Peak Performance, Running, and Mastering the Inner Game with Steve Magness

Steve Magness is a running coach turned peak performance expert and coach. In this conversation, we get to go to just so many great places.

He has just so much insight into what it means to perform at the top of your game. And we get to geek out on all the things that I love to geek out on performance mindset, into the inner game of athletics and athleticism. 

I get to ask some geeky running questions, which I’m really into. It was just such a fun conversation.

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And if you’re an entrepreneur and you’re interested in the kinds of things that I’m talking about with Steve here today, I’m building an accelerator to help entrepreneurs love the businesses that they’re building for the long haul, avoid burnout, and make a life and a business that you love.

It’s all launching in the beginning of 2023. I would love to share more with you about it if it’s the kind of thing that you’re interested in: defining success as more than just a financial metric, but understanding the metrics that measure your own personal success so that you can love your life not just when your business is booming and excelling in the future, but even in the present, regardless of the business’s performance.

You can find out more about that at https://themeaningmovement.com/start

You can take the burnout risk assessment there so a series of questions that I put together to help you understand your pace, your current reality, and then hopefully from there bring some awareness to how you are doing in this area. 

After you take that assessment, you can jump on a call with me, we can talk about putting together a personal plan for you and I can share more about the accelerator. You can find out more about that at https://themeaningmovement.com/start


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Software Generated Transcription:

Dan: Steve, welcome to The Meaning Movement Podcast. I’m so excited to have you here with, with us. Welcome to the show.

Steve: Yeah. Dan, thanks so much for having me. I’m really excited to talk to you.

Dan: The question I like to start with is how do you begin to talk about the work that you do?

Steve: Yeah, it used to be a straightforward answer, but now it’s kind of this complicated answer, and I think I try to simplify it in the sense that I try to help people perform better at whatever it is they’re doing or whatever challenges they’re tackling, like,

Dan: I love it. I love it. I, and so let’s, let’s explore that, unpack that a little bit. What are the different manifestations that, that, that takes, and, and maybe you could, this is choose your own adventure question, or what kind of things are people tackling? Uh,

Steve: Yeah, that’s, you know, what kind of manifestation? So that’s a good question. So maybe some background will help is that most of my life I spent in the athletic realm, so that’s why that question was very simple to ask. I, how do I help people perform better? I, I help them get faster, stronger, or like, you know, perform in their athletic feet.

It was simple. I, I could give, give, give

that it,

Dan: to measure.

Steve: Exactly. Easy to measure, but then, you know, being, for whatever reason, I’ve expanded beyond that and now helped still do some athletes. But it’s really helping tackle kind of the nuance questions of, well, what does performance look like in the workplace?

What does it look like for artist or entrepreneur? And we can’t always like measure that as well. And what I would also say is I don’t focus on performance in the sense of, you know, how many books you sold or like how much money you made or what have you. I’m talking about like you and holistically how you’re doing.

So in terms, in terms of tackling, you know, what do I help people tackle? It’s often like those, those challenges that allow them to, you know, sustain their work over the long haul. The perspective to allow them to say like, is this the work that I still want to do? Right? And, and, and then answering those difficult questions of like, well, how do I get through these stressful moments or difficult times in whatever work I’m I’m doing in pursuing and like, what are the tools I need to develop to do so?

Dan: I love it. I like this. I, I’ve, I’ve been so excited to talk to you because, because of, I’m so interested in everything that you just said. Uh, I’m a, I’m a, I’m a runner, not, not of the caliber that you’re used to working with, but, uh, but I like to put in some miles. Um, and so, uh, you know, physical performance is, is very, I also do calisthenics, but I feel like running is, I’ve been listening, binging some of your, your coaching podcast.

And, uh, learning a lot and, um, feel a little outta my depth sometimes cause I’m not a coach, but, um, but it’s just such good stuff. I’m gonna keep, keep listening to it, but then also just the crossover from athletics and running into, into performance and just how you’re, you’re defining performance even now, like holistically, like holistic performance and how you’re doing in, in your work.

Like, This stuff just gets me fired up. So this is, this is gonna be fun. I’m excited for this. I, I wanna start just by the, with the question, how do you define, um, performance or how do you define peak performance? Good performance. Um, I’m not sure which, which word, which iteration of those words to choose, but I want to hear you talk about it.

Steve: Yeah. So to me is it’s really aligning with like what your basic kind of psychological needs or physical needs are in whatever it is you’re do, you’re doing. So when I look at, we’ll just use peak performance, well, what does that mean? It means like showing up and doing the thing that aligns with my purpose.

which is like, well, what aligns with my purpose? Well, it’s like the thing that interests you and develops from interest to passion and from passion to like this calling or something that, you know, pulls you towards it. So again, maybe to simplify for the listeners, I almost look at it again holistically.

We can look at performance well in. in terms of social and connection, which could be like family and support and all those things. Why is that performance? Well, it allows you to do the things that you need to do. If you don’t have that support structure or that connection and feeling of belonging, you’re not gonna be able to perform, you know, physically, emotionally, psychologically, whatever have you.

Then we can look at other buckets like. We can call it physical performance or we could call it health and movement, which is like, do you have some, I’m not even talking athletically. Do you have some sort of practice where it’s. You’re active, and this doesn’t have to be exercise per se, but like even going on walks or what have you, because I think physical movement, again, provides that foundation where we can be a healthy, happy, functioning, performing human being.

And then we can look at again like things like our pursuits, well, You know, what are the things that we care about that we’re trying to quote unquote perform at? And then another thing that I think is really important in terms of like this performance idea is, are you doing it in a way that is sustainable over the long haul?

Instead of like, oh, I’m just excited about this. I’m gonna go all into this and then, you know, be burnt out in six months and hate the thing that I once loved. So it’s really, really, how do you create that sustainable model that really, really matters.

Dan: I love it. I love it. I, it, uh, just the, again, like that holistic approach like that we are, we are complex beings and, um, rather than, you know, maybe myopically focusing on one specific aspect, thinking about the whole, the whole picture of, of who. Yeah. All the different facets of life and, and helping, helping us move, move ourselves forward in, in all those areas at once is kind of how I, I hear you defining it, which is Yeah.

Does that, does that, does that sound right?

Steve: exactly. And I think, you know, a lot of it goes to, well, why is that important? And, and, and it is because, uh, you know, when we’re so almost myopic as you said, uh, We’re almost fragile because if our whole life and our whole identity and our whole sense of self is wrapped around like maybe one thing and we say like, you know, whatever it is, like my job defines me.

Well, what happens is that almost pushes us to a place where we’re now performing out of a place of fear

Dan: Mm,

Steve: and like, uh, uh, I have to do this instead of, I want to do.

Dan: Yes.

Steve: And that is not a place where we’re going to, a, be sustainable, and b, like perform and be happy doing it. So I think that holistic, like I I call it like diversifying your sources of like meaning where you.

Where you can get it from different areas so that, you know, cuz sometimes, you know, I’ll be honest, Dan is like, I’m gonna struggle in what I’m doing. And if it’s a bad day at work or a bad day writing, for example, you know, that’s, I, I can be like, you know what, writing didn’t go my way, but you know, I’ve got A, B, and C and D over here, which are important to me and are still here.

So it’s not the end of the world.

Dan: Mm. I love that so much. I just, you know, wrote down like diversifying your sources of meaning. That’s just such, such a good way of putting it, and I feel like. A misconception a lot of people have when they, you know, find my work is they’re like, I’m trying to find my, trying to find my calling. I’m trying to find that thing that I’m supposed to be doing.

but they’re thinking about what they’re, what they’re doing. They’re nine to. Well, whereas that’s just one of the many places in our lives where we can find meaning. And I hear you. Inviting people to, to again, take that more holistic approach. That, that, that’s a good, that’s a great place to look for meaning, but it’s not the only place.

Some people have more, uh, agency, more ability to choose what they’re doing with that part of their lives, but others don’t. But that doesn’t mean that the. That, that aren’t able to choose, you know, make more intentional choices about how they’re spending their time. That one, they can’t make choices about what they’re doing in that specific job to make it more meaningful.

And also like that their life outside of their job like that, that’s devoid of meaning because they don’t, you know, cuz they don’t have a job that’s, you know, super sexy and cool. Um, so I, I love it. I’m just so, so on board with everything, everything that you’re saying here. I wanna just zoom out a little.

And rewind a little bit and just ask, you know, how did you, how did you get into this, you know, very specific niche? And we’ve already, you’ve already referenced that you were in the, the athletics world, but maybe just give us a, just a high level overview of some of your, um, major twists and turns of your career.

Steve: Yeah, I’ve had a lot of them. So , when, when I was, when I was younger, as I said, all I cared about was athletics and particularly my sport was, was running, so track and field and running, and that was all that mattered to me. So much so that like, In high school, I did schoolwork because I wanted to stay eligible so that I could compete in running.

You know, I went to college literally so that I could keep running and keep competing. And people are like, well, what do you wanna do in school? And I’m like, I have no idea. Like whatever they

stick me in. Yeah, I’m gonna run. So, uh, in, in, and it’s interesting, and this will come up later, but it’s like, so much so that, like in high school, I think I only read like one book, like the entire, my entire high school career.

Like I’d read the, like cliff notes or watch the movie or

whatever when we were assigned books. So I tell that because now, like I am literally a writer and author.

Dan: Yes.

Steve: And, and I think that’s an important, you know, one of these twists and turns because often we think of this kind of linear path of like A leads to B, to C to D, and we have to have it all planned out and figure it out.

And that simply isn’t the case, isn’t isn’t reality. If you would’ve told, if I had a time machine and I could go back and tell, you know, 16 year old Steve, you’re gonna be a writer. I don’t know, 250 page books or whatever it is. He’d be like, are you, do you know me?

Dan: If

you have the wrong

Steve: yeah, you went, you went back to the wrong person.

Like, this isn’t me. I don’t, I don’t do that stuff.

Dan: Yeah.

Steve: And that is such an important lesson to me because, It’s like you almost have to accept that like you’re going to change and develop and you have to be open to those spots. So I guess to tell my story again, it was all running and then what happened is I was like, well, I gotta, I guess I’ve gotta figure out something to do.

So it became, you know, all coaching runners and athletes. So it was all in that realm, and I, I loved that and enjoyed that for a long while. But what, what happened is, is essentially two things, is like a, I was in the high level space of coaching high level runners and still do to a degree, but like very deep in it.

And I just found myself in an experience where, um, it was where I was blowing the, I was a whistleblower Essent. On, um, some performance enhancing drug use, some anti-doping use, and that like shifted my experience of the, the high level sport, whereas like, Okay, I’m devoting my life to this like high level Olympic level sport and we have this stuff that goes against, you know, my view of sport and ethics and values and all that stuff.

So it really kind of changed my view and made me, you know, force me in some ways to like diversify my skillset.

Dan: Mmm.

Steve: So what happened over time is like, that’s actually what pushed me into getting into.

Dan: Yeah.

Steve: and I started writing because I was like, you know what? I’m interested in these topics. I want to explore them.

Well, what allows me to explore them? Well, writing books, uh, and articles and all that allows me to talk to interesting people and smart people and explore ideas. And this sounds really interesting. So, That started almost like as a side gig, side hustle, you know, almost diversion from my day job of coaching track and field athletes.

But over, over time, that grew. And took over importance where I was like, this is, this is, you know, something that I wanna pursue. And I, it is taken up a larger and larger and larger amount of my time ever since that. So it’s like, yeah, I still help runners and like athletes, all that stuff, but I primarily work in the, the other space, which used to be the minority, which is writing, researching, like, and coaching people on, on, on like holistic.

Dan: I love it. Wow. Thank you for that, um, synopsis. It’s, it’s really, it’s really helpful. I’m, I’m so curious about that. Um, I, I don’t know if these, these weren’t your words, but I’ll just put them, put them into your mouth and you can spit them out. Um, if you prefer, uh, like it almost feels like this disenchantment or like you got to the, the top and you’re like, I don’t actually like it here as much as I thought I would.

Or like certain aspects of it. Um, and that it’s like through, through that, you know, maybe negative experience. Like the, it feels like it kind of created this new space that something else kind of merged into it. But I also feel like, it sounds like, like a really hard, I I would imagine be a really emotional, like kind of, I don’t know, disappointment, frustration, disillusionment.

What, like what words do you use to describe that transition

Steve: Yeah, disillusion is a good one. I, I, I like the words you stuck in my mouth. I’m gonna stick

with those, um,

Dan: Success

Steve: But, but it, it’s a good, because it, it, it’s almost like, the way I like to describe it is you have this view of what reality you think it is, and you have this image and you’ve got it, and then you get there and you’re looking around.

I was like, this isn’t what I signed up.

Dan: Yes.

Steve: And you almost get like smacked in the face of like having to come to terms with how things actually are versus how you imagined them. And, and it really does make you feel a little disillusioned and almost like, it’s almost to a degree like. You have to, you, the world feels a little bit fragmented and now you are in charge of like putting it back together in the place and the pieces that you want to, and I think that’s where that space comes in as it’s like, okay, you know, this wasn’t what I expected.

This ISN isn’t what I signed up for, so what, what is it I really. Do, like how do I wanna create that space in my environment so that I can maybe pursue things in a way that aligns with, you know, my passions, my pursuits a lot better. And that’s kind of, again, it wasn’t easy, it was a lot of that, you know, that, that those emotions and negative emotions and things like you said, but it’s almost like that that traumatic experience allowed that space for you to.

Pick apart past assumptions and then be like, okay, I’m in charge here. Like what do I, what path do I want to take forward? This isn’t just like a single path that I, I have to stay on.

Dan: Yeah. I love that. I, I feel like it’s just such, such an important moment because that’s where so many listeners are right now, and I think that’s why I wanna kind of focus in on that cuz like, so, so often, uh, you know, we start careered, you know, you finish school, you, you go, you get your degree, you go out in the workforce and you’re like, oh, this.

Isn’t what I thought it would be, or like, you know, whatever. You get that dream job and it’s not a dream anymore. You, you, you know, whatever iteration of that, you know, you, you, you get, you, you, your band gets to that point where you get to book that North American tour and then it’s like you’re just sleeping in dirty couches every night.

Like, I don’t know, like, but like it happens and it happens so much, and then you have to ask that question of. Do I find a new way to love this thing that I’m doing? Or do I find, you know, something new to love or like some kind of combination of both. And it feels like you’ve kind of done a little bit of both cuz you’re still, you’re still coaching, but like, it feels like you kind of have backed away from, you know, that as being like the only thing and, and some beautiful things have grown out of it.

Steve: Yeah, exactly. I think that is it. It really is that space, and that is often the difficult decision. And I think too often on life we’re told like, oh, you hit that decision and then you just like put your head down and you just grind through it and you’re just like, you know, I’m gonna push because this is what I signed up for, you know, years ago.

And that might be a way, but they’re the, what I try and tell people is they’re in those spots. You wanna step back and create the space and clarity so that you know. And are clear on the decision you’re making and the path that you’re going down. Cause often what happens is, again, again, when we get in those spots is our worldview is so narrow that often we only see the path ahead of us.

And what we have to do is get perspective to see, oh, there are different options there. There are different ways to, you know, do this thing or, you know, integrate what I’m doing in a better way into my life. And in those moments, I almost like to think of it as I need to instead of putting on my like, you know, hard work, whatever hat I need to put on my like explorer hat, which is like being okay and sitting around and being like, well, what happens if I go down this path?

What is this path potentially look like? Like, How can I imagine this? It’s almost like the, the metaphor analogy I’d use is, you know, when you’re like, I don’t know if you had this experience, but when you’re a kid, maybe in like first or second or third grade, whatever have you, you’d, you’d find something that would interest you and then you’d like go crazy on it for like a week and then you throw it off and youd do something else.

you know,

Dan: yes. I totally, I have a, I have a almost seven year old, and so I, I relate to that, my own, my own life, but also I see him do that so much. It’s like that was your favorite thing, like. It feels like 10 minutes ago, and now you’re just, you’re not even, you know, that was your Lego set that you, you know, was your life, and now it’s just you’re, you don’t care anymore.

Steve: It, it exactly. That’s it. The Lego set. And you, you know, what I would say is we don’t know need to go to that extreme, but it’s like kind of go back to that place where, what are kids doing? Well, they, they’re young. They don’t know what they like, like they’re not thinking of like, you know, oh, I gotta make this decision on the Lego set.

I’m gonna have for the next five years of my. They’re thinking like, I’m gonna explore interesting things and go deep enough to see if, like, I really enjoy it. And then if, you know, I stop enjoying it, I’m gonna go find something else better to do. And I think, again, not to that extreme, but to some degree, as as adults, we lose that and we gotta like put that hot hat back on every once in a while where we can like put something down, pick something else up, explore it, and maybe we come back to the original thing.

But that exploration allows us to get clarity and to see if, if we should, you know, keep going or if we should.

Dan: Yeah. And then when you come back to that original thing, you’re a new person because you’ve have more insight, different perspective, um, which I think is, is a really helpful Yeah. Metaphor for, for, for folks. And so people listening, just to kind of speak to you, just listeners directly, like if you’re in that space, um, I think what, what Steve hears in inviting you to is to, to put on that hat, take that seriously and give yourself permission to just explore without. Outcome, a known outcome in in mind, um, which I think is a really great invitation. I think one follow up to that, that I, I’m curious your thoughts on is like in order to do that, it you have to have the belief that. It’s gonna work out and like that, you’re gonna be okay. And I think that that sometimes can be really hard.

I think especially if, well, you know, especially if there’s, uh, you know, a lot of financial responsibilities, family responsibilities, like, like the, the, the pressure cooker that life can be, and like this whole layer on top of like this conversation of like, you know, um, yeah, I don’t know. I’m, I’m just curious if you have thoughts about like, how do you, how do you manage to hold the space of exploration?

While at the same time acknowledging that like it’s hard

Steve: Yeah. No, I, I, I mean it’s, it absolutely is hard. And I think, I think, I think step one is acknowledging that, and I, I think, I think often what happens, we, we set ourselves up, uh, almost unrealistically and we think like, I’m gonna find this magic thing that’s gonna fulfill all these things, and then I’m gonna jump to it and like, Have everything I need.

The reality is that’s not the case. And the reality is we have to worry about finances and bills and all that good stuff. So, so to me, again, it’s, it’s, every situation’s different, but how do you set up your life to give you a little bit more freedom so you can explore and I’ll, I’ll just give you my example from my life is when I was, uh, when I was coaching, You know, full time.

It took up all my time. It was my, my, you know, financial security, all that good stuff. So I couldn’t just go, right, I’m gonna go become a writer right now and forget all this. So what I did is in my, you know, my free time or in some downtime or off season or what have you, when I had a little more space, I would explore this other passion.

I’d start to write or blog or back in the day, blog, whatever it is. And, and that’s, I actually wrote again, my first book, um, first couple books were, I’m still coaching, like it just still my primary thing. It wasn’t until really my third book where I was like, okay, I have. The financial security, everything in line where I can do, I can still coach, I can not coach, I can do it full time.

It’s like totally up to me because I’m not totally dependent on that. And, and sometimes that takes time and that’s, that’s okay. So to me is again, instead of framing it as like, where’s the big thing I have to jump to? Think of it as the small steps in dabbling. Maybe as you explore and if you dabble and this thing grows and grows and grows, eventually if it’s viable, it’s going to provide the the time where you can make that decision to be like, you know what?

This thing over here is it more than this thing I’m in. I’m gonna make that switch.

Dan: I love it. That’s so, so good.

Dan: tell me about like, so it’s easier for me to envision the path, like to being a coach than it is to like being a, a performance, uh, writer. And so like was blogging a big part of like that transition for you to like seeing that like income and seeing the, the, the traction happen there or, or what did it look like to like be able to say like, okay, I’m actually.

Step all the way into these waters.

Steve: Yeah. Yeah. So initially it was like, again, this was, I don’t know, um, 2010 or something like that, you know, when blogging was a thing. Um, so I mean, initially, again, you have to remember I’m coming at this from someone who never didn’t like really read much or write much in high school or even into college for part of it.

So what I used is like blogging is like this exploration of like, well, I think I can write, okay, I’m gonna do this. And honestly, I’m sure if I look back I’d be like, some of this is horrible, but it, but it allows you that space where it’s like, I’m not dependent on this to make money. You know, I’m not dependent on this is like, if I suck, I suck.

No one cares. So it gives you that freedom to explore and like craft your hone your.

Dan: Yeah.

Steve: to kind of play with that skill instead of like being thrown straight into the game as you’re playing, you’re exploring all that stuff. And then from there, what that really allowed me to do is like, you know, I started making a little bit of money on like writing for some magazines or you know, websites that paid and stuff like that.

And you know, that gives you, again, that little confidence like, Someone’s willing to pay for me in this stuff, right? So I guess I’ll do this and then it, it’s like a gradual step from there. It’s like, well, I got a small book deal, like someone, it’s not gonna make me a lot of money, but someone wants to like pay to edit and put this out in the world.

So sure, let’s do it. And what you see is over time, Like, again, it’s those small steps and it was often the same, the same way, you know, in, in, in, in sport. Again, in sport, I was like all runners and then helping people. I started writing in this performance space and then like athletes who were like basketball players or hockey or whoever are reaching out.

I’m like, I don’t know anything about basketball, but. We can talk and you have these conversations and you’re like, oh, you’re facing the same sort of anxieties and problems that like, you know, maybe I do as a runner, so sure I can, I can help you here. And it expands that world a little bit where you realize, oh, like I do have something to contribute here.

And then you just kind of do that along enough. And then like, if you do it well enough, like the doors kind of open up and it, it kind of takes care of itself to a.

Dan: I love it. It, it’s so, so good and such a, um, just iterative process. You go, you step in a little bit, you push in a little bit, you see what happens, and then you push in a little bit more. You see what happens. And, um, just kind of keep, keep iterating on, on, uh, yeah, down the path and, and see where, see where it takes you, which I think is a really, yeah, really great, um, metaphor.

Um, so thinking about like you transitioning from running to basketball, I’m like, okay, well basketball players run , you know? And like, and then like hockey, like, well, hockey’s not, ice skating is not that different than running. But, but I, there are these principles that apply, and this is one of the questions I wanted to ask you, you know, before, um, as I was thinking about this, this interview.

Um, and I, I, I feel like it’s an impossible question. You can tell me if it’s not. How much. Performance. Well, I, I’m thinking through the lens of running, right. Um, how much of running is a mind game?

Steve: I, I, I’ve, you know, it’s impossible to give a percentage on that, but I will say it is very much so, because like what happens is, let’s think of running, what is it? It’s you alone in your head, like feeling pain, discomfort, like fatigue, all of this barrage of emotions accompanied by like, you know, often these voices, these negative voices that tell you like, you know, slow down, stop, you know,

Dan: not gonna make

it. You can’t keep this up.

Steve: You can’t, and it’s all like negative coming at

you and, and you have to figure out a way how to navigate that.

Dan: Mm-hmm. . Yes.

Steve: and to me, you know, that’s where I think it applies to so many things because it’s like that same, maybe not to that, that same way, but that same kind of process occurs in almost everything we do.

You know, it’s the same when you’re in a relationship and you’re like, well, should I should keep dating this person or should I not? And you have that same kind of inner battle. It’s the same in deciding like, well, should I quit this job or should I keep going? It’s like, maybe not as acute, but you have those same like, you know, angel and devil on your shoulder telling you, you know, go this way.

No, go that way. So I, I, I think that’s why it applies to everything, and I think that’s what one of the beautiful things about running as a sport and also metaphor for other things is that like, yes, there’s physical talent and components to that, but in terms of you getting better, so much of it is like mastering that mental and psychological game.

And if you can do that, then you’re gonna perform up to whatever potential you have. And that’s what, what it’s all about.

Dan: That’s so, so good. So good. Um, I, I’m always. Wanting to use metaphor, the metaphor of athleticism for so much of my work, because just the, the tie-ins are just, they’re just endless. And I feel like you learn, you learn so much about yourself, you learn so much about the world, um, and learn so much about just chasing after something and dedicating yourself to something when you’re actually training for a goal and trying to, trying to make it happen.

Um, and so like your, your transition from athleticism to, you know, to. Performance outside of a athletic just makes so much, so much sense in, in that regard. So, um, well, I wanna, I have not gotten my hands on your newest book yet, but I, I, I want to, um, but I would love to just maybe just give us the, you know, give us the, the, the high level overview of, you know, what, what it’s about.

It’s called Do Hard Things. Why We Get. Wrong in the surprising science of real toughness. Um, yeah. Tell tell us what, what’s, what’s your hope with this, with this, uh, this text here?

Steve: Yeah. You know, hopefully as the listeners can hear is I’m all about like this. How do you bring nuance to the conversation? And that’s kind of my goal in this new book, because often what we think is to handle those difficult moments, maybe like what we talked about earlier, is like you put your head down, you grind through it, you grit your teeth, and you just kind of persist no matter what.

Well, Often backfires. And instead of saying like, this is the only way the new book is about, there’s a bunch of tools that we can utilize that aren’t just a hammer to break through things that allow us to get through difficult moments. Some are like creating perspective, right? So if you can create that perspective so you can see, do I wanna persist or do I want to go over.

Other paths. Some of it is like acceptance and like, you know, um, kindness to yourself in the sense that instead of seeing quitting as like this big, huge negative thing, quitting could be the tough and right decision because it allows you to open up space for you to, you know, do other things that might be more productive in align with who you are.

And then the last thing on the, this toughness idea. And resilience that I really thought was important that I highlight in the, the book is, it’s also about not only individually, but how we.

Dan: Hmm.

Steve: often we think of leading and creating discipline or resilience in the workplace, or our teams is about like creating these like authoritarian, like, you know, I’m the boss environments and I’m gonna be like, yeah, top down.

But that’s not what the research psychology and top performers show us. Instead, what is, you know, instead what it shows is if you, you have that top down approach, you essentially create people or tell people to respond out of fear.

Dan: Mm.

Steve: when we respond out of fear, what happens is we’re often put in a place where we’re no longer playing to win.

We’re just playing not to lose or not to mess up or not get punish.

Dan: Yeah.

Steve: And instead, if we create this environment that is like, yes, you might be challenged, but you’re gonna be supported. Yes. That like, you know, you might be asked to do difficult things, but I’m gonna give you some autonomy and freedom to choose, you know, and some sense of choice and that you can make progress.

You’re going to be in a, a better spot. And then on that last part, it’s like, Yes, progress is what we’re after, but progress is not this linear line that just goes up and up. It’s going to be this journey. And that part of like, being tough and, and creating resiliency is like accepting that that journey is often gonna be winding, but it’s about that journey and not necessarily like that, that end outcome and end goal that keeps you going.

Dan: I love that. Um, just writing, writing notes. Cause I think all this is, is so good and I think that journey aspect is. So frustrating, right? Because like, I just want, like the result, I just want to like be able to say, okay, I got from point A to point B instead. You know, I’m like, okay, but I’m ending up, you know, right now I feel like I’m pretty far from point B.

Um, but that, you know, that is all part of, part of the journey. Um, which is just, yeah, really, really. Encouraging to know that that’s, that’s all part of the process. That, that the journey itself is, is the journey. Um, and so, yeah. Thank you for that. What, when creating a a, a text like this, a book like this, like what, what is.

I don’t know. I guess what are you thinking as you release something like this into the world? Like what is it like, um, like what are your hopes? Right. We’ve kind of talked about like diversifying your sources of meaning, right? Like how does this fit into the, to the, to, to the, to your framework?

Steve: Yeah, absolutely. So, you know, I, I like to think of it as if my job is to help people perform or whatever, better, I can do that on an individual basis or group basis, which is like one on one and teams or whatever have you, which helps somebody immensely. But then on the opposite end of this is like in that one-on-one, you’re only helping a couple people that at a time,

And then when you write books, you have this ability to help, you know, hopefully thousands and tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of people, you know, and give them a new framework for seeing things. And that’s where I think the book is, is like, of course it’s not me one-on-one coaching, but it’s like I literally have the privilege of, you know, people reading, again, 200 whatever pages of my writing and listening to a message, I’m.

So I almost see this as like an extension of, of a form of coaching. So my hope of it is like, not to convince people or like whatever, but it’s just to get them to think about things in a different light. And then also hopefully give them some tools that allow them maybe to navigate, you know, difficult moments or get a little bit more resilient that they can take away and apply to.

Dan: That’s so great. What are the, is there any low hanging fruit as far? Um, tools, resources for folks that want to improve their resilience. Um, and I’m, I I wanna ask you the same thing about running as well, but let’s start with, let’s talk, talk, you know, about, you know, other kinds of, of performance and resilience.

What are the things that the, the major categories that someone should be thinking about?

Steve: Yeah, definitely. So there’s, there’s a couple different things that I think are really important, which is, One is, um, If you can find ways to have a sense of control over whatever it is you’re doing, you’re going to, uh, be able to be more resilient. And if you look at, we’ll use the athletic example. If you watch professional sports athletes, they almost all have like some sort of ritual routine they do before they perform, right?

You see, the baseball player does like, His, his crazy swings and touching of the gloves before he goes up to bat. The reason they do that is some fascinating brain research shows that like routines make us feel like we have control over uncertain times.

Dan: Interesting.

Steve: So we can almost prime ourselves to perform another.

Interesting, you know, low hanging fruit is also, we talked earlier about, well, your inner voice, well, how you talk to yourself can shift, how you can handle that, those difficult times and moments. And there’s some fascinating research that shows that creating what we call psychological distance. Allows us to handle difficult things more.

Well, what is psychological distance? Almost think of it as like, you know, as if you were giving your advice to a friend, you are able to have better perspective. So often you’re able to like take something away from it. We can do that very simply with a couple tricks. One is changing from our inner voice, from being first person.

I can do this or I should do whatever to second or third person like you or Steve or Dan. And it might sound weird to say like, you know, Dan, Dan, you know, Dan’s got this, or whatever have you. But what happens is the brain almost interprets it. It’s almost like it dislodges our brain from like automatic mode and it says like, wait a minute, this voice is different, so I’m gonna

Dan: Who’s saying that?

Steve: Yeah, exactly.

So. And the same thing actually occurs if we take our inner voice outside. So, you know, this is why if you watch, uh, professional tennis players sometimes before they’re about to serve, you can watch and see them muttering something to themselves. Well, when we talk to ourselves outside, it’s almost like a more primitive voice.

And it’s almost like we’re hearing it as if someone else is saying, So we listen to it better than like just our kind of inner bickering and arguments that often occur. So there’s a couple, you know,

simple tricks that that might help your listeners

Dan: Yo, there’s some, some super, yeah. Fascinating stuff there. I’m, I’m, I’m going start using that. I’m gonna start using those when I’m out on my run and telling Dan’s got this. Um, sometimes I have to talk myself, you know, talk myself through it, but I’ve never, never heard that about the second, third person.

Um, and also just the externalizing piece that makes sense. That like, by externalizing it, like it’s engaging more of your body to like vocalize, you know, and. Your more senses. So it feels like it makes sense that it would give it more, more weight. Um, but I hadn’t, hadn’t heard of that before, so thank you for that.

I, I definitely will, um, put that, I’m always also thinking about these things with my kids, cuz my kids, they’ll always, you know, ask them to, you know, do something, you know, get in the, get in the car. I can’t, like, no, you, of course you can. And like I’m always telling ’em, we don’t say, I can’t, like, I’m trying to like re help them reframe like, like how they’re thinking.

The words we’re using shape our reality and shape the way we think about ourselves and, and our abilities. Um, and so even just, you know, having some of these, you know, tools I think are really, will be really interesting for me to, to play with, you know, with them as well. So, so thank you for that. I’m curious, just, just because I know that your expertise is, is running, like for folks that are listening that are like, I’ve tried to be a runner and I’m, I don’t know that I have it in me, but I wanna do it.

Like, I’m curious what, like that same question, but but about running, like where’s the low hanging fruit of building a running practice?

Steve: So for big beginners, I think they make, uh, a couple crucial mistakes is they do too much or bite off too much for them to chew.

Dan: Yeah.

Steve: what we need is we need to make progress. And if we make progress, we’re motivated and we show up. If we don’t make progress, it gets discouraging and we just stop.

We fall into the like that. What’s the point? So often what happens is new runners say, okay, I’m gonna go for a run. Will they go out and they. Try to run and they try and run really hard, and then they get tired and fatigued and then they say, this sucks. Like this is really exhausting. Well, the reality is you need to, you know, how should I put it?

You need to get fit enough to enjoy running before running becomes something that is like routine and enjoyable. So what that means is when you’re looking at starting running, Don’t feel bad about, you know, alternating jogging and walking, because maybe that’s where you’re at. Because, you know, for me, for example, you know, I’m a lifelong runner, but like, I go out the DA door and like 80 90, 80 to 90% of the runs are easy and enjoyable.

Like I can, you know, think about whatever I need to think about and I can like, you know, have a full on conversation with a friend. So it’s not like I’m out there like huffing and puffing the whole time, where often beginners are because they don’t quite have that fitness yet to allow them to do it easy.

So what do you do? You lower the bar. Right. You say, okay, I’m gonna, I’m gonna run a little bit, then I’m gonna walk, I’m gonna run a little bit. I’m gonna walk like, take your dog for it. They love doing stuff like that, whatever it is. But set that standard lows so that you can then progress and come back to it and, and build off of that as well.

And then the other thing that I think is really important for beginning runners is, Making it easy to get out the door, because often what happens is the struggle is before you get out the door. Once you’re out the door, you’re like, well, I’m out here. I might as well get my run in. And this applies to me too.

I’m sure it applies to you too. It’s like there’s times when you’re just sitting there like, do I really wanna go? Do I wanna put on my shoes, whatever have you. And then you get out the door and you’re like, oh, that this is fine. Like, I’ll be all

right.

Dan: Yeah.

Steve: so it is like whatever you can do to make it easy on yourself to get started.

So for beginners that might be like, you know what? Put your running shoes like right by the door with your socks there, or your running clothes laid out, you know, the night before. Like, make it simple for you to say yes. And if you can do that, then often, like you’re gonna get out the door more often than not.

Dan: I love it. So, so good. And I, I, as, as you’re describing, well, one, I’m, I’m so guilty in all of life of biting off more than I can chew, and I think I just kind of lucked out with running because I, I was, I was starting and you had a lot of shin splints and said, this is probably three or four years ago. I have not been running that, running seriously that long.

But then I, after I could run a few miles, I made the, I, I’m really motivated by goals and setting goals for myself. And so I said, I’m gonna run 365 miles this. Um, you know, it was like kinda the beginning of January and I was like that, you know, I could run, I could at that point run probably almost, maybe almost three miles.

Um, and I think just like that slow progress of like a year of like, just constant, like, you know, two miles here, three miles there, one mile, a lot of days, like really built up, like a really solid base for me, kind of without being, without I think even realizing what I was doing. Um, so then, then I had that fitness, fitness level as a baseline.

To go ahead and, you know, start, you know, doing more, I think more aggressive, more intentional, um, things. So I think that’s a great kind of framework for people to, to uh, yeah, to, to use as they, they think about, um, running, uh, just as we move towards wrapping up, cause I know we’ve been going a while here, but I just wanna kind of circle all the way back around to, you’re talking about just the different sources of meaning.

And I just wanna ask you, um, in your life, like what are some of the main buckets. That you use when you think about meaning in your, in all of your life.

Steve: that’s a great, great question. So I think that it, it, you know, for my own, it comes from a different area. So, um, my family is, is obviously there, like they bring a lot of meaning and purpose to my life as well. Um, so that connection I would also say, You know, branching out from that, like my friends in my community, like they provide that support and those connections and those lifelong friendship and that sense of belonging, that is, I think, incredibly important.

And then the things that I do as well, which a, you know, I would say running an exercise is part of that because it makes me, It challenges me in different ways. It gives me something where, you know, I can do something difficult and succeed or off or fail or what have you, and it gives me this place where I’m like allowed to explore my limits, which I think is important in creating that, that kind of sources of meaning.

And then also in, in my work pursuits. So writing is incredibly meaningful towards me. For me, coaching is incredibly meaningful. Um, Even things like doing these podcasts, I think like it’s important because it’s another avenue where it’s like, well, it’s different from writing in the sense that it’s not just me.

Sitting here and writing things, but we’re having a conversation on really important things. So I should feel like very fortunate to be in a position where I can sit down with you, Dan, and like discuss these things that I’m passionate about and you’re passionate about, and we can like hopefully, you know, discover or go on this journey together to where we’re discovering things that maybe, you know, us alone sitting at a desk weren’t gonna figure out by ourself.

Dan: absolutely.

Steve: So there’s a, a lot of those things, and I think even, you know, outside of podcasts which comes back is it’s like, you know, to me it’s like I wanna be in a position where I can do and explore things that are interesting to me, and that gives me a lot of meaning. So even like with writing part of that, part of why I love it is I allowed, I’m allowed to go down a deep rabbit.

You know, in research and talk to interesting people and like really, you know, wrestle with difficult topics for, you know, sometimes years before I write a word. And that again, that also brings meaning because again, it allows me to explore ideas and interests that, you know, maybe I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to do so.

Dan: I love it. I love it. And I love just that multifaceted, you know, I know we talked about it earlier, just the multifaceted definition and approach to, to meaning, um, I think is just so, so essential and so often missed by many. And so I hope for folks listening that you, you know, can follow Steve’s example here to think about, you know, your, your life as a, as a holistic being.

Like there’s many different places to look. For those, you know, real, meaningful, meaningful things. And if, if one area of life isn’t working, that’s okay. Not all areas of life are always gonna be inherently meaningful. Um, but that, you know, sometimes, sometimes you make sacrifices in one and to, in order to elevate and, um, bring more focus to the others, which, um, I think is, yeah.

Just a really, really great example that, that you’ve given us. Today, Steve, so thank you so much for all of this. I wish that I had like two more hours because I haven’t even talked to you. Like I really, really, I really wanted to come into this with like getting some free coaching lessons for, you know, how to, how to beat my 5K goal and stuff like that.

But, uh, I’ll have to save those for for next time. For folks that wanna follow along with your work and, um, connect with you, is there anything you’d like to, um, invite, invite them to?

Steve: Yeah, no, you can, you can, uh, connect with me on all social media at Steve Magnus or check out my website, steve magnus.com and of course, check out my new book. Do Hard Things. I appreciate, you know, your listeners and, and the work that you’re doing, Dan, I think it’s really important.

Dan: Thank you so much, Steve. Really appreciate it.

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