"What differentiates the really exceptional from the really great is that discipline, that consistency, and that ability to endure a lot over a long period of time, no matter what life throws your way."

Polina Pompliano

Immerse yourself in my discussion today with Polina Pompliano on resilience, decision making, and the power of the mind in handling unexpected situations. She shares strategies from industry leaders, astronauts, moguls, and entrepreneurs  to maintain control during challenging circumstances, the impact on our identities, content diets, and how to build lasting resilience and confidently make important decisions. This episode offers a wealth of insights for anyone seeking to embark on a journey of personal growth and self-discovery. By harnessing creativity, building resilience, and shaping our identities, we can navigate through adversity and become the best versions of ourselves.

Follow Polina @polinapompliano

Follow Chase @chase_chewning

Key Highlights

  • Creativity and Breaking Rules

  • Building Mental Toughness and Overcoming Challenges

  • Building Resilience and Making Decisions

  • Navigating Risk and Shaping Identity

  • Becoming More Rational

Episode resources:

EFR 732: The Secret Ways of Thinking That Power the World’s Most Successful People and How to Uncover Your Hidden Genius with Polina Pompliano

Immerse yourself in my discussion today with Polina Pompliano on resilience, decision making, and the power of the mind in handling unexpected situations. She shares strategies from industry leaders, astronauts, moguls, and entrepreneurs  to maintain control during challenging circumstances, the impact on our identities, content diets, and how to build lasting resilience and confidently make important decisions. This episode offers a wealth of insights for anyone seeking to embark on a journey of personal growth and self-discovery. By harnessing creativity, building resilience, and shaping our identities, we can navigate through adversity and become the best versions of ourselves.

Follow Polina @polinapompliano

Follow Chase @chase_chewning

Key Highlights

  • Creativity and Breaking Rules

  • Building Mental Toughness and Overcoming Challenges

  • Building Resilience and Making Decisions

  • Navigating Risk and Shaping Identity

  • Becoming More Rational

Episode resources:


0:00:01 - Speaker 1 Before we kick off, I would love to know what was the main reason for writing this book. What was that scratch that you were? Excuse me, what was that itch that you were looking to scratch most?

0:00:11 - Speaker 2 Yeah, so ironically, things in my life a lot of times I haven't necessarily sought them out, it's more of like an opportunity came about and I was curious enough to pursue it. The same thing happened with this book. It wasn't like I had an idea for a book and I was out there pitching my book to various publishers. In reality, what happened was I had a newborn baby. She was three months old. I was in no position to be writing a book.

I didn't have the time, I was exhausted, I wasn't sleeping, but I had been writing this newsletter, the profile, for five years and I got a message on Twitter from an editor at a publishing house in London and all he said was I really enjoy your newsletter. If your thoughts ever turn to writing a book, let us know. I was like well, I'm never going to let you know because my thoughts will never turn to writing a book. But I was curious about the process of publishing a book. I was like what better person to learn from and ask questions to than an editor at an actual publisher? I got on a call with him and I was honestly just asking him questions about general questions. What does the publishing process look like? Do authors normally come to you or do you seek them out, things like that. He could tell I was curious, but he could also tell that I was not in the right mental space to be writing a book.

The way he lured me in was he said just send me a quick summary. If you were to write a book, what would it be about? At that point in time because I had been writing my newsletter for five years, which studies the world's most successful people I was like I've been writing and curating profiles from a lot of these interesting people but I've never actually boiled it down to the lessons that I've learned from them. A book would be something very, very practical that I've learned from all these people, because in my experience I've read a lot of books that are stuck in the theoretical and they don't bring it back to the practical. You read and you say, oh, this is amazing information, but I don't actually know how to implement it in my own life.

I wanted to do that if I would write a book, then, piece by piece, little by little, I got hooked into this process, never pitched another publisher, never spoke to another publisher. I was like I'm just going to do this because it's good experience and I'm curious about the process. It came together somehow, day by day, minute by minute, I wrote a book.

0:02:54 - Speaker 1 That's such an incredible and really unique backstory to book writing that I think is pretty uncommon. Thank you for sharing that. Diving into the work, the first thing that stood out to me is a question that I think a lot of us face or will face in pursuit of personal development self-help. Scratching that itch, so to speak. That was what distinguishes the truly exceptional from the merely great. Because many of us might feel and rightfully so like we are achieving greatness. Whatever our definition of greatness is, we are getting stronger, we're getting happier, we're getting more successful, we're getting more fulfilled, we're getting. Insert our own marker for success here. But maybe this is where a little bit of comparison syndrome sneaks in or we begin to question ourselves or how do we maintain this? The question is how do we know if we are exceptional? Can that be an intrinsic benchmark? What was your discoveries around this?

0:03:52 - Speaker 2 Absolutely. There's a lot of people that you will encounter online who have hacks for becoming great or becoming exceptional or successful. Those hacks are typically something like I wake up at 5 am, I go on a three-mile run, then I go in my ice bath, etc. Etc.

0:04:12 - Speaker 1 My morning routine is five hours and then I have lunch and then I start my evening routine.

0:04:17 - Speaker 2 basically it's just all the routine exactly, and that may work for some people, but I personally don't think that success is found in the hacks here there. Make sure you wake up and drink your water and then get in your ice bath, sure, but that's not a marker for success To me. I was way more interested in the mental frameworks or the way that we live our life, that you can take something and internalize it and then apply it across different areas of life. In one instance, for example, I talk about the compound interest of trust. If you think of trust as how you earn interest on, let's say, capital, but instead you're earning it on your relationships, with every interaction you earn a little bit of trust interest. So, in other words, the longer that you keep your promises, the better the quality of your relationships will be, the more trust interest it'll kick off. And so in the book I talk about a framework or a formula that goes like consistency plus time equals trust. So, in other words, if you want to earn someone's trust, whether it be in a professional setting, a personal setting, in a business setting, all you have to do is make promises and keep your word for over a long period of time and that'll earn you trust. A lot of people don't do that. They think that one interaction will make or break a relationship, but in actuality, it's the little things that you do that earn trust a little bit along the way.

So with, for example, practically speaking, with my newsletter, the Profile, when I started it in 2017, in February, I said my promise to the reader was I will publish this newsletter every single Sunday morning.

Since then, of course, life events have gotten in the way. There have been weddings, there have been funerals, I've had to fly across the world at a moment notice all this stuff that life will throw your way. But I knew that I had to be consistent in order for the reader to trust me and ultimately back me with their dollars. So since February of 2017, I haven't missed the single Sunday, because that is my promise to the reader and that is what I deliver on a weekly basis. So when, in 2020, I turned on a paid layer to the Profile, people were happy to back me financially because they knew I was trustworthy and I wouldn't just run off with their money. I would continue delivering the newsletter. So this works in any area of life and I think what differentiates the really exceptional from the really really great is that discipline, that consistency and that ability to endure a lot over a long period of time, no matter what life throws your way.

0:07:23 - Speaker 1 I really do think, basically, blanket statement yes, absolutely, I agree.

I think in this day and age, proving first and foremost to yourself, but absolutely to an audience of one of 100, of a thousand of million, that you can be disciplined, that you can be consistent, that you can keep a promise to yourself and to other people, is really becoming something that is going by the wayside.

And I know a lot of people, especially in, we'll say, the creative space you know, you're a content creator, you're a podcast or you're a newsletter writer that consistency becomes less possible when we don't have those proper markers for success built in or even conceptualized down the road. So we know how to pause, how to take those wins, how to refuel our systems, our product, our service, whatever to keep us going, because motivation is fleeting. Right, we can just keep doing something for the sake of keeping doing it, but ultimately we're going to run out of steam, we're going to run out of funding, we're going to run out of a lot of these reasons. If we don't have that initial strong why and can keep a promise to ourselves or to somebody else along the way.

0:08:39 - Speaker 2 Exactly, and I think keeping the promise to yourself is the foundational step, because that's what builds confidence in the long run. You know that you are capable of doing this. So, like you said, when somebody comes to me and they say hey, polina, I'm thinking of starting a daily newsletter, like I'm so excited, I'm so fired up. And I'm just I always tell them please don't, because I know that.

0:09:02 - Speaker 1 Unless you're starting with like three months of head batched up, kind of thing Exactly.

0:09:07 - Speaker 2 Even then, even then, at some point you're going to run out and you're not going to be consistent. So it's better to always bake it into your daily life and start with a slower cadence, because it's easier to speed up than it is to slow down. People will always be happy if you say I'm starting with a monthly podcast or a monthly newsletter and then over time you're like I can do this weekly, versus I'm going to start with a daily newsletter. Oh wait, I don't have that much time. I'm going to move it to monthly. You can see the difference and in the commitment to whatever you're doing is evident, whether it's to yourself or to your reader.

0:09:50 - Speaker 1 I love what you said there about how it's easier to speed up than it is to slow down, and I'm curious to get kind of your unpacking of that because personally I've noticed over the years in personal work or in professional work, personal commitments, professional commitments whenever I have chosen or felt I need to or should slow down, it feels like kind of a bit of disappointment, like I'm letting myself down, I'm letting my audience down there. I even say a little bit of shame around, I'm not keeping my word or I I can't uphold the standard that I said that I could, whereas when I ramp things up, it's usually out of excitement, it's motivating, it's I can't wait to share it. I feel like there's something inside of me that is totally new and therefore it just has to come out. Do you feel the same way? Do you feel like there are more maybe unfavorable emotions or even identity wrapped around the slowing down versus speeding up?

0:10:51 - Speaker 2 Totally, and I think that a lot of people will say, oh, I'm starting something like the profile, like my newsletter, and into me I'm always. I'm never afraid that somebody's going to copy what I do and do it better than me, because I definitely know I'm not the smartest, I definitely know that I'm not the best writer, but what I do know is that I'm the most consistent. There have been so many newsletters that have come and gone, but I continue to send it every Sunday and over time it starts to compound and grow even faster With the speed up and slow down. It's almost as if those first like, let's say, six months is almost like a trial period for yourself, where, if you force yourself to only publish once a month, you'll feel if you're still excited after six months, you're like I can't wait to publish this again and then you're ready to publish every week.

But if you start super hot and then you burn out which is possible if you do something every single day and then when you hit gosh in Bulgarian we have this saying that's called like it's like the sleepy Sunday or something. Basically, when you hit that like rough patch where it's like really muddy and you don't want to do it and the excitement is gone. What do you do then? Do you still continue to do it to keep the consistency, even if you don't feel like it, or do you give up and you say you know what, I'm burnt out, I need to slow it down, which is not a bad thing. It's just that, like you said, you almost feel like you over promised and under delivered. Where you want to do the opposite, you want to deliver every single time, and then I think everybody is happy in that scenario.

0:12:41 - Speaker 1 You know, speaking of mud, this reminds me of a quote that you have in the unleashing your creative potential section from Da Vinci, and it goes it should not be hard for you to stop sometimes and look into the stains of walls or ashes of a fire, or clouds or mud, or like places in which you may find marvelous ideas. You know, I think oftentimes that we try to force creativity, but this quote quite clearly recommends kind of the opposite, I think. So what creative potential awaits us in the mud, in such places?

0:13:15 - Speaker 2 Okay, great transition. By the way, that was excellent.

0:13:18 - Speaker 1 I couldn't have planned that any better. I was like how's she gonna bring up a Bulgarian mud quote? Yeah, that's great.

0:13:25 - Speaker 2 So good, so okay. So I love this because, in a way, creativity you get away from that. I need to feel inspired mode of creativity and it becomes a daily practice. So when people ask me, what do you do when you're stuck or you have writer's block or you don't have ideas, I tell them that that never happens because I usually carry a tiny notebook with me everywhere I go. So if I overhear a conversation that I find interesting, I may not know how I'm gonna use that in the future I just think it's interesting, so I'll write it down, and then you have a notebook of little tiny ideas or germs of an idea that you could potentially later turn into something else.

I learned this from so many different types of creative people. For example, grant Akitz, who's one of the most innovative cutting edge chefs in the world. He sees the world he calls it through a kaleidoscope of food. So because he's a chef and he's focused on the dining experience, it's not to say that the only places he can get ideas is from a kitchen or another restaurant. The way he gets ideas is from his entire world. So as he's moving throughout his day. He's going to a museum, he sees a large scale painting and he says why can't I eat off of that? He takes that idea and turns it into a tablecloth and the whole tablecloth looks like a large scale painting. Another time he was listening to a song by Rage Against the Machine and he was like, wow, the tempo. There's so many peaks and valleys. How can I use that structure and mirror it in the dining experience? It's like a story, it's like a song. So, yes, these are very different industries or places that he's getting ideas, but because his lens is from food and dining, he's able to incorporate it from all sorts of areas in his life.

I'm the same way. I write about human beings and I try to analyze their habits and what they do. So when I'm moving throughout my day, if I have a lens that I look at, that's like people I'm always thinking about. Where is the human here? So, for example, during the pandemic, I was in New York City and I was on a walk down the street and it was a ghost town and I kept seeing like business after business was closed. I didn't see it as a closed business. I saw it as I wonder what the human behind this business is feeling right now. So then I did a series on the faces of American business and I interviewed the people who had to shut their business down.

Wow, what an amazing idea so it's like that it, through whatever you are doing right now, you can see the world through a kaleidoscope of X, and then that way, you're constantly on the hunt for ideas, without even realizing it.

0:16:25 - Speaker 1 You know, again, you're just lobbing up amazing transitions here from that chef idea. I had a note down from the same section on leashing your creative potential. Describe for us, please, this concept of flavor bouncing in relation to brainstorming and creativity.

0:16:40 - Speaker 2 Okay. So this is a really good example of the fact that creativity is a skill. It's not a fleeting moment like many people would have you believe. They'll say, you know, wait for your moment of inspiration. Or that creativity is something from the gods or the muses or something like that. It's, creativity is a skill that you can sharpen and a really good example of this is that Grant Akitz, the chef he's the top chef in the world he built his restaurant into the number one restaurant in the world and then, as fate would have it, he gets stage four tongue cancer and it's like, of all the things that you could get diagnosed with, what are the chances the top chef in the world gets tongue cancer?

So of course, everyone says, oh, my goodness, you're so unlucky, how are you going to be creative? This is impossible. Taste is all on the tongue, your taste buds. And then what he discovered is that actually taste comes a lot from visual cues and also from smell. Taste on your tongue, like the taste buds, are actually a very small portion of how the brain processes taste. So he started playing with that. He was like Okay, in my menu, what if I created a tomato that tastes like a strawberry and a strawberry that tastes like a tomato and it messes with you, right, as a customer, as a diner, you look at something that looks like a strawberry, so your mind is already you're ready to taste the strawberry. There's a name for this test, Like.

0:18:17 - Speaker 1 I forget what it's called, but basically when we look at words that are in a certain color, but it's written out as a color like it's in blue but it says purple. Our brains are like does not compute, we can't handle it yeah.

0:18:30 - Speaker 2 Exactly. It's almost like. It's almost like theater, like a magic show that you're going to when you go to this restaurant. It's exactly that what he's trying to do. But he had that idea because of this like crazy experience he had with having tongue cancer and flavor bouncing.

Grant is very he's creative, but his creativity is rooted in logic, so flavor bouncing is something he created, where he sees, let's say, you have a focal ingredient and then off of that focal ingredient, there are all these satellite ingredients that have to complement each other but also complement the focal ingredient, so you can create an entire dish based on complementary ingredients that complement one another but also the main one. So nothing. So there's no ingredient that clashes. Okay, and it's just. It's a very good example of how you can think your way to creativity. It doesn't just have to be a feeling or something you feel like doing or an emotion. And because of that, because that's his perspective on creativity, he forces his team to blow up the menu every six months and start over from scratch and create a whole new menu, because he's like, if you don't do that, you're only going to repeat what's been successful in the past, and that's a recipe for complacency.

0:19:58 - Speaker 1 The last thing I want to cover here on the creative section that I feel so connected to is rules and creativity. I think the most creative I have ever gotten is when I have stepped outside of my rules. I have tried to look at them through the lens of gray instead of so black and white. You make this point of how we need to understand them, not follow them. What do you mean by that?

0:20:27 - Speaker 2 Yes, so I used to hear the saying a lot, which was only break the rules if you know the rules, because otherwise you're just, you don't even know what you're doing, you're just breaking rules for no reason. But there has to be a reason to the madness, right Like? I think it was Aaron Sorkin, the screenwriter, who said this, but he said something along the lines of their structure and creativity. Like, you know the rules and once you know them and understand them, there's power in breaking them or inventing new ones. But complete, unstructured freedom is the difference between great art and just finger painting. One is finger painting because there's no rules, there's no boundaries, there's nothing, and the other one is more structured freedom, where there are rules but you're creating new ones or innovating within those rules that either you invented or there's some sort of structure to what you're creating.

0:21:29 - Speaker 1 I love that. I mean really anything coming from Aaron Sorkin I would definitely lean into. He's done some stuff right, that's for sure.

Yeah for sure, another air of your book that was so kind of just it stood out so strongly for me, especially for the concept of living a life ever forward. I talk a lot about mental fortitude, resiliency, strong mindset, mental toughness. You have a section called mastering mental toughness and you talk about this ability to endure and how mental toughness seems to be a byproduct for most people only after they have been through hell. They have only, you know, only on the other side of this obstacle. This hardship, is it something that we can develop intentionally, or is it simply a mindset we must adopt as we navigate life, kind of after the fact?

0:22:18 - Speaker 2 Yeah. So there's this idea called elective hardship, which means that you can invite hardship into your day on purpose, voluntarily, so that when you get hit by life with a blow that is absolutely coming for everybody, you're not completely unprepared. You've built small pockets of resilience in your mind where you're like you know what this is awful and horrible and I have to get through this, but I know I can because I've developed the skills to do it. So, for example, david Goggins, who's a former Navy SEAL and extreme athlete. He talks a lot about doing one thing a day. That sucks.

So again, make a promise to yourself. I'm gonna run two miles today and you look outside and you're like, oh, it's raining. His point is go run anyway, because that creates friction in your life and by overcoming it it's a small thing, but you overcame it. If you and it's not just like physical feats, it's also, for example, if you really hate negotiating there will come a point in your life where you have to negotiate a raise. You have to go to your boss and you have to say, like you know, my time in my work is worth this and I think I'm worth this and I need a raise. But a lot of people have an aversion to that and they're very nervous and they're very scared. So in your day, bake something in where you have to negotiate find an item in your house and sell it on Facebook Marketplace and negotiate with a buyer. It's a small thing, but it teaches you how to exercise that muscle so that when the big moments come, you're prepared.

0:23:56 - Speaker 1 You know, this is what we hear so many greats talk about, so many successful people objectively successful people and successful being extremely famous, extremely rich or just extremely happy and rich in fulfillment. You know, one example that comes to mind for me is Louis Howe, one of the biggest podcasters in the world, new York Times bestselling author. He had a deathly fear of public speaking. This is a podcaster, a guy who crushes it in the speaking world. What did he do? He joined Toastmasters. He joined a public speaking toast club.

To get over this fear People nowadays we look at them. You know micro dosing fear. To shout out one of my guys, greg Anderson, you know micro dosing adversity. What are you fearful of? What are you worried about? What do you think you cannot overcome or will not be able to endure?

Take a small chunk of that and, like to your point, insert it consciously into your day. For a lot of people right now, this is, you know, taking a cold plunge or a cold shower or just doing something uncomfortable. That is gonna show you, first of all, that you can keep a promise to yourself that when you choose something, you follow through on it. But, more importantly, on the other side of it there's doing, but then there's also reflecting there's doing and then understanding why you did it and what lesson you were taking with you, so that when that larger adversity comes knocking on your door, you're not as caught off guard. And you know, this is just amazing. We'll roll right in with another smooth transition from Goggins, because I pulled this quote from your book. He says the most important conversation you'll ever have is the conversation you have with yourself, and so my question for you, around this quote, is that is this where mental toughness starts, is it the voice first in our head?

0:25:46 - Speaker 2 Yes, and here is. Here's something that I wanna be very cognizant of highlighting, because I think we hear a lot of. You know, you have this narrator in your head. You have to change the voice in your head, you have to be kind and positive with yourself, et cetera, but for most people that feels not genuine. It feels like it's you know you're lying to yourself, or something like that.

What David Goggins did is he had a horrible voice in his head. He would call himself names, blah, blah, blah. And then he realized that actually, that internal narrator was in his voice. It was his dad's voice. His father was abusive when David Goggins was a child and a lot of that came from him.

So once he realized that, he was like okay, I'm going to do something called the accountability mirror. I'm gonna look at myself in the mirror and I will start with the honesty how I feel about myself today. And he looked at himself in the mirror and he said he said you're fat, you're lazy and you're a liar. But then and this sounds really harsh, but that was honestly what he saw in his reflection. And then the next question is how you can start to change the voice which also goes to the name of your show ever forward. He said what are you going to do about it? Because that was the past. Now let's look forward. What are you gonna do about it? And for every single negative thing that he had, he had a solution or some way to counteract it. You're fat, going to run every single day, whatever, for two miles. You're lazy get up and go do an activity, an activity with someone.

0:27:35 - Speaker 1 Basically, what is the opposite of this voice in my head? What is the answer to this question?

0:27:38 - Speaker 2 Yeah, like, how are you gonna change it? So you're a liar? Go a day without lying for external validation, things like that. And he would paste those sticky notes all around his accountability mirror. So every time he looked at his reflection he knew what he had to do. And in the book I talk about that. There's a difference between listening to yourself and talking to yourself. Listening to yourself is the knee jerk, instinctual voice that we hear when something painful is going on. You're in the middle of a marathon. Oh my God, my entire body hurts. Why did I sign up for this? I can't finish this. All this negativity. And then the talking to yourself is the internal coach which takes control of that and says all right, now is the time for motivation. This is what you've worked so hard for, this is your moment, this is your chance. You got one shot only half an hour more. Things like that to motivate yourself to keep going. So it's like being aware of the distinction can make a world of difference.

0:28:41 - Speaker 1 I love your point there of the difference between the voice in our head and the conversation with ourself. There's the choice, right, there's the choice of going from I'm just gonna listen to this voice in my head and just maybe live in ambiguity and ignorance of where it's coming from, compared to I'm actually gonna talk back. How should I talk back? What is it gonna say in return? Am I gonna get even deeper into this negative self-talk? So there's a lot of power there, but we have to first choose that. I love that distinction between just listening to the voice in our head and not making the assumption that we can talk back. That's great.

0:29:21 - Speaker 2 Exactly.

0:29:22 - Speaker 1 You've got another section in about taking risk in times of uncertainty. And to help us do this, you reference a really famous free diver. Free diving, for people don't know, is someone that swims pretty damn deep without oxygen. They have incredible lung capacity or they work on breath, work in lung capacity to be able to do that. He has a three-step process on building confidence before approaching a significantly stressful event Observe your breathing pattern, shift your perspective and focus on one task at a time. This really surprised me, coming from somebody like how was? He was kind of talking to himself and preparing for going under water for great lengths, but it felt so relatable to really any difficulty that I might be facing or any time of uncertainty. Why did you include this in the book and can you unpack this kind of approach to a significantly stressful event through the lens of this freediver?

0:30:23 - Speaker 2 Absolutely so. It's really interesting. So the three-step process the first step is to observe your breathing pattern. So a lot of us will notice before we go into what we expect to be a stressful situation our breathing will become shallow, we'll start sweating, getting nervous. His point is that he faces the same thing before a deep dive, but what he does is he does lung and breathing exercises to prepare himself and his breathing to be less shallow and more calm, because your breathing will inform how your body feels, which then informs how you feel mentally. So if you can go into it more calm by doing breathing exercises, it'll change the interaction. The second step is to reframe how you see the hardship. So his point is that if you can change your perspective from seeing some sort of challenge into, let's say, an adventure, it'll again shift your perspective into how you go into the interaction. And the final step is oh my God, I forgot the final step.

0:31:32 - Speaker 1 The focus on one task at a time Focus focus on one task. Thank you, John, I got notes here for a reason. We're good I got you.

0:31:38 - Speaker 2 Perfect and the final step is focus on one task at a time. And what Alexi says is that most of us we get so caught up in the tangled web of whatever we're about to do that we forget. Just untangle it and focus on one task at a time, because if you can execute perfectly on one thing at a time, then the whole thing comes together. I think football coach Nick Saban says don't look at the scoreboard, play the next play.

0:32:08 - Speaker 1 Ooh, that's good, because you can focus, that's good.

0:32:11 - Speaker 2 Yeah, if you can focus on one thing and doing it well, it'll create kind of a snowball effect and everything else will fall into place.

0:32:21 - Speaker 1 In the same kind of light. Here you talk about a guy that I've read a lot about. I'm obsessed with space. You know Chris Hadfield, this astronaut, and you drive home this concept of quote dress rehearsal for catastrophe. You share this quote from him about how fear is just a symptom of lack of preparation and the best antidote for fear is competence. Can we get better at taking the right risks through more preparedness? What does this dress rehearsal for catastrophe really look like?

0:32:55 - Speaker 2 Absolutely so in astronaut training. They prepare for the worst and obviously hope for the best, but they try to dress rehearsal for catastrophe and like every single thing that could go wrong how can we address the situation. But what's interesting is that they know that they cannot be prepared for everything that will happen.

0:33:17 - Speaker 1 Especially in space, absolutely Especially in space.

0:33:20 - Speaker 2 I'll give you an example of something that happened to him that there's no way you can prepare for that because you don't even know it's a possibility. But the whole point of preparing for catastrophe is to train the brain that the future you has options, and to always think of options instead of oh my God, this just happened to me, I'm gonna freak out. It's like, okay, take that emotion, that's your instinctual emotion, and then from there it's like what options do I have? So in space, chris was on a spacewalk, which means he was outside of the International Space Station, holding on with one arm. He was like doing work on it and suddenly, like his eye slammed shut in pain and he was like what is happening to me? What happened was that they used this solution to clean their helmets, their visors with, and a drop of it was stuck inside and it went into his eye. The problem is there's no gravity in space, so it was like stuck to his eye, he couldn't get it out and obviously he couldn't reach inside his helmet. So suddenly the ball became so large that it went over into his other eye, effectively making him blind outside of the ISS, right. So of course, his natural reaction was oh, my goodness, what will I do? But his rational mind started giving him options. He could get his colleague, fellow astronaut, scott Perzinski, to rescue him. He could call Houston, he could cry a little bit to dilute it. He had options. What he ended up doing is opening a vent on the side of his helmet to let some oxygen out to help dilute the thing and then, after that was over, he continued working.

Most people would completely freak out, but that's why he's an astronaut, that's why he's in space and you and me are not. But it's just so interesting and I love his quote where he says things aren't scary. People get scared and if you think about that, it's basically nothing is actually objectively scary, it's how the mind interprets it. So he gives this example of when you were little and you were learning to ride a bike. The bike was terrifying. You could fall, you could hit your head, you could break your leg. But as you become more competent and better at it, suddenly the bike isn't that scary and becomes silly to be afraid of a bike. Instead, you're like I have the skills I could master this. But the whole point is the bike, in its danger level, never changed. It's just as dangerous today, as it was when you were learning. The only thing that changed was you. You're the one who changed and became more competent. Therefore, you became more confident.

0:36:07 - Speaker 1 This kind of catastrophe planning and becoming more competent for worst case scenario or even just very difficult case scenario really makes me reflect back on my time in the military and really, whether I'm going through the military or whether anybody's going through any kind of difficult training or very demanding period of life, you don't really realize all of the skill sets that you are developing then and there until you find yourself in similar situations or in very difficult situations that demand a pause, taking back control of the situation and not giving into the chaos and not giving into the just throwing your hands up and like, oh my God, what do I do?

0:36:53 - Speaker 2 The emotion of the moment.

0:36:54 - Speaker 1 The emotion, not giving into the emotion of the moment, absolutely. We have this phrase where we train like we fight, and that's why, in so many training scenarios.

And why we have so many training scenarios is so that it just becomes so second nature, it becomes literal muscle memory that you don't even need to feel certain way. You don't even need to feel. I shouldn't say you shouldn't, you don't need to feel fear, because in a lot of instances fear is very real, but you don't need to be as worried about your inability to at least try something or some things that will solve the problem, that will allow you to get out of this situation safely or just in a better case scenario than maybe panicking or being too caught up in the emotion. That's why we have so many.

As we're talking, I'm just being flooded back with all these acronyms and little things.

You know if my weapon would misfire or if my gas mask wasn't working, or if the radio was down, or if you know we're caught in whatever and we don't have enough manpower. Just all these things came flooding back just so quickly, and it's a reminder of two things it's a reminder that this stuff really does live forever for people after the military, I think but also as a reminder that I am capable. I am capable of leaning on my training and my competence in the military and in real life, and I have done a lot of things and I know my listeners here do the same thing. Maybe we're not at a point yet of seeking out adversity, maybe that's not a part of your daily habit, but absolutely reflecting back on what you have overcome and extracting those lessons, detaching from the emotion, that is how you build competence towards worst-case scenario in the future absolutely, and I love to remind people that you know right now we live in a very uncertain world the economy, the everything.

0:38:49 - Speaker 2 but you have to remind yourself that there have been moments in your life where you thought how will I ever Make it out of this?

0:38:59 - Speaker 1 Oh yeah, those are last Tuesday Exactly. Comes back, everybody comes back.

0:39:05 - Speaker 2 Yeah, and yet here you are. You have survived this and, whether you Realize it or not, you have gained Resilient, some sort of mental resilience and in the skills to cope with whatever. The next crazy, uncertain, unexpected thing is that life hits you with, and in the book I actually wrote about, I'm fascinated by this concept, which is a lot of Navy SEALs, a lot of people in the military. They're trained to have arousal control, so in the moments where they're really, really stressful and really terrifying, where most people's heart rate would spike, there actually stays level and and and also their breathing Doesn't become shallow and nervous, it remains stable. And I think that that's probably, if you can Train yourself to stay calm and stressful situations, that's probably the best mental resilience in any, any any sort of scenario.

0:40:05 - Speaker 1 That's such a good point. I think we don't often times gives ourselves give ourselves enough or any credit when it comes to resiliency. Resiliency for many of us. We might think I have to intentionally develop it, I have to intentionally do things physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, even to train that muscle, when in fact I that could be well and true, but I beg to differ. I think we have multiple layers of resiliency. We have multiple levels of resiliency in our coat of arms, so to speak, that we just don't recognize, because None of us anyone listening, watching right now None of us have gotten to today, right here, right now, without facing a hardship.

Maybe you were uncertain about how you're gonna pay rent. Maybe you lost a loved one. Maybe you just stubbed your toe and you couldn't work out for a week and you really love working out. Look back on yesterday, look back on last week, look back on last year, look at how you navigated that challenge. That, my friend, is a layer of resiliency that is not going anywhere. You can take that with you and you can use that to go into something more intentionally now, because you kind of have that Relateability the brain loves relate, ability to overcome fear and to really kind of navigate uncertainty. We don't give ourselves credit, I think, for the amount of resiliency that we have actually compiled.

0:41:26 - Speaker 2 Oh my god, whoever was just listening. Just like pause it, rewind it, relisten, print it out and boom, that's a clip, let's look at everybody.

0:41:36 - Speaker 1 One other thing I'm gonna bring up about Taking risk in times of uncertainty is this this real quick quote you have from Um Tony Schneider, and that's about make reversible decisions quickly and irreversible ones deliberately. That's so sweet but so powerful. What do you think they mean by that?

0:41:56 - Speaker 2 This is a framework I use, and probably on a daily basis. I am the type of person who takes things very seriously, and one way to counteract that is to ask is this decision reversible or is it irreversible? When I was thinking about leaving my job at fortune magazine to work on my newsletter full time, I was, I was I called it the seesaw of misery like I would wake up, I'd be super excited to quit my job and then I would go to bed and be like, are you crazy?

0:42:26 - Speaker 1 and there health insurance, exactly.

0:42:28 - Speaker 2 So you're constantly on this up and down. You can't make up your mind until you ask yourself the question Is this decision reversible or irreversible? And it's reversible, truly. If I quit my job, the my business fails miserably. I fall flat on my face. I can always go and get another job, maybe even at the same place. I was just that.

Irreversible decisions, however, are something like deciding to have kids. Once you have a child, you will forever be a parent. Um, that is an irreversible decision and it's one that should be made very deliberately, um, and I think I think, like, if you can kind of, uh, use that framework, things become a little less serious and a little more, um, easier to to manage. So Tony Schneider said the the reversible decisions yes, they may be scary, but those are the ones that you can make quickly and possibly learn a lot from Very quickly, right, but the irreversible ones should be made slowly and deliberately, because they're irreversible and you have the rest of your life, um, so it's just a really great framework for somebody who is very indecisive and goes back and forth a lot.

0:43:44 - Speaker 1 Moving on to another section that I loved, that, I think, ties very well into navigating risk and times of uncertainty. You know, quite literally, I think there's a biochemical Uh, a neurological even connection here. Especially when we tap into dopamine, when we tap into serotonin, we tap into when we are giving our time, our energy and our attention is optimizing our content diet. You have this quote in there of what you eat is who you are and what you read is who you become. Can you expand on that please, in terms of what we watch, what we listen to, what we scroll through and how it actually literally is creating who we are?

0:44:27 - Speaker 2 Absolutely so. If you think about your content diet, most people think, oh, it's, it's what articles I'm reading on a daily basis. But actually it's what you read, what you watch, who you listen to and also who you hang out with, because a lot of the people that you surround yourself with, the conversations that you're having and the ideas that you're allowing into your brain Also play a part in your content diet. So I like to think of a content diet. Is, you know, a good, healthy content? And in the junk food content, the junk content that we consume, which is the tiktok video, the clickbait article, the things like that.

And it's interesting if you think about an earlier version of yourself, when you were going through the education system and you were forced to put difficult ideas into your mind, ones you disagreed with, ones you may not have understood, read books that were difficult, had to debate ideas with other Students, but then we stopped doing that, we, we leave school and now it's up to us to create this diet of content. And if you think about it, most people don't even read the full article, they just read the headline, get upset, reshare it and move on. Um, and that's very superficial and actually we're not growing and I we don't have. We're not generating new ideas Because we're not putting quality ideas into our brain. For me, I elevated my content diet by literally starting a newsletter that forced me to read high quality content on a weekly basis to share it with other people. So I'm guessing you're the same way you're. You put yourself in a position to have high quality conversations with people.

0:46:14 - Speaker 1 Yeah, absolutely. That's why we're here, yeah exactly so.

0:46:18 - Speaker 2 It's not that you don't consume the drunk food content. They're watching the reality tv shows. It's just don't let that be the bulk of your content. Diet.

0:46:28 - Speaker 1 To kind of um piggyback on this. There's another concept. You talk about this theory of maximum taste from david David brook, excuse me. He says that each person's mind is defined by its upper limit, meaning the best content that it habitually consumes and is capable of consuming. I think I think that's so powerful and I want the listener to just kind of think about it for a second. No shame here, no judgment, but just be very honest.

The majority of the content you are consuming on social media, email, tv, all forms media what does that majority look like? Is that you escaping? Is that you mindlessly scrolling? Is that you feeding your mind with things that Might be an escape at the moment? That might maybe make you feel good or just not feel anything. Maybe that's what you're after. But is it nurturing, is it enriching? Can you walk away with more education, more information, more empowerment, more certainty about your own life compared to Fake life? Here, you know, we're only being shown things that people want to show us. What if you? You know, just think about that as your upper capacity.

So is your upper limit of content consumption your upper limit of your mental fortitude? Is it reality tv? Is it the latest tiktok dance trend. What if it was something that you were actually passionate about? What if it was just open-ended to things that you're curious about? Maybe you only have a passion yet, but just, you know that there is room for growth and room for potential and room for challenge. Really, for me it kind of comes back to, I think, if we adopted the similar 80 20 rule Many of us are familiar of in terms of our nutrition.

You know, 80 percent of the time I'm within the parameters of my chosen diet or I'm eating clean or I'm fueling my body properly, and 20 percent is me being human, 20 percent is me Having the cheeseburger, the pizza, the drink, the whatever you know. But I'm aware of this at least. So I'll kind of take that same concept and flip it on your content head and I, I think, I think a lot of us would really be kind of surprised or maybe not surprised by why we feel the way we do after watching certain things, listening certain things, and that's on us. You know that's on us.

0:48:47 - Speaker 2 Exactly Just like the way that you feel after you consume just a day of junk food, it's the same thing after you binge watch reality TV. And one author once said if you only read the things that everybody else is reading, you can only think the way that everybody else is thinking Wow yeah.

It's so good, but it also speaks to if you truly want to generate new ideas the lifeblood of you know human progress is found in ideas and contending with difficult material that you wouldn't normally read or consume. So it's almost like force yourself to find ways to bake into your day. You know better reading material or more interesting things that you don't normally come across. I always, for example, when I read an article that says study finds that XYZ is true, I always go to the source because I don't trust that the context is all there.

0:49:51 - Speaker 1 I'm laughing because quite a few times I think I've tweeted kind of a ceaselessly. I make something up, like you know, studies find that people are I mean can't even think about something. It's like studies find people are reading way too many studies and not actually enjoying their life, you know, and then I put a cliff note or a little ashric not an actual study, you know or science shows that people are putting too much into science and not actually testing things themselves. You know, but just you put that, that word or that little headline in front of things and people automatically are hooked. It's so interesting. I do have one other question before I get to the final question. Do you have a couple more minutes here?

Absolutely Okay so, to kind of wrap it all up, you know, discovering your own hidden genius you talk about, or you actually ask us in your book, in this section, towards the end quote is it your body, your mind, your outlook, your experience, your life, your outlook, your achievements, your relationships or your possessions that define your identity, which you do, you consider the real you, the person you are today, tomorrow, 10 years ago, 10 years from now? Can you please talk to us about this concept that we are the creator of our identity, so that we can discover our own hidden genius?

0:51:11 - Speaker 2 Yes, this is my favorite thing to talk about, because the through line of the whole book, or the theme of the whole book If you read every chapter, you'll notice that I like playing with perspective a lot and also I like showing the reader that identity is somewhat slippery. It's the way that we identify ourselves. A lot of times is for social status oh, my job, this is what I do, or my relationship, this is my partner, like we define ourselves with these external things that we could lose in a minute. So I wanted to drive home the idea that the way you define success.

Usually, when I interview people, the final question that I asked them is how do you define success? Because that tells me so much about what they value. They value material possessions, job titles, relationships, like, well, what is it that they value and how do they? What do they attach their identity to? So so for me, the like, the nature of identity is very slippery, and the whole books point is that the person you are today does not have to dictate who you are tomorrow. So when you ask me, like who are you, I have a very hard time answering because I'm so many things that I feel you on that.

0:52:34 - Speaker 1 I'm going to raise both hands on that one, absolutely yeah.

0:52:37 - Speaker 2 It's like I don't know. Am I a writer, am I a mother? It's like so many different identities. I think Oprah once said don't tie your identity to something you could lose in the blink of a board meeting, which is why a lot of these Fortune 500 CEOs have some sort of breakdown or midlife crisis after they lose their job as CEO, because they're like wait, who am I then, if I'm not my job title? So I think, if you're constantly thinking about, one philosopher once said human beings are works in progress that are mistakenly believe they are finished. And it's like nobody is finished. We have so much, we have so many layers, we have so much that we could continue to do, and it's the David Goggins example. It's like he identified as a weak kid who was bullied and on the receiving end of victimhood, and then he was like what if I take control of that and I become who I want to be? And it's almost like you have a responsibility to become the person that you want to be.

0:53:52 - Speaker 1 Yes, yeah, that she's probably one of the most true things I've heard, because it's so true.

For me, you know, especially as a creator, as someone who uses social media professionally, someone who is a professional podcast or someone who does a lot of different things, it's difficult to really answer that question.

Sometimes I know I'm not alone when I'm asked you know, hey, so what do you do? Or even just explaining that to myself sometimes, when I'm confused or frustrated with what should I be doing today? What do I want to do? Because there are so many avenues and so many platforms, the one thing that has been exponentially helpful and powerful and provided so much clarity for me is focusing on just me, my identity as me, as Chase, not tied down to the podcast or YouTuber, instagram or email or health code, like any of these other things that I might do or any of these other areas that I'm interested in and maybe have some real estate with. But I am me and if I can just remind myself of that and stay true to that, then I won't say the confusion and uncertainty and fears go out of the window, but they definitely become way, way less. And think about for the listener how much easier and how much more powerful it will be for you to answer that question when somebody asks you what do you do?

0:55:27 - Speaker 2 And just describe to them who you are, not what you do 100%, and it's like I say tie your identity to your own name so that, for example, when Oprah walks into a room, she doesn't have to explain what she does, she's just Oprah.

0:55:46 - Speaker 1 Oprah yeah.

0:55:47 - Speaker 2 And once your name becomes your brand, and once your name becomes your brand, it's almost an added level of accountability where you have to behave ethically. You have to be a good person because you know that that's your name and if you tarnish that name, it's the only one you have.

0:56:04 - Speaker 1 Well, I couldn't think of a better way to transition to the final question. Paulina, I just want to say thank you again for coming on the show, and everybody definitely check out Hidden Genius. I will have this linked for you down the show notes and everything we've been talking about under episode resources. So my final question for you is living a life ever forward. When you hear those words, what does that mean to you? How would you kind of define that or describe that?

0:56:26 - Speaker 2 Okay. So when you told me the origin story of that, I immediately thought, for some reason, that living a life ever forward is living today as your aspirational future self. So, for example, in the book I talk about Francis Ngannu, who's this MMA heavyweight champion. He's been through hell and back but he ultimately made it to where he wanted to be.

But when he was growing up, his dad was this he grew up in Cameroon very, very poor. His dad was known as, like a violent street fighter, a very abusive, very, very violent man. And as he grew up he said you know, I admire the fact that he is my father, but I do not want to be like him. And sometimes knowing who you do not want to be can actually help you realize who you do want to be. And in that moment not only did he realize like I will not be like that, but also he was like okay, so if I want to become a professional boxer, I have to live today as if I am already a professional boxer.

So he says in Cameroon a lot of people drink beer. He never drank beer, he never drank alcohol, he never smoked cigarettes, he would exercise every day. And that was because he was like I am a professional boxer, so I will act this way today, and I think this goes to like every area of life. If you want to be less emotional and more rational in your decision making, start small and like today, you know, with the decisions that you make, ask yourself what are ways that I can become more rational in this decision right now, and slowly you will become that person. It is the whole idea of an alter ego. If you start to imitate, you start to become and ultimately you are. So. It is not, you know, fake it until you make it. It is like do it until you become it, and I think ever forward is like the only way you can get to where you want to be is to start acting and behaving that way today.

0:58:36 - Speaker 1 Beautiful answer. I always say, there is never a right or wrong answer, so thank you for that interpretation.

0:58:43 - Speaker 2 Paulina, this was…. I love that question.

0:58:44 - Speaker 1 Thank you, thank you, this is my pleasure. Where can everybody go to connect with you right now online? Where are you hanging out? You got anything coming up?

0:58:52 - Speaker 2 I'm on Twitter mostly, but you can find my newsletter, the profile at ReadTheProfilecom or the book at HiddenGeniusBookcom.

0:59:01 - Speaker 1 Amazing. Well, thank you again so much, I appreciate you.