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Podcast Transcript

A Culture Of Thriving

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  0:11  
Welcome to "Your Authentic Path to Powerful Leadership" with Marsha Clark. Join us on this journey where we uncover what it takes to be a powerful woman leader. Well, Marsha, these last few episodes, I've learned so much as we've done a deep dive into many of the aspects of life in organizations, especially through the lens of how the system itself influences our expectations and responses. And today we're shifting our focus a bit to explore how we, as leaders and influencers in organizations, can create and sustain a culture of thriving. And I am so intrigued by our topic and our guest today because I know has been a part of your know, love and trust circle for many years.

Marsha Clark  1:02  
That's exactly right. I'm excited about today too, Wendi, and not only because of our very special guest, but also because I think this is a really perfect bow that we can put on top of the content arc, if you will, that we've been following these past few weeks around organizational life.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  1:19  
Okay, you introduce our guest so that we can get going here.

Marsha Clark  1:22  
Well, I'd love to do that. Today our guest is Dr. Renee Moorefield. And Renee and I worked together at EDS 25 plus years ago, which in some ways seems really impossible. She and I were both a lot younger then.

Dr. Renee Moorefield  1:37  
Marsha, I left EDS I think 26 years ago and we were working together a few years before I left, so maybe over 30 years ago that we've known each other. And I agree it just feels impossible.

Marsha Clark  1:50  
Well, it does. And we did so many things there together, and you've done so many things. And we've done many things. So, there's just been a lot of stuff going around. And Renee was a really very significant part of our leadership transformation story at EDS and championed many of our initial change management best practices. And after leaving EDS, Renee moved to the Coca Cola Company and supported that organization from what I would say was a very unique position and perspective focused on organizational well being. And we've heard that term well being for a while. And you know, we're actually going to spend some time today talking about it. And I'd guess at close to three decades ago I don't know if many of the top global companies that were investing that kind of energy into wellbeing. So Renee, I've always thought of you as being a bit of a trailblazer in that arena and others. And of course, you've had your own company now Wisdom Works since 1999. And that has been focused on supporting these wellbeing initiatives, the practices, the structures and the research with companies around the world.

Dr. Renee Moorefield  3:02  
Yeah, that's right, Marsha. From day one, our purpose at Wisdom Works has been to bring the science and cultural insights about human thriving to life for the development of leaderships, teams, organizations and brands around the world. It's been really wonderful work.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  3:19  
Well, and Renee, didn't you also have something to do with the initial planning of the Power of Self program back in the early 2000's?

Dr. Renee Moorefield  3:28  
I did, Wendi. Marsha recruited LeeAnn Mallory and me to stand up a coaching element of the Power of Self program that very first program. So, we developed the protocols, we interviewed the prospective coaches, and we created that initial coaching team. It was really an incredible group of women, many of whom served as coaches for the entire duration of the program all 20 years.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  3:50  
Wow. Well, I for one, am so grateful for all of the coaching that we received as a part of the Power of Self.

Marsha Clark  3:50  
Well, and I want to add it was really an integral part of the process of taking the content and allowing each of the participants in the program to engage at a much deeper and a more personal level of learning. And the coaching helped to create more accountability and application of the concepts that we were teaching in the program. And I love Renee brings discipline and structure. She brought it to our coach selection process. And it's so much about how she does her work, and what I would describe it in a very organic way. And it was at a time when coaching was still relatively new.

Dr. Renee Moorefield  4:36  
Well, Marsha, amazingly, I still work with some of those same coaches today. I find that coaching is such a powerful path to personal and collective transformation to our effectiveness and to our wellbeing, which I know we're going to talk about today.

Marsha Clark  4:49  
Yeah, and, you know, you're still working with some of those coaches. So am I because they're so dang good. And I'm thrilled, Renee, I really mean this, that you're with us today even if it is through our zoom technology that you're in Colorado, we're in Texas.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  5:07  
Well, as we transition into today's questions for Renee, I did some sleuthing on your LinkedIn page and realized that this work around wellbeing has been a theme for you most, if not all, of your career. And I was especially curious about some of the specific work you did at the Coca Cola Company with something called the sustainability framework and which was called water, women and wellbeing. So, tell us what that's all about.

Dr. Renee Moorefield  5:41  
Wendi, that was really groundbreaking work we did with the Coca Cola Company many years ago. We helped the company think through what was called its manifesto for growth - in essence, its 2020 vision, purpose, values and priorities to guide the company's decisions and actions. It was a multi year process and an involved strategic conversations with the 150 senior most leaders in every region where the company operated. And it resulted in transforming how the company measured its success. The company began setting aspirational goals and implementing strategic efforts in the three areas that you just mentioned - water, women and wellbeing. The leaders believed that these three areas were critical to the company's ability to operate effectively and to have positive impact towards people in the planet as a path for sustainable, profitable growth. So, if you fast forward from then till today, this framework has morphed into a host of efforts from the economic empowerment of 6 million women around the world to implementing active healthy living efforts to helping replenish the water supply in countries around the globe. So, it was really significant, early work many years ago that's affected what's happening today with the company.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  7:02  
Okay, so I was really curious as to how water was going to come into play here in this and replenishing the water supply in countries around the globe, that is, I mean, water is a basic, basic need for not only women, but all of us. So, thank you for explaining that.

Marsha Clark  7:22  
Well. And I just want to say, too, you know, Coca Cola is one of the most recognized brands around the world. Coca light, if I'm in various places in Europe, and yet I can always get it. And for as long as I can recall, the word 'wellbeing' has been linked, Renee, in my mind with you. And now when I see the word 'thriving' - you know, this episode is called "A Culture of Thriving" - that seems to have emerged as more of a theme in your work. And so, when you think about these two terms, wellbeing and thriving, is there a difference between those and if so, how would you differentiate that?

Dr. Renee Moorefield  8:01  
That's a really great question, Marsha. And it's actually one that a lot of people ask. Personally, I see these words intertwined with what it means to lead. So, if you don't mind, I'll start by saying a few words about leadership itself. In my very first management role at EDS, I realized that it was my job first and foremost, to foster the conditions where people who worked on my team could thrive individually and together. This was a huge 'aha' for me, one that quite honestly I learned by getting a lot of feedback from that first team and using the feedback to help me grow up as a leader. Until that time most managers I'd worked with prior to and at EDS were kind of old school in their style. They were more interested in being in power rather than spreading power to others, being the problem solver rather than solving problems through the insights and wisdom of their teams, and getting results no matter how the pace or process of doing so affected their people. Now, this was a long time ago. So, for the most part, these leaders I think were doing kind of the best they could. They were doing as they had been taught. Yet, something about this management style didn't make sense to me personally. I felt devalued and I felt under underutilized. Today, I think what it means to lead has dramatically changed. As work and work teams have become more distributed, being a leader is about stepping into the responsibility of creating the relationships and situations where all people can thrive. This means leadership isn't necessarily a management title or role. It's an orientation that everybody can take. Everyone can be a leader, and as distributed and hybrid teams become commonplace, every person on a team needs to be accountable for contributing to a psychologically safe and well work environment for themselves and for others, work environments where people genuinely respect and care about the wellbeing, the development and the effectiveness of each other - pretty awesome teams. So, you can see how intertwined these ideas of leadership, wellbeing and thriving are for me personally. So, I'll shift more specifically to your question about wellbeing and thriving. These words are often used interchangeably. At Wisdom Works, we use the term 'thriving' most often because as we tracked the wellness and wellbeing movement over the last couple of decades, we saw the focus on wellbeing become narrowed to really a human resources issue that companies treat it as an afterthought rather than an asset. I think the pandemic certainly shifted that perspective. Many companies now realize that how people show up for work affects the results they can achieve. In fact, I once heard a phrase that I really, really like, and that is 'our well being affects our well doing'. We've also seen that the concept of wellbeing is often compartmentalized into arenas such as mental, emotional, physical, spiritual, and so forth. And there's nothing wrong with this at all. However, as human beings, we are never just one of these areas, we are all of these all at one time. We are whole systems. Our team at Wisdom Works was interested in using a word that embodied this whole system perspective. So, for us, the word 'thriving' captures the idea of wellbeing yet also a sense of upliftment and growth. And if you consider that every person is a whole living system, it's not a far leap to realize that every person, in fact, already possesses an innate capacity to thrive, to grow and to evolve. We're biologically hardwired, not just to survive and struggle, but to thrive. Thriving is a natural state of functioning for people. And it's one that we've often lost touch with. So, back to what I said about the definition of leadership, it's a fundamental orientation of an effective leader today to seek to create the situations where all people can thrive, and this includes the leaders themselves.

Marsha Clark  12:22  
And you know, Renee, I love hearing really the the backstory or the context in which you do your work. I think about all the intersections with the work that we do when you talk about creating psychologically safe working environments. We've, I've written a chapter in Book Two about that, we've talked about it on a couple of different podcasts. So, the intersection is strong there as well as leadership is not a title or a box on an org chart. It is a way of living our lives and so this orientation that you're describing. And in our line of work there is often the talk about being versus doing. So, I, too, like the phrase you just shared, 'our well being affects our well doing'. And in a world where mental health issues are so much at play and those mental health issues are impacted by the emotional, the physical, the spiritual, the struggle, the psychological, the compassion, all of those kinds of things. I can't imagine a time where this is not, has ever been as important as the times we're living in today.

Dr. Renee Moorefield  13:32  
I totally agree.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  13:33  
So, 'thriving' has become a word that I'm seeing more and more in the articles I read, the conferences I attend. From your experience, Renee, what does it mean to thrive? Specifically, what do you mean by thriving?

Dr. Renee Moorefield  13:50  
Yeah, that's a really good question. For us, thriving is about being internally well resourced to deal with the complexities and demands in your life and work with a high quality of life, competence and growth. And I say that really specifically, Wendi, because that is the definition that we use for thriving. Thriving does not mean that your life is perfect, that you're happy all the time, or that you're never stressed out. Thriving means that you feel well resourced, from the inside out to handle the stressors that are a natural part of life, and that you have the kind of positive relationship with stress that you can use it to learn and grow as a human being. So, if you think about it personally, when you're depleted due to too much stress (which many people are) or demotivated because of too little stress (which also many people are) you likely lack the energy, clear headedness, emotional balance, and bigger picture perspective to make the best decisions for your own life, your family, your team and your organization. When you feel internally well resourced, you are more likely to perform better, develop more productive relationships, operate with greater clarity, lucidity, presence, take appropriate risks and innovate and set the tone for people to work together with a sense of generativity and trust. My sense is for our organization, our societies and our personal lives, human thriving is an untapped resource, a source of power that we need to be paying a lot more attention to.

Marsha Clark  15:29  
You know, Renee, I think back to the work that my friend, Dottie Gandy, and I did and when we wrote the book, "Choose: The Role That Choice Plays in Shaping Women's Lives". And we talk about knowing the difference between self and selfish and this idea that we need to replenish to be more resourceful. And the sense of, I love the way you describe we have a positive relationship with stress so that it can help us to learn and grow and not have a negative impact on our health, or that we're depleted and we're not there for all the people we want to be there for that we love and that we want to support. So, I really do, I love the way your company is defining, describing and providing the clarity and the language around all of this. So, as you look at your work, what is it that you think supports us in thriving at work?

Dr. Renee Moorefield  16:33  
Wow, that is a question we could spend like multiple days talking about. But here are a few initial thoughts. People usually thrive at work when they feel a sense of psychological safety that we talked about earlier, a sense of respect, a sense of appreciation at work, when they are fully engaged and gain energy and wellbeing from the work they're doing and their work environment, when they feel like they're making a difference, when they have positive connections with other people and they're working toward a meaningful purpose. People thrive at work, too, when they have a sense of autonomy to make decisions within the scope of their jobs and the ability to participate as appropriate in the larger decisions that affect their team and organizations. Given the distributed nature of work in teams these days, to support thriving at work it's also important for people to thrive in their lives overall. A really, really terrific study done by Gallup in 2021, I believe, found that employees who are engaged at work - which you know, we've been working on for decades, people being engaged at work - but not thriving in life overall, (so, engaged at work but not thriving in life overall) are 61% more likely to experience burnout often or always, 66% more likely to experience daily worry and 48% more likely to experience daily stress than employees who are engaged at work and thriving in their life overall. So, it's a pretty big deal to think about thriving at work as well as life overall. We measure these factors I'm mentioning, along with many other factors linked to thriving, in a proprietary assessment and development system we recently built with the assistance of the Positive Organization Center at the Business and Management School at the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs. They're a group of social scientists that we work with. The assessment, which we call Be Well Lead Well Pulse enables leaders and teams to assess 19 psychometric factors linked to their thriving and resilience in work and in their life overall. For most leaders and teams, when they take this kind of assessment, it's the first time they've taken such a holistic view of how they're doing in life and work and it allows them to make positive changes individually and as groups. I think today, we've had about 3,000 leaders around the world that have taken the assessment.

Marsha Clark  19:08  
I love that and I'm fascinated by the things that you're describing. And I have to tell you, it takes me back. You know, when I started in the workplace, it was certainly in contrast to whole selves and living our lives with a whole self approach. It was, you know, you can check your personal stuff at the door and pick it up on your way out kind of thing was both said and stated literally and certainly implied in many ways. And yet, there's another part that it also brings me to in our work which is wherever I go there I am, which means I'm taking myself with me everywhere I go.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  19:45  
Exactly. And if I'm not thriving, I'm bringing that into that situation.

Marsha Clark  19:50  
That's right. So, please, Renee, tell us more. Tell us more.

Dr. Renee Moorefield  19:56  
Well, the other thing I would say about thriving that just really might be interesting to you and your audience, you can think of thriving in two interrelated, very, very related to each other timeframes. There's thriving in this period of your life and work, but there's also thriving in this very moment. When we helped leaders and teams assess the extent to which they're thriving through our assessment and development system, we're really asking them about this larger period of their life and work. This is a really important timeframe because it provides a larger perspective about how people perceive themselves, others, their work, and their well being overall. For example, you can have a very difficult day at work yet still feel well resourced or thriving in your life and work in general. So, that's that sense of thriving in life and work overall. But there's also thriving in this moment. And this is about your experience in the present. And that matters, too. We exist right here in the present moment. And we can all learn to become more aware of, for instance, when we're breathing shallowly because we just received negative feedback or when our heart is beating fast because we're nervous about giving a presentation, when we have tightness across the chest, which is my stress signal, or a locked jaw because we're in a difficult conversation, or when our heart feels expansive because we've received appreciative feedback from our team members. There's a whole host of physical signals that our body gives us about thriving in the moment. And we can learn to use those signals to make shifts in our state of being in the moment when we feel we need to.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  21:45  
Yeah, as you work with corporations around the world, what practices are you seeing or supporting that help them build and stay committed to creating a culture of thriving?

Dr. Renee Moorefield  21:58  
That's a really good question, Wendi. Again, this is another one that we could spend days and days and days talking about. I see companies reskilling their managers to take on more of the orientation of leadership I talked about earlier. And I think that you and Marsha kind of reinforced as well this leadership is the role of creating the conditions and relationships where all people can thrive. For example, some companies are skilling their leaders to help employees expand their performance goals to include their life and wellbeing goals. So, that's a pretty significant shift from performance goals to goals around they're thriving in life and work. Companies are also skilling their leaders to learn how to coach people not just for performance, but for the thriving and resilience to make wellbeing of people part of the larger vision of the team or organization and to integrate wellbeing practices into team routines such as via constant breathing, gratitude, mindfulness, and other practices to help the team connect with themselves in a healthy way and with each other in healthy ways. Also key both that I would say the individual and team levels are helping teams and individuals diminish unnecessary distractions at work, and to increase people's sense of autonomy and participation wherever appropriate, as I mentioned before. Some companies are seriously looking at how their brands can be an active agent for thriving for their consumers. And I have to say this, this really excites me to see organizations going this far. One 28 person brand team we worked with last year found that by prioritizing thriving over a multi month development approach for their individuals and their team they not only improved the wellbeing and resilience of the team members and the ability of the team to work together, but they also reawakened the brand's power of caregiving which they decided to activate with consumers to really support consumer wellbeing. And all of this was done during the pandemic. So, that was pretty exciting to see that happen. And then finally, like the work that we did at the Coca Cola Company, right now we're also seeing a company we're working with, a global food company, craft wellbeing commitments so those promises that they are making to how they will advance thriving for their employees, their customers and other stakeholders - their entire ecosystem. So, companies are really taking strategies to build a culture of thriving at a variety of levels - individual, team, brand, organization. You can see them as kind of inner nested concentric circles. I believe companies have to commit to the journey of wellbeing leadership in ways that are really relevant and meaningful for their people, their business and their larger context. So, there's not a right size fits all for this.

Marsha Clark  25:04  
Yeah, you know, I'm also thinking about those companies, organizations, brands that make this a priority and really walk their talk, if you will, in developing this culture of thriving could be a real differentiator for them in the marketplace as it comes to consumers as well as attracting the best of the best employee. So, I love that. So, this all sounds almost too good to be true. So, what challenges are you seeing most when it comes to leading the organizations in their wellbeing efforts on all of these levels?

Dr. Renee Moorefield  25:40  
Marsha, I mean, you and I've been on this journey for a long time supporting transformational change at individual and organizational level. So absolutely, there's lots of barriers and lots of challenges. I would say the biggest one I see is when leaders communicate their commitment to all of this, their commitment to the wellbeing of their people, the commitment to the wellbeing of consumers, however they do it, and then maybe even implement a few initiatives, yet they don't back it up with how the leaders themselves show up, how the leaders lead. We use a simple model, and you kind of described a bit of it earlier in this conversation. Our simple model is 'be, do, say'. We've used this with all the leaders we support. In this model, 'be' is first. Being on the journey of wellbeing has to be part of this larger journey of organizational wellbeing because when we're being it, that sense of thriving radiates. When a leader feels dysregulated, especially if that's their norm, their dysregulation not only narrows their thinking and decisions, it has an outsized, negative impact on their team and the organization. So, when companies decide to take wellbeing seriously and truly strategically, it's important for this not to become just an organizational exercise. Their leaders must be on the wellbeing journey personally.

Marsha Clark  27:13  
You know, I think of, well, the companies that I work with. And so, I'm goinng to go off script here for just a minute, Renee, if we can do this. Do you see differences when it comes to executives being willing to embrace this themselves? Are there generational differences? And I'm thinking about the baby boomer versus the, you know, Gen X versus Millennials versus Z's and so on. Do you see any contrast from generation to generation in their receptivity and their modeling these behaviors themselves?

Dr. Renee Moorefield  27:52  
Yeah, it's interesting. My thought reaction, my head reaction would be well, of course, there's going to be generational differences because so many of the younger generations already get that their wellbeing is absolutely fundamental and a high priority in their life. But I will tell you, from my experience, and maybe this is skewed because the organizations that work with Wisdom Works have already vetted themselves. If they're going to work with Wisdom Works they are already wanting to really prioritize wellbeing on multiple levels. I have to say, we are in so many conversations at every level of the organization, and no matter what level and no matter what generation group we're finding such a receptivity and I'm really attributing it to number one, what I just said, that maybe why they're attracted to Wisdom Works in the first place. But number two, the pandemic. I think for the amount of suffering that COVID-19 caused around the world, which I would never wish on any of us ever, ever, ever again. The one silver lining is that it really did provide a wake up call for a lot of people and a lot of organizations to say how are we, how is my life designed, how is our team designed, how is our organization designed to support human thriving because we know what it means to struggle and we don't want to only operate from struggle. So, I think the pandemic really opened up a door, and not just an intellectual door but truly an emotional door, of desire that right now I see more and more momentum no matter what generation.

Marsha Clark  29:59  
Yeah I, you know, I asked the question because I know people were allowed to work from home and that created a whole set of possibilities and when I think of thriving in a whole person kind of way. And yet now there are so many organizations, quote, unquote, "forcing people back into the office", and I just read an article this morning about they're trying to lure them in with all kinds of bells and whistles and fancies, and, you know, funds and all that kind of stuff. And so, it's just fascinating. I think we're really in the middle of and you and I have been before in the middle of transformation, that we don't quite know where it all falls out as we move forward. But thank you for that insight. And I want to shift gears slightly here because I know I said, I automatically think of you when I hear the word wellbeing. But you also come to mind when I think of well researched. And we just wrapped up our four part mini series on organizational systems and life in the top, middle, bottom and customer space. And I understand that you've done some really fascinating research that touches on wellbeing in those different spaces. And I'd love for you to share that with our listeners.

Dr. Renee Moorefield  31:15  
Sure, I'd be glad to. Yeah, earlier this year we published a study in which we asked the question, as leaders of health and wellbeing industries, are we thriving personally? Are we advancing wellbeing through how we lead? And we chose purposely to study leaders in the health and wellbeing industries because these are the industries that people in organizations around the world go to for health and wellbeing solutions. I mean, think about what we were just talking about, consider how heavily we leaned into these industries during the pandemic and we continue to do so. So, when I say health and wellbeing industries, I actually mean three sectors. Number one, the global wellness economy, which is a 4.5 trillion market that combines 11 categories such as wellness, tourism, physical activity, healthy eating, anti aging and beauty, wellness real estate and others. The second is healthcare and pharma, which is you know what that is for sure. We all know what that is. The third one is human potential and development which should would be in the people we were looking at would be those professions and organizations such as leadership development, professional training and education that advance wellbeing and stress, resilience, learning and growth of people. Close to 900 leaders across these three sectors participated in the study. We found nine major insights and anyone in any of your audience can get access to those for free. So, it's not behind any kind of paywall. The biggest insight I'll share here was that higher leader wellbeing was linked to higher leadership impact when managers no matter what level reported higher levels of thriving and resilience overall, they also reported a greater ability to energize and inspire others to maximize the growth and potential of others, and to cultivate work environments of collaboration and care. This is a pretty big deal and a scatter plot that shows the relationship is remarkable, a remarkable scatter plot. Regarding  the management levels, we found that middle and first line managers showed the greatest need for support when it came to their health and wellbeing and their resilience. They reported lower wellbeing leadership as compared to top leaders. As this pool of leaders are the future of the health and wellbeing industries, we felt that this finding highlighted a critical opportunity for retaining and developing top talent by empowering middle and first line management to prioritize their wellbeing. And I guess a final insight I'll share is really linked with your decades of work, Marsha, to empower women in leadership. Every sector across the health and wellbeing industry showed female leaders scoring slightly higher stress than male leaders. This showed up as higher stress linked to their management, their family including their life partner, their children and relatives, and their social life and friends. So, those are three of the nine big Insights we found from the study.

Marsha Clark  34:33  
You know, and I have to say that not any of them surprise me, right? I mean, the fact that tops are those that have the ability, the ones that have the higher thriving and resilience overall and therefore a greater ability to inspire and it goes back to it starts with me, right? I gotta do me first. And then the idea that middle and first line managers have the greatest need for it. They're the ones I mean, if you think about the things we've talked about, Wendi, in the miniseries, that middle space getting pulled and torn and stretched thin.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  35:08  
Stretch Armstrong.

Marsha Clark  35:09  
Yes, it is exactly what I think when I hear that description. And as you said, I've worked for decades hearing women's stories about higher stress because they have two full time jobs, oftentimes their professional full time job and then their domestic full time job in supporting family and home and in its broadest sense. So, not a lot of surprise there. So, thank you for sharing those findings. I think  they validate our reality, I guess, is the way I would think about that.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  35:47  
Yeah. Renee, earlier you mentioned something about thriving in the moment. This is really intriguing to me because I feel like I live five minutes or five years in the past, and definitely five days in the future all at the same time. I am rarely in the moment. And I recognize that about myself, and I do not like it. So, how do I learn to be thriving in the moment?

Marsha Clark  36:14  
That's a great question, Wendi.

Dr. Renee Moorefield  36:16  
It is a great question. Just some thoughts here. Instead of reacting out of our state of being, most of us, most of us, can get better at becoming aware of the state of being we're in in the moment and the extent to which we're feeling regulated or off balance and dysregulated in that exact moment. So, there's really so much we can talk about here. Most of it comes down to being more body aware. I think of our body as an incredible adaptive system which gives us feedback every single moment of our lives. Most of the dynamic changes the body makes to support us are really outside of our awareness. For instance, just kind of consider right now, your heart rate, your blood pressure, your respiration, your digestion, your body temperature among countless other millions of other activities are being cared for without you having to do or think a thing. You don't need to tell your intestines to digest what you just ate, you don't have to tell your heart to beat, your autonomic nervous system manages these and a host of physiological activities without you having to think about them. So, first off, I think this is absolutely awesome that all this happens to support us. So, building our capacity to operate from a foundation of thriving in the moment is in part about understanding the signals our body is giving us. This means bringing these signals forward into our awareness and this is an action which is called interoception. It's not really a common word but that's actually the term for bringing forward the signals happening in your body, and bringing them forward into your awareness so that you can better understand the state you're in and make a change in your state of being if desired. The body truly offers a somatic (another word that's not super common) but a somatic, meaning of the body, intelligence to help you live your life and to lead well. And when you honor this intelligence, you have a greater chance of engaging in not only relationships, but tasks as a whole human being, a whole leader with a greater sense of adaptability and growth and wellbeing.

Marsha Clark  38:33  
You know, Renee, I'm reminded of our conversation about even the book title of "The Body Keeps the Score", right. And I think you were the one who introduced me to that book and I found that fascinating. And I will tell you, in linking it to the work that I've done with women over the years, we're often in that stress state and we recognize it as a stress state but we're not always listening to our bodies. And I think you were the person who probably introduced me first to the idea of somatic intelligence, somatic coaching, somatic awareness, and so on and so forth. So, thank you for all of that. And so, you know, your work has been so integrated around this wholeness in the somatic responses. I think our listeners would really benefit if you could offer a few tips on how they can become more attuned to their own bodies and, Wendi, even you know, in the sense of your question, and how to regulate our responses. So, can you share some tips and walk us through maybe an exercise on how to better or more effectively connect with our bodies?

Dr. Renee Moorefield  39:39  
I would love to. In fact, it would be good for me in the moment as well. So, why don't we do just a simple practice called a body scan because this is a practice that you can do pretty much any time. In fact, I will say that I often use the body scan if I find myself driving too fast in a car because I've got to get somewhere really quickly and I come up to a stoplight or I get behind someone that's going super slow then when you're like, come on, come on, come on, let's go faster. Like I just start using this kind of practice, which is a body scan practice, to become aware of my body in the moment and to reduce my stress level in the moment. So, I'd be happy to guide you two and the listeners through it if that would be. . .

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  40:29  
I'd love it. Yes, please, because I'm the person in the left lane like tailgating the slow person and talking to them not in a very positive way.

Dr. Renee Moorefield  40:40  
All right. So, Wendi, this practice is for you, and this is for both of us. And I will, and before I lead us through this practice, I will say I actually use now red lights as the reminder, 'oh, it's time to do a body scan'. So, that's a good step in this practice. You get to a red light, you remember, 'ah, let's do a body scan'.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  41:01  
I love that.

Dr. Renee Moorefield  41:02  
Yeah. So, well find yourself in a comfortable seated or standing position. Either one. I'm standing right now, but you may be seated. And when I say comfortable, make any micro adjustments you need to right now maybe that is uncrossing arms, or if you're seated uncrossing your feet and allowing the soles of your feet to just land on the floor. If you need to maybe take those shoulders, lift the shoulders up and let them drop down. You can do this gently or roll those shoulders forward and back. And just let yourself, let the chair hold your body, hold the weight of your body fully. Let yourself really sink into the chair. Or again, if you're standing, let your body, the soles of your feet sink into the floor. Feel free to close your eyes with this practice. I love closing my eyes with these kinds of practices because it just blocks out some of the distractions of the outer world and helps me turn my attention inward. But if for any reason at all, it's uncomfortable for you to close your eyes or it's not safe for you to do so maybe you're listening to this while you're driving. Then don't close your eyes please. But soften the muscles around your eyes allowing the eyeballs to rest in the sockets, just even if that's an intention. And for a moment, bring your attention to the crown of your head letting your attention move from the crown of your head all the way down the back of your head to your neck and all the way down the front of your face, your ears, your eyes, your nose, your lips, your jaw, again down to your neck noticing any areas of stress or tension just in the head and neck. Just notice what you notice. You don't need to change a thing right now. Just notice. And let your attention go a little farther down the body from the shoulders down the arms to the fingertips, down the neck and shoulders to the chest and upper back to the ribs, front and back and side, all the way down to the belly and low back. And again, notice any areas of stress or tension or heaviness or any tension may show up as a color. So, it may show up in any form. Again, just noticing what you notice without judgment, letting the attention move to the pelvis, to the hips, the thighs, the hamstrings, the knees, the calves, the shins all the way down to the feet and bring your awareness to any areas of stress or tension in this area of your body. Now notice your whole body. With complete compassion, notice your whole body. Notice your whole body and take a deep breath, an invitation to be alert as well as relaxed in your whole body. Let's take two more deep breaths just at your own pace. And when you finish that second breath, become aware of the quality of your presence in this moment, the quality of your being, again, without any judgment and with complete compassion and become aware of the sounds in the room around you. Or, again, if you're in a car become aware of the sounds around you. And if your eyes are closed, gently open your eyes. So, Wendi, what did you notice about that?

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  46:39  
Well, I noticed that this has been a great conversation today, Renee. You have a captive audience here. So, as we get ready to wrap up, is there anything else you want to make sure our listeners take away from your work around thriving and creating a culture of thriving?

Dr. Renee Moorefield  46:56  
You know, I guess we've talked a lot about building a culture of thriving and how strategic it can be for an organization at many levels, the organization as a whole for its brands, for its teams, for the people in it. I think it's an act of effective leadership to commit to this kind of journey of advancing thriving on all these levels. Yet, it doesn't have to be overwhelming. So, I'd advise people to start right where they are. If you are a manager in a stressed out or toxic organization and have decided to stay there for whatever reason, know that you have the power to create an island of thriving right there within your team. And right there within your own being. I think it can feel daunting to try to overhaul an entire organization but you can affect positive change right where you are. I've just seen it happen too many times to know that it's absolutely possible.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  47:54  
Wow. I mean, that's a powerful statement because even if you just change it within yourself, you've created that island of thriving that has the most impact on yourself. So, Marsha, what would you like to add maybe even from the perspective of what you're hearing from your coaching clients or program participants around the idea of thriving and creating a culture of thriving?

Marsha Clark  48:19  
Yeah. Renee, as you took us through the body scan I'm reminded that you, LeeAnn Mallory, our dear and mutual friend, and Suzanne Zaldivar, who was one of our Power of Self coaches all doing a significant amount of work. And I thought about the exercise that you were taking us through. And we've shared that with many of the women in our programs and we called it a sitting practice. And you know, now I like your idea of the body scan part of it. But talking about even after you have even if it's a quick lunch or if you've choosing to eat at your desk, or whatever all that might be, just giving yourself the gift of that three to five minutes, you know, to do a full body scan to get present and improve that resourcefulness that you talked about earlier in the sense of being able to then go into the work to do. But taking that moment to improve the wellbeing so that you can do that well doing. So, that is one of the thoughts that came to me around this. And I want our listeners to think about you deserve this.You know, you deserve to have moments of your own self care, self replenishing and that by doing so, it does give you the resourcefulness to be available to the others, the many others that make up most of our lives as women and all the responsibilities and roles that we play in our lives. And so, those are the things that come to me. And I do think that so many of my clients, this is the struggle, this is the struggle, and they'll get it under control, and then they'll lose it. But they now have the tools to bring it back and that's, you know, creating new practices in that way.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  50:16  
Well, and something that just going through that exercise Renee led us through, it made me think about the fact that women are being diagnosed at ever increasing rates with high blood pressure. And that specific exercise is something that I do in a very shortened version whenever I go in for my annual checkup, to lower my blood pressure before they slap that cuff on me because nine times out of ten, I come racing in, running late, whatever, I'm huff, huff, huff, puff, puff, puff, sit down in the chair, they put the cuff on me and my blood pressure is like 150 over a million or whatever. And so, I mean, not only do I do it before they test it, but I'm thinking about all the times when we are in stressful situations or when someone says something to us and we are either afraid or we get immediately angry, and how to walk through this exercise just mentally to just slow it down so that we can respond rather than react.

Marsha Clark  51:28  
Well, and Renee, I want to go back because what you're saying, Wendi, reminds me that this exercise, this body scan exercise is a way of holding on to our own personal power. I'm not going to let the craziness of the world or the stress of the situation or the you know, toxic or bullying behavior on the other side of some interaction, I'm not going to give my power away to that. I'm going to hold on to this. And I'm going to then therefore be able to present my best self in the moment.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  52:00  
Well, and it's forcing you internally your brain to think about the crown of your head, your forehead, your eyes. You're not thinking about what Steve just said that really pissed you off. You're going through the body scan. So, that's putting your emotions and driving your attention to a different place also. So, Renee, thank you so much for that. And so, Marsha, thank you for introducing us to Renee. This episode was a gift. Thank you, Renee for being here today and for our listeners who want to find out more about you and your work, they can find Dr. Renee Moorefield, on LinkedIn by looking for Renee. Renee has two E's on the end and then I just spelled Moorefield and on her website at (Remember the dash between wisdom and works).

Dr. Renee Moorefield  52:59  
And Wendi, I'll just dive in here for a second. So, Moorefield is M-o-o-r-e-f-i-e-l-d.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  53:03  
Oh, I'm so sorry. Okay. Okay. It's M-o-o. Got it. Thank you. Thank you for clarifying.

Marsha Clark  53:12  
Well, Renee, I, too, want to echo my thanks for you offering us such an inspiring and enlightening for sure. And I knew it would be. I mean, we've talked about you being a guest on the podcast now for quite some time. And I'm really glad that it worked out. And, you know, everything is in its best time, right? So, there's that divine intervention of now's the time we need to be hearing about some of this because our ability to be resilient, to be resourceful, to be in a state of wellbeing and thriving - as I said, I can't imagine a time when we need it more. So, thank you, thank you, thank you for being here and for sharing your wisdom and your works for the kind of great work that you've been doing for years.

Dr. Renee Moorefield  54:02  
Thank you, Marsha, for the invitation. And I agree with you with what's happening across our world today, some of the stresses and challenges and polarities and there has never been a better time for us to really look at how to thrive individually and together. And it has been an absolute delight for many, many, many, many years now, to support you, Marsha, and really wonderful to meet you, Wendi.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  54:28  
Oh, thank you. Thank you. And thank you, listeners, for joining us today on our journey of authentic, powerful leadership. Please continue to download, subscribe and share this podcast from wherever you like to listen. And we're getting close to book launch - book number two. So, make sure that you are registered, we have your email address on so you can stay up to date on everything in Marsha's world.

Marsha Clark  54:56  
And I just want to say you know, one of the things we know about being women in the world is that we can often advocate on behalf of others better than we can advocate on behalf of ourselves. And so, as we look to support one another in this goal of wellbeing and thriving, we can help each other in that regard. We can notice what's going on with each other. We can together suggest we take a moment, you know, to have that body scan experience to really look at what we can do in the areas of self care, replenishing, being more resilient. And I can't think of a better use of our closing phrase. So, as always, listeners, "Here's to women supporting women!"

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