Introduce yourself to our audience. Tell us who you are and what you are currently focused on.
I am Ruth Pearce and I am a Thrive Programme Consultant as well as a Project Manager Coach. I am a wife, step-mother and a grandmother(!) I am also the loving owner of a feisty wheaten terrier named Milo. I never like to be focused on just one thing! Currently, I am building up my business as a Thrive Programme Consultant - which is a coaching program for people who have anxiety or phobias, or just need to learn to better manage their thinking and emotions in order to get the most out of life. In parallel, I am working on a book for Project Managers to help them build team engagement.
How would you define your professional mission?
I am passionate about helping people be the best that they can be. Nothing gives me as much pleasure and satisfaction as seeing someone reach their goals, break through a perceived barrier or overcome a lifetime of negative self-talk and limiting beliefs. Helping people be the best that they can be is a very broad mission. To be effective, I concentrate on two areas. The first, based on over twenty years of experience and much education, is helping Project Managers to be as effective as they can while still having fun. I am working on a book called The Project Manager Effect: From Organizing to Energizing. My second focus is on coaching clients through the Thrive Programme. After experiencing the program for myself, I decided to pursue this passion by becoming a Thrive Programme Consultant. The program, which was created in the U.K., has helped thousands – including me – to overcome anxiety, stress, and depression.
What qualities does it take for someone to be successful in your line of work?
It takes empathy combined with a willingness to push people to move past their preconceived limits. Empathy alone can leave someone stuck in a place they don’t want to be, but with a push from the right person, they can overcome and move past obstacles to become the person they long to be. Whether I am coaching project managers or coaching people struggling with anxiety, I need to be engaged, present in the moment – giving my full attention to the person I am coaching – and sensitive to their emotions.
What is one of your most memorable career accomplishments?
It is hard to pick just one. I think the day I realized that I had helped a team get back on its feet and become truly effective would be one I would pick. It has taken a few years to identify HOW I was able to help them, but in that moment when I realized that our team was regarded as an example of how teams should be, I felt a great sense of pride. A close second is a day that my Thrive Programme trainer said the words “That’s it, you are ready” I danced around the room. I could now do for others what my Thrive Consultant did for me! The training took six months in addition to the time it took for me to complete the program successfully. I had a tremendous sense of accomplishment when the training was complete.
What are some career challenges on your radar?
The biggest challenges on my radar are finding effective ways to get the word out and to help as many people as I can.
What project have you worked on that you’re most proud of? Why?
This is a tough question to answer. As a program manager, I have worked with teams in trouble, and I am always proud and happy when those teams get back on track and enjoy higher performance and most importantly satisfaction with their work. Also as a program manager, there are some really special projects that I have had the privilege to work on such as the Embodied Positive Psychology Summit. There is nothing like the culmination of all the work that brings speakers, attendees and support staff together to experience three days of connection and community. If I have to choose though, I would say seeing my first Thrive Programme client get to grips with anxiety and start to take back control of life. To see someone else flourish and know that I have played part in that is very rewarding.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Seeing other people take control of the way they live their lives and to flourish and thrive!
What legacy do you hope to leave through your work?
I hope to help as many people as possible feel empowered, strong and capable whatever role or situation they find themselves in. Every person who is able to be their best is someone who can help shape the future and make it better.
What is it about your job that makes you feel it’s the right fit for you?
It is fulfilling, challenging and intellectually stimulating. Helping others to help themselves is enormously rewarding. In both my areas of coaching, I feel I am using my experience and training to best effect, helping many people to become more engaged and satisfied with life.
Who are your role models?
My father is a big role model for me. He worked hard, treated all people even-handedly, he was a life-long learner, and he did everything he did despite suffering from OCD. There is a woman in my area who created an amazing social justice organization – Multicultural Bridge. Gwendolyn is tireless, seemingly fearless and she is determined and yet she is open and fair. Of course, I admire people like Gandhi, the Obamas, Malala. Generally, my role models stand up for what they believe, and treat all people with caring and respect.
What would you say your personal superpower is?
Bravery. I have had to use it often to accomplish things when they seemed impossible because of my phobia. Now I use it to speak out when it is hard to do so and to try new things even when they are intimidating – like starting a new company or speaking at a large conference!
Is work-life balance a problem for you? What is one no-fail tactic you use to create balance?
I am fortunate that I love my work. I don’t see it as something that must be balanced against other parts of my life. In fact, it saddens me that we have this pre-conceived notion that work is a negative and life is the positive that we are all trying to get more of. Work is such a big part of most peoples’ day that it needs to be fulfilling. For example, research by Amy Wrzesniewski that focused on custodial staff in hospitals has shown that we can all craft our work to be meaningful, that people can be happy in many jobs if they see the value in it. The staff in the study who were truly engaged, did not see their job as just being a custodian, they saw it as patient care and invested time and effort in doing it well and making a connection to the patients they were serving.
What is the best career advice you ever received?
Many years ago, my father told me to “get comfortable with being uncomfortable”. I was about to give a presentation to a group of about 30 people and I was very nervous. I had seen him speak often and he was confident and funny. I was sure that he had no anxiety whatever. He quickly corrected me and said that he expected to have anxiety when he spoke. He said it is normal, and it keeps us on our toes. It prevents complacency and lack of preparation. He said there are times when we should feel nervous, and at those times we should accept the feeling as part of life. That advice has stuck with me and has been useful in many situations such as when I have had to have difficult conversations with team members or had to challenge the wisdom of a management decision.
What is one piece of advice you’d offer working moms?
My advice is hardly new! Take time for yourself. We are often drawn into focusing on the others in our lives – whether family or work colleagues. But in all cases, the value is in the quality of the time we spend not the quantity of time. Giving three hours of your time to your children when you are exhausted, or you begrudge the time spent is not worth nearly as much as 60 minutes of undivided attention that you are focusing on what the other person needs. If you have three hours to play with, use two of them for you! As the flight attendants say, “put on your own oxygen mask first before helping others”.
Tell us about your favorite Ellevate Network memory or success story. Why are you a member?
I have just reached my 6-month mark as an Ellevate member, and so far I have participated in quite a few of the online webinars but have not yet been able to attend an in-person event. I am really impressed by the quality of the webinars, and the accessibility. This month though I am happy to be attending the NYC conference. I cannot wait to meet some of my fellow Ellevate members in person! I am really impressed by the Ellevate team, and their responsiveness, and the friendliness and supportive environment that Ellevate creates so well.