Keep Close to Faith and Hope — You can’t see the beauty on the other side of the challenges. You will need to lean on your faith and hope that things will improve and that there are new beginnings ahead.
There is Beauty in These Ashes — You may feel overwhelmed, fearful, sad, or isolated. These are not easy times. It is so important to find the joy and beauty in life, no matter how small. This is what will be your life vest so that you don’t flounder or drown.
The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. Many of us now have new challenges that come with working from home, homeschooling, and sheltering in place.
As a part of my series about how busy women leaders are addressing these new needs, I had the pleasure of interviewing Phyllis Reagin.
Phyllis Reagin, Founder of At the Coach’s Table, is a doctoral trained Leadership Coach, specializing in high-performance leadership strategies. A former leader of a Fortune 500 entertainment/media company, she has coached thousands of leaders to lead with greater influence, meaning, and impact.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, 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 have loved both Psychology and business but was never quite sure how the two could merge as a career. After a few roles in marketing and communications, I found a great fit with leadership development and diversity and inclusion. In those functions, I have held leadership roles for a Fortune 500 Entertainment/Media company and several healthcare organizations. Fast forward ten years and I have founded At the Coach’s Table, a leadership coaching and diversity, equity, and inclusion consulting firm along with RJH productions, a multimedia leadership development production company. Over the course of ten years, I have coached thousands of leaders, mostly emerging leaders, guiding them with leading for greater meaning, influence, and impact. I have also helped businesses of varying sizes create diverse and inclusive cultures.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started at your company?
The most interesting story are the stories of that each of my team members bring to the business. It is so exciting and invigorating to have people of vastly different age groups working together. The mix of fresh perspectives with experience is what makes my company feel special. No one is afraid to speak their minds either. This is a company of true passion and a real commitment to our clients. I wake up each day, excited to hear different perspectives and opinions.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
I am working multiple exciting projects and am thankful to have a fantastic team helping to bring them to fruition. In August, we are launching my “Leading during Uncertainty” group coaching program. The group coaching is for emerging leaders interested in leading during these unusual and challenging times. The focus of the group coaching will be help leaders to reduce their stress, prepare them to lead as resilient and bold leaders, to use creativity to innovate, to empathically lead diverse employees, to build better habits, to improve their focus and productivity, and to lead with clarity and meaning for optimum impact.
During the Fall, we will launch my new podcast, At the Coach’s Table, where I will interview people of color who are leading with great impact in the Entertainment/Media industry. Listeners will hear from dynamic leaders that be unknowns and hear about what they are doing right now but also about their amazing journeys.
Also, in the Fall, we are launching my daily talk show on YouTube. It will be 10 minutes of focused leadership strategies that will leave you ready to manage the day, tackle challenges, and keep your own growth in focus.
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?
There have been so many wonderful people along my path, that cared enough to share their knowledge with me and to cheer me on. The person who had the most profound impact, outside of my parents, was my high school Speech and Debate coach, James Caforio. In high school, I was unsure of myself and didn’t know what was special about me. He recognized my abilities and encouraged me to be my best. He is the model of a great coach, an encourager and one who stretches you to grow in ways you could not imagine. Due to his kindness and support, I felt confident throughout my undergraduate and graduate education and as I began my career. He always told me that what mattered in life is not always having the answers, but being humble enough to say you don’t know and curious enough to go find them.
The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. Can you articulate to our readers what are the biggest family related challenges you are facing as a woman business leader during this pandemic?
Prior to Covid-19, my husband and I already worked from our home office and our teenager attends a virtual school. So, we didn’t experience the disturbances to work-home life like so many other professionals have had to contend with. However, the challenge was not having any external outlets. I had a great routine of breaking up the day with running errands, having lunch meetings at restaurants, or taking our son on fieldtrips. To now being confined to our home has certainly been challenging. I became aware that the days bleed into each other, making life a little colorless. I found the lack of stimuli negatively impacting my creativity.
Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
Over the past few months, I discovered ways to make my days feels unique and to stimulate my creativity. I now take daily “mindfulness” walks where I just notice nature and distance myself from my thoughts. I also created zones in my home. I have a creative zone for just working, a physical zone for exercising, an entertainment zone for reading or watching television, and a sleep zone just for rest. Creating these zones have helped me to feel stimulated by the variety and it has improved my focus and productivity.
Can you share the biggest work-related challenges you are facing as a woman in business during this pandemic?
The greatest challenge I am experiencing is wanting to now perform each role 100 percent. Those roles being CEO, cook, teacher, and the entertainment director! For some reason, the pandemic made me feel like I needed to be all those roles. Early on, I realized how I had set unachievable expectations and it was leaving me stressed. No one was even expecting that from me, but I felt like I needed to show up bigger and better to help everyone else manage the uncertainty and changes. It only left me burnt out and unhappy.
Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
I adopted the multi-ask not multi-task approach. I have since relinquished some of those roles and for those that I have taken on, I no longer expect that I can do them all at 100 percent. Due to this change of approach and mindset, I feel energized, focused, and positive.
Can you share your advice about how to best work from home, while balancing the needs of homeschooling or the needs of a family?
Working from home requires a lot of self-compassion. This is a challenging and uncharted time. It is about figuring it out, being OK not to get it right, and trying again. It most likely won’t be perfect and there will be more bumps then smooth sailing. It is important to give yourself grace right now. Just set the intention of showing up as your best self and then put aside the belief that you need to balance life perfectly.
Can you share your strategies about how to stay sane and serene while sheltering in place, or simply staying inside, for long periods with your family?
I encourage the professionals I coach, to create a team with their family just as they would with their work team. Team expectations need to be set, roles and responsibilities clearly established, and team norms defined. With my family, we even created family team values and a mantra. Having a “family team” makes everyone feels connected to something bigger than themselves and creates a family culture that feels special.
Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have understandably 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.
- You Can Do Hard Things — I remind my clients that they have faced hard times before and made it through. It’s important to remember what you have overcome so that you know you have certain strengths and abilities to make it through the challenges of Covid-19.
- Don’t Put a Stake in The Valley — Keep putting one foot in front of the other. Don’t put in a stake in this valley and stop. Keep your thoughts and actions on moving ahead. You are not to stop in the problems but to use them to launch toward the solutions.
- Keep Close to Faith and Hope — You can’t see the beauty on the other side of the challenges. You will need to lean on your faith and hope that things will improve and that there are new beginnings ahead.
- There is Beauty in These Ashes — You may feel overwhelmed, fearful, sad, or isolated. These are not easy times. It is so important to find the joy and beauty in life, no matter how small. This is what will be your life vest so that you don’t flounder or drown.
- Do It Afraid — Living with unknowns can produce fear, stopping you from living fully. To move forward, you will need to do it afraid. Take one unstable step after another. Breath. Keep going. The fear will not dissipate but your courage to continue will grow.
From your experience, what are a few ideas that one can use to effectively offer support to their family and loved ones who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?
You can support your family by checking in with each other, being open and vulnerable about their challenges, and working together to figure out what is helpful to each person. You can support your family by also establishing and practicing healthy habits which can reduce stress and anxious feelings. If you notice that a family member is having difficulty with anxious feelings or prolonged sadness, then you can seek out mental health resources from your company or find an online mental health counselor. More then ever, attention needs to be paid to everyone’s mental health and to promote a family environment that is open to discussing it.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
My favorite life quote is by Diane Ackerman, “I don’t want to get to the end of my life and find that I just lived the length of it. I want to live the width of it as well.” This quote is how I live my life every day. I came to understand the meaning and importance of it after I lost my Husband to an aggressive Cancer while being 8-months pregnant. Life was daunting and uncertain. I could feel the pull to live life small because to live full out would mean facing many mountains that I had not traversed before. I remembered that my Husband had lived a big and “to the edges” type of life and had died content with no regrets. I knew that was the kind of life I wanted to live. This quote represents that commitment to my life.
How can our readers follow you online?
They can follow @CoachPhyllisR on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!