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Leading others, but struggling internally?

I'm sharing here my story of struggle and the life experience that got me to start Break2be (Video added at the end).

One of my biggest opportunities when leading teams in the Corporate world, was that I didn’t take a moment to pay attention to the difficult feelings I was experiencing and do something to try to turn them around.

My last year at my job was very hard, personally. I was going through emotional pain that I kept dismissing and saying “It’s OK. I’m fine.” and kept moving on, but I was truly heart-broken.

I was leading an awesome group of people, I loved my job, and my company very much, but, at one point, I couldn’t do LIFE the same way anymore and I had to take a break.

Life provided a chance for me to take a break and I took it. No hesitation. I was escaping, instead of facing my current circumstances head on.

And then, I was on a full-time break. I had no meetings to go to, no people to lead, no numbers to check. I was there, just me and my thoughts. And the pain.

It took me about a year to understand how important it should have been for me to take intentional breaks to connect with myself, to face the fact that I was not alright. That I was in pain and that beyond thinking that "there's nothing I can do" I could have actually taken time to help myself.

Here is what I’ve learned though - You can take plenty of time off work, go on a beautiful trip, be with the people that you love, but if things are not in the right place in there (meaning within yourself), nothing will matter. You can be looking at the most beautiful sunsets in Hawaii, at a moment where everything around you is quiet and peaceful, but if what’s inside of you feels like a hurricane, then there is no way you can enjoy what’s going on outside.

I couldn't even help myself.

I was deeply ashamed of myself, guilty and very very sad. But, I kept ignoring that and putting my strong front out to the world, which left me exhausted each night and sad every weekend. Even talking to very nice people became something really hard for me to do...That’s how exhausted I was. I wasn’t there for ME, so it was impossible for me to be there for others. It became hard work.

Then I made life changes that turned me around and gave me the chance to look at life from a different perspective - I became a mom, which was a dream for me, I started working out regularly, I started to cook and bake a lot. It was a forced reflection time, and breaking old molds by allowing myself to be human - with deep feelings and sadness.

People talk a lot about wanting to have a “balanced life” and I often wonder what they mean by that. Having “Balance” is often tied to hours in the day - How many hours you work vs the hours you spend doing things outside of work or with your family. But the equation won’t matter if you are not okay inside, if you are ignoring what’s going on within yourself.

There’s no way to have a “balanced life” if you don’t have a “Balanced You”.

Something is for certain: there’s no way to hold those feelings tight within yourself and pretend they are not there. It is humanly impossible. They will come out somehow - and they will lead you to lose control of yourself. Unless you do something to face them and work through them, instead of ignoring them.

What was sad for me 5 years ago, it's still sad today, but I’ve learned to live with it peacefully. I give myself lots of credit for being brave, true to myself and moving on from it.

I’m still working on that process - It’s an everyday thing. But if I can teach you something from my experience is this:

  • Feeling sadness or shame, doesn't make you a bad leader. It just makes you human, and that's okay. People get that.

  • Trust that everything is going to be fine - And that being brave and honest and true to yourself and your feelings pays off.

  • You don't have to be strong all the time. There are times to be vulnerable, for everyone. We all get tickets for it! Even executives and bosses with big jobs.

  • If you are not feeling happy most of the time, find someone to talk to. I'm sure that there are so many great people around you that like, love and support you 100%. In your bad days and good days - if there's nobody that you can think of, let me know, I'll listen!

To Close This...

I think that if I had done all this and gave myself room to heal and grow while staying in the same environment, I would still be there. I would have probably chosen to stay where we were, to continue to live in the most beautiful home we’ve ever had with wonderful neighbors and quiet streets.

Or maybe, I just needed to do what I did and give myself plenty of room. I now get to look back and appreciate the pain, the people and the lessons even more.

The word "Break" has a deep meaning in my life and because of this story, Break2be happened. It taught me to live differently, have new views of myself, and to align my actions with the person that I really am.

It has also created a stronger purpose in my life to help leaders achieve their success while feeling great, leading themselves with humanity and intention to be at their best - for themselves, their teams and their long-lasting careers.

It’s a work in progress - and it will be a lifelong process - And it should be the same for you all. If there are consistent feelings you are trying to hide or dismiss, do yourself a favor and take a break to pay attention to them. Find someone to help you, if you can’t help yourself.

Do this while you are sane, because if you let it linger for too long, it could do great damage to your life, your career, to your relationships.

Until next time…


Check the video now!

Mariana Jaeger is a Leadership Development and Performance Success expert and has successfully trained, mentored and coached hundreds of people in her career. To learn more about Mariana, click here

Mariana Jaeger


Austin, Texas based, serving clients globally.

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