Balancing the Grind with Dr. Amy Silver, Psychologist & Author

Dr. Amy Silver is a psychologist, speaker and author. Her latest book, The Loudest Guest: How to change and control your relationship with fear is available now.

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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?

My career has been a mission of helping people move beyond fear. Initially this was in the world of therapy and research as a clinical psychologist.

Then I moved to Oxford University to teach other clinical psychologists and furthered my research in the area of fear and how it contributes to chronic fatigue. I left this career to have what I thought was a year off.

I wanted to learn to play properly and so I applied and was very grateful to get into a drama school. I ended up being picked up by an agent and had a few unsuccessful years treading the boards! This was a wonderful experience.

One of the roles I had was to be an actress for a training company, to help in their training days as a person to do role plays e.g. a patient or a difficult customer. I was so surprised they didn’t use all the tools that I knew were so effective in helping people change.

My current role is as a speaker, facilitator and culture changer! I help individuals (via The Courage Club), teams (via high performance team programs) and whole cultures. My programs help people move beyond fear so they can be more courageous and have more courageous conversations.

2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?

I wake at about 6.30 and prepare myself a complete supplement drink. If I have time I will go for a run. I have three children so the day usually starts with them, lunches and school drop offs. And coffee, long black.

Pick up from school is often prioritised too as it is really important to me that I do pick and drop offs for school and is really one of the reasons I love the freedom I have to schedule my work to my hours to my desire.

I don’t typically eat till late lunchtime. There is no typical day although I try to keep a rhythm to my days. Monday and Friday are as empty as possible to enable me to do a crucial part of my world, thinking. I have a day of meetings which includes my one-on-one sessions with executives (part of some of my programs).

I have another two days which are used to deliver my programs via training or facilitating. At least twice a week I speak, currently virtually!

3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?

There were some changes that needed to happen earlier as we all faced our new rules. I invested quickly in equipment to make sure that my speaking engagements could still be maintained to a high quality.

We rearranged the rooms at home to enable me to have a flexible studio space to work. For a while it got hectic and I definitely pulled back on parenting. Of course, they were delighted to have access to tech when they wanted and it seemed like the only option.

Gradually over this past year we have readdressed the boundaries for them, our work, and our time together. It still slips sometimes!

4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?

I struggle with this question. Most of my work is pleasure. I outsource as much of the things I don’t like as I can. I have a wonderful team who are capable of exactly the things that I am not.

I also have a bit of a rule that I only work with people I want to, I’m very strict about that. I will not take a client on if I get vibes that it won’t be fun! I also am very clear about what my programs are designed to do and don’t deviate from what I know my expertise is. So what is work and what is a hobby is difficult to determine!

The thing I have to watch for is that I have a great imagination and can see the possibility of my practice and I have big ambitions. With no end to what I could do, there is no natural stop sign!

5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?

I have gone to the gym twice a week for over four years. It started as a coping strategy to deal with a few bulging discs. I am now stronger than I ever have been.

I have been running 2 or 3 times a week over the past 12 years. This consistency has meant that I have listened to much spoken word through podcasts and audiobooks. This year I also started to take a powerful daily mixture of vitamins and minerals.

I also have been writing more than ever before! I authored a book of my own (The Loudest Guest: How to change and control your relationship with fear) and co-authored three other books (Brace for Impact; Unite, What the Hell do we do now). I do try (!) and publish my blog, Silverlinings, at least monthly.

6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?

I really like listening to Dax Shepard (Armchair Expert) as he has great guests and has a very authentic and real way of interviewing them. And a wonderful podcast series was Dolly Parton’s USA, oh I loved that and was bereft when it finished!

A book I always find myself recommending is Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. I love the main idea she proposes which is that creativity is an entity that floats about and looks for a home. If we are lucky it lands in us, but if we don’t use it, it will find another home So use it when it comes!

7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?

I use an Oura ring to plot my sleep. It helps me check not just on the amount of sleep I have but the quality. It makes recommendations on what to do and it makes me feel in control of my sleep.

8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?

I find it very inspiring to listen to or read about artists who are so consumed by their art and want to channel everything into their authoring, acting, painting, dancing or composing. They give so completely to their passion, committing to their ‘now’ so deeply. But many seem to get lost, the balance must be hard to find when the passion is so strong.

9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

Life becomes more full and comes more easily if you put down your worries and fears. We waste so much of our energy debating with our fear voices in our heads and we feel so minimised when fear has control over us.

Avoidance or defensiveness (flight or fight) mechanisms are strong in us and learning how to control our fear so we can move beyond it is key for us achieving what we want. Learning how to move with courage towards what we want, not what fear wants, is how you will get the life.

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About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.