Hey everyone, welcome to the show! Today, we have a special guest, performance coach Greg Harden. Now, when we think of performance coaches, we usually associate them with sports. And yes, Greg has worked with incredible athletes like Desmond Howard, Michael Phelps, and Tom Brady. But today, we’re going to dive into his latest book titled “How to Stay Sane in an Insane World.” This book is not just about sports; it’s about becoming an expert on ourselves so that we can excel in all areas of life.
Greg has taken his practices from working with addicts, alcoholics, and professional athletes and distilled them into practical ideas for managing our inner voice. One of those ideas is learning to conquer our fear of being afraid. By understanding ourselves better, we can become better friends, parents, partners, CEOs, and athletes.
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- Be a Storyteller [00:04:36]
- Connecting with a Younger Generation [00:05:23]
- How to Train YOURSELF [00:10:19]
- Graduating in Growth [00:15:36]
- Moving to Performance Management [00:19:46]
- Developing Your Full Self [00:22:57]
- Re-establishing a New Why [00:31:25]
- Train to Give It Your Best [00:33:25]
- Stop Being Afraid of Being Afraid [00:35:13]
- Rewiring Your Inner Language [00:36:30]
- The Difference Between Top Performers and the Rest of Us [00:40:50]
- Fun is an Important Part of Performance [00:42:18]
Gabby Reece: Hi everyone. Welcome to the show. My guest today is performance coach, Greg Harden. Now I know when we hear the word performance coach, we think automatically sports. So yes, Greg has worked with. People like Desmond Howard, Michael Phelps, Tom Brady, to name a few, but his latest book, “How to Stay Sane in an Insane World” is really a conversation about us becoming an expert on who we are, because then we can bring that anywhere.
We can be a better friend or a better parent or a better lover, or yes, a better CEO or a better athlete. So, he’s taken his practices that he used with addicts and alcoholics and professional athletes and broken down a ton of ideas on how we can manage our inner voice. For example, stop being afraid of being afraid.
Greg Harden, welcome to the show. I’m excited to talk to you today. I’m excited to talk to you about a lot of things and I’m going to use your book. “Stay Sane in an Insane World” is our launching off point. People love to hear people’s resumes. And so, we’ll just cut to the chase and say that you’ve worked with some of the greatest athletes in the world, athletes like Michael Phelps and Tom Brady, just to name a few. So, if we need to establish that right from the top I’m always more interested in the content, but people love to know how it’s taken place in the 3D world. So, we’ll give them that. I first am most curious into how you got into the field of performance.
[00:02:48] Greg Harden: That’s a great question because it was not a plan. I’ll tell anyone that God has a sense of humor. I thought I was a peak performer, found out I was not. And then I ended up becoming a so-called expert. And what really happened was that I was working at a hospital based program working with alcoholics and addicts.
[00:03:12] Greg Harden: Since I segwueed from dreaming of being in radio, television and film and being the black Bruce Lee,
[00:03:23] Gabby Reece: what do you mean by that? Like you wanted to get into a performance in front of the camera and do all of that?
[00:03:31] Greg Harden: Absolutely. And I was real clear that you needed to be in front of the camera and in back of the camera if you really wanted to tell stories.
[00:03:40] Greg Harden: If you really wanted to be someone that was conveying stories, you had to be able to produce direct. And if you were a ham like me, get in front of the camera for fun. So, I was going to be Spike Lee before Spike Lee, Denzel before Denzel. And God said, no.
[00:03:58] Gabby Reece: I’m just curious because I think this is so important.
And this, cause you work with athletes you have you, your dad is, I think a lot of us have an inner burning question and drive that is really reflective of our unique path. And only we know it, right? So, athletes feel like coaches might get a sense of it, but sometimes it’s like giving that freedom to that person.
Because something inside them is telling them something. What was inside of you that you, the stories that you wanted to tell?
[00:04:36] Greg Harden: I just wanted to be someone that was a storyteller. And I thought that people on stage were storytellers. I thought being someone that could convey emotions and ideas and make people feel things was something that I was passionate about.
[00:04:56] Greg Harden: And so, it segue-ed easily into wanting to be someone that created programs. And it was no way that I thought that what I was doing would turn into an opportunity of a lifetime. Because it was an unbelievable opportunity to get a call to come and work with a university football program. And that segue-ed into much.
[00:05:23] Gabby Reece: Greg, now that you’ve been doing this a minute, and this is almost a selfish question. It’s funny. I have a daughter who’s my youngest daughter is a junior in high school and she’s a bright person. And she communicates a lot about being frustrated that people talk to her in a way that she’s not as smart as she is.
And I’m curious when you say good with working with young people, obviously when you started you yourself were younger, but I’m also just curious how you continue to stay in touch as you get older and manage kind of your perception. And now athletes coming in or younger, and now they’ve got all different things that you didn’t originally deal with, like social media.
Gabby Reece: How do you keep developing those skills to connect to young people in the world that they come from?
[00:06:16] Greg Harden: You treat them like they’re your consultants. You treat them like they need to teach you how to communicate with them. You talk to them as though they are the smartest people in the room, and you ask them for their advice and direction.
Greg Harden: I had the audacity to talk to a young person once and I said first off, why don’t you tell me who you are? That’s not related to your social media posts. And if I really wanted to know you as a real person, what would you tell? I said, yeah, just tell me who you are aside from the hype and the glamour and the glory.
Greg Harden: And they were stunned, and they had to struggle, and they had to figure out how to describe themselves. And then I would listen to see if they said I’m Gabby, I’m a volleyball player. Instead of saying, I’m Gabby, I’m the daughter of so and so and I grew up in Lottie Dottie and I’m passionate about boom.
So, I would train them to talk about who you are in a different way. Then I would have the nerve to ask them if I want it to be effective. communicating with you, what would you recommend? Tell me how to talk to you. That just throws them off completely, but it gives them a chance to say, what would work talking to me?
And so you make them coach you on how to talk to them.
[00:07:45] Gabby Reece: Did, do they know, or is it take time? Cause I would think that’s almost a skill that one would develop by practicing. Cause maybe if someone asked me first at this time in my life, I would know clearly, hey, the best way to communicate to me is this age.
But at 18, when I’m playing college ball, I’m, it might’ve taken me a second to understand actually what my language was.
[00:08:08] Greg Harden: And you give them that second, and you teach them, and you train them by asking questions. So, what I do, people, I don’t just tell people what to do or what to think I pose question after question and try to learn from them, who are you?
Who do you want to be? What is your dream sequence? If you could create your ideal self. If you could design who you are and how your life was going to work, what would be the ingredients?
[00:08:39] Gabby Reece: Do they even at that young age? Cause obviously it’s about success and performance on a field or a court, because then that would bring success either monetarily or for the security for their family attention.
So, they get pretty girls or boys whatever the things are that we drive us. Do they talk about relationships, or did they start to add that into the formula as well or not yet?
[00:09:06] Greg Harden: When I do a small group, I pose the question as to what are the indicators? Of individual success and they come up with their own list and in that list Off is easy for them to say I want a big car. I want a big house I want to make money, but I, Gabby I swear to you they go to I want to achieve my personal goals. I want to be able to influence relationships and build relationships and I want to be loved and I want to be cared for. And if they don’t, I keep pushing until they do. Someone in the group, the most difficult part of my job is to trust the group, to believe that someone in that group It’s going to hit that note that makes the song right.
And they always have somebody says, excuse me, I just want to be happy. Someone will say, I just want to be somebody that’s respected by others. And then it opens the door for everybody to process because it’s coming from the peer. The peer group is my most are my experts.
[00:10:19] Gabby Reece: And that’s really beautiful too, because it also opens the door.
You hear this in Navy SEAL training in BUDS that when somebody, I don’t want to say quits, but they’ve go, they get up and ring the bell and it’s usually at sunset when they know that it’s going to be dark again. But they say that when the first person rings the bell, which means they tap out, that gives permission to the other guys to do the same.
It, conversely, this is a positive thing where someone can be vulnerable or show a different type of goal and give permission to the others to give that permission. Are you able to cause we’re not object, like when it comes to family, cause that’s always for me, like the high a different type of art form is you can be more objective with your athletes or if you’re consulting a businessman.
[00:11:06] Gabby Reece: Are you, do you have a secret about how you’ve learned how to do that as a father? Because I’m smart when I’m objective and when it comes to my own kids, man, I watch myself sometimes and I’ve really had to learn from a lot of years of parenting to even touch it once in a while.
[00:11:26] Greg Harden: Wow. Gabby, you’re fascinating.
This is a very different conversation than I’ve had so far. And what we’re talking about is how do I train myself? So, to not just be worried and be, try to be their buddy and their friend and their pal, you have to train yourself and practice training and rehearse saying, no, you have to practice training and rehearse giving them the problem and not just owning it yourself.
I’m going to give my son the problem. I say, I will start off with, we’ve got a problem.
I’m pretty upset right now. Why do you think I’m upset? They know. You know exactly why I’m upset. I say, explain to me why you think I’m upset right now. I don’t know. If you don’t know, it’s okay. But I tell you what. I am not going to allow you to do anything until you Communicate with me effectively.
Oh, all so when given an opportunity to gain something, for example, here’s you’ll love this. You’ve got a teenager, right?
[00:12:43] Gabby Reece: I have three daughters and two are ones at the end of being a teenager. So, she’s I don’t want to say in the clear, but we have a real clear, easy communication now.
And so, I still have a junior. So, she’s just at the tail end of that little bit teenage -style.
[00:13:00] Greg Harden: Let’s pretend they don’t have their own car and they want to borrow your car,
[00:13:05] Gabby Reece: right?
[00:13:08] Greg Harden: Mom, okay. I just want to take a ride I want to pick up my friends and boomer and you say let me think about it mom No, I need to I already know.
Oh, so you don’t want me to think about it. I Okay, then the answer is no then you whoa, whoa wait mama see then, let me, I said, let me think about it. I have some questions for you but sometimes you have to say no, even though you want to surrender you want them to have what they want every now and then.
You got to take some lightweight things and practice. You have to practice.
[00:13:50] Gabby Reece: I’m laughing because my husband, I have a daughter that really takes care of her business. She doesn’t, I don’t catch her in weird stuff on the weekends. She’s not, I haven’t caught her lying or drunk or any of this. And she takes school. I don’t talk to her about her school. I don’t talk, she gets really good grades. Like she takes care of her business. So usually when she’s like on a Friday or Saturday and wants to go out, I’m like, yeah, go. And remember, I think daughters are also a little different than sons, but clearly. And my husband would be like, you’re saying yes.
And I’m like, okay, but do you have a very good reason to say no, because I have also found with daughters, for example, if you give them a no, with no real reason, I always say, then you can almost turn them into sneaky Pete’s they become good liars. If I try to be fair. But on the occasion, I have to say no, and I have reasons and I’ll even share it to a degree.
I find that they honor that because they know I’m trying to see it from their side. I think it is, that’s an interesting thing about the light lift. Because there are times that you just have to say no. When you talk to your athletes and then you say to them, hey, what would be the most effective way to communicate to you?
Were you able to ask your own children that and oblige that? Cause this for me is then you’re now you’re really talking about performance. If you’re a parent who’s so vested and you’re able. To talk to a family member, especially a child and say, I’m going to really try to honor you here. Cause you changed your diaper, right?
And it’s you must graduate with them. Are you, were you able to do that?
[00:15:36] Greg Harden: One of my favorite tools. I one time I was raising a young man who was not my biological I took him in and yeah, he was so smart that, instead of having a two-point GPA be the standard for him to participate in sports, I said that he had to have a three point.
He came home one day, and he had a 2. 7. And I said obviously you don’t want to participate in track and field like you said you wanted to. Oh, but, and he said look, I’m so sorry. But I said, no, we agreed that you would have a three point and you could participate. His coach calls me.
Reese, his coach calls me and he says excuse me, but the GPA for sports is two point and you never shared with me that yours was going to be different. And I said, what did you say? Coach called me and asked me to explain why his GPA was different from everybody else’s. And of course, I shared with him that he never asked me whether he should run 10 100s or, I say, so you don’t negotiate with me about how you’re going to run practice.
Don’t call me talking about how I’m going to run my household. This boy is a genius. And you may tolerate a 2. 7 from him, but that’s not my, that’s not my job. I say, so perhaps you should talk to him about his grades instead of trying to talk to me about your standard. Okay, that’s part one. Part two was because I love the kid.
I said, here’s what we’re going to do. You’re going to make a presentation. This is a 16, 17-year-old. I say, you’re going to present to me an overview as to why I should consider giving you an alternative. And you’ll also share with me in detail what your plans are to elevate your grades, Reese.
This boy made a present…. they didn’t have PowerPoints at the time. He got what do you call, remember the old flip chart? Oh yeah. Your boy went and got a flip chart and created the pros and cons and boom. And it’s established as to what had happened, why it had happened and how it would not happen again.
The other trick I use, and that was brilliant. He was absolutely brilliant. And I had to surrender to let him run track. The other thing that I encourage anyone that’s parenting or being responsible for someone, including an athlete, including a team, I would ask them to give me There’s going to be a punishment for what took place.
So, I would ask them, of course, give me your ideas of what you think would be appropriate. I need the least that could happen, the worst that could happen and something in the middle. Gabby, their lease would be worse than mine.
Oh my God. These kids they process, but you give them the responsibility of coming up with their idea of what should the punishment, what if you could influence what I do next. I’m not saying I’m going to do what you come up with, but I want your ideas about what’s the least that should happen because of this infraction.
What’s the worst that you think should happen? And sometimes it’s far worse than what I would have come up with. And sometimes it’s so good that you let them have it. And that’s teaching.
[00:19:46] Gabby Reece: Because they’re part of the process. They’ve taken accountability. I always say my coaching college was like always just about personal accountability.
That’s a really interesting strategy. I’ve done that a little bit as a parent. Okay. So, I want to move now into the performance part. First, what made you change? Did the coach call you and say, come on, Greg, we need you here. We need the football team needs you. What was the switch that they say, no, we’re going to give you a bigger opportunity to truly communicate with these athletes and impact them and not just, we’re not just doing what we’re supposed to do here.
[00:20:26] Greg Harden: Absolutely, Gabby. What happened was I, they said, could we meet and chat? And of course, I said, I’d be glad to. And I have 21 questions. I’ll be there. And I need to review because. If this is your drug program, this speech is, this is what a drug program looks like to me. So, if we’re not talking about prevention, intervention, and retention, if you’re not going to tell me what would happen to a young person if they raised their hand and said, oh, this is an amazing speech and I need help.
If you can’t tell me exactly what’s going to happen with this kid, if you can’t tell me how you’re going to support this kid, then we’re going to have a problem. And so after giving them my idea of what a program would look like, the guy says what would you like? I said, I need six sessions. He laughed and said, I’ll give you three.
You’re going to give me three sessions, which okay. And I don’t need a group of 140 individuals. I need them in the smaller groups and then we’ll talk to them about more than this is a drug, and this is what it does. And he said, all right, I’ll give you a shot. And I said, and this was Bo Schembechler, one of the most famous coaches of all time, Schembechler, I said and sir, you and I will decide what I do in those sessions. It won’t be me. It could be me, you, and whatever experts you want involved, but I’m not going to come in and fantasize that I should be running this. We will do this together. I say, but most importantly, sir, what I would like for you to do is be the one that introduces me and then I want to kick you and all the coaches out of the room.
[00:22:16] Gabby Reece: It is intimate. It’s very intimate.
[00:22:18] Greg Harden: And so, I say, but most importantly, I didn’t play in the NFL. I have zero credibility. You’re going to give me instant credibility. He says, Oh. Yeah. So, he introduces me, and he gives him the right that you’re going to listen to this guy by gap free and you’re going to and this is you.
And I said, thank you coach for the introduction. Would you now leave the room? Got it. And he walks out the door. Gabby, I turned to the group, and I said, what just happened? They said, dang, you must be the guy. And that’s how it started.
[00:22:57] Gabby Reece: What did you, after working with college athletes, because about 1 percent of them will play professionally and maybe in a program like that from one year to the next, maybe they have a really good group class that maybe more 2 percent goes, but typically it’s about 1% I would think. And then I, what is the average career in the NFL? 3. 2 years or something really insane. So, not for long. And so, it’s this interesting thing of you really talking to them about developing their full selves as human beings and all the hats that they wear.
Maybe for young men, it’s a student and a son and a friend and an athlete. But you’re saying in order to perform better on the field, which is the motivator at this point, you really must be your best human. You must perform the best that you can as a human being. How, what does that look like?
[00:24:01] Greg Harden: All right, buckle up. I have an athlete from the West Coast of the United States. Who was whose family business was crime and he was not a video make believe gangster. He was a real bonafide U. S. grade-A, choice and, but he had an amazing gift in, in, in his sport. And they brought him in, and I couldn’t understand why you wouldn’t even recruit this kid.
They said, you got to see how he plays. I said, I got it. He immediately was true to form and. He immediately got in trouble, and he immediately tested positive, and he immediately fought everybody on the team, and he immediately rebelled against authority. So, he had to sit with me a lot. Miraculously, somehow, he started shifting and changing just enough to be eligible to stop being, drawing attention to himself.
And so that was a nice little story. And then about a year and a half, two years goes by. He’s not in trouble anymore, and it’s, and we bonded, and I’m all happy joy, but he keeps coming. I can’t get rid of him now because he’s got a mentor. He’s got an ally, an advocate. So, one day he comes in and he says to me what are you doing?
Gee, I said, I’m just sitting around waiting on you. What else would I be doing? He comes in and unfortunately, it’s summer. And I’m bored. That’s not good. I said, my man, let me talk to you about something. Everybody here thinks you’re dumb as a box of rocks. He said, yeah, I know. I said, and you don’t care, do you?
Nah, I said, but you might be slow. Your role player. I said, no, I’m not saying you, I say, but we have no data. We have no evidence. Have you ever been a student? No. Have you ever committed to it? No. I say, we have nothing else to work on. Listen carefully, we’re going to use academics to make you a better athlete.
You got to be kidding me. I say, you’ve never heard anything like this. I said, no. I say, I tried to teach you to give a hundred percent in the book. 100 percent challenge, 100%, 100 percent of the time at everything you, so what if we use that formula to, because you got to go to these classes and you trying to be eligible, it’s got to be boring as all get out, I say, what if you turned yourself into a student so that you could practice, train and rehearse mental discipline, self-control, self-motivation.
What if we use academics to transform your mind, how you think, shift your mindset to being able to give a hundred percent of the stuff you don’t even like? You are crazy. I said, yeah, but we got nothing else to do. So, we work on it all summer and a little bit into the fall, and I forget about it.
Nine months later, Gabby Reece, he walks into my office and says, gee. I said what? He said, I’m on the dean’s list, fool!
I’ve had some great experiences. I’ve worked some with some amazing human beings. We cried and we laughed, and we giggled. No one knew what was going on, but we were, he was ecstatic. He was beside himself with joy and the thrill of proving that he could do something that he didn’t think he could do.
So, you train people to give 100 percent if the things they don’t even like, and if they can train themselves to try to give 100 percent at those things you don’t even like, what happens when they get to the things they love?
[00:28:19] Gabby Reece: Do you have to be a little bent, broken, something to prove to be really great?
It doesn’t even have to be negative. But I wondered if you ever thought, yeah, we got to have something in us.
One of the things that you will notice is that some of your favorite athletes, some of your favorite entertainers, high performers are outliers. Outliers make it happen. You don’t want to be like everybody else.
[00:28:50] Greg Harden: You got to be a little bit off center to for, it appears for a lot of people to make it to the next level. But you also open the door to talk about the four A’s, which is part of the book. The four As are the need for attention. Everybody, anytime someone says every and all, they’re about to say something deep or stupid.
Everybody has the need for attention. Approval, affection, and acceptance. Now I’ve made a fool of myself. Pick one. Okay. Pick two. Okay. All four. And I’ve risen to the highest level of performance. Pick one. Pick two. All four of those can be part of your motive. They’re motivating forces. The quest to have attention, to being recognized, to be seen, the need to be loved and cared for and have people like you.
The need for the approval of others and get that paycheck on time. You work 40 hours, here’s boom. But ultimately, what do we want? acceptance. Yeah. And so, we are driven by the four A’s, but we also get to the point where we have to teach people at the end of the day, there are people who you know, Gabby, that are the best at giving other people attention, affection, approval and acceptance, but they’re not good at giving it to themselves. So, in the book, we get you to the point where we talk about self-love and self-acceptance as one of the secrets that’s not a secret, but we also take you to, you covered so much with your question. You fascinate me. You ready for this?
You also brought up fear. The greatest enemy you have ever faced in your life is fear and self-doubt. You’ve had all kinds of opponents in your life, but if the one in the greatest competition we have ever faced is between your ears, after injury, recovering, all the things that you’ve had to do to keep going, define age, define everything and be pushing through and conquering the world over and over, conquering the world in your own dome.
That’s the challenge. So, what we begin to teach anyone that’ll listen is that instead of telling people, don’t be afraid. We teach them, stop being afraid of being afraid.
[00:31:25] Gabby Reece: Do you think through time, like this is the other thing that I’ve, I wonder if you have this conversation with athletes, like what athlete have you worked with over the longest period, maybe from a college athlete to a professional Desmond Howard.
Okay. So, you know how I always say we must change our motivation a little bit, I believe because we grow up, we’re different. The expectations are different. The responsibilities usually are greater. And we can’t be like mad about our dad or our mom or something. I think after we get to a certain point, I think we must change our motivation.
Do you have conversations with an athlete? Let’s use Desmond Howard as an example. He also seems Like a happy guy where it’s what’s your new why? Getting athletes to reassess and reestablish a new why?
[00:32:23] Greg Harden: What we do, and remember, this book is not about athletes. This is about everyone.
Everyone in our lives who want to upgrade to be peak performers in whatever is important to them. But think about this. If your programming is to give a hundred percent of the time at everything you do, we just switch the focus because if I’m going to be in radio, television, and film, I got to be the best.
If I’m going to go and write a book, I got to be the best. If I’m going to become a parent, I want to be the best at it that I can be. If I decide I’m going to marry you. I’ve got to be committed. And so, some people have to be reminded to train themselves to always give their absolute best at everything they’re doing. And some folks don’t.
[00:33:25] Gabby Reece: You talk about that. We’re inherently lazy. It’s almost like we must have a game plan to follow because I think it is hard every day to get up and be like, here we go. I just think there’s a couple people that have an interesting mechanism, but even the great, a lot of great performers, CEOs, whoever people think, Oh, it’s easy for them.
And I don’t think they realize that they just have put a system in place so that they can show up.
[00:33:52] Greg Harden: Here’s a great example. There are days when Gabby doesn’t want to work out and that was gaze. Gabby has a routine. I know this is what I do every day is I have no interest in working out yesterday.
[00:34:09] Greg Harden: I got all the excuses within. And so, what I’ll do is I’ll put on that gear. I said, at least I’ll put on the, once I put on those clothes, the transformation began. I don’t know what it is but get putting on my workout gear. I said I can at least do a little bit today. I do a little bit. Next thing you know I might as well do a little more.
Since I’m doing it, I might as well do it right and give everything I’ve got. And even though it was a struggle, once it’s over, the sense of accomplishment is unbelievable because I didn’t want to do anything. But I had, which you said, an organized discipline routine. I’ll at least put on the clothes and maybe I’ll take a walk. Since I’m walking, I’m warmed up. I might as well lift a little bit. But it opens that door.
[00:35:13] Gabby Reece: People have to, we always say in our house, there’s only one first day. And I think sometimes if we’ve gotten behind, if we can just do the first day, there’s only one of those. And we can build upon and putting that uniform on in your book.
And now branching away a little bit from athletics is you mentioned, stop being afraid of being afraid where it’s like. Yeah. I, of course, who wouldn’t be afraid? Why wouldn’t I feel that way? Of course, I feel that way. And that’s okay. And you talk about focusing on control, the controllable. This is a big one.
[00:35:50] Greg Harden: Yes, it is. Because it talks about who’s got control over your mind. Who’s got… You’ve got to stop… We have to stop letting anyone else decide how I feel about myself. That’s the one thing I have control of. There’s a lot I cannot control. But how I feel about me? How you feel about you, that has to be under your control, how you respond and how you react to chaos and difficulty and challenges.
That’s your decision. No one can make you feel inferior.
[00:36:30] Gabby Reece: Let’s say a kid you deal with, like you said earlier, a story you deal with. And again, I’m just using the athlete as an example, but people deal with, they grew up in a household where nobody said, you know what, you can do it or you’re smart or I believe in you.
So, do you have – is there ways or tools that you give people? Because it’s almost rewiring your inner language and your brain almost.
[00:36:59] Greg Harden: Gabby, stop you nailed it. You’re you train people to their inner voice. Again, if the enemy within can’t stop you, nothing can. And so, when we talk about fear and self-doubt, when we’re talking about negative self-talk, we train, we can’t, we teach people to document how often that negative thought attacks.
It’s a fascinating piece. I’ve given people a little bitty notebook and say, every time you’re negative, a voice shows up, jot it down and catch yourself. And now, the first thing I’ve got to tell you. You’re going to be stunned at how often that voice shows up. Don’t get upset and have negative self-talk about your negative self-talk.
Stop. Don’t beat yourself up. I need you to be fascinated by how often it shows up. And now, and then after that, we’re going to train you to not only document it and catch it. We’re going to reduce how often it comes and how long it lasts. We are deliberately and intentionally going to listen to how I talk to myself, how I beat myself up, how I worry about things I can’t control, and I’m going to deliberately shift and let it trigger a new habit.
[00:38:18] Gabby Reece: What is so interesting and so simple and really so difficult Is just what you said, which is, it’s almost apologizing or being like, oh yeah, there’s that voice the minute that we stop running from whatever the thing is, it does diminish and get smaller and yes. And even be like, oh, I think that’s why meditators in some ways have a different advantage because we’re not our thoughts and they just go, oh, look, there’s that thought and this thought and people don’t realize to your point, if you practice this a little bit, just observing it, yes, you depower that thing so much very quickly.
And I really appreciate that point because a lot of people. We’re all walking around chirping inside our heads. And this is the number one thing I think that hurts a lot of us.
[00:39:16] Greg Harden: It does that inner voice has to be, it has to be trained to give you the affirmations, to be confident, to be assertive in your commitment.
To loving yourself. See what, and it sounds so simple, but you have to get to the point where self-love and self-acceptance is the cornerstone that you’re building from. I don’t, I hope people like me. I hope you like me, but if you don’t, I’m going to be okay. I’m confident and clear about that. What we’re also trying to teach people is to get to the point where they become the world’s greatest expert. On one subject themselves, they know their strengths and their weaknesses better than anyone. And some of my weaknesses might be how I talk to myself and to identify that’s one of my patterns I would need to change.
And let me close by getting you to this point. You ready? The only creature I ever heard of that can decide they’re not going to be the same today as they were yesterday is a human being. A dog going to be a dog, a lion going to be a lion, but a human being is the only creature I ever heard of who could deliberately and intentionally decide to change.
If I don’t like something that I see in the mirror, I can do something about it. And if I can’t do it by myself. I can ask for help.
[00:40:50] Gabby Reece: So, people will see a guy like Tom Brady or Michael Phelps and think, Oh they’re just great. They’re just great. They have the things to be great.
They have the physical, they have the mental, emotional, the drive. Are there things though, that is it, is there secret sauce that goes into athletes like this, where we are just every day householders could be like, oh, I could implement a little bit more of that and be more dynamic or more I could perform at a higher level.
[00:41:24] Greg Harden: Let’s be real clear. What the question is what’s the difference between these amazing humanoids in the rest of us? The difference is that not only are they hungry, they’re humble, which makes them coachable. Tom Brady, clearly, if you just look at his body type, he can’t outrun you, he can’t outjump you, he can’t outlift you, but you can’t catch him. Wait a minute, what’s the difference? The difference is you can measure ho much he can bench. You can measure how high he can jump, how fast he can do a 40, but you can’t measure this, and you can’t measure his heart.
[00:42:18] Gabby Reece: I guess I want to just ask if fun, if fun, it also, if you encourage people to make fun, a part of, there’s two things, fun, a part of important in performance. And there’s something you said that I think is very important that I don’t want to miss. You talk because you go, Oh, I’m a CEO. I’m a football player. I’m a star, whatever. And you’re saying, That’s great, but your identity, I’m trying to make you perform as good as you can in this environment. But that’s not who you are.
[00:42:47] Greg Harden: Your self-worth and self-esteem must not be based on performance. How I feel about me, Gabby, you have lost contests that you knew you were going to win, and you had to decide and you’re not, you hate losing, but you don’t hate yourself.
We lost. But next, the ability to understand how to let go of yesterday’s baggage is part of an art form. How, being able to, if you’re afraid to fail, you’re afraid to succeed. And that’s what we teach anyone that’ll listen.
[00:43:26] Gabby Reece: I love that. And what about fun? Is it important? Or is it just grind?
[00:43:31] Greg Harden: Okay look, I’m going to get in trouble. Are you ready? Cause I, this is not a… A two-second answer. I know I got to go but listen carefully. Can you imagine trying to convince a hockey player to have fun? Now, when they were 15, they were having fun. But now I’m in college and now I’m in the NHL and you mean have fun.
I had this kid who had the audacity, and it takes you back to another part of your question. And it’s how do you get people to really own, own everything. And I had a kid who was just like Tom Brady who says, the coaches don’t believe in me. I don’t think the coaches like me. And I said you didn’t come here to be liked.
And why should your coach believe in you if you don’t believe in yourself? The hockey player says to me, hockey’s not funny anymore. The coach is taking all the fun out of the game. I say, so you’re telling me. Wait a minute. How old is your coach? Huh? Oh, no, 45, 55. Sure, what’s the likelihood of your coach changing? Zero.
I see. So then, you’re telling me you’re giving someone’s personality power over how you feel. Err. I see. So, you’re giving this person, whose personality sucks by your standard, permission to make you unhappy? I say you don’t understand power. You don’t understand power and you certainly don’t understand control of the controllers.
Where we have to take you is this is what we’re going to do. Now I don’t know a jack about hockey. Yeah, I know you don’t. I say, all right, this is what you’re going to do. I want you to piss off everybody on your team at practice today. What? I want you to have more fun than anyone on the ice. No one is to enjoy practice more than you.
You’re going to confuse your coach. You’re going to confuse your teammates. And you’re going to have a ball. And then when the next game comes, I want you to have more fun than anybody on the ice because it’s fun to be the king, fool. He said, you’re crazy. I said, try it out.
This is a true story. He goes to practice. He does it. People think something’s wrong with him. And I said, you’re going to be an outlier, my friend, and everybody else all intense and tight and tense and all up, and you’re going to be out there flowing, having a great time. Okay. He goes on a couple of days; they have a game. He goes to the next few games; things are getting better.
Three games later, he has a hat trick. That means he scores three times. in a hockey game, which is a major accomplishment. Now, his father, who was a pro hockey player, who had told him, this guy doesn’t know what he’s talking about, telling him to go have fun, calls me up, telling me, boy, I don’t know what you did, but my son is so happy and enjoying himself.
Of course, the kid that I’m talking about is in the NHL and doing extremely well.
[00:46:43] Gabby Reece: I think that’s it. It’s a grind. It’s a commitment, but it’s also real. Enjoying the, that whole process. So, Greg Harden, thank you for your time. The book is “Stay Sane in an Insane World”. And I appreciate that you’re also still having fun.
[00:47:01] Greg Harden: Oh, you can tell you, you already know. Thank you so much, Gabby. Your questions were outstanding. I love you. Thank you.
[00:47:11] Gabby Reece: Thank you. Aloha. Bye.
[00:47:15] Gabby Reece: Thank you for listening to this week’s episode. If you wanna learn more, there is a ton of valuable information on my website. All you have to do is go to Gabriellereece.com or head to the episode show notes to find a full breakdown with helpful links to studies, research, books, podcasts, and so much more.
[00:47:33] Gabby Reece: If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out and send them to at @GabbyReece on Instagram. And if you feel inspired, please subscribe. I’ll see you next week.
About Greg Harden, Peak Performance Consultant
Greg Harden is a life coach, motivational speaker and executive consultant who is best known for his work with 7-time Super Bowl champion quarterback Tom Brady, Heisman Trophy winner and Super Bowl MVP Desmond Howard, and 23-time Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps. Harden began work as a student-athlete counselor in 1986 when Michigan legendary football coach Bo Schembechler brought him in after hearing of the work Harden was doing in the local community helping people deal with the challenges of everyday life and work as a clinical therapist. He meets with hundreds of athletes every year including some of the greatest athletes and coaches of all time in their respective sports, like Jalen Rose, Olympians Emily Brunemann, Jeff Porter and Olympic legend Michael Phelps to name a few.
Michael Phelps’ swimming coach Bob Bowman, credits Harden for helping him to communicate better with Phelps. Bowman said of Harden: “He’s a miracle worker. He made me a better coach and a better person.”
Besides sports, Harden has provided performance coaching to corporate executives and community leaders. He has trained hundreds of managers and administrators on ‘managing trouble employees’.
Harden has this phrase framed on his office desk: “Control the controllables.” It’s no use railing against the system, or against circumstance, Harden says. You can only change what’s within. How you control your emotions, reactions and responses to systems and circumstances is what you must master first.
“My real obsession is to convince an individual that they have to determine for themselves what sort of man, what sort of woman they want to be. The goal is to make people experts on themselves.”