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Avoiding Curveballs in Business with Pam Hird

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Avoiding Curveballs in Business with Pam Hird

What happens when you get thrown a curve ball in business? How do you bounce back and keep moving forward?

Naturopath, nutritionist, and personal trainer, Pam Hird joins us today to discuss how to recover after a business setback, when to enlist the help of a mentor, and the importance for all practitioners in avoiding burnout. 

Covered in this episode

[00:50] Welcoming Pam Hird
[01:33] Failing vs changing direction
[04:09] Keeping the endgame in mind
[06:07] Reevaluating when things go wrong
[08:16] The importance of mentorship and finding a good mentor
[13:26] Passion to sustain your career
[15:45] Avoiding burnout
[18:48] Additional resources
[19:50] Thanking Pam and closing remarks


Andrew: This is FX Medicine. I'm Andrew Whitfield-Cook. Joining us on the line today is Pam Hird. Through her expertise as a naturopath, nutritionist, and personal trainer, Pam enables women to prioritise and take control of their health and well-being. Pam has her own personal journey through high-performance sporting and career roles, where she shifted from burnout and depression to balance and bouncing forward.

Welcome to FX Medicine, Pam. How are you?

Pam: I'm good, thanks. Thanks for having me.

Andrew: Now, just like sport, you get thrown curveballs in business. Let's go through these and just recap what we spoke about at NatEx. So, what happened with your sporting career with being thrown a curveball?

Pam: I actually had a major car accident and got injured prior to some major tournaments, and from there, I really reassessed to see if playing professional sport anymore was for me.

Andrew: And then, what about in business?

Pam: In business, curveballs are thrown at any time. Some, you plan for, some you can't plan for. Particularly if something's happening in your personal life and it's sudden, you can't really plan for a curveball like that. However, you can try and plan for other things, a staff member is leaving, it could be numerous other things that's going on in the professional world as well.

Andrew: This is something that really interests me about resilience, positive mental attitude, keep going, and things like that. And this sort of aspect of “success” really interests me in that you don't hear about the people who failed along the way, you hear about the people who were successful, like the big juggernauts of positive development, things like that. And their ongoing message is, "Keep going."
However, I was saliently reminded by an ex-policeman climbing Everest. The interesting part that I took was that, at one point, he turned around to go back down, he hesitated. When he turned back to continue, his friend that was ahead of him had gone in an avalanche. Now, that says to me, at some point, it's okay to stop and reassess.

Pam: Hundred percent. And your goals are always going to change in business or in personal life as well, and it's okay if they change. Just because you don't exactly want to reach that particular thing or goal anymore doesn't mean that you failed. It just means you changed direction.

Andrew: Now, that's an interesting point. Do we now have to really think about what we would constitute as a failure of our goal, and where we just need to readjust our direction to get to that goal?

Pam: Yeah, absolutely. When you're looking at goals, you always need to look at your endgame. And your endgame can change depending on what's going on in life. So that's where you reassess and go, "Okay, maybe that's not where I want to be anymore. I need to change my direction." But you can't really say that that's failing, in a way.

Andrew: But when you've got a business plan, you'd really like to reach that end goal, the specified end goal. How do you cope? How do you plan for achieving your aims whilst still allowing curveballs?

Pam: I think you always have to keep that endgame in mind. There's always going to be something that pops up potentially that you do fail on, and it's okay to...I wouldn't say grieve in a way, but be sad about what has happened. And then, always remember that endgame. 

That's what I want to achieve, so that's what's going to motivate me to pick myself back up and keep working towards that goal, because I think it's a real test of character. How you actually, if you do have a struggle, you do get thrown a curveball, that you can actually pick yourself back up again and move forward from that.

Andrew: I wonder if part of this is actually more on an emotional aspect about forgiving yourself.

Pam: One hundred percent that you have to forgive yourself, because we're all going to make mistakes. I mean, nobody's perfect, right? So we just need to forgive, move on, and then learn from that mistake. So, what didn't work? Go back, "What didn't work that time that I did fail?" And then change that. And then just keep trying.

And then, potentially you might fail again, but you just have to keep persisting a little bit in business, because it takes time to learn. You don't know everything, and you don't know what works for you, either. What might work for you doesn't necessarily work for another person. So you really need to just keep trying and finding what works for you.

Andrew: So it's really the assessment along the way, still with that single, if you like, end goal in mind. So it's almost like if you're shooting an arrow and there's a tree in front of you, move to the side. You still want to hit the target on the other side, but you just moved your aspect so that you can still reach your target, yeah?

Pam: Absolutely. That's a really good analogy.

Andrew: Pam, what happens, though, when something happens, it's untoward, it's unseen, it's unplanned, but it might not just affect you emotionally, but what about financially? How do you stop being sad, grieving? How do you settle down the whirlwind of, "Oh, my God. Something's happened," so that you can then take a more objective approach and then carry on?

Pam: I think we just need to take a step back. Sometimes if we try and keep pushing, and pushing, and pushing, then that's when the overwhelm just becomes so much that you essentially just want to give up. So it's okay to take a step back, take some time out, and think about what has happened, and reassess. 

Obviously, it's difficult sometimes when there is a financial aspect because you have to keep working, but maybe it's just minimising your time, really prioritising what you're doing, and when you're doing it as well. You don't necessarily have to fully remove yourself.

Andrew: Yeah. Things like taking a step back, though, when there's this weight of catastrophe hanging over you, and all that you are focusing on right now is the negative, the cloud. How does one step out from under that cloud? Do you teach skills to other practitioners about what to do?

Pam: Absolutely. And sometimes you just have to face your fears as well. Like, we can't essentially run away all our life, can we? We have to face up and face the music. But there's also that element of self-care as well, of taking the step back of you're not always having to think about that bad thing that has happened or that failure that has occurred.

Simply take some time for yourself, try and calm yourself down mentally, emotionally, and just then go into it with a clear head. Because if we're feeling overwhelmed, like you sit down to your computer and you stare at it for an hour, and that's not really helping anyone. But you can take a step back, have that hour where you essentially are looking after yourself, and then move forward into the challenge you're facing.

Andrew: I would then guess...and it sort of seems counterintuitive, that at the lowest point is when you really need a mentor as well, right?

Pam: Absolutely. Somebody that you can bounce ideas off can help you work through all those kind of challenges as well. A hundred percent agree. Doesn't have to always be a mentor, though. If you've got a close network of friends that know what you're going through, too, that own a business, that have been there, that can be helpful as well.

Andrew: When you look at other practitioners, like, for instance, the audience that you spoke to at NatEx, and you hear some of their stories about things going awry, you seem to me to be an extremely driven person. I was looking at your eyes, there’s the sportsperson eagle eyes there. I've seen those before. They're scary. 

But, how do you teach this other person that's going through some adverse event to take stock, to stop? What sort of skills do you teach them?

Pam: Sometimes it can be really challenging because I've got such a driven personality, I find it hard to relate to somebody that doesn't have the same personality as me, because if I'm faced with a challenge, I just kind of take a step back and get on with it. 

But some people really need that real nurturing. And it's okay, "Let's put these steps in process, whether you're going to take a couple of days off, block out your time, try and regroup mentally, physically as well. And then, this is one, two, three, what we're going to do to move forward." It's really individual because not everybody is the same, so I think everybody deals and copes with disappointment, or failure, or curveballs in a completely different way.

Andrew: So I guess, look, just going back to that analogy about coaching and mentorship, I was thinking just before about you with your hockey. Let's say you're training goal shooting, and you're getting frustrated because of something that's not right in your technique. And you keep shooting at goal, keep shooting at goal, miss, miss, miss. Your anger is driving you now.

Now, normally in a sports example, you've got a coach there already, by your side going, "No. Listen, move your right foot back and you'll change your body angle to that so that then your splice won't happen so much," or something like that. I guess now you've got to think about single practitioners or having a small business, and you don't have a coach there and then. So now you need to find a coach. How do you find a good coach?

Pam: I think you need to find somebody that resonates with you. There's so many different coaches, they all have different expertise as well. And I think, depending on what area that you're failing in, then you need to find a coach that is obviously essentially going to help you in that specific area. SEO, marketing, or whether it's even just in your naturopathic practice, you want to obviously improve your skills there, you just really need to find the particular coach that is going to be right for you.

Andrew: So you as a speaker at NatEx, is there something that you picked up from other speakers, going, "Oh, that's interesting, I might talk to them?"

Pam: Absolutely. I mean, I loved Aimie's presentation on powerful presenting. Just her composure, particularly when she was speaking when she was really under pressure was just amazing. And I think if we can take those kinds of skills into everyday life, we would just come leaps and bounds.

Andrew: Being a presenter, being a successful business person now, having a successful practice, are you the type of person that is always on the hunt for new things that can improve your...I'm going to say performance?

Pam: Absolutely. I'm always looking to see what can help me improve, and also challenge me as well. Because I don't really like to just drift through life, I really like to be challenged and pushed out of my comfort zone so I grow as a person, and also professionally as well, to hone my skills and become better all the time.

Andrew: Now, curveballs. We've spoken about coping with them, we've spoken about planned and unplanned. What about avoiding them altogether?

Pam: Avoiding curveballs can be difficult at times. But this is where a coach can come in as well, because, essentially, they've been there, they've done that, and they can help prepare you or to just totally navigate those times where they haven't succeeded or have failed at certain things. And that's where their expertise is coming in, too. So they draw on their experience so then you don't follow in those same footsteps. Not necessarily what worked for them will work for you, but I'll try and help navigate 90% of it.

Andrew: Which do you favour, passion or aptitude, to sustain you through a career?

Pam: Passion, 100%. If you don't like what you're doing, people will see through you all the time.

Andrew: What if you don't know your passion? How do you find what you're going to be passionate about?

Pam: I think you have to explore different areas, particularly when it comes to business. When you come out of college, you don't know what you like, because you haven't experienced different areas within clinic. And it might not even be clinic that you like. You might enjoy being a rep. But until you actually do it, then you're not really 100% sure what your passion is.

Or the other way is, if you've experienced it, and you're quite passionate about what you have experienced that you feel that you can help people. Burnout, I experienced burnout, and that's my area of passion now because I can completely relate and understand how people feel when they're going through it.

Andrew: Look, I've spoken to people, as you say, that they're not doing, if you like, what they're really chosen to do. I don't really believe in a divine power, but what their real calling is. And some people that I know are really better suited to being researchers. There's one practitioner I know, even though she's an incredible diagnostician, her calling is massage, and there is nobody that massages like this woman. Having said that, if you're not doing your passion, I guess you're headed really for burnout, right? You've got experience in this.

Pam: A hundred percent, because every day feels like a drag. You get up, you don't want to go to work, you're just pretty much going through the motions. And people can see that you're not happy, and then it just leads to a whole range of different problems. Then you just don't attract clients, you're not earning money, all of those kinds of things, and then you're stressing yourself out because you don't have any clients.

So it's a bit of a vicious circle you go round and round in. But finding your passion may take a little bit of time. You talked about research. Sometimes job opportunities don't really come up that often for that role, so you don't really know if you like it or not.

Andrew: I've heard you mention quite a few times now 100%. What happens when you need 110%, 120%, that as much as you can give is just not enough? What's your advice to clinicians who are really headed for burnout?

Pam: I think if you're giving 100% and things aren't working for you, then you really need to reassess what you're doing and why you're doing it. Because burnout is not a fun place at all, and many of us practitioners have experienced it or are experiencing it, because we just push ourselves so hard, and we just give, and give, and give without actually giving back to ourself. 

So, if you're pushing and things aren't working, reassess. "Where is it that I want to be? Is this really for me? Do I need to get somebody in to help me?" That's where a business coach could come into play, as well, and really start to figure out what you want.

Andrew: Now, I guess, also, you've suffered burnout, you're now back from burnout, and you've got a successful practice. Are you attuned now to the symptoms about, "Uh-oh, I'm giving 100%, it's not working for me.” Are you more attuned to these signs and symptoms, the warning signs of burnout so that you can then take appropriate action?

Pam: Yeah, absolutely. I am very in tune with my body, and knowing when I'm reaching that point. But the high achiever and the really driven person in me sometimes finds it very difficult to stop or take a step back. And I don't want to hit rock bottom again because that was horrible. I was at the stage where I actually couldn't get out of bed. That's how bad I was.

Andrew: Wow.

Pam: Yeah. And I'd set two alarms for work. I'd sleep through both of those alarms. So you can imagine what impact that had on my life, particularly I didn't want to lose my job at the time as well, so I really had to put things in place to try and help me avoid that in the future, too. Stop doing so much. I think the biggest thing is you don't have to say yes to everything, and I think sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to everything. But saying no is okay. It's totally okay.

Andrew: Do you use analogies from your sporting life, like, for instance, just what you said, that sometimes it's okay to say no, and you do what serves you? Like, for instance, in your sporting life, you use a technique which works for you. Do you find that you listen to those analogies, if you like, that you have the lessons that you learnt from your sporting life and use those in your business life?

Pam: Yeah, absolutely. All the time. But I think more on to the perspective of being very, very driven, of how to change your course, and to how to just manoeuvre the zigzag through business life, because it's not a straight line. It's not perfect. And just like playing sport, it's never perfect. You're never going to get selected...well, most times, you're not going to get selected for every single team you go for, either.

Andrew: Pam, what about further resources for naturopaths who may be headed in the wrong direction, feeling the overwhelm of business pressures, of their career pressures, where do they go to seek help? Have you got any further resources?

Pam: Yeah. On my website, I've got a resource, Eating for Energy, and also some recipes in relation to helping with your cortisol and burnout, because they're high in specific nutrients that you need. And, also, a blog on What is cortisol imbalance, what science do I need to look out for, and what can I do to help myself?

Because even though that we're in the field of natural medicine and helping people, I think it's really important that we are reminded of these things sometimes as well. We all know that, but we just need that gentle reminders to think, "Oh, yeah. Jeez. That's right. That's what's happening to me. I need to make some changes so I don't end up completely burnt out."

Andrew: Time for us each to care for the carer, to care for ourselves.

Pam: Absolutely.

Andrew: You can reference Pam's work at her website, pamhird.com. And we'll be putting up other resources and links on the FX Medicine website for everyone to access. 

Pam Hird, thank you so much for joining us on FX Medicine today.

Pam: Thanks so much for having me.

Andrew: This is FX Medicine. I'm Andrew Whitfield-Cook.



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FX Medicine is at the forefront of ensuring functional and integrative medicine gains the recognition it deserves and ultimately establishes itself as an integral part of standard medical practice. Hosted by Dr Adrian Lopresti, Dr Michelle Woolhouse, Dr Damian Kristof and Emma Sutherland, our podcasts are designed to promote research and evidence-based therapeutic practises, acting as a progressive force for change and improvement in patient health and wellbeing.