Do you struggle with bringing your whole self to work? Does the baggage of past experiences weigh you down? This week, Aoife is joined by Ashlie Collins, founder of Humane Startup, a coaching, training, and consulting company helping leaders to be brave and unleash their true leadership potential. As a two-time founding team member for tech startups, Ashlie has walked the walk, navigating her way through often challenging leadership journies. Humane Startup believes that Healthy leaders build inspiring companies, and this week, we learn of Ashlie’s science-based approach that is helping leaders to set themselves apart and flourish.
In this episode, Ashlie and Aoife delve into a range of areas, including acknowledging and clearing emotional baggage, the key to unlocking yourself and bringing your whole self to work, the reality of values and the slippery slope of achievement. Ashlie also discusses organisational behaviours and self-awareness and explains why we must work on ourselves and take responsibility for our actions. Have you ever had a guilt or shame hangover after making decisions!? If so, Ashlie shares a guilt-free decision-making framework and reveals the best gift you could give yourself. Further key points throughout include;
– An introduction to Ashlie Collins
– Can you bring your whole self to work?
– Feeling out of alignment and the cost of flare-ups
– The consequences of full armour and quiet quitting
– The gold medal syndrome and the practice of gratitude
– An emotional shift: transforming your feelings
– The importance of identifying your core values
– The concept of acceptance and commitment therapy
– Listen to your body and stop judging yourself
– The impact of unresolved issues and mental blocks
– Everything is relationships!
– Being a role model: setting an example and influencing change at work
– Tips on how to process the ugly
– What being happier at work means to Ashlie
‘’You peg your whole life’s purpose around this one goal. And then when you achieve it, it’s really anticlimactic, because it didn’t do or fix any of the things you expected it to fix.’’ – Ashlie Collins.
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Aoife O’Brien 00:00
If you are a longtime listener to the Happier at Work podcast, you will have heard me speak previously about my signature Happier at Work program. The program has now moved beyond the pilot phase. And it’s for organisations who want to maintain a really great culture that they already have. They know that their staff are really, really important. And they want to retain staff for as long as possible, and drive a sense of better engagement at work. Overall, ultimately, what the program does is create a happier working environment using research backed methods. What that means is we look at the current state of play, what needs to change, and then we measure the effectiveness of that change, during the program and also when the program finishes. The program itself is very practical. It is designed with coaching as well, in order to embed the learning into the organisation. You’re listening to the Happier at Work podcast. I’m your host, Aoife O’Brien, this is the podcast for leaders who put people first, the podcast covers four broad themes, engagement and belonging, performance and productivity, leadership equity, and the future of work. Everything to do with the happier at work podcast relates to employee retention, you can find out more at happieratwork.ie.
Ashlie Collins 01:21
That was me having not that dealt with the fact that I didn’t feel good enough because of all these things that were completely out of my control. And then now I’m processing all of this in front of everybody. So when it goes wrong, it goes really wrong.
Aoife O’Brien 01:39
Hello, and welcome back to another episode of the Happier at Work Podcast. I’m delighted to have you join today and listen in on the conversation between myself and my lovely guest for this week, Ashlie Collins from Humane Startup. And myself and Ashlie cover, I’m trying to describe what what the conversation is about. But essentially all the stuff that you have, the baggage that you carry from past relationships, from any interactions that you’ve had in the past, any sort of biases and assumptions that you have about the world. So it’s it’s a nice carry on from the the previous interview based podcast with Lisa Marie Planske. In that we dive into a little bit more about this idea of bringing your whole self to work, that potentially being a problem because you’re bringing that baggage, anything really that needs to be addressed by therapy, we look at the impact that that has on business, and the kinds of things that we can identify and the kinds of solutions and practical steps that we can take in order not to let that affect us in business. As always at the end, I’ll be doing a synopsis of some of the key points, some of the key takeaways that we’ve talked about on today’s show. And I would love for you to join in on the conversation as well. When I post on social media, or feel free to reach out to me directly, you can connect with me through the website happieratwork.ie. That’s probably the easiest thing to do. And you’ll find all of my links there as well. Welcome Ashlie to the Happier at Work podcast, I am so delighted to have you as my guest today. And I can’t wait to dive into this conversation. Just to give people a little flavour of you, your background and how you got into what you’re doing today. Would you like to introduce yourself and share a bit about your background?
Ashlie Collins 03:26
Absolutely. Thank you so much for having me. I’m Ashlie Collins, CEO and founder of Humane Startup. A little bit of information on how I got here. I’ve been in the revenue generation and founding team business for well over 15 years now, working for a mix of large corporations, and then obviously founding technology startups in the HR tech and recruitment advertising space. And the work I do now really stems from my personal experience having founded and exited companies having navigated sales, leadership and rev Gen positions as a woman in large organisations, it took a toll on my mental health. And I witnessed those that I cared about, the friends that I founded organisations with, experienced their own challenges physically and mentally along the way. And that spurred me to become certified in psychodynamic therapy, psychotherapy and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, which is a form of psychotherapy. And I really wanted to merge these these two parts of myself. And that’s really what Humane Startup is we’re a coaching and training organisation that works predominantly with with founders and leaders and also the sales teams that that power their organisations, and it’s, it’s been a wild ride and I’m having a ton of fun.
Aoife O’Brien 04:56
Brilliant, and I noticed you use of the word coaching rather than, like I would have expected a psychotherapy or something, would that be to say that you kind of focus more on the future? Rather than looking into people’s past? Or how does that work?
Ashlie Collins 05:10
Well, a little bit of both, I made a conscious decision not to set up a therapy practice, because I just don’t feel like that would provide me with the outlets to address the strategic business challenges. I really needed to I wanted to responsibly label the work that I do, which is a combination of business and strategic work, but then also digging into that personal and I think when you’re doing that you can’t, you can’t run away from your past, it is foundational. And, you know, I’ve one of my favorite expressions kicking around at the moment is, you know, bring your whole self to work. And the truth is, we already do that. And a lot of that that cell sits in our subconscious is affected by what’s happened in the past. And it’s really hard to unlock yourself, and move into that next level of productivity, performance and success until you dealt with that. And you’re really in a in a situation to forge healthy relationships in your work and personal life. And so I’ve kept that coaching designation, under strain. I feel like it’s the responsible thing to do. But I absolutely bring therapeutic training and practices into into the methods that we use.
Aoife O’Brien 06:36
Yeah, it’s brilliant. So I love that. And I mean, I have loads of questions. I suppose maybe a place to start is a discussion around this idea of bringing your whole self to work. And I’ve never heard anyone else say that, that we were already doing that. But I totally get where you’re coming from, from the perspective that we’re already showing up as we are in an authentic way, most of the time, that we’re not kind of covering ourselves, but it’s that it is the fact that we’re coming with warts and all. And how do we address those warts that we have, essentially?
Ashlie Collins 07:12
Yeah, absolutely. And look, I’m certainly not above this is a huge part of why I decided to get into this line of work was to better understand myself. And to and to cultivate healthier relationships, I was catching myself, particularly under high stress situations, when we were exiting the company, that the first one that we built, when I got I had just relocated my family to England from the US and was promoted into a sales director, you know, position here, that’s when like, my I say, I use the word like flare ups, I would catch myself like doing things that were really out of alignment with the person that I wanted to be 100%, it impacted my performance. And in some cases, it costed relationships, like pivotal relationships, that could have been very beneficial to my future, you know, professionally, and that’s not even getting into, you know, some of the cleanup I had to do in my personal life, because my decision making just wasn’t solid across the board on account of how I was reacting to those those stressors.
Aoife O’Brien 08:23
Okay, yeah. I mean, would you? Are you comfortable sharing what those kinds of things that were coming up, I was gonna ask more of a general question around? What are the big issues that you see in business? So don’t be afraid to answer generally that that’s absolutely fine. But, I mean, if you’re if you’re open to sharing, like, what those triggers are, what those things that were driving the flare ups, or what those flare ups were, I’d be really interested to hear that.
Ashlie Collins 08:45
Yeah, I think I think what a lot of it, you know, I, I caught that I was hypersensitive to being what I perceived as being judged for being a woman, like I was taking other people’s stuff, personally, a lot. Separating their stuff from my stuff. Yeah, and then showing them compassion as human beings, you know, when they weren’t in control of their situation, I was taking that on making it mine, and then raging about it. And I think, you know, we’re starting to hear a lot more terms, like things like quiet quitting, definitely done that a couple of times, you know, because it was easier to just shut down or quit my job because I knew that I was highly employable. And I had, you know, tremendous that it was way easier to just like run away from the problem than it was to sit down and maybe have a tough conversation with somebody that I was frustrated with. And maybe reassess and established some healthy boundaries for myself. And each time I did that, you know, I do believe that everything in life happens for a reason and under there were there were powerful lessons for me to learn from each one of these experiences. But, you know, it did set me back in terms of achieving my financial goals. You know, my, my career achievement goals, each time, I did the easy thing by powering up my defense mechanisms, putting my armor on and just avoiding, you know, how I was feeling the tough conversations, you know, so as much as I would have loved to have been like, I’ll show them, which was really where I was coming from at this time, because I was wounded. You know, and it ended up being me that that got stuck with the consequences of that.
Aoife O’Brien 10:44
I mean, it’s so important, I think, I think people who are listening today, I certainly recognise some of that stuff, you know, stuff, we all have it, it’s there’s no point in saying, exactly to your point earlier, actually, I’m totally both faced. And I’m the I’m at the other side, and I can tell you how to do this. It impacts us all. And it’s similar, like I talk an awful lot about imposter syndrome. And it’s similar to that, that you kind of think that you’re, you’re through it, and you’re over it, and then you realise that you’re self sabotaging in another way, but it’s still related to that idea of imposter syndrome. And it sounds very similar to what you’re talking about, in the sense that, like, you think that there’s a destination that you’re gonna finally reach, and I don’t think it’s about reaching that destination, it’s about growing your level of self awareness as as your life goes on and understanding yourself better and how you relate to other people. And this, just the phrase sort of stood out for me was this whole thing of I’ll show them, which, you know, I can certainly relate to that, I’m sure a lot of people who are listening today, maybe we all think that at some point, if you feel that you’ve been wronged by someone in some way, or that you’ve been, certainly if you have been if you felt that that someone has underestimated you in some way, if they haven’t given you a chance that you felt, you should have had a chance and you’d be like, Oh, I’m gonna show them and then the detrimental impact that that has on us. ,
Ashlie Collins 12:08
Absolutely. And it’s really interesting to me that you bring up sort of your marking this achievement, this goal that’s gonna, like, unlock and fix everything for you. Yeah, because in my experience, it’s quite the opposite. And this is one of the phenomena that I’m now working with, you know, particularly founders on overcoming because there’s, there’s something called the gold medal syndrome that we see in athletes. And so when I have one of those it’s really – But it’s interesting because you, you peg your whole life’s purpose around this one goal. And then when you will achieve it, it’s really anticlimactic, because it didn’t do or fix any of the things that you expected it to fix. So it’s sort of like this, congratulations, here’s your existential crisis moment. And this happens a lot with founders because you’re you put your your businesses, your baby, and you, you’ve given your whole life over to it, you’ve oftentimes sacrifice personal relationships, your mental and physical health, to get to where you want to go. And there’s no amount of money in the world that may fit like makes that. Okay, and you and you have no idea where you’re gonna go next. So there’s a real danger. And I know, these are kind of like extreme examples of like being an Olympian or being a founder. But I think there’s a real risk of that, no matter what that goal is, like, hitting your happiness, to achieving something is a very, very slippery slope, I think when we’re feeling off or things are, or we’re feeling down, it’s an invitation to get curious about what’s driving that and as, and as much as we can, you know, control the controllables, which is how we respond to things, you know, being aware of how we’re feeling and what we’re bringing to the table, because we just can’t, we can’t fix other people.
Aoife O’Brien 14:11
I mean, there’s so much coming up for me now, this idea that, you know, I think in loads of different scenarios, so if you run the example I kind of think of and that I use, if you’re running for a marathon, and then you you do the marathon, it’s like, Okay, I’ve done that. Now, what comes next? If you set up a business, if you get the promotion, and there’s thinking that I’ll be happy when, I’ll be happy if, I’ll be happy in some point in the future, rather than assessing to your point, actually, what’s going on for me right now, in this moment, that’s meaning that I’m feeling less than happier. I’m not I’m not I’m kind of feeling a little bit down. And then you’re kind of the last point before we, before I kind of came in with this idea that you can’t fix other people. And oftentimes we put the onus on other people, or we put the blame on other people rather than addressing the issues that we have ourselves.
Ashlie Collins 15:08
Yeah, it’s such, and I think it’s natural. And I think a lot of that comes from one of the reasons that I decided to pursue certification and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy was that I found it to be a very compassionate therapeutic practice, and an invitation to accept that it is beyond okay to be angry, or frustrated, or sad. And that these are normal human responses to the circumstances that enter our life. And there’s no like, there’s no such thing as transcending the human experience, and you’re not going to be happy all the time. But what you can do is shift what you do with those feelings, and whether or not you sit in them, and you let them become blockers to you living life, exactly as you want to live it or whether or not you use that to learn about yourself, and take committed action to becoming different. And I’ve, and I’ve found it so much easier to take committed action, once I was actually clear on what my values as a person were. And one of the things that was really powerful for me. And this, this sounds so easy on the surface, like, oh, just pick three core values and everything will be well, such a hard if I can, yeah, you’re really grappling I found that in my experience, and this is true for so many of you know, the the folks that I work with, we take on values, because we think we should, yeah, we feel bad. If something that the company thinks is important, isn’t necessarily important to us, if there’s something that’s trending in society, at the moment is important. And it’s not necessarily to us it can really hurts and bring up a lot of shame to like to deal with the fact that those things are not as important to you as you feel like they should be. So getting to that like true list of of three is game changing, but I needed support to get there. I worked with coaches and therapists to get to that point, because it did bring up a lot of heavy stuff.
Aoife O’Brien 17:33
it’s really interesting that you bring up this concept of values, it’s something I talk about quite a lot on the podcast. And it formed a huge part of the research that I did. And my own experience of values is really from the corporate side of things, and being in companies where they talked about having these company values or these corporate values. And those values been fairly meaningless, to be honest, and a lot of the companies that I worked in fairly meaningless, they were it wasn’t the lift behavior in the organisation. But when I went on to do my coaching diploma, when I went on to do my master’s in organisational behavior, this concept of values came up again, and it started to make a lot more sense. And to your point about it’s really hard work to, to nail down, I’m still working on it, actually, to nail down what those core values actually are. And I think when I first started out, I had a list of around 35 different values, and I was trying to then group them together and be like, well, something like excellence, like I really value excellence and doing it doing things when I when I do something, I want to do it really, really well. But it also value learning from so those two can kind of combine a little bit into this value of learning. Like I want to do things really, really well. But it also value the learning experience that comes from things. And I think Ashlie, to your point on wanting to have whether they’re trendy or you feel like you should have a value of say integrity or authenticity or something like that. The reality is that your behavior may not necessarily reflect that, that you choose something that that, you know, and what is I mean, there’s other things like then respect and respect, integrity, honesty, those kinds of things, that I often wonder, should they just be a given in an organisational context anyway, that you should expect people to behave in that way? Or is it that some people, it’s not within their top three or their top five values, and therefore they’re not going to behave in a way that is in line with integrity so that people perceive it?
Ashlie Collins 19:42
Yeah. And that’s and this is where you’ve got to accept humanity for what it is and in devout values are an incredibly individual thing. And you can’t force a core value on anybody, no matter how much we would like for you know certain things to really matter to absolutely everyone. It’s that it’s just, it’s not realistic. And yeah, I do, I do believe that there is a way to express values with respect and kindness and to have boundaries with respect and kindness. So I’m a firm believer, and I gotta tell you how many times I say the phrase in my household, like, it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it, I do feel that there, yeah, there is a way to go about things. And then more importantly, it is more productive. So if you’re, if you’re trying to live out a value, you are going to get far closer to what you want, if you make people feel supported and held and seen and understood along the way. Yeah. So I think that’s just kind of like acting in service of your own best interest.
Aoife O’Brien 20:50
Yeah, yeah. It’s a really, it’s a really valuable point, I think, as well. And I think when it comes to values, like it’s not as if we’re going around all day, every day, being really aware of what our values are. But I think what comes up is, when you’re behaving in a way that’s not in line with the values that you have, or the top values that you have, you can really feel it. So I know, like, I’m not sure if kindness would necessarily be one of my top values. But I do like to treat people in a kind way. But if someone annoys me, they might, they might find that they’re receiving something that’s less than kind, or whether you know, I’m having a bad day, or that they just wrote me up the wrong way, or a few people have done something similar. And it’s like, okay, this last person has to bear the brunt of my retaliation on whatever’s going on. So it’s not as if we’re wandering around, acting according to our values all the time. But I know certainly for me, if I behave in a way that’s not aligned with my values, then I really feel it. And I feel really bad. And I feel kind of guilty. And maybe this comes back to your M, your acceptance and commitment, therapy type of approach, because it’s about accepting that these are normal human feelings to have as a result of the behavior that we’ve displayed. Yeah,
Ashlie Collins 22:10
and I think what’s nice about and it’s commonly shortened to act just to make it easy. So you don’t have to, yeah, that whole thing around. But I think what’s nice about it is it gives you a language to come back to when you’re experiencing these things in life. And so, you know, what, what Act provides is a framework or something called the choice point, right? So you’re already tight, you’re hitting choice points, a plethora of times throughout. And you know, and sometimes you’re going to make what act calls an away move. When you’re in, you’re in that you’re in that choice point. And then sometimes, you’ll make a toward move. And you tend to know whether or not you’ve made in a way or toward move of your values and from the person that you ultimately want to be based on as you rightly said, how you feel if you’re, if you’re feeling shame, and guilt and anger and fear, then rapidly made an away move. And so that’s, that’s a diagnostic moment, that’s a self awareness moment there, you don’t need to judge yourself for that every single human being on the planet does this and you are during any given day, you’re going to make a way moves and towards moves. It’s like a part of life. But it’s nice to have that framework to come back to so that you can start to make richer decisions as you move forward. And more and more of them will be in alignment with this true set of values that you have. And you’ll feel better. And I think also it will become easier to make tough decisions, the ones that have big scaled impact, the one that maybe there’s not the sort of very clear, this is the right thing, or the wrong thing to do, you can come back to like your value system, so that you have that decision making framework. And can, you know, I think stand strong in that decision, even if it is, you know, out of alignment with what other people think you should be doing. Because how many times do you do find yourself in that situation where it’s like, the way it’s always been done is this, but you’re trying to have an impact over here because of a core value that you have? And that that takes that takes strength? And where do you draw that strength from and you can draw that from your values if you’ve done that work. And it makes it easier to navigate that that process but you know, using how you feel is such a strong such a strong tool, because that’s that’s your body talks to you all day, every day is trying to let you know, you know what’s going on. And if you listen to that, you know, you can usually figure out pretty quickly. Have I made an away move here? Am I out of alignment with my values somewhere? Okay, great. Awesome. No judgment. That’s human. Here’s how I course correct that. I’m going to take committed action in this direction.
Aoife O’Brien 24:53
And I think you you’ve kind of used the key phrase there as well. It’s not about judging ourselves. It’s not about judging other people as well. It’s about no judgment. It’s about, you know, we’re just human. And we may I was about to say we made a mistake, but more like back to your language we made an away move. And let’s, let’s get back on track. You know, kind of going back to a point that that we discussed earlier, this, this idea of taking personal responsibility and not putting the blame on other people and not expecting other people to change in line with our expectations, but rather for us to do to work on our own stuff. And it goes on, I’m curious, and a couple of different areas, first of all, the kinds of things that come up for people and how they get tripped up, generally speaking, um, what impact that has, and what knock on impact that has on business?
Ashlie Collins 25:42
Yeah, I think I think a lot of what people carry with them into the office are their personal relationships. And these can go back all the way to your childhood, your relationships with your parents, with authority figures in your life that shaped you, you know, to be who you’re showing up, as in this moment, it can be what’s happening in your romantic relationship. Currently, it can be what’s happening in your, you know, your leadership role as the parent, if you are one. I think we carry a lot of these things. And because we’re not, you know, I think there’s a huge spectrum in terms of relation, relational intelligence, relationship intelligence. And we’re not always great at dealing with that in the personal area. And so it’s easy to bring that to work and kind of like exact things. So I’ve had a huge fight with my husband. This morning, I’m feeling undervalued, disrespected. And I show up into the office, and, you know, my peer challenges an idea that I have on a project that’s important to me. Like, if I haven’t dealt with that everything that just happened in that fight with my husband is coming out that for Pierre, who was just like, maybe we should have it here, maybe we should do something. I know, I’m coming at you Tiger. Yeah, so I think I think, you know, I think that’s a lot of it. I know, for me, and again, I do, I am quite comfortable being an open book, there was a lot of stuff that I carried with me from my earlier years into adulthood, I am adopted, I am a first generation University graduate. I have like a mixed ethnic background, and I’m neurodiverse, like, good luck. So I like there was a lot of stuff that I just had tucked away, and completely ignored. And it was interesting, it started to affect me more, the higher I climbed, because now I was under much larger stress. I had kids of my own, I was married, I had to show up as a partner, I had to, you know, communicate with my children in a in a healthy way that wasn’t just transferring all of my baggage onto them. You know, I had to work within a team environment. You know, I had to report in to somebody else which brought authority issues to the surface, you know. So there was just, I learned a lot about myself, particularly after that, that first founding experience, and then selling and then going to work for a team again.
Aoife O’Brien 28:26
Yeah, okay. Interesting. This, this idea it became more pronounced, let’s say, the further you progress, the higher you go, maybe greater level of success that you got, is that because you were not, you know, you mentioned that you’re under a lot more stress in that scenario. But is that because you maybe had a higher level of visibility then? And so when when people have this higher level of visibility, and anything that they do gets amplified? Because of the amount of visibility, the scrutiny that they’re under? Could that have been something else as well?
Ashlie Collins 29:00
I think that definitely played a role. And I think it was two things. My expectations of myself changed. So I I think a lot of that pressure was self inflicted. In the early days of my career, I was an underdog. So every time I achieved something, it was like a surprise. I was when I was one of the youngest on the team, like so there were a lot of factors there. And so that I was in awe of everything that was happening in the early part of my career. And then I achieved those things. And I was like, oh, man, I’ve just got to keep being like not even good. Like, I need to be extraordinary at all the things at all times like I did, I did that I blamed a lot of other people for how I got to that point mentally, but that was me, having not dealt with the fact that I still didn’t I didn’t feel good enough because of all these things that were completely out of my control. And then I think you add to that, that now I’m processing all of this, like, in front of everybody. So when it goes wrong, it goes really wrong.
Aoife O’Brien 30:12
Yeah. When it goes wrong, it goes wrong. Brilliant. The other question I had, so we kind of touched on this idea of the impact that it can have on an individual, the level of stress, that you’re holding yourself back in some way that maybe you’re not as successful as he could be, you’re not reaching your potential, you’re not making as much money as he could. But what is the impact on business, then from a business perspective?
Ashlie Collins 30:38
Yeah, it was really interesting. You know, and I’ve got a soft spot in my heart for anybody who’s in any type of revenue generation position, because a huge portion of my career, you know, was as an individual contributor in sales. And it’s fascinating, because one of the first places that this showed up for me was in prospecting. So you could always tell if there was something going on with me, and I’ve seen this play out with every know what to look for. And I can, I can see it and coach through it, but it yet when you’re not feeling alright, it is so much harder to reach out, to say other people. And because as a salesperson, you’re a part of that value, aren’t you? It’s it’s your expertise, and your experience and your problem solving and, you know, solutioning capabilities that make you stand out from every other sales individual. And so there can become some really strong mental blocks when when it comes to to pipeline development. So that was one area just very practically, that I see this play out, that can have a real impact on bottom lines. And then I think, you know, no matter what position you’re in, it is just, it’s just harder to organise your time or to, you know, reach your full capacity within within any given task to prioritise tasks. If you if you feel in conflict, all the time, internally, rotate task delivery, project delivery, hitting deadlines on time showing up for calls. You know, that’s another one that I know, I’ve even seen. It’s just, you know, the number of meetings cancelled.
Aoife O’Brien 32:28
Okay, interesting. Yeah.
Ashlie Collins 32:29
You know, because, yeah, you’re not, you’re not really feeling they just don’t have the energy to show up. Yeah, hold space for somebody else in that moment, because you’re off.
Aoife O’Brien 32:40
Yeah, this is it, I have absolutely no doubt that it can impact on on personal relationships, which is a really key part, I think of business as well, that if you kind of go back to your earlier example, Ashlie, where, you know, if you had to fight with your husband, and you’re, you’re showing up in a way and someone that you perceive that someone sort of attacking you for it, and you have retaliation in some way that like, that’s gonna definitely have an impact, because it’s visible in front of everyone as well, if it’s in that kind of team meeting scenario.
Ashlie Collins 33:10
Yeah, no, absolutely. And I think you hit the nail on the head, everything is relationships. Yeah, business. I mean, you’ve got your internal relationships that you’re managing, you have external relationships that you’re managing, you have your personal relationships, that you’re managing your relationship with yourself, that you’re managing, and if you’re not, if you don’t have the tools in your toolkit, because no one’s ever taken the time to give them to you, that it gets increasingly difficult because you’re picking up more and more stuff, the older that you get, and yeah, you just need to be able to work through that in order to keep your relational relationships healthy. And and I think for you to set an example I think when we talk about like the the power to influence others to change in a meaningful way, it like we, I know it sounds so cheesy, but like we have to be that change people do what you do, not what you say. So if you’re showing up in a really self aware manner every day and you’re handling problems with grace and you’re establishing healthy boundaries and having open dialogue around your boundaries and taking accountability for when you make an away move, then that starts to become the way people engage with you and then don’t like the way that feels and then they’ll go engage with others that way. So, I do think that you can have a an extended influence on the health of all relationships, it is powerful as a toxic person and in a team or corporate culture can be you know, that that same thing is true for leading by positive example. So you you can counterbalance that in your own behavior which I just that that’s what gets me out of bed in the morning. Like if I can arm people with the tools that they need to like to lead the way, I am all in.
Aoife O’Brien 34:55
Yeah, I love that. And it’s, it’s it’s a prime example of role modeling, you know. And as we progress and this kind of goes back to the earlier point, as you progress in your career, you need to be more of a role model to those around you, when you’re, when you’re starting out with maybe there’s less pressure on you to be that person who people can look up to. And but as your career progresses, as you get into management’s leadership positions, then people kind of, I won’t say all eyes are on you. But there’s a lot more eyes on you than there were previously and you need to be that really great and role model. Another important point that you brought up is this idea of, of self awareness. And we touched on it before we started recording. And it relates back to the last interview based podcast episode, which was aired a couple of weeks ago, in relation to this idea of bringing your whole self to work, but being you have to have that level of self awareness of how you’re showing up as well. And, you know, one of the points that I made, as a synopsis on that podcast episode was this idea that we all think that we’re much more self aware than what we actually are, I think, you know, and I’m guilty of this as the next person, you kind of feel like, Oh, well, I’m so much more self aware than other people around me. And we, I think we all do that, we all probably think that we are above average, and if everyone thinks they’re above average, then you know, there’s something, there’s something wrong there. And so maybe we can talk a little bit about self awareness what it means and like, if there’s someone listening today, maybe what are the some of the first steps they can take to grow in self awareness and start to address some of those issues that
Ashlie Collins 36:32
they have? Yeah, I think the critical first step is just realising that you are just as human as everybody else. And, and like getting comfortable with that fact, accepting that fact, you know, we’re all, neither special or unspecial. We’re all just humans out there doing our thing. And it’s really interesting, because within within the therapeutic community, we’re actually required to maintain what we call supervision. Because even the most highly trained of us are not like, Oh, my God, no, like we’re throwing ourselves in into an environment where we are going to be knowingly triggered, mostly by our clients. And so we, you know, we have to go see somebody to work through the stuff that our work brings up in us. And I think, I think that is a phenomenal idea for all human beings. Like, we’re all out there, we’re all triggering each other, we’re all being triggered, you know, it’s like this is part of being human. And so I think, I think accepting that you are, in fact, human, and then putting support mechanisms in place that feel comfortable for you, is, is the big thing. And that that can be a therapist, it can be a coach, it can be a peer mentor, I do, I do caution leaning too heavily on friends and family, because it’s not, it’s just not objective. It’s, it’s not, you know.
Aoife O’Brien 38:09
It’s the relationship element to that as well isn’t it? you know, and if I think of even talking to friends and family about someone else, or about some other issue that you’re having, but it could be that they know those people as well. And therefore, it’s definitely not objective. And if them being your friend or your family, you would hope that they will take your side. And that also means that it’s a little bit blurry, and maybe they’ll tell you what you want to hear about them. What you really need to hear
Ashlie Collins 38:37
Or it damages their perception of a relationship that you intend to keep intact. Like, let’s face it, sometimes you just need space to like process the ugly, like, you need to be the opposite of who you actually want to be in a safe environment. Yeah. So that you can work through that and show up as who you want to be in, in real life. And that, you know, seeing a lot of relationships be very heavily strained on on account of not being able to separate like, what is this? Do I need to keep? How much is venting? How much is this person like, genuinely hurting somebody that I love? very dearly. So, you know, they’re, they’re, you know, there are some challenges there.
Aoife O’Brien 39:17
Yeah, the venting versus the kind of malicious side of things, I suppose.
Ashlie Collins 39:21
Yeah, absolutely. And then you’re there. There are so many tools and resources now to to help guide you through setting those values. I think it is the best gift that you can give yourself, it is not going to be easy. It’s going to bring stuff up, get the support that you need for it, but do it, do it, do it, do it because it will make it so much easier to navigate choice points and to be able to have an open dialogue with yourself so that you can choose how you respond to what comes in, you know, into into your environment.
Aoife O’Brien 39:52
Yeah, I think, you know, one thing that you mentioned earlier, which I think kind of stood out for me is this idea of faster decision making. So Do you know if you can make decisions faster? What kind of difference would that make in business in your life? In general? Yeah. If you can make faster decisions, and I think I’m one of those who certainly, you know, sometimes I can make fast decisions, but sometimes I can’t. And so I think getting clear on my own core values, I think, would really help with that.
Ashlie Collins 40:19
Yeah. And I think the other the other thing to add to that is, you know, relatively guilt free decision making, which means that you can stay productive after you’ve made that call. Without that guilt and shame hangover. So it’s just like, tough decision made on to the next thing and you you sort of your capacity to be productive is not diminished, because you’ve had to like tackle this huge emotional thing. And that’s, I think, it’s a highly undervalued. Inner peace.
Aoife O’Brien 40:46
Yeah, well, absolutely a lot of energy expended on feeling guilt or shame, because you’ve made a certain type of decision that was hard to make. But once you’ve made it, and you’re still feeling that’s kind of the difficulty. And but yeah, I think getting clear on those. That’s a really great point. I’m conscious of time here. And one of the questions that I ask for everyone who comes on the podcast is what is being happier at work mean to you?
Ashlie Collins 41:14
Yeah, getting happier at work for me means having healthy relationships, you know, being able to come in and and to engage with my team and my peers, and feel good about those interactions, even when we’re solving tough challenges, or even when there are, you know, tough things going on to the business. I just, I like to have my inner peace, intact as I as I moved through that, and, and it feels really darn good to help other people get theirs to.
Aoife O’Brien 41:52
Yes, no, yes.
Ashlie Collins 41:54
So that’s what being happier at work is for me, I like for people to feel safe.
Aoife O’Brien 42:00
That’s it. Yeah, we deem important for it, I think, yeah, feeling safe. And if people want to reach out and connect with you, what is the best way they can do that?
Ashlie Collins 42:07
Yeah, you can follow me on any of your preferred social channels. The organisation name is Humane Startups. So kept it simple. That’s, that’s all of the, those are all of our handles, also visit www.humanestartup.com and if you are intrigued by the opportunity to define your core values, and are looking for support on that process, we do have the startup therapy app that is available for download on the Apple and Google Play stores, there’s a seven day challenge completely free, that you can engage with that will will help you get clear on your values and start making aligned decisions. And you can actually reach out and schedule a free 30 minute consultation with me. As part of that process. If you feel like there’s some tough stuff that comes up that you would like additional support with.
Aoife O’Brien 42:56
Thank you so much for your time today, Ashlie, I really, really enjoyed this conversation, I have a feeling we’ll be talking again, about one or two of these topics that come up where we dive in a little bit deeper into that. So really, really appreciate your time today. Thank you so much.
Ashlie Collins 43:12
Thank you, thank you so much for having me.
Aoife O’Brien 43:18
That was Ashlie Collins from humane startup. And I hope you enjoyed that conversation, I certainly took a lot of weight, if you’ve ever been at the brunt of someone’s anger at work or or feel like you’ve been treated unjustly. Or if you have been the person who’s acting in that way, and you wanted to understand a little bit more about why that might be. Maybe you didn’t realise, or maybe you did realise and you have done something about it. I really really enjoyed that conversation, I would love for you to continue that conversation with us over on social media do feel free to connect with me, all of the links are there on my website, happieratwork.ie
We started the conversation talking about this concept of bringing our whole self to work. And we hear an awful lot about that across social media, I certainly am exposed to a lot of that kind of stuff, you need to be really authentic. But there is, I suppose a balance in being authentic, sometimes being too authentic and saying that’s just how I am and the excuse being but you want me to be authentic. I think that’s taking things into the extreme. So you’re being authentic by being angry or you’re being authentic by oversharing or something like that. We talked about this idea of being out of alignment. I think that’s the words that Ashlie used was being out of alignment, probably a polite way of saying you’re bringing your stuff and I’m going to try and stay polite as well. You’re bringing your staff with you into work that really should be dealt with with a therapist, and it’s having a direct impact on your performance. Maybe you’re taking things a little bit. Personally, this idea that it’s easier to run away than to have those tough conversations and I know how tough conversations can be and I have run away from countless tough conversations in my career both personally and professionally. So I can totally relate to the scariness associated around that we focus on doing maybe what’s easier rather than what’s right. And then we can become defensive. And we talked about this idea of putting our armor on, and I’ll show them, you know, if you want to prove someone wrong, one thing, as a slight aside that one of my mentors, I always remember him saying, it’s more important to be helpful than to be right. So it’s not about being right or wrong. So if someone asks you for something, and you know that that’s not really what they need. And this was in the case of an agency based work, so if they’re asking for something, and you’re like, rather than just giving them what they asked for, you can probe a little bit and try and be helpful and give them what they actually need. So as a slight aside, but you can apply it certainly in this case, as well. So you want to be helpful with people rather than trying to prove yourself right and prove other people wrong. I love this idea, then that we always think that there’s a goal or an achievement, and I certainly am guilty of this as well, we think there’s a goal or an achievement that’s going to unlock absolutely everything actually refer to it as the gold medal syndrome. So it’s that thinking that you think, I’ll be happy, when I’ll be happy when I get that promotion. I’ll be happy when I change jobs. But you carry all of those feelings with you still, and it’s about addressing the underlying issues, and not always going for the next achievements. It’s about learning to be happy in the process of learning to be happy with what you have. And one thing I talk about in relation to happiness at work is gratitude. Just being grateful for what you have or saying thank you to someone else, or showing support to someone else. The other thing we touched on is we often put blame on other people for maybe our own shortcomings, we don’t even see them. But we tend to want to fix other people rather than wanting to work on ourselves, on our own issues. But we can’t, you can’t fix other people, you can’t make other people change. Some of the actions, then the specific practical tips that we talked about was shifting what you do with those feelings. So acknowledging the feelings that you have, and shifting them to be committed to becoming actually a different person, and how can you do something different with those feelings that you have, but you do need to acknowledge the feelings there, it’s just human, to have those feelings. So you, you need to give space to actually feel those feelings as well. I loved how we talked about values that comes up again, and again, on the podcast, if you want a more in depth conversation about values, there are previous podcast episodes that I can recommend to you about them. But this idea that we take on values because we think we should have them. So you know, I touched on the idea that we could have shared values of respect and integrity and things like that. Not only is it difficult, because different people have different meanings for those different words. But sometimes they’re not actually our values at all, we just think that people expect us to have those values when actually they go against what what our values actually are not that they go against what our values are, but they’re not in our top values. And so when we’re expected to behave in a certain way, and we don’t, then it can make us feel exhausted, because we’re masking what our real values actually are. Ashlie then introduced this concept of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, or as she referred to an act, or I’ve heard other people call it AC t as well. And introducing this concept of the choice point. So when you reach a decision point, essentially that you have a choice whether to make an away move or toward move and that in reference to your values. And despite having that awareness of what your values are, it makes it much easier to make tough decisions. There’s no right or wrong answer. But use how you feel and your body will talk to you when it comes to making those decisions. And there’s no judgment here either. I want you to understand more of the impact that this has on businesses. And the way Ashlie described it is that it affects us more the further we progress because our expectations of ourselves elevate the higher we progress in our careers. And when we are unable to meet those expectations. And when when we have more eyes on us more visibility and visibility is one of the triggers of imposter syndrome as well. That it becomes increasingly difficult to reach out when we when we’re not really feeling our best we have these mental blocks about reaching out and asking for help. One of the specific examples that she shared how it can impact on businesses is pipeline development. So when you’re looking for new sales leads, I think because her background, you know that’s associated with her background, but if you think about your own In situation, in your own role or in your own business, what can the impact of that be? Have you having unresolved issues and mental blocks that are getting in the way of you reaching your full potential, and reaching the best performance that you can have, it can have an impact on our ability to prioritise to manage our tasks properly, as well. We touched on this idea of role modeling and how as you progress to an organisation, there’s more eyes on you. So it’s more important for people to behave and to not bring their issues, not kind of openly demonstrate the kinds of things that that essentially should be already dealt with. And in keeping with our theme, we talked about what makes a good leader and this idea of self awareness came up again, that’s something that we’ve spoken about on the podcast previously. So having a great deal of self awareness, knowing what triggers you knowing the impact that you have on other people, but also your ability to handle problems, that you don’t get overly stressed that you’re able to handle difficult situations at work. And that you can show other people and be a role model for other people as to how you handle those problems, show that you still have those problems. You’re just as human as everyone else. And I love this idea that Ashlie introduced as well that we’re all triggering each other. We’re basically just triggering each other from whatever traumas that we may have had in the past. And but we need to accept ourselves as human and seek out support in a place that feels good for us. And on that note, I’m going to leave it there for this week. And I’ll be back next week with another solo episode, and I look forward to sharing my insights with you then.
That was another episode of the Happier at Work podcast. I am so glad you tuned in today. If you enjoyed today’s podcast, I would love to get your thoughts head on over to social media to get involved in the conversation. If you enjoy the podcast, I would love if you could rate, review it or share it with a friend. If you want to know more about what I do or how I could help your business head on over to happieratwork.ie