The Psychedelic Podcast by Third Wave
From Challenge to Transformation: Resilience, Vulnerability & the Essence of Being Human
Taryn Marie Stejskal, Ph.D.
Resilience expert Dr. Taryn Marie Stejskal joins Paul F. Austin for a special 2-part interview exploring resilience, leadership, & psychedelics.
Dr. Taryn Marie Stejskal (pronounced Stay-skull) is the Founder and Chief Resilience Officer (CRO) of Resilience Leadership Institute (RLI), she is recognized #1 international expert on resilience, mental health, and wellbeing in both leadership and life. Her mission is to positively impact the lives of 1 billion people, by enhancing hope, healing, and health as well as increased consciousness and enhanced leadership skill through the practices of resilience. Her work has been featured by Fox and NBC News, Bloomberg Business, Thrive Global, TEDx, and Forbes. LA Progressive magazine calls her “the go-to person” and “a secret weapon” for CEOs and executive leadership teams who want to find their edge as well as rise above the competition.
By conducting two decades of original research on resilience, Dr. Taryn Marie developed the empirically based framework, The Five Practices of Highly Resilient People and believes that resilience is the key to individual, teams, and organizational growth and acceleration across the globe. Prior to founding RLI, she served as the Head of Executive Leadership Development & Talent Strategy at Nike, as well as Head of Global Leadership Development at Cigna.
- Dr. Taryn’s personal and professional path of resilience, vulnerability,
- The myth of the Vulnerability Bias.
- How psychedelics can help us tap into our resilience.
- The Five Practices of Highly Resilient People
- Why the practice of vulnerability is so challenging yet essential to our growth and wellbeing.
- The gifts of transformation hidden in the ‘reverse bucket list’ moments of life.
- Dr. Taryn’s latest projects to positively impact the world through resilience.
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0:00:00.5 Paul Austin: Hey listeners and welcome back to The Third Wave Podcast. Today, I am speaking with Dr. Taryn Marie Stejskal, who is the world’s number one resilience leadership expert.
0:00:12.8 Dr. Taryn Marie Stejskal: We all have at least one resilience story. A resilience story is the story that oftentimes we don’t want to tell, and it’s the story that most needs to be told or will create tremendous value if we tell it. So when we think high-level about resilience, we get to be reminded that we’re all resilient. Resilience is the essence of being human, resilience finds us and we can practice once we know the Five Practices Of Highly Resilient People to become more resilient and to face challenge change and complexity more effectively and positively over time.
0:00:54.9 PA: Welcome to The Third Wave Podcast. I’m your host, Paul Austin, here to bring you cutting edge interviews with leading scientists, entrepreneurs and medical professionals who are exploring how we can integrate psychedelics in an intentional and responsible way for both healing and transformation. It is my honor and privilege to bring you these episodes as you get deeper and deeper into why these medicines are so critical to the future of humanity, so let’s go and let’s see what we can explore and learn together in this incredibly important time.
0:01:32.2 PA: Hey, listeners, I am so excited to have Dr. Marie Stejskal on the podcast today, we go deep into the topics of resilience, leadership in plant medicine. We talk about what are the five keys to resilient leadership and how plant medicine help us to become more resilient, both as individuals and as leaders of our lives and organizations, Dr. Taryn Marie is the number one international expert on resilience in both leadership and life, whose mission is to positively impact the lives of 1 billion people through the concepts of resilience by 2030, she is the Founder and Chief Resilience Officer of Resilience Leadership Institute, and believes that resilience is the key to individual and organizational actualization and acceleration across the globe, by leveraging over a decade and a half of original research on resilience she developed the empirically-based framework the Five Practices of Particularly Resilient People prior to founding RLI, she served as the former head of executive leadership development and talent strategy at Nike, as well as a global leadership development at Cigna.
0:02:34.9 PA: Dr. Taryn Marie is a sought-after trusted advisor for executives, athletes, leaders, musicians and actors and individuals from all industries who are looking for an edge by way of understanding and harnessing their inherent resilience.
0:02:47.5 PA: Before we dive into today’s episode, a word from our sponsors. Hey listeners, I am excited to announce that we are now taking applications for the next round of Third Wave’s Coaching Certification Program. This is the highest level and most impactful program that we’ve developed at Third Wave over the last five years. In fact, it is one of the only programs in the world that focuses on leveraging psychedelics to achieve non-clinical outcomes in a one-on-one coaching context. We develop this in collaboration with high-profile executive coaches, as well as psychedelic clinicians to ensure that you have the tools that you need to create accelerated transformation in the lives of your clients.
0:03:33.6 PA: So if you’re looking to incorporate psychedelic work into your existing coaching practice, or you just wanna gain high quality training from the forefront of human potential, peak performance, executive training and leadership development, go to thethirdwave.co/sp/coaching-certification-program/
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0:04:08.4 PA: Alright, that’s it for now. Let’s dive into this episode with Dr. Taryn Marie Stejskal. I hope you enjoy this conversation on resilient leadership and plant medicine. Hey listeners welcome back to The Third Wave Podcast. Today, we have another special guest for you, Dr. Taryn Marie Stejskal. Taryn, welcome to the podcast, it’s so good to have you here.
0:04:35.2 TM: It’s great to be here.
0:04:37.7 PA: So your point of expertise is this sort of intersection of resilience and leadership, and one thing that we’ve talked about on the podcast with a few other guests is: that role of plant medicine and psychedelics in helping to facilitate resilience and helping to develop resilience. And how that might overlap with leadership, so there’s been some context that’s been provided, and yet I think your particular perspective, having studied both of the empirical research and done some empirical research behind this, as well as your own path and story and what does it mean to become resilient and how does that play out in particular in a Fortune 50 company, which I think is really interesting, so we’re gonna have some fun stuff to dive into today, and before we get into the really practical stuff, what I’d love to start off with is just your story, and what does resilience mean to you, what is your path of resilience, and how does that dovetail with your own leadership development?
0:05:44.5 TM: Yeah, gosh, I loved everything that you said there. I got so excited with everything, I was like, Oh, where do I start? So yes, I have a great story that I’m so excited to share with you relative to, that’s like corporate speak right there, relative to corporate leadership development and the path of… We’ll call it sacred plant medicine, because I was really in a moment of having a foot in two canoes on that, and how I navigated that, how I’ve navigated that since, so hold on that story is coming, which I’m super excited about, but before I tell you that story, I’ll talk with you about my path to resilience, and I really talk about resilience, well-being and mental health, those all go together really well, as you know, and everyone knows from my introduction, I have a PhD, a doctorate degree in neuropsychology and in marriage and family therapy, so I’ve done my tour of clinical work, and I’ve researched resilience, which really in my mind is how we as humans effectively face the inevitable moments of challenge, change and complexity. And when we face these inevitable moments that are part of the fabric of what it means to be human, of challenge, change and complexity, what are the things that we can do in those moments that allow us to create a more positive and productive outcome? Because any time a challenge occurs, what do we do? We’re like, What am I gonna do? That’s what we ask ourselves.
0:07:34.6 TM: And so when I started this work… Well, let me back up for a second. So I would have told you that this work really started in graduate school 20 years ago, interviewing women who lived in rural areas and there was some degree of financial or food insecurity working with people that had had traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord injuries. I would have said that’s the moment when I found resilience, until I really reflected on it, and I realized a couple of things, one, resilience finds us. And that’s super important, because resilience isn’t something we’ve gotta go out and get, it’s not something we’ve got to shore up, because the second thing is resilience is the essence of what it means to be human, and this is a really important area in this field that is so catastrophically misunderstood, because we talk about resilience as have and have not, we talk about resilience as, am I resilient enough? And the answer is, you are resilient, it’s the essence of what it means to be human, because for me and for you, Paul, and for anyone tuning into this episode, we have faced and moved through or are in the midst of, as the case maybe, every rejection, disappointment, loss, fear, hope, success, failure.
0:09:09.5 TM: Like it’s, we did it, we made it through each of those moments of our lives, and so can we enhance our resilience? Yes, can we practice our resilience the way we practice a sport or go to the gym and get better at, absolutely, and we are all resilient, it’s the essence of what it means to be human, so we don’t need to go out looking for resilience, resilience finds us. So I went out looking for resilience in graduate school, like, Yes, now I’m gonna talk to people about resilience, but when I really reflected on that, what I found was resilience had already found me, resilience and I were very old friends, we had been working together through difficulties that I had faced in my childhood, many people who know my story know that I had a stalker in high school, that seems like a really sensational word to say, but I’ve looked at a lot of other words, and that’s the word that fits. So this guy started out coming to my window in the morning before school, when I was getting dressed, I was on the ground floor… I know it’s super creepy.
0:10:16.3 TM: And I had music playing on my stereo, for those of you tuning in from Gen Z, we didn’t always play music from our phones, there was a thing called a stereo that played music, so I had music playing in my room on my stereo, and I went over to… I think shut my window or something, I had it open like a crack to let the breeze in and shades were down the rest of the way, and I saw his face at the bottom of my window, and in my 14-year-old mind, I started playing through every experience, I’ve had to try to explain why there’s a face at the bottom of my window so early in the morning before school, and what I came up with was maybe my dad was outside playing a trick on me somehow. And so I’m like, “Dad.” And the person stood up and the light went down his face, and we’re standing on either side of this wall, and he’s like, take off your clothes you’re beautiful. And I was like, “not dad.” So we make a police report, this whole thing happens, and the police basically say, Look, this is probably just someone passing through the neighborhood, nothing to worry about.
0:11:22.8 TM: Go about your life. It’s just a fluke. So fast forward 10 months later, my parents are out of town, I’m back in my bedroom, I’m always keeping this window closed on, shut tight that was on the driveway and you could kind of see the streets, but we had another window in the back of the house that just faces the backyard, and I don’t know if we didn’t have air conditioning at that time or it was just stuffy, but I had that window open, it was like June of the following, the following year, and I just tried on these new clothes that I got. I was shopping with my girlfriends, I was about 15, 16, and I hear his voice again, and his voice is etched in my mind and he says, “I’ve been waiting a long time for this,” and I had just removed my last article of clothing, so for me, three things became true. Your facial expressions are amazing.
0:12:16.2 TM: Three things became true. One, I was naked in front of a man for the first time, two, my childhood bedroom, which should have been the safest place for me and should be a safe place for a person to grow up, became profoundly unsafe, and three, it was clear that this was not a fluke. So he comes back several more times over the course of my high school education, I end up going off to college, and long story short, unfortunately, his behavior continued to escalate and he ended up brutally assaulting and raping another woman in our neighborhood, and was charged with that crime and went to prison for 20 years. And I too spent time in captivity because what I realized a couple of years later is I met the diagnostic criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder, and I met the diagnostic criteria for 20 years as a result of that experience. So I was imprisoned by PTSD and he was incarcerated for what he had done, and so what I realized was, when I was in graduate school, that resilience had already found me. Resilience and I, as I mentioned, were very old friends because I had already worked through the tremendously upsetting, unbalancing traumatic experiences that had happened, and yet continued to have top grades, be on swim team, be on student council, go to a top university, and so… That’s one of my stories. I say we all have… We all have at least one resilience story.
0:14:13.5 TM: I would say we all have more than one resilience story, and a resilience story is the story that often times we don’t want to tell, and it’s the story that most needs to be told or will create tremendous value if we tell it, because often times we don’t wanna tell people these stories of our resilience because we’re afraid that it’s going to change how people view us, and so when we think high level about resilience, we get to be reminded that we’re all resilient. Resilience is the essence of being human, resilience finds us and we can practice, once we know the Five Practices Of Highly Resilient People to become more resilient and to face challenge, change and complexity more effectively and positively over time.
0:15:12.3 PA: Thank you for sharing that, and thank you for leading with vulnerability in telling that story because it’s probably even still today, it’s not an easy story to tell knowing not only what had happened, but what unfolded afterwards, and being kept in captivity and having PTSD for so long of a period of time. And what I’m also hearing in your story is there’s… When I think about resilience, sometimes there can be a trade-off of resilience, so even when you tell your story of experiencing what you experienced, there’s an armor that we often create to deal with trauma. So we can continue to survive and grow and develop, and what I’m curious about is for you, as we sort of continue exploring your story, when is it that that armor maybe started to melt, and when is it that you were able to heal? Or how is it that you were able to heal that PTSD and further grow and develop once that came into your awareness, ’cause it’s one thing to become aware of it, and as we all know, it’s a whole nother thing to heal that.
0:16:31.1 TM: Yeah, yeah. So many great questions. You know, I’ve been thinking about this, I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit recently. I just… I’m in the process of finishing my first book manuscript whoop whoop.
0:16:48.1 PA: Congrats.
0:16:49.1 TM: The book entitled The Five… Thank you, thank you… It’s a book entitled, you’re never gonna believe this, The Five Practices Of Highly Resilient People: Why Some Flourish and Others Fold. And I’ve been deeply honored to partner with a publishing house, top three publishing house Hachette and actually published this book with Brené Brown’s executive editor from her book Daring Greatly. And it’s such an honor to get a publishing contract in the first place, let alone, to get to choose who you work with. And I really felt that this team just had demonstrated tremendous capability in helping, in particular with Daring Greatly to really bring that academic framework into mainstream and make it simple and accessible. And so as I’ve been looking at this, and I do keynote speaking, and I tell the story a lot, and I tell the story a lot because it was a really profound moment for me because as I was researching resilience over the course of 20 years and I interviewed hundreds of people and collected thousands of pieces of data to create this model, what I realized in the first practice, the first practice is the practice of vulnerability, and it’s the extent to which vulnerability is the extent to which we allow our inside self, our thoughts, feelings and experiences to match the outside self that we share with the world.
0:18:31.0 TM: And this is really a beautiful way that I’m excited to put this work out into the world and claim some new ground and to advance these conversations, because I think we’ve talked about being vulnerable, the benefits of being vulnerable, and yet we haven’t really defined what vulnerability is and what it isn’t. And so if you’ve spent time clinical work, it’s akin to this idea of congruence, right. Where our inside self is aligned with the outside self that we share with the world. Now, why would that be important? Why would vulnerability be important when we’re facing moments of challenge, change and complexity. Well, the more vulnerable we allow ourselves to be in those moments, to allow our inside self to match the outside self we share with the world, the more likely we are to get the support, the information, the knowledge, the… All of those things that we need when we face challenge, if we share really going through it. But of course we live in a society that really values strength. And our notion of strength is to say that everything’s okay. And so I like to say that the only insane thing is to be sane all the time. So it’s really important, I think, for us to normalize losing our shit.
0:20:12.2 TM: We should all be able to lose our shit in all the best ways, right. And we don’t receive training on how to just allow ourselves to lose it and to break down, but that’s a really important process for ourselves psychologically, because there’s all this conversation right now about burnout, about stress, about exhaustion, about quiet quitting, where employees are like, “Hey, I’m still keeping my seat warm, but I’m just gonna do the bare minimum,” because people are feeling disengaged. And so to be able to look deeply at those processes and to recognize that in these moments, we can seek help, we can ask for support, this is a key way that we can buffer against burnout, stress, exhaustion, because all of a sudden, we don’t have to do it ourselves. And not only, do we not have to do it ourselves, we don’t have to pretend that everything’s okay, that we’re fine, that we’re holding it all together, that we’ve got it all figured out. Because nobody on this planet has got it all figured out, and so, I like to say if you haven’t…
0:21:31.3 TM: If you’ve been supporting everyone else and you haven’t lost it yet, like it is a 1000% your turn [chuckle] to lean on the people in your life that you’ve been supporting and to make that relationship reciprocal. And so vulnerability allows people to see what we’re going through. We all know that, we’ve all had someone in our life or known of someone in our life who… And these are very sad stories who have committed suicide, right. And everybody sort of looks at each other and we’re like, Did you know there was a… I didn’t know that, did you know… Best friends, family members, they didn’t say anything to anybody. Why? Because they thought they had to have it all together, they wanted… They felt like they needed to be perfect, these are sweeping generalizations, but general themes that occur. They didn’t wanna bring other people down, they thought people were gonna think less of them if they allowed that inside self to be seen on their outside self. And so there’s just so much tremendous power relative to even this first practice of vulnerability.
0:22:37.0 TM: And I tell that story about the stalker a lot, and I wish I got to tell it less because every time I tell it, there’s always like this like, “Okay, we’re gonna do this.” And I tell that story because what happened when I was researching resilience and I was recognizing that vulnerability was a first and foundational practice of resilience is I thought to myself, Okay, if Brené Brown tells us that vulnerability is good for us. Why aren’t we all running around living our most fabulously vulnerable lives. What’s happening for us that’s the difference between knowing and doing. And the more I talk to people, what I uncovered was something that I call the vulnerability bias. And what the vulnerability bias tells us is, any time we think to ourselves, I wanna share something that’s intimate, that’s authentic, that’s vulnerable. The vulnerability bias, this little cognitive piece of software that came with us when we were created as humans says, “ah ah, don’t do that, do not do that. If you tell people that resilience story, people won’t like you, people won’t love you, and people might leave.” Those are the three L’s. So the vulnerability bias tells us, people won’t like us, they won’t love us, and they might leave. And we’re like, wooh, that seems scary.
0:24:12.3 TM: I am not going to be vulnerable. It’s not worth all that. So I became my own case study because basically I thought about the resilient story that I most did not want to share. And I was like, I cannot tell people about the stalker and this PTSD, this is gonna impact my career. People are gonna see me differently if I have a mental health diagnosis. And I thought, Okay, well, one of two things is gonna happen, I’m gonna get up on stage, I’m gonna tell the story at conferences where I was presenting, I call it my year of speaking dangerously. And one of two things is gonna happen. Either people are gonna leave, people aren’t gonna like me and people aren’t gonna love me and I’m gonna be like, that’s right. Don’t do vulnerability, that is some dangerous stuff. Or I’m gonna get up, I’m gonna tell this story. And people aren’t gonna leave, and people aren’t gonna like me less, and they might even like me more, and people aren’t gonna love me less and they might even love me more, and that will prove that the vulnerability bias is a fallacy.
0:25:22.5 TM: And so I started telling this, started telling the story, and lo and behold, nobody left, nobody loved me less, nobody liked me less. In fact, I got promoted at work. I got asked to tell this story at town halls across my organization then to speak externally. And so that experience allowed me to become my own case study and to live that sort of terror and horror of being vulnerable to see if the vulnerability bias was really an un-truth that I was believing or if it was something that would come true. And I’m delighted to report that the vulnerability bias for the most part is a fallacy. And the thing about irrational fear is it feels just like real fear, so it’s tough to face, and when we do, there’s tremendous benefit.
0:26:24.1 PA: There’s so much here that I wanna dive into one thing that… But the point that you landed on is I was just in another podcast recording before we hopped on here, we were talking about the difference between physiological fear and psychological fear. And so oftentimes because of our ancestral evolutionary patterns and habits, there was a real physiological fear with being outcast in tribes. That was a real thing. And yet, because of how safe, physically safe many of us are today, increasingly, we confuse psychological fear with physiological fear. And so there’s a sense of being able to realize that, Oh, we are physiologically safe. And that allows for facing these shadows or facing these biases. Even in your story, knowing that, okay, I’m safe now where I am physiologically okay, now I can go into these things that have happened in my past, these stories, face them and in facing them and telling them, that’s oftentimes where the healing is, right. ‘Cause then there’s a catharsis, there’s a way that we can transform that story into an ally rather than a dragon or whatever else label you wanna put on it.
0:27:49.7 TM: Yeah, it’s the old adage, and this over-simplifies it to such a tremendous degree, and it’s so true, it’s the old adage of ‘make your test your testimony’. And I am such a huge believer in taking the really dark moments, feeling emotional about this, which I love, ’cause I’m like, “Oh this is deeply true for me.” And I’m sure for many others, taking the really dark moments in our lives that we all have, the losses, the traumas, the disappointments, the rejections, the betrayals, and allowing ourselves to alchemize those experiences, so that we don’t only, and by only, I mean, this is a lot. We don’t only feel better, we don’t only make sense of it, we take it a step further, and we use these stories and these experiences as a way of uplifting ourselves and as a way of uplifting others.
0:29:20.3 TM: So for me, I’ve gotten to take my story of PTSD and trauma and having a stalker as a young woman, and rather than allowing that to define me. Rather than staying trapped in that cycle of trauma. Rather than being resentful about the people who didn’t protect me or the fact that this man preyed on me as a young woman, as a young woman. I’ve gotten to take this story and use it to connect with people, to allow it to uplift people, to be an example of what it means to go through hard things. And again, in the over-simplification, take this test and make it my testimony, and what that means is it doesn’t just stop being dark, it actually projects light. And I’m such a believer in the alchemization of these things that happen to us, that this is the highest order, this is the highest level that we can evolve and heal when we don’t just feel better about what happened or make sense of it, but actually use it to create more good in the world and to shine more light.
0:30:32.7 PA: So the follow up question that I have, and then I think would be more specific for this audience and this podcast and plant medicine and psychedelics is either from your personal experience or just from what you know about the lay of the land, I’ll let you speak to whichever degree you feel comfortable speaking. How do psychedelics help that process of alchemy, how do psychedelics help us to tap into that, how do they help us become more resilient, how have they maybe impacted you and your own sort of healing in alchemy as you’ve grown and developed as a leader, I think that’s a great, great opener for at least the psychedelic angle before we find where all the paths converge?
0:31:12.1 TM: Yeah, absolutely. What I’ll say is, my experience with trauma is that it’s deeply multi-faceted and multi-layered. And for me, and for many other people that I’ve worked with, and I think this is important for us to surface and to voice is, there typically is not a once and for all healing and, call it end of trauma. Where we sit in ceremony or we sit in ceremonies and we heal and then wooh, it’s all better. So for me, it’s been about doing a lot of work, kind of relative to what I know about psychology, neuropsychology, retraining my brain. And what I’ll say is sacred plant medicine is doing that work. If you do it with good people and good intentions and have a very sound structure and integration process, it’s like doing that work on steroids. The work that I’ve been able to do in one ceremony has been years of work in linear time.
0:32:40.3 TM: So I think that’s important to surface. The second thing is, the times I’ve been in ceremony, there have been aspects of that trauma that have been opened up, shown to me, and then healed, or the shape of it has shifted in some way. And sometimes I know I have… I understand that based on what I experienced in ceremony. And sometimes I don’t even realize that trauma has been removed until afterwards, and I’m faced with a circumstance where I would typically have a trauma response and I don’t. And I’m like, “Wait, hold on.” So a really profound thing that happened for me in ceremony was I was actually asleep most of the ceremony. And I’m a believer in sacred plant medicine, that sometimes grandmother puts us to sleep to do healing work, or if we’re fighting against it or we just sort of get to go some place else while, she pulls the levers and tightens the gears. So I had been asleep for most of the ceremony, and when I went in afterwards to get food with the people that I was sitting with, what I realized was all of the people that were staying in my area of this property had already gone back to their accommodation.
0:34:15.1 TM: And as people were leaving and things were thinning out, I was like, Oh my gosh, I’m gonna have… I’m not gonna be able to get back to my accommodation because it’s dark outside and I can’t walk alone in the dark. I’m terrified of the dark. And so I was like, Oh crap, I’m gonna have to sleep in the common area or something tonight, or at least until it gets light. This was my thinking. And so then I thought to myself, Okay, well, maybe I could just go outside and then just take a step off the porch or whatever, like see how I feel. So I did that, I was like, okay, not bad. I took like another step and another step and something crazy happened. I mean, crazy in all the best ways. I wasn’t afraid of the dark anymore. And I had my cell phone with me and I could have turned on my flashlight and I didn’t. And I walked a quarter of a mile through jungle in Mexico by myself to my accommodation. And I wasn’t frightened at all, I was fine the whole time. And so that’s a beautiful example of how sometimes in ceremony, we’re really doing the work and we’re sweating and we’re being shown things. And sometimes it’s a beautiful release and sometimes we don’t even know that some aspect of deeply ingrained trauma has been removed until we’re in that situation. I was like, Wait a second, this was removed from me in ceremony, and I didn’t even know until I was in the circumstance.
0:35:50.0 PA: Well, it even sounds like what you mentioned about resilience, which is sometimes when we hear about resilience it’s this thing that we’re seeking, is this thing that we’re going after, whereas in reality, resilience and adaptability is our essence, part of our essence as a human. And I think what often happens with psychedelics and plant medicine is it helps us to remind us of how powerful we are, how much we can actually face. And so even with your example of walking in the dark, a practice, an activity that normally would have freaked you out or you would have said no way to. Now, after ceremony and coming in from that, there’s a capacity to hold that and to not react, to not run away. And there was probably also a deep sense of, this is how it always should have been. That whatever had previously impacted you, for whatever reason that you couldn’t do before, walking in the dark is, it’s a very human thing. We’ve been doing it for thousands and thousands of years, and now to have that capacity and that ability. And it’s like you get to own that again, you get to bring that back into the… I don’t know the skill set that you have, if you will.
0:37:00.5 TM: Yeah, I’ll just comment on that briefly, which is, for me, there’s sort of two sides of that coin, one, there’s this idea of restoration being brought back to the fullness and to really appreciate and step into the full capacity of our power as humans, and I believe that’s a journey and not a once and for all. And the second part is, you said to have this capacity to be out in the dark and alone, and that’s how it should be, right, as humans. And what I’ll say, the restoration is the one side of the coin, and the other side of that coin for me is the shoulds, right. So as someone who, I’ll call it, has survived significant trauma starting when I was age 14, before I was even an adult, I have gotten to explore over the course of my life what it means to experience life without trauma, and sometimes I realize the trauma is there, and sometimes I don’t. And when it’s removed, I’m like, “Oh, this is not a thing that people carry around with them.” Right.
0:38:21.5 TM: And as part of my, I won’t say it’s my process, but it’s been really important for me from a mindset standpoint, to not go into the shoulds right, because for me, the shoulds are a beautiful path to feeling disenfranchised, to feeling disappointed, to being like, “I should have had this, I should have been able to feel this way, I should have been able to walk alone in the dark,” and instead really focus, not focused on necessarily what was taken, and to focus on what has been restored. And also the gifts that I have received from these traumatic experiences, now, don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t do it again, and I wouldn’t wish it on my first and on my worst enemy, and for me, if I could look at the gifts of that trauma and to see the good in it, that has allowed me to stay away from the sense of depression and loss and disappointment.
0:39:35.2 PA: I love that, and what comes up for me is then with that process of restoration comes this sort of choice and agency, where maybe before we felt like… And I feel this has been true for me with traumatic experiences that I’ve gone through, that some of the choices that I make weren’t fully mine necessarily, if they were influenced by a story that I was continuing to tell myself. This armor that I had built up and that by releasing that, by becoming vulnerable with it, by looking into it and transforming it, alchemizing it, then there is this… ‘Cause you mentioned disenfranchisement in terms of these shoulds, there is this capacity of, “oh, I do have full choice and full agency, and I have the capacity then to choose the story that I wanna tell”, and I think I wanna bring this back in terms of resilient leadership because when it comes to leadership, when it comes to resilience, so much of leadership that I’ve experienced is how do we empower others who are on our team who are within our organization, who are maybe in our family or community to let them know that they have full choice and agency to create what they wanna create.
0:40:50.2 PA: And so that gets me into like you’ve already hinted at at some of these when it comes to the Five Practices Of Highly Resilient People, you mentioned the first one being vulnerability, could be that restoration is another one I’m not… I’m not totally sure, but I’d love if you could just sort of talk through the rest of those practices, what are those Five Practices Of Highly Resilient People, and then if possible, just weave in a little bit more about sacred plant medicine, how might it be that sacred plant medicine helps with some of these practices of highly resilient people.
0:41:27.1 TM: Yeah, I love that. So I wanna start with that story, if it’s okay, about the moment when I sort of had a foot in two canoes, and I think a lot of people who engage with sacred plant medicine have this moment after they’ve been in ceremony or been on a journey where they’ve done a series of ceremonies because all of a sudden, some of the things that we’re doing in our lives back home don’t seem to fit anymore, and we recognize that even though we read the script and the costume fit, that’s actually no longer who we are, or it was who we thought we were, but it’s not who we are, and we’re getting to this sort of truer notion of the truth about our purpose, ourselves, our experience. And so the first time that I sat with sacred plant medicine, I was heading up executive leadership development at Nike, and I was working directly with the C-Suite and my team and I were overseeing the development of the top 400 vice presidents across the organization. And so I was in ceremony, and I heard that I was meant to bring this work with sacred plant medicine to leaders.
0:42:55.3 TM: To leaders working in Fortune 50, 20, 100 companies. And I had no idea how to do that, what that would look like, what the pathway was. And so I did something that a lot of us do in those moments where I was like, I’m just gonna pretend I didn’t hear that. You know, and so the next morning when the eight or 10 of us were packing up our pillows and sleeping bags and stuff and getting ready to go on our way, a woman came up to me and she said, “I heard something for you last night in ceremony and I wonder if it’d be okay if I shared it with you.” And I was like, “Yes, you know, go ahead.” And she said, “Well, I don’t know anything about what you do or your background. But I heard that you’re supposed to bring this work to executives and leaders and corporations”, and I was like, “Okay, crap. Now, I can’t deny that.” Darn it, I go back to Nike. Right, and I think so many again, have this experience after ceremony where we sort of have a foot in two canoes were like, I’ve got a foot in my old life and a foot in what I saw and who I’m supposed to become, and these things are diverging by the moment.
0:44:07.4 TM: So I’m at Nike looking around being like, Okay, like, How am I gonna do this, right? And I remember meeting with an executive and I was… He and I had a nice relationship, so I thought, maybe I’ll just test this out. Right. So we were talking and I was like… And I asked him, I said, out of curiosity, have you ever worked with any plant medicine? And he’s like, Yes, I have. I was like, Oh my gosh, phenomenal. He’s like, Yes, my wife and I, we brew our own kombucha. And I was like, That’s amazing. And in my head was like, That’s not what I meant. [chuckle] So what I know now, and we’re all in our path to development, so I don’t pretend to be someone who’s found enlightenment, but I’ve done a few more ceremonies since then, and what I recognize now is anything that comes up for me in ceremony that I don’t understand that I don’t know how to do. That doesn’t make any damn sense. I trust it, and I know that the pathway and the trajectory and the people and the support will emerge in its own time. It was very much, this is now, gosh, more than three years ago, I was very much in that moment where I was like, How does this work? How can it happen? How can I, how can I, how can I?
0:45:39.0 TM: And so I think, one of the really important constructs for me, this is not a practice, but one of the important constructs is this notion of surrender and trusting what I see and what I hear and knowing that those elements will come together and I’ll be divinely guided. You know when the time is right. So since then, I’ve had the opportunity to leave that role at Nike, I had my own company on the side and I’d been doing that full-time. And in another ceremony, I heard, you are a medicine woman, you’re meant to bring medicine to people, and I was like, Jeez, am I gonna be like, Do I need to go to the Amazon? Do I need to go to Peru? And then later on, someone said to me, you know Taryn, this work that you’re doing with resilience and mental health and wellness, it’s such important medicine that you’re bringing to the world… And it was like, palm to forehead, Of course, of course, I’m not gonna be serving sacred plant [medicine]… The work that I’m doing, the resilience, the five practices, this is the… I am the medicine woman of these things, right.
0:46:55.7 TM: And so allowing that to emerge, so it’s just a little kid window into my trajectory and the work that I’ve done, so the five practices, to answer your question, we talk about the practice of vulnerability, allowing your inside self to match your outside self, and the vulnerability bias that keeps us in our vulnerability cage, and the second practice is the practice of productive perseverance.
0:47:20.7 PA: By the way I just wanna say, I love your alliterations. The alliterations are phenomenal and they’re so good for learning, I just know as someone who does a lot of teaching myself, the alliteration and the series of threes are great, so I just wanna acknowledge that and I would love to hear about the productive perseverance.
0:47:40.2 TM: Yes, stop me any time for a compliment. [chuckle] Yeah, so productive perseverance. A lot of people ask me, Okay, is resilience the same as grit? This kind of word grit has gotten some really good play, and grit, as you know, and many people know, is about continuing to move forward even in the face of obstacles and challenge. And what I like to tell people is like grit is kind of a component of resilience, but it’s definitely not the whole story. So grit comes up with this practice of productive perseverance. So productive perseverance is on the one hand, continuing to pursue our goals even in the face of challenge, that’s gritty, however, it’s also important that we quit things in our life, not everything that we start is going to be a success, not every relationship, every job. And so on the one hand, it’s continuing to pursue our goals in the face of challenge, and on the other side, productive perseverance is knowing when to pivot in a new direction, whether that’s a large or small when we’re facing diminishing returns. And this practice is super powerful, when we think about strategic planning with goal setting, what are those markers where we think to ourselves, “Okay, if I’m not reaching my goal, what are those kind of markers and what’s the art and the science of knowing when to pivot in a new direction.”
0:49:10.8 TM: So that’s practice number two, practice number three is the practice of connection. And everybody is like, “Oh great, yes connection with other people. I love that”, and I’m like, “Yes, that’s true. And first and foremost, it’s the connection with ourselves.” and so there’s so much conversation, as we mentioned around burnout and stress and exhaustion, there’s not a single person out there who is burned out, stressed or exhausted, who has maintained a positive and fully functioning connection with themselves, because when we start to disconnect from ourselves because there’s so much work or because we’re listening to the demands of others, or because we wanna please people or whatever it is, that’s when we start to get burned out, stressed and exhausted. When we sacrifice the connection with ourselves in favor of connecting externally. And so it’s a really important sort of inflection point around resilience around how we navigate the connection we have with ourselves alongside the connections we have with others, and what do we do when those things are at odds.
0:50:14.3 TM: The fourth practice is the practice of Grati-osity, which is a word that I made up to demonstrate what I was hearing from people in my research, so it’s the combination of the word for gratitude and the word for generosity, and so it’s about being able to look on a circumstance and even if we wouldn’t have chosen that circumstance, like my trauma in the stalker to be able to after some time say, I can see the good in that, I wouldn’t have chosen it. And I’m grateful for things that have come out of that or what I’ve learned or how I’ve been formed. So to be able to be grateful for the challenges that we face on some level. And then generosity is about sharing our resilient stories generously with others, to alchemize that pain, to make that test a testimony and to shine a light for other people that are on their journey, to share generously with others so they can learn vicariously through our experiences. I think one of the things we’re most afraid of as humans is that we’re alone, right. You talked about being an outcast or being rejected from a tribe, we’re terrified to be rejected, we’re terrified to be the only ones, and yet it’s through sharing our stories that we realize that we’re not alone.
0:51:31.8 TM: And then the fifth practice is the practice of possibility, and this is first and foremost focusing on progress rather than on perfection when we’re making strides and also navigating the inflection point between the inevitable risk and opportunity that exists any time we evaluate a new possibility.
0:51:59.5 PA: And I know I heard the bell in the background, so I trust that it’s… We gotta wrap up. We gotta wrap up pretty quick here. Pretty soon, ’cause your kids are coming. The kids are coming home from school aren’t they.
0:52:12.6 TM: Yes.
0:52:14.1 PA: Yeah, yeah. And we could keep going, and I think it would be worth continuing to dive deeper into this ’cause we’ve really just started to scratch the surface around resilient leadership and what are those five practices and how do they overlap with psychedelics and how might that play out into a leadership format. So we sort of, I feel like hit into a part one, and I’m really grateful that we were able to have you on even for the 45 minutes that we got to record, I do wanna make sure that our listeners… Based on this conversation, I know you have a book coming out. If there’s maybe a website or any place that they could go to check out more information where that might be, and then I would love to follow up, and I’ll do this privately just to potentially schedule another 45 minutes and we can get even deeper into some of these topics that we’ve started to just touch on briefly today.
0:53:08.8 TM: I’m here for part two. I’m here for it. Yeah, no, that’s great. I’m sure you’ll have things in your show notes, a great place to visit us is at our website, it’s resilience with a C resilience-leadership.com, that’s where we outline our Five Practices. We’ve got links to our articles and TED Talk, How Resilience Breaks Us Out of Our Vulnerability Cage, our podcast Flourish or Fold: Stories of Resilience. That’s a great place to check us out. Obviously, Flourish or Fold, the podcast that’s folks are listening to your podcast today, so if you wanna add another podcast here, que, Flourish or Fold: Stories of Resilience, is about well-known people sharing their lesser well-known stories of resilience, a peak behind the curtain, if you will, that allows us to see that the path to success is not seamless and handed to us, but there’s actually a tremendous challenge, change and complexity that occurs for people along the way and for all of us to be heartened, and knowing that when we face it in our own lives.
0:54:13.8 PA: Beautiful. Well, again, thank you for joining us for part one Taryn and we would… I would love to have you back, we’ll get another time in the calendar and enjoy the afternoon with your kids.
0:54:22.8 TM: Thank you, thank you so much. Such an honor to be here with you today.
0:54:26.4 PA: It was so fun. Yeah, I’m so glad we got to do it.
0:54:30.8 PA: Hey, Taryn, so we made it back for part two on resilience and leadership and plant medicine. It’s good to have you back.
0:54:39.3 TM: We’re back for part two. Part deux.
0:54:42.3 PA: Part deux, I like that. I love it. So in the first 45 minutes, we covered a little bit about your story and background and the relation of vulnerability to resilience and telling the heart story, and so to say. We then talked a little bit about plant medicine and psychedelics, and then we landed in talking about these five aspects of resilient leadership, and the first, I’d love to just quickly revisit those, and this is more for me than anything else, just to sort of jog the memory, and then the question that I would love for you to land on after just briefly reviewing those five is, which aspect of that do you struggle with most still, which aspect of those five Albans of resilient leadership, do you find yourself still “working on” or bringing more sort of awareness to. Or investing in. I’d love to hear a little bit about that.
0:55:46.0 TM: For sure. So as a review for you and for our listeners, the Five Practices Of Highly Resilient People, the first one is vulnerability. And vulnerability is allowing our inside self, our thoughts, our feelings, our experiences to match as closely as possible the outside self that we’re sharing or showing with the world, right? We’re being congruent. Now, vulnerability is important because when we’re facing challenge, when we allow people to see what’s going on for us inside, then we have greater access to support, to knowledge, to information, to help us through that moment of challenge. Because remember, resilience is all about how we effectively face challenge. So this, each one of these practices are meant to help us understand anytime challenge shows up in our lives, what can we do in those moments to create a more positive and productive outcome. Now, with vulnerability, it’s a really tough practice for a lot of people, myself included, because it appears that as humans, we’re hardwired to not be vulnerable, right?
0:57:09.7 TM: And so what I’ve uncovered is something called the vulnerability bias, which is the idea that when we think about being vulnerable, when we think about allowing ourselves to be seen and known, there’s a little voice in our head, some cognitive hard wiring that says, “Don’t do that. If you do that, the three Ls will occur.” The three Ls are people won’t like you, they won’t love you, and they might leave you. And so we’re like, Ooh, that sounds rough. Maybe I won’t take that risk to be vulnerable. Now, I think we talked about, last time we were together, this idea of, like, being excluded or exiled or ostracized in some way. And in fact, there’s neuropsychological research to support that when we think about being rejected or ostracized, that the pain centers in our brain actually light up. That there’s, you know, the experience of physical, what we would expect to be physical pain that comes along with this idea of being rejected or ostracized to some point.
0:58:27.8 TM: This is a very powerful thing for us as humans, because as we talked about, we’re meant to be pack animals. Evolutionarily, we’re meant to stick together because we’re more likely to survive together than we are individually and apart. So what to do about the vulnerability bias? Well, essentially what we get to understand is that this vulnerability bias is a cognitive hard wiring, but it’s a faulty promise. It’s a faulty prohibition. And we do take the risk to be vulnerable, to allow ourselves to be seen and known, typically that goes well for us and actually helps us in the midst of challenge rather than hindering us. The second practice of highly resilient people is the practice of productive perseverance. It’s about when we’re facing challenge and uncertainty, the art and the science of pursuing our goals in those moments, or just getting through that moment of challenge.
0:59:31.5 TM: It’s about on one hand, knowing when to maintain the mission despite facing challenge, and on the other hand, knowing when to pivot in the face of diminishing returns. You know, so often we talk with people and we say, You know, don’t be a quitter, don’t quit things, in the face of diminishing returns or sunk expense, sometimes it makes sense to just quit what we’re doing and start over again. Yet there’s also a very powerful prohibition against that in our society. So this is all about evaluating these moments of challenge, how we continue to pursue our goals, and when we might think about pivoting or shifting in a new direction. The third practice is the practice of connection. So this is first and foremost the connection we have with ourselves. We’re talking a lot about burnout, stress, exhaustion, overwork in our society today.
1:00:28.3 TM: I was just messaging with a gentleman on LinkedIn who actually stepped back from his CEO role and found that within a couple of months, his blood pressure and his biometric markers, his blood pressure declined. He went off blood pressure medication and his biomarkers all got better with no change in diet or exercise. So this is really the significant impact on stress in our lives. And if you think about it, we can’t get burned out, stressed or exhausted unless we compromise this connection with ourselves. If we’re eating well, exercising, taking care of ourselves, sleeping, meditating, doing things that bring us joy, those all buffer against burnout, stress, and exhaustion. Once we start compromising this connection that we have with ourselves, then we introduce the potential for these things to show up in our lives and have really significant and negative impacts for wellbeing; for mental health.
1:01:27.4 TM: Now, connection of course, is tricky because it’s not just about the connection we have with ourselves, it’s also about the connection we have with others. And what we do in those intersectional moments where the connection we have with ourselves is at odds with the connection we have with others. Someone wants something from us that we’re not sure if we can deliver. You know, we know someone would be happy if we do this, but we don’t really wanna, you know, we don’t really wanna go. So I’ve got a lot of great examples of that, but what I can tell you is that as humans, what I’ve found is that we are very likely to sacrifice our connection to ourselves in favor of doing something that we think someone else wants us to do. So during the pandemic, I had this little quiz that I gave people when I was speaking virtually, and it was a multiple choice quiz, and it said, You’ve been invited to an event, but you don’t wanna go.
1:02:22.9 TM: And then I gave people four options. The first option A, was to attend the event. The second option was to say, Well, I’ll go but I’ll contract in advance. I’ll only go for two hours. The third option was to go to the event, but to be a little more underhanded about your departure and to say like, you’re having childcare issues or you don’t feel well, and jet on out of there early. And then the fourth option was to not go right. So here, you know, that you’re being asked to attend an event that you don’t wanna go to. You’ve got four options, right? About 60. More than 60% of people said option A, they would attend the event even though they wanted to go. And even though there were two other options for them to authentically or inauthentically shorten their time there. So what’s really powerful about this practice is how we cultivate a deeper connection with ourselves, and then how we navigate those connections that we have with others.
1:03:26.6 TM: The fourth practice is the practice of Grati-osity. So this is about first and foremost being able to, after some time look on a challenge and to say, Ah, I wouldn’t have chosen that circumstance, but I can see the good in it. I can see the good of what happened. I can see ancillary things that occurred that were for my benefit. And then the osity part is generosity. So then being able to share resilient stories in a way that allows others to learn from us vicariously, right? In the business world, we get to use these things as coaching and mentoring, you know, in the, in our personal lives, we get to share these stories as a means of knowing one another and creating more closeness. And then the fifth practice is the practice of possibility. So vulnerability is kind of the foundation, possibility is really the highest order practice if you will.
1:04:22.3 TM: And it’s about being able to focus on progression rather than perfection. And when we face challenge to navigate the risk associated with challenge and the opportunity that exists in that challenge and how we navigate that dynamic or that dichotomy. So those are the Five Practices Of Highly Resilient People. And you know, what I’d say for me is I think there are moments, you know, where all of the practices are hard, maybe at the same time or there’s a moment where I’m like really struggling to maintain connection with myself in favor of the workload and what I’ve sort of promised to everyone else. Although I’d say, you know, I think the one that’s consistently hard for me and is consistently hard for a lot of people is the practice of vulnerability. Just because we’re so primed to demonstrate, you know, that everything’s okay.
1:05:25.3 TM: And I think we talked about the, talked about last time, like the, you know, the UFC fight, or not UFC, but the fighter in the UK who was talking about like how his mate had committed suicide. And he’s like, you know, guys, we really need to speak up. We as humans will like take our own lives sometimes, oftentimes before we tell people that like, stuff is not going well. And so that’s one of the things that I’m really on a crusade to change. I can see that in my own life, how I’ve stayed quiet during times when I most needed help. And I can see the times when I’ve had the courage to speak up and how that made things, you know, immensely better. And, you know, I think one of the messages that comes out of this work and the conversations that I’m having, the coaching, the consulting, the ways that I’m showing up in my community is that none of us are truly alone. As humans, it’s so tempting to think like, I’m the only one who’s having this experience. No one understands, but we’re never truly alone. We all have unique elements of our experience, and we all have universal elements of our experience. And being able to recognize that we’re not alone. And in those moments of challenge, the bravest thing that we can do is to raise our hand and to say, maybe the three hardest words “I need help”, is, in some ways, heroic and always life changing.
1:07:03.3 PA: Wow, that could be a keynote in itself. Just moving through those five resilient leadership elements. And I was writing down a bunch of notes, more or less about how this overlaps with plant medicine and psychedelics, ’cause that really is the core of what this podcast talks about and covers in the two aspects of this that you mentioned, vulnerability and connection that either you struggle with or many of us struggle with. These are what I would also frame as sort of more soft skills of leadership compared to, let’s say, productive perseverance or even compared to the last one, which was more around growth mindset and continuing to look at how we can grow and evolve. So this vulnerability and connection, these soft skills or leadership are also the ones that are most in demand in many ways, or the ones that are, that set apart, the best leaders from ones who are still up and coming so to say, and these are often, at least for me this ability to be vulnerable, this sort of sense of congruency, was really developed through ayahuasca in particular, as a plant medicine when I started to work with her.
1:08:17.3 PA: And I know we talked about her earlier in the show and then the connection element as well. Connection to myself, you know, when I first started working with psychedelics many, many years ago, LSD and Psilocybin, that was the first time that I had a chance to really drop in. And another thing that I made note of was there’s this phenomenal mindfulness based program called, MBSR, Mindfulness-based stress reduction by Jon Kabat-Zinn and he talks a lot about how that sense of connection then leads to all these sort of neuropsychological benefits, as it relates to burnout. The only other thing that I had made a note of as well, is earlier in the podcast, you talked about the way that shoulds show up, right? And, when I heard that example that you gave where people had four options, it really felt like that, Oh, I should show up to this even though I don’t want to go, was so present and central there. And a huge, as we talked about, a huge part of resilient leadership is listening. And oftentimes that means listening to ourselves and then making a decision that people might not agree with because we’ve stepped out of a people pleasing mode and we’ve really started to honor and listen to what our own needs are.
1:09:35.4 TM: Yes, absolutely. I was recalling a journey on ayahuasca, and I think we may have touched on this, you know, in our first conversation. So for people who haven’t heard that yet, or as a reminder, in one of my ceremonies that took place during the day, it was a very powerful ceremony. And I was first like just having this really blissful time, right? And then there was an invitation to come back up to the altar and to have a second cup or to have another cup, right? And what I heard in that journey was, well, you can stay in this blissful state if you want, or you can have that next cup and you can go deeper. And so I chose to take that next cup and to go deeper. And it was the most difficult, I would say, ceremony to date.
1:10:39.1 TM: And as they are one of the most profound, because what happened next was I started not being able to breathe like I was having issues with my airway. I saw lots of people around me getting sick. This was prior to the pandemic, just weeks before, lots of people not being able to breathe. Then I found myself, you know, getting sick and being unable to breathe. And I was uncertain in that moment if this was like really happening or like if I was gonna stop breathing in ceremony. And so I went and I got someone to come and sit next to me and to say, just keep watch. You know, I felt like I could go through the experience that I needed to go through just as long as I knew that there was someone there in the event that I stopped, that I stopped breathing.
1:11:40.6 TM: And so I really felt what that ceremony showed me it would be like to die and what that would feel like in my body to take my last breath, to feel my heart stop beating, to feel the blood start to pool in the core of my body, come out of my extremities. And the next thing that happened was, I’m an open water swimmer. I have been in the past, I haven’t done it recently, and I came up in the middle of a lake in like the middle of an open water swimming race, right? And there were, and so there I was, right? As you do in ayahuasca, I was there in my, you know, my swimsuit and my cap and my… I had just died of a thing. But now here I am in a lake and there were all these watercraft around canoes, kayaks, different people officiating the race, looking after all of the swimmers to keep us safe on this race.
1:12:44.6 TM: And what I heard and understood was that that process that I had gone through, I had died to self, and now I was being reborn. And what I understood was, “Taryn, all of these people are here to support you, to help keep you safe. So if you’re drowning and you don’t raise your hand to ask for help, and all these people are here purely to help, that’s on you. If you drowned, that’s on you because there’s all these people around who could and want to be there to help us.” And for me, that’s been such an instructive experience. As I think about the intersectionality of like vulnerability, connection to selves, sacred plant medicine, it’s this idea of like, even though vulnerability is hard, you know, what it means is we get to die to self and to recognize that we are always surrounded by people who can and do want to help us.
1:13:56.1 PA: And that makes us, it’s like this mycelial network I have to talk about on the podcast that create a sense of resilience. But it might even be something that’s, I love the concept of what’s beyond resilience even. So there’s a phenomenal author, his name is Nassim Taleb and the listeners have probably heard me talk about him before, and he has this concept called Antifragility or Antifragile. And it, he really talks about what does it take to go beyond resilience, so to say, into what he terms robustness. And what I’m hearing, even in this story of yours, which is really a death and rebirth, is when things get difficult or things get hard in life, we often, you know, we can have these practices that help us to stay strong in the face of challenge, so to say. But sometimes we need to be transformed through challenge. And so oftentimes when we work with plant medicine, that surrender, that allowance of death, is what creates the capacity to be transformed into something new. And so I’d love just to hear, I saw you shaking in your head when I was mentioning Taleb and Antifragile and resilience and sort of robustness, kinda, you…
1:15:24.0 PA: You’ve done so much work and research in resilience in particular. What do you see from a leadership perspective as being even beyond resilience? Is there something beyond resilience? Is resilience sort of the pinnacle of leadership? How do you… I guess, how do you look at that? How do you understand that?
1:15:43.3 TM: Yeah. You know, I loved everything that you said there, and what was coming up for me is the potent and transformative nature of challenge, right? And so, we’ve all heard of this concept called the bucket; you know, bucket list, right? And these are the pleasurable experiences, the things we want to have and do and be an experience during this lifetime, right? And what I started to think about was this idea of the reverse bucket list, right? So if the bucket list is all the pleasurable stuff that we want to do, the reverse bucket list is all the crap that we had hoped to avoid, right? We hope to avoid that health diagnosis, we hope to avoid that disability, we hope to avoid that loss of someone close to us, right? And yet, as I’ve gone through different versions of these types of losses and pains and disappointments and traumas, what I’ve found is that, okay, that bucket list stuff is nice and enjoyable, but the moment that I’m being changed, evolving, you know, transforming is really in these moments of challenge, in these reverse bucket list moments, if you will. And they’re so instructive.
1:17:26.1 TM: And one of the things that I talk about in my book that’s out next year, The Five Practices Of Highly Resilient People, is this idea that many of us believe that we should be able to engineer challenge out of our lives; like, if we’re strategic enough, savvy enough, proactive enough, see around the corners enough, we should be able to avoid all of that pesky challenge and disruption and volatility, right? And oftentimes, when we don’t, there’s a sense, at least in kind of our Western society, that somehow, that’s our fault, that we did something wrong, and now here, this challenge has come to us. And I want us to think about that in a different way, to think about the reverse bucket list as being one of the most critical moments, or challenge, change, and complexity as being these critical moments when we are transformed, when we are transported, when we evolve. And not only do we not want to engineer challenge, change, and complexity out of our life, we shouldn’t do it, because what it does is it removes one of the greatest teachers, one of the greatest sort of alchemic experiences that drives our transformation.
1:18:58.8 PA: I love that, and when we’re in those moments of challenge, or when we’re in those moments of confrontation or in those moments of death, this just brings us back to the importance of a support network, the importance of community, the importance of people who can hold us, because oftentimes, especially in Western culture, we have this very sort of individualist mindset, and there’s a sense of, “Holy shit, if I go and I do that thing, or if I have to face this thing, I’ll be alone, and there’ll be no one there to help me and support me.” And what we often learn is that… I mean, even through plant medicine, is that we’re never really alone, that there is that, even this greater being that’s looking out for us and has our back, so to say. And the other phrase I wrote down was memento mori, which is just sort of like that reverse bucket list of always having a sense of death, so to say, and that meditation on those reverse bucket list then allows us to be really grateful for the beautiful things that happen to us, because we realize how lucky we are to have health, to have wealth, to have family, to have connection. So it’s sort of like the, “Through the lightness, we’re able to see.” Or through the darkness, we’re able to see the potency of the light.
1:20:25.2 TM: Yeah, I think that’s right. You know, we learn more in the rainstorms than we do in those days of sunshine. And I think when we’re able to stop seeing the experience of challenge, change, and complexity as somehow being a personal failing on our part, as somehow being something that we “should have avoided”, something that we feel shameful about, and rather seeing it as both a normative part of life and this tremendous opportunity for growth, even though we probably don’t feel like that in this moment, then I think that starts to break down some of those barriers and those walls around vulnerability, and really allowing people to see what we’re going through in the moment, because then it’s not my fault that I have this diagnosis or that I faced this particular thing, but I’m going through what we call a normative human experience, right? And then I’m sort of freed up to share that more broadly with others, to be vulnerable, to get that help and support and that information in that moment, because now I’m not blaming myself saying, “I should have somehow been able to prevent this from happening.”
1:21:46.8 PA: Beautiful. That’s a wonderful way to bring it home. So before we close today, part two, now we’ve had a chance to really dive into so many more things, I would love just to hear a little bit about… You’ve mentioned a book that you have coming up… More… Which you’ve mentioned a few times, and I’d love to hear what you’re most excited about when it comes to your work right now, when it comes to, let’s say, the future of leadership, what is a project that you’re working on, what is maybe… Yeah, just kinda what’s going on in your world right now that’s really exciting and interesting and that our listeners would love.
1:22:31.5 TM: Yeah, thanks for asking that. So my sort of mission and vision for the work that I’m doing is to positively impact one billion lives, one billion people through the practices of resilience, which create greater hope, greater healing, greater health, engender more conscious leadership, and allow us to more effectively face challenge. And of course, in order to reach one billion people… I mean, we get to think about, or I get to think about, my team and I think about, you know, what are the different places and sort of the omni-channel approach that we can show up in people’s lives, right? And so, I’m super excited. I think I mentioned I have my podcast, Flourish or Fold: Stories of Resilience, which is about well-known people sharing their lesser well-known stories of resilience. There’s cool stuff we get to do, like I did a TED talk entitled How Resilience Breaks Us Out of Our Vulnerability Cage. It’s edging up to a million views now just in seven months.
1:23:47.4 PA: Wow. That’s great. Congrats.
1:23:49.2 TM: It’s been a beautiful way to reach new people with these concepts. We’ve got an online course called Flourish, where we really dive into the five practices. I’m doing coaching and consulting and keynote speaking inside of corporate organizations, educational institutions with the government here in the US and nationally. And there’s some cool stuff we’re looking at now about brand ambassador partners, so how can we partner with… In addition to kinda doing the training and the workshops and the executive coaching for people internally, the keynotes, how can we become a brand ambassador and do sort of… I’ll just… I’ll give an example, one of my favorite brands… This is not in the works, by the way, but if you’re listening, it would be fun! So one of my favorite luxury brands is Louis Vuitton, right? And so, could we, at some point in the future, do sort of like a “Resilience by Louis Vuitton” partnership, where we’re able to bring these concepts to consumers and customers and also create something really beautiful that exemplifies what it means to exude or engender resilience? So that’s a new pathway that we’re embarking on that I’m super excited about. I know I mentioned the book. And also, looking at more television and kinda broadcast opportunities so that we can create many a new challenge… Not challenges, many a new channels to be able to reach many lives and many people with this work.
1:25:40.4 PA: That Louis Vuitton thing sounds really interesting. It brought up another question around like, what objects do you represent resilience that are maybe inanimate or that are… ‘Cause the first thing that comes up is like a rock for me, like a… Or a mineral or a crystal. So if you could create a product line, almost, that embodies resilience, what are some of the ideas that you’ve thought about?
1:26:09.6 TM: Yeah, I love that you mentioned that. So I have this whole… It’s very much in the sort of like… I don’t even know if beta phase is accurate at this point. It’s very much in kind of the R&D moment of we haven’t moved this piece forward yet, but this idea of resilient style, and products, call it, that not only feel good, but are also doing good in the world. And so that means things that are sustainably sourced, things that are good for our environment, things that are giving workers or the people that create them a living wage, right? And that we’re also creating a product or a service… So that’s the do good part, or maybe we’re giving back. And then we’re also creating a product or a service that makes us feel good, like we feel good because of how it was created and how it was sourced, but also, it’s something that we enjoy in our lives, whether it’s something luxury or looking at a beautiful mineral or crystal that was sustainably sourced.
1:27:31.0 TM: So we’re starting to look at some of those partnerships around beauty, for example. You know, what are beauty products, creams, moisturizers, makeup that… Sustainably sourced, not tested on animals, has organic ingredients, and is… Feels and has a wonderful impact on our skin, for example? Thinking about athleisure wear, and how we can create athleisure wear that, again, is sustainably sourced and fairly made and compensates people well and doesn’t create a great deal of pollution in our environment, and then also, you feel good wearing it, and it’s got sayings and things on it that are not only uplifting for you, but when you’re on Zoom or when you’re walking through an airport or a mall or down the street, someone’s gonna see that phrase, and it’s going to uplift them; something as simple as, “Everything’s gonna be alright,” or “What scares you is sacred,” or… And so these types of things that both are doing good in the world and feel good to wear and experience.
1:28:50.6 PA: I love it. Well, Dr. Taryn, I just wanna thank you once again for coming on Third Wave’s podcast to talk about resilience and leadership and plant medicine and all of the many fun things that we got a chance to dive into today. I can’t remember if we did this in part one, so just another opportunity, and while we’re here now, if listeners wanna find out more about your work, you have a website, I imagine. You have… I know you’re active on a social channel here and there. Where can they find out more about your work?
1:29:24.0 TM: Yeah, come hit us up at our website. It’s resilience, with a C, leadership, resilience-leadership.com. We’re posting a lot on social media channels. We’re just getting into TikTok now, and we’ve got… Instagram or LinkedIn is a great place to come and find us, and I’m just delighted to be part of this… The overall kind of tapestry that you’re building and creating in these conversations, so thank you so much for having me. It’s such an honor to be here and to be invited back for part two, so thank you.
1:30:07.7 PA: Thank you, Dr. Taryn. This is so fun. Such an honor.
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