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“Healthy relationships are important.” with Lisa Swift-Young

Interestingly, healthy relationships are linked to less stress, better healing, a greater sense of purpose, and longer life. Having a few trusted friends or family members, I can confide in has helped me maintain and balance my mental health. As an entrepreneur, you can often feel isolated and overwhelmed by the multitude of responsibilities. Having […]

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Interestingly, healthy relationships are linked to less stress, better healing, a greater sense of purpose, and longer life. Having a few trusted friends or family members, I can confide in has helped me maintain and balance my mental health. As an entrepreneur, you can often feel isolated and overwhelmed by the multitude of responsibilities. Having someone to vent to or vet with has saved my sanity more than once.

Asa part of our series about “How Anyone Can Build Habits For Optimal Wellness, Performance, & Focus,” I had the pleasure of interviewing Lisa Swift-Young, a 2x best selling author, COO of 4Curls, and a success strategy coach. Her professional experience in the pharmacy industry is highlighted with multiple awards and recognitions. As a Business professor and success strategy coach, she seeks to share her expertise and help others “monetize their message.” This world traveler is fascinated with all things related to the people of the African diaspora. Her family foundation, Change We Seek, is committed to supporting organizations dedicated to increasing financial literary in minority communities. Her latest book, Power of 3:The Christian Gratitude Journal for Renewing Your Faith and Restoring Your Praise, will be published in December 2020.

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?

Iam part of a large extended family from the South. Although we did not live close to most of the family, we frequently visited and spent summers at my grandparents’ house. There my siblings and I developed close bonds with numerous cousins, aunts, and uncles. We still have yearly family reunions and enjoy catching up with our growing family.

In our Midwest middle-class neighborhood, our family was one of the few African American families. Consequently, I was one of the first to integrate my elementary school. It was in this environment; I learned the art of “code-switching.” Code-switching means understanding the social standards of two or more cultures and “switching” between them. It is similar to being bilingual. I believe this environment honed my skills and help me optimize the benefits of both environments.

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

I entered college, wanting to become a physician. I was, and still am, compelled to help people. I excelled in the sciences and enjoyed learning, so I felt this was the right path. That was until Organic Chemistry. For those familiar with the course, many have fallen short of the challenge. So, I began to explore other areas of medicine. I wanted a career that would challenge me and afford me a certain standard of living. Additionally, I love traveling and teaching. After college, I moved to Atlanta and started my career in sales and marketing.

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

Admittedly, I struggled to find my niche in sales. I tried various positions, but none were fulfilling. I knew that there must be a way to integrate my love for science and teaching. As I did more research, I stumbled into pharmaceutical sales. My first manager was a master at her craft. She was poised, confident, and compassionate. She taught me a particularly important philosophy, “help others get what they want, and you will always get what you want.” Her dedication to this principle helped her build a network of people who respected her. This allowed her to leverage relationships that made her an invaluable asset to everyone. This has been one of my guiding principles. I have taken the Win-Win approach with clients and reaped the benefits. I help them achieve optimal performance, and in turn, I learn new and more efficient processes for developing my skills.

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?

During my search to find my sales niche, I tried numerous sales gigs. The most entertaining was dressing up in a Cheesa-suarus Rex costume for a store promotion. The gig was dressing up in a 12ft costume to promote Kraft macaroni and cheese. This was not the glamour position I was looking for, but it was fun to act silly and be carefree. As this mythical character, I had the freedom to explore uninhibited. The takeaway lesson for me was, sometimes losing yourself is the best way to find yourself.

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?

Yes, indeed, a big question. First, I am honored that someone would want to emulate me, but I must tell you I don’t always know where I am going. I have yet to truly find out what I want to be when I grow up. What I can say is that I usually enjoy the journey more than the destination. My recommendation is to explore. Be willing to believe in yourself. I spent so much time expecting others to value and validate me when I am (and always was) enough. Develop the courage to silence negative self-talk. In my book, Power of 3, The Christian Gratitude Journal for Restoring Your Faith and Renewing Your Praise, I share this concept. The takeaway is that many times we think others’ opinions keep us from reaching our full potential when our most fervent enemy is the “inner me”. I have talked myself out of so many great ideas because I let negativity negate taking the next step. Finally, embrace your difference. One of the quotes I display in my office is, “in a world where you can be anybody, be yourself.” Your gifts are divinely bestowed to you. Find a way to develop them and share them.

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?

Iyanla Vanzant Acts of Faith: Meditations for People of Color

This was one of the first books I added to my library as I began to explore building habits for optimal performance and focus. I was drawn to the simplicity and the cultural perspective the book presented. I found a quote that has inspired and given me the strength to focus in times of turmoil and trials. The quote is attributed to Julie Dash, acclaimed director of “Daughters of the Dust”. The passage, “we are the children of those who chose to survive.” This reminds me that no matter what I am going through, some gave their very lives for me to be here. They did not make quitting an option. I am reminded that I have what it takes to thrive because it is in my DNA.

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

My favorite life lesson quote is attributed to Nelson Mandela. He states, “I never lose, I win or learn.”

It is so easy to see the obstacles instead of the options. This reminds me that there are lessons in every endeavor. Some you get the trophy and others you get the training. Reflect on what you learned. First, assess what went well. Celebrate that you tried. Find grateful moments to gain momentum to move forward. Investigate how you can get better because of the situation. Accept the fact that outcomes are a result of seen and unseen inputs. The best you can do is to do all you can do. The quote reminds me that I dared to try. Now my job is to use the knowledge and wisdom I gained to explore other options.

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

I am building my executive coaching practice, Change We Seek Consulting. I coach professional women that are exploring entrepreneurship. I have found that many women are reexamining their priorities and reimaging their lives post-pandemic. I am working with clients who use their skills and experiences to craft a new dynamic lifestyle with more freedom and flexibility to showcase their talents. My clients are infusing their career talents with their passions to create startups and small businesses about wealth and legacy building. I have chosen a similar path. It’s an honor to coach them through the process and help them get to wins faster. I believe that we are going to see a renaissance of new ideas and solutions. It is exhilarating to be a part of their journey.

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?

Good and healthy habits are linked to increased happiness and joy. Furthermore, people who have good habits live longer and are physically healthier. Your habits dictate your direction. We become what we set energy towards so, habits are the foundation of our future selves. My habit of walking 3 miles a day affects the food I choose to eat, which leads to a healthier lifestyle.

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

I believe that our brains are wired (and re-wired) through positive and negative stimuli. Habits are formed as we process the responses we receive from a specific behavior or action. In my opinion, it is vital to have the right input to get the desired outputs. I believe seeking the options despite the optics and pausing to give thanks are habits that play a massive role in my success.

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

Well, I think Mae Jemison, astronaut and physician, said it best,” The best way to live your dreams is to wake up.” For me, this means acting. It will require an effort to form new and positive habits. With concerted, disciplined effort over some time, frequently repeated behaviors can become automatic. Using willpower, new positive behaviors emerge and evolve into habits.

Conversely, that same determination will be required to stop a bad habit. Commit to one change, no matter how small, and give your total attention to that one change. Once you develop a cadence, it will become a habit.

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.

For optimal wellness. I believe one should commit to gratitude and meditation, commitment to adequate rest, and healthy relationships

Gratitude and Meditation

Gratitude orients me towards optimism. Being intentional about identifying and acknowledging the good, helps center my mind and calms my energy. I consider prayer a form of meditation; when I pray, I start with gratitude, and then I seek guidance on issues and guidance for the day. For more than four years, my son and I exchange daily gratitude texts. It has been a way for us to connect and be accountable.

Rest

Your body requires a reset every day. Sleep deprivation negatively affects performance, productivity, and quality of life. Without the recommended 7–8 hours of sleep per night, I notice difficulty concentrating, learning, and communicating. Additionally, memory lapses increase, and my problem-solving abilities decline. Most nights, I am in bed by 10:00 p.m. I use the Calm app to do a 20–30-minute-deep sleep breathing exercise.

Healthy Relationships

Interestingly, healthy relationships are linked to less stress, better healing, a greater sense of purpose, and longer life. Having a few trusted friends or family members, I can confide in has helped me maintain and balance my mental health. As an entrepreneur, you can often feel isolated and overwhelmed by the multitude of responsibilities. Having someone to vent to or vet with has saved my sanity more than once.

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

I have found that mindfulness and gratitude can help you gain a fresh perspective on the situation. Being able to reframe the situation and recognize the opportunities instead of the obstacles. My daily mindfulness moment is a welcome start to each day. It gives me a more positive perspective as I approach the day. By adding a couple of close friends to keep me accountable, this mini mindfulness community has become a refuge from the daily challenges of desperate and overwhelmed.

Here’s a quick mindfulness hack that has helped me “PAUSE.” The idea is to use the power of commitment and connections to reframe and refresh as you begin your day. Every day, I take a moment to

Pause- 30 seconds of deep breathing

Acknowledge what I am, grateful for

Unite with your trusted friend(s) via text.

Share your gratitude with them, and

Evaluate how I feel.

This daily practice solicits a call and response communication flow. The flow of this mindfulness practice will help anyone find focus during a stressful day and keep you from sinking into focusing on what didn’t work. This can help improve recovery time and increase performance. Additionally, this documentation on my phone is an ever-present reminder of the things and people that matter the most.

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

For optimal performance at work or sport, I believe one should commit to celebrating wins, becoming a lifelong learner, and not being the smartest person in the room.

Celebrate Wins

Celebrating wins helps me see the progress in the process. This is a habit that I must be intentional about practicing. I am often inclined to run to the next project without taking the time to notice my achievements. I make it a habit by planning a celebration or rewards when I achieve each milestone. That way, it becomes automatic or a practice. Sometimes the rewards are small like, indulging in a massage. Other times, they are more extravagant, like a vacation abroad. Celebrating my accomplishments keeps me motivated to reach a milestone. More importantly, they help me recharge for the next challenge. I come back refreshed and ready to take on the opportunity.

Yearn to Learn

I have found that the more I learn, the more I realize I don’t know. Although I have more than 20 years of experience as a multi-award-winning professional, there is always more I could learn about sales and marketing, I have learned that the only constant thing is change. I believe in achieving peak performance; I must yearn to learn more about myself and my environment.

Network increase Net Worth

There is a saying, “you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.” For me, this means creating a network of experts in the chosen field or sport. Where some may be intimidated, I am captivated. I habitually place myself in situations and around people who find ways to elevate their thinking and processes. Consequently, I benefit from their success and learn from their failures. This opens opportunities for me to increase my performance and prosper.

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

Find a mentor or coach to help develop a strategy for formulating these habits. A coach can help you explore development opportunities. Furthermore, you will have someone to keep you accountable as you build this habit. Additionally, consider taking a course or attending network events in your field.

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

For optimal focus, I believe one should begin with the end in mind, set S.M.A.R.T goals, and establish priorities.

Begin with the End in Mind

How will you know you got there if you don’t know where you are going? This concept of beginning with the end in mind is part of Covey, “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”. Before I start any project, I determine what the future will be and then work backward. This assures that the client and I have the same focus.

S.M.A.R.T

This is an acronym for a goal setting technique. It stands for setting goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. I use this process for developing goals because it simplifies the process and helps me to concisely articulate the objectives. I can instantly connect to the next steps in the process and focus on the resources needed to complete the project.

Set Priorities

As an author, philanthropist, entrepreneur, wife, and mother, I have many activities and commitments. I choose to prioritize my personal time over my professional time to maintain balance. My professional responsibilities are all linked to a single purpose. This way, I can discern which opportunities will move my professional career forward. This keeps me from being overwhelmed and helps me maintain focus.

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

Each day, I make a list of 3 things I want to accomplish and schedule the appropriate amount of time for each task. I use the Pomodoro method to focus on tasks or activities for a specific amount of time. Additionally, I listen to classical piano or bossa nova music as I plan my day.

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?

My advice would be to learn your strengths. This will be an invaluable asset for achieving the state of flow. For me, flow most often happens when I am working in my areas of strength. Two of my strengths are learning new things and developing strategies. Consequently, I learn fast and thrive in short projects and dynamically changing environments. My coaching clients benefit from my aptitude to assess a clear direction in a complicated situation. If you want to operate in the “state of flow” you should identify your strengths and find opportunities that help you develop your strengths.

OK, we are nearly done. You are a person of significant 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.

Expand the recognition of World Kindness Day. Celebrated on November 13 of each year, this global day promotes the importance of being kind to each other, yourself, and the world. The purpose is to help everyone understand that compassion for others is what connects us.

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 🙂

Lisa Price, Carol’s Daughter. I became a fan of her hair brand in the early 2000s. I was intrigued when I learned her backstory on the” How I Built This” podcast. Later, I was inspired by her authenticity in the “She Did That” documentary.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Website: Lisaswiftyoung.com

IG: @pause2praisebooks

Amazon: Lisa Swift-Young

Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success.

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