A Leadership Coach On Why It’s Okay To Let Go of Being Productive Right Now

Kay Fabella is many things: a leadership coach, diversity and inclusion consultant, storyteller, and entrepreneur. Kay is also a first-generation Filipina-American living in Madrid, Spain. She is the author of Rewrite Your Story, in which she shares her personal experience with burnout and depression.

In this episode of “Break the Bias,” Kay talks about how no one realized—until moms and dads started turning into human jungle gyms on Zoom calls—how important it is for people to have real conversations about caregiving duties. She also shares why it’s okay to give ourselves permission to not be productive right now, and offers advice on how to care for your mental health during quarantine and beyond. Listen to the full unplugged conversation here, and read on for some (condensed) highlights.


HOLLY: What’s your experience living in Spain during the coronavirus crisis?

KAY: “I think there’s just a lot more empathy and understanding because what we are going through right now is collective trauma. It’s different stages of grief that all of us are going to have to experience, not just as individuals, but collectively. And for someone like me who [is an American living] in Spain for 10 years, I have family back in California and my parents are from the Philippines. So you see this global perspective, not just in terms of how it’s happening, but you’re almost grieving for the injustice of how it’s affecting each person.”

HOLLY: Do you think that there’ll be more or less of a focus on diversity and inclusion in organizations in light of this public health crisis?

Related: Top DEI Conversations In 2023 That Leaders Should Have

KAY: “Imagine it’s 2021 or 2022, and all of this is kind of settled and we know that we’re safe to come out again without masks and gloves…We’re going to look back on this time and one of the questions people will ask—whether they’re your current or future employees—will be, how did you handle the crisis? How did you take care of your people? Whether or not you want to be on the right side of that story, that’s completely up to you as an organization.”

HOLLY: Mental health is such an important topic during these very uncertain times where people are getting sick, losing their jobs, worried about family members, and unable to connect in the ways they normally would. Can you share any advice on how to care for your mental health during this quarantine?

KAY: “Since everybody is collectively experiencing this at the same time, [I think it’s easier to] share what you’re going through and say, I need to step away right now. I need a mental health hour, I need a mental health day,  or I just need to be with my family. All of us will be touched in a different way. We will all know somebody or we will be directly affected by a loss.

With that said, it’s okay for you to not be business as usual, and to not worry about your productivity levels being the same as this time last year. It’s okay to let people know, ‘Hey, I’m just overwhelmed right now. Do you mind if I take just 20 minutes?’ I think it’s a really unique opportunity for us to bring our full selves [to the workplace] in that way, because we have an unwritten permission slip to do so right now.”

Related: Understanding DEIB in the Workplace

HOLLY: What is one action step, or micro-progression as we call it at Consciously Unbiased, you can take to build workplaces that are more inclusive?

KAY: “There are so many, but I would say just being humble. If you really want to commit to making yourself not just an inclusive leader, but also somebody who practices and preaches it in your day-to-day life, it really requires you to be okay with constantly learning, unlearning, and—in some cases—unbecoming some parts of yourself that you didn’t even realize were there, such as this is a bias I have to dismantle or this is a privilege I have that I can use [to help others]. Nobody magically knows all the vocabulary; nobody magically knows all the [right] things to do. But if you start from a place of, ‘I’m here, I’m willing to learn and I surrender to the fact that I won’t know everything,’ that’s a good approach.”




Rewrite Your Story

Diversity and Inclusion is Not Just a Moral Imperative—It’s a Business One


Sara Munjack

As the Director of Content at Consciously Unbiased, Holly Corbett is fueling inclusion through storytelling to build a passionate community and creating experiences inside organizations to transform workplace culture.
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