Today Mark is talking with Peter Bregman and Howie Jacobson, Ph.D. Peter is the Founder and CEO of Bregman Partners, a coaching and consulting firm focused on both the organization and the individual. Howie is the host of the “Plant Yourself Podcast” which features healthy living. They are also authors and their latest book is You Can Change Other People: The Four Steps to Help Your Colleagues, Employees– Even Family– Up Their Game.
- Leaders can scale their organization by supporting the individuals to up their game
- Surrendering, forgiveness, and acceptance are integral in coaching
- There are four steps you can take to change people for the better
Listen to this episode for insight on leadership, coaching, and the process to change people.
During these times we’re all experiencing unprecedented stress and many of us will also be having sleep difficulties. To help decompress, Mark recommends the BiOptimizer magnesium supplement. Magnesium is a major component of body chemistry and is responsible for many biochemical reactions. So you can supplement with Magnesium Breakthrough, the supplement from BiOptimizer. You can use it for 10% off because you are a listener. Go to https://magbreakthrough/unbeatable and use the code unbeatable10 at checkout.
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Hey folks. This is Mark Divine. Welcome to the Unbeatable Mind podcast. Super-stoked to have you here. I appreciate your time, as I don’t take it lightly. You’ve got a million podcasts and other things vying for your attention. So the fact that you’re here listening to this is a huge win. And like I said, I appreciate it.
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I’m excited today to have Peter Bregman and Howie Jacobson on board. They are involved in a company called Bregman Partners. And let me just read a quote and then I’ll get more into an introduction.
“People change all the time on their own. They make big changes, like starting a business, getting married, moving, getting a new job. And they make smaller changes like eating healthier, waking up earlier, or listening better.”
“But people change when they choose to change. If you think you’re going to try to make them change, forget about it.”
But they’re going to tell us something different today, right guys? That you can help someone change.
Quick background – Peter he’s a coach, writer, teacher, speaker… yoga instructor – I just learned – so we got that to talk about. Also near and dear to my heart – he coaches skiing on the weekends. I’m a big skier – I love getting out there and zooming down those slopes.
He’s got an MBA from Columbia, BA from Princeton, lives in New York…
And Howie also a PhD…do you have a doctorate as well Peter?
Peter: Don’t. MBA.
Mark: I got my MBA from NYU, so we’re kind of competitors… (laughing)
Mark: All right. Howie’s the director of coaching at Bregman partners and “The Healthy Minds” initiative. He’s got his master’s in public health, and a PhD in health studies from temple. Got his BA from Princeton
Howie hosts the “Plant Yourself” podcast, where he interviews other remarkable people engaged in healing at the individual, institutional, and planetary level.
Man after my heart. I love this. We’re going to talk about that.
And he’s also co-author of a number of books.
At any rate – wow. There’s a pretty significant level of accomplishment you both bring to the table. And it’s neat to see you collaborating on really important things – like how do you change? How do you create change in people?
I mean, geez… that is tough. I mean, it’s the holy grail. If you figure that out and we can help people on this podcast, help people that we lead and that we love to change, then what a great contribution.
So thanks for being here guys.
Peter: Thanks so much for having us.
Mark: I don’t usually do podcasts with two individuals at the same time, so hopefully we won’t stumble over each other and be talking over each other. So, if you have any tips for that let me know.
But maybe I’ll just direct questions to each one of you. Or you can raise your proverbial hand.
But let me ask this first to both of you – what was your path to coaching? And your current contribution to humanity? Like, how did you get where you are now? How about you Peter? Start…
Peter: When I was in college, I was very involved in politics. And got disillusioned pretty quickly early on… I was involved in politics before college… but I got disillusioned. I didn’t know what I was going to do.
And I went on a camping trip by mistake – it wasn’t a plan – I just kind of ended up on this trip to learn to train people to be leaders on camping trips.
And I didn’t know what I was doing. It rained for six days I was in all cotton and sort of physically miserable, but emotionally, intellectually, spiritually it was the best experience of my life. I mean, it was a turning point in my life. I just fell in love with the outdoors. Fell in love with the other people who I was there with – they helped me. We helped each other.
The idea of being in a group of people moving together towards a common goal – which was very, very simple – it was like survive from point a to point b.
And from there, really working on leadership, and coaching, and helping individuals and teams and organizations to be successful.
Mark: That’s awesome. Now as you were saying that earlier before you mentioned NOLS I was thinking NOLS. You stumbled into a NOLS program.
I just went to NOLS wilderness, first responder course out in Wyoming a few months ago. And what a tremendous organization. Outward bound as well.
For a brief moment, I taught outdoor leadership at USD – university of San Diego – as an adjunct. And I had a similar experience.
(laughing) the kids must have been thinking that I, as the teacher, was trying to kill them. Because I took them up this mountain and it snowed. And we weren’t ready for that, because it’s southern California.
And one person forgot to bring a tent. And so I had to give him my tent. And there I am in the morning sleeping outside, covered with a foot of snow, with a blowhole so I could breathe.
Peter: That’s awesome…
Mark: And yeah, I didn’t keep that job for very long. Because they complained a little bit. But I was good at it.
Anyways that’s great. How about you Howie?
Howie: So, I was a teacher, and I got really good at imparting information. And then I went back to school to get a doctorate in health studies. And I had to do a dissertation.
And I wanted to teach kids in middle school how to deal with stress. And so what we knew back in the ‘90s – breathing and affirmations and various things – and I found that the stuff worked great, but when I went back to the school to do the evaluations on how it worked, nobody was doing it anymore.
Like, if I wasn’t there pushing it, everything else got in the way. So I was involved in these really powerful change modalities for individuals, and at the institutional level where I tried to get it sort of ensconced and maintained, it would just fall apart.
And that at that point I just sort of finished with that work, and I met Peter. And he explained what coaching was. And I said, “oh my gosh. This is the methodology – I’ve never heard of this, but I can see exactly all the things I did wrong. All the ways in which I pushed a ball up the hill only to have it roll back down. And so I want to learn this.”
So I’ve been learning from Peter ever since – 22 years now.
Mark: Amazing. Well this is probably a good jumping off point to get into some kind of discussions about things that are important to our listeners. What is coaching from your perspective? Like, how do you guys view coaching? What is it as a as a modality and breaking it down into its simplest form.
Peter: I love the question, because we always sort of take it for granted, but nobody ever asks that question. And I don’t know that I’ve ever answered it. So let me answer it to the best of my ability.
And I’m going to answer it in relationship to other things – like, teaching is often “I have some knowledge, I’m going to share it with you, and then help you use it.”
Coaching is I still have some knowledge, but the emphasis isn’t on me sharing that knowledge. The emphasis is on me being your ally, and helping you achieve the things that you want to achieve.
So if you think about like a great sports coach. A great sports coach – they’re not coming in knowledgeless, right? They know a ton.
They don’t know more necessarily. They can’t perform, but they have an eye. They can see, “huh, here’s what this person is doing that’s getting in their way. I’m watching them perform, and I’m gonna like nudge here, and tap there. And offer some sort of support and help there.”
But it’s very, very individualized. It’s very personalized, with the idea of, “how can I help this person perform at a higher level than they’re performing? And how do I take everything I know, and everything that I see and channel it to support them as an ally? To help them succeed?”
That’s how I think of coaching.
Mark: I love that. Howie, how about you?
Howie: Yeah, well I learned a definition from Peter – when I started coaching, I learned a ton of techniques. And I was never sure when to apply them. But they were all really cool.
So it’s almost like when you’re first learning karate, and you learn the different katas, the different moves… you don’t necessarily know what to use when in a real situation.
So what Peter’s given me is the idea that this is a reliable process. That we want to have a goal in mind. We want to have sort of steps along the way – almost like putting an address into a GPS. Like, once you put the address in, then every time you make a turn, you’re reoriented – where you’re going.
So for me a really important thing about coaching is that we know where we’re going. And wherever we are in the process, we have another move, in relation to the end goal.
Peter: Thank you, Howie. And I have a phrase about what successful coaching is. Which is a reliable process that helps people get massive traction on what’s most important to them.
Mark: I love that. This topic is interesting to me, because I have this sense – and you guys might share this – that coaching is probably the most important skill for leaders to possess. To develop and possess today.
The whole idea of leadership is changing rapidly – because the world is changing rapidly – and human beings are changing rapidly in what their expectations are from leaders, and what they’re willing to accept or not accept in terms of communication. And relational ways of behavior…
It’s very different than just a positional role in coming in and saying, “I’m the leader, and here’s the vision. And let’s go execute it,” right? It really is kind of a hybrid leader/coach and mentoring relationship that leaders have today.
What do you guys think about that?
Peter: A 100%, I agree with you. And when I think about leaders that I coach who are mostly in c-suite in organizations… and some larger, some smaller. But they are all focused on scaling, right? That’s their thing, that’s what you have to do – if you’re leading an organization, your goal is to scale the organization.
And the way you scale is by supporting the performance of everybody around you. If you can build leaders… if you are a leader, your job is to build leaders. And so how do you build leaders?
You build them by watching, and by supporting them, and by coaching them. One client of mine – who actually was one of the catalysts for this book – said, “I have 30 one-on-one conversations a week. And my hit rate is less than 50-50. Half those conversations go really well and support performance, and half of them don’t have an impact.”
“If you can increase that hit rate by even like 20%, that would be a massive return in the organization.” If we can coach people as leaders in an organization, so that we improve their performance even just small percentages then we’ve done our job as leaders.
And that’s sort of what we mean when we say in the book like you can change other people and how do you help people up their games?
It’s like, that’s the job of a leader now. Is to help the people around you up their game.
Mark: Right. And I’m just noticing one of a few statements probably from your book that Alison – my show producer – wrote down here, to spur some conversation.
Why changing others is the most important capability a leader can develop – that’s basically what you’re saying. Like as a leader people come in and they’re constantly growing – I believe that an organization, it can be any organization – but that’s really our the biggest opportunity that we have for growth as a human being. Because we commit so much of our time and energy.
And yet, so many people don’t look at that as a growth mechanism or a growth organizational opportunity. And I think that’s probably a lot of what you can do with coaching, is get the executives to see themselves as facilitators for growth – aka change – right?
Peter: 100%. That’s their job. That’s the job.
And that’s why also when people say, “you can’t change other people,” it’s like, “well then, every leader and manager I know is seriously out of luck. Because that’s their job.”
And as a parent it’s kind of my job too. And like, that’s our jobs. Like if we’re going to lead in organizations, we have to be able to change other people.
Peter: I think about it in terms of like I want to change the world, right? In whatever way. Small, large…
And the way I’m going to change the world is not by mining it with a shovel or changing rock formations… I’m going to change the world by changing people. And the structure of our culture these days is very corporate…
So if it’s not just getting corporations to be more successful – which is important, because they’re not going to bring us in if we don’t do that – but also to create a culture within the organization that’s human, humane… and supports people’s growth and development, beyond just the bottom line.
Mark: Gandhi said that we’ve got to be the change that we want to see in the world, and I think the approach that we’re talking about here, is sometimes people can’t see that they can be the change. And they have to be shown or led to the change that they can be, right? So that they can have a bigger impact or perform better – in the case of an organization.
So how do we do that? Like, if someone’s unaware or unwilling – let’s start there – because maybe, like you said Peter – back to your CEO, 50-50, right? 50% of the individuals in an organization are striving to grow and are willing to accept critique or input – say, “hey, try this instead of that.” Or the way you’re communicating isn’t sitting so well with the team.
And the other 50% are just going to shut down, or project, or get judgmental or whatever – insert emotional trauma/shadow there.
So when we’re dealing with the 50% that aren’t necessarily asking, where’s the opening?
Peter: So, I love your question. And I love dividing the group… because sometimes you give feedback to some people… and in fact, let’s break them up into three categories, right? There’s a category where you give feedback to someone and they’re like, “great, awesome, thank you so much. I’ve been waiting to have someone up my game and improve my performance. And I’m on it.”
And then on the other side you’ve got people who might say, “look, I’m super successful. And I know I rub people the wrong way, I don’t really care. Not my problem.” Like, “I get it and I don’t care.”
Mark: It’s just who I am, yeah.
Peter: Right. It’s just who I am.
And then you have people – and I would say that might be like 10%, 10% and then 80% fall into this category of people who actually – they might have blind spots, they would want to change – and we might think they fit into that category that I just described. Because we give them feedback and they don’t change.
But for a vast majority of them, it’s not that they are resistant to the change. It’s that they really don’t know what to do.
I’ll give you an example – I coached someone actually for a demo that we’re offering on the website – like, Howie and I are coaching some people and putting it on the website for people to download so they can see us use the process.
And here was someone who grew up as a consultant, was an individual contributor – joined a company, was a manager, now a leader – and his team is saying you’re holding us up. You’re completely over-complicating meetings, you’re solving everything for us and making it impossible for us to figure out answers.
And he came to me, and he goes, “I’ve gotten this feedback, and I don’t know what to do. Like, I’ve tried.
I would sort of say, “what have you tried?”
“I’ve tried this, I’ve tried that.” So that’s a category of someone who’s like – and a lot of people are like that – they are willing to recognize their need to change, they want to do it.
And yet. They don’t know how. They’ve tried certain things; it’s not having an impact. And they need a process – this is where coaching comes in, or anybody can do it – it doesn’t have to be a coach. As long as you have the process, right?
That basically goes, “okay, hold on. So here’s what I’m seeing – I look at your history and I’m seeing you know how to be an individual contributor. You don’t necessarily know how to be a team leader.”
“So that requires showing up in a different way. So what’s your outcome by the way? Is your outcome not to be in their way? Because if you don’t want to be in someone’s way, then just don’t go to their meetings.”
“But I don’t think that’s the outcome you want, right? The outcome you want is actually to support them in being an effective team. And I’ll sort of paint out the picture of this process as we’re talking which is the first step is to be their ally, right? The first step is to say mostly when we try to change people we criticize them, “you got to get out of the way of your team. You’re constantly in the way. You’re constantly solving problems. You’re a problem.”
That kind of criticism actually makes it harder for people. That creates resistance to change. People don’t resist change, they resist being changed.
“I’m happy to change, but you try to change me, Mark? Forget it. I’m going to fight,” right?
So the first step is to be their ally and to really be in the work with them.
And then the second is to identify “what’s the outcome you want?” And the outcome isn’t just to get rid of your problem. The outcome is, “I actually want to be an incredible team leader. I want to support the team in their process.”
And so then the third step is then where’s the opportunity? And these same meetings that he’s getting himself in trouble with, that he might have even pulled himself out of – those same meetings are an amazing opportunity to say, “how do I show up differently? How do I ask questions? How do I accept what I consider to be a sub-optimum solution, that they’re going to work 10 times harder to make happen, because they came up with it themselves? Than if I gave them the answer and they’re like ‘whatever. If it doesn’t work, it’s his fault.’”
“Like, how do I change that dynamic.” And that’s kind of identifying those opportunities.
And then the last step is creating a plan, a very specific plan for “what am I going to do differently in that meeting tomorrow when I show up?”
Mark: Right. That’s fascinating.
I want to talk more about each of those steps from your book in a bit, but I’ll direct this one to Howie – I get that we can learn, we can be coached upon… we can learn tools as a leader to help our teams – lead them to change. But my experience is it’s often the leader’s own biases or shadow or ignorance of how they show up for the team, that is one of the biggest issues.
And so where does this fit into your process in terms of helping a leader really begin to appreciate their own behavioral patterns and subconscious conditioning and biases? Do you use like 360 evals and personality profiles…? Or how do you get to the soft underbelly of helping the leader understand themselves before they start implementing tools that may not land very well if their shadows dragged along with them?
Howie: Part of the process itself – especially the first step – really calls for a kind of introspection. So before I go and tell you, before I go and have a conversation with you, Mark – I’m probably annoyed at you in some way, if I’m gonna have the conversation at all. So I have to check-in – like, “what’s the cause of my annoyance? Where is it living in my body? And what’s my positive intent, both for myself and for you?”
So it’s a very introspective process in and of itself.
Mark: So, do you offer certain personal practices such as mindfulness or breath control to the leaders? To help them do that introspection and not be reactionary?
Howie: Yeah, we’re both meditators – we’re both practitioners of bodywork, yoga, martial arts… and it definitely lives in the body – so we have a process where people, before they even approach someone else, do a check in “let me get grounded in my body.”
It can be hard or presumptuous to like prescribe 30 minutes of meditation or yoga to a leader. And in the moment, it’s not practical, right? If I have to have a conversation off the cuff, I can’t suddenly sit in zazen, right?
But what I can do – and hopefully people will recognize that those deeper practices can support them in the moment – but I can stop, notice my breathing, notice where the anxiety or the upset or the frustration lives in my body, and have a little conversation with it. And transmute it a little bit.
As Stephen Hayes of act says, “we hurt where we care, and we care where we hurt.” So if I’m bothered by this, that means there’s some positive care that I have for you, for the team, for the company, for myself, for the world.
And once I’m in touch with that then I can begin to approach you as an ally. And to start to model it. So Gandhi said, “be the change you want to see in the world.” So our title is almost like that idea “you can’t change other people.” The other half of that phrase is “you can only change yourself.”
And the only part of that we disagree with is the “only,” right?
But absolutely. If you want to change other people, you have to approach them differently. And you’ll get immediate feedback if you’re leaking disrespect, disregard, lack of care, rampant egoism… if you’re leaking that, it will fail.
So we’re always asking for people we’re working with to be introspective enough, and to be humble enough to notice the effect they’re having in the world.
Mark: Right. Yeah, I love that. And one of the things that we really try to bring home in our coach program is that the coach/coachee relationship or the leader-coach relationship in this case – if the leader is the coach – is an omnidirectional relationship. It’s co-creation, right?
And so the leaders involved in – like you said, Howie – making sure that their bias and their shadow isn’t what’s being projected onto the client. Or they’re not getting some transference from the client.
So there’s that aspect of constant kind of monitoring during a coaching session, or over a long period of the relationship.
But then when they’re engaged in the actual act of coaching, it’s not one direction where I’m asking you to do these things, or to try these skills… it’s a co-creation of a new perspective for how to move forward, right?
And the way you show up as a coach is incredibly important in that regard. And to not look at it as a hierarchical relationship. To not look at it as, “I’m the teacher and you’re the student.”
And I think you’ve touched on some of that too, Peter. But it’s worth really kind of drilling into this for people who are leaders… who now know they need to also be coaches. It’s a two-way street. And both individuals grow from a good coaching relationship.
Peter: I love that, Mark. And I think it’s so true. And it’s why the first step is to really be their ally. And the parts of that step are both to prepare yourself the way Howie just described – which is getting clear in your intent, etc.
And then getting permission. Like, if you don’t want to be engaged in some form of coaching, if you don’t want to be engaged in a conversation about changing – then we have no business having that conversation with you. We’re not advocating… we’re gonna change you in a manipulative way, because we’re gonna use just the right words whispered in your ear so you change without even knowing that we’ve done it. Like, that is not what we’re doing…
In fact, in the book we sort of advocate let people know “hey, I’m learning this process.” Like, “I just read about this process. Would love to use it with you if it would be helpful to you in making the change that you’re wanting to make.”
It’s that category of people that want to change, are open to change, are willing – but really need help with it. And we could be that help, instead of the instigation of resistance.
Mark: Yeah, I’d like to bring Brené Brown’s work into this for a moment. Because you mentioned that there are those who want to change, but don’t know how. But there’s also those who want to change, but they’re terrified of it. Or they have a sense of shame around being exposed.
And, of course, miss brown’s work has been groundbreaking in the sense of bringing that word into the leadership vernacular – “shame.” And then of course, acknowledging shame leads to the need to be vulnerable.
And of course, I will say that as a navy seal, I don’t use the word “vulnerability,” I use the word “authenticity.” Because seals don’t like to be vulnerable either – we don’t like to surrender either, so we’ll have to come up with some new lexicon here.
But anyways what saith you on this topic?
Peter: I think shame is so interesting. We will do almost anything not to feel shame. And so the easiest way to not feel shame is to deny the existence of the thing that would lead us to feel shame.
Which makes blind spots very tempting, right?
Mark: Yeah, they’re your friend…
Peter: Yeah, exactly. Like, if you tell me I’m talking too much and I feel shame around that, then my immediate response is, “I don’t talk too much. And let me tell you all the ways in which I don’t talk too much. I’m gonna tell you why.”
And I’ll just be blind to it. So I think that idea of – and I know some of your practices, and we share practices – but the idea of non-judgment and the idea of approaching this whole conversation with non-judgment both of ourselves and of them is really critical.
Because the way to be vulnerable is to be really accepting in many ways of all of who I am and all of who you are. And one of the things that I love about this process – I mean, at first you can read the title “You Can Change Other People” and attribute hubris to that statement.
But in reality, there’s incredible humility to it… which is, first of all, we’re not saying you’re going to change every single person you want to change. But you can, absolutely.
If you approach it in a certain way with an acceptance of other people and who they are – like, this asking permission thing is huge. Because I have to be okay with you saying “no.” Like, “no, I don’t want to engage in this conversation with you.”
And when I say “okay” to that – when I say, “okay, we don’t have to have this conversation. I want to be helpful, but I don’t have to have this conversation.” A nice hefty portion of your shame immediately evaporates.
And it’s because you are in control here. You have power. You want to go there with me, you can go there. You don’t want to go there with me, you don’t have to go there with me… I’m not going to force you to go there.
Mark: It’s cool to me how this conversation really dovetails with a lot of what I’ve experienced and learned through the yoga practice as a 20-year practitioner – and also for me as a 30-year practitioner of the martial arts…. Peter you’re a yoga teacher.
But some of the key principles of non-attachment, right? So let’s not be so attached to having to change this other person. But we’ll share and co-create, and it’ll happen on its own accord.
So, non-attachment is powerful. This idea of acceptance and forgiveness… just to allow imperfection, I think it’s also been a real profound insight for me. And leads to what you call humility, right?
And so I think those practices are essentially like polishing the sword. And what’s the sword? It’s the sword of humility. And for leaders to show up without that rigid, rusty steel of perfectionism and righteousness.
But the nice smooth, polished sword of humility and acceptance. That we’re all on this path and we all have our shit, and we all have our genius – brilliance. And so let’s find the common ground and find a way to work together.
And I think that’s really why I think a lot of the principles from the traditions such as martial arts and yoga are really useful for a coach – whether you’re a practitioner, or you just want to find those principles on your own. Or kind of like hone them… sharpen your own sword in a different way. It doesn’t have to be like putting on aikido Gi or a yoga – lululemon outfit [laughter]. You can follow them in other ways.
Peter: I’m delighted with this conversation, Mark. You’re a kindred spirit, and I’ll say that – like, you talked about “18 Minutes,” which was one of my previous books. That’s about time management and it’s very concrete and it’s about productivity. And I would often teach workshops out of it at Kripalu, which was a yoga ashram.
And you’re talking to warriors, Mark. And so it’s like I feel like all of the work that Howie and I do is like… I mean, I don’t know I won’t talk for you Howard, you could talk to yourself – I really just kind of want to be a spiritual teacher.
Mark: (laughing) it’s hard to earn money…
Peter: Yeah, well and it’s also like we’re material beings in a material world. Like, we’re all focused on things we have to achieve, so the game is integration, I think. I’m not going to be in a cave somewhere – I’m out there and I’m working, and I’m running a business, and I’m talking to leaders who are running their businesses.
And the question is can we really integrate it? So that we lead, and we live, and we make concrete impact in the world by living spiritual principles that allow us to do it in a way where at the end of the day we feel really good?
Mark: I love that. And I want to hear Howie’s comments, but this idea of spiritual leadership has been on my mind a lot too, because as you said, these are universal principles. And they don’t have to be lost in a cave in Tibet or you don’t have to read a 400 page esoteric book…
It’s really lived experience that every human being… every human being has the gift. They just have to kind of get out of their own way to experience that grace.
And then of course we contextualize it. And that’s where you use the term “integration.” Integration means we work it into our life, by contextualizing with language and cultural understandings that aren’t foreign to us. I call that taking the “fu” out of the kung fu.
It’s like I referenced this earlier, before we talked – when I started teaching navy seals and I even said, “we’re going to do yoga,” they kind of crossed their eyes at me. But if I took some asanas and I put them in a little drill and called it, “this is the hip mobility drill that we’re going to do after a hard workout.”
They’re like, “bring it on. That’s awesome.”
And I was doing like warrior two, warrior one, side angle…
The same thing with pranayama. If I try to talk about different esoteric breath practices and whatnot -glaze over. But if I told them we’re going to do this thing called “box breathing,” where we inhale-hold, exhale-hold, and it’s going to make you clear-headed and calmer and trigger your parasympathetic nervous system. And you’re going to be able to find flow in combat.
They’re like, “let’s start practicing right now.”
So, it’s kind of like a trojan horse. You just got to bring it in in a way that’s understandable. And then let the practices do their work.
What do you think, Howie? You’ve got a long experience in the martial arts…
Howie: Yeah, and I’m getting less and less comfortable with the word “spiritual,” not because of the inherent value of it, but because of so many toxic imitations in our world.
Mark: Good point…
Howie: And so I’m thinking like for me – when I think about “what is spirituality,” it’s touching reality. It’s being in contact with reality, which means I have to become very aware of my own overlays, my own prejudices, biases, my weak points… my shadow – that is my old trauma responses that are coloring the way I see the world.
And it’s funny you talked about the word “surrender,” which is like navy seals don’t like to “surrender.”
But in the spiritual traditions – in the Advaitic tradition “surrender” is always referred to in “surrender to what’s real.”
Like, you don’t fight against the facts. You can fight against an enemy you can try to change the situation and I think for any warrior, the first thing is to be here now. To be fully aware of what I’m facing.
And so if I’m in a conversation with someone else, and I feel my own frustration. I feel my own anger, I feel my own uncleanliness around the conversation. My agenda is going to dominate and I’m going to say something manipulative or toxified in some way…
That’s my responsibility. And so my practices of bodywork, of pranayama, of walking meditation… of whatever it is… has got to be in the service of creating a clean field, so when these things arise, I can catch them earlier and earlier.
And so I can go back to being an ally. So I can go back to being effective… which to me it’s like coaching is this constant practice of getting my ego beaten up by someone. Like I’m constantly, “oh, I did that. Oh…”
And so one of the key elements that we try to support in the people we’re helping is emotional courage. And it’s got to start with us, we can’t demand that of someone else, if we’re not willing to lead.
Mark: I love it. Yeah, to keep that metaphor alive – each coaching session is like getting out on the mat or getting out on the training floor and facing an opponent. And the opponent is yourself, right? The coach is just the guide to make sure you’re sticking the boundaries, and you’re not going to run off the reservation – so to speak.
And I appreciate what you’re saying about the term “spirituality.” Like, I had a teacher tell me that there’s certain words – and this is a Tibetan teacher – that in the west, have been really corrupted. And so it’s almost like it’s not useful to use them anymore.
Meditation was one of them. Been corrupted. It has just been really dumbed down. It meant something really specific. The specific practice of meditation was tailored to an individual, and now it’s like “headspace for everybody. It’s meditation.”
And so that was corrupt, and the term “spirituality,” was another one. Because everyone brings a different understanding to it.
So I agree with that 100%. The principles are what’s important.
Mark: And I want to bring one other principle into it, and I think it really kind of puts a seal onto what we’re talking about. Then we probably should wrap up.
But this comes really more from my yoga tradition in understanding that our experience of life – including how we interact or are received by other individuals – really all starts in our mind. So this goes back to where Gandhi was coming from – you truly want to change a relationship with someone, which then gives them the opportunity to maybe see a new perspective or to gather some skills to change themselves, then we have to first in our mind believe that that’s possible. And see a path for that happening. So we can create the conditions.
Let me back up and give you an example – I wrote this in my book the way of the seal…
When I was meditating in New York when I was in my early 20s, I was a CPA. And I had no interest, no thought about going into the military.
But sitting on that meditation bench, my mind started to change, and I started to have understandings and insights… and the biggest understanding/insight was that I was meant to be a warrior, not a merchant at that time.
And once I understood I was meant to be a warrior, that’s when I learned about the navy seals and the spark was lit. And then there was this relentless urge or drive pushing me toward that. Like a soul’s yearning you could say almost.
Again, not to get too spiritually woofu about it… but when I changed my mind and I decided that I was not meant to be a CPA, but I was meant to be a navy seal and a warrior, then all my mental energy went toward that.
My imagery went toward that. How I arranged my life, how I arranged my training, my thinking, my beliefs, my journaling, my conversations… all went toward this idea or this belief that I was going to be a navy seal.
And after about a year of this kind of shift in my mental patterns, I had this overwhelming sense of certainty wash over me one week… it really was going from wanting and desiring, to absolute certainty that I would be a navy seal.
And that’s when the recruiter called me and said, “congratulations, Mark. You got one of two slots this year to go from the civilian world into the navy seal program.”
Statistically, it’s like becoming an astronaut or harder. And then when I went to seal training I felt like, “wow, I’m home. This is where I belong. Because I’ve already won it in my mind.” And I was number one graduate of my class.
And that was before I started practicing yoga and I understood that everything in our world starts with our mind. And then we get to go out and mash it up with other human beings, where everything starts in their mind. And then we get to co-create either a mess or something beautiful.
That’s like leadership. When you can get to that level of being able to co-create beauty, instead of a mess. And do that at scale.
Peter: Absolutely great.
Mark: I don’t know if there’s a question in there or if that was just one of Mark Divine’s ramblings…
Peter: Well no, I love it. And I just want to maybe riff off of the word “co-create,” right? Because the process of helping someone change, is a process of co-creation.
When we say you can change other people, it’s like you can co-create with them. And I agree with you like it absolutely starts in your mind. In your mind and their mind collectively.
Mark: Right, and where you can influence them, most is by having a positive outlook in your mind about them and about their potential for change.
Because if you don’t – if you look at it as a transaction or you’re just testing some theories then there’s no energetic engagement.
We have to kind of wrap up here, but let’s just kind of put a pin in the major principles of your book – “you can change other people: the four steps to help your colleagues, employees and even family up their game.”
So you talked about the four steps is ally with them, identify and energize the outcome, and then find the hidden opportunity and then create a level 10 plan.
Maybe you guys can kind of like ping on one or two do’s and don’ts for each of these four; just to kind of help with some takeaways.
Howie: Sure, well, so to be an ally what you want to do is express empathy. Because if we want them to be looking for opportunity, as opposed to running from threat. So in terms of like mammalian co-regulation, we want them to feel safe enough with us to drop the fight-or-flight response. And to look for stay-and-play.
We want to express confidence. It’s not a lie like if you’re having the conversation with someone it already means you have confidence that something good could come out of it. And then get permission.
So what you don’t want to do is assume permission. You don’t want to ask a question that you’re not willing to take “no” for an answer, right? And you want to make sure you’re keeping the ownership with them.
So I’d say that’s it for step one.
Mark: It’s almost the same as like creating “psychological safety,” which is another buzzword that has been bantered around lately. So learn how to and develop the conditions for that psychological safety. That’s allying. That’s great.
All right. How about step two – identifying and energizing outcomes, Peter?
Peter: So, usually the reason you’re wanting to help them change, is because there’s a problem – there’s some kind of a problem – and so the tendency is to solve for that problem.
So in the example I gave earlier – with the individual who was an individual contributor, wasn’t supporting his team – the way you solve that problem is by taking him out of the meeting. That solves the problem of him taking over the meeting.
But that’s suboptimal, right? Because that’s not what he actually wants. And we talk in the book about these examples – like, I don’t know if you remember or know the kids’ book “Amelia Bedelia.”
But she had spots on her dress, and she had to get the spots out of her dress. So she just cut them out of her dress, and she solved that problem. Problem solved.
And “Silicon Valley” – I don’t know if you know the tv show “Silicon Valley.” I love it. It’s a great show.
But there was a scenario where they were running out of time, they had their code that was energizing the entire kind of village that was built in the desert. And there were bugs.
And the head guy was tasked with very, very quickly getting rid of the bugs.
So he gave that task to the ai and said basically, “as efficiently as possible, get rid of all the bugs.” And so the ai deleted 100% of the code, right? (laughing) because that’s the most efficient way, right? You want to get rid of the bugs? Get rid of the code. And then you have no more bugs.
And we sort of get stuck in problems that way. So the outcome is in saying, “I know what you don’t want. You don’t want to get in the way of the team.”
“What do you want? If you really set your sights at something that would excite you, what is the outcome you want?” You get there as simply as asking the question. “I get the problem, but what’s the outcome? Like, what’s ideally the outcome you want?”
And you explore that. And that gets them in a very, very different kind of mindset than “I’m fixing some deficiency in my being.”
Which, by the way, is shame. We’re going to move away from that into what’s exciting and something I want to achieve?
Mark: Shifting it from the negative to the positive, is a simple way to say that. Yeah, I love that.
Which has got a higher vibrational kind of quality and more openness to receive. I love that.
All right. So, then we move to finding the hidden opportunity.
Howie: Yeah, it’s another version of moving from negative to positive. So now, once we have the outcome, we can look at the problem in a new way. The goal is for the person to be able to look back at the problem later and say, “thank goodness I had this problem. Because if it hadn’t been for the problem, I wouldn’t have noticed, or been able to achieve, or discovered a path towards this much greater outcome.”
So if you think about it… you’re going to the gym to lift weights. The weights are the problem. The weights are the opportunity. The difficult situations you put yourself in martial arts. The difficult asanas you try to hang out in in yoga…
They’re all problems. And they’re also opportunities. So we have a whole series of questions that people can ask themselves, and we can ask with them around what is good about this situation?
Now if you just kind of come in and tell someone that, it can be very disrespectful. Like, if you’re moaning about your problem and I say something like, “hey, what’s good about this situation, Mark?” You’re going to tell me to f-off.
But when we kind of do it together, and we sort of explore, “hey, is there anything positive? Is there anything we can learn from this? Is this a symptom of a larger system that we can fix?”
Then all of a sudden it becomes sort of like kaizen – on the assembly line, when there’s a bug, somebody pulls the kill switch for the factory. And everybody celebrates the person who did it, because now it means they get they get to fix the whole system.
So that’s really… it’s an act of faith that there’s always an opportunity and we almost never know what it is.
So, in terms of co-creation, it’s a very humbling pursuit – because we know there’s a mountaintop somewhere – we don’t know in what direction, we don’t know what it looks like, and we have to be willing to not know with our conversation partners.
Mark: I love that. That is such an important principle. In the seals we said, “failure is not an option,” and it wasn’t because we weren’t failing. We were failing all the time.
But we didn’t look at it as failure. So it was one of those kind of tricky sayings like a koan…
So we say there’s winning and there’s learning.
Howie: Yeah, it’s great.
Mark: I love that. Yeah, boy, would that be a great conversation to have at a cultural level. I’ve been talking about this with my team and my family… it’s like, “wow, let’s look at the positives that came out of covid.” Most people are like “what?”
But there are some really, really interesting positives that came out of covid and we could have that conversation about everything as you know… because, basically what you just said – everything has equal part positive and negative baked into it. You just have to search a little harder for the positive because we’re not really trained that way.
So what’s a level 10 plan? Step four – create a level 10 plan.
Peter: So a level 10 plan is the boots on the ground, right? It’s like okay, so we’ve figured out the opportunity, you’re pursuing this outcome, we’re in this together – what are you going to do? By when? How? What are the risks?
And then the level 10 thing is what is your confidence level? How confident are you on a scale of one to ten – one being not confident at all, ten being a 100% confident that you’re going to follow through on the plan that you’ve just created.
And people will come up with a seven or eight or maybe 10 or maybe 11 – they’re super excited – I’m there, I’m in it. And then the next question is “well, where’s the gap? What would make the seven a ten? Like what’s missing?”
And you solve for not perfection, you solve for traction, right? You’re solving for how do I increase the likelihood that I’m going to follow through on the next step?
Which to your point about learning – about winning or learning – is it’s an experiment. You’re gonna experiment with trying something differently, you’re gonna create a disruption of the past to create a new future. It’s an experiment. You’re going to try something.
What are you going to try? How are you going to try it? And then when are we going to come back together if we want to, to assess how it worked and what we want to do continuing going forward.
Mark: Yeah, I love that. I bet you most of your clients want to jump right to the plan…
Peter: Yeah, yeah. Not only most of our clients, but unfortunately most coaches… so a lot of what you see where coaching is ineffective, is you go “okay, you got a problem. Great. What are you going to do by when?” And you missed that middle couple of steps that are actually the movement, the change part.
Mark: Right. Great conversation, guys.
So the book is out, I imagine? This new one?
Peter: It comes out it comes out September 22nd.
Mark: September 22nd. Okay, I think we’re gonna launch this podcast a little bit before it, so give some time for folks to do some pre-orders.
Where can everyone find out about the rest of your work besides going and buying this book…?
Peter: Well if you go to bregmanpartners.com, the book is there, and a bunch of our work is there. And Howie, I don’t know if you want to send people to a different place?
Howie: No, let’s send them all to Bregman partners. Keep it simple.
Peter: Okay. Bregmanpartners.com.
Mark: Yeah. Well guys, this has been a phenomenal conversation. I really appreciate your time; I appreciate the work that you’re doing. I really do think that it’s not any individual that’s gonna quote change the world. It’s gonna be a confluence of great coaching and teams and leaders that all share a common vision.
A more optimistic and positive vision around the future and how we can co-create – more connectivity and inclusiveness – and I call it world-centric leadership. I know how you said you want to change things at a planetary scale, definitely part of our mission at unbeatable is to transform 100 million people to be unbeatable. And for us that means to be working on mastering ourselves in service, but that service is at a connected world-centric level. Not at an ego or an ethnocentric level.
I really believe strongly that there’s many avenues, many different areas and individuals like yourselves that are working on this from different angles, different perspectives. And then I believe that within 20 years – especially with another generation having grown up with these types of podcasts and thinkings, that we’re going to have a major, major transformation.
And that’s my belief. And I appreciate you guys for being part of that.
Peter: Well, thank you for leading that charge.
Mark: (laughing) Well, we’ll co-coach – I’m not sure I’m a leader for that charge – but I’ll do the best I can. But thank you.
All right, so Peter Bregman, Howie Jacobson – bregmanpartners.com. Your book that comes out September 20th, “You Can Change Other People: The Four Steps to Help Your Colleagues, Employees And Even Family Up Their Game.”
Check them out and support Peter and Howie – doing great work – and thank you for your support of the Unbeatable Mind podcast…
Like I said, I do not take it lightly. We very much appreciate it. Please refer this podcast out so others can learn and grow from it as well. And until next time stay focused and be unbeatable.
Thanks again guys.