Getting To Know: Iris Rankin of Project Intention

MaggieGentry interviews Iris Rankin of Project Intention where she provides intuitive coaching for women to show up unapologetically as themselves in all of their true wildish nature.

It's women like Iris who make me incredibly grateful to be exactly where I am right now. We connected this summer for the first time, and from our very first conversation we had such an honest and real connection. I am grateful for the space that we can hold for one another, and I feel fortunate to learn from her example of how be unapologetically me and to stand up for what I believe and know to be true.

When you're starting your own business, and you hold steady to a firm belief that there are other people out there who have the same values and believe in growing in a slow & intentional way, it can feel really isolating and confusing when you consume so much from others who are doing the exact opposite. Connecting with Iris has given me the strength and validation to know that we can all grow and be in this world, exactly as we are. Each time we talk, I feel one step closer to feeling more assured and comfortable on my path and in my own skin.

She lives in beautiful Breckenridge, Colorado, and if you need a healthy dose of the wild outdoors, you must follow her on Insta now where she shares view of her regular hikes (and gorgeous scenes like this one above!). Iris really is a magical human, and if I have felt such a shift in myself from simply our friendly chats, I cannot image the changes that could be accomplished from working with her as a coach.

Ready to be inspired? Keep reading. You may want to bookmark this one for whenever you need a pick-me-up. It's that good.


Let’s dive right in! Tell us about your background and how you landed here with Project Intention, which is all about intuitive coaching for women.

The foundation of my coaching background goes all the way back to the small high school I attended, which hugely emphasized the outdoors. Backpacking, hiking, backcountry skiing, running, kayaking and climbing were all built into my education and contributed hugely to my own growth and empowerment. I learned that I was stronger and more capable than I thought, which underscored the importance of wildness, in both literal and figurative ways. It was also the beginning of my own voice finding, and so wildness and expression are inextricably linked for me.

Even though those years were hugely influential, I didn’t have a clear handle on how I would use wildness and expression until I completed a yoga teacher training last year that had a focus on women’s yoga. It was the kind of community with women I didn’t know I was craving. An unknown and unmet need was suddenly filled that showed me how much benefit comes from holding space for each in other in all of our beauty and messiness. The training brought me back into my body and taught me about honoring my own needs regardless of what everyone else around me is doing.

After I got certified, teaching yoga in a studio didn’t feel like quite the right fit, but I knew without a doubt that I wanted to work with women. Project Intention had already started with building online courses for women toward the end of 2015, but over time I really craved one-on-one connection. Coaching naturally evolved out of that and has that combination of the personal and the wild that I was looking for. Coaching allows me to show up fully present for women and get to be a part of their own expression and voice finding.

What aspect of your work is the most life-giving for you?

As a coach, I’m here to go where the conversation needs and not lead us to a set destination—but when a client has a breakthrough on the call, it is incredible. It is my deepest privilege to witness women as they give themselves permission to show up exactly as they need without apology. When they honor their unacknowledged, but radically important natural expression, it makes my heart sing. There’s no way to really be in the presence of such raw vulnerability and change than in awe.

It’s also life-giving when I know I’m showing up in highest service to my client. When I first started coaching, I was terrified to push back, but now the use of “fierce love” on behalf of the woman I am connecting with has led to some of the most powerful shifts. Coaching is hugely humbling, and I’m constantly learning how I can show up more fully in my own life as a model for big, positive change, while still taking big steps backward in my coaching to make room for other women to do the same.

Was there ever a time when you happily ignored external validation or outside advice about your business so that you could follow the True North that you created for yourself? If so, how did making that choice to follow Your Why impact not only you, but your business?

If you’re the type of entrepreneur who is always churning out products, services, Facebook ads and professional videos on your Instagram stories, and it’s serving you, that’s wonderful. But if you’re feeling pressured to do everything because all of Pinterest says so, and you’re constantly feeling inadequate—this is your permission to stop. To me, it can all be too overwhelming sometimes, and I’ve spoken to plenty of other women who find the inundation of “must haves” too much to process.

Instead of producing a large volume of content, I’m generally more interested in acting in alignment. If I’m in a constant state of production, I have a hard time listening in. But if I’m thoughtful about what I need now and disregard the rest, I feel calm and capable of building the next stages of my business. Alignment in my business is usually (though not always) slower paced and determined by my intuition. It means I am—in all seriousness—writing this while gently rocking in a hammock.

Finding other women who are building businesses in this slower, more intentional way helps remind me that I’m in this for the long haul. It reminds me that I’m here to flip the script on what we “should” be doing for our businesses, and to show that it’s possible to create at your own pace according to what you actually need rather than what everyone else tells you should have.

Our friendship is another Instagram success story. I felt so connected to you through your meaningful posts and genuine comments, and soon enough, we had a Skype date on the calendar, and we instantly hit it off! How do you navigate finding those true, meaningful connections in a world with limited attention spans and chronic shiny object syndrome?

I think setting up boss dates is actually the antidote to limited attention spans. Instead of scrolling mindlessly, it means there’s always an abundance of friendly faces and comments in my feed that I really want to stop and pay attention to. I count connection as an essential component of my business building, and I treat it that way in my calendar. The fastest way I can run myself into the ground is if I self-isolate, and the surest way I can feel on track is if I’m regularly connecting with other business owners who get it, who I can lean on for support and even collaborate with.

It’s as simple as reaching out to peripheral friends on Instagram (you know, the ones you’re lightly stalking) and asking if they’re interested in a Skype date. Not every initial video chat is a wild success like ours was, but many have been. It’s the surest way to find your people when you work at home and alone. I’ve found some really treasured friends and allies this way. I think in-person magic is even better, and I eventually want to go to and host retreats and conferences so I have an excuse hug these virtual friends IRL.

What does a typical day look like for you? And do you have any routines/rituals that allow you to be your most successful self?

I’ve only been 100% self-employed since April, so a typical day is still in flux for me. Even though it’s tempting in the earliest parts of your business to “skip ahead” to when you’re wildly busy, I’ve relished the slow unfolding of my time and getting to decide day-by-day what works best.

My days shift based on the season of work I’m in, but a few rituals are always consistent: 10 minutes of meditation first thing (I keep it simple and use the Headspace app), and then I curl up on the couch with my partner and our dog with coffee in hand and spend a few minutes writing in my BestSelf Co planner about what I’m grateful for, my overarching goal for current weeks and planning what I feel like that day or anticipate what I’ll need to make time to do. Most weekdays, I also break up the morning with a workout. If I miss any of these components, I usually feel a little “off.”

I currently coach 2-3 days a week, and since I don’t have a completely booked schedule, I weave whatever else is important throughout the day. I also own a personal assisting and VA business, so I alternate between building my coaching practice and taking care of the needs of my other clients. I’m starting to shift gears into a higher volume season of my work, but in general I make an effort to build in a lot of white space and work on whatever I’m called to (even if that’s cooking in the middle of the afternoon instead of hammering out emails). The mark of success (at least from where I’m standing) is to have the ability and flexibility to pivot in whatever direction you choose. It’s a reminder to me that I already am successful, and that there are a lot of high-earning folks who are so boxed into their schedules they don’t have room to be wild or in touch with who they really are.

Photo credit:  Sierra Voss Photography

Your work with Project Intention is all about connecting women back to their wild nature; you call this process rewilding. Can you share more about what this means, and why you feel so strongly that this is an important pursuit for all women?

In my experience, humans often forget that we are, in fact, animals. We have natural instincts and knowledge in our bodies that can inform how we show up in the world. When I talk about rewilding, I mean it in both a literal and figurative sense. I mean getting outside, into our bodies and out of our heads. It’s like a remembering. When we clear away excess noise, as nature does and as coaching does, we really get in touch with what is simply “ours.” Talking about our needs is hugely important, but in some ways it only scratches the surface. I often use embodiment and visualizations in my coaching, mostly because the sensations get deeper and faster into to the core of what is true for you and what you really want.

I think rewilding is important for all humans, but for women especially. We’re generally taught that the hyper-masculine, cognitive space is the only way, and it’s often counter to our basic instincts. Nature doesn’t care what you think. Nature and wildness just “is.” When we get out of our heads and into our bodies, it becomes clear that our range for how we want to show up is so much more than just linear thought patterns. Drive and action are important, thinking is important, but it’s the realization that you have all of these heart- and body-centered modes of approaching the world too.

You’re in process of getting certified with the International Coaching Federation and also becoming a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach. Can you share a little bit more about what that means exactly and how it impacts your coaching style? Oh, and what would you say is your coaching superpower?

Coaching is an unregulated industry, which has the upside of a lot of creative license in how you show up for your clients. It also has the downside that if you’re not regularly and rigorously growing in your coaching, you may not be showing up as effectively for your clients as they need you to. As a client, I’ve had great coaching from self-taught coaches, but what I’ve found while working with trained coaches is that their toolbox is larger and allows for more dynamic range in each session. The more range a coach has, the greater transformation they can evoke in each session. I’m a learner by nature, and I wanted to bring the highest standards of coaching to each of my sessions, so getting trained and certified felt like my natural step—even though most people won’t even ask me for my credentials.

I’ve already completed a training program that emphasizes practical application, and the certification process I’m currently going through with the Coaches Training Institute is a thorough assessment of how I show up as a coach and what I still have left to learn. Sessions are recorded and our areas of growth are critiqued, each of us coach our peers and observe other coaches, and we discuss coaching theory and models. If you’re self-taught, there’s only so much you can do on your own; you don’t have the benefit of consistent feedback and immersive application.

My coaching superpowers are intuition and embodiment, which I see as going hand in hand. When I am showing up as my best self in my coaching, it’s the setting aside of myself and staying open to the flow of the conversation and process. It’s creating a visual and sensory container for the women I’m working with to fully experience, rather than just intellectualize her situation.

Many people don’t fully understand the difference between therapy and coaching. Can you share a little bit of your perspective as to why they are fundamentally different, and how someone may benefit from one over the other, or even from both?

The magic of coaching is that the coach sets aside a whole hour or more to focus entirely on one woman and her needs. This is the magic of therapy too. It’s rare to get that sort of undivided attention. But depending on the modality, how you spend the bulk of that time differs. In most forms of therapy, the support is based on the exploration of your past personal history, whereas most coaching explores the current moment and what you want to build for the future.

Depending on the relationship between therapist and client, the therapist often holds a position of authority. In coaching, the client is the expert of their own experience and the coach holds space for the client’s knowing to unfold.

Therapy can be especially helpful to bring you from a dysfunctional place to a functional baseline, and the purpose of coaching is to take you from that functional baseline to a high-performance level. If you have past trauma or need structure for healing, therapy can be an amazingly helpful path. If you’re looking for accountability and support to have focused, exponential growth you may not create as quickly on your own, then coaching is the right choice. Because each option has a different approach, they can be complementary. If you feel like you would benefit from both, coaching can pick up where therapy leaves off, or therapy and coaching can work alongside one another simultaneously.

How do you define self care? And what is your best piece of advice for someone who is starting to discover what their own self care practice might entail?

I define self care as intentional rituals that elevate us from a place of merely existing in our lives to feeling a sense of contentment and purpose. That sounds lofty, but I just mean the acts that take us from the status quo to the next level. Each day, I try to get in an activity in each of these four categories: body, mind, connection and spirit. These areas are aspirational guidelines rather than strict rules. I don’t always get in all four, and I can go as bare minimum or as all out as I want on a given day.

What I can’t emphasize enough about self care is: keep it simple and keep it flexible.  If your self care routine feels rigid or like a burden, then you’re not really caring for yourself. Whether you’re just beginning to cultivate your own self care practices or well-versed in a routine, the simplest and most powerful question boils down to, “What do I need right now?” Over time you come to recognize what practices are essential when you feel like you can barely make time for anything and which ones are nice-to-have but okay to let go of when circumstances don’t allow for them.

Is there a commonality amongst your clients with their struggles, worries, and fears? If so, what is your recommendation to help combat those universal challenges?

Most women I coach are looking to find or magnify their creative voice and power. They want to feel like they’re actively choosing what’s right for them and confident in those choices. And on the flipside, the common struggle is not being sure of themselves and their capabilities. It’s the ego-based fear that we are not good enough and that our work won’t be on the level of excellence we need to get what we want.

What’s most powerful is often explicitly naming this inner critic and visually personifying it. When left unchecked, fears have the tendency to engulf everything else in front of us as this undefined and ever-reaching mass. But when we identify our inner critic as something more concrete, it helps us see the limits to our worries and new ways to step past them in the moment.

Once we’ve given a name to the fears and determined their purpose, it’s easier to directly tap into the parts of us that are creative, resourceful and whole, who we really are at our core beyond fear and obligation. In and out of coaching conversations, getting in touch with your core has a lot to do with getting out of the head and into the body. It’s going outside or feeling into.

I’m a firm believer that we teach what we need to learn, so I’m well-acquainted with the fears of “not enough” and the fastest ways to move past them both personally and professionally. My number one tip if you’re feeling this overwhelming sense of inadequacy is to spend some extended time in nature as soon as possible. A walk at the very least, or sitting under a tree in a park, but a hike is even better. I would also suggest talking to someone about it, whether a coach or a trusted friend. Shame can’t survive sharing, and a listening ear or hearing “Me too” can make an immediate difference. Lastly, some sort of mindfulness practice can help separate your thought loops of worry from your actual sense of self. It gives you a buffer so you can respond thoughtfully instead of react automatically.

BONUS: Please feel free to share anything else that is coming to the surface or that you’d like to share. It can be something fun, silly, informative. If the rest of these questions got the juices flowing, but you feel like you have something else to say - here’s the space to do it.  :)  

If you feel lonely or lost in your business, connecting with other boss ladies is the surest and easiest way to move toward direction and a sense of community. My overall well being is much better with these women on my side, but the biggest thing I didn’t expect about making connections was that even just our casual conversations would make huge impacts on the success of my business.

Likewise, if you feel like you’re not getting enough clarity, direction and actionable insights into your business or personal life, hire a coach. It doesn’t have to be me, of course, but finding someone you click with who holds space for you and helps propel you forward is huge in terms of contentment and growth. Now that I’ve coached and had my own coaches, it’s the number one investment I’ll always make for my business because I’ve seen the enormous positive impacts firsthand.

Photo credit:  Sierra Voss Photography

Want to know more? Eager to connect with Iris? Here's how:

Want to work with Iris?

I work with women who are looking to give themselves permission to be unapologetic about their needs and make their well being non-negotiable. I see work and life as the full blend of who you are (especially for heart-centered entrepreneurs), so my coaching doesn’t just focus on one or the other. We’ll look at you as a whole person and determine together how you want to best live in integrity and alignment with your personal wants and your business needs. If that feels like what you’re craving, head over to my site to learn more and send me a message.

Gauge our chemistry: apply for a complimentary 90-minute Wild Discovery session.

Dive right into coaching: email me and make sure to mention the promo code below. I’ll send you a special discounted link to book.

Just hang out: hit me up on Instagram and we’ll set up a Skype date.

Fun little extra:

Reach out to me and mention the code MAGGIEISMYHOMEGIRL to get $40 off every session in a six coaching month package (Um, yep, that’s $480 of savings). I won’t do this promo anywhere else, mostly because Maggie is amazing and by proxy I assume all of her readers are too.