Lisa Linfield: 00:09 Hello, everybody, and welcome to today’s episode of Working Women’s Wealth. We’ve been doing a long journey on finding your passion and finding your side hustle and talking about how we create extra income through alternate sources of businesses, side hustles, things that we can do, and we’re going to shift focus over the next quarter to focus on building ourselves as great, strong, talented human beings.
Lisa Linfield: 00:50 [inaudible 00:00:50], and today I’m joined by a woman who I just think about her and I giggle. She has a smile that you can’t believe, and she has an energy that is so infectious. Her name is Christmas Hutchinson.
Lisa Linfield: 01:02 Welcome, Christmas. Thank you for joining us on our show.
Christmas H.: 01:06 Thank you for having me, Lisa.
Lisa Linfield: 01:09 Christmas is the author of a book called The Resilient Mind and is a resilience coach specific focusing on our careers and especially for those of us who are navigating careers in the corporate world.
Lisa Linfield: 01:27 Christmas, how did you get onto the journey of coaching and teaching and mentoring people about resilience and writing your own book on the subject?
Christmas H.: 01:37 I had my own experiences with having to be resilient, and I didn’t know what it was when I was having those experiences at the time. About four years ago, I was diagnosed with breast cancer a week after I had gotten divorced, and it was literally like a month and a half right after I was passed over for a promotion, and so, for me, at that time of my life, it was rock bottom, let’s just say, and I didn’t know what to do, but the one thing I did know is that I wanted to live and that I knew that life wasn’t meant to be this bad and terrible, so I chose to look at my situation as a growth point and that, if I navigated my way through it, that there would be something great on the other side, and so that’s what I did.
Christmas H.: 02:33 I started to learn different methods and how looking at my illness and looking at how my marriage ending impacted me and looked more for the opportunities, and so that’s when I learned meditation. I learned more self-awareness. I started to think about reasons how even ended up in those situations, how I didn’t get promoted, all these things, and just through that reflection and self-awareness, I also started to naturally mentor people and coach people through regular conversation, and people started to tell me, “You’re so resilient. You’re so resilient. You should write more about this. You should write a book,” and so just that whole experience and getting to that point and reflecting on all that I had been through, I was like, wow, this is something that I need to share with other people because, when I was going through it, people were like, “Oh, my God, how do you this?” and I’m like, “People don’t know how to do this?” and then I started blogging, and then I hired a coach who encouraged me to actually write a book on how I do it.
Christmas H.: 03:38 That’s how the book came to life, and that’s why I’m here teaching resilience and career resilience, and even in my own career, like I told you, I’ve been passed over for promotion a couple of times, and now I’m an executive, so I really want to share with people how I was able to take a point in my life where I was stuck in my career and be able to expand on it.
Lisa Linfield: 04:03 Why do people get stuck in roles and in careers when, by nature, one thing is that we should be growing all the time, I guess?
Christmas H.: 04:14 Yeah, you’re right. It is a human desire to want to grow all the time. That’s why you and I do personal development. People get stuck. I can give one simple answer and… or maybe two. I think it’s lack of self-awareness and not building that habit of reflecting on where they are and where they want to go.
Christmas H.: 04:36 For me, when I think about when I got stuck in my career, I had the mindset of, okay, you get all the degrees and you go into work and you just keep your head down, do the work, perform extraordinarily, and that’s it, and that was what I was taught, but what I’ve learned through my experience is that I was so focused on doing a great job that I wasn’t networking, and I never reflected on that. I just was like, “Oh, I just can’t network.” At that time, I wasn’t learning the best ways to network.
Christmas H.: 05:13 Additionally I wasn’t talking to the right people to learn what it is I needed to do to get ahead, and one of the greatest things a person can do to find out how they can grow is to ask people where they need development, where their blind spots are, and that’s something that we don’t feel comfortable doing because it triggers in our mind that we’re not good enough.
Christmas H.: 05:38 Those are just a couple of reasons why we often get stuck, and I think having the awareness of, okay, I’m stuck, why am I stuck, and reflecting on all the choices we’ve made in the past, and putting a plan or a strategy together to get to the next level is something that’s very critical in moving to the next level in your career.
Lisa Linfield: 06:02 I totally agree with you. I mean, I also think an additional reason, if I reflect back on myself and the people around me, is that once you get passed over for promotion once, people almost retreat from pain and think, “That was too painful. I’m not going to put myself there because that was an extremely bruising thing, so I’m just going to wait until either someone else promotes me, but I’m not going to actively put myself in there,” and I guess that’s where resilience comes in to move through that.
Lisa Linfield: 06:34 What are the five most common reasons that people don’t get promoted?
Christmas H.: 06:38 One thing I wanted to say on what you said before I go to the reasons why people don’t get promoted, to piggyback on what you just said, I think the fact that we’re reticent to put ourselves in uncomfortable positions is a real huge reason, so me writing a book and putting myself out there definitely is going to provide me opportunities, but when you get comfortable with being comfortable, you’ll definitely remain stuck, so I-
Lisa Linfield: 07:02 It’s much easier to be comfortable being comfortable.
Christmas H.: 07:05 Yes. Oh, yeah, yeah, because who wants to feel pain?
Lisa Linfield: 07:10 Absolutely, and have all those gremlins creep out of the woodwork of your own soul.
Christmas H.: 07:14 Right. Exactly. There are five reasons. There’s more, but I have five reasons why people don’t get promoted or why I found myself not promoted. The first one is not connecting with the right people. I think that what we need to understand is, going back to the comfortability thing, when we’re in the work environment, we connect with the people that we feel most comfortable with us, not the ones who are going to call us out on our stuff and be brave enough to say, “Look, Christmas, you could have done better here,” just give us really that critical feedback, and, usually, those people who will do that are the ones who are the decision-makers or know the decision-makers in the organization, and so, when you’re not connected to those people and those people don’t know what value you bring to the organization, you’re not going to be even considered.
Christmas H.: 08:11 Connecting with the right people is really important, and, in my career, I was on great projects and I did great things, but I wasn’t connected with the people who were in the room saying, “Christmas needs this promotion.” Another reason why people don’t get promoted is that they don’t take feedback well. From the perspective of the person giving feedback, because it is a very sensitive subject, if you don’t take feedback well, people are not going to give it to you.
Christmas H.: 08:42 If you become defensive or give excuses or just make it an uncomfortable experience for someone to give you feedback, you’re just not going to get it, and when you don’t get the feedback, you will continue to make the mistakes. You’ll continue on with your blind spots and you won’t improve, and that will hold you back from being promoted or being put on those stretch assignments.
Lisa Linfield: 09:06 It’s quite a difficult one because if you’re not in a feedback environment… so I had been at four organizations before I actually came into an organization with a feedback environment, and the first time I ever received feedback, spontaneous feedback actually, I mean, I nearly fell over. It was actually from a subordinate, and I was like, “What are they doing?” Once I had learned the enormous power of feedback, it literally escalated my career because it not only made me aware of my blind spots, but it also made me aware of how other people perceive me when my intentions might have been really good, and it really grew me, but I think one of the challenges was when my particular piece of the organization, when I interacted with other pieces, they didn’t have feedback cultures, so I ended up having to solicit it from other people because they weren’t going to spontaneously give feedback. It’s not always in a culture.
Christmas H.: 10:02 Right. No, you’re right, especially an American culture, it’s so politically correct that we talk about doing these feedback things and doing it in the moment, but it never really happens because it’s just not in the culture at all. I wrote an article a little, I don’t remember, maybe a year or so ago. It’s called Feedback is a Gift, and I learned that from one of the partners at my… the former firm that I worked at, and it is because, like you said, once you got that feedback, you skyrocketed, and that’s the gift. It’s not meant to be hurtful and it’s not meant to say that you’re not good enough or you’re not valuable. It’s just, hey, this is how you’re being perceived.
Lisa Linfield: 10:43 Also, the [trends 00:10:44] that you can pick up, because you always have to be aware that feedback is in the eye of the giver and, therefore, often contains a suitcase of their own issues, but there are often trends that we can pick up if we’re open to it, and I remember one of the great pieces of insights that I had was that people who knew me well and who worked very closely with me, my boss and my own team, thought I was a fantastic leader, but the further up they got and the less they knew my soul and who I was as a human and what I was really about, the more they perceived me as quite tough and that the softest thing about me was my teeth, whereas the people who worked closely with me thought that I was a teddy bear.
Lisa Linfield: 11:28 It was interesting that there were such different perspectives on the exact same human being, but being able to pick up the trend meant that I was then able to say, “Okay, I’ve got to work harder at other people getting to know me, because whatever it is, when I get into a meeting, they’re perceiving me as a real tiger,” whereas in actual fact it proved to me when people were closer to me, then they knew my intensions, and so they knew that when I was pushing hard on a deadline, it wasn’t because I was being mean or nasty. It was because the deadline was due, and so I think it’s also I important, adding on to what you’re saying, that you seek out feedback from a wide variety of people at different levels and through the circles away from you.
Christmas H.: 12:11 Right. Mm-hmm (affirmative). I love the example that you gave. The people who are closest to you know you one way and the people further away they have a different perspective, and that’s pretty powerful to reflect on.
Lisa Linfield: 12:25 Absolutely, and I don’t think I’ve ever mastered that one, so it’s a learning journey, a complete learning journey. You said the first one was broadening our network and opening ourselves up to opportunities through the other people within our organization, and the second one was feedback. What were the other things that we should know in terms of why people don’t get promoted?
Christmas H.: 12:46 The third one is self-promoting. I know imposter syndrome is something that is prevalent in everybody, but especially women, and what happens is is we get… and I struggled with this for a while writing self-evaluations or when I would go prepare for interviews. We always downplay our contribution. When you’re in the room with people who are decision-makers, who are leaders in the organization, you want them to remember you, so, when you have that opportunity, when you’re with them and they’re saying, “Oh, hey, Christmas, what are you working on?” you say, “Look, I’m working on this, and I led this group to do this, this and this.” We just don’t self-promote enough. We’re just like, “Oh, yeah, I just work in that department, and I produce this particular result,” and the onus on us to show and demonstrate our value when we’re having those discussions and we’re in the places.
Christmas H.: 13:46 One thing that I do a lot, I have heavily branded myself as a program manager and the person who gets things done, so, whenever I’m sitting in meetings, I will always say, “Okay, so I’m putting on my analytical hat,” or, “I’m putting on my program manager hat. Where are we going to blah, blah, blah?” I always put that description out there so that people have it cemented in their head, and what’s happened is that people will reach out to me and say, “Oh, I have a program management question,” or, “Do you want this project?” or can you recommend… so I’ve established myself as that particular expert by virtue of just dropping those little words when I’m in front of people.
Lisa Linfield: 14:28 I think that’s fantastic, to be mindful of not only the little words that promote us non-offensively in a group situation, but what you were saying before is that we tend to downplay our particular roles in organizations, and in some cases, it’s appropriate, for example, when you’re within the team context, but when you’re stepping out and reporting back is to also own your role in a team perspective.
Lisa Linfield: 14:57 I know that I was so indoctrinated into all of this that when I first launched my wealth management business, everything on my website and everything in my commentary and even when I first launched my podcast, I would say we, the team, we, et cetera, because I was so indoctrinated, but it was only me, and then when I met someone, they said, “How big is your organization?” and I said, “It’s just me,” and they said, “But you always talk in the plural,” and it was because I was so scared of offending anybody in a corporate context that I actually couldn’t say I or me, and it really was quite illuminating.
Christmas H.: 15:32 Right, and what’s amazing is, because you said we, people assume she’s got this big organization.
Lisa Linfield: 15:39 It’s helpful sometimes, but in actual fact, it was much more indicative of just my lack of self-confidence in claiming ownership of the achievements I’ve achieved by myself.
Christmas H.: 15:50 Right. Exactly.
Lisa Linfield: 15:52 Number three is self-promotion. What’s number four?
Christmas H.: 15:54 Number four is poor planning. This is something we definitely don’t learn when we’re going through our education. They say, “Okay, go to college. Do this and get into the workforce,” but there are strategies that you have to put into place to move to the next level.
Christmas H.: 16:13 One thing that I’ve been working with a lot this past, I don’t know, year or so are just setting intentions. When you set intentions, your mind automatically goes into planning mode on how to get to that next step. When you’re looking for a dynamic career, you really need to be planning. Whether or not it’s I want to get to the CFO position, for example, which that’s not something I want to do, but it was something I used to want to do, so, to be a CFO, I would study other CFO’s careers. Some of them are in insurance services and they go over to financial planning and analysis and then they do a stint in operations.
Christmas H.: 16:51 When you know where you want to go, you’ll make plans to meet people in those particular area and make that your next career step because you’re not going to get from entry level to the top of the organization in three years. It takes time, and the best way to do the planning is to step out and take the risk of meeting people at those levels and saying, “Hey, tell me about your career trajectory? How did you do it? Where did you start?” If you’re too afraid to do that, you can definitely go on LinkedIn and see how people have gotten to where they are, but just goal-setting to get to the next level and incorporating the feedback that you received are definitely ways to plan to get to the next level. It just-
Lisa Linfield: 17:36 I love what you said about opening your mind, because one of the things I teach in my mindset course is this whole piece of the brain called the reticular activating system, and its job was in the old days to continuously scan the environment for threats, is the lion out there, is something going to hurt us, but also for opportunity. Is the food out there? Could that be food? Could that not be food? Even when we were doing other things, it was subconsciously scanning the environment all the time, and I love the fact that you say you need to set intentions.
Lisa Linfield: 18:08 In that fore-planning and set intentions, if you stayed to the intention deep enough, not just mention it once to yourself, if you’re really focused on it and said it as part of your daily affirmations and things like that, that piece of your brain will start connecting dots in your environment around you to create the opportunity, and, as you said, if you study people who have been successful in their roles and even approach them and ask them how they did it, even the very act of approaching them and asking them how they do it helps with your first thing, which is your networking, because sometimes it’s quite difficult to say to a person, “Hey, can I network with you?” People are very open to talking about themselves. Just say, “Hey, one day, I would love your role. How did you go about doing it?” and just listen to their stories.
Christmas H.: 18:54 Exactly. Luckily, when I was in a leadership development program, I was challenged to do that, meet leaders in my organization and interview them, and they were so happy to help, because people more or less usually want to help others and talk about themselves doing it.
Lisa Linfield: 19:11 Absolutely, so what’s the last one?
Christmas H.: 19:13 The last one is the fact that you don’t do more than what’s in your job description. That’s the best way to get stuck in your career, because you’re not showing your value. You’re not showing your commitment. You’re not showing your desire to advance the organization, and when you just go in and is seen as a person who just does what you’re supposed to do and don’t go above and beyond, no one is going to promote you. You’re not showing that you can be trusted with more responsibility.
Christmas H.: 19:47 The things that I like doing in my past and even now, I mentioned to you that I volunteered or I was asked to volunteer to read applications for a leadership program that we have at my company, and that’s something I could have declined. I mean, am I dong it because I want to get promoted? No, but I’m doing it because I want to advance my organization. I want to help other leaders in my organization. When you do more, when you create programs, if you see that there’s something missing, a lot of people always tell me, “Oh, my job is boring. I’m not advancing,” I’m like, “Have you looked and seen and tried to fix a problem that’s broken? How’s the diversity in your organization? Have you thought of any programs or connected with anybody who you could create a program or create an organization within the company?”
Christmas H.: 20:38 There’s always something to do other than coming in and doing what you’re supposed to do, and when you show that you can do more, then you show you’re valuable, and you’ll find yourself in situations where you’ll be promoted or get a stretch assignment.
Lisa Linfield: 20:56 I love what you’re saying, because one of the things as an employer that always challenge me about promoting people who didn’t stretch outside the narrow boundaries of their job description was if they stretched upwards, then the gap between, for example, me and them, if they were coming to take my job, wouldn’t be that big a gap, but there was naturally a gap. I mean, a promotion by its nature requires broader, bigger domains of control even in terms of size or in terms of complexity, and if the person has never demonstrated that they can operate at that level, it’s a higher risk than if someone is always stretching to almost close the gap between their current job and their future job.
Christmas H.: 21:44 Right. Exactly, and when you do these kind of things… and in my experience, I’ve actually had roles created for me because I’ve stepped out of what I was doing, and they’re like, “Let’s have you do this.” It was not a role that existed before, and it came with more responsibility and more money, so, yeah, doing more makes you more valuable, thus, deserving of a promotion.
Lisa Linfield: 22:13 How do we bounce back when we go for that promotion and we put everything humanly possible in us and we’ve ticked all the five boxes that you’ve been talking about and we stepped up, and we faced our fears and we head off into that interview and then, a week or two later, we get that big sorry for you?
Christmas H.: 22:34 This is more about where resilience happens. What we don’t understand is that we’re going to have more experiences with failure than we are going to have with success, but, for some reason, the way our brain is set up, the points of failure are just so memorable and they just have the hugest impacts on us, and so depending on where you are in the rejection or the failures or whatever has happened, I always like to vent or talk about it with somebody.
Christmas H.: 23:05 In the example that you gave where you prepare so well for an interview and then you go in, and you do all the things, you do the essays, the case studies and all the things, and they come back and say, “We selected somebody else,” it can become a pressure. I mean, it’s happened to me. I’ll just call a friend or call whoever my go-to is who understands me, and I just vent and say, “Oh, my God, I can’t believe this happened and they didn’t take me, and they wasted my time,” and this, this and this. I just feel like getting those feelings off immediately, because it is a really, really quick way to defuse the situation.
Christmas H.: 23:44 I always want to caution people not to complain, but just get it off. How did this make you feel? What are you going to do about it tomorrow? It’s a natural experience to feel hurt when you are rejected, and it’s important to process your thoughts, and so to me, venting is one way.
Lisa Linfield: 24:06 Absolutely, but I think one of the things that I would add to that is vent to people outside your immediate zone at work because, somehow, things always seem to come back, so choose a safe source to vent and make sure that that safe source holds your venting as exactly that, a first unfiltered level of freeing of those emotions so that you can progress to a constructive solution.
Christmas H.: 24:36 Right. The other thing is… that I like to do when I’ve been disappointed, and it’s something that I talk about a lot, I talk about it in my book, I’ve already mentioned it here, is reflect. Really think about what happened, where you may have gone wrong in your preparation, we’ll go back to your example of the interview, where you’ve gone in your preparation for the interview or where you’ve gone wrong in your actual performance, if you’ve got a bad performance rating. There are usually opportunities in there, and even if they’re not, don’t let your self-worth be tied up into how somebody perceives you. Everybody, as you mentioned earlier, is perceiving you through the windows of their own experiences, and you can’t let that determine your value and your worth.
Lisa Linfield: 25:25 I love what you’re saying about at the end. The first portion, you said, “You need to reflect on what you can do better and you need to know that also sometimes it’s just a different person’s perspective.” It’s not related to your personal self-worth, because one of the things that… so in my own career which I’ve shared with my listeners is that I went from being on a top leadership program to basically, within two years, not having a role.
Lisa Linfield: 25:55 One of the lessons that I learned within myself was I the exact same human being, had the same skill set, the same experiences, the same everything, but the leadership changed, and the eye of the beholder was very different, but it took a long time for me to work that out, and I would have saved myself a lot of heartache if I could have done both of your steps, both reflect on what I could have done differently through the interviews in the process, but also the fact that sometimes the eye of the beholder just doesn’t see that your skill set is a natural fit for them, where it might have been a natural fit for their predecessor.
Christmas H.: 26:33 Right. Exactly.
Lisa Linfield: 26:37 After you’ve reflected, then what do you do?
Christmas H.: 26:40 Another thing that I’ll do is, depending on what the situation is, let’s just say for instance you thought you were going to get a better performance review than you actually received, I actually would talk about it with the person just find out what it is that they saw and why it is that they… giving you that performance rating that has created this situation where you’re feeling low, and just find out their perspective, and be open and listen and try not to be defensive about it, and that’s where you learn the other person’s perspective.
Christmas H.: 27:19 Another thing that I’ve learned just through this process of healing from cancer and divorce is empathy, always putting myself in the other person’s shoes. When you take that point of view, you’re more open to seeing how people make their decisions.
Lisa Linfield: 27:37 I think it’s so valuable what you’re saying, because I remember interviewing a person who didn’t get the role, and I’ve offered her a feedback session, and when we went through the feedback session… She was young and this was the first interview that she had been almost naturally promoted for the first 10 years of her career, and this was the first time she actually stepped out for an interview, as opposed to just got internally promoted, and had never done an interview, and in the feedback session, one of the things in terms of asking her around her weaknesses and what she was working on is that she thought that if she answered basically she had no weaknesses, that would be a problem, because wouldn’t we all want to invite an overachiever into our organization?
Lisa Linfield: 28:22 It was around coaching her that we’re looking for personal insight. We’re not looking for perfection because none of us are perfect, but she had that insight, and without that feedback session, she would never have had it and would have continued to make the same mistakes in the interviews that she had, so I think it’s hugely important what you’re saying is that ask your boss if it’s a performance review or ask the interviewer, “Would you mind either telephonically or face to face giving me a quick set of feedback on areas I could have improved in the interview?”
Christmas H.: 28:54 Right. Exactly, and that will help you in the future. You’ll know, okay, I need to buckle down and provide some weaknesses. In those cases, too, especially with interviews, I would ask people, and people have asked me to do this, do mock interviews with them, and I’ve given them feedback, I’m like, “Oh, this is your answer. This is how you should shape it like,” or, “You’re going on and on and on and on. It needs to be more succinct,” so, yeah, definitely asking is really helpful, and, hopefully, you’ll get that information from the person. Not people are open to having that conversation because it’s almost like a confrontation, even though it’s not a negative thing, but there are people who just don’t feel comfortable being challenged on their decision.
Lisa Linfield: 29:42 Absolutely, and anything else?
Christmas H.: 29:45 I also would say a couple more things. One, manage your expectations. Sometimes, we get so excited, like, “Yeah, I got to have this job. Oh, my God, it’s paying this amount of money,” and we start making plans with our future and all this kind of thing, but I always say manage your expectations because, when you manage them in a way that you’re like, “Okay, if I did it, that’ll be awesome. If I don’t, then this is what I’m going to do,” it’s not as huge of a blow to your ego, and you’ll be able to bounce back faster, and then the last thing is just get to that point where you’d choose to let it go. The last thing that you want to do is continue to harbor negative feelings about a situation or how you may feel that you’ve been wronged.
Christmas H.: 30:32 For me, it took some years of maturity to let things go. I used to take that experiences that I had with bad bosses and some new jobs, and it just formed my perspective and how I experience other people, and it wasn’t helpful, and so you just got to let it go and be like, “Okay, that wasn’t for me. Let me just figure out where I can improve and what is for me,” and look for the future and not let these small experiences consume you because, at the end of the day, is this rejection that you received today going to impact you in two weeks, two years, three years, 10 years? Is that whole experience right then and there going to be a big deal five years from now? When you start to think about it in that way, no, it’s not, so just let it go.
Lisa Linfield: 31:25 Absolutely, and I think one of the ways I’ve learned to let things go was a very valuable tip that I once got, which was to separate myself as a human being and myself as almost a product, the working person, the working Lisa, the production of work. They’re two separate people. If there is, for example, a rejection or a bad performance review or something like that, that impacts Lisa the work person. It has no impact on Lisa the mom, Lisa the friend, Lisa the wife or any other form of Lisa the human being, and I think that was where I always got confused is that my sense of self-worth was so related to always winning in the job scenes, great performance reviews, getting the next promotion, then my sense of self-worth came from that.
Lisa Linfield: 32:22 It’s learning to split that, that, no, you’re an amazing human being regardless of whether you get that promotion, regardless of whether you get a performance review. Some things are the lessons you need to learn and some things are someone else’s issues, but separating yourself helps you to be much more pragmatic about, okay, these are the things I’ve definitely got to work on and also these are the things that are never going to changed about me.
Lisa Linfield: 32:47 I remember saying that to one of my bosses like [Fred 00:32:50]. He’d been my boss for different jobs over many years in different companies, and I remember saying, “I get that this is an issue, because your weaknesses are always the side of your strengths,” but… and I used to say to him, “Fred, you can have my strength,” which is the ability to get an enormous amount done, “without the weakness,” which is that every now and then it’s going to rub someone up the wrong way, and eventually I used to say to him, “You need to choose which one you want, because if you want me to be, yes, I can stretch. It’s not saying that I can’t do that. I can always stretch into it, but it’s never going to go away because it’s the flip side of what makes me strong.”
Christmas H.: 33:24 Right. Exactly. Exactly.
Lisa Linfield: 33:26 The American Psychology Association says that 65% of Americans site work as the top source of stress.
Christmas H.: 33:36 Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Lisa Linfield: 33:37 Why do we get so stressed at work, friend?
Christmas H.: 33:40 There are a multitude, and I could talk to… all day about this, Lisa. There are a multitude of reasons why, but I think it just boils down to everybody is just taking the experience, the work experience just too seriously. It’s just embedded in us very early. You have to get good grades to get a good job so that you’re not homeless and you’re a good product to society, and when you’re getting there, it just becomes really competitive.
Christmas H.: 34:09 The competition starts in school, where I know my mom used to do it, which she… I hope she doesn’t do this anymore with my nieces, but we’re talking about, “Oh, this kid got an A. How come you didn’t get an A?” The competition just is there, and then you get into the workforce, and everybody’s competing, and then there’s so much pressure to perform because we have to make sure the stockholders are getting their return, and so they’re creating more pressure and more competition, and you become stressed when you feel like you’re not good enough.
Christmas H.: 34:44 I know that when I was in consulting, I always was in this perpetual state of not feeling good enough, but that was how the environment was set up, because we were all rated against each other. There was bell curve. You had to be doing more than the next person or… and who knew what the other person was doing? It’s very stressful, and the bosses can be overwhelming because their boss is overwhelming, and it just leads to a huge ball of stress, and we take it seriously.
Christmas H.: 35:17 For me, when I had the experience of thinking about my mortality, I decided that work is not going to take me down because I feel like, the fact that I did have cancer, it was a sign to me that I was just going too hard and that I needed to appreciate life. When you’re sat down for almost a year to focus on your health, you start to put into perspective what’s really important.
Christmas H.: 35:44 I made the decision that if I were to die tomorrow, nobody’s going to be at my funeral, especially my employer is not going to be there saying, “Oh, Christmas was the best worker possible,” and, guess what, I don’t want to be known as that when I die, as the best worker. Sorry, I had to shift my perspective of what’s important, and doing that and saying, look, as long as I’m doing the best that I can and I know that I’m doing the best that I can, I’m not taking this stress with me home because it’s not good for anybody at all, and I just made that conscious decision not to let it consume me the way it did.
Lisa Linfield: 36:23 I think that’s hugely important, and in terms of the boundaries that we create at work, because a large portion of the feeling of stress often also is linked to the fact that it doesn’t feel like an equitable, a fair exchange between the company and you, so you give them the asset of your knowledge, your skills and your time, and they give you money in return and, potentially, a fulfilling career, but that essentially is an added extra because it’s your job to drive your career. I think one of the challenges that come is where that boundary gets a bit blurry, where instead of working the hours that you’re supposed to work, you have lost every evening and every weekend, but you don’t feel that that exchange is coming back either in terms of remuneration or in terms of promotions or whatever it is.
Lisa Linfield: 37:16 I always believe that there are periods where the scale isn’t equals. For example, in the finance professional, whenever it’s month end or quarter end or year end, it requires that you dig deep in there some extra time, but if the thing doesn’t balance back the other way and it goes on too long, then that does create a sense of enormous stress and anger at the lack of balance. Whenever I really felt let down by a company, it was always because I hadn’t controlled the boundaries and the balance, because no boss is ever going to say, “Hey, please don’t work so hard.” You’re achieving and you’re doing well, and they’re looking good, so it’s up to you to put those boundaries in place.
Lisa Linfield: 38:05 How do we create boundaries at work?
Christmas H.: 38:09 You definitely have to have some confidence in creating boundaries, but I subtly create them by letting people know up front and through conversations what my limitations are. For me, as a cancer survivor, I’m very open in saying, “Look, I’m on continuous treatment, so I have to be at the doctors,” and I let people know that I have to go monthly and my health is the most important thing in the world. When you tell people that, they have to be a monster to not agree with that. I’ve had some monsters where I’ve had to put them in check and say, “Look, my health is more important than this job,” and then they back off because then it screams lawsuit in their head.
Christmas H.: 38:54 Just being more conscious of when you’re saying yes to everything, be okay with saying no and it not being detrimental to your career, and even if you think it might be detrimental to your career, which I doubt, just pick and choose what it is you want to say yes to. I always tell my coaching clients, “You don’t have to do all that they’re asking you to do.”
Christmas H.: 39:24 As you mentioned, Lisa, it’s not equitable. You can say yes to everything and you could be working 70, 80 eights a week, but when it comes around, people are not going to remember that. When it comes to that once-a-year performance evaluation or twice-a-year, whatever goes on in your organization, they’re not going to remember that day that you worked 20 hours. Trust me. I’ve done it many times, and it’s never come up in any of my performance evaluations.
Lisa Linfield: 39:52 I think, also, one of the things that I worked out is that, when I am working the 20-hour days, I’m not sleeping enough. Although I might score a 100 points for all the extra work I’m doing, because I haven’t got enough rest and I’m tired and I’m worn down, I can snap at a person that scores me minus 200. It took a very long time in my career that I worked out the natural fact. I can shoot myself in the food much quicker when I haven’t had enough sleep than I can do if I put in the boundaries to say, “Listen, I’m only working 12 hours a day.” What ended up happening is that the quality of my work was better because I was better rested, I was better informed, and I didn’t actually snap at people in the times because I had had no sleep.
Christmas H.: 40:47 Exactly. Exactly.
Lisa Linfield: 40:49 One of the things I loved when I was researching for our interview, because it made me giggle when I talked to you, so I’ve taken things so seriously, was how you recognize toxic people at work who’s… but like Winnie the Pooh, where we can all recognize the Eeyore in our life and the Piglet and the Tigger. I love the names that you gave the different people at work. Take us through those five people.
Christmas H.: 41:15 We have Complaining Cathy. I’m a huge reflector, so I always think about who I’ve been as a toxic person, and the thing is is that we’re not just born toxic. It just is something that is put inside of us. That’s why you’ve got to manage the toxicity. You’ve got to stay away from people who complain. You’ve got to stay away from people who are just always Debbie Downers.
Christmas H.: 41:40 Complaining Cathy is the person who just complains about everything. It’s too cold in here. They don’t make the coffee good enough. They just cannot find anything good to say, and in addition to that, the complaints never are followed by any kind of solution, and that person, and don’t ever be that person, even though I’m pretty sure a lot of us have, is just a victim. They’re just always finding reasons why their environment sucks and not ever finding any solutions to fixing it or seeing the silver lining in this, and so Complaining Cathy is just really the person who victimizes themself, and that’s not the life of a resilient person.
Lisa Linfield: 42:30 Absolutely. One of the things that I also think is it adds our stress, so it’s always good for us at work to meet up with Complaining Cathy because it makes it very easy for us to complain, too, but the challenge with this is that you walk away not feeling like you’ve been lifted up when you’ve spent time with people like that, so protecting yourself from the draining energy of a Complaining Cathy for me is hugely important.
Lisa Linfield: 42:58 Tell us about Narcissistic Nancy.
Christmas H.: 43:03 Narcissistic Nancy is the person who the whole world revolves around her. She has zero concern for anybody. Every single thing especially as it relates to the workplace is all for her benefit. She never sees anything as her fault and, also, she just has zero concern for your time or any other person’s time and will make every situation just about her.
Lisa Linfield: 43:34 Absolutely, and I think one of the challenges is that it makes us feel it’s okay to make every situation about us, too.
Christmas H.: 43:40 Exactly, and it’s not, that’s why I always say like you’ve got to be empathetic. What is in the other person’s shoes? How are they seeing this view? I mean, going back to… A work example is when you’re asking somebody to work a lot of hours. I used to hate this when I was younger. I would be there, and it would be like four o’clock in the afternoon, and somebody would give a request, and without checking with me to see what my obligations were or commitments were for the next day or the night, she would agree to have something to the person the very next day. I would have to cancel my plans because I need to get to work done, and I just think that’s just so inconsiderate.
Christmas H.: 44:28 That’s that stressful environment that’s created where people feel like your life is second to work, so you’ve got to get this done. If you had dinner plans with your family and friends, forget it. You got to do this. I’m just so glad that I was able to build that boundary, but Narcissistic Nancy wouldn’t be the one to do that.
Lisa Linfield: 44:47 One of the things that I learned from working with one of my colleagues in the UK, whenever I would do that to him and say, “Could you please do X,” he would turn around and say, “I’d be absolutely happy to do X. I’m just currently working on Y, so let me know which one is of higher priority to you, and I can reprioritize Y for X.”
Lisa Linfield: 45:10 It was a really difficult thing because it then put the responsibility to you as the boss to then actually say, “Actually, Y is more important,” or, “X is more important,” because sometimes it is intentional, but sometimes it’s actually unconscious, you don’t actually know that Y is taking that person so long that you then get made responsible for making the choices. It was actually much easier when I had access to be able to make the choices because I happily said, “Listen, X is way more important than Y. I’m happy to push out your deadline for Y by two or three days, because we need to get X done as soon as possible.”
Lisa Linfield: 45:50 I think it was a great lesson for me. It was frustrating as a boss because you want everybody to say they’ll do everything now, but it was as great lesson for me as to how I could manage upwards is to say to my boss, “I’m happy to do it, absolutely willing to do it, but I’m currently working on this as my priority. Would you like me to reprioritize?”
Christmas H.: 46:10 Right. Exactly. It’s a perfect-
Lisa Linfield: 46:12 One of the things as a resilient expert I’d love to ask you, do we ever reach the pinnacle of being resilient? Can we ever succeed? Is it ever finished to do? Are we ever resilient?
Christmas H.: 46:28 I don’t really see it as the pinnacle to being resilient. It is a very active experience. It is something that you’re always working at. There’s going to be ups and downs and all the things in your life, and there are tools that will help you to stay resilient. I would say that I’m resilient in many areas in my life, but not all areas. I think that’s like the perfect human, but I think having the tools and habits to lean on are very helpful, and not finding yourself in a situation where you’re spiraling into negativity or you’re feeling stuck or you’re feeling like a victim. That’s really where we want to be, where we have the confidence within self to take care of ourselves and not let the normal experiences of life take us down.
Lisa Linfield: 47:22 In one of our previous interviews with Brittany Hoopes, one of the things she told us which I love was this little saying, “I can do hard things,” and I often think of my almost rock bottom, I think all of us have a rock bottom, is I can do hard things, I can do this, and it helps me to be much more resilient in knowing that I can get through this and not be surrounded by fear and, therefore, avoiding doing things that grow me and take on new paths.
Christmas H.: 47:55 Right. Exactly. Exactly.
Lisa Linfield: 47:58 Christmas, thank you for being with us. How do our listeners learn more about you and get hold of your book?
Christmas H.: 48:04 You can purchase my book at amazon.com. It is The Resilient Mind, A Field Guide to a Healthier Way of Life. It’s in English and it’s in Spanish, and there’s a French version coming in July. It’s also on Kindle Reader and paperback, and also you can read other things and follow me at simply-resilient.com, and if you want a more up-close, personal view of me, you can follow me at Instagram, @christmashutchinson.
Lisa Linfield: 48:38 That’s wonderful. Thank you for your time and for sharing your expertise.
Christmas H.: 48:43 Thank you for having me. This was pretty fun.
Lisa Linfield: 48:47 That was Christmas Hutchinson, and I absolutely love the topic of resilience because I think that when we build more resilience, we end up allowing ourselves to grow more because we’re not as scared of how deep the rock bottom will be, because we know we can do hard things and we know we can get through these things. There are so many good tools in her book and on her website, so I really urge you to go visit that.
Lisa Linfield: 49:14 Have a great week, everybody. I’m Lisa Linfield, and this is Working Women’s Wealth.