Stop Fearing Change! This is huge. Change is real and so is fear. Scientifically, fear is a real thing. If we teach them that fear is teaching them to wake up and live presently. It’s like a wake up call to listen and trust their gut.
As a part of my series about the “5 Things Anyone Can Do To Optimize Their Mental Wellness” I had the pleasure of interviewing Robin Joy Meyers.
TEDx Speaker, Fear Strategist, Author, Mentor and Molecular Geneticist Robin Joy Meyers educates and empowers thousands of women all over the world to claim their voices and create their best lives. She specializes in science-based strategies and techniques for self-awareness, mindset, leadership, balance/boundaries and the positive power of fear to empower women with tools to change your mindset and limiting beliefs that can be put into action immediately. As an expert in life transitions, Robin Joy recognizes that living a life without fear isn’t realistic, however her unique approach to fear management provides a fresh and effective method to self-improvement.
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?
Thank you for this opportunity. I grew up just outside of New York City and went to college in Ohio with the dream of going to Medical School. When that did not work out, I decided to get my graduate degree which ended up being a Master’s in Molecular Genetics from Case Western Reserve in Cleveland, Ohio. I was a shy, timid person rather scared of my own shadow. A professional people pleaser, I focused on my school work. I enjoyed working in the lab, because I didn’t really need to speak. I could be quiet and busy with running my DNA Sequencing gels. Since I didn’t have a social life, I was the go-to person to check on experiments late night or early morning for the lab. During this time my mother was diagnosed with cancer and subsequently passed away in September 1988. So, I decided to finish at my Master’s and graduate January 1989. She was 53 and I was 21 yrs. old. I went from quiet and shy to lonely, alone and depressed.
I met my boyfriend, later husband, and moved to the Washington DC area where we married a couple years later and started a family. I was a stay-at-home mother of three for 18 years, and then went back into the corporate world. I taught high school Biology, Tutor, Corporate Trainer, and Director of Education for a non-profit organization working with schools. As time passed, I was everybody’s everything, yet still was living in a shell hiding and feeling isolated. As I approached my 53rd birthday, my daughter turned 21, which was the exact age that I was when my mother died. It was a wakeup call for me. A sense of mortality came over me, so I went on a self-awareness journey to find out who Robin Joy Meyers was.
What I discovered is that I was a woman who had a voice and mission. To empower women all over the world to create the life that they want. As women we are nurturers and tend to put our needs last, which I did for 53 years. I was going to be an advocate, educator and mentor so I went into coaching certifications, mindfulness-based stress reduction certification, and leadership empowerment training.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
Just recently a woman reached out to me via FaceBook and we set up a time to have a conversation. To my surprise she was involved in The Human Genome Project when I was at National Institutes of Health and Genetic Therapy Inc as well as was a customer when I had my first sales job after I left the laboratory selling disposable DNA purification columns. We spoke about the science; how it has changed; Being a woman in a male-dominated industry at that time and more. Absolutely fascinating. We are going back to the 1980’s.
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?
When I first started coaching, part of the certification process was to log 100 hours of coaching at a reduced fee to get started. Sometimes family and friends are not your greatest business partners. They gave me several references, which was fantastic, however I did much more than 100 pro bono work. In hindsight I just became a better, more seasoned coach.
My take-away is that when you ask “friends & family” for help, be very specific is exactly what you need and what you are looking for.
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 always had a vision of offering women’s retreats even when I was getting started. 2019 was the year that it was time for this vision to come to fruition. I am so thankful to my friend, colleague and travel partner Leslie Ender of StreetView Adventure Travel for partnering to make this vision come true. In October 2019 we had taken 8 women to Italy, which included an amazing property in Tuscany, trips to Florence, Sienna, Rada, and San Gimignano.
Travel allows one to get away from their daily routine and environment and submerse themselves into an experience where we create a caring, nurturing, beautiful environment and experiences. Leslie handled all the travel logistics impeccable which allowed me to focus on taking these women on a journey of self-discovery using my F.E.A.R. Method (Forgive, Emerge, Accept, and Resolve). I am so looking forward to 4 retreats in 2020 at amazing locations.
What advice would you suggest to your colleagues in your industry to thrive and avoid burnout?
As an entrepreneur I am asked about burnout all the time. It is an interesting balance, because the success of our business is in our hands, and usually we don’t have support of a team. Thats why I encourage my colleagues, and I do this as well, to truly make fantastic use of our calendars. It is so important to build in time for exercise, coffee, lunch, etc. Block scheduling works great, and you truly need to schedule time with yourself just like an appointment with a client. By taking breaks I find that I work more efficiently.
What advice would you give to other leaders about how to create a fantastic work culture?
I think it is so important for leaders to lead by example. I also think that they need to truly listen to ideas and be inclusive. To have a fantastic work culture people need to feel like they are trusted and that their ideas matter. I like to look at it as if everyone has an ownership in the business and are given more of an entrepreneurial role. This way they assume more responsibility willingly. I recently had a discussion with a friend who is CEO of a Fortune 500. He was telling me how frustrating it is to have a sales team of millennials. Aside from laughing, I encouraged him to allow his team to express their ideas, and take ownership for those ideas. He has found that they are much more excited and efficient with their work.
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.
Mental Wellness is a state of mind that can always be improved. Five steps that I believe can be taken towards improving one’s mental wellness is as follows:
1. Set Your Non-Negotiables & Boundaries — Stop overthinking and live by your golden rules at home and in the boardroom. Learn to trust your instincts.
2. Living in the Past — The past is the past, so use it, learn from it both the good and the bad. Understand if there was a pattern that no longer serves you at this stage of life and let it go. For example the science of fear shows that imprints of all fears of our lives are stored in the Amygdala of the brain. When I was young, I was incredibly shy. Since I am a public speaker, that no longer serves me.
3. Self-Awareness — Take time every morning to start the journey of self-awareness. I begin teaching my clients to start with 5 minutes. If you like to meditate, do yoga, write morning pages or just sip coffee, it doesn’t matter. These 5 minutes are just for you in your space. Ask yourself two questions: “How Do I Want To Feel Today?” And “What Do I Need To Happen Today?” I use this morning routine everyday, however if you can start with three morning this coming week, thats great. Repeat that the following week and work up to five days a week.
4. Trying to Please Everyone — Stop overthinking about what others may think. You cannot be everyone’s volunteer and you are unique. Just be a good and kind person, and if someone is annoyed by that then so be it.
5. Stop Apologizing — For example I used to always apologize even walking down the streets of NYC. Even if someone was walking straight into me, I would move toward the side and apologize for being in front of them on the sidewalk. One day I decided to do my own experiment, hold my tongue and see if people would side step for me. I actually had 3 out of 5 people walk straight into me. Can you believe that. 2 were on their cellphones, however the third was actually annoyed at me. She told me that I should have moved!
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.
To optimize mental wellness after retirement it is important to stay as busy as you want and challenge yourself. For example schedule lunch or dinner with friends that you haven’t seen in a while. Go take an art class or do something that you have always wanted to do, yet haven’t had the time for because you were always too busy working. I suggest keeping a calendar and scheduling in your time for your activities just like you would a business meeting.
It’s important that although you are retired you aren’t lonely or isolated. Loneliness is of epidemic proportions and affect many in their late 80’s. That’s why it’s important to exercise your body and brain.
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?
The pre-teen and teen years are certainly not the easiest of times. I have three children of my own who are now 23, 25, and 28 yrs old. I think in order to help them optimize their mental health, we need to first advocate that every child has a gift. Our schools need to find a way to allow for more creative time to foster ideas and teach life skills and not just teach for a test. Other ideas:
1. Do not live in the past. No matter how hard one day may have been, a new day starts tomorrow.
2. Limit screen time. Let’s teach them to communicate, play games with people and not compare themselves to anyone but themselves.
3. Stop Fearing Change! This is huge. Change is real and so is fear. Scientifically, fear is a real thing. If we teach them that fear is teaching them to wake up and live presently. It’s like a wake up call to listen and trust their gut.
4. Turn Obstacles into Opportunities: Just because something may not work the way you thought it would does not mean you should stop trying.
5. Failure is Necessary! You should fail and these are the years where you have support of family to help you make decisions. Failure means growth and learning.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story?
“Trust: Mastering the Four Essential Trusts” by Iyanla Vanzant is a book that I truly feel has my name written all over it. It is broken down into 4 pillars: Trust in Self, Trust in God, Trust in Others and Trust in Life. It is one of those books that you can turn to any section for advice or encouragement as well as write notes all over the page. This is one book that I like having the actual paper copy and not on audiobooks just so that I can take notes.
Although I use the principles Iyanla discusses, it strengthened my personal journey. I have been going through my own transitions in my business, all good and tremendous growth including tons of work. I am a believer that when that fear arises with excitement, then the moment is right to waken you up saying go for it. It may not be easy, however go for it! I read this book just as I was in my final preparation for my TEDx talk June 2019 on “The Science of Loneliness and Isolation.” I didn’t realize that I had been holding back my story of my molecular genetics days, which were a large part of who I am today. This book gave me that little extra nudge to my own gut, trusting that it was a necessary part of my story.
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. 🙂
Mymovement will be called “JUST OWN YOU: JOY” which also happens to be my middle name. It has been a journey accepting and loving my middle name as well as embracing that I have found my true joy. JUST OWN YOU is a movement that has no barriers and sees no colors. It is a supportive community built to support and meet people where they are in their life. If they need financial, educational, or mentorship support it is available through classes, mentorships and scholarships. I am a believer in saving the world, however sometimes I think we forget that there is so much suffering in this country that goes unnoticed. I recently spoke in Washington DC, and we were talking about a D.C. school where 65% of the student body was homeless. I know that there is a way to change that, and it needs to be done.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
“Nothing is impossible, the word itself says `I’m possible`! ~Audrey Hephurn
When you are clear in who you are and what you want, nothing is impossible. I completely trust in myself which was not always the case and not always easy to proclaim. My 2019 was great and I have big plans to connect and impact the world in 2020. I may not have all the answers exactly, however I trust that it will all work out.
I believe that everything happens for a reason at the right time. Recently, I applied for a TEDx Women’s salon talk. I had a TEDx talk in 2019 and Ithought it would be awesome to take a TEDxWomen’s 2019 stage as well. I was convinced that I had it and at the very end selection, I wasn’t chosen. As December grew near, I was more than relieved. I had all my three children traveling and that particular TEDx had huge issues including a flood of the venue. That not working out just opened another door and opportunity for me.
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Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!