Susan Blais is a leadership coach on a mission to transform the world of work one leader at a time. She made the long climb from receptionist to CEO of a billion-dollar division of a Fortune 100 company over 26 years in the health insurance industry. She helps leaders understand and implement the critical balance between relationships and results, so they can unleash their people's talents to achieve bottom-line success and fulfillment for all.
It has leveled them out. I can be radically up and down and all around and I have, because of that practice, been able to get much more centered and calm. The highs and lows are more moderate instead of crazy.
Thoughts on Breathing
Because I tend to do everything quickly, in the old days I would want to skip the warmup and go right to the workout. I think, oh yeah, breathing.
I have come to appreciate how powerful it really is and that's one of the techniques I use with my clients when they start getting upset.
I say, let's take a minute here and take a couple of deep breaths. It's amazing how the simple act of taking a quiet calm breath or two or three can change your whole outlook.
App: Cure Stress (By Roy Masters, Get it at the App Store or at the website: www.FHU.com)
You can go into that refuge and have a place of calm so that no matter what life throws at you, you can handle it with grace, with calm, and with quiet. - Susan Blais
One of the CEO's that I worked for; it was one of those situations where I was the golden girl for the first few months that I came in and I was doing all these amazing things.
I was brought in to start a new division and was making great gains and doing all kinds of wonderful things and at a certain point I crossed him by inadvertently telling the truth to the chairman of the board when I guess I was supposed to massage the message a little bit in a different way and I saw it happen.
I thought to myself, uh oh, I'm in trouble. And from that day on, for the next two years, he bullied me horribly, doing things like: embassassing me, calling me out in front of my team, having conference calls with my peers, and just treating me as if I was an idiot. All kinds of things like that where it was just miserable.
That kind of behavior destroys people. Unfortunately, it really does. It really bothered me. I was going to quit but then fortunately the company was acquired and I got to cash out in a much more positive way.
But I was going to leave because I realized that I was not being my best. If you bully people, and try to beat them down; guess what? Their performance goes down. It's like, we're going to beat people into success? That doesn't work very well.
I definitely used elements of mindfulness during those years to keep myself strong. I used my Roy Masters meditation; you can do it in seven minutes. I would do it several times a day.
I'd have to go into my office and calm down, because I would be upset coming from a meeting with him where I had just had my head beaten in, figuratively, and now I'm going to meet with my team. So I've got to get myself together.
I'd go into my office for a few minutes and calm down, get myself back on center and then go out to them.
That's another critical thing that happens in organizations is, you have the waterfall. It starts at the top, the head person beats on the next level, and they beat on the next level, and they beat on the next level.
I used to literally have an image of an umbrella and I would say, "no, it stops here. I don't care what you do to me, I'm not going to treat my people that way."
I always treated my people well. We had our own little corner of the world that was fun and functioning and positive. But that took a lot of effort and mindfulness to do that because I would have to bring myself back to center before I interacted with them again.