Best-selling Author of The Passion Paradox and Peak Performance
Welcome to the latest episode of the catalyst health and wellness coaching podcast. My name is Brad Cooper and I’ll be your host and today I’m holding here in front of me a book by Brad Stulberg and Steve Magnus titled peak performance. You’re going to love the subtitle because it is so perfect for us as health and wellness coaches. Subtitle is, elevate your game, avoid burnout and thrive with the new science of success and he’s not talking about some Hocus Pocus science of success. This guy’s a researcher. He and Steve really dug in on this and created an exceptional book and they’ve got a new one coming out here that was just released this week, so we’ll talk about that as well. Let me tell you a little bit about Brad bred . Solberg researches, writes, speaks and coaches on health and human performance. His coaching practice includes working with athletes, entrepreneurs, and executives on their mental skills and overall wellbeing. So again, perfect for us today. He’s the author of the bestselling book peak performance that I just mentioned and the newly released passion paradox, a guide to going all in finding success and discovering the benefits of an unbalanced life. I like that for a twist. Brad is a columnist for outside magazine, has written for the New York times, New York magazine, sports illustrated, wired Forbes and the Los Angeles times. Not a bad lineup. Huh. Previously Stolberg worked as a consultant from McKinsey and company where he counseled some of the world’s top executives on a broad range of issues. An avid athlete, an outdoor enthusiast, Stolberg lives in Northern California with his wife, son and two cats and by the way, if you’re on Twitter you’ve got to follow this guy. It’s at B Stolberg at D. S. T. U. L. B. E. R. G. With that, let’s jump into this just to reminder, we have loaded up the catalyst coaching Institute website with resources, so if you haven’t been there in a while it might be worth checking it out. It’s catalyst coaching institute.com. You can always reach out to us at [email protected] whether you got questions about what is this coaching thing all about, how do I get started with the certification? I’m already certified and I just want some continued education. I want to find out more about how I can grow my business, whatever. That’s what we’re here for. That’s why we do this. So with that, let’s move on to the latest episode of the catalyst health and wellness coaching podcast.
Brad Cooper: 2:34
All right Brad. Well thanks for joining us. Super excited about this. Loved your book. And now I’m so excited to get your new one. The audience knows a little bit about you from your bio, but walk me through the journey. How’d you end up here from where you were prior?
Brad Stulberg: 3:00
It’s kind of an interesting direction from McKinsey and how that all came together. So I’ve had a pretty circuitous path , um, to, to where I’m at right now. I , um , it’s funny when I look back at my childhood, it makes perfect sense, but certainly as it was unfolding, it didn’t always feel like that. So when I was in high school, I really wanted to be a writer. And I remember I applied to the middle school of journalism at Northwestern, which is one of the best journalism schools in the world. And I didn’t get in. And as a 17 year old kid and the mindset was, all right , I guess I’m not going to be a writer. Um , so I went to undergraduate school in Michigan, I studied business economics and went down that track, which as you just mentioned, led to a , a gig at McKinsey and company, which in hindsight, you know, management consulting is a pretty good place to learn how to write nonfiction. You’ve got this problem you’re trying to solve. You’re , you’ve got some hypotheses , but you’re not sure. So you do research, you talk to a bunch of experts, you tell a story , uh , if you’re good at your job, you say, here’s how I might be wrong. And then you tie it up with a bow. And that’s more or less what a good nonfiction book is. Um, so I didn’t know of it. I was in journalism school, but in a way I wasn’t McKinsey. And , and , and then coming out of that experience, I started a blog and I just wrote is a labor of love and as a hobby and in a few of my blog posts got picked up and then a few articles got picked up and I kind of just kept on following the momentum , uh, and pursuing it. And eventually I started to get paid for writing and one thing led to another. And here I am.
Brad Cooper: 4:27
And was that over five years? Was that over 12 years ? Like what was that pathway from? I started doing this and it’s obviously different for everybody, but just for you specifically, what was that timeline?
Brad Stulberg: 4:40
So I would say that it was probably two years of labor of law writing a blog. And I did that when I was in graduate school. Um , so I kind of skipped a step. Um, then it was probably another year and a half of writing for um, what I would call, not publications that I would be thrilled to be in now. But at the time it was awesome and I was getting paid and then it was another year and a half to two years of doing some magazine work and then the book deal and then the book came out. So I’d say like an eight year process to the book coming out.
Brad Cooper: 5:20
Nice. I think that’s actually encouraging for people to hear because a lot of other wellness coaches, they’re so excited, they so want to do this and they get the ball rolling and just takes time to build the clients and get the news out and build your reputation. So, and I’m , I’m, I’m intrigued by the McKinsey writing school. It obviously worked for Tom Peters pretty well for you. So very nice. So I want to talk about your new book, but first your peak performance book 2017. Loved it. You wrote with Steve Magnus outstanding, where there, were there a couple of topics that got more attention than you expected as as it got out there in the, and people were reading
Brad Stulberg: 5:58
it and sending the emails and asking you questions. Were there things that you’re like, huh, didn’t think that would get that kind of attention? I think that some of it was pretty predictable actually. So the, the, the part of the book that seems to have gotten the most attention is the first section which we called the growth equation, which is stress plus rest equals growth. And when we were doing the research for the book, that was by far the most interesting part to us. So we just kind of assumed and it has pretty broad applicability that it would be interesting to other people. So I’d save it. The foremost thing is that that was predictable. To answer your question, sleep in M and you know, if you could see me as I’m saying this, I’m kind of like biting my tongue because on the one hand I , I did expect a lot of people to latch onto the parts about sleep. But certainly not, I guess to the extent that , that that occurred. So the , there’s, there’s quite a bit in the book on the importance of sleep and particularly this notion that we think that we’re making progress when we’re working, whether that’s physical work or intellectual work or even emotional work, but all of the actual growth happens when we’re sleeping. So it’s like everything that you do with your body and mind during your waking hours sets the stage for growth to occur. But if you don’t sleep, you hardly get any of that, that growth. Um, and that was interesting. I mean, I knew that sleep was important, but I guess during the , the research and reporting on the book, I really learned from a scientific angle that the brain really does just connect all the dots and filter information and forge new connections when you’re sleeping. Um , and then obviously the body grows, grows at rest as well. Yeah , it’s so important. I , I’m not surprised. I’ve got a lot of attendant , we just had a sleep specialist on the podcast a few weeks ago and it’s , it’s just garnering so much attention right now in terms of, Oh cause cause we used to say, you know, I’ll sleep when I’m dead type thing. It was a badge of honor. And now it’s like you say that you’re just an idiot. It’s just so , yeah, I think it’s good too because like the pendulum swings, right. And I think the pendulum was definitely at the one extreme, which is I’m going to be a hero and pulling all nighter and exactly what you said, sleep when I’m dead and now the pendulum is swinging. I think in the other direction. Um, which is rest is really good for you. And I think that that’s an appropriate correction that’s happening. Yeah . Yeah, definitely. Definitely. It’s also kind of crazy. I guess the last thing I’ll say, and maybe it’s an indictment on like our fast paced culture is that like there are, there’s a whole like fricking tome of books being written, making the case on why you should sleep. Kind of ridiculous, right? Like , but , but I guess that’s where we’re at. Yeah , absolutely . Matthew Walker’s book obviously is one of the ones at the top of that list and so fascinating and stuff he dives into. So I think that started a cascade of many folks getting it
Brad Cooper: 8:55
out there. If you’re going to add a chapter to the book today, and I want to , I’ll talk about your next book, but if you were to add a chapter to peak performance today, based on what you’ve learned since you kind of send it off to the publisher to have the cover added and everything, what might you add? It’s a good question. I think that I would probably add a chapter.
Brad Stulberg: 9:14
Sure. And self-compassion . Um , and, and what I mean by that is understanding that any kind of progress is going to involve inevitable periods of stagnation and , uh, what you might call relapse. And that during those periods of stagnation and relapse, it’s really easy, especially if you’re the kind of person that reads a book called peak performance. It’s easy to get hard on yourself. And I think that we often tend to be too hard on ourselves and too judgmental towards ourselves and the ability to cultivate and practice some self-compassion , um, goes a long way obviously for your, your emotional health and how you feel, but also for your performance. There’s all kinds of research out there that shows that the more that you judge yourself that the more you perpetuate the cycle of failure versus when you fail and confronted for what it is and are kind to yourself, you tend to move on from that much more swiftly.
Brad Cooper: 10:09
Interesting. Very interesting. So that , that kind of sets up your book that just came out earlier this week. Talk us through it, get us fired up about it, and then we’ll jump into kind of the application to health and wellness coaching.
Brad Stulberg: 10:19
Cool. So yeah, I’m really stoked to have the book finally out in the world so that the book’s called the passion paradox. And it started with this notion that growing up, Steve, Steve and I wrote it at the same coauthor Steve Magnus, Steve and I were always told that we should just find and follow our passion. And that if you are passionate, you’ll live a great life and you’ll be full of energy and everything will be hunky Dory. Uh, and when we started to think about it, we weren’t really sure if that was true because we came to this realization that there’s a dark side to passion. And at first we thought that that dark side was simply, if you care a lot about something, it’s going to break your heart because eventually things aren’t going to go great. It’s going to move outside of your line of control. Uh, the tides will turn and it can be really devastated. Uh , and I think , uh , uh, an easy example of that is when you lose someone that you love. Uh, but there’s also retirement for people that are really passionate about their jobs. Uh, there is having a hit book or a hit album and never being able to perform at that level again for people that are creative. Um, so all these peak experiences are extremely gratifying and energizing, but, but, but the flip side is once you’ve had them, it can be kind of hard to come off of them. So that was the Genesis of the book was really wanting to explore this idea that passion and traditional conventional culture is portrayed in this positive light. And it’s not to say that passion can’t be super positive, but there’s also the downside of passion. And we felt that it hadn’t really been explored and that was what intrigued us. That’s what we did with the book.
Brad Cooper: 11:59
Another word in the title, and you referenced it as a passion paradox. The extended title for everybody listening is a guide to going all in finding success and discovering the benefits of, and this is one I , one thing I want to have you touch on, the benefits of an unbalanced life. Talk us through that a little bit.
Brad Stulberg: 12:18
Yeah. So at the end of the whole book is kind of like slaying these sacred cows, right? So the first sacred covenant even mentioned is that there’s, there’s all these people out there that say you find your passion, but the truth is you actually don’t find a passion. You develop it and cultivate it over time. So passion is not like a one time thing, right? It’s an ongoing practice. So that’s cow one . Then the second cow is if you follow your passion, everything will be fine. And as I just mentioned, that’s not always the case. Particularly not if you follow your passion , uh, without some, some kind of self awareness to realize what you’re giving up as a result . And then the third sacred cow that we go after is this notion that you should live a perfectly balanced life. So when I hear balance, I think that everything should be in equal proportion. Uh, I should wake up, exercise, make a healthy breakfast, go to work from nine to five, pick up my kids from school, spend time with my family, call some friends, have a drink, watch a TV show and go to sleep and do that over and over and over. That is awful. It , it will, it will. It’s two things. I think it sounds, I think , I think it sounds, I think it sounds awful because it’s Groundhog day, right? And you’re going through the motions and if you were to do it in any way where you weren’t going through the motions, it’s impossible. Right? And I think then you get, you get to outcomes. People either go through the motions or they hold themselves to this bar, but they’re constantly failing at because it’s impossible. So a big part of passion and living a life that’s full of passion and the good kind of passion is letting go of this idea of balance and instead of giving yourself permission to go all in on the things that you care about so long, and this is so important, so long is that, that that going all in and the passion is married with discipline and self awareness to understand what you’re giving up as a result and to be able to evaluate those tradeoffs with somewhat clear eyes. Beautiful . And that’s really, really hard to do. It’s so easy to just let the inertia and get swept up in the thing that you’re currently passionate about and forget about everything else. Um, and, and that can be fine for periods of time, but if you don’t have the ability to evaluate the trade offs , then you , you set yourself up for the potential of having some regrets. And in over the course of a lifetime, you often end up really well balanced. There are periods of intense work, there are periods of intense love, there are periods of arrest and stress. And you know, if you look over, like I said, if you look over a lifetime, the end result might be a very balanced life at any given week, any given day, even any given month , uh , as is often not balanced. And that’s okay. I love it. Suzanne always talks about the phases of life. It’s not, you’re never going for balance. You’re going for, and again, what you talked about, don’t blow up the other things. Go all in, but don’t blow up your marriage in the process. Go all in, but don’t come alcoholic and the , you know, so it’s that. Yeah, I love it. I can hardly wait in. The self-awareness part is so important. So you know, there’s, there’s going all in, whether you’re training to be an Olympian or you’re starting a business or you’re falling in love like this, or you’re a new parent. Like there are so many examples, right? It’s not just in business, it’s not just in sport. It’s really across the board. The times when, when most people feel most alive are times when they’re going all in on something. Oh yeah, absolutely. So this notion that we should strive for balance doesn’t make sense. Right? The flip side is the times when people often feel at their lowest is following periods where they were going all in on something and they come out and there’s nothing there. There’s just this empty space. So something that we explore in the book is how do you go all in while making sure that when you come out there won’t be empty space. There’ll be, there’ll be people in activities and endeavors to hold you up. And , and , and , and again, that’s part of this notion and the overarching theme of the book that’s part of being a passionate person. So it’s a passion. It’s not this one time thing. It’s not lightning striking. It’s really a practice. Um , and a part of that practice is making sure that while you’re going all in and while you’re pursuing your passion, you’re not completely letting aside things that are going to be valuable in other phases. Very well said. Love it, love it. So let , let’s talk about health and wellness coaches now they’re work with clients across a variety of areas. So it might be, you know, stress, sleep, eating well, exercise the whole gamut, kind of the broader look at life from your research. Any recommendations you’d pass along to them as a week with these clients that they should keep on their radar screen. So I think the first is this notion of, of this conversation around balance. Um, and that depending on how you define it, that, that pursuing it and holding that up is the , the outcome to strive for , uh , might be doing more harm than good cause so many people here balance, right? There are programs for work life balance. Most major corporations have it. Uh, and , and again, I think that it often just sets you up for disappointment or sets you up to go through the motions. So I think having a conversation about balance, but at the same time, not just giving clients the permission to like go all in with reckless abandon and disregard your family and disregard your health to pursue your career or whatever it may be. Um, but to realize that if you’re going to really push hard in this direction, just, you know, maybe once a week even evaluate what’s happening in the other areas of your life and make sure that there’s, there’s some ebb and flow that’s still happening. Sleep is , we mentioned that’s , that’s just a huge thing. Uh, you know, whether the more I learn about sleep and the more I experience with the new kid in my own life, what happens when I don’t get good sleep ? I think that sleep is just as important if you’re trying to win the Olympics and the 400 is, if you’re trying to write a book as if you’re trying to be a decent middle manager. Um, sleep is like the number one thing underlying all that. And it’s often the first thing to go because people think that, like you said, you’re sacrificing productivity if you’re not sleeping, when in fact it’s the opposite. Like sleep is so fricking productive. So I think that that’s, that’s a really important thing. Um, same thing with nutrition. Um, and , and again, we often think of this just for athletes, but that’s another theme that holds true across the board. Uh, and as I go through this list, this is definitely a theme in my thinking and in my writing as well, is that I think that there’s so much focus on like the last 1% and the nuance of performance that we’re, we have a tendency to overlook the basics. Absolutely. So if I was working with a new client that client might want to know about , uh, you know, the latest productivity hack that they heard on some self-help podcast or like a Kaizen method for eliminating waste or the latest gadget that they’re going to measure, their heart rate variability on and all those things can be useful. But I think of all that stuff is the penthouse and there’s no point of working on a pack house unless you have a super solid foundation. And in that foundation I put nutrition, sleep , uh, community and support. So working with a coach is great, but is there other community and support? Uh, and then just this broader notion of bringing like Pat, cultivating passion and bringing it to what you do, but then marrying it with self awareness. And very, very rarely will I meet someone that has mastered those four things. Um, I certainly have it like I spend very little if no time working on that marginal stuff because in my life there’s always one of those major things that couldn’t be better. So I start there and normally what I realized is if I start there and finish there, that’s, that’s more than good enough. It gets me what I need. Like I’ve never fixed a problem with my performance or my health, physical and mental by some kind of like fancy hack. It always comes back to one of those four foundational things.
Brad Cooper: 20:15
Perfect. So well said. So now let’s turn the mirror on you. What , uh , with your research, how has that influenced your life? You touched on it there, that you’re going back to those four things. Any specifics that you feel like, okay, once I researched this, I applied it specifically in my own life here. And by the way, everybody, he’s got an 11 month old at home, so that gives some concept about sleep.
Brad Stulberg: 20:38
Yeah. So the sleep, the sleep thing is , um, it is what it is. My, my, my, my son FIO is sleeping through the night a lot more now than when he was months. So , uh, so things have , have definitely progressed in the right direction. Um, you know, a little tidbit that came up that might be helpful. It’s just sleep is super important. I’m so glad I’m getting it back and it’s really fricking hard to sleep when you have a young kid. So for listeners that have young kids or for coaches working with people, with young kids, something that I found myself doing is , um, I would wake up in the middle of the night with , with Theo, I would wouldn’t wake up, I would be woken up and clarified and I would start to tell myself this terrible story that, Oh , now I’m awake. And that means that tomorrow is not going to be productive and I might not fall asleep. And Oh , I just wish Caitlin , my wife would deal with him. Why am I having to do this? Yada, yada, yada, and just go down the spiral of negative thinking and rumination. And I deal with Theo and all that would happen is I’d be miserable for an hour. I’d fall back asleep and everything would be fine. And there’s this beautiful Buddhist parable that talks about not letting an arrow hit you twice. And what that means is that the first arrow, you can’t always control. So in this case, it’s like a crying baby screaming at two in the morning. I can’t control that. But the second arrow or the story I tell myself about it or how I react to it, I have full control over. So something that I found so helpful is just releasing from all of that dumb storytelling. And when I’m woken up in the middle of the night, just reminding myself like, this is what’s happening right now. And if I have to say that to myself 10 times, that’s fine. So this is what’s happening right now. I’m going to deal with what’s happening. She’ll look to my kid and go back to sleep and tomorrow might sock but it might not sock . And I found that my beating myself up and worrying about the fact that I was up in the middle of the night was often worse than being up in the middle of the night. And there’s so many people listening to this that are saying, Oh my gosh, that’s exactly what I’ve gotta do. Excellent. Love it. Hard to hold all this at the same time because that doesn’t give you permission to just like go with the whims and never sleep. So it’s like, it’s how do you have the flexibility to, on the one hand, do everything that you can to sleep more and sleep better. But on the other hand , when you’re , when it’s the middle of the night and you’re not sleeping, the worst thing that you can do is start berating, judging yourself and telling these terrible stories about the fact that you’re not sleeping
Brad Cooper: 23:00
well. And that’s the face of life right now. You’ve got this amazing kid in your life and this is your passion. This is incredible. You get to be a dad and you’re turning that instead of that hour. And you even said it, you could go into it saying, this is a disaster. This is terrible. Well, that’s not going to be, the kids are going to sense that. There’s no question about it. So, yeah, absolutely.
Brad Stulberg: 23:22
And then the other, the other thing that , that definitely in the research , um, in, in writing of the passion paradox that has come up is just the , um, the amount of inertia that comes with really caring about something and how we often trick ourselves, at least I certainly do. And to thinking that I have enough self control to push back against that inertia, but I don’t. Um, so that might sound esoteric. A practical example, I love my work. I love writing, I love sharing ideas. There are times when I feel like I cannot turn it off. So I finish up a writing day and even though I’m supposed to be physically at dinner and I am physically at dinner with my wife and kid and my mind is in a completely other universe, right? It’s thinking about a book that I’m working on is thinking about an article, the marketing plan, the podcast. I got to record all this stuff. What I found is that, that I can’t, I , my self control won’t work. I can’t just tell myself to stop thinking about this. I’m like, if you close your eyes and you know, there’s that old thing that if you close your eyes and try not to think of a white Panda, all you’ll think about is the white Panda. Uh , so, so in this case, telling myself, Oh, don’t think about work, just be present, didn’t work. Um, what I found really helpful is just tweaking the environment to make it more conducive to being present with my family. Uh, and for me that means that my phone is turned off and in another room because just the mere sight of my phone is like a reminder of work. And I moved all of my books in my computer and everything that’s associated with my writing , uh, into a room that I am not in at night in , in when people leave their office. I work from home. So it’s a little bit harder. But when people leave their office, you get some of this naturally. But really getting rid of all the visual cues and triggers that kind of set off the work neural circuit in my brain has been helpful. And then the other thing that’s been really helpful as a meditation practice , um, because that has been so fruitful in allowing me to realize when my mind is off somewhere else, become aware of it that’s happening, not judge myself. Just say, Oh, interesting. Like this is happening right now. And then bring it back to the present. Um , in doing that over and over and over and over again, just repetition strengthens that muscle. And what I found in myself is it’s not that my mind doesn’t go off to other things when I would like to be present for my family any less than it used to. It’s just that now when that happens, I become aware of it more quickly and I’m able to refocus on what’s in front of me more quickly. It’s normal. Like that’s part of the book. If you care about something and you’re passionate, like of course you’re going to be thinking about it. Like what a great gift that I enjoy my job and I think about it often and I enjoy thinking about it. Uh, so there’s nothing wrong with that. If you’re in a stressful situation at work, like of course you’re going to think about that. That’s, that’s how our mind body system is set up. Um, so again, like the goal isn’t to not bring that stuff home, but it’s to be aware of when it’s taking mind space and be able to note it and say, Oh, like interesting. There I am thinking about work again and just that simple act of noting has a very powerful mechanism of them bringing, bringing you back to what’s in front of you. So in my case, that’s my family at night.
Brad Cooper: 26:44
Very nice. Very nice. The coming back to your first book, the pillars of that book were growth, priming and purpose. Can you bring that into the wellness coaching world a little bit and talk through maybe how the coaches could use those concepts in their coaching?
Brad Stulberg: 26:58
Yeah, for sure. So the growth equation I mentioned earlier in the conversation real briefly is this notion that stress plus rest equals growth. So in physical endeavors, it’s really simple. You pick up a 15 pound weight, you curl it, you rest after your muscle gets stronger. Eventually you pick up a 20 pound weight, you repeat the process over and over again. If you pick up way too heavy of a weight, you’re liable to injure yourself. It’s too much stress. If you pick up way too light of a late in , nothing’s going to happen. You could sit there and weightlift all day. If you’re only holding a one pound weight, you won’t get any growth. And even if you have the perfect way, if you’re in the gym four hours a day, every single day, eventually you’ll get injured. So the key to making a muscle bigger, again, as you find the right stressor, you stress it, you let the body recover and it gets stronger. Uh, same thing holds true for intellectual growth and same thing holds true for interpersonal growth and emotional growth. Um, so you want to stress yourself and stress doesn’t mean like the kind of nerves that you might feel. Uh , if you, if you have a performance review, but more so some kind of stimulus that challenges you and then follow that up with rest and reflection, particularly if it’s something with your mind, reflections to me, the same as rest. And then that’s how you get growth. Now when you’re in the weight room, it’s really easy to know what the appropriate stressor is, right? You move from a 15 pound weight to a 20 pound weight to a 25 pound weight. It’s very neat. Uh , out in the corporate world, it’s not always so clean, right ? What I’ve found is really useful though is a few simple, a few simple questions. So the first is if you ask someone to , to think about a seven out of 10. So if a one out of 10 is completely going through the motions, boring in a 10 out of 10 is waking up in the middle of the night, like panicking about the work. A good growth promoting stressor is right around a seven. Uh , another way to think about it is adjust , manageable challenge. So something that is a , if you think of like a , a circle, right? And in that circle is what you can manage something on the very periphery of that circle that you really have to reach for. But it’s within the wheelhouse. And then perhaps my favorite way , uh , to identify the right kind of stress is just to ask someone what’s the next logical step? And most people can answer that. So if it’s a manager with a team of eight that is starting to feel a little bit complacent in , in her job, best thing to do would be to ask her. So, so what’s the next logical step? And in most people with some time and thought can identify that. Um, so that’s how you would identify the stress and then the rest and reflection is to make sure that you’re not just going from one project to the next without time to let your mind body system recuperate. And then also without to reflect on what went well what didn’t. This is also very true in personal relationships. So if you think about how a friendship or a romantic partnership grows very often it follows the cycle of stress. Plus trust equals growth, right? You take on challenges, they’re not always easy, you work through them. There tends to be a period after a challenge of just kind of like we did it for relaxation and then you gain the capacity to take on even greater challenges. You know, you start with a plant, you get a cat and you get a dog and then you have a kid. It’s not so simple, but that basic just seems to be a pattern that happens in relationships as well. Um, so then the second main foundation in the book is this notion of priming , uh , which I spoke to a little bit in terms of how the environment affects me and in my ability to turn it off. But the environment can also help you turn it on. What’s interesting about priming is that so often we think about our environment influencing our work in terms of ergonomics and should the walls be white or green and should there be two windows or three windows? And should I listen to classical music or rock music or no music and all that stuff is good for sure. Um, but it pales in comparison to the , the people with whom you surround yourself. So the most important thing to me about priming isn’t whether your chair is, you know , four feet off the ground or three feet off the ground, but it’s where the people working next to you. And if you work from home or if you work alone well, who are the people that are in your , your intimate circle that you’re sharing ideas with? So again, it’s kind of like this back to basics, right? There’s so much focus on the last 1%, whereas like 90% of priming I’d say is just the people around you. Uh , and then the other 9% is probably like nutrition. So how are you eating and , and is that supporting your work , uh , in your schedule? And then the third major pillar in the book is this notion of purpose. Uh, in particularly if you feel that what you’re doing , uh, is a meaningful endeavor. And there’s all kinds of research that shows that if you are pursuing something that you think is meaningful, you are able to get more out of yourself because the part of your brain that’s associated with ego and the part of your brain that would otherwise say you’re going to injure yourself or you might fail or you might embarrass yourself. So slow down, stop, don’t push. Uh , that part of your brain goes offline just a little bit. When the focus of what you’re doing is something beyond yourself and I could go into the science and it’s fascinating, but again, I think most people know this intuitively. I know I always in my life, the situations when I’m willing to take a risk and get outside of my comfort zone tends to be when I’m doing something for someone else or some cause that’s beyond myself. Otherwise it’s really easy to kind of hunker down and say, I’m not going to take on that challenge. Like I might fail, but if it’s Whoa , I’m going to take on this challenge because I really believe in the cause and I think it might help other people. I’m more willing to put myself out there. Very well said.
Brad Cooper: 32:40
I mean obviously you’re pulling a lot of the research in around flow and challenge threat and all this kind of stuff and you’re making it understandable for people to be able to apply, so very well done with that. Speaking of research, you’ve done a great job of not just saying, Hey, yeah, this works for me. This is great. Let’s give it a great title. You dug into the research, you’ve done your homework, you took an evidence based approach to this writing. And frankly that’s what we continually try to get the coaches to stay focused on is don’t grab the headline, dig in, make sure it’s real stuff, it’s , it’s literature, peer reviewed, et cetera, et cetera. Any recent junk, any fads, exceptions you’ve seen recently that you just like to throw out there as kind of a warning, Hey, coaches, watch out for this. This is coming down the pike . You’re hearing a lot about this. And it’s a bunch of baloney .
Brad Stulberg: 33:26
The notion that there’s a perfect diet and it can be any diet. So whether it’s keto , low fat, you name it. Um , they’re like, there is no perfect diet. Um, yeah, so that’s, that’s something to be really skeptical of. Same thing with a workout. Like there’s a perfect workout, not true. Um, you could argue that the perfect workout is walking for 45 minutes from hotter at pace every day. It’s also the most boring workout and you can’t sell it, so it doesn’t grab a lot of headlines. Um , but there’s a fair amount of research that shows that that’s really all you have to do. And anything more than that, the risks and injury sometimes outweigh the benefits. So yeah, I think it’s just like the height machine, right? Anytime, anytime there’s anything that people are just pouring on to is the way , uh, I’m, I’m often really skeptical. Now the flip side of that in a more positive note on that is , well, how do you identify what works? I think that if you can see patterns, like again, I’m confident in the three principles that were in the book that I just shared with you because they’re not just like one single study, right? So this notion of stress plus rest equals growth, like that’s prevalent in music, in sport and intellect, and it’s also how evolution works. So that’s a pattern that is probably true because it’s so broad. Uh , same thing with priming and purpose. There’s evidence from different fields of academia and then from different fields of practice. So I guess when I’m thinking about things that work, I tend to look at the broad patterns , uh, and then, and then really go there and not worry about the, the latest study with nine people that shows that if you wear this magnetic bracelet as you’re falling asleep, you’re going to sleep better. Um, that may be the case. But if there’s stuff with hundreds of years of history and support, I’m more apt to go there. Same thing with this notion of passion. Like all of this, all this new kind of self-helpy stuff about find and follow your passion is only been there for the last 30 years. If you look over deep history , um, everything from Greek philosophy to Judeo Christianity to Buddhism , um, to more modern cognitive science and acceptance, commitment therapy. So therapies for depression, anxiety, living a good life. They are all saying the same thing, which is Whoa, like before we just recklessly pursue our passion, let’s think about what that means and let’s be let, let, let’s be thoughtful. Um, so I guess it’s, it’s a way of saying that instead of just going for the , the new thing, the new thing is exciting and it’s bright and shiny and lights up. So we want to pursue it. But there are patterns that have been around for millennia and those patterns are not any less true today than they were then. The application of them might be a little bit different in today’s world, but it’s those patterns , um, that , that tend to get the most bang for their buck. But it’s tough. I mean like , I get it, it’s tough. It’s tough as a coach because people want the new exciting thing. It’s tough as a writer because people want the new and exciting thing. You can only make the basics so sexy, but you know, it’s just like a, a mentor of mine that’s a high school basketball aficionado just talks about like fundamentals, fundamentals, fundamentals, and I think that we’re all kind of high school basketball players out there, right? Like if we can just nail the fundamentals, everything else falls into place. Well based on the sales of Hoosier’s still, whatever, 30 years later, I think you’re onto something there buddy. And again, like I mentioned earlier, you know I think of a lot of these ideas in the wellness spaces . There’s a pendulum that swings and I hope, and I don’t want to save it, I think this is happening, but I hope it’s happening, that the pendulum has swung is so far in the direction of hacks and like the four hour body and the four hour work week that people are getting sick of that and now it’s going to start to swing back to the fundamentals. Well, we’re trying, I mean I know it, right? Good stuff. Thanks for reinforcing that. So [inaudible] and you’ve done a good job of this already. So you may say, you know what? I think that’s all I’ve got, but we love giving listeners a chance to get to know the guests on a personal level. You talked about what you’re doing with your son at night and that kind of mindset shift that you’ve had. Any other areas in the , in the broader health and wellness that, you know, it’s kind of a struggle. This is what you’re working through. This is the journey you’re in that you wouldn’t mind sharing with them . I could go on for days. So technology, hygiene, it’s not just a nighttime thing. Um, it’s a , it’s a 24 seven challenge for me. And what I mean by that is how much time I’m spending , uh, consuming versus creating and also how much time I’m spending. Um, looking at the results of things versus doing the work. Wow. Writer, I spend a lot of time on Twitter. Uh , that’s a place where I can share my ideas and build my platform and connect with readers. Um, I spend more time than I’d like thinking about Twitter and if I’m being totally honest, more time than I’d like looking at how many retweets and how many likes my stuff got. I’ve gotten a lot better at that. Um, but to be honest, like three minutes spent on that is probably two and a half minutes too much. Um, and I’m, and I’m by no means it had even three minutes yet. So that’s, that’s definitely an area that I’m working on. And uh, I think being able to release from routine is something that’s challenging for me. Um, routine is super useful. It’s super helpful. There’s all kinds of evidence behind the power of routine. And before I had a kid, it was fairly easy to have clean routine and have control over that routine. And with a kid that often is not the case and it was kind of jarring for me at first. So now I’m , I’m, I’m really working on again, how do I not just throw routine by the wayside? So how do I strive to create good routine and good boundaries that allow me to feel well and work well, but at the same time, how can I not freak out and be a little bit more easily adaptable? So I , I, that’s a big thing. It’s almost like this paradox of I know that routine works. I counsel everyone that I write to and everyone that I coached to develop good routines. And yet, once the routine is blown up, then it’s blown up and that’s okay. Um, and how do I hold both those things at once? That’s an ongoing challenge for me. I could go on and on and on. Um, nutrition, I do a pretty good job with, part of that is I think that I , I tend to eat pretty boring throughout the day and then dinner is more fun. So I’m big on smoothies and like just throwing spinach and kale and like a good plant based protein powder in there and berries. So I do a pretty good job of making sure I’m getting good nutrients. Um, but it’s pretty automatic. Like I’ll have the same study every day. I’ll have the same bowl of oatmeal every day and then, and then dinner is , is more fun and there’s cooking involved and all that. Um, and again, it’s like you can cut all, there’s no right way, cause someone could say, Oh, like you should be cooking all your meals and eating whole foods and not grinding them in a smoothie. And that’s a valid argument. But , um, for me kind of autumn , automating what I eat helps me make good choices , uh , throughout the day. And that exercise is something that I’ve been pretty good about. I’ve grown up an athlete and if I don’t exercise, I just don’t function well. Yeah. So it’s, you know, I , I say that exercise is part of my job, but I like what you said, it’s not you, like it’s really part of me. So that’s been, that’s been something that , um, that’s been good. I guess a challenge there is I’m 32 now, so depending on who’s listening, I’m, I’m either really young or I’m a little bit older, but for me, I’m a little bit older and I can’t do the same things that I did when I was 25 and I can’t recover as fast. So being okay with shifting from exercising for performance to exercising for health and wellness, I’m pretty proud of myself because I think I’m doing a good job. But every once in a while , like the idea of, Oh, I’m going to go for an hour walk today and that’s going to be my quote unquote workout. Sometimes that’s still kind rubs up against me the wrong way, but I’m becoming more and more at peace with that.
Brad Cooper: 41:36
We could have a very long conversation on that one. Yeah. I love everything you’re saying. Like the , the way you summarize that in the consuming versus creating like that is so memorable. That’s, I don’t know if that’s one of the bullet points in your book, but I mean you just, you hear that and you go, Oh yeah, I get that. Or measuring versus doing. We all do that and it’s succinct when you share that, so I love that, that the smoothie and the lunch stuff, I’m a carbon copy of their , I like to call it purposeful automation. It’s just taking the things that are a given, Hey, start off with a smoothie, have a salad with a protein source at lunch, and then if dinner’s a little bit off, you’re okay. Totally good . Yeah .
Brad Stulberg: 42:18
Yeah. You know, I, I’m glad that you , you mentioned that the consume create and the , the do instead of measure, analyze , um, that, that those are, those are prevalent themes in , in the passion paradox and it’s worth calling out because what often happens is that people start doing something because they love the thing itself. And then over time as they start to get good results, their love of the thing becomes a love of those good results, the dopamine, right? And that’s really, really hard to resist. Um, and it can be hard to manage. Uh , so it’s this notion of, right, it’s an ongoing practice. I am a quote unquote expert in these things. I write about these things and on a good day I probably shoot 70% and that’s okay because this isn’t a one time thing. It’s a practice. And believe you me like having a book out in the world right now, I’m probably shooting 50% I’m checking the sales rank, I’m checking Twitter, but I’m not checking it as often as I was last year or two years ago. So, so that’s this notion of thinking about performance and development is an ongoing practice I think is really liberating because you don’t judge yourself as much back to that, that self-compassion theme. And at the same time like you can constantly wake up and improve at any given moment. And that’s really powerful.
Brad Cooper: 43:35
I love it. Brad, you’ve been so generous with your time. Last question , uh , just kind of lay to throw anything in you’d like at the end here. Any words of wisdom you think about either current health and wellness coaches or those who are on the fence thinking, Oh yeah, I think I’d like to do this someday. Any tips you want to give them as kind of a going away present here?
Brad Stulberg: 43:54
So I think that it being involved in the health and wellness industry, whether you’re writing, whether you’re coaching, whether you’re speaking, whether you’re running workshops, it’s a wonderful thing. You know, as I mentioned, having a, having a purpose behind what you do, that that is meaningful and some sort of greater cause is a really powerful, a powerful fuel. And I think that helping people work on their health and wellness is one of the few areas in the modern world where you can kind of unequivocally say I’m doing something that is good and I’m helping someone and that feels really good. So I think it’s a , it’s a super worthwhile career. I’ve pursued it and it’s been wonderful to me. Be patient, especially if you’re new, like, like you were saying earlier, Brad, it takes time to develop practice. It takes time to develop a skill sets and right when you think you’ve developed it, you probably realize that you haven’t and that’s okay. And I guess the , the , the last thing I’ll say that piggybacks off of that is a switch that I’ve made and I sound like a broken record because I’ve said it about passion 10 times, but just thinking of more and more things in my life as a practice, thinking of parenting as a practice, thinking of my writing as a practice because of practice means that every day is going to be a little bit different. But you keep showing up and you kind of have a North star. But the North star is less important than the showing up and being present for what’s there and working on what needs to be worked on. And I think that for me it’s been really helpful for things that are important to me to just put that mindset around them. This is a practice and I think that that’s true for , for a coach. If you’re deep in your career or if you’re building your practice , um, you know, I say practice cause like that’s what it is. It’s a coaching practice. Fantastic. Brad, thank you so much. I’m looking forward to get my hands on this book and Karen into it. Like I did your first one. I think I’d read your first one in about two days. So keep up the good work and we’ll , we’ll keep people updated on what you’re up to. Okay. Thank you so much Brad and for all the good work that you and your coaches do. Thanks so much.
Brad Cooper: 46:00
I have a sneaking suspicion you’ve all ordered his books already , haven’t you? Again, the title’s peak performance is the one I’ve got sitting here on my desk in . The one that came out this week is the passion paradox, a guide to going all in finding success and discovering the benefits of an unbalanced life. I was the keynote speaker at a conference last week and the point I tried to emphasize with the audience was this idea of our best self, which gets bantered about quite a bit and in the popular press and even in coaching begins with our better self is see when we’re focused on becoming our best self, it can often feel out of reach. It’s something that just for our clients, for ourselves, it’s just so far out there. It’s like why even try? I’ll never be my best self but my better self. Yeah, I can do that and I like how Brad rot that concept in as he talked about flow. No , he didn’t call it flow, but he does in his book. It’s the , the research around the just manageable challenge that you talked about or the next logical step. Keep those phrases in mind as a coach. Those can be phrases that you can pull out of your pocket and mentioned to your clients and help them really start to move into that better on the way to best, but to get that ball rolling into better. Really appreciate Brad join us today. Fantastic job. A couple of announcements. We do have a wellness coach certification, fast track coming up in Colorado. There is always a distance learning option available, but one of the interesting things we’re starting to see is a lot of folks are reaching out to us and saying, could you bring the fast track to us? We’ve got a bunch of employees that we want to have trained or we’ve got, you know , several people here in town in our city that would like to go through the certification and they want to do the national board certification. That’s the fast track is the one that’s part of that. So could you come to us and sometimes it makes sense. So feel free to reach out to us [email protected] you can check out the details on the upcoming certification. Obviously at the same website, catalyst coaching institute.com in terms of the podcast. Thanks I, I’m not the tech guy. I don’t understand how the algorithms work and all that, but I’m told that every time you give it a high rating, every time you subscribe, every time you make a comment in there about something that you loved in there that that drives it up in some way, so thanks to those of you who’ve taken that extra step, really appreciate it. If there are topics you’d like us to cover, we’re trying to keep the whole gamut. We’ve had a great run of interviews lately, but if there are things that you’d like to have us address, please continue to send those to us. Again, the email is [email protected] we’re also here anytime if you’re not ready for the certification, but you just want to talk about what is this thing all about? How does this whole thing work? Just got some questions about something that we’ve gone through. Feel free. That’s what we’re here for, why we do what we do. Until next time. Let’s keep on working towards that better than yesterday, not just for ourselves, not just for our clients, not just for our families, but our communities to really need that right now. Make it a great day and I’ll look forward to speaking with you soon. On the next episode of the catalyst health and wellness coaching podcast.