A mixture of old and new faces from across Yale’s graduate and professional schools came to discuss the art of leading well and balancing life, work and being well. After establishing community norms of confidentiality within the session, assuming positive intent, mutual respect and willingness to listen to others, the group started with a “fishbowl” exercise: writing down anything to do with their personal wellness that they were struggling to maintain in their day to day lives.
One of these challenges was the difficulty of sticking to morning routines and developing mindfulness to create a soothing start to the day. Solutions offered by the group include pairing existing habits such as brushing your teeth with new habits like meditation or stretching. Ideas included starting the day with gratitude or exercise, staying off smartphones for the first 45 minutes of the day. An important distinction acknowledged was the extent of structure within a routine: how much structure to enforce in your routine as opposed to setting aside periods of free time differs between people.
Another topic covered was impostor syndrome, particularly when starting in a new chapter of life at a high-level institution like Yale. As a result of everyone appearing like they have it all together, complications can also arise when one tries to balance managing their own problems while being a supportive resource to those around them who have reached out for help. A comforting strategy is one of solidarity: finding people who feel the same thing and working through impostor syndrome together. It was acknowledged that certain people may do one thing really well, but they also appreciate when you have a skill for something very different, because everyone brings something unique to the table. Capitalizing on one’s strengths is a helpful tool, including the act of self-talk and reminding yourself of the things you do well that affirm why you are here and what you can contribute to a space: be it the workplace or a classroom.
Finally, getting a good night’s sleep and dispelling the myth of sleeplessness as a marker of success was discussed. Particularly in the fields of entrepreneurship and innovation, where full responsibility for the success of a business or new venture falls on the shoulders of founders, the group discussed the importance of prioritizing sleep and not viewing others’ lack of sleep and overworking tendencies as a sign of success. Holder reminded participants of the importance of being patient with yourself: “yes you can achieve excellence, but you also need to be patient with yourself.”
Veena McCoole is a senior English major at Yale who enjoys horse riding, traveling and eating croissants. Originally from Singapore, she loves hearing from entrepreneurs with game-changing ideas and companies, and is partial to the fashion-tech and wellness sector.