Finding Her Flow: How Audrey Holst Fights Perfectionism

perfectionism success May 01, 2024

Do you ever feel that you need to be perfect? Or, let us rephrase - when do you NOT feel you need to be perfect? Audrey Holst knows this dilemma, and she's now a top coach for high performers who want to overcome perfectionism and live a more free life.

Audrey, tell us about your passion. 

I'm passionate about helping high achievers orient themselves away from toxic perfectionism so they can reconnect with themselves and fully enjoy their personal and professional lives.

How did you discover your passion, and how long have you been practicing it? Was there a big "aha moment" or did you realize it more slowly? 

It's been a lifetime uncovering. When I was working with horses in my younger years, I got along best with the high-strung sensitive horses that needed a brave, patient, and attentive rider. This seems to have translated well along my 17-year journey working in the yoga industry with A-type personalities and similarly as a Certified Professional Coach in the professional and corporate context since 2014. One of my superpowers is being able to make sense of a person (or animal) given their history, context, and experience in a moment and creating change within the relationship through that sense-making. This has been one of the biggest joys and inspirations in my profession.

What was happening in your life when you discovered this passion? 

I've had perfectionist tendencies my whole life. I was the teacher's pet, ideal student, and star athlete growing up. I got a lot of pride and praise for my ability to work hard with a smile on my face without complaining. This eventually translated into my personal and professional life by multiple burnouts. I was great at working too hard and too seriously and too many hours in various professions. I did a lot of people-pleasing in dysfunctional relationships. I ended up having a few emotional breakdowns from being "fine" and ignoring my body's signals.

As I began searching for change by working with various practitioners and researching and reading and learning about the nervous system and body on a deeper level, I would relate what I learned during my yoga classes. People began to come to me in private with their own experiences and struggles around burnout and perfectionism.

I realized there were many people experiencing similar challenges and weren't talking about it in public spaces and I had a very specific lens on how to create change.

Have you ever hesitated in pursuing your passion? Why? What support has helped you continue?

I have to work hard at the skills that are required to run a business and I've wanted to quit many times! I'm incredible at what I do with clients but the work itself is a small percentage of what it takes to run and own a company. It takes a village to build a successful business. My colleagues and coaches encourage me onward and support me even when I've wanted to quit. They are a big reason why my business is successful today.

Where have you needed to invest your time, energy, or other resources to pursue this passion? What have you removed from your life so that you could pursue it?

Reflecting on this question makes me realize how challenging it is to stay aligned personally and professionally and take the road less traveled. It takes concerted effort. I'm dedicated to sustainable business, sustainable practices, and working with clients to find the aligned path for them in their lives. This isn't often easy or simple for me or for them and it can be tempting to give up. It's tempting to "unknow" and become another cog in the machine and go back to what is common. The time, energy, and resources I have are often put toward orienting away from the status quo, staying in my lane, and committing over and over again to a vision of the future that's different. It's a daily practice and settling into "the road well traveled" is something in many ways I've removed from my life.

Tell us about one challenge you've encountered as you've pursued this passion. What is it? Are you overcoming it, or still managing it? What tools or strategies have you found helpful for navigating this challenge?

Sustainable and aligned business is a slow growth (at least that's been my experience). This is a regular and ongoing practice that I commit to every day. Again, I surround myself with people that believe in me and my vision, give me honest feedback, and are tough on problems and gentle with me. I believe community is the key to any challenge that requires a long-term solution.

Look back at the "you" before you started this passion. Is your life different now? How?

I've always been a bit of a bold outlier, although it's never been my intention and I certainly have not felt bold or brave while I've been doing something that many people have told me is courageous! I'm still very much a sensitive human that marvels at the joys and challenges of being in this world at this time and I'm unbelievably blessed to be surrounded by the people I've met and the relationships I've cultivated in my personal and professional communities. I have always tried to live a life that's aligned with my values and as I've gotten older I've gotten clearer about what that means. I certainly have a healthier relationship with myself, with others, and the world in general and my passion for learning hasn't lessened one bit.

Although I still often feel fear around getting things "right" I take that fear less seriously now and I have hopes for even bolder out-of-the-box action in my future work.

How has your passion helped others? 

One of the biggest losses I think we have in our society is this strange split between the "professional" version of ourselves and the "real" version. That professional version is where toxic perfectionism takes its deepest root and disconnects us from our bodies and humanity. It's prevalent in analytically driven industries like law and studies show over and over again the negative impact on people's mental and physical health over time. 

I endeavor to be all of myself in all of my interactions. I've found that modeling this can be validating and healing and helps create a new culture bit-by-bit. My dedication to a world that doesn't bend itself around perfectionism helps others begin to imagine and embody the same. 

What is one "life lesson" you're learning as you pursue this passion? 

Just because something is simple doesn't mean it's easy!

What would you say to a Passionado who is considering exploring a passion?

Take your time and let go of a timeline. Things will always move slower than you want or anticipate. You'll be sent off on side-quests that seem like distractions and a waste of time that will ultimately serve you in a beautiful way. Follow your gut, take breaks along the way, and cultivate a community around you that supports you fully as a human in all the forms you will take along your journey. Take naps. Spend time in nature. Do things that your brain tells you is a waste of time, but your body deeply craves. It will all make sense when you look back on it.


Say hi to Audrey at: Fortitude and Flow website or Audrey’s LinkedIn profile.


Get "The Passion Seeker"

Join 10k readers of our monthly newsletter that gives you practical inspiration for pursuing your passions!