State of Young Black New York (SOYBNY), an event sponsored by the New York Urban League Young Professionals (NYULP) was earlier this month, yet I am still reeling from the wealth of wisdom and positivity that keynote speaker Mrs. Michelle Gadsden-Williams, Managing Director & Global Head of Diversity & Inclusion at Credit Suisse AG, shared with us.
Her personal story of resilience and triumph over lupus forced me to deeply examine my own personal and professional visions. Through candor, vulnerability, and reflection, she opened up about the insights she gained about health, priorities, and balance as she fought this chronic autoimmune disorder for her life.
In your pursuit to take over the world and get to the top, don’t forget to take your wellness with you.
1. Take care of your health because if you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything.
Mrs. Gadsden-Williams spoke of ignoring the symptoms of lupus for years before getting herself checked and admits that it was sheer stupidity that kept her from listening to her body. She has since ensured that she listen to her body and her spirit.
As hungry, ambitious, and driven young professionals, we sometimes trick (delude) ourselves into thinking that we are invincible and, as a result, often take our health for granted in pursuit of career advancement. And in many cases, we are handsomely rewarded with promotions, recognitions, and salary steps, so we take bigger and more costly risks with our health.
2. If you can’t do it yourself, don’t be afraid to get help.
There came a point in Mrs. Gadsden-Williams’ life when she knew that she needed a change. Her work schedule was jam-packed; she was working close to twenty-four hours a day, but she couldn’t stop. She had become accustomed to living in overdrive and despite her lifestyle’s detriment to her wellness, she did not know where to begin to scale back. That is when she called AJ Johnson, a fitness and wellness coach, to help her strategically plan and prioritize her commitments. Likewise, we need to remember that we don’t have to do it alone—whether it be a life coach, mentor, therapist, or confidante, we need to have people in our corner that will help us lead more balanced and centered lives.
3. Use your vacation time strategically.
Mrs. Gadsden-Williams is now healthy, energetic and fully in tune with life and her passions. While she did not give her exact age, she jokingly admitted that she was closer to fifty than she was to forty. In order for us to be as confident, engaged, and optimistic about the future after thirty years in our fields, we need to commit to a philosophy of personal self-care. Don’t be a hero. Use your vacation time wisely, not only to rejuvenate, but also to connect with your family and to schedule your doctors’ visits.
Mrs. Gadsden-Williams eloquently reaffirmed the old saying, “your health is your wealth” during her keynote speech. And in doing so, she has given many of us gentle reminders if not permission, to do the same.
[info_box type=”alert_box”]If you want to practice self-care, you have to care for your finances. My book, The Happy Finances Challenge, is designed to help you learn to make money decisions that will lead to long-term financial happiness in just 42 days. [/info_box]