2nd July, 2024

What Does High-Performance Look Like?

With Anne Hartslief

Photo of Anne Hartslief

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On this episode

In the search for “success” – however we define it – we tend to overlook our own physical wellbeing, which can lead to stress and other issues.

We don’t necessarily think about our bodies in these moments, instead focusing on the head or the heart. But as leadership coach Anne Hartslief argues, focusing on the body, understanding what it needs and making adjustments, could be the key.

It begins with taking powerful pauses throughout our day. These aren’t just breaks to catch our breath, but moments to check in with our bodies and ask what they need from us. We also need to address micro-aggressions and traumas: the small, everyday stresses that accumulate over time and cause us to disconnect from ourselves.

Ignoring our bodies can lead us down a path of chronic stress, burnout, and more serious health issues. We can end up fragmented, losing touch with our true selves and our definition of success becomes distorted.

But by asking yourself “What is my body telling me right now?”, we can get closer to achieving true performance: a balance of success and wellbeing.

Show links

About the guests

Anne Hartslief photo

Reasons to listen

  • To learn how the idea of “sacred success” can lead to a more peaceful and fulfilled professional life
  • To discover how integrating performance with humanity can lead to a more balanced and successful work experience
  • To understand the importance of staying connected with your body and recognising physical and emotional signs of stress and burnout

Episode highlights


Focusing on the wrong things


Whoi are we when we’re unable to perform?


Trauma and performance


Shame and dissociation


Bringing humanity into performance


Managing our nervous system


Time to vent – and time after the vent


Working within fluid teams


When what you measure isn’t what your boss measures


Performance, job satisfaction, and success


How to tell the difference between state-of-mind and values


Anne’s top tips

Episode transcript

[00:00:00] Rachel: Do you sometimes worry that you’re not performing at your best? And do you get confused as to whether resting and taking time to look after yourself would help your performance, or hinder it as you’d have less time to work? And what is high performance anyway? And who are you if you’re not able to perform in the way that you or other people expect? How do you deal with any guilt or shame that comes up on those states when you’re not performing at your best? When you’ve been snappy with the kids, or just frustrated that you couldn’t spend more time with the patient.

[00:00:32] Today, I’m speaking with Anne Hartslief who helps people get to grips with performance, not from a place of pressure and achievement, but by helping us connect with ourselves, with our bodies, and our emotions. So, if you want to know how to get high performance from yourself without losing your humanity, or need help justifying yourself care for high performance, this episode is for you.

[00:00:57] If you’re in a high stress, high stakes, still blank medicine, and you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed, burning out or getting out are not your only options. I’m Dr. Rachel Morris, and welcome to You Are Not a Frog

[00:01:14] Anne: Hi, I’m Anne and I am the co-founder of Lockstep. We help businesses integrate performance with humanity.

[00:01:22] Rachel: Really wonderful to have you on the podcast today, Anne. I think there’s loads and loads of absolute gems that you’ve got for our listeners. So, is it right to say that you’re a performance coach?

[00:01:32] Anne: I wouldn’t say coach. Um, I think that the word coach these days is thrown so glibly around. No disrespect to anyone, um, that is a brilliant coach. Coaching is one part of it and it is probably the smallest part. I am a teacher, a consultant, a systemic facilitator. We work with businesses and um, we, where you are a hundred percent right, we are all about performance. So where are you leaking performance as a business or as an individual and how do we help you to perform more optimally? And I think Rachel, the keyword there is really optimally, it’s not performance at all costs.

[00:02:14] Rachel: I know lots of people are, are slightly allergic to the word performance, ’cause I think people use it to, to mean all sorts of things, don’t, don’t they? And so when we talk about, you know, performance management, it’s often ’cause people aren’t performing. When we talk about performance quite a lot of the time we’re actually talking about resilience and, you know, and sustainability and stickability.

[00:02:35] What do you mean when you are talking about performance and, and is that different in 2024 to how it was maybe in 2019 before we all went through that covid experiment that we all, we all had to go through?

[00:02:50] Anne: Yeah, what a great, great question. So there’s a lot, there’s a lot there. I totally agree with you. The word performance, it’s a little bit like a lot of the other words like leadership, they become commodity and overt traded words. People don’t even really know what they mean anymore. And that’s, I think, become the problem and was the problem way before 2020 already. Um, whether we wanna say thankfully or not thankfully, but. The recent crisis has really shed a spotlight.

[00:03:18] What we mean by performance is how are you performing optimally? And what is that, what is the end result of that? And what is it serving, and what is its purpose and what is its intention? And for a long time, Rachel, I’ll be honest, and we, my business partner and I, we thought about do we use the word performance or do we use the word purpose? Do we use the word intention?

[00:03:40] But really, if we are completely honest about it, we’ve gotta be brutal about the fact that anyone that owns any kind of establishment, any institution, what they really, really want is success. And people often think about success as performance, and people often use something like purpose, which I know that you’ll know well as almost the dark side of purpose, pushing people in order to perform because it’s our purpose and it’s our mission. Um, and so there’s no getting away from this word performance.

[00:04:17] Rachel: So you’re saying that if you equate performance with success, you’re gonna be focusing on the wrong things to get there?

[00:04:24] Anne: Totally right. So success is really personal. In fact, we call it sacred, sacred success. It’s that personal a notion to be successful. The, the challenge is, is that success is a completely internalized notion. What success looks like for me is so different to what it looks like for you, but our performance metrics are all the same in terms of what we need to be achieving.

[00:04:54] So our route to performance cannot be the same for everybody. It should not be the same for everybody. And so we have brought humanity back into performance. We, we, we talk about it as how do we integrate performance with humanity?

[00:05:10] ‘Cause essentially what performance talks about is the, the doing piece. It’s all externalized. What have you achieved? What numbers have you reached? How many patients have you seen? Um, how have you been diagnosed incorrectly? What, whatever the performance stats, um, might be. Those are, are are clear.

[00:05:31] But the humanity part has been left out. And so what we have seen in the world over and over, and I’m gonna come back to success, if you’re still wondering about that, is our brains can’t handle both and. And that’s how we’ve been called to live at the moment, rather than being totally binary. So what we’ve done is we have separated humanity from performance, ring fence them and made them completely two separate things.

[00:05:57] And, you know, Rachel, my firm belief is, is that when humanity and performance coexist together, what it does to people, it gives them a life force that tends to extend into the periods where people are a little bit tired or where they’ve lost their wear. There’s a life force that they can tap into, um, rather than becoming very boundary. ‘Cause what we see is when people stop burning out, they go, I’ve gotta rest. And actually it’s not about rest. Um, we, we, I love this David Wyatt, um, he’s a poet and he talks about the opposite of, uh, being tired is not rest, it’s wholeheartedness and wholeheartedness for sure, part of that is definitely rest, but it extends way beyond that.

[00:06:47] So that’s a little bit of how we see, um, performance. But you only get to performance with humanity if you treat your success as being really sacred. And sacred is just what do I cherish? What do I care about? And how do I build the capabilities for a sacred success life? How do I stay relevant for a sacred success life? And how do I crack my own performance code?

[00:07:12] Rachel: If I could just start off by thinking about success, ’cause my thinking’s really shifted on this recently thinking that actually what we tend to do is have this idea of success work that could be a, a certain name like director of or leader of, or this, that, and the other, or we have a certain salary level that we think is success. So we have a certain achievement. But often that doesn’t really cut it for us. And I’m really thinking about these things I call our north star needs, which is, you know, human connection and to feel good in yourself and to be working in your zone of genius to learn and grow and to have meaning and purpose in your life.

[00:07:48] And so if you’re heading towards those, then no matter what else happens to you, you’ll be successful. Personally. Is, is that the sort of thing you’re talking about when you talk about sacred success?

[00:07:58] Anne: Um, yes and no. It really dep it really depends on what that might be for you. I don’t think one ever achieves success, and then you, you just stop. And it is this continual growth journey of, of life. So even the success formula, if there, you know, is a complete science to it, would shift and change all the time. So it really depends.

[00:08:19] But my, my learning has been when people start tapping into sacred success, whatever that is for them, the outcome of it is a much deeper level of peace. And that is priceless.

[00:08:34] So when I talk about peace, I don’t mean that we are all sitting on the beach and, um, being idyllic and, you know, looking at sunsets and chasing rainbows all the time because I think that’s what we yearn for. So that’s up in the image when I chat to people that they say, well, that’s what peace is. I’m talking about peace at a much deeper level of congruence within our souls.

[00:08:56] And so peace could mean, right now I know that I’m going through a stressful period, but I recognize that it’s challenging me and it’s, it’s healthy stress. Peace could mean I know I need to put some other boundaries in, in place in order to ring fence what is sacred. It’s really different. For others, it might be getting to that MD or whatever position it is.

[00:09:21] The kicker is whenever what we are doing becomes our sole identity in the title, we, we are a danger of losing our sacred success, ’cause that’s the shift over. It is on me to do all of this. It’s only on me because then we, one, the ego comes into, into play. Uh, two, we stop seeing the interconnectedness of life and of the world and that we’re not alone. And it’s doesn’t need to be this, um, lonely.

[00:09:53] So I, I would say that the more you push into this notion of sacred success, it really get into the right answer. Requires you to be able to go and what we call a, a quest of really knowing yourself and to, to, to really embark on a quest of understanding life and the world with curiosity and with a sense of lightness rather than, than dread.

[00:10:19] Um, and I, I always say these things really cautiously because there’s so much angst and real crises in the world. So I, I, we’ve got to be brutally honest about what we are facing. But we’ve gotta know that the only way through is, is through.

[00:10:37] And so the way we treat ourselves as a system is really important. The ecosystem we are working in is really important and the ecosystem of the world is really important. But we don’t need to take it as heavily as we do. We can, we can have a lightness about our being whilst we are going through really grim things.

[00:10:59] Rachel: And did you always have that idea of, of success in your head throughout your working life, or has that just come to you fairly recently?

[00:11:07] Anne: No, I have not always had that definition of success. I grew up as a gymnast, um, really dedicated my whole life from about. I would say eight to about 18, 19 when I got injured to, um, being an athlete. And obviously that gives you it gave me a lot of really great resilience and it also gave me some, what I call real stinking thinking, um, about what performance meant.

[00:11:33] So essentially what happened to me is two things when I was young. One was the performance. And the second thing is when I stopped being able to perform, I didn’t know who I was. But in my 18-year-old body, I didn’t recognize that that was what was happening, but except I swapped it for something else. So I swapped that need for wanting to be recognized to stand on the podium for this need of wanting to be, and I say this in inverted, um, commas, successful in business.

[00:12:01] And I remember actually standing in the UK as a, I was then a 21-year-old. I’d just finished, I had big, bright dreams and I was standing at a conference and it was talking to people of upper the world of work. And I just felt this pull to say, work has gotta be different. Work needs to be a place of joy. It needs to be a place of, of something that is a force for good, but where we can still perform really well.

[00:12:24] But I then went on like, I think a lot of people on a little bit of a wayward journey of really trying to calm the corporate success ladder. And fast forward, what I realized was I had completely disassociated, which I learned to do as a very young child doing gymnastics, from my body completely. Until 18 months ago, I was diagnosed with, uh, breast cancer. And just by, by chance actually how I got led to my breast cancer diagnosis was actually through, I’d said my goal for the year was gonna be, um, next level health. I’d even made my health like something to be like performing, if that makes sense. And I hadn’t even realized that.

[00:13:05] So I was slamming my body, I was pushing. And then this diagnosis, um. It really stopped me in my tracks to say, well, you just don’t have a choice anymore. You can’t push, um, any harder. And so I always say push energy runs out of itself.

[00:13:22] And truthfully, I’m still very fresh into this diagnosis. It’s only, it’s only been 18 months and I am still in that space of, you know, when you are in process and everything feels new. And all of these epiphanies are, I think, to everybody else, they’re like obvious. But to me they’re so fresh and so new. But with my experience of being in business, I’m seeing it through what feels like such fresh and joyful, um, eyes at the moment.

[00:13:51] So I think we have got performance horribly wrong. In business. I think it’s a tragedy. I think we could be earning much more. I think business owners could be pulling much more dividends if that’s what success is for them. I think we could be caring for much more people and really performing much better if we got this humanity part integrated into it.

[00:14:15] Rachel: it, it’s really not uncommon is it, for people to face really significant health crisis in, in midlife and then have a massive, massive rethink. And you said you’d already been thinking about joy and work and performance anyway ’cause I know you’ve been been in business doing this work for a long time. So what was the biggest mindset shift for you in the last sort of 18 months?

[00:14:35] Anne: The biggest shift for me is not being in my body is no longer an option. And what I mean by that is in order to cope, I had, uh, I didn’t even know that I was coping actually, I thought I was thriving, to be honest. And isn’t that, that is, even the scarier part for me is, I mean, there were signals now that I, uh, can look back with hindsight. There were definitely signals, but I, I realized I had just disconnected completely. I disassociated, um, from my body and we have kept trauma and any kind of somatic work and any body work mostly out of the workspace in order to survive, um, and to, to build again in inverted commas, our resilience. That is how we, um, function.

[00:15:25] So the biggest shift for me is being to really take powerful pauses. I mean, I, I know this is old news, like pause during your day. But it wasn’t about pausing to catch my breath. It wasn’t about pausing to regulate myself. It was, it was more to say like, where is my body? And if my body could talk to me right now, what would it be asking me for? What would it literally be saying to me? And that has led me to understand that there are so many of us that are walking around in our working worlds being split off from ourselves because that’s the very essence of trauma. Uh, we split off. From ourselves in some way we fragment. And in many instances that’s good because it helps us to cope. We all know if we’re gonna be chased by a tiger, we, we wanna be disassociated and kind of just running, but we can’t stay in it.

[00:16:18] So that’s been the shift for me to say, like, how fragmented I am I in work? And the more open I am, the more creative I’ve been, the more honest I’ve been. I’ve been brutally honest and in a very respectful way to myself. Um, so the shift for me has been not disconnecting from my body and really doing a lot of sematic body work in order to, um, ensure that I, I I stay fully, fully present.

[00:16:44] And the, the second one has been to really bring more trauma work into the places, um, of work. Like, let’s talk about trauma, and I don’t mean necessarily the big Ts because those are easy to spot. We know them, we name them. I’m talking about these microaggressions that happened to us and what are the stories that we carry in about those.

[00:17:06] Rachel: It’s really interesting you say we dissociate from our bodies. And this whole trauma thing is, I think, such a big, big relevant topic for our listeners, particularly people working where they’re seeing these actually incredibly traumatic things daily, daily, daily, daily. That, that other people might only see or, or, or talk to other people about once or twice in a lifetime. And one of the coping mechanisms is obviously just, just to just suppress it and get on with your day, ’cause you can’t possibly be, be feeling everything you could possibly feel all the time, ’cause otherwise you, you couldn’t possibly function.

[00:17:41] Can I just ask you what you mean when you say dissociating from my body? Do you mean that we’re not recognizing what we’re actually feeling?

[00:17:48] Anne: it is a combination, but what I really mean is the big swings in our body we can feel. So when we are really very anxious, you know, it, you can feel it. When you are really very low, you know it, you can feel it. When you are really very tired. So what I mean is, is that people are living in the extremes and it’s this middle area that where is where life happens mostly. And often it’s in that middle area that we, because we’ve had a period of being tired or very anxious or whatever it is, and we go back to what we think is normal, um, or are kind of middle ground, except it’s, it’s not.

[00:18:29] And so because we haven’t allowed some of those traumas or busy periods or anxieties to really work themselves through our body, we haven’t allowed them to release in an appropriate way, we just, we will deal with it later. And as you say, we’re dealing with so much stuff we can’t deal with absolutely everything.

[00:18:49] Someone often said to me, we wanna live awake. And I said, uh, we wanna be alive. And I said, I don’t know if I really wanna be alive to everything. I, I, I know and I see, but I do wanna be fully awake. And that is what in our body is, is that you’re, you’re awake to what is happening in the ordinary.

[00:19:05] And so, there’s shame actually for me, and even telling you this, like even as I’m saying this overtly, like the sensation you talk about being in your body that I’m feeling is one of immense shame that I even have to admit this, but, and that’s been in my body before, I wouldn’t even be able to admit that. I would just mustn’t think that, push that down, never express this, do this call, say goodbye to you. And I would just go on. That’s not being in my body.

[00:19:36] Being in my body now means, oh, I felt that thing. I’m awake to it. It’s okay my friend. I see you, shame. Come and sit with me for a little bit. Where do you come from? Just being curious about it. Where before I’d make it a heavy.

[00:19:50] So I’d even, you know, and I said it’s a goal, I would make it a goal. I’m gonna go and read up about shame. I’m gonna go and look at the toolkit for shame. I’m gonna do the five things. Tomorrow morning, I am going to breathe five times, then I’m going to, you know, do all of these things. It’s a little bit about what you’re been talking about, which I’ve so been loving around the, the problem with wellness. When now I just, I stay curious about it and that makes me awake to it and it makes me open to it. And really being in my body actually has meant loving in myself, really loving myself.

[00:20:26] And I used to really not have time for, for that kind of emotion. I’d be like, you’re hardcore. You’re, you’re gonna go for it. You’re gonna keep on tracking, look at you. Where, no, I do need to keep on tracking, but I can do it with much more of a, an openness to, to myself.

[00:20:47] Rachel: I think it’s that naming it, because I think we often get that uncomfortable feeling of, I’ve got that uncomfortable feeling and I’ll just, I’ll just push it down ’cause I haven’t got time to feel it. Or I think particularly with, with shame, which I think as doctors we feel all the time, shame when I’ve, I’ve run over time with the patient even though they needed it, shame when uh, I couldn’t give the patient exactly what they wanted or needed ’cause there’s not enough resources, shame that I didn’t know the answer to that question, shame that I might have reacted a bit badly to that really tricky situation, shame that I’ve got home and been a bit snappy with the kids ’cause I’m so fricking knackered, shame, shame, shame all the time.

[00:21:27] And the problem is, if I was feeding that all day and naming it, would I get anything done, Anne? Would I be able to see all my patients if I was constantly feeling that shame? I think this is what a lot of our listeners will be, will be asking because feeling the shame seems to, well that’s an overwhelmingly negative feeling and it’s, that seems really hard.

[00:21:51] Anne: Yeah, I, I don’t think we can walk around because there’s a fine line between feeling something and becoming a victim to something. and so it really comes back to this mindset of saying like, I do feel this, and it’s okay.

[00:22:08] The second part is probably just as important as the naming. And so we can’t go around, ah, I feel shame, I feel shame. I feel we’ll be absolutely paralyzed. And in fact, a lot of my life I’m realizing, and I see this in so many people I work with and that are in high stake careers, is that they are able to keep on pushing in what I call a functional free state. So they look like they’re high achievers and they’re doing a lot, but actually their cortisol is so hard that they can’t actually stop and they can’t actually, they don’t know how to, it’s just been too much for, for, for too long.

[00:22:46] And so when you start recognizing it that I’m not Superwoman, and I’m doing some of the things that Superwoman does, but I don’t need to be that, um, the conversation changes. So it’s not about just naming the shame, that’s just the, that’s just the entry point. What actually needs to happen during the day when you’re feeling all of this, it is just to actually literally put a hand on your heart, touch yourself almost like I, I am normal and it’s okay. It’s okay that I’m feeling this. To grant yourself permission to feel that and still love yourself through it.

[00:23:26] I think the second part is more important because when we are open, then we can say, I need help. When we are open, we can say, I’ve messed up, but I’m gonna do better, when we are open, we can be more innovative. It’s when we are closed because we haven’t even been able to name it or deal with it. We just don’t get anywhere. So what I’m saying is we can be a mess in our day and still love ourselves.

[00:23:51] And I I, Rachel, do you know that even two years ago I would never be talking about loving ourselves? ‘Cause I, for me, people that spoke about loving themselves in the workplace, I would be like, no, you just need more discipline. So it’s the both and. We do need the discipline. I’m not saying that we give those things up. We, we absolutely need them and we need this other part of our humanity to join us.

[00:24:17] Rachel: That makes such sense. And I, I think one of the problems is when we’ve got so used to feeling this, this feeling of shame on I’m, I’m not doing well enough or whatever, that, um, we then have this internal interpreter in our brain. Fantastic author Will Storr talked about this sort of interpreter where we’re keep like interpreting our, what our actions are to make sense of everything, to make our egos, okay, so we’re telling us, sells these stories. Well, if you know it’s their fault for not being like that or it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s just a system or, or this, so that we don’t feel the real feeling underneath, which is, I I’m just not good enough, ’cause I can’t do it all. Whether that’s thought is true or not, mostly it’s absolutely not true.

[00:24:56] So when we are actually not able to name it once, we’ve named it for what it is. And one of the complete antidotes to shame is just getting it out in the open, isn’t it? You know, I think Brene Brown says Shame can’t survive being spoken. And even if you spoken it to yourself or you write it down or whatever, that’s, that’s really helpful. And then I love that the under the self, the self-care and understanding of, well of course you are feeling like that, you know, look what you just had to deal with and, and that’s okay. And then being able to move through. I think that is so important.

[00:25:25] But I think when you talk about self-care. When it is in work, a choice of self-care or caring for others, and in my head, if I’ve got a load of stuff to do and I stop to do self-care, I’m letting other people down and that then causes me shame, ’cause I’m not good enough, I can’t quite cope. I’m always going choose that I’m caring for others, I’m getting everything done option rather than self-care. If I’m not identifying the reason why I can’t do it in the first place, ’cause no one’s gonna choose to feel shame, are they?

[00:25:59] So are you saying that once we do start naming it and becoming not comfortable with it, but more, more used to it, then we’re able to look at it and accept it and go, okay, well that’s, that’s happening and I’m going to look after myself and care for myself and take a break despite the feeling of shame that that might come if, if I do so?

[00:26:20] Anne: I, I think the problem is with the word self-care. Again, it goes back to our conversation in the big, right in the beginning where all of these words have become used so glibly, I actually have started not using the word self-care. Maybe that’s wrong. I dunno, maybe I should just be, but I am saying to anyone I’m working with, I, um, please call it necessary care.

[00:26:40] And I can imagine, uh, with people that are, um, in the medical space, that must be incredibly hard. I’ve got just such empathy, um, around that. But it is really necessary. And the challenge with that is not many people understand, because everything else just feels more urgent than yourself in that moment.

[00:27:06] And I think because we become quite binary as people, we often think about care or the necessary care as this big thing. I’ve gotta stop this so that I can do that. I’ve gotta go away for a month on sabbatical and I’ve gotta come back. I’ve gotta switch my phone off for a whole weekend. No one can phone me. So we go to these extremities to protect ourselves. And I think, again, even in those extremities, those are messages that we are sending ourselves about where, where we are at.

[00:27:37] And so when we become less binary, I need to give myself necessary care. This doesn’t need to be a big thing. We make it these big things. So then it becomes another performance task that we have to do.

[00:27:48] Rachel: Yeah, we’ve been putting some posts on Facebook recently About, you know, what to do if you’re overwhelmed and, and things like that. And some people are getting really upset about the fact that we’re saying stop. How can you tell people to stop when they’re overwhelmed? It’s like, oh my goodness. You know, even the fact that you’re reacting badly to that post shows me the level of overwhelm that there is. And it’s, it’s really just, you know, stop and write down everything you’ve got to do so that you can get it outta your brain and start to actually move, move through it.

[00:28:13] I love this reframing of self-care as necessary care, because then it becomes more about, well, you need, you know, it becomes more about filling up the car, right? With, with, with fuel. Otherwise you can’t, you can’t drive anywhere. And I, for one, don’t want to be operated on by a surgeon who hasn’t had lunch. You know, it’s, it cycles back to performance.

[00:28:34] But we have this, you know, this massive guilt about, about the self-care that, you know, we have to go around saying self-care isn’t selfish. But by even saying that, it implies that you might have thought it was selfish in the first place. And that is a key, we bring it back to performance, it’s such a key part of performance that I think most of us totally ignore, that your own mental state, your own physical state, your own emotional state is totally key to how you are performing in the workplace.

[00:29:05] And so, is this what you mean by when you say that you are bringing humanity back to performance, or is there other elements of it as well?

[00:29:14] Anne: it’s a part of it. So the, the humanity into performance is how are we having the kind of conversations that we need to have? How are we creating psychological safety? And that’s also become another buzzword because psychological safety actually, uh, it’s everybody’s responsibility to create psychological safety.

[00:29:35] And I’m talking about what are the new kind of levers that we need to start looking, looking at things through? What are the cultural codes that we should be setting and within our, um, organizations or our places of work, so that we can perform? Um, what does relevance look like in organizations today? Like how relevant is this?

[00:29:58] What is, I think each business, um, or institution has its own unique performance code. And that takes a set of the higher metrics that we know need to be achieved together with other things like have you crafted a success hypotheses? What is that? How are you communicating safety and hope? Uh, there’s a whole, uh, a formula that we give different businesses. And, you know, Rachel, not one formula is the same, um, as the next. So that’s the, the one part about it.

[00:30:32] The other part about performance and humanity is that I really, really believe that we are going to only get to performance integrated with humanity is when we start addressing our nervous system health as a society. And I know that that is a really big statement, because what I see all the time and what we know is true from the science is that nervous systems read nervous systems. And what I mean by that is even when it’s a doctor or someone seeing a patient, if their nervous system isn’t anchored or grounded, they can only 10 for so long, and they’re actually imparting that to that patient, that patient is picking up their nervous system too. And I would even argue that you can’t really heal anybody, um, unless your nervous system is in an okay state. It doesn’t even have to be brilliant, ’cause we are not brilliant all the time. Um, so I’m not saying you have to go for like I am all Zen today, again, that would be binary. But just knowing that that patient that you are talking to is reading your nervous system and you are reading theirs. And so we get ourselves into this, what I call self-sabotage cycle, all of us in the world. And I think that’s what’s going on at the moment, which is why if we could all just stop and pay attention to our nervous system health, knowing when we are open, knowing when we are closed, I think we could circumvent a whole lot of stuff.

[00:32:03] Rachel: Oh my goodness. I, I, I so totally agree. And you know, in the medical world you’ve got the nervous system, not just with the patient and, and the doctor, but obviously the patient’s rubs off on the doctor. ’cause the patient’s obviously nervous when they go and see the doctor. That’s pretty much the default stage, isn’t it? But then you’ve got the, the doctors and their colleagues and then everybody else that they work with, and everyone’s got this high circulating cortisol and everybody’s stressed and Yeah. it just, this ma massive melting pot of stress.

[00:32:30] And then we see the, the bad behavior happening and, you know, people always say, well, how, how can such dreadful behavior be happening in hospitals and things like that? And when you are very caring people and you know. Most people who go into healthcare are, are really nice, really good people who aren’t necessarily motivated by the money. Because you know, certainly in this, in this country, you wanna earn a lot of money, go do something else.

[00:32:52] So then why do we have this dreadful behavior happening? I think it exactly what you said, it’s because most of us are going around with really high circulating cortisol, uh, you know, the ichi might not be out, but it’s certainly just like waiting to get out at, at any point, so we become triggered really, really quickly and really fast. Then we don’t focus on managing that or recognizing what’s going on. We focus on the other things that, that we think are important. We try and teach people how to be really empathetic or how to communicate properly. Whereas we haven’t taught them actually how to recognize are they, are they in their sympathetic nervous zone or not? Is there in a chimp out or not?

[00:33:29] I love the concept of being above or below the line that, the 15 commitments of conscious leadership. I found that bit recent. I just found it So helpful just recognizing am I above the line in my sort of general parasympathetic state where I’m thinking properly, I’m using all of my brain? Or am I below the line in an ego stressed, sympathetic zone where I would just react to everything as a personal attack on me? And I think a lot of the time I am below the line and I’m really working on just even recognizing that, and recognizing it, naming it.

[00:33:59] I, I guess that cycles back to what you were saying about earlier when you say, oh, I’m just recognizing that feeling of shame in myself. Often that, that tips us below the line doesn’t tip those emo those emotions, those negative emotions tip us below the line. And then we have a reaction to what someone said that’s due to something entirely different. But then we have this vicious cycle of all reacting to each other.

[00:34:22] So this management of nervous systems really important, but how on earth do you do that?

[00:34:27] Anne: So I think the individual basis is obviously, um, a lot easier if a person chooses to do that. ’cause there’s so many, modalities that if someone is gonna be dedicated to it, can do. What I think we’ve missed, um, and what you’re, pinpointing to is dealing with our collective trauma and healing organizations.

[00:34:48] And there is a real space right now there. For me, there’s a broken business and that’s when we are, uh, leaking, uh, performance or we’re not making it, or there’s some big, uh, challenge we need to solve is, is, is the one thing. And then there’s, um, on top of that, all of this collective trauma that’s been, um, hanging around and people don’t wanna talk about that in their places of work, collectively. They’re happy to talk about themselves to the people that they trust, but they’re not happy to talk about this group. And that is why I don’t think we can, we are not going the full way.

[00:35:23] Um, so there are ways, and the one is we actually just call it nervous system mapping. We do work where we actually map the nervous system of individuals and then we do a nervous system map of this group or this organization. And again, all that really is, is giving people handles to name if this team or this organization was a person, where is its nervous system and how is it showing up? Like what does that map really look like?

[00:35:56] And then because we are talking, we’ve mapped something and we’ve actually put it on the board, it gives way to really great questions because healing takes place through discovery of what, what it is we need to be doing and how we need to be doing it. It’s, I mean, it’s a diagnostic, but on a, on, you know, on another, on another level. And so then we start working into that and that’s when the coaching starts.

[00:36:23] Uh, and we keep on these conversations alive. And what happens is one, and this is the systemic work. So once something shifts in one person and we seen it, it triggers, uh, in the best way, other shifts. And we just keep on naming it. We even do what we call sometimes constellations where people move around the room, around how they’re constellating, um, and we just give them language because the problem is we can’t talk about it ’cause we don’t have language and it’s become personalized. So depersonalize, what is this and what are the conversations we really need to happen? So that’s the first thing we depersonalize.

[00:37:00] The second part is we actually do personalize. ‘ cause you can’t talk about nervous system without getting personalized. So once we’ve got it over all that, we actually do take it into the, the personal. But the trick to doing this nervous system work is to do it in community. And again, I think that that’s a shift, from the past in that businesses have been seen as entities and now there are ecosystems, there are communities, whether we virtual or not virtual.

[00:37:28] And I don’t mean we all need to barbecue together or whatever it is we need to be doing or being best friends outside of work. I, I’m not alluding to like a community that, you know, are codependent in any way. I’m talking about seeing work as a part of the community, of your life, and therefore, how do we talk about this kind of trauma, this kind of healing that we all need from a place of knowing It is all of our responsibility? Um, not the business, not my boss, not my manager only.

[00:38:00] And the way to do it is to actually put a light onto it to really shine, shine the light, knowing that it won’t, um, disappear, and then doing a whole lot of, um, processes.

[00:38:11] Rachel: It’s so important just getting that stuff out in the open. And I’ve just had this realization recently, about how important it is just to be able to uncover what, what’s going on, where’s the nerve? Like you said, where’s, I love the way you put it. Like, how’s the nervous system? Um, you know, what, what is causing stress? What’s out there? How are, how are people feeling?

[00:38:31] I guess, as a, as a leader? We’ve done this recently with my team, and I found it really hard because as a leader you feel a really responsible, and then you just feel this massive amount of shame that it’s your fault. Now, I know it can’t always be the leader’s fault, but you know, you know that, that a, a lot of people’s stress is maybe the way that you’ve been reacting to things and not modeling it. We know that stress passes on down and the leader does have a big in influence.

[00:38:56] And I think that probably stops us a lot of the time, it stops the leaders from allowing the teams to have their say and just to have a bit of vent, because it feels, you say we depersonalize it, it just does feel so personal. If your team are going, oh, I’m really, really stressed, and you’re the leader of the team, you’re thinking, oh my goodness, I’m, I’m a failure, I’ve done this, done completely wrong. So it’s, it’s a really tricky one, but it’s incredibly cathartic when it actually does happen, isn’t it?

[00:39:23] Anne: It is so cathartic, but I think it’s more than the, the vent. It is the, it is the vent and it’s, it’s feeling all of that. But what happens after that is actually even more important. ‘Cause what I see so often and why I feel that so many people don’t want to be themselves in these sessions or open up, because when the contracting hasn’t been done properly or it’s still too much of a transactional environment, I say, and you do, um, we need to just keep on going. And if it’s too much of a transactional environment, number one, that naming or that venting is gonna happen in even with the best contracting. It’s going to potentially be a, a blame session, a shame session. And then nothing happens afterwards. And actually all that does is actually, it causes more damage to our nervous systems.

[00:40:17] So we really need skilled people to be helping us on not just the, the vent, but what happens after that? What are we saying? How are we putting this together? What agreements are we making? What are we gonna be monitoring? What does systemic, we call it optimal system performance, look like within myself and within this environment?

[00:40:43] And how do I, um, I, I’m cautious about saying this, um, because I’ve, I’ve got to be honest and say whilst I am in the doctor’s rooms a lot at the moment, um, and hospitals a lot at them, I don’t work in the medical field. And, um, yeah, my empathy for, um, the medical professionals during my cancer, I’m sure has, has skyrocketed. I just, I have just such immense, um, respect for anyone in the, in the medical, um, profession.

[00:41:12] But the, the, the challenge in, in businesses is, is that, uh, leaders then even start to get transactional about the things that they said they were gonna do. And so it becomes another thing on my job list to do. Or people say, I can’t take four hours out to talk about, that’s, well, you know, you don’t have to, there are ways we can, we can keep communicated if we are committed to this community.

[00:41:39] Rachel: And so there are a couple of yes buts I’ve got here, Anne, for, for people working in healthcare. Yeah, a lot of the time we are not in these static teams, so we’re not in like a team of five or six people where we always work together. We are seeing the same people. Often you’ve got juniors rotating around, you’ve got different people on shifts, often you’re a team of 200 and you never quite know who you are with.

[00:42:01] Anne: I think that’s gonna be the nature of our world. People moving around all the time. So it’s okay that you’re not in a, in a static team. Where you can ring fence a team and journey with a specific team, that’s great. And obviously, uh, you can go really deep and pinpoint things. That’s a different scenario.

[00:42:19] But in these, fluid, more fluid teams, I actually think it’s even more necessary because you’re dealing with more unknowns, more of the time. It’s not easy to have a team charter or to boundary around how we, what is our agreed way of working. You just can’t do those things. So what happens then is actually dealing with the trauma or these microaggressions are even more important.

[00:42:47] And so naming things in the moment, having times, even if it’s at the, I mean, I know the handovers and shifts things, you know, for those that are working on shifts. But I, I’ve even been seeing people just do short trauma exercises, somatic exercises, just before together. Like let’s, you can almost even together do a breathing exercise, you know.

[00:43:11] I’ve got this habit of going on a silent retreat. Uh, or I say habit, I’ve only done it twice. It’s a new habit. And what I’m amazed by, I am arriving into a space where people I know nothing about. And at the end, and I’m not saying we, we spend weekends together, but I feel deeply connected to those people. More deeply connected to them in a space of like 72 hours over a weekend of not talking to them and just being in their presence. Um, my empathy, my understanding of who they are as people is even higher. Now, how does that work? We haven’t even exchanged a word.

[00:43:48] So what we are doing in these float teams, we, we are actually, we we are talking about it as the ways of wisdom. And when we are in these very high cortisol, uh, situations, how do we allow for wisdom to emerge? And there are simple things that we do. There is the talking part of it, but sometimes we’ll get into a room and we’ll just do an exercise that has no talking and it just regulates everybody’s nervous systems and off they go.

[00:44:15] So there are simple things like that. And there, there are ways if everybody is committed to the mission, And I almost say to people that aren’t, rather not come, don’t come, um, it’s okay because their deselection of not arriving, um, says a whole lot too about where they might be at. And not in a judgmental way, just that they’re just, they’re not there right now.

[00:44:36] And I, and I, I do think that despite fluid teams, there are always going to be systemic themes in any institution, in any organization. And there it is someone’s responsibility, not in a shameful way, is just to be looking at what these themes are, and actually putting a narrative to all of their people around these themes, and even that is just useful. These are the themes of the month. This is what we’re seeing, this is what we acknowledge.

[00:45:05] Uh, a a colleague of mine, um, talks about it as the triple A connection. And he, we, he just talks about what do we need to acknowledge, um, what do we need to accept, and how do we need to act? And even just doing that every day, acknowledge, accept, act, is great just for, really regulating ourselves before we, we start working. ’cause then that’s the naming, right?

[00:45:28] Rachel: Thinking about my, you know, GP colleagues, their idea of success is doing a really good job with patients, you know, meeting their needs, being a great doctor. But their actual, everything that everybody else judges them on and thing that actually pays the bill is access. Seeing as many patients as possible is, is, is getting through stuff. So what do you do when your internal success drivers do not match the performance indicators for your organization?

[00:45:56] Anne: So what you’re talking about there is success for Dr. Ann or, you know, for Anne could be, I need to see as many patients as as possible. Actually, no, I’m talking about, uh, I wanna be a good doctor and therefore I see people. But actually that’s not, we have an interrogated success. So I think people have attached success to a title or a position or a good doctor. You already are that. Um, what makes a good doctor seen X amount of, um, patients? How are you constructing what a good medical professional is? What will we really need to interrogate what sacred success is? I think being a, let’s go with a good doctor is not success. It’s a ticket to the game.

[00:46:39] People go and eat into a re in a restaurant because the food is good and the chef knows how to make food and he’s been trained, that is a ticket to the game. I know most people would argue that, well, it’s not always like that. The success is the stuff that is really important that’s on top, top of that. So who are the stakeholders in my life if I wanna be a good doctor? What will that give me? Why is that important to me? What am I hoping to achieve by that? Um, in this season of my life where my family is, what are the sacrifices or what are the trade offs that I am going to name, that I’m really making? Where are my trip ups within my, um, success, sacred success, uh, definition that I really need to, to work on?

[00:47:27] So I think people haven’t interrogated what success is. They know what performance feels like and looks like, and they’ve had a false sense of, oh, that feels good, but it’s not sustainable. And so if we don’t really interrogate success, we land up with what I call unsustainable or non enduring performance, which is where we’re at right now in the world. The level of performance is just not sustainable. And then to add fuel to the fire, and, and we talk about high performance all the time, and so that just feels very scary and like, oh, I’ve gotta be, again, I think that a performing, well, high performance, it’s a ticket to the game, but we need to deconstruct how. We need to redefine success so that we can have a different route to performance.

[00:48:11] I’m gonna say something risky here, but I I, I really think that even beyond leaders of teams, anyone that is in the people space or in a CEO space or an MD space, I, I don’t see anybody in the world right now that should not be doing, if you’re leading any kind of system, your own deep work. Because if we, it’s a real belief of mine. If we really wanna be successful and if we really wanna do good in the world, I’m talking to people that really believe that business is a force for good, and I’m not talking about not making money and I’m not talking about being unprofitable. Um, I don’t equate those two as the same thing, have to be, I don’t think it’s a choice anymore, if you are really wanting to do good in the world to not be really interrogating. Um, and again, that’s a harsh word and I don’t mean it in a harsh way, but really giving time to the thing that you say matters.

[00:49:09] And anyone that’s not, and it doesn’t have to be a coach, it could be ex whatever your thing is, I really question them. I say like, do you really care or are you just in this for the money or for the tick box? Because that sounds transactional, not transformational.

[00:49:24] Rachel: So I wonder if, and I was confusing in my question, job satisfaction with with success because people would say, well, you know, just plowing through 20 patients, 30 patients in the morning, that’s really hard and I don’t get the job satisfaction of feeling like I’ve done a good job. That isn’t success. Success is actually something much deeper about, you know, being, being aligned, working out that I’ve been able to do something to the best of my ability, being the best human being that I could, even if I’m not necessarily being able to see patients or do my work in exactly the way that I would be choosing to, where all the styles aligned correctly, and and, and stuff like that. Am I, am I right in thinking that, because I’m just getting a bit confused between job satisfaction, performance, success, when so much just feels to be out of our control?

[00:50:16] Anne: So let’s say I, uh, wanna be a good doctor and I want my family to understand what that means, but I still wanna be a good family person and whatever. And it’s important to me because. We start with saying if that is true, what are the capabilities that you really need to build? And go and check that with people that you work with. Like, so that’s just like an honest review, and then knowing what the capabilities are I need to build. And by the way, those aren’t just capabilities around job function, they’re also knowing how to release, knowing how to, whatever it might be.

[00:50:51] Then we look at relevance, like, how relevant is this thing that I’m doing and where is the life force around it? And then performance. So that’s one part of it. So success is kind of deeply personal for the person and for the organization.

[00:51:07] Performance is the things that need to happen in order to get us to our ambition, which is the success piece. Um, ’cause really that’s what success is. It’s like, what is my ambition and why is it that, and how, what is my ambition for my whole world, not just this one segment. So anyone that says, I just wanna be a good doctor, I want, I’m like, you’re much more than a doctor. You, you’re, you’re a doctor, you’re a dad, you’re a mom, you’re a sister, you’re a father, you know, whatever it is. So let’s look at success a little bit broadly. Then we’ll look at the organization success. Okay, let’s look at that. Then we look at performance, which are the things you have to do, and there’s a certain code for that performance. So we’ll say in this season right now, these are the six things that are really important for, for you to do.

[00:51:54] And then comes job satisfaction. Because what’s gonna happen then is we are gonna stop tying these two things together to say, where do your gifts really lie? And are you in flow with your gifts here from what we need to to be doing? Because normally that’s where the job satisfaction rub is. I’m doing things that aren’t in tune with my own gifts. And so it just feels like discipline all the time.

[00:52:16] But we look at things like, um, job satisfaction if it’s not aligning, ’cause I think that’s what you’re alluding to or what happens when job satisfaction doesn’t align with the company’s values? And that is true. It does happen, is I think it’s a choice. And that’s the one thing that we do have all the time is choice. So it’s a choice around are these conversations I need to be having? And I would always say yes. The second thing is, is the sustainable for me? And, is there anything that, for me in these values, feels unattainable? Like it really, it, it clashes with my own personal values? And if not, then there’s some decisions to be made. I’m gonna do this for X amount of time. I’m doing it to get to my success route. So this is going to give me something that’s gonna help me and I know it’s the sacrifice.

[00:53:06] Or actually my values don’t align at all. And you know that intuitively, really quickly. The challenge comes in, Rachel, is people get confused between when something doesn’t align with their values and their own personal state. Confusing things around, um, values. ’cause we don’t read things properly when we’re not in a, in a good, um, state

[00:53:28] . So job satisfaction I think is very different to performance. We see people performing really well, but really not being satisfied, um, in their roles. And that will run out of itself. So if you’re not satisfied year on year on year, but you’re performing well, you’re heading for an unpleasant time.

[00:53:46] Rachel: So you are saying that we really need to work out the difference between, am I not performing, am I miserable because I’m a bit burnt out, or I’m exhausted or tired in my state I’m, my nervous system is, you know, on, on high alert all the time. Versus this role is really not suiting me because it’s a fundamental clash with what is really, really important to me. And there’s a difference between those two, but we find it very hard to tell the difference.

[00:54:12] Anne: A hundred percent. And then on top of it, we feel like we’ve been judged because we’ve got all these metrics, so we keep going. So if we could remove some of the judgment and have braver conversations with the people we need to be having brave conversations, um, with, and I know that that’s tricky because everybody’s running and trying to get through things, but if your job satisfaction isn’t where it needs to be and you are aware of your state, then you need to be reevaluating. If your job satisfaction isn’t where it needs to be and you’re not aware of your state or you’re just not coping, I would say just make no decisions for a while, but attend to yourself, not forever. ’cause you can’t stay like that.

[00:54:57] Rachel: So if someone isn’t sure whether it’s their state or their values, how do they tell the difference?

[00:55:02] Anne: I would get them to, first of all, just what, what is important to you? And it’s amazing when people start saying, uh, these are my values. To be honest. What I often find is, is that there is value alignment. Um, it’s not radically different. The expression of those values is where the challenge lies.

[00:55:27] And to be honest, Rachel, often what I’ll do with someone is I’ll ask them about their values. And what we find is the values normally, not always, but typically aren’t very different. And it’s not a very value, a very big value clash. And if there is, it’s really obvious it’s some kind of misconduct or, you know, something really terrible and it’s easy. Uh, but the values normally are aligned or there’s enough alignment, but it’s the expression of those values that are different.

[00:55:56] So I think we also talk about values a lot. Um, I believe in kindness. You believe in kindness. My type of way to do kindness is to speak the harsh truth, straight up, but that for you, uh, because your mom spoke to you the harsh truth when you were young might be confronting to you.

[00:56:14] So it is learning how we work and express our values. Not that everybody has got to, um, placate to the way you specifically do things, but it is hopeful to be able to, to say, hang on, the values are the same. Yeah, we are expressing them differently. Where do I need to shift a bit?

[00:56:35] And I’m not saying that because you can’t control what anyone else needs to do. So you may need to say, I just actually need to be working on my response to this and I can shift a little bit to the left. But that’s a process. And so my advice would be, let’s look at your values, let’s look at the company. Oh, they’re not that different. So where, name, where that, um, clash is and then craft.

[00:56:57] And I say craft deliberately here, because I think that there needs to be a set of deliberate practices that are crafted. When I am spoken to like that, I can respond in this way. It’s okay. Um, I can ask for what I need. It’s okay. I can say no, it’s okay.

[00:57:17] Rachel: I love that. I also love that you were used the word craft. ’cause I think that’s one of my favorite words at the moment, particularly in sort of the career crafting where where we do, when we’re in a bad state, we just tend to throw the baby out with the bath water, don’t we? And that’s it. I’ve gotta leave, I’ve gotta just stop it. Whereas can, how can you craft your day? How can you craft what you are doing that is going to align more with your values and, and what you want to do?

[00:57:38] This whole conversation has been really fascinating to me. If you had sort of three top tips for people, um, in terms of helping them with the performance, their own sort of sacred success, what would it be on, on an individual level?

[00:57:55] Anne: My first would be be brave about naming your state. No one else’s. Not they are, I wish they were, just name your state.

[00:58:05] My second tip would be ask yourself regularly, what is my body saying to me? What is my story? That would be the third one. So if my body could talk, what would it be saying to me? Like, what is it? And then, listen. My body is asking for nourishment. You know what? I’m not gonna grab that sandwich at lunch, I’m actually gonna take the extra walk. and so just like, what is your body really, um, asking from You in this, in this moment? And you may not be able to give it to it in that moment, but you can park it.

[00:58:37] My third tip is, uh, schedule a time to worry. So often we worry and we worry and we Worry and it like runs around in our, in our head. To say, you know what? Between three and four, I’m going to schedule my worry time. Or tonight when I get home, I’m gonna go for a run and that’s gonna be my worry time or just schedule it in because you can actually worry and it’s okay. I don’t think we should be saying, oh, we must not worry. We must not worry. You know, that’s not helpful in any way, uh, because that actually links to tip one, which is name in your state.

[00:59:05] And then the, um, fourth one is to, to really have the conversations that you need to have with yourself, with the people around you. So I said be 5% braver or more courageous in the conversations that you need to have. respectfully,

[00:59:22] My, my other one would be actually, look, look at your trauma with curiosity, not with judgment. So, oh, that’s interesting. Where does that come from? Have I always been like that? Um, why, when someone talks to me in that way, does it bring up all these feelings? Where does that, where does it sit in me?

[00:59:40] This is the last one. Life can actually be joyful, even in the really tough times. I, I, I call it my ajoro. You can have great joy and great sorrow at the same time, and life really is both and and. And just embrace that rather than try and put them all in the neat boxes.

[00:59:59] Rachel: That whole thing about being 5% braver in the conversations that you have, I’m, I’m trying to be braver in the conversations I have, and I can genuinely say that I have never, ever regretted having a braver conversation. It’s always resulted in better relationships. Um. Better team coherence, better understanding. So I, I’m really trying to do that at the moment.

[01:00:21] And I’d also say to listeners, you know, this whole look at your trauma thing, I think particularly in the uk we are very, very, um, reluctant to, to get help, seek therapists, have the counseling, have the coaching that we need to. And, um, I, it is been transformational for me and I would just encourage anybody who, who can access it that thinks they do have some stuff underneath that need, need to uncover to, to go and get some help. It, it can be totally life changing.

[01:00:49] So, thank you so much for giving up your, your time and your wisdom to us today. If people wanna get hold of you or Find out more about your work, where can they find you?

[01:00:58] Anne: Thank you. The best way to get hold of me is, um, Anne at lockstep, L O C K S T E P, lockstep.global is my email address, or you can find me on LinkedIn, um, Anne Hartslief, those are the, the two best channels and I would love to hear from anyone.

[01:01:18] Rachel: That’s wonderful, Anne. Thank you so much. We’re gonna have to have you. back another time to explore this more. And if anyone’s got any questions or, or ideas for, for different topics, then um, please do just, just contact us. hello@youarenotafrog.com, and let us know, ’cause I think there’s, there’s so much more we can delve into this. So thank you so much for chatting to me and have a good rest of day.

[01:01:37] Anne: Thank you.

[01:01:39] Rachel: Thanks for listening. Don’t forget, we provide a self coaching CPD workbook for every episode. You can sign up for it via the link in the show notes. And if this episode was helpful, then please share it with a friend. Get in touch with any comments or suggestions at hello@youarenotafrog.com. I love to hear from you. And finally, if you’re enjoying the podcast, please rate it and leave a review wherever you’re listening. It really helps. Bye for now.