This fall, Best Self — Foley’s firmwide wellness initiative — hosted a three-part speaker series to explore the complicated ways that mental health drives performance and how it shows up in high-achieving work cultures. Led by Kara Hardin, founder and CEO of The Practice Lab, these sessions also imparted skills to support healthy performance and achievement in the workplace.
In the first session, “The Performance Paradox: The Complicated Relationship Between Mental Health and Performance,” Hardin explored how perfectionism and feelings of inadequacy show up as we achieve. She also shared strategies for relating to ourselves, others, and our work in more generative, kind, and productive ways.
The second session, “The Achieving, Anxious Brain: Working With Drive and Dread Effectively,” examined our near constant focus on outcomes, advancement, promotion, development, progression, and improvement — and the impact of that attention on how we perceive and experience the world around us. She also provided speciﬁc practices to interrupt anxious, worried, or ruminative thoughts.
During the third session, “Finding Choices: Working With Accountability and Agency,” Hardin delved into the feeling that we just cannot get on top of things and explored how to take accountability for what we want to do — and how to find agency and meaning as we do it. She encouraged attendees to tell a new story about their own value by bringing together compassion for self and others, context of their old story, and curiosity to explore what else could be true.
Key Takeaways From Series
Strivers are excellent at exceeding others’ expectations and feel most safe when we’re productive. But success gets slippery — we want to do it all, the to-do list never ends, and we dig deeper to meet expectations so we can hypothetically relax.
The very qualities that make strivers successful can also lead to mental health challenges such as anxiety, feelings of inadequacy, loneliness, and disconnection from what really matters to us.
High performance demands you work with your body. Be open to noticing your emotional and psychological experiences and pause when you would normally power through. If you’re feeling “off,” connect with your body, orient to the present, and do what best helps you to regulate.
There are numerous strategies to regulate the stress response:
- Immediately actionable tactics, small things you can do in the moment to help you feel safe, include deep breaths, rituals, movement, and sips of water.
- Over-time practices, things you can do to connect to your body and feel more nourished, include exercise, rest, connection, meditation, sunshine, and idleness.
If there is no danger, and your response is greater than a 4/10 in intensity, you are likely dealing with something from your past and need to regulate to find perspective and prioritize effectively.
You are the expert on you — relate to yourself with compassion, curiosity, and context.
About Foley Best Self
Foley Best Self recognizes that our people and their health, well-being, and professional satisfaction are at the center of our culture and core values. Best Self is built on the four pillars of Healthy Body, Healthy Mind, Meaningful Connections, and Fulfilling Careers with the ambitious goal of making each person’s humanity a welcome part of our collective enterprise and topic of open conversation.