11 – Leading with Heart, with Kaitlyn Chana
As an entrepreneur, philanthropist, reporter turned medical administrator, 2010 Olympic torch barer, survivor of three different types of eating disorders, Kaitlyn shares with us lessons of resilience, how she has reframed fear, failure and pain to empower her journey in heart-led leadership. Kaitlyn believes those who create an extraordinary life and achieve their highest vision share one fundamental power: the ability to overcome any fear or personal limitation. This motto has allowed her to chase her wildest dreams. She believes, “Everyone in life has a personal story of excitement, love, desperation, hurt or a driven message.” She has used this as her fuel. As CEO and founder of Reel Stories. Real People., Inc’s, whose recent focus is the making of Empty - a film dedicated provide education and inspiration to schools for those who might be suffering or on the cusp of suffering from an eating disorder. To help this film come to fruition donate here: www.reelstoriesrealpeople.com Get in touch with Kaitlyn Chana on all platforms as well as her: www.kaitlynchana.com
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Welcome and join me today on the Hi Hello Sura podcast, where I decode and deconstruct the stories, secrets, and skills of the creators of our time. If you are looking to challenge the status quo and get new perspectives, join me as I share with you practical advice that you can use to impact your life and help those around.
Hey there. And welcome to the hi. Hello Sura show. I'm your host, Sura Al-Naimi on this show. We're joined by Kaitlyn Chana and she has led such an extraordinary life. Philanthropists reporter, entrepreneur healthcare administrator, 2010 Olympic torch bearer, CEO of love letters, founder of nonprofit, real stories for real people.
In this show, we are unpacking some of her learnings to date, such as how to reframe failure and criticism into learning and finding purpose. She also shares with us how she was able to live in discomfort and use her pain for fuel and create. These are just some of the topics that we were able to get through in our short time together.
So without further ado, Caitlin, welcome to the show. Oh Sarah. Thank you so much for having me. It's such a pleasure for us to be able to spend some time together. So for our listeners, because I have had the purview of getting to spend time with you, I would love for them to get to know you. So as I have been getting to know you better as the Olympic torch bearer entrepreneur rapport, um, you know, your non-profits.
So could you give our listeners a little bit of a highlight reel, uh, to all things. Oh, well, thank you. I, um, you know, I think like for me, I always say you have to lead with heart. And for me that's been my motto that I live by since middle school. So I would say like, I'm a person that loves nonprofits. I love philanthropy work and that's kind of led me down my career path and just my success and various areas and avenues.
So, um, starting in middle school, I had my own profit nonprofit called love letters, random cards. So we create a homemade cards with children's life for analysis, and it was seeing those children that actually led them. Um, into the television news industry. So it was really important for me to be able to showcase their stories.
And I wanted those to be on the five o'clock news then that, um, experience in news helped me recognize that's really not the pathway I should be on. And I wanted to take a pivot. So now I'm working on my MHA and MBA, um, and wanting to work as a healthcare administrator. So I feel like all the ties come back to philanthropy and community and working with kids.
And I've always been a person that's been centered on like learning from others. Oh, yes, absolutely. And you have a nonprofit called real. Stories real people. You got it.
Can you say well, that's about, yeah, so I started it when I was leaving the television industry and it's cold. Um, the first real is like a film reel. So R E L and then when I was always reporting, I was getting. Just other stories about real people who are going through hard. It, um, hardships, just, um, maybe depression and anxiety going through a mental health crisis or they're living the best days of their life and the news you covered the whole span and spectrum.
And one of the things I recognized as a news reporter was a lot of nonprofits needed a better way to advocate to showcase what they were doing in our community. And I felt like there was a missed opportunity in television news to be able to show. You know what they were doing for the greater community.
And that's when I started real stories, real people. So we are a 5 0 1 C3 that helps other nonprofits tell their stories and mission and the. And so with that too, um, one of our biggest things is, um, I'm a big mental health advocate for about a decade of my life. I suffered from three different eating disorders.
And so we're working on an educational film and guided curriculum entitled empty, which talks about eating disorders, which I think is so prevalent still nowadays, um, in our communities and especially in the time of high school and middle school, how do we navigate this conversation? Yes, I think I had, you mentioned that it's a five-year process to create the phone.
Yeah. So there's a lot of detail and meaningful conversations that go into it. So for instance, just writing the script in and of itself, when you hear of eating disorders, just in general, um, what do you typically think of, like, who do you think of women? Women? Yeah. And, and in certain like nationality. Or orange.
Well for me, I actually have had a few, quite a few friends who have had eating disorders. So I think that gives me a, you know, a, that shifts out. But, but what I did notice was that they did tend to be pretty self-conscious, um, actually really beautiful women. Like the ones I would leave. You know, least say would have an eating disorder.
Yeah. Like high-performing, high-achievers probably type a personalities. So for one, it was like for us to be able to reduce and change the stigma. So for us, our main character, his name is Cassius he's African-American and he suffers from bulemia nervosa. And then we have three other. Um, most common eating disorder.
So in our senior VOSA Bluma nervosa, which I just mentioned and binge eating disorder and for us it's how do we redirect the conversation shows something that's dynamic and visually appealing, but that also does it trigger someone that's in the classroom, meaning there's going to be someone in that classroom that might have an eating disorder, but in the same student, that's sitting two desks away.
They've never heard of an eating disorder. So how do you showcase a video content that's not triggering or giving. Habits that would play into someone that already currently has an eating disorder. So everything that we're doing right now is we're working with medical doctors, psychiatrist, psychologist, um, registered dieticians to review the script.
There's a lot of research that goes into it and then building out the curriculum. So it is a five-year process because there are so many little minute details to be able to get to the next step. Right, right. That totally makes a lot of sense. And you're currently, um, this is something that is currently being funded, right?
So people can contribute to this, correct? That's correct. Yeah. And we, um, run purely on donations. And so once we get to a closer point, we'll start looking for grants and different things that were best applied for mental health and education specifically for students. And so that will be something like all the funding that we receive right now through real stories.
Real people all goes back to. Amazing. So what I will do, they'll put a link in the show notes for, but if people are compelled, they will be able to donate to this amazing cause. Well, thank you. We greatly appreciate that every, every dollar and penny helps tremendously. Yeah, absolutely. All I bought. So one of the, one of the things that was really, um, I'm really struck by is this Jenny and in our conversations.
I've often asked you, you know, what is it that compels you to step into a new realm, a new realm of unknown, and you had shared some really great nuggets with me that I think would be really helpful for people looking to embark on new adventures. Correct. I feel like sometimes there's going to be a calling on your heart that you want to shift in a new area.
And for me, when I was a news reporter, there was that calling of like, I'm not in the right spot and they couldn't figure out exactly why, but there was a fear, right? Because when I leave news, it's not like I have a true job or finances are coming in the same way. So for me, it's like I made the conscious effort.
I had to give myself permission. If that makes sense. To be able to say, like, I need you to lean into your fears. I need you to lean into being uncomfortable and being comfortable in that setting only a temporary portion of your life. So you can be able to Excel and grow. And it's been through that process of giving myself permission, giving myself grace to fail, right.
Um, in this space to be able to know that my five to 10 year goals will be able to be achieved if I'm willing to be uncomfortable. In a space that I'm unfamiliar with. So when you talk about space to fail, can you elaborate a little bit on that? Because I know that you reframe that for yourself. Yeah. You know, being a person that is very meticulous, I've always been like a straight a student.
I'm very, well-organized a great communicator. I think feeling in my brain was like 95 is like a fail for me, um, or not performing to my best. And I have to, like, I've had to learn and it's actually been through the process of therapy through my eating disorder journey is like, you can't be perfect. Every single moment of the day, but also who wants to be perfect.
That's not living life. That's not enjoying and finding happiness in the ups and downs or the ebbs and flow. So when I say failure, I say, you know, if it's in maybe my financial class right now, um, if I'm not doing the best of par, I'm not going to compare myself to someone else. I'm going to be happy and complacent with where I am in my lane.
So being willing to be like, Hey, you might have to work harder or. You might have to turn your thoughts around. You might have to spend more time. Maybe it's working on affirmations. Maybe it's working on personal growth. Maybe it's like, okay, I didn't do well on this. We're going to burn this and we're going to restart tomorrow.
So I think like when I look at failure, it's giving myself the grace and permission to say, Hey, it's okay. Like you're human and you can't be perfect. It's best to be in perfectly. Perfect. And then being able to recognize, okay. So, how am I going to release that negative energy out of me? So it's not bottling up on the inside.
So you've talked about, about learning. So things being learning versus failures. Yeah, I think I would always say, like, I've been a constant person who wants to learn and grow and working on personal growth is, um, a key component and where I am, I would say today in my life. So it's investing in myself to understand why I make the decisions that I make, how I navigate different conversations, who I surround myself.
And so I'm constantly learning about myself. Like if someone asked me why you made this choice, I could probably in my head go, I call it the Rolodex of all the reasons of all my experiences of why I decided to come up with option B maybe then going with option a and that comes from being self-aware and it's through my time of learning about myself, that I would say I had the ability to be like, I'm choosing option B because of blah, blah.
Right. That makes a lot of sense. And I think that, I mean, for me, that would give me the permission to try new things, you know, because it's kind of the spirit of experimentation fast, uh, you know, parcel, fail, do all don't, you know, everything's an iteration of something. Exactly. And that's one of the things I think with our younger generation, we're seeing more and more of is I hope that people have more conversations about the failures because I really look at failure as a success, maybe in the moment, it doesn't feel good, but in the longterm, you'll learn more from that failure.
Even from a personal growth standpoint, from a professional standpoint, to how to maybe handle the situation, how to manage, how other people respond to you about that moment, then probably a time of success. And so. For me in those moments, I always say learn the most has the greatest growing pains that go along with it.
But I'm always so appreciative when I get to the other side. Yeah. That makes a lot of sense that that really ran for me. That's definitely something that I resist from a consistent basis, but it is the foundation of creativity and entrepreneurship and on all of these things, because there is such ambiguity.
To expect something that is show ready by version two, you know, then we're not really creating anything new or novel. It's probably something we've already seen before was definitely. Yeah. So one of the other things that we discussed was this idea of using our experiences for creation. You've talked about that before.
Can you, can you elaborate a little? Yeah. So I like to say like now I'm using my pain in life as my mission in life to help others. So for me, you know, working on the project that we already mentioned a little bit about empty, you know, I had three different eating disorders. And so for me, I know what it's like to.
I have just invidious behavior towards myself. So much hatred that I didn't want to live. And I had anxiety, I had depression. Um, I was overdosing on medication. And so that pain is now my fuel in life to better serve others. And so I would say like, you know, those three different eating disorders, each one, I learned something different in the process of going through it.
And so I would say. You know, those three different eating disorders. Each one, I learned something different in the process of going through it, eating. I had a therapist or a nutritionist or a doctor, and every time I got through a, maybe a new Humper, I was getting quote unquote healthier in my journey of being recovered from an eating disorder.
I got a better perspective. It's kind of like when you see a horse and they sometimes have like the blinders on, right. You only see your lane, but you can't see anything from your appropriate. And so it took time of uncovering more things about myself to be able to recognize what's on the right what's on the left life.
Isn't so much black and white, there is gray and it's okay to lean into the gray. And that's when I talk about fear or maybe failure is sometimes that happens more in the gray position of life than instead of like the stark black or the stark white. And so for me, it's enjoying that process. Like that process is going to have.
So it's best days, I think as an entrepreneur there's days, you're like, yes, I got this. Like, we're on a great hire. We made a great connection. Or we signed this contract, then there's others that I feel like, man, why am I doing this? What is my, and it's frustrating. You have anxiety built up, will this go through, will this work out?
Am I capable? Am I good enough? And all those same emotions that I experienced now in this position of like I experienced in the past, when I felt pain from just the mental, um, mental illness of, um, having eating disorders. Right, right. That's, that's really liberating to know that you were able to outcome.
The pain into something back is all sadness to others. And I think that you have been described as a servant leader. And so I'm seeing that thread throughout your life. So thank you. It truly does. Well. Well, we're very grateful for that. So, Yeah. So, so you talked about fear and you've talked about bottling feelings and this notion of empty, which is the, you know, sort of the premise and concept for the education modules that are going to be shared.
So I know that it's been a journey to get in touch with the feelings and to be able to sit with those. Can you share something about. Yeah. You know, I think the hardest thing in life is learning to regulate your feelings and being accepting of them. So why the film is called empty kind of spans back to my time of when I had my eating disorders, I felt empty.
And for someone who's never had an, like a mental illness, like what does that actually mean? The best way for me to describe it is I couldn't understand when people talked about sadness or happiness or elation, like it was foreign concepts. It was just like, I dunno, I feel nothing. Like, I don't feel sad.
I can't cry. So for a good duration of my life, I couldn't cry. Like I didn't even understand what those emotions were because everything was shut off. I was cold. Stoic, um, kind of feeling like a soldier in that sense, like everything was just so guarded and rigid in my life. So with that component, I had to learn how to relax, to become softer and softer doesn't translate to being weak.
And I think I had to learn that to feel my feelings. I'm going to have to learn, to recognize what I think it might be, and then stay in the moment to actually feel that emotion. If it's happiness, like I can recognize. And I like to think, think of, um, I always have like a spinning wheel that I can like look at the different emotions.
Right. And so you could be like, okay, what does happiness I'm in? Like you read the definition sounds silly, but you would, I'd read the definition and be like, okay. My feeling happiness right now. And then it would allow me to get in touch with my senses. And so that allowed me to be like, okay, I am. So how, how does that.
Look like for me, is that jumping up and down? Is that expressing joy? Is that giving hugs? Is that more laughter. And when I feel sadness, what does that look like? And being willing to sit in that emotion to get to the other side. I always like to say too, it's kind of like in a sense, my emotions for the longest time, I like to say that there was no trespassing alive.
So those emotions are well-regarded and I think, you know, everyone might have a wall that they put up at some point in their life, like a pains, like maybe influx a wound that you might put a wall in that certain component. Well, for me, I have barriers. Like, don't get. I'll give you a hard handshake, my own personal question.
And so I think for me, when someone tried to penetrate my walls or try to penetrate just going through my barriers, I had like no trespassing signs. And then they would try to like talk to me or get closer, or when I go and have a cup of coffee and it didn't matter if it's business or personal, but I'd be like, no, no, no, no, no, stay back.
And there'll be backpedaling. And part of that is. Learning my emotions and being calm and being, being able to soothe myself in a sense to be able to know like this person isn't going to hurt me. And if they do recognizing like that, person's human, I'm human too. And sometimes just in general, we accidentally hurt one another, but it doesn't mean we have malice intent behind it.
And even if it did, I have barriers in place, I have my own boundaries that I know when to walk away. I think that's all being wrapped up of like, How to understand empty is how to understand your emotions, then allowing yourself to feel it, process it and move on. So for somebody who does have trouble accessing that emotions, what would you recommend for them?
I would say so growing up, I had a toolkit, like a legit, like if you went to home Depot or Lowe's like a legit toolkit and in my mind, it wasn't for tools like a wrench or a hammer. It was tools that I could go to. So. If I felt overwhelmed, stressed, or I felt an emotion that I didn't want to feel instead of turning towards food or other behavior that would negate to my whole recovery journey, I would turn to this toolkit.
And so I pull all these items and I had a note card that had one through 10 items that I'd have to do so before I would act in any type of bad behavior towards an eating disorder, I'd have to get through one through 10 and learning how to change that mind. Or it's almost like flipping a switch. It reregulated my mind to think in a different way.
So, number one, it would be like reading a card that I wrote to myself about the type of person I wanted to be. And how am I going to achieve that? The number two, it was reading affirmations and then maybe three, it was picking up a phone call and calling two of my best friends. And I knew who they were, you know, or it was using a stress ball.
So I had those 10 items that I wanted to get through before I would get into. You know, maybe an act that would cause harm to myself, but it was going into the voice of the eating disorder voice. And so in a scenario like that, I think if anyone's feeling any type of, um, negative thoughts or negative behaviors that they want to act on, if you train your brain, I say it's like reworking your brain in a way.
Like, for me, I saw toolkit as like I'm investing myself. I need these tools to prepare me for life. So I can open up my kit and it just reminds me of like hearing the snaps, pulling out these different things. It changed how I was thinking, right. It had me rechange, how I was thinking of myself. Like when I did the affirmations, I had to stand in front of a mirror and say positive things about myself.
And once you say that constantly over and over, you start believing it. And so maybe my negative behaviors would hit. You know, when I got to like the 0.3 on the card, well, by the end and becoming, um, a habitual just practice overall, it became like at point 10, I'd be like, oh, I don't need this anymore. I don't need these negative behaviors to engage in my eating disorder.
Instead. I feel completely fine with who I am. That's so powerful. I can, I can totally see somebody including myself using last four different triggers, you know? So we talked about, you know, um, on certain days as an entrepreneur, there are days where like, oh my gosh, why am I doing this? You know? And, and you know, for me, that's usually.
All into some sort of disarray of destructive behavior. And that might just be like inactivity for quite a while or something, or, or self-loathing et cetera, et cetera. So I think that that would be so powerful because it's almost, um, like being able to access a different reel, you know, or a different track that is better serving, you know?
And so it's like, just for a moment, it needs to be like, when you're learning like a new dog, like you need like. You know, go here, do this, do that. And after work afterwards, it actually becomes a genuine dog. So I think like having that kind of checklist will be super helpful and really personalized too, right.
For the individual. And like the beautiful thing is like, you know, different tricks work for everyone. Like, so at some point journaling was better for me. Um, and when I had maybe. When I was feeling maybe like disparage towards myself and I was belittling myself on a constant ebb and flow of life. If I was in that section, I would be like, okay.
I usually write things that were the negative. And then when I would read, you know, the, the chapter that I wrote the day before, um, I can be able to see like, Ooh, maybe my thoughts are a little bit. What's causing this and then getting to the root cause. Like there's always something that's triggering my brain to go and maybe a negative direction.
So how do I recenter? And a lot of that comes from finding the right tools that work for you. And so for person a, to comfortable to person B, it might be journaling for one person, but for the other person, and maybe it's going for a run and listening to rap music, like who knows what that is, but you have to find that within your own toolkit, Yeah, and different things for me have what on different days, you know, sometimes at is sitting still and sometimes to a point I just need to move and get out there, you know, or it does need to do something completely different vessels reflect and be introspective.
And so there's like a dislodging and an intuition to, oh, that's not lacking. Like that's good feedback. Let me go do something. Yes. And I think that's surrounding yourself with people, right? Like your closest friends should know so much about you that like, if you're feeling uncomfortable or maybe being in a vulnerable situation, I would like to think that I can pick up the phone and I have a list of people in my head that I can easily call and say, Hey, I'm feeling off today.
I'm not performing well, there's something up. I need to get something off my chest. And maybe the words are really hard for me. To get out, but it's giving myself the time to get it out and I need their patient ear to be able to say like, you can do it and I will wait until it comes out. Like, whatever is heavy on your chest.
Like let it out Caitlyn. And then they showcase usually empathy. And when they showcase empathy, it gives me confirmation that I'm in the right space. Right, right. It's like, um, I would be less isolated and feeling more connected exactly. In that process connected to yourself. And that is key. Yeah. It's sort of overcoming that numbness, if you will.
So one of the things that's really struck me is that in this gen. And let's put that to a journey of leaning into the gray and pushing beyond your personal comfort level. This feels like, you know, all these different tactics, even in the darkest day, you have shown a smile on your face Skinner. And I just love your philosophy to that.
Um, can you, can you say that with us? Yeah. You know, I really believe that, right. There's going to be bad moments. But that doesn't mean that you have a bad. Right. Like, it's a great day, the way you wake up, meanwhile, there's going to be things that happen. That don't go your way. And so I often say like, when I wake up, I'm just a cheaper person in general.
Yeah. There are some Mondays I'm like, nah, I don't want to wake up. There's alarm clock. It's not my thing. But then. What am I grateful for? If I go through my gratitude list, um, there's things I'm like, you know, I'm grateful for my family or in grateful for this experience of leaning into fear. Like I'm grateful for working on my MBA and having great classmates who are willing to help me.
I'm not saying that throughout the day, there's not bad moments. Like there are stressful moments where maybe I don't fully understand something or there is maybe a disagreement with a boss and a coworker. That's now spewed over to other people and it's impacting work. All that happens, but I'm not looking at the glimpse of a bad day in total.
That's just a bad moment within the day, but the day is a good day. And I like to think that every day that I get to wake up and try something new and invest in myself and learn that's a good day, no matter how many bad moments I have within that. Wow. I'm going to write that down.
I'm ready to write off the day. I'm going to remember your voice.
I'm ready at 11 o'clock. I'll be honest
emails and just the stress relief. But if you then rephrase, like, okay, like you're going to go to your toolkit and you're going to grab your journal. Or maybe it's like, Hey, I'm going to make myself a special cup of coffee at 1130. I had a bad moment. While at 1145, I had my good cup of coffee. Now I'm going to view this as my day, starting over.
And this is a good day. Yeah, I put the, like the bad portion behind me. I might have to still navigate and deal with that components in the foreseeable future to deal with that problem. But it doesn't mean it makes up my day where my head to chains, where I'm just like, oh, so frustrated. I love this. I love this resetting I've.
I've spoken to people who are super high performing and they make a consistent practice of resetting throughout their day, you know, recalibrating to that intentions. Um, and I, I feel like that would be really important to fuel and navigate through the ebbs and flow of life. Right. Because things do have.
Most definitely. Yeah, I think throughout your day, and it's really important. Like I always say, um, a lot of my friends would say like, I'm an extrovert, but in all reality, I'm truly an introvert. Like I enjoy being around people, um, learning from people. I have great conversations often, but for me to feel recharged process my conversations, be able to reflect on my day.
I have to do that in my own space, meaning that there's no one really around and either having a cup of coffee or. I'm actually writing my journal or I'm at night, just walking around, maybe taking an evening stroll around where I live and it allows me to regroup to make sure that my thoughts were in order.
Did I handle the situation the best way I could? What could I do in the future? How did I speak to this person? Do they like my tone? So it allows me to reflect, I think that keeps me constantly building upon my leadership skills because I'm constantly, self-evaluating like. That makes sense. I think that there, I've been really noticing this idea of feedback, you know, and so often, you know, if you think about certain individuals, they they'll get feedback every three months or they'll get feedback once a year.
And by that point, you know, like there's a lot of regrouping that needs to be done. If that's the interval of feedback. Well, the feedback comes when you finally get together with your friends and, you know, I don't know you're on your third bottle of wine or something, and then it's like, it all comes out.
And again, by that point,
this notion, as you know, and if you think about business and new projects, just this ability to be constantly noticing the feedback and then being flexible in terms of. Right. And that lack of feedback allows the flexibility versus like, well, I'm getting this feedback that, that means maybe this cough will, this strategy is not serving, but I'm just going to continue doing this because something's going to change exactly what I think you have to be nimble in the process.
Right. Like I personally enjoy. Criticism, because that allows me to reflect and see like, where are my weaknesses? Where are my strengths? I know I will always capitalize on my strengths, but knowing where my weaknesses are. Um, yeah. It helps me give myself that maybe that grace period that I need to lean towards it.
So it it's that uncomfortable zone. So it's recognizing Caitlin, once again, you have to learn to get comfortable in that uncomfortable sector. And for me, when I know that people are saying like, maybe this is your weakness, or can you work on this? Or I'd like to feel this type of connection, or maybe it's a technical thing, hearing it from someone else.
Like, I appreciate that because it's not like a time of me to be able to. Oh, the reason why I did that is because blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, or kind of having that rebuttal. It allows me to hear what they're saying. I get to process it and be like, okay, I maybe agree with them on a, B and C, D, and F are things that I maybe might need to work on over here.
But the first priority is accuracy. And, um, recognizing if I can make that shift, that means I. Katelyn needs to either lean in. I need to get extra help. Look for a coach, look for a friend, have someone be there. And maybe that boardroom meeting that when I'm starting to maybe say something or do something that they can send me a text and I can see it, or that they tapped me on my knee.
And it's a kind of like a re signal to the brain of like, Hey, like these are your old traits. Let's rework on that. Maybe you need to be softer in this area. Maybe you need a harder push. And so when I hear criticism, I always, I thoroughly enjoy it because it allows me to work on my self. How do well, let me rephrase that.
What, what advice would you give somebody who is maybe new to criticism? Because, you know, even the word itself, you know, it's like very different to the word feedback, to the strong, some feedback, like the word denotes, some sort of, um, negativity and viewed, you know? So how, how would you advise somebody to do that?
Um, You have all this experience and relishing of criticism. Yeah, exactly. I think we were taught at such a young age. Like it's just an understanding of when we hear criticism, the connotation of it is the notion that it's negative. But when I hear criticism, I'm like, when someone's criticizing me for my work or giving me a critique in a way that might come off negative.
I like to think of it as it's a creative process. It's a creative journey of me to learn and navigate a new path. So, it's not saying like, gosh, Katelyn, this is so horrible and so bad. And even if it was, it's like, okay, how do we shift? How am I going to morph and transform in that area? And for me, that's where I'm like, Ooh, this is an exciting factor.
Like I get to learn how to grow in this space. I get to learn how. Maybe input more energy in this area. And that means I'm going to have to ask for help. And I think as a high performing person, um, I do nothing in like a perfunctory type way. So all my stuff is usually pretty, I would say. You know, great work.
I have a great work ethic. I'm hardworking and it's a top performing thing. But even in those times, someone might come up to me and be like, oh, your version of top performing is very different than mine and hearing that, right? Like that hurts because I'm like, I spent a lot of hours on that. Like I worked really hard or that presentation, I thought it was going to be amazing.
And they're like, no, it really wasn't. And for me, it's been like, instead of being like, gosh, Katelyn, I'm going to, you know, Slap your hand and be upset with you instead. It's like, well, tell me why. Okay. Why do you think that, what could I have done better? You know, in your opinion, how do I change that for the future going forward?
And then like, for me, that gives me the creative process in my brain to be able to say, okay, now I'm going to navigate and I'm going to try some of their tips and I'm going to try to implement. And then I take that criticism. I turn that into a creative process. So it's a creative journey to then move my ways into more of maybe their ways or suggested, um, pathways that other people have given me.
I love this idea of offering. Why? Cause then I think that to me, would embed or enable effects, ability and solutioning. They might say, I like do it specifically like this, and once you get the why, like, oh, okay, well, so then like these 10 things could be potential solutions. Right? Right. Correct. And it's not just one why maybe it's like, why do I do this in the morning?
Or maybe I think like, let's say you're late to work. Why am I late to work? You know, is it because, um, I didn't set my alarm, did I not go to bed early enough? What, you know, it does take me a long time in the shower, whatever the case is. And so then it's like figuring out what does that, why, well, why does that happen?
And then it's another, why, well, what do I like, why is this causing this? And so I think it's why, why, why? And the figuring out what's the driver behind it. And then you put all those questions together and you're able to figure out the root cause. And that goes back to, you know, maybe that, that emotion that you're feeling.
Figuring out what is the root cause? That's keeping you from reaching your greatest potential. And once you're figuring out if it's an emotion, if it's a connection with someone else that's maybe, um, limiting your abilities where you feel like you can't perform, or you can't be your authentic self, is it time for them to maybe not be on your train?
I know we talked about this earlier, but I always like to say, just in general, I have a train mentality that I use. So I like to think. I get to rearrange people on maybe different subsets of the train. And there's sometimes like, I want people to be the conductor and then I want them to be the caboose.
And then sometimes I need to drop them off at the train station. And maybe in a year from now, I will repeat them back up if that makes sense. So, you know, I don't believe. You meet a lot of people throughout your experience, just as a human going through life. Some people are there for short moments. Some people are there for long duration.
Some people are there throughout your entire lifetime, and sometimes you have to separate yourself from someone, even if you love. Um, and adore them completely, but they're not helping you get to your goals, or they're not allowing you to reach your greatest potential because maybe they have a fear for you.
And it's out of love. Well, sometimes maybe I'm going to move them from a different train cart in a sense. So maybe they were at my front where my inner circle is, and I'm maybe I'm going to. Three cars back, or maybe it's a time that they wait at the train station and I go to the next train station. I might meet someone new, but in a month or two, once I get through whatever the issue is or whatever, maybe the new job experience or leaning into that fear, I will re pick them up and they're going to be back part of my inner circle.
If that makes. It does it doesn't make sense? Cause it makes me think about when I think about who is giving me feedback and critiquing part of me would want that to be somebody that I would consider it to be in that facul. Yeah, but sometimes it's helpful to have like the resistor too, cause that's a completely different perspective, but yes, I think, and I think that does make sense, you know, um, like who's, who's on that council and who, who needs to be, you'll get to be on that council for that particular part of the.
Yes. And I think that that's different in every aspect, meaning like you're going to have a different counselor or a different people, a part of that train for work for personal, for business, for relationships. Um, and it's constantly moving and maybe they're on like, they're part of your inner circle and you have them in maybe.
Seton 1 0 2 will. They need to be in C 1 0 7 because one don't use not working. You know what I mean? So like you have flexibility to be able to say, oh, I'm going to move you. And just you over here. And I'm going to come to you for maybe this advice, or I'm going to lean into you for your thoughts on this, or I'm going to share my vulnerabilities with you here, but like that constantly gets to rotate and move.
And you are the driver. Of that train. So you can be able to say like, do I want someone to be on this train or do I want someone to be maybe in the third or fourth carts? That's a little bit farther away. So there's a little bit more distance between the two of us. So I think like at the end of the day you get to be that conductor.
That's like, Ooh, do I want that? Do I not? Is it appropriate right now? In my mind? I'm really curious about the process of getting somebody to be sort of further back in the train, you know, especially if they've been at the front of the train, I'm just really curious about that because I love the principle of it.
And I I've seen where that's happened in my life. But it's bringing up a lot of courage and bravery. Yeah. Yeah. And I think sometimes, and I'm just going to use it from an example of like, I've had a loved one before that I truly truly love. Um, and she's an incredible person. And, you know, I lived with her for a duration of time in college and different things, but sometimes when you're so embedded in that type of relationship, You might not be able to grow to your fullest capacity.
So I needed to separate myself a little bit from her. So I moved her maybe a little bit farther down in my carts, so I could be able to perform and try things that were new. And I wasn't limited or capped by my ability by just from our conversations or how we perceive things, our perspective, I will still always love her, but I'm just moving her in different areas.
I'm giving us maybe some distance, some like physical disease. And then maybe it's from psychological distance. So we're not always together. We're not always eating D you know what I mean? So then that allows me to be able to come up with my own thoughts. And so I think when you have, especially people with big personalities, sometimes you might have to readjust, and it doesn't say, like, I won't go see her on the weekends, or I won't go celebrate your birthday, or I won't go do whatever, but it's nice to be able to have that little bit of distance.
So then I can spend that time as me being an introvert to process. Does her values align with mine? Do I want my life to look like that? Um, is it okay to be different? Is it okay to have, um, a different perspective? Am I allowing myself to try something that I don't really believe in, but I'm going to learn about it and you know, so all those factors come up, but sometimes if you're so, um, in tandem with someone or if you're so parallel, you'll never allow yourself the flexibility that's needed to be able to be able to offer.
Oh, do I like this? Well, I'm willing to try something new. Can I lean into this? And so I think for me in that scenario, I needed that person to take a little bit more of a social distancing and a, like a psychological distancing in a sense. So then I could be able to see, okay, am I willing to move to this state?
Where am I willing to take risk? What type of risk do I want to take? So I still always loved her and I still will always like she's, you know, really close in my life, but she's not right there where every single day I'm seeing. I may, for a lot of silence that really resumes really does. And I think it's, it's definitely helpful to me to think about things in a state of dynamic.
Right. There's not a prominence, necessarily. Everything is shifting. That's reassuring to me. And that's a good thing, right? Because you need those pivots in life. They're going to happen no matter what. And sometimes the course will look different and um, sometimes your inner circle will change. And I think that's always rotating.
It's like the train never stops. It's just, who's on that train. Who's on what part of that train? Um, And who's at the next train station. Who did you leave behind? But it's not saying that you're saying goodbye to anyone. And even if you did, maybe it's like, it was a short period of your life that you were like, okay, now that door's closed.
Right. Right. So we was exploring a little bit about leadership and you were very excited about some of the learnings that you were having. What is, what is coming because as you're building this film and you're going through MBA program, and there's just so much crossing of leadership, so what's inspiring you right now.
Correct. I always like people that are involved in revolutionary leadership, people who maybe don't conform to the typical ways of how we view leadership and what we've talked about. So there's one person that I enjoy in his name is Tom Gartland. He, um, Or has written a book. He travels around the country, speaking a lot about it, but it's all about lead with heart.
And I really do believe like I'm a person who leads with my heart. You know, I care about people first. I care about their personal and their business performance too. And I think for me, it's something like, well, how do we change that culture within. Um, for me either, if it's in the company or if it's in the nonprofit or at school, wherever it is, how do I make my greatest influence?
So how am I a better listener? How do I show up? What does that look like? Um, you know, and it's investing in them. I've recognized that if I invest in more people, meaning I spend time with them. I get to know them. I hear about their concerns, learn about their vulnerabilities and vice versa. I'm willing to maybe take off the hat of being like.
The boss or being the leader within the class, or if it's like working for the company and having people under me taking off that hat and I am, we are just equals on everything. Like how we talk to one another, how we present it allows me to give them the greatest. Come in, like my gates are open. There's no, no trespassing sign.
And then we're able to have open conversation. So whether they're having a good day or a bad day, um, I want to know about it. So then I can best be able to figure out, well, how can I best serve you while you. Oh, sorry, compassion and empathy, and viewed into that. Yeah. And this is, and this is revolutionary and leading with hot feels different.
In a way to how the people do business. Well, can you share a little bit more about like, why that contrast you're like, oh yeah, that totally makes sense to me. You know? Um, my pastor, my church once said this and I've never been on a missions trip and I hope to one day go, but it's um, he was like in general, he's like, when people go on mission trips, they talk about it.
They're so excited. They're going to spread the gospel and so different, um, in different ways or for them to share their. And they get so excited and the entire time of like getting in the car, getting to the airport or wherever they are going, you know, it's this comradery, everyone comes together and there's joy.
Well, that same joy that you bring and showing up to go help and serve. Maybe others is the same. I believe joy. You have to bring to the office, the joy you have to bring to the board, meeting the joy I have to bring to the classroom. So it looks different because it's. It's not that I'm it's on Monday and then I flip it off on Tuesday and then Wednesday and Thursday, it's like a downward slope.
No, it's every day showing up with joy, showing up with that excitement of like, we are here together. We are one unison. We are a team and it's working of how do we navigate? How do we help each other? So how do I serve you and how do you serve me and how do we serve the company? Or how do we serve the. So, um, I think from that perspective, it allows me to really be able to say like, that's a component where we all joined forces together, but you have to show up with joy.
And when I say we meaning myself too, like I have to show up like your energy that you bring to a room depicts a lot of like how that conversation will go. It's important that when I show up, I show up being my authentic self, but I bring joy in the process. I'm eager about the conversation, even if it's a difficult one or a challenging one.
Um, if it's something that even makes me uncomfortable, I have to tell myself like, Caitlin, you can do it, but you have to do it. You know, you're doing it because it's something that's weighing on your heart. And that comes from a part of, like, for me, I believe like the joy of being able to get that off my heart or whatever that burden is.
It, it helps get the elephant out of the room. So then it's a clear pathway for us all to communicate and have open. Honest conversation. And that brings me joy because then we're all authentic and it's raw emotions, whether it's happiness or sadness or anger or frustration, or maybe it's an apology, whatever the case is, it brings me relief.
Knowing that I came in with the right intentions and I get to walk away knowing that, okay, we all got to feel the, our own emotions and we felt comfortable in that space to be authentic with one another. And I think that's incredible. I think. It's incredible as a human. Um, it's incredible to be able to be human at all times.
Yes. It sounds like a strange statement to me, but. Having Watts in certain corporate saplings, I have found myself to be an outlier. Yeah. Yes. And there is that switching on switching off sort of mentality. Correct. I recognize that that's not the thing that happens all the time, you know, like, right. I think in every walk of life, we're going to experience someone who might be at a little bit of a Debbie downer.
And then I always like to look at it is, well, how do I make them smile today? Cause I don't know. Right. Like, I don't walk in their shoes. I don't know what their home life situation is. I don't know how they were brought up. I don't know where their financial stand, you know, like there's so many components I don't know about them, but if they come with this negative energy, um, I always like to say, well, how can I make it positive?
And it's little things. It's like, it doesn't cost money to do. Time, it doesn't cost money to showcase joy. So like when I go to, even if it's like, Tarjay, I like to call it. Um, and I, I had their like NAC their name badge, and it's like suddenly, or if it's like, um, maybe Susie Q or Johnny or whoever it is, or Cassius.
I get excited saying their name and like looking them directly in the eyes and saying like, how are you doing today? Like, I didn't really care about them because if it wasn't for them, I wouldn't be able to get to my stuff that I need to be able to live throughout my day or right. Like the bare essentials or whatever the case is.
Um, if I go to a restaurant and there's someone that is serving, um, I like to look at his name tag, maybe it's Cody. And I'm like, Hey Cody, like, you know, I think it's important to engage with them because. My energy then impacts their energy. And like, then we get to have a great connection. And I think as a leader, I should be able to walk in the room.
And if I see someone slightly off, like from their norm of their personality, then maybe it's going that extra mile for the day and just checking on them. And that's why I think the hardest thing probably about this whole time of just with COVID is you can chat with someone, all you want on the phone, and sometimes you get a different facade.
Like you can't really know if they're actually doing well. They might be saying like, I'm fine. Or I'm okay. Like, what does that actually mean? And so I am appreciative of like, you know, platforms like zoom or FaceTime. Just so I can be able to see the person and usually by their expression, I can see whether or not I need to invest more time with chatting with them, speaking with them because that when you infuse maybe, um, positive light to them and they're in a time of darkness and you're able to infuse that they will then see that there is light in their dark tunnel and they will get through it.
And I am there to help them navigate it and get, you know, get along the way to be able to showcase like the lights brighter over here. I will continue to send positive energy your way, but I need you to also do work in showing up for yourself and together we will get there. Wow. That's really powerful Kaitlin.
I think I'm like a little token. My story. Thank you for sharing that. So to Kaitlin, for those that want to stay in touch with you, what's the best way to be able to get them. Yeah. So I would recommend that, um, they go to my website. I have Caitlin shannon.com and you'll see all I'm on all social media platforms, all under Caitlin Shanna.
So, um, I love when people send me messages through Instagram, from Twitter to email, um, I love conversing and meeting new people. So I would say the best way through contact is going to my website. They'll see all my different social media platforms, also my email there, and for me to be able to reach out to them, Amazing.
I will put all of those on the show notes as well that people can reference. So Kaitlyn thank you so much for this conversation and thank you so much for your inspiration and for your time. Oh, this has been an absolute joy and it's really nice to meet other servant leaders like yourself. Thank you. Now listeners, I will put all the references in the show notes.
And as I mentioned near the beginning of the show, if you're interested in donating to real stories for real people, that link will also be there. As we know that's going to an amazing, cool. If you enjoyed the show today, please do not hesitate to rate it and give us some feedback until next time. I'm your host Sura Al-Naimi