Welcome to this week's episode of The Freedom Fridays podcast where today I'm chatting to a colleague, I'm chatting to an old buddy who is a twice authored person, he is a grandfather and, I'm proud to say he is an Iron Man. Jim Steele, welcome to the conversation.
I see what you did there, a fellow Iron Man is that what you meant to say?
Yes, I did. I've done one, too. So you know, you've done one you're always an Ironman.
Yeah, no, sure. Yeah. Although, I mean, you can probably claim yours as an official event. Whereas, you know, we may get into this, but you know, mine was an Ironman distance, for reasons that maybe we can't be bothered talking about.
Yes. In fact, just as you mentioned that you're right. Because I did an official event and the announcers words as you're crossing the finish line. I can feel it. I've got goosebumps all over my body. Pete Clark, You are an Iron Man. Oh my God, that's a lifetime memory.
Yeah. Well, I did mine on my own. There wasn't even anyone else there. That was insane. Anyway, yeah.
Maybe we'll get into that. So Jim. Oh, yeah, maybe thank you for your time. I know you've got things going on in the background. But what I want to talk about is your latest book. Yeah. You've produced a book and the title is extremely provocative, some would say even arrogant. And it's like, what the?!? Why have you? what's going on here? So I'd love to start there. And just for the viewers, Jim's wrote a book called unashamedly superhuman. Little letters underneath Jim Steele. Please explain.
Yeah, I'm impressed with all the little sticky tapes along the side there. It's like you've actually read it. So yeah, when I selected the title, unashamedly superhuman, I wanted to be provocative because, you know, going, well, thank you, who's who's sitting there going, I'm superhuman. That's ridiculous, right? However, the more you look at it, the more you look at the human condition, and what's built into us through our nervous system, our physiology and things that we've been playing around with for 20 years. When when you put a spotlight on it, especially when you see people that do remarkable things, you can typically track it back to things that we all have access to. And I know that sounds a bit simplistic and maybe a bit motivational, which is not my intention. But what I wanted to do is to demystify some of the things that underpin, you know, high performance and tie in well being, maybe we'll explain why in a second. So you know, so the title, unashamedly superhuman was designed to a expose, to provoke people to think, am I How do you become? And by the end of the book, my goal was for people to have the realisation that Yeah, in fact, you are, and even though, and there's plenty of neuroscience to back that up. And even though superhuman, is the sexy word, unashamedly as the important word. Because unashamedly, is this attitude of mind to go, well, if I am, what will I do with that? You know, prove it? In what way? Can I demonstrate that I will provoke myself.
we have this realisation that we have these quite remarkable capabilities built into our system. So that was my thinking behind that. And I wanted to demystify the three things. And the three sections of the book are better, smarter, stronger. And better is performance potential. So how do you tap potential smarter is performance mindset? How do you tap into our mindset? And then stronger is performance fuel. Or, you know, how do we tap into our physiology? And the reason I mentioned that is because, you know, you and I have been to many conferences over the years. And we hear people, especially in the corporate sector, say, we've got to tap out potential change our mindset become more resilient, and you go, Yeah, but there's no value in that. Right. And if there was a thread running through my mind when I was writing it, it was to turn these straplines into strategies into things that people actually go and use in a practical sense. And I feel really confident and comfortable that that I've managed to do that so people can test the theories and judge by their own results, you know, yeah.
I slight asice Jim, there's many ways there's many threads in there slight aside. For those that are listening and viewing Jim and I, I was part of the company that Jim and some colleagues started - The Three Musketeers sort of, no, the Three Amigos right? Late 90s. Right. This is a long time ago. And Jim. Again, I hope he doesn't mind me saying this is one of the best on stage in the room, narrative creative storytellers that I've ever seen and things like, turn a strapline into a strategy. I have used that 1000 times. And I've never referenced Jim Steele. So I'm officially putting it out there is a reference, courtesy of Jim Steele.
Of course, it's a backhanded compliment, you know? I'm sure it works both ways. I've probably forgotten things that I say that I've heard you say many years ago.
Yeah. But that I do want to pick up on that. Not that bit. But just the biggest strapline to strike because I like you, I hear you lots of people with lots of commentary and statements about what people need to do. You got to tap into your potential, you got to sleep better, you got to move, right? All these kind of things that, you know, we've read about or heard about, or, thankfully, less people than I think we'd like have actually used and applied. Whereas what I've taken from your book is not only what, but how. Almost appealing to a little bit of our goldfish mentality and, you know, Snapchat mentality of give me the hack. Give me the three second version, because I'm not going to listen to Sam Harris and Andy Huber for four hours. Give me the 10 second version, please.
Right. And I think that's a really good observation. And I will look, the reality is, I call them hacks for sure performance hacks and wellbeing hacks. Only because that word seems to land well, because people do think I'm getting the quick route through. I mean, the reality is, there is no hack for high performance. Right? It's, it's a, it's a lifetime pursuit. It's an ongoing process. But there are some hacks for things like managing stress with things like, you know, hacking into flow, right, there are some hacks that people can use and, you know, and genuinely judge and see if they work for them, you know, but but, you know, I don't, I don't pretend it's easy, you know, and, you know, and I think when you want to test some observations around performance, and well being, you know, you got to be prepared to push through the process. Right, you know, and which is why we mentioned the Iron Man, I mean, I wasn't initially I really wasn't going to put it in the book, it was more of a backstage process of me being a lab rat, that I wanted to test some observations because, you know, specifically when you think about tapping into, you know, physiology this piece around stronger than I looked at, you know, there's a picture of me right at the beginning of the book, me at a party back in 2018, with his bag in one hand and a big glass of red wine, and, frankly, what basketball strikers breasts. Now, there's nothing wrong with that, right, inherently. But my point was, That guy doesn't do an Ironman Triathlon, and I just had my third knee operation, I got two discs used in the back of my lower spine. So structurally, I was creaking in my late 50s. So you know, when I took on the the ideal, I do this ridiculous, that's either going to completely confirm, yeah, physically, you've kind of done your best and just prepare for a long ride into your old age. Or it's going to completely turn around my belief about what's possible. And that was the purpose of doing the Ironman because I also realised that in order to do that, I was going to have to come up with some brand new life strategies. Because I'd had 50 odd years of injuries following I've done a few marathons I O and ended up in hospital afterwards having surgery. So it was a pattern of failure that I've been, I've been utilising, and I came up with this one, I came up with this concept, I utilise the cliche about swimming against the current, you know, swimming against the current swimming against what's easy swimming against what we're used to, is challenging. But swimming against the current for me was finding new ways of doing things that I just had no idea existed at the time. And in fact, I was going to mention this I picked up this book a while back at the beginning by Scott Carnac or what doesn't kill us. And it said on the front how freezing water extreme altitude and environmental conditions will renew our lost evolutionary strength. And I forget about whether it where it goes and I do reference Wim Hof and talk about him quite extraordinary individual. It was that that piece about our last evolutionary stands that I'm taking on this triathlon, I have no strategy or references to be anywhere near that. Quite the opposite. I need to find out what this last evolutionary strength is. And so things like you know, the the ice baths things like you know, some really interesting brain breathwork protocols for tripping into this fight or flight system things like running barefoot, you know, I ended up running the marathon barefoot, right? So that was life. Life changing. Yeah. I mean, I walk barefoot running shoes not I have shoes that I like but there's like two mill on the Yeah, and the reason I did because I kept getting hurt. I kept getting injured and and I came across a guy called Tony riddle, who ran the length of the UK lands and John O'Groats. 30 miles in 30 days. 30 miles. 30 days right? I'm literally barefoot. And I just found this process for completely changing your way of running. When you did, I'm not pitching it, it was my it was my, it's my experience. I haven't had an issue with my knees or back for three years since I'd start i all my shoes about I haven't want to share with any of three years, not what I want here he was different. But it but it's it's changed my life. But the people I've spoken to and I'm talking about medical practitioners to who I've had a bit of physio or who've tried to turn me off the idea, you can't run barefoot, you're going to cause more injuries. I said, all I'm telling you is I haven't had any pain for three years. I've not experienced that for 50 years. And I'm running marathons and doing it an Ironman. So, you know, but that's going against the current against people's belief systems and viewpoints. And I'm in my mind, my Methodist have judged by results you test like if it doesn't work for you find something else, right? We've always made that observation. But that was the the sort of the level I was wanting to go to to find completely new ways of operating physically in order to do this. take on this challenge. Yeah.
Again, it's like a Starbucks coming back to a point that's in your book, which I loved. I'm going to Nick this idea. By the way, when I do my book is in Git and we'll put all the the references in where you can buy the book in the show notes. But I love the QR codes. So Jim's got a number of QR codes were a few QR code them you follow the video. Now the first video, which I've remembered the trick, right. But I did what you asked and I I've tried on five people so far, and it works brilliantly, right. So if you're interested, if you're curious if you're listening, go buy the book, do the QR code and do the trick. But as long as you do, right, and I remember this from 20 years ago, we would all talk as we were doing this stuff around. You know, it's not magic. It looks like magic. But it's not magic. Don't think the magician thank the
strategy. Yeah, yeah, exactly. And I put that in there. Yeah. Carry on. Yeah, when I make that observation, you know, that we don't need to be in order for the magician. And I mean that just generally in life, you know, we see people do amazing things and go wow, man, I'd be phoney I was like that and you go well, or look a little closer, get underneath the hood underneath the bonnet have a little look at what's underpinning that ability to do that. I'll give you a good example of this, which was a game changer. For me. It was Alex Honnold, the climber of a free solo the remarkable, right. Oh, yeah. And when you look at Alex Honnold, he is classified as being a superhuman, right? His achievement is unique. In fact, the definition. When I started writing this, I looked at the title, I define superhuman, the term superhuman refers to enhanced qualities and abilities that exceed those naturally found in humans. That's how it's defined. So it's already suggested it's not normal. But then the definition says these qualities may be acquired through one of three things, either unique ability. So if you're born with some God given talent that makes you special, okay, let's call us to be human. That's not me. Are you are most people, right? Or it says, a technological aids. So you know, we walk around with our phones kind of strapped to our hands, which gives us instant computer power, access to all sorts of information that gives us extra capacity. Okay, well, I wasn't referring to that either. Or it says by by tapping into it to potentially say self actualization, which is the highest form of psychological development and potentiality. And I wanted to demystify that, because when you look at Alex Honnold, when you look closer, there are plenty of climbers that can climb, you know, free, so they can climb a mountain without needing their roads. They don't use they use ropes, but they never need their ropes. Right. He does it without ropes, his superhuman ability is accessing his ability, it's not the ability. Right? And I thought that was a game changer for me. I thought, yes. It's not just, you know, he is he's special. His what's special about him is he has ways of influencing himself to be able to take on those challenges. But the skills he's tapping into our skill shared by money, right. So that that was the observation around around potentiality. You know, working out that was it was it was a game changer for me.
Yeah. I think that's a really fascinating concept for people to one understand and then to apply. Because in many situations, with the clients that we work with, when we're asking people to, you know, present in front of people or deliver a difficult, you know, anything corporate wise, you take them out of that context. And, you know, are you assertive in any aspect of your life? Yes. Oh, are you confident in any aspect of your life? Yes. Are you full of energy in any aspect? You vote? Yes. So you've got the ability, right? You don't have to go shopping for it. It's not a DNA thing. It's not a technical thing. It's, you've got it in. So how do you take that and translate it into something you want to do at work in a relationship, etc, etc. Yeah, yeah. And you're right
on that That trick that car trick is a great example of that. The best trick in the world, it always works. You don't need any skill, no practice required. It's immediately available to you. And you create what looks like magic. Yeah, you know, it's disappointing. But we know there's no magic, right? Yes, process and strategy. But that's such a that's such a revelation. And it's good news.
Yeah. Yeah. until someone takes the deck off you and puts it away. And if you follow the trick, you know what that means? Then you've got to take a punt on the guess.
Yeah, no, indeed. Yes. Well, we follow the process to the left, and it works.
Yeah, yeah. So let me touch on two things, then jump ship, the ship, the super human element first. Right? What are we missing? What are we? What could we tap into? And this may be a long answer, because I'm really interested in the second part. Because if anyone's dandy human to read any of this stuff that we know what those things are, right, you know, basic tenets of self care, sleep, nutrition, movement, relax, everyone can Yeah, completely what those are, what are they in terms of what you experienced? And what's been your experience about? Why people don't do it? Right. Okay.
I can assess, I'll come to that second question first, only because it's quite topical. I was asked to go on a few radio shows last week. In the UK, at least they claimed it was national quitting day. Right. So in terms of new year's resolutions, they were saying this is the day whatever you want quits. And I just got asked to go get comments on that. And I said, Well, firstly, you might want to do is reframe that to national persistence day. Right? Instead of thinking of it as quitting day. Let's think well, what does it take to be persistent, you know, what causes us to be able to push through and be one of the you know, one of those that does achieve that New Year's resolutions, you know, so I'll come on to that in just a second. In terms of what's missing, I remember reading, you know, Deloitte, we do a lot with Deloitte globally. There's a guy at Deloitte called John Hagel, who is a co founder of the Centre for the edge, right. And they did a global study of some of the world's most innovative, you know, high performing business teams. And the observation they made was those that kind of go the furthest, we're always the ones tapping into flow states. And I know, I didn't really know what I never really heard of flow states. I was kind of aware of makayley chick sent me Hi. And, you know, I read the book years ago. Yeah, I never really pursued that. But during, you know, during the lockdown phase, you know, where for someone you know, that some of us that fly around the world speaking to audiences in doors without suddenly have no value? You know, that was quite traumatic. I mean, I genuinely I mean, not just the business fell off a cliff, but my identity fell off a cliff. Yeah. And I just found myself looking for more content, more ideas, something that I'd been missing, then because clearly, what I knew, just wasn't enough. You know, I was finding it very challenging. And I came across this, this concept of flow of really finding out what is it? And not just what is it because I'll often ask audiences, so what's it like being in the zone? Can you describe it, and they all describe it? You know, you get this sort of sense of time distortion, time flies, it seems effortless. You got access to your resources. It's this state of mind where you feel and perform at your best and we all know it's a thing. But then you go, Okay, well, look, Nick, tomorrow with three, you know, big meeting you got when you can do with being in the zone? Yeah. What are you going to do to make sure you have in the zone tomorrow with three? Yeah, right. And, and it's a while, I'm not sure what the process is like I would that's the point. That's what we need to work out. So when I started to find out about that, and look at the flow triggers, finding out ways to provoke the brain chemistry, you know how to trigger that cocktail of drugs, mental, you know that the mental cocktail of neurotransmitters like dopamine, like a little adrenaline, like some endorphins, like some serotonin, anandamide, they've never even heard of which kind of assists with pattern recognition and creativity. You know, even oxytocin if it involves group flow. Soon as I started to work out how to tap into the conditional neuro chemistry, I didn't have to think about being a good ad, in a good state of mind. I didn't have to think about my attitude, right? I didn't have to think about what's the best mindset for this situation. I just wanted to focus on a much more pragmatic approach of how do you trigger the nerve to trigger the neuro chemistry because then once you find yourself in that place, the best of you tends to show up, you know, and if you don't get the result you need Well, that's probably a skill thing. I'm I go back and relearn, you know, but that I think that was it was it was an eye opener for me, in the context of writing the book, and that's the middle section, tapping into mindset, flow follows focus. You know, anything that can drive focus into a situation enables you to tap into flow. So testing those, those hacks, if you like, those those triggers was a game changer. And I think the more people start to understand they have a little more control over that elusive state of mind. The more the more it's almost like you don't have to worry about whether you will quit. Because if you're in flow, the reward is in flow. If Feels so good in the moments to be in that place that no one's moving away from that. Right. It's almost like removed for some of the moving parts and just build the process for triggering flow. And it takes a lot of boxes, you know? Yeah.
My experience of law, personally has always been by accident. Yeah, almost afterwards. Yeah. So you know, you and I both, you know, golfers stroke hackers. Yeah. When you stand in front, you hit this cracking shot is just perfectly executed, as you visualise that I didn't like, that was easy, but it's almost in retrospect.
Yeah, absolutely. Right. And, you know, we discussed briefly before, but when I, when I started writing the book, I've taken on the chance to write a book, I left school at 1516, you know, all level English, Grade C, right? After staying an extra year, I had no references, or writing for putting together a thesis for putting together a project like this. So I was way outside my comfort zone in terms of my identity. And so when I was in the middle of it all and really starting to regret taking it on because I thought I just don't know, if I've got what it takes to do this. I was starting to research flow. And what I started to understand was, there's a flow cycle. So you're right, retrospectively, you pop out and go, Wow, that was phenomenal. And amazing day yesterday, I just kind of got into the groove. Well, it turns out, there's a flow cycle, there are four stages to flow. And I'll tell you a great place to see this happen. I believe you've seen the film get back with the Beatles, that this documentary came out a couple of years ago, amazing. There were these three, sort of two and a half hour programmes of The Beatles, where they it was their last ever album, it was their last time working together, they ended up on the rooftop of their offices. And Savile Row is a big concert outside, quite famous. That was the sort of the end point of this film. But they were having to write an album in a matter of weeks together in the studio, and they didn't really get on at the time, you know, for all the reasons we now know. Anyway, the point is, when you watch it, you see them, creating the songs that are now known to us all, like get back some big songs that we all know, you see them kind of just in the process of struggling through how to write a song, and what you observe. And as I was watching this, I was also, you know, studying up on the flow cycle, the flow cycle starts with struggle. It's a struggle phase, right? The struggle phase is where you're super organised. And you're thinking pulling together the bits of information you need for the project, you know, it's that phase, where you're pulling your hair out a bit, it's quite stressful. The struggle phase follows that is followed by the release phase. Right now, the release phase is a bit like whenever you're working and finding it a bit challenging to find, you could just kind of go, Okay, I need to get some air on, they're gonna jump on the bike, or I'm going to I'm going to sleep on it, and you kind of wake up or you come out, you come back from the walk and go, Okay, I got it, it's almost like you need this release phase for the brain just to get into the subconscious and get you out of the struggle phase. And then phase three is flow. So it struggled release flow. And then after flow flow sessions, I mean, if you look at ultradian rhythms, you know, again, human talks a lot about this, in these 90 minute chunks of time during the day where you need to operate, you know, organise your day around those 90 minute chunks maximum. If you're dialled in tuned in focus, you need a break after 90 minutes, if you want to maintain that level. So the flow cycle ends with recovery. So having a you know, a 1015 minute recovery phase, which might be a little breath work, it might be again, some fresh air, some light exercise, it's active recovery. It's not just resting, it might be meditation, but some tunes on. So you can see how this flow cycle works is struggle, release, flow, recover, struggle, release, flow recover. So that's what I was using. When I was writing chapters of the book. I knew I got at a point where I knew the cycle was going to work. I knew I'd start struggling, and it'd be painful. And I'd be doubting myself and I'd be thinking this is this is useless. I spent two hours writing this particular chapter. I really didn't get that it was going to read that. But I go I know it's going to work in a minute. I go, okay, stop, go for a walk, get some air get on the bike. Right, I was training for the triathlon. So I have lots of lots of need to do an hour exercise three times a day. And I almost without fail, Pete I'm not kidding, I come back and I'd be in the zone. And I just be pulling ideas together and it will be flowing. And you could feel it like, rather than just retrospectively I could I could literally go I'm literally in the zone right now and recognise it and then you get to the point where you go, Okay, I'm gonna pause now I'm gonna take a break. Because the thing with flow is you should take a break, even when you're still in the zone, rather than guide ident ident break the spell, right? I know, you put in a good 90 minutes, pause, get some fresh air, come back to it, you know, you probably go straight back into the flow again. Now you don't have to go back through the whole cycle but you might do sometimes you crack and struggle face planted or release exercise and then you went to flow again, and anyway became a model that I could depend on. Right and tested it over and over again. It was fascinating. Wow.
Jim, I'd be really interested in your view in all the speaking gigs that you do the people that you speak to. And it might be a different interpretation of the word. So I'm interested, what's your observation about people's willingness to visibly or consciously or deliberately experienced struggle? Yeah.
Okay. I think I think you gotta have a reason. And I think one of the great things about about getting in the zone or getting flows, you probably you probably chose to be there. Right. And I think we, you know, willfully taking on a challenge and reframing that cognitively. I think it's critical. I think, as soon as you make the choice that I'm choosing to be in this situation, I'm struggling with this, this is difficult. But it's part of my desired outcome to achieve X, whatever x happens to be. And I use this reframe in the book I talk about, I talk about the, you know, accept the adventure. And the reason I use the word adventure, because it sounds like a positive spin. And I suppose to a certain extent it is, you could look back over the last few years, I said, Man, for the last three years, Peter, it's been an adventure. And if nothing else has been in the bag, I don't know what's gonna happen in the next 12 months. Who knows, but I'll tell you something, it's going to be an adventure, the word adventure, you tend to lean into it psychologically, it's almost like you go, what adventure because it triggers dopamine naturally, you know, and it sets up the seeking system. So you know, the seeking system of the brain. When you buy the new great Audi, you start seeing realities that we are because you're sensitised, right. So as soon as you go, this is challenging, demanding, it's going to involve some struggle. But you give some value to the struggle, it's part of the process, it's a barrier to entry is you've got to accept a little bit of struggle. But if you can frame it up and go, you know, some of our greatest achievements alive. But those moments where we accepted the challenge, and we came out the other side, it doesn't mean we want things to be difficult, but we want pain. It means we just value the process that something good is going to come out of this. Yeah. And I think it's a it's a really quick strategy to cognitively reframe something, right and go, this is difficult, but it's inevitable life's challenge. I mean, it's no easy route through that, right? I'll tell you, I'll tell you, I've had to mention the book of fascinating take on potential, it changed my life. I genuinely wish I was so inspired. It was a clinical psychologist. And he was saying, and he was saying about how to tap potential normally is this motivational thing we hear about this was a this was a clinical psychologist view. He said, If you're going to tap attention, you typically set a goal. And I and he said, I would suggest you pick the biggest goal that you can imagine, just generally in life, because when you pick that goal, it helps you to prioritise what's important. But the problem is, when you hit that, and you start taking action, at some point, you're gonna hit a wall, you're gonna go, I don't know, if I'm good enough, because you picked a big goal, that's the struggle. But then what happens, of course, is your brain starts to form new neural codes, you start to find new parts of you, you start to upskill in certain areas, I gotta get better with people, if I'm going to do this, I got to get better with my motivation, I got to get better with how I communicate, I got to get better with whatever the better is, you start to pull on new skills. So you start developing these new parts of you, that's potential. And he said that how much potential is there to tap? And I love this, but he said, he said, Well, you know, built into our DNA is all the genetic coding of our ancestors. And how you access it is through situational stress, right? You take on more load, and the brain has to go on process and find access to this data, this DNA this potential, and I thought it's such a fascinating view, right? You go, you need a goal, you need situational stress. Well, that's the struggle. That's how you unlock potential to develop new parts of you to achieve new things. Suddenly, it all makes sense. Yeah, right. It all fits
fascinating and the second part I want to ask you about the release phase how often do you think people without even knowing experience the release phase but the experience as frustration you know, as we typically fascination yeah, that's
that old metaphor from years ago wasn't I remember Tony Robbins talking about you know, boiling a kettle you know, it's like frustration frustration patent and as soon as you at that temperature steam comes out, it changes the dynamics right. So, all the the anxiety becomes the point to it. I suppose that I suppose that is the case. I mean, the release phase you know, it's it's one of those things that if you if you have strategies for it again, it's like it's like building in some some cognitive understanding, how can I cause myself to gain this release phase? So things like priming questions, you know, when you kind of when you when you start the day, and you think right, just five or 10 minutes before I kick things off, you know, what am I going to let go off today? What am I going to let go I tell you I used that was so much on on these calls, you know, because the who knew what zoom even was right and the And suddenly, you'd like that you'd like the speaker and you're the DJ, or you've got a cover up and the producer on the market. It's just not my thing. Excited to get the stress of these calls was was was not the content, or the audience. It was the it was the AV, you know, so I really got into this process of going on today, I'm letting go of attack stress, I'm just letting go tech stress. I know it sounds stupid is to say that if something interesting happens when you prime yourself, go, what am I going to let go off today? And then what am I going to do? What am I going to absolutely focus on today? You know, what is my priority of all the things I could do? What's the one thing that is going to happen today? You know, what am I grateful for is another one. I mean, gratitude is a weird thing. I mentioned that in the book, I would never have talked about gratitude. I always thought that was a bit like navel gazing, you know, navel gazing and a bit self congratulatory, and a bit like weird, you know, when I was doing the Ironman, and this became really interesting when I got into deep into the, into the run. So you know, when you start the marathon about three in the afternoon, you've been at it since six in the morning. It's, it's quite a challenging thing. Honestly, Pete, the last counter the times when I was running that I said, Thank you, I don't even know what I was saying thank you two or four, I just found myself saying thank you for the opportunity to be able to test myself to do this. And it sounds a bit odd to say that out loud. But it meant that it meant something I got this little boost every time this little release. Right. So again, if you started the day with what am I letting go? What am I going to do today? What am I just grateful for? I don't mean, I'm glad to be alive? I mean, what what skills am I grateful that I've got, that's going to help me today just I just focus on one or two of those. And I'm grateful for my composure for my courage and for my confidence, my competence, you know, and those questions Primus, and that kind of sets the wheels in motion, same thing, we do it late at night, at the end of an evening, reflecting on the day, and then you think about what you know, people that when the day when the morning started the night before, right? Just a few minutes, what am I going to do tomorrow, it's going to make a difference, just having a little bit of time to prime. And then you go to sleep and the brain does its work. You know, and so often you get up in the morning, and you access the information. So I think just you know, in terms of, you know, the release phase, provoking it with with with priming questions is a great way of cutting through that frustration, you know, and getting to that point of it is fascinating. Yeah, it just is fascinating.
And I do remember what, again, a lasting memory from you was when we were working together in the early 2000s. And we reframed and we redesigned the programme we had your view was, well, it's all in the framing. And you had to say it two or three times for us to get it to get to go. Oh, yeah. And I remember you doing that on many speaking stages where frame frame frame frame content? Yeah, we'll go Oh, I get it. I find that fascinating, truly fascinating that people can ignore that, that the position and frame and prime client meetings are when it's an important client thing, but they wouldn't necessarily do it for themselves. Yeah, that's
a good observation. Yeah. Yeah. And that goes for any activity do before you go out and you've got a two hour bike ride to do before you go out. Just give it a few minutes and think it through. Yeah, you know, just think about what you're gonna tap into what your focus is, where you're at what your goal might be, I don't just mean the end goal. I'm a big believer, by the way, in rewarding effort, not outcome. That's been a really revelation as well. You know, if you want to understand persistence, genuinely how to tap your own dopamine drip feed it, you know, it's classic, when it was sports, a good example, you know, so you're always counting the lamppost, right, so you chunk it down, but genuinely rewarding yourself psychologically, little verbal. pat on the back, you know, for the efforts, you know, you've sat through this last two hours working on this project, try and pull together this presentation. It's not even done yet. But I want to pause and just go, you know, I'm impressed by your effort level, you've given us the best you've got, okay, we'll take a break, we'll get a release. And we'll come back and go again, rather than leave frustrated, and come back, just reward the efforts, you know, rather than just the outcome. And that's a great strategy.
It's only in retrospect, as a little bit like you got a little bit more into flow and all the kind of people are talking about, I remember that as a kid. I was mid teens walking home from a mate's house to my house might have been a kilometre and a half, maybe not sure. In the dark, a little bit worried about you know, where they get bullied or set upon by a couple of the local guys and there was a bit of a hell in it. And without having read no books, nothing whatsoever, started counting lampposts. And there was 27 lampposts between my mates house in my house. And it was just give me that chunking exercise of going Yep. And what I found was another if you've experienced this, as I started, if I focus too much on the end, as in got over 27 lampposts to go. I'd feel pretty crap wherever they can all I've done three now. I've done for now. I've done fine and I can't remember But then if I got to a point where I've only got four left, it became very different. And I don't know where the line is. But I want to come across that the, you know, focusing on the game, not the gap at the start, but then towards the end focusing on the gap, not the game.
Yeah, totally, I think, yeah, for sure. And whether I've read that or tested it, you know, starting start in the marathon, you don't want to be thinking about the end. You know, to visualise the end, visualise celebrating? Well, that's a good tool when you're motivated enough to train, you know, but that's not a good strategy, because because it's so far away, it can almost be demoralising, you know, and I remember an iteration of that a simple iteration, like if you if you weight training, if you're doing 10 reps, you know, the first five, count up 12345, and then the second bite count down by 4321, you know, so you first half you can think up, so you're recognising what you're achieving. And then when you get to a critical point, now you can down now you're moving towards the end game. And maybe that's a metaphor for all sorts of things where you can apply that thinking. But I think that sounds in terms of motivation, you know, rewarding yourself for the achievement that you're going to get yourself going in if you really need to, then to count down towards the end.
Yeah, that's interesting. Jim, I got I've got a question about recovering. And I do want to dive with a little bit of time I've got left into the machine. Could you I think that is, you know, in the main part of it. You mentioned active recovery. Yeah, I guess that's the opposite to passive recovery.
How would you observe people? What's the definitely passive recovery? versus active?
Yeah, I mean, there's, there's mileage in wrestling, for sure. I mean, recoveries recovery, and you know, that I suppose to the recovery of all recoveries asleep, that's what the data would suggest, you know, the active recovery is something that's restorative. Right? that restores you, you know, so when you say, you know, if I'm going to take 10 minutes, I'm going to get some fresh air and, you know, put on a bit of a pace when I'm walking and just kind of take a little bit of energy that's restoring some energy, I don't want to do something that's going to deplete cycling during the recovery break, you know, switching off distractions, only because I mean, it might be pleasant to kind of do a bit of social media surfing, but it's cognitively taken load. Right. So recovery is to restore yourself. And I remember reading an article, I do refer to this by Justin Rosenstein, who wrote this article about a distraction. It's called what what price your attention was the name of the article. And he and he was talking about how these these these programmers from Google, Twitter, Facebook, were decoupling themselves from these platforms that they designed to be so addictive, right? And he said, he likened Snapchat to a class a drug, and he changed his operating system to stop and it and you know, and he said that the like button he called as a political, pseudo pleasure, bright things of pseudo pleasure. And he should know, because He created it, right. It was originally called the awesome plugin. And he was saying that on average, people spend this the data three hours a day on social media, tapping, swiping and clicking 2600 times a day. Now, that's not obviously me and you but the others, as well. Now, I've got no issue with social media. It's a pretty it's a great tool. But there's one thing going on it to do something, it's another thing, going back and checking and going right, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, texts, emails, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, that pattern of just going back over and over again. And he said, It fractures focus, it fractures our attention. It's like kryptonite for flow, right? As we sort of say, and the idea is, we have to be able to, you know, to resist these impulsive urges, right? If snacking, check in text checking social media, when we're doing a piece of work, or we all decided I want to focus on this now. All those little distractions take energy. And to your point about active recovery. Like if I got noise hanging noise cancelling headphones on, they have batteries in them, don't they noise cancelling headphones, knows they're using energy just cancelling noise, the battery will run, they're not doing anything, just cancelling noise? Well, I think it's the same for our brain. Right? We were using energy just because there's so much noise, right? So to have some sort of recovery, active recovery is to switch off as much as you can from the load, cognitive or physiologically, you know, so, you know, I guess some of the observations would be, you know, outside tends to beat inside. Not always I like to think meditation is an incredible tool for refocusing, but outside tends to be the answer, you got 10 minutes, you know, fully detached, beat, semi detached, switch it off, you know, movement tends to beat stationary, you enemy, they're just some simple observations that, you know, social tends to beat solo. You know, if you're with somebody and you, you went out for a walk with somebody you quite like having a conversation about something other than work without your phone, getting some fresh air for 10 minutes. If that's a great recovery strategy, you're probably going to come back Do it so you can go again. Now to me recovery. To me, recovery is about going back for more stress. You know, when I talk about well being it's not I'm all for the well being genre, it's for me real well being. It's not about just wrestling. When I wrote the book, I wanted to combine those two things, high performance and well being and I got challenged by a client three years ago. So it all started somebody, one of the global leaders that Deloitte said, Have you got anything on high performance and well being? And I've not really, I said, shortlist one or the other, you're either a sort of type a go getter, or you look after yourself, right? Which is ridiculous. And obviously, it is ridiculous. And so my, my, the whole purpose of it was to try and find out how do you tie those two things together? And, and were so well being was the conduit to take on more load? Right? So active recovery was a process to be able to go back and take on more stress, because I have no problem with stress, the stress won't take you down. It's the lack of recovery, it will take you down. Yeah, right. By the way, being in the zone in a flow state is as stressful as being stressed out. In terms of on your the load on your system, you have to recover from flow, because it's intense, you know, and, and also, there's a sort of silent stress that we experience. I think I had a meeting interesting. So I took I got this, this, this, this whoop, strap, right to measure my butt there. So whether you got Apple Watch Garmins whoop, strap, the aura rings. I got it for the Ironman, I was told you better focus on recovery as much as you do your training. Okay. Never thought of that. Right? So I was looking at some of them. You know, every morning I wake up and it gives me my data and it says you are 80% recovered take on strain. Or it says you are 30% recovered. Prioritise. Recovery, right. Well, there's one morning, it's so 28% recovered, or 28% recovered is like doing a two hour run day before and maybe having a bit of a late night. That's not a great amount of work. I'm not sleeping well. Yeah. And I thought 20% I had a good night's sleep. I didn't even train the day before. I thought what happened yesterday. So I looked at the data, and it gives me these two, these two events happened the day before, 80 minutes and 60 minutes, where the strain level was equal to two two hour runs. Wow. And I was sat on my stool. Speaking at a conference twice, I had two speeches, my average heart rate was 156 beats per minute, two speeches sat on my stool, right. And I enjoy that it wasn't like I was in pain. You know, if my heart rate is going to be up to 131 40, sat on a stool just because I'm dialled in, I'm focused, because look, you and I know that, you know, when you're under pressure, three things align, it's important to you, there's uncertainty, and you're going to be judged, either by yourself or somebody else, when those three things collide, you are in depression, I got no problem with that. In fact, I think that gives us competitive advantage, because we're prepared to put ourselves under pressure, right? So when I talked about recovery, it was that I want to do more of those things that demand take a demand on me physically and mentally. But I want to fall over, right? So that the recovery was was to build into recovery, to oscillate through the day, not recover at the end of the day, but building these 210 or 15 minute breaks late morning, mid afternoon. So that becomes part of your High Performance Strategy, recovery as part of your High Performance Strategy, not not just getting over your day, right. And that way you find you get to the end of the day and the corny phrase, I think I got it from Collingwood, about our colleagues, you know, your family gets the best of you not what's left to view, right? You have to oscillate, build in stress, recover stress, recover, stress recover. So the active recovery is just, again, as to facilitate taken on more load. Whether that's because you're stressed out, okay, well, that's maybe a strategy thing, or you're putting yourself under stress by getting in the zone, you still need to recover.
I do wonder, Jim, and it's a kind of semi point of view, if this almost invisible pandemic of burnout. Yeah, is because people haven't worked out active recovery well enough, their recovery day or the end of the week. Or the I mean, to be totally not in between even thought about
it. I mean, who even knew? I mean, you know, listen, this be honest, back in the 90s, burnout was a badge of honour. It was it was like, you know, get a first in last out, right? If you're not burning out, you're not trying to have enough, you know, it's like, and they were the heroes, inverted commas. ludicrous. Right? But, you know, because if the belief system is, you know, recovery is a cop out, I got time to recover. I'm meetings back to back to back to back. I mean, there was some great data, I've been told that it's recently only saw it like back in the last year that Microsoft put out where they did some research and they had they had their teams with these, these these brain caps caps on measuring brain activity. And they did for meetings back to back and they measured the stress levels, a buildup of cortisol, adrenaline, the system, not particularly stressful meetings. But what happens when you ask for meetings back to back, and what they found was the stress accumulated. It's the stress built over those four meetings than they had them the following day, putting a 10 minute break between each of four meetings. And during those 10 minutes, they did something active. They just took a stroll, did some stretching Little bit of breath work. And they and they again monitor their brain activity. And there was a little bit of stress in the first meeting, but it was exactly exactly the same. For each meeting, there was no accumulation. And you can see the colours on these charts were like bright orange in the on day one, by the end of it, were they till it was mainly blue, a little bit of orange, and you go, that's like a silent stress. We're not even aware of that, really. But it all adds up. So the idea is to build recovery. And just to mitigate against the silent stress is still a fantastic strategy for performance.
Wow. Jim, the maybe that's a nice segue, if you've got time. And again, the title of the book, I think it's one of the best I've read because it because what it can force you to go no, and dive into it a little bit. So it's great. The unashamedly part. What have we got to be ashamed about?
Yeah, it's not interesting, isn't it? It's our conditioning around identity. You know, you were just conditioned, you think you're special you do you think you think you're something? You think you're it? You know, we're brought up in school not to do that not to sort of stand out, in a way, I suppose. And I'm not saying everybody, but there's definitely a cultural, you know, modesty that prevents us from saying, We're superhuman, and that that is the point. And you know, I'm almost half joking about saying out loud. I mean, I do mention that story that, that when I was at a conference some years ago, and this individual said to me during the lunch break, I got this, I'm running the London Marathon in five months, and I'm just freaking out, how do I deal with stress? You know, and I said, Well, what are you asking me? So I just want to know, how do I just someone died last year, they dropped dead. He said, Look at me, I'm no athlete. I'm just signed up with a charity. I said, I'm gonna second you've got a marathon coming. And you just said, You're no athlete. There's a bit of a disconnect there between your goal and your identity. Think about that. I said, I said, Honestly, my best look at the if your goal is to reduce the stress, just don't do the marathon, right? Take it out of your schedule, and the stress goes away. I think it's a credible strategy. He said, I gotta do it. I've signed up for it. So if you're going to do it, and you want to reduce stress, you've got to align your identity with that with your vision. I said, so you know, when we're out tonight at this networking event, and someone says, What do you do? I want you to say, amongst other things, oh, by the way, I'm a marathon runner. And he won't I haven't done it yet. I said, I understand that. But you've got to start telling the truth early on this one, right? I said, so when you say I'm a marathon runner, I know you haven't done it. So you but your brain doesn't care. It triggers the seeking system. So as soon as you go out a marathon runner, I said, you know, you'll start seeing things a little differently. And I said, By the way, you can justifiably call yourself a marathon runner you got when in your schedule, who does that marathon runners, you're training for this thing? Who trains five times a week marathon runners? I think you're probably reading about running. Are you reading about running you when I do read about running as it reads about running your marathon runners? Correct? Said you're doing the things marathon runners would do? So you can justifiably call yourself a marathon man. But ultimately, what do they do? They run marathons that wouldn't freak them out. You'd expect it in your schedule, I went through exactly that same process with the book. I'm an author. And I mentioned that really? All I'm an Iron Man. Really? Right. The biggest challenge was was was assuming the identity. Right, the label, and I'm only half kidding about saying that out loud. You know, I'm unashamedly superhuman. I wouldn't say that. I tell you what I say to myself, because because why wouldn't I say that? I've got the data to prove it in terms of our our potential, our resources, what we got access to? So why wouldn't I say that? Because by saying it, it causes the brain to go looking for evidence, and you start taking on things that you might do and the unashamedly. Bert is taken on some things that will be interesting, where I honestly, you're going to realise there's more to you than meets the eye. That's my objective with this book,
you know? Well, Jim, you've, you've reinforced the fan by element I had, and always will have in the Jim Steele, narrative, creative way of looping this and looping that in that, that this is a brilliant example. For you, then what's what's next, given your Unashamibly Superhuman? What's the next human fit, you're gonna go for? You know, there's
a couple of things on my mind. I mean, I got it, I obviously got to do an Ironman. It's official. So I am signed up for Copenhagen, which is where it started three years ago. And I wish I couldn't do because I had the bike accident and woke up in an ambulance. And that was the end of that. So I'd put it off for a couple of years and COVID kicked in. So what was supposed to be a 12 month goal became a 3 year challenge. So I want to go back and close that loop in an official event. But unashamedly superhuman, I'm toying with the idea of unashamedly superhuman in motion, and in motion is an application in how people are using the idea that using the content, the unashamedly piece will be the main focus of that. And yeah, and I'm looking at it from a variety of different angles. And many I know I've mentioned, this is not something I've mentioned before on podcasts. And it's and it's a good news story, Pete. But it but it didn't start there. At the back end of last year in November. So, you know, I was told I had skin cancer, right, which sounds like a bit of a bump bump in the vibe on the project. But, but I was told that it was it's like, you know, stage two, it's, it's a certain depth where it's spreading. And, you know, we got to get you in quite quickly. And I have this big patch taken out of my back and big insertions on my arm. And he took out lymph nodes to see that going into the blood. And, and I didn't find out until about two weeks ago, I had the appointment on the back of the surgery to get the news. Was it going to be, you know, we've got a whole nother story here now in another chapter, or is it? Is it not? Is it is it is it all tidied up and you're gonna be fine, we'll keep an eye on you. Anyway, that that period from back end of December to the middle of January was fascinating for me. Because I really got to the point, I mean, I took it as a reframe. I got to the point where I didn't matter what the news was, I mean, that sounds ridiculous. But I'd reframed it to such an extent where I had a real wake up call and in life about appreciating life appreciating challenge appreciating things that are maybe took a little for granted, it was a real wake up call. And of course, it was challenging initially. But the value in it the value in it was to be able to see things from a completely different lens, right and making the most of the moment and now and experiences. Anyway, look, the long, long and short of it is I got a I got to the meeting and and use it couldn't have been better, right? It's it was all in the site localised in the wound site. It's not spread, it's not in the lymph nodes, I'd be checked every three months to five years. And we're good. But that but that the point of it was people to have a news like that people receive that kind of news. I even say in the book, ironically, when I talk about stress, like it's not good if someone tells you you got cancer, I didn't know at the time. I probably had it at the time when I was writing that. But but it's not the news wasn't bad news. The news was news, right? How we frame it moving forward is what typically causes us to either move in this direction or this direction. And I'm not making light of it. But I've had a unique opportunity to see it through the lens of that information, right? And really start to think about the content of this book and how I've how I've tapped into it to help me through what was an interesting three or four weeks. So I tell it and again, people I've not mentioned this to anybody on any of the I already mentioned that we have friends. And and it's a good news story. It's not I'm not going this is not bad. Yeah. But it was fascinating. And so you know, I'm going to I'm going to pursue that a little bit with some of the cancer charities and, you know, and, you know, sort of tell that story, that narrative of how do you take that information? And what do you do with that information in a way that can at least put you back on the front foot? Let's put it that way, at least put you back on the front foot. So that's something else I'm going to explore.
Wow. Thank you so much for sharing that, Jim. Really, I felt that I've got goose bumps that was that was raw and real. I'm really I know, we're doing this publicly kind of but I just really appreciate you sharing that.
Yeah, it's not something I'm going to talk about on my speeches. And at the end of the year motivation, motivation. Yeah. Yeah. But I think it does have its relevance. And it has it will form part of this next book, I think, because, you know, unashamably superhuman in motion is how you move through things with some of these observations and ideas. Yeah.
And you mentioned perspective, one of the, you know, there's 1000s, and millions of quotes out there that, you know, I still come across new ones. Oh, I haven't heard that before someone I came across, maybe two years ago now was, and I thought it was brilliant, because I hadn't heard it was that we're, we've got two lights. And the second life starts the minute you realise you've only got one.
Yeah, it's fascinating. And it's a great perspective quote, isn't it? Yeah. Yeah. And it's, you know, we've talked about reframing and we talk about, you know, tapping into positive states. And it's, and sometimes that's easier said than done. Right. And, you know, that's why I take this has been an amazing opportunity, because I had I been able to go through a process where I had to draw on a lot of ideas that were just ideas, yes, suddenly became very real. And whether it look whether it was the, you know, I took on the triathlon as, as the lab rat to learn about how to really kind of go to a place I didn't understand, like, whether I could go, if I didn't know when the pandemic was coming, I wouldn't have bothered with a triathlon because that would have done the job. I could have written a book about responding to that. And if I'd known that I was about to go, Oh, you got cancer, I wouldn't have I would have. No, they were all the same to me. But the pandemic, the triathlon, the bike accidents, right, the cancer diagnosis, they're all the same sorts of things, and formulating a process where we can work through those things and move forward and get again stay on the front foot. You know, that to me is unashamedly superhuman. It you know, that's it's the point, you know that I'm trying to make it and the book is not about me. It's about everyone's version of that, you know,
Which again, you know, of course Jim we will, you know, promote it and recommend everyone buys it and at least read some of it not just the front cover. I'm gonna finish with this question, Jim, if you would indulge. Let's imagine you've got the opportunity to send everyone that is willing to receive a letter. And the letters old school handwritten. So they're going to open and go who's this from level? And you've got to use as few words as possible to leave them a message about unashamedly superhuman. Not the book, but the principle of tapping into the potential and, you know, you've got more than more than you appear all that sort of stuff. How would you summarise it in a letter?
Wow. Okay. I think if I was the first words that came to mind, when you when you're asking that question, is I could sum it up in two words. And the two words would be test yourself. Right? Because are the things that you know, I've moved away from those in life many times? Yeah. Yeah, I had to test myself in that situation. But I think I think that's, that would be my, my message. You know, the book is full of hacks and strategies to support you, me. When you test yourself testing ourselves, you know, it has a negative connotation he had to me now it is the most positive connotation, you know, so maybe I'll just leave it there and keep it simple.
And, you know, the irony is, that was such a test, because I didn't warn you about that. And there's quite, there's quite a lot in this book, right? There's really helpful, you could just say anything. And so that's the very essence of the message you just weren't tested. And you and I just don't say something. So again, it's been, again, long time between drinks far too many. And yeah, for sure. I saw appreciate given what you've got going on, jumping on this and having a conversation with me. I think there's some fantastic stuff. And I do remember some of the stories from our old times, which again, still told the way you tell them people go, Wow, that's a great story. That's a great insight. So I'm really grateful. I'm really thankful and humbled that you'd come and join us on on the podcast. I'm really, really thankful. So thank you very much.
Well, that thanks for the opportunity. It's been an absolute pleasure and I knew it would be.