Dr. Sara Al Madani: 8 Insights on How to Live on Your Terms

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Irina Yugay
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Do you find yourself fettered by societal expectations or feeling incapacitated as a single parent or female entrepreneur? If you do, consider this: Dr. Sara Al Madani is a single mom, entrepreneur, and TV personality who has maintained her compassionate spirit and demonstrated that circumstances do not dictate our destiny.

On an episode of The Mindvalley Show with Vishen, she shares insights on how she unapologetically lives her life on her terms and how you, too, can do the same.

Watch the full 47-minute interview:

Ep #002 | Meet Dr. Sara Al Madani: From Abusive Relationships to Winning Over 140 Awards

Who’s Dr. Sara Al Madani?

Born and raised in the vibrant culture of the United Arab Emirates, Dr. Sara Al Madani is a female force in the entrepreneurial sphere. Since she started her first business at the age of fifteen, she has established multiple thriving enterprises and received over 140 accolades for her entrepreneurial and leadership skills.

On top of that, as the youngest board member of the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, her trailblazing journey shatters glass ceilings and redefines the standards of success. Yet, amidst these professional triumphs, her role as a single mother stands out as her most cherished accomplishment.

Learn more: Business Ideas for Women: 3 Tips to Turn Your Passion into Profit

8 Powerful Life Lessons From Dr. Sara Al Madani

Dr. Al Madani’s story transcends her professional milestones. It is her resolute spirit and audacious defiance of societal constraints that truly set her apart. An inspiration to women worldwide, she advocates personal evolution and self-healing. 

Her powerful life lessons invite every woman to create a life that isn’t merely about existing but truly living—for themselves, their children, and the community at large. 

1. Choosing dreams over education

When you do your hard work, eventually it will be noticed.

— Dr. Sara Al Madani, Emirati entrepreneur and star of Real Housewives of Dubai

Sara dropped out of school at the age of fifteen because she realized that the education system did not teach you how to believe in your dreams, overcome fears, or deal with failure. And she isn’t alone. According to this study, the traditional education system promotes burnout due to a lack of an adequate support system. 

Furthermore, a surprising majority of the most successful people didn’t tread the conventional academic path. Here are a few prominent entrepreneurs who chose to follow their dreams:

  1. Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft
  2. Steve Jobs, the late co-founder of Apple Inc. 
  3. Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook
  4. Larry Ellison, co-founder of Oracle Corporation
  5. Michael Dell, founder of Dell Technologies
  6. Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group

So Sara’s choice reinforces the notion that success isn’t synonymous with formal education and that nurturing your dreams can lead to unprecedented heights. Today, she is the winner of multiple entrepreneurship awards for leadership, best financial strategy, and women’s empowerment.

You, too, can start seeing life as the best university for personal growth and self-discovery. 

2. Breaking free from gender stereotypes in business

I’m happier because I am living, not existing.

— Dr. Sara Al Madani, Emirati entrepreneur and star of Real Housewives of Dubai

After spending twenty years in the fashion industry, Sara felt cornered by gender expectations. Instead of staying in a job that didn’t make her happy, she pursued her passions and now runs nine companies. Her mantra is “Don’t love your job, job your love.” In doing so, she transitioned from merely existing to truly living. 

Gender stereotypes are deeply ingrained societal beliefs and expectations about roles, behaviors, and attributes that are considered appropriate for men and women. These stereotypes can significantly impact women’s professional and personal lives. Here are some common gender stereotypes and their impacts:

1. Women as caregivers

Women are often expected to prioritize family over their professional goals. This stereotype can limit their career advancement opportunities and contribute to the gender wage gap. 

In reality, today women in the U.S. earn 82 cents for every dollar earned by men, which hasn’t changed in two decades, according to the latest Pew Research Center analysis. For women of color, this gap is even more significant.

2. Women lack leadership skills

A pervasive stereotype is that women lack the assertiveness and strategic thinking necessary for leadership roles. However, research has shown that female leaders have higher intelligence and capacity for innovation, which is not reflected in Fortune 500 CEOs.

3. Women are emotional

The stereotype that women are overly emotional can undermine their authority and credibility in the workplace. It can lead to their ideas being dismissed and their qualifications being overlooked. This can’t be further from the truth because women are better leaders in a crisis, according to a Harvard study. Because their high emotional intelligence allows them to make better relational decisions.  

4. Women should look a certain way

Women frequently find themselves subjected to evaluation based more on their aesthetic appeal than their talents or credentials. The superficial judgment that women often face is not only a barrier to their professional advancement but also a significant threat to their mental and physical health.

So if you are a woman, this undue emphasis on appearance can erode your self-esteem, potentially fostering harmful behaviors such as eating disorders. What’s more, it can cultivate a toxic culture in the workplace.

3. Creating your own motherhood rules

It’s not about quantity but about the quality of time you spend with your kid.

— Dr. Sara Al Madani, Emirati entrepreneur and star of Real Housewives of Dubai

Motherhood, much like other facets of womanhood, is frequently framed within a matrix of societal expectations and gender norms. These norms often assert how a mother should behave, the quantum of time she should devote to her offspring, or the role she should assume. However, it is vital to remember that these are not mandates but merely stereotypes, and they should not constrain your journey into motherhood.

Crucially, the advent of motherhood does not signal the end of your personal aspirations or individual growth. On the contrary, it signifies a new epoch in your life that can be richly inspiring and transformative, prompting you to envision and actualize the life you wish for you and your child. As per Sara’s living example, your life doesn’t end when you have a child; it’s the beginning of it because it will inspire you to create the life you want for yourself and your children.

“Motherhood is something you decide, not society or other people, and nobody should shame you for your ways,” says Sara. “So you should unlearn what you’ve learned and discover who you are.”

And if you don’t break free from the societal pressures around motherhood or “perfect” parent expectations, you will put yourself at risk of developing postpartum depression, anxiety, and stress, which are so common among new mothers.

Remember that the path each mother walks is unique, and the choices you make along the way should be respected and supported. And this is what you are invited to assert in the first place.

4. Letting go of micromanagement

By micromanaging your team, you aren’t allowing them to be creative and fulfill their full potential. I give a vision, and the team takes care of everything.

— Dr. Sara Al Madani, Emirati entrepreneur and star of Real Housewives of Dubai

Micromanagement, often rooted in a desire for control and perfection, can have severe, unwanted consequences. Managers who micromanage often feel that they must control all aspects of their team’s work to ensure success. But the effect is the opposite: it kills creativity, hinders employee growth, and creates a toxic professional culture.

Health complications associated with micromanagement can be significant as well, leading to high levels of workplace stress. And stress, in turn, can lead to all sorts of health issues, affecting your body and mind.

So it’s paramount to allow your team to be creative and fulfill their potential. “By giving them the freedom to execute my vision, I avoid micromanagement and foster a supportive work environment,” she adds.

5. Breaking societal expectations and embracing authenticity

Culture is like a box of chocolate: you don’t have to like every flavor. You can pick what you like and leave the rest in the box.

— Dr. Sara Al Madani, Emirati entrepreneur and star of Real Housewives of Dubai

Much like selecting your preferred flavors and disregarding the rest, you can choose to adopt those facets of culture that harmonize with your identity and consciously discard the ones that do not. This approach enables you to unmask your authentic self and carve out a life that is intrinsically yours.

According to psychologists, societal expectations often impose perceived limitations on individuals, stopping them from pursuing their unique dreams and aspirations. These constraints prevent personal growth and self-exploration.

Authenticity, on the other hand, is an antidote to poisonous aspects of societal norms. It has been proven that living authentically is associated with higher self-esteem, better performance, greater life satisfaction, and improved mental health.

Embracing Sara’s philosophy, she asserts, “You are a soul having a human experience, so you aren’t here to match anyone’s expectations.” The essence of this statement is a powerful reminder to transcend societal confines, seek authenticity, and shape a life that reflects your true essence.

In the same way, you can embrace the aspects of culture that resonate with you and unlearn whatever doesn’t. This way, you can discover your true self and create a life that’s uniquely yours. 

Learn more: 10 Great Podcasts for Women Worth Tuning Into

6. Prioritizing mental health

Your brain is like tofu—whatever you marinate it with, it becomes.

— Dr. Sara Al Madani, Emirati entrepreneur and star of Real Housewives of Dubai

Mental health should be your top priority if you aspire to live a long, high-quality life and enjoy long-lasting relationships. According to Oxford University psychiatrists, mental issues reduce your life expectancy by 20 years.  

And if you are a female leader, your mental well-being is essential, as it can lead to increased productivity. 

By dedicating time to meditation, hypnotherapy, and self-care, you will be able to cultivate a healthier mindset to be a better entrepreneur, leader, and mother.

7. Embrace radical responsibility

If you don’t stand up for yourself, it’s self-betrayal.

— Dr. Sara Al Madani, Emirati entrepreneur and star of Real Housewives of Dubai

Scientists have found that individuals who take responsibility for their actions exhibit greater resilience and adaptability. Moreover, focusing on yourself offers therapeutic benefits. Studies show that self-reflection and insight lead to higher levels of life satisfaction and mental well-being.

So no matter what you’ve gone through because of others, you should focus on where you went wrong. Then you will see clearly what you should work on and how to heal it. As soon as you take responsibility for your part, the rest will be easy.

Sara has endured two marriages marked by domestic abuse. Nonetheless, she refused to let her past experiences make her bitter. Instead, she chose to become better, kinder, and more loving. “My past relationships didn’t sharpen my edges but softened them,” she adds.

This is what radical responsibility means: by healing and growing, you own your past to create the life you want.

8. Leaving a lasting impact

You are immortal when you impact people’s lives.

— Dr. Sara Al Madani, Emirati entrepreneur and star of Real Housewives of Dubai

As Neale Donald Walsch, a modern-day spiritual messenger and trainer of Mindvalley’s Awaken The Species Quest, famously put it in this conversation, “Your life isn’t about you. Your life is about everyone else whose life you touch.”

You see, we are wired to serve others, and studies have shown that it’s good to be good: acts of kindness towards others make you happier and more fulfilled in your life. 

So whatever you commit to, give it your 100%. That’s how you become unforgettable because people will remember you for how you made them feel.

She says, “We are farmers, harvesting seeds in everyone’s hearts, hoping a tree will grow one day.” So as long as you do something good for others every day, you become immortal.

Take the Next Step

“As a lightworker, I am here to be a beacon of light,” says Sara. “And what makes people icons is what they do for themselves and for others.”

You, too, can take a cue from Sara and find ways to shine your light and impact other people’s lives in ways that will never be forgotten. And Mindvalley can help you do that.

The Mindvalley Show hosts incredible guests from all around the world who are doing what they can to leave a positive impact on the world. But that’s only one aspect of the personal growth platform.

When you claim your free access, you’ll open the door to a vast array of transformation quests, from discovering your authenticity to finding your life’s mission to building your business.

Additionally, you’ll find:

  • Guided meditations help you release any mental blockages and tension on your journey to self-actualization.
  • A community of people to connect with and share your challenges and your accomplishments along the way.

“The moment you impact others in a positive way, you become immortal,” according to Sara, and you, too, can become immortal.

Welcome in.

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Irina Yugay

Irina Yugay

As a former self-development and self-transcendence writer at Mindvalley, Irina uses words to transpire empowering ideas, transcendental feelings, and omniversal values. She's also an ascension coach who helps her clients grow their spiritual awareness and actualize their true nature. With a deep empirical understanding of the spiritual journey, Irina shares her insights and experiences with the readers to inspire them to transcend their limiting beliefs and achieve higher states of consciousness.
Written by

Irina Yugay

As a former self-development and self-transcendence writer at Mindvalley, Irina uses words to transpire empowering ideas, transcendental feelings, and omniversal values. She's also an ascension coach who helps her clients grow their spiritual awareness and actualize their true nature. With a deep empirical understanding of the spiritual journey, Irina shares her insights and experiences with the readers to inspire them to transcend their limiting beliefs and achieve higher states of consciousness.
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Mindvalley is committed to providing reliable and trustworthy content. 

We rely heavily on evidence-based sources, including peer-reviewed studies and insights from recognized experts in various personal growth fields. Our goal is to keep the information we share both current and factual. 

The Mindvalley fact-checking guidelines are based on:

To learn more about our dedication to reliable reporting, you can read our detailed editorial standards.