Dr. Richard Shuster (pronounced Shoe-Stir) is a clinical psychologist, TEDx speaker, CEO of Your Success Insights, renowned media expert, and the host of The Daily Helping podcast. In this replay episode, we look back on his insights about the future of work after it has been disrupted by COVID-19. He joins Adam Markel to discuss how to navigate the long-term impact of the pandemic both at home and at work. They talk about the necessary innovation every workplace must embrace to meet the ever-changing demands of employees and the entire market. Dr. Richard also shares the right approach to handle stress and anxiety, as well as the best way to build resilience during uncertain times.
- 00:00 – Introduction
- 04:20 – Dr. Richard Shuster’s Origin Story
- 09:51 – From Insufferable Materialist To Licensed Clinical Psychologist
- 18:51 – The Ramifications Of The Pandemic On The Psychological Well-Being
- 27:19 – Thoughts On Returning To “Normal”
- 34:01 – The Future Of Work
- 39:37 – Resilience And Managing Stress And Anxiety
- 44:16 – How To Empty Your Bucket And Embrace Gratitude
- 48:28 – Recovering From Stress
- 55:53 – Conclusion And Contact Details
How do we leverage continuous uncertainty to thrive in this unprecedented new world?
The answer is to build the resilience we need to power us through the challenges we face so that we become “Change Proof.” Prepare to tackle the future with confidence by reading Adam’s latest book Change Proof: Leveraging the Power of Uncertainty to Build Long-Term Resilience.
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What’s In Store For The Future Of Work With Dr. Richard Shuster – Replay
Dr. Richard Shuster is a Clinical Psychologist, TEDx speaker, CEO of Your Success Insights, renowned media expert, and host of The Daily Helping Podcast. His mission is to help people become the best versions of themselves and make the world a better place. In this episode, we talk about how people can cope with the stress brought on by uncertainty and the profound long-term impacts of the pandemic, both at home and at work.
Dr. Shuster shares his thoughts on what the future of work will look like and how organizations should adapt to meet the needs and demands of employees. He also shares his personal pivot and a near-death experience that opened his eyes to becoming the man he is currently. In this episode, you will gain important insights into dealing with stress and building resiliency in your everyday. Sit back and enjoy this replay of my conversation with Dr. Richard Shuster.
I am feeling wonderful because I made time for my morning practice, which I do pretty consistently. I would say almost every day, but not every day do I get a good chunk of time to not feel rushed through my morning practice. I don’t know if you all have any morning routines or rituals. I know a lot of people do. Obviously, part of our show is talking about resilience. My own beat on resilience is that it’s about recovery, not about endurance. The greatest form of recovery that I know of personally is morning ritual, spiritual practice. Some people pray, some people meditate, or whatever it is that you do, maybe just sit in stillness. I frankly love to pray. A prayer could be anything.
For me, in the morning, it was simply gratitude. Just feeling grateful. I’m so happy that the guests that I have on the show, just before we were getting ready to record, that’s what he said. He was filled with gratitude. I knew we were immediately kindred spirits. As they say, simpatico. Read a little bit about this gentleman, and then we’re going to dive right in.
Dr. Richard Shuster is a Clinical Psychologist, TEDx speaker, CEO of Your Success Insights, renowned media expert, and host of The Daily Helping Podcast. I love the name of that show, which is regularly downloaded in 150-plus countries. His mission is to help people become the best versions of themselves and make the world a better place. Is it okay if I call you Dr. Richard?
It’s so great to have you on the show. I read your condensed bio, but there’s a lot in it. What’s something that is not in that bio? Maybe one thing that you would love for people to know about you?
I have a competitive barbecue team probably because I love barbecue. It sums it up. It’s funny because I go on a lot of these shows. Some people want to read the voluminous manifesto of everything that I’ve ever done in my life. Yours was short and sweet, but when you drill it all down and peel back all the layers of the onions, for me, everything that I do is about helping people in some way, even if it’s of no benefit to me. In fact, in most instances, it’s of no benefit to me. We can talk about the science of that as we get into things, but I’ve never been happier. I’m having fun. We’re going to have fun. I’m looking forward to this. I’m grateful to be here and hope I add value to your audience.
I already know that’s going to be the case. I love to start with an origin story. You’ve been on a TEDx stage. Our company, among other things, trains people to get on a TEDx stage, deliver their idea, create their idea, craft their idea, deliver it, etc. One of the things that we do typically in that work with people and training them to create a script, to begin with, is to find their origin story, the first domino, if you will. I’d love to get a sense of what’s the origin story for you in terms of the life that you’re leading right now.
Actually, that was the nature of my TEDx. I talked about my origin story in that. When I was in my early twenties, I would not have been a candidate to come on this show. I was insufferable, arrogant, never wanted a family, and only focused on acquiring stuff for the purpose of having stuff. I used to use terms like The Empire Building. I did refer to it as the Shuster Empire. I would get on eBay and look up private islands I was going to name after myself. I’m not kidding about any of this. Including you can buy islands on eBay.
When I was at that age, I bid on a government contract with the Department of Defense that I had no business whatsoever, and I won the contract. This was not building bombs or missiles or anything like that. This was simply to build the HIPAA secure pipeline for all the medical records in the army between two military bases. Still a big deal, but in my mind, I was off. I was going to be the next Tony Stark before anybody knew who Tony Stark was.
Everything was humming along gloriously until one day, I was in a car accident in which I broke my spine and almost died. The interesting thing is that there’s a phenomenon known as tachypsychia. I didn’t know about this at the time. I can speak to this with some authority now that I’m a psychologist. This is something that we’ve known that soldiers have experienced. The best way to describe it is the first time Neo is in slow motion in the matrix and those bullets are going by him and he’s looking around. Basically, the brain slows down our perception of time.
When we’re in imminent danger, so we can get the heck out of there. This car accident for me was maybe a three-second span. In which the car slams into me from the side, I’m sent spiraling into oncoming traffic, my airbags have already gone off, and then I crash into a telephone pole. We’re talking maybe even three seconds. At that time, it was like Neo in that Matrix moment. I could see the center console slowly crushing into my ribs like it was an empty can of Coke. I could see my shattered windshield, little bits of glass floating in the air, the sunlight reflecting off of it. It’s all very surreal.
The thought that I had to myself was not one of, “Dear God, please let me live and if you do, I promise I’m going to be a good person for the rest of my life.” It wasn’t like that. I was dead. I became overwhelmed with shame, guilt, and grief. I knew my parents, who were out having a great time on a Saturday night with their close friends, were about to get called that their son was dead. My brother was going to find out that I was dead. I was thinking about this car that was almost paid off that I can’t take with me. The watch I was wearing that I was so proud of wasn’t going with me.
All of these thoughts flooded me at that moment, and then I hit the telephone pole. Spoiler alert. I survived. Here I am still. That was the catalyst. It didn’t happen right away. I’d love to say I balled up a fist in the hospital bed, shook it at the sky, and said, “I’m going to change lives and do this stuff forever.” It was a process. Recovering from that broken spine and having all that time to think about where I was going in my life, that was the catalyst. That was the origin story or the moment that began what I’m doing.
That’s the inflection point of the story. It’s interesting, the collecting of stuff. We’re gluttonous in many ways, meaning that we collect a lot of things that we don’t necessarily need. Did you go through a period after that where you started to get rid of things? How did your attitude about things in particular change?
The first thing that changed is I stopped researching islands to buy. I didn’t go through this necessarily purging of stuff, but I looked at things very differently. I thought, “What did I need? What value did I assign things?” We all like stuff and there’s nothing wrong with having things because something that has intrinsic value to me might not have intrinsic value to the next person. I think where we get into trouble is if we’re buying stuff because our neighbor on Facebook is posting about it and, “I got to have that too to keep up with the Joneses. It’s if we’re getting it for the wrong reasons.There is nothing wrong with having things because they have intrinsic value. We get into trouble when we buy stuff because our neighbor on Facebook is posting about it and we just want to keep up. Click To Tweet
For me, I started being more mindful about stuff that I needed and what did I need. I no longer wanted to have a fleet of cars. I no longer wanted to have Omega or Rolex swatches just for the sake of being able to wear a different one every day of the week or something. It became more of a focus on what matters to me. As I went through this journey more and more, it was the people in my life. More and more, it was finding that thing that brings me joy and fulfillment because it wasn’t the work that I was doing. I went back to work after I recovered.
Were you a psychologist before this happened?
No. Never. I was a partner in an IT consulting firm. In fact, even though I did my undergrad degree in Psychology, I remember having beers with my buddies on the last day of school, saying, “Here’s to never setting foot in a classroom ever again for the rest of my life.” How wrong that was. That wasn’t even on my radar. I was going to build this massive consulting empire. That’s what I thought I had to do. I went back to the work, but everything was this achromatic shade of gray. I thought it would be the money and it wasn’t. I was more unhappy day by day to the point where I eventually walked away and quit with no idea what I was going to do. That was the most terrifying moment of my life. I knew I had to make a shift and I had to pivot.
I walked in, I told my partners I’m out, I’m gone. I go from about 80 hours a week to nothing. That was scary. I was sitting in my place for months alone and I was wallowing in regret. “I shouldn’t have done this. I shouldn’t have started that business. I shouldn’t have gotten that contract.” All the while, there are people in my ear, because when you do something unexpected like, “I’m going to start a business” or “I’m going to go on an American idol,” whatever it is, when we tell people we’re going to do that, you’re going to have people in your ear. A lot of times, those people are in your ear, and they don’t even necessarily do this out of malice, it’s just when you buck the trend or when you do something unconventional, people like conventional.
They like safety.
That’s right. One’s telling me, “Go be a financial planner. Go to medical school. Go to law school.” Everybody was telling me what I was supposed to do, but I wanted to find my path. It’s so wild when you take twenty years and reverse do the breadcrumbs of what led to this and what led to that. I don’t know what I would be doing if that accident and that story happened in 2021 because we have things like Instacart and we have things like Amazon Prime and Fresh. Back then, you had to go to the grocery store. You had to go to places. This was circa 2002 at this point.
For me, the first taste was I had gone to the grocery store because I needed food. Nobody was going to bring it to me. I overheard these two women talking about their teenage daughters on MySpace. They were a little freaked out, making inappropriate gestures, everyone was in a bikini, and taking these pictures. This is pre-cell phone, but MySpace was the thing. I’m not typically the person who goes and interrupts other people’s conversations, but in this moment I did because that’s the world I was in, network, technology, and security. I said, “These are some things you need to think about to keep your kids safe online. Sorry to interrupt, but I just overheard you.” Their eyes got huge. I didn’t mean to freak them out, but I did.
One of them was the school’s PTA president and said, “Will you come to talk at our school?” I did and it was weird because there was no agenda. I wasn’t up there trying to sell anything. It was simply me helping other people with the knowledge and skills that I had acquired doing my IT stuff. That was the first inkling of this little light glowing in my heart that maybe I was onto something here. There was a guy in the audience who was actually on that city’s cybercrime unit. He said, “You’re a good speaker and you can say things to civilians that we can’t in law enforcement. Would you team up with us?” Now, I’ve got a speaking circuit. How did this happen? I’m talking to schools and I’m educating parents.
At one of these, a guidance counselor came up to me and said, “We’re desperate for male mentors. We have a lot of female mentors but no male mentors,” which I’d never done anything like that before. I said, “I’ll try it.” They gave me a kid who was in the seventh grade. His parents had split and he was acting out. I’m not so arrogant to say I’m the reason why he changed, but I was certainly a part of that change process. That was another little, “That’s exciting and that feels good to me. I wonder if I can make a career out of that.”
I went and got my Master’s in Social Work first. That was my first Master’s. I worked with families. It was right when Hurricane Katrina happened when I was in school. Where I was living, there was a lot of influx of evacuees from New Orleans, so I worked a lot with Katrina families. It’s powerful. I just continued and got my Doctorate in Clinical Psychology sub-specialized in Forensic and Neuropsychology. That was the thing.
Whenever you go through something like that, you put this ambitious goal, you put it up on the wall and you’re like, “I’m going to be a psychologist.” This seven-year odyssey between internships, boards, this, that, and the other. The funny thing is now I’m not even doing that work at all, which was another pivot. The journey for me to get from being this insufferable materialistic person to a licensed clinical psychologist was about this twelve-year journey.
Before we hit the record button on this show, I said to you we had almost a commonality in where we went to school because you’re a Michigan State grad. You’re a Spartan. I only know about the Spartans because I went out to see the campus and meet the swimming coach back in the day. I almost became a Spartan. Instead, I became a minuteman. It’s funny to say it, but UMass Amherst, University of Massachusetts at Amherst, that’s where I ended up going to school. Fortunately, I did in so many ways because I met my wife, Randi. We’re college sweethearts.
I don’t even know what’s more surreal about that. The time that has gone by in such a blink of an eye or the way that our love has developed beyond my comprehension at the time. What we fell in love and I asked her. The other thing too is we didn’t go to the same school, but I was close to going to Michigan State. Ultimately, I meet Randi, my wife, in Psychology 101. That’s how we met. It’s the only psychology class I ever took.
I’ve never said this before, but I took my first psychology class because there was a girl I liked that had signed up for it. I didn’t end up marrying her.
Child psych. Back in undergrad. I want to ask you, I know that you’re not a day-to-day practicing clinical psychologist these days. Still, in looking at the pandemic, not just looking back at it because it’s not released its grip on so many people and so many segments of our world. There’s a mixed bag of things, both difficult and challenging for folks, and some wonderful blessings that have already begun to emerge. We’ve seen a lot of that already as well. What would you say, as a clinical psychologist, might be the biggest issue you’ve noticed regarding what’s gone on?
There are a lot of statistical things that we’re getting wind of. I’m not trying to tie all this stuff together, but there’s a rise in suicides, anxiety, and depression. I know my pivot story’s a little different than yours. I didn’t end up in the hospital because of a car accident. I ended up in the hospital because of a panic attack. I know what anxiety feels like. I think the statistics are pretty stark there across the board in a lot of demographics, especially with young people. Of course, we’ve seen a rise in mass shootings and things of that sort as well. Not to try to put any bow around a big topic like this, I just want to get your thoughts on it as a clinical psychologist.
It’s interesting because I don’t believe that we’re going to know the impact on emotional well-being for people for years as to what the fallout of this is going to look like, in particular for young people. One of the things that was striking to me was that we dropped our kids off to camp. They started camp. It was neat, though, because another sign that things are starting to get back to whatever normal is.
My other litmus test is, you go to Costco and the sample people are back. That’s a good sign that we’re on our way as a society. In all seriousness, what was wild, the drop-off for camp with the carpool, you show up, you open your door, your kid gets out, you wave goodbye, and you’re done. They unload all the campers’ cars in basically 15 to 30 minutes. In this instance where my kids go to camp, not only did it take two hours, but it also caused a traffic jam in the community because the cars were backed up all the way down the road.
The reason why is that these young children who hadn’t done anything since the pandemic were terrified to get out of their car and were afraid that they would get coronavirus if they went to camp, much in the way that we’re in uncharted territories in a lot of ways for the younger children. As an adult, we can process this. We can rationalize information. We can take things and say, “A+B = C.” Young children don’t necessarily do that and they manage things very differently.
I think the data that’s going to be interesting is to see what are the long-term ramifications. I don’t think they’re going to be good for children. I think you’re going to see increased separation anxiety. You’re going to see issues with this pervasive fear like, “Could this happen again?” What I think is also very interesting, and I hope I’m wrong about this, but I don’t think so, is that we get primed as a society for certain things. What I mean by that is, if you’ve ever been in South Florida or the East Coast between August and November, what starts popping up on your television around late August? Hurricane season.
Hurricanes one after another.
There are a number of things in play. 1) We’re living in a period and this is the way it’s going to be forever. There is a 24-hour customized information cycle that’s just for you, Adam. You’ve got your information cycle. Everybody tuning in to this has their information cycle. I should use my old man voice. It used to be that you’d watch the news.
You should do that for sure.
I’ll see if I can keep that up. You’d have the news at 5:00, 6:00, and 11:00, and the national news at 6:30. They would talk about, “Here’s a hurricane.” You’d get your news. If you lived in an area where you’d be impacted by the hurricane, you would take the appropriate action. Now what do you get? Now you’ve got Weather.com and you’ve got all these things that are bombarding your phone. Now, we name winter storms. We do all these things.
When things enter the vernacular and when we become conditioned as a society, and this is not a tinfoil hat thing, this is science, they become part of the expected norm. Just like there was no such thing as road rage. It didn’t exist until somebody made up the road rage. What it did was it took the personal responsibility away from people and now you could allocate it to road rage.
With this pandemic, we as a society and as a planet have not dealt with anything like this since 1918, when the world was quite different. What’s happened is now we’re primed. We’ve gone through this experience. It would not surprise me if, hopefully not this year, but in the future, we wake up and all of our phones are blasted with this news update as we’re reading our morning news. If we do that, “New strain of coronavirus completely resistant to all forms of vaccines. Lockdown 2.0.” We’re primed for it. We’re ready for it. We’re not ready for it emotionally, but we’re conditioned to expect that that’s a possibility.
It’s a very long-winded and possibly tangential answer to parts of your question, specifically addressing the other aspects, the anxiety, the depression, and the increase in violence. There’s been a tremendous up click in domestic violence. We know that that’s a significant thing. Drugs and alcohol use are up radically. This goes back to a part of what I was talking about before is that we’re not built for this and our biology doesn’t change or at least does change but over millions of years.
We are designed as species to encounter stress. We have a neurobiological response to deal with whatever that stress is. The response is to get the hell out of there so that we have safety, and then we hormonally return to baseline, our heart rate returns to baseline, and we go back about our day, foraging, hunting, and doing what we do. It’s the saber-toothed tiger analogy.
What coronavirus was, is a saber-toothed tiger that’s in our house. Everywhere we look, whether on TV, our phones, or in our communities, that’s all anybody talked about for a year. Understandably, this is uncharted territory. It’s been that saber-toothed tiger. Whereas these stress hormones are supposed to flood our systems to help us run and then get some degree of homeostasis and normalcy, we’ve been bombarded with that. You don’t get a break physiologically. The information stream, wherever you’re taking that from, is going to be based on this. It was doom and gloom. We didn’t know what they were telling us initially.
I want to reflect this to you and see if I got it right. On some level, it’s the crisis du jour. We talked about the fact that hurricanes are just one part of that crisis du jour, but because of the way we are so connected to news cycles and to curated news cycles or personal news cycles based on algorithms and things we have no control over. Basically, we’re being fed a slow drip, like an IV drip of things that trigger that fight-flight, that trigger cortisol, that trigger other chemicals so that they’re just always trickling or dripping in inside of us versus, “I didn’t see that coming.” We respond in the moment, and then we go back to this equilibrium or homeostasis or somebody might call it something else. Our heart rates return to normal and we go about our day.
It doesn’t seem like we’re getting a break from it. As you described, to have the saber-toothed tiger is not just a thing that happens every so often and we deal with it, it lives with you. We don’t know what the ramifications long-term are. We’re seeing short-term things that appear to be aberrational or at least appear to be, you’re seeing a trend with greater violence, higher incidents of alcohol and other abuses of drugs, etc.
The question is, I don’t know that there’s any returning to normal. Normal is like returning to the past, and we can’t return to yesterday. I’m not sure. I think people want to go back to something we call normal and that in and of itself is another stressor because normal is not returning any more than yesterday is. Am I wrong about that?
No. I’m not a virologist, so I can’t speak to herd immunity and all of these fun things, but it’s what normal represents to the individual. If normal represents taking their kids to a Yankees game, the people in Yankee Stadium, and not cardboard cutouts, that’s some semblance of normal. There’s going to be a return to something, but we don’t know exactly what that is. The next question is, what happens next? These vaccines appear effective. I took mine, full disclosure.
As did I.
It’s pure effective, but what happens? There were a lot of people who didn’t take them. For whatever reason, they didn’t. It’s not a political statement. They didn’t take for whatever reason.
It’s entirely a personal choice.
That’s right. What happens when Ticketmaster now has a new edict that says, “If you want to go to a concert, you have to prove you’ve been vaccinated.” There’s probably half of you saying, “Yeah, I got my vaccine. That sounds reasonable.” There may be some of you saying, “Now, I’m left out of things or I’m left out of family events.” This is such a complicated thing that we’re only starting to look at the possibilities of what things are going to look like. I know that I can say this with confidence, businesses are never going to be the same.
Commercial estate is never going to be the same. Businesses found out pretty quickly that, “Our employees are working from home. We’re still turning a profit.” Health and wellness, the home-bound employee, that’s a different subject matter. From a revenue-generating standpoint, my company’s virtual, if I own a multi-location company with brick and mortar and I’m paying all the things that are involved in maintaining a commercial property, why am I doing that? When we take away the thing that was a normal part of the way things had been done forever. You’d go to work and you’d come home.
Get up in the morning, eat, drink a cup of coffee, and go to the office.
Kiss the wife or husband goodbye, going to the office, and come home. All of a sudden, it’s different now. What we know is that there are two things that happen when an employee works from home. This is pre-COVID data. Employees tend to work more hours when they’re at home than when they’re in an office because there are no boundaries anymore. That’s a problem when you used to shut it down from 4:00 to 6:00 PM. It’s a problem now when an email comes in at 9:00 PM and you’re expected to deal with it. There’s pressure. “This is work. Work is work.”
I think those are the things that we’re going to wrestle with. Certainly, we’re social beings, so the fact that we were isolated for so long, obviously will increase emotional distress. We need to be around each other. We need to be around people. Thank God that’s happening again, but there’s a ton of fallout that’s still to come from all that.
I’m fascinated about the topic that we’re on right now, which is the impact on the future work in the present work because statistics are all over the place. For the most part, many employers are finding that they didn’t achieve productivity gains during the pandemic. There are some that did. Some more culturally resilient organizations were taking care of their employees’ health and wellness, mental wellness, physical wellness, etc.
Those companies that were committed at that level and understood that it’s not about encouraging and rewarding even the behavior of the night owl. The person who works the extra twenty hours a week. It’s rewarding the behavior of practices and routines that enable a person to go the distance. That enables them to recover as athletes do from stress and the exertion of competition, etc., so they can continue performing at higher levels.
Organizations that understood that going into the pandemic fared better during the pandemic. They were the more resilient ones. That is a small percentage of organizations globally. The opposite was true for so many, which is that they were used to exhausting their workforce. Whatever they could squeeze out of them, get the most out of them for the amount that they’re paying them. With those organizations, productivity fell off the table. Now a lot of those same companies want to bring their employees back. Bring them back into the office or the commercial space, as you said, because that’s where they have some control over what they do with their time.
It feels like there’s already tension between the employer on the one hand that wants to bring that person back or those teams back into the space to collaborate, be creative, and produce more. Those same employees have been working at home and learned on some level that it is a challenge to create boundaries for your time when there’s no separation between the workspace and the home space.
Yet those employees, in many cases, millennials, would like to now maintain that control over their working conditions. If they’re on a Zoom and in there, they have a shirt on, but they’re still in your pajama bottoms, that’s okay to do because it’s how they’ve gotten used to doing it and gives them a lot of personal freedom. What can you say about that? Any thoughts on that?
My other business is in this space of employee wellness and balance. It has been pre-pandemic. I’ve already been here. What’s interesting is that you do have that conflict. There was already a bit of a cultural conflict because Millennials work quite a bit differently than Gen X-ers and Boomers. That’s a whole other show in and of itself. You already had this generational divide on what you thought work should be. The example of the pajamas was perfect. One of my favorite guests I’ve ever had on my show was Bob Burg, The Go-Giver. Bob’s amazing.
When Bob wrote The Go-Giver and talked that everything a company does should be mission-centric in helping people, a lot of people looked at that and were like, “That’s nonsense.” Over time, that’s taken hold to where many businesses now have a value latent built-in mission into why they do what they do. This is something that Millennials, in particular, strongly gravitate towards because they want to work for companies that know that they’re doing good on the planet.
Right, Simon Sinek.
Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh. You’re right, it was, and Bob Burg’s book came before.
He was the godfather of that. I think the analogy to that is apt when we’re talking about wellness with employees because you’re right, it was a small percentage of companies that had pre-existing mechanisms to deal with the overall wellness and happiness of their employees. The data is so clear on this. Employees that have balance, employees that feel fulfillment, respected, part of a team, and feel safe to be able to express their values, those companies thrive. The retention rates are higher. There’s so much good data on all of this stuff.Companies that thrive and have high retention rates are those with employees who feel fulfilled, respected, part of a team, and safe to express their values. Click To Tweet
I don’t care that the reason why was because they lost revenue during a pandemic. I’m just glad that we’re going to see organizations moving towards this is some nonsense that you need one HR representative to go around to 1,000 people and occasionally pop up an email and say, “How do you feel? Here’s a link to our EAP,” to having wellness being a focus primary table setter for the organization. That’s a positive thing that came out of this pandemic.
I’m so happy you brought that up because I do feel like there is a shift there. Among the work that I do more frequently is the keynote for organizations, delivering workshops for organizations that get hired for that quite a bit. The topic that I’ve been speaking about for years now is resilience.
I have a book coming out later that’s all about resilience. We’ve been training and teaching about resilience for a long while now before that was fashionable, I suppose. In fact, resilience, for the most part, was thought of as a soft skill. When you talk about homeostasis or helping employees produce an equilibrium of balance or work-life harmony, these are seen as soft skills pre-pandemic. I think right now, organizations have a sense that this is anything but soft.
I’d love to get a sense from you. You have a company called Your Success Insights and you’re involved in a podcast called The Daily Helping. From your perspective, how you yourself look at this topic of resilience and how you speak about it in those outlets where you have influence. Just because so many people define it differently. In fact, I almost feel as though there are as many definitions for resilience as there are people to ask to define it. I’d love to get your beat on that.
If my kid asks me, “What’s resiliency, Daddy?” If somebody knocks you on your ass, you get up and keep going.
That’s funny because those of you watching this on YouTube, I’m flipping around with some pictures on the screen.
There he is. There’s Rocky. I love that. Rocky is resilient. It’s the belief. I’ve had two pivots. I know we don’t have time to talk about my second one probably, but through my podcast and, in particular, through my company, I became focused on finding ways through algorithms and technology that we’ve developed to help people achieve that balance. With resiliency, there are a lot of things that go into that. There’s internal resiliency.
Why is it that if you take two people and you put them through the same situation? Let’s take a hurricane since we talked about that earlier. Why can somebody who saw everything they own get washed away? Why is that person going to say, “It’s just stuff? Do not miss a beat.” That’s person A, but person B may never recover from that emotionally. They’re traumatized and that’s where they stay. They stay focused pretty much for the rest of their life.
It’s such a complicated thing. You have a genetic predisposition. You have a degree of pre-existing stress in one’s life. The best analogy that I was taught when I was on my internship at an inpatient forensic hospital in Florida by a supervisor who defined stress like this, “It’s a bucket of water. Anxiety and stress are the water. Everybody’s got a bucket. For some people, their buckets are higher. When you’re talking about resiliency, the people who are the most resilient are able to empty out their bucket quicker so that it doesn’t spill over and ruin their lives.
Being able to manage your anxiety involves a variety of factors. 1) What degree of support system do you have? How is your health and wellness? Are you in a morning routine to start the day? Are you engaging in wellness practices so that you’re better equipped to handle stressors? Is it all, “Look at this, here we go?” Mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual. I love that because it’s holistic.
It’s not just Rocky. It’s not just about taking the physical hits and getting back up the way.
It’s being able to take the mental hit. For me, I’ve had a high degree of self-determinism. I think I learned a lot of that from my late father, who was an entrepreneur and he was a dentist and did his own thing. Doing your own thing can be scary. There are many factors that go into resiliency. We call it a multifactorial to throw out a $5 word your way. At the end of the day, it is that combination of, “Can you get back up? Do you believe that you can take the next punch?” The next punch is always coming.
Anybody that thinks that this is the last time, you said earlier, the last time, we’re going to get challenged in this way, that’s silly. In fact, the likelihood, as you pointed out, that we’ll get challenged again similarly is pretty high at this point because it is now part of this collective consciousness. It’s interesting because I think we all have to understand that the time to develop your resilience is now. I want to get your sense of this, too, because if you don’t agree, I want to hear it. I feel that resilience, while there are epigenetics involved, there are genetics involved and there are all kinds of things that would predispose a person to be resilient.
Even to the point where kids that have had adverse life experiences early on in their lives are in many ways more resilient if they’re still around. Yet it can be learned at any age. I love the way you described that. I’ve never heard that analogy used before, but to be able to empty your bucket regularly so that it doesn’t spill over is a pretty interesting thing. How it is that you do that? That leads to the next question I have for you. What do you do to empty your bucket? You’re an entrepreneur. You’ve got a lot of things going on, as many of us do. What do you do for yourself to keep the bucket from spilling over, as it were?
Time for me is always of the most valuable resource I have. I build personal time into my schedule. That might be, “I want to try this wild Korean barbecue restaurant or a recipe I learned about online. I want to watch some Marvel movies with my kid. Spend time with my wife.” Whatever it is, I build it into my schedule. I make sure. If anybody is saying, “That’s easy for you to say, Dr. Richard, I’m too busy.” BS. We can always find a way. Maybe it’s 20 minutes in the morning before we start our day. Maybe it’s during lunch, we spend ten minutes to meditate. There’s always a way to build some of those protective factors into our lives that we can utilize so that we’re better insulated when things hit the fan.There is always a way to build protective factors into your lives that you can utilize so that you are better insulated when things hit the fan. Click To Tweet
Emptying the bucket. I want to keep to that visual for myself because I think we feel somehow that we get more points at work, or with people, or in heaven. I don’t know where. Just because we have the capacity to be busy all the time, sometimes I’ll ask an organization. I’ll say, “Are your people too busy to think big?” Are they too busy, too overwhelmed, too burned out even to think big? Thinking bigger and broader is what we all have to do at any point in our lives.
Going back to the start of time, we wouldn’t have fire if somebody didn’t think bigger and broader. We certainly wouldn’t have an automobile or a plane or a moonshot or anything else. To be able to think and act in accordance with those greater, bigger, and broader ideas and even dreams, it’s everything. It’s certainly everything in business. I think it’s everything to the human heart. We perish if we do not have a big vision.
It’s Maslow. If you don’t have basic food and shelter, how do you self-actualize? If you’re always running around like a chicken with your head cut off, where do you have the space to reflect, plan, and dream? You have to allow yourself that space at an organizational or individual level. You have to.
As we are winding some things down here, if there’s something that we covered or maybe even didn’t cover that you would love to either close an open loop here or even put something else in for emphasis. I’d love to get your final thoughts, Dr. Richard.
Years ago, I was on top of my game. I had just done my TEDx and signed some big contracts and life was perfect. I suffered a stroke and almost died. I am not the type of person you would expect to have a stroke. I don’t drink. I don’t smoke. I’ve never done drugs. I’ve had some friends tell me that’s probably why I had my stroke. In all seriousness, I ate right. I worked out sometimes twice a day, seven days a week, and meditate. I did everything and it still happened. It’s because I was out of balance. I didn’t think I was.
The lie that I told myself and many entrepreneurs do is that “It does not work if you love what you do.” If you’re working an incredible degree and your body will tell you, you might not want to listen, but it’s so important to have balance. It’s so important to take the time to do things so that the bucket, if not fully empty because the bucket’s never fully empty, but keep that water level low. If you do those things, you’ll be all right. We’ll all be all right.
It’s not stress that kills us. It’s the lack of recovery from stress that kills us. Even as I heard somebody say, “It’s not stress. It’s the way we define stress. How do we see stress?” Our mindset around it and our mental outlook on it have a great deal to do with it as well. For example, we’re going to finish up the show and I’ve got some other things going on. We’ve got a mini TED Evening that we’re producing with three of our folks that are going to deliver their talks.
In between, we have this place that we live in a few months of the year, more than a few months now that we’re empty nesters. I’m going to go down to the water and I’m going to get in the water and swim in the ocean. Get on Instagram and in places. Talk about self-care and doing these things.
It feels on some level like there’s a lot of that conversation happening. I always feel a little strange about that, too, because there are genuinely people who, if you’re working a job right now and it’s an hourly wage job, and sometimes it’s a minimum hourly wage job, you can’t go to the beach and have a swim. It’s not possible for a lot of people to do that. Yet, while that might be an ideal of sorts, it’s not the only way to take care of yourself.
As I said, the most important time of the day is the first ten minutes when I can sit quietly. On a great day, I got to sit longer than ten minutes. Be where I’m peaceful and create peace on the inside that permeates everything on the outside for me. I can’t control whether I get an email that’s disturbing or some other shitty piece of news. There’s no controlling. Uncertainty drives us a bit batty, doesn’t it?
It does. Like anything else, whatever comes at you, you have control as to how you react to it. I know intuitively that if somebody robs me, I’m going to feel this way. I’m going to be upset.” We have control over how we react. Most importantly, we have control over how long we allow that thing, whether it is an email, hurricane, or pandemic, to impact us. Knowing that is freeing because if we realize we’re in control, we can turn inward with gratitude, with love, and focus on the good things instead of being impacted outward by outward things.
I hope you’re enjoying this episode of the Change Proof show. If you’ve not yet gone out and gotten your copy of Change Proof, it’s not too late. You can get your copy right now by going to ChangeProof.com. Not only getting the book and all the bonuses there but getting access to our proprietary resilience assessment tool. It’ll take you three minutes to do. It’s something that will help you to utilize the book even more effectively to create practices, rituals, and habits that will increase your mental, emotional, physical, and even spiritual resilience for the long term.
When we focus on that, it can’t be in two states at the same time. You can’t be grateful and fearful at the same time. It’s physiologically impossible.
They’re mutually exclusive.
That’s right, so why not be grateful?
Wrapping this up, I love the analogy you provided us. I’m going to continue to come back to it again and again, Dr. Richard. To me, what you truly do have control over is how you empty that bucket because of that drip, the email here, it’s this news, it’s that situation, it’s what I saw on TV. It’s my blue team or my red team. Drip until the bucket fills up. Again, sometimes it’s called the straw that breaks the camel’s back. In this case, it’s the bucket that spills over because there hasn’t been a conscious and concerted effort to empty the bucket or to empty the stress of the bucket.
That’s why it’s so vital that no matter what you do for a living or where you are in the world, your rituals and the routines that you create for yourself create recovery zones. Whether those are 10 minutes to sit quietly, 20 minutes to take a walk, putting your feet up the wall and closing your eyes in the middle of the day, or just go hug somebody or volunteer, do something that makes your heart feel good. Whatever it might be. These small things clump together collectively and help to continue to empty the bucket so that it’s not one thing after another that produces a disease of a sort. I appreciate your time. I so appreciate the conversation we had.
I loved it. It was great being here.
Everybody, have a wonderful rest of your day. Before you go, if you know somebody that would benefit from hearing what it is that we’ve been discussing and that Dr. Richard and I have been talking about, please feel free to share this episode with them. Of course, we also love to get your thoughts because your comments and feedback are vital to us. You can leave a comment at AdamMarkel.com/Podcast.
Also, I’ll give you a URL that is powerful too. We want people to know where they stand at this moment when it comes to their own mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual resilience. You can go to ResilienceRank.com. Three minutes is all it takes to answer sixteen questions. The assessment will take about three minutes and then you’ll get a score as well as resources.
It’s entirely free. We’re not selling anything there. It’s a very good way for us to help you to find out where you’re at at this moment. We so appreciate you taking the time to do that. Lastly, Dr. Richard and I both did a TED Talk around the same time. In my talk, I shared my waking ritual, which is three easy steps. I want to remind everybody right now, if you haven’t heard it and this will be the first time, wake up. Dr. Richard, did you wake up?
I sure did.
I could tell. Some of us were still in the process of waking up. Wake up. In that moment, you realize you’re getting another day. You are waking up. You can realize, too, that there are people who are not waking up at that moment. They didn’t get the blessing of a new day. You can feel gratitude as Dr. Richard was saying how gratitude is so important. That’s step two. Just feel gratitude at that moment that you wake up and realize it wasn’t guaranteed when you went to bed the night before.
Third, lastly, if you feel inclined to do it, put your feet on the floor and say something out loud to start your day. I used to put my feet on the floor back in the day when I was a practicing attorney. I spent eighteen years in that field. When I used to put my feet on the floor, I used to feel anxious to begin the day. Sometimes even worse feelings than that. Sometimes the words came out of my mouth, I can’t repeat them right now. They’re rough. Now, when I put my feet on the floor, I say the words that are written on my T-shirt at this moment. Four simple but impactful words for me. “I love my life. I love my life no matter what.” I wish you all a beautiful and blessed rest of your day, everybody. Dr. Richard, thanks so much for being a guest on the show.
I loved it.
- Your Success Insights
- The Daily Helping Podcast
- Richard Shuster
- The Go-Giver
- Start with Why
- Delivering Happiness
- Change Proof
About Richard Shuster
Dr. Richard Shuster (pronounced Shoe-Stir) is a clinical psychologist, TEDx speaker, CEO of Your Success Insights, renowned media expert, and the host of The Daily Helping podcast which is regularly downloaded in over 150 countries. His mission is to help people become the best versions of themselves and make the world a better place.