“You need to work on yourself first.” With Beau Henderson & Lucile Hernandez Rodriguez

You need to work on yourself first. The work culture you are creating is a reflection of who you are. As a leader, you have a responsibility to define what is important to you and create a culture that reflects this. You will not be successful in creating a fantastic work culture if you are […]

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You need to work on yourself first. The work culture you are creating is a reflection of who you are. As a leader, you have a responsibility to define what is important to you and create a culture that reflects this. You will not be successful in creating a fantastic work culture if you are not ready to have a hard look at yourself first.

As a part of my series about “How To Develop Mindfulness And Serenity During Stressful Or Uncertain Times”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Lucile Hernandez Rodriguez. Lucile is a Registered Yoga Teacher and Coach. She focuses on mindful lifestyle changes for Internet entrepreneurs, through workshops around Yoga and Mindfulness and personal coaching. She is passionate about the impact mindfulness can have on mental health, especially on feeling more relaxed during uncertain times. You can get in touch with her on www.lucilehr.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?

Ibelieve mindfulness and wellness are tools that can help anyone live their best lives in their own terms and bring their unique value into the world. This is why I became a Yoga teacher and a Coach. Here is the story that led me there today:

I started my career in Investment Banking after a top Business School. It led me to New York City, where I was covering the Technology sector.

These were extremely formative years for me as I was able to not only develop my passion for the Internet space but also experience extreme pressure. When I was not working, I was at the yoga studio, spending hours turning inwards on the mat and trying to get back to balance after a stressful day.

I had been practicing yoga since I was 17 and had studied Mindfulness Meditation. I was ready to bring the benefits of my mindfulness practice into my daily life. I decided to get my Teaching Certificate at Yoga Vida NYC and started teaching right away.

I bridged my business and yoga education with a Wellness Coaching Certification and started working with Internet entrepreneurs, social media creators and innovative people on their wellness and lifestyle goals. I also love traveling and I tend to attract clients who are digital nomads.

I’m always amazed at how I’m able to help people from all over the world in my practice, no matter where they are. Mindfulness is one of the key tools I use with my coaching and yoga clients.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

It is when I was introduced to coaching techniques and was selected to be part of an innovation initiative at the Investment Bank I was working at. We worked directly with the CEO and C-Suite executives on Technology adoption, innovation, and corporate culture through reverse mentoring and consulting appointments. I realized how impactful these techniques and tools could be to bring change to people and organizations. I was hooked and knew my Investment Banking career was over.

What advice would you give to other leaders about how to create a fantastic work culture?

You need to work on yourself first. The work culture you are creating is a reflection of who you are. As a leader, you have a responsibility to define what is important to you and create a culture that reflects this. You will not be successful in creating a fantastic work culture if you are not ready to have a hard look at yourself first.

The first step here is to define what a fantastic work culture means to you. What are your values? Go deeper and ask yourself why they matter to you. As a leader, it is your responsibility to work on yourself so that you are conveying these values to your team. Let’s say, positivity is important to you, well, start by adopting an uplifting attitude with others and be aware of times when you are not doing so.

One tip that applies to most businesses I’ve worked with is to be open, let your business partners and employees know that they can challenge you, talk to you, and submit ideas. Ask them for their opinion and really listen. This way, you are creating a feedback loop in which problems will not be unnoticed. This is important even if your team is fully remote or you are only working with freelancers like most of my clients. When people feel listened to, they can find meaning in their work and be fully involved in your project.

Both of these tips will probably bring you out of your comfort zone, but they are worth it since you’ll create a business in which you’ll really feel good!

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?

I really enjoy reading Outliers by Malcom Gladwell, which popularized the 10,000 hours-rule concept. I’ve read this book several times and I find it to be a fascinating and easy to read exploration of what makes people successful. It shows how much success is a result of a cumulative advantage and how small consistent actions compound into big results. This resonates with me a lot as I am a big believer in the importance of consistency to make lasting lifestyle changes as well as designing your environment to make it conducive to success.

Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. From your experience or research, how would you define and describe the state of being mindful?

Being mindful is being fully present in the moment while being aware of your thoughts, feelings and physical sensations.

I believe it is better to experience it rather than just understanding it. Here is a quick exercise you can do to experience a mindful state:

  • Observe your mind and create a picture of your thoughts
  • Observe your breath and see if it’s fast, or slow, or deep, or shallow…
  • Notice the points of contact of your feet and the ground
  • Notice one thing you can see, hear, smell and touch

Here, you are being mindful! You can do this small exercise at any time during the day to experience the quiet awareness that is mindfulness and feel more relaxed.

This might be intuitive to you, but it will be instructive to spell this out. Can you share with our readers a few of the physical, mental, and emotional benefits of becoming mindful?

Once you become more mindful, you’ll feel confident you always have what you need in you to face any challenges life throws at you by choosing consciously your reaction to them. Mindfulness is a tool you’ll always have with you when you need to come back into balance.

Mindfulness develops the mind-body connection, which has a lot of physical, mental, and emotional benefits that are fully interconnected. Here are a few benefits of mindfulness I have experienced myself or have seen my clients experience:

  • Reduced stress: Stress is one of the most common and most dangerous issues of our modern life. Regular mindfulness practice helps keep stress at bay, which is beneficial for your physical and mental health.
  • Increased emotional awareness: Mindfulness is the ultimate tool for self-discovery. By keeping your mindfully present, you can understand yourself better and see that you are not your thoughts or feelings.
  • Better sleep: this is a big one. By activating your relaxation response, mindfulness can help you sleep better which in turn impacts positively your overall health.

Mindfulness is also a tool used by athletes and high performers, so you might want to give it a try if you are training for a sports competition or just giving an important presentation at work:

  • Reduced risk of injury: Mindfulness helps you be more in tune with your body and listen to its limitations.
  • Increased performance: Mindfulness builds awareness of your body and mind, which increases your performance and helps you make better decisions under pressure in any sport or high-performance activity. It also helps you keep your mind in check and avoid negative self-talk on your big day.

Ok. Here is the main question of our discussion. The past 5 years have been filled with upheaval and political uncertainty. Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have only heightened a sense of uncertainty, anxiety, fear, and loneliness. From your experience or research what are five steps that each of us can take to develop mindfulness and serenity during such uncertain times? Can you please share a story or example for each.

I’ve identified 5 easy mindful practices that can bring anyone back to serenity:

1. Building awareness.

Building awareness is essential to actually notice that you are feeling anxiety, fear, or loneliness and that you are getting caught up in a spiral of anxious thoughts without giving in to them. One mindfulness technique that builds awareness is noting. It is simply putting words on your feelings when you notice you are feeling them. I recommend using a physical cue such as fast breathing, tensions in your back… as a signal that you need to use this technique as all these sensations are signs that stress is having an impact on your body.

2. Knowing how to calm your fight or flight response and bring you into balance.

Get your serenity toolbox ready! Know which activities help you relax and feel grounded and stable through uncertain times. It can be anything that makes you feel good but doesn’t numb you. Think dancing in your living room or calling a friend rather than binge-watching all seasons of your new favorite series. Write all these activities in a note and actually commit to doing them, even if you are not feeling like it in the moment.

3. Increasing gratitude.

Gratitude is a powerful practice. There are probably a lot of things that are going well in your life and acknowledging them will help increase positive emotions. It’s also incredibly fast to do: write three things you’re thankful for at a given time every day and enjoy the positive feelings this practice brings.

4. Feeling connected.

It is easy to feel isolated when we are going through difficult times. But you are not alone, there are many other people going through the same issue with you. It can help to take some time to build this connection by feeling more compassion for other human beings. If that resonates with you, try Loving-Kindness Meditation, a simple technique that builds this much-needed sense of interconnectedness.

5. Consistency with these practices.

Don’t do these only when you are feeling anxious, lonely or fearful! Making these tips a regular practice will help you keep your serenity in difficult times. Practicing mindfulness every day, even for 5 minutes, will change your life.

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?

Here are five easy ways you can support those around you who are feeling anxious:

1. Hold space for them in the way they need.

Match your support to how they want to be supported. If you don’t know, just ask them! Maybe they just want to be listened to, they want to be distracted, or they want advice. You can’t know unless you ask them. A good practice is to refrain from giving advice unless asked, as it can easily be overwhelming for anxious people.

2. Learn to better communicate with them and understand their patterns

If you are trying to help, you of course have good intentions. But are you communicating them the right way? Try to reflect on how you are perceived by the person you’re trying to help. You’ll start to notice patterns in how they feel and will be able to reflect that back to them. Be careful with your choice of words when you do that and refrain from speaking in absolutes!

3. Include them in your self-care rituals and mindfulness practices

It’s easy to feel isolated when you are feeling anxious. Including them in your self-care and mindfulness practices will help them feel less lonely and get them out of their head. Maybe you’ll also introduce them to a helpful tool for managing their anxiety. In any case, don’t be forceful and give them plenty of space to make their own choices.

4. Take care of yourself

Make sure you are not giving more than what you can give! If you are not taking care of yourself, you are not in a good position to support others. Keep taking care of your own energy by applying all the mindfulness techniques discussed here!

5. Make sure to encourage them to seek outside help when needed!

There is only so much you can do. Being supportive doesn’t mean taking responsibility for how others are feeling. Know when a situation is becoming too difficult and lovingly encourage them to seek out outside help. This could mean anything from signing up for a meditation app or an online yoga program to working with a therapist. This way, they will develop the skills they need to take care of their own mental health and come back to balance.

What are the best resources you would suggest for someone to learn how to be more mindful and serene in their everyday life?

The best resource is yourself and your consistent practice. Mindfulness is something that needs to be lived and not only understood intellectually. Learn a few easy techniques and practice them consistently.

If you would like to start learning techniques here are my favorite ways to do so:

  • Try a meditation app like Headspace or Calm
  • Move your body mindfully: I love Yoga and encourage you to start a home practice.
  • Get help if you need it: it can take various forms like working with a therapist or a coach.
  • Find a practice you resonate with: you don’t have to sit in meditation to be more mindful. You can find mindfulness in many other activities such as cooking or arts.

Additionally, there are a lot of free resources to help you get started in your mindfulness journey on my site.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?

My favorite quote is “what you practice, you become”. Every day, you have a choice and your actions add up. Consistently act like someone you’d like to be.

This quote has been so relevant in my life, as it has motivated me to keep taking small steps in the right direction to create a life that feels right for me and includes everything I enjoy doing. I am happy to be able to share this approach with others and help them design the lifestyle of their dreams.

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 would love to help people realize we already have everything we need to create a better world in ourselves. Our influence and actions are so powerful. So let’s not wait for others to do it for us. I feel this would be the movement that would bring the most good to as many people as possible: empowering people to act and live in accordance with their values! I believe that empowered and mindful people take good decisions.

What is the best way our readers can follow you online?

You can check out my website for free resources, or follow me on Instagram, or on Facebook, I answer all my comments personally and love connecting with readers.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!

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