On this episode of THRIVE — sponsored by Workamajig — Kelly and Tina Greenbaum, author of Mastery Under Pressure, uncover why fear is our greatest teacher. For creative leaders, in particular, share tools to initiate relaxation and to increase the probability of desired outcomes.
Ep 88: Getting Under the Conscious Mind
Kelly: So this week's episode of Thrive is all about getting under the conscious mind. Tina Greenbaum is my guest. She's an executive coach with a clinical background for 37 years and author of Mastery Under Pressure. All that stands between you and your goals, is you. One of our mutual colleagues introduced us and I'm thrilled that he did. Tina, welcome to the show. It's so good to see you again.
Tina: Thank you so much. Thanks for having me.
Kelly: So in Mastery Under Pressure, you talk about this concept of how to use fear as a teacher so that we can overcome it and reach our goals. Can you talk a little bit about that, because that was really interesting to me.
Tina: Sure. But there's a wonderful great sayings of couple of them that I use all the time is the only way past it is through it. So what our general tendency is to, when we get scared about something, we don't want to look at it, we get scared, and we turn the other way. And the tendency is to avoid. And so when we do that, we miss the opportunity to like find out like, what is my body? What is my mind? What is my intuition telling me? And so I always kind of think of it as like, if you don't look at it, then you're putting on blindfolds, and then you're trying to figure out like, where do I go from here?
Tina: So another wonderful thing that I love about it is the only thing that gets smaller as it gets closer.
Tina: So when it's very far away, and we're avoiding it, it's really, really, really big. But if we start to look “Oh, yeah, I understand that”, “Yeah, that would make sense. That's why I'm scared about that”, or “this is what I need to do about it”.
Kelly: Right. Right. Oh, that's so interesting. I really, really like that. It's kind of it reminds me of the rearview mirror like Jackson's.
Tina: Yes. Absolutely. So your body gives you all kinds of wonderful information. We don't want to miss it.
Kelly: Yeah. So kind of transitioning to taking that fear and having it teach us something. There are all different ways in which we can really have that be actionable. Right? So given our current economic, political, racial, environmental climate.
Kelly: You have a lot of things that are vying for our attention and a lot of things that are keeping us in fear. How can initiating what you call the relaxation response help agency leaders to navigate all of this and to really kind of tolerate the unknown as we move forward.
Tina: Right. And that's a great way of tolerating the unknown, and tolerating the uncertainty. So we have a nervous system. And when we're in high alert, it's the sympathetic nervous system that is activated. And most many people just even before COVID hit are in a chronic state of stress.
Tina: Kind of deadlines and all kinds of things that are coming up. So when we're in that state, the stress hormones are coursing through our body, steroids and cortisol and getting us ready for that fight or flight response. And so when we're in that response, all the time, the body is tight, the muscles get tight, and it knocks down our immune system. And this is what actually makes us we set, settable to stress related illnesses. So through the breath, your breath is the only thing that we have, it's voluntary, that we can change that nervous system, from that sympathetic nervous system that's on high alert to what they call the parasympathetic nervous system where it's like, I got money in the bank, everything is fine, I got lots of time, might sound absurd right now. But the more that we can live in that nervous system, the quieter the body is, and then the calmer the mind. So when they talk about a body mind connection, or mind body connection, that's kind of what we're talking about, that these things are so interrelated. And if we want to be able to manage them, or control them in any possible way, we can do it through the breath. And it's something that you can practice. And many times people say, Well, I'm relaxed, I watch TV, or I do this or I run or I do exercise. Those are ways of relaxing, but it's nothing like that deep, deep, deep state of relaxation, where your brainwaves start to slow down, and your body slows down, your breathing slows down. And it's very restorative.
Kelly: Yeah. I have a little personal hack that I've come up with to a, to kind of forced myself to remember that that's an option, that that's always available to me.
Kelly: So parasympathetic. I just kind of created that as the acronym PS. So you know how when you're writing a letter, at the end, you might say PS, right? And it's something that causes you to pause before you finish the letter. And it's something that just, it's like a changing the environment or changing the fact that you're just like reading something and kind of on default, like in default mode.
Kelly: And then it kind of stops you for a second. So whenever I'm kind of feeling in, not unlike Oh, PS, right.
Tina: I love that.
Kelly: And it's just that tiny little thing.
Tina: But that little thing that you said, is so important, because it's the pause. We have a conditioned response, when we do things, we kind of like, I do this, and then I do that, and then I do that. And that's the way that neural pathway has developed. And these are habits, right? So in order to change a habit, we have to have some level of consciousness that are mindfulness, awareness of what's going on so that we can then create the pause, and then we can choose a different point, right?
Kelly: That's exactly what I say I say, PS, you have a choice.
Tina: I love it. Yeah, it's great.
Kelly: So there's another tool that you have that you talk about in the book, with regard to visualization, right? Which is especially relevant to creative leaders, you're very visual people. So how do you suggest creating powerful visualizations to increase the probability of realizing a desired outcome?
Tina: Okay, perfect. So it's the use of your senses. So you can visualize, you can picture something, let's just say you want to picture an outcome of a project that you're working on, and that your people are gonna love it, your clients gonna love it. And there's and, you're even imagining what is the presentation of the content of the event is going to be, so you bring in all your senses you bring in, in the room that you're in, right now, we're all on zoom. So we can still imagine how many, what the, what everything looks like, and the people look like, and what the how I want to feel and the feeling that I want to evoke, in the people that I'm working with. So it's, it's all your senses, I can taste it, I can feel it, I can see it, and you create this image. So I do this every time before I'm getting ready to do a talk or presentation or a speech or I imagine the room that I'm in, I think a lot about that the energy that I want to create. And I imagining, looking at you, I'm doing a podcast with you and imagining before I even get on, how I want to be, how I want to look, how I want to feel. So you get us all bring in all your senses. And you and you do it with great, great detail. And so when you do that, your brain already has gone through the experience.
Kelly: So it's not the first time when you do it.
Tina: Not the first time.
Kelly: Right, it's so interesting. And I would imagine that this is something that creatives can definitely latch on to because they're already used to creating things in their mind. And, when you start hearing a creative brief, or whatever it might be, your brain automatically starts going to like, Oh, I wonder what concepts could come up could arise for this brand identity or wonder what the website could look like or right, like all of these ideas come into your consciousness very naturally, right? So this is just a way to, to do that, in order to prepare you for the realization of these desired outcomes, whether it's a sales call, or some type of presentation, or whatever it might be, you can really use it for anything, right?
Tina: You can use it for anything, and you can use it. I have a lot of background in sports psychology. So I love sports. And I love athletics. And I like the emotion that's created around it. But there's also a lot of pressure. And so a lot of times like great teams will do a preparation and visualization. Let's imagine that we want to bust them or go into a game, and we get a flat tire. And so we go through that whole scenario, and what would that look like? And how will we deal with this? And then how would we deal with that so that when the actual event comes, you've already problem solved and brainstormed and imagined all the possibilities. So the unknown and this comes back to a lot of the stuff that we're dealing with right now. We have Plan B, we have Plan C, or we know that we can make it up. But we think ahead of time. And it's very powerful.
Kelly: Yeah. I think about that. Also in terms of like business development when you're doing a discovery call or reviewing a proposal with a prospective client. I think the visualization or and I don't even know if it's actually visualization or just preparedness but thinking about and listing out all of the questions that they might ask that might could potentially feel like out of left field, but writing all of those different things down and having your responses, I think that really prepares you for success because then you're not sort of waffling in a moment.
Tina: Right. And then if you even want to prepare more, you could actually rehearse it with somebody.
I'm a speaker. So a lot of times I think about it, speaking off the cuff is not the same as actual real preparation for it, and doing it over and over and over again and saying things out loud. And what if this happens? What if that happens? So these combinations of the preparation, how you talk to yourself, the visualizations, they put you in a really good place to be prepared.
Kelly: Yeah, yeah. Let's face it. Agency life looks very different than ever before. Remote and hybrid teams need better tools to help them communicate and access files, track their time, manage client budgets, and more. If you believe that it's time to streamline things once and for all, Workamajig is the all in one agency management platform, built to help you do just that. Head over to workamajig.com/thrive to learn more. Back to the show. Most of us, obviously, are all still working from home. And I think time management has definitely fallen a little bit by the wayside, because the lines are very blurred now.
Tina: Yes they are.
Kelly: So you talk a lot about Eisenhower's time management quadrants, and I'm wondering how that might be applicable to the agency leaders that are listening.
Tina: Yeah, so I heard people talk about this before, and I kind of like, do a little research and Eisenhower, this is the way he did it when he was a general and then probably the president. So this question says four quadrants one is important and urgent, and then is important, but not urgent, not important, and not urgent, and the fourth one is get it off the list. It doesn't belong in any one of those three quadrants.
Tina: Get it off the list.
Kelly: Not applicable.
Tina: Right. So I like to talk about a lot of the stuff that I do in terms of working with people's minds, and good mental health and stress management and all that. In many times in businesses, it was the way kind of the marketing that I would get was, it's important, but not urgent. We value how people think and how our employees feel, and all that kind of stuff, but we got it, we got other things that are more important. But in COVID, now, this is important and urgent, I don't know that companies can really not pay attention to this, how their employees and how they're feeling and how they're managing, all this time management stuff. So a lot of times in the morning, when I or the night before, when I kind of think about what's coming up for the next day. And I'm making my plans for how I'm going to prioritize what I can realistically accomplish in a day. And I use the word “realistically accomplish” because the list really never gets really, really, really done. But what is really important and urgent, and what are the values that you put on to put into that list. So in other words, if we're in business, it's been said to me, and I really kind of think it's true 80% of the day really needs to be focused on income producing activity. So I wouldn't necessarily kind of use this valuable time to do my bookkeeping, unless it was really important that it was my that was going to intimately create, connected to my income, or just, or use it, get it getting onto Facebook, or any of the social media. The statistics say that if you get if you go off for 30 seconds, you're likely to be there for half an hour and 30 minutes. So be again, this comes back to being conscious about how am I using my time? Is this taking me if I've set out a goal for myself, is this matching up to that goal, or have I gotten distracted. And that's one of the other things I talk a lot about is focused, being in focus, knowing when I'm focused, and knowing when I'm out of focus, and then how to bring myself back, and really being disciplined with yourself, has a lot to do with your time management.
Kelly: I'm wondering if because so many people sort of default to lists like list making. I know, I definitely did when I owned my agency, I had to get it out of my mind. So that it was on paper, right? I'm wondering if like one of the methods for using these quadrants or taking that list, which that you're probably until you train yourself out of making the list, write the list and then next to it on the same page, you create the quadrant and then you add the things from the list to those quadrants is that sort of how you're sort of.
Tina: That’s sort of what I do. You're one of the other things that I'll do is I'll look at the list and then I'll number them.
Tina: So I might have, five or six things on and this is one, this is two this way down here. And so it puts order. So I think one of the things that's really important in this period is that we do best when we're grounded. When our mind is not scattered and all over the place. And it's the easiest place to be right now. Because there's, as you mentioned, in addition to all the social things that are happening in terms of, and then what's happening in people's homes, and you're not used to working from home and being disciplined, and then you've got kids and all kinds of things. So it's really about grounding yourself, what do you need to do? You and I were just talking just before we came on in terms of, I have a wonderful meditation group that every morning at 7:15, which really grounds me, and because I'm in this group, and I'm actually paying for it, but that's so secondary, but I'm in this group. And so there's an accountability, there's a commitment to myself, somewhat to the group, and whether they would really notice whether I was there or not, but it gives me order, it gives me structure. And so when we come to the level of uncertainty that we're living in, it's really about what's in my control, lets me control. This is one of the central themes that I think about every day, as soon as I start to feel anxious. The second I feel anxious, okay, what's in my control? What's out of my control?
Kelly: Right. Right. That's a good way to put it. And I really, really resonate with the idea of commitment to self. I love that I talked about that also, because, for me, it comes down to trust, right? Like, if trust is so important in all of our relationships, how can you expect someone else to trust you if you don't inherently trust yourself and making these small commitments like going to this meditation practice every day? That's a commitment to self. Right?
Tina: That's right.
Kelly: So along those lines, you like to leave leaders with a simple question that actually helps them to explore things for themselves. And the question is, do you believe that the skills and the knowledge that you got that got you to where you are now are going to be enough to get you where you want to go? And I think that's a really beautiful question. And I think, the introspective nature of it really allows people to be conscious of like, am I defaulting? or am I growing? Right? I'm just curious, what are some of the conversations or some of the things that have come out of that question that you've asked to others?
Tina: It's interesting, I just had a conversation with a colleague, a friend yesterday. And she said, I'm bored. I'm just like, really bored. I went to a conference actually was a live conferences, one of the few
Kelly: Oh, wow.
Tina: They also have the restaurant to go and to be there. And they were very conscious of how they were set up and so on. She said, but, it's the same people. And the speakers were great, but I've heard them all before. She said, is there something wrong with me, am I not challenging myself to grow or doing the introspective work that what's going on. And there's a really wonderful diagram that I learned a long time ago and I can just describe it if somebody.
Tina: But imagine that you're a dot. And everything that you have ever done in your life is all involved in this dot, your education and knowledge you have your life experience. But at some point, it gets a little kind of, boring, it gets a little tight. And we want to get outside of that dot. And so we start to venture outside. But oh, my goodness, this has no shape, this has no form that I think I'm going to go back, it's a lot safer to be a dot. And so we go back in here, and then we get, again, we're bored, and then we venture out. But if we allow ourselves to continue to venture out, we have no idea where we're going. We have no idea what it's looking like. But we're sort of following that intuition. At some point, we become a triangle. Right? So we've got the dot and our triangle, we have all this space to discover all these new things. So it's a process of discover, explore and mature. And so now I'm in this triangle, I know every nook and cranny of it. I'm so bored. And then we start to venture out again.
Tina: And so this is a wonderful way to think about the process of growth of where am I today? On this scale? Right? So my friend was she had, she was at the edge, and she was done. She was ready for something new. And didn't really realize it. And so we just started talking about, other possibilities of things where she could take her business and take herself, and new groups and new energy, and then we get vitalized. Revitalize.
Tina: And so that's where people who are really growth [20:33], and many people will stay in that dot forever.
Kelly: Yeah. Yeah, it's so interesting. I really love that analogy so much. Because I think of the dot as the more that is encompassed and not comprised, and not the tighter it feels, because everything is keeping you small.
Tina: That's right.
Kelly: And so I like the idea of changing the shape, there's something nice about that. Changing it from the triangle, and then I would imagine, as you're going out, you probably creating a square, and then ultimately, you probably get back to a circle again, but the circle is so much bigger. It's like 25 times bigger. Yeah, that's a really, really interesting analogy.
Tina: And what I said to her, I've been doing this for a very long time, and my clients don't bore me, I get bored with me, sometimes, if I'm repeating same thing, and using the same time techniques, and some, so when I get to that place, when I get bored with me, and it's time for me to grow, you needed to learn something new.
Kelly: And that's where the self-awareness comes, right? I'm being conscious of it. Well, so good. Oh, I love this conversation. Tina, thank you so much for joining me today. I really appreciate it. And I will put show notes in the show notes. I will put links to your website and to the book on Amazon as well.
Tina: Thank you so much. And there's also a quiz that people can take,
Kelly: Okay, great.
Tina: And I'll get to that too. And they can see where they are on all these different things that we've talked about today.
Kelly: Fantastic. Thank you so much again.