Episode 164 // Bringing Mindfulness to Your Work with Leah Weiss

February 20, 2018

Bosses, today we’re focusing on bringing more mindfulness to your work. Leah Weiss, lecturer, researcher, and meditation expert at Stanford Business School, joins us today to talk about the importance of building relationships in the workspace and bringing mindfulness to what you do—beyond just sitting in meditative silence.

This Episode Brought to You By:
"The ability to focus our attention and turn it back to the task at hand is highly trainable."
- Leah Weiss

Discussed in this Episode

  • Drawing the line between professional and personal in work relationships
  • Practicing mindfulness and meditation
  • Working vs. getting stuff done
  • How can you work some mindfulness into your life that isn't just sitting in silent meditation
  • The effects of bringing mindfulness to your work
  • Redefining success in a wholehearted way


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Leah Weiss 0:00
I think a big part of it is bringing intentionality to how we're structuring our days, a little bit of silence can go a really long way. Having frequent short breaks for a minute, you know, throughout a really busy day. And the other place that I feel is really important is just building into the day is an opportunity, the beginning of the day and intermittently to just ask myself, what is really the priority? a priority for me as a human the priority for me, for my business of the bazillion things I could do that would probably be great. Like, what is the one? And what do I want to put my attention on? And that's a real question that I know I can go days without asking if I don't put that into my rituals of my life.

Kathleen Shannon 0:55
Hello, and welcome to being boss, a podcast

Emily Thompson 0:57
for creative entrepreneurs. I'm Emily Thompson. And I'm Kathleen Shannon. I'm Leah Weiss, and I'm being golf. Today we're talking about mindfulness and business with Leo Weiss. As always, you can find all the tools, books and links we reference on the show notes at WWW dot being boss dot club.

Kathleen Shannon 1:20
Okay, I hope the IRS isn't listening because I'm about to tell you, I am not great about keeping receipts for my business expenses. The way I see it is it's 2018. And paper shouldn't be a thing that we have to keep up with. Still, there's a digital trail for everything. But I recently had a chat with my accountant and she explained that physical receipts are still important because they itemize the purchases you made which will keep you on the up and up if let's say a $500 expense at Target is put into question, then you can prove that you spent $500 on office supplies and not the new chip and Joanna Gaines collection. So one thing I love about fresh books cloud accounting is they make it so easy to digitally keep track of your physical receipts, you can take a picture and store a photo of it in the mobile app. Plus freshbooks automates your expenses directly from your bank account which makes reconciling a snap. Try fresh books cloud accounting for free by going to freshbooks comm slash being boss and enter being boss in the How did you hear about us section.

Emily Thompson 2:26
Leah Weiss is a lecturer at Stanford Business School researcher and meditation expert. She is a founding faculty member of the Dalai Lama's compassion cultivation program developed at Stanford University. She has dedicated her life to teaching people how to leverage research based mindfulness and compassion insights to create outstanding leaders and thriving work environments.

Kathleen Shannon 2:50
Leah, welcome to being boss.

Leah Weiss 2:53
Thank you so much for having me. I've been looking forward to talking with you both.

Kathleen Shannon 2:58
Well, we've been looking forward to it too. I think that what we're going to be talking about today will resonate, not only with us, but pretty much all of our listeners. So we're so excited to have you on the show. Can you tell us what it is that you do and really the kind of conversation that you're trying to create on a national and global scale.

Leah Weiss 3:17
So my work is with existing and emerging leaders. I've been teaching a class at the Stanford Business School, leading with mindfulness and compassion. I've got a book coming out that brings a lot of these tools forward in this march with HarperCollins, called how we work. And my real interest is in giving people evidence based highly practical skills to live a more purposeful life, at work. And beyond. In my feeling is this also has strong implications for our use of shared resources and ethics and all kinds of other implications because I think we get into trouble as individuals and organizations when we lose track of our purpose. So I see this as being not just about growth for us as individuals but as about the way forward to get to the root of what we need to do to create thriving businesses and communities and world.

Emily Thompson 4:28
I love this. I love how this conversation is coming to the forefront around this holistic view of working and living and how like holistically those two things work together to make a whole happy person. But even larger than that to one happy person. It can make such huge changes in small communities and large communities how I don't know it's just becoming a cool thing to realize that everything is intertwined and everything plays off of everything and it's such an important such an important point. Have you to have, as I think people working and living in the modern age, where we're wondering how and why everything is so broken, but I feel like this is the solution is to view the world and like on the macrocosm, and the micro, what it is that you're doing with your own life and work, how it all works together.

Leah Weiss 5:24
Yes, I couldn't agree more. I think that this recognition that we are one person who's filling multiple roles, rather than trying to be different people that we segments, is really the way forward so that we can have the reality of our day to day lives as we move through the different aspects of our day at home with our families with our colleagues, that we recognize that there's not these clear boundaries between the concerns we have for a health of a loved one, for example, and how we're showing up at work and how we're going to do the best work that we can and acknowledging that all of our teammates have full selves that they're bringing it, I think that what we're really learning now is that when people have this perspective, we actually are more effective and more on purpose, it doesn't mean that we can't get stuff done, we actually work better together, when we attend to the relationships professionally, rather than pretending that they don't matter, because they do.

Kathleen Shannon 6:38
I think you're for sure speaking to the choir here. So our podcast listeners are a lot of creative entrepreneurs. And some of them are working day jobs, and maybe hustling on the side with their creative endeavor. But a lot of us really felt the need to blend more of who we are into the work that we do with our personal brands. And whenever we're you know, creating content, we're not always separating the personal from the professional, but I think that there is still a lot of residual rules in place whenever it comes to how we work and kind of putting on that professional cap versus not professional cap. And, you know, it's even kind of funny because as I record this podcast, I have a child with a fever lying in my lap. And I apologize to the both of you before we hit record saying like, I know that this is so unprofessional. So where do you kind of draw the line though, because I do feel like at some point. There is an aspect of not floodlighting to use some Bernie brown language here of not floodlighting, your co workers with your shit. But also making sure that they do understand that you are a whole person and that you might be going through some shit says some things that I'm specifically thinking about not only within the context of organizations, but even in the context of creative entrepreneurs who are working with clients are things like the death of a parent, or even maternity leave or being pregnant and having a child like these external factors that can greatly impact our work. Like how do we bring more mindfulness and compassion and professionalism to the table whenever it comes to blending these things in an appropriate way?

Leah Weiss 8:20
Yeah, this is such a great question. And, you know, I feel like one of the things that that we worry about, rightfully so is, you know, how do I do it in a way that feels authentic, but also isn't, you know, sharing what I'm going through, or understanding people around me, but also like, we have worked to get done together. And you know, it also sometimes when people have major life stuff going on, they don't want to be asked or imposed on every five minutes, like, How are you feeling? How is it going? Like, sometimes people actually like having the ability to go to work and focus when they want to? Sheryl Sandberg was, she came to the business school at Stanford to give a talk about a few months ago, and she was talking about how in her grieving process, how important it was to her to have a place at work, that she could go. And obviously, everyone knew that she was experiencing such intense grief, but also, you know, so my point is we need to make decisions about what we want to share. And we also need to respect what the people around us most need, which might be different from what we might think they need or we would need. Part of how I like to approach it is to be practical to have conversations and really to keep the awareness so when you're doing a check in with your team each week, like you can set the norms around that that it's not a 30 minute therapy session. It's you know, what's on your mind what's going on for you. Individually, what are you focusing on for work? What do you anticipate might be roadblocks, internally externally? So it's just part of the conversation. And if you set up a structure that contains it, and also, you know, so that people, it's not like an invitation that we're no longer gonna have the meeting, we're here to have that, you know, we're just going to spend the whole time doing therapy. I think that that's really important. And then for the opposite of supporting other people, I think it's really a question of like having the conversation, what do you need to support you? What do you want on your maternity leave? Do you want radio silence? Do you want meals? Do you want check ins like asking someone, because I know I've been on the receiving end and had friends on the receiving end of good intentions from work colleagues, but actually, it was a big stressor, it just their actual preference would have been to have a break from those relationships. But you feel like you can't do that. And nobody asked. So I think some of these, like, what would this look like for you what is support look like, you know, financially emotionally in terms of communication when people are dealing with life events.

Emily Thompson 11:13
Right, I always feel like there's this fine line between overthinking it and not thinking about it enough, I guess where you are in, for example, you know, you're going through a hard situation, and you go to work, and you tell no one about it. Or you have overthought it to the point where you aren't going to share anything that's happening, and no one understands what's going on. And it affects your work. And they make all these assumptions as to why you're acting weird, or whatever it may be, because you've overthought it to the point where you just don't do anything about it. And then the flip side of that is just going in and telling everyone all of your problems and expecting everyone to solve them, or at least listen, at least listen to what it is that you're going through. And that's not the place of your co workers either. So I think there is this fine line there. And I believe that it's probably different for everyone aware, you know, depending on your situation, both you know, externally like what it is that you're going through, but also your your role and your colleagues and your job. I think that that I'm sure there is no easy answer. But but it is about writing that fine line of thinking things through enough to know that you're sharing enough so that people understand but not over sharing in a way that affects how it is that you're able to show up and get the job done.

Leah Weiss 12:34
I think that's such a good way to put it. And I feel like one of the things that gets people in trouble is when we try to not deal with it, like I'm gonna put this in a box it like you said, the often if there's something major going on, it shows up in our work. So we're not hiding it. We're just not giving people context. So I think that's exactly right. Like, what's the appropriate amount of context that that we can and should give, in testing that out with people too, I mean, having friends in the workplace, or we can like pre think before we're going and doing this in the big group or to the person we report to or to our clients, you know, that we have like, here's how I'm thinking to frame this, how does this sound like ask for feedback and coaching, so you can prop it, get used to get used to it. And I think the other thing that's really interesting is the role of suppressing emotion. So many people have ideas that being professional means like, you're not going to feel and you're not going to verbalize what you're feeling. And you know, I have years of stories of students and people I work with who come back to this, you know, they're in high pressure startup situations are working around the clock, the thing that they don't deal with today becomes the blow up of tomorrow. And sometimes the stories like businesses implode because relationships, things that you could have had a challenging conversation about a few months back, you didn't, and then it becomes such a huge flare up that there's, you know, becomes very difficult to recover from. So this is one of the things we work on a lot like, you know, you could first you to make the step of it to have the emotional intelligence, know what you're feeling what you're triggered by, then you can take the step to be intentional about when and how you surface it. But just trying to ignore it as a strategy that will implode

Kathleen Shannon 14:30
for sure. And you know, for our listeners, who don't maybe have co workers or aren't, you know, working within the context that you're really speaking to, I think that this is where it's so valuable to have what we call a business bestie or a mastermind group or a coach where you can really process some of these things and these emotions and how you're going to handle it in the professional setting with a group of trusted people or person who can really help you navigate what that is. And so one thing I wanted to just ask you, before we move on to talking more about mindfulness and meditation and bringing mindfulness to work is, is there any sort of language around having these difficult conversations or any sort of practical tools around saying like, Okay, I'm putting on a different hat here, like, this isn't my fully professional hat. I don't know how to articulate what I'm saying. But I need to, you know, authentically tell you that this is what's going on? Do you have any sort of practical guidance around having those really difficult conversations within your trusted circle? Or even with your clients? Or someone where it's a little trickier? Yes.

Leah Weiss 15:38
Well, I think that, you know, one of the tools that I find really helpful is the idea of the ladder of inference. So you know, the bottom of this ladder, you can picture like, data information, the what's happening, so behaviors, and then you climb up this ladder. And there's our interpretation. So if it's, you know, a relationship you and I are having, say, we're working together, you're my client, so you blow off a few of our calls. So that's the observable behavior, then I can interpret that any number of ways. But love will often happen. And we know is like, I'm anxious, why didn't you show up for these calls as a signaling me that you're not going to re up, you know, our work together. And maybe I climb a few levels of interpreting, anticipating then responding to your behavior, but also my ideas about your behavior. So one of the things that I think is really helpful, we all do this all the time, professionally, personally, but to just realize, as we're climbing this ladder, and getting further and further into our stories, that we're doing that, so that's a great opportunity to like, identify, what is the story here? What's the behavior, what's the feeling, so the behavior was like, You didn't show up to a couple of our meetings, my feeling is fear or anxiety. And then in having this conversation with you, it helps me parse out, hey, just noticed, you know, want to check in with you, I've noticed you haven't been on the last few calls, what's going on. So you could keep the conversation, get the data level back, it might be something totally different. Maybe they have something going on in their professional personal life. And then if it feels appropriate, you can make the choice to say, the story I was telling myself is x, and they just want to check that out with you. Because it might be totally off base. And so you're you know, that's a judgment call, it might not be appropriate in every relationship to go from the data to just like I noticed you weren't on the calls, they might care how you're feeling about it, don't inflict it. But if it feels authentic to that relationship, then, you know, you can put that out there for the conversation or ask questions of them that get their interpretations and stories about the relationship. So I see that as being really effective and something to practice. Just having the language for and like using that, that test with myself, is what I'm seeing, like, what's the part of this that is true observable behavior, and what's the part of this is highly subjective, because they just get so mixed up together. In our experience,

Kathleen Shannon 18:23
I know I love the idea of even you know, being able to go to a business partner or my teammates and being like, Hey, I am halfway up this ladder right now. And so you know, what I'm seeing is this. But what I'm feeling is this, but even just literally saying, where I'm at on the ladder, okay, I'm one rung up on the ladder. Okay, I'm three rungs up on the ladder, I'm at the very top of the ladder, I need some help coming down. So I think that that's like a really cool visual to add to the story that we're telling ourselves,

Leah Weiss 18:51
I find it really helpful. The first time I had to introduce to me I was actually working with someone who was funding a project that I was on. And the meeting was for me to go over a timeline with them. And this woman who is just amazing at this skill set, and she pointed out, we got to like q1 of whatever the next year was, she's like, trying to talk faster, and you seem kind of agitated, like what's going on? For you, as you're talking about the goals and that quarter. I was just floored me, because I hadn't made this the connection that I was stressed. I felt like the benchmarks we had said they weren't realistic. She's the funder. So it's like a high stakes situation. I didn't know how to communicate it. But then it allowed for this conversation of you know, here's, you know, I'm trying I'm, I'm thinking for myself, as we're talking through this, this, this calendar, is this realistic? What resources do I need to make this happen? Or do we need to recalibrate the plan and it just was this incredible example of her noticing from the havior in the emotions, getting into the story and being able to actually address what was going on, it was so cool. So I that's been like kind of my where I tried to do ever since then if I'm with someone, and they're, you know, or didn't invite the people on my team to give me that kind of feedback.

Kathleen Shannon 20:15
Yeah. Sounds like powerful stuff.

Emily Thompson 20:18
I like it. I like it. Because it is all like it just voicing its voicing and processing through. And you can't always do that alone, you need to do with the people who are involved in the all levels of everything we just talked about. You're not in it alone.

Kathleen Shannon 20:39
All right, I want to gear the conversation toward mindfulness and meditation, I think that this is something that our bosses listening could really use more of, or at least I mean, all of it, who couldn't, who couldn't use more mindfulness and meditation and compassion and all the things. So I was poking around your website a little bit and saw that you have experience with silent retreats? Can you pass in a silence for 10 days? Correct?

Leah Weiss 21:09
I did actually, during my 20s, I did a number of 100 day retreats and one six month retreat,

Kathleen Shannon 21:16
before I hit. You did a six month Silent Retreat. Okay, I hear I was thinking like 10 days, like, That's intense. Oh, my gosh, so six months of silence, can you just kind of give us the download, like what happened? So

Leah Weiss 21:32
I practice in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. And so a lot of there's this developed curriculum and you move from practice to practice, there's a lot of elaborate visualizations, there's different it's meditation in the much broader sense than just like sitting and, you know, being quiet and listening your breath, which, you know, just to put that out there. We did do some practices like that. But it was just expanded beyond way beyond, you know, just sitting and watching your breath for six months, although those are great practices to do. And some people do, my husband's done three month retreats, more focused on that. On the breath part. So I mean, I think for me, I was always really motivated to understand experientially, like, where do these practices go? And then the next questions for me, were okay, this is amazing. But how do we make this actionable for people who are not going to go do 100 day meditation retreats, and even, you know, for me, now, I have three little kids that in for it, and three years old, like so I'm not leaving them for 100 days. Imagine speak to your kid for 10 days, like just all the crap they would get into?

Kathleen Shannon 22:54
I know, because I've been called the past night, maybe, you know, yeah, I've been thinking about doing that. I have a friend that does silent meditations for 10 days, and she always has mind blowing experiences with each one. And I'm really feeling the need right now to just be quiet for 10 days. I love the idea of it. But it isn't at all feasible, you know, with my life and my lifestyle and my work and my family. So that's really what I'm trying to figure out from my wiser friends who have had that experience is like, what was your key takeaway? And then how do you continue because it's one thing to go sit or, you know, expanded meditation for 10 days, or six months, or three months, or however long it might be, but then bringing it back to the real world, even for people who practice meditation on a daily basis for 20 minutes at a time or get really into a yoga retreat? I think the challenge is always just bringing how do we bring this back into the real world?

Leah Weiss 23:53
Absolutely, absolutely. Because even if we do that retreat, eventually we come out of it and go home and then sell the same exact question you're asking. I think a big part of it is bringing intentionality to how we're structuring our days, a little bit of silence can go a really long way. Having frequent short breaks for a minute, you know, throughout a really busy day, the person who first got me really interested in the power of these short practices was congressman Tim Ryan, who wrote mindful nation and he came and spoke at our compassion Center at Stanford. Soon after I started working there and he was just talking about for people who are moving all the time, like Congress, people like entrepreneurs who are working one, possibly two jobs and everything else. When you stop for a brief period of time, that has such a strong impact. And the other place that I feel is really important is just building into the day is an opportunity the beginning of the day and intermittently to just ask ask myself what is really the priority? priority for me as a human the priority for me, for my business of the bazillion things I could do that would probably be great. Like, what is the one? And what do I want to put my attention on? And that's a real question that I know I can go days without asking if I don't put that into my rituals of my life. So I think adding these rituals in for me, the definition of mindfulness, as the intentional use of attention is really powerful. Because we can, and I would argue, should use our attention intentionally everywhere, not just on a meditation cushion. When we're with our kids, when we are getting a task done. You know, mono tasking can be a mindfulness practice seeing all the distractions that pull us away. So I'm increasingly out of necessity and the phase of life I'm in but, you know, I just feel to like these, integrating is the name of the game, like it was never about meditation for meditation sake, it was meditation as a tool to live a more purposeful, compassionate life. And so I feel like, it's been great that we've prioritized seated meditation and put it together with mindfulness. But I feel like if I have a soapbox, it's to also reclaim all the other sides of it, that aren't just eyes closed meditation, like the rest of the 24 hours of the day.

Emily Thompson 26:38
I love this. I also love the idea. Whenever we talk to our creative entrepreneur crowd, one of the things they struggle with the most is marketing themselves, which usually includes speaking, or like outputting, some sort of language to tell people about what it is that they do. And I almost wonder, and I'm just like flying off the seat of my pants here. I almost wonder if giving people more time or people taking it for themselves more time to look inward and listen and like and listen in, or just like sit more quiet time would actually make them better like expresses. So being able to output if you are lowering your output by being silent occasionally, and occasionally focusing more not even on input, but just what is currently there. Make sense? Does that make sense? Anybody? Because I'm feeling that a lot for sure.

Kathleen Shannon 27:36
Oh, yeah, totally. I was also thinking about this idea of, you know, mindful nation, because for me as a type a creative, and I'm sure that some of our listeners can resonate, we feel like, we need to have this meditation practice that looks like a meditation practice. And by God, we're going to do it every single day. And it's going to be perfect, when in fact, it's really not. And so whenever you were talking about mindful nation, I haven't read the book. But this idea that if we were all like, if all you know 6 billion of us or however many of us are in the States at least would take 10 minutes a day to chill out how much better our entire nation would be really really drives the point home to me that just a little bit can really go a long way. Yeah,

Leah Weiss 28:21
I I really feel like it's almost an inertia habit. For me, I see this in my own you know, habits around getting ready for a book launch. It's like there's always it's so easy to get into being a to do less Ninja, but having those breaks that are you know, quiet and grounding and what am I feeling and which of these activities is purposeful so that we can orient our actions towards those I think it's it definitely vital and I think it's one of our collective mistakes we make that it's like, the more we work the more we're gonna get done there's that's not true after a point we need to do sleep and self care and reflect and there's a reason there's so many great examples of of breakthroughs happening not while we're sitting and staring at the computer or working actively on the probe on the problem but afterwards taking the walk when we're washing the dishes in the shower like that needs to be built into our process if we want to have sustainability and resilience

Emily Thompson 29:34
for sure and that's something I know I felt time and time again and I know Kathleen has as well and I but I also love the idea of going into it Kathleen say with having this like picture perfect instagrammable meditation practice which is not what meditating is about. But doing what you say instead of this idea of like everything you do should be a practice in mindfulness and and should be gone into with intention is reminds me of That making Oprah podcast where Oprah is talking about how whenever she started going at every decision she made in her life in business, with the idea of what is the intention of this is when she really saw some transformation and what was coming out of the work that she was doing. It was no more just doing things because it was a good idea, or because someone said they should do it or whatever it was what is a very clear and beneficial to others intention that goes into this action that we're taking. And if if it couldn't be pinpointed, then it wasn't done. And if it could be pinpointed, then that was the intention with which they did the thing. And I think that i think that that's a really great a really great idea for bringing it into everyday life. Maybe it's not as though you could find 1020 minutes every day to sit down and be quiet and, and focus and do the thing. But if for whatever reason, you can't do that, or you're not doing that, simply bringing that level of mindfulness to tasks that you're doing all day every day, can probably make a huge shift as well, I imagine.

Kathleen Shannon 31:13
I'm so curious to hear from both of you like what kind of tasks Do you feel the most mindful doing? That's not like an obvious, you know, quote, unquote, meditation? is it doing the dishes? Is it you know, part of your morning routine? Like, do you have these moments that almost trigger you into meditation through action?

Emily Thompson 31:33
Yes, I just thought of a really good one for me, and it's cooking, and usually around stirring the pot, whatever it may be, do whatever it may be that I'm cooking, it's usually those moments of like stirring or saw Tang where I, you know, sit and think like, I've made this for my family. I hope it makes them healthy, like all of these things. So that's one of mine.

Kathleen Shannon 31:52
It's funny that you say that Emily, mine is chopping the vegetables. Like it's the chopping for me that always rising into the moment of you know, cooking for and also it makes me really think about my family. But I'm trying to think of if there are any work examples as well, where, for me, it's usually these really repetitive tasks where I'm not having to make decisions. And I think it's why I love designing, sometimes I love doing graphic design, especially the more repetitive mundane design tasks, because I can really start to, it's not quite zoning out, it's almost more like the idea of tapping in and that's where I really notice it is in these moments where I could easily be zoning out, like washing the dishes, but instead tapping into how does the water feel? Well, you know, whenever I'm washing this glass, like, Am I getting all the spots, and just really being present with those moments? So your turn Leah, like, do you have any actions or moments that really trigger you into that kind of mindfulness, or even recommendations for our listeners to use some of their actions as a trigger for mindfulness?

Leah Weiss 32:58
Yeah, I mean, on the sort of Home Front, I love the the cooking or cleaning, gardening. And I think for me with like work tasks, I've been finding it so helpful to do, you know, set the 25 minute timer, and just do really focus mano tasking, and then give myself an actual break, and then sit down and do it again, instead of the sort of endless work sessions that are Sunny, focused and task switching. It just, I feel so much better. And I get a lot more done. But it's that feeling better part that's so interesting. And I think another one for me lately has been I got into some bad habits inside, especially like a year and a half ago, where I was, I was on I was saying yes to too many phone calls, I didn't like conversations that I didn't need to be on I didn't really have time for so I'd kind of multitask. And when I've stopped, I've started saying no to more, and then have a practice of being really present to the ones that I'm in, which can include sometimes cutting things short if I need to. I feel like you know, first of all the quality of the connections and just really like appreciating people that's not possible. And I'm multitasking right? Like, and yeah, just being more meetings and making decisions about conversations. And, you know, are we spending time networking with people or selling or talking or creating like, these are some of the big pain points that we all have. So for me, like the prioritizing and holding myself accountable when I've said I'm going to be at this meeting, like, all right, not just my body, but my mind too. I'm here I'm all in while I'm here.

Emily Thompson 34:48
One of the things that this is bringing up for me is this idea of making space for even mundane things that you're doing where you know, for me stirring My food is something where I could just supermind mindless, Do it. But instead I make space for actually taking a moment and thinking about it or you know, with whether it's work tasks or doing the dishes or whatever it's this idea of, of giving it mental space and giving things mental space that you would not otherwise. And I do feel like that's, I may be like a little key to it is just making the space to think about it, because then you can consider intentions and all of these things, but it's just just about giving it a bit of space to be important.

Kathleen Shannon 35:29
I totally agree with that. Emily, I think that I was even maybe talking to you about wanting to meditate and finding it impossible to get back into. And I think of as you were having just the discussion around, well, I do have a lot of quiet moments throughout the day, it's just if I would bring more focus or intention, or even just acknowledgement into those moments. It would then, buddy, I'm recording a podcast. I've got all this conversation about mindfulness and prioritizing and not multitasking. And here I am recording a podcast with my sick child, monkeying around on my lap. Anyway, as I was saying, I'm just bringing that kind of mindfulness and intention to the moments of my day where I'm already being quiet and grounded, for example, putting my child to sleep, like that's one of my quietest moments of the day. And it's one of those things that I found myself rushing through it or like wanting to get to the next thing, which was sitting on my couch and watching Netflix, like as much as I want to watch Stranger Things, it was really a perfect opportunity to be mindful and present with my kiddo and with myself, and even with my breath. And so really taking advantage of that. But then also, you know, to what you were saying, Leah about the tasks, I think it's interesting, because as I become more mindful to my tasks than even setting a 10 minute timer, Emily, and I've talked about this so many times that we can get so much done in such little time whenever we have focused, concentrated effort on that task. And then it ultimately turns us into a to do list ninjas, where we really are checking through all the things through book launches, and, you know, podcast recordings, and all the things that we have to do every single day. So is this funny kind of thing where you do become much more productive by just slowing down and focusing on the

Leah Weiss 37:24
task at hand. Yeah, I love that. And I feel like one of the hardest things for me is then if I'm going to structure my day to take those intense focused periods of time, then to really let myself have a break, I enjoy, like, I will let myself you know, or try let myself go for a walk, or like, go run, and do something with a kid for 20 minutes, instead of like, my habit of being like, I'm gonna get everything done so that I can be off for the day, which is also good. But letting those breaks really be breaks and do like give myself permission to do something I love. For 10 minutes, it feels so good. And it's so hard.

Kathleen Shannon 38:07
Okay, I have a question about this, how I think that part of the hard thing about taking breaks, is like maybe you're in the flow with work, or you're really

Emily Thompson 38:18
like you can't turn it off in your head. So even as you go for the walk, you keep thinking like how do you? Do you compartmentalize? Or do you allow yourself to keep going, and this is a problem that I have, where I can get in and super focus and get all of my tasks done for the day. And then I've only been here for like two or three hours and not that I feel guilty. But then I'm like, now I can go ahead and do all my tasks for tomorrow as well. And so more things on my plate, and get them done instead of just walking away and enjoying the fact that I just busted my ass and got everything

Kathleen Shannon 38:51
or like now that that's done, let's make another webinar. Right?

Leah Weiss 38:55
Yeah, whatever it may be. Yes, yes. No, I feel like that's, I mean, it's so strange, isn't it that like, that's the place that takes the most discipline at this point. Like it's not to get the work done, it's to stop and it's to take that break. And, you know, or take those vacation days that feel impossible to take. And I think a part of it, you know, and this is consistent with the behavior change research is like if we focus when we do like starting something small, so for me, if I might feel too guilty, like I'm gonna go take a long workout melody, like I can put on my sneakers and take a 15 minute walk, I really can and just read while I'm doing that, even if my mind is wandering back to work stuff or what I should do next, just like keeping my attention in my body, and then paying attention when I go back to work like the quality of my mental processing is going to be so much higher. So really, like taking the time to savor that will be the best reinforcement So that I can do it the next day. Because I feel like otherwise, when I tell myself when I schedule it in or sort of try to do it from a muscle at perspective, I'll just rebel and be like, now I'm gonna skip that. And I'm gonna get another thing that I don't know. And that I think that that's consistent with people say, if you focus on the why you should do this behavior, it's not going to work as well as appreciating what you actually are getting out of it.

Emily Thompson 40:25
Oh, I love that that may have just been the mindset shift that I needed, because there are lots of reasons why I should go ahead and do all the things that I could do. But I think that moving you about why shouldn't do them? Why this is not the moment to go ahead to tomorrow's or next week's tasks. Maybe a good place, because I can think of more reasons why shouldn't most days should, I'm sure.

Kathleen Shannon 40:50
Well, I also think I love the idea that, you know, as bosses, we can challenge ourselves to have the discipline to turn it off, and that it is a practice and we're not going to win every single time at being mindful or at turning it off. But we're, we're bosses like we can do really hard things. And if the hardest thing that we have to do is stop our train of thought from going into work and be present with ourselves, then, man, we've got some work to do. Right? Right, or we've done a good job, but we still have worked. Exactly.

Leah Weiss 41:25
Well, this is a great accountability. Oh, sorry. This is a great accountability place. Like you were saying like that you to have these people in our lives, who are also bosses and working on this themselves that like, you know, we can get that debrief and encouragement and check in how is it going and the stopping and the unplugging and the paying attention to the rest of it? And then how is your work benefiting when you come back to it? Like both sides?

Emily Thompson 41:50
Yeah, I want to talk about that for just a second, this idea, because we've just talked about all kinds of things you can do or bring mindfulness back to work, but what sort of real effect will it have on your work, this idea of being mindful and turning off when it's time What have you found comes from doing this not only in your life, but also in your work?

Leah Weiss 42:10
So the ability to focus our attention and return it back to the task at hand is highly trainable. I mean, this is one of the things we can get so much better at with practice. And it's enjoyable. And you know, I was I really appreciate the the point to that it's like the tuning in experience like or the bringing out the experience of flow in our work. So if we think about it from, you know, a flow state happens when there's a focus, but not overstressed. So it has to be like this right level of engagement. And so we can keep an eye on like, am I working in a sort of anxious, frantic way, which I know I can get into, or just sort of like doll and sleepy and not. But being in that middle ground between those two, we can be better at bringing ourselves into a flow state where we have better creativity, better generation, and also just better experience of it. So there, I think there's a lot of upsides to it as just doing it. Right?

Emily Thompson 43:24
I love this. I love this so much. Because flow is something that has been elusive to me as of late. And it's never been something that I could just tap into, like, I love it when creatives are like, you know, I'm just gonna go into the studio and tap into the flow and get all this shit down. And I'm like, I look at those people. Like I do like tarot card designers, or like tarot deck designers like these are like magical beings that are all over here tapping into flow whenever they want to. And I am not that person. I've gotten into it in my like, own projects here and there. But I don't know how to do it. And I think I see this as a fun challenge of like, figuring out how to get myself into it.

Kathleen Shannon 44:05
This is something that I love about you, Emily, though, is that you don't have to be in flow to make it do and maybe it's just because you don't know what you don't know. But I've always really admired your ability to kind of do that, you know, task ninja eating where you turn on your to do list and you get through it right? Right. I know but I do think that there is something to flow especially whenever you're feeling burnt out just feeling connected to your work right and yeah, we can muscle through like Leah said our to do lists any given day, but at some point it's not enough you'll find yourself not feeling fulfilled or connected or you know any of the things by your work.

Emily Thompson 44:49
Yeah, cuz you're just checking off tasks on your to do list. I love this. I'm taking that as a personal challenge right there. Thank you guys.

Leah Weiss 44:56
I want to hear how it goes. We'll make it look different for people. for different people to like, definitely, you know, some of the people I work with who are like 100 hour week, you know, finance sort of people like super type A, like they, their experience of flow is going to be really different than a more creative type or like an engineer, just like coding is like my land. I don't know. So I'm curious about that part, too, if just like, there's a personality piece to like, there's a higher, higher, like pace version for some of us who are just like, you know, it might look different than someone else.

Emily Thompson 45:36
Right. And I also like I consider for myself, the idea that my creative, my creativity has changed significantly over the past couple of years, like a couple of years ago, it was definitely encoding websites and designing them these days, or a year ago, it was writing our book it was sitting down and like tapping into or not falling into it, loves to write the book, or whatever it may be. And so I actually imagine that's probably part of my own personal problem with being able to tap into it is that I imagine there is probably a slightly different frequency for each, like each types of creative endeavors, who is going to be a bigger challenge than I thought? Thanks, guys.

Kathleen Shannon 46:19
So one of my favorite writings around flow and tapping into inspiration is Steven pressfield. Who did the War of Art. Yeah. And then I always get that mixed up with the original, it's a pot, it's a pot anyway, whatever. And then also, Liz Gilbert, who did Big Magic, I think that she also has a 20 minute TED Talk, if you can't find the time to read the book, which I think is really great. But she does a TED talk that's really interesting about this. And this idea of, you know, your genius coming to you and kind of sitting down and doing the work. And then that's whenever it arrives, like you start to sit down and do the work. And that's what's really interesting for you, Emily, is that you are always sitting down and doing the work. And so if it's not coming to you, it makes me wonder if, like, what needs to change for that to happen?

Emily Thompson 47:09
Oh, man, this is gonna long challenge. I just got myself into a mess. I think

Kathleen Shannon 47:17
I have a feeling it's bigger projects, and fewer of them would be my guess. Leah, do you have any insights? Do you have an increase?

Leah Weiss 47:25
I was just gonna say I'll be I'll be trying to build your buddies with you on that one. Emily, I have one of my teammates has really been in such a helpful way pointing out my propensity to like try to do because I'm interested in 10 different projects, and the time is just like Park nine. We'll do one then we'll do two through time. And yeah, it's but I think having these having setting up our work relationships where we have people who know us that well and and say, hey, you're picking up four more projects today, Leo, remember, we're doing a sprint on this one. You know, when I start and I'll be sneaky, except for I'm not that creative. So I'll be like, just want to know what we're thinking about blah, blah, blah, and start trying to like, go off on something we're not on show that No, no, we're

Emily Thompson 48:12
right. So you also need someone to call you on your bullshit. Gotcha. I'm gonna start a job description right now.

Kathleen Shannon 48:21
Bullshit calling. Okay, so I went to really maybe close out this conversation by talking about success and redefining success, and I think is the perfect thing to follow up a conversation of mindfulness and priorities. And I think that in this world, we're all defining success or having success defined for us with money and profit and the bottom line, and even now, all the followers and I, it just doesn't feel real anymore. And I don't know if it's my phase of life that I'm coming into. But I can't help but let go of my attachments to those definitions of success. So I'm really curious to hear from Yulia, how do you define success? And how can we really begin to retrain our conditioning by society to redefine success in a more wholehearted way for ourselves?

Leah Weiss 49:22
I have been thinking about this a lot too, for myself like, because I feel like factoring in contentment becomes such an important piece of it because there's always the ability to to go for more and have external metrics. I feel like another really helpful part that I'm trying to remind myself of is like phase of life like right now. I really wanted invest in the work I've already been investing in. And like I these little kids, you want to hang out with me in 10 years, they're not going to be that site to hang out with me. So like that might be a better time to Focus on some of these things that are, you know, still thinking in terms of prioritizing and allowing for the life factors to be you know, right now, it really is a priority to be here more than I probably don't want my business to go in the direction of like, multinational keynoting all the time, right, even though that could be a viable business option for someone else, or for me in a parallel universe. So I think that this is where the the, the purpose piece of like, what is the purpose for me right now? And what are the metrics for that and that they're like, you're saying they're more than the external the money, the followers, like, it might be my best year this year isn't, you know, going to be measured by getting whenever the goal people want is like the Saturn figure. It might be it's half of that, but a really intentional year spent with my family. And in a few years out, I want to really go for a different set of metrics. What do you think?

Kathleen Shannon 51:08
Yeah, I mean, I'm the one with a sick kid laying in my lap right now. And like, success and priorities. Sometimes I wonder if, if I've got it all wrong, right. Like, I just don't know I'm in a season in my life where I just feel like it's so unfair that our childbearing years happen to be like, our years where we can show the most potential as bosses. And I don't think that this is, I don't think it's a problem for guys as much it as for women, honestly. Um, but I am feeling like, Something's got to give, you know, when it's something that you just said, though, about having a parallel universe, I love the idea of giving my old definitions of success over to my parallel universe self, like, okay, in a parallel universe, myself would want a TV show, that maybe in the season that I'm actually at, in my real life, like, that's just not the thing that I really, truly want. And so for me, tapping into success is probably really tapping into what it is that I really, really want. Which right now, is that 10 day meditation,

Emily Thompson 52:15
right, 10 days of silence sounds. So glorious. I know. And I love what you just said about having your metrics. And what I take from that is the idea of is not about having a single metric, but about having multiple metrics that all have to work together, which I feel is kind of coming up for me is like the theme of this, of this episode. And this idea that everything is fluid, and everything works together. And it's all interwoven. And it's not just one thing that defines success, such as revenue, whatever it may be, but it's multiple things, its revenue, paired with the number of days you take off, and you know which one goes for the other one's priority, or whatever it may be. I think it's about having multiple, multiple metrics that define success. And not just in work, but in the work life blend, because there is such a blend between the two. And I think we, I don't think that we can separate them because you can, if you just use a single metric, like revenue to define your work success, that's only half success you've in therefore I think of failure in terms of as your life is shit, but your work is great than your life is shit, that sucks. So, um, I think I think metrics are the key, at least for me in terms of surprise, in terms of defining success, and it's about having multiples that, that give you insight into multiple sides of what it is that you're doing, and how it is that you're living and working to help you create the sort of holistic definition of success. That's just for you.

Kathleen Shannon 53:50
Emily, whenever you were talking about, you know, multiples, it makes me think about something I've been really considering lately, which is, there can be more than one truth at the same time. Like, it can be true that success is measured by how well I'm able to take care of my family and how many meals I'm able to get on the table, and how well fed we are. And it can also be true that my success is also defined by my bottom line, because it just is like I can't say that money doesn't matter. And oftentimes, you know, I use those metrics as a measurement of my success that is more intangible, it helps me benchmark and see and define success. I think it's really just getting caught up in somebody else's idea of how much money so this is where I always get tripped up is that I see someone else's success and feel like I should be there and realizing that that's true for them. And that's true for their success, potentially, who knows, like we also never know, but also staying true to my own definition. So for ultimately for me, it's just getting out of the comparison trap, and being able to define success on my own terms. Like for me, I can have perfectly comfortable life not having that seven figure launch, even though I want it.

Emily Thompson 55:07
Right. Yeah, I think all of that sits really well with me. Good. I like this conversation. Thanks, guys. It was a good one.

Kathleen Shannon 55:16
I know, Leah, thank you so much. This is one of those interviews that really does feel like a conversation. And it's been really fun exploring these topics with you.

Leah Weiss 55:25
Thank you so much. I've had so much fun hanging out with you both. And I feel like I'm bringing some experiments out of this conversation that I want to run to

Emily Thompson 55:36
keep us up to date folder.

Kathleen Shannon 55:38
All right, so a couple more things before you go. First off, tell us a little bit more about the book you're writing.

Leah Weiss 55:44
So the book comes out in March, and it's available for pre order now. And it's called how we work. And it's live your purpose, reclaim your sanity, and embrace the daily grind. That's the long version of the title with HarperCollins. And it's it's really about bringing together tools and research and actionable practices along the lines of the topics we've been talking about today.

Kathleen Shannon 56:19
Alright, Leah and finally what makes you feel most boss

Leah Weiss 56:24
I think having right now I'm going to go with having really good conversations with other bosses that I feel aligned with and our worldview it's the best feeling I'm loving this feeling right now.

Emily Thompson 56:39
Amen. Awesome. mean to me Do I think that and I think that this is becoming more normal. We're in conversations like this are being had and I I can only be excited about what it'll mean for how we're all working and living in the super near future. We have gotten so much amazing feedback over the years from listeners about how our podcast has helped them start to grow and uplevel their businesses. So we want to celebrate you. Here's the boss we're celebrating this week.

Unknown Speaker 57:14
Hi, my name is Tiffany Davis and I am being bossed I direct content brand strategy and events like sister at context and co this week, I'm celebrating my first day back from maternity leave. After postponing our biz left and when we were both employed full time elsewhere, we are now booked insights to be working side by side and for ourselves as we admire and adore and a shared vision kick ass and have a blast doing it in 2018

Kathleen Shannon 57:43
if you're feeling boss and when to submit your own boss moment or when go to WWW dot being boss club slash I am being boss. This episode of being boss was brought to you by fresh books cloud accounting thank you to fresh books for sponsoring us and you guys can try it for free by going to freshbooks comm slash being boss. Thank you for listening to being boss. Find Articles show notes and downloads at WWW dot being boss club. Thank you so much to our team and sponsors who make being boss possible our sound engineer and web developer Corey winter. Our editorial director and content manager Caitlin brain, our community manager and social media director Sharon lukey and are being countered David Austin, with support from braid creative and indicia biography.

Emily Thompson 58:30
Do the work. Be boss, and we'll see you next week.