Healing at Work with Susan Winchester


In this transformative episode, we dive into the profound concept that the workplace can serve as a unique laboratory for emotional healing. Our guest, Susan Winchester, shares her personal journey of self-discovery, revealing how understanding the deep-seated impacts of childhood experiences can revolutionize our approach to conflicts and relationships in the corporate world.

Susan Winchester

Susan Schmitt Winchester, former Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) for Applied Materials, has made significant contributions to the HR community over her 35-year career, including executive roles at Rockwell Automation and Kellogg Company. She is recognized for her innovative HR strategies that foster inclusive cultures and exceptional company performance. Winchester co-authored “Healing at Work: A Guide to Using Career Conflicts to Overcome Your Past and Build the Future You Deserve” with Martha I. Finney, addressing mental wellness in the workplace.


🔑 Key Themes & Takeaways:

  • The Power of Awareness: Discover how recognizing and confronting our past traumas and dysfunctions opens the door to personal and professional growth. Learn to navigate workplace conflicts with a conscious lens, transforming “bumper car moments” into opportunities for healing and understanding. 💡

  • Embracing Mental Well-being: With nearly two-thirds of people experiencing significant adverse childhood experiences, this episode underscores the critical need to prioritize mental health in the workplace. Join us in exploring strategies to foster a culture of mental wellness and empathy within organizations. 🧠💖

  • Healing as a Strength: Unpack the acronym ASDP (Adult Survivor of a Damaged Past) and how it symbolizes resilience, acknowledging that while we carry scars from our past, they do not define our future. Celebrate the survivor within and leverage your experiences as a foundation for empowerment. 🛡️

  • Redefining Self-Regulation: Move beyond traditional coping mechanisms like avoidance or substance use. Discover healthier ways to manage emotional triggers, including the groundbreaking “Rapid Power Reclaim” method, and how to step off the unconscious wound career path towards a more fulfilling life. 🔄

  • The Role of Forgiveness and Self-Compassion: Learn the importance of forgiving ourselves and quieting the inner critic. Embrace your inner coach and step into a space where self-compassion paves the way for authentic leadership and a healthier workplace environment. 🕊️

  • Practical Tools for Emotional Processing: Explore innovative exercises like the “Three Circle Exercise,” designed to process and release pent-up emotions, facilitating a deeper connection with your inner child, adapted child, and highest functioning adult self. 🧘

We talk about:

  • 3:58 Why we need to heal at work

  • 6:58 Why is this specific work important now

  • 10:10 HR’s position in bearing witness to these behaviors

  • 12:41 ASDP

  • 17:27 Not resonating with the word ‘trauma’

  • 19:17 Conscious healing career path

  • 29:42 Practice of forgiving yourself

  • 31:15 Extending compassion to your colleagues

  • 38:54 Bumper Car moments

  • 45:49 Circle Exercise

  • 52:46 You are wanted in the workplace

  • 54:29 Rapid fire questions

🌈 Closing Thoughts:

This episode is an invitation for leaders to embrace the journey of emotional healing. It will lead to personal growth that can be a transformative force within your organization. 💬 We’d love to hear your thoughts! Share your reflections, insights, or questions with us. Together, let’s pave the way for a more empathetic and emotionally intelligent leadership paradigm.

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Carolyn: When I was a kid, my dad told me flat out. you’re not supposed to enjoy your job. So that’s a belief that I took into my working life. Now, I’m happy to say I did seek enjoyment from my job, but what I did learn and did internalize was that you weren’t really supposed to show up at work as yourself. That it was wrong to bring feelings into work.

And we know from research over the past 10, 20 years, that in fact, that’s not the best way for performance. Being authentic, bringing your true self really does allow us to achieve more and do more together. Now, what if I said to you, the workplace could be. a place to heal. You might be thinking, well, Carolyn, you’re taking that one step too far.

Well, our guest today on the show, Susan Winchester, who has a wealth of experience at very high levels in organizations in very large organizations at that she has written a book called healing at work. And we are going to talk about why healing at work is needed right now. And how can we do it? And I think what you’re going to hear in this conversation is it’s easier than you might think now, just a few more things about Susan.

Before we jump into this conversation. Susan Winchester is the senior vice president and C. H. R. O. for applied materials. Applied materials is a fortune 150 Silicon Valley semiconductor company and has more than 35, 000. Global employees in total. She has about 35 years of experience in HR providing executive leadership.

In a whole host of organizations. She’s the author of this book. We’re going to talk about, and she wrote this book in common, uh, in partnership with Martha Finney. Now, additionally, Susan is a fellow of the National Academy of Human Resources, which is the highest professional honor for leaders in HR. She serves as a board member for the HR Policy Association and for the Executive Committee of the Peer Roundtable.

I’m so excited to have Susan on the show and here we go. Let’s see what we learned from her today.

Welcome evolve listeners. We are in a new year when you will be listening to this episode, a heads up though, it is being recorded at the end of 2023. Uh, but I thought it would be a wonderful way to kick off 2024 by having the author of, I’m going to say maybe one of my top two, top two or three favorite books I’ve ever read healing at work.

So Susan Winchester, welcome to the show.

Susan: Thank you so much, Carolyn. It’s a pleasure to be here. Thank you for inviting me.

Carolyn: Yeah. Well, like I said, uh, your, your book, um, it’s like, Oh my gosh, where is this book been all my life? Uh, and I just felt, you know, I, I read it from like front to end, um, and, and couldn’t put it down. And so I’m hoping that we can bring the contents, uh, the topics, the great. Suggestions and insights you have into our conversation today.

You know, as, as I shared with you, this podcast is for leaders. It feels like you wrote this book just for us on this podcast. Um, so Susan, why don’t we just start off, um, healing at work? Like where, where did that come from? Why do we need to heal at work?

Susan: Well, first of all, most of us generally think of the workplace as not a place to heal. In fact, a lot of people think about the workplace as a source of conflict, stress, uh, worry. um, you know, disappointment, I think that it often gets that rap for not necessarily being a place viewed as healing. And you know, the concept of healing at work came in my partnership with my coauthor, Martha Finney, is just amazing and, and working together, we, we realized. That actually the workplace is a perfect place healing. And what I like to say is I like to teach people through the healing at work book and my course and some other things that I do, we can actually use the workplace as a laboratory for emotional healing. so it’s grounded in the fact that the majority of us came from some form of a dysfunctional childhood. And, um, in my case, I was really completely unaware,

Carolyn: Yeah, me too.

Susan: Complete lack of awareness about how much my own past was affecting me every single day in my corporate life and Martha, who I think is very evolved. I love the name of your podcast.

Carolyn: Thanks.

Susan: She knew she knew she was very conscious of how much her past affecting her and her choices related to her own career. I think it’s a very personal, different experience that we all have related to the workplace. but when, in our work together, we realize that actually workplace conflict in particular, those moments when we get emotionally triggered by somebody else, or when we’ve done something that’s triggered someone else, that’s typically the launch into a lot of negative emotion.

Carolyn: Yeah,

Susan: spiral downward and, uh, and I spent a lot of years of my almost 36 year career spiraling into that place of Uh, but actually if we start to understand that linkage to our childhood and our beliefs about ourselves, how we interpret things, and then how we take action to manage our environments, we can actually start using those workplace moments of conflict, what Martha and I call bumper car moments actually practice. Responding and interpreting current day moments through a very different lens through a conscious lens. And the concept of healing at work was born.

Carolyn: yeah, it was, um, I mean, you know, I know you’ve read or have read a little bit about, about my book and I, I love the way you’ve positioned your work and it feels, um, it feels so accessible, accessible and real and, you know, both you and Martha, I know, shared some deep, intimate, um, Um, stories about, as you said, your unconscious, uh, sort of, um, place.

I was in the exact same place, like literally in one of those chapters, I was like, Oh my gosh. Am I, am I reading about me? Like, let me check the cover of this book. Um, and so like, why do we need healing at work now? Why is now the time?

Susan: Well, first of all, I think that the world is ready for healing. You know, when I think about all the divisiveness happening

Carolyn: Yeah.

Susan: the world and the opposing views and the fights and the wars, um, And, you know, coming out of the pandemic, of course, it was a pretty stressful time period for a lot of people.

You talk a lot about that in your own book is the opportunity for so many of our companies. Mine included. I’m really proud to work in applied materials to start not start, but to build on what we’ve always been doing to take care of our people. I think that the movement that’s happening from the standpoint of wanting to create, you know, engaging workplaces.

It’s amazing. You know, focusing on employee experience, this growing body of work. You are a key leader in this, in this movement. And there are others as well who are starting to bring what you talk about, a trauma informed leadership perspective into the workplace, like you also say in your book, not asking, you know, leaders to be experts on how to

Carolyn: Right. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Susan: but when we start to understand. That the majority of people, the research shows, you know, nearly two thirds experience at least one major adverse childhood experience before the age of 18. And as a result of that, you know, we’re coming into the workplace with a lot of baggage that we often don’t realize. so I think it’s starting to take the whole topic of mental well being in the workplace to a whole new level. And I frankly think the world is ready for that. You know, I, I think that like, like I said, we’re in the, we’re, we’re cohorts in this movement to try to evolve our organizations to understand that so much of what’s going on in the workplace is never spoken about. that get damaged because of a conflict that occurs where the two people are having a complete overreaction because of things that happened to them when they were little, there’s so much opportunity to help leaders understand we can become aware, become conscious. impact of our past in our corporate, in our workplace experiences.

Carolyn: Yeah.

Susan: so I think we’re, you know, I, I think this movement’s been building, but I think it’s getting stronger. And because so many of our companies are really focusing on mental wellness, uh, well being in the workplace. think of a better time for us to be talking about this.

Carolyn: Yeah, I agree. Uh, I saw some research. I think it was Ontario based. I’m in Canada and it was it was saying that the next, uh, next generation, I guess, Gen Z was saying, um, the well being supports that are in the workplaces. Not enough. Not good enough. And that’s exactly where my head went to is like, we need to really dig under the rock and get to the core of things.

Um, and you know, you, you talk about the journey being, um, you know, you call it like an unconscious sort of work. What did you, I had it written down unconscious, like reactivity. What was it?

Susan: Unconscious Wounded Career

Carolyn: Yes.

Susan: I spent 30 of my 36 years,

Carolyn: Yeah. Yeah.

Susan: miserable place to be. Yeah.

Carolyn: Well, and also, you know, you’re, you have an extensive background in HR and, you know, I also read in your book too, HR professionals are in this, I guess, unfortunate or fortunate place of bearing witness to all of that unconscious behavior as well.

Susan: And many of us are showing up unconscious about our own behavior. In fact, I think it’s a really good point because I think a lot of, Individuals that are in helping professions, you know, HR for sure, uh, you know, consultant role, advisor role,

Carolyn: Yep.

Susan: supportive role, uh, teachers. I think healthcare professionals

Carolyn: Yeah.

Susan: are, you know, in our environments, even always aware of our own. Experiences, um, as what Martha and I call adult adult survivor of a damaged past ASTP don’t even realize how much our own issues are playing into every single thing happening. And to your point, witnessing, know, complex leaders and individuals in our workplaces having meltdowns having, you know.

Significant fights where silos get reinforced you know, are actually unintentionally, I think, and unconsciously at times creating toxic cultures all because of the things that we are unaware of in terms of the impact of our past. On our beliefs about ourselves, on our interpretations of other people, also our decisions about how we act to try to create a place of safety.

Carolyn: Yeah.

Susan: And you know, like you and I have talked about this in my, in my own, my own life, while if you look at my resume, you’d say, yeah, it’s pretty impressive. But what most people don’t know until they read the book is, yeah, I was fueled by my underlying belief. I wasn’t good enough,

Carolyn: Yeah. Yep.

Susan: and as a result of that, I spent all my time trying to people please everybody.

And, you know, perfectionism, especially in relationship to, um, to men in particular men in authority. And that was entirely because that was the Because I grew up with a dad who was like, you know, I know you, you had a challenging dad too, had unpredictable rage.

Carolyn: Yep.

Susan: And I always assumed it was my fault and that I was causing it.

And that, you know, my belief was everybody else held the right to decide whether or not I was good enough. I had to constantly prove it over and over and over and over again for year after year, after year and year after year after year.

Carolyn: Yeah. Yeah.

Susan: So it’s, that’s the unconscious wound of career path, that’s not a great place.

Carolyn: It isn’t. And I think more and more of us are there, uh, unfortunately. Now you just used an acronym and I want to dig into it a little bit more. Um, because I had never heard of this acronym and as soon as I saw it, I was. I was like, Oh my gosh, I could have, there’s a whole other, a whole other way to enter into this concept of being trauma informed.

Uh, and it’s A S D P. So can you tell us a little bit, how did you find out about this? Like, is it surfacing more in the literature?

Susan: Well, when Martha and I were writing the book and we started to realize how many of us out there in the world, you know, again, the research suggesting at least two thirds experienced one or potentially more major traumas before the age of 18. were trying to, trying to think of a name. What, you know, what, what are we, you know, there, there are a few terms out there, a few acronyms, ACOA, adult children of alcoholics is one. And ACOA is a wonderful organization. I went to the ACOA meetings for many years when I was living in Chicago. it was very narrow. It was all about growing up with addiction of, you know, alcoholism or drug

Carolyn: Right.

Susan: family. What we were talking about related to childhood. trauma or adverse childhood experiences, ACEs, as they’re referred to, that’s a very broad bucket.

You know, that’s a very broad bucket of experiences that people can have. the ACEs come from a body of research, um, that were, you know, it’s, uh, CDC and Kaiser Permanente and two doctors back in the late 90s a study of 17, 000 adults in the U. S. And I’ve researched this and I know that the studies have been replicated in other countries also. And they asked people, The 17, 000 people to say, you know, these 10 adverse childhood experiences, how many did you experience they’re pretty traumatic things, you know, physical, emotional, sexual abuse, neglect, violence in the home, addiction in the home, mental illness in the home, you know, the list goes on and on.

Carolyn: Yep. Yep.

Susan: and, you know, so that’s a broad bucket of experiences, and I think there are many other adverse childhood experiences that weren’t covered in the original survey. discrimination, bullying. I mean, there are a lot of experiences that we can have when we’re growing up, which is why Martha and I came up with this broad term adult survivor of a damaged past. And at first I kind of, you know, I was resistant to it. I’m like, I don’t know. I don’t like calling myself that. then as I’ve been working with the acronym and the concept, the concept is, you know, we are adults today. as adults, we have opportunity to really actually reprogram the neural pathways in our brain

Carolyn: Yep.

Susan: science of neuroplasticity.and positive psychology. So we can come to our workplaces as an adult. the S is survivor, which is really a recognition of resilience. And the fact that, you know, we don’t have any idea of the kinds of things that, um, our colleagues and our bosses and our leaders and our, our employees have experienced. But I believe that if you’ve had one of those major adverse childhood experiences or others, You are resilient. And so there’s this essence of survivor. For me, it’s a strength word.

Carolyn: Yeah.

Susan: D for damaged is just recognizing that there’s been some dysfunctionality that occurred, and that there’s some damaged beliefs that we carry about ourselves. And again, like, you know, I talked about it often is completely unconscious our connection of those limiting beliefs to the past. So my limiting beliefs, for example, I’m not good enough, um, um, I deserve to get in trouble. Um, I, I know somebody who, a very senior level person, um, in a completely different profession, with me that his limiting belief was he couldn’t do anything right,

Carolyn: Yeah.

Susan: dad told him that every day. You know, so the, the list goes on and on. that damage piece is those damage beliefs that we carry with us. That’s the d and then the P stands for past, which is a recognition that these things happened in the past, but they were often carrying them like luggage, you know, baggage. With us into our present day. so we coined the term ASTP. That’s a

Carolyn: Oh, that’s amazing. I know like when I saw it, I just really resonated. I thought it was a softer way because like you, I did not equate anything in my life with the word trauma and everyone else around me was looking in equating it. Um, but I couldn’t, um, but a damaged past and survivor, I’m like, Oh yeah, okay.

I think I could walk through that door and, and not, um, You know, the similar to you, the voices were so just, just always kind of putting me in a position of, I have to do this, I have to do this, I have to do this versus like learning how to be and being more conscious about some of those, um, those thoughts that, well, I still have to work at, right.

To get them out.

Susan: well, you just made a really good point that I want to build on, which is the concept of not really resonating with the word trauma. I, I absolutely, like that word in me never went along together. I never thought of my childhood

Carolyn: Yep.

Susan: trauma childhood. never thought of my childhood as trauma.

dysfunctional I knew people had it far worse than I did.

Carolyn: Yep.

Susan: And then, um, I had a therapist who was amazing and she recommended I go to a healing trauma program. I remember thinking, why? What are you talking about? Well, it was a great program. It was seven days, very intensive. what I learned in that program, and you talk about this in your book also, I loved it when I saw it in your book, is that there are different kinds of trauma.

There’s the big T trauma, and then there’s the little trauma. Little t trauma and the big t trauma are like the things that we were talking about with the adverse childhood experiences then little t trauma is like lots of little things that happen chronically like never being sure when my dad was going to explode And charge me That sort of constant state of being in hyper vigilance and always on guard That that over time that chronic experience of little t’s actually equates to a big t trauma

Carolyn: Yeah.

Susan: And then it made sense to me.

I’m like, yeah, I get that that resonates

Carolyn: Yeah, I, again, I was reading that part thinking, Oh wow, imagine if I had gone to, you know, uh, a place like that. Um, yeah, I really, I really resisted. Um, I just didn’t think I was, yeah, like it just didn’t, it didn’t fit. Like that doesn’t happen and I’m strong and it really, I felt it would be a sign of weakness if I admitted that.

So, yeah, it’s so, uh, you know, congratulations to you and, and Martha, just to bring that, that word. I’ve already started using it. Um, and I think it’s, it’s just a, a really friendly opening and invitation for people. So, so can we talk a little bit about this conscious healing career path? Um, and I think it’s probably fair to say every single one of us at work has an opportunity to elevate our consciousness.

And so what does a conscious healing career path look like?

Susan: Excellent. Well, let me tell you first a little build on the unconscious wounded career path,

Carolyn: Okay.

Susan: because that is the bridge is, and that’s the healing at work bridge of healing at work bridges. How do you go from the unconscious wounded career path to the conscious healing career path? And it’s not hard to do, but first of all, the unconscious wounded career path is being completely unaware. Of our system from the past, or are sort of what I call the survival behavior techniques that we learned to manage our environments. so when we come into the workplace, and we’re unconscious about that connection, we get into relationship with other people at work. When there’s conflict or when somebody does something that triggers us and we have an emotional uh reaction to it the unconscious path is when that happens we spiral downward into you know ruminating about what happened second guessing what we did uh replaying in our minds over and over about what happened in a meeting or why somebody did something or why they didn’t do something and and then going home after the end of the day. And beating ourselves up because we should have done something differently, or we should have said something or not said something. You know, so there’s this experience of this on a hamster wheel where

Carolyn: Hmm.

Susan: constantly, you know, gauging all the people around you. Do they accept you and value you? And if your boss looks at you cross eyed one day, you may interpret it as he’s mad at me or I’m in trouble. And it’s this sort of regular, I always felt like a spiral into this space of stress, anxiety, worry,

Carolyn: Right. And it’s nonstop. And, and can we like, let’s pull out some real specific examples for people. You used one about sitting in a meeting. So let’s say we were in a meeting and we were getting passionate about what, what could be done for, um, product X. Can you play out what, what might be an example of taking home some of those unconscious beliefs?

Susan: for example, something could be happening in a meeting where we’re talking about a product and you know, whatever needs to be done. And maybe one of my colleagues cuts me off and interrupts me says something that feels disrespectful to me. And I get, I feel triggered. Like I immediately, the brain goes into fight, flight, or freeze, you

Carolyn: Right.

Susan: limbic system of the brain kind of goes right into, you know, for me, it was always free. It’s like, oh, you know, you know, this person doesn’t value me or they are disrespecting me. And so all of a sudden we having all these thoughts going on in our head about the interchange. in some cases, and this is, this happens all the time, somebody will say something in a meeting, know, and there’s lots of examples I have in my own career where I’ll get triggered and think, you know, they don’t value me or they don’t

Carolyn: Right.

Susan: or whatever. later I may go in and check in with them to say, Hey, you said this in the meeting. I took it to mean that. Is that what you meant? And you’re like, I don’t even know what you’re talking about. , you know.

Carolyn: Yeah.

Susan: Oblivious. And so we get triggered by things that are happening around us through our own interpretive, uh, lens.

Carolyn: And I won’t even go in for many years. I wouldn’t even go in and check out those things. I would just sit and ruminate with it and it’s heavy. It carries, it carry that stuff.

Susan: Absolutely. And the other component of the self, uh, or the unconscious wounded career path, which you talk a lot about I didn’t really have any strategies for self regulation when I

Carolyn: Yeah.

Susan: emotionally. My, my technique for self regulation was Chardonnay

Carolyn: Hmm.

Susan: was a problem. I, I was drinking too much to try to take the edge off the feelings of inadequacy. And, you know, so that’s sort of the experience of the unconscious wound career path is repeating this for 30 years of your career. Um, and I forgot the part about, you know, when I feel like someone’s not happy with me immediately into overdrive on people pleasing and perfectionism, which, as you know, is exhausting.

And. You know, it’s never enough and you’re constantly striving for some impossible perfect standard, by the way has a big impact on our teams as well. So that’s what I lived for a long time and why I wrote this book is I wanted to teach people how to step off of that path, is, you know, has huge costs, significant costs, costs in terms of our relationships with our colleagues, costs in terms of our relationship with our family. Uh, one of the most Painful costs that I paid was in my desperate need to be validated through my work and through my bosses I wasn’t at work. I was worrying about work or drinking too much. And as a result, I was completely emotionally unavailable for my sons when they

Carolyn: Yeah. Yep.

Susan: And I usually get really choked up when I talk about this because I’m embarrassed am, I am deeply sad.

And I often grieve about that missed time where I was literally creating, you know, ASTPs of my two sons growing up in a home where they were being, you know, at least by me neglected, you know, so that that’s the, the workaholism, Addiction, all

Carolyn: Yep.

Susan: costs, alone the cost in terms of the relationship I had with myself. And so to your question, which now I feel like my answer is way too long, but answer to your question about what’s the conscious healing career path is first of all, becoming aware of the connection to our past, our past experiences, our beliefs about ourselves, our behavior patterns, you know, all the things that we did to manage that environment in an effort to create a sense of safety.

Carolyn: And can I, can I add something there, Susan?

Susan: Sure. Thank you.

Carolyn: I was adamant that I was stronger than my past, that it didn’t define me. And so I would just like to add in, if that is, if you’re hearing those words, like, whatever, I left that behind. I don’t need to unpack that stuff. Um, Let that be a signal to you that perhaps there is something more there to understand.

Um, and I’m, I’m sharing that with love and good intention. Everybody’s going to be at a different place in their healing journey. And that’s obviously something to be done outside of work. Um, but the harder I ran, the more I was running from a lot of, of buried stuff that I didn’t I had time to unpack, nor did I need to.

Susan: A hundred percent, I left it behind.

Carolyn: Yep.

Susan: a lot of people, I get to this point sometimes when I’m talking to people, and I get, you know, yeah, Susan, you know, that’s the past. Why spend any time worrying about it? Or, you know, I would never be talking about this. The number one job in our family was to protect the family secrets. Uh, another one is, yeah, I don’t want to talk about this because it could hurt the reputation of family members.

Carolyn: Yeah.

Susan: felt that way since my dad was a minister in a small community.

Carolyn: Mm,

Susan: But ultimately, what I believe is that when we stay in a state of resistance to our past and really understanding and unlocking how it’s affecting us today, I think it’s limiting our potential and our capability. And, you know, a lot of people didn’t experience any of those traumas, and they still come to me and say, I didn’t experience any of those ACEs, but I also have limiting beliefs about myself.

Carolyn: yep,

Susan: Uh, I often beat myself up, you know, and so there’s this universal reaction response to healing at work that’s really blown me away.

Carolyn: yeah,

Susan: Regardless of where I’ve talked, I’ve talked all over the world to many groups at all levels in the company and, also external groups as well. And it’s surprising to me that when I start to share some of my own stories, which I do in the book and I do in my keynote I mean, there are people, I can see the people in the audiences with tears in their eyes.

Carolyn: yep,

Susan: Because it’s resonating. And to your point, a lot of people, it’s not easy to do this inside work. You know,

Carolyn: nope,

Susan: hard work. Uh, it’s painful. I mean, I’m, I’m, you know, I’ve been through the ringer and I know you have too. And

Carolyn: yep,

Susan: your listeners have like, and why can’t we just have it

Carolyn: exactly,

Susan: um, but I believe that the darkest, most difficult moments in our careers and actually in our lives are the greatest lessons to us as leaders and as human beings.

Carolyn: they are.

Susan: And that, you know, that opportunity to step onto the conscious healing career path, which is recognizing you’re always going to have bumper car moments with other people at work. I get triggered all the time because I’m human, the time I spend beating myself up. ruminating about what happened, uh, challenging myself about why I didn’t do something or did something poorly, you know, giving myself a D on my, my daily performance review. Um, I spent a lot less time in that place because of, you know, the capability that through in the book, I talk about my rapid power reclaim is how do you reclaim your power quickly? So you aren’t spending You know, days, weeks in that spiral down into that stress, anxiety and worry,

Carolyn: Yeah, because it comes back to what you were saying that our families don’t get the best of us. And I know for me, part of my journey has been a real revelation about how mean I’ve been to myself. And it is so ingrained into me that I didn’t actually realize how that was determining where I put my energy and where I put my efforts.

And, you know, We, you didn’t talk about this as much in your book, but I’m going to add it in here because it was a big aha for me was just how much my body was storing, how much my body was trying to look after me. And I’d never really treated my body as, um, as an instrument, a past podcast guest I had use this quote of using your body as an instrument versus an ornament.

Susan: Oh, wow.

Carolyn: And I’ve been using my body more as an ornament, but, um, now that I’m recognizing how much my emotions and my, my body have just suppressed so much, it’s, it’s giving me permission and it’s given me some space to just sort of realize all of these unconscious things that were driving my behavior. Again, doing the best that we could with the tools that we had.

Susan: Yep. I love that. I, I also had a realization. Um, there’s a guy named, um, Adam P. I’m going to hope I say his name right. Has a formula for forgiving yourself and. You know, the statement is I forgive myself. This is my statement. I forgive myself for judging myself for not being good enough because the truth is I am good enough.

Carolyn: Yep.

Susan: And that practice of, you know, to your point, managing the inner critic, you know, us. Overachieving, perfectionistic leaders, um, are oftentimes constantly judging ourselves. So the inner critic is like on overdrive and, you know, beating you over the head constantly. And you know, the part of the, the movement onto the conscious healing career path is actually, all right, all right, all right, inner critic, I hear you.

Thank you for the feedback. Okay. Inner coach, where are you? And, uh, and how do I start to build a better relationship with the inner coach? can help me practice the forgiveness, um, you know, method that Adam teaches. And, um, you know, because it is that it’s the inner critic in the inner critic. And oftentimes it’s a parent’s voice we’re hearing.

Carolyn: Right.

Susan: And, uh, it’s the echoes, echo, the, our adult selves echoing back to our childhood selves all over again. Yeah.

Carolyn: I know you talked, uh, you referenced Kristen Neff’s work on self compassion, which is amazing. I have not read her book, Fierce Self Compassion, uh, Fierce Self Compassion, but I, I use her, her, her self compassion quiz all the time. And so, and I know you talked about compassion too, you shared, um, I thought a really helpful story about extending compassion to your colleagues.

And so this is part of this conscious path. Can you share a little bit about that?

Susan: I can, you know, I think, um, one of a lot of our qualities. So when I think about leaders in particular, one of the things that we’re typically very good at is making decisions you know, making good judgments about things going on in our workplaces. our greatest strength overplayed becomes a potential liability. And so when we’re really good decision makers, we can also be fairly judgmental of ourselves and of others. And, you know, there are many moments in my career where I was feeling a lot of judgment, um, you know, for lots of different reasons. I’ll just pick one that happened years ago where I was feeling really judgmental of a boss that I had. And I think, um, I was, you know, I was so mad. I was ready to leave the organization and full of judgment. And You know, typically those that are judging others harshly are also judging themselves the most harshly. So this is definitely when I was in an unconscious, wounded career place. And I had a coach at the time said, you know, why don’t you know, you can leave next week.

You can, you can resign next week, but before you do that, figure out if there are any patterns that are part of your makeup that are actually. impacting your relationship with this particular boss. she really pointed out that it was, um, this concept that if you are judging another person, you don’t need to say that to the person, the person will feel it. This is the coach that I had named Tony Chinoy. And it was really like, well, that’s really interesting. And so she said, I want you to really try something differently. I want you to shift from judgment. to thinking about this boss through the lens of compassion. And, you know, you don’t know what he’s dealing with.

You don’t know what the challenges are that he, you know, somebody at a higher level is going to have bigger problems to solve. And I remember thinking, all right, well, I have nothing to lose. I’ll just try this compassion thing. And so I wrote this boss of mine a note, you know, and I said, look, I just want to apologize. Um, I, I think that we, uh, you know, as we, as I think about, we were doing some work together, getting ready for a big presentation. I said, you know, I’m, I’m really sorry that it’s sort of the day before the presentation. And my goal will be to get this done sooner. Um, the reason why it wasn’t done was because he hadn’t made up his mind about which path he wanted to take in the. But, you know, I set that aside and I said, you know, I know you’re traveling. I know you must be tired. And I want you to know, I have two sets of slides for this presentation, but depending on what, which path you want to go tomorrow, goal is to get it so that you don’t have to be in a place where you’re reviewing slides the night before presentation. So really coming from, you know, my best effort at compassion. And the next day in the meeting, I was sort of blown away because I wasn’t really sure. Uh, he picked a path. So we went with that particular deck that we presented to the. audience that we were presenting to. in the middle of the meeting, he starts talking to the other people that were there and he says, you know, I really appreciate Susan. And he started talking about me. Like I was the best thing since sliced bread.

Carolyn: Well, you are,

Susan: You know, I, I really didn’t feel that way in this relationship. And I remember thinking passion things actually pretty powerful. you know, so it’s really managing the judgment. Um, in a more intentional, conscious way and shifting it into, all right, I’m going to be as compassionate as I can.

It totally changed the relationship, you know, and so for the time that I worked for that person, after that time, we never had any, any issues working together.

Carolyn: and I’m guessing that you had a little bit of self compassion for yourself before you were able to extend it to somebody else.

Susan: Yeah, I think, you know, working with this particular coach, I calmed down because I did realize, you know, all right, I don’t really need to resign today. I can always do that next week. so I got into a more regulated state where I wasn’t in that, you know, hyper vigilance fight flight free state. And so I was able to say, all right, I’m going to try this as an experiment. it worked really well.

Carolyn: Yeah. Yeah. Cause I find people, um, will say, well, they don’t deserve it. Like you should see what they’re doing. And just again, so, so heightened again, this is the path of consciousness. It doesn’t excuse things, but I don’t know. I believe most people like 99. 99 percent of people get out of bed in the morning and go to work wanting to do a good job and not realizing the unintended impact that they’re having on people.

Susan: I completely agree. And I do think that it is that unconscious space that so many people in the workplace are in.

Carolyn: Yep. Right. Right.

Susan: I, what I noticed is that when somebody has a very strong overreaction to something that’s happened at work, in my mind, I always think this is an, this is, it’s like gasoline on a fire something from the past.

Carolyn: Right.

Susan: And you mentioned this in your book as well, which is that the limbic system part of our brain, is our emotional brain, but it has no memory of time. And so, when we go into fight, flight, or freeze, if something’s happening that’s Causing our brain to think it’s similar to what happened to us 20 years ago, or 30 years ago, or however long ago it was, the brain thinks it’s happening all over again.

Carolyn: Yep.

Susan: And so I have a slide in my keynotes, like a gasoline explosion, where we had these overreactions, triggered moments actually because of things that happened to us many, many years ago.

Carolyn: Yep.

Susan: So again, not to diagnose anything going on in the workplace, but when I see leaders that are. What I say are overreacting for the moment. I will often say afterwards, you know, tell me what you were feeling. When I was feeling really disrespected. Okay, great. Was there a time in the past when you felt really disrespected? And so they’ll typically talk about something that happened, may not be childhood, but something else that happened. And all I’ll say is, is it possible that this moment today, your reaction to it might’ve been fueled by your experience in the past. Just to try to start to draw some connections. And often, you know, most of the leaders we work with are generally reflective and are willing to listen, all, but most, um, they’ll often think about it. And, you know, in this, in this one particular case, I’m thinking about when I asked that question, the individual is able to share two examples, uh, one from when they were kind of college age and one from when they were younger, they felt really disrespected. And we started talking about it and what happened when we got really angry at some colleagues. they were able to get into a state, a present day state, you know, so when they’re stuck in that limbic system, they can’t get to the prefrontal cortex

Carolyn: Yep.

Susan: problem solving, logical, analytical brains reside. And they’re caught in that adrenaline warp of the fight, flight, or freeze. In this case, the person was into a fight mode. And when I could bring him out of that state by helping him connect his response to things that happened previously, he was able to get calm. He was able to realize that he’d actually, you know, maybe have hurt some of the relationships he had with people in the room when he got so mad. then to his credit, Actually went and apologized to a couple of people so it’s, you know, talk about self regulation. How do you self regulate when you are triggered and how do you come out of that state as quickly as possible so that you can respond in a professional, you know, executive level.

Um, reaction. But I mean, it’s to me, it’s, it’s, there’s such a great opportunity to help people understand these, these issues and connections so that they aren’t having those overreactions, which can affect a whole system. Yeah.

Carolyn: about bumper car moments and, and this was one of the, the brilliant pieces of, of what you and Martha put together was really by the end, I was like, yeah, the workplace is, I mean, I’ve always inherently believed that the workplace was a good place to heal. Um, but you put it together in, in a really, uh, helpful way that.

It is a really good place to, to heal. And you talk about bumper car moments. Um, so can you tie those things together for us?

Susan: So bumper car moments are just those moments. the workplace. Of course, they happen in outside the workplace too, but

Carolyn: Yeah.

Susan: my focus is on the workplace. Those moments in interaction with other people where something happens and there’s like a triggered emotional response. Like, it feels like a conflict has occurred.

Carolyn: Right.

Susan: It could be a lot of things. I mean, it could be being excluded from a meeting, not invited to a meeting. It can be, you know, somebody interrupts you during a meeting. It could be getting passed over for a promotion. It’s those moments when we have an emotional triggered response. That’s a bumper car moment. And I say a bumper car moment. It’s like, You know, the ride at the fair when you’re riding around on the bumper cars and everything’s going well, and you’re laughing and people are like, your friends are tapping into you. Then all of a sudden someone comes up behind you and slams into you you’re mad because it hurts. and that, so that’s what’s happened when, when we get into these interactions with other people in the workplace, feels like a crash has occurred. A lot of times the other person may not even know. That there’s a whole crash story going on in your head because of your own stories you’re telling yourself about that other person or about yourself, but it’s a, it’s a, it’s an experience of like, you know, it’s just an intense moment you know, it’s a real bumper car moment when you go back and you can’t stop thinking about it.

Carolyn: Hmm.

Susan: talk to your colleagues, you know, this, this colleague of mine was such a jerk and they were, you know, they were being so rude and, and, you know, so it kind of festers. That’s the unconscious wounded career path, those bumper car moments. And those were typically the launch pad into that state of spiraling downward.

Carolyn: Right.

Susan: You know, so I mean, there was lots of examples. I can think of an example of an individual. Um, this is a past company of mine where we had a big job opening, like a really big, important job. there were 12 internal candidates for the position and the hiring leader and I worked and he got it down to two finalists. And the individual who didn’t get the job, um, came into my office angry, you know, this company doesn’t value me. I’m going to leave. I mean, they were really mad. So that was a bumper car moment for this

Carolyn: Right.

Susan: They felt like they weren’t good enough. That other person got the job. so I said, okay. I’m going to ask you to imagine that you’re the hiring manager. so I got the person into a state of imagining that they’re the hiring manager. I said, I want you to do a compare and contrast between yourself and the individual who got the job. And we have a really cool model. I’ve used it at two companies. I call it the suitability model, which is fabulous for assessing people. So I took the person through the model. The first element was, you know, compare yourself to the other person on skills, knowledge, experience, and education. Okay. So that person did that. Secondly, compare yourself with the other person on, capability to navigate the complexity of the job, really big, complicated regional role. They did that. Uh, and the third element, my favorite is temperament, you know, pluses and minuses on your temperament or your

Carolyn: Hmm.

Susan: So the individual did a, you know, plus and minus on both the candidates themselves and the other. then the final element is, um, comparing each of you on who really accepts and wants the role more than the other. And when we stood back and I said, all right, well, you’re the hiring manager. You stand back, you look at that assessment, which person would you have picked for the job? they said, oh, I would have picked the other person.

Carolyn: Hmm.

Susan: it was really, it was, you know, I was like, yeah. And by the way, the company greatly values you. Now this person was ready to quit because in their head, a bumper car moment had happened. They got triggered. I’m sure it triggered some limiting beliefs about themselves. They got angry. So fight was their response. And fortunately the individual stayed in the company six months later. And I didn’t know this at the time when I was coaching them six months later, they got an even bigger job.

Carolyn: Wow.

Susan: so it’s those misinterpretations of what’s happening around us, and we take it, we personalize it, we believe negative beliefs about ourselves, and then we go into the state, and, you know, so the opportunity again is using those workplace moments, the bumper car crashes, as soon as we feel triggered, is it’s like a warning sign to say, Oh, I need to step back from this because I am having a very strong reaction, and I need to get conscious and really look at, right.

Is this coming from this moment? Am I telling myself a story with a set of assumptions that are completely in my head that could be totally wrong? And am I overreacting because of something similar that might have happened to me in the past? So in my rapid power reclaim method, when you’re in the middle of one of these bumper car moments and you’re having this emotional triggered negative response, using your unhealthy self soothing habits like alcohol, drugs, gambling, shopping, eating, whatever it is, that’s the trigger moment to say, okay, step one is create choice. When we’re lost in that space of the fight, flight or freeze, we go into like an adrenaline warp. We’re not able to think logically because we’re stuck in that section of our brain that can’t think logically. And so in order to create choice, we have to process. that emotion that’s going on inside of us. And so I know you, you may ask later about some of the rituals that are useful in these moments. Part of the practice of healing at work to create choice is you have to let that emotion come out of you.

Carolyn: Yep.

Susan: And so I have a few favorite techniques that I’ve learned. Uh, one simple one that I’ll share, which is really simple and easy. Uh, I bought a plastic baseball bat on Amazon for 5. And you need to use sound movement or breath in

Carolyn: Yep.

Susan: that energy out of you. It’s like you’ve got to discharge the energy

Carolyn: Right.

Susan: can come into a state of logical processing about what I’m going to do about it. So step one is just getting that discharge of emotional energy out of your body.

Carolyn: What did you use the bat for? To get it out?

Susan: I would hit the bed, I’d yell and scream, stomp up and down, sometimes cry, you know, just to get, it’s just all you

Carolyn: Get it out.

Susan: sound, movement, and breath, the baseball bats, the movement, using my voice to yell and scream or cry, and, um, and, you know, I’m not that good at breathing,

Carolyn: Intentional breathing. You can breathe.

Susan: not my breathing, but getting the, the, you know, the energy out of me, and I don’t know if there’s time for another example that my, my current personal coach, Selene DaCosta, who’s amazing, you, Uh, taught me an exercise. Um, calls it the circle exercise. I call it the three circle exercise it’s another way of processing and discharging that emotion that upset feeling not good enough Whatever and so she says go into a room and imagine There are three circles in front of you one to the left one in front of you and one to the right And the one on your left, I want you to imagine is you when you were little.

So my left side circle here is little Susan, your inner child. circle is all the raw emotion you felt when you were little.

Carolyn: Hmm.

Susan: it was rejection, abandonment, um, You know, not being loved, you know, that was my little one experience of my relationship with my dad. The middle circle is what’s called the adapted child. And I think this comes from a body of research by a man named Dr. Terry real, R E A L. The adapted child is your ego defense, uh, protector. it’s that, it’s that part of you that goes into, um, some strategy to try to protect the little one from all that raw emotion. So my adapted child is the pleaser, the perfectionist. You know, so, and there’s lots of different adapted child behaviors. It could be bully. Um, it could be, um, you know, trying to hide, stay invisible, stay off the radar. mine, mine is the pleaser and the perfectionist. And then the circle off to the right. Is you in your highest functioning adult self, and it’s the all knowing, all wise self. so, the exercise when you’re feeling this, you know, bumper car moment triggered in energy and emotion, to then let each one of those circles, each parts of you, talk to you about what’s going on. Now, I’ll admit, I thought this was really stupid in the beginning, and so first time I did it, uh, I was having a, um, a difficult relationship with somebody personally, a friend of mine, um, I was upset I couldn’t sleep, and so I thought, oh, what the heck, I’ll try this three circle exercise. So I went into the room, and I, you know, started to talk about, to my little one, like, what’s going on? And it started off a little slowly, but as I started… You know, letting that part of me talk, I felt sad,

Carolyn: Hmm.

Susan: of tears came out. I just felt sad about the dynamic going on in this friendship. So I cried, you know, movement, this, uh, sound breath and movement crying. My adapted child mad. I mean, I had so much anger because I felt like I’d bent over backwards and I’d. I tried to be a people pleaser. I did everything I could to try to, you know, improve this relationship it was back, backfiring.

It was not working. So a lot of anger came out, yelling, screaming,

Carolyn: Wow.

Susan: I was really surprised. And then I got to my, you know, so you let all that come out of you. That’s the discharging of that energy. I got to my highest functioning self and it was so funny because my highest functioning self’s like, okay, you two guys settle down.

Carolyn: Right. Right.

Susan: And then I actually, I remember my adult self kind of, I said, I just wanted to hug both of those parts of me.

Carolyn: Wow. Right.

Susan: of saying, I’m really sorry you’re feeling this way. then the other thing was almost like this clarity came to me in my highest functioning adult self to say, you know, if this relationship Does not come back together. know, it’s sad and you’ll grieve, but you’ll be okay. there was just this clarity and calmness that came from that experience. And so I felt like I had discharged all that emotion. So often we never do that. We keep it inside and we get sick. I mean, I think, I think it just is not a good thing to do. And what was so interesting in the relationship is that when I was able to discharge that and come into the next discussion with my friend, I was confident and I was somewhat. I guess I was comfortable that if the relationship ended, I would be okay. So because my energy field had changed so much, whole relationship actually to this day, we’re still really good friends. know it’s because I took responsibility for managing my part of what was going on because I got triggered relationship to this person. That was my property. He had her own property. Melody Beatty, the author of so many great books, but the language of letting go as, uh, I think it’s May 13th or reading talks about property lines and really clear on what’s your property and what someone else’s. when we discharge all that emotion, we’re taking care of our own property and how we’ve shown up in the relationship. Um, it was very powerful. So step one, that’s a long explanation. Great choice in order. Elevate your action. You have to discharge it. Step two is now you can elevate your action. you know, so when you’re in the middle of or after preparing for difficult interaction, you can plan, how am I going to handle this next interaction? My elevating my action in this particular case was to say, I’m okay. I’ll be sad that I’m okay if the relationship cannot be, uh, you know, brought back together. And um, you know, so I, I was able to have an elevated action and energy going into the discussion. then the last step is once you’ve done those first two steps, this is the conscious healing career path. third step is to celebrate when you’ve managed this differently rather than going right into the adapted child, going into fight, whatever it, when we start to celebrate things that we’ve done differently. the actual practice of rewiring the neural pathways.

Carolyn: Right.

Susan: it’s taking time to celebrate going outdoors in nature, taking a hot bath, time with our animals, whatever celebrating looks like the act of celebrating is the act of integrating that. into our identity. so that’s the process that I’ve been on my own journey. And I use these techniques all the time when I’m triggered. but boy, I spent a lot less time in stress, anxiety, and worry. I can get myself out much more quickly. And when I get into that adult highest functioning self, it’s, you know, it’s like channeling into the universal knowledge of understanding how best to move forward.

Carolyn: And, and then the stress levels go down, like you said, your body’s going to be more healthy. Uh, people are going to like to work with you more. You probably get way more stuff done, like a lot more done. It really, um. This is again why I thought I think everyone should be reading this book, uh, because, you know, you bring a lot of science and research.

So I know we don’t have time to get into, like, the neuroplasticity, um, and the positive psychology and PERMA and all of Martin Seligman’s work, uh, but it’s just again, bumper car moments happen every single day at work and these opportunities are there. And 1 last thing I want to say before we close off and go to the, um.

Thank you. The, the final three questions is you pointed out in the book that you get hired into these workplaces because people want you, they want you there. So the foundation of the relationship with your, with your, your colleagues and your, your boss is one of, we want you in here.

Susan: Absolutely. And, you know, so it’s, it’s easy to forget that and immediately go into self blame, self criticism, self judgment, when we’re wired for that from the past

Carolyn: Yeah,

Susan: when we’re, when we’re doing that on the negative track, that’s the unconscious wounded career path. we start to say, all right, I’m I’m going to try this conscious healing career path.

It’s a lot better place to be. I just, I have so much more fun. Even when I’m triggered, I’m like, Oh, okay. Another learning opportunity.

Carolyn: right.

Susan: So yeah, no, I, I, uh, could agree with you more.

Carolyn: Yeah. Now, Susan, before we get to the final three questions, which I think are only going to be two now, um, where, where can listeners find out more about your book, your programs and, and what you offer?

Susan: Yeah. So I have a website, a personal website, healingatwork. com. You can get lots of information about, uh, about this work. Uh, uh, Amazon also has healing at work, uh, available, uh, both soft copy, hard copy and audible. um, my LinkedIn profile, Susan J. Schmidt Winchester

Carolyn: Yeah,

Susan: where I am a lot.

Carolyn: well, I highly, highly suggest, uh, people treat themselves to this wonderful book, uh, and to start off their, their new year on a really good conscious path. Uh, now, Susan, I ask everyone who comes on the show, three questions, uh, that. you know, are part of my evolve model, self awareness, self regulation and co regulation.

Now, I think you gave some incredible examples of self regulation, that circle method. So we’re not going to do that one because you gave some like really great insight there, but I’m going to start off with, um, self awareness. And so maybe a time or experience where your self awareness got really elevated.

Maybe it was in a moment, uh, of, of, of. Tremendous insight.

Susan: Yeah, I can think of a very distinct moment. So this was years and years ago. I had just been selected as the head of HR, vice president, my first really big vice president job, working with the leadership team, running a 4 billion business at this company.

Carolyn: Wow.

Susan: I was joining the team, uh, nine men and me. So nine men from a variety of different countries and me, my predecessor who’d been in that role had not lasted in that role long and then left, you know, sort of like, Hmm, I wonder what happened. this team had a reputation. Uh, they called themselves the pirates.

Carolyn: Yes.

Susan: this is a very successful team. They created huge value for the company. were, um, intense. I think some would describe them as arrogant, but they had this energy, like, you know, we can do anything and, you know, beat the customer or beat the competitor. And, um, I came into this relationship and I, it was like. The first 11 months were miserable. was like sport. Um, one of the men would walk down to my office early in the morning. I’d be in there typing because I was always in early on my computer. He’d slam his fist on the window just to watch me jump.

Carolyn: Oh,

Susan: one, I remember the very first meeting with this crew, a four hour meeting. They’ve gone through a number of different updates and towards the end of the meeting, the, The leader said, are there any other updates? And I said, yeah, I’ve got some important HR topics. I started to talk. Well, one of the men stood up, he looked at me, he slammed his notebook shut and he walked out of the room and I wanted to die.

I was in tears. Um, that first 11 months with them. of my strategies that I’d used up until that point weren’t working. Perfectionism and people pleasing seemed to be pushing them farther away. And again, this one coach, Toni Chinoy, she totally changed my level of self awareness when she did a really cool exercise with me. And she said, I want you to pick the worst of the group. So there’s nine of them. I pick four. And she said, I want you to imagine that you are in their eyes looking at you. And if they had to describe you in the symbolic form of an animal, What animal would they describe you as? And I burst out laughing, I’m like, Oh my god, I’m a golden retriever puppy dog. All I, all I want them to do is pat me on the head and tell me what a good girl I am.

Carolyn: yeah.

Susan: can be really annoying, wanting too much attention. that was the energy I was creating. Then she had me get back in my eyes, and she said, alright, what, if you had to pick an animal for each of them, what animal would each of them represent? had a grizzly bear, a gorilla, A wolf with long fangs and a hyena smiling, but circling me ready to go in for the kill.

Carolyn: Wow.

Susan: I’ll never forget it because, you know, in that moment of realizing a major turning point of awareness for me because I was stuck in judgment. I was judging them for being what I thought was rude and disrespectful, but they were triggering all my, all my stuff. You’re not good enough. You don’t deserve to be here. Who do you think you are? And in that moment when she helped me realize that I was coming into this relationship with this weak, needy, validate me, telling, telling, you know, letting them determine whether or not I was good enough, was absolutely not working. And so I worked with her and I decided, you know, the puppy dog’s part of my temperament. You know, I like people to be happy. I like to, you know, I like to do a good job. as I stepped into a really important leadership role, I couldn’t keep doing that. So I shifted and said, you know, I need to be more of a lioness.

I needed to have an animal that could be a little bit more effective with some of these strong, strong leaders.

Carolyn: Yep.

Susan: And, you know, so I won’t go through all the details, but one by one, I mustered up my lioness energy and I started to basically take each one on in a different way. So just a real quick example, the man that would slam his fist on the wall, uh, he was a grizzly bear. I walked into his office one day, totally unannounced. That down in the chair, my heart was racing and he had his back to me. It was on his computer and he slowly turns around. He looks at me and I can hear him growling. Like, what are you doing in my office?

Carolyn: Yep.

Susan: And I said, you know, Hey, I realized you never show up for a single meeting I’ve ever scheduled.

And I’m just curious. Is it a, you’re too busy B, uh, you don’t like HR. You don’t value HR. Is it C you just don’t like me. And I just sat there and he thought, I’ll never forget. He had got this sort of far distant look at his on his face. Then he looks at me and says, you’re right. I’ll never do that again.

Carolyn: Wow.

Susan: till the day he died, we were friends.

Carolyn: Wow.

Susan: was a major turning point for me to realize that my judgment was actually pushing them away, my neediness pushing them away and that I needed to change how I was showing up and how I thought about myself in that relationship.

Carolyn: Uh, I, I had earmarked and highlighted that part in the chapter. Uh, it was, it was really, really like I started thinking of the type, the types of animals I must have been portraying. It was a great, a great exercise. Thank you for sharing the details of that. Um, so the second question is usually around self regulation.

As I said, we, we talked about that. Let’s go to the final question, which is really about connecting. Um, and the fact that we are, You know, ultimately all connected together. I like to talk about music with this, uh, notion of co regulation. So is there a song or genre of music that helps you feel connected to something bigger than yourself?

Susan: Well, my favorite genre of music is the 80s music, but the probably that I even pulled it out because I knew you’re going to ask this question. the work that I’ve done with my personal coach, she shared some amazing songs where when I listened to them, they’re very healing.

Carolyn: Hmm.

Susan: I feel connected to the universal energy. one, I can’t read with these glasses. Uh, one is called a heartbeats by Jose Gonzalez. And then the other one that I love is called Shimbale, uh, S H I M B A L A I E by Maria Gadu. G A D U.

Carolyn: Wow.

Susan: is just, every time I play it, I just, it’s just so, um, it’s just empowering and it just, I feel and charged into the universal energy.

Carolyn: Thank you. You know, I, I never get a rep, um, replicated answers on that, on that question. Always, always have an expanding playlist. Well, Susan, uh, I am so grateful that, uh, we were connected and, um, I hope that our paths cross again in the future. I think your work is incredible.

Susan: Thank you. I think your work’s incredible too. Your book is outstanding, um, of about three quarters of the way through it. I love it. There’s so many parallels of our work

Carolyn: There are,

Susan: And like I said at the very beginning, I think many of us are coming together now to, to really, um, uh, what I think is a much needed global movement in our

Carolyn: yeah. Absolutely. Well, thank you also, uh, to the listeners for tuning in and for bringing us into your 2024 playlist. I hope that you have found some tremendous insight here from Susan. Please let us know what you think of this episode and also like, subscribe, share. The more people we can get listening to this work, the more we can help our workplaces thrive and help us.

Be happier and have more hope. Thanks for tuning in everyone.

Now, I know I say this often, um, because I love to talk and I love all the guests that come on the show. Um. Um. But I really could have talked for another hour with Susan. It was, uh, yeah, it was, it was quite something to have somebody who has so much experience in really big, large companies talk to us about the importance and the relevance and how to.

Move to a path of healing in the workplace. I think it’s a great way to kick off 2024. And, uh, Susan has also offered to us, us being the evolved community, uh, an opportunity to access one of her tools, which she calls 34 ways to feel better. Instantly. It, uh, will be a link that you can access in the show notes and it will take you directly to Susan’s site.

And if you are interested in getting that in exchange for your email address, uh, you can get that great resource. Uh, I know I’m going to be checking it out and perhaps you will too. Thanks for kicking off your year with us. And we are looking forward to bringing you more spectacular guests this year.

Bye for now.


EVOLVE Podcast Episodes


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