Taryn Marie Stejskal, Clint Murphy
Clint Murphy 00:00
Taryn, welcome for joining me on the growth guide. Before we dive into the five practices of highly resilient people, would you be able to give the listeners a brief bio about yourself so we can get to know you before we talk about your book.
Taryn Marie Stejskal 00:16
That’s so kind of you to give me an opportunity to introduce myself, I would say it’s I bet people say like all of the really smart things about themselves and their bio. So let me start with a couple of things that your listeners, our listeners today may not know. One is, I have two learning disabilities. I am both dyslexic and I have ADHD, as a result of an experience that I had, or a series of experiences that I had in high school that were highly traumatic, which we may talk about today, or we may not. I also developed post traumatic stress disorder, and I’m a survivor of two decades of post traumatic stress disorder. And on top of that, I managed to get my doctorate degree, even though I was diagnosed with my learning disabilities at age 37 in neuro psychology, and I also have a master’s in marriage and family therapy. And all the while while I was leading global leadership development at Cigna, an executive leadership development and talent strategy at Nike looking after our top 400 vice presidents in our C suite, I also wanted to know how we as humans effectively face challenge because as we do, I had had my fair share, as we all have. And that led to publishing my most recent book, the five practices of highly resilient people, why some flourish and others fold.
Clint Murphy 01:43
Wow, incredible, it’s going to be fun talking through this with you. And that makes both of us who were diagnosed with ADHD as adults. So for our listeners, it doesn’t have to hold you back. It’s, I like to think of it as a superpower. But we’ll talk about that at another time. Let’s dive into the book. And where I’d love to start with you is this idea that I heard early on in COVID. And it was that isolation equals amplification. And it tied to your writing, which indicated that through COVID, our experience of negative emotions climbed. But you also had the caveat that has it already been climbing for a decade. So can you walk us through what was leading to that negative emotions and increasing over the last 10 years? And how did it hit us all so hard during COVID?
Taryn Marie Stejskal 02:50
Yeah, I don’t know. I don’t know if anyone knows for sure. The what is tha negative emotions is a tough one. Because I don’t, this how Gallup talks about it. Negative emotions. I don’t know that I necessarily like to classify emotions as being negative or positive. You know, all of our emotions are information. They’re meant to teach us, they’re meant to guide us. And I think so often what happens in our society here in North America, is that there’s a range of emotions that are okay for us to emote, if you will. And other things like anger, frustration, disappointment, feeling disconcerted, depression, anxiety, in some circles, in many circles, it doesn’t feel sort of safe to share those emotions. So I’m hesitant to categorize emotions as negative. But I think what we saw empirically, that has been happening over the last decade prior to COVID is that we were already experiencing what I’ll call an amplification of concerns around mental health and well being, you know, people were not feeling as satisfied with their lives, people were not feeling as excited about the possibilities, people were feeling more concerned about what was happening economically relative to the climate and environment here in the United States, in particular, to gun control. And so, you know, I don’t think we know for sure, you know, just exactly what people have been, you know, responding to you. But I think more and more over the last decade, people were already feeling less at ease, and less in a good mental space. And then COVID showed up and it isolated us from each other. And for some people, for many of us, there were tremendous insights there were tremendous aha moments, there were big pivots in terms of how people thought about their career and their contributions and what they wanted to do with this one wild and precious life. And I think there was the sense that we were going to get out of quarantine and all just be so excited to be together again. And I think what we see empirically and anecdotally is that that’s actually not the case right now, people seem to have a shorter fuse, to be angry, or to be even further, you know, not at ease, give others you know, less of the benefit of the doubt, assuming less positive intent. And I think we’ve all been through a bit of the ringer. And what I like to say is, you know, our ability to like and love others is often limited by our ability to love and like ourselves. And I think there’s a lot of folks who aren’t feeling great about themselves right now, and therefore aren’t able to offer that sense of grace and connection. Because so many of us are grappling with what’s happening internally.
Clint Murphy 06:06
It feels like what we’ve done is go through one of the greatest social experiments, well, maybe not the greatest, one of the worst social experiments will will ever have have come through. And if there’s ever a time that we need to understand resilience, and to your point earlier talking about PTSD, there’s a certain baseline level of almost feeling is if a lot of humanity has gone through that over the last three years, while being isolated for long periods of time. And you mentioned we thought it would be over and then we’d be able to get back to people. And part of what we saw is that yo-yo of unknowing, it’s going to open back up, we’re locked down again, we’re allowed out again, now we’re locked up again, and no one really had, say an end in sight. If that makes sense. Do you think that contributes that uncertainty almost contributed to what we’re seeing, to your point, an increasing lack of civility and kindness in people?
Taryn Marie Stejskal 07:19
Yes. 1600% did the lack of predictability and sense of control over our environment has that impacted our mental health? You know, even today, right, we will continue to see what I’ll call rebound effects. From all of this for many years to come. You know, the problem with control over our lives is not that we’ve lost it. It’s that we’ve come face to face with the inconvenient truth that we never had it in the first place. And that’s a very different perspective. You know, for many of us, we got in our car, we drove to work, we took care of our children. And we felt that we were able to plan and to a large extent control our lives and what happened to us and that, yes, sometimes bad things happen to good people. But by and large, you know, we knew the turns we were going to take in our lives and the shape of what our experience was going to look like. And, you know, I think COVID is one of those things that has just taken our sense of sustainability and predictability and put it in a blender. And then since then, you know, we continue, I think to get rocked by aftershocks of unpredictability. And in sustainability, we have the war in Ukraine, continued gun violence, concerns about, you know, the global economic picture here in the United States, potentially, you know, a recession, which we we may not be aware of for at least, you know, one more, one more quarter, looking back at two quarters of negative growth. So, there’s so many factors just when we wanted to sort of get our cars back on the road of our lives and put it on cruise control or get in the HOV lane. It just seems like there’s sort of car crash after car crash. And the strategies and the tools that we had to deal with these things I think we’re finding they either don’t work anymore, or they don’t work to the extent that they once did. And I think that’s incredibly disconcerting for people as well.
Clint Murphy 09:41
The pace that these things are happening is magnified. So in the past, you might go decades without getting rocked by one of these things. And now it feels like every six months or every three months or every month with social media, with the news. We’re seeing everything as it happens live and one of the ones that’s jumping out for a lot of people is AI, is it going to replace my job? So I’m already worried about a recession. Now people are telling me, chat GPT is going to replace my job. There’s a lot of fear there, which makes resilience, super important. And I thought one of the things you talked about that I’d love to tackle is this idea that when we learn new skills, they’re additive. But when we have resilience, it’s a multiplier. Why is resilience so powerful? To use those words as a multiplier instead of just additive to our already existing toolkit?
Taryn Marie Stejskal 10:48
I love this question so much. Because, you know, first and foremost, one of the ways that I’ve wanted to shift the script on how we talk about resilience, is to say that resilience is not something we go out and find or cultivate, or, you know, sort of fetch and bring back to ourselves, because so many people when we enter this conversation about resilience, there’s, you know, what I call the resilience dread factor. And it’s the sense of like, okay, resilience, that sounds nice. But am I going to be found wanting or lacking, you know, am I going to be sort of one of these people who doesn’t have enough resilience, quote, unquote. And so it can be scary to look under the hood. And in fact, what I found is that resilience is actually the essence of being human. It is fundamentally connected to who we are as human beings. And so there’s nobody out there who is ever going to be in lack, relative to resilience. And that is such an important and reassuring point for people to understand. The second thing is that challenge, change and complexity, or the three C’s, this is the fabric of what it means to be human, we can’t engineer challenge change and complexity out of our lives. And in fact, we actually don’t want to, because these are the moments where we have the greatest opportunity to amplify and enhance our resilience. And so when we think about resilience, being a multiplier, resilience isn’t just about going out and getting some kind of skill or tool. It’s actually about looking within us to see the talents and the strengths and the goodness that already existed within us as a person. And then being able to bring those out or bring those out and amplify them, you know, to a greater degree. And just briefly, you know, to underscore this point. There’s this word in the English language. That’s silience, right? Silience is the word in the English language. And silience means to uncover our hidden talents to and to find the strengths within. And I think every single one of us has been in a moment of challenge where we’re like, I don’t know how I’m gonna get through this, like, you know, kind of just want to hold up my tent and go home. Like, there is no roadmap, there is no blueprint. And yet looking back, we’re like, oh, my gosh, I made it through that thing, right. And every single one of us has made it through every single disappointment, loss, pandemic, crisis, rejection, you know, frightening turn of events, and we’re all here. And we all in some weird way have become better for it. Why? Because we were able to reach in deep with silience and find things within us that we actually didn’t know we were there. So silience is about finding our talents, resilience, or that moment of challenge is about finding of reminding or giving us an opportunity to dig in there. And that’s what makes it a multiplier. Because it’s not just this one kind of additive thing. It’s about going within and truly knowing ourselves and being able to identify holistically how we are deeply equipped to be able to face challenge.
Clint Murphy 14:20
And when you talked about the three C’s challenge, complexity, and change, is there any one of the three that really jumps out at you as the stickiest for people or the one that they find the hardest?
Taryn Marie Stejskal 14:38
Yeah, I think one of the reasons I talk about the three C’s is a lot of times they go hand in hand. Right? So if we think about change, oftentimes people are very challenged by change. And oftentimes the advent of change brings about a feeling of complexity, right? And when we experience complexity, that can feel very challenging and sometimes in order to adapt to the complexity, we need to harness change, right? So, for me, the lines were sort of blurry between all three of them. And I think oftentimes they show up in concert with one another, although I think for certain people in certain moments, you know, we say humans aren’t good at change. But you know, we’re also not great at moments of challenge or moments of complexity either.
Clint Murphy 15:22
Yeah, the one that stood out for me was definitely change and part of it is, is the reverse of the C. But certainty versus uncertainty. And a lot of people seem to love certainty in their life. And when you introduce change, you’re introducing that uncertainty, and especially you’ll see this in the workplace is when you have something that’s changed, and you need something done quickly, and there wasn’t enough notice ,a lot of people can get thrown by that because it was, well, I came in today, these were the five things I was going to do. Now you’ve asked me to do something else, I’m frazzled. I don’t know how to introduce that change or uncertainty into my routine.
Taryn Marie Stejskal 16:09
Yeah, we love predictability. Yeah, exactly. Yeah, it goes along with that sense of control, you know, and what we’re finding in younger generations, actually write about this in my book is actually younger generations are less and less equipped to deal with a corollary, you know, to this idea of uncertainty, which is ambiguity. And so as parents, oftentimes, even though we can’t engineer the three C’s out of our lives, we often with very good intentions, try to engineer them out of our children’s lives. And when we engineer challenge, change and complexity out of our children’s lives, we don’t give them an opportunity to be in those moments of uncertainty, we don’t give them an opportunity to be in those moments of ambiguity. And so then as they grow up into, you know, kind of young adults and, you know, are entering the workforce, all of a sudden, right, there’s this ambiguity of like, will I get the promotion or not, you know, there is no template for a thing, they’ve got to come up with this structure, they’ve got to be the ones or they get to be the ones to be the translator and sort of, you know, clarity to chaos. And that’s really tough for people if they haven’t had opportunities to practice that. So as parents, I think one of the things that we get to do is to introduce age appropriate, you know, and titrated kind of ambiguity and uncertainty into our children’s lives, and to shepherd them through the process of navigating. So whether that’s, you know, trying out for a team and say, well, like, honey, I don’t know, if you’re going to make it either, let’s give it your best, let’s practice together. And then we’re going to see what happens or like, in my case, one of the things that I’ve written about is with my younger son, he was waitlisted, for kindergarten at the school where his older brother goes to school. And he worked his way up to the, you know, the top of the waitlist over the course of the summer. So it was number one on the waitlist, you know, going into the fall. And I had asked the office of the school if it would be all right to bring him to the, you know, kind of pre fall kindergarten round up meeting with all of the other kindergarteners and teachers. And they they sort of shuddered and they said, why would you want to do that? What if he doesn’t get in? And I said, Well, he said, You know, we’ve had a talk with him. And we said, He’s number one on the waitlist, and there’s a good chance that he’ll get in, there’s also a chance that he won’t get in. And in that case, you know, he’s going to go to this, you know, to this other school. That was a great moment in his life where we got to, in an age appropriate way, help him sit with what it felt like to be in a moment of ambiguity. Where was he going to be going to kindergarten in the fall, and to help him learn to navigate that moment, rather than just trying to, you know, streamline that and make his path clear.
Clint Murphy 19:05
And almost shelter, shelter them from the potential of failure, recognizing that, really, to your point earlier, it’s when we go through these challenges, it’s when we fail, that we can come out the other side and be stronger for it. And so letting our kids be in that position where they may fail may actually benefit them in the long run.
Taryn Marie Stejskal 19:32
Yeah, I mean, I love the question. I would decouple the idea of facing ambiguity and uncertainty from failure, because I think, in the midst of the potential for failure, and the potential for success, for that matter, certainly there are moments, many moments of ambiguity and uncertainty. And yet I think the idea of, you know, placing our children in the way of age appropriate ambiguity and uncertainty is a different phenomenon, you know, than failure. What I will say about failure is, I thought a lot about this. And I’m not one of these people who’s like, you know, there’s no such thing as failure, right? Like there is failure, it does exist. I don’t think it exists at the rate or the level that we believe it does. You know, people will talk about a failed marriage, you know, I’m like, but did it. But did your marriage fail? I mean, you didn’t stay married? But is that a failure? Or is that a lesson and an invitation to know yourself more deeply, for your partner to know themselves more deeply, to co parent together to effectively, you know, lead two households? You know, I think the vast majority of things that we call failure are things that would turn out differently than we thought, and ended up being tremendous life lessons. And so, you know, when I worked at Cigna, and Nike, my team, you know, would come to me and they’d say, Oh, you know, we’ve made a mistake, right? And I’d say hold on, have we made this mistake before? And they would say, Well, no, we haven’t. And then in that case, it’s not a mistake. The first time it’s a lesson, when we don’t learn from the lesson, and it comes around again, then I think we start to make a mistake. You know, but I remember growing up, I’ll say another thing about failure. I remember growing up, like, one of the things my parents like to say a lot is like, you’ll ruin your life, you know, is this very sort of catastrophic thinking, you know, if you go to that party, and you’re there, and other kids are drinking, and you get caught, and then they’ll arrest you, and then they’ll throw you in the slammer and ruin your life, right. And something that I’ve gotten to think about, you know, recently is like, can we really ruin our lives? Like, can we, we can ruin relationships, and we can ruin jobs, and we can ruin opportunities, and we can ruin moments, I think it’s really, really hard to ruin our lives. You know, the vast majority of people that I have spoken to about the challenges that they have faced, have essentially talked about, you know, facing a challenge that, you know, either was completely outside of their control, or maybe there was an element of, you know, somehow they made some decisions that, you know, invited or brought that challenge into their lives. And almost everybody speaks about that experience, you know, hindsight, being 202/0, looking back with a sense of gratitude for what happened, right? Not that they would do it again, not that they thought that that was a good choice. But this sense of, they can see the good in those circumstances, and they can appreciate what came out of those moments, that fundamentally and forever changed them and made them who they are today.
Clint Murphy 23:04
And what I often find and write about frequently, is generally it’s only in the darkness that we can find the light and so often bigger the failure, if you will, the bigger the lesson, the bigger the feedback. And then if we’re willing to listen to it and say, How can I be improved by what I’ve been through? Those are the messages that really take us to the next level. And there’s a certain what we’re talking about today, there’s a certain resilience in that to be able to be hit by those hard experiences and say, I’m going to come out the other side of this better for having gone through it. And so as we talk about that resilience, you suggest there are five practices of highly resilient people we say vulnerability, productive, perseverance, connection, gratiosity, and possibility do you want to share with these are at a high level, and then we’ll dive into a few details of each of them. And then our listeners can grab the book to learn more?
Taryn Marie Stejskal 24:13
Yeah, that sounds like fun. Let’s do it. So over the course of the past two decades, I have interviewed hundreds of people and collected 1000s of pieces of data and asked people about a challenge they faced, and how it was looking back that they believe they had effectively face that challenge. And I first wanted to understand this because I wanted to know, like, is there a sort of common ground or common thread between us, you know, certain things that we all do or could do that would be the roadmap to facing? You know, challenge, change and complexity are the three C’s in a more effective way to create a more positive and productive outcome. So it turns out, there is a common thread, and those common threads are the I have practices of highly resilient people. And I got really excited about that. Because every time I have faced a challenge, and many people that I know, face challenges, you know, we’re literally or figuratively saying to ourselves, what am I going to do? What am I going to do, right? And so the five practices of highly resilient people is really that blueprint, those things that people do in those moments that they told me, that created a more positive and productive outcome. And so the first practice to your point, Clint is the practice of vulnerability. And when vulnerabilities showed up with all of my, you know, quality of research, you know, research and interviews, I was both surprised as many people are, and personally convicted. Because I had been living a life that was profoundly invulnerable and basically loving it by the way. You know, I went through a series of experiences in high school where I had a stalker, and that stalker behavior progressively escalated. And he ultimately after I went to college, ended up assaulting and raping a woman in our neighborhood. And he went to prison for 20 years, and I too spend time in captivity, I developed PTSD for two decades. And I alluded to that in my introduction. And so as someone who had felt incredibly vulnerable in those, you know, formative childhood years, between 14 and 18, I had resolved that I was going to make myself invulnerable. You know, I was, as a lot of people who experienced trauma do, I was very focused on perfectionism, on getting good grades, on being the best at everything, and just, you know, a thick coat of lacquer around like any, you know, potential flaw. And I talk a lot of, in my book about how sort of at the same time I was uncovering this, in my research, I got feedback on my annual review, and it was like, everything’s good, except you’re not vulnerable enough. And I was like, Excuse me, like, you want me to be vulnerable, like I thought, like perfection was the game here. So anyway, vulnerability is actually tremendously powerful when it comes to resilience. And that surprises a lot of people, including me initially, you know, vulnerability is probably not well understood. And a lot of people think that vulnerability is like discrediting ourselves, being self deprecating, being completely transparent, letting it all sort of hang out, if you will. And vulnerability is actually none of those things. Vulnerability is allowing our inside self, our thoughts, feelings, and experience to as closely as possible match the outside self that we’re sharing with the world. And when we do that, we’re in congruence with ourselves or in sort of the greatest congruence possible. And then vulnerability becomes tremendously powerful in those kind of big three C moments. Because when we allow people to see what we’re going through, we get more support, more information, more knowledge, right? People come alongside us in those moments, and we’re not attempting to run what I call to human operating systems, which is to like to be feeling and experiencing something on the inside, but yet pretending on the outside that everything’s okay. So just in the moment when we need, you know, all of that kind of human capital energy to create more congruence between the inside self and the outside self. And this, you know, vulnerability is the foundation that allows us to effectively address challenge.
Clint Murphy 28:37
And when you talk about vulnerability in that way, you distinguish between the idea of performance vulnerability, versus genuine vulnerability, which seems to be when we’re in congruence, what then does performance vulnerability look like? And how is that actually a negative impact for us in our lives that especially in our careers?
Taryn Marie Stejskal 29:04
Yeah, I was meeting with a dear friend and colleague, Michael Bungay Stanier. And he and I were talking about this idea of vulnerability. And as a result of that conversation that we were having, he was a guest on my podcast, I was inspired to not only define vulnerability, and what gets in the way of vulnerability, but to actually look at what were the places in our lives where we might be thinking that we’re vulnerable, that, you know, we’re sort of not in the truest sense. And what are the places in our life where we are demonstrating to your point, that sense of genuine vulnerability. And so I write about this in the book where, even when we’re allowing our inside self to match the outside self that we’re sharing with the world. performative vulnerability is not a great kind of vulnerability because what we’re doing with performative vulnerability is it can be attention seeking, it can be reputation management. It can be, you know, I want you to feel sorry for me, I want you to feel great about me. So now I’m sort of manipulating, right, this interaction that we’re having to tell you things to have you feel and think, you know certain things about me. And that’s performative, you know, vulnerability, I think of, you know, maybe like some reality television shows, you know, that you’ve seen exactly where, you know, performative vulnerability is, is alive and well. Genuine vulnerability is always about engendering a genuine human connection between us, right? So, I tell you the story about my dyslexia, I tell you, you know, not the story, but I tell you about the diagnosis of my dyslexia, I tell you about the diagnosis of my ADHD, I tell you about experiencing, you know, PTSD, you know, not to sort of like let it all hang out there. But to create a genuine connection between me and you, and between me and your listeners, because if I come on and say, like, Oh, I’ve got a PhD in this thing. And, you know, I’ve been an executive here, here and here, like, that’s good, I’m creating a sense of, you know, social proof and credibility, but it also in some ways creates distance, you know, because people are thinking, Well, how am I going to be able to relate to this person, if I haven’t accomplished those things like that’s so nice lady that you have studied resilience, but like, help me understand, like any kind of hardships that you’ve gone through in real life. And so just that way that I wanted to share my introduction with you was a bid at genuine vulnerability around sharing things about my life and about my experience that I’m hopeful we’ll create a more genuine connection between you and I, and, and our listeners.
Clint Murphy 31:54
And when you talk about that use of, here are some of my challenges and my failings, I often tell people who are creators, those are the glue that will bind your audience to you. Now, there’s an important thing I’ve read and if you wrote this, I’d be even happier is this idea that that specifically works when you’ve already established competence. So you’ve said to us, I have a PhD in this. And here are some challenges that I have, there’s that issue of if you haven’t established the competence first. And then we talk about our challenges, the audience may just think, well, they’re incompetent. And I’m forgetting the name of the principle where established competence, and then be willing to share the vulnerability. And that’s what really brings the audience or attaches the audience to you, is that resonating with you?
Taryn Marie Stejskal 33:04
It absolutely is, I’ll give an example, that came out of my executive coaching and my work in the corporate world, where I was coaching an Executive leader, who has very high potential in her organization. And as we do with people that are high potential individuals, we often give them cross functional promotions, like, you know, pull them out of, you know, the vertical that they’re in and put them in another place in the organization to learn the business to a greater degree. And what this does is it also, you know, very much, you know, can put our high potential people at risk. And so she was moving out of the marketing department, and she was going to head up a team inside of operations. And so during our executive coaching, I was talking with her about her first team meeting and how she was going to go about introducing herself, you know, to her team, she was very nervous about it. And she said, You know, I’m just, I’m just gonna go in there, and I’m going to tell them, you know, that I don’t know what I’m doing. And I’ve, you know, spent my career in marketing and, and I don’t know anything about operations, and, you know, it’s don’t count on her to know the answers to any hard questions or, you know, things like this, right. And I stopped and I said, Okay, what do you think you’re doing there? And she said, Well, I’m being vulnerable. And I said, I don’t think you are. I think you’re discrediting yourself. To your point, Clint, you know, there is a level I think, especially in new relationships about leading with a sense of competence and confidence. And once we’ve sort of established that level of credibility, to then also lead with a sense of vulnerability and genuine vulnerability that is meant to engender deeper human connection. But to your point, if we just did simply lead with our fears. And you know, if there is, you know, a clear and present failing or things that have gone gone well in our lives, people start to question, you know, why is this person a guest on your podcast? Why are they at the helm of this organization? Right? So being able to strike that balance
Clint Murphy 35:20
And when you first decided to share your vulnerability, and personal story of PTSD, which which you’ve shared with us, and the stalker situation you dealt with growing up on stage, hugely vulnerable moment for you? What were some of the lessons that you took away from that situation?
Taryn Marie Stejskal 35:47
Yeah. So in that situation, what I’m about to say next is is a little bit more, what’s the word a little bit more dramatic, what I’m about to say is a little bit more dramatic than it was really, right. These sort of think about the researcher who’s come up with a serum or something that they think is going to enhance our bodies, and they believe in it so much. And they also don’t want to put anyone at risk that they sort of like inject it into themselves first, you know. So that’s what was happening here. This moment, was me becoming my own case study. Because what had happened in the realm of vulnerability, is I had also uncovered this concept called the vulnerability bias, because I got to thinking, Okay, if we know vulnerability is good for us, if we know it creates genuine connection, if Brene Brown says so and that it amplifies, you know, living a wholehearted life, why aren’t we all running around living our most fabulous, vulnerable lives, right, like, what’s the difference between the knowing and the doing? And it turns out, the difference between the knowing that vulnerability is good for us and the doing of it is there’s a fear. And there’s something that I’ve called the vulnerability bias, which appears to be sort of a hardwired kind of cognition that we have maybe, you know, leftover from an evolutionary perspective, where we really needed to rely on other humans to physically stay together, like in a pack in order to survive. So it was like, don’t be different, don’t be weird, you know, just, you know, stay together and be like everybody else. And so now, right, the tables have turned, we’re not reliant on one another, necessarily physically to survive, we are now more reliant on our connections to survive, you know, in terms of wellness, in terms of mental health, in terms of having that important human connection, empathy, authenticity. And we know that vulnerability drives that. But oftentimes, for the vast majority of us, when we think about sharing something that’s vulnerable, that feels vulnerable to us, the vulnerability bias is a voice in our heads that says, Don’t do that. That’s a very bad idea. In fact, if you do that, Taryn, if you do that, Clint, the three L’s will occur, people won’t like you, they won’t love you and they might leave. And that is a powerful prohibition for us to stay what I call locked in our vulnerability cage. So here I was, with this, you know, capital R resilient story, PTSD, two decades of trauma, rising executive, you know, inside of my, you know, fortune 50 Corporation, and I thought, you know what, I’m going to become my own case study, I’m gonna get up on stage, and I’m gonna tell the story, and one of two things are gonna happen, you know, I’m going to prove the vulnerability bias wrong. And telling the story is going to create more connection with people, or I’m going to get up on stage and realize, like, the vulnerability bias is right. And I shouldn’t instruct people to be vulnerable. So I got up on stage. And you know, of course, talks about my research talks about the practices, and then I told, you know, this story of the stalker and of the PTSD, that was incredibly vulnerable for me. And one thing that I did that I think is really important, you know, for people when you do this is, we also just sort of can’t leave that hanging, you know, it’s like, we’re taking people on a journey. And so, by the way, I don’t recommend telling your most vulnerable stories on stage. You know, especially as like an initial, it’s not recommended, right. So but I’ve talked to enough people about it, and I, you know, I’ve done my own work, and I’ve gone to therapy, and, you know, so I got up on stage and what I did is I connected this story with, right how these experiences had formed me into the person that I was today. So having had,experienced tremendous, you know, fear and anxiety, I could now work inside of a corporate world as an executive coach, as someone who’s developing leaders and help them face the things that were profoundly frightening to them. Right, because whether, you know, fear is a whether we’re deriving fear from a shark in the water, or a new product launch, right, it all feels the same to us, right. And so I talked about how, having faced my own fears, and worked through these difficult times actually equipped me to be very centered in moments where I was working with other people on their fears, on their insecurities on their vulnerabilities. And I think that tie is really important, but that was the moment where I, you know, sort of drink my own Kool Aid and became my own case study. And sure enough, not only did it create, you know, greater connection, it was one of the things, you know, early on that really expanded and amplified my career and my speaking career and I was getting invitations from, you know, all over to come and talk about resilience and also inside of my own company.
Clint Murphy 41:18
Oh beautiful in with your career and the growth you were going through productive perseverance seems like something you would have been embodying on overdrive. And for our listeners who don’t know it, you talk about three common qualities that embody a resilient mindset as part of it a clear desire, a defined purpose and a dogged determination. What are those in the how do they drive the power of productive perseverance?
Taryn Marie Stejskal 41:55
Yeah, I think that mindset is really important. And it mirrors what what came up for me, and my research really mirrors, you know, what I’ve seen in other books as well, you know, even things as classic as like, you know, Napoleon Hill’s laws of success, right. And so the, the first part is about having a desire, recognizing that there is a desire in us to do something, or be something or become something, you know, we see something out there in the world, and we say, like, I want to have that. Right. So that is, you know, a clear desire, right, then it’s about making that part of our purpose, you know, why do I want to have that? How do I want to enhance humanity? How can I be of service through this desire, and through that desire, manifesting itself inside of that purpose. And then the dogged determination is just, you know, a willingness to really not give up. And it’s interesting to sort of position that alongside what productive perseverance means, you know, but I’ll just give you an example. So I’m out in Las Vegas this week, really, for, you know, kind of two reasons it lined up, that my boyfriend was going to be playing in the World Series of Poker out here in Las Vegas, right. And I, at the same time, was doing an executive retreat for a corporation, a keynote speech for the same company, and also doing an in person podcast recording in the same week. So we’re leaving a little bit earlier than we would need to, for him to get here on time to enter into the World Series of Poker. And we ran into, you know, all of these kind of seeming barriers, right? First, you know, it was like, we had issues getting the pets boarded, then we ran into a bunch of traffic, then we missed our first flight, because we couldn’t get there in time to check, you know, to check bags, all these things happen. So we were going back for our second flight. And, you know, my boyfriend said to me, Well, if this doesn’t work out, it just wasn’t meant to be. And I said, or it’s the universe asking us how much we want it. And I think so often, when things happen in our lives, you know, we have the opportunity to choose what the interpretation is going to be of that moment. And, you know, he wanted to come, he wanted to play, he’d done the work he’d like gotten, you know, gotten the cash, you know, to be able to stake himself. And, you know, it’s this idea of like, dogged determination, you know, oftentimes we’ll see, you know, signs right of things, and we’ll make sense of that. But those signs are actually many times neutral. You know, they could mean one thing or another. Traffic could mean and a missed flight could mean we’re not meant to be there, or it’s how much do you want it? Question mark, show me, right. And so I think the dogged determination is about unwillingness and unstoppable illness when we truly want something to not give up. And, you know, if the front door is closed and locked, to go around to the back door, to try the windows, to keep going until we’re able, you know, to find that thing that we want. And so productive perseverance is related to that in the sense that the most resilient people that I interviewed, talked about the art and the science of pursuing a goal, a willingness to persevere amidst or in the face of challenge, and also an understanding of like, when that pursuit might start to have diminishing returns, and how they might pivot, you know, larger, small and a new direction.
Clint Murphy 45:53
So what was the ending result for him?
Taryn Marie Stejskal 45:55
So we got here, we got to the World Series of Poker, and he played us for money. He didn’t make the final day or the final table, but then he ended up in another tournament today, which is like a one day, one day tournament, it’s called a bounty tournament, which I’ve just, yeah, where there’s a bounty on each person’s head. And so for each person you knock out, there’s a certain bounty that comes along with that, in addition to making the final table. And when I last spoke to him, he was the chip leader. No, table, and I think now we’re three hours from the tournament culminating, right so, you know, I think this productive perseverance is about continuing to persevere in the face of challenge and also an openness to how our goals and how our greatest desires actually end up unfolding and manifesting in our lives.
Clint Murphy 46:56
Yeah, there were three things that jumped out at me when when I was reading about the productive perseverance, and those were the importance of staying power, preparing for the pivot. And ultimately, this is the hard one. When do we surrender? Right? What are those look like?
Taryn Marie Stejskal 47:20
Yeah, you know, I remember listening to this meditation by Deepak Chopra, one time. And he talked about meditating, focusing on what we wanted to create in the world, another person who I like and appreciate his teachings a great deal, Joe Dispenza, talks about experiencing a sense of gratitude, when we meditate, to envision ourselves having the things that we want, and to not get up from that meditation until we have seen clearly what we want to create and become an expressed a sense of gratitude, because Gratitude is the signature for, you know, it is done, right, it has already happened. And now we just kind of wait for time to catch up with, you know, our imagined future, of course, all along the way, doing the work. And one of the things that Deepak Chopra said, when he talked about envisioning what we are trying to create, what we most desire is I kind of think about it, you know, as like a college application. Right? So, you know, when I applied to college, it’s a little different today, because I think I handwrote my applications, and we sent them through the mail. And, you know, now you do you do them online and send them right away. But it was like, you know, I did as much as I could in my formal schooling and worked on those applications. And then I sent them off, sent them off to the universities that I hoped or the colleges that I hope to attend. And then it was out of my hands, right, maybe they chose me, maybe they didn’t, maybe I was waitlisted. And I think creating things in our lives is a lot like that. It’s about really doing the work. It’s about being very focused, it’s about being very intentional. And then sending that off, you know, into the into the world sending that application off for what we want to create. And then, you know, the universe God, however you think about that, you know, will let us know what the determination is, you know, what, what we’ll hear back. And I remember Deepak Chopra said, you know, sending it out into the world, and letting the universe work out the particulars. And so I think that’s a really beautiful intersection that we can all be in, in this moment of recognizing that the problem with control is that we never had it in the first place. And so recognizing what is within our control what is within our sphere of influence, and then being able to release and relinquish the things that are not and allowing the the rhythm And the flow and the universe, depending on you know how you and others think about that to work out the particulars. And you know, to see what happens with those applications that we’re sending out into the world for the life we want to create.
Clint Murphy 50:13
When you say it that way, it really reminds me of the Serenity Prayer and recognizing what we can control and what we can’t. And the ability to know the difference between the two is beautiful. If we switch to the third practice, connection, what really stood out for me with was this idea that you talked about, which was separating the idea of internal connection, and external connection, because we generally, when we think of connection, we almost always talk about external, we rarely talk about internal connection, and you use this powerful concept of I am, what does that look like for people and can you take us through that?
Taryn Marie Stejskal 51:01
Sure, yeah, thank you for that. So connection, to your point plan is so often about our connections with other people. And yet, first and foremost, connection is about connection with ourselves. It’s about the person that living within the skin, it’s about our willingness to know and to like, and to deeply love and appreciate the person that we are. And I think so few of us, so few of us do that. So few of us really take the time to deeply know and love and like ourselves. Because that can feel really scary. It can feel really scary to like know, this person within our skin. And so often it feels a lot easier to know and like and love other people rather than ourselves. And yet, one of the things that I tell people is that our ability to light and to love other people, is limited only by our ability to like and love ourselves. And people say yes, but it’s so much easier to like and love other people and I think yes, yeah, until they do something wrong. You know, and then it isn’t.
Clint Murphy 52:11
As you say that it reminds me of loving kindness meditation, and we’ll often tell people, we’re going to start this by you picturing someone that is easy to love. And let’s wish that person loving kindness. Now, we want to focus on you, we want to focus on ourselves, but it may be challenging for you. And if it is, picture that person wishing you loving kindness as a way to ease into it. It’s that ability to, we’re okay with saying may you be well, may you be safe, may you be loved to someone that we care about. But it’s so hard for us to say, may I be well, may I be safe, may I be loved? Why is that so hard for us to do?
Taryn Marie Stejskal 53:01
I mean, I was gonna ask you the same question. Okay. Okay. Do you have a perspective on this?
Clint Murphy 53:08
I think in general, and it may be different for everybody, it may be different for everybody. For some people, that may be a very easy answer. For other people, what jumps out at me as you ask it is I also look at myself, I’ll use myself, I always like to speak from lived experience. It’s very easy for me to have high self confidence. And partially because I demonstrate probably the, the five principles of highly resilient people, I’ve done a lot of hard things in life and been successful. And I know I can achieve things, that’s easy. What I have almost none of is self regard. And so I can do these hard things. But I will almost never say, hey, great job for doing this thing. And to me that stems from like all these things from from childhood, from my conditioning of the realization based on, you know, doing the psychoanalysis and the shadow work, my dad never saying I’m proud of you, or you’re good enough. So my whole life has been push yourself to prove to him that he should be proud of you that you are great. Yeah. And so I can’t say it about myself. I can say it about my kids. I can say it about my wife, we could say it about my dog. But I can’t look at myself. I can now because have gone through the meditation practice and done the work. But I think a lot of us may, if we haven’t done that work. If we don’t realize that inner shadow and what’s holding us back, we don’t have the ability to actually see that we deserve the love, we deserve the safety, we deserve the wellness. That’s what jumps out at me on that one.
Taryn Marie Stejskal 55:08
Yeah, I love that. I think one of the things that happens, not always but you know, one of the things that happens is our voices as parents become the voices that are or are not, you know, in our children’s heads, you know, when they grow up, right. So you never had that sense of your dad saying that he was proud of you. So that, you know, didn’t exist, right? Like inside of your head. I remember over the holidays, this past Christmas, I was staying with a dear friend from college, and she has two kids, they’re younger than mine, maybe, you know, five, and two, and mine are 11 and nine. And I was saying to my children, you know, I’m conscious of this, but I didn’t realize how much I was doing it, you know, so I’d say oh, you know, good job getting ready and getting your shoes and your coat on. And, you know, Oh, I love how you wrap that present, that’s so pretty. And oh, you know, to maybe one of one of her kids, like, look how much you know about dinosaurs. Wow, like, you really put a lot of time in to studying this, that’s so interesting. And, and she said to me, she said something to the effect of like, you can’t stay here long. Because you know, my kids are gonna get used to this, like, kind of praise. And you know, we don’t do this in our household. And, and I said, Well, that’s, you know, all well and good. But you have this moment, in this time that you’re raising your children, where your voice, you know, is or will become the voice that they hear in your heads when you’re no longer with them physically or when you’re no longer with them on this planet. Right? So in this moment, you get to start to cultivate the things that they’re hearing about themselves, the tapes that they’ll play in their heads, that will ultimately sustain them and be part of their their guidance in the world. And I think that made sense to her, I think she started to think about this incredibly, sort of beautiful and audacious responsibility that we have as parents to be the voice or a significant voice that exists in our children’s head long after we’re gone.
Clint Murphy 57:23
And it’s it’s so powerful that you say you have this moment, because I think right now my youngest turns 12 today, and so when when we’re done, I’m going to go see him he’s back from from his grandma’s and just ask him, you know, what do you want to do tonight? How do you want to hang out for your birthday, and making a very conscious effort to recognize I have very few left years left with these guys, I have to be that voice of praise and and that voice of challenge and putting them in those situations to succeed and go through that uncertainty. And there’s so little time for us to do it. So you, you really hit the nail on the head without winter. Let’s flip. So that was our internal connection. Let’s talk about external connection. And I’ll read a section that you wrote in let you color that in for the listeners which was the critical importance of connection to others outside ourselves cultivates greater resilience as we draw strength from the support of others. Those who feel more connected to others have lower levels of anxiety and depression. They also have higher self esteem, greater empathy for others, and are more trusting and cooperative. Our external connectedness generates a positive feedback loop of social emotional and physical well being. relationships aren’t just protective. Lack of external connectedness predicts disease and death beyond traditional risk factors, such as smoking, blood pressure in physical activity. I mean, if that isn’t mind blowing right there. I think also correct me if I’m wrong, the longest study in the history of happiness indicates that the number one predictor of happiness as we age is connection to other people and so if connection is so important, why are we so much less connected as a society today than we have been in the past?
Taryn Marie Stejskal 59:46
Yeah. Well, I think what’s happened is there’s a lot of stuff around technical term, a lot of stuff, right. You know, I was born in the late 70s. us growing up, you know, there was no email, there were no smartphones, we did not have internet in our home until my senior year of high school. And when we did, it was like a dial up connection. You know, papers were either handwritten, typed on the typewriter, or, as time went on, you know, written on a word processor. And so the things that we sort of the stuff that we had in our field to distract us, you know, it was television, you know, could be like music, or maybe a book, we all weren’t like, sort of walking around with these personal computers in our hands. And, and so now, if a couple say, wanted to really protect their connection, maybe they didn’t put a television in their room back in the day, right now, it’s like, iPads, telephones, television, you know, Alexa, just so many things that that are happening in, you know, computers in our lives. So I think it takes a lot of extra layers of consciousness and intentionality. In order to connect deeply with one another, you know, I only have to like, walk through a restaurant, you know, out here in Las Vegas this week, as I mentioned, right? There’s so many people that are sitting around a table and everyone has their phone in front of them, right. And there’s a level of consciousness and intentionality that requires us to put that away and to truly connect with one another. And to not get sort of drawn into that slippery slope of Instagram or answering this email or, you know, things of that nature. And I think it’s becoming more and more difficult to connect, you know, in this 3d world, because of all of those distractions.
Clint Murphy 1:02:01
Do you see that with children, especially as they start to get into their teen years? Do you see this only getting worse over time with this next generation? And how prevalent the phone is, or the iPad as part of their lives?
Taryn Marie Stejskal 1:02:21
Yeah, I think, you know, for me, it’s about teaching our children a level of intentionality and consciousness. You know, just as, like I’m attempting to pursue in my, in my own life, you know, it’s interesting, my, my boyfriend and I have talked about this. And when we first got together, he’ll be in like Bose headphones. And I saw pictures, I saw photos of him before we got together, and he often had the Bose headphones on his head, you know, and when they weren’t over his years, they were kind of flipped up, you know, on on his head, and, you know, we’d be having a conversation or something. And I’d say, would it feel right, if you took the headphones off your head, because it’s, it’s just hard for, it’s hard for me, like, I took the responsibility. It’s hard for me to sort of feel connected to you or sort of, like, take you seriously. On your head, you know, and he was like, Sure, sure. And it was interesting to see the progression in our relationship as, as we continue to become conscious about this stuff in our lives, because he was playing online poker every night, watching movies, if he was home, the TV was on, he had the headphones on, maybe he’s doing something on his iPad, you know. And when he moved in with me, you know, I saw the headphones on and then they were up here, then then there were around his neck. One of like, my moments of like, just incredible enthusiasm was like one day when he like, couldn’t find the headphones, you know, like they’d been taken off for such a long period of time. It’s like he didn’t know where they were. And in what he realized was that television and online poker and movies and the phone and clubhouse and all this stuff, was an escape for him was a way that he didn’t have to be present in life. He didn’t have to deal with hard things. He didn’t have to look at some of the relationships that were happening. And when we got together, and we’re very intentional about our connection with one another, those things started to fall away. And he even had this moment when he you know, when he first moved in with moved in with me, and he was like, I haven’t watched television in like a month. Like I feel like, you know, like, my life is so dramatically changed and it also created incredibly important shifts for him. You know, he was watching television at night before he would go to bed playing online poker, you know, all hours, and then he would have trouble falling asleep because of the adrenaline of the game or because later both and all of a sudden When he stopped being hooked up to those electronics, and when he started being more present in his life, he also started sleeping through the night.
Clint Murphy 1:05:07
It’s amazing how much the little things add up. Even if it’s as simple as replacing that television with a few long walks in your sleep is almost instant, you’re out like a log just by going for an extra 6, 7, 8000 steps in a day. I love that. And as we look away from connection and we start to shift to the idea of gratiosity, I love how you blended gratitude, with generosity to create gratiosity. So can you share with our listeners, what is gratiosity? And why is it so powerful as part of our resistance formula?
Taryn Marie Stejskal 1:05:54
Yeah, I think, you know, we got to unpack this a little bit earlier. And I know we’re coming up, you know, toward the end of our time. So gratiosity is really about this combination of looking on a challenge, a change, or a complexity with both a sense of gratitude and a sense of generosity. And I smooshed, those two words together, because they were really happening in tandem and part of this practice. So the gratitude part is about looking on that experience, even if we wouldn’t have chosen it, you know, that dyslexia, the ADHD, the PTSD and saying, Hey, I wouldn’t have chosen that. And I can see the good in this, I can see how this has formed me, I can see the opportunities that have come of this, I can see how this challenge has had this sort of quote, unquote negative challenge has made me into some very, like positive aspects of who I am today. And then generosity is about drawing on our vulnerability and being willing to share our resilient stories generously in friendships, as parents, with our children, as part of coaching as part of mentorship within town halls and organizations. And being able to share these stories, you know, does two things, it solidifies our own resilience, right? It solidifies that identity. And like what it was we did in those hard times that we didn’t think we may not have thought we were going to make it through. And then it also becomes part of someone else’s Survival Guide. It lights the way for people that are on that difficult path. Whether we know it or not. There’s someone that’s hearing our resilient story and saying, You know what? Because Clint did it. I think I can to.
Clint Murphy 1:07:27
Oh beautiful. Let’s stop the conversation there. Do you have time for rapid fire four questions?
Taryn Marie Stejskal 1:07:36
Okay. All right. Rapid fire. Am I Am I thinking about these? Or is it just like,
Clint Murphy 1:07:40
It’ll probably be pretty quick.
Taryn Marie Stejskal 1:07:42
Whatever comes to mind?
Clint Murphy 1:07:43
Yeah. What’s one of the most influential books you’ve read for you?
Taryn Marie Stejskal 1:07:47
Born a Crime by Trevor Noah.
Clint Murphy 1:07:50
Oh, yeah. Wow, that resonates. What are you reading right now?
Taryn Marie Stejskal 1:07:55
So many things. What I just, I just download, oh, the Biggest Bluff by Kornikova that she’s like a game theory researcher who became a professional poker player.
Clint Murphy 1:08:08
Oh, I love it. What’s one thing that you have spent less than $1,000 on let’s say in the last year that you’ve thought to yourself, Wow, I wish I’d bought that sooner.
Taryn Marie Stejskal 1:08:19
Lipstick that does not rub off.
Clint Murphy 1:08:23
Oh, that sounds magical.
Taryn Marie Stejskal 1:08:25
$7 a tube.
Clint Murphy 1:08:25
Rotation processes like zero. I love it. So because the show is about growth, what’s one mindset shift behavior change, or new habits that you’ve adopted in your life that had a massive impact for you?
Taryn Marie Stejskal 1:08:42
I would say I don’t know that I’ve wholesale adopted this but I’ll call it divine timing. So my book has come out. I’ve you know, reached out to a lot of people and a lot of podcasts and a lot of news broadcasts. And a lot of people have said yes. And a lot of people just haven’t responded. And that’s okay. And so I’ve reached out to people a couple of times. And I think there’s a sense, right, like when we want to create something in our lives, like when is this going to happen? When are these people going to, you know, reply to me, when am I going to have this? And I’ve adopted this idea of like divine timing, that, you know, even if things aren’t happening on the timeline that I hope or imagine or dream of that there is a reason for that, that I’m not aware of. And if this is meant for me, I will continue to work to make it happen and it will occur but it will not be on my timing. It will be in divine timing.
Clint Murphy 1:09:39
It will be when it is that is wonderful. And we went pretty wide. Pretty deep. Is there anything we didn’t hit from your book that you want to leave the listeners with?
Taryn Marie Stejskal 1:09:51
Yeah, you know, it’s one of the things that I say and one of the last couple pages of the book and it’s about all of our inherent worthiness and I find that so many of us grapple with worthiness, you know, our own worthiness aspects of our worthiness. And I talk about this concept that we are all, both a masterpiece and a work in progress. And I think that’s tremendously important. And I’ve, I’d like to impart this to your listeners to our listeners to say, if we can think about ourselves and everyone else, as in this moment, all being a masterpiece, right? We’re divine and wonderful and special. And, you know, there’s no one else like us, and there never will be, again, we are all a masterpiece in our own right. And just like any good masterpiece, those artists were never quite done, they were never quite satisfied, even if it was the Mona Lisa, or the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, they always wanted to just tweak one more thing, develop something over here, it seems something else, no matter how beautiful. And so I think when we get to think of ourselves as being inherently worthy, inherently valuable, that we are a masterpiece in this moment. And we will also continue to be a work in progress and change and grow and to continue to get better over time. I think that’s a beautiful way that we get to be good enough in this moment, and also pursue the goodness of growth and development over time.
Clint Murphy 1:11:26
And when you say it that way, we are a masterpiece, a work in progress. And best of all, we are also the artists. So it’s just a wonderful way to approach your life. How can our listeners find you?
Taryn Marie Stejskal 1:11:42
Yeah, you can find me on Instagram, DrTarynMarie. Sure, it’ll be in the show notes. It’s Dr. for Doctor at my website, resilience-leadership.com. We’re actually doing a really cool thing right now we have a meditation bundle. That’s five meditations, 10 minutes each. Each of the meditations are based on one of the five practices because we saw a really strong relationship between resilience and people that meditated. And people that meditated or mindful, have greater resilience and people that are more resilient or more meditative and mindful. It’s beautiful, like circular relationships. So we have this meditation bundle right now. We’re giving the first one away for free on our website if you visit us there, and I’d be so excited to hear from you. And also hear about the book The five practices of highly resilient people, you can grab that on Amazon or Barnes and Noble or download it from Audible. I read the book on Audible and just be delighted to have people experience that text as well.
Clint Murphy 1:12:44
Perfect. We will have all of that in the show notes. And thanks for joining me for a great conversation today.
Taryn Marie Stejskal 1:12:52
Thank you so much for having me. It’s been such an honor to be your guest