#83: The High Achiever’s Next Step with Maren Oslac

The High Achiever’s Next Step with Maren Oslac

We’ve all felt that masculine energy of pushing our way forward or climbing the next rung on the ladder. In today’s episode we’ll explore the feminine side with guest, Maren Oslac. She shares how her many years as a partner dancer helped her embrace femininity and learn to be rather than do as a high achiever. If you’re wondering what comes next after a life of hustle…this is it.

You’ll hear about:

  • [03:36] Maren’s experience in partner dancing and how it helped her embrace her femininity
  • [07:02] Her story of burnout and how she climbed out of it and created a better working environment for herself
  • [15:15] The masculine and feminine energy of collaboration and connection, how we are educated out of being and into doing, and how to unlearn that conditioning
  • [25:26] Peeling back the layers of ourselves and embodying femininity, and embracing being present, receptive and even more effective in our endeavors

Mentioned in this episode:

Maren Oslac (00:00):
It literally is surrendered because it's doing nothing. And yet it is completely ready to move and, and be active at any moment. It is waiting in poise. And that's how I think of the feminine. We have this, it's receptive. It's, it's allowing, and that doesn't mean that it's doing nothing.
Michelle Leotta (00:26):
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Michelle Leotta (01:36):
The other day I was talking about some loose plans that I might have for the future, maybe some real estate investing, I don't know. And my boyfriend stopped me and he said, you know, you aren't climbing a corporate ladder, but you're always climbing some kind of personal ladder. And I thought, yeah, yeah, that's about right. So if, if you're like me, if you're more of a high achieving type person, you know what that feels like, I think it can be an excellent quality. It can also mean that sometimes we're so wrapped up in what's next, that we don't stop and smell the roses today and appreciate how far we've come. And at a certain point we might wonder, well man, what is next? You know, I've done X, Y, and Z in my life. Where do I go from here? Well, my guess today is Barron Osec, a business evolver with a passion for excellence and a drive to help successful leaders wake up and up level their lives and their businesses pay attention. Towards the end of our interview, when Mar describes the cat waiting at the mouse hole and the very different energies that we can bring to our striving, our achieving mindsets, I think you'll like this. Maren, thank you for joining me today.
Maren Oslac (03:01):
I am honored and excited to be here.
Michelle Leotta (03:05):
Uh, we were just chatting before I hit record and you mentioned something about being a dancer, being a competitive dancer. And I have to tell you, first of all, I grew up competitively dancing. And so many of my clients are either ex gymnasts or dancers or competitive swimmers. Like I feel like many women who fall into this high achiever category. I don't know if we've always been that way and that's why we did the thing or we did the thing and it turned us into women who always wanna achieve. But tell us a little bit about your dancing. Well,
Maren Oslac (03:36):
I think that my own personal theory is that we are very grounded in our bodies and being physical is part of that, knowing yourself. And I think a lot of people who are high achievers have that aspect of we don't just wanna be intellectual, we want both sides. We wanna embody it and also like really go for it in life. And you know, all of the things that, that we're taught to want, it's like, right, let's go get it. It includes all of it, including the physical so
Michelle Leotta (04:12):
. Right. Well, you know, even thinking back to applying for colleges, you didn't just want the 4.0 on your, you know, record. You also had to be the captain of, uh, the soccer team and also the this and also the, that. I remember joining every club in high school just so I would have that really well rounded record
Maren Oslac (04:33):
. That's so true. That is so true. And for me, it was interesting cuz I never did dance as a child. Like I , I was such a tomboy. I had like ripped up my, the skirt that my mom bought me. She bought me this little tutu and I like, you know, ripped it up and threw it on the ground and stomped on it. I wanted nothing to do with girly things. And then in my twenties, I literally tripped and fell over dance. And the dance that I fell in love with is partner dancing. And so I started off in country dancing and we often think, so think of line dancing, uh, but I had found country dancing and which was partners and they were doing two step and they were doing Walts and they were doing all of this amazing stuff. And then I started taking lessons and I, I fell into ballroom dancing and I competed in ballroom dancing nationally and internationally.
Maren Oslac (05:24):
And then I competed and then I found swing dancing and I did that too. Oh, fun. So all of these things that were partnership oriented. And what I found for myself was that it brought me along a path of embracing my femininity. And in order to dance well with another person, you have to surrender, which, oh boy, I was so not that person. Like I said, I was such a tomboy, I was control freak a tomboy like I wanted to be. I was, I was actually angry that I was born as a girl, . And the dancing showed me the, the power of femininity and that it is an empowering place to come from and to, and everything happens for a reason. And I was gifted that 20 plus years and oh, now it's almost 30 years Wow. Of dancing because of the journey that it took me on and the honor that I now feel for being able to know both my masculine side and my feminine side through this journey of dance, of dance, of partner dancing.
Michelle Leotta (06:41):
So I think we're gonna talk more about this idea of masculine and feminine energy, but you mentioned that dance actually led you to a burnout state eventually. And uh, and so let's, let's dig in there. Cause so many of my podcast guests share a story of burnout. We'd love to hear a little bit more about yours and how you climbed out of
Maren Oslac (07:01):
It. Yeah, thanks. Where, where dance took me to was I actually retired from competing and opened a studio because I really wanted to share this passion that I had for connecting with another human being and connecting with creating a community. And so I opened a bar dance studio. And with any business there are ups and downs. And I, I started to realize that I was wanting to be at the studio less, and that when I got home, I would ignore my husband and go open some silly book, a romance novel or an action figure novel or you know, like I wasn't a TV person, I was a book person and I would just like bury myself in a book. And I made it okay because I, I told myself that I wasn't wasting time. I wasn't like surfing the internet and I wasn't watching tv. I was, I was improving my mind because I was reading he
Michelle Leotta (08:08):
well, there are worse things I see
Maren Oslac (08:10):
There are worse things quite possibly. And I put on some weight and I just, I all of a sudden I was like, wow, what, what is going on? And, and I was working with a coach at the time who was just beautiful because he, he never demeaned me or belittled me for it. He encouraged me to keep asking really the big questions, which is, why am I here? What does that call me to do? And who does that call me to be? And those are big, intimidating questions. And I was having a hard time with that. And I found that over time what I was committed to do was, in the morning before I would get up or get out of bed, I would sit with those questions and not have I have to do anything with it. I would just sit with them. And eventually I noticed that I started to have some other ideas for the studio and started building a better team and started shifting out of some toxic relationships that I was in.
Maren Oslac (09:21):
Not my husband. We're still together. Not that say that that's all perfect, but right? We, we work well together. And I had had some toxic instructors at my studio and some people that I didn't even wanna be there because of it. And I felt like one of the things that I was doing was I kept taking it all on myself. I was a rescuer and I was gonna help everybody and I was gonna fix it for everyone. And what I started to realize is that we can't do it alone. We're, we're not meant to do it for other people either. Like they have to step up for themselves and I'd given these particular people multiple opportunities and they, they hadn't taken it. And I had to set a boundary. And so as I started to do these actions that were, that were calling me that were really like, you know, we think of them as basic business things.
Maren Oslac (10:19):
And I didn't approach it from necessarily a, a figure it out, make it happen, do what's next perspective that push through that we're taught to do. It was coming much more from that feminine aspect that I had been learning in dance of really taking care of, if I were to really take care of this person, would it be actually keeping them in my employer? Would it be letting them go If I were really taking care of me, what would that look like? So if I was really answering those questions of being who I came to be, what would that call me to? And so I started moving more from that perspective. And that's how, for me, that's how I got out of it. And it really did shift my perspective and start me thinking from a higher state of mind rather than what I, the state of mind that I was trained in, which was, and you and I were talking about it earlier, it's a high rational achiever. Like the brain has all the answers and we can figure everything out.
Michelle Leotta (11:22):
Maren Oslac (11:22):
So I started to learn to transcend that.
Michelle Leotta (11:26):
I, I really like that thought that you just said, we're high rational achievers and we can figure everything out. And I think we've been there also, just that whole story, having a job or having some sort of commitment and you realize, I really don't wanna be here. I'm dreading this, you know, that's a, that's a feeling we have to pay attention to. Or we're coming home and we're zoning out whatever we're using to zone out. It could be wine, it could be chocolate, it could be be a book, it could be Netflix, whatever it is. And then that other thing you said about kept taking it on myself with this idea of I'm gonna fix it, I'm gonna rescue it. Did it ever cross your mind that it wasn't your job?
Maren Oslac (12:07):
No. . I love that though, because that's one of the questions that I started asking myself is, is it mine to do? I think that's for me become a super powerful question in my life of, I get excited about things and I, I get very passionate about things and then I want to, I wanna fix it all. I wanna, I wanna make it all work. And, and there's so many things that I'm interested in and I realized that it's not all mine to do that there are other people out there and it's theirs to do. And maybe I have a financial contribution that I can make. Or maybe there is a time con, maybe there's some piece of it that's mine, but it's not, it's like I don't have to fix everything. And when I, you know, it's like I can feel it. Like even when I say it, I can feel it relaxed in my body of like, oh, it's not all mine to do. Okay .
Michelle Leotta (13:02):
I kind of want everybody to try that. Like, you know, who's ever listening wherever you are, if you can say it out loud, say it out loud. If you're like on the subway or something, you can just say it to yourself, but I don't have to fix everything. Right. , what's sweet relief?
Maren Oslac (13:19):
What's sweet relief. Exactly. And it is, I started to, I was working with a business coach at the time, and one of the big lessons for me was around team and not just any team, because I had attracted a team that I still was taking things away from them that they needed that like, that codependent relationship of, I will tell 'em, no, that's not the way you do it. And I will take that outta their hands, , and then I will make, I'll show them how to do it and make them wrong. And I started to learn how to be a better leader. And those people actually left the studio because they hadn't evolved enough to be in a, in a relationship that wasn't codependent. And that's fine. No judgment, no whatever. It just is for me, what I noticed is that, again, I don't have to fix everything.
Maren Oslac (14:17):
I need to evolve myself. And then the stuff around me will change as I evolved and as I committed to being a better leader and saying, you know what, I'm not gonna take that outta their hands. I'm gonna let them do it and support them in doing it kind of like my coach did with me. And give them, Hey, have you thought about this? Have you asked this question? Have you explored that? They didn't wanna work in that environment. Hmm. They wanted to be told what to do, not given the freedom to do what they wanted to do with support and encouragement. So they went and found some place that was better suited for them. And I attracted the team that was better suited for me and it was amazing. And then my energy came back and yeah, it, it's, it's not all chocolate at roses, there's still effort. It just is that there's, it's different. It comes from a place of connection and collaboration instead of push and strive and I have to do it all.
Michelle Leotta (15:15):
Well those are perfect words to describe the difference between feminine energy and masculine energy.
Maren Oslac (15:20):
Very much so.
Michelle Leotta (15:22):
Connection and collaboration, that's a place that feels like a certain ease, even if the task at hand is really quite complex.
Maren Oslac (15:30):
Yes. So just as an example, when you're dancing with a partner, and if you can picture yourselves, and if you're driving, that's okay, just picture it, don't actually do it. But if you can picture yourself, like actually we, we probably all danced at a wedding or something where somebody's kind of pushing us around and we're not sure what to do and how do I do that? And then it's kind of almost like a little bit of a, a fight that's happening, right? It's a, a physical argument like, no, I should I wait, do I go there? Do I not? And now imagine that same scenario where you're actually working in unison and it's a partnership and that asking and receiving and then speaking back, it's all in flow. And my lifetime of dance, that's where I got to of like, oh, that's what it's like to work well with another person to create something that is bigger than I could do alone or that person could do alone. And yeah, is the connection and collaboration and it is the feminine energy. Very much so.
Michelle Leotta (16:36):
Oh, I like that. Actually, that was reminding me, and I've told this story on the podcast before, but when my boyfriend and I started dating and we went out dancing, which was like unheard of like I thought at my age to go out dancing, you know, I thought that was crazy, but it was so fun and we danced so well together. And sometimes it's awkward to dance with someone and sometimes it's like, you know, one person's really into it and one person isn't. But there's this like communal energy, like when it's, I don't know, like what you just described really spoke to me. I think it works in personal relationships or at work or with anyone. When there's a give and a take and I'm listening to you and I'm responding and we're in tune with each other versus here's how to do it, do it my way.
Maren Oslac (17:19):
Yeah. You know, one of the things you mentioned earlier was, you know, in applying for colleges we wanted to have that well-rounded, you know, do sports, et cetera. I think also people who are in sports, they experience that not all the time because there's oftentimes that struggle and then you have that moment where your team just clicks and you're like all in flow and everybody, and you come off the field and you're like, yeah, that's it. There's so many ways for us to, we've all experienced it. And I think that, you know, that's a gift for us to have that moment so that we can reference it and go, that's what life is supposed to be. Like. If I'm gonna strive for something, it's that that flow. Not the new BMW or the, you know, whatever the outer, newest, outer thing is that we're all told we we should have because we get it and we realize we're still not fulfilled.
Maren Oslac (18:22):
We've gotten that, that next thing on the outer level. And even if it's a promotion or the next job and we think that's gonna, that's it. That's what, that's the thing that's gonna do it for me. That's gonna be the thing that fulfills me. And then you realize I achieved it, I got there and I'm still a little empty. So what is next? What's after that? There is, and I think that all of us are getting to that point of like, not, maybe not all of us, but probably most of your listeners . Mm-hmm. are at that point where we're like, shoot, there's something more. What we've been told is the apex is not the apex. There's something beyond it.
Michelle Leotta (19:02):
I'm gonna go on a limb here and say, a lot of times this is where women turn on themselves and say like, well now I have to improve myself. Like now I have to lose the weight. Now I have to, you know, make myself better. I'm never quite enough. I'm always gonna strive for something more. What would you say to that?
Maren Oslac (19:20):
Well, there's the platitude of of course you're fine. And the reason I say the platitude is only because it's been used so much and there's so much truth in it. Your listeners have probably heard this, and we are human beings, not human doings. And when you were born, there was this moment where you were put in your mother's arms or somebody's arms and felt that sense of touch and the world was perfect, the world was complete and you weren't expected to be anything or do anything. Your mom, your dad, even if it was the nurse, somebody was super excited that this being was complete and in the world. And we get educated out of that. We get trained out of that. The thing is that the truth is, is still there. It's underneath all of that. It's all underneath all of those, those words and chatters and, and all the, my, my um, podcast partner calls it the itty bitty committee.
Maren Oslac (20:38):
And I love that because the itty bitty committee comes up and tells us we're not good enough. We need to do one more thing. There's something else, da da da. And it's just voices in our heads. It's not who we are. And I would say to you is who is the voice? Because the voice is not you because you can observe the voice. If you can observe the voice, then who's doing the observing, that's the real you. So that means that that voice that's talking is not the real you. It's training, it's it's conditioning, it's cultural memes, it's all of this stuff that, you know, we're actually meant to learn all that at the first half of our lives and the second half of our allows lives unlearn it. So
Michelle Leotta (21:27):
I like that.
Maren Oslac (21:29):
Yeah. We are, we
Michelle Leotta (21:30):
Get to like take in the cultural norms and the lessons that we're being taught and whatever, and it kind of takes us to a certain point like, chew with your mouth closed. Okay, maybe that was a good one. . Yes. But then there's other things maybe we don't need to carry on and we have to start shutting them. At what age would you say that happens
Maren Oslac (21:52):
In our culture? I dunno. I, I know, um, there's a spiral dynamics is something that some of your listeners may be interested in, in looking into. There's a great book by, um, Ken Wilber called The Theory of Everything that talks about spiral dynamics. And we are meant to move through stages of evolution, stages of mind, and really through our twenties and thirties is where that's supposed to shift. And what happens is we get stuck in a stage of mind because I, my own personal theory is because we haven't had people to model for us what it looks like at higher stages of mind. We, so we don't know how to develop into that. And I think that that's what's really exciting for me right now is that more and more people are evolving to that and seeing, oh, there's more. Wait, how do I, how do I transcend this?
Maren Oslac (22:59):
Because each of the stages of mind is not, it's not a, um, it's, it's not a hierarchy, it's more of a hierarchy. What I mean by that is a hierarchy oftentimes means that you go from this to that and one is better. Whereas a hierarchy is the way that nature works is that you move to the next stage, which is transcend and include. So it's not tossing out the baby with the bath water, it's going, oh, there's a lot of value in high rational achiever. It just is not where I wanna end my journey. There's another, there's another thing that can then use everything that I learned at High Rational Achiever at Concrete, literally at all these different other stages, which is I'm referencing the spiral dynamics language in that. So that whole transcendent include, it can happen at any point. And I think that it normally would happen probably around the thirties, and I'm finding that most people are, are experiencing it later, a little bit later in life. Like, like forties, fifties, sixties, seventies. So there isn't a right or wrong. That's the fun part about it. You
Michelle Leotta (24:13):
Have to, I would guess like forties, fifties, just, just based on what I see what
Maren Oslac (24:17):
You're seeing. Yeah, yeah. And in our culture mm-hmm. , it's interesting cause I think that, you know, like people like you and me and and all of your listeners we're experiencing it, we're like, yeah, yeah. That, that I'm there. What do I need to do to, you know, cause of course we're trained in that what do I need to do? What's next ,
Michelle Leotta (24:39):
Right. Where do I fill out the application and how do I take that next step and how do I get there? I I just, I really wanna, hang on that thought of going from the hot, sorry, you keep saying it. The high
Maren Oslac (24:51):
Achieving rational achiever. Yep.
Michelle Leotta (24:52):
The high rational achiever that describes so many of my listeners to a t going from that same, realizing that's not the goal like that, it's not like we're just gonna keep achieving the next thing, unlocking the next level, getting that next promotion or car or house or relationship or whatever it is. I mean, at a certain point it's just like, okay, fine. Been there, done that. I I can do the things. I get it, I can pretty much do anything I wanna do if I put my mind to it. Five. Exactly. And then what really, what is that next layer? It's like a layer.
Maren Oslac (25:26):
It is, it's funny this, the mystics say that there's 10,000 layers between us and, and the one who sent us dod spirit, whatever you wanna call it. And I love the fact that you used the word layer there because it is, it is, it's peeling, it's an onion. Right. We're peeling the layers back. And there are, I mentioned earlier when we were talking a woman named Lynn Twist, who wrote the Soul of Money and she talks about a native prophecy where the bird of humanity is going to actually be able to soar. And at this point it's, it's flying in circles. And the reason it's flying in circles is because it's got this one overdeveloped wing and we're talking about the masculine energy and feminine energy and that one overdeveloped wing is the masculine energy. And so we're in the time she calls it the Sophia century where that second wing is starting to be developed and starting to come into its own.
Maren Oslac (26:26):
And once it does, then both wings will be flying, right. And then we'll be able to soar. And where I feel the next step is, is embodying our feminine. And the hardest part for all of us, whether you're male or female, is what I call active surrender. Because there is a negative connotation to the word surrender. And if we think about it, that comes from the go do very outward culture of like war, right? Surrender means I give up. And the reason I put active in front of surrender is because when we were talking earlier about being in flow, when you're in flow, whether it's on a sports team or with a partner in dancing or in your own life, in your own business, you actually are surrendered. You're just doing it actively. You're choosing it. You're saying, I am in a surrender spot and that means that I'm listening and I'm paying attention.
Maren Oslac (27:39):
One of the things I love is think of a, um, a cat who's, who's waiting in poise at a mouse hole or you know, stalking something. It literally is surrendered because it's doing nothing. And yet it is completely ready to move and, and be active at any moment. It is waiting in poise. And that's how I think of the feminine. We have this, it's receptive. It's, it's allowing, and that doesn't mean that it's doing nothing. It's allowing us the energy. When we meditate, when we sit into that place of nothingness, it prepares us to be in action. And that's where we get the rejuvenation, where we get the empowerment to go into the outer world and do more or to do something.
Michelle Leotta (28:35):
So when you were just describing the cat, I said to myself, okay, it was a more masculine energy. The cat's got its paw in the mouse hole. It is rum it around and try and get that mouse all day. Right? And that can be us going through our days too. I gotta do that thing. I gotta strive over here, I gotta swim upstream on this project, right? I'm gonna fight for it tooth and nail and then I'm exhausted. Mm. So right. The, the next evolution would be can I be in that more receptive state? I'm ready, I'm here, I'm paying attention. Right. And when the opportunity arises, I'm ready for it. I'm calm, I have the energy, I can take full advantage of it. Right. That sounds, that sounds very queenly. That's a queen's energy.
Maren Oslac (29:25):
Yes. I love that. Exactly.
Michelle Leotta (29:29):
Mm. I'm here for it. .
Maren Oslac (29:32):
And really when you look at the archetypes, I don't know if you've done any work with archetypes, but the queen empowers the king and the king empowers the queen. So it is both and it's not, that's the other piece of it is that moving away from this either or one of the things that I, that uh, we just talked about on, on our podcast was when we think about either or, so from a business perspective, when I go to my team and I say, what should we do? It's a very masculine energy, it's very driven and it is, let's eliminate and choose. If I go to my team and I say, what could we do? It's a very feminine energy and it's a receptive and it opens and allows. It's creative, it doesn't shut things out. It doesn't shut things down. And literally there was one word difference in that entire sentence.
Maren Oslac (30:32):
What should we do? What could we do? And that's the place of empowerment of that's what I was talking about earlier, that my lesson was when I was working with my team is I kept going direct and saying, and you know, what should we do? And then I would take it away from them instead of what could we do? Great. You wanna run with that? Go with it. Let's explore that. And being in that, that poise of, I'm ready and it doesn't necessarily mean I have to do something right now. And that's the thing that, that is probably hardest for us as high rational achievers cuz we're like, but I'm supposed to be doing something. What if the doing is being present receptive?
Michelle Leotta (31:18):
What if the doing is being present? That is something for all of us to chew on, perhaps for the rest of the day. , we feel like we need to do something. We can think about that. And wouldn't that be a step toward that next layer, that next level beyond achieving, oh mar so many good juicy things today. Thank you. And where can our listeners go to find more out, more about your work and your podcast?
Maren Oslac (31:45):
Well you can visit my website. It's got both of those on there. And I love working with the high rational achievers who are super excited about what's next, that know that there's something that's next. And my website is me, m a r e n dance, d a n cce.com. So my first name, me dance.com. I tried to make it
Michelle Leotta (32:10):
Simple, easy to remember. Yeah, I like it. Thank you so much for joining us.
Maren Oslac (32:14):
I loved being here and I am super excited for all the work that you're doing. Thank you.
Michelle Leotta (32:31):
Ah, it's so great when somebody can combine a feminine ease with a high achieving desire. It's reminding me of Therea Lado from episode number 48. I love that interview. You can go into the archives and find it. She was amazing. But this is the chance to decide how to use our energy. Do we want to keep growing in a straight line or can we grow deeper bringing some of that ease and almost queen like quality to our achievements? I'd love to hear your thoughts. I'm at, she's Got Power on Instagram, shoot me a dm. I'll see you next week.


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