Episode 180: Getting your brain in the game: how to stop headtrash from ruining your day – with Renie Cavallari of Powered by AspireNew episode post

Things happen that put you in a bad mood but once you build awareness of this you can take steps to prevent these negative thoughts from influencing your day.

Renie Cavallari is the CEO and founder of Powered by Aspire, a globally awarded leadership development and strategic consulting firm.

She explains how to take control of your mind, deal with the voices in your head and prevent external factors from ruining your day.

She also talks about how your morning routine affects your mindset, the different forms of head trash that people experience and ways to decrease your emotional stress.

Today’s guest

Renie Cavallari of Powered by Aspire

Website: Aspire and Renie Cavallari

LinkedIn: Renie Cavallari

Instagram: Renie Cavallari

Facebook: Renie Cavallari

YouTube: Renie Cavallari

Renie Cavallari is the CEO and founder of Powered by Aspire, a globally awarded leadership development and strategic consulting firm, and the RCI Institute, an awakening human potential research and leadership development lab.  She is a fanatical entrepreneur having founded four companies plus a 501c3 and is recognized as an organisational anthropologist, CEO advisor and strategic leadership coach.

Renie is the author of seven books, with her latest, HEADTRASH: The Leading Killer of Human Potential, becoming an Amazon best seller and winning the prestigious Hollywood Bowl Best in Business award.  Renie is a member of the National Speakers Association and was named an “Outstanding Woman in Business” by Phoenix Business Journal.  Known as a dynamo who colours outside the lines, she and Aspire have won 18 consecutive Stevie® Awards as “Most Innovative Company.”  In 2020, the Stevie’s® recognized Renie for a Lifetime Achievement Award.  In 2023, Cavallari was awarded the EOAZ Citizen of the Year Award for her philanthropy and volunteerism.

What you’ll learn in this episode

  • [2:19] What an organisational anthropologist is.
  • [3:13] How leaders affect the team dynamics in their organisation.
  • [3:43] How Renie became focused on bringing brands to life.
  • [5:25] The principles of organisations being aligned with their brand.
  • [6:24] What headtrash is and how it can limit your potential.
  • [7:36] The key aspects of improving human performance.
  • [10:05] How a leader’s mindset can affect their organisation.
  • [13:43] Different forms of headtrash that everyone experiences.
  • [14:50] The difference between the functioning brain and the emotional brain.
  • [16:00] How to manage your thought patterns and remove headtrash.
  • [18:45] The three best ways to deal with negative thoughts.
  • [22:50] Questions you can ask yourself to become more solution-focused.
  • [27:40] The practice of improving your mental state to decrease your emotional stress.
  • [30:45] Five questions to ask yourself in the morning to connect with your emotional brain.
  • [35:22] Different ways to implement a practice of self-reflection.
  • [39:28] How to measure your progress in improving your mindset.
  • [42:55] Resources for improving your mindset and life outlook.

Resources mentioned in this episode

Please note that some of these are affiliate links and we may get a commission in the event that you make a purchase.  This helps us to cover our expenses and is at no additional cost to you.

Episode 180: Getting your brain in the game: how to stop headtrash from ruining your day - with Renie Cavallari of Powered by Aspire

Jeremy Cline 0:00
You're getting on with your day, and then something happens. Maybe your train is delayed, or someone cuts you up in traffic, or someone says a bad word to you, which makes you really angry. And then, that's it. Your day's wrecked. You can't concentrate, you can't focus on your work. All you can think about is that one event, which just seems to have completely crushed your day. How can you prevent this from happening? How can you stop one bad event from ruining the whole of your day? That's what we're going to talk about in this week's episode. I'm Jeremy Cline, and this is Change Work Life.

Jeremy Cline 0:36
Hello, and welcome to the Change Work Life podcast, the show where we're all about beating the Sunday evening blues and enjoying Mondays again. If you want to know how you can enjoy a more satisfying and fulfilling working life, you're in the right place. And make sure you hit plus or follow or subscribe on whatever app you're using, so you never miss an episode. Whenever I'm stressed or worried or angry about something, I usually find myself playing an argument in my head. I'm on one side, and the other person is either the person who I'm stressed or worried or angry about, or it's someone who my brain has identified will disagree with me. Of course, in reality, it's me on both sides. And whilst occasionally these internal arguments helped me to process a particular challenge, what usually happens is, I just work myself up and become even more stressed or worried or angry. So, what can I do to handle these internal thought processes differently? Well, I'm hoping this week's guest might have some suggestions. Renie Cavallari is an organisational anthropologist, a founder and CEO, a leadership coach and the author of seven books. Her latest book, HeadTrash: The Leading Killer of Human Potential, teaches you how to stop questioning yourself, gain skills to decrease anxiety, or awaken your potential and find more joy. Renie, welcome to the podcast.

Renie Cavallari 2:13
Thank you. It's great to be here.

Jeremy Cline 2:15
So, first of all, what on earth is an organisational anthropologist?

Renie Cavallari 2:19
Well, an organisational anthropologist actually works with teams to help them align. And so, teams always have dynamics, because people are messy. And so, we really zero in on four components. There's the need to inspire people, disrupt the way we think in an effective way, engage people into the process, and then ultimately, through doing that, we align people so that they can get to where they're going from an optimal way. So, it's not just scattered, it's more strategic in its approach.

Jeremy Cline 3:01
Okay. And in this work, do you mainly work with the leaders of those teams, or do you work with the teams as a whole?

Renie Cavallari 3:08
Well, our work really focuses on leadership, because leaders really determine the way. And so, when leaders are aligned, their people will be aligned. So, when we go to the core issue of team dynamics, 99% of the time falls in the area of leadership and its ability to create trust to be able to communicate effectively, to work from a standpoint of engagement, and ultimately, accountability.

Jeremy Cline 3:40
And what is your background to this? How did you get to do this kind of work?

Renie Cavallari 3:43
Well, ironically, I grew up in Corporate America, and 29 years ago, I decided to leave Corporate America and just do the things I love. And in Corporate America, I worked in the hospitality industry, bought and sold assets, Wall Street, worked in various ways to understand brands. And when I was really towards the end of my corporate career, I got into operations. And it became clear to me that what I had been doing, which was establishing strategy of brands and strategy of assets, that really needed to shift, because there was a huge market opportunity. Remember, I'm a strategist, and there was a huge market opportunity to help a brand come to life, versus come up with a concept of a brand. And that had been my background. But bringing a brand to life, operationalising how a brand should act, how it should deliver, what its service culture should be, this is really extremely hard work. And so, we became very entrenched in this work. It was very humbling for me when I gotten to operation, because I thought all these years, why don't they just execute my strategy? Like, here it is, you know, ta-da. Like there was some pixie dust that came with that. And really, the people who lead the execution of strategy, who operationalise the direction, they're the people that ultimately are the heroes because they get it done.

Jeremy Cline 5:24
That's interesting. And presumably, to kind of make a brand live, it's going to be an awful lot easier to do that if the organisation that the brand represents is already in alignment with that brand that it is trying to project.

Renie Cavallari 5:41
Yes, and alignment is easier said than done. Actually, there are six core principles around alignment. When any one of them is off, the senior leaders will not be able to be as effective. And once the leadership isn't as effective as it can be, then it just trickles down to the rest of the organisation and creates chaos. And the problem with chaos is that it makes us unproductive.

Jeremy Cline 6:11
I run the risk of hijacking my own interview, if I carry on down this, I better come back to why I actually asked you on in the first place. So, your book is called HeadTrash. What does that term HeadTrash actually mean to you?

Renie Cavallari 6:24
Well, HeadTrash, those nasty little voices in your head that derail you, they undermined you, they suck your energy, they also limit your potential in any number of ways. And when we understand that those little voices in our head aren't serving us, that we can actually learn how to dump them, then we get freedom, and we have creativity, we have the ability to collaborate with people, there's more positivity in our life experience. And that's really what we all want. We want to be happy. We want joy. I define joy as the actual definition of success, how much joy is in your life. And if you can say that you've got a lot of joy in your life, well, then you have a very successful life. It's not about money. It's not about things. It's about joy, and what brings you joy. And for each of us, that's different.

Jeremy Cline 7:23
And the subline of your book is The Leading Killer of Human Potential, which sounds pretty extreme. What did you give it such a powerful tagline?

Renie Cavallari 7:36
Doing this work for the last 29 years, I became really pretty much obsessed with, if you're here, if we're here to improve performance, what is it that actually elevates people to improve their performance. And Aspire, my firm, started to work with the RCI Institute, which is another firm that I have where we study human behaviour, it's an active live lab, and we zero in on leadership in particular. And by the way, everyone leads, because leadership is a behaviour, it's not a position. And we started to say, okay, well, if we need high-performing talent, we need them to be competent. And we started to study, well, what is it that makes some people highly competent, and other people not so competent? And we zeroed in on three things: mindset, skill set, and process set. And so, well, a lot of times when you get hired to work with people, let's say it's a sales organisation, or a senior leadership team that's trying to identify a strategic direction or a brand strategy, we can get into the skills and processes and teach people very quickly. But if a person does not have the right mindset, the skills and processes are secondary. And so, as a performance improvement company, Aspire needed to figure out, okay, first we have to get the head in the game. Because if the mind doesn't want to shift, because really performance improvement requires change, that's a nice way to say you've got to change something to improve something, and so we needed to understand, well, how is it that we help the mind have less anxiety around change? How do we help people shift out of their head trash, their fear of change, their fear of the unknown, so that they can trust and really lean into where their true potential is? So, head trash and mindset in particular, we looked at it as more than, hey, you have to have a positive mindset. We all know that. Problem is, sometimes we can do it. And how we learn how to manage and dump our head trash, that frees us up so that we can really get to our full potential. When we aren't free, when our head is not in the game, well, we limit all our potential.

Jeremy Cline 9:58
Before we dive into head trash itself in a bit more detail, I'd love to know if you've got an example of a person or an organisation where they had the skill set and the process set, but possibly didn't have the mindset. And if you've got a before and after examples that you can share, so people can kind of see in action.

Renie Cavallari 10:19
There's many, because we work with clients all over the world. And out of respect for the clients, I will not use their name. But this was a very, very large organisation, they had over 4000 assets around the globe, and they were number 11 of JD Power's, there were 13 in their category, and they were number 11 in terms of service deliberate.

Jeremy Cline 10:46
Just explain what that means, for those of us who have no idea what you're talking about with JD Powers.

Renie Cavallari 10:51
It means that you're so close to the bottom of the barrel, you're in trouble, your brand is not respected by the marketplace, by the consumer. And they wanted to increase that, obviously, they needed to increase that. And a traditional approach to that is to say, well, your services officer, we're going to do service training. And this is where that anthropology part comes through and where you're looking at, what's the real core issue here. And the core issue was leadership alignment. And they had dysfunction of their leaders all around the globe. And so, by starting first with helping them get their head aligned, get into the game, get excited and inspired by where they were going to go, to disrupt their way of thinking so that now they could start to imagine where they could go, they were able to go from number 11 to number seven, in just under 20 months, which was incredible. And they continue to do that. And to this day, all of their brands, they started with one brand when we started working with them, now they have 12-14 brands, and they were able to expand their brand footprint, because their market reputation had shifted. And all of the brands are in the top three now in JD Power's. So, it's not enough to understand the measurement or the goal. It's to understand what are the core problems prohibiting us from getting there. And frequently, and we always start with where is the mindset, and that's why it's number one, that if we get the people's head in the game, if we get them aligned together, then we have the ability to shift them to their potential. But if we try and go to, well, what's the strategy here, and of course, strategy is important, I believe in strategy, or what's the process we need to take, and how will we roll this out to people, all of that is important, and yet it's secondary if we cannot get people emotionally engaged. And that's leadership. And ultimately, that's having people really be able to inspire and get people to say what something can be together.

Jeremy Cline 13:05
Taking it back down to an individual level. So, in the introduction, I gave an example of what I identify as the head trash I routinely experience, having these arguments with effectively myself. I'm curious as to what are other examples of head trash, and perhaps some that people might not have thought of, rather than the obvious ones, like feelings of, oh, I can't do it, that kind of thing. But what are the things that people can, they might not have identified as these kinds of thoughts, but in effect, it really is a form of head trash?

Renie Cavallari 13:42
Well, it happens in varying degrees throughout your day. We all have head trash, and it's just varying degrees of it. It can be as simple as, you're in line at the grocery store, you're in a rush, and the person in front of you doesn't get out their credit card to pay. And so, you're sitting there, you're standing there, and you're like, 'You're holding up the line, why can't you just, of course you have to pay, get your credit card out!' So, it's those little voices that can make you just be not a very kind person. Like in your brain, you're thinking, 'Hey, like, move it along, you're holding up the line.' It can be something that happens at home with your partner in life, and they get annoying, and you go into your head and say, 'They always do that, na-na-da-da-da.' And it can be big, it can be something where it is so upsetting to you that you can't sleep at night, and those little voices kick in. So, I think the commonality of head trash is in that there's this self talk that's happening that's undermining us, or that's making us, what we call, live in the disconnected side of your emotional brain. So, the RCI Institute, when we started studying our leaders, and we started studying human behaviour, we identified that there is, of course, we all know we have a functioning brain, it tells our body how to operate, but we actually have an emotional brain that is running our life. It's truly running our emotions. And there are two sides to it, the connected side and the disconnected side. And the connected side, of course, is where positivity is. But more importantly, it's where collaboration is, fun, happiness, the ability to solve the problem is on the connected side of your emotional brain. We breathe more effectively when we're on the connected side. The disconnected side is where your head trash lives, and that head trash can trigger anxiety, worry, fear, certainly negativity, it prohibits us from seeing opportunities, and most importantly, it keeps us stuck in the problem. And that is the key, is that when we have our head trash kick in, we are in the problem of something, and we need to shift out of the disconnected side, so we can get to the solution, which is over in the connected side of our emotional brain. And we've identified a variety of ways that you can do that, so you can manage and dump your head trash in your life.

Jeremy Cline 16:15
So, is this about avoiding ever getting angry?

Renie Cavallari 16:17
I don't know about you, but I think that's a pretty unrealistic expectation of human beings in general. You know, someone cuts you off on the highway, and you have to swerve to get out of the way, and your heart races. I'd like to say I'm a highly evolved person, and I'd say, 'Oh, my gosh, they must be in a hurry.' And I don't. I think, 'Oh, my God!', you know, I won't even go there. And so, I think that that's the thing, is that we all know that anger doesn't help us, we all know we shouldn't be negative or that the person maybe just didn't see us when they were cutting us off. Or maybe they did, who knows? But we can't really affect what is happening to us, except we can affect how we react to it. And that's where's the understanding how to manage our head trash. And we have a simple model, it's that you have to own it, and then you have to shift it, you have to shift out of that disconnected side and into the connected side of your emotional brain, so you can dump it. And so, I think it's unreasonable to think that we're going to live life, and everything is going to just be clicking. This morning, I had a whole bunch of things I needed to get done, drop off packages to be shipped, I had to stop off at the dry cleaner, all those little itty-bitty things, I was up nice and early, getting them done. And it was all working for me today, Jeremy. And there are days where I hit every traffic light, there's a line at the UPS store, my dry cleaning isn't ready, or the line is too long. And now, I'm up against time issues and have to get back and this, that and the other. And so, just pretending that it's not going to be there is lying to ourselves. It's not helpful at all. When we know, when we learn how to shift, now we have a personal power we need to live the way we want to live.

Jeremy Cline 18:21
So, when a negative thought pops into your head, I've got in mind a few ways that you can mentally deal with it. You can try and squash it, you can try and ignore it, you can maybe analyse it, persuade yourself with the counterfactual, that kind of thing. What's the best way to deal with one of these negative, angry, or anxious, or worrying thoughts when it comes into your mind?

Renie Cavallari 18:45
In the book, we refer to the three biggest ways. And I think that in studying human behaviour for a living, one is, of course, you can change your environment. And so, you just step away. And we can do this at home, or we have a situation in a meeting where we just take a break, and we gain our perspective back. It works sometimes; sometimes it doesn't work. The second way is who you hang with is who you become. So, if you're in a situation where it's really difficult, and you're hanging with people who are negative, or who are anchoring this problem over and over for you, they're going to keep you in that disconnected side. So, you need people in your life that live in the connected side, that can help you go to the connected side, that are supportive of you, and yet, don't join you in the disconnected side of your emotional brain. So, those are two things. I think the single greatest tool that we can put in our toolbox is to look at the questions we ask ourself. Life is about the quality of the questions you ask. Because the quality of the question determines your thoughts, and how you feel is a derivative of how you think. I feel the way I think. So, if I asked myself the question, why is this happening? Why does this person not have their credit card out? It just fires me up. Where if I asked myself questions like, well, you know, who do I want to be right now? Which, by the way, is my favourite question when I'm really getting uptight in a situation where it's like, who do I want to be right now? It's like, well, I don't want to be that horrible person who is making other people feel bad, or I don't want to be a mom who's being judgmental of her child, or I don't want to be an unsupported partner, or whatever that is. But there's also questions that I love for work in particular, it's like, what's the first thing I can do to improve the situation? That's a much better question than what happened here. 'What happened here' keeps you in the disconnected side of your emotional brain and in the problem. 'What's the first thing I can do to improve this situation' shifts us into the solution. Or another great question is, well, I have a company that's global, and someone somewhere did something not so smart and while I was sleeping. And so, if I get into a call early this morning, and they're explaining it, or I say, 'So, walk me through the problem', then I'm in the problem. If I say, 'So, what's important for me to understand so I can help us find a solution?' Now, I'm going to get the information I need, but I don't get story time. And I don't know about you, when you have people who work for you, and they get into story time, it's like my head explodes. I don't want to hear all of that. I want to know what is the core issue here that we need to solve together. And that's another great question. Tell me the core issue we need to solve, or you need to solve. And when that happens, we're shifting people. And so, we can do that for ourselves, and when we have really great leadership skills, we can do it for other people. So, let's say you're having a situation at home with your partner, and you're going back and forth, and back and forth, or whatever is happening. And someone finally gets to the connected side of their emotional brain. Because if two people are arguing, and they're both on the disconnected side, neither can hear. That's why people repeat themselves over and over again, no one's being acknowledged. Acknowledgement is on the connected side. Someone has to get to the connected side. And it's usually a great question that allows you to do that. So, how can I support you here? Or what is it that we need to do differently so we can both feel better? That's a great question. Versus, why do you keep doing this? Why do you feel that way? That keeps a person anchored in the disconnected side. And it's really subtle. So, we have to understand what we call shift questions. And if you go to my website, under Resources, there's a free download, and they're stuck questions that keep you stuck on the disconnected side, and there's shift questions that free you up, that allow you to get into the solution. And those shift questions, boy, they can change your life.

Jeremy Cline 23:17
And I haven't had a chance to look at those yet, but I'm going to bet the majority of the free questions are of the open sort, probably starting 'what' or 'how', rather than 'why', whereas the stuck sort is probably more the 'why' or the 'is' or that kind of thing.

Renie Cavallari 23:34
In some regards, that is true. But I think it goes a little deeper in terms of when you say, 'What happened here?' It's an open ended question, it keeps you in that disconnected side. Versus, 'What's important for me to understand so I can help you solve this?' That takes a different tone to it. And so, it gets the person to move into the solution. And that's the power of shift questions. They're shifting you from the disconnected side of your emotional brain, to the connected side. And when we have the power, one, to do it for ourselves, and we have to do it for ourselves first, because if you and I are having a conversation, and we're both in the disconnected side, we're not going anywhere, and that goes back to the organisational anthropology, is that you have to deal with the dynamics of the team, and team dynamics, as I said earlier, people are messy. That's what makes us interesting. And yet it also breaks down trust, it breaks down rapport. And so, understanding how to shift people to the connected side of their emotional brain, in particular leaders who will shine the light for other people to see the way, now all of a sudden, we can get them aligned.

Jeremy Cline 24:51
And I think that's one of the reasons I like this question about this, who do I want to be right now, because the freeing questions which you can use with other people, but if you are lying awake at three in the morning having an argument in your head, then that's the point. And we can go on about the fact that your brain chemistry at three o'clock in the morning is rather different to how it is normally, but you can, for example, try and ask yourself this question, 'Who do I want to be right now?' Well, I want to be someone who's not having arguments in my head and who's just drifting serenely off to sleep and isn't projecting this persona on this poor other person who has no idea what I'm doing. Maybe I kind of think, well, I don't really want to be doing that, I'm not that bad a person, why am I making them out in my head to be this terrible, evil person? So, yeah, you can use this question to unstick yourself.

Renie Cavallari 25:47
Yes, that question is my go-to question when I find myself in judgement of another person. And I'm judging, and I get stuck in that judgement. And we all do that. And the world right now is, there's so much negativity. And it is what it is. I mean, you know, we have wars, we have people dying, here in the States, we have politics that is just stunning for me. I just, it's like, what is, you know, they aren't, they're all living in the disconnected side of their emotional brain. And what I know for a fact is that when leaders are living in the disconnected side of their emotional brain, they get nothing done. You know, it's a scary thing when you have people who need to be making decisions that impact billions of people can't get aligned, and we have an alignment problem. And so, I can go into that bad, negative place of what's happening, and who are these people, and why is this da-da-da, or I can say, 'Who do I want to be right now? How do I help those I can be in the power spot of their world, which is in that connected side? And how can I help them lead and make my part and push positivity and push feelings of collaboration and finding middle ground? What can I do in my small world to help people shift?' If enough people start to do that, people will come. Change always occurs, that's the one thing that happens. Change always occurs.

Jeremy Cline 27:33
We touched earlier on the fact that it's probably not possible completely to eliminate head trash. There are going to be the thoughts which come up, be they situation specific or whatever. But the strategy seems to be, as you saying, I suppose number one, identifying it, and then number two, asking yourself the question that gets you out of that disconnected side and into the connected side. So, it seems like it's a practice as much as anything else.

Renie Cavallari 28:07
You are absolutely correct. It's like building any other muscle group. You just have to understand the process. Own it, shift it, then you can dump it. And when you start to build that muscle, now, there's things you can do more proactively. So, what I shared with you are three ways to deal with when crazy happens, when that head trash already kicked in. Well, one of the things that, as a mama, I remember when my daughter was young and growing up, and I would get up in the morning, and I would turn on the news, and of course, it was full of negativity, and then I would look at my email, and someone did something bullish somewhere on the planet while I was sleeping, and so now I have these emails that are throwing me my disconnected side of my emotional brain, and I didn't give myself enough time to meditate. And by the way, how we start our day, I'll come back to that, is very important. And then, I would go downstairs, and I would go to cook her breakfast, and oh my gosh, you know, she wants this, and I don't have it, and yada yada yada, head trash, head trash, head trash, and then she shows up for breakfast, and she's not fully dressed. And I'm like, 'Why are you not dressed? What are you waiting for? You have your responsibilities. I have mine.' And then, I'm making lunch, and I don't have everything I need, or whatever it is, I got crazy going, chaos going. And when we have high levels of emotional stress, we have chaos. And so, then of course, we get in the car, and I drop her off to school, and I go, 'Hey, have a good day', as if that's going to change everything. I throw my own child, who I adore, into the disconnected side of her emotional brain. And then, when the teacher says at pick up, 'Hey, you know, I noticed Bella was a little off this morning.' I'm like, 'I wonder why!' As if I had nothing to do with that. And so, I really believe, and this is one of our key findings through the RCI Institute, was that how we start our morning is critical. And we must start our morning on the connected side of our emotional brain. And going to your point, it's like a muscle. You have to build different habits. So, then you can decrease this emotional stress. Because when we decrease our emotional stress, we have clarity. And when we have clarity, we have productive action. So, the antithesis is true. When we have high levels of emotional stress, we have chaos. And when we have chaos, we have unproductive action. Right? So, we react, it's not like we don't have action, it's just that the action is probably not so brilliant, like me in the morning creating crazy and getting things going, that really were ineffective. To get to that connected side of your emotional brain, we identified five questions that allow you to start each morning on that connected side. And they really are there to help with the practice of creating joy. And joy lives on the connected side of your emotional brain. And so, those questions, the first question is, what is my word of the day? And that gives you a sense of intention that really helps you understand how is it that I intend to feel or be today. And like today, you and I were meeting, and so my word of the day is 'inspire'. Yesterday was 'productive'. I was travelling back, I've been on the road for almost nine weeks speaking and doing a variety of work, and I was like, I just needed to get productive, so I could start my day. Usually, on Sundays, my word is 'love', because I'm with my family. But there's lots of different words that can set you, that align for your intention of the day. The second question is, what head trash do I need to dump from yesterday? So, if you go back to that model, own it, shift it, dump it, that's owning your head trash. So, you just jot down what it is. You don't have to get into the whole thing. But you know what you need to dump. This person annoyed me, or I didn't hear from this person, it made me feel sad, or I got in an argument, and whatever it is. The third question is, what did I accomplish yesterday? So, Jeremy, if you think about it, this is a shift question. It's shifting you out of that head trash into accomplish. And when we feel productive, right, we have lower levels of emotional stress. So, we now can identify, okay, what did I accomplish yesterday? The fourth question is, what is most important for me to focus on today? Again, a productivity question. You're shifting into your power space of what's important for me to be productive about today and focus on today. And then, the fifth question is, what am I grateful for? And I love that question for any time of day, because gratitude decreases our emotional stress. And so, all of a sudden, we step back, and we gain a little perspective. I'm grateful for my daughter and grateful for my life that I got to spend time with my sister last week, whatever it was that is enhancing your life. And we all have things that we can be grateful for. And I would tell you in the middle of the night, the question that I do ask myself, if I have some head trash brewing, or I'm upset about something, is I ask, 'What am I grateful for?' And that shifts me out of whatever that tape that's going crazy in my brain, into something that decreases my emotional stress. And now, I'm going to be able to drift asleep. And I just keep thinking of all the things that I'm grateful for, until I usually fall asleep before I get the list done. But it is a practice, you are correct. The joy journal was created, it was created so that there was a guided journal, because I'm a writer, but I'm not a journaler, and so it's almost like, you know, I have to have, I meditate every day, and so I need a guided meditation because I got too much going on in this crazy brain of mine. And so, I felt that, for myself, actually, the joy journal was really created for me about 20 years ago, 18 years ago, when I realised I need to move from the connected side of my emotional brain every single morning, not just for my daughter and my family, but because I'm leading people. And if I am in the disconnected side of my emotional brain, I create all that crazy for everybody else.

Jeremy Cline 34:32
So, these five questions, and you mentioned earlier, a morning routine, can you give people some practical ideas about how to ask themselves these questions, when to do it, where to incorporate them, should people be writing down their answers, how long do you spend? I can already hear people going, 'I've got enough to do in the morning without worrying about writing for 20 minutes, answering these questions.' So, yeah, I'd love to know your thoughts on that.

Renie Cavallari 35:23
You can do it any way you choose. And it shouldn't take you five minutes. And that's the point. When I started using these questions, and even to this day, but back then, I was crazy mama, I was the primary caregiver of my daughter, I was getting her to school, and then I had, I own four companies, and there was a lot going on, you know, a lot. And so, this is the gift I would give myself. And honestly, sometimes it was so crazy in the morning, I was like, this is embarrassing, but I would do it like in the toilet, like in the bathroom, because it was the only place I had peace. And so, for me, I like to write them down, because it also is a chance for me to be reflective. But you can take those five questions, put them on an index card, and when you're brushing your teeth, think through those questions. It can be that simple. You know, some people, it's better for them to, I believe it's better for us to anchor it and to sit down and to write them out, so you jot them down, and you're on your way. And it would never take, five minutes is probably overstating the time it takes to ask those questions. What's most important is that you really take the time and give it to yourself. I think, in general, your morning routine, what we have found is the morning routine and our morning habits set the tempo for our day. So, like for myself today, I got up extra early. I knew you and I were on 8:30, and I need to be back in my house by eight o'clock, so I can get ready, be in my space, not worried about, because when crazy happens, it's usually because you're running out of time, and head trash can frequently kick in because of time. And so, I was out of the house at seven, and I was taking care of things, et cetera. So, I think we have to be very conscious, conscientious about how we start our day. Some people, it's working out, they want to run. And I do yoga every day, or five times a week. So, I make sure that I have my time to meditate, I do my joy journal, and then I do yoga, or I'll work out. How we start our day to make sure that we have self care, even if it's only five minutes. But if we can do 45 minutes a day, then we're going to just be that much, we'll have a sense of accomplishment. And that will decrease our emotional stress. And I think that's what's most important here, is that when we understand how to dump our head trash, when we understand how to actually facilitate joy in our life, which is what the joy journal does, then we decrease emotional stress. When we decrease emotional stress, we gain clarity. And clarity gives us peace of mind. Clarity gives us productive action. Clarity, if you even think in a business environment, when everyone is clear about what they're trying to achieve, they can align. When it's chaotic, everyone's going in different directions. And that's where we have waste, redundancy, error costs, misunderstandings, and misunderstandings can lead to resentment and other things, because we have too much chaos. So, we have to learn how to decrease our emotional stress, so we replace chaos with clarity.

Jeremy Cline 39:01
You've already mentioned a few ways that you can implement this practice. So, people could keep a written journal, others could meditate, others could use an index card, which they stare at whilst they're cleaning their teeth. What works for one person isn't necessarily going to work for another, and so there's a case for experimenting, trying to see what works for you. Connected to that, I'm just wondering how you can measure progress, so that you can reach the decision after a period of time. You know what, I'm going to try doing this a different way. So, how do you know that it's working?

Renie Cavallari 39:41
First of all, if we feel better, we feel better. And we just didn't know, you know. We know that there's not as many upsets in our home, because we are showing up differently. But personally, as I said early on, I was a strategist first, that was the beginning of my career, and I literally score myself in terms of how much joy is in my life on a pretty regular basis. I score myself one to 10, and 10 is, I am in full-out joy. And when I start to notice myself, where I'm not feeling joy, I start to self reflect in a variety of areas. Is it my relationship? It might, you know. Is it my family? Is it my work? Is it my self care, which would be emotional health? Is it my physical health? Finding time for fun? And so, we actually have a model called the 360-for-life model, and we walk people through it, I'm actually meeting with a large group of YPOs, I'm flying out on Wednesday, and I'm meeting with Young Presidents Organisation, a group of YPOs, and we're walking through this model, what happens for us when we become conscious about how we're living, versus just doing all the time. And it's a discipline. We have to stop and look. And we literally score ourselves on where are you in these areas, and where do you want to go. And when we look at our life, and say, 'This is how I want to live', and we slow up to decide what that is, we do that for our businesses and our teams all the time, and yet, we don't do it for ourselves. And so, the 360-for-life model allows people to stop and really move through and decide where are you and where do you want to go. And then, we ask the question, okay, so what is it that will have to change for you to get there? Because life is about performance too. How do you want to live, that's performance. And this is it. This is your life. And for me, I feel so blessed because my work brings me tremendous joy. My family brings me tremendous joy. And I look around, and I see so many who don't feel joy. And that saddens me. And so, when we can help others rise, boy, we can change anything.

Jeremy Cline 42:27
Renie, you've given us a lot of inspiration, which you said was your word of the day, and I think, certainly the tools to enable us to find our own joy. So, I'm extremely grateful for you for coming on and sharing these tips. Aside from your own seven books, if someone's interested in diving into this topic of mindset and avoiding mind chatter, where else can you point them?

Renie Cavallari 42:57
There's a great book that recently came out called, The Dream Factory. And it's by Peter Thomas. And Peter is an extraordinary human being. He is an entrepreneur and philanthropic beyond words, and grew up in Canada, and did not have an easy life. So, it wasn't, like myself, I'm a scrappy girl from Philly, I can relate to Peter, because he had to make it happen. And The Dream Factory is really about how do you create and live your dreams, and how do you make those dreams happen. And it's from an entrepreneurial perspective. He is a crazy entrepreneur, and he has done a lot of things. So, I think that's a great book. And it's full of stories and perspectives. So, it's an easy read, that you can find nuggets in there that can help you really live a life of purpose, and when I say purpose, it's like you are purposeful. That's what the 360-for-life model is. It's being purposeful about how you want to live. And I think that there's lots of insights there.

Jeremy Cline 44:18
And where should someone go if they want to find out more about you? Where's the best place for them to find out what you're about?

Renie Cavallari 44:27
Well, you can go to Powered by Reine, so that's poweredbyrenie.com, for those resources for how to learn, how to dump your head trash, that are free on that site, as well as the joy journal is on that site. So, you can find a variety of resources there. And then, of course, Amazon. But Power by Renie has a ton of resources that are available for people.

Jeremy Cline 44:59
Brilliant. Links, as always, in the show notes. Well, Renie, thank you so much for coming on and sharing such an inspirational array of tips.

Renie Cavallari 45:10
Thank you. Have a beautiful day.

Jeremy Cline 45:13
Okay, hope you enjoyed that interview with Renie Cavallari. Things are going to happen. You can't stop that. And sometimes those things will put you in a bad mood. And that's also really difficult to stop happening. But what I took from this interview was that, once you've got an awareness that this is happening, then you can start to take steps to prevent it from ruining your day and being something that you keep on dwelling on. And I loved the idea of reframing questions. So, rather than what's the problem here, you can instead ask a question like, how do we solve this here? Now, I'm under no illusions that this is not an easy thing to do in practice. Even when I'm consciously aware of the negative thoughts running through my head, and I try to start to take steps to recognise them for what they are and try to deal with them, I do still find my mind turning back to those negative thoughts themselves. And that's where practice comes in. Renie likened it to exercising a muscle, and the more you exercise it, the stronger it gets. And it's that conscious awareness in the first place, that, if you like, gets you to remember to start doing your exercises. Show notes for this episode are on the website at changeworklife.com/180, that's changeworklife.com/180, and there you find a summary of everything we talked about, a transcript, and links to the resources that Renie mentioned. Dealing with these negative automatic thoughts is something that I regularly help my clients with during our coaching sessions. We start to explore the thoughts and the beliefs behind the thoughts, and when clients start to challenge those beliefs, they realise that they're able to overcome the thoughts, and they stop those beliefs and thoughts from getting in the way of their actions. So, take a moment to think now what do you believe that's getting in the way of you making progress. What career goals do you have, which you have just written off as being impossible? Chances are, it's not objectively impossible, but it's a belief that you hold which is preventing you from taking the right action. If this sounds interesting, head over to changeworklife.com/coaching, that's changeworklife.com/coaching, where you can book a conversation with me to find out just what coaching can do for you. If you like what you heard, then make sure you subscribe to the show. We've got more great conversations coming up. So, hit Subscribe on whatever app you're using at the moment, and I can't wait to see you in the next episode. Cheers. Bye.

Thank you for listening!

If you have any questions or comments, please fill out the form on the Contact page.

I would be so grateful if you’d: