We caught up with the brilliant and insightful Cindy Tsai, MD a few weeks ago and have shared our conversation below.
Dr. Tsai, thanks for joining us, excited to have you contributing your stories and insights. If you had a defining moment that you feel really changed the trajectory of your career, we’d love to hear the story and details.
Imagine waking up one day and not being able to see. This is what happened to me. To go from healthy to sick overnight was a total wake-up call. Ever since I was young, I have been health-conscious and wanted to become a physician to help others be healthy. However, when I got sick myself, I was forced to slow down and listen to my body. Our body has its own intelligence. We need to pay attention to these messages.
I was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune condition impacting my eyes that could have led to full blindness. I started treatment right away with immunosuppressant medications and my vision started to recover but I knew the underlying problem was still there. I didn’t want to just put a band-aid on as a temporary quick fix. In becoming my own best health advocate, I gave myself permission to explore all the possibilities to get better. I came across the field of integrative medicine, a field of medicine that incorporates many healing modalities from Western to Eastern, traditional to complementary and alternative, giving you options to attain your best state of health. I assembled my own team of integrative practitioners who truly listened, and through working together, have thankfully been able to recover my vision. This inspired me to train in integrative medicine as well as other solution-oriented therapeutic mind-body modalities (e.g. mindfulness, coaching, reiki, theta healing, etc) and focus on helping clients take an integrative approach to wellness. Wellness is not merely the absence of illness or disease. It’s a state and practice of integrating physical, mental, and spiritual well-being to experience inner peace and ease that’s possible for everyone.
Great, appreciate you sharing that with us. Before we ask you to share more of your insights, can you take a moment to introduce yourself and how you got to where you are today to our readers
I’m a board-certified physician, bestselling author, mindfulness teacher, speaker, and life coach who is committed to helping overwhelmed high-achieving leaders decrease stress and avoid burnout to live their best life with ease.
As a physician and patient myself, I saw and experienced the impact of chronic stress on the body and was compelled to do more than prescribe medications as a bandaid. Through my own healing journey, I learned and trained in many therapeutic modalities that I teach and use to help clients move past overworking, overthinking, and overdoing to feel so much better. My business is a life coaching practice that takes an integrative mind-body-spirit approach to wellness, combining the art and science of healing.
I like to say that everyone is different, so the things you need are different. Apart from 1:1 and group coaching programs, I have a unique offering where I present a personalized retreat experience to guide clients through all aspects of their health and life history. Together, we map out a specific plan to activate and maximize their body’s innate healing capabilities in order to welcome and enjoy all the success, fun, and joy life offers. I truly believe that we each have our own gifts to share and we need to be healthy and well in order to access our full potential.
Through coaching and speaking to successful professionals and organizations about the practice of mindfulness and self-care to mitigate burnout, I created the Inspiring Success Story MethodTM, which provides a powerful blueprint for people to achieve their dreams. I share the details of this process in my #1 bestselling book, “So Much Better: Life-Changing Strategies to Develop Calm, Confidence, and Curiosity to Become an Inspiring Success Story”, which offers readers a radical path to well-being through a diverse range of mind-body-spirit techniques.
As I share in my upcoming TEDx talk, the quick fix is not a fix in terms of our overall health. It’s like spraying water on a plant’s yellowing leaves instead of nurturing the dry soil to truly revive the plant for good. We need to focus on finding the root causes and take a comprehensive approach to attain a state of health and well-being. In working with clients, I provide practical tips and resources to help people easily integrate and experience the benefits in their busy lives. Clients learn to advocate for themselves on this journey of self-discovery to recognize the importance of self-care as a wellness practice to lead and enjoy a life of ease.
Have you ever had to pivot?
As a high-achiever with perfectionist tendencies, I worked really hard studying and training at top institutions like Johns Hopkins and Dartmouth to become the best physician I could be. I was focused on doing all the right things and checking all the boxes. Life looked good on paper as a primary care physician and medical director, but along the way, I burned out and got sick myself. It was scary to admit I wasn’t fully happy or fulfilled when I thought I had “arrived”.
My pivot came through my own health journey and working with a life coach. I learned to reconnect with myself and align with my true purpose. I expanded my work by taking an integrative approach in guiding others on this path to becoming the best they can be. This inspired me to start my business to serve others so they don’t make the same mistakes and suffer.
While I had never owned a business before, or had any training in entrepreneurship, marketing or sales, I knew I could learn. I read books, listened to podcasts, took courses, worked with mentors and coaches, took action and made mistakes, all because this is the process and these are skills anyone can develop. It takes commitment and discipline to stay focused and build momentum but it’s possible!
This pivot decision has proven to be a good one because of the transformations and impact I am seeing on my clients who no longer get overwhelmed with the tools and techniques I’ve shared. I’m also honored to receive the “2022 Rising Star of the Year” Award by the National Association of Women Business Owners Los Angeles (NAWBO-LA) and look forward to expanding my business further. Applying the principles of mindfulness to my daily life has allowed me to appreciate the journey as the destination and to celebrate every win!
How do you keep your team’s morale high?
As a leader, you are a visionary and your team looks to you for insight and guidance. This means that you model and lead by example by being the best version of yourself to inspire others to do the same. To quote Maya Angelou, “people will forget what you said and did but people will not forget how you made them feel.”
Use mindfulness to be present in each interaction and listen to understand, not to respond. Encourage the growth mindset and strengthen emotional intelligence skills so everyone can stay calm and in control of their emotions to enhance communication and work well together. Be open about struggles and embrace diversity to create a psychologically safe environment for team members to share and learn from each other. Integrate and normalize the practice of self-care into your daily routine and make it a fun activity for all! Remember, the better you feel, the more you have to give without getting depleted, and the better results and performance you will see within yourself and the teams you lead.
- Website: https://cindytsaimd.com
- Instagram: https://instagram.com/cindytsaimd
- Facebook: https://facebook.com/cindytsaimd
- Linkedin: https://linkedin.com/in/cindytsaimd
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/cindytsaimd
- Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/cindytsaimd?sub_confirmation=1
Ashley DuChene Photography