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One of the biggest challenges to self-care is that it means different things to different people. 

Is it bubble baths and facials? Nice vacations and or buying a coveted outfit or pair of shoes? Or is it advocating for reasonable wages and safe working conditions? 

For some, self-care is a justification to splurge or just take a dang day off when a justification sadly should not be needed. For others, self-care is a means of survival and maintaining the capacity to keep moving forward when things feel bleak.

And all too often, self-care is now presented with an individualist lens that puts the onus firmly on us and ignores the systemic influences that get in the way of caring for ourselves, and the  very real need for community and support in our lives.

Self-care is not a problem that can be solved through consumption or a prescriptive plan but is both an individual practice and deeply relational and connected to the communal.

So when I read an article by today’s guest about how we need to stop framing wellness programs around Self Care, I reached out and invited her to join me on the show. 

Dr. Michelle Barton is an Associate Professor at the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School with expertise in organizational and team resilience, managing uncertainty, and interpersonal effectiveness during adversity.

Drawing from wildland firefighting, high-tech entrepreneurship, expedition racing, and military operations, her research considers how groups make sense of ambiguous situations, how they coordinate, learn and share knowledge in the midst of confusion, and how they mitigate and recover from adversity. She is especially focused on the relational dynamics that enable these practices.

Dr. Barton’s research has appeared in many academic and practitioner journals and she has presented her work at venues such as NASA, the U.S. Army Medical Command, Johns Hopkins University Patient Safety Conference, and Boston Medical Center among others. 

Listen to the full episode to hear:

  • Why relationships and connectedness are actually the keys to resilience
  • How popular framings of grit and resilience ignore our agency in the face of adversity
  • Why we need to place the burden on systems and organizations for creating environments where we don’t need to be as resilient
  • Why leaders who help their teams grapple with negative emotions collectively have better outcomes
  • How to foster connection within organizations before there’s a crisis

Learn more about Dr. Michelle Barton:

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meet the founder

I’m Rebecca Ching, LMFT.

I help change-making leaders get to the root of recurring struggles and get confidently back on track with your values, your vision, and your bottom line. 

I combine psychotherapeutic principles, future-forward coaching, and healthy business practices to meet the unique needs and challenges of highly-committed leaders in a high-stakes world.

This is unburdened leadership

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Everybody’s carrying a burden that’s weighing them down. If you dare to care, it is inevitable you will end up carrying the burdens from grief, betrayal, and rejection. And these burdens are often unseen. These invisible struggles fuel loneliness, shame, and despair. Eventually, the unaddressed burdens we carry start to impact our ability to live […]


EP 27: Frank Anderson, MD – Challenging the Fear of Rejection and Leading with Vulnerability – Part 1

We watch leaders crash & burn all the time. We watch with morbid fascination as leaders fall out of grace because their unaddressed pain led them on an unsustainable path of poor choices–even dangerous and deadly choices–to avoid feeling the vulnerability of rejection. Those times when you experienced the pain of rejection leave their mark […]


EP 21: Leading With Body Resilience with Co-Author of More Than A Body, Lindsay Kite, PhD

Caring about those you lead means caring about the harm you may unknowingly be doing. Many of us who fit western standards of beauty and live in conventionally abled bodies don’t understand how our choices can cause pain. We’ve internalized ableism and fat-phobia to the point where we can’t even grasp how our words & […]

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EP 19: Defining Your Own Version Success with Natalie Borton, Founder of Natalie Borton Designs

The quickest way to crash and burn your business and life is to place your worthiness and safety with the opinions of others. This may sound like a captain-obvious statement but the pull to care what others think is something fierce. And it is sneaky. The competitive drive is no stranger to many of you. […]

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EP 17: Community Over Competition with Co-Founder of The Rising Tide Society Natalie Franke

Community over competition is indeed a well-worn hashtag. The cynical can dismiss it. Those beat up by year after year of injustice understandably call BS. But in practice, leading with the lens of community over competition is subversive and culture-shifting. Community over competition requires deep life-long work to unburden the load we carry of scarcity […]

Leading Teams

EP 02: How Self-Leadership Saves You From The Relentless Drive To Succeed with Dr. Richard Schwartz

My body was telling me to take a step back and reevaluate. Five years ago I had pneumonia and I couldn’t really do anything other than prop myself up on the couch and breathe… …breathe and think about how I ended up in this mess I’d run myself into the ground. My schedule was full-to-overflowing. […]


And clearing the way for a more innovative, inclusive future.

Unburdened Leaders are breaking
cycles of workplace burnout…

Are you about this, too? Let’s meet and see if I’m your coach – no expectations. Just connection.