Fri, Nov 11, 2022 4:43 PM

Ever-evolving journey of self


Tessa Jaine

For Tanya Pouwhare, finding holistic success has been an ever-evolving journey of self. Tanya shares some pivotal life experiences, thoughts on success and looking beyond designated roles in a podcast with Entrepreneurial Women with Purpose’s Catherine van der Meulen.

Photo by Sarah Brown | Words by Megan Smith

Meet Tanya Pouwhare, CEO of NZ Ethical Employers. An organisation transforming the lives of not only affiliated business owners and companies but also remarkably improving their employees’ work lives and positively impacting communities across Aotearoa. Her passion for driving ethical business practices that focus on the well-being of staff and seeking out viable solutions to address supply chain issues within our primary industries is undoubtedly the culmination of her past experiences and devotion to living life with intention.

When pressed with what success means to her, Tanya answers, “You are always inclined to want to go with your designated roles, as if this is who you are, but it is not. To be honest, I am still playing with the idea of who I am as a person, outside of relationships, mother, or business owner. The careful reflection of what I bring to those things matters most. I am learning to accept the parts of myself that I previously thought were too dark or those things that I was not willing to sit with that I realize are not necessarily bad things but make up the fabric of who we are and make us unique. My heart, focus, and energy, paired with the inherent belief that there is good in everyone (even if you must dig to find it), allows me to shine a light on my role as a mother, leader, and role in friendships and among family. I like to lead with heart and have learnt to listen to my gut and trust what it says. Inevitably success is an ever-evolving journey of self. We are all on this trek, and I think this is a potent tool in allowing us to redefine our beliefs and values, even if they are completely different to what they were yesterday, a week ago, a year ago, or even twenty years ago. There is a freedom that comes with opening your mind and heart up to new information and being able to shape them to sit better with who you are today”.

Listening to a person with such knowing and conviction of self is an inspiration, and it is easy to see how this translates into her work. As she expresses, seeking her purpose and knowing what she wanted to do with her life was a very different tale growing up as a little girl in Marlborough. “Back then, it was all about respecting your parents, elders, teachers, and the constructs that come with an education system that drives the notion of doing well and going off to find work. We are basically pushed through a system that moulds us into becoming good employees. I never understood why respect needed to be given to authority figures in my life without a deep understanding of who they were and what they contributed to my life. So, I kept my head down and accepted that success was probably to keep my head down and take the path of least resistance. When I reflect on those days, I see plenty of lost opportunities to be ok with asking questions, other than ticking the boxes assigned to me”.

When Tanya was in her twenties, she went on a trip of self-discovery. “When you step outside the confines of a regulated system and are now being told to be yourself, you begin to question what that means, and it falls apart. I had a deep fear of being alone and relationships defining who I was, so I headed to Australia and left all my support, family, and friend structures behind me, liberated into discovering what was it I liked and did not like. It made me understand where I fit into the wheel and what I could offer the world, community, relationships, and self”.

Tanya says that she has always struggled with the question of what a meaningful life looks and feels like to her. “When you perceive something as negative, given enough time and distance, it turns out to be the best for you. This happened a few times in my life and supported me in establishing meaning”. The story of her bombing an important interview for a role in the sports department of ABC Studios located in Sydney, Australia, is a testament to having the forethought to accept experiences as they come in. “I wanted the job, and my mind went blank during the interview. When asked what TV shows I was watching, I replied, ‘The Kardashians,’ and could not think of anything else. I do not know why I said that. I obviously did not get the job, but they must have seen something in me, and I was placed into a three-year management course that provided me with a wealth of information. Something that, had I got the job and switched departments, I would have never received or experienced, which has brought me to where I am today”.

Lastly, Tanya suggests that there is not one set of tools for seeking holistic success. “We need to be more conscious of the decisions we make each day, what to say, how to say it, the choices we make, and the actions we take. Ultimately, they all carry weight and profoundly impact people and the world!”

Learn more about Tanya Pouwhare and other entrepreneurial women via Catherine van der Meulen’s ‘Entrepreneurial Women with Purpose Podcast.’

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