Episode 52

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Published on:

12th Dec 2023

Embracing an Agile Mindset with Johanne Lavoie

Complex challenges often come without a playbook. In a world that's rapidly evolving and increasingly becoming more complex, an agile mindset empowers us to adapt quickly, think on our feet, and embrace change as an opportunity rather than a setback.

In this episode of the HAPPINESS SQUAD podcast, Ashish, Anil, and Johanne Lavoie, Partner at McKinsey & Company and leadership expert, explore the importance of an agile mindset in the face of complexities.

Johanne is also the Dean of McKinsey & Company’s signature multi-client program, leading with inner agility, which helps senior executives lead with greater purpose and impact in times of increasing complexity. As an author and frequent lecturer, Johanne actively engages in broader conversations at the nexus of leadership, mindfulness, and business. 

Joe has played a key role in the transformation of so many lives, including that of Ashish's, and in this episode, we’ll discover powerful practices and habits that can  help us live healthier, meaningful, and fuller lives. We’ll also dive deeper into how inner work for leaders is pivotal in fostering a human-centric approach to leadership.

Things you will also learn from this episode:

  • The Role of Inner Work in Leadership
  • The False Polarity of Worthiness
  • The Adaptability Paradox
  • How to Build Trust and Human-centric Leadership
  • The Power of Mindful Practices for Personal Growth

Resources:

Books:

Transcript

Anil Ramjiani:

Hey, HAPPINESS SQUAD! It's great to have you with Ashish and me as we host guests who are industry leaders, helping individuals and organizations unlock inner happiness and flourishing.

Do you believe your worthiness comes from what you do? Get ready for our next guest who shares how this is a false polarity.

Meet Johanne Lavoie. A partner at McKinsey, where she earned the distinction of master expert in leadership, the firm's highest partner level of expertise recognition. She's also the Dean of McKinsey's signature multi-client program, leading with inner agility, which helps senior executives lead with greater purpose and impact in times of increasing complexity. As an author and frequent lecturer, Johanne actively engages in broader conversations at the nexus of leadership, mindfulness, and business.

Joe has played a key role in the transformation of so many lives, including that of Ashish's. I'll be honest, for this whole episode, I was in absolute awe as Joe and Ashish shared through their own stories, insights that opened my eyes across how practices and habits are truly powerful to ensure we live healthier, meaningful, and fuller lives.

I truly hope that the tips and practices that we share support you to build the apparatus that you seek to unlock impact all around you. And this all starts with expanding the vessel within you.

Wait till the end, I assure you, you will be filled with ideas and inspiration and so much more. Join Ashish and me as we welcome Joe to the Happiness Squad podcast.

Johanne, Ashish, it's such a pleasure to be with the two of you today. I hope you're keeping well. Joe, we're just going to dive straight into it if you're okay with that. The first question I have for you is, I don't know you as well as Ashish does, neither do our listeners. Could you start by telling us a bit about your background and how an engineer, left brain consultant became McKinsey's leading expert on leadership, resilience, and master to coach so many CEOs?

Johanne Lavoie:

Wow. Thank you. Do you want the short story or the long story?

Ashish Kothari:

I want the long one, Joe.

Anil Ramjiani:

We're biased.

Johanne Lavoie:

Oh, gosh. Yeah. So I always say I have a fascination for complex systems, and there's nothing more complex than human systems. My fascination is for how we work with the inner lives of leaders in organizations and use that as a pathway to create change in the world.

Now, my background is as a little girl, I grew up in Montreal, hence the accent, as a little tomboy who became an electrical engineer. I'll give you a sense of my operating system as a young tomboy: tell me a girl can't do it and tell me it's tough, and that's the thing I'm going to do. So I became an electrical engineer because it was the toughest thing I could do. There were no girls, and my dad was an electrical engineer.

Then, I worked as a system engineer with the police force because there were no girls, and it was kind of cool. Then I decided to go to Harvard because it was the toughest thing I could think about doing, and my dad had gone to MIT, so I needed to one-up him.

Then I went to Harvard, and there was this thing called McKinsey that was the number one employer on campus. So, I needed to do that. I got into McKinsey because it was the toughest thing I could think of doing. Then I'm working in basic material, which is mining, pulp and paper, and energy sector, doing operations work. I moved to South America during the opening of emerging markets. I was in my late twenties, just on fire, traveling from Canada to South America, loving every piece of that.

Then we came back to Canada with my husband, and it was the time that I wanted to start a family, and that's when I hit a wall. I couldn't have children. My entire hormonal system was just shut down. My sister's a specialist doctor, so I went to see a bunch of doctors, and they couldn't explain why I couldn't have children. I couldn't even do fertility treatments.

My hormonal system was flat. That started a long journey for me. I took some time off, a summer off. I came back, and the fertility doctor said we don't know what you did, but it looks like you could maybe try some boosters. I did 18 cycles of boosters and had lots of data coming from these experiments. That data started to show me that the harder I worked, the less it worked. It was really self-defeating.

A doctor told me, "Joe, animals in times of drought shut down their own reproduction system out of a survival mechanism." Another doctor said to my sister, "I don't know if your sister realizes that there's no space in her life for a child." These little nudgings along the way led me to take some time off, and I ended up having a first pregnancy, our son. And I was still approaching the pregnancy in my high-performance mode. We lost our son at birth.

A teacher told me years later, "I think life found a way to bring you down to your knees," and I thought that was the perfect expression. It felt so defeating, like nothing made sense anymore. It really created a crack. A social worker at that time gave me a book about mind-body connection, which I would have never allowed myself to read because it was not pure and applied sciences.

But I read the book, and thankfully it started with quantum physics, so I got intrigued. I was quite desperate. So I read the book, and it started me thinking that maybe I was at least in part causing my own challenge, that the way I was approaching challenges in my life was the challenge. And as life does it, all forms of teachers appeared for me in different forms, whether it was like the wife of a colleague who taught me body scan, and thankfully she didn't use the term meditation, I wouldn't have done it. And I started without knowing it to do my own work, and my own work towards reintegrating my relationship to my own feminine.

I didn’t have that language at that time, but I started doing my own work. Through this, I ended up having a 25-year-old and a 22-year-old today, both born naturally. That journey for me was what cracked it, and I became really fascinated about how we learn and grow as human beings. How do we bridge the conscious and the unconscious? How do we become more conscious of the stories and the paradigms we live into?

I was still at McKinsey and would come back and shove all my learning into a drawer and move back in my performance mode. Then, at 33, I met another partner at McKinsey, Michael Rennie, who had cured himself from terminal cancer, combining both traditional medicine and his own spiritual journey. He started to bring some of these bodies of work to work with his clients. It felt very cultist at that time, but it was very powerful.

I attended some of these sessions as a participant. As a participant, I started saying, "Wow, I know this work. But it feels like a random walk, and it doesn't have to be." I did a one-on-one with this spiritual teacher, Gita Bellin, who we had brought in, and she asked me, "Joanne, why do you want to be a partner at McKinsey?" I said, "To prove it to all the men around me." When I said that, my whole inner system became an object and popped. I realized my own motivation system. That's where I decided I can't continue to do this work this way. I ended up quitting McKinsey, but I never quit. I trained myself in these bodies of work and ended up staying, but dedicating my professional focus to how we actually work with the inner lives of leaders.

I'll just finish my story by saying, I did my own grieving process for more than 20 years with respect to my son. But in a way, I feel he lives with me through me every day because I wouldn't be doing what I'm doing if it wasn't for this soul that came into my life. So if you want the long story, that's the long story.

Ashish Kothari:

Now, Joe, when I had the good fortune, you said when the timing is right, the teacher appears, and there were so many teachers who appeared in your life who helped you through that. You were that teacher for me, together with Amy.

I met you as a 44-year-old who was very much about doing and living that first mountain life of wanting to be successful. I was running out there harder. The higher the goal, the harder you run, it doesn't matter what the obstacle is, you just go through that. I met you in that moment, and you were much further along in the journey because you were not in that moment of seeking external approval. You were living the life on purpose to help leaders really do their inner work, and you were that. It was just amazing to me.

But friends, as you listen to Jo, notice that I want to pull out two or three things that she highlighted, and we're going to cover that quite a bit in this podcast. The first is this notion of complexity. We think we know it, but 90% of the leaders actually don't know it, and they don't have the language for it.

Things that are difficult are not necessarily complex. They can be complicated. But complex systems have a whole science behind them, and the complexity out there requires us to fundamentally increase our complexity here. From a different place, we use different tools out there, not the tools that we are taught. The best place to practice that is through our own human systems, through our whole human lives, because we are complex at our core.

The second point of what Joe highlighted, which again, so many of us in our work together, when I worked with her, when I tutored with her, when I saw her magic, and I'm doing that now, is so many leaders, men and women, roam around dead or numb to what their bodies are feeling or what they're doing to their own inner lives and health.

We're numb. Joe mentioned that her whole body system had shut down in terms of her fertility system because of all the work out there. And to heal, she healed by really focusing, turning away that energy to truly heal and not by doing more, but by doing deeper work.

So there is an important element of where are you right now? Where is your body? Where is your mind? Where is your emotion? Just tuning in a bit to recognize where you are and what is the state from which you're operating is really important.

And then also, the notion of finding your why. We can try and find the why out there of making a partner, as Joe said, to prove to others, or we can be guided by a deeper why and the importance of that. We'll cover so much of that here.

But Joe, I want you to share a little bit about some of the underpinnings behind the work you and I did, and Amy, in that program that I had a chance to experience at Benalonga. That was so transformative. It was transformative also because it was five days of us together.

I've shared this story so many times on this podcast. I was having unbelievable bouts of stress and anxiety. The third day in that program, I woke up with no anxiety for the first time after so long. That week helped me connect to my why, which led to the formation of the Happiness Squad.

So talk a little bit about some of the elements, the magical elements that you weaved into that program that thousands have benefited from through that gift of yours to us.

Johanne Lavoie:

So thank you, Ashish. One thing I would say just before I go there is that the walk we always keep walking is never finished. I do have my moments of recess, my moments of fear and being scared, and my body tells me big time, and it still happens. The key is to be more mindful of it and to have practices that we cultivate to use our own life as our own teacher.

For me, because I felt very blessed to have had this teaching enter my life, and I've been 30 years at McKinsey, so I didn't change jobs, but I changed how I approach my job fundamentally. And I changed my path fundamentally. I was a big believer that the gift I had received to be able to do my depth work, my inner work, working on my own operating system, was something I saw in some of my colleagues.

I really felt like if there's something I can give back, it's ways to normalize in our place, where we recruit and are surrounded by so many brilliant and high-achieving people, to make it okay for us to do our depth work in a relationship, in the context of our work. Because when you do this work, all of us can go to retreats outside of work and do our personal work.

There's something really precious when you can do that in the context of your working relationship, because you're rewiring your relational tissue. The way that we're entering into relationships with each other creates a safer attachment fabric where you can feel that you belong for who you are, not for what you do, and carry that in your work to really magnify and amplify what we can do together.

I work in a profession that is a service profession, where essentially we're in service and we're working with human beings. If we cannot work with the inner system, but just the outer system, we're leaving on the table such potential.

I felt very strongly about bringing that into possibility. And then out of these programs, what was also interesting is I had no interest in teaching frameworks or modules to people. I’m more interested in teaching practices that we could incorporate, and then out of this program, everybody could bring their own voices to how this manifests in their work. Just like you did, Ashish, and now created something that is your own unique expression and your own manifestation of bringing this work into the world. And to me, that's really exciting.

Ashish Kothari:

It was just magical to me how you and Amy created that vessel, that safe vessel. We talk all over the world about psychological safety, trust, vulnerability, but there was a way you weaved in and created that vessel, Joe, where strangers shared stories that had never been shared even with their most inner loved ones and could feel held. It was that moment, Joe, that was so transformative.

So talk to us a little bit about some of those learnings that you weaved in there in creating that environment that as leaders, people can implement because there is so much suffering and it is so much private suffering. There is a space, a way to create a space where we can witness it and we can actually support each other.

Johanne Lavoie:

There are a couple of things you said that I want to pick on. First is the suffering. And you talked about complexity. Bob Keegan has this beautiful quote. Bob and Lisa talk about the complexity of the world not being the challenge. The world is becoming more complex, and the problem is not the complexity of the world, it's the mismatch between the complexity of the world and our own at that moment.

So if I'm approaching greater complexity, we have two choices. I can choose to reduce the complexity in which I operate. I can take an easier job, move to the suburbs, simplify my life, that's one way. So reduce what I take in, or I can learn to grow my vessel, my capacity to host the complexity.

What that means in simple terms would be, we all come to the world with our own conditioning, with our beliefs, with our habits, etc. There's a certain rigidity to this. If we approach a complex environment with our habits and our ways, just like me approaching my fertility with my tried and true way of approaching other challenges in my professional life, I would approach a new level of complexity with a very narrow range, and that was the suffering.

I needed to be able to learn to actually let go, to create space, to slow down to go faster, like all of these things that felt completely against my own wiring. So I needed to grow my complexity and become more adaptable to entering a relationship with that new challenge. That's one point, and that's where the suffering comes from, the mismatch.

Ashish Kothari:

Yeah, and Joe and that is something that is present in spades today in our world because the world is more complex than ever before. It is more volatile, and there is very little in the form of development that is helping us teach people skills out there, but we don't teach practices to grow our own complexity.

Johanne Lavoie:

Yeah, and that's one of the key points. The world is becoming more complex, so we need more adaptability. There's a paradox I wrote about in an article, the adaptability paradox. It's when we most need to adapt, when the stakes feel high, when things are changing, that it's most difficult, because we're wired for survival. So when the stakes feel high and when we feel uncertainty, our brain goes into alert mode and triggers our survival-based response. So we go into default mode, which is our habit. That's why in those moments, we de-skill, we don't have range anymore because we're in our habits. That's why it's so important to cultivate practices.

For example, this simple practice of learning to breathe, to exhale, to downregulate our nervous system in the moment. It's so common sense and part of our human being, learning to breathe, being able to breathe. Yet, we live in a world today where we need Apple watches to remind us when it's time to breathe. We need phones with hundreds of different apps for meditation to teach us to pause in the moment and just downregulate our nervous system.

We know how to do this. If I'm a mother or a father and there's a crying baby and all of a sudden there's chaos in my house, I know that I need to downregulate my nervous system so that I can co-regulate with that child and everything will restore. But yet, in the business world, we think we can just run, run, run, and fill every single white space with bits of information. So we need a watch to remind us, did you breathe?

But the practices that we teach are nothing new. They're practices of being human. So the practice of how do I downregulate myself? How do I get back into the present moment? How do I attune to another human being when I'm in a difficult conversation? And by the way, there's no such thing as a difficult conversation. There's a conversation that I experience as difficult. That's very different. These are practices that we can actually remember and reintegrate into our daily life. And all of a sudden we create more space and we can actually accomplish more.

And I want to bring back to one thing you said about the polarity of doing and being. Most of us as leaders in this world, especially when we run fast paces, our worthiness comes from our doing. I am because of what I do. I belong because of what I do. I am loved and achieved because of what I do, not who I am. And that's a false polarity.

I gave up as a child, my right to be too early. I started doing it in order to be. And that gets carried. The gift of that is that I accomplished a lot, like many people in our life. It's our drive, but it's a drive that's ridden on anxiety on doing. Then we're senior executives in the face of complexity and we have a scared person in front of us and we're trying to logic them because all we know what to do is to do, instead of just slowing down and in that moment, addressing the fear underneath.

I'll give you a story. I was with a bunch of senior executives in Paris a few years ago, and I had the chance to facilitate this fireside chat with Peter Vassar, the ex CEO and chairman of Shell. We were sitting in that circle at night and somebody asked him a question. He received the question and then paused for 30 seconds of silence. When he answered the question, he didn't answer the question, he addressed the fear underneath the question.

I was so blown away that I actually stopped the whole thing. I asked, "Peter, where did you go when you heard that question?" He just looked at me and said, "I digested the question." He received the person, attuned to his own nervous system, and picked up the fear to address it.

Most of the time, what makes our challenge a challenge is not the technical side of the challenge, but the fear, the need, the emotions, the identity stuff underneath that we are not attending to. So I think that these skills are practices that if we learn to cultivate, we restore our ability to be human at work and be much more effective.

Ashish Kothari:

And we do so much of this, and I've integrated so much of what I've learned from you, Joe, into the work we are doing now. This notion of achieving more by being more, rather than just doing more and pushing hard.

Friends, on one of our podcasts, we talked about this notion of an iceberg that I learned from Joe and from all the work. Most of the time, we are trying to act towards the tip-of-the-iceberg behaviors. Maybe a little bit, we talk about thoughts and beliefs and we go down there, but we all do it from our own triggered state. We don't create space, similar to what Joe described, to form a regulated place sense into what are the needs, what are the deep fears that are driving the question, the conversation, the conflict, the disagreement.

The reason why we have two different perspectives is that we don't create space. Many of us don't even have the apparatus to go there. We need to first build that so we can sense into our own, so we can sense into the other. But that's why these practices that I learned from her and from the work that she's been teaching so many are so powerful. The power of the pause, the power of down-regulating, the power of sensing the real challenge, the real fear, part of what we are experiencing in difficulty, and then from that taking whatever action we need to take.

Johanne Lavoie:

The beauty of this too is that they're fundamentally very human practices. I always say I teach nothing new. We just remind ourselves to be human with each other. There's a whole trend right now in leadership where, in the face of complexity, we need more human-centric leadership.

And these practices, I want to pick up on something you said before, the power of stories. So the use of stories. Yesterday, I was meeting a new client, a phenomenal woman. The first time we met, a colleague of mine invited us to this little cafe at night, and we were having a few bites of sushi. She comes in late, sits down, she's of Indian descent. The first question I asked her was, "How are you?" and "Where are you from? Were you born here?" Within four minutes, she says, "You know more about me than any one of the people that I work with, and I feel connected to you."

My colleague was sitting there wondering what happened. I just got interested in the person. It wasn't manipulated. There's a human being who just sits beside me, and in that moment, I take four minutes to get interested in who she is. We had a brilliant two hours together after that.

But this thing about training ourselves, the practice of being curious about somebody else's story. When people start to get to know each other's story a little bit more, who are you as a human being? Where are you from? Where did you grow up? Just a few things that tell me about you. All of a sudden, the person in front of me goes from 2D to three-dimensional, and then even four-dimensional, where there's a connection because part of her story is my story. She's a woman, for example.

One of my favorite exercises that I do in senior teamwork, we may be working on business challenges or whatever, but I always insist that we have at dinner at night origin stories. My question to them is always, "How has my life apprenticed me to become who I am today?" People go on and share stories.

It's the fastest way to build trust in a team. It's the fastest way to build acceptance so that then the next day we can turn on the heat and really engage in tough business challenges. And have more compassion towards each other, more curiosity, more generosity. And that is not at the cost of performance, to the contrary. It allows us to turn on the heat, to be much more agile, not take things personally, and stay curious versus quick judgment about intent. So these practices are just human practices.

Ashish Kothari:

There are human practices that get lost in the busyness of life and the harshness. And this protective armor that we start to put around ourselves. You're absolutely right. That was one of the big elements of that one week we spent together.

Friends, for the first time, many of you know my story by now. Growing up, always from a very young age, trying to do more. Nothing but number one mattered. You had to have perfect scores. IIT and the whole rush towards that, and then Booth and consulting.

It was at that retreat, honestly, where for the first time, I stopped. We didn't have devices, we didn't have our laptops. And we could just be, to connect with each other as human beings without titles, to really talk about things that we don't talk about. Because that bonded us. We had so many similar journeys and to really have space for introspection.

Our minds are clear, un-numbed by drinks. We love drinking in many retreats, like we go out, we do a two-day leadership thing, but we're going to be filled with booze. Our minds were clear. We were in nature. We were in the company of each other. And we were having really deep conversations. We were being human. And the magic that came from it. So we all know it, we don't do it. And that's the invitation.

Johanne Lavoie:

And you know, Ashish, I do believe you're raising the importance of creating retreat times in our life. And I'm a big fan of inserting some retreat time in our fast-paced life. And that can be, for some of us, time in nature, for some of us it's backcountry skiing, going into the big mountains where I live is a deep retreat time and for some of us it may be going into a spiritual retreat, for some of us it's a meditation retreat, for some of us it will be different things that create real space. Where we can become more aware, practice intensely, and then we go back to our work.

But what I feel is important is are we staying in practice? Using our everyday work as the playground for practice. So the reason why I choose personally to stay in a fast-paced work environment and work with business leaders and work in a business environment versus working on the side and switching off of the corporate world is that for me, it's a perfect playground to practice. Our toughest leadership challenges are a practice ground.

And if I can ask the questions, different questions, what for is this happening? What do we want to solve for versus fix? What other perspective? How might I be wrong? What's the direction, not the destination we're going? Like there's a whole bunch of practice that I can use in my everyday work. Using my work, like that's the way I see my work. My work is my life. It's a practice ground, it's a playground. My marriage is a playground and a tough one.

Ashish Kothari:

Every one of them is. And it is so in line with even the spirit in Hinduism, in all of the Eastern traditions. There is a big push towards practice in life rather than retreat to a monastery. Like there is this notion of karma. It's about staying in action, but using our day-to-day life to practice and live with some of the spiritual teachings and principles.

I have a different take on retreat, because retreat in today's world also sometimes people say, I don't have the space, because retreat means I'm retreating from something. Who wants to retreat? We want to move forward. Always move forward. We don't want to retreat.

But often, what if you actually treated retreat as an opportunity to re-treat yourself? Treat yourself, fill your cup. And you can retreat in your work, every day, with small breaks. You don't have to escape. There is power in that. And some of the deepest learnings and breakthroughs in my life have come when I have taken a week off or taken three days off and disconnected.

But Joe, what you're highlighting is the real power of being in practice, building in breaks, retreating ourselves to live into these principles and apply them every day at work versus the need to just escape.

Johanne Lavoie:

Yeah, the metaphor we use, if you think of a high performing, high achieving, high-end athlete, you do not have to convince an athlete to inject and strategically integrate recovery into their day, into their race. Recovery is the doorway to performance. And you do not have to convince an athlete to eat, to sleep, to visualize their race, to take a moment to breathe, to be able to fill their life with positive emotions. You don't need to convince them because they know that's the doorway to performance.

When the tennis player misses their shot, what do they do? They re-ground, they re-center, and they go back in. Lean into the difficulty. Yet, we're corporate athletes and we think we can defy the principles of nature and just keep on running. And then our mind will make an excuse that, “well, if I don't do this, it's lazy, I need to self-sacrifice, etc.” We'll make all kinds of excuses.

And why do we do this is because we don't make these excuses. If we don't have these, then I have to experience suffering. So my mind will make these excuses so I don't have to experience suffering that I'm actually violating myself. And it comes from a deep-rooted lack of accepting our humanity. So we just kind of bypass it and keep on running. And I did that to an extreme, it cost me a lot, until life just stopped me.

Anil Ramjiani:

The beauty of having two ears and one mouth and sitting in this conversation with the two of you is absolutely incredible. I'm listening here with respect, reverence, and reflection on what each of you are saying. The reason why I'm silent is because everything each of you has said has resonated with me on every single level.

Just working slightly backwards, the number of times I speak to colleagues who come back from holiday, and the question is, how long is that holiday glow going to last? Are you diving straight in? Yep, it lasted a few days. How do we find those ways of integrating?

I love how you said it, Ashish, a retreat. Treat yourself as you should, every day, if not every hour, if not every minute, every breath you take, Joe. That simple act of breathing that we shouldn't need to rely on a hand device to tell us when and for how long to do it, but such a simple thing that we do, don't do different things. Just do that differently.

The other piece around Vessel and how you can grow your vessel, I was thinking of Einstein as you both were talking. You can't solve a problem with the same mind that created it. You need clarity and each of the things you both have said is finding that adaptability, finding that space, creating that space to be. It takes work. It doesn't come easy. And I'm someone who, working with Ashish, working with others, knows that when push comes to shove, you default back to your old coding. So it takes time to actually give yourself the opportunity to rewire, whether it's those relationship tissues, those mental tissues, those spiritual tissues, those physical tissues.

And I love how you said it. Working for a company that deals with athletes, you're absolutely right. Recovery is truly the doorway to performance. But the only way we're going to feel comfortable to lean into difficulty is if we first recognize, hang on a second, is what I'm doing working for me? Does your worthiness come from what you do? I raise my hand to that, Joe. Hand over heart.

Honestly, there are times I will write an email, I will create a slide, I will create an excel purely out of proving that I am worthy to be at that table. And every single time I've been coached, it's, hey, you are at the table. You don't have to prove your worthiness. So this is my reflection just to say to our listeners, as you listen to Ashish and Joe, just step back. What resonated for you from this? And just take one practice that they suggested. And integrate it into your day. Give it a few days, but really truly invest in it. Give it the space.

I was telling Ashish earlier, Joe, I had a conversation with my sister about meditation. She's like 30 minutes, no less. Even if you're sitting there in silence, it just has to be there. You can't compromise. And I'll tell you, whenever I speak to my friends about changes they want to make in their life, some things can be progressive, but some things you truly need to integrate it.

So that's just my way of just saying, expanding the vessel, finding simplicity in the complexity, giving ourselves space to retreat, to treat ourselves, and just reflecting how we create space around others and just how we can truly live this. It's only going to come from us. It's not going to be anyone else who does this for us.

We have to do the work ourselves. And if we don't want to do the work, okay, you can continue as you are, but like you both have said, you'll crash and burn. But if you truly want to rise and climb that second, third, and fourth mountain, and shift from success to significance, and truly make a difference in the lives of yourself and others, man, I'm going to re-listen to this as soon as it's released. Not to listen to me, but just to re-listen to what each of you have said.

So I just want to say thank you, Joe. From the bottom of my heart for how you've shared this with Ashish, Ashish, how you share this with me and to our listeners, how we're sharing this with you. There's just so much we can take away from this. I'll pause there and pass the mic back to each of you.

Johanne Lavoie:

You know, I just want to say something, and thank you for reflecting back on this meditation with the 30-minute practice from your sister. The one thing that I took from it, I was listening to Atomic Habits, a great book, recently. And there's something that I took from it about creating “being” habits.

So if you create a habit, you can say, I want to meditate every day and then you'll shame yourself for not doing it when you're doing it and it becomes one more “doing” habit. But if you actually say, who am I becoming?

I am somebody who deeply listens. I am somebody who is intuitive. I am somebody who is spacious. I am somebody who my kids come and turn to. I am somebody. It's the quality of being. Then your practices become to cultivate that quality of being everyday. And you'll find yourself, am I everyday practicing that quality of being?

And it's actually one of my favorite practices to wake up in the morning. And instead of doing, turning to my to-do list, like many of us, turn to your to-be list. What's on my to-be list today? What's the quality of being that I want to practice? And then just keep that at the forefront of your attention and practice it.

In every meeting, in every, and the practice will emerge from it. And then all of a sudden you look back a few months later. And you're more of that being. You're more of who you are fully. Because you're going towards who you want to be more fully at your best.

Ashish Kothari:

Yeah, Joe, those practices that I've learned from you have been so transformative and as a gift, frankly, to the world who don't get to directly get them from Joe, our REWIRE program is built around habit formation, practice 9.1 is intention, who do you want to be? Do you want to be mindful? Do you want to be kind, grateful? There's a whole range that you can choose to be. The practice of mindful breaks.

So we use the science of habit formation combined with the science of happiness and flourishing. And the whole idea was let's make things small. And habits that we make are about being. So for example, the practice of mindful breaks, this notion of five, one minute breaks in the day. It's the power of breath, six breaths along the day. And through that, practicing being mindful, you don't need to meditate. Meditation is a way to cultivate a quality of mind to be mindful. To be in the present moment. And we know that we'll get there.

And I've done a 10 day Vipassana and I've done longer retreats but we don't, if we start to go with that as a goal, there's a reason why 80 percent of the world knows meditation is good. 20 percent meditate and even of that 20%, 80 percent when asked say they're not mindful moment to moment. They meditate for 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 20 minutes. That's the time when they're mindful.

So, this notion of habit formation that you talk about in Atomic Habits, we looked at Tiny Habits, in fact we had one of the persons who teaches Tiny Habits with Professor B.J. Fogg, who worked with us to design our scripts to make it easy, because to your point, these are practices to be human. We are human beings, not human doings, but we forget because of our habits when in the face of adaptability, we descale, we go to our old habits. So let's build new habits. Let's build happier habits using exactly the same science. Over time, so that we can be more adaptable, we can hold more complexity, we can be more human.

Johanne Lavoie:

And that's what I love in the work that you do, Ashish, is that you have nicely crafted practices so that it can be embedded in our way of life. And 30 minutes is the equivalent of a retreat. Yes, between the meetings, in meetings. In meetings, taking a minute. So that's what I think is brilliant about what you have done this way.

And what I would say is that if we do more of that, it will help us redefine what we call normal. Because many people say it's not normal to do this, but we've created a world that we call normal, that is like Gabor Maté would say, a normal response to an abnormal way of living. And it doesn't have to be.

Anil Ramjiani:

It doesn't. And that's why I go back to, for our listeners, just as we wrap up, take a moment and reflect on your life, reflect on your moments, reflect on yourself at work, reflect on yourself at home, and just take stock in what we've just shared today. The opportunity is, how can you create better habits? How can you create habits that step by step take you further to where you want to go?

And mindful that we don't have to continue to be the way we are. We have the option to transform. Not only change, but transform. And the way that Ashish, you, and Joe have shared it with me, with us today, is incredibly powerful. So hey, folks, remember, you can't solve a problem with the same habit, the same mind, the same body, the same spirit that you've created it with. We have the opportunity to shift. We have the opportunity to change. It's just a matter of taking that first step.

So Jo, Ashish, I just want to say thank you to both of you. This was an absolute pleasure. And Jo, I know that we had much more to ask you. I hope that we have the opportunity to have you back and chat with you some more. So, thank you.

Johanne Lavoie:

Thank you for your work in the world and bringing this to people.

Ashish Kothari:

Joe, I'm eternally grateful for your gifts to me and so many others. And I know we will continue dancing together and I'll keep learning from you my whole life. Learning with you.

Johanne Lavoie:

Learning with me, as we do this together.

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About the Podcast

The Happiness Squad
Welcome to Happiness Squad.

This is the podcast dedicated to helping you unlock your full potential by mastering the art and science of happiness.

We bring on the best leading experts on these topics to help you unlock your true potential and live with more joy, health, love, and meaning in your life.

Your host is no other than the star combo of Ashish Kothari and Anil Ramjiani who are on a mission to provide you with an unfair advantage to be the masters of your experience and leaders in your industry.

Get ready to be moved, challenged, and enlightened on this podcast. It may change your life.

Thanks for being here and joining the squad!
Learn more: https://happinesssquad.com/

About your hosts

Ashish Kothari

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Ashish Kothari is the founder and CEO of Happiness Squad, a company focused on democratizing happiness and touching a billion+ lives over the next 20 years and helping them live with more joy, health, love, and meaning.

Prior to founding Happiness Squad and writing his best-selling book “Hardwired for happiness”, Ashish spent 25 years in consulting, including the last 17 at McKinsey and Co, a premier management consulting firm, helping thousands of clients and their organizations achieve breakthrough performance by building new mindsets and capabilities.

Ashish is a trained ontological coach and a lifelong student of human thriving.

Anil Ramjiani

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Anil Ramjiani is an experienced senior leader at Nike, Inc., most recently as the Commercial Director managing key athlete partnerships and business with Cristiano Ronaldo, Kylian Mbappe, and Marcus Rashford.

Anil's passion is grounded in empowering people, unlocking potential, and driving performance. He has worked in consulting and corporate across the US, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia acquiring over 20 years of experience in strategy, brand, and general management at IBM, Adidas, and Nike.

He created the podcast and platform Live. Breathe. Believe., to enable reflection, motivation, and inspiration for his peers. #Knowyoutobeyou!