Jenna Hermans is an entrepreneur, wife, mother of four, speaker, certified high performance coach, and author of the revolutionary book Chaos to Calm. Even if you are stretched for time, this is an easy read and highly beneficial. In this book Hermans teaches us many ways to own our own calm and live life to the fullest. I recently sat down with the inspirational author to learn more about her book and how it all started.
Tell us about yourself and how you got to where you are today.
I’m a California gal, originally from Los Angeles and now living in the San Francisco Bay Area with my husband and four kids. Before getting married and moving to San Francisco, I completed my Master’s in Organizational Management while heading up the Human Resources for a hospitality company. Oh, and I managed a preschool at the same time. I could be described as ambitious, for sure.
There I was, single and feeling like I had my future figured out, when I fell head-over-heels in love, married my husband, and became an instant mom of three kids. Major life change! Shortly after we got married, we moved to San Francisco, added a 4th child to our family, and started Be Courageous, our consulting company helping businesses infuse courage into their leadership and company culture.
I experienced a serious identity whiplash with how quickly my life shifted. I’d gone from being a single person, taking care of only myself and my cat, to becoming a wife and mom of four. On top of that, my husband traveled extensively for our business, while I managed the operations of our business and our home. I tried to do it all without a local support system of family and friends in a new city. ?After a huge mental breakdown, I realized I had lost touch with who I was and didn’t recognize the person I had become. I had been making everyone else the priority during transitions and didn’t stop to consider my own transition in this new phase of life. So I began taking care of me and figuring out who I was at my core.
Over the next few years, I discovered who I wanted to be as a parent, partner, and colleague. I learned how to make my life as smooth, integrative, efficient and connected as possible. Along this journey, I became a dedicated student to the concept of calm.
When did you begin writing and what was your inspiration for Chaos to Calm?
I’ve been writing all my life, but only thought about writing a book about four years ago. I had found myself in a daily state of chaos and was totally overwhelmed. After a season of consistent and debilitating panic and anxiety attacks, I realized the way I was living was not sustainable or the life that I wanted to live. I made an intentional choice to tackle chaos headfirst and reduce the overwhelm.
When our youngest started preschool, about 18 months after my last panic attack, we were meeting lots of new families and exchanging our stories – how many kids we have, where we’re from, what brought us to SF, and so on. Upon hearing our story, many parents asked what we were doing to make life run so smoothly, as we had more responsibilities and fewer resources and support than them. After this happened a number of times, I began reflecting on what we do in our home and what structures we have in place that make our lives run so much calmer than most while having four kids under 12 years old and demanding professional lives as well. These reflections became the initial content for Chaos to Calm.
Your life is extremely busy with work and four children. How did you find the time to write and complete an actual book?
I love this question! The question “How do you have the time to…” started this whole journey, and the answer is what I share often with my clients and in talks. When I started writing the book, I wrote in tiny increments – jotting notes and voice memos when inspiration struck. As the book took more shape and form, with deadlines to meet, my calendar became my biggest tool in carving out time to write. I am a time management ninja. I schedule blocks of time to ensure all my priorities are met. Additionally, I woke up early and stayed up late to have uninterrupted time writing and editing, without the pinging of Slack, email notifications, and phone call interruptions. Although sleep is a key pillar in the foundation of calm, I was happy to sacrifice hours for this period of time knowing it was an investment towards my goal of finishing this book.
Do you see yourself writing another book or do you have any new exciting plans for the future?
Since the beginning of this book, my mind has been in a state of creation, and loads of other book concepts have been flowing through me. I have to remind myself, “One at a time, Jenna!” It’s so easy for me to start a new project before the current one is complete (I have ADD to thank for that.)
Right now, I’m in the beginning phases of book #2. I’m also bringing calm into the corporate environment, partnering with HR departments and Employee Resource Groups to support their employees and leaders with owning their calm in both their professional and personal settings through workshops, speaking engagements, as well as individual and group coaching.
What are your top life lessons you have learned so far in your journey?
Lessons never end. As a perpetual learner with an insatiable curiosity for the human existence, I see all experiences as learning opportunities.
One of the top lessons I’ve learned is that the map is not the territory. You can follow a step-by-step or systematic approach, but ultimately no one can prepare you for what the journey is going to look like while you are on it. Once you are there, the landscape can look really scary and intimidating. But staying the course and persevering, especially when it feels the hardest, will get you where you need to go. Persistence will win!
Another insight is that while a journey can be long and challenging, it’s the journey that is rich with lessons and is where the gold lies, and not the finish line. Appreciating and enjoying the journey will make reaching the destination that much more meaningful because of all of the self-discovery and learning received along the way.
A third lesson learned is that it’s so important to celebrate micro-wins along the way. On days I didn’t want to write, I would celebrate having written just a single sentence. When completing a chapter, I had a mini dance party, either by myself or with my family. The journey is long, and we need to break it up and celebrate the moments within long spells of chugging and hustling. And it doesn’t have to be all hard. There’s no need to be a martyr on the way to the finish line. You can reach a goal however you want. It’s your choice and yours alone.
I often talk to my clients about “the threshold of acceptability.” This is when a deliverable, project or outcome is good enough to be called “complete,” so they can move on to the next priority.
I had to practice calling things complete after they crossed the threshold of acceptability on many occasions throughout the book-creation process. There was always more I could have written, more editing that could have been done, different color schemes or book covers that could have been chosen or debated. But at a certain point, I had to make the decision for it to be complete, otherwise the book would never be finished.
This happened specifically when deciding on the cover of the book. I had a hard time finalizing the details of the cover and after our last round of design edits, I had a thought to make one last final design adjustment. After a conversation with my editor, she made it clear to me that adjusting the cover, even ever so slightly, wouldn’t add any benefit to my readers and would push out the publication date. I decided the cover crossed the threshold of acceptability and was ready to go to print rather than cost more money and time.
Do you have one or two mom hacks you swear by?
Oh, do I! I swear by having a curious mindset. When it comes to parenting, one of the hacks that keeps me grounded is asking questions. I ask questions for clarity to show I care to understand. I ask how they want me to listen, to show I’m here to support whatever they need. I ask about the big and the small of their days, i.e.: how did the quiz go, were there any playground events, what was something during the day that made them smile?
I also swear by what I call the ‘brilliant basics.’ These are simple, but often overlooked self-care rituals for daily groundedness and calm. The list of basics are: getting sufficient sleep, eating healthy, staying hydrated, exercise, connection to people outside of the home, and connection to nature.
Anything else we should know?
The calm doesn’t stop at my book! Make sure to subscribe on my website so you can get calm in your inbox, jennahermans.com.
To read Herman’s book and bring tranquility back into your life, visit https://jennahermans.com/book/