With a last name like Sharp, you can either downplay it or make it a hallmark of your business. Susan Sharp has embraced her name and her mission of helping others. Sharp owns A Sharp Difference: Speaking & Training With A Point, a small firm dedicated to helping businesses and individuals get unstuck. For organizations, being stuck may look like friction between team members, being unable to manage change, or not utilizing your staff’s full potential. For individuals, it may be about burnout, a need for better interpersonal skills, or managing a mid-life crisis. Sharp delivers workshops, coaching, and training to combat such scenarios.
Since The World Health Organization declared burnout a medical condition in May of 2019, Sharp’s most sought-after training is on this topic. This subject is personal for Sharp who left her work as a theatre professor and wrote a book on mid-life within weeks of WHO’s acknowledgment of burnout. Only five years from retirement, she didn’t have five more years to give to that work. “I was beyond burnt out, I was extra crispy by then,” says Sharp.
The reclassification of burnout as a medical condition validates millions of worker’s experiences. It’s something that you can’t quickly get over with a day off or a vacation. Sharp’s recovery time is what she now calls her mid-life gap year. “Why should a gap year be reserved for the young– mid-lifers need a year off even more.” She now looks to a day where she can partner with mindful organizations to fund a mid-life gap year for others. The goal would be to provide a monthly stipend so worthy recipients could rest, and explore a passion that could become a new vocation. “It would be my honor to be able to do that for others,” said Sharp.
Even before Sharp left higher education she was already doing the things she loved—creating handmade products for her Etsy shops, speaking about the power of creativity, writing books, and selling her art online. Now, a few best-sellers later and her art getting recognition after it appeared on Season 7 of Orange Is the New Black, she has momentum. Her book, Mid-life Wisdom: A Self-Discovery Journal to Help You Survive and Thrive in Your Mid-Life, has struck a chord with women especially, those who may practice self-care only at a breaking point.
Life on the other side of burnout is hopeful for Sharp. “What I am privileged to do now in my work is to connect all the things I love—from helping Etsy sellers make more sales to organizations who want more unity in their leadership staff.” In a time where everyone wants to niche, Sharp realized that her gift is in being multi-talented and helping a wide variety of people with solutions that really do make a sharp difference.