This post is an excerpt from my interview with Henna Inam. This excerpt sheds light on overcoming mid-life crises, self-reflections daily questions practice, self-limiting loops, practicing self-compassion during tough times and bringing soul to work.
You can check out my full interview with Henna here Henna Inam — Wired for Disruption, Lessons from Ashram, 5 Shifts in Agility, 10 Powerful Questions to Ask Yourself, and More (#120)
One of the things that I realized while growing up and this goes back to my midlife crisis is that I was so adaptive. The reason I wrote my book wired for authenticity is that I really had struggled, even in my corporate career. I worked in corporate America for Proctor and Gamble, then for Novartis. I was an Asian woman, mostly in meetings with white men. As I grew up through the organization, I was in various C-level roles. I was always adapting and it was sort of the same thing as in my childhood growing up I was always adapting and until I had my midlife crisis and I thought about this has been a really great adventure – but who am I? what do I want? What’s really important?
I think that the advice I would have is for people to dig deep inside, to find their deepest inspirations, to find their most brilliant strengths, and to find a need, that calls to them, there are so many needs right now, whether it’s a need To help people become the best versions of themselves, the people that you lead, or whether it’s a need to find innovative solutions because you are a brilliant thinker and scientist or, whether it’s a need to, create something new, in terms of experiences for people. Our job is to find that fire that’s inside of us that ignites us so that we can step into the most powerful and inspired.
Daily questions practice
This is something that has been written about and talked about by Marshall Goldsmith, who is a leading CEO coach. So I have an Excel spreadsheet and it has my list of 10 questions and I have an accountability partner. We call each other at 7:00 AM every day and she’s got her list and we basically say, how do I rate myself? I rate myself from 0 to 10 – did I do it or did I not do it? 10 is – yes I did it.
- Did I exercise today – either walk 10,000 steps or work out for at least a half-hour?
- Self-care is sort of the key component to maintaining our own energy and is such an important part of any impact that we’re going to have externally. The question is – did I drink 64 ounces of water?
- Did I make healthy food choices? And for me, it’s protein and veggies and anti-inflammatory foods.
- Did I eat mindfully with appreciative attention?
- Did I meditate and connect with my wisest self for 15 minutes today?
- Did I journal the three things that I’m grateful for?
- Did I write my top three priorities and progress them for the day?
- Did I do my best to practice courage today in situations that called for it?
- Did I appreciate the good in others?
- Did I take my daily vitamin supplements and Apple cider vinegar?
Self-limiting loop and mind story map:
What is the story that I’m telling myself right now? The story could be, for example, in the case of me getting fired from my job, I’m really incompetent, or I don’t know what happened. So you’re either blaming yourself, or you’re blaming the other person and all kinds of explosives right related to the other person.
You get into this blame mode, and the mind story map would allow you to see the perspective that you’re standing in your belief about yourself, your belief about others, and the emotions, it creates the behaviors that those emotions generate, and then the outcomes.
The way that our brains are designed, we are stories reinforce themselves and that’s why we get into habitual patterns. So, how do you use this tool to get yourself out of that self-limiting loop – this loop of stories that you’re telling yourself.
You start to notice the story and then step out of it. And then, you say, what other choices do I have? What I can offer myself? (Self-compassion). I can just notice that this is a really difficult moment for me and difficult moments are part of being human.
Self-compassion during tough times
At one point in my career, I actually got fired from a job, and not fired from the company, but, essentially there was a new CEO. They wanted to bring in their own person and asked me to move into a different role. It was one of the hardest times when I started to really question myself. I had a really high-flying career, always a high achiever, and all that. It really rattled my sense of self-confidence and it really rattled my sense of believing in myself. At that point, I didn’t have self-compassion practice, and it was really hard to overcome that loss of confidence when that happened. I didn’t really have a great support system around me either because I was so ashamed. I was really so ashamed. I really didn’t want to have the sense of vulnerability or confidence in myself to even open up to people about that experience. I think that was one regret. I would have really liked to have had my self-compassion practice at that time, but, on the other hand, it reminds me that any setbacks now are so much easier to navigate and we will all have setbacks. That’s part of life and it allows us to take more risks when we know that we have something, a very powerful practice to fall back on.
Bringing Soul to Work
I think we’ve come to work for so long without our souls and kind of leave our souls at the door. And, I think what the world and our workplaces require of us as leaders now is to bring our souls and bring the best and wisest parts of ourselves and the most loving parts of ourselves, and the most purposeful parts of ourselves. Because I think that’s what humans need more and more from each other, particularly in these tough times.
I learned that I can be fragile and deal with my fragility in a really compassionate way. I learned that I can be both fragile and strong. We, humans, have these incredibly beautiful, full, and fragile parts of ourselves that need to be taken care of with tremendous care of ourselves and of others. And I think so many of them lose that human part of themselves or leave it at the door when we come to our workplaces. I have a much more forgiving, compassionate, and loving relationship with myself.
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