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Cory & Rich Explore The Habits of High Performance

Join Rich and Cory as they explore 5 ways to enable high performance in your personal and professional life.

Hi everyone. Welcome to this conversation with Rich Fernandez. My name's Cory Muscara, and you may have seen me in the Mindfulness.com app where I serve as one of your daily guides. I'm thrilled to be hosting this conversation with Rich about his new content that's going to be coming into the Mindfulness.com app and his new course specifically titled The Habits of High Performance. And what I really appreciate about Rich and what I think you're going to see here in this conversation is that he holds this great blend of depth and reverence for the practices of mindfulness, meditation, the, what we could call, the wisdom traditions with the very practical side of things of being in the world and wanting to do things well and having a sense of purpose and being a high performer, which doesn't need to be exclusive to, you know, being a CEO of an organization or in a business context.

We all have our various domains of life that we're looking to perform well in and get better at. And I think sometimes, you know, as we get into the work of mindfulness, meditation, there's this emphasis or can seem like there's this emphasis on slowing down and being attuned and taking rest. And all of that is important, but it can feel like, you know, how does this integrate with being in the world and getting things done and, and growing? Now, those are not, those things are not antithetical, but we need, sometimes, voices that help show us how, what that bridge is, how they integrate. And that's what Rich does exceptionally well. I first met Rich through through my work through the Search Inside Yourself program, where he serves as the CEO now.

And was just very impressed by him in the very beginning. He's very clear, very articulate and articulate and charismatic. You, you really get to feel who Rich is, what you're going to get to see in this conversation in a bit. So I think these ideas can have a very big impact on your life, specifically around bridging how this work has perhaps touched your heart in mindfulness meditation, where you've found that it nurtures you on the deepest level or inspired by that, and then how that can move into your life in a very practical way. So excited for you to have a listen.

Let's get started now with Rich Fernandez. All right, Rich. Great to be here with you. As we introduce you to the Mindfulness.com family, can you just share a bit about your personal journey? How you came to the habits of high-performance? Did it come out of extensive work with leaders at Google, eBay? You know, what, what's some of the background that's brought you here? Yeah. Thank you, Cory.

It's great to be here. Hello everybody. So this journey around, and my interest really, around high-performance started really in, from the early part of my adult life. I got really interested in mindfulness and meditation, both on the kind of mental and emotional side of simply, you know, being able to be grounded and have the sense of clarity and purpose and direction when I was a young adult. And that also went into some of the sort of physical activities I was doing - martial arts and sports.

And all of it kind of required me to think about, you know, what made me be my best. And I pursued that interest in graduate school. I went to get a graduate degree in psychology. I got my PhD there. And what was interesting at that point was that I realized within the study of human behavior and psychology, you could study sort of clinical aspects of disease states, or you could actually study states where people are working on potentiating what they already possess in terms of their core strengths and attributes.

And that's the branch of psychology that I really got into. It was positive psychology, cognitive psychology, leadership development, and organization development. And so that was my formal study. And then, yeah, I spent the better part of two decades after graduate school working in high-performance environments in business contexts. The first 10 years in financial services at JP Morgan Chase and Bank of America.

And then the next 10 years in technology at eBay and then Google. And so all of these were high performance environments. And all of them had leaders and employees who were really focused on like what it took to sort of optimize their performance in the face of complexity, in the face of the need to kind of innovate rapidly and scale those innovations. So this was a perpetual question in those types of cultures, organizational cultures, and for those leaders. And for me, it was also a personal question because I was part of those those, organizations.

And I myself wanted to figure out how to navigate the complexity and, you know, cultivate those qualities of mental clarity, emotional balance and creativity. Because I had a long standing mindfulness practice, I knew that was one of the foundations. And I came to study the neuroscience behind it and realized there are ways that you can actually rewire your brain. You can draw on certain kinds of mindfulness practice to help prime, you know, your kind of mind and body for, for high-performance, and kind of dove deep there. And that's really kind of the foundation of how I got into this.

Wow. You know, I've noticed, I spent a lot of time in the positive psychology space as well that there, there is something that people really respond well to when you start talking about, you know, what is innately good in you? What are your particular strengths? And how can we nurture that or double down on that rather than constantly eradicating our weaknesses? Would, would you say that the, the prevailing narrative tends to be more of, as you were saying, like this disease focused or what goes wrong? And, and how, how would you say you balance, right, the making space for what's uncomfortable or painful, that side of life with potentiating and, and really nurturing the good? Is, is there a balance there, in your opinion, or can we just focus on one, the good side? Yeah, there's definitely a balance because, you know, I think first it's important to note that we do have a tendency to focus on the negative. As humans, that is how we are wired from an evolutionary biology perspective. Right? In order to survive as humans in the environments in which we were early humans, the forests and jungles where we lived, to survive the bears and the tigers there, we had to be on constant alert. The moment we set foot outside our cave or our hut, we had to be on alert.

And we had to perceive the world in terms of threat. So that's hardwired into us. What we have to do is develop kind of the skills to know when that's in play in the contemporary context and to counteract that. Now that's not to say that we always need to focus on rainbows and unicorns as opposed to bears and tigers, right? Because challenging stuff happens all the time. So that's the kind of balance point, perhaps you're referring it to Cory, right? Which is that it's also important to acknowledge the difficult emotions and feelings we may be having and to be in relationship with them.

But to be in wise relationship with them, not to over index on them and not to give too much weight to what we call the negativity bias, this tendency of the brain to focus on, on the bad and have it prevail. But to sort of be appropriately measured in the way that we meet and work with difficulties as they arise, because they will arise. They always arise for every single one of us. Then the other part of the practice is to be able to cultivate the habits that allow us to look at the other side of it, which is instead of asking what went wrong today again, ask, you know, what, what went well. What's the best thing that could possibly happen.

And we're often under indexed in that area. In other words, we don't pay enough attention to that sort of positive skew because we're not habituated to do it and we're not wired to do it. And so what's really important are developing habits and practices that enable this kind of different view, view that's a little bit more focused on possibility all the way through to abundance. But not over index on that as well. Right? So that we're not like only, only ever wanting to live in that space and not acknowledge reality as it is.

But also not over-indexing on, on like how bad a bad can be. So I think it's that balance point that I tried to get across in, in this course of The Habits of High Performance. Yeah, great. I, and I do think that's one of your unique contributions to Mindfulness.com, but also to the larger field of mindfulness around this conversation of high, high performance. I think sometimes we, there can be an emphasis on navigating suffering and stress and holding space for it, which is fundamental, which you acknowledge in a really deep way.

And we can also lose sight of like, it's a deep practice to also orient toward what is good, and even hold the resonance in your body of pleasure and joy. Sometimes that can be harder then the resonance of pain and discomfort, especially if that's what we're most used to. So this, it feels exciting. I think that's the main word that comes up for me. And, you know, we have, we have five core ideas from your course that I'd love to give people a preview on.

And the first is around figuring out what's your, what's your why. Could you speak to to the importance of that and anything that feels relevant for folks? Yeah, I mean, and I say this in the course, you know, for me, understanding the value of meaning and purpose in your life is really critical, from my perspective. Though it is also true that it can take a lifetime to kind of get clarity on those, on those kinds of, on those aspects of living, mean, being meaning and purpose. What's your why, in other words. What I try to do in the course is offer some approaches and tools to help you answer that question.

Because it's my core understanding and belief, and this is also from my personal experience, that each one of us knows what it is that makes us feel alive. Right? Most of us can find that within our experience. It may take some, some, some reflection and inquiry. For others, maybe it's immediately apparent, what helps you feel alive. And then the hard work is then to align your life with these qualities, these things that make you feel alive and that, and then putting it into action.

So knowing what's, makes you alive, knowing your why and then aligning your behaviors and actions with that is the core challenge, I think of our lifetimes. And I'm speaking from experience. Look, I worked in corporate for 20 years. And at some point there was a decision for me that I did not feel aligned, that I wasn't sort of doing what made me most feel alive, which is to work as my primary area of focus on things like mindfulness and wellbeing. And so I had to leave that corporate career.

It wasn't an easy decision to leave my job at Google to start a company in mindfulness and wellness. But it was essential because it made me feel most alive. So what I endeavor to do in this course, this first part of what's your why, is to really help you go through that process of inquiry into what makes you feel most alive and how you might skillfully align your values, your behaviors, your actions in the world with that. Wow. Yeah.

And it's brilliant everyone. I, I, and this is where I think there's a really powerful offering here because you hear about things like purpose and finding your why, what's true for you, what's your passion, all the different flavors of that. But it's another thing to actually guide someone into that process. And so, you know, for anyone listening right now, if you're hearing this and feeling like, yeah, that's a question I'm wrestling with. How do I do it? That, that will be here and you can have Rich's guidance as you slowly deepen into that, that understanding.

You know, there, I really like the framing of it as or the alignment of my purpose with what is most alive in me. I think that particular question, when it comes to some sort of internal compass for how we would figure out what am I supposed to do? What is my karma in this lifetime? There's so much data that we're taking in on a moment to moment basis, and it can be incredibly hard to parse, like, what is wisdom? What is conditioning? What's my trauma? What's authentic? Would you, would you make the argument that the feeling of a liveliness can be trusted as a form of, of inter, an internal compass to that end? Absolutely. Right. And so I think, you know, what it is that brings you alive is unique to you. And it's also like of the most kind of essential part that is you.

Only you can really know that. And sometimes it's, as you said, Cory, you know, maybe at times it can be obscured or not clear. I think sometimes that's because it just needs a little time to emerge, but I think more often it's because we have all these other messages, all this other layering that we're tuning to, right, that, that are kind of, that's kind of canned conventional wisdom that we should be so-and-so and such and such, or this is what it means to be successful and satisfied and happy. I mean, in like developed societies, for example, money, status and power are typical ones that are seen as when you achieve that, you're happy. The secret and the research suggests that in fact, happiness precedes success.

And so knowing like ways to feel alive in your work and in your life and really having clarity on that is trustworthy. It is kind of like the foundation from which to build success and, but let's leave success aside. Let's just call it high-performance. To do well, it's useful to know what makes you happy and what makes you alive. And if I could give an example, like I learned very early on, I was not going to be a computer programmer or a statistician, or, you know a trader or any of that, stuff like that because I found out my quantitative skills weren't quite the same as my skills around connecting with people, around teaching, around language, around writing.

And also those are the same skills that made me feel most alive. Whereas when I was doing some of the other things, cutting spreadsheets, running statistical models, it was a grind. And so I didn't at the first want accept that, right? Cause here I am this PhD student at Columbia and I should be able to do that other stuff. But it was not intuitive. It was not easy.

It did not make me feel alive. So I came to accept that and I indexed more and I kind of paid more attention then to the other pieces, which made me super happy. And like, I'm a person who liked for the past, at least 10, 15 years, loved, has loved his work because it has been in this area that has made me feel most alive. Oh, wow. Oh, that's great.

Yeah. So if, if this is resonant for folks similar to how it's resonant for me, Rich, we'll go into that in more detail. And so this is just the first one of a number, a handful. So the next the next idea we have here is cultivating focus and limiting distraction. It almost feels like there's not much more than needs to be said than that, but putting that into, into process and action is a whole other thing.

So please share more how this relates. Yeah. So really here is where I like to look at the neuroscience, Cory because you know, our brains are, again, wired, not only for a negativity bias, but also for mind wandering. In fact, mind wandering, kind of a state where we're just a bit distracted, a bit kind of open in our awareness, we're not focused. We're not like doing, what's called, task positive behaviors.

That's our natural state. And there's nothing wrong with that, by the way. It's really important to be able to kind of scan and daydream and so forth. It's really valuable for example, in the creative process. Right? So I'm not saying that that's not something that we shouldn't value as well.

But what I am saying is that it's our default mode, if our tendency to have our minds wandered. And this is born by the research, which suggests that up to 50% of the time, our mind's actually not focused on what we're actually doing, that it's actually wandering. And so add to that the fact that technology is, by the way it's built, at least the contemporary forms that we're using, tends to add to that default state of distraction, because it pulls our attention. It constantly pulls our attention. And so more than ever, we need ways to build the skills of focus and have mental clarity.

And the good news is, again from the neuroscience, is that there are ways to do that because what we know is that there are certain other neural mechanisms or networks in our brain that are responsible for focus and for attention and for accurate perception, for example, And that you can train those parts of your brain through things like certain types of mindfulness practice, attention training practices, and so forth. So the research shows that when you actually start to do those types of practices, it's like anything, the more you do it, the stronger those parts of your body become. So the stronger the neural network signals become there, between those networks that are responsible for focus and attention, and you can even grow the gray matter, the tissue that's responsible for those functions. It's very much like going to the gym and maybe lifting weights and building your muscles. Except you're not building muscles, you're building neural tissue.

And so the neuroscience research is highly suggestive that this is all possible through a specific set of mental training habits. And those are some of the habits that I offer in the course. Things like focused attention, open awareness training, you know, perceptual training. so And so, and all of those take the form of different types of reflection, meditation or mindfulness practice. Great.

Yeah. I like, I like the analogy of the gym and, you know, viewing this as a fitness level that we're, we're developing a mental fitness level. I think sometimes when people hear of these practices, they get an idea of it's like, okay, just focus, focus more, be in the present moment. I can do that. But it's one thing for that to be an idea that you try to implement in a moment and it's another thing to intentionally train the brain so that, that becomes more of the default way of responding.

And you know, if somebody is listening to this and maybe saying, you know, I've, I have ADD or I've ADHD, like I, it's always been hard for me to focus. Does this feel relevant to someone where there's like, it's just always been a hard thing for them? Yeah, because there's not a single way to train attention. There's many different ways you can go about doing this. You can do it through a dedicated practice that's like single point focused. You could also do it through a different practice that's more focused on sensations that are shifting on a constant basis and just sort of tracking those that can be more useful for folks who have more difficulty with the single pointed attention.

And then there's also micro practices. So the idea here is that you can do these in 30 seconds in the course of your, in the flow of your day, so that they're not like you don't have to like overdo anything, but you can get started on them and they can have beneficial effects. Yeah. Great, great, great. I, that's another reason why the format of what you've offered here, I think, is relevant to everyone depending on where, where they're starting, and to slowly scaffold or build a scaffold to, to these higher states.

Great. Okay. So you mentioned the word the flow of your day, which is a nice segue into the next idea, the flow state of being at an optimal experience. This is this is one of those sexy words that I think can often be misunderstood. So we'd love for you to just share more about this one.

Yeah, well, this is not original, not an original idea from me. This is from a positive psychologist named Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, who studied hundreds of thousands of high performers and found that they described the flow state of optimal experience and performance. And so he wanted to really analyze what is behind that. And it kind of comes down to that perfect blend of challenge and ability. In other words, at what point is the challenge that you're confronting well-matched to the ability that you possess.

And when the challenge and the ability are matched, then you're in this flow state, then you're kind of performing optimally. The good news, however, is that you can either, you can up your ability level to if you're feeling a little bit over-matched by a challenge by kind of dialing down the challenge as you grow your ability level. And so there's a way you can actually work on cultivating a state of flow by first cultivating a state of awareness of like how are you kind of meeting a challenge with a set of abilities that you're bringing. It does take, take some reflection and it does take some sort of habit building to kind of like increase your capacity to meet the challenge, increase your ability to meet the challenge through habitual practice, specific habitual practices. The best analogy I can offer is kind of a sports analogy.

If you're not really good at serving in tennis, then you practice the throw or the swing or whatever it might be. I'm a basketball player. If you're not good at free-throws, you'll work on your shooting mechanics. If you're a swimmer and you're not efficiently stroking, then you work on how you stroke and pull the water. And so there are just like that in the sports metaphor in the kind of cognitive metaphor.

There's ways that you can recalibrate the way that you're approaching certain challenges that can gradually, you used the word, Cory, scaffolding, that can scaffold your ability level to the point where it becomes habituated and then you've kind of rose into a new challenge and you're in a flow state of optimal performance. Wow. And what's cool about the flow channel, which I've always been compelled by is that, there, there seems to be a relationship between the depth of flow you can access and the, the level of the challenge that you're working at and the ability required to meet that challenge. So like for those listening, maybe thinking about like a Y and the X axes, if there's the, the level of the challenge on the Y axis and your ability on the X axis, the flow channel would be going up this way. So that you're actually going to deeper and deeper states of flow as the challenge is increasing and as your ability is increasing the meet those challenges.

So like a world-class pianists or world-class athlete, or even, and this I'd love to get your thoughts on, a meditator who has really refined their capacity to pay attention on a very granular level to all the flow of experience, would experience more flow. Is that fair to say? That's fair to say. Absolutely. And that's why at times, you know, when you meditate for sustained periods, like on an extended retreat, or you do it habitually over an amount of time, there is a quality of timelessness to it, right? You could be like, you know, I mean, it's happened to me a few times. I can't believe the meditation is over and it felt really short, but it was actually in, in.

At other times, if I hadn't been meditating as consistently, that would have felt like a long period of time. But like if like, so I typically will go on an extended retreat once a year, right, of anywhere from three to 10 days. Usually both, actually. I try to do both of those, the three-day and a 10 day. And there's a certain point where it's like, wow, that session went really quickly.

And at the start of this retreat, it was going on forever. I couldn't believe, I couldn't wait till I was getting up and now this kind of happens so quickly because I'd like to think that that is a different flow state. You know, and I think there's evidence to show that when we become habituated or raise our ability to a certain level and the challenge is also great and our ability level has matched that at that higher level, there's kind of this deeper experience of sustained flow. Cool. This is a great one.

So if this is resonating for anyone listening right now, Rich will go into more detail on this and in the app. Especially if you are feeling like, yeah, I could use more. We've all experienced flow at different points in our lives. And I think what the special offering here is a way to, well, we could say hack that process to have more of it in our life. So going into idea number four, and I don't know, anyone listening, I already feel like there's, there's so much here to chew on.

But we, we still got two more and then micro-practices. The, the energy for sustainable high performance. This one, I really want to get your thoughts on, because I think a lot of us have ideas of what it would look like to be a high performing person. But that requires a lot. And what's the well that we're drawing from? Yeah.

So I think the key thing is, I really tried to break this one down, like to a daily, like to a daily level, where we can think about energy in terms of our average day. Because there's that expression, it's not about managing your time, it's about managing your energy. You may be one of these people or know these people who seem to get so much done. You can't believe how much they get done. And there's some of those people who seem to do it somewhat effortlessly.

And, you know, my understanding of that when I talk to these types of folks, and I knew a lot of them at Google or like at Bank of America or other places, eBay, it's that they really found a way to manage their energy very effectively. And that typically meant having some sort of routine. And some of them were more, were much more disciplined about the routine and some were just kind of used it as a loose framework. So for example, a routine around energy flows. Energy flows during the day.

There's something, you've probably heard of a circadian rhythms, right, which are rhythms that we go through kind of over periods of time. It could be a week, or it could be a month. But there's also intradian rhythms, which are the intra-day rhythms. In the course of the day, our metabolism works at different levels and is doing different tasks, for example. So, probably not a surprise to you, like after lunch, we're metabolizing a meal.

Like immediately after lunch, we're not usually our sharpest. And there's a reason for that. The bloods in our stomach, like blood sugars are kind of in flux because of what we ate. So knowing these types of things, knowing your kind of rhythm, the rhythm and routines of your day, and being intentional about them can really help you work with the energetic qualities that are present throughout your day, okay. If you're a night person, for example, some people for whatever reason have more energy at night.

So how can they think about prioritizing the tasks that require most of their creative or cognitive work at night, if you're a night person. I am exactly the opposite. All my most important work needs to happen before noon. Yeah. Me too.

Right? And even before that, I've sort of set up my day in some ways because, I mean, I literally wake up and the first thing I do as I've habituated myself to doing a mindfulness meditation practice, most days, most days. And have very sort of simple, clear routine around that, which is get up and go to the bathroom, wash my face, brush my teeth, and then I do my meditation and mindfulness practice. I reward myself with some coffee after it and then I'm into my day. Right? So that helps me manage my energy. And again, between, now I wake up really early.

That's the other thing. I go to bed really early and I wake up early. So let's say by seven o'clock in the morning, I'm ready for my most productive time of the day. Between, happens between seven and eight or, and let's say about 11 or 12. And then there's the ancillary tasks, some routine emails I have to do, some errands or house related stuff or child-related stuff I have to do that much more happens in the afternoon.

So much so, that I've scheduled myself to pick up my kid at three o'clock from, from school every day because I'm really not productive at three o'clock in the afternoon. Very few good things will happen at three o'clock in the afternoon. So I might as well just, you know, go do my, kind of the domestic piece of being a parent. That's not to say I'm not present with my child when I'm there and I'm grumpy. I'm just not up to the cognitive task of making really complex decisions and so forth that work requires.

I'm much more ready to hang out with my kid from three to five and which is what I would do everyday. Yeah. So it sounds like even someone just looking at their existing schedule and dragging and dropping to-dos at different times throughout the day could be a very simple way, it might be some complication to it, but one way that you can actually manage your energy without even necessarily changing any, anything else. I mean, you could optimize food and sleep and all of these other things, but even just looking at, oh, when do I do my meetings versus when do I want to do my writing or creative work? And what are our existing, you call them in, intradian Intradian rhythms, intradian like intra day. Intradian.

Yeah. That's the technical term for them, right? I love that. Yeah. Yeah, this is great, Rich. Yeah, they're cyclical.

Like circadian rhythms are cyclical over a course of a week or a month, but intradians are cyclical within the course of a day. And so being really aware of those, managing to those, developing the rhythms and routines that track those are really useful. And this is a little bit what I cover in the course. Wonderful. Great.

Well, that brings us to our final, final idea, maintaining a success-oriented mindset. How the heck do we do that? Yeah, well, it's, it's all about the kind of the mindset. Again, these are not original ideas. They also come out of the field of positive psychology. Carol Dweck at Stanford talks about a growth mindset, or a learning mindset is the other thing you might've heard about it as.

So this is the idea that whenever we, whatever challenge we meet, and especially when we fail at things, we see, we find a way to use that as an opportunity to learn what we can do differently. Because the other choice is what's called a fixed mindset, where success and failure is just a fixed thing. And either you're good because you succeeded or you're bad because you didn't succeed. And this is again, a natural, somewhat natural default state we have, right? Like we think that failure is bad across the board, period. And of course you want to succeed at things.

But failure is a core part of lived experience. It's not an outlier. It's a core part of lived experience. And so what the growth mindset allows you to do is to understand failure and to understand how you can learn from it. But it really takes practice.

It really takes being able to disrupt one's own self around the narratives that naturally come and float into our minds about what failure means. Because again, we're all to ready to kind of beat ourselves up and enable the inner critic, as one of our common friends and Mindfulness.com teacher says, Mark Coleman. Right? We have this fierce inner critic, right, that's very much present with us all the time. It has a little to do with what I mentioned previously, which is this negativity bias that we have, this evolutionary hardwiring that's within our brains that suggests that things are bad. Just expect things to be bad because that's how you're going to survive.

Well, I failed. So I'm bad. That's the narrative that we can easily slip into and that's the fixed mindset. I didn't succeed, so I'm no good. Whereas a growth mindset, again, tries to look for ways to learn.

I mentioned I'll, I'll speak more personally about this. You know, I mentioned I left my corporate career. At some point, it wasn't feeling very alive to me and I wasn't feeling like I could give it what it needed. I wasn't quite succeeding the way I would've wanted to succeed at it and show up the way I want to show up. And there was a part of me that was like, wow, am I failing at this? But what for me it was, was a learning opportunity to go, well, no, it's suggesting to me that there's something else I need to be doing.

What is that other thing? And for me, that was to step away after nearly 20 years to move into more of an entrepreneurial space and start my own company, which is still running today, it's called Wisdom Labs. And eventually after a number of years of doing that to come here to Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute and lead this, you know, global educational institute. And I love my work now and I have for the past decade at least. I loved my work before, but maybe not as much. But now I really love it, but I had to learn that like, look this is a learning moment, is the way to think about a growth mindset.

It perhaps is calling you to do something different, to learn something new, to find different ways, whenever that challenge or even failure arises. And that's really what I address in this course, and also try to offer some useful mental habits that you can use to as reflection and inquiry practices into your own mindset. Great. I really liked that framing of growth mindset as a learning mind or learning moments. Especially the moment piece, because even in the story you shared, there was an experience, and then the moment that proceeded it really conditioned what was going to happen next and how you would relate about, relate to it and think about it.

And I think there are lots of those moments that are happening throughout the day where something goes wrong and we have all of this conditioning and baggage around it going wrong that if we were to just very simply stop, take a breath and then maybe ask ourselves a different question of what's wrong instead of what's wrong with me. Maybe even asking like, okay, What can I learn from this? Or what might this be telling me? You know, in your case it's like, yeah, I'm not feeling the same aliveness that I was. So where might I find that? Those moments can really alchemize something powerful. Absolutely. And you pointed to it, Cory.

It's a very dynamic state, right? And that's the important thing. It's a state, not a trait. The experience you're having is a state. The challenges you're feeling is a state that you're inhabiting. And so states change all the time and our change of bull based on how we meet them, what narratives we tell about them, ourselves about them especially, what narratives we tell about them.

And so I think it, it really is that capacity to pause and to observe what, how you're meeting this state and how you can bring other qualities to it that start to enable the learning. Rather than considering it a trait that's fixed and that is kind of done and static and not dynamic. Yeah. So this is a bit of a nerdy question potentially around like how we develop associations with failure. Like the classic example of the, the power failures I get, a child learning how to walk and they fall, but they get back up and there's a playful orientation to it, right? No, no issue with failure, but no sense of it really being a failure.

It's just process. Is all of this baggage many of us have around failure, just conditioning, like childhood conditioning, family, cultural conditioning? If we didn't have any of that, which would be totally impossible to decouple, would we have a different relationship to failure? Do you have any thoughts on that? I think it's both conditioning and the way we're naturally wired. Again, we're wired to, you know, to be worried and to think badly of things. You know, it was adaptive to be paranoid and to think the worst is going to happen at any given moment when you were just trying to survive out there. So our brains have a predisposition to the bad.

If this thing happens and it feels bad, then it's just bad. Then comes in the conditioning, right? Where we feel like our validation, our identity, it's all wrapped up in not failing because that's what we've learned because that's what our parents and the society around us seems to be believing. Right? But I think all of that is changing somewhat. Right? And so it's not to be completely woo woo and permissive and, you know, completely, you know, mushy about everything and saying like, you know what, like, it's all good. Everybody always constantly gets a trophy.

You know, failure, yeah, it's not great, right? It's, it's difficult. You don't, you, ideally you want to succeed at things, but failure does happen. So it's more about being in wise relationship to it, to the factors that cause it, to the things that you have tied up with it, like identity. It was not easy for me like, you know, at 40 to like step away from a corporate career and say, I'm going to be an entrepreneur. Right? Like I felt like my identity, I was like having to let go of an identity.

And I did, I had to let go of an identity, but that didn't mean it was like a bad thing. It actually opened up a whole bunch of other opportunity. So I think that's the way I would invite you all to consider that, you know, challenges and failures you face as doorways, potentially, into learning and to opportunity. Hmm, brilliant. Wow, there's a lot there for people to dive into in terms of this course.

And in addition to that, you, you offer these micro-practices that people can do just throughout the day that don't take, as you were saying, much more than 30 seconds, which, you know, sometimes people put that in the category of McMindfulness. I'm a big fan of little practices that drop you back into a depth of knowing that we can so easily disconnect from. And so one of, you have one, a self-compassion in three breaths. Could you share that with us? Yeah, it's super simple. So it goes like this, you know, breathing in, I do my best.

Breathing out, I let go of the rest. And the reason, let me just explain that for a second. If it bears any explanation, hopefully it's self-explanatory. But breathing in, know that you've done your best. And then breathing out, when I say, let go the rest, the stories, the narratives, the criticisms, the judgements, the analysis.

Just take a moment and see what it would be like to know you've done your best and let go of all the rest. So let's try that. All right. And I'm just going to repeat it three times. So sit as you will comfortably.

Eyes open or closed, your choice. And let's just begin by taking a deep breath. Breathing in. I know I've done my best. Breathing out, I let go of the rest.

Again. Breathing in, I've done my best. And breathing out, I like to go the rest. One last time, calling to mind this challenge, breathing in. I know I've done my best.

Breathing out, I let go the rest. And so what I hope for, for you is that in doing that micropractice, there's just one small measure of ease that comes when you consider a challenge you're facing when you practice that self compassion, it's really a self-compassion practice. Breathing in, acknowledging that you've done your best and then breathing out, letting go of the rest. And letting go the rest just for maybe those three breaths, even just that. Just that.

Yeah. Thanks. I, I I feel the ease in that and there's a a liberation in, in making the most essential thing just how I show up. And it's like, all right, this is the best I have in this moment. And I'm curious if someone were to say something like, well, I don't feel like I've done my best.

How might they navigate that block if it arises for them? Is this practice maybe not relevant to them in that context? Or is there a different way to think about it? I think there's a different way to think about it. And it's really two words with a question mark at the end of it. How so? How so have you not done your best? How so might you do differently? And again, this pivots us back into that sort of skew or that, that lens of looking at things with kindness and curiosity, looking at things in terms of learning and possibility. Right? So if you haven't done your best, you know, how so? How so is that the case? There in lies the learning. I, and so and so that's perfectly okay as well, right? Yeah.

That's a great integration with, with the growth mindset, the learning moments as well. Yeah. Thanks, Rich. Wow. So we've, we dove into a lot here.

And for those listening, just like, sometimes this can feel like drinking out of a fire hose. It's like, well, that idea and that idea and that idea, give it all to me once. And it, you know, right now we can, we can take what's resonating, let it integrate and recognize that there's, there's a lot more that you can dive into here. And so if, if any of this has peaked your interest and you're asking, how can I bring more of this into my life now, especially the habits of high performance, which is a unique topic that we're introducing here on Mindfulness.com, Rich has developed this beautiful seven day meditation course that's designed for, for implementing these ideas that we've just scratched the surface on. Along with frequently asked questions, micro-practices all that you can bring into your life in a very practical way, which, there's a big emphasis for us here.

Like all the teachers that we bring in and you, you see it with Rich, have depth. They have a deeply cultivated practice. This is, in many ways, what they've committed their life to, their lives to. And they're people like Rich, like they're all entrenched in the world and looking at this through a very practical lens of just like, how do I integrate this into my life? And I think that really is Rich's unique expertise here, especially for those who are living and aim to live a high-performing life and all the things that that can mean, not just traditional success, but just doing well in your relationship, in your family, and the best you can do yourself. So Rich, before we go, is there, is there anything else you'd like to add or offer before we transition? I just want to thank you for your time and attention and interest in this topic.

You know, ultimately for me, this is really about what allows us to flourish and thrive as humans and as people, and that has been my abiding interest the better part of my adult life and what I've spent my work and career doing. And I hope that through sharing some of the research and findings and concepts and practices that it's useful to you just for that, to kind of thrive and flourish at work and in life and in the world. So with that, I wish you the best. Thanks, Rich. Thank you all for, for tuning in.

To get lifetime access to all of Rich's materials, you can sign up for a free seven day trial where you'll be able to test drive all the features, including the daily coaching we have, the library of 300 guided meditations, sleep meditations and everything that Rich has touched on here. And there should be a link below for that. So thank you all for, for your presence, for your practice. And Rich, thank you so much. This is a great gift for all of us who've been able to experience it.

And a tremendous amount of respect for all the ways that you're weaving so many different domains in psychology and high-performance and positive psychology and mindfulness into an offering of how we can live our best lives. So big love, big respect, and thanks for your time and practice. Thank you. Thank you everyone. Thanks everyone.

Bye now.

Talk

4.8

Cory & Rich Explore The Habits of High Performance

Join Rich and Cory as they explore 5 ways to enable high performance in your personal and professional life.

Duration

Your default time is based on your progress and is changed automatically as you practice.

Hi everyone. Welcome to this conversation with Rich Fernandez. My name's Cory Muscara, and you may have seen me in the Mindfulness.com app where I serve as one of your daily guides. I'm thrilled to be hosting this conversation with Rich about his new content that's going to be coming into the Mindfulness.com app and his new course specifically titled The Habits of High Performance. And what I really appreciate about Rich and what I think you're going to see here in this conversation is that he holds this great blend of depth and reverence for the practices of mindfulness, meditation, the, what we could call, the wisdom traditions with the very practical side of things of being in the world and wanting to do things well and having a sense of purpose and being a high performer, which doesn't need to be exclusive to, you know, being a CEO of an organization or in a business context.

We all have our various domains of life that we're looking to perform well in and get better at. And I think sometimes, you know, as we get into the work of mindfulness, meditation, there's this emphasis or can seem like there's this emphasis on slowing down and being attuned and taking rest. And all of that is important, but it can feel like, you know, how does this integrate with being in the world and getting things done and, and growing? Now, those are not, those things are not antithetical, but we need, sometimes, voices that help show us how, what that bridge is, how they integrate. And that's what Rich does exceptionally well. I first met Rich through through my work through the Search Inside Yourself program, where he serves as the CEO now.

And was just very impressed by him in the very beginning. He's very clear, very articulate and articulate and charismatic. You, you really get to feel who Rich is, what you're going to get to see in this conversation in a bit. So I think these ideas can have a very big impact on your life, specifically around bridging how this work has perhaps touched your heart in mindfulness meditation, where you've found that it nurtures you on the deepest level or inspired by that, and then how that can move into your life in a very practical way. So excited for you to have a listen.

Let's get started now with Rich Fernandez. All right, Rich. Great to be here with you. As we introduce you to the Mindfulness.com family, can you just share a bit about your personal journey? How you came to the habits of high-performance? Did it come out of extensive work with leaders at Google, eBay? You know, what, what's some of the background that's brought you here? Yeah. Thank you, Cory.

It's great to be here. Hello everybody. So this journey around, and my interest really, around high-performance started really in, from the early part of my adult life. I got really interested in mindfulness and meditation, both on the kind of mental and emotional side of simply, you know, being able to be grounded and have the sense of clarity and purpose and direction when I was a young adult. And that also went into some of the sort of physical activities I was doing - martial arts and sports.

And all of it kind of required me to think about, you know, what made me be my best. And I pursued that interest in graduate school. I went to get a graduate degree in psychology. I got my PhD there. And what was interesting at that point was that I realized within the study of human behavior and psychology, you could study sort of clinical aspects of disease states, or you could actually study states where people are working on potentiating what they already possess in terms of their core strengths and attributes.

And that's the branch of psychology that I really got into. It was positive psychology, cognitive psychology, leadership development, and organization development. And so that was my formal study. And then, yeah, I spent the better part of two decades after graduate school working in high-performance environments in business contexts. The first 10 years in financial services at JP Morgan Chase and Bank of America.

And then the next 10 years in technology at eBay and then Google. And so all of these were high performance environments. And all of them had leaders and employees who were really focused on like what it took to sort of optimize their performance in the face of complexity, in the face of the need to kind of innovate rapidly and scale those innovations. So this was a perpetual question in those types of cultures, organizational cultures, and for those leaders. And for me, it was also a personal question because I was part of those those, organizations.

And I myself wanted to figure out how to navigate the complexity and, you know, cultivate those qualities of mental clarity, emotional balance and creativity. Because I had a long standing mindfulness practice, I knew that was one of the foundations. And I came to study the neuroscience behind it and realized there are ways that you can actually rewire your brain. You can draw on certain kinds of mindfulness practice to help prime, you know, your kind of mind and body for, for high-performance, and kind of dove deep there. And that's really kind of the foundation of how I got into this.

Wow. You know, I've noticed, I spent a lot of time in the positive psychology space as well that there, there is something that people really respond well to when you start talking about, you know, what is innately good in you? What are your particular strengths? And how can we nurture that or double down on that rather than constantly eradicating our weaknesses? Would, would you say that the, the prevailing narrative tends to be more of, as you were saying, like this disease focused or what goes wrong? And, and how, how would you say you balance, right, the making space for what's uncomfortable or painful, that side of life with potentiating and, and really nurturing the good? Is, is there a balance there, in your opinion, or can we just focus on one, the good side? Yeah, there's definitely a balance because, you know, I think first it's important to note that we do have a tendency to focus on the negative. As humans, that is how we are wired from an evolutionary biology perspective. Right? In order to survive as humans in the environments in which we were early humans, the forests and jungles where we lived, to survive the bears and the tigers there, we had to be on constant alert. The moment we set foot outside our cave or our hut, we had to be on alert.

And we had to perceive the world in terms of threat. So that's hardwired into us. What we have to do is develop kind of the skills to know when that's in play in the contemporary context and to counteract that. Now that's not to say that we always need to focus on rainbows and unicorns as opposed to bears and tigers, right? Because challenging stuff happens all the time. So that's the kind of balance point, perhaps you're referring it to Cory, right? Which is that it's also important to acknowledge the difficult emotions and feelings we may be having and to be in relationship with them.

But to be in wise relationship with them, not to over index on them and not to give too much weight to what we call the negativity bias, this tendency of the brain to focus on, on the bad and have it prevail. But to sort of be appropriately measured in the way that we meet and work with difficulties as they arise, because they will arise. They always arise for every single one of us. Then the other part of the practice is to be able to cultivate the habits that allow us to look at the other side of it, which is instead of asking what went wrong today again, ask, you know, what, what went well. What's the best thing that could possibly happen.

And we're often under indexed in that area. In other words, we don't pay enough attention to that sort of positive skew because we're not habituated to do it and we're not wired to do it. And so what's really important are developing habits and practices that enable this kind of different view, view that's a little bit more focused on possibility all the way through to abundance. But not over index on that as well. Right? So that we're not like only, only ever wanting to live in that space and not acknowledge reality as it is.

But also not over-indexing on, on like how bad a bad can be. So I think it's that balance point that I tried to get across in, in this course of The Habits of High Performance. Yeah, great. I, and I do think that's one of your unique contributions to Mindfulness.com, but also to the larger field of mindfulness around this conversation of high, high performance. I think sometimes we, there can be an emphasis on navigating suffering and stress and holding space for it, which is fundamental, which you acknowledge in a really deep way.

And we can also lose sight of like, it's a deep practice to also orient toward what is good, and even hold the resonance in your body of pleasure and joy. Sometimes that can be harder then the resonance of pain and discomfort, especially if that's what we're most used to. So this, it feels exciting. I think that's the main word that comes up for me. And, you know, we have, we have five core ideas from your course that I'd love to give people a preview on.

And the first is around figuring out what's your, what's your why. Could you speak to to the importance of that and anything that feels relevant for folks? Yeah, I mean, and I say this in the course, you know, for me, understanding the value of meaning and purpose in your life is really critical, from my perspective. Though it is also true that it can take a lifetime to kind of get clarity on those, on those kinds of, on those aspects of living, mean, being meaning and purpose. What's your why, in other words. What I try to do in the course is offer some approaches and tools to help you answer that question.

Because it's my core understanding and belief, and this is also from my personal experience, that each one of us knows what it is that makes us feel alive. Right? Most of us can find that within our experience. It may take some, some, some reflection and inquiry. For others, maybe it's immediately apparent, what helps you feel alive. And then the hard work is then to align your life with these qualities, these things that make you feel alive and that, and then putting it into action.

So knowing what's, makes you alive, knowing your why and then aligning your behaviors and actions with that is the core challenge, I think of our lifetimes. And I'm speaking from experience. Look, I worked in corporate for 20 years. And at some point there was a decision for me that I did not feel aligned, that I wasn't sort of doing what made me most feel alive, which is to work as my primary area of focus on things like mindfulness and wellbeing. And so I had to leave that corporate career.

It wasn't an easy decision to leave my job at Google to start a company in mindfulness and wellness. But it was essential because it made me feel most alive. So what I endeavor to do in this course, this first part of what's your why, is to really help you go through that process of inquiry into what makes you feel most alive and how you might skillfully align your values, your behaviors, your actions in the world with that. Wow. Yeah.

And it's brilliant everyone. I, I, and this is where I think there's a really powerful offering here because you hear about things like purpose and finding your why, what's true for you, what's your passion, all the different flavors of that. But it's another thing to actually guide someone into that process. And so, you know, for anyone listening right now, if you're hearing this and feeling like, yeah, that's a question I'm wrestling with. How do I do it? That, that will be here and you can have Rich's guidance as you slowly deepen into that, that understanding.

You know, there, I really like the framing of it as or the alignment of my purpose with what is most alive in me. I think that particular question, when it comes to some sort of internal compass for how we would figure out what am I supposed to do? What is my karma in this lifetime? There's so much data that we're taking in on a moment to moment basis, and it can be incredibly hard to parse, like, what is wisdom? What is conditioning? What's my trauma? What's authentic? Would you, would you make the argument that the feeling of a liveliness can be trusted as a form of, of inter, an internal compass to that end? Absolutely. Right. And so I think, you know, what it is that brings you alive is unique to you. And it's also like of the most kind of essential part that is you.

Only you can really know that. And sometimes it's, as you said, Cory, you know, maybe at times it can be obscured or not clear. I think sometimes that's because it just needs a little time to emerge, but I think more often it's because we have all these other messages, all this other layering that we're tuning to, right, that, that are kind of, that's kind of canned conventional wisdom that we should be so-and-so and such and such, or this is what it means to be successful and satisfied and happy. I mean, in like developed societies, for example, money, status and power are typical ones that are seen as when you achieve that, you're happy. The secret and the research suggests that in fact, happiness precedes success.

And so knowing like ways to feel alive in your work and in your life and really having clarity on that is trustworthy. It is kind of like the foundation from which to build success and, but let's leave success aside. Let's just call it high-performance. To do well, it's useful to know what makes you happy and what makes you alive. And if I could give an example, like I learned very early on, I was not going to be a computer programmer or a statistician, or, you know a trader or any of that, stuff like that because I found out my quantitative skills weren't quite the same as my skills around connecting with people, around teaching, around language, around writing.

And also those are the same skills that made me feel most alive. Whereas when I was doing some of the other things, cutting spreadsheets, running statistical models, it was a grind. And so I didn't at the first want accept that, right? Cause here I am this PhD student at Columbia and I should be able to do that other stuff. But it was not intuitive. It was not easy.

It did not make me feel alive. So I came to accept that and I indexed more and I kind of paid more attention then to the other pieces, which made me super happy. And like, I'm a person who liked for the past, at least 10, 15 years, loved, has loved his work because it has been in this area that has made me feel most alive. Oh, wow. Oh, that's great.

Yeah. So if, if this is resonant for folks similar to how it's resonant for me, Rich, we'll go into that in more detail. And so this is just the first one of a number, a handful. So the next the next idea we have here is cultivating focus and limiting distraction. It almost feels like there's not much more than needs to be said than that, but putting that into, into process and action is a whole other thing.

So please share more how this relates. Yeah. So really here is where I like to look at the neuroscience, Cory because you know, our brains are, again, wired, not only for a negativity bias, but also for mind wandering. In fact, mind wandering, kind of a state where we're just a bit distracted, a bit kind of open in our awareness, we're not focused. We're not like doing, what's called, task positive behaviors.

That's our natural state. And there's nothing wrong with that, by the way. It's really important to be able to kind of scan and daydream and so forth. It's really valuable for example, in the creative process. Right? So I'm not saying that that's not something that we shouldn't value as well.

But what I am saying is that it's our default mode, if our tendency to have our minds wandered. And this is born by the research, which suggests that up to 50% of the time, our mind's actually not focused on what we're actually doing, that it's actually wandering. And so add to that the fact that technology is, by the way it's built, at least the contemporary forms that we're using, tends to add to that default state of distraction, because it pulls our attention. It constantly pulls our attention. And so more than ever, we need ways to build the skills of focus and have mental clarity.

And the good news is, again from the neuroscience, is that there are ways to do that because what we know is that there are certain other neural mechanisms or networks in our brain that are responsible for focus and for attention and for accurate perception, for example, And that you can train those parts of your brain through things like certain types of mindfulness practice, attention training practices, and so forth. So the research shows that when you actually start to do those types of practices, it's like anything, the more you do it, the stronger those parts of your body become. So the stronger the neural network signals become there, between those networks that are responsible for focus and attention, and you can even grow the gray matter, the tissue that's responsible for those functions. It's very much like going to the gym and maybe lifting weights and building your muscles. Except you're not building muscles, you're building neural tissue.

And so the neuroscience research is highly suggestive that this is all possible through a specific set of mental training habits. And those are some of the habits that I offer in the course. Things like focused attention, open awareness training, you know, perceptual training. so And so, and all of those take the form of different types of reflection, meditation or mindfulness practice. Great.

Yeah. I like, I like the analogy of the gym and, you know, viewing this as a fitness level that we're, we're developing a mental fitness level. I think sometimes when people hear of these practices, they get an idea of it's like, okay, just focus, focus more, be in the present moment. I can do that. But it's one thing for that to be an idea that you try to implement in a moment and it's another thing to intentionally train the brain so that, that becomes more of the default way of responding.

And you know, if somebody is listening to this and maybe saying, you know, I've, I have ADD or I've ADHD, like I, it's always been hard for me to focus. Does this feel relevant to someone where there's like, it's just always been a hard thing for them? Yeah, because there's not a single way to train attention. There's many different ways you can go about doing this. You can do it through a dedicated practice that's like single point focused. You could also do it through a different practice that's more focused on sensations that are shifting on a constant basis and just sort of tracking those that can be more useful for folks who have more difficulty with the single pointed attention.

And then there's also micro practices. So the idea here is that you can do these in 30 seconds in the course of your, in the flow of your day, so that they're not like you don't have to like overdo anything, but you can get started on them and they can have beneficial effects. Yeah. Great, great, great. I, that's another reason why the format of what you've offered here, I think, is relevant to everyone depending on where, where they're starting, and to slowly scaffold or build a scaffold to, to these higher states.

Great. Okay. So you mentioned the word the flow of your day, which is a nice segue into the next idea, the flow state of being at an optimal experience. This is this is one of those sexy words that I think can often be misunderstood. So we'd love for you to just share more about this one.

Yeah, well, this is not original, not an original idea from me. This is from a positive psychologist named Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, who studied hundreds of thousands of high performers and found that they described the flow state of optimal experience and performance. And so he wanted to really analyze what is behind that. And it kind of comes down to that perfect blend of challenge and ability. In other words, at what point is the challenge that you're confronting well-matched to the ability that you possess.

And when the challenge and the ability are matched, then you're in this flow state, then you're kind of performing optimally. The good news, however, is that you can either, you can up your ability level to if you're feeling a little bit over-matched by a challenge by kind of dialing down the challenge as you grow your ability level. And so there's a way you can actually work on cultivating a state of flow by first cultivating a state of awareness of like how are you kind of meeting a challenge with a set of abilities that you're bringing. It does take, take some reflection and it does take some sort of habit building to kind of like increase your capacity to meet the challenge, increase your ability to meet the challenge through habitual practice, specific habitual practices. The best analogy I can offer is kind of a sports analogy.

If you're not really good at serving in tennis, then you practice the throw or the swing or whatever it might be. I'm a basketball player. If you're not good at free-throws, you'll work on your shooting mechanics. If you're a swimmer and you're not efficiently stroking, then you work on how you stroke and pull the water. And so there are just like that in the sports metaphor in the kind of cognitive metaphor.

There's ways that you can recalibrate the way that you're approaching certain challenges that can gradually, you used the word, Cory, scaffolding, that can scaffold your ability level to the point where it becomes habituated and then you've kind of rose into a new challenge and you're in a flow state of optimal performance. Wow. And what's cool about the flow channel, which I've always been compelled by is that, there, there seems to be a relationship between the depth of flow you can access and the, the level of the challenge that you're working at and the ability required to meet that challenge. So like for those listening, maybe thinking about like a Y and the X axes, if there's the, the level of the challenge on the Y axis and your ability on the X axis, the flow channel would be going up this way. So that you're actually going to deeper and deeper states of flow as the challenge is increasing and as your ability is increasing the meet those challenges.

So like a world-class pianists or world-class athlete, or even, and this I'd love to get your thoughts on, a meditator who has really refined their capacity to pay attention on a very granular level to all the flow of experience, would experience more flow. Is that fair to say? That's fair to say. Absolutely. And that's why at times, you know, when you meditate for sustained periods, like on an extended retreat, or you do it habitually over an amount of time, there is a quality of timelessness to it, right? You could be like, you know, I mean, it's happened to me a few times. I can't believe the meditation is over and it felt really short, but it was actually in, in.

At other times, if I hadn't been meditating as consistently, that would have felt like a long period of time. But like if like, so I typically will go on an extended retreat once a year, right, of anywhere from three to 10 days. Usually both, actually. I try to do both of those, the three-day and a 10 day. And there's a certain point where it's like, wow, that session went really quickly.

And at the start of this retreat, it was going on forever. I couldn't believe, I couldn't wait till I was getting up and now this kind of happens so quickly because I'd like to think that that is a different flow state. You know, and I think there's evidence to show that when we become habituated or raise our ability to a certain level and the challenge is also great and our ability level has matched that at that higher level, there's kind of this deeper experience of sustained flow. Cool. This is a great one.

So if this is resonating for anyone listening right now, Rich will go into more detail on this and in the app. Especially if you are feeling like, yeah, I could use more. We've all experienced flow at different points in our lives. And I think what the special offering here is a way to, well, we could say hack that process to have more of it in our life. So going into idea number four, and I don't know, anyone listening, I already feel like there's, there's so much here to chew on.

But we, we still got two more and then micro-practices. The, the energy for sustainable high performance. This one, I really want to get your thoughts on, because I think a lot of us have ideas of what it would look like to be a high performing person. But that requires a lot. And what's the well that we're drawing from? Yeah.

So I think the key thing is, I really tried to break this one down, like to a daily, like to a daily level, where we can think about energy in terms of our average day. Because there's that expression, it's not about managing your time, it's about managing your energy. You may be one of these people or know these people who seem to get so much done. You can't believe how much they get done. And there's some of those people who seem to do it somewhat effortlessly.

And, you know, my understanding of that when I talk to these types of folks, and I knew a lot of them at Google or like at Bank of America or other places, eBay, it's that they really found a way to manage their energy very effectively. And that typically meant having some sort of routine. And some of them were more, were much more disciplined about the routine and some were just kind of used it as a loose framework. So for example, a routine around energy flows. Energy flows during the day.

There's something, you've probably heard of a circadian rhythms, right, which are rhythms that we go through kind of over periods of time. It could be a week, or it could be a month. But there's also intradian rhythms, which are the intra-day rhythms. In the course of the day, our metabolism works at different levels and is doing different tasks, for example. So, probably not a surprise to you, like after lunch, we're metabolizing a meal.

Like immediately after lunch, we're not usually our sharpest. And there's a reason for that. The bloods in our stomach, like blood sugars are kind of in flux because of what we ate. So knowing these types of things, knowing your kind of rhythm, the rhythm and routines of your day, and being intentional about them can really help you work with the energetic qualities that are present throughout your day, okay. If you're a night person, for example, some people for whatever reason have more energy at night.

So how can they think about prioritizing the tasks that require most of their creative or cognitive work at night, if you're a night person. I am exactly the opposite. All my most important work needs to happen before noon. Yeah. Me too.

Right? And even before that, I've sort of set up my day in some ways because, I mean, I literally wake up and the first thing I do as I've habituated myself to doing a mindfulness meditation practice, most days, most days. And have very sort of simple, clear routine around that, which is get up and go to the bathroom, wash my face, brush my teeth, and then I do my meditation and mindfulness practice. I reward myself with some coffee after it and then I'm into my day. Right? So that helps me manage my energy. And again, between, now I wake up really early.

That's the other thing. I go to bed really early and I wake up early. So let's say by seven o'clock in the morning, I'm ready for my most productive time of the day. Between, happens between seven and eight or, and let's say about 11 or 12. And then there's the ancillary tasks, some routine emails I have to do, some errands or house related stuff or child-related stuff I have to do that much more happens in the afternoon.

So much so, that I've scheduled myself to pick up my kid at three o'clock from, from school every day because I'm really not productive at three o'clock in the afternoon. Very few good things will happen at three o'clock in the afternoon. So I might as well just, you know, go do my, kind of the domestic piece of being a parent. That's not to say I'm not present with my child when I'm there and I'm grumpy. I'm just not up to the cognitive task of making really complex decisions and so forth that work requires.

I'm much more ready to hang out with my kid from three to five and which is what I would do everyday. Yeah. So it sounds like even someone just looking at their existing schedule and dragging and dropping to-dos at different times throughout the day could be a very simple way, it might be some complication to it, but one way that you can actually manage your energy without even necessarily changing any, anything else. I mean, you could optimize food and sleep and all of these other things, but even just looking at, oh, when do I do my meetings versus when do I want to do my writing or creative work? And what are our existing, you call them in, intradian Intradian rhythms, intradian like intra day. Intradian.

Yeah. That's the technical term for them, right? I love that. Yeah. Yeah, this is great, Rich. Yeah, they're cyclical.

Like circadian rhythms are cyclical over a course of a week or a month, but intradians are cyclical within the course of a day. And so being really aware of those, managing to those, developing the rhythms and routines that track those are really useful. And this is a little bit what I cover in the course. Wonderful. Great.

Well, that brings us to our final, final idea, maintaining a success-oriented mindset. How the heck do we do that? Yeah, well, it's, it's all about the kind of the mindset. Again, these are not original ideas. They also come out of the field of positive psychology. Carol Dweck at Stanford talks about a growth mindset, or a learning mindset is the other thing you might've heard about it as.

So this is the idea that whenever we, whatever challenge we meet, and especially when we fail at things, we see, we find a way to use that as an opportunity to learn what we can do differently. Because the other choice is what's called a fixed mindset, where success and failure is just a fixed thing. And either you're good because you succeeded or you're bad because you didn't succeed. And this is again, a natural, somewhat natural default state we have, right? Like we think that failure is bad across the board, period. And of course you want to succeed at things.

But failure is a core part of lived experience. It's not an outlier. It's a core part of lived experience. And so what the growth mindset allows you to do is to understand failure and to understand how you can learn from it. But it really takes practice.

It really takes being able to disrupt one's own self around the narratives that naturally come and float into our minds about what failure means. Because again, we're all to ready to kind of beat ourselves up and enable the inner critic, as one of our common friends and Mindfulness.com teacher says, Mark Coleman. Right? We have this fierce inner critic, right, that's very much present with us all the time. It has a little to do with what I mentioned previously, which is this negativity bias that we have, this evolutionary hardwiring that's within our brains that suggests that things are bad. Just expect things to be bad because that's how you're going to survive.

Well, I failed. So I'm bad. That's the narrative that we can easily slip into and that's the fixed mindset. I didn't succeed, so I'm no good. Whereas a growth mindset, again, tries to look for ways to learn.

I mentioned I'll, I'll speak more personally about this. You know, I mentioned I left my corporate career. At some point, it wasn't feeling very alive to me and I wasn't feeling like I could give it what it needed. I wasn't quite succeeding the way I would've wanted to succeed at it and show up the way I want to show up. And there was a part of me that was like, wow, am I failing at this? But what for me it was, was a learning opportunity to go, well, no, it's suggesting to me that there's something else I need to be doing.

What is that other thing? And for me, that was to step away after nearly 20 years to move into more of an entrepreneurial space and start my own company, which is still running today, it's called Wisdom Labs. And eventually after a number of years of doing that to come here to Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute and lead this, you know, global educational institute. And I love my work now and I have for the past decade at least. I loved my work before, but maybe not as much. But now I really love it, but I had to learn that like, look this is a learning moment, is the way to think about a growth mindset.

It perhaps is calling you to do something different, to learn something new, to find different ways, whenever that challenge or even failure arises. And that's really what I address in this course, and also try to offer some useful mental habits that you can use to as reflection and inquiry practices into your own mindset. Great. I really liked that framing of growth mindset as a learning mind or learning moments. Especially the moment piece, because even in the story you shared, there was an experience, and then the moment that proceeded it really conditioned what was going to happen next and how you would relate about, relate to it and think about it.

And I think there are lots of those moments that are happening throughout the day where something goes wrong and we have all of this conditioning and baggage around it going wrong that if we were to just very simply stop, take a breath and then maybe ask ourselves a different question of what's wrong instead of what's wrong with me. Maybe even asking like, okay, What can I learn from this? Or what might this be telling me? You know, in your case it's like, yeah, I'm not feeling the same aliveness that I was. So where might I find that? Those moments can really alchemize something powerful. Absolutely. And you pointed to it, Cory.

It's a very dynamic state, right? And that's the important thing. It's a state, not a trait. The experience you're having is a state. The challenges you're feeling is a state that you're inhabiting. And so states change all the time and our change of bull based on how we meet them, what narratives we tell about them, ourselves about them especially, what narratives we tell about them.

And so I think it, it really is that capacity to pause and to observe what, how you're meeting this state and how you can bring other qualities to it that start to enable the learning. Rather than considering it a trait that's fixed and that is kind of done and static and not dynamic. Yeah. So this is a bit of a nerdy question potentially around like how we develop associations with failure. Like the classic example of the, the power failures I get, a child learning how to walk and they fall, but they get back up and there's a playful orientation to it, right? No, no issue with failure, but no sense of it really being a failure.

It's just process. Is all of this baggage many of us have around failure, just conditioning, like childhood conditioning, family, cultural conditioning? If we didn't have any of that, which would be totally impossible to decouple, would we have a different relationship to failure? Do you have any thoughts on that? I think it's both conditioning and the way we're naturally wired. Again, we're wired to, you know, to be worried and to think badly of things. You know, it was adaptive to be paranoid and to think the worst is going to happen at any given moment when you were just trying to survive out there. So our brains have a predisposition to the bad.

If this thing happens and it feels bad, then it's just bad. Then comes in the conditioning, right? Where we feel like our validation, our identity, it's all wrapped up in not failing because that's what we've learned because that's what our parents and the society around us seems to be believing. Right? But I think all of that is changing somewhat. Right? And so it's not to be completely woo woo and permissive and, you know, completely, you know, mushy about everything and saying like, you know what, like, it's all good. Everybody always constantly gets a trophy.

You know, failure, yeah, it's not great, right? It's, it's difficult. You don't, you, ideally you want to succeed at things, but failure does happen. So it's more about being in wise relationship to it, to the factors that cause it, to the things that you have tied up with it, like identity. It was not easy for me like, you know, at 40 to like step away from a corporate career and say, I'm going to be an entrepreneur. Right? Like I felt like my identity, I was like having to let go of an identity.

And I did, I had to let go of an identity, but that didn't mean it was like a bad thing. It actually opened up a whole bunch of other opportunity. So I think that's the way I would invite you all to consider that, you know, challenges and failures you face as doorways, potentially, into learning and to opportunity. Hmm, brilliant. Wow, there's a lot there for people to dive into in terms of this course.

And in addition to that, you, you offer these micro-practices that people can do just throughout the day that don't take, as you were saying, much more than 30 seconds, which, you know, sometimes people put that in the category of McMindfulness. I'm a big fan of little practices that drop you back into a depth of knowing that we can so easily disconnect from. And so one of, you have one, a self-compassion in three breaths. Could you share that with us? Yeah, it's super simple. So it goes like this, you know, breathing in, I do my best.

Breathing out, I let go of the rest. And the reason, let me just explain that for a second. If it bears any explanation, hopefully it's self-explanatory. But breathing in, know that you've done your best. And then breathing out, when I say, let go the rest, the stories, the narratives, the criticisms, the judgements, the analysis.

Just take a moment and see what it would be like to know you've done your best and let go of all the rest. So let's try that. All right. And I'm just going to repeat it three times. So sit as you will comfortably.

Eyes open or closed, your choice. And let's just begin by taking a deep breath. Breathing in. I know I've done my best. Breathing out, I let go of the rest.

Again. Breathing in, I've done my best. And breathing out, I like to go the rest. One last time, calling to mind this challenge, breathing in. I know I've done my best.

Breathing out, I let go the rest. And so what I hope for, for you is that in doing that micropractice, there's just one small measure of ease that comes when you consider a challenge you're facing when you practice that self compassion, it's really a self-compassion practice. Breathing in, acknowledging that you've done your best and then breathing out, letting go of the rest. And letting go the rest just for maybe those three breaths, even just that. Just that.

Yeah. Thanks. I, I I feel the ease in that and there's a a liberation in, in making the most essential thing just how I show up. And it's like, all right, this is the best I have in this moment. And I'm curious if someone were to say something like, well, I don't feel like I've done my best.

How might they navigate that block if it arises for them? Is this practice maybe not relevant to them in that context? Or is there a different way to think about it? I think there's a different way to think about it. And it's really two words with a question mark at the end of it. How so? How so have you not done your best? How so might you do differently? And again, this pivots us back into that sort of skew or that, that lens of looking at things with kindness and curiosity, looking at things in terms of learning and possibility. Right? So if you haven't done your best, you know, how so? How so is that the case? There in lies the learning. I, and so and so that's perfectly okay as well, right? Yeah.

That's a great integration with, with the growth mindset, the learning moments as well. Yeah. Thanks, Rich. Wow. So we've, we dove into a lot here.

And for those listening, just like, sometimes this can feel like drinking out of a fire hose. It's like, well, that idea and that idea and that idea, give it all to me once. And it, you know, right now we can, we can take what's resonating, let it integrate and recognize that there's, there's a lot more that you can dive into here. And so if, if any of this has peaked your interest and you're asking, how can I bring more of this into my life now, especially the habits of high performance, which is a unique topic that we're introducing here on Mindfulness.com, Rich has developed this beautiful seven day meditation course that's designed for, for implementing these ideas that we've just scratched the surface on. Along with frequently asked questions, micro-practices all that you can bring into your life in a very practical way, which, there's a big emphasis for us here.

Like all the teachers that we bring in and you, you see it with Rich, have depth. They have a deeply cultivated practice. This is, in many ways, what they've committed their life to, their lives to. And they're people like Rich, like they're all entrenched in the world and looking at this through a very practical lens of just like, how do I integrate this into my life? And I think that really is Rich's unique expertise here, especially for those who are living and aim to live a high-performing life and all the things that that can mean, not just traditional success, but just doing well in your relationship, in your family, and the best you can do yourself. So Rich, before we go, is there, is there anything else you'd like to add or offer before we transition? I just want to thank you for your time and attention and interest in this topic.

You know, ultimately for me, this is really about what allows us to flourish and thrive as humans and as people, and that has been my abiding interest the better part of my adult life and what I've spent my work and career doing. And I hope that through sharing some of the research and findings and concepts and practices that it's useful to you just for that, to kind of thrive and flourish at work and in life and in the world. So with that, I wish you the best. Thanks, Rich. Thank you all for, for tuning in.

To get lifetime access to all of Rich's materials, you can sign up for a free seven day trial where you'll be able to test drive all the features, including the daily coaching we have, the library of 300 guided meditations, sleep meditations and everything that Rich has touched on here. And there should be a link below for that. So thank you all for, for your presence, for your practice. And Rich, thank you so much. This is a great gift for all of us who've been able to experience it.

And a tremendous amount of respect for all the ways that you're weaving so many different domains in psychology and high-performance and positive psychology and mindfulness into an offering of how we can live our best lives. So big love, big respect, and thanks for your time and practice. Thank you. Thank you everyone. Thanks everyone.

Bye now.

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