Create and empower a Support Squad — or a Possibility Posse! Whatever you want to call it, write down a list of 5 people who love you, get you, and will hold you to being your best self. In times of stress, it’s easy to forget how many resources and lifelines you have, hence the importance of having your list in writing. In times of celebration, make sure to share your joy with the ones who love you and hold you during the hard times! High performers sometimes forget to take time to celebrate each win before moving on to the pursuit of the next one. Leaders underestimate or forget that others truly want to celebrate with them.
Often when we refer to wellness, we assume that we are talking about physical wellbeing. But one can be physically very healthy but still be unwell, emotionally or mentally. What are the steps we can take to cultivate optimal wellness in all areas of our life; to develop Mental, Physical, Emotional, & Spiritual Wellbeing?
As a part of our series about “How We Can Do To Cultivate Our Mental, Physical, Emotional, & Spiritual Wellbeing”, I had the pleasure of interviewingKacey Cardin, PCC.
Kacey Cardin, PCC, is an executive coach, Tedx speaker, and leadership development consultant whose work has supported companies including Google, ABC, Etsy, Chief, and Disney. Her clients — many of whom are leaders in the finance, legal, and entertainment industries — impact the world daily through politics, television and film, bestselling novels, and their own viral Ted Talks. Prior to training and working as a coach, Kacey worked for a decade as a professional opera singer, a career that taught her the importance of optimal well-being as the basis for impactful leadership.
The creator of the EnQ: Energetic Intelligence leadership framework, Kacey brings an integrative approach to business and leadership that is based on two decades of research and training in human behavioral change, leadership, executive presence, energy work, and ontological and facilitative coaching. Her Tedx talk and forthcoming book on the 7 Wheels of Leadership have become her clients’ “secret weapon” workshops and tools. Passionate about ethics in the coaching industry, she founded the ACX Advanced Coach Accelerator to provide ongoing education for coaches, and she is a Mentor Coach with the International Coach Federation. Kacey has led workshops for organizations including the Country Music Association, DKMS, Vanderbilt University, Medley, and CreativeMornings. In 2020, she co-created the Intersectional Bias Coaching curriculum, a program that has impacted hundreds of leaders as part of a commitment to a more equitable, diverse, and authentically connected world. For more info, visit www.kaceycardincoaching.com.https://content.thriveglobal.com/media/eb5bd46e04747397466190b6d2b5b09c
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 inviting me! Absolutely. I’ve been a New York City resident for over ten years and have split my time between NYC and Nashville for the last four, but I was born and raised in the small, southern town of Pulaski, TN. I knew from age three that I wanted to be a performer, and much of my childhood was spent in voice lessons, choir and band rehearsals, or onstage. Growing up in a small town was often a peaceful, nurturing experience, but growing up in a small town with big city dreams held some challenges: I dealt with my share of bullying, shame, isolation, Imposter Syndrome, and a traumatic assault in high school. Those challenges led to being diagnosed with an anxiety disorder and depression at age 12 and PTSD at 16, so I started seeking support for my integrative well-being at quite an early point in my life. My teens and twenties were emotionally tumultuous, and even when my life looked successful from the outside, I often had an inner experience that did not match what others were seeing. Today, I’m the healthiest I’ve ever been, in every possible way, but it was and always will be a journey.
As a young adult, I worked all over the world as a singer, actor, dancer, and eventually also a writer and producer. As a performer, your body is your instrument and, therefore, your business, so you learn very quickly that it’s crucial to keep your body, mind, and soul in excellent shape, no matter what life throws at you. At this point, I still perform for the joy and creative fulfillment of it, but I work as an executive and leadership coach, writer, and speaker. How I utilize my voice has shifted, but the necessity of well-being as a cornerstone of my business has not.
What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.
After years of working as a professional singer and actor, I woke up one morning and realized that the more successful I got, the less fulfilled I felt outside of work. I realized I was an approval junkie, and my life was all about the next gig, the next hit of validation. We see so many artists and performers go off the rails, and I knew instinctively that I was on the fast track to burnout if something didn’t shift. After a year of nudging from a colleague who had worked with a life coach, I finally broke down and hired my first coach to help me reinvent my relationship to the entertainment industry and my role in it.
Three months into working with her, I knew I wanted to become a coach myself. The work was having such a deep and fulfilling impact in my life that I knew I wanted to use my voice and presence in a very different way moving forward. After months of research, I chose a training program, and a year later, I officially opened my own practice. For nearly a decade now, I have coached creative leaders from all over the world, and I currently specialize in supporting high-performers who struggle with Imposter Syndrome, the “Not Enoughs”, overwhelm, burnout, and a desire for a more joyful, authentically expressed life. I also coach “power couples” who want to create more intimacy, adventure, and joy while they pursue big goals as leaders and as a family.
Clearly, my childhood experiences and dreams, as well as my own career pivot, provide a deep connection to many of the goals and challenges my own clients face. Additionally, my hometown actually provided impetus to co-create an Intersectional Bias Coaching program last year, and one of my proudest moments in 2020 was leading that workshop for Pulaski’s community leaders, which required acknowledging and unpacking the town’s infamous history regarding bias, racism, and systemic inequality. To do work that transforms the lives of leaders to the degree that they then transform entire communities and cultures is a responsibility that I hold with a great deal of reverence and gratitude. It also requires an immense amount of support and self-care in my own life, so I’m excited to look at that with you today!
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?
Personally, I am so grateful for my mother, Karen. Through my highest highs and lowest lows, she has been a source of unconditional support and love. She’s still one of the first calls I make when I want to celebrate a big win or need some TLC.
Professionally, one of my first coaches, Sarah Olin. She was such a source of encouragement, support, inspiration, and empowerment while I was training to become a coach and building my own business. I worked with her for six years and continue to call on her for thought partnership, masterminding, peer support, and her brilliant coaching.
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?
When I first started to take on clients, I was also still performing frequently. At one point, I was on a month-long, Off-Broadway tour through Canada. The cast had long drives between venues, daytime rehearsals, and nighttime shows. I was cramming client calls into my dinner breaks, early mornings in hotel business centers, the back of a noisy fan full of musical theater singers, and even backstage while getting in or out of costume. My calls are usually on Zoom, so my clients saw me dressed in everything from sweatsuits to sparkly corsets! There was also a tour in Vienna that required me to take a few client calls at 2am local time to accommodate time zones and my own nightly show schedule. Those were wild, wild work days!
My colleagues and clients called me “Carmen Sandiego” for years because you never knew where I would be on our next call. It didn’t seem like a mistake at the time, and I don’t know that I could or would have done it differently if I had the chance, but it did eventually get exhausting, then unmanageable as my coaching business grew. If I were to go on an international trip today, I would reschedule my clients, knowing that the world won’t end if I give myself a break! That’s an important lesson to learn for all business owners and leaders.
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 have been a voracious reader since the moment I learned how to put words together, so this question could be its own interview for me! For my professional growth, “The Last Word on Power” really opened me up to the power of bridging conversations about “impossible” possibilities in leadership and business. I credit that book with helping me hone my craft while developing my own unique brand of “woo-woo meets To Do”. On a personal note, I return over and over again to “Conversations with God” and “Women Who Run with the Wolves”, both of which keep me attuned to the divine connection and the wild nature that lives within each of us.
Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?
“I am a part of all that I have met” from “Ulysses” by Tennyson. It was on a box of stationary that I bought as a kid; it resonated with me then, and its meaning deepens for me as I grow. As a kid struggling to find my place in the world and in the middle school social order, it meant that we are never truly alone or outcast because we are so deeply interconnected to each other on a spiritual and energetic level. Today, it’s a reminder to be kind and compassionate in every encounter because you leave a lasting imprint on every single life you touch, every single path you cross. We sometimes underestimate our own power and impact, but our energy ripples out into worlds far beyond our own little sphere.
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 a creative multipreneur who always has several going at once! I just gave a Tedx talk, and inspired me to work on a new book based on my EnQ: Energetic Intelligence framework. I’m leading a Divinely Express Women’s group coaching program that will hopefully culminate in a Costa Rica retreat when it’s safe to travel together again, and I’m developing an updated EnQ corporate training for leaders who want to help their teams and organizations access a new level of connection, productivity, power, authenticity, and fulfillment. I also teach Chakralesque classes at least once a month to keep my body, mind, and spirit moving away from my desk and computer!
OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. In this interview series we’d like to discuss cultivating wellness habits in four areas of our lives, Mental wellness, Physical wellness, Emotional wellness, & Spiritual wellness. Let’s dive deeper into these together. Based on your research or experience, can you share with our readers three good habits that can lead to optimum mental wellness? Please share a story or example for each.
- I start every day with a written “brain dump”, which is stream-of-consciousness writing about any thought that makes its way from your brain to your paper. Inspired by Julia Cameron’s Morning Pages practice, I do an intentional dump of any worries, judgements, fears, or burdensome thoughts, then I cross out the ones that won’t serve or empower me as I move through the day. Note: this should be handwritten, not typed. Science shows that handwriting your worries helps your brain release them, while handwriting something you wish you recall helps embed it into your memory. Typing does not activate the same level of brain function.
- Create and empower a Support Squad — or a Possibility Posse! Whatever you want to call it, write down a list of 5 people who love you, get you, and will hold you to being your best self. In times of stress, it’s easy to forget how many resources and lifelines you have, hence the importance of having your list in writing. In times of celebration, make sure to share your joy with the ones who love you and hold you during the hard times! High performers sometimes forget to take time to celebrate each win before moving on to the pursuit of the next one. Leaders underestimate or forget that others truly want to celebrate with them.
- Have a professional coach, therapist, or both as part of your regular, foundational wellness budget. There are professionals who offer support at all sorts of financial levels, including pro bono. When people seek out therapy or coaching infrequently, “as needed”, or just up until they feel better, it can lend itself to a pattern of struggling then finding temporary relief, only to again struggle until seeking temporary relief. Consistent, ongoing support will slowly but surely help you build a new “normal” for yourself that will be more of a springboard than a lifeboat. Investing in your own mental wellbeing on a regular basis can also serve as a reminder that you are worth the investment every time that invoice gets paid.
Do you have a specific type of meditation practice or Yoga practice that you have found helpful? We’d love to hear about it.
Honestly? Whichever one you will actually practice! I’ve tried many types over the years. The specifics of what’s most helpful for me have shifted for me many times since my first yoga experience in 1998, which was a VHS tape that I ordered from Yoga Journal! When I moved to New York in 2009, classes at Jivamukti in Union Square were deeply impactful for me. That studio has been closed for years, but the practice left an imprint that I can’t imagine will ever leave me.
Thinking of yoga and meditation as a lifestyle, not just a single class or small chunk of time, is probably the most helpful practice for me. Mindfulness and meditation can occur throughout the day if we allow ourselves to be aware. I frequent online classes led by various friends and fellow coaches (shout out to Kevin Bigger in NYC and Carrie Wren in Charlotte), and I make time daily for a written or verbal gratitude list. My partner and I also really love what we’ve nicknamed “napitations”… which basically consist of laying down, listening to a guided meditation, and accidentally falling asleep…
Thank you for that. Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimum physical wellness? Please share a story or example for each.
Our bodies were made to move! Working from home can give way to sedentary sluggishness, but it’s vital for your body, productivity, and mood to incorporate physical wellness into each day. I work with so many clients who fall into an “all or nothing” pattern when it comes to wellness, so if you aren’t reliably working out an hour three to five times a week, I suggest committing to a small window of physical activity daily, even if it’s a 10 minute walk or 5 minutes of desk-ercise. Push-ups in between Zoom calls, squats while you refill your water glass, jumping jacks every time someone on a Zoom call says, “Can you hear me okay?”. Make it bite-sized and maybe even fun! Enrolling a buddy to join you for even your bite-sized workouts can add extra incentive and accountability. It also helps me to think of physical exercise as a creative activity. When we work our bodies, we tap into stored energy, generating more connection to our physical selves and our creative potential.
Do you have any particular thoughts about healthy eating? We all know that it’s important to eat more vegetables, eat less sugar, etc. But while we know it intellectually, it’s often difficult to put it into practice and make it a part of our daily habits. In your opinion what are the main blockages that prevent us from taking the information that we all know, and integrating it into our lives?
This one is the biggest challenge for me personally. I’ve been an emotional eater for nearly two decades, and no amount of knowledge about dietary recommendations will override my emotions in the heat of the moment. One of our main blockages is not identifying what we’re really in need of when we use food as a substitute for something else. Some people use food or drinks to numb their feelings or avoid negative emotions. Some people use food or drinks as a way to connect and socialize. There’s not necessarily anything wrong with that, but it can block us from being fully vulnerable and connected with ourselves and other people. I suggest practicing Mindful Consumption. This goes for media, external conversations, and our own thoughts, in addition to food. Mindful Consumption requires noticing your intake and actually hearing your body’s reactions and requests when they arise. I recently noticed that my stomach would feel upset if I stared at my phone for too long, especially at the end of a long day. Our bodies and minds use pain in ways that sometimes signal for us to stop and sometimes, especially in the case of emotions, let us know that something tender needs more of our gentle kindness and attention.
Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimum emotional wellness? Please share a story or example for each.
The Mindful Consumption practice above goes for emotional wellness, too. Is the media you consume making you feel positive feelings or are you inundating yourself with books, podcasts, and movies that create dis-ease or anxiety in your body and energetic experience? It’s important to stay informed about current events and to experience a full range of emotions, but our nervous system can’t thrive if we are constantly in a state of emotional turmoil.
A practice that has become normal for me that many people find uncomfortable at first is to actually ask for acknowledgement. This isn’t about fishing for compliments; it’s about allowing yourself to be seen in all of your glory and greatness, and to have another human reflect your innate goodness in a way that you can hear. My partner and I often swap acknowledgements at the dinner table. Some nights it sounds like, “I acknowledge your beauty, kindness, and wisdom today.”, and sometimes it’s more like, “Babe, you’re a badass, and I acknowledge the way you handled that tough conversation today.” Asking your partner or bestie for a little verbal hug in this way can really boost your self-image, self-love, and level of intimacy.
A daily gratitude practice can work wonders for your emotional wellness, as well. Any time I’m feeling especially stressed, scared, or in despair, I make a list of three to five items for which I am grateful. My list might include people, places, things, pets, accomplishments, or events. Sometimes they are monumental items, and sometimes they are as simple as my favorite blue coffee mug. Focusing on gratitude has been shown to have a healing and lasting positive impact on peoples’ emotional states — and quite often, their physical health, as well.
Do you have any particular thoughts about the power of smiling to improve emotional wellness? We’d love to hear it.
I have certainly read studies on the power of a smile to “trick” your brain into releasing chemicals that generate more positive emotions. As an actor, you learn the power of facial expressions and posture to activate emotional states, as well. Amy Cuddy’s work on power poses is another example of this phenomenon. We sometimes think our emotions are the origin or extent of our human experience, when actually our thoughts, words, and body language are equally responsible for creating our reality.
Finally, can you share three good habits that can lead to optimum spiritual wellness? Please share a story or example for each.
My entire business is built around the idea of “Soul Level Coaching, Next Level Results”, so this question might be the one I’m most excited to answer. At this point in my life, I’m not particularly religious, but I am deeply spiritual, in that I believe in an interconnected, shared energy and with the part of our Being that cannot necessarily be measured, seen, or physically touched. The most important habit for spiritual wellness is to hold space to commune with spirit, whatever that means to you. That might be in prayer or meditation, or it might be taking time to walk outside, look up at the sky, and be with the wonder of your own infinite greatness and smallness all at once. Another spiritual wellness habit is to look for ways to be of service in the world. Stewardship and service can be powerful access to our shared humanity and spiritual connection. Volunteer work and random acts of kindness can all help cultivate spiritual wellness. Lastly, examine your relationship to “surrender”. Humans, especially high-performing ones, sometimes like to think we can control everything and everyone. We have the best of intentions, but white-knuckling our lives rarely leaves room for spirit. When you find yourself with the weight of the world on your shoulders, consider surrendering it to spirit, divine intelligence, collective consciousness — whatever term gives you access to remembering that this world is much bigger than you and what’s under your control. Surrender can be access to power within, if you’re willing to sacrifice the illusion of “power over”.
Do you have any particular thoughts about how being “in nature” can help us to cultivate spiritual wellness?
Being in nature, even if it’s your own backyard, helps cultivate your connection to the earth and to the shared ground of our miraculous humanity. To be simultaneously connected to your own feet on the ground while also being in the wonder of nature and divine design is to be with the full richness of humanity and divinity. Nature can provide much needed solace, solitude, and peace when we escape from our busy, noisy world. It’s a necessary reset for our body, mind, and spirit. Make sure to put down your phone and breathe it all in!
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.
EnQ: Energetic Intelligence! EnQ contains our EQ and IQ, plus so much more; it’s truly an all-encompassing intelligence, and while we are all innately born with it, we can raise and lower our EnQ with some specific practices that I introduce in my Tedx talk and in my books and articles. It’s the foundation of Soul Level life and leadership, and it is a framework that keeps leaders present to their own humanity, higher purpose, and a deep connection to themselves, other people, and spirit. EnQ is influenced and informed by ancient wisdom, chakra theory, neuroscience, ontological coaching, and psychology. My goal is to have EnQ: Energetic Intelligence become just as vital to business and leadership conversations as EQ (emotional intelligence) has become over the last few years.
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 🙂
Oprah! A powerful, purpose-driven female leader with ties to Nashville?! She’s my kinda gal! Her humility, grace, and glory are the epitome of living into one’s power and possibility. I think Oprah would absolutely get and get down with the concepts and practices of EnQ, AND I want to see her and Gayle groove their way to spiritual alignment in a Chakralesque class! If we can invite Dolly Parton to join us for dessert, too, that would be a dream.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
You can find me at www.kaceycardincoaching.com, and on FB, Instagram, LinkedIn, Medium, and Clubhouse. I have some spots open in an upcoming group coaching experience, and I’m booking organizational workshops and programs for 2021 and beyond as we speak, so please reach out. I’d love to hear what your wellness and leadership goals are in this rapidly transforming world of ours!
Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success.