When You Deny You’re Burning Out with Jen Fisher #169

Aaron McHugh

 
 

Our world is fast-paced, being everything to everyone at all times (except to ourselves), and the demands of our modern world aren’t sustainable if we don’t learn to listen to our body, mind, and spirit to excel in our life, work and relationships. Here is Jen Fisher’s story of burning out and today leads as the Managing Director of Well-Being at Deloitte.

About Jen Jisher

As the National Managing Director for Well-being, Jen drives Deloitte’s strategy and innovation around work-life, health, and wellness. She empowers Deloitte’s people to prioritize their well-being so they can be at their best in both their professional and personal lives. Jen also leads Deloitte’s Inclusion Center of Excellence.

Jen is a healthy lifestyle enthusiast and seeks to infuse aspects of wellness in everything she does. As a breast cancer survivor, she is passionate about advocating for women’s health and sharing her recovery journey.

Previously, Jen served as Chief of Staff for the CEO of Deloitte LLP and as a Director in Deloitte’s Market Development organization. From 2007 until 2011, Jen was a Senior Manager and primary support for the Managing Partner of Operations. She joined Deloitte as marketing manager for the Southeast region, providing marketing leadership in the Life Sciences and Health Care industry.

Jen frequently speaks with clients and media about building a culture of well-being at work with and is a regular contributor to Thrive Global. She has co-authored several Deloitte Insights research reports on workplace well-being and hosts WorkWell, a podcast series on the latest work-life trends.

She sits on the Advisory Council for the Chief Well-being Officer program at George Mason University’s Center for the Advancement of Well-being and serves as a lieutenant on the American Heart Association’s CEO Roundtable. She received her Bachelor of Science in business management from the University of Miami.

Check out Jen’s WorkWell podcast here.

Full transcription of podcast with Jen Fisher

WLP: Jen Fisher, welcome to the “Work Life Play” podcast. Really excited to be with ya.

Jen: Yes, me too. Thank you for having me.

WLP: So, for starters, we had to reschedule because somebody was working on your floor above you, right? So, they were tearing out a floor, putting on a tile floor, or something or other. So hopefully if we hear any banging, you’ll just let us know. That’s what it is.

Jen: Yeah, I will. No jack-hammering. You might hear a dog barking in the background though. So…

WLP: All right. So jack-hammering will push pause, dog barking will allow. All right. So you…

Jen: Keep going.

WLP: You alluded to just, you know, us getting introduced the work that you do at Deloitte today has as a backstory to it. That’s more of a personal story. So, before we get into the work you’re doing today in the world of Corporate America, why don’t you tell us about the story that led to it?

Jen: So, I’ve been at Deloitte for, going on 18 years now in various roles. And one of my previous roles, well, I guess, I should step back a little bit. You know, in my personal life, you know, growing up and kind of all throughout my life, one thing that I am consistently, I guess, have been passionate about is health and fitness. And so, you know, I’m one of those weird people that, you know, going to the gym is my happy place. And so, for me that, you know, that was kind of always something that has been a top priority. Something that I made sure that, you know, I got done in my day, most days of the week, no matter what was going on. So, like I said, I’ve been at Deloitte for, going on 18 years now in various roles. And one of my previous roles, it was a very high profile, and intense, but incredible role.

But as part of that role, I was constantly on, constantly connected, and in my mind, you know, I, you know, if I worked 20 hours a day, got a couple hours of sleep, and went to the gym, you know, one hours a day. I was golden. I could handle it. I was balanced. I had all the well-being in the world that I needed. However, I was wrong because that role, and as great as it was, and as much as I learned from it, I wouldn’t change it if I had to. It led me to burnout. And so, kind of my story of burnout while I was in this role, while I was doing this job. You know, over time, I think it started to kind of wear on me in different ways, and different people who really care about me and my life over time tried to bring it to my attention or to say something to me.

I think most notably my husband, but, you know, we never liked to be told those things by our spouses. So, of course, I denied it, and I didn’t want to accept it. I think partially because to me, that meant failure. It meant that you know, I couldn’t handle all of these things. I couldn’t be everything to everyone at every time. In other words, I couldn’t be a super woman. And so, that was hard for me to accept. But when other people that I work with, and mentors, and people that I knew cared about me started to bring it up to me, you know, I think it really became real, and, I, in some ways, was forced to accept it. And so, as a matter of course, and kind of in switching roles, my mentor at the time actually turned it into my boss and our Chief Marketing Officer here at Deloitte.

And so, I went to work for her, and I remember having conversations with her and saying, you know, “Diana, what exactly am I gonna do in my new role?” And she said, “Well, the first thing that you’re gonna do is, you’re gonna figure out, you’re gonna take some time off, and you’re gonna figure out who Jen Fisher wants to be.” And in my mind, I thought, “Well, what does she mean? I don’t need time off. I’m ready to dive into my next role. I’m ready to go. I wanna, you know, I wanna do this. I wanna knock it out of the park.” But in reality, I took some time off, and I went to bed, and I didn’t get out of bed until three weeks later. And so, everybody that tried to tell me, they were right because I was, you know, mentally, physically, emotionally exhausted, kind of in every way that you could be.

And so, Deloitte’s incredible organization. I had, you know, tons of support and understanding for what I was going through. But as I was building myself back up to kind of re-engage in life, and re-engage in my job, and kind of figure out what matters to me, and where I wanted to go with all of that, kind of that figuring out who Jen Fisher wants to be. You know, I also realized that my personal definition that I’d held on so dearly to…about well-being, about, you know, my one hour of gym time a day, was actually, you know, very limiting. And it wasn’t broad enough because sometimes you don’t need one hour of time in the gym a day. Sometimes you need one hour to reflect or to read, or to meditate, or to just sit on the couch and do nothing. But I was limiting myself in that definition of what I thought health and wellness, or well-being was for me.

And so, I had to completely change that for myself, and redefine that, and learn to listen to my body, learn to listen to my mind, and figure out what I needed, so that I could continue to, you know, really excel in my role, but also excel in my life, and be present for the people that, you know, matter to me, and the people that I want to engage with, and let them know that I care about them. And I wasn’t able to do that previously. And so, as I went on my own personal journey, I became incredibly passionate about it. And, you know, and talking with some of my mentors at Deloitte, and trying to figure out kind of what I wanted to do, and where I want it to go. You know, it became kind of immediately obvious that if this was something that I needed, then why wouldn’t everybody else at Deloitte, and quite frankly, and at any organization, why wouldn’t they need it? And so, we put together a vision, in a business case for what well-being at Deloitte is, and should be, and what we want it to be. And that led to the role that I’m in today, which is Managing Director of well-being for Deloitte.

WLP: Come on. What a fun story that is?

Jen: I don’t know that it was fun living it, but it’s certainly fun telling it.

WLP: So, I love the topic. I wrote down this phrase that you said that be everything to everyone at all times. Just that core belief was a driving component. I don’t know about how much of a factor it was, but how much of that piece when you look back now was a root cause or root contributing cause?

Jen: Oh, it was definitely a root cause, and you know, be everything to everyone at all times, except for myself, because I wasn’t taking care of myself. I wasn’t giving myself the time and space that I needed. I was, you know, waking up every morning thinking about what everyone else needed, and wanted from me. And so, that was a huge missing component. But absolutely the root cause or one of the root causes for sure.

WLP: And then Jen, I’m curious for you too then, now knowing that was a root cause. What was driving even that? My guess is you were probably high-performing in your career already. So, it was like, I guess you were doing well at everything you touched, but it was just the invisible cost to you that was…that you didn’t see, but everyone else started seeing the by-products of that mentality, that mindset you were living with.

Jen: Yeah, I definitely think that that’s it. You know, I was high-performing. It was an exciting role. It was, you know, a high profile role. I got to interact with, you know, very senior leaders in the organization. I was learning a lot, and, you know, I’d love to learn, and so…and I also think, like I said, I processed not being able to do all of those things as a failure. And in my mind at the time, you know, failure was not an option, or a failure was bad. And it, you know, it meant that I couldn’t cut it. I now see that differently. Of course, you know, it’s in hindsight, you know, we see things very differently. I think so much of it was that, if I couldn’t do all of these things, then it must have meant that I wasn’t good enough, or that it was failure. And I think that was what kind of, you know, held me back in some respects so that I just couldn’t get past that, or accept that for myself.

WLP: That’s so good. Thanks for being real and honest with it because I think that that is, for me, that was true. I viewed it as failure also. I guess I viewed it as a weakness because all of my life up until that point, I was able to carry on this facade that I could do it all.

Jen: Exactly.

WLP: And so, I had a really big case file of, “Look, look what I’ve done.” And for me personally, I’ve done a lot of endurance events like Ironman Triathlons, and all these other things where I was like, “Look, see? I can take it more than most.” So, the reason I can do more than most, for longer than most is because look, I can do it. Until one day I couldn’t, and everyone else recognized around me that I wasn’t, and I was the last one to be willing. So, I’m curious if you’d be willing to help us since you help clients and other folks who are maybe staring at this idea of burnout. They’re flirting with the idea, they’re starting to feel the tremors of it, or maybe they’re full on in it. What are now some of the kind of early warning signs, or pieces of advice you begin to help people consider what to do, or how to recognize it before it gets there?

Jen: I would say certainly an early warning. I mean, I think key is, you know, self-awareness, and kind of self-acceptance, and even taking stock of what are you spending your time on? And what’s going on in your life? And are you able to dedicate time for yourself? Or is that the thing that’s always getting sacrificed on some regular schedule? Are you able to engage in, and do the things that fulfill you, and give you energy, and allow you to connect with those people that are most important to you? Or are those the things that are getting sacrificed? And you have to be real with yourself, because I think, in particular for people that are high-performing individuals that the first thing we do is it’s kind of sacrifice the things that make us really good at who we are and what we do.

So, things like sleep, things like exercise, things like eating. You know, I would go all-day-long with, you know, just like blowing past eating, you know, and not recognizing the impact that that had on, you know, not just my body physiologically, but just on the way that I was showing up, and the way that I was engaging with other people, and treating other people. So, I think, you know, taking stock of kind of what’s going on in your life, and being real about that. But also, if you’re getting feedback from others and it’s people that, you know, care about you, and care about who you are, and care about your success, don’t blow it off. Dive in, and ask questions, and ask what they’re seeing, and why they’re seeing that, and, you know, what they think is going on, and even ask for help.

I mean, that’s the number one thing. Just ask for help because people will be willing, and will want to help you, but you have to get real with yourself, and you have to be willing to accept that I might be on the verge of burnout, or I might already be in burnout. And, you know, it happens, unfortunately, all time to all kinds of people. And so, I think, you know, the more real we can get about with ourselves and each other, I think that’s an incredible way for us to kind of stop burnout in its tracks. But you have to be self-aware, and you have to be willing to accept that, you know, you can’t do everything, but just maybe not everything right now all the time. But it’s okay because you got a long life to live. So, you know those things can come in time. It doesn’t have to be all right now, especially if you’re sacrificing yourself.

WLP: That’s really good. Do you know the work of Greg McKeown? He wrote [crosstalk 00:12:30].

Jen: Yes, and I know he’s been on your podcast before.

WLP: I really resonate a lot with his work on just the story the offer do less better, and to me, that was a really revolutionary idea. Do less, was never on my list of things to do in a day. It was always the way of trying to figure how to do more. But I really appreciated the emphasis on doing less but better, and I’m included. I think that in my journey on recovery, what I’ve found is that there is this…I love your phrasing too. It’s just about being real, being honest, like really doing an honest self-assessment. And I’m curious for you of, when you think of now as you’re leading up this work there at Deloitte when you look at sustainability, I’m curious your view about sustainability because every executive faces campaigns in their career that require a lot. And so, there’s some project they’re working on, there’s a client thing, there’s whatever the thing is that will require some burst from them. But how do you help then begin to coach them about the question of sustainability of, yeah, you might have to give it a lot for some period of time, but becoming real and honest about how long can you keep that up? And how do you coach them through figuring out what is actually a sustainable, not just temporarily, but actual long-term, and that what detrimental costs you personally might pay for it to go on too long?

Jen: That’s a great question because I think when we first started on this journey of well-being and really embedding it into our culture, and how we do work at Deloitte, there were a lot of people that conceptually were really in favor of it. But I think that the number one piece of feedback, or perhaps it was an excuse, perhaps a little bit of both, was, well, I don’t have time. I don’t have time to take care of myself. I don’t have time to eat right. I don’t have time to go to the gym, I don’t have time to whatever it is. So, I think kind of became really evident to me pretty quickly was that we needed to kind of break this down into bite-size-type things that you can do throughout your day. And so, don’t think of it as this, I got to go train for a marathon, or I, you know, I gotta go, you know, train to learn to climb that mountain, or if, you know, I don’t exactly perfectly. I mean, you’re, you know, you’re talking about high-performing individuals who are used to getting, you know, nailing it all the time, getting everything right.

And so, there’s a little bit of a, okay, well if I don’t go all in, and do this big, and do it right, then I might as well not do it. So, you kind of have to get past that and say, “Okay, well, I get it.” If you don’t have time to go to the gym, can you go for a three 10-minute walks? Or can you put your headset on and you know, take a couple of your meetings while you’re walking up and down the hall or even better go outside? What are some small kind of, you know, things that you can build into your day, no matter where you are that you know, can start to make a difference? And those build up over time, and you start to add on to them over time. Once one becomes kind of embedded to how you live your day, how you run your day, you add another one on, and you add another one on.

And so, it doesn’t feel like this, you know, giant thing that I’m not doing now and I have to, you know, it’s just another thing I have to add on, and I don’t have any more time, and I can’t sacrifice anymore sleep because I’m probably only getting three to four hours of sleep at night, which is a whole other issue. You know, so really bringing it down to kind of bite-size morsels that people could say, “Okay, I can easily build that into my day.” And then I think in terms of our culture at Deloitte, and really what we’ve seen be successful is, you know, it has to be part of corporate culture. I can’t deal like another program. It has to be thought about as the way we do business, the way we schedule our time, the way we deal with each other, because then we hold each other accountable, and it’s embedded into kind of the day-to-day life of all of our people. And it’s a little bit of…it becomes an expectation. So, if you’re not doing it, we have the language to kind of talk to each other about it or call each other out on it. And, you know, and that’s been incredibly powerful.

WLP: That’s really good. So, I’m curious, couple things I run into in the corporate world is working vacation. They’re called vacations.

Jen: Pretend time off.

WLP: That’s a… Say more.

Jen: Well, you know, PTO is, personal time off. So, pretend time off is…

WLP: That’s good.

Jen: You know, when you’re taking time off, but you’re actually still connected to work.

WLP: I’m writing that one down. That’s a really good one. Okay. So, what I find fun about that one is…So, I find it fascinating to me that the more I have achieved in my career, and the more, you know, if you just…form a hierarchy standpoint of chain of command, you know, the higher up on the ladder I climbed, the less rest I was permitted, and the more work responsibility thrown at me. And I just thought it was fascinating, I was like, “So, really timeout. So, I worked all these years to get to where I am, and yet you’re asking the most from me that I’ve ever been asked for collectively in the most amount of people, the most amount of influence. And yet, I actually get the least amount of rest, recharge fuel to be able to fund these things?” And it was Kinda like, “Well, yeah, that’s the gig. Welcome to your promotion.” And I just found it really fascinating. Like, “No, you don’t understand. You guys, this doesn’t work for anybody.”

Whether they say it does or not, doesn’t matter. I’m just telling you at a human fundamental level. We’re not robots. So, we have to somehow plan for and account for the fact that we’re not robotic. So, how can we do both? How can we get the right things done, which may mean we do a fewer of them better? And then how can we then plan into culture, which I think it needs a lead from the top, but also needs a lead in every level? Where we’re saying, “No, this is the more productive, sustainable, fruitful way of being to actually produce more consistently the results we’re looking for, versus sporadically the results that we hope for.”

Jen: I’m gonna be totally transparent and say that you know, that kind of notion of, you know, describing, you know, “You’ve done an incredible job. We’re gonna promote you, and here’s your reward for promotion. We’re gonna give you more to do,” certainly still exists. One of the things that I like to talk about, which kind of goes back to what you were saying earlier, is have the courage to do less. And so, even though we might be given a bigger role and more responsibility, I think that as a leader, and really kind of as any individual professional, number one, we, I think have more power to do less than we believe that we do. And so, it actually takes courage, not necessarily power. So, kind of look at all of the things that you are always saying yes to.

And really, instead of saying, you know, “I can’t say no,” Say, “Why am I saying…?” You know, ask yourself, “Why am I saying yes to this?” Or, “Why do I feel like I need to say yes to this?” Stop for that second instead of playing the accept button and say, “Is this the right thing to do? Is this the right way to spend my time? Is there someone else that can, you know, help with this, or are there right people already connected, and they can update me?” So, I think some of it is letting go, and making sure you have the right team around you that you trust. But also just evaluating what the team is working on, and saying, “Okay, do we really need to be doing all of these things, or are there some that, you know, just because we’ve been doing it this way for the past 15 years, do we need to continue to keep doing it this way.”

Does it make sense for us to keep doing this? And have the courage to, you know, to do less, and to say no to some things. And that’s really hard. I mean, it’s still hard for me today. I love what I do. I’m incredibly passionate about it, but I quite often, you know, have to check myself or have people on my team, you know, send me a note. They do, they send me emails that say like, what have you said no to this week?

WLP: Oh, that’s nice.

Jen: You know, because I fall into the same trap. And it’s hard. Having the courage to say less for yourself, and then also as a leader for your team, and to be open and honest about it. People are really appreciative. I mean, when you send a note back, or you call someone up, and say, “Look, I really can’t make it because X, Y, and Z,” Whatever the reasons are, I think people are really receptive, or they are now. Really receptive, and kind of respectful of that. And in some ways, I think relieved because it gives them permission to do the same.

But also, I mean, you don’t want somebody to show up at your event, or your meeting that’s not engaged, or that multitasking, or that just doesn’t wanna be there because that impacts everyone. And even being on a call. There’s nothing worse than, you know, being on a call and you’re talking about somebody, and you ask somebody their opinion, and you can just tell they weren’t paying attention. They’re like, “Oh, wait, can you…?”

WLP: Can you say that again?

Jen: You know, “I’m sorry.” Yeah, like, “It cut out. Can you say that again?” Or, you know, like something wasn’t working, you know. So, I mean, that’s not really productive for what you’re trying to accomplish or for them. And so, I think we need to let people off the hook as well.

WLP: That’s really good. So, I wanna kinda just go by as a fly-by on my notes I’ve taken here from listening to you. So, thanks for really going deep with us, and getting us practical. First, hear you saying is, it starts with really starting to be honest with yourself, and that may not be the easiest for a lot of us high-performing folks. So, there also tends to be probably people around us that actually genuinely do care about us, whether at home or at work to have our…you can tell. They’re vested in our best interest. And so, if they’re starting to provide some feedback, and some questioning, and some caution that those cautions are really worth taking a hard look at. And what I heard you say too early on is just this fear of failure that can drive so much. Just recently, through a program I was in the summer, they were talking about reliability, and that one of the things they were helping me with was thinking through the way I can struggle with reliability. And what I’m learning more about myself in this is that I can get things good enough, or I say, “Well, but you don’t understand. This gray thing happened that, you know, made this thing where I couldn’t get it done on time, but I pushed it two weeks.” And what I really look at just as objectively, if, like, “You know, I’m not actually consistently reliable.” And so, one of the things that they were helping me through is that, well, if you said no more often, if you signed up for less if you…and kind of coaching me through that thinking of, could you become more reliable?

And I was like, “Oh my gosh, yes, absolutely.” So, it was really helping me name the very thing that I wanna be, which is reliable, is the very thing I’m choosing not to be, by trying to come through all the time, or take on one more thing or underestimate the level of effort required. So, really helped me say, “Ah, okay, hold on. Who do I really wanna be?”

And so, I love this journey that you went on and asking this question, who is Jen Fischer wanna be? And I find that a lot of times that people, as they’re working through their career, their life, it just all happens so fast that if it isn’t for the pain of burnout that, unfortunately, I mean, I ask those questions, but I just was really arrogant as what it comes down to. I just really believed at the heart of it is I could do more than anybody else, until I got to a place where I had to ask that question and say, “Timeout, what do I really wanna be about here? What’s my work? What’s the impact of my work gonna be? Is it my inbox needs to be at zero all the time? Do I read every email, or do I just batch or archive?” Like, “Come on, how can I do this differently?” That’s gonna allow for me to fail in ways that I would have formally defined it that way. But now I realize that was crazy. I attempted to do that in the first place. So, I hear you talk a lot about just getting clear about your limitations.

Jen: And, you know, I mean, I regularly ask myself that question, who does Jen Fischer want to be? And that’s kind of my…that’s my check in with myself. Like, “Is what I’m doing aligned with, you know, how I defined who I wanna be?” Like, “What’s important to me?” You know, you can call it your purpose. But, you know, when I feel like I’m getting too fragmented, or I’m out of sorts, or I’m, you know, I’m way over-stressed, or, you know, there’s just too much going on and it doesn’t feel right, I mean, I sit down, and I’m like, “Okay, who does Jen Fischer wanna be?” And I kind of, you know, like, I try to tie those things back, and that also is really helpful way to say no. And, you know, I mean, every once in a while, I will say yes to something because it sounds good, and it’s six months out, and there’s nothing on my calendar, you know.

WLP: Yeah, right.

Jen: And then, I get about a month or three weeks out, and I’m starting to look at what I’ve committed to on my calendar, and I’m going, “Oh, my God, how am I gonna be in like six cities in five days? I’m not gonna show up at my best. I’m not gonna be who these people are expecting me to be, and I’m not gonna end up happy with the way that I showed up.” And then I ended up canceling, right? And so, maybe that’s the same thing that you were talking about in terms of reliability, right? Because then I’ve let these people down when I told them six months ago that, you know, I was gonna do something, right? And so, you know, I think the further something out is, you’re kind of like, “Oh yeah, it sounds interesting. I can do it.”

But then when it kind of comes around, and you’re like, “Okay, wait, why did I commit to that?” So, you’re not really doing anyone a favor. You’re not helping yourself, and you’re not helping the person that you said yes to. And so, I kind of try to always tie back to that. Okay, how does this align with who Jen Fisher wants to be? How does it…? And, you know, who Jen Fisher want to be, evolve, and I’ve been changed over time? Absolutely. But it’s kind of a consistent thing that I can tie back to when things feel like they’re getting too crazy for me.

WLP: That’s so good. Super helpful. And then, the other thing that I really love, you’re saying, is just kind of constantly asking this question, how do I wanna show up?

Jen: Yeah.

WLP: What version of me will be available and present at this thing or that thing, this commitment that I’m signing up for? And I find that I want to be really helpful to say, “Do I want the guy who’s out of gas, frustrated, and secretly wondering how long this is gonna last so I can get out of here?” Or I’ll let the guy to be fully charged, excited, well-rested and really being strategic about. So, I have a gig at the end of this week where I’ll be with clients, and will have a chance to actually talk about some of this burnout story as well. And one of the things I’m really looking at is how can I make sure I front-load, and pre-charge to be ready for the energy expenditure that will require of me so that I show up and I’m proud of how I’m showing up?

And then I know the results are so much better. But when I just kind of show up, fielding everything as it comes all day every day, then I tend to not do my best, and then I’m not proud of it, and it’s just the cyclical cycle. So, the last thing I’d love to just ask you is, as you talked about these little embedding bite-size bits, so you mentioned walking meetings is one of the ones that you threw out as an example. What are some other just kind of practical specifics that you recommend people can consider for starting with those bite-size embedding morsels you mentioned?

Jen: So, I think, for the most part, a lot of us live and die by what’s on our calendar each day. And so, one of the things that I recommend, and try to practice myself is 25 and 50-minute meetings, or 20 and 45-minute meetings, whatever you think the right amount of time is for you. But, you know, the purpose behind being that, you know, I think oftentimes we wake up in the morning and look at our calendars, and we’re flat out, back to back, to back, to back, to back, all-day-long. And, you know, based on everything we’ve talked about up to this point, that doesn’t work. So, if you start instituting these shorter meetings, 25 or 50 minutes or whatever time period is, it allows you that time in between meetings to quite frankly get up and go to the bathroom, or you know, get up and get a snack, or, you know, close the chapter on the call that you just, had and take a few deep breaths, and, you know, re-center yourself and kind of get prepared to show up for the next call. So, you’re not ending one call and kind of diving into the next call, and being like, you know, getting on the call and being like, “Wait, what are we talking about? Who’s here? Why am I doing this?” Which I’m certainly guilty of. I think a lot of us are.

So, that’s been an incredible best practice, I think for me, and for a lot of my colleagues. And I think at first it feels a little bit weird, and you’ll be like, “Oh, well, you know, we’re at the end of our calls, but we have five more minutes, so we can keep going.” So, I think that you have to stick to it because, like anything, it’s easy to just blow past it, and be like, “Oh, the conversation’s good, so we’ll keep going.” But you have to really train yourself to say, “No, I actually really only have 25 minutes, and I’m gonna respect the five minutes or the 10 minutes that I’d given myself to take a breather, and move to my next call, or my next meeting.”

So, I think that that has been really powerful. I think anything that you can do as a team, or a group of people where you can hold each other accountable is a really powerful thing to do. Whether that, you know, be something that’s physical exercise in nature, or, you know, a kind of a team meditation challenge, or just, you know, getting together as a group of people on kind of stating one thing that you want to accomplish over the next three months and checking in with each other to see how it’s going. I also block time on my calendar, so couple of weeks ahead of time I’ll start looking out at my calendar, and if it’s starting to get really full, I will take the time that is available, and I’ll just block it so that it looks like it’s booked. And that time is for me to decide what to do with, you know, I sometimes I use it for quiet, focused work.

Sometimes I use it for a reflection, you know. But I use it in a myriad of different ways. But that way at least I have blocked that time, and I don’t end up in that situation where it’s this constant back to back, to back meeting. And if somebody asks me for some time, you know, more often than not, we find a time to make it work. But at least the conversation has kind of been had instead of, you know, somebody else determining what goes on your calendar and when. So, I think that that has, you know, really been powerful because it just that 10-second pause where you say, “Okay, do I need to take this meeting at this exact time, which means I’m gonna be on calls or in meetings for six hours straight, or is there another time that I can do it?”

It kind of goes back to that same thing we were talking about. It’s that automatic yes, right? And so, it’s not necessarily about, you know, you don’t always have to say no, but you can say, “Is there a better way or is there a different time that can, where we can, you know, we can accomplish what both of us are trying to accomplish?” And 99% of the time, I will tell you that the answer is yes. It’s just you need to take that pause to say, “Okay, wait. Before I hit accept, or before I say yes, is yes the right answer? And if yes is the right answer, does it have to be on this exact day, and at this exact time, or can it be at a different time that is perhaps better for me?” And then you’re gonna get a better version of me as well.

I mean, I think those are some really practical things, and they’re also within our control, right? So, there doesn’t have to be this big huge organizational change for these things to happen. You can just do them on your own, and then it’s really powerful to start sharing them with your teams and other people that you work with because they think that there’s power. And, you know, kind of if you’re a leader, you’re giving permission, but also just helping other people find solutions because we’re all struggling with the same thing. Every single one of us.

WLP: So good. Well, I love what I hear, the net of what you’re saying, that under-guards it all. You used the word earlier as courage. And so, really is this kind of developing this muscle of courage, so just have these conversations. They’re kind of not that big of a deal when you begin to have them. But when you’re never having them, and you’re just fielding it all as it comes, then it just ends up with a result that we’ve talked through. So, thanks, Jen for leading us. It’s super fun, and I love the conversation and love the work you’re up to. So, where can listeners follow up and find more of your work?

Jen: So, you can follow me on twitter, Jenfish23. Also, I am the host of a podcast. It’s called “WorkWell” by Deloitte. “WorkWell” is all one word. So, we have a handful of episodes. They’re out and more to come. And so, those are two great ways to find me and to follow along more, and what I’m doing. But thank you for having me. This has been a great conversation. I feel like we could keep going for hours.

WLP: Agreed, just get burned out and come back. Yeah, let’s make it over an adult beverage the next time.

Jen: That sounds awesome. I welcome that.