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Episode 041: A Conversation on Near Death Experiences with Liz Nead

near death experiences with liz nead

Join Sarah Noll Wilson and guest Liz Nead as they discuss Liz’s brush with death, the challenges her continuing recovery poses, and some of the lessons she has learned along the way.

About Our Guest

Liz Nead is an adventure speaker, traveling the world and taking on challenges to find lessons in leadership, communication diversity, and inclusion. A diversity speaker and researcher for over a decade, she specializes in common language and daily communication around race and cultural differences in the workplace. Liz uses a direct, humorous, and vivid style from the stage to create opportunities for communication around differences. Liz has also served as an executive coach and consultant for DEI challenges for companies like Paypal, News Corp, National Guard, and YWCA.

Liz is a television host and author, writing several Amazon best sellers, most recently “The 1440 Principle.” She also won a regional Emmy for her television show, “Life Dare.” Liz balances her passionate work with a thriving family of seven and her husband of 20 years, a retired army major.

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Episode Transcript

Sarah Noll Wilson
Hello and welcome to this week’s episode of Conversations on Conversations where each week we explore a topic to help us have more powerful conversations with ourselves and with each other. I’m your host Sarah Noll Wilson and I’ve already got a case of the giggles and I think this is what’s gonna (laughs) happen. It’s Liz’s fault. No. (laughs) Joining me today, our special guest is Liz Nead and I’m going to ask her to refrain from chatting for just a second as I do her formal introduction. I, you know, well, we can get into this later because I was trying to remember when when you and I met because we’ve just crossed paths for so long. But here, here is the formal background of Liz Nead and what we’ll be exploring today. Liz Nead is an adventure-speaker traveling the world and taking on challenges to find lessons of leadership, communication, diversity, and equity and inclusion. A diversity speaker and researcher for over a decade, she specializes common language and daily communication around race and cultural differences in the workplace. Liz uses direct humorous, very humor – I mean, very humorous and vivid style from the stage to create opportunities for communication around differences. She has also served as an executive coach and consultant for DEI challenges for companies like Pay Pal, News Corp, National Guard and YWCA. Also, for some of you who are just meeting Liz for the first time she is a television host and author writing several Amazon bestsellers most recently, The 1440 Principle which you can check out and we will post in the show notes. She also won a regional Emmy for her television show Life Dare. Liz balances her passionate work with her thriving, beautiful family of seven, I’ll add that one in, and her husband of 20 years retired Army Major. Liz Nead. Welcome to the show.

Liz Nead
Thank you for having me.

Sarah Noll Wilson
We’re so excited to have you. When did – do you remember when we first met?

Liz Nead
Yes, we actually met – yeah, we met at the presentation thing that was like timed.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Oh, the Pecha Kucha nights, right!

Liz Nead
Yes. Yeah. And I was like, and I gave a presentation about how to talk like an Indian.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Yes.

Liz Nead
That was my presentation. But that’s when I met you.

Sarah Noll Wilson
You’re right and that would have been in –

Liz Nead
It was a long time.

Sarah Noll Wilson
2008, 9, 10?

Liz Nead
Yeah, probably 2009 2010.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Yeah, you were you were in our second – you were like one of our – it was one of the first three – one of our first three events. For those of you are –

Liz Nead
It was so much fun.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Yeah, for those of you who are hearing me use the word Pecha Kucha, you might not know what I mean.

Liz Nead
You’re like, what did she sneeze? Did she sneeze?

Sarah Noll Wilson
Gesundheit. But it came out around the same time as Ted Talks and you know, it was an event that was instead of TED Talk being top down experts, Pecha Kucha. I was calling it the wrong thing. Pecha Kucha, oh my gosh, Pecha Kucha was like ground up. It was local folks. It’s been a while since I’ve been in there and and it was an event we ran it here in Des Moines for about seven years. And people get 20 slides that are time for 20 seconds, and they go off and they focus on a topic they’re passionate about, and that’s right, that is where we met. We’ve known each other while.

Liz Nead
A long time. You know, what I would say is this, I did a podcast interview yesterday with Melissa Burkheimer. And I had a similar meeting with her, like it was just ships passing in the night. And what I would say is, that was a golden era for Des Moines.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Yeah.

Liz Nead
A lot of people were super creative, starting businesses left and right. And I met a lot of people that I would, I wouldn’t say I’m friends with them, like I see them all the time.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Yeah

Liz Nead
But I’m friends with them like, I could call them anytime I need to.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Yeah.

Liz Nead
And ask them for something and they would do their best to deliver.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Yeah.

Liz Nead
And I treasure that those days because everyone, everyone was starting a podcast and everyone had like, a brochure or they were starting some board meet –

Sarah Noll Wilson
Yeah, like a meet and greet, networking. Yeah, I mean, –

Liz Nead
It was really important. I do think I would not have gotten as far as I did if that wasn’t happening at that time, that every time I went into a Panera –

Sarah Noll Wilson
Yeah.

Liz Nead
I walked away with another connection.

Sarah Noll Wilson
(laughs) That’s such a like, beautiful – it’s such an Iowa thing to like, you know, we met at the Panara.

Liz Nead
Yeah, it was a place – I probably got invited to that event because of Panera.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Yeah. (laughs)

Liz Nead
It’s probably where I was. Yeah.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Who’s an unofficial sponsor of the show. We’re happy to take your money Panera. So you just let us know. Liz –

Liz Nead
Seriously.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Okay, Liz. That was your formal bio. But what else do you want people to just know about you? I mean, I’m going to ask you here in a minute about you know, like your life experiences, you know, sort of your life journey to this point, but what else do you want people to know about you?

Liz Nead
My, you know, elevator pitch or whatever is that I started this business 15 years ago. And it was during the mortgage bubble bursting, and I, I knew I was gonna be laid off. And the day I got laid off, I had a smile on my face driving away, I knew I was gonna go be a speaker, and that I had been thinking about it for a few months. In all honesty, I had been thinking about it since I was five.

Sarah Noll Wilson
(laughs)

Liz Nead
I didn’t know I was thinking about it. Like when everyone else was playing house, I was lining up my stuffed animals in stadium style and presenting that – like, rabbit, thanks for coming. I appreciate your attention. Hold all your questions until the end. Like I just practiced being me.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Where did that, where did that come from? Like, that’s such a I mean, I remember teaching, but you know, were you exposed to speakers? Or did you just know that?

Liz Nead
My dad, my dad was a professor and then also a preacher, he had two jobs. And my grandfather was a principal and a preacher. And so I do think it just is in my blood. My sister lives in Paris, and she’s a meditation coach and executive coach, and she speaks – like it was natural to me. I remember there was a teacher. It was a substitute teacher from Yugoslavia. And once a year they would have an assembly and she would sit up and talk about how she escaped Yugoslavia. And everyone else was taken by her story and I was like, I can do that.

Sarah Noll Wilson
(laughs)

Liz Nead
I can – like it was a thing that grabbed at me constantly. I’m gonna be her someday, you know? And so I was old. I was 35, 34. It’s old for a do over.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Yeah.

Liz Nead
You know, I had already gotten to school and been working for some time, but deep down, it just felt right from the beginning and it really went very smoothly after that. So.

Sarah Noll Wilson
What – I love, I love hearing, I love hearing this story, you know, you and I often the time we get to spend, you know, with each other is when we’re in a speaker ready room together, and we’re like, oh, I’m done. And you’re getting ready, or you’re done. And I’m done. And let’s just sit and talk.

Liz Nead
High five!

Sarah Noll Wilson
Let’s talk about some, you know, of the world problems together and process it.

Liz Nead
Totally, interesting conversations.

Sarah Noll Wilson
You know, bonding over our ADHD brains, the, all of that. So, you know, so for people who are listening, you know, you can, you can clearly hear, there’s lots of areas we can explore. But the topic we’re actually going to explore with Liz is near death experiences, which is something we haven’t explored on the show. We, you know, we were fortunate to have Jen Carolan come on, and we spent a couple episodes actually talking about – she’s a death doula. And so we’ve we’ve explored that the topic from this perspective. Yeah, it’s interesting. I didn’t know that that was a thing.

Liz Nead
Wow.

Sarah Noll Wilson
But let’s, let’s start with why we’re talking about that and your, your journey. Just your journey.

Liz Nead
Yeah. So I used to live in Des Moines. I lived in Johnston, Iowa. And then in August of 21, I relocated to eastern Iowa. Was kind of like, my husband is retirement age and so we wanted to make an adjustment that would be more like retirement for him.

So eastern Iowa, that ya know, like. (laughs)

What the heck? But we bought a boat.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Okay. Okay. I was gonna say it was the river, wasn’t it that pulled you in?

Liz Nead
It was the river. Absolutely. And we’re closer to the kids. Three hours away from Faith and Kendall and then an hour away from Andrew. So we wanted to be around our kids more and he wanted, I wanted him to have a place to land. Like he could spend, you know, I’ve taken meetings on the boat. It’s just like a relaxed way of living. It’s a lot of Bush Light, you know, that kind of thing. And so we moved and we were empty nesters. Well, no, my daughter Faith was still – she graduated in 22. So we had one more kid left. We were kind of getting ourselves ready for that. And in December of 21, I was at a game, it was Milwaukee playing Marquette. And we went – my daughter Kendall is a scholarship athlete, basketball. So we went to the game and watched it. They didn’t win. After the game we got in the car and we were driving home. And this is the weird part that I don’t think I describe very well. But I don’t remember a lot of this is that I had good snacks like cheese and, and grapes and I had grapes. I had a grape and it stuck wrong. So a lot of times when you have a heart situation, it feels like indigestion.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Got it?

Liz Nead
That’s like a common thing. And I felt like this grape. This is what it felt like, this is not what was happening. Yeah, it felt like the grape was stuck in my chest.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Interesting.

Liz Nead
And what was happening is that blood was pooling. I had a leak, essentially. And I could feel that leak, but it felt like indigestion. And so I am not a person who readily goes to the hospital. I just don’t see the doctor very much. I’m pretty healthy. But we were about an hour away from home and I’m like, you need to take me to the hospital. Like something’s wrong. What I thought was going to happen is I would go to the hospital, wait forever in an emergency room, and then be sent home like, nothing would be wrong.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Yeah, yeah.

Liz Nead
What happened is I checked in and then I had surgery eight hours later.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Wow.

Liz Nead
Heart surgery. And I had a condition called the an ascending aortic dissection. It’s, there’s a, there’s a low survival rate when something like that happens, like your, your aorta splinters and blood is just pooling in your body. So my heart stopped for 12 minutes. Like that’s dead.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Wow. Yeah.

Liz Nead
And it traumatizes all – I mean, when your heart stops, your body can’t function. I mean, everything starts shutting down. So it’s brain trauma, it’s your organs are affected, you know, and I had several strokes, as well. So the weird thing about it is that, you know, people have motor challenges. They, they can’t talk normally. And I woke up after. This is my version of a strike, because I was not sitting around waiting, like the rest of my family was, but I was in ICU for two weeks. And I was not talking. I was intubated. I had all kinds of wires and tubes. And two weeks I was there. When I woke up two weeks later, woke up meaning that’s the first thing I remember, I was talking and walking, it was like nothing had happened. And so – but you know, I was I was changed. Because you can’t – your heart can’t stop for 12 minutes and not have and have no impact.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Sure.

Liz Nead
So I suffered from brain trauma, I’m still healing from it. And a lot of other ancillary things happened as a result of that. But my family was right by my side the whole time. My husband and one of my children, or both my – two of my children were always by my side trying to get me to talk, doing my hair, my makeup. Get – walking with me if that’s what I needed. That was pretty amazing, to have my family around me. That’s the short version.

Sarah Noll Wilson
That’s a, that’s quite –

Liz Nead
Ask any questions.

Sarah Noll Wilson
That’s a, that’s quite a short. I mean, that’s quite a short version. And I you know, I know that you’ve been on such a journey. I mean, I mean, a couple of things. In full transparency, we actually in my family had a family member that experienced something similar. And you know, and knowing the the – at least so I have some I have some connection to –

Liz Nead
Some understanding of it.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Some understanding, especially on the family side of it of like, when you’re out, when they come back on, like, are they going to come back on? Is it going to be the same? Are you going to be –

Liz Nead
That’s real. My kids did not know if I would be okay, because I if I could show you videos, I look out of it. Like I look higher than a kite. And so they were making arrangements and trying to be there for me not knowing if I was going to have trouble speaking, you know, doing simple everyday tasks. That was hard. That was traumatizing.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Sure.

Liz Nead
I’m the I’m the center of the family universe and suddenly the Bossy Liz was out of it. And you know, I have videos of my daughter Kendall, we’re very close, and she’s like, mom do an eye push up, come on. One eye push up for – like, she was basically reverse, reverse mothering me. Everything that I gave them came back at me trying to get me to participate in rehab and that sort of thing.

Sarah Noll Wilson
That’s, uh, yeah, I mean, my, you know, my experience of of you, you know, from a social media perspective and your family as you know, like, you’re the coach, you’re the, you know, you’re the you’re the coach on that – the cheerleader, the coach and all of that. How, you know, it was in like you said, you’re still healing. And I think one of the things when you and I had reconnected at the end of last year was just the reality is, is that everything changed. You know, like you said, not only physically, –

Liz Nead
(exhales)

Sarah Noll Wilson
Mentally, how people treated you changed, right, like opportunities change, your perspective on things, what was important to you. So what shifted?

Liz Nead
So what changed? Okay, so – and this is this is more connected to my entrepreneurial story. So the way that I was laid off, I, you know, they’re like, you don’t have a job anymore. And we’re, you’ll get paid for another two weeks. And you need to return your laptop within a week. And I was like, okay, and I wasn’t afraid. I went back and I, I went to a coffee shop, and I made a list of things that I wanted to get done. And I immediately started working on it. I was like, I’m gonna be a speaker. So I need to speak. So who am I going to call? I’m going to set up my own speaking engagements, I went and worked out a contract with a place in Des Moines in Urbandale. And started on the path, like I knew this was the path. And I can tell you, that was the story for so many things in my life. I got pregnant before I was married, with twins. And, again, landed on my feet. I was like, okay, I’m gonna have twins, and we’ll get married six months after they’re born. And I’ll take them to the park all the time. And, you know, I mean, I didn’t, it never was too big of a barrier for me to overcome. I just have this weird optimism that I’m going to figure it out.

And so that was my background. And so I was the, I knew I was gonna walk out of that hospital, that would have been the norm for me. Like, yeah, you had this life threatening condition, but you’re gonna dance out of the hospital, and go home and make dinner and go see your kid run. She had a track meet two weeks after I got home. And they were like, no, you can’t go to the track meet. That’s five hours one way in the car. You can’t do that. And I was shocked. I was like, what do you mean, I can’t sit, not drive, and go to a track meet, sit some more, cheer a little, and drive back? And actually, on all the doors of the bedrooms, they have like a little thing, like if you try to leave.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Oh, like an alarm?

Liz Nead
Yeah, an alarm on all the doors, because they didn’t believe that I got it. Like they didn’t think, because I was acting like nothing happened.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Sure, sure.

Liz Nead
I was mad at them for stopping me from going to my daughter’s track meet. And they thought I was just gonna get out and walk. I don’t know, it was January, when all this was going on. Like I wasn’t walking anywhere. It was cold. But so the mindset shift was dramatic. I was a person who everything had just worked out. Like, I mean, I could tell you story after story. And my husband would always get mad at me and go, you’re never going to learn your lesson until something stops you. Like, you’re just gonna keep rolling downhill until something stops you. And I was always like, well, it always works out so I’m not going to have a high level of anxiety. And I’m going to watch for the solutions that are going to come my way. And they did. They came my way often. And I and very successfully. So in this situation, I had some things that I couldn’t wiggle out of. Brain trauma is a serious thing. I mean, I had brain trauma. I have suffered from brain trauma. When your heart stops, when you have multiple strokes, things change. I am not 100% of who I was. And so I got home and you know, after a week or two passed, I was like, okay, I gotta get back to work. Like, I’m a speaker, I gotta go – I had a speaking engagement three weeks after I got home and I went and did it. They were like, do you think you should do that? I go, Yeah, I can do it. And so I went to Iowa City, and I spoke and my daughter, Kendall was like, I need to go and make sure she’s okay. And she gave me feedback. She’s like, well, you got up a half an hour before you’re supposed to leave. That’s a little later than I would have expected. Just like watching her mom, and what she knew about me, she was like trying to give me feedback. But you know, I went and spoke without a problem. It was something I was well versed in.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Yeah.

Liz Nead
And, you know, got my paycheck and got home and I thought everything’s fine. What I didn’t anticipate eventually because I wasn’t, I wasn’t promoting myself. I didn’t have, I didn’t have the wherewithal to do it. I didn’t know what I was going to do to promote myself, it usually was a referral turned into another thing. And I don’t know if people knew I was okay or if they weren’t asking me because they’re like, she just got out of the hospital. I really don’t know why I, I probably was on social media less, that might have something to do with it. But I had some, my last few speaking engagements, probably six or seven, throughout the year. And then nobody was asking me. And here’s where I noticed a difference. I’m creative, I think of ways to get in your head. Like, I’m like, oh, this person’s gonna love this. And then I would write a blog or create a video or do a little snippet of something all on brand, with the sole purpose of reminding you that I exist, so you can pass my name on, or hire me to speak. And I wasn’t doing that, I was busy healing, I was going to rehab I was just trying to figure out how to be a mom again. And my kids kind of like cut me loose a little, because that was part of their traumatic experiences that they had to go back and dig into their lives after paying so much attention to my life. And, and that was the adjustment that for the first time everything didn’t fall into place. It wasn’t easy. I had to figure out a new list because I couldn’t do everything. I didn’t have the energy to complete everything every day.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Yeah.

Liz Nead
But I had to keep going. Or I had to decide I’m gonna give up speaking.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Yeah. It’s interesting –

Liz Nead
Hopefully, that makes sense.

Sarah Noll Wilson
No, no, it absolutely does. And there’s a couple couple different places that I want to explore a little bit more deeply with you. You know, it’s interesting to hear you talk about, you know, your kids cutting off and, boy, something that was coming up for me, as you were saying that is on some level, I imagine almost that you your facing, you know, knock on wood. I, I have not been in the position yet of having to face my parent’s mortality in such a direct way. Right. Like, we know, it’s coming. It’s the one thing that is true of this world. And you know, and that’s, that’s heavy. I mean, that’s just that’s a heavy heavy for them and heavy for you.

Liz Nead
I mean the oldest ones are 27. The youngest is 19. That’s not an age when you should be faced with your parents, and I know that many people deal with that. That’s their daily life. But, I don’t know if this matters, but I seem very alive. I seem very like lit up and passionate. That’s how I parent. I don’t have a mellow bone in my body. I am. I wake up –

Sarah Noll Wilson
(laughs) Like Liz is like eight to eleven. Like I’ve never seen you a two or three. Like it’s always eight to eleven.

Liz Nead
No, it’s true. It is I give myself five minutes after I wake up and I hit the ground running like a like Fred Flintstone driving a car.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Well, that that –

Liz Nead
And so they know me as that. And then I was, they know me as that and then they had to face not having me. Like, the doctor was like she her heart stopped. But she’s okay. Like, that’s a lot for someone to handle. So they had to recover from that.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Mm hmm. And probably you’re still like having some healing from that trauma as well.

Liz Nead
Absolutely. We’re all in therapy.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Yeah. Good.

Liz Nead
Every one of us has a therapist because we need to talk it out. It’s – when life doesn’t go as planned, you need someone to guide you back on the path.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Okay, so, you know, as you bring that up, and you know, and the intention, the intention with this show is to explore topics that might be situations you may encounter, maybe have encountered, or might know somebody who’s encountering. And one of the things that I was, I was curious about is, again, I could I could imagine that – like, we’re just so grateful that you’re back and you’re healthy, right? And kind of like we’re back. And then that realization of like, and things are different. And something did happen to all of us. And, you know, and I mean, we know that lots of people experience trauma all the time, and then they don’t have the space to process it and all of that. So I appreciate you sharing about therapy. We’re very pro-therapy on the show. One thing that I was curious about is you know, just for you, one of the things I think are, is a similarity between us, although I think you’re a level even higher than me, is we move fast. You know, like, you know, pre all of this, fast like, really fast thinker, fast talker. And we would always talk about like, I gotta slow ourselves down. And you know, and I imagine that there’s probably some some component of your recovery is that your brain might not work exactly the same, right? Maybe it doesn’t –

Liz Nead
It doesn’t. It does not work the same.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Yeah. So talk to me about that. And what I’m, what I’m curious about, too, is just what has that been like navigating. And I don’t know, if you view it as a loss, but or maybe it’s just a shift and a change. But because that’s also been so much of your identity, right? I mean, I think that’s, that’s something that’s also unique is that it isn’t just oh, that this happened, but you you’ve been a personality, and your personality has been, you know, directly tied to who you are as a person. And so not only has this shifted you as a person, but this moment, shift is shifting how people are experiencing you, their perception of you, the story they say, all of that. So I’m curious what comes up for you?

Liz Nead
I’ve – in my – like since I was a child, I’ve put a lot of faith in my intelligence, my ability to learn and regurgitate and hit the ground running. And that’s part of my success is that I’m not afraid to fail. And I jump in and I go, I’ll figure it out. Like, I’m just gonna do it, and I’ll figure it out. And this has slowed me down. I don’t I, I’ve had speaking engagements that didn’t go as well as I wanted. And I was unfamiliar with that feeling. I was like, yuck, I, I’m good at this. I was born to do this. And now suddenly, I can’t keep up with myself. Like it was really hard. The humility it takes to heal. It’s so humbling to allow yourself the grace to make mistakes, to forgive yourself for not being as amazing as you’re supposed to be. How do you market yourself that way? You know, I went to a neurologist, and they showed me where the holes are in my brain. And they said, you know, you’re not experiencing any deficits, because your brain has moved that center to another part of your brain and continued on. And I was like, but where, you know, I wasn’t interested in knowing where the deficits were. But like, where if, if my brain hadn’t shifted, what I would have been missing. Now I want to go back to the neurologist and go, tell me about these holes. It’ll explain issues that I have. But that’s probably how I’ve had to face it is, sometimes I rest, like, I was never a napper. But now I’m like, I, that’s how my brain heals is when I sleep. So I go to bed early, I don’t drink. I was always a very good drinker. And now I’m like, eh, I’m not drinking, because I love the sleep I get. And it’s, I’m popping all these pills to keep my blood pressure low and I don’t want to get in the way of that. So I haven’t drank for a year.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Wow.

Liz Nead
And I don’t miss it. I don’t I don’t, you know, it used to be like a little bit of a olive oil to my social situation, like, just made it easier to be me. And now I’m like, I don’t need it, I can be fine without it, which is very less fighting with my husband, better sleep, you know, less fat around my belly, I can sing the praises of not drinking. But it’s really about setting myself up for having the clearest head possible. It used to be that anything could happen and I would find a way to have a clear head. But now I realize I need I need a little help, like everybody else does. I can’t, I can’t do this without some grace. So I just started a podcast.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Congratulations.

Liz Nead
I just recorded – Yeah, I’m excited. It’s –

Sarah Noll Wilson
What’s it called?

Liz Nead
It’s The Three Things. It’s The Three Things, for lack of a better title. It’s The Three Things podcast, where I share three things that you can use to overcome whatever barrier. So today, it was three things you can do to create a really strong vision board. But it could be anything, it could be three things to not be an overbearing parent or three things to get along with your spouse or get in shape. Right, you know, the list could go on and on. But you know, I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t have like, I don’t know how to. I just hopped on and recorded. Like, I don’t know if I use the right app or I don’t know what to do with the audio file. I don’t know. I mean, I did it – I have a video file too. What do I do with that?

Sarah Noll Wilson
(chuckles)

Liz Nead
Like it’s a whole thing. But I realize I’m ending up in the same place that I did before, which is, you just go do it, how else – no one knows what they’re doing in the beginning. So go do it and realize it’s going to change 100 times before you’re done, and it’s going to morph into something beautiful. But this is you taking a step. And I celebrate that step. Because I still have so much to offer. I believe that. I need to help people, like I get up with a desire to make someone’s day better. And that’s a spiritual charge. If you feel that way, you should be in the business of helping people. And so I still believe that in spite of everything that happened, that I didn’t die for a reason. And that I need to honor that every day finding another way to reach people and make them better at what they do, better at being part of community, better at reaching their level of intelligence. So I’m more passionate about that now than I was before. And I was pretty passionate about it before.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Yeah, yeah. One of the things one of the things you said that I think you know, that I want to, I want to poke out a little bit, not poke at it a bad way. But just, you’re talking about, now you’re being really intentional about having the clearest head possible. But before it was sort of like, yeah, yeah, I’ll find it. I’ll figure it out.

Liz Nead
Yeah, I had the energy to find it.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Yeah. You know, and there’s – and also that – some of that, you know, some of that is absolutely your personality and some of that –

Liz Nead
It’s my ADHD.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Yeah. And some of it’s our culture, though, like, we have a very like hustle, don’t value rest culture, like figure it out, you know, do all of that. And that, that is something that has been evolving on my personal journey of just how, how can I be more intentional and responsive to building that space, to building that rest, to instead of it always being like, well, I’m burnt out. Now I have to do it. Not that I’m always good at it. But I, you know, I was just hearing you talk, reflecting on that idea of how often we don’t, we don’t try to rest and get clarity until after we’re fried. And then what is possible, actually, if we are much more intentional, and also just having that, you know, boy, that phrase you said it takes humility to heal.

Liz Nead
Oh, –

Sarah Noll Wilson
It’s just hitting me.

Liz Nead
It really does. I did not want to admit that I was I had gone through something. I was like, I envisioned myself walking out of here and without a problem, and that’s what I did. I walked out without any obvious problems, but I needed healing. My – the daughter that is the most like me, who is Kendall, she had to be really rough with me. She’s like, Mom, you had brain trauma. You’re not okay. And I was like, you could be a little more encouraging. Geez. But she wanted me, she felt better if I acknowledged what my problem was.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Sure.

Liz Nead
And again, part of my success is this optimism. I just don’t give the boogey man too much credit.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Yeah.

Liz Nead
And then I and sometimes the boogey man just lets me walk on by. But when you have something like this, like a near death experience, the cost to your soul is significant. You have to give yourself time to bounce back. And so I did, I took trips to see my girlfriends. I took out of town trips with my husband, I went to see all my kids at their various places. Like I need to just soak that up.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Yeah.

Liz Nead
That family time, that love from my community. And I’ve always been a person that’s a take it or leave it kind of person. Like I love being around people, but they’re always there.

Sarah Noll Wilson
(laughs)

Liz Nead
I just never really worried about it. I’d have a nice, nice tight kind of big community. But suddenly I needed them more than they needed me. I really, that’s that’s humility, where you go, you know, I need to call that person and say, would you come visit me? Or can I come visit you? And can we spend – can we go out to dinner and I opened up, I started talking about the situation I’m in. How hard it was today to go to my desk and sit down and record this not – this unworthy podcast, that I know I’m gonna look back at it in a year and go that was your best effort like, seriously lady? But to forgive myself for being not as good as I used to be.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Yeah.

Liz Nead
Because that’s what I did for the first three or four months. I was like this is this is the ragdoll Liz. She’s not as good as she used to be. And my, my therapist calls it the death of – my ego death. Because I was so mad, like, I was like, I don’t even want to get up and shower, I hate putting makeup on. Like, I don’t want to get ready and find clothes that are matching. For what? Why? Like, nothing felt worthy of my attention. I literally just got up and I get out of the shower and be like, oh my god, I have no clothes on. I’m so tired, I have to find clothes. And I developed a little anxiety of getting ready anxiety because it just felt pointless. And I realized I needed to find solace in the rhythm of my life, doing things well. Just opening up my, my planner and realizing that’s an opportunity, like whatever I chose to do was an opportunity for that day. And that’s been tough.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Sure.

Liz Nead
That’s been – I’m a know it all. I mean, that not knowing at all has been the toughest pill to swallow. But that’s part of my journey is I don’t know what I’m gonna do tomorrow, but it’s going to be good. I’ll figure it out. It’ll be good. You know?

Sarah Noll Wilson
Yeah. And it’s like, when you – well when we are talking about it’s just that redefining success, you know, again, because when you’re, you know, it feels good to be a speaker, it feels good to have the inquiries coming in, it feels good to be wanted and needed. And also it feels good to feel like you’re making a difference and getting – and especially, I mean, and then there is the layer of, you know, as ADHD brains getting that dopamine hit that we don’t produce naturally. Right. And so then then there’s that that complexity as well. You know, you said something really poignant about how you needed, your friends more than they needed you. And one of the things that I was curious about to explore is just how how people have shown up with you, you know, or, and maybe one way to think – for us to frame this is for people who are listening who may have loved ones or friends or colleagues who’ve experienced something. Sometimes what I’ve observed is that when there’s some sort of fundamental life change, for whatever it may be, maybe it’s a death of a loved one, maybe it’s some new lived experience, right? Having a child, whatever the monumental change is, is that sometimes the tolerance, or the patience other people have for like giving you that space or holding that space sometimes is less than what you need. I don’t know if I’m making sense there. But –

Liz Nead
No, it makes sense. It makes sense. I think that people expect you to be funny, I’m funny. I come in with the quip, the well timed quips. I am, I always, you know, what is Liz doing? What is she up to? You know, you weren’t surprised I started a podcast. You’re like, finally! Like there’s an expectation for a certain type of person.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Yeah.

Liz Nead
I mean, I think I hit all of the checkmarks of the kind of person that you watch on the move. And it hurts when people don’t understand I’m a step slower. It’s hard. That’s that’s a humility to go, yeah, she’s, she’s not the same.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Yeah.

Liz Nead
She’s literally – it’s gonna take me twice as long to do what I did before. And I’m going to be twice as proud of it. It’s very odd. But I, my community has shown up for me. Like my son. My son and his girlfriend stayed for two months. He lives in Atlanta. And they had, they paid rent on an apartment and lived in my house. And they weren’t ready, he just didn’t want to leave me. He was like, she still needs me. And I think about how gratifying it is. I really show up for my kids. I’m very physically on for them. They are of great interest to me. So my daughter is going to play basketball tonight. That’s my big thing. What are you doing tonight? I’m in front of the couch watching ESPN. My daughter’s gonna play. My other, my son works at CNN. And I mean, he loves his life. He loves his career. And every time I talk to him, I just want him to brag and tell me everything he loves about it. So this kid showed up for me. Like – it – they’re not – I wasn’t pouring into a vase without a bottom, Like they caught everything I gave them and willingly – like Mother’s Day last year was amazing. Christmas, last year was amazing. They just showed up, knowing that I needed love, almost like a child.

And my friends did the same. Like, when the year of when I was put in the hospital came up, I had the biggest bouquet of flowers, where they were like, I’m so glad you’re here. They all came at one time, and we had a weekend together celebrating that we’re all healthy and together. And I mean, I really feel a greater sense of trust for human beings in general. Like, I can be a little sarcastic and dark about people. (laughs) I don’t know that not to get political. But the whole last president made it so that I didn’t – I did – people disappointed me.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Yeah.

Liz Nead
So, but this really brought, I’m like, I’m loved. And it’s another reason why I keep going back to I’m here for a reason. Get to work, do the things that you, you know, whatever is weighing on you, you need to get out there and do it. Don’t wait for people to inquire, go offer. They don’t even know what they need. Go offer what you think they need. It’s made me more driven, and, and more willing to reach out to people and say, I need this from you. Can you? I mean, I did that with you, Sarah, I I said I need if you gotta if someone needs a speaker, point me in their direction. And that’s not something that I would have done before. I would have been the All Knowing Liz.

Sarah Noll Wilson
I remember sitting on my paren’t couch.

Liz Nead
Now I need people.

Sarah Noll Wilson
I think yeah, it was I think it was Thanksgiving time you reached out to me and I was at my parent’s house. And I remember looking at my phone going, why is Liz calling me? I’m gonna – I’ll take – I’m gonna answer this and see what’s going and you’re right.

Liz Nead
And I was like, help!

Sarah Noll Wilson
And I – you know, I mean, I yeah, I mean and I appreciate it that you knew that you could reach out. And I also know like, knowing knowing who you were and who you are, like, knowing that that, again, that the humility that that takes because it’s like, you’re Rockstar Liz. Like that’s the you know, that’s the –

Liz Nead
You know, can I be honest with you, though? It’s exhausting.

Oh, I’m sure.

I, I am falling in love with myself again, like I’m learning to see the things that are not defined by the things I normally define myself. It’s not productivity, it’s not killing my to do list every day. It’s the love that I have for humans, that I’m like, admire that. I’m like, okay, girl, you’re – good things will come of this. But it’s exhausting to have that much belief in yourself. Like, I’ve never had to have this much belief in myself. And I’ve had to have a lot of moments where I was like, go girl, you got this. But now I’m getting up and I’m like, oh, gosh, okay, go, go, go go. Like I just, you know, and the ideas that I have, and, you know, where I’m like, you know, like, right now I’m putting together a workbook, that’s a DEI workbook. It’s gonna be, it’s gonna look kind of like a kid’s book, and have maybe 40 pages, and be something that I can sell to companies. That would have been a nothing thing. I would have spent a day putting that thing together. It’s three pages into it. It’s been a week, and I’ve just slowly doing it, but you know what, I love that I have those ideas.

Yeah, yeah.

That’s, that’s a good thing. And I’m gonna honor that. And it doesn’t matter if it takes two months, it doesn’t matter or a year, whatever. I’ll get it down eventually. And it will be it’ll have value.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Yeah.

Liz Nead
So.

Sarah Noll Wilson
It’s what a, you know, what a great, you know – so much of this is so much of your work before and still is about how do we honor differences. And, and again, I think in our culture of – American culture, I’ll be really clear because we have a very global audience. So when I’m saying our culture, –

Liz Nead
It is American.

Sarah Noll Wilson
It’s very American culture. And, you know, and – how do we create space for different rhythms and different time frames and different, you know, like, there it is such a, you know, like, this has to get done, and this has to get done and it’s so easy to feel like you’re a failure and, and, you know, and and – I’ll tell you what, like this is not I’m not saying this as any kind of comparison, this is not apples to apples, but we were talking about COVID before, and when I had gotten COVID I had experienced fatigue in a way that I’ve never experienced for months. The kind of fatigue of – it wasn’t even – I was trying to explain it to somebody and I said, it’s not even, like, oh, I’m kind of tired. It’s, I gotta find a couch now, or else I’m gonna be like sleeping on the floor or against this, like washing machine or something.

Liz Nead
And there’s no space for you to be that tired.

Sarah Noll Wilson
No.

Liz Nead
Where are you supposed to be tired? Yeah.

Sarah Noll Wilson
And even, you know, and I feel, you know, as I always have felt, you know, like, I’m very pro human. I’m very pro human experience. I’m very pro, but I feel like, even more, so now. It’s like, it’s literally nothing we’re doing is life or death. So take your time, right, like nothing?

Liz Nead
Yeah.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Nothing we’re doing is that critical and sometimes there’s so much unnecessary stress and suffering. And sometimes anger when things are just not moving as quickly or someone else isn’t, you know, moving as quickly. And it’s like, I don’t know, unless –

Liz Nead
The pressure is significant. It’s a significant pressure.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Yeah.

Liz Nead
To be productive in a very high level. It’s a lot of pressure.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Yeah and, and to that point of, I think, like, – and the expectation of how somebody will be, and that is something that I know, I’ve, as I’ve thought about you, and your journey, is – when people are used to you being at a 10, eight, nine, 10, 11. There are times when I do, you do, I do want to be at a two and then people are like, well, what’s wrong with you?

Liz Nead
What happened to you?

Sarah Noll Wilson
What happened to you? Like, I don’t know. And it’s like, no, this is the human experience. And, and how do we, you know, something I’m just chewing on as I’m sitting and reflecting about this conversation right now is, how do we continue to give more space to all shades of our human, you know, experience and what we need and how that’s different?

Liz Nead
This is something that I can, – I can offer this to anyone listening, because you don’t have to have a near death experience to live in my experience, post near death experience, which is that it’s not a race, it is not a – you don’t get up and start the race, you start – you get up and you have to get connected with the power that is you. You have to really invest in the reconnection, the putting together of the two little, you know, like hotwiring yourself, like, get up and figure that out. And don’t think of it as a waste of time. If you feel like you don’t have time to sit for five minutes with yourself, or you don’t have time to write out how you want your day to go. You know, you’re rushing through your vision board, you’re rushing through your therapy appointment, whatever it is, there’s no, there’s no blue ribbon for the person who gets through all of it. Like I did all of that for 15 years. You know, no one’s patting me on the back saying you did such a good job, I’m going to help you now. You know, you’ve been so committed for so many years, I’m going to help you now. That didn’t happen. It was like I didn’t do anything. Which was I had a good amount of anger about that. Like, where are you people? Like, I was consistent for so long. You can’t ask me what I’m doing now. Like, of course, I’m doing the same thing. And yes, I want your help. But give yourself grace. Give yourself grace, give yourself room to create and to spread your wings and make a difference and put meaning into your everyday life. Because that is the human experience we want meaning in the minutes of our day.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Have you ever written that down? Is that like a Lizism because if not it needs to be.

Liz Nead
It’s in my 1440 book.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Is it? Okay, I was like that, I was like that’s really poetic. Either this is like a core of her. Yeah, yeah. I love it. (laughs) I was like that is a mic drop moment. And I just like, Is that a Liz-ism? Because that feels like it a Liz-ism and if it’s not, I want to make sure that we repeat it so it is a Liz-ism.

Liz Nead
Thank you. Yes.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Well, Liz, I want to, I want to I feel like that’s such a beautiful, like, how do we say it again. How do we put meaning in our minutes? Is that?

Liz Nead
Yeah, we need it. We need meaning in our minutes. We really do. We’re not trying to master the planner. We’re trying to master the minutes. And there’s a lot that will come of that a lot of good that’ll come out of that.

Sarah Noll Wilson
I’m so so grateful for you. Before we like officially wind down though I do I do want to ask you the last question we always ask every guest, you know, because we always want to invite our listeners to be thinking about the same thing. And that question is what is the conversation you’ve had with yourself or with others – now you’ve shared quite a few examples already but if there’s something?

Liz Nead
Clearly I talk to myself all the time.

Sarah Noll Wilson
(laughs) But what what is the conversation you’ve had with yourself or others that was transformative for you?

Liz Nead
I mean, the big question that I’ve had it’s an ongoing conversation is why am I doing this? That is a worthy question. Why? And I don’t know, we get out of college and we start, we ask why one time, and then we go for until we’re 80. And we wonder why we lose our way. So before I do things, like put together the DEI workbook, or I put together the podcast, I’ve said if this isn’t worth your time, don’t do it, find some – another task will come and replace this and holding myself accountable for that. I can do anything I put my mind to, so it should be worth something and be driven by the passion that you’re born with. And so that is keeping me on the straight and narrow, I guess.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Yeah, I love you so much. I’m so I’m so glad –

Liz Nead
Thank you for having me!

Sarah Noll Wilson
I was so excited. I know. (laughs) I was –

Liz Nead
I knew it would be good.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Oh, yeah. No, I knew we’d be no shortage of conversation. But I also – no, I appreciate it. Because I mean, just a final note, because, you know, you and I, you and I have been very much respected colleagues for a very, very long time.

Liz Nead
For sure. Yes.

Sarah Noll Wilson
You know, a beloved colleagues might be how I describe, you know, but not necessarily like super close friends. And I will share when you reached out, that actually meant a lot. And it meant – on multiple levels. And, and it was also a really beautiful example of the power of connecting, and feeling more personally connected –

Liz Nead
Which you do very well.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Well, thank you, so do you. But that felt like, uh, oh, we haven’t had this kind of relationship. And I’m, I’m glad that we have this kind of relationship. And I’m glad that you know, we can be of support to each other in a way that is on a deeper level than just like, hey, I’m gonna recommend, you know, but just like, this has been hard, it’s hard because people are, you know, unsure and recommendations, you know, and talking about that. And what I also appreciate it is, you know, knowing that, yeah, like, you know, we were in each other’s corners. It was always true. But I don’t know, I just wanted to name I just wanted to thank you for trusting me with that. And know how much I yeah, just like I didn’t take that for granted.

Liz Nead
Yes.

Sarah Noll Wilson
And, and so I’m so glad that we got to be together today and we’ll continue to support each other. And so with that, so for people who are curious about Liz as a speaker, she’s incredible. I can attest, she’s, as you’ve heard, on this conversation, incredibly passionate, wise, has a ton of experience and so if people are listening and going, hmm, like I want to learn more about the work she’s doing, or I want to connect with her personally, or I’m looking for a speaker, what’s the best way for people to connect with you?

Liz Nead
The best way is to go to my website, which is my name, Liz Nead dot com. It’s L I Z, N as in Nancy, E A D. And you can see a full list of, a comprehensive list of my topics, plus or minus a few. But you know, it’s always evolving when you’re speaking. So I can I can, I would love to create a new topic just for you just call me. And then there’s a Contact Me page. So you can put your information there and I will call you. I have not become famous enough that I don’t return phone calls. So I would love the opportunity.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Yeah. And we’ll we’ll be sure to post all that information in the show notes so people can have access. You know, also we invite that if there’s, you know, just want to connect and share stories. That’s always – I know that you’re very open to that kind of connection.

Liz Nead
Yes, I would love that.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Yeah. So Liz, thank you so much for joining us today. I’m so grateful for you.

Liz Nead
Thank you for having me. It was really fun to talk to you.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Likewise.

Liz Nead
You’re good at what you do.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Oh, thank you. Same, same sister, same.

Our guests this week has been my dear colleague Liz Nead and one of the things that that phrase she said of healing takes humility is really resonating with me deeply today. And that’s something I want to hold on to and we want to hear from you what resonated about our conversation? You know, maybe there’s a a-ha you had or a similar experience. We’d love to hear from you. So you can always send us a message at podcast at Sarah Noll Wilson dot com. You can also find me on social media where my DMs are always open. And if you’d like to find out more about the work that we do, and how we can help your team have conversations that matter. Check us out at Sarah Noll Wilson dot com. You can also pick up a copy of my latest book, Don’t Feed the Elephants! wherever books are sold. And if you’d like to support the show, which we always appreciate, please consider becoming a patron. You can visit patreon dot com / conversations on conversations. Where not only your financial support will sustain this podcast and the amazing team that makes it possible. You also get access to some pretty great swag and other benefits.

 

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Sarah Noll Wilson is on a mission to help leaders build and rebuild teams. She aims to empower leaders to understand and honor the beautiful complexity of the humans they serve. Through her work as an Executive Coach, an in-demand Keynote Speaker, Researcher, Contributor to Harvard Business Review, and Bestselling Author of “Don’t Feed the Elephants”, Sarah helps leaders close the gap between what they intend to do and the actual impact they make. She hosts the podcast “Conversations on Conversations”, is certified in Co-Active Coaching and Conversational Intelligence, and is a frequent guest lecturer at universities. In addition to her work with organizations, Sarah is a passionate advocate for mental health.

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