In this week’s episode, Billy talks with Steven English, an ICF Professional Certified Coach, a TEDx speaker, a trained Facilitator, and a Founder of multiple Toastmasters public speaking clubs. Throughout his 22 years in engineering, Steven served as a trainer to Fortune 500 organizations as well as influencing and managing company-wide change management activities. Steven specializes in helping introverted leaders find their voice so they can create impact and helps teams improve communication to achieve top performance. He is here today to talk about how he helps introverts find their voice as well as share his journey through finding joy in disappointing others.
Billy and Steven discuss:
–The social lubricating effect of drinking and his relationship with alcohol
–What he means by “finding joy in disappointing others”
–The strategies used to establish healthy relationships as an introvert
–The double meaning of BS and how he helps others use their voice and create impact
–What people get wrong about introverts
Watch his TEDx Finding Joy by Disappointing Others here
Want more from Steven English? Check out his LinkedIn
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Billy: Coming up on The Mindful Midlife Crisis
Steven: The thing is, I was not a prolific relationship firestarter, so I just don't want your listeners to think that, like I had this giant room full of people that I was like, I'm going to disappoint every one of you, and to hell with this friendship I have with each of you, you know? Like, it wasn't that way. It was mostly like the drinking buddies, you know, like the drinking space that I had to disappoint.
Now, that said, I also got divorced. Maybe I did disappoint my ex-wife. Maybe I had to assert myself a little bit more with my mother in certain contexts, certain conversations. Maybe I disappoint her a little bit. But you know what? I preferred that. You know what I mean? Like, I felt more healthy. And that's really what it comes down to is how do you feel when you do these things?
If you step up and you're assertive and you own your values, you act in accordance with your values, then that feels pretty damn good.
Billy: Welcome to The Mindful Midlife Crisis, a podcast for people navigating the complexities and possibilities of life's second half. I'm your host, Billy Long and educator, personal trainer, meditation teacher and Overthinker who talks to experts who specialize in social and emotional learning, mindfulness, physical and emotional wellness, cultural awareness, finances, communication, relationships, dating and parenting all in an effort to help us better reflect, learn and grow.
So we can live a more purpose filled life. Take a deep breath, embrace the present and journey with me through The Mindful Midlife Crisis. Welcome to The Mindful Midlife Crisis. I'm your host, Billy Lahr. Thank you for tuning in wherever you are. The purpose of this show is to provide a platform that gives people the space and permission to share their expertise and life experiences in order to help others navigate the complexities and possibilities of life's second half.
And remember this free and useful information is helpful to people of all ages. Wisdom isn't about one's age. Wisdom comes from our ability to reflect, learn and grow from our own life experiences, while also learning from the experiences of others, regardless of what stage of life we are in. Because you just never know what life is going to throw at you.
So there just might be a conversation or two from past episodes that help you feel better prepared for the challenges you might face in life or that you're facing right now. Whether those challenges be your emotional, mental and or physical health, your relationships with others, including your partner and children, your career, your finances, whatever curveballs life is thrown your way right now, just know that you are not alone in your experience.
And the conversations I'm having here are with people who have been there before or have done the research to help you navigate these situations with more awareness, openness, curiosity and compassion so you can live a more purpose filled life. And trust me, I take all of these conversations. I'm having the heart as well, and I try to apply what I'm learning from these conversations, which is why I do solo episodes the first Wednesday of every month, because I think of the show as a running dialog between me and you, the listener, because my hope is that you can see and hear the growth I'm making in my own life.
So that inspires you to seek out the connections between our shared experiences so that you too can take intentional and inspired action. So if you're looking for some ways to help, you better navigate whatever you've got going on in your life from someone who has been through it before, check out some of our other episodes at www.mindfulmidlifecrisis.com or wherever you get your podcasts.
All month long, our episodes have been focusing on what it means to be authentic to yourself and how you can bring your authentic self to life. Today's episode focuses on how to find joy by disappointing others, by living life on your terms. If you want more episodes like that, check out episode 42 with Dr. Yolanda Holloway and Tiffany Byrd about what it means to trash the life checklist.
You can check out episode 43 with Lori Saitz, who tells you to F-word being fine. Just want to make sure you guys are okay in case you have kids in the car. You can check out episode 43. Lori is a hoot. She also has a podcast that you could check out called Fine as a four-letter word fitting for the title of that episode.
You can also check out episode 58 with Val Jones about how to make being selfish work to your advantage. We also dive into managing alcohol abuse in this episode. So if you'd like to hear more stories about how people fight that good fight, check out episode five, where my good friend and former co-host Brian on the bass tells his story about getting sober.
Episode 46 with Michael Mosher about his struggles with substance abuse and Episode 61 with fan favorite Kari Schwear about what Gray area drinking is and how she helps people rethink their relationship with alcohol. So with that, let's meet today's guest. Our guest today is Stephen English. Throughout his 22 years in engineering, Stephen served as a trainer for Fortune 500 organizations, as well as influencing and managing company-wide change management activities.
Stephen is an ICF professional certified coach, a TEDx speaker, a trained facilitator and founder of multiple Toastmasters public speaking clubs. Stephen specializes in helping introverted leaders find their voice so they can create impact and helps teams improve communication to achieve top performance. He is here today to talk about how he helps introverts find their voice, as well as share his journey through finding joy in disappointing others.
So welcome to the show, Stephen English.
Steven: Thank you so very much. Glad to be here.
Billy: Yeah, it's great to have you here, man. We touched base a couple of months ago and it was a fun conversation that lasted much longer than I think either of us anticipated. So I think we just kind of have an organic flow to conversation, and I imagine that's how today will go as well.
Steven: I'm very confident in that. Billy.
Billy: Yeah. So what we'd like to do in order to start our show is to ask our guests what ten roles they play. And I like that you kind of gave this Being John Malkovich answer here to start off. So what are the ten roles that you play in your life?
Steven: Yeah, you know, it's funny because that whole idea of the I'm this, I'm that I'm these various roles is just it over my life. I've found it to be a little bit limiting. So that's why I did the I'm the awareness of Stephen English.
Right Like, well, let me just say that I am the.
Watching and listening. And so, yes, that Being John Malkovich, thank you for pulling that out. I'll probably go back and watch that movie again. So I guess everything from you know, I started with something like the creator of my focus, right? So I create my focus where I focus my energy in my life. And of course, then practical things in terms of, you know, what would be on my obituary, if you will, is, you know, as a father, as a fiance, a coach, a workshop facilitator, recovered alcoholic teacher and speaker.
So these are some of the roles that I think I play in life. And I put Father first, right, because that's my priority, obviously.
Billy: How old are your kids?
Steven: 16 and 18. And they're almost completely out of the house. They're both taller than I am, in fact, my third son. So when I say fiancee, my girlfriend's son or my fiancee son, he's my third son and he is almost 13 and he's also taller than I am already. So this is pretty incredible. But yeah, my sons that I had in my first marriage, hopefully, you know, my second marriage would be my last marriage.
They're 16 and 18 and they have their bank accounts tied to my bank account. Well, not literally, but like, I go into my bank app and I can see their bank accounts and there are some weeks where they have more money than I do, which is just amazing. So they're practically adults.
Billy: Wow. That's very impressive. There are probably parents out there who want to know what the secret is to parenting in order to groom their child so that they are the breadwinner of the family at age 16 and 18.
Steven: Yeah, Yeah. That's a great question. And I wish I knew what the secret sauce was. I think one thing that my ex-wife has done is the child support doesn't just flow right into their pocketbooks. So those kids, they have, I guess, motivation to do for themselves. I mean, they pay for their own cars. You know, they buy a lot of their own clothes.
It's really I don't know where they got it from because certainly they didn't get it from me because I was the one. I was like, hey, mom, you got 20 bucks. And I took every advantage of my parent's money. But my kids, they don't ask for much. I don't know what it is. So I wish I knew what it was because then I'd write a book and I'd probably be a millionaire.
Billy: And then you would have more money in your bank account.
Steven: I know. And then. And then the whole thing with trying to know what I'm doing, so. Oh, Oh, what a conundrum.
I gladly go through that process.
Billy: You know, kids, right.
Steven: Now you have more money in your checking account than now. Of course, that's the difference between running a business and working for somebody. Like most of my money goes client to my business, and then I take the little bit of a draw every so often. So that's why my checking account isn't is as thick as theirs.
Billy: And when I asked you what of those ten roles are you most looking forward to, you said it was hard to pick three. Yeah, because you're looking forward to them all. What is it about all of those roles that really, really excite you?
Steven: Well, I would say that so many of the roles all tie together. So the speaker, the teacher, the workshop facilitator, the coach, even the recovered alcoholic, they all tie to helping other people grow. So as a recovered alcoholic, for example, because maybe somebody would say, well, how does a recovering alcoholic, how does that help other people grow? Part of the way that I've kept my sobriety is by helping other people through the various recovery programs that I've been a member of.
So I would say so many of them tie together in that they are about helping people go from good to great, go from high functioning to achieving whatever big goal they might have. That's why it's tough to really go down to three as your question was.
Billy: Yeah and it's that recovered alcoholic that I want to start with here so what we're going to do is we're going to take a quick break and then when we come back, we're going to talk to Steven about his journey and what he means about finding joy in disappointing others. Thank you for listening to The Mindful Midlife Crisis.
Thank you for listening to The Mindful Midlife Crisis. If you're enjoying what you've heard so far, please do me a favor and hit the subscribe button. Also, giving the show a quick five star review with a few kind words helps others find a benefit from this podcast just like you are. Finally, please spread the wealth of free knowledge and advice in this episode by sharing it with the people in your life who may find this information and my mission to help others live a more purpose filled life.
Valuable. My hope is that these conversations resonate with others and inspire people to live their best lives. Thanks again. And now back to the show. Welcome back to The Mindful Midlife Crisis. I'm here talking to Stephen English. We're breaking down a couple of different things here today. Stephen is going to be talking about the joy in disappointing others.
So we're going to start there. And Stephen, this idea came from a TED Talk that you did. And when we first talked in November, you talked about how soul was kind of this origin of your downward spiral when it came to your drinking and it's something that I can completely understand because there is a prevalent drinking culture in Korea.
And I know you're an introvert, so I'm wondering if the drinking started as like a social lubricant to make you feel less on edge about being in those large post-work binge drinking sessions that are quite common and legendary in Korea.
Steven: Yeah. So first and foremost, if a border or immigration member of South Korea listens to this podcast, my drinking has, please, I cannot blame it on Seoul. As a geographical location.
As a latitude and longitude in a location on a map. I'm not going to blame it on that. In fact, I think of it this way Is that because of family of origin, because of genetics, because of all the things that make me me from time zero, I always had a pilot light burning for alcoholism and going to South Korea for five weeks was like dumping gasoline on that pilot.
And there were earlier times in my life that I, I guess you could say a red flag being raised of, Hey, man, you're not drinking like the other people here. And I at that point didn't have enough awareness. I wasn't I was I was in denial. I was young. Whatever you could say, where I didn't recognize. Wow. You know what, dude?
You probably either have a problem or are going to have a problem. And I would say that what happened was that going to Korea for five weeks, whether or not the social engagement was with the coworkers, being the leadership, the Korean leadership of Samsung, or if it was just other, let's call them short term expats, you know, the other people that were there on assignment.
It was just simply the act of doing something for five weeks, night after night after night. And, you know, if you want to build a habit, you know, sometimes people say, oh, do something for 21 days. There's some studies out there that show it's actually takes a lot longer than that. But when it comes to pleasurable activities, alcohol, heroin, chocolate, sex, all of these fun things, if you want to build a habit, then do them consecutively night after night for five weeks.
And I would say that yes, to a certain extent. It was a way of lubricating the social engine. At the same time it was I was wired for it. And now looking back on it, if I could talk to the young employees at Samsung who are about to go to Korea for five weeks, I would give them a checklist.
I would give them, Hey, these are the things you need to preplan. Basically have yourself a life before you get there, because otherwise that whole nightlife is just going to pull you right in.
Billy: It's so interesting that you mention that because just even when I would walk around at night, you would see people in their suits stumbling out and even just talking to the friends that are there. Like it's such a strong young drinking culture. And not to say that there's anything wrong with that. It's just if your guys like you and me, like I would consider myself a gray area drinker.
We talked to Kerry. We were about that. It sounds like you have always had kind of the physical addiction piece to it. Is that fair to say or because when you talk about that pilot light, I really like that analogy. So what do you mean by that?
Steven: Yeah, what I mean by that is the way my body reacts to alcohol. You know, I don't know the full science of it in terms of the way that the body processes the ethanol into this and that and the differences between certain people. But I've heard this number that 8% of the population have a gene that makes them more likely to become an alcoholic.
And it's because of the way the body reacts to the alcohol. And what I mean by that is this. So, for example, my fiance, she's a normal drinker, She's a normie. And what that means is if I give her two glasses of wine, she's going to start to feel sleepy. Maybe on that third glass of wine, she might even start to feel nauseous.
Give me and I'm not a wine drinker, so I'm going to change it up. Give me two beers and a shot of Jameson, and I'm going to be ecstatic. I'm going to be fine. I'm going to be, you know, full of joy and ebullient, as they say, and then give me even more and I'm going to be even more full of joy and ebullient and this and that until the point where I start to slur my speech and start becoming an asshole.
And then that would be if you want to be, you know, want to turn Steve into an asshole is start slipping in Red Bull, you know. So go vodka Red Bull after about the fifth drink, go vodka, Red Bull for the rest of the night. And then you're about to see something that you don't want to see. So that's just the way my body was.
I could keep drinking, and when I did, I didn't feel nauseous, tired, etc. It was like I got a second wind.
Billy: Here's my chicken and the egg question then for you, because I relate to that too. But I'm wondering when I was drinking, like when I was younger and I was drinking heavily, I felt like it was more of the excitement of the social element that ramped up my desire to want to drink. And so then when I would drink, then it was fuel to the fire.
But if I was just like in a chill mood or something like that, then I didn't want to drink and I'm still kind of like that. I just had to teach myself how to be a social drinker. And when I'm ramped up, be able to tell myself, No, dude, you get one, you get two at the most, but you definitely don't need three, that sort of thing.
So I'm curious what the chicken and the egg situation is. There is it the excitement of going out and then you're already on that high and then you hit the alcohol and the alcohol is feeling good, or is it the alcohol that ramps up the high?
Steven: Well, I'd say this The very fact that I would drink alone prior to going out maybe is an insight into that whole thing. Right. Like, I didn't need the social environment to have a drink and I would start to feel that sense of ease and comfort that came from taking a few drinks. So yeah, there is the difference, I guess you could say, in terms of like that social esprit de corps or whatever you want to call it, that camaraderie, the fraternity, if you will, feeling being around others and all being all whipped up on ethanol.
But I myself, I know for me I would create that feeling even alone, right? I was like, oh, look, I've got beers in the fridge and vodka in the freezer. Time to start drinking. And the big moment for me was that so Korea happened. I came back, I was drinking, but like there was a point at which it was Sunday morning at about 10 a.m. and I had had three or four shots.
And I'm like, Wait a minute, this is messed up, you know? So August 29, 2016, was that day that I was like, Here, please take this from me, Take this bottle from me. I'm going to pour all this out. I've got to stop. And that was a really tough day.
Billy: Those are the wild stories to me, because people can go back to episode five and they can listen to my good friend and former co-host Brian on the bass basis story with his battle with alcohol and listening to his stories, I'm like, Oh my gosh. Like, I was never at that point where I was waking up in the morning and needing to have a shot of something in order to function.
So those stories are so wild to me. I'm curious, do you ever find yourself or did you ever find yourself in situations and it sounds like you kind of quit cold turkey. I find myself in situations where if I tell people, No, thank you, I'm not drinking, people leave me alone. But if I tell people I'm only having one, they're like, AB, don't you want to?
But don't you want three? Because they see that you're having one. So they're like, Well, why don't you just have another? But if you tell them I'm not drinking, they just leave you alone.
I wish people would be like, quit pressuring me and having more than I want. This is my line in the sand. I'll have a one. And this is like my one for the month.
I don't need to hit a quota all in one night.
Steven: Well, I think there's a couple of things in there. So one, I do want to clarify. I had never gotten to the point where I had to take a drink when I got up in the morning to get going. So that was, you know, by the grace of God. I caught it before it got to that point. And I think that's probably why I was able to really cold turkey the whole thing, because I did have some worries about stopping at that point.
I had already visited various, let's call them recovery clubs that weren't, you know, inpatient or anything. And, you know, I could talk to other people that were alcoholic and recovering and some of them they'd had to do the detox round or the rehab route. And like I said, by the grace of God, I didn't have to do that.
Now, it is interesting how there is such like a peer pressure component, and thankfully when I did stop, I found it incredibly easy to tell people I'm not drinking and then respect that. And that's even one of those fears that a lot of people who are sober curious will have is they're going to be like, What am I going to do when I go out and somebody offers me a drink?
It's really simple. You going to say no? Or even better, from the minute you walk into that restaurant, bar, club, party, whatever, you are going to make a beeline up to the bar and get yourself a drink, get yourself your Lacroix, get yourself your club soda, your Coca-Cola, whatever. And throughout the night you're going to sip that thing.
And any time that you get even a third of the way down, a fourth of the way down or whatever, like you get down, you go get yourself another one. That way it stops that person who's like, Oh, you're almost done. You want me to go get you a hot toddy or whatever? I don't know. Whatever people drink nowadays, it's like I've tried to disassociate myself from all them.
Bill: You know, whatever you're drinking, go. Yeah, whatever. Whatever the kids are drinking, these.
Steven: Whippersnappers are drinking these days, from what I understand, they're actually doing, but chugging. Anyway.
I was just in a recovery certification training course and they had like all these different drugs and everything in there. And I was like, I know what that is. I know what that is. I know. And then said, But chugging. And I was like, Wait a minute.
Billy: What will work?
Steven: Butt chug?
Billy: Well, we're going to have to look that up later.
Steven: Yeah, well, I mean, definitely it's taking a bottle of Robitussin in and putting it in your kazoo, and the young people are doing that, so. Hey, you know.
Billy: Anything for a high?
Steven: Yeah, Anything for a high. And, you know, you don't smell like it. That's the thing, right? You don't smell like the alcohol. My gosh, these kids are so innovative. You know what? I. They probably figured it out from chat. They were like, find me a new way of getting inebriated without smelling like alcohol. And the robot said, stick it up your butt.
I got this. What was your question anyway?
Billy: You know, we feel like we derailed. But you were talking about how if you're going out and that sort of thing, it just if you're trying to be sober, curious, I remember that absolute turning point for me and I've told this story before on the show, but the absolute turning point for me was when I first decided, you know what, I'm going to do these sober school years.
And I went to our good friend Matt Hazzard. Those of you who are fans of the show, you've heard them all the time. On the season recap, I went to our friend Pete Irvine's house. Matt Hazzard was there like Matt Hazzard drinks on the show. So we know that Matt Hazzard likes a drink. And Pete Ervin loves to have a drink too.
They asked me, Hey, do you want a drink? And I said, No, I'm actually not drinking these days. And when they both said to me, Hey, man, that's really cool, good for you. It was such a weight off of my shoulder. And I think most people actually respond that way. And when I go out, I almost always have a water.
And the upside to that is then you spend a lot of time in the bathroom away from those peer pressure elements as well. So I want to talk a little bit more about these peer pressure elements, because that's where this idea of finding joy in disappointing others sounds like it comes from. You did a TED talk on this and we'll make sure that we link that TED talk in the show notes as well.
And that title has really resonated with me right now because I'm trying to limit the amount of people pleasing I do it. I have this newfound awareness that, Oh, all this time I've been a people pleaser and I didn't even really know it. And I think it also goes back to the conversation we had with the trash. The Checklist Ladies in episode 42 about being your own author of your life and not succumbing to other people's expectations of how you should live your life.
And along with that, I think like for me, the other part that I'm clients gently working through is FOMO, the fear of missing out. So what exactly do you mean by disappointing others? And what was it that you recognized in your own self-awareness of Stephen English that helped you develop the resolve to disappoint people in a healthy, self-serving way?
Steven: It's really interesting is the evolution of this idea. There was, even when I was in college or let's say, when I was going to apply to college, I remember writing in an essay how I fit in with all groups, like I can hang out with all kinds of different people. And I used the term social or quasi crystal.
And that's because I'm I was applying to get into a physics school, you know, into the physics program at an engineering school. So I was like, cool, let me sound all intelligence, say quasi crystal. And it quasicrystal the definition of that is it's a crystal that fits into any crystal structure, right? So the face centered cubic body center cubic as a quasi crystal, you can fit into anything.
And that was always me. But what I came to realize is that that fitting in with everybody. It number one is it's inauthentic, right? Because you're you're modifying who you are to fit the people around you. Also, you don't start to define your own wants, needs, desires, opinions. Even from a young age. I was very mindful of keeping the harmony in my environment.
You know, that's one of my five top strengths. On the strength Finder assessment. What I found was that when I looked at my drinking a lot of it was around dealing with the resentments that I had built up from pleasing other people and doing things for other people. Resentment. It is the principal reason why so many people drink, because it's just, you know, it's a feeling.
The definition of resentment is feeling again and again. Re feeling. And I would feel this anger and unhappiness about doing certain things that I was doing for other people. And so the idea of finding joy by disappointing others is really just a it's a snappy title that I hoped was going to get me a million views of my TED acts.
It's a tete a tete and I jokingly say that Ted is to Lexus as Ted is to Toyota.
Billy: Oh yeah, Toyota is a good car, too.
Steven: Solid or Scion or something, right? Like it's like the TED is the many people can get on stage kind of thing. Whereas the TED is, you know, you better have written a few books. But anyhow, speaking of a book and know I'm kind of rambling, but I'll try to bring this to a point is that when I had read a book called The Courage to Be Disliked by a Cheeto Kishi me, and so we took a Koga.
So this book, Courage to Be Disliked, they were talking about that. When you don't put yourself first right, then you kind of disappoint yourself. So I kind of turned that idea around and I said, Okay, finding joy by disappointing others. Right? So implicit in that is if I'm disappointing others, then I'm satisfying myself, I'm fulfilling my own needs.
And so that's kind of where the whole thing came from.
Billy: Well, and I like that, too, because I remember when we had Val Jones on I think that's episode 58. I'm trying to keep all our episodes straight here. I think it's 58. Val Jones The power of being selfish right? The value of being selfish and challenging her on that notion, Is it really okay to be selfish and having her reframed that?
And it again reminds me of if you're a people pleaser, you're always putting yourself second. And for me, I remember when I was drinking heavily, it was because I was playing a character that entertained other people in that in my head. People liked me more when I was drinking because I would say and do things that were completely outlandish and just seeing that title like, listen, this podcast is maybe the Ted X of is the Toyota, you know, of podcast, right here.
But I think Toyota's a pretty solid car. I think this podcast is pretty solid. And I thought your TED talk was very solid as well because there really is something powerful in this idea of taking a hard line and saying, you know what, I'm not going to be this person that you want me to be because it really makes me unhappy.
But it takes a real powerful sense of self-awareness in order to realize that as so I applaud you for recognizing that it was something that it took me. You know, I'm still working through it.
Steven: Let me tell you. And I've said this to my kids before, is that it was, in a way, a true north kind of thing, where it was like a compass to me that even now. Right, like in preparation for today's podcast, I went back and I rewatched it and I was like, Gosh, that is very in some regards an idealistic view, but for a person like myself, I think that there are people out there who maybe they're already very selfish and they're very good at putting their self first, then I don't want them to watch this.
Ted You know what I mean? Like, I don't think it's going to help them and I don't think they're going to be able to see how it's applicable necessarily for themselves, whereas there's other people out there who maybe because of family of origin or something else, that they do tend to be more people pleasing and putting other people first.
And as I talked about in the TED Ex, this is all hardwired, right? Because we're social animals and, you know, on the plains of Africa, if you got thrown out of the tribe, that was a death sentence, quite literally. And it probably is still happening today in certain tribes around the world. You know, if you get thrown out of the tribe, I'm in certain death.
Whereas in our society nowadays, you have so many options, you have so many people around you, you're going to be able to find people who align with what you care about. And, you know, for me, I wanted to have people around me when I drank. I well, you know, yeah, there is a chicken or the egg thing there, but like for me, maybe in terms of my job or my marriage or yeah, even my job to a certain extent.
There was a point there where that became I was doing that for other people and that's why I changed my career. You know, the name of this podcast is The Mindful Midlife Crisis, right? And that was the inflection point for me, was having my midlife crisis made me wake up and gain that self-awareness that you talk about and also gave me enough pain.
Right? So the great quote by Michael Beckwith is pain pushes until the vision pulls. I had enough pain pushing me that I said, Hey, I got to go find something different to do, okay, I'm going to blow my freakin brains out.
Billy: When you talked about Tribe, too, and I'm guessing you had to take a long, hard look at your network and make some adjustments there as well. And you're an introvert, so I can only imagine how difficult and energy sucking that must have been to reinvent your network to some extent. What were some of the strategies you used to establish healthy relationships, not only with people who would add positive value to you down the road in the future, but also demonstrating value to people who were in your life, who you still saw positive value, but you had burned that bridge to the ground so long ago.
Steven: So there's a couple of parts to this question. So number one, I feel like the label of introvert for me is I do recharge like an introvert. I like to be alone. That said, there are parts of me that are more extroverted in terms of the social skills and the communication skills and things like that. So just one little point of clarification, because I think that some people, they may either see me or whatever, if they go and they look at my LinkedIn pages, I don't necessarily identify as one or the other.
I guess I'm going to play the vert card here. But you know, you said something about the strategy is to establish the healthy relationships. So for so long I was always reading the room and responding. So responding to these social cues, and that led to that in authenticity. So my strategy was to slowly build up my assertiveness. Right.
And become a little bit more transparent with people and say what I really, really felt come what may. Yes, some people it repulsed and that was fine. That's good, right? Like at least what I knew was that if somebody didn't like me, they didn't like me for my true self. That was the first thing that I, in terms of a strategy, is to really get quiet with yourself, get to know what you really do like.
And I think I mentioned this in Ted X is that the good part about recovery is get your feelings back. The bad part about recovery is you get feelings back. So I started to really assess like, Hey, what is it that makes me happy in this world when I'm feeling joy over here? This thing over here is nothing but anguish, guilt, shame.
IC So I started to be able to separate those things out. And so then I would assert myself more in the spaces that I was passionate and excited about. And like I said, if it pushed people away, then that's great. As for the burning, the Bridges question, that's funny. I can't think of any relationships that I did try to rebuild.
You know that.
Steven: The thing is, is I was not a prolific relationship. Firestarter. So I just don't want your listeners to think that like I had this giant room full of people that I was like, I'm going to disappoint every one of you, and to hell with this friendship I have with each of you. You know, like, it wasn't that way.
It was mostly like the drinking buddies, you know, like the drinking space that I had to disappoint, you know? That said, I also got divorced. Maybe I did disappoint my ex-wife. Maybe I had to assert myself a little bit more with my mother in certain contexts, certain conversations. Maybe I disappoint her a little bit. But you know what?
I preferred that. You know what I mean? Like, I felt more healthy. And that's really what it comes down to is how do you feel when you do these things? If you step up and you're assertive and you own your values, you act in accordance with your values, then that feels pretty damn good. And that's how I had to get going here in terms of changing my life.
Billy: Well, let's do this. Let's take a quick break. And then when we come back, we're going to talk to Steven about some of the strategies he uses in order to help introverted leaders find their voice. Thank you for listening to The Mindful Midlife Crisis. Thank you for listening to The Mindful Midlife Crisis. New episodes come out every Wednesday to help you get over the midweek hump.
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Welcome back to The Mindful Midlife Crisis. I'm here talking to Stephen English. He's sharing with us his journey about finding joy in disappointing others. We covered that here. So now we're going to move on to the work that he's doing now, which is helping introverted leaders find their voice. And Stephen, you and I connected on LinkedIn, and you have a very entertaining LinkedIn page.
You are maximizing LinkedIn. And in one of your recent posts, you don some sweet aviator sunglasses. And what an excellent seventies eighties mustache. And you gave a shout out to some of your clients who have stepped through their B.S. But B.S. has a double meaning for you when you're coaching. Talk about that double meaning of B.S. and talk about some of the B.S. that you had to step through.
You've mentioned that already. But then how do you help people step through that as well when you're working through them?
Steven: So working with people on their BS. So B.S., of course, when people see that in a post, they immediately think the droppings from a male cow, right? The bull droppings, as it were.
Billy: We can say bullshit on the show.
Trust me, we are not. This is not PG 13.
Steven: That was sponsored by Disney. Not yet, but yeah.
Sponsored by Pfizer. So bullshit bullshit that people have, right? So B.S. is belief systems and B.S. is obviously bullshit, right? And I conflate those two, right? That acronym. And I let it have those double meanings because I think it is truly appropriate in that a lot of the belief systems and by belief systems, I don't mean the religion that you are a member of or the God that you worship or anything like that.
I don't mean in that frame. I mean the things that you believe are true, the thoughts that you believe are true, that you think about over and over and you accept. Right. And so that's a belief system, right? And for example, for me, one of the big B.S. limiting beliefs. Now I'll just add that word limiting in front of it, the limiting belief that I had was that, oh, engineers can't become coaches or I'm not capable of recovering from alcoholism or I'm not capable of starting my own business.
I'm not capable of delivering a TED speech. So there's all these different beliefs that we have, these limiting beliefs that things we believe are absolutely true, but that simply are not. We have downloaded, quote unquote, these beliefs from people in the world. Maybe we had a teacher or we had a parent or somebody who told us we can't do something.
If we had a boss who had some comments. That's the first sign of it in terms of, you know, how do I help somebody with that is we first look at like, what's the pattern of behavior or the emotion that they're feeling and then understanding, well, what would you have to believe for that to be true? You have this challenge.
This is something you can't do for whatever reason. What do you have to believe? And so that's where those limiting beliefs start to show up for people. For example, certain clients might have the I think 70% of people have this limiting belief of I'm not good enough or I'm not smart enough, or I'll never be successful or I'm not charismatic or whatever it might be.
And these limiting beliefs, we come along and we start to first we have to understand where came from. Second, we have to identify what could be looking at that event, what could be an alternative interpretation of that. And then we start to question, you know, hey, could that also be true? The fact that there are multiple interpretations means that there's no implicit meaning to an event.
I know this now we're getting really deep, but I just walk you through the process and this is a process I came up with. This is Morty Lesko came up with this, I think it was in the eighties. Modi love has since passed and his wife Shelly, left. Go teach us this process that I'm alluding to. You know, I use it with my clients to dissolve a limiting belief.
Billy: So when they have that epiphany of these self-limiting beliefs, how do they respond to that? I imagine there's a range of emotions. I'm sure some people it might be emotional to the point of just like I've never realized that in the breakdown in the tears. I also wonder if you have some denial or even regret. So how do you help people navigate through that new awareness?
Because that's a big deal when you start to see those self-limiting beliefs and how they have impacted your life. So up to this point?
Steven: Well, the thing is that I'm not diagnosing the limiting beliefs. They're identifying it for themselves. They believe that could be true. And sometimes go, you know what? I know logically it's not true, but I kind of feel it. And I'll use a little test with them to calibrate something that is completely untrue and something that is completely true.
And then that'll serve as kind of a contrast point to this feeling that they're getting and they can have it somewhere in their body. I've had some clients like I know it's not logically true, but when I say it out loud, I get this tension in my throat or my stomach starts to hurt. And then that's how they know that it might be true.
But again, I'm not telling them something. I'm not going, Well, wait a minute. You've got this limiting belief so they don't get into denial. Don't. Now, they may have an emotional reaction only because it's just like one of those, like, tough truths. And I've had some people cry. I've had people cry, especially when we went in to what was the event, you know, where did that limiting belief come from?
And then they go back and they they might talk about something that was mildly traumatic to them. So, yeah, it's a really interesting process. And I think what it comes down to is this is what makes it work, is once we start to see those alternative interpretations, you know, if you think about the brain is like a matrix of literally charge, you know, because that's what it is, right?
We've got these synapses, we've got this electrical charge flowing through the brain. If you think about a memory as a location in the brain, if you go and you say not a memory, but like a limiting belief, some piece of data in the brain, you go and you say, here's this alternative interpretation in some way, at least this is my feeling.
It almost like discharges it. It says it could be these other things. You know, it may not be like I interpreted this event, my father saying this thing to me. I let that mean I'm not good enough. But maybe what it really meant was that he's doing the best he could with what he knew to do as a parent, or he was raising me the way that he was raised.
Not that I'm not good enough. I think what happens is, as we start to see these other possibilities and it literally takes that limiting belief and it electrically neutralizes it.
Billy: You clarified and said that you're more of an Amber Alert. You're working with introverts. What was the draw to work with introverted leaders?
Steven: Yeah, that's a great question and it really comes down to this. So there's in Lean manufacturing, so there's going to be some people that are going to understand this, and then there's going to be people that I'm going to explain this to in lean. There's something called the Seven Types of Waste, and there's actually an eighth type of waste.
But that those seven types, it makes an acronym called Tim Wood. So Transportation Inventory movement waiting over processing over supply and defects. The last one eighth waste is skills. And what I truly, truly believe is that you've got a portion of the population that is wasting their skill because they cannot communicate and influence their ideas. Think of it this way If you've got the general population is 43 to 47% of the population are introverts, they identify as introverts.
And I would say that in tech, in accounting and in legal and in medical, there's some of these types of occupations that I think the percentage is even higher. I would venture to say if we went over to Google, we went to some software development group and swung around the extroversion introversion detector. We'd be like, It'd be just going off like crazy on the introvert scale.
So I feel like they're holding a lot back. Why I'm drawn to it is I know that inside of an introvert are some amazing, amazing ideas and I want to help them bring that out into the world. Actually, I'll give you a better example. I used to just always work with all these introverts and they would say, Hey, I got this data that I want to get these people over in this other department to do something.
And I would go and I would grab them and grab their data and we walk over there and go do something with them. I would influence these other people in these other departments. So I think I was always doing it when I was in corporate. And so I figured, well, hey, I there's people out there that need to learn how to do this.
So I wanted to work with them.
Billy: It reminds me in that scene of Office Space where they're talking to the guy.
Steven: That he's like this a second time to just just say, you know, Billy, I'm a people person. I take the requirements for the customer and I take that to the programmers.
Billy: So that's the second time this has been referenced to you today.
Steven: Today, jesh!
Know what I'm watching the night.
Billy: So I'm going to get you out of here on this. I'm an extrovert. I've got a big personality. What is it about big, obnoxious personalities like mine? What do we get wrong about introverts and what do introverts get wrong about themselves?
Steven: Yeah, Yeah. I love question. I think what it is is extroverts get it wrong that if the introvert has nothing to say at that moment that they are disinterested or that they're aloof, they get it wrong that the introvert doesn't want to talk. And what the introvert needs from the extrovert is one, a little bit of space. And I don't mean physical space, I mean time, space, like time to think about something.
So if you're an extrovert leader and you've got a team that has a mix and there's some introverts is give them a little bit of time and ask them, What's your opinion? What's your advice? I know you're a great listener and you've been thinking about this for a while. What's your advice on this? I'd really love to hear it.
My goodness, if extrovert managers simply did that, everything would change because these introverts are not going to interject. They're not going to go, Oh, wait a minute, boss. I got this great idea. But if the extrovert boss or team member or whatever simply asks, the introvert is going to answer that.
Billy: I want to sit in that awkward silence. I want to fill the space with my own voice. That's why I have a podcast, because I love the sound of my own voice.
Steven: I know I hear awareness building.
Billy: I mean, the podcast is actually really taught me to be a listener and to be more present with my guest and take in what they're saying. So I can really appreciate that and I think my natural default if I'm in a meeting is to fill the space or to jump to a conclusion. And that's something that I'm constantly working on.
So I think that's a good lesson. That's good practice for the extroverts out there, is that, hey, really work hard, take a space. It's probably going to be just as hard for you to take that space as it is for the introvert to interject.
Steven: Oh, for sure, absolutely. It might even be harder for the introvert to interject. I don't know. That's a tough one. It would depend really where a person is on the scale, because it's not a01 kind of thing or minus one plus one kind of thing. If there's a whole spectrum, I would say then introverts do get it wrong that others don't want to hear their ideas.
That's like just a new one, or this would be the other part of it because of the introverts superpower is preparation. So an introvert will generally go into a conversation very well-prepared if they know, okay, this meeting has been on my agenda. This is the agenda in the meeting. These are the topics. These are the things that we need to discuss.
They're going to come in really, really well prepared. Now, the thing that an introvert needs to know is that they're probably over prepared and that they need to simply say what it is that they really believe and what they feel they know. And so many times and I've had clients who were like this, they're like, I'm not ready.
I'm not ready. And I'll say, Well, what is the criteria for you that this will be ready, for example, with like a piece of software? They're like, Well, it needs to do this, this, this and this. And I said, Well, what's the true objective of the meeting you're going to? They're like, Well, I just want to know that people like my idea.
And I'm like, Wouldn't that just be the minimum viable product? How do you define the minimum viable product? And then they realize they're like, Oh gosh, I've already got it. And what it is, they just need a push, honestly, like as a coach, like a lot of times that's what I'm doing is I'm just giving them that nudge and I'm holding them accountable.
Billy: Do you see any value in these personality profile tests? I remember I did insights and I actually found it to be quite valuable because it was scarily accurate in describing me. But then it also helped me understand my colleagues a little bit better too. Now, unfortunately, people would box you into those. That's always been my issues with Myers-Briggs is that you get boxed into those and they say with insights they would say, Well, it's because you lead with red dotted on.
It's like, Yeah, well yes, that's my default. But I also, you know, I'm a human being, I'm complex. There are these other things I am capable of being emotional as well. I am capable of coming at you with data and details, that sort of thing. Just because I lead with Red, which is basically be brief, be bright, be gone, I do have these other abilities, but I'm wondering if those personality profile tests help people, particularly in organizations, better understand each other.
And then does it allow leaders to be like, okay, you've kind of got this personality type, it's your default. It's not to say that this is the only thing you can do, but it's your default. You have this personality type, you have this personality type, you have this personality type. Let's see if we can put you all together and see what sort of synergy this group can produce.
Do you see any value in that, or is that overcomplicating it?
Steven: Well, I think there's a lot there to unpack that. You said. So a couple of things I heard you say was, well, one, when you first read it, you were like, Oh, this is eerily similar to who I am. You also alluded to almost weaponizing personality types, which there's been cases of people who were applying for a job and their personality assessment might stop them from getting a job.
And there's also been managers who weaponize personality types against their employees, right? So saying, well, gosh, you know, you're an AI, A.J, so we definitely don't want to put you in front of the customer or something to that effect. You know, it's a really complex question. In fact, there's I think it's called personality brokers. There's a book called Personality Brokers might be off on the title.
And then there's the book, Personalities and Permanent by Dr. Benjamin Hardy that that really treat these this topic in much greater detail. I'll say this is that I take from it what is actionable so in other words knowing I have these types I'm bigger fan of DESC than I am Myers-Briggs. I like that because it is a behavioral assessment, not a personality assessment.
It gets down into behavioral tendencies that people have. It also says, okay, hey, if you're working with a Heidi or hi, I'm guessing you're probably a high, high four influence, you know, how is it that one would work with that other person? So I think your original question is, you know, are they useful? And yeah, they're useful. They also can be dangerous in that when people start to weaponize them.
But I think, yeah, we have to kind of take them with a grain of salt and recognize that they're not, you know, kind of going back to the title of the Benjamin Hardy book, they're not permanent. It's a tendency. It just means that doing something that's a little bit against the grain is going to just take more energy, but you're certainly going to be able to do it.
I mean, I for one would say, okay, well, the opposite of A.I. is a C, so can I be conscientious and directive? And yes, I can. I can go pull data and then become, you know, very assertive with somebody. It's not going to be very, I would say, the lowest energy path for me. So anyway, I know I didn't really answer your question in perfect clarity because it is a big, big topic are I think it's $1,000,000,000 industry, the personality assessments.
And on top of that there's been a ton of authors have come along and kind of teared the stuff down. I'm a firm believer, though, that you can steam off any of these labels and you can really be whatever you want to be.
Billy: Well, hey, if you're out there and you are looking to find your voice, if you're looking to step through your base of self-limiting beliefs, give a Stephen a follow on LinkedIn. That's where all the quality is there. It's very entertaining. Stephen, thank you so much for joining me. I really appreciate.
Steven: It. Yeah, it was great to be on here. Billy, Thank you so much for inviting me.
Billy: Hey, if you enjoyed this week's episode, be sure to look in the shownotes for all of Stephen's contact information. Don't forget to subscribe to the show wherever you get your podcasts. If you're an Apple listener, you can do that by clicking the plus sign in the upper right hand corner. Also, please do me a favor and leave a five star review with a few kind words.
Or if you're a Spotify listener, click those five stars under the show chart after you click the follow button. If you'd like to share your thoughts on this week's episode, you can find all of my contact information in the show notes as well. Feel free to email me your takeaways from this conversation to Mindful Midlife Crisis at gmail.com.
You can also follow me and DM me on Instagram @mindful_midlife_crisis. You can find me on LinkedIn at Billy Lahr, that's LAHR or you can send a message to the contact page at www.mindfulmidlifecrisis.com while you're there, feel free to join our mindful midlife community for free resources that will help you live your life with more curiosity, openness, compassion and awareness.
Some of you might skip this part at the end because it's the same every week. But here's the thing If you did, you're going to miss out on some really valuable information, because if you are one of those people who are interested learning more about the benefits of mindfulness, I invite you to join our mindful meditation community, where I'll be leading free virtual guided, mindful meditations every Monday evening at 8 p.m. Central Standard Time, and every Tuesday evening at 8 p.m. Korean Standard Time.
Do the math and figure it out. But for more information, click on the link in the show notes. Finally, I know Stephen and I would greatly appreciate it if you would share this episode with the people in your life who may benefit from Stephen's expertise and life experiences. Remember, the purpose of the show is to help you navigate the complexities and possibilities of life's second half.
And I hope this conversation provides some insight that will help you reflect, learn and grow so that you can live a more purpose filled life. So for Stephen, this is Billy. Thank you for listening to The Mindful Midlife Crisis. May you feel happy, healthy and loved.
Take care, friends.