The author of Love-Based Leadership, Dr. Maria Church’s days hold little resemblance to her past life as a corporate marketing executive. These days, she meditates every morning, a practice unimaginable before her career change.
With her business partners, Maria launched what she calls “a leadership revolution”, grounded upon what could be termed a 4-letter/dirty word in the business world: L-O-V-E.
Admittedly, love sounds out of place in our competitive contemporary world. Church says that her approach offers a clear way to, “warm up the workplace. We ensure that leaders and their organizations begin to bring their souls to work so that they can feel happier, healthier and more effective.”
One thing is certain, her love-based leadership “revolution” is about much more than business – it represents Maria’s radical career and life change.
Making it like Mad Men
She remembers thinking not long ago, “I’ve arrived. I’ve got a fat checkbook and a beautiful home. I’m the major breadwinner. I’m the only woman at the table with the men. This is what success looks like – I’ve made it.”
So why change careers?
Church laughs. “I found myself mirroring the success images I’d been raised on, the TV businessmen who ended their days with a martini and a cigarette.” Under 50, she had high blood pressure, chronic health problems, and an addiction to extreme stress.
Humor gone. “I whispered to myself many times that, ‘if I keep on this way, I could die’,” she says. That thought was so scary she couldn’t bring herself to say it out loud.
Instead of major change, Church leapt from land development into a lucrative role with a government contracting firm in 2010. This role served as her bridge of courage as a career-changer. She realized that she was actuallly creating the role and thought, “why can’t I create for myself, for my own company?”
The Butterfly Sign
Despite her fear and health issues, it still wasn’t enough, “I’m a need-a-sign kind of person – and it can’t be subtle.” On July 5, 2010 she got one.
It was an uncharacteristically cool day in Arizona. A rare day off, Maria had planned to simply sit by the pool and read a book. The author instructed readers to notice the butterfly on the cover when, “an identical orange butterfly landed near me and stayed with me all day. For the first time in my adult life, I stopped,” she says, voice catching, “I just stopped. I knew that it was a sign, it was time to change.”
By November 2010 Maria, who’d always been passionate about leadership, held her published book in her hands. She quit her job and partnered with Dr. Dorothy Guy Bonvillain and Lisa Creager. They, “like me, strongly believe that people are hungry for meaning and deeply yearn to shift from fear to love at work.”
Almost two years later, Maria is focused on authentically living in the present and helping others fearlessly move forward.