Christina Aristidou is a successful high-performance coach, mentor, trainer, Associated Certified Coach, and member of the International Coach Federation whose passion and mission is empowering individuals, teams, and corporations to achieve and become their best. With more than 15 years of commercial experience in executive legal positions in law firms, shipping companies, investment funds and multinational corporations, Christina has worked alongside wealthy individuals and top professionals around the globe and developed a keen understanding of the common traits that set successful entrepreneurs and lawyers apart from everyone else in the market.
In this interview, Christina shares her insights on the most common traits of successful entrepreneurs and lawyers, the promise of top-tier universities, the value of high-performance coaching, her definition of high performance, as well as her own journey towards authenticity and the three pillars that drive Christina’s clients to become high performers in all areas of their lives.
Authenticity feels like coming home to yourself. It is happiness and success redefined on your own terms.
In your experience, Christina, with an extensive commercial experience complimenting your studies in law, what is the most common traits successful entrepreneurs and lawyers share?
Success is not linear, and people measure it differently, but there are indeed some common traits that set successful entrepreneurs and lawyers apart from everyone else in the market. These attributes are neither accidental nor natural; they are built through intentional habits and constant practice until they become second nature. These are mindset, emotional intelligence, and perseverance.
Successful entrepreneurs and lawyers have a clear vision of what they want and a firm belief in themselves and their abilities, as well as the confidence to act, take risks, learn, and evolve. Developing strong emotional intelligence helps them become aware of themselves and others, take responsibility for their actions and outcomes, set boundaries, build strong personal and professional relationships, communicate efficiently and collaborate with different personalities.
Highly achieved entrepreneurs and lawyers persevere; they stay committed to their vision, take relentless action, learn from their mistakes, celebrate their wins, have patience and faith, and navigate through challenges smoothly, calmly, and rationally. They keep going no matter what, knowing that success is a journey and a state of mind. As a bonus, choosing to lead with kindness is the secret sauce towards achieving success and fulfilment. A leader is someone people choose to follow; it is a person that inspires, empowers, understands, empathises, and appreciates others. Kindness is the most undervalued characteristic in leadership but the one that makes all the difference.
What is your opinion on the promise of top-tier universities? Having graduated from a top-tier university twice, do you believe that there is an advantage which experience itself cannot offer?
There are definitely a couple of advantages for graduates of top-tier universities.
These may include tangible benefits such as a higher quality of education, professors and guest speakers that are authorities in their field, higher research quality, greater variety of resources and facilities, an esteemed alumni network, a community of competent individuals shaping and enriching the students’ perspective and insight. There are also intangible benefits such as more and better employment opportunities, recognition that gets them ahead of the competition, advanced skillset, and higher confidence level.
Having said that, performance is the critical factor in university, in the workplace, and in life. Performance is more than learning and applying theory into practice; it is also about the soft skills they develop, how they operate in their environment, how they manage their emotions, how much trust they have in themselves and their abilities, how they communicate with others, how disciplined they are, and how they self-regulate when challenged, stressed, or overwhelmed.
Graduating from a top-tier university is definitely an advantage that sets them up for success. Working experience and performance as well as the commitment to their self-development and lifelong learning are what really distinguish them from their peers over time.
Being a successful high performance coach, mentor, and trainer, what is your definition of ‘high performance’ and in which context is this applicable?
High-performance coaching is about empowering and supporting individuals, teams, and corporations to achieve and become their best. It is an amazing, progressive tool for people who know that they can be, do, and have more.
For individuals, it is particularly useful for goal setting in life and career, focusing on health and wellness, dealing with career transition, making changes to behaviour, establishing new habits, improving relationships with oneself or others, and dealing with uncertainty, life challenges, and setbacks.
In a corporate context, high-performance coaching increases engagement, employee retention, productivity, and fosters a healthier working environment in which people feel empowered, motivated, recognized, and understood. Safety and trust enable them to build deeper connections with the corporation as well as with their peers and experience a higher work satisfaction level.
What is one word that describes you and with which you want people to associate you?
Authenticity, having the courage to be myself authentically and unapologetically. It has not always been the case. It was my journey of introspection and self-discovery that enabled me to move past social conditioning, limiting beliefs, fear, get to know myself to the core, and realign my vision with my values and goals.
Loving and accepting myself for who I am, learning from my mistakes, becoming committed to my growth, and feeling worthy and safe to unleash my full potential. Authenticity feels like coming home to yourself; being true and prioritizing your needs and desires, self-regulating your emotions, and communicating your boundaries. It is happiness and success redefined in your own terms.
Authenticity not only makes us kind, considerate, and respectful towards others; it also transforms our relationships with ourselves and others. It makes people feel safe and comfortable in our presence, open up, and become authentic and vulnerable. For me, authenticity is the key to a life that is peaceful, impactful, and deeply fulfilling.
Life is a learning experience and an invitation for us to love ourselves and others, enjoy the moment, and thrive in whatever we put our mind and heart to. How can we do that if we are not 100% true to ourselves to start with?
Who is your typical client, what is the main challenges they are facing and in what areas?
My clients are individuals aged 15 to 55 years old, mainly women, who are high achievers, ambitious, and driven to accomplish meaningful and important goals in all areas of their life. They strive for clarity, purpose, joy, balance, and fulfilment.
The most common subjects are confidence, time management, life satisfaction, goal setting, communication, leadership, relationships, health, and vitality. During our sessions, they become aware of where they are, where they want to go, and they map out their way there.
Coaching provides a safe space for them to become aware of their thoughts, behaviours, and self-imposed limitations and explore options, alternatives, and solutions. In my capacity as their coach, I provide them with perspective, support, and accountability so that they get into action, stay on track, and reach their goals faster. They become present, release resistance and perfectionism, learn to set boundaries to preserve their peace, time, and space, and focus on their life performance and growth.
A change of mindset and attitude is pivotal in reaching their goals, ensuring sustainable results, as well as in avoiding setbacks and self-sabotage.
What attributes help your clients most to achieve high-performance personally and professionally?
I would say self-awareness, leadership, and resilience. Self-awareness is key in identifying their strengths, weaknesses, and areas they need to improve upon. Self-awareness enables them to accept, love, and not criticize themselves, and become aware of their self-imposed limitations, negative self-talk, and limiting beliefs.
It is through accepting responsibility for their mistakes, shortfalls, and misfortunes, that they take their power back and transform from victims to victors.
They are working on their emotional regulation, communication, confidence, boundaries, and self-discipline; they basically learn to lead themselves. While being focused on their goal, they learn how to remain flexible, be willing to try, fail, and learn, detaching themselves from the outcome and committing to growth.
Lastly, with change being the only constant, resilience becomes a superpower. Being able to remain calm and collected in the face of adversity, manage stress in times of uncertainty, and process and overcome challenges, enables them to bounce back bold and stronger, stretch their resilience muscle and grow themselves.
In what ways has coaching contributed towards your growth and success to date?
Coaching has helped me to see through myself, realize my self-worth, redefine myself and what I want, and remember what I love about life. It provided me with a safe space to explore my thoughts, patterns, relationships, needs, and desires. Coaching enabled me to release resistance, replace fear with curiosity, and upgrade my mindset from fixed to growth. I became aware of my thoughts, words, and actions, and observed where they diverged from my values and goals. Me-time, self-care, and boundaries became my absolute non-negotiables.
I improved my stress tolerance and became fearless and resilient. I developed conflict resolution mechanisms, boosted my confidence, and improved my communication skills as well as the quality of my relationships. Coaching provided me with the tools to set my priorities, manage my emotions as well as my time and energy, set boundaries, and achieve work-life balance. Self-awareness and introspection are the foundation for personal and professional development. I consider myself a work in progress and a lifelong learner.
What has been your ‘why?’ and what is the one thing that keeps you going?
My ‘why’ has changed a few times over the years. In my 20s, it was success, recognition, and love. In my 30s, it was money, power, and lifestyle. I was living the best life, I had everything I dreamed of, yet I was feeling exhausted, dissatisfied, and unfulfilled. Something was missing, leaving me experiencing an emptiness, an emotional void, I had no idea how to fill it in.
It was not until 2019 that a sudden life-threatening health condition forced me to go within and reconnect to my soul. This is when I came to realise that the quality of our life starts within, with being. Doing and having come second, not the other way around. That misfortune was a blessing in disguise and an absolute turning point in my life. As soon as I recovered, I made a promise to myself: from that moment on, I would be 100% true and authentic, listen to my intuition, become the best version of myself, and inspire and empower others to do the same. That was a firm decision, and I was ready, committed and determined to make that happen at any cost.
What really keeps me going since then, is love and gratitude for myself, my family, my life, and everyone and everything around me. I feel blessed for being alive, living life on my own terms. Painful moments are learning opportunities yet how we choose to respond, rather than react, differs based on our perspective. Reframing is one of my favourite tools: choosing to focus on the good in any situation while savouring, appreciating, and expressing gratitude for the small things people take for granted. Nothing is permanent, granted, or guaranteed the next minute, and this is my gentle reminder to be present, kind, and grateful for the now, and trust that in the end everything happens for, and not to, me.
Have you ever felt overwhelmed or burnout and how do you manage stress?
Of course, I felt overwhelmed a few times in the past, although I was not admitting that to myself back then. That occurred, at times throughout my career, when I was working in demanding corporate environments in executive positions. Having a loaded agenda consisting of multimillion projects, closings, deadlines, traveling abroad while also having a busy life at home, two small kids, a husband, and a busy social life over the weekends was complicated, challenging and at times overwhelming.
I was clearly taking over more than I could handle, the outcome being my collapse in 2019 that was my body’s way of saying ‘enough’. Overwhelm and burnout do not happen from one day to another. It is a long process of self-exhaustion ignoring the signs of our mind, body, and soul. Whenever we feel overburdened, asking for help and support is the bravest thing we can do for ourselves and the ultimate act of self love.
Managing stress has to do with listening to and respecting our body, setting priorities, managing our time and energy, setting boundaries, and most importantly prioritizing self-care and scheduling time off. We need to remind ourselves that we are human beings, not human doings. We need to pause and replenish our mental, emotional, and physical energy often; filling our cup is not only our right but also our absolute responsibility.
What do you consider your biggest assets and where do you see yourself growing the most in the next 5 years?
We all do the best we know and the best we can with the level of awareness we have at the moment. The more we know, the better we perform, both in life and in business. Mindset, skillset, and actionset are actually the most valuable assets each of us has, and the good news is that they are not fixed, we can upgrade them over time. But we cannot grow and stay the same; we need to choose. The best investment we can make, now and at any given point in time, is in ourselves. Nobody can ever take it away, the return on investment is for life, and everyone with whom we interact benefits from us being the best version of ourselves.
Self-evolution is my passion, my goal, my focus, my priority, and luckily my job. I am committed to lifelong learning, knowing that there is always a next level and a better version of me I deserve to become. Over the next 5 years, I see myself growing mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and professionally, expanding my presence and services worldwide, unleashing my full potential. Living my legacy is all about walking the talk, while being of service, inspiring and empowering people to shine and thrive authentically and unapologetically, creating a positive change in the world.
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