Mastery Under Pressure with Tina Greenbaum

Building your emotional stamina through peak performance training


Tina Greenbaum

Tina Greenbaum

Tina Greenbaum works with executives who want to increase their performance level in high-stakes, high-pressure situations. An Optimal Performance Specialist and Sports Psychology
Consultant, Tina’s signature program, Mastery Under Pressure empowers leaders and their teams using cutting-edge technology, neuroscience, energy psychology, sports psychology, and current learning theory. In addition to her Mastery Under Pressure team program, Tina also works with CEOs and senior-level management as a confidential ‘Thera-Coach’ on a one-to-one basis. Her expertise in guiding executives through their psychological and personal issues helps her clients cope with the demands that their personal struggles place on them as they strive to be atop their sector. As she likes to say, “The only thing standing between you and your goals is…you.”

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Read the Interview

Hugh Ballou: Greetings, this is Hugh Ballou. Welcome to The Nonprofit Exchange. Every week, we interview a guest who is knowledgeable about nonprofit work, leadership, business skills and strategies, someone who is experienced in the world of leading organizations and the multiple things that go along with that. Today, we are talking to you in the middle of the pandemic, where we are having to reinvent reality. Reinventing reality certainly means mastery under stress, under pressure.

We are talking to Tina Greenbaum today about her expertise in the area. A book she has out, and lots of other wisdom. Tina, welcome to The Nonprofit Exchange. Tell people about you.

Tina Greenbaum: Thank you for inviting me. I’m delighted to be here. I am a psychotherapist by training. I started 37 years ago, and I learned very early on that my traditional psychotherapy training was insufficient to help the young women I was working with. They were a population of women with eating disorders. At that time, nobody had ever treated eating disorders. They gave us a book that said “Alcoholism,” but they crossed it out, replaced it with “Eating Disorders,” and said “Go.” Just talking was not going to help them. They were bright and creative, but they weren’t changing. I would say to them, “I hear you, but I don’t feel you. If I don’t feel you, you won’t change.”

Intuitively, I needed to get below the neck. That’s what I do. We are a universe here. We are a whole body literally and figuratively of information that can guide this mind/body connection. Over the years, I have developed and trained how to get under the conscious mind because that is where change happens. That is where a lot of my skill comes from.

Hugh: You and I have been around a few years, and we have seen a few things come and go. Sometimes people in our generation are retired. You could choose to do that. So could I. Why do you do this kind of work you’re doing now?

Tina: I was asked in a training maybe 10-15 years ago, “How old were you when you started to help people?” I have always had an inclination, insight, intuition in how to help people. I thought it was common sense. Common sense was as logical to me as anything. How do you not know it? It’s right in front of you. I never knew it was actually a gift. As I began to train and get more knowledge in terms of using this gift, I found that I was able to help more people. I don’t know about you, but that’s probably one of the most satisfying things in the world. Old clients and others come back to me. I spoke to one of my clients who is now in Paris. I have known her for maybe 15 years. Just on and off, she comes and goes. She’s like one of my kids. Why would I stop doing that?

Hugh: It’s like disowning your children. I see that. I am in the same space. When people say to me, “What you said made a huge difference,” we impact people’s lives who impact other people’s lives. That keeps me going. That’s probably the greatest value that I receive.

Your book is Mastery Under Pressure. That is the theme we are talking about today. Talk about how the idea of the book started. Why did you want to write the book? Who is going to read it?

Tina: Very interesting question. I have always wanted to write a book. I thought it was out of my reach. I thought certain people wrote books. A number of years ago, I moved into Manhattan and went to a women’s networking organization. There was this stunning French woman there who said, “You have to come to this next meeting. I am speaking about this thing I developed and created. I have my book.” I wonder what she did that was so amazing. I came next time, and she is dressed to the nines. She has her ghostwriter and marketing director and lots of books lined up. I am listening to what she is talking about. If you weren’t in my field, you wouldn’t know it perhaps. I knew where she got everything from; there was nothing original in there. She has the book, the ghostwriter, the marketing team. But I had knowledge.

How could I put that together and get the word out? I just started following my nose, taking business coaching courses, finding out how I could scale. I wanted to be able to have as much impact as I possibly could. The book is a wonderful way of doing that and sharing. If people can’t work with me individually or in my groups, they can get all the information in the book.

Hugh: It is a worthy journey, writing a book. I wrote my first book in 2004/2005. I have 10 in print and e-books and 10 online programs. Each one has been a journey of clarity for me. You and I met at a business growth conference. How many years ago was that?

Tina: Maybe about five.

Hugh: Then we didn’t connect for a while. All of a sudden, here we are talking again. I am impressed by what you are doing and what you have done, especially in this area you’re talking about. It’s relevant today. I believe you and I talked about in your studies that you studied the work of Murray Bowen.

Tina: Yes.

Hugh: My studies there let me see how my own anxiety is contagious. We see a lot of that. When the leader is anxious, it spreads instantly. Murray Bowen was a psychiatrist, MD, who was in family therapy, but he started looking at the trends he saw and developed eight concepts of leadership. He wrote essays about it. Roberta Gilbert is still my coach, and she is very experienced in writing more books, but she was a colleague of Murray Bowen and put them into systems. That has been some of the most important leadership perspective and self-management tools I have ever learned. Learning about self, I am a conductor. What the orchestra sees is what I get. There is a lot of responsibility and self-awareness in leadership. Talk about this pressure. How do we master ourselves?

The chapters are interesting, “Overcoming Negative Thinking,” “Meditation,” “How We Create Change,” “Why This Work is So Hard to Do Alone.” The chapters are spot-on for what we need to do to get from negative thinking to productive thinking. What do you hope people will do as a result of the inspiration they get from your book?

Tina: I am basically a teacher at heart. What I learned, and I continue to see this day in and day out, is good mental health is not a natural sport. It’s a learned sport. Everything I have in my book are things we can learn and teach. I had great parents, but they didn’t know a lot of the things I have learned and studied. Hopefully, I have been able to pass this on to my children. I am watching one of my sons raise my grandson with so many of the concepts that he is learning innately from this really early age. Most of us haven’t. I was always inspired by people who would come in and know about their mother, father, sister, brother. They could tell me all kinds of insight, but they didn’t know how to change. They didn’t know how to stop the voice that just keeps going.

What I say is not new. It’s common knowledge, but it’s not common practice. Everything you said—focus, relaxation, meditation, dealing with negative self-talk, how to visualize, dealing with fear—are all things we can learn how to manage in a way that is a step above the way we typically react. The brain is designed to be on alert. It’s designed for danger. The amygdala is 365 days a year, 24 hours a day picking up information. It’s this massive computer that records everything. We have big traumas, like a car accident or a pandemic or a big loss. But we also have thousands of little traumas that in the experience of our lives, we lose a boyfriend, we lose something or someone we care about. There are these processes going on. If we don’t know how to move through them, they get stuck in the brain. That is what PTSD is all about. It’s frozen material that is not processed. In the field of psychology, mental health, personal growth, there are so many things to learn that you could do. A little flip of the way you phrase or think about something can change your life.

Hugh: In the case of leaders, connecting the dots with what you were talking about, you talk about peak performance. Managing self is where I was going with the Bowen stuff. It’s really important to learn how we impact other people by how we speak, how we show up, and how we lead. I am surprised at how many people blame others for situations that they actually cause and set up. How do we become more self-aware as leaders?

Tina: You used the operative word: to become aware. The term “mindfulness” is a buzz word, but it’s a practice that is thousands of years old. The definition of it is “being aware in the present moment without judgment.” The “without judgment” is a big phrase. I could notice that I opened up my mouth and said something stupid. I am giving a speech, and someone is sitting there on the phone and not paying attention. All of those thoughts that come up, if we don’t notice them, they hijack us, and we start reacting as if they are the truth. The first thing is to notice. I notice. I notice. I notice.

When we notice enough, we can write it down in a journal. We are going to begin to see our patterns. I notice when this person gets in front of me, I get triggered. When that person is in front of me, I am really calm. What is it about them? What is it about this? It’s being curious. We spend thousands of hours in leadership studying business and strategies.

I have a little triangle in the talk that I give. Your competitive edge is this level of self-awareness and self-mastery. Great leaders can see things before anyone else sees them. They can see how they will unfold. You said this earlier: you notice your anxiety would spread. We call it presence. It’s a level of presence. The more work that you do on yourself, and the more authentic and clear and vulnerable you allow yourself to be, the more people are attracted to you. Your energy is calm and clear. Even in a great crisis, that great leader can calm the waters. For me, without doing that personal work, I don’t know how you can really get to the hard places and live the potential that you have personally.

Hugh: I see what you’re talking about. I have seen it in 32 years of working with entrepreneurs and nonprofit leaders. We set out because we have a vision. Entrepreneurs are great. We just jump off the diving board and hope there is water down there.

Tina: Done it a couple times myself.

Hugh: I have been asked before: Do all you entrepreneurs suffer from insanity? I say, “Heck, no, we enjoy it.” There is a necessary prerequisite. We are visionaries. You hit the nail on the head when you said leaders live in the future. We forecast things. Instead of saying why, we say why not. We find a vacuum and create something to fill it. Unfortunately, we don’t always have the tools to do it.

I can see that this would be a necessary book for any leader to have on their shelf. You talked about self-awareness. Those are blind spots. There is a reason they are called blind spots. Chapter three of your book is “Why This Work is So Hard to Do Alone.” You talked about vulnerability, like Brené Brown does. You talked about how we attract. James Allen, in his book As a Man Thinketh, says, “We don’t attract what we need; we attract what we are.” SynerVision is about the synergy of the common vision in our team. How do we build this team that will help us be better? We can’t see all these things. How do we create a system that is safe and will empower us rather than help us?

Tina: It’s a great question. You may identify this; I certainly can. Because of this gift or natural ability that I have, which is emotional intelligence, our great leaders are highly emotionally intelligent. I know from my life, I would say I tick, and everybody else tocks. For me to find my tribe, my people, this has not been an easy task honestly. I have moved to places in search of people who I can relate to. I look for people who are winners, people who I can aspire to be, they have achieved something that I want. I study them. I follow them. I may read about them. Even when we are talking about career searches, I said to someone yesterday, “Find the people who are doing what you want to be doing, and interview them. Ask them how you got here. What are your secrets?” People love to talk about themselves. Many times, when you ask people, they will do it.

I also listen to people’s language. Within a couple of minutes, I can tell whether anybody has done personal growth work or not. What you see is what you get. They don’t bring themselves down, but they talk about their struggles or bad decisions. People don’t pretend. If you’re sensitive to your surroundings, you feel good around them. You like them. You want to be around them. You want to have conversations with them. I love deep conversations. That is one of the things that gets me more excited than just about anything. I will start a conversation, even at a networking event. Someone will ask a good question or be thoughtful in a way, and I will want to know more. I’ll want to hang out with them.

The other thing is I take my time in building that level of trust. This is how I got myself into trouble financially with some of the businesspeople I invested in. They had great ideas and were great salespeople. They were charismatic and taking me along for the ride. But I needed to be more discerning. I needed to take some time to find out who else has been successful with them, and interviewing people. Good intuition is a great hunch. I am very intuitive, but I have learned that it is not the rule. I couldn’t go in there and say to you, “I know exactly what you’re thinking” because I don’t. I have to ask you: Is this what you might be thinking? Are we on the same page? There is a lot of skill that comes in in terms of communication. If you want to find people you want to hang out with, look for the people who are doing the things that you aspire to do and who inspire you.

Hugh: That’s great. Does that work equally as well for introverts and extroverts?

Tina: Yes, it does. Introverts have their own measure of who they trust. I have three sons. One of them is very much an introvert. It takes him a long time. He is not only an introvert, but he also has that genius mentality of being a sound engineer and music producer. If I thought I didn’t find my tribe easily, it’s not very easy for him. Who do you aspire to be? How did they get there? The first time he brought around a bunch of his friends from the sound studio, he said, “Mom, they’re just like me.” He still struggles with it: to find that group who are just like him. But they’re there. People are out there. You have to be willing to be proactive and find them.

Hugh: And listen. That is an underutilized skill. It is implied in what you were saying about interviewing people, but it is an active listening you are using there.

You speak a little bit about “The only thing standing between you and your goals is you.” That is a sobering thought. Talk about that.

Tina: My little marketing team went back and forth about: Is that too negative? Are people going to run away from it? But it’s the truth. Is it yourself or people who you know who have not gotten as far as you think they should or you expect that they would? I would venture to say they have not done that level of personal growth work. What I mean by personal growth work is becoming aware of those blind spots. Everyone else knows them. Wouldn’t you want to know what yours are, too?

Once you have a sense of how they show up, where they show up- I’ll give you an example. Because I am the person who I am, and I really am very strongly akin to justice, I don’t like to see injustice. In my younger years, I would get myself into a lot of trouble. I would open up this mouth, “I can’t believe it. How could you do this? Don’t you see that?” to my son’s soccer coaches.

I had a coach who was my first spiritual teacher. He gave me a name, “Tina in the Middle.” I could get myself in the middle of just about anything and get myself or my children or other people who were connected to in a lot of trouble. I had to become aware of when she showed up. What are those situations that make me vulnerable? I could insert myself in a way I don’t belong. I started to recognize what it felt like. I am a very big proponent of mind/body connection. We have a universe here that gives us information. When we are anxious, the body gets tight. I would listen to a conversation and want to jump in. I could feel this urge, “Don’t you want to hear what I have to say?” Tina in the Middle would come in and say, “Pause. Stop. Ask yourself, ‘What would happen if you opened up your mouth? What are the consequences of you saying something? Have you checked out the situation carefully enough?’” I used that pause to stop for a moment and think.

The body reacts. Our natural thing is to react. The whole thing about improving your ability to tolerate stress is what I call enlarging this window of tolerance. I used to call it a buffer, but there is a professional term of the window of tolerance. Here comes stress. Here is my capacity to hold stress. Once I hit my nervous system’s capacity, then comes the stress response. The muscles tighten. We start to get anxious. We can’t think really clearly. Nanoseconds later, the thought comes in. My work is all about increasing this window of tolerance. Here comes the stress. It’s just another problem. There is something we need to solve. That is the crux of the mastery under pressure and building the skill to be able to do that.

Hugh: When I started studying Bowen systems 10 years ago, I knew it all. I had it down. My wife and I went to seminars. After a while, one pivot was dealing with conflict. It was exactly what you are talking about. I just avoided it. That is what leaders do. One sector I work with is clergy, and they are famous for avoiding conflict. It festers, and what was minor becomes nuclear. The calm conscious presence. Staying out of the emotion and staying in the thinking is key. My experience with therapists is “How does it make you feel?” Bowen’s perspective is, “Let’s think about this.” Feel it, but our brain gets flooded with emotion.

Tina: It does.

Hugh: Your work is leading people to what you call peak performance. All of these are tools and knowledge builders. Napoleon Hill interviewed 500 leaders who Andrew Carnegie introduced him to. Some of these common traits in these successful people were they had a positive mental attitude. They failed all the time. That is a qualifier I take. People introduce me as an expert because I have made more mistakes than anyone else. I have had more time to do that and learn from them and correct them.

Talk about your founding principles. Expound on what you mean by principles. In your approach to peak performance, what are those founding principles, and why do they matter?

Tina: The founding principles are teaching skills. Skills are like any other thing that you need to learn. They require practice and repetition. There is a wonderful book called The Talent Code. He went around the world and studied great performers, great athletes, tennis players, musicians, and he pulled out what was true about the greats. They all had a great coach, which I thought was an interesting thing. They all had a tolerance for failure. They all had a willingness to go back over and over again.

You as a conductor and musician, how many times do you go over the phrase? What’s working? What’s not working? What do I need to change? Not everyone has the willingness to work at that level. That separates the people who do. As you are learning these skills, you are building new neural pathways in the brain. The more you repeat and self-correct what didn’t work- I had a presentation to give this afternoon. I am standing here in my office going over it and over it. I get stuck there. How do I do that? It’s like music, going from one phrase to the next phrase. How do I get from this idea to the next idea with ease? It’s a willingness to keep going back over and over again, to be self-aware, to be self-critical, not in the sense of saying you’re bad, but noticing what didn’t work. That is a basic principle. These are skills.

It is a mind and body experience. You need to quiet down the body so the mind can be clear. That’s the window of tolerance. The way we do that is focus and relaxation through meditation, mindfulness, and breathing. Getting this system quiet so that in an instant, when you start to recognize the body is getting tense, I can go back to that breath. I can go back to my body, my center, and I can ground myself and start again. Then going up into the mind and recognizing belief systems. What are the ones I want to hold onto? What are ancient that I picked up from someone? What are my biases? We are talking a lot about racial bias right now. We can bring them into awareness. Do I still believe this? Do I want to carry this on or not?

The other thing that is important is a lot of people talk about positive thinking. I want to give a talk one day about how positive thinking is highly overrated. I say that because I can say, “I’m going to be fabulous.” But if I don’t have all the other ingredients, my conscious and unconscious mind, my belief systems, if they are not all in alignment, it’s not going to happen.

I like to use the phrase “productive thinking.” Do my thoughts produce something useful for me? If I am getting into one of my negative spirals, where does that take me? Does that produce something useful? No, it takes me down a spiral and puts me into a place where I will be down in the dumps. Not helpful.

If I made a mistake, how can I make this thought into something useful for me? Well, I want to do great. I feel bad. Why do I feel badly? This person was looking at their phone. Is that really a reflection on me? Everyone else was listening. You expand. You bring things into context so that you can learn from them. Constantly learning.

Hugh: The book you were talking about, The Talent Code, is by Daniel Coyle.

Tina: I love it. There is a regular book, and there is a short version of 25 things of what you need to do in order to create talent.

Hugh: There is also a list of 52 things, and there are a few versions of this book. That’s fascinating. You triggered a lot of questions, but I don’t have time to deal with them all. There is a lot of consistency in what we teach in SynerVision and what you’re talking about, taking charge of your thoughts. Bob Proctor, a great leadership speaker, talks about the mind and body. He also talks about the conscious mind programming our subconscious mind. Talk about what you mean by the mind/body connection a little bit more.

Tina: If I go back to my example of Tina in the Middle, when that would happen, I would start to get a certain feeling. My body starts to give me information. Or there is another example I use about let’s imagine you were afraid of dogs. Your peripheral vision picks up a dog. The body will go into the stress response. Nanoseconds later, the mind will say, “Dog.” It behooves us to start to understand how our body speaks to us.

Bessel van der Kolk who is the father of talking about PTSD from a mind/body connection, his book is The Body Keeps the Score. There is a form of therapy called somatic therapy where you begin to start to become aware of how your body responds to certain situations.

I don’t like to be controlled. I don’t know anybody who does, but it really is why I worked for myself for 37 years. I haven’t worked for anybody. When I feel like I’m being controlled, or I am being blocked, I will get it in my neck. I will feel my neck and shoulders tighten up. All I have to do is notice this. Then I start to look around. Where am I blocked? Where do I feel out of control? These two things speak to each other all the time. It’s a shortcut. Oh, I get it. This person blew me off, or whatever. This relationship takes time to recognize because you have to become aware. What am I noticing? When so-and-so speaks to me, I always get angry. What is it about that? What happens in me? We have a greater book to use. We become so much more expansive when we bring in the body and mind together and learn individually how you work, not how I work, not how Hugh works, but how you work.

I had a client who was a friend who had three older brothers. When she would feel stressed, she would feel it in her legs. She would be running away from her brothers. When she would get scared, she would run. That was her insight and piece of self-knowledge. When I feel that way, I am feeling scared. Then we can figure out what to do about it.

Hugh: Not letting that emotion get triggered is what I’m hearing you say. You said a nanosecond later, but sometimes it takes a little longer to be aware of what that reality is. God puts people in our lives to test us and to teach us. A book on antagonists talks about how we can’t treat them the same way. Bowen talks about the focused child. In psychology, it’s the identified patient. In Julia Cameron’s book The Artist’s Way, there is the crazymaker. These people are about attracting attention to themselves. There is a discernment moment there.

Tina: We can’t always stop the trigger. I want people to understand that. That is where the training comes in. Helping people really be able to bring it down. It’s like an emotional signature, an energetic signature in the cells. It’s not always easy to stop the trigger. When we do this other work, we may notice we don’t get triggered. You can’t go directly to it. We have to learn all the signs about the way our mind and body operate. That used to drive me crazy, but it’s not getting me anymore. That comes from this level of work.

You said something else that was great. This is a really wonderful thing. I didn’t make this up, but I use it all the time. When someone triggers me, because the first thing we want to do is blame, the less evolved brain wants to blame. Let’s just say I notice that this person triggers me. The question you want to ask is: What is it about them that triggers this in me? As opposed to, “Oh God, if only they would do this.” What is it about them that triggers this in me? It’s an operative question that opens up a universe.

Hugh: Asking questions is a good leadership skill. Are you open to our audience asking questions?

Tina: Of course.

Hugh: Before that, I want to ask you about meditation and why it’s so important. *Sponsored by Wordsprint*

Tina: Meditation works on many levels. Meditation is focused concentration. It doesn’t matter what you focus on. It could be a pen. It could be a word. It could be a sound. When you focus on this one thing, it quiets down the left side of the brain, the chatter side of the brain. It opens up the right side, the creative side. Ideas come in and flow.

What happens at the same time is it also quiets down that part of the brain, the amygdala, that is on alert all the time. It creates neural pathways to the prefrontal cortex, which is the executive branch of the brain. Great leaders have this highly developed. That’s only a little bit. So many wonderful things happen in meditation. You meditate. You turn around and say, “Nothing is happening. Nothing is happening.” My day looks really good, or I feel grounded. It has lots of benefits.

Hugh: It’s so important to work on self. Jim Rohn was known to write about and speak about working on yourself harder than you work on your enterprise. It’s always working on yourself that is important. We have a hand up from my friend and author of Philanthropy Misunderstood, Bob Hopkins.

Bob Hopkins: I am enjoying this a lot. I talked to Hugh this morning and asked who your speaker was. He told me about you a little bit. He said, “You don’t have to come, Bob, because you’re always there.” I am at an age when I am ready to learn. How’s that?

Tina: I love it.

Bob: I am looking at the title of your book, which intrigued me because I didn’t know what it meant. Is it how to keep control when you’re just about to go crazy?

Tina: I think that’s a really great definition of it. Yes, and at the same time, you will become less crazy if you do the work ahead of time and train your body and mind to be in a calmer state. When something comes along that would typically drive you up the wall, it doesn’t.

Bob: A second question, but first a comment. I teach college. Most of my students are minorities, students of color, because I teach community college right now. I love it because I am able to say so many things they haven’t heard before about how to live life, and they love that.

Communications. I am very curious about self-esteem. What is it, and how do people get it? As opposed to what my book says that you do to get it, such as looking in the mirror and talking about how wonderful you are.

Tina: That is one of those things about positive thinking. I’m terrific…

Bob: The name of my book is Philanthropy Misunderstood. I understand more what philanthropy can do for you and what philanthropy can do you mostly is to give you self-esteem.

Tina: This is the way I think about self-esteem or confidence. They are intimately connected. It comes from little successes. When I get to the place where I can have my own nonprofit, exactly what I want to do is work with kids, teenagers, who don’t know these skills. If we do one thing, going back to the talent code, if we do one thing and succeed, or if we change the way we talk to someone and get a different reaction, we have other skills. We learn how to communicate. We learn how to say things that people respond to. They hear us. We’re not getting into arguments. That builds that kernel of self-esteem. I can navigate my way. Confidence in a sport, confidence in music, feeling good about yourself. In my opinion, it’s there to be had, but you have to work at it in some way to manifest it to become alive.

Bob: Have you ever heard of Dr. Doug Lawson?

Tina: No.

Bob: He wrote the book Give to Live, which is where I got this first idea 25 years ago that giving is helping a person become. That’s my focus. I am anxious to have your book. I will figure out how to get it, and I am sure I will be teaching out of it someday.

Tina: Thank you.

Hugh: Bob always has really great comments and questions. Thank you for being here. He delayed his horseback riding trip to listen to you. Does anyone else have a question? Burke?

Burke Franklin: You are talking about working on ourselves versus working on our businesses, which is so important. My favorite quote is by the Persian poet, Rumi, who says, “Your task is not to seek for love. Your task is to seek and find all that you built within yourself against it.” As if to say you can go out and pursue whatever you want, but if you have an inner mechanism that is repelling it, you can work all you want, and nothing will happen. You have to rid yourself of that inner thing that is repelling what it is you want and be open to it.

I have my so-called humble revision to that, which is, “Your task is not to seek love, money, success, fill in the blank. Your task is to seek and remove all that you built against it,” at least as a first step toward getting what you want. I was actually meditating and thinking about how I am repelling money. I could feel it. I can’t believe it. I am working like crazy to build this business, but my own psyche- I am pumping up my railroad hand car in my conscious mind, but my subconscious mind is a big Diesel engine train. My little conscious mind is no competition for it. I have to learn how to drive the Diesel engine and stop pumping the handcar.

Tina: That’s right. That’s the saboteur.

Burke: Someone else has a list of 10 saboteurs. Sorting out which saboteur is in action at the moment and putting them away and learning how to deal with them in a conscious way.

Hugh: You’ve probably realized that no one else has these problems.

Burke: I am the only one.

Hugh: Tina, what do you think?

Tina: Burke, you bring up a great concept. We do have these things. We know them. Over time, they show up. It’s the how to that becomes mysterious. There are lots of different ways. It frequently requires someone to help point the way and to think about it differently. We only have what we have. We see the world from this point of view. Someone else can see it from this point of view. For me, sometimes I need someone to say, “Hey Tina, look over there. You’re not seeing it.” Giving me the ways to get beyond it, to recognize it, and to make other choices.

Burke: Baby elephants are tied to a stick they can’t move. They grow up and drag these sticks and a house and a half dozen other things with them. But they don’t. It’s that learned helplessness. They could never move that thing, so they won’t even try. What I need to do is, “That never worked for me before, but I wonder if I have some learned helplessness.”

Tina: All good questions. It comes from that level of curiosity.

Burke: Let’s give a tug on that stick and see if I can move it. Maybe today, X number of years later, I can do this now. Back then, as a kid, I couldn’t. Now I can. Let’s give it a try.

Hugh: Those of us in our senior years are discovering new tactics. Tina, anything you want to comment on there before I move onto my next question?

Tina: I want to make sure people know I have a quiz on peak performance scales at Focus, relaxation, dealing with negative self-talk, how to visualize, and dealing with fear.

Hugh: We have time for another question before we have to start winding down. What do you mean when you say, “Use fear as your greatest teacher?”

Tina: I think you alluded before to what many people do in conflict. They don’t want to feel badly, so they avoid it. Our idea is to look away. If I’m scared of something, it’s scary. If we look away, we lose the message and sometimes the messenger. Let’s say I am scared of driving in the snow. I don’t go anywhere near the snow, but I love the snow, but I am afraid of driving in it. If I pay attention to the fact that I don’t go up to the mountains, that fear that is coming up about driving, what can I do about it? Can I make this a conscious choice? Can I get chains on my car? Can I take a bus? It opens up other possibilities and ideas. This is a little example.

By asking myself what I’m scared of, where is the fear coming from, what is this fear about, many times, if it’s old stuff or scary experiences or traumatic experiences, people don’t want to take a look. What I say is we know all the stuff about ourselves already. Someone like me, books that you read, we can help you uncover what you already know. By avoidance, which is the most prevalent thing people do when they’re scared, they lose an opportunity to learn. I love to ski. It’s the same thing. I was scared to go down the mountain. It helps me problem-solve.

Hugh: Those are learning opportunities. You’re moving from the superficial high of positive thinking. What is the expression? “Someone is so heavenly minded they are no earthly good.” I think there is a finite difference in what Napoleon Hill writes about with a positive mental attitude. It’s the can-do piece of that. There is a distinction in that.

I am looking at your book here. He writes about how these successful leaders had very powerful visualizations. You have two chapters on that: “The Power of Visuzliations,” and “Creating Your Visualizations,” which comes after “Transforming Fear” and “Clearing the Fears.” I am assuming these are in some sequential order that they relate to one another.

Tina: They are all related. One of the most famous things is a fear of public speaking. Not everybody is scared for the same reason. One of my sons was a great performer when he was younger, and he was running for president of the elementary school. He had a speech he was going to do, and he totally forgot it once he got on stage. He ran off the stage. I went to pick him up, and everyone asked me, “Is Scott okay?” I asked what happened. I can’t tell you how long it took him, and he is a theater major now. He is getting a Ph. D in theater performance. It took him a long time to get the willingness to get back on stage.

Other people have different stories. There are only so many themes, but there is an infinite number of variations. We want to know why you’re scared of public speaking. Deal with that fear. Let’s start little. Let’s join Toastmasters and do an icebreaker speech. Let’s build a little confidence and a little success. Let’s learn the skills of being a good public speaker. And so on. They are intimately connected, yes.

Hugh: I think a lot of, from my experience, my fears are superficial and self-manufactured. You imagine things that aren’t really there. You saw me at CEO Space, but in previous years, we had a larger forum with cameras and 500 people in the audience. In May 2007, Berny put me on the big stage. I don’t think he realized I had spent my whole career with my back to the audience.  I figured I would screw up, so I just went for it. If we spend our time dwelling on the things that might happen, that’s paralyzing. I have plenty of things that I haven’t been good at.

This has been so helpful and informative. I hope everyone rushes out to buy your book. We ought to have it on our shelves. I find really good leaders are really avid readers. They read a book more than once, one time with one highlighter, and the next time with a different color. I find I highlight different things. *Sponsored by EZCard*

Tina, what do you want to leave us with today?

Tina: People ask me all the time. If I could teach you one thing, this is the thing that guides my life. I look at a situation and say, “What’s in my control? What’s out of my control?” Very simple question, but it guides me. I just work from that place. When I think about all the things that’s happening politically, what’s in my control? I am writing postcards. I can get involved. What’s out of my control? I won’t call the election. If it’s out of my control, then I have to go inward and manage this feeling or fear. You see everything is all related. Everything we have talked about stems from that question.

Hugh: Absolutely. I learn something every week from our guests, and I have a whole list today. Tina Greenbaum, author of Mastery Under Pressure, this really great book that you should have. Thank you for sharing your wisdom and information with our tribe today.

Tina: Thank you so much for having me. It was a pleasure.


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