Reboot Podcast Episode Extras #15 – Working With Chronic Pain – with Liz Fosslien & Mollie West Duffy

The Reboot podcast showcases the heart and soul, the wins and losses, the ups and downs of startup leadership. On the show, Entrepreneurs, CEO’s, and Startup Leaders discuss with Jerry Colonna the emotional and psychological challenges they face daily as leaders.


Liz Fosslien

Liz Fosslien

author and illustrator

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Mollie West Duffy

Mollie West Duffy


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Episode Description

Chronic illness and chronic pain are topics that can bring up a big mix of interconnected feelings — uncertainty, burnout, anger, and even despair. They also challenge our perfectionism, make comparisons hard to stop, and can bring up thoughts of shame or even regrets.

In this podcast, Ali kicks off the first in a series of conversations with Liz Fosslien and Mollie West Duffy authors of the book Big Feelings: How to Be Okay When Things Are Not Okay. The trio shares openly about what chronically ails them, and how they manage it in their personal and work worlds. They describe the loneliness that comes with battling mysterious illnesses and undiagnosed pain. They introduce us to “spoon theory,” and share some advice for how to hold space and offer support to the folks in your work life with chronic illness or chronic pain.  

Big Feelings: How to Be Okay When Things Are Not Okay |

Show Highlights

Top Quotes:

“Mentally I can push through anything, and I think that’s made me successful. But, the flip side of that skill is that I push through things physically that I shouldn’t push through.” – Mollie West Duffy

“Even though you might look perfectly fine on the outside, on the inside the engine doesn’t run. You’re missing some spark plugs and there are a few janky tires. And no grease in the wheels.” – Ali Schultz

“When you’re dealing with chronic illness or chronic health issues, you have a certain number of spoons every day. And if you use them up, you don’t get more that day.” – Mollie West Duffy

“I think it’s hard to ask your colleagues to be accepting of it [chronic illness] if you, yourself, are not accepting and you’re still judging yourself.” – Mollie West Duffy

“Giving someone else grace is a way for you to ensure that you have it in five years, in two months, whenever you end up needing it because you probably will.” – Liz Fosslien 

“What are we creating in our workplaces and what kinds of workplaces are we creating? Can they hold the whole of humanity?” – Ali Schultz

“Honestly, just saying ‘that sounds really hard’ or ‘that sounds really difficult,’ can mean a lot. You do not need to solve it for them. You don’t need to give them your own theory about why it’s happening. Just saying that sounds really hard is about all you need to do as a colleague.” – Mollie West Duffy

“There are so many stories of people who are going to great lengths to deal with their health problems and work at the same time. Many aren’t honest about it because of the shame that they may still feel around it.” – Mollie West Duffy

“There’s so much I think of modern work that is very ableist. Not everybody has a clear brain and a body functioning at 100% in order to be a type A worker bee. And yet people can still do wonderful things and contribute in great ways and be lovely parts of teams and organizations.” – Ali Schultz

“We should start viewing accommodations and new ways of working as a necessity for everyone.” – Liz Fosslien

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