November 6, 2020

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How does empathy affect our decision making? We often think we are making decisions based on intellect but in reality we make many, if not all, decisions based on trying to feel or trying not to feel certain emotions. If you look forward to all of your emotions what will that do to your decision making? 


Episode intro: 

When you have empathy with someone, they are more likely to be open because they feel that you are with them, and you can't do anything to show it to them. You are just empathetic, and it just occurs. 

Welcome to the Art of Accomplishment, where we explore how deepening connection with ourselves and others leads to creating the life we want with enjoyment and ease.

My name is Brett Kistler.  I am an adventurer, entrepreneur and a self exploration enthusiast.  I am here with my co-host, Joe Hudson. Joe is a business coach who has  spent decades working with some of the world´s top executives and teams developing a unique model of human patterns that underpin how we operate with ourselves, each other and the world. A good entry point into this model is a mindset called VIEW, vulnerability, impartiality, empathy and wonder.  

Through understanding and cultivation we learn to easefully drop into the VIEW state of mind, deepening self awareness and increasing our connection with the world around us. To learn more about this podcast or courses, visit

Brett: When we imagine a professional environment, we often see a world where emotions are held inside and remain unseen by others, filtered out as distractions. We might focus on the business stuff, that is the logistics and agreements that seem more relevant than the feelings behind them. Even in our personal lives, intense reactions from others can feel like a distraction from the connection that we want. 

What if learning to be acutely aware of others' internal experiences, can give us more useful information than the words they speak? How can our personal and professional relationships change as we learn to notice and address the hurt behind an angry attack or the fear behind a hasty agreement? This is the practice of empathy, the E in VIEW. Joe, how do you define empathy?

Joe: It's so hard. Empathy is so much of a feeling, more than it is an intellectual understanding, but I would say it's being with somebody’s experience without losing yourself in it. That's what I would say empathy is. It's not watching somebody's experience and it's not wanting to change somebody's experience. It's being with them in the experience without losing yourself in it.

Brett: Give me an example.

Joe: Oftentimes when I'm working with clients, for instance, they'll be all agitated around something, and I'll just ask a simple question like, "Is this yours?" Recently there's some COVID anxiety that one of my clients is feeling and I was like, "Is this yours?" They just immediately dropped. They're like, "No, it's not mine." That's one way. That's why, kind of when you're in it. 

The other way to define kind of what it isn't so to speak is, you see this all the time with babies crying. Baby starts crying and some people get instantly annoyed and some people can be with that crying, and that's really a deep expression of their capacity to have empathy in that moment. There's actually something biologically that happens too after a baby cries for an extended period of time. For a man, their testosterone increases. In those first couple of minutes of crying, our capacity to empathize with that child or be agitated by that child is really kind of that linchpin.

Brett: Okay. You said earlier this question, is it yours? What do you mean by that?

Joe: Yes. Oftentimes, highly empathetic people go beyond empathy, the way I would define empathy. They would go beyond it and then they're not being able to tell what's their emotional state and what's another person's emotional state. This really happens to people who were children of alcoholics or children of abuse, people who had to survive by knowing the emotional state of somebody when they walk into the room. They can very much get lost in the other person's emotions and think that they're theirs.

We have these things called mirror neurons in our brain, and they basically allow us to feel the state of other people on some level. Sometimes when we're feeling somebody else, we forget that we're feeling them, that it's not us that's feeling that way. In a weird way, we start feeling that way, so then it's really even more confusing because then you're like, I'm feeling it. If you ask yourself the question, is this mine, and then that can clarify a lot.

Brett: Yes. That makes a lot of sense. The idea of mirror neurons is a little bit interesting. The way I see it is, that basically our entire system, all of our consciousness is mirroring our reality in some way, mirroring and correlating perfectly with it and then losing ourselves or are we correlating with it and being with it and experiencing it and learning from it?

Joe: Yes. Mirror neurons in neurology is such a mystery still. What is it that allows-- Is it some form of mirror neuron that allows a whole bunch of birds to know how to turn at the exact same moment? There's something particularly around mammals, where most mammals communicate without any words, and so they're really relying on their ability to sense the experience of the other animals.

Brett: Yes, social nervous system. Tell me how practicing empathy will benefit us. What does this do for us?

Joe: Well, one of the great benefits is, that if anything that you have a hard time empathizing with, means that you have a hard time with that emotional state for yourself. That's fantastic because our decision making process is really based on emotions. If I take the emotional center of your brain away, you cease to make decisions, it would take you half an hour to decide what color pen-- 

We're really making decisions based on trying to feel or trying not to feel certain emotions, whether we like it or not, whether we think we're being logical or not. If that emotional center of your brain gets taken away, you still have all the intellect, you still have all the rationale, but you still can't make the decisions.

It really helps us clarify our decision making, it really allows us to help us be with our own emotional-- and to discover where we're having a hard time being with our own emotions. If you think about your life in this way, if you think about how much of your life has been decided by, "I don't want to feel like a failure," or "I want to feel like a success," or "I don't want to feel unhappy," how many decisions have you made based on that criteria and to be able to be with all of your emotions, what will that do? 

If you look forward to all of your emotions, what will that do to your decision making and how does it change your emotional state? If I have sadness and I don't want to feel it, it feels very different, than if I have sadness and I want to feel it. Those are a lot of the things that'll benefit us on an inward perspective. 

Externally, obviously, people like it when other people are with them. If you think about your friends and the people you feel closest to in the world, you can find that they're more able to be with you than people who you don't particularly like. If you look at your friends and you say, what is it about your friends that you want to have changed, oftentimes, it fits into the category of their inability to be with you or see you for who you are. There's that whole thing, too, where it's just, we want to be empathized with, most of us want to be empathized with. It just creates a deeper connection, more loving, more capacity to love.

Brett: Yes, it seems like the first half of what you described as feeling into our emotions to find out where our thoughts and rationale are coming from, and then in others being able to see behind that, too. If somebody is presenting you with a solution or an idea, whether it's a business context or in a relationship, to be able to see behind that, what the feeling is that that's coming from can allow you to address a deeper root cause or need.

Joe: Yes, at least it gives you the capacity to do it. Sometimes people get upset if you do that. [chuckles] It's like, "Wow, it really doesn't seem like you're angry, it seems like you are hurt." "No, I'm not." You know that kind of-- but generally, it goes pretty well and people want to deal with the underlying thing. 

So many logical arguments are really not at all about the logic. It's not really about the tactics or the facts. I mean just look at most public discourse. It's not really about the facts. It's about the emotional state of people and their fear, and what they need and what they want and what they are angry about. Yes, to be able to connect with people on that level and to not tell them that they need to be different, but to actually be with them, it's a huge capacity. It really allows you to have a much deeper authentic relationship or communication with people.

Brett: I think the public discourse is a great example, because a lot of people get so triggered around other people believing different facts than them. I think that that's really just coming from a lack of feeling seen, a lot of that.

Joe: Yes, or feeling that they are out of control in their world, or they are helpless or that there's forces beyond them that are controlling them or so many emotions are happening there.

Brett: Earlier you said this a couple of times, "To be with somebody in their experience without losing yourself." How do you prevent that?

Joe: The easiest way to do it, I mean it's just a really simple way. Just put some attention in your own body while you're with somebody. If you happen to be that type that has that deep empathy and you lose yourself in the person, the traditional way people do it is, they become defensive, just whole level of defense, and they are like "No." That works, but it doesn't allow you to be empathetic. It just prevents you from getting lost in them. 

To be empathetic in a successful way is to maintain a certain amount of your awareness in your own body. Like right now when you're listening to me, you could also be paying attention to the bottom of your feet or you could also be paying attention to how the sound of this podcast feels in your inner ear. Then that allows you to be with yourself while listening to me and being with me and my experience. It's about as easy as that, just putting some attention in your own body.

The other more intellectual way is to just be aware of when it's happening. I think that's the biggest challenge for most people is that they just don't know when it's happening. A great sign that it's happening is, if you buy into the story of whatever anybody is saying. Let's say you have a friend and they are like,"Oh, my boyfriend, and dah, dah, dah, dah, and the world and my boss and dah, dah." If you're like, "Yes, you've been victimized and we need to do something about it." Pretty much you're in them now or just the opposite. "These people are bad and dah, dah, dah," yes, then you are in them if you buy into the story.

If you are with them emotionally, but you know that the story that they are telling is true within their context, but not true within everybody's context, then you're pretty much not lost in them.

Brett: Yes, this sounds very non-intellectual and a lot of people are going to want to try to understand this more. What would you say to folks who want to understand or analyze emotions or just have that tendency or just want to analyze this process?

Joe: [laughs] Yes, you are screwed is what I would say. [laughs] I mean we can tell you a good story. We're doing it right now. We are telling you good stories about it, but it's not going to really help. Empathy is a felt sense. It's like, say, you close your eyes and you know where your left foot is. That's called proprioception. It's knowing where your body is in space. How do you describe that logically? You can describe what it is logically potentially, but you can't really describe how to do it logically. 

Similar with going to the bathroom. How do you know when you are done going to the bathroom? Where is the logic? Are you measuring something? Are you timing it? There's just a felt sense, "Oh, that's done." It's the same thing. Empathy is a felt sense and felt sense can't really be described by the intellect with any kind of accuracy. It's like looking at color. How do you describe seeing green? It requires a label that is arbitrary. 

Logic isn't really going to do any good here for that, and it's why it's so easy to dismiss things like empathy and energy or whatever words people are using. There's a felt sense to it, and I think you find this in a lot of things, prayer, or meditation. It's really easy to dismiss those things even if you hear the logic behind them, until you feel them. Then once you have a felt sense of what prayer can do, whether you believe in a God or not, or what the felt sense of believing in a God is like, and what the felt sense of not believing in a God is like.

All those things, they are a very felt sense. You can argue it night and day, but it's why nobody changes their mind on this stuff until they have a change of felt sense. If you want a logical conversation about empathy, go and feel people. Go and be empathetic and stay in yourself while you do it. That's a far better way, just experiment.

Brett: That is true across all of these VIEW podcasts. These are all pointers, intellectual pointers to something that you ultimately need to feel into and experience.

Joe: It's why oftentimes in these conversations they could be logically contradictory. It's because we're just creating frameworks that make it easier to feel into or realize something. It's not about telling it like a truth. [chuckles] It's not like there's one way, or there's something that's right here. There's just, “How do you want to be?'', is the question and that question isn't answered with logic.

Brett: Just feeling our way beneath any fear response we have, which brings me to another question. We have been talking about losing yourself in the other person, not being empathy as you are defining it. 

Losing yourself in another person sounds a lot like the flight-fear response that we've discussed before, like fleeing from your experience into theirs to try to fix it. Then you'll dive into a story about why they have that experience. Then you'll create some idea of who's the abuser of the tyranny or the victim. I imagine there's something equivalent that we do in the fight-- in the freeze responses as well. How do these other forms of fear impact our ability to be present with others in their emotions?

Joe: Yes, if you think about it from an evolutionary sense, we have fear. If you are really scared, it's really not time to empathize. That part of your brain goes offline and your fear response comes online. If you are in flight, like you said, you're looking at the world around you, the environment, and the actors in that environment, and you're trying to figure out how to manage those. 

If you are in fight, then immediately that emotion that you're starting to feel in your system is going to make you angry and you are going to try to stop it, like the angry person on a plane when the kid starts crying, and the freeze response is the disassociation. It's like a checking out. You can just watch the eyes kind of haze over. It makes sense when we are in fear, it's really hard to have any empathy at all.

Brett: How do you prevent this fear response, or let it pass through you? What do you do with this, when you know a deep bodily patterning to fear in a particular business context or a relationship context?

Joe: Yes, you feel it. That's the trick to all of this stuff. It's like, how do you feel the emotion? When I say feel it, I don't mean be taken away by it. You know there's just some saying that I heard the other day, it was beautiful. I think it's from some supreme court judge. I don't know, but it said, "I wouldn't give you a fig for the simplicity on this side of complexity, but I'll give you my whole world for the simplicity on the other side of complexity." 

What it's speaking to, is that before we start our learning process, things are pretty simple, then we start learning processes that get really complex and somewhere along the line, it gets very simple again. With emotions, it's very simple for a two-year-old, "I feel angry, and so I'm going to yell at you or punch you." 

Then there's the complexity of actually learning what those emotions are, what's happening, identifying them in your body, feeling them, expressing them in a way that doesn't hurt people, letting them move without resistance, finding out that they're very similar to one another, finding out that you can love all of them. Getting to the other side is, "Wow, you just have emotions again," and they're just fluid, except for, you're not run by them. You're not controlled by them. You're not hurting other people with them.

The only way to do that is to actually learn how to feel the fear. If you have a fear response, feel it and invite it in. Don't put it at anybody. Most fear is not wanting to feel something, which is pretty cool when you think about it, like "I'm scared that I'm going to get fired," but if I told you, "Hey, if you get fired, you're going to feel awesome," would you be scared of [chuckles] being fired anymore? It's really us not wanting to have emotions that we're at the core very scared of. When I say feel the fear, I mean welcome it. I really mean like invite it in, breathe it in.

Brett: What's a good way to tell in the moment, if we're working on empathy and how do we tell if what we're feeling in the moment is true empathy and not one of these coping mechanisms or distortions? Another one that comes up is sympathy. There's a lot about how sympathy and empathy are different and often confused.

Joe: It's a wonderful question. The main thing is, are you putting yourself outside-- It's not quite outside, I guess it's above the other person. The differences in, when you're putting yourself above the other person, like subtle ways. Like you want to fix them, but for you to fix them, you have to be less broken, or you want to help them not feel it, which is assuming that you're not feeling it is the better solution.

Brett: That means buying into another story and being that story like, "Oh, yes, fuck that guy."

Joe: Exactly. It's just you're with them. When you're with somebody the way that we all want to be with, it's like we're supporting. We are with, but we are not saving. There's this great phrase that, I think it was from an Aboriginal community or a native community in South America, and says, "Hey, if you're here to help me, no, thank you, but if you're here to work together on our mutual freedom, let's get to work." That's really the essence of it.

Brett: Another thing that happens a lot is that being empathic is often associated with being manipulable or easily taken for an emotional ride. How could it be that deepening our empathy in the ways that we've been talking about makes us less likely to fall into a fear response and abandon our needs or our boundaries?

Joe: You get that fear a lot from people, they're like, "Oh, if I empathize, then I'm going to fall for them." I think that what they're thinking about that person who's fully into the other person's reality and they've lost themselves in it. If you do that, you're more likely to be taken advantage of. If that's what the person wants to do on the other side or is capable of doing, but in all cases, we don't want to feel something, if we're allowing ourselves to be taken advantage of, "I'm going to sell you this magic pill and it's going to make you skinny in two days." If you buy that, it's because you don't want to feel something anymore or you definitely want to feel something.

There's something that you want to feel or scared of feeling to allow yourself to be taken advantage of. To have empathy, it really requires you to be willing to feel whatever is arising for yourself and that other person. It actually prevents you from getting taken advantage of, because you're welcoming of everything and you're not trying to get rid of it. It doesn't matter whether you're non-empathetic or like, "I'm not going to feel that person." That means you don't want to feel shit. It means that you can be taken advantage of pretty easily. Just look at the most non-empathetic people on our planet. They are the most likely to be manipulated by politicians or authorities or advertising.

Then the other side of that is someone who's totally like in that other person's world. Then they're going to sacrifice themselves for it, but if you're actually like, "Oh, I can feel you, I can be with you, and whatever you throw at me, I can feel I can be with." What makes you need to do anything that is contrary to your truth?

Brett: It seems another example of that is in a business relationship where somebody is coming at you with a bunch of emotion and making you responsible for something that you're not responsible for. If you're with them in that emotion, but you're like buying into their full story, then you're going to think that they're entirely right. You're going to lose your boundaries and be taken for a ride.

Joe: Absolutely. If somebody thinks that you're bad and you get locked into their emotion, then you start thinking you're bad, that's exactly a great place where you're going to be taken advantage of by somebody who doesn't think they're taking advantage of you. It's by somebody who feels like they're a victim in that moment typically.

Brett: Back to what you were saying about the people who are the least empathic are the ones that are most likely to be taken for a ride. Many of us simply don't seem to feel emotions in others as much as we'd like. When we start doing this kind of work is when we start to notice this. 

When I started to work with you, I experienced certain emotions and others when we were doing exercises. I was watching them as an ant colony. I could see and recognize the patterns, but I wasn't in it with them. Like, "Oh, I didn't have an alcoholic father. That's not my problem." I can see what that does in you, and now I can see your problem. I think I can try to analyze how to fix you. How can we tell the difference between observing someone's experience in a non-empathic way and genuinely being with them?

Joe: The body is the telltale sign here. I think I remember that when we were working together and you're doing that, and I believe I came up and shook you a couple of times. Then you could feel a different way. There's a rigidity that happens in the body when you are trying not to feel, no matter how you're trying not to feel, whether it's by creating distance or disassociation, which is somewhat of what you were doing, being the watcher or wanting it to stop, any one of them. It just creates rigidity in the system. This often happens in the belly, shoulders, jaw is locked oftentimes when I do a workshop, like this one. I'll walk around and I'll hit people's jaws, so that like tap their jaws to remind them they're holding all this tight, or their belly is really tight.

That's the main way, is to keep your body loose and you'll have to feel it. Our feelings are a muscular thing. Our feelings live in our muscles. If you're the person who was told you can't get angry and you are not angry, all the time now, and anytime anger comes up, you either give it to yourself or suppress it really badly, your muscles have to contract in such a way and become distorted in such a way. It's why there's a whole science behind just watching how somebody walks into a room, you can tell a tremendous amount of their upbringing.

Once you know what you're looking for and you've experienced it yourself, the way a person's face is, you can tell what emotions they want to feel, or they don't want to feel. By the way they hunch their shoulders, by the way they tuck their butt, by the way that they hold their lips, how they purse them when certain things come up. It is why we have body language and it's why we have micro-expressions.

Brett: Something I've noticed over doing this work is, that I've started to detect when somebody is disconnecting from me in a conversation. I can roll back a little bit and recognize that I had actually disconnected from them, then they're responding to that. It's as though the feeling for them is the difference between being with a good friend who's there with them and their experience, and being with a shrink who's psychoanalyzing them. 

I think that happens a lot for people who want to be there to help others. A lot of it comes from wanting to deal with their own pain, their own history. I think this happens a lot in therapeutic communities where people take the therapeutic role, but they're really analyzing and they're not being empathic.

Joe: It happens definitely in some places there. It happens just with a lot of people who find themselves like the savior or helper of their group of friends. You'll see a lot of that happen. The truth is what-- Sometimes what that is, is they're trying to manage their life by managing other people's emotional states. [chuckles] If you feel happy, I'll be happy. If you're not angry, I'll be happy. If you're in a good mood, I'm in a good mood, and A, it doesn't work and B, you can't change people's emotional states and C it's just far more enjoyable to be with them in the emotional state.

Brett: Which comes back to that self empathy thing we're talking about, like, as I've experienced my ability to actually have empathy with others has directly grown from my ability to actually feel that equivalent feeling in myself.

Joe: That's right, that's exactly how it works, is our capacity to love the parts of ourselves is directly correlated to our capacity to love the parts of other people and other people in general.

Brett: Sometimes being empathic with somebody and holding a highly charged emotion can leave us with a sort of static residue in our system. It can linger or put us on tilt. It takes time for integration, or just leaves us feeling that thing for days. For some people, this is really strong, the empaths. 

The self-identified empaths will just avoid certain situations, because they are like, “I just can't handle that energy.” How can we navigate this and be deepening our empathy without closing ourselves off or avoiding situations, especially if we are frequently going from one high energy interaction to another in business or something else?

Joe: Yeah, I had to learn that really the hard way. For me, when I started coaching people and you know the depth in which the coaching can happen. I would go from that to a conversation with negotiating lawyers over points on a contract, and then back into a coaching session. I had to go into these big, highly charged things, one right after the other, and similarly when I do the seven day really deep retreats, it is like one emotional baseball bat after another in the best possible way. 

Brett: With real baseball bats sometimes. 

Joe: Right, but obviously not hurting anyway. It is something I really had to learn. The main thing is avoid it, and the way you avoid it isn't by not feeling the emotion. It is by being in your body. It's just putting some of your attention in your body while you are with other people and their emotions so you're not losing yourself. That's a huge thing. 

If you do that, as you get better at that, that takes care of about 70% or 80% of the problem. Then the other stuff, it is really about grounding. It's about staying grounded, realizing what's yours and not yours. Your body and your breath is the best way to do this. Releasing whatever emotion residue you have, letting the tears flow, shaking it off, grounding yourself in the different ways people can ground themselves. There are some tai chi moves that can do that, yoga moves that ground you. 

Brett: Just asking, “Is this mine?”, that was a really good one from earlier. 

Joe: Yeah, is this mine? There are some things to calm the nervous system down, different breaths. There are all sorts of things you can look into. If you go into any kind of system that says how I ground, no matter what kind of system from functional medicine to this, you can find those things and they work really well. 

My personal favorites are deep breath, walking barefoot, sitting in silence, meditation. Those things, I feel very grounded in those things. Massage will help me feel grounded probably quicker than anything else. 

Brett: If you are going straight from a sprint planning meeting where everybody got in an argument, started yelling at each other, and you are carrying that energy straight into a performance review. You really want not to take that out on the person you are reviewing. You have got like five minutes between them. 

Joe: First, I wouldn't buy into the story you have to. I would say I am not prepared for this meeting right now emotionally, and I would rather give you the actual emotional attention you deserve. Let's postpone it. That's one thing, obviously. For instance, if there's a big fight in the sprint meeting, I would probably enjoy it, because I could be with the anger and energy, and I would say look at all these people who really give a shit. They really care. They really want it done right, or they wouldn't be fighting. 

Brett: Way better than a bunch of apathetic checked out people. 

Joe: Exactly, and because I would be enjoying the tension, it would also change the dynamic in the room, the anger, because so much of the fighting that happens is based on a level of resistance, because unresisted fighting feels very much like clarity and decisiveness and a deep care. 

Again, staying in your own physical sensation is a huge part to prevent it, but I mean literally just shake your body for two or three minutes between the meetings can work. Taking deep breaths can work. Getting in touch with what's aware of your emotional state instead of your emotional state can work. Yawning 10, 20 times in a row can work. Having a quick cry. Crying doesn't take very long. It can be a minute or two. All of those things can work. 

Brett: Can you tell me a couple of stories about how empathy transformed a situation for you in a business context, something like this or different?

Joe: I remember a time when I was fundraising. I can't remember, somewhere in like the $10 million range of fundraising. I just noticed that I was with the person who I was talking to and I noticed that they were getting distant. I just said, “Wow, I notice you are getting distant. I notice something turned you off. What happened?” That is what allowed for a far deeper conversation about what they were looking for, what about my attitude had scared them. We could address it directly. I got to learn that I was objectifying the person probably a little bit more than I would want to. They could learn that they were in a past deal, not in the current deal in front of us. 

That's a good example of one. Same thing, raising money, I have been able to empathize with the people on the other side of the table to realize they have objectified me or they see me as an employee rather than a partner. I don't want that. I think investors who see their investees as employees, they are dangerous. You can sense it by the way that they keep a distance from you or how they hold themselves emotionally with you instead of the way somebody who holds you as a partner. That has prevented me from having some really bad investors that way. 

Another example is selling. Oftentimes you see in a sales process a customer goes into resistance, and the salesperson tries to convince them, which puts them into more resistance instead of saying be like, “I notice something is not working for you. What's going on? If this isn't working for you, I don't want you to do it. If it's not working for you, there's a potential there's a misunderstanding so I would like to clarify it. But I don't want you doing something you don't want to do, because then I just have an unhappy customer, and that's not good for business.” You can't really do that unless you can feel the person. 

Brett: What are some other examples, like working with peers, for example, or within a team?

Joe: For instance, I hear something from managers all the time. They are like, “We all had alignment, and then nobody did it. We all agreed. We all sat in the meeting. We all agreed and nobody did it.” I always say, “In that meeting did you feel like they were excited?” “No.” I am like, “Okay, what stopped you from saying I don't feel the excitement in the room. What's preventing the excitement?” You can't do that with anything beside empathy. 

If you are addressing the emotional reality instead of just the intellectual reality, because people, like I said, make decisions based on emotions. That's why people can all agree to something in a meeting, but if they are emotionally resistant, they are not going to go and do it. You can feel into that resistance, feel into where the excitement is, feel into what's being held, where the rigidity is in the room and clarify it. That makes things far more--  

It's the same with product development. Kind of a famous thing where people spend a lot of money on a focus group, and then the focus group goes, “This is great!” Then the product fails, or vice versa has happened too. It is because they are asking them about emotional decisions through the intellect. Sometimes it works, but it's not a perfect translator. It's really feeling your customer. It's really feeling, what makes it important for them to buy it. 

Henry Ford said, if I gave my customers what they wanted, I would have given them a faster horse, but you put a person behind the car, and you see them drive it and what happens to their face, and you see the way people look at them and what happens in their faces. It's pretty clear who is going to buy what. 

Brett: I've always thought that one was interesting, the faster horse thing, because it's not really what they wanted. If you asked them what they wanted, if you asked them the solution that would have solved their problem, they might have bought a faster horse, but really what they wanted was better transportation. 

Joe: Exactly. That's the exact point. The intellect is limited in its capacity to see what the emotions want. Transportation was horse and feet at that time, so that was the limitation of the intellectual part of it. But if you looked at the emotional experience, then you know there are other solutions. 

Brett: I think this happens in product research all of the time. The research will be conducted in some way where it is like, what do you like better, the red plastic or the blue plastic, and you will get an answer. You will have a meeting where there's a graph that shows how much of the market wants this versus the other thing, but you missed the deeper question and the deeper emotional connection to the product. 

Joe: That's exactly right. It's why there's a felt sense to great design. You see something designed with beauty and you feel it. You go, “That's beautiful!”, not just beautiful as in looking, but the design is elegant, and there's a felt sense to that. It makes it appealing to us. There's no way you are going to use the intellect to describe that, unless you have been trained in design for years. 

Brett: How will we see our lives and our work change as we deepen our ability to feel our emotions and empathize with others? Some of these good examples are good examples, but what are some other things that would happen in our lives?

Joe: Decisions become more clear, because we are more likely to feel emotions and be happy to feel emotions. We start caring for people instead of care taking them, meaning we are not trying to make them feel better. We are just being in support of them and therefore we get that in return as well. You get more people who are happy to be with you. You also see the people around yourself, and you become more and more empowered. As you stop fearing all of these emotional states, then you just stand in your truth more and more and more. There's just a deeper level of empowerment that happens, for you and for the people around you. 

One of these things, I was working with a CEO of one of the companies, and he tended towards care taking. Obviously, because he is care taking, there are a lot of people that fall into that victim thing in this company, and there was this victim mentality in the company because he felt responsible for them. As that changed for him, as he could be with people instead of taking care of people, all of a sudden the decisions that could empower them could start to be seen. 

Instead of coming in and saying, “Here's how we are going to fix the world.”, he would say, “How do you want to fix the world? Clearly, you are unhappy. How are you going to fix it?” He would empower people to fix their own problems, and it changed everything for his company. 

Brett: You can just use my name when you are talking about me. 

Joe: That wasn't you. You were not the person in my mind when I was saying that. 

Brett: I know, but I just felt it as like yeap, that's exactly been my journey. What else happens? A lot of times when we do these kinds of practices, there are shifts in our lives that are short-term uncomfortable or destabilizing. Is there anything like that that would happen with practicing deeper empathy?

Joe: As the emotions start to get felt and the resistance isn't worked through, it can be a bit turbulent. It's not the emotions that are uncomfortable. It's the resistance to them. There can be a little bit of turbulence. There can be moments of tears where you would prefer there weren't tears. They don't happen very often. They are pretty rare. People are like I am going to be crying all over the place. It is like I cried at this one place, and actually somebody came up to me and said something sweet. Yeah, it can be a little bit turbulent. 

There's also this idea that if I allow my emotions, then they are going to take over me and control me. It's the projection you have been controlling your emotions, so you think they are going to control you. It doesn't happen like that. I have seen anybody at all of the thousands of people I've seen go through this process, I've never seen any of them who are like, “I am controlled by emotions now.” 

Brett: Damn you, Joe. 

Joe: Exactly. It has never happened. I would say that. The biggest thing is what we have really harped on, on this talk-- If you empathize with losing yourself, that can be really damaging. Learning how to be in your own body while you are empathetic is so critical. I just even recommend for the rest of the week, put some of your attention into your physical body during every conversation. See what that does to your world. It will rock your world, if you do that for every conversation for a week. It will just rock your world.

I just say it's important to take it slow. I would say if the emotional tube is kinked, just be gentle with the unkinking. Take it slow. 

Brett: There's the wisdom in taking it slow, and there's also another side of that, that I can see. A lot of times these emotions are stacked on each other. You get beneath one of them, and you let yourself feel it. You might get yourself to feel the anger, but then if you don't feel the hurt underneath the anger, then a completely different thing starts controlling you. You get the disruptive thing going on in your life, and you are entering another pattern. There's like being gentle with yourself and taking it slow, and then there's being curious about how far down it goes and what's beneath this one I am not feeling. 

Joe: I would definitely agree with that. To think there's an end is no good. It's not going to be servicing your journey at all, so seeing it as endless, being curious about it, being vulnerable with yourself about your emotional state, being impartial with how you feel. You can use all of those tools, and use it for this empathy. It might upheave and you might find yourself bawling, crying and shaking. All of that can happen while being gentle with yourself. 

Brett: What are some ways empathy can go wrong? What does it look like if we are trying to be empathic, we aren't quite there so it is shallow or it is false? How could it be used directly as a weapon if somebody starts using these practices and they are like, “I could actually use this to manipulate people? What happens then? How does that look?”

Joe: Creepy, you can see it. The difference between a good interviewer and a bad interviewer is one is using real empathy and one is faking it, and you can tell. It makes your skin crawl on some level. It might work for some people, but it is only going to work on a small percentage of them where empathy creates connection consistently. You can use empathy as a tool. They do all these skills that are based on that, mimic their body language, nod yes when people speak, and blah, blah, blah. 

Brett: Mirror the last three words of the thing they said. 

Joe: Use their name in the front of sentences, and blah, blah, blah. You can do all of that stuff, but if you are not in empathy, it comes off as false, fake, and gross. We have all been with that person, but if-- you could do all of that stuff with deep empathy and then it's actually quite appealing. It is really the empathy that is appealing.

I think the reason those tools work when they do work, sometimes is, because they actually hack the mind into empathy. 

Brett: They are disarming, and if the intent is to disarm, then it can get you closer to it, to disarm yourself that is, not to disarm the other person as a trick. So what are a couple of summary bullet points on how all of what we have discussed would apply to a VIEW conversation and practice with the rest of this course?

Joe: One of the things is you can ask questions. You can ask how, what questions that are based on nonverbal cues, on empathy. “Wow, it feels like you distanced yourself right there. What happened?”

You can say, “It looks like you don't agree with that. What's going on? What's happening with you right now? How did that feel?” You can ask questions like that, and people generally stay up on the intellectual and won't ask questions on the moetional. 

Brett: And in a curious way. “I saw you disconnect there. I saw you disconnect there. I know it. Tell me.”

Joe: Empathy as an attack. That's right. Also, basically, you'll notice that, when you have empathy with someone, they are more likely to be open, because they feel that you are with them. You can't do anything to show it to them. You are just empathetic and it just occurs. 

Like I said earlier, there's this creepy thing where people know you are managing them, and when they do, they back off. You don't have as much data. You don't get as much truth. You don't get to see the problem as it is. You don't get their ideas for solutions. With empathy, you get all that stuff. You get more data, and more ideas for solutions. 

Brett: Or the solutions you get from them are actually their solutions to get you to stop managing them. 

Joe: Exactly. Also, if you are in empathy, you can catch yourself being partial. If you are using empathy and you see somebody have an issue with you, you can be like, “I was being partial. I will catch my own partiality from being empathetic to their response to me.” 

Brett: Like the way I was describing earlier, when I catch somebody rolling back, you are like, “Wait a minute, I see what I did there.” 

Joe: Exactly. 

Brett: As you close, I would love for you to tell us about an impactful experience you have had, that caused the deepest increase in your empathy for others in the shortest amount of time. 

Joe: I want to give you two. The first one was, I was having this experience where I realized where I really just did not want to be with people who were having meaningless conversations. It was so annoying. “I was driving 65 miles an hour.” “Really, 65?” “Yeah, 65 miles an hour down to Santa Barbara.” Uh, it was so frustrating for me. I was like “What is it that I don't want to feel? What is it that's happening for them, for me that I don't want to feel?” I just opened myself up to it. It was awkward. I would be weeping in these conversations that were seemingly benign. 

After two or three weeks of that, maybe a month of that, the personal recognition that came through it was so critical to my sense of self, that I had to be valuable. The idea that I might be spending time where I wasn't valuable, it was so hard on my system I didn't want to feel that kind of sense of worthlessness.  That was an internal thing. Then to have the freedom to be worthless. “Oh yeah, I am happy to be worthless, and I am happy to be of value.” Having that freedom was tremendous. 

Then my capacity to immediately be with people who were having that level of conversation happened, and what I realized is, even in that level of conversation, there are different forms of connection going on. There are different ways people are connecting that aren't verbal, that aren't about the immediate intellectual thing that's up front. 

This one wasn't as quick, but it was bigger for me, which was getting in touch with Hand in Hand Parenting, which is really one of the main tools I learned empathy from. One of the tools in that is, it is called Parenting by Connection, and it allows parents to be deeply connected with kids, kids to feel deeply connected. The thought process is when kids feel connected, they naturally want to behave in a way that´s enriching for themselves and the family. All of the tribulations that we feel from children is just them being out of connection, and so how do you get them back into connection?

One of the tools, they have five very simple tools. One of the tools is, stay listening. It's like allowing the kids to have temper tantrums, and being with them in that temper tantrum and even encouraging it to move through and making sure it doesn't get stuck. I was not good with a lot of my emotions when I started doing Hand in Hand parenting. I got good with them really quick. 

All of a sudden, I have a tremendous amount of emotional freedom I didn't have before. All of a sudden, my decision making got so clear, because I couldn't be with my child's temper tantrum until I could be with my own. I couldn't be with my child's anger until I could be with my own or their tears until I could be with my own. That process of empathizing and being with my children gave me so much more freedom. 

Brett: How did these two stories impact your ability to have value for people? 

Joe: I don't care. I mean if I were to look at it, seemingly I am more able to be more valuable to them, because I can be with them in a deeper way now, and I am not judging them or myself. That seems like that's probably more valuable. The bigger answer is it doesn't matter to me anymore. 

Brett: I love that paradox, the driving wound of your first story to just not caring anymore, actually having that impact. 

Joe: It was a great conversation. Thanks so much, Brett. 

Brett: Yeah, thank you. 

Thanks for listening to The Art of Accomplishment.  If you enjoyed what you heard today, please subscribe & rate us in your podcast app. We would love your feedback, so feel free to send us questions and comments. To reach out to us, join our newsletter, or check out our courses at


"If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses." ― Henry Ford

“For the simplicity on this side of complexity, I wouldn't give you a fig. But for the simplicity on the other side of complexity, for that I would give you anything I have.” ― Oliver Wendell Holmes - a nonprofit that provides parents with the tools and support they need to listen and connect with their children. 

November 5, 2020

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In today’s society, we have an archetype of the successful leader as a commander; someone who knows what they want and bends the world to their will in order to get it. But so many of us end up elbowing our way into loneliness or controlling our lives into a place we later realize we don’t want to be.

How can we have clear goals and desires while staying in flow with reality? What if accepting the outcomes we’re avoiding makes our desired outcomes more likely?

On today’s episode, we’ll be discussing Impartiality -- the I in VIEW.


Episode intro:  

Recognizing something that's right, and going with it rather than trying to get it to be your version of right is the practice of impartiality in business, and it is incredibly, incredibly useful. 

Welcome to the Art of Accomplishment, where we explore how deepening connection with ourselves and others leads to creating the life we want with enjoyment and ease.

My name is Brett Kistler. I am an adventurer, entrepreneur and a self exploration enthusiast.  I am here with my co-host, Joe Hudson. Joe is a business coach who has  spent decades working with some of the world´s top executives and teams developing a unique model of human patterns that underpin how we operate with ourselves, each other and the world. A good entry point into this model is a mindset called VIEW, vulnerability, impartiality, empathy and wonder.  

Through understanding and cultivation we learn to easefully drop into the VIEW state of mind, deepening self awareness and increasing our connection with the world around us. To learn more about this podcast or courses, visit

Brett: In today's society, we have this archetype of the successful leader as a commander, someone who knows what they want and bends the world to their will in order to get it. Many of us end up elbowing our way into loneliness or controlling our lives into a place we later realize we don't want to be. 

How can we have clear goals and desires while staying in flow with reality? What if accepting the outcomes we're avoiding makes our desired outcomes more likely. On today's episode, we'll be discussing impartiality, the I in view. Joe, describe what you mean by impartiality.

Joe: Yes, my 11-year-old girl yesterday asked me that question. It was cool because it gave me a very different answer explaining it to an 11-year-old. The answer that I normally give is, it's to not have an agenda for another person, at least in the VIEW modality. It means that when you're having a conversation, you're not trying to get the other person anywhere. 

That's what it means in that way, but the way I explained it to my daughter was, it's saying, "I trust you. You know what's best," when you're talking to somebody else, right? You're saying, "I trust, you know what's best. I'm going to follow your lead. I think you know what you need better than anybody else could know what you need. You have more information and data to know what you need and I want to explore that with you." That's impartiality.

Most of our conversations are very partial and it would be things like, "I know what you need. Let me give you advice. I want you to be better, I want you to be healed, I want you to be different. I want you to feel like I'm valuable in this conversation." That's the partiality instead of the impartiality. That's what I mean. Particularly in these kinds of conversations, there's other ways to think of impartiality generally and that are really important in one's journey. We may or may not get into that, but for the context of the VIEW conversation, that's what it means.

The reason on some level that this is so important is, because the subtle message behind partiality is, that you think that you're smarter than the other person. I know what's best for you if I can give you advice. You think you know what's up. That's basically agreeing with the essential myth so many of us live with. It's the essential myth that we're not good enough. 

If you're telling somebody that, you're also making that true for them, whereas if you are looking at them and in the conversation, you see them as wise. You speak to the wise part of them, the part of them that knows and that's the part that's going to come out and meet you. That's what you get in that conversation instead of the helpless person you get on the other side of the conversation, somebody who's wise, because that's the part that you're asking to talk to and that you're talking to.

Brett: Let's dig into that not good enough part a little bit more. What is impartial about that?

Joe: Yes, there's this correlation between thinking that you're not good enough, and let's call that shame and that there's actions that prevent you from being happy. It's like, you think you're not good enough because you haven't worked out. You think you're not good enough because you still get angry. You think you're not good enough because women don't like you and you think that if you do all that stuff, if you work out enough and women like you or enough men like you or whatever it is, then you're not going to have shame and then you're going to be happy, but the causation is actually the opposite of what people think.

It's far more that shame causes the actions, than it is, that the actions are what caused the shame. Meaning if you remove the shame, then it's very easy for the working out to happen and for people to want to be with you and all that stuff. Shame is kind of like the locks that keep the chains of bad habits in place. I think there's a guy, Adia Shantay who said that. That's what I mean. It's the shame that holds the bad actions in place. I don't want to call them bad, but the actions that prevent us from being happy.

Brett: I like this dual direction of causation. I think it'd be interesting to see it as a loop as well. Our actions and the consequences to our actions can create shame and they can also heal us. But if we're waiting for the impact of the world to do that to us, then that's sort of disempowered when we could actually work on the other side of that loop which is working on our-- seeing our own goodness, seeing that we're good enough as we are and letting that shame dissolve, which then changes our actions to be less producing of consequences that would lead to shame.

Joe: Yes, it's absolutely a dance. It's absolutely a dance. They definitely can feed off one another. What I noticed in the mind of most people, they're not saying "Maybe I should stop being so shame-oriented, I should stop shaming myself." I think that's the most important part to call attention to. Yes, absolutely a dance.

Brett: What is the benefit of being impartial?

Joe: [laughs] It's like a CEO asking the CFO, "What's the benefit of revenue?" Yes, so many benefits. You don't shame people, for one. You're teaching people how to fish, not feeding them fish. You're empowering the people in your organization. You're empowering your husband, wife, kids. You don't have to save anybody anymore. You don't need to be valuable anymore. People are more likely to trust you because you're not trying to fix them, you're just being with them. Deeper levels of connection. 

Just keep on going, there's so many benefits from it. There's only one perceived loss that people think they're going to have, is like, if I stopped being partial, then I'm not going to get what I want, [laughs] which is hilarious, because if they were paying attention to some degree, they had realized they've been partial their whole life and they're still not getting what they want in many arenas. 

Obviously, you're going to get what you want and not get you what you want with partiality. But what I would say is that look for causation, even look for correlation. I find people get what they want far more when they are being impartial and owning their wants.

Brett: Yes, fascinating. I think it's intuitive to us that being partial often, being overly partial, it doesn't end up getting us what we want and so we learned some weird form of impartiality, which is really just like-- we use it as a way to be non-threatening in a conversation. If we were to turn the partiality all the way down to zero, our behavior would approach random chance and we wouldn't be going in any particular direction at all. How does being impartial help you have productive conversations and achieve goals and get what you want?

Joe: Yes, yes, okay. There's no way I think any mammal, but definitely, humans can be completely impartial. It's asymptotic, meaning that you can dissolve more and more of your partiality, but there's always some partiality. You see this in acting. A lot of the great directors, the way they direct actors is they just ask them what do you want in this sentence or this scene or this moment. It's how we do it.

If you really want to take it apart, every single sentence you have, has some want underneath it. It has some desire. It's a great exercise to-- Every sentence then says, what it is you wanted to achieve in that sentence. There's no way to get rid of partiality. It's as human as breathing or having emotions. I think that's a really important part. I don't think there's any fear that we'll walk around aimless.

I've never seen that in a person. I've seen people stuck, which is different, but that's not partiality. Everybody that I know who's really walking around looks aimless but it's really stuck, they're very partial about trying to get unstuck. The other thing is that goals are fine and wants are fine. That's not what we're saying. We're saying that in a conversation with somebody, you let them have their wants and goals and you have yours and you don't try to influence theirs.

It's kind of like saying, it's like looking at a river and if you're having a conversation with one person and you're looking at the river one way, then you're like, "I want to bend the river to the left." [laughs] A lot of effort and it's a lot of work and it's probably not going to work. It's only going to work temporarily. Whereas if the other one is "Where does the river naturally want to go and how does that work with me?" Or "How is it important to me not to work with that?" is the other way to look at that conversation and being impartial is far more like that.

Brett: What are a few more examples of that, of that metaphor in real life?

Joe: Hiring people. Earlier in my career, I would hire people and I'd be like, "Oh, they're talented. I want to try to get them on board," or I had a vision for somebody and I'd be like, "Okay." I think I took it to the other extreme for a while, which was like, I would just ask people what they want to do, and if it wasn't exactly what I wanted, then I wouldn't hire them. I would far rather work with somebody who is wanting exactly the role that I have to offer. 

It's another way of looking at the impartiality is, I'm not trying to convince anybody who's talented to come and work for me. I'm just saying, "It's my reality. This is my world, do you want in? Is this something that inspires you?" Then I know I have them. I don't have something I've convinced to show up.

Also saying no in sales is another great example. The best salesman will challenge, ask difficult questions, will even look at a pipeline and try to get to know as quickly as possible. For instance, I worked with this artist who was having a hard time selling his stuff and I said, "Look, your job is to go and get 50 rejections. I need you in the next six months to get 50 rejections."

After the 10th call that he made, he was in three galleries. Because as soon as he could drop that partiality of trying to convince them, then he was successful at being himself, which is what they wanted, especially particularly from an artist. Anybody who's done a good sales program, they know that getting to a no is just as important as getting to a yes for time, effort and energy.

Here's another way to think about it. Think of your best bosses. Think of the people or clients if you've never had a boss. Who are the people who have been responsible for your paycheck and have been the best to work with? You'll notice what they are is, they're incredibly clear with their wants, this is what I want, but they're not self-serving.

Brett: What do you mean by that?

Joe: It means that they're being impartial. They're saying this is what I want and they're letting you have the autonomy to do the thing. They're not cajoling you or manipulating you or being partial about how you do it, or even partial about what you do, they're far more like, "This is what we need to do. If you don't want to do it, then maybe you shouldn't be here and maybe we can get someone else here."

If you think about those bosses, you just don't feel them as self-serving. What happens in partiality is that when you're not being impartial, the thing that comes up is, you look often political and you definitely feel self-serving to the people around you. Whereas if you just own your wants clearly-- The way this works in, say, a VIEW conversation, is, you can just own your partiality in the middle of the conversation.

It's a very vulnerable thing to do and say, "Oh, I noticed that I'm trying to fix you and I'm so sorry." If you think about it even crazier than that, imagine if you're in the middle of a conversation, you notice someone's trying to give you advice, trying to get you somewhere and they say to you, "Wow, I noticed that I'm giving you advice. I'm trying to fix you. How do you feel about that?" [chuckles]

You think about that for a second. Most people, most of the time, are going to say "Yes, please don't." Yet, we're freaking doing it all the time. That's how it builds trust and connection.

Brett: Yes. Speaking of being political, people all the time, all of us do it. We manipulate by hiding our true intentions and subtly nudging a situation in the direction that we want it to go. This could sometimes be confused with impartiality, but I don't think that that's what you're getting at. What's the difference between actually being impartial and just acting the part in order to manipulate. And how do we tell in the moment if that's what we're doing?

Joe: Yes. You're correct. They're not the same thing. It's true that there's a body sensation that goes with each one of them and impartiality, like VIEW, is really a state of mind, state of being. You know it, when you feel it more than you know it, if you're doing it intellectually. I would say the difference is, it's the same difference as hitting somebody in the face and or hitting them in the back while they're not looking. If you're subtly nudging or trying to, and you're not owning your partiality, if you're not owning your wants in that situation, then you're not being straightforward with them and it's a subtle form of lying.

The other thing is that most people know when you're doing it. Most people-- You know when someone's doing that, most of the time. We kind of have this social contract that says, yes, everyone kind of does that, so I'm going to put up with it, but none of us like it, and none of us like doing it. That's one of the other things is, that if you want to know how it is in your body, it's uncomfortable, [laughs] it's uncomfortable. People can feel it and you can feel it in others, and of course, there's some folks who are intentionally duplicitous. It's definitely not the majority of people, which is a misunderstanding. A lot of people who see someone who's duplicitous, they feel like, of course it's intentional. I find that often it's not, it's like a blind spot of narcissism and other things.

Brett: Lack of awareness?

Joe: Yes, exactly. It's like the only time we really believe those people is, when we want to, when we are trying to fool ourselves anyways. That's the other thing, the thing that you notice about people who are duplicitous intentionally, it always blows up in their face. Sometimes it takes five years, but it hardly ever takes more than five years to do that. Whether you see this on a large economic scale or in relationships, it eventually blows up on you, which is interesting, because you can see people who are not scrupulous, you can see people who maybe do morally questionable things, but they're straight forward about it, and they can actually do it for a long time. When they're not being straightforward about it and almost always blows up, which isn't really a particularly interesting phenomenon.

As far as how it is in the body, it's different for other people. Each person, their body registers things a little bit differently, but all you have to do is feel like right now going into a memory of when you were being subtly manipulative or not subtly manipulative and feel how that felt in your body and then feel how it is when you're being straightforward with your wants. Even if it's scary, you can feel it and that's going to inform you. Your body will know it much quicker than your mind will.

Brett: I feel like a lot of the times that I've done that in the past, it's been more just like an avoidance of even recognizing, that that's something that's in my awareness, but there is a part that's aware of it and it gets filtered out because it's inconvenient for my ego.

Joe: Yes. That's beautifully put. Yes. It's exactly like, even if we don't make the ego the enemy, but there's something that we'd have to feel or look at if we admit that to ourselves, which is, I think, typically the case when we're being manipulative. We have a want that we don't even-- Oftentimes we have a want that we're ashamed of having. We're trying to get our wants met without having to admit that we have them.

Brett: Yes. That points to this whole practice being a state of being, because if you're doing this logically and you're trying to meet the end point of, "Oh, I should be impartial. Impartial will get me better sales, will give me better relationships," and then you're constantly filtering for whether or not you look like you're partial or impartial. That ends up coming from a completely different place, than if it's the state of being.

Joe: Yes. If you want them to see you as impartial, then you're definitely being partial. It's going to be seen. Absolutely.

Brett: Which begs the question, if true impartiality actually requires this state of mind, that is actually impartial and that meaning okay with any outcome, then what can we do to cultivate that true impartiality when we are actually, in reality, afraid of so many things and so many outcomes?

Joe: Yes. I've been just focusing on this a lot, this question of fear of outcomes. Here's my new approach at thinking about this, which is, I don't believe in outcomes. The only way you can believe in an outcome is if you believe time stops.

Brett: What about a snapshot? Believing in an outcome being some lossy snapshot of the future?

Joe: That's exactly the point is, that it had to stop. Reality has to stop for there to be an outcome. It's like this age-old problem of, "Hey, I wanted to see what my future is," and someone shows you your future and you're happy and have a lot of money. Then you get there and two days later you're broke, miserable. Where's your future? Is it the moment where you're happy? Is it the moment that you were sad? What's happening there? 

I don't believe in outcomes, because outcomes is the idea that there's some end state and there isn't. With that said, I understand we have our fear, and our fear creates the idea of outcomes. What do you do there is the question.

Brett: What if you're afraid of being in an eternal process of misery that continues? It's not a snapshot.

Joe: Yes. Even that as a snapshot, because it's eternal, what is it-- Is it you've just hit zero baseline. There's no movement ever. Anyway, yes, so one is, there's a tradition that's the Stoic tradition, the Tibetan Buddhists had it, Samurai had it, which is visualizing your own death over and over again to undo the fear of death. You can do this with anything. If you're scared of getting fired, go visualize yourself getting fired over and over again, every step of it before, during, or after. Feel everything that you would have to feel if you got fired, because our fear really isn't about the thing happening. The fear is what we will have to feel if the thing happens. 

If someone was like, "You're going to get fired, but you're going to absolutely blissed out the entire time. You're going to find out it's like an absolute joy and pleasure, and then you're not going to have enough money, but that's okay because it's not going to even dawn on you that you don't have enough money. You're just going to be in this place of absolute- loving the situation as it is. Then money is going to come and you're going to be not attached to keeping it." I was like, "Wait, I don’t have any fear of the future. The fear is all in the emotion." Going through the situation in your mind and feeling all the emotions can really free you of the fear, because all of the emotions can be enjoyed, can be welcomed, can be loved.

Brett: That brings up something really interesting. In my experience base-jumping, often before jumping off of a cliff, you visualize the jump and I frequently find myself visualizing all of the ways I could die on the jump, visualizing pushing off in the wrong way. The thing that I ended up actually visualizing was the moment of terror, when I realized that fucked up and had gone past a point of no return, out of control. 

By doing that visualizing and encountering that point of terror where I'd fucked up, it made it so that if something went off-axis or off of the plan, that I didn't have to feel the terror when that happened. I'd be like, "This is actually much less off the plan than all of my visualizations were, so it's salvageable. Let's work with this."

Joe: Yes. That's a beautiful metaphor. One of the principles that I work with often is, that the thing that we fear is often something that we are unknowingly, subconsciously inviting into our world because of things that we do to avoid the thing that we fear are often the things that bring them to us. What you're describing there is that you visualize the worst possible thing happening so you're not scared that it's going to happen. If I think about two people who are about to base-jump and one is petrified that they're going to screw up and one is okay if they screw up and they jump off. I can tell you which one of in my experience is going to have the higher chance of fucking up.

Brett: Yes, likewise. I've had a lot of experience in that realm.

Joe: Yes, which I'm sorry for, because I know the consequence of that. Yes, that's exactly how it works but it works with getting fired too. It works with every aspect of our fear. That's the other thing you can do is, just grieve the loss which is another way of feeling the pain in advance. The other thing you can do is just call yourself out for being partial, right. Somehow or other just saying, "Oh, this is the outcome that I want," can relieve you of that want for the outcome.

Brett: How does that happen?

Joe: It's like, "I'm sorry. I notice that I really want to be valuable to you, and that's not the best way that I can respect you or this conversation and I apologize for that."

Brett: Another thing that happens a lot, all of us, we've been in some kind of tense discussion or negotiation where somebody just throws up their hands and they say, "Okay, whatever, I don't care," which is sort of the opposite of a thing you were just getting at, which is like owning a want and then letting the partiality for that want dissolve. It is completely disowning the want, and it's a way of disconnecting. What's the difference between impartiality and this sort of impartial apathy or avoidance?

Joe: [laughs] I'm holding back my laughter so I don't interrupt your question. As soon as you asked that question, it hit me. I remember my daughter, I think she was eight or nine years old. At that time, kids are always like, "I don't care. I don't care. I don't care." She comes home and she goes, "Dad, I think I know what I don't care means." I'm like, "Really, what does it mean?" She says, "It means I care." I just laughed and I'm like, "Yes. That's my experience of it too is, that when people are saying that I don't care, they're saying I do care, but it's hurting so much that I don't want to care."

Brett: "I don't want to feel this."

Joe: "I don't want to feel this." Yes. “I don't care”, to me, is just a strategy. It's either a strategy to get what you want. Like to say, "I don't care," so that someone chases you or to get out of the responsibility or the feeling. That kind of apathy isn't really-- We call it apathy, but it's not the kind of apathy which is like if a stranger came to me and said, "Should I get a BLT or should I get a veggie sandwich today?" That would really be like, "Meh." They would be no desire for me to have that end up one way or another, but I wouldn't be apathetic about it.

Apathy is really just about people not wanting to be hurt from having a want. If you are impartial, you may stop a conversation right in the middle of it and say that it doesn't hold any juice for you. That would be a thing, which isn't particularly apathy either. It's just saying, "Oh, wow, I notice that this isn't inspiring me. How is it for you?"

Brett: Imagine receiving that. If you're trying to sell to somebody and the customer just does that and they are like, "Here's the information about what I'm actually interested in. All that presentation that you were just doing. I don't care."

Joe: Yes, there's a story. There's a guy named Mikey Siegel who has said this. It's on the internet. In our first meeting he was pitching me something when I was an investor, and we were just having a nice connection time and then all of a sudden he got into pitch mode. After about a sentence I looked at him and I said, "I notice my entire body is getting tense right now." That's owning where I am. Having no idea what he's going to say or the consequences. Is he going to be mad at me? It just created such a deep level of connection between us and our friendship lasts. It has been years of close relationship. 

Brett: I've seen him tell that story and the recreation of the mind blow on his face at hearing that from an investor and realizing that, "Woah, I'm actually really, really trying to get something right now and it's obvious."

Joe: Yes, and when it went away, we could actually connect and the benefits that came out of our relationship are far beyond whatever the hell he could have gotten that he was after. For me and for him. I hope for him. Apparently, that seems to be the case.

Brett: We've worked through a lot of what impartiality is and what it is not. What are some of the benefits to practicing impartiality with intention?

Joe: It's a much deeper peace of mind. You're more likely to be in flow with a person and hitting that flow state is something we all want. That creates deeper connection. You also find out that, if you don't want to be with somebody sooner so you don't get stuck in a bad relationship as easily or for as long. You usually come up with better solutions. This is the thing that I have to talk to a lot of managers about because they're like, "Wait a second. Hold on. I'm getting paid good money to have a really strong agenda for my entire organization."

It's the same thing, what you're saying is that the organization doesn't want to fucking do the right thing. If that's the case, fire them. Fire them. If they don't want to do the right thing, what the hell are you hiring, why are you paying them? What the hell is going on? 

There are people out there who want to do the right thing for your company. If you assume that everybody who is working for you actually wants to do the right thing, then it's just a matter of whether they're capable of it or whether they can see it. You don't particularly need to be partial to educate folks. You can just educate. You can just say this is my vision.

Also, you're missing something. Guaranteed, I don't care if you're Steve Jobs. I don't care if you're Elon Musk. You're missing something. The great leaders know they're missing something. They want to be around really smart people. They want people in the room smarter than them. The only way you are going to find out what you're missing is, if you let go of your agenda for a minute. 

It doesn't mean that you let go of your goals. It doesn't mean that you let go of your wants. If you're sitting in a conversation and you're just trying to push people into a particular kind of action. More micro-management level or even macro-management on that kind of thing, what you're doing is you're not getting the best ideas.

I'm constantly seeing, when executives get this idea of, "Oh, right, if we all have agreed on the goal, so I don't have to manage anybody to an outcome. If we've all agreed on that, really, truly agreed on that, then everybody can work together to come up with the best solution. My way is never the best way. It is a part of the best solution." 

Also, you're following data more. People when they're partial don't look at data the same way. They don't run the experiments the same way. You get to see what's real, which is a far better way to build a business or a relationship with what's real rather than what you want. Yes, all sorts of other ways.

I think the other thing is that you won't have the same conversation with the same person 10 times. We all have that relationship or have had that relationship where it's just like I'm talking to this person about their bad marriage again. I guarantee you if you're in that, it's because you want them to be different. If you were impartial, that conversation wouldn't come back over and over again.

Brett: Yes, it's like the only thing that could keep you in a stable loop in that way would be that you have some impartiality that is creating a confirmation bias, filtering your information to fit a certain story. Yes, that's really interesting. 

How do our personal lives and our professional lives change as we practice impartiality? What happens to us internally and what happens around us?

Joe: You're going to find yourself surrounded by a lot less people stuck in victim scenarios in their mind. You're going to learn a lot more and therefore have better ideas, because you'll spend that time that you are trying to manage people, and learning instead of in management. 

You will have to draw more boundaries. That's a really important thing. One of the reasons people are so partial is, because they're not drawing the boundaries that they want or not explaining the vulnerable want that's in their system.

Brett: What's a good example of that?

Joe: It's easier to try to fix your friend, who's dating the same guy with a different name 10 times in a row than it is to say, "I don't want to hear this story anymore." 

Another example is, let's say, I have an employee and they're consistently not doing the things that they said they're going to do. I just have to hold a boundary instead of trying to manage them out of it and have partial conversations. I just have to say, "If this isn't happening, then I have to assume you don't want to work here because if you wanted to, you'd do it or you're not capable. If you're not capable, please let me know, right?"

You're far more likely to have to draw a boundary and to say what you want directly. Imagine a manager who sits around the table and tries to get everybody aligned and another manager who starts off saying, "What I really want, what I really, really want is for us all to be aligned, rowing in the same direction with a common set of goals, how do we do that? I have some ideas. These are my ideas. What do you guys think?"

As compared to, "I don't want to have to ask for that. I don't want to have to draw that boundary. I'm going to really want it to happen, but I'm not going to be outright forthright with it. I'm going to be partial in every conversation to try to make it occur." which is a lot of managers.

Brett: Remind me in a relationship of when somebody gets angry about not having something done for them that they didn't ask for. Waiting for somebody to notice what they want and do it for them. 

Joe: Exactly. Right, because they don't want to be vulnerable in that want or vulnerable in the boundary. That's right. That's exactly right. That happens a lot less.  That kind of thing will happen a lot less in your story. 

Another good story that I have around this is that I was doing this workshop in Boston and Cambridge, I think it was. There was a man, he was an older man, had been a successful entrepreneur, had a lot of depression in life, but he was older. Somewhere in that, close to the second day of the thing, he just looked at me and started crying and goes I don't think I've ever had an impartial conversation in my whole life because he just had one. He just had his first impartial conversation in his whole life.

Then he was crying and it was an amazing moment. He kind of looked at me and he goes, "I had no idea the level of connection that I was missing." I think that's the big thing is, that if you think about the people who always have an agenda for you when you talk, how close do you feel to them, how much do you want to be around them? 

Brett: How defended do you feel?

Joe: How defended do you feel? If you're a parent, especially of an adult child, if they don't want to be around you, I guarantee you have an agenda for them. I guarantee it. You want them to be safe, you want them to be a doctor, whatever the heck it is. They might be around you, but they don't want to be, and you feel it, you feel unloved because of it.

Brett: We've talked a lot about how this applies to relationships with others. What does it look like to be impartial with ourselves or in relation to something more abstract like our businesses or to a professional career?

Joe: With the VIEW, all we're focused on is being impartial with others. I just say if you're in the conversations doing the course, using the framework, really just focus on being impartial about the outcome for the other person, where they end up. It's a deeply beautiful and powerful practice to be impartial with yourself. 

If you think about meditation, there's a saying that goes, most people who are meditating are managing themselves, which isn't meditation, it's torture. Meditation, when you're not managing your experience, when you're happy with whatever experience is occurring, that then it's just bliss, it's just joy.

Learning to not manage yourself in moments is incredibly useful because what it is, it's basically saying I trust my inherent goodness, I trust my impulse, the impulse of life that moves through me. That's kind of the big benefit, because that is the path that leads you to deep self-recognition, but we all have expectations of ourselves that we cling to. They're painful and we're constantly revising them and we're constantly trying to get ourselves somewhere and it causes us a tremendous amount of pain. We have this voice in our head that's just often quite violent and abusive.

A practice of impartiality with yourself is really useful. The impartiality with business is, it's again that really subtle thing about it's good to have wants, it's good to have goals, how you get there is where the impartiality can be incredibly useful. Again, with the film thing is, that when you're a director working with actors, if you tell the actor, "This is exactly how I want it, you're not going to get it," but if you can give them direction and then recognize something beautiful when it comes, you can get that easily and all day.

Recognizing something that's right, and going with it, rather than trying to get it to be your version of right is the practice of impartiality in business and it's incredibly, incredibly useful. I've been in so many-- Everybody can relate to this. It's like, there's this business, it especially happens to big businesses. You get a big business and they say, "I want to do it this way, but I have to check with this person who has." Then another person has to be checked in, it's like six different things because everybody's trying to get to some perfect solution where nobody's going to be mad at them and they're going to be successful. 

It's like an ungodly amount of time and energy that would have-- It's so much more useful to do something, get some advice, make a couple of mistakes. It would have been a lot less painful and often a far better result if you can allow that level of impartiality and not try to have to make everything perfect.

Brett: It seems to be maybe a scale or a spectrum of short term partiality and long term partiality. In this state, we're just trying to get what we want right now. In longer-term partialities, we're willing to be more patient and that allows for more slack and flexibility in the how and exactly what it ends up becoming.

Joe: Yes, that's right. I think the short term partiality is far more fear-based than long term partiality. I think long term partiality is far more principles-based. It's like how do I want to be and what's the world that I want be in and what's my vision for the world. 

You're watching for how the world wants to provide that for you and taking advantage of those moments rather than trying to force the world to succumb to your will, which is, if it works, it's a lot more effort and a lot less happiness in it. I think that most of the time you can tell the difference, because when people are thinking about long term stuff, they're really not moving from a place of fear, or the same kind of intense fear.

Brett: They're willing to go through a little bit of shit to get to a more global optimum.

Joe: That's right. Yes, they're not less likely to avoid stuff. There's a CEO that I worked with, and he used to say, he had this thing called the kitchen drawer theory, which is basically there's that kitchen drawer that nobody wants to look at, because they're like, "Shit, that's the mess. I don't want to have to fix that" and he's like, "My job as a CEO is to find all the kitchen drawers and go look in them." 

If that´s your partiality, if your partiality is to do that, it's a very different thing, because it's not driven by fear that the short term per partiality. It's more of a principle. I have a principle of embracing intensity going into the mess because I know that that makes the life that I want.

Brett: As you practice this, and let's say you're in a high-pressure sales culture, or some other environment where partiality is encouraged and accepted as a norm, what's likely to happen when one person in that group starts to relax their partiality as a result of this practice and what challenges are they likely to face and what tends to happen in those kinds of teams?

Joe: Sales teams are the best for this because a lot of them are that way, so if it's not a short term sale cycle, if there's any relationship that can be built, the person who let's go the partiality gets better results typically because the person who--

Brett: If there is space for the long-term partiality in a relationship?

Joe: That's part of it. Part of it is that, if you're trying to convince somebody of something they can feel it, based on their mirror neurons and it's like being attacked on a cell level, so their brain turns off curiosity. They stop wanting to learn. We have all sorts of evidence that people when they're in fear or feeling attacked, they don't learn as well, so you can't educate them on your product as easily. 

If people see that you really care for them and want them to make a best decision for them and that you're following their wisdom, then eventually, you're going to make a lot more sales than the short term thinking.

There's obviously some sales organization where that doesn't work, because it's like a phone bank, you just call people and so aggression works, because there's some people who will do what you say when you're aggressive with them. That's their personality type.

Brett: In the long term, that might not actually be what's best for your company, because you attract a certain type of customer and then your product gets fit to a certain type of a market, and somebody else could do a better job of serving the customer in a more long-term way, and then wipe you out.

Joe: That's actually happening right now. Of all places there's a company that's doing something like this, in credit, in buying bad debt and there's a company out there I can't remember the name but--

Brett: Debtly?

Joe: Say it again.

Brett: Debtly?

Joe: Debtly, yes, I guess that's it but basically it's the same thing where most of the debt is like, "I will intimidate you until you pay me," and these guys come in and they're like, "I want to work with you about this." Most people want to also relieve their debt and they get a much better result and it's just a perfect example of how that happens. 

If you have a phone bank, it's all a numbers game, make a hundred calls so that you can get three or four to work and then aggression can work, but long term it's a bad business model. Like I said, it lasts, generally, about five years at most.

Also, if you start doing it, if it's a really aggressive culture the team will turn against you because they don't want to feel what you're making them feel. The person who does it often leaves, gets a better job, does something better in their life, becomes happy.

Brett: And the person who does the impartiality?

Joe: Yes, yes, they typically get out of that situation, find something that's actually life-affirming. Some people get off on the power of having that kind of intensity. It makes them feel powerful and they really need to feel that power, because they felt so disempowered in their life. If they start learning their impartiality, they just get out of those circumstances and find real empowerment instead of just the short term power. Occasionally you have a great team that has that kind of intensity and the whole team realizes it, but usually, you need a really great leader to see that.

Brett: How can this go wrong or be taken too far? In what situations, if any, would too little partiality be dangerous or counterproductive? Or if somebody is working on their impartiality in a team like that, is there a way that it could be distorted in a way that's destructive?

Joe: If you deny your wants, yes. If you try to pretend that you don't have wants [laughs] and then, yes, it's not good. So you got to own your wants, you got to own your boundaries and your wants. If you're trying to be so impartial that you don't have any wants and you're above your humanity, you start disassociating all this bliss and that kind of thing, which is true. It is all bliss, but if you're denying that your own wants and your own humanity, it'll sap all the joy out of your life.

That's the one way it can go too far, and it can seem like it goes too far sometimes when you stop being partial and then, the savior or bully, the person playing the different roles around you might say like, "Oh, I don't want this relationship anymore." Oftentimes when people say, "Oh, wow, I'm not going to try to fix my friends or make them happy or try to be valuable to them anymore." Some of those friendships don't last, and some of them get transformed into something far more beautiful.

Brett: Let's get a little bit more into the difference between wants and partiality.

Joe: The main difference is, that wants are owned and partiality is not owned, so to own your wants outright in a conversation is quite vulnerable. It allows you to feel exposed, and you're telling people your actual truth and so there's a vulnerability to it. Being partial, you can hide all that stuff on some degree and not take a look at it, and so it becomes implied and I think that's the main difference between the wants and the partiality.

The other thing is, that when you own your want completely, that ownership can actually make the want less intense and allow you to see what the world is like, especially if you add to an apology with it, which is like, "Oh, I want for you to be different than you are and I apologize for that.” It can really relieve you from that pole of trying to make them different and it puts you in yourself. It makes you feel empowered, because you realize that you want them to be different so that you can feel safe or that you can feel loved or whatever that is, whereas partiality is all under the covers. That´s the main thing between the two.

The other thing is that the wants, because they're owned outright and you can see them, it becomes really apparent how your wants, their wants can work together, and you can find something that works best for everybody. The partiality is often not owned, so it can't really be seen as the thing that it might become, which is something that can actually work for everybody. 

For instance, if I'm partial that you have a breakthrough while we're having a conversation, that's really all about me. It's under the covers. It's not the thing that's best for everybody. If I see you as knowing, whether you want a breakthrough or not, it's a far more beneficial thing for everybody.

Brett: To summarize all of what we've been talking about for us to practice the impartiality in our view conversations, what are some bullet points, some do's and don'ts?

Joe: Yes. As far as partiality, it's easier to define them as don'ts. It'd be, don't try to fix people. Don't try to get them to a conclusion. Don't try to be valuable, or have them see you as valuable. Don't want them to be different. Don't try to get them to be different. Don't look to convince. Don't try to lead them to a solution. Don't want them to see things your way. Those are the big ones.

Brett: What is an example of a time that you really felt yourself wanting to be partial or being partial, work your way through it, noted it, recognized it, and ended up showing up with impartiality in a way you hadn't before, and what was the result?

Joe: Yes, it was pretty early in my relationship with my wife. I think it was in year four or five. She had invited me to come and do something with her that was really important to her. I had not seen how important it was to her, also didn't want to go, and she came back, and she was pissed. 

I remember she was all dressed up for it, so she was incredibly beautiful at that moment and pissed. She was yelling, and we used to yell a lot at each other back in those days. She was just yelling, and I really wanted her to not punish me. I really wanted her to see me for the loving person that I was. I really, really wanted her to know that I loved her. 

I really, really wanted her to stop being angry, which was typical in those fights, and there's something just clicked to me, and I was just like, "It's okay for her to be just the way she is." She just got angry and let it out. It lasted maybe like three or four minutes, and then she got angry at me for not reacting, that lasted for like a minute. It kind of wore off with her. She needed some alone time. 

It wasn't like this quick fix or anything like that, but for me, it was like freedom. It was like, "Oh, oh, oh, oh, I don't have to be-- I don't have to curb myself. I can be me here. I can be me in the face of this. I can love her, and it was love." It was like, "I can love her just as she is no matter what's happening." The freedom in that was outstanding. It was such a peaceful place to be in.

Brett: That's a beautiful story. Thank you for it, and thank you for another great episode.

Joe: Yes, a total pleasure. Thanks for making the time.

Thanks for listening to The Art of Accomplishment.  If you enjoyed what you heard today, please subscribe & rate us in your podcast app. We would love your feedback, so feel free to send us questions and comments. To reach out to us, join our newsletter, or check out our courses at


Mikey Siegel,


November 9, 2020

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Many of us have learned to associate vulnerability with weakness. We fear that being deeply vulnerable will open the door to being dominated or taken advantage of by others. What’s the difference between vulnerability and timidness, and how can unprotected vulnerability be a sign of strength and courage?

Vulnerability is the V in VIEW; and the topic of today’s episode.


Episode intro: 

The vulnerability is not something that can be like– It is not a morality. It is not like this is the place to be vulnerable. This is not– In every moment, you can feel where your fear and your truth are together. That´s the vulnerable action. 

Welcome to the Art of Accomplishment, where we explore how deepening connection with ourselves and others leads to creating the life we want with enjoyment and ease.

My name is Brett Kistler.  I am an adventurer, entrepreneur and a self exploration enthusiast.  I am here with my co-host, Joe Hudson. Joe is a business coach who has  spent decades working with some of the world´s top executives and teams developing a unique model of human patterns that underpin how we operate with ourselves, each other and the world. A good entry point into this model is a mindset called VIEW, vulnerability, impartiality, empathy and wonder.  

Through understanding and cultivation we learn to easefully drop into the VIEW state of mind, deepening self awareness and increasing our connection with the world around us. To learn more about this podcast or courses, visit

Brett: Many of us have learned to associate vulnerability with weakness. We fear that being deeply vulnerable will open the door to being dominated or taken advantage of by others. What's the difference between vulnerability and timidness, and how can unprotected vulnerability be a sign of strength and courage? Vulnerability is the "V" in VIEW and the topic of today's episode. Joe, what do you mean when you use the word "vulnerable"?

Joe: What do I mean by the word, when I use "vulnerable"? It means speaking your truth even when it's scary. That's what I mean by vulnerable. If it's not your truth, it's not vulnerable. If it's not scary to say it, it's not vulnerable.

Brett: Semantically, how do we tell the difference between saying the scary thing and just saying something while scared?

Joe: Wow. [chuckles] That's a great question. The difference for me semantically is that in one of them I'm embracing the fear, and in the other one I'm trying to get rid of the fear. If I'm saying the scary thing, then I'm embracing it. I'm saying, "Here's fear. I'm going to actually feel this in my body. I'm going to open up to this thing. I'm going to jump off this cliff, if you will, and I'm going to say the thing." 

It's not overcoming, but it's facing and feeling your fear, whereas if you're just saying something while you're scared, that's more like, "What do I say to get out of this situation?" In that one, you're trying to avoid the fear. You have it, but you're trying to get rid of it.

Brett: This embracing of fear, of learning of the fear, that's the benefit of a vulnerability practice?

Joe: It's one of them, yes. It's something that happens when we embrace the fear or we face it if we say, "Yes, I'm happy to feel this fear." One of the things that often happens is, it shifts to excitement, but also, it's a deeply empowering move. It's a deeply empowering move to say, "I can feel this, I don't have to cower to this emotional experience. I don't have to avoid it, and I don't have to push it away. I can actually embrace it. I'm powerful enough to embrace this emotion that most people want to reject." That's one of the benefits.

Another one of the benefits is that, when you know this often when you start, especially when it comes to judgment, when you start being vulnerable about things that you judge yourself on, which is one of the ways that you can be vulnerable, you start realizing that most people aren't going to judge you for it. You're going to be like, "Oh, I'm lazy." and then you notice that most people don't maybe even think you're lazy. Then those who do, maybe they´re like, "Yes, that's part of who you are and I'm okay with it."

The amount that we judge ourselves is far more, far greater than what other people judge us for, for the most part, and so every time we act vulnerably, we get to see that, we get to position what the voice in our head tells us is wrong with us compared to what the world tells us is wrong with us. That's another thing that's incredibly useful about a long term vulnerability practice.

The main thing that a vulnerability practice gives us that's outside of those two things that we just talked about is, that it allows us to find our truth. You find out that as you speak your truth, even though it's vulnerable, your world starts aligning around your truth instead of your presentation of yourself. All of a sudden, it brings you closer to yourself. The more you're vulnerable, the more you're setting up the world to see you for what you are, to respond to you for what you are.

Over time the world changes around you, because you're not going to accept certain things that you were when you weren't being yourself or you are willing to say things that you weren't willing to say when you weren't being yourself, then all of a sudden you can start understanding yourself more and more clearly, see yourself more clearly, because you're more in alignment and you're more aware of your subtle ways that you are not aligned. That's the biggest benefit of a vulnerability practice.

Brett: What you said about finding that others won't judge us for the same things we judge ourselves for. That seems true, but it also must be true that people will judge us for some of the things we judge ourselves for, and even some things that we don't judge ourselves for. It can't always be true that everything about us will be accepted. What do you have to say to that?

Joe: Yes, it's totally true. We're going to be judged all the time. I think there's a couple of things about it. The first thing that you notice is, that what people are judging you for is really not about you, it's about what they judge themselves for and that becomes pretty apparent if you allow yourself to open to their judgment. 

Oftentimes I work with people and they're like, "People are judging me," I'm like, "Yes, look around there's somebody here judging you, no doubt about it." Just allowing that in for people changes something. It's like, "Oh, I've been running away from this my whole life and it's happening all the time." There's some way in which allowing yourself to be open for the judgement helps, is one of the benefits of the vulnerability. 

The other thing is that there's kind of the current shame and past shame that happens, and oftentimes when you're being vulnerable past shame can be recognized and seen and people don't need to be ashamed of it.

A great example of this is, there are a couple of movies out there, one is called The Work and one is called What I want my words to say to you. There are kind of group process work in prison and you are sitting there with these prisoners in this movie who are telling you their innermost work and you know they're killers. You know they've slashed people open and you're just sitting there like you have this empathy for them, you don't want them to feel ashamed. They are doing the work.

There is a way in which that past shame, which is what is really not useful for us as people. It really helps resolve that and heal that, because generally a lot of people have some acceptance for that if you are being vulnerable about it. If you're being all harsh and hardcore about it, they may not, but current shame is the more likely place where people aren't going to immediately not judge you, like I'm stealing from your house at this exact moment.

That's because current shame is actually quite useful. It's our signal that what we are doing right now isn't what we want to be doing. It's not in alignment with who we are. That's what current shame is for. Past shame is this idea that if I brutalize myself, then it will somehow change the way that I act in the future, which tons of studies show that that's just not true. It's not really useful and it's what really condemns us to repeat that pattern. It's a form of resistance and so that pattern persists. 

On one level, yes, people are definitely going to judge you and there's some benefit in that, because you get to see that they are really just judging themselves, especially in the past shame. Also, the other benefit is, it really helps you point out the current shame that's going on. The shame for what you're doing in this moment or in this day, so that's another way to look at it.

Brett: This is interesting to me, because a lot of the expected reactions that for somebody that we might imagine, can receive criticism and can receive judgment, the expected response you think of from a strong person is just to let it roll off their back and that's not vulnerable. That's like they are protecting, so what is it really that makes you be able to-- What's the difference between letting judgment in a way that doesn't produce unnecessary shame or just trigger and bring up and dredge up past shame and bring into the present moment?

Joe: It's letting it break your heart. If you're feeling your body any time that you're judging somebody, you can feel the discomfort of it. You can feel that it's an avoidance of feeling your own emotions or your own insecurity or your own deeper feelings. There's an exercise that we do, where people basically say what they are judging somebody for and then they identify the feelings underneath that judgment is holding at bay.

What it is, is to actually feel your feelings, feel the judgment, is to let it in, and when you see somebody rolls it off their back, that seems like a strong thing for us. It's strong when it's natural. You're not like, "Okay, I'm going to let that roll off my back, whereas you just don't notice it." It's like that famous saying that, if you're trying to be patient, you're not patient. It's just as strong, if not stronger to lean into it and feel that judgment and let it break your heart.

It doesn't mean that you have to grovel at the floor for the person, which is immediately what people's brains go to. Now you're just a groveling, weak, pathetic person which is incredibly far from the truth. One of the greatest strengths that most people don't have is the ability to actually just feel their emotions. They're just constantly trying to manage them because they're really scared shitless of their emotions.

Then the other thing just to say is, that, if you think about vulnerability and you think about-- The Catholics have confession and AA has its version of making amends and talking about all the things that you did while you were drunk. This is a huge part of almost all healing work, vulnerably admitting to yourself to others what you've done and to see that you're not doomed for it, to see that there is salvation or repentance or whatever you want to call it. That you can still be loved despite this. If we don't share those things, there's no way that the shame can come out of the closet and be seen and be loved.

Brett: One big facet then of vulnerability is, letting judgment in a way that breaks our heart open instead of sending us into a shame cycle, and also there is the vulnerability and feeling the pain behind the judgment that we have for others. What other kinds of vulnerability are there?

Joe: Asking for what you want, that one is usually really vulnerable for people. Drawing boundaries can be incredibly vulnerable for people. Expressing yourself, singing, or sharing your poetry can be very vulnerable for people. I think the most vulnerable thing for almost all of us is letting the love in. It is really dropping our guard and dropping our wall of protection and really allowing love to come in. That's an incredibly vulnerable thing to do, especially if we've been taught, which most of us have, that love is criticism or love is abuse or love is rejection.

Also, speaking of rejection, it's just allowing yourself to be rejected, like you said, with the judgment really. When you allow judgment in and you feel it all the way, it's the same thing as saying, I'm allowing myself to be rejected, and you let that break your heart open, and as you do let that heartbreak what happens-- This is the weird part about it, is that if you really let that heartbreak in and you really feel the pain of it, what happens is it just starts to not bother you.

I had several experiences where there's been something where let's say, it's a lot like judgment, where I noticed that when people judge me, my defense goes up, my chest expands a little bit, and I'd maybe look down on them or something, and I'm like, "I don't want to do that anymore. I don't want to really let that break my heart." I did. For weeks, months, I'm trying to think. It's probably about six weeks, and I'd be crying in odd places and all that crazy stuff, and now when people judge me there's just no, very seldom a reaction.

There's still sometimes a reaction when it's somebody who I deeply love and respect and they do it, and then I'll notice maybe I get defensive, or maybe my heart still breaks, but the tremendous amount of judgment that you get, particularly in a position like this. Tons of people have an opinion and want to judge what you're saying and doing, which is absolutely their right. It doesn't even cross my consciousness anymore, and that's what the heartbreak provides. It provides you the courage to love more deeply.

Brett: Now, there seem to be good game-theoretic reasons to keep our fears and intentions closer to our chests sometimes. How do we speak our truth and share our internal world like this without being taken advantage of?

Joe: Right. Well, the first thing to say is that, like I said, just a little bit earlier boundaries are vulnerable too. When you draw a boundary, you draw it in the way that I think about boundaries, which is not asking somebody else to be different, but saying what you're going to do differently. Like, "Hey, if you're going to yell at me, I'm going to leave." In that kind of a boundary, often what you're saying is, are you going to reject me for being myself? That's what the boundary is saying, and accepting that they might do that.

It's incredibly vulnerable to draw that boundary and also when you're really capable of stepping into that vulnerability, you're less likely to be taken advantage of. Most people are taken advantage of, because there's something in them that says, "No, this isn't right. I know this isn't right, but if I say that, I might get rejected." The vulnerable thing is to say it and find out if you get rejected. Vulnerability actually protects you.

One other way to look at this a little bit is, that most of the time when people are taking advantage of it's because they're avoiding their fear. "I might be poor my whole life and therefore I'll listen to this person or I'm scared that I'll procrastinate my whole life. I'll buy this thing from this guru or I want to make the money. I believe that my boss is going to promote me when they don't promote me." It's fear that allows us to be taken advantage of, not vulnerability.

If you really vulnerably say, "Wow, I just noticed that I'm curious if I'm going to be taken advantage of here." Wow, the chances of you getting taken advantage of are a tremendous amount less. My experience is that people think about differently is, because when they were young, they loved unconditionally, and it hurt, and so they think that they're going to be hurt if they're loving, and vulnerability in the end of the day is an opening up to your love, to your openness, to your truth of who you are, and so people associate that with the pain, but it's actually the fear that drives the being taken advantage of far more.

Brett: What makes this-- You touched on this just now, but let's dig into a little bit more about what makes this so counterintuitive to most of us. If vulnerability really is strength and vulnerability and embracing our fear is the way out of being taken advantage of, what makes so many of us have this block? It may have been the case when we were kids that something happened, but we've grown up now, what makes that persist?

Joe: Yes, when we're kids, and we're not accepted for who we are as kids. Very few if any people get just fully accepted for who they are, "Don't have a temper tantrum, don't cry, don't get angry. Don't get sad. Don't be scared. Man up, lift up your chin." It's like what we are is not fully accepted. "Calm down, don't get so excited, blah, blah, blah."

What that makes us feel is, it makes us feel helpless as kids. It's this deep, helpless feeling of, "This is who I am, and I'm not supposed to be this way and I am having love removed from me if I'm myself," which feels really bad to not be yourself and it feels really bad to get love removed from your parents where your entire biology is designed to get the love from your parents, and so you start to feel scared, and you also feel like you're wrong, and so that's the memory that lives with us, and it controls us. We don't want to feel that.

As I think we've discussed before, there's different brainwaves. There's alpha and beta and theta. Theta is that dream state. It's where you go into hypnosis and kids from zero to seven, zero to eight, they're in theta all the time. This is the programming, the programming is, "Don't be yourself in these ways because if you do, you're going to feel really helpless. You're going to feel scared and you're going to feel wrong," and so when we start to be ourselves, that's the feeling that we have to move through. 

When you move through it two or three times, it's done. You just got to move through it three or four times, two or three times, you're finished. It's not very many times that you have to move through it, and then the system has changed itself. It's like muscle memory more than anything else.

Brett: Right. This muscle memory, our relationship to vulnerability is imprinted on us when we're young by other people, and a lot of things seem like it's about other people and their effect on our imprint of vulnerability, but now when we're doing this work from the inside out, do we need somebody else around to be on the same page with us, to be vulnerable? How do we develop this vulnerability from the inside out when it was patterned on us from the outside in?

Joe: Yes. One of the things that I've noticed is that, when people have really strong access to their emotions, they care less and less what other people think. People who have a really strong ability to feel their anger, have fluid anger and a fluid sadness and fluid fear, that they care less, and it's because they're incredibly related. 

The vulnerable thing to do when you're by yourself is to allow yourself to feel whatever you're feeling. Right now, in this moment, you can close your eyes and there's something in your system emotionally uncomfortable, and you can lean in and open to it, embrace it and welcome it, and that's the same feeling of vulnerability. If we got rejected as a kid, we've rejected it internally as well, and so allowing ourselves to feel it and embracing that intensity. It can be done in really, literally every moment of the day.

That's showing yourself that these feelings that you have, this truth that you have, is acceptable. It's a great way to grok that like, "There is nothing wrong with me." The thing that we think is wrong with us is resisted emotion, emotion that we think we're not supposed to have. Internally, it's jumping off the same cliff, it's like, "Oh, I'm going to allow myself to feel this feeling." It's the same when you're being vulnerable and you're speaking your truth, you're like, "Oh, I might feel rejected. Oh, I might feel judged. Oh, I might feel abandoned," and it's allowing yourself to feel these feelings, whether it's internal or external.

Brett: What's a specific example of one of these feelings, these uncomfortable feelings that we might find if we do this exercise, and then a vulnerable action that might come from embracing that feeling?

Joe: The feelings are some of the ones I've mentioned, like rejection or abandonment or anger. It can be different for everybody, but what can be even more different is what the action is that's vulnerable. 

For me, it was very easy to move to fight if I felt attacked, and what was far harder, more vulnerable for me some years ago was to say "Ouch." to say "That hurt." to say "I'm sorry.", those were far more vulnerable actions, because I felt like I would be attacked if I did that, but there's some people who always say I'm sorry and they're more vulnerable action might be to stand up for themselves.

It's really different. The vulnerability is not something that can be like-- It's not a morality. It's not like this is the place to be vulnerable. This is not. It's in every moment you can feel where your fear and your truth are together and that's the vulnerable action. It's really a very personal thing.

Brett: You're talking about the fight part, how does vulnerability look in the face of outright direct hostility? Perhaps there's no physical danger that you're in, but you're in the face of strong aggression.

Joe: Yes, again, that's different for everybody. The story goes, say Gandhi got shot, and he forgave the person before he died, that might be a great act of vulnerability, but it might not, that's the crazy part. That might have been second nature for Gandhi. 

It's really about seeing what your truth is. If you're in outright attack, the vulnerable thing might be to say, "I don't want to engage with you." That could be really like-- If you learned as a kid that walking away from somebody was something that was going to get you attacked, then that might be the really vulnerable thing, and you might do that five, six, seven times and find out, "Oh, I can do that now," and then now it's not vulnerable anymore and then now, now it's vulnerable. Now it's vulnerable, might be like, "Oh, my goodness, yes, please share all that, I see you're really angry at me. Please share that all with me."

You might do that for five or six times, and all of a sudden that's not vulnerable anymore and then the vulnerable thing might be like, "I love you and it hurts that you're attacking me and I love you, I'm not going to stop loving you." You just can't determine what that is for a person. It's very much what it is for you. It's your truth, it's your fear, it's not anybody else's and it could be, stop it. It could be, I'm not going to accept this from you right now. It could be literally yelling back. 

It's very different for every person, but if you don't feel like you have the freedom to do all of those things, then you're not free. There's a saying that says, if your hand is always in a fist or if your hand is always in a receiving position, both of them are cripple. You really want that flexibility, and vulnerability gives you that.

Brett: A lot of the examples you gave there wasn't really a clear– like it's really person-dependent. People could find themselves using-- I've seen this happen before, people will use vulnerability as a defense, or as a way to attract attention or manipulate a situation, and maybe it'll be a false vulnerability, or maybe they will truly feel that that's vulnerable for them, because it's just making them feel the fear that they’re patterned to feel. What's going on with that?

Joe: Yes, I've got a big smile on my face. This is again, this belief system that weakness is vulnerability. What's happening there often is that people are using-- they're saying, "Look, I'm weak." It's making you feel guilty or making you want to take care of them or making you feel like you've done something wrong. It's really not vulnerability at all. 

If you think about those moments when you've done it, when you've played weak to manipulate or-- we all have on some level played weak to get someone to help us. I think guilting people is one version of this. We're neither in our truth nor are we scared when we're doing that. It's just confusion over again that vulnerability and weakness are the same thing.

Brett: How do you know if you're in one of those situations, how do you know if you are really being vulnerable or you are having bad boundaries or you are trying to control? What's the pointer to that?

Joe: It's when you are in your truth and when you are embracing fear, and not feeling it, but embracing it. A good way to know when you're not being vulnerable is that there's guilt involved, because almost all the time when we're manipulating somebody, there's something that kind of feels dirty in us and that's like a guilt feeling. That's another way to know if you're doing this to control. You see this all the time nowadays where people control by saying, "I don't feel safe."

They say, "I don't feel safe," and that's like, "You have to change for me." We can turn anything into control. We can turn boundaries into control. We can turn vulnerability into control, and you see people do this to where they were like, "I was vulnerable with them and they weren't vulnerable back," as if it's an exchange, it's as if we're keeping score, and that happened, you won, because you get to be vulnerable. If you're keeping score, if it's guilt, then you know that you're not in a vulnerable state.

Brett: Got it. Vulnerability is already widely accepted as a directionally correct heuristic for personal relationships, notwithstanding the challenges and different relationships people have are the definitions of vulnerability, but what about in the workplace? What happens when we bring vulnerability to the workplace, where it often seems like vulnerability should be or is expected to be reduced in a workplace?

Joe: What happens, you manage people better, you sell better, you build better products. That's what happens when you're vulnerable in a workplace. It's interesting to hear you say it, ask the question, because I know that so many corporate environments are built on a lack of vulnerability, but it doesn't matter what you look at. If you look at the people who are outstanding performers, that are really outstanding performers, there's a way in which they're vulnerable in their work. It's even-- I know it's kind of crazy to even say this, it's even in rap music.

If you look at rap music, and all the belligerents and all fronting and saying how cool they are, and how they're going to get everybody else. The people who are most vulnerable in their raps are the most successful, the ones who actually show themselves like Eminem, whatever they are. They are kind of revealing a part of their psychology that would be hard for anybody else to reveal if it was in them. 

Those are often the most successful and it's just like that all the way around if you-- There's tons of stories, there's a woman in Brazil who had her company work without a paycheck for six months, because she was so vulnerable and let them know there's reinventing organizations. 

There's a story of a CEO of a company, they lost a third of their business and he vulnerably went to everybody and said, "I don't know what to do." The whole company was like, "Hey, let's reduce our salaries for a third until we can get another customer in," and they got a customer relatively quickly. 

There's just so many stories. They talk about brand authenticity. That's a vulnerable thing. I saw the head of the COO of Patagonia get up and speak one time and he said, "For brand authenticity, I want to tell you what we're not doing for the environment that we could be doing." He just listed it out. That's how he started. Immediately, everybody was just like, Oh, wow, you really do care about the environment. [laughs]

Whereas other people are like, “This is everything I'm doing.” You know, like greenwashing. Vulnerability works. If you even think about the great presidential speeches and they're evoking a vulnerability of, I am responsible for this. After all, I'm the president. Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country. 

Those sentiments are all these vulnerable sentiments of opening up our humanity, because it's our humanity that creates connection. All businesses is connection. It's a connection to our thoughts. It's a connection to each other. It's a connection to our customers. The deeper we are in connection with ourselves, with our ideas, with our emotions, with our customers, with the product, those levels of connection, it just makes us better in business.

Brett: What tends to happen if somebody who's embarking on this journey right now and bringing more and more of themselves and their vulnerability to their workplace, what can they expect? What's that going to look like?

Joe: Probably a bumpy ride. [laughs] I would say that it's a bit of a bumpy ride at first, because one of the main reasons people fight is the question of who's in charge. If you've been acting like you know everything all the time and you start being vulnerable people might be like, oh, is he not in charge anymore? They might test that for a while until they realize that no, you're still strong. You still are determined. You're just also being real. You're just creating connection. Also, most of the time when people start being vulnerable, they oscillate between vulnerable and defended, and that creates a confusing signal for the company. It can be a little bit of a bumpy ride, but it definitely turns the corner relatively soon if you commit to it. 

What happens is, you know yourself better. There's a famous Drucker quote, which is basically, "You can't manage others if you can't manage yourself." Self-knowledge happens. People are more prone to trust you, because you're actually real with them. You create, like I said, deeper connections and people they follow authenticity. If you really look at who we pick as our leaders, they can be assholes. They can be kind. They can be saints. They can be incredibly intelligent, but the people that we pick are the people who are authentic. The less authentic say, a presidential candidate is, the more it feels like they're putting on a show, the less likely they are to get elected.

Brett: I like that you pointed out the people that we pick as our leaders because, in the workplace, there's often an assumption that we didn't pick our boss, but we really did pick our job and pick who's going-- we did in a sense. Now as a leader, as a boss, and you had mentioned that as people show up to the workplace with more vulnerability, they go back and forth between clean vulnerability and then being messy and that can be really disorienting for people around them. As a leader, how can you create an environment that allows people that space, that slack for messiness as they show up and try to bring more vulnerability?

Joe: That's a great question. A question that a lot of people never get to. I would say that the real way to do this is to have really clear boundaries. No emotions at people, you take accountability for the mess that you make. Those are the things that are most useful for the people who are there. Somebody says, I'm going to be vulnerable, and they are vulnerable and in a normal business, maybe they would say, that was unprofessional, we need you to be professional. Basically, take that part of yourself and stuff it. I'm not saying that's a bad thing, but it's just not the most efficient thing.

If you're choosing to be vulnerable and somebody does that same really big mess, it's like, I really understand and again, at the end of the day, these are still your responsibilities and it's still your job to treat your employees or your peers with respect. How do we accept this part of you and still make sure that all the other expectations are met? I think a lot of the times when people start being vulnerable– It can allow people to get messy and too entwined in trying to save each other. If somebody is vulnerable with you and then you try to save them, it can get really quite messy.

It's really the thing is, if someone's vulnerable with you, it's how do you empower them? How do you turn it around so that they see that there's actions that they can take responsibility for? As an example of this, I was recently working with somebody, I was very explicit, "Please do not do this. It will hurt a lot of our customers if you do it." They went ahead and did it. I basically said, "Oh, I noticed that I've lost trust and I don't want to work with anybody that I don't trust. The way that I could see rebuilding trust is that you identify what created that behavior in you and you tell me how you're addressing it so that I can be confident it's not going to happen again."

It's just an incredibly clear boundary and holding them accountable, which is the deep form of empowerment and there was no anger. There was no shame. There is no you've been bad. There was no me trying to save them. There was just [laughs] I actually appreciated them for showing me some things in the conversation that we had prior. Where I was like, "Oh, I really appreciate that you showed me these things and these are ways that I can improve, and I still notice that I don't have trust in you."

Brett: Something you got to a little earlier was, vulnerabilities seems to be contagious. If you show up to a relationship or a workplace becoming more vulnerable, it seems that often others will become more vulnerable too. You can just expect that to happen and that you can expect them to be messy. Maybe if you're doing it from the framework of VIEW in our course, you might have more theory to fall back on on how to let your messiness be and they might have less.

It seems like as we are preparing ourselves to experience being more messy as we become vulnerable, we can just expect other messiness to show up around us and vulnerability. What´s your advice for that? 

Joe: Well, first of all, yes, messiness is going to show up, but it's not going to be more messy than what's happening now. It's just going to be added, it's just going to be raised to the surface. It's not that vulnerability just is going to make your world a mess for a while. It's just going to shine light into the corners you haven't swept. 

Every one of those messes if it's approached with more vulnerability and boundaries and that kind of thing, then the world gets more and more clean, and then there's less and less friction and then everything happens more and more smoothly.

The question that you're asking though is still a good one, which is, “What do you do when you shine the light and see that there's a whole bunch of dirt?” The response is, you clean it out and VIEW conversations are a great way to do that. It's really working with each other and holding each other accountable with vulnerability, impartiality, empathy, and wonder.

Brett: As we continue to practice vulnerability, how does the way that we express it change over time? Beyond this early shifting that seems like it might be higher magnitude, what then happens over a longer period?

Joe: A deep authenticity shows up. I think about my wife all the time in this. Particularly other women, I watch them just sit in awe of my wife often, it's almost like they're watching a puppy. The same kind of awe that you see a puppy with. You've met her. You know. She's just so much of herself. She's just like, “Oh, tea, flowers.” She's so in her world of joy and everybody's like, “Oh, and that's what happens is that you're more yourself and more yourself means you're more in love. It means there's more joy in your life.”, and people want to be around that. People are fascinated with that and it creates awe in people.

Think about it this way. Think about a friend that you have, that you like very much, you have a deep love for and there's just something that bothers you about them. You put that person in your mind and imagine if that thing that they bothered you with, they were just super vulnerable. They are like, “I noticed that I am constantly bragging and I'm really sorry for that. It's not how I want to be with you. I don't want to have to try to make myself feel good or make you feel bad.” That's one example. Just imagine you have a friend like that. What happens in your system if they're vulnerable like that with you? You immediately want to be around them more.

Brett: You drop the defense. You drop the judgment.

Joe: Exactly, and that's what happens. The more you're vulnerable, the more that happens. 

Sales is the same thing. There's good studies about people who care more about the relationship, who are actually really driven by serving the people through sales, and how much better they do performance-wise. It's not the only thing that makes a good salesperson for sure. There's definitely data that challenging people can make you a better salesperson, but challenging people is a form of care. Asking questions helps sales. We know that but asking questions actually shows a concern for them as well.

In a weird way, if you look at all of the things that make great salespeople, they're all based on the fact that they're centered on the other person, that they're not about closing the deal. It's about building the relationship. It's about helping the person discover something. It's about entering into their world. In sales, it's the same thing. It's like all those things are very vulnerable moves. 

If you look at creating relationships generally, or you think about the people in business that you want to work with the next time you're in business. You're starting your company and you can handpick 10 people that you want to work with. How many of those are based on some level of connection that you feel with that person? It's probably something like 7 out of 10, and then the other three are highly competent in something. That's another way to look at it.

Brett: A point you brought up about challenging people was interesting. There are vulnerable ways to challenge somebody and there're invulnerable ways to challenge somebody. Let's assume that you've done it in the most vulnerable way. Let's say, it's sales business, something relatively high stakes, and other people are depending on it. You are authentically vulnerable in a way that challenges somebody. What if that is received as an attack?

Joe: Then you apologize. Then you say I'm so sorry I had no intention of attacking you. I was just hoping that we could discover something together. If you're challenging, asking scary questions is a huge part of VIEW and that is challenging. Almost always when that question is really scary, it's really challenging. 

If you do it with vulnerability, which is the scary part, the impartiality, empathy, and wonder, then it's far less likely to be seen as an attack. Still, it can be seen as an attack, and then you just go, “I'm sorry, I had no intention of attacking you.” Or you double down and you say, “What's making you defensive. I don't understand. What are you defending?” Which would be another scary question. If you're actually in wonder, not in judgment. If you're not trying to prove yourself right.

Brett: That points back to the state of being that VIEW is, because you could say, “What makes you so defensive?” Or you could say, really, “What makes you defend against that?”

Joe: Yes, exactly. Or you can say, “Oh, I see that I have offended you. I really don't want to offend you. Can you help me see what it is that I've attacked in what you're defending?” Because you must really care about it if you're defending it.

Brett: We talked a lot about what vulnerability is and what it looks like. Let's talk a little bit more about the state of being that all of this points to. How we can know when we're in it and when we're not in it. What are some compass points that point towards this vulnerability, so that we can use as we walk away from this episode?

Joe: That's great. Intellectually, like we said and probably several times now that you're inviting your fear and you're saying what's true to you. That's the intellectual. I guess part of that's emotional, inviting your fear. There's also a heart-opening– and the fear can often turn to excitement, if you fully embrace that vulnerability, or it does maybe through the process of saying the thing that you want to say. There's that heart openness that happens. 

From the guts perspective, it's very much like, yes let's do this. There might be a no in the nervous system but the gut is like, yes, this is true, this is it. That's what you can feel. Those are the ways to feel the vulnerability but the easiest is just to say, oh, what's the scary thing that's true for me right now?

Brett: I think one of the things that's in both, the fear and the excitement of saying the vulnerable thing, is knowing that your idea or your authenticity is about to be tested. Knowing that the relationship you're about to find out how real it is for the other person, or how much connection there actually is here. Or you're about to find out if you're going to be rejected or not instead of continuing to wonder for a long time while you pretend to be somebody else.

Joe: Yes, that's such a beautiful way of putting it. It's true. The interesting thing your mind does in these moments is, that what your mind does is, it seems like that's the end of it. Like, “Oh my God, I'm going to see if I get rejected, and then they reject you.” You can double down on vulnerability and you can be like, “Ouch. I was really hoping not to be rejected and I don't want to push you into not rejecting me.” Then they might go, “Wait, hold on. I'm not trying to reject you here. I just want to be seen in my truth. What am I missing?” It doesn't end.

The thing is it just never ends, but the fear tells us that there's this cliff and it's over that cliff. Oh, we're going to be rejected. I can't tell you how many times–

Today at lunch, there was an old babysitter of ours and her mother was sitting there and I saw them. I'd seen the babysitter maybe two or three years back, and she didn't look happy. I saw her today and she looked great. I said, "Wow, you look great." She said, "Oh, Thanks." I was like, "Yes, the last time I saw you, you looked like you're wilting a little bit and it's just great to see you look so good." 

I'm sitting at lunch with my daughter, 11-years-older and the mother comes over and chastises me for saying what I said to her daughter. I could feel rejected and I did for a moment. I was like, “Oh, ouch.”, and then I walked over and I looked at the daughter and I said, "I'm sorry, I had no intention of offending you and I'm sorry if I offended you." Then she said, "Oh, it's no problem. I just couldn't figure out a time recently where I've felt withered or whatever, felt bad." I was like, "I don't think I've seen you for two or three years." She was like, "Oh, okay." The mom was still twisted about whatever what was going on, but the daughter, she thanked me, "Oh, thank you for apologizing." I'm like, "Yes, no problem." There's no end. There's just when you want to stop. Sometimes it's really vulnerable to say, "I can't do this anymore."

Brett: There's two directions I want to go with that. One that reminded me of a story from about 10 years ago, working on a commercial production job. The key actor who was a famous musician at the time showed up to set and just looked like death. Everybody on set tiptoed around that and just coddled and then he sits down, and the makeup girl walks up, and she's just like, "Wow, you look like shit." He was just like, all of a sudden all this tension just released. He's like, "Oh, my God. Yes, I just feel like crap. I've been having these personal issues and this and that and the sleep–" He just got to just let it all out.

Joe: Yes, exactly. I don't know how many times I've said, "Wow, you're being an ass." But with just total joy and no judgment in the system and the person's like, "Oh, yes, I kind of I am, fuck." Then we have a real conversation. It feels vulnerable to say that though. 

Brett: Which brings another thing to be excited about with vulnerability, is the dropping of pretense. You're about to find out. This is probably where part of the fear comes in, that you're going to have to revise your model of reality because you're testing it.

Joe: Yes, exactly. All the time. Yes, that's it. That's beautifully said. 

Brett: Well, this has been a great episode, Joe. Thank you so much for your time.

Joe: A total pleasure. I look forward to the next one, Brett.

Brett: Likewise. Take care.

Thanks for listening to The Art of Accomplishment.  If you enjoyed what you heard today, please subscribe & rate us in your podcast app. We would love your feedback, so feel free to send us questions and comments. To reach out to us, join our newsletter, or check out our courses at


The Work (2017): Video Link

What I Want My Words To Do To You: Article Link

Drucker: Article Link

October 26, 2020

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VIEW is a state of mind that, through a series of experiments and exercises, you can learn to drop into with ease. When we approach conversations from VIEW we are able to understand others and ourselves in any situation and in a way where even conflict can bring joy and connection.


Episode intro:   

Think about this way.  If you have a conversation with a person and at the end of that conversation, they feel like they understand themselves and their business better, they want to continue to have conversations with you. 

Welcome to the Art of Accomplishment, where we explore how deepening connection with ourselves and others leads to creating the life we want with enjoyment and ease.

My name is Brett Kistler.  I am an adventurer, entrepreneur and a self exploration enthusiast.  I am here with my co-host, Joe Hudson. Joe is a business coach who has  spent decades working with some of the world´s top executives and teams developing a unique model of human patterns that underpin how we operate with ourselves, each other and the world. A good entry point into this model is a mindset called VIEW, vulnerability, impartiality, empathy and wonder.  

Through understanding and cultivation we learn to easefully drop into the VIEW state of mind, deepening self awareness and increasing our connection with the world around us. To learn more about this podcast or courses, visit

There are so many approaches out there for deepening communication and interpersonal skills, whether in the realm of the personal or the professional.  These frameworks are often composed of learned strategies and techniques that offer perspective style adjustments that may be directionally correct, but most fall short of pointing to the root conditions that facilitate true depth in human connection.  What if the key ingredient at the core of strong communication was not a strategy, but a state of mind?  How can we cultivate a more connective way of being through practice in our relationships as they are right now?  These are the questions behind a practice we call VIEW, which we will be covering in this 5-part series. 

Brett: Great. Joe, what is VIEW?

Joe: Practically, it's a way to have conversations. It's a communication methodology that allows your conversations to be far more effective. By effective, I mean more connected, more intimate and more productive, from anything from sales to product development to conversations with your husband or wife or coworker. It's particularly good at creating, like I said, more connection. Also, it's really good at embracing any kind of conflict or having difficult conversations. Practically, that's what it is. Realistically, it's a state of mind. It's communicating from a state of mind, and practicing that state of mind.

Brett: What do you mean by "realistically"?

Joe: To answer that question, I have to really talk about how the whole thing came about. The way that it came about was, I was an investor for a while. I hired this consultant at some point. This consultant had this amazing capacity. He had this capacity to do two things. One, he could sit down and have a conversation with somebody, and in a very short period of time, they could have a breakthrough where they would see themselves and the world differently in a way that gave them more freedom, and more capacity.

He also had this great ability to sell. He couldn't sell what he didn't believe in, so he always sold stuff that he really cared about, but he could sell. I would watch him sit with somebody who was absolutely the opposite of him in characteristic. He would just ask questions, and he would end up selling whatever it is that he was there to sell, about 80% of the time. I would say generally, he had an 80% hit rate in both of these two kinds of conversations.

I would say to him, "Wow, how did you do that?" He goes, "It's not the technique. You can't do this if you're channeling the technique." I've tried. This guy was a character. His name was Case. He would just be like, "You can't learn this. It's not a technique." That's what he would say. Anyway, Case got ill with cancer, unfortunately, has passed away. He wanted a very particular technique of healing that you can only find in California.

He came to California and he lived with my family. We became very close. We were very close before that. I would watch him have these conversations every day. I've learned a lot through osmosis. I had already been 20-something years of self-discovery, so a lot of it made sense to me. When he passed, I was like, "I know there's other people who can do this." I knew one famous person who could have a similar set of conversations. I was like, "I'm going to find out what makes this tick." I went around the world looking for people, found people, and realized what they all had in common. What they all had in common was VIEW, the acronym of VIEW. I'm sure we'll get into it in a second.

The main thing is that it is the state of mind that allows it. It is not the technique. That's why I say realistically, it's the state of mind because if you see this and view this as a technique, it won't work. If you see it as practicing a state of mind that allows for the technique to work if there's a technique even needed, there's definitely a technique that helps, then you can have a tremendous amount of success with it, and not just the success of like, "Wow, now I can have good conversations.” It's success in like, "Oh, now I talk to myself in a different way. Now I am in a frame of mind and I have a perspective that's more open, more free, more loving."

Brett: Come to think of that, I've seen some of the aspects of this work in other places as techniques and they just never seem to land quite as deeply, and the state of mind concept seems to really be key here. Can you explain a little bit more about that?

Joe: Neurologically and physically, when we communicate, there's a lot of things going on besides what we say. There is our body language, there is the empathy that's happening via mirror neurons, there's intonation, there's micro-expressions, there's so many things that are happening outside of language. As animals with mirror neurons, we know that that's happening. Whether we want to admit it to ourselves or not, there's some part of us that has the awareness of this stuff and they can't be faked.

Micro-expressions can't be faked. It is a representation of what's actually happening in your system on an emotional level and on a nervous system level. If you are using it as a technique, it can't work, because the actual state of mind is going to shine through in these other non-intellectual ways. If you think about that for a second, it's like this. It's a very cool thought process.

If you see people, they learn these great techniques that are out there, like  nonviolent communication or something like that and all of a sudden, they've been weaponized. You just see them being weaponized. It's like you see all this communication training go south. If you've done communication training, you know you've done it and then it's gone south. It's because communication is a natural out-point of your state of mind. It can help you change your state of mind, but if you just focus on it like I'm practicing a state of mind, and that communication comes out of it, it's just far more successful.

Brett: Can you give us an example of that?

Joe: Yes. Let's say your boyfriend or girlfriend wants your undivided attention and you don't really want to give it to them.  You want to watch the soccer match or you want to watch ER or whatever it is, but you decide like, "Oh, they're going to be pissed if I don't, or oh my god, I'm going to listen to the bitch forever if I don't", so then you give them your attention, but it's unwilling. It's full of resentment. It's frustrating, let's just say.

Inevitably, you'll be paying attention to the person who asked you to pay attention and then they're going to start getting frustrated. Now, you don't really want to be here and you're like, "What the hell? I just stopped what I was doing to give you the attention that you asked for. Now that's not good enough?” Who hasn´t been in this conversation?

Brett: That's how it starts.

Joe: Yes, exactly. That's how it starts, and it's because it's obvious in everything besides your language that you don't want to be there paying attention. It doesn't feel good, because we know it and that's what I mean. If the state of mind isn't, "Oh, I want to pay attention to you," it will never work. If the state of mind in the communication is "I'm trying to get something out of you," which is the antithesis of VIEW, then it'll never work, no matter what technique you use.

Brett: Then sometimes we actually are duped by believing somebody's intentions that aren't true through whatever techniques they're using. How does that work when somebody's state of mind doesn't shine through?

Joe: The state of mind, maybe if they're like sociopaths so they're not actually having a very natural human experience when they're talking to you, outside of something like that, then it's really two things that happen, when you can't sense this from other people. One is that you have something you want to believe and they are giving you that. We'll believe a lie if it rhymes with the truth that we want to believe.

Now you see this in mass media all the time. It's like, "Okay. Cool. They said that and that rhymes with what I believe, so I'm going to buy into that," or salespeople or infomercials. "Yes. You can be rich and without any effort." "Oh, I want to believe that so you can--" That's part of the ways that we get duped is, that we're actually basically duping ourselves. The other thing that happens is, that, if you study trauma and I don't mean huge trauma. That also is true, like a war trauma or a car accident of trauma, but even the minor traumas of always been criticized by somebody who is supposed to be nurturing you.

When we hear somebody that reminds us of that trauma, then we're not actually hearing them, we're not actually with them, we're with the person or people who helped us get that trauma into our bones. There's this great data on that about how you're not in the same time and space when you're moving to trauma. You see this with war veterans all the time in a major way, where they think they're in the war even though they're on their living room sofa. It happens in minor ways all the time. In those places, then we're not really aware of the person's intentions. Those are the two main ways it happens.

Brett: Those times when somebody starts acting like a child and it's like, "Wait a minute. Okay, they're acting the age they were, when the thing that this is mapping onto occurred to them."

Joe: Exactly. That's exactly right. It's why you can learn really duplicitous sales techniques and they work one out of eight times, because you're just basically fishing for the fish who wants that bait. You can do that, and it looks like it works. If you're authentic and you're actually in a deep care for the person, then it works a lot more effectively, and there's great studies on this of what the best sales techniques are.

You see that they did this with car salesmen. It was even a used car salesman. They were like, "Who are the most effective car salesmen?" There was good car salesman and really good car salesmen, and then there was these just unbelievably great salesmen, just in numbers. The cases of those unbelievably great performers, it was because they actually cared about their customer. They saw it as a relationship.

Those relationships came back over and over again. They saw their job is to really help that person be in the right vehicle, and people knew it and so it worked. The numbers were far better than the whatever it is, one in eight. You can't quote me on it, but it was something like three times the performance of an average car salesperson.

Brett: What does VIEW stand for?

Joe: The acronym. V is the vulnerability, I is impartiality, E is empathy and W is wonder. That's what it stands for, vulnerability, impartiality, empathy and wonder. That's really describing the state of mind. There's some techniques layered on top of that, not much and they're not necessary if you're actually in that vulnerable, impartial, empathetic, and full-of-wonder state of mind.

Brett: It seems like almost ways to check that you're in the state of mind. If you're in the state of mind that these point to, then you will be having vulnerability, impartiality, empathy and wonder.

Joe: Yes. It's like that. It's also they're great ways. I use these four ways to describe it, because they're great ways to sink into it quickly. If you're not there, what are the best techniques, what are the best words or reminders to get you there quickly?

Brett: That makes sense. Let's go through each of them. What do each of these mean to you?

Joe: Vulnerability is to speak your truth even when it's scary. That's what it is to be vulnerable, is to be very much yourself in your truth, even though you're scared of the result or the potential results. Impartiality is not trying to achieve an outcome for yourself or others. It's far more like wandering, than it is like goal orientation. Empathy is to be with a person in their emotions. Wonder, it's a lot like curiosity except for you're not looking for the answer. There's a lot more awe in wonder than there is in curiosity, but you're definitely not looking for the answer.

Brett: Vulnerability sounds a lot like a weakness for a lot of people. How did you come up with this definition for vulnerability?

Joe: Yes. I think the reason that people think being vulnerable as being weak is because they get confused with the difference between being weak and feeling weak. When we are vulnerable, there's often a visceral response in our bodies, an emotional response, a nervous system response like, "Oh, I'm going to get weak. I'm being weak and I'm going to get attacked." You're going to get that when you're being vulnerable, especially for the first 10 or so times.

I think that's where that confusion comes from. Vulnerable, the reason I describe it this way is, if you're not in your truth, you can't be vulnerable. If you're not in your truth, there's no exposure. If I'm pretending to be somebody else and you attack me for being somebody else, it's like, "Well, they're not really attacking me. They're attacking someone else." That's the truth part of it. Then the second part of it is even when it's scary.

Being in our truth isn't scary, if we don't think we're going to get attacked. Being in our truth isn't scary, when we don't feel like somebody will judge us, being in our truth isn't scary when we aren't scared of the consequences, and so vulnerability is being in your truth, even when we're scared of those consequences. It's really the opposite of weakness.  It's actually an incredible form of strength.

Brett: Courage.

Joe: It's a very deep practice. Yes. It can take you a very long way if you practice it on a daily basis.

Brett: Yes. It reminds me of the definition of courage, which is that courage isn't the lack of fear, courage is the willingness to feel fear.

Joe: Yes. Not overcome it but feel it, that is so right. Yes. That's it. Yes, that's vulnerability.

Brett: Yes. Let's get into impartiality. It sounds impossible, especially in business. Theoretically, you could just be completely impartial in your entire life and how would you get anywhere that you want to go?

Joe: [laughs] Yes, that's the assumption.

Brett: There has to be some partiality.

Joe: Yes, there definitely is some partiality. If you really, really pay attention, every sentence that we have has some little bit of an agenda in it. It's very asymptotic in that way, meaning that we can keep on getting less and less partial, but we can't become completely 100% impartial. 

What I'm talking about here is the difference between getting in your car at a very specific time to get to your job at a very specific time and making sure that you get there and getting in a car and driving around, following what feels great to follow in that moment, and wandering like the old-fashioned Sunday drive. That's what I'm talking about. 

In that case, one is highly partial. It is "Let's get in the car, let's get there, let's get there on time. This is the route I want to take, and I don't want traffic and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah." One of them is like, "I'm partial on the fact that I want to take a drive, but I don't care where I end up and I am here to enjoy myself," so that's the thing. The reason this is so important is because we feel when somebody has an agenda for us and we resist it.

Just tell a two-year-old to do something and the nature of them, they say no, right? The more agenda that we have and you feel with a salesperson all the time, they really want you to buy the less you want to buy. Even if you buy, you're like, "No." It's like, "Stop fucking trying to sell me." That's what I mean by agenda and with business, what's interesting is, everyone thinks that you need to be highly partial to be good at business. You do have to have a clear intention.  You do have to have a clear goal. There's no doubt there.

How you get there if you're really highly partial, it's going to slow you down, because there might be 10 ways to get there that are better or quicker or better for the people who are getting you there. Impartiality is actually far more efficient as a way of getting someplace in business. The way I talk about or think about that often is, there is a river that we are on, particularly in business where there's where the customer wants to go, what's needed, what's wanted, where the employees want to go.

If you are reading that river and going with that river, then there's a lot less effort. If you decide you're going against that river, if you decide that you are going to not go with the flow but go against the flow or counterflow, it's a lot more effort and--

Brett: Or build a canal, as you've said before.

Joe: [laughs] Yes, or build a canal. Yes. That's the thing. To be impartial, it works incredibly well. I work with, as you know, some executives running companies of thousands of people, and there's this amazing click that happens when they realize like, "Oh, if I can be impartial in these ways, not give up my goal but be impartial in how this thing happens and be impartial with people, I actually discover what is, and then I can use that information and use that data to create a better plan.

“If I don't try to force a particular thing and we just agree on a goal, then all of a sudden, things move so much quicker and have so much more efficiency." It's the hardest one for people to get, impartiality. It's the hardest one for people to get. Yes.

Brett: It reminds me of an example you've mentioned before about trying to plan a whole basketball game.

Joe: That sounds like a good example. Can you tell me what it is? I've completely forgotten.

Brett: Oh, yes. You have a clear goal, which is to put the ball in the hoop, and if you try to plan the whole thing and you're partial to "No, the ball is going to go to this person now," but somebody is already in the way. Passing it to them is clearly not a good idea. If you're not open to other options, then you're not going to make it to your goal.

Joe: That's it. That's exactly it. Yes. Awesome. Thanks for remembering that.

Brett: Empathy then. Some folks feel lost in empathy, and they get lost in the other person, and they lose their own goals, they lose their own wants.

Joe: Yes. Empathy isn't that. I would say empathy is being with somebody in their emotions. It's not avoiding their emotional state, it's not trying to change their emotional state, it's not trying to make them happy, it's not trying to get them to an epiphany. Empathy is just like, "Oh, you're there and I'm with you," but it's also not being in it with them. It's not believing the story and saying, "Oh, it's true. Your husband does that, your wife does dah, dah, dah, and your boss...Oh my God, they are taking advantage." It's also not losing your own emotional state. Oftentimes, we'll be so empathetic with people that whatever they're feeling, we're feeling. 

Brett: "Oh, you're right. I am the bad guy, I am terrible to you. Oh, shame."

Joe: Yes. That's a perfect way that people are empathetic in a way that they've lost themselves, so it's not true empathy. True empathy-- being with somebody, it's being next to them, it's holding their hand, it's not losing yourself in them.

Brett:  Then wonder then. You said wonder and not curiosity or as opposed to or distinct from curiosity. Why not curiosity? Why wonder?

Joe: Curiosity, it's a lovely thing. It's like, "Oh, what's happening over there?" There's something that switches in your physical state. If you just, right now, think to yourself, "Oh, what's happening for Brett in this conversation?", there's an open expansiveness that happens with that question, but then as soon as you try to figure it out, something constricts. Wonder is living in the openness of the question with awe. Curiosity can be that, but curiosity can also become very focused on need the answer, need the answer, need the answer. I'm pointing, by using the word "wonder," to that being in the question without needing to get an answer.

If you just stop and think about, "What would it be like to be with a person who's just in the question with me, who just has wonder about what's happening with me and they don't need me to solve anything?" You can feel your whole system relax. 

Brett: It makes for a lot of ease in a sales conversation as well.

Joe: Right. Exactly, because if you're not in that ease and you're focused on trying to figure out, "Err," then the person's mirror neurons are like, "I don't want to be around this."

Brett: In a way, all of this feels very process-based.

Joe: Yes, that's right. It's interesting that you mention it. Recently, I was watching a TED Talk on design process. One of the things that they were talking about in this lecture was how if you're shooting for a result, you won't get it. The thing you have to do is stay focused on the process, and it's going to go sideways, it's not going to go well at times, but the output is consistently better, than if you're going for a particular result.

If you look at design theory, they all talk about this process and having faith in the process and that it will lead you to the outcome. If you leave the process, it won't lead you to the outcome. This is the exact same thing. It's very much like living principled. You're saying, "Here are the principles I'm living by, because I know consistently if I live by them, it works out in the way that works for me and works for my deepest truth."

It's the same thing with this. That guy, Case, that I talked about in the earlier part of the program.  He would get into these conversations because I have no idea what the hell is going to happen. He would always point it to that. That's what he's saying. He's saying that "I don't know what's going to happen, because if I did or if I tried to make it happen in a particular way, it's going to go to shit. It's far better for me to just be in this process and trust the process."

Brett: It sounds like this is a way to trust and flow with the self-organizing, social and business dynamics that are already occurring and not get in the way of them through a narrow-minded constraint or management of the process or over-management.

Joe: Yes, that's right. An example is, that for a while there I directed short films. One of the things that I learned was that if I wanted a very specific result from an actor, I'd get a horrible performance, whereas if I could give the actor a clear objective, then their performance just did really, really well. It's a really similar thought process, is that if you hold that objective and you trust in the process, then it works out.

That's not to say, this is an interesting part, because a lot of people when they start learning VIEW, they think, "Then I'm not allowed to have an opinion, or I'm not allowed to have a boundary," that's absolutely not the case. Those are really important things, and they can be actually incredibly vulnerable things to say, and in business all the time, I'll say, "What I'm not okay with is this." I'll just leave that upfront on the table. Like, "This isn't working for me. Here are the reasons it doesn't work for me. How do we solve that problem?" But then I'm impartial once I have that. 

I'm even impartial as far as if someone says, "Why, what is it? What are you missing, dah, dah, dah?" I'm open to listening to that. If I'm not convinced out of it, I'm not going to pretend that I am to be in a VIEW conversation, because I can't be, because if I'm not being true to myself inside the conversation, I can't be vulnerable. I can't be impartial either, for that matter, and it's very hard to be curious. 

Brett: The person's not doing business with you.

Joe: Yes, exactly. You're right, exactly, and then it's going to go to shit eventually anyhow. Exactly.

Brett: You mentioned earlier that there are techniques. This is all a process around a frame of mind that it emerges from, but that there are techniques. There must be something to help point us back to this frame of mind. Can you tell me a little more about that?

Joe: Yes. It's how and what questions. That's the entirety of the technique is to ask how and what questions. There is a technique that's more for running meetings that I've developed as well. The general thing is how and what questions, and the reason is, because they're open-ended questions. If you say, "Do you like ice cream?" I get to say yes or no. If you say, "How do you feel about ice cream?" You might hear a story of my childhood, and you might hear that chocolate chip is my favorite, then you might hear about my dairy allergy, or you might hear how I had a cow when I was a kid. You have no idea what you're going to hear. You get access to so much more data, which shows that you're actually in wonder. If you only want to hear yes or no, you're not really in wonder.

It's how/what questions, which are mainly-- because they are open questions. Obviously, there's who, what, where, when, and why. All those other ones are good, but they're just not very common. How and what are the most common ones, and we don't use why questions in the technique because of two reasons. One is most people when they're saying a why question, they're in judgment. It's, "Why'd you do that?" There's not real curiosity there. It's just like, "You should feel shitty, and I want you to make an excuse for yourself." That´s really what that communication is.

Brett: "Why wasn't this done on time?"

Joe: "Why wasn't this done on time?" It's like you're looking for them to make an excuse. You're already in a judgment place with them. Typically, not always. The other reason, that why questions don't work so well, is because they're the hardest questions to actually answer. There's somebody who said why questions are the questions that scientists can't answer. Like, "Why is the sun?" is a really hard question and I would say an unanswerable question, whereas "What makes the sun, how did the sun get there?" Those are answerable questions. That's the other thing.

Brett: At least there was a lot of information you can speak on about it.

Joe: Yes, exactly, so true. Exactly, you get information. You get data. The other thing is, usually when I talk about all this, somebody will say to me, "Yes, but you can be judgmental with how/what questions." Yes, you can. You can be judgmental with anything.

Brett: "What makes you such a dick?"

Joe: Yes. The funniest thing is when I'm doing VIEW, I might actually ask that question like, "Hey, what's making you such a dick right now?" If I say it from VIEW, if I say it with vulnerability, impartiality, if I say it like, "Oh my God, this is scary to say this to this person," but it's true for me that they're being a dick and I'm actually quite curious, I have wonder there and I don't really need them to answer in a particular way, nor do I want them not be a dick, and I actually can empathize with them, then their answers can be--. It happens all the time in my world where I can say, "What's making you such a dick right now?" and they'll laugh, or they'll say, "Oh, yes, I've had a bad day or blah, blah, blah" because it's not, "What makes you such a dick?"

Brett: One of those ways of asking it is open to all answers like, "Hey, did you have a rough day? What's going on with you?" Another one of them is just like, "You better have a really fucking good excuse for this."

Joe: That's exactly it. Why questions just imply it more, and it's easier for the person on the other side to assume it, than how or what questions. Also, how and what questions make you reframe questions in a new way, which triggers your brain. It opens your neurology for a second when you say to somebody something like, "What is it that's making you such a dick?" It's not a way we'd normally phrase the question. It does something to them and to us.

Brett: Yes. I've found after doing this work, there's been so many times I've been in a conversation, I'm about to say something and it starts with something other than how or what, and then I pause and then I find the thing I'm curious about. Then a question comes out and the conversation goes in a totally different direction.

Joe: That's right. Yes, exactly. That's what happens all the time. It's not just different. It's also far more meaningful and productive often. I'll do this in a room full of high-powered executives. After we have our first few conversations, I'll say, "You just had a 10-minute meeting. Have you ever had such a productive 10-minute meeting?" That's the moment of realization that everybody goes through where they're like, "Holy crap, without an agenda, I just solved more puzzles or I just overcame more roadblocks than I have having an hour-long meeting with a direct report, pushing them to an answer."

Brett: Right. There's a two-sidedness to it. There's the side that we'd spoke to earlier, where the open-ended questions give you more information, more data. On the other side, the person gets to be heard and speak their piece and speak to their wants and needs rather than checking a box of like, "Oh, which option was I given, vanilla or chocolate?"

Joe: Yes. Exactly. Because of that, you can actually come up with a better solution for a problem if you're in that position, in the conversation. But also, oftentimes that's all that anybody actually needs. I see this happen all the time where say a manager wants to be able to go in one direction and the people don't want to go and all they actually need is to be heard. When they get fully heard, they're like, "Okay, I'll go in that direction. That makes sense." We've all lived in that situation where we are basically being stubborn and, “No, I don't want to do it.” Then when we feel fully heard, we're like, "Oh, okay."

Brett: Almost every complaint I've ever heard about a boss or an employee has had some form of, I don't feel heard in it.

Joe: Yes. That's right. Tell me a time that you were at your peak productivity and you felt unheard.

Brett: Yes, no.

Joe: Yes. Exactly. Nobody can.

Brett: Unless I was shutting myself out from everybody else and doing peak productivity with myself.

Joe: Right. Which means that you were being productive in a team. That's right.

Brett: Let's swing back to the science around this. Tell me more about that.

Joe: There's a lot of stuff out there in psychology, neuroscience and CBT, all sorts of different kinds of studies, that support what's happening if you're in a VIEW state of mind. Let's focus on, let's say two or three of the main ones. One of them is just a simple thing. If you are under attack, you can't be curious, or if you're under attack, you can't learn because you're not curious. We know this and on many different levels. One, we know that if kids feel under stress, they don't do as well on tests. They don't learn as quickly.

We know that if two people are in a fight-- here's something you've never seen, one person's like, "You son of a blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, I hate you, dah, dah, dah and you're stupid, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah." The other person says, "Oh, you know what? You're right. I get your point." We don't do that, because it's neurologically not possible. That's, let's say the extreme attack where we can never see somebody, ended up being curious or learning.

Then there's just more and more subtle forms of attack. The most subtle forms of attack are you just trying to push somebody into doing what you want them to do, be happy, stop crying, just do this task. The more that attack is there, the more you're trying to push somebody into something and be different than who they are, the less able they are to learn. That's just a simple one.

If you think about it this way, it's like, if you close your eyes and you visualize yourself running from a lion and you're running as fast as you can. It's like, you can hear the paws hitting the ground, it's catching up to you. It's going to pounce on you at any minute and it's a huge thing. You know you're dead and it's coming, it's coming, it's coming, it's coming. Here's what you don't do. You don't go, "Oh, I wonder how much it weighs.”

If you actually do that exercise and you stop and you go, "How much does this weigh?" All the fear goes away, which is why wonder is such an important thing to point to. Because if you actually stop and say, "What am I curious about, what do I have actual deep wonder for?", then the fear that you have dissipates. If you're trying to push somebody into something, that's because you're in fear. That's what creates the drama of our life, is our incapacity to love people as they are. We're scared of something and so we start trying to push them around.

Brett: This lion example, it brings up a good point. That fear is actually useful. Because if you did stop running from the lion to think about how much it weighs, then you would get eaten. Fear is helpful. It's just a lot of times in our lives, we end up having a stress response that doesn't match the actual moment. It seems like you're pointing to with the VIEW– is really cultivating a lower homeostatic set point for stress from which open-ended questions can emerge naturally and curiosity can exist.

Joe: Yes. That's exactly it. That's all together true. Then there's also a practical thing, which is we are not going to be as open, we're not going to learn as much, we are not going to want to hang out with as much people, who are scared in their conversation with us and therefore trying to control us.

Brett: We'll trust them less.

Joe: We'll trust them less. That's right. Because they're trusting themselves less. They think that they have to control something to be safe, and people who actually deeply trust themselves don't think that that's true. They know that they're safe no matter what, unless a lion is chasing them.

Brett: Yes. As mammals, we can detect that in other people a mile away. We naturally do that when we walk into a room and we find out who is the one that's the most stressed out and scared, and who's the one that's the most calm. Then subconsciously we put ourselves into pecking orders based on this.

Joe: That's right. That's exactly it. The predator smells it out and attacks the one that's-- exactly. That's it. That's that part of it. Then there's also another part of the science, is that there's-- we make decisions emotionally. If you took out our emotional centers of our brain, we stop making decisions. It would take us half an hour to decide what color pen to use. It would take us four hours to decide where to have lunch. There's a great book on this called Descartes' Error. We make decisions emotionally.

Do people pay $200 for Nike shoes because they think that it's a $200 worth of shoe? No, they're making an emotional decision. Do you buy this piece of software because you like the sales guy or the saleswoman? Do you buy this piece of software because it makes you feel safe? Do you buy this piece of software, because you beat it up and you feel like that they would have answers for it? The answer is that you are buying that piece of software based on an emotion.

You might use logic to figure out the most likely way that you would get that emotion. I don't want to be yelled at by my boss, so I'm making an emotional decision to not get yelled at and I'll use logic to figure out how to not get yelled at by my boss, but we're making emotional decisions. All the information in the world won't sell people stuff. If it was just pure information, then a Nike ad would be like, "Look at this shoe. It has 6 inches of leather siding and it has 8 holes on each side for the shoestrings." That would be, "Oh”, but it's not. You make the emotional buy.

If I'm hanging out with you, you're hanging out with me because of an emotional experience that we have when we're together. If I am buying the product, it's because I'm having an emotional experience around the product. If I am wanting intimacy with you, if I would want to call you when I'm having a problem, if I want to come home and see my parents, if I don't get offended when you tell me that you need space, all those things are based on emotions. They're not based on facts. That's really a main thing about VIEW because we're acknowledging, owning, and addressing the emotional part of a conversation.

Brett: Well, when we're making a decision, there's only so much logic you can actually do, given the time constraints and there's so much more to consider. I think what you're saying is that the emotions are a way that we make a probabilistic inference based on everything that's happened in our lives with just a feeling in our body that helps shape which questions we even ask with logic to figure out the final details and then make a decision.

Joe: Yes, there's that aspect of it and there's also the aspect of it, like, “How many decisions have you made so that you don't feel like, let's say weak. How many decisions have you made to feel loved?” Whole swaths of decisions are made over this kind of thing. A VIEW conversation allows people to have all those emotions, feel safe in them and to feel actually accepted and wanted and appreciated in that experience for who they are, which we all want.

Brett: Yes, it's important to just remember that everybody that you're in a conversation with, even in a stuffy business environment, everybody's making emotional decisions based on the things you just spoke to.

Joe: That's right, absolutely.

Brett: Tell me more about the payoff and the benefits of practicing VIEW.

Joe: This is a common story in my world. I will go into a team of people, typically it's Silicon Valley teams that I go into. It's not only Silicon Valley, but typically it is. You're talking about really smart programmers or really smart business people, and they're not getting along. I remember this one particular example, the team had like an ex-Navy seal on it and a MIT triple graduate, that kind of a team of just super intense people. They weren't getting along. They weren't being productive.

Half-day into a two-day workshop, the people who hadn't been able to get along were crying with each other because of all the pain and all that resistance in their system they could let go when they realized, the person across from me doesn't hate me, isn't trying to kill me, and isn't trying to destroy my thing. We're just not communicating with each other clearly.

It was so amazingly beautiful. That team who had not hit their performance metrics, and I think it had been three years, hit their performance metrics that quarter. That's a payoff. You get a tremendous amount of cohesion, not just between the team but between you and the people around you. We all know that when we feel deeply connected with somebody that we will go to the ends of the earth to support them and they will go to their ends of the earth to support us. That's really what we want from friends. If it's a true support, it's not dysfunctional support. It's really what we want. It's what we want in our teams. That's one benefit.

Another benefit is that most people right now are like, “Conflict, how do I avoid that?” Or, “Conflict, I'll just get through it. I'm just going to push, go get in conflict so I can get on the other side of it.” When you really understand this frame of mind, conflict is an amazing thing, because what happens every time is that conflict gives you better solutions than you had before. You start looking for conflict.

Not looking for conflict like, "Ah, here's a way I can pick a fight", but like, "Oh, there's a tension. Let's go explore it." Because I know if I explore it from this frame of mind, all of a sudden I'm going to have better solutions, better answers, and better paths forward. 

It's also really a lovely state to be in. It's really quite pleasant. If you are in wonder, it's a more open and spacious feeling, than if you think you know everything all the time. Think about the people you know in your life who know everything all the time. They don't look like they're enjoying themselves.

If you think about people who are empathetic, not in somebody, but they're just like, “Oh, I can be here with you in your state, that's just a more open state.” It's just a really lovely place to be. There's the efficiency that I mentioned, like with the 10-minute sessions. The other thing is that what I noticed is, when people really get into this conversation and they start practicing it, the sense of loneliness just dissolves.

There's so many people in our society who feel very lonely and very insecure. Not insecure like I'm not good enough, but insecure like, "Oh my God, I might lose my job." When they see this technique at work and they use it and that frame of mind becomes a steady state place, what happens is, they don't have that deep experience of loneliness. They know what it is to be alone, but they're not, "Oh my God, I'm all alone and nobody loves me." That's not happening. 

It's not only that the loneliness starts to dissolve, but also this sense of security shows up. The sense of security is there, because you realize that no matter what your boss says, no matter what happens, you're able to have this conversation with them that actually benefits you and them consistently.

There's a deep level of security in that, because we're not really scared of losing our job and not being able to make money. What we're really scared of is that we're not going to be of value, that we're not going to be heard and that we're not going to be able to be seen for what our value is. We're worried about losing our job, but if we know that every time we have a conversation it's valuable to ourselves and the other people around us, whenever we want that, that's a deep form of security.

Brett: Right. If we're worried about losing our, job because that would mean to us that we are not valuable anywhere, it doesn't matter if you lose your job if you know you're valuable somewhere else and you could go do something that you're valuable at.

Joe: Yes, that's right. If you think about it this way, it's like, if you have a conversation with the person and at the end of that conversation, they feel they understand themselves better, they understand their business better, they want to continue to have conversations with you. That's how it works. The thing is, you don't have to know shit to do that. You just have to ask really good questions and be vulnerable in it, to be empathetic in it, to be impartial in it and to be full of wonder in it. It doesn't even require that you have skills. It just requires that you are having a conversation with them that allows the best of them to come up.

Brett: To that, I've noticed that VIEW, it seems to be like, this magical ingredient, this special sauce. You can just pour on a workplace and it transforms relationships and teams.  How do you account for this?

Joe: Yes. It's like I was saying it happened in that one company. I've seen it so consistently happen and it feels like magic. I think partially because often revenue increases, because team cohesion increases, because sales methodology improves, because the products are more connected with the customer. Product development conversations are better. There's all sorts of things that happen when people feel more connected and they're actually more in wonder. They're wondering what the right question is, they're wondering what the customer wants, and when they're willing to be vulnerable about maybe that product sucks. 

There's all sorts of cool things but really, when people are met with this level of openness, when they're met with this level of care and nurturing, when they're met with this level of support, they really know it. That is what relaxes something in them. It allows them to perform at their best. Like we said at the beginning, if you know you're being judged by a team, if you know that the people in your team are not open to you, you're not going to be at your peak performance.

But if you know that that's there, if you know that you can be accepted and the boundaries will be held and you feel safe in that environment, you're going to be incredibly effective. Even if the outside world is like, man, you've got two months to solve this and you better solve it, if you've got your team there with you, that's going to get you your best performance. It's going to get you your best performance in a marriage as well. If I know that my wife deeply supports me, deeply cares about me, is open to my truth, is in deep wonder about my experiences, is vulnerably sharing with me, that's what allows me to be the best husband and vice versa.

That's really the magic of it. The magic of it isn't some technique or some state of mind. The magic of it is that it allows all of us, it creates the environment where all of us can be the best, where all of us can live in our truth. That's what's the magic. It's just like a really good soil. Then the seed of who we are gets to sprout in who we are is frickin amazing.

Brett: VIEW, vulnerability, impartiality, empathy, and wonder. This has been a great episode. Joe, thank you very much.

Joe: My pleasure, Brett. Thank you. 

Thanks for listening to The Art of Accomplishment.  If you enjoyed what you heard today, please subscribe & rate us in your podcast app. We would love your feedback, so feel free to send us questions and comments. To reach out to us, join our newsletter, or check out our courses at

November 4, 2020

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Being in wonder helps you understand the value of the right question and If you’re in wonder, it’s a constant exploration. Questioning the assumptions that are in your mind is one of the quickest ways to get to wonder, where curiosity and awe are being experienced together.


Episode intro:   

It's really a point of view of looking at the world. Follow your wonder.  It´s a trail.  Just follow it in the conversation about the other person, about yourself.  In the conversation, just follow it.  

Welcome to the Art of Accomplishment, where we explore how deepening connection with ourselves and others leads to creating the life we want with enjoyment and ease.

My name is Brett Kistler.  I am an adventurer, entrepreneur and a self exploration enthusiast.  I am here with my co-host, Joe Hudson. Joe is a business coach who has  spent decades working with some of the world´s top executives and teams developing a unique model of human patterns that underpin how we operate with ourselves, each other and the world. A good entry point into this model is a mindset called VIEW, vulnerability, impartiality, empathy and wonder.  

Through understanding and cultivation we learn to easefully drop into the VIEW state of mind, deepening self awareness and increasing our connection with the world around us. To learn more about this podcast or courses, visit

Brett:  Most of us spend a lot of our time feeling a subtle pressure to know things, to understand our world so that we can make predictions, feel safe, and be seen as knowledgeable, but the moment we think we know everything is also the moment we stop learning. 

What if there's always more to the story than we can ever know? How might living our lives from a consistent place of wonder give us more actionable information and opportunities, than clinging to what we think we know? This is the practice of wonder, the W in VIEW. Joe, can you tell me what you mean by wonder?

Joe: Yes, wonder is, there's a lot of ways to describe it, but one of the ways to describe it is to say we've all felt it before. We all know that like [exhales]. Maybe some of us haven't felt it since we were kids, but that's something that we all know. What it is, it's like curiosity without looking for an answer, because when you're looking for an answer, you can just feel in your system, that your system constricts a little bit. 

If you're just like, "Oh my gosh, what is happening here?" and there's no pressure to find an answer.  An answer may come, but there's no pressure.  Then the physical state remains expansive.

The other way to think of it is, it's like curiosity and awe put together. The thing about awe, the reason I use that word in particular is, because if you're awestruck by something, you have a recognition that it's out of your control. It's something that's beyond you, beyond your ability to maybe even recognize in that moment. 

There's only a few things in the way that the human psyche works that creates that.  Gratitude is another one, that creates that feeling of there's something greater.  Acknowledging that you need things is another, because just all these things are outside of your control often.

Most of the time, we don't say gratitude, like, "I'm really grateful that I kicked ass." We might occasionally, but most of the time, we're grateful for things that are beyond us, and that's the thing about wonder. It has awe, because we acknowledge that there's something beyond our ability to even maybe recognize.

That's another way of thinking of it, but the other thing that's particularly important to VIEW conversations is, that you're in the question. There was a time in my life when this question arose and it was, “What am I?”, was basically the question. I was in that question for 10 years, and it wasn't about trying to answer the question. It was about being in the question.

I could come up with answers, but every answer was based on some context. I could say I am my body, but then I would be in wonder for a while, and I'm like, "Well, which part of my body? If I cut my body in half, which part of my body is me?" To realize that even that isn't me, what am I? The power of that was being in the question. It wasn't ever finding the answer to the question. That's another way to look at wonder is that you're in the question.

Brett:  Right. It's like the moment you come up with an answer, it's like the search stops, but if you stay in the question, there's always opportunity for some other aspect to come in, like some other aspect of yourself to be seen.

Joe: Exactly. Yes, that's beautifully put. Yes.

Brett:  How does cultivating a persistent state of wonder benefit us? What does this do for us?

Joe: There are so many ways in which it does. If you just think about those times that you're awestruck, imagine a life when you're awestruck all the time, and just imagine living a life where that is 10%, 20% more of your life, just even 10% or 20% more awestruck by life. There's this thought process that people share about miracles and that actually we're experiencing miracles all the time, but we're so used to them or we can describe enough of them.

We can describe the sun, for instance. You can just be awestruck by the sun. You can answer forever how it got formed maybe and how it's working, or you see it every day so there's nothing to be awestruck about, but if you really just contemplate like, "Why? Why sun? Why universe? Why cosmos?" Goodness, how did it-- Yes, all this stuff happened, but how did it actually come to pass that we were circling the sun? It's just awe-inspiring and it leads you to places that you can't get to any other way.

I was listening to, out of all people, recently the head of Amazon, and he talked about the beginning of his day, he would just wander. He just wanders in his mind and in the space, that's part of what he does because there's a harvest from wandering or from being in wonder and just exploring without looking for a place to land. There's a harvest that comes from that, because you discover all sorts of cool stuff.

This applies in business and in relationships. Oftentimes, when people are in relationships, one of the things that you see is that everybody thinks they know everybody. [laughs] They categorize everybody and then the relationship gets dull, otherwise, if you're in wonder, it's a constant exploration. Who I am, when I married my wife, is very different than who I am today, and there's constantly an evolution to be discovered in my wife and for her to discover in me. That keeps our relationship fresh, keeps a business fresh in the exact same way.

It's nice in the body to be in wonder.  It just feels really good. It's quite an enjoyable thing. Another thing that it does is, it's quite an antidote to fear. If you, say, do this experiment, close your eyes and imagine you are running from a tiger. The tiger is coming and it's getting close. You can hear the footsteps, you can hear its breath.  It's panting to catch you, and you're running as fast as you can and you don't really think there's any way out. You know it's about to come and pounce and now wonder, "How much does that tiger weigh?"

You can't hold the fear if you're in wonder and you can't be in wonder, particularly, if you're holding the fear. To reflect on what you are in wonder about immediately does something to the fear, the more subtle fears that may be running through you. That's another one.

Brett:  It's like the fear itself is something that optimizes us to produce a fast result and a fast output but not to process more deeply. I think that's a good thing sometimes. I imagine, if we walk around being constantly awestruck by the sun and the universe, that must have its drawbacks. There are people who do that constantly and they're disconnected from the world. They're not taking any action.

Joe: One more thing before we go there. One more thing is just to say, that the other thing that it benefits you being in wonder is that it-- In today's world, it's really not the answer. In the age of Google, anybody can find an answer. It's really the right question, are you asking the right question? Being in wonder helps you ask the right questions. One person can spend their life building Google and another person can spend their life building the local tire shop, and they can both work just as hard as each other. It's just a different question that they're living in.

Or one person can ask, "What's the phone that everybody will use?" Another person will ask the question, "What's the phone that's easy to use?" You're going to get two different phones. Being in wonder really helps you understand the value of the right questions, is the last one.

Brett:  Right, it can help you break out of the limited context of your previous question into a bigger question.

Joe: Yes.

Brett:  Which brings you back to that question that I just had of if we're constantly breaking out of the limited question into the biggest question of why sun, why universe, how do we ground ourselves in that? Is there a going too far with this wonder thing?

Joe: I don't know anybody who can actually be in a perpetual state of wonder.  I've never seen that. There's a way to have a pretty consistent awestruck experience of the world. 

It's actually interesting. I was recently listening to all these people who'd lived over 100 years, and I've actually met a couple as well. There is something that they all have in common, is that they all have this just like, "Isn't it wonderful?" Where they're talking about, they eat this food and it was just so amazing or they were doing little things, but it was these little things in life that just created so much awe and joy and wonder in them.

Yet they were 100 years old or more, and they had friends and they had family and they had careers that they've lived through, but that was the thing that they all had in common. It's just like kids are the same way. They have this amazing wonder in their worlds, and they've learned incredibly quickly. If you kill it completely, you can get a task done, but you might not get the right task done. Yes, there's a place where wonder ebbs and flows.  It's really about your access to it in the moment.

I think that there is this illusion of this person who's constantly disassociated from life and they're in this constant state of wonder. My experience of those people is that they're not actually in a constant state of wonder. It's good for books and stuff, but what they actually are is, they're in a constant state of dissociation where whatever is happening in real life is very difficult for them. Their mode of being able to handle that isn't to fight, it's to disassociate. 

I don't see people who are in a deep state of wonder too much. I just don't. I haven't seen it, but I can expect if you are in a state of wonder so much that you have stopped doing stuff, that obviously would go too far. 

One of the things that wonder does, interestingly, is it propels you to do stuff. "I'm really curious. How does this work?", propels you to do stuff. Oh, wow, what would happen if I had this different kind of business or if I changed my business in this way, or if I looked at my wife this way, or if I looked at my best friend this way? It propels you to change the way you're doing stuff, run experiments, and learn. When I see people in that deep level of curiosity, then there's a lot of movement in their life. 

Now, if there's other things that are happening that might stop them from taking action, that would be more things like depression or being lost in their head all the time in their thought, repressed anger, things like that, that would be a stuck feeling. I don't know a lot of people who have that stuck feeling or anybody who has that stuck feeling who also has a lot of wonder. Because let's say, you're depressed and you have a ton of wonder, what happens? You're like, “Huh, what's making me depressed? What is depressed exactly?”

I don't mean what is-- like what part of me, what's the me that's depressed. What's the me, that can see through, that can see I'm depressed? How does that work?

Brett:  How is this feeling of depression being in-- like in my body?

Joe: Right, and as you start asking those questions, that depression starts to alleviate, because the depression is being created mostly because of a critical voice in the head that there's no curiosity about. You can just turn that curiosity right to the critical voice in the head and things will change pretty quickly, if you can consistently have that state of wonder about the voice in your head, not trying to solve it, but just to be in awe of like, “Whoa, what is this thing constantly managing me?” [laughs] “What gives it the right? What makes it thinks it's right? What makes it think it's good at its job, when it's created complete stagnation in my system? What makes it think it's good at its job, if it's still having to manage me over the same shit 10 years later, like what is happening here? 

That state of awe and wonder is going to shift a lot. It's going to create-- you can just feel how that creates movement. I've never really seen people stop doing-- Obviously, if you're in a state of wonder so much that you are like can't [chuckles] you can't complete a sentence, because you're so in awe of the language, that's going to get problematic. I've just never seen it.

Brett:  The example of the old people reminds me of something I learned recently about dementia, where there are people who die, who have a normal life and are vibrant throughout their older years, their later years, and then they die and their brain is autopsied, and they have the brain of somebody who has dementia but they didn't have it. The difference between the people who don't actually present it psychologically, are that they have-- they're constantly learning. They're constantly in wonder so they're constantly rewiring.

Even though the wiring is getting tangled, it's developing new pathways all the time versus living in the same pathways that are just breaking down over time and then becoming less and less efficient.

Joe: Wow. I didn't know that, that's beautiful. You can start to feel it in your 40s and definitely in your 50s, this desire to stay in the neuropathways, to stay in the routine of life, and it just starts to take the joy out of life, and like look at how few people you see in their 70s who are living a joyful life, that exuberant life.  Their lives are great often when they’re in their 70s, outside of potentially some physical pain there. They're retired, at least in America. They're retired and they have a family and they-- but there's just no wonder in it.

Brett:  What happens to us, when we shut that wonder down? Like in the moment, let's say in a conversation or a business negotiation where, for example, we're worried about getting it right or being perfectly understood and so we shut down the wonder.  What happens then? More simply, I guess the question is what is the opposite of wonder?

Joe: [chuckles] The opposite of wonder is knowing, or wanting to be maybe seen as knowing since knowing is really impossible on one level of looking at it. The way I would say it is, I see this all the time, especially when I was a venture capitalist.  I saw this all the time, which was, people would come to me and they would make their pitch. People would come to me and they'd make their pitch and the standard way of thinking about it was, that they were going to come and impress me with their knowledge and show me that they had a really good business idea.

Then I would know that they have a really good business idea and then I would give them money. That would be the kind of the standard way that they would come to the meeting, which is weird, because as a venture capitalist, I probably should know more about it than they do, because I'm in 10 businesses or at least the same amount as they do. They're coming in with this knowing, trying to share the knowing and what basically happens is, if I agree with them, I will fund it, and if I don't agree with them, I won't fund it, which is a very limited potential to fund it.

There's just like this very skinny chance, that we're going to agree, but if they come in with wonder, and I had this happen once. I remember I was so blown away by-- it was a great company.  It was very successful. The CEO came in to raise the money and he was like, “Okay, what do you need to see to fund? What are the boxes that you need to check off?”

I immediately told him, because that would save me a shit ton of time, instead of having to listen to 10 slides on the total addressable market and what the market was like, as if I like hadn't done that research or whatever. Then he just went through and went through exactly what I needed to hear. He started in a place of wonder instead of a place of knowing. He knew that I would be more attracted to him in a learning journey than I would in a being told what is right and what is wrong.

If you just think about that, like, you look at your friends who know what's right and wrong and like how enjoyable is it to be around them? I don't know how many companies I've been in where I see somebody and they're like, that's the problem person. I'm like, okay. Then you can meet the problem person. The problem person thinks they know everything. That's the problem person. They think they're right about everything. There is no wonder in their system.

Brett:  They're also probably pointing at a lot of problem people because they know it.

Joe: Yes, that's right. That's right. They're not in a learning journey with anybody. Nobody wants to be that. What people want to be is in a learning journey with each other. We like to have someone who knows some stuff, yes, it's great. People are listening to this podcast right now hopefully with the idea that I might know something, but my job is to go on learning journeys with people. My job is to ask them what they know. Is to ask open-ended questions to them. My job is to assume that they know the best step that's there for them in a way that I couldn't.

How could I know that? I don't know their whole history. I don't know everything that happened to them. It doesn't matter if I had the wisdom of every human being in the world, except for them, they still know more than I do about what they're supposed to do next. If you're in a state of knowing and trying to convince people of your knowing, that's the opposite. [chuckles]

Then being attached to your knowing, which is utterly ridiculous on so many levels, because knowing is only relevant based on context. Meaning, let's say, I know it's bad to lie. That's a context that I'm assuming. I'm assuming that we're all in the same context of whatever it might be, say, suburban living, but if I'm in the context of hiding people from an authoritarian government who wants to kill them, that's a different context. At least at that point, lying is more of a question. For me, it wouldn't be a question. It would be, yes, I would lie to the authoritarian government, but there'd be more of a question about the right and wrongness of it.

Everybody has their own context. To think you know something is to not only assume that you know the right answer, but it's also to assume that you know the context of the person that you're going around with. It's also to assume that they don't have some wisdom in what they're saying, which is ridiculous. We can't be that. It's far better to be in wonder, and then you're in a journey with the people.  You're both learning and it's like your mutual freedom instead of you're telling them something.

Brett:  Right. So how do you stop a shutdown of wonder from happening, this collapse into knowing? Wonder seems like it might be a pretty fragile thing sometimes, even being afraid of not being in enough wonder, telling myself, "Okay, now I'm going to walk around the world and wonder all the time-- Oh, goddammit I'm not doing it." Even that fear might be enough to cause us to start closing down. How do you keep the wonder channel open?

Joe: It's a great question. It's far more of an undoing, than it is doing. Effort is one of the things that makes wonder more difficult, but the trick is when I say it's an undoing, if I say, “Okay, now I have to go and do wonder and I have to be in a wonder state of mind”, that immediately makes it harder to be in a wonder state of mind.  But there's no moment where, if you look, there's not something you're curious about. Just keep it really simple all you have to-- just look around your room right now. There's something that's wondrous.

You don't know even how the bedsheets were made. You don't know who made them. You don't know if the company still exists. You don't know about the detergents, and if you happen to be one of those people who knows exactly that, then you don't know about the paint. There's never a moment, especially when you're with somebody else, or when you're in nature when there isn't this opportunity for awe. To try to get there takes you away, but to just recognize that there's something in you, and if you see this with kids, they're just in a state of wonder all the time.

I remember this psychological study of when children are most likely to smile when they're infants, and it's not when they're about to be fed, which is what they thought, and they did this by facial positions of what a kid would see before feeding. It's when they're being engaged, where there's learning happening. Young kids just love to learn until it gets kicked out of them by a parent or a teacher or something like that. Curiosity is our nature. It's absolutely our nature, which means basically being in wonder and investigating, it's in our nature.

All you have to do is undo everything that's taking you away from your nature. That's it. It's simple. It's just like, what is wonderful about this? What am I awestruck about? What am I curious about in a way that I don't need to find an answer? Just what's-- what am I going to say next? [chuckles]

Brett: What are some examples or steps or pointers that we could bring from this podcast into our lives to cultivate a deeper sense of wonder. 

Joe: Yes, practice is good. It's you're asking yourself, what am I in wonder about right now? If you just do that 10 times a day, that's a pretty tremendous way to get there. It's really a point of view of looking at the world. If you think about a little kid, and he's picking up a frog for the first time and how he looks, or she looks at that frog, that's the way you can look at life. That's the way you can look at your business.

If you were to, say just for a second, if you had two people who were looking at a business and both of them have the same level of knowledge, let's say, and one of them was looking at it with immense wonder. One of them was looking at it with like, "I'm trying to solve the problem." What do you think is going to happen with those two people? 

How do you inspire that in yourself, it's just a question of intention. It's not a question of doing. It's not a question of effort. It's just a question of getting in touch with that part. If you ever are not there, and you can't find your way there, then I really suggest looking at the context of something or questioning the assumption of something.

Brett:  What do you mean by that?

Joe: Questioning the assumption is a great way to also get out of partiality and to become impartial as well. It means that if I say to you, "Life is challenging, because I don't have enough work," there's so many assumptions in that. There's an assumption that it's challenging not to have enough work. There's an assumption that I don't have enough work. There's an assumption that I should have more work. All of those things, instead, there could be other assumptions. There could be assumptions like, "Oh wow, I have free time to start my own business." I could say, "There's something here that's asking me-- an opportunity here to take my marketing to the next level."

There's all sorts of assumptions that one can make about having less work one week, then say, the next week or one year, say to the next year. Questioning the assumption that's in your mind is one of the quickest ways to get to wonder, or in somebody else's mind is one of the quickest ways, and then also, to question the context, right? I don't have enough work in America is very different than I don't have enough work in Africa, which is very different than I don't have enough work in Iceland. They're different experiences, and so what's happening there? What makes you think your truth is truth everywhere or even true for you right now, because not having enough work for me is priceless? It's like that free time is lovely.

Brett: With every tool like this, there's always ways that they can be used in a way that's performative or inauthentic. I've definitely found myself in a number of conversations where it felt like the other person was pretending to be interested in me as if they were acting out of some curiosity script. This kind of interaction feels really creepy and probing. How do we cultivate an authentic state of wonder without creeping people out as we practice and try to be in wonder?

Joe: You're touching on some things that make-- like if wonder gets a little tilted, it can become a strategy, and as soon as it becomes a strategy, it starts to feel creepy. I know people who are always asking questions, but that's just to avoid any kind of intimacy about themselves. I know people who are asking questions, because it's their way of trying to create intimacy. But if you're trying to create intimacy, it's not intimacy.

Yes, I see that happen a lot, and the answer is, simply, is don't be inauthentic. The most simple answer is don't use this as the strategy, have wonder for the sake of wonder for the gifts that it brings, for the feelings and sensations in your body that it creates, that awe creates and be there. It's far more enjoyable than to be strategic about it or to try to avoid intimacy. Those are both far more painful states of existence to be in. That's the easiest way to say it.

Brett:  I guess being strategic about it implies that there's a certain outcome that you're trying to get--

Joe: That's right.

Brett:  --which is a certain kind of knowing.

Joe: Right, an outcome through defending yourself. If people are creeped out, if you really want to get into wonder, and if you notice that you're asking questions and they start resisting, you can just be in wonder about that. You can be like, "Whoa, what's making you feel creeped out right now?" [laughs] They might say, "I feel like I'm being probed. I feel like I'm under investigation." Then you can be vulnerable or correct or say, "Oh wow. What do you want to ask me?"

You can also just apologize and say, "I'm sorry, I was asking you questions as a way to avoid myself or as an experiment." Or whatever your ulterior motive was. The whole thing is in a frame of mind, and that's when we get back to that thing, VIEW is a state of mind. If it starts becoming a technique, it'll just cease to work. At least most of the time.

Brett:  In a lot of conversations, the context of the conversation is built around us being looked at as an expert or the holder of knowledge. This can happen often in work like in consulting or sales or speaking, or your role in this podcast, for instance. How do you stay in wonder when you are or your ideas are themselves the topic of discussion are in the spotlight and you're expected to be delivering information rather than consuming it?

Joe: [laughs] I gave a talk I think three times, and the very beginning of my talk I was like, "I have no idea what I'm about to say." I purposely got here on this stage, without preparation on purpose.

The only thing I had in my mind was to not be prepared when I came on the stage, because I want to talk about what life is like in this state of just being in this moment and seeing what happens, seeing what comes out. Oftentimes, during all these podcasts, I am curious about what's going to come out of my mouth, and I'm in wonder of what does come out of my mouth often. 

Almost as similarly, which is ridiculous, this actually might [laughs] make everybody lose a little faith, people will tell me, they'll be like, "Oh, this thing happened on your podcast. That was so great." I'm like, "Really, I said that?" [laughs] I have no recollection of it. Sometimes I'm quite impressed with what I say, and sometimes I'm like, "Oh, that's a little off."

To me, being in the question with somebody is far more valuable. When I think about the idea of, let's say, you watch a normal Ted Talk where there's somebody who's really there explaining some piece of knowledge, and it's absolutely, totally fascinating about it. It's a wonderful thing to listen to. It's made even more wonderful if you see their own awe of the situation, if you see that they're still in the question. That someplace in there, there's a question that they're still living in. Then you really want to be there with them.

Brett: It's like they're inviting you into the question with them and showing you a map of what they've seen so far.

Joe: Yes, that's exactly right. That's a whole different way than like, "Hey, I got through my Ted talk. I'm going to tell you what's what, and I'm going to tell you the conclusion to have, I'm going to tell you there's no more questions left." You just see people are more likely to bristle unless they happen to agree with this person, or they've never thought about it before. 

The other thing that happens when you're in that state of wonder, as the expert, as the knower, it happens to me all the time, you've witnessed this, is people are like, "I don't agree with you." I'll be like, "Yes, I don't agree with me entirely either," because as soon as I switch the context, I can see, "Oh, yes. That's not true."

I can be speaking one moment about freedom of choice, that there's choice. That's a very useful thought for somebody who feels stuck and feels like they are a victim of things. I'll talk all about choice and then somebody can say, "Man, there's no choice. It's all grace." I'll be like, "Yes, totally. It's so true." I can't even decide what to think. I can't even decide to stop thinking entirely or forever. Yes, I don't have control over that. If I don't even have control over the most basic things, then how can I have control over everything else? I don't have any choice.

If you're in that state of wonder, there's no personal attachment to the knowledge, and there's the ability to see the other sides of it, and to start understanding the context. That's where a tremendous amount of freedom is, because most of our pain comes from defending an idea.

Brett:  That wonder about our choice or our internal experience is interesting. Each of these tools brings its own interesting twist when we direct them inward. What happens when we have wonder for ourselves and for our experience?

Joe: It's really sweet. It's like a little slice of heaven to be in a state of wonder about your internal experience. There was a time in meditation for a while where all I did was focus on the unknown. I would just be silent with my eyes closed, and I would just focus on what I didn't know. It's a really cool experience if you want to make a chance for yourself to do that. It's so sweet. It's also sweet, because all the things that you tell yourself, that inner critic, just it starts to lose all of its grip, if you're able to focus on the wonder.

When your voice says, "You got to eat less, you have to work out more, whatever, you need to have a nicer butt," that is met with wonder, "Well, what's the nicer butt going to get me?" They're like, "Then I'll have somebody maybe who loves me for my butt." If I look in the world, the people with the nicest butts, do they have the life I want? What's happening here? There's so much freedom.

Brett:  People could be in an entirely different context there. It's like, "Well, if I have a nice butt, then I'm going to get a lot of attention. I don't want the attention. I don't want a bunch of creepy guys on me."

Joe: Exactly, or creepy girls.

Brett:  Or girls. I don't know why I use that from the other.


Joe: It's quite a lovely existence to be in wonder about yourself. It's far more neat instead of being like, "This is how I am, and this is how I need to change." Be like, "I wonder what I'm going to do next. I wonder what's making me do this again."

Brett:  What's your favorite example of a moment when bringing a little wonder to the moment changed everything for you?

Joe: I had an example recently, [chuckles] last night, [chuckles] we've left California because of the fires and the smoke. We went to Arizona, and we took our girls out to a stunning lake. When we were driving back, there was this steakhouse and there were political signs that were in contrast with my daughter's political beliefs. My daughters are young, but societally right now, there is a lot of fire over the political system. A lot of people believe and have really strongly. My girls have adopted some of that stuff. I see these signs on a restaurant, which is pretty bold in America to potentially say no to half of your clientele because you're so enamored of a political candidate.

My daughters didn't like this political candidate. I was like, "Okay, we're going to go eat there. Let's go eat." One was scared and one was like, "No. I don't want to deal with these people." I was saying, "Well, how is that any different than racism? If what you think they're doing is ignorant, we're not in control of our own ignorance, just as much as we're not in control of our own race. What makes it okay to just not even want to be around?" That was the beginning of the wonder.

We have this new puppy. All of a sudden, some of the people around us were loud and boisterous. It was a desert bar steakhouse thing. They made the kids even more anxious for a while. Then all of a sudden, the dog got into-- There's awes, and there's this connection, then the waiter was super nice, and there was just, all of a sudden, it was just like we were humans together again.

As we were driving home, I heard both of my daughters, interestingly, see some of the wisdom on the other side of the political argument. To be able to see like, "Oh, I see how they would view things this way, given this circumstance, given this thing." Not that they agreed with it or disagreed with it anymore, but it was just like their heart opened up because they were in wonder about this whole situation.

It was an incredibly beautiful thing to watch. I think that that's the way it is all the time. We come across all-knowing, and we don't want it to be messed with, because we don't want that feeling of uncertainty. It's amazing what wonder does. Uncertainty doesn't matter in wonder. It's quite lovely.

Brett:  That's beautiful. How can we expect our lives to change as we deepen our wonder?

Joe: More joy, more awe, quicker progress, deeper relationships. It changes stuckness, it opens up stuckness, more intimacy, [laughs] shit like that. All those cool and groovy things, man. It's just life is better. We're more capable. We're more competent. You can be certain and still be in wonder. I think that's the complication that people have a hard time understanding.

I know in my business what the next step is. I don't know that it's going to be the right step. I don't know that a better next step isn't going to show up a second from now. It's not like I'm not a wonder of, "Well, how is this the best step?" I have a certainty over my next step. I know the next thing that I'm called to do.

When I'm talking to somebody, I might be completely baffled by what's coming out of my mouth, which is a constant state of being, but I know that whatever comes out is the thing that's supposed to be coming out. I'm not questioning myself. I'm not like, "Is that the right thing? How did that?" There's a knowing of my truth. There's a knowing of a process that works.

If somebody comes up with something else, I can totally be like, "Oh, what am I missing? What's happening here? What am I not seeing?" It doesn't stop me from being certain, but it stops me from thinking that I know. That's what it stops me from. I don't think that I know. I just know what the right next step is for me, or for what I'm here to do. I only know that that's the right next step. For instance, if I'm taking the right next step, it might be just to find out how bad [chuckles] I've done it, or how wrong it is, or how messed up that idea was. It might be to learn. It might not be to succeed. It might be that I take that step only to find out, "Oh, I need to go back the other way."

There's a certainty that I'm living with that is not at all in conflict with wonder. I think that's something that people get confused about in wonder.

Brett: I think that relates back to the dissociation version of not really in wonder. That story earlier in the episode.

Joe: Yes, that's right. I just say being in wonder doesn't mean that you're not clear on the actions that you're taking. It's not like you're not clear on like, "From my experience, this is the thing to do." Then you're totally open that something might stand against it this time.

Brett:  You're in the clarity, but also ready to update what you think the next step is by constantly surveying for new information.

Joe: Yes, exactly. It's the same way that mice move. Mice and other small mammals are desperately curious animals, but then it doesn't make them hesitate. They're going about their day, they're sticking to the sides of the wall, collecting seeds, making decisions about left or right every two seconds with clarity, and yet, they have this deep level of, "What's this? How do I-- Can I get through here? What's happening?"

Brett:  Unless they're traumatized and freeze up in fear, which what we do sometimes.

Joe: [chuckles] Exactly. Yes, you can traumatize animals too.

Brett:  Let's tie all of this back into VIEW, like a VIEW conversation. Can you summarize some pointers that we could use to bring more wonder into our view conversations?

Joe: The most important thing is just to follow your wonder. It's a trail. You just follow it in the conversation about the other person, about yourself in the conversation, just follow it. If you're going to have to hold an agenda, if you're going to be partial about anything, be partial about staying in wonder. That's the thing. You're treating it, like I said, like a kid holding a frog or a lizard for the first time.

Also, just seek what you don't know. Oftentimes, you'll be presented with data from a person, "My mother did this, my father did this. This is how it's affecting me." What is it then to say, "What do I not know?" I just got told all this information. There's a thought process. The first thing I'm supposed to do is, take all this information and then spit out a good question. 

What if the thing you're supposed to do is first, find out all the things you don't know, because often if someone tells you the story, they're telling you all the things that they know. There's no new information, but if you start focusing on what you don't know, it might also be stuff that they don't know. That's another thing that you can do.

Then as we talked about questioning the context and the assumptions, those are all ways to be in wonder, but more importantly, it's to be in awe of what's happening for that person. It might be, you have this friend, and you have a friend who's constantly telling you about how the boyfriend isn't working. You're just like, "Stop talking to me about this." We all have this friend, or have had this friend at some point in our life, who is in their loop, and then they bring us into it with a conversation every week or so. 

What are you in wonder about there? What's the thing that you don't know? What's the thing that you have just like how, how, how? Even maybe the question is, "How do you keep doing this? What is it that's working for you here that keeps you in this relationship?" There's something there always. That's where you can go. It's a lot easier to find if you're not trying to lead them anywhere, because then it's just a natural thing that arises in you.

Brett:  All right. Let's close this episode a little bit differently. I'd love for you to tell me about your most spectacular, epic fail, wonder face plant, where just a little more wonder could have gone a long way but you just didn't have it.

Joe: [laughs] All good. Let's see. The biggest one. In college, I had the honor of being kicked out of my first college. Beyond that, I had the honor of having a 3.95 grade point average and getting kicked out of my college at the same time. That could only be done if I wasn't knowing instead [chuckles] of wonder.

The way it worked was I was, because of my upbringing, rebellion was really the thing for me. That was my caricature. I went to college. They had all these rules. It was the beginning of a stronger morality in college. The college decided that there was going to be some moral education as well. I really didn't like it. I didn't like it at all. I rebelled against it. That was my thing. I was being a punk. There's no doubt about it.

People would come in and put signs in the dorm, and it would block the windows. The signs would be Christian Fellowship or whatever those things were. I would just take down the signs like, "Hey, if you can just cover my windows, I can just uncover my windows." The people of power in the room or whatever, of a parent power in the room said, "What are we going to do about this?" I'm like, "I pay rent. I'm going to keep on taking the signs down." [chuckles] That was my attitude. I was right in my mind. I couldn't see their context. I was right. I was like, "You don't have the right to do this."

There were other things where the different things-- I got busted once drinking in my room. There's people who got busted smoking pot 10 times and nothing ever happened, but I got busted once. I was on a roof once, not correctly and whatever. Anyways, I got kicked out of the dorms. I got in trouble for one of these things that I did. 355M of the California Penal Code, annoying phone conversation. 

The powers at be, were really annoyed with me, because I was not being compliant, and I was not buying into the whole situation. I went to the ombudsman and I said, "Hey, this is ridiculous." He's like, "Yes, and it is totally ridiculous, just say you're sorry." [chuckles] I was like, "I'm not sorry. I don't want to be sorry." He was like, "Yes, but if you don't, you're going to get kicked out of college." It's a kangaroo court. This is the ombudsman. The person who, you just say, “I'm sorry”, and you'll get a slap on the wrist. I didn't say I was sorry.

I had the longest court thing that they had ever had. I had RAs defending me. I had a petition of 300 people. I had my professors come in and talk about how I contributed. All it did was just piss these people off more, and more, and more. I just flying in the face of them. I wasn't on the learning journey with them at all. Then I got the response and they were like, "Okay well, so here's our agreement. We're going to kick you out of school for a year and we're going to kick you out of the dorms for life."

I had a history professor who didn't know me at the time, [laughs] and he said, "How can I expect you to go out into the world and have healthy children if this is the way you're going to behave?" It was something.

Luckily, I was still in my knowing after that. I threatened to sue the school. The 355M of the California Penal Code annoying phone conversation never landed. There were no charges, but the school, these authority figures, at the time, they did their thing. No doubt I was an ass. I just said, "I'm going to sue you guys. This is ridiculous. You can't do this." The Dean of students who wasn't involved was like, "Yes, this is utterly ridiculous." He suspended me for a quarter and out of the dorms for a year. Then I switched schools.

What I learned in that process was that being right doesn't mean anything. Having the best database doesn't make you the best database company. We have this idea that being right is important, but all the people who are right the most, what has it gotten them? It does it even increase their odds of success, or happiness, or good relationships.

Then I remember it striking me. I can't look back and say that I was wrong. I can't look back and say that, nowadays-- I can't look back and even say that they were wrong. I think we were both ignorant, because we were both in some level of war with ourselves and each other, but none of us got any closer to understanding ourselves and each other in the process. None of us made any progress. They didn't have a better dorm because of it. They weren't happier people because of it. Neither was I.

Brett: What was stopping you from being in the wonder throughout that whole experience?

Joe: I had a self-definition of being right. It was really important in my family of origin to be right. There would be debates, or arguments, or yells, and whatever they were, and if you weren't right, you were going to get it worse. You had to prove yourself to be right. I identified with being right at the time. I identified with a fairness and I was going to fight for that fairness. Now it's like, "How does that help me to be right? What am I? Do I want the answer to be right? I don't care if the answer's right. That's not the answer I want to the question, what am I."

Brett:  Reminds me of a conversation I had a while back where somebody just paused me in the middle of the conversation and they're like, "It seems you're being very right, right now. How could we optimize for connection?" I'm like, "Oh, I see."

Joe: [laughs] Yes, exactly. [laughs] That's how I was in a conversation with the college about being right. [chuckles] The fortunate piece, this is the thing, I was completely certain about this stuff at the time. It led me into a job for the time that I was suspended, which was caring for developmentally disabled kids. It was a job that I got quickly. I got promoted quickly. Then I was in charge of this house of kids and these residents. That was who I was. That's what I was doing at the time.

Talk about seeing that you can have connection with people who are not even capable of being a quarter of as right. Developmentally disabled people, even a complicated thought process is not really at their fingertips. Yet, they could be beautiful people. You could have a deep connection with them. I learned the lesson that being right had nothing to do with anything that was important to me.

Brett:  Often, their thought processes are more complicated in a different direction than you expected. There's actually something brilliant behind it. Or beautifully simple that you had overlooked.

Joe: If you sat in wonder with these guys, you were in for a treat. It was frustrating at times to tune it out, but you were often in for a treat, if you could just sit in wonder with them and see the world through their eyes.

Brett:  Well, that wraps it up for VIEW. Thank you very much, Joe. I wonder what our next episode will be.

Joe: [laughs] Me too. Thanks, Brett. It was a pleasure as always.

Brett:  Thank you.

Thanks for listening to The Art of Accomplishment.  If you enjoyed what you heard today, please subscribe & rate us in your podcast app. We would love your feedback, so feel free to send us questions and comments. To reach out to us, join our newsletter, or check out our courses at

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