JP Pawliw-Fry On How To Perform Under Pressure And Win On Your Exit
"I don't believe in luck. I believe in preparation and courage." - JP Pawliw-Fry
JP Pawliw-Fry spent the past 20 years helping individuals lead and innovate under pressure in the most extreme situations. JP has worked with Olympic, NBA and NFL teams, some of the world’s biggest brands (like Goldman Sachs and Intel) as well as the US Navy and the CIA. JP has witnessed from the front lines and researched what it takes to lead and innovate under pressure - the findings will surprise you
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Steve Wells: [00:00:00] This is Steve Wells.
Jeffrey Feldberg: [00:00:01] And I'm Jeffrey Feldberg. Welcome to the Sell My Business Podcast.
Steve Wells: [00:00:05] This podcast is brought to you by Deep Wealth. Are you a business owner who is wondering how to either grow your business, sell it, or both? Or maybe in today's environment, you're wondering how to make your business pandemic proof.
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Jeffrey Feldberg: [00:00:30] It's both an honor, an absolute pleasure to welcome Dr. JP Pawliw-Fry, who wrote the book on pressure, literally and figuratively. JP is a New York Times bestselling author with his book Performing Under Pressure: The Science of Doing Your Best When It Matters Most. JP combines teaching experience at the world-class Kellogg School of Business, is an award-winning entrepreneur, as recognized by Profit Magazine's fastest growing companies, as well as working with a Olympic, NFL teams, and Navy seals, and who's who of fortune five hundreds. JP is the host of the popular podcast, The Last 8% Morning, and the organization, JP co-founded the Institution For Health and Human Potential, surveys over 40,000 people a month and teaches emotional intelligence around the world.
JP, we're delighted to have you with us and thank you so much for your time today to speak to the business owners and our community out there. Why don't we start with what have you been up to? How have things been for you?
JP Pawliw-Fry: [00:01:38] Yeah, great to be here. Jeff and Steven, and I'm excited to be on the podcast today with everyone.
We are however many weeks into the pandemic. There's some positive and some negative. I think all of us feel that the challenge that so many on the frontline are experiencing whether in healthcare or retail, et cetera, I fortunately, am not, and I'm getting to know my kids again.
Which is fantastic. I have a 23-year-old, a 21 and a 17-year-old. And, we're spending a lot more time than we otherwise would have. And so that's fantastic. I mean, as we will talk about in this session, there's a lot of interesting challenges that we're all facing.
So I’ve got lots of opportunities as I'm sure everyone who is listening has as well.
Jeffrey Feldberg: [00:02:23] And why don't we take that as a lead off with the pandemic and give us your thoughts on how can business owners personally, but also on the business side, stay focused during the pandemic?
JP Pawliw-Fry: [00:02:33] Yeah, that's a great question, Jeff.
I mean, there's a whole bunch of things we have to do. We have to get really good at managing ourselves. We have a lot less structure, so we're used to having structures. As, as we've talked about, you know, I work with different teams, Olympic athletes, NFL, and NBA teams.
Although more of my work is with corporate and organizational teams, but one thing that's very true for an athlete is when they leave their season from the moment they show up at training camp, to the moment they leave at the end of the season, they clear out their locker, they have a real set structure.
Everything is figured out the schedule is tight and they really live into that structure. And then in the off season, they don't have that. And actually, that's where a lot of athletes are at risk. I think it's an analog to what we're all experiencing. Or we don't go somewhere to work.
We don't fly somewhere to a meeting. We've lost all of our structures. And so now we're all at home. And so, we have to create our own structures and there's a number of habits that I can share today.
But that would be the first thing. I'd ask everyone to look at your structures, your habits. What are healthy and productive, what are less healthy and less productive? And listen, everyone who's listening, including the three of us have unhealthy unproductive habits. We do. The question is, do we beat ourselves up because of that?
Or do we try to work and build self-awareness to kind of manage around that? There's a lot here obviously to unpack, but I'd say first and foremost, look at your structures.
Steve Wells: [00:04:03] So I know that you are like the guru, the expert on pressure and working with the athletic teams and with individuals.
Why is pressure good or bad? And how does that effect the way our brains think and work?
JP Pawliw-Fry: [00:04:18] Great question, Stephen. So I'd like everyone to reflect. Is it true that some people perform better under pressure?
Rise to the occasion, perform better under pressure, by the way, we all watched the Last Dance, the Michael Jordan documentary. We survey 40,000 people a month. So, we have a fair amount of data, but 67% would say absolutely.
Some people rise to the occasion. Look at Michael Jordan, look at, Reggie Jackson, Mr. October. Well, the truth is, is that Michael Jordan does not do better under pressure. Reggie Jackson does not do better under pressure, even though he was called Mr. October. and I could give you.
A ton of other examples in sport or in organizations, and it's a complete and utter myth. And actually, it's really something we have to all understand because it creates a narrative that becomes a trap. So, let me just back up a little bit and, help us understand. So, if you look at Michael Jordan, when he shoots a free throw, which is a very controlled activity, you can understand the time of the game. Are they up? Are they down? You can understand how much pressure there is. And so, if we look at the most pressure filled situations that Michael will face, let's say it's a playoff game. Let's say it is less than two minutes left. And this is literally the scenario from the research.
They're up a point, tied or down a point and he or anyone is shooting a free-throw. But when Michael Jordan is in that situation, His statistics are far worse than a season average, his playoff average. It's just true. And by the way, that's consistent with every NBA player in the history of the game.
Reggie Jackson, we know as. Mr. October, because he rises to the occasion, hits more home, runs in October the playoffs, but that's. BS. I mean, let's be honest. The stats show that his best October was only equal to his fourth or fifth best season average in terms of home runs per at bat. Why am I saying all this?
I'm saying this because we have to deconstruct the myth because if any of us walk into a pressure situation, we are, pitching a deal. We are in negotiations. It could be almost anything. Here's the narrative that happens. It's pressure. Oh, I've got to be better in this pressure situation to be successful.
I have to be perfect to be successful. If we walk in with that narrative, that becomes a trap because all of a sudden now, if we make a mistake, which is inevitable, I mean, let me tell you inevitable, I've been to six Olympic games, it's inevitable that all of us, every athlete will make a mistake at the highest level. And we can talk about that in terms of the brain, but it's just true. We make mistakes, but if you have a narrative that says in order to be successful, I need to be perfect. Oh, I was just imperfect. And then all of a sudden, we go into this doom loop of, Oh my gosh, I made a mistake.
Now I can't be successful. And we start to lose confidence. We start to lose our ability to perform. I think of Cam Newton in the Super Bowl, four or five years ago. He had a bad first quarter. Some of it was due to him, but some of it wasn't, his old line was having a tough time and he went into doom loop.
I don't want to pick on him because I know how hard it is to be an athlete in that situation. But it's a situation where he was not able to just let go, just accept, be friend, the fact that we will make mistakes. And so, Steven, great question. And I, and I'll just push to everyone who's listening. You will make mistakes when you're in a big meeting, when you're making a big presentation, when you're in a negotiation, expect it, and then have a response, a refocus plan. That's actually the more important piece. And in fact, what Michael Jordan was able to do, better than almost any other athlete, is when he made the inevitable mistake, he missed the free-throw. He could let go of that sooner, not let the residue of that past moment inculcate and affect the current moment.
And he still wanted the ball back because we start to not want the ball. When we've made a mistake, we get afraid of the ball. We don't want to make another mistake. He could let go of that sooner. He still underperformed, but compared to everyone else who, who greatly underperformed, he was better.
If that makes sense.
Jeffrey Feldberg: [00:08:23] Some terrific advice. So, JP you have, when it comes to pressure, literally and figuratively, you've written the book. And one of the things that you say is don't confuse impact with intent. What do you mean by that?
JP Pawliw-Fry: [00:08:40] It's a great, it's a great one. Gosh, I do it all the time. We all do it all the time and I'll tell you what happens and, and it can, we can actually talk a little bit about the brain to here.
When we're under pressure the emotional part of our brain in general, it does this, but it amps up during pressure. The way our brain is designed, we feel before we think. The emotional part of our brain processes information, but a hundred times faster than our cognitive brain. So, we're going to feel before we think, and there's a reason because our brain is trying to protect us.
It's making predictions so that we are not in a place where we might get harmed, where we might be disrespected. So, it's not so much harm today. It's more disrespect. That's kind of the being eaten by a tiger 2000 years ago. So our brain is on the lookout and it makes predictions. One of the prediction errors is this. Jeffrey, you look at me, we're in this interview and you look at me kind of sideways like that was a poor answer JP. I was hoping to go down a different line of questioning and a different, theme, et cetera, whatever it is.
I see that from you and I'm feeling, let's say pressure in this interview and all of a sudden, I will make a prediction, error. I'll amplify the negative all feel before I think. Your look will impact me.
And then I will confuse that impact, what I feel about what I'm seeing for your actual intention. We jump to judgment based on less than 5% of available information. We don't know this by the way. Again, this is a real great takeaway for everyone listening. All of us, especially in our relationships, especially when we're under pressure, we will confuse impact for intent.
And we'll jump to judgment based on less than 5% of available information. This is so important when you're making a pitch in a negotiation. When you're making a presentation, when you're interacting with anyone, you got to be really careful not to amplify the negative. Jump into this prediction error, confusing impact for intent, and then start to operate based on that, where that person might not be feeling that at all.
And you might have just given away money in a negotiation or diminish your confidence in a presentation. This is actually a pretty important one to go and get more than 5% of the available information before you start to believe what you think to be true.
Steve Wells: [00:10:49] So part of that process, that the intent and the impact would be in the conversation potentially.
You've talked about this, which I found very interesting, is the importance of this last 8% of a conversation. What does that mean?
JP Pawliw-Fry: [00:11:03] Thank you, Steven. Let me talk with the last 8% to start. And it fits with the work that you guys are doing. We have a difficult conversation we need to have, could be personal, could be work-related could be negotiation. It doesn't even matter. It could be between a manager and their direct report.
And so actually I want everyone to think about this as you're listening. I want you to think about a kind of a challenging conversation that you've had in the last month, or you need to have, here's what we've observed. We're pretty good at getting into 85, 90, 92% of what we want to say in a conversation.
But when we get to that more difficult part, what we call that last 8% we struggle like say, Stephen, you and I are having this conversation. And I get to 85, 99 to 92%. All of a sudden, I'm starting to see that you're starting to react. And in fact, it's that impact and intent. I'm starting to think. It might be true and it might not be true, but you're starting to react.
I get infected by your motion. And now I sit here and I go, Oh, Steven's upset. And here's what many of us do as opposed to approaching that last 8% and addressing what we really want to talk about. We avoid it. And here's a problem. You can't read my mind. You don't know I didn't have the full conversation and I leave the conversation thing.
And I talked about most of the stuff I wanted to talk about, but I didn't. Conveniently leaving out that last 8% a month later. I'm wondering, Steven, why are you still doing that? You're looking at me going JP, what's going on? I thought we're on track. Why are you being passive aggressive? The problem is we never had the last 8% conversation.
George Bernard Shaw said the single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place and it never took place. And so, I want to push everyone again and I want to norm this, we all do this. I do this, the three of us do this on this podcast. Anyone listening, you do this as well. Own it, and find some tools so you can better manage your emotions.
Because it's emotions that stop us. From engaging in that last 8%. And so, the last few percent started as the research we did around conversation, then it moved to decision making. We put off and it’s a little less than 8%. It's more like 7%, but it's still the same. The number is actually not that important.
It's more that we avoid that last 8% conversation. We avoid making that last 8% decision. And COVID-19 to me is the last 8% situation. We're faced with a lot of tough decisions, tough conversations to have. And right now, we need to be courageous. We've got to really manage our confidence. So, we don't avoid those really important conversations.
That's a lot of the work that we're doing right now, and, you know, so we run a training company and that's what we train on is how to help people manage their emotions so they can have these last 8% conversations and decisions, et cetera.
Jeffrey Feldberg: [00:13:42] So JP speaking of quotes and conversations, one of the quotes that you shared before in the past by William Wrigley Jr.
And the quote is when two people in business always agree, one of them is unnecessary. So as business owners, with that in mind, what can we do to be our best?
Steve Wells: [00:14:02] All right. Jeffrey, which of the three of us are unnecessary in this call? Which of us is going to be injected from this podcast interview? I hope it's not me.
I'm thinking that your target population of listeners are people who necessarily have power in a sense. All the listeners, and even the three of us have to be ever more vigilant to know that people are so low, not only to have a last 8% conversation.
You know, to people on their level or below, but people do not give a last 8% conversation or feedback up in an organization. So, if you're a listener and you're in a position of relative power, you own a business, just know that you are susceptible to CEO's disease. CEO diseases says the higher we get up in an organization, the less candid feedback people will give to us.
And so we have got to out of our way to make sure that people will have this last 8% conversation, If people aren't telling you the truth, then why are they there? I mean, this is one of the biggest things that I see in organizations today.
I'm so worried about what's happening even in government, where there are so many people who I fear are kind of not speaking the truth because whatever consequences. We're not adaptive. We don't make good decisions if we don't have all the information.
And so absolutely people become unnecessary. You've got to go out of your way and you want to signal to your people. Look, I want your feedback. Be explicit and say, look, there's something called CEO's disease.
I'm going to get less feedback than anyone in this organization. I need your feedback. And you've got to create safety, psychological safety, or else people sitting there, if I tell him or her the truth, there might be a consequence to me, to my pay, to my ability to provide for my family.
And so you, as a leader have to go out of your way, create that psychological safety. I'll tell you the best way to do that is to be vulnerable. Talk about stuff. You're not sure of, you don't know what's going on with COVID-19 or coronavirus right now.
You're being a bit worried because you can't quite read what's going on in the marketplace. And as soon as you show a bit of vulnerability, that allows everyone else to kind of step in and, and feel a bit safer.
So many of listeners are businesses, but they're going to be positioning themselves to exit, to sell their company in some way. And so, through that process, a hundred percent of them are going to have a lot of pressure. They're going to have to negotiate. They're going to have to think about their employees.
So, this pressure bomb is going to be coming up. So, what could they do, knowing that they're going to be stepping into that pressure bomb?
JP Pawliw-Fry: [00:16:48] That's a great question. So, I'll say this, understand your habits. So, we talked about structure, I'm going to provide a habit that can be really, really effective. Here's a really concrete example. Many of us wake up. And we pick up our phone and we look at our newsfeed and we look at emails or texts.
And if we run a business, that's more global than we'll have texts that have come in or emails that have come in. And either way we look at newsfeeds, et cetera. And in that moment that spikes our cortisol, cortisol is a stress hormone. Cortisol is not a bad thing. In fact, it's highest in the morning to get us going.
But we don't need to spike our cortisol. This is not a great habit. This, this can set the tone for the day where we're on edge. The rest of the day. We will not be at our best at 3:00 PM. When we have to make a big decision, we have to decide in that negotiation, is that the right, offer? Is that the right way to take care of our folks, you know, in the transition and the myriad other decisions as you guys know better than I do.
And so, no. Don't pick up your phone. Here's a great tool that we've used with athletes and individuals and organizations, whether it be Goldman Sachs, U S army Navy, FBI, all these different groups, is get up in the morning and have a very prescribed morning routine. And I'm imagining people on this call actually have that, but if you don't figure out a morning routine that works for you.
it should include some movement. It should include some reflection. It should include a little bit quieter because you know, it's almost like that first hour of the day and the last hour a day, make that yours. Because if we don't, especially because of the pressure, as you say, everyone's going to be feeling, we won't be at our best we're in some ways we're paid certainly around an exit to make very few but very crucial decisions. We need to be at our best during those decisions. So, I'll offer a very concrete way that if people don't have a habit in the morning, this is a great habit. And this is something again we've done with athletes and coaches. A lot of the work I do is with coaches, coaching coaches.
We have a podcast called The Last 8% morning. And this is a tool that we developed over the last 24 years that we just started to make available to the public it's free. Here's what it is. It's a 15-minute morning routine.
It's not long. You get up and you'd go for a walk literally. And it integrates three things movement in the form of going for a walk. Some people do a rowing machine or a cycling or whatever they do, but just movement. So, we integrate three things, movement mindfulness and mental training exercises, all the stuff that we have talked about here, but there's right now, I think we have 30 sessions up.
So, there's a ton of really great content that people can learn from. So, in a sense, you get up, you go for a walk and it helps you, you know, kind of focus for the day. It helps you build the skills to manage emotions. So, in those difficult, last 8% moments you can be at your best.
Don't pick up your phone, find a morning routine. It doesn't have to be last 8% morning, but this is what we've designed over years. We're now making available. It's free. It's kind of crazy not to at least try that. But try something that would be, that would be probably an easy one, Stephen, that I'd say, you know, you can do, anyone can do tomorrow.
And it's 50 minutes who can't wake up 15 minutes early to take care of their brain. Cause it's really about managing our brain. That's what it's all about.
Jeffrey Feldberg: [00:20:11] JP, let's talk about something that you've mentioned before in the past, and whether it's on the playing field or in the boardroom, in a situation sometimes it's difficult or we'll not understand or confuse the difference between pressure and distress.
JP Pawliw-Fry: [00:20:31] Right. Right.
Jeffrey Feldberg: [00:20:32] So what does that mean for us as business owners? What would you prescribe?
JP Pawliw-Fry: [00:20:37] Yeah, so, gosh, I have to be careful not to get too academic in this answer because I mean, there's a whole academic difference, but I'll say this, think of it this way. Stress and pressure are the same.
Think of it as the same, really, because it feels the same in our body. it appears the same in a lot of different ways, but there's a very big difference. Stress becomes pressure. It trips over, crosses of line, a tipping point when whatever action we're going to take, whatever decision we're going to make action, we're going to take, will have a material consequence to us around survival or around our success. And what I mean by that is we can feel a lot of stress, but how we deal with that stress may not have a material consequence to us. You know, I'll give you an example. I got 10 things to do today. One is to get my dry cleaning. I'm feeling pressure.
Because I've got to go and get that before I do this before you, and that can feel stressful, but if I don't get it today, it may not be the end of the world. Or if I'm late, it may not be the end of the world might not be a material consequence.
But stress becomes pressure when the decisions I make, actually has a material consequence and in the book Performing Under Pressure, I talk about a US Naval pilot who, ran out of gas. and I interviewed him for this and, you know, he had hit a certain amount of time, a finite amount of time where he had to make a decision about how to land. So his decisions in that moment versus how he was dealing with his mother-in-law at the time, that was the actually examples that we were using.
So, if he didn't do great with his mother-in-law, it might have a big consequence, but it probably wouldn't have the same consequences if he couldn't get the chopper down. We don't face having to put down a plane that's losing fuel and you know, has its, landing gear damage.
Like we may not face that, but, but we do of situations that have more consequence. So, my, my challenge to everyone listening around stress versus pressures, is this take a look, is it truly pressure or is it stress? We can respond to a stressful moment as if it's pressure, use up all of our resources.
And now when we face that true pressure moment, we don't have all of our resources at the ready to make that decision. And so that would be the difference. So, stress, we all have it. And, and it's important that we manage it. But the truth is, is that when it crosses over where the decisions, we make have a material consequence, that's what we need to kind of be a bit more on our game.
So, don't react to stress as if it's pressure is what I would say.
Steve Wells: [00:23:20] You know, I can identify with that because I, I re I can remember. The times in my life where the pressure just wore me down. And I don't think I was making very good decisions. Then there's times where I've had situations that, required me or a company to go different ways.
So how can you be more creative in those situations?
JP Pawliw-Fry: [00:23:41] Yeah, that’s a great question. I'll say this. We talked about Michael Jordan and Reggie Jackson. when we look in to a precious situation at work, there's a couple of traps. So, I'm going to talk about some traps that I'm going to circle back to your question. Stephen, the traps are as follows when we're under pressure and we're on a team and it actually fits with already what we've talked about.
But if you're on a team, most people under pressure as pressure rises, most people defer, to status as opposed to expertise. So, if there's five people on a team, most people on that team will defer to the high-status member on that team versus the high expertise member. So that has some huge consequences, right?
Like we don't want the surgeon who has high status, but as you know, kind of old and yes, he has status. But the young guy who is, you know, has done the recent research or recent cutting-edge techniques, we want that person, that lady or that man to be the doctor who makes the decision. So that's number one, we've got to look out for that trap.
Number two is when we're under time pressure, our creativity actually goes down. Which is interesting.
There's a lot of activity, and sometimes we can confuse that a lot of activity with high value work. It's low quality work, but it's high activity and we confuse those two.
If we need to be creative, try to create some deadlines that in two weeks we have to have this done. Oftentimes we've got so many competing priorities, it's only in the last couple of days that we really start to look at that.
Not everyone, but, but a lot of people do that. Whereas if we can manage and say, we need in that two-week time period, five discreet timelines, deadlines that at day three at day five at day eight, whatever it is. And we have to have deliverables. What happens is that we run up against that deadline and we may or may not be creative, but we get a lot of it done.
And what's interesting is that after the deadline, once the pressure goes down. We see it differently. We actually have more creativity after the deadline then during. By the way, I've seen that myself. I do a lot of keynote speaking.
The number of times where, I'm going to the airport after a speech. I'm like, Oh, why didn't I say this? And why didn't I say it it's because in the moment, you know, I felt a bit of pressure. Maybe I wasn't managing my brain as well, but it's right after, or the day after that, we actually have some insight that we otherwise would have missed.
So, if we break it up and we wait for that insight to come after the fact. That actually helps us, by the way, it's akin to, if we want to use our gut to make a decision. So, this is actually a really important hack for everyone who's listening. You've got some big decisions know around exiting and decisions.
Okay. Make a decision 24 hours before the decision is made and truly make the decision. . Tell yourself that this is the time you're making a decision. Okay. Make it. And then wait to the next day because our gut feel doesn't come before. Gut feel doesn't come before.
It really doesn't. I mean, for those who are really good at being in their body being mindful. Yes, it does. But most of us are not that skilled. Our gut feel doesn't come before the decision it comes after. So, 24 hours after it's actually just overnight, doesn't every 24 hours, 12 hours later, you sit there and now your unconscious is sitting there going, does that decision feel right or wrong?
And it's just this gut feel now of no, that, no, that doesn't, that doesn't feel right. Okay. So, you know, you made a wrong decision, change the decision, whereas if it's like, yeah, you know what. There's still some uncertainty and, but it feels right. Great. You made the right decision. So that's how we can use our gut feel and its incredible brain and body to make better decisions.
And that's, that's all part of, again, this last 8% project that we're pretty excited about right now and helping people in these really difficult moments.
Jeffrey Feldberg: [00:27:35] JP, people may not know that you spent two years in a monastery in Asia
JP Pawliw-Fry: [00:27:42] How did you know that?
Jeffrey Feldberg: [00:27:44] I'm just curious what surprised you the most and what would be your biggest takeaway from that experience?
JP Pawliw-Fry: [00:27:50] Gosh, you're a pretty good interviewer there, Jeff, because that's not something that I have told many people in the past.
And just to be clear, it was part of two years, not a full two years. I spent a fair amount of time in different monasteries in Asia. And by the way, for a Roman Catholic boy, whose mom is still the president of the Catholic women's league. You know, she's like, what's going on?
What are you doing? And I have to say for someone who has ADHD, which I do, long undiagnosed, it was only when I was reading this book that I recognized it, but I think 30 years ago when you know, which is when I found myself in Asia, I quickly realized, wow, this is an incredible internal technology mindfulness.
That can be so helpful to me to help me focus. And I didn't realize it. I mean, that was a bit of an athlete, but when it came to school, I struggled, I had to work really hard to do well. And I was fighting against myself, fighting against my attention, I wasn't on the hyper side, but on the A side of the attention.
And so, I found myself in these monasteries and all of a sudden, I found this tool that could really help me focus. And all of a sudden, I could be more productive, more thoughtful, more patient, all of these things that we all want. Right. All of these things that help us be happier, more effective, more decisive, and it’s now a 31-year practice that has changed my life. I mean, it truly has. And so, I am a little bit more patient. I am a little bit, hopefully more thoughtful. And in a sense, it's almost like this last day present morning, right? We, we embed mindfulness into it and we do it in a walking way. A lot of people have trouble sitting and meditating.
They're like, ah, what am I doing? They, they're not sure if they're doing it right. But here's the point though that I want to make. Building mindfulness building this practice.
What happened for me 31 years ago and every day, not every day, do I meditate, but most days I do, is that it doesn't necessarily make us calmer. That's not the outcome we're looking for. It actually helps us be in a wiser relationship with the more challenging things that we're dealing with. We are all dealing with challenging things.
Everyone who's listening. And it's funny because people might look at everyone who are a listener on the show. Oh, you get to sell your businesses and that great. Your life must be great. Well, yeah, there's a lot of gratitude. I hope everyone feels for their lives, but I can tell you everyone listening is struggling and is suffering in some way.
And it's hard. I know that it's hard again, I've worked with a lot of famous people and they're struggling a lot. and so, this is a practice that helps us be in wiser relationship with those really challenging situations because, and here's the big payoff, the hard stuff that we face, the hard stuff that we face is an opportunity to transform ourselves.
We don't know that. And if we don't have this kind of mindfulness to see a bigger perspective, we don't get that. It's true. The tough stuff that we really grow. And that's the exciting part. That's why you want to go to an Olympics or NBA finals, or you want to go through the experience of selling your business, a lot of pressure and you'll feel it, but what you will learn from this experience.
Will gain, you will gain wisdom. So next time you're helping someone sell or you're coaching someone, or you've started another business and you're selling another business. You've got more wisdom to draw upon. So, we want to look at our last 8% as required to create the better version of ourselves that we can become.
And do you see how now all of a sudden, we want to approach these situations, not avoid it. So, there's a long winded answer, Jeff, but I appreciate you knowing that fact about me. That's pretty impressive.
Steve Wells: [00:31:28] It's interesting. this monastic experience you had, and you talked about mindfulness and leadership, I would imagine that would make you almost infectious with the people around you. What's the positive effect of that around you?
JP Pawliw-Fry: [00:31:42] Yeah. great question, Steven. we, we are infecting people with our emotion every moment. On this session right now, we each are infecting each other.
We are, and what's interesting, even we even know, in fact, I just did the podcast, two days ago on this, which is that emotions are. infectious that there's this thing called emotional contagion that, through interactions. But we even now know that through our social media, our friends and our friends' friends and our friends, friends, friends actually impact our emotions.
This is crazy, really interesting research right now, showing this. So, to bring it all the way back, if we can be a non-anxious presence. If we can sit here and be just a little less anxious as we would like to call it a non-anxious presence, we will infect people in a positive way and think about that for a team who's making some decisions on an exit, right? If you can be that as we call it the calm person in the boat. And infect people with this, this calm energy, and not even just calm, but just with this, this kind of. Non anxious energy. All of a sudden everyone is going to be able to think more effectively.
Everyone's going to feel less unsafe to offer an idea. On your team, do people feel psychologically safe to offer a potentially horrible idea? Because if people don't feel that safety, you're not going to get the best ideas on your team, in the decisions you need to make. And so, yeah, I'll tell you really quick story about that Steven in the 1970s and eighties there was a lot of folks from Vietnam who left because of what happened in the war and they left on boats and they went to find a better life. And as they left Vietnam and they went into the South China sea, it was, it was horrible. There were lots of storms and there are very few resources on the boats.
And these were crowded boats. And a lot of people died. A lot of people got sick, but there was a group of boats where fewer people got sick and no one died. And researchers were kind of curious what was the difference? And here's what they found on those boats, where nobody died, fewer people got sick. There was at least what they called it. One person who was the calm person in the boat who could take the ups and downs the vicissitudes and not be immediately reactive. But instead, be responsive, be non-anxious still be decisive by the way. And that infected everyone else on the boat. And so, everyone could use their resources more effectively.
They still had the same amount of storms, but they had fewer people get sick, nobody die. And to me, that's what we need to be for everyone in our organization, that calm person and about. So, I appreciate the question. It reminded me of that story which I love.
Jeffrey Feldberg: [00:34:20] So JP on a related note of mindfulness and business owners, starting a company and running a company is stressful.
Getting results can be stressful. Exiting your company for most business owners will probably be the biggest decision of their life and likely one of the most stressful events that they go through. So, if we circle back to something that you were talking about earlier and you call it mindful leadership. What is mindful leadership and how can a business owner take advantage of this for him or herself and the team that's in the company and around them?
Steve Wells: [00:34:58] Yeah. It's a skill, anyone who's listening, how many of us go to work out? I just came from a workout before this interview. how many of us work out? Well, I hope all of us work out. Why? Because we want to be healthy. We want to have energy physical energy during the day. And in a sense, what we do when we work out is we're building capital.
We're building capital that we can expand throughout the day. It's the same with mindfulness. It's like going to the gym for your brain. And the best part is that you don't have to rely on anyone to do this. You can do it yourself. You know, and there's a lot of great resources out there. I mean, I love The Last 8% Morning because it's walking mindfulness and for a lot of people that they find that easier than sitting mindfulness, but there's a lot of sitting mindfulness resources out there as well.
And so, I highly recommend people go find them. And here's the thing. You know, if you're a business owner, you're a leader and you're thinking, gosh, I'd love my team to have access to this. There's great training. I mean, that's actually what we do is we train in this. So, you know, our team can come in and train your folks on mindfulness and how to listen a little bit more effectively, how to be a little less reactive, how to build a better team.
You don't have to work with us. There's a lot of other resources. And I said this already, but I just want to reiterate almost because of what you said, Jeff, we are paid to make, very few but very big decisions. And if we can be managing ourselves. You know, Peter Drucker, who's a great, researcher and writer on management just before he died, said, you know, I'm teaching above all else to executives, how to manage themselves, that's it.
But we have all the IQ, all the technical skills. We know, I mean, we have it all. We have everything we need to be successful, but we need to manage ourselves, the operating system so that we can use all of that IQ and technical skills. And mindfulness is a big part of that.
You know, we've talked particularly during this Coronavirus with many business leaders that are in this crisis and they are going to have to change.
And it seems like to me, the ones that are going to be successful are looking at this as almost an opportunity.
Is there a way for us to walk into with positive emotions, pressure and look at these things as opportunities?
JP Pawliw-Fry: [00:37:09] Steven, that is such an important question and that is almost the key. If we can see our last 8% situations are difficult situations as something to walk towards.
We have to really buy that we should walk towards it cause not everyone really buys that, but that's where we have to do our self-awareness work is to really understand. And let me, let me step back and tell a little story, having been to a number of Olympic games. And now that some of the athletes that I've worked with are retired and such, we'll sometimes have, reunions and, you know, what's amazing.
And this is such a kind of clear finding, truthfully, it's anecdotal, but for the ones that I've worked with who are now retired, each one of them says, Oh my goodness. When I was at that Olympics. It was really stressful. It was really pressure filled, but I felt like I was really living.
I was really challenged. So, I had to form a response. I managed a lot of things. I worked so hard up to that point. I was proud of how hard I was working and they recognize now that's when they were in a sense, really living. And if there's one thing you don't want to do as an individual in life, Is do what some Olympic athletes have done, which is, and I've been part of this once leaving an Olympic games, feeling regret, like you didn't take your shots, That you somehow were tentative. And that's exactly what happens when we avoid, when we're not walking towards pressure is we think, Oh, this is, you know, somehow it's going to reflect poorly on me. we, we lose sight of what's really going on and that's why we have to do our work.
If we do our work, when we recognize this is an opportunity to be fully alive. This is an opportunity to really grow and learn. This is an opportunity that will mark our life in, in a positive way and, and, and take it less personal and less about how it's going to reflect on us, but just really dive into the challenge. In 20 years, we'll look back and go, wow, that was a really incredible experience selling my company.
And, and I'll tell you this, we're all going to die soon. You don't want to miss these moments. This is a moment of really living. And so that's what I would say is everyone on their, in their own way has to come to some terms that, wow, this is really living. This is something to, to, to, to, kind of. Be and welcome and, and encourage it and live into as opposed to something that's scary.
And that has some meaning about how we're viewed. Do we get enough money and all of that that's crap and that's complete crap. Let me tell you, instead of we walk towards and take it as a big challenge and how can we have our team go through this and learn a lot. It changes our experience of it.
And all of a sudden, we are, and here's the irony. We're actually better too. Right? Cause actually diminishes pressure. If we don't feel like we need to be perfect, which we talked about at the front end, if we feel like this is an opportunity to grow and really live, it's a completely different experience.
So that's what I was say by the way. That's why you want advisors like yourselves, but also on a team you want that wise veteran. Who's been there before. Who's not scared as many young athletes. It's the young athletes who've never been there before who get overwhelmed.
Charles Barkley just said the other night I heard it on The Last Dance. It was actually an interview about the last dance, but he said, the first game when they played the bowls and the finals. And I forget which year was, I think it was 97. No, it was probably 93. Cause that's when he won the MVP, but whatever it was, they lost horribly in the first game.
And he said, gosh, you know, I feel like I let my team down. Like they were all so young. With just the moment, overwhelmed them. Well, the moment will overwhelm us that overwhelm us at times. That's why we want that veteran in the room. That's why we want advisors. That's why we want to ask for help.
You know, as we're finishing, I'll say this to everyone, ask for help. Don't buy into this myth that you can do this alone. You can't do this alone. You can't. Ask for help get help, talk to people, about how you're feeling. Because as soon as we express our emotions, it loses a lot of its power over us.
And this is especially to the men who are listening because we are so good at locking it up, pretending on the outside world. Great. We're not all great. Sorry. I've just been around the corner too many times with too many athletes, too many coaches, too many executives, too many people during the global financial crisis, we will underperform if we hold it all in.
So, walk towards it and get help.
Jeffrey Feldberg: [00:41:44] Terrific advice, JP. And as we begin to wrap this up, I have a question for you that we like to ask every guest on the podcast. And by the way, everything that you've shared with our listeners, we will put in the show notes for them. So all the links and the references they can follow up afterwards.
But here's the question for you from everything that you've learned, if you could only apply one strategy. What would it be?
JP Pawliw-Fry: [00:42:13] Wow. Gosh, it almost depends on the outcome that I would seek. If it's about my happiness, I would give you one answer. If it was about performance, I might give you a different answer.
Jeffrey Feldberg: [00:42:26] Let's do both
JP Pawliw-Fry: [00:42:26] This is going to sound, whatever it sounds, forget everything you've learned about happiness. Literally. How wealthy we are, what we get on our exit. It's not where we live. It's not a hundred things. It is one thing.
We know this from great research out of Harvard. It is our relationships, nothing else counts. And I can tell you, you guys have seen this probably too, where I've seen people who have come into a lot of money, but for whatever reason, didn't manage their relationships. Well, and they are miserable. It means nothing.
it's not even how much we exercise. It's not what we eat. I could give you all, you know, give me a hundred variables. The one that will drive our happiness more than anything is our relationships. So, work on your relationships, make that the priority, the number one priority one, our relationships.
That's what I would say on the, happiness side, on the performance side, gosh, one thing.
I don't like to wish people good luck. Because I don't believe in luck. I've seen too much data. I don't believe in luck. I believe really in two things.
So, it's kind of two things I'm going to tell you. Number one, preparation prepare, prepare, prepare just like the Olympic athlete does prepare, prepare yourself. Get up in the morning, do The Last 8% Morning Podcast or whatever morning routine practice mindfulness. Actually, I do all, all what you need.
You work with others. So that they can support you, but prepare, prepare, prepare, so not good luck, but good preparation. And then when you're in that moment where you have to make a decision, good courage, right back yourself, believe in yourself. And have courage to make that difficult decision to sell, to not sell, to, you know, figure out what's the best way that's going to really lead to best outcomes on relationships too, by the way.
Not, not just with people, you're selling it to, although that could be part of it, but the people who are on your team or your family. Not good luck. I don't like to wish people, but good preparation and good courage, which are all things we have control over.
Jeffrey Feldberg: [00:44:30] JP, some wise words, thank you so much. You've been absolutely wonderful. And I know our listeners and our community are the better for it. So, thank you so much.
JP Pawliw-Fry: [00:44:40] My pleasure, my pleasure. Great to hang with you guys today. And, you know, I'll encourage any listeners. Feel free to link up with me on LinkedIn.
I accept most of the LinkedIn requests and great being here with everyone.
Jeffrey Feldberg: [00:44:52] Thank you stay healthy and safe.
JP Pawliw-Fry: [00:44:53] Alright, thanks so much guys.