Tom Eddington’s Amazing Journey:
One of the Bay Area’s most renowned business advisors and coaches, Tom Eddington, works with some of the nation’s most influential CEOs and non-profit leaders, advising them on everything from organizational change to conscious leadership and life/balance integration.
His extraordinary journey towards serving in these capacities has been one that few leaders ever take. From transformational successes to severe and debilitating personal challenges, Tom developed a rare coaching style and practice that is as much of a spiritual awakening as it is a meteoric rise in the corporate world as an owner in one of the globe’s most influential management consulting firms.
Many of his clients come to him seeking a sense of serenity after years of working in often toxic leadership positions, and he offers them a unique blend of executive management guidance and spiritual coaching.
Tom’s wealth of life experiences gives him the scope, empathy, and compassion required to help his clients make profound personal and professional shifts in their lives. “I help them find a sense of living as a whole person by exploring a deeper understanding of their inner compass.”
Tom Eddington spent the 90’s and early 2000’s like the corporate equivalent of a unicorn, achieving wild success as a business consultant, strategic advisor, and entrepreneur.
After graduating from Adrian College in Michigan with a dual degree in business and psychology and working as a client manager at Aetna Life & Casualty, the Michigan born leader joined the global consulting firm Hewitt Associates.
Over a twelve year period, Tom helped grow Hewett from 2,200 to 25,000 associates, becoming a global leader in organizational change, human resources, outsourcing, and one of the most admired consultancies in the world.
During his 14 years at Hewett, Tom facilitated organizational growth, managed global mergers and opened new markets for an expansive roster of corporate and non-profit clients, including Hewlett-Packard, IKON Office Solutions, MBNA Corporation, Royal Bank of Scotland, Royal/Dutch Shell, W.L. Gore, American Red Cross, Glaxo , Halliburton, Lehigh University and the University of Pennsylvania.
In the late 1990s, Tom relocated to the UK, with his family in tow, to support top-shelf clients like the Royal Bank of Scotland and Royal Dutch Shell, and working with the European operations arm of Halliburton. In some ways, it was the peak of his career; he was consulting with leaders in 35 countries.
At the top of his corporate career, between traveling and meeting the demands of his clients, Tom’s work week far exceeded 80 hours. At times he felt lonely and isolated. He became increasingly concerned that he was failing to meet the demands of his family life and the leaders he served. Little did he know that these were the first signals that his life needed to change.
Like most success-driven professionals, Tom doubled down by enrolling in graduate school to pursue a Masters in Organization Dynamics at the University of Pennsylvania. In this program, he was engaged in international coursework in China, Hong Kong, and Japan, studying strategy, structure and business cultures. He also took on a new multi-million dollar client in addition to his existing clients. With travel, work, and school he averaged about four hours of sleep per night.
With such a hectic schedule, it was not long before his body began to send him signals that something was wrong. He was diagnosed with Lyme disease, treated with antibiotics for a month and promptly resumed his crazy schedule.
Not long after helping take Hewitt Associates public in 2002, Tom began experiencing new health problems which he dismissed as the result of his exhaustive work schedule until his body just crashed. He lost much of his sight, his memory was failing, and he was exhausted and unable to keep up with the rigid demands of his life. The Lyme disease had returned with a vengeance and attacked his nervous system. Between struggling with his health and family issues he ultimately had to quit working.
“I went from being a leader and owner in a well-respected firm to needing help and being vulnerable. From being the provider for my family and focused on making a hell of a lot of money to losing my health, having little control over my body, taking massive quantities of antibiotics and being attached to an IV pole three times a day.”
“My self-identity was all wrapped up in my work, so there was an existential crisis. Being a pragmatic optimist, however, even when I was in excruciating pain, it never crossed my mind that I was not going to get better or was going to die.” He had lived a model life of achievement while suffering from the effects of years of toxic stress, a condition Tom sees today in many of his coaching clients.
After a year and a half, the doctor who was quarterbacking Tom’s care told him he had done all that Western medicine could provide. His options were 1) accept this as his lot in life; 2) take his own life, or 3) try alternative medicine. Tom wisely chose the third option, which found him embarking on a journey towards holistic health and a spiritual awakening. He realized he had been living a one-dimensional life by defining his value by his career and financial accomplishments rather than the broader perspective of the person beneath the outward success story.
Tom is gratefully on the other side of a life-threatening bout with Lyme disease, which sidelined him for some years. Although he approached wellness as healing his physical body, he soon realized he was on his way to healing many areas of his life, including the healing of his spiritual, psychological and emotional “bodies.”
“My illness is the best gift I ever received in my life, but I wouldn’t wish it on anybody,” says Tom. “I offer my wisdom and experience to other leaders, so they don’t have to go through what I went through. Short of a loss of a child, I have experienced everything, good and bad, that life has to offer.”
By 2008, Tom was living a completely different life, dedicated to healing himself in a multitude of ways and developing his spiritual consciousness. He describes the single week retreat he did in Southern Arizona with the Tibetan Phakyab Rinpoche as “the magic factory, the opening of my spiritual practice and a new life-changing experience. I was introduced to a reality that I didn’t know existed, one of energetic healing. I have described the experience as feeling like the ‘tin man’ receiving his heart”
Enjoying a broader and more productive life, Tom is no longer defining himself by his career, status as an owner in a prestigious firm or the outcome of his latest strategy, deal or merger. His priorities have shifted from expanding his sphere as a corporate executive to literally “expanding the human heart.”
In 2011, with a lifetime of insights in business and personal growth, Tom started his own consulting practice, Eddington Advisory Services, to help leaders explore their lives and work in a more profound way. His clients now include executives at The Gladstone Institutes, Wisdom Labs, Nursegrid, Universal Companies, among others.
He identifies as a practitioner of Tibetan Buddhism, under the guidance of Phakyab Rinpoche who opened the door to a lifetime commitment to spiritual practice.
“My goal is to ensure that my clients be the best people they can be, helping them become incredible human beings, more effective leaders, and wise stewards of their organizations. I help them understand the impact their organizations have on its employees, their families, communities and the larger society.”
Tom’s unique journey has allowed him to develop his signature coaching method, which best described in his own words:
“I don’t believe in work-life balance. There’s only life, and life can be messy.”
“I’m there to ensure that my clients are living the life they want to be living and dealing effectively with all of its amazing highs and intense lows.”
“I teach what I have learned: you cannot separate your personal life from your work life. I support them in any way they need to be supported, whether they’re dealing with substance abuse, their own or family illness, career challenges, divorce, or the loss of loved ones.”
“I show them how to be calm in the midst of whatever troubles they are facing”
“I don’t feel that any of what I am doing is a calling, per se,” says Tom. “I believe life is a magical experience that unfolds in ways we could never imagine.”
“Life gives each of us an opportunity to help people take a journey that reveals a whole new perception of what it means to be a leader and a fully realized human being, and this is an amazing gift.”
“People ask me what it was like to lose everything when I was ill, and I tell them I have received so much more than what I had ever lost.”