I especially love doing this with my pony because he’s very sensitive. I had one client one day who was so in her head and he wouldn’t come near her. We did a few questions and I just left to let them do their thing and I could see where she was coming to and then she said something, where she thought she wanted to go.
So, I invited her to stick with that thought, to visualize what it would be like if she could be there and I left. Within five minutes I saw her whole body change and in that time, my pony came over to her. She was sitting down in the paddock and he looked her from head to toe. He never does that.
– Nafissa Shireen
Darla LeDoux: Hello and welcome to today’s episode of Retreat and Grow Rich, the podcast. I’m here with Nafissa Shireen and she is an income growth mentor and coach for entrepreneurs. She is also, you guys are going to love this, the owner of Believe & See Ranch and the host of Living Forward TV over on YouTube.
Her business expertise was developed over 25 years in the corporate world, serving on the executive teams of six, seven and eight-figure entrepreneurs and corporations. She holds several advanced and master’s coaching certifications including those with a focus on belief change psychology and equine guided development, which we’re going to talk a bit about today, I know some of you are totally leaning in about that.
If she is not in her office, you can find her with her herd of four horses. She believes in listening to their wisdom and feedback in order for us to show up fully expressed in our lives. Welcome. How are you doing over there?
Nafissa Shireen: Thank you so much for having me. I’m super excited about our chat today.
Darla LeDoux: Me too. You volunteered for the series called Transform the Leader, which is all about how choosing to lead retreats, and sometimes it feels like choosing and sometimes it feels like being chosen, I think. Actually leads us as the leaders to transform maybe more than the participants. I love that you’re up for this conversation because sometimes we can do interviews and we can look like, “Hey, everything was always perfect, and here’s what you should do.” And in more working with retreat leaders for years now, so often people think, “Well, I don’t know exactly how this is going to go so I’m going to wait.” My thought is, we never know exactly how it’s going to go. so you might as well go for it.
That’s kind of the context for this conversation, but I’d love to start with just how did you find your way to coaching first, and then we’ll talk about retreats and equine therapy?
Nafissa Shireen: Sure. When I was in the corporate world, I had a coach. During that time, when I was working there, I went from middle management to senior management, from $70,000 a year to $700,000 a year. Obviously the coach didn’t do the work, but through the coaching, I learned how to be and I was able to transform in that environment.
When I left the corporate world, I was already sold on coaching just because I had experienced in my own life. When I look back at everything I did in the corporate world, what I enjoyed the most was mentoring, succession planning and making sure people were ready to take that next step. Seeing people come in with no skills and then do things they didn’t think they could do. Or, I did a lot of work in the community because I worked in mining. So you have a lot of requirements for social license to operate. So you’re really working in the community. What I enjoyed in there was career development, workforce development. So for me, it was always about finding that piece in somebody to help them get to that next level.
When I left my role, I was still thinking, “Oh, I got to go find another job.” And my coach at the time said, Okay, I need to take my coach hat off here. I’ve been working with you for a long time. Have you thought about coaching, because normally she would never actually give up. She’s so clean about the ICF guidelines, right? But she actually gave me that and I was like, “Me.”
So that was in 2011. And I just started the course from there. So it’s been a bunch of ups and downs throughout the way. I did I think what a lot of other coaches do, I tried every niche possible. And here I am today because I actually do really love it. So it’s been a journey for sure.
Darla LeDoux: So what made you leave the corporate world? Like why were you in that conversation to begin with?
Nafissa Shireen: Well, I had made my way to the top of a man’s world. I was an executive in the mining industry. I like to say it was really fun until it wasn’t. Like it just got to a point where I was worn out. I was so tired of every time I would look at my… At the time, my Blackberry and look at the gold prices or the silver prices, was I going to have a job or was I going to be responsible for laying a bunch of people off, right? There was just a lot of emotion that would go within that industry.
And I didn’t actually like who I was becoming to keep my role. And then the position I had the one I really loved it was up in Alaska, because I was living in Vancouver working in Alaska. Everything changed aside for myself, the senior management of the joint venture changed, the board of directors changed and the companies that own the board of directors had big changes. And so everything was different except the name of my paycheck.
It’s one thing to commute downtown every day from the suburbs for a job you hate, but I was commuting to another country. And it was really hard for me and I got the proverbial email that was straw that broke the camel’s back. And I remember we were eating takeout and it was so upset I flung my dinner across the kitchen and my husband was like, “I think you’re done there.” And I went, “Yeah, I think I am.” And just like that, like a 20 year career, I didn’t know that I was ending a 20 year career. I thought it was just leaving this job which was a great job and I had been there a long time. So by Blackberry, I said, here’s my two weeks resignation and it’s done.
Darla LeDoux: Wow. In that moment over, take out.
Nafissa Shireen: Over take out and Darla I walked away from over $300,000 in the money stock options on that day, and they were going to be vesting in a month but I was just so tired
Darla LeDoux: Wow.
Nafissa Shireen: And logic would have said stay another month but I’m like, I don’t know the markets could take tomorrow. It can be worth nothing. I’m out of here. So I left.
Darla LeDoux: And I hear that a lot too. I spoke with someone just recently who was like, oh, in March, I get a bonus. And it could be crazy to walk away from that. So I’m going to leave my job in March. And then March comes, and there’s always a reason until it’s time.
Nafissa Shireen: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. And it was just time to go, I’d done really well at that point. And then I sort of dabbled a little bit like, okay, maybe I’m going to try another job. I got some other contracts in the mining world. But I just kept coming back to coaching. And so this was 2011. So it was in and out, in and out, in and out. And then 2013 I was like, you know what? That said, I want to go full time into coaching.
Darla LeDoux: Yeah. That’s amazing. So one of the things you said was one of your favorite parts of all of your roles was helping people kind of find that thing that would take them to the next level. You used a certain word and I don’t remember the exact words, but like that there’s something that they’re not seeing that would take them to the next level. Can you talk a little bit about that? And how does that influence your work today?
Nafissa Shireen: I don’t remember the word I used either. But I always think that everybody’s got something special in them. And a lot of the places that I worked at would sometimes hire people who were, “under qualified” for the role, because they were cheap. And so and they want to hire cheap. But you can pay for that dramatically if you get the wrong person. And I always felt that these people coming in had so much potential and they were hired on their potential. And I really felt well if they’re going to give everything that I wanted to groom them, but they didn’t necessarily believe in themselves. So helping them see that yes, you can do this. Yes, you can handle the tough conversations as you can handle the tough assignments. The thing I would be the most proud of is if I could be promoted or leave and they didn’t have to hire from outside they could promote it from within. That was to me then I’d done my job, right?
Darla LeDoux: That’s awesome.
Nafissa Shireen: Maybe they had to hire from outside to fill whoever replaced me. But that was my favorite part of it. And so I left there believing that everybody has something inside them. And even in my own journey, because growing up half Pakistani, wrong side of the tracks, religious minority. I had a lot of things in my own life that would have said, you’ve kind of stopped here. And I never believed that. So because I had such a belief in that I believed in that for everyone else. And so that’s why my coach said, “Are you sure you want to get another mining job? This is a bit of a gift here.” And it took me a while to actually even get my head around that because I was so left brained when I was in the corporate world.
Darla LeDoux: Awesome. That’s going to be a great conversation, of fun fact that you probably don’t know about me is that I worked in a mine.
Nafissa Shireen: Oh, did you? I didn’t know that.
Darla LeDoux: So when I was in college, my step dad worked in the mine. He did it for a variety of things. He eventually was in training and development, but he ran like a department and the kids of the miners got to come to work there in the summers. And I remember I made $11 an hour, and I thought it was so amazing. And I wore a big yellow jumpsuit and I hose slurry off the floor down the drain. Yes.
Nafissa Shireen: Yeah, they’re pretty labor intensive roles, but it’s fun.
Darla LeDoux: It’s very glamorous.
Nafissa Shireen: But I do remember when I was up in Nome, Alaska, Nome is just below the Arctic Circle. And that was, I think, probably one of my favorite assignments. Because it’s such a small town and you can only get in or out through aircraft, or barge like to bring goods up, you had a barging window season. So it was very remote. And I remember driving up to our mine site with our mind manager and we were driving over this “road” which wasn’t a road it was just path carved through the tundra. And we’re bouncing up and down in this van or Jeep. I can’t remember it. And he goes, “You are spoiled, you are ruined. Mining is going to ruin you for life, you’re never going to be able to have another job.”
He was right. Because when I left the mining industry I left and I actually can’t imagine going to work anywhere else because I was out on site all the time. It was a lot of fun.
Darla LeDoux: Awesome. So you are very left brained at that point in your life and kind of analyzing the options, but you decided to start your own business. So how did that go?
Nafissa Shireen: Terrible, was absolutely terrible. I was really great at negotiating salaries or contracts. They would send me into deal with the underground miners to negotiate eight figure contracts for directors but when it came to selling myself, I didn’t know how to sell. I knew how to build a business but I didn’t know how to sell and I didn’t know how important that was. And all your worth comes up like oh my goodness, we have a disconnect for anybody who might have had a corporate history would know this. You have such a disconnect between the client in front of you and what your money comes from. Right? Because this big imaginary bank account puts it in, and the person you’re serving is not the person paying you. So I didn’t realize how big a disconnect that was. And so I like to tell people yeah my very first year, I hit six figures right away, unfortunately was in reverse, which is not a good thing at all.
It was really tough. I didn’t know how to get clients that affected my confidence, my ability to be a coach. I didn’t understand things like about mindset or money mindset, or how my beliefs from my childhood could be a failure. I didn’t know any of that. I knew how to do a spreadsheet really, really well. And I knew how to mentor people who were in the perfect setting really well, right. So it took about two or three years before I actually started to get some traction and it was really hard. Thankfully financially, I was in a pretty good position because I did have a good career, had put a lot of money aside, house was paid for. But still emotionally going from feeling like you’re at the top of the world to I’m a bumbling fool like that’s how I felt was really demoralizing.
That took quite a bit out of me. And when I started to figure out how to get speaking and getting speaking gigs, I did the rubber chicken circuit, which I’ll never do again. But it was really helpful, because I was able to start getting those first clients and start to get credibility and even then I just kind of got it to a level where it was sustainable, nothing incredible for the first few years. And then about three years ago, I changed the mentor I worked with and everything changed at that point. So it really forced me to step up. Yeah, it was a rough go the first few years.
Darla LeDoux: Wow. I think it’s interesting. You talked about how, when you were in corporate, you’re kind of coaching people who have all the right environment to succeed. And what was different about kind of getting out of that space where they’re setup, what are some of the things you had to learn?
Nafissa Shireen: In terms with the clients or with myself?
Darla LeDoux: I would say some of each, right.
Nafissa Shireen: Okay. Yeah. So I mean, easily with the clients. I mean, you kind of know exactly what that path is going to be because it’s pretty prescribed, especially if you’re working together on succession planning. You have the org charts, you know who were slotting for where, and so you have a very defined outcome that you’re grooming somebody for.
Like it’s a little bit of, I don’t know, I don’t want to say the borg. But I mean, it’s like you’re creating somebody who’s going to come up a certain path, right? When it came to the clients within what I’m doing now, there was so much more emotion involved, because people are putting their heart and soul into their business. There was a prescribed path half the time they’re just trying to figure out what that needs to be. So that was a big shift and learning how to hold that space for somebody with a whole lot of unknowns, a whole lot of emotion. And so it really tested me as a coach and I won’t lie, still you’re talking about transform the leader, that is still something that I think as leaders we always have to step into. Because at every level as the client’s expanding, they’re going to have that space of what’s going on. Right.
And so, I appreciate it when someone holds it for me, I have to be able to step into that hold it for someone else. So that’s never changed. In terms of me having people to coach? Well, I mean, again, it comes back to the whole part about these were built in clients. And again, I was grooming them, the big corporation was paying me. How did I value myself for when I would start to coach people?
I didn’t actually know. What are the results are going to get in this environment? How can I charge them? How do I know who… I didn’t know what an ideal client was like, what does that mean? Right? So I had to learn a lot about that. And then about what I really did. Like Darla, I dabbled in everything, wellness coaching. I got it into my head that I was going to be a career coach for professionals, accountants, engineers, geologists, but that was a really bad idea. It did not work.
Darla LeDoux: On the left brain.
Nafissa Shireen: No, because they didn’t realize that the reason they were just staying at a technical level was because of their people skills, and it just didn’t work. It did not work. And then I was actually required by what was then the CGA Association in Canada to resign my accounting designation because they didn’t want me to combine coaching with what they consider to be consulting and anything to do with business. Even if it was like… Yeah, anything like even looking at somebody’s logo and saying, hey, that might work or not, that’s what I do. But they’re like, if you’re in their business, we consider that to be accounting. And you need to open an accounting practice, and you can’t bundle coaching with it. So I had to resign my 10 years of school, 10 years of career, 20 years of my life. Yeah, send back those certificates. Like that was really scary. So that didn’t work.
Darla LeDoux: I didn’t know that actually.
Nafissa Shireen: You didn’t know that?
Darla LeDoux: No. I worked with a lot of clients who had to give up their counseling or therapy license to coach.
Nafissa Shireen: And it’s scary because that’s all you know, and you’ve put so much school into it, so much career into it. And there’s the fallback, right. So yeah, I mean, that was the fall back and I realized, okay, I can’t actually have a fallback. So that was a huge leap of faith to just resign. And then I was required to take my certificates, my degrees, whatever you want to call them and mail them back and send it back to them. So that was huge. That was in 2014 that I did that.
Then things kind of opened up because I was no longer working under their restrictions. So I did a lot of different things in the coaching aspect. And so it was no longer me just being the mentor, I had to be the business owner. And I think that was the bigger learning in terms of what it was for me.
Darla LeDoux: So let’s talk a little bit about your journey with transformation. One of the things you said is, when you started your business, you had no idea that you had these beliefs of things from growing up that were getting in the way of making money and yet you’d had a coach all through corporate. So I think that’s kind of interesting, and I think it would be fun to get your take on what was the difference between that maybe standard ICF coaching and then the kind of coaching that you got that really helped you be an entrepreneur?
Nafissa Shireen: So, I am so grateful to that first coach. She was really instrumental in my life for a lot of things. And I didn’t actually know the difference between what ICF coaching was or NLP or any of the transformational work. So when I started, I started to go down the path of ICF coaching. And because I thought that’s just what you should do, I’m thinking from a corporate left brain, having the designation, having the credentials and credibility. This was just where my brain went, right.
And I was getting okay results. But I started to feel like for myself as a coach, I was helping people create to-do lists. Now, I never quite realized that when I was being coached incorporate because we did do some deeper work in the sense that, I volunteered to do a 360 on myself, which was like the scariest thing ever at the time. I didn’t want to hear. They say those things are anonymous but you read the comments, you know who said what.
It’s pretty obvious and learning to understand how I’m showing up in terms of executive presence, but we’re really, really, really 100% solution focused. And I believe coaching is solution focused. But sometimes the story beneath that does provide context, provide the solution. Now, it’s not that we want to dive into that pit and spend time in there, but we need to dig there to uncover are their beliefs that are causing you to not be able to fulfill what that solution is that you’ve come up with.
So I started to discover that in myself when I had to transform certain beliefs. I started to learn at a certain level a little bit what we believe about money, how it shows up in our life. So I started this other journey on my own of what is this and also with the clients I was working with. It was the same thing people would know what to do and commit to doing it and then not do it, even though it would make the monies kind of mirrored me.
So I got fascinated on why and then I started my journey on the other side of things with learning NLP, learning some of the belief change psychology, studying, reading, following a bunch of mentors in the industry that kind of had more of a mindset piece to it. And that opened up my world and I started to realize too that myself, I’m actually quite right brained, but I’d really stifled that to fit in in the corporate world.
And so as that started to come forth like it was… And it can still be chaotic as I’m discovering that because I mean I’m 49 years old and I was this way for 42 years of my life. So it hasn’t just all unravel right away. So yeah that was-
Darla LeDoux: When our society tends to reward the left brain thinking, right?
Nafissa Shireen: Yes.
Darla LeDoux: All the structures are set up that way.
Nafissa Shireen: Absolutely.
Darla LeDoux: So it makes sense that to allow yourself to celebrate more of your right brain would take something.
Nafissa Shireen: Darla, I never made a decision based just on intuition, I guess, no that’s not true. I would, because I would go with my gut, but I would always spreadsheet at first and then so that it would match my gut feeling. Right. Now I don’t even really know how to work a spreadsheet anymore, so I just kind of go with what feels right.
Darla LeDoux: I love that. I remember when I moved, I was a few years into business and I was like, okay, I can work anywhere now. I’ve figured out how to market online and I can live and work anywhere. And so I moved to Colorado and I made the goal to choose where I lived based on my own desire and not money. And so the old me would’ve made a spreadsheet of pros and cons and square footage and rent and I was just renting and I didn’t do any of that. It was amazing.
Nafissa Shireen: Well, when I bought the ranch here, it was funny because I just knew it was the right thing to do, but my husband was having major heart attacks. So I was able to do a very rudimentary type of spreadsheet, not the type I used to do before where I had all the mortgage, the renovation, the operating costs were, and I was a little biased to make it work. So I was still going on my gut. Not that I was dishonest in it, but it was really, I’d already made the decision. So now I was trying to, and I was going how do I quantify this because it really is kind of crazy what we’re doing, but I know it’s right. So I had to do that for him to calm him down a little bit. So it does come in handy sometimes I think.
Darla LeDoux: I love it. So talk a little bit about, you said three years ago you changed your mentor and things changed and I’m curious was that a shift related to doing more transformational work and possibly even leading to retreats in the ranch?
Nafissa Shireen: Well, I had no idea what I was going to be getting myself into to put it mildly. I just kind of knew I was stuck and I’d been doing a little bit of transformational work. Right. And I thought I was following that path, but I remember. So I sat there at my first VIP day with him and he says, “What do you want to be a coach or do you want to go play with your horses?” And I was so mad, I was so mad. I was like, “Why do I have to pick?” Right? He goes, “I didn’t say that you did.”
So it got me starting to think a different way about what if I brought the two together and I had already… I’m just going to digress here a second. I mean, I’ve had horses for quite a while and I had to go through my own, there was a whole journey to go through there. But just before that had happened, I had come across a book by a woman called Linda Kohanov. I’m not sure if you’re familiar with her or not. I’ve got her little card deck back here and she’s one of the pioneers in the equine assisted coaching field. And I read this book on vacation about how she had transformed into some of the lessons she has learned with horses. And one of the things that she had written in there was how horses react if you’re not emotionally congruent. It was quite a long story.
And then I had recently had experienced this in my own life with somebody who I knew that I’d taken over where I was boarding my horse to visit him and he wanted nothing to do with her. And I thought my horse was being quite rude. He was being very polite, but he wanted nothing to do with her. And he was okay with everybody else. And a few weeks later this girl, she’s okay now, but she did attempt suicide. And I realized when I read this book that he was picking up on her emotional incongruence. And that’s when I started to look at horses as really a vehicle for transformation. But I didn’t quite know what it was. So I came to this VIP day with this kind of… It wasn’t even in my conscious mind, but this is something I’d been reading, having an interest in. And so that was kind of the start of it, but it still wasn’t really a reality.
But as I had to step up to the coaching, the experience of being coached, some of the topics that would happen at some of the group events that just literally had my whole world like collide on the inside and push me every which way I could to the point I wanted to run and crawl under the table. I started to realize just how important it is to deal with that. Then I went on some retreats with him and his team and a whole bunch of other stuff came up and I started to realize how important the getting to the root of anything is, right? You’re always treating the symptom if you’re not dealing with the root cause and you’re not going to have long term effects. So that’s kind of where it started. And then shortly after that I started to discover where I could start to learn a little bit more about the equine-assisted coaching.
I was already doing my horsemanship. This brought in another aspect to it. So it’s been, I’d never say there was a time that it was like, okay, this is where I’m going. It just it’s always unfolded. Yeah.
Darla LeDoux: So I love the way you described that you felt like there were topics coming up where your worlds were colliding and on the inside of you and you wanted to crawl under the table.
Nafissa Shireen: Yes.
Darla LeDoux: Maybe people listening can relate to that. Maybe people listening are going, “Oh God, I hope that doesn’t happen for someone at my retreat.” Can you think of an example of like one of the topics and how it changed you?
Nafissa Shireen: Sure. So one of them, it was just totally had to do with sexuality and who we are and sexual expression. And I mean, I grew up in a very conservative, fundamentalist Christian cult. Like I was closed, right? So, I mean for me to be even talking about this here that wouldn’t have happened three years ago, right? And it’s still hard, but I had to sit there and I’m sitting there like, hey, I thought it was going to learn how to build my email list or something. Right? My brain was just not computing and I had to go through this.
Everyone in the room was comfortable with what we were talking about. I just was in tears wanting to crawl under the table, was texting my husband, what did I get myself into? I wanted to run screaming, but I didn’t. I was like, okay, I’m here for a reason and I’m going to stay with this and I’m going to learn what we’re being taught. And so that was kind of the start of it.
And then really understanding as things went on, just like my fears of rejection and not being good enough and my core wounds of being unlovable or being abandoned had no idea how deep they were because I can come off across pretty confident, but inside I’m not always that way. And how they were affecting me in the sales conversation, in my marketing, it just things I hadn’t even considered and it really was a lot to come to terms with to grow. And again, that’s not a journey that’s ever over. It’s something we’re always looking at.
Darla LeDoux: So just to go back to the conversation about sexuality coming up in the retreat, how might that just even being in that conversation, how was that helpful for you?
Nafissa Shireen: It really made me realize just how repressed I was. Not to sexually though, right? Like that’s just how you do one things, how you do everything.
It made me realize how emotionally bottled up I really was. How invulnerable I was willing to be. You wouldn’t hurt me admitting to any of this, three and a half years ago. Just not a chance. It made me realize that I had for a huge part of my life. And this is something that’s actually still ongoing because when you’re raised in a fundamentalist religion, it really does a number on your head. So it really made me realize how much control over my own life I was giving to other people because one of my biggest fears is what do people think of me. So it brought all that to light. I didn’t know it was dealing with all of that. Right. Because I’d had a certain amount of success in a different environment and logically speaking, I should’ve continued to have it but I didn’t.
So I realized this other environment, the corporate world is very much geared to giving your control over, giving your thoughts over, giving your obedience. Right? So, of course, I did well on that.
Darla LeDoux: Right. And that’s why it was easier to coach, right. Like here is the path.
Nafissa Shireen: Yeah. Exactly. Exactly. So it was a lot. Now discovering all those things I think would’ve been an eventuality anyways. I think just starting with the sexuality piece, it was like getting hit by a freight truck. It wasn’t like a gradual grow into it. Yeah. It was being hit by freight truck totally.
Darla LeDoux: Well, and so often I work with people who want to integrate retreats into the way they work and a lot of our people come from corporate and maybe similar to myself went to a lot of training and development in corporate, loved where I worked at Procter & Gamble there was a whole big training university and I always wanted to go to training because I enjoyed that process. But it’s all very surface, right? You learn the five steps and we would get little laminated index cards to stick in your wallet to remind you of when you’re in confrontation, follow this acronym or whatever.
We never got below as to why you were behaving that way, to begin with. So it makes total sense and there’s plenty of people who are coaches who don’t necessarily go there and do that deeper work. So I’m thinking you left corporate, you could have easily been one of those coaches, right. And gone back into corporate and sold your coaching incorporate and stayed kind of head up and like surface level. I would venture to say you were called to this deeper work?
Nafissa Shireen: I would agree. When I look back over my life, I’m not trying to play a victim here, I’m just looking at it logically. There were always these elements of creativity or spirituality coming outside of me outside of the religion or the family. But whatever I did was always crushed. Whether that was dance or music or pottery.
And so that was always in me and I was always known as a creative accountant. Like if you ask me what’s one plus one, I’d ask you what do you want it to be? I can make it anything. Right? That’s probably not something I should brag about.
Darla LeDoux: I was going to say that’s probably not a good thing…
Nafissa Shireen: But I could really come up with creative solutions. So when I look back and you connect the dots looking backward, I was always looking for a way to express creatively. And so mentoring people allowed me some of that. And I definitely feel that I was called to this because it never went away. It didn’t go away. And even today it gets stronger. Like how else can I learn? What else can I crack open so I can help other people?
And I remember though, and you have to be as a coach when you go there. And this was a really big learning experience for me because even though I felt like I was hit by a train that day, I was in a group setting and they had enough staff there to help me through it. Right? And I had been through a certain amount of personal development in my coaching and up till that point. So you have some familiarity with it. A few years ago when I first started this, I had a client come in and she was not in the coaching world at all. So she wasn’t used to some of the deep stuff we have to go to. And Darla we didn’t go that deep, but we went there. And she got up and left her VIP day. She’s like, “I’m going to vomit, I’m going to faint. I think it’s the lights.” And she left and I’m sitting there going, “Oh.”
That was not good, what just happened? But she thought we were going to work on spreadsheets and business practices…
Darla LeDoux: Yeah, the practical stuff.
Nafissa Shireen: And in two and a half years working together, she took her business from low six figures with almost no profit to multi seven. But that’s because she was willing to dig and go there.
Darla LeDoux: So she came back?
Nafissa Shireen: Not that day. Not to the VIP day. I just packed her stuff up, called my assistant said book her up again. But I learned you have to be very responsible holding that space too, and understand what that person’s nervous system can actually handle.
Darla LeDoux: Yeah. Wow. So I love this conversation because people might be thinking, well, what kind of retreat were you at? Whether they’re talking about sexuality, right. And some people listening are like, “Oh yeah, that’s what my retreat is about. I talk about it every day.” And some people are like, “Oh God, I hope that doesn’t happen at my retreat.” But that wasn’t necessarily what you came for. And by the way, I think we had the same mentor…
Nafissa Shireen: Yes we did.
Darla LeDoux: Who helped me come out on a retreat.
Nafissa Shireen: So you know what I’ve been through.
Darla LeDoux: On a side conversation on a retreat. So it is relevant. Sexuality is relevant, but that’s for another story. But it’s like one topic can impact each person in a different way. And for some people it might have been one thing. And for you it was really looking at all of these ways that you felt repressed from your upbringing.
Nafissa Shireen: Absolutely. Absolutely.
Darla LeDoux: There’s like that beauty in what happens on retreat.
Nafissa Shireen: Absolutely. Because it’s just a start, it’s the start of the digging of going deeper and it’s not always pleasant to go through it actually. In fact, it’s not pleasant at all. But what waits on the other side is just you think like, wait, what was I waiting for? Right. This is really cool.
Darla LeDoux: And the more you do it the more you know the signs and symptoms. Right. Like something good is coming. Okay. This is worth it.
Nafissa Shireen: Exactly. Exactly. Yeah. So that was like I said and I wasn’t expecting that. We’re going for the laws of the universe. I didn’t know we were studying the law of sexual transmutation that day. So there you go. But it was really just going deep, right? Going beyond the left brain and tapping into who you really are that you could be hiding. And I think that’s… I mean I’ve seen it with my clients too, so I know it works. It’s not just for me.
Darla LeDoux: Yeah. And our clients are always surprised because they think they’re going to get like, well, how do I book a venue? And what do I teach on day one? Which they do get. But before you can really be successful at any of that or even inviting someone to a retreat and risking rejection, you have to do that deeper work. And especially when you lead retreats. So someone could be listening and you could be leading a retreat and sexuality’s going to come up. Even if your topic is about accounting, it’s going to come up. So the more topics you’re comfortable with, because you’ve done your own work around your beliefs around them, the easier it’s going to be to lead. Have you found that to be true?
Nafissa Shireen: Absolutely. And I held a retreat once and it wasn’t a horror space retreat. It was one at a hotel and it wasn’t on the agenda and it came up and it was one of those things where I had to sit back from the agenda and let the conversation go where it needed to go. And there was a lot of healing that happened in that room and I had to hold that space and help these women through this. And all I could think about with my mentor if he could see me now. Right. Because who would’ve thought, right. And for me, even me, it was like an out of body. Like if I could see me now to hold that space because it actually did come up and that wasn’t our topic. I don’t remember what the topic was. It was a little more linear, but we went that way and it was the right thing to do.
Darla LeDoux: Yeah. And you’re talking about holding space and you mentioned that earlier. I remember you said something like I want to be able to hold that space because I want other people to hold it for me and I want to be able to do that for others. So let’s talk a little bit now about your journey into retreats and how you decided to hold space in that way and what that’s been like for you.
Nafissa Shireen: Oh my goodness. I mean this has been a huge journey because there’s that impostor syndrome piece that comes up like who am I to hold a space like this? The worrying, will it be good enough? Will people get their money’s worth? Will they have the transformation? And I know that’s putting too much emphasis on me versus the process in the room and the space and the magic that goes there. But when you’re in it where people, it comes up. So there was a lot of that and I really wanted to do the equine work with retreats. And getting to that point, I mean, who am I in that aspect is huge because as scary as it is to maybe go rent a room and hope people show up. I had to have horses, I had to have a property.
I don’t know, a lot of people probably don’t know this, but I used to be terrified of my own horse. The one you might see me on Facebook with all the time, I’m not scared of him at all now, but I wanted to do this when I was still afraid of my horse. I know that sounds crazy. So you talk about it being a calling because there is no logical explanation for that. Right. And I had to learn how to be a horseman. I had to be willing to in the horse world, step out of the traditional thought process of how horses are treated. And my start was international horsemanship. Be laughed at, have people tell me I’m crazy. You’re afraid of your horse now wait until he has a choice. Right. And not listen to all that. While I was boarding at a bar and that was very traditional. And then even within the natural-
Darla LeDoux: I want to understand what is it that you do differently than the traditional?
Nafissa Shireen: So a lot of the traditional horseman world is like show the horse who’s boss, let’s use a lot of tools, right? If they wanted the horse…
Darla LeDoux: Like pain.
Nafissa Shireen: Yeah, like the inflict pain. And it’s all about the term a broke horse. I mean think about that is a horse broke or not? That goes back to breaking their spirit. And these are good people, right? But it’s a very dominant based approach I guess is the Coles notes of it. With natural horsemanship, it’s relationship based. It’s trying to get the horse to the point where they want to. It’s about a two way communication. It’s giving the horse a choice.
I mean, sometimes they can’t have one and when it comes to safety, they’re going to do when they’re told, right? But we want the horse to feel very respected. And it’s not always about working. It’s about playing. It’s about quality time. And I’ve taken that another level and start to study a lot more energy with the horses, energetic horsemanship, conscious horsemanship, and taking it to a whole different level.
And so I’ll do things that a typical horse person wouldn’t do. Like my horse the other day, was the weather changed and he’s really… Now remember this is a horse that I was scared of. He’s really skittish and just being a little bit difficult. And so traditionally they would stick them on a lunch line. I’ll sometimes do that. That’s where you have the horse run around in circles on a rope.
I will not put a bit in his mouth for that, most people will, but I’m not going to hurt him that way because you’re yanking on it. Right. So typically that’s what you do to burn the energy off. And I thought, no, let me try something different. I just went and got a book and I sat down on the floor beside him while he was eating. Right. That’s not something you would ever see a traditional horse person do. Like sitting beside a horse on the floor where their hoofs could be. Right. And his mood changed in two hours just because I shared the space with him. So my approach is very different. So that was the first growing and being willing to be different in this community that I knew of horses because there’s such a social aspect to it.
Darla LeDoux: Thank you for sharing that. I had no idea.
Nafissa Shireen: Yeah it was huge.
Darla LeDoux: So parallels like what I see as the shift in leadership and how we do leadership in the world, the power over versus co-creation and everybody using their gifts.
Nafissa Shireen: This has been a huge driving force for me because I love this work but partly where I feel called as if there’s some way I can be a voice for the horse to be treated better. A lot of horses people will get horses and then when they’re not useful anymore because they can’t ride or their kid’s grown up or whatever, they get put to pasture or auctioned or it usually ends up the death for them. Almost every horse. Actually, every horse here is a rescue of one form or another that didn’t have anywhere else to go so I took them in because they don’t need to be riding horses.
Horses don’t need to ride. And so for me, that’s part of the bigger picture of my work is the acceptance of horses in our lives. Essentially beings that help us get to actualization, really fulfilling ourselves, because they can really give us a lot of feedback and information. So that was the first step. And that was hard. Like the very first time I actually had a private client retreat here and I put pictures up, I was getting text messages from the horse community, like, why wasn’t she wearing a helmet? Was that safe? Will your insurance cover that? And I mean…
Darla LeDoux: Oh wow.
Nafissa Shireen: Oh yeah. And there’s a time that would have broke me and I just said thank you for your concern. We’re good. I know what I’m doing. So that was a lot of growing. And then obviously buying this ranch was a huge, huge, huge growth step.
Nafissa Shireen: Having the money, having the guts, having the courage. We’d always lived in brand new houses. So buying a house from 1987, knowing that we’re going to renovate it. I mean there was just a lot of things we had to stretch in. And this was all about having the retreat space, being able to do this work and then renovating.
I remember when we first moved in, there was one day or hot water heater broke, so we didn’t have hot water for a week, in that week and it wasn’t a hot water tank, it was one of those nav things that you need a part to come in. We were having construction done, I fell on a sinkhole, it was freezing cold. I was standing up to here in mud and crud and can’t have a hot shower. And I’m like, my dreams come true. Right. It was just one of those days.
So there’s been a lot of growth. And then having those VIP days and having the first retreats. I mean it was like I put my whole heart and soul out into it. It was terrifying. Like what if nobody came? Right. And then the who am I to lead the retreat? And as a retreat leader you’re really looking out for everyone’s emotional safety. But I also have four other participants. The horse’s who’s emotional safety is important and the physical safety portion of it. So it was a really big, I didn’t realize just how big a calling or responsibility that was. So the first retreat, I was in bed for three days afterwards, I was so wiped.
Darla LeDoux: What advice do you have for someone when they’re in that place where it’s like, this is my calling and I’m here now. Truly where it’s like there’s the part of me that’s like, “Whoa, that is so cool.” And then the part me that’s like, “What that is too big.” You start to process through all of the steps for me of who I have become and it’s like, gosh, that’s going to really take something.
Nafissa Shireen: I think you just have to not think about it and just do it. Right. I remember so the next retreat when I went back with the same mentor, he was talking about quantum leaps and he was asking everybody in the room like, well, in one year from now, what will be a quantum leap for you? Right? And I couldn’t even come up with a dollar figure for him. Right. And I’m like, “I don’t know, I don’t know. I don’t know.” And then he goes, “Well, what do you want?” And I said, “I want to buy a horse ranch.” And he says, “Well, what is that going to cost?”
And I told him, he goes there is your quantum leap for the year. And I was like, “Okay, you’re right, dude. Got you.” And I laughed and I didn’t think about it. Right. And it was one year one day to that event that I had the paperwork signed on the sale of my other home and completion of this property. So it actually happened in a year.
Darla LeDoux: That’s amazing.
Nafissa Shireen: But it happened when I just stopped thinking about it and I called a realtor and then a property showed up and I just kept taking the steps and if I actually sat and thought about it, I wouldn’t be here. I had to go with that guy. Like this is right. This is right. This is right.
Darla LeDoux: Yeah. So let’s talk a little bit about how the horses facilitate transformation and how many retreats have you held at your place now if you count all the private?
Nafissa Shireen: I’ve had one group retreat, and I’ve had five private client retreats. So we’ve just launched this portion of the business. So I’m still growing into it.
Darla LeDoux: Would you say that you’ve grown with each person who visits?
Nafissa Shireen: Yes.
Darla LeDoux: Has there been something for you in every single one?
Nafissa Shireen: Absolutely. Every single one I learned something. I learned something about the horses. I learned something about myself. I learned about the energy of the space and even practical things I learned, right? Like, Oh, horse retreat season overlaps horse show season. So all of my farm hands are all gone competing. And I have nobody to shovel poop. Right. So I’m up at six doing it. But those are things I hadn’t even learned about. Right. But from the purposeful to the practical, there’s something at every retreat that I learned. So, yeah.
Darla LeDoux: And you said there was one where nobody knew what time it started.
Nafissa Shireen: Okay. That wasn’t a horse retreat. That was one at a hotel. And we all had the time started. But my assistant had told everybody to meet at one place, didn’t tell me that. And I’m waiting and it’s 10 o’clock and nobody’s there. It’s five minutes after, it’s 10 after, it’s quarter after, my core wound is unlovable and abandonment. And it got triggered every which way from Sunday. And I was so blind to it that I actually went out in this hotel and I was on this mezzanine and I looked down in the lobby and they were all sitting there, all of them. And I went, that’s not my group. Where is everybody? I didn’t even see them. I was that triggered. Yeah. And I had to work through it all like really, really fast.
Darla LeDoux: Okay. So how did you work through it really, really fast.
Nafissa Shireen: I don’t even remember. I was just like, get it together. They’re all here. You’re fine. We’ll skip this show on the road. Right. And I had to go have a glass of water, sit down. And I had everybody come in and I just said, “Hey everyone, I’m really sorry about the mix up in communication. Tell me what happened for you out there when I didn’t show up.” And I just turned it around.
Darla LeDoux: And as they processed it probably processed through for you too.
Nafissa Shireen: Yeah. And it ended up being a great two days.
Darla LeDoux: And that’s great guidance. If something’s coming up for you as the leader, probably someone else in the room is feeling it and needs that question.
Nafissa Shireen: Yeah, I would agree.
Darla LeDoux: Yeah. That’s awesome. So we just have a few more minutes and I want to know what do you want people know if they’re kind of afraid or unfamiliar with horses about how that work is, and I have brought clients to do equine therapy on retreat before. So I have a sense of it. But what would you share with people?
Nafissa Shireen: Well, I would say that our fears kind of show up everywhere. The same fear is going to show up everywhere. Yes, with horses there’s a physical component, but I mean you’re just as safe as you are on an airplane because you’ve got to trained professional there.
So yeah, there’s always a risk with anything. But what I think is really cool is whatever’s hiding in that reptilian brain of yours that is showing up on sales calls, whatever that belief is or what’s holding you back from setting a boundary or whatever is in that brain is going to come up so fast in front of a horse, because you’ll be really scared. And it’s going to come out in a very safe way, both physically and emotionally, that you can have a huge, huge transformation with it. There’s so much I could say about how I know we only have a few minutes left, but how horses actually facilitate this, but if you’re afraid of horses…
Darla LeDoux: They reflect our energy, right?
Nafissa Shireen: Absolutely. They’re prey animals. And so they’re all about energy. And if you’re not congruent, they’ll call you out on it. And it can be really confronting.
I have a little pony who’s adorable and if your energy is not congruent, he wants nothing to do with you. And he looks at you, he literally sneers and walks away. And I know that this person at that point is in their head or they’re processing or they’re not having admitted their own truth and he can’t handle it. He’s so energy sensitive.
Darla LeDoux: And then when you get that information, where do you go with that?
Nafissa Shireen: Well, what’s really fascinating is I have to get out of the way. It’s not up to me at that point. It’s up to the person and the horse. I can facilitate a coaching session. And so for doing active exercises in groups or teamwork or cooperation, that’s one thing. But when we’re in a reflective layer, peeling session, I got to check my ego at the door like I get out of the arena.
Well, I mean I stay off to the side because I’m there for safety but and let the horse do their work. And when you leave a person to have a reflective session with the horse, the HeartMath Institute did a study where it shows how horses affect our heart rate variability. They can help us get into that parasympathetic state where we are at our most relaxed, most true. Truth start to come out. And I especially love doing this with my pony because he’s very sensitive. I had one client one day who was so in her head and he wouldn’t come near her and we did a few questions and I just laughed and let them do their thing and I could see where she was coming to you. And then she said something where she thought she wanted to go.
So I invited her to stick with that thought, to visualize what it would be like if she could be there and I left. Within five minutes I saw her whole body change and in that time my pony came over to her. She was sitting down in the paddock and he licked her from head to toe. He never does that, goosebumps.
Darla LeDoux: Wow.
Nafissa Shireen: So, and then what came out of that was what she really was meant to be doing and she changed her whole business on the spot. That was really cool. Yeah.
Darla LeDoux: Wow. That’s amazing.
Nafissa Shireen: Yeah.
Darla LeDoux: Okay. So I know people want to learn more and you have a gift for people. Could you share a little bit about that?
Nafissa Shireen: Yes, I do have a gift. It’s an audio training on how you can add six figures to your income. I mean, that’s a cliche number, but it’s really about taking that step and multiplying to what you want to do. And it’s not a six or seven-step formula. It’s about what my clients have done, what I’ve done on a personal, energetic, emotional level to become that person. So it’s an audio training that I did and they can have that.
Darla LeDoux: Awesome. And where can they find that?
Nafissa Shireen: It’s nafissashireen.com/6figures.
Darla LeDoux: Beautiful. And then if they go to your main website, can they learn about your next horse retreat as well?
Nafissa Shireen: They will. We’re just getting them all set up for next summer. So we’ve been looking at places for hospitality and stuff because we have to board people. So they will soon, but yeah they go to my website it’ll be there, but if they get the free gift, they’ll get an email.
Darla LeDoux: They’ll be on your list and they’ll get that announcement. Beautiful.
Nafissa Shireen: Yeah.
Darla LeDoux: Nafissa, thank you so, so much for being here. Thank you for doing this work in the world.
Nafissa Shireen: Thank you, Darla.
Darla LeDoux: know it’s made an impact for people so thanks so much.
Nafissa Shireen: Thank you for having me.
Darla LeDoux: Bye-bye.
Nafissa Shireen: Bye.
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