In Art Of Coaching Podcast, Podcasts

The word “toughness” might be one of the most overused and misdefined in coaching and leadership; something we routinely seek and preach, but rarely understand. 

Toughness isn’t about grinding through pain and it isn’t built doing “hard” things we routinely encounter; True toughness is better described as making smart decisions in challenging situations and problem solving through obstacles not regularly faced. 

To better understand this definition and how to cultivate resilience, we welcome Steve Magness, a world-renowned expert on performance, well-being, and sustainable success. He is coauthor of the best-selling books Peak Performance and The Passion Paradox. His most recent work is Do Hard Things: Why We Get Resilience Wrong and the Surprising Science of Real Toughness. In his coaching practice, Steve works with executives, entrepreneurs, and athletes on their performance and mental skills. He’s served as a consultant and coach for numerous professional sports teams.

We cover: 

  • Why pain, soreness and grit can be counterproductive to toughness 
  • The true meaning of “resilience” and how to cultivate a bigger toolbox
  • How to reframe failure as feedback
  • Toughness in parenting: how to make more resilient kids

Connect with Steve:

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Brett Bartholomew  0:00  

voice out of the way. And everybody welcome back to another episode of The Art of coaching Podcast. I’m here with my friend Steve Magness. Steve, it’s been a while


Steve Magness  0:09  

It has, it’s good to talk to you again.


Brett Bartholomew  0:12  

Yeah. Likewise, I find that the older I get, and albeit, and I’m a bit of a curmudgeon, Steve, the older I get, the more I really just like having conversations with people that know, how do I phrase this? I think thinking deeply would be an easy thing to say, but really just aren’t afraid to kind of look under the hood of things and say, is what I believed at one point in time in my life, or is what I’m hearing now in this context? Do I still believe it? Or can I call bullshit on some things, and even if it’s something that was a sacred cow of yourself, as well, and so, you know, the things that you’ve done in the past, from the performance standpoint, from the passion standpoint, now what you’re talking about with toughness, I just appreciate it man. it makes you somebody that when I talk to you, it just brings a sense of relief? 


How, did you get to be that? Like, how did you start to become somebody that just you started to question, whether it’s yourself or the world around you? How did you become this kind of healthy skeptic? Where you’re not doing it just for shits and giggles? Or to sell books, but just because you think we genuinely need to rethink some things?


Steve Magness  1:13  

Yeah, you know, I think it really has a lot to do with my coaching background. Because we, you know, this as well, you get into coaching, and you’re fed, like the dogma, and whether it’s strength and conditioning, endurance running, whatever. Every specialty has their dogma. And you’re just fed it. And as an athlete, you know, when in early in my career, I’d be like, I don’t know about this, like, let me try this on myself. And let’s see what happens. And inevitably, something that was supposed to be like the gold standard, this works for everyone would fail on me. And I’d be like, this doesn’t make sense. So I think that kind of questioning attitude goes back to kind of my explorer coaches mindset of like, I don’t care who promotes it, I don’t care if it’s written in a book, or by the spin golly of our field. Like, I want to know what’s right. And what works. And if it doesn’t work, and it’s not right, like, I’m gonna find another way, I’m going to reevaluate things. So I’ve always kind of had that had that idea. And then as I’ve kind of progressed, in my career, we’ve actually followed similar paths. I think, being deep in the world of coaching and then branching out. Yeah, I think that that’s helped a lot. Because I, and I imagine you’re the same, but we’re used to going into new areas, where we don’t have decades of, you know, education, understanding, etc. We’re comfortable putting on that explorers hat in being like, huh, let me look at this from multiple perspectives, let me put my coach hat on, let me put my academic hat on, let me put on my, you know, athlete hat on, or my helping friends or family, whatever it is, like we’re able to wear those multiple hats. And I think that allows you to look at things from a different perspective, instead of just, you know, well, this is the way it’s always been. And this is what I was taught my education. And these are the pillars that have kind of stood the test of time and never been questioned. So I think that perspective helps a ton.


Brett Bartholomew  3:37  

Yeah, I think that’s well put, I think the natural question I have off that is, you know, and how do I phrase this? I’m very, I’m almost too close to my own process of what things I decide to go after, right? And a mix of it is well, you know, that old journalistic axiom, right, which, you know, and or right, which you’ve experienced, and then there’s the part of you that’s like, alright, but what’s also relevant, and what do I feel like has been underserved and not in the sense that like, Oh, I know it, I know it better, I can do it better. But mainly, like, is there another take? Like I remember Eminem talking about recently, you know, he’s inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. And they said, What’s the hardest thing about music to you right now? And he said, Well, I mean, I’ve been doing this for well over 30 years. And the longer you go into it as an artist, the more places or, the fewer and fewer places there are for you to go. Like there’s only so many different tapes, you can put on a song. There’s only so many different spins, you can but he’s like, Sure, I can twist up the lyrics and my delivery and whatever. But I thought that was really accurate, because you have to know you have to pick your battles. You have to pick your topics, especially in this world where I think every week a new book is written like writing a book used to be this monumental accomplishment. Now I feel like somebody will just pick up a book, and then they’ll write some pop psychology version of what somebody else has already said 30 times, and you’ve never really taken that approach, right? You write things that are relatable, but it’s also clear that you’ve done your research and You found that canvas? 


And so I’m interested in how do you find like, how do you go from passion to you know, what you did with the performance side of things and everything that you did even prior to that in the in the running space? So like why toughness? Why attack the do hard things side of this now.


Steve Magness  5:17  

So I think with my approach is this, I really try and pay attention to things that are interesting and that are valuable to others. And because of that, I have a long process meaning I take note of things and kind of dabble and explore in that area. But I let things like simmer and cultivate. So I’ve been thinking about like this idea of toughness all the way back to my experience as an athlete way back when, you know, because what is endurance running except being alone in your head for a really long time and figuring out how to deal with the pain and the doubt and the fatigue and all that good stuff. Well put. So I’ve wrestled with this for a long time, but it’s never, I had to give it room to simmer, and then allow myself the space to go really deep. Because I don’t want to do what you just said, which is write the pop psych book, take someone else’s words, fancy it up, tell a good story. And you know, here’s something, there’s a need for that. But that’s like the candy version of books to me. I want the depth I want. Let’s wrestle with this topic and see if we can make sense of it. So to get there, that means with myself, I have to wrestle with the topic, it means I have to go deep on the research, I have to go deep on like talking to people who go through very difficult things and see what their experience is, I have to, in my own world, like, do challenging things outside of my expertise to kind of remember what it’s like, because in my own expertise, I know exactly what it’s like, right. I know how to get through the, you know, the challenging times and things that I’m comfortable with. So it’s really that that explore, dive deep for a really long time until I feel like I’ve got the idea that just comes in. I’m like, Okay, this is something I must tackle.


Brett Bartholomew  7:21  

Yeah, well, I think that’s clear. I think and here’s, let’s be honest, because there are a lot of our listeners that have reached out in the past saying, hey, talk to me about writing a book. And even just you’ve done the publishing route for a while where I did like self publishing now I’m getting it published. But one thing man that I think most people don’t understand, which lends more credence what you do, is, a lot of these publishers want those candy books like even as I went through the process, this most recent process of dabbling in agents for the first time, you know, and that’s a hard enough process. You know, I remember my mom was like, why can’t you just find another agent? I’m like, well, that’s not how that works, mom. But I remember, you know, we were talking to one agent, they said, listen, people aren’t going to want something that’s going to make them think too much. They want something, get through it a day or a week, and feel good about and I’m like, well, that’s not the kind of book I’m wanting, you know, and they go well, then I hope you’re okay, taking a lower advance. And you have to think about and you’re like, yeah, man, and I’m not sure that that’s going to happen, you know, because I think there is a population out there, where people actually want a book that is hard hitting and makes them think and it’s a little bit convicting. I mean, before we go back into the toughness, side of things, I mean, you’re in like, this is what your third book, is this your third book, 


Steve Magness  8:31  

fourth book, 


Brett Bartholomew  8:32  

fourth book, sorry. Like, have you noticed that process as well? Like, it’s just like, doesn’t seem like it’s like the pop music on radio, they just want what’s going to sell? And what’s digestible?


Steve Magness  8:41  

Yeah, 100%. I mean, they’re trying to sell books, they’re trying to make a profit. So for them, it’s why venture out, like we have this tried and true formula. And that is that not a lot of people read. And when they do read, they want something they can digest easily and quickly. And then like, feel good afterwards, so that they give it a five star in Amazon and be done with it. And when the market pushes for that, and the agents and the publishers like it’s really hard to go upstream a little bit. It is. And sometimes it’s almost I’ve you know, early on in my writing career, it’s almost like I had to sell the pop side. And then like, in the backdoor sneak and like, here’s the depth. Here’s, something


Brett Bartholomew  9:30  

I’m so glad you’re honest. But because that is so true, right. And that was something that I think even to me when when I interviewed you the first time I wasn’t comfortable with yet, you know, because there was a past version of myself that anytime you saw anything that load click baity or whatever, man, I would just go on a tirade, and then you get into the world and you’re like, Oh, you have to wrap some things in that if you want to make a difference and like that, you’ve got to be judged on the actual content and deliverable itself, not the headline, and what I find is that people that are most judgmental about that they’ve never done something like it, right, they don’t understand that you can write a great email to your newsletter. And if you don’t have a little bit of a twinge to that subject line, it’s gonna go right to the trash. But then on the other side of their mouth, they’ll say I want to make a huge difference. And I go, Well, you better learn how to adapt to the world as it is not as you’d like it to be. You got to hook some attention pieces there as well. So I love that anything you want to say on that before we jump to the next piece?


Steve Magness  10:23  

Yeah, no, I think you’re spot on. I think you have to meet people where they’re at. And, you know, what I’ve thought a long time about is I write things to help people. But if they do not read it, it helps no one. And someone


Brett Bartholomew  10:38  

inherently helped themselves, you know, people like We are rats, we want to go towards things that speak that to loss aversion, or gain and all these pieces.


Steve Magness  10:45  

Exactly. And sometimes the people who need the work the most like, they’re the ones who you almost have to not quite click baity, but you’ve got to have you got to draw them in sometimes. So I was like you at the beginning, I was of my career. I was like, ah, like, That’s so lame. Like, why do people do that? But I understand it now. And it’s about like, finding that happy balance for me of like, okay, how do I draw people in, play the game a little bit, but make sure that when they are in, that I’m capturing them with like that depth, that nuance that wrestling with that thinking that I really want them to do?


Brett Bartholomew  11:22  

Yeah, because you have that responsibility. And speaking of responsibility, one thing that I like about you going into toughness is and this is, you know, I don’t know that I should say it on the air. But I tried to be honest on this, I have a long standing issue with the way that toughness has been perpetuated. And I’m not going to go societally, right now I will go in sport just because I have so much. So many of these memories are from that time. And I know you’re embedded in this as well. But especially in the collegiate strength and conditioning side, every time you’d hear of some team paying for half a million dollars for some military regiment or drill sergeant instructor which had a whole other issue, because in our background, I was fortunate enough to work with Green Berets and seals. And I know you’ve worked with tactical athletes as well. And I would tell them about these things. And they’d be like, Oh my God, you know, it’s just a boot trying to get a paycheck. But these, it didn’t matter, because these teams loved it. You know, these teams thought that by forcing people that let’s get this team up at 4 30, and get them on a beach and Sandy and wet and then they can carry a log, and by God, we’re gonna go from two and nine to nine and two, and then you got the other part, and I’m gonna turn it over to you. And I’m sure he’s a great person, I give everybody the benefit of the doubt. But man, I have a really hard time even accepting, like the David Goggins of the world, you know, and I get it, I understand that there’s a population that needs that there’s something for everybody. There’s things that I do that might be repulsive to a population, that’s totally fine. But I think when you look at a society that already is so extreme, so over the top, so unwilling to look at themselves, and say how much is enough, and do I even know, and then you perpetuate it with that kind of messaging, and then you give it this massive platform, it’s hard not to think it creates problems. So that’s a big well for you to dive into. And we’ve got to start broad before we get into the nitty gritty of your book, but go ahead and bite into that Apple,


Steve Magness  13:18  

you know, I agree 100%. And here’s the here’s the reason, just like you, like, when I talked to people who had been in Special Forces, tactical military athletes, like, they were telling me the same thing, they would be like, hey, the popular perception of what we do is not actually what we do. You know, this isn’t how we navigate things. This isn’t how, you know, we figure out how to get through, like uncomfortable situations. And similar to your experience, I remember when I was working in the college athletics world, you know, they brought in someone to run one of these boot camps at five in the morning, and I pitched a fit. I went like crazy on our administration, and it did nothing. And one of my athletes got hurt from carrying a lock. 


Brett Bartholomew  14:13  

Oh, they did the log carry. 


Steve Magness  14:15  

Yeah, they did the lock carry  they got hurt. Why? Well, she was, you know, 100 pound freshman distance girl who, in high school had never done any strength and conditioning and just had run some and just wasn’t prepared. And this was the first week of school. So you have these situations where it’s just like, Oh, what are we doing? This is all fake. Like, this isn’t helping our athletes. This isn’t helping develop mental toughness, whatever we want to call it. Like this is all kind of this facade that we look on and we say hey, look how tough our athletes are looking at this difficult stuff we do this is gonna make us come together and enjoy it together and feel good about ourselves and it’s not real. And that’s my problem with it is on that side is, it’s not the real way to manage and figure out how to navigate discomfort. And on the other side there on the Goggins, I’m an 100% agreement, I think he’s, you know, by all means, like a genuine probably great guy. But that message, in a world where we already have so much out there, so much extremes, so much of this kind of like, I’ll call it like, toxic idea of like, push, push, push, go till you puke, etc, etc. That message just does us a disservice. Because, to me, like, the easiest thing I could do as an athlete, is to go outside and do a workout or run a race. And until I’m absolutely done, it’s simple to do. It takes no effort, I could design anything, I want to lead me to exhaustion,


Brett Bartholomew  16:01  

also very easy to get sore. Yes. Very easy, 


Steve Magness  16:05  

very easy. but we have to disconnect this like experience of pain and discomfort, or this experience of soreness with are we actually being productive and what we’re trying to accomplish? And I think that’s where the disconnect is because in a lot of these situations, we’re not. Yeah, no, we’re just not.


Brett Bartholomew  16:27  

Well, I’m like jumping in for a minute on this. Because I think it’s important to hedge it is what I always love is when you make statements like this, then there’s the grumblers that are like, oh, so then what’s the alternative, just sit in our chairs and do and that’s where you like, this false dichotomy is just always humorous, right? Like, no, guess what, there is a middle ground or a more nuanced way to attack this and say, nobody’s saying that just because of this extreme stuff is not the best way to promote, quote, unquote, mental toughness or toughness in general. And it’s not even indicative of real toughness is nobody’s then saying don’t do hard things. So that brings me to that point, if that model, for lack of a better term is broken, walk me through what you are proposing, right? 


What do you think, because there’s all the literature out there that defines mental toughness, there’s meta analyses from you know, 2002, to 2012, to 2019, that there’s so many permutations, and even that’s become something that people argue about in academia. And we know meanings aren’t in words, they’re in people and definitions in general. And regardless, we have to have a model. So give me some scoop. What do we do that?


Steve Magness  17:32  

Yeah. So I think it’s an incredibly loaded and confusing word because of that. So I try and simplify. And I see toughness is pretty simple. It’s navigating discomfort, uncertainty, stress, chaos, and having the space to make wise decision. And, to me, that’s what if we look on the athletic field? That’s what we’re trying to do. If you look at what are all these people trying to, you know, doing these crazy exercises? Well, it’s like, feel the pain, feel the pain? It’s like, No, it’s not about feeling the pain is the pain is that stressor. Now you have to figure out how to sit with it. Create the space so that you can make the good decision coming out of that. For a runner. That good decision is, hey, I’m not gonna listen to the My voice that tells me to slow down and quit. for a football player. That good decision is okay, I’m fatigued. I’m done. I’ve got to run my route. Right? I’ve got to execute this decision. Perfectly. 


Brett Bartholomew  18:37  

Boxers got to answer the bell Bell. 


Steve Magness  18:39  

Right, exactly. So when you put it in a kind of decision making framework, I think that helps a lot, because now it becomes about, okay, how do I navigate this stuff? In that frames? It is? Well, I can develop the skills and the toolset to allow me to like make better decisions, instead of sitting here and being like, the old school model, I would say, gives me one path. And what is that one path, like put my head down, bulldoze, like grit my teeth and try and push forward. Occasionally that might work. Right? But if you only have a hammer, in your toolbox, you’re gonna face a problem where that fails. To me it’s good a diverse array of tools, so that you can then navigate those discomfort in a much better way.


Brett Bartholomew  19:29  

But it’s an interesting piece, right? Because I’m going to build off a couple points and then get to a clear ask. I remember and I’m going to reference this notes so I don’t miss quoted in an article on 2002. They defined and I know we’re distinguishing between general toughness and mental toughness, and I’ll go back to that, but they had talked about mental toughness was having the natural or developed psychological edge, which, you know, defining a term with another ambiguous term is always tricky. That enables you to generally cope better than your opponents with the many demands competition training lifestyle that sport plays is on a performer and specifically be more consistent and better than your opponents and remaining determined focused competent in control under pressure. And it’s like what you know. 


And so I like the fact what you reference. It’s clean, it’s tight. I can think of it from the time when I boxed right. And I thought, I think that’s a great example. Because most people that don’t understand combat sport think it’s violent, and just people out there thrown No, like, there’s a reason they said, you know, Tyson said, Everybody’s got a plan until they get punched in the nose. When you’re boxing, you have to fake you still have to react. Is that a fake? Do I counter what punch? Do I throw, I have to control my breathing. And mind you got a mouth guard in its decision making under fatigue under duress. And you’re out there, it’s like, there’s no one else to blame. It’s you and that person in football, you can say they missed a block in the corporate world, you can say, oh, Betty didn’t do this, or somebody didn’t communicate Rondon hand off the email. But there has to be a certain aspect about this, that it comes down to the individual, right? I mean, there has to be some level of accountability for somebody to say like, like, I’ll frame it this way. There are plenty of coaches that I know that they would say, Yeah, I do tough things I get under the bar, I put load on myself, or you know, there’s runners that push their mileage, or try to do an ultra or whatever. But Steve, where I need you to help me is I don’t know that I view if you’re somebody that already likes to exercise or lift or do this, like, is it toughness? If you’re constantly doing those things, in your own context, that context that you like? Or is it toughness? If you routinely do things outside of that context? You know what I mean? I’m diversified that portfolio. But does that make sense?


Steve Magness  21:33  

It does. And here’s what I’ll say to that is that when you do things that you’re comfortable with, even if they bring about pain, discomfort, etc, you already know how to navigate them. Love that, yeah, if I go down to the track, and someone says, Go run a mile, I’ve got decades of experience to figure out even if I’m not in the best shape, how to navigate that. So I really think that it’s about that toolkit that you have. And the way to develop and expand that is to diversify your experiences, is to push yourself outside of your comfort zone in areas or tasks that you don’t quite have the skill set where you know, hey, when I experience this stress or uncertainty, I then do X, Y or Z, you need to be put in situations where, you know, you don’t know and actually some of the runners that I worked with elite runners would always tell me it said, Steve, every once in a while, we need to do something where it puts me in a bad place


Brett Bartholomew  22:38  

Love that Yeah, what did they did find is a bad place, though.


Steve Magness  22:41  

So they would say a bad place is something that is like, I’m not familiar with that. I don’t necessarily know how to get out. 


Brett Bartholomew  22:50  

They got to improvise. 


Steve Magness  22:51  

They’ve got to improvise, they’ve got to figure out and one of the runners put it like this is I’ve got to just start going through all the tools I got in my head and trying them and not sure what one works, because I don’t know, I’ve now I haven’t been in this situation. And, and that’s where I think it you know, Toughness is about doing hard things. But it’s about developing that toolkit. And the best way to develop that toolkit is often doing things that you’re not comfortable or familiar with.


Brett Bartholomew  23:24  

And I want to make sure I clarify here, you know, the way I interpret some of what I’ve read in your upcoming book is this doesn’t even have to be physical. Right? And the reason I asked that is to contextualize things for our audience, we do a lot of we have a workshop called the apprenticeship stealing from that Hemingway thing, right? You never would never become a master, especially when it comes to communication and leadership. And we rely heavily on improv role playing. I mean, we will take people that have to have intense conversations with, you know, a boss loved one, whatever. And we’ll put them right into that moment. And we’ll turn up the will enact it four different ways. They’ll do it, where what’s the absolute worst case scenario? Cool, hit them with it, you know, their role playing partner. Now let’s take what’s the best case scenario. Now let’s play with the middle ground because that chaos brings clarity, you know, for them, they’re able to get real life perspective to those moments and you think about it, we don’t really have a way to rehearse or refine for real life in conversations. So to me, you know, I’ve never actively marketed that as like, oh, it’s gonna make it tough. Like we say it’s gonna make you more adaptable. But I would say that that takes a certain amount of toughness to face that kind of ambiguity, wouldn’t you? Or is it just physical?


Steve Magness  24:32  

No. 100% though, the way I look at it is anything that can create that kind of uncertainty, and that pull towards oh my gosh, I want to get out of this situation. Like that is an opportunity for growth and in this toughness, and I’m so glad I love those examples. Because even when I work with athletes, a lot of the work I do on this side is on purely psychological things. So I’ve done I’ve done roleplaying, like you, I’ve done, hey, let’s sit across from each other and stare at each other’s eyes for like 10 minutes, you know, because that makes you feel really uncomfortable.


Brett Bartholomew  25:10  

And that to you right now, i dont know if I want to look at the zoom.


Steve Magness  25:15  

I know we gotta go back and forth. But you know, the other thing that again, similar to what you’ve done there is in group sessions, it’s sometimes you put two people in front of the group, and you put you, you roleplay, or you put them in a very difficult spot in terms of having a difficult conversation, and so much in our life outside of the athletic fields, is we shy away from having those difficult conversations, because it makes us feeling uneasy, and anxiety. And anytime we do that, what are we telling ourselves, we’re telling ourselves, hey, like, escape, protect, don’t go here, instead of saying, hey, like, this is a little uncomfortable, I gotta learn how to sit with this and navigate this and get on the other side of it.


Brett Bartholomew  26:04  

Right? Well, and I think it’s so ironic just coming from a background where, you know, you go to these mega conferences, where strength coaches and performance coaches would come. And you know, they do some of the anybody would hop into a practical if they could practice, you know, a lift or training or whatever. And there was some real reticence in that community. When we started, our people will do that with exercise, but with communication, they’re scared shitless, you know, and I remember asking a coach, at one point in time he had not wanted to come for a while, and he eventually came, and I go, you know, what was it for you? And he said, you know, the reality is if somebody gave me a tool on how to coach a certain aspect of a technique better, or, you know, just something that had to deal with the physical aspect of training, it was a suggestion, if somebody criticized me or give me feedback as a communicator, it seemed like a personal affront. And it would just it hit a little bit closer to home. And I said, well, then what changed? He’s like, Well, I’m going into a more of a leadership role. And that just had to happen. And he’s like, because the reality is I’m not teaching exercises all day. Now. He’s like, now I’m dealing with staff. 


And, so that’s what I want to ask you to write because that’s a situational context change. And so using a very specific applied scenario, and I understand you don’t know the individual, so a general answer here is fine, but I know your stuff is highly tactical. Got a good friend named zack, zack owns a tremendous facility in the Northeast works with kids. And that whole thing is kind of like it’s an underground approach, right? It’s really teaching kids physicality, smart strength training, but really uses it to develop them the right way. Right? It’s a great gym, you’d love it. It’s just got antiquated, but it’s very fun. But eventually, you know, Zack, like all of us come up. And whether it’s the CEO that doesn’t want to change or the kid, it’s just like, No, I’m not going to do it. You know, and he says, I don’t get it. You know, I’ve done this for a long time. And he’s one of the most well known guys, he’s like, still kids throw me because I understand you need to meet them halfway. I understand that you got to motivate them, and you got to be compassionate and loving, get that don’t have a problem doing that. But sometimes you do got to drop the hammer in some way. And in today’s society, I don’t even know what the hell that means anymore. So Zack did have somebody let’s say it’s, you know, little Johnny. And Johnny is still in that torque phase. And he’s in that biological ecosystem of adolescence where we know serotonin is low. Dopamine is low, melatonin is high prefrontal cortex isn’t developed. It’s just this visceral monster. How do you if you can increase toughness in an intransigent kid?


Steve Magness  28:34  

Oh, man, you’re gonna force me to solve all of the world’s problems. 


Brett Bartholomew  28:39  

No, no, no, just this one, because we talked about we can, hey, it can’t just be exercises, we can’t just make them do drills. You can’t, you know, you’re limited in some contexts to and it’s the same thing, right? Like, you could answer the CEO version of that as well. somebody pays you $10,000 For an hour executive call. And they say, Hey, I want to do this. And you’re like, well, listen, let’s slow down a minute, let’s reevaluate. But at the end of the day, if they’re the power broker in that context, you know what I mean? And you’ve got to kind of find that middle ground, choose either one of those destinations, what are some examples of how you would approach just that concept of influencing them or addressing toughness? In a way that is not what this extremist mainstream kind of thing is doing now?


Steve Magness  29:19  

Yeah. So the way I like to do it is first you gotta you got to connect. If you don’t connect, nothing matters. So I’ll use the kid example, with kids is how in the world do I take some concept that I know this idea of toughness, etc, and translate that into that kid’s head? Right? So for example, maybe you know, if he’s a early teen preteen whatever, like he’s probably navigating the world of girls. Right? I mean, that’s what a lot of things have been part of it. Yeah, definitely part of it. So they’re, I might use the example of hey, like, have you ever texted a girl or expressed your interested, and you know, you’re waiting for that text reply to come back. And you’re sitting there like, oh my gosh, like I reached out, I cried, and then your mind starts to spiral, right? And you start to freak out and you might like, Hey, I’m going to text her again, or I’m going to check her, or Snapchat or Tik Tok, or whatever it is to see if she’s active and seeing the text. And you can kind of spiral out of control. Right? And, by the end that you’re, you’re this kid who’s just like, oh, my gosh, should I elicit a text barrage? Or should I step back? That is mental toughness, right There You’ve got a spiral of emotions, you’ve got an urge to act that need to like no to text barrage. What do you do? How do you navigate that situation?


Brett Bartholomew  30:52  

Yeah, no, I think the key thing that you said there, too, is translate it into what’s in their head. So I remember, I don’t want to put you on the spot without doing the same I think of an athlete that I had worked with once Rookie of the Year really sharp, wide receiver and had no interest in the weight room, it was clear that I wasn’t going to be able to push him much there. And you got to pick your battles, right. But I remember I asked him one time, I’m like, you know, do you think you’re one of the best at what you do? And he’s like, I know it, and I go, Okay, well, what within that gives you the most competence, and he’s like route running. I’ve always like, the way I run routes is like, it’s precision, it’s on a dime. And you know, he would be out there all the time running. But you know, he always runs it in cleats, as he would write, you’d run routes and cleats. But one day, we’re talking about just constraints. And I’m like, do you feel like you’d be that good in any situation? I know, I would. I go cool. Let’s run some routes tomorrow, without your cleats. And he’s like, why would I do that? And I go, just let’s do it. So he comes out and inevitably, right deceleration is impacted the angle at which he can cut his interacted the tourists hot. Alright, and we slowed it down for any of you purists out there that are like God put them in an injurious situation. We’re not idiots, right. But the point was, is he always wanted to learn speed and a route running and all this didn’t want to learn deceleration. Didn’t want to learn that, but now and he’s like, What, man, I’d never run. He gets really frustrated. He goes, Man, I’ve never run barefoot. And I go, Yeah, I get that. But like, what do you notice that he’s like, Well, I gotta slow down. I can’t go as fast I go, Are there any situations in sport where that’s advant, right, and we go down this and even if he wants to play Jimmy dickhead, for a while he gets it. You know, he may not even agree with you there, you know, but what you notice I was just like, Listen, man, people don’t get hurt, running and jumping, they get hurt, cutting, and landing and trying to stop and decelerate. And so once a week that he wanted to do that, you know why? Because whether he wanted to have that false bravado or not, he was humbled. He couldn’t go as fast as he wanted to speed was part of his identity. Something was and then I just gave him a new challenge. And all it did is take his shoes off. And so it’s like, you can’t change the game, change the rules. You know, that’s what I hear you saying to a degree, like change the rules, translate it into something different, find a different context, it doesn’t need to be this one ad, find one thing, no different than trying to get kids. I know, you talked about parenting a lot on Twitter, you know, there’s sometimes I gotta get my kid eat a vegetable, I’ll put peanut butter on that if I need to, you know, like, find a vehicle to get them to do something. And it’s just adding a little bit of flavor.


Steve Magness  33:10  

Yeah, I love that example. Brett Because it’s shifting that constraint and getting them it’s almost like you want that aha moment. Right? Right, where they connect this idea that you have to, hey, this can help me or this is potentially, you know, something that I can improve on. And I think this is why, you know, I said number one is connect is like you got to know the people you’re working with, right? If you know what buttons and what motivators they have and what their like their mindset is on how to approach this thing, then that gives you the avenue to try different paths into connect. And I think that’s what it’s all about. It’s not about like, any perfect drill or perfect thing, it’s how do I get this idea I have so that it implants in that other athletes head or that other person’s head where they can see it. And if you do that, then you’re open up, then you can do the thing that you actually want to do


Brett Bartholomew  34:08  

when you hit a key word there with perfect, which brings me into the pillars of toughness that you mentioned in your book. And, you know, in my upcoming book almost toyed around with the idea of the title, imperfect leadership, but spelled in a way that it almost looks like I’m perfect, because so much of the world has this facade. And that’s one of your like, first four pillars, right? If we’re reevaluating toughness and talking about all right, we don’t want to just complain about what doesn’t work. Let’s talk about what works. Step one is like ditch facade and embrace reality. Right? Would you mind kind of going through that a little bit in terms of whether it’s tough coaches, tough parents, tough guys, real inner strength? What does it mean to ditch a facade embrace reality?


Steve Magness  34:43  

Yeah, you know what it is, is if you look at it, and there’s deep biology and psychology behind this, which is if you’re going to face something, it’s not about that false bravado or that external strength. It’s about the inner strength that you have, right? It’s about understanding that what you’re capable of and what the demands of the task are.


Brett Bartholomew  35:10  

Sorry to interrupt, but do you think most people know what they’re capable of something that toughness people would say is, well, how do you know if you haven’t pushed it?


Steve Magness  35:17  

No. But how do you figure that out? That’s the key. How do you figure it out? Confidence demands evidence? So how do you get evidence, you try different things, it comes back to diversifying your tasks and your skills and your challenges. If you try different things, you have evidence of, hey, here’s where my strength is. Here’s where I feel really comfortable. Here’s where my weaknesses, I think the facade is when you walk around and you’re like, Nah, I got all this. Like, I’m the man like, I got all this. Yeah, once you actually face something that puts you in a position where it’s it’s difficult, that facade goes away. It like fatigue, pain, anxiety, discomfort exposes us all.


Brett Bartholomew  36:05  

And when you are you that, like, once you get to that point, that that, like you actually learn to enjoy that. I mean, don’t you enjoy failure? I mean, obviously, it’s relative, right? But don’t you enjoy failure a little bit more at this point in your life than you used to? Because you’ve learned it doesn’t define you?


Steve Magness  36:19  

Exactly. That’s the key part is this. And this is where you can like, another thing I talked about in the book is like, you use that those feelings, emotions as feedback. So failure to me and you because we’ve had experiences feedback. Yeah. It’s not something where I put the wall up, and I defend and protect and say, How dare you? Why did it fail? Like it was, you know, the refs fault? Or the administration or whatever? Have you? It wasn’t my fault. Like, that’s an ego protective thing. When we play out of that area we’re playing from a place of fear, right? We can never be as good as we can be because like, our brain learns, like up when when this person is about to fail or get embarrassed, or what have you, like, throw on protective gear like, and don’t grow? Well. And


Brett Bartholomew  37:11  

that’s like, failure definitely becomes I hate cliches, but it’s not an identity, it’s an opportunity. And you think about it, again, just watching my two year old and this is a part of like this where you haven’t you know, you have a world that just doesn’t learn experientially anymore. The two year old, right? He’s gonna test everything, he’s gonna crawl here, this is hot, this is cold, that hurts, I don’t like it. But as we get older, and we get more knowledge, we live in our head, and then it’s less and less experiential, right? And so, of course, I’m not saying Hey, be embrace your inner two year old, but like, if we can, if people didn’t realize that, like, yeah, if you want to grow, you’re gonna have to embrace more of that experiential piece there and, and outside of the context that you’re usually capable of, right? Let’s get less bumper stickers of running purists saying I did 26.2 Then more of those things, saying like, you know, I worked on different aspects of my Ws, shitty bumper sticker. I’ve worked on different aspects of myself, but getting some other piece there. Because again, it’s just like, I think that that like, it goes into our desire to be seen and recognized so much that this facade gets built up. What do you think about that?


Steve Magness  38:15  

Yeah, you know, I think it’s one of the biggest problems we face in society, especially for young people. Because think about it, they now grew up being told to chase the facade because what is Instagram, Twitter, social media, Tik Tok, etc. Now, I mean, I’m on social media, I get it. Like we, we kind of have to be sure. But when you’re young, and that message is craft this identity, that is maybe not real. Like, that’s a very dangerous thing to play with over time.


Brett Bartholomew  38:49  

Yeah, I mean, think about what you just said, right? Like Instagram, when I had gotten on that it was a place that I almost liked about this informal blog, right? Like, I could put some thoughts put an image, but now you mentioned the term real, you know, that’s what they push. And so people are not real. And they have to push these real we’re just talking about it before this stuff that I used to post that was just pretty basic would get tremendous engagement, but ever since they’ve tried competing with tick tock and everything else. I mean, you would think that I have like two followers Suzy and Betty in a closet somewhere just being like, that was great. You know, and but like, the fact is, is I look at it it like a down market at the time of this recording, right? The stock market just eating crap, what do you do? You keep buying, it’s just dollar cost averaging. So when people say, Well, you change up your social media, are you going to nope, nope, I’m going to continue to be the version of myself that I need to be now. Well, we mess around with different forms of creative, sure, but the message is the same. And I don’t know that people have the like, is it real toughness, being willing to stick through those kinds of moments and just say, I’m gonna dollar cost average, I’m gonna be consistent. I’m gonna keep I’m gonna stay true to the message. And I understand that hockey stick growth, whatever that looks like in the context of the discussion might be 345 years. It’s super compensation. Right,isn’t playing the long game toughness?


Steve Magness  40:03  

Yeah. 100% I mean, it’s it, it comes back to what I said at the beginning. If you look at it from a decision making framework and taking wise action, what is the wise action? When you’re in a stock market that’s plunging? What are you know, or use whatever example, the wise action is. So, don’t freak out. Keep your head on straight, and just stay the course. And I think that is the key when you relate it to toughness, because what would you know the intuition, the poll is, oh, my gosh, I gotta take action, like the world’s falling apart. Like, I’ll sell this and sell this and do this and feel like I’m doing something because I’m taking action. But the difficult thing is to just sit there and be like, mistake with my plan, you know, it’ll pay off in three, four, or five, six, whatever years. But this is what history tells me. This is what the evidence tells me. I don’t need to freak out


Brett Bartholomew  41:02  

when it makes me think of and this is a genuine question, right? I think of these next three pillars, one, listen to your body to respond instead of react, and then transcend discomfort. And give me some grace here, because I’m just thinking of this in real time and trying to apply it because I know somebody out there can relate to this. And it’s why your works important. You know, I’ve redefined it lately, in a certain way that. So I’ve been off way more than I could chew these last few years trying to get my PhD trying to get my doctorate trying to write a new book, growing a small business doing this podcast, we’ve run a mastermind group of other people that are trying to grow stuff, I just bit off more than I could chew. I thought like, alright, well, the doctorate informs our workshops, and also informs my book. So I have this triad. It’ll all be very smooth. But then we have a kid. Oh, there’s COVID Oh, you gotta remote team. Oh, whatever else happens, right? And so there are times like this, where, you know, old me would be like, I’ve got to get tougher and more dedicated. I do need to wake up earlier, I need to get more work done. I need to get my workout. And then there’s the version of me that like, I bashed my head against the wall trying to do that. 


And I realized, you know what, man, you just got to play a different role in your life. I have almost as silly as it sounds, Steve. I’ve thought of myself like this normal, Brett would lift four days a week, do some other stuff very physically active, whatever. This Brett, unfortunately, is not as active now. I’ll still go for walks, I’ll still live to three days a week, I tried to do it. But I fail sometimes. And then I’m on the road a lot, too. And I’ve thought, okay, dude, you’re not so much a failure, if you’re not the physical version of yourself that you were two or three years ago before you do these things on. Because the role you’re playing right now as a business owner, a dad and all these things in a time of immense growth and chaos is just different. And so is like, this is where I struggle with is I can easily seduce myself into believing, hey, I’m making the tough choice, and doing the right thing by just saying, Hey, man, sometimes you gotta have to keep your ass in the chair. Get it done. You’re not going to win this game. You just gotta grind this one out. But then I wonder but does giving myself excuses like that are things does that lead me more towards mediocrity? And even somebody like me can get confused because you know, and your parents, my mom will be like, You’re doing too much. No, I’m not mom, I’m not doing enough. So I try to figure like is taking the rational approach and just adapting and dealing with life as it is right now? Is that tough? And if so when does it get to the point where I might seduce myself into mediocrity and just start making excuses to where I could always think I’m doing the tough thing?


Steve Magness  43:31  

Yeah. So I think this is why I kind of wrote this book is because there’s that nuance there. Right? There’s that nuance where it’s, it’s really easy and tempting to best be like, Oh, Toughness is this, it’s pushing ahead, putting your head down, or toughness is this. It’s just like, walking away and just making these decisions. And the reality is, like, it’s tough, because it’s nuanced. We don’t know what the correct decision is. We have no idea. The analogy I’ll give you is this is whenever I talked to, you know, world class climbers who would, you know, climb things like Mount Everest. They tell me, Steve, the toughest decision was when you’re getting close to the peak. You see the summit. And you have to decide, do I have the energy to make it not all the way up, but also all the way back down? 


Brett Bartholomew  44:23  

Now it sucks


Steve Magness  44:25  

Right? In, going down sucks. They’re like, I couldn’t make it to the top. But can I make it all the way down? And it’s so tempting just to be like, I’m just going to push to the top because you spent months years etc, of training money, just to like, check this box, but you have to keep part of your head on and keep your mind steady where you say, hey, but my family loves me. I have kids at home. I don’t want to die. Can I do this or not? And I think that wrestling with that is what you’re talking about there is as long as you have Have those moments where you’re checking in? Where you’re saying, Where am I at? am I working hard enough? Am I using this as an excuse to just feel like, ah, you know what, I don’t want to do this and  I’m just balanced, you know, so it’s okay. Like, those are, those are tough things, you got to wrestle with you in your head, but it’s the tough thing to me to do is that you’re actually wrestling with them.


Brett Bartholomew  45:27  

Yeah, that’s a good point. And I think, you know, even a member of our coalition group one time when they were talking about overwhelm,  I said, Listen, you know, and this is, again, the nuance to it as you speak to, and then I want to shift gears into something else you talked about in the book, parenting, I think, is the ultimate tough thing to talk about. But he said, You know, I’m overwhelmed, blah, blah, blah. And I said, Listen, for as much as there is out there about, you know, taking time for yourself and mindfulness, sometimes you’re just going to be overwhelmed. And that’s okay. You know what I mean? There were times in my 20s. And there’s times right now, even in my 30s, where it pays to be overwhelmed, because I’m laying there, it’s all seasons, right? There’s no different than, like, my relatives who are farmers, there’s times a year, it just sucks. You know what I mean? And, I think that that’s, again, the nuances. There’s times where you just got up, hey, I got to scale back right now, this is what it is. And then there’s times where no, you’re gonna get your ass beat down a little bit, and you just need to be okay with that life isn’t meant to be in perfect harmony. I mean, then we’ll get into eighth off Huxley’s thing, right, where like, if that was the world, holy crap. And I think people they don’t understand and why your work is so balanced and wonderful, is people don’t understand. You need chaos. We can’t let this uber mindfulness movement win. Just like we can’t let the misguided toughness thing when like that, again, as with most things, it’s in the gray area. 


And I think that, you know, that brings me to the parenting side, and you need to educate me on some terms. So when we think about toughness, and parenting, you talk about some research, and it goes into responsiveness and demandingness. I want to give you a broad canvas here, talk to me about the concept of toughness and parenting and the message you want to get across.


Steve Magness  47:01  

Yeah, this was my favorite section. And just to, to be clear, I’m not a parent yet, me and my wife, we’re not I’m gonna know 


Brett Bartholomew  47:09  

your balls over that one. 


Steve Magness  47:11  

So I’m not, but my wife is a elementary school teacher. So I get to watch master fullness of, you know, guiding young kids. And this weekend


Brett Bartholomew  47:22  

Can we get her around the podcast, by the way, I want to talk to her a great episode. 


Steve Magness  47:26  

Yeah, no, she’s fantastic. And you know, the best. The only good thing I’d say of the pandemic is I got to watch her teach. And it was phenomenal. Like, if you want to watch, this is an aside, but if you want to see high performance, go watch a good elementary school teacher because they have to wrestle around 20 Plus kids, keep them on task, keep their attention, shift all this stuff. And it’s phenomenal. 


Brett Bartholomew  47:51  

I mean, we see this when our son goes to daycare, you know, I mean, like, what, you know, we’re wiping his nose the other day, allergies are crazy. If you come into Atlanta, and you don’t think you have allergies, Atlanta will show you you do. And the teacher just comes up at his nose, just, you know, she just comes up with her hands, right? We can question the sanitary nature of this later. No tissue just goes womp we’re just like, Okay, that is how, you know, you’ve taught daycare for a while. So we’re getting Hillary, we’re getting your wife on the show. But yes, talk to me about toughness and parenting and some of the concepts there.


Steve Magness  48:23  

Yeah. So it’s really fascinating. The research shows that, essentially, with parenting is there’s these two concepts. Okay, there’s demandingness, which means setting high expectations, like having, you know, some sort of like, control over your children discipline, all that stuff. And then there’s responsiveness, which is, am I taking care of my child’s needs? Am I responsive to the signals that they’re sending me? And often what happens is, you know, in our world, we have a lot of demandingness, where we have high expectations of our children, we think if we give them lots of rules, etc. If we’re authoritarian to achieve get in bed, all of that, that things will work out. Well, what the research clearly shows is this demandingness without responsiveness leads to kids who don’t behave well, who can’t handle difficult challenges, some wonderful research in the military, who parents who come from our kids who come from parents who are high demand low responsiveness, they wash out in the military, they don’t make it and you’re sitting here being like, but these are the parents with all the rules and expectations and all that. It doesn’t work unless you have the responsiveness.


Brett Bartholomew  49:49  

So correct me if I’m wrong here and pardon the naivete. Isn’t this in essence, you know, can’t we look at responsiveness a little bit as autonomy you know, like you okay,


Steve Magness  49:59  

yes. Exactly, it’s that it’s, and this is where we’ve talked about nuance a lot. It’s the bringing together of both worlds. It’s not saying, hey, choose one or the other, or hey, don’t use either side. It’s saying the best parenting and there’s lots of research shows that when you couple of this high expectations with this high responsiveness or autonomy, good things happen. Your children are more resilient, they do better academically, they learn to have better emotional control. And they are also more like disciplined over the long haul.


Brett Bartholomew  50:35  

Oh, go ahead. I was gonna give you an example. 


Steve Magness  50:38  

No, go for it. 


Brett Bartholomew  50:39  

I was gonna say, you know this, and I’m a first time parent, right? And, David, David’s our content guy, hope you’re listening, because you probably knocked up like, you probably have kids all over, you know, like, let’s be real. But I think about this, we had a big issue when our son was moving from the crib to the toddler bed, and you’ll get to know this really well. Right. And so the point I’m getting to at just above the fold headline is he has a clear bedtime. But you know, once he moved to the toddler bed, which is open, he theoretically you know, we’ve reversed the locks on the doors and everything, and we have a baby cam. And we’ve secured everything down. I gotta hedge this in case people want to come after me. But he could theoretically run around his room for 12 hours if he wants, but it’s in bed at eight, you know, and it was very interesting process because it’s hard enough to get a kid to sleep, you know, beyond a certain age, they go through sleep regression, so on and so forth. Then they get very comfortable with their bed, you know, not to compare a dog in the kennel, but they learned to love the constraint of the bed. But then all of a sudden, you know, once he had tried that, like he got tried getting out of his crib, and they say, hey, when that happens, go to a toddler bed, because the last thing you want is your kid waking up at two in the morning drowsy, right. Many of us can’t stumbled in the bathroom. Well at 3am, let alone a kid. No motor control. And so we’re like, Yeah, we don’t want him to end up on his head. Off comes a crib. But then we didn’t like we had to wait for Amazon to deliver the toddler bed. So we’ve got this like makeshift, like dorm room where the mattress is on the floor. And we put him in there. And he’s going batshit crazy, because he didn’t know what to do. You know, you just got him like the first year in 18 months of his life, get in the crib. Now he’s got a mattress on the floor. So he’s just losing it. Eventually we’re like, well, we’ll figure it out. 


And, you know, he slept, he passed out on the floor one night after a huge tirade. The next day, he figured out how to get the recliner that was in the room that then we had to move out and explain to people why we had recliners and dressers in our hallway, because he managed to squeak it around, pass out in the recliner. But then eventually, you know what, we put a pillow on the bed, we put a blanket on the bed, because he was at the age where he could do a little bit more of that. But my point is, is as time went on, he figured it out. So we have that we have that demandingness buddy, it’s bedtime, we’re gonna go read books and brush your teeth. But then once it’s bedtime, he can get out of the bed a little bit. He can do whatever, but his button knows that that’s where the bed is. And there’s some autonomy there. Good example. Bad example.


Steve Magness  52:55  

Yeah, no,I love it. Because that’s the balance we’re looking for. Yeah, right. And, you know, my wife tells me all the time, I’m like, how do you handle these kids that like, freak out in school, because she’s worked with, like kindergarteners and first graders when it’s their, like, first time at school away from their parent, sometimes. And she’s like, You have to remember that kids, it’s like, every new experience is like this barrage of emotions and feelings. Yep. And if you see a kid throw a tantrum, that’s because he doesn’t know how to process those things. And you’ve got to allow them to process those things. And sometimes give them the tools when they’re old enough to process some things. But if you like, alleviate it right away, or if you yell at them and be like we don’t do this, blah, blah, blah. Like they never develop the capacity, that emotional control to figure out how to navigate this really strange world that they just find themselves plopped into that is like, you know, sending all sorts of alarm bells throughout their brain.


Brett Bartholomew  54:01  

No question. I mean, parenting is the ultimate coaching and leadership job and see ultimate contextually gray area, you know, and there’s always going to be people that, you know, I don’t know if he listens to us, but we’ve had neighbors before that. Just ultimate helicopter parents watch them outside. And it’s like, you know, the kid’s gonna be fine. You know, I mean for and listen, this goes to parents as well. And I’m guilty too, but I’m just poking fun at my wife because she’s in the other room and it’s fun to get a rise out of her. even think about the act of parenting in the sense that now we’re briars, much like we are with toughness, and everything else was so much information about parenting, you can get mommy guilt and you know, parenting guilt, like, oh, we should be doing this. And we had to remember I’m like, listen, kids that once upon a time sucked on tubers and figured it out. You know what I mean? Like, just because the kid isn’t eating frozen, like vegan, organic frozen pops, or he isn’t displaying, you know, this motor skill or this language capacity. There’s no average there’s no average for this stuff, right people To express things in a variety of different ways. So it’s, you got to give some constraints, you got to give a sandbox, and you’ve got to trust that you’re gonna figure that out a little bit. Otherwise, how are you going to grow? And more, most importantly, you know, like nothing good comes from just putting them in these positions where they don’t have autonomy to learn, because those lessons  they’re never remembered or encoded the same way. If it didn’t come from their own experience, I can’t wait for you to be your love parenthood.


Steve Magness  55:26  

Yeah, no, I can’t wait either. So you know, like, I think you’re spot on. And to bring it kind of full circle to what we talked about earlier, I think this is a great area where parents can work on their toughness. Because, of course, as a parent, like, there’s that like insecurity that pull to like, oh, my gosh, I gotta protect my child, like, I don’t want him to do this, I gotta feed on this special vegetables, etc, etc. I think those are opportunities for you, as a parent to learn how to sit with that. And not let that insecurity drive things and realize that your child is going to be okay. And we see this, you know, I saw this, especially in my coaching world life all the time, even with older, you know, teens and stuff, where parents are insecure about like, oh, my gosh, I have to make sure my child has like, the best equipment, the best personal trainer, we got to go to the best school for their athletic pursuit. And that often got in the way because it was the parents driving the ship and not the kid, like figuring out how to navigate these things and develop the skills because they always had the parent in the background being like, Oh, you have this problem in your athletic life? I’m going to help solve it.


Brett Bartholomew  56:45  

Yeah, ya know, quite well, listen, there’s a lot I want to continue to ask you. But out of respect your time, I’m gonna ask you one more thing. And it’s something I’m passionate about, although our audience is gonna give me hell, because I’ve mentioned George Carlin on our recent podcast. But here’s another George Carlin ism, I want to talk about how this applies to the self esteem movement, you know, and something else you talked about in your book, and then you’ll get the final word. But George Carlin had this wonderful thing in one of his stand ups where he said, you know, he goes off on that any, every child is special. And he goes, I’ll prove that wrong with my usual flawless logic, every adult is not special. And he goes, so at what point? Does it go from being special to not special? And, you know, we saw this backfire tremendously, right. And it’s something that you wrote about wonderfully. But we’ve seen this. And we’ve also I think we’ve even started to see the mindset stuff of growth and mindset, and all those things kind of be misinterpreted, but the self esteem movement and how that applies, what man


have we gotten wrong there? What is your book talked about in that context? of you know, like, yeah, it’s good. But when did it go wrong?


Steve Magness  57:50  

Yeah, you know, I think people of our generation grew up in the midst of the self esteem movement, where we were told we are great. You know, I remember all sorts of school assemblies where it was just like, they were designed to build up our self esteem and tell us, everybody loved us, and that we were special. And then I was great at everything. But here’s the problem is our brain and our biology is smarter than like, a stupid humans. Right? This is the problem. And if you look at the research, it’s actually true. When we get complimented or told we’re great or told that like, we’re special, and we didn’t earn it, we don’t have the biological reaction, that like cements that, in some research, you know, often, testosterone, we get a momentary bump of testosterone when we do something difficult. And then like, get praise from someone we care about, like a coach or a parent. If we don’t do the difficult thing, and we just get the praise, we don’t get the bump and testosterone, like our brain and body are smarter than us. So I think a, it doesn’t work to instill this kind of like deep seated belief and confidence that we should have in ourselves on things that matter. And be, it gets back to that what we talked about earlier, which is it creates this facade. If I walk around thinking, everybody loves me, like, I’m the best soccer player, I got a trophy for this, like everybody in my class thinks I’m special. My parents think I’m special. What happens when we get smacked in the face of the reality of life, which is we’re going to suck at some things. We’re not going to have maybe the development of different psychological components of empathy or compassion or whatever it is because like, we all have different characteristics. Like when we get smacked in the face, our brain realizes our mind realizes like oh crap, like all that like my almost my idea Maybe tied around these, like, feel good stories like that was kind of bullshit. It wasn’t true. Yeah. And


Brett Bartholomew  57:53  

I found that it kind of works the opposite way to where like, sometimes I’ll teach, you know, workshops and there’ll be, you know, two days, we’ll start at eight, you know, we might go to 5 30 or six, and, you know, you’ll come home and, and you don’t always get all the feedback, you know, you like, what we’ll do post serve, and we’ll do post follow ups and everything, but you can get feedback in the moment. But you know, like, there would be times I came home, and I’m just like, Man, if I don’t have friends that I can talk to that, do this the same, like, do this as well. And I’m not getting feedback, you know, I get feedback from colleagues that come in our colleague, Ali is now learning, she’s teaching these workshops as well. But for awhile, when I was doing on my own, I’d come home and my wife would be like, how to go. And all you can really go off is the post feedback forms. But those are attendees, right? Like, I would crave feedback from another person that had been in my position. And so that actually, like, I don’t want to say wreck my self esteem, I’m a functioning human being, but like it would I there was a while where I’m like, you might good at what I do. And I think that same thing, when I would travel all over, you know, to give a 60 minute keynote on one end, you could be like, cool, I travel 80 to 100,000 miles bend to 26 countries spoken all over, I must be good at something people ask me to. But then you walk away and you’re like, but am I even really making a difference? Do they even remember half of what I say? And I went down the opposite rabbit hole where like, I found myself just constantly like wondering, like, I’m busting my ass. And I wonder if I’m even doing a good job. Because like, you know, if you have I use hip hop a lot, you know, certain musicians can be like, I love the way you did that on that song. That was great. I didn’t, I don’t always have a lot of that I don’t have a lot of friends in my space. 


And so that’s it’s funny how it can work the opposite way too. And I think that can even be the case with authors, right? Like we chronically don’t like our own work. Like, I don’t know about you. I mean, do you go back and reread any of your old books much other than like, citing, right, like all look at some aspects of conscious coaching. But I mean, there was also five years ago, you know, and I can barely listen myself on the podcast. I think the other thing that’s interesting here, that I think your work is highly applicable to so I want people to make sure they get is, is hiring. And let me explain where because do you talk Forgive me, do you talk about hiring in the book is


Steve Magness  1:02:18  

I don’t no, 


Brett Bartholomew  1:02:19  

okay, because I got about two thirds of the way through that proof. But I think about you know, we’re bringing on somebody new in June, and they’re very accomplished at what they do where they do it, but they’re gonna get their ass handed to them, when they learn. It’s a very different job here. You know, and that says nothing about their capabilities. It says everything about context. We’re also running like facilitator courses where other people can go coach on our behalf. But they’ve got to go through a three day intensive. Well, of course, there’s all these wonderful, intelligent people that are going to come, you know, no, Naka, it’s not like they don’t have the capability. But it’s one thing to sit there and talk about what it’s like to run these live intensive events where people from all over the world come, it’s another thing to run it. And not only because you’re going to make mistakes, that’s par for the course. But you’re gonna find that you develop just the right amount of self hate, because you’re always going to question what you did how you did it. And so I just think it’s interesting, or even, you know, I mentioned, David, you know, David’s here recording this right now. And there’s gonna be some things that I’m like, Hey, man, you could let’s try this. Let’s try that. And some of this stuff is new for David. And he’s got to taste that failure. He’s got to do those hard things. And he’s got to do them in different contexts to become better at that thing. So I just think it’s wonderful for hiring because I don’t think enough people as part of their onboarding, throw people to the fire, and then match that with intensive feedback. So now they can do two hard things, I got thrown into it. Now I’ve got to accept the feedback. And anyway, I just think that that is a huge application of where we’ll use your book.


Steve Magness  1:03:46  

I love it. And you know, I think the key on that is that you have created an environment where that is challenging, and not like threatening, meaning you know, you guys know that this is to get people prepared to get better to get prepared, etc, etc. I think that is the key is creating that challenging, but not threatening environment where people can thrive and be put in difficult situations where they can kind of struggle and navigate.


Brett Bartholomew  1:04:17  

Well with that psychological safety is is letting them know that’s the case when we hire we try to say this is a very self competitive environment. We expect a lot out of each other. We’re here for each other, but like calm if you want to be challenged, don’t come if you’re just looking to escape your other job. Don’t come if you’re looking for your handheld, come if you want to hold yourself to a higher standard, because we believe you’re capable of that, but we’re not going to do it for you. Alright, I’ve taken enough of your time. We want to buy the hell out of your book. You know, there’s some people that may even want to stalk you. Where can they find you? Where can they buy the book? When does it come out? June? Yes,


Steve Magness  1:04:51  

yes. So June 21. It’ll be on sale. You can get it wherever books are sold Amazon, Barnes and Noble all that stuff. You can Find it on my website, and my newsletter at the growth equation and follow on social, which is all at Steve Magnus.


Brett Bartholomew  1:05:10  

And I heard that the first 1000 copies, you’re giving away an article of your clothing, just random bits out of your closet that are signed, so you can’t beat that deal. Steve, I appreciate you’re always so wonderful to talk to your video. Like you walked that line. Perfect. You’re wonderful intellectual, but you have a great sense of humor. I leave our conversations feeling more relaxed. So thank you for spending some time with us.


Steve Magness  1:05:32  

 Yeah, thanks for having me. This was a lot of fun Brett.


Brett Bartholomew  1:05:34  

Alright guys, until next time, Brett Bartholomew, art of coaching podcast, talk to you soon. 

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