Anxiety in the workplace is far more common than many of us are willing to admit. And by refusing to normalize it we are making it even more difficult for people to navigate mental health issues and thrive at work. Our guest today, Morra Aarons-Mele, is no stranger to anxiety in the workplace and is the author of The Anxious Achiever: Turn Your Biggest Fears into Your Leadership Superpower.
Morra has done powerful work in raising awareness for mental health in the workplace and has a long list of achievements to her name. In addition to being a best-selling author, global speaker, and consultant, she is also an entrepreneur and communications executive. She is the founder of Women Online, an award-winning social impact agency and she created its database of female influencers, The Mission List, both of which were sold in 2021. Morra is also the host of the award-winning podcast, The Anxious Achiever, where she helps listeners rethink the relationship between their mental health and leadership.
In today’s conversation with Morra, we discuss what inspired her to pursue her work as an advocate for workplace mental health and why anxiety in the workplace needs to be normalized and understood differently from the way it is today. She shares the details of her own complex mental health journey and unpacks how our biased systems aren’t actually designed to serve large groups of the population — like minority groups, women, and neurodivergent individuals — and what steps you can take to make work work for you (and how to identify what you need to help you get there).
We also explore why self-awareness is essential to good leadership, what it means to make anxiety your ally, and how to assess when anxiety is a response that will be productive or counter-productive for you. To learn more about anxiety at work and how to shift your relationship with your mental health, be sure to tune in to this thought-provoking conversation with Morra Aarons-Mele!
Key Highlights From This Episode:
- Introducing today’s guest, Morra Aarons-Mele, her complex mental health journey, and why she was compelled to write on the topic of being an anxious achiever. [00:58]
- Reframing mental health issues not as something to be overcome or cured but as something that you can learn to manage. [06:22]
- The one message Morra would like people to take away from her work. [10:57]
- What Morra has learned about incorporating anxiety and making it an ally. [13:49]
- Asking how to make work work for you and identifying what you need to help you get there. [15:27]
- Taking a strengths-based approach and how to navigate systems that aren’t aligned with what you need and want. [17:58]
- Why self-awareness is a pivotal part of good leadership. [22:02]
- Understanding the different ways that anxiety can manifest, the importance of acknowledging it, and advice on the next steps to take. [24:23]
- Tools and tips for how to assess when anxiety is a productive response. [30:47]
- How to access Morra’s work and get in touch. [32:00]
For More Information: Guest links – hyperlinked & underlined
Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:
Morra’s Latest Book: The Anxious Achiever: Turn Your Biggest Fears into Your Leadership Superpower
Morra’s Podcast: The Anxious Achiever Podcast
Morra’s TED Talk: 3 Steps to stop remote work burnout
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“I learned at a young age that being special was a great way to get people to see me, to value me, to talk about me, to feel the bask of my mom’s admiration and love for me.” — @morraam [0:09:40]
“We work in systems that don’t serve us, that weren’t created for us. They’re racist, they’re patriarchal, they’re biased. And why do a lot of women feel anxious? Why do a lot of people of color feel anxious? Because they are in places that aren’t welcoming.” — @morraam [0:13:27]
“We don’t make systems for the neurodivergent brain.” — @morraam [0:15:49]
“People like me, we need independence. But we [also] need teams and support. Now, if I’m in an organization that values me, I should be able to carve out some of those. But first, I have to know what I need.” — @morraam [0:19:56]
“Self-awareness is, I think, the biggest key to leadership. [And] there’s been data that supports that.” — @morraam [0:22:11]
“Pay attention to your body throughout the day because anxiety really shows up in our body.” — @morraam [0:27:09]
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