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The Labor of Loving Yourself for Being Different with Lisa Schermerhorn

BYW 28 Lisa | Status Quo

 

Are you someone who doesn’t believe in following the rules or drawing inside the lines? You want things to be fun, exciting, and different – you rebel against the classic way of doing things. Do you typically have eccentric friends and eclectic tastes? Then this episode is for you. Lisa Schermerhorn joins Dr. Gary Sanchez as she talks about her WHY and how she is challenging the status quo and thinking differently. Lisa is a transformational leader, award-winning speaker, and expert in human behavior, leadership, and personal development. She also dives into releasing beliefs and emotions that don’t serve you, forgiveness, and trusting yourself more. We all have different whys, and everyone is different because of that. It’s important to honor that special thing. Tune in and get inspired to find better ways of thinking, doing, and understanding.

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Challenging The Status Quo: Finding Better Ways Of Thinking, Doing And Understanding With Lisa Schermerhorn

In this episode, we’re going to be talking about the WHY of Challenge, to challenge the status quo and think differently. If this is your WHY, then you don’t believe in following the rules or drawing inside the lines. You want things to be fun, exciting, and different. You rebel against the classic way of doing things. You typically have eccentric friends and eclectic tastes because, after all, WHY would you want to be normal? You love to be different, think different, and you aren’t afraid to challenge virtually anyone or anything that is too conventional or typical for your tastes. Pushing the envelope comes naturally to you.

I’ve got a great guest for you. Her name is Lisa Schermerhorn, and she is a transformational leader, award-winning speaker and expert in the fields of human behavior, leadership, and personal development. She also trained in the Winner’s Mindset with Bob Reese, the former head trainer for the New York Jets, and helped a professional golfer win Golfer of the Year. Lisa was a VP of Business Development for an innovative startup company using virtual reality to help clients with pain reduction, memory loss, and stress reduction.

As a certified hypnotherapist and master practitioner of Neuro-Linguistic Programming, NLP, she helps entrepreneurs and high performers get from where they are to where they want to be much faster than conventional coaches. Lisa is also a Why.os Certified Coach, helping people discover their WHY and apply it to their life, both personally and professionally. Lisa launched her new book titled In Every Belief Is A Lie. Lisa, welcome to the show.

Thank you so much. Every time you read the definition of Challenge, I get chills. It’s so fitting. I tell people how much finding that out changed me because when you’re a challenge, you’re an outlier and different. As a child, I learned differently. I was very creative. I didn’t fit in very well. I struggled a lot, and I always thought that I was broken and something was wrong with me.

There was a belief that I held onto, even though, as an adult, I realized that I could function and I was smart, but there was always this little part of me that thought I was different and broken. When I got the Challenge WHY, I was like, “Of course.” It helped me own who I am. I don’t know if people be able to see this, but I live in a log cabin on the side of a mountain in the middle of Vermont. I used to live in New York City, so go figure.

Where did you grow up? Take us back to where you grew up. What was your childhood like? What was school like for you? What was it like to be Challenge and not know what it was through elementary, middle, high school, and college? What was that like?

I grew up in New Jersey. I’m a Jersey Shore, but they don’t have the accent. I’m from an upper-middle-class family. I went to kindergarten before the cutoff, so I was one of the youngest in my class. Everyone could read, knew their letters and numbers, and I couldn’t. I struggled. Every year, I was always behind. Every summer, I went to summer school and my self-esteem plummeted. I thought that I was stupid. I didn’t think I was ever going to amount to anything, but I was always very creative and artistic.

I ended up going to a summer program at Rhode Island School of Design. I was accepted there, but my parents were so afraid that I’d be a poor starving artist. They were not about to have me go to art school. I went on to Simmons College in Boston, where I got my Bachelor’s degree in Marketing and Management. I then went to the Garment Center, where I went to work in the fashion industry. I found out how abusive it was.

I worked for one company, and my boss would walk around. We were not allowed to take lunch breaks. We had to stay in our office and be at work at 7:00 in the morning and we couldn’t leave until 7:00 at night. This was in the ‘80s. I was young and impressionable. I thought, “This is the fashion industry. It should be cool.” He would come around, eat our lunches, take a bite of our sandwiches, and get his hands in your fries. I won an award for the worst boss in a magazine. I submitted that.

When you discover someone's WHY, it helps pinpoint where people's issues could come up and determine whether or not someone's done their work. Click To Tweet

He was horrible. I was lost. I had no sense of self, who I was, and what I wanted in my life. I ended up leaving and I got very depressed. I was so depressed at one point that I was going to a therapist 2 to 3 times a week, and no one was able to help me. Finally, someone suggested a hypnotist, and I was like, “Don’t they make you quack like a duck? Who would go to a hypnotist?” I was desperate. I tried it and couldn’t believe how quickly they got to the root cause of my issue and helped me release the information I was holding onto. I decided from there that I wanted to be able to do that for other people.

I asked the woman I went to, , “Please tell me all the names of the people that you’ve trained with.” I went on to train. Due to my belief that I wasn’t smart, if you saw the list of certifications, it’s thick. I stacked them all. It was a way for me to go outside the box, be different, and help people who were different. I didn’t realize that that’s what I was doing. I was so desperate to heal myself that I went on and realized that I had the ability to help others.

I went on to study Neuro-Linguistic Programming. Tony Robbins is well known for it. It’s considered the study of excellence, so what they do is they study the people who are on top of the field and how these people think differently than the rest of us. It’s mastery around excellence. I’ve gone around and studied a number of different things on energy medicine and how our energy system works. I studied with different master teachers all over the world.

I ended a 29-year marriage. We’d gone in different directions, and I was terrified to be on my own. My kids were in college, getting ready to graduate. Someone had suggested a firewalk facilitation program where you trained for a week on how to do fire walks with other people. There were two things that I was afraid of, being alone and walking on fire, so I chose to walk on fire first. The week entailed breaking arrows from your neck to your throat, bending a 10-foot piece of rebar from your throat, and walking on four feet of broken glass. Every night, we walked 7 to 10 feet of red hot coals, and to graduate, we had to walk 40 feet of red hot coals.

Did your feet burn?

No, but I was terrified. I thought they would. I was convinced I would end up in the hospital, and those poor people in my class surprised me all week.

What was the benefit of that? I know there are people reading that are going to be thinking, “I’ve thought about doing that. I wondered about it, but what am I going to get out of that?” What did you get out of learning to do that and accomplishing that goal?

Mind over matter, because who could ever think that you could bend a 10-foot piece of rope rebar from your throat? There’s a whole mindset. For instance, when you’re walking on red hot coals, there’s something called Chi Energy, and we all have our own chi energy. The fire has its own energy as well. You have to raise your energy at or above the energy of the fire.

If you can do that, you can walk. I would never let someone walk who’s depressed or down because that’s when people get burned or they’re afraid. When Tony Robbins does his fire walks, he plays loud music and gets people cheering. Do people burn themselves? Yes, you still can. I was terrified of the 40-foot walk. I was having a meltdown. Someone in my group asked me, “How much fire have you walked this week?”

BYW 28 Lisa | Status Quo
In Every Belief Is a Lie

I said, “We started Sunday night. I probably walked about 50 feet already.” He said, “You’ve already walked more than 40 feet. This should be a piece of cake. Go.” It was my easiest walk. I remember when I walked across, I felt like I floated, and I stopped. My feet were warm. They refer to them sometimes as little kisses you get on your feet. I remember having a pair of flip-flops on, and my feet were warm, but I was not burned at all.

That’s amazing that the body can do that, and you did it. You are somebody who has stuff going on that you were dealing with and you were able to do it. Once you are done and you finished this week-long journey, how are you different at the end of that week?

I sat with my fears and thought to myself, “I faced one of my greatest fears, and I survived.” If I’ve been in this marriage for 29 years, I’m not happy, and I’m afraid to be alone, then I need to go towards it and figure it out. When I got home, I had a conversation with my ex-husband about looking at our marriage. It took a couple of months, and we ended up splitting up probably three months later.

I moved to Vermont on my own, didn’t know a soul, had no family here, and didn’t know anyone. I knew that every time I came here, I loved it so much. It felt like home. Every time I went to leave, I would cry. I knew I needed to be here. I didn’t know why. I then found a community here and felt I fit in. We have a saying, “Keep Vermont weird.” There’s got to be a lot of Challenge people here. I found my people.

You’ve moved to Vermont into a log cabin. Did you continue coaching? When did you start coaching other people?

I’ve been doing coaching on and off for many years, but I took it to a whole another level. When I moved up here, I was full-time, but I was working with people in person because people didn’t want to work online, and then COVID happened, which catapulted my work around the world. Now I have clients in Australia, Africa, France, England, Canada, and all across the country. It allowed me to connect and network like I had never done before. I ended up meeting a woman who did a marketing event. She did my WHY.

She introduced me to Dan and did the test, so he ended up doing my whole WHY. I swear to you, it changed my life. I got my business partner Kevin to do it too. What was interesting is we both have similar WHYs. You usually don’t want to team people up with similar WHYs, but we’re both Challenge and Better-Way. He has Contribute. I always know that he’s got my back and takes care of me. He also knows technology. He’s got that background where he gets the foundation done and helps make things happen, whereas I make sense. I’m the visionary, and I come up with all of these ideas, and then he helps me implement them. Even though he’s Contribute, he has some Simplify in him too.

For those of you reading, what Lisa is talking about is her WHY. It is to challenge the status quo and think differently. As you can tell, she thinks outside the box. She doesn’t follow the rules and does it her own way. That’s what’s made her, her. How she does that is by finding better ways, which are all the different courses she’s taken. They’re all better ways of thinking, doing, and understanding.

Ultimately, what she brings are our solutions that make sense, are doable, are logical, and going to work. Your partner has the same WHY and how that you do, Challenge and Better-Way, but his what is to contribute to other people and make a difference in their lives. You two have been a good combination, is what you’re saying.

The more you eliminate the things that are blocking you, the more new opportunities will start showing up. Click To Tweet

We complement each other. The difference between us is he owned his Challenge as a kid. He wore it proudly. He talks about some of the outfits that he would wear as a kid. He loves standing out, being different, and he owns it, whereas I didn’t have that confidence. I didn’t have that in me. Even though you can have the same WHY, one of the things I love about being a WHY coach is when you discover someone’s WHY. It helps pinpoint where people’s issues could come up and determine whether or not someone’s done their work or not. It makes my life easier as a coach. It helps me zero in right away and say, “These are some issues you might have based on your WHY.” It helps me get to the root cause of people’s issues fast.

What I’ve found fascinating is if you’re reading and not watching and you don’t know what Lisa looks like or Kevin, her partner, I would have never picked Kevin to be Challenge just looking at him on a screen. I would have created my own narrative around what I thought I was seeing and would have been dead wrong.

However, that’s who he would have been to me and I would have treated him that way. Now that I know his WHY and your WHY is Challenge, that opens up so many different conversations. It opens up my ability to connect, communicate, and understand you completely differently. I’m sure it’s that way for you with your clients.

Absolutely. Here’s the other great thing. He’s also at work in business. When you know the WHY of the other people you’re with, you can create better rapport, and rapport is everything because you create trust. Once you’ve created trust with someone, they’ll allow you to go to places where maybe they wouldn’t with anyone else.

For instance, I had a client who came to me because she wanted hypnosis, but she said to me, “I’ve tried five times, and no one has ever been able to do it.” I was able to establish trust by trying to figure it out. I knew from her language that trust was part of her WHY. I had to go bend over backward to make sure that she could trust me. Once she did, she was under, and we did some major work together. It was powerful. She was astonished because she said, “No one else has ever been able to do this for me.”

Having these tools are so key in helping you, especially with the right way people. When you’re a Challenge person, you’re all over the place, it’s like coloring outside the lines. You then have a right way person who’s very structured and very much about things being a certain way, we can scare them. The structure is important to them and they need things done a certain way to make them feel safe. As a Challenge person, I need those kinds of people to do work that I don’t want to do. I can’t do that. If I had to sit down and do structured accounting or do things, I would do it, but it would take me ten times longer, and it would look like a mess.

Let’s talk about your book for a minute. It came out. Tell us the title and tell us about the title.

I’ve been trying to write this book for almost twenty years. I sat down to blank pages and nothing would come out. I started to sit with my belief system and thought, “I do this for everyone else. I need to do this for me.” That belief system that I’m not smart was a flashlight shining right at me. I made a list of all the things that were holding me back.

Who am I to write a book? I was not a great student. What am I going to do with my grammar? I had all of these questions in my mind. What’s interesting is as I released them, I felt lighter and lighter. With that, if you were to imagine a highway and your destination is at the end of the highway, my highway was filled with boulders.

BYW 28 Lisa | Status Quo
Status Quo: When you know the WHY of the other people you’re with, you can create better rapport, and rapport is everything because you create trust.

 

As I moved the boulders, all of a sudden, the destination was there. For those people who understand the Law of Attraction, whatever you believe, you would attract. Unconsciously, when I believed that I couldn’t do it, then I was blocking myself. The minute I started believing in myself and I knew at an unconscious level that I could do it because I had released all that, everything started to show up. It was unbelievable. The title In Every Belief is a Lie showed up. As soon as I had the title, this book poured out of me. For five months, I wrote nonstop. I rewrote and edited it, and then I’d go back and read. I’m like, “Who wrote this? This is actually pretty good.”

It literally went right through me. It was a labor of love. It included my own personal stories of my own journey of going through my belief systems and how when I allowed myself to let go of these boulders that were holding me back, I referred to them as lies, my whole world changed. Everything changed. It’s scary because it’s vulnerable. I have a lot of personal stories in that book. You open yourself up to criticism and people saying things, but I felt my make sense is so powerful. It comes through in the book because I love to take very complicated information and break it down so it makes sense. A friend of mine read it and said she wanted to do a review. She’s a psychologist.

She said, “You took all of this information that’s so complex that I learned in the textbook, and you made it simple for everyone to be able to understand.” I was like, “There’s my make sense.” It was what I brought to the book. It’s simple steps. There are exercises in it. What’s interesting is that most people don’t know we’re programmed from the time we’re born.

We have five major brain frequencies. We start out with something called Delta, which is a big wave, and if you think about what babies have to learn. Infants have to learn the language, sound, taste, emotions, feelings, colors, how to walk, and their motor skills. It’s extraordinary. We then move into elementary school. That is another wave. It’s slightly smaller, but it’s what kids learn when they’re in elementary school, all of those things.

They’re absorbing and learning from their teachers, parents, grandparents, friends, any traumas that happen to them, and their religion. We don’t choose our religion, for the most part. We are raised in a family and told this is what our belief is, such as culture. Our cultures are very different depending upon where we come from and also our socioeconomic status.

A money mindset is huge because when people grow up with scarcity, no matter how much they try, they will often sabotage themselves because they don’t believe that people with money are happy. I do a workshop where I show a picture of a mansion, and I ask everyone in the room, “Who here wants to make $1 million a year?” Everyone raises their hand and then I ask them to tell me about the people in the mansion LA.

They’re like, “They hate each other. They’re getting a divorce. Their kids hate them. They can’t afford to heat the house.” Many people have misconceptions about money. To me, it’s an exchange of energy. Our media portrays people with a lot of money as evil as well. We get programmed around these and then people hold onto these unconsciously, and then they sabotage themselves over and over again. Even people with money never feel it’s enough.

They can run themselves into the ground working hard because they’re afraid they’re going to lose what they’ve accumulated. We also inherit beliefs. There’s actually a science called Epigenetics where they’ve done studies. One that they did with mice, where they shocked these mice every time they smelled a certain chemical smell.

They associated the smell with the shock. Their grand pups would run when they smelled the smell without a shock. We inherit those same things. If you have a great, great grandparent that maybe survived the Great Depression, Holocaust, or any trauma, that family trauma gets passed down generation after generation. It runs us unconsciously. We don’t even know that we’re doing it and why we have these fears, phobias, and anxieties.

Whatever you believe, you attract. Click To Tweet

When you talk about releasing beliefs, what is that? How do you do that? If I got this belief, how do you release it?

I have several things. In the book, I actually talk about several different techniques. I’m in the process now because I was so busy getting the book ready. I’m not going to have videos available with the QR code. There’ll be able to go in to release a belief. We store it in our physical bodies. If you think about something that’s irritating you right now, something is bothering you, someone didn’t do something or said something that hurt you, you were to close your eyes, and you can feel it in your body, you can say that’s about a fight.

From there, I ask you to release it using simple terms. Should I let it go? Yes. Could I let it go? Yes. When? Now. When you repeat that, the number will go down until you get to a place of neutrality. When you’re neutral, you can make good decisions. When your decisions are emotionally based, you end up making bad decisions.

The most important thing is that the event that may have traumatized you can’t change what happened, but you can change the way you feel about it. If someone hurt you as a child when you go back and look at that, you’ve already said, “I’ve taken on this belief,” and it’s deep in your unconscious mind that I can’t trust people.

How many times do you know people who were traumatized as a child or abused and then ended up in bad relationships after bad relationships? It’s because that’s what they believe love is or they believe that they deserve that when you release that emotion and look at it from a different perspective. I also do a lot of forgiveness work. Forgiveness is everything. People misunderstand what forgiveness is about because it’s not saying what someone did is okay.

It’s about letting it go. Knowing that it wasn’t about me, it was about the other person. When you go to a higher place, you can say, “That person was doing the best they could with what they had.” They didn’t know any better. Some people may have a hard time with that. I know in my life, the more that I was able to forgive, the freer I felt. The more joy I had in my life, the more things came to me because I was free and open.

It always confuses me a little bit when I try to figure out if I continue to release beliefs that are not serving me. What’s the end game? What am I trying to get to? What is the ideal human, or where are you trying to get somebody to?

When you release a belief that isn’t yours, your own beliefs pop up. I’m trying to think of an example in golf. If you think about it, what happens when you think about where you don’t want the ball to go? It goes there. When you let go, you’re blank, you’re neutral, relaxed, having fun, and you’re focusing on what you do want. Where does the ball go?

Where do you want it to go? What you want to do is focus on what you want, not what you don’t want. Too many of us are focused on, “I don’t want to lose money. I don’t want my car to break down. I can’t afford this or that.” That’s creating your own prophecy. You put yourself in that. Does that mean that I never think negative thoughts?

BYW 28 Lisa | Status Quo
Status Quo: A money mindset is a huge thing. When people grow up with scarcity, no matter how much they try, they’ll often sabotage themselves because they don’t believe that people with money are happy.

 

Of course not. I’m a human. I was stressed out of my mind getting my book online, and all these things had to come into play. I had to go for a long walk, but then I go back. I breathe, focus, and release. I then become sovereign or in alignment with who I am, and then I can relax. I know that I’m doing the best I can with what I have for who I am now. My best now may not be the same best as tomorrow.

An example is if someone’s out drinking and they have a hangover, their best is not on Monday or Sunday, the same as it could be on Monday. Everyone does their best at the time. It’s important to recognize that in other people as well because we’re quick to judge others. I always try and go from a place of compassion and see, “What does this person need? Maybe they’re struggling. They may need my help.”

Coming from a place of judgment and reframing is also another thing that I find very powerful. How can I see this from a different perspective? How can I look at this? What’s the gift from this? I often do that when I’m going through a difficult time. I always say, “There’s going to be a gift in this somewhere. I don’t know what it is. Figure it out.”

To me, the hardest part of all of it is trying to figure out what you want. It’s easy to figure out what you don’t want. What do I want to do with my life? All those kinds of questions. As somebody growing up, it’s hard to figure that out. How do you help people figure out what they want?

What brings you joy? When you’re living your WHY, you’re in pure joy. When I’m doing my Challenge thing, it brings me joy. Every single part of my day, from the way I vacation, I buy my car, the clothes I wear, the jewelry I choose, the type of dog I choose, my house, and everything. When I’m in my WHY, I’m in joy. People misunderstand something that’s very powerful.

People think that their purpose is their job or their purpose is to make a lot of money. That brings a lot of unhappiness. It’s like what you do, Gary, you have given a gift to so many people that are in service to others. It was your brainchild, you worked hard, and it was important to you, but there was a reason that you got this out, and this is changing people’s lives. When you think about what you’re doing, does it bring you joy? Does it bring you a better way because you’re a Better-Way?

I couldn’t stop it.

When you are in your purpose, you can’t stop it. The more you eliminate the things that are blocking you, then negative beliefs, the more these new opportunities will start showing up. I’m not kidding. All of a sudden, out of the blue, I was offered a speaking gig in Las Vegas. I spoke in front of all these people, and then I got another gig in Miami.

I was like, “I wasn’t even asking for this. These are things that landed in my lap.” That’s what I want people to understand. The more they release their negative belief systems, the more they release these boulders that are in their way, the more gifts are going to come to them. You also learn to love yourself. I didn’t know what that meant. What is loving yourself? Loving yourself is setting boundaries of taking good care of your physical self, working out, being around people that you love, and learning to say no. That’s loving yourself, setting boundaries, and doing things that truly bring you joy and love. I will tell you that my days at work don’t feel like work. It’s not work. That’s how you know.

Focus on what you want, not what you don't want. Click To Tweet

You’re helping people get outside their box, right?

I try.

It’s the lies and every belief is a lie. It’s the negative beliefs that are keeping you in the box.

Here’s another thing when I talk about programming. Does this even make sense? This is not a political statement. I’m just using it as an example. You have people watching MSNBC, CNN, Fox, and whatever other channels. Are they all getting the same information? Everyone who’s watching thinks they’re getting the truth. Does that make sense? Everyone is getting partial truth, and the truth is missing. You get 60% or 80% of the truth, and we walk around thinking that we know the truth.

We make decisions, live our lives, communicate, and all that is based on the belief that we’re getting the truth when we’re not.

Exactly. I listened to a Native American elder use this story. It was beautiful. He said, “Imagine you have a Blue Jay and a Robin. The Blue Jay is talking to the Robin, saying, ‘Your nest is so messy. Your eggs are blue. How come they’re blue? How could they be blue? How do you feed your babies those worms? I don’t feed my babies.’” How do we judge each other and tell each other that we have to be a certain way when we’re all unique? We all have different WHYs, and everyone is different because of that. It’s important to honor that special thing. We don’t want to be everyone else. It would be a boring world if we were.

I always wonder with people that have the WHY Challenge. When you look back at what it was like for you to go through your childhood and young adulthood with the WHY Challenge, how could you help somebody you know, somebody that age with WHY Challenge struggle? They always are. How could you help them? What would you say to them? What would you help them understand to make it better for them, or would you?

There are two sides to that because I always say that people’s wounds are their greatest gifts. No one knows that pain like you do. When you get to the other side of that, then you know it, you have the ability to work it, and you know both sides. Now, if someone had said to me as a child, “Lisa, there’s nothing wrong with you. You’re special, unique, and you think outside the box.”

If I went to a conventional public school, taking tests and exams was a struggle for me. If I had gone to a different school, let’s say a Waldorf, for my story or something that allowed me to work at my own pace and think outside the line, I might’ve flourished. Who knows? I raised both of my children very differently because I was aware of how hard it was to grow up being different.

BYW 28 Lisa | Status Quo
Status Quo: People with the WHY of Challenge and Better Way are visionaries. They see things that other people don’t see.

 

I was keenly aware of what worked well for one child was not going to work for the other. I was very mindful of that. I was not a cookie-cutter mom and always pushed my kids outside the box. My son was not happy with me, but I always tried to find creative ways because he was painfully shy. I found a sports broadcasting camp for him because he loves sports, but he would learn how to do public speaking through sports.

I was always being creative as a parent. That’s the thing with Challenge kids. You need to allow them to have the space to explore because they’re not like everyone else, and they can be very depressed. I don’t know if you’ve done studies on this. I know for me, I had learning disabilities. I’m curious as to how many Challenge people think outside the box and don’t learn in conventional ways.

One of the things that we’ll talk about when you’re out here in Albuquerque is the size of the lane that the different WHY’s need to play in. Your WHY being Challenge is you basically need some guardrails, but they got to be pretty wide. You get to play in that big guardrail as you’re moving forward, whereas, as you mentioned, the right way is not even a guardrail. It’s a line. They want a straight line. They don’t want any of that playing in there. We’re actually working with a school system right now. I’m looking at these kinds of things.

I agree because I had parents that had the right way in them. They were very much like, “This is the way you do things. This is the way you dress.” I would turn around. I went through a period where I was a blonde, brunette, red head, short, long, and curly. I have a bald spot at one point by accident. I was always playing with my hair because it was my way of discovering who I was. It was the only way I could express myself. It was changing my hair constantly to figure out who I was. That was my little of many rebellions.

It’s hard, especially when you mix the right way people if you are a right way parent, and you have a Challenge child or even simplified because Challenge kids can have chaos in their way. Simplify people don’t deal with that very well. This is a fantastic idea from a parenting standpoint if you can start to identify the WHY of your kids. I would have had higher self-esteem and maybe felt more stable and have not gone through the depressions that I did, but at the same time, those depressions made me who I am now and helped me go on this journey. I would have saved my feet a little bit of torture.

There’s so much still to be learned about how to utilize the nine WHY’s the best. You’re somebody that’s going to see something that I don’t see. I know what I know, but people like yourself that come along are going to see things. As I said, I didn’t see or notice things that I didn’t notice. You’re going to add so much more depth and meaning to how to utilize the nine WHYs and the Why.os better.

One of the things that I think about with Challenge and the Better-Way people are they are visionaries. You’re right in the way we see things that other people don’t see. Think about Steve Jobs got fired from his own company and then brought back because when someone has an idea and it scares other people, they don’t understand what the purpose of it is. As a Challenge, and I imagine it as a Better-Way, and I have a Better-Way in me, it’s a challenge to wait for people to catch up to what I see. It’s not better that I’m better than. I see things differently and then my make sense helps me explain it. It’s a nice combination for me.

If there’s a parent reading this right now who thinks they might have a Challenge child, what advice would you give to them?

Give them a wide berth. You got to allow them to do some exploring. You need to set boundaries with them, but also, if they’re in a conventional school and not flourishing, they’re going to need a different environment. It’s also about having a dialogue with them and helping them discover what their feelings are and what they’re going through. As someone who doesn’t quite fit in socially, it’s interesting because now I can go anywhere.

When you're living your WHY, you're in pure joy. Click To Tweet

I am an extrovert and I make friends very easily. I didn’t have that as a child. I didn’t understand why someone would want to hang out with me and what I had to offer. It’s about helping a Challenge child explore what their gifts are. One of the best things my mother did was get me into art because that was something that I discovered I was good at. It gave me something to look forward to in my days.

From a parent’s perspective, it’s scary to think about giving these wide bumpers to a 13-year-old girl or 15-year-old and say, “Why don’t you go ahead and play in this big area here where you can see how easily they could get taken in the wrong direction.”

It’s boundaries too. Give them wide boundaries in the exploration like art. Find something that they are good at or excel at, and then let them go. It’s not as structured. An example of this is my son took an art class in school. He went to conventional public school and he came home with this beautiful lighthouse. He was ten years old. I was like, “I’m going to enter that into a local art show that they were doing.”

I got there and there were ten other lighthouses that looked exactly like it because they were teaching kids to identically copy what they were learning. A Challenge kid would not have done well in that because I would have made all these different colors and everything. That’s what I mean by the wide berth. It is the exploration of being able to use other colors to do something that’s more impressionistic and things like that. Allow them to explore within their gifts.

Last question for you, Lisa. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given or the best piece of advice you’ve ever given?

I wish I didn’t worry as much, I could have trusted my own intuition, and everything was going to be okay. The struggle of not trusting who I was when I was younger, not knowing who I was, and going outside of myself. I gave my power away a lot. I didn’t trust that I had the answers. That caused me to worry all the time and wonder what other people thought of me. Once I finally started to stand in and know who I am, all the worry seemed to go away because everything started to show up, so less worrying and more joy and fun.

If people would love to work with you, find your book, and buy your book, how can people get ahold of you?

My website is PeakPerformanceMindsetCoaching.com. My email is Lisa@PeakPerformanceMindsetCoaching.com. There’s a link In Every Belief is A Lie. Kevin set it up for me. This is why I love having him as my partner and my contribute. You can access the book there or on Amazon. You can go on In Every Belief Is A Lie, and it’s available on Kindle. It’s only $0.99 right now. I have the hardcover as well. If you like it, please leave a review. It helps me. I’m trying to get to bestseller and you can learn all about the WHY’s. It’s in chapter ten.

Thank you so much for being here. I love the title of your book and what you’re writing about. I can’t wait to continue our relationship.

Thank you so much.

I don’t think I’m going to do a Guess The Why this time. I know it’s a little bit long, but thank you so much for reading. If you have not yet discovered your WHY, you can do so at WhyInstitute.com. You can use the code PODCAST50 and it will take you for half price. If you love the show, please don’t forget to subscribe and leave us a review and rating on whatever platform you are using. I will see you next time.

 

Important Links

 

About Lisa Schermerhorn

BYW 28 Lisa | Status QuoLisa Schermerhorn is as a transformational leader, award winning speaker and expert in the fields of human behavior, leadership and personal development.  She also trained in the “Winners Mindset” with Bob Reese, the former head trainer for the NY Jets and helped a professional golfer win Golfer of the Year!

Lisa was V.P. of Business Development for an innovative start-up company using virtual reality to help clients with pain reduction, memory loss and stress reduction. As a Certified Hypnotherapist and Master Practitioner of Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP), she helps entrepreneurs and high performers get from where they are to where they want to be much faster than conventional coaches.Lisa is also a WHY.os Certified Coach, helping people discover their Why and apply it to their life both personally and professionally.  Lisa recently launched her new book titled – In every belief is a lie.

 

 

 

Categories
Uncategorized WHY

So You’re in a Relationship With a Challenge…

 

As I am writing this, the song “Why are there boundaries” by FKJ started playing on shuffle and I can’t think of anything more Challenge than that. They live with the notion that boundaries are meant to be pushed and they live with this zest for doing things differently – including in relationships. This zest has a lot of potential for fun and a lot of potential for conflict.

There seems to be a lot of preconceived ideas and thoughts around what it means to be someone with the WHY of Challenge, and what it means to be the significant other of someone with the WHY of Challenge. This does NOT mean the relationship itself is a Challenge, but it does mean that they take a little more understanding than others if you want it to be long lasting.

There are a few quirks to be aware of when your significant other has the WHY of Challenge – because they see the world so differently than the rest of us. They don’t see the world through a normal looking glass, they see the world through many different lenses, in all of the colors of the rainbow, and they see a world of possibilities. They don’t understand how anyone could be okay with the same routine, with following a recipe to a tee, with needing to be on time, with needing to dress normal, or with being, in their eyes, boring. This can cause some conflict if you are, say, someone with the WHY of Right Way. Understanding that your significant other will probably never do things the normal or “right” way, is important, and if you can see this as their gift rather than “wrong” that is what will make your relationship successful. Understanding that consistency may not be their strong suit is another pillar of being in a relationship with a Challenge. This can lead to many spontaneous adventures in life but can also lead to frustration if you were relying on them for something specific.

“What sets you apart can sometimes feel like a burden and it’s not. And a lot of the time, it’s what makes you great.”

-Emma Stone

Now, no part of seeing the world differently is a burden, nor should it feel like that. Once you know their WHY is Challenge, you can see how this can make them special and how this is a gift. There is no such thing as normal, which means there is no such thing as a dull moment. They are always the life of the party, and have a magnetic pull on them because of their unique energy. They don’t embarrass easily, because what fun would that be? So they are usually out there dancing, laughing, and then ready for the next spontaneous adventure.

More than anything, it is important to articulate your WHY to your significant other as well as know that they have this unique WHY of Challenge. The ability to and power of speaking WHY to WHY is unmatched with this WHY, because probably more than any other WHY, you should expect the unexpected.

Categories
Podcast

Surgical Empathy: A Unique Take On Treating Suicidal Patients With Dr. Mark Goulston

BYW 41 | Treatment For Suicidal Patients

Dr. Mark Goulston has gone out of the box regarding treatment for his suicidal patients, and so far, it’s worked. His WHY of Challenge has propelled him to think differently when handling different cases and to challenge treatments that just don’t work. This is what drove him to develop a new approach: Surgical Empathy. Mark is a psychiatrist, author, a Founding Member of Newsweek Expert Forum, and a Marshall Goldsmith MG100 Coach. Unravel his viewpoint and understand the method to his approach as he sits down with host Dr. Gary Sanchez. Mark shares enlightening anecdotes and meaningful advice that may be just what you need. Learn how to ask the right questions and look beyond the obvious to truly understand not only others but also yourself.

Watch the episode here:

Listen to the podcast here:

Surgical Empathy: A Unique Take On Treating Suicidal Patients With Dr. Mark Goulston

We go beyond talking about your why, helping you discover and then live your why. If you’re a regular reader, you know that every episode, we talk about one of the nine whys and then we bring on somebody with that why so we can see how their why has played out in their life. In this episode, we’re going to be talking about the why of challenge, to challenge the status quo and think differently. If this is your why, you don’t believe in following the rules or drawing inside the lines. You want things to be fun, exciting and different. You rebel against the classic way of doing things. You typically have eccentric friends and eclectic tastes because after all, why would you want to be normal? You love to be different, think different and aren’t afraid to challenge virtually anyone or anything that is too conventional or typical for your tastes. Pushing the envelope comes natural to you. When you say you want to change the world, you mean it.

I’ve got a great guest for you. His name is Mark Goulston, MD. He is a founding member of Newsweek Expert Forum and a Marshall Goldsmith, MG100 Coach who works with founders, entrepreneurs and CEOs in dealing with and overcoming any psychological or interpersonal obstacle to realizing their full potential. He is the co-author, along with Diana Hendel, of Why Cope When You Can Heal?: How Healthcare Heroes of COVID-19 Can Recover from PTSD and Trauma to Triumph: A Roadmap for Leading Through Disruption (and Thriving on the Other Side). He’s the co-author of seven additional books with his book, Just Listen, becoming the top book on listening in the world.

He is the host of the My Wakeup Call podcast and is the co-creator and moderator of a multi-honor documentary, Stay Alive, an intimate conversation about suicide prevention. He is on the Board of Advisors to HealthCorps and BiasSync, an advisor to No Worry No Tension, a leading company in India focused on emotional wellness and the co-creator of the Goulston Vohra Happiness Scale. He was a UCLA professor in psychiatry for many years with a subspecialty focus on suicide prevention and helping the surviving family members following a completed suicide. He’s also a former FBI Hostage Negotiation Trainer. Mark, welcome to the show.

I got to send out a shorter bio. That’s a lot to live up to.

That means that you’ve been here for a while.

It’s interesting because as I was listening to you, your analysis was exactly correct about me having this challenging persona. If you’re reading, I challenge what’s out there not because I’m trying to be a rebel without a cause. I can’t not do it. In fact, what is obvious to the rest of the world, I often don’t see because the elephant in the room screams out to me loudly that I can’t see what other people see. Because I see the elephant in the room and it starts talking to me, I can often bring that out. People say, “How did you know that?” I said, “It’s the only thing that I saw.”

I’ll share something with you. This is how crazy it is. I was a psychiatrist for many years and none of my suicidal patients died by suicide. I remember I was seeing someone for about five months in my office. I don’t think it was racist but he said, “Mark, I’m black.” I said, “What?” He said, “I’m black.” He was very black. I said, “I didn’t know that.” I was focused on the pain that was going on inside, fear and the anger screamed out at me, “I’m running out of time. Find me.”

What’s interesting about the why of challenge that we always talk about is people with that why do see things differently than the rest of us. Their reticular activating system is programmed differently and they see things that the rest of us don’t see. That’s fascinating. That’s the first thing that you brought up because you’re seeing that thing that the rest of us didn’t notice.

I’m getting to know Gary and I hope I get to know him even more because I took his quiz. If you’re reading, take it. It’s going to tell you stuff about yourself. This is not a paid advertisement. It was remarkable. I can understand people saying, “Why do I have to care about my why? I’ve got all kinds of other things going on.” You’ll have to listen to the My Wakeup Call episode with Gary because he talks about how he reached a point where things weren’t going that well and then he had to pivot. What he landed in is he wasn’t paying attention to his why. It caused him pain and be a bit of lost.

Death is compassionate to hopelessness and pain that won’t go away. Click To Tweet

What he’s sharing with the world, which is why he’s excited and enthusiastic, is he pivoted to something that was life-changing for him. If you live a highly transactional life and there’s nothing wrong with that, but you find that it’s not making some pain inside you go away. You thought it would deliver happiness and it delivered immediate gratification for 20 to 30 years, maybe if you’re lucky. It may be that you’re on the same path as Gary and it may be that you do well to discover your why.

Mark, I want everyone to get to know you. Let’s start back. Where are you from? Where did you grow up? Tell us a little bit about your childhood and give us a quick version of your life. Where did you start? How did you get into Psychology, UCLA and writing books? Take us through that path.

I grew up in a suburb outside of Boston, Massachusetts. I’m told I’ve lost a fair amount of my Bostonian accent, even though I hope this is going to be a piece of interview. I went to undergraduate school at UC Berkeley. I look good for my age. I was there during the late 1960s. I went to medical school in Boston and then trained in Psychiatry at UCLA. You listed a bunch of things and I was impressed by who you were describing, although it’s hard to believe that was me. One of the things I’ll share, and I don’t know what you’ll do with it, is one of my greatest personal accomplishments was I dropped out of medical school twice and finished.

Why did you do that?

I don’t know anybody who dropped out twice and finished. I had untreated depression. I dropped out because what was happening is I was passing everything but I couldn’t hold on to the information. The first time I dropped out, I worked in blue-collar jobs, which I still romanticize. Life was so much simpler. You get off at 5:00, go back to your apartment and have a beer. I worked in Boston and what I used to do is I would put up liquor displays and Heineken windmills at bars and liquor stores. I loved getting to know the bartenders and the people delivering liquor to those places.

I came back and then after six months, it happened again. I asked for another leave of absence because I wasn’t flunking. The dean of the school cared more about finance than students. I met with him and I don’t remember meeting with him that clearly but then I got a call from the dean of students who cares about students. You’re going to find out a little bit about my why in the suicide prevention work because he called me and had a deep, thick, Irish Boston accent. His name was William McNary. We used to call him Mac. He called me and he said, “This is Mac. You better get in here. You got a letter here from the dean and we need to read it together.”

I go in there and read the letter. It says, “From the dean of the whole school who cares about finances. I’ve met with Mr. Goulston and we talked about another career. I’m advising the promotions committee that he be asked to withdraw.” I said, “What does this mean?” Dean McNary said, “You’ve been kicked out.” Gary, it was like a gunshot wound to my stomach. I know what that feels like because I almost died from a perforated colon several years ago. I collapsed a little bit.

I came from a background where depression age, hardworking parents and you’re only worth what you do in the world. If you can’t do it, you’re not worth much. I didn’t think I was worth much. Imagine you come from that and you’ve been kicked out. A little bit of a safety net is ripped away from you. He says this to me, Gary, “Mark, you didn’t mess up because you’re passing but you are messed up. If you get unmessed up, this school would one day be glad they gave you a second chance.”

I started to cry because I didn’t know what compassion was. He looks, points his finger at me and says, “Mark, even if you don’t get unmessed up, don’t become a doctor or don’t do anything the rest of your life. I’d be proud to know you because you have a streak of goodness and kindness in you that the world needs and we don’t grade in medical school. You won’t know how much the world needs that until you’re 35 but you got to make it until you’re 35. You deserve to be on this planet. You’re going to let me help you.” If he had said, “If I can help you, give me a call,” I probably wouldn’t have called him and I probably wouldn’t be here.

BYW 41 | Treatment For Suicidal Patients
Treatment For Suicidal Patients: About a quarter of entrepreneurs become entrepreneurs to deal with their depression of being different when they were younger.

 

The combination of not believing in yourself at all, your future cratering, having someone reach in and see a future for you that you don’t see then he went to bat against the entire medical school. He arranged an appeal. He was a PhD. He stood up against the rest of that promotions committee who were all MDs, heads of hospitals, because he saw something in me that I didn’t see. The combination of that. I took a year off and I went to a place called the Menninger Foundation, which was a very famous psychiatric foundation institute that was in Topeka, Kansas and now in Houston.

It was during the oil embargo in the early 1970s. I drove from Boston to Topeka. I grew up in the suburbs but I was able to connect with schizophrenic farm boys. I remember asking the psychiatrists at Topeka State Hospital, “Is this legitimate?” They said, “What?” I said, “Is this a legitimate specialty? It’s not like anything else.” They said, “No, it’s legitimate and you’ve got a knack.” Knowing that I could do that, I went back, finished med school and then went to UCLA, trained in Psychiatry. One of my earliest mentors was probably one of the top three pioneers in the study of suicide prevention. He kept referring me to these very suicidal people and I paid it forward. I did with each of them what the dean of students did for me. Thank you for giving me a long leash to tell, I hope, a story that wasn’t too boring.

Not at all. Mark, take us back even to high school. What were you like in high school?

I was pretty smart. I skipped a grade when I was young. I was probably intellectually or intelligence-wise, able to keep up with the people a year older than me but I was socially backward. It was weird because in high school and if you remember that you were an athlete, but in high school or even in little league I would play right field. That right field is the worst position on a baseball team. It’s for people who can’t do anything else but you have to include them in the gym. It wasn’t even high school because I didn’t make a high school baseball team but early on during the summers, I would go to this camp in which I was with people my age and I was in the infield. I was hitting home runs in that abbreviated field. That’s how I was socially also. I was socially very introverted and very shy.

One of the interesting things about the why of the challenge is the people with that why either do extremely well or do very poorly. If they look at their why as a gift, like you are now, you do amazing things. When they’re younger, oftentimes, they see themselves as an outcast, as different, doesn’t fit in. “I’m not like everybody else,” and they go the other direction and oftentimes end up medicating to get away from themselves. That’s why I wanted to go back and see, “What you were like in high school?” It sounds like maybe you weren’t typical, nor in college, nor in med school. You didn’t take the typical path and didn’t follow the traditional route but you got to a place that’s been amazing for so many people that you’ve been able to touch.

I don’t know if you know this statistic but someone told me because I do suicide prevention programs with a friend of mine whose fourteen-year-old son died by suicide. He reached out to me and we present to YPO and EO. He made a documentary called Tell My Story, because that was one of the suicide notes from his son. He shared something with me. He said, “About a quarter of entrepreneurs became entrepreneurs to deal with their depression of being different when they were younger.” Many of them aren’t that bothered by failure because they were depressed because they didn’t fit in. Richard Branson or Herb Kelleher had dyslexia, ADD. What happened is, they became entrepreneurs because they couldn’t work in other settings where they had to follow all the rules.

It’s unfortunate that you went to UCLA because I went to USC. Those of you that are reading may or may not know that USC and UCLA are fierce adversaries. No matter who it is that goes to UCLA, I have to tell them it’s unfortunate that they went there. When you got out then, did you get into private practice right away or what happened after you finished medical school?

What was interesting is one of my mentors was a suicide prevention specialist. One of the top ones in the world. Something that was very fortunate for me was when I finished training, I was supposed to go into a fellowship but the fellowship fell through 1 or 2 weeks before I graduated. I just went into practice with this mentor of mine, Dr. Ed Shneidman would refer me to suicidal patients. Here was my good fortune. If I’d gone into an institution, when I saw patients, I would have had to make sure that I followed all the guidelines. What happened is, as I was seeing suicidal patients, I learned to listen into their eyes and their eyes were screaming out to me, “You’re checking boxes and I’m running out of time.” I had a choice, check the boxes or go where their eyes took me. I wasn’t a rogue psychiatrist. I still follow certain standards but I didn’t have to report what I was doing and I followed with their eyes took me.

If you focus on what they’re listening for and you get it right, they’ll give you everything. Click To Tweet

I remember this dentist who was highly paranoid came in. He sees me and says, “You’re the seventh psychiatrist I’ve seen in a couple of years.” I said, “Sounds like you’ve been busy.” He says, “I’m looking for one that I think will work with me but before we go any further, I need to tell you something. The people above my bedroom make noise all night long. They won’t shut up. It’s driving me crazy.” I was about to say something empathic like, “That sounds frustrating,” and he says, “Before you answer me, you need to know that I live on the top floor of my building and there is no access to the roof above me.” He then gave me a Chris Rock. I’m like, “What are you going to do that one?”

“I’m playing in my head.” He said this is the 6th or 7th psychiatrist and they probably say, “I can understand how that must be frustrating. That may be part of the things that we can help with. Maybe we can treat it in such a way.” He looked at me. I’m playing all the normal and kindly responses. In my mind, I said, “Do I want to help him or do I want to just give him another reality check and have him go look at another psychiatrist?” He’s looking at me with that look. We’ll call him John. I said, “John.” He said, “Yeah?” I looked right into his eyes and I said, “I believe you.” He looked at me and his eyes filled with tears and started sobbing, almost convulsing. I thought, “I’ve just released someone. I’ve pushed them over the edge,” but I know this territory pretty well and I knew it would be like a tropical storm. I just let him cry for about five minutes. He stops. His eyes are all bloodshot and then he looks at me with a huge smile and says, “It does sound crazy,” and we connected.

Is that a common thing for people that are struggling with suicidal tendencies is they need to be heard? Is there a common or not a common theme? I’ve never experienced somebody in that situation. I don’t know what I would do if I ran into somebody that was struggling.

The week after Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, they died by suicide around the same time. I wrote a blog, which you can find if you look and it’s called Why People Kill Themselves: It’s Not Depression. It got 500,000 views in ten days. It’s on Medium. I said, “There are hundreds of millions of people, maybe one billion or more, who are depressed in the world and the majority of them don’t commit suicide. There are people who lose marriages or jobs and the majority of them don’t die by suicide. One of the things that nearly all the suicidal patients I saw had in common is they had despair.” If you break the word despair into des-pair, they feel unpaired with reasons to live, hopeless without a future, helpless, powerless, worthless, useless, purposeless, meaningless and when they all line up together like a slot machine, pointless. They pair with death to take the pain away.

Two of my books that you mentioned, Why Cope When You Can Heal? and then the second book was Trauma to Triumph. In Why Cope When You Can Heal? I introduced the approach that I’ve finally given a name to that I used for years. It’s called Surgical Empathy. Something I didn’t go into but I am now when I give talks on it, is you know the term dialysis and the term lysis, it breaks things. The way surgical empathy works is through a process of empatholysis which means that you break the destructive connections that people are connected to that are holding them back.

One of the things that people who are highly suicidal feel that you wouldn’t feel if you haven’t been there is, death is compassionate to hopelessness and pain that won’t go away. Death is like the sirens calling out to the sailors, “We’ll take away your pain.” That’s what death does to people who feel highly suicidal. They feel not just understood but felt, “Death will take it away.” In my book Just Listen, which did so well around the world, is I talked about how do you cause people to feel felt? Feeling felt is not the same as feeling understood.

It is you don’t feel alone in the hell you’re going through. I learned how to interact with my patients who are feeling suicidal and they felt less alone in hell. I didn’t push treatments on them. What I basically said is, “I’m going to find you wherever you are. I get there, I’m going to keep your company,” and then if you want some treatments because all the ones you’ve tried haven’t really worked. They’ll say, “Maybe we should try something.” Job one is I want to find you in the dark night of your soul and keep you company.

When you talk about how to help people feel felt, dive a little deeper into that for us.

I’m going to give a tip to anyone worried about their teenagers or spouse. There’re some videos of me doing this. I’m a Marshall Goldsmith’s MG100 Coach and I share these four prompts. It’s up on YouTube. If you’re worried about a teenager, child or spouse, but let’s focus on teenagers because the suicide rates are going up. It’s alarming. My advice to parents is, don’t have a heart-to-heart talk with a teenager unless they initiate it. Do this when you’re doing something together like driving, doing an errand and say, “All of us parents are worried about our kids. Can I ask you a few things?” “Okay, mom.” “Okay, dad.” Here are the four prompts. The first one is, “At your absolute worst, how awful are you capable of feeling about yourself or your life?” They’re going to go, “What?” “How much pain are you capable of feeling about your life or yourself when it’s at its worse?” Your teenager is going to say, “Pretty awful.” Using surgical empathy, you say, “Pretty awful or very awful?” “Very awful.”

BYW 41 | Treatment For Suicidal Patients
Just Listen: Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone

The second prompt, “When you’re feeling that, how alone are you capable of feeling with it?” They say, “Pretty alone.” You want to go deeper. “Pretty alone or all alone?” “All alone.” The third thing you say to them is, “Take me to the last time you felt it.” They’re going to say, “What?” “Was it 2:30 AM because we heard you walking around in your bedroom the other night.” A special thing happens when you get someone to describe something so clearly that you can see it with your eyes as the listener, they re-experience the feeling. As your kid describes that, “I was walking around, I couldn’t get back to sleep. I didn’t know whether to put my fist through the wall or my head through the wall.”

“What happened?” “I started looking for your outdated sleeping pills. I couldn’t find them.” “What happened?” “I didn’t know what I was going to do.” “What happened?” “The sun rose. I felt a little better.” The fourth thing you say to them is, “I need your help with something. Your mom, your dad, needs your help. Also, when you’re feeling that way or even heading down that way, I want you to do whatever it takes to get our undivided attention because we get preoccupied, we get distracted. There is nothing more important than helping you to feel less alone when you feel that awful. Do you understand me?”

If you follow those steps of tactics, you may need to modify it, but that can help. I’m expanding my work now from suicide prevention to what would two stubborn children who grow up to be angry teenagers, defiant teenagers or failure to launch twenty-somethings who are being passed by their younger siblings. I’m partnering with a great partner and we’re launching this. We’re having families do this. Every day we’re asking families, “When you’re with your children, and it works when they’re about 6, 7, or older. You say, ‘We’re going to have an exercise every day and we’re going to talk about four things.’” The parents go first, “What is something that you felt upset about?” That’s the first thing. The second thing is, “What did it make you want to do?” That was your impulse. “What did you do?” The fourth thing is, “How did that work out?” What you’re teaching your children and modeling is self-restraint. A lot of times children don’t listen to their parents. They imitate their behavior and don’t see self-restraint. They see mom and dad snapping at each other. The children model the behavior. They often don’t listen to lessons.

By doing this, what the parents are modeling is, “Whenever we feel upset, we have an impulse to do something that’s probably not a good idea.” We recommend to the parents, don’t bring up something that’s going to freak out your kids. Don’t say, “Mom and dad lost their jobs and we’re going to be in the street tomorrow.” Try and pick something that’s not going to freak your kids out. What we’re hearing is how it’s helping marriages because what’s going on is, moms and dads, after they do the exercise, they go upstairs and one of them will say to the other, “What I usually do when I’m upset with you is I either yell or I mope but I didn’t do that. What I’m doing is I’m telling you what I felt upset about, and going forward, please don’t do that again.” By going through this exercise, what the whole family is modeling is self-restraint. I don’t want to get into politics but what we’re seeing right now and why I think this country’s in so much trouble is you’re seeing people not modeling much self-restraint. We’re seeing the negative consequences of that.

What are the negative consequences of not practicing self-restraint?

I hope your readers know that you’re an amazing athlete. You got to look up everything you can find out about this guy. Part of what you learn as an athlete is you need to be able to show self-restraint and turn your anger into focus and determination. What was interesting, because you weren’t at UCLA is John Wooden. One of the things he would say to his players is, “We’ll play to our strengths and we’re going to make the other team angry. We’re going to make them lose their cool because if they lose their cool, they’re going to lose. We’ll play to our strengths and be very centered.” You probably know the story where he taught his players to spend a lot of time lacing their sneakers to avoid blisters. He might have been the most admired college coach ever.

Those questions there is how you help people practice self-restraint so they don’t lose their cool and they stay with their strength. That’s been very helpful. Just hearing what you’ve got to say about working with somebody who’s going through those kinds of challenges. Most of us, especially parents, don’t have any idea what to do. We do what maybe we would have done but that’s not necessarily going to work. Those four questions were very helpful. Thank you for sharing that.

Thank you for giving me a platform.

I’m assuming you transition from doing suicide prevention into working with CEOs and executives. How did that happen?

I see the elephant in the room and I somehow make it safe for people to open up. What happens is, I’m not just a coach. I’m a confidant, an advisor to CEOs. A couple of them have said, “I can’t hide from you.” I said, “Is that good or bad?” One said, “It’s weird but it’s not bad.” Another one said, “I hide from everyone, including myself.” If you go to my LinkedIn profile, I seem to be able to be helpful to founders, entrepreneurs and CEOs about any psychological or interpersonal challenge that they’re having.

Forgiveness is accepting the apology you will never receive. Click To Tweet

How are you able to see the elephant in the room? Tell us about that. What do you mean by that? What does that look like or feel like for you? You’re seeing something we don’t see. How do you do it?

This is how I learned to listen into minds, eyes and souls. The first one, I was on rounds at a VA Hospital in Boston. This is just before I was going to drop out. I was probably quite depressed. We were outside. I’ll call him Mr. Smith’s room. All the other medical students, interns, residents and the attending physicians, were all jockeying, “Mr. Smith needs chemo.” “Mr. Smith needs surgery, such and such.” I’m like a ping pong ball not knowing what he needs. A nurse comes over to us. We’re outside Mr. Smith’s room and she said, “Didn’t you hear Mr. Smith jump from the roof last night? He’s in the morgue.” As loud as your voice is right now, I heard a voice say to me, “Maybe he needed something else.” That’s listening into minds.

My second thing was listening in the eyes. This is how I learned how to listen to eyes. I was paged to see an AIDS patient in the early 1980s. I don’t even think it was given a diagnosis yet. I was paged by the doctors up in one of the medical floors. They said, “We need you to okay these restraints on his arms, legs and an order for an anti-psychotic medication because he’s pulling at the IVs and his respirator. He’s kicking and screaming.” I go in the room and we’ll call him Mr. Jones. He looked at me and his eyes were like saucers. He couldn’t talk because he had a respirator tube in his throat. I say, “What is it?” They said, “He’s just psychotic.” I gave him a pencil to write something in his right hand. He just scribbled and I thought, “Maybe they’re right.” I said, “You were pulling at your IVs, kicking, riving off the bed and pulling off the respirator tube. We had to put down your arms and legs. I gave you something to calm you down. When you calm down, we’ll take everything off.”

A day later, I get paged and they say, “Mr. Jones told us to page you.” I go into his room and he’s seated up in bed. He’s off the respirator and the restraints. He looks into my eyes and they weren’t saucer-shaped but he grabbed my eyes with his eyes. He said, “Pull up a chair.” He wouldn’t let go of my eyes and he said, “What I was trying to tell you is that a piece of the respirator tube was broken and stuck in my throat and you do know that I will kill myself before I go through that again, do you understand me?” He wouldn’t let go of my eyes and I said, “I’m sorry. I get it.”

The third case, which was when I was out practicing as a psychiatrist seeing suicidal patients, I used to moonlight at one of the state hospitals. Once a month, I cover for the doctors on the weekend. Sometimes you’d be up 24 hours and you’d be sleep-deprived. I was seeing a patient that was referred to me by Dr. Shneidman. I called her Nancy. That’s not her real name. I didn’t think I was helping her. She’d made 2 or 3 suicide attempts before I started seeing her. She’d been in the hospital several times a year. Back then, you could be in the hospital for a month. Now they get you in. They get you out. I didn’t think I was helping her at all and she didn’t make much eye contact. This is where I learned how to listen into people’s souls. It’s Monday. I hadn’t slept much. I’m in the room. There’s Nancy. She’s not looking at me. She’s looking 30 degrees to the right.

As I’m sitting with her, the color in the room turns black and white, then I get the chills. I thought I was having a seizure or a stroke. I did a neurologic exam on myself. I’m tapping on my knees and elbows. I said to myself, “I’m all here. I’m not having a stroke or seizure.” I had this crazy idea that I was looking out of the world and feeling what she felt and because I was sleep-deprived, I blurted something out that normally I wouldn’t say. I said, “Nancy, I didn’t know it was so bad. I can’t help you kill yourself, but if you do, I will still think well of you. I’ll miss you. Maybe I’ll understand why you had to get out of the pain.”

I thought, “Did I think that or did I say that? I gave her permission to kill herself. I’m screwed.” She looked at me for the first time. She looked and held on to my eyes. I thought she was going to say, “Thank you for understanding. I’m overdue.” I said, “What are you thinking?” She said, “If you can really understand why I might have to kill myself to get out of the pain, maybe I won’t need to,” and then she smiled. That’s when I started going into their world because I didn’t want to let go of her eyes.

This is the first time we made eye contact like that. I said, “I’ll tell you what we’re going to do, I’m not going to give you any treatments that you’ve been tried on before that haven’t worked, and have you come back and tell me that you didn’t try them because they didn’t work. Would that be okay?” She looked at me like, “I’m listening. Keep talking.” I leaned in and I said, “What I am going to do is I’m going to find you wherever you are because you’ve been there all alone too long. I don’t want you to be alone anymore. Is that okay?”

Her eyes watered up and said, “I think I’d like that.” Does that give you an example of my journey? The point is, people will say, “He’s not a challenger. He’s, ‘I saw outside the box.’” I’m trying to teach the world that. The book behind me Just Listen, became the top book in listening in the world. I don’t teach it in America because America is one of the worst countries when it comes to listening. Americans want to be listened to. I’ve spoken in Moscow twice. India three times. The UK, Canada.

BYW 41 | Treatment For Suicidal Patients
Treatment For Suicidal Patients: Feeling felt is not the same as feeling understood. Feeling felt is when you don’t feel alone in the hell you’re going through.

 

Here’s another tip I would like everybody to take from our episode, including you, Gary. I gave a talk in Moscow along with a Nobel Prize winner named Daniel Kahneman. He wrote the book Thinking, Fast and Slow. Five of my nine books are bestsellers in Russia. The title of my talk was Change Everything You Know About Communication. There’re little video clips of me up on YouTube. The whole point of it is what I said to this audience of 1,000 Russian businessmen, CEOs and managers, I said, “I’m going to change everything you know about communication because the way you communicate now is people listen to you when you give them information and then you listen to them. It’s a very nice transactional conversation. If you’re lucky, you might get some business from them, but if instead of focusing on people listening to you and being transactional, you focus on what they’re listening for. When you focus on what they’re listening to, as long as you have good stories, good points, they’ll give you their mind for one hour. If you focus on what they’re listening for and you get it right, they’ll give you everything.”

I said to them, “Let me see if I got it right.” I’m speaking in English, but in real-time it’s translated into Russian. I said, “If you’re business people, you’re listening for a way to get greater positive and measurable results because that’s how you get a raise. Is that true?” “Da.” “You’re listening for a way to get those that are less stressful because you’re all drinking too much or eating too much. People, it’s a real mess. You’re listening for a way to get those positive results that are less stressful, is that true too?” “Da,” and then I said, “Most of all, what you’re listening for, is for me to give you tactics that you can use immediately that are doable by you. You don’t have to be a psychologist. You don’t have to buy a book because I haven’t written this book yet. You don’t have to take a course, because I haven’t created a course yet. You’re listening for tactics that you can use immediately, right out of the box and you don’t have to buy a book, which you don’t have the time to read or take a course that you don’t have the time to take, that gets you better results that are less stressful and that will be worth more than $500 and a day of your time that you spent to be here. Is that true?” They go, “Da.” I say, “Sit down. I got to give the presentation.”

If you’re reading, you need to go to the WHY Institute, because Gary is still that incredible athlete. He wants to share something with you that changed his life for the better. Changed how he’s going to spend the rest of his life. My counsel to you Gary is if you can share how that happened, you’ll get more buy-in, because if you try to convince people how it’s good for them, you might get some but what people are listening for is they’re saying, “I need to change my life too. Something’s not working right. All the stuff that I did that got me some positive results aren’t working. I don’t know what else to do but I got to do something else. I’m like a broken record. I’m living the definition of insanity. I keep doing the same old things expecting different results. It’s not happening for me. How did this change your life?” I’m just hoping you will share that as you shared that on my show. It’ll be a field of dreams for people who know what that’s about and people will come.

Focus on what they are listening for. That was a good example. What you say is if you’re able to playback to them what you think they’re listening for, then you know you’re right and then you can deliver on that.

What they’re listening for is they’re in pain because they’re stuck. All their usual approaches to getting unstuck aren’t working. They’re getting frustrated and not taking very good care of themselves because to cope with the frustration, they’re eating and drinking poorly. They need to make the discovery that you made. If you were to share how that changed your life like you said, you’ve never been suicidal but it saved your life from where you were stuck, that’s your audience.

When I was on your show, I didn’t elaborate enough on that aspect of it. More of the convincing versus the compelling. That’s super helpful. I appreciate you bringing that up. Mark, what is the best piece of advice that you’ve ever given or ever gotten?

I’ve received a lot of advice. I’m giving you a piece of advice because one will change all your relationships and cause you to be happier than you’ve ever been in your life. I’ll start with that one. It’s a quote from a friend of mine, Dr. Shawne Duperon. She said, “Forgiveness is accepting the apology you will never receive.” After I heard that, I tried that with my dad, who’s been dead since 1995. The apology that I never received from him was one of the things that he used to say because he was a numbers person, an accountant, when I would come up with creative, challenging ideas, that made him a little crazy. Like a CEO who is a sales type person. When I come up with one of my crazy ideas, he’d say, “What makes you think you know anything about anything?” Because I made him nervous.

The apology that I never received was him saying to me, “Mark, I can’t even imagine what you’ve accomplished in your life. When I used to say to you, ‘What makes you think you know anything about anything,’ I was talking about myself. I knew numbers but there’s a lot about life I didn’t know. The stuff you know about life, I am proud that you’re my son,” and then I apologize to him. I said, “I am sorry that I had a chip on my shoulder and I miss you.”

Mark, if there are people that are reading that are wanting to connect with you. They want to hear more from you. Maybe they want you to come to speak at their event or come work with them. What’s the best way for them to get in touch with you?

Everybody has wake-up calls, but not everybody wakes up. Click To Tweet

Find me on LinkedIn because that’s probably the best place where it’s most current in terms of what my focus is. My website is also pretty robust, MarkGoulston.com. I hope they’ll visit my podcast so they can hear you when you were my guest on My Wakeup Call. Check that out and you’ll hear Gary being a wonderful and even compelling guest.

II love the name of your show and what it stands for. Tell people a little bit about what Wakeup Call stands for.

Everybody has wake-up calls but not everybody wakes up. A wake-up call is something that’s your opportunity to shift in your life. Focus on something that maybe you weren’t focusing on. I start all my podcasts the same. I say, “What’s most important to you in life currently that you think will be most important to you at the end of your life beyond family, friends, etc.?” People share what that is and then I say, “Share the wake-up calls that led you there.” People share stories as you did on my podcast. “This was a left turn. This was a right turn. This was a U-turn.” People share those. The way I use my podcast is I introduce my guests to each other. I get to know people. I say, “Why don’t you listen to each other’s podcasts and if you like what you hear, I’ll introduce you?” I’ve had people like Larry King on, Ken Blanchard, Jordan Peterson, Esther Wojcicki, whose daughters are the CEO of Netflix and 23andMe. Also, Tom Steyer ran for president. All kinds of people.

Mark, thank you so much for taking some time of your day to be here. It’s been a joy learning from you. I’ve got three pages of notes from our conversation. I appreciate that and I look forward to staying in touch as we continue on our journeys.

I got the beginning of clarifying my why with Gary’s help and the WHY Institute. If you’re reading, you need to do the same. Even if you don’t think you need a why, be curious enough to find out some stuff about yourself. It’s only going to make your life better.

Thank you. Have a great day, Mark.

You too. Thank you, Gary.

It’s time for our new segment, Guess The Why. I want to talk about the celebrity or the singer, Justin Bieber. What do you guys think his why is? Is he somebody that thinks differently, follows the rules or stays the course and does things the way other people do? I believe that his why is to challenge the status quo and think differently. He’s somebody that went from a picture-perfect little kid to playing a completely different part as he’s gone along in his life. To getting lots of tattoos, always surprising people and doing something unique and different with his musical career, appearance, new songs, changing genre of music, where you can go from pop to hip hop, to lyrical, to Despacito.

BYW 41 | Treatment For Suicidal Patients
Treatment For Suicidal Patients: Even if you don’t think you need a why, just be curious enough to find out stuff about yourself. It’s only going to make your life better.

 

He’s somebody that thinks outside the box and challenges the way things are done. He comes up with something new and different. He is somebody who thinks differently. That’s my take. I’d love to hear yours. Thank you so much for reading. If you’ve not yet discovered your why you can do at WhyInstitute.com. You can even use the code Podcast50 to do it at half price. If you love the show, please don’t forget to subscribe below and leave us a review and a rating on whatever platform you’re using. Have a great week. Thank you.

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About Dr. Mark Goulston

BYW 41 | Treatment For Suicidal PatientsMark Goulston, M.D. is a Founding Member Newsweek Expert Forum and Marshall Goldsmith MG100 Coach, who works with founders, entrepreneurs and CEOs in dealing with and overcoming any psychological or interpersonal obstacles to realizing their full potential. He is the co-author, along with Dr. Diana Hendel of Why Cope When You Can Heal? How Healthcare Heroes of Covid-19 Can Recover from PTSD and Trauma to Triumph: A Roadmap for Leading Through Disruption and Thriving on the Other Side as well as being the author or co-author of seven additional books with his book, “Just Listen,” becoming the top book on listening in the world.

He is the host of the My Wakeup Call podcast and is the co-creator and moderator of the multi-honored documentary, Stay Alive: An Intimate Conversation about Suicide Prevention. He is on the Board of Advisors to Healthcorps and Biassync and is an advisor to No Worry, No Tension, the leading company in India focused on emotional wellness and the co-creator of their Goulston Vohra Happiness Scale. He was a UCLA professor of psychiatry for more than twenty years with a subspecialty focus on suicide prevention and helping the surviving family members following a completed suicide and is also a former FBI hostage negotiation trainer.

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Challenging The Status Quo And Managing The Imposter Syndrome With Veronica Kirin

BYW 30 | Imposter Syndrome

 

Our society has expectations for us. That is why so very often, we tend to put ourselves inside a box, hesitating to go beyond it and do what it is we really want to do. It is time to get outside of the box and challenge the status quo as Dr. Gary Sanchez sits down with anthropologist, author, and serial entrepreneur, Veronica Kirin, to tell us how. Facing the natural struggle of having an imposter syndrome whenever we try something new, Veronica offers her insights and advice on how we can manage it. She further breaks down some of the common reasons we find ourselves feeling in the wrong place and how to overcome it. Veronica also taps into defining our identity, the choices we have to shape it, and the roadmap it provides to our lives. What is more, she then takes us into her award-winning book, Stories of Elders, an anthropological study about the paradigm shift of the high-tech revolution.

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Challenging The Status Quo And Managing The Imposter Syndrome With Veronica Kirin

We are going to be talking about the why of challenge. If this is your why then you live outside the box. You don’t believe in the norm, following rules, or drawing inside the lines. It is far more natural for you to rebel against the stereotypical or classical way of doing things. You aggressively seek unique ways of approaching the world and finding solutions that no one else has considered. You like to create and innovate, especially in game-changing ways.

You have eccentric friends, eclectic tastes, and a larger variety of both. You may have diverse interests with little in common with each other. As an entrepreneur, you prefer to create a new market versus serving an existing market. You love to be different, think differently, and challenge virtually anyone or anything that is too rote or conventional. People with your why often accomplish amazing feats. When you say you want to change the world, you mean it.

Pushing the envelope comes naturally to you. I’ve got a great guest for you. Her name is Veronica Kirin. She is an anthropologist, author, and serial entrepreneur who works with business leaders to scale their impact and income while managing imposter syndrome. She is also the author of the award-winning book, Stories of Elders and the creator of Stories of COVID, which documents the pandemic in real-time.

Veronica, welcome to the show.

Gary, thanks for having me.

Tell everybody, where are you?

I am in Berlin, Germany.

What the heck are you doing there?

We are talking about the challenge here. It’s so apropos for everything in my life. I wanted to have the opportunity to live in a different place than what I had grown up in. I wanted to see what else the world looked like in the pandemic. Believe it or not, it made that easier because it helped me cut ties, which is heartbreaking in a way. I desperately miss my friends and they know it but I wasn’t seeing them anyway because we wanted it to all be safe. When the opportunity came to move to Berlin, it was an easy yes, and we are loving it. It’s been glorious.

Where are you from then? Tell us a little bit about your story? Where were you born? How did you get into Anthropology versus where you are now? That’s an interesting twist.

It’s unusual for me to be asked where I was born. I’m usually the one asking where someone was born as the Anthropologist. I was born in Michigan, the Great Lakes State. I grew up in Michigan and a little bit between Michigan and Pennsylvania which is where my grandparents were. My grandparents were very old-world-style grandparents and lived in an old steel mill town. I got very used to this romantic feeling around brick roads and eating pellets and go with my grandmother, which is a Croatian style crepe, except for much more fried than the crepe is. It’s a lot better for you. I grew up already straddling two worlds.

Imposter syndrome is the feeling that you are in the wrong place. Click To Tweet

Talking about the challenge as your why. It appeared very early for me. I was bullied in school. I didn’t know it at that time, but I had that challenge in my head. When I was made fun of for being nothing like the other kids, I was going to the beat of my own drum. I was able to pull out of it and think to myself, “Why is your way the better way?” Automatically, the challenge was appearing in my life and it was protecting me. No surprise than that I would become an anthropologist if I, at that early age, was already thinking, “Why is your way, your society, and your culture the better way?” Anthropologists study cultures and intentionally remove themselves from their own culture in order to be as much a tabula rasa as possible thus having an unbiased lens to look into other cultures and societies.

There you go with that string of events. You ask where did I move to Berlin? The short answer is, I was living in Los Angeles at the beginning of the pandemic. I thought I wanted to try out the LA dream. I prefer warm weather because my blood is Croatian. I meant to be in Mediterranean-style weather. I simply don’t do well in the cold. It’s a running joke with friends and family. It’s the truth. LA didn’t feel very good to be surviving a pandemic and I didn’t have a support system there yet. I’d only been there six months. I went back to Michigan, where my partner still was. We regrouped in Detroit and moved to Berlin.

How do you like it there in Berlin? What’s going on there as far as the pandemic? How are you guys surviving there? Do you speak German?

I speak Spanish fairly fluently, French, a bit of Croatian, and a little bit of American sign language. None of those are helpful right now. We’re learning German but we love it. The status of the pandemic here is we’re in a soft lockdown. Public transport is still open. Grocery stores are still open but some of the bigger stores or the soft sell stores are all closed. We wanted to get new bicycle, and we had to find a store that was allowed to be open in order to buy a bicycle, for example. I can go on coffee walks but you can’t go on coffee dates. None of the cafes are open.

It’s an interesting way to learn a new culture and society because it’s almost like an intentional baby step into Berlin since nothing is open. I’m able to get to know public transportation in baby steps. I’m able to get to know the grocery stores in baby steps rather than doing it all at once. We love it. I’ve been having incredible meetings and networking with entrepreneurs since there are no networking events. We’re doing it all via Zoom. Everyone has been welcoming. It’s been fantastic.

Tell us a little bit about imposter syndrome and how did you get involved with that.

If our identity hasn’t shifted to the new level we’ve reached, imposter syndrome will emerge. Click To Tweet

I have faith n imposter syndrome. I was talking to a client about it because she’s experiencing her own imposter syndrome. She’s going through a growth spurt. I went through my growth spurt and with growth comes imposter syndrome. It doesn’t matter if you have done whatever you are doing now a million times. If you do it in a new and different way, in a new industry, or with a new title, oftentimes, imposter syndrome rears its head because it’s tied to our identity. If our identity hasn’t shifted to the new level we’ve reached, imposter syndrome will emerge.

What is imposter syndrome? Define that for us.

Imposter syndrome is the feeling that you are in the wrong place, you are literally an imposter, and you’ve fooled the masses into thinking that you are capable or knowledgeable. Oftentimes, it comes even more for people who are minorities, women, and people of color. They find themselves in a room where there are other people that don’t look like them, sound like them, or act like them. They wonder to themselves, “How did I make my way here?” Even though you have done it through your own merits. I work a lot with entrepreneurs with imposter syndrome because they’re going from founder to CEO mindset. That usually is when imposter syndrome rears its head.

Does anybody not have imposter syndrome?

If they tell you they’ve never experienced imposter syndrome, they are lying to themselves.

I’ve experienced that at many different times in my life. As you’re growing up, how could you not? When you’re thrown into a new situation, you’re the newbie, and you don’t feel comfortable. How do you help people with it?

The first thing is to identify what’s the root cause. Is it your inner child that is being triggered because something feels scary and you’re worried about being exposed? If you’re exposed, and you lose out on your subsistence because now nobody wants to work with you. Is it your inner bully? Sometimes, our inner bullies are our mom or dad’s voices in our heads telling us we can’t do it. If you’re feeling, “I can’t do it,” sometimes, that’s simply your inner bully coming out. We have to stand up to our inner bullies and tell them that we can.

Sometimes, it’s the identity shift. It’s nothing super psychologically profound, but it still needs to be resolved within us. What I told my clients was that, “This is going to take time, but remind yourself that everything you are being asked to do by these clients is all things you’ve done before. If you remind yourself of that, your identity will start to settle as a consultant and you’ll start to feel like you’re finding your sea legs.”

BYW 30 | Imposter Syndrome
Imposter Syndrome: Anthropologists study cultures and intentionally remove themselves from their own to be as much a tabula rasa as possible thus, having an unbiased lens to look into other cultures and societies.

 

How much of overcoming imposter syndrome is the action, just doing it? You have to do it. Can you not do something to overcome imposter syndrome?

No, because our minds are plastic the way our brains work, but they need new input in order to rewrite. Even if you’re sitting in meditation to overcome imposter syndrome, you are still taking action. You can’t do nothing but you’re never not doing nothing.

What got you interested in imposter syndrome? What was the story that led you to say, “I got to help other people with imposter syndrome?”

To rewind a little bit, I was thrown into some intense experiences when I was younger. Taking my why of challenge. I decided to take a gap year halfway between sophomore and junior year of university. I joined the National Civilian Community Corps, which is a branch of AmeriCorps in the United States. NCCC is the national guard but with hammers rather than guns. We train on a base and we deploy all over the United States. Sometimes, we do in partnership with FEMA or the American Red Cross. I was wide-eyed, bright eyes, bushy-tailed, suddenly I am down in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. I’ve been told that I am going to be starting the case working program for a nonprofit organization. I’d had no such experience except for I’m a people person, as you can tell. I did the research.

For those who don’t recall, Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast on August 20, 2005. The internet was a different place. The research was a different place. I was still using a flip phone. My research into figuring out how to make this happen was different. By the time I finished my role there, which was only two months, I had over 300 cases, 3 filing cabinets, all color-coded, all figured out, double lock and key, and making sure that people’s information was secure and safe. They’re also being served. I was a twenty-year-old having done that.

The first thing you start thinking is, “Can I do this? I want to do this.” It doesn’t matter if you want to do it because the brain still wants to go, “Can I do this?” As an entrepreneur, as I have pivoted into new roles throughout my life, it rears its head. Becoming an author rears its head. Becoming an Anthropologist and getting my degree. What does it mean to be an anthropologist? What does it mean to be an entrepreneur, especially a web developer without a degree in web development because your degree is in Anthropology, as a coach, and as a consultant?

We live our life by labels for better or for worse. Click To Tweet

For myself, I found it to be key. The faster I can pivot around imposter syndrome, the better my work is. As I am scaling clients because my work day-to-day is working with entrepreneurs who want to scale up their businesses or they’re in pain because they’re hitting their human 24-hour limit and they don’t know what to do. It’s time to scale. If you’re going to scale, you’re going to hit imposter syndrome. It’s critical that we work your way through that as fast as possible, but also as holistically as possible. Not ignoring it, you can’t ignore it, but it’s critical to work through it. That’s why it’s become enormously important in my work as an entrepreneur coach.

There’s going to be a lot of entrepreneurs reading this. They’re going to soon be facing that imposter syndrome. What do you do with them? What’s your process? How do you help them get past it?

It’s different for every case but there are broad strokes that are available. The first is to think about when has imposter syndrome ever reared its head before in your life. Is there a pattern? If there’s a pattern, that’s awesome because now we can start to see where your triggers are, and we can predict when it’s going to come. If we can predict when it’s going to show up for you, we can get ahead of it and be prepared. It will still happen, but rather than feel the panic and sink into the, “Can I do it,” instead we see it and say, “Hi, imposter syndrome. You’re here again. Let’s start working our way toward integrating this new identity of growth.” That’s the biggest key for me. It’s figuring out where your triggers are for imposter syndrome.

If you discover that it’s an inner child issue, something inside you feels unsafe because of this new growth. I asked my clients to tell their inner child that they’ve got this. That’s your mantra for that time period, “I’ve got this.” That’s where my client I said, “Everything you’ve done for your clients, you’ve done this before. You’ve got this.” It was the inner child coming out, then the inner bully is very mean. We are strong back at them and say, “No, you don’t know what you’re talking about. I can do it. You need to be quiet. Go sit down.”

Are those the two most common reasons or is there a most common reason why people have imposter syndrome?

Those are the broad strokes. There are all kinds of little nuances. Those are the two categories as to the voices in our heads that often are naysayers.

When you know this, are we able to preempt the strike? Imagine you’re on an airplane and you’re scared of turbulence. Turbulence is coming. You prepare yourself, “If there’s turbulence, this is what I do.” Is it the same thing?

Your identity is that je ne sais quoi part of you that comments on your own lived experiences. Click To Tweet

Yes. You train yourself almost like a fire drill like, “How do I want to react to this?” You don’t always know when the turbulence is going to happen, you know that it’s going to happen. “I’m on an airplane. It’s going to happen. I’m an entrepreneur, imposter syndrome is going to happen.” If you pre-train your brain and decide who you want to be or how you want to react in those moments in order to navigate it, you are going to have a better outcome. You’re going to get through it either way, but it’s that moment of decision of, “Am I going to get through this, learn from it, and grow, or am I going to let it get the better of me for days, weeks, months?” Heaven forbids you to get to the better of you and you let go of your business.

From my perspective, I would see imposter syndrome being a box that you put yourself into. We know how you like being put into a box. You’re like, “I’m not staying in this box. There’s no way.” Who says, “I have to be in this imposter syndrome box.”

Who says it has to be a box?

You help people get out of the box they put themselves into.

To grow the box, to reshape it, whatever it needs to be. We live our life by labels for better or for worse. That shapes our identities. We come straight down to identity. What box have you been put in or have you put yourself in, and how do we grow you out of that because the opportunities are in knocking.

Let’s talk for a minute about identity. I hear more about it. How would you define your identity? What is identity?

Your identity, in my opinion, is that je ne sais quoi part of you, that comments on your own lived experiences. We have this nature versus nurture balance, the question of the world. We all have experiences and our experiences shape us. Why do two people have the same experience and choose different things? It’s that je ne sais quoi, that part of you that we can’t define whatever makes us human or makes us conscious. I almost did a philosophy minor, but I didn’t. I’m not going to delve too far into this, but it’s that piece of you that even though you’ve lived for decades, your still you, and you know you’re still you.

Is your identity something that you define? Is it five sentences about who I am, is it a feeling, or what is it?

BYW 30 | Imposter Syndrome
Imposter Syndrome: It doesn’t matter if you have done whatever you are doing now a million times. If you do it in a new and different way, oftentimes, imposter syndrome rears its head because it’s tied to our identity.

 

You are delving into the realm of Plato, Socrates, Nietzsche, and all of the philosophers who have been grappling with this issue for the ages. Have we got a firm answer? Not really, but I can say as an entrepreneur and working with my clients that we have a choice that goes on top of our lived experiences. It is in those choices of who we want to be that can shape our identity. You’re still you, but it is you that has made those choices rather than those experiences making those choices.

In what way do we use identity?

It’s our roadmap for life. Our identity shapes our reactions to our experiences. It shapes the choices we want for our careers. Why’d I chosen Anthropology or Disaster Relief instead of Science or Math? If you could think of the folds of our brain as a map and our identity are those pieces, it tells us yes or no. It helps us to describe what we want. Sometimes, it comes straight down to what food do you want to eat that day. I identify as somebody who loves Italian food, so I’m going to choose pasta over the salad. It can be so tiny, and yet it shapes our world every moment of every day. I’m going to say the word guru because usually, the guru is applied to people who teach meditation or yoga. Meditative gurus would argue that we can reshape our identity. It’s that ability to make choices about ourselves. We’re choosing to change the roadmap, which then changes how we react to the world around us.

Tell us about your book, Stories of Elders. What is that?

That is an anthropological ethnography. It’s an anthropological study about the paradigm shift of the high-tech revolution. My favorite thing as an Anthropologist to study is paradigm shifts. In 2015, I noticed tech was affecting my life as an entrepreneur in tech, but it was also being talked a lot about in the news. My friends were talking about how uncomfortable they were with Facebook, which we’re all still having that conversation. I’m a challenge why.

I wanted to do something about it. I don’t want to sit around and let somebody tell me what to think. To me, life is understood through lived experiences and stories. That’s ethnography. I didn’t feel that I could adequately understand how technology is affecting our society unless I spoke with the people who had lived through as much of the high-tech revolution as possible. That’s why the book is called Stories of Elders. I went to people who were born before 1945. Before World War II, before that tech revolution that happened due to the war then afterward, we know it was an enormous boon to our economy and our technology. I spoke with people who grew up using crank cars. Now, they’re using an iPhone. That is the foundation for understanding that I was seeking. That’s what the book holds within its pages.

What’s the essence of the book? Is there a theme, “This is what I learned,” or more of the stories about those people?

Our identity is our roadmap for life. It shapes our reactions to our experiences and the choices we want for our careers. Click To Tweet

It’s less the stories about those people, although you get to know them because some of them appear over and over throughout the book because they’ve had such a front-row seat. For example, I interviewed Ned Gould, who engineered our first spy satellite for the US government. If you want a technological conundrum, try getting a film into space, taking pictures, and then sending it back to be developed. We have it easy these days with digital photography. People like that appeared over and over and you got to know their stories but it was about their reflection on technology. The book is organized into the twenty most common topics around technology that emerged through these interviews. Things like communication, relationships, community, and that’s what the book was seeking. How is it affecting our society?

If I were to talk to your parents and I ask them your upbringing or the way you lived your younger years more typical and traditional or more different in your way, what would they say?

They would say that a large part of our conflict came in from them being rather traditional parents and me being a challenge why. I was quite a good girl. I was Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady. I follow the rules but there was tension because I knew that I wanted to explore more. What drew me to Anthropology? Once I was allowed to explore myself and I found Anthropology at university, it all clicked together and I was able to explore both what makes me culturally, but then also what’s reinforcing that, what’s breaking that down, what’s reflected about me in other cultures, and what are other cultures reflected thing to us. It went on from there. It’s still going.

One of the interesting things about the why of challenge is how they react to people being bullied or bullies in general. What’s your take on when you see somebody being bullied or being bullied yourself? They’re the person that stands up for the one that’s being pushed down. Has that played out that way for you?

I’m oddly conflicted adverse. Instead, I befriend the person that I feel is being attacked and be a resource or a stanchion of strength for them to reinforce the fact that they are okay despite whatever is going on. I will stand in the way of somebody being a total a-hole. I’m not going to go to fisticuffs and I’m not going to go out of my way. I had a lot of friends who were on the fringes of our school society back in the day and I worked hard to make sure that they felt like they were okay as well.

Your friends were more of the eclectic ones that we talked about? You had a wide variety of friends, not just jocks? You had a lot of different kinds of friends.

You need to have a unique subset of friends in order to be a good coach and consultant to entrepreneurs. Click To Tweet

I was very much the floater.

One of my friends who’s one of the world’s leading economists. He writes a weekly email newsletter to millions of people. He has your why. I asked him one day, “Why do you have such a wide variety of friends?” I was at his 60th birthday party and there were many different kinds of people at this party. I couldn’t believe it from Newt Gingrich to the boyfriend of the hairstylist. He said, “It’s my job to be able to explain to the world what’s happening. If all I know is my perspective, then that’s one perspective. I need to be challenged by other people. I need to see it from other people’s perspectives so that I can accurately tell what’s happening versus one opinion.” How does it speak with you?

It feels very familiar. I have the full spectrum of friends still. You need to have a unique subset of friends in order to be a good coach and consultant to entrepreneurs because you’re going to have a variety of clients. I feel like if I had only one type of friend, I would get bored.

You got to keep you stimulated.

There’s so much out there to learn. We have one life that we know of. It’s already overwhelming to consider it, “How will I taste the fruits of this world while I have it?” It’s the same conundrum of people who love to read and they say, “I will never be able to read all the books in the world.” You’ll never be able to experience everything in the world. If I have only one type of friend, I’m already cutting myself short.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received or the best piece of advice you’ve ever given?

The best piece of advice I’ve ever received from one of my colleagues in NCCC when I was still wide-eyed and bushy-tailed, I was very upset that she wouldn’t wear her seatbelt. I’m a little bit like a Doberman in that way like, “The rules must be followed.” Oddly, for a challenge, “What’s going on? Why won’t you wear your seatbelt?” My nickname on the construction site is Vern. She turned to me and said, “Vern, not all rules are made to be followed.” I was twenty years old. It’s shocking and true as a challenge that unlocked something within me because, as I said, I grew up traditionally. To have somebody say that to me and validate that little whisper for me, that allowed me to grow into who I am.

The best piece of advice that I give is it’s for entrepreneurs but it works for anyone that, “If you have an idea, you wouldn’t be able to have the idea if you weren’t the right person to make it happen.” People like to fool themselves into thinking that they can’t do it for whatever reason. Here we are back at imposter syndrome but you have what it takes. If you didn’t, you couldn’t have conceived of the idea. If you have an idea of banging around in your head, you’ve got to make it happen. You know how to find the resources, get the education, and what you need to do because you were able to conceive the idea, so do it.

BYW 30 | Imposter Syndrome
Imposter Syndrome: We have a choice that goes on top of our lived experiences. It is in those choices of who we want to be that can shape our identity.

 

Don’t let anything stop you. Veronica, if people are reading this and they say, “I would like to reach out to you. I’d like to connect with you. I’d like to follow you.” What’s the best way for people to get in touch with you?

They can hop on my website at VeronicaKirin.com. All of my social media is on there. My books are on there and that email form goes directly to me. It does not go to my assistant. It’s a direct line to myself. If you want to talk more, go ahead and get in touch.

Thank you so much for taking time out of your day in Berlin. How long are you going to be in Berlin?

We don’t know yet but it’s indefinite.

It’s great to get to know you and know your story.

Thank you so much, Gary. I appreciate it.

There’s a lot in there for people. You get people outside of their box. They put themselves in a box, and you get them outside. What is your message as far as your coaching? Why would somebody choose you?

I have a unique take in a couple of different ways. I work to scale small businesses, but I use startup tactics to do it. Small businesses are the door that we can unlock to freedom for everyone, especially in the LGBTQ community. A lot of business owners don’t have the resources or attention that startups do. They get stuck at their 24-hour limit. They can’t grow, get stressed, and don’t know what to do. It wasn’t the freedom they had drawn out. Freedom is possible for them, but we need to unlock that door for them.

Not all rules are made to be followed. Click To Tweet

I get what you’re doing and I get the tactics that you use, but why would I choose you over everybody else who does what you do?

I’m not going to let you fail.

What is it that you believe? You’re the perfect person for what you’re doing and the reason for that is because people put themselves into a box, into limits, and limit themselves, and you don’t think that way. You’re going to get me outside and pass what I thought I could do. You’re going to push me beyond the box that I stuck myself into, whether that’s imposter syndrome or all the tactics that you have.

The question is not about what you’re going to do for me or how you’re going to do it, but it’s, “Why should I choose you?” Which goes right back to your why. If you start your answer to that question by saying, “I believe.” If I believe what you believe, then you’re the right person for me. If I don’t believe what you believe then you’re not the right person for me, and that’s okay too. If you don’t tell me what it is you believe, you’re telling me all these things that you do, you leave it up to me to figure out who you are.

I went inside my head one day and I thought hard about what is the meaning of life. What I came out with is that I believe that life has a chance to happen and we have this one moment in history to become everything that we were meant to be. My calling is to help you get there.

How I do that is by all these other things. What I am is an entrepreneurial coach or whoever you’re talking to at that moment. It starts with what you believe in. If you’re looking for people that are looking to do something amazing, in their own world amazing, and don’t know how to get there and feel like they’re trapped. What we talked about is to challenge that thought, “Who says you can’t do this? Who says you can’t have the impact you thought you could?” That’s where your why, how, and what. Did Dan take you through your how and what?

Yes.

If you have an idea, you wouldn’t be able to have the idea if you weren’t the right person to make it happen. Click To Tweet

What’s your how and what?

Making sense of the complex is my how, big surprise, and my what even bigger surprise is helping to contribute to other success. Big surprise that went into disaster at first.

What you said with your why, how, and what is exactly the summary of our entire conversation because you challenge the way things are done, you figure out solutions to big problems that people think are big, and you grabbed their hand, help them do it, and contribute to them. If it’s the imposter syndrome, let’s challenge that there even is such a thing or that it’s going to limit you. Let’s figure out what it is that is limiting you and then let’s see how we can have a bigger impact when you’re outside of the limiting factor. The better able you are to articulate that, the less you’ll get stuck on what you are doing or how you’re going to do it. This is what I’m going to do for you. How do you know that’s what I want? How do you know this is what I need? It allows you to get to the essence of, “Why quickly should I choose Veronica to help me move forward?”

It’s all of the things that I know but it’s easier to do for clients than it is to do for yourself. I appreciate you doing it to me.

That’s when you know their why, how, and what becomes crystal clear. I know the language that you speak now. I know the conversations that you’re having. I know how to create a program, a plan, or to help you get past those because I know the way you think. It speeds the process. Thank you so much for being here. I’m glad we got to connect. If there’s a way that we can help you, if there’s a way you feel the why, couldn’t work with what you’re doing, let us know.

Dan and I had a great conversation about how it can fit into my coaching, and I’m quite enthused. I love you, guys, for sure. Simon Sinek was an Anthropologist.

I can imagine that you are a lot of fun to hang out with.

Maybe someday, we’ll have that chance. I hope so.

BYW 30 | Imposter Syndrome
Stories of Elders

My wife has the why of challenge. I know what it’s like to hang out with you.

You have fun every day, don’t you?

Yes, I do.

Those fights are pretty fun, too, aren’t they?

No, they’re not. There is no filter. Here’s one of the things I’ve noticed about people with the why of challenge and maybe this isn’t you but it’s my wife and a lot of other people with that why that I know. Sometimes, I don’t feel like people with the why of challenge has a sense of the way they said something in that it can come off a little bit aggressive where they don’t even know it. “I’m just talking and we’re talking here.” “That wasn’t a talking conversation. That wasn’t a little bit more than just talking.” “What do you mean I was talking? We were having a conversation.” “That wasn’t a conversation.” I don’t know if those kinds of conversations were happening with you.

It certainly sounds familiar in my own relationship but I have found that one can turn it off or at least tone it down. If I’m being intentional about like I am on this interview, I’m doing a speech, or I’m talking to a client, there’s a bit of a switch that I’m able to flip in order to be a little bit more intentional with my words because I’m smart enough to be able to do that. When you’re tired and when the filter is off, sometimes the words come out, and you’re like, “That didn’t mean to sound like that.”

It would be interesting to ask your partner.

Who is an explainer, so that’s fun too. Dan and I talked about that because his wife is also somebody who wants to makes end and he’s a challenge. I found that even as a challenge as well, sometimes challenging in the argument rather than being a team member in the arguments was not where it should be even though the intention is to continue to argue as a team member.

Do you feel like you would make a good employee?

I’ve had one corporate position. I was only an employee at that company for four months and they promoted me. I went from executive assistant to the director of an entire department. Because of that, I had the latitude that I was comfortable with at that age. I didn’t know what I had within me and what I was capable of. At 23, it was the right position for me. I don’t think I’d be a very good employee anymore. I’ve been an entrepreneur for over many years. I know what freedom feels like. You’re not going to tell me what to do.

You show up on time or do it this way.

I will show up on time because I want to respect you.

Do you feel more successful when you’ve been able to help me or when I trust you?

When I help you because I’ll help somebody in the grocery store, they don’t know me. Do they trust me? I don’t know, but I still help them.

Thank you for being here. Have a great time in Berlin, however long that is. I’m excited for you. You did what you wanted to do and you’re making it happen. A lot to be said for that.

You are as well.

I retired from dentistry. It’s such a relief to not be in that box that I was in. My brother has the why of the right way. He’s very structured, rigid, and particular about everything, but it takes a lot of creativity out of you when you’re put in that situation. I had a lot of years of, “I’ll do it.” Not the passion for it. Now, every day is awesome.

Congratulations. Thank you. I appreciate it.

It’s time for the new segment, which is guest the why. We are going to guess the why of Madonna. What do you all think the why of Madonna is? I have what I think, but if you had to guess of the nine whys which why would Madonna be. I think Madonna has the same why as our guest, Veronica, which is challenge. She didn’t follow any rules. She didn’t do it the way anybody else does. She did her own thing, beat her own drum at every age, including now. I’m sure she’s doing it her own way. That’s what allowed her to be so successful, different, fearless, create things that we’d never seen before.

That is I think Madonna’s why is challenge. Let us know what you think. Thank you for reading. If you have not yet discovered your why you can do so at WhyInstitute.com. Use the code Podcast50 and you’ll get it at half price. If you love the show, please don’t forget to subscribe. Leave us a review and a rating on whatever platform you’re using so that our show gets reached by more people because our goal is to help one billion people discover, live, and make a decision based on their why. Thank you for being here.

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About Veronica Kirin

BYW 30 | Imposter Syndrome

Veronica Kirin is an anthropologist, author, and serial entrepreneur, who works with business leaders to scale their impact and income while managing imposter syndrome. She is also the author of the award-winning book “Stories of Elders” and creator of Stories of COVID™ which documents the pandemic in real-time.

Veronica Kirin graduated with anthropology honors and recognized as a Forbes notable graduate of Grand Valley State University with the intent to enter the nonprofit and humanitarian sector. She immediately enlisted with the AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps where she was personally presented with the Spirit of Service Award by President George HW Bush and received the Bronze, Silver, and Gold Congressional Medals.

Unfortunately, that disaster relief work left her with PTSD, and she was unable to continue her service work. She suffered silently for years, afraid of the stigma that comes with the condition. In 2010 she founded a nonprofit organization in an attempt to continue her service work. Though that organization ultimately failed, it was the spark that lit the entrepreneurial fire.

Today, Veronica is recognized as a Forbes Next 1000 Honoree, 40 LGBTQ Leaders Under 40 by Business Equality Magazine, is Founder of the award-winning tech company GreenCup Digital, and Entrepreneur Coach to socially-minded business leaders driven toward positive worldwide impact. She has leveraged her anthropological training to study paradigm shifts, resulting in an award-winning book “Stories of Elders” which documents the high-tech revolution through interviews with those that lived it, and is today documenting the pandemic in real time through worldwide interviews.

She has spoken at entrepreneur conferences and events around the world and has presented two TEDx talks on her research. She is most passionate about LGBTQ Rights and Social Equity.