On this episode of THRIVE — sponsored by Workamajig — Kelly and Barbara Mutedzi discuss where to begin on the journey toward self-awareness, and how healing allows you to become a more effective leader.
EP 96: How Healing Impacts Leadership with Barbara Mutedzi
Kelly: Welcome to Thrive your agency resource. I am so excited because we are talking about a topic that I love, How Healing Impacts Leadership. And joining me is someone who I am extremely, extremely thankful to have on the show today. Joining me all the way from Zimbabwe is Barbara Mutedzi. She self describes as a human catalyst and she's essentially a conscious leadership coach for the last 12 years. She's also a member of the new collective that I launched called Consciousness Leaders. But Barbara, welcome to the show. I am so excited to talk to you today.
Barbara: Thank you so much, Kelly. I'm so excited as well. We have so many things to share and stories that are just parallel. So this is an exciting time. Thanks so much.
Kelly: Yeah. So we chatted a little bit earlier. And I think where we came out is really this idea that healing has not really been talked about in the leadership space, because historically, as business owners, as creative agency leaders, we're focused mostly on business growth, right?
Kelly: So let's start out with what does healing have to do with leadership?
Barbara: I know, that's a big question.
Kelly: That is a big question.
Barbara: I feel that scares people away as well. Because it's not something that's typically talked about in business growth and in leadership. But where I'd like to start is that we can never lead others or build a business beyond where we psychologically are. And that says a lot. I know that. But one of the things that we have as people is blind spots, and sometimes we project them out without us, actually realizing that we're doing that. And even when you talk about projections, don't think too much about that word. Think about any mistake that you've ever done in the past that you regret, whatever it was that you did, whether in your business or in leadership. When you did that, it probably felt like the right thing at that time. As we mature, when you look back, it probably wasn't. But in that time, you weren't so aware of that. So it was a blind spot. And so healing for me, it's not so much about, we need to sit down and put bandages around and things like that, because I know that visual picture comes up. But it's more about increased self-awareness because we've got wounding from our past. And again, wounding is a big word. And we'll try and just break that down. But we've got some habits that we've picked up along the way that may or may not be so great for the decisions that we're making. Now, the reason why we talk about decisions as well here is because the decisions we make every day are coming from us as human beings and those decisions are impacting our businesses and the people we're working with to build those businesses. So I'll give you an example because I know that's kind of all over the place. But my parents died when I was quite young. And when I was young, we never really understand what death was or is. And for me, I felt like they abandoned me, like they decided to die. That's how I experienced it. Because as a kid that makes sense, and they didn't ask for my permission, and they left me as a child. And those are the only people I knew who showed me love. And so I carried that wound throughout all my friendships, my relationships, my business decisions, I would always become a people pleaser, because I didn't want people to leave me. So that's a psychological wound that I've carried from my parents’ death. When I was young, my dad died when I was 6. So that's like 34 years ago, three decades ago. My mom when I was 16, about two decades ago, and I've carried that out throughout. So when it comes to making business decisions, or signing a contract, or working with someone, I always undercut myself, because I didn't want them to leave me. Now, obviously, I didn't say that out loud. And I myself didn't realize that that's what I was doing because it was a word I wasn't aware of because culturally, we don't talk about psychological wounds. Because outside, I am healthy. Everything is fine. I'm running a business. Everything is okay. It looks okay on the outside. But actually, when we want to run a business and grow a business, it's not so much about you as an individual. It is the value that you're also bringing with that individuality. So your individuality also impacts on all the decisions that you're making. So who you are as a person is so, so important. At the moment, we talk a lot in the business space around emotional intelligence, that's the buzzword at the moment. And I see emotional intelligence as knowledge. We were told, growing up with that knowledge is power. But knowledge is not power. Knowledge is only potential power. It becomes power when you do something constructive and positive moving with it.
Kelly: Right. If you’re conscious. If you use the power in a conscious context.
Barbara: Absolutely, because you can also use it negatively. So it's always the positive and moving forward as a collective view, your business and the people that you work with, the people you're in partnership with. It always has to be a win-win scenario. So that's the knowledge we're talking about. And that's where emotional intelligence is. So I see emotional intelligence as just knowledge, but we are not doing anything about it at the moment, from what I'm seeing. It's okay now that I know that when I do something, or when I say something, or when I'm interacting with someone, these are the emotions that are coming up. But I now don't know what to do with these emotions, this knowledge that I have. Moving forward with that it's okay now that you realize what's happening inside your body, whether it's someone you're wanting to work with, or an area of your business that you want to grow; how do you move forward, knowing that this emotion holds you back, whether it's something that you're scared of or afraid of. And, emotional intelligence comes from self-awareness, deep self-awareness, because emotional intelligence is the result of self-awareness. It's not like in go and get emotional intelligence. That's where the difference between knowledge and emotional intelligence is. You can go and get knowledge, but you can never go and get self emotional intelligence. You have to go on a journey of truly understanding who you are before any of the titles that you have, whether you're a parent, a partner, a business owner, a leader, whatever that is, before that, who are you really, because when you saw all that , it becomes easier for you to have clarity on the direction that you're going. And then when you start doing the work of psychologically understanding why you do the things you do, it becomes easier for you to make decisions that are fruitful for your business growth. So that's where you can start perhaps in terms of healing, if we could use that word, to ask yourself each time you do something, why do I do this? Where does this come from? Is it something that I really want? When did I start feeling this way? And maybe with that, you start seeing your own patterns, and you probably start seeing where that started. And because what you're trying to do is to get to the root of the reason why you do what you do, whether it's undercutting yourself, whether it's pushing forward very fast, without sort of getting all the information you need, whether it's leading other people, so it's all of those things.
Kelly: Yeah, I love how you framed that because I think this work and, even just this concept, forget about the work yet, but like just the concept of healing and leadership, these things that, historically have had nothing to deal with one another for lots of different reasons, societal, cultural, all of these things, like there was a stigma around anything that was psychological or mental. We automatically assume that, or associate mental illness with with these things. But the reality is, we all had trauma, we all had wounding. We all were imprinted and programmed in a certain manner. Because that's just how humans develop from 0 to 7. Some people say 0 to 12, right? No one had a perfect childhood. And we're not blaming mom and dad for everything. But the reality is, there are certain needs that needed to get met, and no parents were perfect. So it's okay, right, like these wounds are totally normal and natural. But what I encapsulate all of that to say, what I like about what you said, for the latter part of that, is you're giving people a tool to say, okay, I'll buy into what you're saying, where do I start? And your answer to that is, just get curious. Just start asking questions of yourself, just start noticing, why am I thinking this way? Or why did I just say that to this person? Or why did I just make that decision? Right? So if you start getting inquisitive with yourself, that's the perfect way to start because that is literally the gateway to self-awareness. Right? It's perfect. And I also want to put a little pin and reiterate in something that you said that I absolutely love. It's it's a great soundbite, but it also I think, is very necessary, especially today. Everyone is so focused on emotional intelligence. It's sort of like the hot topic. Take the buzzword, everyone wants to have high emotional intelligence. But you said emotional intelligence is the result of self-awareness. Yeah, that is the most true thing that I have heard in a very long time. So, thank you for that.
Barbara: And there's no way that you can go and get emotional intelligence. It's a result.
Kelly: It's not available on Amazon people.
Barbara: No. If only.
Kelly: Jeff Bezos doesn't need any more money. [Commercial] When we were chatting a little bit earlier, you also were sharing a little bit with me about how some of your own journey has impacted you and some of the things that you've learned and are taking away. And one of the things that I've resonated with a lot is that you said that you're trusting your intuition more. So, as a benefit of doing this deep work and being very self-aware, not that people need to become a conscious leadership coach, but to become more conscious leaders, trusting your intuition as a benefit to this work. Can you talk a little bit about what that actually means and how that shows up?
Barbara: Yeah. I'm going to use an example around the education system in general, if I could start there, because you talked about indoctrination. And with that, with the education system, if you think about it, so I started grade school when I was 5 or 6. So you go to school, and as long as you're a good memorizer of the textbooks, you call this banking, by a Brazilian educator called Paulo Freire. He talks about the banking method. And I always think of a little cartoon, you go to school, you open your little head, the teacher puts information in you, memorize all the textbooks. And even when you study, you study past exam papers, then you close your brain, you go to the exam room, and you just regurgitate the same information. So you actually haven't learned how to think for yourself, as long as you can memorize things that society and culture who by the way, are other people who have also gone through the same process, you will be “okay”, but you find that a lot of people go through quarterlife crisis or midlife crisis because something in them is telling them this is not right. But to fit into society, or to fit into some sort of business or to fit into you as a man or a woman or what society or culture or the business space has told you to be. You have to do these things, but your soul and your spirit, and you can name that whatever it is, it's not about religion. It's just that inner voice within you. Sometimes it's a niggling feeling that says, okay, this does not feel right. But I'll just do it because that's the status quo. And what I've done is, when I started the journey of asking myself, why do I do the things that I do? And especially when they don't feel right, that's why I start like, why did this not feel right? Was there an indication before I went into that, that didn't feel okay? And why do it anyway? And half the time it was because I'm falling back on the memorization of how I should behave in certain scenarios, even though it doesn't feel okay. So that stops you. There's a German term term called blitzscaling, which is growing your business very fast, but intelligently. And you can't do that if you've got this psychological blocks that keep you falling back on other people's plans. It doesn't allow you to open up to whatever it is inside of you that knows why you're here. So I'm going to digress a little bit and talk about purpose. And for business owners, you might understand purpose. Let's take a business scenario. You have a business strategy. The purpose of your business, the vision, which is what are your goals in the next 5 to 10 years, your mission, which is your vision, goals broken down and your values and your implementation plan that goes back on your life as well because I do believe that we are all managers and directors of our own lives, whether we choose to believe it or not as adults because every day we make some sort decision. So let's take that business template and put it on an individual template. So as an individual, we all have a purpose, whether we know how to clarify it or not. And earlier, you talked about the intuition and the purpose and the inclination to move towards something that's right. And you talked about curiosities. That's the word. I'm looking for curiosities. So when someone comes to me and says, “Well, Barbara, I don't know what my life purpose is.” My answer is, always your soul. And your spirit knows why it's here. Your intuition knows why it's here. And we just need to increase the dial on your intuition and reduce the volume of what other people have told you along with what you need to do. And the way to increase that volume on your intuition is to follow the things that you're curious about, whatever you're curious about, go research it, even if it does not align with what you've done in your entire life. There's something there that's pulling you in that direction. Do the things that bring you joy. Do those things more often. So you'll have business owners when I say that who will say, “Well, we're so busy Barbara. We don't have time to follow curiosities, and do the things that bring me joy.” So then I say, “Okay, let's start with your diary.” So again, when I coach, I recommend that everyone has a diary. And I then say at the beginning, write down a list of every single thing that you do every day from Monday to Sunday. And now let's look at this list. In this list, can someone else do the stuff? Can you delegate to someone else? Do you enjoy doing this stuff? Can someone else do it? Can you automate some of these things? And when you start sort of delegating and teaching other people to do especially the duties that you don't enjoy doing, you find that you start creating the space, that you can go back and start doing the things that you do enjoy, the things that you're curious about. Because here's the beautiful thing about that, as a business owner, it sparks your creativity, and you need that to grow your business. Whatever it is that pushed you into that business, it's still there that spark, that's your intuition. So we need to increase that volume of that intuition, that inner guide, whatever you call it, whether it's your angel, whatever it is. It's got nothing to do with religion, but we always have that inner voice. That is a smaller voice. Because unfortunately, because we always listen to news. We're always on social media. We're always online. We're engaging, and moving away from that intuition. The volume of it has gone down. So the way to increase it, that purpose is follow the things that feel right. I mean, the reason why I'm on this podcast as well is because speaking to you, Kelly, for me, it was, oh, I like this person, and I want to speak to this person more. And that felt right. So this conversation feels right. I didn't have to think, whoa, do I really want to speak to this person? And that has happened in the past where I knew that this person is not at the same thinking level as I am. And that could be either they were ahead or behind. It doesn't matter. But we are not in the same space at that time. And this is not to say there's anything wrong with you or with them at that specific time. You're not just speaking the same language. And that's okay. The time come for that if it's meant to happen, but for right now, you need to increase that volume of your intuition. Because here's the thing, when we talk about healing, your intuition at times will tell you, okay, we might need to go back and rethink this thing that we did, because it didn't feel okay. But we shut it down and push it down because we just move forward. And unfortunately, the more you push things down, the more they do come up and half the time it's in scenarios when you don't want them to come up.
Kelly: Yeah, I definitely resonate with that. Having been someone who has historically repressed so much emotion, literally from as long as I can remember, up until the point where I was running an agency, and all the way through even when after I sold it, like it's work. And I say this often on the show, whenever we talk about this kind of deep work, this inner work, this healing work, whatever we want to term it, it is not for the faint of heart. There's a reason why you have the society and everything else that we're dealing with out in the world today. And you have a small subset of people who are already conscious leaders, who are conscious leadership coaches, for example. They have gone through something that, if you are a newly awakening leader, or newly awakened leader, where you're just at the precipice of this, like, hey, I'm running this agency or this creative or technology business, and it's going okay, but something inside of me is telling me that I'm not exactly happy. I think that there's some kind of block, but I can't see it. That's your intuition telling you that you're ready to actually go in, and start to ask these questions and dial up that curiosity. We could also say that dialing up that curiosity is akin to unlearning, right? Because the more that we get curious about the things that we don't know, that we haven't explored, we're also unlearning or deprogramming the things that have been poured into our head to use your visual from earlier. So as we start to wrap up, when we think about all of this holistically, because this is a big conversation, it's not necessarily a heavy conversation, but it's a big concept, right? The purpose of this conversation is really just to ignite that curiosity. But when we think about all of this holistically, how does what we're talking about on the end of the business owner, the business leader on their end, how does it help in terms of the impact to their team members. That's what I would like to wrap up with.
Barbara: That's a big one. So you know how we start. And I love that you wrap up with that, because it takes us back full circle to the beginning when we say that we can only lead others to the level to which we are psychologically. And so if you have this fear that's brewing that's stopping you from moving forward, and you're not so sure what it is, and you haven't done the work, or asked yourself this question, that means you're also holding your team back, because your team can never grow beyond you. If they grow beyond you, that means they've gone to another business, or they've opened their own business, and you don't want to lose people who are great at their job, who are bringing in value to your organization, so you can grow. So the more you do the work, the more you'll be able to provide a conducive environment for your team members to actually step in and also do the same work, which means you all grow together, that means you can also guide them because you've gone through the process, and you're able to listen more. And then that's one of the biggest thing that any leader or business owner should have. It's listening to your teammates because you hire them for a reason. You hire them for the skill set that they have. So you want to be able to cultivate that skill set. And the best way to do that is by listening to them. And the more you go through this journey, the more compassionate you are with yourself, and the more you know that compassion is so important in any space, the more you'll be able to gain that conducive environment, be compassionate with your teammates, which increases trust. Because when we trust you as the business owner and the leadership team, we are able to do anything for you because we know it's a win-win situation, because we know you've got our back because you listen to us, and you're compassionate with us. And trust, just to deviate just for a second. Because of my neuroscience-based coaching, when we talk about the brain, trust releases the good feel hormones, which means the more we feel great, the more creative we are as a team, the more we bring value, the more we work together in collaboration, and who doesn't want that in their business, right? So healing work is so important. It's difficult. It's a difficult process if you're just starting out. But once you're in there, it's so revealing of the strength and the power that you might have left behind when that wound was inflicted. And so it's only about healing, it's also about just regaining all that power that we have left behind so you can harness it moving forward with strength for yourself and the people around you.
Kelly: Yeah, really well said. Thank you. I will put links to your website, and your profile on consciousness leaders into the show notes. But Barbara, thank you so much. Obviously, we could extend this podcast for about three hours, I'm sure and get in to shadow work and all sorts of other fun conversations, but we'll leave it here. And thank you so much for joining me today. I really love this conversation.
Barbara: My pleasure, Kelly. Thank you so much.