Keep it real. “Fake it ’til you make it” can be harmful advice. Pretending to be okay when you’re not is toxic. As humans, we all experience a wide range of emotions — that’s normal. Even the most positive people struggle sometimes. Being honest with yourself and others can help you navigate through the messy stuff in a healthy way rather than carrying the weight of feeling like you need to maintain a certain image or meet the unrealistic expectations others may hold for you.
As a part of my series about the “5 Things Anyone Can Do To Optimize Their Mental Wellness”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Lanette Pottle.
Lanette Pottle is the founder of Positivity Lady Enterprises. She is a wellbeing advocate and life & business coach who specializes in helping clients grow their businesses and careers without burning out. Lanette is a TEDx speaker, co-author of the #1 International Best-Seller, Success University For Women in Leadership, and author of Small Steps Big Impact: A Year of Simple Action to Transform Your Life. Her latest book, You Are A Success Magnet: Activate Your Power and Supercharge Your Results, is due out later this year. You can learn more about her work at www.lanettepottle.com
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?
Interestingly enough, I wasn’t looking for this career path; it found me.
I had no desire to start a business or change careers. As a human resource manager, I used my strengths for culture building, training, and development. It was work I loved and was grateful to work for a stable company and have a good-paying job with benefits.
One day I began reading a book that awakened something in me. The more I read the more I realized I was not living into my full potential — that I could make a bigger impact and have a more fulfilling life. I wasn’t sure exactly what that might look like for someone living in small town Maine, but it was the spark I used to elevate my work. I used my new passion as a catalyst for getting involved in community organizations as a way to give back. All of this was the precursor to the highest-performing years of my career… and also the reason what came next was so difficult to bear. I went from being on top of the world to plummeting into the depths of despair.
Massive change, chaos and conflict started swirling all around me — in my paid and volunteer roles. Every aspect of my professional life turned upside down; everything was thrown out of alignment with my values. I couldn’t even share what was stressing me out because the situations were confidential. Some days I made it home before I broke down into tears, others days I could only make it as far as the employee restroom before I fell apart. My normally optimistic outlook turned dark, and I didn’t like the person I was becoming.
In an effort to shift my energy, I decided to start an online community for other people like me who wanted more positivity in their lives. At the time, I had dial-up internet, wasn’t tech-savvy and didn’t understand social media, but I did it anyway. My motivation was fueled by the knowledge that whenever I show up for other people it helps me show up better for myself… and it worked!
The community grew to over 15,000 with people from 100+ counties. The whole experience gave me a newfound sense of purpose. When organizers invited me to speak and train at special events, I started thinking about how I could transition this experience from a charitable endeavor into a business — an exit plan from my corporate nightmare.
Without a clear idea or formal plan, I applied for an EIN and officially opened my business — Positivity Lady Enterprises. I wasn’t in a financial position where I felt I could leave my job but did negotiate a part-time salaried schedule to give me more flexibility.
Initially, I focused solely on offering workshops and retreats, planning them around my work schedule. Then I tested the waters with coaching and was quickly “hooked”, It resulted in being able to serve in a way that was as enriching to my life as it was to the clients I served.
I left my decades long HR career to grow my business full-time… and the rest, as they say, is history.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
Wow. It’s hard to single out one story as the most interesting but one of my favorites is a client story.
Emma hired me to help her grow her business. During our first call we worked through some foundational questions and one led to a surprising answer. She revealed that she had written a manuscript for a fiction novel a decade earlier but it had never been published. She had shopped it around to some traditional publishers, gotten good feedback, but no one picked it up.
The deeper our conversation went, the clearer it became that she had a lot of emotion invested in this. It was equally as clear she had strong opinions on why self-publishing was not a viable option for her to get her book out into the world.
Although the book wasn’t related to her business — or the specific reason she hired me — it was undeniable this was deeply important to her. As we talked further about why she’d written the book, I planted some seeds about the possibility of getting it to print. We explored bringing it into the scope of our work together. I had just published my first book so I had a lot of first-hand experience with the process. She was open to the idea, did some research, and decided she’d like to move ahead with including it in our areas of focus.
In the course of a few short months, not only did she reach her financial goal of doubling her income in a way that felt good to her, she published the book she’d written a decade earlier. (She’s since gone on to publish two additional books with a third due out soon.)
This story shows the power of deep questions and challenging our beliefs. It’s the perfect demonstration of what is possible when we widen our perspectives. As Emma experienced, seemingly unrelated shifts in thinking can help us move through stubborn challenges that wear us out and hold us back. Bringing a long-held dream to life is energizing; it impacts every aspect of our lives, boosting our feelings of wellbeing in the process.
Can you share a story with us about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting? What lesson or take-away did you learn from that?
One time that still makes me chuckle is my first Facebook Live experience. It took a lot of effort to build up the courage to push that little “go live” button, but once I did I felt like a natural. I had a fun conversation, shared great tips that I had outlined in advance, and engaged with viewers. I felt totally in flow until it was time to wrap things up and say goodbye — that’s when I ran into a huge problem. I didn’t know how to end the broadcast! It took a full minute to figure it out but, as you can imagine, it felt like an eternity. All I could do is laugh at myself and keep talking as I continued to try and turn the video off.
Learning together is a powerful thing; this experience reinforced that for me. Being vulnerable and sharing our humanity with others is one of the most empowering things we can do. People told me they went live because they saw me do it imperfectly… not because they had the expertise or felt ready but they knew they didn’t have to have it all figured out to move forward; they’d seen what that looked like to take messy action and continue to thrive.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I have been blessed to have many professional role models and mentors but I have to say, I likely wouldn’t be on this path had it not been for my son calling me from college one day saying, “Mom! You’ve got to read this book!” Beyond the profound lessons I learned through reading that book, it represented a full-circle moment for me. You see, I learned I was pregnant with my son at age 17. In that moment I let go of all my dreams — including attending college. But here we were, 20 years later, him attending his dream college, introducing me to the concepts that ultimately changed the trajectory of my life. It led me to dream — and do — bigger things than I’d previously thought possible.
What advice would you suggest to your colleagues in your industry to thrive and avoid burnout?
My best advice is to schedule white space in your calendar and protect it fiercely. Prioritizing rest and recharge periods is essential. Take micro-breaks focused on giving your mind, body, and spirit the nurturing it requires to operate optimally. Consciously focus on developing a rest ethic to match your work ethic and you are sure to thrive.
What advice would you give to other leaders about how to create a fantastic work culture?
A fantastic culture isn’t developed by talking about it in meetings and tucking it into your onboarding materials. Culture isn’t a box to be checked; it is a set of values and behaviors to be lived at every level of an organization. It’s essential to actively model the culture you want to see. Be present, approachable, and inclusive. Listen, don’t assume. Celebrate every individual for the strengths and value they bring to the team. That becomes easier when you make hiring decisions that consider culture fit from the beginning.
Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. Mental health is often looked at in binary terms; those who are healthy and those who have mental illness. The truth, however, is that mental wellness is a huge spectrum. Even those who are “mentally healthy” can still improve their mental wellness. From your experience or research, what are five steps that each of us can take to improve or optimize our mental wellness. Can you please share a story or example for each.
- Nurture your relationships. Prioritizing meaningful time with people you care about is a form of self-care. Investing in relationships in all areas of your life helps to provide you with a well-rounded support system. too. Sometimes nurturing includes being in each other’s physical presence; other times it might be a well-timed, thoughtful note of support. Tune into what’s important to the other person and find ways to incorporate that into your communications. Relationships grow when you take a sincere interest and are emotionally present. The connection you build in the process is a key component of wellbeing.
- Create healthy boundaries. Protect your time, energy and peace of mind. Know your limits and communicate them clearly — without guilt. Make your decisions in a way that honors the quality of life you desire. For instance, I value distraction-free time at the dinner table; besides eating, it’s a time for connection. The boundary set to support this in our home is not having devices at the table. We don’t answer calls or incoming messages until after we’ve finished our meal. If we have guests, we share this expectation with them, too.
- Be present. It’s easy to get stuck in your head worrying about what’s next. You can disrupt this pattern by noticing little things and savoring those moments. Shift your focus to what’s going on around you right now — the sights, the sounds, the smells. When you’re “in the now” you’re not replaying the past or speculating on the future. Being mindful of the moment you’re in is a way to reduce potentially anxiety-ridden thoughts and create more space for joy.
- Celebrate small wins. You may not be accomplishing things as quickly as you’d like, but when you take time to acknowledge your progress, it triggers the release of ‘feel-good’ chemicals in your brain. That creates positive emotion. Celebration doesn’t have to be extravagant or cost anything; it’s more about being intentional. Acknowledging your efforts by sharing with a friend is a celebration — so is cranking up your favorite playlist and dancing it out in your office or leisurely sipping tea in your favorite mug or picking flowers from your garden or dressing up in an outfit that you normally save for special occasions. You set the parameters around what feels like a celebration to you. The important thing is to consistently make it a part of your routine.
- Keep it real. “Fake it ’til you make it” can be harmful advice. Pretending to be okay when you’re not is toxic. As humans, we all experience a wide range of emotions — that’s normal. Even the most positive people struggle sometimes. Being honest with yourself and others can help you navigate through the messy stuff in a healthy way rather than carrying the weight of feeling like you need to maintain a certain image or meet the unrealistic expectations others may hold for you.
Much of my expertise focuses on helping people to plan for after retirement. Retirement is a dramatic ‘life course transition’ that can impact one’s health. In addition to the ideas you mentioned earlier, are there things that one should do to optimize mental wellness after retirement? Please share a story or an example for each.
While often celebrated as the achievement of a life-long goal, studies tell us retirement can also be one of the top ten most stressful times in our lives. One way to minimize that impact is to stay connected to something bigger than yourself… something that feels full of meaning and purpose.
This could be anything from volunteering with an organization that supports a cause you care about to starting your own business. It might even be writing a book, serving as a mentor, or sharing your expertise in an educational setting. Remind yourself that just because you left your job or career doesn’t mean you left your lifetime of experience behind with it. You have much to contribute!
There are a multitude of things you could choose to do; the key is tapping into the thing that lights you up. Consider the things you always wanted to do but never could find the time to pursue. Bottom line? Staying engaged with things that bring you joy and provide some form of consistent structure will be a huge step in elevating mental wellness after retirement.
How about teens and pre-teens. Are there any specific new ideas you would suggest for teens and pre-teens to optimize their mental wellness?
These aren’t “new” ideas but bear repeating. These actions will support people of any age but are particularly powerful for this age group.
Spend time with a furry friend. Enjoy the companionship and unconditional love a pet provides.
Take regular social media detox days. Step back from the noise of the online world to get grounded.
Talk openly about how you feel with a trusted friend, family member, or mentor. When we don’t share, we can experience feelings of isolation even when we are surrounded by people. Acknowledge, rather than mask, your true feelings.
Laugh… a lot. Seek out people and experiences that help you see the funny — from cute cat videos to comedy shows to laughter yoga, do things that help brighten your mood, make you smile, and have a good belly laugh. A cool thing about laughter is that it’s an exception to the rule — faking laughter can give you the benefits of the real thing (so start there if you need to) Your brain doesn’t know the difference between real and fake when it comes to laughing; it releases feel-good chemicals for both.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story?
This one is easy! I’ve bought and read hundreds of personal development books. I happily loan them all out except for one: The Success Principles by Jack Canfield. It’s the book I’ve alluded to throughout this interview. There are so many highlighted passages and notes jotted in the margins of my book from years of use that I would never risk losing them. I’ve referenced and written in it so frequently it’s like a diary of my personal growth journey.
Principle One in this book is Take 100% Responsibility for Your Life — and it just gets better from there. It helped me to recognize where I had placed limiting beliefs on myself. I was always trying to prove myself because of my disadvantaged past. This book helped me see I was already “enough”. The work allowed me to see where I was arguing my limitations and how I was the one standing in my own way. By believing in myself, not only could I enhance the quality of my life — and that of my family — but also empower others in a meaningful way. It helped me dream bigger and take bolder action than I ever would have imagined.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I envision a movement where women are fully supported in prioritizing their wellbeing, pursuing audacious goals, and stepping into their highest potential. When this happens not only does that woman rise, but also her contributions are shared. It starts a ripple effect that elevates every person, community, and organization she touches.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
“I know things you do not, you know things I do not; together we can do great things.”
— Mother Teresa
This quote has become a motto for my life. It represents the fact that I don’t need to know everything — and neither do you. Each of us brings knowledge, skills, talents, and life experiences to every situation. When we join forces, we bring the best of both of us to the work at hand.
While time and experience have shown me that the most meaningful results and creative solutions are born out of collaboration, it’s not something I always practiced or believed.
Early in my career, I wanted to be the one who had all the answers. I was so caught up in my own stories of what I thought I needed to do to be valued, I didn’t see how flawed my thinking was. I didn’t recognize that I was robbing myself of the opportunity to learn and grow, robbing others of the opportunity to contribute, and robbing the organization of the best possible outcomes.
Thankfully, I came to a place of understanding that shining a light on the brilliance of others does not diminish mine, it strengthens it… and elevates all that we can accomplish together. Keeping Mother Teresa’s quote front and center reminds me of how far I’ve come and to never miss an opportunity to partner with others in the service of great work.
What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?
Thanks for asking. I’m most active on Instagram and can also be found on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Clubhouse. My handle everywhere is @lanettepottle.
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!