On Becoming an Expert

by Suzee Connole

One sentence brought Lisa Sullivan to the Certificate in Positive Psychology and, ultimately, changed the trajectory of her career: If you’re going to teach it, you need to become an expert first.

Lisa was a corporate marketing executive, and that line from her supervisor kept coming back to her as she researched techniques for bringing mindfulness into the workplace. She searched the words “emotional intelligence,” and the Certificate in Positive Psychology (CiPP) popped up. It was starting that same week at Kripalu, so Lisa took it as a sign.

“Wholebeing Institute and CiPP were placed in front of me when I needed them,” she says. “It was completely fortuitous.” She signed up and was on her way to becoming an expert.

CiPP took everything I believed in and gave it science,” says Lisa. She brought the lessons she was learning in positive psychology, mindfulness, and well-being back to her workplace—but not long after graduating and implementing the teachings at her company, she was laid off.

“After 25 years in the workforce, I didn’t have a job,” she recalls. “What was I supposed to do?” She revisited her notes from CiPP and found Tal Ben-Shahar’s three-question process:

  • What gives you meaning?
  • What gives you pleasure?
  • What are you good at?
  • Her answers: Positive Psychology and Let Your Yoga Dance. A self-proclaimed introvert, Lisa went out of her comfort zone during CiPP and fell in love with Let Your Yoga Dance (LYDD), an essential part of the CiPP experience. “I’d never done yoga, I was totally out of shape, but something about it spoke to me,” she says. “It was healing.” After being laid off, she decided to dive deeper, and trained with Megha Nancy Buttenheim to become a certified LYDD instructor.

    Now an expert in both positive psychology and Let Your Yoga Dance, Lisa took the next step in finding meaning and pleasure, by launching a project she called Camp Atta Girl. She describes it as a “campy adventure for your soul,” designed for women who feel stuck, want more out of life, feel held back and need a jump-start,or just want to recharge and have fun.

    With Camp Atta Girl, Lisa melds lessons from CiPP and LYDD, with the mission to help women stop thinking small. The curriculum supports women to access their joy and power, find tools for staying grounded, express themselves, and tap into self-love and a sense of purpose.

    “After being laid off, I found that I wasn’t thinking or dreaming big,” Lisa says. “Camp Atta Girl is intended to show women they can still play big. The world needs them to shine and have a voice. I believe that every woman—no matter what age, what color, what profession, what size—deserves an ‘atta girl’ for all she’s done in life.”

    Lisa hosted her first retreat in August at Camp Lucy in Dripping Springs, Texas. While the event was limited to 24 women, Lisa envisions it reaching many others through what she calls the “Power of WOW”—WOW stands for Waking up One Woman.

    “If I can wake up one woman, she can wake up another, and that one will bring it forward to another. It’s a wave of empowerment,” says Lisa. She’s hoping that this wave will keep rising year after year—making more and more women experts in living fulfilled and happy lives.

    To be featured in one of our upcoming alumni spotlights, contact Suzee Connole, WBI’s Marketing Assistant, at [email protected].

    Suzee Connole is the Marketing Assistant for Wholebeing Institute. Part of her role at WBI involves highlighting how alumni, faculty, and guest speakers are taking positive psychology principles and applying them in the communities where they live and work.

    Lisa Sullivan is a CiPP graduate and certified Let Your Yoga Dance teacher. A former corporate marketing executive, she is the founder of Camp Atta Girl.