Organizational psychologist Leanne Faraday-Brash says we can pave the way for people to change their life, but it’s always only up to them to do so
Do you fear not being good enough? Nobody is perfect. Don’t be afraid to pursue your passion!
Though organizational psychologist Leanne Faraday-Brash has the chance to work only with elite, high-performing people, she chooses to use her knowledge and skills to help people who face dysfunctional or toxic behavior too.
‘It does takes a lot of passion and you need to conserve your energy.’ Leanne admits that her work is often very demanding. But her big passion gets her through those times. She chooses to do so because she enjoys assisting people in experiencing life-changing epiphanies.
Leanne reveals a fact that many don’t want to admit: some people prefer to be unhappy and to blame others instead of analyzing their own faulty behavior. They actually enjoy feeling this way as it’s easier to be negative towards everyone else than to admit the truth about themselves.
Do you want to keep the passion going? Our inspiring guests offer priceless advice. Don’t forget to share it with your friends and spread the passion.
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Moustafa: Hello everyone and welcome back to Passion Sundays – the best way to end a week and start another! Our guest today specializes in turning toxic and dysfunctional work environments into high-performing ones – Leanne Faraday-Brash! Thank you very much for being here with us today!
Leanne: A pleasure!
Moustafa: What an interesting specialty you’ve got. I mean you really go into the mess and turn it into something good. That must take a lot of passion. Tell me a bit more!
Leanne: It does takes a lot of passion and you need to conserve your energy. But having had a premature baby at 25 who was very sleepy and boring I decided I wanted to start with group work. And the first gig I was ever given was with drink drivers who had to do their courses in order to get their licenses back. One day I vowed that I was going to work with people who actually wanted to be there. And I still do a lot of that. That’s the high-performing and elite. But then through a sliding doors moment a few years ago I found myself right back at dysfunctional and toxic. And when you achieve a breakthrough and you help people go from all that pain and the lack of safety at work. You choose between grievances and the taking of management time and the ‘high-maintenance’ employee and you are in the room when some sort of breakthrough takes place, it releases a huge energy and productivity and potential profit for the organization. And, more importantly, helps them safeguard against reputational risks which in the modern world of social media, we are only one click away from having to do scandal handle.
Moustafa: I see. But how do you keep the passion going in environments like this? Because that sounds like a lot of drain for the energy. You got to go there and deal with things that are not working. I know the mind finds it like a puzzle. But after a while, it might rub off on you.
Leanne: Well, I think that’s true and I’m lucky in a way that I’m an organizational psychologist because I really try to practice what I preach. It’s what I call ‘green psychology’, it’s about energy conservation. And I know that if I string together a number of days of mediation, investigation work and teams that are really stuck and that is going to be my working week, then I have to make sure that I mentally calibrate for the fact that I’m likely to be tired or drained and what am I going to do to refresh me. But what I also look for are those pearls, those moments when you see the lights go on. Or two people sitting in a mediation. Even when you are talking about it on the platform and you’re looking and you see the faces of the audience as keynote speaker and you see someone gulp or you see tears coming to somebody’s eyes or you see someone just breathe and relax. They’ve hit upon something that it’s going to be potentially momentous for them and it’s such a privilege when you’re in the room when that happens.
Moustafa: I love that… And if you’re talking about finding passion when times are tough, when is it that you feel ‘I can’t go on and this is too much for me’, what is it that really brings that down in you?
Leanne: I think sometimes you wrestle with your own frustration and the ability to suspend judgment because you’re looking at people who are sometimes so defended and they either think they have all the answers or they haven’t got all the answers but nothing and nobody is going to change things for them. They really are to use the clinical word to impress you, they are ‘stuck’. They are really stuck.
Leanne: If I look in the mirror and I took responsibility for my choices to be pessimistic or abrasive or cynical at work, then I wouldn’t feel very good about myself. The easiest thing for them to do is rather than make themselves feel terrible, which does feel yucky for people and destroys their self-esteem, they might project it into other people and say: ‘it’s my manager that’s doing this to me, it’s my competitive jealous peer who is frightened that I’m going to get a promotion above them. It’s my organization that has all these wonderful values on the wall on the high-quality paper, behind glasses in the boardroom with the marble table but they don’t actually care about me’. Because it’s too hard for them to look in the mirror and say: ‘I’m partly the cause of my mindset and I haven’t professional developed myself and I’ve pushed back against every change in the organization. I’ve made myself a prisoner and I’ve forgotten that I have any choices. So instead I’m going to think that everyone else is miserable so why don’t they cheer me up and make my life fantastic?’. Every now and then I get frustrated with that. I know I do. I have to tap in to that. And I have to say ‘Come on, Leanne, suspend judgment, come out of judgment’ and just say that there have been so many things happen to that person before they walked into the room that you are not responsible for but they didn’t necessarily choose either.
Moustafa: How do you help somebody like this? Because I know we are faced with a lot of people like this. I face so many people that are lacking passion but I see the opportunity in them. I’m looking at them and I really want to help them. How can you help them if they’ve already given up on themselves? Is there a way to do that? Also without you playing the god role thinking that you can change people who don’t want to change.
Leanne: Yeah. I think you’ve answered your own question and I know you’re the interviewer but I think there needs to be respect for the fact that people’s defense mechanisms are there for a reason.
Leanne: And some people, if we start to claw away at that and it’s too much or too quick for them, they could actually crumble. So some people actually continue to keep going and I’m not talking about mental health issues but continue to keep going as that unhappy camper who looks forward to come to work to be miserable because if they actually took stock and they actually had a mindset like yours or mine, you doing what you’re doing and me doing what I’m doing, they would reach for that if they could. But unless there is a sort of, as we say in psychology a sort of psychological contract to do that work with them, I think I have to have respect and just hope that maybe at some point in their lives, the right message will come along at the right time in the right way and they will hear it. Because that is what we want for them but not everyone knows how to reach for them as early as they might. And there were times in my life when I thought: ‘Leanne, you big fat hypocrite. You are having a really negative day today or a really negative mind and you’re choosing your own attitude and you’ve gotten yourself in a bit of a funk.’. Or life gets in the way.
Leanne: As it can do. And we are growing and learning all the time but some people are scared of not being good enough. They are competing and comparing. So they are actually scared of putting themselves out there in case they don’t measure up with their own lofty expectations.
Moustafa: I see.
Leanne: And it’s tough being in this skin.
Moustafa: I guess, as you said, we all do what we can for somebody and we pave the way for the next person. We might not be the person who changes their life but we are definitely nudging them a step in the right direction.
Moustafa: At the right time.
Leanne: There is always that potential.
Moustafa: There is always that potential! Leanne, this has been awesome! Thank you very much! I really love all the tips you’ve given!
Leanne: Thank you! Thanks, Moustafa!
Moustafa and Leanne: Passion!
Moustafa: What do you think? I would really love to hear your opinion! If you found this useful, leave your comments on the blog below and do share it with your friends. And if you’d like more tools, tips, techniques and exclusive interviews that I only share on my website, go to Moustafa.com. Until next episode – live passionately!