Successful people have many characteristics in common, but probably the most important trait they share, which is necessary to navigate and survive in today’s world is resilience. On today’s podcast, Adam Markel sits down with Petra Kolber to talk about resilience. Petra is an author, speaker, podcast host, DJ, and wellness leader. A two-time cancer survivor, she shares how resilience has helped her elevate her strengths to continue being a crusader for change and a beacon of authentic happiness. Resilience is who you are and what you can still do in the future should you choose to. You’ve got to use it, or you lose it.
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The Mindset Of Resilience With Petra Kolber
I am feeling enormously grateful to be here and to be with a wonderful woman who has a bright light. I’m not an empath or anything like that. I’m originally from New York, even though we live in California. I’m not totally a woo-woo guy. I have a woo-woo side of me and I have a practical ex-lawyer side of me. This lady is bright. Let me get right into telling you a little bit about Petra Kolber. She’s a speaker, author, mindset coach, podcast host, DJ, and wellness leader. She is known throughout the industry as a beacon of authentic happiness. As a keynote speaker, she inspires people around the globe to stand up for their lives and live profoundly from their hearts. Her work is rooted in the science of positive psychology and she coaches individuals and teams on how to get unstuck so that they can become unstoppable.
In August 2018, in association with Da Capo Press, Petra released her first book, The Perfection Detox: Tame Your Inner Critic, Live Bravely, and Unleash Your Joy, which made its debut at number one in new releases on Amazon. As a two-time cancer survivor, she is passionate about waking people up to the precious gift of time. Her mission is to inspire people to move more and fear less so that they can stretch their dreams, strengthen their courage muscle, and build an inspired life full of joy and gratitude. I am grateful to have you on the show. Welcome.
It’s such a treat to be here. Thank you.
Petra, that is quite a bio. What is not a part of all that that you would love for people to know about you?
Hearing that I’m like, “When did that all happen?” What that brings up for me right away is this idea that we see someone’s bio. We see someone’s highlight reel and we immediately compare our middle or our start or whatever it is that we’re doing at the time. That one paragraph that sounds fancy is many years of wins and misses of hits. It doesn’t show all the things that I didn’t bring to across the finish line. It didn’t show all the things I wanted to start and never had the courage to do. Anytime we hear our own bio, there are two parts that happened to me. It’s like, “Stop talking about me.” It’s that British pride. It’s like, “Let’s move on with it.” There’s the other part as a listener like, “She sounds fancy.” At the end of the day, we’re all human beings, especially in this new day and age, doing the best that we can and hopefully, helping others along the way.
You’re right. The misses are usually not included in the highlight reel because you’re a public speaker. I’m also a keynote speaker and in preparing those demo or sizzle reel, and that kind of thing, you don’t usually put in there, “By the way.” Although sometimes people have profound stories of overcoming something and that is used frequently as one of those things. It’s those smaller misses that can be depleting to our energy, don’t you think?
You and I are going to talk about resilience and by way of how it is that I came to be introduced to Petra was through an article about resilience. Resilience has been part of the DNA of our company, what we’ve been interested in and fascinated by for many years. When I read this article, I thought, “I’ve got to get this lady on our show to have a conversation about it.” Let’s go back to that question of the small misses. Do you feel like sometimes those small mistakes that we make have a compounding effect in some way that keeps people energetically playing in that mediocrity zone or something like that?What we don't own will own us. Click To Tweet
Yeah, it’s a great question. I never thought of it that way. I think so. It’s like negative words that chip away this from other people. What happens is it’s not that we make a mistake. It’s how we view it. There’s data in the disasters and there’s research in the rejection. It’s those little misses that we take out of proportion. When it’s not viewed as data or research or more proof that we’re trying something new, we’re stretching our courage muscle, and we allow our own internal dialogue of like, “See, I told you, you aren’t smart enough. Who do you think you are to be good?”
All those voices of Christmas past coming forward. It’s not that we’re going to ignore those feelings of hurt or the disappointments. There’s a big difference between being disappointed in something not working out, and then almost viewing it as not that we made a mistake, but that we are a mistake. It’s this subliminal little self unconscious conversation that we probably would not share with anyone of how we view our own failures and our own misses. What does that mean about us in the bigger picture of trying to stand up for something, stand out in some way, and make a difference in the world?
Among other things, you are a mindset coach. I want to get into the mindset of this because if you asked me and I’m going to pretend that you asked me, “How do you deal with setbacks?” Not just the big ones that you get to take with both hands, but the little daily ones. Somebody ignores you, rejects you, doesn’t respond to your emails or your text, or somebody says no or whatever the case might be. In our world, somebody doesn’t give you the gig. You’re in the shortlist and you have a great sales call with the company or the bureau or whatever it is, and then they choose someone else, all those little things. I’ve been working on this for some time, just shifting my mind into neutral. When we talk about the mindset of resilience, it’s important that we have to adopt a reframing tool or this ability to reframe something instantly.
I can’t turn lemons into lemonade. I don’t know about you, but I have trouble making lemonade immediately out of lemons. I’m waiting for that to happen more instantaneously. I have to get to neutral first where I’m not in judgment of it in any way. It’s not fair or unfair. It’s not right or wrong. I haven’t been slighted at all because the thing itself doesn’t have a meaning. Neutralize it of meaning because we’re meaning-making machines. To sit with it and allow it to be its thing without judgment of it, that’s the first step for me. What do you do yourself with these little disappointments that maybe chip away at your self-esteem bit by bit?
What I do with them is different from what I do with them in the past. The first thing is that little book, The Four Agreements, don’t take anything personally. The more I can separate what I do from who I am, the easier it is to come back to neutral. It was maybe the right moment, right time, wrong talk, or maybe it was right talk, right moment, wrong time. It’s all these little pieces that we have no idea of what it is. As you said, bring it back to neutral. I love that and I like the idea of don’t start writing a script. Stay with what you know for true. All I know at that moment is my talk for that bureau or that event was not the right one for this year, and then stop writing. Don’t start going because you weren’t good enough or your reel should have been better. We make up all these stories. It’s coming back to neutral and then making sure that we stay with the facts, not the feelings.
We can have feelings of disappointment but feelings are not always facts so we’re disappointed. Of course, we wish that we got that speaking gig. We wouldn’t be human if we didn’t, and then we move on. I love the idea that you said to bring it back to neutral. It’s humanity. When we don’t allow ourselves to feel the disappointments and the hurts, that’s when they could come back and bite us. I love this idea of what we don’t own will own us. Human beings are going to have great emotions and what we would consider negative emotions. It’s the whole package.
There’s may be a paradox. The universe has got a great sense of humor. It’s not toying with us but the riddles are hysterical when you look at the great ironies of life including, “You want me to both express and feel my emotions.” I’m playing what we hear and many of us have practiced. I’m a huge believer in being able to allow emotions to be felt and pass through us without us having it become tar on our hearts like the way Michael Singer describes that in The Untethered Soul, which is a beautiful book. That’s such a good book. She’s got on the one hand, “You’re going to feel your emotions.” On the other hand, we’re saying, “Don’t confuse the emotions for facts.”
I’m playing the devil’s advocate. I’m tossing this hot potato right back at you, Petra. Somebody goes, “Petra, how do you pull that off? I’m feeling it and what it’s telling me is they rejected me. I’ve been rejected a lot in my life. It reminds me of when I was ten years old and I was bullied. I wasn’t allowed to be in the cool kids club.” Whatever those things are that were giving us messages in the earlier iterations of ourselves. Now here we are, we’re in our 30s or 40s or something, and rejection comes along. You go, “Doesn’t that mean I’m not good enough or something?” What do you do?
I would say that it’s listening to the voice in the head. It’s this idea of we do have to question. There’s nothing wrong with questioning. “How did I show up? Did I give it 100%?” If the answer is yes, okay. “Did I give it my best? Did I spend the time? Did I give it my all?” If the answer is yes, however that works for you, it’s time to let it go. It’s also asking, “Are these thoughts that I’m having around this rejection helpful?” Maybe that thought is, “Did you give it your all?” If the answer is yes, “I can begin to unpeel this and remove my feelings from it.”
If this feeling of rejection is asking me to question, “Did you give it your all or you’re phoning it in?” There’s usable data in that, so it’s not ignoring the feelings. It’s not writing stories though. It’s not making it up. It’s this whole black and white magnifying that our brain loves to do. It’s the black and white of rejection from an event that doesn’t mean you yourself personally have been rejected. Yes, we have because we are our brands and our business, which is the tricky thing. That is the difference between those that are resilient in any type of entrepreneurial industry.
Those that are their own businesses and their own brands, that is the thing that’s going to separate the doers versus the don’ters or whatever. It’s not necessarily even talent, but it’s the ability to separate and work what does the word rejection mean to us. If it does stick to us like tar, we have some inner work to do. That’s some background noise that we haven’t looked at that’s going to be important to do. Otherwise, we’re going to consistently get stuck. Eventually, we’ll start trying because that tar is going to weigh us down heavily. The risk of trying almost becomes worse than the risk of not trying as JK Rowling says, and then we fail by default.
The status quo becomes the default mode of being which mediocrity is pervasive for sure. It was Thoreau whose quote has been bastardized and changed a lot. I don’t even know what the original quote is, but it’s something to the effect that everywhere people live lives of quiet desperation. It is true that the quiet desperation is the non-enthusiasm. It’s how when we get enthusiastic and excited about something like a child.
That enthusiasm doesn’t say, “The chances of our succeeding in this thing we’re enthusiastic about are probably 62%.” There’s no internal calculator going, “Your chances of success here is a little.” You go, “Okay,” so then you’d have no enthusiasm. That enthusiasm is assuming that only good can come of this. Only fun can come of this and only something that’s going to be good for our hearts can come of it. Living with that kind of light spirit is powerful, especially in light of the fact that more often than not, we will fail at things. More often than not, things will not go as we planned, even if we get what we want.
I’m just speaking for myself here. I’ve gotten a lot of what I wanted. I’m an intentional person. I’ve set out intentions for things and then had them happen. Almost always, they weren’t what I planned. I got what I asked for, but not exactly what I thought it was going to be. Sometimes those things that I asked for weren’t good at all. Sometimes those things created challenges that I didn’t expect or want. Even getting what you want is not at all it’s cracked up to be if what you’re attached to is that it has to be perfect. To go back the through-line of your teaching that this idea that things have to be a certain way in order for us to be happy. I’d love for you to share a little bit of your special something to the world, this book and your teaching. Share a little bit about what that is.
It animates this idea of what success should look like. At the end of the day, we have this idea of to be worthy of being called an expert or having success or being known or even having a loving relationship, we need to be a certain way. We need to show up a certain way. Whatever we attached to it is often an idea of perfect, “If I just lost the weight, if I was just younger, if I was just smarter.” I call it your er. What is your er? I should be younger, smarter, thinner, sexier, fatter, funnier, whatever.We don't connect through perfection; we connect through the cracks. Click To Tweet
There’s always a gap in our brain as you know. You speak on resilience. You talked about living lightly and joyfully before. My whole idea is if we’re going to work hard, which we have to do work that’s worth doing, why not have joy along the way? Our brain’s default is to focus on the gaps, all that we’re not, all that we should still be, and all the difference between who I am and the person I look up to. When we do this heart work of understanding the truth of what humanity needs and how we connect individuals, we don’t connect through perfection. I know many people that I’ve met who for my eyes are simply magnificent.
What do you mean we don’t connect through perfection?
Adam, you show up and you have a perfect talk. You’re perfect on stage and you look perfect. You meet me and you say the perfect thing. I am only going to feel comfortable enough to show you my perfect side. Unwillingly, we’re either comparing or despairing. We want to fit in. We want to be part of the tribe. If I show up flawless and faultless with no challenges, there is nothing that most humans can relate to. We have to be relatable. In my mind, we don’t have to be but I would encourage us all if you’re in a thought leadership space. If we’re not relatable, why on Earth would someone choose to listen to us? There are enough great thought leaders out there that talk about perfection or talk about resilience but there’s something about us, the humaneness that someone will lodge into and go, “I see myself in her. She understands me.” If I’m perfect, how on Earth am I going to understand anyone who has any challenges? That’s what I mean by that. We connect through the cracks.
That kind of standard is exhausting.
I tried it for seven years. It wore me out.
This is funny because I’m lucky in the sense that I’m bald. People may be seen the picture on the podcast. My face is on there. I lost my hair when I was a lawyer, midway through my career. I was stressed out and one of the first signs of the stress were physical changes in my body including right at the top of my head, plus my mother or father was also. There’s some genetics to it. The joy of being bald for me is that I don’t have to worry about my hair anymore and I used to. Hair is such an important thing. It’s many people’s thing. They got to take care of their hair, wash it and comb it. They got to get it just right and products and all that stuff. At the time, I remember I loved having hair but it was constantly a burden in that respect. I don’t have that burden anymore. That’s one less thing I have to maintain perfection about, although I still shave my head. That I can do in five minutes in the shower, which is totally easy. Back to perfection, it can be exhausting. Even taking care of your physical appearance. Let alone your professional appearance.
At the end of the day, what does it mean? I often say, “What does perfection mean to you?” There might be people reading going, “I try to bring perfection to my talks and my presentations.” Perfect is only a word until you attach an emotion to it or a feeling or some sense of self. Who decides what perfect is? It’s an illusion. If it motivates you to do your best work and you can still have joy, don’t change a thing. This message is more for people like myself who thought that all of a sudden, I had the old voices of the past that I hadn’t dealt with. My dance teacher said, “You’re never going to be smart enough. You’re never going to make it.” I had that voice I didn’t look at. I was like, “Whatever, I’ll get over that. I’m British.” We’re like, “Just suck it up and move forward.”
There’s also the British like, “Who don’t think too big, don’t stand out. Don’t get too big for your britches.” There are all these things going on that were a part of my DNA, and then I became a fitness expert. It’s a long story. I rose the ranks quickly and what happened was those voices in my past and then somehow I put on this idea, “To be an expert, I needed to know everything. I need to be able to look a certain way because in the fitness world, I have to eat perfectly and it was exhausting.” Just like you, that stress will show up somehow.
The world will throw your pebble, a rock or a brick wall. I had a pebble that was anxiety. That was not sexy for a fitness person so I pushed it away. That pebble grew into a rock, which was panic attacks. One of my symptoms was if I was having a panic attack with you, within 60 seconds, it would look like I had run a marathon. I could hide everything. I could hide racing hard, my mind running rampant, and my blood pressure spiking. All of a sudden, we got a little sparkle of sweat here but it cracked, and then it will start dripping here. Within 60 seconds, I would be drenched.
My brick wall moment was I started to turn down work for the fear of the fear itself. This is why the work is a burden. It’s like your hair wore you down, that extra worry. As I get older, I worry about my wrinkles or whatever. I had cancer and I lost my hair. It was quite a freeing moment. I’m not going to say I wish that I had a great shaped head. I learned a lot. I have no divots. At the end of the day, the last thing I want to go to my grave is saying, “She died perfectly. She died not trying.” Because to do everything perfectly means you don’t try. To try means you’ve got to learn, fail, fall, get up and ask for help.
Perfection, how can I ask Adam for help? I should know everything. I’m the perfect expert. It’s exhausting, debilitating and unrelatable. When I let go of that burden of trying to hide it, that’s when I became relatable because I didn’t realize people saw Petra as the perfect fitness person. People love what I did and I was inspiring, but they never connected to me. It is always like this little separation between me and them. When I brought to light this idea of like, “I suffer from anxiety and panic attacks like you do,” and then it was no longer me and them. It was us. We’re in it together. I knew enough to get them through to the other side but I had the empathy. I had the compassion to say, “While your story is different, I understand the struggles.” That’s what I meant before about how do you relate to perfection because there are no struggles?
It’s interesting because the social media scene has for a long time perpetuated so much comparison and comparison anxiety, which I’m just making that term up. I worry and I’ve been a worrier since I was a kid. I used to bite my nails when I was a kid and I stopped doing that right after I got married. I thought to myself, “I wouldn’t want to be married to somebody who was biting their nails.” I turn that around on myself. That’s self-loathing 101.
That worry, I used to feel like it served me as a lawyer. That I would worry better than my competitors. In a case, I would worry more than the lawyers we’re up against and therefore, I could win. I won a lot because I felt that that worry drove me, but where it was driving me after about eighteen years in that practice was it was driving me into an early grave. I saw it happening for a lot of my colleagues. Whether they were succumbing to it physically, I certainly saw it mentally and emotionally they were miserable at 60 or 70. I was looking down the road at what my life might be like and it was an ugly scene.
The desire to maintain a certain perfection or to keep up with the people that you’re seeing as your colleagues or folks that you admire even on social media. It is a two-edged sword because there are people to learn from for sure and to connect with and yet, there’s this script as you call it. It’s almost like a screenwriter’s script that plays in our head that says, “I have to look that good. I have to be that good.” You know that person that gets up at 4:30. This is something I hate. Those thought leaders who say the key to their success is they get up at freaking 4:30 in the morning.
5:00 AM is no longer early enough.At the end of the day, the greatest coach anyone will ever have is their intuition. Click To Tweet
The meditation and the ritual morning. I have my stack of rituals that do not start at 5:00 AM, just so we’re clear. I sometimes even catch myself going, “Maybe I should be doing that. Maybe they’ve got it and I somehow don’t want it as much as they want it.” Do you still play that script in your head at all, Petra?
Absolutely. What’s refreshing when you share that is there is a little bit even in this day and age of entrepreneurship shaming. I love a lot of entrepreneurs who say we should be up at 5:00 AM. Who said? Why have we worked hard to create our own businesses? One of the most refreshing things was a friend of mine, Dorie Clark, who is brilliant. I heard her says, “I get up at 8:00 AM.” I went, “What?” All of a sudden, I was like, “Yes.”
When we look at others, look at others for inspiration and be mindful of not comparing ourselves. Compare our yesterday to today. Can I show up better today than I did yesterday? Let’s hope so. Even the people that get up at 4:00 AM or 5:00 AM, their goals of success, their definition of happiness and joy might be different from ours. I would venture to say there’s a backstory even there that when you have perfection, let’s say the perfect entrepreneur is getting up at 4:00 AM in the morning meditating, reading five other books before 5:00, and then going out for their hour-long workout. They are going to have a shower and a completely vegan breakfast, and then they’re going to hit the chart at 9:00.
I would imagine there’s a part of that other life where something has to be sacrificed. What are you sacrificing? Only we can decide what we are willing to sacrifice. Is that your relationship with your loved ones, family or sleep? Here’s the hard thing. Only we can decide that. However, many books we read, how many podcasts we listen to or however many documentaries, we’re looking for that answer. Only you can figure it out. That to me is the work. The work of resilience is getting quiet and going, “What is it that I want for my life? How can I do trials and errors? Maybe I’ll read this book and I’ll try that. Maybe I’ll try this method.” At the end of the day, the greatest coach anyone will ever have is their intuition. It’s like, “How can we use others for inspiration without comparing what we’re doing now with what they’re doing?”
That’s one of those things that sits on the head of a pin, these tiny little distinctions that are important that can seem like a paradox. How do you have both? How do you feel your emotions but yet at the same time, also be free of them and not attached to them? Any form of attachment is ultimately suffering, at least in Buddhist principle. I ascribe to that. I feel like letting go is an art form. There’s an old book called Courage: The Joy of Living Dangerously by Osho. I read that book many years ago and there was one part of the book that talked about forgiving every moment.
I read most of my books in the hot tub, so this was back when we were living on the East Coast and I was at this gym. I was reading that book and I thought to myself, “What do you mean? Is there something I have to forgive every minute of the day, every second of my existence?” I didn’t quite get it but years later as I kept thinking about that, and I would even put it out there to people because I was like, “I’m still thinking about this. Anybody got any ideas what he means there?” What I feel now is that you can’t forgive every moment. If you’re not attached to the way things have to be. Perfection being one of those things that we would strive for being like the 4:30 person. There’s nothing wrong with the 4:30 person. Good for them. I find myself going, “Don’t be envious of that shit. Calling bullshit on me for being envious of them for getting up at 4:30 in the morning. That’s about me. Good on them. Well done.”
If I forgive at the moment, everything that doesn’t live up to that standard, to that made up bullshit perfection standard that I’m creating or that the media might be creating but I’m buying into, then I get freedom out of it. There’s tremendous freedom in simply being able to let go of the things that are infecting the moment. Look at this beautiful moment we have. We’re alive and breathing. We’re looking at each other. We’re on this contraption and all this technology. It’s a computer. When we grew up, there wasn’t any of this crap. None of this existed anyway. All of this is a flipping miracle and we’re sharing a moment together. If we think about, “I don’t like my answer from ten minutes ago. I wonder how many people are going to listen to this. What will happen to my business a month from now?” In any of that other stuff, it’s poisoning this moment.
When you asked about, how do we have feelings? Acknowledge them, but also let them go. This is the deep inner work that has no manual. This is the difference between teaching it and living it. This is maybe where I could weave it back into how do you notice the feelings but let them go? One of my favorite Buddhist teachers, Pema Chödrön, says there’s a difference between pain and suffering. I love this. Pain, we will all feel. In the world that we’re in, it’s a global pain. The suffering is optional. It’s when we pull up those feelings into our head and we spin them over and over again.
At the end of the day, what she says is, “Suffering is wanting things to be different than they are.” When we can be with those feelings, the good ones and the not-so-good ones, sit with them and not get attached to them, but also be okay with how things are at this moment. It sounds simple but it’s not easy. That is the work where we get to be resilient and bring our joy and work hard. It’s not from a place of fear and doubt but a place when we’re 1-year-old and 2-year-olds before someone said, “What are you doing?” It’s from curiosity and possibility and from the front of our brain that allows us to see all the good versus our reptilian brain that’s always protecting us from what might go wrong.
That forgiveness idea for me is about being able to release things because when I forgive them, I’m releasing them from whatever my judgments are around them. It’s the hardest thing in the world to practice that for ourselves. I couldn’t agree with you more. I’m happy that you keep reflecting back and edifying that this is what builds resilience, this inner work. We often talk about resilience as being holistic. It’s mental, emotional, physical and spiritual.
There’s a beautiful section in A Course In Miracles. It’s Chapter 30 called The New Beginning, where the principle is, “How do you create the day that you want to have? What are the steps? What’s the formula for creating a happy day at your work?” It’s beautiful. I won’t outline the steps because I torture myself to remember them anyway, although I do remember them. It’s better to read it, honestly. Take it in chapter 30 of A Course In Miracles.
The ending point of this creating the day that you want is that we give ourselves the day we want because that becomes the offering that we get to give to the world. We can’t give the world anything we don’t possess ourselves. You can’t give people love that you don’t possess. If you don’t love yourself, you can’t love anybody any better. It’s one of those little riddles that sits on the head of a pin and you go, “What?”
That says, “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” That’s why we’re all struggling so much. I don’t even go to love yourself. A lot of people I coach, I say, “Let’s get to you liking yourself. Even that would be a win.” Because I often said, “The longest distance any of us will ever travel is from our head to our heart.” That’s the work of resilience. The hard thing is resilience is not something you get to train for. You learn it and you live it by living the hard moments and seeing the possibility. It’s seeing how can I come out of this better, not bitter, and victorious, not a victim? Look to grow from this, not just survive. Come out post-traumatic growth, how do we choose to do this? It’s those pinheads. It’s those moment by moment, breath by breath, and seemingly small choices that add up to the end of our day. When we’ve made the seemingly small choices, not in service of us, we’re in service of the world, then it’s work worth doing.
The chart that we see on the news, and we don’t watch too much news, but for a long time, this COVID-19 chart that everybody’s familiar with, which is this hockey stick looking thing. It’s like, “There are only two cases,” and then there are 6, and then there are 6,000. You go, “Oh my God.” That compounding effect is not just a chart for COVID-19. It’s a chart for how money grows. It’s the compounding effect that Einstein called the greatest miracle. It’s what he referred to it. It’s this idea that small changes. For us in terms of the rituals to create resilience, they’re tiny little things that don’t seem to add up too much. Just like two cases of COVID didn’t seem like it was a threat when we’re talking about it showing up in the United States.
Those small changes that we make, the small incremental improvements that maybe are just 1% even, over time, it compounds and produces a more resilient way of being so that you’re producing resilience before you need it. There’s no question that this will not be the last great challenge of our lives if we’re lucky. The likelihood is we’ll face another challenge a year from now or ten years from now, or whenever it would be in our health or family members or in our business or in some other macro-economic area like we’ve all been hit with this thing that came out of seemingly nowhere. I’m curious for people that are now home doing their business. Some of those people are recovering from a furlough or a layoff. Some of those people are entrepreneurs and they’re trying to figure out how to maintain their outsourcing staff or the people that they employ.The longest distance any of us will ever travel is from our head to our heart. Click To Tweet
Even the larger organizations that you and I sometimes will speak to and their teams. What’s one small tip to build resilience for those people? If there’s a tip that’s more for that larger organization and the teams that are for the first time perhaps working remotely and having to try to maintain connections, and be able to be productive or it’s that person who’s maintaining their own small business or maybe even somebody who’s been laid off. What are some resilience tips we can provide to them?
One is it doesn’t happen in a vacuum. This is part of the book and this is part of the article when we connected. I love this idea by Edith Grotberg and she works with resilience in kids. We often think that we have to do it ourselves. This is why I love your work, Adam, because what I’m saying especially to larger companies, these are the soft skills of the past that are now the hard skills of the future. The things that we could think, “I’ll get to that. I’ll learn how to be more empathetic as a leader down the road. I’ll learn how to do active listening down the road. I’ll learn how to be a coach because there’s always something more immediate to be done.”
EQ is interesting.
It’s a nice option. It sounds sweet.
In a perfect world, everybody would have some emotional thing.
This is the global pause. For the bigger picture, if you choose to look at this because it’s a choice. I’m not saying it’s easy. It’s not easy, but it’s a choice. We get to choose, how do I want to show up as a leader moving forward? Do I want to stretch my resilience, empathy, and courage? There are two things. It seems there’s a human being behind the human doing. It’s not the title. It’s not what they do at work. Everyone is suffering. It’s learning to deal with these other things called global grief and anticipatory grief. We’re going to go back, but we don’t even know what we’re anticipating yet. It’s also, as leaders, learning to say, “I don’t know the answer.” What a concept.
Full transparency, honesty, and vulnerability. Don’t even say it, Petra.
If scientists don’t know, how are you expected to know? What your team does need from you is a sense of security that they can bring their whole self, not just that perfect self. To me, it’s creating a new culture where it’s hope and doubt, possibility and dreams, worries and potential future. It’s not just, “I’m going to bring my best self to where we need to leave room for the emotional intelligence of the workplace.” I’m hoping we’re going to come back. It’s going to be a long game but it’s better than before.
Why? I’m challenging you on this, and the reason I’m doing it is because I want you to do it to me because I’ve said that. I talked about the great opportunity of our day just like in 2008 when people were freaked out as a result of the financial crisis. There were people who were seeing opportunities and creating, growing, and doing things. When Polaroid was going bankrupt, Instagram was getting $2 billion at the same time. A friend of mine likes to say, “Disruption is only disruptive because you didn’t think of it.” The only reason you think something is disruptive is because you didn’t come up with the idea for it. You’re talking about opportunity and I’m asking you to expand on that. Why is this a time when people should be thinking, “There are great opportunities. I should be optimistic.” I used to be able to see eighteen months into my future and now I can’t see eighteen days into my future.
I would invite you to consider, how did that eighteen months look like to you? A lot of us were busy going, that if we look through that heart lens, through the lens of empathy, what do I want for my best possible future? Is that what you want? It’s a great time for us to revisit our values. We became busy that many of us had gone down this fast lane. We now had moved into this road of, “I should do this. I’ve done this. My next move is this.” When was the last time you sat still long enough to ask yourself, “What do I want?” You’ve gone, “I should do this. I must do that. I’ve got time for this.” Now, we’ve been put on this pause and that commute time or the extra time. Instead of shoving in one more Zoom call, maybe get quiet for a second.
I felt like this was the universe going, “I can’t breathe anymore. I’ve given you this beautiful gift.” This is the woo-woo part. I feel like there might have been another option coming down the road that we hadn’t seen yet, like a World War III. There was something way worse than this that we could not anticipate. This is the pebble, rock, brick wall moment where the world went, “I’ve got to shake you up.” This is the bit where I would love to see the opportunity rise. We need healthy competition, but it becomes such a world of us versus them, me versus you. This is the first time I can remember. This is global grief or global pandemic. It’s not us versus them or we’re better than you. We needed to wake up. I said waking up isn’t on a global scale. Why not wake up on a humanity scale and the world that you get to contribute to? It’s a choice. You don’t have to take it. If this doesn’t shake us up for good, what a waste.
It is shaking us up for good. I see signs of it. It’s interesting that my book agent calls this a timeout. He’s a grandpa. He’s saying things like, “When your kids are naughty or your grandkids, you got a timeout.” What he was saying was we got a timeout for good reason. There were things that are in need of a recalibration. We know the environment regardless of what you believe about the environment. You can’t look at those situations and not question, “What can we do about it? Is there a way to make that situation better?” Certainly, when major industrial nations are not putting toxins in the air and producing pollution the way they are for even a period of weeks or months.
Lynne Twist, who’s the founder of the Pachamama Alliance, said that she believes the Earth got 30 years of recovery. When we talk about resilience, it’s not just our personal resilience or organizational resilience. How about the resilience of our planet and the resilience of our resources? Even in the midst of all of this, we’ve given our Earth some recovery time. There’s something for our grandkids or the generations ahead of us that will be thankful for this respite, I suppose so, but we’ll all find out.
What a great idea. I forgot to get back to my point with resilience. I like this idea by Edith Grotberg of the triangle. This is the time for I am, I have, I can. I am is all your strengths. You were amazing before. Let’s elevate our strengths. I have my team and I have podcasts to listen to. I have people around me that I can rely on. It’s not just us and them. I can, maybe I am not empathetic yet. I don’t know how to use technology yet. It’s all the skills that we can do. Resilience is who you are, who you can lean on, and it’s what you can still do in the future should you choose to. It’s like a muscle. You’ve got to use it or you lose it.
I’ve got one last question for you, which was about your resilience. I asked everybody what’s one ritual that you have and has that ritual changed even? I know some of us have had rituals the same ones for many years, etc. Is there one ritual in particular that you have adopted or that you’re doubling down on to produce that greater resilience in the midst of a lot of uncertainty for you, me and everybody? I don’t know anybody that’s got total clarity at this moment, or the ability to see too far ahead. What’s that ritual for you?Resilience is who you are and what you can still do in the future should you choose to. Click To Tweet
The big ritual is I get out into nature every morning. Luckily, I’m in New York City. I live close to the park. I get out and I get into nature because when you go into Central Park, the birds are having a field day. It’s like, “I don’t know what’s going on.” I’ll find a little quiet bench in all these places. I live by Central Park for so long and I find these little new sitting places and I get quiet. I listen to all that’s going on around me. It reminds me of two things. That nothing stops. Nature doesn’t stop and also another side of it helps me remember how insignificant in some way I am in this big global picture. From that place, what has helped me in resilience is serving. Be a servant leader. How can I help? Through that, it reminds me of my sense of purpose moving forward. It’s being mindful at the moment in the park, being a servant leader at the moment, and then helping hopefully move us all forward in the small way that I can contribute.
In the Bible, it’s a term that’s difficult to define. It’s an ineffable thing called meekness. It’s this humility. It’s this getting small or for being able to experience smallness to also be big. The opposite of arrogance that you can say, “I am not just insignificant.” The Earth itself is a tiny speck of dust spinning in an infinite universe. You go, “What does that do for me to recognize that?” In part, it’s this humility and ability to give yourself a freaking break. Give everything a bit of a break. With removing the judgment, you can just be. What else are we here to do anyway? I loved our conversation and the twists and the turns of where we took it.
This is an absolute treat. Thank you, Adam.
I will remind everybody of the ritual I remind myself of. I do this every time because I want to continue to double down on my waking ritual, which is to wake up, to begin with. Petra, did you wake up today?
How cool is that? This is the physical waking but it’s also a metaphor. We could be a little bit more conscious and a little bit more awake each day. If that’s the only goal we have for the development of our lives, we’re doing well. If we can incrementally begin that hockey stick, that compounding effect a little better every day, 1%, 0.5%, or whatever it might be. For me, I go to gratitude quickly because if I don’t go to gratitude, I’ll find myself. I’ll lean into what’s missing or what’s wrong or I’ll lean into aggravation. I grew up in New York and I have a good bit of angst at times.
That’s part of what gives me drive and fire for sure but I also know that it can take me down some dark holes. That’s not a place I want to start my day. Think of starting the day as your garden and I want to plant the right seeds, the right thinking at the beginning. Gratitude is the second step and for me, I express gratitude verbally. I’ll put my feet on the floor. I take ten seconds. This was the topic of the TED Talk I gave. It was all about four simple words that changed my life. I say, “I love my life.” Those are the four words I say at the beginning of the day. I asked you, Petra, do you love your life?
I do, and it gets better and better, all of it. I love my life when I love all of it. Not just the highlight reel.
No matter what.
Life is good all the time.
Can you love your life no matter what? My wife asked me that. In the midst of all this, she goes, “Do you still love your life no matter what?” I’m like, “Yeah.” If you can’t say, “I love my life,” somebody might be reading this going, “It’s somehow easier for you to say it than for me because if you knew what my life was like.” People have sent me those messages on YouTube and Facebook and other places, and I love them. I respect that people are comfortable enough in their own skin to say, “I’m calling BS on that for me.” It may well be. What else could you say? Could you say, “I’m going to pretend I love my life for a moment?” What does that feel like? “I like my life. I love life. I’m in love with life. Maybe my life isn’t the way I want it to be but I am in love with life.” Can you say that at least? That’s the point here. Don’t follow my ritual or Petra’s per se. Create your own consciously.
That’s why the name of the show is The Conscious PIVOT. It’s about what we consciously create for ourselves that matters. It’s not that we follow the influencer of the day or somebody who gets up at 4:30 in the morning or somebody looks the way we wish we looked or any of that other bullshit. Create something that works for you and give yourself a break. Forgive every moment, that’s what I would say. That’s all I’ve got for now. Petra, thanks for being a guest.
Thank you for having me.
Ciao for now, everybody.
- Petra Kolber
- The Perfection Detox: Tame Your Inner Critic, Live Bravely, and Unleash Your Joy
- The Four Agreements
- The Untethered Soul
- Courage: The Joy of Living Dangerously
- A Course In Miracles
- Pachamama Alliance
- TED Talk – DOING THIS for 10 Seconds Can Change Your Life!
About Petra Kolber
Currently, Petra Kolber is working to support teams and individuals to thrive and flourish during these challenging times. Using the science of positive psychology along with humor and interactive presentations, she gives tips and useable strategies on how to strengthen resilience, manage focus, elevate mindsets and deepen relationships.
She is a collector of stories and information and have the ability to host or moderate online events so that they are engaging, uplifting and educational. Her superpower is energy, active listening and ability to engage an audience whether in person or online so that they feel heard, seen and valued. Petra is an educational energizer bunny and can happily host for one – eight hour events.
She is a trusted teacher who, through clear, concise and researched-based methodologies teach humans how to live their “yes” life now.
She use keynotes, workshops, DJ experiences, writings, and online coaching to give her audience actionable tools and strategies that help them break the glass ceiling of their out of date belief system. She create a pathway that allows people to stop hiding their gifts so that they can start helping others.
She’s the author of the book The Perfection Detox: Tame Your Inner Critic, Live Bravely and Unleash your Joy and the host of The Perfection Detox Podcast.
Her focus is mindset, specifically on shifting their focus from all that we believe we are not to working in our existing strengths. By utilizing practices from the science of positive psychology she teach humans how to make these positive beliefs a daily habit.
She create workshops, retreats, and programs that combine evidence-based inspiration with real-life applications.
As a two-time cancer survivor, she passionate about waking people up to the power of their own story and the precious gift of time. Her mission is to inspire people to move to happiness. Whether presenting to a group of 1,000 or at an intimate gathering of 10, 1 bring heart, humor, energy, and empathy to all of her presentations.