Courage for career women blog

with Vanessa May

How to clear the noise when you’re overwhelmed

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I woke up this morning feeling anxious. My brain has too many tabs open. It was full of things that were on my list that needed attention. Each one felt massively important and urgent.

I am at capacity this week with work, and I notice how my week started with an urgent request for a meeting and it has followed that reactive pattern.

This is contributing to the anxious feelings alongside the sadness and grief I feel at having to say goodbye to Esther, my constant fur companion of 14 years.  

My reactive behaviours in this place are to push hard, to try and control all the variables and to seek perfection so that I can feel safe. My unintended impact is that I can send people flying in different directions trying to tend to things.

There was a need to quiet the noise and, instinctively, I reached out to a friend and colleague in my support team who reminded me of my grounding. I went for a walk in nature, I stopped, paused and listened to the bird song: a pheasant, a parrot and a skylark all calling in unison.

When I got back in the office, I wrote on a post it a heading of Clear the Noise and underneath it dumped everything out of my head. Then, I chose to go through my emails and delete and unsubscribe those that were contributing to the noise. I listened to some calming music and my emotional state shifted as I did some Heartmath Breathing.

I read recently in Bob Anderson’s The Spirit of Leadership that “change is only possible if we are willing to go through the same metonia (fundamental shift of mind and heart) that we want for the organisation.”

I want Courage Unfolding to support women to be themselves and succeed on their own terms.  So for the business to do that, I have to recognise and take ownership of my anxiety and the reactive, perfectionist pattern that I can take in my leadership and be willing to risk failure without feeling like it is attached to my worth or value. I need to practice perfect imperfection and accept that nothing is final and that learning and having a growth mindset is what will help me and the business succeed.

I can step into my authenticity and transparency and share this moment with you as story. I can lean into my values of honesty and clarity and share this leadership gap between how I have been socialised to be to be safe by reaching for perfection, and tap into the independent self that is creative, resourceful and on a mission to empower women.

We teach what we most need to learn. I teach empowerment and I acknowledge my ongoing journey to claim my leadership and work in the world. Hopefully you can see I practice this and, like yoga, sometimes I just need to be reminded to get back on the mat and do the inner work.

If any of this reminds you of yourself, my book Live Courageously might be for you.