In our 39th episode, Sofie is joined by Dr. Luciana Passeri, a passionate life design coach, to discuss living authentically. Dr. Passeri defines authentic living as a state of thriving and emphasizes that this can be achieved through the process of aligning our thoughts, speech, emotions, and behaviors with our highest self. Throughout the episode, Dr. Passeri provides examples of how to do this, drawing from her eye-opening experience in the Peruvian Amazon jungle and thirty years of life design coaching. Although it may take time to learn how to live authentically, this week’s insightful guest reminds us that we have unlimited potential to create our own path.
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About the Guest
Dr. Luciana Passeri
Dr. Passeri is a life design coach who has worked with over five-hundred clients over the last thirty years. She has done executive coaching for top 100 companies in the world and has spoken hundreds of times at conferences, events, and small group venues. Dr. Passeri is an entrepreneur extraordinaire who founded and is CEO of PASSERI, a slow fashion company that makes hand-made shoes and bags. Their slogans are “Step into your power & come walk with us.” Giving back is important to Luciana. More than 20 years ago she started two nonprofit foundations – La Paz International and HumanKind. Each foundation is designed to support the marginalized and disenfranchised in our world. La Paz International works with indigenous artisans around the world helping them bring their goods to market and create lives where they can thrive. HumanKind’s focus is more educational though they also do international projects. Most recently, Dr. Passeri has authored her memoir, “God’s in a Box on my Dresser: An Inquiry into the Human Capacity to Thrive” where she takes readers through her relationship with God and religion as she traverses childhood abandonment and abuse, family secrets, and an eating disorder that almost took her life. She finds the secrets to healing and thriving while living 30 days on a little island deep in the Peruvian Amazon Jungle.
Sofie: Hello everyone and welcome back to Claim Your Potential, the empowerment podcast. I’m your host, Sofie and for this episode we are joined by Lucana Passeri to discuss how to live authentically. Dr. Passeri is a life design coach who has worked with over five hundred clients over the last thirty years. She has done executive coaching for top one hundred companies in the world and has spoken hundreds of times at conferences, events, and small group venues. Dr. Passeri is an entrepreneur extraordinaire who founded and is the CEO of Passeri, a slow fashion company that makes handmade shoes and bags. Their slogans are step into your power and come walk with us. Giving back is important to Luciana and more than twenty years ago, she started two nonprofit foundations, La Paz International and Humankind. Each foundation is designed to support the marginalized and disenfranchised in our world. Le Paz International works with indigenous artisans around the world, helping them bring their goods to market and create lives where they can thrive. Humankind’s focus is more educational through their international projects. Most recently Dr. Passeri has authored her memoir, God’s in a Box on My Dresser, An Inquiry into the Human Capacity to Thrive, where she takes readers through her relationship with God and religion as she traverses childhood abandonment and abuse, found my secrets and an eating disorder that almost took her life. She finds the secrets to healing and thriving while living thirty days on a little island deep in the Peruvian Amazon jungle. Please welcome, Luciana Passeri. Thank you so much for being with us today, Luciana.
LucianaPasseri: Oh, thank you so much for having me. I’m honored to be here to talk about authenticity and just other really important life things. Thank you.
Sofie: And we’re so excited to have you on. And I love starting our episodes with hearing a little bit about your journey and so I’m curious because you have so many irons in the fire from your nonprofit to your shoe company to your book. So, how did you get to where you are now what was that journey like for you?
LucianaPasseri: Well, professionally and personally my life merged when I started to align my thought, my talk, my behavior, and my emotions and align them in service to what I call my highest self. So as I did that what happened is all of my gifts that, you know, I’m meant to bring into the world, we all of course have our unique gifts that we’re meant to bring into the world, they all coalesced around these five areas. And these five areas are entrepreneurship, philanthropy, coaching, what I call international journeys, helping people explore themselves through kind of an intense outdoor activities and then also through being an author. And that was really, really curious to me so all the irons in the fire so to speak really all are centered in my passion to support other people in stepping into their power, clocking their disempowering narratives and letting them know that not only do they have the power to live the life of their dreams, that they’re the ones responsible to create the life of their dreams. So my story is actually a long windy one if we’re talking about going from childhood to now, but regarding just the kind of coalescing of all of my life energies, that didn’t happen until I had a really authentic connection with myself.
Sofie: Yeah, absolutely and as you were speaking about authenticity there for a moment and everything just kind of aligning, I was thinking back to the philosophy that you have at Passeri which is, you know, stepping into your power and come walk with us and I’m very interested and very intrigued by this statement because it’s making me think quite a bit here. And I’m curious how that philosophy of stepping into your power and come walk with us really aligns with your mission to empower individuals both personally and professionally?
LucianaPasseri: That is a great question. So this story actually goes back to the jungle. So in two thousand nineteen, I did indeed live on a little island in the Peruvian Amazon jungle for thirty days and it was a remarkable transformative experience. Well, I was in the jungle on day twenty-seven, I think it was. I was walking and of course you can’t really walk far when you’re in the jungle because it’s not safe, so I had this teeny, teeny path behind what’s called a tombo, the sleeping platform that I slept on. And I was walking and just meditating and reflecting and praying like I had learned to do and I went to step my foot down and I felt this ginormous energy and I looked down and there was a coral snake. A massive coral snake which for those not familiar with snakes, it’s a highly toxic deadly snake and where we were in the Amazon if I were to be bitten, it would have been short death. So I looked down and as my foot was coming down and I saw it, I leapt to the side and then I started calling for the Shipibo people, the the local people, to help and which they did. Well for days after that, the snake, I guess the best way to say it energy kept coming to me and it was really a dark sort of toxic energy and what I would kind of say to in this energy to manage my own anxiety around this potentially near-death experience, I would say to the snake, I would say, “look, you need to look to your own beauty. Transmute your beauty.” And what I was doing when I was saying that is I was recognizing that this snake, if it would have bitten me, it would have bitten me out of defensiveness. It would have been trying to protect itself from me because I was a threat and that I was going to be stepping on it. And what happened after that is I realized that all of us when we get defensive, we become toxic and our words, our thoughts, our talk, our emotions, our behaviors all of that can not only become toxic to us, but it can become toxic to our relationships. It can get in the way of our ability to authentically thrive in the world. So this little snake, oh was actually a really big snake, out of the so many lessons it taught me one of the biggest ones was how to transmute my own energy, my own defensiveness, into beauty by changing my story. And then the recognition of how toxic my defensiveness can be now. Kind of a long way to get to a more specific answer to your question, but the reason why that’s important is because that next day in the jungle, I downloaded the slogan step into your power come walk with us. At that point I had not started the shoe company. The shoe company actually started three days after I left the jungle on this in Peru. And so that story of the snake moving through, how do I become less defensive toward self toward others and how do I do that? Oh, I step into my power. I can help other people step into their power and I want other people to walk with me on this journey because I am an example of how powerful our thoughts, our talk, emotions, and our behavior are in either supporting us in thriving or thwarting our ability to thrive. So a shoe company, of course, I mean those slogans they fit so perfectly pun intended, that I couldn’t deny the connection between the gifts of the snake the slogans and then the arrival of my shoe company.
Sofie: Yeah, and I see that there’s so much tie in between that journey to, you know, where you are now and how important that – that um, phrase that that message is and so I’m curious how that stepping into your power and come walk with us, how does that tie in to authentic living for you?
LucianaPasseri: Oh gosh, that is such a great question. So authentic living to me is synonymous with thriving and as I was saying my definition of thriving and living authentically is aligning our thought, talk, emotion, and behavior. So as I align these my – my alignment toward my highest purpose on the planet, I would say becomes in service not only to myself so that I can live authentically and thrive but it’s also in service to other people and the planet. Now this seems like super simple. Most of your listeners, you know, could be thinking, many of your listeners could be thinking, “oh yeah, yeah. I get it, I need to change how I thought, how I think. affirmations, etcetera, etcetera. And though it is simple conceptually, it’s actually very hard in current western world anyway to align these four things in service to our highest self. And let me give you an example. Thought is one of those things that most people know there’s self-fulfilling prophecies. How I think matters and how I show up into the world but we don’t necessarily realize how these things creep in so thought to me used to be my kryptonite. I’m an academic. To me, my saving grace was always, I can figure this out or I can research this. I can look it up, I can look to an authority. I know this to be true, therefore I can say it, I can believe it, I can live it and even though my intuition was strong at the time, I always deferred to my thought. So an example of my my clocking our thought, talk, emotions, and behavior would be this simple example. Soon after I started my company in Peru, I was walking down the street one day in and PS, I don’t speak, well I didn’t speak Spanish at the time. So here I am starting a manufacturing company. I had no idea how to start a manufacturing company by the way. No idea about factories or processes. I didn’t speak the language and as the company was developing and I was seeing the potential of the beauty, I had a ton of anxiety about it. And I’d be walking down the street and I would hear in my head, “you have no idea what you’re doing. You have no idea what you’re doing.” And I would hear it all the time and I would try to interrupt it but it was so powerful and then one day I just stopped. And I stopped, I – I know the street that I was on. I stopped in the middle of the street and I shook my head as I heard, “you don’t know what you’re doing about.” And I said, “you know what, you’re right. I don’t know what I’m doing, but I’ll figure it out.” And that was an example of how I needed to shift my thinking about my thought, my talk changed. Not surprising my cognitive, my emotional ability to step into my power and kind of clock that anxiety completely shifted and then not surprising as those things were aligning my behaviors. My ability to interact and be more fearless, about speaking Spanish, about initiating processes in the factory. All of it just totally shifted and became in alignment and things became easier and I have so many stories about the idea of kind of what I call clocking our thoughts and rewriting the story about ourselves. The story we tell ourselves about ourselves so that we can get out of our own way, rewrite the narrative and then and then thrive. So kind of a circuitous way to get to your question but it’s such – It’s such a story because there’s so many facets to it but it’s exciting. It’s – it’s exciting to be on a journey of aligning with my authenticity and my power.
Sofie: Oh, my goodness. Yes, I’m thinking about – I’m thinking about my myself over the past few years and how much focus I’ve put on that alignment and I can definitely say that once you get there or even once you start that journey because I don’t think that we’re really ever fully one hundred percent there, where we’re, you know, where we want to be on – on that alignment. But once you start that journey and you’re at a place where you feel that for the most part your decisions, your actions, your overall demeanor, how you carry yourself, how you walk, how you talk aligns with who you are authentically, there is so much power in that and there’s so much confidence that comes with that and there’s so much happiness that comes with that. And I can say from my own experience that going through that journey, looking at my level of confidence and happiness now compared to where I was maybe two, three years ago before I had that awakening and that experience of alignment is truly powerful just seeing how far one can come in a short amount of time when you actually understand and start to act as your most authentic self and so absolutely everything that you’re – you’re speaking to in terms of that feeling. I’m thinking back to that feeling as well. When I noticed for the very first time that, oh my gosh, I’m making decisions and as me this is one hundred percent me that’s coming through here. Oh, my goodness I love that.
LucianaPasseri: I love that too and I love that the recognition that this is a journey, right? There’s no destination, that was so beautiful and I’m so grateful to you share your experience because it truly is just in our sharing our experience, that our power continues to grow. Can I share one more quick story about that with you?
Sofie: Oh, of course.
LucianaPasseri: Oh, thank you. So okay, so when I lived in the jungle, I lived in on – we slept on a little tambo. It’s a wooden platform and then I only had a mosquito net around me. I was about twelve feet or so from a swamp that had anacondas, all kinds of critters and you can imagine. Right? We all know, you know, stories about the Amazon jungle and many of them are just true. So one of my first nights I’m laying in my tombo, pitch black, zero light pollution obviously. Pitch black and I’m laying there and this huge rat starts running between my head and a little teeny just like half wall on the platform and I could hear it. I could feel its energy and occasionally it would like, you know, swipe by my head a little bit so I could feel it. So panic energy, hello. Right? I’m like, oh my god. Oh, my life. There’s a rat. It’s a huge rat. And it was super scary and anxiety producing and after it went back and forth a couple times and I had this fear and this anxiety and all the stories in my head of course about rats, I again just stop myself and I thought, okay and I did a little giggle to myself and I’m like, okay here’s the deal Luciana, you have a choice here. You still have twenty-eight days in the jungle. You can have this experience every night if you want or you can clock your fear and I chose the latter. So what I did or what happened was this rat got named Mr. Tickles and from that night out it was remarkable because when Mr. Tickles would run by my head rather than me getting anxious or upset about it, I would have this conversation like Mr. Tickles go to bed I’m exhausted. Please just take care of yourself kind of thing. And that example of me conquering a fear planted the seed within me that made me aware that I could conquer any fear I had, any fear. When I observed the story of the fear I have then, an option to interfere with the stimulus and response about the story. Right? I can get in between that. I can change it and when I change the story, I change my experience and I move from a place where I am not taking responsibility for the totality of my being to a space of taking responsibility for the totality of my being and I think that’s really the key. Or one of the keys to living authentically, it’s taking responsibility for the totality of our being which is the totality of our thought our talk our emotions and our behaviors and what a gift it is to be able to take that responsibility. So hearing how you’ve done that is also inspiring to me and thank you for that.
Sofie: Oh, thank you so much and I feel like if you can conquer the rat fear that is pretty much just – I feel like you can get through anything. Um the very thought of something running across, it’s giving me the heebie-jeebies was just thinking about it. So I mean kudos to you there because I don’t think I would be able to do that. But to be able to also conquer that fear, reframe it and apply it to other scenarios to say, “hey, I got through this. I can get through anything because hey that was probably the worst it was going to get. That was pretty bad.” So, oh my goodness that is – that is so powerful there and I’d love to connect that idea of authentic living to the work that you do as an executive coach. And I’m really curious as to, you know, what you see in your executive coaching around leaders and authenticity, what key principles do you really emphasize to help these leaders lead more authentic lives in the corporate world?
LucianaPasseri: Oh wow. Okay, so that’s great. One of the most important things I think is when I have been hired to do executive coaching well and an individual coaching too but mostly executive coaching. What I found is a lot of people want coaching but a lot of people don’t want to integrate the results of the coaching. I’ve had numerous, numerous executives hire me in working with the executive teams, hear stories about different leadership styles in the organization that did not support the organization or individuals in being authentic and thriving and striving toward their mission but when those things were pointed out to the executives, so many executives have made excuses or become defensive about those. That really shocked me. Now I’m certainly not going to say that’s the majority because it’s not the majority of people that I work with but when challenges come up, that is one of the biggest challenges. So often what would happen is a board or somebody, well usually it’s a board will say, “hey, you know, we’re kind of needing some support here and so we’re going to look for a coach to help our executives align better with the mission. Find out what’s happening.” And so people will hire coaches in order to pacify shareholders or stakeholders but not really be invested in the outcome because they don’t know what they don’t know. Now like I said, that’s not the majority. But I share that story because when working with executives, their stories are similar stories to barriers that individuals I work with also have. So that’s one thing, the first step being open. To being coachable. The second thing is connection and this isn’t going to surprise you at all. When we’re talking about authenticity, the most the probably singular thing that we have the most control over is our connection with ourself, so our connection with ourself finding out our why. Why do I exist? What is my personal mission and vision and how is this organization going to allow me to support the organization and both developing the organization but also me personally develop and grow? And so this – this idea of connecting to self requires that I look at my own stories. What are the stories I tell myself about my leadership? Do I only hire people around me, who are similar to me and who are kind of going to reinforce my narrative? And then people I hire who give me pushback, do I think they’re the outlier? Do we talk about them negatively? Do we say, “oh that’s so and so executive they’re always the contrarian?” Or do we develop teams that allow us to connect to ourself, connect to the mission and then connect to other executives and other people? So connection essential. The next thing that – that I would say and I’m just giving you these things kind of in – in little nuggets, is every organization I work with, of course, we first look at the mission and the vision of the organization and how that that is aligned with the behaviors of the people in the organization but similar to my work with individuals in looking at our thought, talk, emotions, and behaviors, every executive also needs to look at their thought, talk, behaviors, emotions, and really be open to saying “gosh, I thought I was so good when I’d walk around and ask how everybody was doing and try to demonstrate care about them and I didn’t realize that in meetings, I would be on my phone. I’d be looking at my computer when they were sharing their regional data for example”, so there’s ah, a part of – of showing up in terms of I asked for this coaching. I’m open to coaching. Second, after I’m truly – truly open to it and looking at my own narratives would be that connection with self-other, the organization and then, you know, that next step is building that out in terms of thought, talk, emotions, and behavior. So it’s a simplified version but I share it that way because each of those, they’re not really pillars but each of those things has practical and very tangible things we can do to skill build. To improve self and the organization and I know it’s not always easy. For example, my pillars in Passeri, in our company. Our pillars are be beauty, live compassionately, love everyone, know peace and be kind and really supporting. All of our employees in living that mission is – is challenging because everybody lives, you know, of course their own lives and has their own challenges. So, and I the – the experience that I have is varied. I should say also, I have so many executives who I work with who are just these brilliant individuals. Brilliant individuals, they care so much and they are doing their best to live authentically. But there’s just small patterns in some of their communication behavior that thwart their ability to really be as effective as they could be in an organization. A really quick example of that is a person who might lead to the skill, versus lead to the will. So and why I say it that way is because one of my vice presidents for example, might have tremendous skill but sort of a lack of creativity or motivation and as a leader then I need to lead them by helping them skill build in their will center. There might be other executives who have this tremendous creative energy but they don’t have certain skill sets. So then, I look to that individual and have to build that skill set but all these skill sets are always around our patterns of communication, always some aspect of our communication. So that’s the macro in the micro. It’s a huge question. Huge question and a really important one. So I thank you for asking it to be sure.
Sofie: Yeah. I knew going in that was going to be one of those questions that was going to have a multitude of answers that would come with it but I think it’s important that it was asked. And also I liked your response looking at that macro and looking at that micro. I think that’s important to understand, you know, a little bit more about the situation. A little bit more of that context and also to be able to find solutions to be able to find, you know, ways and strategies and implement them again at that micro versus at that macro. And I’d love to connect everything together for our listeners. What should our listeners take away from this episode?
LucianaPasseri: So my hope is that people will recognize they have unlimited potential to create their own path. They are not just the path finder. They are the path maker and they get to decide what it’s paved with whether it’s conquering personal narratives or – or rewriting personal disempowering narratives so that we can thrive and live a more authentic life whether it’s being a woman in an organization that is complicated and doesn’t support women in thriving, understanding that we have choices in those situations. So it’s really truly stepping into our power and realizing that when we bring our gifts fearlessly into the world, not only do we thrive and we live authentically but it affects all those around us and it changes the way people operate. It changes the nature of the very planet I believe.
Sofie: Yes, and for all of our listeners that just do not want to stop listening to your amazing wisdom because you’ve shared so much with me throughout this entire episode, lots of moments where I reflected and gone, oh my gosh I remember having that feeling. Or oh I haven’t had that feeling on my authentic – my authentic living path yet. I can’t wait to have that feeling. You’ve shared so much amazing wisdom and for listeners that just want to hear more of that wisdom from you. How can they connect with you?
LucianaPasseri: That is a great question. Also, thank you for asking. So, I have a website it’s Luciana L U C I A N A Passeri P A S S E R I dot com. People can find my book, God’s in a Box on My Dresser, An Inquiry into the Human Capacity to Thrive, on Amazon. And you can get it in a number of different varieties and on my website, I have my five paths outlined so for people who are looking to explore their own authenticity and how all of their gifts kind of come together, it might be worth um, giving it a look to see how I have brought all those together so that it can support those interested in aligning their own gifts and talents toward their highest purpose. So those two would be the best places to find me.
Sofie: Wonderful and I’ll make sure that those are linked below in the episode description box. So for all of our listeners, go check out Luciana’s bio as well as the link that she just mentioned. I know that your book, it’s been actually in my Amazon cart for a bit. So I’m definitely adding it to my reading list for sure.
LucianaPasseri: Thank you.
Sofie: Yeah, absolutely. And again, thank you so much for coming onto the podcast. It was an absolute pleasure having you on and thank you.
LucianaPasseri: Um, I appreciate the opportunity and thank you for all the work you do. It’s beautiful.
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