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Episode 53: Interview with Dr. Jennifer Goldman-Wetzler, Ph. D., Author of Optimal Outcomes and Founder + CEO of Alignment Strategies Group

As a leading conflict expert who’s worked with leaders and teams at organizations such as IBM and the United Nations, Dr. Jennifer Goldman-Wetzler, Ph. D., talks about embracing hard work, freeing yourself from conflict, resolving conflict, and ideal values vs shadow values. Currently, Dr. Goldman-Wetlzer is the Author of Optimal Outcomes and Founder + CEO of Alignment Strategies Group.

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CLAIRE: Hi everyone, I’m Claire Lew and I’m the CEO of Know Your Team, software that helps you and any new manager become a better leader. And today on The Heartbeat podcast where I interview leaders and experts from all over the world who I really admire, I have someone who is truly an absolute expert on a topic that we really haven’t exactly covered on the podcast yet. And that’s conflict. Oh, yeah. The thing that all of us run into every single day in our own team and in our workplaces. And so, I’m truly honored to have with me today Dr. Jennifer Goldman-Wetzler who is an incredible expert on conflict. She runs her own consulting practice. It’s called Alignment Strategies. And they’ve worked for the past two decades with corporate clients, everyone from IBM to Barclays to GE Capital, as well as global nonprofits. So everything from the Jazz at Lincoln Center to the United Nations.

And Jennifer, I know you got your start really actually even as a facilitator for Harvard’s Negotiation Program and also you’re an adjunct professor at Columbia. But the most exciting thing and how we actually got connected is that you just wrote a book very recently. Exactly. [Laughs] So for those of you who are watching, you can see it. But Jennifer wrote this book called Optimal Outcomes and it talks about the eight strategies that you can really employ to really overcome conflict in your own life personally, but I think for the folks who are listening here, especially in teams and in the workplace. So, Jennifer, I’ve got a million questions for you truly because if you are the foremost expert on conflict, this is something that I do actually a bit of executive one-on-one coaching with clients. This is something that comes up so much. So, really excited to dive in with you. Thanks for being here today.

JENNIFER: Thanks so much for having me.

CLAIRE: You bet.

JENNIFER: Delighted to hear your questions.

CLAIRE: Well. So, the way that this works and what I’ve been doing for the past few years in running this podcast is I ask one question to each person and it’s been the same question every single time. And so, are you ready?

JENNIFER: I’m ready.

CLAIRE: Okay. We’ll do this. So the question I’ve got for you today, Jennifer, is what is one thing, or it could be several things, that you wish you would’ve learned earlier as a leader?

JENNIFER: Well, going through this book publishing process and helping so many leaders over two decades now deal with the most difficult conflicts that they face in their professional lives, both of those experiences, one thing I can say that I wish I would’ve learned earlier on is that what comes out looking like a huge success in the end actually typically involves a lot of blood, sweat, and tears. It’s hard work. There is no replacement for hard work. And whether that’s the hard work that you do on yourself by using these eight practices that are part of the Optimal Outcomes Method that we’ll talk about or whether that’s the hard work of kind of scaling the side of your own Mount Everest, whatever that may be, whether it’s publishing a book or building a company or becoming a leader in any company that you’re in, that those things all require hard work.

CLAIRE: I almost feel implicit in your answer is the assumption then that as leaders, we have a tendency to think that if something is going to be good and the outcome is going to be good, especially when it comes to conflict, then it better be easy.

JENNIFER: Yes. [Chuckles] I think you’re right because the outcome looks easy when you have the spotlight on you and you’re on a stage or you’re shaking hands and making an agreement or you’re giving a hug because something you just got through and it worked out in your favor. That is the glory moment. And the thing is that when we’re going through the muck of the difficulty, those are not typically parts of the process that we first of all care typically to remember ourselves at the least. And often, we don’t feel comfortable sharing those with other people, but we should because they’re you. It’s part of what it means to be human. And actually so much of the first couple of chapters of the book is all about coming face to face with yourself. Meaning, I’m asking people to recognize that they are part of whatever situation they’re in, which is a double-edged sword in a way because what it means is that you have to come face to face with the role you’ve been playing in a situation that you’re not happy with. But the upside of that is that it means you personally also have the ability without anyone else’s cooperation to turn that situation around.

CLAIRE: Absolutely.

JENNIFER: You actually can free yourself from any conflict that you’re in by doing the work inside of yourself, not necessarily needing anyone else’s cooperation.

CLAIRE: Absolutely. I want to almost pause on that, that sentiment for a minute because, or actually even before we dive into that, let me comment actually on something earlier that you were saying. I love the word that you use muck. This idea that it is slow-going, that we get stuck in it, that it’s not fun and there’s no sense of ease or glory in that process. So very curious to hear sort of, I mean, this is a reflection of your own personal experiences and the consulting work that you’ve done and helping all these leaders face that muck. So I would love to hear that at some point during this conversation. But men, you opened the door on this other concept that I’ve heard you in a TEDx Talk talk about how you don’t require other people’s cooperation in order to resolve conflict. Tell me more about what you mean by that.

JENNIFER: Yes. First I have to clarify, there’s a difference between — well, in the Optimal Outcomes methodology, there’s a very, very clear difference between resolving conflict versus freeing yourself from conflict. So what I would say is if you are trying to resolve conflict, you probably have been trying to work it out with someone else. Often, trying to work it out with the same person often over and over again and getting the same result, it’s just not working. When you’re stuck in conflict, that’s typically what’s happening. You’re trying to resolve it, you want to kind of tie it up neatly with a bow and you are trying to talk or communicate with someone else to try to make that happen. And the problem is over 40 years of modern conflict research and practice and negotiation research and practice and my own 20 years of practice in the field working with real leaders and real organizations of all kinds is that it doesn’t always work. And so the question is why not and how can we then free ourselves instead? Because when I looked at, we can be banging our heads up against a wall trying the best win-win principled negotiation methodologies and they just don’t work. So I decided, “You know what? We need to have different language to talk about what to do when conflict resolution efforts fail.” So that’s why I talk about conflict freedom. How do we free ourselves? And one way to do it is to look inward first. I’m not saying that it doesn’t sometimes involve a conversation or a series of conversations because often it does with other people, but it starts with yourself.

CLAIRE: I love that distinction. Thank you so much for clarifying it, because you’ll notice even in my own language, I conflated resolving conflict with finding a way within yourself to reconcile that. And that freedom is actually quite distinct to your point, that that first step of figuring out how can I either make peace with this or even resolve it with myself is very different than actually coming to some resolution with this other person. So, I love that distinction.

JENNIFER: Thank you. I think another thing to add is that sometimes the person or a group of people we’ve been trying to resolve things with when we’re doing that over and over again and it’s not working, sometimes the answer is we have to go take a pause ourselves and so kind of look within and their methods and ways, practices I have to teach about how to do that. And then sometimes it means going back out, not necessarily to those same people. Maybe there’s other people on your conflict map. Or we can talk about what is conflict mapping.


JENNIFER: There’s other people as you widen the lens of your perspective in a situation that you go, “Oh my gosh, of course. We really need to be talking to this other group of people.” Like the other day, a client of mine said to me, he is a consultant himself and he’s helping a CEO and a board who are in conflict with each other. And it took us about two minutes of asking him to create a conflict map to see who else is actually involved here, when he realized, he took a a deep dive into the board itself and realized that there was so much conflict on the board about how to deal with and how to treat that CEO. The focus on the relationship between the CEO and the board wasn’t helpful at this moment because the board had its own stuff to be dealing with.

CLAIRE: Exactly. That zooming out — and would love to dive into the conflict map concept here in a bit — but that zooming out and that recognition of other factors that actually might be at play clarifies that situation so much for us. Can we dive a little bit, like one layer deeper though, into this notion of starting with yourself when it comes to conflict? Because I’ll tell you, whether it’s internally in the teams with the thousands of managers that we work with or executive coaching clients we have, et cetera, that is usually not the place people start when a conflict happens. So tell me a little bit about what that first step looks like and what you recommend or what you’ve seen work personally.

JENNIFER: Yes. Great question. And there are multiple places in the Optimal Outcomes practices where you can have the opportunity to take a pause and look within. I’ll start with the first one.

CLAIRE: Okay, great.

JENNIFER: The first one is to notice the pattern that you’re stuck in with other people. So, the way that we typically get stuck in conflict, I’ll use my hands here to show for people watching the video, is that we have a conflict habit. This is something that we do without thinking about it when we’re stuck in recurring conflict. And I’ll tell you what those are in a moment, there are four of them. And then other people have their conflict happen. And these conflict habits get locked in a pattern of interaction that makes it very difficult to break free from this pattern. So, the conflict is kind of going around and around in a circle, I call it the conflict loop. This is based on many years of research, 40 years. And what the whole key to becoming free is to first of all notice what are the conflict habits at play? What is the pattern that they’re in together? And then how can you break the pattern? So once you put a break in that conflict pattern, you have some space and you begin the process of becoming free. So four conflict habits, you’ll recognize them. They’re not complex. We typically blame ourselves, we blame other people, we avoid other people to the point where we shut down in the face of recurring conflict, or we relentlessly collaborate. We try and we try and we try to offer solution after solution, option after option, even if the other people involved have not been willing to cooperate with us. That last one is a bit counter-intuitive. I saw your eyes kind of light up. [laughs]

CLAIRE: It’s counter-intuitive but it’s so accurate. It was the reason I sort of went, “Oh yeah, I’ve seen that. I’ve seen that happen.”

JENNIFER: Exactly. It’s the one that nobody wants to talk about because what we are still after so many decades of saying the collaboration is where it’s at and we must collaborate, and of course we could not get the work done that we need to get done in organizations if we were not able to work cross-functionally if we were not able to collaborate. And it is so much more useful of a skill and a tool than not having that capacity. But like any muscle, if we build out one muscle to the exclusion of all others, it actually becomes a liability in the end. It becomes our limitation. And so the key is to notice what our own habits are and then ask ourselves what are the habit or habits of the other people involved in this situation so that we can identify what is the pattern we’ve got locked in. So, a very common pattern. People get locked in on a daily basis all around the world. Attack, attack. Blame, blame. I’m blaming you, you’re blaming me. We’re stuck in a blame, blame or blame and attack, blame and attack pattern.

Another very common one is I’m attacking you and you’re shutting down. So, you’re kind of running away as I continue to try to blame you for something. Very hard to “resolve” anything in that case as well. So there are a number of other very common of these patterns. And once we notice the pattern we’re in, we have the opportunity to put a break in it and to free ourselves instead. But to answer your question of how do we do the internal work, that’s the first thing is to take a pause, ask ourselves some basic questions and it does require coming face to face with who we are. It is not easy or fun necessarily to admit, ” have a blame habit. When I’m stuck in conflict, I tend to blame someone else.” That’s not always so much fun for people.

CLAIRE: Oh, no. We don’t seek that out. I was actually curious, Jennifer, what do you think is sort of been the most effective question a person can ask themselves to calibrate and come face to face with the pattern themselves?

JENNIFER: I mean, I think there are many questions. One of them that comes to top of mind is to ask yourself what is the reality of this situation? And there are three. I talked about three wishes that we all typically have in conflict situations and therefore there are three realities that are important to take into account. The three wishes are, I wish that person would just change. I wish they were different. Why do they have to do that again and again and again? It’s just killing me. So, we wish other people were different. We often wish the situation itself would just go away. Just like we’re stuck in conflict. I wish this could just go away. That’s like if we could wave our magic wand, I just want to be absolved of this entire thing. So the whole situation we wish would be different or changed. And then some of us, particularly people who have the habit of blaming ourselves, we wish we ourselves were different. So those three realities acknowledge what is the reality of this other person in my life? Who are they really? And how do I know who they are based on what they’ve told me, how they’re acting? I may not be able to change those things necessarily. Maybe I will but maybe I won’t. So it’s not about at this point trying to figure out if I can change them or not. It’s simply acknowledging the reality of how they’ve been acting, what they’ve been saying. Similarly, I may wish that this situation would just, poof! Be gone. But being able to acknowledge I am dealing with this and what do I need to do in my life to make the space to deal with it and finally who am I myself, what is my conflict habit. You’re not alone. These are four very, very common conflict habits and you’re not alone.

CLAIRE: Absolutely. Personally, I’m taking away from this conversation, this idea of really almost as a self check to ask myself, am I wishing any of those things at any moment? Am I wishing that the other person would change? Am I wishing that the situation go away or am I wishing that I were different? Because if that’s likely the case, then there’s some sort of pattern that I need to uncover that’s deeper.


CLAIRE: I think that’s brilliant. Thank you. Well, so then after we as leaders have perhaps asked those questions, figured out what are we wishing, what’s the actual reality of the situation seeing things for what they are, what’s the next step for us and freeing ourselves from conflict?

JENNIFER: The next practice is to map out the situation. So often when we’re stuck in conflict, we’ve gotten into that classic fight or flight mode where our focus sharpens, and it seems like a very black and white situation. It’s the CEO and the board, and that’s the problem. Or it’s me and Sally and that’s the problem. When actually it’s typically more complex than that. Particularly when you’ve been stuck in conflict for a long time, there are multiple factors that have caused that situation to be what it is and stuck where it is. So it’s probably more of a complex situation than you’ve imagined. So the way to map out conflict is pretty simple and it can actually only take a couple of minutes. And in fact, if people go online, there are resources, a ton of resources online at OptimalOutcomesBook.com/resources. And one of the resources, if you go to OptimalOutcomesBook.com/map, there’s actually a really cool online mapping tool so you can create your map online using this very cool tool. You can also just take out old pen and paper and doodle away. So whether you’re online or old school, pen and paper, first of all, you want to put on your map all the obvious people who are involved in this situation. So whoever first comes to mind. But then you want to challenge yourself to put at least one new person, place, event, factor on your map that you had not noticed before. This will help your thinking become much more creative. And it’s amazing to me when I see the light bulbs go off, even just after a couple of minutes of doing this exercise where people notice levers for change on that map that they just didn’t notice before doing that exercise.

CLAIRE: Absolutely. It reminds me, Jennifer, of this concept around why do managers micromanage, in the sense that they’re feeling pressure, that pressure is coming from their manager. And why is that manager feeling pressure? Oh, it’s because of their boss. And why is that VP feeling pressure? Oh, it’s because of the CEO. And why is the CEO feeling pressure? Oh, it’s because of the board. And why is the board feeling pressure? And so it’s this idea that pressure begets pressure. And so conflict, interestingly similar, that there’s so much more than what’s on the surface.

JENNIFER: What I love about that example is that if you map out exactly what you just said, the first thing that comes for me — I don’t know about people listening. The first thing that comes up for me is empathy, actually. If I can see that my manager, I am experiencing my manager is micromanaging me, but then I realized that that person’s manager’s micromanaging them or putting pressure on them and all of a sudden there’s a reason for it. So it doesn’t take away the annoyance and the frustration that I might be experiencing of having this manager treat me in a way I don’t appreciate. However, it at least helps me understand or at least tell myself a different story that gives me more empathy for what’s going on. And that’s one way that we begin to free ourselves. We begin to loosen up that tightly constricted conflict loop. It starts to kind of lose its energy a little because when we raise our empathy it’s like, “Ugh!” A little bit, a little bit dislodged, which doesn’t completely free us. But when you ask about what can we do inside of our own selves, noticing what the conflict habits are helps because they each a little bit help dislodge that self-reinforcing loop.

CLAIRE: Absolutely. I think it also reflects how much of our — and this is true for pretty much every practice of leadership — how much of what we believe is an instinctive and automatic reaction to what’s in front of us instead of a deliberate reframing and reassessment of what the reality actually could be. And the only way to see that clearer reality, to your point, is to actually start to suggest, “Well, is there something else that’s affecting this or is there another person?” I love that idea of trying to be almost creative in just suggesting that there might be another person, event, or influence that has a stake in the picture.

JENNIFER: Yes, absolutely. And what you’re talking about also makes me think about, there are different things we can do when we’re in the moment feeling a bit like a deer in headlights in a situation that’s high pressure with someone else versus what we can do when we’re not in those moments. And so obviously, conflict mapping is something that we do once a particular tough situation has passed. But there are some practices that I write about in the book, particularly around emotions where again, acknowledging how we typically deal emotionally with emotions that may be difficult for us, can help us then choose a different response even in the moment. And this takes practice. The reason why these are called practices is because we have to practice them to make them more a part of our daily repertoire and what you’re talking about or this idea of being in the moment and changing our responses is absolutely something that can take practice.

CLAIRE: Oh, you have to practice it. I mean, it’s the reason leadership is so hard is when do we get to practice it? Hardly ever. I’m so intrigued, Jennifer though, literally, I have so many questions where I’m like, you said like five things where I’m like, “Oh, we have so many directions here.” One of the things that you talked about was, I mean, you hinted at emotions and sort of finding a way to regulate them better, calibrate them better, accept them. I mean there’s a lot of things you can do. But I am curious the degree to which emotions play in freeing yourself from conflict getting in the way and keeping conflict completely mired in it and being in it. So yeah, we’d love to hear your thoughts there.

JENNIFER: It is very hard to talk about getting stuck in conflict without talking about emotions, they are so central to conflict. So I’ll say a few things. First of all, there are several different ways that we tend to deal with our emotions. I’m not going to go into them now. But I will say regardless, and they’re all in the book and they’re also online. Actually people can take an assessment into the OptimalOutcomesBook.com/assessment, you’ll find there are two assessments, the conflict habits assessment and then also the emotion traps assessment. So you can find out how you’re getting trapped with your emotions. But regardless of which of those emotion traps you tend to fall in, one of the most helpful things we can do is simply to notice what we are feeling. And there are just five universal emotions that again Dr. Paul Ekman, who’s a renowned emotions researcher, he’s been behind many shows like Lie To Me and the movie, Inside Out, brilliant man. He has identified these five universal emotions. And so, even if you just begin with the most obvious emotions like fear, sadness, anger, disgust, or joy, even if you just start by asking yourself on a regular basis to just take a pause and just notice, what am I feeling today? What am I feeling in this moment? And then also to notice how these emotions come and go. It’s a little bit like the weather. One moment you’ll be feeling one thing and then an hour later, or even a minute later, you’re feeling something else. So it is a great practice to pause and just ask, “What’s going on? How am I feeling?”

So, number one is identifying what are your emotions? And number two, seeing if you can let them settle. Often when we sit with them, even just for three or five minutes, whatever we’re experiencing will typically settle. But not always. So if you look at the classic Buddhist literature, like my favorite monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese monk advocates this idea of let the emotions settle and they’ll transform into something else. And I believe it. I’ve had the experience myself. I’ve helped many clients go do that practice. And what I know from helping people through incredibly difficult conflict situations is that it doesn’t always work.

So then the question is, what do you do then? So here’s my advice. First of all, ask what your emotions are trying to tell you. Typically, for example, and if you’ve heard the TEDx talk, you’ve heard me say this, anger says, “There’s something not right here.” Fear says, “Danger ahead.” Sadness says, “A loss has occurred.” Just allowing ourselves to acknowledge those messages is so powerful. Because the next question is, given those whatever message my emotion is trying to send me, what is a constructive action that I can take based on those messages? So if there’s danger, how can I manage that danger? Is it real? Is it perceived? If it’s real, what could I do to deal with that danger? If something’s unjust, something’s not right, what can I do to deal with that injustice? So some of the best, most well known, most famous civil rights leaders of all time, Martin Luther King, Gandhi, Rosa Parks, these are all people who didn’t ignore their anger. They harnessed their anger for constructive action. And that is what I’m asking us to do as well, is to use those people, those heroes as our guides and say, “How could I be like Martin Luther King, Jr? How could I be like Rosa Parks? What could I do to harness my anger in a positive, more constructive way?”

CLAIRE: Absolutely. The analogy you made about emotion sort of being like the weather, it made me think about how this idea of noticing your emotions is almost like taking the weather report.


CLAIRE: And just trying to figure out what’s going on. And based off the weather report, depending on where you’re trying to go, you can decide, “Okay, I’m going to take this metaphor in a very pedantic direction.” But you could say, “Oh, I’m going to sail this way or I’m going to walk this way because it’s sunny out and it’s not raining or the winds are going in this direction,” whatever it is, but there’s some message there rather than just getting caught up in whatever storm. There’s something else there. So, I really appreciate that. Connecting the dots together, Jennifer. One thing that all of this that you’re sharing with me around especially listening to the message that your emotions are trying to tell you is something that you’ve talked about in your TEDx talk that definitely resonated with me, which was the [safety] of shadow values. And I’d love for listeners here share a little bit about what those are and then I’ll respond with why that resonates with me so much. But yeah, could you tell folks here what are shadow values and how do they relate to conflict?

JENNIFER: All of us have what I call two different types of values. One is our ideal values and those are the things that we care about in life that we’re proud to say we care about versus our shadow values, which are the things that we care about in life that we are not proud to say that we care about. These are the things that we push down oftentimes beneath the level of our conscious awareness and we will not admit to them. And as you can imagine, when we’ve pushed down these things that we actually do care about, they often ooze out in ways that are unhelpful and that cause conflict with other people, sometimes even within our own selves and often for sure with other people. So the key when we’re dealing with values in conflict is to notice them. Again, it’s a matter of naming them. And in the book and also online, there is a whole packet, a values packet that walks you through a values inventory where you can actually look at a whole list of, I don’t even know how many, there’s probably let’s say 60 values that you can look at and say these are my top ideal values. And I walk you through the process of how to identify them. And then here’s one or two possible shadow values for me. And then of course, I ask you to do the same for taking your best guess at what other people involved in whatever situation you’re facing, what their ideal values may be and what their shadow values may be as well. And of course you can’t know for sure. Shadow values are particularly difficult to identify about other people because they can’t tell you what they are because it’s their shadow value. So they’ve pushed it down, they’re not willing to admit it. So not always particularly helpful to talk about shadow value. You don’t want to walk up to someone and say, “I think your shadow value is X, Y, Z.” That’s not likely to be a conversation that’s going to go particularly well. But again, just noticing and honoring what our own shadow values are and what other people’s might be, gives us compassion for ourselves and allows us to integrate these hidden parts of ourselves that we haven’t been proud of and also gives us a great deal of empathy for other people that doesn’t excuse their behavior necessarily, but at least helps explain why they’ve been behaving the way that they are.

CLAIRE: Absolutely. The reason I brought it up after talking about the role that emotions play in regards to conflict is that I think a lot of the unexpected emotion or the very surprisingly vitriolic emotion that we feel happened because we value things that we not necessarily self identify with. And so, to value something that we don’t exactly see ourselves valuing is jarring. It confuses our sense of self. We don’t like to admit and so all these emotions start to bubble up and then they cloud our picture of being able to be free of the conflict. And I just thought in particular with all the work that we’ve done with leaders that shadow values are so much of what contributes to leaders’ blind spots, it’s because they’re motivated by things that they’re not even willing to reconcile, that they’re motivated by. I really appreciate the naming of that concept because I think it’s such a helpful lens for all of us as leaders who are listening to you and thinking about this to think, “What are the things that I value that I’m not necessarily proud to admit?”

JENNIFER: Yes, exactly. Some common ones being things like status, recognition, competition. So many of us have been taught, myself included, as particularly often women as we grow older, not okay to be competitive, even though being competitive is what got me to where I am in life. So, it’s like responsible and I do it all the time. I compete all the time. But being unwilling to admit that I do has caused conflict with other people.

CLAIRE: Absolutely. So interesting. Well, Jennifer, I want to be respectful of your time and I don’t want to continue talking to you for four hours. I mean, I would like to, but again, I want to be respectful of your time here. So, the last question that I would love to ask is our world today, it’s written with conflict. My God! I mean, you see it on the front page of every news or paper and online news article. We’re rife with conflict in our organizations and in our personal lives. There’s always tension and people disagreeing. And just by virtue of living in a society where no one is like you, there’s going to naturally be conflict. And so that being the case, if there is one thing, one thing at all, that if you sort of could wave your magic wand and just be like, “God, if people just got this, we would be so much better.” And especially for leaders in organizations, what would you say to them?

JENNIFER: I would say do something different. Do something pattern breaking. What I mean by that is when you find that you are stuck — and of course, this requires doing what we talked about at the very beginning of the conversation. Once you notice that you’re stuck in one of those conflict loops and you’re stuck, the key is do something different. If you’ve been shutting down or if you’ve been blaming yourself, take a look up, pick your head up and ask yourself what else could I do instead? As long as what else you do is constructive and it’s pattern-breaking, it’s different from what you’ve done before, it will break the pattern and it will free you, in some small way at least and maybe in a big way, from that situation.

CLAIRE: Absolutely. I so appreciate that advice because what it’s not is trying to influence and manipulate the other person. What it’s not is blaming the result on an external factor of something that you can’t control it. You’ve complete agency in your own actions in being pattern breaking and that’s empowering.

JENNIFER: It also does rely on two of the practices that we haven’t had a chance to talk about yet. So I’ll just mention two quick things. One is that we touched on a little bit, this idea that pattern-breaking action takes step by step by step. So you take the first one and then you build on it. The first one may be inside of yourself. The second one may be reaching out to one other person. After that, you may reach out to a larger group of people. So, taking pattern-breaking action over time. And then this other idea of thinking ahead. Before you take any pattern-breaking action, you want to make sure that it is constructive and also think ahead, what might be the unintended consequences of taking X, Y, Z, and be creative. So, one of the practices is to use your imagination, not just your rational thinking brain. So, use your imagination. And then I feel certain when you put that imagination hat on, that you’re able to come up with so many more ideas about how you could break the pattern than if you were just using your rational thinking brain.

CLAIRE: Incredible. Thank you so much for encouraging all of us to take those small steps to break our own patterns. We need it. I’ve personally learned a ton from you. I know everyone who’s listening in, tuning in has absolutely learned a ton. Jennifer, thank you so much. And to everyone who’s listening, be sure to grab your book when it comes out on February 25th, Optimal Outcomes. And in the meantime, as you mentioned, Jennifer, you have a ton of resources online. You mentioned the assessments at OptimalOutcomes.com/assessment. So, I highly encourage everyone to check that out. And thank you all for listening to The Heartbeat podcast. We so appreciate you reviewing us and supporting us in the iTunes store. And thank you so much for following along for every single one of these episodes. Thank you, Jennifer.

JENNIFER: Thank you so much, Claire.

Written by Claire Lew

CEO of Canopy. My mission in life is to help people become happier at work. Say hi to me on Twitter at @clairejlew.