Self-actualization, the realization of a person's full potential, is at the top of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. I am always surprised by how many people think they are at the bottom of this pyramid with only basic needs being met. Amidst today’s geopolitical conflicts, economic uncertainties and climate risks, many of us often lack a sense of safety and security. Not too long ago, I was also one of these people.
For years, I was running on the Hedonic Treadmill and collecting trophies along the way. Having graduated from top universities and held positions in prestigious companies, I was a perfectionist who never felt satisfied with myself or my achievements. I could not live in the present or celebrate life’s little wins, I hated the journey and could not wait to speed toward my goals - I was climbing an endless ladder to “reach the top”. But the top was always a shifting landscape; instead of feeling rejoice for the progress that I’ve made, most of the time I was just relieved that I did not fail or disappoint anyone, mostly myself.
After several years working at a startup that I loved, the constant stress and intense business travel on top of trying to balance a family life led me down a path of periodic insomnia and emotional roller coaster. It eventually culminated in a panic attack, and a burnout ensued. Fortunately, with the help and support of some very special people, it also catalyzed my spiritual awakening. I started to question my personal belief systems and the way I was raised in a traditional Chinese family post-generations of trauma from Mao’s Cultural Revolution. During the recovery process, I discovered Buddhism and enriched my spiritual education.
A few years ago, without having a clear direction on where I was going, I left my operating role at the startup to give myself the stillness I needed to continue my journey in pursuit of self-actualization. At times it felt like I was going backward in my career, but it also gave me some contentment that I rarely experienced in my life. As I embarked on the second half of my life, I realized that I had the privilege of meeting some very interesting people along my personal and entrepreneurial journey, who have inspired me not with their stories of success, but with tales of overcoming seemingly impossible obstacles. They embody unwavering optimism, personal charisma, and a bit of magic I call The Founder Spirit.
It is my hope to bring the same inspiration to you through this podcast, especially the struggling and aspiring entrepreneurs and younger generations who are seeking directions in their human journeys and ways to reframe their lives. If you have made it this far, it is not a coincidence, I leave you with a beautiful quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson: “The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.”
An entrepreneur at heart, Jennifer is a business executive with over 20 years of experience in financial services, strategic consulting and startups across the United States, Europe and Asia. She is also a curious explorer of spirituality, self-discovery and human transformation, and believes that the meaning of life is to constantly improve yourself.
Feel free to check out The Founder Spirit blog on Medium.