Carla Looper

Why Balance is Boring: With Carla Looper

These past couple of years have been out of balance… and even chaotic! Chaos naturally makes us search for some balance in our lives, but maybe balance isn’t exactly what we need right now.

Our guest on today’s episode of The Frame of Mind Coaching™ Podcast is Carla Looper, Owner and Founder of Looper Insurance Agency. Carla has been craving more work-life balance. She sees her friends, family and coworkers carrying on at work as if nothing else is happening, making her think that everyone else has attained balance.

In reality, everyone is dealing with all kinds of things. Listen as I share why a lifetime of balance in just plain boring. These days, we haven’t been experiencing balance, but resilience instead.

Episode Transcript

[00:00:00] Kim Ades: Hello, hello. My name is Kim Ades, I am the President and Founder of Frame of Mind Coaching and the Co-founder of The Journal That Talks Back. You have just joined us on The Frame of Mind Coaching Podcast, where we invite leaders from all over the world to come onto the podcast and get coached live and in-person.

Today it's my pleasure to introduce to you our guest. Her name is Carla Looper and she is the Founder and Owner of a company called Looper Insurance, all the way from Tampa Bay. Carla, welcome!

[00:00:37] Carla Looper: Thank you, Kim. I'm glad to be here. I'm pretty excited to be able to talk about what we do and work-life balance and the things that we talked about the other day, just a little bit.

[00:00:48] Kim Ades: Yes, Carla and I spoke briefly and what I want to do is first start off by saying, Carla, tell us a little bit about Looper Insurance. Who do you serve? What kind of insurance do you supply? Give us a little bit of an update on who you are and what you're up to.

[00:01:03] Carla Looper: Well, Looper Insurance Agency is a full service health benefits agency. I have been in business for six years. Prior to that, I was working for another company for 13 years, and then I have an extensive background in Human Resources, and like I said, sales with the employee benefits. So what we do is we do all the ancillary products, if you're not familiar with things like that, and major medical, which is a hot topic all the time nowadays.

[00:01:35] Kim Ades: Especially now.

[00:01:37] Carla Looper: Yeah, right? It really is.

[00:01:39] Kim Ades: Yeah. Okay. And on a personal level, you're living in Tampa Bay, give us like a bit of a status update. Married? Kids? Divorced? What's your current status?

[00:01:56] Carla Looper: My current status is I have been in the Tampa Bay area for 40 years. I have been married for... It would have been 31 years, this March. I'm recently separated. So we're showing a little bit of vulnerability here. [Laughs]

[00:02:14] Kim Ades: Thank you.

[00:02:15] Carla Looper: I have three adult children, four grandchildren, and they are the joy of my life. There are a lot of fun. I really have a wonderful time with my grandkids.

[00:02:28] Kim Ades: Okay, amazing. So, Tampa Bay for 40 years, and you've written a book, is that accurate?

[00:02:40] Carla Looper: No, I have not written a book yet. I'm working on my book. It should release this year. And that's my goal, hopefully by June.

[00:02:48] Kim Ades: Okay, amazing. And what is your book about? Just so that the audience can keep an eye out for it.

[00:02:56] Carla Looper: My book is basically overcoming... young women, middle-aged women, basically overcoming anxiety, overcoming obstacles in the workforce.

[00:03:12] Kim Ades: Okay, great.

[00:03:12] Carla Looper: But it's very important, I'm very passionate about that piece of it. I'm sorry. Go ahead, Kim.

[00:03:18] Kim Ades: I know that's great. That's great. I think that anxiety is a huge topic.

[00:03:21] Carla Looper: I didn't hear you.

[00:03:22] Kim Ades: Anxiety is a huge topic right now. And so it's timely and appropiate.

[00:03:32] Carla Looper: I think it's timely and appropiate, especially with the high rate of suicide that's out there that we see rising, mental health, the things that are going on behind that. I know when I first started having panic attacks in my early twenties, due to a lot of things in my life, that there wasn't a lot of help, nobody really talked about that issue.

And in the benefits world, it really wasn't looked at either. And they didn't offer a lot of health benefits on that platform for the mental health portion of it. And now we are starting to highlight at more, we're starting to talk about it more. So I'm happy about that.

[00:04:11] Kim Ades: Absolutely. And you know what? As I mentioned many times on this podcast, that is one of the primary reasons that we launched The Journal That Talks Back, specifically to help young professionals deal with all of the ups and downs of their professional careers, but also their personal lives too.

We find that young people right now are struggling more than ever, and so we're there to support them specifically with that. So we're on the same page, we're aligned. I love that. So let's turn a corner here. Just tell me, what is the challenge you want to talk about today?

[00:04:49] Carla Looper: Well, the challenge I think that I have, or I think a lot of people have, whether they actually bring it to the lone light or not, and that is what we've faced since COVID started. We've encountered a whole new world, a little bit of... kind of like what we went as a day.

Okay. So we've got the zoom meetings. We're using a lot of technology where we weren't doing that before, we were meeting in person, so that brought a whole new set of stressors to the workforce. And prime example today if technology doesn't do what you want it to do, it creates stress before you even have the meeting, right?

So, with the different obstacles that, I think, with the benefits world, we used to meet in person, like I said, we're not doing that now, we're doing the Zoom meetings, we're preparing everything, the enrollments, and that's all fine. But what you're not seeing either is a lot of people are working from home, it's compounded by a couple of different things, you know?

A good example, when we talk a little bit... let me rabbit trail here, talk a little bit about that book that I was talking about earlier that I'm writing is where everybody could get away and escape their family, right? Or family life, if you will. You're not getting to do that now, you're home, you're with the kids, you're with the animals, everything is there, so you're not getting to escape that.

And you're creating a lot more stress and we're seeing that in the workplace. And we're also seeing what it's like for the population to integrate back into the workplace from being remote, and that's making a big impact as far as stressors go as well.

So when I come in, I like to try to go over a wellness program and things that are going to benefit the employees, not just in their benefit package for the normal things that we go for, our physicals every single year and things like that, but really I'm very passionate about that mental health piece on there.

And with me, I experienced a lot of death during COVID. I lost my brother to cancer, he didn't die of COVID, but he was very weak during that time. And this is something that all of your business owners may have experienced, maybe not, I shouldn't say "all", but they've experienced COVID in some form or another, like they say one in three people you know have cancer as well. I can guarantee you one in three people you know have experienced COVID, COVID death, COVID related problems, and those stresses are huge.

[00:07:29] Kim Ades: How is it impacting you? So what's your challenge? What's the thing that you want to talk about with respect to you? Is it that, you know, all of this change, you've experienced a bunch of loss in your personal life, in your family, your brother? What is the challenge that is... We all have challenges, right? What's the one that's at the front of your thoughts right now?

[00:07:58] Carla Looper: Well, I would say what is at the front of my wheelhouse right now is you think you're moving through all of those things, you know, those personal things play a part into your work life. It doesn't matter what position you hold in an organization, they play a big part in your work life.

And so, the thing is having coping skills to be able to share with employees and organizations. I think is huge because not everybody can come back to work in three days of bereavement. They cannot come back in three days from being separated or going through divorce or the problems with their children at school or any of these different things that they're being faced with, and that's where that work-life, I want to say balance, you know, 'cause we all want that work-life balance.

I hear so many HR people say, "oh, we have work-life balance here". Well, you know, define that. What is that for you? Because what it might be for you, it's not going to be what it is for me. So my challenge is I run an organization, I have to show up, I have to show up whether I want to crawl under the covers and go back in the hole, if you will, I still have to show up.

So it's creating those work-life situations where those people are comfortable and they can talk to you and they can be vulnerable. And I think we're getting there, where we can actually be more open-minded and listen to them and figure out how, what can we do to make the world at work better?

So for me, being the CEO of my organization, I have to reach out to my coach, right? Because I need someone to help me to lead my organization better or to give me coping skills or mechanisms that are gonna work best for me. And so that's what I do.

I have a great coach, Barbie, I mentioned her earlier to you before we got on the show today, and she has been instrumental and actually giving me different leadership skills, letting me be able to recognize my weak areas, and get away from your ego. You have to get away from your ego. You have to be able to go in deep and look at, what am I doing wrong? What can I do better? And be able to implement those things within your organization.

[00:10:21] Kim Ades: Yeah. So let's kind of back up a bit, 'cause you threw a lot out there and I think it's very interesting. The first thing you talked about was work-life balance and you said "everybody talks about work-life balance", but what is that? How do you actually define it? And it's funny because I've always said to my clients, to the coaches that are on the team, you know, we're not actually here to help people achieve work-life. And it's a fallacy and I'll explain to you why, right?

What happens when things are in perfect balance? Like, imagine you're in a playground, and I know those of you who are listening have probably heard this from me a million times before, but let's do it again. What happens when there are two kids on a playground, on a seesaw and they're in perfect balance? Carla, what's happening right now?

[00:11:10] Carla Looper: Well, I'm listening to you, so when they're in perfect balance, they're fine.

[00:11:17] Kim Ades: But what's happening? Do you see anything happening in front of you?

[00:11:21] Carla Looper: Well, there is no movement.

[00:11:23] Kim Ades: Exactly! Exactly. Exactly. Nothing's happening! Right? There's no motion, there's no progress. There's no motion, there's no action, there's no anything, we're not going anywhere. Right? So when we look at balance, we want moments of balance, we want moments when we're breathing and, you know, taking a breath, taking a pause, taking a stall, moments of stillness. But we don't want a lifetime of stillness.

We don't want a lifetime of perfect balance. We want to be on the ride, right? We want the ups and downs of the seesaw, that's why we get on the seesaw, right? So we're not after work-life balance. That's first and foremost. The question is, so the right gets bumpy sometimes, right? And certainly lately the ride has been super bumpy. Would you agree?

[00:12:12] Carla Looper: Yeah.

[00:12:12] Kim Ades: Super bumpy. And so the question isn't how do I get balance, it's how do I enjoy the ride. How do I not feel sick on this ride? How do I not just crave getting off? This is the ride. I'm on this ride. And you know, some of the questions that show up could be, is this the ride I want to be on? Is there another ride that's more fun? But it's never, "I want to just stop riding", right? "I just want to stop", right?

[00:12:43] Carla Looper: Yeah.

[00:12:44] Kim Ades: That's not what we're going for. And so we want to start asking questions. Is this the right ride for you? Now, even if you're on the ride, it's still going to get rocky, whatever ride you're on. They're all rocky, they all have bumps along the way. So now the question becomes, how do we fortify you to handle the bumps? So that they don't feel so painful, so you don't feel sick, so you're actually having fun that you're enjoying the experience. And that's the question, right?

And so in order for us to enjoy the experience, in order for us to enjoy the ride, including the bumps, we need a certain level of emotional resilience. And that resilience comes when we are able to interpret what's happening in a way that serves us. Because if we interpret what's happening as terrible, horrible, awful, like we're just getting beaten up time and time and over and over and over again, then it's not fun. It's just not fun.

[00:13:44] Carla Looper: No, it's not fun.

[00:13:46] Kim Ades: Right. So the way we interpret what is happening in front of us will determine how we feel and how we enjoy the experience. And so the issue I see in the world, and maybe with you too, Carla, is that... it's been bleak, it's been hard to interpret things in a bright, shiny way. It's just been hard.

[00:14:12] Carla Looper: Extremely.

[00:14:13] Kim Ades: Right? But that's the work that we need to do, is to be able to kind of take our experiences and say, okay, so where does this take me? What is this good for? Literally, not sarcastically. "Good for nothing", right? What is it actually good for? How does this serve me? Where does this bring me? What has this taught me? How does this strengthen me? How does this take me to the next place? What do I do with this?

And so, kind of backing up, the real lesson here is that people who achieve extraordinary goals-- forget about goals, people who live lives that are full of joy, full of enthusiasm, full of a sense of peace, which is really what you're talking about, as opposed to balance, we're looking for peace. We're looking to be okay with the world.

People who live that way are able to interpret their experiences differently from others. They have a much, much higher level of emotional resilience. And by emotional resilience, you know, they get knocked down, but not only do they get back up again, they do something with that experience, they turn it into some kind of advantage, some kind of a gift, some kind of a purpose, right?

So the way we interpret everything will determine how we feel, including whether or not we feel anxious or stressed. And again, sharing with the audience, right before this call we were having some technical difficulties. We couldn't get onto this Zoom call with ease, it took us about 40 minutes to get here. Right?

We rode it out, it was fine, no problem. We got here, we're here now, we have a little bit less time than we anticipated, but I'm so excited about meeting you. I know that this is the beginning of a great relationship moving forward, right?

[00:16:00] Carla Looper: I'm very excited about that.

[00:16:03] Kim Ades: I don't feel anxious.

[00:16:04] Carla Looper: Oh, no, I'm not-- yeah, I'm not stressed about that. I was, wow-- I'd be lying, I was a little frustrated about the technology piece of it because I didn't want to get on and I wanted us to be able to share, but it is all about being resilient, you know? And I completely agree with you on that piece of it.

I can honestly say sometimes I feel like I'm the queen of resilience, because, just to give you a little history on that piece, when you grow up in an abusive household, and I'm very open about that, and you're young, you become very aware of all your surroundings. Like you're watching everything, so you're on high alert all the time.

And you have to bounce back from that. So that's one thing. If you're going through... I hate to put it this way, but say you come home from school and you just don't know what-- you never know the eggshells you're on. And you have to learn that resilient piece of it.

And then as you're going through your life, you're going to get hit with all those potholes in the road that we discussed earlier, and you have to learn how to navigate through that. And that's not always easy and not everybody can, and not everybody gets back up. Some people get very paralyzed in that place.

[00:17:20] Kim Ades: Yes.

[00:17:20] Carla Looper: And how to come back up out of that, and that's something about what I told you I'm writing the book, that speaks a lot on the different challenges that I faced in that area. And the same thing in the work arena, you know?

Insurance was a world of work for men when I first came into this, to be perfectly honest. It's very cutting edge. It's funny that we're in women history month, and we're talking today on this because it's changed quite a bit. But you have to be resilient, you know? And you're going to get used to the word "no", and bounce back from that.

[00:17:55] Kim Ades: You know what I hear when I hear "no"? I hear two things. I hear "no, not right now". That doesn't mean no. Right? So I just hear "no, not right now". And I also hear "next", so that means it doesn't matter, there's going to be another one and another one and another one like this. This isn't the end of all my opportunities, there's always something else.

[00:18:16] Carla Looper: And I like what you say, "I hear 'next'" because I hear "I can", you know? It's like, okay, I understand that there's a "no" there, but I still think I can, so maybe let's do a work around and see what can happen.

[00:18:31] Kim Ades: Right. But what you said earlier is very important, and I want to kind of leave the audience with this one piece of information that you shared earlier, is that when we are experiencing, when we're the leaders of the organization, and we don't want to go to work, but we still have to, when we want to stay in bed, instead of showing up on a Zoom call and we show up anyways... What do we do?

What do we do? How do we handle that? And Carla, you said something earlier that I think really is very important, is that you reach out for support. You reach out to your coach, you reach out to people, you reach out to things that fortify you, people that fortify you, people that hope you show up and handle the bump.

[00:19:15] Carla Looper: Well, and you have to, and that I call that your personal board of directors and that's a real small circle, but I need that person that's not a yes person. I need that person that's going to tell me, "Carla, you know what? You got to get up. You've got to go do this. You know what? Move your butt". Basically, "you've got to do this, get up and move".

Then you need that person. That's going to analyze everything and give you more of a logical approach to those things. And then you need that person that's just going to motivate you and build you up because we as leaders, literally, I watch motivational things, I'm reading self-help books, I read a lot of different things.

One of my favorite books is Release Your Brilliance by Simon Bailey. I love him because he talks about how we're a diamond in the rough and we're constantly being cut and refined. And we are, we're constantly being refined every single day. And going through this whole time with COVID, my business has constantly been refined.

And what I think I would leave you with most is that that word, resilient. People really have to understand what that means, and we have had to become more resilient in the last couple of years than ever in my entire life, and I'm a pretty resilient person. I don't go down long and I don't quit.

[00:20:32] Kim Ades: Well, I can see that you're tough, but I've really, really enjoyed spending this time with you, and I'm going to enjoy the time we spend afterwards together. I'm looking forward to that very much. For those of you who are listening, really the lesson is when something knocks you down, what are you doing with it? How are you turning it into an advantage?

If you have a challenge that you want to share on the podcast, please reach out to me. My email address is Kim@frameofmindcoaching.com. If you have a challenge that you want to share, but maybe not so much on the podcast, please reach out to me as well. Again, my email address is Kim@frameofmindcoaching.com.

If you're interested in learning more about coaching, please check out our website frameofmindcoaching.com. We just launched a new group coaching opportunity that you need to check out. It's crazy because we are offering the first month for free. So please check it out. We will see you next week. Carla, thank you so much for being a guest on this podcast.

[00:21:32] Carla Looper: Thank you, Kim. I really enjoyed it.

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