Kylie Bartlett on the Achievement Myth and overcoming what’s holding you back

Kylie Bartlett-WOA-2015Kylie Bartlett is a fiercely passionate advocate for elevating women and developed ‘Women of Achievement with Kylie Bartlett’ as a vehicle where we come together to have the meaningful discussions and celebrate the successes of everyday women in business. In addition to this Kylie also plays the roles of: wife, mother of two, partner in a family business ‘Kim Bartlett Master Jewellers’, and is a learning advisor in Learning, Teaching and Student Engagement at James Cook University.

Kylie’s development of her platform Women of Achievement has been a journey from young girl to woman. I met with Kylie to discuss the ‘Achievement Myth’ and how she had encountered it in her work elevating women.

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Kylie, what inspired you to start Women of Achievement with Kylie Bartlett?

In 2013, a series of transformational moments unfolded. I learned the inspiring story of Dr Patricia Kailis, I won a seat at the Sustaining Women in Business Conference, and stumbled upon the phenomenal entrepreneur Lisa Messenger. I heard dynamic thought leaders like Holly Ransom question how women really support other women and became fascinated by the diverse women of achievement stories in my local community.

Collectively, those events changed me forever. I began seeing the world differently, I started believing anything was possible; I started listening to my inner mentor and started ‘playing big’.

I began seeing the world differently, I started believing anything was possible; I started listening to my inner mentor and started ‘playing big’.

While there were moments of excitement and joy, what was going on inside was unbearable. One day, at my most frustrated, I fled to the ocean and furiously stabbed the following words on my phone:

“She sat and watched the rhythmic waves foam and pucker as they rolled simultaneously upon the sand. While her mind felt the heaving ebb and flow of her own breath – she scanned the horizon and knew something must change. The rising and prickling emotional triggers, the restlessness, the tortured hours laying awake in silence, the constant desire to be ‘moving’ had gone on for too long. In that moment, she made a decision- it was time to look inward and upward.
And with her next inhalation she affirmed – ‘it is time,’ stood, turned her back on the comforting body of the ocean and walked on.”

At the time, I wasn’t really sure what I was doing or where it would go – but I was determined to create a platform for more women to use their voice to inspire, energize and encourage others to ‘take a risk’ and ‘back themselves.’

Two years later, and on the back of two sellout Women of Achievement Luncheons to over 100 women, a ripple effect was born. Locally, women began sharing how they were inspired to follow their dreams, ask the hard questions and embrace feminine traits of collaboration to instigate personal, professional and community change. Both luncheons indicated that there was a real need for women to come together to support one another in an intellectually honest way. I hadn’t planned on the overwhelming feedback and the thirst for more.

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And in all honesty, I was hooked, as my cup kept filling up, I had so much more to give others. I feel as though I have cracked a sustaining way to support other women. This is very much at the heart of how I came to commit to stretching myself even further, hosting the very first Women of Achievement Unconference in Palm Cove in 2015.

I want, more than ever, for women to experience real, genuine and tangible ways to support one another.

I want, more than ever, for women to experience real, genuine and tangible ways to support one another. I am excited about the possibilities, the collaborations and the connections yet to unfold.

From all the wonderful women in business you have met, what do you see is the number one challenge that is faced by women in business today?

As the Women of Achievement movement unfolded, I began to hear and see a recurring motif occurring in the lives of women. Those who were achieving success by their own definition and were achieving a sense of harmony across a gamut of work/life arenas were standing in their own authentic feminine power and had invested deeply in loving themselves up.

They had a grasp on the difference between time management and prioritizing time according to their big why and deepest desires. They were editing the shit out of their life (literally)! They were getting clear on their life values and creating a customized life vision. More than that, they were creating action plans to set about calling it into the everyday.

They were getting clear on their life values and creating a customized life vision. More than that, they were creating action plans to set about calling it into the everyday.

Across every arena, they were aligning. They were snapping out of the victim mentality and fixed mindset quickly because they had an arsenal of life design strategies to support this process. They gave a damn about this “woo woo” thing called spirituality and could acknowledge the difference between self-maintenance and self love rituals. They were actively and strategically challenging the achievement myth (obstacles holding them back from further elevation) and had time left over at the end of the day to champion and sponsor other women.

It’s not about balancing it all, it’s about finding harmony in the everyday – no matter what we are achieving.

In essence, the biggest challenge facing women in business today is rediscovering our humanness. For whatever reason it has declined for both genders, for leaders and business. At the cornerstone of Women of Achievement is showcasing the importance of leading with humanness in all life arenas.

What do you see as the “Achievement Myth” and how do you define it?

The last three years of the Women of Achievement movement has been a spectacular roller coaster ride, filled with top of the mountain and gut retching, breathless moments. Moments where my inner critic intermittently screams, ‘Who does she think she is?’ Despite them all, I have grown fiercely passionate about elevating women – all women!

And what I have come to know in the process is this: To fully elevate women, I too, must stand in my own power, share my voice and weather the difficult conversations. One of those difficult conversations is the Achievement Myth. In essence, the Achievement Myth is any obstacle holding men and women back from further elevation.

And what I have come to know in the process is this: To fully elevate women, I too, must stand in my own power, share my voice and weather the difficult conversations.

Acclaimed psychologist and vulnerability expert, Brene Brown said, “if we are to dare greatly, we must be in the arena”. I see the Achievement Myth building on that. In a lifetime we operate, flow, move, flip in and out of so many arenas. The danger is that we can get caught up in the chameleon effect – changing colour to fit in, or worse, moving towards someone else’s version of achievement. Overcoming the achievement myth is about celebrating standing out. It is about using our voice to say, F*** That! My humanness, my quirks, my thoughts, my style, my values are a part of me. Take me as I am stripped bare, and I will give you everything and then some more!

I won’t waste my time in the office, you will see my passion shine so brightly. I will not look at the clock. And in return you will help me acquire the magic elixir – becoming my authentic self.

My humanness, my quirks, my thoughts, my style, my values are a part of me. Take me as I am stripped bare, and I will give you everything and then some more!

To truly live we must be our authentic self in all arenas. But how do we do that? Listening to a bricolage of Women of Achievement stories is a great start. Examining how what we want to achieve aligns to our deepest values and life vision is another way forward. Taking time to celebrate our achievements, love ourselves up and share our voice with the world is crucial. So too is learning the strategies, tools and mechanisms to do so much more than just surviving.

Over the last four years, I have come to learn the achievement myth is built on years of conditioning at all levels: Societal, institutional, cultural, political, economic, and generational. More importantly, we must learn to break internal barriers holding us back from living a life we truly love.

It is everything that holds us back from further elevation. It holds us back from elevating others. So what are the obstacles holding us back?

  • Fear to play big and take risks
  • Refraining from celebrating and championing what we already are achieving
  • Having a fixed mindset
  • Our inner critic: I am not worthy, I am not smart enough, I am not qualified, I won’t be able to find harmony in my work/life arenas if I take this on
  • Failing to acknowledge our achievements
  • Failing to sponsor other women
  • Failing to stop and take time to listen to other women’s wisdom
  • Not sharing our story or our voice
  • Being the lone wolf instead of being a strong leader in the wolf pack, or the bee in the colony
  • Failing to collaborate with other women
  • Letting our ego rather than our spirit guide us
  • Our inability to connect and advocate for all women on all levels

Deep within the achievement myth is the dominant feminine ideology that ‘there is not enough time to take care of me’. I’m not talking about body maintenance like waxing and a haircut, I am talking about the daily rituals we do to love ourselves up, to fill our cup.

The underbelly of achievement for men and women is seeking without personally defining it, imperfectly carving it and joyously celebrating it.

For each and every tribe out there, there are 100 more men and women in another collective/tribe, elevating women. Challenging the Achievement Myth is saying, “I have no intention to compete – I see the big picture, the impact and the dividends paid through having each others’ backs, a collective wisdom challenging barriers of the achievement myth.

We can pool our collective energy, intellect, voices, and diversity for the common good, elevating women everywhere. We can challenge a life of mediocrity, drawing on our inner mentor rather than the inner critic.

What role do you see we women have had in creating the achievement myth for ourselves and what do you see we are doing to perpetuate it?

Men and women all have a role in creating the achievement myth. It is not something new! It has been lurking in every building, town, city, time, space culture, religion, industry for so long. So much so that it is ingrained in our unborn children’s mentality. And now more than ever, the world is starting to wake up.

Perpetuating the achievement myth is when we see or hear things like:

  • “I’m fine”, or “I’m OK”, when you’re not okay. And in the words of Brendon Burchard, “Should we not be amazing, excited, thrilled, fantastic, phenomenal, beyond grateful.
  • Falling silent
  • Being consumed in the busy
  • Sleeping and going numb
  • Hiding
  • Prioritizing swiping and scrolling

We all have a voice, but it is how we use it that counts!

How do you overcome the achievement myth in your own career/business?

I face my own internal barriers head on. I prioritise myself, my desires, I love myself up and celebrate the everyday. The question I ask myself is: Does the decision I am about to make fit with my life values, my why, and does it align with my deepest desires? It is also using my voice to challenge the conscious and sometimes unconscious perpetuation of the achievement myth.

What advice would you give to female leaders who find they are suffering from the achievement myth?

In a world of likes and polished surfaces it can be easy for some to fall prey to the “Oh, but she has it all, she has it easy” tone. And I want to be completely honest: I believe no one ever really falls into ‘it’ by luck. Or if they do, they will have a damn hard time trying to stay there.

I didn’t fall into it. It has not always been effortless. I have an arsenal of ‘life lessons’, as we all have. What I do know is this. When I started to get really deliberate about my life, setting intentions and calling in desires, implementing action plans (as I would in my professional life) and ruthlessly editing my life several times over the course of a year, things started to change.

When I started to get really deliberate about my life, setting intentions and calling in desires, implementing action plans (as I would in my professional life) and ruthlessly editing my life several times over the course of a year, things started to change.

In the process, I have stopped waiting for the right time, enough money, or the next level or qualification. I have stopped following what society dictates I should do. I have only been able to do this when I deliberately set aside time to listen to my own whispers and created a kick-ass action plan to call it in!

Get deliberate about your life!

Start defining what achievement looks like to you. Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. How do I define achievement?
  2. Whose version of achievement does my definition align to?
  3. Growing up what was I taught about achievement?
  4. Who were and are my achievement crushes?
  5. Will achieving X give me the feeling I so deeply crave?


  • Start investing in yourself
  • Plan for moments of solitude to explore it – silent staycations!
  • Share your voice, and encourage other women to share theirs too
  • Start asking women around you how they define achievement, and start asking what the biggest barrier is to fulfilling desired achievements
  • Continue and start the conversation in your work place, in your home, with your children, with complete strangers! Ask how people define achievement, how they feel about the word, what holds people back from it
  • Ask yourself what you are fiercely passionate about
  • Continue to crack open the myth, perceptions, and celebrate diversities
  • Stop, slow down and disconnect yourself from the busy. Start really paying attention. The problem is, it usually takes a catastrophic event before women hear their passion roar. Until then it can be the dull ache in your heart, the frustration that bubbles over with the smallest things, the lack of empathy and gratitude, operating from a consistent ego state. The achievement myth can be so mentally, physically, intellectually and spiritually exhausting we don’t notice the warning signs. We think we don’t do that shit. We think we can do it all. We think we can master the chameleon effect. We think can take on more masculine traits. In the end, we isolate ourselves
  • Today, if you do nothing else, simply spend time asking yourself the following questions. Am I proud of the person I am becoming? How do I want to feel? What do I want to achieve? What have I already achieved?
  • Go out and connect with someone who is already smashing through the achievement myth. Join the Women of Achievement community and speak up about how you feel.
  • Share your voice! You may just elevate another woman and in the process elevate yourself!

My top three quotes are:

Should we wish to be free and alive with full power, we must decide to bring the full might of our conscious mind to the present experience. We must choose to feel again. We must sense this life.” – Brendon Burchard

The new female is not limited in any way. She yearns to give the gifts she was born to give, and she does what is necessary to give them. Where her heart leads, she goes. No one defines her role for her. She is on a spiritual journey. Authentic power is her destination.” – Gary Zukav

No one else is going to build the life you want for you. No one else will even be able to completely understand it. The most amazing souls will show up to cheer you along the way, but this is your game. Make a pact to be in it with yourself for the long haul, as your own supportive friend at every step along the way.” – Tara Mohr

Who are the top 3 women leaders you are most inspired by and why?

Brene Brown – for sharing her voice on an international stage. Her work on vulnerability is redefining leadership in the most positive way. Her books Daring Greatly and Rising Strong are life-changing books. But most inspiring is her quote on connection: “Connection is the energy that is created between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment.”

Lisa Messenger – Editor in Chief and creative mind behind The Collective Hub for her tenacity, transparency and disruption. From the very first edition of the Renegade Collective – I new this was a woman who was challenging every sharp corner of the achievement myth. I have a soft spot for ‘a little punk with a big dream’.

Meridah Hunter – 16 year old Cairns school girl, 2015 recipient of the Youth Culture and Diversity Award and founder of the Biddigal Dance Troupe. Meridah was a special guest at the Women of Achievement UnConference last year and every time I think of her and her story, I light up. When Meridah was 12 years old, she saw an opportunity to tell her Nan’s story (a child of the stolen generation) through dance, and set about raising awareness for cultural diversity. Meridah is living proof that age is no barrier to play big for social change.

What is the best part of what you do and why?

I feel so blessed to do what I do. Seeing the ripple effect of elevation – the stories, seeds and ideas activating connection – brings me so much joy. I love seeing other women (and men) challenge their own internal barriers. It is hard evidence of what happens when we share our voice! We elevate others and in the process gain so much.

What books are you currently reading and why?

The Motivation Manifesto” by Brendon Burchard. Brendon outlines 9 declarations for sustaining motivation and claiming personal power.

Mindfulness & Money” by Lisa Messenger. I am reading this phenomenal book for the second time round. This time I read it during one of my self imposed Silent Staycations – and the messages and clarity was insane. It had me reflecting on my big why and whether the steps I have been taking are moving me closer to it.

Spiritual Partnerships” by Gary Zukav. Gary explores the inextricable differences between 5 sensory perspective and multi-sensory perspective and how focusing on the interior can generate full potential and authentic power. I am fascinated by his explanation of our fears and attention to intention when we are growing spiritually.

Finally what plans do you have for 2016 and Women of Achievement with Kylie Bartlett?

I am one multi-passionate woman. I co-own a family business and created the Women of Achievement movement. A movement designed to celebrate what women are already achieving, elevate those who want to chase down their dreams and inspire ‘what could be’. I achieve this through workshops, intensives and events including the Women of Achievement UnConference.

My Phenomenal Plans For 2016… I’m kicking off the year with a two day intensive at the end of Jan, March, and April. I’m also spearheading MindSHARE 2016, a collaboration between local groups embracing the strength of women for QLD Women’s Week. The annual Women of Achievement Luncheon is booked for October, and in the last week of October I am hosting a Women of Achievement Retreat at Mission Beach.

2016 will be another spectacular year of unearthing phenomenal women of achievement stories! Plus, lots of strategic planning for the Women of Achievement UnConference 2017 on Magnetic Island, a Wild West Road Trip, awesome collaborations, creating a few more e-books and delving deep in some research on the Achievement Myth, not to mention a few other little projects I have on the side.

My priorities this month include setting up a website for Women of Achievement (it’s been far too long getting there) and sending out invites for goddess party. I really want to do this soon!

But above all that, I am loading up on lots of daycations and silent retreats to nurture my soul. I have sent my husband off for the weekend and my gorgeous in-laws are having my peeps for a sleepover staring tomorrow. So I’m having a mini silent retreat in my own home. No devices, no TV, no talking. Wish me luck!