Transformation and dealing with change isn’t easy. Resiliency is the key to thriving past changes in the world. Adam Markel and Dr. Paul Scheele, PhD, sit down for a discussion on change and how people deal with it. Paul talks about confronting pressure, the survivor personality and why perfection is a waste of energy. Listen, learn and gain inspiration from Paul and his insights on the power of the human heart.
03:58 Redefining Resilience
00:24:16 Confronting Pressure
00:29:25 Resilience And The Survivor Personality
00:39:35 A Human Development Model
00:45:45 Human Suffering And Tragedy
00:49:14 Dynamic Steering
00:53:22 Fear Mechanisms And Depletion
00:54:31 The Concept Of Rituals
01:03:29 Striving For Beauty And Grace
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Change, Resiliency And The Power Of The Human Heart With Dr. Paul Scheele
I am feeling grounded and wonderfully blessed to be here breathing, alive, and to have people in my life that I feel have my best interests at heart. I know we are constantly in our business, looking at how we give to others, and that’s a wonderful thing. I don’t know that there’s anything more wonderful than that.
I will also call it out that in my own personal experience and what I have seen with other people too, it’s important that we learn how to receive and I’m working on my receiving muscle. I’m constantly trying to find ways to be more open to receiving, and not constantly in that giving mode but also being able to serve for more of a full cup because I’m allowing others and other things to fill me up.
You may feel that same way yourself that perhaps you have been a little more tipped on the scale of giving, and maybe that leaves you depleted at times. We are going to talk about depletion and how it’s quite counterintuitive. When we think about the wonderful work we want to do in the world, the people we want to serve, the success and financial success that we want to create for ourselves, the conflict and difficulty there is in creating and maintaining our business pursuits when we are exhausted. There’s a cost of exhaustion.
We are going to talk about that with a wonderful friend. I love it when I meet new people but I also love it when I get to revisit with old friends, not because we are old but we have known each other for a couple of years. I’m going to read a bit of his bio and then invite him in. You will enjoy this gentleman. I don’t use that term all that frequently. He is a gentleman. I haven’t met that many people, I would say, that it is the essence of them but this gentleman fits that bill.
Dr. Paul Scheele is the Cofounder of Learning Strategies. He combines expertise in neurosciences, business psychology and learning to guide people to achieve extraordinary results in relationships, work, money and health. He is an expert on learning how to tap the other 90% of the brain and believes that everyone has an ingenious waiting to be awakened. He is the author of many books and personal learning courses. His passion is reclaiming the genius capacity within humanity. It’s great to have you with us, Dr. Scheele. It’s great to have you on the show. Thanks for being here.
Thanks, Adam. What a treat to be with you as well and to speak with your beautiful readers. Thanks very much for the invitation.
I would love to know if there is something that is not part of that bio. I know you are a very accomplished public speaker. You have been introduced many times. You have probably heard that bio many times. What is something that is not written in that introduction that you would love for people to know about you at the outset?
As a practitioner and scholar in the field of human development for many years, I have to say that when I met the woman who was going to be my wife, I realized if we were going to have a successful relationship, it was going to be a personal development experience. We are celebrating our 44th wedding anniversary in 2022. We raised 3 children and got 3 grandkids that are with us. It’s such a wonderful thing to realize that through all the ups and downs, and the vicissitudes of life, we have been able to find a way forward together. That is a beautiful thing. It’s a pleasure and an honor to be able to share that.
You have a resilient run with your wife and I assume, with your health as well because you look great. My wife, Randi, and I will celebrate our 32nd wedding anniversary this summer of 2022 and have four healthy kids. The relationships are not easy. I didn’t know that we would start here but I’m happy that we can start with these breadcrumbs. Relationships are challenging.
There’s another component to that with all that has happened in the pandemic. I heard people say, “I married you for better or for worse but not for lunch every day. I was happy when you were leaving going to the office.” My wife and I feel differently about that. I have an office downstairs of our home and an office about 12 miles away as well. It’s always a delight to be a part of this home setting and be able to do my work internationally from here.
A friend of mine wrote a song. He says, “It ain’t been all roses. We thank that love chose us but it ain’t been all roses.” With all the changes that happen in life, I discovered that on our 30th wedding anniversary, we had lived eight marriages. We had to redefine our marriage eight different times. The key to the work that you do around pivoting, as well as resilience is this idea that you can’t keep doing the same old and keep experiencing the same results because the world changes around you.
We have to be able to have situational leadership and the joy that I had in writing my Doctoral dissertation. When I turned 50 years old, my scholarship brought me to leadership and change. My focus is on transformational change. How we lead our own lives and organizations became the center point of my work. That concept of transformation is to transform a relationship, to transform isn’t just change.
A lot of times, the word transformation is used as if it’s changed but cool change. Transformation is a meltdown. You don’t get to go back after a transformation. This idea is that if we are going to transform and do successfully, which is what the human family is going through a major transformation, we realize that we can’t continue with the unsustainable practices of the past.
We have to find a way forward at the moment where a disorienting dilemma has slapped us good. It has stopped us in our tracks. We look around and say, “We can’t keep doing what we have been doing.” It’s not going to work. How do we go forward? We don’t know where to go. Do we go back? No, you can’t. How do we go forward? We don’t know.
That disorienting dilemma, Adam, is the starting point of transformation. The things that you said at the beginning was the word you may have been searching for. That moment where the world is disorienting to you, the stability is gone, where do we turn now? That’s the good news because right there is the place where we habitually give away our power rather than reclaim the moment as a transformational opportunity.You can't just keep doing the same old, same old and keep experiencing the same results, because the world changes around you. Click To Tweet
That word implies for me when people use that term transformational, and you are using it in a particular context. We are a part of an organization called the Transformational Leadership Council in corporate circles, which I spent a lot of time in those circles leading workshops and working with leaders. That word has been thrown around a lot, and it has been, at least from my experience, a bit diluted. I try to use it sparingly but when I do use it, as you did, I want to define it in terms that make it accessible and it does.
Also, not to perpetuate the misnomer, a transformation has to be something big because it’s quite the opposite. In fact, let’s go back to the marriage thing. I would say that our marriage, Randi and I, transformed itself multiple times but it didn’t do that because we decided one day, “Let’s create a transformation.” It’s like, “I can’t stand looking at you now but tomorrow I want to be madly in love like we just met it.” It doesn’t work like that.
In fact, it’s a bit counterintuitive. It’s this baby step or these tiny incremental improvements. It’s more the aggregation of many tiny adjustments. Sometimes adjustments that are positive, and sometimes they are the proverbial, take a step back to take two forward, kind of thing. It’s these small changes that when you mush them together. All the time, things have changed and you go, “Holy smokes.”
The scholarship in transformation is quite interesting. If you look at a deeper definition from the standpoint of Cognitive Psychology, transformation is a change in meaning-making. It’s peering over the wall and seeing a reality that’s existed this whole time but you are living inside of the palace wall and your reality has been bliss, peace and gentleness. You look over the wall, and there are pestilence, disease, and horror out there.
Was it not there all along?
It was there the whole time but now you can’t unsee it. If you think about transformation in three stages, as we are raised by the culture that raises us, our family system, education system, culture, and religion, what happens is we are given wholesale a mental model. It’s a way of seeing the world. In essence, it’s a lens.
We don’t realize we are holding the lens. All we do is look through it but at some point in our lives, we realize that, “There is a lot more to this world than the lens that has been handed to me. Suddenly, we are looking at the lens and realizing we can change this lens. We move from the socialized mind to the self-authoring mind. A lot of times, when we look at our work, we are helping people become better at self-authoring.
I kept getting attracted to a certain set of self-authoring tools. I have been in the human development and self-improvement business for many years but there is a certain type of tool that I kept being attracted to. We could call it generative as opposed to remedial. In the process of fixing yourself, you become more capable of fixing this and other things like it for the rest of your life.
It’s the difference between learning Math and learning how to learn Math. If you learn how to learn it, you get to develop your Math skills all the rest of your life. If you learn Math and hate it, you are stuck for the rest of your life. The idea is once we are self-authoring, the next level up in terms of transformational moments, the change in meaning-making is when we become self-transforming.
This is the work that’s being required of us. Back in the ‘70s, when self-development and self-improvement became fashionable, all of a sudden, everybody was into it. They are all doing meditation and yoga. Everybody was doing all this great stuff. There’s this next level shift, which is interdependence with others rather than a dependence on your guru, technique or whatever it might be. We become self-transforming.
In the studies that have been done in organizations, 2% of leaders are operating at that level of the self-transforming mind. Most of us are still valuing expertise, authority, and the ability to bring about change. It’s the edict coming from on high that says, “Everybody, we are going to have a transformation this quarter.” You are saying, “I don’t think so.”
This is Biblical, Paul. Typically, I would go back 3,000 years to look for an example of this but one of the central tenets of the New Testament of Jesus’ teaching is all about those answers come from within. You don’t have to look outside of yourself to find an answer that’s within you. What you are saying is that self-authorship and self-transformation are, in leadership, looking at, “Where am I able to find within myself a form of guidance and truth.”
What you were saying also reminded me of Wayne Dyer. This is a beautiful language, whether one day Wayne was walking and this came to him or it’s the result of a lot of other things that he was learning at the time. When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at, change. This is, in essence, what we are talking about.
When you are looking at the world, one of the things you could do is say, “My eyes are seeing this.” In the ancient traditions, they say, “Consider the consciousness for whom the eyes are seeing this.” When we recognize that we are the seer, and more than that, we have an opportunity to take charge of how things go from that point in our lives.Once we are self-authoring, the next level up in terms of transformational moments, change and meaning-making is when we become self-transforming. Click To Tweet
The concept that you talked about is tiny little shifts aggregating into a moment of transformation. I did a research methodology, which studied the critical incident of transformation. I was interested. When someone said, “I was transformed and changed by that. That moment in my life transformed me.” I wanted to know, what does that mean?
I did a study that included the subjective report as well as objective measures. What happened was I knew there would be a bunch of things that prepared a person for it. There would be this moment, and there would be the resulting changes of the transformation that occurred. What my research showed me is no, that’s not it. The moment isn’t the thing that transforms us, which surprised me. I thought, “People are going to go through this experience.” They are going to say, “It was when that happened and that transfer.” No, it wasn’t it.
There is no epiphany. This is the anti-epiphany.
The epiphany is part of it. A person could have the epiphany, regress back and say, “I didn’t see that. I’m going to keep living as if I don’t know that this is going on.” The transformation doesn’t occur. The epiphany moment or the big reveal that occurs, is significant but what it causes is a deeper inward reflection of, what now? “Now that I know I can’t unsee this and I can’t go back, how am I going to address this?”
We talk about affect learning. The challenging of the mental model, all of my habits of expectation, the things I presupposed to be true, the beliefs and ways in which they all come under the microscope. It’s challenging work that must occur for the transformation. Think about the caterpillar going into that cocoon and the meltdown.
You and I had never talked about this before but do you have a person in your life that was either around when you were learning from that individual? In my case, Emmet Fox died in the ‘50s and has been my own personal spiritual metaphysical mentor since I discovered him as a footnote and a much bigger book some years ago.
Is there somebody that has been like that for you? With Emmet, I read something of his work every day, and no coincidence at all, it was this age-old story of the caterpillar turning into the butterfly. What was wonderful in that passage, which I have read that same page every year on that same day was this divine discontent that stirs up inside as he is describing this caterpillar on that same old green leaf, and then all of a sudden, that same old green leaf isn’t what it was.
We are spot onto it. It’s this idea that there is pressure. When you have to eat, there is a pressure of hunger. When you have to go to the bathroom or a woman is ready to give birth, there is pressure. Although we don’t want to face that moment, the truth is that pressure is the signal. If we are feeling a lot of societal pressures, economic pressures, global malcontent, these are all signals of the environment becoming recognized as no longer sustainable. It’s no longer acceptable to keep doing what we have always done and think we are going to get away with it. It’s a, “Necessary revolution,” as Peter Senge put it.
I want to ask you that question. Was there somebody that has been that for you?
Yes, Arnold Patent. He was a New York lawyer who got into Universal Principles. I met him in 1980 when he came to the Twin Cities and years later had the opportunity to study with him. He personally mentored me for a year and a half. That became the basis of my work called Abundance For Life.
He wrote a book called You Can Have It All. Simon & Schuster picked it up. He was on Oprah Winfrey. He wrote several other books that are also significant. He was a metaphysician like Emmet Fox was. He is a beautiful coach to me. He is very patient because as intelligent and knowledgeable as I was, it was getting in the way of the real changes that I had to go through. It has been a blessing.
The word pressure was the word I was searching for. At the very beginning, that was the word that was alluding to me. Paul, thank you so much for making that clear. That pressure is the signal is what I heard you say. We often live our lives ignoring many of those signals for a long time. Part of my own pivot story is being in the law for several years and ignoring for many of those years the signals and signs. I will put it out there to everybody that’s reading.
What are the signals for you now? It’s important that we have that level of self-awareness because, without it, we are going blindly through our days. In this case, I don’t think ignorance is bliss. It’s a blind spot, is what it is. In an organization, it certainly is dangerous territory to be leading any group of people, even yourself, blindly, but the pressure is the signal.
There were signals for me that I wasn’t sleeping well. There were signals when my hair started to recede. There were signals when I was agitated in the middle of the afternoon, and I needed coffee or sugar before I would tear somebody’s head off. I was a litigation attorney. Frankly, I was paid well to put my anger to work. It was an ironic twist of it that I was succeeding in every way that was traditionally measured but I was coming home miserable inside. The facade was to pretend I was happy because I wanted to be but it wasn’t.
There’s an interesting part of that story that I don’t frequently share but you triggered it, which is when I started to become more aware and read some things. My first book was The Road Less Traveled by Dr. Scott Peck. That book is to use your words, was a new lens for me. I was now making meaning in a different way as a result of that book but I didn’t know what to do with that.We have 8 billion people living in our backyard, and to act like we aren't connected somehow is a serious mistake. Click To Tweet
I was back in my law practice like that caterpillar on the leaf. I had this discontent, pressure and I didn’t know what to do with it. Even as you said, “It’s not a transformational moment. “This is what I’m supposed to do, and I’ll quit the law.” It was more of a backing and filling experience. That was the process with this book.
Pivot is about how it is that you do back and fill with deliberation, some hopefully level of consciousness but that’s the process for all of us. Isn’t that what the pandemic has stirred up at such a deep level, do you think, Paul, that people have been now forced to confront themselves and the pressure?
One of the things that I often said at the beginning of the pandemic is we live as one human family on one tiny spaceship Earth. If somebody eating bad bat meat in Wuhan isn’t affecting your life, you haven’t awoken to realize that everything that everyone does matters. We have eight billion people living in our backyard and behind your house, right here. To act like we aren’t connected somehow is a serious mistake. With that, if there was a wake-up call, the human family has got to figure out how to live with each other.
When economies go down, and the global infrastructure is taxed to the max because of a virus, which is one of a zillion potential viruses. This is the tsunami de jour. It’s not the last thing we are going to see. There’s an epidemiologist who’s often quoted, Osterholm, here at the University of Minnesota who wrote the book years ago and talked about a wet market in China that was going to be the site of the beginning of the next pandemic. Millions of people died from this. He says, “This isn’t the big one.” Not to be the bearer of bad news but they have been calling him Dr. Doom for years.
As soon as the tsunami de jour happened with the pandemic, we had the murder of George Floyd. All of a sudden, Minneapolis is on fire, which is my hometown. He was killed across the street from a home where my wife and I raised our first child. It was in the park where we walked him and our dog. It was kitty-corner in that park.
How close does it have to be before we realize we have to figure out how to work with each other? This is what Emerson said from the American Transcendentalist movement. He said, “We couldn’t have a goal unless we already had within us the ability to realize it.” When we get this goal landed on us, and we realize as you did in your work, “How am I going to do this?” You don’t have to know how? Yet, you need to know what it is.
To love your life after being so miserable and hating your life, that’s a strong word. The idea that you could turn it around to look forward to every single moment of every single day with absolute gratitude, with a heart wide open, that’s a level of resilience that I think is key. I was informed of this whole idea of resilience by a man named Dr. Al Siebert, who wrote a book called The Survivor Personality. It first came out as an article in the Portland Oregonian magazine. I called my brother, who lived in Oregon. I said, “Can you find me an original of this article?” I quote it all the time. I would love to have it.
He called the newspaper. It was the Sunday Supplement Magazine. He couldn’t get an original and tried to do the microfilm back then. It looked horrible. His wife said, “I have that.” She opened up a cabinet and pulled out the Sunday Supplement Magazine with The Survivor Personality in it. It rocked my world, Adam.
To understand the mechanics of not only we survive a disruptive, disorienting, and catastrophic event in our lives but how we come out stronger for it was the central thesis of his work. He had spent 35 years as a psychologist. He had been helping people with mental health issues and understood mental illness but he said, “There was never a definition of mental wellness. Where we are going? What is mentally well?” What he discovered is the survivor personality is the closest thing he could describe to someone who could meet adversity and come out stronger as a result of it.
That ability to bounce forward. You and I were chatting about that before, and that reminds me of Viktor Frankl.
Dr. Siebert said that was the best link that he could find, and he knew Viktor Frankl. He also knew Hans Selye, who did the work on stress and made the concept of stress popular. Al Siebert said something that was quite interesting, which is quoted in the Hans Study Program that we did together.
At the end of his life, Hans Selye said, “I’m sorry, I’ve got it wrong. Stress is a term in physics, which indicates something that’s bending under pressure.” What he meant to say is strain. When human beings strain against something, it’s designed to help make a stronger. I want to frame your concept of pressure, which we were talking about earlier, and our straining against it as being an important part of the work of our transformation, where we strain, and we recover. That’s what weightlifting and running are about. We are straining the body systems and recovering so that it becomes stronger to deal with strains like this and then some.
Resilience is about how we recover, not how we endure. There’s a body of research that we are often talking about. You look at athletes who are a great example of that. Somebody running an Olympic race or I was a swimmer, you have an Olympic meet that’s happening, and you are going to swim at a particular event, you wouldn’t be swimming or straining yourself at that level.
The day before, the morning before, you strain and recover. You rest and build that recovery in and yet when it comes to our work, and in so many other aspects of our lives, even though that’s the common sense that we get when we look at sports as an example of it, in our own personal lives, we are constantly straining and overtraining.
If you run your car on empty, and I sometimes will tell this cute little story. It’s a good story because when Randi and I first met, we had this first car. It was a Honda. It could run forever on E. I didn’t have any money. I was in college. Running on E was my first experience with miracles but at a certain point on the way to a family event, I pushed it too far. I ended up on the side of the road, having to walk a couple of miles to pay stupid money for a container of gas.
We run ourselves on empty a lot. In fact, in the corporate world, it’s cultural. You have done a lot of work with organizations. Have you found as well that corporations are driving people to the point of exhaustion? There’s this tremendous cost they don’t acknowledge because they feel like real achievers. Successful people always know how to grind through it. Grinding it out, working, getting the night or whatever it takes to get the job done is what they value versus how you build resilient individuals, and then ultimately resilient organizations as a result.
There’s a mindset, Adam, that we see human resources as humans are resources rather than humans have resources. Our job is to help gain access to more of the resources within each of the individuals that work with us. We want to help open them to share the real depth of skills, brilliance, and capability that are within.
If we take a holistic view of that individual’s life, we know that they need rest, nourishment, and be able to recover. If they don’t, we keep cutting our budgets and demanding more from people. We are going to have to let go of half your department but you still have to get everything done that you need to be done.
You meet all the same KPIs but do it with half the budget.When we can live congruently and we have an open mind, open heart and open will, there's no limit to what we can do. Click To Tweet
There is a breaking point and sweet spot in organizations that get this that we need to recognize and reward but we also need to care for. That means that as leaders, we can’t be on the stallions and charging forward. We can’t be behind people as servant leaders guiding them along but we need to find a midway point where sometimes we are moving forward.
Sometimes we are stepping back in our roles to host a successful organization. The leader as a host that cares for the connections that are occurring in the complex adaptive nature of our organizations now means that we have to be able to help people communicate and give them the resources that they need to get their jobs done.
You think about the best form of leadership as a parent, and not everybody is a parent. We have been blessed to have healthy kids. They are all doing great things and independent thinking and all that. As a parent, their health is the most important thing. What we have done with our kids is modeled some level of healthy practice, concern, and awareness about our own personal health.
Our kids are concerned about the water they drink and the food they eat. Do they believe that their own intentions can alter that food? Do you think about your blessings, be grateful as chewing your food, chew your food slowly or you are constantly slinging it back and settling for the fastest, most convenient thing?
These are issues or questions of modeling. When you say host, I think model, the way a parent models for a child. Our kids, I don’t think they ever listened to too much of what we ever said but what they did always was to watch. They are looking at their parents as the model of not just what to do but, whether or not there is congruence between the words and the actions.
It’s the same thing in leadership. If you are leading a team and you are saying, “We’ve got to be resilient because that’s the word de jour. That’s the word on everybody’s lips nowadays.” You and I said before we started this episode. You are the first to in in the morning and the last to leave. You are not in shape yourself and eating the wrong things. You are overweight to a point where it’s could impact your health, etc. You are not giving other people permission to do even what you say they ought to do because you are not living it yourself. I know that’s tough to hear for some.
In the human development model that I created, there is a triangle that has to do with three types of congruences, the way in which we live congruently. There’s a congruence between our thinking and our feeling that is important. We are aligned internally. You could think of that as being our self-concept. What’s going on in our heads?
There is a congruence between who you are personally and socially. We think about leaders who are authentic and are able to show up authentically as they are. A disconnect there means that I can’t include all of who I am. I’m ashamed of who I am. I can’t reveal who I am. I’ve got to keep it private and secret from you. That disconnect doesn’t allow the true brilliance within me to shine. I’ve got to live congruently in terms of my relations.
The third type of congruence is the one that you mentioned, which is intention and behavior. I can have an espoused theory and a theory in use. I can espouse one thing. “This is my intention,” but then I behave completely differently. That behavioral incongruence is what gets modeled more often than not certainly with our kids because the first way that we learn is by modeling.
If you take congruence at each one of these levels, the one being your head thinking and feeling. The second being your heart, who you are personally and socially. The third one being your gut, intention and behavior. If you think about an open mind, heart, and will, these three things are what are essential.
Dr. Al Siebert’s work who wrote The Survivor Personality and The Resiliency Advantage had a concept. He said, “If you think about the brain, as it has developed the most ancient part, the reptilian part of the brain is that behavioral part. The midbrain is the heart and the neocortex is the head, the thinking mind. If we line those all three up, we could say self-concept, self-esteem, and self-confidence.” These three selves, as he likes to talk about them, have to do with our nervous system. We’ve got our cognition, thinking, feeling and behaving. We do have to work with all 3 of those to have all 3 of these selves working.
What I have noticed in my research is that when there’s a disconnect, it’s a brain circuit that disconnects. It’s usually a result of stress, overwhelm or fear of some kind. Instead of being able to participate, we’ve got to protect. The difference is I’ve got to move into a protection mode. We don’t even know that we are doing it. We just say, “I’m going to pass, I will hesitate, procrastinate, self-sabotage or whatever if I don’t acknowledge what it is that’s causing that disconnect. I don’t want the people to think badly of me.” It’s this particular energy that’s being incongruent in some way.
When we can live congruently, Adam, and we have an open mind, heart, and will, there’s no limit to what you can do. You are unstoppable. There’s nothing in the world outside of you that can harm you. This is where resilience during a pandemic. This is where clarity, leadership, and social unrest come in. This is where great leaders and moments in history occur is in difficult times.
To that end, I wanted to create a program with my company Learning Strategies, that would help people recognize that when you are able to live with an open mind, heart, and will, there are superpowers that are available to you. You may know this because of your work. It sounds like I have excluded the spiritual but I want you to understand that in the center of that triangle is that deeper source that is constantly radiating through you as you so that you can bring your gifts into the world. There’s a reason that we are here.
The evolutionary impulse that brought us here is asking us to play big, bring your gifts. Don’t look at the world and think that it’s got power, and you don’t. It’s the other way around. You are here to bring what you have as a part of the evolution that’s tempting to occur. This moment in human history, Adam, as you and I both know, is the one that we all signed on for.
Part of me is wanting to pre-frame this. I’m going to ask it instead. You don’t wish that the pandemic didn’t occur, do you, Paul?
If a divorce, catastrophic illness, loss of a child occurs, heaven forbid that any of these tragedies should occur, what I have noticed historically and it’s the same thing that Viktor Frankl in Man’s Search For Meaning said, “We wouldn’t wish this on anyone, and it was the thing that brought us to the work that we are here to do,” like a mother who lost her child to a drunk driver and started Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
The suffering is not something that we invite, wish, are insensitive to or somehow overlook in the process.We have to adapt and we have to get feedback, and the more rapidly we can do both of those, the more effective we are at steering, regardless of what's coming in today. Click To Tweet
The tragic nature of it is incalculable. If you look at any of the stories of anyone who suffered and died in the pandemic, you will know what a heartbreaking experience has it been for people on the front line.
The process of being able to see at a zoomed-out level. The difference between forests and trees. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. No one in the world should suffer the way people have suffered like losing their businesses, their jobs, and any number of other things, including loss of life. I have a friend who lost his father early on and couldn’t even attend his father’s funeral. He wasn’t there for him, with his last breath in the hospital. There are too many stories of that to count. There’s that lens.
You started our conversation by saying that we look at things through a particular lens. When we see it through that lens, it’s difficult, especially if it’s close to you, that is the lens that you are seeing the pandemic through. It’s nearly impossible with that lens alone to see anything other than, “This sucks,” to be in that and to grieve in that.
Not on its own, this a whole separate thing to discuss there but when you pull back that lens, and you can see more of it all, what you do see is that it’s a catalyst. You said, “The pressure is the signal.” There is more than a signal here, whether it was the pandemic itself or anything that occurred during it, including the death of George Floyd and everything that rippled out as a result of that. These are catalysts for growth.
The point that I wanted to get to is that resilience is about growth. Our book that will come out is called Change Proof. It’s not about not making yourself resistant to change. It’s that change is the nature of the universe. All growth, any improvement, what so of any kind is all about change. We are resistant to change if we are not embracing change. Even the changes that cause pain, we are working at cross purposes to the way nature.
When I refer to this idea of a tsunami coming in and hitting the human family, when the tsunami came to Thailand, suddenly all the water had receded, and people were out there picking up fish. All the indigenous, animals and birds went to the hills. There’s something that the modern human family doesn’t get. They have lost touch with what’s happening. There were kayakers out in the bay. The director of the kayaks said, “Don’t stop at this island. Keep going, go out into the middle of the bay, as fast and hard as you can.” The tsunami came in, rode over the top of it and down. If they stopped on the island, every one of them would have been killed.
This idea is that we have to get on our kayak and surfboards, the tsunami is coming. We can’t control the wave but we can control the board that we are standing on. We have to become more skilled at dynamically steering whatever craft we are to make sure that we are around to deliver our gifts the following day. This notion from agile software development, this concept of dynamic steering is we have to adapt and get feedback. The more rapidly we can do both of those, the more effective we are at steering regardless of what is coming in now into the global economy, marketplace or whatever it may be.
I want to ask you about a book. The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty is a book I introduced through our youngest daughter who’s at the University of California, San Diego. Dan Ariely is the author. There’s an interesting aspect of this book where it’s all research. He’s a Duke University Professor and Researcher. He studies the fact that people are predisposed to lying. That’s not something we need to talk about and it’s within a margin. We lie a little bit. We lie as much as we can and are able to without thinking we are liars. It doesn’t affect our self-image to fudge a little here or there.
What he was studying in addition to that was the fact that there are causes for poor decision-making. We have talked a lot about both people, individuals in their personal lives, as well as in organizations. Bad behavior, bad comment, bad decision-making, mistakes, outright lies or cheating, and things like that is something that’s impacted by what we have been speaking on.
If this book is not one that you have ever heard of, I suggest getting it because it’s fascinating. The research he was looking at suggested that when we are depleted, tired, hungry, not taken care of ourselves, we are many times more likely to lean into some of that other behavior, where we make poor decisions, not working from our prefrontal lobe.
Instead, it’s our amygdala and fear mechanisms that are guiding us. All that stuff that leads to the things that in an organization you go, “Why is there so much turnover here? Why is the toxicity? Why is it that people are fudging on or not giving their all? Why are they out sick or getting injured?” You go, “Why?”
The answer is to eradicate or at least ameliorate this depletion. I want to know from your standpoint, Paul, what do you do on a ritual basis to fill yourself up? Where you are at and having done this for several decades now? I have known you for several years. You are as energized and as enthusiastic. You are brimming with new ideas, creativity and you go, “Are you somehow different like biochemically than anybody else?” I don’t think so but you are not depleted.
I appreciate the concept of ritual. I do want to emphasize the word because ritual allows us to take a mundane experience and make it sacred. As a sacred act, as you described as taking nourishment into the body, what do we do? We pause, bless the food, and align energetically that this is here and food is our medicine. It’s going to heal, strengthen, nourish and give me the power to bring my gifts into the world and to make a difference that I’m here to make.
It’s a recognition of the sacred nature of all things. The more that we can PAUSE in our day, the word PAUSE, Practice Awareness Until Spirit Emerges. This PAUSE in the day at these things that we would mindlessly go ahead and do and say, “What is the best for all concern? How can I show up and bring my all to this moment?”
There are two great times to do this. It’s before we go to sleep and when we first wake up. It’s because the mind is more silent. The noise of the world is quieter. The signal-to-noise ratio is in favor of the signal. The information that we need to be able to run our lives efficiently. There was a Dr. JB Kroft at 3M Corporation, which is here in St. Paul, Minnesota. He used to say, “The ten most important minutes of a manager’s day at 3M are the ten minutes that he or she takes to decide how the day is going to go.”
That’s a profound idea from an educator and a conservative company to stop and visualize how you want it to go but you and I know that’s a difference that makes a difference. You could mark on the calendar the day you don’t do that. You hit the ground running and had to go because of something else. You are always grinding against the gear somehow. There’s no flow to it. Trim it and set it. Get it just so.
The idea here is yes, I have practices and can’t put those up for discussion, how I awaken, my yoga practice, meditation, my prayer time and all of it. The words I’m speaking here were given to a greater source that my mouth is filled with the words that had to be spoken. All of that is what I do. Through the day, if I can do qigong, I will do qigong, go for my walk, do my exercise routine, whatever it might be for that day. I swim a couple of times a week. I can’t give up swimming.
Even when you’ve got to make a reservation at the Y to get a lane. You’ve got to do it.
I would even swim at the Y when we had three people in one lane and we had to get circles. There are rituals that are very important. I would like to help understand ritual meets the reptilian complex at an important level, which is switched off when we are in fear. That’s called the escape mechanism or the freeze mechanism.The effort to strive for perfection is misplaced energy. We really want Kaizen. We want to do things with beauty and grace and truth and goodness, and perfection isn't really the thing that we're going for in any given task itself. Click To Tweet
The midbrain is the emotional brain, and that’s the part of fight or flight. To be able, physically safe, emotionally calm, it upregulates the brain from one to the next. The next up-regulation is the neocortex and that’s the thinking brain, the rational, and the creative. Those are in harmony with the breath.
What we have access to with our meditation is the prefrontal cortex where we have mindsight, see the big picture, and have our God moments of recognition. My rituals throughout the day are designed to up-regulate my brain and keep me in that highest functioning. It’s as if most of us are living in 80 story high-rise buildings and only living on the first ten stories. All the wiring goes up to the top floor but we are not getting up there. We are not metabolizing our energy up to those higher levels. You can do it through the rituals that you keep.
It’s interesting you brought up 3M. We use an example of 3M in the book because they were one of the first innovative companies to require that 20% of their work and resources go to creating new products. They were unwilling to rest on the laurels of even the successful things they had going. They were constantly thinking about the future and the unknown.
I had the opportunity to model their creative process for a course I wrote for Honeywell. I went, met with scientists and asked them about their creativity and problem-solving processes. I’m very familiar with that. It is exciting. Honeywell, after World War II, had time 30 minutes aside every morning for people to devote to higher creative thinking. They started using it to play cards, drink coffee, and chat. Nobody knew how to use it so they disbanded it. It’s not that we have time. It’s that we also understand how to use that time most effectively.
Paul, I suggest that we about part two to this. You don’t have to be disappointed because to tap more of the well of your experience and expertise is something I know our people would crave. We will do that for sure. I do have a final question for you. I’m wearing a hoodie that says, “I love my life.” I did a TED Talk with that same principle of, “Can you love your life in spite of your life not being perfect?” You talk about the way we are meaning-making machines. When my life was imperfect as a lawyer, I was blaming it at that time on the work, law, judges, everything.
What I realized now is that loving your life no matter what, means no matter what. I could have very easily loved my life and pivoted within that profession if I knew then what I know now. I’m thrilled that I’m where I am and what I do but you can love your life wherever you are at this moment, no matter what. Pre-pandemic, people didn’t love their lives. It’s agnostic as to the circumstance. You can love your life at this moment, even if there’s a challenge and that creates resilience in and of itself.
My question to you, Paul, is, do you love your life, and what’s that like because we are not saying every second of the day, you are in love with what’s happening? To love the picture and its entirety, even when there are things within it that you would change or that you are working on is one of those, whatever you want to call them. It’s an artful approach to living. What’s your thought on that?
I have several thoughts. To keep it as brief as possible, I would say that the effort to strive for perfection is misplaced energy. We want kaizen and do things with beauty, grace, truth and goodness. Perfection isn’t the thing that we are going for in any given task itself. In fact, we have done quite a bit of remodeling in our home, and there are errors that occurred. My wife and I would gleefully say, “If anyone spot that, we will give them $1.”
We see it, and no one ever will see that or let alone comment on it. The idea is that when we make decisions, we make good enough decisions and important concepts in military strategy. We don’t have to make the perfect decision. We need to make a good enough decision. Sometimes what’s good enough at the moment turns out to be not good enough, in which case, we learn.
There was a metaphor that I have used. I had a woman in my class, and I was talking about how important it is that we take 2 steps forward, 1 step back when we learn. She said, “I’m a seamstress.” There is a stitch that does that. Many stitches on a seam are just one stitch after the next. There’s a certain type of stitch that’s called on the bias, which is a couple of stitches forward, one stitch back. The quality of the effect is two things, strength and flexibility. That’s what learning is. It’s strength and flexibility. It’s important to keep marching forward and succeeding every single time and doing everything perfectly.
It’s very important for our strength and flexibility that we encounter resistance, pushback or realize that giving away our power and it’s time to reclaim it. As my teacher, Arnold Patent, would say, “Everything you look at in your life that you don’t appreciate, it’s essential that you pause to appreciate it.” Two things will happen. He calls it the double-positive whammy.
Number one, when you appreciate even the screw-ups that occurred when you bring your attention to it and appreciate it for what it can do to assist you, first of all, reclaim the power that you put into it and say, “That’s not me. It’s got power. I screwed up. I’m now feeling awful because of that thing.” No. Claim, embrace, and allow it to come in.
The second thing that occurs is you reclaim yourself as a creator. Number one, you reclaim the energy in that event and number two, you reclaim yourself as the author, agent or the one who has the control to do something with it, the creator or co-creator of your life. That has stuck with me, Adam, that everything that happens can serve but it requires that I turn to it and get how it is of service to up-level the quality of my life.
It reminds me of this part in Hamilton about reclaiming the narrative and how important it is that you own your narrative. We are going to park our boat here for the moment. We are going to moor the boat. We will come back for more of this, Paul. If you have loved this episode, as I would expect you have but either way, we love your feedback regardless. Questions, comments, and feedback, you can go to AdamMarkel.com/podcasts to leave those. If you know someone that would benefit from hearing some part or all of this conversation, please feel free to share this episode with those folks as well. Paul, my friend, thank you so much for spending time with us.
It was a great pleasure. Thanks so much for the invitation and I look forward to seeing you again.
As will I.
Peace and blessings.
- Learning Strategies
- Transformational Leadership Council
- Universal Principles
- Abundance For Life
- You Can Have It All
- The Road Less Traveled
- The Survivor Personality
- The Resiliency Advantage
- Man’s Search For Meaning
- Change Proof
- The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty
- TED Talk – Adam Markel
About Paul R. Scheele, Ph.D.
Paul R. Scheele, Ph.D. is co-founder of Learning Strategies Corp. He combines expertise in neurosciences, business, psychology and learning to guide people to achieve extraordinary results in relationships, work, money and health. Scheele is an expert on learning how to tap the other 90% of the mind and believes everyone has an inner genius just waiting to be awakened. He is author of several books and many personal learning courses, and his passion is reclaiming the genius capacity within humanity.