Evolving your leadership through a writing practice with Alyssa Burkus

ON THIS EPISODE

Writing about trauma isn’t easy. It’s a big, heavy word. But I wanted it to feel more accessible so people can relate it to their own work. Writing a book can feel like your thoughts are a jumble of puzzle pieces and sometimes, you need someone to help you to fit them all together.

This is what Alyssa helped me with and I jokingly call her my book doula. We went through alternating levels of confidence when working on the book and experienced deep feeling, thinking and learning together. It helped me realise that writing is not only therapeutic but a way to self-regulate and raise your self-awareness.

ABOUT THE GUEST
Alyssa Burkus

Alyssa Burkus is the founder of Shift Wisdom, a content agency that helps consultants and coaches publish thought leadership articles that lead to growth.

Writing has always been part of her work — from ghostwriting for senior leaders as they launched their change programs, to writing prep materials to intrigue attendees ahead of workshops, to managing Actionable.co’s collection of thought leadership content. Now she uses her 20+ years of knowledge and experience to create compelling content in the “world of work” space.

SHOW NOTES

I invite any leader to introduce writing habits into their work. We discussed topics such as the process of writing my book, how our partnership evolved, the benefits of writing and what habits you can incorporate to self-regulate.  

We discuss:

  • Going from editor to reader mode when working on the book and using it as a learning experience.

  • Our writing partnership turned into a thinking partnership.

  • The metacognitive benefits of writing about your thoughts and opinions to help manage stress and understand ourselves.

  • Writing habits leaders can incorporate into their routine to self-regulate and connect more deeply with their team.

  • Integrating our head, our body and our heart and how they are part of the Evolve leadership model.

TRANSCRIPT
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Carolyn Swora  04:26

Hello, evolve listeners. We’ve got another podcast for you this week. And today is a very, very special guest. I mean, all the guests I have on are special. But Alyssa Berkus is an extra special guest and you’re gonna find out why. Alisa Welcome to the show. Hi, it’s great to be here. Now Alyssa is really just a few kilometers away, but we are doing this virtually. So we’re both coming to you from just outside of Toronto. And you might be wondering why Alyssa is an extra special guest for me. And the reason why she’s an extra special guest and why I have her on just before the book launch is Alyssa basically helped me pull myself back together from the 1000 pieces that I fell apart into while writing this book, literally and figuratively. So I wanted to bring Alyssa onto the show. One to share that experience about what it was like to help me sort of pull things back together. And make this book what it is because it would not have been anywhere remotely near to what it is without your help in assembling a few things. And and then we’re going to talk a little bit afterwards just about the power of writing and how it can help leaders so so yeah, I’ve just kind of up and settled there. Where do you want to hop in?

Alyssa Burkus  06:22

Um, well, why don’t we start at the beginning? Why don’t we talk a little bit about how we came to work together.

Carolyn Swora  06:28

How I cried and cried on that walk.

Alyssa Burkus  06:32

I wasn’t gonna go there. But yeah, I mean that. Yeah, I think it was interesting. So sometimes, for people who don’t know me, I am a writer and I’m also writing coach and off. Usually I’m involved in a project at the beginning. Of a project and this time with you, it felt like I was coming in. After the opening credits of the movie, the first to 15 minutes had started and I was stepping into some existing work, which was a little different for me. What’s interesting, right, yeah, no.

Carolyn Swora  07:17

Yeah, so like, Alyssa, listen, I you know, we’re friends outside of this, you know, partnership, this writing partnership, and we just we’ve gone on a walk and I had you know, been working on this for about a year and was just at a real point. And I remember going home from that lock thinking, Oh, my gosh, why did I figure this out earlier? So you know, as you said, the opening credits had started. I’d put together a lot of stuff but it didn’t. It didn’t have the structure that I knew it needed. And that’s that’s where you’re, you know, you so beautifully stepped in and I know it was it was a new, it was new to come in at that point in the process for you, correct?

Alyssa Burkus  07:59

Yeah, yeah. I mean, sometimes I’m involved at the at the end of the writing phase where people will ask me to help with editing. Sometimes there’s a bit of structure thinking and work at that at that stage, but I’m involved either at the very beginning, or the beginning ish. Often. The author has been thinking and noodling. And maybe sort of sketching some outlines for a while. But earlier on in the project, or after the initial draft is done, we will work together to clean it out, maybe move some things around, put some polish on and that sort of thing. Or I’m the writer doing you know, the full writing of, of whatever that looks like. And so, in this case, I needed to understand you had written a fair bit that was actually almost a completely different book initially and then, and then you had taken that writing and started to rework it into the early stages of this book. And I guess my recollection was, you got a little stuck right? Majorly? Yeah, because you had all these great ideas. There needed to be it was a it was a meaty topic, right. And you wanted to bring people through the topic in a way that would feel approachable and allow them to your reader to sort of step into the work with you and actually be able to action, some of it right because people hear trauma and they think this massive, heavy, difficult thing and you wanted to make that topic more accessible to people so that they could start to look at that differently in their own work. Yeah. And so you had a big mandate and lots of content and experience and wanting to work with somebody to bring that to life in a way that resonated in what you had in your head.

Carolyn Swora  10:10

So it was a big topic. That’s

Alyssa Burkus  10:13

my recollection. Yeah. Yeah.

Carolyn Swora  10:15

No, I mean, I’m on the same page. It was it was a it was a busy summer last summer for you and I what I mean, it’s a big topic, and and you know, wasn’t going to be just anybody that I thought could do that. That was probably why I was carrying a lot of that burden to thinking who who can see this the way that I see it because I knew where I want to go. I didn’t necessarily know how to articulate that and you did such a beautiful job of taking all of these different thoughts that I had and and sort of the the jumble of puzzle pieces. And and, you know, put the outside border like you just put it together and structured it in a way. I’m curious what what gave you the belief that that topic was something that you and I could approach together? Because that’s that was it? That was a big topic?

Alyssa Burkus  11:14

Yeah. Yeah. I think from from the starting point perspective, I mean, frankly, initially, and you know, this, I wasn’t, I wasn’t sure, right. It was, it was big, and heavy topic. I don’t have a trauma informed background. And so, initially, I remember thinking, Yeah, I’m not sure right. But I didn’t say that to you because I want to, I wanted to process it. What I realized is, so my background is in leadership and organizational change before I came into writing. And so as we had the conversation, and I understood the content that you wanted to bring to life, the pieces that you were looking to knit together, it struck me that first of all, your depth of knowledge on the topic and the work that you had done, the it was there, so I could see where you wanted to go with it. And it just felt and still feels really important. I think people don’t understand this topic enough. They struggle with it. It manifests in so many different ways in the workforce. And so, if this could be a book that would help people, I just became really excited about the idea of being involved in a project. And I sounds a bit corny, but I sort of trusted that we would figure it out. You’re good at what you do. I knew that we could put a process in place that would allow us to move through the content and get get through the other side. And I think at a certain point, we just both sort of said okay, let’s let’s start and see see what happens. Yep.

Carolyn Swora  13:05

And I think absolutely, I did trust that. And there were certain areas where you carried me through and there are certain areas where I carried you through or just I shouldn’t say carried each other but like where we went through like alternating levels of of sort of confidence in the process. And you know, as we went through this and, and built this together. We really practice what we were talking about in the book as well. Which I think was really was really remarkable. Is there anything you want to like highlight on that like what what stood out for you?

Alyssa Burkus  13:40

Well, as you were saying the ups and downs I was thinking yeah, co you know, we were self regulating, co regulating as we went through that I wouldn’t have called it that initially. But we definitely could see that playing out as we were writing about it. We both went through phases. I mean different things happening in our lives, and any number of other variables in a creative endeavor. You go through the whole roller coaster of doubt of I don’t know what I’m doing. I know I went through that. I don’t know how much I shared maybe at times, but I also needed to do my job through this and figure some of my own thinking out in order to end. Yeah, and I think I in reading about some of the deeply personal stories that you share in the book. It also brought up for me a number of traumatic things that I’ve gone through and so I found myself moving in between, you know, editor mode or in places where I was adding some some writing also thinking about my own trauma, so almost being as a reader and then as a processor and thinking about how I would apply it in my own life or start to use it to think differently about certain situations. So I was learning content, you know, working with you bringing my work into it and my experience so it was a really unique experience from from that perspective, and a really unique project. Yes, great.

Carolyn Swora  15:24

And I know there were there were certainly times several times along the way where you know, I I was able to lean into conversations with you that in the past would have scared the heck out of me. So really modeling vulnerability and but again that trust and that faith that that we had in each other that you know, your od organizational development and behavior change background was really important for me because, you know, we both know this topic we didn’t want to be light about it. We didn’t want to be flippant about it. We wanted to be kind with it, but real. Yeah. And yeah, and you you really you were able to bring both lenses to that being like personal and also like organizationally as well. Yeah.

Alyssa Burkus  16:13

Yeah, it’s unique. I mean, I don’t think it’s true in every writing partnership situation. Sometimes. Clearly, the author is the only domain expert, the writer is just the translator really and I loved that we started considering or talking about the our working relationship as sort of a thinking partnership because it allowed us to dig even further, I think into the content really tested out loud. Yep. You had said to me, you know, at different points you were able to sort of talk things out loud and, and work through things I think in a different way then, perhaps a different kind of writer, which, in some cases, other forms of writing partnerships are exactly what you need, right? strictly a translator, this contents locked, you can go down that path. So it’s not to say that I’m not trying to say one is better than the other. But I think that for people who are looking to choose somebody to work with in a writing partnership of any form, understanding what you’re meeting out of that partner, and whether that domain knowledge is important is a consideration. I think that not everybody is aware they can even even consider right that there is that additional element to bring into the work.

Carolyn Swora  17:42

Yeah. Now, the output obviously is evolve evolves being released in a short week. 25th I know. I’ve joked I’ve called you my book doula, helping birthdays things but yeah, it really it could not have come together in this in this beautiful way. Because that walk that we were on, where I broke down and cried and I knew what it could be. And I just didn’t know how to find myself to or how to find my way there. And so what I’ve learned through this is for me, writing is a team sport, which I should know because I don’t I didn’t play a lot of like, single sports. It was for me, it was always a team. And so that was that was a big eye opener for me and also how therapeutic writing was. So I want to circle back to you remember I said earlier how we really practiced what we were talking about. And and so this notion of writing. How does that help leaders

Alyssa Burkus  18:50

Yeah. It it’s interesting. So in my writing business, I started out everything was writing for you. And I really thought that all of my work would be being the voice for leaders. It’s my it’s my background and you know, in corporate change all that sort of thing. But what I’ve realized is even if a leader has someone who does that writing for them, right share, you know, the, the emails that you’re missing, or the more certainly that AI starts to play into it. Right in terms of taking some of those writing steps piece of thinking while writing gets missed as a result, and it’s real. There’s so many benefits if you start to dig into science around the sort of metacognitive benefits of thinking about what we think about for some people sitting down to write helps them figure out what they actually think about a topic. You’ll go into a situation and think, Oh, I know start to finish what I’m going to say what’s important here, and then you can quickly see where your argument starts to fall apart when you can’t substantiate it as you try to try to write it out. So great. You’re sort of thinking as you write. There’s all kinds of, you know, research around connections with logic with unlocking trauma, which is some of the connections that we talked about. And it was important to you to have practices towards the end of the book that would help people understand you know, what you meant by self regulation in particular, and even co regulation or some of the self awareness pieces writing can kind of play out in a number of those different ways. Yep. There’s data on the connection with writing or expressive writing and trauma, any number of benefits to the leader from a personal or individual perspective? Whether or not you ever published that writing to your team? internally in your organization? Maybe you don’t for a period of time. Maybe it’s strictly just something for you that allows you to analyze your thinking and figure out what you next say next. can be really, really helpful.

Carolyn Swora  21:16

Well, and this was like a huge eye opener for me. How could I unlock stuff that was going on in my head? Yeah. And you know, the first the first version of this book and I talk a little bit about about it. Can’t remember if it was the I think it was at the beginning and the end, you know, this this book, in its first form was a very different book. It was a memoir. And it was a letter to my sons, and it was called the perfect widow. So it was very memoir esque. And I couldn’t believe the things that were coming out of me as I was writing now to be fair, I ordered a lot of it or voice memos, a lot of it and then printed it out and edited it from there, but it was the act of getting things out. And until I could see it on paper and and then write more about it. It just helped me process on such a different level. It was it was quite astounding. And and for some of you out there who might you might be like me, or it’s like well, I’m not going to journal I’m not going to write because what if I don’t write this the right thing and what if it’s not in the right order? You know, just that free? Flow? Expressive Writing just helped me sort of loosen that belief pattern.

Alyssa Burkus  22:34

Yeah. It’s interesting, isn’t it? how that how that can play out. I want to clarify when I talk about writing for yourself, there is certainly journaling as one practice for what writing can look like. There’s a million journaling prompts you can find online. Some of those questions relate to what you’re thinking and feeling and a particular moment or moments that that’s passed. You can also do writing that is work related or more immediate if you imagine writing said look like a blog post maybe never publish it, but you’re helping think through like about a topic and I’ll podcast recently where they were talking about discipline is a choice. And I was really because I have chronic illness issues. In my mind. Discipline isn’t always a choice that that’s actually a privileged perspective, an ableist perspective around discipline and so it was all worked up and ready to fire off a voice memo to the podcast hosts and I decided to write about it and I wrote the conclusion first because I was so sure that I knew what I thought about the situation. But as I actually unpacked the topic for myself, I realized it’s much more nuanced than that. There are things we can choose to be disciplined about that aren’t necessarily in the soul culture definition of discipline, but are actually rhythms and routines that we can put in place. So it’s a long answer to say, and I haven’t published that anywhere. I made some point but it helped me think differently about a situation that I was already to fire off and get worked up about but actually created it out to us. What what you talk about in the book, right? self regulation, it was a call. It ended up being a calming exercise. It opened new thinking and allowed me to not engage many multiple people in an angry discussion. Because I actually realized my initial reaction wasn’t necessarily fair.

Carolyn Swora  24:42

Oh, there’s so much there, right? Like when when when we think of the, you know, the model, and again, you were so instrumental in helping build that evolve model like when I shared the ideas and you came back with a two by two I was like, Oh, damn, yeah, that’s what it looks like. You know, reactivity was its core and fundamental for for leaders, let alone you know, anybody in society right when you just look at the vitriol and just the divisive pneus. A lot of it is built on our impulse, our reactivity pattern. And so what I’m hearing you say and what I’ve learned as well is that writing can be a way to help us understand ourselves our thinking, and give us a bit of space to process so that we can respond with intention and purpose versus reacting with fear and anger. And, hey, it’s still fine to honor those emotions. But let’s process them first. And if we want to release that, then at least we’re being mindful of releasing the anger and the fear versus that, you know, flippant reaction.

Alyssa Burkus  25:51

Yeah, yeah. I there’s been so many leaders I’ve worked with in past work lives who would blow up in a meeting and then later come back to the team and say, hey, you know, I think I, I, you know, I overreacted there or apologize. I you know, I was fired up. Let’s, you know, begin to process and how great would and, you know, if you think about that model of the erratic right and that environment that it creates where people are on edge worrying about what’s going to happen next, you have to be ready for any number of responses. I know I’ve been in those situations of constant eggshells, and the stress that gets ratcheted up is really, really difficult for a team so if you have a mechanism to process those emotions, I mean, it’s not completely we have situations that we react to it, that even in that moment, you can pause and say, I need to reflect on this for a little bit or maybe reflect isn’t the word you use. I need to think more about this before we can start to move into thinking about what the solutions are give me 24 hours to sit with this. Yeah, and then no, you’re gonna use that writing practice. It might be as simple as pros and cons list right off the side of your desk or something but knowing you have a routine or a practice or ritual that helps de escalate the emotions to allow you to really think differently about the topic can be hugely helpful for you and your team.

Carolyn Swora  27:23

And so one of the key themes in the book is this notion of integration, and integrating our our head, our heart and our body. So you know, we call them the centers of intelligence. And we need to have practices that allow us to do that. Because there’s so much that goes on, in in our system that we don’t have cognitive control over. And so again, you know, for me, who has resisted writing for so long, I mean, the fact that I’ve actually published two books kind of makes me giggle. I’m sure my high school English teacher would just laugh out loud because I was not an English student, a good English student. But this, we have to give ourselves space to be able to integrate these these three aspects of ourselves and so, you know, the whole one of the main reasons we wanted to talk today to is to really emphasize that writing is a phenomenal tool for leaders to self regulate, to deepen self awareness. And so what kind of practices would you suggest because obviously, not everyone’s gonna go write a book and have it published. But what are some things that you work on with your clients that help them integrate this as a practice?

Alyssa Burkus  28:40

Yeah. There’s probably two kinds of writing that come to mind. There’s the writing that you are publishing externally to build authority for your organization or your career. And that’s a little bit different. I mean, there’s writing practices that we do there. It’s what I do on my course. Like it’s the process really, it’s a habit right? of writing consistently or daily getting some notes on paper. For a leader who’s looking to use writing for their own thinking process. It’s a little bit longer in that the setting aside five or 10 minutes to write each day, whether it’s beginning of the day or the end of the day, capturing your thoughts in the moment can be a tool that helps you land on what some of the deeper priorities I guess are or then the moments to reflect on or the things that you want to really emphasize with your team

Carolyn Swora  29:42

like to get through the noise type thing like to realize what the important stuff is. Okay. The example

Alyssa Burkus  29:46

I always use with people is so many times as leaders, we get to the end of the year, we’ve got those year end performance reviews, which I know is a whole topic shouldn’t bring up with you but for many litres is a reality, once a year, we have to sit down and write the reviews. And more often than not, they’re based on the last month or six weeks of working with the person you can maybe think of some random highlights through the year but more often than not, it’s kind of fuzzy up until October. And then some things start to come into focus. And the same is true week to week. But if you can create a process of capturing some notes through the week, and then sharing those back out with your team, you are benefiting from the thinking process you do yourself through the week, but then there’s a co regulation element that kicks into gear where your team is hearing from you about topics that are important that they want to hear from you on, their anxiety goes up and they fill in blanks if they if there’s gaps, right if they don’t hear on a topic, they’re going to draw their own conclusions. Sometimes those conclusions are extreme are dire. And so you’re you’re helping co regulate within your team to share out your thoughts. And that isn’t just a sunshine and roses Yay team here’s all the good things you do it can I worked with a leader years ago who would every Friday send an email to his team with some notes about observations from the week maybe a big meeting he was in that he was sharing some thoughts from what was discussed in that room that they wouldn’t have access to, but also observations if there was an issue that happened in a project sharing, you know, he knows about it, he knows these things had happened. And he hopes these additional things are being put into place to make sure that doesn’t happen again. Everybody it’s not an easy topic to hear about already kind of goes okay. That’s what we need to do. Everybody can kind of walk to work can be really great access to to get into habit and routine to with your team.

Carolyn Swora  31:55

You know what what comes up for me when you say that? It brings it back to like 20 years ago, very often in our workplaces. But I remember this sort of practice of sharing with your team. What happened at the leadership team meeting that you were at, and it became like it became to be honest, like a checkbox like Oh, I must report on this like it became very much it became mechanical. And and what I’m hearing you say though, with this writing practice is it’s not a let me just barf out the facts that I saw this week or you know, we had a meeting here. It’s it’s really sharing with your team. Some of the things that you’re processing some of the things that are top of mind for you. And you know, the ability to pause and reflect and think is such an under underrated it’s not even the right word under utilized skill, or we just don’t we we aren’t making spaces in our day for it. Because we are really hooked into that productivity myth, chapter seven, by the way in the upcoming book. And so hearing those examples of of business leaders who use writing as a tool to be able to create that consistency and safety with their teams. I think there’s so much space for that so much opportunity for that.

Alyssa Burkus  33:20

Yeah, I agree. And, you know, your mention of the part of your writing process was using otter I think is great showing people that there are tools that if you don’t feel like a natural writer, you sit down to an email feels like a blank page and you get overwhelmed. If you can use a tool like voice memo or otter where you are saying some of the things that come to mind or maybe it’s Siri as to my notes and you collect them later. There’s tools that can help natural like your example about the checks is probably because it doesn’t come to visuals and so they’re relying on a template. It may be use a template says I’m going to share these three kinds of things each week, but the more you can write, you know, share in the moment things that are timely and that are important to you. The more that will come through I believe with the team.

Carolyn Swora  34:18

So what advice would you share with anybody listening now about how to use a writing process or how to use writing to navigate through change? Because you know, we no change is not ever going to stop?

Alyssa Burkus  34:35

Yeah, and it feels like the conversation. The conversations I have with people and with their with their clients is often it just feels like the level of uncertainty has ratcheted up more in the months in the last year. You know, the, the example I always think of is the whiplash of one month. We’re talking about their great resignation wherever he came on leaving, and then weeks later, massive tech layoffs, right. And so it just feels like things are still uneven. I don’t know whether it’s, you know, still fears about coat with a COVID and that sort of thing. So, writing can become that steady anchor through whatever uncertainty your team is facing, if they know you’re going to communicate with them every Friday. They come to look forward to that it’s going to get that or maybe it’s daily, maybe there’s a quick email you send out daily during times of particular differdange and I appreciate that. Writings difficult for people to send your shirt to your team. I’m not talking about to that every week. It’s beautiful punctuation and you know hyperlinks to 50 Keep it short and sweet. It can be bullet points, whatever style feels consistent with you but something that becomes regular and that isn’t created by the team comms person or other people in the change programs who are available to do that writing that writing is important and they can do their part of it. But writing can become that anchor for a team of really kind of grounding into we know there’s 50 priorities. Here’s the three that are really going to help us get through these next two weeks. hit reply let me know like whatever dynamic

Carolyn Swora  36:34

so I could write an email to the amazing team that is helped me bring this book into the world and just share a few thoughts. Like I could do that right away.

Alyssa Burkus  36:47

Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. I’ve seen some leaders who will drop an article in there you know, it’s almost like a newsletter, right? If you think about not with the pressure of a newsletter with fancy visuals and you know, all that stuff, but if there’s something great you read, include that with a hyperlink. If it’s something you want your team to be reading, they want to get in your head they don’t have even if you feel like you sit side by side with them, which I appreciate in a hybrid. More and more hybrid spaces is a virtual side by side. Yeah, they want to know what’s in your head. What are you seeing what can you expose them to that helps them think differently about their work? Yeah. How can you reassure them, how can you show them there’s things you’re doing that might be invisible? to them that are helping move the team forward? How can you explain something that seems like it doesn’t make sense and they’re trying to wrap their head around how they’re getting this message over here? They’re hearing this from their clients? How do you put those things together? Those are all things that you can share in a written form that feels different than live talking in a team meeting. I don’t know there’s something about writing maybe I’m I’m I appreciate I’m a little biased about the power of writing a small bias there. But it also in some cases is new medium right to sort of change up show your team. This was important enough for me to take the time to put in writing I’m not just sort of talking off the top of my head

Carolyn Swora  38:21

I’ve at a team meeting right well I took the time to share this with you, as somebody who likes to talk off the top of my head and just show up and, you know, again, that was a great balance between the two of you, the two of us when we were, you know, partnering on this project is it does stop it does stop me and allow me to be more intentional and mindful. And I’d say probably a little bit less flippant with some of the comments that I might make. And again, I’ll come back to integration. Yes, I don’t consider myself somebody who goes to writing first. But for me have that integration between three centers. I need to create a little bit of space allow that processing so it’s, it’s it’s a really, really useful tool. And I would be encouraged you know if of those people who are listening leader formalized or not, how can you use writing to help deepen your self awareness and and that in turn can lead to some self regulation and CO regulation and why we keep talking about those three things are the three principles of the evolved leadership model. Any last pieces of advice out there when it comes to writing and being an evolved leader that you want to share?

Alyssa Burkus  39:47

So on the writing front, people can get really stuck in their heads that there’s only one right way I don’t know if it came from English teachers in sixth grade or

Carolyn Swora  40:02

oh my gosh, I can’t believe you said sixth grade because my was like Miss Tracy and she we were convinced she was making up words on our spelling test. But that’s so funny. You said oh, sorry.

Alyssa Burkus  40:13

Back to horrible moments. Yeah. Well, in spelling, I mean to see your reaction. I hear that all the time. People freeze at the idea of sharing things in writing. And so I would just invite you to play around with it a little bit. See what comes up for you try a little bit of writing on your own. Imagine sending an email to your team. If you don’t send any ever sending one this week and just a couple of observations and see what happens. See if you get a reaction even if you don’t hear anything back, see how it felt for yourself. Are you more collected in your thoughts? Do you feel clearer about the direction you’re setting? What what’s showing up and sort of invite observation in terms of the evolved side? It’s step it’s, I guess, experimenting a little bit and also maybe a little more observing right around? Where would I benefit from better self regulation? Where do I find things getting out of control? Are there particular situations? Often it’s also particular individuals that you know, kind of change our moment when you’re with somebody to find a practice that helps you stay more regulated in those situations, so that you can be that person helping keep the other person in the conversation and by the way, this is true in life as well as work right. So if I think about if you’re a parent, if you’re helping an aging parent, if any number of other life dynamics, the same principles around co regulation, self regulation apply, right, so just kind of catching yourself in the moment and doing a little observing, maybe playing with a few of the practices that you know, you talk about in the book and see, see how you feel I know for myself it helped me work through some some difficult situations that I didn’t realize I hadn’t fully processed for myself. And so and I think, you know, together you and I did some of that too. You could just see we’re not to sound too corny about this, you know, this book, but I really, I believe in it and and the work. If you test around or play with it, you can really see some interesting things

Carolyn Swora  42:47

unfold. Yeah. Well, and as you were sharing that, two things came to mind. I think and I think back to a certain time in my career, where I was really, really in a frustrating place. I was really frustrated. I felt really lost. And I I had totally forgotten about it until now. I get home started typing out observations from the day and just with like, Oh, my exploits. I don’t know what else to do. I’m actually a and so it processes through some difficult moments and my whole thought was okay, if I just write down these observations, I can see the things that I don’t want to carry on and move forward with. The other thing that it just reminded me is when I think on a personal front when I’ve gone through some really, really tough times. I’ve journaled and so smattered throughout our house, I would say at least 12 different books or journals where I’ve started and to help me process and get through like the low low lows and then I stopped once I kind of come out of it. And so I used to beat myself up about that and say, like, oh, I should keep doing it. I need to have a journal process every day. And then and now I’m like, No, I will just write when I feel like writing. But it really did help me navigate through some really hard, hard to change points in my life.

Alyssa Burkus  44:26

Yeah, I believe that. I also know for myself, there have been some real lows that I couldn’t even write about. And that was telling to I’ve had a long standing journaling habit myself from like childhood. And there are distinct points in time that are big gaps that I just was not able to write about and that at the time spoke volumes to me too. Yeah, so the way that I moved between journaling and a writing habit is is I just have a few minutes each morning, some morning it’s more of a chilling vibe to the start. I’m writing about personal things that in no shape or form are ever going to make. See the light of day. And then there’s other times became more of a work related approach to thinking through a situation or something that I want to communicate out and writing more with that hat on. And so I find I just keep the space it’s 10 minutes in the morning. Sometimes it runs longer if I’m on a roll. Sometimes it’s like a sentence that is all I can get out and that’s fine. too. But it’s just this space where I can move in between these different modes depending on what I need.

Carolyn Swora  45:41

Yeah. Well, you know, we could talk for hours. Well, I could anyway, you probably use plus words and ideally you’re more efficient with your word selections. So thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I mean, thank you doesn’t even seem like a big enough word for all of your contributions to make evolve, what it is and what I hope it can be. And yeah, it’s just it’s been a real a real pleasure and an honor to have you by my sight through through that through that process. So thank you.

Alyssa Burkus  46:15

Thank you and thank you for bringing me along for that. For that ride. I’m i i really enjoyed it.

Carolyn Swora  46:25

It was it was important to me to be involved in in that work. So thank you. Now if any of our listeners want to reach out to you and and see some of your work and maybe sign up for some of the programs that you offer, where can they find you?

Alyssa Burkus  46:41

Yeah, so the easiest place is my website, shift wisdom.com You can also find me on Instagram and that same handle, and I happen to be the only Alyssa parkas on LinkedIn so you can

Carolyn Swora  46:54

get there too. And we’ll have all of those links in the show notes as well. Now to end off every podcast, I asked three questions and you’re familiar with three prints. You’ve seen them before. So the first question is about self awareness and sharing a moment that perhaps was quite uncomfortable, yet full of insight about yourself.

Alyssa Burkus  47:20

So it goes back aways. I I learned over the years that I in the moment. I don’t react emotionally, particularly in high emotional situations. So whether it’s joy or sadness people equate it to calm but it’s actually I just have learned that I kind of shut down. So one of those times was my wedding day where I was smiling, but not the emotions that my my partner had hoped. to evoke in his feet. And so it was 10 days later when I was by myself on an airplane that I finally cried the tears that people expected to my wedding. So and that’s, you know, that’s a pattern that’s continued. It served me well at times there’s situations and poaching you know, difficult things people come up where I’m able to sort of stay calm for them. Yeah. But yeah, yeah, I just learned that about myself. There’s a delayed emotional reaction, sometimes at inopportune times.

Carolyn Swora  48:31

Yeah. Well, and hey, nothing wrong with that. It’s just that’s just the way it rolls for you.

Alyssa Burkus  48:35

Yeah, there’s times where I would like to participate in the emotions of the room. And I’m, I try but yeah,

Carolyn Swora  48:44

I guess I could say I’m kind of the opposite. Maybe 10 days later. The logic sits in for me and time part time. Yeah, that’s really all right. So second, one, what is a practice or ritual not writing? Because I know we’ve talked about that and pretty much you know how long the podcast is not is answering the second question. But what’s another practice or ritual that helps regulate you or, or calm you?

Alyssa Burkus  49:09

Yeah. For me, it’s walking outside, ideally in nature, if possible, it just has an immediate calming effect. And it’s also aware some of my best ideas come in. Good old forests of good ol forest bath. Absolutely. Absolutely.

Carolyn Swora  49:29

All right. Now last but not least, what is a song or genre of music that makes you feel part of something bigger than yourself?

Alyssa Burkus  49:38

And love this question of probably 100 songs come to mind. The one I have coming back to was a million dreams. In the greatest showmen soundtrack. I just there’s something as the voices lift. It’s just

Carolyn Swora  49:53

great. Is it now there’s two versions of that song right. One is by pink and one is by and not

Alyssa Burkus  49:59

the pink one. Yeah. The collection of artists. Yeah, from the movie. Yeah.

Carolyn Swora  50:05

Yeah. Cuz Yeah, different voices and tones can elicit different so I want to make sure I know when Yeah. Well, our time is our time on this podcast is wrapping up, but the time for evolve. The book is just beginning. So yeah, thank you. Again, Alyssa for being on the podcast and helping bring in that book into the world and we’ll see where it goes. Can’t wait. Thanks. recording stopped. Yay.

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