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Arthur Had Merlin, I Have Sharon

Updated: Jun 4, 2019

In March 2018, I had the great honor of being invited up to the TED® headquarters in New York city to deliver my talk, How to Develop a Round Table as Legendary as King Arthur’s. It was part of TED’s upcoming release of their new app/program TED® Masterclass. My talk will be included when they release the app (date TBD).


Standing on that stage was one of the greatest moments of my life. Preparing for that moment was intense, and I learned so much about myself during the process. TED’s training helped me hone my own gift for storytelling and gave me the platform to speak about how:

  • We need relationships with people that are going to push us, encourage us, and mentor us.

  • We need more than one mentor. King Arthur had Merlin as his mentor, but King Arthur also had a round table of advisors. One person cannot be everything to us. One person cannot walk with us everywhere. We need a team --- we need a round table.

  • The whole world is at our fingertips, so our mentors don’t need to be physically with us! You can have a mentor in Sweden, if that person ignites your passion, pushes you to strive, and encourages you to be an incredible leader.

Sharon Atteh-Chi, President SONA Train

I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have a gifted executive coach, an amazing round table, and my very own “Merlin” named Sharon. Sharon is a former Peace Corps volunteer turned national reporter in Africa, turned instructional systems designer, turned IT program manager of multi-million dollar programs. She also happens to be an amazing mother, friend, grandmother, and yogini. A few years ago, Sharon went back to school and received her master’s degree in yoga therapy and promptly started volunteering to do yoga therapy for wounded warriors with post-traumatic stress disorder.


If you’re thinking she sounds like a saint, you’d be right.


I asked Sharon if I could feature her in this community and asked her a few questions that I thought would inspire and teach executives, leaders, aspiring leaders, business owners, and entrepreneurs. Here’s my interview with Sharon Atteh-Chi.


Question: I’ve been in situations before where I feel like I’m competing with others on my team. So, how can women bring a spotlight to their own talents without “competing”, per se?

Everyone has their own special talents that they bring to their job. But, other people’s talents shouldn’t determine how you use yours. Look inward and see what you can offer where others might fall short and that will help you identify what you can offer the group. Examine your own talents and passions and let those shine.


Question: Communicating your own success and competence is sometimes tricky for women. Can you talk about some techniques or tips on how to do that successfully?

Communication needs to be consistently good all around. You want to shine at every level without the team thinking you’re being a brown noser. Always make sure you acknowledge your teammates, use positive communication, and make sure to keep open channels with your leadership. Never ever gossip or talk about the people on your team. The first time you’re labeled as a backbiter or gossiper, it pulls you down.


Remember to align yourself with your peers and see how you can help them. If you have your assignment and someone else has theirs, ask the other person if you can help them. Say “Can I help you? Do you want to bounce ideas off me”? You don’t need to mentor them – but do be vulnerable. Don’t be afraid to open up to people. If you need help, ask for help.


Question: You’re a yoga master so I’d love to hear your advice on avoiding burnout. What do you do to keep yourself from burning out.

I focus on my breath and that's one of the most important things you can do. If you pay attention, you’ll find yourself taking shallow breaths or holding your breath and that will keep you in fight or flight mode. So connect back to your breath -- your life force. That’s the first thing you do when you’re brought into this world and the last thing that you do when you leave. You need to acknowledge your breath and keep it moving. Always come back to your breath.


I also think it’s important to have an affirmation or mantra or something that you can say to yourself. Like when you pass through a doorway, say a mantra or affirmation that brings you back to center. Sometimes when you’re disconnected from yourself, you react to other people. Always bring it back to you. Don’t disconnect from yourself and how you’re feeling. Feed yourself and tell yourself what you need.


Question: What’s the single best piece of advice you’ve ever gotten in your life:

It would be: Have faith. Faith will keep you going where you think that things can’t be resolved or if when you’re in a bad place. Keep the faith. That’s what I was brought up with. And, use what you have. I don’t mean being passive, I mean: Go forth with your best effort and have faith that your hard work will pay off. Finally, count all your mistakes as learning experiences.

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