Dave Hollis Wants To Help You 'Get Out Of Your Own Way'
His wife, self-dev superstar Rachel Hollis, may have been heading to the top of her field but a few years ago Dave Hollis was firmly a self-dev skeptic. What happened that made him a convert and led to his new book, 'How To Get Out Of Your Own Way'?By Sean Tulien
To play the media you will need to either update your browser to a recent version or update your Flash plugin.
Note: Text has been edited and may not match audio exactly.
Sean Tulien: Hi, I'm editor Sean and currently sitting across the table from the next big name in self-development listening, Dave Hollis. His first audio book, Get Out Of Your Own Way: A Skeptic's Guide To Growth And Fulfillment released on March 10. In it, Dave explores modern masculinity and personal growth with radical vulnerability and remarkable candor. Thanks for coming in, Dave.
Dave Hollis: Thanks for having me, Sean.
ST: I'm glad you're here. You've had quite a career as a former chief of theater distribution at Disney during two of its most profitable years. You're a former tour manager for Beyoncé, which is amazing. I don't even know what to say about that. You're a dad to four adorable kids, and husband to self-dev superstar Rachel Hollis.
So I’ve got to ask you, considering this book is about personal growth and a radical commitment to that, how does a guy with those credentials and that life decide he needs to make a big change to his life?
DH: Oh man, I wish it was just as good as it sounds on paper or as good as it sounds when Sean is reading it, but I had a very successful, as you say, career from the outside.
I spent about 25 years’ worth of time working inside of entertainment where I went from Fox, working in research and in publicity, into an agency where I was managing talent. I had a roster that included Melissa Joan Hart and Ricky Lake, corporate clients, and Sports Illustrated. I transitioned into a grassroots marketing role where yes, indeed during their first album release I took Destiny's child on a mall tour, where, among other things, my responsibility was hotdog-on-a-stick trips. So it was pretty, pretty high level.
ST: So you were getting hot dogs on a stick for Beyoncé?
DH: I don't want to say that there was a particular Destiny's child that was having a hot dog on a stick, but it was the very, very beginning of their music career and we were introducing them to people who may not yet know them, you know? Here's their music. Here's who they are. They did this small concert literally in the center court of a mall where we were drawing a couple of hundred people per location.
ST: Oh wow.
DH: I transitioned from there into the Walt Disney company where I spent 17 years of time working inside of the movie studio. I came in as a coordinator, and over that time ended my career there as the head of distribution, the head of sales for the film distribution business, putting movies in theaters.
And as much as that career, that business, that identity that I was connected to from the outside with the title, the status, the pay, my ability to take care of my family or kind of what it meant to the outside world, I found myself in this weird bridge between 30 and 40, asking a bigger set of questions about why I was on this planet? Why had been given the gifts I'd been given? And against the backdrop of a job where I was surrounded by the very, very best teams, the best leadership, and by far the greatest brands in the history of entertainment in Disney, Pixar, Lucas film and Marvel studios doing well, getting an A on a test. I didn't require the kind of studying that it might have when I first started that job as head of distribution.
And so I was struggling. I was really stuck in this unfulfilled station in life where at the same time my wife was really in this pursuit of personal development.
ST: And this is before she released her first book in 2018, audio book rather for self-development?
DH: So she'd had a string of fiction books. She had a couple of cookbooks, but what really started her nonfiction book career was struggling with anxiety. Just a strange way to get into nonfiction.
ST: I struggle with anxiety on a daily basis.
DH: Here's the thing. She struggled with it and then decided to go on a hunt for understanding why she felt the things that she felt and how in understanding the things she was believing that were contributing to her anxiety, she might be able to change a little bit of her mindset, change the state of her mind to change the way that she feels. And when she's now running towards podcasts, books and personal development conferences, I am, as she's ascending, descending, and that distance between who we each were as a part of this union continued to exaggerate until finally there's this breaking point where we have a conversation about what it would mean if we were to continue on the trajectory that we each were on.
ST: As then your separate trajectories are going across from each other.
DH: Absolutely, right. She is 100% a person who identifies growth as one of the biggest and most important commodities in her life, always has. The search and hunt for how, like the anxiety in her life was showing up. She had some PTSD from some hard trauma that she'd been through. The work that she did was giving her proof and the power of the tools that existed that if she were to continue to do the work, she'd keep growing. And so as she has growth as this thing, that's her North star, she is just going all in.
And I meanwhile, I'm stuck. I'm frustrated. I have what I thought as a younger boy I thought against the backdrop of what masculinity defines as what a real man should want. What society says is good. I'm stuck, struggling to understand why I can't feel a sense of fulfillment and I'm descending into a ditch of my own making while she's ascending.
And when we really got into that diverging path, her ascension, my descending, she asked a tough set of questions. Where will we be if we stay on this path three months from now? Will we still have date night? In a year, will we still be making out? In three years, will we still be married?
ST: Oh wow, that's some candor.
DH: And I knew the answer, right? It was a gut punch. It's the kind of conversation you don't want to have to have. But the clarity and the leverage that came out of that conversation was a catalyst for a massive action. It was like, oh, okay. I can see now the future that exists if I don't take seriously questioning if my skepticism is for me or not. It takes seriously reframing some of the stuff that my fixed mindset may have closed me off to. Reframing a little bit of how motivation is a thing I might have to actually activate every day as opposed to depend on existing from either external sources or, you know, just naturally.
ST: I think one thing that you said that’s really interesting to our listeners is that just because you're at the top of what most people would consider to be a career, right? You're at a high performing job doing well, but you didn't feel a sense of fulfillment because that wasn't doing it for you.
And I think that's interesting because most people who aren't working at the top levels of Disney, or Lucas films, or you know, managing Destiny's Child's tours, they assume that if they have that level of success, a lot of their problems are just going to disappear. And that sounds like it's definitely not the case?
DH: Yeah. What I didn't appreciate at the like beginning of this journey was this tie that exists between growth and fulfillment. And the job I had, I was seven years in that last post as the head of distribution. And the first few years of that job were exhilarating. And they were exhilarating because I was every single day drinking from a fire hydrant, walking into rooms normally where I had less information, less experience, less sense of how to do the job I had been entrusted to do than some of the people sitting in the room.
ST: So you had challenges and things to prove?
DH: Challenges, things to prove, opportunities every single day to learn, mistakes that I could make so that in making the mistakes I could grow from now applying what came out of that mistake in the future. And, you know, the learning curve, like any learning curve was something that happened to have been crossed over at the same time that the company was adding resources, right? I came on just as Pixar had been acquired.
In the first couple years of being in the job, Lucas film was acquired. Nope. In the first couple of years of being in the job, Marvel studios was acquired and then two years later, Lucas film was acquired. And I don't want to take anything away from the hard work that my team was doing to make sure these movies were in theaters. But as the head of sales negotiating the biggest deals to make sure that Star Wars films or Avengers films go into and stay in movie theaters, isn't as hard as it was when I first started and I was trying to convince a theater to keep Wild Hogs in the theater, right? Like that's different, right? Like that's just a different kind of leverage. It's a different kind of experience.
And so, as time went by – and again this isn't again a testament necessarily to my skill – but I wasn't in a position where I could fail. And in the absence of being able to fail, there was no opportunity to grow, and if you're not growing, you're dying. I truly have come to believe that it is one or the other, you're either growing or dying. And in that slow death of treading water, of not being pushed in a place where I was growing on an every-single-day basis, it was impossible to feel fulfilled.
ST: And it's probably harder to feel alive too if there isn't that sense of atoms bashing against each other at high speed, no newness of it all.
DH: That, yes. That for sure. I definitely was the beneficiary of a lot of opportunity that came in quick succession so that any kind of professional ADD, as it were, was always satisfied pretty regularly.
But I also had in an interesting contrast – a wife who was pursuing work in a company that she built that was really focused on impacts. How can, at the time she and now we, create tools that in the hands of people who use them might afford them the chance to take control of and change their life. Man, that's a big mission, right?
ST: It's a big contrast with how you were feeling, right?
DH: It's a big contrast. And so when you're holding in one hand, I can achieve these records. I can get these bonuses. I can be parts of these groups or sit at these tables. And yes, there's impact, because, man, movies are amazing. And I love movies. And the memory of the opening weekend of Force Awakens as I'm sitting in the back of a theater. At the memory of Black Panther’s opening. Like, man, there were some things!
DH: But when I contrast some of what I was doing then as an individual contributor and the kind of individual contribution, having impact on a broad population versus what I'm working with my wife to do today, it's night and day. And staying connected to that: How can I serve? How can we impact? How can the tools we create have rippling lasting generational change? Man, it creates a different sense of motivation for me as someone who has been really a person who struggled with motivation over time.
ST: Interesting. Earlier you mentioned the conversation you had with Rachel about which direction you were both were heading. It sounds like, and having listened to the audio book, I don't want to give anything away, but that was a major point of origin for why you decided to write this audio book.
DH: Yes. I wrote the book after seeing the impact of her book. But it's important to say that I also start my book describing my first reaction to reading her book when it was still like a printed-out binder-clipped first draft, not the submitted final version of Girl Wash Your Face.
ST: I remember that part very well. It was almost like voyeurism. I felt like I was watching as it happened to you.
ST: It was intense.
DH: I came out of this corporate environment. This [place with] the rules of what it means to live a certain way and be a certain kind of man. The vulnerability and transparency that she imbued in that book felt threatening to an image – the curation of a life of “everything's okay, trust us, it's great” that we… that I more than she, was manicuring and perpetrating to make sure that it didn't feel like anything was really wrong or that we were struggling in any way.
And so I actively tried to convince her to not release the book, which is bananas now. I mean, it's almost sold four million copies. I am super happy to have not successfully convinced her of anything. But my decision to write the book really came out of the benefit of being front row to the witness of how people in having read her work felt in some of the ways she was able to shed light on lies that she'd previously believed. And now in that truth afforded them an opportunity to also take control of their life.
I asked a set of questions: what of my experiences in having had a lot of success but then falling off that track, self-sabotage, bad coping mechanisms got in my own way? What were the lies that I was believing that if I were to shine some light on might afford people a chance to get out of their own way? But written from a completely different perspective in that I am not wired like my wife at all.
DH: I mean, she was so into and a believer of the power of these tools from jump street. I mean, just in a way that induced eye-rolling from me. In a way that made me sabotage a little bit of her progress because of my disbelief and the things that she was reaching for being things that were good or that, you know, people who weren't broken. Like, I had this like very strange thought that self-help, that personal development was for broken people. Not people who are interested in just continuing to grow from a great place.
ST: And you're very open about that throughout – your attitudes and how they change toward personal growth and self-development as a field. And in some sense, it's almost like having your life and some of the things that maybe you didn't want everyone in the world to know, are being put into the spotlight and that seems like a really hard thing for anybody to deal with. That had to be life changing. Really rough.
DH: It was the most disorienting thing probably of my adult life, which in some ways you may say, what a sheltered life you have that this is the most disorienting thing you did.
ST: I don't. I don't feel that way. I could see it.
DH: But, it was hard in part because so much of my identity had been connected to the predictability and comfort and certainty of a thing that was on a business card or associated with the title, the job. And this decision to pull back and show, oh nope, these are the ways that we as a family, the ways that we as individuals have struggled, um, felt like a violation in some ways of some of what we'd worked to protect.
What I've come to appreciate is there's universal struggle, right? Like every single person, every one of you listening, if you struggle, good news! You're human! And you and I have that in common, like every other human on the planet. And also the willingness for any of us to share our struggle affords an opportunity to connect with somebody in a way that the idea of keeping it bottled up or protected because of vanity or ego or insecurity, whatever it might be, would not allow you the opportunity to connect. And it's like a run-on sentence.
And, I, in having written this book and we'll talk about how hard it was to write this book as dang it, it was hard, but in writing this book, I have shared everything that I could possibly think of that would be of help to someone who's interested in getting out of their way by being really honest about what got in my way. And as much as it was hard putting it on the page, it is so freeing, it is so liberating. There's nothing in the shame department. In the less than, in the enough, in the worthy department that is capable of coming up because in having not only put it out for all to see, but also talking openly about what it's taken to get past it or how much more work-in-progress it is — it will be forever a work that I am progressing through, it's changing the way that any of the way that previously I gave it in the dark has now that it sits in the light and I'm talking openly about it.
ST: Yeah, I mean there are a lot of points in the early part of the audiobook that caught my ear. The thing that really stuck with me, and I think I referred to it as radical vulnerability when I introduced to you, is really how honest you are and how critical you are of yourself. Not in a disparaging way, but an honest way, a searching way, right?
I remember that I've always been a vulnerable kid. I've always been a sensitive kid and even into my adult years, that was something I struggled with. Something you talk a lot about is, when you were in therapy and when you were doing this kind of soul searching, part writing this audiobook and experiencing this part of your life was that it's okay to be vulnerable as a guy. And I embraced that about myself. I like that about myself now, but for a long time I didn't and I still struggle with that sometimes. And I think you specifically said that in writing this book, there were points where the things you talked about and explored triggered you at times?
DH: Oh man. Number one: I'm a massive fan of therapy. If man or woman or cyborg, if you have an aversion in any way or taboo wrapped in the idea of mental health as a thing that you ought to be pursuing fully on an every-single-day basis with as much or more weight to your physical health, that you need to just change that narrative immediately please. But also if therapy as a part of mental health is something that you feel like only people that are broken or sick or wrong need, I beg you to reconsider.
It was such an amazing gift to sit on the couch of an objective stranger and let the things that were sitting in my unconscious or subconscious come forward and unpack why I think the things I do and why I do the things I do so that I could, and now understanding them and seeing them clearly have a plan to addressing when they might have happen again.
The idea though of being vulnerable or being like comfortable being yourself. Yes there is against the backdrop of masculinity, maybe more a thing for men. There's a universalism in this, right?
The book was not written for men as much as it's for men. It's written for men and women. Anyone who has ever gotten in their way, hopefully there's going to be something that you can take away in the storytelling and some of the self-deprecating poking at my own foibles, and the way that I've just tripped all over myself and gotten back up will be a help to you avoiding the trip. Or if you've already tripped, giving you the encouragement to yourself to get back up.
That starts by being honest about where you are and what you've done and there, yeah, there, there is a version of me having written this book that didn't really tell you the truth, that didn't really go as honestly about how hard or how dark. There are some stuff that I include about the relationship I have with my wife and one of her superpowers is this idea of radical candor. I mean, Kim Scott has a book and a Ted talk, and a whole host of great resources, but we committed as a couple, if we're really truly in pursuit of an exceptional relationship, then accountability is a part of that pursuit and our willingness to have hard conversations has to become a hallmark of how we pursue it.
Well, dang it. When you're in your way, when you're making bad choices using bad coping mechanisms or whatever it might be, and you've committed to this in a partnership, then man, you better be ready for what comes. Well, I shared a few of the emails.
DH: I mean we decided, right? We decided to employ this process. I know the question was about vulnerability. I've gotten a little off topic, but that's okay.
ST: I think you're good.
DH: Just go.
ST: You're good.
DH: Just go with me.
ST: Run with it.
DH: You know, we committed as a part of wanting to keep each other accountable, to really make sure that we put in words the thing, like the full thought in a way that was conscientious of what the other person needed to hear in a way that we've, you know, each thought that the other could hear it.
So I share a few of these emails because we decided email is the way to start a conversation sometimes that can set the table for us to really get into something that needs to be addressed.
ST: And there's a record of the conversation.
DH: There's a record of the conversation, but also it affords the person who's hearing it to receive it in a timeframe that allows them to process before reacting. Because what we'd identified was that I'd step in it, I'd have my best friend use her superpower, calling me out, and if debate team captain were still a thing at 44 years old, I am applying for it. I'm ready to debate.
And so instead of being an active listener, most often I was formulating the response to defend my action before she'd even finish her comment.
And by receiving her note, I'm able to process it even if it hurts my feelings, even when it triggers me emotionally. And once I've been able to sit with it, I can then respond. Well, including that note, the few notes of her being really, really honest, though the thing I asked of her in our pursuit of being in this relationship that we want to be exceptional. I didn't have to, but part of it was, I'd love to be able to model how we've tried to do it ourselves and I want you to understand how bad things got at certain points. Because I'm really proud of where I am on the other side of having made some bad choices and devolved into a version of myself that I wasn't proud of. That Rachel didn't deserve as a partner, that my kids — I've got four kids, it's like a thousand kids — they deserved a better dad. She deserved a better husband, and if I were to give you the sugarcoated version of it, one, it probably wouldn't have been as relatable because we all struggle with these things.
And two, I wanted to be able to show that you can be in a place that feels super deep in the valley and get your way out of it, and in not that long a period of time if you commit to the work and use the tools.
ST: I love that you read some of the emails that she wrote you because it instilled kind of a sense of trust to me cause it's not just you reflecting and giving examples of your life, but it's also her directly stating the things that you were battling with. And I think it's fair because knowing who she is, knowing she's one of the biggest voices in self-development today, I do kind of want to ask you a question: How healthy is the competitiveness between you two with your book coming out?
Like is there, is there going to be like, do I have a standard to, to meet or?
DH: Yeah, if I don't sell as many books as Girl Wash Your Face, this will be a failure? And no, that's ridiculous, of course not. What's interesting is we're not in competition with each other.
DH: We exist to be a support of and amplify in the case of her creating and my creating, but I'm also truly trying to come into the market with something that is a reflection of my wiring in an attempt to connect with those who have relatability to that wiring. And, you know, I'm sure there are plenty of people that wake up in the morning with an internal combustion engine of motivation beating inside of their chest like my wife does. But I'm going to guess that there may in fact be more people who have more days that they wake up feeling like me, that they don't want to get up and go out to that garage gym, that they don't feel like going out and pursuing their dreams.
Well then there's an addressable audience of people for me to represent how I am still going to achieve a life of impact. I'm still going to achieve a life of setting and surpassing goals, even though there are plenty of days when I don't feel like doing it. And here are the tips on how I had to engineer my motivation.
So competing? No. But of course like I find myself in a very interesting spot. I am a first-time author who is sitting here. And I can appreciate fully and totally that the opportunity to even get to come and hang out here is a reflection of some great tailwinds that are afforded to me because of my awesome wife. I mean, she is awesome.
DH: Now with that, there comes a lot of responsibility, right? Like I feel like I've been handed a golden ticket as an author and so, dang it. I worked to record the greatest audio book in the history of by writing and rewriting and rewriting and rewriting and then taking the edits, and I'm going on a book tour. I am doing as many things as I possibly can to honor some of the opportunity that's afforded to me because of the relationship I end up having with her. And even in that, if I try and tether what I hope this book to do to the kind of success that she's had, it will not be successful.
DH: Because success for me is truly 100% defined by this book finding one listener who in there relating to my stories, decides to take the kind of action that is necessary to take control of their life and get out of their way.
ST: I bring up that comment as kind of a moment of levity because I think something that came to be very clear to me as I'm listening throughout the whole thing, is that despite the fact that some of the emails and some of the statements that Rachel made to you at these points in your life, being very direct and very blunt, it's obvious that you're both on the same team, right?
DH: Oh, yeah.
ST: You have the same goals. So I think that to me was the key takeaway. It's like when you talk about your relationship prior to that point, when you started examining these things in tandem, you talk about it differently. Even when you're narrating the audiobook as you do after the fact, it's varied. It's striking. It's really memorable.
DH: It is. We were doing an interview recently and we were asked this question about the roles that we've played for each other in our marriage over the course of time. And with my career and her growing this business that had not yet tipped into the place that our businesses turned into, for 13 years of our marriage, she was Dave Hollis' wife.
For the last three years of our marriage, I have been Rachel Hollis's husband. What an awesome thing, by the way. I'll take it every single day. But I'd be lying if [I didn’t say that] that identity shift, that swing in what I'd known for so long in our marriage, didn't mess with me a little bit. Didn't trigger a little bit of the insecurity or the worry or the feeling of what are they thinking and whatever. In one of the chapters I write about the shift of my having been the primary breadwinner in the family for a good part of our marriage, 14 of the 16 years we've been married to Rachel, 14 of the 15 years that we've been married. Let's, come on, let's not get it wrong. I mean, I don't know when this is going to air, but we don't have 16 coming until may.
Bottom line is, when she and I decided to start doing this work together as her book came out, the success that she had with the books and the speaking on her stages and the line that's now a Target, all of the things that have happened have had the way that she contributes to our family overshadow what I've ever contributed, truly. And guess what? Through the lens of the way society, the way masculinity, the way I was raised, the way my parents existed as a family of origin, all of the things that I had become accustomed to of what it meant to be a provider, we're not different. And what it triggered for me was, well if she doesn't need me, will she still love me? Right?
I truly can see now in the aftermath of having processed the ridiculousness of some seventh-grade insecurity that gets triggered by my wife's success, how it was ridiculous, but it doesn't take anything away from it being a true emotion that I had to process in the real time of it happening.
ST: And a relatable one. To be honest, I think a lot of people still struggle with that. Men, women too, if the roles are reversed, there is that thing. And you speak specifically about this, about achievements, right? If I don't have achievements, if I'm not constantly achieving, especially in a professional sphere, what am I? Am I a man? Am I worthy of love? That is something that it sounds like you had to get past.
DH: Oh yeah. The thing is our identity is in a constant fluid state and yet when we get in any of those states that lasts for a long enough period of time, the safety of the knowns of that make the unknowns of whatever it's shifting to scary, because we just don't know, right? Like, yeah, it could be that you're a man who's now going to have as, if you're in a same, if, it could be that you're a man if you're married to a woman, and the woman now starts to earn more than you, and that changes your dynamic of what it means to be the provider or not breadwinner or not. But it could be that you're a stay at home mom, and your kids have grown up, and as they transition out of the house, you're thinking differently about who you are now that they don't need you in the same way that you needed, they needed you before. Someone who's retiring, someone who's transitioning into the workforce for the first time.
There are all sorts of stuff. And what I've come to appreciate is, one, the feelings are normal, right? If you are feeling things in the midst of identity shift, congratulations, you are a human.
But getting a handle on what you're feeling, why you're feeling it, and what you can do to take the lies that exist, the limiting beliefs that are fueling your insecurity, your anxiety, your fear, and shining a light of truth on them to make them unbelievable that's the point of this book. That's the point of the personal development journey that I'm on. And you know, I thought the hard decision in this taking action step was the decision for action.
Right? We have this hard conversation. We've painted the picture of a divergent path. I'm going to leave the Walt Disney company where I'm the president of distribution to go work with my wife, move our family to Austin, Texas. I thought that was the hard decision or the hard part, and it was a hard part. But it was us leaving the harbor of certainty that began the truly hard part.
ST: So, in your book you talk a lot about the necessity of discomfort, because if you're not feeling uncomfortable, you're not growing, right? So I guess what I'm trying to ask you is, can I still play video games? Is there a place for comfort? Is there a place for that temporary status?
DH: There's definitely a place for it, but I hate to say the word, but, I mean, Sean, I want you to play all the video games that you want. What I've come to appreciate, and this may be a little bit of the pragmatism in the way that my brain is wired, I have to look at what I say. I want to be who I say I want to be. How I want to show up or be seen by the people I love or crave love from, and what it takes to get there.
Okay? So to me it comes down to this very simple, if-then mathematic kind of equation. For example, I'm getting ready to do a 21-city book tour. That's a lot of cities in a short period of time. So if I want to have the energy to bring the kind of performance on the 21st date as I do on the first date, then I need to commit to a fitness regimen that conditions me to have that energy on the 21st date. If, right? And I can do all of them. I want to have an exceptional relationship, then I have to pursue my wife every single day. Like I am still trying to date her and convince her to marry me. If I want to connect with my children, then I need to put my phone down, right?
And so the, the thing I would suggest to you or any listener is, if you want to play video games, that is rad. Congratulations and I'm super supportive of it. Understand what the tradeoff is.
Because if you also want to record your first audiobook, and that requires writing your first audiobook and you also have a job, the idea that you can have a job, have an exceptional relationship, be a fantastic father, play video games, and write your first audiobook is math that goes sideways because of the fixed nature of time.
Right? I know what I want for 2020. I have painted a very, very clear picture of I'm going to go jump around on these stages for these personal development conferences that we throw. I'm going to help lead this team as we launch things at Target. I'm going to do this book tour or I'm going to have this book come out an Audible on March 10th. I'm going to do all these things. Then and my then statement had to talk about the things that I do, but also the things I don't do.
And so for me, it was like then I have to go to bed each night by 9:00 PM. It is nonnegotiable because if I'm going to get up at 5:00 AM and be in the garage gym before I get my nutrition, before I do some journaling, before I do a little bit of time in scripture like I have to do, the first thing is saying no to is watching something on television and playing video games after 9:00 PM, which was just a part of who I was, if I wanted to be able to do this stuff I have in my morning routine. So you can, but you just might have to calibrate who you say you want to be. Sorry, this is a little tangent, but I'm, I'm going to learn this ...
ST: No, I love the idea of the mathematical equation. That makes more sense.
DH: I got to learn this point too because this is, uh, maybe as important as anything. So often the things that were getting in my way were dissonance between who I said I was, who I said I wanted to be, right? Either who I said I was or who I said I wanted to be and who I knew myself to be when I was by myself falling asleep at night.
So if I said that I was going to be an exceptional father, but I mailed it in, right? If I said I was going to be an exceptional husband but mailed it in, if I said I was going to be an exceptional leader of this team …? The dissonance that was there was a product of not having understood the if-then statement in a way that would have had me doing the prerequisite work to have alignment between who I say I want to be and who I know myself to be when I'm by myself.
ST: Like matching up that ideal self versus the actual self.
DH: That's right.
ST: So the last thing I want to ask you is specifically, I know we talked a little bit about how writing the book triggered some things in you because you had to talk about difficult things.
ST: Things that will be difficult for anyone to talk about, um, and as a result you got stronger. But what I want to know is as you're narrating this audio book, because you did narrate it yourself and it's great, it's wonderful. I'm wondering though, as you're going through it with every points, was actually saying those words out loud different or more challenging than putting them on paper?
DH: Yeah. In one the chapters I tell my side of this story of our adoption journey which, you know, oh, five years of time on failed adoptions that had kids that we believed were going to forever be a part of our family, that we named, brought home from the hospital and had living in our house ultimately leave our house.
ST: Oh man.
DH: Going through that chapter was… just saying it out loud, talking about it out loud was emotional. I think you can hear it when you hear the audio.
ST: You can, yeah.
DH: When you hear the audio, you hear it.
ST: It's not like there's tremulousness or anything, but you can tell that there's like a deeper timbre to your voice when you're talking about them.
DH: Yeah. There's a part of the first chapter where in the aftermath of Rachel and I having this hard conversation on the foot of our bed, in my head now as the narrator narrating a sentence, did I want to live or did I want to die? As I'm talking about this decision between growing or staying stuck.
And in that sentence, did I want to grow or did I want to die? It makes me want to cry right now because I can still connect immediately to that guy that had the outside optics, the curated Facebook feed and Instagram on point. I'd convinced everybody that everything was awesome and I was so struggling and so stuck and so in my way. And that decision to not die, that decision to live in the kind of work it would take to get there, I think in the way that I am reading it and speaking into a microphone and talking about it, hopefully you connect with it because my goodness, it was like ripping at my heart to even kind of go back to that place at writing every single chapter, truly. Writing every single chapter of this book felt like being back in the office of my therapist, working through why I was doing the things I was doing and thinking the things I was thinking.
Getting the edits back on this book, I'll be honest, if there was a trigger that was the hyper trigger of all triggers it was that. Because here I felt like I pushed myself to be really honest and vulnerable about things that most people aren't. And then I got back a bunch of red marks that were like, “Well, we'd like to correct your therapy sessions,” and I was like, “Oh, please go on. Please go on.” It's interesting. I have talked a lot and in talking about it have found overwhelming relatability to drinking or fill-in-the-blank negative coping mechanisms as a thing that people who are struggling, which is every human who's listening, all of you all struggle. I struggle. And as we struggle and decide to use something to help us cope with that struggle, the downside of that choice, right?
The upside of the choice in real time I was in this season of trying to make this change, having a drink to kind of smooth the rough edges of a long day. When things started to feel uncomfortable or I felt insecure, I had fear. And as much as I was committed to this idea of pushing myself into uncertain waters and into places where I could grow, every time I went into that space, it would be triggering. And so I did what I do when I'm triggered. I'd have a drink to try and calm those nerves, reduce that anxiety. And the thing that I, on the other side of it am a 100% clear on, you cannot mute the anxiety without muting the joy.
DH: And you also can't mute the fear without muting the benefits that come from the growth that you're seeking.
ST: And when you're narrating your own story like that, you can't mute the way you feel about either. Which I think is why in self-development especially in memoir, it's so important that the author narrates the book, right?
Because, because it's first of all believability. Like when I hear it in your voice that you felt those things, that's, that's, um, genuineness, that's authenticity, right?
DH: If someone else tried to narrate this book, I would have to find them and, and I ... No, I would not find. I would not do that, no. There's no violence. But here's the thing: I can't imagine somebody else trying to conjure what it felt like to be in that season that I'm describing in detail other than me. Like, it's ...
ST: Yeah, it's not fiction and it can't be approximated.
ST: So, I lied. That wasn't the last thing I want to ask you. The last last thing I want to ask you is, when people are finished listening to this audiobook and they love it, what are some audio books that are your personal favorites that might be interesting to people who love this one?
DH: Great question. So, in real time, what's in my audible playlist is Stillness Is The Key by Ryan Holiday, who endorsed the book. And I don't know that his endorsement was an influence for me needing to say that out loud in this podcast, but dang it. Thank you, Ryan.
ST: But you love the book? You love the book.
DH: Here's the thing, I love the book. And more than anything, I want to give people a gift of advice. And that is, fight for time for you to live your everyday life, to get clarity on where you are, what's getting in your way, where you want to go, and what it'll take to get there. Because too often when we think about self-care, like the immediate default is like, "Oh yeah, I'll go to the spa," or "I'll go like, whatever." Right?
But if you can get six hours and that is a premium, some people have a thousand kids like I do, but you might have to ask your husband to parent the kids too for a day. Get a couple of hours away to just get clear. This book that he's written is such a gift in the power of really getting away from the distractions of everyday life. So that's one.
Two and three are two of the books that I reference and just have such reverence for because of the power and the impact they had at the beginning of my journey. And that is, Mindsetby Carol Dweck and Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg.
ST: Oh, yeah.
DH: Right. I have been someone who is, I would call it, recovering fixed mindset for ever and ever. And diving into understanding the science behind mindset, and now that I understand it, how to kind of preempt my attempts to get in my own way was so helpful because of the work of Carol Dweck.
And Power of Habit, man, if you aren't conscious of what you are doing, it's likely that your habits are leading your life instead of you leading it yourself. And so, if you can be conscious of how habits work, if there's a trigger and a response, and, uh, right? All of the things that are inside of each of those books were massive foundational blocks, building blocks, for every other thing that I've since read. Every other thing that I've since done on my journey to get out of that ditch I created when I was stuck between 30 and 40. I encourage you to listen to both.
ST: I've listened to Carol Dweck book as well and I loved it. So if what we've been talking about today is of interest to you, which I'm sure for many of you. Well, just remember it's available on Audible right now. Go give it a listen. Let us know what you think. Let Dave know what you think.
DH: Unless you don't like it, in which case keep it to yourself.