Be willing to
Let Go of Good
To Go After Great
Hi, I'm Erika,
For most of my life, I've been what I affectionately refer to as a high-achieving (insecure) people-pleaser. I did what I needed to do, said what I needed to say, became what I needed to become in order to get approval, get accepted, and get ahead.
I had every reason to feel confident. I was always at the top of my class in school; I was a high performer working at one of the best organizations in the world (Google); I was well-rounded and generally well-liked.
And yet, no matter what I did or how high I climbed, I never could get away from the nagging feeling of self-doubt and insecurity. Of needing to be impressive but feeling like whatever I did was just never quite enough - like maybe once I did more, achieved more, was more, then finally I’d feel good.
What I came to realize was that I’d built my life - piece by piece - based on what I thought I should do, who I thought I should be, what I thought I should want.
All my life, I’d been following the path that was laid out ahead of me. It was a beautiful path, I won’t deny it - it was well-worn with lots of cheerleaders on the sides, urging me on and telling me how lucky I was and how great I was doing.
But the truth was, my momentum on the path was from my need for recognition and achievement, my drive for doing a good job and pleasing people - I’d never asked myself if that path was what I really wanted.
Inside, I felt empty, disconnected. Hollow. Like I had this hole in my stomach that I could never figure out how to fill, no matter how hard I tried or what I did. I mean, it might go away for awhile, but it would always come back.
For as picture-perfect as my life might have looked on the outside, behind closed doors, at various times in my life, I battled anorexia, bulimia, depression, perfectionism, competitiveness, hypercontrolism, feeling like an outsider, drinking a little too much...
You get the picture....
My life fundamentally changed on July 15, 2013. That was the day my 3-month daughter, Vivian, had spinal neurosurgery for a tumor on her spinal cord. No matter how perfectly I’d tried to build my life, I hadn’t put a plan in place for something like this.
As I sat in the hospital the night after her surgery, feeling so incredibly angry with the world and sorry for myself, I had a thought that literally changed my life.
It started out as a whisper - barely recognizable at first - but just kept growing louder and louder over time. The thought was:
You have one life to life.
There are no second-chances, no do-overs.
You get one go’round at this life.
Why would you spend any more time waiting to be happy?
The image that was playing in my mind was of a carousel and I realized I’d been living as though I had unlimited rides; I could just keep going around and around and around. That it didn’t really matter that I wasn’t actually happy yet - after all, I got unlimited rides so I could just keep going around until I finally got happy.
In that moment, I realized that I had been waiting.
Waiting for that perfect life, the one where I was happy, satisfied, fulfilled, to come along.
Waiting for situations to improve, people to change, that hole in the pit of my stomach to go away.
And realizing that I’d been waiting pretty much all my life.
But what scared me the most was the realization that this wasn’t a carousel ride - it was my life. And when it’s over, it’s over. No second chances. No do-overs.
Since that day in 2013, my life has completely changed. Thankfully, my daughter is completely healthy. And, I can proudly say that so am I.
I stopped waiting for things, people, or a path to make me happy.
I started getting to know myself, getting to trust myself and most importantly, getting to love myself.
What I know is that, for all the answers I tried desperately to find on the outside, the journey is within, and that’s where all of our answers are.
Through my inner work and developing a deep spiritual connection, I discovered who I am, what I really want, and how I want to show up in the world.
I know deeply why I’m here and what impact I want to make for the greater good.
The path I’m on now is 100% my path because it's the one I forge every day.
I spend a lot of time staring into the unknown. And while it’s completely unnverving, it's also completely exhilarating knowing that I'm choosing what's right for me. I am more confident, more empowered, and more authentic than I’ve ever been in my whole life.
As a leadership development and executive coach, speaker and writer, Erika Gerdes believes we are our most impactful when we are our most authentic, and that the world needs the impact that each of us can uniquely make.
She is the designer of the Art of Undoing, a platform she incorporates into her coaching, workshops, keynote and corporate engagements which uses science-backed methods to enable people to lead more authentic and fulfilling lives. By helping people identify and undo the patterns, beliefs and stories that are limiting them, and developing new habits to improve their awareness and impact, they can discover and embrace their authentic gifts, strength and power.
The result is deeper self awareness, greater confidence and clarity, more meaningful connections, and more joy, fulfillment, and impact.
Erika spent 12 years at Google with the last 3+ years as a Global Business Leader where she led the strategic partnership with one of Google’s largest global partners. She left at the height of her career because, while it was secure and prestigious, she knew she could have a greater impact in the world by combining her passion and her gifts.
In her work and life now, Erika is courageously authentic and vulnerable and is deeply fulfilled by teaching others that it is possible to live full, authentic and impactful lives.
Erika lives in Chicago with her daughters, Evelyn (8) and Vivian (6 1/2) and their adorable dog, Basil.
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