Lisa DeAngelis — Short Life Advice From The Best In The World

I crafted a list of 10 life’s philosophical questions that I wanted to answers for myself. I could easily answer the questions based on my thinking. I thought—what would it look like if I ask the same set of questions to the best in the world from the different domain—so that I can learn from them—what they do, how they think on the same questions, and much more! I started this with a little experiment and soon—I got 50+ people to say yes to send their responses. Now, I take the pleasure of sharing the expert’s information with you so that we all can learn and grow from each other.

If you’d like to learn more about what I am reading, new documentaries, what I am learning new, recent podcast updates, things I am experimenting with, or anything —which I share extensively in my weekly short and sweet “Friday Newsletter”. No spam ever! I hate that too!

Dr. Lisa DeAngelis has facilitated programs focused on leadership and transformative teaching at Wharton, Novo Nordisk, West Point, Astra-Zeneca, LEGO, and MIT. Dr. DeAngelis’ research focuses on transformative teaching and she has been published in many peer-reviewed journals. She brings thirty years of divisional and corporate leadership experience to the work of preparing leaders to excel in the twenty-first century.

Connect with Lisa DeAngelis: Website | LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook

Please enjoy this conversation with Lisa!

Nishant Garg: You have interacted with many successful people over the years—what have you found are the most beneficial exercises that people really feel have changed their lives for the better?

Lisa DeAngelis: I think the first is to evaluate on a regular basis what success means to you. Stripping away everyone else’s expectations and really learning to listen to what is true for you. I’ll give you an example from my own experience. Early in my career, I decided to make the transition from Operations to Human Resources. I knew that—if done right— I would be able to have more influence on the organization from that purview. It meant—of course—taking a big step “backward” from a title and compensation perspective. This was an entirely new career and I’d need to learn from the ground up. I was fine with that because I was focused on the long game. However, senior leaders in the company, friends, and even family couldn’t understand why I would do this and tried to convince me not to. 

Nishant Garg: In the last 3 years, how have you handled work/life challenges? If so, what questions do you ask yourself during tough times? What does your support system look like (any go-to-person)?

Lisa DeAngelis: First, I should start by saying that I think work/life balance is a misconception. It’s not a teeter totter where, on one side you have life and on the other you have work and your goal is to keep them balanced. That takes such effort and at the end of the day— you’re just trying to keep some illusionary status quo. Instead, I choose to think about it as work-life integration. How do you— the human being—lead a fulfilling life. And, as I noted in my response to the earlier question, the person who defines fulfillment is you. No two people are going to approach it the same way. 

Second, work-life integration is fluid based on the current context. When I was diagnosed with cancer, my primary focus became my health and wellbeing. When the pandemic hit, my primary focus was pivoting the products of the Center so that they could be delivered virtually in a manner consistent with our values.

Lastly, while there are different “buckets” or “slices” of your life—some people think in terms of family, friends, work, self, spirituality, community, to name a few— there are ways to bring these together. For example, anyone who has gone for a terminal degree knows how all-consuming the process is. My son was in high school while I was doing coursework. So, the two of us would sit at the dining room table and do homework together and talk about what we were working on. Later, when I was working on my dissertation a group of us would convene at a friend’s house once a month for a weekend just to write. We would each find a quiet place to do our work, and at the same time—we’d pause to enjoy meals together.

I love your question about a support system! In my work, I have labelled this— your “tribe”— those people committed to supporting you on your journey and your “local guides” those people you need to get you through this current leg of the journey. I’ll give you an example of each. I recognize just how fortunate I am that my husband is a key member of my tribe. He has taken the time to understand my aspirations and has, at each turn, found a way to support me in realizing them. One example of this was when, as the primary breadwinner and insurance carrier, I was laid off. By the time I got home, I had already framed out a business plan to start my own business. Without blinking an eye, Tony jumped right in to help me make it happen. At the same time, there are many nuances to business that I don’t know and needed guidance on—which form of business made most sense for me; how to create my website; how to build a brand—in each of these cases, I reached out to my network (or asked them to reach out to their network) to find me someone with that expertise. These are local guides in that, while I may tap back into them episodically, they don’t need to be invested in the long haul.

Nishant Garg: What practices do you have in your life to calm your mind and body during overwhelming moments? Any recommendation to someone who often feels stressed out?

Lisa DeAngelis: I practice Nichiren Buddhism. In this practice, each morning and evening we chant. In the morning we set our intentions—what is it that we want to be able to affect through our practice. And, in the evening we give thanks for the opportunities the day has presented for us to grow and develop. This is one of the things I love about this particular Buddhist practice— you’re not meant to take yourself out of the challenges of daily life. In fact, those issues actually fuel our progress. The hard part is that means I can’t just be a Buddhist twice a day – when I’m in front of my altar. It’s being able to tap into the practice when I’m in the midst of a confrontation or stressful situation. And, for me sometimes that means walking away from it for a bit; sometimes it means going for a walk; sometimes it means talking it through with a friend or colleague; and, sometimes, when I have to stay in the situation, it means becoming more aware of my breathing—bringing me back to myself. The hope is that, eventually, this will lead me to see the lesson that is in this struggle for me, and my opportunity to grow.

So, whether your practice is listen to music or taking a walk in nature or taking a brief break and shifting to something else or hashing it out with someone else, find the thing—or things—that work for you and lean into them.

However, I want to pay attention to the last bit of your question “…who often feels stressed out…” Often is a clue here. If you find yourself more stressed than not, over time, that’s not healthy. In this case, I’d recommend actually taking a bit of time—a long weekend, a mini vacation—to reflect on what is at the root of your stress and how you might deal with it differently. In other words, is there a healthier, more balanced way to approach the stressors?

One simple example is if you have more work on your plate than you can reasonably get done. Is it because you are afraid to say “no” to anything that is asked of you? Is it because you don’t have clear timelines on priorities? Is it because you have a hard time delegating? Take the time to think about not just what is causing the issue but why. Then, armed with these insights—begin to take steps to address them. Perhaps this means sitting with your boss to work with them to align priorities and deadlines. Perhaps this means letting someone know that you would like to help them but the earliest you can get to it is … (a polite no or at least a renegotiation of timing). Perhaps this means working with someone to teach them how to do something so that you no longer have to (more work in the short-term but the pay-off is that it frees you up to focus on other things).

Nishant Garg: How do you find the balance between being appreciative of what you already have and striving to achieve more?

Lisa DeAngelis: Such a great question. My personal belief is that gratitude allows you to be more expansive, more impactful. Rather than striving from a place of lack, you are building from a platform of hope. An analogy I often use is that of a sailboat in the wind. Are you fighting a headwind, or exploiting a tailwind? It’s a matter of perspective. 

As I mentioned earlier, the Center I run was significantly impacted by the pandemic. The leadership development program we run has been conducted in-person since it’s inception nearly two decades ago as have our annual fundraising events. We chose to leverage this opportunity to rethink what we were doing, why we were doing it, and how it might be done differently. This “crisis” gave us the opportunity to see our Center with fresh eyes, to be thankful for the strong foundation we had, that we were able to build an entirely new edifice upon. To answer your question, though, while I’m happy that we’re able to deliver this experience for our current fellows, I’m also acutely aware that our alumni are facing the same challenges and am eager to find a way to support them. I guess what I’m trying to say is that it is a balance of being grateful for those that I’ve been able to help while also looking to widen that sphere.

Please enjoy!

If you’d like to learn more about what I am reading, new documentaries, what I am learning new, recent podcast updates, things I am experimenting with, or anything —which I share extensively in my weekly short and sweet “Friday Newsletter”. No spam ever! I hate that too!

The Nishant Garg Show is listened to in 24 countries and is about extracting information on Mindfulness, Personal Development, Spirituality. I am on a mission to spread Mindfulness and I’d love for you to join me in this movement. For any question, please contact me. If you have enjoyed listening to my podcasts, please subscribe to the new podcast updates on Itunes. Please provide your reviews on Itunes which will really help me. Subscribe to the Newsletter. You won’t be spammed! I hate spams too! You will receive only one email every Friday on the latest published podcasts.

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