What does it mean to make an impact? In this episode, Kristina Liu shares experiences that led her to write The Inside Out Journey. She details her learnings, growth, and life realizations. Kristina is a Professional Certified Coach, Executive Coach, and Doctor of Psychology. She helps entrepreneurs and corporate leaders maximize their potential at work and feel more happiness and fulfillment in life. Travel with her, learn how to make a difference in today’s world, and witness transformation within yourself!
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The Inside Out Journey With Kristina Liu
We have an author guest now. You guys will enjoy what she has to say because her book truly is a journey. Before we get started, remember to go over, sign up, and subscribe to Breakthrough Author Magazine. You can do that at www.BreakThroughAuthorMagazine.com. Our guest has a feature in Maze Magazine. It is a free subscription. You can’t beat that. Get tips, tricks, and learn about authors who have made the best-seller list and what they are doing with their business as well.
If you like to watch the video of this, go over and subscribe to us on YouTube. It is Superbrand Publishing and you can see all of these people up close and personal. Our guest is Kristina Liu. She is a Professional Certified Executive Coach and a Doctor of Psychology. We tried calling her doctor once, and she did not like it.
She helps entrepreneurs and corporate leaders maximize their potential at work to feel more happiness and fulfillment in life. She is also the owner of Selva Vida Lodge & Retreat Center, where she conducts her life transformation programs and hosts travelers who want to explore the Peruvian Amazon. That sounds exciting, and I know you have something coming up.
Thank you so much, Juliet, for that warm welcome. I’m happy to be here.
We also did mention that she is an international best-selling author in seven different categories. She went to number one all over the place. Kristina’s book, The Inside Out Journey: An Elusive Search for Self Across Three Continents, is about a journey that she took for herself. You started out in Corporate America, and one day, you quit your job and did this. Tell us about that.
That is the short of it but the steps that led up to quitting that job and traveling took a while. I started in accounting and audit. I have a CPA that was my first couple of degrees, a Bachelor’s and a Master’s in Accounting. I worked in public accounting, then internal audit, and then I went to get an MBA. That was in France and Singapore. After that, I worked in Singapore for almost nine years in business-related fields for an agribusiness company in a range of different roles, from business improvement to strategy and marketing.
Towards the last several years of that job, even though it was a great job and I worked with great people traveling all over, I felt like I was not sure if that was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I wanted to impact people a little bit more directly, whereas working in the corporate world. The reason I even worked for that company was because I thought we were helping smallholder farmers to have a better life.
That gave me meaning to be able to say, “I’m working in something meaningful.” I felt it was not enough. I was not connecting directly with those people that we are helping. That is what prompted me to study psychology. I took a Doctor of Psychology Program on the side while I was working full time, thinking I might, perhaps one day, become a therapist or a counselor because I had direct experience with that. That helped me, and at that time, I did it with a boyfriend partner.
I realized I had always been interested in psychology and how the human mind works. When I was deciding, “What do I want to study something?” I loved studying. That is why I chose that field. That was what I did for about two and a half years. Towards the last year in my corporate job, that is when I got exposed to coaching. That is when I realized it was something that clicked.
It was a course that I took in my psychology studies. We had two coaches that came in to give us a taster session for the day. They talked about this cornerstone in this coaching, which is called Collective Coaching. It resonated with me right away because it said, “People are naturally creative, resourceful, and whole.”
When I saw that, I said, “This is the type of philosophy I can adhere to and I have been wanting.” If you know anything about traditional psychology, it is saying, “People are broken. There is pathology. You need to fix them.” Even though I liked what I was learning, there was always that bit that perhaps was not aligned with my own view of the world and people.
When I saw that people are naturally creative, resourceful, and whole, they can get to their own answers and solve their own problems, that is when I said, “That is what I want to do.” That was my step away from the corporate world, but I was not sure whether I make a living with that or I could break free from the whole that Corporate America has on you until I saw this ad. It must have been on Facebook. That said, “Travel the world with us while working.”
When I saw that, I said, “That is perfect.” I have wanted to travel more and I love traveling. I even thought about taking a year off what they called a gap year. While I was contemplating it, I felt like, “I do not know if I can just do traveling for a whole year. I still like working. It is not that I do not like working.” When I saw this combination of traveling and working, I said, “This is what I have been looking for.” That is when the wheels started spinning. I started thinking, “How could I make this happen?” Myself back then, the limiting part of me was, “No, you can’t. You do not have a job where you can travel and work.”
Fast forward again, the universe came together. I was contemplating whether I should do this for eight months. During this time, I got my coaching training. That was when I started realizing, “I do have a job now that I could do from anywhere.” Back then, I was living in Singapore, and many of them were in Singapore but a lot of times, when I was coaching my clients, we would do Zoom sessions. That was when Zoom started becoming available.
I said, “I could coach these clients while I was traveling. It does not matter if I’m in Singapore sitting in my apartment or somewhere across the world and doing the same thing.” That was when I started realizing, “Maybe this is a real possibility.” The limiting part of me still came in and said, “You can’t do that. What if this does not work out. You are never going to have another job again.”
That was a process for me to go through and reconcile the two parts of me, the part that says, “Yes, you can do it. Anything is possible.” The other part says, “No, that is not possible.” I’m so glad that the part of me that says, “Yes, anything is possible,” that is when I embarked on this journey and that is what became this book.Strive to make an impact on people a little bit more directly. Give meaning and help them have better lives. Click To Tweet
This book is about my year of traveling the world to twelve places. Part of the program is you go to one city each month in twelve months. We started in Africa. We are 2 months in Africa, 4 months in Europe, and then 6 months in South America. It is about all the experiences that I had or all the important ones that the readers might find interesting.
More importantly, the journey I went through inside. That is why it is called The Inside Out Journey. It is about my own learning, growth, transformation, and getting in touch with myself. Going on this journey was already a big effort for me. That a lot has shifted making that decision, but after this year of doing it, a lot more has shifted and growth happened. That is what this book is about.
You mentioned in the book this was the first time you had roommates. Talk about that a little. I remember when I went to France, I had a roommate that I did not know. She was 30 years younger than me or maybe 25 years younger. I remember spending the first day rolling my eyes, like, “Are you kidding me? This is my roommate.” She turned out to be fun once I got over myself.
It is not about having a roommate, which I had not experienced for many years. Many of us adults can probably relate to that, but also, traveling with a group of people for twelve months was challenging. My psychology studies focused on the group process, so it is group therapy. There are a lot of group theories about how a group brings out something in you that you may not realize and in the power of groups.
We went through something called Process Group, which is like a therapy group. I did that for a year and a half as part of my studies, which is you go into a group and there are two professors who are the facilitators, and there are no topics. You sit in a circle with nothing in between all of you and you talk about your thoughts, your feelings, and a lot of stuff comes out.
This year of traveling the world with this group of people almost felt like a bigger process group, except you did not have facilitators to make sure things were on track or people did not talk about something that did not hurt the other person. If they did, you talked it through. That is why a lot of emotions came out in me, such as the feelings of rejection, not belonging, and feelings of hurt that sometimes I would not even admit to myself that I mask as, “Those people are not open-minded. There is something wrong with them that they do not accept me.” The pointing fingers.
I did that for about the first six months, along with a few of the close friends that I did make. Sometimes we would be like, “How come these people are not more appreciative. They are not warmer.” Sometimes we would go into these rooms and people would not even acknowledge you, and you feel hurt. In order to soothe yourself, you go, “There is something wrong with ‘those people.’” I did that for the first six months until I almost wanted to leave, and I wrote about it in my book.
Something clicked in me. I was in discussion with one of my program leaders is that if I continue to do that, I might leave. I will flee the situation, and what is going to change? Nothing is going to change. I will confirm my belief that it is everyone else’s fault. This situation is not as good as I would like it to be, or I could shift my perspective and say, “Maybe there is something I can do to change the situation, and the difficult feelings that I’m having are saying something about my own internal state, my own things that need to be healed or things that I need to grow out of that I need to recognize. From that, I can grow and transform.” That is what ended up happening.
Looking back, I’m grateful for the difficulties that I experienced in the group, and do not get me wrong. There were a lot of euphoric moments too. That is part of traveling, going to new places, and having this new lifestyle, where I used to go to an office every day. I have to go there and have a commute whereas here, it is a completed different lifestyle. Much of that was exciting and thrilling, but on the other hand, doing it with a group presented some challenges, but I’m so glad I went through it all, embraced the difficulty, asked myself what I could learn from it, and ultimately, I did. I’m grateful for this whole experience and what you talked about having roommates.
You did it all without a Jerry Springer moment. I’m so proud of you.
There was no drama. A lot of it was internal. There was one little drama that happened in month five. I wrote about it in the book. From the outside perspective, it was not even drama, but from my own perspective. I’m not a drama person. For a long time, I did not even know how to communicate. First of all, recognize my feelings and then communicate. I was just, “If I had difficult feelings, I would bottle it up.” Not truly run away, but not share it with anyone. That is also something that I have learned in a Psychology study and there is a productive way of sharing your difficult emotions and feelings.
Tell us about Peru. I keep hammering on this, but there was something amazing that happened in Peru for you that you would never guess when you started this journey that this would happen.
That was only able to happen because I opened myself up in this shift that I went through in month seven that I said, “Stop blaming anyone else and the situation. Focus on myself and what I can learn.” The minute I did that, I felt things opening up. There were more synchronicities happening in the universe because I was more open to everything.
That was the month that I went to this workshop. It is called the Fearless Women Workshop. It was put together by a coach in LA. When she first came into the workshop, she said, “I came back from Peru. I did ayahuasca. It was enlightening that I created this workshop.” When I heard that at first, I did not even know what ayahuasca was or how to spell it. It intrigued me in what she said. How can so be so enlightening that it will give you this idea of creating this beautiful workshop?
That is where the idea started. The next month, I met a fellow traveler when I was traveling to take a side trip to Salta in Argentina. This traveler is from Germany and she said, “I did combo. It was so life-changing. My life completely changed for the better.” The way she described it, it sounded very similar to that ayahuasca that this coach talked about.
As we were leaving this restaurant, we bumped into this gentleman who was from Peru, and I said, “I’m going to Peru next month. That was our itinerary, month nine in Peru.” He said, “When you were there, you need to go to Iquitos because you can go take a boat down the Amazon river, and it will be so beautiful.” I said, “Wow.” At that time, I did not know where Iquitos was. I did not know how to spell it.The inside out journey is about learning, growth, transformation, and then getting in touch with yourself Click To Tweet
Within two months, I’m hearing about these two things, ayahuasca and combo, from two different people. Now there is a guy from Peru that tells me to go to this place. I’m going there next month and I think, “Perhaps life, the universe, or whatever is trying to tell me something that I need to check this out.” That is how it all came about.
I went to Lima that month, I started doing some research about what these things are. I learned how to spell it, learned where Iquitos was and booked myself a retreat. I write about it in a book. There were a lot of things that I needed to learn about and find information about. Ultimately, I decided to do a retreat with this couple.
They have ceremonies for ayahuasca and also do combo sessions. They also do tours around their jungle. I thought, “This is a perfect blend. I get to experience these magical substances that I learn about and experience the jungle.” That is what I did. I went there for a week. It was similar to what happened at the beginning of my journey with some resistance because a lot of the things that I experienced were not what I was expecting.
I resisted for about four days and I thought, “Ayahuasca was what I was expecting. It is not enjoyable. Why am I even here?” I even wanted to give up, but I’m so glad I did not because the minute I started releasing this resistance or this tight fist that I was holding, that is when the beauty, magic, learning, and transformation happened.
The biggest learning I had is that you need to be open to things that life presents to you. When you have these expectations, things do not meet your expectation, you feel these negative feelings, or you resist. That is when you do not get the lessons you are meant to learn. The minute you can release that, that is when all the good things happen, and that is how Peru came about. That is how I even bought the property where I did the retreat. I turned it into a lodge and retreat center because that experience proved to be profound and I felt aligned well with the work that I do, which is coaching people.
People were like, “What is coaching?” Coaching is transforming people, taking them from a place here to somewhere much higher. The plant medicines that I experienced in the jungle were a perfect combination or compliment to the coaching that I do for people that are willing to go there. Of course, not everyone is, and that is fine. For those who want to go a little bit deeper and experience these natural substances that God, the universe, whatever you believe in has provided us. We have an opportunity to do it in this beautiful environment that is different from most of us living in the Western world.
That is crazy that you own property down there, and you bought it right when COVID hit.
I bought it before COVID hit about a few months. I bought it in April 2019, when my remote year journey ended, and it was going well. When I first bought it, it had two houses on it. As soon as I bought it, I knew I wanted to build a Maloca, which is a structure where you do plant medicine ceremonies. We did that and it was operating pretty well. I both retreat there as well and host travelers who want to come to the Amazon and experience the jungle.
Towards about February 2020, it was going well. We were even cash positive, which was good for what I envision. We all know what happened in March 2020. COVID hit, and everything came to a halt. We had already had plans to expand the property because we were getting busy, and we could not even host everyone who wanted to stay there.
I had to make a decision, do I continue with the expansion, or do I stop it? I said, “Since we do not have anyone coming, it might as well take this time to continue the construction, but we could not even do that for some time because there was no work allowed in Peru because of COVID.” All the building took a little bit longer, but eventually, we managed to finish a whole new dining structure, 3 new bungalows, and 2 fish ponds. That is what the property is now. I am having my first retreat since the pandemic in March 2022.
You are going to have more this 2022. You can always go over to the website and see when the next one is. Where is that?
It is at www.SelvaVidaLodge.com.
I was stunned by how cheap it was for a night. When you look at what it costs to go to an American hotel, and yours has the meals in it. I was stunned. I’m not going to make it this March 2022 because I have planned a trip with my son. Other than that, though, you do what is called positivity coaching. Talk a little bit about that.
It is called Positive Intelligence. This is the framework that I use and I also write about it in the book. Even though it is a concept that I came to learn after my trip was over, I felt it was relevant to inject it into the book. This is a theory developed by Shirzad Chamine. He is also a coach and a Stanford lecturer. The essence of this theory is acknowledging that we all have these two parts of us. On the one hand, we have this beautiful and powerful sage, which if we can tap into that, we can achieve anything. We experience good emotions and pleasant emotions.
On the other hand, being humans, we also have this other part, which this author calls saboteurs, which are the forces that can come and sabotage us. Whether it is achieving our true potential, fulfilling our highest success, or even experiencing pleasant feelings. The saboteurs create these negative feelings that we have, which often is the cause of why we do not end up achieving our true potential. I do this both in my one on one coaching as well as I do a group program that takes people through for eight weeks this concept. We take a couple of weeks to look at your saboteurs and learn what these are. This author has identified ten saboteurs that can commonly come in and sabotage us.Embrace the difficulty in your life and remember that you can learn from it. Click To Tweet
We spent a couple of weeks doing something called PQ reps. It is Positive Intelligence Quotient reps. It is like doing reps in the gym. It is almost like meditation or mindfulness exercises that when you do these frequently enough, that is how to weaken or tune down your saboteurs and bring up your Sage, this powerful part of you. We spend a few weeks looking at the sage powers.
All of us have these five Sage powers that if we can recognize them, hone in on them, and consciously practice them, we can make them more powerful. By doing that, what you are doing is you are realizing your true potential because we are all born with a certain potential. Everyone’s potential is different, but we are all born to achieve certain things and to feel certain ways.
This program allows you to do that by tuning down your saboteur. You get out of your own way. Another saying is, “Sometimes we are our best worst enemies.” We can achieve all these things, but we limit ourselves. That is what this program is. I like it because it is simple. It is saboteur sage. These are the ten saboteurs and five sage powers. Most people can grasp this pretty easily.
What I hear from clients is it is enlightening to know their saboteurs and to be aware of them. It is not that once you know this concept, your life is magically better, but it is a lifelong journey. It is having that awareness and they can say, “Now is my saboteur stopping me from doing this or now is my saboteur creating this negative emotion in me.” They can consciously shift to a different way of behaving.
When I reflect back on my journey, and that is why I do talk about it in the book, because there were so many moments that I recognized, it is my saboteur. When I judge other people, that is my saboteur. When I want to resist a certain situation and say, “This is bad,” that is a saboteur. Rather than the sage is saying, “There could be a gift in anything.” No matter how challenging an experience is, it could be a gift, an opportunity for you to learn something or grow in a certain way. That is why I like this concept. I use it in my coaching with my clients.
Where can we find your book? Do you have a URL that we can go to grab a copy of the book?
If we want to contact you about coaching life, where would we find you at?
I have a website, KristinaLiu.com. That is pretty simple.
Thank you so much for being with us and sharing all this. This is amazing.
Thank you so much, Juliet, for giving me this opportunity. I truly enjoyed it. Thank you so much for all the questions, and I hope your readers will enjoy this as well.
I’m sure they will.
- Maze Magazine
- Superbrand Publishing – YouTube
- Selva Vida Lodge & Retreat Center
- The Inside Out Journey: An Elusive Search for Self Across Three Continents
About Kristina Liu
Kristina Liu is a Professional Certified Coach, Executive Coach, and Doctor of Psychology. She helps entrepreneurs and corporate leaders maximize their potential at work and to feel more happiness and fulfillment in life. Kristina is also the owner of Selva Vida Lodge & Retreat Center, where she conducts her life transformation programs and hosts travelers who want to explore the Peruvian Amazon.