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Honor Your Emotions

September 17, 2015

I sometimes find it challenging to honor (and actually feel) my own feelings – especially if what I feel seems to be at odds with other people, or my emotions don’t seem to be “appropriate” to the situation.  While I’m not someone who tends to hold back sharing my honest opinions, desires, and feelings and, over the years, I’ve gotten quite a bit of feedback from people close to me about talking too much, dominating situations or conversations, and being selfish – underneath all of this is a deep fear of certain emotions or that my feelings aren’t as important as other people’s.

It has been humbling to come to this realization about myself in the past few years.  However, it has also been incredibly liberating to see this pattern and to ask myself the question, “What would it be like to honor my real emotions and to live my life knowing that what I want and feel is just as important as anyone else?”

Honoring our emotions isn’t about being self absorbed, arrogant, or better than anyone – it’s really about being true to ourselves, honest with how we feel and what we want, and willing to engage in authentic conversations with other people – even, and especially, when we don’t feel or want the same things that they do.

So why can it be so challenging for us to honor our own emotions?  Some of the primary reasons for this are:

  • We worry that people won’t like or approve of us
  • We don’t value ourselves in an authentic way (i.e. we think we’re not good enough)
  • We’ve been taught to put other people’s needs, desires, and feelings ahead of our own
  • We’re not comfortable feeling and expressing certain emotions
  • We don’t think we “deserve” to have what we want (i.e. we think we’re not important enough)
  • We haven’t been taught healthy ways to feel and express our true emotions
  • We worry that we’ll be seen as selfish or overly emotional
These and other things get in the way of feeling our real emotions.  Sadly, by not honoring our feelings we both discount ourselves in a painful, and ultimately damaging way, and we create separation between us and other people, often the most important people in our lives.

Here are a few things you can do to enhance your capacity to honor your own emotions:

  • Be Real About How You Truly Feel – The first step of any process is always about being real, first and foremost with ourselves.  Even if we feel unclear or uncomfortable with a specific situation or certain set of emotions or desires, the more willing we are to be real about what we truly feel and want, the more ability we’ll have to honor ourselves and be authentic with others.  Making it a practice of getting in touch with our true feelings is essential.  A great way to do this is through journaling. It’s not about justifying how we feel to anyone else; it’s about being honest with ourselves and out emotions.
  • Stop Judging Yourself – One of the biggest things that can get in our way in life, in general and specifically when it comes to feeling our emotions and expressing our desires, is self judgment.  We think to ourselves, “I shouldn’t feel this way,” or “If I share this, they will think I’m a terrible person.”  We use these self critical thoughts to suppress our true feelings, which can have significantly negative consequences on us and others.What if we just allowed ourselves to be real and to honor what’s true for us in the moment, without judging it?
  • Give Yourself Permission to Feel – Because of our self judgment, we sometimes don’t give ourselves permission to feel… especially certain emotions.  As human beings we tend to have a hierarchy of emotions – liking the “good” ones (love, joy, gratitude, peace, etc) and not liking the “bad” ones (anger, fear, hurt, powerlessness, etc).  However, at the deepest level, all human emotions have value and can benefit us if we’re willing to feel them in an authentic and healthy way.  Giving ourselves permission to feel what we’re feeling is critical to our ability to honor and move through our emotions in a way that serves us, our relationships, and our life.
  • Let Go of Your “Story” – Many of us, myself included, are attached to our “story.”  We love all of the drama and all of the details that make up the relationships, situations, and circumstances in our lives (both past and present).  While our life story, as well as the details of specific relationships and circumstances in our lives, are important at some level, too often we get caught in the story and all the drama, which actually takes us out of our emotional experience.  Where we have real power is in feeling our emotions authentically, not talking about them, rationalizing them, or explaining them – but in simply feeling them.  Human emotions are not sustainable – especially if they are honestly felt.  It only takes about a minute or two to genuinely feel and move through an emotion.  However, when we attach an emotion to a story, we don’t allow ourselves to truly feel it and thus can keep it stuck in place.
  • Get Emotional Support – As important as our emotions are to our lives, our well being, and our relationships, sadly we don’t get a lot of emotional training in life (through school, at work, and in general) and we don’t often have built in, healthy emotional support mechanisms in our daily lives.  We live in a world that is primarily focused on action, results, and appearances – none of which has anything to do with our emotional experience (even though our emotional experience is not only one of the most important aspects of our lives, but is what drives much of what we do and produce in life).  There are, however, many ways we can find or enhance our emotional support.  Most of us have certain emotional support structures in our lives that we’ve set up for ourselves, consciously or unconsciously.  The key is for us to utilize these in a consistent and authentic way, as well as to make sure they are empowering us to honor ourselves and our emotional experience in life.

What do you do honor your emotions in a healthy way? What makes this challenging for you? Feel free to share your thoughts, insights, or any questions you have below.

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Making the Shift from Ambition to Meaning

September 3, 2015

The unexpected passing of Dr. Wayne Dyer has had a big impact on me.  He was an amazing teacher who inspired me (and millions of others) for many years.  He was also someone I was honored to have met a few times in the past few years when we both spoke at events for our publisher, Hay House.

In this video blog message, I talk about one of Wayne’s core teachings – how we can make the shift from ambition (focusing on our goals, achievements, status, possessions) to meaning (focusing on fulfillment, joy, purpose, and what and whom matter most to us).

This important lesson was the core theme of a film Wayne made a few years ago called “The Shift.”  I’m filled with both sadness (for his death) and gratitude (for his life).  He clearly didn’t die with his music still in him.  Thank you Wayne!

Check out the video below and feel free to leave a comment below about it. And, if there are people in your life or your social networks whom you think would resonate with this message, you are welcome to share it with them.


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How Do You Handle Criticism?

August 20, 2015

I’ve received some criticism in the past couple of weeks in a few different situations.  This has caused me to step back and reflect on how I handle criticism.  Although I tend to get quite defensive when people criticize me, I’ve actually been pleasantly surprised by how I’ve reacted.

In this video blog I talk about criticism and offer some thoughts, ideas, and tips for how we can handle it more effectively…as well as ways to not let the fear of being criticized stop us from putting ourselves out there, taking risks, and going for what we truly want.

Check out the video below and feel free to leave a comment on my blog about it. And, if there are people in your life or your social networks whom you think would resonate with this message, you’re welcome to share it with them.

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Mind Power Technology

July 16, 2015mindpt

I’m excited to share a new tool with you!  I’ve recently partnered with Mind Power Technology, or MindPT, to bring you a brand-new visual version of my teachings. My session, which is called “Nothing Changes Until You Do,” can be viewed online or on the MindPT mobile app. As a gift to you, we’re giving it away for free…you can check it out here:

MindPT blew me away when I first learned about it.  It’s a personal change tool that works on a conscious and subconscious level, yet requires nothing more than relaxing and watching a stunning visual presentation.

Through the integration of neuroscience and positive psychology, MindPT uses a precise blend of high quality, clinically studied techniques. Each element is proven to improve emotional and physical wellbeing, and leads to peak performance and greater happiness.

I like to think of it as a pocket “trainer” for your mind.  Anytime you need an emotional boost, confidence, an attitude adjustment, direction, self-love, empowerment, inspiration or motivation… just pull out your phone and watch Nothing Changes Until You Do.


Feel better, and think better… in minutes!

When you watch it regularly, your automatic self-talk will change. That’s the brilliance of this approach.

 We know that we can talk ourselves into – or out of – anything. It all depends on what’s going on inside, in our belief system!  MindPT helps you upgrade your automatic self-talk to align it with your goals and your values. You will self-talk your way into greater happiness, enhanced health, more success, better relationships and the satisfaction of achieving your goals!

I encourage you to use MindPT for just 5-10 minutes every day. Use your “down” time to the max, and prepare to be blown away by the results.

I’m excited to share this with you.  Check out my session, Nothing Changes Until You Do, for free:

I think you’re going to really enjoy it.  And, I’m looking forward to hearing your results!

Also, make sure to go to the app store and download the free MindPT app for your wireless device so you can view my session on the go.  Your email address and password will allow you to access my MindPT session for free (normally $47)…or you can simply use the code “MikeRobbins” to get free access to the session.  Enjoy!


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Can You Survive Without Your Phone?

July 9, 2015

As we were rushing around to get out the door for our 4th of July weekend trip to the  lake, I misplaced my iPhone and was forced to leave without it…for 4 days!  What at first seemed like a curse, ended up being a blessing!

After the initial panic wore off, I actually felt free and liberated…and had lots of fun with Michelle, the girls, and our friends on the trip (probably more fun than I would have had if my phone was with me).

In this video I talk about this experience and the challenge that many of us face in today’s world with our seeming dependence on our phones and technology in general.

Check out the video below and feel free to leave a comment below about it. And, if there are people in your life or your social networks whom you think would resonate with this message, feel free to share it with them.

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Remember How Strong You Are


May 14, 2015

In early March of 2011, I was sitting in my car in the parking lot of the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Half Moon Bay, California, where I was scheduled to speak later that morning. Although it was a pretty big event, I wasn’t feeling all that nervous about it-I had other things on my mind. I called one of my best friends, Theo, to reach out for his support. Theo and I have been friends for more than a decade-we’ve helped each other through a lot of big life stuff, even though we live on opposites sides of the country and due to our busy schedules don’t actually get to see each other in person all that much. I love, trust, and admire Theo a great deal-not only is he one of the smartest people I know, he’s also one of those people you can call at 3 a.m. and know he’ll be there for you.

That particular morning the conversation focused completely on me and our house situation. We’d been trying to work with our lender to figure out how to get out from under the enormous negative equity position we were in. Things were really up in the air with the bank, doing a short sale wasn’t looking all that good, and the reality that we might simply need to walk away and have them foreclose on us was a real possibility. I felt paralyzed by my fear, shame, and embarrassment, and I was completely overwhelmed by the circumstances.

I said, “I don’t know if I can handle this. I can’t believe we put ourselves in this situation. How could I have allowed this to happen? I feel like an idiot!”

Theo listened with empathy and understanding. Then he said, “First of all, Mike, stop being so hard on yourself. Yes, you’ve made some mistakes, but you’re learning from them and you’re clearly not an idiot. Second of all, even with the mistakes you’ve made, a lot of people are in your same situation. It’s not your fault that the economy crashed and the housing market imploded. And, finally, it’s important to remember that you have more than this requires.”

As I allowed what he said to resonate with me, I was touched by a few specific things. First of all, I was reminded once again why Theo has been a constant in my life. He’s always able to acknowledge the reality of a situation and then put it in perspective. Second of all, his words made me stop and take inventory of some of the adversity I’ve overcome in my life. In so doing, I was reminded that I am actually quite resilient. I got to thinking more and more about my own internal strength (and the strength we each possess as human beings) over the hours and days that followed our conversation.

In just about every situation and circumstance in life, we really do have more than is required to not only deal with what’s happening, but to thrive in the face of it. As the saying goes, whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. While I don’t believe that we have to necessarily suffer and struggle in order to grow and evolve in life, one of the best things we can do when dealing with a major challenge is to look for the gifts and to find the gold in the situation as much as possible.

Each of us has overcome a lot in our lives-both big and small. If you spend enough time walking around the planet, chances are you’ll experience some significant adversity. Dealing with and overcoming it not only teaches us a lot about ourselves, others, and life, but also gives us the opportunity to be reminded of our own power and strength. It’s not that we won’t feel scared, overwhelmed, angry, sad, embarrassed, confused, worried, or more-these feelings and many others are often a part of going through adverse times. However, remembering that “this, too, shall pass” will help us persevere in the midst of challenges, while reminding us that we can actually expand ourselves in the process.

One of the most painful yet growth-inducing experiences of my life was when I got my heart broken in my mid-20s. Sara and I met in college and started dating in our senior year. We were together for three and a half years, and had gotten pretty serious. Going through college graduation, the end of my baseball career, moving in together, the sudden death of her father, the start of our first jobs, a breakup and reconciliation two years into our relationship, and more had bonded us significantly.

In the fall of 1999, Sara decided she didn’t want to be with me anymore, and we split up abruptly. I was crushed. I felt like someone had knocked the wind out of me. I’d never experienced emotions like this before in my life. It was hard to eat, sleep, and even get out of bed in the morning. I felt lost and worried I would never find my way again. At one point when I was deep in the throes of my despair, I remember having a vision that I was a running back in a football game. This was an odd vision for me, since I’d never played football. However, I saw myself running with the ball toward the end zone. There were a bunch of guys trying to tackle me, but I was holding on to the ball with both hands, driving my legs as hard as I could, and doing everything possible not to let them bring me down. This vision felt like a sign to me-that the pain, confusion, and loneliness were there for a reason. Although it was difficult, I was strong enough to withstand it, and if I continued to persevere, I would be okay.

While it did take some time, a lot of forgiveness, support, and inner work, I moved through that painful experience and gained a great deal in the process. I learned how strong I was, gained a deeper awareness and empathy for the experience of loss and heartbreak, and came away with a greater understanding of what’s important to me in relationships and in life. Going through that heartache made me a better person and also helped get me ready to meet Michelle, which I’m eternally grateful for.

When we remember how strong we are, not only can it help us as we face challenges or adversity in the moment, it can give us much needed confidence and faith that we actually have what it takes to navigate this crazy and beautiful thing called life. As Glennon Melton, author of Carry On, Warrior and creator of one of my favorite blogs, Momastery, likes to say, “Life can be hard sometimes, but that’s okay, because we can do hard things.”

This is an excerpt from Nothing Changes Until You Do, by Mike Robbins posted  with permission.  Published by Hay House (May, 2015 in paperback) and available online or in bookstores.

What can you (or do you) do to remember how strong you are? Share your thoughts, action ideas, insights, and more below.

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My Book is Available in Paperback

May 12, 2015

I’m excited to let you know that my book, Nothing Changes Until You Do: A Guide to Self-Compassion and Getting Out of Your Own Way, is officially available in paperback!  You can order discounted copies of the it today for yourself and others…and get free bonus gifts when you do.

The book is filled with stories, lessons, and insights from my own life and from the lives of others – all focused on how we can have more compassion, more acceptance, and more love for ourselves (and thus more compassion, acceptance, and love for everyone and everything in our lives).

It’s divided into 40 short chapters, each containing anecdotes, ideas, and techniques designed to inspire and empower you. You can read the book straight through or one chapter at a time in any order – making it easy to digest and implement the insights you gain.

I wrote this book to help you:

  • Make peace with yourself, others, and life
  • Breakthrough the traps of self-criticism and perfectionism
  • Accept yourself and those around you with compassion
  • Live with courage, passion, and vulnerability
  • Remember how powerful and resilient you are

When you order paperback copies of Nothing Changes Until You Do today, you’ll receive the following free bonus gifts:

Video of my live book launch event:  You’ll be able to watch full video from my book launch event. I gave an interactive talk, answered questions, and we had lots of fun.

Video of my live keynote: Love Yourself, and The Rest Will Follow

Audios of three exclusive interviews with me and:

– Kristin Neff, Ph.D, on Self-Compassion

– Robert Holden, Ph.D, on Self-Acceptance

– Glennon Doyle Melton, on Self-Love

Audios of two guided meditations created by me – focused on fulfilling your own needs and embracing your emotions.

And, as a special bonus when you order 3 or more copies, you’ll receive:

A free downloaded copy of my exclusive audio program, Speak with Impact: 7 Secrets to Delivering Memorable Presentations

And, if you’d like to order copies of Nothing Changes Until You Do for your entire team or organization, feel free to contact us and we can discuss special discounts and offers for bulk orders.

 “This book is filled with quick, compelling, and actionable ideas. Mike Robbins uses his personal experience to help all of us see how we can take small steps toward a better life. Reading this book will give you a new way to think about how you interact with the world.”

Tom Rath, New York Times bestselling author of Eat, Move, Sleep and Strengthsfinder 2.0

For more information and to order paperback copies of my book right now, click here.

In addition to picking up copies of the paperback for yourself and others, if you’d like to help spread the word about it, especially this week during the launch, I’d be honored and grateful. We put together a book launch assets page which contains info and resources to make it super easy to share with others via your email list, blog, newsletter, and/or on social media. Feel free to check it out and let the people in your online networks know. Thanks!

And, if you’ve read the book (or listened to the audio), I’d love to hear what you think of it and what impact it has had on your life.  Feel free to leave comments below or post on my Facebook page.

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Have the Courage to Be Vulnerable

nothing-changes-until-you-do-pintrest25May 6, 2015

Given the focus of my work, especially in the past five years since the release of my book Be Yourself, Everyone Else Is Already Taken, which is all about authenticity and vulnerability, I’m constantly in situations where I’m talking about, encouraging, and seeing the positive impact of vulnerability.

Because of my baseball background, I’m sometimes invited to speak to athletes, specifically baseball players. A few years ago, I got invited down to spring training to speak to a group of minor league players for one of the Major League Baseball organizations. This was a big deal for me and I was excited to have an opportunity to speak to these guys, given that I had stood in their shoes in my early 20s. I could relate specifically to what they were going through—spring training is an exciting but stressful time, where lots of evaluation takes place and decisions are made. A number of those guys would be released (i.e., cut) by the end of spring training, so how they performed over the next few weeks would have a big impact on not only their season but also their future baseball careers (or lack thereof).

I spoke to them that morning about how they could effectively deal with the pressure of spring training and how they could handle the mental and emotional ups and downs of playing baseball in a healthy and productive way. My talk went well and seemed to resonate with the guys. After I spoke, a number of them came up to talk to me. In addition to their comments and questions about my speech, a bunch of them wanted to tell me about something that happened a few days earlier. Because I heard about it passionately from a number of different guys (and got a few different versions of the same story), I wanted to find out more about what went down, so I asked my friend and former Stanford teammate AJ, who was running the whole minor league system for this organization at the time, what had happened.

AJ told me that he had asked his coaches to introduce themselves to the players at their first all-camp meeting the week before in a unique way. Instead of them giving their résumés, he wanted each of them to tell a personal story about a meaningful moment they’d had when they were players themselves. He said it was amazing and that one of his coaches, named Alan, blew everyone away with his story.

Alan got up and said, “I played for ten years in AAA, without a single day in the major leagues.”

No one plays in AAA (which is the highest level of the minor leagues) for ten years. If you get that high up and hang around for a while, you either make it up to the big leagues, or you walk away from the game. It’s very uncommon and actually quite difficult to spend that much time at that level of the minors. Alan went on to say:

I played for a number of different organizations, but couldn’t break through and make it. Toward the end of that tenth season in Triple-A’s, I finally made peace with the fact that I wasn’t going to make it. I was disappointed, of course, but because I’d given it everything I had, and it just didn’t seem like it was meant to be, I was actually okay with it.

Once I made my decision, I called my dad because we’d been talking about my career in the recent weeks. I said to him, “Dad, I’ve decided I’m going to retire. I’m not going to quit right now because the season’s not over, but when it ends, I’m going to stop playing. Would you do me a favor, Dad? Can you come see me play one last time? That would really mean a lot to me.”

When my dad got there, I was fired up. I really wanted to play well. He was going to be in town for five nights. The first night he was in town, I came up to bat in the second inning, hit a ground ball to second base, and grounded out. When I got back in the dugout, my manager walked over to me, tapped me on the shoulder, and told me to sit down.

He took me out of the game, and in the second inning. Now that only happens if you don’t hustle, do something stupid, or get hurt. But I wasn’t hurt, I did hustle on that play—I always hustled—and I hadn’t done anything stupid to warrant him taking me out of the game that early.

I didn’t understand. And I was mad. I didn’t say anything to my manager because I didn’t want to be disrespectful. But, how could he show me up like that, and in front of my father? Anyway, I just sat there at the end of the bench about as far away from the manager as I could.

Then, I heard someone at the other end of the bench say, “Can we tell him?” The next thing I knew, my manager walked all the way down to the end of the bench and got right in my face.

He said, “Do you want to know why I took you out of the game?”

“Yes sir,” I said. “I didn’t appreciate that; you showed me up in front of my father.”

“Well,” my manager said, “I took you out of the game because you just got called up to the major leagues.”

The next thing I knew, I looked up and all twenty-five guys on my team had gathered around me in the dugout to give me hugs and high fives. Those guys were so excited for me because they all knew how long I’d waited, how hard I’d worked, and how much it meant to me. The celebration went on so long in the dugout, they actually had to stop the game.

As amazing as this story is, the most incredible part is that when this coach told this story to a roomful of 150 Minor League Baseball players, he broke down and cried in front of all of them. That never happens there, ever. And a few days later, dozens of those players were coming up to talk to me about it because it had a huge impact on them.

That’s how powerful it is when we have the courage to be vulnerable—when we let people see who we really are and how we really feel.

Dr. Brené Brown, author of Daring Greatly, is a psychologist and research professor from the University of Houston who studies human emotions, including shame and vulnerability. In a March 2012 TED talk, she said, “Vulnerability is not weakness, and that myth is profoundly dangerous.” She went on to say that after 12 years of research, she has actually determined that vulnerability is “our most accurate measurement of courage.”

Unfortunately, all too often we relate to vulnerability—especially in certain environments, relationships, and situations—as something we should avoid at all costs. However, it’s vulnerability that liberates us from our erroneous and insatiable obsession with trying to do everything “right”—thinking we can’t make mistakes, have flaws, or be human. In other words, being vulnerable allows us to let go of the pressure-filled, stress-inducing perfection demands we place on ourselves.

In addition to our own liberation, when we’re vulnerable we give other people permission to be vulnerable as well, and in so doing, we open up the possibility of real human connection and the opportunity to impact people in a profound way, which is what most of us truly want in life.

This is an excerpt from my book Nothing Changes Until You Do, with permission. Published by Hay House (May, 2015 in paperback) and available online or in bookstores.

How easy or difficult do you find it to be vulnerable yourself? What do you do to have the courage to be vulnerable in your life? What questions or suggestions do you have about this? Share your thoughts, action ideas, insights, and more below.


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My New TEDx Talk – Bring Your Whole Self to Work

April 9, 2015Screen Shot 2015-04-07 at 1.36.56 PM copy

I hope you’re doing well and having a great week!

As I mentioned in last week’s newsletter blog post (and you may have seen from some if my social media posts), I recently gave another Tedx talk.  This new one is called Bring your Whole Self to Work.

I wanted to share the video of the talk with you in case you haven’t seen it yet, for two main reasons.  First of all, because I think you’ll enjoy it and get some good stuff out of it – especially as it relates to your professional life.  And, second of all, because if you feel moved to do so, I’d be honored and grateful if you shared it with others…via email, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. :)

The talk is just 12 minutes long and focuses on the importance of bringing all of who we are to the work that we do, as well as doing what we can to create an environment around us where people can do the same.  These are things I’ve been researching, writing, and speaking about for years – and I feel like this new TEDx talk encapsulates some of my newest thinking and most exciting insights.

I hope you enjoy this talk and it gives you some inspiration and ideas about how you can more fully bring all of who you are to work that you do (and encourage others to do so as well).

And, if you’d like to share the video of this talk, you can simply forward this link ( or this email to others.  If you’d like to post it on social media, here are two samples you can use or edit:

For Facebook/LinkedIn:

Mike Robbins, author of Nothing Changes Until You Do, just gave a great new TEDx talk called Bring Your Whole Self to Work, check it out:

For Twitter:

Check out this great new TEDx talk by author @MikeDRobbins called Bring Your Whole Self to Work,

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Bring Your Whole Self to Work

April 2, 2015Screen Shot 2015-04-01 at 7.24.33 PM copy

For this week’s audio podcast, click here.

I recently gave a TEDx talk in which I reflected on what I’ve seen and learned over the past fifteen years – researching, writing, and speaking about essential human experiences in the workplace.  As I addressed in this talk, I believe that for us to thrive professionally, especially in today’s world, we must be willing bring our whole selves to the work that we do.  And, for the groups, teams, and organizations that we’re a part of to truly succeed, it’s essential to create an environment where people feel safe to bring all of who they are to work.

While this is a fairly simple concept, it’s much easier said than done.  It takes a great deal of courage for us both individually and collectively to bring our whole selves to work.  However, what my research and experience has shown me is that when we do this – not only are we more likely to create success and fulfillment for ourselves, we can have the greatest impact on the people around us and together we’re able to do our best work.

Here are some things you can do personally to more effectively bring your whole self to work:

1) Embrace vulnerability – We erroneously think that being vulnerable is a sign of weakness; it’s not.  While vulnerability can be scary and hard, it’s actually essential for healthy risk, change, growth, creativity, innovation, and more.  We can’t do, experience, or accomplish anything new or significant without vulnerability.  As Dr. Brene Brown from the University of Houston says, “You can’t get to courage without walking through vulnerability.”  She’s right, and the more willing we are to embrace vulnerability, the more courage we have to do our work the way we want to and to have the kind of impact we most desire.

2) Be willing to have sweaty palmed conversations – A number of years ago a mentor of mine said to me, “Mike what stands between you and the kind of relationships you really want is probably a ten minute, sweaty palmed conversation that you’re too afraid to have.”  Too often we avoid difficulties, challenges, and conflicts with others because we’re afraid of the consequences of speaking up or engaging.  However, when we have the courage to have those “sweaty palmed” conversations, we increase our ability to resolve conflicts, make deeper connections, and build authentic confidence.

3) Stop trying to survive – Something that gets in our way, especially when we’re doing things that truly matter to us, is that we hold back and play it safe.  I learned a lot about this during my years as an athlete – over 18 years of playing baseball, even and especially at the college and professional level – the most disappointing moments I had weren’t when I failed, but when I held myself back due my fear of failing.  I remember a coach of mine saying something powerful and poignant to me about this.  He said, “Mike, you’re living your life as though you’re trying to survive it.  You have to remember…no one ever has!”  When we consciously let go of our obsession with survival, we make it possible to take risks and go for what we truly want.

If you run a business, lead an organization, manage a team, or simply want the people around you to feel safe and empowered to bring all of who they are to the work they do, there are two important components to creating an atmosphere that is conducive to this type of authenticity, which ultimately leads to the greatest levels of engagement, connection, and performance:

Healthy High Expectations: High expectations are essential for people to thrive.  However, the expectations have to be healthy – meaning there is a high standard of excellence; not insatiable, unhealthy pressure to be perfect.  We almost always get what we expect from others, although if we expect perfection, everyone falls short and people aren’t set up to succeed.  Healthy high expectations are about having a high bar and challenging people to be their absolute best.

High Level of Nurturance: Nurturance has to do with people feeling seen, heard, and valued – not just for what they do, but for who they are.  It also has to do with it being safe to make mistakes, ask for help, speak up, and disagree.  Nurturing environments are filled with an authentic sense of compassion and empathy – people feel cared about and supported.

We often think that in order to have a high bar we can’t also be nurturing.  Or, we think if we nurture people, we can’t also expect a lot from them.  Actually, the goal is to do both at the same time, and to do so passionately.

Bringing our whole selves to work and creating an environment which supports this are no small things.  They take courage on everyone’s part and, at times, go against conventional wisdom.  However, when we’re willing to show up fully and we encourage others to do the same, that creates the conditions for all of us to thrive.

Check out the video of my new TEDx talk, “Bring Your Whole Self to Work.

How easy or difficult do you find it to bring your whole self to work?  Is the environment where you work feel safe and conducive to you bringing your whole self?  What questions or suggestions do you have about this? Share your thoughts, action ideas, insights, and more below.

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