“Yes Please, Yes Thank You” Attitude — Be grateful. Before you start looking at your phone each morning review five things you are grateful for from the previous day. This sets your mindset and will cause you to start looking for more each day. We have but one wild and precious life. Choose the way you greet challenges, write them thank you notes, and live.
Resilience has been described as the ability to withstand adversity and bounce back from difficult life events. Times are not easy now. How do we develop greater resilience to withstand the challenges that keep being thrown at us? In this interview series, we are talking to mental health experts, authors, resilience experts, coaches, and business leaders who can talk about how we can develop greater resilience to improve our lives.
As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Sarah Cotterill.
Sarah is the visionary behind Lineage Ventures, including the Lineage Lifestyle and Shift Next Level brands, which are focused on building and creating regenerative systems through products and services that help people in their everyday lives. These include performance and recovery tinctures and creams and premium chocolate edibles. Sarah’s is passionate about health and wellbeing and her experience includes healthcare attorney, senior corporate executive, and cannabis entrepreneur.
Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your backstory?
My goal, and the goal of the people, projects, and companies I am involved with, is help people fall in love with being alive. To co-create and transform regenerative systems — both in their own lives and on a larger scale.
I am an eternal optimist. I believe in the magic of life. In our ability to see the beauty and feel the love. In always being curious. In the epic greatness of the small moments.
I believe in the renewal, healing, continual improvement, and balance that comes from connecting with ourselves and the nature we are a part of. And I believe that by engaging in life individually, together we can change our world for the better.
Life can be messy and complex. I know that from experience. And I know that I have lots to learn and that the mess, the struggle, and the vulnerability is worth it.
I bring my past experiences as a healthcare attorney, corporate executive, entrepreneur, farmer, former NCAA Division-1 athlete, yogi, mother, daughter, sister, partner, friend, and curious seeker (to name a few) to mentor people, develop culture, and create and scale businesses support various forms of regeneration.
Can you share with us the most interesting story from your career? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
I once worked with a group of doctors that attempted a hostile takeover of a hospital by locking themselves inside and cutting all camera access. No patients were harmed thankfully, however it ended with police surrounding the hospital and the physicians running through the neighboring field to getaway cars. For the next week I sat in hospital to keep the peace between the 2 sides. Lessons learned: Life throws you curve balls. Figure out what motivates people, it the mediation of a workable resolution. Smart people do dumb things.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
In founding Shift Next Level and Lineage Lifestyle, we looked the opportunities and challenges in our own lives and realized that our success and wellbeing depended on the continual balancing of a set of 7 foundational elements. We use as guides in all we do and how we do it.
We are obsessed with finding and creating exceptional in our everyday. From our Daily Balance Performance & Recovery Cream to our state-shifting Shift chocolates, we support people on the quest to find their version of balance for themselves, their relationships, and their lives. It is our sincere hope and belief that if we can each work with the flux and flow of our own balance, then we show up better for ourselves and the effects ripple out from there.
We get daily stories and messages from customers about how our simple, effective products and strategies make immediate and lasting differences. The stories include finding relief or respite from pain and anxiety, recovery and healing that lead to better sports achievements or being able to do basic activities again — like enjoying a beach walk or cooking with family. We also hear stories of how people didn’t realize how tired they were and how amazing they feel when they finally sleep. Inflammation decreases or goes away entirely. Perhaps best of all, we hear about our customers connecting with themselves and others to move, play, and laugh.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
I am truly blessed with a whole host of these people, from my parents, sisters, partner, and children. However, the person that comes to mind isn’t just one person — it is my “village.” A group of 5 authentic, talented, thoughtful, generous women who I know, without a doubt, have my back. They show up, which may sound simple, but it is so important. It doesn’t matter why or when. If someone sends out our so-called “bat signal” the Village is there — in force.
We have been thru a lot together. Ever been shhh-ed at a rock concert or in an ICU for laughing too loud? We have. Have you showed up at someone’s house because you were hungry and wanted them to cook for you? We do. Have you shared your struggles only to be encouraged, honestly challenged, high 5-ed, and built up? Yup.
To be seen, to be heard, to be loved. That’s what this Village of mine is all about. This group of women has compassionately helped me to get thru some of the hardest, darkest times in life with belly laughs, shared tears, and a million embraces. They call me to be my best and hold me accountable to it. They hold space without judgment. They celebrate my intensity and provide a safe space for vulnerability. The essence of life is relationship. My Village is a daily gift and demonstration of the force of unconditional love, the different versions of balance, unity in diversity, and the power, joy, and healing that comes from laughter — and I am forever grateful.
Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. We would like to explore and flesh out the trait of resilience. How would you define resilience? What do you believe are the characteristics or traits of resilient people?
We’ve all heard the saying “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” We all have failures. We all have challenges. We all have fears. Resilience is the skill to cope with and accept setbacks; and then dig in, learn, move forward, and grow. It can only be brought by taking action.
To strengthen resilience, we must put ourselves in challenging situations and accept the pain, suffering, and difficulty as a part of life instead of running from them. A baby is resilient when they are learning to walk. They get up, fall down, learn a little something, and eventually figure out the balance and rhythm. We are all still essentially learning to walk. Resilience comes from the doing. From putting knowledge to action, repeatedly. And with it, the composure to face challenging situations, the ability to deal with change and ambiguity, and the strength to deal with unexpected tragedies in life and work.
Resilient people know that simple motivation isn’t enough because we aren’t designed to do things that are scary or uncomfortable and so we will never feel like doing the hard things or stepping outside of our comfort zones. And yet they do them anyway, again and again. Sometimes even seek them out. They accept that it will be hard (and probably not fun), lean into the challenge, and let it break them and change them. Resilient people understand that the challenge is life is actually the alchemy for transformation. Without the struggle, there is no evolution to better.
We have the opportunity with every challenge and every decision to choose how to respond to life’s situations. If you can respond with flexibility, positivity, creativity, gratitude, curiosity; if you can be less reactive, and let go of the bad and celebrate the good, you will become more resilient. Get comfortable with continuous growth and continuous improvement and welcome it. Resilience? Yes please, yes thank you.
Courage is often likened to resilience. In your opinion how is courage both similar and different to resilience?
If you don’t have fear, you don’t have courage. Courage is facing fear and adversity. Resilience is doing it again and again. Being persistently courageous rewards you with resilience over time if you just keep going.
With courage we can leave the safe harbor, our familiar comfort zone. And in this journey of life, we will most certainly fail. This failure is a requirement for growth. Resilience is about overcoming the obstacles life throws at us. It is built with courage and affords us the ability to fare better when life tests us.
When you think of resilience, which person comes to mind? Can you explain why you chose that person?
Raised dirt poor in rural Indiana, my grandfather came from a long-time of farmers. In my recent ventures I was more closely reunited with similar farmers and reminded that the faith and mettle of these individuals cannot be adequately explained.
Stopping school at 5th grade because of severe dyslexia and learning challenges, my grandfather Roy never actually learned to read beyond very basic sight words. And while I suspected it at times growing up, I didn’t know it as a fact until much later in life. He married my grandmother and together they started multiple successful businesses. By example, he demonstrated the value of hard work. He got every day, at the crack of dawn, and went to work on what needed to be done. Whether it was muddy, messy trench digging for his pipeline construction business, tending to gardens, chasing the cows when they got out, or making sure his friends and family had what they needed. He expected hard, high-quality work and tenacity from those that worked for him and even more so from himself.
Roy was full of adventure and mischief. He traveled and invited exchange students into his home at a time when that was virtually unheard of in a small town. I nicknamed him “Trouble” because you never quite knew what he would tinker with next. It wasn’t just once that I woke up, much to my display, to my garden shrubs being completely sheared off before 7am and him with breakfast for me in hand.
Fiercely loyal, the only time I ever saw him scared was when my grandmother was sick. While he was tough, the love for us was unmistakable. I cherish all the memories of him spending hours rocking my babies and then down on the floor making faces and pushing them to crawl. Never a man to be still, the constraints of aging were tough on him. He was convinced that the moment he sat down, he would die. And not yet ready for that end, when my grandparents moved to a retirement community, he took “all those old people” on golfcart tours of the massive garden he planted. When he died, my grandmother lamented that she no longer had him to hold her hand as they fell asleep. There isn’t a week that goes by that I don’t think of him in some way. While he never read a book on resilience, he faced his challenges as opportunities, and both worked and loved hard as anyone I’ve ever known.
Has there ever been a time that someone told you something was impossible, but you did it anyway? Can you share the story with us?
For better or worse it is usually my own internal self that is the killer of more dreams and ideas than anyone from the outside. It’s crazy how we talk to ourselves. I wouldn’t think of saying most of the things I said to myself to anyone, let alone my children, family, or friends. Things like “you aren’t good enough,” “you are a total imposter; wonder when everyone will figure it out,” “who would ever think that was a good idea,” and “that’s just too hard and too scary, better not take the risk.”
I heard all of these things and worse from my inner dialogue when I stepped out of my traditional in-house attorney position into the unknown. I didn’t know what I was going to do — for almost a year. Talk about scary. For me at least, someone who had generally led a structured and planned life. You should teach yoga I was told. You should go back to the law firm. What ARE you going to do?? Legit questions and advise from family and friends. Well, I didn’t do any of it. In fact, I did nothing other than follow things and spend time with people that interested me. I, as a friend of mine says, watched the movie and played my role instead of trying to produce and direct it all.
Through taking that space and time, I found the meaning of balance and regeneration which became the seeds for the business and mentoring I do now. With start-up businesses, there are most definitely moments of the impossible. Who thinks it’s a good idea to start a new business in the ever-evolving wild west hemp industry in the midst of a pandemic?? When that inner voice starts yelling and the challenges seem unsolvable, best I can do is to soften that voice, work to find the balance between inspiration and desperation (try not to get too attached to either one) and enjoy the journey.
Did you have a time in your life where you had one of your greatest setbacks, but you bounced back from it stronger than ever? Can you share that story with us?
I’ve had my fair share of challenges and setbacks, many of which I brought on myself. One of the most poignant is my divorce. Raised by high school sweetheart parents, I had an idyllic story written in my head of how my life should go. I went to a prestigious university, on to law school, and then a lucrative law firm career. I would be happily married with the most fulfilling relationship and 2 perfect kids. Well as you can guess, it didn’t turn out how I predicted. Shocking I know.
The divorce was my doing and undoing. While I needed it and wanted it, I most certainly could have done it more gracefully. It rocked me to my core. I could hardly say the word “divorce” for 6 months and when I managed to get it out, it wasn’t without tears. I was sure when I walked into a room everyone was secretly staring, judging, and pitying me. I lost my sense of imagination. My vision of the future so shattered I didn’t know how to dream of 5 years, let alone 3 months. And what had I done to my children….
Until that point, I felt like I had been able to portray the perfect life and to please everyone around me. I had been trying hard to control everything with the goal of earning love and adoration and not having to face change or conflict.
What I learned however, was to give myself the permission to struggle. To surrender to it. That new is hard, wobbly, uncomfortable. New is also exciting, invigorating, and full of opportunity. The people that loved me and cared for me, still cared for me — in all my brokenness. I made new friends, deepened relationships, and had new opportunities come my way. I cared less and less what people thought and more and more about how I intuitively felt. I realized that my kids didn’t need me to save them, they needed to watch me save myself. And so that’s what I did. Steadily, with baby steps, and lots of trial and error, I learned to say yes to trusting myself and finding my balance.
How have you cultivated resilience throughout your life? Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Can you share a story?
A competitive gymnast and then diver, my growing up with filled with lots of opportunity to strengthen the resilience muscle. As anyone in sports knows, all the wins are made by the courage to try new things, fail repeatedly, and learn something every time. The accumulation of that results in resilience and the “wins” in life.
My favorite diving event was the 10-meter platform. Standing 33 feet above the water, I would hurdle myself off the tower with flips and twists to hit the water at over 30 miles an hour. I loved the different perspective and the adrenaline rush I got in those few seconds. And when I nailed a dive from the 10-meter (my favorite being the simple back dive), there was a huge rush. When I missed, it hurt. A lot.
Diving taught me to take action. To get moving. To face the fear. I figured out when I needed to build up skills on easier levels to then progress. I also learned that I could get stuck in the waiting and thinking. That for the hardest dives, I had to approach the edge of the tower, get set, count down, and go.
Resilience is like a muscle that can be strengthened. In your opinion, what are 5 steps that someone can take to become more resilient? Please share a story or an example for each.
- Don’t do anything that feels heavy — I live by this single piece of advice a mentor gave me during a particularly tough time. What does it mean? To me it means that I authentically am me — for me. For a long time in my life I was showing up for everyone else. Meeting their needs. Pleasing them. Often it pleased me too, but it also wore me down. I lost my vision and my passion. So show up for yourself. Be your own cheerleader. Give yourself high fives in the mirror. Start to find the things you that get you excited and do a least one of them. Getting out of bed everyday becomes easier when you have something to look forward to, no matter how small. Really listen to your intuition, honor it, and take a chance in trusting what it tells you. Not doing anything heavy doesn’t mean you avoid the hard, it just means you greet it differently and choose to take it on. With this, everything else starts to fall into place.
- Balance for the season ahead — I am pretty sure my whole life is about finding my version of balance. The flux and the flow. The tension between. Start thinking about your life in terms of balance. What does yours look like for the next 90 days? I have 7 pillars of balance that I use as my guideposts. Some pillars relate to health, some the being and the flowing in life and my body, and some to play and relationships. I’m constantly re-evaluating. With every seasonal change, I look at what my balance goals are, what actions do I need to take to get me there. These goals always include moving my body. I am going to walk or do yoga or some form of exercise daily. I have added in meditation and improved my diet. I have had times when I know I need to put in extra time on work projects, give special attention to my children and relationships, or to remember to laugh with friends. By making these goals, they become habits, and layer over the months and years and allow for the balance to shift and transform more easily over time. Remember that your balance may look completely different than others, and that’s perfectly fine.
- Understand the thru line of change — I resisted change for a long time. I fought it. But once I accepted that change it perpetual, I started to believe in it, understand it, welcome it into my life. So now when I find myself in that resistance, I smile. I know that the lightening will strike and the thunder roar and then the storm will pass. And when it does, each time I find myself a better version than before.
- Focus on the process, not the end-state — Resilience is built by facing challenges; by continuous improvement. It is action driven, not motivation driven. It’s hard to have action or motivation if we keep comparing ourselves to the new future goal. Instead, I find it helpful to measure against where I’ve been. Think of it in terms of physical fitness. If the initial goal is to walk two miles, you may start only being able to walk one. When get you to that two mile mark, you may feel unsatisfied because your brain is already saying, you should walk faster or longer. Instead remember that where originally you could only walk one mile, now you can walk two. Celebrate the gain and use it as momentum for what’s next.
- “Yes Please, Yes Thank You” Attitude — Be grateful. Before you start looking at your phone each morning review five things you are grateful for from the previous day. This sets your mindset and will cause you to start looking for more each day. We have but one wild and precious life. Choose the way you greet challenges, write them thank you notes, and live.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-).
I would love to start a “Yes Please, Yes Thank You” movement where we greet each situation, event, and person in our lives with those words and an attitude of regeneration, continual improvement, curiosity, and gratitude. A nod to the idea that things happen “for us” not “to us” and that we get to choose our response. As crazy as it sounds, when hard things show up for me, I say those words to that hard thing and imagine myself writing that thing a giant Jimmy Fallon style please and thank you. (Try it. If nothing else, it will make you laugh.). With a “Yes Please, Yes Thank You” attitude I’m convinced that we can see the beauty of life and feel the love, that we can save ourselves (you are the one you’ve been waiting for), and live our legacies, now.
We are blessed that some very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them :-).
Oprah. And Rich Roll and Julie Piatt. I love their honesty, authenticity, and willingness to show and share the joys and sorrows of this constant balancing act we are all in.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Connect with me on LinkedIN: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sarah-cotterill-7340a15/ or follow us on IG/FB at Lineage.Ag and ShiftNextLevel
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!