Archetypal Woman Olajumoke Osode interview with Mary Margaret Skelly, Career Advisor
Can you tell us a little bit about the work you do?
I am a leadership, wellness and personal coach/advisor/consultant as well as a writer. In my former life, I worked at various United Nations Peacekeeping Missions as a political analyst/humanitarian affairs officer and special assistant. It was there that I became fascinated by the topic of leadership, wellness, self-care and personal development. Working under several high-profile UN leaders and alongside government officials gave me a strong insight into leadership – – the good, bad and ugly aspects. I believe that managing your own personal leadership is critical to leading others. As part of my work, I dedicate myself to studying the esoteric, world systems, leaders, human behavior and different cultures. I also believe that wellness and self-care are very important components of leadership that tend to be highly overlooked. As women, our bodies are highly sensitive to prolonged stress which can diminish one’s input and how we relate to ourselves and others. As a black woman who has worked in highly-stressed conflict and post conflict work environments, and on top of who had faced issues related to racism, sexism and balancing family, one can really be left mentally, emotionally and spiritually drained. I truly get it when Angela Davis speaks about radical self-care and wellness. Through this work, I’d like to bring a new type of leadership into the world – – one that breaks with the past models that are often linear, theoretical and destructive. I also enjoy writing, and even though most of my writing over the years has been more analytical in nature, I am trying my hand at fiction. I wish to tell the stories of black women who come from backgrounds that aren’t the norm. Writing to me is also a form of self-care and wellness.
We are in a time of rapid change! What encouraging trends are you seeing in your industry?
I am seeing a shift from personal coaching/advising/consulting to being purely transactional where the coach/advisor predicts the future (which no one can do by the way) and hands the client her/his wish on a platter for money, to it being where two people come together to create an energetic conveyance. As a coach/advisor, I pour the knowledge and wisdom into each client and the clients apply the knowledge into all aspects of their lives. The clients are responsible for they brings to the table in terms of their deep desire for something better and doing the inner work. It’s all about forging a symbiotic connection. A coach/advisor through listening and being empathetic is a healer for the other person. I am glad to see more black women and women of color step out of their comfort zones and not being afraid to get support through therapy/coaching/mentoring/advising.
What are some practical tools you use to help manage your time and energy?
I have lived a yoga and spiritual lifestyle for decades, and this keeps me grounded and keeps me highly attuned to the world around me especially being an intuitive empath. I pray often, do regular yoga, read, meditate and take lots of warm baths. And I journal when I get a download from my heart.
This is the Archetypal Woman Series, where we shine a spotlight on women who are bringing forth new, multidimensional ways of living and working. How would you describe the archetype you’re bringing onto the planet?
The archetype I am bringing onto the planet is of the renaissance sage woman who knows a little bit of everything, however isn’t cocky and moves quite mysteriously about the world. She practices self-care and wellness and knows when to say No, step back, rest and revive. She is compassionate, spiritual, open, heart-centered, empathetic, emotionally grounded, self-aware, firm, curious, takes responsibility, embodies a good balance of both feminine and male energies and has a strong relationship with God (which is to also have a strong relationship with yourself).
Can you tell us about a woman who has had significant impact on the trajectory of your career? What lessons did she impart?
On my mother’s side from Sierra Leone & Liberia, the women achieved extraordinary things. My late mother, Famatta Rose, had a challenging life and yet became a former United Nations officer. She then rose up the ranks in the world of diplomacy to become an Ambassador and UN Deputy Permanent Representative for the Republic of Liberia. Diplomacy at the time was extremely male-dominated, and yet she was able to break that barrier by remaining true to her femininity. She was fascinated by African and African-American leaders throughout the world. My mother wanted me to become a fiction writer, but instead I followed in her footsteps in terms of United Nations humanitarian and political analyses work. The lessons that my mother most imparted upon me during her time was that you can be a very powerful person from behind the scenes and still have a profound impact. My mother also taught me one of the saddest lessons in life which came from her death in 2017 due to a fatal stroke and heart attack. I learned the importance of self-care and wellness which helped me to recover from my grief. My mother was a major player from behind the scenes diplomatically in the work that dismantled, apartheid in South Africa and Namibia, ended civil wars in Sierra Leone and Liberia. She never took holidays or rested. She always had to be on the go in her high heels along with raising her family. In the end, it cost her her life by not paying attention to her health. I vowed to myself that I would not go down the same route. Mummy had so much to contribute had she lived.
What’s next for you? Do you have any projects in the pipeline you’d like us to know about? How can we support you and your work?
I am plugging away at my fiction work and pray that when I am done, it may be adapted into the small or big screen. As always, I continue to build my tool-kit of knowledge for my clients. I am always experimenting and working on various healing and repair modalities to help my clients heal. In working with me my clients should expect a deep dive. The way to support me is to promote my work to those who may be interested.
What message do you want to share with the world?
The world is going through a major transition and many people are awakening. The events of the past few months have shined a harsh light on the strong inequities in the world and the things that need to be transformed. Despite the unsettling clearings and purges that have been taking place, it is a tremendous opportunity to reimagine the future. The more of us who are dedicated to improving the planet and world around us, the more we will see those changes. However, it starts with people being brave enough to step outside their own comfort zones and get support on their journeys.