How to Lead with Self-Compassion,
All Questions Answered
May 19, 2022
Episode #51: How to Lead with Self-Compassion, All Questions Answered
Do you consider yourself a leader?
If you're not so sure, let me make it easy… YES YOU ARE.
Each one of us leads in our lives, whether that's in our homes with our kids, in our places of work or in our churches or communities.
In fact, I celebrate my young kids leadership every time they share how they helped someone else or how they played with a kid who had no one else to play with.
When I think about leadership, I think of always being the kind of leader or boss I wish I had. For me that means compassionate and inclusive.
On this weeks podcast I give you 3 actionable tips (and a lot of other nuggets) on how you can show up and be a human-centered leader.
Listen in to this episode where Latina leader, Paula Castillo, and successful entrepreneur, Jessica Carter ask me all about becoming the kind of leader you always wish you had.
Follow Jessica on IG @jessica_carter_ommyoga
Follow Paula on IG @paulacastillo.co
Coaching for Latina Leaders
About the Podcast
Leadership ability is equally distributed but opportunity to lead is not. This podcast is for all women, those that identify as leaders and those that don't, yet. You'll learn how to let go of guilt and self-doubt so you can show up with confidence everywhere you go. No more questioning if your idea is good enough to share, if it's worth it to speak up, or if you're a good enough leader. All that self-critical B.S. stops now. Listen in as masterful educator and Harvard grad physician, Dr. Vanessa Calderón, teaches you how to let go of the things standing in the way of your success as a leader. Get ready, this podcast will accelerate your personal and professional growth.
Dr. Vanessa Calderón, MD, MPP has over 20 years of leadership experience. She is a Harvard grad, ER physician, Life and Leadership coach, and a mother of 2. She's a first generation Latina and is dedicated to uplifting her community. She's the founder of the Latina Leadership Accelerator, where she uses education and coaching to support the personal and professional development of women at all stages of their lives and careers.
Is a 12-week Life and Executive Coaching program that will help you execute at a higher level, thrive in all areas of your life, and improve your self-compassion. You'll be able to:
• Improve your productivity by 60%
• 10X your Emotional Intelligence
• Have more time for the people you love
• Cultivate an unwavering sense of self-compassion
The next cohort starts in Fall 2022. Learn more and join the waitlist at: www.vanessacalderonmd.com
Listen to the Whole Episode:
Full Episode Transcript:
Full Transcript Here
51. How to Lead with Self Compassion all questions answered
Vanessa, Paola, Jessica
Welcome to coaching for Latina leaders, the only podcast dedicated to the advancement of Latinas at every level of life with your host Dr. Vanessa Calderon, a Latina with over 20 years of leadership experience, Harvard grad physician, and mother of two. Hi Mujeres, welcome to episode number 51. So I want to start today's episode by asking you all a question. I want to ask you if you consider yourself to be a leader. Now, I'm going to get one of three responses. Yes. No, or I don't know or sometimes. So each one of us I want to tell you right now, that each one of you is a leader, whether you jumped at the Yes, right away, or you're not so sure. Or you were an absolute no, sorry, spoiler alert, you are a leader. And each one of us leads in our lives, whether we're leading in our home, in the relationship we have with our spouses, with our children, or in our places of work.
Regardless, if you have a leadership title, like a chief executive, or if you're the administrative assistant, you are showing up in leadership, or if you're leading in your communities or in your churches. In fact, at our house, we celebrate leadership with our young kids all of the time, when my four-year-old or my seven-year-old, come home and share with me how they helped somebody else at school, how they stood up for somebody, or when my four-year-old the other day told me how he chose to play with a kid who was all by themselves because they didn't have anyone else to play with. We celebrate their leadership qualities because that is leadership.
Now when I think about leadership, I think of always being the kind of leader or boss that I wish I had. And for me, that means being compassionate and inclusive. So a few weeks ago, and what you're gonna hear on this podcast episode is an interview, I was interviewed by a Latina leader and economics consultant, Paola Castion, and her partner, another successful entrepreneur Jessica Carter, on their podcast called, should I stay? Or should I grow? And the entire thing was about what lights me up like, what am I passionate about. And it was so easy for me to talk about leadership, and showing up in sort of a human-centered type of way. So in this week's podcast, I give you three actionable tips plus a lot of other really good nuggets, and how you can show up to be the kind of leader you always wish you had. Okay, Mujeres, enjoy.
Before you started, I just wanted to give you a huge shout-out because I love your podcast, I particularly love your episode on people-pleasing. And I have to say that your episode is the best content that I found for a model for people-pleasing. And so I am so excited to have you here. And thank you for all of the wonderful material that you share through your podcast.
Yeah, you're welcome. That really just speaks to my heart. Paola, thank you for sharing that. You know, we do all this work. And really, for me, the whole reason that I stepped away from you know, I retired from a physician leadership role last August. And the whole reason why I did it is that I wanted to really impact the lives of people just like you, you know, and really let them know that everything is available to you when you follow your heart. And I know that's a lot of what you all talk about on this podcast, but um, that just thank you. I appreciate that.
That people-pleasing podcast, by the way, is episode 23. I was just talking about that with somebody else in case people are interested. And Paola and I met because both of us are graduates of the Harvard Kennedy School. As part of my activism training, I done a lot of public policy and administration work before. And so I went to get a master's degree when I was in medical school because you know, my brain was wandering, wasn't enough. And so Paola, and I have a connection through our master's degree, which for me, just means a lot. Because the whole point of that degree is leadership. And both of us are Latinas. And there's just not a lot of, there's not many of us out there.
We just really want to start out with what lights you up, and I feel like it's gonna be along the lines of leadership. But if you just want to kind of take it away and speak to what kind of leadership you teach, and how you guide others in that leadership realm.
Yes, 100%. Thank you for that question. What lights me up? Oh, my gosh, my face is already so excited to share this. So for me, it's all about inclusive and Compassionate Leadership. So I have, you know, 20 years of leadership experience 10 of those have been as a physician leader, doing everything from you know, med exec., department chair., Medical Director roles to program management. I'm the wellness and resiliency director for a large National physician organization. And what really lights me up is inclusive leadership. Prior to me going to medical school, I was a social justice activist. And so I went around and I organized mainly health care providers to, to really go out and organize around our patients and ask for equal health care for everyone out there. I was, I did a lot of health care equity and racial disparity activism.
And so just that have, that's always sort of been part of my core of who I am. And the way it translates into what I do now really is continuing to be a leader that supports others and is super-inclusive, and very compassionate. And it always starts with self-compassion, you know. So now I specifically focus on coaching leaders of color to teach them how to be more self-compassionate, so that they can really execute at a high level. Because a waterfall effect of that is you just become the boss, you always wish you had you become a really compassionate boss, you become an inclusive boss and authentic boss. And that makes a world of difference for the teams that you lead.
I have to tell you when I was in yoga teacher training, we were learning the Yamas in the Niyamas. And we were talking about if we're not compassionate to ourselves, we really can't be compassionate
to others. And I took it pretty hard because I am super hard on myself, I'm a recovering perfectionist. And if you have a whip at yourself, even if you don't mean that whip to be at other people, they can still feel that whip. And so can you kind of just talk a little bit more about the importance of starting with self-compassion, because I think a lot of us struggle with that.
So to your point, I'm Jessica about self-compassion. You know, I am a firm believer in a lot of Buddhist teachings, and a lot of other more, you know, kind of mystical teachings that come from people that have been around for centuries and centuries before us. And I know Western medicine loves to study things and put people under functional MRIs and study their brains to say, yes, there is an actual effect. But of course, there's an effect, we've been knowing this for hundreds and hundreds of years. But what I love about what you just mentioned is and this just tying the science to this a little bit since you know, I'm a physician, and I do love, it fascinates me learning more about the brain and how it impacts a lot of what we do. But um, what you mentioned is scientific, it's called mirror neurons. It's how empathy works. And so whenever you are self-flagellating, for example, and you're that hard on yourself, you think you might be the most compassionate person out there. I also used to call myself a recovering perfectionist.
And I'm slowly learning to tear that apart, you know, and but you think you're being so compassionate to other people around you, because you have a really kind heart, or at least I did, and everybody can see exactly what's happening. And when you're working on in a team with them, and that's who you are, they need, they think they need to step up to that level too, especially if you are the leader leading the team. Even though you think you're being kind, even though you think you're being inclusive, even though you think you're being compassionate with your team. If you are that hard on yourself, people will see that because that's how mirror neurons work. And they will think they need to step up to that level and do that with themselves. And I know that I've caused a lot of stress when I used to lead teams back when I would lead that way when everything needed to be perfect in a different box by when were you going to have that done, you know.
And I've also worked with bosses that were that same way. kindest nicest bosses, but that's where they weren't. And so you, you know, they were sending out emails on the weekends are really late at night, and you felt like you had to respond. And, and yes, of course, a lot of it is like, do you really need to respond? Of course not. But do you want to be effective? And do you want to get promoted and all those other things? Yes. And so you think you need to respond. So absolutely, until you can totally see yourself and love yourself. And what I call right now is just being 100% all-in on yourself, which is, you know, really having your back no matter what feels those are going to come up but you're gonna see that with self-compassion, it taking care of your own well being first your own mental health first, until you can really see that and love yourself. 100% It's so hard for you to show up that way when you're leading a team.
That makes my heart just feel so warm, and I get chills. And I think that often we're told you need to love yourself. You need to be able to be your best cheerleader. And this in the past has been such an abstract concept. Oh, yeah. Well, you know, what does that mean exactly? And I think what
you're saying is that compassion is the gateway to be able to feel that self-love. So I'm wondering, if there are a specific practical ways for us to start acknowledging what you said, like acknowledging when we're maybe not our best selves, and how that can help us, or remind us that we need to act with self-compassion and how to do that.
Yeah. Okay, so I'm going to give people three different things that they can do, depending on what resonates with them. But before that, I just want to say this is a whole life time journey. So for everyone listening, this is a lifetime journey. And the reason why that's the case is that we are born with an inner critic. So our brain is here to do two things, our brain is here to keep us safe. And our brain is here, you know, to keep us alive. And to do that as efficiently as possible. How does it keep us alive, it has this crazy inner critic inside of us that we know we call the inner critic, some people call it the judge, I like to call it you know, the, the Inner Mean Girl, when I'm working with female leaders, and that thing is there, you know, revolutionary because it's supposed to keep us alive, it's supposed to say, don't run off that cliff, it's supposed to say, don't go and speak in front of that big crowd, you're gonna get humiliated kicked out of your tribe, it's supposed to do those things. And we're also no longer cave people, we are also now evolved so much so that we don't need to have that on high alert all of the time.
And the big-ticket is acknowledging that that's going to be there and acknowledging that no matter how much work you do, even some of you know, some of the Buddhist teachings that I follow, you know that one of the most popular ones Thich Nhat Hanh, you guys probably all know him. At even him, he would say, closest to his like, deathbed, when he was dying, I still have that person there, that it doesn't go away, you could be doing this work for centuries. Because if you are a human, which everyone's listening to, you are human, you will always have that inner critic, you know, and the inner critic shows up in three different ways. You judge yourself, you judge other people, or you judge circumstances, the things around you. And I can go on and on about the inner critic. But I will also say that I've been in this space doing this work for maybe about seven years now, over 10,000 hours of training myself of working with other leaders, and it still shows up for me. So I just want to make sure people know that this isn't something that happens overnight. And it's not going to be after this podcast is going to be because you commit to doing the work and practicing it every day and being kind to yourself all of the time. That's how you slowly start to devolve your inner critic, and really learn to be all-in on yourself. Okay, so that whole diatribe aside. So what are three things that we can do? Number one, we say, you know, love yourself.
A lot of people don't even know themselves. You know, I've coached leaders that have this, like super huge emotional intelligence that their EQ scores are super high. And they don't even really know themselves yet. Because why a lot of us have, you know, if you are, if you are a leader, you're probably a high achiever. You might be hyper achiever, which is what I like to call leaders that really require external validation for self-worth, which is a lot of leaders, my old self included, you know, one medical degree wasn't enough, I needed a master's degree from the public, for public policy, and not just from anywhere I needed to go to Harvard to get it, you know, and I didn't need to just be a resident and training, I needed to be the chief resident the best. And I didn't need to just be a leader, I needed to be the department chair. And all of that happened for me so fast, because I needed it so much to feel
validated to feel like I could be loved, you know, and now, I'm still ambitious. It's not like a knot, but I'm just no longer doing it for external validation. I'm no longer doing it because I need other people's support. And so where I would like to start is by asking you, if you're listening right now, if you are someone that if you're catching yourself, often needing to go to the next thing, I want you to stop and ask yourself, why. Why do I struggle to celebrate myself? What am I afraid? What am I afraid is going to happen if I slow down?
Because for a lot of people, we're afraid that if we slow down, we will lose track, we will fail, and the next success won't come fast enough. Somebody will think we're, we're lazy. And so I want to start with that. And the second thing I want to ask is, Is this the success that you really want? So really put yourself in that place. I love to do the future self-work, where I think about who I will be and who I want to become. And I want to ask you right now if you were to picture yourself really 20 years from today, looking back, what are you really gonna wish that you had done? What are those successes? And is it having closer personal relationships with your children or with your significant other? Is it traveling the world, you know, what is it that you really want to do and what's getting in the way because that's your real true inner divine, you know, your inner divine, your Sage inside of you, that's, that's that person really telling you like this is the direction we should be living in life.
What gets in the way of that is all of this external BS, you know, it's like, but wait society might not think that, or this person might not think that or that my current boss might not promote me or they may not be proud of me. And so that's the very first place I'd like to start is just by asking you if you are a hyper achiever, what are you afraid of, because you're usually achieving because you're afraid of something else, you're afraid you might not be loved, you might not succeed. The next thing is really just getting to know yourself. And for me once I started on this journey, so you know, I've been on the self-compassion journey for a while, but I didn't realize how important it was and how much I needed it until this last year when I dove headfirst into entrepreneurship, like the year before last.
Because when you're throwing yourself into an entrepreneurship role, all of a sudden, it's like, you know, everything on steroids, like all my insecurities, are out there anything I want it like every fear of failure that I had, all my perfectionist tendencies, everything is showing up. And if I didn't stop to love myself along the way, and in the beginning, it was hard because I didn't realize how important it was. And so I was so afraid, I was afraid to fail, I was afraid why? Because I didn't want to feel disappointed. Why? Because disappointment means, for me, I was making it mean shame. I don't want to fail because failure meant bad, bad, and then I was doing I was bad. Again, the whole shame. Like I like to think of it as sort of this as an electric fence, I was so afraid of putting myself in under this electric fence of shame if I didn't succeed.
And there is no way that you are going to be a successful human or an entrepreneur or a happy human, even if you're not an entrepreneur if you're always making all of those things mean something bad about you. And so really, that was when I had to like to flip the light switch on self-compassion and decide, Okay, that's it, like, I'm going to be all in on me like that, you know, even if I fail, I'm going to I'm really going to take that in as all everything I've learned all the successes, and what am I going to do next? And there is no I totally was like, I'm just not going to be available for shame anymore. For
shame, adapted to failure, I'm not going to make that connection in my brain anymore. That's it stops now, you know because there's no way. So really get to know yourself is what I would say. And one of them here's a practical thing you can do is look at the people around you, the people you surround yourself with And who around you do you really admire and love? And what qualities in those people do you admire and love? And I want you right now, to stop, maybe pause the podcast if you want. Take out a piece of paper and write out a list of 10 things about that person you admire? What are what is it about that person that you admire and love? Because what ends up happening is, those are the things that we tend to admire about ourselves and love about ourselves. And you might be like, wait, no, I'm not that kind. Really? No, I want you to ask yourself, Is that really true? Can you be 100% sure that that's not true?
And I want you to come up with three different examples of how it is true. Because what you really want to start doing is start making the right connections in your brain. Because again, you know, one of the beautiful things about our brain that's just become evident over the last 10-15 years in western medicine is that our brains are plastic and that they will change and evolve. That's where the word neuroplasticity comes from. Our brains will change and evolve based on what we decide to give based on how we decide to think and what we decide to perceive. So once you start making those connections that Oh, wow, I am as outgoing as that person. Oh, I do show up as confident as that person. You know what, however, you want, whatever it is that you're going to want to start believing and thinking about yourself. That's where it needs to start. First, you need to start making those connections first in your brain.
So just to kind of reflect on those three steps. The first one is to identify what kind of activities you're involved with. And ask yourself why, why are you doing these things? What's driving you? And if motivation is here to pinpoint that, you know you're doing things because you're afraid of something else happening.
Let me just add one thing to that Paola. For most people, this inner critic is so subtle, that you will now go to fear first. You know, I am thinking of a client I have right now who's this like high-level consultant made partner and her consulting firm really, really early Why? Because she worked her butt off, which means she wasn't present for our family, She wasn't present for our kids. And I remember when she made partner she's like, Okay, what's next? Like, what am I gonna do next? I'm like, Whoa, hold on a second. You are the youngest person to make a partner in your firm. What do you mean what do you do next? Let's just stop and celebrate. So if you are catching yourself doing that, then ask yourself why do I always need to go to the next thing? You know, it's usually because there's a lot of underlying stuff, but you might not even be, you might not even get there yet. So just ask yourself why, Who do I who am I trying to make proud of? What am I afraid will happen? If I don't go on to the next thing. And at the end, ask yourself those questions.
That's a great example. Because I think a lot of us are jumping from one achievement to the next without pausing to understand what's underlying our actions. And the second step is to do the visualization of the future self, and to think about what is really lighting you up? And then having some kind of comparison of that future self or exercise with your present actions.
Yep, yep. The future self. Exercise can feel abstract if you've never done it before. And so here are some questions that might help you. So you start, I like to start by closing my eyes, if you're comfortable with that, close your eyes, and really just ask yourself in 20 years, where do I see myself? What do I look like? What am I wearing? Who's around me? What is my house look like? How do I feel? Do you know? What are you know? And really, like, how do I feel that's the most important thing. Am I at peace and my this and my that? And what am I thinking that's causing these feelings? Oh, I'm thinking that I made peace with all you know, all the resentment that I had, in the past, I forgave all the people that like generational trauma, I forgave that I overcame that, I now have a really close relationship with my husband, and then a happy marriage. So really get clear on that, because it's usually not because I had all these degrees, or because I made all this money or because of all those things. So just get clear on that, and then work backward.
That's, thank you so much. That is such a beautiful exercise. So thank you for sharing that. And the third step is to get to know yourself. And here, I think you talked about, you know, understanding what that feeling of shame pops up, like what that shame can feel like in your body, and applying self-compassion. And the second thing that you talked about was that list of characteristics of people that you love about others, and then to start to assess, you know, are these characteristics that you also have yourself? (Yes) Oh, my gosh, thank you so much.
Yeah, they're the things I like to do. Pretty often, you know, I always start now, now that I've done so much work on self-awareness, and, you know, mindfulness with my own brain and my own thoughts, that when those thoughts come up, I'm able to do a quick exercise. So here's another one, when you're, when your inner critic, whatever you want to call it, I like to call my Georgina, the judge, when Georgina the judge shows up in my life, and I can hear her being so judgmental towards even. And here's an easy one, even towards other people, I'll see her judging somebody else. And I'll stop and I'll do this tactile exercise where I just touch my the tips of each one of my fingers. And essentially, what that does is it turns off your amygdala. So what's getting triggered when you're judging somebody is your fear center in your brain. So it turns off that fear center in your brain, and it takes you back to your prefrontal cortex, your higher-order brain that is really, you know, that's the part of our brain that separates us from all other mammals.
And so I do this exercise, touch every tip of my finger. And I usually do that, I don't know, maybe for five or 10 seconds or so that's usually enough for me to then see. And what I say to myself is their beating heart, just like mine. You know, that's how I practice compassion with other people. I do that when I'm starting to judge their beating heart, just like mine. And the more you can find compassion towards others, the easier it becomes to find compassion towards yourself. It was the most amazing thing I found when I was doing these exercises is the more I stopped judging circumstances, judging other people, the more I would judge, you know the judge would get triggered for me when I was judging myself. And the more I was able to do that with myself, and it's obviously the hardest, you know, learning to stop judging yourself is the hardest part. But um, but it happens, you know, in steps. So it's not a destination. It's an entire process for the rest of your life.
Oh, and then how do where do we find Vanessa next?
Oh, yeah. So you can find my podcast coaching for Latina leaders wherever you get your podcast. You can also find me on Instagram, VanessaCalderonMD.com and I'm pretty active on Facebook. I'm like, I think Facebook is for older, you know, like somebody says, Oh, your mom's Facebook or your mom's social media platform. I am a mom. So I'm very active on Facebook. So you can find me on Facebook as well and on my website VanessaCalderonMD.com.
If you enjoyed this episode, make sure to subscribe, rate the review, and share it with a friend. And if you love what you're learning here, then you have to sign up for my weekly love letters. I send you all the good stuff, doses of inspiration, and all the skills you need. So you can live, lead and make money like the chingona that you are. Subscribe to my website at VanessaCalderonMD.com. I'll see you there!