Jessica Summers is president of Jessica Summers Hypnogenics and this week’s Woman on a Mission.
This is her interview.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do professionally.
Although I’m a certified hypno-pyschotherapist and have worked in a very rewarding private practice for six years, last year I made a really bold decision.
I knew that I had discovered something extremely valuable with my clients and it was this: they came to me with problems, and I could see so clearly that if they just leaned into all the fear (and the voices telling them to hide and play small), then their whole life would change. What also changed was that their problems went away. Sometimes immediately.
What do you enjoy most about your profession and why did you choose it in the first place? What was the inspiration for your company/project?
I’m just going to be honest here. I care about many things in my personal and professional life: a good standard of living, beauty around me, nice clothes and a lovely home – don’t we all? But what has changed for me in the past two years is that I’ve admitted to myself what I truly care about.
More than anything else, I want everyone to know that it is simple to be happy; and we can only be happy by doing what we truly and deeply desire. And when we are doing what we truly desire, it is absolutely unavoidable that we are of service to the rest of the planet. Everyone wins and there is no need to fight for a better world; it happens organically of its own accord.
True Grit! True Grit is the free programme that I created – it has me leaping out of bed in the morning and posting in our group late at night.
It’s a 28 day challenge where anyone can choose to get present with anything that has been holding them back; and we do it together. Some people have changed relationships; others have committed to themselves more deeply. Some people have finally got their most vulnerable songs, art works and poetry out into the world via Youtube; others have begun to get more present with their children and families (instead of always being busy). Of course, what they are really doing is being brave enough to get present with themselves – committing to the life they would like to be living.
This challenge is all about commitment, but most people don’t realise that commitment means letting go. Of what? Control! True Grit is a space where you say: I have this thing going on and I don’t know how to change it. Here it is, and right here, right now, I’m committing to changing it. I will not avoid it, I will be with it completely for the next 28 days. Then we close that book and don’t re-examine that decision again.
I do it too, and it takes me to the very depths of vulnerability every time because, as leader, we’re just not supposed to be seen as vulnerable. However, that is exactly the kind of leader we need now: one who is not afraid to show their flaws, and to reflect.
What is a typical day like for you?
My days have been really different in the past year. Last August, my family and I gave away nearly all our belongings, put our house on the market, packed our car to bursting and set off to Montenegro. We had never been there and didn’t speak the language; I barely knew where it was. Southern Europe as it turns out! I now live in Herceg Novi, a city in Montenegro on the Croatian border, right next to Dubrovnik.
Last year, my day would begin with me and my 7 year old daughter walking for 5 minutes to the little village school in the Yorkshire town we called home. Today Elona gets a ferry to school, crossing Boka Bay (a part of the Adriatic sea) to her school in Tivat, a gorgeous town in Montenegro.
I then walk in the mountains for an hour and finish with a dip in the sea, followed by a strong Turkish coffee at a little café next to the bay. All of this is before 8am, when I then check in with the day’s theme for True Grit and write a little piece to encourage participants to explore what’s new. True Grit isn’t a formula and I check in with the energy of the group throughout the day to support them based on what I’m experiencing.
Sometimes I call in on my Montenegrin neighbour, Jelyka. She is the same age as me and she makes a mean cacao. The very biggest learning curve for me in moving here was to learn how to slow down. 1 hour is the absolute minimum for coffee, and it’s not unusual to run to 3 hours! Friendship and supporting each other is paramount here, and I don’t believe I could have had the community values I needed for True Grit if I’d stayed in the UK. I have really had to learn about friendships, expectations and relationships since moving here. It’s something I’m profoundly grateful for; though it has been a school of hard knocks sometimes.
Tell us about your community involvement – what you are passionate about outside of work and home and why/how you participate?
I care deeply about each person being everything they can be; not wasting their talents and their lives. I don’t want anyone on their deathbed to say: I should have done that thing, why didn’t I?
I give my time, energy and facilitation for free in the True Grit space. I don’t sell anything in there, and in general I don’t promote myself. I believe that by showing up on social media and just being all that I personally can be, then the right people will find me.
I don’t want anyone to think I am the answer to their problem; I want to show them that they do not have problems, just choices they are unwilling to make. To do this, I myself have to be congruent and honourable. I think there are much better ways of using social media and attracting people to our businesses than we’ve considered, and I’m setting out to find them! I don’t have all the answers – far from it – but I do believe that to discover something new, we have to take a risk.
My coaching goes beyond just trying to change problems. I address that deep longing within, to have a bigger life. I always tell clients: be warned! If you work with me you will fly – are you ready? Because this could well be what you’ve been avoiding your whole life. We are deeply afraid of being all that we can be. Who will we lose? How many people will judge us? Will we be alone? In fact, the opposite is true.
True Grit will always be free – it’s my service to the planet – but it will be moving home from Facebook to Mighty Network next time, where I’ll be able to offer paid programmes to those who would like more depth and personal support.
What is the biggest risk you ever took professionally and/or the biggest obstacle you have overcome?
I remember the moment in December last year when I did a Facebook live. I had no make-up on, the sun was in my eyes (and really showed my age!), and I shared publicly that I was ending my hypno-psychotherapy practice in order to explore what I was here to do. It felt like professional suicide; showing up in an ‘unprofessional’ manner; also the fear of being able to support myself being a stranger in a strange land without any safety blanket. I don’t think my mum was impressed! Of course, the warmth and response I received was overwhelming.
The people I work with all fear that if they are truly themselves then no one will want them; they will be considered unprofessional. But actually, we’re all tired of the polish, show and manipulation. We want to see people being brave, being vulnerable and ultimately being themselves.
Every time I begin a round of True Grit, I have to get over (or around) the next barrier. Every round demands a new level of vulnerability from me where I must uncover the next layer of shame. I have chosen to be comfortable with discomfort. Luckily for me, my sense of humour has grown along with it and I truly think that’s the biggest investment you can make these days. Being human is a tragic joke sometimes, so we do need to learn to laugh at ourselves. I can be a real idiot sometimes; I’m only human after all. Just ask the participants of True Grit; every one of them I would class as a friend, because we don’t only show each other the ‘good bits’.
From where do you draw inspiration? Who have been your role models, mentors, etc?
I’m always so grateful when someone asks me that question; it’s great to be given the opportunity to acknowledge the people who have made such a difference to my life. Unfortunately there are too many to number here; I feel so lucky to have been guided by some amazing people. Among them:
My psychotherapy supervisor, David Corr, transformed my life. He created massive change within me by seeing my brilliance and reflecting it back. I try to do the same with everyone I come into contact with.
Haris Omanovic. For me, I don’t see anyone being as unapologetically themselves as he is and this continues to inspire me.
But the book that made the biggest difference to my life was Guinea Pig B by Buckminster Fuller. I read it in 2020. This man (Fuller) was considering suicide aged 27 in the 1920s. However, in his own words, he chose to commit ‘egocide’ and dedicate his works to the future benefit of ‘spaceship earth’ as he called it. He went on to produce engineering wonders and also documented his entire life. He never charged for his engineering work; his sole purpose being to give service to his fellow humans. I read that book and thought: that’s me, I feel the same. I still remind myself of ol’ Bucky when I doubt or worry where the next pay cheque will come from!
What do you do to keep yourself sharp? What one thing have you done in the past year that has made a significant difference in your life/your business?
I choose something every day, every minute that will make significant changes to my life and business. I like to live on the creative edge!
What one thing would you like to learn this year?
Only one?! I can’t; I just can’t! Serbian; horse riding; gain my motor boat license?
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I donate 30% of my personal income, and all profits from True Grit donations, towards my not-for-profit foundation called Worlds Without Frontiers. It’s a global community platform committed to finding new thought leaders from around the world. I’m fairly certain that in 5 years this will be a large global space contributing to a better, kinder world. I like to think I’ll be pretty tied up with that, reaching corners of the world where people have something truly different to share and haven’t had a voice until now. Translating the wisdom of other languages and cultures into English is an integral part of Worlds Without Frontiers, so that this ancient knowledge can be shared with us all.
What do you do for fun/relaxation/entertainment?
There is a beautiful mountain range, Mount Orjen, just behind my house. It borders Montenegro and Croatia. It takes 40 minutes to drive there and I can walk there the whole day, alone except for the eagles, wolves and foxes.
Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?
I am an egalitarian leader. If this resonates with you, or you want to share something with me then just get in touch. I always reply and, if I have time, and I can see ways we can collaborate for the betterment of the planet then I’ll make time to speak with you. I happen to think you have something uniquely brilliant to share.
What’s the best way for the readers of WE Magazine for Women to connect with you .
I prefer to do many of my live videos on my personal Facebook page – I have no wish to create a separate ‘professional’ persona! Feel free to take a look and friend me: https://www.facebook.com/
Do explore my website for resources, musings and videos to uplift and inspire: https://www.
True Grit takes place 3 times a year; the next one will be in January 2023 so sign up to get more information about how to choose your topic:
My podcast, The 29th Day, explores how we step into being the gods of our own creation: https://www.