WRITER+CONSULTANT+ADVOCATE. Chivon John is a wellness and happiness kickstarter. By finding her own joy she now makes it her business to help others find theirs as well. Her mantra of self-preservation and love and then BUSINESS has empowered many to regain the reigns of their hectic lives and find a reason to smile. Let’s meet her.
Please tell me about your endeavors, the problem you are solving and how you are providing the solution?
I help individuals recognize that they need to take care of themselves so they can take care of business. I’m passionate about providing an outlet for individuals to feel empowered, enthusiastic, inspired and confident in their lives. Ultimately I want people to create a life filled with more Happiness, Health and Hustle and I do this through
1. Self-Love Academy – an online community that offers a free 11-day self-love class, weekly self-care challenges, bi-monthly book club meetings and live events. Self-Love Academy is focused on helping women feel empowered and recognize the important of daily self-care.
2. Secrets of a Side Hustler is a business and personal development network designed to inspire, empower and connect aspiring and current side-hustlers, creative professionals and ‘employedpreneurs’. I developed this community to provide an outlet for ‘side hustlers’, which typically describe the community of individuals who work full time but also have a business or are pursuing something they are deeply passionate about in addition to their job. I offer support in the form of events, mentorship and a community for these individuals to feel supported in following their dream.
Another way that I help and serve my audience is through mentorship and coaching. I have a new offering called Happy through the Hustle which is a strategy session where people can share a major business, health or life challenge they are experiencing and I provide strategies and actionable advice to help them restore more self-care and happiness back into their hustle.
It sounds like you attempt to get to the core of that person, which is the foundation for success. Would you say that once you can basically deal with yourself, know who you are and love yourself that leads to being able to achieve the goals outside of yourself?
Yes. I truly believe that emotional self-care is one of the most overlooked factors in success. Who better to be your biggest cheerleader than yourself?
How did you get started and was there a catalyst that lead you into what you are doing now?
My personal experiences have been my greatest teachers and have also served as the catalyst for why I’m passionate about the work that I do. My mission is rooted in helping individuals recognize that their health is their greatest wealth and that they deserve to live a life that is healthy on the inside and not just looks that way on the outside.
Growing up I had a lot of experience with trying to ‘keep up with appearances’ as way of hiding my struggles with depression, anxiety and unhealthy body image. I clung to keeping myself busy or trying to make everything seem perfect, as a distraction in the hopes that it would make me feel better but it didn’t.
When I stumbled into the health and wellness industry a few years ago. I joined a boot camp program believing it would be another great distraction and the fast track to ‘the perfect body’ that I was desperately seeking. But, thankfully I actually got a lot more than I bargained for. In this program, I was introduced to the concept of holistic living and it inspired me to do a deeper dive into my own mental and emotional health. It kick started my self-love journey and desire to heal but the desire to help others. I started investing in my education to work with others through training and coaching and started sharing articles and my experiences through my blog.
My why is deeply connected to helping people know that they are not alone and hopefully letting someone know that they don’t have to pretend that they are ok and they deserve to thrive in their life instead of pretending to. It took me many years to recognize that our health and happiness is something worth fighting for and I’m dedicating to help others recognize the same.
We hear the term “self-love” but can you explain exactly what that represents to you?
I think there is a misconception that self-love is selfish or some ‘woo woo’ concept. But I believe that self-love is being willing to embrace the person that I am and the woman I am becoming. It’s about taking all of the love, comfort and admiration that you would adorn on someone in your life and realize that YOU have all of that within yourself and deserve to experience that same care and devotion.
Every self-love journey is unique and it should be. My journey has been focused on uncovering the piece of myself that is already in there but is tucked away under layers of doubts, shame or fear. Self-love feels like unwrapping a present. Every day I learn something new about myself. Each time I accomplish something I never thought I could, I feel more confident. It’s acknowledging your light and letting it shine through.
So do you find that self-love is more so men than women or is there any difference between the two?
I primarily work with women but I actually have a few men in my community, which is always such a joy for me.
However, I love this question because when it comes to self-love, it’s common to believe that this is something that would only resonate with women but I firmly believe that it’s just as important for men to take this journey as well. After launching Self-Love Academy in February of 2014, one of the members who completed the program confided in me that she shared the program with her son! Self-love is a universal and human experience not a “woman thing.” Although there are a lot of female self-love thought-leaders and advocates there is a movement for men to love themselves and I think it would be great to hear more of that narrative.
What do you think the struggles for the genders are? When I think of women and their struggle with self-love, like you said, it’s more than being selfish. Usually as women we’re taught to be more giving of ourselves and we’re expected to be super-strong for others yet we do have flaws but don’t want anybody else to know. So with men, do you think it’s them being taught to not have feelings or what in your opinion do you feel is their overall struggle?
I don’t want to speak for all men, but based on the conversations that I’ve had with male colleagues there’s a lot of pressure to be the typical “man’s” man where you’re not supposed to talk about your feelings and pretend that everything is OK.
In contrast to girls who are conditioned from a young age to be parental figures and share how we feel. Boys are told ‘men don’t cry’ and in turn learn early to suppress their emotions. Another area that I think doesn’t get enough attention for men is their body image struggle.
How many male models do we see nowadays that have muscular and perfect looking bodies? Wouldn’t it beg the question that men may feel pressured to look a certain way as well? I definitely notice a big difference in response when a woman shares her body image issues versus a man. Woman will typically receive sympathy or outrage if it appears that her rights or emotions have been violated whereas as man may be told to “man up”.
So although the challenges between men and woman differ, they both experience challenges. Above all it underscores the importance for both genders to focus on their self-care and seek out support if they’re struggling.
So when you enter into a first session with a client , what is the key to starting that session and how do you help them to set goals that fit them versus them basing their goals on what another woman has accomplished or achieved?
When it comes to one-on-one sessions I don’t believe that there is a “one size fits all” coaching method for everybody so it’s important for me to learn more about a person’s background and the true problem. I like to do a mini-questionnaire to get a sense of who they are and also devote time during a call to allow a person to share how they are feeling, what they are seeking and struggling with.
Sometimes folks don’t know exactly how to articulate what they are struggling with or even recognize the limiting beliefs that they may have. Having a conversation is helpful to lay the foundation of what we should focus on instead of using another person’s life or results as their benchmark for success. I’ve also found that having a structured curriculum such as the one that exists within Self-Love Academy has been beneficial for the women that have completed the program. Based on the feedback I’ve received, people appreciate it because it’s provides tips and also a lot of homework exercises that require inner reflection. More often than not, we already have the answers to the questions we have but we just need a catalyst or deeper reflection to pull them out.
At the end of the day, I want people to feel like their own advisor and feel confident in trusting their intuition and judgment.
Sometimes when someone is being coached that support can become a crutch due to them not having any support or a circle of love outside of the session. This can lead to them reverting back to their old thinking or habits. So how do you teach them to be accountable to themselves outside of the sessions and outside of the academy and how to do you promote self-accountability when a client is outside of a session?
When it comes to coaching and support a person definitely has to want it or they don’t. One of the most important things that I stress to help someone stay engaged is to take the time to define and acknowledge what their “why” is – why are they taking this journey? When you have a clear purpose and a clear intention of what you’re trying to accomplish this will be a huge motivator in keeping you focused.
Having a community of support is very important but ultimately there will be many times that you have to be your own motivation. You need to be clear about your intentions and recognize that even though you’ll have individuals in your life to support you everyone’s journey and experience will always be unique.
Documenting your progress and celebrating your successes is also a great way to build your self-accountability muscles. Instead of focusing on how much you still have to complete or accomplish, celebrate what you’ve learned, how you have grown and document your goals.
Do you think that the way a woman views and values herself reflects on how she views and values other women which can cause a conflict in relationships with women amongst each other or do you think that those are two separate issues?
I think that in some respects it can. I always cringe when I hear women saying things like ‘I don’t trust other women’, ‘women can’t work together’ or ‘women are always arguing with each other’. I always have to wonder if comments like those are rooted in a person’s insecurities or bad experiences with other folks.
When it comes to working with other women I personally believe in collaboration instead of competition. Sisterhood is a powerful force and I’ve seen firsthand how it can enrich your life but only if you’re open to it. Relationships can’t thrive where conflict exists.
When dealing with our physical health, is it more to our physical health than what we eat or what we don’t eat? Also does our emotional and mental health and our spiritual weight that we’re carrying come into play? Would you agree there is a correlation between them?
Yes, when it comes to health, they’re all interconnected. If you’re not feeling great about yourself emotionally or mentally, it will show up in your physical health. If you are feeling poorly physically, it impacts your emotional and mental health.
I grew up with a lot of body image insecurities and problem with disordered eating. Being a woman of color further complicating things because there is stigma and lack of discussion about these issues. Going through that experience I was so focused on the physical side of my health and completely ignoring my mental health and wellbeing.
You can’t focus on or isolate one piece of your health and expect the other pieces to flourish. You have to nourish every single piece of yourself in order to truly thrive as a healthy person. I’m thankful that lately we can have more open conversations about the importance of mental health and hopefully it will inspire individuals to make this a priority in their health and wellness journeys.
How do you help women distinguish between the things they can change and the things they need to accept?
One of my favorite saying is ‘you have give up in order to go up’. In other words, in life you have to give up certain things to go to the next level of your potential. This doesn’t necessarily mean material possessions but more often than not it’s giving up the stories that we tell ourselves and limiting beliefs that we have.
I think that there is a common misconception that acceptance means failure. In life we have to accept many things about our circumstances, our bodies or personal experiences but ultimately we decide how we want to react and also feel about them. Maya Angelou has a great quote on change – “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”
I think that quote is the best litmus test to identify how to approach acceptance and making changes in our lives. You may not be able to change your body to a certain shape for example but you do have the power to change your attitude and your health. Each of have more power over our situations and thoughts than we give ourselves credit for so it truly begins with taking ownership and action on defining what we want our lives to look like.
Do you think that social media is helping to uplift women or hinder them more in how they view themselves? Do you think that it’s showcasing women with more confidence, showcasing women with more issues or displaying a façade of self-love and happiness?
I actually wrote a blog post about the health impacts and posed the question of whether it is helpful or harmful in our lives. Social Media can be an amazing tool way to connect with people but it can have some troublesome aspects. It’s definitely easy to get caught up in the lives of others but you have to remember that what we see is only a snapshot of someone’s life.
Nowadays it’s easy to create a persona and play the starring role on our social media profiles. Can it be too much? Perhaps, but the great thing about social media is that we have the power of choice. You can choose to consume it or you can choose not to consume it. Yes, there’s a lot of great stuff, but there’s a lot of bad stuff too. We don’t have to post every single thing about ourselves lives nor do you need to be in competition with someone else’s. Your life is deeper than a status update or filtered picture. I don’t think anyone should ever feel pressured to put everything out there or make things seem better than they actually are.
How do you stay physically fit and motivated in other areas of your life even when you don’t want to or even when you fall off and have to get back up?
Taking care of my health is my personal self-love affirmation. Like everyone, I experience moments when I’m down or feel lost but thankfully I find my way back. I think because I’ve experienced low points in my life and have broken through, I owe it myself to keep going. I also know that other people are counting on me to support and help them. I’m always moved when I receive a message of support or admiration from someone who has read something that I created and they share that it’s helped them. I keep a ‘love folder’ of positive messages, pep talks and notes that remind me of how far I’ve come and that staying down is not an option.
Above all, I have to practice what I preach. I can’t take care of business if I’m not taking care of myself. I love Jim Rohn’s quote: “Take care of your body because it’s the only place that you have to live,” because it’s so true. I may sleep in a house but I live in my body and that’s how we should start thinking. We live with ourselves everyday. Before serving others we have to serve ourselves.
Do I still have bad days? Absolutely but I also have my own personal support group that I can lean on. I also create my own pep talks that I save on my phone. They are recorded messages that I can listen to that are my own voice reciting poems or messages that I wrote saying, “You can do this,” “Remember why you started,” and things like that. I find those the most helpful because it feels like I’m giving myself a hug and it’s another way to strengthen my self-motivation.
What is one action that a woman can take now to begin on the road of being healthy inside and out? After reading this interview, what is one thing that she can start with right away?
I’d begin with writing a letter to yourself. Write down the things that you are ready to release from your life and what intentions you envision for yourself. It’s almost like writing a letter to your future.
Another way to refer to this is to create a “painted picture;” it’s almost like a vision board except in written form. Begin by identifying the vision that you have for yourself and then go one step further and write down at least 3 things that you can start today to take action on making those goals possible. Intention without action will not create change in your life so make a commitment to taking steps to invest in yourself no matter how small that action feels. If you don’t know what you want, begin with identifying what you don’t want.
What makes you a Connected Woman?What makes you connectable and relatable to other women?
I’m a Connected Woman because I’m passionate about helping other women feel more connected to their physical and emotional health. When we heighten our self-awareness it opens up endless possibilities.
I believe what makes me relatable is that I use my own life experiences as teachable moments. Everyday I’m learning something new and view personal development as an imperfect journey vs a destination.
How can everyone stay in contact with you?
The best way is through my personal website at http://www.chivonjohn.com/. I’m also very active on Twitter (@ChivonJohn), Facebook or your can send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org . If you’re interested in learning more about my Secrets of a Side Hustler community you can visit www.secretsofasidehustler.com.
Do you have any last words of encouragement or advice that you would like to share?
Don’t wait for opportunities and create them instead and remember that matter what’s happened to you in the past, or circumstances you are experiencing right now, realize that you will come through it. It all begins with believing in yourself and that you’re put on this earth for a purpose to be able to go out and do that. I believe in you even if you have some moments that you’re not sure about yourself. I believe in you and I know that you can thrive.
All Rights Reserved. Connected Woman Magazine 2014
Interview facilitated by Sharisa Robertson. For more information visit www.sharisarobertson.com
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