The theme for Black History Month is Black Health and Wellness, and who better to talk to than the dynamic firestarter, Terri Broussard Williams
, whom I wrote about previously
. She is not only a powerful and inspiring leader, speaker, author, and entrepreneur, but she’s also the founder of The Great Me-Set™.
In response to The Great Reset that was not only the name of the 2020 World Economic Forum focusing on rebuilding society and the global economy post-pandemic, for many of us, it was also a time to rethink how we did...well, life. You know...that little thing.
And that little thing encompasses our work, our family life, our self-care, our schedules, our health, and our drinking, eating, and sleeping (for those of us who were sleeping). I’m tired already! But actually, before we can do a reset, we need to do a Me-Set, which centers on health and wellness foundationally. This gave me a great excuse to talk to Terri about her work with organizations this month (and beyond) and ways we can all incorporate better health and wellness strategies into our lives.
Can you share your high-level background and the reasons wellness is important to you?
In my day-to-day work, I’m a public policy professional who is also a busy entrepreneur, and my driving motivation in whatever I do is to create and contribute to movements that positively impact people and communities—social movements for good.
In my early days as a lobbyist, I was often the only Black woman in the room. So much of what I do takes heart, mind, and passion—and in order to be successful, I also need to connect to other people’s hearts, minds, and souls. So, to be able to do this, I need to be present, which is what inspired me to create a formula called The Great Me-Set™. You can’t create change in yourself—much less in your communities—if you’re depleted emotionally or physically. I have found that by slowing down and honoring my time, I am beginning to truly thrive as a leader and am living in a whole different way.
What was one of the biggest mistakes that you made when you did not take wellness or self-care into consideration? What was the end result?
A few years ago, I felt like I was on a hamster wheel and couldn’t get off. I was in a leadership position at an international organization, and I was just going, going, going. I was successful and was crushing all of my professional goals, but I wasn’t paying attention to my body—I felt like I didn’t have the time. I even told my mom that I was going too fast.
Shortly after that, I had a major concussion—the ramifications of which I’m still dealing with—so the lesson I learned was that if you don’t slow yourself down, the universe will do it for you. It will remind you—as it did me—to stop, recover, renew, and realign with your purpose. After that, I changed the way I did things, which led to creating The Great Me-Set™.
How are you integrating wellness into your routine?
I really strive to be intentional, so I start every day with 30 minutes of meditation—or at least just some time for myself. Then, throughout the day, I make sure to weave in mindful moments that help me slow down and stay connected. I also exercise regularly, which means working out with a trainer for a half hour, twice a week. I’m probably in the best shape I’ve been in since high school!
Additionally, I focus on eating well, which to me means plant-based. I may have a cheat day once a month, but eating well keeps me feeling energized, which then helps me energize others. Those are the core things that I do daily, but there are other actions that focus on sleep, self-care, and relationships that I prioritize because it helps me affect the kind of change I want to see in the world.
What are a few things that you wished someone would have told you earlier in your career about wellness and taking care of yourself?
I come from a family in Southwest Louisiana, where my grandparents worked in cotton fields and then worked as a school janitor and a school cafeteria manager. They were truly hardworking people. To them, wellness was having food on the table that was plentiful. Now, we know that that truly isn’t enough. Too much of the wrong food can lead to obesity, diabetes, and other issues.
Then, when I was younger in my career, I would aggressively take on a health challenge but then I would burn out. It wasn’t sustainable. Now, I tell myself that wellness is like striving for a gold medal (holistically) versus just being good at one thing, like being on a treadmill for an hour every day.
Now, I choose to do the best that I can every day consistently, versus aggressively choosing a trend or fad that I feel like I have to do instead of one I want to do. I don’t win when I do that.
What do you believe managers and executives could be doing to improve health and well-being at work?
It used to be that no one talked about therapy or meditation at work. No one talked about making sure to reserve some time on your calendar to refresh and recharge before going to your next big meeting. But now, research shows that all of those things are important. So if, as business leaders, we turn to research to make multibillion-dollar decisions about companies, why don’t we do that for the most important capital a company has, which is human beings?
So, to that end, I think that more meetings need to start from a place of meditation, and it can be optional because not everyone believes in meditation. (I didn’t when I was in my 20s!) But every meeting should start with some way to hit the refresh button.
The more that companies and individuals can build in these practices as things that are helpful for businesses and their missions, the more they will become commonplace.
How can others follow your work?
You can find out more about the work I do to inspire individuals, communities, and companies on my website
. For more information about The Great Me-Set™, you can read tips and tools here
. And if you want to get and stay inspired, you can purchase my best-selling book Find Your Fire