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Nidhi Tewari

Welcome to part one of our three-part series tackling the concept of self-sabotage. Why we do it, how we do it, and finding the right balance between hard work and self-care.

Self-Sabotage Part 1
Self-Sabotage Part 1

Self-Sabotage Part 1

Ep
194
Jun
22
With
Nidhi Tewari
Or Listen On:

Learning how to enjoy the suck.

Have you ever worked so hard on something only to find yourself stuck and caught in what feels like a complete slog? At that moment, you may think: This isn’t working. It’s time to pivot.

But what if, on the other side of that discomfort, awaits everything you want?

More importantly: how do you know if it’s time to pivot or push through the discomfort?

Welcome to part one of our three-part series tackling the concept of self-sabotage. Why we do it, how we do it, and finding the right balance between hard work and self-care.

In this episode, mental health therapist Nidhi Tewari joins Chris to discuss the differences between an unhealthy grind and determined grit. While the two hold different perspectives on the path to proverbial success, they agree that many of us quit working before it gets good.

If you’re at a crossroads and deciding whether to press on or pivot, this conversation is for you.

Hosted By
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produced by
edited by
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Appearances

Episode Transcript

Nidhi:

We're sabotaging ourselves from really living a fulfilled life, because now we're riding the waves of every person's opinion of us and every success or failure instead of really believing and doing the work to see that, no, it has nothing to do with how other people respond to me, it has everything to do with who I believe I am and how I show up in the world. If you don't address the things that you can clearly see are getting in the way, it's self sabotage.

Chris:

Sometimes you're actually pursuing a goal that is no longer aligned to what you want in your life, or perhaps because of some sense of duty, courage, or loyalty, you stick it out in a relationship, with someone that you shouldn't be with. This could be a boss and it could be a personal relationship. It could be with a job that you just don't feel connected to anymore. And that's all okay, because as we grow our priorities change and our goals should change. But sometimes I find this to be true with certain types of personality where it's death before dishonor and they'll just see it through. So I invited Nidhi who is a mental health therapist to join in this conversation. And I'm really excited to take this wherever Nidhi wants to go. So you already know my drill. I'm usually the person who's like, suck it up, embrace the suck, push through this, do not quit, but there's a whole nother side for us to consider. I'm going to pause here. I'm going to hand the mic over to Nidhi for her to introduce herself and to get the conversation going.

Nidhi:

Thanks, Chris. My name is Nidhi Tewari. I'm a professional speaker. I'm a mental health therapist and I help leaders to retain their employees by optimizing wellbeing and ultimately increasing their bottom line. And there are so many people out there that are struggling with feeling stuck. They're kind of stuck in this place of feeling frozen in their business. They don't know which pathway to take. I think it's really important to know when a pivot is warranted and we're going to talk about some of those concrete signs to be looking out for, ways to really know that you're in a place to move from mastering one thing to now shifting gears into another realm. And also looking at the imposter syndrome piece too, because a lot of people, Chris, when you tweeted this out, they were like, "Man, I just feel like I'm a total imposter. I doubt myself at every step of the way. And I feel like I'm fearing judgment. And I feel like I don't have a confidence in my decision making." And so I figured we could address the whole gamut here. Does that sound good to you?

Chris:

That sounds wonderful. So how do we begin this conversation?

Nidhi:

Yeah. Well, so as we were talking yesterday, Chris, I think we were kind of dissecting a bit about those really big name entrepreneurs that have made the pivot, right? And I'll turn it over to you to share some of those examples that you shared with me. But we had looked at what the common traits are because these are some of the examples of people that did do the successful pivot. And these are individuals that were masterful and at the peak of their careers, yet they decided to do something else. And we wanted to kind of look at well, what is that? And that way maybe the audience could determine whether they're in that similar position. So if you don't mind sharing with the audience, a couple of the examples you gave me of those entrepreneurs that we all know of that made that giant pivot and were incredibly successful as a result.

Chris:

Yeah. And I think I need to share some of these stories. They're very well known stories about certain individuals who've done really well. And the part that we typically focus on is their single minded determination, and them taking their company to the brink of bankruptcy and financial ruining and seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. So if you just look at that, it would seem to tell the story that all of us, if we to reach that level of success, we must focus on that singular thing and risk everything all the way. But when you zoom out a little bit, there's another story behind the story. So Nidhi, and I are trying to, as best as we can provide our individual takes on this and you'll have to see where you net out on all of this.
And there might be times in this conversation where I may disagree strongly or slightly with what Nidhi says and she might do the same. And our intention is just to be clear about our points of view and to let you know, this is what's worked for me individually. And if that works for you, great do that. And if it doesn't, there's a wide range of other solutions and I don't want you to close your mind off to say, well, if I can't do what Chris is doing, then it's not going to work and I'm a loser. That's not it at all. So I do need to say that. So the first person, it's going to come to your mind, it's like who has done really well and keeps double downing on their business until they made it. That person to me is Elon Musk.
And Elon Musk is now I think number one or number two with Jeff Bezos as the world's richest person. It's incredible. And you might also remember while Elon was still figuring it out, he had two companies at the time, Tesla and SpaceX, and both companies were startups funded by his fortune made in another company. And he has said this before, had SpaceX not won the NASA prize, there would be no Tesla, there'd be no SpaceX. And he won it just in time and it was the race and that means there was a lot to risk. He needed that money to keep going with Tesla, because Tesla was not profitable, not for some time. And so if we peel back the layers, we're like, wait, what happened here? How could someone just continue down a path and risk everything?
You may also know that Elon Musk made his fortune with another company. I believe it's called PayPal. And he made a ton of money and he burned all of that money in the pursuit of these two ideas, space travel and possibly interplanetary travel and electric car company. And he did this and he made it work. Another very famous story is Tony Hsieh. And Tony Hsieh, as you may know, he's passed away, founded this company called Zappos. And if you read his book, Delivering Happiness, he recounts the story of Zappos and how he had money from another company LinkExchange and he used almost all of that money to keep Zappos going and they were near the brink of being shut down too.
And it was through their relationship with their long term bank, Wells Fargo, I believe, that gave them a line of credit that allowed them to persevere and have a breakthrough. And so again, people taking all their resources, betting the entire bank and to see it all the way through and not giving up. And then of course he sells the company for over a billion dollars to Amazon and they made it and I'm going to turn this back over to Nidhi. So Nidhi what were some of the common things that you can see with these two remarkable individuals? And they may be anomalies, but I think there's still things for us to learn from them.

Nidhi:

Well, the first one that came to mind is that when you're talking about these three individuals, they had a previous success and something that they had mastered before and this served as the proof for them that they could go all in something that was risky and turn it around and make it successful, right? So when we're looking at Elon Musk starting off with PayPal and then building SpaceX and Tesla from there, well, he had the launchpad of his first business. And when we think about all of the other examples, they all had a previous moment of success, actually, not even a moment, a previous really good, solid, phenomenal bout of success. Right? And so I think that was the first theme that we really saw, that if you're going to make the pivot, there needs to be this proof that you have been able to have a successful venture to begin with. Otherwise, are you jumping from the frying pan into the fryer?

Chris:

Yeah. So I hate to say it like this, there's empirical data that you know how to run a successful company or venture and you have the blueprint. And I think that's the interesting thing about certain ties of entrepreneurs is they have a way of figuring out and solving problems and they know how far they can push it and take it. And the reason why we want to make a point of this is you could have a business venture right now, a small to medium size business. And you've taken out a second mortgage on your home. You've borrowed money from friends and family. And you see these people on Shark Tank and they're in a state of desperation and you can see, and the sharks will usually say, "And how much money have you invested in this?" And so I think, and this is just me kind of reading the different shows and how they're edited.
I think they want you to have some skin in the game. They want you to be focused on this, but they don't want you to be upside down, invested all in, risking the kids' college fund and everything, risking financial ruin to do this, because that might be a sign that you're into deep and you need to get out. And you're probably dealing with the sunk cost fallacy and that you have to put good money after bad and you just can't get out of this. And the only way out is to go deeper and deeper into the hole. It's almost like you have a mild drug addiction and to cure that you have to take a harder drug and you just keep going down and there's no way out. And so then that's where we enter into something where it's bordering delusional insanity, and just you being too stubborn for your own good.
We see these in fighters, boxers, and they're just getting pummeled and they're just too stubborn to quit. And they suffer severe long term brain damage, traumatic brain injury because they just will not quit. So it's in these moments where we have to recognize that. So there's something about having a blueprint, having previous data and being able to leverage certain relationships to see it through. And it's hard because these stories could have gone a much different way. Tesla, Elon must doesn't win the SpaceX prize because someone else beats him to it, that's a sad story of Silicon Valley of how a creative genius bet the farm and lost. And there's tons of those stories out there. So we tend to focus only on the positive ones and then we use that as a measuring stick against what we do, but we haven't accomplished what they've accomplished. We haven't learned what they've learned.

Nidhi:

Well, and I just wanted to add in there, Chris, because to further underscore your point when we get to that place of desperation, where we are putting money wherever we can, we're sinking more money, we're literally in the negative and in the red in a business, that's not a good place to make decisions from as a business owner. In fact, there's science behind this because when you're in that desperation mode, when you're in a place of scarcity, your basic needs are at risk of not being taken care of. Well, that rational thinking center in your brain goes offline, right? And so I think it's important for us to recognize that we want to get to a place where we're not making rash decisions out of just throwing money at the problem. We have to be able to identify what isn't working in a business or what is working in order to replicate it.
And if you don't really even understand what's going on underneath the hood in your business, and if you're in a place where you're hemorrhaging money, that is a scary place to then be making a pivot. So I think it's about mastery. It's kind of what I'm hearing you say, Chris, it's like I wonder how many years do you think people have to invest in order to get to that stage of mastery? So I think sometimes we believe that I've spent maybe three, five years doing something and maybe I'm a master at it, but I'm curious, is there some sort of gauge for people so that they can know when they're stuck and when they should be able to move and pivot.

Chris:

Shoot, I think that was a compounded question. And let me try and answer one of those questions. I think if I'm hearing this correctly Nidhi, which is have you spent enough time mastering your craft? And if you believe Malcolm Gladwell, he says, it takes something like 10,000 hours to become an expert at something. And that looks like about 10 years worth of work and study, focus, discipline, study. And if you think about people who get graduate degrees, they, first of all, had to get an undergraduate degree, oftentimes to take a break and they prepare to get into grad school. And then there's a residency program and all kinds of things that you have to get through to be good at something. For good and for bad reasons, people in the creative space, we don't need a degree and we don't need proof that we've put in the time.
All you need to become a designer is to say I'm a designer. And sadly, in a lot of ways, there are a lot of coaches and consultants out there who actually haven't done anything, who haven't been certified, who haven't put in the training, who haven't put in the hours, learning and practicing. And they're running around calling themselves coaches. And sometimes they do a lot of damage and they give other legitimate coaches a bad rep. And so I think we have to put that into context too and again, I hate to say this, but there are a lot of young people out there who are super ambitious and admire them for their ambition and their drive, calling themselves things and saying things that really it's hard to back up. There's little empirical data to be able to validate their claims.
And so part of this is, I think you have to put in some time now for each person's going to be different. I'm not saying two humans put through the same program are going to come out the same. Obviously there are differences in how we learn, how we apply and how quickly we can grow. So it's a broader perspective to say. Are you at that level where a reasonable person would look at what you're doing and say, yes, you've achieved a degree of mastery, maybe not best in the world, but some degree of mastery. And I think you had the second question, but I think it was a slightly different one the way I heard it, Nidhi?

Nidhi:

Yeah. Well, I mean, maybe we can stay with this for a moment because I think that this is kind of where this intersection between our confidence and that imposter syndrome comes into play. Because I'm sure somebody out there is thinking, oh, but I only have three years or I only have a few years. And they're feeling that imposter syndrome of, oh my goodness, I don't have the decade 20 years, 30 years that you've maybe put in Chris. And so what could we maybe say to those people out there that are thinking, should they just be investing more time and energy into developing the mastery? I mean, what can help them to feel less of that imposter syndrome is strong within them?

Chris:

That's an excellent question, but I think you are more the person to speak on this, right?

Nidhi:

Yeah, of course. I mean, so I think that ultimately there's different phases when it comes to your business, right? So developing mastery from my perspective, I think is subjective based off of the stage that you're in. So nobody expects you to have 20 years worth of experience when you've only been doing this for a few years. But I think that there's something to what you're saying, Chris, is there is a certain level of becoming exceptional and deepening the knowledge. And that's where being able to do additional learning or connecting with mentors or being able to continue building your craft and your knowledge and that those individuals bolster your confidence. Now the other game is also the inner game, which is the feeling of no matter how many certifications you get, or no matter how many courses or mentors you're with, that somehow you still don't feel adequate. Or you still don't feel as though you're excellent at what you do.
And if that's the case where you've invested time and energy, and you know that you've put in the work, then that's a mind game. That's a mindset shift that you have to look at and you have to kind of lean into where did that messaging come from and how am I perpetuating that in my day to day life? Because I can almost guarantee you, if you reflect on your past, there was somebody at some point in your life that likely told you that, that's not good enough or you are not good enough or that's crazy that you would ask for X amount for whatever it is that you put out there as a product. And then that message resonates and that's what sticks with us. We have a negativity bias. So we tend to buy into the things that are negative way more than the things that are positive. So those are kind of my thoughts there, but I would love to hear anything you'd like to add Chris.

Chris:

I think when it comes to creative people and that's my tribe and the people I know the best. I know people who have put in 10, 15, 20 years who have multiple degrees and have taught, who've written books and they still suffer from this level of self doubt. Am I good enough? Because there's always somebody who's better than you at something. And it's this horribly destructive behavior that I see, or at least a point of view where we're always comparing ourselves against people who are better than us, never against someone who's worse or even our old self. And so we get stuck in this cycle. But I think for me, Nidhi if I may, I feel like as we talk a little bit more about the imposter syndrome, we might be drifting away from I think, where I thought we were going to take this conversation. So if I may, I would like to present something. Is that okay?

Nidhi:

Please.

Chris:

Okay. So here's the thing, as you may already know, I'm a big proponent of hard work. I said on the last call on Tuesday that you know what it's supposed to suck, it's supposed to be hard. It's supposed to be where people go through this and they quit. And I think of the Navy SEAL's program, the reason why it's probably one of the most elite and respected special forces of the armed services is because there's a very high washout rate. So you know if you make it through training and all the different cycles that you go through and I'm forgetting the language that they use here, that you know you're among a very rare group of people, because this is voluntary and it's easy to quit, and it's very difficult to make it through.
And so you learn something about yourself and your fellow teammates, because they work in very small groups and they need to know we've all passed some degree of tests and we can count on each other and there's a bond that happens there. I also think about there's a, I think it was a Netflix, a documentary many years ago, he's considered the world's best sushi chef. First, when I heard that title, I was like, there's no way one person can even have a title like that. How do we even know? And then we meet this man. His name is Jiro and the movie's called Jiro Dreams Of Sushi and if you haven't seen it, maybe I'll tweet and link it later. But Jiro Dreams Of Sushi is now an older guy. And he has two boys, two sons who help him in the restaurant.
And he is singularly focused on this almost insane level preparation and attention to detail that at first, the first half of the film, the documentary, I think this is insane. This sounds like some form of torture. And of course, they're cutting to his son and he's like, "My father wants us to massage the octopus for eight hours and he touches it and he's like, nope, keep massaging it, to break down its cell and it's structures so that it's not chewy and rubbery." And then you start to hear about the philosophy of this man. And his ambition in life is to be able to do something at the highest level for the longest amount of time. And to him, there's nobility in that and he wanted to do that.
So as I'm watching this, I'm swinging from the motion of like, I can't believe this, this is insane. Who would want to do this? I want to kill myself to, I have the utmost regard for this man for someone who wants to achieve such a high level. And then I learned a little bit about Japanese culture about this idea and this philosophy, which is very admirable about Japanese culture as far as I can tell as a foreigner is it's summed up in that tagline for Lexus, the "Relentless Pursuit of Perfection." And if you visit Japan, it seems like no matter how humble the task is from sweeping floors to washing dishes, they aspire to do it the very best that it could be done. And that reminds me of all these viral videos that surface on TikTok and Instagram and elsewhere, where we see someone making pizza boxes or shipping package out or cutting onions and their level, skill and craft is mind blowing.
And so I grow up in this country as a refugee with not a lot of material things. And I think the path forward is to just grind it out, to grit your teeth and get through it. So I'm of this other mindset, and I know this can be unsettling for some people, because it feels like I'm calling you out. I'm not, I'm just telling you what has worked for me, that it's supposed to be a difficult journey. The prize is sweeter because it's difficult. And if it's not difficult, I'm not sure it's worth having. That's just my opinion because it means everyone can attain this. It's like if you can put a penny inside a gumball machine and get a gumball out, how difficult was that? How rare and how scarce is that?
And I know as soon as I say this, there are people on the audience who are going to be thinking And I think this is why we want to have this discussion, potential debate, is the things that have worked in my life they were hard to get and I want them to be hard. That's my mindset. I want it to be hard. And so when I'm talking to people and this seems to be perhaps the kinds of people I attract into my life, and it could be guilty of having a very small data set, but to the T almost every single one of these people, my friends, I do consider them my friends, they seem to switch gears to changed lanes or to want to quit way before the quitting point. And even in the case of Mo, quitting while he's successful, which is insane to me. And I want to take a pause there to get your reflection on this.

Nidhi:

Well, I don't disagree with you at all that hard work is... I mean, I would be lying if I said that I didn't work extremely hard to be able to achieve some level of success. And it sounds like, of course I haven't heard so many of your stories, Chris. I mean, you really did the grind for a long time and sacrificed quite a bit to be able to build up your business. And so I don't disagree with you that there is a certain baseline amount of effort that's required to be an entrepreneur. And that there's a lot of hustle that goes into having a successful business and it can be draining and exhausting. And there's a lot of tasks that are unpleasant to do as an entrepreneur. I mean, I absolutely hate having to do the financial piece.
I'm a feeler, I'm really good at connecting with people. I'm great at being able to sell myself and sell my business but what I'm not so good at is crunching the numbers, looking at the bottom line, et cetera. And so those are the tasks that I like to avoid, but I've had to learn as an entrepreneur that's going to ultimately be the downfall of a business because if you don't know what's happening financially, even if you don't like that then you're completely out of touch with what's happening and how can you make decisions? So I concur with what you're saying. I think where it gets tricky is that of course as somebody who has an emphasis on mental health and wellbeing, I do see that there are limits.
And what I mean by this is that I do think that there are situations where it becomes unhealthy and I'm not opposed to the grind in the hustle, but I've personally experienced what it can be like when you push to the point of breaking. And I think that's kind of where I think our debate's going to come into play here because I'm of the mind that there is a limit to what I'm willing to do or accept. And it's not a matter in my eyes of giving up or not having grit. I instead view it as a healthy decision that as a business owner, I owe to myself because something wasn't sustainable. To be more specific, if something is toxic, or if you're burning out, those are all signals to maybe reflect on what you're doing in your business and that work life integration.

Chris:

Time for a quick break, but we'll be right back.

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Chris:

Welcome back to our conversation.
So there's a lot that we agree on that there's some dangers to the things that I'm saying, you're warning us all that there is this point in which you cross the chasm and you're heading into toxic self destructive behavior and to complete burnout and I could see that too. What is unclear, I think as each one of you are going through this and wondering what phase am I in? So I'd like to present this for discussion here. Imagine a timeline where there's an end point to each part of the line. So on the far left is what I would consider my son who's 15 years old right now. He's very much living in the now, he does what's pleasurable for him, he's not really thinking about long term future, and he's just having fun. How do I know this? Because at every opportunity to either to advance his skills and other things, he wants to play video games and he wants a daydream or chat with his friends.
I get it. I was a teenager too. That's just a natural part of growing up. And so if you want to be in that space, that's totally okay. I'm not here to judge you, but I have adult friends who are now in their forties and fifties who still operate under that mindset. It's fun, I'm going to keep doing this. And I jokingly refer to it as the Peter Pan syndrome. They really just don't want to grow up, still living in the now. And if they were to get hit by a truck tomorrow, they will have the last laugh because they lived life to the fullest, so ha ha to me, right? On the far right hand side, the end of that spectrum is this place where we're stuck in a toxic relationship and we might need you to define what that really means, because I don't want to use that word and assume we're all talking about the same thing, but the way I can see it is you're in an abusive relationship.
This could be with a partner, a spouse, and I'm talking about physical, mental, verbal abuse, and you need to get out. And this could also be done in the office space as many of you may have experienced this in your lives. When your employer, your boss, your manager is just playing mind games or is harassing you or is saying inappropriate things sexually, racial things, all kinds of inappropriate behavior. And it's just abusive and toxic. The toxic work environment. Here's where the concern comes in, is you as an entrepreneur, you as a person who's pursuing your craft are working along and you're feeling the grind and it's wearing you down. It's not fun to do.
And it feels like work and the allure and the promise of being an entrepreneur, being able to kick up your feet on the table and saying, "Hey minions, go do this. I'm going to go and play golf. I'm going to go fishing today." And that fantasy isn't lining up with reality and you tell yourself, this is no longer what I want. I'm approaching burnout. I want to switch there's greener pastures and you quit. Some people say there's a fine line between working through the problem and getting into that toxic place. To me, it's actually a pretty huge chasm and you'll know it when you're in that and you need to turn around, but maybe I don't have my mind correct on this. So Nidhi back over to you.

Nidhi:

Yeah. I mean, I think that one would think that the line is pretty distinct, but I think having lived through these types of toxic work situations myself, it can really be a slow build and one that makes you feel a bit helpless. And I think that people want to pivot away, I think sometimes definitely out of avoidance because it's the dip as you have talked about in previous calls. It's that period where the results are delayed. You're not getting the immediate gratification and all of that. But I think that when we're talking about the toxic relationship and this can be a business partner, a boss, whoever the case may be, that it ultimately, that feeling of being unsupported, misunderstood, demeaned, attacked all of those things. But when you mention the burnout piece, Chris I think that's clear cut in terms of the toxicity piece, but when it comes to the burnout, I think that's where it gets tricky because we have a grind culture where we really prioritize bottom line as a society over our wellbeing and self care.
And ultimately one impacts the other because if you are exhausted all the time, if you are what Nicoline has called "sleep drunk", you're making poor decisions and that exhaustion ultimately does affect the way that you run your business. And so I think this is where people get stuck in terms of man, am I overdoing it? Am I doing just enough? Am I in a place where I should scale back? Should I shift gears or is this healthy? And is that just the programming that we have from society that we have to work 50, 60 hours a week that we're responsive at the drop of a hat to whoever, to our clients that we have to hustle to be able to meet and accommodate everybody else as part of the business, but then ultimately you take the back seat. So I think that's where the line is a little bit thinner. Does that make sense?

Chris:

It does. It does.

Nidhi:

Yeah. So my thought is this, that I think that the line is when you start to see that it's all data, right? So when you start to see that you're burning out or you're feeling depleted the passion and the fulfillment, the cynicism is increasing, the passion is going down then that is perhaps a moment for reevaluation and the recalibration of your business. I don't necessarily know as an entrepreneur, if it warrants a full on change, because I think that you have to examine is there something that I can change in the way that I have set up my business and my time to become more efficient? Am I working smart or am I working hard in this situation? And I think that might be Chris, what you might be speaking about is people may not even take that moment to reevaluate what's going on in their business. They're immediately looking for the out.

Chris:

Okay. There's a couple of things that you just said there about working smart or working hard. I think you need to work hard and smart. And I do find this a lot, even in my conversation with Mo he'll say, "I need to optimize this." And I was like, "No, you're 18 months into your business. What is there to optimize? You're still figuring things out." And people who have heard me before know that I believe this and that people often say, I'm an innovative person. I run an innovative company. Well, part of innovation is a tremendous amount of inefficiency and sloppiness and messiness. And so entrepreneurs who go through this, they're looking at their business like I'm working too hard in my business, I need to work smarter. And so they're trying to automate everything. You haven't even figured out enough ways for things to go wrong, let alone the ways for it to go right, for you to be automating at this stage.
And I just feel like, I don't know if it's a generational thing or it's just a certain mindset is we feel entitled to results. We become impatient that everything's supposed to happen faster. I'm supposed to get my social media following up to a million overnight. What? I don't even understand that. And I start to reflect on my own life in almost everything that I have, that I care about, that I want, that I desire it was hard work. And I'm not talking about a month or 2 years even, I'm talking about multiple years. My relationship with my wife, even after we got married, there was that really difficult period. I think between years three and five for us where there were moments there, I didn't think we were going to make it. And we had to work through it. And I think if I was a different person, I'm like, huh, this is just too much work. Relationships are not supposed to be like this. I deserve better. It's supposed to be easier. I'm supposed to be having fun. I don't feel passionate in this relationship anymore and I would've just quit.
The relationship wasn't toxic. We just needed to learn how to work within one another and find our rhythms. I think about school, four years of my life, just grinding away at something in hopes of achieving something at the end. I think about diet, right? Right now I'm on a time restricted schedule of eating. Some people call it intermittent fasting, but I've been corrected about that where you don't eat for 16 hours. And I try to stay away from processed foods from sugar, from all kinds of stuff. I limit my red meat and it is hard, but I know that my body craves carbs and sugar, but you know what? That's not good for you. I look at exercise. I don't want to exercise either. I'd rather just sit under the couch and watch TV. And it goes on and on. Entrepreneurship, personal care, even this thing about self actualization, these things are hard. And I just think we, at least the people I know they just need to develop some grit. I don't know what other word to use there. Over to you Nidhi.

Nidhi:

It is grit. It is grit. And it's knowing that you're on the precipice of something, right? Because I think that right when you push past that discomfort in healthy situations. So in situations, once again, we're not referencing the toxic ones we just talked about a moment ago, but in situations where you've hit the dip and you're really considering the pivot. I really believe that if you push past that little bit of discomfort or that medium amount of discomfort right on the other side of that is really where all of your dreams start coming true. And I've experienced that too time and time again. I had to bridge my business and that I was seeing 35 clients in the group practice I was working for. And then on top of that, I was building and seeing 10, 12, 15 clients until I was able to transition to full time all on my own.
And it was absolutely the most exhausting, gut wrenching two years, but it allowed me to be able to lay the foundation down and have the security of knowing that when I go into the practice full time, and this goes for any entrepreneur, when you do that bridge, it's that reassurance that you've developed. But though that bridge can often be one of the most stressful periods of time. I know Chris, you also bridge too, right? You did the bridge from blind to the future. It's a hustle in a completely different way because you're essentially running two separate businesses at the exact same time and it's many hours put in.
But something that I wondered is, as you think back on that period of your life, where there was a sacrifice in your relationships and your wellbeing and the sleep and all of that, would you do it all over again? Or is there anything that you would do differently? Because I mean, I don't know that I would necessarily not work as hard, but I wonder if there were other ways for me to tackle it where perhaps the stress levels wouldn't have gotten the same way, or I don't know, just, I wonder if there was a better way for either of us to not feel that level of just exhausted and wanting to just having to push through day after day.

Chris:

Yeah. The old hypothetical, if you could do it all over again, would you do it differently? And that's a trick question by the way. And I like that question, and I'm going to give you the crazy answer to that question. Most people, when they're asked that question, if you could do it all over again, would you do it differently? And they reflect on their life and they say, well, I wouldn't be who I am today if I did it differently. So naturally you're going to want to say no, but then what is a point of history and life and wisdom, if you couldn't use the knowledge gain to go back and life hack your own thing again, because why study history then because we'll just fight the wars and keep killing each other because we'll never learn. So if I can go back in time, there are a couple things I would do differently.
I want to be able to gain the value of learning what hard work is and to be able to come out the dark moments of my life to come into the light, because then I know I can weather the storm and I have the tools and that roadmap to get myself out of there. But one thing I would tell myself is there are a couple of silly concepts about work and I'm going to focus in on work because that's kind of what we're talking about. Not just other lessons, because of course I've learned many things in the years I've been on earth. When it comes to work, I used to have a pretty antiquated idea that was very popular at that time that everything was supposed to be hard and you're supposed to sit there and you stare at that screen until a blood comes out of your skin.
Then you've done everything you can. And we get super obsessive about these granular details that in the big scheme of things really don't matter to anybody. They really don't. And so it used to be these things where I would work with my interns and we would sit there and work on these big projects and because of their inexperience, they lack process and they're still learning how to think and edit their own work. It would be something that we would quite literally sit there all night in the office and it'd be four o'clock in the morning and then it'd be five 30 and the sun would come up and it would hit my face and I'm feeling completely exhausted. And I could feel that kind of stress oil on my skin like, oh my God, it is so late. And there have been consequences to this.
I remember in school when I was going to art center, I had pulled multiple all-nighters almost every single semester up until about the end where I had a different attitude. And in those moments I literally had a waking dream hallucinating when I was driving. I remember driving down a stretch on Linda Vista towards art centers, hillside campus. And I remember the trees, the canopy of trees, because it's a very beautiful tree line street. They were like hands reaching out towards my car and I was freaking out. And then I'm like, oh my God, I have not had enough sleep. I am, what is it? Sleep drunk and I'm not thinking clearly. I have literally woken up driving on the opposite side of the road, that freaked me out. I was driving over to my friend's house to use their computer. So for sure there are consequences and I'm not quite sure how much of that impacts your long term health.
So what I'd like to do, if I could, I would teach myself, here's how you work. Here's a smarter way to work where you can achieve the same results and you could do this in a way that doesn't make you feel like you're compromising or you're giving in, you're just giving up. There are better smarter ways to work. And I've also seen people who didn't know how to pull back. And what happened was they worked at such an intense feverish pace and they worked for, I think I can say this abusive, toxic work environments where the running joke would be, "Don't bother coming in on Sunday, if you're not going to show up on Saturday," that was the work culture. And I could tell you horror stories of some of these office environments and it was destroying people's lives. And I saw one of my friends, his name is Ben.
One of the most talented animators ever worked with. And when I started working with him at the beginning of my career, he was amazing. The kinds of things he could do with animation were incredible. And just a few short years later, I would run into him. He was like 30, 40 pounds overweight, he had dark baggy puffy eyes and he was slow in processing and talking to me and I was like, "What is going on with you?" And it was just because the machine, the man if you will, ground him down to powder to dust and he didn't know enough to say, "No, that's enough, I can't do this." And so I look at that guy and I remember how full of life he was and the kind of spark and the way that his brain worked. It was so innovative with what he did.
And now he wasn't the same. And I cautioned young students when they get out of school, I say you're going to be driven to do the most incredible work of your life to work on these amazing accounts and I want to let you know, none of that work ever changes you. You can never hang your hat on one singular project and the world would now be at your feet. It doesn't work like that so think. It's not a five year career, it's a lifetime and you have a lifetime to work. So don't throw that away because if you don't five years in, you'll have nothing left and you'll sit here and you reflect on this moment and you'll wonder what happened to your career and your life.

Nidhi:

Exactly. And I think that's where a lot of people end up, that's the stuck point is that you push yourself beyond what is reasonable and your body will ultimately shut you down. If you don't start taking care of yourself, your body will force you into that. And so it's just at that risk. I think that where people get confused though, Chris is like, okay, so on the one hand, you're saying that the grind, the hours that you put in all of the time and effort and energy, that was what got you to this place. But then on the other hand, you're saying that perhaps I would do it a little bit differently and be able to optimize things such that it wasn't such a drain on me.
So if you were working smarter instead of harder, it sounds like in that situation, it would've perhaps reduced some of the burnout that you were experiencing. And I think that gets to the point of where people when they're in that pivot moment, that's perhaps the question to ask is, and that's kind of what I'm gleaning from this, is there a way for me to do this differently so I can continue to sustain myself? Because I think ultimately it's about how are we able to have a good and healthy combination between working hard to achieve our goals, but also ensuring that we have replenishment and fulfillment in other areas of our lives. So it's not to the detriment of all of our relationships and we throw everything away in the pursuit of one thing.

Chris:

A couple of simple things I would've told myself when I was 23 years old, when I started my company was, "Hey man all that junk food that you eat, literally Jack in the Box and the Taco Bells, you got to stop eating that. That's poison for your body. Let's move towards a healthier diet. And let's look at what we're putting into our body. And the next thing I would do is tell myself, you know what? It's not important to you right now, but you do need to exercise. You got to move your body and believe it or not, it'll give you more energy. It'll make you more alert and more focused when you're working. So those are two simple things I would've told myself and would probably change a lot of things.
I used to not believe this idea, because all my really healthy fit friends who had muscles everywhere were like, "Chris, you need to exercise." I'm like, "I don't know. I want to learn. I want to work on my craft. I want to read," right? So I'm going to be this bookworm. And they're like, "No, it'll give you more energy." And I thought that was a lie. I thought it was a lie to just get me into the gym. And until I started doing it, I started to realize, man, I'm older now, but I can work harder, longer, faster, and be smarter than I did back then. But I've also done something which I've learned to listen to my body. Have you ever sat in front of your computer when you're nodding off and you just told yourself, push through this, drink another cup of coffee, play louder on music and just push through.
So the new me would be like, "You know what? I am freaking tired. It's time. Shut this thing down." Whatever it is that somebody wants, they can wait till tomorrow. And if they can't wait, so be it. I'm not going to try to do this because it's really counterproductive at this point. No good idea comes out at this point and I'm going to make mistakes. I'm looking for files and I'm not firing at all cylinders. And it's taking me a really, really long time, just like, where is that file? And today when that happens to me, I'm done. I'm going to sleep. I'll wake up and I'll be refreshed and I'll work on it with fresh eyes. That's it.

Nidhi:

I'm so glad. Thank goodness otherwise I would be very concerned about you. Dude, you probably need to take a nap or something because yeah, it's just not healthy. And so I think this is a nice segue into the idea of the self sabotage because I think what happens is that we see these patterns, they're glaringly obvious. We've pushed ourselves beyond and yet we continue forth as if nothing is happening and we don't make changes. And we don't take this information and shift. And I wonder, and I honestly think that it's kind of a form of self sabotage. I think sometimes the pivot is a form of self sabotage too, when you're right at the precipice of success to move away can be self sabotaging because I wonder then what's the fear if you were to take that next step.
And I think for a lot of people, it's like what the expectations are, right? What it really means when you hit that next level in terms of how you're going to have to show up the effort you're going to have to put in. I think that can be scary for people. And so I think that might be why people self sabotage and they pull away. It's like as if they don't see that they have the parachute on their back man, that's the way I think about it. It's like you're running off of a cliff and you forget that you have the parachute, so you stop right at the edge, you don't let yourself go. But if you had just gone and deployed the parachute, you would've risen to heights that you could've never even imagined. So I don't know. What do you think about that, Chris? That this could be all part of that sabotaging behavior.

Chris:

Okay. I need to expand on this with you. If you can think about a creative person, what does self sabotage sound like?

Nidhi:

I mean, I think it can take a multitude of forms. From my perspective, when I think about it from like a mindset place, I think it's when we have, and we talked about this in that live Chris, about that extrinsic worth. So it's like the self sabotaging is buying into every success as like putting yourself on the pedestal but then every rejection is as if you are unworthy and a failure. And I think that's self sabotaging.

Chris:

I love hearing your perspective on this. So are you saying when you're emotionally swinging from that pendulum of self-love to self hate dependent on what others say, that's a form of self sabotage?

Nidhi:

So I think there's multiple layers here. Yes, I think it can be. I think because we're not addressing the underlying pattern, we are sabotaging ourselves from really living a fulfilled life because now we're riding the waves of every person's opinion of us and every success or failure instead of really believing and doing the work to see that, no, it has nothing to do with how other people respond to me. It has everything to do with who I believe I am and how I show up in the world. And so I think when we don't address the things that are obvious, and this is pulling that same thread through whether this is in terms of how you approach your business, your marketing, your sales, including your personal development, if you don't address the things that you can clearly see are getting in the way it's self sabotage.

Chris:

Okay. This is very fascinating, because that would not have made my top five lists of forms of self sabotage. So let me see if I'm thinking about this clearly, Nidhi?

Nidhi:

I think it's the therapist and me, Chris.

Chris:

And I love that part by the way. And it's the entrepreneur in me who's going to speak on something else, right? So I'm drawing on a composite of friends that I've spoken to, where they're in their business, they're having success. People recognize them for being able to do something really well. And prior to them having major breakthrough, they make up a reason and I can't figure to part out, they make up a reason why they don't want to do this anymore. And this is like tapping back into that whole are you quitting before you have success? And are you developing that resilience to push through the grind and the monotonous tedious work of running a business and getting good at something? Are you quitting there? And that's what it sounds like to me.
So let me pull out one example here, because I have so many friends, I think that self sabotage. So I have a friend he's a very talented, you could even say famous artist. And he works in pop culture and illustrations. And I tell him if you just continue doing this style that everyone loves, you'll have more money, success and fame than you would anything else. And he looks at me, he's like, "Yeah, but I don't want to do that." I'm like, "Why don't you want to do that?" And then he goes on to read me off a list of whole bunch of reasons that after he says that it's like, are those real reasons or are you trying to sabotage your own career right now? He goes, "Well, I want to do it my style." What does that even mean? So he does a different style that not that many people are connected to. And so I feel like you have gold, you toss the gold for something else because there's some internal story that you're telling yourself that you can't do this and you don't want to do this.
I think that's too abstract. Let me just make it about Mo because Mo was here several nights talking about stuff. So Mo is making micro social content, mostly videos for his clients. He's doing really well. He's actually made more money doing this than anything else he's done. And then he is like, I think I want to launch a course and do coaching. What? I joke with Mo I'm like Mo you're in the diamond mind and you pick up a chunk of diamond in a place and it's giving you results, but you're like, you know what, let me try and dig somewhere else. And that boggles my mind. No, just dig where you're finding success until you don't find success anymore. And he's like, oh, I don't know. It's kind of boring to do this. I'm not hitting the levels of success that I want. And this is very common. So I don't know how to describe that form of self sabotage, but that's the kind I see. What do you think about that, Nidhi?

Nidhi:

I think that is absolutely a way that it can show up because if we're jumping from one form of expression in business to another, just because we get bored, we're going to be switching careers every year, because the reality is when you do something for enough time, yeah I mean, eventually it becomes kind of your day in and day out, but you find ways to keep it interesting. So I know for me, I've done my mental health stuff for over 10 years now. And there are definitely days that it's monotonous that I'm like, I love my clients, but I'm like, oh, I'm just tired and I'm exhausted. But I find joy in continuing to learn or finding a new way to help somebody or helping to uncover something. I kind of almost look at it like a puzzle.
And I find a new piece to add into the puzzle that was perhaps missing before, but it's all within the same picture. I'm not changing the thing that I'm working on altogether and so I think that what you're getting at is being able to find the joy, even in the moments where things feel boring and monotonous, how do we still find the joy in what we're doing so that we stay the course? Because one of the things that we talked about Chris is that doing well tells you that the data is saying, stay the course. And so to pivot away when the data is showing that this is working for you, unless you're in that toxic situation, like we've talked about before, that makes sense. But if this is just a run of the mill situation and you're being successful, then you really do have to question and wonder about the data and okay, the data doesn't lie. So then how can I make myself feel fulfilled still, 10, 20, 30 years by doing this?

Chris:

Our friend [Annaleigh 00:54:40] she would say, "I don't want to do something if it doesn't give me joy." What about passion? You guys don't talk about passion. And then she entered this concept of if I do a job and I'm not getting joy, I don't care how much money they're paying me, I don't want to do that. And that to me brings up a lot of other questions, is that really what's happening here? Because to me, passion sounds like a feeling and professionals show up whether they feel like it or not. Professional writers write when they don't feel like they want to write, and they don't feel creative and designers do the same thing you show up and you do the work.
And so what does it mean that you don't want to do something if it doesn't give you joy? Is that a form of self sabotage? And I go back to this idea again, almost everything that made me uncomfortable doing, unless it was illegal or unethical, or it was to hurt someone else have actually led me to my biggest periods of growth, everything. I think on the other side of that discomfort is everything you want in your life. And so when people are like, oh, it's not bringing me joy, I'm not feeling it, I'm not passionate about this anymore. That sounds like self sabotaged to me. Help me out here, Nidhi?

Nidhi:

I think it absolutely can be for sure, because ultimately there's always going to be difficulties in any type of tasks that we're doing. Part of the entrepreneurial journey is accepting adversity as part of the landscape. And so we have to anticipate the fact that there will be challenging times and I get this because I've shared before I have ADHD. And I noticed that one of the things that happens with me in my own business is that I have to keep it fresh. I just have to. I do get bored, but I think I've learned ways to be able to stay the course and 10 years has been the longest I've ever done anything and I plan on continuing and finding other ways to keep it fresh. But the way that I do that is by finding a different way to apply my expertise that's not so far off from what I'm doing right now.
And I wonder if that could be helpful for people out there in the audience, sure, not everything is going to bring you joy, but let's also set ourselves up for success, right? By creating opportunities for us to continue doing things that do bring us enjoyment and understanding that's been a counterbalance, some of the difficult times that are inevitably going to come when you're running a business. And some of the really crappy times, some of the times that you feel really stressed out and I'm just tired of doing this, when you push past a lot of that, and you're still able despite that to find opportunities to enjoy what you're doing, you find opportunities to enjoy the suck, if you will. That's the grit that you were referencing.

Chris:

Yeah. Let me just talk about a couple things that I've gone through that I've seen, that I'd love your perspective on. I'm starting my company when I'm 23 years old, because there's an opportunity to do so. And I remember my former boss, even though I was just freelancing there, his name is Ian, we're friends, and Ian's like, "You're going to quit this job when we're talking about paying 80, $85,000 a year." Now, mind you, this is 1995, I'm 23 years old, that's a crazy amount of money for me. And I'm like, "Yeah, I'm going to start a company." And he's nodding okay, gives me a little kind of smirk. And I think he thinks, we'll see you when you fail. And there's always people who doubt you. And I go off, I start my company, I'm hitting all kinds of major roadblocks.
I don't know how to get work. I don't know how to talk to clients. And every time I do so we're invited to the party, but we're never chosen. And it's very demoralizing. And I try to tell myself a better story. And the story I tell myself is, well, at least you were considered against these companies that you have no right even being a part of the conversation. But I don't accept that. I don't want to give myself some consolation prize, oh most improved. I don't want that. And so I keep working on this and pitch after pitch, we're losing, Sun Microsystems? Great job, lost that job. Janus micro funds, or Janus funds? Lost that job. Job after job. Nissan? Lost that job. And I'm just looking at the budgets for these things, just slipping through my fingers, like sand and all kinds of self doubt, what is wrong with me?
Can I do this? You know what? Maybe I just need to go need to go to work for those people. And they did offer me jobs. So I'm like, oh, that's easier path, job after job. I got to tell you probably that first two years conservatively, maybe over a million dollars of business just lost and not because I wasn't good, I didn't even know how to play the game. It's like, we're playing baseball and I'm kicking the ball like soccer. That's how bad it was. And I keep telling myself, what do I need to do? I call people, I ask people for help. Most of them laughed at me because they were competitors. Why would we teach you this stuff? Get out of here. Could you just show me your pitch book? No. Called my friends who were directors, who some of them gave me really bad advice.
I tried it and it was terrible. And so I'm going through all this and I'm literally making commercials for $500, not a day, the whole commercial budget's 500 bucks. And so it's the grind. And I've told this story before, I literally slept on the floor, tile floor next to the computers as they're rendering because if they crash, which was often the case back in the '90s, I would miss the deadline. So I'd set an alarm every 30 minutes, wake up, check the renders, wake up the computer, check it, each and every single one of them in that sleep drunk state, but I didn't quit. The reward was not there. But to this comment about joy and passion and all that kind of stuff, the joy is there. It's just, it's not in sight right now.

Greg:

Thanks for joining us this time. If you haven't already subscribe to our show on your favorite podcasting app and get a new insightful episode from us every week. The Futur podcast is hosted by Chris Do and produced by me, Greg Gunn. Thank you to Anthony Barrow for editing and mixing this episode and thank you to Adam Sanborne for our intro music.


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