Everyone has natural talents and abilities but how do you identify what these are and make sure you’re using them in your day-to-day life?
Steven Rudolph is a coach and founder and CEO of Multiple Natures International. He explains how to find out what your natural talents and abilities are, focus on work that you both enjoy and are good at and escape the societal expectations that don’t serve you.
Steven Rudolph of Multiple Natures International
Website: Multiple Natures International
LinkedIn: Multiple Natures International
Facebook: Multiple Natures International
In 1989, while pursuing a career in music in New York, Steven Rudolph took up a part-time teaching job to make ends meet. In his first class, he had an epiphany: that he had an innate capacity to teach. Though he had no formal training, it was as if he already knew how to do it. The realisation led him on a 21-year quest to India, where he uncovered 5,000-year-old secrets to self-understanding and achieving one’s potential. Steven has taken those principles and crafted them into an easy-to-use, enjoyable program – Feed Your Tigers. Steven now lives in Cambodia where he serves as CEO of Multiple Natures International and explores how ancient Eastern wisdom can help people (and their tigers) become more aligned.
What you’ll learn in this episode
- [5:31] The danger of overestimating or underestimating your abilities.
- [9:52] How to let go of the expectations society places upon us.
- [15:50] The difference between hard work and challenging work.
- [18:13] What to do if you feel you have no talents.
- [20:26] How to find out what your natural talents are.
- [24:40] How to help your children identify their natural talents.
- [26:04] How to balance what you enjoy and what you’re skilled at.
- [32:31] How to assess where you are misaligned in your work.
- [37:23] How understanding yourself can help you respond to outside challenges.
Resources mentioned in this episode
Please note that some of these are affiliate links and we may get a small commission in the event that you make a purchase. This helps us to cover our expenses and is at no additional cost to you.
- The Queen’s Gambit
- “There’s not a letter that cannot be made into a mantra, there is not a herb that cannot be made into a medicine and there is not a person without a valuable quality, but the rare thing is somebody who can find those qualities and help to extract them.”
- Nataraja, the Dancing Shiva
- Getting Right With Tao, Ron Hogan
Episode 140: How to discover and use your natural talents - with Steven Rudolph of Multiple Natures International
Jeremy Cline 0:00
Everyone has their own natural abilities. They're the things which just come easily to you. But how do you identify your own natural talents? And what can you do to make sure that you're using them in your day-to-day life? 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 0:35
Hello, and welcome to Change Work Life, the podcast that's 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, then you're in the right place. When you use your natural talents in your day-to-day life, that's when the magic can happen. When he received the BBC Sports Personality Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008, former England footballer sir Bobby Charlton said about playing football that it was easy for him, and he couldn't understand it when people couldn't play the game. This is from the man who helped England win the World Cup in 1966 and whose record as England's top goal scorer stood for 45 years. Now, maybe we can't all be international footballers, but we all have natural talents that come easily to us. So, how do you find your own natural talents? And how do you make them part of your day-to-day life? That's what we're discussing this week with my guest, Steven Rudolph. Steven is the founder and CEO of Multiple Natures International, and he helps people to understand themselves, to become more aligned and to achieve their potential. Steven, welcome to the show.
Steven Rudolph 1:46
Hey, Jeremy, thanks for having me.
Jeremy Cline 1:48
Why don't you start by telling us a little bit about you and what it is that you do?
Steven Rudolph 1:53
To make a long story short, I originally had plans going way back to going to music for a full-time career, and I had to get a job to pay the bills and got a job as a teacher. And I was absolutely smitten with teaching, the first hour of teaching, I was already swimming in it, it came so naturally to me, and I realised that, hey, this is what I was meant to do. Like I heard the voice from the sky, you know, you're not a rock star, you're a teacher. And so, from then on, I became really obsessed with understanding why in our education system we're not taught to ask that fundamental question of who am I, and it doesn't really find much of a place in our education system. And so, I set out to make that the central part of my life, which is to help people discover what their natural abilities are, and then how they could connect them. Now for me, I discovered it somewhat accidentally, but not everybody has that fortune of finding that. In fact, I found that most people really don't find out what their natural abilities are and don't manage to really align them until maybe the middle part of their life and sometimes not at all. And so, what I do is I help to facilitate that process through providing knowledge and training programmes and various tools in the discovery process. So, that's it in a nutshell.
Jeremy Cline 3:17
Does music still feature?
Steven Rudolph 3:19
I play music every day still. And I call you, so this is a natural ability that I've had, just like the football that you were talking about, I knew early on that I had this natural thing for music. And I also used to wonder why people can't hear that they're singing out of tune, or why they don't realise that they are not like clapping or maintaining a beat, that was always perplexing to me. And so, that's a natural ability of mine, I call these natural abilities tigers, right, and one of the things that I found out is that tigers need to eat, and as long as I feed it, I will be happy. And so, it doesn't have to earn me money. And that's a really big mistake, I think, that people make, is that they think that their talents need to be engaged or employed in their work in order to help them earn a living, when it's not really so. These natural abilities have a mind of their own, I call them tigers, and tigers need to eat. So, my musical tiger doesn't really care that it's earning money or not. Because it doesn't earn me any money. It just cares that it plays music, because when I'm involved in the experience of creating and playing music, my tiger is eating, and I just feel so good and so happy. And so, as long as I do that every day for a period of time, then that's one of the things that contributes to my overall wellbeing.
Jeremy Cline 4:44
That's a really interesting and valuable point. I think we might come back to that a little bit later. But first of all, I wanted to touch on something that you mentioned earlier there, about people not necessarily being aware of what their natural talents are. And I think this might come as a bit of a surprise to some people, I think a lot of people, especially those in the professional space, might say, 'Oh, well, you know, I already know what I'm good at. You know, I've been a lawyer for 10 years, an accountant for 10 years, or whatever it is, I know what I'm good at.' Do some people just know naturally what they're good at? Or is there always something where there's a surprise, there's something hidden, which people maybe haven't quite appreciated?
Steven Rudolph 5:31
I think some people, and if I had to venture a guess, it's probably like 10% of the population, as per my experience over the last 30 years, I would say about 10% of people have a really clear understanding of their natural abilities, and all of them, they know which of the tigers are big ones, they know which of their tigers are smaller ones, and they also have an idea of how to leverage them. On the other hand, most people are missing something. Either they are overestimating their ability, or they could be underestimating an ability with their tigers. And what does that mean? Overestimating would be something like this: somebody, and there's one tiger which I call an entrepreneurial tiger, so this is this tendency to create value, extract value, and you see that in people who run businesses, do start-ups, anybody who's in the area of creating projects and companies that sustain and grow. So, some people believe that they're far more entrepreneurial than they actually are naturally. You talk to anybody, whether it was that footballer, or you talk to somebody who's a super successful entrepreneur, and you ask them, they'll also say the same thing, 'Yeah, it just comes naturally to me, I've always been like this, I do this is in my sleep, it's really easy for me.' And there are some people who, well, they sort of wish that they had that ability, and they delude themselves into thinking that that ability is greater than it actually is. And then, they become confused as to why they're not succeeding in their venture or whatever it is. And there are so many reasons and so many excuses and so many people to blame, and circumstances, and you could blame COVID and blah, blah. But at the end of the day, that could really be what it is, that they're just not nearly as entrepreneurially inclined as they think. That's just one example. And the other side of the coin is also there, which is that somebody might have a particular quality, and it goes unnoticed. It's there, and they might have a sense of it, but they've not had an opportunity to explore it. And therefore, they don't realise that there is an asset that's just waiting for them there to be tapped. And so, that could be another reason why they might not know it. So, it's kind of like, there's a spectrum, you can see some things, and they're obvious, but then there are some blurry edges. I mean, the blurriness can be directly in front of you, but then there could be some blurriness. And so, I'm in favour of sharing tools and vocabulary and processes that get people to give specific words and names and categories to these things, so they can define them, and they could know them, and then they could decide what they would like to do with them. So, part of the problem here is also, not everybody has that vocabulary for this. If we're talking about music, if you want to learn music, and if you want to be very versatile and accomplished, at some point, you have to study theory. And so, if you don't know the different aspects of it, it becomes difficult for you to accelerate. And so, I believe that even this area that we're talking about right now, the area of understanding your abilities and applying them and aligning them successfully, is an area of expertise. And so, the more you understand a little bit about the theory, then the more versatile you can be as a player of life, and you'll have greater control to do more of the things that you want to do. And you'll have your expectations set better.
Jeremy Cline 9:01
There is definitely a pressure, which may come from social media or wherever, for people to be something, to be more successful, to be more entrepreneurial, to be more empathetic, to be whatever it is. And it's clear from what you're saying that some people might wish that they had these traits, but it just ain't necessarily so for them. So, how can someone who's in that position, before they go on to actually look at what their own personal qualities are, how can someone in that position, if you like, let go of this feeling that they ought to be this, or they need to be that?
Steven Rudolph 9:52
I think the first place to start is that everybody has a different set of tigers, a different set of qualities, that's the first thing to recognise, that everybody, it's like you are unique just like everybody else, right? So, everybody's totally different. That's the first place to start. And then, the second thing to realise is that your success and happiness doesn't come from following some cookie cutter, or some sort of a template way about, if you do these four things, then you're going to be happier, you're going to get this much money, and then you'll be able to, this happiness and satisfaction comes from understanding what your unique abilities are, and then understanding how you can leverage them. And if you can figure that out, then you can find your success, your unique success. Your success, your happiness is so unique to you, if you understand that you can have it, that takes the pressure off, and it takes the pressure off of your trying to follow other people's examples of success. Like if I do that, like that guy, then I'll be a success. It takes that pressure off to have to do all that. Because what happens is, you look at social media, and then you've got to master email marketing, and then you have to learn how to make a podcast, and then you have to learn how to do SEO, so there's no end to mastering all of those other things. And that's where I see people on this kind of like hamster wheel of having to try to follow so many different paths or patterns or techniques that favour people with different kinds of tigers. It's interesting, I was watching this series, The Queen's Gambit, on Netflix, I don't know if you had a chance to see it.
Jeremy Cline 11:41
Yeah, about chess, I've heard of it, yeah.
Steven Rudolph 11:42
It's about chess. So, there's one scene where her mother is, the young girl who's a chess prodigy is studying right before a match, and she's studying really intensely. And the mother is saying, 'Come on, let's just go have some fun. You're too serious about this.' And the daughter saying, 'No, no, this is what's paying for us to even be here, and if I lose, then we'll lose money, have to pay out of our pockets.' And she says to the mother, 'You know nothing about, you know nothing about chess.' And the girl is young, she's like 15. And the mother says to her, she says, 'Well, I know one thing, that I heard people say you play by intuition. And I've noticed that every time that people clap when you make a move, and you have this like look on your face, you do it very quickly', she says something to the effect that, 'It's not that you studied that, that's something that comes to you.' And her daughter said, 'Yeah, that's right.' So, she's basically saying to her, 'So, just stop the studying and let the intuition come.' So, why I mentioned this example is because your natures, your tigers, are where your intuition is coming from naturally. And when you try to block them, or you try to focus on an area that's not necessarily one of your bigger tigers, the intuition doesn't come. So, that's why you have to go through all of these processes and study and these different machinations, in order to be able to get success, whereas if you're following your natural proclivities, you don't have to study so much. And so, that doesn't mean you don't have to study, you don't have to learn and don't have to practice, it means that the amount of energy you need to put in versus the return you get back on your investment, you put in one unit, you get back four, you put in one unit, you get back four, versus if it's not a natural ability, you're putting in four units, you're getting back one. Even if you study, and you work, and you burn the midnight oil, and your blood, sweat and tears, you're putting in four, you get back one, you get a coach, you get a trainer, whatever, putting in four, you're getting back one. So, that's what I want to encourage people to understand, which is just like that footballer you mentioned, you know when it's your natural ability, when it comes easily to you, when you have intuition about things. And to be specific, one of my bigger tigers is my educative tiger. So, that means I have this natural propensity to teach, just as I shared with you in the opening, when I started to teach, within that first hour, I was like, 'Oh my god, like I know this.' I never had a training class on how to teach, yet I knew how to do it instinctively, how to ask a question, what to write on the board, how to encourage somebody and watch their eyes open up and facilitate learning. And so, that's what I want people to tap into, to look for where those things come easily for me, because that's where your potential is the most abundant and the easiest for you to tap into. And if you want to make money with it, that's the place where it will give you the best returns.
Jeremy Cline 14:44
It's a really interesting way, the way that you framed it. Because some people will look at this process of self-reflection and understanding themselves as being hard work. And we live in an age where people just want the simple answers. And so, a lot of people's first instinct will be to go for the, 'Oh, well, this person did that, so if I did the same, then I'll enjoy the same success as them.' Whereas what you're saying is that that is actually the harder approach, because what that successful person has been doing and the four things they did, they come naturally to them, they are able to do them really well. And just because you copy them, you're not necessarily going to have the same result. So, putting in that bit of extra effort to uncover your own natural talents and abilities, even though that sounds more like hard work, and you know, why can't I just do what someone else has done, it's actually going to be the approach that really yields the dividends.
Steven Rudolph 15:50
Look, there's always going to be work. And there's always going to be, well, when I say hard work, I might look at it in different way, it might be like challenging work, that might be another way to look at it. There's a difference in hard work and challenging work. Hard work is when it's not coming naturally to you, and you have to put in an inordinate amount of energy in order to get back the results that you think maybe an average person might need to be getting back, then it becomes hard work. Challenging work is where I have a task in front of me, something I want to accomplish, and if my tiger, if my ability is extraordinarily large, well, what happens is, I'm most likely going to put a larger challenge in front of myself, because I need to have a feeling of achievement, that's what drives people. The release of dopamine in the brain, this is like the reward function of our brain, when you do something, and you don't know if it's going to work or not, but you think you're going to be able to get it, and you get it, and there's that payoff. And so, when I set up challenges, and if it's too easy, right, if I set up a challenge for myself, and it's too easy, well, then when I complete it, let's say it's a puzzle or something like that, I don't really get that dopamine release. So, I do word puzzles, and there are ones that, when I do them, let's say the New York Times crossword puzzle, so I do a Mondays puzzle, I'm pretty sure that I'm going to nail that one, and so I have some excitement, but it's a little easy. Tuesday, I know it's going to be challenging. And so, what happens is, when I set up these challenges for myself, when I achieve them, I get the payoff. And so, with bigger tigers, you will set up bigger challenges for yourself, and so that might look like working harder, but all it is is somebody who's just engaging themselves to get the payoff with a greater tiger. I'm not sure if I was really clear about that.
Jeremy Cline 17:55
You were, thank you, that was great. 'I have no talents, I'm not really good at anything.' That's a comment which I see fairly regularly actually on career discussion boards. What do you say to someone who is maybe going in with that mindset?
Steven Rudolph 18:13
Well, I mean, it's obviously untrue. And in fact, there's a really beautiful quote that comes from the Indian literature, so I went to India for 21 years, that was like a deep dive that I did after I left New York, I went there for 21 years to try to find some of these answers, what the ancients had to say about finding your potential and living the most meaningful and fulfilling life. And one of the things that I came across, a quote in one of the Vedas, says this, this is really beautiful, it says, 'There is not a letter that cannot be made into a mantra. There is not an herb that cannot be made into a medicine. And there is not a person without a valuable quality.' But the rare thing is somebody who can find those qualities and help to extract them. And so therefore, when somebody says something like that to me, the first thing I think is that it might just be a little bit of self-pity, or they might just be down on themselves due to circumstances in their life, and they never really had the support or the opportunity to be able to find out what those qualities are. They never met somebody who could look into their eyes, who could look into their heart, and find out what is that quality that this person has. And to me, that's a bit of a failure of our education system that I mentioned before, we need more people in the lives of youth who can go in and who can spot those qualities and get people on the right track.
Jeremy Cline 19:50
I would like to start giving the people listening to this some practical tips, and I'm sure that there can be a very long potentially process for someone who wants to go through the journey of uncovering their own natural talents and abilities. And obviously, we don't have time to go through the entire process, but can you start by giving us some starting points for someone, where can someone begin to figure out just what they're good at, what their natural talents are?
Steven Rudolph 20:26
So, there are a number of things, one of the things that I encourage people to do is to think back to when you were really young, what were the things you were naturally attracted to. And the reason for that is, when you're young, and you're developing, you haven't fully been conditioned by society, by school, by family, by parents, by others, and there's a much more direct link to what your natural abilities are. From what I've seen and what I've understood, the development of these natural abilities happens very early, or I could say the significant development of them happens quite early, especially in the first six years. We've got 100 billion neurons when we're born, and there are connections that are being made between all those neurons, learning and skills and competence, essentially, is the fields of linked neurons in our brain. And the neural pathways that have been, I guess you can say conditioned, or there's like repeated action, if I play ping pong, which I do, or if I'm playing music, and I keep playing a scale, then you build up neural connections for playing that particular scale to the point that you don't have to think about it much anymore, it happens like automatically. I guess you could say that there are areas that you're primed for, that you're primed for, some people will be more primed for music, some will be more primed for interacting with others, some will be more primed for working with numbers and things like that. So, it happens largely up till, so 90% of all of your neural connections are made by the time you're six. That means that from age six and on, whatever things that you're learning and connections are being made, it's only 10% of the connections that are being made. So, to me, it's more like an iceberg. And so, here, what I'm saying is that, if you go back to your earliest years, and you think about the things that you were connected to, that's like you connecting to the strongest part of yourself about where those natural abilities might lie. So, that's the first thing that I would recommend or suggest to somebody. The second thing would be in terms of what you do now on a day-to-day basis, identify the things that, well, when I say come to you naturally, that when you do them, you pick them up quickly, you don't have to think about it. So, whether it's language, if somebody says a word, or you see it one time, you would catch it, remember it, you would spell it right, and so on. So, other people might need to hear that word a dozen times, or they keep misspelling it. So, how quickly you catch on to something is one of the best ways that you can identify them. Another would be that, when you do activities that are connected to that particular tiger, you get absorbed in it. So, for some people, it might be something adventurous, I have something called adventurous tiger. So, when you do things that are potentially risky or dangerous, that you get so absorbed in that you lose track of time, forget about eating, you forget about appointments, you forget about going to the bathroom, you're so connected to that, that you get absorbed in it. So, that's another sign. Another is that you're self-motivated to do it. So, if someone says, 'I want to be more creative and do art.' So, they go out and they buy some pens and charcoals and paper and whatever, and they sign up for a Coursera course. But then, they like don't do it. They don't go through, they're not colouring every day, they're not drawing every day. So, if you see the people who are more naturally inclined, they'll pick up any writing utensil and just start drawing on anything, and they're doing it all the time, because it comes naturally to them. So, that's something that I would also, so these are just a couple, there are many. So, again, one would be looking back to what you were attracted to early, earlier, does it come naturally to you, do you get absorbed when you do it, are you self-motivated to do it, those are all some great places to start.
Jeremy Cline 24:36
And just to diverge slightly, so those of us who have young children, should we perhaps be taking note of what it is that they're particularly good at and enjoy doing when they're around say the age of six?
Steven Rudolph 24:49
I think it's really important to watch your children and definitely to take note of them. What I would be careful of is trying to engineer them. That could get a little bit weird. My daughter was two, okay, and as we know, there's both a nature and a nurture part of abilities, that some things come to you through your genes, and some things come to you through your environment. And I see that she has certain qualities that she shares with me. And I've put her in front of a keyboard and my ukulele, and I see that she doesn't always want to, she'll do it for like, I don't know, 10, 15 seconds, and she quickly loses interest for other things. I don't force her, and I keep bringing her back, she's not coming to it naturally, I created a situation where she has access to it, and you know, maybe that might change after a while, maybe she is music and she doesn't see the need to have to bring music out of this, I have no idea, or maybe she never really picks up on that. So, I say yes, observe, one, observe, two, create environments where they have exposure and allow them to do that, challenge them, but don't push them over the edge, don't make them cry.
Jeremy Cline 26:01
Right, I'm going to take this out from being a parenting podcast! There is not always an overlap between what you're good at and what you enjoy doing. And certainly, I find that there are some things which I kind of recognise, yeah, I'm good at that, but boy, I just really don't enjoy doing it, it's a grind, it's a slog. So, how can you make sure that you're not just leveraging the things which are natural abilities, but also they're things that you enjoy doing?
Steven Rudolph 26:34
I think, well, the first part of this question that should be addressed is, how can that be that you're good at something and you don't enjoy it, right? That's something which comes up quite a bit. And that reason can be, you might have a natural capacity for that, you might have a big tiger in that area, but you might be doing it a lot and all the time and too much, it could be what I call an overfed tiger. And so, even if you've got a big one, you can overdo it. Even people with big appetites can overeat, right? So, that's one thing that I want everybody to be careful, I know a fellow, in fact, I spoke with him today, a fellow educator from France, who's got an enormous educative tiger, but he went into burnout, because he was doing it too much, he was over teaching, so to speak. So, that's one thing that I want people to keep in mind, sometimes just a break or cutting back on it can help. A second reason for why you might be good at something you don't enjoy is because it might not come naturally to you, but maybe over the years, because you've had to do it again and again, you've built the skill for doing it. So, you know how to do it, it's become second nature, just like I said with playing the music and the scales, or it could be anything else, it could be accounting, or it could be knowing how to make business processes, there could be many things that you can become skilled at. So, being skilled at something is different from your natural ability to be able to do it. So, that's the second reason why that could be happening. And the question where you were leading to, I believe, with the question is, was it how you balance that out, I might check back in with you to make sure I really understood.
Jeremy Cline 28:17
It's how you leverage in your day-to-day, not just the stuff that you're good at, which it could just be learned, but how you can make sure that it's what you enjoy doing as well?
Steven Rudolph 28:30
So, here's how I go about that. I list out the tigers of the areas, which are what I would call hungry tigers. Those are the ones that are underfed. And I would see where they could be fed. So, in other words, if your work, let's say you have a big creative tiger, and a big visual tiger, so that would lend itself to creative drawing and output and pictures and doodling and whatnot. And you look at your existing work, maybe you are a sales manager in a company, or you do active sales for a company. So, then you ask yourself, okay, is there a space for me to feed these tigers within my work? And let's just assume for a minute that a person is employed by somebody. So, one of the things that you can do is that you could go to HR, you could go to your manager and say, 'Hey, look, I have these qualities. Is there a space within the company that I could engage these?' And this happens frequently within companies. Companies sit with employees and ask are there areas that you want to work on or things that you want to develop, and that's the time to bring that up, or whenever you've got that opportunity, and then leave it to the company to see. Maybe there is an opportunity, or maybe there's not an opportunity. If there's not, then that's a great chance for you to bring it outside of the space of your work area. So, that could be a gig, let's just say leisure activity, you do some kind of drawing activities or like a hobby outside. And in time, if you're skilled enough at it, you can then bring that into a gig. Maybe you do something part time, you do some logo design, or you do some graphic design work through a website that does some freelancing. So, those are all different ways that you can look at it. And I'd like to put it in a really nice organiser, which is, I call it the menu of life. So, the way it works is like this: if you think about when you go to a restaurant, let's just imagine a general kind of meal, where you have an appetiser, a main course and then a dessert. And if you think about your nutrition, well, largely you're getting your nutrition from your main course. And you might get a little bit from the appetisers, there's a little fun there, and there's a little bit of nutrition there, and in the dessert, well, you don't expect any nutrition really much on the dessert, it's all fun. If we were to think about the same menu approach, but with work and financial remuneration, your main job would be your main course, where you get most your money from. A side gig or a hustle might be an appetiser. And then, your leisure activities or hobbies, well, that would kind of be your dessert. And the interesting thing here is that tigers don't care, I was mentioned this before about me with music, tigers don't care where you get your money from. They only care that they eat. And as long as you feed them, then you'll be balanced, you'll be happy, you'll be successful. So, if you can get it into your main job, all well and good. If not, nothing's lost. You can slide it over to the appetiser, to a gig, or you can slide it over into leisure activity. And that will charge you up, that will give you energy, that will make you not fall into practices like I'm frustrated, and you start to take it out on other people with anger, or you overeat, or you smoke, or you start to do other things because you're feeling unfulfilled.
Jeremy Cline 31:57
You've talked about underfed tigers and overfed tigers, say you've been through this process of seeing what it was that you enjoyed as a child, what it is that comes naturally to you, that you can do with these, so things that you're drawn to. How can you go about assessing which of those tigers are underfed or overfed and potentially address that?
Steven Rudolph 32:32
Well, the first thing I do is, I look for the signs of what I call misalignment, where your tigers are not in alignment, they're either overfed or underfed. And that would be something like this. Where am I overeating? When do I overeat? When do I reach for another cup of coffee that I don't need? When do I reach for that cigarette? What is the incentive that I need in order to do X, because I just can't motivate myself to do it? Or when I start to do Y activity, what is it that I say, okay, before I do this, let me first read through my Facebook feed or watch a couple of videos to get me in the mood? So, that, to me, is the first place to start, because usually, the questions about which tigers might be overfed are going to come from that. So, that's how I would go about doing that. About the underfed ones, I would ask myself where and when do I feel frustrated. What about my life makes me feel unfulfilled? And then, I would take a look to see from the tigers that you might know about yourself, which ones are you perhaps not engaging. So, you might make a list of things that you're naturally good at, that come easily to you, that you love doing, that you enjoy doing, that you get absorbed, and you put them down and then you take a look at those things and ask yourself, 'Okay, which of these things am I not doing?' When was the last time, some people have what I call a naturalistic tiger, they love to go into the outdoors, and then, if you combine that together with an adventurous tiger, you know, naturalistic outdoors, those are people who love to maybe go climbing or do something a bit more on the extreme side. So, when you list all those things out, you see which ones that you have not been engaging in, that's a tell-tale sign that, you know what, this could be a hungry one. They're not going to tell you, it's not going to be like, you know, they're going to call you up or message you, 'Hey, Steven, this is your naturalistic tiger speaking, you've not fed me in a week.' That's where you need to be proactive about that. And the other thing I would suggest is to experiment, right? In other words, sometimes I might say to myself, 'Something's wrong right now.' I scan my body, and I see there's something up. Either I look for one of those signs, like I'm overeating or I'm reaching for another cup of coffee, or I'm feeling particularly frustrated. Stop, scan myself and say, 'What could it be?' And I then make a hypothesis that, you know what, you've not been outside in the last two days, you've been stuck to your desk, naturalistic tiger is really hungry right now, go outside, do something about it. I go outside, and suddenly it's like, 'Oh my god, ah!' And I come back, and it's like my whole life has just been reset, and I'm refreshed. And so, then I make a mental note for myself to say, okay, don't forget that, the next time you start to feel like this, don't wallow in it, don't just go further into it and further into the video and further into the coffee and further into the chocolate, don't allow yourself, take action to engage the tiger, I mean, if it's a hungry tiger, take action to feed it. Or if it's one of those overfed tigers, then take action to give it a break and do something else. So, that's what it looks like for me practically, how I manage. And look, Jeremy, I'm not going to tell you that all my tigers are perfectly fed all the time. It happens to me, sometimes I start to get a little bit out of whack, but at least I'm much better at not allowing it to put me in a state where I'm out of commission, to put me in this state where I'm debilitated, where I've hit an extreme, where I do something awful to somebody, or I say something just out of anger that's really terrible to somebody, or that I overeat to the point where I make myself sick, and I'm like that for weeks, and I have to go to the doctor, no, it doesn't go to that level. As long as I keep tabs on it, it's kind of like the highs and lows are much shorter, but the curve is at a higher level on the graph. It's vibrating at a higher frequency.
Jeremy Cline 36:42
So, is this really what we're aiming for? We're never going to get all the time, every time this feeling of alignment of all our tigers being perfectly contentedly fed, it's always going to be this process of tweaking this, changing that, maybe looking at this aspect, and that's just the way it's got to be, and we kind of got to accept, embrace maybe, the fact that it is always going to be this process, rather than 'Yep, I've got it, I've hit it, and now everything is perfect.'
Steven Rudolph 37:22
Yeah, it never gets there. It can't get there, and in a way, I don't know if I want to say it shouldn't get there, because then it would be really boring. We're changing so much as we go through life, we're changing, our bodies are changing, our circumstances are changing, people come into our lives, sometimes we get married, or we have kids, there are unfortunate situations, we lose jobs and times people die. So, we're constantly going through different life experiences. So, life is constantly changing. And internally, if we get it right, what I believe happens is that you come to start knowing yourself better and better. The chaos outside is never going to end, but we become better at understanding what's happening internally, so there's less internal strife in trying to get a grip on what the heck's going on inside of me. So, when the outside world is chaotic, and the inside world is chaotic, well, it's really awful in those times. We've all been in situations like that, where we've got internal issues that we're struggling with, and the world is also really chaotic. But when we've got a better understanding of ourselves and how to manage, how to adapt ourselves to the circumstances, it's almost like no matter what's going on outside, no matter how chaotic it can be, we can always find ways of coming to it and saying, 'Okay, I've got this one, I understand that this is a really huge one, but there's a way through for me, and this is how I'm going to adapt, I'm going to adapt to this.' So, I think that it's more about that, and there's some really wonderful visual representations, iconic representations of these ideas. You might have seen the dancing Shiva, I don't know if you've ever seen Nataraj, it's a statue, it's a dancing character on one foot, and there's a ring of fire going around. And then, in the hands, there are various items, like a little hand drum and whatnot. And what it represents is just that, which is that, when you've got this internal harmony or this internal, closer to internal harmony or balance, there can be fire and all this chaos going on outside, but you can still manage to dance through it. It gets to that level that life becomes a dance when all these huge challenges start coming your way. So, something like that.
Jeremy Cline 39:51
Steven, you've given everyone an awful lot to think about, I think, I mean that in a good way. There are lots of really interesting ideas. If someone wants to delve down further into this topic, are there any typical books or resources, in which direction do you point them?
Steven Rudolph 40:08
Yeah, sure. So, I have a website, which is called feedyourtigers.com, and on the site there, you can find out about the 19 tigers and also how you can identify them. I've made an assessment that also helps to figure that out. And there are people who can also assist in the process there. So, I would say that's the best resource, if you'd like to start anywhere, to connect to these ideas further.
Jeremy Cline 40:35
Brilliant. Well, I'll put a link to that in the show notes. Steven, thank you so much for coming on the podcast and sharing your expertise.
Steven Rudolph 40:43
My pleasure. Thanks for having me, Jeremy.
Jeremy Cline 40:44
Okay, hope you enjoyed that interview with Steven Rudolph. I thought Steven had a really interesting approach to the subject, and I liked his idea that your tigers, as he called them, don't really care how they're fed as long as they are. And so, it might not necessarily be in the workplace where you get to satisfy some of these natural abilities. And as you could tell, I thoroughly agreed with Steven when he said that success doesn't come from following a template. Sure, you can learn from others, you can find different ways of doing things, but just copying someone else isn't necessarily going to yield the same results for you. That's why this exercise of self-reflection and getting to know yourself is so valuable. Keen listeners will have noticed that Steven didn't give me a resource in the interview. But after we recorded, he did ask me to mention the Tao Te Ching, which I think has been mentioned before. He recommends looking at the Ron Hogan version of the Tao Te Ching. And I'll put a link to that in the show notes for this episode, which you'll find at changeworklife.com/140, that's changeworklife.com/140. And of course, you'll find a summary of everything we talked about and a full transcript. Uncovering your own natural abilities, uncovering your values, uncovering those things which you're good at and which bring you pleasure and joy, this stuff is so important for our enjoyment of work, and frankly, life in general. And if you'd like to work with me to find out more about yourself and make whatever changes you need to make to enjoy a more fulfilling and satisfying career, well, that's something that you can now do. I offer one-to-one coaching to help you make the most of and get the best out of your career, part of which is by going on this journey of discovery and self-reflection. If that sounds like it might be interesting for you, and you'd like to find out more, then you can go to changeworklife.com/coaching, that's changeworklife.com/coaching, where you can also book a free introductory 30-minute call with me to find out more. The link again, that's changeworklife.com/coaching. The next episode will mark three years since I started the podcast, and I've got a great interview lined up, so make sure you subscribe to the show if you're not already, and I can't wait to see you next time. Cheers. Bye.
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