During this unprecedented time of high stress and uncertainty, now more than ever before, we, as leaders, need to make a conscious decision as to how we show up each day, for ourselves and for our employees. There’s no doubt, we are faced with tremendous obstacles. But if we remain positive and true to our mission, I believe our teams will perform higher and come out of this stronger.
As a part of my series about “How To Develop Mindfulness And Serenity During Stressful Or Uncertain Times”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Lisa Druxman.
Lisa Druxman is the Chief Founding Mom of FIT4MOM, one of the nation’s leading provider of fitness programs for every stage of motherhood. She is the author of The Empowered Mama and the host of The Empowered Mama podcast. Lisa is a speaker, writer, and thought leader who is passionate about providing opportunities for women to live their dreams of becoming successful entrepreneurs.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
I think the most interesting story is probably how I started my company. You know when you hear about those lightbulb moments? That’s what I had. I was on a stroller walk with my firstborn, Jacob, and I was filled with the following thoughts…
“This is the best hour of my day. All moms should work out with their stroller.”
“I have so many questions about motherhood. Where am I going to get the answers?
“I don’t want to leave Jacob to go back to work.”
And then the lightbulb lit.
I could start a stroller fitness workout. I could help moms get outside to move their bodies and they could help me with everything I need to know about being a mom. I even named it on that walk. Stroller Strides.
And that’s what I did. I started a Stroller Strides workout in my neighborhood. I just had a handful of moms in the group but it quickly became my village. We all leaned on each other for support.
Apparently I wasn’t the only one looking for a village because the concept took off. I hired local fitness instructors to teach more classes in San Diego and it took on a life of its own. I didn’t have to go back to my 9-to-5 career. By the end of the first year, we had 1,000 moms taking Stroller Strides classes. Within just a few months, we started getting calls from around the country; women were looking to join or start Stroller Strides. I didn’t know how I was going to do it but I knew that I wanted all moms to get the support and strength we got from these classes. And I loved the idea of giving other women the career opportunity that I had in running Stroller Strides. So we decided to franchise the business and the rest is history.
What advice would you give to other leaders about how to create a fantastic work culture?
People won’t be excited about coming to work to make your dreams come true. Find out their dreams. Tie into how the impact of your work is in synergy with their values. We spend more time at work than with our families. Create a culture of CARE (Connection, Appreciation, Recognition, and Encouragement).
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
Oh, there are so many. One of my favorites is the Power of Positive Leadership by Jon Gordon. He states, “Being a positive leader is not just a nice way to lead. It’s the way to lead if you want to build a great culture, unite your organization in the face of adversity, develop a connected and committed team, and achieve excellence and superior results.”
His words deeply resonate with me. During this unprecedented time of high stress and uncertainty, now more than ever before, we, as leaders, need to make a conscious decision as to how we show up each day, for ourselves and for our employees. There’s no doubt, we are faced with tremendous obstacles. But if we remain positive and true to our mission, I believe our teams will perform higher and come out of this stronger.
Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. From your experience or research, how would you define and describe the state of being mindful?
My team describes me as an idea monkey and I clinically have ADD so mindfulness has been a tool to make me a better leader. For me, it’s being purposefully present in whatever I am doing. The brain is never quiet and you will never have one solitary thought. But the practices help you achieve greater focus, greater peace and even productivity.
This might be intuitive to you, but it will be instructive to spell this out. Can you share with our readers a few of the physical, mental, and emotional benefits of becoming mindful?
Before I made this a part of my daily life, I lived in overwhelm. I felt scattered and distracted. I forgot really important things. Now, I feel clear. I feel focused. I can bring a sense of calm to myself.
Ok. Here is the main question of our discussion. The past 5 years have been filled with upheaval and political uncertainty. Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have only heightened a sense of uncertainty, anxiety, fear, and loneliness. From your experience or research what are five steps that each of us can take to develop mindfulness and serenity during such uncertain times? Can you please share a story or example for each.
In these uncertain times, it is even more critical to adopt a regular mindfulness practice. Meditation and regular mindfulness practice has been proven to physically rebuild our brains — and thus improve our lives. When you stress, it decreases your willpower to be present in life. Stress puts your brain in the fight or flight response. Basically, you’re just in fight or flight…every single day. Your brain cannot make wise, willpower kinds of decisions when it’s in this mode. When we practice mindfulness and meditation, we are less emotional, don’t get triggered as easily by things we cannot control.
- Start with a morning ritual. Wake up at least 30 minutes earlier so you have some time for yourself. My morning ritual has changed over the years depending on stage of motherhood. I used to only have 10 minutes and it had to be good enough. Now, my morning ritual is almost two hours. I don’t love waking up early but it is the best part of my day. Without a doubt, I am astounded at how poorly my day goes when I miss this grounding ritual. It sets the tone for my day. I’ll describe in the following what I do for my morning ritual but you can create your own. Ideally, it’s something that clears your mind, grounds you into the energy you want for your day and helps you grow.
- The first part of my ritual is journaling. I have been journaling for decades. The format changes but essentially I first just do a brain dump. What’s on my mind? What’s going on in my world? Get it out of my head. I then go through a series of questions. What am I grateful for? What did I learn yesterday? What will I do today to move me towards my goals?
- I move from journaling to a meditation spot. It can be anywhere in your home that feels quiet. I have a spot set aside for this though so my brain can easily slip into knowing that this is my place to let go. I start with releasing things I don’t want in my life such as judging, complaining, negativity, or illness. I then sit and visualize the day I want to have. I picture the exercise, the food I will eat and how I will move through my day. Then I meditate. There are so many wonderful apps out there if you don’t know how to meditate. I love Insight Timer, Headspace, Calm to name a few. Most of the time, I don’t do a guided one per se but just play some music and set a timer.
- Later in the day, I bring mindfulness in through breaks. I used to work pedal to the metal all day long until I just collapsed at the end of the day. Now, I work in timed blocks and make myself take short breaks where I get up from my desk and go get a snack or ideally go get some fresh air. It’s a wonderful way to get myself out of a state of stress and into a state of being. Getting into nature each day is a very important part of my mindfulness practice.
- And finally, I come back to breathe throughout the day. Yes, I know that we breathe all day long. But sporadically throughout the day, I do a variety of breathing exercises. With just a few breaths, I can get myself out of a state of flight or fight and bring a sense of serenity over my body.
From your experience or research what are five steps that each of us can take to effectively offer support to those around us who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?
- Get them out of their physical space. Sometimes we just need to change our surroundings. New room, new place, nature.
- Get them moving. Invite them to go on a hike, a walk or to a (virtual) workout. Physical exercise is one of the best ways we can relieve stress.
- Get them breathing. It can be quite simple. Just be aware of your breath. Now extend it. Gently rest around the held breath. Release. Now slow your breathing down. Rest around the held breath. Rest around the release. That’s it.
- Hug (virtuals are okay too!). Hugging can release anxiety and stress. While many of us are under shelter and place orders, we may not be able to hug all our loved ones. If you have loved ones in your household or even a pet, hug them if it’s safe to do so. It helps you feel connected and less lonely. It releases oxytocin. If you are alone, schedule a Zoom call with family members to feel less alone and give a virtual hug.
- Look them in the eyes. This may seem totally awkward but sit face to face (or make eye contact through Facetime) and look someone in their eyes. Go deep. Hold it even when it’s uncomfortable. Sometimes we just need to be seen.
What are the best resources you would suggest for someone to learn how to be more mindful and serene in their everyday life?
Check out apps like insight time, headspace and Calm
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
My favorite quote is from Katherine Center “ Every single minute of every single day, you are writing the story of your only life”. Years back, I didn’t like how I was living. I was tired of living in overwhelm and chaos. I realized that it was like that because of me. It was up to me to design a life I loved to live. Every single day.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
Almost everyone I meet says they are overwhelmed. They feel out of balance and like they never have time for what’s important to them. I say that you should design every day to do something that brings you joy. It can be small. But don’t just live for weekends or for vacations. You will never get this day back. Find the joy in living.
What is the best way our readers can follow you online?
@lisadruxman on Facebook, Instagram. My company is FIT4MOM www.fit4mom.com
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!