Nancy Oelklaus began her career as a high school English teacher in Marshall, Texas. She earned the B.A. in Communications from Oklahoma Baptist University, an M.A. in English from the University of North Texas and her Doctorate in Educational Administration from Texas A&M University, Commerce. For nine years she served as assistant superintendent for instructional services in Marshall, followed by nine years as executive director for the Texas Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. Since 2000 she has worked as an executive coach in Austin, serving entrepreneurial clients in education, social services, financial services, real estate, public relations, and city administration.
Dr. Oelklaus has received numerous awards and honors for civic leadership, including the Vision to Action Award from the Visions of a Better World Foundation in Boston. She was named Leader of Leaders by Sam Houston State University’s Department of Educational Leadership and Woman of Achievement by the Business and Professional Women of Marshall, Texas. In 2007 she received the Profile in Excellence Award from Oklahoma Baptist University. Her articles have appeared in publications including The American School Board Journal, The Austin Business Journal, The Systems Thinker, and AustinWoman. Her first book, entitled Journey from Head to Heart: Living and Working Authentically, was published in March 2008 by Loving Healing Press of Ann Arbor, Michigan. Three coaching CD’s by Nancy are available through Amazon.
Q: Thank you for this interview, Nancy. Can we begin by having you tell us the main goal you had when writing your book. What message did you want to convey?
A: My goal is to help people have happier, more meaningful lives—to share what I have learned for those who are still feeling overworked and burdened, who feel they should be getting more out of life but they don’t know how. My message is that it is never too late to change. Everything you want is within you, and you have to dig deep to find it. That is where the journey is—within. This is a guide and a roadmap to help people live more easily and joyfully, more quickly.
Q: Why do you think people hit roadblocks when confronted by problems they just can’t seem to solve and what do you suggest they do to try to avoid these roadblocks?
A: Many of us are not very honest with ourselves. We keep thinking the problem is out there. We think if another person would just do this or that or the other, then we would be just fine. The truth is that the answers are within us, but we want an easier path.
Roadblocks can be great teachers. I don’t advise people to try to avoid them; rather, I say go through them. Step into the roadblock by asking something like, what experience from my past is ready to be healed? or when was the first time I experienced something like this? That’s the starting point for transformation.
Q: What would you say to someone who refuses to change and just accept the hardships that befall them?
A: Nothing. They aren’t ready to change, so I leave them alone. Do not try to rescue them or convince them they are wrong. It only delays their process.
Q: What would you suggest people do to set and get to the goal of authentic living and working? What would be the first step?
A: Get in touch with your heart. What gives you joy? What makes your heart sing? Start doing more of that.
Q: How can your book change the way people feel about themselves?
A: Many people have an internal censor who criticizes them unmercifully and makes them believe they aren’t good enough. The processes, stories, and tools in my book lead people to silence this voice and instead hear a loving, affirming voice that believes they are perfectly wonderful just as they are.
Q: Why did you write about this subject in the first place? Do you have personal reasons for doing so?
A: When I began the journey of transformation, I knew how to have a successful career, but I did not know how to love, have a happy marriage, or even enjoy being with friends. My life was out of balance. It took me ten years to get to a state of mind that is truly happy. My hope is that my experience will shorten the duration of the journey for others.
Q: How can this book change people’s lives for the better?
A: The process is different for every person. They begin to make small, incremental changes that lead to big, lasting changes.