362-Self-Leadership with Unyime Oguta

by | Jun 22, 2023 | 0 comments

self-leadership

Self-leadership is what determines how much we can live our life with purpose and intent. 

As a woman, self-leadership is defined by our ability to step into our power therefore from diet culture.

In this powerful conversation between myself and Unyime Oguta we explore what self-leadership means to both of us and how it allows us to reach our goals and live our best life despite our marginalized identities.

Self-leadership for women

Self-leadership is the practice of understanding who you are, identifying your desired experiences, and intentionally guiding yourself toward them.

I believe that self-leadership is our ability to guide ourselves towards what we want to experience.

What you’ll learn listening to this episode:

  • How going beyond the food leads both of us to self-leadership
  • Unyime shares how self-leadership helps rise her 3 daughters
  • Self-responsibility versus self-leadership
  • How you can develop self-leadership in your life.

 

Mentioned in the show: 

Health Habits Checklist

Rebellious Eating Solution Webinar

Quiz: Is it you or your diet?

Undiet Your Life Program

Non-Diet Coaching Certification

Connect with our guest:

Website – Unyime Oguta

Instagram – Unyime Oguta

Facebook – Unyime Oguta

Transcript

GBTF362

===

This is episode 362 of the going to be on the Food Show, and today we are chatting with one of my most often welcome guests on this podcast, OMI Agua, about self-leadership and how self-leadership has played such a vital role in both of our life. And we're gonna share with you how you can bring more of that. Self leadership into your life. Stay tuned.

Welcome back, my dear sister. I have a unique episode today. It's something we've never talked about thus far in 363 episode of this podcast. It's something that I'm spending more and more time thinking about and reflecting about, which is self-leadership. And I wanted to have this conversation style about self-leadership because it's not something I can teach. It's something we have to live and experience. So I wanted to bring someone to have this conversation with, and it's one of my student, is someone that is a coach within UN dietary life, udemy Agua. We have been sharing our lives communally for over 12 years right now and we're both evolving in the same direction. We're both coaching in the same way, and we both have realized the power of self-leadership and our own life, and we see it day in and day out with the women we work with.

So I wanna bring you into that casual conversation around self-leadership. We're gonna talk about what it is, how you can recognize it in your own life, and also the differences between self-leadership and responsibility, which actually one fuels the other. It's not the same thing, but she cannot have one without the other. And Udemy's gonna talk about self leadership in a perspective that I do not have, which is motherhood. Udemy is a mom of three girls that she is raising with her husband and how it plays a role in her motherhood. And it's interesting because she talks about it as her daughter getting older. She's got a daughter in a preteen and a daughter in teenage year, and how it literally creates the foundation of those young women becoming powerful women.

So I will let my team roll in the interview and I hope you enjoy it as much I enjoy having the conversation with Udemy.

Stephanie: Welcome back to the podcast. You, me.

Unyime: Thank you, Stephanie. I'm so glad to be here.

Stephanie: How many times has it been, I'm just realizing that I know we've done a top, a couple of dual episode that I had you on an interview. It's been three or four times now, isn't it? [Probably.] Yeah. And it's interesting because we've known each other for, I don't know, three or four years now, three years, two years, whatever. And every time I bring you into an interview to converse about something, there's an evolution also in your personal life.

Stephanie: [Mm-hmm.] So let's talk about that first and then we'll move on to our topic of self leadership. But you've evolved recently in your business. I'm curious to know why and what happened there and walk us through this evolution.

Unyime: That's a big question and it's one that I keep asking myself because I feel like the past year has just been a lot of, filled with a lot of pain and unraveling and peeling off layers and just like sitting in a lot of discomfort that has pushed me to grow beyond what I thought was possible and I'm still growing, which I think that's why I said that question is loaded, because when I started, when we met, I think we met 2020, probably sometime around there. And I remember just talking to you about this dream I had, aside from the food and body image, but really wanting to help moms you know, live their lives not in survival, but thriving. That has always been the central message of my work. And as I worked with women on food and body image, I found that there was always this question of what next? What next? Right? And the kind of coaching that we do in your program, it's not what everyone else does. It's very unique in the industry and I found my clients asking what next? And me being a little hesitant to help because my focus was, oh, I just do food and body image and then I help you with your children.

Unyime: So even though I knew that was a part of what I wanted to talk about, I wasn't allowing myself to go there cuz I was really afraid of owning my expertise. I was afraid of owning the, all of the lessons that I've learned, all of the things that I have to give to women, not just moms. And I remember one of the coaching that you offered me when I said, I'm scared to be an expert in this space because of my identity as a black woman. And you coached me really hard. I remember that day I was like, fielded with so much like physical pain, just my body visually reacting to that coaching because I knew you were right, but I was really afraid and decided.

Stephanie: What did I say to you? Can't even remember.

Unyime: You told me to own my expertise. Yeah. And I remember you saying, well, if not you, then who? And I was just like, oh my God, why would she say that? She knows all of the things, Cuz this is what we talk about in your program, like all of the systems and all of the conditioning that we've had. And this is an area of my life that I've really, I wouldn't say run away from, but I thought I didn't have the tools to deal with, so that coaching sent me on this path of just figuring out how do I wanna show up in this space and coaching for moms and women in general, but not doing what everyone else is doing and just teaching women how to show up and lead their lives because there's more to life than just surviving. There's more to life than always trying to figure out the next thing to fix myself. If we're not fixing with food, if we're not fixing our bodies, it's what we wear. It's our children, it's our marriages, it's work we're trying to fix our coworkers. We're always trying to fix. So that pushed me to get to this space where I thought, you know what? It's the self-leadership. That's what the women are looking for because when we start to think about self-leadership from the perspective of the coaching that we do in your program, we then recognize it's not about control. It's not about lording over people. It's not about holding power. It's about being very confident in yourself and trusting that who you are is enough. No matter where you show up, it's always gonna be enough. And that's all that matters.

Unyime: So that's pretty much it in a nutshell. So now I do coach, I do general life coaching for women. I still have a deep heart for moms, and moms are most of my clients as well. But we talk about just navigating motherhood, their career and life without the burnout out.

Stephanie: That's beautiful. So as you were working with people, you really lived through the experience of, it's not about the food, it's about something else.

Stephanie: And that's something else you found was the way that women related to being their own leader?

Unyime: Mm-hmm. Yeah. Yeah. I found that, it's so interesting because the women that I tend to attract are high achievers. [Mm-hmm.] They're go-getters. They know for sure that. They're not confused about wanting to chase more in life. Th those are not the kinds of women that I attract. The women I attract, they know they want more, but it's all of the conditioning and all of the thoughts and beliefs around, well, what does this mean? Does this mean I don't love my children? Does this mean I don't care about my family? Do I not care about traditions and all of these things? So, I remember just noticing that in my clients and then I would do my best to help them out and they would still be like, well then what next? Then what next? And I thought, you know what? I'm gonna be the voice for this women. And it's so interesting that I, over the past two years, because I've been focusing on my masters, which you are aware of, I've had a lot of them re resign. So I've not really had many new clients. I've just had a lot of repeat clients because we keep working and peeling layers of life around them. And I'm just, Seeing how they're transforming, and it's been such an honor for me to see that, and I'm really excited for what's to come. Yeah.

Stephanie: That's beautiful. So for people listening to this, it's when we're talking about resign or renewing, is we typically, because we do deep work in our style of coaching, right? We go beyond the food, we go to the real thing that requires deeper work. And it's usually long term, like it's not done over a month or two months, like this is six months minimum. And what she just said is that people work with her for six months and they keep wanting to work with her to go to the next layer and the next layer of self-discovery. [ Yeah.] That's a beautiful testimonial to your work, by the way. [Thank you.] You know that, right? [ Yes.]

Stephanie: So let's talk about self-leadership, because I've never really publicly expressed myself on that because I have some, what people consider radical ideology around self-leadership primarily because that's the way I live my life. And I've always been in that mindset, I guess, of from a place of survival, first of like being my own leader, right? So because of multiple of reason, I've had to take ownership over my life and lead myself from a place of survival, and that has evolved over the last seven to eight years. But even though I'm evolving and I'm understanding all the socialization and the conditioning, and I'm learning to be more compassionate with myself and more gentle, even in that space, I believe in self-leadership. I've just redefined self leadership.

Stephanie: So for me, self leadership, I'll let you talk in just a second here, but for me, self leadership is not about self-control, right? And that, that's where the significant shift has happened is moving from being the leader of my life and taking full responsibility for myself and what's happening in my world, but from a place of guiding myself instead of controlling myself. And, and, and I'd like to hear your thoughts around what it means to leading yourself, yeah, what are your thoughts?

Unyime: I like that. And something that you said about, it's not about self-control. So for me, what my first experience with leadership came from when I was working in clinical trials and research. And I was the youngest on the management level. And so I remember our director then, she would tell me, she said, when we go into these meetings, I'm just gonna call on you to speak. And these were people who were in their forties, late forties, fifties, they were my mom's age, and here I was, I think I was probably maybe 21, 22. And that filled me with a lot of fear. And again, thinking about my identity as a black woman in a company where nobody looked like me, nobody understood my experience, it put me in this place where leadership became a thing of power and control and wanting to show people like, this is my voice. You have to listen. But I knew that was not me naturally.

Unyime: So all of through my working career and even when I was in the mentorship doing the work that you taught us, that was always at the back of my mind where I thought, I know that I can be a good leader. However, the socialization and the conditioning that a lot of us as women have is what we see in patriarchy, is the men in the boardrooms, is the people commanding the atmosphere and lording it over other people. There has to be a better way, there has to be a better way, and I started just experimenting with what would that look like if women were able to just show up as leaders in their own way, what would that look like in the world? That would look like women really standing in their power and not being afraid? Because I find that there are a lot of women who know they have power, they have it, but we've been taught to look at power from a very negative light. We've been taught to look at power as commanding, as hurting people, as evil, like look at the movies, right? [Oppress oppression.] Exactly. The people who have powers, especially women. I always think about the movie, the Devil Wears Prada, and you see she's such a powerful woman. However, she's not the kindest person. She's very strict, she's very rash, and I thought, you know what? There has to be a better way. So what would it look like if we started to redefine what that looks like? Just like you said. That would look like thinking about owning whatever that power is and knowing that no matter how strong it is, you can be gentle with it if that's the way you need it to be. And there are times when it would call on to be strong and commanding, perhaps going into a place where, that kind of thing is needed. But you can also turn it around and be gentle with your children and lead in your home as a mom. If you have a child who is a little bit more emotional, maybe a little bit more sensitive, how can you turn that power into something that feels warm and welcoming. And then you find yourself in rooms where, maybe they're white men in suits who are speaking numbers, and saying all these things, and you can still carry those conversations and that is the work that I wanna do. I wanna be able to help women to know that you can work in all of those places and you don't have to change. You just need to know how to understand the power that you hold and then know how to help use that power to relate, to bring better experiences to the people around you to help. Because I know a lot of us, we want to help. We want the world to be better and we can do that right? So that's my understanding, is the self-leadership is all about owning that power that you have, being comfortable with it and knowing that no matter what, you can show up and you can use that power in good ways. It doesn't have to hurt anyone. You just need to understand it and know how to use it when you need to.

Stephanie: Would you say it's flexibility?

Unyime: I think there's a lot of flexibility in that. I would say that for me, that has been my biggest lesson because like I said, when I started and I got into leadership, it was all about control and like rash, right? Yeah, yeah. But then I'm like, no, this is not, a leader is not micromanaging and it's not all about management. It's all about understanding the vision and knowing how to translate that vision to the people that you are working with, the people you're engaging with. And that comes in our relationships, right? And then knowing how to surround yourself with systems and processes, maybe schedule or whatever you use tools to support you. And that you, understanding that whole system is what helps you to thrive in life.

Stephanie: Yeah, and the more, because it's interesting when we talk about flexibility and management, because I was, for me, being in a corporate world for 15 years, I started at the tail end of being a manager, and by the end of my career it was about being a leader, right. Then you don't lead the same way you manage. And I find that a paradigm into my relationship with myself because diet, culture, fat phobias about controlling the food, controlling the body, controlling your appearance. You can still example, I've just recently reappropriated a style of clothes that I loved. It was suits and it was like tailored clothes. But because in the past I've used these clothes to commend authority, right? I made it mean something so I completely walked away from that style of selection of clothes. But now I'm reappropriating it because it's not about the clothes, it's about the person in the clothes and not being a leader from a place of power, but from a place of leading myself and the people who wanna follow me.

Unyime: Oh, I love that so much. And it's so interesting that you talked about the corporate clothes, cuz that was my experience this past year. So working through my own relationship with food and body and just understanding all of the things that were happening, a part of me thought, well, I need to be more feminine. I need to be more, you know, gravitate more towards like more feminine type clothes, the flowy dresses and flowers and all these things, and I'm not opposed to that, but that's just not me. I remember being a child and just loving, wearing high heels and thinking about wearing my suits and just thinking like that would be the ideal way to dress for me. And I've had to do that work too in the past year, just going back to understanding how do I engage with these clothes in a way that it feels good for me, and also it's not signifying who I used to be, that oppressive type leader. And it's been a very interesting journey because as I've done that, I've also noticed, I know we've talked about this in the past, that I used to experience sciatic nerve pain. [Yeah.] And one of the reasons why I also was like, maybe it's not for me to wear these clothes, was because I couldn't wear heels anymore. So every time I wore heels, I would be in a lot of pain. I worked really hard to understand my pain. You also coached me on this. I remember when we were talking about it because I was in such a place where I thought, well, if my body's not gonna support me and this pain is always gonna be here, there was a lot of anger about that and I had to work through that to come together and understand what my body was trying to tell me. And by doing that, I realized, it wasn't even about the shoes. It wasn't about the pain. It was more about my relationship with myself and could I lead myself in a way that I was flexible enough to understand when my body needed me to stop, when my body needed me to adjust. And I found over the past, I guess the past year I've gone back to wearing heels. I was telling my husband I felt so sad giving my heels away, and now I've had to buy new shoes because I don't experience the pain anymore when I wear heels. Do I still have sciatic nerve pain? I think it's still there. I haven't felt it in the long time but I'm not like, I'm not attached to it. The pain is fine to come and to go as it pleases, and that's okay.

Unyime: And then the other thing that you talked about was the management versus leadership. I think a lot of us, we confuse management. We think that is what leadership is about, but it's not. For me, leadership is a lot more, I think, vision focused. It's not stuck in the now and what we need to get done today to fix. It's about what are we looking to do in the future? Right? Thinking about our self image, who do I want to be? That's the vision I hold of myself and how do I get there, and what do I need to get there? What are the things I need to be doing daily? So the daily comes in with the self-management, but overall, we're just leading ourselves towards this vision that we have. And for me and the work that I do, it's all around thriving and eliminating burnouts.

Stephanie: When we're talking about vision, that's part of leadership is having the vision and we'll bring that back to the individual woman level. Do you have, I'm just talking to the listener, do you have a vision for yourself of where you want to be be what society tells you what you should be. [Exactly.] Right, because most of us like are not even aware, and I think self leadership start with self-awareness, which allows you to look at your thoughts and your belief system and say, oh, I want to beat them because blah, blah, blah, blah. Do I really want to live my life in the pursuit of thinness? That means I'm gonna be on the diet for the rest of my life. Hell no. Okay. What do I want then? If I remove the obligation and the compliance, what do I want for my life? What vision do I have? [ Absolutely.] And in order to lead yourself, you need to know where you're going. You need to know your objective.

Unyime: Yeah. Yeah. My friends always laugh cuz every time I'll say, well, that person knows where they're going. And they'll giggle. They'll say, no, I don't think the person does because for me, like you said, women, we've been taught to do this, like this is the way life is. We're taught that life is like a bento box. We have these little cute sections where things look perfect, and then we're done with this square. We move to the next square and we do things perfectly there, and then we go to the next one. I remember one of my former colleagues had said to me once when I said I was gonna keep working after I had kids, And she said, you're living your life backwards. And I said, what do you mean? She goes, well, people, people get married and then they have kids, and then the woman stays home and then when she's done, she goes back to work. And I said, well, I don't wanna do that. I don't see myself being a stay-at-home mom. And she couldn't understand it. And that was the moment where I recognized that for sure there are these unsaid rules about what women are supposed to do. And if you want to work outside of that, you're gonna come against a lot of pushback and a lot of discomfort, and people will question you and people will ask.

Unyime: And this goes back to you talking about the vision. If you don't have a vision about that, Then you're gonna start questioning your own decisions. Well, maybe I don't need to do that. Maybe it's better for me to not do the thing that I want. Maybe I need to wait for my kids to get older. Maybe I need to wait till my husband gets a job. Maybe I need to wait until whatever the reason is. And then we get to this point where we just give up. We're like, well, what's the point? I'm already too old. I don't have the skills anymore. I can't understand anymore, so I can't go back to school. And we then end up in this space where our lives are not feeling bright and joyful. And even though we lie to ourselves and say, I'm grateful, like we use gratitude as just like a blanket to be like, yeah, but I'm grateful. At least I'm better than other people. Are you though? Are you really?

Stephanie: Well, most people, I would say, I would venture to say the lack of self-awareness for me. Back, back years ago, I didn't realize that I wasn't happy. Like I didn't know the upper limit, I dunno if it's the upper limit, but I didn't know what could be. Right. So I thought what was, was the happiness that one can create.

Unyime: Mm-hmm. But were you settled?

Stephanie: How many women are there that they just don't know that something else is possible? Mm-hmm.

Unyime: But you'll know though because you'll have that longing

Stephanie: For me, I was so not hearing myself, that it came to, my body, shut me down [mm-hmm] because I wasn't hearing. [Mm-hmm.] I wasn't like, self awareness was very small, so my body screamed and screamed and at some point my body just shut me down.

Unyime: Yeah. Yeah. That's the thing. We will, our bodies will always tell us, our bodies will always know if we're not aware enough. It's either things will start happening, your body's gonna start showing you signals, and the more you don't listen, it'll just keep talking and talking and talking until it gets your attention.

Stephanie: Louder and louder and louder [yeah] over years [yep] until you have to listen, until it shuts you down to listen. So that's why when I think about, for me, self-leadership versus self-management, because when you're self-managed, you don't need to listen. You just need to obey and comply. Right. So when you move into the world of leading your own life, you have to be aware of yourself, you have to listen to yourself. To me, that's why it's the ground, the first place to start. And I'd be curious to hear you talk about self-responsibility because to me, you cannot lead your life. You cannot be self-aware or you could, but then delegate the responsibility of what's happening to you, to other people or anything outside of you. [Mm-hmm.] What are your thoughts on that? Self responsibility and self-leadership?

Unyime: I think they go hand in hand. Just like you, you said, when you come into the space of self-leadership, you can't do that without being aware. And part of your awareness is that you're gonna notice all the places where you've been delegating the authority to other people. And so the hard work, I say hard work here because it's really hard, I find this with my clients, to take responsibility for the part that you've played in the life that you've created. And I know I, I am fully cognizant of all of the experiences that exist in the world and people's, I don't wanna minimize people's lived experiences and the things that may be at war or opposed to them being able to express and fully live in their lives. I do recognize that, and I also think there's space for us to take responsibility for the part that we have played in creating the life that we have. And I think self responsibility is such a big piece of the work if you really want to come and lead your life fully, because you will come against people you will come against things. You will come against experiences that will want to tell you otherwise. Right?

Unyime: So I'll use myself as an example. When I decided to go back from my master's, a lot of people asked me what I was looking for. Why? Why do you want to do this? You are already making all of this money, you have a beautiful family, things are good, there's no reason to. But I remember that I do, there's a part of me that loves public health so much, and I know the vision that I have. We've talked about this in our, in your program, the vision that I have to help women to help, especially single moms and widows and orphans, because that has been my experience and I know to get there, this is part of that work because I wanna be able to have conversations around health and wellness. I wanna be able to have conversations around policy and not just food, but what are all of the social determinants of health that impact the groups of people. That's my vision. But these people don't know that.

Unyime: And so it took me taking that responsibility to say, you know what? I know this is what I wanna create. I know it's going to impact my family. Obviously I have a young family, my oldest is 11, she's gonna be 12 soon. I had to take full responsibility to know that it's gonna impact the way we engage. It's gonna impact our eating, it's gonna impact our schedule.

Unyime: So I never for once sat in this space where I was like, well, nobody's helping me. I'm working so hard and they're not understanding I'm going to school and doing these things. No, I had to remember. This is my vision. I am fully responsible for working and getting my master's. However, I recognize that I'm also working full-time. I also, I'm married. I also have three children, so how do I want to engage in these other areas of my life so that I still go after my dream and it doesn't feel like I'm pushing all of this away. And that came with a lot of having conversations with my husband, asking for help, engaging with my kids, really making sure that I took ownership of the way I planned my schedule, the way I planned my studying and the way I just planned engaging with my family differently.

Unyime: I'll say one thing. Things like eating together became rare because while I'm studying and having meetings, my kids are doing other things. And then our schedules weren't just jamming. And I told them, I said, be patient with me and now we're fine, like we're back to eating together. Things are good and the kids are so happy. Right? But I recognize that was the sacrifice I had to make because I took full responsibility for that.

Stephanie: I love that. So let me ask you this, because a lot of people, a lot of women, people in general, when they have, they're a woman in a workplace, they're a mom in a patriarchal society, they're fat in a thin body, they're black in a white country. People get stuck often, and it's not fair, it should be otherwise Right. And that like, we're starting as a country, as a system to make changes, but it's nowhere near enough to eliminate all the oppression. It's probably, my pragmatic views is probably not gonna be there for hundreds of years. So how we deal with the oppression, when I see people, when they become aware of system of oppression, they get stuck in, well, it's not fair. So I'd keep curious to see for you, if you're comfortable talking about that as a black person working in the white environment, how you deal with that.

Unyime: That's such an interesting question, and I think I'm still evolving in this experience for me. And before I answer that, I just wanna say that for everyone listening, this is not about minimizing that feeling. I think it's so important for us to recognize that your feeling is valid. It is welcome. It's also helpful to notice where, what thought is feeding that feeling right? Some people will think that because of these things, it's not fair. And then these other people that we think are the oppressors need to pay. So then what are you aiming for? Right? This, we live in a society that was created over hundreds and hundreds of years. So while things haven't changed, I am with you as well, Stephanie. I think it's gonna take longer than a lot of us think to achieve what we think we want. I don't even know if we know what we want yet. Right? Because if we did, things will be a lot clearer, but we don't, and I think we're all evolving. We're all learning because this is all new and that's where I like to land. That's where I like to sit in knowing that this is all new for everyone. It's uncomfortable. It's very uncomfortable for people on all of the sides. However, there are people like myself who are early adopters of this work of wanting to see the change. And so while I may feel in the beginning I did feel this is not fair, I had to channel that pain, that anger into, and then what? How do we change it? Because I think about my kids, I think about their kids, if they choose to have children. What is the world that I want them to live in and how do I start to build a foundation in my own little way? And for me at work that looks like, being very open, I'm not opposed to people asking me questions that they think are dumb. I'm very open to welcoming and recognizing that they might be speaking from their frame of reference, and that's okay. I like to think that a lot of us are ignorant, including myself, because I know that they're also places where I have blind spots. So I welcome that. I'm not opposed to that, and I don't look down on people and think, well, you should know that already.

Unyime: I will say though, if you are someone who is not, and this is one of the things that I would, I tell my colleagues, you also have to do your work. [Yeah.] All of us have to do our work. You don't expect the people who are termed, maybe the oppressed, I'm using this in quotes to do all the heavy lifting. You go and do your learning, I do my learning, and then we create a space where we have these conversations. I'm lucky enough to live or to work in an environment where we're very diverse on our team, and I've been, because I'm in the leadership position, I've also used my experience and leverage my relationships to make sure that our team somewhat representative of the kind of workplace that we want. So that has been really beneficial because I do see my team members kind of feeling at home, and that's what I think is helpful for each and every one of us, especially the women who are in leadership positions. I coach women in leadership positions and I remind them when I notice that they're still living under patriarchy. I'll tell you about a client I had, and her thing was she was afraid to take lunch because she works in this high value position and she's allowed one hour lunch, so why aren't you taking your lunch? Oh, something could happen. And we really challenged that thought. And then I brought in the man, I said, if a man was in this position, do you think he would skip his lunch because he's afraid that something's gonna happen in hour in an hour?

Unyime: So I really challenged her in that place because I knew as a leader, she has the power to change. And she is very into women empowerments, and I told her, you're leading, you're an example for the women who work in this space. So if you're not taking your lunch, what do you think you're teaching them? This is not just about you as much as it is. It's also about the people who are looking up to you, whether or not you know. So you have to be thinking about it from that perspective. How do I create an environment with the power that I have so that the people who are coming after me, the people who are watching can see themselves and feel comfortable to open up and start bringing these sides of conversations that are somewhat uncomfortable and may rub people the wrong way, but they're needed, they're necessary.

Unyime: And I remember by the time we had ended our coaching relationship, she was taking her lunch. She was no longer working on the weekends, and she felt really good. And I said, well, now your colleagues get to learn from you because now they see you as a leader, as a woman who's taking ownership over her time, her calendar, like people would just schedule her for meetings and she'd be running all over the place. Like no. We need to bring this sense of, again, self-leadership, taking responsibility for your calendar, responsibility for your time, having boundaries. When people see that, they respect that. [Right.] And that's what I think for me, how I've been able to navigate. I'm still learning and sometimes I would, I wanna say it, it's, it takes a lot. It takes a lot because we don't want it to be this way, but again, we're at the forefront of this movement where the world is changing and we're recognizing how systems of oppression have somewhat not been beneficial or supported groups of people. So I also give myself space. My husband will tell you this, I have the heart of an activist. So there are times when I just wanna like take my torch and blah, and he'll remind me, we know the vision, right? So how can I be gentle with ? When I feel that pain, when I see the things that are happening, how do I take time to take care of myself as well, right? Because, I still wanna be able to have the power and the strength in my body to carry on the work. And I think a lot of us can relate to this over the pandemic where people had, is it caregiver fatigue or whatever that thing was, Exactly. And we don't want that for ourselves. So we also have to remember as much as we do the work to carve out time to take care of ourselves, to nurture that part of ourselves that still sometimes get impacted by what we're feeling and what we're seeing happen. Right? That is so important. Otherwise, we're not gonna be able to carry on and do the work and make the change that we want.

Stephanie: Yeah, so a couple thoughts here. There's a concept that I learned when I went to medical school, it was like com compartmentalizing, [mm-hmm] right? So for me, as in the size, the oppression of the size, there's two worlds. There's like how the world impacts me in my size and the size of the seat and the plan and all the things.

Stephanie: [Mm-hmm.] And then there's how I make the suppression lived in my life. [Yeah.] I can make this oppression, anger, resentment, unfairness, and justice, and then consequently live the consequence of all those emotion but I have to put the work and defining when I'm tight in the seat how I experienced that. [Yeah.] So I had to create compartments to hold the activist part of me, but to hold how I lived through it. [Yeah] And it seemed that it's the same for you, [yes] like there's this separation of things, [Yes, absolutely] in order for you to live your best life. Because if you're just angry all the time, well, it may, may have an impact on society, but globally, I mean billions of people, how much impact can your little life have? But it's gonna make you miserable.

Unyime: Exactly. Exactly. Like you'll see the change that you want from the anger, but also how does that impact you personally, and the relationships and the people around you, right?

Stephanie: Yeah. The quality of your own life. [Mm-hmm.] So if that can help anyone like that, compartmentalization for me has been a big thing and at the end of the day it's a bit of selfishness. [Yeah.] How do I want my life to be? [Yep.] Do I want to be miserable and angry all the time? Or do I want to be happy and compassionate with myself? [Mm-hmm.] How do I want to show up in the world and how much. How you decide to deal with the injustice will impact how you lead other people through it. Your children in your case.

Unyime: Yeah. Yeah. I like that you brought up selfish because I think that's kind of like a taboo word.

Stephanie: It is taboo cause it's not politically correct.

Unyime: No, no, but, but there is an element of selfishness there because we have to think about our people. For me, it's my children. For me, it's my children, and we have these conversations as children who are black in mostly a white school. [Mm-hmm.] We're kind of lucky that we live in an environment where it's not just blacks and whites. We also have in indigenous and other ethnic groups, which has been helpful. But I think for us, the skin is the thing. It stands out. No one needs to hear you open your mouth. And we have these conversations with our kids where sometimes my husband loves to watch the news and we'll watch the news and there are things happening and we have conversations around, well, it's, just like you were saying, it's unfair. My daughter, she's a very, I can tell she's an activist. Why it's unfair they shouldn't do that, and we have these conversations around, well, this is a system that we're moving away from. We're still seeing the impacts of that. However, how do we get to change things in our school?

Unyime: Right. You as children who go to your school and my daughter, she's a very, I can tell right now that she's very strong and powerful in her identity, which tends to rub people the wrong way. [Yes.] Teachers have talked to me about, you know, she kind spoke to me this way and this is this, and then we had a conversation around it, which I really appreciate that they were open to having that conversation with me.

Unyime: And I kind of explained to her teacher where sharp lived experience shows up. I think about my daughter being an adult and someone saying, oh, she's the angry black woman. So this was my opportunity to teach the teacher that this is our lived experience. However, I'm also learning to help her find a good rhythm of when she can harness that power to support. She's like, she'll fight for her classmates. She doesn't want people to get hurt. She doesn't want to see injustice, and I have to teach her where to draw the line between this is your teacher's environment. When you're at school, your teacher is the boss. Right.

Stephanie: Or even how to deliver that message. [Exactly.]

Stephanie: Yeah. That she's at that age where she's learning how to deliver the message.

Unyime: Exactly. And it was so interesting cuz once I talked to her teacher about that, other teachers started to notice, so they'd be like, oh yeah, she's such a great student, but this one thing. And then the teacher had to use that opportunity to teach them about, oh, this is their experience then that's why this is happening. Yeah. So for me, I think that's the work. Right. That's the work. How do we bring this into a lived experience? Cuz yes, like you said, we're still gonna go in places where people say things, her school people have said things, and we understand where those people are coming from. We also are compassionate towards them because maybe they don't know any differently. But we're not gonna let that stop us from showing up and being the light that we wanna be and living the lives that we wanna live. Right.

Stephanie: And I think that's a perfect point to wrap it up because that's self leadership. [Absolutely.] Being aware of the system, being aware how you are gonna respond to whatever's expected of you, and then understanding your impact on other people and what your goal is, what is the best way of delivering to get people moving towards your vision. [Mm-hmm.] That's leadership [Yeah], instead of telling people what to do [and micromanaging them.] Yeah, with the to-do lists. They still are there. To-do lists still exists. It's how you're like conveying the message around the to-do list.

Unyime: It's the execution. I wanna, it's the execution.

Stephanie: I'm sure there's still a family calendar on the fridge and people have tasks to do, but it's how you're delivering the message of the tasks to do, or when they're not done.

Unyime: Mm-hmm. How you handled that.

Stephanie: Yeah. Yeah. Do you have any parting words on this conversation?

Unyime: So, I think one thing I just wanna say is that self leadership is not something that a lot of us need to shy away from. The world is moving in a very different direction, and we're getting into this era where we're gonna start to see a lot of women stand up in their power. So it's very helpful for us to recognize and understand what that looks like for us and choose a vision that works for us, not what has been defined by other people. And it's okay for that to change. So for you, it's a question of how do you want to show up? What is the vision that you have and what do you need to get there and what's the support, right? So then you feel comfortable working towards that and trusting that everything that you need will kind of align as you start to move in that direction. And it might be hard, it might be challenging, but, I mean, we love hard work, let's not lie, and let's just like go with the flow.

Stephanie: Yeah. And is this a type of hard work. [Mm-hmm.] Like I like to say to women, instead of being on the treadmill for 50 minutes, doing 15,000 steps, the hard work becomes learning about your emotion and processing your emotion and learning about your thoughts. [Yeah] It's just a different type of work. Work hard work. It's not sweating and it doesn't take 15 minutes. It's just different.

Unyime: Yeah, absolutely.

Stephanie: So for, I'll say this for most of us, I'll wrap us up on this self leadership is not innate. Depending of our upbringing [mm-hmm] and what type of family environment we were in and so forth, this is a work that we need to do as women is learning to lead our life. And that's what we both do in our own businesses, to help women lead themselves. [Yeah] That's what coaching is really about. [Absolutely.] It's a pleasure being with you again.

Unyime: Thank you, Stephanie. I really appreciate it.

 

Self-Leadership with Unyime Oguta

This is episode 362 of the going to be on the Food Show, and today we are chatting with one of my most often welcome guests on this podcast, OMI Agua, about self-leadership and how self-leadership has played such a vital role in both of our life. And we’re gonna share with you how you can bring more of that. Self leadership into your life. Stay tuned.

Welcome back, my dear sister. I have a unique episode today. It’s something we’ve never talked about thus far in 363 episode of this podcast. It’s something that I’m spending more and more time thinking about and reflecting about, which is self-leadership. And I wanted to have this conversation style about self-leadership because it’s not something I can teach. It’s something we have to live and experience. So I wanted to bring someone to have this conversation with, and it’s one of my student, is someone that is a coach within UN dietary life, udemy Agua. We have been sharing our lives communally for over 12 years right now and we’re both evolving in the same direction. We’re both coaching in the same way, and we both have realized the power of self-leadership and our own life, and we see it day in and day out with the women we work with.

So I wanna bring you into that casual conversation around self-leadership. We’re gonna talk about what it is, how you can recognize it in your own life, and also the differences between self-leadership and responsibility, which actually one fuels the other. It’s not the same thing, but she cannot have one without the other. And Udemy’s gonna talk about self leadership in a perspective that I do not have, which is motherhood. Udemy is a mom of three girls that she is raising with her husband and how it plays a role in her motherhood. And it’s interesting because she talks about it as her daughter getting older. She’s got a daughter in a preteen and a daughter in teenage year, and how it literally creates the foundation of those young women becoming powerful women.

So I will let my team roll in the interview and I hope you enjoy it as much I enjoy having the conversation with Udemy.

Stephanie: Welcome back to the podcast. You, me.

Unyime: Thank you, Stephanie. I’m so glad to be here.

Stephanie: How many times has it been, I’m just realizing that I know we’ve done a top, a couple of dual episode that I had you on an interview. It’s been three or four times now, isn’t it? [Probably.] Yeah. And it’s interesting because we’ve known each other for, I don’t know, three or four years now, three years, two years, whatever. And every time I bring you into an interview to converse about something, there’s an evolution also in your personal life.

Stephanie: [Mm-hmm.] So let’s talk about that first and then we’ll move on to our topic of self leadership. But you’ve evolved recently in your business. I’m curious to know why and what happened there and walk us through this evolution.

Unyime: That’s a big question and it’s one that I keep asking myself because I feel like the past year has just been a lot of, filled with a lot of pain and unraveling and peeling off layers and just like sitting in a lot of discomfort that has pushed me to grow beyond what I thought was possible and I’m still growing, which I think that’s why I said that question is loaded, because when I started, when we met, I think we met 2020, probably sometime around there. And I remember just talking to you about this dream I had, aside from the food and body image, but really wanting to help moms you know, live their lives not in survival, but thriving. That has always been the central message of my work. And as I worked with women on food and body image, I found that there was always this question of what next? What next? Right? And the kind of coaching that we do in your program, it’s not what everyone else does. It’s very unique in the industry and I found my clients asking what next? And me being a little hesitant to help because my focus was, oh, I just do food and body image and then I help you with your children.

Unyime: So even though I knew that was a part of what I wanted to talk about, I wasn’t allowing myself to go there cuz I was really afraid of owning my expertise. I was afraid of owning the, all of the lessons that I’ve learned, all of the things that I have to give to women, not just moms. And I remember one of the coaching that you offered me when I said, I’m scared to be an expert in this space because of my identity as a black woman. And you coached me really hard. I remember that day I was like, fielded with so much like physical pain, just my body visually reacting to that coaching because I knew you were right, but I was really afraid and decided.

Stephanie: What did I say to you? Can’t even remember.

Unyime: You told me to own my expertise. Yeah. And I remember you saying, well, if not you, then who? And I was just like, oh my God, why would she say that? She knows all of the things, Cuz this is what we talk about in your program, like all of the systems and all of the conditioning that we’ve had. And this is an area of my life that I’ve really, I wouldn’t say run away from, but I thought I didn’t have the tools to deal with, so that coaching sent me on this path of just figuring out how do I wanna show up in this space and coaching for moms and women in general, but not doing what everyone else is doing and just teaching women how to show up and lead their lives because there’s more to life than just surviving. There’s more to life than always trying to figure out the next thing to fix myself. If we’re not fixing with food, if we’re not fixing our bodies, it’s what we wear. It’s our children, it’s our marriages, it’s work we’re trying to fix our coworkers. We’re always trying to fix. So that pushed me to get to this space where I thought, you know what? It’s the self-leadership. That’s what the women are looking for because when we start to think about self-leadership from the perspective of the coaching that we do in your program, we then recognize it’s not about control. It’s not about lording over people. It’s not about holding power. It’s about being very confident in yourself and trusting that who you are is enough. No matter where you show up, it’s always gonna be enough. And that’s all that matters.

Unyime: So that’s pretty much it in a nutshell. So now I do coach, I do general life coaching for women. I still have a deep heart for moms, and moms are most of my clients as well. But we talk about just navigating motherhood, their career and life without the burnout out.

Stephanie: That’s beautiful. So as you were working with people, you really lived through the experience of, it’s not about the food, it’s about something else.

Stephanie: And that’s something else you found was the way that women related to being their own leader?

Unyime: Mm-hmm. Yeah. Yeah. I found that, it’s so interesting because the women that I tend to attract are high achievers. [Mm-hmm.] They’re go-getters. They know for sure that. They’re not confused about wanting to chase more in life. Th those are not the kinds of women that I attract. The women I attract, they know they want more, but it’s all of the conditioning and all of the thoughts and beliefs around, well, what does this mean? Does this mean I don’t love my children? Does this mean I don’t care about my family? Do I not care about traditions and all of these things? So, I remember just noticing that in my clients and then I would do my best to help them out and they would still be like, well then what next? Then what next? And I thought, you know what? I’m gonna be the voice for this women. And it’s so interesting that I, over the past two years, because I’ve been focusing on my masters, which you are aware of, I’ve had a lot of them re resign. So I’ve not really had many new clients. I’ve just had a lot of repeat clients because we keep working and peeling layers of life around them. And I’m just, Seeing how they’re transforming, and it’s been such an honor for me to see that, and I’m really excited for what’s to come. Yeah.

Stephanie: That’s beautiful. So for people listening to this, it’s when we’re talking about resign or renewing, is we typically, because we do deep work in our style of coaching, right? We go beyond the food, we go to the real thing that requires deeper work. And it’s usually long term, like it’s not done over a month or two months, like this is six months minimum. And what she just said is that people work with her for six months and they keep wanting to work with her to go to the next layer and the next layer of self-discovery. [ Yeah.] That’s a beautiful testimonial to your work, by the way. [Thank you.] You know that, right? [ Yes.]

Stephanie: So let’s talk about self-leadership, because I’ve never really publicly expressed myself on that because I have some, what people consider radical ideology around self-leadership primarily because that’s the way I live my life. And I’ve always been in that mindset, I guess, of from a place of survival, first of like being my own leader, right? So because of multiple of reason, I’ve had to take ownership over my life and lead myself from a place of survival, and that has evolved over the last seven to eight years. But even though I’m evolving and I’m understanding all the socialization and the conditioning, and I’m learning to be more compassionate with myself and more gentle, even in that space, I believe in self-leadership. I’ve just redefined self leadership.

Stephanie: So for me, self leadership, I’ll let you talk in just a second here, but for me, self leadership is not about self-control, right? And that, that’s where the significant shift has happened is moving from being the leader of my life and taking full responsibility for myself and what’s happening in my world, but from a place of guiding myself instead of controlling myself. And, and, and I’d like to hear your thoughts around what it means to leading yourself, yeah, what are your thoughts?

Unyime: I like that. And something that you said about, it’s not about self-control. So for me, what my first experience with leadership came from when I was working in clinical trials and research. And I was the youngest on the management level. And so I remember our director then, she would tell me, she said, when we go into these meetings, I’m just gonna call on you to speak. And these were people who were in their forties, late forties, fifties, they were my mom’s age, and here I was, I think I was probably maybe 21, 22. And that filled me with a lot of fear. And again, thinking about my identity as a black woman in a company where nobody looked like me, nobody understood my experience, it put me in this place where leadership became a thing of power and control and wanting to show people like, this is my voice. You have to listen. But I knew that was not me naturally.

Unyime: So all of through my working career and even when I was in the mentorship doing the work that you taught us, that was always at the back of my mind where I thought, I know that I can be a good leader. However, the socialization and the conditioning that a lot of us as women have is what we see in patriarchy, is the men in the boardrooms, is the people commanding the atmosphere and lording it over other people. There has to be a better way, there has to be a better way, and I started just experimenting with what would that look like if women were able to just show up as leaders in their own way, what would that look like in the world? That would look like women really standing in their power and not being afraid? Because I find that there are a lot of women who know they have power, they have it, but we’ve been taught to look at power from a very negative light. We’ve been taught to look at power as commanding, as hurting people, as evil, like look at the movies, right? [Oppress oppression.] Exactly. The people who have powers, especially women. I always think about the movie, the Devil Wears Prada, and you see she’s such a powerful woman. However, she’s not the kindest person. She’s very strict, she’s very rash, and I thought, you know what? There has to be a better way. So what would it look like if we started to redefine what that looks like? Just like you said. That would look like thinking about owning whatever that power is and knowing that no matter how strong it is, you can be gentle with it if that’s the way you need it to be. And there are times when it would call on to be strong and commanding, perhaps going into a place where, that kind of thing is needed. But you can also turn it around and be gentle with your children and lead in your home as a mom. If you have a child who is a little bit more emotional, maybe a little bit more sensitive, how can you turn that power into something that feels warm and welcoming. And then you find yourself in rooms where, maybe they’re white men in suits who are speaking numbers, and saying all these things, and you can still carry those conversations and that is the work that I wanna do. I wanna be able to help women to know that you can work in all of those places and you don’t have to change. You just need to know how to understand the power that you hold and then know how to help use that power to relate, to bring better experiences to the people around you to help. Because I know a lot of us, we want to help. We want the world to be better and we can do that right? So that’s my understanding, is the self-leadership is all about owning that power that you have, being comfortable with it and knowing that no matter what, you can show up and you can use that power in good ways. It doesn’t have to hurt anyone. You just need to understand it and know how to use it when you need to.

Stephanie: Would you say it’s flexibility?

Unyime: I think there’s a lot of flexibility in that. I would say that for me, that has been my biggest lesson because like I said, when I started and I got into leadership, it was all about control and like rash, right? Yeah, yeah. But then I’m like, no, this is not, a leader is not micromanaging and it’s not all about management. It’s all about understanding the vision and knowing how to translate that vision to the people that you are working with, the people you’re engaging with. And that comes in our relationships, right? And then knowing how to surround yourself with systems and processes, maybe schedule or whatever you use tools to support you. And that you, understanding that whole system is what helps you to thrive in life.

Stephanie: Yeah, and the more, because it’s interesting when we talk about flexibility and management, because I was, for me, being in a corporate world for 15 years, I started at the tail end of being a manager, and by the end of my career it was about being a leader, right. Then you don’t lead the same way you manage. And I find that a paradigm into my relationship with myself because diet, culture, fat phobias about controlling the food, controlling the body, controlling your appearance. You can still example, I’ve just recently reappropriated a style of clothes that I loved. It was suits and it was like tailored clothes. But because in the past I’ve used these clothes to commend authority, right? I made it mean something so I completely walked away from that style of selection of clothes. But now I’m reappropriating it because it’s not about the clothes, it’s about the person in the clothes and not being a leader from a place of power, but from a place of leading myself and the people who wanna follow me.

Unyime: Oh, I love that so much. And it’s so interesting that you talked about the corporate clothes, cuz that was my experience this past year. So working through my own relationship with food and body and just understanding all of the things that were happening, a part of me thought, well, I need to be more feminine. I need to be more, you know, gravitate more towards like more feminine type clothes, the flowy dresses and flowers and all these things, and I’m not opposed to that, but that’s just not me. I remember being a child and just loving, wearing high heels and thinking about wearing my suits and just thinking like that would be the ideal way to dress for me. And I’ve had to do that work too in the past year, just going back to understanding how do I engage with these clothes in a way that it feels good for me, and also it’s not signifying who I used to be, that oppressive type leader. And it’s been a very interesting journey because as I’ve done that, I’ve also noticed, I know we’ve talked about this in the past, that I used to experience sciatic nerve pain. [Yeah.] And one of the reasons why I also was like, maybe it’s not for me to wear these clothes, was because I couldn’t wear heels anymore. So every time I wore heels, I would be in a lot of pain. I worked really hard to understand my pain. You also coached me on this. I remember when we were talking about it because I was in such a place where I thought, well, if my body’s not gonna support me and this pain is always gonna be here, there was a lot of anger about that and I had to work through that to come together and understand what my body was trying to tell me. And by doing that, I realized, it wasn’t even about the shoes. It wasn’t about the pain. It was more about my relationship with myself and could I lead myself in a way that I was flexible enough to understand when my body needed me to stop, when my body needed me to adjust. And I found over the past, I guess the past year I’ve gone back to wearing heels. I was telling my husband I felt so sad giving my heels away, and now I’ve had to buy new shoes because I don’t experience the pain anymore when I wear heels. Do I still have sciatic nerve pain? I think it’s still there. I haven’t felt it in the long time but I’m not like, I’m not attached to it. The pain is fine to come and to go as it pleases, and that’s okay.

Unyime: And then the other thing that you talked about was the management versus leadership. I think a lot of us, we confuse management. We think that is what leadership is about, but it’s not. For me, leadership is a lot more, I think, vision focused. It’s not stuck in the now and what we need to get done today to fix. It’s about what are we looking to do in the future? Right? Thinking about our self image, who do I want to be? That’s the vision I hold of myself and how do I get there, and what do I need to get there? What are the things I need to be doing daily? So the daily comes in with the self-management, but overall, we’re just leading ourselves towards this vision that we have. And for me and the work that I do, it’s all around thriving and eliminating burnouts.

Stephanie: When we’re talking about vision, that’s part of leadership is having the vision and we’ll bring that back to the individual woman level. Do you have, I’m just talking to the listener, do you have a vision for yourself of where you want to be be what society tells you what you should be. [Exactly.] Right, because most of us like are not even aware, and I think self leadership start with self-awareness, which allows you to look at your thoughts and your belief system and say, oh, I want to beat them because blah, blah, blah, blah. Do I really want to live my life in the pursuit of thinness? That means I’m gonna be on the diet for the rest of my life. Hell no. Okay. What do I want then? If I remove the obligation and the compliance, what do I want for my life? What vision do I have? [ Absolutely.] And in order to lead yourself, you need to know where you’re going. You need to know your objective.

Unyime: Yeah. Yeah. My friends always laugh cuz every time I’ll say, well, that person knows where they’re going. And they’ll giggle. They’ll say, no, I don’t think the person does because for me, like you said, women, we’ve been taught to do this, like this is the way life is. We’re taught that life is like a bento box. We have these little cute sections where things look perfect, and then we’re done with this square. We move to the next square and we do things perfectly there, and then we go to the next one. I remember one of my former colleagues had said to me once when I said I was gonna keep working after I had kids, And she said, you’re living your life backwards. And I said, what do you mean? She goes, well, people, people get married and then they have kids, and then the woman stays home and then when she’s done, she goes back to work. And I said, well, I don’t wanna do that. I don’t see myself being a stay-at-home mom. And she couldn’t understand it. And that was the moment where I recognized that for sure there are these unsaid rules about what women are supposed to do. And if you want to work outside of that, you’re gonna come against a lot of pushback and a lot of discomfort, and people will question you and people will ask.

Unyime: And this goes back to you talking about the vision. If you don’t have a vision about that, Then you’re gonna start questioning your own decisions. Well, maybe I don’t need to do that. Maybe it’s better for me to not do the thing that I want. Maybe I need to wait for my kids to get older. Maybe I need to wait till my husband gets a job. Maybe I need to wait until whatever the reason is. And then we get to this point where we just give up. We’re like, well, what’s the point? I’m already too old. I don’t have the skills anymore. I can’t understand anymore, so I can’t go back to school. And we then end up in this space where our lives are not feeling bright and joyful. And even though we lie to ourselves and say, I’m grateful, like we use gratitude as just like a blanket to be like, yeah, but I’m grateful. At least I’m better than other people. Are you though? Are you really?

Stephanie: Well, most people, I would say, I would venture to say the lack of self-awareness for me. Back, back years ago, I didn’t realize that I wasn’t happy. Like I didn’t know the upper limit, I dunno if it’s the upper limit, but I didn’t know what could be. Right. So I thought what was, was the happiness that one can create.

Unyime: Mm-hmm. But were you settled?

Stephanie: How many women are there that they just don’t know that something else is possible? Mm-hmm.

Unyime: But you’ll know though because you’ll have that longing

Stephanie: For me, I was so not hearing myself, that it came to, my body, shut me down [mm-hmm] because I wasn’t hearing. [Mm-hmm.] I wasn’t like, self awareness was very small, so my body screamed and screamed and at some point my body just shut me down.

Unyime: Yeah. Yeah. That’s the thing. We will, our bodies will always tell us, our bodies will always know if we’re not aware enough. It’s either things will start happening, your body’s gonna start showing you signals, and the more you don’t listen, it’ll just keep talking and talking and talking until it gets your attention.

Stephanie: Louder and louder and louder [yeah] over years [yep] until you have to listen, until it shuts you down to listen. So that’s why when I think about, for me, self-leadership versus self-management, because when you’re self-managed, you don’t need to listen. You just need to obey and comply. Right. So when you move into the world of leading your own life, you have to be aware of yourself, you have to listen to yourself. To me, that’s why it’s the ground, the first place to start. And I’d be curious to hear you talk about self-responsibility because to me, you cannot lead your life. You cannot be self-aware or you could, but then delegate the responsibility of what’s happening to you, to other people or anything outside of you. [Mm-hmm.] What are your thoughts on that? Self responsibility and self-leadership?

Unyime: I think they go hand in hand. Just like you, you said, when you come into the space of self-leadership, you can’t do that without being aware. And part of your awareness is that you’re gonna notice all the places where you’ve been delegating the authority to other people. And so the hard work, I say hard work here because it’s really hard, I find this with my clients, to take responsibility for the part that you’ve played in the life that you’ve created. And I know I, I am fully cognizant of all of the experiences that exist in the world and people’s, I don’t wanna minimize people’s lived experiences and the things that may be at war or opposed to them being able to express and fully live in their lives. I do recognize that, and I also think there’s space for us to take responsibility for the part that we have played in creating the life that we have. And I think self responsibility is such a big piece of the work if you really want to come and lead your life fully, because you will come against people you will come against things. You will come against experiences that will want to tell you otherwise. Right?

Unyime: So I’ll use myself as an example. When I decided to go back from my master’s, a lot of people asked me what I was looking for. Why? Why do you want to do this? You are already making all of this money, you have a beautiful family, things are good, there’s no reason to. But I remember that I do, there’s a part of me that loves public health so much, and I know the vision that I have. We’ve talked about this in our, in your program, the vision that I have to help women to help, especially single moms and widows and orphans, because that has been my experience and I know to get there, this is part of that work because I wanna be able to have conversations around health and wellness. I wanna be able to have conversations around policy and not just food, but what are all of the social determinants of health that impact the groups of people. That’s my vision. But these people don’t know that.

Unyime: And so it took me taking that responsibility to say, you know what? I know this is what I wanna create. I know it’s going to impact my family. Obviously I have a young family, my oldest is 11, she’s gonna be 12 soon. I had to take full responsibility to know that it’s gonna impact the way we engage. It’s gonna impact our eating, it’s gonna impact our schedule.

Unyime: So I never for once sat in this space where I was like, well, nobody’s helping me. I’m working so hard and they’re not understanding I’m going to school and doing these things. No, I had to remember. This is my vision. I am fully responsible for working and getting my master’s. However, I recognize that I’m also working full-time. I also, I’m married. I also have three children, so how do I want to engage in these other areas of my life so that I still go after my dream and it doesn’t feel like I’m pushing all of this away. And that came with a lot of having conversations with my husband, asking for help, engaging with my kids, really making sure that I took ownership of the way I planned my schedule, the way I planned my studying and the way I just planned engaging with my family differently.

Unyime: I’ll say one thing. Things like eating together became rare because while I’m studying and having meetings, my kids are doing other things. And then our schedules weren’t just jamming. And I told them, I said, be patient with me and now we’re fine, like we’re back to eating together. Things are good and the kids are so happy. Right? But I recognize that was the sacrifice I had to make because I took full responsibility for that.

Stephanie: I love that. So let me ask you this, because a lot of people, a lot of women, people in general, when they have, they’re a woman in a workplace, they’re a mom in a patriarchal society, they’re fat in a thin body, they’re black in a white country. People get stuck often, and it’s not fair, it should be otherwise Right. And that like, we’re starting as a country, as a system to make changes, but it’s nowhere near enough to eliminate all the oppression. It’s probably, my pragmatic views is probably not gonna be there for hundreds of years. So how we deal with the oppression, when I see people, when they become aware of system of oppression, they get stuck in, well, it’s not fair. So I’d keep curious to see for you, if you’re comfortable talking about that as a black person working in the white environment, how you deal with that.

Unyime: That’s such an interesting question, and I think I’m still evolving in this experience for me. And before I answer that, I just wanna say that for everyone listening, this is not about minimizing that feeling. I think it’s so important for us to recognize that your feeling is valid. It is welcome. It’s also helpful to notice where, what thought is feeding that feeling right? Some people will think that because of these things, it’s not fair. And then these other people that we think are the oppressors need to pay. So then what are you aiming for? Right? This, we live in a society that was created over hundreds and hundreds of years. So while things haven’t changed, I am with you as well, Stephanie. I think it’s gonna take longer than a lot of us think to achieve what we think we want. I don’t even know if we know what we want yet. Right? Because if we did, things will be a lot clearer, but we don’t, and I think we’re all evolving. We’re all learning because this is all new and that’s where I like to land. That’s where I like to sit in knowing that this is all new for everyone. It’s uncomfortable. It’s very uncomfortable for people on all of the sides. However, there are people like myself who are early adopters of this work of wanting to see the change. And so while I may feel in the beginning I did feel this is not fair, I had to channel that pain, that anger into, and then what? How do we change it? Because I think about my kids, I think about their kids, if they choose to have children. What is the world that I want them to live in and how do I start to build a foundation in my own little way? And for me at work that looks like, being very open, I’m not opposed to people asking me questions that they think are dumb. I’m very open to welcoming and recognizing that they might be speaking from their frame of reference, and that’s okay. I like to think that a lot of us are ignorant, including myself, because I know that they’re also places where I have blind spots. So I welcome that. I’m not opposed to that, and I don’t look down on people and think, well, you should know that already.

Unyime: I will say though, if you are someone who is not, and this is one of the things that I would, I tell my colleagues, you also have to do your work. [Yeah.] All of us have to do our work. You don’t expect the people who are termed, maybe the oppressed, I’m using this in quotes to do all the heavy lifting. You go and do your learning, I do my learning, and then we create a space where we have these conversations. I’m lucky enough to live or to work in an environment where we’re very diverse on our team, and I’ve been, because I’m in the leadership position, I’ve also used my experience and leverage my relationships to make sure that our team somewhat representative of the kind of workplace that we want. So that has been really beneficial because I do see my team members kind of feeling at home, and that’s what I think is helpful for each and every one of us, especially the women who are in leadership positions. I coach women in leadership positions and I remind them when I notice that they’re still living under patriarchy. I’ll tell you about a client I had, and her thing was she was afraid to take lunch because she works in this high value position and she’s allowed one hour lunch, so why aren’t you taking your lunch? Oh, something could happen. And we really challenged that thought. And then I brought in the man, I said, if a man was in this position, do you think he would skip his lunch because he’s afraid that something’s gonna happen in hour in an hour?

Unyime: So I really challenged her in that place because I knew as a leader, she has the power to change. And she is very into women empowerments, and I told her, you’re leading, you’re an example for the women who work in this space. So if you’re not taking your lunch, what do you think you’re teaching them? This is not just about you as much as it is. It’s also about the people who are looking up to you, whether or not you know. So you have to be thinking about it from that perspective. How do I create an environment with the power that I have so that the people who are coming after me, the people who are watching can see themselves and feel comfortable to open up and start bringing these sides of conversations that are somewhat uncomfortable and may rub people the wrong way, but they’re needed, they’re necessary.

Unyime: And I remember by the time we had ended our coaching relationship, she was taking her lunch. She was no longer working on the weekends, and she felt really good. And I said, well, now your colleagues get to learn from you because now they see you as a leader, as a woman who’s taking ownership over her time, her calendar, like people would just schedule her for meetings and she’d be running all over the place. Like no. We need to bring this sense of, again, self-leadership, taking responsibility for your calendar, responsibility for your time, having boundaries. When people see that, they respect that. [Right.] And that’s what I think for me, how I’ve been able to navigate. I’m still learning and sometimes I would, I wanna say it, it’s, it takes a lot. It takes a lot because we don’t want it to be this way, but again, we’re at the forefront of this movement where the world is changing and we’re recognizing how systems of oppression have somewhat not been beneficial or supported groups of people. So I also give myself space. My husband will tell you this, I have the heart of an activist. So there are times when I just wanna like take my torch and blah, and he’ll remind me, we know the vision, right? So how can I be gentle with ? When I feel that pain, when I see the things that are happening, how do I take time to take care of myself as well, right? Because, I still wanna be able to have the power and the strength in my body to carry on the work. And I think a lot of us can relate to this over the pandemic where people had, is it caregiver fatigue or whatever that thing was, Exactly. And we don’t want that for ourselves. So we also have to remember as much as we do the work to carve out time to take care of ourselves, to nurture that part of ourselves that still sometimes get impacted by what we’re feeling and what we’re seeing happen. Right? That is so important. Otherwise, we’re not gonna be able to carry on and do the work and make the change that we want.

Stephanie: Yeah, so a couple thoughts here. There’s a concept that I learned when I went to medical school, it was like com compartmentalizing, [mm-hmm] right? So for me, as in the size, the oppression of the size, there’s two worlds. There’s like how the world impacts me in my size and the size of the seat and the plan and all the things.

Stephanie: [Mm-hmm.] And then there’s how I make the suppression lived in my life. [Yeah.] I can make this oppression, anger, resentment, unfairness, and justice, and then consequently live the consequence of all those emotion but I have to put the work and defining when I’m tight in the seat how I experienced that. [Yeah.] So I had to create compartments to hold the activist part of me, but to hold how I lived through it. [Yeah] And it seemed that it’s the same for you, [yes] like there’s this separation of things, [Yes, absolutely] in order for you to live your best life. Because if you’re just angry all the time, well, it may, may have an impact on society, but globally, I mean billions of people, how much impact can your little life have? But it’s gonna make you miserable.

Unyime: Exactly. Exactly. Like you’ll see the change that you want from the anger, but also how does that impact you personally, and the relationships and the people around you, right?

Stephanie: Yeah. The quality of your own life. [Mm-hmm.] So if that can help anyone like that, compartmentalization for me has been a big thing and at the end of the day it’s a bit of selfishness. [Yeah.] How do I want my life to be? [Yep.] Do I want to be miserable and angry all the time? Or do I want to be happy and compassionate with myself? [Mm-hmm.] How do I want to show up in the world and how much. How you decide to deal with the injustice will impact how you lead other people through it. Your children in your case.

Unyime: Yeah. Yeah. I like that you brought up selfish because I think that’s kind of like a taboo word.

Stephanie: It is taboo cause it’s not politically correct.

Unyime: No, no, but, but there is an element of selfishness there because we have to think about our people. For me, it’s my children. For me, it’s my children, and we have these conversations as children who are black in mostly a white school. [Mm-hmm.] We’re kind of lucky that we live in an environment where it’s not just blacks and whites. We also have in indigenous and other ethnic groups, which has been helpful. But I think for us, the skin is the thing. It stands out. No one needs to hear you open your mouth. And we have these conversations with our kids where sometimes my husband loves to watch the news and we’ll watch the news and there are things happening and we have conversations around, well, it’s, just like you were saying, it’s unfair. My daughter, she’s a very, I can tell she’s an activist. Why it’s unfair they shouldn’t do that, and we have these conversations around, well, this is a system that we’re moving away from. We’re still seeing the impacts of that. However, how do we get to change things in our school?

Unyime: Right. You as children who go to your school and my daughter, she’s a very, I can tell right now that she’s very strong and powerful in her identity, which tends to rub people the wrong way. [Yes.] Teachers have talked to me about, you know, she kind spoke to me this way and this is this, and then we had a conversation around it, which I really appreciate that they were open to having that conversation with me.

Unyime: And I kind of explained to her teacher where sharp lived experience shows up. I think about my daughter being an adult and someone saying, oh, she’s the angry black woman. So this was my opportunity to teach the teacher that this is our lived experience. However, I’m also learning to help her find a good rhythm of when she can harness that power to support. She’s like, she’ll fight for her classmates. She doesn’t want people to get hurt. She doesn’t want to see injustice, and I have to teach her where to draw the line between this is your teacher’s environment. When you’re at school, your teacher is the boss. Right.

Stephanie: Or even how to deliver that message. [Exactly.]

Stephanie: Yeah. That she’s at that age where she’s learning how to deliver the message.

Unyime: Exactly. And it was so interesting cuz once I talked to her teacher about that, other teachers started to notice, so they’d be like, oh yeah, she’s such a great student, but this one thing. And then the teacher had to use that opportunity to teach them about, oh, this is their experience then that’s why this is happening. Yeah. So for me, I think that’s the work. Right. That’s the work. How do we bring this into a lived experience? Cuz yes, like you said, we’re still gonna go in places where people say things, her school people have said things, and we understand where those people are coming from. We also are compassionate towards them because maybe they don’t know any differently. But we’re not gonna let that stop us from showing up and being the light that we wanna be and living the lives that we wanna live. Right.

Stephanie: And I think that’s a perfect point to wrap it up because that’s self leadership. [Absolutely.] Being aware of the system, being aware how you are gonna respond to whatever’s expected of you, and then understanding your impact on other people and what your goal is, what is the best way of delivering to get people moving towards your vision. [Mm-hmm.] That’s leadership [Yeah], instead of telling people what to do [and micromanaging them.] Yeah, with the to-do lists. They still are there. To-do lists still exists. It’s how you’re like conveying the message around the to-do list.

Unyime: It’s the execution. I wanna, it’s the execution.

Stephanie: I’m sure there’s still a family calendar on the fridge and people have tasks to do, but it’s how you’re delivering the message of the tasks to do, or when they’re not done.

Unyime: Mm-hmm. How you handled that.

Stephanie: Yeah. Yeah. Do you have any parting words on this conversation?

Unyime: So, I think one thing I just wanna say is that self leadership is not something that a lot of us need to shy away from. The world is moving in a very different direction, and we’re getting into this era where we’re gonna start to see a lot of women stand up in their power. So it’s very helpful for us to recognize and understand what that looks like for us and choose a vision that works for us, not what has been defined by other people. And it’s okay for that to change. So for you, it’s a question of how do you want to show up? What is the vision that you have and what do you need to get there and what’s the support, right? So then you feel comfortable working towards that and trusting that everything that you need will kind of align as you start to move in that direction. And it might be hard, it might be challenging, but, I mean, we love hard work, let’s not lie, and let’s just like go with the flow.

Stephanie: Yeah. And is this a type of hard work. [Mm-hmm.] Like I like to say to women, instead of being on the treadmill for 50 minutes, doing 15,000 steps, the hard work becomes learning about your emotion and processing your emotion and learning about your thoughts. [Yeah] It’s just a different type of work. Work hard work. It’s not sweating and it doesn’t take 15 minutes. It’s just different.

Unyime: Yeah, absolutely.

Stephanie: So for, I’ll say this for most of us, I’ll wrap us up on this self leadership is not innate. Depending of our upbringing [mm-hmm] and what type of family environment we were in and so forth, this is a work that we need to do as women is learning to lead our life. And that’s what we both do in our own businesses, to help women lead themselves. [Yeah] That’s what coaching is really about. [Absolutely.] It’s a pleasure being with you again.

Unyime: Thank you, Stephanie. I really appreciate it.

 

Podcast Stephanie Dodier

Welcome!

I’m Stephanie Dodier – Non-Diet Nutritionist and Coach. I help women fight diet culture by reshaping their mind not their body. I have been hosting a million downloads podcast- It’s Beyond The Food for over 8 years and created the Going Beyond The Food Method™️, which was born from my own journey with a 25 years dieting career  and has since grown into a global movement.

Get started with our free eating, body image and mindset free assessments.

Get Your Free Non-Diet Assessments

Search Podcast Episodes

Success Stories

Julie Mann

The Going Beyond the Food Method is an amazingly comprehensive program…

Peg Seitz Wedig

Stephanie’s program was life-changing for me…

Deanna McKay

Stephanie”s program tools work…

Jacquie Sands

Working with Stephanie has been a body, mind and…

Carol

Stephanie’s program was an eye-opening and life-changing….

Subscribe to Our Podcast

ASK ME ANYTHING

Questions about body image, food, mindset, motivation, goal setting…

 

You have Successfully Subscribed!

ARE YOU READY

TO END YOUR BATTLE WITH FOOD?

Watch the recording of the Rebellious Eating Solution Masterclass 

You have Successfully Subscribed!

ARE YOU READY

TO STOP STRESSING ABOUT YOUR WEIGHT?

3-Part Masterclass Series 

You have Successfully Subscribed!

diet quiz

IS IT YOU...

OR IS IT YOUR DIET?

Take the Quiz and find out. 

You have Successfully Subscribed!

ARE YOU READY

TO END YOUR BATTLE WITH FOOD?

Register for the Rebellious Eating Solution Masterclass 

You have Successfully Subscribed!