If You're Struggling To Stay Motivated, You Need To Watch This | Impact Theory Q&A | Transcription
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What is up everybody? Welcome to a very special episode of Impact Theory. I'm gonna be taking your questions today and we're gonna be talking about how to stay motivated even through the most difficult of times. And this is one of the weirdest times I think any of us have lived through. And so this is gonna be a great opportunity for you guys to hit me with the things that are pressing on you right now. And for me to have a chance to see if the things that I think are actually going to help you through, I would give you those answers in real time. I actually don't know what you guys are gonna ask. So I'm super excited for this. And for everybody that sent in a video, thank you for submitting those and without further delay. Here we go, question number one.
Motivation And Advice
- Hi Tom, my name is Kyle from Alpthoram. I'm a business owner. My question is about exercise. During the start of the COVID, I decided to focus on one objective only in double's exercise. And I got in a mindset where I felt very motivated every day to do my exercise. And I made it to a 70 day streak without missing a beat. And that would be between half an hour to 45 minutes body weight exercise and then another hour of cardio. And about six weeks ago, I kind of lost the motivation. And I just can't seem to find it anymore. What is your recommendation or process to find that inner drive again to keep on doing it? - All right, I love this. So motivation comes in waves. That's the most important thing to understand is, and that's just neurobiology. So that's true for everybody. Motivation is, it is a very complicated cocktail of beliefs, of excitement, thinking about what you're going to achieve. It is how your calorie count is, how much sleep you've gotten, all of these things bundled up. And so it is inevitable that sometimes you're really gonna feel it and sometimes you're not. I am blown away that you were able to get a 70 day streak. Most people go their entire lives and not be able to string something like that together. So some of what we're gonna be doing to get you back in that space is to remember what it was that had you stoked in the beginning. So a big part of motivation is always about actually wanting that thing at the end of the rainbow. So what is your pot of gold? What is the thing that made you wanna do this in the first place? And so when it comes to working out, personally, I absolutely hate working out. So I understand anybody that has motivation for a minute and then ends up burning out. I get that so much, I can't even begin to tell you. So here are the things that I do to make sure that even as these sort of ebbs and flows go of my motivation that I stay on track, number one is making sure that you want that thing at the end, that you're actually excited about that. So you've gotta be honest with yourself about what it is that you want. So often people are judging themselves for what it is that they want that they don't double down on focusing on that thing. So let's say that you just wanna look good when you naked and that is the God's honest truth about what is getting you excited about this and what you're gonna wanna say is, "This is about longevity, I just wanna be healthy, I wanna be my best self." But in reality, you're just thinking about six pack abs, washboard stomach or the way you look when you catch yourself in the mirror, whatever is real or if you're like me and you're a psychopath about wanting to live forever and that really is the thing that motivates you, then lean into that. But don't let other people's judgments about what you should want, color what you actually want. So that's the beginning. Focus on what is it you really want? What is it you really care about? Grab onto that focus on that, start fantasizing about that again, spending time thinking about what it would be like to actually have that? Because you said a word in your question that I wanna take exception to, which is that you wanna find your motivation again. You don't find motivation, you build motivation. So we're gonna build that motivation back up by admitting what we really want, by focusing on it and getting hype about it. And then we also want to find a way to really fall in love with the process. So what is it in the moment, in the act of actually working out that you can get into? Is it the getting stronger? For me that was huge, like knowing that I was getting stronger and I needed to associate something with that. You wanna have a self narrative around showing up and doing this thing. When you know other people can't, they won't during COVID, during lockdown, they're getting worse, they're getting weaker, you're getting stronger, you're getting better and people are so weird about competition. But my friend, let me tell you, one of the most controversial posts that I posted recently, which I did not expect to be controversial, was that I was talking about business, but I said this is a competition, which is patently self-evident in my opinion. But being willing to compete with others and to have a self narrative around striving and pushing and doing more than other people are willing to do, that shit will feed your soul in a way that I can't convey. And people that are afraid to compete, people that are afraid to lean in, people that are afraid to make huge demands of themselves, they will fall by the wayside to the people that can have that discipline, that get excited about pushing themselves, being accountable, being consistent. Because ultimately, those things lead to an actual outcome, meaning you actually do get stronger, you do get better, you look better, you have better longevity, better stamina, whatever it is, whatever that thing is that you're motivated by, you really can achieve that, but you have to be consistent. Now, I got motivated just answering your question. So I'm very hopeful that that motivated you as well. All right, what's up next? What do we got?
What advice would you give an artist right now? (05:55)
- Hi, my name is Lydia, I'm a violinist and an actor, an American living in New Zealand now because of coronavirus. I lost my jobs on cruise ships. So I'm just curious, Tom, as to what advice you'd give to artists beyond doing live streams, so like dancers, actors, or performers. What advice would you give to them how to deal with the corona situation, what skills should artists be focused on, and how can they maximize this quarantine for the best opportunities? - Well, I love that. So being an artist right now, this is like the best possible time to have something that you can do by yourself, that you can improve on by yourself, that's ultimately gonna have real world consequences for you when we get to the other side of this. So here is, and something tells me that if you're playing professionally, you already know this, but here's the reality about greatness. Greatness is about doing the things that are tragically boring and that you have to repeat over and over and over to get better at them in a deliberate way. You don't just wanna repeat them blindly, but in a deliberate way buckling down and doing the things like for a musician, playing your scales, practicing your improvisation, practicing your cold reading, all of the things that are very easy to put off when you have a job and you're busy and you're making a living, it's kinda like typing. What they find is most people sort of, their typing rate, if I remember right, it's like 65 to 70 words per minute, is where most people tap out, but I think the record is somewhere around 250 correct words per minute. So if the average person is tapping out around 65, but the delta is all the way between 65 and 250, you begin to see like how far you can really push yourself, but people get to a level that they deem acceptable and they just sort of stop there. But because everybody is being forced to shut down right now, if you're a musician and you're saying, look, I'm not worried about streaming and going live and all of that, which I think there's a whole question to be answered about doing that and about how you could generate even more revenue by going online, but you asked me to set that aside, so I'm gonna set that aside. But right now is that chance to embrace a level of boredom that most people are not willing to push through in order to get to greatness. So in a business context, I always tell people boredom kills more entrepreneurs than anything. It kills more entrepreneurs than fear. Most people, they just can't slog through sucking at something and sitting in the discomfort that you get from doing the things that you're not good at long enough to get good at even those things so that you can truly go out and create art. Because I don't think you can create real art until you've mastered the basics to the point where, as Bruce Lee said, you don't think kick, you just kick. And I love that quote and there's another Bruce Lee idea which is, I don't fear the man who knows 10,000 kicks. I fear, I don't fear the man that does 10,000 kicks one time. I fear the man that does one kick 10,000 times. And that is this moment. And if you can take this downtime and let go of how good it feels to perform, I have to imagine a big part of the reason you got into this and that you did all of the work when you were younger to get good is because you love performing so much. But right now, that's basically off the table. So if in this moment you can buckle down, be disciplined, set your sights on something very specific that you wanna get good at, discipline practice at that thing to get good at this on the other side of this, you're gonna be far more extraordinary than you were when you went in because you no longer have the distractions of the actual performance you can just get down to practicing. So flip that switch in your mind and think all about coming out the other side of this, a beast, an absolute monster, better than you went in. And if you can tell yourself that story, I'm committed to this, I'm willing to do these things that other people aren't willing to do and put in the practice and understand, as you're going through that unimaginable boredom, that on the other side of this is a skill set that has utility, then this becomes an extraordinary time. But if you keep telling yourself the story that so many others are telling, which is this is a time of deprivation, it's just lamenting that you're not able to perform and all the things that made you love music in the first place, then just because you're repeating that, it becomes a dark time. Focus on the other side and you will get through this amazingly.
Give advice for someone in an extremely high-stress situation. (10:28)
All right, what's up next? - Hey, Tom, I'm Ono, I'm from Canada and I am an author. I have a two-part question for you. The first part is you mentioned before that under an extremely high stress situation, it takes you up to 45 minutes to bring yourself back down to a baseline. So the first part of my question is, what kind of stress was that that took you up to a 45-minute window? Because I know that as a general rule, you're very good at mitigating your stress and bringing it back down very quickly. So I'm just curious what kind of stress that was. And the second part of my question is, do you handle your meditative practice differently depending on what kind of stress is the trigger? So for example, if you are fearful or if you are angry, for example, do you do anything differently, physical activity or anything like that? Or is it always the same process? Thank you. Okay, so I will answer those in reverse order and I will say that I don't change my meditation practice based on the type of stress. The reason is meditation for me is not a spiritual act. Meditation for me is entirely biological. So when I think about why meditation became so powerful for me, it was because from the very first diaphragmatic breath that I ever took, I felt immediate movement from the sympathetic nervous system, which is fight or flight into the parasympathetic nervous system, which is rest and digest, literally from the first moment that I intentionally took a diaphragm breath, I felt relief is probably the right word. So because I felt an immediate reduction in my level of anxiety.
Immediate Effect of Diaphragm Breathing in Vagus Nervous System (12:19)
So that is, it is immediate, it is biological. So there is a feedback mechanism from the brain to the body and the body to the brain that when you breathe from your diaphragm, if you learn how to do that well, that you can't stop it from moving you over into the parasympathetic nervous system. I pause there because there are things that could be wrong if you have a certain type of nutrient deficiency. If you look up the importance of vitamin D, which is a hormone, actually a hormone precursor that you get from exposure to the sun, you can also supplement, and K2, you can actually get either where you don't have one or the other or they're not in the right balance and you can get into a position where neurologically you find it very hard to move over into parasympathetic. But I'm gonna set that aside for a second and just say, if you're reasonably in balance from that perspective, when you take that diaphragm breath it shifts you over. So no matter what I'm feeling, just doing a, it's sort of a variation on box breathing where it's a four part breath cycle, you breathe in through your nose with a diaphragm breath, you hold on the inhale, for me it's very brief, you exhale for me I just let the air out and then you hold on the exhale and then you repeat the cycle into your nose, out through your mouth. And when I do that with proper diaphragm, breathing, I just, man, it is really amazing how rapidly I can shift into being calm. Now, like you said, there are sometimes in my life where I've been so extraordinarily stressed out that it takes me, what I will say is a very long time. So, but the good news is that knowing that I'm never more than 45 minutes away from being at what I call no background radiation. So anxiety for me feels like background radiation and when I'm completely calm, I feel like I've gotten that to zero and I'm in a calm and creative state. And the times that I've been most stressed are times where you're dealing with hundreds of millions of dollars that the decisions that you make are not only affecting you, but they're affecting other people, they're, you know, you're affecting your employees. Like when you have your own company, there really is a tremendous amount of weight if you're not a sociopath with knowing that your employees' livelihoods are tied up in this company that you're creating and that they're trying to take care of themselves. They're trying to take care of their families and you're all intertwined and that the choices that you make don't just affect you, they affect other people. And so that's when I feel a much heavier burden is when I feel like this isn't just about me, man. This is about other people. And when it's about not just me, but other people and there are huge sums of money, huge consequences at risk, that was the time in my life 'cause it was the first time that I had ever been in that sort of extreme circumstance where, yeah, it took me a good 45 minutes to calm down. All right, next question. - Hi, my name is Eva Choi. I own a small business in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. I have a question about motivation and team and leadership. It's been almost five months since the pandemic has been announced and my husband, who's my business partner, he and I are pretty tired because we also manage a family, three children who were elementary school-aged. In the meantime, our team, our fulfillment and customer service teams have been taking a pretty good beating in the land of customer service. Clients are triggered, clients are emotionally fragile. Clients are very, very demanding during these times. For the most part, our team has been really great about it, but it's seeming to take its toll. I was wondering if you had any nuggets of information on how I can help lead my team to keep them hopeful and optimistic and positive through these times. Thank you. - Yeah, wow, I love that you're asking that question. Anybody that's thinking about that is thinking about the right things. One of the things I think people don't understand about being a CEO is that ultimately being a CEO, running a company is almost, I mean, it's 70% people. I mean, the strategy is definitely important, but man, momentum isn't about moving fast, or I should say it isn't just about moving fast. It's about getting a group of people pointed in the same direction and moving fast. And so understanding how to galvanize a team and get them pointed in the same direction is really, really critical. So in this specific time, number one is leading by example, always and forever. If you want to do anything when people are involved, whether it's kids, whether it's somebody you love that is there's a piece of advice you definitely desperately want them to take and they're not taking it, whether it's your company. The answer is always first and foremost lead by example. That is critically important. So you want to be hopeful, you want to be optimistic. You want to show them through your behaviors and your actions time and time again within a human level of consistency, exactly how to face adversity. Now you don't want to bullshit, you don't want to lie. You want to make sure that you're doing the work to make sure that you're keeping yourself hopeful and optimistic. Now, how do we stay hopeful and optimistic?
Stoic Philosophy for Expressing Hope & Optimism Despite Adversity (17:48)
We have to have certain beliefs in place and we have to have certain rules in place. So first of all, as it comes to rules, I know that I always need to be moving forward. I can't ever be afraid to make a decision that I would rather be running 1,000 miles an hour in the wrong direction than standing still. Okay, that rule has served me very well. Now why is it better? Tom, you're running in the wrong direction. That's way worse than standing still. Not true. The reason that you never want to stand still is there's zero progress made when you stand still. When you move, you're at least learning, even if you're moving in the wrong direction. Failure is the most information rich data stream you will ever encounter. Let me say that again. Failure, moving in the wrong direction, is the most information rich data stream you will ever encounter, meaning you're gonna learn a lot. So now when you turn around and you start moving in the right direction, you're making a huge amount of progress. So even though yes, you have to backtrack, it's still far better than standing still and not learning those lessons. So that is huge. So you have that rule. Now beliefs, you need to believe that if it doesn't violate the laws of physics, then you can solve the problem. What happens is most people stay in this frame of mind where all they can see are the problems. And right now, there is an avalanche of problems. It is so easy to get mired in the problems. But if you have a belief that as long as it doesn't violate the laws of physics, this is possible that any obstacle can be overcome, that you just have to figure out what it is that's going to allow you to go over this obstacle, under this obstacle, through this obstacle, around this obstacle, whatever. But you know that giving up is not an option.
Now it's like, cool, hey, even if I fail, even if I mess up, I'm gonna learn. So there's some hope, there's some optimism, right? You can meet your team with a truism, something that you actually believe. You can use Jocko Willing's language, which he says anytime something goes wrong. His only response is good. The enemy is bearing down on us, good. We don't have enough equipment, good. And because he meets it with that, he stays in a solution-oriented mindset. Now, you always wanna be in a solution-oriented mindset. When all you're doing is focusing on the problems, and the most sinister thing about excuses is how valid they are. So I get it, you have every excuse in the book for things to fail, to not be optimistic, to not be hopeful, I get it, and it's all real. We are going through the most devastating time for a business ever. And how do I respond to that? Good. Because I know in this there's going to be a solution, and I'm gonna figure it out where a lot of people are gonna break because they're not gonna be able to get their head in the right place. So my team can see that I'm hopeful, I'm optimistic, because I have that belief, because I have the rule to be moving forward, to figure this out, to not be afraid to fail, and they see me with that, like, almost naive optimism, always moving forward, but they also see me learning from my mistakes, reorienting, and moving forward again. If you can do that, you're actually gonna get results, and nothing is more hopeful than results. Word.
Balancing family life and goals (20:46)
All right, who's next? - Hey, Tom, I appreciate the consideration for my question. My name's Jonathan Piscileo, and I am in the Charlotte, North Carolina area. My motivational question is really about balancing family life and the time that you allocate to pursue all of your dreams and goals. So I have a young family with two daughters, beautiful wife, two beautiful daughters, and they're young, they're three years, and six months. So I'm not even sleeping through the night yet, right? So I think I've done a great job over the last three years, transforming my mindset to really be crystal clear on where I spend my time, and removing activities and things that were enjoyable, but it didn't really help me pursue my dreams. But now I'm at the point where I'm almost feeling like a failure or behind, or I'm not accomplishing enough fast enough, and I've removed those things. So now it's all that's left, this family time, and it's already hard enough with young children and a wife who works full time, as well as myself. And so my question is how do you coach students or entrepreneurs that are in this boat with a young family and feeling like they're grinding along and they're not making enough progress, but they feel like the only alternative is to take away more family time. I'm really struggling with that, and any advice would be great. Thanks so much.
What are your top 3 goals and priorities? (21:59)
- All right, this is so critical. You have to know what your priorities are, and you have to be able to close your eyes and imagine what a win looks like. The big problem here is that so many people either don't have clarity on their goals, or they have conflicting goals that they've never resolved. So I will state what my priorities are so you can see exactly how I've organized my life. So number one, without question, in no uncertain terms, by a massive margin, my number one priority is my marriage. Now, why is my marriage my number one priority? My marriage is my number one priority because nothing, and I mean nothing, not the level of success. No awards, no amount of money, nothing has brought me the kind of joy that my marriage brings me. So I am hyper protective of that. Now, that actually doesn't get the bulk of my time. The bulk of my time goes to my business. Now, here's something that's really gonna freak you out. I'll give you my top three priorities. Number one, my wife. Number two, my business. Number three, my family. Now, that is fucking hard for people they hear, but that's the truth. Now, that doesn't mean that I don't love my family. It doesn't mean that I don't give them time and energy, but it does mean that the reality is that I have many times sacrificed something that I wanted to do with my family for my business. And being able to say that out loud, letting them know, making sure they feel to the core of their being how much I love them, because that is not a statement on how much I love them. That's a statement on me closing my eyes and imagining a win. And what does my life look like? My life looks like I have this marriage. It's fucking awesome and it feeds me emotionally. I have this business where I get to express myself. I get to learn and grow. And so my business is just, is the way that I manifest potential. To me, turning my potential into actual usable skills, it needs an outlet. That outlet for me is my business. So you could say, it's not really about my business. It's about the pursuit of greatness. It's about me wanting to go all in on my own life and express myself through the vehicle of business. But that shit means something to me, man. And I told my wife, you can ask me to give up anything in this world, anything except ambition. Don't ever ask me to give up ambition because I value that in myself. I value myself for my willingness to sincerely pursue greatness. Okay? So now you have to have that clarity on what your tops are. And you can't have two competing number ones. It's not family and business. If it's fucking family, man, lead your life according to that. And if you're not having the wins that you want in your business, who the fuck cares? Your number one priority is your family. Crush it, man. All in, kill it. Do whatever it takes. Unconflicted. I have chills on the back of my head because that is so true. Like if you wanna be, if a win to you is being the greatest dad and husband of all time, then be the greatest dad and husband of all time. And if your number two priority is building your business, then it's in second place. And it's gonna get what it can get. Now, that doesn't mean that you can't be really hardcore about second place, but one, don't value yourself for results. I will tell you right now, all the wins and business that you're ever gonna get, all the money in the world. It's powerful, it's amazing, and you will love taking care of your family. But even that was a reorientation back to your true number one if I had to guess, which is your family. So be focused on that, right? This was really about my family. If the business isn't working out, if it's not going the way that you want, look, it's gonna be lame, it's gonna suck, but you're gonna have to alter your mind to remind yourself my number one priority is my family. And what I value myself for on the business side is not accomplishment, it is not success. So decide what your priorities are and don't flinch. Don't be conflicted, don't try to have my businesses as important as my family, and really don't value yourself for accomplishment. It's all about sincere pursuit, okay? You cannot guarantee the success, but you can guarantee the struggle.
What if I care about my family first but i love business (25:54)
So you need to extract value from knowing that you left it all out in the field. And that's it, so all you can do. All right, next up. - Hey, this is Lydia. I'm a film student, but my film career just kind of started very suddenly out of nowhere, very unexpectedly, and which is great, but I've been handed a lot of responsibility and I have really no idea what I'm doing. So I am constantly anxious. I tend not to show it, but I'm having a lot of trouble relaxing and just handling that pressure. So how do you remain confident and don't lose your mind when you have no idea what you're doing? And there's a lot of pressure on you. - Okay, so a few things on that one. Number one, there is a great quote, and I'm definitely paraphrasing from Jim Kerry, and he said, "Until you have been in a position where people tell you that your whole career hinges on this moment. There are people watching you right now, and if you impress them, it's gonna be good forever, man. It's gonna make you, but if you mess it up, you're never gonna get a chance like this again." He said, "Until you've been in that position five times and screwed it up every one of those times, you haven't even begun." If you're really showing up and you're giving it your all and you're trying to do your best, and you end up messing up and you even get fired or something like that, I promise you, in the grand scheme of things, it won't matter. What will matter is what do you learn? Do you actually get better from that? So if you go in and fail, but you're learning and growing and applying that, even if you get fired, you're gonna be able to leverage that learning. Now, I will tell you as an employer, I'm not worried about whether people fail. What I'm worried about is, are they learning? Are they looking for ways to contribute that are beyond their job description? Are they all in for their own reasons? I don't want people trying to impress me. I always tell my employees, "Don't do it to try to impress me. Do it because you wanna be great. Do it because you wanna get good at this thing." And you just so happen to work here at this moment, but you're just trying to be amazing. And when you've got people that are going hard like that for their own reasons, they wanna get good. They're not afraid to try something. They're not afraid to fail because they know they're gonna learn, they're gonna ask, they're gonna push, they're gonna be great teammates, they're gonna be hopeful and optimistic. They're gonna be fun to be around because they're trying to get good. And they know that failure is a part of that process. So they're not weighed down by it. They're not fretting over every little thing. They just get in there and they throw some punches and they see what works, what doesn't, they're always getting better. That die-hard mentality, I love that shit so much. And it also, by the way, as the boss, as the person that can't be fired, I love seeing other people do that 'cause it gives me the sense that I get to do that too. Now, yes, of course, I'm setting the standard.
Handling High Pressure Situations
How to get good in a high pressure situation (28:37)
I'm leading by example and all that, but it's still awesome to see other people doing it. And you're like, "Yeah, that's right. "This is real. "This is a great way to learn and get better." And we wanna lift people up that are doing that. So one, have that in your mind. Even if the current place you work is full of psychopaths and if you don't do it perfectly, they're gonna fire you, you can move on to the next one with that knowledge and hopefully find a group of people that wanna see people pushing the envelope. Then the other is you're gonna have to learn to manage your anxiety. Leaving it untreated is going to become a problem. Trust me, I'm speaking from experience. So learning to meditate and anxiety is so complicated, but meditation is huge. Your diet is huge. I think almost certainly what we're gonna find over the next five to 10 years is that the single biggest factor in terms of whether or not you experience anxiety has to do with your microbiome. Okay? I won't go into that here. We're staying focused on mindset and motivation, but I think that keeping your diet right, exercising, getting sleep, these are all gonna be hugely important. So let yourself off the hook, don't hold yourself to some crazy standard. Go mess up, go learn, it all stacks. Knowledge stacks, you'll be able to take it with you wherever you go. Learn to meditate, eat right, exercise, sleep. That's the key, there it is. That's the truth, that was the gospel right there. All right, everybody, thank you guys so much for those questions. Staying motivated during these difficult times is critical, but ultimately it's up to you. It's not about gimmicks, it's about what are you repeating in your head? What are you allowing yourself to believe? What are you focusing on? What's your identity? All the things that we just talked about over this last whatever, 40 minutes, 50 minutes, like getting that in your head, that becomes the critical part so that you're staying optimistic, you're staying hopeful, you're moving, you're going a thousand miles an hour in some directions so that you can learn, you're practicing, you're meditating, you're keeping your mind in the right place, you're focused on one belief of nothing else, which is that if it doesn't violate the laws of physics, it is possible and you're getting yourself excited about what you're trying to achieve. If you get that cocktail right, there really is precious little that you can accomplish. So remember, we're all in the middle of a lockdown and the only way that we should greet that is by saying good. So here we are, make the most of it everybody. All right, if you haven't already, be sure to subscribe and until next time, my friends, be legendary, take care. - Something out loud, it's 10 times more powerful than if they think it. And then as we started to study the data, particularly data that was just reinforced by Christine Porath from Georgetown and Harvard that negativity is a multiple of four to seven times more powerful than positive.