Sarah Negus is a modern-day shaman and spiritual healer who specialises in helping people in the corporate world operate more effectively. Her clients range from senior directors at global companies through to CEOs of small family-owned businesses and entrepreneurs.
Sarah uses various modern-day shamanic techniques to help her clients operate more successfully by addressing various challenges they believe are holding them back at work — such as finding the confidence to negotiate more effectively in the boardroom, letting go of work relationships that are toxic, communicating more effectively, or having more belief in their own abilities to take their business to the next level.
Based in the UK, she has clients around the world and regularly speaks at events across Europe, America and Canada.
What brought you to a career as a spiritual mentor and to your title as the Modern-Day Shaman®?
I began my career in the 1980s at the London investment bank S. G. Warburg and Co. It was fast paced and pretty wild but very rewarding — at an exciting time when the old-fashioned ways of the City were being replaced by hard-nosed capitalism. But following burnout and a bout of depression, the breakdown of my marriage and chronic fatigue, I reassessed my life and began training in traditional and non-traditional shamanism, psychology and the impact mindset has on how we live.
Traditional shamanism is practiced by indigenous peoples throughout the world who follow ceremony and oral tradition passed down through their family and culture. Non-traditional shamanism is a spiritual philosophy shared in our world by western people. Its ethos is a search for knowledge through personal experience — not only external experience but by exploring inner awareness.
I combine some of the traditional practice and ceremony of this ancient art with modern psychology and mindset – hence my term ‘modern day shaman®’.
My aim is to bring this alternative method of living into our culture. I believe it is the missing link that will bring purpose, meaning and an inner feeling of success to our way of being.
I expanded my work to focus on helping businesses in 2013, after I was finding that increasingly my clients were coming to me with problems and challenges which related as much to their time in the boardroom as their personal lives. What they didn’t realise is that, very often, the two are intertwined. I work with my clients to identify challenges at work, explore the things that hold them back and identify patterns in the way they think, behave and communicate, before re-framing these in positive ways and enabling a different perspective that facilitates aspirational leadership and effective communication.
How do you modernise shamanic techniques to benefit the executives and businesses you assist in today’s corporate world?
We are often taught that a ball-breaking approach to strategy and innovation is how we can best achieve success in business. But unless you innovate and open up your mind too, ideas can get lost and tangled.
In today’s world, empathy, kindness and compassion are the keys to getting success, and for someone to truly succeed at work they first have to feel success in themselves. They must feel connected to a sense of purpose and a deeper meaning for their life.
As a modern-day shaman, my courses comprise psychology and mindset work such as meditation and trance, with therapeutic dialogue (a type of counselling) and “neuro-linguistic programming” — which is a form of communication combining elements of mindfulness and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), to overcome anxiety and depression. It’s a practice which has been credited for elevating Barack Obama’s speeches and restoring former tennis star Andre Agassi’s form.
Can you provide some real-life examples of companies or individuals you’ve helped?
One client who owns a Surrey construction firm that was on the verge of folding through lack of business signed four new deals in the six weeks following the course. Another, who owns her own massage therapy business in London, negotiated a £10,000 job working for a celebrity client on location. A third — a mother of two with a small branding and marketing business in Toronto — increased her turnover by £40,000 following consultation, taking her over the income level she would have achieved should she have gone back into her corporate role. So my clients come from very different backgrounds, but the benefits can be striking.
What are the most common core issues you have found in clients over your 15 years of experience in assisting them?
They tend to often be split by gender and age groups. For example, women over 40 often suffer from imposter syndrome, thinking they’re not good enough for a role with a constant need to prove themselves, perhaps following a career break to raise children. They come into the corporate environment wanting to make an impact but run out of ‘bandwidth’ so their family and health start suffering.
With my male clients, there is often a pressure to try and be the best including deploying masculine energy like Alan Sugar or the Dragons, but they fear failure when they find they’re not like that.
In both cases, business leaders can suffer with burnout and a lack of purpose or meaning in their life as they continually chase the next pound note or milestone financial goal.
Common traits in Millennials and younger generations include finding it hard to bounce back if they experience failure, and lacking the “I’m going to do this no matter what” attitude. In many cases they are told by their baby boomer generation parents they can “do anything” but in reality, they find real-life hard work.
What do you find is most important when overcoming negative habits and behaviours?
Business is where we spend a large part of our time and it’s a big part of how we express ourselves in the world. Often your biggest hurdle is overcoming your own habitual thought patterns and unhelpful unconscious behaviours. Becoming the best person you can be in any situation will make you more effective, productive and help build your business. Your biggest asset in the business world is you, so it makes sense to explore the things that hold you back and the patterns in the way you behave and communicate. After all, what got you where you are today will not take you onto your next level, only innovation of your mind and emotional intelligence will do that.
How do you identify the more unique problems that differ from person to person in order to best help them find a solution?
Everyone is unique and as such identifying their challenges and solutions will be a very personal thing. My process involves going back and looking at the past at what is unconsciously governing the person’s thoughts and behaviours, then we go forward to connect with what is desired and the motivating force. The interesting part is the space between these two places, once we’ve identified that, building a “better now” is easy.
How does modern say shamanism differ to business coaching or leadership mentoring?
Business coaching or leadership mentoring is limited to surface problems and ways of presenting a person, in a particular environment or situation or leading.
Modern-day shamanism focuses on the deeper meaning and purpose of the individual, building awareness of the unconscious patterns that hold them back. It creates change that is sustainable, conscious and that ripples through every part of their life, not just in terms of their business, but in their personal life too.
What would be your top piece of advice for those seeking guidance or a fresh start?
Being honest with yourself first and foremost is a game changer. Once you have identified who you really want to be and what you really want to do, you can then face any fears that surface around these choices.
Often, we are so tied up in living how we think we should that we miss the point, to live as ourselves, our best selves.