I’ve been at my job for seventeen years. I have trained those who became my boss and have consistently been passed over for a promotion. yet I can’t bring myself to leave.

One of the participants blurted this out, tearfully sobbing during a workshop I recently led at a local funding organization. I asked her if it was ok for me to touch her shoulders. She nodded, whispering “yes” and I stopped the presentation. I had to hold space with her, acknowledging that she was being heard and seen. What she needed was beyond the scope of the workshop, so I encouraged all the women in the room to turn their attention to her for a few minutes.

Perhaps this moment would empower her to take a small courageous step; the day she would make the decision to do something differently. She had already taken the first step – showing up to the workshop, allowing herself to be vulnerable. As the other women sat closer to her, I knew only a journey of self-discovery could re-ignite the flame in her soul to dream again and take action on her life – she needed to find her inner heroine to not let this be the bitter story that would define her life.

She had arrived at the workshop late and I remember feeling the energy in the room shift immediately. I knew her spirit had been crushed so much that I could not recommend taking bold actions so I emphasized taking small courageous steps to begin her journey. All the women in the room gave her the permission to leave that job, releasing her of any guilt she had of leaving her colleagues behind.