Sheila Ohlsson Walker, Ph.D., who graduated from the Hoffman Process in 2019, shares her sense of what purpose is and how we can come to know it.
Content warning: this episode does contain references to child sexual abuse and may not be suitable for all audiences.
Sheila shares how purpose can change over time, meaning we can have many purposes in our lifetime. In this warm and uplifting conversation, Sheila gives tangible examples of what she means by this definition by sharing her own personal and professional life story with all of the twists and turns that a human lifetime contains.
It is clear that Sheila is passionate about guiding children through the power of sports to find their YODA code (Your Own Decision Advisor) so they can grow into adulthood and live their lives with this ‘personal GPS.’ When we have our own YODA code, we can find our way back home when we get off track in life, something that happened to Sheila at a young age. In response to this event, through her own resilience and the help of caring adults, she found her way.
Sheila lives a purposeful life of service, learning, and joy. Accordingly, her work is focused on parents, sports coaches, teachers, and other adults who impact youth during powerful developmental chapters when lifelong habits are most seamlessly embedded. Relatedly, she seeks to empower young people with mindsets, knowledge, and skills that support them in building self-narratives that catalyze holistic flourishing across life.
A competitive tennis player since childhood, Sheila Ohlsson Walker, CFA, Ph.D. knows first-hand the power of sport to embed life skills and mindsets that transfer into careers, relationships, and wellness habits that foster health and well-being across life. She knows that adults, through the relationships they form, can activate passion, possibility, and a sense of purpose in young people.
Dr. Walker received a B.S. in Finance at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and after a career as a portfolio manager for a buy-side investment firm in Denver, she pivoted to academia. She earned a doctorate in Behavioral Genetics from the Social, Genetic, and Developmental Psychiatry Centre at Kings College London, where she learned that the headline of biosocial science was clear: nurture (the environment) shapes nature (DNA) across life.
Dr. Walker is a Senior Scientist at the Institute for Applied Research in Youth Development at Tufts University, a Visiting Assistant Professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Education, and an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences. She serves on the boards of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Foundation and the Youth Performance Institute, is a trustee of the Kent Denver School, and is a member of the United States Tennis Association’s Sport Science Committee. Sheila lives in Denver. Her greatest pride and joy is being a mother to her three sons, Jack, Charlie, and Wyatt.
Joan Borysenko Ph.D., Chair of Hoffman’s Advisory Council
The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel Van Der Kolk MD
“Don’t worry that your child isn’t listening to you; worry that they are always watching you.” Robert Fulghum
PsyD Program, University of Colorado at Denver
Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)
Protective and Compensatory Experiences (PACEs)
Wise Decisions: A Science-Based Approach to Making Better Choices by Dr. Jim Loehr and Dr. Sheila Ohlsson Walker