Listen To My Latest Podcast Episode:

#688: How To Break Free From The Fear You Have Around Money with Mel Abraham

Listen To My Latest Podcast Episode:#688: How To Break Free From The Fear You Have Around Money with Mel Abraham

MICHAEL HYATT: “The very first step is to identify the stories or identify the narrator, and that takes some self-awareness. So we begin to do something; we feel stuck. And the first place to go—I don't care what kind of business problem it is particularly, and we wrote it in that context—but to ask ourself the question, what is the narrator saying? You know, and literally write down those elements of the story you're being told. And so identifying, just becoming self-aware so that we can see the story for what it is and say, ‘Wait a second. My perception of that may actually be different than the facts. Maybe my story isn't even true. And what would that make possible if it's not?’” 

INTRO: I’m Amy Porterfield, ex-corporate girl turned CEO of a multi-seven-figure business. But it wasn't all that long ago that I lacked the confidence, the budget, and the time to focus on growing my small-but-mighty business. Fast forward past many failed attempts and lessons learned, and you'll see the business I have today, one that changes lives and gives me more freedom than I ever thought possible, one that used to only exist as a daydream. I created the Online Marketing Made Easy podcast to give you simple, actionable, step-by-step strategies to help you do the same. If you're an ambitious entrepreneur, or one in the making, who's looking to create a business that makes an impact and a life you love, you're in the right place, friend. Let's get started. 

AMY PORTERFIELD: Welcome to another episode of the Online Marketing Made Easy podcast.  

Today I’ve brought back a crowd favorite, my mentor, Michael Hyatt. Michael and his daughter Megan Hyatt Miller have been diving into performance psychology and neuroscience and the cognitive science around our thoughts and how they relate to the results we experience. And I have been finding this research absolutely fascinating. So I invited Michael on to share his findings, both in his research and in the case studies that he's used with his clients, including me. So he's going to share a little bit about what that research says and why we should pay attention to it and what happens when you apply the research to your own life. And he'll share his personal experiences, and I'll share an experience that I had with Michael, because he is my coach, and so he coaches me through many of the obstacles that come my way.  

And then, also, what I love most about Michael is he can take complex ideas and break them down into bite-sized pieces. So he'll also share how he simplified his findings into a three-step process—you know how I love a three-step process—he's going to break it down, and then I'm going to show you how I used those three steps—I didn't even know I was using them, but he coached me through them—to actually get to a huge goal I had set for myself. So I think you're going to love this episode.  

Michael is not only a bestselling author but also one of the most successful entrepreneurs I know. And Hobie and I are very lucky to call Michael and Gail, his lovely wife, our dear friends. They feel more like family. And I'm so excited that you get to experience Michael today as well. So let's do this. 

Well, hey, there, Michael. Welcome back to the show. 

MICHAEL: Hey, Amy. Good to see you.  

AMY: Oh, my goodness. I'm so glad we're doing this. I've been looking forward to it. 

Before we even get started, how are you? What’s been going on? Give me a quick update. 

MICHAEL: Well, you know, the big news. The big news was that I had a heart attack in September; and I ended up in the hospital, of course; and they ended up doing a quadruple bypass, which was completely out of the blue because I'm very serious about my health. 

AMY: Very. 

MICHAEL: You know, I've had a trainer for years. I've had a nutritionist for years. But this kind of hit me out of the blue. But, you know, as most things in life, they can serve you if you think about them in the right way. And so somebody said to me, and you'll appreciate this, somebody said to me the other day, they said, “Well, I guess it wasn't your best year ever.” And for those that don't know, I have a course called Your Best Year Ever. But I said, “Well, actually, it has been my best year ever,” and that played right into it. So that's what's been happening.  

AMY: Okay. So hopefully—well, tell us a little bit about why something like that would equate to your best year ever.  

MICHAEL: Well, I think it's like most adversity in life: a lot of it is about how you think about it. So there's always a set of circumstances that happen. You know, there are facts, and then there's the interpretation that we layer upon the facts. And so in my new book, Mind Your Mindset, we really kind of unpack the science that shows success starts with our thinking.  

But just to give you an example, I was telling you before we came on today, that right now I'm still in cardiac rehab, which means that I'm working out with a small group of guys, and we do this twice a week. We're all monitored. We've got nurses that are helping us. And once a week we have education class. So we talk about a variety of things, you know, stress factors, things that… risk factors.  

But a couple weeks ago, we were talking about the emotions that you might experience after you've had open heart surgery. One of them's anger. One's anxiety. One's depression. So she was explaining all this. And I'm thinking to myself, “I haven't really had any of that.” And so she went around the room and asked everybody to kind of talk about how they were feeling. So one guy says—he's sitting right across the table from me—he says, “I feel like my life's over.” He said, “I feel like this is the beginning of the end.”  

Now, he'd had the exact same surgery I did. But I had my doctor call the hospital. I mean, it was completely his initiative. He called the hospital, from California, two days into my recovery. And he said, “I want to talk to you for a minute.” I said, “Okay.” He said, “First of all, I just want to check in with you,” and he asked me how I was doing and everything. And then he said, “I want you to know this is not your fault, what you've experienced. You've taken great care of yourself. But regardless, that's all behind you.” And he said—here's the cool thing—he said, “You've probably added decades to your life. And in a real way, your life is just starting. Apparently, God's not done with you yet.” And I loved hearing that. So I reported that at my cardiac rehab meeting. And I said, “You know, I just kind of feel like this has been a reboot, and I've been given this amazing gift.”  

Well, those are two different perspectives, two different perceptions, two different ways of thinking based on a pretty much identical set of facts. And that’s how our thinking works.  

AMY: Proof that you literally can choose your own thoughts. And so talk to me about why you wrote this book, because you've written many books, and many of them are business related, marketing related. This is a very different book. Mind Your Mindset is very different than most of the books you've written. So why now? Why did you write this book? 

MICHAEL: Well, one of the things I began to notice, Amy, in my coaching practice is that, typically, we were focused on results. You know, how did that launch go? What was your profit last month? How is that person you hired most recently performing? So a lot of focus on results, which would inevitably lead, in any kind of coaching practice, on your actions. Like, if I was not satisfied with my golf game, I might take golf lessons, and the focus would be on my swing or on my putting or some other action.  

But what I've realized over the course of doing this now for more than a decade is that it all begins with our thinking. You know, it's our thinking that drives the actions we take that lead to the results. And a lot of times, people, they'll redouble their efforts, they'll work harder, they'll try some new strategy, but unless they change the thinking, then nothing really happens.  

Another quick story. So as we're recording this, last week the Vikings beat the Colts in the biggest upset in NFL history. Did you see that game?  

AMY: No, but I’m sure Hobie did.  

MICHAEL: Well, it was an amazing game. And I love these kind of sports stories because the Vikings were down at the half, thirty to nothing.  

AMY: Whoa. That's a lot.  

MICHAEL: That's a lot. Thirty to nothing. You know, I mean, fans are leaving the stadium because, you know, it's the end. There's no way that they can come back. And so it was reported after the game that one of the cornerbacks, cornerbacks, Patrick Peterson, walks into the locker room at the halftime, and he says, “You know what, guys? We're only five touchdowns away from winning this.” And the coach didn't know if he was being sarcastic, like kind of gallows humor, but he was really inspired by it. So he began to elaborate to the team, too. It would have been really easy in that situation to beat up their performance and to talk about, you know, all the things that they didn't do and the noisy fans and they can't hear each other and all these things that were external to them that, oh, by the way, they had no control over.  

But all of a sudden, they started to get focused on the possibility that they could still win this game. And they did. They beat the Colts, thirty-three to thirty. 

AMY: Oh, my gosh. So they only—wait a second. So the other team only did—did they even score against them at all the rest of the time?  

MICHAEL: No, they didn't score against them the rest of the time.  

AMY: Wow.  

MICHAEL: And the Vikings crushed them. Largest comeback in NFL history.  

So that's a situation where, again, you know, two teams looking at the same set of facts. You know, there's a yardage that's been gained in the first half. There's the number of passes that were thrown and intercepted, the number of touchdowns, all these facts. But then you layer on top of that, what's the meaning of the facts? And that cornerback said, “Hey, we could still win this.” That was his story. That’s what he was telling himself. 

So one of the things I came to the conclusion of, after coaching clients all these years, is the fact that our thinking drives everything. And as you know, because you coach with me, we spend a lot of time on thinking, right? because usually it's easier for other people to see our thinking and to see what we're thinking than it is for us to identify our own thinking.  

AMY: Okay. That definitely makes perfect sense. But tell me this. If we use this story, this football story, and you look at all the research you did, because there is so much incredible research for this book, what was it, what did you learn in your research that made that moment work for them in terms of “Five touchdowns, guys. That's all we got. That's all we got to do.” Like, what did you learn along the way that gets people there versus “We're screwed. We might as well go home”?  

MICHAEL: Well, I think a lot of it is the fact that our stories are just the way we arrange our perceptions. And we're such meaning-seeking creatures that we have to create stories to make sense of the world. But there's a difference between the facts and the stories. And oftentimes we assume that our story of how things went, what happened, is the truth. But it's not always the truth, it's rarely the whole truth, and it's often a distorted truth. In fact, the researchers—and we got this research in the book—but it's not unusual for 50 percent of our memories to be false or distorted, and yet we're creating these stories about what's possible based on those faulty memories.  

And so I think the biggest research to come out of this was that we can actually engineer new thoughts. We can begin to create a different future by beginning to think different thoughts. And that's where it starts.  

AMY: And is it as simple as you have a thought that doesn't serve you, and you just decide, “I'm going to choose a new thought”? because sometimes that feels very Pollyanna-ish to me.  


AMY: It feels almost too easy.  

MICHAEL: Well, I think we're all so wrapped up in our own stories that we sometimes have difficulty differentiating between fact and story. You know, and all of us have living inside our head what we call in the book the narrator.  

So to get back to the football analogy, you've got the team that's on the field, and that's where all the facts are. You know, they ran this many yards. This pass was intercepted. So all those facts. I don't care who you are, if you if you observe that, everybody has the same set of facts. But then, you typically have a couple of professional color commentators who are telling you what everything means. They're interpreting every movement of the team. They're predicting what the team is about to do. That's how your brain works, and that's how the narrator works inside your brain, because there are these sentences in your head, to quote Brooke Castillo, these sentences in your head that are telling you what the facts mean and trying to predict what's going to happen based on those facts.  

And so I think the very first thing to do, the very first step, is to identify the stories or identify the narrator, and that takes some self-awareness. So we begin to do something; we feel stuck. And the first place to go—I don't care what kind of business problem it is particularly, and we wrote it in that context—but to ask ourself the question, what is the narrator saying? You know, and literally write down those elements of the story you're being told. And so identifying, just becoming self-aware so that we can see the story for what it is and say, “Wait a second. My perception of that may actually be different than the facts. Maybe my story isn't even true. And what would that make possible if it's not?” 

AMY: Okay, so the first step is you literally write down those sentences that are in your head. You write them down. 

MICHAEL: Yeah. Identify the story, and the best way to do that is to write those down.  

AMY: Okay. 

MICHAEL: Then, the second step is you have to begin to interrogate the story. And so we have a list of questions in the book that you can go through. But you begin to interrogate these stories and ask yourself, you know, is this really true or not?  

So, for example, one of the stories that you could, or one of the questions you could ask yourself is simply, what are the facts of the story? Like, I happened to grow up in a family where my dad was an alcoholic. And as you can imagine, you know, when people go through an experience like that, they come up with all kinds of stories. But in that situation, what were the facts? because I had this story that my dad was drunk all the time, and he was a terrible father. And I was angry about it for a lot of my adult life, you know? And I finally went into therapy and got some help there.  

But when I started to dissect the story, what I realized was, wait a second, he wasn't actually drunk all the time. In fact, my earliest years until I was, really, in middle school, he was amazing. You know, he was totally engaged. He would build model airplanes with me. And I had to acknowledge these. These were facts. He’d build model airplanes, model cars with me; took me fishing, hunting; really engaged. And then, he hit a tough spot for reasons I didn't understand at the time and began to drink. Even then, he wasn't drunk all the time. He made some bad choices, for sure. And, you know, we’d suffer the results of that as kids.  

But my story was different than the facts, and it was driving my anger, and it was driving my workaholism. And I was about to blow up my own family—this was, like, twenty years ago—because this narrative, which was partly false, was driving my story.  

And so then, at a later time, I was ask—this was literally about ten years ago—I was asking my dad, I said, “Tell me what happened when you got back from the war.” Okay, so he had fought in the Korean War. I knew he'd been injured. I knew he was disabled. So he told me the story. He said, “Well, I was hit with shrapnel on the battlefield. I felt something wet on the side of my face. I passed out,” and he said, “I didn't wake up for six months.” 

AMY: Oh, geez.  

MICHAEL: This is, like, 1954, ‘53. So then, he flies home. Finally, when he comes out of his coma, he comes home. And this was long before there was any consideration for people that were handicapped, and he was seen as handicapped. So he kept trying to get a job. And now he's married to my mom. Still is. And they had me by this time. And he's trying to get a job. And he can't get anybody to hire him because he's handicapped, and they think he can’t do the job.  

So he said one day he got this job. He got hired to sell mobile homes for a manufacturer. And he was so excited about it because mobile homes were kind of the newest thing, and he was just so excited to be employed. So that was on a Friday, he got hired. He bought a new tie. He bought a dress shirt. He got all gussied up, and then he went into his job. He reported for work on Monday morning. And the owner of the manufacturing company said, “Bob, I'm sorry, but I'm not going to hire you. I've decided to hire my nephew.”  

AMY: Ah. 

MICHAEL: And my dad was just, like, broken hearted.  

AMY: Oh, that's crushing.  

MICHAEL: But, so he couldn't get anybody to hire him, so he had to go into business for himself. And so he was, like, the best example of an entrepreneur because he tried all kinds of things. Some things worked, some things didn't. But guess what? I never missed a meal. And, you know, we were lower middle class, but I always had a, you know, warm place to live, a roof over my head, food to eat, went to school, you know, all that stuff. So he did a pretty good job in the end. But when he told me that story, it really created empathy. So now all of a sudden, instead of being angry at my dad, I was like, “Well, geez, what would I have done?”  

You know, this was before they knew how to treat trauma. There was nothing. He came home from the war. Good luck. So I'm trying to understand all that now. And I'm just going, like, I mean, I literally started crying when he was talking to me because I thought, first of all, how dare I judge him? But second of all, I don't know if I would have done as well as he did, given what he went through.  

But here's how it changed my story. I used to think, why did I have to grow up in this family, with this dad? And I came to the conclusion that I got the dad, not that I deserve, but I got the dad I needed.  

AMY: I believe that. 

MICHAEL: Because that has served me. That relationship, that example of my father has, you know, frankly, it's been some negative examples, but some of it's been super positive, and it's made me who I am today, in many ways, and I'm grateful. I see it as a gift. 

AMY: Okay. So I love that. I love the perspective of changing the story once you kind of examined it and dug deeper into it. Okay. So I can see that. So take me back. Step one. Name the step again. 

MICHAEL: Yep. Identify the story. 

AMY: Step two. 

MICHAEL: Step two, interrogate the story. And so, again, we have a list of questions And then the third step is to imagine a better, more empowering story. So this is where our amazing creativity as humans comes in.  

AMY: Yes.  

MICHAEL: Because we don't just have to live with the story that we have, we can change it. I’m not talking about creating, you know, a fictional story. I'm talking about saying, “Well, maybe there are some things that I haven't considered here.” And that's part of the interrogation process. Is there a different way to view this? 

So another story I just literally thought of this morning, it's not in the book. It should have been in the book. But do you know Dan Miller?  

AMY: Uh-huh. 

MICHAEL: Yeah. 48 Days to the—I think it's to the Work You Love. But anyway, he’s a good friend of mine. But Dan grew up in a very conservative Mennonite home in the Midwest. And so, you know, he gets up in front of an audience, and I've heard him do this, and he says, “I grew up in this strict, legalistic, oppressive, religious home, where we had no technology. They wouldn't let us do all these things. Life was boring. I had all these chores. We worked from sunrise to sunset. It was a miserable existence.” And then he says, “Or I grew up in this amazing community, where people cared for one another in an unbelievable way, where we were this close, tight-knit family. We weren't distracted by technology. You know, we played board games. I got to learn how to work. It really fueled my work ethic. And it was an amazing experience. And I'm still close to my family to today.” Same set of facts, but Dan imagined a different way of looking at those facts, and he chose where he was going to focus.  

And I think that's the thing that a lot of people don't realize is that you can choose what facts are relevant and what facts aren't, or where your focus is going to be. And as our mutual friend Tony Robbins says, where focus—or how does he say that? Where attention goes, energy flows?  

AMY: Yes.  

MICHAEL: Yeah, love that.  

AMY: Okay. I'm loving this because I didn't know these three steps in your book. However, I’m thinking of a story that I know you know what I'm going to talk about, because it was a big one between us, you coaching me, where you took me through these three steps, and I didn't even know it.  

So let me back up. I already told this on the podcast, but I know many people missed it. So not long ago, while Michael was coaching me, I did the Digital Course Academy launch, and about four days into the launch, Michael called and said, “How's it going?” And I was driving at the time, and I sent him a voice text, and I said, “It's going, it's going okay. My team's working really hard. I think we're going to be about a million dollars off from a multimillion-dollar goal.” But I said, “You know, we have about,”—I think at the time we might have had maybe four days left—and I said, “I don't know what else we could do. We've done all the things we planned. We're going to continue on. But I think we're going to be a million dollars off.” And then, I still can't believe I said this, Michael, but I said, “It's okay. It's okay. You know, we're doing our best. We're working hard. I think we're going to beat last year's goal. So it's good.” And then I get this message back, and the message is, “Amy, you just stepped off the field, like, completely. You just left. Like, don't do that. You have four days left. There's so much you can still do.” And then you started naming off just random ideas. Have you tried this? Have you tried that? And I was like, oh, wait a second. Like, I had genuinely let it go in the middle of a launch. I don’t know—I think it came from fear, Michael. I think it came from “I had a really hard year last year. I didn't hit all my goals, and I knew I was crushed over that. This was doing a little bit better. I shouldn't expect more. I'll just take it. My team’s working so hard.” I, like, justified my way out of a million dollars in, like, a quick conversation.  


AMY: Yeah. 

MICHAEL: Well, and you were telling yourself a story based on a series of interpretations that you gave to some events that had happened in the past. And you had—and I talk to my own team about this all the time—don't walk off the field till the whistle blows, because like that game with the Vikings and the Colts, anything can happen in the last few minutes of a game.  

And so I would just like to ask you. So once we talked through that, you were committed to staying on the field. You started getting creative. I think rather than resignation, which is kind of what you had or the conclusion you'd come to, now of a sudden you're filled with some possibility, but what happened from there? 

AMY: So at that point, once you, like, kind of shook me metaphorically and said, “Get back on the field,” I thought, “Wait, he is right.” Like, just a light bulb went off. We still have four days left. There's so much we can still do. And so what I did is I went back home, my team was at my house, and I said, “Hey, guys, I just talked to Michael. He just reminded me that I just stepped off the field, as did we all,” because I'm the leader, so everyone just followed me, and I said, “We still  can turn this around, but we have to think of a new strategy because what we're doing is not going to make up that million dollars that we feel that we're behind.” And that's when I asked my team, “What could we do?” And I kind of threw some of the ideas you had. And from those ideas, we came up with a new idea that made perfect sense.  

So in that moment, we decided we're going to do a thirty-minute intensive training in addition to the webinars we've done. And we're going to charge for it, to make it different than my free webinars. And we're only going to promote it for one day. There's no replay. You have to show up. Like, it was so different than what we've done before. And I think the story I told myself is what I've done before, it's worked up until last year when things got kind of wonky, but it works for me. I know how to do this. Let's keep doing what works. And then realize, wait a second, it's not working as I thought. So the story I was telling myself was just do what you always do, Amy, and you'll get good results. That is not the truth.  

And also, the story I was telling myself was, it's too late. It's too late. We're in the launch. Everyone's doing the best they can. I don't want to disrupt everyone and throw a wrench in it. I don't want to be difficult. These were all the stories I was telling myself. I could layer stories like no one. Like, I think I deserve an award.  

MICHAEL: Well, actually, I hate to tell you this. You're amazing and unique in so many ways, but you're not unusual in this. 

AMY: I’m not, in this one? 

MICHAEL: I think everybody does that. I mean, part of the reason I was able to ask you that question and steer you in that is I've had my own launches where in the middle of it it looked like, oh, my gosh, we're going to miss the goal by a country mile, or we're going to miss it by a million dollars or whatever. And then just said, wait a second.  

And here's the thing. You know, it's a little bit like our actions are like a recipe. And if we keep taking the same actions, whether it's webinars or whatever has gotten us to this place, we're going to keep getting the same results because your results, whatever it was that you did prior to the result, was the perfect recipe for delivering that result, which honestly, probably 80 to 85 percent of the time is fine.  

AMY: Yeah. 

MICHAEL: You’re just tring to recreate the same result. It's a satisfactory result. You can't go in and, you know, interrogate every single story you have, but whenever you start to feel stuck, that's the point at which you can say, I need a breakthrough. And the breakthrough is not going to usually happen at the level of your actions. It's not going to come from working harder, redoubling your efforts, or even coming up with something that you haven't done before. That's all inside the realm of thinking. So the breakthrough has got to happen first in your thinking, then it will manifest itself in different actions. So in your case, you got into possibility. You walked back on the field and you went, Holy smoke, four days left, more time than I would have thought. We can still win this. And as a result of that, you rallied the team together. You did a great job leading your team. And you had them brainstorm, and you came up with all these ideas. Everybody's reengaged. Nobody's going to let go of the goal. And so how did you end up?  

AMY: So we ended up hitting our goal, and it was so much sweeter than we ever thought, because we knew that we had come to the table in a different way. We all looked at each other in amazement, but I don't know if we've ever been that proud of ourselves after a launch, and I really know it was because we rallied. We picked ourselves back up. And now we use that as, “Hey, guys, look what we did in the final hours of DCA. What is possible for the rest of the business?”  

We’re trying to hit our year-end goal right now. At the time we're recording this, it’s year end, but we'll air it in January. But we're, like, this close, so close to hitting our year-end goal. And someone brought up, “Well, look at the magic that happened in DCA. We can do anything.” So it's like now it's gone on even beyond that one situation. So it was huge for us. 

And I think the importance of minding your mindset is celebrating those moments when you actually do use the tools and they do result in something that you're so proud of. You have to celebrate that and carry that on. Because we're so good at looking back at what didn't work, I think sometimes we forget to look at what actually did work. 

MICHAEL: Well, that's why we try to start all of our coaching with rehearsing the wins since the last time we talked because one thing I know about business owners and executive leaders is they're good and they got to where they were because they fix problems. But what happens is they develop, they kind of over function on noticing the negative or noticing the things that aren't working, and then they start getting in a rut. And of course, what you focus on, you're going to get more of. But the beautiful thing that's happened for you and for your team is now you have a new story. Now you have a better, more empowering story. And this can go in your toolbox, and you can pull this out anytime you want.  

In fact, the story, as you know, if you've ever met a fisherman, and I know Hobie is a fisherman, as am I, the stories get better over time, right?  

AMY: Yeah. 

MICHAEL: Fish get bigger.  

AMY: So very true. So very true. Oh, my gosh.  

Speaking of, I got to tell you really quick—this is totally off topic—but I ran into Randy Garn. Do you know Randy? 

MICHAEL: I don’t. 

AMY: Do you know that name? Okay. He’s an incredible guy, and he is a fly fisherman. And I told him that that's going to be my hobby in 2023. I'm going to learn how to fly fish because you and Megan, your daughter, have been encouraging me. And Randy is an avid fly fisherman, and he sent me my first fly rod. I think it's official now. Like, I actually have the equipment to make this happen. I have no idea how to do it, but he sent it to me in the mail.  

MICHAEL: Well, you may have forgotten this, but you bought me an amazing fly rod that I would have never spent this much money on myself. But I think I won, like, some affiliate thing in working with you.  

AMY: I was going to say, “What?”  

MICHAEL: And so I've got—that is my main fly rod to this day. It’s the Amy Porterfield fly rod. 

AMY: Okay. I had no idea. So I am meant to be a fly fisherman, for the record.  

MICHAEL: It's just another sign.  

AMY: It's another sign. So get ready, Michael. We're fly fishing in 2023.  

MICHAEL: Excellent. 

AMY: Okay. I'm not totally done with you yet. I have a few more quick questions I want to ask about this, because I know we've told some of our own stories around some of the science of what is in between these pages of this book. But you have some incredible case studies. Can you think of a great case study you can kind of share with us, proof that this really does work and the science is there? 

MICHAEL: Yeah, well, certainly the example that we just cited with you is a great story.  

AMY: Yeah. 

MICHAEL: It's not in the book, but that's the kind of thing I would cite. But I'll give you another example. So this goes all the way back to the Great Recession. You were probably a teenager then. But this would have been about 2009-ish.  

AMY: Yeah. I wish I was a teenager. 

MICHAEL: I was the CEO at Thomas Nelson Publishers, one of the largest publishers in the country, now a division of HarperCollins. And so I had a board, and we had just missed our July numbers.  

AMY: Okay. 

MICHAEL: And so I had an executive coach, and she came in, and she said to me, she said, “So tell me how last month went.” And I said, “Well, we missed.” “How much?” “Well, by about 10 percent.” She said, “Really?” She said, “When I was here last month, you were so confident you were going to hit the numbers. What happened?” And I said, “Well, you know, industrywide, books aren't selling as well as they once were,” because we were right in the middle of the digital thing with conversion to Kindles and all that, and I said, “And we’re in a recession. Consumer confidence is at an all-time low.” And so she said, “Okay.” She said, “So you're saying that the cause of your results was all out there?” I said, “Yeah. That's what I'm saying.” And then she says to me, she says, “Well, let me ask you a question that maybe is a little bit more closer to home.” She said, “What was it about your leadership that led to these results?” 

AMY: Ooh. 

MICHAEL: Now, Amy, it ticked me off.  

AMY: That would tick me off. 

MICHAEL: I was like, how dare you? You know, “What do you mean? I led through this. And, you know, I just explained to you all these external factors that contributed to us missing the numbers.” And she said—and I had sort of rehearsed all that again, took a deep breath, rehearsed all that again for her. And she said, “Okay, I get that there are factors outside of your control. But what was it about your leadership that led to this result?” And so I tried to make another pass.  

And she said, “Let me ask it a different way.” She said, “If you could go back thirty days and if you could change the way you led, what would you have done differently?” And I said, “Oh, man, I would have done a bunch of things differently.” She said, “Well, like what?” I said, “Well, I probably would have gone on that big sales call to Walmart just to make sure,”—I'm a pretty good salesman—“just to make sure that we really got our books loaded in there.” She said, “What else would you have done?” I said, “I probably would have met with the sales team just for a stand-up meeting every morning to make sure we were on track so that we could make adjustments if we needed to.” So she said, “You didn't do either of those two things.” I said, “That's right.” She said, “So you're telling me it was your leadership that led to these results.” And I said, “”You're right.” 

And that has been one of those questions—and I cite this in the book and give her credit because it was an amazing question—that has served me so well, because as long as the problem is out there, there's nothing you can do about it. You know, maybe I can wish it would go away, but I can't control the economy. I can't control the industry I'm in. I can't control what my competitors do. I can't control consumer confidence. But I can lead, and I can take all those same facts, I can come up with a better, more empowering story and take responsibility for what I can take responsibility for. And oftentimes, ninety-nine times out of a hundred, that's enough. That's the difference maker. Otherwise, we wouldn't need leaders. But leaders are the ones that make the difference. 

AMY: Okay. I'm glad you brought this up. I had a similar situation recently, not as big as that, but we were promoting our Momentum program, and we had a goal for that, and we hit our goal. However, we had less annual than monthly. And so we hit our initial goal. But long term, that's going to hurt us because that's just a different ball game annual and monthly. And so I was talking to my team about that, and they're like, “Well, we're getting into a recession. It makes more sense. People are holding onto their money. They're doing the monthly just to be safe.” And then, like, it was the end of the conversation. And it didn't sit with me well, and I started thinking about it. There was absolutely things we could have done to beef up the annual bonuses and talk about annual in a different way and paint a different picture. But we instantly blamed it on the economy, and then we moved on.  

And I think that's going to happen a lot in 2023 if you're not very aware of it. Lots of my students are saying, “Should I take my prices down? Should I change this? The economy is going to be hard. Should I cut back here?” And what would you say to someone who is already using the excuse, “Next year’s going to be hard because we’re going to be in a recession”? 

MICHAEL: Yeah, I think I’ll probably start by interrogating the assumptions. So I might say something like, in the previous recession, if you can remember it, were there winners and losers? 

AMY: Absolutely.  

MICHAEL: Yes. Were there people that expanded their market share while others contracted?  

AMY: Absolutely.  

MICHAEL: Absolutely. So I wonder what was different about those that won compared to those that lost. And I can guarantee you it was inside their thinking. It wasn't just that they lucked into some market.  

Here's a good example. This isn't a recession example. But do you remember when Steve Jobs—again, this was back when you were a teenager—but when he launched the iPhone? 

AMY: Yes. 

MICHAEL: Okay. So everybody, like, all of his competitors, Bill Gates, other people were laughing at him. They said, “What an idiot.” I think Bill Gates said something like that, you know, on national television.  

AMY: Whoa. 

MICHAEL: He said, he just was, like, “The mobile phone market? Are you kidding me? It's saturated. Nobody wants to buy another phone.” He said, “I'll give this a year.” Well, here, now we’re on this side of it, that’s driven Apple to being—I don’t know if they still are—but the largest corporation in history, a trillion-dollar company. And, you know, he didn't just take the assumption that the market was flooded with phones and you couldn't invent something else.  

And I think the recession is something similar. And so I think to ask the question and say, “Okay, I get that there are some headwinds, and there's some challenge out there in the marketplace. But what if that actually led to some innovations that we've been needing to make for years, and now it gives us the opportunity to kind of recreate or reimagine our business?” And so I think at the very least, to see this as an opportunity, not an obstacle.  

AMY: An opportunity to reimagine your business. I hope everybody really heard that one. I think that is such a beautiful way to put it.  

I have one last question for you, and I know this is going to happen with some of my students listening, where they're going to get your book, and they're going to read it, and, like, “Okay, I'm going to apply these principles.” And then there's going to be a moment where they kind of forget all of it, and something is happening, and they get in the doom and gloom of it, like, “Oh no. This is going wrong. I might as well just kind of throw in the towel.” What do you say to people that kind of get off track with these lessons learned in the book to allow them to come back, knowing that at any given time you can use these principles? What do you do in that moment?  

MICHAEL: Yeah, I would come back to what are you telling yourself about this situation?  

AMY: So powerful. 

MICHAEL: Yeah, it's really powerful because it makes you aware that, wait a second. I'm not the same thing as the narrator inside my head. There's this chatter inside my head. Sometimes it feels like a committee. But there's all these people that are giving their color commentary on what's happening. But if I could just stop and take a deep breath and write those things down and then begin to interrogate them and say, “Okay, is that really true?” 

Like, I heard this public speaker one time. This was amazing, and I tell this story in the book. But I heard this public speaker at an industry event. He got up, and he said, “Well, I'm glad to be here.” But he said, “I'm not a very gifted speaker.” And he spent the next hour painfully proving to us that he was right.  

AMY: Ah. 

MICHAEL: But it was just, you know, that was the story that he was telling himself before he ever stepped on stage. And I used to tell myself the same thing. I used to hate public speaking. I used to dread public speaking.  

AMY: That's crazy, coming from you.  

MICHAEL: Oh, my gosh. Before I would get up on the stage, my hands would be clammy. They would be cold. I would be sweating so profusely that I literally would wear sometimes two T-shirts under my shirt, hoping that I wouldn't sweat through my shirt and give myself away. And I was terrified. My brain would be racing. At some point, I decided that that story wasn't serving me. Whatever I was telling myself—you know, that I might make a fool out of myself, that they won't like me; they won't get my jokes; I'm going to forget what I was going to say. I was having all these stories in my head going around—I said, “You know what?”  

And I was doing some research on adrenaline at the time. And I thought, this is just adrenaline. And adrenaline is, like, the ultimate performance-enhancing drug. It makes you think clearer, it makes you more confident than you probably should be, and it enables you to perform at a higher level than you've ever performed.  

And so then I started saying to myself, “Okay, forget all that other chatter I'm hearing. Now what I'm going to say to myself is, when I start getting those clammy hands,”—this actually happened to me before this interview—“before I start sweating, I'm going to say to myself, ‘This is how my body prepares itself for peak performance.’” Totally changed everything. Now I can't wait to get on stage.  

AMY: “This is how my body prepares itself for peak performance.” Literally, you just told yourself a different story.  

MICHAEL: Just a different story. That's it. 

AMY: It's so incredibly powerful.  

I love that you and Megan wrote this book. I'm so excited for many of my readers to get it. So, where should people go to learn more about the book, grab it? because it's going to be out any minute now.  

MICHAEL: Well, the best place to go is, And it's really important that you put the “forward slash Amy“ because we have a special deal for your listeners. 

AMY: Oh! 

MICHAEL: So they can get $515.98 worth of free bonuses when they buy the book, including the audiobook—so don’t go buy the audio book. Buy the print book or buy the Kindle. You get something called a Self-Coacher Desk Tool, which will enable you, when you get in those moments, to kind of coach yourself through the process. And then we're doing a Mind Your Mindset online course, which is almost a five-hundred-dollar value, that you'll get for free. And all that is just as a result of going to  

AMY: Perfect. We’ll also add it to the show notes, so you all could grab it easily. 

Michael, you know I'm one of your biggest fans. Thank you so much for coming on the show. And congratulations for your new book. 

MICHAEL: Thanks, Amy. Thanks for having me. 

AMY: So there you have it. I don't know about you, but I've been finding myself so fascinated by these success- and entrepreneur-related studies lately. Maybe it brings me some ease when I find myself spiraling, like, “Oh, my gosh, how am I going to hit this goal? Or how am I going to make this work?” And then I realize, “Wait a second. There is a process. There is a system that I can use in order to choose a different story and keep moving forward.” 

So again, that process: identify the problem and the story surrounding it. Two, interrogate the story. And number three, imagine something that works better. Imagining it. Just imagining it is part of the power here.  

So I want you to write this down. I want you to write those three steps down. And when you're spiraling, when things aren't working, when you're freaking out, when you're worrying, go back to these three steps. You saw how quickly you can work through them, right? I think this is very powerful. I’m absolutely going to be using this tool throughout the entire year because if you know me, you know I am a natural worrier. And so I think these three steps are going to remedy that and then some.  

There's so much more inside of this book, Mind Your Mindset. I think it should be an anthem for our entire year. Let's all read it together. Let's make sure that we talk about it online to help other people really master their mind so they can get the results that they're looking for.  

All right, my sweet friends. Thanks for joining me. And I'll see you for more entrepreneurial goodness. Bye for now.