Turning 40, Your Life Story, Somatic Coaching, Emotional Leaks, Burnout (Ep 07 Charles Sue-Wah-Sing)
How do you rewrite your entire life's story? How can you stop emotional leakages and avoid burnout? Why is "assignment of responsibility" far better than delegation? In this episode of We Interview Coaches I had a lively conversation with Coach Charles Sue-Wah-Sing about:
Turning 40 and rewriting your life's story
Getting past "I don't have the time" and the nonsense of "getting ahead"
Balance, resilience, and leadership
Domestic romance in a pandemic, and lessons learned from our parents
Fully accepting what's in front of you
Charles is one of my favourite people, who I met through the evolutionary men's group, The Universal Brotherhood, and he had a lot of wisdom to share. Watch the video, or read the transcript below. Enjoy! -MP
*** The transcript that follows will contain errors because it was generated by an AI... ***
00:00:02 Mike Pietrzak: Hey everyone, I'm Coach Mike Pietrzak and I'm a mission to help you become your potential. Today I'm in conversation with certified leadership and life coach Charles Sue-Wah-Sing. He helps entrepreneurs, individuals, couples and teams find more fulfillment, joy, and aliveness. I think that's something that's in short supply in too many lives these days. Charles, you and I met through our evolutionary men's group, The Universal Brotherhood, and I'm going to embarrass you little bit by saying that I think you're a great example of the group's core tenets of integrity, compassion, wisdom. It's great to reconnect with you, Charles, and thanks for joining me.
00:00:35 Charles Sue-Wah-Sing: Thank you for having me good to see you again.
00:00:38 Mike Pietrzak: Yes, and why don't I start with the question about age, because it's on my mind. I'm turning 40 in December and you have a story on your website about turning 40 and when you did that, you ask yourself: is this it? You know, I'm asking myself a lot of these reflective type of questions. Give me advice for people who are reaching these birthdays with zero at the end?
00:01:01 Charles Sue-Wah-Sing: Do I have advice? I don't I don't know if I have a specific advice, but you know it's a beautiful thing about that. Zero is for some people it could be a new beginning, it could be another, a demarcation of chapter, maybe right. So when I took when I got to 40, I really took an audit of where I was in my life and realized there were certain parts of my life and was not happy. And I wasn't fulfilled in. And what did I want the next ten years of my life to look like? Right. So I think I think imagining and questioning. I think that's just everybody should be doing it. I think you should always be doing it, but I think there's there's that. Yeah, when you have that milestone hitch it's like, but did I feel?
00:01:58 Mike Pietrzak: Reflect and make some changes, and so how do you know? How was this this realization?
00:02:06 Charles Sue-Wah-Sing: I'm 51 now, so that was a couple of zero.
00:02:10 Mike Pietrzak: And I assume that that having that conversation with yourself was led to some amazing changes in your life in realization.
00:02:17 Charles Sue-Wah-Sing: Yeah, wonderful! Yeah, yeah, now I changed my career path and changed my relationship with my, with my friends and my family, changed my perspective of marriage, my relationship with my kids. Yeah, I really did a lot of work at 40, I would say at 51. Now most of it has worked out pretty good.
00:02:44 Mike Pietrzak: Great-great I love to hear that, and you know I also noticed that much of your coaching work is about helping your clients rewrite their life story. What sort of clients come to you and what sort of stories do you help them to write?
00:02:59 Charles Sue-Wah-Sing: Well, you know it's funny because I've been coaching them nearly eight and nine years now and I would say my clients have evolved or changed or shifted. I don't know if, because of my energy, maybe where I am in life and they come to me or whatever, but most of them have. They come because they, you know they have a work challenge or life challenge or something like that. You know they might have been promoted to a new job which is going to be more demanding, or they're starting a business and they're not sure how to navigate that. Or they they've hit a milestone in their relationship and you know they want to spur some more fulfilment or inspiration. And that too.
But what we discover in the coaching is that what they're asking for is only a portion of what they're going to get out of coaching, and that's that's the surprise part. That's the man. Well, what we packed unpacked in our coaching work is the stories that they have about who they are and what success looks like and what love looks like, what fulfilment looks like and what not, and what they discover in that is that the story that they've been living in actually the story that they don't want.
What I mean is by story, I mean their perspective of their world, their perspective of work, their perspective of relationships, their perspectives of money and even of self. Am I strong enough? I'm smart enough. Am I in? You know, you know, and so when they discover the stories that they tell themselves about who they are and how they're being, they realize that's not the way I want to be.
00:04:45 Mike Pietrzak: Yeah, yeah, I think I understand with my own life, as, as an example, you know there was a time when I graduated university and politics would be my life. I went to work for, you know, provincial government, for friend and a couple of MPS and ministers, and.
00:05:01 Charles Sue-Wah-Sing: And I thought that was my life.
00:05:03 Mike Pietrzak: And I got to the point where I was not very happy. You know, the job became a lot more about more about getting reelected and doing good policy work, and again to a point in my life where that story wasn't serving any more. So I totally understand.
00:05:15 Charles Sue-Wah-Sing: Yeah!
00:05:17 Mike Pietrzak: Seem to have this innate nature or like some kind of receptivity to stories. You know it's something that that crosses cultures and time and what was going on there. Why are stories so powerful for for people and for your clients?
Ready to rewrite your story? Book a free 1-hour coaching deep dive with me.
00:05:32 Charles Sue-Wah-Sing: I think stories: understanding the stories, one understanding the stories that we inherited it. As most of our stories we inherited, we learned them from our family, we learn them from our teachers or coaches. If we're doing sports or whatever our mentors, we inherited culturally. We inherited these stories and you know they're they're powerful in the sense that they can keep us moving, they can keep us focused, they can keep us motivated, they can keep us in our lane, but there's a time where you have to be conscious of the story that you tell yourself and whether or not that's really the story that you want to live in.
00:06:07 Mike Pietrzak: Yeah!
00:06:08 Charles Sue-Wah-Sing: So, for instance, you know I work with right now. Most of my clients, I would say, are emerging black leaders, and the story that they have about themselves as being black, maybe African-Americans is that they have to work harder than everybody else.
00:06:24 Mike Pietrzak: Right.
00:06:25 Charles Sue-Wah-Sing: To get ahead, well, that's not really a life fulfilling story.
00:06:32 Mike Pietrzak: Setting up a barrier.
00:06:35 Charles Sue-Wah-Sing: And it's great stress. It creates anxiety. It leaves to burn out. They never know if they belong anywhere, and what not. So the work, then, is: what story do you want to have that's empowering you.
00:06:50 Mike Pietrzak: It happen!
00:06:51 Charles Sue-Wah-Sing: Right could work, but take the comparison out. You don't have to work harder than everybody else.
00:06:58 Mike Pietrzak: Yeah, right, so what kind of exercises are tools they use to help people rewrite these stories?
00:07:06 Charles Sue-Wah-Sing: Well, get them one to get aware of the story that they're living in right now. I get them to embody that story, to help them feel that story, the impact that the story has on them physically, emotionally, spiritually. So we're not thinking it through, all right, but we're actually experiencing the story. So I use what's called somatic coaching, which really gets into the embodying, because we embody because we have. If we believe a story to be true and we're running up against that story and the limiting story, guess what. We're going to feel anxious. We're going to feel fearful, we're going to feel insecure, but those are our bodily feelings, those are emotional feelings. All right, we can't just think our way out of them.
So I use your body to give you some intelligence. How are you being right now and how do you want to feel? How do you want to show up? So we go and say: well, in your body, what does environment feel like? What does strength feel like? What does courage feel like? What does security feel like? And then you can start reshaping the belief that these stories have, you know, have had on you into a new story, and then from there we can get into resetting your values, getting to the core of what's important to you. What kind of impact do you want to make in your world for your people at work, for your people at home, for you personally? Where do you want to be a contribution like we? You start really getting conscious now.
00:08:34 Mike Pietrzak: Just as an intellectual exercise, but actually feel it.
00:08:38 Charles Sue-Wah-Sing: Embodied because if it doesn't feel resonant within you, then it's not right for you.
00:08:44 Mike Pietrzak: Mine is.
00:08:46 Charles Sue-Wah-Sing: Matsadi.
00:08:48 Mike Pietrzak: This, this is sounding very familiar and almost almost similar to meditation, in a way that you can use, whereas the body, to become more aware of the thoughts happening, your mind, situations in your life, that up from there.
00:09:04 Charles Sue-Wah-Sing: Station meditation meditation is a means to somatic.
00:09:08 Mike Pietrzak: All right.
00:09:09 Charles Sue-Wah-Sing: Meditation. I would employ mindfulness training, meditation, any kind of that kind of practice, to get tuned into your experience in the moment right. So absolutely anything that gets you out of your thinking head, into your, the other intelligence that you contain. So, yeah, meditation, journaling, you know, quiet walks, time for yourself, time with other people and just noticing what's arising within you, Charles, you are speaking.
00:09:45 Mike Pietrzak: Language, all the things you're listed are like the things that I crave and the things that are. They have become a little bit more difficult with. With, as a parent right you, you've got less time to to go and have that solitude. Go for a walk. But when I did go for a walk this past Saturday it was incredible. It's only two hours away from the house, but I found this an amazing nature trail and it's incredible how quickly I snap back into that like appreciation, spiritual awareness, almost, and I think a lot of people miss out on that when they're just chasing things.
00:10:18 Charles Sue-Wah-Sing: Well, see, that's see, yeah, and you mentioned quite a few things about just feeling like you don't have enough time.
00:10:24 Mike Pietrzak: What?
00:10:25 Charles Sue-Wah-Sing: Look when you're tuned into that emotional energy that you carry day today and you realize actually how much energy you waste and burn off.
00:10:34 Mike Pietrzak: Yes.
00:10:35 Charles Sue-Wah-Sing: Fixated on next thing and then you get grounded and you practice on being grounded. You realize that you save so much more energy.
00:10:45 Mike Pietrzak: I believe it.
00:10:46 Charles Sue-Wah-Sing: Right that you can't take it, then you can tackle on anything right. Some would call this building basilians. So the more time you actually take care of yourself, the more time you have more energy you have available to you to do all the other things, including looking after your child.
00:11:05 Mike Pietrzak: Yes, I've noticed that you know, unfortunately spend a little bit of time in any given week feeling like I just can't can't get to it today. I can't work right now. I got it just now. Take some time and go go for a walk again, and maybe that's the right thing to do. You know, I realized that pushing is not is not very effective strategy.
00:11:28 Charles Sue-Wah-Sing: Even just even just listening to the language that you have and everybody does this. Oh, I don't have enough time or I can't do this right now. Those are the stories I'm talking about.
00:11:37 Mike Pietrzak: I love that, love that! So!
00:11:40 Charles Sue-Wah-Sing: Imagine if you did have the time, even if it's five or ten or 15 minutes right, instead of banging on Netflix or you too, or whatever, go meditate.
00:11:52 Mike Pietrzak: Absolutely.
00:11:53 Charles Sue-Wah-Sing: Go right a passage in your journal. It's not that you don't have it, it's just that you're not aware of the time that you do have.
00:11:59 Mike Pietrzak: That's that's really great point and I think a lot of people will will be able to change life significantly. They just start flying a little bit. That you had another example of this: the power of this. I teach a couple of courses at Fanshawe College and my brother teaches at Lambton college. So I was on the phone with him the other day and we're talking about how it's going to start of the semester's document. How much more than he has and how much more I have. I'm saying: look, I just stick at me forever because I'm making on these notes for students and what not, and he gave me some. Some. You know, strategy to just do it quicker. And now did you know, I've probably marked as many papers today between hours as I did in the last two weeks. So it just a matter of the frame differently. Not seeing the task was so overwhelming and daunting sometimes.
00:12:45 Charles Sue-Wah-Sing: Yeah, yeah, there's there's where your energy when you see those, when you have that.
00:12:52 Mike Pietrzak: Those words.
00:12:53 Charles Sue-Wah-Sing: Emotions, or whatever they say, okay, this is going to. This is overwhelming me, this daunting. This is too much. I should be doing something else. Those are all what I call our emotional leakages.
00:13:04 Mike Pietrzak: Can you elaborate on that?
00:13:07 Charles Sue-Wah-Sing: There's there's words, there's languages that we use that that could serve us and empower us. We can be reminded of our core values and that would bring aliveness in us, even when there's challenges. And then there's language that we use that just suck the living life out of you.
00:13:24 Mike Pietrzak: Absolutely.
00:13:25 Charles Sue-Wah-Sing: So what if they should? I could be doing this, or you know this is enough for me to do. Why am I held responsible for this? All right? So when we're in that language, there's an emotion that comes with it. It's not emotional freight, and when we're in that emotion or that way of being, it could either suck the life out of you, in which slows you right down and everything becomes harder right, or it can empower you, in which that thing you could spend countless hours doing it and you would be full of life. You're you're thriving, you are, you know you're running on also, and at the end of it you feel like accomplished.
00:14:08 Mike Pietrzak: One right, I think we've all had those experiences where just floats and you have worked 14 hours in the day that you feel just so not empty but but filled up.
00:14:20 Charles Sue-Wah-Sing: Yeah, you feel okay. I accomplished it, I got what I needed to get done and I feel good about it.
00:14:26 Mike Pietrzak: Great!
00:14:27 Charles Sue-Wah-Sing: Right verses! I didn't get through my entire list, I got carried over to the next day and I'm never getting ahead.
00:14:35 Mike Pietrzak: Yeah, that idea of getting ahead just drives me crazy. It's getting what are the people of? Don't know what I mean. You have to set an arbitrary, most of the time, goal for yourself. What is this getting ahead? I mean what. What is this epidemic of getting ahead?
00:14:52 Charles Sue-Wah-Sing: I have no idea. I have no idea what, yeah, what does getting ahead mean? Meaning that there's no work left. Well here. Getting getting ahead means I've accomplished my entire to do this and there's no more work left. Here's a solution: quit.
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00:15:10 Mike Pietrzak: Take a break and break to back it. A wonderful saying on this is that when you die, your box will never be empty. Always, when you die, your box will always have something.
00:15:26 Charles Sue-Wah-Sing: There you go.
00:15:27 Mike Pietrzak: There's always more coming in, you know, and and if you're doing life right, of course you don't have any lack of opportunities. So I don't quite understand in getting ahead thing, but well, you know.
00:15:36 Charles Sue-Wah-Sing: No, but that you know again we have a story about what that means. Right and you know it could be. It could be, and when I hear that story particularly I can never get ahead. All right. What's the emotion that comes with it? What's the that comes with it? All right, that will never happen. It will never occur right. It's futile. And the emotion frustration, disappointment, anger, resentment. So why carry that along?
00:16:06 Mike Pietrzak: It's not helpful. You're right. You'd be much more productive if you perhaps. Well, obviously you change your stories, but maybe slowdown as well. Yeah, yeah, all those good things take us in a slightly different direction. So I noted that your, your business lad, is a tree.
00:16:22 Charles Sue-Wah-Sing: One.
00:16:23 Mike Pietrzak: That was fastening. What's in significance there sure does story.
00:16:28 Charles Sue-Wah-Sing: So I'll I'll tell you the origin story for it and I'll break it down. Is that is that cool?
00:16:36 Mike Pietrzak: Please.
00:16:37 Charles Sue-Wah-Sing: All right, so I did. I did a meditation retreat one time personal journey in on on the edge of a friend's property and I sat under a tree. Literally the whole kind of Buddha Gotama thing story right, just to meditate, just to be with myself, not to achieve any kind of crazy enlightenment or what not, but really just get tuned in who I was being, and this was around my 40th year right and just take an out out of my life right. Who was being how I was showing up my career and everything like this. All right, and that gave me a lot of sense of purpose, is going to give me a renewed sense of purpose. All right, and when I decided to rebrand myself a few years ago I went back to that. That idea of tree as being one that is that symbol for me that inspires growth, it inspires connection, it gives me a sense of wholeness, that I'm connected to all things and there's a sustainability. It comes with trees right.
So when I break it down, you know the roots of a tree connects me to everything, correct connects me to my inner wisdom, connect me to my ancestry, connects me to earth, community and what not my trunk. If I look at the trunk, it sort of gives me structure, it gives me stability, I look at my values as things that stabilize right. I go back to my belief systems. I go back to my vision. Those things stabilize me, they keep me grounded and then, when I look at branches, those are the things that the world sees right. This is me aspiring, heaving, accomplishing I'm giving back to the world as much as I'm taking in, or does my full expression of who I am, but you're in.
00:18:35 Mike Pietrzak: Hammered by the leaves you're.
00:18:37 Charles Sue-Wah-Sing: More by the branch, as your enamored by the flowers it has.
00:18:40 Mike Pietrzak: Right.
00:18:41 Charles Sue-Wah-Sing: So that's what, that's what I want the world to see, those things.
00:18:45 Mike Pietrzak: I'm so happy I asked that question because I did not expect such a like a well-formed to answer. That's great, you know when, when, when you look at a logo, it's like well, yeah, we paid a desire to do it and just just looked good, but you actually give some real thought to that, which is which is really.
00:19:02 Charles Sue-Wah-Sing: Yes.
00:19:05 Mike Pietrzak: Connors.
00:19:07 Charles Sue-Wah-Sing: This.
00:19:08 Mike Pietrzak: Some started several businesses over the last two decades. I've been very lucky to work in some great coaches to help me with my what did munches come to you seeking and what is that? You helped them do?
00:19:21 Charles Sue-Wah-Sing: Well, good question. That's also changed over time. They used to come to me for strategic planning, accountability and so forth. I think more and more now they're looking at how to balance their life while starting a business. How do they lead?
00:19:41 Mike Pietrzak: Don't organize.
00:19:42 Charles Sue-Wah-Sing: To more effectively right. It's not about the date of day stuff and it's not about planning. It's not about action plans and stuff, but it's more about. Well, I've got this thriving business now right. How do I lead this? I've got people on my staff. How do I inspire them and grow them? All right? How do I give responsibility away of something that, like I, feel deeply invested in?
00:20:09 Mike Pietrzak: Yes.
00:20:10 Charles Sue-Wah-Sing: Right, so it's very easy for another printer to feel they have to be in control of everything, and that could often lead to burn out, stress, anxiety, fear, resentment. It could lead to a lot of things like that, especially when they start building teams, and you know many of them may come and say: well, I feel like a baby sitter. Sometimes they're not getting it right. So this is about changing that narrative that they may have in your head of what it is to grow in an organization. Right there's something that's more empowering, fulfilling, inspiring, engaging and rolling. So it's working through those things.
00:20:48 Mike Pietrzak: So it's almost like you're helping them evolve from being business operator to being a business owner. You're helping them not work so much in their business, but.
00:20:57 Charles Sue-Wah-Sing: On the business, yeah, yeah, and be the leader that the business requires them to be right, like they need to be as your business involves. You need to be the face of the business right. Well then, you have to let some of the stuff that you think you're good at. You need to train people to do that stuff, so you're not doing everything.
00:21:19 Mike Pietrzak: That's true. I mean delegation is freedom in a lot of water. I mean this how.
00:21:24 Charles Sue-Wah-Sing: The word I prefer to use is not delegating, but assignment of responsibility.
00:21:29 Mike Pietrzak: What's the distinction?
00:21:32 Charles Sue-Wah-Sing: For me, the delegation has has air of giving you a task giving to do list. I'm giving you something that you need to report back to me on, whereas assigning responsibility is like, you know, say product needs a program manager. I'm assigning you the responsibility to manage this program. Now you have autonomy, now I'm assigning you autonomy. I'm signing you control. I'm assigning you accountability. All that that doesn't come without ownership, that doesn't come a delegation.
00:22:15 Mike Pietrzak: Yeah, yeah, and I think that's got to lead to much better outcomes than just having some one-act as employees on collecting paycheck and give them something that they care about and give them some ownership of it. They would start to care beyond just what. What can I? How much I get paid to do this work right?
00:22:31 Charles Sue-Wah-Sing: Check, check out, get my check, what you, what you're touching on: the ownership, their engagement goes up, their sense of responsibility to the health of your organization goes and it increases, and it's not so much to check any more now they're looking at the work as a place that they can feel fulfilled.
00:22:51 Mike Pietrzak: Yes.
00:22:52 Charles Sue-Wah-Sing: They feel accomplished. So, as an owner, that's what he should be striving for.
00:22:59 Mike Pietrzak: Absolutely, and I've heard it said, that the limit on any business is sort of the leader right. I think Shakespeare was saying this in one of his plays. If the king is corrupt, the whole nation's corrupt or something, I think it applies to business. You know, if the leader is afraid of making sales calls was going to be a problem. Sales right, things like that. How do you, how do you get another out of their own way and how do you help them to sort of step into that? That role is as leader. Give them, help them get over their stumbling blocks.
00:23:32 Charles Sue-Wah-Sing: Well, one is identifying the stories that they might be using to save charge their own success, because it is advertising their success in a way and shifting that limiting story into a more empowering belief or more empowering mindset right. So shifting that story from one that's that's disabling the sabotaging to one that's more empowering and lightens up. It creates more powerful leadership in them. So it's just getting them tuned into the language. That they're telling themselves about their relationship to their work, relationship to their employees, et cetera et cetera, especially if they think, oh no, every everything depends on me it does. That's that's that limiting belief, that's a limiting story. Everything is based on you, dependent on you. What's more empowering story? Man, look, I have qualified people to support me.
00:24:37 Mike Pietrzak: Yes.
00:24:39 Charles Sue-Wah-Sing: All right, and what does I give you? It gives you freedom, gives you choice, it gives you flexibility, agility, it gives you space. All right, then, let's lean into that new way of being and give the work to somebody else.
00:24:52 Mike Pietrzak: You know I'm part of a master mind of all their ones and there is one gentleman who's been very successful in his career and in his day job is to help other business owners sell their cellar companies. You know a bit of a bit of a financial, I guess all that. But he helps him with their exit strategy and he says that the companies where the, the head of the company is entrenched there and doing all the things cannot not signing responsibility. They get one or two multiple of their, whereas the ones that have built systems and taken the leader later out of the critical roles and started to assign responsibilities to get seven or eight months monetary.
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00:25:41 Charles Sue-Wah-Sing: Well put it, describe it this way on the printers in your first Canario right. They believe the business them.
00:25:52 Mike Pietrzak: Yes.
00:25:52 Charles Sue-Wah-Sing: Their business, their entire identity, is attached to the business.
00:25:58 Mike Pietrzak: Is that, Mister?
00:25:59 Charles Sue-Wah-Sing: Total, whereas the second scenario, that anti printer is actually building a business right, I mean building as if they're putting you could put it in a box and give it to someone else.
00:26:12 Mike Pietrzak: Yes.
00:26:13 Charles Sue-Wah-Sing: Is not father?
00:26:15 Mike Pietrzak: As opposed to like personal brand or cult.
00:26:19 Charles Sue-Wah-Sing: Yeah, it's like you know. Yeah, I'm a I'm a, I'm a solo part of printer right. I'm not building a team here. My business, my brand, is essentially that is right. I'm a coach. If I wanted to expand this, if I would actually want to make something of scale, I have to detach my business from my identity, in a sense that I have to enroll people, build systems, build brands, build products or whatever. That's outside of who I am as an individual, but building a product that could be sold with or without me.