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Living in Alignment with Autumn Swain

George Grombacher October 12, 2023

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Living in Alignment with Autumn Swain

LifeBlood: We talked about living in alignment, what that means and how to do it, pursuing rhythm instead of balance, how to be a leader in your home and community, and the power of your next best choice, with Dr. Autumn Swain, Founder and CEO of the Aligned Leader and author.       

Listen to learn why giving yourself some extra margin can make a world of difference!

You can learn more about Autumn at, Instagram and LinkedIn.

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Our Guests

George Grombacher

Dr. Autumn Swain

Episode Transcript

george grombacher 0:02
Dr. Autumn Swain is the founder and CEO of the aligned leader. She is a health coach blogger. She is the author of the playground leader, life changing ABCs for the whole family. Autumn excited to have you on welcome.

Dr. Autumn Swain 0:16
Thank you so much. I’m so excited to be here. Yeah.

george grombacher 0:19
Tell us a bit about your personal lives more about your work and why you do what you do?

Dr. Autumn Swain 0:25
Absolutely, I love this question, because I’m a very passionate person. So my personal work life are all very much in line with things that I love. So, interestingly, for me, I found that there isn’t a super clear line between my personal work and my work life to be honest, work for me has been anything productive that I’m doing, where I feel that I’m having an impact that includes my work as a mom, the organization’s I volunteered for and just being an engaged in loving neighbor who cares about the people and spaces around me. So for me, these two uncompensated efforts of my life are very important work that I do. But when it comes to my compensated work, my consulting organization is also very personal to me. I came up with the name V aligned leader, because personal alignment has everything to do with living a life of well being. When we are out of alignment, we struggled to create the proper rhythms and a sustainable plan for holistic wellness. So living aligned is a personal conviction that’s informed my lifestyle positively impacted my household and my neighborhood, as well as just been the foundation of my consulting work, my coaching work my writing, to be honest, so speaking of my writing, you mentioned this, I recently published my first book, The playground leader, I’m so excited about this, because I have the desire to give people a starting point for more holistic leadership and well being in the midst of such very full lives. So originally, my vision was to give young people a head start and growing in their leadership. So much of our educational spaces focuses energy into teaching academia offer, oftentimes just overlooking the importance of these foundational leadership skills and character building principles. So I wanted this book to equip the entire team, whether in the home in the classroom, or even sports arenas, we care so deeply for our children, but life at times can be so overwhelming, you have young ones, so you can probably relate. But this book, I wrote to give people a clear starting point towards helping their children grow up to be everything they were meant to be for today, not just viewing them as leaders for tomorrow. And that was a big part of my motivation for this book.

george grombacher 2:46
I appreciate that. And it is a lot. Life Life is a lot you and I were joking that we’re recording this on a Monday, and a lot of people don’t like Mondays and at certain points in my life, I was certainly one of those, and I totally get it. So in writing the book, have you always been a writer?

Dr. Autumn Swain 3:08
I have not actually, it’s interesting that you say that. I mean, I did do a lot of writing when I was doing my doctoral research. And that book, that finished completed project was super, super, super thick. But yeah, now I am an author. And now I am a writer. And I love it. Because so much of my there’s so much alignments became alignment between my consulting work and actually, the reason I wrote the book, and so it just made sense to, you know, become an author.

george grombacher 3:39
For sure. I found that that writing has helped me to just be a better thinker, and helps me to think about what I’m thinking and then okay, I’m interested in getting this idea or these ideas across How do I take all of this information and get it down into a digestible

Dr. Autumn Swain 3:54
book? Yeah, absolutely. So

george grombacher 3:58
no small feat, I think and talk a lot about alignment as well. What What do you mean? What does that mean? What What does personal alignment mean?

Dr. Autumn Swain 4:10
That’s actually a really good questions. So I’m going to answer this question in an angle. If it’s okay with you to give people a little bit of an understanding behind my work, because I think that will allow me to answer the question in the most appropriate way. So my inspiration for my work, including this book is really rooted in my understanding that one of the greatest assets of any community are its leaders. And so and I’m starting with that, because if I can help leaders have more personal alignment, it has the greatest impact has such a positive impact on our community. So when I did my doctorate in transformational leadership, it was really rooted in this conviction that whole ballistic well being of leaders and their communities is so essential for leaders continued growth and impact and capacity, and fulfillment. So if I were one of these things for people, giving them tools to find personal alignment was so important. So. So I bring a unique perspective, I think, to when you ask this question to some solutions that I’m providing for people out there, because I have this extensive background in health and wellness, but also leadership and community development. So I feel that these, this intersection of those two spaces is where we can find well being not just for individuals, but for teams and organizations and communities as well. And I say that I start there, because if we understand what personal alignment means for us, it’s going to have this incredible impact in all the spaces that we show up in so and to get to your question even a little bit more specifically, I think it’s really important to define well being, because I would imagine every listener here has a slightly different understanding of what that means. So through my research and experience, I look at being an aligned leader, as well being that is encompassing one’s physical, mental, emotional, social, economic, and spiritual wellness. These six areas are so intimately interconnected, and therefore finding alignment among them is essential for achieving well being. And I would also argue that neglecting one area, one of these six areas will negatively impact the others, but also vice versa, because to me, that’s where alignment is like, it’s acknowledging that there’s this interconnectedness. So we have to have goals and focus on all of them in order to be truly aligned. So does that I hope that provides some clarity and what I mean by alignment. Yeah, I appreciate that

george grombacher 6:51
very much. Physical, mental, social, economic, spiritual, and then I missed the other one. And like you said that there were six.

Dr. Autumn Swain 6:59
There was Yeah, spiritual, physical, metaphysical. Okay, you got physical heart? Perfect. Yeah, absolutely.

george grombacher 7:09
And that, I really like how you have said household and neighborhood a handful of times, I think a lot of the time when we’re looking at our phones. And we’re seeing that there are atrocities happening all over the world at massive scales. And I think it’s disenfranchising and causes us to just sort of close up when in fact, to your point, we could be doing amazing work at home and then right in our neighborhoods.

Dr. Autumn Swain 7:39
Absolutely, absolutely. It’s all connected.

george grombacher 7:43
So the better I can be mindful of myself, and those six areas and making sure that I’m paying attention to all of them, because if one of them is out of whack, it’s going to throw the whole thing out of whack. That’s a technical term, then I really am, in a lot of ways showing up as a leader. And that’s one of the greatest assets that a community has, to your point. Absolutely. Absolutely. So how can how can people do a better job? You know, we just you just defined wellbeing for us? How do I put this to work in my life?

Dr. Autumn Swain 8:16
That’s a really loaded question. And this is what I love to do in my day to day work. But I think one of the most important things to answer that question will be unexpected. So I think it’s acknowledging our reality and being super, super honest with ourselves, because our reality is that the demands of work, and family and community and all these obligations are taking its toll, we have to acknowledge that in general, we’re not well, people are burning out, people are feeling fatigued, lacking inspiration and vitality. So if you’re overwhelmed and stuck, and often just lacking the support and the rhythms and tools to have abundant well being, then that that’s the starting point is like acknowledging like, I’m not where I want to be. Because we have to have a why we have to be convicted enough to take the steps to move forward. And honestly, what I found working in all kinds of cross cultural and cross sector spaces with people of all ages, is that people do want to be well, they do want to achieve a greater level of well being or alignment but are lacking the sustainable plan to do so. I think sometimes people might grab on to an initial plan, but is it sustainable? And that’s one of my favorite things to talk about. And it’s probably one of the most important questions a leader can ask him or herself is how do you make your efforts for wellbeing sustainable? And that’s my goal with my work is I work with all kinds of people, from parents to coaches to community leaders, is establishing a plan for sustainable well being so that you can thrive long term and help those who have influence over Thrive long term as well. So that that’s a, I guess a starting point is acknowledging that you need to be intentional about moving forward in this space. Because if you’re not nothing’s going to change, right?

george grombacher 10:14
Yes, like couldn’t agree more you are, we’re definitely read enough the same, the same script or sheet music or however you want to think about that. And I always I, I’m sort of at this place right now, where I’m talking and thinking a lot about, I don’t want to put my values on somebody else. So I just want to ask people, do you think that a change is necessary? Are you happy with what you have going on? And that’s really what you’re talking about? And if the answer is, well, I could probably use some tweaks or adjustments and some changes that how do you make those? And then more importantly, how do you make them actually stick? Absolutely. Yeah. Go ahead. No, go ahead. Go ahead. That’s the sustainability piece. I think, unfortunately, that’s a term that has a lot of different meanings to it these days, but just that you’re going to stick to it. But I’m not just going to yo yo around and drop 10 pounds and put it back on, get out of credit card debt, put it back on and just keep this cycle of burnout and then crashing sort of a thing. So

Dr. Autumn Swain 11:17
absolutely. And that’s one of the things I get most excited about in the vision behind the book that I wrote to is because we’re working on these things for ourselves. But imagine if we start with our young people early on in establishing rhythms, to be aligned, because they are leaders for today, like their alignment is important to like, as we’re working on our own, we need to be also considering the alignment of our young people. Because imagine this, like if 1/3 of our global population is under 20 years old. Imagine the impact of helping our youth be more aligned, being engaged as leaders, what would that do for today’s society, like, not even just talking about the increase in innovation and collaboration, but just like overall well being of our communities, if we’re intentional about having these conversations with our young people as well, right. So that’s something I get equally excited about.

george grombacher 12:17
For sure. We’re going to reap the we’re going to reap what we sow one way or another. So it’s either going to be terrible, or we have the opportunity to find the right rhythm. Again, one of my favorite words. So that’s awesome that you’re using that again. But that’s easier said than done. If I’m having a hard enough time putting one foot in front of the other in my own life and getting my shoes tied and out of bed and out the door. How in the world. Am I going to help kids do that?

Dr. Autumn Swain 12:42
Exactly. Yeah. Is that a question?

george grombacher 12:46
Sort of? There’s, there’s, there’s there’s one in there somewhere?

Dr. Autumn Swain 12:49
Oh, yes. Yes. I believe that so strongly. So do you want me to touch on that, please? Okay, so yes, if we this is something I talk about over and over in my book, but also in my consulting work. Because if, if we if our hearts desire, we know that we want our youth to be better, we know that we want a generation of, you know, world changers, but if life is just so overwhelming for us, like where do we even start? And so I actually talk about finding rhythms all the time, because if you take any one of those six areas that I mentioned, originally, and just set a simple goal, to focus on one area initially, maybe you have an honest conversation with yourself, or you listen to what some people around you have been telling you like, Okay, let me focus on this. How do you find the reason I like the word rhythm over balance is because back if you tried to find balance in your life, before you set any goals for wellbeing, you inevitably you’re setting yourself up to fail. But rhythms allow us to pivot as life changes, because for most of us, our day in and day out, isn’t super consistent. And so you can look at, you know, even my goals, let’s say that I set for me and my family around physical health, it’s not going to look the exact same every day. But if we have rhythms of maintaining certain habits that are really important, we start there with a few small things, then that will feed our energy and our motivation to continue to take steps to look at other areas more holistically and start establishing goals in other areas. And one of the things that people always ask me was awesome, how do you how are you so disciplined in all these areas of your life and I talked about that in chapter four on my book, but sometimes it’s breaking things down as simply as just making the next best choice and challenging ourselves like, Okay, I’m gonna delay gratification a bit. Can I make just the next best choice? And when you start doing that, and you break your day to day down into the small habits becomes so much more doable, it is a matter of the mind for sure. But that’s really it, it’s just making the next best choice for yourself.

george grombacher 15:10
I think going back to that idea that life can be so overwhelming, and that is then causes me to just do nothing, trying to be perfect and execute on this amazing plan. And then when I just I just doesn’t go anywhere. But if I do train myself to do exactly what you just said, instead of trying to boil the ocean, I’m just trying to make the next best choice. And that’s in all these six, the six important aspects of my life and everything that I’m doing. It’s not going to be perfect. Just going to try to make The Next Best Choice. Absolutely. And make a habit out of that. Awesome. All right. So what age any age? Is it ever too early, too late to start talking to kids about these kinds of things?

Dr. Autumn Swain 15:58
Absolutely not. And as a matter of fact, like, what’s really exciting about the idea behind this is you can do it as a family. Or Believe it or not, even though I wrote this book, to give us tools to raise up young people as leaders for today, I’ve gotten so much positive feedback from people who have read my book, who are not even parents yet, maybe aren’t even teachers or coaches, they’re just young professionals. Because we’re all these leadership and character development principles in these areas I talk about in personal alignment, they apply to all of us. So it’s a journey that when you’re like, okay, it doesn’t need to seem overwhelming to tackle these things yourself and with your family. Because you can do the same things together, we can all drink more water, we can all set mindfulness goals. And the same thing could apply. Let’s say maybe you’re listening and you don’t have a family. But let’s say you’re in charge of a team with an organization, and you want your team to be well, but you haven’t been quite sure where to start. Because you’re not even while yourself. Maybe it’s doing things together in community and not being so individualistic in the way we think, right? Like we could do some of these goals and start on this journey together. To answer your question at any age, any season,

george grombacher 17:22
at any season of life like that, that is that is so true. And you know, I can look back when I was a young person, you just you, you meet people, you learn new information at the times that you’re ready to learn it, you’re ready to receive it, and you get excited about new stuff, and you want to put it to work. So whether or not you’re a parent, or whether you’re a parent or not, or you’re a leader in your work, whatever it might be, there’s opportunities for you to be taking these principles and helping yourself to do it. And even if you just did that you probably be providing a great example to other people. Look at autumn, she’s working really hard. It’s clear her yard is nice. She’s out exercising, whatever. It’s we’re constantly looking for inspiration.

Dr. Autumn Swain 18:15

george grombacher 18:17
So I love it. You have kids? Are they take into this or? Or do you push back? Nobody’s perfect.

Dr. Autumn Swain 18:32
Sure, sure. So I it’s kind of a joke. I’ve joked with my husband so many times and even friends in my life, that in the moment, right, I wrote this book with all of these awesome characteristics that we want to implement into our life. But I joke that a lot of times I have to remind myself of what I wrote, you know, even something as simple as like, being patient like parenting with patience, leading with patience, right, or being authentic and who you show up as like, I’m a mom, but I’m also a lot of other things. So how do I show up authentically as a living example for my kids? So yes, I have a six year old and a nine year old, they’re both boys super energetic. And so it is a daily journey is I don’t think it’s something we master, I think it’s something that we just set out to do the best we can with what we have, and then try to do it again the next day. So there are some things that I’ve mastered, like my kids do eat really healthy and they love being active, and they love being kind and being good friends and being a good neighbor. But there are still a lot of things that we are working on day in and day out. So but that’s just part of the journey and that’s part of the grace we need to extend ourselves is not having an all or nothing mindset like maybe today didn’t go so well. But I’m not going to be deflated and showing up tomorrow the best that I can for myself and for them and for or everyone else that our lives touch in our community.

george grombacher 20:04
Really well said, something it’s been on my mind lately, again, like me not wanting to put my values and other people is that we’re, we’re a lot closer than then than we think. And while you might not be as close to your ideal body or your ideal financial situation, it’s closer than you think. And it changes can happen really quickly. What do you think about that?

Dr. Autumn Swain 20:31
So one of the things Yeah, I totally agree with you. And I’ll leave the listeners with a couple things that they can hold on to you, because I love reading. So I read a lot of nonfiction books, but that’s hundreds and hundreds of pages of amazing information or listening, listening to podcasts, it’s all this wonderful information you’re taking in, I always say, just walk away with one or two golden nuggets that you could apply each time for each episode for each book, and apply them to your life. And so a couple things that if you take anything away from today, is to implement change. So we are closer than we think. Right? Like because our mind gets in our way. And I talk about mindset a lot in my book and in my work. But if we remember two things, intention, and margin, okay, so we’re just one intention, and a little bit of margin away from significant change. So that so for example, to break this down a little bit, there’s so many resources on the how for things, but it starts with a mindset to actually prioritize implementing the how. So I could tell somebody tips and tricks all day long, and how to help your family and healthier strategies for mindfulness and everyday living or anything related to these areas of personal alignment. But it’s the mindset of just being intentional about doing a little bit over time. And that compound effect is significant, because it’s the consistency, it’s not feeling like you need to change every habit, get rid of every bad habit, implement every good habit overnight, it just being consistent with a little bit of intention, and move forward. So I would agree with you on that. And then that second word margin, we’re just fooling ourselves if we have intention, but don’t leave margin for any change. So I’m really big advocate, because this is an important conviction for our family to be available for other people and our neighbors, and so forth. So we’re really busy with kids stuff, and business and volunteering and all the things but we’ve been super intentional speaking of intention of leaving margin to be a good neighbor, right. If we left no margin for that, there’s no way we can be a good neighbor. So it’s the same thing if somebody has a health goal, or wants to be in greater alignment or wants to establish wellness routines at work, we have to have some margin for it. So it’s pausing enough to prioritize just slightly, so that you have some margin to be intentional and leave a little margin, and you are a lot closer than anything.

george grombacher 23:09
I love that. That’s something I have struggled with. Being that I have many interests and three children and lots of things to do before I get out the door in the morning, I need to build in a little bit of margin. So always stuff to get to be getting better at a lot. Thank you so much for coming on. Where can people learn more about you? How can they connect? And where can they get their copy of the playground leader? Life changing ABCs for the whole family?

Dr. Autumn Swain 23:39
Yeah, absolutely. So I love connecting with people. So there’s multiple avenues. First of all, I’m so grateful to have been on the show like your mission, and what I stand for my personal and professional life. I have so much conviction behind that. So thank you for what you do. People can contact me through my website, which is the aligned There’s a way to contact me directly that comes to my email. And then on the Author tab on my website is where people could find links to my book through all major retailers but also some people prefer more local shopping. You can find them in local bookstores online as well. So pretty much anywhere and then I am active on Instagram. So one of my promises when I published this book was to provide additional free content for people where I dig deeper into things that I write about in the book so on Instagram I’m at Dr. Autumn Swain. So at Dr. Autumn Swain. Swain is spelled SW A I N so people could also find me there.

george grombacher 24:49
Excellent. Well if you enjoyed as much as I did, show them your appreciation and share today show the friend who also appreciates good ideas go to the aligned and Check out the great resources you can get in touch with Dr. Autumn there. Hit the Author tab and get your copy of the playground leader that you can find autumn on LinkedIn or rather Instagram as well at Dr. Autumn Swain. I’ll link all those in the notes. Thanks good, Adam.

Dr. Autumn Swain 25:16
Thank you so much. Have a fantastic day.

george grombacher 25:19
You as well till next time, remember, do your part doing your best

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