The Lab

The Lab: How One Coach Broke Her “Addiction” To Work And Now Has A Career Helping Others

SUMMARY
Prior to enrolling in Third Wave’s Coaching Certification Program, Lauren Mugglebee was in search of a major life transformation. She was a successful product manager at household-name companies in Silicon Valley working 60-80 hours a week while trying to raise two young daughters. Burnout is famously high in Silicon Valley, where a culture of extreme work-life imbalance pervades.

“I was completely addicted to work and money and title and material things,”* she laments. Something had to give.

So, she hired Third Wave Founder, Paul F. Austin, to help her figure out a new career path.

Redefining Her Identity

Initially, through a series of large psychedelic experiences, Mugglebee came to the realization that her worth was more than her title—and that she could spend more time with her children without feeling that she wasn’t working enough.

Leading up to the emotionally and mystically profound experience, Mugglebee recalls: “I think one of my intentions was definitely focused on not attaching my identity to work, or how much money I made.”

She realized she didn’t have to define her contribution through tech products, but could also contribute through her own personal healing journey. So Mugglebee trained and earned her certification as an executive coach and built up a small roster of traditional business clients.

For instance, she helps clients reach their career ambitions.

Perhaps her clients “…want to move into a big tech company, like one of the top five tech companies. They are currently working for a bank or a smaller company and they come to me and say ‘I would like to work at Facebook. I would like to work at Google’—and I will help them to get into one of those companies.”

Diving Beneath Ambition

As a coach, she began to notice that clients were ostensibly coming to her for relatively straightforward career questions, but that beneath the surface, there were more challenging issues.

“A lot of my clients that were coming during COVID because they were suffering from mental health issues,” she recalls.

She knew that there was a link between her clients’ professional challenges and mental health. And, given her experience with psychedelics, she believed such compounds could possibly be important tools in her clients’ transformation.

Third Wave’s Coaching Certification Program trains students in many aspects of psychedelic coaching, including microdosing. Lauren had her own experience microdosing, which helped her to kick a nasty caffeine addiction and get in shape for marathon bike riding.

In particular, she notes, microdosing helped her develop a practice of “stillness” and made her a better listener.

Now, instead of starting calls by jumping immediately into straightforward advice, she drops in with a meditation or breathwork. Helping her clients with nervous system regulation—that is, getting into the parasympathetic “rest and digest” mode—is a priority if they are to deal with their mental health challenges and begin their own positive behavior transformations.

Mugglebee brings this holistic approach to her clients, who, she says, often come to her seeking solutions to symptoms rather than root causes of their career issues.

“Nobody comes and says ‘I would like to reduce my hours,’” Mugglebee notes. “But in the course of coaching, what ends up happening is that people come saying they want this one thing, and then it ends up that they’re really missing a feeling of connection—or having something that allows them to care more about something other than work.”

She recalls one client who “uses work to feel a sense of family.” Over the course of their sessions together, Mugglebee has helped him find solutions to the feelings of alienation that work was not relieving. This particular client chose to change cities, “literally moving himself to be closer to friends. And to move to give him a better chance of meeting someone or forming a community outside of work.”

The Role of Psychedelics

Mugglebee is careful to note that she takes a slower approach when it comes to psychedelic coaching**, working with a client for two to three months before discussing how psychedelics might support their personal evolution.

As psychedelics enter the mainstream with the Netflix documentary of How to Change Your Mind and sports celebrities like Aaron Rogers speaking to USA Today reporters about how ayahuasca helped him win back-to-back MVPs, some people can get the wrong idea about the role of psychedelics in personal growth. A psychedelic experience—be it high-dose or microdosing—isn’t going to solve all your problems.

Specifically, with the kinds of clients Mugglebee works with, some individuals hope that psychedelics will lead to work-related revelations that will help them earn a promotion or design the next revolutionary piece of technology. But Mugglebee, in her role as a coach, has to reshape some of these expectations. Psychedelic experiences may lead to career-related insights, but not solve specific problems at work..

For example, Mugglebee recalls one client who was relatively junior in his career. He’d had some serious struggles with work and the loss of a romantic relationship; the career struggles ended up straining relationships with his family, who felt upset with him.

Mugglebee helped the client emotionally prepare for and integrate a high-dose psilocybin experience** through which “he began to heal and grieve from this relationship that ended and he also focused on improving this relationship with his [family].”

Mugglebee’s experience jives with some of the research published by Third Wave. Compared with LSD, psilocybin has a tendency to improve people’s relationships. Clients report that they have an unexpected focus on conflict resolution or perspective-taking. As one interviewee noted in our study:

“When I microdose psilocybin mushrooms, I tend to think more from a people’s lens to see who I can work with or involve to solve a given problem. When microdosing with LSD, however, I tend to think purely of a problem from an intellectual lens.”

So, it makes sense that, since Mugglebee’s client had a relational problem associated with his career, the first and most dramatic transformation was focused on family.

It should also be noted that this particular client has now found entrepreneurial ways to earn money in a new career—freelancing to build up a portfolio of work.

Mugglebee describes it as the “idea of being creative in terms of thinking about what he wanted to do next; what was the work that he wanted to do.”

This is also consistent with clients we’ve seen at Third Wave: psychedelics help people re-evaluate their career choices and become motivated to pursue a new path.

But you don’t need a psychedelic experience to re-think your career path. Many of Mugglebee’s clients do not pursue this modality, and her coaching practice thrives around helping individuals to reevaluate their relationship to work and make healthy behavior change.

Reflecting on her growth since the Coaching Certification Program, Mugglebee says, “I feel more confident as a coach that can straddle executive and leadership space for creativity transformation in terms of leadership, and I also feel very confident in creating these experiences for wellness or habit stacking or habit changes that my clients want to make that I never could have done before CCP.”

Mugglebee’s experience illustrates something we firmly believe here at Third Wave: inner transformation can precipitate outer transformation. By going inward first and interrogating her own relationship with work, Mugglebee meaningfully reevaluated and altered her career, goals, and relationships. This personal journey now provides crucial background knowledge from which Mugglebee can pull to guide her clients today.

 

*Quotes edited for clarity

**Like all psychedelic coaches trained by Third Wave, Lauren Mugglebee does not provide psychedelic medicine. Psychedelics are potentially illegal substances, and we do not encourage or condone the use of these substances where it is against the law. However, we accept that drug use occurs (in illegal and legal settings), and believe that offering responsible harm reduction information is imperative to keeping people safe. For that reason, coaching services are designed to ensure the safety of those who decide to use these substances.

Sam Frederick Ferenstein

Director of Research

Gregory Frederick Ferenstein, M.Sc., has been writing on innovation and psychology for over a decade. His peer-reviewed research was published in the leading journal of its field, and his work appears in top media outlets, including New York Times, The Washington Post, and the BBC.

After designing large-scale economic reform in Congress, he conducted field research in Silicon ValIey and become convinced that mental health must be a national priority.

He is now dedicated to advancing world-class, personalized mental healthcare. He holds a Master’s in Mathematical Behavior Sciences, taught statistics for journalism at the University of Texas, and resides in Austin.

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