Oftentimes when we’re told the stories of successful people we focus on where they are today, but aren’t privy to the hidden gems and details that built and enabled that success. That’s what our new podcast, In the Details with Karen Allen, is all about—diving into the small steps and mindset shifts that unlock those big gains.
SUCCESS Editor-in-Chief Cecilia Meis spoke with new host Karen Allen about her plans for the show, and how her personal story informs her path.
A closer look at Karen
In 2013, Allen was at home scheduling executive-level interviews as part of her human resources responsibilities when she received a call on her cellphone. Her husband, a CrossFit gym owner, had been shot. Allen rushed to the gym, where she learned from the police that her husband died instantly.
Although that news rocked Allen’s world, it was only the beginning of a difficult year for her—one that also brought the loss of her home, car and job. In Allen’s immense grief, she had a moment where she looked at her son and recalled that oft-quoted idea about needing to secure your oxygen mask first before you’re able to help others. She wanted to be a healthy, happy, whole mom, but didn’t know how that would be possible given the circumstances. So she anchored herself one moment at a time, refused to be defeated, and that determination was the momentum she needed to start rebuilding her life.
Allen believes hard times can serve to expose parts of us we need to grow through. Whether you’re facing difficulties with your career, health, etc.—if we build the tools and mindset we need when we feel stressed or encounter hardship, that’s fertile ground for growth.
Allen therefore built her brand around growth, coupling her personal experience with science. She believes that when we continue to evolve and become the best versions of ourselves, we make the people around us—and the entire world—a little better.
Connection is key
That’s what we want to foster through the podcast. While our details may be different from one another, often our experiences of the highs, lows and question marks we face can be the same. A lot of times, the curveballs that life throws us can make us feel really alone. Part of our hesitancy toward sharing and being vulnerable is ego—I should look like I have it all together or I should be further along—but mostly we don’t want to share the hard parts of ourselves and our experiences because we don’t want to be an emotional burden.
If there’s a silver lining to what we all went through during the pandemic, it’s that we connected in ways we’ve never had to before with our friends, families, schools, careers, etc. And out of those forced changes emerged not only some things that needed to change anyway, but new questions: What should be taking up most of my time? What little details of my life do I want to hold onto and expand?
This podcast can help anchor us to another person who has experienced what we have, and can provide them a little light at the end of the tunnel too.
Growth may be forced, but it’s still a choice
As a digital nomad since 2017, the pandemic grounded Meis—literally. But it also helped her reconnect with people in ways she didn’t think was even realistic for her lifestyle. It also brought forth questions about what she wants to have her lifestyle look like moving forward, while addressing her relationships, too. Therefore, she made a few key changes.
Allen believes that the way we respond to what’s happening is what leaves the lasting impact. It’s what causes a ripple effect, when you make the decision not to remain stuck but rather to move forward. And when we create space to really respond in a more skillful and thoughtful way, that’s when we tap into the inner guide that unlocks what our next step should be.
How often do we get stuck in our normal routine and don’t make a change, or we feel constricted by societal norms? But when we’re forced into those hard spaces, if we get quiet enough to really calm our mind, we can see that the hard times aren’t there to defeat you. Instead they might be putting you on a different path—one that is still a path forward, but which you might not have chosen for yourself. Stepping into the unknown with excitement is going to open up a world that you probably thought never existed.
Jill McDonnell is a Chicago-based content writer and communications professional. She has a bachelor's degree in magazine journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia and a master's degree in public relations and advertising from DePaul University. She is currently at work on a psychological thriller novel.