S5 E8 | CXR Podcast: Susana Rinderle shares some wisdom
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Chris Hoyt, CXR 0:21
Let’s jump right in. So Susana, so for those who don’t know, let’s let’s just do a quick I like to ask our guests to do here on the CXR podcast to an escalator pitch of who they are and why anybody should sort of be paying attention to what they have to say in their opinion. So can you give us kind of a quick overview of kind of who you are and a little bit of your history, you’ve done some writing for workforce magazine, you do some writing I picked you up on really hit my radar for TLNT and ERE. But why don’t you tell everybody? A little bit about yourself?
Susana Rinderle, Words, Wisdom & Wellness 0:52
Sure. Thank you so much, Chris. And thank you so much for inviting me to chat with you today, it’s really a pleasure to talk with you again, and sort of indirectly meet your members. Um, so sort of the way I describe my work is that I help heal what ails us through creativity, heart and insight. So I am the principal owner and founder of a company called Words Wisdom and Wellness. And I identify as a writer, wisdom coach and wellness warrior. What does that mean? That means that I publish and write essays, articles and poems. I’m a published poet and performance poet. I do transformational life and leadership coaching. And I also do trauma informed body focused stress management work. And oftentimes that dovetails with the coaching. I’m also a former and recovered workplace wizard, which is part of what we’ll talk about today. So I come from a 30 year career, mostly in the diversity, equity and inclusion space with some organizational development and leadership development thrown in. So if that’s if any of that tickles anyone’s fancy, that’s why they should listen. And if not, that’s okay, too.
Chris Hoyt, CXR 2:06
Well, look you. There’s a lot of squishy stuff in there, right? Some folks would say as long as squid a lot of feelings stuff in there a lot of headspace stuff in there. But I will tell you that your your post what caused me to reach out and say, could you could you please join us on the show and chat a little bit your post was when you said, like, I’ve been a DE&I leader for a very long time, and I just can’t do it anymore. And if you weren’t fit the right, these were your words, I’m not fit to be in this role anymore. And that seemed to me I read that a couple of times, it seemed to me be very honest. Confession of its, you know, when it’s time to pass the baton or time to leave, can you? And for those who haven’t read it, we’ll put a link in the in the post show. But for those who haven’t read it, can you kind of give us sort of an overview of how did you get to a point where you said, I can’t do this anymore? Or it’s not good for me or it’s not good for them?
Susana Rinderle, Words, Wisdom & Wellness 3:02
Oh, such a big question, isn’t it and that was an article that I’ve put a lot of heart and soul into, and I’m actually writing a second piece that will be elsewhere. So if folks are interested in following me, they’ll they’ll see that when that comes out and shopping it around. But as I talked about in the piece, it was a slow moving realization that inconveniently started around about the time I did my TEDx talk. Diversity is necessary for human evolution in 2012. And there were a number of things that occurred around the same time, there was the murder of Trayvon Martin, and then the acquittal of his killer George Zimmerman. And there were a couple incidents here locally that really gave me pause. And just it’s one thing to hear your elders talk about what’s happened in the past and cycles repeating, it’s quite another visceral experience to see it for yourself. And, um, you know, integrity is my highest personal and professional value. And, you know, I have been concerned about racism, sexism and oppression since I was a child and homophobia. So I’ve been on this journey personally, professionally and academically, academically, to sort of understand racism and oppression, do my personal work so that I don’t add to the harm myself. And try to facilitate and equip others to also go particularly white people to also go on that journey. And the piece that you referred to was actually the result expected result of a brainstorm with my brilliant editor over there at TLNT. Vadim Lieberman, who is the self described Liberace of HR and is quite a cutting edge, fantastic human and cutting edge thinker and we were initially talking about an article about burnout like how do I know that I’m just tired or burned out like is this a temporary I’m sort of stressed out I need to go to Cancun and just you know, lay in the In the cabana for a week or do I need to say peace out. And it ended up being that but it ended up being sort of also my coming out around. I’m officially used DE&I, in my journey as an example of burnout. And my sort of initial public coming out around, I’m leaving the field after 30 years now the fields not leaving me. Once one has an equity inclusion and anti racist anti oppression lens, I don’t think that ever leaves and it’s certainly embedded into all the work I do. But no more working with organizations to try to move the needle.
Chris Hoyt, CXR 5:35
Is there a trigger for you like a? Was it just a series of small things where you said, I’m reading, it’s time for me to read my own signs?
Susana Rinderle, Words, Wisdom & Wellness 5:43
Great question. I mean, I’m here in California, so I’ll use an earthquake metaphor, it wasn’t like the big one hit, it was like we had several, there were several serious shocks, it was like, you know, I need to leave this building, because it’s not, it’s gonna fall down in the next earthquake. So I use the words not fit for duty, you know, which comes from sort of law enforcement and healthcare. And the three points I make in the articles that I realized, first of all, that I’ve experienced too much harm. And that’s important to really let sink in. Because while I do have marginalized identities, they’re not visible ones except for my gender. So I get to navigate the world in a white sis head body. And yet, I still have experienced so much harm, that my nervous system is no longer able to recover in a way that I can show up for my clients. And for, you know, the people I love outside of work. So the harm was too much too great and too ongoing. For me to be able to really fully show up and be in integrity. The second was that I was causing too much harm.
Chris Hoyt, CXR 6:50
So there’s this talk a talk a little bit about that, please.
Susana Rinderle, Words, Wisdom & Wellness 6:54
Sure. Sure, Chris. And this requires a lot of courage to even notice much less say out loud, you know, that there’s the saying hurt people hurt people. Hmm. And well, I don’t think anyone that knows me, well, or most of my clients say I’m not conscientious. I’m known for being maybe conscience. It’s almost to a fault in very meticulous and detail oriented and empathic, and all those things that you picked up on, I was starting to notice that my unprocessed, accumulated anger, frustration, pain and grief, starting to bleed over in ways that I was just increasingly frustrated, particularly with white people, particularly with organizations, and not being willing or able to do the work that’s needed. And finding myself starting to do starting to lash out a little bit and really indirect ways, some subtle, some overt when I realized, you know what, any good that I might do as a consultant on a DEI project might be balanced out by this negative energy of anger and grief that I’m carrying around. And the third reason, Chris, in the article was that, you know, I’m an imposter.
Chris Hoyt, CXR 8:12
It’s a tough one, Susana because you talk about there are people who function quite successfully with this imposter syndrome. Right and have a really hard time with it. And yet are not they are exactly where they should be where they have earned to be. But when when you say, I’m an imposter? I mean, are you and we haven’t talked about this? Are you? Are you are you proclaiming that you’re in a role or position or a state where you shouldn’t have been or that you just, you couldn’t somehow quantify how you got there?
Susana Rinderle, Words, Wisdom & Wellness 8:42
That’s a great question way to frame it, I would say more the former than the latter, Chris. And for those of you that are listening, I want you to kind of notice what showed up for you. And you heard me say I’m an imposter. Because that’s something that can really bring stuff up for people and those feelings and sensations always point to some invitation to awareness or personal work or something like that. Because, yes, there has been to your point, there has been a lot said and written about imposter syndrome. In the last several years as a transformational wisdom coach, I attract a lot of clients, particularly mid level and senior leaders that are people of color and are women and are queer, that are dealing with imposter syndrome. But the problem with the way imposter syndrome has gotten talked about is whether consciously or unconsciously, it’s usually been framed as, you know, people of color and women and queer folks somehow have lower self esteem and we need to help them have better self esteem and sort of, you know, get the mentoring or the confidence that they need to be successful. When actually there’s some new soft thought leadership coming out, which I think is more truthful, which is there’s a reason that people with marginalized identities like women, queer people, have color feel like imposters because we’re constantly being given messages, mostly unintentional, that we don’t belong. But rarely is the question ever asked, do you belong? So I find that a lot of us sometimes get on these tracks in the corporate world in particular, to sort of prove something to this themselves or someone else, usually not consciously, when, you know, just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Now and I have to say there’s some generational privilege here as a Gen X, or I can sort of say that, whereas for boomers, it was more a matter of maybe of survival, like, I’m going to break down that racist curtain, I’m going to break bust that glass ceiling, because holy cow, something someone needs to do something and I can, like, Thank you, you know, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, thank you, you know, all the people that, you know, really found the support, the tenacity, whatever, you know, the grit, all those, you know, words we like to throw around to do that. And now I think with gen xers and millennials, we can also kind of now think those elders and those ancestors and pause and go, but do I really belong here? Now? Do I belong in the fight, and the vision and the creativity around creating a world that works better for more of us? Absolutely. That’s been me, since I can long as I can remember, that’s going to be me till I die. But being a DI consultant in organizations that are facing unprecedented and unmanageable stressors and system change? Absolutely not. I’m not the right person. That doesn’t mean that someone else might be me. My, my choices are a statement about my life. They’re not a statement about anybody else’s. But I would not be an effective change agent. If I didn’t do my personal work, look at it and go, You know what, it’s time for me to step back. It’s time for me to do something different. still hold on to the values and the goals and the vision, but not do it like this because I’m causing harm, and it’s hurting me. And if it’s hurting me too much, then it’s hurting the world.
Chris Hoyt, CXR 12:06
Maybe maybe just time to move to another channel. Same mission. Right. Same goals but but move to the channel to do that work. Yeah.
Susana Rinderle, Words, Wisdom & Wellness 12:14
Yeah. To quote to quote the the wise one Beavis, this sucks change it.
Chris Hoyt, CXR 12:21
Susana Rinderle, Words, Wisdom & Wellness 12:24
But yeah, we got a got a change channel change of frequency.
Chris Hoyt, CXR 12:28
So some of the it’s funny that we sort of veered off in this direction. But you know, in the last, I think, since we’ve spoken maybe about a month ago, I think, I have had well, just in the last two weeks, I’ve had at least two conversations with heads of talent, who who all but break down in tears, because they are tired, they are just exhausted. And they and they see it in their teams. I think the first one started with a with an executive, just venting that the people are just screwing up dumb mistakes, unavailable, can’t reach them, you know, just just misstep after misstep that’s out of character, or that would have been out of character maybe two years ago. And then the call ends with this some level of self reflection single will shit maybe it’s me, that’s exhausted. And maybe it’s me that has my patience or my affinity to be able to sort of listen better and help lean in and coach has been shortened right? Are you seeing the same thing? I would imagine Are you seeing the same thing across the board? Is this just a big red flag that nobody? It’s really I’m speaking in absolutes, but nobody is doing anything about for these leaders. Ah, there’s nobody’s getting a shitload of note, nobody’s getting a ton of more staff, but they are getting asked for work. They are tired. They’re like, are you seeing the same thing? Are you seeing something different?
Susana Rinderle, Words, Wisdom & Wellness 13:58
So first of all, I just, I just felt that in my body when you said that, my empathy and my grief and my anger? Um,
Chris Hoyt, CXR 14:08
Here’s a good one. It makes me angry.
Susana Rinderle, Words, Wisdom & Wellness 14:11
Yeah. Yeah. And it should. And let me tell. Let me say why. First of all, my my bias. My context, my perspective here is that when I say 30 years in DEI, I’ve done that as a consultant with my own businesses. I’ve done that as a principal with a large corporate consulting firm. I’ve done that as an employee, and I’ve done it as an internal leader and a 6000 person, organization and healthcare. So I’ve come at this from multiple sectors in multiple roles. And what I want to say is what is emblazoned across the header of my the website of my current company, which is you’re not bad. You’re not crazy, and you’re not alone. And here are the two things that no one As telling these leaders, first of all, we are right now facing tremendous as I was kind of alluding to earlier, tremendous systemic pressures. We are now facing the music. The chickens are coming home to roost after decades of not investing in organizations, people, families, communities. We are right now. And you know, I see this across the board. So yes, again, not bad, not crazy, not alone. People across the board, whether they’re frontline employees, or executives are being asked to do the jobs of two to three people. Yeah, for the pay of one at the pay rate of the 80s. So let’s just talk about that the expectations are inhumane, and impossible. And people are feeling that, but they we are told that it’s us. United States is a very individualistic culture. And I’m not saying that in any judgment, good or bad way. I’m just stating, anecdotally, as well as research. That’s how we’re oriented. So we think the problem and therefore the solution lies and resides in the individual. So that’s the first thing I would say to you and to folks is that there are tremendous systemic, long term pressures that are coming home to roost and that we are feeling in our bodies. And that takes me to the second thing that people are not saying is that the human nervous system is genius. Human beings are not designed to be working like dogs 60 hours a week, doing multiple things with hundreds of different other human beings, not eating fresh nourishing food that was prepared by someone that we love, not being on devices who are really designed to keep us on the device. Um, we are experiencing a tremendous what’s called allostatic load for our nervous systems that we cannot manage. And particularly in the last two years, I love that you said that adding on a global pandemic waves of global pandemics that have also disconnected us from touch from community from even being able to see people’s faces is tremendously debilitating. And when the human nervous system, this is where I’m going to geek out on semantics, and then I’ll stop my fire hose. When the human beings have a seven to eight different stress responses as mammals as primates and as highly social species. And four of those are freeze states, which are an extreme response to threat that our nervous system goes into without our awareness, knowledge, permission, and even an emotion. And if our bodies go into some form of a freeze, freeze threat, freeze state, first of all, remember numbed out, we’re disappearing, we’re checked out. So of course people are going to forget stuff, they’re already dealing with too much. And then when we start to come out of a freeze state and thought our bodies have to go through activation before we reach calm. And that’s where a lot of conflict, a lot of acting out starts to take place. I know a lot of my HR colleagues are seeing complaints and crazy acting out behavior like never before. Why? Because the human nervous system is starting to thaw from those extreme stress states. So we are asking way too much of people in organizations and we’re also asking way too much from our workplaces. We are now expecting our workplaces not just to give us money so that we can have our basic physical needs met. But we’re also looking for all these psychosocial and emotional needs to be met, like belonging, like purpose, like meaning that the workplace was never designed to meet. Yeah, it’s just too much.
Chris Hoyt, CXR 18:59
Oh, well, look, Susana, I feel like I could talk to you for three hours and just just on this piece alone, but let me let some I know we’re running up on time. We try to keep these pretty brief. But let me ask Is that Is there something that you would give a word of advice or snippet that you would give to the leaders who are listening to maybe help recognize that that pattern right or just something to watch out for? Or if they feel it coming? What what should they do? Is it just once or one thing you would sort of advise or give to them as a takeaway from today?
Susana Rinderle, Words, Wisdom & Wellness 19:34
And one is tough. But I guess I guess I’ll say what I’m what some of my coaching clients are working on right now, which seems to be important is to start to discern your yes and your no. In you, like aside from what anyone else says whether their family member or your boss or your team. Where’s your Yes and your No. And how do you know that in your body? Your body never lies? And how can you get curious then about the sources of those yeses and noes? Is it coming from that wisdom from that abundant internal wisdom that we have? Or is it coming from a story that we’ve internalized or adopted from our culture that actually may not be serving us in that moment? So that’s deep and nuanced work that a an effective professional coach or therapist can help untangle, starting to discern? Where’s your yes and no. And how do you personally in your body gauge that? You know, just off the cuff, Chris, you know, is probably where I might invite folks to start.
Chris Hoyt, CXR 20:42
Fantastic look, we don’t normally do this. We don’t we don’t let anybody do a plug. But this is i This is a hot topic. I think this is what Gerry and I have talked about, we talked with leaders about all the time, you mentioned your website, and you were also Pro to not drop a link in there. But let me ask you, do you have a URL? Or do you have something you want to send people to if they want to find out more information about misery underlay if they want to learn a little bit more about what you do? And maybe talk to you directly?
Susana Rinderle, Words, Wisdom & Wellness 21:06
Oh, sure. And thank you for that invitation. Chris, I would be here even without that. That generosity, but yes, my website is wordswisdomwellness.com.
Chris Hoyt, CXR 21:18
I love it.
Susana Rinderle, Words, Wisdom & Wellness 21:19
And you can also Google my name and find my YouTube channel and social media as well.
Chris Hoyt, CXR 21:23
Awesome, thanks. But for those who are on the podcast, be sure that you continue to subscribe or add that like or whatever channel that you’re on. But we do these live streams to YouTube every week. And we go ahead and send them out. I think after post we put these fancy bumpers on them, we send them out to post anywhere that you subscribe it you can find more information at CXR.works/podcast. And if you’re interested in checking out what we’ve got going on in the events space, we’ve got some members only a content going on out there a new lecture series, we’re kicking off our second one coming up on empathy, interestingly enough, and then we’ve also got some things that we’re doing open to the public book club, happy hour, that sort of thing. You can see all that out at CXR.works/events. So thank you again so much for joining us. We’re really really grateful for the time you’ve given to everybody that’s dialed in.
Susana Rinderle, Words, Wisdom & Wellness 22:07
Honored, and thank you so much for inviting me into the rest of you for listening.
Chris Hoyt, CXR 22:11
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