I crafted a list of 10 life’s philosophical questions that I wanted to answer for myself. 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!
This post highlights my conversation with Monique Russell on such questions.
Monique Russell is an executive coach, leadership guru, communication expert, and the founder of Clear Communication Solutions. She comes from a long line of educators in her family. Keeping in line with her desire to be on the big stage, she earned a Bachelor of Science in Broadcast Journalism. She went back for two Masters of Science, one in Public Relations and the other in Advertising.
She’s an excellent communication consultant and coach, that’s why she’s ready to guide you with her gifts so you too can be a confident and clear communicator. This is how Clear Communication Solutions was born.
Organizations like CDC, Google, Salesforce, Verizon, Equifax, OSHA, FEMA, Chambers of Commerce, business owners, and faith-based organizations trust her to help them foster courage, creativity, and leadership. You can too.
Please enjoy this conversation with Monique!
Nishant Garg: What books—or even movies and documentaries—would you recommend to someone who want to live a meaningful life? What books have you gifted the most, and why?
Monique Russell: The Success Principles by Jack Canfield is a book I highly recommend to anyone who wants to live a meaningful life. I have gifted this book many times, and I remember when I first started reading it years ago — my mother and I actually read it together. I’d read out loud each chapter and when a concept was so deep we would simply start talking about it right away. It was so invigorating for both of us because as we read we were able to discuss the principles together. This book helps you to realize how much in control of your decisions and life you are. You are left feeling inspired and empowered to take responsibility for your life. Since then, my mother has become a certified Jack Canfield trainer and teaches the principles often.
Nishant Garg: What does your first 60 to 90 minutes in the morning look like? What are your specific rituals on a regular basis?
Monique Russell: The morning is most important for me to prime my mind. Before I get out of bed I begin a practice of gratitude, thinking and saying all the things I am grateful for out loud. I start with my bed, my pillow, the good night’s sleep I had, my family, my health, and so on. Then, I execute my affirmations playlist that consists of 3 to 4 regular different sets of affirmations I listen to regularly. Sometimes I will repeat them or I will listen to it silently with my eyes closed. Then, I get up, make my bed, and take a shower. I drink 8 oz of water and take a multi-vitamin. Then, I make myself the first cup of tea. It used to be coffee, but I successfully transitioned to tea four years ago. I take my tea with me to my desk and pray. Then, I get out my journal and begin to free write. Once I am done with those steps, I am ready to start my work day. I look at the list of tasks from the night before if I wrote them out, and begin working whether I am coaching, training, being interviewed, or developing strategies for my clients.
People often ask me how I can be so positive so early in the morning and this is why. By the time I meet with the first person in the day, I am literally on cloud 9. This morning routine is so important to me because if I jump into my day without prepping and priming my mind, I find that my frustration level heightens more easily.
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?
Monique Russell: The people I consider to be successful are those that have been able to work in their strength zones, build great relationships, and have time to enjoy life while being in a good financial position. When I assess and speak with some of these persons, I have observed 4 exercises that help them change their lives for the better:
- An ability to implement daily discipline no matter how small the task is. They make their practice of discipline almost second nature like breathing.
- Actively and intentionally nurture relationships. Nurturing their relationships is considered a critical business task and they treat it as such. This means proactively scheduling time to spend time with, connect and celebrate those that fill their cup, and vice versa.
- Consistently engage in exercise or some form of physical activity. This could be walking, running, lifting weights, hiking, dancing, rock climbing etc.
- Invest in their mind with therapy and/or coaching. Every one of these individuals had the realization that they were their biggest asset and as such, they invested in maximizing their mental capacity and faculties with facilitated thinking.
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)?
Monique Russell: In the last 3 years when I faced work/life challenges, I remind myself of what is most important to me and look at the progress made. I reflect on what I felt were the most difficult challenges I had 5 and 10 years ago, and look at the skills and tools I used to overcome those challenges. If I have overcome adversity in the past, I can surely do it again. The skills and tools are within me and I would simply need to activate it. I take myself through several worse case scenarios and ask myself if they all happened, if I could live with the outcome. Most times the answer is yes. I also revisit my vision boards and my purpose statements. If I am still on purpose, I surrender to what I can control and leave the rest to the universe.
Nishant Garg: What are some of the things you have changed your mind about in the last few years? Do you have any other favorite quote(s) or life philosophy you live your life by?
Monique Russell: In the last few years my outlook on religion and spirituality has changed. I was steeply raised in the Catholic Church. I realized how much fear and conditional love are required to successfully practice religion. I found myself wondering what it would be like if the teachings were led first with love and no conditions. I have come to realize that much of the fear in the world is channeled through religion and as a result, it is not impossible, it is extremely difficult for people to break free from fear based conditioning.
Another view is on wisdom and age. I used to think that people who were older and had more experience had all the answers and that there would come a time when I would arrive at that stage. I have since learned through coaching hundreds of adults older than me, and from participating in think tanks not to assume that one’s age is an indication of maturity or otherwise. “It is not about age, it is about identity” – Monique Russell
One of my favorite quotes that I have lived my life by is, “I am a part of all that I have met” by Lord Alfred Tennyson. I didn’t really know much about him, except I was introduced to the quote in my college years, and it hasn’t left me since. This helps me realize that I am leaving a piece of myself in each and every interaction with another person I encounter. With this in mind, I choose to leave positive pieces of me with others.
Another quote is by Maya Angelou — when she said “I have learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” This keeps me grounded in my interactions with others and not to get caught up in too much external accolades and accomplishments.
Another quote I love is by Les Brown —“done is better than perfect” and “anything worth doing is worth doing badly until you get it done right”. This quote by Les Brown was a game changer in my life that helped me break free from the bondage of perfectionism.
Nishant Garg: Could you share any conversation from your life, or maybe more than one conversation that has made the most impact in your life? What is the biggest lesson you took away?
Monique Russell: I was having difficulty with one of my children, and in one of my therapist conversations she helped me to see that I was parenting from fear and not love. Who would have thought? With all the experience, education and awareness I have, I did not connect the dots in that way. I am a strong proponent of coaching and therapy as mindset tools to maximize individual performance. That conversation changed my entire life because I was able to show up differently as a parent, connect at a deeper emotional level and break a negative generational habit that I was not even aware of. I shared it with so many people, family, friends, and even some of my clients who are mothers. That’s just how powerful the insight was.
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