People’s ego and identity often stand in the way of their realizing their potential. Former NFL athlete and international speaker Anthony Trucks, however, thinks that you can realize your potential with an identity shift, to reveal the true, better you. In this episode, Dr. Diane Hamilton and Anthony discuss his creation, the Identity Shift Method and how it works to help people transform themselves. We hear about Anthony’s younger years and his struggle to succeed, and you can accomplish anything, if you plan right and have the right mindset. Listen in, learn and be inspired to change by Anthony’s story.
I’m so glad you joined us because we have Anthony Trucks here. He is a former NFL player turned transformational identity shift coach. It’s going to be fascinating to find out what that is.
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Working To Become Your True You: The Identity Shift Method With Anthony Trucks
I am here with Anthony Trucks, who is a former NFL player turned transformational identity shift coach. He is the CEO of Identity Shift, the Creator of The Shift Method and the author of Trust Your Hustle Pt. 1: A Life Forged by Fire. Whether coaching, speaking, writing, consulting, podcasting, or you name it, he helps people achieve a transitional shift to reach their full potential. It’s so nice to have you, Anthony.
Thank you for having me.
I was looking forward to this. This is interesting. I had a few former NFL, NBA and a lot of different sports backgrounds and people get into coaching because they learned so much from it. It’s great to help other people on teams and in different atmospheres in the business world. They’ve been on the show and I’ve loved every one of them. I want to get a background on you because people hear NFL and their ears perk up. I want to hear what that was. Can you tell me how you reached this point?
I got to this point by navigating the things that life throws at us, finding a way to find a unique little skillset that I wasn’t aware I had all the way back when I was fifteen old. Most of the time, I’m applying it accidentally but at a certain point, consciously and with intention. I was able to do a lot of the things you listed. It’s what allowed me to play in the NFL, do American Ninja Warrior on TV, write books and coach people. I’m able to teach what I know I’ve experienced. I’ve walked through a lot of places and get to help other people walk through those same places.
You say some of the places you’ve walked through on your website. I liked when you said where Shift started. That’s cute. I like that you tell your back story. Unfortunately, you started in the foster care system at the age of three. Tell us a little bit about how that helped shape what you are.
I was given away at three years old, my three siblings and I. The four of us were put in that foster care system. Essentially, we were called a paycheck, which means as long as we don’t die in this system, they get a paycheck for me. I was subjected to a lot of different heinous things by a lot of different people. While it was not something I would wish upon anyone, I didn’t like it or enjoy it, I do greatly appreciate it.
There’s a statement that I love and it says, “A smooth sea makes not a skilled sailor.” In life, I’ve found that these moments in time shaped me immensely, whether it was figuring out how to be able to communicate or how to survive the time. These little nuances taught me so much more about me and my life and later on once I got past them. That was my upbringing.
At six years old, I was put into a family, which is my family still. The unique thing was I was adopted as the only Black person into an all-White family. I was poor. After years with that family, the dynamics of who I am, where I fit and my identity were completely like in a washing machine, being tumbled around all the time. I navigated these things. Most of the time, I’ve sheerly survived and in doing so, I garnered a lot of information about myself and the world that I turned into a cool life.
You used the word identity and I saw your quote, “The secret to a new and better life isn’t a shift in mindset but a shift in identity.” What do you mean when you said you had a change of identity there? What was your identity? How do we change and shift our identity?Your identity is who you are when you aren't thinking about who you are. Click To Tweet
There are a couple of ways of looking at it. We’ll call it approach that problem. One is understanding what identity is. The way I look at it, we’re all living a life that has been built by us in some capacity, through actions. Your identity is who you are when you aren’t thinking about who you are, which is the actions that I take. Essentially, it’s slow to go through.
What most of us don’t realize is your identity, almost unintentionally, builds your life. When you want to build your life in a different direction, the solution most people say is, “I got to work hard. I got to learn that thing. I got to do this.” To an extent, that is true. However, if you’re just focused on working hard, you’ll burn yourself out. You’ll bile the information stuff. If it’s not who you are to do that thing, don’t take the action.
A lot of people fall short because they don’t realize it’s not a matter of mindset or information. It’s who you are with that mindset and information. When you can see who you are and the person you need to become and you understand that that’s the separation, you start creating way more headway and vastly more success. It feels easier to do so. It feels more in alignment with who you see yourself to be.
You had a full-ride scholarship at the University of Oregon and ended up achieving the goal of going pro in the NFL Pittsburgh Steelers. Was that your identity that you were striving to be a pro football player? Explain that in terms of identity there. I want to make sure I understand identity.
At first, when I played football, I was horrible. In my very first year at fifteen, I sucked. The question I didn’t ask was, “What do I have to do?” I knew it was a deal. You go and catch footballs. You run routes. You get faster. The question I asked myself back then was, “What does a great football player do?” That’s what I wanted to become. If you think about, “What does that person do?” “That person does X, Y and Z.”
That led me through the different stages of the same mentality. I figured out what that person did. At first, these things felt out of character to run routes, lift weights and catch footballs. They might make fun of me, “Trucks, you suck. Why are you doing that? Why are you catching a football? Why are you running routes? Why are you lifting weights? You’re weak and slow. You can’t catch.”
It felt out of character, but I kept doing it. It wasn’t my identity yet, but the more I did it, the better I got and the more I personally identified with the person that did that. I became the player that did those things. All of a sudden, they get done. Lo and behold, I can get to football, run a route and do these things. The actions have come through.
When it came to progressing into the NFL, it happened at every stage. I got to college and I was like, “I’m this lowly freshman. What does a starting linebacker do?” I found those things out and I became the starting linebacker. Not by knowing what to do but doing the actions over time to become that person. To identify at my core, at a level so deep that I would fight to be able to say, “This is who I am. I’m going to take this spot.”
The NFL came. It’s the same thing. I said, “I’m a college player. How does an NFL player prepare? What does an NFL player do?” You look at those guys. You could see them and go, “This is what I’ve got to do but not just do it. I must become the person who does that.” The more you start focusing on becoming, not just doing, the more you’ll find that the doing comes much easier.
The reason a lot of us fall short is because we say, “What do I do?” We start doing that thing and go, “That’s not who I am.” We’re focused on staying who we are but doing the other things. It’s a complete misalignment. We self-sabotage. When the goal is to say, “I want to become that person,” every step of the direction, you’re getting in more alignment with who you want to become.
I remember looking at your site. It’s been a little bit since I’ve seen it. You worked hard to get in shape. I remember a picture of you with massive muscles. How tall are you?
You had to weigh a lot at that point.
I was 240, 245 pounds.
It was all muscle. You put in a lot of effort to do that but then you ended up getting injured. What does that do to your sense of identity?
It shatters you, unfortunately. It’s this thing if you think about it. Every day, we’re all doing something then we become somebody. At some point in time, we will wake up and whether it was a choice or chance, we can no longer do that thing. For me, it was by chance. For some people, it was by choice to leave the military, a relationship or a business and start a business. What ends up happening when you get to that moment of, “I can’t do this,” the question sets in of, “Who am I without that thing?” It’s a massive like, “Who am I?”
When I was going through this journey, a lot of the time, I didn’t have a sense of where I was, especially when I lost football to an injury. I was in a place like, “Who in the world is Anthony without this football thing?” That became a heavy place. As with most people, I went down the wayside of, “I have nobody. I’m nothing. I’m worthless.” While our head logic tells us, “You’re more than that,” our heart doesn’t feel that because we don’t feel like we’re bringing something of value to the world anymore. I had a massive crisis at that time when the game ended.The more you start having a focus on becoming, not just doing, you'll find that the doing comes much easier. Click To Tweet
I’ve had a lot of people on the show that had major setbacks. They either felt stuck or had a major problem like what you had where they got hurt or some people ended up blind. I have had all kinds. There are 1,500 people I’ve interviewed. I can’t remember. There were so many who had something happened that made them not able to go where they were going. They found that strength to go in a new direction like you did. Why do you think some people need help and you did it for yourself?
I didn’t do it for myself. I’m never doing things alone. What I did was essentially enlist the humans around me in ways that I didn’t realize I was doing at the time. What I did is what I teach people to do. What I teach you to do is a process. It’s called The Shift Method. In that process, however, a lot of it is based on utilizing individuals or humans that are around us in unique ways that are very beneficial and help relationships.
I tapped into the greatest resource we have on this planet to help other people, humans. It’s not always a fun thing. There were times that the conversations were like, “I need you to take a look at my life. Tell me what it is that I am not doing that I should improve upon. What are some areas of my life that you see for me that I don’t see for myself?” Those conversations that were not always fun to be part of, they’re very beneficial.
As I go through, I tell people that the idea is not to try and do it alone in some private room because you don’t want anybody to see you not being perfect, which is tough in this world. Everybody has to be perfect because of social media. It gives you a new sense of hope when you allow someone to see and show you what they see. It feels like pain because it’s like, “They get to see that I’m not the best at this. I’ve been lying about this,” but it’s hope. It’s like, “We see what’s been blocking you. We can get that little roadblock out of the way. We can make some traction.”
That’s why I created my Curiosity Code Index. When I was writing about curiosity, I wanted to figure out what was stopping it so that you could figure out how to move forward. That’s what the step is that a lot of people miss. They don’t look at what it is that’s stopping them. Sometimes it’s hard to get 360-degree evaluations or get input from other people because it feels like criticism. You want to think that you’re doing things well. How do you help people prepare to hear the news they don’t want to hear?
The first is to drop the ego. That’s what the issue is. It’s not criticism. It’s not an attack. It’s honesty. There’s this perception that it’s tough love. I go, “Why do we call it tough love?” Isn’t that real love? Isn’t real love giving you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear? Those who don’t love you will give you things to pacify you. There’s something to hear in that. It does feel like criticism.
The way that I prepare is I tell people, “Your ego is a good thing, but it’s causing a problem.” I call it EGO, Everyone’s Greatest Obstacle. It’s our main barrier. What I tell people is, the idea is to look at it and go like this. The ego shows up in actions to protect our current identity. That’s the problem. When someone gives you feedback, it’s attacking who you see yourself to be in your identity. The ego will protect it by saying, “You’re crazy. I’m good. There’s nothing wrong there. I don’t have any issues.”
When the reality is that ego has a good spot. It’s protecting the bad parts. I was a football player. I protected that identity with my ego by showing up for practices, reading the playbook, working out in practice, lifting weights and eating right. However, when I left the football world because of an injury, that same ego protected parts of my identity that said, “I don’t need any help. I can do it by working hard. I got this. I’m a football player.”
It was protecting a poor part of the identity. If I can tell people, “I need you,” they’re not the trash ego because it has a benefit. It’s useful. Maybe peel back a little bit of the side so I can attack the part of your identity that’s not that great. If we could do that, we can make this protect all amazing parts of an identity. You’re going to hear things that will feel like criticism and an attack. It is not an attack on you. It’s an attack on the poor and undeserving part of your identity.
Do you think, knowing what you know, that you would have still gone into football?
Yes and no. Yes, because there’s something to the game. I’m assuming your prevalent conversation around safety, possibly, but I don’t think that there is a more safe time to ever play the game than now. Back then, no one was thinking about how to tackle penalties, hitting people high, hitting people low and head contact. If you were ever going to play the game, now is the absolute best time health-wise to ever play the game first.
Secondly, because of what I do and what it’s like needing people to see me as an individual of caliber to listen to, I needed to have that pedestal to have got on to. It doesn’t mean I walk around with my chest out and say, “Look at me. I played in the NFL.” That doesn’t mean anything at all. The reality is I do have an extra second to have an opportunity.
Whenever someone comes and says, “This is Anthony Trucks. He does X, Y and Z. He used to play in the NFL,” people’s ears perk up. I get that extra second to have a moment to share something. It does benefit me. What I say is up to me. That, “I played in the NFL,” doesn’t mean I can do anything, but I do see it as an ability for me to get kids to pay attention. For grown men and women to listen up a little bit, to be able to hear for a second and then I can continue on. There are phenomenal benefits to playing the game, not just the ability to tackle and lift weights.
I’m curious how much your family impacted the way you went into football and how you are able to handle this feedback. You were the only child in an all-White family. How was that growing up? Do you think that that had any impact on all of this the way you see things?
There were congruencies. I’m the only athlete in the family. No one else played sports of any kind. I was the outcast. No one cared what I was doing. I paid for football my very first year by myself with a paper route. I had to save up a couple of hundred dollars to do it. There wasn’t this big push. However, it did benefit me because I had this insatiable desire to do more than I saw and be more than I was.
In my family, we have love, but no one in my family had gotten to college, my uncles, cousins and aunts. There’s never this conversation or a circle of college of all of us to go to college. It was more of this desire not to struggle the way my parents did and not to be poor. I didn’t want to be poor. It’s not to say that there’s anything against being a poor person.
I was like, “No.” To see other kids have things and me not having them, I’m like, “I wanted more.” It’s what our society always has desired. How can I go and do more for my friends, my family and later on, provide for my kid differently? There wasn’t a push to be a great athlete, but there was a push to not grow up and continue living the way I grew up.
Did your siblings end up with you or somewhere else?
My actual blood siblings grew up in different places. One sister went to Southern California, one sister was in my same town and other brothers grew up about 45 minutes away from me.
Do you find similarities in your desire to succeed? How much nature and nurture? I’m curious.
It’s a question my family, my wife and I always ask like, “How in the world did I become me? I don’t know.” My siblings don’t do anything like me. No one’s athletic. I’m also the only one with the same dad. My siblings have all the same dad and the same mom. I’m just mom and dad. I’m my own unique little bubble. They broke the mold quite literally when they made me.
I wish I could say there were congruencies, but there weren’t. I’m an oddball in many worlds and many ways. I don’t have any connections in a sense of none of them were athletes and played sports. Two did go to college. Their families put them to school, which is great. I do stand alone in my world of weird.
I can relate to that. It’s what that’s like. If you look back at your grandparents and different things, you never know where you get some of the stuff. Maybe in your dad’s side, you’d find something unusual, perhaps somebody that was obsessed with football or something. It’s fun to look back. What you’re doing is important. A lot of people reading this are probably interested in knowing are you doing this identity shift coaching on an individual term? Is this a group thing like a mastermind? How are you doing this?
The method is the magic. It’s not Anthony. There’s got to be a separation. Some people assume like, “I got to work with Anthony to get the result.” When we come to find, you don’t. You just need to know what the process is that’s extracted from what I’ve created. Very little people do one-on-one with me because I believe you need community.
One of the things that changed my life was the community of my family when I was young, the community of people in my teams when I played sport, the community of my businesses and the team I have around me. What a lot of people lack is a powerful, strong community, which is people and then a process to follow. What I provide people in our coaching are people and process. The process is The Shift Method, what to do and how to do it. There are very specific steps.
The other part of it is the people. We create communities that allow people to engage. I do come in and coach. By all means, I am present. I’m not some distant ghostly figure. I do come in, guide, coach and do Q and A. The power of it comes down to people knowing how to walk through the steps and then having a community of people and our team to coach, guide and support while I coach, guide and support as well. We do have group programs and a very far-stretched one-on-one that I do with no more than six people a year.
Has COVID impacted how you’re doing things?
I have a whole home studio because I can’t always be in person when I do speeches. That was one adjustment. We did build an amazing, beautiful studio at home. I love it. I sit here and look at things. I’m like, “This is a choice.” I never had it before. It was always just me, a table, laptop and camera. That was one part. I did find that it was a good catalyst to moving society’s journey along to accessing the internet to get an education.
While we had talked about how the online world was there, I don’t think anybody understood what online education would look like. It was more of a fast-forward into it. It’s been a humongous benefit in my world and the people I get to work with. They’ve been introduced to Zoom, which I’ve been on since 2015 that people just heard existed. There’s been an assurance that people can connect online because they’ve been missing that in person.
Oddly enough, before the online that shook a lot of people, you were in the world, but you weren’t part of it. When we yearn for that connection, go on Zoom and have these calls, I have found that people feel more connected in this pandemic area. Maybe not in physical proximity, but they are in that, “I see your face. I hear your voice. We talk often. You get to know me. You hear my heart.” There’s so much more connection taking place than ever happened before. It did adjust how I do what I do. Not thoroughly, but it did. It adjusted positively for both sides.We're focused on staying who we are, but doing the other things. It's a complete misalignment. Click To Tweet
I often talk about this with my online students because I’ve taught thousands of online courses since 2006. Sometimes they’ll say, “Can you call me back?” They expect a response within an hour or something, which they usually can get with me. I think back to when I was in college. You were lucky to get an appointment two weeks away. Everything’s so instantaneous now. There’s a good side to this online thing that a lot of people didn’t know because they don’t have the comparative aspect of how it used to be like things that used to be in football have changed. Things online have changed. You talked about the steps of what it takes to do your Shift Method and consulting. A lot of this started with your Trust Your Hustle Pt. 1 book. What’s in that book and how does this tie into what you’re doing?
The book was a way for me to realize that not everybody is going to be able to work with me. Also, I need some way to reach more people with something simplified enough to apply and get a benefit, possibly without ever working with us. With the method in and of itself, which is the magic of it all, I was like, “What if I make this available to everybody?”
I pretty much went in and wrote a book that was designed in a way to understand the concept of identity in a way that most people have never heard of before. I simplified it so people would go, “That’s why.” The other part was designed in a way to show you how to do it. The Shift Method, which is our process, is in the book. Is it everything you need? Maybe not. There’s going to be a ton of self-work that needs to be done.
If you’re committed, the book is enough to get the job done. That’s what the book is designed for. I’m going to teach about the concept of identity and then show you how to make the shift. Making an identity shift isn’t something you just do like, “Great. I did it.” It’s designed. The beauty of it is you transform and elevate your person while achieving something cool.
Most people want to achieve cool things. “I want to make shift happen. I want to do cool stuff. Let’s be honest. I want to make more money. I want to live happier. I want to have a better relationship. I want to feel better about my body. It’s all that stuff.” Most people think, “I have to wait to learn this thing and become this person.” You do it simultaneously. If you plan it properly, you will accomplish what you’re trying to accomplish and at the backend, go, “Look who I am now.”
Why part one? I’m very curious about that.
The first one is not the identity shift. It’s Trust Your Hustle: A Life Forged by Fire. That’s part one because I wrote it before I turned 30 and published it right around my 30th birthday.
How many parts will there be?
I don’t know. Maybe 2, 3 at most. Maybe I’ll do it at 60 and 90. Who knows? The idea was to do something simple like that.
It ties into a lot of my research and speaking. That’s why I was interested in having you on the show. I talk so much about perception, curiosity and psychological types of things that tie into a business setting. A lot of what you do is very similar to that. I was excited to have you on the show. A lot of people are interested in that. A lot of people talk about Pivoting or Quiet and different books that have impacted them. This is unique in identity. I like that. That might be the next book, Identity. You should write that book because I’d like that for a title.
I might write Just Identity.
There’s something there. I had a great conversation with someone who said, “If you read a book with a prologue to it, it’s a conversation.” I can get into the way that flows with some of the talking, I’m seeing both sides of the brain. They were like, “I love the way you wrote that.” It’s not something like a parable. It’s more of like being in his person’s head. It’s incredibly unique. They’re like, “You should read a whole book like that with the same concept and topic. Call it something different but write it like that.” Maybe that should be the topic.
I’d love to read it. A lot of people would love to read your book and find out more about you in general. If they wanted to hire you, how would they find you? Is there a website or something you’d like to share?
Go to IdentityShiftBook.com. You can get the book on Amazon through the link that’s there. If you take that receipt, which has a little number, it’ll bring it back to the same link. There’s a button that says Step 3. Step 1.) Buy the book. Step 2.) Get the receipt. Step 3.) Come back to the website. If you use the code LIVE, you’ll get the free audiobook, workbook and digital book. That allows you to consume it, whether you want to read on your phone or listen to it. The cool thing is that guides you through a deeper dive into our coaching. If someone’s like, “I want to do this work,” you can go do it for free.
Thank you so much for being on the show. This was interesting. I hope a lot of people reach out to you. This was a lot of fun.
I get so many great guests on the show. Sometimes, I want to take a little bit of time to talk about some of the research I do. I’m going to talk to you about perception and some of the work I did with Dr. Maja Zelihic, who is also one of the people I’ve worked with at the Forbes School of Business. She’s been great in this process of researching how perceptions process in our minds, our opinions, our version of the truth, our biases and how we live. What’s in a rose? Would it smell as sweet by any other name? All that we read about.
We looked at what we can do with the perception in the workplace to discuss it. We looked at it as a combination of IQ, EQ, CQ for Cultural Quotient, CQ for Curiosity Quotient. We thought, “This is something that they’re not talking about enough in the workplace.” We talk about perception reality and to what extent our perceptions are true. They’re our perceptions. What is reality to us may not be reality to them. There is a truth to some extent but what’s real and all that, we start to get into this analysis paralysis thinking about it. We thought, “If we’re thinking like this, we need to showcase what others have done to try and look at this.”
The world is changing. We’ve seen The World Is Flat by Thomas Friedman. It’s a great book. We know that we used to think is the reality of everything we thought we could do. It’s different now. We’re becoming more connected. We know that there are a lot more issues with the global tragedies. As companies are trying to do work in a global dot-com industry, it’s a lot different of how we look at things than when I originally got into the workplace or when Maja got into it.
We’re looking at some of our belief systems of what shape us both consciously and unconsciously. If we know that, we can respond more to this multicultural and multi-language world in which we’re living. If we can monitor our perceptions and guide them towards where we want to go or where we don’t want to go and understand what other people believe, maybe not necessarily agree with everything that they believe in, we can understand them and see where they’re coming from.
That way, we manage our perceptions and we’re able to build empathy, which is a big part of emotional intelligence. Maybe you can’t walk a mile in my shoes, but we can have a better appreciation for what it would be like to do that. We looked at what was available in terms of assessments out there, how can we test, validate and do all these things with that.
We came up with a Perception Power Index, which goes along with the book The Power of Perception. Those are the kinds of things that we’re going to talk about. We come into this world with this predisposition to how we view and interpret things. Imagine if you’re born where you are now compared to if you were born somewhere else. We know that with twins that are different. If they were separated at birth, there’s a different upbringing.
We have this cultural impact on how our behaviors, beliefs and everything that we relate to is impacted by our social, ethnic, age group and everything. We’re seeing that there’s a lot more conflict in the world. A lot of it is because we don’t understand each other that well. Something that we don’t even think about is not questionable here in the United States but might be something very questionable in another culture.
Wearing a miniskirt in Brazil is a lot different than wearing that in Saudi Arabia, for example. We have to appreciate where other people are coming from and see that maybe we’re allowing our culture and society to dictate what we think and perceive. I’ve had Joe Laurie on the show. He’s got a great book, A Mind-Opening Journey Across Cultures, where he writes all the different perceptions of things that he’s found in different cultures.
Eye contact in Western cultures is candor and confidence. If you go to Africa, they don’t want to do that because making eye contact with a person of authority, you have got to worry about respect. There are a lot of different issues when you’re talking about Western culture versus other cultures. In Asian cultures, they might use a calculator to negotiate the price of things, but you might not want to do that in some other areas because it may seem disrespectful.
Looking at different areas is fascinating, even how certain hand gestures mean one thing. It might mean AOK in one language and maybe insulting in another culture. A lot of studies look at Western culture versus other cultures and that is worth reviewing. We know that there’s a lot of stereotyping going on. We’re trying to get away from that and from biases.
We have biases. Beau Lotto talked about that on my show. I hope you read that episode about how you need it. You can’t live without some bias to give you some decision-making ability. We have to pay attention to unconscious bias. We got to be careful that we don’t come across as arrogant or condescending.
Saying something like, “Keep it simple, stupid,” might mean one thing in one language. We have that as a saying and it’s not meant to be insulting but if you tell it to somebody else, it could be very insulting. These are the kinds of things that we were looking at when we need to look at cultural quotients, IQ, CQ, our drive, motivation, knowledge, cognition, metacognition and all those things to look at how we come up with these actions or behaviors.Isn't real love giving you what you need to hear not what you want to hear? Those who don't love you will give you things to pacify you. Click To Tweet
Do we have to adapt to customs or should they adapt to ours? Should we be more tolerant of differences? Change is a big thing that we teach in business classes. Being proactive about it is also important. We know that we have these teams where there are in-groupers or out-groupers. We want to try and get people to get along well.
I’ve had Amy Edmondson talking about teams, teaming and how people get along. A lot of collaboration is about having a curiosity to ask questions and learn from each other. We want to look at the path that we’re on that’s similar but also understand the path that we’re on that’s not so similar. Some of the things that impact that, sometimes, are things like spirituality. Whether you’re religious or not, it could be different.
Some people have this impact of how important their spirituality or religion is to them. Other people might be agnostic or atheists. That could completely shape your whole perception of the situation at hand or accidentally insult someone without realizing how important something is to them.
I don’t think many people give a lot of thought to the differences of how much strength they can have in their ideas and the things that they question or don’t question. It can have a big impact because we inherit a lot of beliefs from our family. We personalize our beliefs. We take things that work for us that maybe don’t work for us and we make something around what works in our situation. That can make us think we’re right, they’re wrong and vice versa.
That is a problem in the business world if we don’t examine what these people are coming up with or not coming up with. Having personalized beliefs is fine, but we have to recognize that even though Stephen Covey says spiritual renewal is one of the habits central to effective leadership, we have to look at your greater purpose. What do they think is their greater purpose? What are our values or our ethical principles? What are theirs? What will our legacy be? What is theirs?
Those are the kinds of things that we researched in terms of how people use their religion and spirituality in that. It was also fun to look at gender and see the differences of how people look at paintings. There was a comment we put in the book. Two strangers, a man and a woman, were visiting an art gallery. They found themselves standing next to one another, staring at a painting of an old country estate. It’s replete with an elderly man sitting in a rocking chair on the front porch of a mansion with various barns and outbuildings serving as background.
The woman, without prompting, commented, “What a beautiful painting. It’s so serene and peaceful. It’s a beautiful blend of man and nature.” The man commented in response, “That barn looks like it’s in dire need of a paint job.” We both look at the same thing but we see different aspects. It’s not that one’s right and one’s wrong.
It could be the opposite way round. It could be the man seeing the great thing and the woman saying the opposite. We don’t want to stereotype necessarily, but it’s interesting that men and women see things a little bit differently. There are psychological differences. These have been documented, including differences in their brains.
We hear gender bias. We know studies show women are viewed, treated and paid differently. We know there’s a predominance in the number of men compared to women in executive positions. Those are the kinds of things that are important for leaders to recognize. We have to know the origins of all this and why we see things through these different lenses. We know that men’s brain is structurally different than the female brain. That’s a fascinating thing to look at in itself. We’re not going to exactly see things in the same way.
There’s a book, a New York Times bestseller called The Female Brain. It’s from Dr. Louann Brizendine. She’s a neuropsychiatrist. She also later wrote The Male Brain. She guides you through how the brains of each gender differ and how they shape our behaviors from the time we’re infants, all the way into adulthood.
The women’s perceptions of behaviors are different than men’s mostly due to hormones. We do have different hormones. We know the women have more estrogen and progesterone, even though we have testosterone, not as much as the men. It goes all the way back to some of these hormones and how they influence us.
I talked to Tom Peters on the show. That’s a great show if you get a chance to look at it. He talked about the female brain and he recalled an article. It was from Duke University basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski. It was in The Sunday Times Magazine section. He described how that coach, often referred to as Coach K, would bring his wife to all the team meetings. He said the reason was that she would see what was going on in the players’ lives that he didn’t notice. She would notice the smell problem of a girlfriend 100 miles away or some kind of distraction. He didn’t think men psychologically saw those things. He found it fascinating as an observation.
There are differences. If we pretend like we’re no different, that doesn’t work. We get uncomfortable. If we look at that as one thing being better than another, that’s also uncomfortable. It’s important to recognize that these things are part of us and that we’re intended to be different. We’re not intended to be exactly the same. Life may be super boring if it was that way. I thought that that would be something that you talk about in the workplace of what we can get.
We know that the percentage of women in the workplace is increasing. The rate of women occupying key roles in the workplace is on the rise. Women are being hired into leadership roles more often than they were as CEOs at an increasing rate. We’d like to see it higher. We know that women are bringing different perceptions into the workplace. Those are different aspirations.
It is an interesting thing to look at how genetically wired we are. We’re wired differently right from birth. These differences are spawning this ground for this history of beliefs and stereotypes of how we’re taught to view each other. We’re carving a different road for ourselves, the women versus the men. It’s important to know that we’re evolving.
When we’re doing that, we’re impacted by our intelligence in this process. If we look at intelligence, we talk about IQ and EQ. If we’re thinking of intelligence, it’s what we know and how we apply what we know. We know that we need to be able to use our intelligence to understand how to relate with one another. We know that our intelligence and perceptions evolve in different ways. There’s this perceptual intelligence of fluid versus crystallized intelligence that comes about.
There’s some great work by Raymond Cattell, who talked about that if you ever get a chance to read some of his work. There are all these different types of what we learn and how it changes over time. It’s a very important thing to look at. Also, Howard Gardner is very heavily cited in the area of types of intelligence. It used to be that we thought we only had one kind. He studied all these different types of abilities that we have.
You could have naturalistic intelligence, musical, logical and mathematical, existential, bodily-kinesthetic, verbal or linguistic, interpersonal, visual, spatial and the list goes on. To say somebody is smart is hard to do because there are these different types of ways of being smart. How do you value that intelligence? What’s important in your culture for that type of intelligence?
That was interesting to us as we went through all the different ways that we grow, learn and apply what we know. We also looked at emotions, as in emotional intelligence in that aspect as well. I had written my doctoral dissertation on emotional intelligence and that’s such a huge area. It was so great to have Daniel Goleman on the show to talk about emotional intelligence. If you haven’t read that episode, I highly recommend it.
Emotions play a big part in how we make decisions. Empathy is a big part of emotional intelligence. If we have empathy, sometimes that ties into curiosity. We’re asking questions to learn more about each other. Our emotions can be different across cultures. You have different studies between Japanese and American subjects. They found facial expressions and non-verbal behaviors vary significantly between them.
I had Paul Ekman on the show. The TV show Lie to Me was based on his work. There are certain expressions that we all make that are the same, whether you’re blind or not. I thought that was fascinating. My father was born blind. It’s interesting what things we have similar and then other things that are completely different. It’s conceptually different based on the way you grow up and the influences around you of how you respond to your emotions.
Your emotions can make you perceive failure differently, either. Some of us have the fight or flight response. Some of us will run from it or run to it. Most of us have that sense that failure is not our favorite thing. Our perception of failure can influence how much we explore things and ask questions. It gets back into curiosity again.
I tell a story in my talks, in my head and I wrote one in the book about different experiences. Sometimes you’re in a sales presentation where you get your rear-end handed to you. You might be on a call with your partner. Your partner thinks it’s the worst thing in the world, while you might think it’s the best thing because you’ve learned everything you need to know how to fix your next presentation.
If you don’t learn these things, sometimes your perception will get you down and you’ll quit. You have to learn from failure. If you don’t, you’re going to end up being the glass-half-empty person and you won’t move forward. You’ll stay where you are and move backward. That’s what we’re trying to avoid by understanding perception.
The other thing that we looked at when we were looking at perception was whether if it’s your reality or not. I’m looking at some of the perception experts, especially Beau Lotto. I love his TED Talks. I know he was on the show. He talked about a lot of great things on the show. If you want to know perception versus reality, I would look at some of that because it’s fascinating.
Talking about perception, you need to talk about collaboration. Collaboration is a required skillset in the workplace. If you’re being hindered by your perceptions, there are so many variables. Think of the questions we ask ourselves. Does this project intrigue us? Does it motivate us? Do we like our teammates? Do we like our leader? Do we like the role that we’ve been given? If you look at all this and you’re getting mixed reasons for why you like something or don’t like something, a lot of it could be your perception of it.
When we talk about collaboration, I always think about Amy Edmondson’s TED Talk. That ties into how they got the Chilean miners out in that disaster. These people were able to work together and collaborate. They maybe had different perceptions, but they knew that it was life or death, in this case, to help people get out from under that rock.
Understanding that perception is critical to collaboration, getting people to work together and being innovative and creative is interesting. We’re talking about how much we have problems. Gallup says we’re losing $500 billion a year on engagement. We know that people want to be collaborative. If we don’t have this ability to get along, that’s going to be huge. We want people to be creative and see things differently.
I love the Dead Poets Society movie. Robin Williams had the students get on top of their desks to look at life in a different way. He said to make life extraordinary, you have to make a difference. You must see things differently. That’s a key point that a lot of people always are looking at things from their vantage point. They don’t get on top of their desks and look at things from another way.
I’ve done a lot of training classes where we’ve given Legos and we’ve had people build things as teams in collaborative ways. It’s fun to see them get ideas from each other and go, “I would have never looked at it that way.” Maybe you aren’t a big fan of teams. Sometimes it’s helpful to get on a team with people who are completely different from you are. If everybody thinks the same way, life’s boring.
It helps to look at things from a critical thinking standpoint to do research. How did these people do this? How have they made it successful? What facts support their argument? What’s the source of their information? How did they come to that conclusion? We’re back to curiosity again. Those are the kinds of questions we need to ask ourselves. I don’t think we get enough of that.
There are a lot of people who want to take things at face value based on what they’ve always known and what supports the values that they’ve always had. That’s common for people. You watch CNN, Fox or whatever that supports your values because it makes you comfortable. It is important to get curious and get outside. Our perception suggests we know something, but our curiosity proves that we don’t. We need to know what we don’t know.
A lot of people aren’t asking enough questions. That’s the kind of thing that in the book Cracking the Curiosity Code is a huge part of changing the culture in organizations. I often talk a lot about that to groups. If we can ask more questions, we can get better at decision-making. Decision-making can be challenging. I love a quote by Deepak Chopra where he says, “If you obsess over whether you’re making the right decision, you’re assuming that the universe will reward you for one thing and punish you for another.”If you plan it properly, you will accomplish what you're trying to accomplish, and at the backend go, “Look who I am now.” Click To Tweet
If you think about that, you always think you have the right or the wrong thing. It’s not necessarily the case. There are shades of gray. Not everything is black and white. That’s what I find particularly fascinating in the research that we did for trying to fix all the things in work. We’re trying to fix engagement. You’re losing $500 billion a year according to Gallup. When people are financially invested, they want a return but when people are emotionally invested, they want to contribute.
What we need to do is get people emotionally invested at work and contributing. Part of that is to ask questions and understand each other better. If you’re asking questions again, we’re back to empathy, which is a big part of emotional intelligence. We’re getting that perception of the other person’s ideas. We’re seeing it not just from our own standpoint but from theirs.
Some of the questions that we need to ask to improve engagement are like, “Do my employees filter growing in their work? Are they being recognized for their work? Do they trust the companies on the right track?” Those are some of the things that lead to great communication. I had Kevin Kruse on the show. He has a great book and information about engagement and that’s helpful. All this is so that we can be better leaders and better employees.
Sometimes, we have to suspend our beliefs, be agile, and look in some of the words that we hear a lot about vulnerability. Brené Brown has made a lifelong career out of that. A lot of people don’t feel comfortable doing that. That’s what led to our interest in looking at the perception process and how we can manage our perceptions. Creating an assessment would be an important and epic decision of how we can help people understand that what they go through.
What does the process look like? We found that it’s about evaluating, predicting, interpreting, reshaping and correlating one’s perceptions. The EPIC acronym we came up with is Evaluation, Prediction, Interpretation and Correlation. If you take the Perception Power Index, you will find out how you are doing in those areas. What could you do to improve your EPIC process?
If you’ve taken the Curiosity Code Index, it’s very simple. You get your results right away. You can find out a lot more about how well you go through this process and what kinds of things are holding you back. If you get a baseline of, “This is how I am at this,” then you know how to move forward. Let’s look at some of these because in evaluation, you’re going to examine, assess and do a lot of these different things that you can recognize if you’re open to thoughts or ideas. You look at it from your own perspective of your self-awareness. This one is more in that respect.
If you applied this element of emotional intelligence, this self-awareness, then you’re going to get along better. You’re going to be able to be more aware of how you come across to other people. That’s a lot of a problem. I see a lot of people don’t recognize body language, issues, tone or if they’re typing in all caps. There are all these different things they can do to how they come across and they don’t realize it.
They can predict how the other person’s going to act. In a way, that’s another part of emotional intelligence. It’s their interpersonal awareness of are they able to understand the other person, where they’re coming from, what their perception is, their capabilities and abilities and how they make decisions. It is very challenging to predict what other people are going to do if you don’t look into what they’re doing, have empathy, ask questions and have that sense of emotional intelligence.
It’s only then that you can make your interpretation. In your interpretation, you have to consider how all of this impacts their decision. Curiosity comes into this. You’re making assumptions and you’re looking at how their fear is impacting them. A lot of this ties back into their culture of how they were raised. We know that behavior and different things are not rewarded in certain systems. We need to look at that. How did their culture shape them? How did the company culture shape them?
It’s about assessing and understanding your own emotions for the EPIC part. The I is more about putting it collectively together and interpreting what you know. You end with your conclusions. Correlation is your final C of the EPIC process. When you have all this, you can come up with your solutions and conclusions. After researching your facts, this is the critical thinking aspect of it all.
We know that there are so many great ideas that come out. If you don’t go to the part where you end it with coming up with the idea, taking what you’ve learned in this group setting and changing a little bit of your behavior so you can have a win-win situation, you haven’t come to any kind of conclusion that’s going to be good for everybody. Those are some of the main points that we make in what we’re talking about in this EPIC process and this power of perception.
This would be something critical to share. You can take the Perception Power Index at DrDianeHamilton.com. All of the assessments are there. You can take the Curiosity Code Index and the Perception Power Index. You can even take DISC and emotional intelligence tests. A lot of that is all there. If you don’t see it in the drop-down menus at the top, there are more menus at the bottom. I hope you contact me if you have any questions. I hope that this helps you understand perception a little better.
I like to thank Anthony for being my guest. We have so many great guests. If you’ve missed any past episodes, please go to DrDianeHamilton.com. I hope you join us for the next episode.
- Anthony Trucks
- Identity Shift
- Trust Your Hustle Pt. 1: A Life Forged by Fire
- Curiosity Code Index
- Identity Shift
- Dr. Maja Zelihic
- The World Is Flat
- Perception Power Index
- The Power of Perception
- Joe Laurie – Past episode
- A Mind-Opening Journey Across Cultures
- Beau Lotto – Past episode
- Amy Edmondson – Past episode
- The Female Brain
- The Male Brain
- Tom Peters – Past episode
- Raymond Cattell
- Daniel Goleman – Past episode
- Paul Ekman – Past episode
- Cracking the Curiosity Code
- Kevin Kruse – Past episode
About Anthony Trucks
Anthony Trucks is a former NFL player turned transformational identity shift coach. He is the CEO of Identity Shift, creator of the Shift Method, and the author of Trust Your Hustle Part 1: A Life Forged by Fire. Whether he is coaching, speaking, writing, consulting, or podcasting, he helps people achieve a transitional shift to reach their full potential.
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