grateful that I have a husband who loves me unconditionally and who challenges me. We’re celebrating 30 years of marriage next month!
I’m grateful that I have kids who are my teachers. And they have their own spiritual path. I never thought they’d end up so conscious, so empowered in their life, especially when those early years in childhood they had such an unconscious mother! I realize there was perfection to this. And I am grateful just for Being.
What do just a few people know about you?
Very few people know that I was a serious classical pianist in my youth. I was a music major for my first two years in college. That’s where all my perfectionism comes from. I still play for my own enjoyment.
Your “private” you (characteristics, likes, dislikes, your uniqueness, etc.)?
I always believed anything was possible – I love to manifest. This idea of unlimited potentiality – when I read this the first time from Deepak Chopra, it put into words a deep-seated “Knowing” that I always had as a kid. My kids and husband think I’m funny. I love cooking.
What do I dislike? This question doesn’t really resonate with me. I know all my dislikes, but even if I dislike something, I actually know it’s about my growth. Every single judgement is just a mirror for me to put up to myself.
Lisa, thank you so much for your openness and insightful stories, it was a pleasure having this conversation with you.