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“Do something calming before sleep.” With Natasha Ellis

Some of the best ways I ensure I am getting consistent decent sleep is to do something calming before bed. Before bed, I prepare my environment for sleep. Don’t drink or eat anything stimulating before bed, I put my humidifier on and essential oils on my pillow. As a part of our series about “How […]

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Some of the best ways I ensure I am getting consistent decent sleep is to do something calming before bed. Before bed, I prepare my environment for sleep. Don’t drink or eat anything stimulating before bed, I put my humidifier on and essential oils on my pillow.

As a part of our series about “How Anyone Can Build Habits For Optimal Wellness, Performance, & Focus”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Natasha Ellis.

Natasha Elis is a serial entrepreneur with her roots and education coming from the Midwest. She has relocated to the Los Angeles area after a lifetime of dreaming to live there. She is a Certified mental health and addiction specialist with over 14 years of experience collectively. She has an extensive scope of practice with addictions, other maladaptive behaviors ,trauma healing work, and health and wellness with a specialty in Laughter yoga. She is a person who is in long term recovery and a mental health and wellness advocate.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

Thank you for this opportunity to be a part of this series. I feel very lucky to be involved in adding input on a subject matter that means a lot to me. I was raised in Detroit ,MI as the only child to a hard working single mother and the eldest daughter to my entrepreneur father.

My mother instilled in me the value of hard work, not doing anything halfway, and the spirit of spontaneity and variety. My mother had me involved in as many things to explore myself and find my talents at a young age. I was involved in piano, karate, and after school programming as a child.

My father was the consummate businessman and instilled in me that i can be who i want and to never let anyone define me. My father showed me the fine things in life and set my sights on what I could strive for. By the time it was 18 my mother had traveled with me across the country to expose me to the world and the fact that there’s a big world out here for me to experience.

What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.

My father inspired me and groomed me to have the mindset of an entrepreneur and to look for opportunities not just employment. I am an entrepreneur straight through to the bone and that hard wiring made me gravitate toward people that I admired to pursue the things I want. I have several career interest that i’ve pursued and some of the people ive looked up to that were an inspiration to me were Oprah Winfrey, Bob Johnson, and madame CJ walker.

None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?

Absolutely, no one can get to a place called success alone. There have been many people that helped encourage me throughout my life. People from my parents , friends and various professionals in my treatment team throughout the years. It’s next to impossible to single out just one person. It truly does take a village to not only raise a child but to encourage and support a single soul.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?

This is an amazing question that indeed falls into the interesting category as well. I used to subscribe to the belief that when searching for opportunities and jobs that I had to fit every single requirement they were looking for perfectly before I could attempt to work and flourish there. I was interviewing for an internship to further develop certain skills within a company that I coveted and was told an amazing piece of advice.

The owner said to me after going over my resume and experience” Why are you still interning?” Go ahead and apply for jobs”. They mentioned you have enough experience and previous internships just apply for jobs. They helped me realize that I was trying to play it safe to ensure that I wouldn’t make mistakes in this new role.

I completely overlooked other components to take into consideration when stepping into a new role if you don’t have complete mastery over a specific task as of yet.

Making sure I understand the purpose of the job

Making sure i understand the main tasks and key competencies of the tole

And most importantly not forgetting i have soft skills and transferable skills that are an asset as well

The road to success is hard and requires tremendous dedication. This question is obviously a big one, but what advice would you give to a young person who aspires to follow in your footsteps and emulate your success?

I would tell a young person that wants to follow in the pursuit of their passions a couple things that truly made a difference to me. Keeping the fact that success is nonlinear in the forefront of your mind will increase your resilience when the going gets tough in trying to accomplish your goals. We can’t compare our journey to others because that is a lose situation

I would also advise them to reframe what making mistakes mean to them. Learn to look at mistakes as an opportunity to learn and confirmation that you are trying.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

I am an avid reader and reading has been a friend to me in my development as a person and as an entrepreneur. There are countless books that had an impact in my life and that were meaningful and the most recent one a mentor of mine suggested. It is called Thick face Black heart by Chin- Ning Chu. This book resonated with me because it opened my eyes to a lot of new ideas of how to look at and approach business and life in some truly profound ways. How to accept and deal with fear and adversity was of pivotal importance to me.

Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?

There are quite a few quotes that I have adapted as my mantra and compass in life. The latest quote that soothes me as an entrepreneur who is on a journey to create a career of my dreams is by the former secretary of state Madeleine Albright . The quote says “I was taught to strive not because there were any guarantees of success but because the act of striving is in itself the only way to keep faith with life.” I love this quote because it simply reminds me of my purpose of why I strive and when things get hard and it grounds me.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?

One of the projects that is important and exciting to me that will help people is one of social justice nature rather than strictly career based. I am involved in an organization called Essie Justice Group. I became a part of this organization when I moved to LA to continue in my efforts to help end criminal injustice and mass incarceration.

I am a woman that has loved ones that were incarcerated and essie justice group is a sisterhood of women building a nationwide bold and loving network of women with incarcerated loved ones to end all state-sponsored violence against women and communities of color, and queer communities. One of the many initiatives is the Breathe act. The BREATHE Act is an omnibus bill presented by the Electoral Justice Project of the Movement for Black Lives. The bill proposes to divest taxpayer dollars from policing and invest in alternate, community-based approaches to public safety.

OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. This will be intuitive to you but it will be helpful to spell this out directly. Can you help explain a few reasons why it is so important to create good habits? Can you share a story or give some examples?

I absolutely believe that habits are crucial and there are a couple main reasons that I believe habits are important to create.

The beautiful thing that creating habits affords me is that when I perform a behavior repeatedly it sets in motion a routine. When circumstances occur that impacts my ability to be motivated to do that behavior the fact that i have created that habit will work to drive me in replacement of having motivation to do so

The other reason habits are important as well is that they help set the tone for my life. I start out doing a behavior and over a period of time that behavior becomes a part of the fabric of my life. It also is a clue into what I value in life as well. It is said that if you want to see what you value look at where you spend your money also look at your habits.

How have habits played a role in your success? Can you share some success habits that have helped you in your journey?

Habits played a great role in my success because it simply helped shape it and gave it definition. There are so many foundational habits that I implemented and cultivated in my life.

Transforming what fear and mistakes mean to me and the role they play in my life when the feelings and situations occur.

Never giving up-When i get tired with things i take a break, but I don’t stop

I live by lists — Being organized in my thought life so i can have something to check off keeps me on track

Invest in myself — I allow myself endless opportunities to learn and explore any and all potential or interest I may have

Speaking in general, what is the best way to develop good habits? Conversely, how can one stop bad habits?

I believe the best way to develop good habits is to focus on consistency not perfection. Sometimes a monkey wrench gets in the way of my plans and i miss doing a particular thing but making sure i start back immediately. I believe the key is to not collect too many missed actions in a row to break the momentum.

I believe the key to breaking bad habits is to focus on the areas of dissatisfaction that the habit provides and give myself permission to explore other ways of getting that need met.

Let’s talk about creating good habits in three areas, Wellness, Performance, and Focus. Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimum wellness. Please share a story or example for each.

Sleep- Sleep is so important because it impacts the whole body and mood when there is a lack of it. The recommended amount of sleep of course is 8 hours.

Some of the best ways I ensure I am getting consistent decent sleep is to do something calming before bed. Before bed, I prepare my environment for sleep. Don’t drink or eat anything stimulating before bed, I put my humidifier on and essential oils on my pillow.

Play — when we become adults sometimes the concept of play can be lost on us and we forget how important an aspect it is in our lives. Play reduces stress, increases creativity and ingenuity, builds resilience and a number of other things. It’s necessary to rediscover what play looks like for us and incorporate that into our lives.

I am a member of a Laughter club, as well as teach laughter yoga, and I practice laughter yoga principles daily. One of the goals of this habit is to help Take a light hearted view of daily stressors to not let it raise my stress level. I get the benefits of laughter on the body whether i am really laughing or doing an exercise

Can you help explain some practices that can be used to develop those habits?

Sleep practices- Be intentional about going to bed and learn what works for you to relax you

Play- join a Laugh Club and commit to a daily practice to learn how to infuse play in your life again

Exercise- make it varied so as not to get bored

Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimal performance at work or sport? Please share a story or example for each.

Manage Stress — keeping an active eye on your stress level and having healthy and effective ways and means to release stress is a wonderful way to improve your work performance. One of the ways that I manage my stress is to make sure I include play in my day. I infuse light heartedness in my work day to reinvigorate me.

Ask questions — Knowing exactly what your role is and that you understand all the components of the job will prevent wasting time with being confused or mystified with anything. Some people are afraid of asking questions because of potentially being perceived as incompetent or stupid. I reframed what asking questions meant to me. I look at asking questions as a way of confirming to my employer or client that I am committed to doing a great job.

Doing hard task first- A way to ensure optimal performance at work is to tackle task that may be harder or more labor intensive first instead of waiting until later which can promote procrastination. I sit down to do a planner where I look at my to do list and prioritize by time it takes to complete and the mindset it elicits in me to complete and to do the stressful things first.

Can you help explain some practices that can be used to develop those habits?

One of the ways that I manage my stress is to make sure I include play in my day. I infuse light heartedness in my work day to reinvigorate me.

Some people are afraid of asking questions because of potentially being perceived as incompetent or stupid. I reframed what asking questions meant to me. I look at asking questions as a way of confirming to my employer or client that I am committed to doing a great job.

I sit down to do a planner where I look at my to do list and prioritize by time it takes to complete and the mindset it elicits in me to complete and to do the stressful things first.

Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimal focus? Please share a story or example for each.

Prioritize with a Matrix- A priority Matrix is an important tool to help you weigh different factors and determine which tasks and projects to complete first. They come in different varieties and styles with varying details within them. When I have a heavy workload, I utilize the Eisenhower matrix or the delegation grid matrix. Doing these help helps to hone in and focus and prevent overwhelm

Mind map- Is a wonderful tool to get focused and try and find synergy between concepts and ideas. I love this tool when I am trying to plan out a new business idea and how to move forward with ideas.

Brain dump — When our heads are full of to do lists and thoughts, etc a brain dump is a way to simply clear your mind so you can focus and organize your thoughts once you have emptied them.

Can you help explain some practices that can be used to develop those habits?

At all times have a journal or a notepad and writing utensil on you so when the mood hits you to do these you won’t have to search for anything.

As a leader, you likely experience times when you are in a state of Flow. Flow has been described as a pleasurable mental state that occurs when you do something that you are skilled at, that is challenging, and that is meaningful. Can you share some ideas from your experience about how we can achieve a state of Flow more often in our lives?

I agree that doing something that I have a high level of mastery over does put me in that flow that you speak off. I would also add doing something creative as well puts me in a space of flow. I like to put music on to get the creative juices flowing to inspire me.

Ok, we are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

I believe in the concept of not reinventing the wheel. There is already a movement operating in the world that i wholeheartedly believe i was born ready to live and help spread its message. That is authenticity, Brene Brown is the force behind bringing into the forefront of society’s mind the beauty and power of authenticity. I live every area of my life from a space of authenticity and it feels so good to be genuine.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them 🙂

I have always wanted to have a conversation with Oprah. She was one of the first women who I saw that broke through barriers i didn’t know was possible and gave me a landscape with which tdream and see what indeed was possible with hard work and vision.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

https://www.linkedin.com/in/natasha-ellis-82842723/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/379163599197645/

www.strivngforserenity.com

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