Sue Hollis, author of Riding Raw, lived in the fast lane. She was juggling a high powered career, she was a super mom, and she was always striving for perfection. But in spite of her external success, inside, she felt a deep emptiness.
So she left her old life in the dirt and got on a super-bike named Voodoo to set off on a 15,000 mile journey to discover what it really takes to feel fulfilled. In this episode, Sue shares her incredibly true story off her 83 day solo journey across North America.
She had adventures on glaciers and in roadhouses, and she offers a candid and vulnerable look at what it took for her to really let go, change her story, step out of fear and learn how to love herself. If you’ve been searching for what it means to have it all, this episode is for you.
Sue Hollis: I guess my story began a long time ago. I had always been a serious corporate hitter for many years. I worked for Global Airlines, and it gave me amazing opportunities to travel the world and to live in incredible places. I’d loved that career. It had been the absolute focus of my attention. Nothing came before my career.
Eventually I got to a place where I felt that my soul was starting to seep away. That was a real shock for me, because I’d always been the career at all costs person. Something dawned on me one day, that my values were becoming more important than the next promotion.
“I had to answer that question inside me.”
It meant that I actually left that corporate world behind and I stepped into to embrace the kind of crazy world of entrepreneurship. I really wanted to start my own business because I felt in the corporate environment I’d lost control. I wanted to create something really special that had a great culture, to do great things to people, do great things for clients. That basically, gave me an environment that was fulfilling for me. The corporate world hadn’t been.
I started my own company, and it eventually became a multimillion dollar business, which was probably beyond my wildest dreams. It was not something I envisioned, particularly the first two years when my kids had nothing but mince, literally for two years. Because we had no money. (I think you guys call it hamburger.)
A Life of Adrenaline
Charlie Hoehn: What was your company that you started?
Sue Hollis: Our company was called Travel Edge, and it started off as a corporate travel management organization. By the time I stepped away from it, It had become five separate companies, employing 150 people, doing a range of different corporate company environments.
It had become a multimillion dollar business by the time I stepped away from it after fifteen years.
Charlie Hoehn: You stepped away from it and what happened?
Sue Hollis: Well, I guess the thing is that on the outside, it looked like I was living the perfect life. There’s no two ways about it. I had an amazing career, an incredible business, a beautiful family, two great sons, and a really understanding—some would probably say long suffering—husband.
I had incredible financial security. I lived a very privileged lifestyle.
“On top of it all, I had adrenaline.”
I raced motorbikes, I ran marathons, I dived with sharks. I was living a really crazy, wild, brilliant life on the outside.
But on the inside, it was a really different story. Internally, I was a real mess. I was absolutely running scared.
Now that I’m able to look back at it, I can understand that there was no self-love in my life. I just didn’t believe in myself. I never felt that I was enough, and it didn’t matter what I achieved.
That voice—and I know so many of us have heard that voice—that voice in my head just kept telling me that I wasn’t enough, I wasn’t smart enough, I wasn’t successful enough, I wasn’t good enough, thin enough, pretty enough. The challenge that I found in not honoring myself was that I had to find validation elsewhere. I had to find it from someone else or through something else.
“To kind of keep that voice quiet in my head, I just kept pushing harder and harder.”
I kept looking for the next success, the next goal, the next achievement. But it was manic. It may just kind of made it worse, because I had to work harder, faster, longer just to hold it all together.
Inside, I felt like a real fraud, I felt like I’d found kind of fell into my career through luck and good management and a bit of smoke and mirrors.
I felt like everything I’d created happened through bluffing. There wasn’t an ounce of talent involved. To be honest, every morning I got up and was absolutely terrified that the life I’d created was just an illusion, and that any minute I’d be found out and the whole thing would come crashing down.
I guess, no matter what I did, I was just never enough. That’s how it all started.
Keeping It All Together
Charlie Hoehn: That narrative is extremely common among the uber successful. How did you really come into that awareness and eventually crack?
Sue Hollis: I think one of the things that I’ve discovered is that the universe has an amazing way of bringing you to your knees. Just when you least expect it—or probably when you need it most.
My life was seriously careening out of control. Work defined me. My whole identity was tied to my job. Not just my whole identity but my whole purpose, my whole reason for being, my whole value to the world was literally tired up in my business card.
“With that came this insane need to be constantly perfect in all areas of my life.”
I guess I just wasn’t being confident and being loved to accepted for who I was. I had to be perfect. So that meant the perfect mom. You know what it’s like—any mom suffers guilt whether you go back to work or whether you stay home, you’re always guilty that you’ve made the wrong choice for your child.
It doesn’t matter whatever decision you make, you always feel that you’ve made the wrong one. I think any mother that goes to work has this incredible guilt—will you children grow up to be axe murderers because you haven’t given them the amount of time that they need?
Fortunately, my boys are 21 and 23, and I can safely say they’ve not become axe murderers. You know, we kind of survived that.
Charlie Hoehn: Good job.
Sue Hollis: Good job mom. She did it. It’s a really horrific time, and you’re surrounded by guilt in all areas. You’re guilty because you don’t feel that you’re giving enough to work, and you’re guilty because you don’t fully give enough to your child.
It’s just completely debilitating. As a result, you know, as a mother, the boys have come home at night and in the bottom of their bag, they’d find a note that says, “Cakes needed for the cake stall tomorrow. Packet cakes not accepted.”
Frankly, given my cooking skills, packet cakes would have been, infinitely, a much better choice. But there at midnight, I’m coming home trying to make homemade cakes or building dioramas or sewing buttons on clean shirts because they were the only shirts that they had.
“I would not let my boys go outside and not be perfect.”
Again, because of the pressure from other moms, apart from anything else.
Charlie Hoehn: Yeah, that’s the other thing is if you’re with a certain group of moms, they can hamstring you and guilt you into not being even more perfect.
Sue Hollis: Absolutely. It’s a vicious circle, you know? I would leave meetings and go and read at school or run the sports classes and I was the soccer coach…Nobody was going to accuse me of not being the perfect mom.
But I did have that guilt and that pain, and that pressure comes from all areas of your life, whether you should be less selfish and sacrifice your career to bring these two little people up in the world, to other moms who are just waiting, frankly, with swords and spears ready to dig in to your armor because you have made that choice to also have a career.
Coping with Perfection
Sue Hollis: When I look back at that time in my life, it was really difficult, but I just kept pushing through it. I had to be the perfect mom, I had to be the perfect athlete.
I was up at 4:30 in the morning training.
I guess my answer to everything was throw myself into a physical challenge, so it was triathlons and marathons and hundred-kilometer walks.
Adrenaline became a serious issue for me.
The problem with adrenaline is you become acclimatized to it. So you get one hit and you go, “Well, that’s amazing.” Then the next time, you’ve just got to push it further and further.
Charlie Hoehn: I know, it’s so true, it’s bizarre. And it’s really pronounced when the first time you do a few extreme sports back to back. The first time you’re like kind of high for five hours and then the second time, it’s over half an hour or something.
Sue Hollis: Yeah, it is. You get to the place where it’s going to be more dangerous, it’s gotten scarier, it’s got to be more terrifying. That just makes it incredibly difficult. You just can’t stop. It just continues to feed you.
“It made me present.”
While I was terrifying the life out of myself, I got to forget about everything else. Adrenaline became a seriously major drug for want of a better word. I lived in total warrior mode. I was just ready to fight at all times.
Because that’s where I was safe.
I put my shields up, my swords were sharpened.
Charlie Hoehn: Yeah, you were fight or flight.
Sue Hollis: Absolutely. To be honest, you know, kind of look back at that personal and go, “My god, I don’t think she was really a nice person.” I’m not so sure I actually liked who she was.
Charlie Hoehn: Right, I’m curious too, how many people do you suspect knew the truth about you deep down that, hey, you were having a tough time?
Sue Hollis: No one, Charlie, because I would not allow myself to be vulnerable to ever admit to not being perfect—to not having it all under control, to really having all of my shit together in all areas of my life.
Even my husband, bless him, he was great. But he’d say, “Slow down, you need to meditate.”
I’ve got to tell you, telling me to meditate—I mean, that was as bad as sticking needles in my eyes. He was trying to do all the right things, and he could see it, but I would never admit it. I could never admit to the fact that I knew deep down inside, my life was falling apart.
If I just kept pushing and moving, then I wouldn’t have the space to ask myself the tough question, which was, “How’s this working for you?”
It really wasn’t.
Something for the Stress
Charlie Hoehn: Yeah. At what point did you break down? Because you can’t be the person you are today without breaking down.
Sue Hollis: No, there’s always a breakdown involved, isn’t there? Just when you think you hit rock bottom, you suddenly realize you’ve probably got about another three levels to go. I guess I reached the point where I started to understand that my life was starting to really hang by a thread.
I knew it wasn’t sustainable. Stuff was starting to fall apart around me.
I was getting really stale, and we were going through a really tough time in our business at that point. I was working with a great business partner, but you know, sometimes business partnership is like a marriage. Sometimes you start wanting different things out of a business, and my business partner and I certainly had started to change the way we both wanted to take the business. That was starting to cause some stress within the business itself.
To be honest, I’d been in the business for nearly sixteen years, and I was getting tired and stale.
“You just can’t keep operating like this.”
Eventually, you do start to lose your edge, and I felt like I was losing my edge.
I just felt like the business needed more than I had to give it. We were at a difficult time, and I was starting to not have the energy to pull this through. That had never happened in my life.
I started getting sick, which again, when you’re a fearless warrior and a fearless athlete and a vegan and you’re fit and healthy, you never get sick. But man, I got sick.
I went down with pneumonia, serious pneumonia. I was having very bad insomnia. I got ulcers which just weren’t healing, and the doctor basically, said to me, “If you don’t start addressing this, this is starting to start concern us. It’s starting to look cancerous. You’ve got to start doing something.”
After really a long session with him, he suggested that I have some stress medication.
That started to blow me out of the water because, I mean, I was just invincible. I couldn’t believe that I was actually starting to be one of those people that potentially needed medication to calm me down.
The Breakdown in the Bathroom
Charlie Hoehn: One of those human beings that needs sleep and –
Sue Hollis: Yeah. Who would have thought? All of these things were starting to compound and you know, when I look back now, you can see all the chunks starting to fall apart. But at the time, it was one of those things where I just kept thinking.
I mean, I’ve always lived by the phrase toughen up princess.
Charlie Hoehn: Where did that come from?
Sue Hollis: That’s a whole different book, but it was kind of a fundamental belief. So, in my head, if I’m the perfect warrior, if you just keep pushing harder and harder, you get through it.
But the universe kind of looked at me and must have gone, “You know what? Okay, enough now.” Literally.
I mean, it kind of came crashing down in the bathroom. I kind of wonder why all epiphanies seem to happen in bathrooms. I’m figuring maybe it’s the lighting in there at 4:00 in the morning.
Charlie Hoehn: Or it’s the only private room in the house.
Sue Hollis: You know what? It certainly is in my place. I got up to go for a run in the morning. I was the 4:30 in the morning trainer. The alarm would go off, and I’d never consider anything else. My feet had hit the ground, I’d throw my stuff on and I would just run.
I got up that morning and I couldn’t do it.
I was trying to put my running clothes on, and most of your women listeners will appreciate this: I had a stunning, Lululemon top on. They’re amazing, but you actually needed a degree in origami sometimes to put these tops on.
I just couldn’t. I had arms and legs going everywhere, I could not put it on. I was fighting it and fighting it. All of a sudden, I stopped fighting and I literally just slumped to the ground and the tears started to fall.
“I knew I was done.”
I knew this couldn’t continue. The tears were just falling an falling.
This voice came out of nowhere, it’s the only way that I can describe it. It was so clear and it just said, “Enough. Enough now. Just quit.”
To this day, I can still hear this voice in my head. It was, you know, the confusion was just…what? Quit what? Quit life, quit crying, quit banging my head on the tiles on the floor?
What is it I’m supposed to quit?
I just kind of sat there in silence. Eventually I stopped and I realized, I had to quit this life that I was living. It was killing me. I literally got up off the floor, I went back into the bedroom. I said to my husband, “I have to quit.”
I had a shower, I went back into work, and right then and there, I called my amazing business partner who was on holidays at the time, and I said, “I quit. I have to leave but I don’t know how, I don’t know what this means, I don’t know what we’re going to do.”
What Comes Next?
It’s one thing to quit your job—it’s a very different thing to quit your own company. But I knew I had to stop this madness. I had to define some space. I needed to breathe. I needed to be alone. I needed to find out who I really was if I pulled out all the scaffolding of my life that I’d carefully erected around me to protect me.
Literally, on the spot, I left my business.
It us a little while to find a CEO, to take over my role in the business, but I walked away from it. I knew I had to do something very different if I was going to find who I was really meant to be and if I was going to survive in this world.
“Actually—not to survive in this world, but really thrive.”
Charlie Hoehn: The bathroom breakdown. I have had myself, so I hear you. It’s beautiful that you can still hear the voice and that it was so simple.
Sue Hollis: Yeah, it was. Without a doubt, it was the moment that changed my life. I can’t imagine what my life would be now if I hadn’t had that, because I just would have imploded. There’s no two ways about it.
I was literally hanging by a thread. My life would not have been sustainable in its current form. Something would have had to give.
I would have got seriously sicker or, you know, who knows? But I know that those words, those simple, clear words, literally saved my life as well as changed it.
Charlie Hoehn: What happened next?
Sue Hollis: I walked out and I quit my job, and there was an incredible sense of relief. I knew that I’d done the right thing. That feeling of confidence probably lasted all of about, I’m guessing about 32 seconds before, “Holy shit, now what? Now what?”
That seemed like such a good idea at that time. Now what? I went back to my old kind of format, you know, kind of the safe place for me. So what do I do now to find myself? Do I climb Kilimanjaro, do I ice walk across the North Pole—what do I do?
I couldn’t work out what I needed to do to find myself in this world. For quite a few weeks, I was in quite a state of conundrum. I remember saying, “Okay, well where are you now, voice?”
It was great to tell me enough now, quit. But now I seriously need your help. Where are you now? Amazingly, turns out that voice was there all along. I woke up literally one morning at 2:00 in the morning and two words, clear as day: “Go ride.”
Of course. How did I not know this? I’ve been on a motorbike all of my life. I’ve been riding since I was 16. That is my happy place. That’s where I am seriously at one with me and the core me.
“It was so simple. Go ride.”
I woke my husband up and said, “That’s it. I’ve got to go ride.”
He went, what? Now? It’s 2:00 in the morning.
I went, no, I need to get a new bike, I’m going to go to Canada, go to the US and I’m going to sit on this bike and I’m just going to ride till I can find out who it is that I’m meant to be.
That was the plan. That was the only part of the plan that made any sense, and that’s exactly what I did. I just took off and I went to ride until I had the courage to kind of say to myself.
I am enough. In fact, I’m actually more than enough.
On the Road
Charlie Hoehn: Wow. How long were you on the road?
Sue Hollis: Just on three months.
Charlie Hoehn: Three months, that’s a good stretch, that’s no joke. You went from, it looks like, Whistler in Canada, all the way to Washington, Oregon, California, Utah, Wyoming, back to Washington and all the way back to British Columbia, right?
Sue Hollis: Whistler seemed like a natural place to start for me for my journey. My oldest son was working as a cinematographer out of Whistler, and we – my family, my boys and I had lived in Vancouver for a couple of years. That seemed like a great place to start.
To be on a bike for five, 600, four, five, 600 kilometers a day is a really exhausting thing to do for your body, you know? Because you are battling winds and rain and snow and heat and dust and it is a very physically demanding thing to do. And I am quite short—I’m 5’2”—so I am not necessarily a big person.
The most sensible option for me in terms of a motorbike would be a big BMW, a cruiser, a bike that is used to going on the road. You sit upright, you’ve got a big fuel tank, your back is protected, your arms are protected.
So that made a lot of sense. But true to form, it was all about the look and the feel before any kind of sense.
So I bought a super bike. A complete 1000cc BMW race bike—the fastest production bike in the world—and she was gorgeous.
She was my home, she was my partner in crime, she was my safe place for three months.
“Her name was Voodoo.”
I call her Voodoo because she was dark and mysterious and she would certainly bite me if I didn’t have my shit together.
Together, we spent three months, a little bit into Canada and then drop into Washington, Oregon, California, crossing into Utah, Colorado, back into Utah, then Wyoming, Montana and back. I am not sure what it is in miles, but about 23,000 kilometers, which is a lot of time on a motor bike.
Charlie Hoehn: Yeah, it definitely is, and for those curious, that is 14,000 miles on motor bike, which is wild. So Sue, tell me the story about the trucks. You went to visit your youngest son.
Sue Hollis: When you are on a journey like this, there are certain points in the time and in the journey where you start to congratulate yourself. When you start to say, “You know what? I am getting this. This is making sense. I’m really taking these lessons on board and I am really, really learning this stuff.”
And then something will happen that will set you back. You suddenly realize that you are continually a work in progress. You don’t just get the lessons, you have to live the lessons to learn the lessons. Towards the end of the journey, my oldest son, Jakey had been filming in Jackson, Wyoming. I was in Utah at the moment, and there was an opportunity for me:
If I really hightailed it out of Utah very quickly and did a very, very long trip, spending a lot of time in the road, I would actually have the opportunity to spend a couple of days with him. It was about 800 kilometers that I had to travel.
But to be honest, that is a really long way on a motor bike, particularly given the kind of terrain that I had to cover. It was icy mountain passes, where I knew it would be snowing and unbelievably cold.
“The higher you get, funnily enough, the colder it gets.”
I was starting to freeze on this motorbike. I was getting snow and ice. But I guess the thing is let no distance come between a mama and one of her cubs.
So in my head, I was really confident that I could make this journey pretty simply. But the first day was actually diabolical. The conditions were horrific. It was rain, it was ice, it was snow. When I got in that night, I was completely exhausted. I was absolutely toasted.
Sue Hollis: Being a vegan, sometimes it’s hard to find good food on the road, and the reason I chose this motel was that they had this great sign that said, “all you can eat salad buffet.” That is like heaven on a stick for me.
So I pulled in there, but only to find that all you could eat salad had already been eaten by everybody else. There was no food. So the night before what I refer to as the incident actually happened, I’ve gone to bed cold and exhausted and absolutely physically spent.
“I was emotionally drained, and I had no food.”
So the next working I woke up, and it was minus three Celsius. It was absolutely freezing.
If I had an ounce of brain in my head, I would have gone, “It’s too cold. I just can’t go. I know I want to meet Jakey, but the conditions are just horrific and I really need not to ride today.”
So I went outside and I looked at the bike and the bike was completely frozen over, which is not a good sign, and every time I poured hot water over to defrost it, she would just freeze up again. It was that cold.
I was getting messages from lots of friends who knew I was making that trip, and they were basically saying, “Well just wait until it gets warmer,” but I was looking at my iPhone and it wasn’t going to get any warmer for hours. If I didn’t go then, I wouldn’t get a chance to see Jakey.
I seriously hemmed and hawed about whether I went or whether I didn’t. Yet again, as I sat thinking about it and contemplating it, those famous words toughen up princess just came through. I thought. “I am going.”
Sue Hollis: The thing is, when you’re on a bike and you are cold, it’s incredibly dangerous, because your fingers start to freeze and your fingers control the bike.
They control your brake, they control your clutch, they control your acceleration. If you can’t feel your fingers, you can’t feel any of those three, which means that you will over accelerate or over brake.
“It is just incredibly dangerous, and I knew that.”
As I started to gear up, I had one saving grace, which was a heated vest that actually clicks into my bike. It gave me a little warmth, but the connection on that vest had been playing out for a couple of days. Sure enough, the day that I needed that the most, when I went to plug it into the bike, the connection snapped.
Meaning I had zero heat on my bike. At minus three, I can’t begin to describe how cold that is. So I had a choice, I could stay or I could go. True to form, I choose to go, thinking that it would just get warmer as the day got better. It would warm up. And it didn’t. It just got colder.
Eventually, a huge fog started to descend on me. Fog is one of the worst things you can have on a bike, because it doesn’t matter how many layers you get on.
Fog has these incredible fingers that just find their way through every layer until they find bare skin, and then that bare skin completely freezes.
“I know now I was actually suffering from hypothermia.”
Now I understand the consequences of hypothermia, I understand that I was completely hypothermic. I had these voices in my head that kept saying, “Pull over, this is crazy, this is dangerous. Pull over, warm up, have a coffee.” But I was obsessed.
I had gone straight back into warrior mode, despite all the great lessons that I thought I’d learned about letting that warrior go. I went straight back into warrior mode. I was just pushing through, no matter what. It was incredibly dangerous.
With the fog, I couldn’t see a thing in my visor. So my visor was fogging up on the inside and on the outside. Again—a tricky thing to have to happen to you when you are on a bike, not being able to see.
My whole body was literally just shaking with cold on the bike. I could barely cling onto the tank on the bike and had to ride with the visor out because I just couldn’t see. So that’s an incredibly dangerous position to be on a bike.
Sue Hollis: What I learned about hypothermia is that not only does it freezes your body, but it also freezes your brain. So you make very, very bad decisions when you are in a position of literally being frozen to your core.
I sat behind a very, very big, kind of twelve-wheeler truck. I mean it was probably only for about three minutes, but it felt like about three hours. When you sit behind a truck, you are sucked into the vortex. So, I am a small person on a very big bike, and it was just throwing us all over the road. Grit and dirt and frost and snow and ice was just continually being thrown over me. I knew I had to get past this truck or I was literary going to be put the bike down the road. I mean sitting behind it was incredibly dangerous.
“I figured that I had to go, so I pulled out to get past this thing.”
With a really big truck, you’ve really got to have a lot of space to get past him, even on a super bike. I pulled out and I could see a truck coming towards me, but I figured that I have plenty of room, I’ve got enough gas to go on this. It is going to be tight, but I can make it, as I pulled out, I suddenly realized that, the day before, I actually left the bike on what’s called rain mode.
Rain mode is a mode that you leave the bike in if you’re—funnily—out in rain. It keeps your traction but it drops your power capacity. I had left it in rain mode, foolishly. So when I went to gun this bike, I got nothing, zero.
“She just did not take off.”
I looked up, and I suddenly realized that the gap I had figured was that had been enough was nowhere near enough. This truck was coming at me incredibly fast, and I suddenly realized I didn’t have enough power and I didn’t have enough space to get through.
I’ve always thought to myself, the last two words that I wanted to say in my life would be, “Oh fuck!” as you careen into something on a bike.
Charlie Hoehn: And now you were given that opportunity:
Sue Hollis: I suddenly realized that was about to become a reality, and there was only one thing I could do—that was to try and tuck in incredibly tightly alongside the truck that I was trying to overtake. That was the only space that I had as this truck was about to hurdle past me.
Fortunately, the truck that I was overtaking must have saw me in my mirrors. He braked and gave me just enough space to scoot past him and miss the oncoming truck. But it was literally so close that I swear to God I saw the color of the other driver’s eyes.
And the speed of his vortex, the wind from his vortex knocked me all over the road. It was all I could do to basically control this bike. But it was, probably more, all I could do to control myself.
“I knew I had been literally seconds away from being the cheese in a two-truck sandwich.”
Fortunately there was a road house literally just a couple of hundred meters away. So I pulled in and got off my bike, and I just sat.
I was absolutely shaking with fear, with adrenalin, with every emotion known to man. As I sat there shaking, all of a sudden I felt this incredible warm hand on my shoulder. I turned and looked at the hand. These fingers were an enormous bunch of bananas, and there was a guy, a truck driver, standing alongside me.
He just looked at me and he went, “Awful close out there, missy. Are you okay?” It was the truck driver that I had over taken.
He had come in behind me just to check if I was okay, and he bought me a coffee. We didn’t say a lot. I mean he wasn’t big on words, and I couldn’t speak.
“He sat with me until I stopped shaking.”
I mean he must have been with me for probably 40 minutes. He sat with me until I warmed up, until I stopped shaking. Then he leaned over and he gave me a big hug and he just said to me, “You might want to think about slowing down a little, huh?”
Charlie Hoehn: Words of wisdom. Words to live by really.
Sue Hollis: Absolutely. It was incredible. In those words, he summed up my whole life.
That whole incident summed up everything about my life—going too fast, going too hard, hearing all the warning signs and choosing to ignore them, thinking that I was invincible and being prepared to compromise and sacrifice everything for a ridiculous goal. Those words just summed up my whole life.
You might want to think about slowing down a little, you reckon? An incredible, powerful lesson.
Finding Heart Success
Charlie Hoehn: And there is a whole bunch of lessons in the book but I want to talk about head success and what you learned about that. Tell me that.
Sue Hollis: Yeah, I think that was probably the most powerful and I guess overriding lesson in the whole book. It’s important to celebrate head success, but it is absolutely critical to embrace heart success, and I guess what I mean by that is my whole life had been about head success.
It had been about goals and achievement and targets and acquisitions, and that’s fine. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that, so long as that’s not what defines you. That was my challenge.
Because my whole value, my whole worth was completely linked to those traditional measures of success. What I found is that that’s never enough to fulfill you. You just get one, and then you need the next, and the next, and the next…No matter how much head success that you get, you are still hungry. You still feel empty.
“It actually meant that my life didn’t have meaning.”
I must be a really slow learner, because I can tell you what—I’ve got these lessons again and again and again and again. For me, it was actually that, to find real fulfillment in life, you have to find heart success.
Heart success for me became connecting with my body, connecting with my mind, and more importantly connecting with my soul and the world around me. It became about connecting with who I really was deep down inside and that is actually a really scary place for most of us.
We don’t give ourselves the time, the space to ask those really tough questions—who are we really? but When you do that work, that’s when the magic happens.
Hard success for me became about living my purpose and living the life that I was meant to live. For me, just like I was saying on the book, it really was the journey from empty to full.
We’re in This Together
Charlie Hoehn: That’s right, and the biggest lesson that you took away, was that we’re all one, right?
Sue Hollis: So many lessons I think from all of this, I mean one of the most powerful probably I think the top three is that, number one, we are all connected. I had spent my whole life being about me. It was about me and my success. Sure, other people are involved, but it was about me and my success and my achievements and what that meant to my own validation.
I guess the biggest lesson that I learned from this is it is not about me. It’s about we.
We are all connected. I spent my whole life trying to be my business card. What I found when I went on the road was nobody cared what I have done, what I have achieved, who I had been—that I had a business card that opened doors and made me look really important. Nobody ever talks about that. They didn’t care.
All they wanted to do was connect to the smelly, dirty Australian that was sitting on a super bike and wanted to learn about my journey and to tell me about theirs.
The greatest joy that I actually had from this whole journey was connecting with people in gas stations, in coffee shops, by the side of the road, everywhere I went. I was truly honored that people were open and honest and wanted to share their lives with me and enable themselves to be vulnerable to tell me their life story.
I mean, goodness knows why, probably because they figured who was I going to tell. I was never going to see them again. So probably safe telling me their greatest secrets and their biggest fears and their most important dreams. But to have those moments of connection with people day in and day out was absolutely breathtaking for me.
To be honest, the second was that it’s okay not to have all the answers. I didn’t have all the answers.
I put a lot of pressure on myself on this trip to have the answers. In true warrior format, I figured that three months in the bike, three months in my home, I would get off the bike. I would know what the next step was, what my journey was, what I was going to be doing next—and I didn’t. I didn’t know that. That was the lesson. It’s okay to not know where the final destination you’re on the journey but it’s about surrendering and surrendering is not about giving in.
“It’s about relinquishing control and surrendering to the unknown.”
This journey was all about the unknown. I had no idea who I was going to be when I got off that bike, but I knew I had to just go in and find that person, whoever she might be. I guess the third lesson was we can change our stories.
We are not the stories that we tell ourselves.
I told myself I was a warrior, I was an athlete, I was perfect—I got to change those stories in about three months.
I chose to let those stories go and to create new stories in their place. New stories that really did help me fulfill my life and I guess they are the three biggest lessons that I learned in this journey.
A Challenge from Sue Hollis
Charlie Hoehn: I’ve got two more questions for you, one how can our listeners follow you? How can they connect with you?
Sue Hollis: I have now, it has taken me a little whole after this journey, but I’ve suddenly realized that that my purpose in life now is to be a coach. To work with people who are basically feeling empty and would like to know how to feel full in their lives.
So people can connect with me on suehollis.com and on my website, it is obviously about sharing my journey. It is about setting myself up as an opportunity to coach people.
But it is a place where I want to share all the lessons that I have learned and to be able to share resources and tools and information to help people on their own journey to finding themselves.
Charlie Hoehn: Lovely, can you give our listeners a challenge, something maybe they could do today or this week that you would typically coach someone to do?
Sue Hollis: Yeah, I think one of the most profound things that I have learned when we come back to talking about being connected. It’s the double header which brings the power of setting intentions with the power of connection. So every day on my journey, and now every day in my life, I would stop my day by setting an intent. An intent is basically setting the tone for the day.
“It is about being clear on how we want to show up for the day and what is it that you want to achieve.”
Most days, I would set the intent to connect with all of those people around me. To be really open and to open my heart to connect with everybody that was around me and the powerful lesson that I learned was that the energy that you receive back when you connect is literally double the energy that you put out. It is a conscious choice.
We could all make the conscious choice when we get our coffee ion the morning to say thank you, but we don’t make the connection. We walk past someone in the street and avert our eyes, avert our gaze, don’t take the opportunity to make the connection.
When we do take that opportunity to connect, the power and the joy that comes from that is gob smacking.
So my challenge is try it for a week and see what actually happens.
“Get up every morning and set the intention to connect with all those around you.”
Connection is like having a conversation with that barista that makes you coffee or chat with the person at check in or smile and say hello to the bus driver or tell a stranger that you look fabulous or hold the door open for someone longer than it’s comfortable as someone steps through.
The thing that I found is that when you make someone feel special, even for a fleeting moment of time, It’s the greatest gift that you can give them, because we are all connected.
We are all one, we do all want the same thing, everybody around us has the same kind of hopes and dreams. They want to matter just like we do. So the challenge is, every day for a week, set that intention to connect with those around us.
When you put that energy out, that energy comes back twice what you have given. That’s my challenge.