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Work It podcast: Stress sent her to the emergency department

Studies have found that people are at increased risk of disease because their stress levels are constantly elevated. In this episode of CNA's Work It podcast, executive coach Yu Dan Shi gives a first-hand account of how her life - and career - changed when she was 32.

Work It podcast: Stress sent her to the emergency department

A medical emergency changed Yun Dan Shi's career trajectory and she is now an executive coach. Photo: Yu Dan Shi/CoachHub

SINGAPORE: By all accounts, Yu Dan Shi, 46, was a typical straight-A student. Having "traditional Asian parents", she was expected to pursue academic excellence and in a field of their choosing: Computer science.  

By 14, she was already enrolled in university. By 17, she began her career and by 32, she was the chief marketing officer of a Fortune 100 company. But one evening on the way home after yet another meeting, she felt a sharp pain. 

She told her taxi driver: "Something is really wrong with me. I'm about to black out." She ended up in an operating theatre with no time to inform her parents or her two young children. In this episode, Ms Shi, now an executive coach at CoachHub, talks about how that changed the trajectory of her career and why coaching helped her.  

Here are the highlights of that conversation: 

On her wake-up call 

"The only emotion I had in those two minutes as they wheeled me into the operation room was regret. I felt so guilty. Because I had two children at the time, a four-year-old and a nine-year-old. I went: ‘What have I done?’ “ 

“I have never heard people talking about stress caused by work which would lead to a physical disease to this degree. I was really shocked.’’ 

"(We think), give me another five to 10 years, once I have made enough money, once I became successful, (then) I will spend time with my family. Then I will look after my health.

But sometimes you don't have tomorrow. What am I going to do differently if I don't have a tomorrow?

How coaching helped 

“Once I recovered, I made an effort to see a coach. And I remember, in that coaching conversation, for the first time in my whole life, someone was talking to me about me. Not about what I did.” 

 “(The coach) analysed my personality and work environment and we concluded that my natural personality as a thinker was the complete opposite of my work environment. Hence the stress.” 

Tips for those seeking a career coach 

“It is important to know what you want a coach for. (There are) career coaches, life coaches and well-being coaches.

So the first thing to do is understand why you need coaching

“Therapy focuses on root causes. In workplace coaching, we focus on forward-looking solutions. What is the solution here that you can take action on?” 

“Training tends to be one size fits all and is expert-led - I have the content, I'm going to tell you what to do … coaching is more individualised, (and takes a) person-centered approach …(because) we all have different personalities, strengths, motivations, needs.” 

For the full conversation with Yu Dan Shi, listen to this episode

Source: CNA/cr


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