Our bodies are often the wisest parts of who we are, but we regularly over-ride the messages they send us when they tell us when we’re at capacity.
We push through, over-work, see physical and emotional pain as something to overcome instead of important data to take into account about our needs and how we are living.
And even if we do take in these messages clearly and see the need for needed shifts and care, it feels like change is not an option or acceptable.
So we push ourselves until we crash. And this is often normalized - sometimes even celebrated - as a part of how we do work and life.
And when the body dials up the pain or the anxiety to finally get our attention, the default for many is to become at war with the messenger - seeing our bodies as the enemy instead of the culture of work and health care as the culprit.
This is only reinforced by the expectations from work and how everyone else “seems to being doing it all with ease”.
My guest today shares her story of working through healing from an unsustainable work schedule where burnout showed up, took her out, and changed her career trajectory.
Racheal Cook is an award-winning business strategist who believes entrepreneurship doesn't have to be so complicated. Through her business, The CEO Collective, she helps women entrepreneurs to scale sustainable businesses without the hustle or burnout. When she's not working with women entrepreneurs, you'll find her playing board games with her 3 kids and husband in Richmond VA.
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Racheal Cook: I was always so proud of how well I thrived under pressure and stress [Laughs] until that happened. It’s, like, it took my body literally having this reaction for me to be like, “Oh, no, this is not normal. You have a level of stress tolerance that most people would crumble under, and so, if you're really at this level, it’s time to press pause,” and I realized the environment was what was toxic. The pace of it was what was toxic.
[Inspirational Intro Music]
Rebecca Ching: Our bodies are often the wisest part of who we are, but we regularly override the messages they send us when they tell us we’re at capacity. We end up conflating anxiety and exhaustion and overwhelm with weakness or some kind of moral failing. So we push ourselves 'til we crash, and this is often normalized, sometimes even celebrated as a part of how we do work and life, and many may not have a choice to do anything differently as they try to just make ends meet, so their bodies hold the burdens of stress and exhaustion from a deeply flawed system around work and healthcare, so then our bodies just have to turn up the dial even more to get our attention, often at a great cost.
I'm Rebecca Ching, and you're listening to The Unburdened Leader, the show that goes deep with leaders whose burdens have inspired their life's work. Our goal is to learn how they’ve addressed these burdens, how they rise from them and become better and more impactful leaders of themselves and others.
Culture plays a big role in why we often miss important messages about our capacity. We push through, overwork, see physical and emotional pain as something to overcome instead of as important data to take into account about our needs and how we’re living. Even if we do take in these messages clearly and see the need for shifts and care, it feels like change is not an option or even acceptable, and when the body dials up the pain or the anxiety to finally get our attention, the default for many is to become at war with the messenger, seeing our bodies as the enemy instead of the culture of work and healthcare as the culprit.
This is only reinforced by the expectations from work and what we perceive as “everyone else seems to be doing it all with ease,” right?
I vividly remember a conversation I had with a former supervisor. I was living overseas running a program that was growing quickly past my ability to meet its needs. I cared for a volunteer board of community leaders and often recruited to fill seats, cared for my existing volunteer leadership team, I raised over six figures every year for the annual budget, along with all that’s involved with caring for donors and community care, I planned for and promoted our annual service project and regular events along with doing the individual and group work with the students I was serving and supporting every day. When I shared how this felt unsustainable and I was wearing out from the pressure of it all, my direct supervisor told me that maybe I should just burnout and come back to The States after one year.
Now, I could not believe what I heard. I still feel that kick-in-the-gut feeling as I heard that my wellbeing was not important and the message I received was loud and clear: “If you can't do it, go ahead, cave, and we’ll find someone else to do it.” The message I was expendable was not a new one. There was always this sense that I should feel fortunate to have the job I did no matter what was asked of me, and I bought into that for a long time, even professed it, sadly. It was what I breathed in my whole life. Now, I love to work, and I’ve been fortunate to work in spaces that interest and excite me, but when I got sick or needed to travel for a family wedding, I felt like I had no wiggle room for living life or just being human. Work always came first, and I often saw my colleagues brag about the relational, physical, and emotional sacrifices they experienced in the name of work. Something seemed off, but it was hard to tease out as everyone around me was acting like this was normal.
So after studying human behavior and psychology for almost two decades, I see things more clearly. First and foremost, I see how early childhood traumas and difficult life experiences, coupled with unrealistic expectations around how we work, along with the things we do to keep access to healthcare, and societal pressures are contributing to the reckoning we are facing with how we work while caring for ourselves and our loved ones.
The adverse childhood early experiences study often referred to as the ACE study is a groundbreaking study that was conducted by the Center for Disease Control and Kaiser Permanente in the mid-1990s with the results coming out later in the 1990s. The initial study focused on how traumatic childhood events may negatively affect adult health. Now, this gold-standard research study of 17,000 asked participants about their experiences with childhood maltreatment, family struggles and challenges, and current health status and behavior, and the ACE study found a direct link between childhood trauma and the adult onset of chronic disease, incarceration, and employment challenges. The higher the number of your ACE score, the greater the incident of serious physical health struggles in addition to challenges with steady work and relationships.
Now, in 2015, the RYSE Center adapted this framework and added much-needed data and language to update this important study where it also took into account generational trauma, race, social location and conditions, and local context while noting the ongoing impact of microaggressions, implicit bias, and epigenetics. Their updates also named the physical and neurological impact of these collective experiences so they could be understood more and addressed instead of pathologizing and othering and, in addition, they shift the language from calling what people develop from these ACE experiences as disorders (which are so individually focused) and move to seeing these responses as distresses which are normal responses to past and continued stressors.
Now, my guest today discovered the connection to her own childhood distress as she faced growing her own family while working through healing from an unsustainable work schedule where burnout showed up, took her out, and then ended up changing her career trajectory. Racheal Cook is an award-winning business strategist who believes entrepreneurship doesn’t have to be so complicated. Through her business, The CEO Collective, she helps women entrepreneurs to scale sustainable businesses without the hustle or burnout, and when she's not working with women entrepreneurs, you'll find her playing board games with her three kids and husband in Richmond, Virginia.
So pay attention to the key inspirations in Racheal's early life and family that now inform her life's work, listen for Racheal's burnout story (it is one I suspect many of you can relate to), and notice how she's able to navigate caring for her aging parents in ways that stretch her but don't take her out. Now, please welcome Racheal Cook to The Unburdened Leader podcast.
Racheal, I'm so glad that you're here, and I'm so looking forward to this conversation today.
Racheal Cook: Thank you so much for having me, Rebecca. I know that we're gonna have an awesome chat.
Rebecca Ching: In prepping for our conversation, I came across a story that you shared that I ended up watching on repeat. It really moved me, and it really feels like it's the heart of unburdened leadership and what inspires kind of what you do. You've learned a lot about business and entrepreneurship and community from your father who was also a small business owner, and I'd love for you to take me back to when you were a kid back in the '80s, and your mother experienced a really serious accident and ended up in a coma for six months while your father was caring for you. He stopped working and cared for you and your young siblings.
Racheal Cook: Yeah.
Rebecca Ching: Walk me through how that season influences how you lead your business and life today along with the key lessons that you learned about community.
Racheal Cook: Yeah, oh my gosh, this is such a big one, but I'll say this is one of those things that you can only connect the dots looking backwards, and it took me a while to understand why I had this pull to do things differently than a lot of other small business owners and entrepreneurs. It all comes back to my own experience as a small child. So my parents were actually both entrepreneurs. My mom was a soil consultant.
Rebecca Ching: Oh!
Racheal Cook: So she started this business where she was, essentially, doing environmental impact studies. Anytime a new development was being planned or they were going to go in and do construction anywhere, she would go out and test the soil and create the impact study and say, "Here is why you are able to build on this piece of property."
Rebecca Ching: Wow.
Racheal Cook: And so, in 1984 to 1985, '86, '87, she was, like, the only woman doing this, and it's so funny because she told me recently that the month before she got hurt -- she got hurt July 1987 -- the month before she got hurt, she had her first $10,000 month.
Rebecca Ching: Whoa.
Racheal Cook: Me being me, I was like what is that in today's dollars? It's $22,000 in today's dollars.
Rebecca Ching: Wow.
Racheal Cook: That is amazing because, keep in mind, up until the '80s, a woman could not go and get a line of credit or a loan for their business until, like 1985, 1986. A decade before you couldn’t even go get a bank account without a husband signing off on it.
So now, making $22,000 in today's dollars, very few women entrepreneurs do that. I think it's less than 5% of women entrepreneurs and small businesses that are making that much money. So my mom was incredibly successful and way ahead of her time in a lot of ways.
My dad started an insurance agency in 1985, and anyone who knows anything about the insurance world, I mean, it is very much a sales-focused business. His whole job is selling insurance, all different types of insurance, but he specialized in commercial insurance, home insurance, property insurance, things like that. So when my mom got hurt, she had literally dropped me and my sisters off at our babysitter's (who we called Nanny). It's, like, a family babysitting where she had a few kids she watched every day, and she watched the three of us. I was four. My sisters were two years old and eight months old. And so, literally, my mom had dropped us off and was at the stoplight headed to her office, and she was making a left-hand turn through the intersection, and a tractor trailer hit her. She was the second car in line, and it hit her driver-side door.
So mom had a traumatic brain injury. They had to use the jaws of life to pry her out of the van. If any of us were in the van, we would not have made it. They told us there was no way any of us kids would have made it if we would not have just been dropped off. We would have all been gone, but she was in a coma for three months. She woke up right before (I remember) my little sister's birthday. She didn’t know she had a baby. She kind of vaguely remembered being pregnant, and my little sister was about to turn a year old. So she was in the hospital, basically, for the next two years.
So my mom kind of was gone from the time I was four until I was six, and I remember my dad literally was like I can either fight for Laura, my mom -- because back in 1987, there was not a lot of support for traumatic brain injuries. There was a ton they did not know.
They wanted to take her off life support a couple times. There were a few people who said, "She's too far gone. She's been on life support. She's in this coma. She's gonna be a vegetable," they basically said. He fought for her. I'm pretty sure he punched a couple of doctors in the nose at some point.
At the time, I mean, my dad was only a couple years into his business. We are so lucky that the group of guys who all started in the insurance industry at the same time -- they had all come through sales school together, they had all come through their training together -- they literally rallied around my parents, and for a solid, probably, six months those guys were like, "John, you take care of Laura. We're gonna rotate our agent numbers. So we'll give you the commissions so you can take care of Laura." They kept us afloat because her business was instantly shut down. There was no way anybody else could do that work. She basically had a part-time assistant, but no one who was qualified to do that or step in, and my dad, same thing. He had a part-time receptionist, and that was it.
So it was a really, I mean, crazy time that I hope no other family has to go through, but fast-forward to now, what that really drove home for me is my mom has very few memories of me as a small child. I have very few memories of me as a small child. Something happened to me when I started having kids. My twins are now 12, and my youngest is 9, and when I had my youngest, I was turning the same age -- my mom was 31 when she got hurt. I was 31, and here I had these 3 kids under 3.
Rebecca Ching: Mm.
Racheal Cook: Kind of the same ages as me and my sister, and I had this, like, moment where I was like oh, this is why I'm doing things differently, because tomorrow is not promised, and I don’t want to sacrifice these years with my kids hoping that one day I'll get that time back because you might not get it back.
Rebecca Ching: Yeah, just letting that breathe for a moment. So I want to circle back to a couple of things. I'm thinking about your mom in the '80s in the kind of agriculture, agrarian business as a woman. I just want to acknowledge that. I grew up in the Midwest, so I'm familiar with that culture, and that took a lot of fortitude, no doubt. The stories that she could tell.
The other thing that I kept kind of repeating in my mind is your father's colleagues who were also just starting out, and when you talk about the commissions, they would basically give him the credit for a sale, and they would rotate that so that he had some income coming. There was a community that said we're in this together, and I had to pause in knowing how much, even still today, these kinds of things send families to bankruptcy or they miss the care that they need, and so, it doesn’t happen or recovery's stunted, all of these things, and there was something about this gift of your family rallying, having a family member in town, and then this group of colleagues that just came in. I'm thinking if we did that more -- I mean, I know this happens. I know this happens, but it's not enough, and this is back in the '80s, and I'm just thinking now it's even more individualistic and people are on more and more islands.
So I just wanted to reflect on that. I didn’t know that about your mom, and I just want to make sure to give her major props as part of your story too. It's also powerful, too, because sometimes those of us in small, lean businesses, there isn’t someone who can fill in for what we do -- and service-based.
The other piece that's standing out to me is just when we hit those milestone ages, when our kids do, that maybe when we went through something difficult, our bodies remember. [Laughs] Our bodies remember.
Racheal Cook: I absolutely had that experience, and I remember talking to a friend who, it wasn’t that she didn’t have a parent who got hurt, she had a parent who passed away when she was young, and when she hit the age that her mother was when her mother passed away, she had a similar experience to what I had when my mother got hurt which was, like, this whole holy crap, I'm this age, something could happen anytime. It's almost like you reprocess all of it again, right?
Rebecca Ching: Yep.
Racheal Cook: It was kind of intense. That whole year was pretty intense 'cause I was rumbling with that. I was dealing with small children. I was kind of, like, "Well, I better get everything in order," and I did. I mean, I set my business up so that if something happened to me, we have an emergency plan.
Rebecca Ching: Wow.
Racheal Cook: We have a plan for if I can no longer run it what's gonna happen, if I can only run it partially what's gonna happen, if I have to step away for a period of time what's gonna happen. I was like I'm contingency planning the heck out of this because I'm the only income earner for my family. My husband's a stay-at-home dad, and I knew when we made that decision that it meant I had to make sure that if anything happened to me, his first responsibility wouldn’t be trying to figure out how to run the business or take care of business or run back and try to get a job. I would want to put my partner in the situation where they could put me and the kids first instead of immediately going to how am I gonna pay for all of this.
Rebecca Ching: So you talk about how you kind of became the contingency superstar in that piece, and it's interesting 'cause I do hear this a lot with those I work with who've had any kind of scare like this and then get really focused on that, but I would like to just hear a little bit more about community and where community plays a role in your contingency plans too.
Racheal Cook: Community plays a huge role. I really am kind of old school in the thought that business is built on relationships, right? I think this is something we've -- especially since so much has moved online into the digital space, we kind of missed that. There's something magical that happens when you invest in real relationships with people -- not transactional relationships with people, but real, meaningful relationships -- and I'm finding it's, I want to say, kind of rare, but also I find these amazing people who are so aligned. They totally are on the same page with me. So something that has just always been with me is I started this business knowing that each person who hires me, one, that is a gift to me, that is a gift to my kids, that is a gift to my family. They are helping me make this life happen, right? I don’t take that for granted at all. I'm always just incredibly grateful, and whenever I have a new client sign on to work with me and my team, I mean, a little prayer goes out to thank them for that trust that they've put into me and to thank them for the gift of being able to do the work that I love and be paid for it. I think that's one huge thing.
I do find that, I think, something that's helped me so much is just this intentional building of community. Not just a network (like a database of phone numbers and emails), like a real network, and I find that this is something that people don’t know how to do anymore. Again, I think the internet has kind of broken this for us a little bit.
Rebecca Ching: Totally.
Racheal Cook: My way of thinking about this is think about how hard it is to make friends as an adult. It is so hard, right, because most of the friends we had early on when we were kids, it was like whoever sat next to you at school, on the bus, on the playground. When you went to college it was 0:20:22your roommate, whoever was in your sorority or was in classes with you. You get your first job, it was those people who were there in that.
Rebecca Ching: Exactly.
Racheal Cook: It's all a relationship of convenience, right? But when you go out there to be a business owner, especially a business owner who's predominantly marketing and serving people via the internet, then we don’t have relationships of convenience anymore to lean on. We have to be intentional about putting ourselves in situations where we can meet interesting new people and we have to be really intentional about cultivating those relationships.
Rebecca Ching: You touched on a lot about time, and it feels right now, too, like it's so fleeting. Honestly, so many are strained just to keep their heads above water, so how do you prioritize cultivating these strong relationships and community with all of your responsibilities, because I hear a lot of people saying, "I just don’t have time." "I don’t have it in me." "I don’t have the bandwidth," or, "It's not my personality," and those kinds of things. So how do you prioritize those things?
Racheal Cook: Well, I will say, one, I am actually a super introvert. I'm a highly sensitive person. I definitely go and hide quite a bit, so I'm not the person that's out there, like, networking, working a room, going to every single thing. If I go to a big event, the next day I am introverting very hard. [Laughs] Me and Netflix are hiding out.
But I think, when it comes to this, the thing that comes to me the most is, you know, historically, pre all of this capitalistic society we have, women were very communal. We lived in community. We raised families in community. We supported each other in community, and it's only been the last, what, 200 years that we've been really drifting away from that?
In some ways, people say, "Well, I'm barely keeping my head above water. I don’t have time to build a community or to surround myself with community," but my thought is you're drowning because you're not surrounded by community, because you don’t have these people to lean on.
Rebecca Ching: Mm, I feel that.
Racheal Cook: Do you know what I mean? I have people in my family and non-business friends community -- my local community, right? So if I need help with my kids one day, which is one thing I hear. Anybody who's raising children right now, we are going through some crazy stuff, but I know that we have this great neighborhood community that we have intentionally cultivated relationships with. We have a great family that lives across the street from us. Their kids are about the same age. They are also homeschooling, and we tag-team all the time, all the time. A couple weeks ago, my husband and I had an appointment early in the morning. Earlier that week I messaged Angie, the mom, and I said, "Hey, can the kids come hang out with you for two hours on Friday morning?" "Absolutely!" We do that. We tag each other in back and forth. If she needs something, we're there for her. If we need something, you know, vice versa, and because we've intentionally cultivated that, it makes it so much easier. It makes it so much easier, and that translates into business too.
I have these women in my business community who, when I -- I'm always out there meeting people. I'm sure you are the same way. It's hard not to meet people when you’ve been in this as long as we have, right? What I have found is not everyone you meet is gonna become a soulmate person where you're like, "Oh, my god, this person totally gets me. I want to spend more time with them," but when you do meet those people, you know. There's some tug. You're like, "Ooh, I like this one. I need to spend more time with her." It's just a matter of intentionally touching base.
So there are a couple people locally here to me. I'm in Richmond, Virginia which happens to be a great city for women in business. I'm also on a mission to get more people to move here [Laughs] 'cause it's a great place to be for business and for raising a family. For those people locally, I will regularly call them and say, "Hey, let's co-work together.” “Hey, let's meet up for lunch.” “Hey, I see you're doing this really cool thing.” “Can we meet up and talk about what you're working on?" So I'm always connecting with the people who are local to me to spend time together. Even people who aren’t local to me in Richmond, I have a lot of business friends in the Raleigh area, a lot of friends in the DC/Baltimore area, and I will message them and say, "Hey, I'm pulling together a little mastermind day. Are you interested in coming and spending time with me that day 'cause I've got this beautiful space." So I have people who will come to me just as a peer-to-peer day, and half the time we don’t even talk about business, we're just talking about the whole gamut of, like, what's going on in our lives, but it becomes that connective tissue that we need, right? It's because we've carved out that intentional time, and I aim to host these things once a quarter, then it becomes so much easier to, one, have that in-person time which really solidifies relationships, but it also gives us the little nudge we need to continue those more casual in-between like Voxer-ing back and forth or messaging each other on social media or whatever. So I think it's a lot of that. It's a lot of intentionally carving out that time to build that deeper relationship.
Rebecca Ching: I'm thinking about the objections I often hear because I feel like there's still a narrative that a lot of people hold (and I've had to battle it too) that "I don’t need that" or "if I need it, that means I'm doing something wrong."
Racheal Cook: Ooh.
Rebecca Ching: And it's real.
Racheal Cook: It is.
Rebecca Ching: Versus what you said, as much as we need oxygen, we need (what you just talked about) that connective tissue, yet there's this narrative, particularly -- I mean, I'm thinking about my neighborhood with my incredible mom friends and community in addition to those that I know and those that I work with and support, there's still this message that "I need help" is like, "I'm sorry. I'm sorry I need this" versus, "Hey, tag, you're it. Can you help me, and I got you next weekend?" Can you speak to that a little bit 'cause I'm sure you hear and see that too.
Racheal Cook: Yeah, I think, again, it comes back to my own personal experience of how I was raised. My family had no choice but to ask for help. I come from a very big family. On my dad's side, I'm one of 26 first cousins with multiple variations.
Rebecca Ching: Oh, my gosh!
Racheal Cook: A big Catholic family. From my mom's side, she's one of six. I'm the oldest of 15 cousins, and I think in my life growing up I was just always surrounded by family, and because of my mom's situation, there was always help, you know? She couldn’t clean the house. We always had someone come take care of the house. We couldn’t be, you know, alone with just her because she couldn’t take care of small children. We always had babysitters. In fact, from the time that mom was really home again in 1990, we had Joan who we just thought of as our second mom. She literally made my wedding cake. She made my kids Christmas stockings. Joan started being there to help and support my mom around the house, taking her to run errands, taking her to doctors' appointments, and as my mom's needs grew, Joan just was always there, right? She was always in the house taking care of us, and, to me, that's just so natural. That of course you need help, of course if there's some limitation, it's okay to ask for help, it's okay to lean into other people and ask for support.
Rebecca Ching: Interesting.
Racheal Cook: And I think this comes back to that rugged individualism that we have just been raised in.
Rebecca Ching: Yes.
Racheal Cook: This whole, like, well, you should be able to pull yourself up by your bootstraps. I call BS on all of that. All of my success has not come from me having all the credentials and degrees; it has come from the people I know. Every big opportunity that I've ever had has come from a connection that I nurtured, that I spent time with, and then they reached back to me for a speaking opportunity or an interview or to attend a conference together. That has opened all the doors. It hasn’t been my bio. It hasn’t been my books. It hasn’t been how much money I make in my business. It has been the connections that I have made that continue to open doors for me.
Rebecca Ching: Well, you nailed it with the rugged individualism 'cause I'm thinking about how I was raised, and I grew up in the Midwest so it was like you're out there shoveling snow in below zero weather, and you’ve got to figure it out, you know? I grew up in a home where my parents ended up getting a divorce and family wasn’t close by, but we did lean on other people and have community.
The contagion of rugged individualism, especially on women, on moms and those who parent, it has been toxic, and I love what you just said. It wasn’t your bio, it wasn’t your credentials, it wasn’t these incredible things you produced (these are all incredible things you produced and achieved), it was your relationships is what you give credit, and it's the relationships outside of work that you credit with your success, so I love that you came into entrepreneurship with asking for help and getting help. That's kind of a given. It's a part of the gig.
Racheal Cook: Yep.
Rebecca Ching: It's not this sense of "look what I did." I remember there was this incredibly brilliant guy I worked with on Capitol Hill. He was in charge of all the finance, and he was one of ten people at the time who read the whole Text Code through and was very proud of it, and he would come in and brag about how much he worked and how much he was at the office all week and away from his family. And so, there are those kinds of narratives that are out there too like I did this, and I sacrificed, but that actually isn’t really moving the needle forward for anyone, especially ourselves and the things that matter most.
Racheal Cook: Yeah, I don’t think that's doing anybody any favors, and I think someone like that has a lot of ego. If they're saying -- and I'm just gonna say it -- if they're saying "I did it all myself. I, alone, did this thing," like, one, how much privilege do you have to be able to say that because somewhere behind you is someone running your household, making sure there's groceries and food and your laundry is done and your dry cleaning is picked up. Somebody is educating your children. There's just an immense amount of privilege behind that.
So I feel like, for people who are like, "Well, look at me, look at me. I'm doing it all on my own," like, no, you're not. You have people behind you, and there's probably layers and layers of people who you're not even acknowledging or recognizing how much they're doing in order to make you be the person at the top.
Rebecca Ching: I have nothing to add to that. Yes, and we need more of that. We need more people talking about that so thank you. Just briefly, before we move off of your family, I think this is really important 'cause you're talking about how you're now in the position of caring for your parents and your young kids. What is often called the "sandwich generation." And so, I'd love for you just to speak -- I know people listening to this are in that situation too, so for you, what are the tradeoffs that you weigh to care for your family (your aging family and your growing family) that helps keep burnout at bay?
Racheal Cook: Yeah, I think, like I said, I've been contingency planning for a long time. [Laughs] So it definitely played in my favor. I knew very early on that, at some point, I would be responsible for taking care of my mom. I just knew that. I knew that her health was gonna continue to, as she aged, require more and more and more care. So the writing started to be on the wall a while ago. I kinda knew that we were headed in that direction.
So what kind of has happened for me in the last couple years is -- the pandemic really accelerated a lot of this, too. My mom broke her ankle, and anybody who has an aging parent knows you're just one fall away from a very quick succession of events that can totally incapacitate your parent. So my mom broke her ankle, was no longer able to move herself with her walker, had to be put into a convalescent center for three months so that she could have help because she couldn’t put any weight on her ankle. At the same time, you're off your feet for that long, and you lose all your muscle mass. So, now, she's permanently in a wheelchair and can no longer do any of her daily living activities on her own. She can't shower, go to the bathroom, dress, prep food. She needs around-the-clock, full-time care, and I kind of knew once she broke her ankle -- 'cause we'd had a few other little incidences -- I was like mm, this is not gonna be good, and then the pandemic happened, and she was locked in the house.
So I kinda knew I was gonna have to step in because my parents just were not doing well, and the first year of the pandemic we were all like let's stay away from mom and dad. We don’t want to get them sick. They're elderly. They're not in good health. Let's kind of not worry about it too much, but by the time Thanksgiving rolled around that year, I was like oh, my god, I think my dad's gonna drink himself to death. His stress is off the charts. He does not know how to handle -- he has no coping skills for handling around-the-clock nursing care in the house. He couldn't even sleep in his own bedroom. He was literally sleeping in a recliner because he couldn’t sleep with the nurses coming in and out of the bedroom all of the time, and mom was just continuing to get worse.
So I kind of gave my team a heads up. I was like I think I'm gonna have to step in here with my parents and handle some things, so let's put a plan in place so that when I do that, I can operate on low gear and everything else runs. Thankfully, because we have the systems and the team that we do, you know, they were like no problem. The marketing systems are rinse and repeat. The sales processes are rinse and repeat. If you can show up for five to ten hours a week, we've got everything else covered. And so, that's what last year looked like for me. Twenty twenty-one was a series of business going on autopilot, me putting my dad in rehab (putting your 71-year-old dad in rehab is a whole journey), I stepped in and took care of my mom, and the reason I could do that was because, one, I've been doing my own work on my own trauma. I've been doing my own work on being an adult child of an alcoholic. I've been in therapy for my own managing anxiety since I was 18. My family couldn’t understand why I was doing all this stuff, but I was like no, this is not normal. I shouldn’t be like this.
And so, I think having these practices for so long, I immediately called my therapist and was like, "Hey, we need weekly sessions. I need somebody to kind of hold space for me to process this stuff so I'm not dumping it on my husband or my sisters or anybody else who I know couldn’t take it." I reached out to my own coach in my business, and I said, "Hey, this is happening. Can you be my sounding board for me kind of moving a couple things around?"
I also have had a lot of self-care practices. It's one of those things where I realized very early on, as someone who's highly sensitive and has struggled with anxiety and panic attacks in the past, I also struggle with chronic pain and fatigue which is apparently super normal for people who've struggled with childhood trauma because you internalize all that trauma and it physically hurts you.
Rebecca Ching: Exactly.
Racheal Cook: I have had these practices of, I mean, probably what a lot of people would consider extreme self-care. I have a chiropractor. I have a massage therapist. I get acupuncture. I go do floats. I do everything I can to manage my nervous system so that I don’t have to take a handful of pills and numb out, and because I've had that foundation, when it came to this, my first thought was I need to call in my emotional support team, I need to call in my physical support team (my doctors and all the people who help me feel as good as I can), and I need to call in the business support team. I was just like who can I call? I need all the support right now, so I fully stacked my support as much as I could. I mean, I was scheduling out every single thing I needed for me because here I am meeting with accountants and lawyers and doctors and all these people for my parents. Yeah, leaning into community, again, leaning into support, asking for help.
Rebecca Ching: Exactly what I was gonna reflect. It was so in your bones that this is what you do. You ask for support, you lean into community, you problem solve, and you had the knowing as an adolescent, hey, this isn’t actually how I'm supposed to be.
I want to circle back on something you said that often gets almost weaponized on social media. I think it's really dangerous, and you talked about as things were deteriorating with your parents and knowing that you needed to step in, you talked to your team, and they said, "Okay, if you can do five to ten hours we got you."
Racheal Cook: Yeah.
Rebecca Ching: Now, I often hear, whether it's on social media or just in some of these circles, "I only work five to ten weeks, and here's my fancy lifestyle." I'm kind of being really dramatic about it, but that wasn’t what you were saying there, and that was a hard-earned, intentional -- so that a lot of years of pregame, work, and strategy and learning and testing that got you to the point where you could do this. It wasn’t a flash in the pan, and for people who work more than that, they're not failing. There's a lot of just jacked up messages about work and success, so I want to (just to make sure I named this) circle back to that when you needed to pull out it wasn’t this weird badge of honor but it was something that you had prepared for and made margin in your life and business for.
Racheal Cook: My business was designed for this.
Rebecca Ching: Ah.
Racheal Cook: For me, this was a few different things. One, I don’t work one-on-one in a way that my business depends on it. So I always have a few back-pocket one-on-one people 'cause it's fun, but it's not my biggest revenue source. It's a small percentage of my revenue. The majority of my revenue, the bread and butter of my company is The CEO Collective program, and that is a group program. So it's not just me delivering it either. I'm not the only person creating content. I'm not the only person coaching in there. I have a whole team of mentors who coach my clients. I have a whole group of people who come in and teach expert masterclasses, so I don't have to drive that bus solo. I have support in the marketing team. I have support in my sales team. I have support in the delivery team. I'm not solely responsible for any of those things, and I think that's really, really important because if you don’t have marketing and sales happening, you know, then the revenue dries up and you're stuck. If you don’t have other people helping you deliver your product or your program or your service, then if you're not available, you get stuck.
What happened for me was the biggest thing I needed to show up for was our weekly coaching call that I host inside of the group, and you know what we decided? We decided that my director of operations could pop in a couple times a month and host that call for a few months while I was really in the thick of it, and our clients loved it because they got two brains for the price of one. They had me, who's the person that they knew coming into this program, and then they had Amber, my director of operations, who has not only been behind my business but multiple seven- and eight-figure businesses.
I think the other key thing is I don’t do anything in my business that isn’t building an asset. I don’t believe in creating things for the sake of creating, and I think this is one thing -- if you take one thing away that you can implement, it is create assets in your business that you can rinse and repeat. And so, because I think of all of my marketing as an asset that is there, not just to be a content couch potato on my podcast feed buried all the way in the bottom, I pull those things out 'cause if it was good a year ago or three years ago, it is still good now.
Rebecca Ching: Yeah, repurposing. There is this push to always be doing something new and different. There's, again, more toxic messages, but I want to move a little bit and talk a little bit more about burnout 'cause I touched on that.
Racheal Cook: Sure.
Rebecca Ching: We're obviously talking about this during 2022 with the recording of this, and there's a lot of talk about burnout for good reason, and you've been talking about creating a sustainable business and life without burnout.
Racheal Cook: Yeah.
Rebecca Ching: That often feels fleeting to many.
Racheal Cook: Yeah.
Rebecca Ching: And you're already teaching today that it's about community, it's about building in systems, but I'd like for you to kind of walk me through what was going on in your life and family when you faced your own burnout that led to some zhuzhing and some changes that you made in your life and work.
Racheal Cook: Yeah, well, I didn’t really rumble with this until I was in the consulting world, so when I finished my MBA, I went straight into the consulting world. They basically recruit out of MBA programs. That's what happens. You're going into finance. You're going into consulting. A lot of those programs, the first couple years of being in the consulting world, I mean, they are gonna grind it out. You are gonna be living on the road. You're gonna work 80 hours a week. You might be home on Sunday, and then you're just gonna wanna sleep the whole day. That was my life for several years, and I finally hit the point where it was right before I was about to get married, and I remember I kind of had to beg for a few days off for my wedding.
Rebecca Ching: So not cool.
Racheal Cook: Yeah, they really didn’t want to let me have a honeymoon after my wedding. They were like, "You're already taking two days off to go home for your wedding," and I was like Jesus, you know? It was just super ridiculous.
Rebecca Ching: So toxic.
Racheal Cook: So toxic and, at the same time --
Rebecca Ching: And common.
Racheal Cook: -- you are indoctrinated with "this is how you succeed in this career. If you want to go on this path, this is what you do. If you can spend a few years with us as a consultant, you can take any job anywhere." That's the big promise for going into consulting, right? If you go into consulting, you will know so much about how businesses work that you could basically go in and do almost anything you could imagine with your career, but they burn people out hard. They burn people out hard.
Rebecca Ching: Earn and burn. Yep.
Racheal Cook: I started having panic attacks for the first time. I was driving home from DC. I was on Interstate 95, and I started having a panic attack in the middle of rush hour traffic, and if you’ve ever driven around DC coming down out of northern Virginia, I thought I was going to straight up die.
And so, I pulled myself over to the side of the road. There's, like, all of this traffic and tractor trailers rushing past me. I'm thinking I'm having a heart attack. I call my husband, and I'm like, "Where's the closest hospital? What do I do?" I'd never experienced that before. And so, I ended up having ten panic attacks in ten weeks. I was going to hospitals almost every single time 'cause no one was saying it was a panic attack. They were saying, "You're fine. It's just stress. Let me give you a handful of Xanax and whatever else."
Rebecca Ching: You're fine, it's just stress?
Racheal Cook: Yeah.
Rebecca Ching: Let's just pause for how jacked up that is, but yeah, sorry.
Racheal Cook: But that's what they did, right? And so, I actually took short term disability leave for three months. I filed for short term disability from my job. Legally, you can do that. You can call whoever's on your HR team and say, “Hey, I'm having a health emergency. I need short term leave.” I took that time, and instead of going to the doctor (who really wasn’t helping me), I found a therapist, I found a life coach, I found a yoga teacher, I found everybody who could possibly help me, and that's the first time I ever heard "burnout." That was the first time I ever understood or started to dig into anxiety and panic attacks. I was always so proud of how well I thrived under pressure and stress [Laughs] until that happened. It's like it took my body literally having this reaction for me to be like, "Oh, no, this is not normal. You have a level of stress tolerance that most people would crumble under, and so, if you're really at this level, it's time to press pause." I realized that the environment was what was toxic. The pace of it was what was toxic.
So when I decided to start my business, it was all kind of accidental. I didn’t leave that job thinking I was gonna start a business, I left it thinking I need to take care of my health for three months. I didn’t even know if I was gonna come back or not.
And so, I was on a yoga mat because yoga helps me so much. If you don’t believe in mind-body connection to manage stress and trauma, I'm telling you yoga saved my life that summer. I went to one or two yoga classes a day. I became very close with my teacher, and she said, "I know you don’t think you want to go back to consulting, but have you ever thought about helping someone like me? I'm a couple years into this studio, and I'm struggling." That was, like, my lightbulb moment. I was like oh, yeah, there are these small businesses that don’t know business. They just started it 'cause they love what they do, and so, I started with her, and as I really started thinking about this business (like, if this is gonna be a business, what could it look it, what's the potential here), then I got pregnant with twins six months later, and that's what solidified it for me because once I got pregnant with twins (for me, it was a high-risk pregnancy), I knew I had to do it different. I knew that I couldn’t just repeat what I was doing in the consulting world in my own consulting company. I had to drastically reevaluate how I was gonna work, how I was gonna think about work, and how I was gonna think about how I could help people.
Rebecca Ching: I mean, again, even in your face-down, burnout moment, you built a team.
Racheal Cook: Mm-hmm.
Rebecca Ching: You built a team of people to help you, and the mat was your anchor. I love the lightbulb moment. I'm grateful for your yoga teacher for asking the question that she did. That's a really cool origin story combined with getting pregnant with twins, so here we are today.
I'm curious how your approach to building and running a business decreases the risk of burnout, and how does that approach differ from conventional wisdom?
Racheal Cook: Well, one thing is I went into this business knowing a couple things. One, I was very clear about my time available, right? I went into my business thinking I physically only have bandwidth for 20-25 hours a week, and that's what I had.
If I did any more, I would have nothing left for myself or my kids or my husband. When you're coming out of burnout, you really have to consider that. I think constraints are good, 'cause constraints make you get creative.
Rebecca Ching: Yes.
Racheal Cook: So if you only have 20 or 25 hours a week, then you’ve got to be focused on the highest-value tasks that only you can do in your business, and guess what, it's not bookkeeping unless you're actually running a bookkeeping business. But it wasn’t bookkeeping, and it wasn’t managing my inbox, and it wasn’t following up with "what time can you meet me on these things," it was creating content, having sales conversations, connecting with other people to get those opportunities for interviews and speaking and so on and so forth. So that constraint was there. My energy was a huge constraint for me. I knew that I could not do things that were going to pull me so far out of what my energetic capacity was at the time, and I think it's really important to know what fuels you up and what drains you.
So there are some things that will absolutely drain you in your business, and if you use those things as where you're putting your time, you're just always gonna be exhausted in your business. You're gonna start to resent it at some point.
Rebecca Ching: Yes.
Racheal Cook: So anything that drains your energy, outsource it, put a system in place, get something there. There is some other way to make that thing happen. I was like what gets me excited? What lights me up? I only want to do those things. What would it look like if I only focused on the things that light me up and that re-energize me?
Rebecca Ching: I'm gonna pause you, though. When I hear you say that it sounds different than when I've seen bro marketers say that?
Racheal Cook: Yeah.
Rebecca Ching: It feels different, 'cause I've heard that "I don’t do anything that doesn’t jazz me," but then I'm hearing you say it, and I'm like yes, it makes sense. I mean, obviously, we're getting a sense of your story and what drives you, but yeah, can you speak to that? I know a lot of people hear the same things, but they sound and they're landing differently.
Racheal Cook: Yeah, you have to pay attention to it. One of the tools I use a lot is -- I track my time. I have a CEO planner that I've developed, and I track my time, and every day I'm asking myself what was great about this, what wasn’t great about this, and I'm paying attention to the things that I'm not looking forward to. I pay attention to the things that I dread. I pay a lot of attention to the things I'm procrastinating on or not taking action on 'cause those are indicators to me that I should not be doing those things, but the things I get excited about, the things I look forward to, the things that, afterwards, I'm like yeah, that was so great, those are the things I wanna do more of, and actually, here's a tool that really helped me.
I have a client who recommended -- there's this thing called a Garmin Vívofit, and it has this little thing on it that they call "body battery," and basically, it's tracking your HRV (your heart rate variability). So it can tell, basically, when you are in the relaxed state, which is where all the creativity flows. That's where you're in the flow, you're in the zone. You're really, really productive. Everything's coming effortlessly. Your body's in that rested, calm state, and it also tracks when you're in the fight or flight or freeze response because your stress response drastically changes. So it was interesting. She recommended that I get that, and I started comparing, on my app, when it was telling me I was in the rest state and my body battery was charging and when I was in the fight or flight state and my body battery was getting depleted.
That helped me. If you have a hard time assessing these things on your own, sometimes tools like that -- I'm a nerd. I love tools like that because it helps me validate what I'm kind of thinking. I realized there were just things that got me so excited, and by the end of it I was more rested which might sound crazy. I'd finish a call with a client who I love, and my body battery would have charged a few points, but driving on the interstate, my body battery is, like, ticking down.
Rebecca Ching: Yeah, and so, what I'm taking away from this is it's not just something to brag about or just to be elitist about; it's about paying attention and collecting data and knowing yourself.
Racheal Cook: Yes.
Rebecca Ching: And then taking action on that data. That's what I'm hearing from this.
Racheal Cook: Yes, it's about doing what is aligned for you, and what works for me is gonna be different from other people, right? You have to know yourself. You have to think about is this aligned? Does this feel good? At the end of it -- not at the beginning of it because sometimes at the beginning we get a little bit nervous and then we think that that's, you know, an indicator that it's a bad thing. I think nervousness and being excited are two sides of the same coin. So I just choose to be excited, and then afterwards I go how do I feel? Oh, that felt great. I loved that.
Rebecca Ching: Mm-hmm. Yeah, and it's interesting 'cause our bodies and brains don’t know the difference between nervous and excited, they just see that elevation, and so, that can still be a drain too. So if we're always operating at this intensity level, that can set us up for a crash also.
Racheal Cook: Yeah.
Rebecca Ching: On this topic of burnout, though, another kind of common theme that I've heard people say (especially earlier in the 20s) was it seemed like people assumed that some amount of burnout is necessary to succeed. I remember when I was overseas and I was building out this chapter of an organization I was working with, and I was fried, and he said, "Well, maybe you don’t stay four years. Maybe you come back in a year and burnout, and that's all you do," like it was a good thing, and I'm like dude, no! That is not helpful advice.
So I'm wondering if that was your initial assumption, too, that some level of success was connected to burnout, and if so, how and when did your idea of success change to something more sustainable?
Racheal Cook: Yeah, I think I initially thought that that might have been true, especially 'cause my dad had to work so hard to grow his business. He definitely had to hustle and grind it out, and I remember I was going through my burnout when Tim Ferris' book first came out, The 4-Hour Work Week, and I remember seeing it at the bookstore and looking to my husband and being like, "That is such bullshit! There's no way that's real!" Then, like, a year later I'm reading it, and I'm like, "Oh, god, okay, there are some interesting things in here." [Laughs] But I think we have been indoctrinated by American capitalism that our value is based on our productivity, and I think that is so terrible. It has built this whole society of people who literally don’t know how to rest.
Rebecca Ching: No.
Racheal Cook: I had to practice rest. I have to practice rest. There's a reason I have to only work four days a week. It's because it takes me all day Friday to get out the anxiousness of oh, I should be resting now, and then Saturday I actually can enjoy my weekend. You also have to be willing to kind of deflect all the people who are still very entrenched in that mindset.
I remember when I started my business my dad was like, "Have you lost your mind? I can't believe you left that paycheck behind. You were making more money at 25, 26 than I made when I was 40-something," and I'm like, "Dad, it was gonna kill me."
To him, the paycheck was more important than my health, was more important than seeing my husband, was more important than anything, and I'm sitting here going I'm not gonna die on the side of Interstate 95 for a paycheck. Like, I'm worth more than that.
Rebecca Ching: I'm worth more than that.
Racheal Cook: Yeah.
Rebecca Ching: Productivity and paycheck over life and wellbeing. We've been reckoning for a while, but I think it's coming to a peak.
Racheal Cook: I think I've just been kind of a little ahead of the curve on this, [Laughs] but it is coming to a peak, and what I'm seeing right now is this pandemic has shaken things up. It has flipped the script so much that people are realizing a lot of the things they were told were the "only way" are no longer the only way.
Rebecca Ching: Yes. Yes!
Racheal Cook: And they're seeing that -- well, what is possible if instead of spending ten hours a week in my commute (an hour there and an hour back), I take back that time, and that gives everybody two hours a day. So for everybody who is like I don’t have any time to work on my mindset, I don’t have any time to work on my mental health, I don’t have any time to work on my physical health, I don’t have any time to spend with my kids, I don’t have any time to spend with my partner, they just got it all back, and I think it's really making businesses re-evaluate what it is that we are compensating people for. Are we compensating people for what they bring to the table in terms of their experience and their talent and what they can contribute to the business or are we compensating people for how many hours they can sit in front of a screen?
Rebecca Ching: Exactly.
Racheal Cook: Honestly, if you look at the research, they're only productive 30% of the day anyway, so why are we working 8 hours a day? Why don’t we just shift everybody to 30- or 25-hour work weeks? We're no longer in a society that depends on us sitting in front of something eight hours a day. That's ridiculous if it's not productive, if it's not actually leading to a result. So yeah, I have a lot of comments on this one.
Rebecca Ching: I'm with you -- and the grind of it all and the sense of this is what it means -- your worth and values connected to your grind, that messaging.
Racheal Cook: Yeah.
Rebecca Ching: You know, whether it was my former colleague on The Hill or folks that are just doing the best they can to get a paycheck but are in a company or an organization where you have to be seen. Even my husband who’s an educator -- he's an AP US History teacher. He's amazing, but he's like no, my profession's a bad rap 'cause some of my colleagues have gotten really good at looking busy but doing nothing. [Laughs] They know that's how they survive because the system says, "Oh, they must be important 'cause they're super stressed out and busy and fluttering around," but my husband's like, "They're doing nothing," 'cause they're playing the system, and so, I think we need to keep reckoning with these things. I'm just sitting here grateful for the inner wisdom your system had to know -- this isn’t okay, I'm worth more, I need to take time to re-evaluate, I need help. I'm hoping whoever's listening to this, any parts of them that are saying who do you think you are to ask for this, you're weak for needing this, to recognize that we've breathed this in from really toxic systems that don’t have our best interest at heart, and that you have a credible life example for that. So I'm really, really grateful for this conversation today, but before you go, can I ask you some quickfire questions?
Racheal Cook: Sure!
Rebecca Ching: All right, awesome. What are you reading right now?
Racheal Cook: I just picked up Unicorn Space by Eve Rodsky. She wrote a book that really blew up in the last couple years called Fair Play which is all about the division of labor in the home, and she has an operations consulting background, so she looks at your home and family the same way you would look at a team in a business.
I loved her book Fair Play because for anyone who has ever felt like you share the role of default parent, daily grind in the household, you take the lion's share of all the emotional labor that goes into running a home, she lays out how to get your partner on board with deconstructing that. She even came up with a whole card game around helping the division of labor within a home, and it was one of those books that I was like ugh, this is so -- it spoke to me so clearly because now I had something that I could point people towards.
She wrote her second book called Unicorn Space which is all about helping women find a creative time for themselves. She says a lot of women don’t have something that is just something they do just purely for themselves, for the love and the joy and the creativity of doing something. We tend to say, well, I have time to work out or I have time to go get my hair done. Those are maintenance, y'all. That's not real self-care. Going to the doctor, going to the dentist -- maintenance. That is not true, deep, meaningful self-care.
Rebecca Ching: I love it.
Racheal Cook: She says in her book Unicorn Space that the thing that really fuels a lot of us is tapping into these passions and these things that we used to love and somewhere we left behind because we were told, well, it's not productive or you can't monetize it or any of that.
Rebecca Ching: I love that. Thank you. I can't wait to check out that book or both of her books. What song are you playing on repeat right now?
Racheal Cook: [Laughs] Well, my daughter had the phone today when we were in the car, so we listened to a lot of Florence + the Machine. [Laughs]
Rebecca Ching: Love them. Have you ever seen them live? Florence, I saw her running back and forth on the stage while hitting these notes. She's amazing.
Racheal Cook: She's amazing!
Rebecca Ching: And she's a redhead, too, so I'm biased. She's amazing.
Racheal Cook: She's amazing.
Rebecca Ching: Okay, what's the best TV show or movie you’ve seen recently?
Racheal Cook: If you haven’t watched the new series that Brené Brown just dropped, the Atlas of the Heart, it's a series that she produced with HBO Max, I think. I literally went and signed up for HBO Max just so I could watch it, and it is so brilliant.
Rebecca Ching: It's brilliant.
Racheal Cook: I'm so hoping that there are more series like this coming out because it makes this kind of information so accessible to so many people. I literally messaged my whole family. I was like, "Here's my login. Come watch this. We need to talk about it at our next family meeting."
Rebecca Ching: I love that. I love that you gave a shout out to that. What is your favorite '80s movie?
Racheal Cook: Oh, god. Dirty Dancing.
Rebecca Ching: Oh, good one! Don’t put baby in a corner!
Racheal Cook: Dirty Dancing. It took me a minute. I was thinking hold on, '80s movie. Dirty Dancing. Definitely.
Rebecca Ching: That works. What is your mantra right now?
Racheal Cook: Let it be easy.
Rebecca Ching: Mm, what's an unpopular opinion you hold?
Racheal Cook: I have so many. [Laughs]
Rebecca Ching: Bring it!
Racheal Cook: That your income potential does not have to be tied to your time.
Rebecca Ching: Ooh, that fits. That lands. Who or what inspires you to be a better leader and human?
Racheal Cook: Honestly, my kids because I want them to be able to go into companies and have careers with businesses that care about them and that are gonna treat my 12-year-old daughter the same way they treat my 12-year-old son. They get paid the same, have the same opportunities, have the same accessibility to parental leave and to fertility support and to whatever else. They are the reasons I'm trying to build a new paradigm of business.
Rebecca Ching: Mm, I hear you on that too.
Racheal, I know we only probably touched the tip of the iceberg of things that you could share, so I hope you come back again, but for today, thank you so much for your time. This was a treasure, and I really appreciated you sharing so much of your heart and your story and your wisdom.
Racheal Cook: Thank you so much for having me. This was fun for me. This is definitely one of those things that uplifts my body battery. I'm fully charged after our conversation.
Rebecca Ching: Likewise. Thank you so much.
Racheal Cook: Thank you.
Rebecca Ching: When you listen to your body, you may not like what it's telling you, but the imperative to listen and take action, to care for the rest and healing you need has to rise above the pressure to suck it up and push through. The way we were taught to work and live is only making us sicker. There are other ways to show up, and I'm grateful for leaders like Racheal who help us see a different path to how we can work and how we can lead ourselves and others. What messages is your body sending you that you may be dismissing, and how is the way that you see your work and your own self-care impacting you and those you lead and support? Where are you out of alignment with your values and how you're working today?
In today's conversation, Racheal reminds us that our body will shut us down if we don’t listen. After experiencing repeated panic attacks and then facing the echoes of trauma from childhood as her family expanded, Racheal ended up building a business that not only supports her stopping that toxic cycle of work but also teaches entrepreneurs and business owners how to work and lead sustainably. Now, this is the work of an unburdened leader.
[Inspirational Music Interlude]
Leading is hard, and leading is also, often, controversial as you navigate staying aligned to your values, your mission, your boundaries. Navigating the inevitable controversy can challenge your confidence, clarity, and calm. Now, you don’t mind making the hard decisions, but sometimes the stakes seem higher and can bring up echoes of old doubts and insecurities during times when you need to feel rock solid on your plan and action.
Finding a coach who gets the nuances of your business and leading in our complex and polarized world can help you identify the blocks that keep you playing at safe and small.
Now, leading today is not a fancy title or fluffy bragging rights, it is brave and bold work to stay the course when the future is unknown and the doubts and pains from the past keep showing up to shake things up. Internal emotional practices and systemic strategies are needed to keep the protector of cynicism at bay and foster a hope that is actionable and aligned.
So when the stakes are high and you don't want to lose focus, when you want to navigate inevitable conflict between your ears and with those you lead, when time is of the essence and you want to make hard decisions with confidence and clarity, then Unburdened Leader Coaching is for you, where you deepen the capacity to tolerate the vulnerability of change, innovation, and doing things differently than the status quo.
To start your Unburdened Leader Coaching process with me go to www.rebeccaching.com and book a free connection call. I can’t wait to hear from you!
Thank you so much for joining this episode of The Unburdened Leader. You can find ways to sign up for the Unburdened Weekly email, this episode, show notes, and also free Unburdened Leader resources, and find ways to work with me www.rebeccaching.com.