Collaboration doesn’t work because of communication, competition and burnout. You need to clear all that up and be in alignment with yourself if you want conscious collaboration. Join your host Christin Collins as she speaks with the CEO of Tampa Bay Healthcare Collaborative, Dr. Sheron Brown. She focuses on bringing individuals and organizations together to work collaboratively towards health equity. Listen to today’s episode to learn more about her book, The Conscious Collaboration Pathway. Discover how you can really know yourself so that you can achieve those collaborations. Start aligning with yourself today!
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Aligning With Yourself To Achieve Conscious Collaboration With Dr. Sheron Brown
As always, when I’m blessed to be able to hold space with a colleague and a friend, I ask someone to join me who has sparked curiosity, wonder and awakening within me. This episode is no exception. I would love to introduce you to my friend, colleague and future co-presenter on a TEDx stage, Dr. Sheron Brown. Sheron, welcome.
Thank you so much. I’m so excited to be here. I’m glad and honored that you asked me to share this space with you. I am looking forward to us having fun while we inspire and spark.
I have chills. Even your voice gives me chills. It’s wonderful to connect with you. Often, we spend some time going through who is Dr. Brown, why is Dr. Brown and that good stuff. I will add to this space that your job, which far from defines you, is a phenomenal job and something that I’m very attracted to. You are the Executive Director of the Tampa Bay Healthcare Collaborative.
I wanted to have that enter the space and hope that you’ll share a little bit about that with us. Before we do, I also want to bring into this space that you are a wellbeing guru, a purpose practitioner, a spiritual gangster along with me and also a human that so far in my experience says yes. You read my book, Her Phoenix Rising.
There was a big chapter in the life of my spark to say yes to the universe, even when it doesn’t make sense to me, even when the outcome is scary. You and I connected before sharing a TEDx stage. I was coming to the Tampa area. I reached out to the co-presenters and said, “Does anyone want to connect?” You said yes and a lot of other things. Talk to me a little bit about your courage and why behind your openness to say yes.
I have a story behind saying yes. When I moved to St. Petersburg, Florida back on July 1st, 2017, it was after living in Maryland for almost twenty years. I knew that life was over in Maryland. It was time to go somewhere new. Through a series of events, I found myself with everything that I could fit in my car on the highway, moving down to St. Petersburg’s sight unseen. When I moved out here within two weeks, there’s a group of spiritually-aware folks that I came in contact with. We were at a workshop or a conference where we were trained for becoming certified spiritual coaches.
Only say “yes” when you know it will serve you and the people that you’re coming in contact with.
There was one lady in particular. I’m not going to say her name but I can see her. The weekend was over. Her husband came to pick her up because it was at a hotel. She was in her car on the passenger seat side. Her husband was getting ready to drive off. She said, “Sheron, welcome to St. Pete and remember, say yes to everything.” I’ve held onto that. That saying yes has opened so many doors.
I never was conscious of whether or not I was saying yes a lot of times. It’s like, “I don’t know. Do I feel like it? Do I go? If I don’t, I’m going to stay home.” I am very aware that I’ve gotten to a place since then in 2017 where it’s like, “I got to amend this yes thing. I could wear myself out.” It’s more of, “How will this serve the people that I’m in coming in contact with and me? Do I feel that this is in flow with my path?” I still say yes but I have to measure it or I’ll be all over the place and wear myself out.
It isn’t about saying yes to everything. The first is being open to saying yes to things that you might be scared of or you’re fearful of. The next evolution of finding your spark within is identifying, “I know my purpose, what’s in alignment with me and what is not.” It can be the exploration in saying no. You dared to say yes to the contemplation of a yes. That’s the next level. I love that so much, so of the couple times that you’ve said yes to things that I’m like, “How about this or that?” I’m watching the pops for you.
You only have time to say yes to the things that I was like, “Do you want to do this? Check this out.” You had been contemplative. Thank you for bringing that in. Let’s start with you’re saying yes to coming to St. Pete, Florida sight unseen to leave the education space and enter the Tampa Bay Healthcare Collaborative. Talk to us about what you knew about it at the time, what drew you to say yes and what work are you doing with that organization?
When I left Maryland with everything I could fit in my car, you think I came for the Tampa Bay Healthcare Collaborative. I had no idea what I was coming for. No job, nothing. I just got in the car. A friend of mine from college knew that I was ready for a change. She said to me, “Do you want to come and live with me?” I said, “Sure.” I didn’t even know where she lived. I just knew in Florida. I said, “When can I come?” She said, “Next month I close on my house. You can come when I close.”
She closed on June 18th, 2017 or something like that and I was here July 1st, 2017. When I was still in Maryland, I knew that I was complete with K12. I was going through certifications. I had completed my certifications as a health coach. I was completing my training as a yoga instructor. I was seeking meditation training, which I’ve since gone through.
I wanted to move into health because technically, I was already in health while I was in education. As a coach to teachers, principals and coaches, I found myself coaching them on their wellbeing because we’re not departmentalized individuals. We are whole beings. There’s no way for me to help you improve your performance unless I’m looking at your whole self. I realized that’s what I get more excited about. Let me find out more about that. That’s what led to the other training that I got into. When I moved to St. Pete, I said, “Let me kick off this new career. I have no idea what this looks like but let’s go.”
I didn’t realize what I was doing. People had to let me know, “You’re reinventing yourself.” I said, “That’s what it is.” When I moved out here, I did volunteer work. I joined organizations like Leadership St. Pete. I found a local chapter of my sorority, Delta Zeta Delta Sorority Incorporated. Through the connections and volunteering, I was given opportunities. One of those opportunities was having the chance to produce on behalf of my sorority a health and wellness expo. I did it in partnership with the University of South Florida.
That was an amazing experience. I got to throw my whole self into it because I wasn’t working. I met a lot of great people to pull it off. In the experience, I said, “I enjoy doing this. I am bringing wellness to people in a large-scale event. I want to do even more of this, even bigger.” That’s when I said, “I want to find an opportunity that will allow me to bring people together to solve problems in health.” I was sitting at a lake when I said that. I walked home from the lake and felt looking on Indeed. This was the first role I saw. I was like, “That’s the job.” That’s how I got to the Tampa Bay Healthcare Collaborative. We’ve transitioned a little bit since I started on who we are.
They probably had no idea. When they put their seatbelts on the ride, they were about to go on with you.
I don’t think they do but we’re enjoying the ride together. Essentially, the Tampa Bay Healthcare Collaborative connects the health equity ecosystem to encourage collaboration, reduce silos and minimize redundancies among nonprofits. We do it through in-person and tech-enabled solutions, all toward advancing community wellbeing. You can’t have community wellbeing without having health equity. That’s the Tampa Bay Healthcare Collaborative.
You can’t have community wellbeing without having health equity.
There are many things I love about our connectivity. One was, as I was two hours south of you, trying to do the darnedest same thing down here in Southwest Florida, your organization under leadership crossed me. Someone sent it to me. This reminds me of what you’re trying to do. I had a note to myself, “I need to connect with them.”
I was in the process of closing my chapter in healthcare like you closed yours in education up in Maryland. It didn’t happen. Lo and beholds, when you and I connect through TEDx, I’m like, “This is the organization that I felt the vibration up there.” It was the foundation of connectivity, collaboration and root cause. Those are all the things that I was and still am very passionate about, as are you. That’s the sisterhood that you and I share.
Being that folks understand your work with that organization, I can macro that to your vision for wellbeing. You have a couple of different offerings that I’ve digested that showcased them that people can access. I want to start with the first book that you wrote, which is The Wellness-Purpose Connection.
When I was at the hospital and created the wellness wheel, I had six folks on the wellness wheel and the sixth was purpose. That was a divine download that I didn’t understand. When I read your book, I bought copies and sent them to former colleagues because I’m like, “This was what I was trying to say.” You say it is so beautiful. I can read it but I want to hear it if you’re cool with it from your lips, your definition of wellness. What is wellness to you?
Wellness is when you are at a place where you’re allowing yourself to experience your optimal health and wealth in all areas of your life. Does that mean that all areas of your life will be perfect 100% of the time? No, but it means you’re allowing yourself to continue to unfold and unfurl so that you can experience a beautiful state and live there as opposed to a suffering state.
What role does purpose play as it interfaces with wellness?
I define our three life purposes. The one that we’re used to hearing a lot about is related to our vocation. What are you going to be when you grow up? I’ll stick with that one. That has caused many people to be sick because they didn’t allow themselves to align with that divine spark that is within them to be able to be guided and to flow into the uniqueness in them that they came to share in the world so they ended up doing other things.
My undergrad is accounting because of that whole, “What are you going to major in?” “I don’t know. I’ll pick accounting.” I did that for three weeks. I remember it was a Friday afternoon. On week three, I walked out of the building and said, “I am never going back to that place.” That didn’t align with me. I didn’t know what did but it wasn’t that. I did the college thing, so my mother was happy. She couldn’t say I didn’t go to college. I spent the next couple of years making jewelry and doing all kinds of things while I tried to feel what felt right for me.
When it comes to your vocational purpose, if you don’t allow yourself to align with what’s in you and allow yourself to move past the block of, “How would I make money doing that,” because there are so many things that people think about, then you’ll find yourself in roles where you’re living for Friday, you’re stressed, unhappy and eventually that starts to eat away at your physical wellbeing. It starts to turn into diseases, migraines, heart attacks and ulcers. We can keep going on down the list.
Kahlil Gibran said, “Work is love made visible.” When you are working from that place, then you’re experiencing joy in your work. Even though you may experience challenges, you’re still experiencing joy in your work that is not going to impact your physical and emotional wellbeing in the same way when you’re working in misalignment with who you are or who you came to be.
When I absorbed that in reading from your book, it articulated exactly what I’ve been feeling in trying to share as well. I was an actuarial major in my 1st or 2nd semester in college, which might as well be an accountant. I didn’t even last a semester. Good for you for getting a degree in one. The reason I entered that is that there’s a job that’s needed. There are people whose purpose aligns with being an accountant or an actuary. You and I didn’t. When you’re out of alignment and not living that joyful place from wholeness, you get sick. That’s exactly why purpose was on the wellness wheel. Some people can do those jobs that align with who they are.
Work is love made visible.
The second reaction I have when I was getting the dots connected from your information was wellness is not the absence of disease. That was the thing that drove me. Still, I get uncomfortable with the words health or wellness because I’m in a little bit of a rut with the thought that means that your blood pressure’s under control or you’re medicated.
You talk a lot about prevention, whether it’s because you’re in alignment with your purpose, how you’re feeling your body or how you’re managing your stress, all those good things. I celebrate you for identifying that wellness is not the absence of disease or managing it. It’s preventing you from entering and living this amazing life of optimal wellbeing because you’re in alignment.
It’s about being proactive. Once the disease is there, do what you need to do about it. I even provide recommendations at the back of the book. While you are in a good place or you’re only on 1 pill as opposed to 10, do something about the 1. Be proactive about preventing the other nine.
On your offerings and the ways that you support people on either their journey back to wellness or their journey on wellness, you have so many great things that you offer. When I was on your website signing up so that I could absorb your information in real-time, there was a beautiful, complementary offering that I downloaded in your handbook on wellness and supporting people’s journeys. Can you give an overview in case anyone’s like, “I need a tool, whether it’s for self, someone I love or someone I know to help them on their journey?” Your toolkit does that.
I have multiple offerings. The other thing that’s in the back of my mind is another one I’m getting ready to come out with. I’m still working, tweaking the name but it’s a seven-week blueprint to optimal wellbeing. It builds on the framework of our seven chakras and what each chakra controls. It’s one thing you can do every day for 7 days for 7 weeks to strengthen your area according to your securities, your root chakra, will or power that is within your solar. That’s what’s getting ready to come out.
If you look at my logo, it says, Dr. Sheron Brown, Inspiring Bliss. My offerings are always going to be about wanting to inspire you to improve your physical, emotional or spiritual wellbeing. Regardless of what I put out, ultimately, that’s what it’s going to do. That’s why health coaching and cooking demonstrations appeal to me. It all matters. We’re not these disconnected puzzle pieces. We’re one whole being.
That sparked in me the concept of the root cause. They’re all interconnected, whether that’s within oneself, family unit, community or as a globe. Something else that you and I share is this passion for root cause interconnectivity, the betterment and support of the wellbeing of all.
I attended your summit. You told your story about when you were out of alignment, breaking out into highs and you didn’t understand what was going on. I wanted to jump out of my seat and say, “M, too,” but I said, “No, Sheron. This is her summit. Be quiet. Sit here.” What happened was I left the education space. This is before 2017. I tried to leave several times but when you’re afraid, you go back to what you know.
The last time I went back, I suffered from severe acne for about two years. I could not understand. It was all over my face. I don’t even have pictures of myself during that time. It was so bad that I didn’t want to document it. I tried everything you see on TV. I never connected but the day came when I decided I am leaving K12. “This is not where I’m supposed to be. Being a teacher is in me but not a teacher like this and of this content. I need to go off.” I don’t know how I’m going to do it but I need to leave. I allow myself to flow into the next thing.
I couldn’t believe it. I’m still in shock when I tell this story but the next day, when I woke up, they were gone. I said, “Was my body trying to tell me all this time?” When I dated it back, it’s like, “When did I start having the acne issue?” It was when I returned to K12. That was amazing. Talking about the root cause, yes, your body will let you know what’s going on. Pay attention. If something is going on with your wellness, you’re not well and ill in any way, your body is trying to tell you something.
The main reason collaboration doesn’t work is because of communication, competition and burnout.
That’s why the summit was called Find It Within Yourself. No one knows the answers better than ourselves. Our bodies, experiences and feelings are guiding us, yet we medicate, dissociate, distract, consume and stuff them, whatever it is. If we could be present, experience with curiosity and not be so fearful, we can be guided to our inner knowing because we already have the answers and the spark within. Here’s great news. The feedback from the summit was so breathtaking that the date has already been set for 2023. I’ve already asked some doctor from St. Pete if she is going with it. I’ll be getting you information on that very soon but that was a spoiler alert.
Take us through your second offering, which is your second book, The Conscious Collaboration Pathway. As I read that, I was sitting at a restaurant waiting for some friends to arrive. I highlight it, take a picture of it and send it to you. I’m like, “You’re killing me, girl.” You have concisely and beautifully taken all of my crazy and put it in a digestible way. What does Conscious Collaboration mean?
You were digesting it as you waited for dinner. The book came to me while I was waiting for some folks to meet me for a Thank You dinner. I was showing appreciation and about to write notes to myself to thank them for this and that. I took a pen out. I didn’t even write thanks. I downloaded it and write a book on collaboration. Right there, while I waited for them, I wrote the outline for the book. The next week, I got to work.
I wrote the Conscious Collaboration book because, in the re-imagining of what the Tampa Bay Healthcare Collaborative, TBHC could be, one of the things that I saw was we have the opportunity. We say that we foster collaboration but how do we do it? Let’s do it. In doing the work of fostering collaborations, we started to see what worked, what kind of work, what didn’t work, why was it that initiatives started great to serve the community that would eventually fizzle out?
Having spoken to leaders that worked at foundations who tried to fund in collaborative initiatives and later on defunding them, finding out what the reasons were and doing a lot of research, reading and seeing what I was seeing. Taking down in my notes is what the literature was saying. The main reason I have a little something that I haven’t put out yet that talks about the top three reasons why collaborations don’t work is because of communication, competition and burnout.
What’s happening is while we show up every day as change makers, leaders of change and nonprofit leaders with beautiful intentions to do beautiful work in the world, to help those who need the help, we get in our way because of those three things, competition, communication and burnout. The Conscious Collaboration Pathway is an eight-step guide. It’s a process for establishing collaborative relationships that is bringing consciousness or awareness to the process. We don’t just show up with our fancy titles doing this great work but we show up as human beings to work with and serve each other as we figure out how to serve those that our organizations exist for.
It’s of self or community. How we started the summit together was, “Hi, my name is.” Normally, when we enter a room, we come in with our baggage of, “This is who I am. This is who I work for. This is my title. This is my experience. These are the acronyms after my name.” I’m giggling because I knew many of the summit attendees and how dynamic and amazing they are.
I loved how we stripped down to, “Hi, I’m Christin.” We’re able to connect with ourselves. I labeled this thing called “Christin in this body,” but that was as down as we got. When it’s for the betterment of all, irrespective of how it affects you, I do believe more than not, that’s what I do as an individual. I enter a space and be a part of that space, irrespective of what I get out of the space, even if it could take away from what I have.
That is consciously what I feel I do. I take a community that’s got budgets, job titles, ROI and then convince your board. “We’re going to collaborate. We may lose funding because it is a scary process.” I’m headquartered anywhere but our summit is in Colaboratory. The first thing I said to you after having dinner was, “Come on down and check this out.” You are in alignment and you’re blessing Colaboratory with your wisdom as well. Thank you for that. I want to get back to this concept of conscious collaboration where the self is secondary to the collective, vitality, vibrancy and ultimate win because we’re all interconnected.
The first step has to do with all parties agreeing that everyone will walk away whole because all parties will agree on the win-win for each of us. How do you not win when you start like that and then commit throughout the process? There’s a thing that I didn’t realize until I made a declaration. “From then on, I’m emphasizing love.” I went back into my journal like, “I said that last year so I’ve already been doing that.” Unlimited love where self being secondary. I don’t know if it’s so much self being secondary but it is an emphasis on unlimited love. The wellbeing of someone else is as important as your wellbeing. That’s what I want us to bring into the space.
As an individual, I’m pretty comfortable with that, yet when I put on my consulting hat or corporate organization hat, that’s a scary space. Thank you for bringing that in.
The wellbeing of someone else is just as important as your own wellbeing.
I understand what that means when I hear it. My question to change makers who are also decision-makers is, “If you want to improve the life of whatever the population is that you serve, people who experience homelessness, veterans, single mothers, allow yourself to think through ten steps down the road. How does this decision help?” It might help short-term but it might harm long-term. If you think from the place of your humanity and think ten steps down the road, it shouldn’t be scary. It should be the thing that you want to do because your mission statement says it.
You help challenge me. As I digested and devoured that deliciousness, what sparked in me was when I used the word scary, I was thinking not of myself but of others who are courageous and forward-thinking and they get bit in the butt by their org. You talk about that in your book. Maybe not everybody’s in alignment in the organization or on the board of the organization, then maybe you get let go. That is not scary because that means you’re out of alignment.
Sheron, since I’ve seen you at the summit, I’ve had that conversation daily, if not multiple times a day, about if you’re going to let fear guide you and how you do it because maybe you’ll get let go, you’re in the wrong place anyway. I look back at myself and other friends who have been let go by organizations that we were misaligned with and it was the greatest gift ever.
If it’s scary and you think you can get let go because of it, there’s a possibility you may not be let go. You’ll be a disruptor bringing about the good change that needs to happen for whatever population it is you’re serving or whatever your mission is. I want to add that piece there. You may get let go. If you do, is it the right place for you anyway? If you don’t get let go, then good. You get to flow in who you are.
This happened. That brought back to full circle to when you’re present or in the moment, when you be, you know who you are, you’re in alignment with purpose and then you actualize in your world that purpose, you are guided to be where it is you’re supposed to be to do that work. That’s happened to me.
Another gift you give any room you’re in is the closure of that loop. In closing of this beautiful loop, I want to land this plane with you when you’re searching for that spark within, the optimal wellbeing and purpose. Please go to SheronBrown.com. There are all kinds of tools. Your book’s coming out in February 2022.
It’s coming out on January 18th, 2022 but the launch party is on February 14th, 2022 for the love of health equity.
The book is available but the launch party is on my calendar for 10:00 AM, Eastern Standard Time on Valentine’s Day of 2022. In closure, summarize for me what downloads for you when someone is searching to find that spark within. What is something that you are inspired to share?
I would ask the person reading and willing to engage, first of all, “What is it that you believe? What is your belief system?” If there is none, that’s another conversation that we have to have another episode for. If there is and you believe that divine is within you and abundance surrounds you, I would ask you, “Do your thoughts and actions align with what you believe?”
If you’re making decisions from a place of fear, scarcity and not love, then they’re not in alignment. You have the head knowledge about what you believe but you don’t have the heart knowledge. I would ask you to begin to do your work so that what’s in your head can be in your heart and what you believe is what you live.
As we reflect on opening up, being in tune and leading from our hearts instead of our heads, I can’t thank you enough for taking the time to connect. You shine so brightly like a beacon. You are an incredible spirit. I am humbled and honored to walk this chapter with you. I want to express immense gratitude for your authentic offerings.
I appreciate you very much, Christin. Thank you so much for having me.
This will wrap up our edition with Dr. Brown. Please go ahead and access her website. Check her out on social media. I follow her and she’s amazing at it. You can also check us out on the Westshore TEDx. The date for that is February 18th, 2022, which is a Friday in Westshore, in the Tampa area. Come on down and join us. It’s going to be an amazing day with amazing presenters. I’m very excited to hear what Dr. Brown shares with us.
I’m excited to hear what you’re going to say. I have a feeling they’re going to be very much connected.
We’re very much connected. Until next time. Be loved.
- Tampa Bay Healthcare Collaborative
- Her Phoenix Rising
- The Wellness-Purpose Connection
- Inspiring Bliss
- Find It Within Yourself
- The Conscious Collaboration Pathway
- Westshore TEDx – Dr. Sheron Brown
About Sheron Brown
Dr. Sheron Brown is a woman with, and driven by, purpose and vision. In her current role as Executive Director of the Tampa Bay Health Collaborative (TBHC), Dr. Brown
has a keen focus on bringing individuals and organizations together to work collaboratively towards health equity. Her innovative and modern approaches to establishing partnerships and encouraging resource-sharing have been recognized by Tampa Bay Times and St. Pete Catalyst.
Prior to joining the Tampa Bay Healthcare Collaborative, Dr. Brown founded and operated a private health and wellness practice, Sweet Eden by Sheron. Through her company, Dr. Brown served as a wellness educator, consultant and coach to schools, school leaders, and women of color who struggled with chronic disease. Today, she uses her passion for harmony and health equity to help all parties she connects with via TBHC to leverage their identity individually and collectively as well as embrace their personal and collective power to bring about transformation within the community.
Dr. Brown holds a Ph.D. in Professional Studies in Education from Capella University in Minneapolis, MN, a Master’s degree in Education from the University of New Haven in West Haven, CT, and a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting from Howard University in Washington, DC.