A Warrior’s Way of Defining Success

By: Shelley Hayes | Empowerment Inc.


My career and passions have always been focused on empowering women and teens in various forms. I started by teaching sex education, working with those living with HIV and doing LGBTQ advocacy work in northwestern U.S.  

Social justice and making a lasting positive impact are driving forces for me.

I then took my skills and passions into the corporate and healthcare sectors working as a leadership coach and organizational development professional.  

Now, my joy, meaning, and purpose are fulfilled through our company, Empowerment Inc. We partner with women and teen girls to teach them to be powerful negotiators, communicators and self-advocates. We cover the full spectrum of assertive communication all the way up to physical self-defence techniques. Because, we all deserve to feel safe and powerful to ask for what we want in our careers, our relationships and in our lives!

I am a witness to the fact that when women and girls feel EMPOWERED and FREE to choose, speak up, and be powerful, their success skyrockets!

And, while I LOVE my work and find it rewarding, this entrepreneur life can also be HARD, lonely and overwhelming. We take all sorts of risks – financially, emotionally, and mentally – it’s a rollercoaster!  So, for me, it’s important to focus on WHY I’m doing ALL.THE.THINGS. To remember the driving force helping me take these leaps.

For me, it’s always comes back to empowering women. I consider myself a warrior for women’s empowerment. Why? Because until every woman feels powerful, there is still meaningful work to do! It takes the Warrior’s Way to stay the course.  What do I mean by the Warrior’s Way? It’s a visceral experience, an embodiment, and for me it means helping one woman at a time, planting lots of seeds, staying powerful in my own skin, walking my talk, and creating my own definition of success.

What I know right now is that my Warrior’s Way of defining success is focused on three key elements:

1. Stay fired up.

Fired up means that I’m in connected to my passion for empowering women from the inside out. I’m in touch with my passion and anger about injustices women face and turn it all into love through my physical actions. I take care of myself including my body so that I’m strong in teaching women assertiveness and self-defence. I ask myself, “Do you feel fired up? Do you feel Strong?” If the answer is yes, success!

2. Fuel the fire.

The fuel I’m talking about is a heart focused on meaning. I ask myself, “Did you do something meaningful today? Did you help one woman today?” It’s easy to get caught up in vanity metrics and dollar signs – and while I definitely want to make a profit and reach tons of people, these do not drive me. I’m happy with #onewomanatatime

3. Play with fire.

Playing with Fire is about challenging our conditioning and socialization through unlearning outdated belief systems (BS!). It’s about being mindful, trusting myself and using my critical thinking skills assess old and new info to decide for myself what is helpful and what is plain BS. I do this through reading, our Playing with Fire women’s book club, and talking to smart people. I want to be playful in this and have FUN so, I ask myself, “Did you play with fire today? Did you trust yourself today?”

I also make sure I’m connected to my Warrior’s Way by donating time, treasure and talents to causes and people who are important to us.

I started my career in the not-for-profit world and know how important every dollar and in-kind donation is to maintaining stable programs and essential services.  We began looking for organizations that were aligned with our passions and values and came across Highbanks Society whose mission is “To provide affordable housing and a nurturing community where young families can learn and grow.” They serve single moms who are 16 – 24 years old in the most holistic, sustainable, and practical ways possible.  Our Pay it Forward program collects donations, that we match to provide courses for these young moms.

We are also thrilled to support and serve as advisors to Uplyft Youth Society for Domestic Abuse Awareness. I met Sanya Chaudhry, founder and president of Uplyft, at a social enterprise group and was immediately impressed with her vision and passion for raising awareness about domestic abuse and educating young people about healthy relationships. Sanya is a powerhouse in the social enterprise realm and is also working on starting one called Nanny Shack, a childcare service designed to remove barriers for nannies.  Sanya was recently featured as an Inspiring Albertan and featured on CTV here, we are so proud and impressed with her!

And, most recently, I’ve signed up to be a mentor for Young Women in Business Calgary. I met Huong Vo, VP of Mentorship, when I spoke at the Women’s Show last spring – she introduced herself and invited me to be one of the speakers at their Annual High Tea event in October of 2018. What a fantastic group of rock star women! I had a blast and decided then and there that I wanted to get involved and have signed up to be a mentor. Their mentorship program starts soon and I can’t wait!

And, of course I want to make a good living and enjoy all of what comes with it!  I’d love to hear your what YOU think – how do you define success? What is your Warrior’s Way?

Shelley Hayes

Shelley Hayes

Co-Founder and Chief Empowerment Officer, Empowerment Inc.

Shelley Hayes is Co-Founder and Chief Empowerment Officer of Empowerment Inc., an assertiveness and self-defence coaching and training company. Empowerment Inc.’s focus is to partner with women and teen girls to equip them to be powerful negotiators, communicators, and self-advocates.

Prior to Empowerment Inc., Shelley’s career consists of 17 years of experience in Personal/Organizational Development & Leadership Coaching in not-for-profit, healthcare and corporate sectors.  She holds an MBA, an MMGT, as well as a Certified Professional Coaching certificate, focusing on leadership.


Ready to be empowered?  https://empowermentinc.ca/