Linda Mueller is a Chicago, Illinois-entrepreneur who spent over a decade moving around the globe in support of her husband’s career. As an expat, re-locating to different cities and countries, she often found the experience lonely and unmooring. When the Pandemic hit last Spring Mueller spent time reflecting on all the many places they had called home over the years and all the people they had met along the way. She brought these memories and experiences together to create The Expat Partner Coach a coaching business helping expat partners who are feeling lonely, directionless or stuck to find meaning and purpose in their new homes.
Mueller’s story, as told to The Story Exchange 1,000+ Stories Project:
When I became an expat partner in 2004, I stepped off the traditional corporate career path that was my identity and passion. I spent the next 10+ years moving internationally in support of my husband’s career. In short, it was a crash course in personal development and life lessons; one that was full of extreme highs and lows. It became a gift that allowed me to get in touch with who I wanted to be and what I wanted to do instead of what I thought was expected of me. My values shifted and I experimented with purpose – holding onto my corporate career, becoming a certified business/life coach, supporting my family, volunteering, and so on. During the lockdown, I was merging and purging items that had been stored while we lived abroad. It was a walk down memory lane and inspired me to reconnect with friends from every stage of my life. That motivated me to use all that I have learned and experienced to support others on a similar journey. I created The Expat Partner Coach LLC in October 2020.
Success is impact. Knowing that I am helping others to find purpose and to enjoy their life abroad fulfills me. It helps me to make sense of the path I’ve chosen; one that is very different from what I imagined I’d follow in my younger years. The younger me defined success in terms of corporate title and compensation. Today, I feel successful when I hear a client discover an empowering thought, celebrate an accomplishment, or thank me for listening to and hearing them.
Allowing myself to be vulnerable in order to connect with the people I am meant to serve: When I decided to launch my business, I started writing and pitching articles about my experiences and posting on social media. Making myself vulnerable was terrifying, but I knew it was necessary in order for potential clients to get to know, like, and trust me. My biggest success has been the support I’ve received from publications that have featured my work, peers who have asked me to collaborate, and followers who comment that my posts resound with them and reach out to work with me. All of this has validated that I’m on the right path.
I am my own biggest challenge. I’ve had to get out of my own way by working on my perfectionist tendencies and imposter syndrome. I joke that I’m my own best coaching client. I’ve overcome this by getting clear on my strengths and compensating for my weaknesses. I’ve forced myself to commit to public speaking on a Clubhouse panel, Facebook lives, and a podcast. It’s always nerve-wracking leading up to it, but I won’t break a commitment and I’m always glad I’ve done it when it’s over. I’ve hired help in areas that challenge me – bookkeeping and website development. In short, I just keep going. Each step, no matter how small, is progress.
Esther C. Lawton was and still is my most important role model. She had a life-long career with the U.S. government that began in the 1930s. She fought gender discrimination until she retired in 1980 as the Deputy Director of Personnel for the U.S. Treasury Department. Esther used her success and influence to lead and support countless women’s rights groups for the remainder of her life. When I was in college, Esther hired me as a research assistant for a book she was writing. The book was never finished but we became like family. Her love and support, as well as everything she taught me about how to lead, to stay curious, and to serve others, continue to inspire and guide me to this day.