What Openness Actually Means

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Listen Now: What Openness Actually Means

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In this episode, I speak with Alexandria Agresta, the founder of My Loop and co-founder of Purpose Pioneers. We talk about pre-Human Element® Alex (a less self-aware version of herself), and how changing her communication has completely transformed her relationships, how she thinks about herself, and how she walks through the world. We talk about specific language shifts and how it changes not only the meaning, but also the mindset one has.

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[0:00] LAURA: In this episode, I speak with Alexandria Agresta, the founder of My Loop and co-founder of Purpose Pioneers. I met Alex when she was going through Starter Studio, a tech accelerator here in Orlando Florida. Alex participated in the 3-day Cornerstone offering of The Human Element, a workshop designed to increase self-awareness and create more self-accountable and productive human beings. She also participated in my 7-week workshop called Leading a Grounded Life, so she has become one of my star students, and a huge advocate for the work of self-awareness. In this episode we talk about how self-awareness has completely changed the way she communicates, how personal life and work life are not actually different, and how we don’t even love the word “work” to capture what we do on a daily basis. We really get into a bunch of the most powerful concepts from the work of The Human Element… Without further adieu, please enjoy this interview with the captivating, Alexandria Agresta.

LAURA: Alright, so, Alex. Thank you so much for being on the show today. Will you please introduce yourself to our listeners?
ALEX: Hello, everyone. My name is Alexandria Agresta. I am the founder of myLoop and the co-founder of Purpose Pioneers.
LAURA: Okay, cool. So, let’s take those one at a time. So, tell me about myLoop. What is that?
ALEX: So, myLoop is my baby. It is my passion. I am so passionate about communities and really cultivating the structures that really foster a place where people belong and they feel like their voice is heard and that they’re really somebody in this community. So, myLoop is really an outgrowth of that. So, it kind of is two things. I developed this methodology for business leaders to really structure their community down to the core of purpose, passion, values, and to be really sustainable and successful well beyond any kind of tech platform that they adopt. And then I also have a platform for these leaders to manage their people in a more engaging and meaningful way.
LAURA: So, one of the, one of the ways I remember you describing myLoop to me a few months ago that I thought was really compelling is you were just describing, like, the problem that it solves. Um, it was kind of that classic, like, “Hey, you know, like have you ever been a part of a group or an association or a community where…” Like, can you go into that for me?
ALEX: Yeah. Yeah. So, anyone listening, if you’ve ever signed up for something like a sorority, a chamber of commerce, some sort of association, you pay dues, you’re all excited, you’re about to network and make connections, and then you don’t really feel like you’re a part of it. And it’s like–
LAURA: Yeah.
ALEX: –ugh. This sucks.
LAURA: Yeah.
ALEX: So, you paid all this money, you’re expecting this really big return, not just a monetary return but that human connection return. Am I gonna make deep relationships? Am I gonna have relationship-built business? So these people don’t really feel like they’re a part of it so they don’t sign back up.
LAURA: Yeah, so the engagement is just not there.
ALEX: The engagement’s not there and, like I said, it’s that human element, that human connection. It’s, it’s not there anymore and we’re seeing this wave of millenials coming into the workforce who really drive this high interaction with people and this impact and this purpose. So, these business associations, they really need to adopt this. Not a cost-driven mindset but a purpose-driven mindset to be able to be sustainable in this really impact driven world.
LAURA: [3:35] And I know I’ve given you this feedback before, but I want to repeat it again, for the listeners. So, when I heard you pitch myLoop, um, a few months ago at your demo day and you started out by talking about–

LAURA:–community. Oh my god. Like, even just now I got chills. I literally got chills listening to you talk about it and, and something about, um, your voice and the way that you were communicating it, like it was just, it was coming from like the depths of your heart and your soul and I was literally so affected. I was like, “Oh my gosh. This woman is amazing.”
ALEX: Yeah.
LAURA: So.
ALEX: Yeah, when I talk about community it’s with conviction–
LAURA: Yeah.
ALEX: –because I’ve been a part of communities where I felt like I was someone and I belonged and my actions were felt and my voice was heard and I had an impact on peoples’ lives and vice versa. I felt– it’s like when I walked up to my co-working space, that’s one of my communities, Canvas, I get this like giddy feeling–
LAURA: Yeah.
ALEX: –I literally have chills right now.

LAURA: Oh.
ALEX: Just walking up to it, because I know when I walk into that place nothing else matters but me and all the people that are in there.
LAURA: I love that so much.
ALEX: Yeah.

LAURA: Yeah, okay, so that was awesome. I knew I just wanted people to, to have that context–
ALEX: Yeah.
LAURA: –and for them to know how much, like, I love and appreciate you and everything you’re doing.
ALEX: Thank you.
LAURA: Um, alright. And then you’re also the co-founder of Purpose Pioneers. So, tell me about that.
ALEX: Yes. So that is an exciting new company that I formed with my co-founder Thomas Waterman. And it really, it all aligned with his purpose, with his company, and then with myLoop. And we realized that we were all about purpose and what is our company’s purpose? What is our own purpose and how can we apply that to literally everything we do? Um, so we came together and we’re like, “What’s this, what’s this purpose-driven narrative that we can talk to business leaders about?” So that’s kind of how it was born, but, you know, kind of one-liner: we help individuals and companies implement a purpose-driven narrative into their entire decision making process. So that starts from the very beginning. We uncover their values, what they believe in, why they wake up every day and then we transform that into maybe a product, a service, a marketing campaign. It all depends.
LAURA:  Awesome. So I obviously believe in that already and find it to be incredibly compelling. What would you say is the primary problem that y’all solve with Purpose Pioneers?
ALEX: Yeah, so the primary problem we solve is that corporations are incredibly powerful entities and they really do control the economy. And, up until now, it’s really been all about the bottom line and just about profits. And, once again, with those millenials coming in and this, this paradigm shift towards sustainability, it can’t just be about the bottom line. So, there’s a lack of this, “I want to make an impact. I have a purpose” in these corporations entire existence. So, we’re gonna go in and with, you know, with the millennial mindset and teach them that it’s okay to talk about this mushy gushy purpose stuff.
[6:33]
ALEX: Right?
LAURA: Right.
ALEX: Um, and how can we align every single thing we do on our day-to-day with our values and our purpose? Because when it gets disaligned, that’s when we might lose profits, we lose people, the culture is, is suffering. Um, we’re in the red. So–
LAURA: And we even had a conversation earlier today, this morning I think, where we were, you were talking about, um, somebody that you met who was speaking about the purpose of the organization that he works for and it’s not even his company, it’s not even his own organization. But, do you want to tell me more about that?
ALEX: Yes, yes. So I was at a one day conference this past weekend and we met someone that works at Tesla. He just joined and he is so connected to this mission of, you know, we all know Elon Musk’s mission to revolutionize the whole world, essentially.

ALEX: Um, but he–
LAURA: No big deal.

ALEX: Cause– we’re casually going to Mars. He’s– this man I met is so deeply connected to this cause that he’s willing to put everything out on the line and it’s not even his mission and he says to his kids, “You know what? I’ll be back, uh, before dinner time. I gotta go change the world for you guys. From me to you.”
LAURA:  Yeah. But like it is his mission.
ALEX: Right. It is.
LAURA: Right? Like, he, he adopted it so fully.
ALEX: Right.
LAURA: It’s not his company. He’s not an entrepreneur, necessarily, but he believes it so much.
ALEX: Right. So, that’s what I think forming a successful company, it’s around. Forming it around values and what do we believe in. Kind of like Apple.
LAURA: Yeah.
ALEX: We know the famous Ted Talk with Simon Sinek.
LAURA: Of course.
ALEX: Right.
LAURA: Start with why.
ALEX: Start with why.
LAURA: The listeners don’t know what we’re talking about. Yeah.
ALEX: Yeah. Okay.
LAURA: Start with why. The golden circle.
ALEX: Yeah. Look it up if you–
LAURA: It’s an amazing Ted Talk and one of my favorite– was it? I’m trying to remember if that was directly from him. Was he mocking the whole, like, Martin Luther King Jr. didn’t say, like, “I have a plan.”
ALEX: Yes, it’s–

ALEX: — I didn’t have a– I have a plan speech, it’s “I Have a Dream” speech.
LAURA: Here’s my 27 point plan. Like, that’s not compelling or exciting to people. The dream, absolutely is.
ALEX: And people don’t show up for the leader, they show up for themselves.
LAURA: Yes.
ALEX: Right.
LAURA: Just like this guy!
ALEX: Just like this guy! He’s showing up for himself–
LAURA: Absolutely.
ALEX: –and that, oh, that’s powerful.
LAURA: Yeah, and I mean it. I know it is. I am building my company and my team. I absolutely want everybody that’s working with me to feel like it’s their mission too.
ALEX: Oh yeah.
LAURA: It’s their why. It’s their purpose. Like, they’re showing up for them. They’re there because it speaks to that inner, inner part of who they are and why they believe that they are on this planet.
ALEX: Right. I don’t even work for your company and I’m so connected to your mission–

ALEX: –okay? So, it’s very compelling.
LAURA: Well, you don’t work for my company now.
ALEX: No.
LAURA: Anything is possible.
ALEX: Yeah. Trying to create a position.
LAURA: We’ll make it happen. Alright. Awesome. Well, so, I guess that’s kind of a decent segue. Thank you for telling us about your, your organizations. I love, by the way, that you’re so young and you’re already this, like, serial entrepreneur.
ALEX: Yes.
LAURA: You’re just such a rock star.
ALEX: Oh, thank you.
LAURA: [07:52] Um, so you had, uh, the opportunity earlier this year to go through, um, the cornerstone version of The Human Element. So, it was a three day. Um, full program is five days, as you know, but you went through three days which was all focused on individual self-awareness. Um, and I think is probably the most powerful piece of the course. So, I would love to hear about your experience with that. Um, and I’ll kind of back up first and– because so much of The Human Element is about interpersonal relationships, how do we communicate with other people? How do we show up more authentically more open? How do we work through problems and conflicts more effectively and faster? I’m wondering if you can give us some insight into, uh, pre-Human Element Alex? [cut 8:40]
ALEX: Yeah, wow. This is a trip down memory lane.

LAURA: Let’s do it!
ALEX: Um, so yeah. I’d love to start with personal and then how that led, that affected my work life at the time.
LAURA: Okay.
ALEX: So, kind of jumping back. I was in college. No, I’m in college and I forced, I didn’t even give my boyfriend at the time a choice, I forced him to move down to Florida because I was just so in love with him.

ALEX: Um, so he moved down and, the second, you know, we’re living together, we’re all lovey-dovey, right, in the beginning, but things are explosive at this time. You know, I don’t even really know how to word it. I kind of blocked it from my memory, but just thinking of the fights that we would have, I would literally be saying to him, “It’s not you–” or–

ALEX: “It’s not me. It’s you.” That’s crazy!
LAURA: This is your fault.
ALEX: Right.
LAURA: You’re the broken one.
ALEX: Yes. So, I’m telling Dylan, I’m like, “It is your fault. It is not my fault.”

ALEX: And I want, like, my intentions have always been good throughout my whole life. I really do believe I’m a good-hearted person and I, I really look out for other people and I was looking out for him but, at the time, I’m just not willing to look inside myself. I wasn’t willing to take ownership of anything. It’s, it was just, I’m pointing fingers at Dylan, like, the entire time.

[11:35]
LAURA: Can you, can you tell me a little bit more about maybe like one of the arguments that you had and what in particular you were thinking about when it was like, “It’s not me. It’s you. It’s your fault”? Like, what did that mean? It was his fault because he what? Like, what was that blamer voice? That critic?
ALEX: The critic. That’s the biggest defense I have.

ALEX: Um–
LAURA: Me too.
ALEX: — So, if I can remember. Let’s see. I had a par– so, I had a party. Big into partying at this time in my life. We had a bunch of people over and I accidentally got locked, not locked, but I was in the room with one of our friends. And we were just hanging out talking; I had a puppy, so he was a guy friend.

LAURA: Your face! It’s so great. “It was a guy.”
ALEX: So, I’m just hanging out with one of our guy friends, I’m hanging– we have my little puppy at the time and Dylan, my boyfriend, like walked in and freaked out. And I was just like, “Hey, we’re hanging out with the dog. Do you want to come?” And he’s like, “No! You’re cheating on me!”
LAURA: Oh god. Oh, my gosh.
ALEX: “You’re cheating on me. Like, what are you doing?” I was like, “Um, we’re just playing with the dog, Dyl. Like, what’s up?”

LAURA: Yeah.
ALEX: It’s very strange, but instead of really trying to understand like, wow, okay what’s going on for him? What’s happening inside? I’m sure this is because he really cares about me, does not want to feel that I’ve abandoned him, or I’m even looking at someone in that manner. But I was just like, “You’re crazy. I’m going to party. Peace.” So, I was not willing to see if, if I was at fault, which I’m definitely going to take ownership for at least half of that situation. Um, and I just, I guess I just avoided it. Threw it out the window.

LAURA: Alright. So, great example where today you can look at that and you can realize, okay, all situations are co-created by the people that are in them. At the time though, it was like, “No. I didn’t do anything wrong. You’re totally crazy.”
ALEX: Yeah.
LAURA: “It’s not me. It’s you.”
ALEX: It’s not me. It’s you. Sorry!

LAURA: Okay. So, you said that you wanted to start by talking about a personal example and how it was affecting work.
ALEX: Yeah.
LAURA: Can you say more about that?
ALEX: Yeah. So that exact, um, you know, concept that you shared that things are co-created and I was just avoiding it. “It’s not me, it’s you. Sorry guys.” Uh, that actually led over into my work life. So I worked in hospitality, uh, for my entire life up until recently, where I’m a full-time entrepreneur. And if I was, you know, getting yelled at by a manager or did something wrong, quote unquote, according to their rules, I would just say, “Oh. They hate me.” I’d play the victim.
LAURA: Oh, victim, okay.
ALEX: Yeah, so it’s from critic to victim but I still think something from personal was flowing over into my career at the time. Um, but, “They hate me. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong.” And then just the avoidance. “Whatever. It’s you guys. It’s not me.”

LAURA: We can transition so beautifully from one defense to another.
ALEX: Oh, I probably do like five in one time.
LAURA: Same. Yeah, you know, inevitably, whenever I do this work, whether it’s with an individual or with a team or even in the public workshops, personal life stuff always comes up. It always comes up and I think that sometimes there’s a resistance, even from me, around some of that just because I do want people to understand how much this has an impact, um, on work life in organizations. But there’s two primary reasons why I think talking about personal life examples really does make sense and is completely relevant. First of all, whatever is happening for any employee, um, in their personal life does have a spillover effect. This is actually super well researched in my field. There are some people that are better at compartmentalizing than others, but it still is a drain on energy and a drain on attention and, if you think about it, an employee who is thriving in their personal life is also going to be that much more likely to be productive and thriving at work. So, um, the ability for somebody to work through personal life challenges and become more productive is absolutel– more fulfilled, I guess I would say–

[15:45]
ALEX: Right.
LAURA: –personally, is absolutely going to, then, also have a positive impact on their productivity and their relationships that they have, um, at work. So, like, there’s kind of the really simple, classic idea of, um, you know, somebody has a bad day at work because their boss yells at them and then they go home and they maybe like yell at their spouse, right? Like it’s that kind of transference of anger. And then I’ve even, you know, heard of the example where then that spouse maybe yells at the kid. Again, transferring the anger. Then the kid will–
ALEX: It’s like a domino effect of that anger.
LAURA: Absolutely. And so the reverse can be true as well, where, when there are things happening in one’s personal life, where it feels tumultuous or disconnected or disengaged, that same impact can happen into the workplace. And, okay, so that was one reason. That was like a really long explanation–
ALEX: No, I just want to–

ALEX: –comment on that. I think that explanation was great because, thinking back, I really wasn’t happy with my life at the time, personally. My relationships, things were kind of rocky with my parents as well and, as you know, I’m very close with my dad so the distance… Um, so I really wasn’t happy. And that would flow over, even though I knew I wasn’t going to be a server for the rest of my life, it still was my means to, you know, make a living at the time and I wanted to make the best out of it but just that personal–
LAURA:  Yeah.
ALEX: –hardship was definitely flowing over into every day when I pulled up to work.
LAURA: Yeah, so, and there’s a couple things that just came up for me as you were saying that. So, one is, so and I use I language as you know. I language is important because it’s accountable communication and it also doesn’t try to presume that you’re, whoever you are, that your experience of the world is the same as mine. [16:43]
So when I feel good about myself–
ALEX: Yes.
LAURA: –it’s a lot easier for me to show up in a self-accountable way, both at work and at home. And so if things are going well in my personal life, I’m more likely to feel good about myself, going into work. And so if I’m getting yelled at by a manager, you know, in restaurant job or hospitality or really wherever, it’s probably easier for me to be like, “Oh, you know what? Yeah, I guess you’re right. You did tell me about that policy. Like, my bad.” And it’s not going to be quite as, like, soul crushing.
ALEX: Right.
LAURA: Um, and then the second, second thing I would say too, about that whole spillover effect, is this idea of resilience. So, when things are going well for me in my personal life and I come into work and there’s some kind of problem or struggle, um, even if it does, you know, get me down a bit, I am likely to have a lot more resilience and recover faster from whatever that is when things are going well, personally. So, that was like all kind of, I can’t even remember now if that was one or both of the things I wanted to say about spill– Oh, no there is a second one.

ALEX: Okay.
LAURA: So, just to get us regrounded, right?
ALEX: Yeah.
LAURA: So, this whole tangent, I said that there were two things, two primary reasons why I think that talking about personal life in these workshops and even on this show are relevant even to the workplace. So, that was one, the whole spillover effect. And that it does matter. The second thing is that when it comes to self awareness, understanding how I show up in my relationships, if I’m using my personal life as that breeding ground for examples or even like practice, whatever the patterns are that tend to emerge between me and somebody else in my personal life, that same pattern almost definitely exists at work as well. So, I don’t really care, when I’m doing coaching for people, sometimes at the beginning they’re like, “Oh, can I talk about personal, or…?” And I’m like, “Whatever’s going on for you, let’s talk about that.” Because no matter what it is, if it’s about you and your life and what you’re going through, we can learn together more about you, you can become more self-aware, and then you can make a more conscious shift in your behavior, be more, you know, use that self-awareness to show up more effectively. Um, so yeah. So that was my like super long tangent.

[19:40]
ALEX: I’d love to share a thought on that, ’cause this makes me think. So, I had this conversation probably a year ago and I was like, “Is there really a difference between personal and professional life?” I think it’s, it’s just life–
LAURA: Yeah.
ALEX: –and that’s why things spill over and, and it starts, it starts with me. It has to start with me and the self because that’s how I show up for me, for personal, for professional, for anything. So, you know, I don’t think there really is a difference.

LAURA: I think more and more that’s becoming the case, too.
ALEX: Yeah.
LAURA: Um, you know, a lot more people are working non-traditional hours. Um, I actually, so when I worked internally at NASA, one of the campaigns, um, around change management that I was involved in is, um, that work is not a place that you go. Work is something that you do.
ALEX: Love that.
LAURA: Right? ‘Cause there was this big push to say, “You know what? Let’s create more opportunity for people to telework.” You know, a lot of potential advantages. I also know that there’s some drawbacks as well–
ALEX: Of course.
LAURA: –because technology is still not able to completely replicate what you can get from this kind of face-to-face interaction like you and I are having right now.
ALEX: Right.
LAURA: But, in general, the idea that work is something you do and not a place you go, I’m a huge believer in. So, a lot of people are doing non-traditional work hours. You know, they get up and maybe they work right away at like, and then they have breakfast with their family and then maybe they go into the office for a while and then maybe they leave at four thirty or five and they spend time with their family and then like at eight o’clock they sign back on and do some more work.
ALEX: Right.
LAURA: And maybe some people hear that and go, “Oh, that workaholism. Like, that’s too much.” Well, maybe, but you know, to your point, like going back to really both your companies, I would say, like, when you’re really purpose driven and you believe in what you’re doing and you love what you’re doing and, for a lot of people work doesn’t even feel like work anymore.
ALEX: I don’t even use the term work. You know what I use.

LAURA: Okay, let’s explain that one.
ALEX: So, because Laura and Thomas and our group of friends, we’re very like-minded and purpose driven individuals so we’re like, “You know what? We literally love what we do every day, so this word ‘work’, forget it.”
LAURA: Doesn’t fit anymore.
ALEX: It doesn’t fit. It’s manifesting. We’re manifesting what we believe in. We’re manifesting our relationships. We’re manifesting our future. So that’s what we did. Manifest Mondays.

LAURA: I love that so much. I think the first time I had that conversation with Thomas I actually, ’cause I, you know, I have my different mail accounts in my phone and, uh, one of them was labeled work at the time. ‘Cause it was my, like this is my Key Talent Solutions email but, yeah, we had that conversation, I went, I’m like, “I’m changing this label” and it literally says Manifesting and so there was a Facebook thread, I think, about that.
ALEX: Yes.
LAURA: I took a screenshot. I’m like, yep, I really committed to that.
ALEX: You 100% committed to throwing work out and manifest in.

[22:25]
LAURA: Yeah. Now I do, I have to admit, I still do use the word work but it also doesn’t necessarily have a negative connotation to me because I am so, so lucky to be one of those people that, since the beginning of my career, I have gotten to do work that I love to do.
ALEX:  Right.
LAURA: That being said, I do love the word manifesting so much. I used it, I use it constantly.
ALEX: Change your words, change your worth.
LAURA: Absolutely. I like that too.
ALEX: Love that.
LAURA: Language is super important.
ALEX: It is.
LAURA: Okay. Awesome. So, so that was a little bit of insight into like pre-Human Element Alex plus like 20 minutes of tangent–
ALEX: Yes.
LAURA: –which was awesome stuff.
ALEX: Right. As always.
LAURA: Tangents are great. Um, so tell me a little bit about your experience going through Human Element.
ALEX: Oh. This is one of my favorite things to talk about. I get butterflies. Um, alright, so I had seen you, Laura, in– so Canvs is my co-working space in downtown Orlando, just to give the listeners–
LAURA: Yeah.
ALEX: –context– and I had seen Laura doing a workshop or kind of a Human Element evening, I think you called it–
LAURA: Yeah.
ALEX: –probably two months before you did our Human Element. And I kind of looked over, I’m like, “Who’s this chick? What is she doing?”

ALEX: ‘Cause I love psychology, like, and I heard, I was hearing some things that you were doing. I was like Googling Human Element. So the seed was kind of planted. I wanted to get to know you. So I was already manifesting you.
LAURA: Nice.

LAURA: Look at you.
ALEX: Oh yeah.
LAURA: You’re quite the manifester.
ALEX: So, when we had this opportunity to do Human Element with Starter Studio, which is, um, a cohort for early stage tech companies, I was beyond excited and I’m, I like to be very in touch with my emotions. I like to be vulnerable. So, I think it was the perfect thing for me. I went in with a very open mind but I really had no idea what I was getting into for sure, even though I was willing to be as open as I knew how to be at that time, pre-Human Element. Um, but going through Human Element, I mean the concepts that we’re taught, my eyes. Like I literally feel like someone peeled my eyes open and I just see this whole different side to myself, to the people in the room with me, to the facilitators, to the world. Um, and I really walked out a completely changed person.
LAURA: Wow.
ALEX: Like, I am a different person. For the better.
LAURA: That’s huge. That’s huge. So, um, and that means a lot to hear you say, honestly, so I just want to acknowledge that. And I know that people listening are probably like, “What the hell does that mean?”

LAURA: “Like what’s different?” So, so give us an example. Help us understand that a little bit better.
ALEX: Yeah.  First thing that really opened my eyes was first truth first, which is literally putting your first truth first. Putting out what you think, not going through things withholding or being pragmatic or, um, lying, you know. That’s the squiggly line.
LAURA: No one knows–

LAURA: –what the squiggly line is. So can I give a little context?
ALEX: Please do.
LAURA: So one of the concepts of The Human Element is openness or truthfulness, we use those words interchangeably. So, the whole idea is that we advocate in general that we can solve problems much more effectively and much faster if everybody was more open. And openness is really powerful when it’s I’m being open about me. Openness isn’t like, “You’re a jerk” and–
ALEX: Right.
LAURA: –“it’s not me it’s you.” Right?

ALEX: That is not openness.
LAURA: That is not openness. Openness often is more vulnerable. This is what’s going on for me. This is what I’m thinking. And the thing that stops us from being open, truly open, is fear.
ALEX: Right.
LAURA: And so we might choose to withhold or we might choose Alex’s saying, “the squiggly line.” Um, the squiggly line is, it could be as bold as just lying–
ALEX: Right.
LAURA: –or could be distorting or misleading–
ALEX: Sugarcoating.
LAURA: –or could be politics, sugarcoating. And we do the squiggly line ’cause it’s like, you’re just, you’re not being direct, you’re not getting straight to it–

[26:25]
ALEX: Right.
LAURA: –um, and so this concept of first truth first is sometimes I may notice that I want to be open with you but something is holding me back. That fear. I have some kind of fear that might be slowing me down or stopping me from just being open with you. That fear is first truth first. That’s what I can actually share before I say whatever the other thing is that I was going to say.
ALEX: Right.
LAURA: Okay, so that was my context around–
ALEX: Perfect.
LAURA: –first truth first.
ALEX: Thank you Laura.

ALEX: ‘Cause I’m just like “squiggly line” and people are like, “What is that?” So, learning what first truth first is, I was like, “Whoa this is gonna completely change the way I communicate with myself, with my parents, with my friends.” But then, taking it one step deeper with the levels of openness which is: what’s the fear? What am I experiencing? What’s going on for me? And how can I address that in my communication so the person knows where I’m coming from? And that it’s really not about them. It’s always about me.
LAURA: Yeah.
ALEX: So–
LAURA: Beautiful.
ALEX: Yeah. That totally changed my communication style because pre-Human Element Alex and college Alex, very defensive and even though, like I said, my intentions were really good I just didn’t know how to communicate the way that I really, really wanted to because I still had to work on myself. And sometimes my tone would be a little bratty or a little bossy, um, so I always knew that I wanted to work on my communication and I feel like Human Element just completely unlocked that. These are the concepts that I resonate with. I agree with them. They are my personal truths. Um, so that– learning that in those three days was the start to me communicating my messages so much more effectively and in a more meaningful manner and impact, so–
LAURA: That’s awesome. So, tell me an example of a time when you used first truth first. Like a real conversation where this came up.
ALEX: Yes.  So. Let me think about that for like 10 seconds so I can get a good one. Perfect. So, my other friend, Tom, he was –So, I have two Toms in my life: my business partner Tom and then my college friend, Tom– we were, um, on vacation in Miami and I had asked him to take a picture together ’cause I really miss him and I wanted to put him on my ‘gram–

ALEX:  And–
LAURA: That’s Instagram, for our listeners. No, I’m just kidding.
ALEX: Um, and he was like, “Oh, no. Like, I don’t want my business partners to know I’m kind of like taking a day off.” And I was like, “Okay. That’s fine.” And I was like, “No worries.” And he’s a really hard worker and he’s like working 24 hours a day. So I totally got it. But then, about 10 minutes later, he took a picture and then posted it on Instagram, so I was like, “Hmm.” So I had to take a breath, ’cause, you know, my brain thinks I’m dying right now–

ALEX: –so I’m like, “Oh my god. He posted a picture.”
LAURA: So you felt, what? Angry? What were you–?
ALEX: Yeah. I felt, I felt I guess betrayed. It’s very dramatic for just Instagram but really thinking I felt like, “Why does–” I felt unimportant. I felt betrayed. Why did he literally just say no to me and then do it right in front of my face?
LAURA: Yeah.
ALEX: So, I took a second. I didn’t say anything right then and there. I took like 10 minutes so I could gather my thoughts and I wanted to respond and not react. Big difference. Um, so I went up to him and I said, “Hey. You don’t know this style of communication I’m about to share with you but are you open to hearing how I’m about to tell you what I’m feeling?” He’s like, “Yeah. Sure.”

LAURA: He’s like, “What is about to happen?”
ALEX: So I was like, “Towards you I feel very–”

LAURA: That’s awesome. This is how we talk about the levels of openness.
ALEX: Yes.
LAURA: And I even, when I pull out the levels of openness and it’s like, “Towards you I feel…” I’m like, I know most people don’t talk like this–
ALEX: Oh, I do. I stick to the script.

LAURA: Okay, beautiful.
ALEX: Alright, so I’m like, “Towards you I feel very frustrated, um, because…” and I explained the situation. I was like, “You said no to taking a picture with me and then you posted it.” Um, so what is it? “Towards you I feel–”
LAURA: Yeah, and then because.
ALEX: Because. Yeah. So because–
LAURA: Because of the situation.
ALEX: The situation.
LAURA: And then level four–
ALEX: Is I fear that you think I am? Yeah. So then I was like, “I fear that you think I’m an unimportant friend to you.” And then it was “I fear that I’m insignificant.”
LAURA: [30:38] Okay.
ALEX: And he was just like, “Whoa. Okay.” He’s like, “Well it has nothing to do with you.” He’s like “I, I honestly just forgot. If you want to take a picture, we totally can.” I was like, “Okay.”
LAURA: Wow.
ALEX: Yeah.

LAURA: Wow. He just forgot.
ALEX: Yeah, I mean–
LAURA: Forgot that he wasn’t gonna–
ALEX: I mean he was just drinking and talking so, I mean, maybe he was lying at that point in time but I don’t think he was.
LAURA: Yeah.
ALEX: And he was just like, “You know, I’m really sorry that I didn’t realize that was such a big thing to you. If you want to take a picture, I would love to post you on my Instagram.”
LAURA: It’s such a, it’s such a great example because it’s, it’s a small little moment but the story that you, that you were, you know, consciously or even subconsciously telling yourself about what that meant, that’s what you were reacting to. Right? That was like the, the visceral response, the emotional and physiological response, why you took 10 minutes to calm down which, kudos to you, that’s a fantastic technique.
ALEX: Yes.
LAURA: Um, and he was like, “Oh. Oh yeah. I wasn’t even gonna take a picture. Like, I totally forgot about that.”
ALEX: Yeah.
LAURA: So, we do that all the time. As humans, like, our brain is this just gap filling machine.
ALEX: Yeah.
LAURA: We constantly have incomplete information about the world, about our environment, about the people that we’re with and our brain just thinks it’s helping us out. It’s like, “I got this. I got this. I’m gonna fill it in. Fill it in.”
ALEX: Right.
LAURA: And it gets filled in, a lot of the time, with our deepest insecurities. Right? So, some part of you is like –and this is true about me as well. This is just a human condition– that you’re not as significant as you want to be.
ALEX: Right.
LAURA: And so that was, woop! Filling in the gap of whatever just happened. That he said no to you and then put his own picture on the I-G.

LAURA: I’m really, really good at picking up all the slang–
ALEX: The lingo.
LAURA: –that Alex and Thomas teach me. They keep me young.

ALEX: Got a whole vocab list [inaudible 31:43]
LAURA: Like gucci.
ALEX: Gucci. Yeah.
LAURA: Totally rolled that into my customer’s *[inaudible 31:47] interview, like the day after you taught me gucci.
ALEX: That was the greatest text you’ve ever sent me. Gucci.
LAURA: So great.
ALEX: Gucci means good.

LAURA: Thank you for–

ALEX: People are like, “This is a brand name. Like what are you talking about?”
LAURA: What is happening? I know. Somebody– I talked to Roy. He mentioned Doritos and I’m like, “There’s no endorsements on this show.”
ALEX: Yeah. Thank you. Sorry.

LAURA: At least not now. Alright. Cool. So that’s a great example then. So, what you’re talking about there is levels of openness.
ALEX: Yes.
LAURA: So, I wanna give like a little bit of context to that–
ALEX: Yes.
LAURA: –’cause we kind of talked about two through five. But there’s also like negative one and zero and one. So, um, do you want to talk about it at all or do you want me to?
ALEX: I can’t remember it without seeing the chart–
LAURA: Okay.
ALEX: –so you go through it and then I’ll kind of jump in.
LAURA: Yeah. Okay. So, so negative one on openness is what we call self deception. So part of, um, being open, we always explain that I cannot be more open with you than I am with myself.
ALEX: Right.
LAURA: So, the extent to which I have self deception, which all humans have some self deception, –the goal of The Human Element is to reduce self deception, increase self awareness–
ALEX: Right.
LAURA: Which enables me to be more open, which we know enables teams to be more productive, more effective, right? That’s the whole thing in a nutshell.
ALEX: Right.
LAURA: So, negative one is self deception. And this happens to us all the time where we’re not fully aware of our experiences. I’m not completely aware of the subconscious story that’s playing in my mind that I’m actually reacting to. Um, in fact, all I’m aware of at that point is, all I’m aware of at that point is like, “It’s not me. It’s you.”
ALEX: I was gonna say. That’s that level.
LAURA: And I’m like, “I’m being super open right now.” Right? That’s what we think it is. But there’s self deception happening. There’s okay, I am contributing to the situation in some ways. Let me reflect on that. Let me be accountable. But, for a lot of us, we have at least certain, certain places or certain times in our life where I didn’t even* realize that. That’s negative one. Not even up* with myself. And then there’s level zero, which means like, oh, I’m aware of some things but I’m not telling you.
ALEX: Right.
LAURA:  Right. And it could be all sassy like that or it could just be, uh, “You know, I, I don’t wanna say anything, ’cause it might hurt her feelings.” So it could be very benevolent withholding, but it’s still withholding. It means I have information that I think would be, um, it’s relevant in some way, ’cause it’s on my mind in this conversation but I’m just keeping it to myself.
ALEX: Sometimes I, even now, even though I’m so aware, I do that level.
LAURA: Oh I do, too.
ALEX: ‘Cause I just don’t want to have the conversation. I’m like, “Ugh.”

LAURA: Let me be super clear about this. Okay. So I have been doing this work for, I think, about 12 years. Um, and I talk about it like every day. You know? Not only is it my, I want to say work but I’ll say manifestation–
ALEX: Yes.

LAURA: No, it’s my work. Um, but just in my personal life, too, like I’m just constantly on my own self awareness journey. So, I’ve been doing this for a long time and it’s part of my life every single day and I still withhold too.
ALEX: Yeah.
LAURA: So, what happens for me though, what’s different for me post-Human Element versus pre is when I’m withholding I, I know the question I want to ask myself is: what am I afraid of? What am I afraid might happen if I’m open about this right now? And sometimes I don’t know. And that means I’ve got a self awareness gap and I might use stream of consciousness writing or something like that or talk to my best friend and we kind of coach each other–

[35:36]
ALEX: Right.
LAURA: –to try to get more clear about, like, what is the fear? And then it’s asking myself: can I cope with that? And there are times where I don’t think I can and so I actually will wait until I feel like I can cope with it. And it’s about how do I build up my own stamina, my own resilience, my own strength so that I feel confident that I can cope with whatever happens?
ALEX: Right.
LAURA: Um, another key point of The Human Element is all about how do I increase my own copability?
ALEX: Right, ’cause we got so deep, it’s like, “Alright cool. We know the fear. Can I handle it? Can I cope?”
LAURA: Yeah. And I definitely still, to this day, have times where there’s a fear that’s coming up and something stops me from thinking that I can cope with that right now. And so I will continue to withhold until I either have a greater self insight or develop the courage or develop the strength to be open. So I just want to be clear. It’s not like you do this one workshop–
ALEX: Yeah.
LAURA: –*[inaudible 36:10] like completely courageous every day all the time but the workshop, at least I’ll use I language, gave me the tools to ask myself the questions and get that self-awareness and understanding so that I am able to at least make progress, you know, and move forward. And it’s about recovery not perfection. So I’m able to get to those places faster. I’m usually able to get to a place where I’m open with somebody now certainly faster than like 10 years ago.
ALEX: Oh, absolutely. The way that my brain processes things now, I literally can’t go back to–
LAURA: I know!
ALEX: I can’t. I am post-Human Element for life.
LAURA: You can’t unlearn it.
ALEX: I can’t. I cannot rewire my brain to go backwards. Only forwards.
LAURA: Oh man. I know one of the things that, um, I talked to Stephanie about this in an earlier episode, but you know one of the concepts that kills me a little bit that I can never unlearn is what bugs me about you is really about me. So, anytime I’m like irritated or mad or annoyed, I’m like, “Oh, freaking A.”

ALEX: Defense mechanisms.
LAURA: I’m like, “Alright. This means it’s really about me.” Gosh darn it.
ALEX: Like, let me be mad!
LAURA: Yeah. And you know there are actually times where I’m like, “You know what? Like hostility has its own place in my little contained world. And I can maybe use that and process through and, like, learn more.” But, ultimately, yeah. If somebody is bugging me, oh shoot. That’s about me. I can never unlearn that.
ALEX: I know. I never can either.

ALEX: I really can’t.
LAURA: It’s like such a high level of responsibility then and self accountability that emerges–
ALEX: Right.
LAURA: –from that. Because it’s like, “Okay.”
ALEX: You know another crazy thing, too, I’ve noticed. I’m very aware of my, not only myself but my surroundings and other people and their mannerisms and how they talk. No one speaks in I language.
LAURA: Oh my god. I know, right?
ALEX: You know when, you know when you do this, you know when you have a kid… I’m like, “I don’t have a kid. What are you talking about?”

ALEX: “Me or you?”
LAURA: Do you actually say that?
ALEX: Oh–
LAURA: Do you ever say, like, “I don’t, actually. Is this true for you?”
ALEX: Now I’m starting to. I’m like, “You or me?” And some– I did it last night. And they were like, “Oh, me.” I’m like, “There we go.”
LAURA: Ah.
ALEX: Ah.
LAURA: Were they confused? Or–
ALEX: No. So, he was like a very profound thinker and he’s all about like life so he totally got it. But some people are like, “Wait. What? What?”
LAURA: Yeah.
ALEX: “You? Me? What? I?”

LAURA: Or they’re like, “Yeah, that’s what I said.”
ALEX: Yeah.
LAURA: Don’t even understand.
ALEX: Yeah. They don’t even understand. But it just makes me think I’m so fortunate to be able to, uh, speak from my own experience and really value taking ownership and accountability, ’cause it’s so important.
LAURA: I love that.
ALEX: We only– we see the world through our own lens. It’s nobody else’s but ours.
LAURA: And we all have our own distortions.
ALEX: Right.
LAURA: And, you know, the goal of The Human Element and self awareness in general is to reduce distortion. Um, and even if it’s not just, even if it’s not distortion it’s like, well this is my experience. This is how I feel on the situation.
ALEX: Right.
LAURA: It’s one of the most simple but profound things that I think I want people to understand is how, you know, how often you might be in the same meeting or the same conversation –you know, maybe it’s, let’s just say it’s three people– and then one person leaves and, you know, like I would look over at you and I’d be like, “Oh my gosh. Can you believe that?” Which, first of all is triangulation, don’t do that. It’s toxic.

[39:00]
ALEX: Yes.
LAURA: Um, and you’re like, “What are you talking about?” Like you have no idea what I’m all outraged about because–
ALEX: Right.
LAURA: –whatever just happened, like, when it went in through your brain and your filters and lenses it didn’t trigger anything but for me it totally did.
ALEX: Right.
LAURA: Literally the same situation. So, this happens all the time and so that’s part of why it’s so powerful to be able to use I language.
ALEX: Yes.
LAURA: Well this is how I experience the world. This is what I think. And sometimes people resist using I language because they feel like they were taught, you know, well don’t talk about yourself. You know, talk about the other person.

LAURA: But it’s different. It’s not, I’m not using I language and talking about myself because I’m somehow more important–
ALEX: No. You’re not boasting or bragging. You’re literally talking about your experience. Your lens.
LAURA: And I actually, for me at least, and I think for a lot of people that I’ve coached around this, when I’m using I language it reduces the need for me to be right. Right?
ALEX: You’re not–
LAURA: None of this– I almost said, right. Right? Right?

LAURA: It’s not about being right.
ALEX: No.
LAURA: It’s not about right and wrong. It’s this is how I experience things. Tell me about your experience.
ALEX: What do you think?
LAURA: And it doesn’t have to be the same. But when you speak about your experience, I speak about my experience, then the two of us together, we’re gonna be able to come up with a plan and we’ll co-create something together that works for both of us.
ALEX: Something that has really improved my communication and how I give advice, taking these Human Element concepts. So, when someone is venting to me or sharing something to me, instead of saying, “Hm. This is what I think you should do” or “What you should–”
LAURA: Should.

ALEX: Should or could. Um, I take a second. I’m like, “Do you mind if I share my experience about something related to this topic?” And they’re like, “Yeah. Sure.” So, it’s not, it’s not about them, it’s just about me but it’s relatable. And then I share my experience, speaking only in I and then at the end I’m like, “What do you think about that?” And it invites them in because, one, we’re on the same level. It’s like, “Wow. She experienced the same thing or something similar” so their defenses go down. And it gets their mind thinking, ’cause they’re just showing how I’m showing how I handled the situation.
LAURA: Yeah.
ALEX: I’m not telling them anything to do. I’m just like, “This is how I handled it.”
LAURA: That’s so beautiful.
ALEX: “What do you think?”
LAURA: Yeah. I love that so much. And I think that when people come in with the whole “You know, you should do…” it’s really well intentioned–
ALEX: Oh, absolutely.
LAURA: –um, and especially for very linear and logical and analytical people, they struggle to see any problem with that. They’re like, “Well, it’s just good advice. That’s just what they should do.”
ALEX: Because they like black and white.
LAURA: Yes. And they’re like, “Why is that a problem though? They should do that.” Um, and you know we actually had this conversation because you also went through Leading a Grounded Life.
ALEX: Yes.
LAURA: We had a whole conversation–
ALEX: About should.
LAURA: –around should and, yeah, advice, and like how do you navigate that. So, what you just said about “Do you mind if I share my experience with something similar”– beautiful.
ALEX: Yeah. Thank you.
LAURA: Absolutely.
ALEX: Thank you Laura. Thank Human Element. Thanks mom. Thanks dad.

ALEX: Thank you to the Academy. I’ll accept my awareness award now.
LAURA: Oh my gosh. We should totally–
ALEX: Awareness awards.
LAURA: I would love that.
ALEX: Our awareness coins, like I’m seven months self-aware.
LAURA: Oh. That’s pretty good.
ALEX: Awareness coins.
LAURA: Oh, gosh. We’d have to think about what does it mean to have a setback, right? ‘Cause if you’re an alcoholic and you’re in recovery and then you have a drink…
ALEX: Yeah.
LAURA: ‘Cause I mean I have those days where I’m like this is not–
ALEX: Yeah.
LAURA: –not a great day for self-awareness.
ALEX: Yeah. That one day when you came in my room and you’re like–

ALEX: “Aghh.” You’re like, “I don’t care–”
LAURA: I don’t know what you’re talking about, Alex. Yeah. No. I am definitely–
ALEX: It’s like it’s alright. You get a free pass.
LAURA: And that’s, so that’s really cool. Alex is talking about an example, or not, yeah a real example that happened in the last month, maybe, where I was getting really worked up. I was feeling very angry. I was actually very proud of how I handled the interaction itself.
ALEX: Oh you did.
LAURA: But Alex was the witness for all of the behind the scenes, like, you know kind of feeling. But I, I was still kind of self-aware in the moment.
ALEX: You were.
LAURA: Not even kind of. I was self-aware in the moment. I said, “I’m super defensive right now. I’m feeling angry about this. This is not respecting this for me.”
ALEX: Just because we’re aware of our defenses doesn’t mean we can’t let them happen. Sometimes it just has to happen. You gotta let it out. And I think it’s about letting it out in a controlled environment. So, it was just me so hey, we’re good.
ALEX: I’m like sitting there on my phone. I’m like, talk to me woman!
LAURA: Well and it’s always like a, it’s a recovery model not a perfection model. So, one of the things, too, I want people to understand. We’ve thrown around a couple words, um, like defenses and defensiveness. We talked about like the critic and the victim. So, all of our defenses exist for a good reason.
ALEX: Right.
LAURA: Um, we needed them when we were little and we’re fear based creatures, as humans in general, because we evolved to be. If we weren’t afraid of things, then we just wouldn’t be around anymore because we would all think that it’s a great idea to go pet that saber tooth tiger over there–

LAURA: –and then nobody’s gene’s would ever live on. So, like, the fear that we have, um, serves us up to a point and then it stops serving us.
ALEX: Right.
LAURA: And so this process of becoming more self aware, uncovering our defenses, recognizing the distortions, the way we see the world, is about that point. Recognizing like, okay, this was helpful to me before, it’s not helping me now.
ALEX: Right.
LAURA: Yeah. So, wanted to make that point about defenses. It’s only about the recovery. I don’t ever want to advocate for perfection. You know I’m a recovering perfectionist.
ALEX: You’re a recovering perfectionist, yeah. It’s your title.
LAURA: It’s one of my favorite things to call myself. Alright. Let me think. Is there anything else that you want to say about your experience with The Human Element? Or any other examples that come to mind? Any other concepts that really resonated with you? Cut [44:43]

ALEX: Yes. Oh my goodness. So, everyone listening, I want you to imagine two circles. And, like, hold up your fists and kind of stagger them. One’s down a little and one’s up. So, one is who you are right now and the other is who you want to be. So am and self. And when these circles are not aligned– you know, overlapping with each other, it creates a gap. So, you’re getting farther and farther away from who you think you want to be in, you know, your mind, in your dream world, whatever it is. So when I saw this at this time in my life, you know, I’m getting into entrepreneurship, I want to be on the stage and talking to people and have incredible influence and I’m impacting millions and have a multimillion dollar company and all this stuff that we see in the news, right? It’s exciting, it’s fun.
LAURA: Yeah.
ALEX: And I was striving to be that person and when I saw this concept, it’s like I saw me on this piece of paper. And I was like, “Alright. I gotta get these circles back together because I got a gap. Like, I’m not happy ’cause I’m not that person. I’m seeking a stage that I’m not on.”
LAURA: Yeah.

[40:06]
ALEX: And I sat there and I really thought about it and I am who I want to be. Like, I am the– I am.
LAURA: That’s awesome. Oh my god. Well, I am. You know that’s one of my favorite things, too.
ALEX: Yes.
LAURA:  So, um, and what– so what you’re describing is, you know, this is how we explain what self esteem is. Which is such a, you know, it’s such– like I kind of even want to roll my own eyes at self esteem. It’s like, “Oh, self esteem. Such a cliché thing for a psychologist to talk about.”
ALEX: Right.
LAURA: Um, but it’s completely real. Um, and I whole-heartedly believe that an organization filled with people who have genuinely high self esteem is going to be way more productive than organizations filled with people who have lower self esteem or mixed self esteem levels. So, um, yeah, those two circles, right?
ALEX: Yeah.
LAURA: So, one of the things I’m just kind of giving like the background, context, to what you just said.
ALEX: Yes. Please do. Please do.
LAURA: Because when you really oversimplify and think about self esteem, if I want to increase my own self esteem and I’ve got these two circles, you know, that how I see myself today and how I want to be, so I can work on being a better person, whatever that is. I can try to move that circle over or I can take this ideal that I have in my mind, this expectation I have for myself, this person that I want to be, and I can also lower it.
ALEX: Right.
LAURA: And that usually freaks people out. ‘Cause I’ve told people this. I say, “One of the ways that I’ve become more effective is I’ve lowered my expectations for myself.” And they’re like, “What?! Don’t ever do that!” You know?
LAURA: And it’s like, no. Like I’m not– ‘Cause you don’t– you didn’t lose your dream.
ALEX: No. It made my dream better.
LAURA: Yeah. You still totally have your dream and your future vision and all of that–
ALEX: Yeah.
LAURA: –but it doesn’t, you’re not focused on, on the gap that exists because you’re actually like, “You know what? I’m pretty badass right now.”
ALEX: Yeah.
LAURA: Like, I’m awesome right now.
ALEX: Right.
LAURA: So, if I  if I can lower my own expectations for myself, then I can feel a lot better about who I am. It’s a way for me to be more okay with all of my flaws and my imperfections, because oh my god there are so many and like there always will be. And the more accepting I can be of all of those things, the better I feel about myself, the easier it is for me to be self accountable. And if I screw something up and you’re like, “Oh Laura, here’s some feedback for you,” I’m like, “Oh, shoot. Okay thanks. Good point.”
ALEX:  Right.
LAURA: Versus being like, “No! You’re wrong.” Or, “Well, that’s just because of this!” Like I used to be a super defensive person as well. Oh my god. I didn’t ever want to do anything wrong, ever. It’s perfectionist. It was like–
ALEX: Right.
LAURA: –the worst news in the world. It’d be soul crushing because that ideal was always seemingly out of reach.
ALEX: Right. So my ideal was just too out of reach so I brought it down and then I really, just like I said, I realized that all these things I have in my head, like, they’re here. They’re happening. And I, and I want to be happy. ‘Cause I just, I, I– even though I thought I was happy, I wasn’t happy.
LAURA: Yeah.
ALEX: And I never thought I had, you know, self-esteem issues, or being confident in myself and who I am but I self-inflicted that on, on myself ’cause, as you teach us, humans are hard on themselves.
LAURA: Yeah.
ALEX: And I think it’s great intentions. We wanna be someone. We wanna have purpose and we wanna create impact in this world. We don’t wanna just be a Joe Shmoe.
LAURA: Right.
ALEX: Um, so I definitely self inflicted those insecurity issues on myself. So, just seeing that small concept made a profound impact on my life.
LAURA: Yeah. There are so many things about this work that are really counter intuitive. Like you, like you were just saying. You know, we have good intentions or we think that it’s the productive and effective thing to do to like, I wanna beat myself up or, you know, if I make a mistake.

LAURA: You know, or I’m gonna have really, really high expectations for myself and like nothing that I do is ever good enough because if I think that I’m okay with myself then I’ll become complacent. We have all these stories we tell ourselves about it and it’s just not true. It’s not real.
ALEX: Yeah.
LAURA: When I lower my expectations for myself, there’s no part of me that, like, stops working or manifesting. Right? Like, not even a little bit. It’s actually easier. So it’s—um, you know paradox theory becomes super relevant. This idea of self acceptance and self improvement. People often think of them like they’re on opposite ends of the continuum, but they’re not. They’re actually, it’s like an x, Alex: graph. Right? And so what you’re looking for is high self acceptance and high self improvement. You want to hang out in that upper right quadrant. I’m gesturing.. like nobody can see me.
ALEX: No one can see us.

LAURA: So, it’s actually easier for me to make improvements to myself when I already feel good about myself. Because I’m not beating myself up. I’m not in that rigid, defensive place where I’m trying to protect against that feeling that the gap creates and I don’t like it. I actually, I feel pretty great about myself and my brain is more open. Blood is literally flowing to the parts of my brain that enable creativity and generation of ideas and learning. I can learn so much easier when I’m not beating myself up.

ALEX: So, thinking back after I learned this concept. When I lowered my expectations, it allowed me to really, like, amplify what I had on my current plate and my creativity, yeah, it boosted.
LAURA: That’s awesome.
ALEX: That’s right after Human Element is when I pivoted my company to what it is for myLoop, what it is right now. And it’s incredible. And I feel like there’s no way, like, I would have been able to get there until I really realized myself and that it’s okay where I’m at. It’s actually amazing.

[51:30]
LAURA: It’s amazing.
ALEX: It’s amazing.
LAURA: It’s that, it’s that taking credit thing.
ALEX: I was just–

ALEX: –you literally read my mind. I was just about to say the taking credit concepts.
LAURA: Yeah. Okay, tell us about the taking credit concepts and then maybe we’ll stop introducing concepts–

LAURA: –’cause it’s, we could talk about that for hours and our listeners are gonna be like, “Oh my god, what?”
ALEX:  this stuff. This work is amazing.
LAURA: I know. So, let’s, let’s talk about taking credit.
ALEX: Alright. So, taking credit, it’s a really great segue. So as we were saying, humans are really hard on ourselves. We’re always just saying, “I gotta do the next thing, the next thing, the next thing,” and we don’t see what’s right in front of our nose and what we did. So, taking credit, it’s not about– I’m not taking credit and bragging or boasting. It’s just saying, “Wow. I’m really proud of myself. I did something that day.” So, I mean the example that running a mile. If you want to run 10 miles but one day you only run one mile. Take credit for that–
LAURA:  Yeah.
ALEX: –because you’re working toward your goal. Just ’cause you didn’t run the 10 the first time, that’s an incredible accomplishment.
LAURA: Yeah.
ALEX: You did it. You’re working towards that greater purpose, that greater goal.
LAURA: Absolutely. And I wanna highlight something that you just said. So, it’s not, it’s not about bragging. Because when I think about bragging or being boastful, that tends to be with this intention or connotation of I’m comparing myself to other people, which, ugh. Like, no.
ALEX: I haven’t done that–
LAURA: That one-upper, like “Oh man I ran three miles today” and I’m like, “Well, I ran 10.” Like, who likes that person, right?

LAURA: In that moment you’re like, “Shut up.” Oh my god.
ALEX: Whatever.
LAURA: So, that’s absolutely not what it’s about. And, at the same time, like flip that around for a second. So, I started running –I’m gonna use running because it’s real for me– like three and a half years ago. I was never a runner before that. I hated running with a passion, actually. Um, but I decided that I really wanted to get into it and running, even running a mile without stopping to walk was something that I hadn’t done in years. I hadn’t done it since I was like on the tennis team in high school which was a few years ago.

LAURA: And um, and so the idea of like, you know I’m gonna take credit for that and I don’t want to feel bad about the fact that running a mile without walking is no big deal for a lot of people in this world. Like who cares?
ALEX: Right.
LAURA: Like, comparison is the thief of happiness. I don’t care that a lot of people run marathons and they run the whole time and they never walk. If it’s something that was progress for me, it was something that was, something that maybe I couldn’t do yesterday but I could do today, so it represents my own progress, my journey, or it took courage, to go back to this idea of openness. If I was more open today than I was yesterday, I want to take credit for that too. So, anything that requires courage or hard work or progress, that’s what taking credit is all about. And it speaks to that, um, self-acceptance piece. Instead of going, “I ran one but I wanna run 10 and therefore it’s not enough–”
ALEX:  It’s like, “I ran one today. That’s awesome.”
LAURA: Yeah. Absolutely.
ALEX: I think, too, it’s about the tone.
LAURA: Totally.
ALEX: Tone of voice. And that’s something I’ve been working on very adamantly lately ’cause I think tone of voice is like the door to your conversations. Imagine if I was like, “Laura, you feel like–” It’s not as inviting, right?
LAURA: Right.
ALEX: But if I was like, “Hey, Laura!”
LAURA: Yeah.
ALEX: It’s very inviting. So I feel like–
LAURA: Absolutely.
ALEX: –the tone is like, you got one shot.
LAURA: It’s huge.
ALEX: So–
LAURA: I mean, it’s the energy. It’s the energy that exists. I mean the vast majority of communication is not the words that we say. Tone’s a huge part of it. Body language–
ALEX: Body language.
LAURA: –is a huge part of it.
ALEX: Yeah.
LAURA: Yeah. Tone can completely change the meaning of words.
ALEX: Absolutely.
LAURA: That’s what makes texting and email so much fun.
ALEX: The worst.

LAURA: At least we have like emojis now.
ALEX: I know.
LAURA: And there’s Voxer. Voxer helps.
ALEX: I’m gonna tell everyone to Voxer me from now on. I love it. Thank you for showing me.
LAURA: I mean– you’re welcome. I mean, if you’re in a place where you can speak, Voxer is great. If you don’t know what Voxer is, it’s like a walky-talky app. Check it out.
ALEX: Yeah. It’s awesome.
LAURA: See, but look at us. We’re totally going to get endorsed* *[inaudible 55:10]. Doritos, Voxer. What was the other one?
ALEX: We were talking about manifesting but we’ll make that a company.
LAURA: There was another–

LAURA: There was something else. Alright. Well, this has been, um, a really, really awesome conversation. Thank you so much for taking the time to give some examples. I know it’s vulnerable, even to come onto a show like this and share about, you know, pre-Human Element Alex and–
ALEX: Yeah.
LAURA: –the progress that you’ve made is something that I know that you’re proud of. And I’m also proud of you.

[56:01]
ALEX: Thank you. That means a lot. Yeah, I, I love– thank you for having me. I love talking about all the deepest steps of my life, ’cause I really hope that, you never know who’s listening and it might impact someone’s perspective or life or make them want to start their journey. So, I’m all about vulnerability, as you know.

ALEX: And awareness and, um, I think it makes us who we are. I love when people are willing to, you know, share their stories with me too because it invites me in. So, this was an amazing experience.
LAURA: It’s authentic.
ALEX: Yeah.
LAURA: Awesome.
ALEX: Her favorite word.
LAURA: It is.
ALEX: Well, there’s like 10 other words.

LAURA: Cool. Well, thank you Alex.
ALEX: Yeah. Thanks.
LAURA: Outro: If you want to learn more about The Human Element, please go to Keytalentsolutions.com/humanelement or email me at Laura@gallaheredge.com. We have a rare public offering of The Human Element coming up in January of 2018 – January 22-26, so consider joining us – this is for courageous leaders who are determined and excited to create a remarkably incredible culture – the kind of culture that is a genuine competitive advantage.

Thanks for listening to the show. Since you’re still here, I’d love to ask for a favor – would you please rate this show on iTunes? It’s one of the best ways to help others find the show, and I’d love to get this message out to as many people in the world as possible. Also, maybe you want to send this episode to somebody that you think could benefit from listening. Thanks for all your support….we’ll talk again soon.

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