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Debra Sunderland, Dr. Craig Beach, & Stephanie Robinson Of Work Your Purpose: Why You Need To Take Radical Responsibility

An Interview With Sara Connell

… Each day, notice what you’re creating for yourself inside. Meaning, what thoughts are you having that you continue to ruminate on that are bringing frustration, anger, fear, anxiety, joy, creative energy, sadness, etc.? Notice how you behave when you have certain beliefs about your partner, your child, your business, your day. How are you unconsciously creating what you want or don’t want? Are you owning the results you have in every area of your life and work? Do you look at the world as for you and for your learning? Do you notice how your defenses rises in certain areas of your life — when you have the thought that you should be getting a different answer, or someone should be doing something that they’re not, or that you are not being heard, etc.? The world may seem against you in that moment. Just wonder. Accept yourself without judgment that you are right where you need to be. Noticing is the most important step and the game changer.

The first step to radical responsibility is to see yourself and know yourself. How are you really reacting inside to what’s outside of you? What are you truly believing? To take radical responsibility is to know that you are responsible for your thoughts that, in turn, bring your feelings and then your behaviors. No one can change this for you. You are responsible 100%. To embrace your life and know you are like no other — a gift- and to learn about who you are, who you want to become, and what is here for you to do is radical, conscious leadership.

We had the pleasure to interview Debra Sunderland, Dr. Craig Beach, & Stephanie Robinson.

Debra Sunderland. Founder & CEO Sunderland Coaching, Cofounder, Work Your Purpose. Debra’s genius is creating a clear vision for CEO’s and their teams — making that vision a reality. With decades of C-level executive and team coaching, Debra challenges leaders by inviting them to create a collaborative, vibrant, responsible, and purpose-driven culture, which fosters productivity and results. She specializes in awakening leaders to move them into sustainable excellence and self-awareness. Debra’s clients and their companies become the model of transformation, no matter where they are on their journey.

Dr. Craig Beach, Founder & CEO Open Mind Health, Cofounder Work Your Purpose. Dr. Craig Beach is an inspiring leader, tireless mental health advocate, educator, author, and mentor. He is a psychiatrist, strategist, healthcare consultant, and was previously the Psychiatrist Lead, PTSD Program for a Workers’ Compensation Board. From depression and anxiety to trauma and personality challenges, Dr. Beach promotes best practices and innovative mind-body-spirit treatment approaches to bring positive change to those who are stuck or struggling. He is a purpose-driven champion for individuals, teams, and organizations — helping them overcome unconscious biases, limiting beliefs and behaviors in order to be their authentic selves and reach their full potential. Dr. Beach elevates our understanding of ourselves and others to expand the possibilities for a brighter future.

Stephanie Robinson, Chief Operating Officer Open Mind Health, Cofounder Work Your Purpose. Stephanie Robinson is a change agent who propels individuals, teams, and organizations to surpass their expectations and thrive. As a strategic systems and culture transformationist, consultant, educator, and author, she guides insight and self-awareness to create positivity, productivity, and purpose. Stephanie is currently a leader as Open Mind Health’s Chief Operating Officer and a skilled psychotherapist and executive coach. Visionary, results-driven, compassionate, and insightful — Stephanie is a force of growth and wellbeing.

Thank you so much for your time! I know that you are a very busy person. Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

The Genius in Collaborating

The global pandemic has caused an overwhelming need for humanity to recalibrate and find new meaning and purpose. In addition, it has created a mental health crisis impacting individuals, workforces, leaders, teams, and organizations. Workforce productivity has dropped: 52% of all workers feel burned out; employees of all ages suffer from stress, fatigue, isolation, and depression; and of course, there is “The Great Resignation” (aka “The Great Realization, “The Great Recalibration”).​

Sunderland Coaching and Open Mind Health have joined forces to help build thriving workplace cultures that are purpose-driven, positive, and productive. These cultures value authenticity, connection, team building, and creativity — cultures of abundance versus scarcity. By combining our holistic expertise in leadership strategy, team building, and mental health, we are bridging gaps to healthier workplace cultures and overall wellbeing.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?

Stephanie: My first, but not last, big mistake was sending an email with instructions in all capital letters. I had not given any prior verbal instructions because I was leaving before the evening staff started. My thinking was capital letters would emphasize what needed to be done. Instead, nothing got done. The person was left thinking for hours worried about why I was so mad at him and screaming at him. He felt completely unmotivated and, had he not confronted me in person about the situation, he probably would have quit. We laughed about it after when I told him I was actually trying to be clear and helpful. Intention does not always match the ultimate impact is what I learned, and taking a few minutes to stay behind and verbally communicate was actually far more efficient.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

We have all been very lucky to have many positive mentors. All of them are people who pushed us outside our comfort zone. We have not always appreciated them at the time in the discomfort, but 100% of the after reflection has been humble gratitude. We take this approach as leaders. We giggle to ourselves and sometimes out loud when we tell team members that we know they will not likely appreciate this challenge as an “opportunity”. However, we hope when they reflect back that they will come to appreciate the task was given from a deep respect for what we believe they are capable of achieving. We are often in awe that the results greatly surpassed our expectations.

Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven businesses” are more successful in many areas. When your company started, what was its vision, what was its purpose?

Open Mind Health is a team of mind-body-spirit experts helping people heal and thrive in the real world today.

The vision for Work Your Purpose and Sunderland Coaching is for people to break free of overachieving while suffering and, instead, live the life you are called to live and live your genius. In short, the purpose is to get to your purpose!

Thank you for all that. Let’s now turn to the main focus of our discussion. Can you share with our readers a story from your own experience about how you lead your team during uncertain or difficult times?

Stephanie: Oh yes! My team was assembled at a large board room on the day the Covid restrictions where announced. We are a community outreach team for people with severe mental illness. I was tasked with trying to keep the staff and patients safe — not just from Covid infection but also to ensure that the service continues in some capacity to prevent the clients from needing hospitalization for mental health concerns. A key to my leadership style was flexibility. I model that for my team and expect that from them. I looked at their scared faces and took a deep breath to calm my own anxiety and said confidently: “the show MUST go on! We ARE flexible. We were made for times like this! Now please go home and review your case files and make a plan that addresses the clients in the highest need of care — and check in with the rest to offer your reassurance that we will all get through this!”

Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the motivation to continue through your challenges? What sustains your drive?

Yes, we considered giving up when we started our businesses and cash flow was tight. We derived motivation from our work being aligned with our purpose — it’s our calling. Seeing other people wake up to their life is incredibly inspiring. All three of us have significant past trauma and adversity which has helped us to develop the psychological resilience — also known as life’s armor — to keep going and move forward.

I’m an author and I believe that books have the power to change lives. Do you have a book in your life that impacted you and inspired you to be an effective leader? Can you share a story?

The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership: A New Paradigm for Sustainable Success by Jim Dethmer, Diana Chapman, and Kaley Warner Klemp

What would you say is the most critical role of a leader during challenging times?

To not lead out of toxic fear and step into curiosity and trust.

When the future seems so uncertain, what is the best way to boost morale? What can a leader do to inspire, motivate and engage their team?

4 keys

  1. Manage your own anxiety.
  2. Have high expectations equally matched with compassion for people’s resources and ability to meet your expectations.
  3. Take risks to be vulnerable and make mistakes. but own them.
  4. Have FUN, laugh often, Sing even!

How can a leader make plans when the future is so unpredictable?

Don’t forget to breathe, make decisions from the present, and listen to your head, heart, and gut alignment for your “whole yes”.

Is there a “number one principle” that can help guide a company through the ups and downs of turbulent times?

Breathing while taking radical responsibility

Can you share 3 or 4 of the most common mistakes you have seen other businesses make during difficult times? What should one keep in mind to avoid that?

Feeling Stuck? Shift Towards Consciousness: The Top Four Thinking Traps of Over Achievers

We often become so focused on setting and achieving our goals that we neglect to ensure they are well aligned with our values — which is a critical step toward realizing our goals and achieving our ultimate success. Our brain is wired to protect us at all costs — which means we come with an automatic, negative defense system. We have an average of 70, 000 thoughts each day1 that drive us to be safe, yet this pattern keeps us from sustainable joy and achieving the results that we most want. Most of us weren’t taught to be aware of our beliefs and how they influence our feelings, behaviors, and ultimate outcomes. Neuroscience shows that over 95% of the time we operate in autopilot and are unaware2. This unconscious unawareness is the hidden barrier to realizing our purpose. Being present to the thoughts that create your reality is your only power to change! Simply put, when you’re willing to be responsible for your results, all things are possible.

Do any of these thoughts resonate: “No matter how much I achieve, it’s never enough.” “Life is a zero-sum game: someone else’s win is my loss.” “I don’t have control of the outcomes I want most in my life.” and “I can’t rest until I reach my goal.”

If so, you’re not alone… and YOU can end this thinking and suffering once and for all!

Here are four myths we commonly embrace which are huge obstacles to ultimate success:

Myth #1 — The Success Myth

The first common myth impeding our progress is “the success myth.” It involves us believing that if we achieve our desired results, we will have arrived. In reality, we never “arrive,” and this faulty linear belief leads to stress, dissatisfaction, and a lack of fulfillment. And, it’s not sustainable or true. After people try this belief on for size, they are commonly left feeling that they are not enough and don’t have enough, despite how hard they try and work. It’s equivalent to being stuck on a treadmill.

Myth #2 — The Scarcity Myth

The second myth to bust is “the scarcity myth.” This myth involves adopting beliefs like, “someone else’s win is my loss.”

The reality is that there’s no way to get to abundance from scarcity. And a scarcity mindset drastically limits opportunities. We often focus on finding one right way of doing things instead of looking at the many possibilities. We stay in a protective zone. Yet, it’s impossible to be creative when we play it too safe. People confined to a scarcity mindset automatically resort to limiting black-or-white and all-or-nothing thinking.

Myth #3 — The Externalization Myth

The third common thinking trap is “the externalization myth.” This belief presumes that your security, control, and results depend on external factors outside of your influence — like you are merely at the whim of external forces.

The truth is that you control what you want to create and become. The world, quite literally, is your oyster! Anything is possible. The only real limit is what you think is impossible.

Myth #4 — The Toxic Productivity Myth:

The final common myth that limits success is “the toxic productivity myth.” It tells us that we will achieve our desired results if we work harder and longer. Just working harder often isn’t necessarily more productive. In fact, continuing to work at something that isn’t working for you is insanity. As Albert Einstein infamously quoted, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

Below are four steps with helpful daily rituals and routines which can help you avoid getting into these mindset traps:

Step 1: Enhance your awareness of your thoughts, feelings, and environment and take radical responsibility for yourself.

  • Before you put your feet on the ground in the morning, decide how you want to feel and commit to being aware of your movement. Walk, eat, and breathe with purpose and intention.
  • Be still instead of always being busy.
  • Let go of thoughts that no longer bring you joy.
  • Feel your feelings all the way to completion, by noticing where they are in your body. Then breathe and speak them, so they release all the way through. Stop resisting, judging, and apologizing for your feelings.
  • Take full responsibility for the circumstances of your life and your physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual wellbeing. Commit to supporting others to take full responsibility for their lives VERSUS blaming others and yourself for what is wrong in the world.
  • Be curious about how you have unconsciously created what you don’t want. Notice how this is a pattern in your life. What is it giving you? What is it costing you?

Step 2: Live life aligned with your purpose

Live in appreciation, fully open to both receiving and giving appreciation VERSUS feeling entitled to “what’s mine” and resenting when it’s not acknowledged in the way you want.

  • Notice where you are shrinking and not speaking your truth and shift to practicing candor.
  • Embrace and express your full magnificence and support and inspire others to fully express their creativity and live in their zone VEERSUS holding yourself back and not realizing your full potential.
  • Dream big — listen to your heart. Who do you want to be? What are you here to do? What excites you?
  • Let go of should’s and have to’s.
  • Create a life of play, improvisation, and laughter. See all of life unfold easefully and effortlessly. Maximize your energy by honoring rest, renewal, and rhythm VERSUS seeing your life as serious and requiring hard work and struggle with play and rest as distractions from effectiveness and efficiency.
  • Do more of whatever you love doing.
  • Don’t take things so seriously.
  • When you don’t get the results you want, realize that life isn’t do or die.
  • Get into a playful state which breeds creativity, fun, joy, and abundance.

Step 3: Commit to perspective taking

See that the opposite of the story you are telling yourself is as true or truer than your original story. Recognize that you interpret the world around you and give your stories meaning VERSUS believing your stories and the meaning you give them as truth.

  • How could the opposite of what you are telling yourself be just as true or truer to help get yourself out of inner drama and into curiosity (from limited options to multiple options)?
  • Be the source of your security, control, and approval VERSUS believing they derive from outside people, circumstances, and conditions.
  • Practice being your own approval VERSUS seeking enough according to other people.
  • Offer yourself “extra love” — you’re right where you need to be!
  • Notice when you’re trying to control or are attached to an outcome in order to feel safe. It can help to hold your hands loosely, remove yourself from that attachment, and come back to the present.
  • See all people and circumstances as perfectly suited allies to help you learn the most important things for your growth VERSUS seeing other people and circumstances as impediments to getting what you most want.
  • By whom are you most triggered?
  • How is it that someone is for your teaching and growth?

Step 4: Manifest your magnificence

Realize that you have enough of everything (time, money, love, energy, space, resources) VERSUS living in a scarcity mentality and choosing to believe that there is “not enough” for you and others in the world.

  • Stay present — right here, right now. You are enough and you have enough!
  • Create win-for-all solutions (win for yourself, win for the other person, and win for the whole) for whatever issues, concerns, or opportunities life provides you VERSUS seeing life as a zero-sum game.
  • How can we create something greater together, where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts?
  • Be the resolution or solution that is needed. See what is missing in the world as an invitation to become what is required VERSUS responding to the needs of the world with apathy, resentment, doing nothing, or assigning blame.
  • It’s your responsibility to show up.
  • “Be the change you want to see in others.” — Mahatma Ghandi

In summary, in order to open your mind to all that is possible, you must change your thinking and adopt a new mindset. Only then can you break through the four common mental traps and myths to reach your goals, achieve real success, and realize your true purpose.

Here is the primary question of our discussion. Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things a business leader should do to lead effectively during uncertain and turbulent times?

Our team has found that the most essential skill of CEO’s is to optimize your team’s purpose, which is the inspiration behind our company Work Your Purpose. Organizations must be able to pivot in adapting to the demands for increased flexibility and purpose in the workplace.

These four areas can help organizations and employees work on their purpose:

1. Take radical responsibility:

Each day, notice what you’re creating for yourself inside. Meaning, what thoughts are you having that you continue to ruminate on that are bringing frustration, anger, fear, anxiety, joy, creative energy, sadness, etc.? Notice how you behave when you have certain beliefs about your partner, your child, your business, your day. How are you unconsciously creating what you want or don’t want? Are you owning the results you have in every area of your life and work? Do you look at the world as for you and for your learning? Do you notice how your defenses rises in certain areas of your life — when you have the thought that you should be getting a different answer, or someone should be doing something that they’re not, or that you are not being heard, etc.? The world may seem against you in that moment. Just wonder. Accept yourself without judgment that you are right where you need to be. Noticing is the most important step and the game changer.

The first step to radical responsibility is to see yourself and know yourself. How are you really reacting inside to what’s outside of you? What are you truly believing? To take radical responsibility is to know that you are responsible for your thoughts that, in turn, bring your feelings and then your behaviors. No one can change this for you. You are responsible 100%. To embrace your life and know you are like no other — a gift- and to learn about who you are, who you want to become, and what is here for you to do is radical, conscious leadership.

2. Curiosity:

Each day, are you willing to stop being so attached to how things have to be or how someone should be responding to you? Are you willing to let go of being right and that there is only one answer? Are you willing to look at how there might be many options and opportunities to create something greater than that to which you are already attached? Are you willing to learn from the results you have right now? You may not like the results, buta are you willing to learn how you created them? Commit to the results you have right now. Whether you like it or not it is what you have. Be kind to yourself. Hmmmm! Would you get curious to wonder and pause right now? Taking a deep breath and allow your feelings to come when you are triggered. Take two more deep breaths. Once you are not in the triggered state, would you be willing to look at how the opposite of your belief could be just as true, or even truer? Once you start to wonder, you get into curiosity and you become less attached to how things or people should be. Curiosity gives you limitless opportunities and outcomes.

3. Emotional Intelligence:

Start the day off by being willing to feel the feelings that come up in your body when you notice that you are reacting to your beliefs. Your beliefs trigger a response in your body and show up as energy in motion (emotion.) Would you be willing to own that you are the creator of your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors? Once you start to allow your emotions to pass through your body — instead of stuffing them down — you will be less triggered and make clear decisions. The work is being uncomfortable and allowing our feelings to be in our body. We were taught to ignore or push them away. And that is what is causing us to suffer and making us unhappy. We may also lack the wisdom of our emotional intelligence. Taking a pause and allowing your feelings to exit your body — which takes no more than 90 seconds — you are then able to gain much wisdom. This is how we access emotional intelligence. We are then able to think clearly when we do not hold our feelings in our body, as we are not at threat. Triggers in our body drive a defense that makes our muscles tight, our breath shorten, cortisol to run through our bodies, and our brain to go into lockdown. Once the emotion passes through our bodies, we are then able to gain our wisdom. For example, if sadness is there, it says, what is being lost, so something new can step forward? Anger says, what is no longer of service to me? Fear says, to what should I pay attention? Joy says, what wants to be celebrated here? Creative energy says, what wants to be birthed through me? These are just some of the ways a leader can be authentic with themself and model the same to their team. Being the role model of being fully human invites others to do the same, which builds a very open, connected, and trusting environment.

4. Candor: Reveal in kindness your thought that bring your feelings and then your want (held openly) is transformational. Revealing yourself when you’ve had a certain thought about someone or a situation three times or more frees you of holding on to the thought and helps you to notice your rumination. You notice how you feel when you have that thought. Also, you realize that you have a want to which you might be holding on. When we are afraid that our wants won’t be fulfilled, we behave in certain ways in reaction to guard our want. Just revealing what is going on for us helps us to see ourselves more clearly, allows the energy of holding onto that fear to dissipate, and helps others to know us more — without them having to change. Candor is about revealing. And you noticing what you’re relying on to be fulfilled and successful is leadership. This is always the inner work of a conscious leader. Building an organization that brings authenticity and individual ownership is a game changer for conscious leaders. Individual responsibility brings collaboration and very different results in meetings, teams, culture, and revenue. Practicing vulnerability with your teams allows each person to be themself and invites them to understand who they are, who they want to become, and what is theirs to do. This creates purpose in a company — a culture that people will run to and in which people want to be engaged. Building your dream team starts with you!

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”?

The most important decision we make is whether we believe we live in a friendly or hostile universe — Albert Einstein

How can our readers further follow your work?

Debra Sunderland, Dr. Craig Beach, Stephanie Robinson, Cofounders Work Your Purpose workyourpurpose.com

Debra Sunderland, Founder & CEO Sunderland Coaching sunderlandcoaching.com

Dr. Craig Beach, Founder, CEO Open Mind Health openmindhealth.com

Stephanie Robinson, Chief Operating Officer Open Mind Health openmindhealth.com

LinkedIn:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/dr-craig-beach-431599198/

Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!

References:

  1. https://www.successconsciousness.com/blog/inner-peace/how-many-thoughts-does-your-mind-think-in-one-hour/.
  2. https://www.oklahoman.com/article/5610800/strange-but-true-95-percent-of-brain-activity-is-unconscious/amp.
  3. https://conscious.is/15-commitments.
  4. https://www.anpd.org/blog/the-15-commitments-of-conscious-leadership-a-new-paradigm-for-sustainable-success.

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In-depth Interviews with Authorities in Business, Pop Culture, Wellness, Social Impact, and Tech. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

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Sara Connell

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