Joe Jacobi Olympic Gold Medalist Simple Slower Less

Joe Jacobi Olympic Gold Medalist, Simple Slower and Less #034

Show Notes:

My guest today is Joe Jacobi. Joe was a member of the US canoe team at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, competing in the C2 slalom event. He and his partner captured the gold medal, the first American team in Olympic history to capture a gold medal in white water slalom.

In 2000, Joe was named ‘Paddler of the Century’ by Paddler Magazine. In 2010, he became the Chief Executive Officer for USA Canoe/Kayak, the national governing body for Olympic level paddle sports in the United  States. Jacobi served as an analyst for NBC Sports coverage of Canoeing at the 2008 Summer Olympics.

Joe is a performance coach, collaborating with leaders and teams to create and perform simple and clear plans that move them outside the noisy day to day rush of life and bring focus to what truly matters most.

Senior execs from Fortune 50 companies to business owners to world class athletes seek his help to improve performance and unleash their hidden talents and attributes.

‘Simple, slower and less’ is his mantra.

Topics explored:

  • Think of your work as a series of short sprints, not a marathon
  • The importance of rest and recovery
  • Sleep as crucial as fitness and nutrition
  • Jim Loehr: High performance sport and the corporate athlete
  • Don’t let the times you’re ‘on’ run over and on top of one another
  • Change your disposition to perform when you need to
  • Zero or One
  • Everything can be a practice to get better at, even sleeping
  • What’s the easiest way to exercise that muscle you’ll use in a bigger more dramatic way in high pressure circumstances
  • Block out the space is the first step in doing Deep Work
  • Lessons as CEO of USA Canoe Kayak under the US Olympic Committee
  • The importance of the story you tell yourself
  • Small steps forward, no big jumps
  • Insights from the Pyrenees; Simple, slower and less
  • Hone your technique in flat water to perform in the rapids
  • Perfect your technique to be more efficient over time
  • In a time trial sport, I don’t bring a stopwatch
  • If you aren’t blinded by the targets and goals, what would you do differently?
  • Practice in less consequential situations
  • The river as a metaphor
  • Alignment and co-existence with the uncontrollables
  • The river as the best life coach
  • Focus on the start line, be fully present in yourself before the chaos



Joe Jacobi 0:00
Welcome to the dealing with Goliath podcast. The mission of dealing with Goliath is to sharpen the psychological edge in business leaders with skin in the game, who want to be more effective under pressure, uncover hidden value, and increase profitability with guest experts. from across the business spectrum we deliver gems of wisdom delving into their methods, their thinking and approach to business life and problem solving.

Al McBride 0:26
This is the grand a cup of insight, long form podcast interview where we take a little bit more time to delve a bit deeper into our guests experience stories and get those priceless nuggets for you. I’m your host Al McBride. Today my guest is Joe Jacoby. I was gonna say jack of all the Joe Jacobi.

Al McBride 0:50
Joe was a member of the US canoe team at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, competing in the sea to slalom event. He and his partner captured the gold medal, the first American in Olympic history to capture a gold medal in whitewater slalom. In 2000. Joe was named paddler of the century by paddler magazine.

Al McBride 1:13
In 2010, he became the chief executive officer for USA canoe kayak, the national governing body for Olympic level paddle sports in the United States. Joe served as an analyst for NBC Sports coverage, a canoeing at 2008 Summer Olympics is a performance coach collaborating with leaders and teams to create, perform simple and clear plans that move them from outside the noisy day to day rush of life and bring focus to what truly matters, senior executives from fortune 50 companies to business owners, to World Class athletes seek His help to improve performance and unleash their hidden talents and attributes. His mantra is simple, slower and less. So let’s dive in.

Joe Jacobi 2:05
We’re always like working and hustling. And, yeah, I think that there’s something to you know, there’s something more to it that, you know, your ability to perform, to come up with good ideas to be creative to make connections.

Joe Jacobi 2:22
That’s all based on the sense of doing but your capacity to do is very directly connected to your, your ability to be and to rest and to replenish energy not expended. And yeah, I think that I that was something that Alastair kind of intuitively understands. And I really enjoyed that part of our conversation.

Joe Jacobi 2:45
Yeah, it’s, it’s a very interesting point. It’s also sort of, it’s becoming more and more popular, now isn’t it with you know, mindful awareness. And taking time out being as important nearly, as you said that rest and recuperation time is the key area, I think even with, particularly with with sports is sleep. Now, sleep science. And rest is sort of now the third area with fitness and nutrition, right?

Al McBride 3:16
One 100%, I came across a really good book. Unfortunately, I really didn’t read the book until just after I retired from my athletic career, but it was very influential on my coach or coaching. And it was written by Jim Loehr And Tony Schwartz, the power of full engagement.

Joe Jacobi 3:38
And honestly, so Loehr was a sports psychologist, and he took a lot of, you know, techniques and elements of high performance sport and related to what he called, like what they called the corporate athlete. And so it really was about a book of transfer, but I was just reading it is like, Oh, I would have really liked to have thought about sport this way.

Joe Jacobi 4:01
Like for example, you know, they would talk shorts and layer would talk about things like, don’t think about your work as a marathon. Think about it is like a series of short, Sprint’s and yeah, you know, like that. And so one of the really big things that they focused on was rest and recovery. And that really kind of came out in so many different ways.

Joe Jacobi 4:27
And yeah, I think that it now it is becoming a lot more mainstream and a lot easier to talk about. Although I still worry that like we’re a lot better at talking about it than we are actually about doing it. And so rest can be in the form of sleep. But I think it can also come in in other kinds of breaks and other kinds of mindsets that we use throughout the workday.

Joe Jacobi 4:56
So it can come You know, in this world of zoom calls. If you if you have any sense of control over your zoom calls in your meetings, you know, one of my questions is, if you’re doing a 30 minute call, can it be 25, if you’re doing a 60 minute call, can it be 50 minutes and just start to think about putting buffers in between these moments in which you’re kind of designed to be on as, you know, letting the moments that are designed to be on just sort of run over and on top of each other.

Joe Jacobi 5:32
And then once you have that buffer of five minutes per 30 minutes, or 10, or 15 per hour, you can do certain things with those that can make a dramatically big difference in how you feel at the end of the day, especially when you practice them over time.

Joe Jacobi 5:50
Whether it’s something really small, like one minute of mindful breathing, whether if you have 10 minutes, and you can get outside and maybe get a couple of breath of fresh air, or maybe do some jumping jacks, or take a real lunch break, you know, and even if you don’t eat lunch, maybe you do exercise on your lunch break.

Joe Jacobi 6:09
And then also, then we can get into sleep as well. But these kind of you address these things over time and little, little steps consistently over time. They have, they completely change your disposition to perform in those moments when you want to be on.

Joe Jacobi 6:29
That’s a really interesting point that you make, you know, because I think a lot of people somewhat intrinsically want to have an on and off switch. But how, because this I remember on reports of which executives made were grossly more productive than not just marginally, but significantly more productive than a lot of their colleagues, ie the average, which was still pretty good for us as the top performers, a wonder number of different factors.

Al McBride 7:00
But remember, one of them was there much more zero or one. And this was the same with, you know, elite soldiers, and the same often with elite Elite with elite athletes, they could move from this fully on fully present fully giving 100% and not just boom, given 100%, but actual 100%, to then being off and done and clear.

Al McBride 7:24
So this is sort of the question for you. So a lot of people want that. But how do you know you’re, you’re, you’re off? Because often I see clients of mine where, you know, there’ll be on and doing stuff, and then I’m taking a break? or What did you do on your break? Oh, I was just answering emails around Facebook or something like this.

Joe Jacobi 7:44
I love this. Yeah,

Joe Jacobi 7:46
it’s not, it’s the cognitive switch that you need, am I right? What definition would you give your clients to make sure they know that they’re off? Is there a little acid tester?

Joe Jacobi 7:58
I love the spirit of your question, because so I sort of I sort of, kind of, I’m thinking about two things that are kind of embedded in your question. You know, first of all, that, first of all, is like the muscle memory it takes to schedule the break.

Joe Jacobi 8:16
Like if you’re doing that, like we’re getting somewhere, like that’s not a bad thing. And then secondly, we’ll get into the kind of things of getting better at what you do once you have you know, your break, whether it’s just a little bit of time, or you have more time because you’re right, you know, taking just kind of taking your email outside for 10 minutes in answering emails, like that’s not exactly a break, but I will say it is better than you know, being at your desk.

Al McBride 8:45
Okay. So it is a sliding scale. It’s not a

Al McBride 8:48
I think so. Okay. I think everything is a practice if if getting better and getting faster at whitewater canoeing is a practice I think getting better at sleeping is a practice getting better at resting is a practice. And so one of the first things that I’m always looking for with clients is like what are the what’s the easiest way to kind of exercise that muscle that you’re going to use that muscle you want to use in a bigger, more dramatic way in those higher pressure circumstances.

Joe Jacobi 9:21
But how can we kind of exercise those muscles in a much smaller way in a less consequential circumstance? So I’ll just give you an example. You know and we can also apply this to taking risks to a lot of times I’ll talk to clients about you know taking a little bit of time on their works in their work schedule for doing deep work deep thought deep reflection, you know, where they kind of tune out alerts, emails, you know, the ability to be deep work Cal Newport right here. Absolutely love, love, love Cal’s work and digital minimalism is is is such Important, we’ll dig into that as well. I know great Cal Newport, sorry,

Joe Jacobi 10:03
I interrupted there. But yeah, you

Joe Jacobi 10:05
know, yeah, and, and I said, Look, even if it’s only for five minutes, a couple of days a week or 50, really 15 minutes, a couple of days a week to really block that time out on the calendar. You know, it’s like you’re sending some messages to yourself and to others, you’re putting boundaries around space, it’s really important. And, you know, I think when we kind of look at leaders that we admire, who aren’t just being more productive or being more efficient, but actually seem to be really happy and living a rich life and living a good life, they often have these elements of deep work deep thought deep reflection in their lives.

Joe Jacobi 10:46
So I say, Okay, let’s exercise the muscle to kind of set the boundaries and put this on the calendar should then the really hard part begins, you know, when we, you know, we open up our journal, and we get blank pages, and we have a blank page, staring us in the face, or a blinking cursor on, on our, whatever our word, whatever the app is that we like to write on, you know, where we can just be kind of free and unstructured in our writing.

Joe Jacobi 11:18
And I always tell clients, we can get better at that part. But the first thing is, is to exercise that muscle of blocking out the space. And you know, you send the signal to yourself, you send the signal to others that this is important, this, this really matters. I think we can do this with deep work deep thought deep reflection, I think we can do it with rest.

Joe Jacobi 11:40
I think we can do it with sleep. And I can tell you and I’m not here just preaching a message, you were talking to someone that when I was the chief executive officer of USA canoe kayak, the national governing body for competitive canoeing in the United States under the umbrella of the US Olympic Committee, my first three years of working in that job, which was a five year I ended up doing it for five years.

Joe Jacobi 12:07
My nights were an absolute disaster, like the way like I everything from the time I walked in to my apartment in Oklahoma City at night to the time I woke up, it was like, an, it was like a manual for what not to do, from what I ate, to what I drank, you know, basically what would happen is that running like a big large membership, nonprofit organization, the night was like the start of a second work day, because everyone else who was working, you know, their regular jobs, the participants of canoeing in the United States, on the nighttime was their time to get all their Canadian work done.

Al McBride 12:46
On tier committees and board calls and things like that, and check, you know, the emails. And so like my nights, I had my laptop open, I had a phone open a tablet open, I had a pot of coffee going, I had the TV on. And not only did I not especially enjoy many of the people with whom I was doing the work, but I was exhausted.

Joe Jacobi 13:12
And I was just giving, I was just setting everything up in like, if you think I was setting up a good night’s sleep, like it was the exact opposite. And then I’d like fall asleep with all this technology on my bed, I’d wake up put the, you know, the technology away, but then I you know, be up stirring for an hour and like how we’re going to keep the lights on in our organization.

Joe Jacobi 13:35
Then you know, finally out of exhaustion, I would fall asleep again. And then I would wake up at, you know, seven in the morning and start checking the phone again. And it was just a recipe for disaster. And so I’m actually talking to you into the people who are listening to us from a real point of experience.

Joe Jacobi 13:55
It was really, really ugly, and honestly pretty embarrassing at times, like how bad like my nights, looked everything from going to sleep, the sleep itself and then waking up. And today, not surprisingly, I mean, I’m on the extreme other side of it. I mean, I have a lot of time in the morning available to be very mindful and to about, you know, to be very self investing to kind of keep voices out of out of my life for the first few hours of the day.

Joe Jacobi 14:27
I mean, I live in the Pyrenees mountains, you know, here in Catalonia and I have exercise of meditation. I have creative time you know, I have all these things. But I wouldn’t be having this conversation with you if I didn’t think that just waking up and taking the first five minutes of your day to just tune into your own voice of I wouldn’t be here today if I didn’t think that in itself.

Joe Jacobi 14:54
Repeated day after day could make a really really big difference for people as opposed to waiting Waking up with your phone waking up turning on the TV waking up and kind of putting the needs of others, you know, in the desires of others,

Joe Jacobi 15:10
there’s so many things to circle back to their job. It’s quite remarkable. One of the things that is exactly that. When you’re even setting aside, as you said, probably at the start there with clients, if you’re even setting aside 15 minutes, that’s 15 minutes of an action where you’ve scheduled it. You’re making it habit, which is interesting.

Al McBride 15:35
But it’s also it’s your involving agency, choice and action. Versus as you said, the opposite which all the more insightful that you actually live that horror show and unpleasantness as a way of being for a good while, have this reaction and overwhelm where, because you know, these things will never stop coming in. I mean, that’s, that’s the thing with LinkedIn, and Facebook, and you name it, email is there, it’s just constantly on and it will constantly demand your attention if you let it.

Al McBride 16:08
And for me, that’s kind of the the underlying principle of both deep work and digital minimalism and that whole movement that count newports a part of is where is the agency who’s controlling who here. And it comes back to that thing of, you know, once you have choice, you have control, once you have control, you have choice. And even just realizing that one moment of choice that you have, you’re taking back some of that control, and you’re less out of control, less overwhelmed, less in reaction, less all of those things. But fascinating stuff. It’s very easy. When was there a gradual process of retaking back that control for you? Or was it a big move and a big change? Yeah,

Al McBride 16:51
you know, again, and I think this is, you know, I, I’m, like my own best control group, you know, I mean, I feel like my life is sort of like, I’ve had these two extremes. So and by the way, I mean, I didn’t just, you know, quit my job at the low point, you know, with USA canoe kayak, I, I stayed with it, I wanted to figure this stuff out, not doing better in my work, I wanted to figure me out and start to do better work with USA canoe kayak, which I did, and then I left, which we can get into in a moment, but it was very small.

Joe Jacobi 17:24
But let me tell you the story that I kind of kept telling myself, you know, as I was put, you know, ultimately, as I was making a lot of bad choices, I was putting on a lot of weight. I was irritable, I was feeling a lot of stress, I was just taking care of everyone else and never taking care of myself. And the story I would tell myself is be like Joe, you’ve won the Olympic Games.

Joe Jacobi 17:50
You figure this out, like you’ve done harder things. And I just then the other side, and then on the other, you know, that was one voice on one shoulder then on the other shoulder, it was like, yeah, so why aren’t you? Why aren’t you starting? And so one thing that just happened, it was just I feel so lucky I was when I was the chief executive officer of USA canoe kayak, we moved the headquarters of the national governing body from Charlotte, North Carolina to Oklahoma City where Oklahoma City was investing hundreds of millions of dollars in their downtown Riverfront.

Joe Jacobi 18:26
I know you would never think of like the middle of the United States is this hub for canoeing, kayak and rowing, but it’s an unbelievable facility. And so we were we were located in the Oklahoma City boathouse district. And we were surrounded by a lot of employees that were kind of building this kind of urban outdoor Mecca, not just for elite athletes, but for regular regular people and to get healthy.

Joe Jacobi 18:54
And so in January of 2012, we did an employee wellness program where we would work out during lunchtime in one of the boathouse and one of the in one of the weight rooms of the one of the boat houses where the elite athletes trained. And it was perfect I went into it not with a goal to lose weight. I was just looking for a pattern interrupt the pattern interrupt of not going to the all you can eat Chinese food buffet orpizza buffet, but I’m just going to go show up at these lunchtime workouts and play sports and do exercise with my friends.

Joe Jacobi 19:33
And, you know, working out at lunchtime is actually a great time to work out but it has its drawbacks too because you know, you you know if you get all sweaty and then you got to take a shower and you know, get all like cleaned up for a second time in the day. And I just sort of was looking at other people I was working out with that.

Joe Jacobi 19:54
Were taking more time to do that. I’m like, Well, I’m gonna do this too. And so it was really just So I was doing it out of enjoyment. And so when I started to start moving my body a little bit, and it wasn’t like I was losing weight, or very quickly or making a lot of progress, but this is when I started to think about waking up. And I’m like, you know, if I just wake up five minutes earlier in the day, and in or with the first five minutes, instead of turning on the TV, what have I just write in my journal?

Joe Jacobi 20:27
You know, and I answer three questions in my journal, and I drink a glass of water. And then I take, I’ll go and start doing my day, as I used to do it, you know, pretty much because you know, I still have an important job. And I, that’s what I did, I journaled, and I drank a glass of water. And then if I, you know, as I started to do that, and this was kind of also mixing with the lunchtime workout, not in weeks, but over months, I did start to feel better and lose some weight, my energy was better.

Joe Jacobi 21:02
And then you started asking, Hmm, what else could I do? What would instead of waking up five minutes earlier? What would 10 minutes earlier or 15 minutes? What could I do with that time in the morning? So to your exactly, to your? That’s a long way of answering your question, it was very slow. And I and I think to the to that point, I’ll sort of kind of finish up on on this Al is that I use them on, I use two monitors a lot.

Joe Jacobi 21:30
One is small steps forward every day, you know, everything just seemed to happen in small steps forward, there were no big jumps, even my decision to eventually move here to Spain, which was a function of going to the gym and doing these lunchtime workouts.

Joe Jacobi 21:47
It started with that. And then it was like, what looked like a big quality of life move was really just like the next logical, small step. And secondly, one thing that I observe about my neighbors here in LA, say, oh, there’s Jay, who, these Catalans who live in the Pyrenees, I use three words to describe their way of life. And that is simple, slower and less.

Joe Jacobi 22:13
I was gonna ask you about that I very much got the feeling that was a mantra of yours. Wonder, could you just dive into that? So yeah, you move you move from the States. where, you know, I don’t generalize, but generally, like, Girl, bigger is better go bigger go. All right, right. And, and high, high ambition is very much a trait that’s held in high regard. And you move to two hours outside Barcelona. So Barcelona is pretty active place of service. And it’s pretty lively for you, and it’s an economic powerhouse of Spain, but you’re not even there. You’re toward the mountains. So what what? For that, as it’s very interesting that you said that it felt just like the next logical natural step.

Unknown Speaker 23:11
Yeah. So

Joe Jacobi 23:12
what what brought you to that point that that was so natural, rather than just this huge cognitive leap that oh, my God, total total culture change? And why was it so easy? Well, very simple. Not easy.

Al McBride 23:28
Yeah. Right. And I mean, there’s a really big difference between simple and easy to I think that is that that’s a tough one. Well, first of all, let me kind of say something about simple, slower and less, less it. I think it really is in the DNA of the people I with whom I live around here with you.

Joe Jacobi 23:52
Even if you look at the best mountain trail runner in the world, one of the best endurance athletes in the world Kilian Jarnet, he’s from this part of the world he was rent went to school here in La Salle, he was raised right around the bend, you can see off my balcony in the Pyrenees, and he’s 33 now and he’s just an amazing athlete.

Joe Jacobi 24:12
But if you listen to his podcasts or listen to him talk and his relationship with nature, it you know, I think even for people who have these ambitions that we associate with the United States of, of, you know, being more efficient, be more productive, doing more being faster. I would say that if you look at the people with whom I live, here, around here in Catalonia, I believe it’s simple, slower and less.

Joe Jacobi 24:41
It’s not necessarily a way for other people to live. But it is a great mindset and a great lens by or lens by which to look at what you’re doing. Even if your goal is to double sales, or to 10 x something or to do twice as much and half the time. You know what, whatever those kinds have goals are that I would say that this is these are really important words to pay attention to. And here’s why.

Joe Jacobi 25:08
Literally as I look over the top of my computer screen at you watching the best, whitewater canoeing athletes in Spain, come down the 1992 Olympic whitewater canoeing channel, and whitewater paddling whitewater rivers is this moving changing medium that is unpredictable. And, you know, you would you know, even athletes that we have athletes that I can see outside my window right now that are hoping to stand on the Olympic podium at the next year in Tokyo at the Olympic Games. And to do that, you would think, Okay, well, if you want to be the best at whitewater canoeing, you just got to train in whitewater all the time, like these big powerful rapids.

Joe Jacobi 25:51
And that would actually be incorrect. Our athletes in all over the world that are the winner Olympic medals, they spend a lot of time in flat water, where they can really control their technique, they don’t have to worry about getting their boats knocked over by a wave, they can really experiment with the body boat relationship with balance and how the boat sits on the water that can perfect technique and efficiency, they can do a lot more repetition because you know, the the water is smaller.

Joe Jacobi 26:25
It’s not like going into a gym and maxing out lifting heavy weights. But these are like paddling flat waters, like doing lightweight, high reps. This is simple, slower and less, we’re finding a way to simplify, simplify a very complicated medium. Instead of going fast.

Joe Jacobi 26:43
We’re learning perfect technique going really, really slowly. And by you know, in the world of less, we’re just taking away rocks, and we’re taking away features. And what we’re doing is that we’re focusing on the things that we can control and really get that right in flatwater, then take that package and bring it back out into the unpredictability of whitewater, then go out and practice those moves that way.

Joe Jacobi 27:09
But if all you do is practice in whitewater, it’s like you’re you’re going to be much slower in evolving your technique and your efficiency and really feeling the water. Because the one you’re always kind of looking at this rock that might hurt you or this hydraulic that might hurt you. And so it’s very easy for me to talk about talk with very with sales leaders who have very aggressive goals.

Joe Jacobi 27:38
I have a lot of clients at companies like HubSpot and Salesforce that have very aggressive sales goals. And yet, we have common we have conversations about simple slower and less as a lens of looking at what they’re doing. If technique is going to be a part of producing goals, why wouldn’t you slow down and perfect your technique and be more efficient with your technique so that you have a better chance of repeating it more efficiently over time?

Joe Jacobi 28:07
Would it be accurate to say that a lot of this is to to not just practice but to hone closer and closer to perfection, the fundamentals. So that as you said, on flat water you, you know, every millimeter of difference, you can probably learn to feel that you just couldn’t get a feel for when you’re being bashed around, and you’re having to react to all this other stuff coming at you when you got that fine tuning.

Al McBride 28:35
So the when you go back in the water, as I said, you you have this built up familiarity that otherwise you wouldn’t really be able to or you would but it would just take an awful lot longer. So I’m just intrigued then, as to how you parallel that into those clients in with say highly aggressive or ambitious sales targets. what’s the what’s the fundamentals equivalent for them is it is a few things they need to do is just concentrating on one or two things, what is it?

Al McBride 29:07
I think that there’s there’s a couple of things. And you know, one of the things that I kind of you quickly see about sales today is that all the people seem to have a lot of dashboards on their screen that’s kind of letting them know information in real time.

Joe Jacobi 29:25
And like we’ve been kind of trained to believe like this gamification of what we’re doing is like always helpful. And I should tell you for the tie, you know, occasionally I go out to the river and I still coach canoeing athletes a little bit. My coaching practice is picked up a lot. I don’t have as much time as I used to.

Joe Jacobi 29:45
But when I go to the water, I don’t bring a stopwatch even though I’m working with athletes that you know, ultimately want to win Olympic medals that will be separated by hundreds have seconds, I don’t bring a watch. Number one, I know that they’re going to get their time they’re going to time their, their sessions somewhere else with another coach, they’re going to do race, they’re going to get that they’re going to get that feedback of metrics somewhere else.

Al McBride 30:15
So you’re applying the metrics. So what are you bringing?

Joe Jacobi 30:18
So what I want to do is that I want them to paddle down the section of the course. And without them knowing without any of us knowing whether they actually went faster or slower. I just want to ask the question, what did you notice when you couldn’t notice times when you couldn’t notice the clock?

Joe Jacobi 30:37
Huh? And so the the equivalent of that with the salespeople, and I always ask the sales leaders is can like if we just turned off the dashboard? Like what would you do differently? If you couldn’t see, like targets and goals in real time? things? Like what would you do differently?

Joe Jacobi 30:55
And we’re like, I’d probably call some clients and just check in and see like, how they’re doing great, you know, it’s like, relationship building, how wonderful like, let’s do more of that. Um, another thing could be when a salesperson points out, like, like, maybe there’s a point in their call that their or their presentation that they’re or maybe collaborating with someone where they’re hot, they’re really struggling.

Joe Jacobi 31:23
And I think it can be very pragmatic, the pragmatic solution would be like, let’s look at the problem, like where things are going wrong. And like, let’s fix that. And what I do very similar as what I was talking about earlier, when we were talking about deep work, and deep reflection is like, I’m always looking for smaller and less consequential ways to use the same muscles that they’re going to use in those in those situations when the pressure is really on.

Joe Jacobi 31:55
But find ways to practice them in ways that are less consequential, like one of my favorite things to do is like I have a sense that many people go to a coffee shop to buy coffee. Well, how can we sort of turn that into like, the way you interact with the barista, you know whether that you know, no matter what that is, you know, maybe there’s your you generally are not going to get very uptight or nervous about this one transactional exchange with a barista over the coffee.

Joe Jacobi 32:26
But you could use that as a way to practice. That, to me is the equivalent of practicing flatwater, like when you can find practice to use the muscle that you’re going to use, say, having a difficult conversation. Yesterday, I was with a client where we talked about a just I’ll give you another example. I was talking with one of our doctor clients about the challenges in collaborating with a very competitive teammate.

Joe Jacobi 32:57
And, and I went to one of the questions I asked is like, okay, you might have these points that you want to make to your colleague. But what if you framed all the points you want to make as questions to your person so that it was like they could answer the question is like they were coming up with the idea that you want to get answered. And I said it. But even better yet, instead of practicing that on your colleague, where you really want to see the difference, practice it on your kids,

Joe Jacobi 33:28
you know, become more challenging. Yeah, no, this is incredible. Joe, this is exactly what I do with my clients in terms of negotiation, or as you say, difficult conversations, is, you’re not going to use it, please, you’re not going to use it well, in high stakes if you haven’t practiced in low stakes, or as you say, nearly no state. And it’s because you get to play.

Al McBride 33:52
This is something that you mentioned a few times that when you play sport, and it’s not people mix up this difference between gamification and gain full mindset. Again, for mindsets when you’re playing soccer, or chess or anything where there are some boundaries, maybe you’re collaborating, maybe you’re competing, maybe it’s golf, or you’re just competing with yourself.

Al McBride 34:16
But there’s this challenge. There’s this idea of failures, not really failure, you’re just learning and you’re going again, you know, all these you’re able to pick yourself up from setbacks much easier. If you think a computer games you play it 1000s of times to get through around or gamers to so why can you fail at one thing 10,000 times in that scenario, but twice in real life? And then you’re like, Oh, I give up?

Al McBride 34:42
Yeah, you’ll go 10,000 and one times in the computer game. It’s the game. Whereas as you said, People mix that up with gamification, which is the other way it’s, it’s, it’s, what would you say it’s less intrinsic? It’s like, oh, we’re gonna make sure you’re hitting all these dopamine.

Al McBride 35:00
Addiction points of things flashing. And it’s it’s, it’s not as intrinsically valuable to the person. So, so, so many interesting points there. So how do you do? Do you feel that difference with, as I said, playing that game, almost bringing fun joy, curiosity back to it. And you mentioned that with as you sort of when people aren’t thinking of the time, what do they notice? So that sort of was just, instead of bringing that awareness back into it, I wonder, could you talk about some of the some of those themes a little bit more first,

Al McBride 35:41
you know, you’re, you’re talking to someone I’ve taken up running at this stage of my life. I mean, I had been for about 11 or 12 years now. And, you know, I’ve, I, I really feel like a lot of what I do tends to be a little bit of extreme so that I can learn these things and figure out ways to present them in ways that aren’t very extreme. So I run five or six days a week, and I run marathons, I’ve qualified for Boston, you know, I’ve I’ve run, you know, I seem to be at 51 years old, I’m feeling good.

Joe Jacobi 36:20
I don’t expect that to happen forever, but I’m feeling really good right now. And I, you know, for more than a year now, I have not measured a single step of running, don’t wear a watch, don’t use an app, I don’t wear a heart rate monitor, I don’t listen to podcast, it is I listen to two things. I listen to my body. And I listen to nature, you know, I check in on the cows that I pass on my running in the mountains, you know, here in the Pyrenees.

Joe Jacobi 36:55
And, you know, the thing is, what’s amazing about it is that, you know, I think people would be a little mistaken to think that I’m not competitive, or that I can’t organize, like, you know, a fairly decent training program running without technology, you know, if speed work is a part of running a good marathon. Okay, so I see a tree off in the distance, I’m gonna run hard to that tree.

Joe Jacobi 37:25
Like, how does my body know or care about, like, whether I’m looking at a watch while I do that or not. But I decided not to wear a watch. And, you know, or, I just go for a long run. And you know, this is kind of more in the style of Kilian Jarnet, the endurance athlete I referenced earlier, who’s raised around here, it’s just squat and start running, and enjoy it. And don’t stop until you run a stop.

Joe Jacobi 37:50
And the Yeah, I mean, there are little hints of how long you’re running. Because we have like, a lot of church bells that have been here, you know, in the out, up and things like that, but it’s like, it’s just so refreshing not to be hostage, you know, to all those things. And if I want to listen to a podcast, I’ll do it when I’m not running. You know, it’s like, I, I like listening to podcasts, I don’t need to, like be more efficient with it. Like, I can find another time sitting on my sofa, looking at the mountains and enjoy really good conversations with people. And

Joe Jacobi 38:24
yeah, just curious as to fun. See, but the benefit of that is either at the time or after because it sounds much more mindful that you’re far more aware. You mentioned at one point, you’re aware of what your body is doing or saying to you. Yeah, if your attention was on the seconds clicking away or, or the heartbeat numbers or whatever else metric you’re looking at, what do you feel is the difference in that in that folder?

Joe Jacobi 38:56
Well, I mean, I should say, I mean, I’m not, I’m not trying to win any Olympic sport in my life. I’m just trying to be healthy and enjoy and and be in a good place. But what I think that happens in this and I should say that even my running is still combined with a sitting mindfulness practice, I do a meditation each morning before I run.

Joe Jacobi 39:17
I do some sun salutations, like a little bit of a yoga routine that kind of gets my body you know, a little bit more primed, you know, for when I run. I journal I writes, do a little bit of creative work, and I run and this what I get to question what I get out of all of this is that in a more extreme way, I just push away other people’s voices in treating me via my phone or via TV or via email, or there’s a time for that.

Joe Jacobi 39:49
And I don’t really feel like you’ll never know until you start experimenting with this. And I’m certainly not advocating for people that like to just go from doing what they’re doing now. to doing an hour or two and a half hours of pushing back, but this is why I think what I’ve learned through all of this is that five minutes can make a really big difference.

Joe Jacobi 40:10
If you’re willing to, you know, do five minutes every day. And if I, if you see the benefits of five minutes a day of the first five minutes of a day of just tuning into your own voice, because that’s really the big benefit of what your your question is, is just you get better and listening to your own voice first, is that if that goes well, for you, after a few weeks or five minutes, you’ll probably want to make it 10.

Joe Jacobi 40:35
And you’ll figure that out. And, and even just one last thing, we’re going back to my Oklahoma City days when my evenings were a disaster, and I was like, Okay, if these first five, what it really did is that instead of just waking up earlier and earlier and doing more and being productive, what really five good minutes in the morning did for me was it really got me started thinking about what am I willing to change about maybe the last five minutes before I go to bed.

Joe Jacobi 41:06
Okay, so then you know, and this is a really big part of it, because I know we’re heading into this new year, and people are like, I’m going to wake up an hour earlier. And I’m going to do this and that. And I’m like, why not start with five minutes in the morning. And we’ll start to take a look at then before adding more time, how you’re putting yourself down at night, because that’s where that was what was killing me.

Joe Jacobi 41:29
When I started to put boundaries around what was happening in my evening time and set up more of a routine and realizing that, you know, these were in the days that Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert were on the couch or on Comedy Central. I loved watching those guys at night. Just as that was kind of my, you know, was kind of my just way to let go a little bit and have my own time.

Joe Jacobi 41:52
And I’m like, Oh, you can watch them on YouTube The next day, if it’s that important. And you know, it turns out really, the monologue was the best part. And you can still see that just watch that. And, and, you know, so what, what’s the difference between having watched it at 1130 at night or watching it at 10, the next morning, like is like nothing has really changed.

Joe Jacobi 42:13
You know, by the way, I still watch some of those monologues, you know, to you know, when I finish all night, when I finally sit down and have breakfast, one of my ways I kind of keep up with what’s happening in the United States, I watch a couple of his monologues he you know, and like, that’s all the news and TV I watch for the day.

Joe Jacobi 42:30
It’s a very interesting point. And it’s something I’m touching on and it’s something I’m actually investigating myself, is injecting humor into more business situations. But there’s a little parallel there that happens to be humor so that not only are you taking a break to watch a monologue, now, sometimes the monologues are very serious.

Al McBride 42:52
Like john oliver and Stephen Colbert still do, usually they’re quite serious topics. But you feel you’re learning and gaining insights in a very humorous, playful way. I’m just interested in that, because what you’re talking about is also you’re changing the mood and the resonance.

Al McBride 43:10
So if you’re working on it’s very serious or have goals and, and you’re changing it to humor, to playfulness, it’s it’s that energy changes that mood change that I think can be a very positive thing in the last, you know, when you go back to work, you’re maybe a little bit lighter, lighter and touch of what you’re doing and how you’re interacting.

Joe Jacobi 43:35
I think that a I like the way that you said that. I I think we all you know, kind of left to figure out, you know, what we want to take away from, you know, from taking in the news that way or not the news, but if however we choose to be informed, you know about it, and what the value of that is.

Joe Jacobi 43:59
I mean, that’s really the bigger question for me is that, I think in the states that you can often be made to feel very, very guilty for not, you know, being informed and it’s like, oh, so that means I’m supposed to watch the news, you know, to be informed again, you’ll never know.

Joe Jacobi 44:17
Unless you experiment with this, you know, and and stop watching the news. And you know, and see what it is that you really missed all the you know, let me just say the news is so good. They are so so good at making you feel like you’re doing something wrong if you’re not watching them. And like that has what you know, has, you know, and now if you you know, you watch the social dilemma, it’s the same thing with the, you know, with the social networks at Well, they’re they’re very advanced on doing this.

Joe Jacobi 44:49
And again, you know, I think we have we want to be a little bit thoughtful about where we are giving our attention to because If we’re not thinking about where we’re giving our attention to, whether it’s a few minutes of a monologue, or whether it’s, you know, watching this, you know, election recounts, you know, for a month, after five weeks, six weeks after a US presidential election, it’s, you know, your, your awareness is going to be exploited against your will. And it

Joe Jacobi 45:24
was, the colleague of mine said to me, how are you spending your attention? Yeah, as if it’s a finite, like money that you can make more, okay can make more money, but it’s like a resource that you’re choosing where to put it, you know, and then suddenly, when you when you think of it like that, suddenly you’re like, Oh, I’m not giving you any more.

Al McBride 45:43
But so many interesting points there, Joe, you, you’re dead, right? It’s when you cut out a lot of news, particularly people who have prone to anxiety or depression. One of the first things a lot of professionals do, and I do it in the coaching practices is instigate that low news diet. So you’re much more controlled, you’re having the agency, I’m going to look at this app for X amount of time going to read these, you know, headlines or whatever, and then read just a couple of articles. And that means you can know what’s pretty much going on.

Al McBride 46:15
But it goes along with the YouTube videos as well. There’s a lot of research showing that it tricks people into thinking they learn something or have some depth of knowledge. But they actually don’t.

Al McBride 46:30
The recall from YouTube videos is very poor. I mean, I love YouTube videos and learning stuff and being exposed to new information insights the whole time. But it’s a bit like the news thing. You think it’s important, and you probably think you’re learning something. And actual fact is very, very thin.

Al McBride 46:47
Yes, I, you know, I start to kind of wind down on this. mutual friend, Alistair introduced me to Tara Nolan, I’m not sure if you’re familiar with Tara. She’s in Ireland, and she’s an executive coach focusing on teams. And I’ve had a couple of just delightful conversations with her in the context of a conversation about teams has been on my side, paddling in a doubles canoe, in the Olympics, and this team boat and but ultimately, Tara was very fascinated about the river as a metaphor.

Joe Jacobi 47:26
You know, the river is a metaphor for how we’re kind of navigating change and uncertainty. And Tara, this conversation really got me thinking, not just about its very cache to talk about navigating change. And this is important, and of course it is, but what I expanded on is what is causing the river flow, like what is really the source of the amount of water surging up surging down. And really, it is, we spend so much time and I spend a lot of time as a coach on what we call controlling the controllables.

Joe Jacobi 48:05
But really, what’s happening is that we’re trying to control the controllables within this disposition of this with this alignment of the uncontrollables. And that is the river flow. And that is COVID. That is social injustice, inequality. That is climate change that are these big things, that one part, we are not going to just change overnight or one person.

Joe Jacobi 48:30
But there’s a real coexistence with these uncontrollables. And I’ve really, I think I’m going to focus a lot of my my writing in Sunday morning, Joe, my weekly blog post for the next six months around this metaphor of the river and but I think that is really the essence of as we try to pursue joy and growth and evolution and happiness, that we are doing it in this like river of uncertainty, and it but instead of just leaving it at uncertainty, we should pay attention.

Joe Jacobi 49:07
It’s not about choosing which new sources right or you know, what the issues are how we agree, but if you’re in sales, and you know you if you’re just wondering about the stuff that affects people, I mean, this is the source of the river. I mean it it is things like climate change. It’s just it affects whether water goes up or down. I have said time and time again.

Joe Jacobi 49:33
The river is my best life coach, the things I have learned from the river, you know, the way water flows, you know, downstream through rocks, and we’re in the hundreds of over 100 concepts, experiences stories, and then this doubles canoe has been like a tocar it’s like the ultimate relationship therapist. And you know, but it is I’m thinking a lot more about the water.

Joe Jacobi 50:00
And I think I’m gonna really angle A lot more of my Sunday morning writing, again towards, you know, being a little bit more forthcoming about taking position on these issues. But it is if we want to kind of pursue happiness or choose happiness or growth or whatever it is that we want to do is that, you know, we were sort of, we are making this choice within the context of not avoiding the uncontrollables.

Joe Jacobi 50:28
But acknowledging something about them. And I think that has a lot to do, I think, at the end of the day in this life that we get, is that, yeah, we can curl up in a ball with our life jackets, and we’ll float through the rapids and more than likely will come up fine. On the other side, I just think there’s a, maybe a more interesting way to live than just curling up a ball in a ball and waiting to get to the water and the other side of the rapid, like, why not learn how to paddle?

Joe Jacobi 50:55
Why not learn how the water is moving, how the water is communicating with you how it’s changing. You know what it’s like paddling around the bend in a river when you can’t see ahead. What’s being, you know, when rivers split apart into two channels, or come to channels come together into one?

Joe Jacobi 51:15
It’s messy, it’s different, it’s changing. And, you know, these are these lessons that you take from, you know, for me, it’s been more than 40 years of paddling rivers, and I’d like to do something a little bit more with that, I think I’m going to explore that more in my my, my weekly, my weekly writing.

Joe Jacobi 51:34
It’s very Yeah, it is a very powerful metaphor. And, oddly, with these metaphors, the more you look into it, it seems to fit, it continues to fit, it doesn’t sort of lose any of its power. But even just looped back to an earlier thing, it’s again, the difference when you’re learning and honing in both the combo her and the rapids is the camera water you it’s learning more about yourself and your relationship to that environment and the times that you can bring into the chaos. Yeah, and to be able to adapt better. Yeah.

Joe Jacobi 52:12
And for me, I think the more what I have found is the more that I can move my equivalent of flatwater training to earlier in the day, earlier in the morning, and really control that before the river starts controlling me, then.

Al McBride 52:30
It’s great metaphor, yeah, well,

Joe Jacobi 52:32
if things really started kind of go off the rails that I you know, and typically, when things go off the rails, for a lot of people, it’s usually fatigue, things usually don’t go off the rails at 730. In the morning, it’s usually more like four o’clock in the afternoon.

Joe Jacobi 52:47
But if you have a routine that even is even just five minutes in the morning, when you first wake up, and I By the way, I like five minutes, because even if you had a 6:30am flight out of the airport in Dublin tomorrow, and you have to get up at four, like what’s the difference between getting up at four and getting up at 355 and doing your

Joe Jacobi 53:06
zero Nothing, right. And so you have this moment to, you know, that you can control and you can invest in yourself. And when you have those days where they go off the rails, you know, you’re you’re never more than 24 hours, again, 24 hours away from going back to the start line again.

Joe Jacobi 53:27
And that’s, you know, the, you know, I referenced the start line a lot, the name of my course is actually called the start line. And my my view out my balcony looks at the Olympic start line, not the finish line, I think finish line really get us focus on goals and results, we don’t yet have start lines.

Joe Jacobi 53:48
And I can tell you just my own experience, you know, sitting in the start line of the Olympic Games is the most precious space of time I’ve ever existed in on this planet. Because you are so present in yourself, there is no motivation, there is nothing that imagining a gold medal around your neck. That’s not going to help you in the storyline of the Olympic Games.

Joe Jacobi 54:10
All you have is what the is what you have in that moment. It’s like you’re like you’re naked with just with what you have only what you have to get down the river. And we’ll see what happens when you cross the finish line. But the more present you are with the skills you have, with the experiences that you have with the context that you have, the and the less that you think about what color metal you want to win or how much money you want to make or how many widgets you want to sell, the better chance you have at doing better at all of those things. If you can be more present in the moment.

Joe Jacobi 54:45
This is the wrong sort of visualization. As I understand it is most useful when you’re thinking of process. Yeah, rather than outcome.

Joe Jacobi 54:57
Yeah, I just decided I mean, I, I don’t want to, I don’t have much to say about, you know, other than a lot of like famous speakers and gurus that make a lot of money, you know, preaching something very different. I understand why it’s really nice to think about grand outcomes and big ideas. And there, there’s a place for them. I mean, I work with, I work with athletes that want to win Olympic gold medals, very few people get an opportunity, very few people do that letter, let alone get the opportunity to do that.

Joe Jacobi 55:34
And, you know, it is I think the best people I know, with goals, because I’m not like the biggest fan of goals, they set them, but they’re really good at letting go of them. And then they just get back to work, it’s like, you’re not going to forget what you’re doing these Spanish athletes that I just watched coming down the course, you’re not going to forget why they’re doing this and what’s most important to them. But if they just think about the gold medal, the Tokyo gold medal they don’t yet have that’s just energy, being sucked away from something that could have made their practice better today.

Joe Jacobi 56:08
And it’s goes way too far away. If the goal is to, to you know, whatever you’re working on, in that practice, run. That’s all you need to focus on us. Like, I’m just gonna organize better, I’m gonna do this better, this thing better, you know, one or two,

Joe Jacobi 56:27
the more present we can be. And I think once we start to think about how many devices there are in the world, that are trying to take us away from being present.

Al McBride 56:36

Joe Jacobi 56:38
Not the least of which is the news. You know, they want to prove they present fear about the future, which makes you think about the future, or our own brains kind of dwelling on things that we did in the past. You know, it’s, uh, you know, we could go on for a long time about these

Joe Jacobi 56:55
these No, but uh, you’re dead, right? That’s exactly depression is, as I said, dwelling on the past anxiety is fear and dwelling in future tense. And neither are you properly present in the present tense. Yeah. It’s a key thing.

Joe Jacobi 57:15
All right.

Joe Jacobi 57:15
All right. Well, thank you so much. Great to have you on the show. Joe, Joe, Jacob.

Joe Jacobi 57:21
I enjoyed this so much. And if we ever get the opportunity to do a round two, I would love that. And I look forward to some virtual coffees offline with you as well. Yeah, I know. We just kind of jumped right into this today, like, hey, let’s start recording. But this was wonderful. And I’m so grateful that Alastair introduced us to each other

Al McBride 57:41
Excellent. Thank you so much.

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