Labber Spotlight | October 2018
4 min. read
IT Healthcare Executive
“Women’s Leadership Lab left me with such an altered view of life and relationships — both professional and personal.”
After that first experience in 2014, DeMano was determined to maintain the mojo she tapped into during the Lab in her real life: “You really have to practice it, she explains. “The further away you from it, the more you tend to forget. But when you’re in it, you’re just continually thinking about it and thinking: ‘oh, I’m feeling this way about this person because that’s more about me.”
That makes sense. Everyday demands can often nudge out more important, long-term goals. And when we are in the heat of those moments, it is easy to fall back into old patterns and habits. DeMano understood this and made a plan to keep the Lab in her life.
“I joined a monthly circle. It was a great way to be in the same room with people who ‘get it’ and practice mindful, authentic leadership.”
During that time, she heard about how WLLab was evolving to include iterative learning from past sessions and incorporate the latest best practices around unconscious bias. Plus: “That balance of (all three WLL co-founders) Rima, Shellie and Cynthia was something I just couldn’t pass up.” So when the opportunity to take the enhanced Lab opened up in 2018, DeMano said “Yep, doing that again!”
In the second of our two-part conversation, we talk to DeMano about how her latest Lab experience took a personal turn.
You mentioned that you had a rather profound breakthrough related to you personal life this second time around. Can you tell us about that?
It was during an early Lab exercise on projection. I was still thinking about a moment over the previous weekend where I had become aggravated when my husband said: “Oh, you should go to the grocery store and then work out”…blah, blah, blah. It felt like he was trying to tell me what to do and I remember thinking: “You’re not the boss of me.”
And you used that situation as your ‘projection moment’?
Yes. He’s not naturally a controlling human being. I knew that. So I turned all of that over to myself. I still remember where and how I was sitting when it hit me: “Oh wow, I don’t have control of my own life.”
I was living something of a double life — in full control at work but living passively at home, without real input. With three small kids, I wasn’t taking any time for myself and found myself at the heaviest I’d ever been.
That breakthrough was a real earth-shaker for me. Now I take an hour out of the day — every single day of my life — to work out, have free space in my head or just do something for myself. I even set my Apple® watch to remind me to breathe. I just keep reaching and exploring it further. Since then, I’ve lost 63 pounds.
These practices have really made a huge change in my life and it’s a direct outcome of my work in the Lab.
What’s been the response to this behavioral shift, this ‘taking control’?
My husband is so excited that I’m now asking for what I need and taking charge of my own life and happiness. He knew that was my potential but I hadn’t been doing it. He’s been nothing but supportive.
On the work front, they are seeing me thin out. Every week someone is asking me: “How are you doing it?” They are seeking inspiration. I see myself in them. For the last 20 years, I’d been seeking my own inspiration to motivate myself to do the two simple things that drive weight loss: eat less and move more.
We all know how to do it, but we lack that one hook to make the actual change. Without it, we spiral on with all our excuses of why it’s too hard to find the time to workout or justify eating that cheeseburger.
So usually I tell them what I’m actually doing (eating less and moving more). But when I have someone who I think might actually have time to understand HOW I’m motivating myself, I tell my whole story: The simple truth that I came to realize in the Lab that I didn’t have control over my own life. I kind of characterize it as ‘once you know something about yourself, you cannot un-know it.’
What have you found most valuable on your journey to Authentic Leadership?
Women’s Leadership Lab helped me bring more balance to my life. And the end result is a feeling of authenticity across the ways I show up at work, at home, with family, friends and co-workers. I’ve never felt more in control. It’s a process and I have to program reminders for myself, but it’s nothing short of life changing, this ‘knowing’.
We asked Amanda DeMano what else she would like women who might be considering Women’s Leadership Lab to know about the experience.
She talked about the benefits of its diversity.
“The Lab includes a seemingly random mix of women who I would probably not have encountered in my life, otherwise. It was a wide range of ages, occupation, experience levels and lifestyles. I think having so much diversity in the room helps expand the conversation beyond the surface level and gets to the heart of understanding our judgments about others. When you are in the position to hear from people who are not like you, I think the outcomes are deeper.
My biggest a-ha’s came from others in the Lab making a point so perfectly that I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, that’s me!’ Just having someone so different speak a truth allowed me to see myself more clearly. It disarmed the negative and showed me my blind spots.”
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