Highly sensitive people react to stimuli differently from other people, which may be a good thing or a bad thing depending on their mastery of their strengths. In the world of business, highly sensitive entrepreneurs are often the ones who have visionary potential. With the right mental tools to properly harness their talents, they have tremendous value to offer the world. Together with host Traci DeForge, business mentor Heather Dominick of A Course in Business Miracles shares her knowledge about the characteristics, the strengths and weaknesses, and the potential of highly sensitive entrepreneurs. Heather founded and has been leading the Highly Sensitive Entrepreneur® since 2010. Her work with highly sensitive individuals in various fields has given her a unique perspective of what they can do to make the most out of their talents. Want to know if you’re highly sensitive? Stick to the end and learn how.
Our guest is someone that I’ve been looking forward to interviewing for a long time. Her name is Heather Dominick. She is an expert and speaks very successfully on the subject of highly sensitive entrepreneurs. The real big question is can you be highly successful in business and highly spiritual at the same time? We’re going to have that conversation with Heather. She is a woman who is impressively successful and highly spiritual. She’s a former High School Drama teacher who collaborated with none other than Bette Midler, and a graduate of NYU where she received her first coach training. She’s also the winner of the 2015 Best of Manhattan Coaching Award and Creator of the 2014 Stevie Award-winning virtual event, A Course in Business Miracles. Welcome to the show.
I’m happy to be here. I’m looking forward to this conversation.
These highly sensitive people and the topic of highly sensitive entrepreneurs is dear to me because I’m pretty sure after taking the quiz on your website, that I am a highly sensitive entrepreneur, even though I am completely and totally extroverted in my professional life. Highly sensitive entrepreneurs have to be extroverts or the ones that are extroverts are truly closet introvert, which is probably me. I am what I would consider being an introvert and a public extrovert. Why don’t we start there?
It’s a beautiful place to start. First of all, it’s a real snippet around the definition of what it means to be highly sensitive and to underline that it’s not a phrase coined by me. It came out of a lot of research at the end of the 20th Century. One of the researchers who’s most well-known is Dr. Elaine Aron for her book, The Highly Sensitive Person. In short, what it means to be highly sensitive is that you and your nervous system are wired differently to take in stimulation. That could be anything from sight, sound, smell, touch, energy and information. As a highly sensitive, you’re going to take in information or stimulation at a much higher degree than someone who’s not highly sensitive. It is biological. I always like to say your parents didn’t do it to you. You didn’t pick it up on the playground or it’s not that weird drink you had in college.
You were brought into the world this way. With that comes an entirely different way of processing the world than someone who’s not highly sensitive. What comes out of the research is that there is 20% of us that are born into the world highly sensitive. It then leads to the next great point that you brought up which is being highly sensitive, does that mean necessarily that you’re introverted or shy or quiet? The answer is no. They can correlate, but they don’t necessarily correlate. There are highly sensitives who are introverted and those who are extroverted and a combination of the two. Susan Cain and her book, Quiet, does a great job of highlighting the various combinations of introversion and extroversion. That it’s not as black and white as we often want to make it. All of that to say the short answer is yes, you can be highly sensitive and extroverted.
Thank you for that great description, especially for people who may be not familiar with the term HSP. As you were talking, I realized that I first understood the term and learned it from Alanis Morissette, who is very well-known outside of the fact that she’s a famous musician and amazing artist. She’s very well-known for speaking very publicly about HSP. That’s where I got my first a-ha. All these unlikely odd things, I felt I was in contradiction ever because I am very personable. Not that HSPs aren’t joyful because I don’t mean that at all. I almost felt like I had honed this level of skillset. I was extroverted, the happiest person in the room, and also at the same time picking up everybody else’s energy in the room to make sure they’re happy. I know a lot of that was skills that I developed being the mediator of my family starting at a very young age. That’s a skillset that I’ve carried with me, but it can be a blessing and a curse in that way.
The other thing that I would love for you to expand a little bit more on, because this was something that was such an a-ha for me when I started to understand this personality type a little bit more, is this sense of physically picking up other people’s energy. Some people think that it’s out there, it’s a new agey and a woohoo concept. For me, I’ll share with you my personal experience of how I first started to notice it. It was in random situations like in Target, for example, or in busy arenas. I was in the broadcast radio business forever. Being in an arena around a lot of people or that level of high energy, loud noises and things like that, I would feel physically anxious inside. I would be happy that I was there or I was in Target but there are times when I physically felt like I had to leave this place because I had this overwhelming sense of energy that I didn’t understand. Can you help shine a light on that?
The simplest way to understand it that allows us to see it as not woo-woo is we go back to the nervous system. As a highly sensitive person, your nervous system is wired to take in stimulation at a much higher degree. You can think of the nervous system like an antenna. You have some weaker antennas that if you’re in Georgia, you’re not necessarily going to pick up a radio station that’s in New York City. You have stronger antennas that if you’re in Georgia, you will pick up that radio station in New York City. For a highly sensitive to be in Target or an arena, your nervous system or your antenna is going to pick up more energy than someone who is not highly sensitive. In the same way, going back to the antenna analogy, you’re going to be able to hear more with that stronger antenna as a highly sensitive, but it’s going to register in multiple senses, not just sound.
You will feel the vibration of the noise and of the presence of the people in your body. This also makes me think because we are in the midst of COVID-19, early on when the global pandemic was first declared, I remember seeing an article. I say seeing because it was digital online and it had this amazing visual effect. This article showed that the recorded vibration of the earth in 2019 was so much more intense than the same time in 2020 because of the decrease in human activity. The planes were not flying. Cars were not driving. People were not traveling. There wasn’t as much activity. All to say that it’s scientifically shown that there is a more intense vibration with the more activity and people that are in motion. Going back to the antenna, being highly sensitive, and in that arena, you are going to feel, experience, and pick up on that greater level of motion, vibration and activity than if you’re not highly sensitive and you don’t have the degree of that antenna.
For me, once I had even the smallest bit of awareness around the things that you’re saying, it helped me be more psychologically calm because I wasn’t wrestling with, is there something wrong with me? I had this more acute awareness of this has to do with my nervous system. It doesn’t have to do with anything of me personally or anything I’ve done right or I’ve done wrong, or the circumstances of my environment. It has to do with my nervous system. That gave me a lot of broader birth of peace in those situations. I was able to pay more attention to it at that point.
You speak to something very common amongst highly sensitives which is a sense of, “There is something wrong with me.” The way that I explained that in my work, serve and support in my mentoring programs is to make the connection between the socialized and cultural acceptance of how you are supposed to either process the world or behave in the world. If you bring it down to the percentage that there’s 20% of us that are highly sensitive, which means there’s 80% that’s not. The majority of the world is going to be designed for 80%. Because you don’t necessarily engage in the world or process the world in the same way as the 80-percenters do, then the brain registers that as wrong when really all that is that you’re different. I know for myself, when I first discovered that I was highly sensitive, I had already been self-employed for almost ten years at that point.
I was at this pivotal experience in my business. Looking back on it, I can refer to it as a dark night of the soul. I was feeling overwhelmed, overworked, and over-exhausted. Even though I had created this outer success, it had come at a very high-cost for me. It was that dark night of the soul moment that led me to learn about high sensitivity. I had never even heard the phrase at that time. Once I understood what it meant, then I started to see, “I’m supposed to go about this whole self-employed thing in a very different way than those who are not highly sensitive.” It doesn’t mean that their way is right and my way is wrong or vice versa, but there does need to be a different approach.
That is such a great transition to the question that I was going to ask you in terms of, how do we build this bridge between the highly sensitive person and highly sensitive entrepreneur outside of being aware of the sensitivity impact in itself? That does then translate into a lot of things that you speak about in your materials, which I love. It’s about the ability to sell your business, directed or supposed to be selling marketing business development within your business as a self-employed highly sensitive entrepreneur. I would love for you to expound on that somewhat.
We go back to the very important separation of wrong versus different. The best way to speak to that is from my own experience. When I had entered into being self-employed, I knew nothing about being in business. I was coming from being a public high school teacher. I never even used a computer on a day-to-day basis. Suddenly, here I was learning things like how to have a website, how to network, how to market, how to have a selling conversation. In the way that you learn anything, I turn to those who had experienced doing it. I read books and I attended seminars. I hired a coach. They taught me what they knew. What it turned out to be as I shared ten years in is to realize like, “They’re doing it this way because it works for them. That makes sense.”
They have a different way of operating and processing the world than I do. That means you do things differently and not right or wrong, but the difference is very important. I did go into starting to approach everything that I was doing in regards to marketing, selling, and operations differently. Now so much of what I teach and mentor on is how to first understand and accept your highly sensitive nature, how to have it go to work for you in this realm or this arena of being an entrepreneur, and even where I’ve expanded to is how to take that into being an effective leader in all aspects of your life. It boils down to not denying who you are simply because the majority of others in the arena happened to do it differently than what works best for you.
Can you be highly successful in business and highly spiritual at the same time. Let’s take this question a step further. Is there a direct relationship between your spirituality and great success?
Heather Dominick is a woman who is impressively successful, and highly spiritual. A former high school drama teacher who collaborated with none other than Bette Midler. A graduate of NYU where she received her first coach training. Heather is the winner of the 2015 Best of Manhattan Coaching Award and creator of the 2014 Stevie Award winning virtual event A Course In Business Miracles®: 21-Day Discovery Series that attracted close to 6,000 official registrants from all around the world including Iceland, Nigeria, Russia, Asia, South America, Australia, Europe and the U.S.
She has appeared on Lifetime Television and has been published in numerous books including Stepping Stones to Success alongside Deepak Chopra
An exceptional facilitator and teacher Heather is known for creating a safe, sacred community for true transformation whether she is teaching a Business Miracles® Class, delivering training online or in-person or mentoring members of her Business Miracles Community in her various Mentoring Programs. She has helped thousands of HSE®s release life-long limiting beliefs, overcome fears and learn how to build their business in a way that actually feels so good that they can’t help but create solid, sustainable, high-level financial success.
Heather is also the founder and leader of the Highly Sensitive Entrepreneur® movement.