Thanks so much for taking an interest in my work. As you’ve probably already figured out, my name’s Michelle McQuaid and I’m here to help you discover your strengths, move beyond your fears, lead authentically and finally discover what it truly takes to thrive with confidence. In a word, I want to help you flourish.
In case you’re in a hurry here’s my official story:
Michelle McQuaid is a best-selling author, workplace wellbeing teacher and playful change activator. With more than a decade of senior leadership experience in large organizations around the world, she’s passionate about translating cutting-edge research from positive psychology and neuroscience, into practical strategies for health, happiness, and business success.
An honorary fellow at Melbourne University’s Graduate School of Education, she blogs for Psychology Today, Huffington Post and Live Happy and her work has been featured in Forbes, the Harvard Business Review, the Wall Street Journal, Boss Magazine, The Age and more.
She holds a Masters in Applied Positive Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania and is currently completing her PhD in Appreciative Inquiry under the supervision of Professors David Cooperrider and Celeste Wilderom.
Michelle lives to help people discover their strengths, move beyond their fears, and finally discover what it truly takes to flourish with confidence.
If that’s a bit dry, let me give you the unofficial story so you get a real sense of who I am and what I’m all about.
You see, I believe there is greatness to be found in each of us. But let’s be honest, showing up each day and truly living to our potential can be hard work. The truth is most of us are struggling to find the time, never mind the energy and presence, to prioritize the kind of work we really want to be doing in the world and the kind of life we really want to be living.
And so we end up settling for just getting by.
I get it. I spent years and years feeling like I was sleepwalking through my life. For me, the wake-up call came in 2006. I was living in New York with my beautiful young family, in a global brand director role that paid me more money than I could spend, and I was in good health. But each morning I was finding it harder and harder to get out of bed.
This wasn’t an overnight phenomenon. After starting life in a violent, highly dysfunctional family, as a child I dreamed of finally being happy when I grew up. Reasonably intelligent, resourceful and determined to prove I was good enough, I left home at sixteen, managed to get myself through college and landed a job in public relations. With my head down and working hard, over the next decade I steadily moved up, up and up the corporate career ladder and along the way married a good man and started our family. But despite all the outward signs of success, I remained plagued by the constant fear that no matter what I achieved professionally or personally, it just never felt like it was enough.
Was I really good enough? Smart enough? Creative enough? Tough enough? Worthy enough? Would today be the day people found out that I really didn’t have it all together? For all that I had to be grateful for, trying to keep up the façade of my ‘happy’ life was completely wearing me down.
Of course, there’s nothing unique about my story. In fact, studies suggest that less than thirty percent of people around the world describe themselves as ‘flourishing’, and instead most of us report that we’re ‘struggling’ or even ‘suffering’ as we face into the day ahead.
So as I sat slumped one night in our New York apartment numbing myself with mindless TV, it took me a few minutes to tune into the Harvard professor who was being interviewed about the emerging science of positive psychology and happiness. The idea that researchers were trying to discover an evidence-based roadmap for consistently flourishing had me bolting upright.
Could this be what I’d been missing?
In the weeks, months and years that followed I devoured all the research I could find and even completed my Masters of Applied Positive Psychology under the field’s founder Professor Martin Seligman. Yes, I flew from Australia to Philadelphia every three weeks for three days just to attend my classes. Let’s just say, it was lucky I was studying human flourishing and not accounting, or I never would have been able to manage the jetlag.
And slowly, but surely, as I began to apply everything I was learning my energy for life started returning. I discovered my strengths and began to find more ways to weave these into my soulless corporate job. I learned to make peace with my voices of self-doubt and instead discovered what it was to feel truly confident. And I began to realize the small changes I could make to maintain the kind of energy and vibrancy that I’d been craving.
Far more than simply being happy, I found the courage to show up whole-heartedly through the highs and lows that are a natural part of every life.
As a result, I went on to negotiate roles aligned with my sense of purpose, was given unexpected promotions and pay raises and managed to keep every Friday free to play with my kids. When I was ready to start my own business in 2012 teaching the skills I’d learned to others, I drew on every positive psychology tool I’d ever discovered to turn my dream into my daily reality. And although my introverted nature can make me socially awkward, I finally felt comfortable enough to create the kind of genuine and joyful connections with others that make life worth living.
Of course, that doesn’t mean it all goes perfectly.
I’m still human, and there are days when my work could be better, my mothering could be more patient and attentive, and the glass of wine and box of chocolates has my name written all over them. There are also days when I’ve needed to support a sibling recovering from serious drug addiction, when I’ve had to help a friend finally escape a violent relationship and when I’ve buried people whom I’ve loved deeply. But on these days when nothing goes to plan, instead of berating myself about not being good enough or feeling like I might sink under the weight of my responsibilities, I’ve come to appreciate that even the darkest moments of life can bring lessons of light, if we’re able to be open enough.
Why share this part of my story? I’m hoping that by showing you the real journey, and not just the glossy credentials you’ll resist the temptation to say “Well it’s okay for her, but I could never do that.” I hope that by sharing the fears, the challenges and the self-doubts you will see that perhaps my journey is not that different from yours and give you the hope that you can create the career and life that you’re longing for.