Dr. Cassidy Preston’s Guide to Conquering Life’s Toughest Battles

Boxing gloves

When I interviewed Dr. Preston, a mental performance coach for professional athletes and high-performers, for my podcast, we explored various facets of personal growth, from overcoming adversity to achieving peak performance. This blog post captures the essence of their discussion, offering valuable insights for anyone seeking to transform their life and mindset.

YOU CAN LISTEN TO THE CONVERSATION OR YOU CAN READ THE Q&A SHARED BELOW-

Cassidy's Guide to Conquering Life's Toughest Battles!

Hitting Rock Bottom and the Pursuit of High Achievement

A valuable perspective is to see the great opportunity in these moments. They allow us to self-reflect and ask ourselves, 'Who do I want to be? What matters most to me?' When life is moderately challenging, we tend not to self-reflect or strive for what we want and matters most.

Q: People who have hit rock bottom or people who’ve had years and years of being stuck in the same place, where do they start? How do they get back up and give their life a fresh start?

Dr. Preston: I’ll address your question about the rock bottom side of things, but first, let’s consider it from a broader perspective. When you think about the pursuit of high performance and achievement, it’s a double-edged sword. It’s great to be ambitious, but this can lead to stress, struggles, and challenges. A common starting point for many is facing a tough situation, feeling lost, not knowing where to go, feeling like they’re at rock bottom, or going through a transition period in their life. Often, we quickly label these experiences as bad. Once we label something as inherently bad, it creates a stigma and a negative narrative. We think, “Oh, I’m in a bad place. This is so bad.” True, there are situations we don’t want, like being down and out, performing poorly, being jobless, or in a job we dislike. However, a valuable perspective is to see the great opportunity in these moments. They allow us to self-reflect and ask ourselves, “Who do I want to be? What matters most to me?” When life is moderately challenging, we tend not to self-reflect or strive for what we want and matters most.

So, to answer your first question, I encourage people to not view tough times as inherently bad. It’s just where you are, and we’re all on a journey. What matters is how we make the most out of it. It’s okay to be in a longer transition period. We don’t need to have everything figured out immediately. Instead, ask, “What’s the next step? What can I learn from this? What do I want, and what do I not want?” This is a healthy approach. Often, we focus solely on what we want to achieve, but it’s equally important to consider what we don’t want to achieve.

Regarding high performance and achievement, whether in sports or any field, we must also ponder if we really want to be the most famous person ever. There are challenges associated with that. It’s not about not wanting it, but being mindful of what we pursue and to what extent. Sometimes, we are blinded by the allure and shiny objects of success, particularly from a materialistic standpoint.

Dealing with Societal Narratives and Self-Reflection

Q: Nowadays, with media content being highly accessible, everyone is sharing their ideas, experiences, and journeys. The question is, how do you stay clear of all that noise? Many are vulnerable to the loudest voices online, which aren’t necessarily the right ones for them. So, how do we focus inward and ensure we’re not overly influenced by what’s being discussed online or around us?

Dr. Preston: There’s certainly no one-size-fits-all answer. But a couple of the top things I would suggest involve, first and foremost, the maturing process of becoming self-reflective and self-aware. It’s about asking, “What do I want? Not what do my parents or society want?” This leads to creating your own definition of success and carving your own path, which is crucial for mental development and career progression. As people navigate their teenage years and early twenties, the impact of social media becomes significant. With so many loud voices online, it’s easy to be swayed into thinking that these are the goals we should pursue.

One suggestion is to be mindful of how much and what type of social media you consume, as it can be toxic, though also funny, entertaining, and educational. It’s addictive by design, and there are many documentaries on this topic. It’s important to learn how to filter your consumption, ensuring it doesn’t dominate your thoughts and beliefs. I spoke with an Olympic-level athlete who felt overwhelmed by everyone’s celebratory posts for 2023, which led her to doubt her own achievements. However, it’s vital to remember that behind those posts are struggles and failures. I reflected this in a recent blog post, where I discussed the challenges I faced while writing a book.

Another aspect is developing your own voice. This often starts with valuing your opinion over others’, such as your parents’. Achieving this typically involves solitude, self-reflection, or discussions with a third party. Journaling or what I often call ‘slowing down to speed up’ is crucial. Our society is fast-paced, and we’re often focused on pleasing others and chasing success. It’s essential to slow down, reflect on our values, what brings us joy and meaning, and make choices based on what is meaningful to us, not because someone else deems it successful or cool.

This advice is particularly relevant for teenagers and those in their twenties, who are going through significant formative years. However, it applies to all ages. Being self-reflective is valuable whether you’re in your 40s, 50s, or beyond. So, in a roundabout way, that’s my take on your question. It’s definitely a good one.

The Multi-Hyphenate's Path to Greatness

Q: Now, regarding multi-hyphenates, this has become a legitimate career path. You can be a film director, a singer, and a screenplay writer all at once but as someone who works with elite performers and focuses on this area, do you believe one can achieve true greatness as a multi-hyphenate?

Dr. Preston: Yes, would be the short answer, but I would caution against trying to be great at everything at once. That’s a recipe for disaster. Pick one thing, work on it, get good at it, then move on to the next. You can add to that, and it can support it. Like, take someone who’s great at piano and singing. They’re related but different skills, and they support each other. You’ve got a good tandem where you can play piano and sing. It works well together.

Then there are things that don’t always work well together. Take myself, for example. I’m not a good piano player, but I practice playing piano, sometimes with my young daughters. I do it because it’s nice to work on something I’m a novice at, and it’s very different, using a different part of my brain. It gets me out of my comfort zone, and I enjoy it. I enjoy trying to tap into the musical side, which is quite novice-level for me. I didn’t grow up playing a lot of piano or any musical training. So, my point is, yes, I think it’s healthy to be good at multiple things. It’s about evolving in your pursuits and skills. There’s a constant evolution that’s quite healthy for us all to go through.

Overcoming Adversity

Q: For you to be able to say, ‘I’m going to do all of these things and be good at all of them’ depends on your experiences up to that point but if someone has been beaten down by life, if they’ve had terrible experiences and reached their idea of rock bottom, how do they make decisions that serve them?

Dr. Preston: It’s about choosing what you want to grow at, what you want to learn. I love intrinsic motivation, something our society doesn’t overly understand or talk a lot about. We often talk about extrinsic motivation, which is limited and can be quite toxic or unhealthy. When you’re at rock bottom, struggling, you get this great opportunity to self-reflect. What matters to me? What are the experiences I like? Who are the people I like to be around? What kind of impact, contribution, or service would be meaningful for me? You don’t have to know for certain, but what are you interested in? Give yourself a week, two weeks to explore. It’s more of an exploratory phase, rather than a rushed decision to figure out your goals.

I’ll use myself as an example. I wanted to play in the NHL, so I pursued sports psychology in university. But after taking Psych 101, I didn’t like it. I was interested in business, so I switched to micro and macroeconomics the next year, which also didn’t quite fit me. In my third year, I switched to kinesiology, which included sports psychology. Even then, I considered becoming a medical doctor before realizing it wasn’t for me. Throughout, I didn’t have certainty but had an inkling to get into the mental performance space and be self-employed. My life involved a lot of exploring, learning different things, and trying things out. Life is an experience where you play and create, trying things out and getting on the field of play, taking action, not waiting for the best or perfect idea. Life is messy, and that’s what I’m getting at with this answer.

Passion vs Expertise

Q: A lot of people today want to do what they love, but that doesn’t always work out. Do you think if you’re truly good at something, it could become something you love?

Dr. Preston: Yes, for sure. There’s a bit of a chicken-or-the-egg problem, like, “I love it because I’m good at it,” or “If you love something, you might become good at it.” But I wouldn’t overemphasize one over the other. It’s not just about doing whatever you’re good at or ignoring your skills and doing what you love. You can cultivate both. You can love something and be good at it, but still maybe not make a living. It’s about being strategic and learning other skills. For example, you can be a great coach, but if you can’t market yourself, then it might not matter as much.

I want to backpedal a bit on the importance of action. Some people don’t understand when I talk about mindset. They say, “Just be confident, take action,” but mindset is about 80 to 90 percent action. The remaining 10 to 20 percent is where people get tethered thoughts and feelings, getting in their own head, which makes taking action hard. A lot of my job is helping people untangle their thoughts and emotions, getting clear on who they want to be so they can pursue what they want.

Is it an easy process? Not necessarily. For some, it can get pretty tangled, but it doesn’t have to be super hard either. Having someone who knows what they’re doing can help. But we can’t just untangle stuff and not take action. We have to do something. Take a sales example: someone unsure about their offer needs to just message people, telling themselves they have something to offer. This helps untangle their mindset. Action reinforces the mindset you want, but sometimes you need a little untangling, and a third party can help with that.

I’m not clinically trained to treat or diagnose depression and mental illness, but I can talk about mindset and mental wellbeing. That 10 to 20 percent is a unique way of looking at it, giving credit to action but highlighting that if this gets tangled, it can all fall apart for some people. And a lot of people seem to relate to that.

Ambition, Introspection, and Self-Accountability

Q: A coach can be an incredible asset, but if someone can’t afford a coach, which is a lot of people’s reality, where would you place accountability in that case? And what would that accountability look like? In a scenario like that, how do you hold yourself accountable? And what, what would that accountability even look like?

Dr. Preston: The way I’d tackle that is by first building trust with yourself. Whether you can lean on and share with someone, that’s helpful, but if not, we always have ourselves. Writing things out is one option and it’s so important.

You can untangle your stuff by just brain dumping and journaling for half an hour straight. Research shows that will help you process and deal with your worries and thoughts, separating and untangling as you write, versus spinning in your own head.

I got this from someone online: For a simple math problem like two plus three equals five. You don’t need to write that down. But for a complex problem, like 2,472 plus 765, you’d write it down, but you won’t write out your thoughts and feelings that are in your head and process them?

For accountability, process through reflection. Learn online.If you’re having a hard time and you’re wanting to untangle, get off social media, for the most part, don’t go and look at what everyone else is doing and be aware of what’s making you not feel good. Ask yourself if you’re making unhealthy comparisons or ingesting junk into your mind which is going to lead to a great output. Just like when you don’t eat good food or exercise, you don’t feel good. Input dictates output. And so it’s the same with your mind.

Then some things to start doing, surround yourself with inspiring people or listen to educational podcasts. Write it out or have a sounding partner, a true friend that actually listens.

What I do isn’t rocket science. It’s not a big, complicated math problem that I’m solving. It’s about getting acutely attuned to being able to listen and be a sounding board and even a mirror to reflect back to people their blind spots or help them look at something differently.

And then coming back to part about accountability, the way I like to look at self accountability is as an important and crucial skill. Lean on others for accountability. I go to a gym where I work out with others because I don’t want to be the one who doesn’t finish the workout.

There’s a lot of good research and studies done about having an accountability partner that you check in with once a week. What are the things you said you’re going to do? Then did you do them? It’s just very simple and helpful, if you can find someone like that.

During my PhD, one of my lab mates, Lauren and I would meet up every Monday and ask each other, how was last week? What’s going on this week?

Now, I have a team and they have their jobs but they keep me accountable. Having other people is helpful, but you can do this just with yourself by following some good principles. Be cautious about overcommitting, meaning start small and build on it.

Do exactly what you said you’d do, rather than over-promising and under-delivering. Don’t be like, Oh, I’m going to do X, Y, Z, and then you only do half of it. I would rather you do actually a little bit less but you do exactly what you said you were going to do. And so if you got four tasks done this week and you said you were going to do four versus you got five, but you said you were going to do 10. It is way better to be the person that did less.

That person that will have a way more sustainable career and have a longer impact in the longterm. The person that’s doing five out of their 10 is going to be going crazy with themselves and stressed out. They’re not going to be productive in the longterm. Eventually they’re like, Oh, what’s the point of having a list and they burn out and all kinds of problems can come from that. This rule of thumb applies whether you’re doing it alone or with others. It’s about building trust with yourself, which might be the most valuable thing you can do. Avoid burning out by not overcommitting and stressing yourself. This way, you can be more strategic, creative, and gradually increase your capacity.

Pick one thing, as suggested in the book “Essentialism.” The idea is to pick one priority. A lot of my book is about making mindset your top priority. That’s why it’s mindset first. What is the main thing versus no, no, all three of these things matter this week. No, what’s the one that’s the most important and don’t drop the ball on that one thing, and we simplify down it to less and less and less, then we’re not scrambling and chasing.

That’s what a lot of entrepreneurship is about. That’s what a lot of life is about. We’re chasing all these things. Stop chasing something. What is the one that matters most? Pick that thing, and pick something reasonable. Go and do that thing, then do a little bit more.

Keep going after it. Get that piece of life or piece of your career or whatever you want to work on in place. And then go work on another project or task or other area and so forth.

What are you doing? You’re building trust with yourself and that might be the most valuable thing you can do. A lot of people are just killing their trust with themselves because they don’t do what they say they’re going to do. And other people may not know it, but they know.

I’m going to work out tomorrow. It didn’t work out. I’m going to do this and then they don’t do it, and I’m human. I’m not going to sit here and pretend to be David Goggins and nothing against David Goggins, but he’s got definitely this persona. This guy doesn’t sleep or I don’t know but, it’s not like I’ve always not done what I said I’m going to do. I got young kids and when you got young kids, it’s hard to do what you say you’re going to do all the time. Things come up and that’s life. So we want to be adaptable and flexible within that, but generally speaking, be very careful and be very mindful of what you commit to, and really value your own word to yourself, let alone to others. That’s a great way to then be accountable to yourself and build momentum.

Krati: I could have really used this advice when I was building my career, especially when I started doing my own thing. This was so amazing. Thank you so much for all that advice because keeping your promise to yourself is so huge. I would look at someone like David Goggins or others in that league and want to be ambitious every day of the month, but I wouldn’t achieve it on day one.

You set these impossible goals for yourself and then don’t achieve them on day two, day three. I would write articles for publications, and the article would take a lot longer than I thought it would, which means none of my other goals were getting done. You let yourself off the hook on day one because what else can you do? You can’t get that time back. Then the next day, you make the same mistake. You let yourself off the hook again. By the third and fourth day, you get so used to not achieving what you say you’re going to achieve, and it starts to shift your self-perception. You start believing that you’re not very capable.

So, now my calendar says to do something ambitious, just two days a month. That’s it. Something ambitious, overly ambitious, and very focused. Just two days a month, I have to do something that makes me uncomfortable and is overly ambitious. That’s it. That kind of guidance would have been invaluable when I was building up my business. At that time, you’re really in the trenches, juggling so many balls, not yet knowing what you’re good at, what you have to outsource. This is why a coach is so important.

Q: A coach can be an incredible asset, but if someone can’t afford a coach, which is a lot of people’s reality, where would you place accountability in that case? And what would that accountability look like? In a scenario like that, how do you hold yourself accountable? And what, what would that accountability even look like?

Dr. Preston: The way I’d tackle that is by first building trust with yourself. Whether you can lean on and share with someone, that’s helpful, but if not, we always have ourselves. Writing things out is one option and it’s so important.

You can untangle your stuff by just brain dumping and journaling for half an hour straight. Research shows that will help you process and deal with your worries and thoughts, separating and untangling as you write, versus spinning in your own head.

I got this from someone online: For a simple math problem like two plus three equals five. You don’t need to write that down. But for a complex problem, like 2,472 plus 765, you’d write it down, but you won’t write out your thoughts and feelings that are in your head and process them?

For accountability, process through reflection. Learn online.If you’re having a hard time and you’re wanting to untangle, get off social media, for the most part, don’t go and look at what everyone else is doing and be aware of what’s making you not feel good. Ask yourself if you’re making unhealthy comparisons or ingesting junk into your mind which is going to lead to a great output. Just like when you don’t eat good food or exercise, you don’t feel good. Input dictates output. And so it’s the same with your mind.

Then some things to start doing, surround yourself with inspiring people or listen to educational podcasts. Write it out or have a sounding partner, a true friend that actually listens.

What I do isn’t rocket science. It’s not a big, complicated math problem that I’m solving. It’s about getting acutely attuned to being able to listen and be a sounding board and even a mirror to reflect back to people their blind spots or help them look at something differently.

And then coming back to part about accountability, the way I like to look at self accountability is as an important and crucial skill. Lean on others for accountability. I go to a gym where I work out with others because I don’t want to be the one who doesn’t finish the workout.

There’s a lot of good research and studies done about having an accountability partner that you check in with once a week. What are the things you said you’re going to do? Then did you do them? It’s just very simple and helpful, if you can find someone like that.

During my PhD, one of my lab mates, Lauren and I would meet up every Monday and ask each other, how was last week? What’s going on this week?

Now, I have a team and they have their jobs but they keep me accountable. Having other people is helpful, but you can do this just with yourself by following some good principles. Be cautious about overcommitting, meaning start small and build on it.

Do exactly what you said you’d do, rather than over-promising and under-delivering. Don’t be like, Oh, I’m going to do X, Y, Z, and then you only do half of it. I would rather you do actually a little bit less but you do exactly what you said you were going to do. And so if you got four tasks done this week and you said you were going to do four versus you got five, but you said you were going to do 10. It is way better to be the person that did less.

That person that will have a way more sustainable career and have a longer impact in the longterm. The person that’s doing five out of their 10 is going to be going crazy with themselves and stressed out. They’re not going to be productive in the longterm. Eventually they’re like, Oh, what’s the point of having a list and they burn out and all kinds of problems can come from that. This rule of thumb applies whether you’re doing it alone or with others. It’s about building trust with yourself, which might be the most valuable thing you can do. Avoid burning out by not overcommitting and stressing yourself. This way, you can be more strategic, creative, and gradually increase your capacity.

Pick one thing, as suggested in the book “Essentialism.” The idea is to pick one priority. A lot of my book is about making mindset your top priority. That’s why it’s mindset first. What is the main thing versus no, no, all three of these things matter this week. No, what’s the one that’s the most important and don’t drop the ball on that one thing, and we simplify down it to less and less and less, then we’re not scrambling and chasing.

That’s what a lot of entrepreneurship is about. That’s what a lot of life is about. We’re chasing all these things. Stop chasing something. What is the one that matters most? Pick that thing, and pick something reasonable. Go and do that thing, then do a little bit more.

Keep going after it. Get that piece of life or piece of your career or whatever you want to work on in place. And then go work on another project or task or other area and so forth.

What are you doing? You’re building trust with yourself and that might be the most valuable thing you can do. A lot of people are just killing their trust with themselves because they don’t do what they say they’re going to do. And other people may not know it, but they know.

I’m going to work out tomorrow. It didn’t work out. I’m going to do this and then they don’t do it, and I’m human. I’m not going to sit here and pretend to be David Goggins and nothing against David Goggins, but he’s got definitely this persona. This guy doesn’t sleep or I don’t know but, it’s not like I’ve always not done what I said I’m going to do. I got young kids and when you got young kids, it’s hard to do what you say you’re going to do all the time. Things come up and that’s life. So we want to be adaptable and flexible within that, but generally speaking, be very careful and be very mindful of what you commit to, and really value your own word to yourself, let alone to others. That’s a great way to then be accountable to yourself and build momentum.

Krati: I could have really used this advice when I was building my career, especially when I started doing my own thing. This was so amazing. Thank you so much for all that advice because keeping your promise to yourself is so huge. I would look at someone like David Goggins or others in that league and want to be ambitious every day of the month, but I wouldn’t achieve it on day one.

You set these impossible goals for yourself and then don’t achieve them on day two, day three. I would write articles for publications, and the article would take a lot longer than I thought it would, which means none of my other goals were getting done. You let yourself off the hook on day one because what else can you do? You can’t get that time back. Then the next day, you make the same mistake. You let yourself off the hook again. By the third and fourth day, you get so used to not achieving what you say you’re going to achieve, and it starts to shift your self-perception. You start believing that you’re not very capable.

So, now my calendar says to do something ambitious, just two days a month. That’s it. Something ambitious, overly ambitious, and very focused. Just two days a month, I have to do something that makes me uncomfortable and is overly ambitious. That’s it. That kind of guidance would have been invaluable when I was building up my business. At that time, you’re really in the trenches, juggling so many balls, not yet knowing what you’re good at, what you have to outsource. This is why a coach is so important.

non-negotiables for elite performance + Mastering discipline

Q: What would you say are the non-negotiables for elite performance?

Dr. Preston: The way we look at it, there are these fundamental building blocks for high performers, especially in the moment. One of them, as we were just discussing, is confidence or trusting yourself and owning your capabilities, which is a cornerstone most people understand.

A lot of people struggle with what we just alluded to, and there are other reasons for that. They tie their self-worth, their self-image, to external results instead of to the work they’ve done. So when results are up, they feel great. When results are down, they feel terrible. They worry too much about what other people think. There’s a lot that goes into that corner block. The other big one for me (on the other side of the spectrum) is focusing on the process. How well can you get dialed in? There’s no noise, no worrying distractions about the results, and you’re just focused on the task at hand and your process, and immersed.

Those are two big ones. The other two fundamentals we talk about are resilience and composure. Composure is about your ability to stay calm, composed, and relaxed under pressure, to stay centered and not swing between highs and lows, elation and deflation. Resilience is about dealing with adversity. If you want to be a high performer, there will be challenges and adversity, and your ability to be resilient, persistent, adaptable, flexible, and work through challenges is crucial. They’re all interrelated.

You can’t have great confidence and then be terrible at one of the other aspects; they’re all connected. When working with someone, we identify the area they can improve the most, and then we give them principles and strategies to focus on that, which helps the others as well.

After that base level, being a high performer involves discipline, the ability to be coachable, and doing the work. Another aspect is your ability to be centered and have a healthy life, especially when becoming a high performer or in business and working all the time. Then the rest of your life becomes chaotic, and that can seep in and cause stress, and vice versa. Do you bring the stress of your sport, career, or main focus to other areas of your life? There’s an ability to be grounded and centered in life.

I call this the second tier: elite habits. The top tier is being a leader, your ability to influence and inspire others, whether they’re employees, followers, teammates, etc. Can you have a positive impact on others? When you do the fundamental pieces, you’re automatically going to be a better leader because you’re in a more grounded, centered, confident state. But there are other traits, characteristics, and skills involved in interacting with others.

So, that would be the seven mental skills pyramid that we use.

Krati: The qualities that you mentioned, especially relating to your character, like resilience and staying grounded, they are qualities that I think are game changers. Have you ever met a performer or someone you coached who had these from the get go, who had these qualities from the very start of their journey?

Dr. Preston: I would generally say no, for a couple of reasons. Kids are born pretty resilient, but they’re not necessarily born managing their emotions, and they’re carving and creating their capabilities. Then, as you earn more capabilities, you have to keep owning it. It’s a never-ending thing that we all do. Your ability to focus on the process, for example, and be engaged in it is crucial. The problem with a lot of these is our society literally teaches us the opposite. We get taught to tie our confidence to external things, to whine and complain instead of being resilient, or to get phased and rattled. We get taught to get nervous and worried about what everyone thinks instead of being calm, composed, grounded, and centered. We get taught that society pushes results and worries about that as what success is, instead of focusing on who you are being, your process, and your definition of success.

Generally, as a society, I would say we are struggling with these because of the way a lot of things are set up and the norms that are currently set. Now, there are a lot of people doing relatively well, and some parents or coaches guide and help people develop these traits better. Some people learn them naturally or figure it out along the way, leaning into certain things where they heard somebody say something. I use an example of a pro basketball player who came from nothing, really from the streets more or less. He had a really good mental game, thinking, “I’m getting out of here,” worked hard, and climbed the ranks in basketball, making a really good living now. And then, suddenly he’s worried about losing his contract and other things.

It’s a constant work in progress on all these aspects. Even as someone who teaches this and coaches people on it every day, I haven’t mastered it completely. I still focus on the results, get nervous or worried, or doubt myself. But then it’s about using the skills and strategies or knowing who to lean on to keep moving forward.

So, that was a long answer for a simple question, but the answer is no, no one is naturally everything super high, and it’s subjective too.

Krati: Yes, I agree with you. I often feel like when I listen to young kids talking, especially online or even at a social event, things are still different in India compared to the US. Here, students are either not interested in their studies or very laser-focused because family dynamics are different. However, I get a lot of American clients, and what they tell me often sounds very self-indulgent. You can’t tell them that everything they’re complaining about is part of being an adult. If you say that, people get defensive, and there are many who will support them in this narrative, keeping them in a victim mindset.

They prop them up, telling them, “Oh no, you’re doing the right thing. Yes, we shouldn’t have to work more than four hours a day. We should get the weekend off. We should also get this amazing pay package.” And I think, this is so strange. Thank you for saying what you’ve said; it doesn’t get said enough. But we do need to remind everyone that if you want all of these things, you have to put in the work. And yes, you have to cultivate these qualities.

Q: How important it is to prioritize discipline on a daily basis. Where would you place a routine, like a proper routine, to get that performance out of yourself? How high would you prioritize that?

Dr. Preston: Quite high. If you do the foundational pieces, it will probably help with the discipline. Just to piggyback on what you were saying about the self-indulgent or a common word is entitlement, right? Like they’re entitled to this. I do like to call people out. I do it softly because if you do it too hard, it’d be too offensive. But I don’t necessarily do it on the first day I meet somebody. What I like to do is ask them to, imagine you’re in your sport or on a workday and there’s just a little bit of entitlement. Of course, we’ve all been there to some degree. Maybe not all of us, but a lot of people have that feeling at some point. But if you’re holding onto that entitlement, it can ruin a lot of things and throw off your mindset.

I try to prime people to self-reflect, to be like, “Yeah, maybe I’m getting a little entitled at times.” Even if we, as outsiders, might think it’s a lot, from a coaching standpoint, I say it’s a little bit. Because if I can get them to admit and self-reflect, even just a little bit, there’s no bit that’s enough. We don’t want any bit of entitlement because it can ruin everything. It’s like a weed that spreads once it’s there. So we want to get rid of it.

Well, I shouldn’t have to do all the extra work. I shouldn’t have to wake up and do this and, you know, commit to my routing. What? What do you mean you shouldn’t have to? You don’t get to be healthy without doing exercise and eating well. You don’t get to become a medical doctor if someone just gives you a degree, you’ve got to study and do the work.

You earn these things, you’re not entitled to them. It takes discipline to earn things and to progress in your life.

One way I look at it, for myself and others, is learning to enjoy doing hard things. Everything’s so easy now with technology, Netflix, ordering food online. We get comfortable doing easy things and not getting challenged. But if you show me someone whose life is easy all the time, I’ll show you someone whose life is going to get hard and they’re not going to like it. Like being a drug addict. It’s easy to pick drugs, but their life’s going to get hard or it’s easy to not exercise, but then your life’s gonna get hard real quick and unhealthy with different challenges. It doesn’t mean we have to be David Goggins. He has his thing and I don’t know if that’s for everyone, but what I am encouraging is learning to change the narratives in our head to be like, “No, I like hard things, not all hard things, not all the time, but I’m not afraid.”

Like you said, do two ambitious things a month. That’s great! Right. A lot of people don’t do that. I would even encourage to do some little things each day. Like for me to get up a little bit earlier and go to the gym, it’s a bit hard and challenging, but I’m like, no, I like that. I want to learn to do the hard thing because on the other side is the result which is that my life gets easier because I did the hard thing. Or choose easy things and life gets harder.

But we want to change the narrative because a lot of people’s narratives is, avoid hard things. Hard things are bad like it’s funny that athletics, let me give this example. Not everyone’s probably an athlete listening, but when we can work with athletes, and especially up and coming athletes and they’re like, ah, I have to go work out on, oh, such a hard workout.

I’m like, you don’t become a good athlete if you don’t do hard workouts. If you don’t love training and just pushing your body to exhaustion, you’re not going to be very good. How are you going to have the sustainable energy for that? So now the average adult, not in sport, doesn’t need to love working their body to exhaustion like David Goggins. You don’t have to become a six-pack athlete or never eat. But we can push our comfort zone a bit. Maybe a couple of times a month, do something really hard or a new project. Like me playing piano, it pushes my comfort zone, and I’m failing miserably, but it’s intriguing.

A lot of this comes from growth mindset literature. We have to learn to embrace failure, to go through it. It’s not a bad thing and it can help us grow. Most people don’t live that and it’s like, Oh yeah, I get that but then when it comes to a failure, like nope, avoid! Hard things? Nope. Avoid! It’s like, no, no, we got to learn to go through it, go do it.

Definitely do this daily!

Dr. Preston: Find routines that work for you. On the practical side, start and end your days well. Start your day with something meaningful. Do not hit the snooze button. That is a terrible way to start your day. A lot of people do it really easily. It’s not inherently bad, but just think about what we’re saying to ourselves when we do that; Uh, I’m not ready. I’m not excited for life. If you want more sleep and you can get more sleep, then don’t set your alarm. It actually makes you feel more tired.

It’s like, oh, I wanted to get up at, uh, I need to get up at seven 30, but I set my alarm for 7:15 to see, and then I almost always hit my snooze and I got up at 7:30. Just set your alarm for 7:30 and get up the first time. Think about the psychology of hitting the snooze button. It’s also not helping your body to hit the snooze.

Set your alarm for the actual time you need to get up. So start your day with something that’s meaningful, whether it’s physical activity, whether it’s mindfulness and meditation, whether it’s setting your intention, create a morning routine that serves you. There’s tons of different variations and options, but I think that’s an important discipline habit because it’s like set the tone.

And again, do the hard things first. Do the meaningful things. First is even probably more important. Like if you can start your day and you like writing blogs or creating content and you do that first thing, you’re jumping out of your bed. You’re an artist or you’re a musician or you’re an athlete that wants to go on this, or you’re a business person wants to create, you know, strategy. Do that thing first. Now you don’t always have to do it right away. I like to go to the gym sometimes cause I want to get that out of the way. If I have to go later in the day, I’m less likely to go. So, I think that’s important, bookending your days.

At the end of the day, unwind properly. There’s a sleep crisis; people are sleep-deprived. Poor sleep affects everything, your physical, mental health, and your performance. And people do not unwind. They’re on social media or Netflix. They don’t get to the bed on time. They don’t have good sleep hygiene. They have poor sleep. Everything is affected. Just imagine getting four hours of sleep all week. And for five straight days, how resilient will you be? How disciplined will be? Sleep is so valuable for our mental and physical wellbeing.

But then it’s also this time to reflect on the day, own your wins, prepare for the next day. Ask yourself what went well, what could I work on, and how did I grow? Bookending your days will tee up discipline throughout your day. That was a long rant; you got me going today!

Krati: I think creative people have done this where they are completely dismissive of discipline and daily routines. According to them, it restricts their creativity. It, you know, creativity is about inspiration, but then you hear great authors, you listen to them talk about their process and they’ll tell you no, these hours are assigned only to writing, no computer, no internet, no nothing, just writing. But then again, we have this strong aversion to doing tough things that we spin this narrative for our benefit where we are like, no, but my inspiration, I must chase my inspiration and it doesn’t help.

And I think, again, as you said, you know, these things, they don’t get said enough. And it’s not easy to even talk about it when everyone else is going down a different path and they are giving validation to these ideas that sound pleasant, but ultimately create terrible results and make it harder for you to up your performance.

And I think David Goggins, is simply a good example of human capacity, like this is also possible. It’s not necessarily for everyone. I think he has his own  agenda.

Dr. Preston: We don’t all run marathons every day. I love where you’re going, and one of the things I’m so passionate about, what I really stand for in a lot of ways, is how much of what gets said or people will say is fluffy, cookie-cutter advice. It’s superficial, right? It’s quick fixes. What I don’t like, and this happens online, is people like these motivational videos where it’s like, “You just got to want it more than you want to breathe.” And that’s people not understanding the untangle part. It’s just, “Take action, just be motivated, just be calm.” It’s ridiculous advice that often does more harm than is helpful. It’s not well thought out. It’s people not taking a critical lens and just saying stuff to say stuff. It looks flashy, it’s entertaining, it sounds great, but it’s a joke. It’s a pink unicorn that does not exist. That is not how the real world works.

The highest performers don’t live in this fairy tailed fantasy that it’s like, go, go, go. I’m awesome, positive all the time. That’s not what it’s about. True high performance is about momentum. When we’re talking about discipline and momentum, and owning your capabilities, you do what you say you’re going to do. You learn to own the work you put in. You’re changing the narrative, and it creates this momentum. Think about discipline, often the hardest part is getting started. It’s friction. Once you get the object moving, it keeps rolling, but getting it moving is the hardest part. Then you have to keep it moving and keep the discipline. It’s not one and done.

Life is about momentum, creating self-momentum by owning your wins, creating discipline, untangling narratives, not by doing fluffy, cookie-cutter, super positive stuff. I’m not against any of that; there’s a time and place for it. Sometimes there’s like, “Hey, we’ve untangled enough,” and I tell people, “Okay, go all in. Be fully committed.” Sometimes people need that rah-rah, but it’s over popularized. You’re not going to see me making videos online just doing rah-rah. It doesn’t do justice to what momentum is really about, understanding our thoughts and feelings in alignment with that, and our behaviors. It oversimplifies it, just like the ‘be positive’ notion. It’s ridiculous. There’s a time and place to be encouraging, but positive psychology never says just be positive all the time. It’s about being centered, grounded, neutral, as Trevor Molad, who unfortunately passed away, popularized. You got me going. I wanted to share that because, when we’re talking about discipline and these topics, that’s why I think it’s meaningful and good reflection for a lot of people.

Be relentless in the absence of results

Q: When the results don’t show up, then you have this choice where you can quit, you can back off, or you can go back to your old ways. How do you maintain your self belief in the absence of results and continue to put in the work?

Dr. Preston: Yes, so it definitely depends on the situation versus saying, “Well, just keep moving forward.” There is a time and a place to adapt. We want to learn, but sometimes it’s like, “Well, maybe I’m barking up the wrong tree here.” We want to treat and encourage relentlessness, resilience, and persistence, and be mindful of the importance of adaptability, acceptance, and self-compassion.

Now with that said, if it’s something you want, something you’re driven for, a couple of ways I like to look at it is it’s not a matter of if, it’s just a matter of when. If we change that narrative, we’re like, “Am I going to do it? I don’t know when I’m going to do it, but I’m going to keep working and find a way.” And then maybe at some point, I’ll reevaluate and be like, “You know what? No, I think I’ve tried enough.” It goes back to my first point about being adaptable, making adjustments as long as you’re learning. And as you’re doing it, you want to think strategically, practically, and be grounded. Keep learning.

I really love the framing of unfazed relentlessness, because some people are relentless, like “I’m going to keep going,” but they are rattled, frustrated, deflated. I encourage athletes and high performers to be like the Terminator. You take shots and it doesn’t matter, you just keep moving forward toward your goal, your project, who you want to be, and the life you want. It’s where some people might be unfazed and then become ambivalent, but then they don’t keep being relentless and they relent and give up. I really like that narrative and learning to embrace that.

A lot of this comes with that acceptance commitment I was alluding to earlier, where we accept the situation for what it is. We accept that there are adversities or hard things as part of the process, and we embrace it. Once we own it, we can commit to who we want to be and commit to moving forward. That’s what unfazed acceptance and relentlessness commitment would then look like. Acceptance commitment is the more practical principles around thinking and your mindset. What it looks like and feels like is unfazed relentlessness.

So, that would be the quick answer, trying not to give a one-size-fits-all. As we were alluding to, I think being personalized in your approach is important. That’s why one-on-one coaching, when it’s capable, or having sounding boards, is valuable. Everyone’s story is unique, and you want to create strategies, narratives, and a life, and carve your own path that fits and feels optimal for you. It is good to give some narratives and options and get people to reflect. That’s valuable. Then some people run with that, and some people might want more and click later.

Confidence myths and what truly works

Q: If somebody wanted to recognize whether they have the confidence to do something or not, what are the qualities that you would ask them to look for in their own interactions, in their own self or behaviour that is typical to a confident person?

Dr. Preston: What I like to do with confidence is I like to blow it up. I don’t like the word. I use it, everybody uses it, it matters, it’s a thing, but the word is so tainted, right? The word in our society generally is associated with achievement and external things and getting praise. So then when you achieve things and when you get praise, you feel confident and it becomes this fleeting thing that comes and goes. But what if I don’t do it? Or I’m not feeling so great? What’s true confidence? If we let go of that tainted definition, true confidence is about owning your capabilities. That’s it. That’s what I like to use. And when I get high performers, I tell them to stop using that word and just focus on your capabilities. What are you capable of, based on the work you put in?

Now, some high performers still struggle to own their capabilities because they have a narrative like, “Oh, I’m so hard on myself. I don’t know if I’m capable.” But now it’s a more tangible thing to work on. “Are you owning your capabilities right now?” “No, I’m not.” “Okay, well, why not? What’s the excuse? What are your capabilities? Let’s make the choice to own it.” There’s just so much baggage around the word confidence. So I generally like to throw it out for the most part. It still gets used in different ways, but it’s become a tainted word for a lot of people.

The other thing that I dive into a lot, and this is in chapter two in the book, we call it “how to never have a confidence problem again.” You won’t have a confidence problem if you stop using the word. That’s a bit of cheating, but the other part is to change the narrative. “Who said you have a confidence problem? You’re saying it about yourself, right? Or who says you’re too hard on yourself? Who says you beat yourself up all the time?” Because as soon as you identify with that, “I am somebody that struggles with confidence. I am somebody that’s too hard on myself,” then you’re going to keep struggling with those things. We want to change the narrative. Maybe in the past, you’ve been somebody who at times didn’t always own your capabilities. Maybe in the past, you’ve been somebody who doesn’t really own your greatness or trust yourself or beats yourself up a bit. Those traits will hold you back. When you do that, they aren’t going to help you take the risk or go after what you want or trust yourself. But we want to change the narrative from “I am this” to “Yeah, maybe I’ve done that in the past at times.” Then we create a narrative and identity and choose how we are going to show up now.

If I’m going after this, how am I going to do it? I’ll use myself as the most recent example. When I launched my new website and the book came out, I got new websites. I’ve been doing all this other work. There was this, and I was like, “Ooh, this is because I’m used to it.” It’s been a while running the business CP mindset, and I’m more or less the business, but it’s a business, not just all about me. Then I launched this, it’s all about me. Not in a bad way, but it’s my personal website, coach author speaker. I was like, “Damn, I’m like, what are people going to think?” I’m starting to doubt myself, “Should I have this website?” It wasn’t a ton of noise, obviously, but there was noise. I’m human. And I had this, “Oh, I’m just putting myself out there.” I use the analogy, “I’m an artist and I’ve mostly been selling art one to one and all of a sudden I’ve got this book and now, and I’ve been creating this, like a bunch of artwork and I’m going to put this gallery on and now this gallery is just open for the world.” I was like, “Oh, damn. This is good. This feels different.”

So, the narrative then, and talking to Todd and leaning on one of my coaches, Nick, and just making sure, “Let me own the, like, I know what I know. I don’t know everything, but I know what I’m good at. And I know the work that we do. And I know the system we have and my ability to speak. And I know that the book is not just some random stuff. This is 20 plus years of research, my own experiences, and working with clients. It’s not just like, it’s like, no, no. So I can own it. Not everyone’s going to like it. Can’t make everyone like you all the time, but I can own it and don’t dare downplay myself.” And so I’m not trying to inflate myself because that’s being arrogant or pretending something I’m not. But I’m not going to downplay myself and make sure I own it. So being aware of that inner narrative and sometimes we can use an identity exercise within that. That’s the alter ego stuff. My mentor, Todd Herman, really helped me and he wrote the whole book, “The Alter Ego Effect.” Highly encouraged. It’s very powerful work to not only change the narrative around all, “I’m someone who struggles with confidence,” to learning to own it and changing the narrative, “No, this is now who I choose to be. I’m choosing to be someone that owns those traits. I’m choosing to be somebody that’s going to show up like this and now I’m going to be perfect at it. Like, no, you’re being intentional about it and you’re creating your story. You’re writing the next page versus like, well, I don’t know. I’m somebody that’s like so.” And then we, it’s easy to fall down and go down that rabbit hole.

So, yeah, that’s how I like to debunk or challenge people to think differently about confidence in and of itself.

Revolutionising self-talk

Q: You said something about not yelling at people; that’s not your approach. But I do want to ask about holding yourself accountable with criticism, like there are people who have said, “I would call myself dumb. What a dumb thing to do. You behaved like a loser today. Do better tomorrow.” How, for someone who doesn’t have a coach, what advice would you give to them when they’re talking to themselves? How can they motivate themselves?

Dr. Preston: So, I wouldn’t encourage talking to yourself too much that way. It’s common. I do it, I’ve done it, but you have to be careful. When we say these negative things out loud or even just in our own head, we’re perpetuating the self-image. There’s good research around this as well, like compassion versus confidence. It’s better to have self-compassion, a more sustainable and important trait than just confidence. Compassion is going to help you own your capabilities consistently. It’s like, “Yeah, no, I made a mistake, but I’m still capable.” That takes self-compassion.

In terms of yelling at yourself, motivating yourself, generally, beating people down is not a good approach, whether it’s to yourself or to others. A lot of people are great at coaching other people but terrible at coaching themselves. Part of this is largely because, as humans, we’re designed to avoid dying. Like, don’t screw up, don’t make mistakes, or else you die. You live in the jungle, you get kicked out of the tribe, the primal way we were designed. That part of our brain keeps us alive. It helps us avoid going down dark alleyways. That’s not a bad part of your brain; it’s actually healthy and helpful, and you can’t get rid of it. But generally, a lot of our life isn’t in that state. We’re in a society where it’s mostly about thriving, making an impact, growing, persevering, and moving forward, not about not screwing up and dying.

So we want to learn to work on how we talk to ourselves. Bookend your day, write down your wins. Every day is an opportunity to build momentum. Sure, there are days when I want no momentum, and I’m watching Netflix, or doing whatever, I’m shutting down. But every day you’re building momentum with yourself and life, for the most part. Own those wins at the end of the day, end of the week, end of the month. Write them down. It’s like stacking your chips, as Todd uses as an analogy, or what one of my coaches, Sarah, calls the confidence bank. Every day, make a deposit. You made money, you did things, deposit it into your confidence bank or your capabilities bank.

Now, how do you push yourself to keep getting better? We’re naturally, most likely, especially when we’re thinking high performers, ambitious. Some people aren’t as ambitious, and that’s perfectly fine. If everyone’s ambitious all the time, we’ll just be the crab in the bucket. Nobody’s getting anywhere. Some people like being team members and are ambitious about being the best team member they can be. Everyone’s got things that matter to them and their intrinsic values.

When it comes to the end of the day, back to your main question around how do I keep growing and learning, or how do I deal with a tough day? Have self-compassion, learn from it, be adaptable. Be stringent, detailed, strict with your self-talk. If you make a mistake, okay. If you keep making the same mistake, why do you keep doing it? Usually, we might learn. Why do we keep making a mistake over and over again? Well, it’s like, “Oh, I know I shouldn’t have the candy bar after dinner, but I keep doing it.” Or in a work setting, “I know I shouldn’t be checking emails or social media in that last hour of the day, and I should go work on that important project.” But it’s like, “Oh, but I’m just so tired.” We have a narrative usually that’s feeding that.

Create a system around how you’re going to show up differently. Who are you going to be here? How can you block things out? How can you make it easier? How can you create the environment? Let’s learn from our struggles, have compassion, and then learn from them and make strategic adjustments and self-reflect. That goes back to carving your own path. Who do you want to be?

Those are things like when we think about bookending your day, momentum on your wins, learning growth. What adjustments are you making? Sometimes, and again, that narrative of just persist, go hard, never give up, it’s not always right. Sometimes you need to change your approach. It’s not just about having more discipline, self-power, willpower, more motivation. That’s often not the problem. The problem is we need to change the environment or approach, change the narrative, be strategic, adaptable, smart, creative around the solution, not just hard work. I’m not against hard work, but it’s not the solution to everything.

Krati: That’s definitely a more nuanced and healthier approach because I feel like people who criticize themselves ruthlessly, like I’ve heard Joe Rogan say he does, are those who have a plethora of evidence to support how capable they are. They’ve done so much that when they turn on the internet or step out of their house, they are surrounded by people lifting them up, reminding them of how awesome they are. In those cases, if you talk to yourself like that, it doesn’t drown you in sorrow or grieve you to the extent where you lose your confidence. I think those people have the tendency to do that. I am so completely in my corner that I talk to myself like that, and it doesn’t. But yes, sometimes that could really start shifting your self-image, and you don’t even realize it until it’s too late. So, I love what you’ve shared. That’s a way more nuanced, healthier approach.

Advice for Ambitious Individuals

Q: Any advice you would give to people who have big goals. They’re ambitious people but are figuring their way out. Any final advice you would want to give them?

Dr. Preston: Well, the main thing I’ll say to that is when I’m looking at life and pursuing goals, finding your own path, the question is, who do you want to be? What and why do you want to be that? What’s meaningful for you versus what do you want to achieve? They’re related, meaning who you’re going to be will lead to a result and your result needs to show up in a certain way. The mistake a lot of us fall into, and this is the premise of my book, is starting with the results. I want to achieve this; I’m results-first. So therefore, I focus on what am I going to do? What are the processes or tasks and the work I’m going to put in so that I can achieve that result? Then the last thing they consider is who am I going to be? How am I going to show up? What’s my mental state, and why am I doing it? The intrinsic drivers so that I can do these things well to achieve that result. But the problem with that model is the results create stress, frustration, and distraction. They’ll weigh on you and you won’t be able to be resilient, confident, have that swagger, own your capabilities, take risks, be creative, whatever it is for your area.

So we want to flip it. It starts with why am I doing this? Who am I going to be? Is this meaningful? And do I enjoy being this, showing up, and doing this type of work? Once I start with that and get clarity on that, actions flow, and the results, well, they’re more likely to be achieved. But what’s more important is you enjoy the journey, the exploration, the pursuit, and you’re more creative. There’s a big trap where a lot of people think, “Yeah, I get it. I have to have a good mindset and do these things because it’s going to help me get better results.” But that means you’re still results-first. If you’re trying to focus on who you’re being and the mindset, how you want to show up and live so that you can achieve more things, then you’re still results-first. And if you’re results-first, there’s the weight, the stress, the variability, the frustration that comes with results, and it will hurt your mindset and mental state.

I’m a big advocate of getting people to be less results-first and more mindset-first. Prioritize who you want to be, your mental state, how you want to show up, how you want to live, why you’re doing the things you’re doing. Those are the questions, not what do I want to achieve. The achievements are usually self-explanatory and obvious. It doesn’t mean not to ask yourself that question, but from a foundational day-to-day, you have to get grounded and make the mental state, the being, the why, the main thing. When you’re connected to that and stay connected, that’s where people thrive. That’s what I’m all about.

Closing Thoughts

The podcast episode with Cassidy offers a wealth of knowledge for anyone seeking to improve their life through mindset changes, discipline, and self-reflection. His insights provide a roadmap for transforming adversity into opportunity, achieving high performance, and maintaining mental well-being in the pursuit of success.

Keep Reading

Read The Latest Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The Brain Behind The Blog

Hi! I'm Krati Mehra

Profile Photo

I know what it’s like to fall apart and gradually put your pieces back together to build something better than what you had before and I share all my lessons in this space hoping that you will share my learnings without the struggle.

Search

What is your EmoPersona Archetype?

Find out what makes you, YOU. Take the leap, embrace your strengths, understand your struggles, and start your journey to emotional mastery today. It’s not just a quiz, it’s the beginning of a personal revolution. 

POPULAR CATEGORIES

Emotional Empowerment

Unlock a new level of growth and a world of possibilities with emotional mastery. 

Personal Transformation

Everything that can help you design a life in alignment in with your goals

Relationships

Repair broken relationships and create new, healthy ones that become part of your support system

Mind and spirit

Reprogram your subconscious to let go of past trauma, build a belief system that supports your goals, & practice calming rituals.

So, Who runs this joint?

Hi! I'm Krati Mehra

As someone who has been on very friendly terms with that pesky imp called, ‘rock bottom’ – I know and understand its soul destroying tendencies and how best to learn from it so that you can leave it behind and live a life that you can be proud of even on your worst days…that’s the kind of content I share around this corner.

We talk about anything and everything that can impact your self-improvement goals, relationships, as well as mental and emotional health.

I’m an empowerment coach, podcaster, a daughter, massive superhero nerd, and a woman with a passion for transformation that translates to enduring  health, happiness, and success. I am thrilled that you’re here, and I look forward to connecting with you.

Conquer Fears, Ignite Confidence, & Achieve Your Dreams

Are you ready to get off the sidelines ?

Tired of being held back by your own insecurities? And yearn for the courage and confidence to pursue what truly excites you? No matter your starting point or the magnitude of your dreams, my course, Conscious Courage, can help you silence the inner critic, rewire limiting beliefs, and cultivate unwavering self-belief so you can boldly create the reality you desire.

Ready for something more

focused, comprehensive, and custom?

If yes, perhaps you’re ready for 1:1 coaching.  I coach ambitious humans who are ready to go all in on their dreams. So, if you’re done fantasising and planning and now need the internal tools to turn those plans into reality, book an inquiry call and we can get started. If we’re a good fit, I will be your guide and companion in this journey till I’ve successfully taken you to the finish line.  

 

The workbook will be sent straight to your inbox!