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You won't fly if you don't try, and you won't try if you are fried

Posted by Valerie Ling on July 22, 2020 at 8:05 AM

*** You won't fly if you don't try, and you won't try if you are fried ***


It's a little silly sounding....hear me out ...


Two years ago, I stepped out onto a stage for one of the first larger audiences where I would speak about resilience in the face of burnout. I thought I had done a terrible job of it. The main talk wasn't too bad, however, the breakout session I took was a disaster. That's what I thought. People were skeptical, I thought. The exercises I had didn't really work. It all sounded a bit dull and prescriptive. I thought it would be the end of that. The session - well - burnt out!


Two people spoke to me after that session. Both are memorable. One asked if I would remember the children. Here was an adult who had lived through a legacy of tired, distraught, burnt out and difficult family circumstances because the load on their parents was so great. They painted the picture of many other of their peers who had been through similar situations, because their parents had sacrificed everything for others, and their children got very little. As a result, their own development and emotional needs were unmet, leading to mental health difficulties and fractured self and relationships. They begged me to remember the children, and to keep sharing their stories.


The second person, I thought was the most skeptical of them all in the room. They proceeded to tell me that was the best presentation they had heard on the topic and invited me to dialogue with them on a leadership program they were developing. It sounded like a one time gig - and I said "sure!". Several years later, several repetitions of this program, several conferences later, this person sat on a panel of advisers with me this week to encourage further bold steps. Strangely, they are also the one that refuses to let go of the very question I thought they were skeptical about when we do our sessions together. "Just how many hours of work is too many Valerie?". Groan. Here comes the fight in the group!


Making a difference, caring about something, someone, being a voice for change - that all takes trying. Even in the midst of fear and adversity. You won't be able to keep trying if your energy, meaning and people tanks are dry and you are fried. Equally, you won't get the chance to keep connecting, talking, sharing, reaching out, eliciting support if you are fried.


So ..... like the first person who spoke to me. Don't forget who you are caring and advocating for. If it's too hard right now to stop and do it for yourself. Do it for them. Don't get fried.


#contentology #thrive #wellbeing #replicate #serve

My Social Media

Posted by Valerie Ling on June 19, 2020 at 1:35 AM

My love-hate relationship with social media has come to a neat analysis and I am sharing it with you here so it makes sense when you are following Valerie Ling on all the various spaces. Shaped by (strangely enough) COVID-19 experiences engaging in the public space. If you struggle in the Social Media space, this reflective blog might be helpful in working out how to present yourself...


Private: I think it is important to share an authentic version of ourselves in public spaces. For me it is to dispel habits of putting our best, produced, polished selves forward in a kind of public relation filter. I also think it is important, for me at least, to keep a large portion of that private for mental health and a sacred space for our significant friends and family.


Professional: For those of us who are registered legally by a professional body, it is important for us to hold the shape of our professional obligations, and more importantly, if you are a health professional like I am, to lead public health information conscientiously and in good faith. As we have been trained to know, we sit in a position not only of influence, but of power, and we need to use that position wisely and faithfully. This space can be expressed in many ways: writing professional articles, speaking engagements, etc. where we are invited to contribute as content experts. I believe in this space, we want to commit to upholding the professional "working out" of what we say, accepting peer review, robust research and wide reading of subject matter in our area of interest.


Public: What would you say to a crowd of 1000 and how would you say it? What and how would you say it to your 80 year old neighbour whom you respect? This could be on any topic, any modality, for any reason. Sharing tips, knowledge, daily living information and help.


In the middle of this then, for me, comes the Social Media platforms. Of which I have real estate in FB, Insta, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google, Podcasts, Tik Tok and the WWW.


Thinking this way helps me to figure out what and how to share. Shapes what debate, dialogue and discussion looks like. And helps me to keep my sanity in check.




Posted by Valerie Ling on May 30, 2020 at 4:10 AM

I hope to be a "handsome woman". Was how a dinner table conversation started with my family. "What does that mean mum". Truthfully, I don't really know. Remember that old comedy "The Golden Girls"? For some reason I really wanted to be a Dorothy. Tall, stately, poised, the voice of reason and with a slight bite to her. As I approach the age of 50, I look nothing like a Dorothy, and I can't really pull off her sarcasm.


Lately I have been reflecting on the lost conversation of maturity. I think we get lost in thinking that success and achievement will hallmark our lives. Our life's work puts the stamp on who we are. Our estates and assets will ground the reality of what we became and left behind.


Maturity, however, is something quite different. The idea of maturity is foundational in psychological thinking. It is about the growth and development of a human being in their identity, relationships, ethics and moralities, emotionality and their lasting contribution to society.


Erik Erikson's theory of Psychosocial development unfolds human maturity into 8 stages:


1. Trust vs. Mistrust: age 0 - 1½. Here we learn about basic relationships of care and trust and provides us hope, when this does not happen, we are left to feel exposed and we acquire fear

2. Autonomy vs. Shame: age 1½ - 3. We learn we can be independent an have mastery over some things, inculcating a will. If we are put down and criticised constantly we acquire shame.

3. Initiative vs. Guilt: age 3 - 5. At this stage we learn about moving forward and interacting with others. When nurtured we discover our purpose and roles with others, if squashed we acquire quilt in being a nuisance or a burden.

4. Industry vs. Inferiority: age 5 - 12. Here we discover ourselves as the learner, if nurtured we gain competence, if taken away we acquire a sense of failure.

5. Identity vs. Role Confusion: age 12 - 18. This is when we discover who we are, our values, beliefs, aspirations. If nurtured we gain conviction, if thwarted - confusion.

6. Intimacy vs. Isolation: age 18 - 40. This is the time we seek connection and learn to be vulnerable with others. When flourished we gain intimacy, when frustrated we feel lonely.

7. Generativity vs. Stagnation: age 40 - 65. At this stage we seek to make our mark, make a difference and contribute to the world at large. When there is opportunity we find purpose, when we lack this, we feel lost.

8. Ego Integrity vs. Despair: age 65+. At this point we look back and make meaning of the life we have had in totality. What we gain is wisdom, if when we look back we do not see meaning of our life, we feel despair


Maturity is hard work. Productivity, success, busyness, hustle, these do not really mark the Eriksonian stages of development or maturity. That sort of hard work is noisy. The work of maturity is equally in the quiet, contemplative, vulnerable, aching spaces. Seeking truth, seeking meaning, seeking connection, seeking service, pursuing wisdom, growing, groaning, celebrating and being.


#maturity #growth #purpose

Not too bright please,..

Posted by Valerie Ling on May 23, 2020 at 8:45 AM

Not too bright please...


We were due to move to an Asian country, my two toddlers had only known Australia as home. In my eagerness to quell my anxiety about it, I probably projected some things onto what they were feeling. So I painted the future bright. I spoke of playgrounds, interesting food, a country that never slept, beaches, and who know what else. Filled with great anticipation, we left behind home in Australia, all things familiar and set a course. When my son, who was then about 4 arrived in our home - he said, "Mum the walls are all white". What he meant was that in his mind he had forecasted a home that was in constant movement and colour, and all he got was four walls painted white. It wasn't much like what I had made it out to be.


I looked up the top COVID-19 searches in Australia for today. It showed that we are eager to "get back" to the way things were. When can we go fishing again was one of the searches.


The reality is, there is a future to rebuild, and it will be built on the fragility and realisation that a virus almost wiped out life and an economy as we knew it. You don't go back to being the same.


So as you head out, and as you send our young people and children back, stay in the zone of reality, not to bright, not too dreary, but with hope that together we rebuild. When we rebuild, there will be rubble, there will be change, there will also be a sense that we are being renewed.


Many people find that after a disaster they more keenly seek:


1. A deeper understanding of their spirituality

2. Reprioritisation of the things that are important

3. To clarify and strengthen important relationships

4. Deeper understanding of their courage and strengths

5. Purpose and engagement in their world


These are grounding conversations we can have, keeping it hopeful, meaningful, and not too bright.


#rebuild #covidcare #thrive

Gaining Momentum WIthout Burning Out

Posted by Valerie Ling on May 18, 2020 at 2:20 AM

Momentum. Mass in motion. Building speed. A product of mass and velocity, building, growing, moving forward.


I was asked this week in a small group training session what my opinion was on how many hours of work was the limit before burnout sets in. I used to confidently answer this question until I realised that many variables play into this.


For example, my work day today looked like this:


8:30am. Recording and editing my Resilience in Service one day workshop. Then individual clinical and coaching clients, and an online stress and resiliency group until 4pm. In between I answered emails, and attended to some administrative work. Between 4 and 5pm I made some phone calls, submitted a proposal for a manuscript with a publisher and planned my work flow for the next 2 weeks. I came back to work on some things with my husband - doing some recording between 8pm to 9pm. Now - it is close to 10pm and I am working on a marriage webinar.


That is more than a 12 hour work day!


The research suggests that working more than a 55 hour week is likely to lead to burnout, physical health impairment and overall impacts the quality of our relationships. This 55 hours a week is roughly equivalent to a 6 day week. Based on my work day today, it would clearly exceed that.


However, today was a day of momentum as it was a crescendo of purpose driven activities fuelled by deep focus. The work tasks I invested in had the following qualities:


  • Deeply aligned to my purpose
  • Served the people group I am committed to
  • Varied in demands and types of thinking required
  • Fitted into my need for autonomy, independence and flexibility (hence why I work for myself)

It is also preceded by days of rest, periods of lower output, and will be followed by a day off tomorrow. Thursdays (which is today) is also a day I set aside last year to invest in innovation of new ways of delivering and dealing with the issue of burnout. This time last year I would be found locked away in my office, not earning an income, but committed to think-tank and brainstorm a variety of innovations to hit the burnout scene hard. This means that in 2020, that work of pacing, investing, focusing has led to momentum this year when it was needed.


There is wisdom to look at the number of hours we work in totality over the week. There is also wisdom to know that there are times when we have built some momentum and we need to let it go so we can work with our flow. There is also wisdom to know that there will need to be recovery time, pacing until we catch the next momentum wave. The key is factoring in the discipline to stop and pace regularly so that we can run hard with momentum and conviction.


Now onto that webinar!



Toilet Paper and Burnout

Posted by Valerie Ling on March 9, 2020 at 2:50 AM

Toilet Paper and Burnout ...


It's no laughing matter - as a business owner this week I am placing priority on reviewing COVID-19 for our procedures and reaching out to our clients who are likely to feel quite anxious.


It did cause me to stop and think about the mentality of scarcity and fear. It seems a basic human instinct to assume that we will run out of essential resources and that we will feel trapped and out of options. Assuming this position leads to a host of negative emotions and reactive actions. Soon we lose ourselves and we will not even recognise ourselves. I am reminded of a friend who met a lady in the supermarket car park, with a trolley full of toilet paper who said in a daze "I don't know what I am doing".


Most resources, however are renewable. Our strength, our energy, our time (it restarts everyday), our options, our choices, our pathways - renewable.


It's just that when we only look one way, and hold on tight to the false belief that these things do not renew themselves and we feel trapped and running out of options that we eventually feel that even (our good senses and instincts) are not enough.


At the heart of caving in to burnout is caving into exhaustion and entrapment. No way out. No way to see how we can renew our resources.


Like disconnecting the bomb of fear, it takes someone to gently cut the right wire and reconnect it back to the right battery to diffuse those thoughts.


Here's what you can do today:


1. Go to bed 15 minutes earlier (do this each day and you will accumulate over an hour of sleep by the end of the week)


2. Pop one more piece of fruit in your tummy (that's a whole serving more at the end of the week)


3. Take the stairs instead of the lift/escalator (that's a whole 1000 steps by the end of the week)


4. Match one glass of water to one cup of coffee or tea you take in a day (that's lots of litres in the week)


What else can you come up with?


For more targeted input that rapidly expands your energy levels, join me for a 5 day Rapid Reset.


#energy #reset #wellness #selfcare

Get used to pacing

Posted by Valerie Ling on February 25, 2020 at 3:15 AM

Every appliance I have ever had I am used to taking care of the motor it has so as not to burn it out. Giving them a rest in between high intensity bursts. I get really uncomfortable when I start to sense the motor heating up and I am quick to switch it off.


Do you feel that way about yourself as well? Usually we blame our lousy motor for not being able to keep up. We think we must have some faulty part some where. That other people must be the superior version of human, while we are the defective one. So we need to work harder, push harder.


What's the biggest fear? That we fail? That we confirm the worst fears that we were wrong? That we ARE wrong. That's where it is. The great irony is this - if we do not respect our natural wiring, hardware and software, if we push beyond our limits, ignoring sleep, rest, and simply stopping to breath. If we do this. We will fail. Because our body and our mind will fail us. It will come to a stop because it is worn out beyond exhaustion.


Get used to pacing. I can't tell you the benefits of recognising that rhythm is in everything. The way we walk, the way we dance, the way we sleep, the way we breathe. These rhythms, they pace us so that we can endure. Get used to it. Listen to the rhythm of rest and pacing, and get in tune with your version.


People. Sometimes you just have to stop and pace.

Freedom comes in many ways

Posted by Valerie Ling on February 22, 2020 at 10:50 PM

Going through my Sunday, I am aware of feeling a kind of fatigue. My body is asking me to rest up today, and my mind is asking for a break from the details of moving house, managing the gremlins in the practice and keeping up to date with the home-school routines (another note????) . I am aware of a few small shifts I have made today, and I wanted to share with you...


Sunday is a day of church for us, and I chose to sit in a section that was totally different today. I met and spoke with someone at length today I would not normally speak to. Which led to walking through to the morning tea section and giving a 16 year old a lift. I really enjoyed my diverse conversations today, and I am glad I had the courage to sit somewhere different! Point #1 - changing things up a little can be refreshing


I normally do the groceries on a Sunday. Generally I would do an online shop and just drive through and pick it up. On a Sunday I have a favourite spot, where I feel relatively anonymous, and like to wander through a variety store, pick up a coffee, grab the groceries and head home. Today I just felt like I had done so much online stuff in the week, I wanted to do the shopping old school. It felt a bit inefficient and out of routine - but I decided that I would pair it with something I have been doing the last few days - enjoying music time. So groceries with the music in my ears. No conversation.


I traded lunch for a nap! I still ate, but at the shops. I was rewarded by the observation that when I am not in the lunch scene the other members of the family actually have a chatty lunch and I enjoyed listening to this while I dozed.


Finally - I am about to head into the kitchen to do something that I totally love. It starts with the words "I have a vision...." I have many visions, and they are fraught with self doubt, anxiety, guilt and profound sense of vulnerability. The vision I can execute with relative ease and enjoyment, and a wicked sense of rebellion is baking a cake with NO recipe and NO measurement. I simply bake exactly what is on my taste bud desire and in quantities I totally make up on my own. And I don't really mind how it turns out because the whole thing is CREATIVE, INTUITIVE, PLAYFUL and INDEPENDENT. Can you hear the sound of freedom?

Work That Dress!

Posted by Valerie Ling on February 12, 2020 at 5:35 PM

When you are piled up with all the things that are going wrong and you know you need to do something different! Here's what happened today:

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Raw Chicken and Onions

Posted by Valerie Ling on February 12, 2020 at 6:30 AM

Raw Chicken and Onions

I was on my way home from work when I thought about how it was going to be tricky to get dinner going while trying to fit some things that had cropped up. I thought about how I could simplify the process and perhaps delegate it out. One of the values I have as a parent is for my children to find opportunities to serve others. I thought this would be a great opportunity for one of them to serve the family - by cooking dinner.


I called home and a very tired child picked up the phone. Apparently they had an excursion today and had been on the trampolines for hours. As I broached the topic of cooking dinner, I was not sensing enthusiasm from them. I was tempted to skirt round the issue and probably withdraw the request.


However, that's not how life works is it? There are going to be times when no matter how tired you feel, you need to do the things of life! Cook, help out around the house, hold a job and do what you need to do. I decided this was an opportunity to help this child of mine work through this request and find a source of resilience to express an important family value, and have a chance to see what they could do when they reached in.


We are currently reorganising our chores around our children's strengths. What they are good at, what they do out of a natural curiosity and interest. So I worked through this with my child to find a way to expand their energy and find the perspective to serve though they were tired.


Here's what happened. I knew that if I said dinner would mean cutting raw chicken and onions, they would be interested and motivated. You see this child has a fascination with raw meat! They like the way it looks, feels and gets great satisfaction from cutting it. Weird? It seems to be linked with their interest in health related topics. They also are able to watch movies where there are autopsies and has an interest in the human body.


Now the fact that we were having chicken dinner was a winner ;) . I added that they could chop the onions! This child also has an interest in drama, and frequently wishes they were able to spontaneously cry. So chopping the onions is their opportunity to shed some tears and re-enact some scene in their minds.


Shifting their energy to an expansive space through focusing on their strengths, natural curiosities and interests gave them the opportunity to serve without giving up.


It's much the same with us. We can't escape from life's responsibilities. By locating our interests, strengths and curiosities, we can find that our energy expands when we expand our focus away from what we are not good at, what we dread, to finding how we can work in our strengths and within our interests.

Join me to expand your resources and energy: