Know, Own + Live your values. As human beings, we’re a walking, talking, living, breathing set of values. And so are our companies! When we have the language to understand what intrinsically motivates us, we can develop the emotional intelligence to purposefully activate our values each day and hold ourselves (and others) lovingly accountable when we don’t.
Values x Behavior = Culture
As a part of my series about leaders who integrate mindfulness and spiritual practices into their work culture, I had the pleasure of interviewing MaryBeth Hyland.
MaryBeth Hyland has been practicing and teaching mindfulness for nearly a decade as a result of seeking freedom from a debilitating work addiction and health issues. Her mindfulness journey saved her from a life of internal chaos and not-enough-ness, ultimately empowering her to build an entire business around it. It is through her personal journey and the teachings of the gurus before her that she now leads trainings, workshops, and 1:1 coaching around Mindful Leadership globally. She has spoken on her passion of “Values-Based Mindfulness” alongside world-renowned experts like Deepak Chopra and just recently finished her manuscript on that very topic as it relates to workplace wellness and culture. She teaches on the meditation platform, Insight Timer with thousands of students enrolled in her “Knowing and Living Your Values” programming world-wide. MaryBeth guides people to learn how to slow down to get ahead so each day begins and ends feeling fulfilled, not drained.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you please share your “backstory” with us?
I was diagnosed with a work addiction 6 years ago.
Typically when I make this pronouncement, people are slightly taken aback. First, they usually don’t realize it can be clinically diagnosed, so that’s being processed. And then secondly, they want to know…Do I have a work addiction, too?
I make my statement with a slight tinge of discomfort from my past, but mostly pride that I have made extremely positive progress in re-thinking and re-designing what “success” and the correlated “work” looked like and meant for me. There was no quick transition, but it started by realizing that I had a problem.
Unlike more commonly thought of addictions, my workaholic behaviors were rewarded, made me seem like a super-achiever and earned me praise and positive attention. It wasn’t until my husband pointed it out, that I realized how unhealthy my life had become.
My routine looked something like this:
- Head into the office at 8:30 am
- Work non-stop all day until 6:00 pm (including responding to emails at traffic lights + multi-tasking through each item of the day)
- Attend or host an evening networking event until 8:00 or 9:00 pm
- Come home and say Hi to my husband, eat at my computer and finish up more work until 11:00 pm
- Fall asleep on the couch until 2:00 am
- Wake up with racing thoughts on all the work I needed to accomplish and go back to work until 4:00 am
- Fall asleep again on the couch until 6:00 am
- Work for a couple of hours before going into the office at 8:30 am
It wasn’t until one morning when I had broken this routine, and I actually made it into bed, that when my husband woke up at 5:00 am, rolled over and said to me “It’s so nice to see you.”
What did he mean? I SEE him all the time. But really, I didn’t. I was so busy with work I rarely even saw him when I was at home. It was his kind and loving words that made me realize: I have a problem.
Since I didn’t know how to help myself, I started to go to mindfulness-based psychodynamic therapy to un-learn all the bad habits that were ingrained in me from my work addiction. The process of slowing down, creating a healthier relationship to time and sense of urgency were the beginning stages of slowly and gently meeting myself where I was to start to make small tweaks each day that would ultimately shift my entire sense of well-being.
What role did mindfulness or spiritual practice play in your life growing up? Do you have a funny or touching story about that?
Mindfulness and spirituality only came to me in the past decade of my life.
I remember when my therapist and I first started working together and she asked me if I had any spiritual practices. I basically told her to never bring that up again because it was not something I was interested in. I shut it down hard and fast. And that’s because I didn’t know the difference between spirituality and religion. And to me that was based on guilt and feelings of not being good enough, so I didn’t want anything to do with it.
In the past 2 years, my spiritual practice has been a part of my daily rituals, self-care and ability to enjoy the fullness of life. It was after a powerful plant medicine (Ayahuasa) retreat that I was able to see clearly that we are spiritual beings, being taught to suppress that side of us through common societal domestication. I now know that our only purpose in life is to be a vessel of love and light and everything else is made up. Plain and simple.
Since that experience I have gone down and intentional path of practicing and studying the ways of the shaman to grow and nurture my spirituality. I’ve found that without spirituality you can only reach a certain point of well-being and purpose in your life. And now that I have it, I’m so hungry for more!
How do your mindfulness or spiritual practices affect your business and personal life today?
Both impact my business and personal life immensely.
As an entrepreneur, it is integral to my success that I consciously investigate the present moment through a mindful lens. That framework has been a significant part of being able to create trust, psychological safety and connection between me and my clients.
I meditate 1–3 times daily, combined with breath work and time in nature. And while that may seem like my personal life, these rituals are the reason I have a sense of personal alignment and well-being. They are what gives me the clear head and open heart to be able to give others my best, especially during this pandemic when things can easily feel chaotic.
I now teach mindfulness to leaders through workshops, 1:1 coaching and retreats. Our “Slow Down to Get Ahead: Become a Mindful Leader” series has been such a powerful and rewarding way to teach the basics of mindfulness to anyone who’s open to the message. Hearing people leave with a new sense of empowerment, calmness and healthier well-being has been the most rewarding work of all.
Do you find that you are more successful or less successful because of your integration of spiritual and mindful practices? Can you share an example or story about that with us?
I am the most successful I’ve ever been as a result of integrating mindfulness and spiritual practices in my life. And that’s not an over-statement, it’s the truth.
First, we must begin with the concept of “success”. To most of us in the United States, success is measured by money, possessions, titles, accolades, looks, and reputation. And those were the metrics I was using for my own sense of self-worth before mindfulness and spirituality became a part of my life. It was those metrics that were crushing my soul and sense of wellbeing. It was never going to be enough, and therefore I was never going to be enough.
Mindfulness is what made me realize that I only have this present moment. Everything else is not promised or even real. So why would I measure my success by metrics that did not resonate with my soul? As soon as I started to realize that I got to make that choice, it immediately had an impact on all areas of my life.
And since having a spiritual awakening 2 years ago, I can proudly say that my husband now works with me full time and we have a business that is thriving (nearly tripling in revenue) during a global pandemic. Every single day is filled with love and curiosity and opportunity.
Every morning, before my feet hit the floor I set the intention, “I will be a vessel of love and light.” And if I can look myself in the mirror and say with confidence that I did that today, then I was the greatest success in the world.
What would you say is the foundational principle for one to “lead a good life”? Can you share a story that illustrates that?
The foundational principle for one to lead a good life is to recognize that the definition for “a good life” is unique to each of us. So don’t try to lead someone else’s ideals of a good life, get clear on your values and lead the life that reflects what matters most to YOU!
Much like the question about success, we are often creating a life based on other people’s opinions and desire for approval. So for me, leading a good life means that my core values are a part of every day in my wide-range of activities.
For example, my core values are Unity with Nature, Authenticity, and Inner Harmony. And they are front and center every time I make a choice on where to invest my time and energy. I recently made a point to horseback ride every Wednesday morning because it gives me a power charge on all three of these values.
When I leave an hour after being connected with a magnificent beast, communicating to her with my energy and intentions, I feel an incredible level of being fully in alignment that then carries throughout my entire week. That one hour literally generations thousands of positive engagements that follow because of my own sense of personal alignment, which was made a priority in order to better serve myself and everyone around me.
Can you share a story about one of the most impactful moments in your spiritual/mindful life?
One of the most impactful moments of my spiritual life was when I realized that I could harness the law of attraction through my energy, thoughts and behaviors. I had heard about the concepts behind the law of attraction, but not how they applied to me.
After nearly 3 months of a debilitating physical trauma, I was using the song, “In Dreams” by Jai Jagdeesh as my daily practice to self-sooth. The words of the song felt like balm on my soul to keep me grounded and well through a time that I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to make it through. I likely listened to it between 5–10 times a day when I was in my peek moments of physical pain.
After surgery and being on the road to full recovery, my husband said, “You’re never going to believe this but Jai is coming to Baltimore. To the studio where you just started to practice in before you were hurt!”
To give you an idea of how powerful this is, Jai is a world-renowned spiritual signer whose tour schedule was all over Europe and Asia when I had checked. The fact that she was coming to our local studio felt like a dream.
When I arrived for her session, I went up to her to tell her how her words were literally the one thing that had helped me make it through. I couldn’t believe I was actually meeting her in person, able to tell her what her music meant to me on a deep level of healing.
As the final song, she sang In Dreams. My whole body shook and tears of love and possibility streamed down my eyes as I laid on the floor taking it all in. When I went up to thank her at the end, she told me that she was holding me in her heart as she sang that song directly to me. I was so hard to comprehend in the moment but I was filled with so much love.
Now I know that no matter how extreme or impossible something may seem, you can literally attract it into your life when you make it your focus. This is one of now thousands of examples I can now share about these types of practices.
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?
My therapist, Dr. LaShaun Williams, has made the greatest impact on my mindful journey. She was the first person to work with me to learn how to slow down and control my thoughts. To realize I had more power than I was owning and that my past was a beautiful part of what made me who I am today, bruises and all. There are dozens of stories I could share about her here, but one that stands out is when she made me realize that I had choices every day. Choices around where and who I was giving my attention and energy to.
I remember sharing with her how this one person “ruined the whole experience” because of their behavior. I made that statement after sharing with her all these lovely events that happened leading up to that moment. She looked at me straight on and said, “So why are you choosing to allow that one moment take away from the great things that happened leading up to it?”
No one had ever called me out so directly and clearly. It was absolutely my choice. What I give my attention to, where I invest my energy, whether or not I take something personally, they are all choices! And with mindfulness, we can make those choices with greater intention and grounding.
Can you share 3 or 4 pieces of advice about how leaders can create a very “healthy and uplifting” work culture?
- Know, Own + Live your values. As human beings, we’re a walking, talking, living, breathing set of values. And so are our companies! When we have the language to understand what intrinsically motivates us, we can develop the emotional intelligence to purposefully activate our values each day and hold ourselves (and others) lovingly accountable when we don’t.
Values x Behavior = Culture
So when you’re crystal clear on the values you want to harness to culture, companies can create systems, processes and code of conduct that reflects the behaviors of those values and therefore the day-to-day norms and expectations.
- Set Intentions. Before you start a new project, have a team meeting or even a 1:1 phone call, be clear on WHY you’re doing it! By simply saying something like, “the intention of this conversation is to get clear on next steps” you can invite others to agree or add another intention to be clear that you’re all on the same page.
Expectations — Agreement = Disappointment
So when you have clear intentions, you are creating clear expectations on the direction you’re headed and can create meaningful connection, buy-in and sense of belonging.
For example, whenever I mediate between two parties who aren’t getting along, I start by asking each of them to share their intentions for why we’re having this conversation. Typically, people say something like, “to feel heard and be able to move forward.” So when we go around and state these, it immediately calms the space and allows people to recognize that they really want the same things!
Intentions are powerful in so many areas of creating a healthy workplace culture.
- Give Permission to be Human. It’s true that some people cross the line and need to be removed from the company because of toxic behavior. It’s also true that most people are going to have a bad day, mess up, fail miserably or be pissed from time to time. If that behavior is out of character for someone, let’s give them permission to be human.
When we can take appropriate steps to check in, meet people where they are, and support them in getting back into alignment, so many blow ups and bigger issues can be resolved before they get to a breaking point.
9/10 times that person needs to be heard and valued for what they shared. When we can create workplace environments where people are equipped to have those conversations, we can empower our people to be Culture Keepers every single day.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire 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. 🙂
My life’s goal is to develop a Values-based Mindfulness movement. Values-based Mindfulness is a term I created that’s defined as the act of consciously honoring your core belief by translating them into intentional behaviors and actions that result in a greater sense of authenticity and well-being.
We don’t just wake up with a sense of purpose, connection, and alignment every day. But when we can slow down enough to be intentional about where we invest our energy and time, every single one of us has the power to active our best lives and inspire others to do the same!
How can people follow you and find out more about you?
I’m most active on linkedin — they can follow or connect with me there at https://www.linkedin.com/in/marybethhyland/. They can also participate in any of my talks or guided mindfulness practices on Insight Timer: https://insighttimer.com/marybeth.hyland. Or learn more about my work through our website www.sparkvisionnow.com.