How Curiosity Plays A Role In Achieving Self-Awareness With Dr. Rebecca Heiss

Understanding oneself is one of the most important keys to growth and success. Unfortunately, many people don’t pay that much attention to achieving self-awareness, which hinders them from attaining bigger things and meaningful people connection. Dr. Diane Hamilton delves into this complicated yet colorful topic with keynote speaker and author, Dr. Rebecca Heiss. Together, they talk about how being curious can get you out of your comfort zone and “bite the lemon,” opening yourself up to feedback, change, and communication. Dr. Rebecca also explains how people can take advantage of her 360 self-awareness application, icueity, when getting into the journey of knowing oneself even deeper and embracing weaknesses at all levels.

TTL 802 | Achieving Self Awareness


We have Dr. Rebecca Heiss here. She is the author of Instinct. She’s also the Founder and CEO of a 360-review mobile app called Icueity. It’s going to be interesting to talk to Dr. Heiss.

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How Curiosity Plays A Role In Achieving Self-Awareness With Dr. Rebecca Heiss

I’m here with Dr. Rebecca Heiss, who is the author of Instinct, which is coming out on April 2021. She’s the Founder and CEO of the 360-review mobile application, Icueity. She’s a highly sought-after professional speaker. Most importantly, she is the mother of a dog named Guinness. It’s so nice to have you here, Rebecca.

Dr. Diane Hamilton, thank you so much for having me on.

I’m looking forward to it. What kind of dog is that? 

The most important thing you said in that whole thing was mother to Guinness. He’s laying here by my side. He is a big golden retriever rescue, little English cream. He is spoiled. We love him.

I’ve got my new puppy, Luna, and it’s been a lot of fun. I have missed having labradors. I got my white labrador and I’m loving it. I want to get to know you more. It helps if I get a backstory on what led to your interest. I know you were a biologist and you’re a stress expert. You’ve got an interesting background. Tell me a little bit more about what led to this writing of Instinct and the background. 

My background is a little bit different than probably most people that you have on the show. My whole background is in biology. I started out as an ornithologist. For those of you who are not into birds, that’s a bird nerd. I studied big and beautiful American crows. For the first decade of my career, I was looking at these feathered friends. It turns out crows make excellent models for humans. They do a lot of the similar things that we do, especially as they moved into urban areas, and started eating the kinds of foods that we eat. I started studying stress through them.

My second degree was all focused on evolution and human behavior. I saw this massive overlap and this gap in leadership and in business. By the time I finished my PhD in Stress Biology, I was like, “I wonder how many of these biological concepts are being missed in the business world, because I don’t know anything about business. I bet I could bring a fresh perspective there and maybe I can learn something about business on the process.” I ended up being a complete non-expert, which has been super challenging for me. Like everybody, I don’t like to be the non-expert in the room. It’s one of my big fears. Coming into the business world was terrifying for me and it remains that way.

It helped me gain a perspective that more business leaders could use which is, “What if I was a non-expert in approaching every problem? What if I approached it with curiosity instead of saying, “I know this because of my side?” Since you’re working in curiosity and emotional intelligence, I’m sure this is ringing some bells for you as well. It’s telling me that the decisions we make are found from poor judgment based on our biology, based on the fact that we’re under stress. We’re making decisions that are based on a brain that isn’t adopted for this modern world. It’s a brain that was built for the world of 200,000 years ago when we lived in these dangerous sparse environments. Although our environment has changed rapidly, we’ve got all this great new technology, and we’re digitally connected to eight billion people at this point, our brains are still tribal. They’re still stuck in the stone age. We’re making decisions as if the environment around us was much more dangerous and sparser than it is. That’s the big sun overview.

TTL 802 | Achieving Self Awareness
Achieving Self Awareness: Meeting people with values and behaviors that differ from you increases your creativity, innovation, and decision-making skills.


I’ve got to go back to the crows. Are you an Alfred Hitchcock fan?

I have some beef with Alfred. I am a huge fan. Crows, while they have the distinct unfortunate name of being a murder when they get together, they are in fact gentle and loving species. Mr. Alfred, I apologize to you, but you did a horrible job in characterizing these birds.

That was such a great movie for its time. When you watch it now, it’s so cornball and ridiculous, isn’t it?

He is the master of suspense. It’s funny you mentioned crows. Everybody always comes back to crows. I ended up working them into my talks because it turned out that a lot of their biology is super applicable now. When you look at what’s happening right now in GameStop on the stock market, it is a bunch of crows who have decided to get together and cooperate to drive off a bigger hawk. You see this in the wild. It’s the power of cooperation. All of these little birds can get together and they can drive off these bigger predators. It was fun to see the world through a biological perspective.

That’s interesting because I’m thinking when you’re saying that, I’ve had Amy Edmondson on my show, who is the Harvard professor. She has a great Ted Talk about how they got the Chilean miners out from underneath that rock disaster. She talks about how they were able to collaborate and cooperate by using curiosity. I’m wondering how curious birds are. When I wrote my book, I have a bird example of how you can’t fly around the same bush without being curious because it runs out of berries, then it dies. We’re all born curious.

I’m glad that you use birds.

I didn’t use crows. They had crows in a 9-1-1 episode. I’m running out of things to watch and I’ve been watching this 9-1-1 series. They made them all scary. They were after this guy. I’m like, “Leave the crow alone.” You have to talk to them. Tell me a little bit more about what we can expect in Instinct. What is in Instinct and what are you trying to share?

[bctt tweet=”Those locked within their comfort zones will have a hard time dipping even their pinky toes in the waters of discomfort.” via=”no”]

There are seven chapters that are all based on seven instincts that are the most powerfully driving instincts that each of us has now but don’t always serve us. The first one is the biggest and broadest one, it’s survival. Many of our decisions are made out of this survival mode. The second one is sex. How often are we buying that Ferrari, or that luxury watch, or putting on makeup specifically to impress another person? This is independent of the fact that any of us are married and doing well. The third instinct is on variety. We’re seeking variety constantly, whether that’s in mates, whether that’s in bushes that we’re seeking different berries. There is a drive for curiosity, and that can be a good thing, but it can also lead us to constantly looking for greener pastures.

I talk about belonging in the fear of the other. Those are the next two chapters. There’s this desire to belong to a group. How positive that can be and how wrong it can go when we start seeing the other or anybody who doesn’t think like us, look like us, or act like us as a threat. That’s a biological norm, but in a society that’s globally connected, you’re going to run into people that look different, act different, speak different, think different, and that is a great thing as we know. That is the thing that increases your creativity and innovation. You make better decisions as a result of those diverse perspectives, but we have to first get over our fears. Many of those are so deeply subconscious. You and I will say, “I’m not scared of that,” in reality our bodies will betray us. They’ll show something different.

The final chapter is on information gathering. The fact that our brains treat information as a drug. We get the same reward dopamine hit from new information as we do cocaine. Our brain is like, “Yes, give me that information.” That was helpful in an environment where you might get helpful information like Sally has extra blankets this winter. Now, when you can sit and scroll through the internet all day, every day consuming information, it’s keeping that scrum from processing that information in a helpful way. That’s the big instincts that are tackled in this book.

I want to get into the fear aspect and some of this stuff because it ties into my research in curiosity. When you were talking about fear of the other, the television show Lost comes into mind in a perspective of there’s us and then them. They’re the bad and we’re the good from the other perspective. That made me do my research in perception in some respects because I’m fascinated by I’m right, you’re wrong mentality in anything. You must deal with that a lot. 

One of my favorite cartoons is two people staying on the side of 6 or 9, depending upon your perspective. The person is saying, “Just because I’m right, it doesn’t mean you’re wrong,” and vice versa. Our brains are so designed for black and white thinking like, “This way, not that.” The reality is there are multiple truths. There’s that perspective. We can’t see the water we swim in. That’s my favorite analogies. David Foster Wallace, talking about these two young fish swimming along.

It’s in my book on perception.

Tim and his fan are like, “How’s the water?” “What’s the water?” You have no sense of the water that you’re swimming in. What’s normal to you may be toxic to the fish next door, but unless you ask and unless you have that curiosity, you won’t know.

TTL 802 | Achieving Self Awareness
Achieving Self Awareness: Even though everyone is now connected digitally, our brains are still tribal, making decisions as if everything is highly dangerous.


When I researched curiosity, I found that there were four factors that inhibit it. The first factor was fear. You mentioned fear, I’m curious what scares you? 

I would love to sit here and say, “I embody fearless leadership.” The reality is I understand it. That does not mean that I am free from fears. One of the things that I try and teach is how can we consciously sort our fears to recognize that there are still life-threatening things that we should be having stress responses too. I don’t advocate jumping into the cage of a hungry tiger, that’s a terrible idea, but actively and consciously sorting our fears and deciding, “That’s life-threatening fear.” That is rejection. That is terrifying to me. To get back to your question, the thing that scares me the most is living a life driven by fear. That is not a life. You’re not making choices. You’re acting on these subconscious instincts. My greatest fear is not breaking free of that.

One thing that I always feel like people do that drives me a little bit crazy is existing and not living. I’m not having that fear, I just dislike it. That’s probably why I got into curiosity and trying to develop it in people because I have people in my classes, I’ve taught thousands of courses, and different things that I’ve done. You see a lot of people who seems like there’s nothing happening in their life. It’s Groundhog Day. 

You get comfortable. We’re leadership people. You’re supposed to get out of your comfort zone. That’s where all the growth occurs. How many times have we heard this? When you look at the brain, it’s clear cut in that people like sitting in the groove of their comfort. That’s where you’re safe and where your brain feels okay. Even dipping your pinky toe into discomfort is a shock to the system. Your body responds with this massive surge of cortisol. Your body’s telling you, “No, don’t do that. Don’t break free. Don’t be curious. Don’t get out of that comfort zone.” It is literally lowing you back into this existence that you say, rather than experience, rather than life, rather than sucking the marrow out of the bones of life. You’re stuck in survival, and it is a shame.

You’re talking about comfort, and there’s nothing probably less comfortable than doing a TEDx Talk. The best thing you can do is to do that. Everybody who I talk to say it was the most frightening thing they have had to do. How much did that freak you out? You’ve done multiple TEDx Talks. Tell me a little bit about that.

I’ll tell you a story that I’ve never told before. This was a little embarrassing. My second TEDx, the first one I did on the fear of the other, and it was terrifying, but I felt ready. I prepared myself. I told my brain the stories that I needed to tell it like, “You’re not scared, you’re excited. Go for it.” As you are well aware, the brain releases the exact same chemicals under stress as excitement. If your brain is going to believe the story, you tell it, tell it good stories. I got on stage and I felt good, although I do remember in my opening, I hadn’t memorized so well. I was speaking the words, and in my head, I was thinking, “Am I saying the things that I’m thinking right now, or are the actual words coming out?”

The second TEDx was my scariest one. I did something a little different. I came out dancing in a tight red, high-flipped dress. It was terrifying. I’m doing this sultry dance. I go to the side, go behind the curtain and quickly change into professor clothes, and ask the question, “What story are you telling about me? How has it changed from the second that I came out on stage in this fairly revealing dress and dancing around to when I tell you, ‘I’m a CEO. I’m this, I’m that?’”

The whole talk was based around sexual assault, understanding perception, and recognition of the freeze response in women. When I was back trying to do my quick change, I had a slight mishap. I couldn’t get my pants on. My music has ended. I’m supposed to be walking out and I’m going, “I have no pants. Do I just walk out? I can’t walk out. How do I do this?” It ended up working out. It’s always the way the brain extends that time. I’m thinking, “This is in five minutes of silence.” I watched that talk now and you don’t even notice.

[bctt tweet=”Leaders must have the attitude of getting the most out of feedback, even the negative ones.” via=”no”]

I love that since I write about perception. It brought to mind a talk I watched at Toastmasters once. A woman came out with her boa wrapped around her neck. You get this idea about people and sometimes it’s a knee jerk, “That’s weird.” I don’t know if I like that thing. I talked to a lot of people about this because we tend to make our judgements right off the bat about people, and we’re often wrong. How do we become more open to letting people become what they are without us jumping to that? 

I don’t have the answer. I hope you do.

I’m still working on it. It’s good for debate. My solution when I teach people about perception is the process of perception is epic, and the four factors I found for that. You evaluate, predict, interpret, and correlate. If you can look at what goes into how you look at people and how you see things, you recognize, you first have to look at how they see you, and then you look at how you see them. You take all this and critically think about all this. Maybe that comes back to our ability to lead and recognize that everybody has these different qualities. It makes me want to ask you another question though. You have this phrase called bite the lemon, I want to know what you mean by that. Does that tie into what we’re talking about here? 

I was going down that road. It’s so easy because when people see us, you’re feeling judged, you’re in that space of fear, and so the defenses come up, and you don’t want to get feedback. As leaders, that’s what we need more than anything. It’s getting feedback, making sure that we understand how the world perceives us. Often, when we get feedback about ourselves from others that isn’t you as stellar as we want it to be, we have a tendency to sugarcoat it. We say, “That’s just that person’s perception,” or “They were having a bad day.” When we’re young, we’re taught this. When life throws you lemons, what are you supposed to do? You make lemonade. No, life isn’t throwing you sugar, it’s throwing you lemons. You can’t make lemonade all the time. It’s okay to embrace those weaknesses. Go ahead and bite the lemon. The more you’re willing to bite it to recognize it, to taste the sour and say, “That’s something I can grow from.” The more we can recognize that this isn’t a permanent thing.

Just because I’m not funny this one time, it doesn’t mean I can’t grow from that. It doesn’t mean I’m stuck with being an unfunny individual or whatever the trait or perception is. It’s not permanent and pervasive, and it’s not personal either. Everybody has a weakness. When we’re willing to bite the lemon to truly embrace that weakness and swans it, people perceive us for who we are and value us for our true strength and our true weaknesses. It allows people to say, “She’s not great at this. I can come in now and cover for her there because I know she’s going to cover me for my weakness.” It is an empowering thing when we get past this idea of labeling it as bad, like it’s a bad thing to be weak. No, it’s not. It’s great. Steve Jobs had zero empathy and he knew it, which made him an amazing leader.

TTL 802 | Achieving Self Awareness
Achieving Self Awareness: Humor can change the tone of any conversation, allowing people to see complicated things through a lens that lightens things up.


I’ve had Daniel Goleman on the show because I wrote my dissertation on emotional intelligence. We talk a little bit about where Steve jobs was good. He was bad on empathy, but he had other parts of emotional intelligence that he was good at like knowing what people wanted, getting a product and different things. You talk about becoming more self-aware. Self-awareness is a huge part of emotional intelligence and a big part of our perception. How we see ourselves is critical. We have to also be able to see how we see others and build that empathy. When I wrote about emotional intelligence in my dissertation, I thought, “This is an interesting subject I’ll write about this,” thinking it was a passing thing. There are many people who still don’t get it and don’t learn about it. Do you deal with that a lot when you talk to people? 

It’s the bias of our own bias. Everybody else struggled with that, but I see people. It’s easy for us to see other people’s biases, but we can’t see it in ourselves. When I go out to try and present the idea behind my product, Icueity, which is a whole process of becoming more self-aware. I often can’t talk about self-awareness because people won’t buy into it. They’re like, “I have self-awareness,” because he has done this research and there are only 10% to 15% of adults who are self-aware. The reality is 95% of us believe we are but most of us aren’t. The more we can say, “Let me accept this perspective.” I use yes-and a lot. That opens a conversation. If you come to me and you have a different perception than me and I shut it down, we don’t have a conversation. This is essentially social media right now like, “This. No. That.” There’s no actual conversation happening.

I’m talking at you and I don’t get a respond back.

What if we said, “Yes, I’m acknowledging first that I understand that you have an idea, and that in your head, this idea is valid and true?” I have to step into that truth first. I have to fully accept and embrace your truth, and then I get to add my truth, then I get to pull you into my perception. That’s the only way that we can come from two completely polar opposite viewpoints and say, “Have you seen this?” It’s super hard, especially when we’re talking about our own awareness of our self. If somebody comes to me and they say, “You’re not funny,” my defense comes up like, “No, I am.”

How unfunny are you?

When I was beta testing Icueity, the whole idea is that you’re selecting traits and you’re rating yourself on those quickly. You send it out to friends, family, colleagues, coworkers who can rate you on the same traits, and then you can start to see where your gaps are. I’m beta testing this. I’m like, “I’m going to test myself because I’m funny.” I’m an 8 out of 10. I’m just going to rate myself. I sent it to my family. I got back 2. I had that immediate reaction and response that most of us do when we get that. I’m like, “No, that’s not true. They don’t get me. They don’t understand. They’re having a bad day.” Finally I was like, “Maybe it’s me.” Maybe I’ve been showing up to all of these family challenges trying to use humor to mediate. When I look at this scale, it turns out, I don’t think I’m empathetic, but my family values me for my empathy. Now I have an opportunity to lead from my strengths, not just think my strengths are, which they’re not.

The self-awareness thing is a fascinating thing because when you give people their assessments, when I give them emotional intelligence tests or anything that’s a self-assessment where they’re rating their own self. The thing that surprises me the most is when they’re surprised by their results. I’m like, “You answered what you think it is.” A lot of people have questions in self-assessments because you’re not getting the full picture, but it’s a good baseline for a lot of things. 360 is always great if you can get it, but sometimes you can’t. It’s wonderful to talk to people with a self-assessment when they’re surprised by it. You’re the Founder of this 360-review mobile application. I want to talk about this Icueity thing. Tell me a little bit more about it because I am fascinated by that. I know we touched on it, but what exactly can people get from it? 

Hopefully, more self-awareness or just awareness in general about how people perceive that. The idea is it’s like a Yelp for you. If you rate your food or your Uber driver, how are you being rated? People are making judgments about you every day. I’m not trying to drum up fear here. That’s not how I want to sell this.

You are getting outside perspective.

Essentially, you select from this list of about 90 traits, three traits of the tribe, things that you’re interested in knowing more about yourself, whether they’re skills like listening skills, your empathy levels, your leadership skills, or whatever. Three at a time, you rate yourself on a sliding scale, 1 to 10, simple, straightforward on these traits. You send it out to your friends, family, colleagues, coworkers who will, throughout the course of a week, have this survey dripped out to them through an email or a text message. They don’t have to have the app.

[bctt tweet=”It’s easy for us to see other people’s biases, but we can’t see it in ourselves.” via=”no”]

They don’t answer all of them at once.

I’m going to ask you if I’m funny and I know that survey’s coming to you, so I’m going to go and I’m going to tell you a good joke. I don’t want people to be able to influence these results. Their friends, family, colleagues, coworkers, whoever they send it out to will rate them anonymously. At the end of the week, the poll closes, and people can see where their gaps are, and the where they are on the scale. Let’s say I rated myself on empathy and I got a 2. I can look on the average ratings of, where does everybody who is using this app fall? If everybody is a 7 and I’m a 2, that’s fine. There’s nothing wrong with that. If I do want to grow in empathy, I can click on the resources tab and there are things to do to grow empathy. There’s something to read, watch, or listen to so you can start practicing how do you grow. Now that I know, how do I grow?

You said they pick the things to be rated on you. Are you finding they’re answering 100% of the things if it’s dripped to them? 

The way it gets dripped out. If I’m a user and I’m rating myself on humor, empathy and kindness for example, those three traits will get dripped out to you, Diane. I selected you. It takes you about fifteen seconds to say, “Rebecca, I know her. I can rate her.” You slide the scale on kindness, empathy, and humor and hit submit. That’s it. That’s all you have to do.

Who decides those three things?

I do as the user.

Do you think people will pick the things they want to hear that’s positive? How did you avoid that?

There are two pathways that we’ve built. There’s the renegade pathway for people like me who will look at a path and be like, “There’s rule that I have to play on my own. I’m going to select the traits that I want.” There’s a warning there that if you’re doing this, it’s all in likelihood that you’re selecting the things that you’re great at. Try selecting some other things. The alternative is a yearlong pathway. This is what we encourage people to do. It starts with this category called mindfulness. You’re testing three things around your ability to be mindful. The next part is you’re challenging the process. How good are you at confrontation? How good are you at your ability to negotiate? It’ll walk you through individual traits, teamwork traits, and then industry knowledge. How well can you teach? It walks you through these skillsets throughout the entire year so that at the end of the year, you’ve tested yourself on 36 unique traits and retested each of those traits after you’d gone through the resources and the growing portion. It’s a robust leadership development.

When you do something like mindfulness, because I’ve had many mindfulness experts on the show and everybody describes it somewhat differently. When you might pick it because you go, “That’s how she described it, and this is why I’m picking this,” does the person rating you get the same description? 

It’ll say something like mindfulness. Underneath it, it’ll describe the characteristics and traits that mindfulness embodies. You say, “From 1 to 10, where do I fit that description?” If I said humor, is she funny all the time? Does she have a dry sense of humor? Does it give you a stand-up comic? There’s a whole range.

I’m hearing these 36 things, so now I’m curious.

You can go to, and you can go through the whole process.

I’m curious why you picked that spelling.

This is the bane of my existence right now, the terror of marketing. When I was thinking of it, I thought, “This makes perfect. I’m going to get cued in. Give me the cue. I want the cue, Icueity.”

It seems normal. My way too, but I’m looking at my students’ way. I’m thinking, they’re looking at this going, “Ice?”

There’s a whole bunch of plays in there like “Icu,” “I see you,” which I thought was clever. Being not from the world of business, I had the quick ice bath and going, “This is a terrible marketing ploy. Too late. We’ve used that. Let’s go.”

TTL 802 | Achieving Self Awareness
Achieving Self Awareness: To avoid miscommunication, you must always be present and have a moment to digest information being thrown at you.


You could probably buy a couple of different websites, and they’ll find you no matter how they spell it. How’d you come up with the 36? Funny is one of them and why do you need to be funny? 

What we did was we sat down and looked through over 100 articles from Forbes and Business Insider, and looked at the top leadership traits. What do you have to be in order to be a great leader?

Is curiosity one of them?

It’s on there.

How about perceptive?

Perception is on there.

I’m curious about the 36 traits. If funny was one of them, why would you need that?

We broke them down into these categories based on all of these articles that said, “These are the things that people need to be.” Each month has a theme. Good vibes is one of those things. How do you create a culture that has good vibes? Part of that is humor. Humor is an essential trait. You don’t have to tell jokes all day. I would discourage you from doing that, but being able to be lighthearted, to recognize that if somebody said something that immediately puts your defenses up, hang on, pause. Can you take that in good humor? Humor is the way that breaks down those walls of the fence. Humor is a way that we can communicate and talk about difficult things through a lens that lightens things up. Humor is on the list. They’re not ranked from most important number one through 36 least important. It’s meant to be a path.

Before you go into the others, I wanted to touch on humor. It’s interesting because my last boss I had come across us uptight, super in meetings. He was like, “As I started yesterday and we’re going to cover this.” When I get to talk to him on a one-on-one basis, he had a cute sense of humor. He would laugh at things and be normal. When I left that company, somebody had asked him to have people rate him 360 for different things. He asked my feedback of things he did well and didn’t do well. The input I gave him was, “You’ve got a cute sense of humor. Show it. Have a little bit of that in your meetings because you come across us a little uptight.”

How did he take it?

He was great. That’s the worst thing you could say about somebody. It’s not the worst thing you can say about it.

Being relatable and approachable. It’s a huge way to break down barriers. We go through these steps from mindfulness, empathetic, grateful, kind, to moral compass, ethical, reliable, setting good expectations, to grit, adaptable, patient, resilient, good vibes, creative, humorous, inspirational navigating challenge, curiosity, ability to pivot, able to handle pressure, leveling up. Are you organized? Are you performance-driven? How do you manage your time? Leading with love, being cooperative, emotionally intelligent, listening skills, fighting the good fight, ability to confront, challenging the process, resolving conflict, fearless communication, ability to communicate clearly, negotiation skills, public speaking, into teamwork, which is delegation, seeking advice of others, team skills, mastery and passing the torch are all about industry knowledge, being strategic and visionary, and your ability to teach and foster potential, and continuously seek knowledge. Those are the core traits of month to month, but then there’s a list of all of these other traits that we’re we want to put on there like conducting good meetings, being effective, empowering, humble, honest, motivational, perceptive, perfectionist. There are positive traits and negative traits. There are all kinds of opportunities to learn more about yourself.

[bctt tweet=”There’s no problem in addressing your failures, but do not forget to celebrate your strengths as well.” via=”no”]

As you’re listing those, I’m writing down all my bad ones. 

I love that because you nailed something that I talk about all the time with people, which is we are naturally inclined to walk onto all the negative things. That’s good. I have no problem with people who are seeking out those things that they want to improve. Don’t forget to celebrate the things that you’re good at.

I’m thinking that you’d want to send the things that you think you need help though.

I’ll say yes-and. Often, there are surprises. When I did this thing with my family, I tell it as a joke, but it truly was a life-changing event for me because I realized there was a hidden strength that I didn’t expect. I thought empathy was low for me within my family, and it turns out that’s what they value me for. Be prepared for those painful moments of like, “I didn’t expect to be weak in that.” Also be prepared to find some hidden strengths. About 40% of executives find hidden strengths when they’re doing things like this.

It’s interesting because I had to take that personality test where they give you all the words and they go, “Put down the words of how you see yourself, and then put down the words that you think how others see you.” Do you know much about the predictive index?

I’m fairly familiar with it.

I had to take it in 1980. I remember when I took it the first time, I’m like, “It would be weird if I saw myself a lot differently than other people.” You’re trying to figure out what they’re trying to get from it.

You’re cheating.

You’re trying to win. I’m always going for sales jobs. We wanted to be seen as the best. It is interesting when I talk to people, and what the qualities they see in me versus the qualities I see in me. I wrote down patience when you were saying, “Are you patient?” I am not patient at all, but I don’t think I show it to other people. Other people would never put that down, or they might, but not to the level that I would. That’s an interesting quality, but I know that about myself. I don’t even need them to tell me I’m impatient. What do I do now that I know that I need to work on patience? 

That’s another thing. I want to challenge you there. You said, “I already know that everybody thinks that I’m impatient.”

No, I already know that I’m impatient. I don’t know if they think I am, but I know I am. 

Either way, you want to grow in that area. If you were in the app and you had tested this, it would pop up and say, “Here are the resources. Here’s where you need to go to improve your patience.” Since you haven’t tested, you can go, and you’ll have a whole list of resources of things to read, things to listen to, and things to watch. Depending upon how you like to learn, there are TED Talks, good podcasts, and articles to read on how to grow more patience.

Does my impatience make me driven?

Does it prevent you from doing that?

Probably. Can impatience be working for me? 

This is why there’s no assignment of like, “This is a good trait to have, this is a bad trait to have.” The whole point is like, should you be empathetic? I can make an argument that you should be, but what about humor? Depending on the context. Should you be patient? Sometimes, but maybe that’s the thing that drives you. There’s no real like everybody should be a 10 out of 10, or nobody should be a 1. If you’re aware of it, then you’re more capable and able to use it to your advantage. Maybe my non-patience allows me to jump at these opportunities that others don’t. To be non-patient is great. As long as you’re aware of that, I’m not trying to moralize or say this is good and this is bad, it’s more about recognizing it in yourself and when you can use it to your advantage.

I’m curious what you mean by some of these things, leading with love. What does that mean? 

Leading with love is a category under which we put these other traits.

What’s fighting the good fight then? 

It’s another broad category for these three traits. That’s all about being willing to confront. You’re fighting the good fight means, are we willing to step into that arena and voice our opinions, and have confrontation? Confrontation is a great thing if it’s done appropriately. Can we do that?

The teamwork delegation thing would probably be on my list as well because I tend to be able to do things so fast that it’s hard for me to delegate. You need to delegate. You could have done it easily, but you’re not building your team. You’re not building people. What advice do you give for people who have difficulty delegating? 

It’s the advice that I give myself most frequently. You and I are similar people in the traits I’m hearing. We have a tendency to believe, this part of our self-deception and instinct, that we are the best. Yes, you’re good, I have no doubt, and you’re efficient. There’s somebody else who is as capable. It’s a matter of slowing down to speed up. Many people are fetching water with buckets with holes in them. They’re racing from the spigot to the swimming pool to fill the swimming pool up, and their buckets are leaking because they haven’t taken the time to slow down momentarily, patch their buckets, hire the right person, do the appropriate training, so now you’ve patched your bucket and now we’re operating at speed. That is so hard for people that I’m hearing from you. They’re not patient. They don’t like to delegate. They probably don’t like control like me, and a bit of a perfectionist. Until we take the time to say, “I am going to dedicate X number of hours to getting this person up to speed.” Once you do that, you operate twice as fast.

That sounds good if you work in a company where they pay to get the best people, but sometimes you work at a company that doesn’t pay great. For those people, I’m thinking of somebody I know who works in a company that they don’t give their best people that it would take forever to get them up to speed. I don’t know if you can get some of the people up to speed where she works. What do you do in that setting to get yourself more patient, less controlling, and delegating when you know that maybe in that setting, they aren’t going to be as good as she is? 

Immediately, my brain goes to this is a perfect opportunity to challenge the process.

I talk about her on the show quite a lot because I’ve worked with her. She’s one of the more interesting people I’ve ever worked with because she’s so capable of everything. If you’re not at the high level, that’s a tough thing. Some of it, you have to be willing to give up a little bit of control. What do you think? 

I agree. That is fighting against our instincts to say, “If I give up control, what does that mean?” There’s great fear in being subpar because we’re constantly feeling like our worth is dependent upon what the world sees. If the world sees this person that I’m supposed to have trained and they’re not doing the quality work, that’s a reflection of me. This got back there. If you’ve had the conversation, is that person reflecting you? How many times have you thought to yourself, “It’s Betty’s fault that John isn’t performing well?” It’s John’s fault. I don’t mean to be pointing blame and assigning blame. I don’t think that’s the way to go. We put so much on ourselves and we say, “This is coming back to me.” Stop to question that fear because oftentimes, if we voice our opinions, if we’ve challenged the process, if we stepped into this leadership role, and if somebody else is still not performing, take a breath. This isn’t your problem to solve.

When you list it all those 36 things, are there certain ones that people list more than others? What are the top issues that people have? 

The biggest gaps that we’re finding are in listening skills. Listening skills is a big one. Most people think that they’re amazing listeners, and they’re often shocked by the results where people are like, “You don’t listen well.” The other big one is empathy. We’ve been shocked at that.

They’re tied together. You have to listen to build that empathy. 

There’s something interesting happening there too. How do you recognize somebody’s empathy? A lot of it is your willingness to listen, your willingness to pause to say, “I’m an empathetic person most of the time,” but I get caught up in this survival instinct of I have to prove myself, I have to run, I have to do this. I have to do that. Often that means I’m going and now I’m onto my thing. One of the biggest gaps is because of the time pressure that we put on ourselves. We think that we’re being kind and present in the moment with people, but we aren’t.

Paraphrasing helps a lot. I’ve taught thousands of business courses. In these courses, these students love to copy and paste, put quotations around things, and say they have cited it. Sometimes it’s true. I’m like, “No, at the graduate level, we have limited citations that are direct quotes. We want them all paraphrased because I want to show that you’ve digested the content and giving it back to me.” The same thing is true when you listen to somebody, you can paraphrase back. Not only are you learning and empathizing, but they see that you’re empathizing and understanding. What do you think of paraphrasing for that? Does that help?

Many of us listen for our turn to speak. It is difficult to truly hear somebody else digest their stuff. A lot of this is based on the speed at which information is coming at us. We live in an age where that ding, that ping, they all feel like tigers to our brains built 200,000 years ago. We’ve got all these pulls on our attention. The biggest most important thing that we can do is be present. Take that moment to digest what that person is saying to you. Repeat it back to them to make sure you’ve truly understood because this is when most miscommunications happen, and most people feel not empathized with is because I’ve said, “I get what you’re saying, and now here’s my perspective.” Instead of, “Do I get what you’re saying? Do I fully understand that? Let me tell you what I’m hearing. Here’s what I’m hearing.” I do this with my husband a lot all the time. It drives him nuts, but occasionally and frequently, I’ll say, “This is what I’m hearing.” He’s like, “That’s not what I said.” This could have caused a big argument and an explosion. What I’m hearing isn’t what you’re saying. Frequently, those miscommunications can be mediated by paraphrasing.

You have to adjust your personality. Anybody who reads this, it depends on who I’m talking to. You and I are both hyper so we’re all over it. If you take somebody who’s calm on another show, I adjust and I’m calmer, but my natural instinct is to be like this, the way I am with you, because you and I are more alike. To build that empathy, if you were a calm person, I’d make you a nervous wreck if I’m all hyper like I normally would be. 

This is one of the beautiful things when you do get those lemons, when you recognize, “That’s not what I want to be perceived as.” That’s not permanent. We adjust all the time. You put you and I in a library, I guarantee we will get kicked out. Probably we get kicked out, but before we got kicked out, we at least try to adjust a little bit. We mediate the loudness, the intensity with, “We’re in this environment. How do we adapt?”

I’m getting better. That’s an important thing. When I was in English 102 in college, I remember my professor came up to me. I was getting so bored because I’d be done with everything ahead of time and I’m making a noise in the back because I’m a never stop talking kind of person. There are three weeks or something left of class. He came up to me and he goes, “You have an A, please don’t come back.” It worked for me in that case, but it usually doesn’t. I’ve learned to adjust, and I try not to talk so much when I’m not supposed to, but this was fun though. All the stuff that you do ties in so well to the things I do. I’m excited for your book. I’m hoping that they check it out. I want to know how they can find it. How can they find you? Can you share links to how they will follow you?

The easiest way to get in touch with me is my site, it’s The book is at On there, you can join the book club, which is fun for people like you and I who like to talk. I couldn’t just give somebody a book. I had to talk about the book. There’s a book club where I give video summaries of all the chapters and prompts for discussion if you’re going to do this as part of the book club, or you can buy the book anywhere books are sold.

Where can they get the application?

The application is at Icueity, on the App Store on either Google Play or on Apple. Search for Icueity and you’ll find it there.

This was so much fun, Rebecca. Thank you so much for being on the show.  

I appreciate it. Thank you so much, Diane, have a great one.

You’re welcome.

I’d like to thank Rebecca for being my guest. We get many great guests on this show. If you’ve missed any past episodes, you can catch them at I hope you take some time to explore the site while you’re there. You can learn a lot about curiosity, perception, and so much more. It was such a great show and I hope you enjoyed it. I hope you join us for the next episode.

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About Dr. Rebecca Heiss

TTL 802 | Achieving Self Awareness

Dr. Rebecca Heiss is the author of Instinct (April 2021), founder and CEO of the 360-review mobile application, icueity, and highly sought-after professional speaker, Rebecca has found her calling in helping others recognize the power of biological applications in their lives. A former educator, Dr. Heiss spent much of her earlier career in the classroom at both the high school and college levels and was recruited to be a founding member of an innovative charter school with a focus on entrepreneurial thinking and impact-based learning.


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