Crafting a career in the face of chronic illness
By Fred Diamond
Being successful in any career when you have a chronic illness, such as Lyme disease, is a challenge. Performing at a high level of excellence is even more of a challenge.
On my Sales Game Changers Podcast, I frequently interview people who have achieved sales or business success while battling chronic illness.
She helps women with chronic illness optimize their career opportunities and teaches them how to not be held hostage to the pain and effects of the disease they may have. An endometriosis survivor, she has been through the journey herself and is committed to helping women achieve their goals.
I started the interview by asking her why women come to her for help.
How to speak about your experience
She said, “They come to me looking for a way to speak and share their story and find the flow in their life and in their careers and with their families. The first thing we do is identify how to speak about the things that they’re experiencing and how to articulate that to themselves, then to their family members and then to those that they work for because it looks different and a lot of that has to do with acceptance.”
I asked her what some of the first steps to take are.
She said, “Make sure that what you’re doing careerwise aligns with what their reality is. Learn how to figure out where their ebbs and flows of energy are. It goes back to the communication piece of explaining to their coworkers or to their mate or to their business partner that on certain times of the day or week, I need this much capacity to do and take care of myself. A lot of what I do is work through the communication and setting up the boundaries and the systems that support them.”
A large part of being successful is having others understand what you’re going through.
Nikita said, “Tell your leaders and coworkers how this affects you because Lyme disease, fibromyalgia, endometriosis, for example, affects each person differently. Tell them how this shows up in your life.”
One step at a time
I asked her what some things are to do to maintain success.
Nikita said, “Take it a step at a time as far as your energy and your health. We can find ourselves trying too many things to compensate for our challenges with energy and fatigue and brain fog. When you add on the stress of dealing with figuring out what will work for you, it can add more stress than you need to.
“Identify one or two areas to either stop, modify, or delegate. For many of them, that requires making sure they get enough rest, even though that might feel hard. It means taking care of their nutrients and making sure that they’re eating and drinking plenty of water. It’s the simple things that we all take for granted but we can’t not do them because they really do affect our ability to show up even in that kind of grind, if you will, of the day to day in that corporate sales environment.”
She shared that a big part of the success equation is having a positive mindset, even when things are tough.
“I use positive psychology as the basis for what I teach and help my clients to take action on. There are a few more than three negative things that are affecting us at any given time. Research has shown that three negative events can outweigh any positive one.”
Give yourself grace
To wrap up, I asked her if it’s really possible to have a successful career when you have chronic illness.
Nikita said, “It’s interesting you ask that question. It’s about overcoming, but it’s more about learning to live in the excellence. If you live with a chronic illness, nine times out of 10, it is a lifelong thing. There is no cure. But if you can learn to live and thrive despite those challenges, being able to articulate your boundaries, take care of your needs, and really give yourself the grace when there is needed grace for yourself, you can succeed.”
She concluded, “I do definitely think there are amazing women and men out there who are completely successful in what they do because of them taking care of the things that are most important in their journey. I just think it’s not necessarily overcoming, it’s learning how to live through it.”
Fred Diamond is based in Fairfax, VA and can be contacted via Facebook. His book, “Love, Hope, Lyme: What Family Members, Partners, and Friends Who Love a Chronic Lyme Survivor Need to Know” is available on Amazon. The e-version of the book is free to Lyme survivors. Reach out to Fred on Facebook for your copy.