Blog Personal Growth and Mental Health

This Is the Reason You Suck At Making Decisions (And What You Can Do About It)

A political scientist and economist in the 50s named Herbert A. Simon first coined the terms Maximizer and Satisficer. If you suck at making decisions, it’s probably because you’re a Maximizer.

When Maximizers approach decisions, they are perfectionists. They want to review every single option. They want to know everything before they move forward and make a choice.

For example, if they were going to buy a new computer, they wouldn’t just do a little research, pick something and move on. They would research for a long time until they felt like they knew everything, until they knew all of their possible options. And only then after agonizing research and weighing pros and cons, would they make a decision.

Not only does this approach take a lot of time and energy, it’s also a quest for something that is likely unattainable. It’s impossible to know FOR SURE what the best option is no matter how much research you do. So the search for the “perfect” or “best” option is generally fruitless.

Satisficers on the other hand, are the total opposite. The word “Satisficers” comes from the word satisfied, so these people pick an option that is good enough and move on.

If a Satisficer was buying a computer, they would Google computers, pick the first or second thing they saw, buy it and move on with their life. Unsurprisingly, it’s been found that people who are Satisficers tend to be happier and have less depression and anxiety than people who are maximizers.

So if you’re a Maximizer, like me, what can you do to have a happier life? Here’s what I came up with. 

There’s something that Dr. Barry Schwartz calls “the paradox of choice.” Basically, this means that if you have too many options, you will be overwhelmed, and the decision making process will become really stressful. When you finally do choose something, you will be less satisfied with your choice than you would have been if you had had fewer options.

So understanding what we know about Satisficers and Maximizers and what we know about the paradox of choice, what I came up with is something I call, “great enough.” 

I am not willing to be a full Satisficer and just settle by picking something that’s “good enough,” but I AM willing to settle on something that’s GREAT enough.

What that means for me is when I’m in the information gathering phase of decision making, I will do some research, but I will limit the amount of time I spend in information gathering mode. 

As soon as I find an option that is “great enough” (not perfect), I pick it and I move on.

Blog Business and Leadership

How to Make a Big Pivot in Your Business Without Risking Everything

There are countless examples of well known companies making massive pivots. Amazon started out as an online bookstore. Netflix was once a company that mailed physical DVDs to peoples’ homes. In retrospect, these pivots seem like obvious moves (hindsight and all that). But at the time, these reinventions were massive risks.

For every example of a successful business pivot though, there are hundreds more failures.

Businesses who are too risk averse and fail to pivot can be left behind (RIP Blockbuster), while those who bet all their chips on an idea that doesn’t pan out, go under. 

When you own a small business that supports your family, these stakes can feel very high. 

So how do we balance risk and opportunity when it comes to new ideas?

By new ideas I don’t necessarily mean a massive overhaul like changing your core offering. Something like pivoting your primary lead gen strategy, which could be totally necessary in the face of a changing market, could have a disastrous impact if not approached strategically.
At Interview Connections, we’ve learned this the hard way.

We have taken bold risks and made massive moves, and some of them didn’t work. Trying something that doesn’t work is part of life (and definitely part of business) but where we really learned our lesson was the times when we didn’t realize fast enough that something wasn’t working, and we ended up paying for it (in both money and sleepless nights).

Luckily, none of these things put us under; they served as learning experiences and we were able to bounce back stronger. But they DID hurt enough to really drill this lesson home. 

Today when we implement a new idea, we do it in a specific way so we can maximize learning and opportunity, and mitigate risk. Instead of spending lots of time on hypotheticals, creating a big plan that’s built on assumptions (the flimsiest of building materials), we now approach change the agile way; by running small tests and experiments.

By running small, structured experiments, we are able to shorten our learning cycles and stay on top of the data around changes so we aren’t caught by surprise. It also allows us to start trying new things sooner. Instead of having to wait until next quarter for a big roll out, we can start moving in a new direction right away with small increments that give us immediate feedback in real time.

So if there are things in your business you want to change or try, here’s how to set up an experiment:  
  • Be realistic about how many things you can change at one time and learn to prioritize
Most entrepreneurs love shiny objects and new things. We want results yesterday, and sometimes this means we try to change too many things at the same time. While initially appealing, running too many experiments at the same time (i.e. changing too many things at the same time) can cause chaos and sabotage the success of all of your initiatives. Get clear with yourself and your team on how many things you feel comfortable changing at once and the priority of each thing. If everything is priority, nothing is, so getting crystal clear on this is huge. Once you have that clarity, start with the most important experiment first.  
  • Base your hypothesis and assumptions on actual data as much as possible
To run an experiment you need a hypothesis. You obviously believe the thing you are trying will improve your business in some way or you wouldn’t be trying it. There is always going to be a decent amount of assumption in these, which is why we are running the experiments in the first place (to see if your assumptions are accurate). That being said, it’s a good idea to identify in the very beginning what data or vital signs you can track that will objectively let you know if you are on the right track or not.  
  • Create a time box for your experiment that balances time for learning with realistic limitations
Creating a time box on your experiment is huge. The boundaries of a time box increase learning, lower risk, and ensure you actually follow up on whether you want to continue the new idea or not. Different experiments will require different size timeboxes, and you’ll have to decide what is right for your company and for your experiment. A few things to consider are:  
  • How high risk is this? How long can we afford to let this run?
There may be certain experiments that have very high stakes. An example would be making a massive change about how you generate and close sales in your business. While a full 6 months of data might be ideal, if your business can’t afford to see lower sales for 6 months while you try something new, then this time box is too long. In a situation like that, I would look at 30-90 days.  
  • How long will it take to truly see results with this? How long before we have meaningful information we can use to move forward?
Get honest with yourself about how long it will take to truly know if something is working. There will likely be a healthy tension between how long it would ideally take to see full results and how long it feels “safe” to try something new. If you know it will take you a full 90 days to truly evaluate something but you only have 30 days of cushion if it doesn’t work, you may want to go back to the drawing board and start with something smaller.  
  • Make sure your whole team is fully enrolled in the experiment
If you have a team or will be working with others to execute this experiment, it’s important to take the time to communicate as a group and get on the same page. If everyone isn’t actively enrolled in the experiment, it can sabotage your results very quickly.  
  • Agree as a group in the beginning what success and failure look like, and under what circumstances you would stop or pivot the experiment
Once you and your team agree on the hypothesis and time box for your experiment, make agreements around how you know if the experiment is failing or succeeding, and agree under what circumstances you would stop or pivot the experiment early (before the conclusion of the timebox). There are absolutely valid reasons to call off an experiment, but those need to be established before you start. Otherwise, there could be disagreement and frustration within your team.  
  • Regularly review how it is going and what you are learning using as much data as possible
As a company we work in sprints (2 weeks or 1 month, depending on the department) and at the end of every sprint we do a retrospective reviewing how the sprint went and what we learned. This is the time where we review any experiments we are running, look at as much data as possible and evaluate what we are learning, whether we want to continue and whether our hypothesis is holding true.  
  • At the end of the time box, decide as a group how to move forward 
At the end of your agreed upon time box, discuss as a team how it went, what you learned, and what to do going forward. Some experiments may end, others may require more time to determine success (create a new extended timebox) and successful experiments will be integrated into the day to day and no longer be considered experiments. Change is a beautiful thing, and when we as leaders provide structure and encourage learning, we foster environments of innovation and engagement. So what experiment are you going to run next?
Blog Personal Growth and Mental Health

Regulating Your Nervous System and Self Forgiveness Need to Go Hand in Hand 

The interesting thing about growing and improving as a person is it can sometimes be a double edged sword.

As I learned to regulate my nervous system through EMDR and now neurosomatic training, I started to feel like a different person. I had more perspective and could respond to things without being so reactive. My inner world became a much more peaceful place, and the constant pain and angst began to recede.

This is a really good thing and if you have done this work, you know how powerful these shifts are. So many negative things we thought were part of our personality turn out to be symptoms of dysregulation and unresolved trauma that go away the more we heal. They aren’t who we are at all.
As we develop more skills and perspective, we become better and kinder. But with awareness can sometimes come shame. Looking back at how I reacted to situations and people I have felt a lot of shame. Memories will come into my head and I’ll literally cringe.
I feel remorseful for the impact my dysregulation had on other people.
My journey now as I continue to grow and heal is one of forgiveness and compassion. Of recognizing I did the best I could at the level of my awareness and my nervous system at the time and ruminating or beating myself up for situations I handled badly isn’t helpful.
As we grow and find compassion for our flawed past selves, we reach a new level of kindness and compassion for everyone. That’s the journey I’m on now.
If you’ve done the work to grow and are now looking back in horror at your less evolved past self, you are not alone. But that part of you (which is often a much more childlike part) needs love and compassion from you now. It is safe to forgive yourself. You deserve compassion. We all do.
Blog Business and Leadership

Being in the Arena as an Entrepreneur Isn’t All Sunshine and Roses (But It’s Always Worth It)

When we moved into our new house over a year ago, I ordered a framed print on Etsy of The Man in the Arena quote by Theodore Roosevelt to hang in my office. 

I thought to myself, “This will help inspire me while I’m working!” 

I put it up on the wall and never looked at it again… until last week. 

Last week I read that quote and I bawled my eyes out. 

When you see an entrepreneur’s social media highlight reel and think it’s all glamor and being a fabulous “boss babe,” you are seeing a very small piece of the puzzle. 

(Side note: I do not use the term boss babe or really like it. I am a boss. No cutesy, feminine qualifier needed).

As CEO, I am responsible for 22 other human beings (i.e. full time employees). I take risks and make calls that have far reaching implications.

Last week, the leadership team and I made a decision that I knew would be controversial, but that I believed would be in the best interest of the entire team and our clients.

Because of some planned time off one of my leaders had, we decided that the only time we could roll out the change was the following Monday (only days away). This was a lot faster than I had in mind, but felt like the only option with calendar restrictions. 

I hosted a town hall meeting with the whole company to announce the change and address questions and feedback.

My expectation of this meeting was that it would be a fairly calm 30 minute conversation about the change, both the reasoning behind it and coordination of the logistics, with an additional 30 minutes just in case for questions.

The reality was 90+ minutes of me responding to feedback on a wide range of topics, concerns and grievances. Because the conversation went so far outside of what I had prepared for, I felt very much put on the spot.

As nervous systems reacted to the threat of such a large and sudden change, the meeting got increasingly challenging to facilitate and the feedback got a bit pricklier than I think it would have had people been feeling more calm.

Anonymous feedback (via a feedback form) was pouring in live with criticisms ranging from concerns about the change and timing (the topic of the meeting) to questions about pay, other people’s performances, and all kinds of things (not the topic of the meeting).

Many of the feedback items that were off topic for this meeting warranted a one on one conversation or at the very least a well thought out and intentional response on a different meeting.

Because of a miscommunication on how the feedback form would be used, anonymous feedback was unexpectedly read out to me LIVE on zoom in real time, and I did my best to answer each item as calmly, honestly and HR compliantly as possible.

Not all the feedback was off topic; there were questions and comments about the subject of the meeting. 

Many people on the team were understandably frustrated that such a big decision had been made without them (we make many big decisions collaboratively, which made this particularly jarring). 

They also had very legitimate concerns about the whirlwind timing of it going into effect (again, they are hearing this on a Wednesday and it is going into effect on Monday. The turnaround was very fast).

A point was made that I should have talked to certain people one on one about this change before the group announcement, and I apologized on the spot for not doing that because they were right. I should have done that and because of the time pressure and having so much on my plate, I didn’t even think of it until that moment. 

To say phase one of implementation did not go according to plan would be an understatement.

That meeting was one of the most challenging experiences I’ve had as a CEO (at least recently). 

I got off the meeting, gathered my thoughts, did a lot of neuro drills, and yes, cried to the man in the arena quote.

Once I was re-regulated, I was able to:

  1. Reflect on what went well and what did not go well around that meeting and the change rollout
  2. Make notes of things I will do differently next time
  3. See that while the implementation was bumpy, I still do believe that we made the right decision for everyone involved
  4. Be authentic with myself about the discomfort I feel around people being “mad” at me, disappointing others, etc
  5. Appreciate how far I have come as a leader in being resilient at times when I need to receive criticism
  6. Pat myself on the back for showing up, doing my best (even though it wasn’t perfect) and authentically acknowledging my mistakes publicly and apologizing

I chose these challenges when I stepped into leadership, and while the discomfort and mistakes aren’t my favorite part, the learning and growth that comes out of them is well worth it.

I want to be fully authentic about my mistakes and learning because I know it will help others and because being aware and open about failures is how we become better and help others rise with us.

I’m happy with the decision we made. I’m not happy with how it was communicated to my team, and next time I will do better.

To all of you out there who are making bold moves and doing your best, I see you and I’m proud of you. 

And in case you need an extra reminder that you’re a baddie, here’s the full “Man in the Arena ” quote by Theodore Roosevelt:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

Blog Business and Leadership

What To Do When You Are Overwhelmed By New Ideas

Since our company became a fully agile organization, we have unlocked so much energy, innovation, and brilliance from our team. Our employees went from focusing just on their day-to-day tasks (which were often repetitive) to creating and leading massive changes and improvements within the company.

This has overall been a really good thing, but sometimes too much innovation truly becomes… too much.

The other day I was facilitating a meeting with our leaders, and I asked how they were feeling about all the committees and new special projects that were happening. Although hesitant at first, one by one, they began to confess they were feeling overwhelmed. 

We had started so many new things, but very few seemed to be getting finished.

And there were so many new ideas (and meetings about new ideas) that it felt like a distraction from our core purpose: serving our clients at the highest level.

I had come into that meeting with a pre-planned agenda, but it became clear that it was time to abandon that agenda and pivot to focus on the very pressing issue at hand; 

How do we address our innovation overwhelm?

Here is what we did:

1. We Set Up a Kanban Board to Manage Our Ongoing Projects

The Kanban board has been one of the simplest but most effective tools agile has given us. You can create a Kanban board using post-its or create one for virtual teams on a digital platform (we make our Kanban boards on Trello).

A basic Kanban board consists of three columns: “to do,” “doing,” and “done.” (The “to do” column is also known as the backlog). 

By laying out everything the team is working on in this format, we can all see at a glance where each initiative is in the process. Dragging items from column to column until they reach “done” is satisfying and makes sure things aren’t just floating around in limbo or forgotten.

We were already using Kanban boards within our scrum teams but hadn’t created a master Kanban board for company-wide projects. We decided to create a leaders’ Kanban board so we could easily see everything, understand where each project was in process, and know at a glance if we had taken on too much.

2. We Set a Work in Progress Limit to Improve Follow Through

This is a key area where we went wrong initially. 

Because we hadn’t laid out all our new projects in a format we could easily digest at a glance (Kanban board), we hadn’t realized we were taking on way too many things at the same time.

We agreed to set a work-in-progress limit as a team and cap the number of initiatives in each category. By doing fewer things at once, we will be able to be more effective and make sure everything makes it to the “done” column.

3. We Created a Parking Lot for Great (Future) Ideas

We love ideas, and many of our ideas we deemed good and worth implementing. However, thanks to our work-in-progress limit, we knew many of our amazing ideas didn’t fit in our “to do” or “doing” categories without exceeding our WIP limit. 

In order to capture those great ideas without letting them become a distraction, we added a “parking lot” column on our Kanban board right before “to do.” 

Our parking lot is where we keep amazing ideas that we solemnly swear not to implement or even think about until enough of our current initiatives move to “done.” This really helps us learn to prioritize and not get distracted.

4. We Stopped Focusing on the Problems

We had gotten so good at optimizing and problem solving that it became overwhelming. In life and in business, we never run out of problems and things that can be improved. Sometimes it’s important to take a step back and appreciate that your business is not a problem to be solved.

I reminded the team of this. 

Our company is working. We have happy clients. We have a great business. 

When you get so focused on fixing problems, it’s easy to forget how much IS working.

Dan Sullivan really nails this idea in his book, “The Gap and the Gain.” 

Being in the gap is when you measure from where you are to your ideal. The ideal is always in the future and always moving and changing. When you measure this way, it can feel overwhelming and disheartening. In the gap, you feel like you will never arrive because since the goalpost keeps moving, you will, in fact, NEVER arrive.

The gain, on the other hand, is the distance between where you were in the past and where you are now. Gain thinking (similar to gratitude) allows you to appreciate just how far you have come. It’s a place of optimism and appreciation.

When we shifted our perspective from problem-solving to looking at how far we have come in the last 6 months, it eased our overwhelm and put us back into appreciation. The problems to solve felt less frantic and urgent.

5. We Leaned Into Trial and Error

I feel no regret that we got into this situation. 

I truly believe we needed to hit this place of realizing we had taken on too much in order to deepen our understanding of how to manage change and new initiatives more effectively.

You often don’t know where the line is until you find it. 

We didn’t know how many projects would feel like too many for us until we experienced it. Trial and error can feel messy, but it is such an effective tool to gather information and understand things more deeply than theory or hypotheticals could ever take you.

6. We Said “Yes And” to a Pivot

Being an effective leader requires you to be able to stay present and pivot. It’s a lot like improv. 

I came into this meeting with one idea of how it would go, and it became necessary to “yes and” our way to a totally new outcome.

Once I heard everyone’s concerns, I called a halt to all extra meetings. The collective sigh of relief was almost audible. 

We agreed to reconvene in two weeks with our new Kanban board and have an honest and open conversation about which special projects will need to go back to the parking lot (even if they are already in progress) so we can focus more effectively and finish what we start.

Focusing on fewer things can feel like a big ask (especially for a visionary entrepreneur who loves novelty), but it is absolutely the path to more ease and higher impact.

Blog Business and Leadership

The Dangerous Leadership Mistake You Might Be Making In Your Business (And How to Fix It With A Single Conversation)

I recently listened to a book called “Impact Players” by Liz Wiseman, and it was one of those books where I found myself enthusiastically nodding along during my walk.

“Finally!” I thought. “Someone who gets it! Someone who can put words to what so many entrepreneurs and business leaders have experienced.” 

In the past, I wasn’t sure how to articulate what caused one team member to excel with promotions and recognition, and another to seem to miss the mark despite working hard and being an intelligent person.

Impact players put words to how incredibly valuable it is as a business owner to have players who not only work hard but who can understand the bigger picture and work hard on the right things. People who don’t just grind away at the narrow task list within their original job description but have the wisdom to look up, find the important problems that need to be solved within the organization, and take them on. 

When I realized this book was a manual on getting a raise and a promotion, I asked my whole team to read it (on the clock).

One concept in particular in the book struck me. Its mirror image is something I have seen entrepreneurs demonstrate over and over again (to their detriment) regardless of industry or experience level. 

If you have had a team of 10 or more people for multiple years, you probably understand (more deeply than you’d like to) the phenomenon Wiseman refers to as the “quit and stay.” It’s one of the reasons that engagement, not retention, is the true measure of successful leadership (but that’s a whole different article).

Team members who quit and stay are simply going through the motions. They are mentally checked out, but because they fear change or lack the confidence to go for a new job they like more, they just stay. Maybe they don’t have the worst performance or attitude, but they never become an “impact player” because they simply aren’t engaged enough to bring creativity and innovation to their role. 

When I read about “quit and stay,” it resonated deeply. 

“Ugh, yes!” I thought. There was certainly a moment of judgment thinking back on the employees who had embodied this over the years. “I wish they would have just left!” I thought angrily. 

But then I took a step back. It’s very easy to judge others for avoiding the difficult conversations around a role not being a good fit, but they aren’t the only ones. 

I asked myself how this principle might apply to business owners, and I immediately saw the equivalent dysfunction. 

I am calling this mirrored behavior the “fire and keep.” As you can probably guess, this is the same as “quit and stay,” but on the business owner’s end. 

Before I go on, please indulge my Libra leanings and allow me to explicitly acknowledge the nuance here; This is NOT a black and white issue. 

When you have W2 employees, there is a lot of HR involvement in the decision to terminate employees, and even in an “at will” employment state, you often know someone is not a fit but still needs to go through the proper warnings and processes before letting them go (this is not always the case, and you should work with an HR professional… which I am not).

Nevertheless, I have seen dysfunctional  “fire and keep” scenarios play out many times, both within my own organization and with my fellow entrepreneurs. A business owner knows the person isn’t a fit, there are one or more deal breakers, but the issues don’t feel egregious enough to fire the person outright (or they fear confrontation), so they just carry on and hope they quit. 

A lot of this comes down to avoiding hard conversations. We are afraid to rock the boat, afraid to be seen as the “mean boss,” or just don’t trust ourselves enough. Delivering this type of feedback is not easy and takes real practice and determination. 

If you have a team member who has recurring issues (performance, mindset, etc.), you must ask yourself, “Have I made it crystal clear to them that there is a problem?”

Your mastermind group knows it, your spouse probably knows it, you know it, but do they? 

Have you been totally transparent with them about your concerns?

Often the person who most needs to hear this feedback (the employee in question) is the one kept in the dark. 

Hard conversations are HARD. And delivering transparent feedback (especially on more subjective topics like attitude) can feel threatening. 

But when you “fire and keep” an employee, you give up your power, harm your business, and rob the team member in question of crucial feedback they need for their personal and professional growth.

If you have a team, I challenge you to look at where you are avoiding a difficult conversation or maybe doing a full-on “fire and keep” because avoiding it feels easier. 

It’s scary to step into your power and face difficult conversations head-on, but I promise you it is ALWAYS worth it.

Blog Personal Growth and Mental Health

What An AA Meeting Taught A Former Atheist About Prayer

In March 2015 I moved back to Rhode Island after living and teaching in Taiwan for two years. The international move had been rushed, triggered by my dad’s sudden suicide. My parents’ house was hoarded, so I was home both to plan the memorial, and also to embark on the Herculean task of cleaning out the house. 

During one of my first weeks at home, my best friend invited me to an AA meeting. They had recently become sober and spoke highly of the meetings and community. Because of my current circumstances, making small talk with “normal” people was painful; I had no idea how to answer the question, “How are you?” without bursting into tears. The thought of being in a room of other people who truly understood rock bottom felt oddly comforting. 

The night of the meeting was bitterly cold, and four-foot piles of snow were closing in on us from every direction. Walking towards the church with my hands in my pockets, I could see my breath. The red jacket I wore seemed unfamiliar. After two years of living in a subtropical climate, I had forgotten all about my winter clothes left behind at my parents’ house. Now I had the eerie feeling of living someone else’s life, wearing someone else’s clothes. 

We made our way down the wide stairs into the church basement, and I was surprised to see how crowded it was. I felt vaguely worried that I’d have to introduce myself, but I never did. The crowd was big enough that we could take a seat towards the back and remain unnoticed. 

After a brief introduction and some announcements from the leader, people started sharing. They stood up and said how depressed they were and how hard this winter had been. As they talked, I wondered if the harsh winter had played a part in my dad’s choice to kill himself. These people sure seemed extra depressed.

Then a woman in her 30s  stood up. You could tell by her voice and personality that she had probably been a class clown in her day. She made the room laugh almost immediately. Our shared relief and joy at a break from the negativity made us laugh even harder than we otherwise would have. She talked about how the harshness of the winter and the bleakness of her mental state had recently pushed her to explore prayer. She said she had been afraid to pray before because she thought she didn’t know how. She thought it had to be really complicated. 

“If my frontal lobes weren’t glowing, I thought I was doing it wrong.” 

We all laughed. 

“But then someone gave me some good advice. They said, ‘It doesn’t have to be complex. In the morning just ask for help, and at night just say ‘thank you.’’’ 

The morning after the meeting, I carved out a small space in the clutter of my parent’s living room to exercise in. After my workout, I laid down on my yoga mat, hands by my sides and eyes towards the peeling plaster of the ceiling.

And then out loud, because there was no one around who could hear me, I said “Please help me.” Tears started rolling slowly down the sides of my face and into my ears as I repeated “Please help me. Please help me. Please help me. Please help me.” With each one, a tiny bit of space opened up within me. I felt a sliver of relief. 

That night, after a full day of sorting, organizing, and dragging things to the dumpster, I looked up at the ceiling and quietly said, “Thank you.” I was shocked to realize I actually meant it. 

I have never identified as a religious person, but looking back now 7 years later, I can see how powerful a role that surrender played in getting through my grief and turning my life around. If you are like me and prayer has never been your thing, I challenge you to try this out. 

In the morning say, “Help me” and at night say, “Thank you.” Whether you believe anyone is actually listening to your prayers or not, the effects of this type of surrender may just surprise you. No glowing frontal lobes required.

Blog Personal Growth and Mental Health

How Giving Yourself Permission to Take a Two Hour Walk Every Day Can Improve Your Life in Every Way

A month ago, I gave myself permission to take a two hour (or longer) walk every morning. 

When I tell people about it, they either say they are jealous and they would love to do that OR they look at me like I’m totally crazy.

When I first got the impulse to do this, I tried to talk myself out of it. I told myself it was too extra. I had a lot of logistical concerns (reasons and considerations for my fellow landmark grads). 

I thought: 

  1. To have enough time to walk that long I would have to wake up super early and I don’t want to do that.

  2. If I don’t wake up super early, I won’t have time to get ready because I have morning meetings I need to be at.

  3. I should be doing the HIIT and strength training programs I’m “supposed to do” in the morning, not just wandering around my neighborhood aimlessly. 

  4. I’ll be too tired for the rest of the day.

  5. I won’t be working enough if I’m outside for so long.

Then I thought, what if I just do it? 

What if these seeming limitations don’t exist?

So that’s what I did, and it’s been one of the best decisions I have ever made for myself and my business. 

Once I committed and just started doing it, all the things that I thought would hold me back just kind of melted away (doesn’t it always seem to go that way?)

  1. I do not wake up any earlier than I did before.

  2. I moved my morning meetings to start later (some of them even moved themselves! Imagine my surprise and delight when my team ASKED me to move a recurring Friday meeting later because it was better for them!) I also gave myself permission to show up to some meetings in workout clothes because spending my “getting ready time” walking allows me to be more effective and impactful at those meetings, which is a lot more important to me than having perfect hair and makeup on zoom.

  3. I let go of my expectations around what exercise needed to look like to be effective and have leaned into moving in a way that feels good to my body right now.

  4. I have more energy than ever!

  5. While I am working at my desk less, I have had the highest impact, most brilliant ideas of my entire career while I’m walking. I have had inspiration for trainings, content, and pivots in the business that I would not have thought of if I was just sitting at my desk. The thinking I am able to do while walking has made me the most effective CEO I have ever been.

A month into this experiment, I have never felt better. Even my business partner pointed out the huge transformation. I believe her words were, “You’re so chill now.” LOL!

In addition to having more thinking time that leads to more creativity and great ideas, I’m also feeling more energy, more calm and peace, less anxiety and all around more open in every situation I go into. 

I spend my walks listening to audiobooks on personal growth, leadership and manifestation, and the ideas and teachings take root and resonate so much more deeply than they did when I was rushing through a shorter walk.

If there was a pill that could give you these results, everyone would be buying it. It is absolutely incredible.

When I let go of my guilt and considerations around my new morning routine, I realized that if taking a two hour walk every morning is going to make me a more effective CEO and help me serve my organization and coaching clients at a higher level, then not only CAN I give myself permission to do it, I have a responsibility to. 

So maybe you don’t want to (or physically can’t) walk two hours a day. What HAVE you been wanting to do but have been talking yourself out of?

If there is something you feel called to do, but you haven’t given yourself permission because it seems like too much, this is your sign to just do it. Try it out for a month. Once you stop resisting, it could be the thing that changes everything. 

Blog Personal Growth and Mental Health

Stop Saying Dysregulated People Are “Showing Their True Colors” (And Stop Believing It About Yourself, Too)

Understanding the nervous system is a powerful gateway to compassion for ourselves and others.

Your nervous system is in charge of keeping you alive. When there is a true threat to your safety (like a lion) your body and brain go into a fight or flight response to keep you alive. 

Go, nervous system! We love that!

HOWEVER, when past trauma, old habits, social media or our environment keeps us in this threat response (dysregulation) for a prolonged period of time or has our threat response get set off at inappropriate times, this is when we get in trouble (your ex’s IG post with their new boo is not a lion but your body thinks it is… especially at 3am). 

It’s these times when we might start to question whether we are a bad person or crazy (or both!) But judging our character based on how we are when we are dysregulated is actually counterproductive if we want to become a better, more evolved person. 

Self blame, like blaming others, is never productive and distracts us from the reality of what is going on and how we can change it.

Before I understood about regulation and dysregulation, I was confused. I didn’t like myself very much.

I was approaching the world in a very black and white way. I made judgments about other people and myself. Good or bad. Nice or mean. 

Very quickly however, I realized that things were a lot messier than that. Placing a rigid label on anyone required throwing away a lot of data to the contrary to keep up the belief. This felt out of alignment but seemed necessary to make sense of the world.

I tried to figure out if I was a good person or a bad person, but as soon as I put a tally on one side, I would experience myself acting a different way and have to put a tally on the other side. 

Since I clearly wasn’t all good, I reasoned that I must be bad. Believing I was a bad person felt terrible. I felt stressed and hopeless, and also paranoid at being “found out.” It was a very strange type of imposter syndrome/identity crisis. I felt like a different person depending on my mood (i.e. level of regulation). 

When I learned about the nervous system, it was such a relief, and things suddenly made so much more sense. 

When we are regulated, we feel like a totally different person than when we’re dysregulated. We also act totally differently than when we are dysregulated (“toxic traits” are dysregulated behaviors).

When I learned this, I was free. 

Free from the false judgments of myself as good or bad, and free to intentionally impact my regulation so I could show up in the world the way I wanted to. This has changed everything for me, and I am no longer a victim of my past feelings and reactions. 

I am far from perfect, and I still get dysregulated, but I now have the tools to recognize it quickly and address it without doing damage or wasting energy creating some bullshit narrative about what happened and why.

My intention is to normalize talking about regulation and dysregulation in these conversations about bad behavior, not value judgements of good or bad. 

The extent to which we as a culture believe in these judgements is so extreme that it’s baked into our idioms and the language we use. 

People say that you “showed your true colors” when you show up in a situation dysregulated. And many of us really believe this about people (and ourselves). We convince ourselves that the version of them we met when they were regulated was a mask or an act, and this negative side of them is somehow more true.

“True colors” language points to the main problem in the way we think about regulation and dysregulation (or rather, DON’T think about it).

The idea that when you’re in a threat response, and you’re dysregulated you are “the real you” or you’re “showing your true colors” is the opposite of what’s true.

You are the most yourself when you are calm and regulated and present. If anything, those are your true colors. That’s who you really are, not who you are in a threat response. 

At this point I want to make it very clear that I am NOT making excuses for bad behavior or saying adults don’t need to be accountable for their words and actions in a threat response. I am saying the exact opposite.

If your bad behavior isn’t who you really are, but is merely evidence of your dysregulation, then you have the power to take responsibility. Once it’s not who you are, it becomes something you can change.

Some of the things I do daily to regulate my nervous system are walking, EFT tapping and meditation. I also do daily neuro drills that I learned from Elisabeth Kristof, an amazing teacher and coach on all things nervous system who has taught me so much.

We live in an increasingly dysregulated world. 

Taking responsibility for your own regulation is a powerful act of compassion and has a ripple effect that can transform the planet.

Blog Personal Growth and Mental Health

Watching The Movie of Your Life Will Shock You

In my last blog post, I talked about a breakthrough I had at a luxury manifestation retreat in the Bahamas. This post is part two of that. It relates to the breakthrough I shared in my last post, but was a much deeper experience. (The events I’m describing here happened after the events of the previous blog post.)

The last morning of the retreat we had a guided music meditation, hosted by an incredible musician who goes by “A Soul Call Joel” on all platforms. He is a guitarist who works with India Arie, and an all around amazing guy. You know those people who make you feel immediately calm and grounded when you are in their presence? That’s Joel.

When I first saw this music meditation on the schedule (before I met Joel), I wasn’t overly excited about it. Full disclosure, I usually don’t like affirmation songs and music.

The morning of, I found a spot sharing one half of a giant plush white chair in the living room of our villa, put my notebook on my lap and my water bottle on the floor next to me and settled in. Joel did a sound check and got everything set up while we chatted and enjoyed the ocean views through the massive walls of windows that surrounded us. After sitting next to Joel at dinner the night before and getting to know him, I went into this meditation thinking it was just going to be a chill, laid back time. It was not.

Joel instructed us to focus on our breathing and close our eyes as he played and sang. He started a song called, “I am the love of my life.” We took some more deep breaths to the hypnotic sounds of his guitar, and he said, “Now take two minutes, and watch the movie of your life from birth to now.”

Mere seconds into this exercise, I started to hear sniffles and quiet crying from the women around me.

I’ve done a lot of therapy and trauma processing, so going back over my life in this way isn’t new to me. My first thought was, “Oh, fuck, I’m about to watch a very sad movie.”

I followed instructions though, and started at my birth. I thought that what would strike me would be the trauma and the sadness I remembered from my childhood. The isolation and the loneliness.

But when I watched the movie of my life starting from birth, it wasn’t at all like my memory of it. What struck me was not the trauma, but the love. I was shocked to see so much love and support directed at me from so many different people. (By this point, I am also crying enthusiastically.)

I couldn’t believe it. My whole life, I had always vaguely felt like it was just me on my own, isolated and different from other people. I thought that I didn’t feel love and support and belonging because people weren’t giving me enough love and support and belonging. I really believed that on a subconscious level.

And that’s kind of a shitty thing to admit, but I had this really deep unconscious belief that if the people in my life loved me enough, I would be able to feel it.

And I couldn’t feel it.

But when I watched the movie of my life, I was so blown away by how much everyone in my life was loving me, supporting me, rooting for me and genuinely wanting me to succeed. And meanwhile, I’d been going through life feeling alone.

I had been feeling like people didn’t love me enough, feeling like I couldn’t be vulnerable, I couldn’t show any weakness, because people would want to exploit it and take me down. It was a very unconscious me vs. them attitude and this pervasive thought of, “I need to protect myself from these people.”

When I could see everything from a different vantage point as an outside observer, I could see that these people never wanted to hurt me. They love me. They’ve been trying so hard to support me, and love me.

And that’s when I realized that the loneliness and the isolation and the lack of connection that I had been feeling was not because people weren’t giving me love, it was because I wasn’t receiving it.

That realization blew my mind.

It was like I had a jar with the top on, and people were pouring love into it. And it’s just hitting the top of the jar and bouncing off. And then I’m saying there’s not enough love. There’s not enough love being poured on.

In truth, there was a lot of love being poured on, I just wasn’t receiving it. The top was on the fucking jar.

I realized that my way of being – not wanting to show weakness, not wanting to be vulnerable, not wanting anyone to see me sweat – was the reason I couldn’t feel love. I wasn’t being authentic. I wasn’t letting people see the real me.

They couldn’t see the authenticity, the “weakness,” those times of struggle that I hid. And that’s why I couldn’t connect with them.

I had noticed with my business partner and with my wife that when I would have these (rare) moments that I would label “weakness”, true moments of vulnerability, of humanity, of struggling with something or crying about something, I could tell they were happy about it. I could feel them leaning in and smiling.

And I interpreted that as, “These assholes. They want to see me weak! If they really loved me, why would they want that? I’m not going to give them the satisfaction.”

It’s crazy to admit that I had these subconscious thoughts about people in my life who loved me, but it made me mad that they were happy when I felt like I was weak. And what I got during that meditation was that they weren’t happy that I was feeling bad. They wanted to connect with me, because they love me, they wanted an opportunity to support me, and to actually connect with me.

And when I’m in those moments, that’s when they’re actually able to contribute to me.

I realized that it feels so good to contribute to other people. I love doing that. And I had been withholding that gift from the people in my life, I had not been letting them contribute to me in any real way.

I’d been letting them contribute to me in terms of doing things for me like implementing things for me and doing tasks for me, but in terms of actually letting them see me at my most vulnerable, and show up for me and support me the way that they want to, the way that we all want to, the way that allows us to truly connect, I had not been letting them do that.

I was so scared that if I opened up, I would get hurt.

Before this exercise, when I looked back on my life, I remembered the people who were mean to me. I remembered the frenemies who tried to sabotage me and make my life harder or make me look bad. I remembered the kids who told me I was ugly or told me I was fat. That stuff that really stuck with me.

I made those painful events mean that people are cruel and I can’t trust them with my sensitive heart. But when I watched this movie of my life, I saw that those people who were mean to me were such a minority, and that 95% of the people in my life or more loved me. The vast majority of people in my life had been loving me and supporting me and I couldn’t see it. I was so closed off because of those few people who didn’t love and support me (which I now understand was for their own reasons that had nothing to do with me).

I closed myself off in response to the pain, and then I was closed off to all the love and support, too.

So the commitment that I’m making after seeing this is to be vulnerable, to be honest, to be open, and to allow people to see who I really am, and to contribute to me in a real way,

Because I understand now that that is the only way to feel true connection and to actually receive the love and support that has been all around me for my whole life.

I decided to share this breakthrough with you in a very warts and all way, because I hope that it helps you.

And if you feel that lack that I felt, I would encourage you to ask yourself if there truly is any real lack, or if you merely need to open the jar and let in everything that is already there for you.

Note: This blog post is adapted from a live video I did sharing this experience. If off the cuff, live talking is your jam, check that video out here