Archive for May 2015

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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