There is an amplification of new opportunities. The challenges that are coming to the surface right now are inviting us to innovate and create necessary change. I have several clients that are moving forward with new offerings that they’ve wanted to launch for years, but haven’t had the time to do until now. I have other clients who are realizing that they need to release toxic clients, which is providing them space to bring in more ideal clients.
As a part of my series about the things we can do to remain hopeful and support each other during anxious times, I had the pleasure of interviewing Nicole Jackson Miller.
Nicole Jackson Miller is a leadership consultant for small business owners and managers. She helps leaders master their own management style to build thriving teams. Nicole brings her experience in managing million-dollar television projects, being a private pilot, growing a successful management agency, helping dozens of business owners scale and develop teams to support her clients in leading efficiently and with greater ease.
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?
I’ve wanted to be a manager since I was a kid. Not the typical “who do you want to be when you grow up” answer from a 12-year old, right? I remember my dad applying for managerial positions when I was young and since I looked up to him as a role model, I thought — “management must be for me too!”
In film school, when everyone else wanted to be a film Director, I wanted to be the Production Manager. After graduating, I worked for 8 years at two major television companies in New York City. My strength was my ability to understand and communicate with almost anyone to get projects completed — Operations, Finance, Accounting, Creative, Contractors.
After getting the entrepreneurial bug, I started my own Project Management Company supporting business owners with leading their people — their clients, their teams and most importantly, themselves.
Now I support B2B online service-based companies in scaling their businesses and teams to serve more people without sacrificing their own well-being.
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?
Yes, the book, “Dare to Lead,” by Brene Brown. One of my core beliefs about leadership is that we need to accept people for who they are: human beings.
As human beings we have different aspects of ourselves: physical, mental, emotional, social, spiritual. You can’t expect a team member to turn off one part of them during their “working hours” and then turn it back on later. It doesn’t work that way and will always backfire.
As leaders we must have the skills to handle both our own emotions in the workplace and also other people’s emotions too. This sometimes gets dicey because many people don’t know how to process their feelings, and then end up behaving poorly. For example, a manager gets angry and then starts yelling at a team member. Or a team member gets frustrated, doesn’t speak up and then makes passive aggressive comments later on.
So how do we manage the balance of allowing emotions in the workplace, while also setting boundaries around appropriate behaviors? In Dare to Lead, Brown shares great responses. For example, “I know this is a tough conversation. Being angry is ok. Yelling is not okay.”
Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. From your perspective can you help our readers to see the “Light at the End of the Tunnel”? Can you share your “5 Reasons To Be Hopeful During this Corona Crisis”? If you can, please share a story or example for each.
1. This is an opportunity to reflect and reprioritize. Earlier in the year, I was asked to speak in-person at a large event in Boston. After having some time to reflect on my life and priorities, and also taking into consideration current events and travel restrictions, I realized that even if the event went virtual or was rescheduled, it wasn’t the best fit for me and declined. It’s easy to automatically say “yes” to opportunities when you’re in the day-to-day grind. The crisis allowed me to press pause, evaluate, and be more intentional with my choices.
2. It’s reminding us what matters most. I run a mastermind program for B2B service providers that are growing their teams and businesses. During this crisis I was amazed by how much the community came together to support each other. Everyone was open, vulnerable, and honest. We had some of the best conversations both during calls and in our Facebook group. It reminded us all how important it is to build supportive relationships and have a strong community.
3. It’s helping to rekindle old relationships. Over the past few weeks I’ve had several “virtual hangouts” with family and friends that I haven’t talked to in years. Without in-person activities and the travel associated with it, it’s allowing me the time to reach out and reconnect with those I love. I’ve also had several connection calls with fellow business owners that I was putting off for months because of my schedule and travel.
4. It’s shining a light on what needs to be changed. One thing I’ve noticed, especially in business, is that if you had a problem before, that problem is likely going to be amplified right now. Let’s say a difficult team member, an unruly client, a broken business model.
The same goes for personal challenges. I’ve seen a lot of people, including myself, lean on unhealthy coping mechanisms to try to get comfortable in the chaos. Crisis has the ability to bring to the surface things we’ve been avoiding and allows us to address them head on.
5. There is an amplification of new opportunities. The challenges that are coming to the surface right now are inviting us to innovate and create necessary change. I have several clients that are moving forward with new offerings that they’ve wanted to launch for years, but haven’t had the time to do until now. I have other clients who are realizing that they need to release toxic clients, which is providing them space to bring in more ideal clients.
From your experience or research what are five steps that each of us can take to effectively offer support to those around us who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?
1. Practice self-care. And no, I’m not talking about taking a bubble bath or giving yourself an at home facial. Susan Weiss Berry, a mindfulness-based coach, defines self-care as paying attention to the present moment and responding. Ask yourself often: “What is the most important thing right now and how do I take good care of it?”
For example, it may be a walk, it may be a good cry, maybe it’s phoning a friend or family member, maybe it’s drinking more water. It might also be checking in with team, clients, peers, or reaching out to your mentors to be supported.
2. Manage your mind. Your thoughts about life’s circumstances have a direct impact on the results that you create in your business and life.
During times of massive change and uncertainty we’re going to have a lot of thoughts that create a lot of feelings. It’s important to be aware of them, take care to process them and then decide where we want to put our attention.
3. Create solutions. At the start of the day, write out any problem that you are facing. If you’re a business owner, it could be that you’re afraid your clients may cancel their services with you.
For each problem, write out three potential solutions. You can either go ahead and start implementing the solutions or run it past a colleague or mentor. This exercise shifts you from feeling out of control to back in the driver’s seat.
4. Give back. After you take care of your own needs and your own self-care, giving to others is sometimes the best medicine. Check in with a neighbor, consider offering extra value to a client, help out a coworker, send a quick note of encouragement to someone you love. These gestures, no matter how big or small, can make a big difference!
5. Learn to meditate. Even if it’s for 5 minutes a day. Close your eyes and gently place your attention on your breath. Whenever a thought comes to mind, notice it, and then gently come back to the breath. As someone with a history of anxiety, this simple and short practice has been a game changer!
What are the best resources you would suggest to a person who is feeling anxious?
Book: Real Happiness by Sharon Salzberg
App: Insight Timer Meditation for guided and non-guided meditation options.
Video Interview: Living Brave with Brene Brown and Oprah Winfrey
Podcast: Overcoming Anxiety by Brooke Castillo
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
“Imitate the trees. Learn to lose in order to recover, and remember that nothing stays the same for long, not even pain… Sit it out. Let it all pass. Let it go.” ― May Sarton
For most of my life, I’ve tried to control things. What other people thought about me, other people’s feelings, other people’s actions, outcomes of certain situations. This produced a lot of feelings of anxiety because I was trying to control things that were completely outside of my control.
This quote helped me to let go of holding on so tightly, which in turn, reduced my anxiety and allowed me to feel more grounded and whole.
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. 🙂
Teaching as many people as possible how to talk to each other in a way that’s productive and helpful.
What is the best way our readers can follow you online?
I’d love to connect with you on Instagram! My profile is: https://www.instagram.com/nicolejacksonmiller/
You can also listen to my podcast for small B2B service-based businesses called Scale Your Way. Check it out here: nicolejacksonmiller.com/podcast
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!