For most people, leaving their comfort zone and doing what they love is not an easy decision. It is a battle accompanied by fear and anxiety about the future. Dr. Alkistis Agio left a corporate job in banking that she didn’t like to follow her dream-job as a leadership trainer, speaker, author, influencer, and TV host, living by the beach in Greece.
Many of us can identify with her story and want to change the course of our lives. If you want to know more, just keep reading the interview.
Q: When did you decide to quit your corporate job?
Dr. Alkistis Agio: When I finished my studies at the Chartered Institute of Bankers in London, I started working in the corporate finance department of an international bank in Athens. I looked successful to the people around me; I had an executive position, a big salary, designer clothes, cosmopolitan friends, and weekend trips to beautiful resorts. However, inside, I was feeling frustrated and anxious about my career path. Why? Because although I love philosophy and psychology, I felt trapped in a career in the banking sector, mainly to please my father.
Day by day, I became more and more frustrated, irritable, and melodramatic. At work, I couldn’t concentrate, and a very itchy rash had started to spread all over my body. One day I was called to the bank’s headquarters to make an important presentation to the board of directors. I wasn’t prepared at all. The presentation didn’t go well after I messed up the numbers in front of the board of directors. At the end of the day, I quit.
Q: What happened after that?
Dr. Alkistis Agio: I quarreled with my father, who hit me and kicked me out of the house as he was so disappointed in me. I managed to prepare a backpack, grabbed about $1000, and flew to Istambul. I traveled east into Turkey to Mount Ararat near the border with Iran. There I met a group of Italians going to Rome, and I followed them. In Rome, my money ran out, so I found work as a waitress to cover my expenses. Oftentimes, I doubted my decision, and thought of giving up. But one day something exciting happened. On the bus, I met a woman who worked for an international executive training company. She was looking for her replacement because she had to leave for Canada to get married. After the conversation we had, she told me that I was the person she was looking for and offered me her job. Of course, I accepted. From then on, things changed for me. I started training new managers at «Leadership Training Skills». I was paid a great salary to do what I really love, had a chauffeur, and stayed in beautiful hotels in Venice, Tuscany, and Lake Como.
Q: Would you recommend our readers follow your example?
Dr Alkistis Agio: No. It is a great example of what not to do. I was lucky. Making such dramatic changes in your life without having an idea of where you are going, what you want, a strategy, or the proper supplies for your path, is stupid, ineffective, and can even be dangerous.
Q: How can we get all our fears and insecurities under control?
Dr. Alkistis Agio: Over the years as a leadership trainer, I developed a method based on the teachings of Aristotle and Socrates. With my unique 3-step self-inquiry method, you can identify and challenge irrational or unhelpful thinking patterns to make better decisions. You can strategize and plan better and move closer to your dream every day. For example: Think about what goal you would like to accomplish within two years. Now, as you think about this, you might notice some fears and preconceptions creeping in, holding you back. These thoughts are trying to protect you from disappointment and failure. Just thinking about your goal begins to set these «disaster-scenarios» off in your mind. The fact is, you could accomplish this goal, if you learn to manage these «inner narratives» better. This all has to do with self leadership. This is where my 3-step method comes in.
Q: What is self–leadership?
Dr. Alkistis Agio: Self–leadership is essentially becoming the master of your destiny. It means having a developed sense of who you are and what you want, and why you want it. It also means inspiring yourself and others to collaborate on the end result. For example, Many of the CEOs that I coach who are miserable; On the outside, they seem to be successful. Some people look at them and even envy them. They have a safe, secure job with status. However, on the inside, they feel a big void and emptiness. They drink too much, eat too much «gourmet» food, do drugs, sleep around and spend loads of money on things they know they don’t really need. Why? Deep down inside, they know they’ve sold their soul. They often have a big dream that they’re suppressing. They’re stuck and feel frustrated. They’re living their life to please others and what society expects of them. Despite all their efforts, they still haven’t really made any progress to realizing their true dream. At the same time, no one around them really understands them. Their real talents remain untapped and unrewarded. They feel like an imposter in their job and life.
In bed at night, they wonder: «Is it too late to get what I really want? How can I break free from my fears and limited beliefs? Other people have done it. Why not me?». And when they think of all these things, a voice catches up with them and says: «Why change anything? You’re fine just where you are. Stay in your safe, comfort zone».
Well, if they continue like that over the next couple of years, I often see their health and relationships rapidly deteriorating, they develop anger issues and depression sets in for good…That’s when they start popping pills and that turn them into «robots». It’s really such a waste of a life, their living a lie…It’s like Aristotle taught, «If you want to avoid criticism, say nothing, do nothing, be nothing…». My 3-Step method can help these people take charge of their destiny and make a difference in this world.
Dr Alkistis Agio is an Inspirational Coach and Speaker (TEDx), Author From Fear To Freedom – Best Seller (Amazon), Founder of The Hellenic Wellness Movement, TV Presenter.
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