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Our CEO on Mindsets for Success and the Foundations of Self-Care

Our CEO on Mindsets for Success and the Foundations of Self-Care

An edited version of this interview with Ingrid Harbo first appeared on District Fray as part of its 20 Masters of Mindfulness, Movement + Connection roundup in the Winter 2021 issue.

Start by telling us a bit about your journey and how it brought you to your current role?

I wouldn’t know where to begin.  My path has been too circuitous to be helpful, or even relevant.  What I’ve found to be more relevant is mindset.

There are certain characteristics—some inherent, but most developed or learned—that are responsible for bringing me to my current role.  

The path from here to better is rarely linear.  And getting to better is an endless pursuit with no clear destination.  Along the way, we are occasionally presented with opportunities disguised as problems.  And so an insatiable curiosity and a willingness to show up—every day—are prerequisites to better.  Without a desire to understand and the willingness to work, problems are likely to remain problems.

…or maybe I just have a problem with authority, don’t like rules or being told what to do, and I am naïve enough to think I can make things better. 

Who’s to say?

How are you practicing and prioritizing self care, especially in the midst of a pandemic?

A checklist.  

The truth is that my memory is sh*t.  If I don’t intentionally create the environment that makes caring for myself easy, I will forget.  Inevitably, months will pass before I inadvertently remind myself why I need consistent sleep, or exercise, or play, or connection, or whatever it is I had to re-learn—in an often painful and visceral way—is essential to my wellbeing.  

Over time I have discovered there are certain non-negotiables for me.  These evolve with my priorities, but a few are foundational and will likely never change: 

(1) Sleep.  A minimum of seven, ideally eight, hours per night.  I wish I had genetics that allowed me to consistently be my best after five hours of sleep, but I guess we can’t all be like Jocko Willink (i.e., go to sleep at 11 PM and wake up at 4:30 AM).
(2) Exercise.  A thoughtful and structured program designed with my goals and lifestyle in mind.  I am fortunate to work with a good friend and incredibly smart coach, Chris Garay at Physicality DC.
(3) Nutrition.  A ton of healthy food to support my active lifestyle (along with the occasional pizza, cookies, and ice cream).
(4) Play.  In his book Essentialism, Greg McKeown defines play as “anything we do simply for the joy of doing rather than as a means to an end—whether it’s flying a kite or listening to music or throwing around a baseball…”  For me, play has historically been adrenaline-filled physical activities or sports—surfing, rock climbing, snowboarding, basketball—but these days it’s handstands and chess (at least until I can get back to the beach).

What does self compassion mean to you?


Recognition that we’re only human (+ a dash of deterministic perspective).  

A better answer:  In today’s digital world, everyone’s “best self” is on full display, 24/7, which makes it easy to assume that everyone is living with conviction and clarity of purpose—as confident, focused, and generous as you are on your best day.  But that’s not likely.  

Once we realize there are many others, all over the world, experiencing similar challenges and facing similar struggles (and more), self-compassion is easier to find.

How do you incorporate it into your health/mindfulness/fitness practice?


Meditation.  And community by choice, not by default—intentionally surrounding myself with people I admire and care about, and who aren’t afraid to challenge me.