On the fourteenth installment of The Link Up with Latesha, our incredible host Latesha Byrd, founder of Byrd Career Consulting, talks about how therapy has made her a better entrepreneur, a better professional, a better friend, and better to herself. Having a relationship with yourself is crucial to your growth and development, and it will allow you to build self-awareness as you are constantly improving and working towards achieving your goals. Let’s normalize the conversation of going to therapy!
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Latesha: What’s up, everyone? Welcome to The Link Up with Latesha on Living Corporate. This podcast is for young professionals that need some real advice, tips, and resources to navigate corporate America and dominate their career. If you’re looking to upgrade your brand, get the knowledge you need to level up professionally for your future, you are in the right place. I’m your host, Latesha Byrd. So let’s get into today’s episode. I’m so excited to just share this very important topic with you all today. I am going to be talking about how therapy has made me a better entrepreneur, a better professional, a better friend, and better to myself honestly. [laughs] So, you know, as working professionals or entrepreneurs that are highly driven and ambitious, we have a hard time with giving ourselves grace. I hope that you can relate to this, [laughs] because our mental health is so, so crucial to success. Having a relationship with yourself is crucial to your growth and to your development, and it will allow you to build self-awareness as you are constantly improving and working towards achieving your goals. So what I’m gonna be sharing with you all is my journey with therapy, why I started going to therapy, how I started going, and how it has essentially changed my life. If you follow me on Twitter, I am always talking about therapy. I love going to therapy. It’s not easy, now. [laughs] It’s not easy. It’s not, like–I don’t know if I would categorize or label my therapy sessions as fun, but I enjoy going because it stretches me and makes me uncomfortable and makes me call out the biases and the lies [laughs] that I’m telling myself. So I’ll start with why I started going to therapy. Actually, let me just–before I talk about why I started going to therapy, I want to just share that, you know, PTSD is real from working as the only person of color, or one of the few, in a predominantly white workplace. I’ve talked to women particularly–and there’s some men as well–you know, black women that have been discriminated against, that are treated unfairly, that are blamed for things that they have–that they’ve never even touched before. I’ve heard of women being, you know, let go for things that their co-workers maybe just got a little slap on the wrist for, you know? I have heard stories of us feeling uncomfortable walking into work or feeling like if we share a little bit of ourselves, they will take that and use that against us. I’ve heard all of your stories, and I’ve–it really, really hurts, and it angers me to hear the experiences of the trauma, you know, that we have to deal with in the workplace, and I do think that is why going to therapy is extremely important. Know one that you are not alone. You are not alone in this, and it’s important to have someone that you can talk to about it. Now, my personal reasons for going to therapy–I’m not going to get into too much detail as to why I started going, but it was really for me based on some deeply rooted issues within my family that I had been experiencing and the trauma that I went through as a child, as a young adult, in college and even, you know, post-graduation from college, and hell, I’m still dealing with some [BLEEP]. [laughs] But we cannot, you know, choose our family, but I also kind of grew up thinking “Okay, well, your family is your family. You have to respect them. You gotta just deal with them, even if it’s your parent, because that’s how it’s supposed to be. You gotta respect ’em.” You know? And so I just thought, like, I had to deal with a lot of BS because they, you know, were my family members. So that’s why I started going to therapy, just to kind of figure out, you know, how I can relieve some of the stress and the heartbreak that I have experienced. I have a–just to share a little personal anecdote, I have a very distant relationship with my mother because of a marriage that she’s–a very toxic marriage that she’s been in for about 10 years. So I very–I rarely see her. Actually, I haven’t seen her in years. Honestly, I don’t talk to her. I want to be in her life, but I have been shunned. And I grew up in a single-parent household. She raised me. So that has been so hard for me to just get–to get through, you know? I love her, and I will be there whenever she needs me, but I’ve realized in conversations with friends that they said, “Yo, like, your situation, that’s not normal, and that’s not okay, and we need you to really get some help.” There is a stigma in the black community that if you are, you know, going to therapy you’re quote-unquote “crazy,” right? Or that means that something is wrong with you, but it is so important for us to–and I’ll be honest, I thought that. I mean, it was literally ingrained in me, and so I was conditioned to think that if you go to therapy, “What? What’s wrong with you?” You know? [laughs] But I’ve been going now for–let’s see, starting in May, so about six months, and it has literally changed my life. So without further ado, let me just tell you all what I have learned from therapy. It has–one, I’ve learned that I need to give myself more grace, giving myself grace, and also working on self-compassion. My first therapy session I was super nervous. I didn’t know what to expect. I was like, “Okay, what if she doesn’t like me? What if I don’t like her? What if I–” Like, I just had no clue what to expect. [laughs] So, you know, I kind of went in there and she said, you know, “What made you come to therapy?” And I’m like, “Wait, what? I don’t–I don’t know. I’m here.” And she’s like, “Okay. Well, just tell me about yourself.” So that’s kind of how we started. The first thing–the advice that I would give about going to therapy is you definitely will have to be vulnerable and transparent if you want to get the most out of it. Vulnerability is something that I also struggle with as someone that is a leader. Naturally I have a lot of people that look up to me, and my clients and friends, and so showing weakness, showing that you don’t have it all together, ooh, you can’t do that, right? I have learned though, from watching Renee Brown–I probably have talked about her a lot on previous episodes, but I’ve learned a lot from her about vulnerability. So check out her TED Talk. She also has a Netflix special, and she talks about, you know, that–she talks about how vulnerability is bravery. So I am learning to be vulnerable, but anyways, in that first session, the main thing that came out was self-compassion and having a relationship with yourself. And I did not have a relationship with myself. Like, I did not. I was kind of going through the day-to-day, going through the motions, you know? Going to my office and talking to clients and working, coming home and working more, and not really checking in with myself to actually ask myself, “Hey, are you happy? How are you feeling?” You know, “How is your energy?” Right? And so that was the first thing I learned was one, I had to give myself self-compassion and know that, one, I’m not going to be perfect. [laughs] The people around me are not going to be perfect, and see, because I did not practice self-compassion, I also wasn’t compassionate with others. With my team, you know? With friends. I didn’t give other folks grace because I did not lend that to myself. So I’ve had to learn how to be kinder with the words that I’m speaking to myself and also make sure that I’m constantly checking in to see how I’m feeling, and if I need–maybe I’m working too hard or going too hard and I need to take a break, you know, or maybe I’m having, you know, some negative thoughts. That means that I need to take a step back and say, “Okay, why am I feeling this way?” So it’s been really interesting, you know? I love learning more about myself. I feel like I am coming into myself, and I think that becoming is better than being, and I learned the difference between being and the difference between becoming. I journal all of the time now. That took me some time to actually get used to. I mean, I’ve journaled before in the past. Like, in the morning–I have a stoic journal that was gifted to me by a friend where we have guided journal questions or prompts, but I have now transitioned more into self-reflection, journaling my emotions throughout the day, journaling how I feel about my relationship with myself and then with others. So I’ve learned to give myself self-compassion. That has, you know, allowed me to be more compassionate with others. That’s allowed me to be more empathetic. The way that this has helped me to change my life and business, or business specifically, is because I would go into therapy sessions, and the first thing I would say–when she’d ask me how things were going I would say, “Oh, man. You know, entrepreneurship is so hard.” [laughs] Which it is. Like, real talk. Everybody knows it’s hard. But I was like, “Man, business, running a business is just hard,” and she looked at me and she said, “You understand that this is your business, right?” Like, it’s your business. This is what you wanted. This is what you signed up for. You are in control here, so I’m going to need for you why or what’s making it so hard and go ahead and start working on making some changes. And she asked me why it was so hard, and I was telling her about the workload, and, you know, she told me how she ended up, you know, just kind of downsizing, and she thought that she wanted to grow a very large company and realized that that’s not what she wanted. And it made me take a step back because I was working–I mean, there’s 24 hours in the day and your girl was working about 17 hours, sleeping and getting up and working again, going to the office, going to meetings, speaking, you know? I also teach at a university. And, I mean, I would–I was driving myself crazy, and I was unhappy. I was so unhappy. My team was stressed out. And I ended up changing my whole business model, because I realized that I did not want a company where I had to work myself to death and my team had to as well. So the shift that I made, I’ll tell you about that. Originally, you know, when I started my company, if you listened to the episode a couple weeks ago, I talk about how I started my company, where it was mostly doing resume writing, and now it’s shifted into career coaching. So I’ve pretty much changed the business model. 75% of my business, approximately 75%, is solely 1-on-1 career coaching and business coaching. Prior to that–and I made the shift a few months ago. Prior to that, you know, it was focused on resume makeovers, LinkedIn makeovers, interview coaching, and we had about 30 to 40 clients–whoo, just the thought of that gives me–[laughs] just the thought of that just kind of gave me a real quick headache. 30 to 40 clients a month. I was keeping my prices somewhat low so they could be competitive in the market, and that’s fine if that’s how you want your business model to operate. Lower price point means more clients, right? Well, I don’t want to say that that’s exactly what it equates to, but that was my thought process. And so we were working with about 30 to 40 clients, you know, probably about 15 to 18 simultaneously, and it was hard. Like, it was very hard. I was stressed out. My team was stressed out. It was hard to keep up with everyone. And then I had to take a step back and ask myself, “Is this truly what I want?” “Is this really what I want?” And sometimes you do have to do that, you know? Check in with yourself regularly. And I realized that it wasn’t, and so because of that I shifted my business model to career coaching. I had a launch strategy. I built a brand new website. I did that on my own, which I am so proud of, on Squarespace. Check it out – LateshaByrd.com. I’ll probably link it in the show notes as well. And so–now don’t–I know there’s a lot of listeners out there in the tech industry, so if y’all have some tips on my site let me know, okay? I am not [laughs] a coder, but I worked very hard on it. So anyways, I shifted my business model. I had a launch strategy, and I ended up getting 15 coaching clients to start coaching with me from October to December. Most of them paid me upfront for the three months, but I had my revenue goals, and I said, “If I can charge this amount, if I can hit this number of coaching clients, I’m good,” and that’s what I did. Everything has been so wonderful. I do have a three-month coaching program, so now I will have recurring coaching clients every quarter. So I’ll have new coaching clients starting in January. So going from January to March, the next group going from April to June, and starting again in July and then October. I love that because I didn’t have that level of organization and efficiency in my business the way that I have now where before I would just enroll coaching clients whenever they wanted to start, and so now everyone is on the same schedule, they’re going through the same type of information, and so it has been wonderful. I have gotten so much of my time back, and I also realized that if I am preaching to other people about just living the lifestyle that you deserve but I’m over here stressed out, you know, I’m kind of being a hypocrite, right? And so I had to take a tough look at myself, and I fundamentally decided this was the best thing for me to do. I have gotten so much time back, and because my business is now at this level of, you know, organization, I am able to focus on other areas of my life. So now I’m focused on my physical health, going to the gym and eating healthy. Still working on that. [laughs] And, you know, I think I said my budget, so I’m just trying to work on my finances as well, but because now I have this one area of my life in order, it has allowed me to focus on other areas. Hopefully for those business owners out there that are listening to this, if you don’t go to therapy, I highly recommend it. Let’s normalize the conversation of going to therapy. Let’s talk about what we learned. You know, let’s just all focus on mental health, you know? We get a lot of negative content kind of fed to us on a daily basis, and there’s a lot of the–you know, we all kind of compare ourselves to each other on social media, things of that nature, but get your mental health in order please, because that is going to hold you back from really just being your fullest and truest and happiest and your best self. Other things that I learned outside of self-compassion – giving myself grace, you know? Asking myself the tough questions and checking in with myself, and making changes was, again, just taking that ownership, you know? Taking that ownership and understanding that I cannot change other people. I can only set boundaries. So I’m working on setting boundaries. Communicating my needs and my expectations in all of my relationships. You can’t control what someone else does. You can tell them how you want to be treated, and if they act accordingly or not, then you will know what it is that you need to do. So that is my spiel. If you have any questions about therapy, let me know. You know, this is a very important just time in our lives as we’re growing in our careers to make sure that we do have a relationship with self. If you don’t have a relationship with yourself, then let’s start there, because that’s gonna be, you know, the #1 factor to building, as I mentioned earlier, that self-awareness. You have to know who you are, what you need to work on, and who you want to be so that you can know what changes need to be met and so that you can also know where you want to go professionally. All right, guys. I hope this was helpful. I look forward to hearing your feedback and your comments about this. Again, therapy has changed my life. It has made me a better entrepreneur, has made me a better friend, and I’m so incredibly grateful to be on this journey, and I’m really excited to share this with you all. So talk to you all next week.