MF 134 : Sheena Yap Chan on Moving Forward with the Tao of Self Confidence
Updated: Jun 17
Sheen Yap Chan is an entrepreneur, speaker, coach and host of the podcast, The Tao of Self Confidence. Today, Sheena will share what it takes to gain greater self-confidence so you can move forward.
Successes at a glance:
Setback failure or time when things fell apart:
Sheena’s life has been what can be best described as “coloring outside the lines.” In fact, she was failed by one of her teachers for doing exactly that! As you’ll learn from Sheena’s story, she followed a very traditional, “paint by numbers” (and within the lines) path, of go to school, get a degree, a job, house, and car. Then, something occurred 6 years ago that changed everything. Sheena’s aunt passed away, suddenly and due to a freak accident. Sheena had been living her life, as she describes, like the movie ‘Groundhog Day,’ on a repeat cycle at an office job. It was predictable, safe, provided a paycheck but didn’t inspire her or motivate her in any way. Sheena was so checked out that at one point she would drive to her office on autopilot and all of a sudden wonder, “how did I get here?” Sheena didn’t hate her life or her job but the idea that she was working to build someone else’s dreams nagged at her. Sheena realized it was time for a change.
Going out on her own wasn’t easy. Sheena had a lot of resistance from family and friends with a lot of “why” questions: “why leave your job?” “why didn’t you do it this way?” The why questions were the resistance that many of us face when breaking away from the traditional narrative. From friends, Sheena got “the thing” questions: “Oh, are you still doing that thing?” The transition was difficult as Sheena dabbled in a lot of things and “failed miserably” in a lot of them. Sheena’s attempt to reshape her life had a lot of bumps in the road. Her self-esteem also took a hit as she began to wonder, “why would anyone want to listen to me?” At its worst, Sheena was paralyzed with fear and for a time, that kept her from doing anything. Compounding this, Sheena fell into the trap of seeing others on social media who appeared to be far more successful. But what Sheena only realized later was that the appearance of success on social media wasn’t always the reality. Rather, many of the influencers she saw enjoying early success also made major mistakes that caused them to lose it just as easily. Slowly, Sheena started to see more clearly that her journey and her success was not tied to anyone else; that her journey was simply about discovering the answer to the only important question: what am I here for. That’s when the path started to open for Sheena to make some major pivots and breakthroughs.
The “aha” moment that sparked a pivot:
Let’s backtrack for a moment and start at the beginning. Sheena’s story is very much a journey towards what she teaches today. Growing up in the Philippines as an Asian woman, Sheena shares that she was instilled with the narrative of go to school, get a degree and follow what your parents and society tells you to do; all without making any noise about it. However, despite this being the prescription for many individuals, Sheena knew this wasn’t for her. At the same time, she felt alone and not able to express this desire for more out of her life. Sheena tried to stay along the traditional path: she got the degree, the job, the house and the car. Sheena doesn’t discount this as a viable path, but she points out, you should only follow it if this is what you want and if it contributes to your happiness. The problem for Sheena was that she would sit in her office and the thought that kept coming into head was that she couldn’t see herself following this tract until retirement. She was restless and unhappy. So what keeps so many of us there? Sheena explains that it’s often a sense of complacency, a comfortability and an avoidance of rejection of venturing into the unknown.
However, when Sheena’s aunt passed away, Sheena had a wake-up call. The message was clear: life is too short to play it safe and according to someone else’s prescription. Sheena’s aunt was an example of living life to the fullest: she had a zest for it, doing things such as bungee jumping or zip lining in her 50s, that was outside the norm. Sheen took away from this a question that she asked herself: what kind of life do I want to live? One that is prescribed to me by others or one that is on my terms? Sheena made the bold and difficult choice to do the later.
As discussed above, Sheena’s journey away from the traditional career path was not easy. She fell into the trap of comparing herself to others who appeared successful online and chased after instant success. The breakthrough came when she realized that what was on social media wasn’t always a reflection of reality. Sheena decided it was time to share her journey and connect with others who were on a similar path with hers.
Sheena launched her podcast, The Tao of Self Confidence, to connect with other women who shared similar struggles and aspirations. But that wasn’t easy either. After recording episode 0, it took Sheena 3 months before she would syndicate her show to iTunes! Fortunately, Sheena had the encouragement of some close friends to push her towards this next big step. And thank goodness she did! Over 300 episodes in, Sheena has been able to document this journey and provide a powerful media outlet to let other women know that they are not alone. Moving Forward listeners, it’s not easy leaving the 9-5 traditional world and it’s not easy documenting your journey, especially on such a public forum as a podcast. But as Sheena proves, getting out of your own way can open up doors you never imagined. Today, Sheena, a once shy girl paralyzed by fear is now coaching other women on self-confidence and has become a beacon for others to move forward. Sheena lives by Gandhi’s powerful statement of “be the change you want to see in the world.”
Resource or cultural experience that inspired Sheena to move forward:
Connecting in groups with like minded women to take steps together.
Some life changing titles for Sheena:
Sheena also loves to blow off steam with reruns of Friends.
One important tip or practice for building self-confidence:
Love yourself and tell yourself you’re worthy to do what you desire, whether it’s travel, start a business, launch a podcast. Show your true self, including the scars, because that’s true self-confidence.
How Sheena recharges when facing a roadblock or challenge:
Sitting down and watching some Netflix, working out, walking. Just step away for a bit and come back.
Support the Podcast:
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Advice to past self while going thru a difficult time:
“Just do you.”
Parting wisdom (in a few words):
“Love yourself and your authentic self.”