Carley Hauck, author of Shine: Ignite Your Inner Game to Lead Consciously at Work and in the World, believes that being your authentic self is key to making the world a better place. In this discussion with Adam Markel, Carley explains that everyone has the power to make a true difference and authenticity is the key. She also explains the relationship between our vulnerability and resilience, including how critical both are for growth and self-improvement. Perhaps most importantly, Carley emphasizes the importance of taking action for every belief that we uphold. Otherwise, we lose the opportunity to cause real change.
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How Your Authentic Self Can Change the World
I feel blessed at this moment. I feel great to be sitting in the seat and have a wonderful guest on the show. I feel extremely lucky to be alive and breathing at this moment. There’s so much going on in the world. There’s so much going on in each of our individual lives. For the life of me, I cannot think of anything better for my mindset, how I feel in my body, and for things that are going on the unconscious level. I can’t feel any better than I do at this moment, which is to be in gratitude, blessed, and lucky even amid anything and everything that’s happening around us. It’s a secret weapon that’s not a secret and that we don’t want to keep secrets.
With that, I have a wonderful guest. I’m looking forward to the conversation that you guys will all get to be experiencing as well. Her name is Carley Hauck. She’s a Senior Learning Architect, Leadership Development Consultant, author and speaker with companies such as LinkedIn, Pixar, Clif Bar, Intuit, and many more. She serves as an adjunct faculty member at Stanford University and UC Berkeley School of Business teaching the subject of leadership and business as a platform for positive change in the world. It’s such a pleasure to have you on the show, Carley. Welcome.
Thank you, Adam. It’s lovely to be here.
What’s not a part of that impressive bio that I read? What’s one thing that’s not included that you would love for people to know about you?There is always the darkness before the dawn. Click To Tweet
I feel excited about my upcoming ￼book. I’m focused on staying true to the essence of that book because even amid the darkness and the transition that we are in our world, I believe that there is the dark before the dawn. We have this huge privilege and opportunity to build the most beautiful world together. Even during the division, uncertainty, ambiguity and volatility, there are those of us that are shining the light and are seeing what is possible.
The book is called Shine. That’s a perfect segue. Would you share the subtitle of that book?
￼We need to make adjustments from time to time. When we’re able to do that, it’s potentially easier for us to shine our light. Many things get in the way of us truly shining in the world, little things. My experience is that it’s often not the big things. It’s not a COVID crisis that gets in the way of our ability to share our greatest gifts with other people. It might sideline us. It might be something we never forget. It’s certainly going to be a pivot point for a lot of people and one that we will remember. It’s not those things that, often, get in the way. It’s day-to-day little things that interfere. What’s your beat on that? Does that make sense or not to you?
It does. There are a lot of people in the world that may not have the same privilege and the same resources to be able to shine. If they are living in survival mode, they’re focused on, “Do I have a safe place to live? Do I have enough food? Can I take care of my family?” Sometimes that inhibits their greatest potential because they’re doing the best that they can. That doesn’t mean that they’re not shining. They may be shining at that moment. There are those of us that have more resources, inner and outer, that can impact our ability to bring our best self.
￼I’m curious. Do you think it’s more important in terms of that ability to shine? It’s is a concept I want us to impact more than we have so far. Do you think it’s easier for a person to share or shine when they have the outer resources or when they have the inner resources?
It’s the inner because the inner rolls the outer. I talk a lot about that in my body of work. It’s also something that I keep having to practice even more deeply in my own life. 2019 and 2020 have been an even deeper dive for me around that.
The book has been in the incubation, the birthing stage. A baby takes about nine months to birth. Sometimes a book, I know this personally well, can take many years. ￼You’re in the process of birthing this body of work. What’s that been like? What’s been the biggest challenge in seeing this thing through to fruition?
I was asked to write a book shortly after my first-semester teaching at Stanford. I had an acquisitions editor come to me and ask me. I wasn’t ready. I said, “Who has time to write a book?” That was my answer when she said, “Carley, your curriculum is amazing. Have you thought about writing a book?” There’s been a long gestation period of me getting ready. You know the stages of change, there’s the preparation and then you finally get into the state of readiness. The writing of this book started when Trump was elected.
It was a catalytic moment.
￼I saw us going off a cliff, so to speak, in many ways, how we were treating one another, the lack of awareness around our consumption, how that was impacting the planet and many other things. I wanted to showcase a pathway and tools and skills we could all grow to be the leaders that our world needs to build a much more beautiful world than we may have felt was possible. That commitment to the world I want to create and build with everyone is what kept me going amid some setbacks, challenges, and a lot of personal sacrifices, honestly, lots of weekends, lots of time. I’m not dating anyone. I’m not married. I was committed to this process of the book.
What would you say the greatest challenge in moving through the gestation phases was or has been?
Near the end of writing this book, I found out that the editor that had been working on the book with me did not do a great job of editing. I had to find another editor after I had already turned in the final submission of the book. This was not something I was expecting. I had to dig even deeper and trim the fat, so to speak. I’m a first-time author. It took more months of commitment than I had already signed up for. There was no waver in my system or my body. It was a clear no. I’m going to continue with this. I’m committed to this. I want to see this come out in the world. It was seven more months before that manuscript was ready. I love this book. You and I were talking about it being like a baby. I felt protective of it then and I’m proud of it now.
I’d love to get a sense of the through-line. One of the things that our company does and that I’ve loved doing is coaching people and getting people ready to deliver TED Talks as an example. The question we’re constantly asking is what’s the through-line? What’s the spine, to use that term for the book that’s a convenient metaphor?
It’s available for pre-order. The book is coming out in hardcover and audio-book. The through-line is that it’s about how do we cultivate this conscious inner game. How do we cultivate consciousness on the inside and then allow it to shine on the outside? In my experience in working with lots of leaders and managers and teaching these principles and qualities to thousands of people, these particular qualities of consciousness allow us to create a workplace in a world that is inclusive and supports belonging. It’s also living in greater sustainability with the earth.
You follow the path of nine leaders throughout the book in addition to engaging in your own inner practices. You see how they’re embodying this way of conscious and inclusive leadership at work and in the world. One of the leaders that most people will know is Marc Benioff, the CEO of Salesforce. There’s also another incredible leader who’s based in India and her name is Rhea Singhal. She started the first compostable tableware company in India. They’re inspiring people and stories.
You said to me that there are six key skills. There are more than six but there are six that you focus on in the book. I thought it would be fun since one of those skills is resilience and that’s near and dear to our heart. I’m wearing my I Am Resilient shirt since I had delivered a keynote to an organization on the topic of how you develop and cultivate resilience. I know resilience is one. I want to get your beat on that but let’s save that for last. What are the other five skills that are essential to that more conscious way of leading?
It’s self-awareness. If we don’t have our self-awareness, we can’t be aware of our patterns, thoughts, mindset, and how we can learn, grow and change. Emotional intelligence, which encompasses self-awareness but then self-management and other awareness, empathy, relationship mastery. That’s a big one. There is well-being. How are we prioritizing self-care, but then also extending that to the well-being of others and the planet? Love, how are we leading from love within ourselves and with the other? Authenticity, that supports greater safety, greater trust, greater inclusion and belonging.
What does your research suggest or creates authenticity or gives permission for people to be authentic? When I think of authenticity, it’s a tough word for me to nail down. I tend to think of it more like transparency. Maybe there’s more to it than being transparent or being honest. I’d love to have your sense of what authenticity is all about.
Authenticity is permitting ourselves. You can go, “Carley, this is a safe space. You can share everything you want with me.” While that’s lovely, I also have to check in with myself and say, “What’s authentic? Maybe I don’t feel safe to share that right now.” It’s permitting myself to be vulnerable and embracing all the feelings that might come up around that, maybe their shame. Maybe there’s a sense of guilt depending on what I share. Maybe there’s apprehension or fear, which is usually always there before you’re about to get vulnerable.We could all grow to be the leaders to build a more beautiful world than we may have thought was possible. Click To Tweet
For me, even in the process of coming out with this book and this message, I tend to be more self-effacing than self-promoting. It feels vulnerable, in many cases, for me to be promoting and marketing. The way I’ve grokked it for myself and grown my mindset is that it’s in service of humanity. It’s in service of the world that I want to build. When I can hold it in that lens, it’s a lot easier for me to be vulnerable and to show up. Vulnerability is inherent in authenticity. You can be transparent, but it can also be harsh and it cannot have care or kindness. When I think about authenticity, I think of it as speaking my truth with care and kindness for myself and the other. Otherwise, it won’t be received well.
I once heard that speaking your truth without compassion is brutality. I don’t know that anybody wakes up in the morning and decides, “I want to be brutal today.” Some people do wake up thinking of ways that they can take advantage of others and that’s the case. Most people don’t wake up with that being their goal, that they want to be brutal. They want to show up in the best way they’re capable of, but they’re under-resourced, let’s say, in some respects and then lean on more in old default patterns.
The default patterns might be driven by fear and insecurity. Instead of making themselves vulnerable, which is uncomfortable. They opt instead to allow their ego or some other aspect of their protective selves to squash people or squash situations or conversations that would expose them as somebody who’s, like the rest of us, frail at times, vulnerable at times, wrong, not always correct, and the like. In a business context, that’s thin ice. Let me get your thoughts on that. Do you think that the business environment has truly changed to allow forgiving and permit people to show up in that authentic and even vulnerable way? Is it still a lot of good lip service to these principles?
All companies and all people are growing in that case. It is modeled by the leadership at the top, how authentic and how vulnerable everyone else can be. That’s why I love working with leaders and managers because I feel that I have the greatest potential to impact positive change in the workplace culture, but then in the greater world in how they’re delivering their product, what product they’re putting out there. How is it inclusive? How is it sustainable? This is hard. Leaders are supposed to know how to navigate things. In some ways, they can be arrogant. They can be self-righteous. You can be authentic with self-righteousness.
I’m authentically an egomaniac.
You can say, “I know what’s right.” That could be authentic. It’s like, “This is what I think. What do you think? This is what I think and I’m not sure it’s going to be the answer for the complexity we’re navigating right now. I’d love your support. What is your feedback? What are your views? What’s your lens?” That incorporates the other and that’s vulnerability. I don’t think of that as a weakness. I think of that as strength.
I love that idea. It first landed for me when I heard Brené Brown speaking about vulnerability being a strength. She shared that as many times as I could think of opportunities to and still feel strongly that’s the case, vulnerability is in fact strength. I’m pressing you a little hard on this word authenticity only to be authentic myself that I’ve called that word out from stage and places at times. You put your finger on it. I could be authentically an asshole. My authentic self is to shit on people or what have you.
You’re right, somebody that’s in that role as a leader, whether they’re the leader of the free world or they’re the leader of a startup or a Fortune 50 company. If that’s genuinely who they are, to pretend that there’s something other than that for the sake of making HR happy or whatever else it might be to make them a kinder, gentler version of who they are is an issue. It’s an important concept to unpack. That would be what I’d look forward to in the book, your teaching and in the work that you do at Berkeley and Stanford. You have these great deep conversations, even in the work you do with organizations.
The word you used is the most powerful word for me since I’m about twenty years old and that’s humility. Humility is the combination of these things that we’re talking about. It’s authenticity, transparency, honesty, and vulnerability. It’s the opposite or the antithesis of ego. I finished this book. I don’t know if you’ve read it. I mentioned it a bunch of times. It’s a good book, but the topic is what’s great, its Ego Is The Enemy by Ryan holiday. I, more and more, think about how ego gets in the way of many things. The antidote to ego is humility. I’m picking at this to be not so much semantical about it. What’s the essence of authenticity?
I love your line of inquiry. I want to take us back a step too because it was a great question. You asked me, “Is this lip service that these companies are putting out there?” It’s a learning curve for many. In 2021, we’re going to see more pressure. Are these companies being accountable? We even look at this rise in DEI in companies and corporations, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, which is a real passion of mine. I try to bring as much of an inclusive lens to all my work as I can. I am always learning and growing and that will never stop, especially as we’re trying to understand the experience of another, who has had a different lived experience than I.
To create the changes that our world needs, it’s an interpersonal process. What am I changing within myself? How am I growing my mindset, awareness and language? It’s also an external process of systems, structures that need to be held accountable so that real change happens. That requires vulnerability. It also requires forgiveness. I talk about forgiveness a lot in the essence of authenticity. I have to acknowledge that I’m a messy human and I’m going to make mistakes all the days of my life. I’m not always going to get it right. I’m not always going to be responsive. Sometimes I’m reactive.
If I can be forgiving to myself, then I can be much more forgiving to other people and hold them with compassionate accountability. Have compassion for their mistakes, for their messiness because I have it too. Also, hold them accountable for what they said they’re going to do. It’s a long answer. It’s not staying I’m authentic and then being vulnerable. It’s also walking your talk. If you’re going to say something, follow up with action or I don’t think you’re being authentic.If you're going to say something, always follow that up with action. Click To Tweet
Osho said something like, “You can forgive every minute or every moment.” He had some amazing things that he shared through his books years ago. He’s been canceled, I suppose. It’s the word we might use for it. Maybe with good reason. I have no judgment about that. One of those things that stuck with me is that we can forgive every moment. We hang on to things. Whatever little anger or resentment or self-judgment, and judgments of others, we hang on to these things and they become heavy. We have the choice to let go of those things, moment by moment. We’re lighter. We’re more agile. We’re more flexible.
We’re more resilient. If we hold on to those, we’re not as resilient.
That forgiveness idea, to me, is the essence of letting go. If we forgive something, we release it. That is such a fundamentally important thing. You teed it up well. I want to get your definition of what resilience is and how you define it. How is this your challenge to your resilience? What’s shown up for you in that area?
There’s so much.
It’s like, “Where do I begin?”
One of my mentor’s friends, soul family, is Fred Luskin. He did his dissertation on forgiveness at Stanford. He has written a few books on forgiveness. His most famous one is called Forgive for Good where he identifies nine skills that he’s validated by his research at Stanford on how to forgive. One of the things that he often tells me is that I’m one of the most resilient people he’s ever met.
What a compliment.
I’ve had a lot of challenges in this life. I don’t want to tell all of my challenges but I can share authentically and vulnerably a little bit about 2020. This is my resilience story. My definition of resilience is the ability to see adversity, struggle and challenge from a mindset of, “How is this for me?” versus, “Why is this happening to me?” Identifying what I have control of, what I don’t have control of, and then taking the next step forward.
Our definition of resilience is similar. What it says is leveraging the power, leveraging adversity, leveraging uncertainty as a catalyst for long-term growth. Our thoughts and experience on this are that being resilient is not about bouncing back as the term goes. It’s bouncing forward. I’ve been a pretty resilient person in my personal life and my career as well. It seems like every pivot that was adverse or seemed adverse led to some growth for me going forward and led to some momentum in some area, whether it was that area of business or life or it was something else. That means that resilience is not hanging on the way people feel about it. It’s like, “I’ve got my white knuckles. My nails are clawing my way. I’m gritty.” I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with grit. I don’t want to live grittily, that’s not the way I want to experience my own life.
Dr. King said something to the effect that life is like a staircase. We can’t see the top of the stairs. All we can see maybe is a step or two ahead of us. What’s interesting as you live longer, when you look back down that staircase, everything was perfectly ordered to get you right to where you were. To me, that’s all about progress. It sounds like you had a challenging 2020 to lead you to the point where you are, ready to launch a book. Am I getting too simplistic about it?
I lived in California, in the Bay area, for several years. 2019 was much more difficult for me than 2020. It was a reckoning. I got leveled. All the things in my life that I cared about most died. I was building up my foundation. Everything I talked about in the book, I had to go even deeper. I had to need it even more deeply. I was writing also from that place. It was a transformation on the inside that was coming up in the book.
I don’t know about you, Adam, but this is the agreement I have with the divine, which I’m always very much guided by. If I’m teaching, writing, or speaking on anything, she, the divine, always goes, “Do you think you’re an expert on resilience? What do you think about these forest fires in California for five weeks? Figure that out. You can’t breathe. You can’t go anywhere.” She’s always inviting us to go deeper. That was my 2019.
When 2020 came, I had already let go. I had gotten used to surrendering and letting go in a much bigger way. My landlord went off the rails when the pandemic hit. It became toxic for me to continue to live in the Oakland Hills where I’d been living for seven and a half years. I put all my stuff in storage, except some small belongings. I moved to the Eastern Sierras in a community house with a friend for three months. I had enough for my bedroom and a standing desk. It was a beautiful summer. We lived 30 minutes from everything, even the closest gas station. I did a lot of spiritual practice. I spent a lot of time in nature and it was glorious. Those three months were up and I was thinking that I was going to move back to Northern California but the fires came. I had put all the rest of my stuff in storage. It was all happening at the same time.We all have our unique way of shining. Click To Tweet
I got on a plane to Asheville, North Carolina. I bought a one-way ticket. I had all my stuff in a small backpack and suitcase. I thought, “I’m going to try this on.” There’s water. There’s clean air. I had a few friends here and everything started opening up. I decided, “Carley, I don’t want to live like a gypsy anymore. I don’t want to go back to California. I can feel the energy is not moving, it’s not opening there for me. I’m going to try this on.” I drove cross country a week later from California to North Carolina. I slept on a mattress here in my new house in Black Mountain, about twenty minutes outside of Asheville. I had my standing desk, which I realized I’m quite attached to. This was the one thing. Being a writer, facilitator, and speaker in a remote virtual world, the standing desk was like water.
I’ve been for a little over 2.5 months. It has not been easy. I miss the climate of California. I miss my soul family. I left some good people back there. I’m learning a lot about what I like and what I don’t like. I’m continually trying to stay in gratitude. I had the privilege to be able to do this. I still have the privilege and there’s a lot to be grateful for. I’m taking it day-by-day. We’ll see where I go next. It’s the step, as you said.
I’m glad you shared that. It’s been years since I’ve been to Asheville, that part of the state, North Carolina, the Blue Ridge mountains. Rhododendrons are the size of trees, they are massive.
It’s not quite in the winter. I hope to see them in the spring.
You will. I’ve never seen them in bloom there. We have a place on the Cape. We have some big rhodos there that bloom in the spring that we got to see for the first time. Because of COVID, we had left the West Coast and went out to live on this little island and got to see things in bloom that we’d never seen in years that we’d had this house. If you’re there in the spring, you’ll be blown away by the color.
That’s what I’ve heard, it’s beautiful here in the spring. I’m waiting to see that.
That’s waiting for something special. There’s an element of that, it’s either part of our mindset each day that we’re waiting for wonderful things to happen. We’re expecting them and waiting on them or we have a mindset that’s looking at darker things. Maybe that’s the whole classic glass is half-full and half-empty thing. I was a lawyer for eighteen years. I’m a practical person. I have fears. I succumb to my fears from time to time. I battle them from time to time. I lean positive. I’m undecided as to whether a person who’s leaned negative for a lot of years can suddenly lean positive. You can.
I know that I was pretty miserable for a lot of years, even though I had a lot to be grateful for. I used to wake up in the morning and put my feet on the floor and feel anxiety at the beginning of the day, that wasn’t positive. I got angry a lot and easily angered as well. I was a litigation attorney. It was a joke that I had a place for my anger. I could profit from my anger. To pivot out of that way of being was a big deal for me. It took a while. Maybe I’m answering that question for other people when I say you can choose to lean differently than you currently do but it’s not necessarily easy or overnight. That’s the reason we came out with this book, The I Love My Life Challenge. It was all about how do we support if somebody wanted to try to lean differently, lean more toward loving themselves unconditionally, loving the world, everything. How do you do that? It’s not an overnight thing.
You got to recognize that one of the great laws of the universe is that anytime you change one thing, many other things change in response to it. That’s the butterfly effect. If you don’t make that singular change, even an infinitesimally small change, everything remains the status quo. It remains the same. Maybe that is the call to action for businesses as well. It’s not that you won’t get those leaders that are egotistical or don’t check in with themselves and acknowledging how they’re feeling and then being vulnerable to share it with others. It’s like, “I realized I sound like an idiot. I sound aggressive right now. A lot of fear is coming up in me as I’m responding to this situation.” It takes a lot of self-awareness. Maybe the greater hope is that, by you coming out with the book that you’ve got, all of us speaking about this more and more. Even a little micro change occurs, that micro change leads to a myriad of other changes that make the world different even if we can’t see it at the moment.
I love what you said because that’s what I believe. We all have a unique light to shine. I’m shining it in my unique way. You’re shining it in your unique way. Everyone has that capacity, strength, and brilliance. If we’re all doing that in our own way, we’re all being the change. This transformation that is needed in our workplace and our world requires all of us. The way forward is for us to all come together. If we think, “Climate change is too big of a problem. I don’t have anything worthwhile to say. I can’t offer any solution here.” That thinking is not true. We all have something beautiful that we can offer. The thing is that if I’m shining over here and, Adam, you’re shining over here and this person’s shining over here, that means I can lower my light. I can rest. I can take good care of myself because I know that you’ve got my back. You’re doing it. When you need to rest, I go up and I shine again. That’s what helps us all be resilient.
I could speak to you for days. I’ve enjoyed this. I’m a little sad that it’s going to come to an end but to be continued because folks can get out there and learn more about what you’re doing and get their hands on your book and all the rest of it. We can pick up this conversation another time as well. I look forward to doing that. Thank you so much for being a guest on the show.
I love that. Thank you, Adam.
I want to remind everybody as well that if you have questions that you’d like to pose to Carley or myself, you can leave a comment at AdamMarkel.com/podcasts. Subscribe, of course, if you haven’t already. Share with a friend. If you know somebody that would benefit from reading some of what you learned, feel free to share it with others. That’s how our community has continued to steadily grow. We appreciate it very much.
Also, I want to remind myself and all of you that today was a great blessing. We got to wake up. I know that because you read this. You’re awake. I got to wake up as well. The blessing, if it repeats itself, which I’m counting on, is a cause for celebration. When you wake up, put your feet on the floor, even for a moment, feel grateful. Amid everything going on in the world, sometimes it’s difficult to cultivate a genuine feeling of gratitude. Once you do that, you’ve got that gratitude, it’s like, “You’re grabbing the world by its tail and starting the day on the right foot,” as my grandmother would say.
If you want to take it up a notch, you could put your feet on the floor, stand up, and say something out loud. When I use to start my day back in the day when I was not happy, I would grunt at the beginning. Now when I wake up, I feel that gratitude. I put my feet on the floor and I declare out loud, “I love my life.” You can say that or you can choose to say something else. It’s been a tremendous blessing to have you all here. I look forward to the next time that we get to connect. Ciao for now. Carley, thanks so much for being a part of the show.
Thank you so much, Adam. It’s lovely to talk to you.
- Shine: Ignite Your Inner Game to Lead Consciously at Work and in the World.
- Ego Is The Enemy
- Forgive for Good
- The I Love My Life Challenge
About Carley Hauck
Carley Hauck is a senior learning architect, leadership development consultant, author, speaker with companies such as LinkedIn, Pixar, Clif Bar, Intuit, and many more. Sher serves as adjunct faculty at Stanford University and UC Berkeley Haas School of Business teaching on the subject of leadership and business as a platform for positive change in the world.