Podcast 956: Hunting Discomfort: How to Get Breakthrough Results in Life and Business No Matter What with Sterling Hawkins

My guest for this podcast is an author, investor and entrepreneur, but most importantly a keynote speaker – Sterling Hawkins.

Sterling also is the founder of #NoMatterWhat movement and the author of Hunting Discomfort: How to Get Breakthrough Results in Life and Business No Matter What. He shows people how to achieve the results they want regardless of the circumstances which he know it works as he experienced it himself – from multi-billion dollar startup to collapsing to coming back to launch, investing and growing over 50 companies.

With this, Sterling wants to help and inspire people through different platforms like public speaking and writing. His book Hunting Discomfort shows readers how to get comfortable with discomfort to create breakthrough results in life and business that despite all uncertainty, all of that chaos, all of the disruption, we still have an opportunity.

Get to know Sterling and his works more by clicking here to access his website.

I hope you enjoy this engaging interview with Sterling Hawkins. Thanks and happy listening!

THE BOOK

Hunting Discomfort will show you how to:

  • Expand your reality
  • Commit so deeply that there’s no going back
  • Surround yourself with those who hold you to your potential and nothing less
  • Use roadblocks to your advantage
  • Flow, flex, and pivot to the best possible outcome—no matter what

THE AUTHOR

Sterling Hawkins is out to break the status quo. He believes that we can all unlock incredible potential within ourselves, and he’s on a mission to support people, businesses and communities to realize that potential regardless of the circumstances. He also serves as CEO and founder of the Sterling Hawkins Group – a research, training and development company focused on human and organizational growth.

 

You may also refer to the transcripts below for the full transciption (not edited) of the interview.

Greg Voisen
Hey well Welcome back to Inside Personal Growth. This is Greg Voisen in the host of Inside Personal Growth and on the other side of the screen is Sterling Hawkins. Pardon me Sterling Hawkins’ had something in my throat. And Sterling is joining us from Denver. Good day to Sterling. How are you?

Sterling Hawkins
Good to see you, Greg. Thanks for having me on. Very good. Well..

Greg Voisen
He was introduced to me by Alex Webber. And Alex was recently on the show. And we're going to be talking to Sterling this morning about his new book called hunting discomfort. And the tagline to that book is how to get breakthrough results in life and business no matter what. And his TASH hashtag is no matter what

Sterling Hawkins
You can probably tell, right?

Greg Voisen
off and you can tell from the back of his screen. Also, for those of you wanting to go to his website, just go to Sterling hawkings.com. And there you'll learn more about him. You can book him for events, he's got a store, a blog, the industries he works in, and where he posts at no matter what Sterling and let the listeners know, just a tad bit about you. Sterling Hawking's is out to break the status quo. He believes that he can help unlock incredible potential within ourselves. And he is on a mission to support people, businesses, and communities to realize that potential regardless of the circumstances, from a million multimillion dollar startup to a collapse, and coming back to launch, invest and grow over 50 companies, Sterling takes that experience to work with sea level teams, with some of the largest organizations on the planet, and speaks on stages around the world is based in Colorado, and is a proud uncle of three and a passionate adventure. And we'll speak about some of that all the things he does skydiving, climbing mountains, shark diving, and even trekking to the Sahara Desert. Is that correct? That I get? That

Sterling Hawkins
is correct. Yeah. Like it always sounds better than it feels doing it sometimes. So?

Greg Voisen
Well, you know, I, one of the things you know, is I'm working on a book Life on the precipice with a bunch of mountain climbers one mountain climber in particular. But I've interviewed many. And, you know, it's interesting, when you have this curiosity, which is really required of any entrepreneur that you work with is curiosity, kind of leads to their purpose. There's a lot of things in between, but it leads to purpose. And I think, people that are constantly curious, they want to know, they like to ask questions, they're inquisitive. Those are the people that are good to have on your team. Those are the people that you want to have now, you were involved in a family business that went through tremendous growth, and then complete and utter collapse, as you kind of just basically said, you tell us a little about the business, your learning lessons in the family business, and why you now believe that experiencing discomfort, because there's going to be some naysayers out there that are going to say, well, I don't know if I want to experience discomfort is the way through your problems. I think discomfort seeks us out. And we have to learn how to work with that. But yeah,

Sterling Hawkins
and I would agree if we're not hunting discomfort. It's haunting us.

Greg Voisen
Yes. Yes, it is. I am a perfect example of that this morning. I was a little bit frenzied. You know, and maybe it shows a bit, but there was fraudulent activity on my debit card. Oh, if you know your whole world is run by this business debit card, right? And you have to shut it down. Right? And you say discomfort? Yes, it's inconvenient. And there's a lot of discomfort associated with it. So that's a minor one in comparison to the ones that you that you went through. But speak with us why you think people you know, we're at a severe advantage if we avoid discomfort.

Sterling Hawkins
Yeah. Well, a couple of things. Probably the biggest piece of feedback I get from people that just see me in passing or maybe just see the title of the book is Sterling. You got to look at my business, my bank account my relationships, my family, like I don't need to hunt discomfort I'm surrounded by Yeah, and my answer is always the same. Oh, you mean you're living with discomfort not Hunting it, when you hunt it, you are forever and permanently free from it. And that's really the point. There's this paradox about discomfort the more you hunt it, the more you seek it out, the more you go through it, the less you actually feel it in the long term. And that's the power of this stuff. And I think that's the only place true freedom really exists. And, you know, to go back to your first question, Greg, I did not pick discomfort. If anything, I wanted nothing to do with it, I wanted comfort. Certainly, I wanted a successful life in terms of having enough money and a nice family and you all the things that many people want. And I did start a company with my dad, this is early 2000s. Now, and we sold it to a group in Silicon Valley, where it became part of a conglomerate was no longer a family company, although my dad and I were still involved. And it was essentially the Apple Pay before Apple Pay. It was a little fingerprint sensor that sat next to the credit card terminal. So you didn't need your phone, or anything else. And you just put your finger down. And just like Apple pay your credit cards would come up loyalty cards, all the relevant things right inside that credit card terminal. And people would look at this thing. Potential customers, clients, even investors and say, this is the future. And so we had money thrown at us from the private equity world. And we went on to raise, again, this is a much larger group that I was simply a part of 550 million US dollars, multibillion dollar valuation. And at this point, Greg, I'm thinking, Yeah, I don't need discomfort at all, I've got this whole thing figured out, I understand what my life's gonna be about. I'm gonna buy a private jet, maybe an island, like, clearly I'm the next Bezos or at least on my way. And then, you know, like we said earlier, if you're not hunting, discomfort, it is hunting you. And I had pushed it off, not dealt with it for so long, and so many pretty large ways. That when the discomfort hunted me, it came in force. When it was around the housing market collapse. We couldn't raise any more money, we didn't have enough organic growth to sustain the 700 people, we had offices all over the world, and the entire thing went bankrupt. $550 million of cash gone. And I really didn't know what to make of it. Especially at the time, like I thought that I had defined myself. I didn't just think that I knew I had defined myself by the success of this company, who my friends were the things that I had. And so when it came crashing down, I totally collapsed. I completely lost my identity. And it was kind of like I was playing out the sad country song of a story where I go from this big, beautiful penthouse in downtown San Francisco to my parents’ house. I no longer have a job, of course, eventually run out of cash. My girlfriend breaks up with me, it was like one thing after number. After another, I'm hitting every single beat of this thing. And it wasn't until kind of I hit rock bottom, at least what rock bottom was, for me where I'm at my parents’ house. It wasn't the house I grew up in even it was a new house they moved into I've got my suitcases and boxes in the room. And it's the first night. And frankly, I don't know if I can or even if I wanted to go on. It was some of the deepest, darkest moments of my entire life. And it was in those moments that I learned that not only is discomfort necessary, but going through the discomfort of letting go of who I thought I was what I thought I was capable of what I thought my potential was limited to going through the discomfort of letting go of some of those things that gave rise for me to be able to become something better, something new, and it was really the start of hunting discomfort of my own something that very obviously has become very near and dear to my heart.

Greg Voisen
Well, yeah, it's an interesting story, because I think many of the listeners out there maybe can't relate to the scale. But I went through several because I was a serial entrepreneur and still am. Yeah. And I had one very similar to yours. You know, I'm sitting here listening to you, and I'm sure there's hundreds or if not 1000s of listeners out there going. Yeah, hi. I know what sterling is talking about. And there was a there's a Buddhist saying, you know, the pain and suffering, which we basically create is our way of only understanding how we can get out of the pain itself. Free. Right, exactly. So when you're in that, and I probably didn't quote it correctly, but in essence, you know, you, you have to learn from this pain and suffering. And you're saying hunting, it is the big difference. And that's where I want to go with this, you tell a great story in the opening to your book about speaking in Singapore, to a very large conference. And this was after the collapse of the family business, you were getting yourself going again. And you mentioned that you got the gig by answering a spam email. And for some reason, I remembered one of your mother's sayings, there were two in the book, but one is yeah, don't take a Wooden Nickel, which to me means. Which means done by falsely being persuaded or duped into doing something right. So you say that something that came to mind was the way out is through, or the way out is the way through? So what is it about going through the discomfort and getting to the other side of the unknowing? That brings us the results that we've been looking for?

Sterling Hawkins
Yeah. Well, so in those moments at my parents’ house, you know, I think I went through a lot of thoughts and a lot of emotions that many of us have experienced things like, I'm not good enough. I'm not enough period. I've messed this up. This being this business, my life in general, the things I was working on, and also

Greg Voisen
all the other people's lives, you said, 500 employees, your father was involved with it as well, right. And I had the same feelings when all these people can't be paid. Right? Or you're closing the doors, you feel like a utter failure, because it wasn't this, this was not, you know, your, I say your attachment to the goal is the thing that creates the pain and suffering, because you felt you had this aim in this goal, you're gonna reach, and you were so attached to the outcome. And the outcome didn't happen the way you wanted it. And they save it in the ballpark. They say, don't get attached to the outcome and understand how impermanence in your life. Everything's impermanent, right? And so, you know, we walk around all day long thinking, oh, well, we got all this great stuff. It's, it's impermanent, and we're attached to this outcome. And then we're extremely disappointed and depressed. Right? It doesn't work the way we thought it was gonna work

Sterling Hawkins
exactly. As, you know, just a little distinction there. It didn't just feel like I was a failure. Like, I was a failure. Like, it felt like the truth, right, not just a perspective. And it, you know, to your point was a view of myself and where I was that I didn't want to let go of it. And that's what I think drew out this. This, this failure into something that could have been maybe months into something that became yours. And you're right, it was probably because I'm living in my parents’ house. The phrase my mom said, came to mind the way out is through. And if I wanted to get out of this, I was like, okay, well, let's put this thing to the test. Like, let's test drive this thing and see if the way out really is through. And having all this self-doubt, fear of exposure, which I was medicated for at the time, I'm no longer I figured, okay. I'm going to go speak in public somewhere. It was my biggest fear. I was like, what Seinfeld says one of the people that would rather be giving the eulogy than in the coffin, like, of all the things in the world, the last thing I wanted to do was stand on a stage because I felt like a failure. There was a lot of shame, there was an embarrassment, all the things that have gone within, so I get this spam email. For a conference in Singapore, I'm sure they sent out 1000s 10s of 1000s of them. And I'll never forget, I hit the Reply button. I said, why don't you have me speak best Sterling? And I don't know what I expected. I kind of forgot about it. But long story short, I ended up getting on the phone with a conference director and negotiate to be their keynote speaker. Maybe it was because I literally had nothing else to lose. I was in six figures a personal debt at the time. And I remember when they sent the agreement across Sterling, you're going to speak on this date in Singapore for this many minutes. I had like all the self-doubt came crashing down on me. Like, who are you to speak at this conference? Like why are you going to go let more people down? You're not credible. You don't have speaking experience, not to mention you're terrified to do it. And before I let the self-doubt stop me which I think is a good practice for everybody. I signed the agree Amen, I committed in a way where there was no going back and I sent it back to them. And when you do that, when you commit in a way where there's no going back, it calls you through whatever discomfort is in front of you. And it probably will call you into some of the actions necessary to take to move through it and be at least somewhat successful in it with for me, it was practicing this speech I was going to give and writing it and rewriting it doing the slides. And Reg, I was like obsessed with this thing, I must have practiced that 1000s of times. And when I get there, I'm still dreading it. But it is a good thing that I practiced because I think I blacked out on the stage, like, I do not remember, after the room started to spin, and I got really hot, like, I don't know what went down on that stage. And I think I failed. And I'm kind of covering my eyes like this, and just tried to make it towards the exit. And I want to get on a plane and go home. Because I've just now let down more people and embarrassed myself and all these terrible things. And the conference director makes a beeline for me, he goes Sterling. I gotta tell you, that was the best speech I've seen in all my years of doing this. I couldn't believe it. And to this day, I don't think he was in the same talk that I was in. I think he just wanted to say something nice to me. But he did go on to put me in touch with all of his conference director friends. And I had the beginnings of a speaking career on my hands. I was like, my mom was right, the way out is through. You just need the courage and the commitment to go through. It's interesting

Greg Voisen
how you frame that, even to this day, he told you a great and there's still that self-doubt, what I find unique about it is the subconscious is so can be so programmed by you know, by what I say. And you even talked about this in the book. Right? And I know because I go to a hypnotist every time I go under surgery, if I have to have skin cancer, and I had a cataract removed the other day. And I go to I go to Hickman therapy first to reprogram the subconscious so that everything is perfect. And it is I'm sitting here today smart, like four days later. Hey, I see you perfectly everything's fine. Right? Wow, my point to that is that it's so imperative the listeners, and I want him to hear this because you talked about in the book. It's like, how are you going to reprogram that subconscious? What are you doing? Right? And that self-doubt that we carry around? And who knows? We've carried around stuff from when we were kids when our parents said no. Right? They said, no, you can't do that. You know, you want to do this? No, it's too dangerous. No, right. Yeah. And that's what you know, that's what comes through. So I think you state in the book that when we hunt discomfort, it strengthens our discomfort muscle. And right here. That's right. And which increases our capacity to handle greater and greater amounts of discomfort. Yeah, why should someone have to seek discomfort to get the results they're looking for? And what is in it for them? That's what I want you to answer. It's like, okay, if I'm gonna go do this, and I'm going to strengthen this muscle I get it I'm strengthen a muscle. Now I can do you know, 100 push-ups. Yeah, but you're telling me let's go hunt discomfort. And so I get that when discomfort comes, you should be able to handle it with a lot more

Sterling Hawkins
ease. Right? Well, in you'll maybe be free from the emotional constraints of it. Right, like discomfort is promised to all of us in this life, you know, the end state of which none of us are getting out of this thing alive, right? This comfort will be there. And I think that between us and the results that we want. And I mean, results vary generally could be money, time, better spent deeper relationships, maybe just more joy and happiness. It's not having enough money, or the being the right age or having the right mentor or the right connections. I don't even think it's just grit and determination. Although all those things might be critical. I would say the one thing that's between you and any of those results that you want is the discomfort that you're avoiding. And when you go through it, you get better. You kind of prove yourself wrong, you prove that self-doubt wrong, and you get better at it. So you can continue to do it to continue to grow over time and not only Greg was this my personal experience, but I'm sure you read in the book, I found this research at the University of Michigan, right, and they were studying my favorite topic of discomfort. And they would look at physical discomfort, emotional discomfort. And they were scanning people's bodies and brains as they were going through this discomfort. And what they found blew me away. No matter what kind of discomfort somebody was experiencing their bodies and brains, processed it almost identically. So much. So you can take acetaminophen for emotional pain. Right? Now, I'm not a doctor, that's not a bio hack. That's not even something I suggest you do. In fact, I suggest you don't do that, right. But what I do suggest is taking that next step to say, okay, if where we meet discomfort is the same everywhere, we can grow our capacity to deal with it anywhere. It's a muscle you can build, right? You go to the gym to build your biceps. But if you want to build not just your resiliency, but your ability to create breakout growth, break the status quo of yourself, personally, your business, your family situation, if you want to be able to kind of make these quantum leaps in performance and results. You hunt discomfort, there's just no other way. So to answer your question, very directly, like the reason you do it is because that's where all the results are.

Greg Voisen
Okay, so I remember, it's been a while ago now, Jonathan Fields was on here, an author of a book around uncertainty. And I want to talk about what actually creates discomfort? Yeah. Because from a psychological standpoint, okay, yeah, there's discomfort if something happens to our body, I get that. There are those kinds of discomforts, there's discomforts, in training, if you're doing excessive training to climb a mountain or grind Everest, or to do that, I get that. But then there's this mental discomfort, which is the biggest one, which frequently they say 99% of what you worry about never just happens anyway. Right? But yet, we still worry about it. Because the mind is programmed, we have this kind of limbic system, as ancient beings, that we still are, and it's taken us millions of years to evolve to this point. To not do that. It's not I guess, it's a conundrum, to say, okay, because we are going to default to certainty. And we're, and the body is going to default to homeostasis. It always wants to go back to homeostasis after you've pushed it, right. Yeah. Thank God it does, because it's there to protect us.

Sterling Hawkins
Yeah. Or maybe it becomes a new homeostasis,

Greg Voisen
Maybe a new one. Maybe it's true. But what this this, where is this discomfort in your estimation, psychologically coming from? Yeah,

Sterling Hawkins
I think you said it evolutionarily. It makes a lot of sense. You know, arguably, it's the reason that we are all here. Because the discomfort of running towards the lion on the African savannah did not end well for our ancestors. Right? Avoiding discomfort was a means of survival. Now, I think here's where we went wrong. In let's call it the caveman days, they were forced to deal with whatever the source of the discomfort was. Or they just would perish. There was no other way it was a driver. Having them deal with the problems that they had. Ah, I've got the discomfort of hunger, I better go find something to eat. I've got the discomfort of I don't know maybe being lonely like I better find a tribe to connect myself with or I'm not going to make it so it was driving behavior. Now, in modern times, we have the let's call it a luxury of being able to avoid discomfort. Right in theory, I can work here on Zoom I can order food via UberEATS and I can be entertained on Netflix like I don't have to go anywhere in my comfort level I can keep pretty well maintained and anything that's a little bit uncomfortable. I don't necessarily need to deal with the source of right it's not a life and death matter that you know I have that uncomfortable conversation with my mom that I've wanted to have for years for example.

Greg Voisen
But so in the level of discomfort Sterling I had a social biologist on here Rebecca Costa wrote a book called the watchman's rattle and on the verge. She an interesting thing about what she said to me, and it goes right along with this is that as a species do Global Warming, all of the stuff that's happening, that we are avoiding. What happens is the discomfort level has to get so high before we take action, and I keep thinking to it, how in the hell is stupid is that? Right? Least to a point of whatever. Yeah, that's just the way as social biologists were made up, look how long it takes to take action on anything. Look at the current gun control laws. And you look at just sitting in Congress and spinning around and nothing happening again, right? You're like saying, how much more discomfort and pain and suffering does there have to be? But we're, as human beings, we take action I get, there's got to be many people that agree on it. And there's all the politics and bullshit, but just thinking your own life have shifted, hits you that you brush under the rug, and then it hits you again, and you brush it under the rug until it gets so frickin painful that the attorney says to you, and this isn't my personal case, my. My listeners know this. Yeah, I think it'd be good if you file bankruptcy. And I was so afraid to file bankruptcy, that I just I kept avoiding it. You know, you just keep doing things to do it. When if you would take the action when it first starts to show. Yeah, you know, you following what I'm saying? Boy discomfort. Yeah. And we keep seeking pleasure.

Sterling Hawkins
Right. Which if you look at any of Dr. Gabor Montes work, he would say that avoiding that discomfort that's deep within us is the source of all addictions. And addictions in the medical sense, for sure. But I think I'm maybe the same mechanism, but a lesser impact for all of us. Right, like, I'm avoiding the discomfort of this bankruptcy. So I'm going to distract myself with doing these other things, right. Or for me, I'm going to avoid the discomfort of having to like, come clean and talk about like, I don't have the money to go out to dinner anymore. With you know, the fancy friends that I had. I would rather watch Netflix and order a pizza. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. And when you get to the core of that discomfort, sure, you can wait until the world just comes crashing down on you and you're forced to move, or do your point, Greg, we can go after some of those things when they present them early. And the more often we do that, the better we get at it.

Greg Voisen
Agreed. And that's the point I was trying to get to the more often you frequently address the issue and the sooner. In other words, all those discomfortable things don't have to be as discomfortable.

Sterling Hawkins
Okay, right. And you'll be free from them. Yeah, right. Like, right, like you don't have to deal with? Well, in my case, living at my parents’ house in my 30s, which is not a good look. Right? I could have dealt with it, maybe in a more like in the short term or more painful way, but in the long term, less discomfort over time.

Greg Voisen
Yeah. Now, in the book, you state that discomfort is the only thing between us and the results we want to achieve, and that there's five key discomforts that we will encounter that will keep us stuck. And what can you do about changing our reality and our lenses of belief that drive the actions associated with

Sterling Hawkins
that? Yeah. Well, let me just pick up on the lenses of belief for a second, because that is how beliefs work just like lenses, lenses, and well, your glasses and my contacts, you know, with the first thing is that the glasses, and the beliefs change what you see, right, if I were to put your glasses on, Greg, I would probably see worse if you were to put my context and you would see worse as well.

Greg Voisen
You want an example real quick one, Sterling. Yeah. So before this cataract surgery, obviously things were blurry. But the after the cataract surgery, yeah. Now in this eye, this one I, yeah, the colors are just top. Everything is like, it's like what happened to the colors over the course of 68 years, right? They just like literally started to kind of change, but you didn't notice it, because it changed gradually. So you put on this new lens and then all of a sudden, you're looking at your computer and you're looking outside and you're looking at the flowers and the bees and stuff and you're going what happened?

Sterling Hawkins
It's a pretty good example when you change the lens, right? And what's your perception can be when you change the lens of belief about one of three things either yourself or others, isn't it dividual or as a group, or the world, you have a very similar experience like, wow, I cannot believe the vividness, the potential the possibility that I can now see. The other kind of analogous component with lenses that I think's important is that you and I, many people go to the eye doctor to regularly have your lenses adjusted. Right, I was just there last week, actually. And they said, Great, we're gonna change your prescription a little bit. Fantastic. But how often? Are we taking off our lenses of belief, stepping back from the things that we believe to evaluate? Is that the best belief for us? Or is that most the most effective belief to get to what we want? And when

Greg Voisen
I read that statement, sorry to interrupt. Yeah, no worries that the ophthalmologist said, your eyeglasses are obsolete now. Well, just like your beliefs are obsolete when you change the lens. Right? He didn't say anything else. He says, Go get some cheaters to look at the screen, or whatever. He said, but you don't need him.

Yeah, yeah. Well,

Greg Voisen
you had, right, you're running around with a belief, it doesn't matter. You have to have a corrective lens. But I know what you're saying, because we're carrying beliefs from so many years that have piled on us. Right. And we've been running with those beliefs and creating our reality as a result of those beliefs. Yep. That we used to have a say and saying that at the school I went to for a spiritual psychology degree, which was, you don't have to believe everything you think. Now I love that statement. Because it was like, hey, I think a thought that thought doesn't need to become a belief. Right? But for some reason, you grab on to one of those. And there's another one, and there's another one. And there's another one, there's another one. Before you know it, you've built your house, around your beliefs,

Sterling Hawkins
right? Oftentimes, unconsciously. So right? If you were to put on 10 different pairs of glasses, you would know it, right. But these beliefs, especially the ones that are really make a difference for somebody are so deep and oftentimes things that we've held on to for so long, you don't even know you have them anyone. Right. And you know, I think it is worth calling out that the lenses you've had got you here, right? They did work to get you right to this point. Or maybe got you to your appointment where you had that corrective surgery, Greg, like they work to an extent, but to go with to the next level, in anything, right in your ability to see, make money, change your relationships, you're going to need new beliefs to be able to reach that.

Greg Voisen
Yeah. And you know, you quoted this Dartmouth College professor Prophet, Patrick commoner, Kavanaugh, and this really goes along. He said, it's really important to understand we're not seeing reality, we're seeing a story that's been created for us. Yeah. What advice do you have to the listeners about questioning their stories? Now we're talking about beliefs and stories, and the subsequent changes that they can make in their reality? Because like, if I'm living this story that's creating the reality. If I create a new story, I can create a new reality.

Sterling Hawkins
Right? Yeah, yeah. And not just in like, I'm going to change my mind kind of way. Right, I see all these positive quotes and affirmative positive affirmations, and so on, on social media and Instagram, and everywhere else, and it's fantastic. But sometimes it seems like Oh, I'm just supposed to change my mind or change my story. And anybody that's been in a difficult situation, or any situation knows that that's not really an easy thing to do. It's not like, oh, I thought this now I'm going to think this. You've got to go through a process to really release that. And, you know, the first step, and we call it out here is stepping back from it. You know, take some time for reflection, take a sacred pause, meditate, do something to try and step a little bit back from those beliefs and start to question them. I think that's the first step. Something that I think could help with that. Can I mentioned the quiz we have online, Greg?

Greg Voisen
Yeah, definitely. We don't forget that. Yeah. Well,

Sterling Hawkins
so you know, we've built our lives and by extension, our business, avoiding discomfort, because when we were much younger, as you point out, or maybe just earlier in our career, we didn't feel very good when we felt discomfort. So we make decisions we attach ourselves to beliefs like oh, well, I'm not going to do That again, for me, I'm not a good public speaker, I'm definitely not going to do that again. And then we live that way. And the blind spot for many of us is that we forget we made those decisions, we forget what those beliefs were that we attach ourselves to. So we put this really short hunting discomfort quiz together online. It's 15 questions, you go through, answer the questions at the end of it, it'll give you some sense of what that discomfort maybe the invisible discomfort that's been in your way of the results that you want to achieve. And, of course, the quiz, it'll give you some direction of what to do with it.

Greg Voisen
So just go to Sterling hocking.com and fortunately.com. Okay, just go.

Sterling Hawkins
Yeah, if you go there, it'll pop up on the home screen. It's really easy to find. If you've got any issue with anybody can email me at Sterling at Sterling hawkins.com. And happy to get you pointed towards a quiz or talk with you about any questions you might have.

Greg Voisen
I think there's probably listeners out there and Me included because after I had a couple of collapses, doing startups, you know, the anxiety attacks started to happen. Oh, yeah. And they got so debilitating. That I ended up going to get biofeedback. And the best thing I ever done did was become a devotee of self-realization fellowship and start the meditation practice. Beautiful and meditation versus being hooked to the wires. But here's the thing. I want to address a very sensitive thing. And action that triggers an anxiety attack. Now because the anxiety attack is so painful, it debilitates you. You know, I was, at one point, I wouldn't even go in elevators, I wouldn't take clients to lunches because I'd have these things that make me feel like I was having a heart attack, my heart would race I would sweat, I get upset stomach go signal these feelings very well, right. So I had these for a while. And I finally went to Scripps and got hooked up with all the things. And I've said this before to the listeners. The fear associated the fear associated with one of the attacks is triggered by an event which is falsely in your mind that that event is actually triggering that. So these become an almost a horrible cycle to try and break. Yeah, right. And you obviously have had these yourself, because you're gonna have had Yes. And all I can say to the listeners who's having anxiety attacks, versus the medication, I'm not saying go off the medication for your doctor. But there are so many ways through meditation, chai tea, Tai Chi, Yoga, alternative practices, long walks in the woods along the beach, that you can control these, and you can get out of them. We've had experts on here speaking about them. And I know there's alternative ways, but a lot of doctors just like to say, well, here's a pill, go take it, you know, and we'll fix your anxiety attacks. And I'll tell you, I personally, I'm not giving medical advice here. But I personally would avoid going down that road.

Sterling Hawkins
Yeah, taking some of those pills. I think what was making you go to sleep. Right? Right. Well, it's a way of emotionally not having to deal with the discomfort. Yes, it doesn't, it doesn't help you, you might feel a little bit better. And again, I'm not a doctor, not medical advice, like all those things, right? But for me, it didn't it maybe assuage some of those uncomfortable feelings, but it left me in the same situation that I was in. I didn't have to deal with the source of that discomfort or that anxiety.

Greg Voisen
It's true. And I rather tell people, you know, I don't. Again, I said, yes, I've gone through hypnosis many times. Yeah, try something like that. It's going to your subconscious, because that's where this is being triggered as a result of some fear. Okay, yeah. So, you tell a great story in the book about Ludwig van Beethoven, and the correlation of self-doubt. And you said, self-doubt. I'm gonna go. Can you tell the story and why self-doubt is the no man's land of indecision between belief and disbelief? Yeah. And what are the eight telltale signs of self-doubt? And if you don't remember all the, but I'll just tell the people go buy the book.

No, he didn't

Greg Voisen
want those questions where I asked for exactly eight of this.

Sterling Hawkins
Right? No, I've got it here. So let's unpack that a little bit. The first, I think, self-doubt. Is it inherently a bad thing? I think it's something that can tell you what's really important to you. If I don't care about something, I promise we don't have a lot of self-doubt around. So it's a little bit of a compass orienting us towards like, hey, I must really care about this thing, this business, this speech, this relationship, whatever it is, like there's something here for me that's deeply important. Now, the trick is not letting that self-doubt stop you. And Beethoven is a great example, you know, famous composer, most everybody has heard of him, heard his music, and so on. But there's a movie about a romantic interest that he had. And apparently, it was, like, sorted love affair. And you know, nobody could know who it was. Maybe she was married to somebody else, like some of the details around it are unclear. But it was clear from some of Beethoven's writing in his journal, and so on that it was somebody that he really loved deeply. And in the movie, and in some of my research, I found that he had written a love letter to this person, basically saying, like, let's meet here, let's, you know, run away together of sorts. But he never sent the letter. It was found in his desk drawer, when he passed away. The person on the other side of that relationship never received, it never knew how he felt. And in the period of his life, where he wasn't sending this letter, and he was dealing with all these feelings of self-doubt, and probably things along the lines of Will she liked me, I don't know, if I should, what will it look like in society, as he was struggling with all of those things, and not sending the letter not taking any actions about it, it led to the most unproductive period, in his musical writing life. traced back to the times when it happened. Now, thankfully, after years, he came back to writing music became very prolific thereafter. But I think it's the same for all of us. When that self-doubt stops us in one area, it becomes debilitating becomes like a, an anchor, or an albatross holding us back from reaching the potential that's really inside of us. And so if that can happen to somebody like Beethoven, it can happen to all of us.

Greg Voisen
Well, you know, I deal with business owners all the time, because I consult them. And yeah, you know, as they get older, let's face it, I'm a lot older than I am 68. July 3, that the reality is that happy belated birthday. Well, yeah, the reality is, is that are you relevant? You know, what is relevance mean for you? In other words, they've built this baby grown, it doesn't matter how many employees, whatever it is the company, it's a wrap about the fact that they were needed. They were irrelevant. They were, you know, and that question comes up in succession plan, people that are measured on saying, hey, I'm gonna give this to my kids, or I'm gonna sell it to somebody, I'm gonna do whatever, what am I going to do? And there is this period of adjustment, where it's almost like grieving, the loss and grieving you something. Right?

Sterling Hawkins
Yeah. So the parts of your identity? Well,

Greg Voisen
in your case in mind to several times, right businesses, oh, we were tied up. We were associated with his XYZ business. That was us, right? That was everything. And when it goes away, and you end up living with your parents in a, you know, 10 by 10 room, and you're like, okay, things are a little different here. Yeah. You know, you tell a great story. And I loved this story. And fifth grade, you were to make a presentation about Harry Houdini. I love to Dini as well, and all musician, magicians in particular. Yeah, you were fascinated by the figure in history. And something happened that day that had a permanent implant in your psyche. And when I say permanent, maybe not permanent now, but it seemed permanent at the time. Yeah. Can you tell us a story and speak with the listeners about the types of exposure discomfort because I thought that was an interesting one. It's like, hey, I'm supposed to get out in front of the classroom and do my presentation. It's like, Ah.

Sterling Hawkins
You know, I think what was so interesting about that is when I had that big collapse, and I was afraid to speak in public, I could have said, like, oh, well, I'm just afraid to speak in public because I have just been through this. But that's not where the discomfort originated. And I would say that's true for all of us, at least all of us that are of any of any age, that discomfort started somewhere. Nobody came out of the womb, and they're like, oh, this one's afraid of speaking in public. This one has self-doubt. Right, right. Those discomforts those big leaves started somewhere and the closer we can get to the root of that discomfort, the more access we have to really being able to move through it and ultimately let go of it. And for me, I've done a lot of work around this stuff, I work with a lot of leaders tracing some of these things back for, for me, I found that public speaking came back to this experience that I had in fifth grade. And in fifth grade, I was not afraid to speak in public. In fact, I was so excited to speak about Houdini in this class presentation, that I wanted to be the last speaker because I was sure it was going to be the best. Had a lot of confidence around it was excited, prepared a ton. And when the time finally came, I'm the last presentation. I get up into the front of the room. I've got my I think I was dressed as Houdini and I went so far as to like handcuffed myself behind my back because I was going to do like a big Tada at the end, like I'm out of these handcuffs. And I see that red light click on in front of me. You know, and those big old school camcorders. That's what it was at the time. And I didn't know what to say. I forgot

Greg Voisen
your present, yet you got over it. No written over it.

Sterling Hawkins
I practiced a ton. I did everything things that I thought I was supposed to do. But looking at the, you know, 25 pairs of eyes of students in the room and a couple of teachers and the red light on that camera. I went blank. Yeah. Now, as a teacher, it probably wasn't a big thing. But for me, it was literally felt like the end of my life. Yeah, like if I could have disappeared in that moment, I would have. Again, it was debilitating discomfort. I don't know if I ever gave the rest of that presentation. I do remember getting really hot, the room spinning somebody having to come up and like help me out of the handcuffs like I totally collapsed. And then when I say story, when I saw that I was like, that's where that started. Like unconsciously I made, I attach myself to a belief, I made a decision that I'm not a good public speaker. And I should never do that again. And if I do something like this is assuredly going to happen again, I'm taking something that happened way back in fifth grade. And here I am in my 30s and putting it out there in my future saying now I still can't speak in public. Yeah, not realizing that that's what I was doing. So like I said, I was stuck with that discomfort. I wasn't free from it

Greg Voisen
all the way to Singapore.

Sterling Hawkins
Exactly, exactly. I think there's two ways in

Greg Voisen
which you got through the one on Singapore

Sterling Hawkins
Exactly. One is a little bit of exposure therapy, like you've got to find that discomfort expose yourself to it to really understand what it's like. And the second is do kind of the work that I was just sharing, like get to the root of that discomfort. Yeah. And where did it start? And you know, just to answer your questions about, you know, what are some of the telltale signs of where can I see my fear of exposure popping up in my life, you look for things like being afraid to break the status quo. That could be like asking why, hey, we've done this for 50 years like this, or I've done this my entire life in this way. Obviously, I'm supposed to do it that way. But stepping back and asking why and having or going through the discomfort to do it is one place. You might look at doing something new, especially something that you are not good at. If you're afraid of that that's a little bit of fear of exposure coming up telling the truth saying no asking for help really trust things, somebody with something or with some information about yourself. Like all of those things can be a signal that, hey, my fear of exposure, my fear of somebody seeing me for who I really am, is something that's dangerous to me. Now, there's a big confusion with many people have something that's just uncomfortable versus something that's really dangerous. And I would say in most all of these cases, when we talk about fear of exposure, it's not actually dangerous to you, it might be dangerous to your identity, but your physical well-being is not at risk. Right? It may be uncomfortable, but it's going through that discomfort that again is going to be the location of the results that you want.

Greg Voisen
Well, it's so true. I mean, I come upon Albert Einstein's quote, which it's not exact, but he used to say keep doing things the same way and expecting different results is the definition of insanity. Yeah, right. So what you're saying is the exposure is the way to change the way that you do something. And I would agree. You know, I had an incident like you it's seven years old. They were as an argument in the family between my mother and father I got in between which I shouldn't have. And my father picked me up and went against the wall. And I did conflict avoidance. Yeah, almost my life. Mm hmm. Right? It's a very easy what you don't realize that it's seven years old. When you get to be 30, and 40 years old, and you see what you're doing, you really realize you're saying, why aren't you willing to address that person? Why aren't you? What are you avoiding? Why are you avoiding that? And I would, I'd ask people to really think about, what are you avoiding? Because the things that you're avoiding are probably a result of something that happened somewhere that you put into the psyche, that you just have a hard time getting rid of?

Sterling Hawkins
So right? Well, I would go so far as to say it is never what happened to you. It was never, you know, getting in the middle of the fight with your parents, it was never me forgetting what to say, in fifth grade. It's what you said about it. It's still the lens of belief, the decisions you made from that moment that can and do shape your life, at least until you break free of them.

Greg Voisen
It is it's what you tell yourself over and over and over again after the event. Right, exactly. And that becomes in permanently implanted in your subconscious, which then creates the actions. So there, there's where you end up. So look as a kid. I love the show MacGyver to, just like you as my favorite. We always found a way to fix something I was obsessed with what were such creative solutions. That's me, because I'm always asking questions. Think about both the common way we avoid challenges as well as the mistakes we make when addressing challenges. Can you speak with the listeners about being a better able and apt to face challenges? Instead of avoiding. We're just talking about that, because Halo for 40 years, 30 years, I avoided conflict. Yep, I didn't know how to deal with it, go the other way, or let someone else do it. That didn't work.

Sterling Hawkins
It doesn't work. And yet, oftentimes, we'll find ourselves doing it over and over again. And avoiding is one way you can see it. And I would define avoiding as seeing something that feels potentially uncomfortable and stopping or going the other direction. But we can also dodge it, right see it and then delay dealing with it for a period of time, we can deny we have it at all, we can excuse it and make excuses for yourself like, oh, I don't deal with conflict that well, because of XY and Z. All of that may be true, but it doesn't get you to be better dealing with conflict. And also when we deal with contempt, like we have contempt for some of the changes challenges that we have in front of us. And there are several things that are kind of mistaken ways or flawed ways from addressing some of the challenges that we might face. But the biggest that I see, is solving for the consequence, not the cause. A friend of mine when I was writing the book, she was going to the dentist, and she was grinding her teeth at night. Like she knew it, the dentists do it. And what the dentist’s solution was for her to wear a mouthguard while she was sleeping. Now, that solves the problem. But it doesn't solve the reason she was grinding her teeth to begin with. Was it stress in a relationship or at work? Was she sleeping wrong? Like what was it that was at the core of what she wasn't dealing with. And to be fair, the mouthguard may have been the right choice. Like sometimes you do need to handle the consequences of something. But unless you get to the core of what's causing it to begin with, you're just putting band aids on things, and it will not get better over time. Frankly, it'll oftentimes get worse.

Greg Voisen
Couldn't agree with you more. And it takes a lot of courage, many times and especially relationship issues to address those and come up with solutions or work your way through it or whatever it is, you know, there's nothing more painful than a family going through divorce and the kids being separated and spending time in between and trying to work that out. So what you would say is carefully choose those relationships before you go down the road a little bit further. You know, the book is filled with great advice Sterling. And there's takeaways from each chapter and just for my listeners at the end of the chapters, there's takeaways. You have his Quizlet his website, which I'm in encourage all the listeners go to Sterling hawkings.com And we'll have a link to that we'll have a link to the book and Amazon as well. But what the You want people to know about discomfort at will allow them to navigate through it with potentially less pain and suffering? And if there is pain and suffering, how to cope with it in a way that changes their reality for the better?

Sterling Hawkins
Yeah. Well, I think one of the important things for me, at least in a lot of the people and companies I work with, is how you actually understand discomfort, like what it's telling you. And the automatic for many of us is no surprise like, oh, that's uncomfortable, I'm going to move away from it, avoid it or deal with it in some backhanded way, which means I'm not really going to deal with it anyways. But according to some research out of Yale, when you are uncomfortable, when you're feeling those feelings of discomfort, maybe the butterflies in your stomach or your heart racing or you get hot and sweaty, like whatever those symptoms of discomfort are for you. The research at a Yale says that in that state, you can learn four times faster. Discomfort is not something to be avoided. It is literally the state of discomfort is literally a superpower to getting better, faster and stronger. And when you

Greg Voisen
leave that Harvard study, say what's going on inside chemically with inside your system, because I know, you know, there's certain chemicals, you know, we there's endorphins, right, that's the I that's not coming from discomfort, there's cortisol, which Rest is your system, usually during the fear, or associated? What did they say in that article, if you can remember about what's actually happening physiologically, with our systems under these high levels or degrees of discomfort?

Sterling Hawkins
Yeah, so I don't remember the chemicals in the brain. It was actually a Yale study. I'm sure they were cited. Yeah, it was more than it's telling your brain and your body like, this is really important. You need to pay attention to this. And when you're in that state, you just get better at learning. It's important to you now, I think humans have it from like a survival standpoint. Right? Like, I need to survive this lion on the savanna. Or I need to find food right now. Right? But the same mechanics gives all of us the ability to learn faster to grow faster. I mean, had I known this, Greg, I think I would have been sitting in the front row in college on a bed of nails like, like give me discomfort because it is a superpower to get better.

Greg Voisen
Yeah, it's it just amazes me all the time, the people and the events that I've seen, and what I was gonna recall was the guy that did it for Red Bull that went um, what was it like five miles and jumped out of the balloon?

Sterling Hawkins
Yeah, right. Yeah, in like the space suitors. Yeah,

Greg Voisen
but the amount of preparation, you can imagine the discomfort I mean, come on. Yeah, you know, if the if one thing went wrong, or this went wrong, and testing all the things, and I watched another guy from Google do it as well. And I kept thinking to myself, you know, it was you say hunting discomfort. I don't think you could do anything. More seriously, both physical discomfort, emotional discomfort, physical discomfort. All of it has to be associated with Well, I'm just gonna put the suit on and jump out and sing it five miles in the air. Don't worry about what's going on in our psychology, even though he may have like said, hey, well, we have the parachute. We've got this. We've got that. But there's so many things that can go wrong, right. So it'd be it would have been great to maybe put electrodes on that guy and it seemed what was actually happening physiologically in his in his body. Baumgardner was his name. Baumgardner was the guy. Yeah, I've seen the video. It's incredible. It is it is. But you know, Sterling, you've given our listeners much to think about, and I'm just gonna tell them go to the website. Do the quiz. Now is the quiz leading to some kind, of course. Is there anything that you've created? Or is it mainly just okay, this point,

Sterling Hawkins
right, like I'm not selling anything, I do work with usually executive teams at companies and companies around how to shift their culture from a culture that avoids discomfort to one that really goes after it. And unsurprisingly, results in huge gains and performance. But you know, like I said earlier, anybody's free to email me contact me on the website. If there's some way that I can help. I'm happy to contribute.

Greg Voisen
Thank you so much for namaste to you. I appreciate you, Sterling. And can you talk again soon have a wonderful rest of your day?

Sterling Hawkins
I can't wait. You too.

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