Michelle Ensuque is the Director of Meliusse Ltd, a consultancy that helps companies and individuals unlock limiting beliefs and patterns of negative behaviour. Michelle tells The Industry Leaders how she found herself doing this work and why she does what she does.
How did you end up sitting where you are today?
You mean other than hard work, tragedy, laughing a lot, failing, succeeding, tragedy (did I mention that?), and my breakdown?
I would like to say my determination. Whatever life threw at me, I was determined to get through it, ideally laughing at the same time. I didn't always have the two together, but I always had determination. NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) has also been my saviour. It's not for everyone, but it's been transformational for me.
What kind of work does your role involve?
Generally, a mix of project management/consultancy and change work with companies and one to one coaching. I love the variety and the fact that I still continue to learn. Fundamentally, I love helping people, and it doesn't matter where someone sits in the hierarchy or what their issue is; I treat them with the same reverence.
What gets you excited about your industry?
The people and possibilities! I love knowing what makes someone tick. I love honest, open conversations. I love that you can be working on a really big project, but its success is down to how people work together. I can also feel a shift in our society about the way we work and what we value as important, particularly after the last year. I can't wait to see where that takes us.
What's the best advice anyone ever gave you?
It was my boss, Mark Shields, in Mott MacDonald. He said, "Michelle, things will go wrong on this project, but it's not what goes wrong that matters; it's what we do about them that counts". How can you not be blown away by that? Not only was it great advice, but it was very supportive and inclusive. I've never forgotten it and have adopted that approach ever since.
What, or who inspires you?
I'm not sure I find any one person or thing particularly inspirational. Many different people have inspiring stories; I don't think one person has a monopoly on anything. It's the same with 'things'. New ideas, ways of working, products and services are being formed all the time, and I like the fact that we don't sit still.
I've never wanted to live someone else's life. I've just wanted to be me - a happy, successful version of me at any rate - so anything that helps with that or motivates me to consider new things and listen to new people inspires me.
How do you keep up to speed with what's happening in your industry?
I'm not sure I do - there is so much information available! Much of what I see is how to cope with mental health issues, whereas I'd like to focus on how we can prevent getting to that place in the first place. I am not an expert or a medical practitioner; I have merely trodden one particular painful path. I'm really interested in the concept of whether we are born resilient or if we gain it experientially, so I am looking at that area at the moment.
What was the most challenging project or situation you've overcome?
My childhood and my mum committing suicide when I was 7 months pregnant. Regarding the latter, I had the intense feeling that I had to hold it together so it didn't affect my baby's health. It was also a time in my life when these things were not discussed. In truth, I didn't know what to say myself; I have no siblings and had a disconnected relationship with my father.
I forgave my mum pretty quickly, though, and that helped me accept it and move on, although it can still catch me unexpectedly over 20 years later. The rest of it? As a kid and young adult, I thought that every day was a new day, and I used humour to get through difficult times. When that wasn't possible at the lowest point in my life, I took medication, had counselling and found NLP.
You finish work today and step outside the office to find a lottery ticket that ends up winning $10 million. What would you do?
Take it to the lottery company and ask them to check it out; I'd ask that if the buyer doesn't come forward, could I please have ownership.
I giggle as that seems quite 'ballsy', but I found an Omega watch on a cycle path once and phoned the police station to report it missing. Honestly, I'd like to think someone would do that for me, and I would give them a chunk of my winnings if they did. It's just the right thing to do. That and I'm scared stiff of ending up in prison for theft!
How do you switch off after a day at work?
I do anything that doesn't involve work! I love cooking, bingeing on Netflix, going to the gym or walking the dog. I'm at my most relaxed with my hubby.
We met via Match.com, and I fired off several questions that I wanted him to answer. Well, that backfired because, as well as responding, he sent his questions back too! Since then, we have always taken the opportunity to talk about important issues rather than letting them fester. He is a very calm, kind man and I feel very relaxed with him.
If you had one wish for the future of your industry, what would it be?
That we would help people avoid mental health issues in the first place by gaining a much deeper understanding of how we operate, even as young adults, rather than suffering and trying to recover. I've lost count of the communication courses I've been on over the years, and yet if I'd learned the skills I've been taught in my 40s, at an earlier age, there is no doubt I would have made some different choices.
What book or podcast should everyone know about?
I promise this isn't as sad as it sounds, but 'Auschwitz Survivor' with Dr Edith Eger talking to Dr Rangan Chatterjee, #144 on his podcast, 'Feel Better, Live More'.
She explains how she chose to see her guards as the real prisoners, turned hate into pity and describes her horrific experience as an 'opportunity. It's a truly humbling podcast that shows that we have the inner resources to change how we feel about situations. It's a real thought provoker.
How should people connect with you?
Ps, Editor's note: Check out Michelle's excellent article on burnout.
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