Episode 14: The Truth About Executive Coaching and Exponential Living with Sheri Riley

Sheri Riley
Sheri Riley, life coach

This episode is sponsored by:

watch on youtube


“Fear is what tells you to stop, it slows you down. It makes you feel bad. It’s telling you that there’s something about you out of order. Intuition is giving you a light. It’s showing you a pathway. It’s saying that there’s something here that you need to be mindful of.”

Sheri Riley
Episode #14


In this episode of What the Fundraising Podcast…

I talk to Empowerment Speaker, High-Performance Life Coach, and Award-Winning Author of the book Exponential Living, the infinitely wise Sheri Riley. She shares what is Exponential Living: Stop Spending 100% of Your Time on 10% of Who You Are and some of the 9 principles included in her book to pursue peace, choose clarity and live courageously. 

Sheri’s work as a life strategist can help anyone achieve their better self, but I find it especially helpful for fundraisers that might feel filled with self-doubt or worried about hitting their goals. In this episode, we talk about how to get your drive and confidence to work together. We also talk about what it means to be good to ourselves, and how to own our stories to become a magnet for what we want. Join this conversation with this super-inspirational life teacher!

Sheri extra
Podcast interviewee - Sheri Riley
Tues Launch Carousel Top Image
podcast interviewee - Sheri Riley on Executive Coaching

I talk to Empowerment Speaker, High-Performance Life Coach, and Award-Winning Author of the book Exponential Living, the infinitely wise Sheri Riley. She shares what is Exponential Living: Stop Spending 100% of Your Time on 10% of Who You Are and some of the 9 principles included in her book to pursue peace, choose clarity and live courageously. 

Sheri’s work as a life strategist can help anyone achieve their better self, but I find it especially helpful for fundraisers that might feel filled with self-doubt or worried about hitting their goals. In this episode, we talk about how to get your drive and confidence to work together. We also talk about what it means to be good to ourselves, and how to own our stories to become a magnet for what we want. Join this conversation with this super-inspirational life teacher!


Executive Coaching Episode
Executive Coaching Episode
Executive Coaching Episode

Sheri Riley



  • Sheri Riley | Exponential Living

Brought To
you By:

Sheri Sunday Quote

Tips and Tools to Implement Today

What is Exponential Living:

Favorite quotes

Related Content


Other episodes you would enjoy



I teach nonprofit fundraisers to bring in more gifts from the RIGHT donors… so they can stop hounding people for money. Fundraising doesn’t have to be uncomfortable.


Other episodes you would enjoy


One Light Global is evolving the way we approach crises around the world from a paradigm of givers and receivers to a united human family collaborating and innovating to create replicable, scalable models of an inclusive, egalitarian and regenerative future for all. 

Visit www.onelightglobal.org

episode transcript

Mallory: Welcome everyone. I am so excited to be talking today to the amazing Sheri Riley, the author of Exponential Living. I love so many things about your work and I’m excited to dive into the topics that we’ve outlined, but let’s start with just you sharing a little bit about your amazing background. 

Sheri: I am so honored to join you today. I am from a small town in Kentucky and I would always start there because I love my little small town. But I also start there because I want people to know any and everybody can do any and everything. 

Me coming from a small town and being able to work in the music industry, being able to be an entrepreneur for almost 30 years, now serving as an empowerment speaker, high-performance life coach, and award-winning author of the book, Exponential Living: Stop Spending 100% of Your Time on 10% of Who You Are, and really focused on professional athletes, entertainers, corporate executives, and entrepreneurs as a coach and as a trainer. 

For me to be able to get to this point in my life, coming from a small town, means everything is possible. So I am excited to be here, and I’m looking forward to having this exponential conversation with you. 

Mallory: I love it. And I’m so glad you included some of the pillars of your current work. Will you explain actually to everyone from your perspective,  how do you define coaching? What does coaching really mean to you?

Sheri: I’m so glad you asked that question because there is the integrity of coaching and I am so committed to the integrity of coaching. You honestly have a lot of people who are between jobs and they’re like, “Okay, I’m just going to coach to fill in between jobs”. 

But really the integrity of coaching is about the value of the question. It’s not being a teacher where you’re actually teaching what you know, it’s not being an advocate where you’re actually speaking to and encouraging and helping someone get better at what they do. It’s not mentoring where you’re really trying to make sure you guide and direct them. It really is about the question.

It’s really about presenting the question to people in a way that the answers are already there. You’re guiding them to uncover those answers for themselves. So coaching is really about empowering the other person to uncover what’s already in them. And then serving as that accountability partner, that they really stay true to what they’ve uncovered about themselves.

Most people think coaching is like a sports coach like I’m supposed to direct when really it’s 100% about what’s already inside your client. 

Mallory: Yeah. I get very nervous when everyone kind of taps it on to the end of their title like  “I’m a speaker and a trainer and a consultant and a coach.” And I’m like “Well…” 

I feel like for me, going through coach training, even as someone who had coached inside organizations for many years, it was incredibly rigorous to hold that kind of space, to trust and believe that your clients have the answer, and to really stay out of a place of judgment and just be there to be the container and ask the questions to move them forward towards what it is they want.

It’s such a magical experience. It’s changed my life being coached by amazing coaches. So I’m just so grateful for the way you stand in integrity of all of that. 

Sheri: And you have to really eliminate your ego. Because the ego wants to provide the answer. You want to speak up and say, “why don’t you get this?” But you really have to remove yourself from the picture. 

I always tell my clients like “this is 100% about you”. And I say that for them, but it’s a reminder for me, that is not about my validation that I know the answer. It really isn’t about what I think the answer may be. It’s not about my ego. It’s none of that.

And to your point, you have to really stay integral because it may take one or two sessions of questions for someone to come to that unveiling for themselves. When your ego will say, “just tell them already, right?” 

Mallory: Yes! 

Sheri: That is not it because it’s the journey that they take to get to the uncovering. That’s the power in coaching, not the answer, not the end result, but the journey that they have to go on internally within their own mind, spirit, energy, etcetera, to uncover what’s really true to them. 

Mallory: I love that. I know we weren’t going to necessarily define this for everyone, but I think it’s actually critically important and it’s been coming up a lot lately, so thank you for that. Now I want you to tell us what is exponential living? 

Sheri: Yes. Exponential living is pursuing peace, choosing clarity, and living courageously. It is really that simple. It is a lifestyle of pursuing peace, choosing clarity, and living courageously. 

And when I say pursuing peace, it really is when you decide that regardless of what’s going on around you, and honestly what’s going on in you,  when you make the decision that I am going to own my peace, automatically you’re going to get clarity.

It’s going to allow you to really get clear. And when you get peace and clarity together, you have the courage to do anything. So whether it’s a big monumental life decision, whether it’s a small one like “I just need to rest” when you have peace, clarity, and courage. And when you allow those three things to work together, it absolutely fuels you to have exponential living.

Mallory: Gosh, if I could pick a word for my thirties, it probably would be clarity, which I never really thought about until you said that. What a powerful skill that we don’t really think about that much as being a catalyst for so many other things in our lives. 

Sheri: Because so many people, places, and things, so many situations and circumstances in our lives really are out of sync because we don’t have clarity.

A lot of the people who have ego challenges at work, that person is always in their ego,  honestly, there’s a lack of clarity because they haven’t gotten clear on who and what they are. So they have to just rest in their ego and their ego is constantly trying to position themselves to help manage who they are because they’re really confused. 

Or when you just have the clarity of what do I want. You will not believe how many people I just stopped in their tracks asking them the simple question: “What do you want?” Not my husband, my wife, my kids now, what do you want? 

And really people have to stop in their tracks, and honestly, that’s when they realize how confused they really are because they can’t answer the question. And until they really tap into that area of peace in their life, do they get the clarity to take out their mother’s voice, take out the career track that they’ve been on, forget about the degree that they have really set aside the financial responsibilities that they’re in, and honestly, sit in a total place of peace in that question. What do I want? The clarity will come. 

They may not be ready to admit it. They may not be ready to deal with what that means. They may not be ready to make the changes that are now required, but in that place of peace the clarity always comes, but then they have to have that peace and that clarity together to get the courage to then actually move.

That’s why the three of them together are so critical. 

Mallory: Okay. I’m getting excited. So talk to me about peace. What does that mean? What does that look like? Feel like? How do we get that? 

Sheri: Yes. I tell people it is a daily minute by minute, second by second to absolutely own your inner calm, and the great thing about peace is it’s always available to us.

We have to choose it, no matter what’s going on, it can be the best of times or the worst of times. But the truth of the matter is we have to decide at this moment, I’m going to allow the inner me to get completely calm, and I’m going to have to own that. So in my book, those nine principles of exponential living really serve as that roadmap on how, not only to claim the peace, but then to live in it.

But it really is as simple as in the moment, I decide to own the inner calm that is available to me, but I have to choose it. I have to choose it. 

Mallory: Wow. Wow. There are so many things I want to ask you about this. I’m really excited about this framework because now that you’re saying these three things together, I’m realizing that some of the most pivotal moments of my life have actually been that combination of peace and clarity. 

I wasn’t necessarily using those words or I maybe wasn’t as conscious about the clarity part. Like I was focused on the piece and then actually, yeah, the clarity did come and you’re right it was the combination of those things that then all of a sudden resulted in courage I couldn’t find before so I’m just blown away. 

I’m thinking about fundraisers right now, specifically. And what you were just saying about all those voices that cloud us, like the people we hear in our heads. Nonprofit structures in general are set up for a lot of that chatter, there’s a board of directors that needs to make decisions. 

One of the things that as a people pleaser by nature that I really struggled with as a nonprofit leader was I would have 12 board members, and they were never all going to be happy with me at the same time. So then I always had a boss that was disappointed in something I was doing, and it felt like this situation was really set up for failure in a lot of ways. And I really struggled to find peace and clarity because of it. 

What are some things like, even just hearing that setup of that situation, that you encourage people to do when they’re in a situation like that? 

Sheri: You just described I think the most common challenge for everybody regardless of your profession, but probably even more amplified in the nonprofit space is when you have drive and drive is what allows you to achieve and excel and get to certain places in your career, but confidence doesn’t keep up. 

The drive is what pushes us to achieve, confidence is who we are when we get there. And so now you’re at that position, you’re the executive director and you have these 12 board of directors that you report to and drive allows you to meet your targets, raise the money, implement the programs, have solid programming, and really satisfy who you are there to serve. 

The confidence is “Did you do a good job? You didn’t really raise all the money.” Confidence then allows you to question or more importantly, confidence doesn’t allow you to really own the truth of your success, the truth of your accomplishments. And so just what you said, you’re answering to 12, right?

And you’re never going to be able to satisfy all of them, that’s drive. Confidence says “I don’t have to satisfy any of you. I just have to know that I did the work and I did the work in excellence and I achieved the goals that I set”. And so the challenge, the opportunity for us is to allow drive and confidence to work together.

And how do we really focus on that? That’s where the peace about clarity and courage again comes in. Those are the three things that we focus on that allow us to help drive and confidence work together. 

Mallory: Okay. I love that. So I know when you and I first talked, we spoke a lot about worthiness and the end feeling like we deserve even success and that coming up for women in particular, and so many of the women I work with inside the nonprofit sector. 

How does confidence relate to that? To those feelings of deserving and worthiness?

Sheri: Oh, my goodness. I have a phenomenal friend, sister, colleague who runs an impactful nonprofit, and I’ve literally been her coach and her friend from day one.

And so for the last five years, it’s been the hustle and the grind to build this brand, get the funding, to get the consistent funding, to get the partners. And so now she has phenomenal partners that are in, with significant financial investments in the nonprofit. She’s now in a position to hire an executive director and she feels guilty.

She’s really struggling with, okay am I wrong because now I can get a salary? I’m having to really talk to her about the fact that you have to make sure that everyone that you are there to serve, that they are served but not at the expense of yourself. You’re not the martyr.

And I think a part of that, especially in the nonprofit world, is feeling like you have to martyr yourself in order for you to be a success. And what I’ve had to share with her is it’s not about you martyring yourself to be a success, it’s about the people that are served. It’s about the community that you impact.

But a lot of times, and I’ve seen this so consistently, and I think you’ve probably have to, there is this guilt of, “I shouldn’t receive what I’m receiving because I should be the martyr” and that’s not the case. The biggest piece in that is if you’re not there, no one benefits. You have to benefit.

So the big piece in that is really being able, again, to understand your worthiness, but it goes back to your value, really understanding your value and not allowing your value and the nonprofit to be equal. Because you’re then going to always have this connection of my value is where the nonprofit is.

The value in you is the vision and the guidance that you provide and the value in the nonprofit is how it serves. They do not have to mirror each other. And they definitely do not have to continue to align with each other because they really are mutually exclusive. And it’s hard for someone who’s birthed this to really understand because it’s like “Oh but this is my baby!”. And that’s the big place of confidence, you have to be confident in who you are and you have to be driven to run this nonprofit. Both of them have to co-exist equally. 

Mallory: I love that. And I’m sure there are gonna be a ton of people listening to this right now that are like standing on their chairs clapping and want their board of directors to listen to this.

I think it’s such an important lesson and we do in the nonprofit sector fall into this like martyrdom’s scarcity. And because we see so many examples of people doing it who get a lot of praise, right? So a lot of people who come into the sector are people-pleasers,  helpers by nature who really have that sort of energy about them.

They want to be of service which comes oftentimes with a lot of those similar traits. And then they watch people get so much praise and so much positive feedback for doing exactly that. How do we unwind some of those things? You’ve worked with so many people who have broken through monumental structural challenges, systematic challenges.

So I feel like there probably people listening to this were like, “that’s what I want, that sounds great, but how could I be the first? Or the first at least in my sort of visible real?”

Sheri: I’m probably gonna answer a different question, but it’s going to come back to what you’re saying. There’s a gentleman that owns a for-profit company and he also owns a nonprofit. He makes eight, nine, 10 figures, he’s a multimillionaire and he makes no excuse for the amount of money that he makes in his for-profit company because the money he makes in his for-profit allows him to make a total impact with his non-profit. 

I had to learn from him, I really watched, because he literally said he had to grow to the place where he stopped making excuses for making money because it’s the money that allows him to make an impact. And so the point in that is it’s a mindset.

It is a mindset and it applies across the board. When you separate yourself and understand one, “I’m going to be confident in who I am”, separate yourself from that, and then the paradigm shift of “I’m raising this money because I want to make an impact”.

And one of my mentors, said to me, “Sheri, here’s why I make no apologies for the amount of money that I make”. And he’s a multimillionaire,  he said, “because I’m always factoring in the amount of money on time. So every year I don’t focus on how much I make. I focus on how much I tie. So I will say, I want to tie $2 million. That means I’ve got to make 20 million.”

So when he had that paradigm shift, it allowed him to be focused on how he was going to serve with his money, not how much money he was making. And he has doubled and tripled his income every year because he’s focused on how much he’s going to give away. And what I’ve found is people in the nonprofit space that really are genuinely at that next level of success, make no apologies for the money they make because their integrity is about how much they give and how much they serve.

Take the nonprofit out. I said to people and clients that they’ll say, but I don’t want to be perceived as arrogant, or I don’t want to be perceived as someone that’s full of themselves and I’ll go, “are you arrogant?”

And they go, “no, no way”. I said, then you won’t be perceived that way. Are you someone that’s fully herself? Absolutely not. Then you won’t be perceived that way. So you’ve got to take that filter off of you because no one else has it, but if you continue to own that filter, then that’s how you’re going to come across. But again, it goes back to our own personal relationship with ourselves and our own personal confidence. 

Mallory: Yes. Gosh, one of the things that I feel like I’m hearing in what you’re saying and correct me if I’m wrong. This is why it’s so important to understand the mindset or the beliefs that you’re projecting onto a situation.

Because I hear you talking about one client who really shifts his mindset around the money he’s making, based on the money he’s given away. And then there are other clients that need to shift their mindset around money because it’s rooted to them deserving money and they do deserve money. So I think people, maybe who haven’t experienced coaching before, want to put some of these things inside boxes. 

I talk a lot about the money mindset and how one of the things that transformed my fundraising the most was when I started to get really honest about my own spending habits. I started to watch how I spent money, how I made decisions about when I was willing to purchase something,  when I wasn’t, how I watched money move through my own life in different ways.

No wonder I’m having money problems, I can’t buy myself a pair of boots when there isn’t a financial barrier. Okay. There’s a belief there about money that is impacting both of the things simultaneously. What I love about what you’re asking everyone to do is what is it for you? What is holding you back from taking the action?

That’s going to give you clarity and give you the courage to make the change that you want in your life.

Sheri: And it really is. You hit it. It’s that relationship that you have with money. It’s the belief. My father would always tell me, “Get an education, be the best you could be. Do all these amazing things, you’re qualified”.

And I’m talking about from birth, they say these things to me. But then I would also hear him say things, not to me, but in general, he would say, “Who does she think she is? Just because she has the VP title, who does she think she is though here?” That mixed message. 

He’s telling me to be all I could be, but he also has this “Who does she think she is about the places he’s telling me I can go”.  Well, when we have that kind of conflict in our own relationship with money and our own relationship with how we serve, it’s inevitable that we have this split personality of, “I want to go and make a lot of money so I can build this amazing foundation so that I can do this tremendous work but I’m scared to ask because I don’t want you to think bad of me”.

And so that’s that dichotomy, that relationship with money, as you said, it’s that individual, what is your belief? What is your belief? What is your belief around money? What is your belief around yourself? Do you feel like you have to be moral? Do you feel like you can’t be wealthy and still serve? 

That’s the power of coaching. That’s the power of that internal conversation of being able to really uncover what’s your relationship and what ceilings have you put on you that inevitably are going to be a feeling in the organization. 

Mallory: Yes. For me, it’s been like, what are the condition tendencies that I’ve adopted because of beliefs I haven’t looked at? And oftentimes for me, it has been those condition tendencies that have alerted me to a problem of burning out. I keep falling into this situation of overdrive. Why do I keep falling into this situation of overdrive? Oh, because I’m hustling my face off, why am I hustling my face off? Like really why? And then it comes back to because if I don’t hustle that hard then… 

And if I keep asking that question, first I’ll say, if I don’t hustle that hard, then so and so doesn’t get paid. But really at the end of that stream of questioning is if I don’t hustle that hard, then I’m not valuable. 

Sheri: I’m not worthy. Yeah. And needing that validation of “you did a good job”. Needing that validation because we’re not giving it to ourselves.

Mallory: Yeah. I remember the first time I said that. The first time I ever had a coach, I was 22, and at that point, coaching was not known the way it is today. But I was really lucky to have a boss to be like “You don’t know what you want to do with your life. So I want your professional development to be spent on coaching”.

And the first time I said those words if I don’t hustle that hard, I don’t feel like I’m valuable or worthy or lovable even. That my worth is tied to how hard I push myself, it was so painful to see that, it was really painful. And sometimes I think about even when I have discovery calls around potential clients, I can see the fear in having to go there and having to answer some of these questions and sinking into that.

What do you think about that? How do people become courageous to find their deeper courage? Like just take that first courageous step? 

Sheri: Yeah. A lot of people don’t, let’s just be honest. With the nine principles of exponential living, the eighth principle is the courage to be faithful and it’s about healing.

And to be honest, that’s where a lot of people get stuck because they do not have the courage to be faithful. And when I say the cars to be faithful, I’m not talking about religion or spirituality. I’m talking about, do you have the courage to be faithful enough to yourself? To your point, to really answer those hard questions?

And a lot of times I’ve had clients that just weren’t able to do it. Those clients that have, that are willing to have that courage to be faithful, to really have those conversations with themselves and really ask those tough questions and then answer them, it really boils down to their ability, to what I call, to be ready, willing, and committed.

You’re ready for the breakthrough. You’re willing to do the work and you’re committed to whatever it’s going to be to get you to the other side. So I won’t work with clients that aren’t ready, willing, and committed because I know how hard it is, I know how painful it is, but also know how amazing and joyful it is on the other side.

I’ll share with you also, how this shows up as self-sabotage. And it can be subtle and it can be great. Let’s say you’re the executive director and your target is $250,000 and you make the $250,000 and you’re like, yes! But then you’ll go and have a challenge with someone who’s the head of a department or head of a program.

Why did you do that? You hit your target. Why did you go create this tension with someone who’s running one of the programs? It’s a form of self-sabotage because you can’t feel good enough about yourself that you hit this target so you go create another problem that you then have to fix because you have this addiction to having to fix things, having to create things. So the elixir for that is if you recognize that in yourself and your target is say 250,000, you hit the target. You absolutely need another challenge, don’t go create the challenge. That’s the self-sabotage when you recognize this about yourself, you go. Yes. Yes. And next quarter, I want to get to 300,000. 

But if you recognize this about yourself, then you recognize you need the challenge. Now what happens is we’ll self-sabotage in some way form or fashion, because we haven’t done the work to uncover who and what we are, and it doesn’t make you bad that you need the challenge, what makes it bad is when you don’t know how to deal with it in a healthy way. So you go create a mess vs. dealing with it in a healthy way. 

I need the challenge. Okay. I hit my target, now I need to instantly create another challenge that’s a healthy challenge. That’s why it’s so important to do the work. And here’s the biggest thing, we have to remove the right or wrong. If we can remove the right or wrong and just deal with the fact that it isn’t right or wrong that you need the challenge, it just is. But because we always want to quantify things as that’s right in me and that’s wrong in me, that’s where we create the problem.

So if we could remove that, then we would allow ourselves to do the hard work, to get to those challenging areas, and figure out how we can grow through it. 

Mallory: I’m obsessed with this conversation. This is really interesting, and so I’m wondering if I can bring these two conversations together a little bit.

I just interviewed Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett, who wrote How Emotions Are Made, and one of the things that were really interesting talking about her science and research around emotions is the idea of uncertainty and ambiguity causing us essentially to burn more metabolic calories essentially. Our body,  that might not be the term that she uses, but I think it’s close to that, but basically, the idea that biologically, we as humans want predictability and we want to classify things because it takes less energy and we only have a certain amount of metabolic energy to spend over the course of our lives. 

So we’re constantly trying to keep ourselves out of states of anxiety, for example, or stress. And we perceive uncertainty to be that. And so one thing that she and I didn’t really get to dive into too much, but that I think is super relevant for this conversation is how do people go there? 

Because I am also not a very black and white thinker, I think of myself as fairly non-judgemental and very much just being like, okay, this is uncomfortable or this is comfortable, but it just this is what’s happening, and way less oh, I’m bad for thinking that or believing that or having done that thing.

But I recognized when I talked to her that really the trick here is how do we help people burn less metabolic energy in the uncertainty. What do you think?

Sheri: Oh my goodness. When you were sharing, what came to mind is “that’s the power of coaching”. Is when you have someone to go into that place of ambiguity with you, and having that assurance that I’m not doing this alone, I’m not doing this by myself. 

And then also there’s some accountability. If I am going to do this, I don’t want to get in there by myself and then figure it out. There’s some accountability once I get there. As you were talking I’m like, “Oh my God, that right there is the power of coaching”.

Or if it’s not even a coach, the power of having that community or that village of friends that you can depend on when you get into those places and spaces. Having that best friend that if you call her if you don’t check her, she’s going to go left.  I think as you were sharing that, I’m like, “we don’t want to go into those spaces by ourselves”.

So how do we have that accountability or have someone that’s going on that journey with us, that we can withstand that space in place of ambiguity of not really knowing? And I get that with my clients a lot, they’re like, “Okay, let’s get to the answers”. And I’m like, “It doesn’t work like that”. 

I’ll tell them all the time in the first session or two, you’re going to have phenomenal information. Maybe within the first two to four, the six months, you’re going to get some great revelation, but real transformation, it takes about a year. So to tell somebody that you’re going to live in this state of trying to really get the transformation that goes back to why they have to be ready, willing, and committed.

Mallory: Yeah, I’ve been coaching folks, and when we’ve gotten to the point of answering a certain question where I know they have the clarity but are so afraid to say it and I ask them what it feels like and they are like “Honestly, this might sound crazy, but it feels like I might die”. And like I’ve had that come up a lot in coaching.

I assaulted myself like where the intensity of the answer could change everything. And what does that mean? And can I exist on the other side of it?

Sheri: And there are clients that go, you know what? I don’t even want to explore it. I know the hurt and pain and frustration on this side. It could be better on the other side, but I don’t even want to risk it and that’s sad to me because you’re willing to stay in this pain versus even risking the opportunity to be happy on the other side. 

That’s why I take them back to that peace, clarity, and courage because you can get the piece and you can get the clarity, but if you don’t have the courage to really live out what’s on the other side. And a lot of people don’t, they really don’t. 

Mallory: And even as you’re saying that I’m having like a full-body hit around how much I think this is true for fundraisers in their fundraising, right? They’re like, “God, this is so painful”. And I talk a lot about my experience and shifting from really hating fundraising to building the program that I teach now.

And it was a real rock bottom moment. It was like, I cannot keep doing this. So the answer is to change or the answer is to leave the nonprofit sector, but I was like, “this is not sustainable and I can’t keep going”. But there was so much pain, there’s 13 years of pain before that, where I never figured it out. And it really took hitting that moment.

When I think about so many other fundraisers, I do think that comes up for people so much. They’re like, “I know what the hustle looks like, and I know it sucks, but it might be way worse over there”. And gosh, it breaks my heart to watch people feel stuck in pain because of fears of the journey over. 

Sheri: Oh, that breaks my heart, it really does. It took a lot for me to stop taking accountability for that because I wanted so desperately to get them to the other side. And there are so many clients that do go to the other side, but I had to finally accept that until a person has either gone through so much pain that they just absolutely surrender to the process, they won’t move out of it because that’s familiar. Even though it’s painful, it is familiar. 

And back to your previous interview, that familiarity is more comforting for them. Then the idea of that ambiguity or that space in between this place of pain and the potential of not feeling the pain. I don’t want to go into that place of ambiguity, I don’t know how long that’s going to be, I’m going to stay comfortable. I got family members like.

Mallory: I remember describing it to someone when I went on my journey around this as I feel like I walked into a really dark tunnel and I just keep believing that it is a tunnel and I’m going to keep taking one step forward and one step forward, and there’s going to be light.

I don’t know how long the tunnel is or how long I’m going to be in there. But I just know it’s a tunnel and I just keep believing that. But it is so scary. 

And there’s something you said that I’m actually now really itching to ask you about. A question I get a lot and I’ve seen different coaches’ perspectives and frameworks on this, but a question people ask a lot is how do you tell the difference between fear and intuition?

How do you answer that? 

Sheri: Oh my goodness. Oh my goodness. That is a big one. Gosh, I may get biblical in the response. Yes, I’m gonna have to get biblical. I’m a woman of faith. I don’t put my faith in anyone. But in the Bible it talks about, God is a God of conviction, never of guilt.

So there’s that thin line between how do you know the difference between being convicted and when you feel guilty? And so in that place of guilt, it’s telling you, you did something wrong and there’s no hope there in that place of conviction, it’s saying this is something you need to do differently.

So guilt says you’ve done something wrong. Conviction says you can do this differently. And that’s how I see that fear. And that intuition fear is what tells you to stop. It slows you down. It’s making you feel bad. It’s telling you that there’s something about you. It’s out of order. Intuition is giving you a light. It’s showing you a pathway. It’s saying that there’s something here that you need to be mindful of. 

So both feelings can feel the same, but it’s the intention, right? Like conviction and guilt, fear and intuition. So fear is what’s trying to hold you back and make you feel bad. Intuition is trying to push you forward and allow you to be aware of what’s coming or what’s there.

That would be my elementary. 

Mallory: We have the 1.0, version here, but actually I’m like covered in chills and it’s actually very similar to how I would describe it to, and I was thinking, as I was asking you the question, I’m like, “Oh man, Mallory, how would you answer this now?”

I actually think about it in a very similar way. To me, fear is black and white thinking. It’s judgment. There’s no space for anything else, it’s like this thing was absolutely positively the worst thing you could do, right? There’s no space for anything, it’s definitely bad. And intuition curious, it is like maybe next time you could, or what if, or it’s the prism.

The way I was trained as a coach was through this organization called the IPAC and you do energy leadership work. And so you talk about catabolic energy, like really defeating, resisting, contracting energy versus anabolic energy that’s really fueling, rejuvenating, propels you forward. And catabolic energy is like tunnel vision, black and white thinking, judgment, anabolic energy is the prism of possibility.

And so when I think about fear versus intuition, being at the top of that prism and see, or being at the bottom of like catabolic energy. They feel very similar, but they sound very different. 

Sheri: Yes, absolutely. I’m in total agreement with you and you said that judgment, that condemnation of who you are versus just correction on what you’ve done. Oh my God, the challenges, they feel the same. It goes back to what we talked about earlier, but it’s your perspective around it. It’s your mindset around it. Half full and half empty. 

Mallory: Yes. And making the decision to bring self-awareness into your daily life. 

Sheri: Yes. Yes. As a consistent component of each day, right? Not just something we do on our birthdays and New Year’s Eve.

Mallory: Totally. I can’t remember what you were talking about this in relation to before, but maybe it’ll come back to me as I’m sharing this story, it’s so interesting when we expect certain things to happen to us. Oh, when you were sharing the story of knowing that you need that next goal. Like that’s not about it being bad or good. 

It was making me think of, gosh, there’s so many things in my life that now that I understand that’s my tendency or that’s what I need or that’s, what’s going to happen in my brain, all the pain around it goes away. 

Like imposter syndrome of course I deal with imposter syndrome, just like every human. The thing is that when I hear that voice, I actually believe now it’s a really good sign. I’m like, “Ooh, you’re here, you’ve come to the party which means I’m really on the edge of the boundary of my comfort. Such a good sign. Welcome. You don’t get the microphone, but you’re here.” 

Sheri: That perspective, that is so key. That perspective that you are absolutely outside of your comfort zone, and that’s a great thing versus feeling it and wanting to go back in your shelter, like no, own it on the discomfort. 

I think if we could get to that point of owning our discomfort that would just help us in so many ways. And I’ve in my own life, I’ve really worked hard to own it like “Sheri this is what you prayed for. This is the manifestation of your prayer. You’ve got to own it. Be comfortable in it. You’ve never been here before, so naturally, it feels new.”

And that’s why, when you talked about fear and intuition, it’s like, there’s that healthy fear. The Bible says do not fear, but there’s that healthy energy that’s released because you’ve never been here before, but it’s what you prayed for. So you’ve gotta be able to experience the manifestation of what you’ve prayed for our work towards or the goal that you’ve reached. Which goes back to being a nonprofit and being able to build something and then being able to own what you’ve built versus feeling guilty about the success or about the achievement that you’ve reached.

Mallory: Yes. Yeah. I love that you brought that full circle because I’ll say even one thing I hear a lot is that people and the ways they self-sabotage. They’re like “I don’t want to raise that much more because then I’ll have to do it again next year”.

Wait, what?! But I think the more we become comfortable with discomfort. Just knowing I’ve overcome discomfort many times before and I’ve been outside of my comfort zone many times before it almost then I feel like for me, at least it’s programmed me to almost be more comfortable with the discomfort. 

It’s okay, here it is. I know what this feels like in my body. Is it my favorite thing? No, but it’s going to pass, and just be with it for a second. 

Sheri: And give ourselves permission to make mistakes. That fear of making a mistake, but it’s like giving ourselves grace. I tell my team, I don’t believe in mistakes. I just believe in learning different ways to do something. So if you give yourself permission to make a mistake, then you learn a different way to do it and that’s not the way to do it. 

I’ve got a client now who just got a major promotion and she is so gripped in the fear of making a mistake. She’s going to make mistakes because she is afraid to make a mistake. And so just being able to give herself permission to not only make a mistake but once you give yourself permission to understand that you can make a mistake. Now you can think clearly. 

Who are the advocates that will cover you in this new position? That’s where you need to make sure that you’re talking to. What are the departments that are most likely to need extra help?

But as long as you keep this idea of I don’t want to make a mistake you’re not going to put together a plan because you’re so gripped in the fear of making a mistake. So if we could just give ourselves permission to make a mistake or reframe it and say, “I’m going to learn a different way to do something”, that in and of itself empowers us in so many ways.

Mallory: Yes. Oh, I love that. There’s one other thing I want to talk about really quickly, which is, I feel like when we talked last time, we talked about what happens when people own their story, when they get clear and when they have peace and they get courageous, they own their story in a way where they become a magnet.

And I want you to talk about that a little bit because I love it so much. And then we’ll move on to some of the final questions. Yeah. 

Sheri: I’ll use me as an example for this one. I will tell my own story in transparency. When I was probably about eight, nine, or 10, my grandmother, who didn’t mean anything malicious, but she said to me, “Sheri you talk too much”.

I was a loquacious child. I did talk a lot, but fast forward, like in my early forties, and I’m at that place where I know I’m supposed to be a speaker. I know I’m supposed to do this, but I literally, I’m just not moving in it. And I had a call at Les Brown and I remember him saying, “Sheri, you need to own your greatness. You need to own your own truth”. 

I literally had forgotten about what my grandmother said but it allowed me to have that memory of, “Oh my God, my grandmother told me I talked too much”. Imagine trying to be a speaker, but the voice in the back of your head is saying “you talk too much”. And so being able to quiet that voice and realize that that is who I am, that is my superpower. That is the greatness that’s within me. 

So I began to stop telling people, “Oh, I don’t like Facebook Live and I don’t like Instagram Live” when the truth of the matter is I have a lot to say and I have a lot to share, but I had put a cap on my own voice because what had been said to me. 

So now that I’ve genuinely owned my greatness and genuinely owned my story, oh my God, Mallory I’m a magnet! How did you find me? Our world would never cross! This is the manifestation of when I owned my story. Do I talk a lot? Absolutely. But I have something to say, and here’s why I’m solid in that now and owning my story because I’ve done the work I’ve done, the work I’ve been trained to do. 

I’ve put in the hours, I’ve paid the price of sacrifice to get to a place where I’m not just talking, I have something valuable to say. Now that I’ve owned my story, I am a magnet for opportunity. Now I refuse that whole, “I’m always hustling”. When you don’t own your story, you do have to hustle because you’ve got to go create, where now that I’ve owned my story what I say now is I’m a magnet for opportunity. I am a magnet for wealth. I claim that I am a magnet, but I never had that confidence until I truly own my truth and own my story. And that’s something, that’s the gift I wish I could give every listener that you have, you have to own your story. 

And that way it’s not about the hustle you become the magnet for that, which you pull into you because you own your own story. 

Mallory: Oh my God. Yeah. I hope people let that seep into their bones.

Yes. Okay. I am so grateful for you and I’m so grateful that you made the decision to own your story and be in your full self because we are all benefiting from it in so many ways. 

I’m so honored to have had you on the show. I want you to tell folks one, how they can find you, get in touch, all the things, and then also to highlight a nonprofit or the scholarship.

Because we really want to foster a community of giving and money movement that feels good and in accordance with all of our values.  

Sheri: Yes. So my website, my Instagram and my YouTube is Sheri Riley. And if you want to order the book, Exponential Living: Stop Spending 100% of Your Time on 10% of Who You Are, anywhere books, audio, books, and eBooks are sold, but you can also get autographed copies at peaceisthenewsuccess.com. 

I have a scholarship in the name of my parents, it is in honor of my parents The Huguely Scholarship Fund at the University of Louisville. I would absolutely love any contributions or donations. And again, I’m from a small town so what I do is honor people from my hometown that go to my alma mater.

We actually either pay their books or pay their tuition. And so being from a small town and there’s, any and everything that could keep you down in a small town exists in my hometown. And so being able to honor students there and be able to help them get through college it’s the Huguely Scholarship Fund.

I definitely would love that support. And then also to order my book at peaceisthenewsuccess.com. 

Mallory: Awesome. And I will have those links below to make it really easy for everyone to find everything they need. Thank you. Thank you for this time today. 

Sheri: I so appreciate the opportunity to share. Thank you for how you’re serving and I just love the work you’re doing, so thank you for this opportunity to share.


Mallory: Thank you.

Executive Coaching executive coaching executive coaching executive coaching Executive Coaching executive coaching executive coaching executive coaching Executive Coaching executive coaching executive coaching executive coaching Executive Coaching executive coaching executive coaching executive coaching Executive Coaching executive coaching executive coaching executive coaching Executive Coaching executive coaching executive coaching executive coaching Executive Coaching executive coaching executive coaching executive coaching Executive Coaching executive coaching executive coaching executive coaching Executive Coaching executive coaching executive coaching executive coaching Executive Coaching executive coaching executive coaching executive coaching Executive Coaching executive coaching executive coaching executive coaching Executive Coaching executive coaching executive coaching executive coaching Executive Coaching executive coaching executive coaching executive coaching Executive Coaching executive coaching executive coaching executive coaching Executive Coaching executive coaching executive coaching executive coaching

Scroll to Top


Just put in your name and email to let the magic begin….
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

You're one step away from getting my favorite tools!

Just put in your name and email to let the magic begin….
This is default text for notification bar