Ambition vs. Burnout: Finding Your Balance 

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Teresa Vozza

When did you last feel your job weighing heavily on your shoulders? Burnout is eroding our professional success and, more importantly, our physical and mental well-being. 

We discuss the harsh realities of workplace stress with distinguished executive coach Teresa Vozza. She will offer insights into the root causes of burnout and unveil strategies to balance ambition with self-care.

Key Points

  • Defining Happiness as Coherence: Happiness is characterized as a state of coherence where one’s emotions, thoughts, and values are in alignment, enhancing both personal satisfaction and professional effectiveness.
  • Awareness of Bodily Signals: Emphasizing the importance of somatic awareness, recognizing signs of stress through physical symptoms like tension or irregular breathing can aid in better stress management and prevent burnout.
  • Learning from Challenges: Severe professional challenges are discussed as opportunities for profound personal and professional growth, transforming leadership approaches and enhancing resilience.
  • Breathing as a Tool for Self-regulation: Controlled breathing techniques are highlighted not just as meditative practices but as essential tools for self-regulation, helping maintain composure and decision-making clarity in stressful situations.
  • Building Emotional Intelligence through Community: For emerging leaders, the development of emotional intelligence is crucial. Engaging in introspection, seeking mentorship, and participating in supportive communities are recommended practices to cultivate a responsive and responsible leadership style.

Learn More about Teresa here.
Join her powerful email list here. 


Happiness means different things to each of us. After doing extensive research, Management 3.0 founder Jurgen Appelo discovered a common thread: Happiness is something we create. It is not something to achieve. It is a path you choose, not a destination to arrive at.

So many of us spend our lives in pursuit of happiness. Instead of searching for it, we need to find ways to live it, embrace it, and implement it into our daily lives. That’s why we created the 12 Steps to Happiness at Management 3.0.

You can find more information and even download a free poster of the 12 steps here.



*Please note that the transcript has been automatically generated and proofread for mistakes. But remains in spoken English, and some syntax and grammar mistakes might remain.

Elisa Tuijnder: [00:00:00] When was the last time you felt your job weighing heavily on your shoulders? In high rise corridors, boardrooms, and digital workspaces, burnout is eroding our professional success, and more importantly, our physical and mental well being. This episode delves into the harsh realities of workplace stress, offering insights into the root causes of burnout, and unveiling strategies to balance ambition with self care.

We [00:00:30] navigate the winding path of work life harmony, exploring ways to repair the cracks in our professional journeys and build healthier, more fulfilling careers. Before we dive in, you are listening to the Happiness at Work podcast by Management 3point0, where we are getting serious about happiness. I’m your host, Elissa Tander.

Happiness enthusiast and Management 3point0 [00:01:00] team member. In this podcast, we share insights from industry experts, influencers, and thought leaders about what it takes to be happy, motivated, and productive at work, so that loving your job becomes the norm and not the exception. We will be publishing every fortnight on Friday, so be sure to tune in and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.

Today, we’re delighted to [00:01:30] welcome Teresa Voza to our podcast. Teresa is a distinguished executive coach, a leadership trainer, and an advocate for mindful leadership and preventing workplace burnout. At the helm of Crucible Executive Leadership and Teresa Voza Coaching, she works across industries and supports professionals through every phase of leadership.

Teresa, it’s so lovely to have you with us today. Thank you.

Teresa Vozza: Oh, thank you. It’s so great to be here.

Elisa Tuijnder: Fantastic. Hey, so we’re super eager to dive in, [00:02:00] or I’m super eager to dive into your insights. I read your article, loved it. And it was very timely for me as well, but, but first, I get that. Yeah. But first let’s kick things off with our signature question.

And that is what does happiness mean to you?

Teresa Vozza: I love this question. The word that comes to my mind is coherence. And coherence refers to a state of being where your heart and your mind and your emotions are all in sync. [00:02:30] And I love that because It’s not a Pollyanna definition of happiness where it’s about things or about accumulation or about trips and yachts and jets and, you know, well, maybe what some people would consider to be happiness.

I see it as a way of being. And I think the most coherent way of being in the world is when I am in alignment with what I’m doing and what I’m saying.

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah, the state of flow. This, uh, [00:03:00] this tends to come back, uh, it’s, oh, people always phrase it slightly differently. Um, but I sort of see that under that concept and yeah, super, super important.

Uh, and you know, the, the worldly things like yachts. I mean, once you have a yacht, Then you want a second yacht or the yacht isn’t big enough or that goalpost keeps moving. Exactly, exactly. Yeah. Hey, so before, uh, we dive into your transition from like, you know, high pressure HR roles in the insurance [00:03:30] industry, where you worked, for example, with Allianz Partners and another, a number of other well respected insurance companies.

And then you became an executive coach, but I really kind of I want to have the overview of your professional journey. Why HR? Did you kind of just deliberately chose that? Or sometimes people, HR is one of those professions people land in sometimes and then love it or hate it. Yeah.

Teresa Vozza: Such a good question.

So yeah, I did fall into HR. So [00:04:00] upon graduating university, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do, but I did know that I had a sincere interest in. And this is very broad, the helping profession. And so here I am, you know, 20 years old, 21 years old. And, uh, my first job out of university was working with kids with disabilities.

And so I was a caseworker and I worked with kids and adults with disabilities. And I happened upon another caseworker who said, She was going back to school for HR [00:04:30] and I asked her about it and she told me about, you know, the fact that we get to talk about recruiting and we get to look at talent and we get to discuss some, you know, how to solve organizational problems.

Something about that appealed to me, especially the idea of working with individuals to provide support and advice. And back then that was. A lot of what HR was seen as support and advice givers. And so I decided to apply to get my postgraduate certificate [00:05:00] in HR and I did. And then that started a 20 plus year in HR where I started as a recruiter and a coordinator at the very bottom of the rung, if you will.

And then eventually moved into management, which led to, uh, executive roles. And I spent the last 10 plus years before I left to start my own business as a vice president and then later, uh, chief HR officer managing HR at a grander scale. [00:05:30] And I guess the one thing I could say is that I think the profession of HR in its purity is, in what it’s intended to be is a fantastic profession.

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah.

Teresa Vozza: I think what is actually Happens on the ground. Yeah, what happens on the ground is a different reality. And I, and I think that’s where there’s a lot of that blurred lines and where you see a lot of HR burnout is when, you know, HR is tasked with more of the administrative [00:06:00] burden as opposed to the strategic voice that we should be having.

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah, and also I hear a lot obviously used as, as a weapon by the C suite, uh, and sort of completely the opposite of what it’s intended to do, be there for, for the employees. I do feel like, and I like asking this question to, to HR professionals, is that, What I feel like I’ve seen over my, is not a, not as extensive career, but still getting into 15 years now, is that [00:06:30] the roles also sort of more shifted towards really that culture building, like sort of the spearheads of the kind of culture or the kind of company that you want to be.

And I do really like that. It encompasses that larger and it’s getting back to the roots of it.

Teresa Vozza: Yeah, exactly. I couldn’t agree with you more. I think that is where HR has a critical role to play. I think, unfortunately, though, you know, use this word weaponized. I think it’s important to call to action or call to mind in [00:07:00] this instance that, you know, HR is not responsible for all of culture or, you know, an engaged workforce.

And I think sometimes that’s where the confusion is. It’s like HR should be creating a highly engaged workforce. HR should be there to help create the conditions. So that is the learning and development and the programs and policies, if you will, and the environment. But we can only do that in tandem with strong progressive leaders.

So big shout [00:07:30] out to my HR posse out there. But I hear you. I feel you. You, you and you. We can’t do it alone. And I think it’s important

Elisa Tuijnder: that we know there’s something with horses and water that comes to mind. .

Teresa Vozza: Yeah, , very good point. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Exactly.

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah. And, and also that this is such an important point.

I love how HR is one of those heart of the organizations that has, you know, has the ideology and is all setting these things into place and, and then can often be super disappointed with people. People [00:08:00] don’t actually, you know, take a take from it.

Teresa Vozza: Yeah, exactly. Yeah.

Elisa Tuijnder: Hey, I already mentioned it really briefly in my introduction.

You wrote us, um, this article for, for Fast Company and you send it to me. And I was immediately sort of struck because of the fact that I felt like, Oh God. I mean, not that I, I’ll let you read the introduction in a second. Not that I was ending up in, in, in, in the emergency room. Um, but I felt very akin to it and I’m sure you said you hear that a lot.

So [00:08:30] I think it would be really nice for our listeners to sort of hear that little short introduction, uh, and I’m going to ask you to read it because then it comes from, from, from your own voice.

Teresa Vozza: Sure, no problem. Okay. So this was the introduction. It starts like this. Teresa, should we call the ambulance? I blink and in blurry distortedness, I see the faces of the CEO and CMO of my company staring at me.

Soon I’m lying on a stretcher and being wheeled out to the lobby. Elevator doors open and close. The whole [00:09:00] office is staring at me, jaws agape. I feel so small and mortified.

Elisa Tuijnder: Wow, I can feel the cringe, but I can also feel I still do, I still do. You still do, you still do. Was that the moment where you thought, Oh God, I’ve taken on too much?

Or was that still the point where you were like, Okay, there’s something very physically wrong. Please tell, tell the story further, because maybe people are on the edge of their seat now. What happened there?

Teresa Vozza: [00:09:30] Um, yeah, well, at the time I thought I was having like heart problems. I was convinced, so convinced that I was having heart problems.

And so while I was in the stretcher and being wheeled off and so mortified, I was more concerned with what people were thinking of me than I was my own health condition. Um, and when I did get to the, The ER, I went through, of course, batteries of tests, which they have to do. And it was about eight hours of testing.[00:10:00]

And the diagnosis coming out of that was that I didn’t have a heart problem. I was burnt out. And they used the word depleted and I, and also that I was experiencing anxiety. So it definitely was a moment where I realized, Oh, okay, I have to start taking care of myself, but it wasn’t the precise moment where I realized that I may be overworking or burnt out.

It took me a [00:10:30] couple more instances of the same thing, not with the ambulance, but same things with heart palpitations. To finally have it be sunken that I was dealing with workaholism and that I was dealing with a inability to stop proving myself to the leaders by working all these hours and showing my loyalty and so on and so forth.

And yeah, it. It did call to attention my physical health [00:11:00] because I had been losing weight and people had mentioned that and I was pale. I was very irritable at home with my kids. So it did call to attention that something had to give. And I wish it was immediate, like right after that one incident, but it took a couple more incidents before I, I really It really sunk in that I had to do things differently.

Elisa Tuijnder: Mm. The, the reason why I said it was so funny that you sent it to me at that time is I was for the first time in, uh, [00:11:30] in, in lada, which is in the Netherlands somewhere, uh, where I had my first panic attack when I was 24 or something like that. And I’d literally had just gotten off the train station when I when I was starting and I was waiting for, for, uh, for an Uber.

And it was reading your article and. I haven’t been there since that, that like, I mean, hadn’t been there in like almost 10 years. Uh, and I was there for a meeting and I saw the steps where it first happened and I was like, Hmm, I also remember all of these things going through my [00:12:00] head. Like, no, this is not overworked.

Uh, first, obviously physically something is wrong. When I finally, almost a year later, got the confirmation, because Everything takes forever. Uh, that there was actually nothing physically wrong with me. I was still like, yeah, but this happened at a moment where I was just out of the stress period. And it was funnily enough, cause that’s when your body loses the adrenaline a little bit.

Right. So, and then I was like, still not believing it, but still kind of believing it. No. And [00:12:30] the guilt I carried for years. that I still sort of did a little less or had to do a little less. And I was like, yeah, but am I sure, am I sure this is, this is right? Because I think I can do more. I should be doing more.

I can’t be capable of more.

Teresa Vozza: Yeah, exactly. And your experience is so not unique, unfortunately. No, so many people. Yeah, it’s that feeling of like, I should be able to do this. Or that feeling of, I know what, I remember, you know, the, what was going through my mind is, [00:13:00] um, this didn’t happen to anybody else. Like, why me?

I can’t take it. I can’t hack it. They’re going to think I can’t hack it. And I was just recently promoted at the time too, so I was just overcome with thoughts of like guilt and shame and remorse and, you know, what will they think of me and I should. So that didn’t help my cause, as I’m sure it didn’t help yours.

No! I still think

Elisa Tuijnder: about it sometimes at night, like sometimes I’ll lie awake at night and I’ll be like, Oh, I could have done better there. [00:13:30]

Teresa Vozza: Yeah, I know. And the body has a mind of its own. Right? And so, we like to think, or I like to think at the time that I could control this reaction. But, you know, I think it’s Gabor Mate who has that book, The Body Keeps the Score.

It’s like, the body knows. And it will send messages to you when enough is enough.

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah, burning the candle at both ends, or another idiom coming up here.

Teresa Vozza: Yeah, exactly.

Elisa Tuijnder: [00:14:00] So you introduced a layer to it for me around your trauma rooted response as well, that I probably had considered but not really given a lot of thought, I kind of more put it in a box of, sort of, culture and expectancies from the outside world, etc.

And expectancies of myself. But I actually started examining it a little bit. So how did you come to that conclusion? And how does it work [00:14:30] in combination with your own trauma that you think this burnout, feeling that that pressure to go there, uh, was there for you?

Teresa Vozza: Well, it’s interesting because I, like yourself, like I’m sure many of your listeners and many more, we don’t like the word trauma.

Elisa Tuijnder: We’re not victims.

Teresa Vozza: Right. Exactly. It conjures up like victimhood. It conjures up, you know, Oh, like, you know, you want me to talk about my childhood? Like it conjures up [00:15:00] all these mental images and stigmas and stereotypes about what it is. But what I found is that You know, traditional ways of managing workplace stress, like putting together boundaries, or, um, going out for a run, or, you know, self, the self care movement, or practicing meditation are all helpful tools.

[00:15:30] But when push comes to shove, The reason I found, I found to be the most helpful in understanding why I had such a need to prove myself at work and why I kept saying yes to things and why I kept working so much, even past the point of exhaustion, stemmed from beliefs that I had inherited from a very young age.

And those experiences I learned live inside the body, like they’re stored. And, you know, [00:16:00] they’re stored as neural pathways, and those are the habits that we have, and so it doesn’t take one that long to figure out that the habits that you’ve created through life have been created from a very young age and just been strengthened and strengthened and strengthened.

So I looked at my trauma less from a place of victimhood and, oh, let me examine all the ways in which I was hard done by, but more from a place of what are all the messages that I’m That may have been faulty, [00:16:30] that I can now start to recreate and form new neural pathways and new habits. So when I talk about understanding trauma rooted reasons, it’s not, and I always am very careful when I share this.

It’s not about rooting into your past and, and dredging up all of the things that happened to you. That’s. For a trauma therapist to do, and I did do that work and it was very helpful work, but what I’m talking about in [00:17:00] addition to that or separate is understanding the faulty messages and patterns that were created at a young age and start to re, Think how you think, and I think that work is in the realm of what coaches do and in the realm trauma informed coach.

So I understand the role of both. Um, I think that can be extremely helpful and make the art of creating boundaries or setting limits or negotiating through conflict much [00:17:30] easier because it’s coming from a, a deeper well. As opposed to like a band aid, like whenever I tried to put a, uh, issue, a boundary when I was in my early leadership years, I can never do it.

And if I did, it came out so inauthentic because I didn’t believe what I was saying, but when I started to understand the worthiness. of why these boundaries are there to begin with, they became a lot easier to, to state and [00:18:00] assert because I actually believe them.

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah, absolutely. And I really hear what you say, like, you know, you can do as many mindfulness exercises and as many yoga and if they’re bandages at that point as well, and they’re very useful.

They’re very helpful. Um, But as with everything with coaching and as with everything, with anything sort of actually, awareness is the start of everything. Listening to yourself. I mean, that’s actually what [00:18:30] awareness is, right? Listening and understanding the person in front of you, but also yourself and where that comes from.

Teresa Vozza: Yeah, exactly.

Elisa Tuijnder: Can you make it a little bit more explicit for me, so a bit more tangible. So, I mean, it sounds, it’s a very big thing, right? I, I do things that I don’t know that I’m doing. Um, how, how do I leave my boundaries? How do I, how, how do you work with people around this? Can we try and make it a little more tangible?

Teresa Vozza: Yeah, I think the [00:19:00] best way to make it tangible is, um, almost like, Do’s and don’ts, right? So what I like to say is, um, I’m a big believer in the power of three, right? I think that’s a communication tactic, a communication strategy. The human brain can only remember three things. So I try to work in threes.

Um, and so I think that for, um, For those who are very new to this or are even just curious and you know, not willing to dip into full trauma Awareness at work is [00:19:30] just these three do’s so one would be like do become very practiced at naming your feelings and emotions Number one. So that looks like, um, just, you know, starting to understand the vocabulary of what, what your experience is beyond mad, happy, sad, and glad, right?

Like trying to go beyond that, right? I think that’s really important. I think the other, the next thing is do start to pay attention to the body. And what I mean by [00:20:00] that is do start to recognize sensation, Uh, tightness, constriction, tension, because those are clues. Those are clues to a psychological stress, but also to physical stress.

So do start paying attention, log it, just become aware of it. And I think the third thing I would say is, um, Do not do it alone. So do introspect, do reflect [00:20:30] on what’s the emotion, what’s the sensation that I’m experiencing, and pick one person, one situation, one circumstance, and start to Pause and reflect and ask yourself what is a more productive way of responding in this situation and that could be very simple, very basic.

I often work with clients like very, very simply and starting with just noticing. Naming and responding. And that’s a [00:21:00] great way to kind of introduce yourself to the, the type of leadership that’s more whole body leadership versus just cognitive head leadership.

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah. So those are the, yeah, absolutely. So those are, because I, I was also thinking, I, I do this myself and I noticed how, how impactful these things were, how, how bad these things are for your body.

I went through a very stressful period at work, but also personally some emotional stress and [00:21:30] I started breathing wrong. I completely started breathing wrong and I had to go to a physical therapist to learn how to breathe again. My diaphragm was so tight. I basically was suffocating myself. Everything had like sort of lifted.

My lungs were sort of lifted up and I had to then go to a speech therapist as well to, to learn how to undo all these mechanisms and that was probably a combination of an illness with then sort of a trauma response afterwards and physical [00:22:00] stress that then now I know immediately when I’m really stressed at work because my stomach starts hurting and I start breathing wrong and they’ve given me all these exercises.

But without that, going through that process, which was a very lengthy process, I would have never realized that. something so, you know, stress. Everyone has stress. Everyone has emotional stress. Everyone has work stress. That, that was actually constricting my breathing. That is, that is intense. That I couldn’t even fill my lungs up fully [00:22:30] anymore because I was doing something weird with my body that I no longer realized I was doing.


Teresa Vozza: so glad you brought breathing into it. Um, you know, when I work with clients, Um, one of the first things that we do in combination with what I just shared, notice naming and is breath. Um, article points to that cause I, I, HeartMath Institute. And that is such a simple, basic mechanism that we take for granted [00:23:00] when people think of breath or breathing techniques, they think of meditation, but.

HeartMath stance on it and my stance on it is that the breath is not a meditation. You can use it as a meditative practice, but it’s actually a gateway to self regulation. It’s a gateway to managing emotions in the workplace. It’s a gateway to, um, Or pausing before responding and the breath gives you a choice point.

It creates that [00:23:30] inner pause where you can discern between the next right action and so much of executive functioning, our decision making skills, our, um, our ability to reason and apply logic is hampered. When we are not breathing effectively and when we’re not coherent, when our heart and our mind and our emotions are not in sync, we’re activated.

So there’s a reason why athletes and Navy [00:24:00] SEALs and you know, they use breath. And breathing practices to sustain optimal performance because it is a method and probably the most important method to self regulating and delivering your best performance.

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah, absolutely. I don’t remember what it is called, the specific breath, but the one, I have an app for it now as well, where your heart and your emotions and sort of everything starts syncing.

Is that the exact [00:24:30] name?

Teresa Vozza: Yeah.

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah, exactly. And I mean, every time, what does it take, six minutes as well? And I start, I start out, I start out being like, Super. And I, I, I’m one of those people who loves to run, run, run, run, run as well. And I really have to force myself to go and like, okay, let’s do this now because I can feel I’m completely out of sync.

I’m completely sort of losing all of my emotions are going everywhere. And just those six minutes. On that stupid little app, the stupid little bubble that goes up, [00:25:00] across and down. It does so much. Yeah, it does so much. And again, it took me a long time to realize that, that these things are going on. And now I also realize sometimes that I hold my breath when I’m.

Yeah. Stress or when I’m, when somebody is talking in a meeting and I’m, I’m not agreeing or and I don’t want to show emotion, but I’ll not breathe or something like that. But it’s taken me quite some time. How do you reach that point of sort of awareness around these stress signals? Is that just kind of diarying, [00:25:30] journaling, sorry, or something, what’s the first step there?

Teresa Vozza: Yeah. Well, I, I. I think first of all, it’s by demonstration. So when I work with clients, whether it’s in my group coaching program or one to one, we will do it together. So I’ll help them get in touch with somatic awareness. So we’ll look at things like pressure. Where do we feel tension or pressure? We’ll look at things like, you know, temperature and sensation and mood.

And so we start to bring [00:26:00] an awareness, like a somatic awareness.

Elisa Tuijnder: Your personal dashboard.

Teresa Vozza: Yeah, so that they understand what they’re looking for, and at least in the time that we’re together, they have a language for it. They have an understanding of it. And then what I’ll say sometimes is, you know, just throughout the day, um, just start to notice tightness.

So I’ll start with things like, I, for one, um, notice a lot that my shoulders will hunch, or that my my tummy will get really really [00:26:30] constricted but the other one that I think is so easy for most of my clients is their face because they’ll feel like the furrowed brow or like the tension in the face and even just starting to like Soften that starts to invite a new energy to a conversation or to a room.

So I’ll give them teeny tiny, you know, experiments to say, okay, right after our call in your next meeting, just practice, you know, removing the tension from the eyes, see what [00:27:00] happens. And then I’ll, you know, maybe we’ll move into like, you know, the stomach, like, see what happens when you let the tummy go.

You know, as women were always taught to like, you know, holding our tummy, like, you know, just to show those six pack or whatever. And it’s actually not how we’re supposed to be, you know, standing. We’re supposed to be very soft and, um, relaxed. So even just starting to provide the psycho education around the effects of, of somatic awareness, and then practicing in [00:27:30] really small ways, both in session and then outside of session starts to create a sense of body knowledge and body awareness.

And it really helps because they’re able to catch those micro stresses that happen on a daily basis, like the irritating conversation or the barista who got you the wrong order or the colleague who, you know, said something really snarky. They’re able to catch it [00:28:00] and use their body to relax in the moment.

It’s a very big part of preventing burnout, but also fostering like a sense of, of safety at work.

Elisa Tuijnder: Absolutely. I sometimes also see it as almost archiving your emotions correctly. Yeah, I have this vision, vision in my head that I like, okay, I’m, I’m taking it in and I’m putting it in the right, the right drawer instead of leaving it on my desk.

That’s sort of the mental, mental image that [00:28:30] I, that I try and do for myself there.

Teresa Vozza: Yeah, I love that.

Elisa Tuijnder: How many aha moments have you experienced just now listening to this episode? Or maybe I said something you wholeheartedly disagree with? In any case, you want to change the world of work. So why let conversation and inspiration stop at your earbuds?

Join us for our brand new live podcast. podcast recordings. [00:29:00] Each month, we’ll dive into those workplace issues, keeping you up at night with top experts, sharing fresh insights. Afterwards, we’ll keep the energy going with a friendly after hours chat. Think small group discussions, co creating an action plan, and connecting with fellow listeners and people who just get it.

This is your chance to turn those podcast sparks into action, relax, and create the world of work you want. Sign up is free and can be done on our [00:29:30] Management 3point0 LinkedIn page. We can’t wait to see it.

You also really advocate for, you know, recognizing and accepting one’s emotional responses in the workplace. Is that true? these responses, the emotions that you feel, um, with a colleague being snarky, etc. Or is that even wider? Is that sort of towards the outside world also expecting or accepting these?

Teresa Vozza: Yeah, maybe the best way to put it is I like to look at it as a [00:30:00] friendliness. Like, just start to develop a friendly attention. So a friendly attention to other people and their reactions, but also a friendliness towards yourself. When I talk about not becoming enmeshed or like over identified with emotions, I think a key piece to that is to become friendly to them.

And that also means that we don’t assume that the other has a bad intent. And we [00:30:30] don’t assume that we should be responding in a certain way, like the shoulds that come in. We assume friendly intent. So to make this a bit more tangible, I’ll say sometimes to clients, like they’ll bring out like a really challenging colleague or a challenging situation at work, and I’ll ask them, what would happen if you assumed friendly intent?

What happens when you, um, make up your mind that the other person is not the bad other, [00:31:00] um, but is coming from their own context, their own understanding, their own story. And what happens oftentimes is that again, what happens as the first layer is a softening within themselves. They start to soften. They may not be all the way there yet because that takes time, but even just that softening of the stance, creates a much more positive outcome in the meeting or in the conversation.

And again, probably have to tweak and probably have to keep practicing it. But you know, I’ve also had clients that just [00:31:30] said it’s changed everything. But I think that’s a really important piece is like assume friendly intent of your emotions. So stop the shoulds. I should feel this way, blah, blah. They’re doing this to me.

And also seem friendly intent of the other. And that also includes their reactions, their emotions. And that starts to even the playing ground. It’s less, you’re wrong, I’m right, or I’m wrong and you’re right. And it’s more just an even playing ground, a neutrality, [00:32:00] which I think is much easier to resolve conflict from, than from a, you know, a bad other stance.

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, that’s really sort of the start of emotional intelligence and the start of communication styles and, and, uh, starting with the trust and the, and then friendly neutrality is super important. And I must say it’s sometimes easier said than done. I really try and practice it myself and it really helps.

In certain cases. And in other cases, it’s like, [00:32:30] whoa, trying here, but this is really hard.

Teresa Vozza: Well, and you know, with that too, I think that’s an important point you made is like that too, should be looked at with friendliness. It’s like, okay, I’m not there yet. It’s I’m still feeling tight. I’m still feeling constricted.

And so sometimes I’ll just work with like increments. Okay, let’s just work on 10 percent more or 1%, 10 percent softer, just possibilities. And the body is, I think, a good way to get there because that’s [00:33:00] something you can focus on that’s present focused. Whereas so much of conflict is either past. or future.

And so the somatic awareness brings us back to the present.

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah. But my, um, for me, this is also the, my therapist used to always say, she didn’t say it purposely, but she wove it in everything, like hold yourself with kindness. And somehow this has become a mantra in my life. But anything, when anything sort of, when I’m being really strict on myself, I’m just like, [00:33:30] okay, I’m holding myself with kindness.

I, I, I’m trying to practice what I would do for anyone else. And, and, and not be as, as strict on myself, because I think that’s sort of, I think it’s almost harder, uh, at least for certain people to, to deal with that inner critic and that those feelings of guilt and those feelings of. of fearfulness, of repercussions, or, or anything, or, or not being enough, or, you know, the imposter syndrome, all of those things can kind of sort of come on [00:34:00] under that, then, then assuming that the other actually didn’t mean harm to you, um, so, I mean, you’ve given us beautiful, some practical, beautiful steps, but so it’s somebody who really struggles with this, like this inner critic is so loud, where do you start there?

It’s tough.

Teresa Vozza: Yeah, and I think what’s important to know about the inner critic is that we all have one. Right. And number one, it like, it makes us feel less alone. It’s like, this isn’t just you, like all of us have that like chirping voice on the shoulder [00:34:30] that tells us what we should do or could do or should have done or whatever it might be.

So I think one is just understanding that, um, everyone has one. And sometimes what I like to do is, you know, start with like, um, inner critic to inner coach. And so. You know, and this, I don’t think this is new. I think this is something that’s been talked about before as well. But, um, it start to really just get on paper.

What are those messages? Cause [00:35:00] so often people don’t say them out loud. They just think them. So you have to name it. So what is that inner critic telling you? Let’s start cataloging and I’ll just get people to throw them all out there. Right. Then we just start to get really curious. Okay. Well, I’m really curious about this one, which is the voice or the critical, you know, comment that tends to trip you up the most, which one is it?

And sometimes we go there first, but if it’s too Targeted will go to something a bit [00:35:30] easier, but we’ll look at the ones that are the most troublesome and then what will happen is once we’ve identified, you know, what’s the belief? How’s it tripping you up? How does it show up in your life, both personally and professionally?

What would be different if you didn’t have this inner critic? Then we start to very consistently, systematically work on an alternate belief that could be helpful in the workplace or, you know, [00:36:00] in every area of their life. And so sometimes we start just with that. Let’s create a An alternate belief that your inner coach would say to you instead.

And most people know deep down that that inner critic is wrong. Most of us have a sense that they’re probably not right, but we’re so used to hearing it. That it feels like truth, and so we start to just start to play with what if it’s not true? If it’s not true, [00:36:30] what would be the other belief? Now let’s write that down, make it big, make it visual and go into your next meeting and have that be your Just try it on and we start to create a new self image.

We start to create a self image made up of new beliefs. And that’s all cognitive at first, but the embodiment piece, the way it becomes real is in the practice in situations. So now go into that meeting. And practice the [00:37:00] belief that you are powerful and confident. Practice the belief that you are smart and capable.

Just practice it. Just try it on. Not fake it till you make it. But just deep down we know that there’s an intelligence there. So just use it. Put that to the forefront and then report back. And then we just keep going. And the thing about introspection and coaching work is that the way it gets sticky is consistent, repeated action.

It’s not one and done. It’s [00:37:30] not, it’s like, it’s a

Elisa Tuijnder: long time. You have to do it.

Teresa Vozza: Yeah. I work with clients over, you know, six months, one month, I have clients that I’ve had for three, four years and it’s through the practice and repetition that they’ve embodied a new way of leading. So, get all the inner critic feelings on the table.

Let’s pick one that’s really troublesome. Let’s create a new productive belief. Let’s go and practice it in the workplace. Let’s report back. It’s kind of like a [00:38:00] systematic approach that we take one at a time.

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah. This inner critic is, is, is, is. is a complicated one. I sometimes, like you said, I am more than intelligent enough to know that some of these inner critic voices are just silly and I don’t, it’s almost a self fulfilling prophecy or somehow a self harm thing because I know they’re not true, yet some part of me just keeps repeating them to myself.

And even on a cognitive level, I know they’re not true. It’s some kind of a little sick to beat myself with. And then on the other hand, I’m also [00:38:30] sort of Because mostly the advice is sort of Acknowledge it, know it’s there, put it away, put it in a box. Um, but then with other feelings, like say, for example, jealousy or whatever, sometimes you get the advice or from other coaches I’ve hear often is reframe it.

Right. Why are we jealous? Is it, are you jealous because this person is going on holiday? Does that mean you need to look at your time, your time allocation, for example. So sort of reframing, reframing things. [00:39:00] And then I kind of wonder whether there’s blurred lines there as well. So should I take this inner critic and should I also reframe this sometimes?

Although I don’t really, I’ve not gotten to a point where I’ve been able to do that successfully or, or, or productively. Let’s just say it like that.

Teresa Vozza: Yeah. Well, I think the biggest thing is like, um, you know, what can you learn from it? Oh, I’m jealous. That’s really interesting. I wonder what jealousy is trying to show me.

And so then it becomes almost like this. Friendship. It’s like, Oh, here, [00:39:30] here’s jealousy. Oh, here’s envy. Oh, here’s, you know, anger or here’s, and instead of like, Oh, let’s start to reframe. And, and again, I think reframing is a powerful technique and there’s a reason why coaches use it, but I think there’s also power in just being really curious about it and being like, huh.

Jealousy. I wonder what you have to share with me. So it almost becomes like it’s less combative and it’s more like conciliatory. It’s like very much just a friendship. Oh, you know, envy’s [00:40:00] showing up. I wonder, I wonder what’s coming up for me. I wonder what I, what it is I really want. So it’s less about the object of our jealousy.

And more about the messenger, like what it’s evoking inside of us. And so that’s part of what I mean when I say take accountability for your own emotions is like, see it as messengers and teachers and guides, and then it’s less of a confrontation and more of a curiosity and wonder, [00:40:30] which it’s like, oh, I’m, I’m about to learn something new that I want or don’t want.

I’m gonna get curious about this. Yeah. And it’s then more productive.

Elisa Tuijnder: Absolutely. Yeah. And sometimes I feel like I also overthink these things. They’re not a computer system, right? They’re like, you know, they’re, they’re tools to help you kind of deal with certain things. They don’t necessarily always go the right way or they don’t always have to go one plus one is two.

Um, they’re, they’re just conversation starters with yourself, I guess.

Teresa Vozza: [00:41:00] Yeah. Conversation starters with yourself. Like if we looked at every. Quote unquote, and I don’t believe there’s negative emotions, I think they’re just instructive emotions. And as a conversation starter, like I was, and I literally will always do that.

Hmm, wonder what I have to hear here, right? And maybe it’s nothing, maybe it’s fleeting and it just goes away and sometimes it can be very instructive. But that creates like a dialogue with oneself that, um, can be very helpful. I think so, totally.

Elisa Tuijnder: We’ve been talking a lot [00:41:30] about us and about how we as individuals can kind of create those spaces for ourselves and have those dialogues with ourselves.

But a lot of the time, I think a lot of emerging leaders or leaders or in any kind of spaces, um, are listening to the podcast. So, um, I I’d like to ask I want to ask you, what can leaders do in the work environment to sort of create these spaces? I know that people are obviously, you know, have these conversations with themselves, but we as leaders, we as managers could [00:42:00] help in creating those spaces for that as well.

Teresa Vozza: Yeah. You know, I have a real soft spot for emerging leaders precisely because I wish there was so many things I wish I knew, um, when I was an emerging leader. Um, but I do think that there’s three things. I’m going to use the number three again. There’s three things that emerging leaders can do as they embark upon this journey.

And one is like, do ask a lot of questions. And yes, for sure, ask a lot of questions [00:42:30] about your role and expectations and so on and so forth. But also do ask yourself a lot of questions. Do set for yourself Um, a vision and a mission of how you want to be as a leader and how you want to conduct yourself and how you want to lead others.

So do ask questions of both yourself and others and of your, you know, boss and so on. So do ask a lot of questions. [00:43:00] Do practice the art of pausing. I can’t say enough about this. So much about leadership is is the practice of pausing before responding. So as challenges come up, whether that’s with teams or with companies or with clients, practice the art of pausing and checking in.

What is most important here for the client and for myself? So do pause. Practice pausing. Do show the art of [00:43:30] pausing with your team as well. Um, that creates a practice of calm, rational leadership, which I think is very, very, um, important in this volatile organizational landscape. Do introspect, like do reflect, like do seek out a, a mentor or a coach or, um, anyone that can give you a unbiased lens through which you can see [00:44:00] your, the world, but also see your leadership as well as your

Elisa Tuijnder: own biases, right?

Unbiased lens. I was just, that shows your biases.

Teresa Vozza: Yeah, I put out a post today actually on LinkedIn and, and, you know, leadership is not meant to be done alone. And so my big thing for emerging leaders is like, do seek out community, like do seek it out, whether it be a coaching community or a mentoring community or a leadership community, but.

You know, so many leaders, I still see this, are trying to figure it out [00:44:30] themselves. And because they have no one to go to, what they do is they use colleagues as venting places to like complain about the company, or complain about the team, or complain about their boss. And that is not going to be helpful.

That’s not going to lead to happiness at work. So instead, create a container of like professionals, like minded professionals, or coaching circles, or mentorship circles, and get outside. And bring real business problems to the table and get [00:45:00] people around you to help you. So I’d say those would be the big things, like do ask a lot of questions of yourself and the team.

Do pause before responding and get really practiced at silence and understanding the perspective of the other. And three, do build community and make introspection, which communities can provide. a part of your leadership journey.

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah, I think those, um, Oh, sometimes they’re called business guilds [00:45:30] and these kinds of things they, um, they should talk.

We, we started with HR that’s, that should sort of be standard into the development package or something. Um, a network that is outside of your, near remit, or as I said, not near remit, you’re, you’re, you’re in circle immediately. Uh, and, and there should be some rules and guidelines around this as well, but like, there is so many good communities out there and they’re incredibly helpful.

Um, and I’ve learned from communities I’ve been involved with, I’ve learned so much, [00:46:00] um, because just that’s so invaluable having, bringing a business problem that you’re struggling with and then having people kind of help you with it or seeing it slightly differently or, or all of these things. It’s invaluable.

Teresa Vozza: Yeah.

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. To all the HRs listening, good tip, good tip. Um, I’ve been really running out of time, but it’s super interesting. And I, I kind of really still want to ask you this question around, um, you started something that’s called Crucible Program for Women, [00:46:30] uh, and I have to ask you about it.

So what is it? Why, why did you, why did you make it? What inspired it?

Teresa Vozza: Well, thank you for asking that. Yeah, it’s, um, it means a lot to me. So Crucible is my group coaching program for strictly women leaders. And the reason I called it Crucible, it’s also the name of my, of my company, is that when you look at the definition of a Crucible, it’s when different parts or elements interact or come together, or, um, um, situations of [00:47:00] severe trials through which you come out transformed and I equate that to my experience having been burnt out and having completely transformed my leadership after that severe trial.

I have now created a community of women that come together at all stages of leadership to Learn how to be integrated leaders, mind, body, heart, and emotions. And it’s a very sacred community. We take [00:47:30] standard, you know, leadership principles like, you know, executive presence and negotiation and conflict, but we really wrap it up with the lens of embodiment.

So it’s more about embodied leadership, and then we, we come, we share, we teach, we provide, we insight, we have each other’s back, and then they go out in the world and they practice the principles that we, that we teach, or that I teach in, in the group. So it’s a wonderful community, and, um, it’s been, I don’t know, [00:48:00] three years.

Three years now that we’re going on. And so it was about eight or 10 women that are in the group. We like, I like to keep it at small and unique and it’s a community. It’s a community, but it’s more than that because it’s actually deeply embodied leadership principles that you get to practice and that’s where habits.

And I think. Insight is formed.

Elisa Tuijnder: Nice. Well, how about a wonderful point from the last one we just made, how important they are. Hey, as, as we wrap up, uh, we find [00:48:30] it really valuable to leave our listeners with very tangible practices and advice. And I know we’ve mentioned a lot of them already, but would you be able to distill some key pieces that you’ve shared with us today, uh, into a few actionable steps or, or pick out one that you felt is the, what the main one that people need to know.

And this podcast with, um, and, and go out in the world. Yeah.

Teresa Vozza: Um, I would say do one thing. So after listening to this podcast, I would say, just [00:49:00] choose one practice, one action. So keep it very, very doable and relatable. So for example, um, I always say to leaders and emerging leaders, get really good at accepting your own commands.

Because that’s what builds self worth and confidence. So make yourself a promise and follow it and honor it. So for some of you, that might be joining a community. For some of you, that might mean starting a morning [00:49:30] practice where all you do is you just get somatic awareness. For other people, it might be starting a log of understanding the different emotions that they experience throughout the day.

Um, for others, it might be choosing a really troublesome habit that they want to reverse and start to think of ways in which they can do that. Um, for some, it might be working with a coach or a mentor or joining a, uh, a business guild or outside. [00:50:00] Yeah, exactly. Just choose one thing. So make yourself a promise.

And keep it because that is what builds agency and conviction and expands your leadership community and your leadership presence more than anything else.

Elisa Tuijnder: Teresa, thank you so much for all this insight. It’s been super, super, super helpful. When people want to kind of get in contact with you, follow you, get into this community that you’ve sort of just explained to us, that sounds [00:50:30] very promising.

How can they find you? Where can they find you and follow you?

Teresa Vozza: The two best ways to find me are my website. So TeresaVoza. ca or. com and, or LinkedIn. I am usually pretty active on LinkedIn. I, I’m pushing out two or three different thought pieces a week, so they can also get ahold of me there.

Elisa Tuijnder: I will make sure that’s all shared in the show notes so that people can easily go and do that.

Teresa, thank you so much for this enlightening conversation. I really enjoyed it. And yeah, [00:51:00] hopefully we’ll see each other again at some point in a, different or same capacity? Who knows? Thank you. This was a lot of fun. You’ve been listening to the Happiness at Work podcast by Management 3point0, where we are getting serious about happiness.

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