The Lessons, Mindsets,
and Habits of the Most
Ep. 167 with Alan Stein, Jr.
“The best of the best always look at themselves as a work in progress and as an unfinished product.”
Alan Stein, Jr.
Alan Stein, Jr. is an experienced keynote speaker and author. At his core, he’s a performance coach with a passion for helping others change behaviors. He spent 15+ years working with the highest performing basketball players on the planet (including NBA superstars Kevin Durant, Steph Curry, and Kobe Bryant). Through his customized programs, he transfers his unique expertise to maximize both individual and organizational performance.
Alan is a dynamic storyteller who delivers practical, actionable lessons that can be implemented immediately. He teaches proven principles on how to utilize the same approaches in business that elite athletes use to perform at a world-class level.
His previous clients include American Express, Pepsi, Sabra, Starbucks, Charles Schwab, and Penn State Football, and many more.
The strategies from Alan’s book, Raise Your Game: High Performance Secrets from the Best of the Best, are implemented by both corporate and sports teams around world.
How can we have more impactful conversations with our health care providers? How can we confidently leave each appointment without fear or anxiety? It all comes down to the bedrock of self-care, advocating well for ourselves and our loved ones.
If you have any comments or questions about the Be It pod shoot us a message at [email protected]. Or leave a comment below!
And as always, if you’re enjoying the show please share it with someone who you think would enjoy it as well. It is your continued support that will help us continue to help others. Thank you so much! Never miss another show by subscribing at LesleyLogan.co/subscribe.
In this episode you will learn about:
- How you beat burnout.
- The trends of high performers
- Justification for why perfect is unattainable
- Where does confidence come from?
- What’s your default reaction when you make a bad decision?
- Why your self-narrative is so important
- The reason you feel apathy
- Website: https://alansteinjr.com/
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/alansteinjr/
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/AlanSteinJr
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AlanLSteinJr
- Raise Your Game hardback book: https://amzn.to/3W0WVQz
- Sustain Your Game hardback book: https://amzn.to/3UGBCD2
Hi, Be It babe. How are you? Well, today’s guest is phenomenal. He’s amazing. I’m obsessed. You’ve probably even heard me talk about him on the pod already, because I’m so excited to get him on. And his name is Alan Stein, Jr. You’re gonna love him. Take out your notebook, just like get it out. And then also, like, if you got audible if you’ve got like, if you got some local bookstore that you love to support, then you’re gonna want to grab his books. He’s got two of them, Raise Your Game and Sustain Your Game. And I have listened to Sustain Your Game two times on Audible. I love it. There’s so many nuggets in there. And I just, I can’t wait for you to hear this because one, he is he is someone who had this incredible dream, and then changed his careers. And then he changed his career again, and now he’s speaking and he’s sharing his stories and he’s sharing his his lessons that he’s learned from being a coach of basketball players to how we can apply these to your lives. And if you’re like, “Oh my god, Lesley, really basketball.” Don’t worry. You’re not going to have to know anything technical about basketball to get all the frickin nuggets that Alan has for you in this podcast, and the BE IT action items. I know I say this every episode, but I mean it like I can’t, I can’t wait to do one of them. Like I haven’t heard this one before. And I’m like, “Oh, homework for Lesley tonight. It’s happening.” So I’m gonna want to hear how you use these BE IT action items in your life. And so definitely make sure you tag us, tag Alan Stein, Jr. Let us know share this with a friend and let’s just get into it. Here’s Alan Stein, Jr.
Welcome to the Be It Till You See It podcast where we talk about taking messy action, knowing that perfect is boring. I’m Lesley Logan, Pilates instructor and fitness business coach. I’ve trained thousands of people around the world and the number one thing I see stopping people from achieving anything is self doubt. My friends, action brings clarity and it’s the antidote to fear. Each week, my guests will bring Bold, Executable, Intrinsic and Targeted steps that you can use to put yourself first and Be It Till You See It. It’s a practice, not a perfect. Let’s get started.
All right, Be It babe. I’m super stoked. I’m I’m actually more excited than I probably been, for guests, I’m so sorry to my other guests listening. But seriously, I’ve wanted this man on our podcast for a long time. I heard him somewhere else. Read his book. Read it twice. There’s a whole be it till you see it chapter in there. So I was like, “This man has to be on.” Alan Stein, Jr., thank you so much for being here. Can you tell everyone, who you are and why you rock so much?
Alan Stein, Jr.
Oh, my goodness. Well, I’m so excited to chat with you. I think we’ll have a fun conversation. Professionally speaking, I’m a keynote speaker and author and a former basketball performance coach. I’m also a very amicably divorced and proud father of three kids. I have a 12 year old twin sons and a 10 year old daughter, and happy to expand on any of that that you’d like me to. (Lesley: You’ve twins?) I do. Yeah, twin boys. They’re in seventh grade. And they are a handful. A good handful. They’re great kids. But yeah, twin boys can give me two tornadoes.
Yeah. So, well thank you for sharing all of that. I so one of the things that I thought was super cool, and I’m sure you talk about this all the time, but you were an NBA performance basketball coach and like what, how did you? Like is that something you always grew up thinking you wanted to do? Like, what was, what was the process getting getting from like maybe playing basketball to coaching it?
Alan Stein, Jr.
Well, well, basketball was my first love. And I fell in love with the game at five years old. And I’m so grateful that here four decades later, basketball is still a major pillar of my life and, you know, falling in love with the game. So early, I spent the first portion of my life as a very dedicated player, was able to play up through the collegiate level. I played at Elon University in the mid 90s. And while I was at Elon, I started to develop an equal love for what we now call performance training. Back then it was basically strength and conditioning and running and jumping and lifting weights and mindset and nutrition. So when I graduated in the late 90s, I figured what could be better than combining my original love of basketball with this newfound love of performance training, and I became a basketball performance coach, and most of my work specialized at the youth and high school level, because that’s where I felt I could make the biggest impact. And I took a lot of pride in being a role model off the court for the players I was working with. But I had an opportunity to work at two different high schools here in the Washington DC area, which is where I grew up and where I currently live, that have produced over a dozen players that are currently in the NBA, Kevin Durant being the most notable. So they weren’t, they weren’t normal high schools and having that opportunity to work with such elite level prospects. That got me on the radar of Nike and Jordan brand and USA basketball. And then I started working events for them and had a chance to be a part of events for Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Steve Nash, like it was a pretty incredible list. So I’ve gotten to see both sides, you know, what it takes for a young up and comer to climb that proverbial mountain, and then what it takes for someone who reaches that peak, what they need to do to stay there and sustain excellence, but also have immense fulfillment in the process. So I’ve had a really unique journey. And then lastly, five years ago, I decided to leave the basketball training space to take all of these lessons and strategies and mindsets that I’d learned from such great players. And I show folks how to apply those to their lives, in their business as keynote speaker and author.
That’d be a really big decision, though. Because like that four decades, in one career, you know, and around around a thing, like and then to go, “Yeah, I’m gonna like, I’m gonna close the door on that.” Like, what what? Was there a fear around that? Was it like exciting? Did it did it? Did it feel easy? How did you get your brain to go? “Yeah, that’s going to be a that’s going to be a path for me that I can see myself going through.”
Alan Stein, Jr.
One of the most important topics that I talked about in my most recent book, Sustain Your Game is how to beat burnout. And one thing I say is of the stuff I share on stage and the stuff I share on page, I’m not coming from a place of mastery, you know, I basically write the books that I need to read myself and, and the reason for that section on burnout is I’ve experienced burnout twice in my career so far. And, and one of them was five years ago, when I made this pivot, I found myself getting burnt out on basketball specific training and strength and conditioning. I found myself getting burnt out on pouring into 15 16 17 year old basketball players. Now, that was my favorite thing in the world to do for the 20 years that I did it. And I loved it. I mean, immeasurably. And I took a lot of pride in it. But when I started to see my flame was starting to flicker and eventually almost extinguished, I knew I had to make a change. I have so much respect and reverence for the game of basketball. And for players and coaches, I knew that was not the type of vocation that you can just mail it in, that you just go through the motions, you know, I’m there to pour my heart and soul into young people. And when I found that, that was no longer filling my cup, and was no longer fascinating me, I knew I had to do something different. So that was why I made the pivot. And when I made the pivot to do keynote, speaking and writing, it actually relight my flame. I was I was so excited. I mean, I, I was very thankful for the career that I have had. And I wouldn’t trade any of those moments for anything, but it really got me excited to try something different and and I’m still so connected to the game of basketball, because most of the stories and lessons that I share from stage are the lessons that I learned from the game. So while I’m not training players anymore, I still feel so connected to the game.
Yeah, yeah, I love that you brought up burnout because I feel like, I feel like that’s a thing that a lot of people are going through and you wrote in your book like burnout as the having too much of too little. And like I found that to be so interesting. I have a lot of people listening to this, their fitness instructors and oftentimes there’s like, oh if I need to make more money than I need to just teach more clients but then it’s like too much work have too little time like like there’s just not that’s not actually sustainable. And I think it’s also what can cause the flame of whatever you love doing to dwindle if you’re just if you’re if you’re doing that that too muchness. How how did you? You said, you said twice in your career. How did you solve it the first time? Because you didn’t pivot then, you kind of stuck with it, I’m assuming.
Alan Stein, Jr.
Yeah, so the first time was as beginning, my sophomore year in college, I started to get burnt out on playing the game of basketball. I started to feel like it was more of a job instead of something that I had always loved to do. And part of that was because I wasn’t playing very much in college. And, and I can say this with a huge smile and a ton of self compassion and forgiveness. I had a bad attitude at that age, you know, I, I did a lot of blaming, complaining and making excuses for why I wasn’t playing. And I allowed it to kind of suck the love of the game out of me. And, you know, as a sophomore in college, you know, I wanted to be in a fraternity, I kind of wanted to chase girls, I wanted to party, I wanted to do a lot of things that were really taking me away from this, this core love of basketball. And, you know, the remaining part of college, I can say openly, I really was was getting tired of the game. And it wasn’t until I found this love of performance training, that I was able to kind of flip the switch and basically transition from being a basketball player, which I just wasn’t enjoying anymore, to then becoming a basketball performance coach and pouring into and serving others that completely re lit my fire. And, you know, a big antidote for something, when we find ourselves kind of woe is me and in our feelings and feeling a little down or lousy, one of the best ways to get out of that funk is to serve others is to, you know, make it not about you, but make it about someone else. So for me, the remedy for that in college was to shift off of being a player to being a coach. And then when that happened recently, it was to shift from being a basketball trainer to being a keynote speaker. So these are just pivots that I made in order to get that fire back.
Yeah, yeah, I think that’s, that is really my, my brother was a college football player. And then he got injured out and, and he was so bummed because he wasn’t, it wasn’t his time, right. Like, that was like, not the plan. And but I saw a different light in him when he became a football coach, like he like, and so he did that for the college level for years. And it’s and that’s, that’s an interesting thing, I think we can say, see something as like an injury being a bad thing or like a burnout being a bad thing. But it actually kind of puts you on the path of like, the next thing for you. And so, so that’s really cool. You mentioned earlier that you got to see these players, and what it took to get, you know, from that high school level to like college and beyond. I’m wondering as you look back, because I don’t know that you could make that, you know, psychic decision back then when they were in high school. Were there things that you saw different players doing that you’re like, yeah, that that they were like that made it to the NBA and made it beyond the high school level? And the rest of their, was their behaviors that people were like, kind of like maybe you like had that negative attitude or, you know, party and stuff? Was there something that made those people stand out and make it all the way?
Alan Stein, Jr.
Absolutely, and you are a completely, it was incredibly insightful to realize, I didn’t know that at the time. This is the gift of hindsight, looking back, and kind of connecting the dots. And, you know, there’s probably about a dozen traits that I think high performers in any area of life, whether it’s basketball, business, or anything in between, I’ve noticed some trends. And I’m gonna highlight three of them for you and looking back at these things. And the first is they have a respect and appreciation for the basics. Like they embrace the fundamentals, they recognize that the fundamentals are the foundation to which everything else is built. And if you can work towards relentlessly work towards mastery of the fundamentals, especially during the unseen hours, you give yourself a chance to be pretty successful. And it doesn’t mean that you don’t also do more advanced techniques or try some more advanced things. It just means you never leave the basics of the fundamentals, because they create that foundation. And and anytime I would meet a young player that was trying to skip steps or thought the fundamentals were beneath them, or thought it was more important to be flashy, and to be sexy on the court. Instead of being good and being sound, those players rarely made it to the next level. The second is, and once again, I’m referring to players, but this is applicable to all of us. (Lesley: Yeah) The second is they were able to blend confidence with humility in a very masterful way. They earned the right to be confident because they put in the work during the unseen hours and they put in the repetitions to earn the right to be good at their craft. But they always blended that with a stroke of humility, which is what kept them open to feedback, which is what allowed them to be coached and most importantly, allowed them to remember that no matter how good they were, they could still get better. You know the best of the best always look at themselves as a work in progress and as an unfinished product. You know, that no elite performer that I’ve ever met will allow you to put them under museum glass, you know, for everyone to look at, they’re like, “I’m not done yet.” And, you know, you can look at that with elite level athletes and celebrities and performers and actors and musicians and business, you know, titans in the world today, they know that they still have further to go. So blending that confidence with humility is another trait. And then the third one is the most successful people I’ve ever been around. And the players that were able to ascend to the top, were very process focused. Now, they had tremendous clarity on their Northstar. And these young players, I mean, they were crystal clear on the fact, they wanted to become NBA players. That was their goal. But they didn’t focus on the goal as much as they focused on the process, and the steps and the disciplines and the decisions and the micro behaviors and the daily choices and the habits that would allow them to reach that goal. So they focus on the process and then the goal becomes a byproduct of that. And, and of course, it needs to be said that when we’re talking about professional sports, certainly there is a physicality component to that, you know, if your goal is to play in the NBA, it’s, it’s probably in your best interest not to be four foot three, you know, I mean, there’s, there are certain there are certain genetic predispositions from a physicality standpoint, that will enable you to do that. And of course, those players had the physical gifts, they check that box. But there’s a lot of players that can check that box that don’t check the other boxes, and then never make it. And the reason I love our business and life discussions, is you can be four foot three and still be an incredible business person or an executive or sales professional or podcast host or mom or dad fill in the blank, the physicality no longer becomes a prerequisite when you step outside of the arena of athletics.
Yeah, I love all three of those things. Because as you’re saying them I’m a Pilates instructor. I’m second generation and what that just means that my teacher was taught by Joseph Pilates. And what I tell people who want to work with me all the time, I’m like, you have like, you have to do work on the foundations, and you’re only advanced, if the beginner exercises are hard for you. And if they’re not hard for you, then it doesn’t I the advanced stuff is just compound choreography, I’m just taking the beginning stuff and putting them all together. So it’s, that’s not the hard part. The hard part is like being okay with understanding the foundations and sticking with that, and also not being perfect. You know, I was teaching a teacher and I gave her some feedback and it frustrated her and I just said, “Well, I’m always gonna have feedback for you because we’re not they’re not, there’s no way to be perfect at this. This is this is like not in a depressing way. But there’s a no top to this mountain. Like we there’s always a new day, and especially with stuff that has to do with your body. Your body is different every single day. So it’s not like this one and done like tomorrow, maybe you slept wrong on that side. Or maybe, maybe you actually are stronger. And so now you can go further.” So I really, everything you said applies to like, how I teach, but also like how I see the way that you can approach life. Like if you’re if you’re not allowing some feedback on the things that you are wanting in yourself, it’s going to be pretty hard to get somewhere.
Alan Stein, Jr.
Absolutely. One of the biggest shifts they ever made was to start viewing feedback as a gift and saying, “Wow, this person cares enough about me to share with me things that I can do to get better. You know, this person cares enough about me to help expose some of my blind spots. You know, this person cares enough about me to hold me accountable to a very high standard of excellence.” And as soon as I shifted from making that feel like, you know, I was being punished, but instead I was being handed a gift that changed everything. And that’s also how I tried to position feedback. You know, when I have to give feedback, whether it’s to someone in the work environment or to my own children, I remind them, “Hey, I’m doing this because I love you. You know, the day that I stopped holding you accountable. The day that I stopped pouring into you. And the day that I stopped giving you feedback means I no longer care about you or your future. That’s when you need to get upset, not when someone actually cares enough to offer you the constructive feedback that that allows all of us to get better.”
Oh my God, that’s so good. That’s so good. Okay, so I want to talk about perfectionism. Because I imagine that in sports, and you’ve seen a lot of people who are trying to go from being perfect, and obviously those people listening, I’m a recovering perfectionist, and overachiever. We have a lot of perfectionist who listen to this. How do you see that keeping people from, you know, getting what they want? Like, what did you see, how did that maybe affect you? Or how did it affect the players that you’ve coached?
Alan Stein, Jr.
I’ll speak from the first person because I’m I’m also a recovering perfectionist. So I’m not saying this to project on to anybody else. And I’m certainly not saying this with an ounce of judgment. I think my deepest insecurity that I have and something that I’ll wrestle with for my entire life, is that that I’m not worthy, that I’m not good enough. And I think perfectionism was an unconscious way to compensate for that, that in my mind, if I could do something perfectly, or if I could be perfect, then I wouldn’t be worthy of love or affection or attention or achievement. I mean, fill in, fill in the blank. But it doesn’t quite work that way. Because you said something perfect that you said something before that’s really insightful. And that is perfection is unattainable. Life is not a perfect game. You know, Pilates is not a perfect craft. Basketball is not a perfect game. In the history of the game, every single game of basketball that has ever been played at every level, anywhere in the world, there has never been a perfect game played. A perfect game with mean zero miss shots, zero turnovers and zero fouls. No one made a single mistake over the course of the game that has never happened, not even at the professional levels. So perfection is unattainable. So if we think that we’re going to derive worthiness, buy something that is unattainable, we’ve just put ourselves on a hedonic treadmill that we can never get off of, and will never actually have a sense of fulfillment. So as a recovering perfectionist, I’ve learned to accept the fact that I have flaws, that I am fallible, that I’m going to make mistakes, I’m going to have boneheaded decisions, there are going to be days where I wake up, and I’m just in a funk or I’m feeling lousy. And the other shift that I made similar to what I said before, is I now give myself permission to feel those things and to do those things. I give myself the space to be less than perfect, which is good, because that’s the only thing I can do, because I’m not perfect, and I never will be. So I’ve learned to embrace that and lean into it. And for me, I focused much more on giving my best effort on having my best attitude, on trying to be kind and be of service when I can put my my faculties into those areas, then I’m going to do the best I can with what I have, wherever I am. And to me, that’s now my measuring stick, “Am I doing the best I can with what I have, wherever I am.” And that’s what’s most important at present.
And also that’s something you can like live with, like just going back to basketball. We go to the WNBA. I live in Las Vegas, so Aces, love them. They’re amazing. They won this year. Fabulous. Anyways, last year I was with my dad he was a basketball coach for when I played which probably my listeners was never heard that I’ve done sports. Yes, I have. I, I was on an undefeated basketball team. And then I probably quit too soon to be completely honest, I probably could have given that sport a little longer. However, this girl I can’t remember her name. She retired last year, but she’s she literally did not foul like she was standing there. And the the girl from other team like hit her after coming out in the basket. And it was like a foul, each time. And I’m like, I know this game. That was she did everything perfectly right. So you can be perfect. And someone else doesn’t think it was perfect. Like for that official that was not a perfect move that she did, even though like from where I was sitting it was. And so I think like, perfection just gets to be this crazy thing. Because even when you do what you think is the most perfect thing in that moment, someone else is going to find imperfection in it.
Alan Stein, Jr.
Oh, absolutely. And then what we end up doing is playing the comparison game, which is a really dangerous game to play. You know, as as a keynote speaker, which is my prime primary vocation at present. I mean, even the times where I’ve gotten off stage, and I felt to myself, like I nailed it. That was one of my best performances. Even when the audience agrees, you know, you see a lot of heads nodding, a lot of smiles, maybe even a standing ovation. Even in that instance, if I go back and watch the video of that keynote, I can still find a couple of things that I could have done just a little bit better. You know, maybe it was a little bit of timing or pace, or maybe I could have made a better gesture with my hands. Or maybe I forgot to make a point that I could have made. So even that is an imperfect game. But I lean into that. And that’s what I enjoy is, is the challenge of it. So for me, and I know this has become somewhat of a cliche statement. I don’t allow myself to get stifled by perfection. I allow myself to be inspired by progress. And as long as I’m slowly getting better, you know, can I be a better father in 2023 than I was in 2022? Can I be a more effective communicator and keynote speaker in 2023 than 2022? Can I take my my mental, physical and emotional health to a slightly higher level in 2023, then that’s my goal is progress. You know, once again, by the end of 2023, I won’t be perfect in any area of my life. But can I be a little bit better than I was? I saw this slogan. This was I mean, probably 15 years ago, Apollo Ohno, the famous the famous skater (Lesley: Yeah) had this thing where he said, “Be greater than yesterday.” And it was the word b e and then it was the greater sign like we used to use in math yesterday. So, “Be > yesterday.” And boy, that just really resonated with me. And that’s kind of the goal every day. Can I make slightly better decisions and have slightly better habits this month than I did last month?
Okay, so total sidenote, I used to live in LA, and there was the stairs. And oh my gosh, these stairs like there’s these famous stairs that people go and do. And they’re cement stairs. And then there’s wood stairs. And by the time you go from the bottom to the top, it’s like five or six storeys, and the cement stairs are like little steps. And you just have to like, either go two or three at a time, or you’re just doing lots of little steps, right? And then there’s these wood steps and I was do… I was not doing well, that day, I’d been training, I did too much training that day, and I was watching this guy go up the stairs on the wood side two at a time. So these are big gaps are huge. It’s like basically leaping on one leg all the way up. And then he ran down. And then he did the other side. And I was like, “Who is this dude?” Like, what are we doing? We’re just all trying to get to the top of the stairs, like what is happening? And then I looked at his face, and it was Apollo Ohno I was like, okay, fair, (Alan: Wow) I don’t I’m talking about comparison. I’m not comparing my trying to get up the stairs to that guy. We are on two different athletic levels. And we have two different goals here today.
Alan Stein, Jr.
Oh wow, that is that is so cool. And, you know, it is a good reminder. Why don’t we pull on that thread a little bit of the comparison game, because, you know, that’s another shift that I’ve made in my life. Because there have been times previously where I absolutely was caught on the comparison trap. And it always left me feeling hollow and shallow and never felt like I was enough. And the reason that comparison game is so difficult is because you can’t win it. And why sign up to play a game that you literally have zero chance to win. I mean, no matter who you are, you can find someone that’s doing better than you in a certain area of life. Like it’s not that hard. I mean, I I could walk outside my place right now. And within five seconds, I can find somebody that’s taller, that’s better looking, that’s funnier, that makes more money, that has more Instagram followers, that gets paid. Like, it’s easy to do. So what I’ve tried to do is untether from the external and not derived my self worth, my self belief and my confidence from external metrics, but instead try to be much more intrinsically motivated. And just know that when it comes to the comparison game, and if we’re looking at external metrics, yeah, there’s a lot of people doing better me better than me in a lot of areas. And I’m probably doing better than some other people in some other areas. But it doesn’t matter. You know, there’s no reason to try to keep score with any of that stuff. And, you know, even take something like since since basketball is my passion, you know, LeBron James, a once in a generation athlete, but the king of the NBA for 20 years. And even he can’t escape. People that compare him to Michael Jordan and say, “Oh, well, Jordan was better.” You know, I mean, you know, Jeff, Jeff Bezos is, is an absolutely game changing entrepreneur, Amazon has changed the way we look at E commerce. And I think at the time of this recording, he’s not even the richest man on the planet, because I think Elon Musk is overtaking him. So here’s somebody that has changed the way we interact as human beings. And he’s not technically the best if you’re going to look at that metric of wealth.
And also like at the time of recording this, yes and who knows, by the time this comes out. They could there’s because those two and then like, there’s a third guy, they’re always like, just, you know, leapfrogging each other and so I you’re correct, like that comparison game. I love the reminder, we can’t win it. So it’s like, why play? Why not just focus on yourself? And, and you mentioned something in your book, that confidence comes from ourselves. Can you kind of, can you chat a little bit about that? Because you brought up confidence. And that is one of the reasons podcast exists is everyone’s like, “How are you so confident?” I’m like, “I’m so fucking scared most of the time.” I’m just like, “… let’s just, let’s just, this is action brings clarity, it’s antidote to fear. Let’s just try it.” But like, what, what what how did we how do we get confident? Like, where does it come from?
Alan Stein, Jr.
There’s a handful of things that I think contribute to our confidence. And once again, I’m only going to speak to the first person and things that have helped me. First, it comes from demonstrated performance, it comes from competence, you know, when when you do something over and over, and you see that you can do it, you start to derive some confidence in your ability to do that. Now, in fairness, that type of confidence is is somewhat compartmentalized, you know, you might put a whole lot of time and attention into becoming a really good Pilates instructor. That doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to be confident in every other area of your life. But you’ll be a very confident Pilates instructor. So it comes from demonstrated performance. It also comes from keeping the promises that we make to ourselves, like keeping our word. You know, if I tell myself that I’m going to get up every morning and go work out. As soon as I don’t do that. I’ve broken my word and my promise and my commitment to myself, and that’s going to undermine my confidence. Now, whether or not these are world class workouts, whether or not I do them at five in the morning. All of that’s irrelevant. But if I promised myself I’m going to work out in the morning, and I do if I can start to string several of those days together, it starts to snowball and it starts to add to my confidence. Confidence also comes from the little voice in our head, in our self narrative, our self talk. And we have to be very careful about how we talk to ourselves. I think I can make a compelling argument that the things we say to ourselves in silence might be the most important things we ever say. And we have to make sure that we talk to ourselves in a kind, compassionate, encouraging way, you know, many high performers that I’ve been around, and I was guilty of this as well, can be very self critical, very self judgmental, when things aren’t going well, we can pile it on, instead of giving ourselves some space and some grace to simply know that we’re doing the best that we can. And and I found that when we do these things, and and then part of it, too, is not playing the comparison game. So there’s three things you can do. And then if you can resist the temptation to play the comparison game, because that will zap your confidence too. You know, I mean, once again, I’m a keynote speaker, I take a tremendous amount of pride in my craft, I love what I do. I know dozens and dozens of speakers that are on bigger stages that I am, that command bigger fees, that have bigger followings, that have spoken to bigger brands. And I cheer for them. I’m happy for them. I hope that I can work on my craft to the point that that I earned an opportunity to do some of those things. But I don’t compare myself to them. Because it will leave me feeling less than and that would undermine my confidence.
Yeah. So yes, all those things you brought up like, though, like you said, the workout doesn’t have to be like a 5am, doesn’t have to be like the world class workout. It’s just that you did it. Like that’s a confidence bucket. And so I study with BJ Fogg who, Tiny Habits, right. And it’s like, you don’t have to go big or go home, y’all like your workout can be five jumping jacks in your living room. Like that could be the like, that could be it. You know what I mean, like, there’s, I’m working on my pull up game just dropped drastically after the pandemic, when I’d have access to … moved to Vegas, I didn’t have anything. And so I’ve been getting on my Cadillac and going over to do every day, it’s just hanging here and try to hold on without our … That’s all we’re gonna do it, we’re not going to try to pull up anything. And so then when I went to the gym last week, and the trainer said, we’re gonna do five pull ups, and I could use a Thera-Band, whatever. I was, like, oh, yeah, I can, I can do that. Because I have been showing up every day and just holding on to the bars, making sure that I have the grip strength for it and I think we tend to think that if it’s not world class, if it’s not something you’d share with your friends, which is just another version of comparison, you know, it’s not worthy. And actually, those are the things that helped build the most confidence. It’s like just the fact that you got there that day, because you said you would.
Alan Stein, Jr.
Absolutely. I love that, you’re basically talking about making small incremental gains over time. You know, one of the analogies I use when it comes to outcome versus process, is if you ever were tasked to build a brick wall, don’t really worry about the wall, just focus on laying bricks with as much care and precision as you can. And if you take a brick, and you set it exactly where it needs to go, and then you take another brick, and you set it exactly where it needs to go. If you do that enough times the wall will just take care of itself. And there gonna be some days in our lives where we only lay one or two bricks, and then there’ll be some days in our lives where we’ll lay 150 bricks, you know, but every single brick takes you a little bit closer to completing that sound, sturdy wall. So every brick matters. And when we can learn to focus on the reps, focus on the bricks, saying, you know, today I’m tired, I’m a little off my game, I’m feeling lousy, you know, maybe I need a day off, and I’m not gonna lay any bricks today. That’s okay, we we need some space to do that. But if I am going to lay some bricks, maybe it’s only a couple of them. But I’m going to lay them with as much care and precision as I can. Because if you start just laying sloppy bricks, and you just start kind of throwing them up, you just end up with a pile of bricks, you don’t end up with a sound sturdy wall. So we the care and the precision. And the quality is always more important than the quantity or the speed when it comes to most things in life.
Yeah, yeah. Oh, my goodness, this is like, I think, I think one of the things that I’m hearing from all of us, it’s also just the grace that we can give ourselves the kindness. And you said it, you said, the things we say to ourselves and ones listening might be the most important things we say. And it’s so true, because you can lay the bricks every day. And then when no one’s around, tell yourself something horrible and remove everything you built from the bricks that day.
Alan Stein, Jr.
Yeah. Well, you know, it’s interesting when when we don’t perform well, or we don’t show up as our best selves, or we make a poor decision. The only way to make that worse is the pile on shame and guilt and criticism. And that tends to be the default for most people. So it’s like, Okay, I just made a bad decision, or I made a bad choice. Or I said something I wish I wouldn’t have said or, or I laid a few sloppy bricks. Well, that’s now in the past. There’s nothing I can do about that. And I can make it worse exponentially worse by then being very critical and beating myself up and you know that what we need to learn to do and this is something I work on all of the time with my self, is learned to speak to ourselves with the same kindness, compassion and empathy that we would speak to a loved one. You know, I know you and I are just meeting and just getting acquainted, but let’s just say we’ve been friends for a decade. And if, if you called me up tonight and said, “Man, Alan, I just had a rough day. You know, this went wrong, this went wrong. I said this, and I shouldn’t have. I didn’t show up as my best self.” You know, the first thing I would do as your friend would be to try to comfort you and just say, “Hey, I know what it’s like to be a little off your game. I’m sorry that things didn’t really line up in your preferred manner today. But I believe in you. And I know you’re good enough to learn from this, and I have a feeling tomorrow is going to be a better day.” I would still hold you accountable. You know, if you did something that warranted an apology, or needed to make amends, then I would encourage you to do that. This is not about you know, condoning less than exemplary behavior or less than ideal standards. But my natural inclination would be to comfort you as your friend, my natural inclination as a father is to comfort my children when things are tough. It would not be to be critical. If you called me up and said that the last thing I would do would be to start berating you and make you feel worse and try and guilt you and shame. You know. (Lesley: Could you imagine?) But that’s how we talk to ourselves. (Lesley: Yeah.) So so if we can learn to talk to ourselves the same way we talk to those that we love, I think that’s better. And again, I want to stress the fact this is not about saying, doing something bad is okay. It’s just saying that that is now done, we need to learn from it, we need to learn pull the lesson from it, we need to give ourselves grace and space, to be less than perfect. But then we need to move to the next play. Yet, we can’t keep dwelling on it.
Yeah, I was probably in 2019. I was at this conference. And one of the speakers asked everyone to write down the things that they say to themselves when no one’s listening to like write them down. And so write them down. And then she asked for two volunteers. And I was like, “I know where this is going. And I’m not volunteering for that.” (Alan: Yeah) And these two girls got up there. And then she made them read what they wrote to the other person as if it was about them. (Alan: Oh, wow.) I get I get tearful every time I think about it, because like, the first girl couldn’t even do it. She like couldn’t, she couldn’t even she’s like, “No, you I can’t do that.” And she’s like, “Well, this is what you have to say this.” And she couldn’t and she like, everyone was crying because like, most of the things that she’s saying, we all have written down in some form on our piece of paper, like we’re all saying the same nasty things for ourselves. And by just that, just that visualization in that scene, and I was like, “Oh, we have got to stop. This is a serious problem.” Like, it’s not like just like a problem, I’m keeping to myself, this is like a massive problem that I’m doing to myself every day. And if I’m expecting myself to support others, I have to support myself, I can’t do that that’s going to be a burnout. Like, that’s not gonna lead to any success of any kind.
Alan Stein, Jr.
Oh, gosh, that’s such a powerful exercise. I love that. And imagine that. You can’t even bring yourself to say this to another human being, even if they’re a complete stranger. And yet we say these things regularly to ourselves. So the the self talk and the self narrative is so important. And, you know, part of that is a lot of these things that we think and believe as truths, aren’t really truths. They’re, they’re just narratives that we’ve told ourselves, and we’ve told ourselves these stories long enough, that we start to think that they’re true. And there’s, there’s some examples and some things in our past that we believe, solidified as being true. But it’s, it’s not an actual truth. You know, most of what gets discussed in the world today is not truth, is not factual. You know, it’s, it’s a perspective, it’s a, a vantage point, it’s a, you know, it’s a way that we’re choosing to interpret it, which is why, you know, you could take something like the pandemic, which, you know, was was really tough on a whole lot of people, but but you and I could have completely different viewpoints on it, you can say the pandemic was the worst thing to ever happen to humanity. And I can say it was the best things for a variety of different reasons. And neither one of us is right, you know, it’s a matter of perspective. So we just have to remember that when we tell ourselves these stories, we give ourselves these labels, we make statements like, you know, I am not disciplined, or I am not this, it’s like, we that’s just what you’re telling yourself. (Lesley: Yeah) But the beautiful part is, we’re the authors of our own story. Like you can change that whenever you want. You know, you know, when you can start becoming a more disciplined person, the very next decision that you have to make in your life, you have an opportunity to make a slightly more disciplined decision. So do that there’s an opportunity. Now you may have 50 years of experience of making really undisciplined, poor decisions, but you can’t change any of them. Those are all behind you now. But the very next decision you make, the very next meal you make, the next time it’s time to go to bed, the next conversation that you have, you can make a more disciplined decision and then start stringing some of those along and you can start to tell yourself a different story.
Yeah. Because the things that we think first of all your thoughts, you are the thinker of your thoughts, you can actually think and you thought, but also, it’s just a habit. That’s just a habit. That you are someone has been telling yourself that story for 50 years, that’s a 50 year old habit, it’s you have to unravel that, you’re gonna do something different. But if you’re aware of it, and you want to change it, it’s possible. And I think we forget that there’s some there’s possibility out there for us to make different decisions and think different thoughts and have the life that we want to have the confidence that we want, by just making those small changes over time and not being trying to be perfect over and going, well, fuck that up today. I’m gonna that’s it for that break. That’s it for that new thought pattern.
Alan Stein, Jr.
Yeah, and one of the main things I want your listeners to leave with this is, is this concept of compassion, you know, is, is be compassionate to yourself, but be compassionate to others as well. And compassion and high standards can coexist. I mean, I’m not telling people to lower their dreams or lower their core values or lower their standards, anything. But in fact, I think we should be raising all of those things, but then encouraging ourselves and cheering ourselves on to reach those higher bars. So this is not about condoning apathy, or just allowing ourselves to do whatever we want and saying, “Oh, that’s fine, I’m going to be kind to myself.” I think we should have high standards of excellence. We should live by our core values and be crystal clear on what they are. I think we should dream as big as we can possibly dream. But just know that that part of the human condition is we’re going to get bumped and bruised, we’re going to fall down. We’re going to make mistakes, we’re going to lay imperfect bricks, we’re gonna say stupid stuff. That’s just part of it. And don’t make that worse.
Oh, Alan, you are amazing. This has been awesome. Where can people find you, follow you, get your books?
Alan Stein, Jr.
Well, alansteinjr.com is kind of the hub, that’s information on all of my speaking programs. I’m also very easily found and very accessible and responsive on social media, just @allnsteinjr. So if anyone if you have a question, you want to share something, you want to keep this dialogue going, just shoot me a DM on Instagram or LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook. I’m very good about getting back to folks. And if you have an interest in either book, Raise Your Game or Sustain Your Game, you can get an Amazon or Audible or wherever you’d like to get books and audiobooks.
Okay, before I let you go, you’ve said so many amazing things like this is going to be one I re listen to over and over but bold, executable, intrinsic or targeted steps people can take. What do you have for us?
Alan Stein, Jr.
All right. There’s there’s two that I can think of. The first is a self audit. And I do this during a lot of my keynotes and workshops. I want folks to take out a piece of paper and draw a vertical line down the middle. On the left side of the paper, I want you to come up with an exhaustive list of the things that fill your bucket. The things that light you up. The the things that gets you excited, that make you smile, that gives you confidence. The things you just love to do. This could be taking a Pilates class or jumping on your peloton bike or taking your dog for a walk around the lake. This could be watching a documentary or a funny movie or listening to a podcast or reading a good book. This could be enjoying the stillness of the early morning while sipping on some coffee, or reading the paper. It could be conversation with a loved one or meditation or prayer. But come up with a list of all of the things that nourish your soul and make you feel alive. Then on the right side of the paper, the right side of the line, I want you to write down how you’ve been spending the bookends of your day, your morning and your evening routine. How have you been spending the first 60 minutes after you wake up? And how have you been spending the last 60 minutes before you go to bed and and I don’t want you to write down what you wish you did or what you think you should do. I want you to write down what you’ve done in the past several weeks and look for some patterns. And then to complete this self audit, I just want you to compare the two sets of notes, the two sides of the paper and ask yourself a very important question. Are you doing the things in your morning and evening routine that you know fill your bucket and make you feel most alive? The things that energize you and if you’re if you do this with some humility and some vulnerability and some honesty, you’ll most likely start to see a disconnect, you’ll start to uncover what’s called a performance gap. And that’s the gap between what we know we should do to feel alive and feel like our best self. And what we’re actually doing. And one of the key tenants of my work is helping folks close that gap, do the things that we know we need to do to be the best version of ourselves. You know, if if you know you love doing this thing, and then you’re like, “Well, I hardly ever do it.” Well, that’s probably why you you feel apathy. Why you have low energy, why you’re in moods all the time, start doing the things that you know you love to do. So that’s one very practical exercise. The other is a little bit more evergreen and esoteric and I’ll use it in the first person again. So I’m 46 years old. I have a crystal clear vision of the man I hope to become 20 years from now. I want the 66 year old Alan to be physically, mentally and emotionally fit. I want the 66 year old Alan to have a strong, deep loving connection with his children, his family and his friends. And I want the 66 year old Alan to be doing work he considers meaningful and in service of others. That’s the man I strive to be 20 years from now. Now, I fully acknowledge that time is not promised, tomorrow is not guaranteed that even though I take great care of myself, there is no guarantee that I’ll even live to the age of 66. But barring something unforeseen, I don’t see why I won’t. So here’s how I use that, every single decision I make in my life, I simply ask myself, “Is this going to take me closer to becoming that guy? Or is it going to take me further away?” You know, when it’s time to decide what I’m going to eat for breakfast, you know, Option A or Option B, which one will take me closer to being physically, mentally and emotionally fit, you know, who I follow on Instagram, what I watch on Netflix, you know, what I choose to do for my morning routine, are these things taking me closer to that guy, or further away. I intentionally make it binary. And my goal every day of my life is to make as many decisions as I can, that are in alignment with becoming that guy. Now, I’m not batting 1000, I’ve never had a perfect day. But if most of the decisions that I make, are in alignment with becoming that person, then 20, 20 years from now, that is exactly who I’ll be. I don’t want anyone to be surprised by it. I will be designing my future by the decisions I make in the present. And the beautiful part is, I’m not postponing being that guy, 20 years from now, because I’m reaping those same benefits in the present, because this is when I’m making those decisions. And I sure hope this doesn’t sound like it’s lacking humility, because it comes from a really grateful place. But right now at 46 years old, I am physically, mentally and emotionally fit. I do have an amazing connection with my children and family and friends. And I am currently doing work that I believe is in service of others, and hopefully making a contribution to those around me. So that’s the person I aim to be 20 years from now. But that’s also the person I am today, because these are the decisions that I make on a daily basis. And the last thing that I’ll leave your listeners with, this is kind of my recalibration exercise every single night. I basically say to myself, “Alan, you just traded 24 hours of your life, for the progress that you made today. Are you happy with that trade?” And if the answer is yes, I get a very restful peaceful night’s sleep. On the rare occasion that the answer’s no. Today was not my best day. I didn’t show up as my best self. And I’m feeling kind of lousy. I was in a funk. I give myself some grace and some compassion. I remind myself that that nobody’s perfect. And I get another crack at this thing tomorrow, and I still get a restful peaceful night’s sleep.
Oh my goodness. I’m obsessed. I love it all. I also can’t think of a better way to explain how you be it till you see it and the way you just described number two right there. Like that is so cool. Y’all, how you gonna use these tips in your life? Tag @alansteinjr, tag the @be_it_pod. Share this with a friend. Share this with a friend who needs to understand how to have more confidence and more compassion for themselves. And until next time, Be It Till You See It.
That’s all I’ve got for this episode of the Be It Till You See It podcast. One thing that would help both myself and future listeners is for you to rate this show and leave a review. And, follow or subscribe for free wherever you listen to podcasts. Also, make sure to introduce yourself over on IG at the @be_it_pod on Instagram. I would love to know more about you. Share this episode with whoever you think needs to hear it. Help us help others to BE IT TILL YOU SEE IT. Have an awesome day!
‘Be It Till You See It’ is a production of ‘Bloom Podcast Network’.
It’s written, produced, filmed and recorded by your host, Lesley Logan and me, Brad Crowell. Our Associate Producer is Amanda Frattarelli.
Kevin Perez at Disenyo handles all of our audio editing.
Our theme music is by Ali at APEX Production Music. And our branding by designer and artist, Gianfranco Cioffi.
Special thanks to our designer Mesh Herico for creating all of our visuals, (which you can’t see because this is a podcast) and our digital producer, Jay Pedroso for editing all the video each week, so you can.
And to Angelina Herico for transcribing each episode, so you can find it on our website. And finally to Meridith Crowell for keeping us all on point and on time.
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