STB 1 | Women Community

Our Overworked and High Achieving Self with Michelle McGlade

Michelle McGlade is back with another solo episode! You might get a couple of these over the next few weeks. Michelle shares her story with fibromyalgia and how she was able to overcome her health diagnosis. The main cause of it? Michelle’s tendency to overwork and not put herself first. When she started to focus on herself, her symptoms slowly began to fade away.

Our Overworked and High Achieving Self with Michelle McGlade

Hello, beautiful lady. Welcome to the M sessions. What I’m calling the M sessions, where there’s time for just you and me to chat a bit more about what we’re seeing with some of the women we’re interviewing just some of the themes popping up, but more importantly, we’re digging into what I believe. And what I believe is that true leadership begins from the inside out. When you are strong inside of you first, you can then step into a next level of leadership for others. And we kicked off last week. I think I’m going to hang with you maybe a few weeks in a row here. We’ll see how it all shakes out, but I’m having fun with this and I want to keep going and I’m getting amazing feedback from you. So thank you for that.

Now I get you. I know that when I say time for you working on yourself, it can trigger a thought in your mind, you know, Hey, I got crazy going on. I got kids crawling all over my lap while I’m trying to do a call on zoom right now with a colleague or a potential partner or client. I get it.

Yet every time in my life. Well, before I go there, let me say I get it because I am really the master at saying, I’ve got to do all the things I really am. And we’re going to talk about that today. So I get you, and I just want to say that what I’ve learned is that that mechanism doesn’t work and that every time I’m able to slow it down, dial it back. I actually come back, not just stronger in self-confidence, energy, voice, but I’m actually able to accomplish things with a lot more ease and grace and flow. And it’s so curious to me that it really can be quite simple yet. It’s so, so, so very difficult for us all, really. Can it be so true that when we take those moments to curate and cultivate the leader within us, by creating space and time and focus for her, can it be that things will come with ease, grace and flow? Could that be true?

I’d love for you to find out for yourself. And that’s what we’re talking about here on the M sessions, we are digging into the mechanisms that we use to keep ourselves very, very busy, to keep our confidence at bay, to smoosh that confidence down and make sure that that imposter is winning out. We’re talking about the mechanisms that keep us from really speaking our truth, amplifying our voice, putting ourselves out there in a way that allows us to shine and to allow others around us to shine.

And then we’re talking about how to flip that switch, why we flip the switches, how to stop that from happening and to really step into your full potential as a leader. Because when you’re strong inside of you, you are able to lead yourself more fully. And when you are in that space consistently, only then are you truly able to lead others.

We kicked it off last week with Seen, But Not Heard. And today I am diving deeper in to the High Achiever and our insatiable desire or mechanism, not truly a desire mechanism to over work and how that shows up, what that looks like and some ideas on what you can do about it. So, let’s get started.

I’m going to call this M session Overworked and Under Paid. That feels right, but not in the way you might think, not meaning what you might think. We’re going to dive into the mechanism of overwork. It’s extremely common. I know for high performers, I will speak for myself. I’ve used this mechanism in many, many ways to my benefit, and then not so much to my benefit. And I have a very unique lens to that now that I’d love to share with you.

And also I see it over and over in my clients, but it’s not just high performers. I think there are many of us who use the mechanism of over work to really underpay ourselves. Because what I know at this stage for me is that, well, it appeared as if pushing, pushing, pushing, and using that mechanism of overwork was serving me in such a great way. If I could only get to the next job the next week, the next hour then, and only then, I would have what I desire and then, only then, would I be truly successful. And when I can see now and looking back on that is, that was just one of those negatives, sneaky little mechanisms, holding me back, holding me back in really, really big ways. And in the end, really the only person that’s suffered or didn’t benefit was me, was me dammit.

All right. So let me share with you how that has shown up. I’ve written about this. I’ve talked about this in different interviews. I haven’t talked about it in a while and if you’re new to this show or new to me coming in through this show, I definitely haven’t shared this story, but so just as I was describing. I, from as long as I can remember, was very much focused on high performance. I was the type of kid that did a little bit of everything, right? So I was maxed out, you know, fill in the blank. You know kids like this, and a lot of them are going from the early morning class. So 7:00 AM the class before the class, right. In all of the advanced courses, taking an extra class after school or over involved in the activities. So just doing, doing, doing everything for me personally, from cheerleading to math team to wind ensemble to college courses, I mean, you name it. I was doing it. And then speech team on the weekends, that sort of thing.

And so, by the time I arrived to my first year at university, I had already been struggling quite a bit. I struggled with migraine headaches most of my life. And it just really amplified. Put together the kind of coming off of that, like huge hustle through high school of overwork, to you know, just poor habits of caring for myself, we’ll say. And then I had some emotional trauma going on at the time. I remember my mom was sick and they weren’t quite sure what was wrong with her. Maybe she had cancer. So it was just like that perfect storm. Oh yeah. And I was just starting college, that’s not stressful at all for an introvert. So, it was just kind of that perfect storm of circumstances coming together, when I look back, I don’t really have any other explanation for it, but it set off a storm. I’m not kidding when I say a storm of symptoms and I became very, very sick. Headaches, migraine headaches, every single day, eventually seizures, small seizures where I’d black out for a period of time, depression, not sleeping, fill in the blank, you name it. Medicated and was eventually diagnosed beyond the migraines with fibromyalgia. I had constant every single day and really just, I think I was 19 at the time. I mean, just really suffering. That’s really, really suffering. The great news that came out of it is I got myself out of it. So interesting. Right. Mechanism of overwork mechanism of definitely holding in the emotions and mechanism of putting myself last.

So, these are the elements that I can see now for you looking back, but I turned it around. Now, if you know anything about fibromyalgia, it’s pretty much a life sentence. There’s no plan or way or path out of it. But I think I can kind of understand at this point at this stage, thank you, universe, how I did it. And it has to do with what I’m sharing with you. I am just a plethora in my life of these different mechanisms and switches being turned on and off. So here’s what I did to get myself out of it. I focused on me first. Yep. You heard me. And it was painful. It was painful to be in that high performance, high-achieving mode and to have to switch all that off and to go inside, to focus on me. But I be damned I was not going to be living my life the way it was going at that stage.

That was not going to be my life. And so I flipped the switch and I found some new mechanisms. I turn those off. And I turned on the ones that got me here, fibromyalgia free. What did I do exactly? Well, I stopped. I did the opposite, you know, and in this story specifically, I did more of the opposite, which was I cleared my calendar. I did not tolerate overworking. I did less. I was involved less. I achieved less. I put myself first, right? Instead of last on the list underneath all of the activities. And busy-ness that I created, I created that. I started to put me first. And in that situation, in this example, in this my story, I spent a lot of time on studying nutrition, making time to eat quality foods and understanding what those quality foods were for me and what my triggers were.

I spent a ton of time on that, the emotion piece. I don’t think I got that figured out at that point, just being honest, but I definitely doubled down on me first. And you know, the other thing I did was I trusted myself despite what other people were saying. I knew inside of me, I knew I had this intuition or this conviction, or both a drive, a voice, something saying this isn’t it, this isn’t your life. This isn’t how it has to be. Listen to me and do this. And I trusted in that. I went against what doctors were saying. I just stopped all the medication and I trusted myself. And the gifts that came out of that time, you can imagine, it really felt like my life, the life that I was dreaming for myself, that I was now stepping into and looking forward to creating. It really felt like it was all crashing and burning, but I knew I had a choice. You always have a choice. And my choice was not to overwork anymore, to not put myself last, to not maybe hold in my emotions too much. Like I said, that one took longer.

So, I stopped overworking. I put myself first, it was up. You could say it was out of necessity. And this is what happens for most of us. I could have chosen that any time at any point sooner, but I didn’t. I waited until there was a crisis. And that crisis motivated me to say, I just got to get up and put one foot in front of the other and get strong inside. When I got strong inside, by not overworking by putting myself first focusing on me, trusting myself. That’s when I was able to start showing up and leading myself back into the direction, the life, the picture, whatever it was that I wanted to create. And that’s when I was now back into a place where it would even be possible for me to lead others. Are you getting this? It’s like I was paying myself last.

And that served me until a point when it didn’t serve me. And I’ve done this over and over again and tell it’s a crisis. I don’t do that anymore. And I don’t want you to either stop underpaying yourself and pay yourself first. This shows up in so many other ways. Let me share with you another story. I was coaching someone just as recently as this week and she is a wildly successful CEO and very similar to what I just shared about me. High, high, high performer, very, very, very capable and using the mechanism of overwork to keep her inner voice at bay. So, when we started our conversation, the most pressing item on her mind and where she was looking for some guidance and support was around just being able to more clearly articulate who she is, what she believes. So her kind of her personal brand, put that out into a professional environment, whether that’s on a LinkedIn profile, let’s say, or a website or content creation for a blog, but she was looking for taking what she does like and her magic stuff, right? Her magic sauce, her zone of genius, taking that and being able to articulate it out more clearly into the world, which is beautiful. And by the way, something I love, love, love to do. It’s part of the heart and mind hookup.

And honestly, we started to work on drawing out some of those pieces of that puzzle and matching them together. And then the conversation went a step deeper into really looking at what she wants to create. Because when you go into putting a message out there, it really, you know, there’s a lot of different ways you can craft that. There’s a lot of different aspects of who you are that you can share. And so I challenged her and I said, well, what do you really want to create? And that’s when I could really see that she had crafted the story, using the mechanism of overwork to convince me that we needed to get all of this branding, messaging and content put together and out there urgently. But yet when I asked her what she wanted to create, that’s when she got quiet. And that’s when we uncovered that she doesn’t know what’s next for her. She’s not connected to that voice. She’s not clear on what might be next. And what’s powerful about this is we all do it, we all do this. We’re running around so crazy convincing ourselves. If we don’t take care of this, if we don’t do that, we’ve got to do this. We got to do that. And I said to her, you don’t need to do any of those things that you just told me for the first 20 minutes of our conversation. None of those things matter because you don’t know what you’re doing next. It’s like putting the icing on the cake before the cake has been baked before it’s even been mixed actually, before you’ve even went to the store to get the ingredients.

You see what I’m saying? And I’ll loop it all the way back around for you because there were a lot of angles to this conversation. But one of the first things she said to me as I’m having trouble leading my team. That’s interesting because if we’re not strong inside, we are not able to lead ourselves. And therefore, we can’t show up and lead others.

Overwork. It’s a big one. And I know I could be chatting with you on this for probably forever because there’s story after story, after story. But these are just two stories that I’m thinking about right now. I choose stories that are very different, but really applying the exact same way.

So I ask you, beautiful lady, how is the negative mechanism of overwork showing up for you and what are you going to do about it? Before we wrap up, I want to leave you with one thing that I know you can do, because here’s the thing. I want to call this out again. If I haven’t said it loud enough yet, is I get you. Life is fast. Life is furious. There is a lot on your plate.

I get it.

Sometimes when I need to slow down, it really stresses me out. I think I don’t have time to slow down. I have, I’ve just got too many things I’ve got to get done today. The work is unending. It’s impossible. I can’t stop. I can’t take a few minutes for myself. And inevitably when I use that approach, it just seems to continue to crescendo. And what I’ve learned is to one, notice it much quicker, but two that every time I take that time, I’m able to do so much more and show up so much more powerfully.

So, let me just give you one example and it goes back to what we chatted about last week, but I wanted to bring it back up. It’s just so simple. Everybody can do it and you can do it in two minutes. You can spend five minutes. You could spend 25 minutes on this. And what I’m talking about is the beautiful mechanism of breathing, conscious, deep breathing.

What breathing does is it frees you up from the past, all the negative chitter chatter, right in your head, it frees you up from the past because it requires you to be in the here and now it requires you to be present. And I also believe it frees you up from the future. There are some of us who are like, I’m just living in the future constantly, right? So conscious breathing frees you, and it places you into the moment. It places you into the moment. So, one really simple thing you can do is when you’re feeling this angsty and anxiety and the push, push, push, and the work, work, work, and the overwhelm that we all get into, and it’s not possible for you to just stop for the day. I know that it is possible for you to take one minute, one minute, before you get out of the car, for example, one minute before you get on your next zoom call or two or five minutes, you know, on your drive home. And to just consciously breathe, breathe in, take it in from above. Move that breath all the way down, deep into your belly and let it out and do that three to five times. Take yourself into the present moment and out of the past, out of the future and into the here and now, and to be with you.

You know, I had a moment yesterday where I did almost exactly this. I did a little bit more, so I’ll take you one step deeper in beyond the breathing that you can do. I was very emotional yesterday. There’s a lot happening in our world, but yet business moves on and I had a client to be with. And when I woke up, I really wanted to just cancel my day. I wanted to go hide like a turtle back into my shell. And instead I thought to myself, well, I can definitely clear, make some more space, right? I can make some more space. Let’s look at what’s maybe not so necessary right now in my day and my week. But, I want to show up for my clients. They need me.

So, here’s what I did. I did create a little bit more space, right? I created a little bit more space. And prior to being with that client because of having a little bit more space, and for me, it was an hour. I just feel like in an hour’s time, I can really relax and ease into it and prepare. And during that time, I did a little bit of randomness, like some diversion activities, just to kind of settle me in. Whether that was just clearing out a couple of things on my calendar, responding to one email, cleaning up my desk. Just some diversion activities. And then as we were getting closer to the time with my client, that’s when I started the breathing and I even used a mantra. It’s just something I created. I don’t know that I heard this anywhere.

It’s just something that’s meaningful to me. And the one that I use is just highest and best self. Highest and best self, which means to me in my mind that I’m more than enough and to be present. And in this moment, I will trust in myself, which I talked about that I will be able to bring forth what I need to bring forth for the person in front of me. As long as I stay present and trust that it will be there. And it always is. And so I use that mantra. I tap on the top of my head, do some tapping. And then as I go into the session, I just focus on being present through my breath. Feet on the floor. And there’s more there, but just to give you a beyond the breathing, something that I do, or a process that I follow, that I can teach you of when I’m really out of sorts and what I need to do to get myself to show up.

Okay. So let me just recap that for you before we wrap for today. So of course, you can always do the breathing, breathing three breaths while you’re in the bathroom for goodness sakes. You just, it’s totally doable.

When you’re really out of sorts, this is the process that I use.

One, I create more space. So, I look for things that don’t necessarily need to happen today or this week. And I moved them and I create enough space for me. It just feels like about an hour, you know, but for you, it might be different than I just create that space by moving things around and making sure I have about an hour to just, I guess it’s play and create within myself.

I do some random diversion type of activities just allows me to relax a little bit before I start the breathing, which is the next step.

Then I do a mantra.

And then I go into whatever it is, the meeting, the speaking opportunity presentation, the coaching session. And so, it’s a little bit more of an engagement there, but it’s definitely a process that I can pass to you and you can follow. Alright, that’s what I got. We’ll talk to you soon.

One more thing before we say goodbye for this week, I, as you know, if you’re following along and you listened last week, if you didn’t, that’s totally fine. It’s a great, great episode. And I’d really encourage you if this is resonating for you to go back and listen. But, I was hesitant to start putting some of these things out there and in this format it feels exposed and it feels like, is anybody listening? Will they want to hear this, that sort of thing?

And the reason I’m telling you this is because it’s, you know, it’s not easy. It may look easy. And I know I tend to make things look easy, but it’s not easy to really tap in to your inside and share yourself with others, but it can be so, so powerful. And I don’t mean everybody needs to go start a podcast and do this. I mean, just expressing yourself to, you know, the person sitting next to you. Michelle Tenzyk and I talked about this. It doesn’t have to necessarily be on a big stage, but to really start getting your voice out there and your story.

So coming back to the M sessions, I was excited, yet hesitant. Yet, I don’t know, I did it anyways. And I received a message back and I just want to now get teary-eyed. Thank this person for reaching out to me and letting me know that last week’s episode made a huge difference. She said, “I also had parents who fought when I was a small child and remember doing the exact same thing, being quiet as possible, hiding and just praying no one would come in and get me. And I so related with your emotion. It definitely, wasn’t a safe time in my life. And it’s been amazing to hear somebody else’s story around something similar.”

So, I want to thank this person. I love hearing from all of you and I want to thank them because it meant the world to me to hear that I could make an impact in her, just for her, I guess. So, the reason I’m sharing this with you, with all of you, is because I would like to make an ask. I would love for you to share this with one person, one person who you believe this may resonate with, because you just never know. And my intention for this is to help flip a switch for one more person.

So, I would appreciate that if you just take the opportunity to send the link to one person in your life who you believe could benefit from this conversation. Alright, beautiful lady. I can’t wait to hang with you again and we’ll talk to you soon.

About Michelle McGlade

Michelle McGlade

Award-winning woman in business and best selling author, Michelle McGlade began podcasting in 2015 for the love of uncovering the story behind the story.

The Modern Leader’s Maven, Michelle believes success is an inside out game and leadership of self is the key to building teams and unlocking the next level growth in business and life.

She is the Founder & CEO of Evolutionize Media, a podcast network and consultancy bringing to life voices of modern leaders and innovative organizations by aligning strategy, development, launch planning and production for new and rebranded podcasts.

With over 200 interviews under her belt from her first podcast Making the Maven, Michelle’s newest podcast, She’s Talking Back, features conversations with women leaders on leveraging intuition, holding yourself back, and what it really takes to create the success you desire.

Michelle’s work has been featured by Microsoft, Thrive Global, Minneapolis St. Paul Magazine and beyond and she’s slayed the stage at organizations such as Autodesk, eWomen Network and Deluxe Financial Services.

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