In Art Of Coaching Podcast, Podcasts

The leadership world has run rampant with the misconstrued idea that self care, thinking more sustainably, or fighting for yourself as hard as you fight for others is selfish.

I’m here to tell you – IT’S A MYTH.

And from relationships and work outcomes to mental health, the consequences of this kind of thinking can be devastating.

So while today’s episode doesn’t give you any mind-blowing or ground breaking information, this advice and awareness can save people a lot of hurt – socially, physically, emotionally, and psychologically.  We specifically cover:

  • The mindset & habits that tempt us to fall into this line of thinking (7:00)
  • What self-care means and some simple strategies to apply it in your life (18:40)
  • How self-care relates to leadership (20:30)
  • Reflection questions to help you recognize where you might be falling short (26:30)

Referenced Resources:

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Brett Bartholomew  00:04

All right, let’s get right to it. If you have listened before, I want to thank you for taking the time to sit down with me once again, or if you’re doing tours or whatever. If you are a new listener, something that you’ll come to find about this podcast is we try to give you a wide variety of outputs. Sometimes I’ll do solo episodes or even rants that are more educational. And yeah, some of them can even be emotional in nature. Other times we’ll have guest interviews and these are real people. These are not a bunch of celebrities that we’ve scripted things with. These are people that are improvising, having actual genuine, imperfect conversations on the show, and other times like what we’re gonna do right now it’s a quick episode, something that remind you of something that can be easy to forget something that could have a negative impact on your life if you don’t manage it. And so we want to provide an episode that gives you an opportunity to put this in your back pocket and say for a rainy day and remind yourself that you feel like man, I’m getting out. I’m getting out of sync. I’m kind of forgetting what I need to do to take my next step and get out of this rut. episodes like this are meant to help so I’m not gonna try to blow your mind. I’m not gonna try to you know, go on for three to four hours about research, a certain subject, anything like that, I’m gonna give you something that I hope will be beneficial to you and also something that you could even tell your kids someday or pass along to a friend that might need some help. 


Brett Bartholomew  01:03

So let me contextualize this. A while back, I had shared a tweet and the tweet was pretty simple. It said Don’t forget to take care of yourself. Leadership rhetoric, always talks about serving others first and not worrying about you and that’s nonsense. You can’t pour from an empty cup to serve others well, doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your own well being or your needs. And so I also want to be clear about something else that we included with that. It’s a photo that says something pretty straightforward. Some will tell you it’s selfish if you do this, but never ever forget to fight as hard for yourself as you do for everyone else you support. Progress is never going to be able to pour from an empty cup. You’ve heard that phrase repeated again and again, or put your mask on first. But the thing I really want you hold on to is don’t forget to fight for yourself as hard as you do everybody else. And that’s really the key part of this episode. And to contextualize it further. Right. 


Brett Bartholomew  01:40

I came up in a profession and during a time where I was hit with a lot of this messaging, you need to be selfless. It’s never about you. I understand the larger point it was really rooted in and almost this oddly cultish way to the point where if you ever celebrated anything, if you ever were proud of anything that you did, it was almost like you didn’t belong. And it was it was just very bizarre. And then I remember reading the book, The Fountainhead and there are a couple quotes that really really struck a chord with me and some of them were I mean, all them were by Ayn Rand if you haven’t read it, you know, I know everybody’s gonna have different opinions, but some of the characters just read some of the lines. One was, you know, we tied happiness to guilt. A lot of times if you’re a leader, and it’s like, you know, you’re not supposed to worry about, oh, Leaders eat last, Leaders do this or if you’re happy, you know, then you feel like alright, now I’ve idleness aversion, and I’m getting lazy. So now I gotta go do something else. It’s like, we don’t know how to be in our own heads. We don’t know how to take a moment. And then we associate sacrifice with superior happiness or divine purpose, almost as if there’s a clergical like a clergy based narrative in there. And you really have to be careful. 


Brett Bartholomew  02:26

Ayn Rand said something interesting. She said, You know, this has been going on for centuries by a lot of prophets and leaders of empires. When people speak of sacrifice to extreme degrees. There’s usually somebody else collecting the sacrificial offerings. You know, I just made a point where I’m trying to get into religious use here. The point is that you have to ask yourself this. Are you somebody that is so hard on yourself? Like I have been many times, you are so demanding of yourself that you’ve never even allowed yourself to just take a chance to enjoy it to take a chance and take care of yourself to take a chance and just step back, you know, are you somebody that’s still trying to do everything you can to put out fires for everybody else? Solve fires for everybody else that you can’t detach. Because in reality that’s not healthy, and we know it, then you can relax. I’m not gonna tell you that you should just start journaling and doing a gratitude you know, session every day and all that that’s fine if that works for you, but we are going to talk about some of these things. Before I do that. I want to read one more quote, yes, it’s by Ayn Rand. She said you have been called selfish for the courage of acting on your own judgment and bearing sole responsibility for your own life. You have been called arrogant for your independent mind. You have been called cruel for your unyielding integrity. You’ve been called antisocial for the vision that made you venture upon undiscovered roads. And that’s something else that struck a chord with me because it speaks to really not just collectivist mindset, but speaks to the mindset of the individual. Something else that we demonize a lot in society. It’s like if you’re happy and you celebrate some success, or you know you promote something that you did, or you know you you have your own brand that were something else that was really rooted in my background that these things are bad that you’re now you know somebody that wants to shine a spotlight on you. And it’s really not for the right reasons. And you know, these things are just really odd. 


Brett Bartholomew  03:39

But let’s stick with the self care narrative a little bit. But let’s stick with something we’ve talked about in the past the Idleness aversion, if you’re somebody that just feels like almost before you go to bed at night, you have to give yourself permission to quit working or if you want to do something that is wasted time whereas Ryan Holiday talks about garbage time, you know that you have to accomplish something really great. Now without a doubt there are times to push right I’m not somebody that soft like that, like there’s just gonna be seasons in your life where it is what it is. So you don’t need to be one of those people that Doug turn this off. You don’t get it. You don’t get to grind. Yeah I do. I do. I’m a father. I traveled before, while I’m recording this I’m gonna be in Australia speaking at a workshop I’m only be gone four days. I’m gonna come right back. I have to get a chapter of my next book into my publisher gave me the deadline and I’m on another flight to Columbus, this isn’t suffering Olympics. I get it. So many other people, but you’re not going to escape these truths that you know, eventually you will hear yourself out. Eventually. You can’t. You can’t please everybody. You can’t save everybody. And you have to make sure that you’re not addicted to a good crisis. 


Brett Bartholomew  04:27

I talked to somebody the other day they were reaching out about our mentoring services, and they were so overwhelmed. They were talking a million miles a minute off, I even started mentoring. I don’t even know what I would fix. I tell my wife that you shouldn’t be expecting home and you should think of me as like a trauma surgeon. Every day. There’s something new going on at work and I just got to do this. I’ve got to do that. And eventually I just said, Be honest with me. You kind of like it. And they said What do you mean? I said you kind of like it like Well, yeah, like I’m having a challenge you also like, almost this crisis, this urgency? Well, yeah it gives me a sense of purpose feels like, I need it. But then you have to remember that, you know, to think that we’re just gonna be almost all these things and there’s not something else coming right around the corner and right around the corner and right around the corner is not realistic. If you’re a hard worker you are somebody that values doing things to provide value to others. You know, you can all of a sudden get called into this Sisyphean rhythm where now all of a sudden pushing a boulder up the hill isn’t a punishment. It’s an addiction. It’s a fetish. It’s something because you don’t know what to do with any downtime. You don’t know what to do. When you relax after you spent some time with family. After you’ve done a couple things. You’re you’re right back in that same pattern. Right. 


Brett Bartholomew  05:17

So when we talk about self care when we talk about these things, you know, we’re really talking about sustainability. That’s the term that I think needs to be used. And it’s a term if you didn’t have to take my online course, Valued, that we talked about that there. And I was created because of my first industry that I was a part of Strength and Conditioning, you know, all these strength coaches that just they burn themselves out. They’ve worked for almost no money at all. They burn themselves out and they’d say, why is it like this? 


Brett Bartholomew  05:36

And they didn’t really realize that they were the problem. So if you are somebody that’s interested in that you get in those patterns, don’t worry, even though we talked about strength and conditioning in that course, just like when you read a book by somebody else, the lessons apply anywhere, if you’re in a field where you feel stuck and rundown and, you know, there’s very much like I don’t feel like I’m paid what I’m worth go to and check it out. 


Brett Bartholomew  05:50

But let’s let’s get on to something that you can take with you. Right, so we talked about the common myth that leadership means sacrificing our own well being for the sake of others. The idea that we should be selfless and always put others first and we’ve talked about now a little bit how that’s not sustainable. But the soundbite there is really simple. You can’t be an effective leader, however you define that if you’re constantly burnout, stressed, overwhelmed, and if you’re like, Well, I don’t like the term burnout. That means use whatever term you want, use whatever term you want, but when you’re in overdrive, beyond a point you’re not going to continue to have gas to go. And remember this is a physiological sense, emotional sense, when I’ve worked with a lot of special forces when you’re trying to have them understand either certain days or you can get into the red zone of your cardio or what we call the energy system development. And the red zone was indicative of them being able to achieve a certain power output. So imagine sprinting at a certain speed or Versaclimber, which is one of our sponsors, doing that at a certain power output doing the bike at a certain watt. And inevitably, some of these guys and gals would say Well listen like no disrespect, but they’re either a member of seals or you know, any other special forces division. I can get in the red zone again, and I’m like, No you’re misunderstanding me. I know that psychologically. You can put yourself out there, but physiologically, you only have so much glycogen in your body your muscles have to recover. So you will not be able to achieve the power output necessary to get to true red zone and that heart rate. That’s the deal. 


Brett Bartholomew  06:48

And the same thing applies to this. I know many of you are relentless. I know many of you have parts that are huge. I know many of you have an uncommon gas tank but even you know that eventually that comes to an end that has a limit, right? That has a limit. Like the idea that energy can neither be created or destroyed is not true for us as human beings like we do have limitations. And so you need to ask yourself, like if you if you’re somebody that like I have to give everything 110% Remember, one that’s not possible, okay? And two, not everything deserves 110% That is a lack of prioritization. That is a lack of strategic thinking. That is a lack of you just understanding proactive sustainability there. 


Brett Bartholomew  07:15

Alright, so now let’s say you say all right, well, that’s all well and good, but I don’t have time for self care. I’m too busy. I’ve worked and family and other responsibilities and I already talked about how I can relate, but the fact that self care doesn’t have to be time consuming. 


Brett Bartholomew  07:24

In a previous episode, I talked about how he tells me to play a video game, something that I always considered to be a huge waste of time if you haven’t caught our episode with one of the most unique videos I’ve ever spoken to Celia Hodent, the link is below in the show notes. Check that out. It’s unbelievable. But the point was, is I ended up taking up taking him up on a challenge and did it for a while. And you know what’s helpful about it is that I couldn’t turn it into work. And that’s what I’m suggesting some of you do, find something you cannot turn into work. If I go work out. I can turn that into work. I mean, I taught people how to train for more than 15 years. I still advise people on that right so workouts to a degree aren’t the stress reliever they used to be for me. You know reading sometimes I can even turn reading into work I find a new bit of research or I just start reading more fiction. Find something you can’t turn into work.


Brett Bartholomew  07:58

I did sensory deprivation chambers I made myself get away from meddling my phone and computer but people I literally went in and there’s a spot the road that I don’t remember what it was 30 bucks a month. I got in the pot. It’s soundproof if you don’t know what these are float tanks, sensory deprivation, any of these things there was tremendous. I mean, do I keep doing it? No they didn’t regulate the salt, and my skin ended up being jacked up but I did it for a few months. It was amazing. You know, we end up investing in a hot tub that there’s something for everybody but you need to do something that you cannot turn into work. At one point in time I can start getting into I got a smoker and I’m like I’m gonna try this find something that makes you get this stuff does not have to be complicated. You can get in your car and go for a 10 minute drive. But get away from anyone you know, anything you know, for some of you that’s fine. It’s a few minutes a day to meditate, stretch, journal, anything but it’s got to be something you can not turn in to work. 


Brett Bartholomew  08:35

So if you say well, how does this relate to leadership, then? Because again, leaders don’t worry about this stuff. Well, taking care of yourself sets a positive example for those you lead. Nobody wants to see, somebody who is an extremist pretty hard to learn from, they’re either not going to last long or it’s like everything is so dramatic and intense that it’s just you know, they know it’s not sustainable, and they’re just gonna, you saw this in coaching. You saw this in strength and conditioning, people sort of living off it’s nothing but coffee and energy drinks, and it became like a badge of honor. Oh, I get to work at five I get there at 430 I get there at four, now on the first and last out at what point do you call what it is and just like Alright, are you really happy? Are you actually happy with yourself? Are you actually happy with your life at home? Are you like, is this what you really want to do? And maybe 20-year-old me would have answered differently but like I’m a father now. And I’ve heard all the rebuttals that are people online hoping that I’ll give them attention but I won’t stand you know, there’s so many people talk about burnout, self care, and there’s been people working hard enough and whatever. 


Brett Bartholomew  09:16

Listen, dogs are gonna bark at what they don’t understand. But behind the scenes, these people know it to, unless you want it on a fast track to divorce, to getting ill, to you know, just getting compassionate fatigue, to not being an example of a solid parent and whatever, fine by all means. Just keep burning yourself out. And by the way, I’m also not saying that self care and taking a more sustainable approach is going to be you know, a foolproof insurance policy against those things. But bottom line, if you’re not taking care of yourself, and you’re an overdrive that’s gonna end up in other areas of your life. It happens to me the other night, despite the fact that I told you this podcast I’m working on. I lost my temper. I raised my voice I’m imperfect, I have emotions. I yell. I try to balance these things, but you’ve got to find something else. It’s not about a luxurious indulgent activity. Another thing to be just saying no. And one of the easiest ways I did there is I raised my prices for some of my consulting and my speaking, because I had to just put different boundaries around what we did. And we didn’t look at that as limiting, we have many other coaches that are at the Art of Coaching that can help. They’re all great. But I have a client right now who’s amazing example of this couldn’t meet a more dedicated human being but hasn’t raised his prices or change anything about his business model in the last three to four years. And it’s wearing him out. He can’t afford staff he can’t afford to expand. He doesn’t want to raise his prices because he grew up you know, somewhat poor. And so he you know, projects that in his work, he doesn’t want anybody else to not be able to afford. That’s a prime example of trying to make everybody else happy trying to be for everybody. And that’s a fast track to an unsustainable lifestyle. I mean, you better hope. 


Brett Bartholomew  10:22

That’s like starting a company and be like, Wow, look how great this company was for three, five years for 10 years. So you’ve got to think about that. You know, we also got to worry about pricing. Different services, or how often we run certain workshops, or how often we’ll do things like our 30 day communication challenge. For the longest time I wanted to do it all on like a newsletter every week, podcast every week, that will run speaker school three times a year and apprenticeship anytime somebody asked me I just sort of realizing it was never enough for people. You know, it was never enough even even now and while you’re listening to this, I’m in Australia, going to Australia. We had some folks who were like, Hey, would you come to this part of Australia that part of Australia and we’d say hey we have short amount of time we got here in Sydney, you know, come to us, we’d love to meet you. And they’d be like Aww it’s two hours away. And some of those folks don’t even think like we’re flying across the world. And you don’t wanna come two hours. So that became a lot easier for me to say no, you know, there were times where I brought a workshop in New Jersey and somebody reached out be like when you go back to Jersey want to host you and they try to book another speaking event. I thought, well, you know, we’re a small business. We always use the money and I go do it and I say no I’m like, listen, we’re gonna be in New Jersey or this time, you know, one time a year this is what we’re doing and if you’d like to come great, if not, you know, I’m sorry. But I had to quit trying to please everybody. 


Brett Bartholomew  11:13

And I realize that people forget that I’m a father that I’m a business owner that I have staff to manage. They just think that you’re some kind of robot and if you project yourself is when you’re gonna get treated as one, you know, and so you’ve got to balance that stuff out. 


Brett Bartholomew  11:21

So, you know, however, whatever you do, whether this is about recognizing when need to break, being able to give yourself permission to take it, not falling into this anxiety whenever you have downtime or idleness aversion, like just treat yourself with some level of compassion and realize you want to do this for years and years and years. You know, like nobody can. I knew a lot of people did powerlifting not many of them are still training like the power lifter they were in their 20s in their 80s wasn’t sustainable. Look at it that way. If you want you’re not gonna invest financially in the same ratio of stocks and bonds and ETFs and all this in your 20s the same you are when you’re 63 you need to think about those. 


Brett Bartholomew  11:48

So to sum it up, do not buy into the myth, that self care thing more sustainably. You’re fighting for yourself as hard as you fight for others is selfish. Remember, you need to put your mask on first. It’s okay to do that. It’s essential for you to do that, especially if you want to lead people over the long term. And also remember, it’s not about indulging in luxurious things or whatever. It’s about finding simple things, strategic moments throughout the day that you can do to reset yourself and get to baseline. I’d love to know what you do. I’d love to know how it works. So if you haven’t joined our mighty networks community already, go to, where we have tons of conversations about a wide variety of topics related to leadership. Power dynamics, entrepreneurship, there’s people from every profession there. If you don’t want to do that, that’s fine. 


Brett Bartholomew  12:21

But here are some reflection questions that I’m gonna ask you to make sure that you’ll hold yourself accountable. What are some self care sustainable, sustainability based activities that you’re gonna easily incorporate in your daily routine? And more importantly, what are the excuses you’re most likely to make? That you don’t do those things? You’re gonna get right back into that same rhythm. I know people they listen to this they get all fired up three months later, they’re right back into it. Three months later, right back into it. It’s like Ebbinghaus’ learning curve you just forget it all. Also take stock How does neglecting your own well being affect your ability to lead? For me? It makes me, I’ll blow up on people not not like the random person who like I will get very short tempered and short fuse. It’s almost like I just get so sensory overloaded if I’m constantly in it that I gotta know when to pull back and this is something I’ve never dealt with as a strength coach, but deal with as a business owner, because just the magnitude of things that I deal with in the frequency, just greater and more complex in different ways. And that’s not that’s not saying anything to any of you in strength and conditioning, just entrepreneurship, parenthood, travel, writing a book. These things weigh on me a little bit differently than some things I do as a strength coach. What are some things you’re doing right now that you think or could be perceived as Yeah, oh, yeah, that’s a determined dedicated leader, but in actuality have a dark side to them and be like oh crap, if I don’t if I didn’t explain this to an understudy, or if they don’t know that even I don’t do this all the time. Or I’m not like this all the time. It can be dangerous or misleading. You know, like, what is that like when people used to be like I will not sleep, because sleep is the cousin of death. You know, no sleep all night. Like, think about that. Like what example is that set my new again, not perfect. I go to bed sometimes. 132 in the morning, and I’m up at seven or 730. Like that’s not a source of pride. That’s something I struggle with. And then just what are some things that you know, are bullshit about you things that you’ve told yourself over and over again, when you stop that you’re actually honest, you’re like, Yeah, I don’t like this or I’m not happy about that. Or I wish I didn’t have to do this, like be real with yourself. Don’t expect the truth from people that lie to themselves. And that includes you. I hope this helped please leave a review on Apple podcasts or Spotify. That helps us tremendously. It’s not about a pat on the back so I could walk away feeling good about myself is because these examples in the algorithms they make sure we don’t get buried by all these big podcasts that are sponsored by NPR and the like. We really try to show up for all of you every single week to provide value. We’ve done it every single week since December 2018. So please leave a review share with a friend for myself and the rest of the Art of coaching team. I’ll talk to you soon.

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