The Unexpected Life: the Wonderful Gift of Courage and Possibility

What lies on the other side of a courageous decision? Perhaps nothing, or maybe an unimaginable journey. From Barista to Boardroom by Christine McHugh is a collection of memories that encompass just that - the path on the other side of courage. Christine McHugh shares the lessons she’s learned throughout her life and career at Starbucks with vulnerability, courage, and determination. She shares moments of joy as well as moments of immense heartache. We are so honored to share her story!

It all started with an intention...or two. Christine shares, “I had two intentions when I sat down to write this book. One was to learn to be a writer. Growing up in corporate America, my experiences with writing were mostly limited to PowerPoint presentations and bulleted emails. But when I got to ‘What is the purpose of sharing my story?,’ my intention was really around helping. How can I help other people and be of service by way of sharing some of my own experiences? How I’ve navigated through challenges, how I’ve stood up for myself, how I’ve grown my career, and how I’ve stayed rooted to the things that are important to me.”

With those two intentions, the journey began. The journey to LEARN to give life to experiences of the past, and the journey to be in SERVICE of others. In her book, Christine demonstrates the commitment to courage. As a 19-year-old barista, Christine had her sights set on joining Starbucks Corporate and not knowing where to start, she took a chance where she thought she could. She opened the Bean Book - Starbucks’s internal directory and landed a meeting with the HR employment manager a week later to see if she could get her first office position within StarbucksThis decision led to her first position in HR and began her 27 year career path with the companyWe asked how she gathered the courage to go for this jump, and she shared, “The moment I make the decision to do this thing, make this move, I’m in. And if it’s terrible, I know it’s not forever. If it’s great, it can turn into something I never imagined.”

“If it’s terrible, I know it’s not forever. If it’s great, it can turn into something I never imagined.”

With this commitment to courage comes the lesson of being open to possibility. 10 years later, Christine announced her sabbatical and took the risk to travel around the world. She brought back a profound lesson, “I’ve been pretty exposed [in those experiences traveling] where I don’t know how to get around. I don’t know who the people are, and I don’t know what lies around the next corner. I brought back being more open. It helped me to not worry so much about what’s next, where I am going, or how I get from point A to Z. When you put yourself in uncomfortable situations and navigate through, it helps you realize that you can do a lot more than you think you can do.”

Through this path of courage, of digging up memories and putting them into words, something magical happened. “My editor taught me how to express and communicate in a way that I hadn’t done before. I really enjoyed getting descriptive on what people were wearing, what was going on in the background. I learned how to express my emotions, and I honestly think that writing this book was like fast track therapy. I learned how to share things that brought me joy and share things that brought me pain and talk about why and what that felt like. I went into it wanting to help others, but I ended up helping myself.”

She shares with us her hope for the readers of her book and for our MyIntent community, “Be open to the opportunity and possibility. A spark, a step. It takes a phone call, an email. Shed the shoulds - “I should be building my community.” “I should be building my career.” “I should be building my family.” Do the things that bring you joy and bring you energy and not get caught up in what we think people think we should be doing. Follow your own path because there are so many different ways to get there.”

Inspired by her hope and encouragement, here are some journal prompts that might help you get started on your unexpected journey:

  • What is one thing you’ve always wanted to try, but haven’t?
  • What is on the other side of courage for you?
  • What is a “should” you want to shed to get one step closer to that journey?

Want to read Christine’s full journey and inspired by the lessons she shares, check out her new book From Barista to Boardroom. Thank you so much to Christine McHugh for sitting down with us, sharing your beautiful stories, and allowing us to be a part of your journey!

Our journey with Christine started over 3 years ago when Christine was training for the New York City Marathon. She was fundraising for The American Heart Association and used MyIntent as a fundraising tool! She raised over $10,000 for charity, and in From Barista to Boardroom, she shares the heartfelt background of why The American Heart Association was so important. Giving a glimpse into the close relationship she had with her cousin Sonja, Christine shares the heartache and grief of losing Sonja. This run was for her and for her cousin. During the race, Christine had her intention GRATEFUL and also ran with a specific token in her pocket that read CUZ LOVE, a tribute to her beloved cousin. She remembers, “Because we always called each other Cuz and when we would sign off on our emails CUZ LOVE. So that was for her.”