Lessons in Resilience: Elena Izmailova

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Elena Izmailova

I enjoy featuring past clients who share their experiences with building resilience and the impact it has had on their careers and lives. Elena Izmailova was one of my champions when it came to writing my book, Career ReCharge: Five Strategies to Boost Resilience and Beat Burnout. During the writing process, I took a few breaks and tried to convince myself I was enjoying my leadership coaching and training so much that I didn’t need another project to focus on. Elena wasn’t going to listen to any of my excuses—she only wanted to hear how I was progressing with the writing! Her support of my book-writing dream is one of the many gifts I’ve received since launching my business.  

Of the five strategies of the Benatti Resiliency Model—well-being, self-awareness, brand, connection, and innovation—which has been most important to you in your position?

Self-awareness and connection have been most important to me.

With heightened self-awareness, I realized the importance of focusing on my well-being to enhance my productivity and monitoring my behavior to make sure I did not go back to my old habits of overworking. Once you lose self- awareness, it is difficult to come back to the place of balance.

Connection is also very important for me, especially staying in touch with co-workers, professional industry colleagues, and friends from past positions. A key to success is not just to focus on connection within your organization but also professional associations. Connection also makes work more productive. As a result of my coaching, I now schedule meet-ups with people with whom I had been out of touch. During the pandemic, I’ve regularly reached out to schedule a call or video chat.

In my present organization, we make connection a priority. My company conducted regular town hall meetings to keep open communication going during the pandemic. We also created affinity groups which kept people connected. For example, we have a women’s group, book club, and a cooking club. These groups help us to stay together and support each other.

I have noticed that people who practice connection are usually high-potential employees.

One of the things that brings people to me is burnout. Have you ever experienced burnout?

Yes! In 2015, I experienced burnout, which led me to working with you.

How did you get out of it?

Learning to make my resilience strategies habits and taking more time for me got me out of burnout. I think it is especially important to have a sense of purpose, whether it is professional or personal because meaningful work is grounding.

Is there a daily or weekly resilience habit that contributes to your success?

  • Mindfulness is one of my habits. I use phone apps for guided meditation and for walking meditations. During a walking meditation, I noticed cherry trees that I never knew were there.
  • I plan exercise like I do work meetings. My best practice is walking because it can be done in all sorts of weather. Sometimes I reach out to a friend and ask if she wants to go for walk. I also ride my bike and hike. I put a reminder on my phone to do short stretching exercises during the day.

What is one piece of advice you would give people to recharge their careers?

Begin with self-awareness. The first step is asking why you are so exhausted and tired. Are there specific tasks that are weighing you down? Make a list of anything you can delegate.

Acceptance of change is important. Giving two weeks’ notice is not the solution to everyone and changing the job does not change the person. If you have the same unproductive habits in a new job, you will soon be just as burned out.

What fun thing have you done in the last month?

My husband and I went to visit my father-in-law – we took a flight and saw him in person. We really missed connecting with people in person so this visit was refreshing!

What is a flow activity for you?

My flow activity is doing scientific research.

What is one awe-some thing you are doing?

One of my hobbies is drawing. It’s a mindful activity; in order to take a good drawing, you have to put your mind to it and pay attention to different shades.

Do you have a podcast or blog to share that adds to your resilience, impact, and influence?

Mike Duncan, Hero of Two Worlds: The Marquis de Lafayette in the Age of Revolution, has a lot of parallels to our current challenges.

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