Compassionate Conversations with Ailsa Robson

Aerlie Wildy is a master of processes and systems and loves alliteration, that’s why she is all things Project Management, Productivity and Process Improvement …. I simply know her as one of my best friends in life and business.

We had a beautiful chat about where she has noticed perfectionism creeping into her life.

Through time and with wisdom, Aerlie now knows she has the answers to what she needs in her life, and that incorporating self care, self reflection and incremental improvements moves her forward.

If you find you often seek outside validation, you may want to listen to us chatting about noticing old patterns of comparison and how to interrupt them.

There are so many insightful offerings in this interview, especially for the self confessed overwhelmed, people pleasers out there!

Click here to read transcript of the interview with Aerlie Wildy...

Ailsa
Well, good morning, Aerlie. How are you going?

Aerlie
Good morning. How are you?

Ailsa
Good. Aerlie Wildy is kind of like my, one of my best friends, and certainly one of my best friends in business. And she has agreed to come and chat with me today. But I think she’s probably also a little bit nervous, about this conversation, because she knows me. Right?

Aerlie
I know, how deep is this going to go?

Ailsa
Well, it’s not going to be as deep as you know, a couple of Rose’s on a Friday night. We don’t need to do that to the audience. But it is awesome to have you here with me today. Maybe I can ask you a little bit. First of all, Aerlie, what’s your fabulous title?

Aerlie
So thank you, for handballing that one. I am a project management and business efficiency consultant. So thank you so much for having me. It’s always good to talk about the bigger picture of business and you know, how our little intricacies impact that, and our business growth. So yes, I am all things project management, productivity, process improvement. I love alliteration. So yes, they’re the things that I dive into every day with my clients.

Ailsa
Fantastic. And that, like, I think there is a majority of women in business in South Australia and broader in Australia and also internationally, that know Airlie very well. So yes, global, not just local, global, and I I have had the pleasure of meeting you very locally, but I understand that there are a lot of people in business that have had you take care of them and their businesses and help them grow, in a crazy way.I would love to know what intentions and roles fill your day.

Aerlie
I am a business owner, that kind of trumps a lot of things, when I wake up. Content creator is another role, not one that I like, I’m not a fan of creating content, I’d rather just be deep in the design of structure and processes. Mum and wife all of those kinds of roles, you know, food meal planner, that’s a big one. But also my intentions most days are to be calm and clear. Because that I think is when I’m best for my clients because they come with overwhelm. And tpart of my role is to… Yes, I do all these things with their systems and I work with them, but my goal and my intention for our sessions is for them to go away feeling calm and more in control and like they have a plan, because they often are struggling with that aspect of their business. Although they have plans, but the kind of details and how to get there is… it’s hard sometimes… when there’s so much going on that we have so much going on. So to do that to move my body as well Walking is one of my favorite things to do that keeps me sane. And being effective with my time I don’t always win that one. But you know, I love productivity and I know lots about it but we all struggle with that and no one is perfect with that. So not even me.

Ailsa
No, no, I remember actually when we one of the first things that I found. Enjoy my cat by the way. One of the first things when you came into my life. And I thought, well, she’s you know, she’s pretty fabulous. We’ve got children that went to primary school together. And you had on your website, a how to plan for school lunches or different options for school lunches. And I was just kind of blown away by that I was like, Oh, my gosh, like, part of me was just like, oh, that’s, you know, she is amazing, like, how incredible to do all of that. And the other side of me was like, what an overachiever. And it’s kind of that, I feel like it is that perfect thing, you are like, and with the highest possible regard you are an overachiever. Like you are so amazing at what you do. And you are always kind of so many steps ahead of everyone else, which is wonderful. But I also know that you are real, and you are imperfect, just like the rest of us. And, I really appreciate when you spoke about your intention the for it to be calm and help your clients with their clarity, because that’s my work too. It is to hold that space, and to have the tools at hand, but also to be able to provide them at the right time, and not overwhelm.

Aerlie
Yes, and I do not always get that right. Because my brain does work very quickly. And often I can see steps ahead, and I’m there and then I have to come back and take the people with me. And unless I slow down and do that intentionally, then I can overwhelm my clients very easily. So I have to be really conscious of that in the back of my mind. I think from a really high level out, you know, the things that we do, there is absolute synchronicity there with helping people navigate their way through by encouraging them with tools, and helping them gain clarity. You know, often it’s for me, it’s not always about the tool, it’s about digging into why, and how they do that, and then encouraging a new way of walking that path. Which is similar to you. Yeah.

Ailsa
Absolutely, it’s re-authoring your story, isn’t it, when your story has always been that, this is the way that I do things, or this is the way that I am or this is my personality, or these are my triggers, or these are my blocks, it’s about being able to have that opportunity to unpack that with them, and then possibly look for other alternatives to those stories.

Aerlie
Yes. And when I first started my business, one of the stories that I saw a lot of people have, and myself included, is that this is the way that I do this. And this is really hard. And my brain goes, but it doesn’t have to be that hard, is there a different way. And so that is part of where I came to solving problems for my clients from a business perspective. Because that was essentially more engaging and challenging for my brain and for my clients. And I had more results from a business perspective, that it doesn’t have to be that hard. How can we make this easier, so that it’s easier for everyone? That’s where it came from.

Ailsa
Yes, actually I just said yesterday that there’s not just two ways. There’s not just one way or another way to do things. There’s always opportunities.

Aerlie
There’s not a right way and a wrong way.

Ailsa
Exactly. Yeah, that’s right. There’s not that dichotomy. We need to be able to have that opportunity for broader thinking and when you have someone alongside of you that can shine a light on some of your difficulties, and give you different options, then you can have a choice then as to how you want to move forward. Yeah. So, I’ve alluded to our connection. What do you think our connection is?

Aerlie
Yes our connection is our children and our community. Definitely our love of deep conversations, as well. And our love of like, going out and having fun, like adding fun into our life as well. As you know, when you’re deep in the doing of just running a family, running a business. Having fun often gets lost. And I think we’re very intentional about just adding fun and joy and music into our lives together. So, I think that’s a lovely part of our friendship.

Ailsa
Yes, and going off track… What’s the song that’s popped up for you that is floating your boat right now?

Aerlie
I can’t actually think of one right now. Actually a couple of One Direction songs. But I reckon in the middle of the year, probably when I was traveling was like old school Avril Lavigne, ‘Keep Holding On’. Like belting that one out. I’m not going to sing it for you. Was, it’s so good for the soul.

Ailsa
That’s good. I’ve got a couple of new dance tracks that have come into my world the last couple of days. And all I can think of is making a new playlist for you and I. I think that for me, having such a strong influence, like our friendship has absolutely helped me grow in my business, because you were there when I first began. And, you are always encouraging of me, and patient with me, even though you were so many years ahead. And you could see as you said, you could see all the steps, but I just had to get there in my own time. And I’m still getting there. But I can’t thank you enough for being in my life.

Ailsa
Likewise.

Ailsa
Yes, yes. So I really appreciate you also going here with me, because I know that this is slightly uncomfortable on camera.

Aerlie
That’s alright, I’m used to being on camera.

Ailsa
Yes, yes. So let’s talk then about perfectionism. Let’s talk about where you’ve noticed it showing up in your life.

Aerlie
I’ve thought about this, luckily, you have questions organized, which is great. So the main areas, I think, in my life comparison, just comparing myself to others has been a big thing that I’ve had to observe and, you know, address. High expectations of myself. Sadly, not others, like I have, you know, different expectations for myself and not other people. So other people can let me down. But if I let myself down, you know, that’s a negative spiral. And just that need to be in control that frustration of, if everything isn’t right, then I’ll have to manage it. And again, that’s linked to high expectations, I think. But yeah, I am a capable person. I can do lots of things very well, but it doesn’t mean I have to. So, yes, I can do all the things but it’s about getting better at working out what I want to do and what serves me, I suppose, rather than spreading myself too thin. And getting you know, naggy and sapping my energy. So, yes, they’re main three, there are all the others show up in different ways, but I think over my life, those ones definitely

Ailsa
I certainly like the idea of checking in on what’s serving you. Because that’s, you know, unless we do that we don’t understand why we’re pushing ourselves so hard. And, sometimes we’re able to let go, I’ve got a post that I’m writing at the moment about giving yourself permission to whatever it is that you need to do rather than wait for, for someone else to give you that permission. And often that’s about rest, often it’s about looking at things in a different way. And not just pushing, pushing, pushing in the same direction. And feeling that you’re, you know, you’re failing at things.

Aerlie
Yes, I think just that I think a lot like when I made notes about this, those three are all about external validation, of needing to get that information from other people. And so there’s that element of it, but there’s also then the maturity aspect of it, like in my 20s, in my teens, in my 30s, even, you do kind of just accept the world as it comes to you. Or I used to, and, you know, so all of this is thrown at me and this is how I kind of accept that and life can be shit. And so then I just have to go through this roller coaster of emotions, because I can’t do all the things I want to do. I can’t look the way I that I think I should look. Because I’m comparing myself to other bodies, I’m comparing myself to other people who have achieved amazing things, who have different, you know, amazing businesses, amazing websites, all of that is just a roller coaster of wasted energy. Really.

Ailsa
Comparisonitis.

Aerlie
So yeah, there are all kinds of things that are who’s gonna tell me that my website is okay, who’s gonna tell me that my body is okay. I’m the only one that has the power to do that.

Ailsa
Exactly. You’re the only one.

Aerlie
And I didn’t come to that realization till I was probably in my late 30s, or into my 40s. And it only gets better from there. And that’s why it’s also that maturity thing that I didn’t have space in my life where I didn’t slow my life down enough to stop and think and assess. I’d just go through the roller coaster, every week, or every day or every month, depending on your hormones and all those things, too. So yes, it just was a constant battle of emotions, really, of never being good enough. That’s essentially what perfectionismis, isn’t it?

Ailsa
Of course, of course. And that permission to explore and permission to unpack is probably what I’m seeing. I’ve got an array of new clients that are coming to see me and have never had therapy, or counseling before in their lives. So they’re coming to that realization that they do need an an external, but neutral professional, to work with them on those things. And, I think that that’s obviously the same for you, when businesses come to you, they realize that they just can’t do it all or have all, you know, being able to have an eagle eye’s perspective over your life and over your business. And it doesn’t mean that we’re here to make judgments by any means. It’s about just highlighting those points that are difficult for people.

Ailsa
When you’re deep in the crappy stuff, it’s hard to step up and out and look at it from a logical, unemotional perspective. So yeah, I think being able to take the time out and have time to question all of those things. For me, came later in life, which I’m, you know, frustrated by but that’s the way it is. I can’t be perfect!

Ailsa
Yes, I mean to have this wisdom at a younger age is that is that? I mean, there’s no way that I’d want to go back to my 20s as they were, no way. But if I had the wisdom, and the confidence that I have now.

Aerlie
Bring it on, bring it on.

Ailsa
Then it would be a different story. So, when did you notice that you want things to be different?

Aerlie
Yes. So I lived overseas for six years, we lived a year in New Zealand, a year in England and four years in Dubai. So I had to be really resilient to kind of pick myself up, move countries each time, you know, leave an amazing job that I had initially – leave my family – and try and make friends and established myself in these new places all the time. I had to have a baby in Dubai on my own, which, was a bit of a mindset shift for me.

Ailsa
WIthout your Mum, you mean, and your family?

Aerlie
I had my husband? Yes.

Ailsa
Was just gonna clarify that.

Aerlie
I wasn’t on my own. But he was like, Well, I’m not going home just to have a baby. And I understand that, but it just wasn’t something that was in the picture of my life. And so planning to come back to Australia, eventually, I was really worried about where I would fit into life, and my career, and that I had missed out on all these kind of managerial opportunities for my career, and that I wasn’t good enough to work in a proper business. Because I’d missed out on those really important times in career development.

Aerlie
So I did a life coaching course. And I did psych at uni and loved it, but just wasn’t kind of ready to follow that through and didn’t have the wisdom and the life experience really. So a lot of the learnings that I got in the life coaching course, gave me some of those tools to ask those questions and to look at some of the ways that I was thinking and the mental constructs, and the patterns of thinking that really kept me stuck in the mindset that I was in. So it kind of just, that was where I was like, things don’t have to be like this.

Aerlie
I’m the one that has the power. I’m the one that knows myself the best. So I just need to take the time to get clear about what I want, and not let anyone else tell me what I should be doing, or what I should look like, or all of that stuff. And yes, so that’s kind of where it learned transition for me started.

Ailsa
Yeah. It’s interesting that you’ve bought external validation up today, when, as I said, that post that I started writing this morning was exactly about all of this. And people-pleasing and feeling. Yes, everyone feels a bit ‘oof’ about that. And, that permission, giving yourself permission to live the life to be the person that you know, that you really are. And the only person that’s holding you back is yourself. But it’s scary. It’s scary to step out of that because the people pleasing behavior is something that we learn as, as we grow, you know, especially when we’re praised for being good, and when we are conforming to society and our family’s expectations of our behavior. So yeah, it’s ingrained in us and it’s something that is wonderful to see but it’s like learning unlearning, learning, unlearning. It’s like as you know, same devil, new level, same devil, you know, constantly, wherever you find yourself. Holding off and waiting for permission is usually those blocks. Yeah.

Aerlie
Yes. So, my observations and noticing my patterns in those behaviors is improving. It’s never done. As you say, there’s always new layers. It’s never done.

Ailsa
No, it’s never done. But it can, it can come more quickly. And particularly when you, I’m jumping ahead a little bit into compassion, but particularly when you bring compassion into your life. And you actually, you’re looking for gratitude, you’re looking for compassion and the more positive aspects, then it shifts in you that judgment fairly quickly. But it doesn’t come without the sting first, of course.

Aerlie
No, no, that’s it. Yeah.

Ailsa
Yep. So you noticed things, particularly when you came back to Australia, and you re-studied, and then you started your business didn’t you, right?

Aerlie
I did so and then I noticed that even more, because I would go around in circles, tweaking, tweaking my website, you know, spending time doing, in Canva. Canva was my comfort zone, right, and I’m sure lots of people can relate to this, you just, you know, fix a little bit here, a little bit there. And, and tweak and all of those things. But the tweaking was, it was my comfort zone. And it was getting in my way. And I think so, so many things I want to say here, but it was getting in the way of my success, really. But by taking up my time, sucking up my time, I had a baby and I’d, you know, putting them down for sleep thinking right now I’ve got to be my most productive and then you faff around tweaking a few things, decide what you’re going to do. 45 minutes later, an hour later, baby wakes up, done absolutely nothing. And I know that feeling very well. And so it got to a point where I was just not getting anywhere in my business. And, and that comparison, that looking at other people’s websites, and having high expectations of myself getting in the way by keeping my small keeping me invisible, keeping me from promoting myself keeping me from not sharing the things that I do well. And, growing my business. So yes, that’s where that realization started to kick in a lot more that if I want to do this, I’m the one that has to take charge of this, I have the answers. I just have to make small changes, so that I can make progress and just keep going ahead. Not set huge goals that set me up for failure. And just keep moving forward. It doesn’t matter how small a step, it was just about – and the power of incremental improvements is, is huge. And I’m a big advocate for that.

Ailsa
Incremental improvements. I love that. I love those words, I would just say small steps.

Aerlie
I know. Alliteration in small steps, because improvements is something that I you know, process improvement and sort of that’s where I want people to kind of think that’s, and it’s the incremental part of it.

Ailsa
You build on it. And that’s what I was coming, you know, what I was saying about? I had this little bit of a light bulb moment the other day where I spoke to a client and we were talking about our brains and about neural pathways and about you know, when we begin to look for the more compassionate side when we look for gratitude when we’re looking for a more positive or more helpful story, like the exceptions to the unhelpful story. Then, we build we actually change our neural pathways and we thicken them and they become more in tune with looking for the positives, rather than the negatives. So when you are looking at it, that is an incremental change, and I’m quite quick now when when a thought pops into my head that, I should be doing this, and I shouldn’t be doing that, and I haven’t got this, I’m quick to forgive. And I’m quick to use self compassion to allow myself that permission to be imperfect, the permission to be human, the permission to be flawed. And to remind myself that I’m just doing my best, and that I can tweak things, and I have got options, but I just can’t do it all at once.

Aerlie
Yeah, I get that I. I know, we’ve talked about before about the words that you tell yourself and all that kind of stuff. But really, my brain is so fast. I don’t have the words, I have the sense, the essence of maybe disappointment or frustration, but all of that conversation, it doesn’t happen. It’s more of a like, that’s it. That’s literally it. So, for me having to slow down and tune into exactly what I might have been disappointed about, is what I have to work on. Because it does happen so quickly. For me, it’s just a sense. I don’t have a running stream of conversation in my head. But what I do is like, I know that if I take a step forward, despite the mistakes, despite whatever, whatever I’m going with the information that I have at the time, if it doesn’t work, I’m still doing my best. I might have, you know, I might be pivoting from a mistake that I have made. That’s okay, I’m still moving forward. And that’s kind of that’s where I get to quite quickly. Yeah.

Ailsa
Yeah. I was thinking about I can think of an example. Remember, when we went rowing a couple of months ago, and Aerlie haven’t in an eight person boat, eight person sweep. And I was getting frustrated with myself. Like, just just because it had been decades since we’d been on the water decades in a boat couldn’t remember, like even the terminology like what you know, what was getting called at us, and everybody was being so patient around us, but it was still so frustrating. And I was getting to a point where I was going back to my like, my stroppy shitty 15 year old self. That would just say, pull over, like, I’m getting off, like stuff this I’ve had enough. And, I had to kind of breathe through it, like breathe through this rebelliousness that would come up where I just go, you know, I’m out. And, we talked about this after you said you didn’t have that have never had the chatter. Yeah, yeah.

Aerlie
Yeah, it’s just a kind of a sense. And, and I suppose my brain is also going, how can I make this easier for myself? What do I need to do? And it’s a it’s a, it’s a very quick sense. So. So when you talk about those neural pathways, I think that’s something I can definitely improve on. Because if I do slow down, because slowing down is where the calm and the clarity is, then that’s, you know, that’s certainly what I want to improve on.

Ailsa
Yeah. And, the acknowledgement in that moment of what is actually happening. But yeah, it’s fascinating to listen, because we’re not all the same. We’re not all you know, we exactly that we need to find our ways of, of being able to challenge that. You know, those feelings of imperfection.

Aerlie
Yeah, yeah. I also know that like, and I haven’t done this for a while, probably because I’m better at it. But I used to, you know, when you’re walking and you’ve kind of seen something. Well, if you’re seeing something on social media or in a magazine or on TV that kind of triggers you that’s you know, that comparison stuff. And your brain is kind of I often do this when I’m walking, I have to hit myself to interrupt the pattern of thinking like a slap on the leg is to kind of go ‘Stop, just stop doing this’ because this is getting you nowhere. And it’s triggered off this kind of I can do this and I could do this so that I could be better at something. Here’s all my options, but actually just stop because this is a train of thought that’s not helping.

Ailsa
Yeah, yeah. And other people use tapping for that. And some people use, you know, rubber bands on their wrists and all sorts of ways to kind of just interrupt that. Sometimes I’ll just use breath work and. And other times, it’s just like a, just say to myself, like out loud. Just stop, like, quit like enough. Yeah. Or even imagine, like a stop sign in my head like enough. Done. Yeah, fantastic. So we’ve touched on compassion, I think, is there anything else that you that you’re wanting to add?

Aerlie
I think that, like, the way that I do probably show compassion to myself is just, you know, when it gets down and crappy, I have this basic, fundamental belief that I’m okay. Yeah. And I know that it doesn’t go any deeper than that, like, no matter what happens, I’m still okay. I will be okay. And so that’s like, my form of, of backing myself, like, whatever happens, I can, I will be okay. So, continue, you’re okay, you are enough. You’re okay. And so that’s kind of where I get to. I do journal a lot. And, you know, probably maybe worked through some of those words slower in the journaling. Because, again, I know that I’m the one that has the knowledge, I know myself the best. So it’s, that’s when I suppose give myself permission to ask those questions and write what it is that I do need, so that I can do what I want to do. Yeah. And taking care of myself, you know, just that allows me to take care of others. So yeah.

Ailsa
Yeah. When when you said that you fundamentally think, you know, underneath it all that you’re okay. I think that’s what comes across. When I know I’ve been flailing around and needing your support in business and personally, I think that that fundamental idea of you’re okay, also filters into how you feel about others, but you just, you do really trust in people’s ability to, to be enough as they are. And that comes through in your work. And it comes through personally as well. Yeah.

Aerlie
Thank you. That’s, my baseline of being really that it’s okay.

Aerlie
Yeah. You give others permission to be okay, as well. And, and that’s, that’s a gift. Yeah.

Aerlie
I feel like I can do that. Because I’m old.

Aerlie
You are not old. Because that would make me old.

Aerlie
Yes, I do know that everyone’s got the answers in themselves. It’s just a matter of how they do it and having people like you in their lives to help them get that and navigate their way through and carve their own path out because we’re all carving our own path out in our own unique way. And that’s yes, that’s okay.

Ailsa
Yeah, I do love that. That line, carve your own path. And we noticed that in our weekend, well, our night at the SA woman awards night recently, all of the women in that room, everyone in that room is carving their own path.

Aerlie
Cutting all the weeds out and making it theirs.

Ailsa
Yeah. And I almost kind of think about it like as in beautiful clay, like, like you’re like pottery and you’re kind of carving this groove. If that makes it easier for flow to, to generate.

Aerlie
Yeah, with all the little intricacies of how deep each finger is pressing, and yes.

Aerlie
Yeah, see all this beautiful visualization? It’s good.

Aerlie
Yeah, Let’s go and do some pottery making.

Ailsa
Okay. All right, that sounds good. Can we have music and wine as well?

Aerlie
Perfect Night.

Ailsa
That’s awesome. Well, I’m going to have all of your links below. Please go and have a look at Aerlie’s offerings. She has a lot of interesting freebies that you can tap into. I can’t explain everything that she does. But I can just say, Go there. Go there. And you will be surprised by how much further you can advance in your business and your life because you know, businesses our lives as well. Yeah, yeah. So I really appreciate that. And thank you for your time. Yes, I appreciate your trust.

Aerlie
It’s been on a lovely conversation. Thank you.

Ailsa
Thank you.

Aerlie
Thank you. Bye

 

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Ailsa Robson has a private counselling and psychotherapy practice in Adelaide and consults with clients in Stirling and Glenelg, SA as well as online. She has a Masters Degree in Counselling and Psychotherapy and is the author of Perfectly Imperfect.