Alignment Is Simple, Not Easy, But Always Worth It With Transformative Coach Jen Ziegner

Alignment Is Simple, Not Easy, But Always Worth It With Transformative Coach Jen Ziegner

Have you ever found yourself contemplating the idea of running marathons and climbing mountains in pursuit of something more profound than just success? 

There's a common thread among high achievers who, despite reaching the peak of their careers, still experience a sense of emptiness and lack. This void often stems from neglecting to live in alignment with our true selves and core values.

When we commit to living in alignment with our authentic selves and values, a transformative journey where running marathons and climbing mountains transcend the physical realm, becoming powerful metaphors for our internal evolution. They symbolize resilience, illustrating our ability to navigate life's challenges with unwavering strength.

This episode features Jen Ziegner, co-founder and the force behind the powerful program of Mountains and Marathons, sharing profound insights into aligning lives for fulfillment. She navigates supporting leaders in living with alignment, stresses the importance of addressing burnout for personal growth, and believes in the simplicity of alignment; although not always easy, it is always worth it.

Tune in now and have a marathon and climbing experience wherever you are!

Thoughts to Empower 

  • “We need leaders that do good and that do well at the same time.” — Jen Ziegner
  • “The goal in the end is something that is meant to call you into being who you're inspired to be in the world.” — Jen Ziegner
  • “We can bring curiosity on judgments about life, about the world, about ourselves.” — Jen Ziegner
  • “Alignment is living in congruence with our truth and our highest vision for our lives.” — Jen Ziegner
  • “You cannot live in alignment without being connected to your body.” — Jen Ziegner
  • “Alignment is simple, not always easy. Always worth it.” — Jen Ziegner
  • “If you're finding yourself in a state of overs, there's stuff going on beneath the cover.” — Becca Powers
  • “Awareness is always the key to change.” — Becca Powers
  • “Curiosity is also one of those fundamental things to living a fulfilled life.” — Becca Powers
  • “Elevating your impact is like a result of doing the work.” — Becca Powers


Key Points From This Episode

  • Supporting leaders to live in alignment through Mountains and Marathons
  • Jen’s backstory: From burnout to mountain peaks of aligned leadership 
  • The importance of addressing burnout for personal growth and well-being
  • How curiosity shapes goal setting, fulfills life, and fuels self-discovery
  • The interconnected nature of personal and organizational development
  • The process of transformative alignment through clarity and clearing
  • True breakthroughs require connecting with the wisdom of the body
  • The simplicity of alignment and the enduring worth of authentic living


About Jen Ziegner:

Jen Ziegner is the co-founder and lead coach of Mountains and Marathons, a transformative coaching organization that works with entrepreneurs and executives to create deeper alignment in their lives. 

The ALIGN Leadership Program takes leaders on a six-month journey that culminates with running a marathon or climbing a mountain in an epic place in the world, from Patagonia to Nepal and the Australian Outback.

Having worked with leaders from Fortune 500 companies to national non-profit organizations across the US, Europe, Australia, and the Middle East, Jen champions the idea that leadership needs to start with authentically leading ourselves first, in all areas of life.


Connect with Jen Ziegner:


Follow Becca Powers:

Welcome to another episode of The emPOWERed Half Hour. I am thrilled to bring you this week's guest. Jen Ziegner is the co-founder of Mountain and Marathons.

She specializes in working with executives, leaders, and entrepreneurs. I want her to tell you more about her, but I want you to know that we have a really powerful woman on the podcast today who is looking to help people get back in alignment. I was like all over your website and alignment, purpose, passion, all those are my words.

Mountains and Marathons

Mountains and Marathons, it's a company that I founded with my business partner, Jamin, who is not here today but is a key part of this whole story about six years ago.

And, in essence, what we're all about is supporting leaders to live in alignment. That's really what it's about. 

Inside Mountains and Marathons, our flagship program is the Align Leadership Program. And we have people that come to us that say, I have all this external success.

Like I'm ticking all the boxes. Also, my internal fulfillment does not match that and this is where we meet them. And this is where we have developed a powerful process over six months that supports leaders to get into alignment in all life areas. 

And also at the end of it, we run a marathon or climb a mountain somewhere in an epic location in the world, whether that's Kilimanjaro, Everest Space Camp, or running marathons in Patagonia, Iceland, Hawaii, et cetera.

So that's a little bit about what we do and what the essence of Mountains and Marathons is about. 

Finding Purpose in Peaks

I want to hear the backstory, but I love that you just mentioned that you end with a mountain or a marathon, and that I've never seen in a business model before. So I'm interested in hearing a little bit more about that. And if it's tied to your backstory, you can go ahead and do both, but I want to hear a little bit more about this mountain marathon piece.

Back then, about six or seven years ago, I was living in Australia. I was originally, I was born in Germany, but at that time I just started my career in Australia and I was working in the impact investing social enterprise space. So really like working in this whole system that is there to support organizations that don't only make a profit, but also do like good in the world and have a measurable social, societal, and environmental impact.

And I had like several small roles with different organizations, as I was kind of establishing myself in the space. In one of them, I was working with the founders, and entrepreneurs of these organizations, on their business models and making sure they could grow and scale and take on investments so they can do more good in the world.

And as I was doing that, what I noticed was that I got really curious about the people behind the organization. I was like, These are people that are putting their energy, their time, their heart, their blood, sweat, and tears, as we say, right, into making the world a better place. And when I looked more at who they were, what I saw was more people who were burned out, including in the organization where I was working. More people were burned out, and more people missed the kids' soccer game on the weekends. And they were on calls at 2 or 3 AM, working 14-hour days and neglecting their health and wellbeing.

And I thought, you know what, here's some of the biggest change-makers in this country. Like the people who truly make a difference in people's lives. And we're not seeing them being well. And so I thought we needed something else. 

We need leaders that do good and are well at the same time. 

So that was kind of my background.

And then around that time, I met Jamin and Jamin was one of those. He was leading three different, incredible nonprofit organizations, working specifically with youth, and young people, and supporting boys to develop healthy masculinity and emotional intelligence. And it was fantastic, amazing work.

And he got all the awards the external recognition and the accolades. And he was miserable. He was burned out when I met him so badly that he couldn't like just get up in the morning and plan his day. Like that was already overwhelming. So, I started to support Jamin through his burnout.

We started dating back then. We're not in a romantic relationship anymore, but we were back then. We started dating. I support him through his burnout. And Jamin said to me if I could go and do anything in the world. I would be running marathons, climbing mountains, and supporting people to change their lives.

And I was not that interested in that. You're like that necessarily wasn't my path. It wasn't my path. Because I had just settled in Australia and I thought that that's where I wanted to stay. But. I saw all my stories about my childhood and my lack of fitness and never having been the person who would ever run a marathon or climb a mountain.

And I got really curious about who would I need to become to do that and to be that person. And so that night I came home and I said, Jamie, we'll do this together. And we knew from the beginning that if we were going to travel the world and run marathons and climb mountains, we wouldn't just do it for ourselves.

That would get boring. So we put all of our backgrounds in leadership and coaching and all of our training together and said if we think that this can transform our lives. It can transform other people's lives. 

Beneath the Covers and Beyond Burnout

There can be a shadow side to that where our overworking is often also driven by.

Like deep-rooted patterns of feeling that this is how we get love in our lives, feeling that this is how we get acknowledgment that we matter, or often like I see an overfocus on work because it's our kind of comfortable place until it's not because we don't want to look at other life areas that might need some attention and that feels more difficult to look at.

If we're neglecting our health, if our marriage is on the rocks, it can be hard to like, look at that. And so sometimes it can be easier to just look away from that and just like focus on work. Because even though the pattern might not be helpful or healthy, it can feel like the more comfortable place for people to go to, because at least there they somewhat know what they're doing and navigating. 

In my journey,  I created five stages of burnout because my own story comes from extreme burnout and my rise into I would say my authentic self into all my gifts and talents and strengths, and my wellness came from burnout.

I've done a whole bunch of shadow work too. And so I was like, burnout has to be like, there has to be a way of normalizing burnout where it's not like so psychology-based or so academic that the average person can't understand it.

And so what I learned and started to unpack is something that you're talking about, I realized that burnout starts in our shadow. It starts with feeling. I call it the uns, but unseen, unwanted, unheard. 

When we feel that we start to feel the under that's what I call stage one, but that's like feeling undervalued, underappreciated, like we work, and then we start feeling undervalued, underappreciated. 

We've done all these things. And, it's funny that you mentioned overworking because what I realized too, especially when I was, getting certified and shadow beliefs and stuff is that we overcompensate when we feel under and on, like if we felt unwanted, like all those things that you said, and so in the workplace, it ends up looking, I call it stage two is the overs and that's when we do overwork, we overcommit, I mean, over anything, right. Overanalyze, overthink, overstress. 

And always say to my leaders and to just working professionals in general, if you're finding yourself in a state of overs, there's stuff going on beneath the covers.

From Curiosity to Alignment

Awareness is always the key to change

When you went through your leadership program, you're like, Oh, maybe I could do Mountains and Marathons. And your business partner had a curiosity not to stay stuck and he knew that he was missing fulfillment. 

 And I think curiosity, in my opinion, is also one of those fundamental things to living a fulfilled life.

In fact, I'm just thinking about how many people inquire about the Align Leadership Program. 

We always say, What inspires you to inquire? And the ones that are kind of shorter on the words and only give us a one or two-sentence and one or two-word answer.

They generally express curiosity. I think where you picked that up was the question of who I would need to become. And that's, for me, at the core of so much of what we do; it's not about the mountain of the marathon. It's not; it is. And it's also not; it's often what makes people come to us as the thing where we go. I want to climb Mount Kilimanjaro.

I want to trek to Machu Picchu, or whatever that might be. Or, but it's really, I believe, a deeper calling of the soul that is craving this. Like, who would I need to be? Like, I know who I am in this version right now. I know it.

I know that there are more. And so this question of who I need to become is at the core of when we go and show up at the bottom of the mountain or at the finish line of a marathon, or even before that, in all the preparation for that. That's a big question. And this is the only way that we do goal-setting as well.

Like when we teach goal setting at all, it's not about like, how do you think you will feel when you achieve this thing? Because that's generally how we set goals, right? 

It's like, I want this thing because there is this idea, that I will feel a certain way, which is completely elusive and often doesn't happen that way in speculative.

And then what often happens is that we might get out of alignment in the pursuit of it. I want the promotion because I think that once I have that title, I will feel a certain way. 

Well, first, that's not guaranteed and certain, second, am I going on the way to neglect my family life, my health, and my friends, and become misaligned?

So what we teach is, that the goal in the end is something that is meant to call you into being who you're inspired to be in the world, and then the path is actually what it's about. 

And if you achieved a thing or not, it doesn't even matter as much. It's just the cherry on top. 

We can bring curiosity to judgments about life, about the world, about ourselves.

Living in Congruence: The Essence of Alignment in Leadership

We're in some beautiful shifts inside of our team right now, which has been an exploration over the years. How do we go from being just Jamin and myself?

Two than having other people in our team. And we have an incredible team member, her name's Jordan, and she's kind of grown over time too, start first as kind of like member can admin support and now be like really a full leadership coach with us and how to do we internally,  it's our leadership challenges of how do we make sure that people are, can grow inside the organization and can like bring them.

Best, most expressed and most vibrant selves for words in order to serve people like that is something and how does it need to evolve over time? And how does the organization need to evolve in order to serve that? So there is this beautiful way currently in which the people that are inside of our organization.

That's something we're currently inside of a beautiful, like constant exploration and play in the space of potential, right? 

What I found is that elevating your impact is like a result of doing the work. 

The process that we got people because I think alignment, it can sound a bit well. Okay. So what is that? And so I'll briefly speak to that and then we can touch on a couple of specifics, but for us, alignment is living in congruence with our truth and our highest vision for our lives. 

And what that means moment by moment is that we live in a place where what we think, say, feel, and do is all incongruence versus misalignment. Oh, I'm feeling one way, but what I'm saying to this person or something else, or I have this vision for my life, but my actions reflect none of that.

So align is really about putting every single life where I work with 13 different life areas, into alignment. And so, the process that we follow inside of that to do that is what we call clarity, clearing creation. Clarity, the first step is really like owning what is my highest vision for my life.

And. had you asked me before doing this work, I would have said, yeah, just saying what our vision is is easy, but hell no, like that can be one of the hardest places. And it's also such a vulnerable place, like, actually saying, here's what I want. Here's what I desire. Here's what I stand for: it is so vulnerable.

And so, we support people to really like, move through that, and not only say what they want but claim it. 

I love that you went like the claiming piece because I think that's, I use a different word, but the same meaning kind of is like the owning, like you have to own these parts of yourself because we're born with these inherent.

Gifts, talents, but like desires and outcomes, like we're also uniquely us, and when you can get into that space of claiming who you are, not only do we get the internal sense of fulfillment and alignment that you and I are talking about, but this, you can't help. But touch other people's lives.

Breakdowns to Breakthroughs

There might be a relationship that requires clearing either something in the relationship or the relationship itself.

If I've known for years that it's not aligned. And sometimes it goes way, way, way back where there needs to be like healing work from things that we haven't fully processed from our younger years, et cetera. So that's often where a lot of the breakthroughs happen. And, we've seen the most beautiful things in terms of healed and reunited relationships.

Inside of this part where people haven't spoken with their mom for 5 years, and now we're like, okay, like, let's actually have a look at that and lovingly hold them in that process and also give them the structure and the tools to including internally to move through that and to hold that and to hold those conversations that need to be had.

And so that's really where a lot of the magic is. Like when we clear, and this is also where we work. 

The Essential Role of Body Connection

I had cosmic meditations. It was incredible. But as I started bringing more practical application back to it, I studied, shadow beliefs and I was doing more of the cerebral side of things just so I could put the cosmic and the cerebral together, so to speak.

I read the body keeps the score and I think the one-liner in it that says, 80 percent of what we've been through. 80 percent of our trauma stays in our body and not in our mind. And so I get so happy when I meet other individuals that are focused, they bring the embodiment piece into it because how can you truly have an extreme breakthrough?

How can you like have an extreme breakthrough without including your body? It won't stay without the body and you cannot live in alignment without being connected to your body. 

And the truth is a lot of people come to us and they're really afraid of their emotions and their emotions, but they're like, can we just stay up here for a moment?

And we're like, no, we're going to. Like we're going to drop in there because, and then, right. They become familiar with it. And one of the most beautiful testimonials and like in our current program, a lot of people have been saying this when we've kind of checked in halfway through, what have you been getting?

Like they say, I feel so much more connected with the wisdom of my body. I feel so much more connected with my emotions and comfortable in my emotions. And like, that's, if you get nothing else from this like this is the core to alignment. you get it, we get it. 

And I truly believe like, if we can bring more of that kind of into the corporate world, into the entrepreneurship world, where we get to lead from that place, that's magic.

And that's where we're transforming the world.

You are after my own heart. 

Here's how we define alignment is that we're living in our truth and what else is there, like if we're not living in our truth and being able to connect with what that is, and then.

Stand for that and then show up inside of that every day, no matter how messy and ugly that gets, like we don't have much, I believe. 

And we always say alignment is simple, not always easy, but always worth it. 


There are no comments yet. Be the first one to leave a comment!