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  • Writer's pictureShannon Wong Lerner, Ph.D.

My Self-Care is Not Self-Indulgent: Diverse People, Life-Work Balance, & Public Speaking

Updated: Oct 29, 2020

Self-described as "black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet," Audre Lorde had said, "Caring for myself is not self-indulgence. It is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare."

I don't know how many times I have heard rock-stars of the space that New York Times has called Black LinkedIn–Aaisha Joseph, Madison Butler, Netta Jenkins, Theresa M. Robinson, Jessica Pharm, Future Cain, Elizabeth Leiba, Janice Gassam Asare, Ph.D., and Patrice M. Palmer–write something that has both comforted me and set a fire under me! I say "heard" and not "read" because I feel I can hear the vibrance and good energy of their voices when I read their posts. See below.

As diverse people. Many times in the workplace, we are not only told our experience doesn't matter. We are also told that we shouldn't speak up. Essentially, this means–you shouldn't exist! As Netta Jenkins says above about why she and Jacinta Mathis have started a POC platform, Dipper: "“what Black and brown people are facing in the workplace is a matter of “LIFE and DEATH.” 

If we are trying to level up in our careers. And get recognized. For our hard work. Oftentimes we take on negative feedback, Microaggressions, or being passed up for promotion. And we take it out on ourselves! With lack of sleep. Poor diet. Lack of exercise. Negative self-talk. And a general disregard for self. Patrice M. Palmer calls for us not only to practice self-care for ourselves. But also to take good care of each other by not belittling others for something we may still need to learn. So as diverse people, we have room to grow.

So, when the rock-stars of Black LinkedIn as Madison Butler says "I said what I said." And "Do better." And when Patrice M. Palmer pleads with diverse people as "siblings" and "family." These messages work to empower our own voices. To unite us. To correct negative self-talk. And these affirmations are vital to our survival. In the workplace. And in life. As Audre Lorde says, self-care becomes an "act of political warfare." So as diverse people, we can speak up, too! And make sure we receive the acknowledgement. Titles. And salaries. That we deserve. That have been well-earned.

As someone who has worked in public speaking for diverse people of all backgrounds. I would like to pass on the tips I have given to my diverse students and clients. For decades.

I would like to add to how diverse people can use self-care to think about how we might prepare for a public speaking situation.

Whenever I deliver a speech or presentation, I make sure to follow my complete self-care regime:

🌈 Get at least 8 hours of sleep.

🌈 Do a full yoga session the night before or that morning.

🌈 Meditate.

🌈 Eat a good breakfast.

🌈 Make sure I have some R&R that weekend with family and loved ones.

🌈 Write inspirational quotes on my desk to boost my self-confidence. (Take cues from the rock-stars of Black LinkedIn!)

🌈 Use those inspirational quotes as my mantras during meditation and before I present.

🌈 If I get nervous, take a lot of deep breaths to slow my heart-rate and to calm me down.

🌈 Remember everything I've done and accomplished to lead me to this moment in the spotlight.

🌈 Most importantly, CONNECT and RELATE to my audience.

I remember, my talk is about the audience and wanting to help them understand something about themselves. It's not about me. And I don't have to be self-conscious about anything. I tell myself and my diverse clients, we are more than capable of delivering this talk! If we follow our own self-care regimen. As diverse people, we will be able to connect better with those around us. Because we will be RADIANT! GLOWING! And feel so good in our bodies and selves, and feel CONFIDENT!

Dr. Shannon Wong Lerner, Communication Coach & Consultant, Cultural & Digital Storyteller launches her new program next week: SPEAK YOUR WAY TO SUCCESS to improve your communication skills in just 3-months. 


As a gay API coach & consultant and cultural & digital storyteller, I meet you from your unique starting place.

To better support you as women, BIPOC, WOC, non-native speakers, nontraditional learners, creatives, allies, & LGBTQIA+ talent. Inclusive of genderqueer, non-binary, & trans individuals.

I use a whole-person, holistic method that considers

WHO you are

WHERE you come from

HOW you identify

and HOW you sound as a communicator.

So you don't sound like a version of someone else. But you sound like a better version of yourself.

I value life-work balance to support clients to work toward their authenticity, improved health, and well-being alongside their goals.

SERVICES: If you have been looking for a coach who cares about your experience as a diverse professional or entrepreneur. And can help you improve as a speaker.

CONTACT Dr. Wong Lerner for her communication coaching & consulting services. Catered specifically to meet the needs of diverse people.

Contact her through LinkedIn. Or her website to learn more about Speak Your Way to Success Services:

🌈 Public Speaking

🌈 Intercultural, Intrapersonal, and Interpersonal Communication

🌈 Accent Reduction

🌈 Book Writing Coaching

🌈 Brand Storytelling & Thought Leadership

🌈 Executive Career Services: Resume, Cover Letter, LinkedIn, Interviewing Strategies

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