The Circle Line

Lucy

"A “well” human in neuroscience is a productive human, and that was fascinating to me
and started opening up my curiosity to owning my wellbeing."

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About 2 years ago, I started working with cognitive neuroscientist, and now friend, Araceli Camargo. Araceli used the term “well-being” in connection with productivity in human beings. A “well” human in neuroscience is a productive human, she said.

I tend to lean towards science, and measurable things. I don’t identify as a spiritual person. I’m agnostic, I’d say. I’ve always found “self-care, self-love” a little light and difficult to get on board with. It’s so intangible. I’m more satisfied when I’m ‘doing’, and can see my impact.

But working with Araceli it all started to make sense. I said, hold on a minute, I can be more productive if I’m well? She was like, yes absolutely. I began to appreciate the importance of responsibly managing our basic needs – making sure we stop to eat at lunchtime and take regular breaks. I can get so hyper focused it’s like I stop feeling. I can go hours without noticing that I’m thirsty, have a headache, or even need the toilet!

I knew I wasn’t looking after myself, when I realised in year 3 of running my first startup that I was burning out. It scaled quickly, and by year 3 we’d seen 1700% growth. By year 4 we were turning over £5 million with a team of 20. It was high-paced and high-turnaround. Global retail brands wanted full flagship takeovers designed and delivered within weeks at £150,000 a pop. It was heavyweight size, scale, and speed.

With no management training or leadership support it’s no surprise I found this incredibly challenging. It did bring rapid personal growth and learning, but it came at a cost to my mental health and physical wellbeing.

Recognising I was stuck in a cycle of chronic burnout, I found a therapist and started attending weekly appointments. It was only there that I felt I could truly be myself. I could take off my CEO mask, and the healing could start.

I learnt the importance of being a student of myself, of continuing to practice self-compassion and to look after my basic needs. After all, as adults, nobody else is going to do this for us. We have to do it for ourselves.

To maintain my health now, I practice what we preach at Flux – where we support leaders in uncertainty by cultivating curiosity. I’ve also joined a local choir group and book club. And, I go running with my dog, Neve, 3 or 4 mornings a week when I’m working from home.

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Lucy created a podcast about neuroscience & wellness here www.fluxfutures.com/resources – see episode 3 ‘Why Cognitive Wellness Matters’

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