Annicken has spent over two decades helping startup founders and Fortune 500 executives build thriving, successful organisations and businesses. As the bestselling author of "Fly, Butterfly" and a sought-after keynote and TEDx speaker, her messages of passion, purpose, and joy has inspired tens of thousands of people worldwide to make positive change, and pursue greater levels of happiness, in their personal and professional lives.
Q: How do you define metamorphosis and how have you metamorphosed?
A: Metamorphosis is the process of transformation, of shedding old skin and re-emerging as something fresh and new, sometimes unrecognizable from what we once were. Just like the caterpillar transforms into a butterfly, we humans can also transform to the most authentic and purest version of ourselves by going through our own metamorphosis process.
However, like the caterpillar needs to be willing to give up a life crawling on the ground and surrender to its metamorphosis process inside the cocoon to become a butterfly, we humans must also surrender to our own growth, which sometimes can feel like being inside a cocoon. A sometimes painful, but highly necessary cocoon, where we can learn and grow into a wiser, stronger, purer, more authentic, and hopefully happier, version of ourselves. I believe that in the very fabric of human nature there is a need to learn, change and grow, that is one of the reasons we are on this planet. But humans' fear of uncertainty, challenges, and emotional pain, all necessary parts of the metamorphosis process, holds many people back from surrendering to their growth. Thus, many never get to experience themselves as butterflies.
I have metamorphosed many times in my life, with more to come, I’m sure. Growth is a never-ending process, and the moment that I say “I have arrived” I will most probably have left for another realm.
Every metamorphosis I have experienced has been triggered by a challenging event in my life, mostly related to pain and loss. Abuse, betrayal, loss, sickness, the death of loved ones, getting cancer; they have all triggered an activation and shedding of old skin, while removing another illusionary veil before my eyes. The world has gotten increasingly clear to me, or at least my role in it and my perception of it. Learning, growing, making a difference, being happy and spreading love and joy is all that really matters to me. Surrendering to my personal metamorphosis processes over and over again is what has brought me this knowing. What the next metamorphosis will bring I don’t know yet, but I will make sure to surrender to that one as well.
Q: Women of power: what is your definition of power?
A: My definition of power is to not let the outward world define what it is, or whether you have it or not, but to define it for yourself – and own it. Inner power, that comes from self-love, self-respect, self-trust and self-belief. That is real power. It’s the kind of power that makes external validation redundant and makes us focus all our strength, resilience and perseverance towards our goals and the difference we want to make.
That said, unfortunately the world still seems to have a very different definition of power, more focusing on power over than power within. And even more unfortunate is that many people in power position, in the traditional sense of the word, don’t have power within but instead exercise external power based on dominance, inequality, unfair sharing of resources and sometimes even emotional or physical abuse. All unacceptable behaviours that often derive from a lack of self-love, self-respect, self-trust, and self-belief.
For years, many women have had to, or, in some instance, chosen to play the old-fashioned power games in order to acquire roles of influence in politics, in organisational life, and the corporate world. But as the old systems and male-dominated hierarchies slowly, but surely, are starting to crumble under the changes of the new world, new values systems, and new expectations and demands from the younger generations, it is important that women start using their REAL power, the one that comes from within. And redefine power as the power of empathy, compassion, vulnerability, creativity, collaboration, and growth. In short, the power of our innate feminine values.
Q: What is one of the most important lessons you have taken in your life?
A: To trust and listen to my inner voice. Already as a young girl, I had a strong intuition and a sense of what was right and wrong for me, but I grew up in a home where Science was God, and gut feelings were considered imagination or even dilutional. As a grown-up, it took me some time to realize that my inner voice and intuition were the best guides when making choices and big decisions, but I still found it challenging to defend and describe them in the highly rational environment I was still living in.
It took some experiences of not following my inner voice and gut feeling, and realizing how wrong that was for me, to start trusting my intuition for real. And then, the more I started trusting it, the stronger it got. So, to condense it into a lesson; no matter how well-intended other people’s advice may be, I now know that what my inner voice is telling me, and what I feel in my gut, is always what is right for me.
Q: Butterflies transform in the most unbelievably charming way. How do you feel about change, are you comfortable with it?
A: The butterfly’s transformation from a caterpillar is indeed beautiful, but it is certainly not an easy one. And frankly, neither is change. Having gone through many changes in my life, both in my personal and professional life, and having taken a lot of risks and done many things way outside my comfort zone, I think it is fair to say that I’ve built up a pretty strong “change muscle”. Change doesn’t really scare me anymore. I won’t say that I always love it, but I can say that I’m always grateful for it, because even the changes I haven’t liked when they happened, have taken me to places I wouldn’t have been able to go without them. In fact, not changing, not growing, but just standing still, is a way scarier scenario to me than the uncomfortableness of change itself. So, I guess it’s fair to say that change doesn’t scare me half as much as the thought of not changing at all.
Q: What is a message that you would like to communicate to a younger generation of women?
A: To love yourself unconditionally for the wonderful, beautiful being that you are. That no one but yourself decides your worth. That you can be and do and become anything that you set your heart to. That your thoughts, your mind, your opinions, your ambitions, and your dreams matter. That anyone who makes you feel less about yourself, who doesn’t support you, care about you or believe in you, is not worthy of your time, your energy, or your heart. That you can make this world, or someone’s world, a better place. Not by following the playbook of old rules from the generations before you, but by creating something new. Not by waiting to get a seat by the table in the old patriarch, but instead go out and build your own table. And to create, together with your fellow sister and brothers, a world where everyone’s values, opinions, gender, preferences, and dreams are equally respected, valued, and made possible; and where the only thing that can stop people is the limitation of their own dreams.
Q: Anything else that you would like to share? What is your next project?
A: Having coached and helped leaders and teams build inspiring workplaces and high-performing organisations for two decades, I recently launched a new venture called 'Happy Life Happy Work' which is aimed at helping individuals create more meaningful, inspiring, and joyful lives and careers for themselves. The online course helps participants explore their personal purpose and values, build new levels of self-trust, learn to master self-empowering mindsets, and get guidance, strategies and tools in how to create a life and career from the place of passion and joy.
I’m also passionate about in my writing. After my debut novel Fly, Butterfly became an international bestseller and was translated to multiple languages, I have had a lot of readers reach out and ask me about a sequel. I am happy to say that I’m currently writing on it and aim for it to be published sometime in 2024.
And finally, I want to say that I’m very proud to be part of the Athena40/Global Thinkers Forum community and hope to be able to support and inspire more women around the world in how to spread their wings and fly.