Michael O'Brien, Shift, Soul Roadmap Podcast, Dina Cataldo, executive coaching, corporate coaching, morning rituals, visualization

#56: Shift Your Identity to Live the Life You’re Meant For with Michael O’Brien

Have you been following the script you learned when you were young?

If you’re anything like me, you’re going to hear a lot of yourself in Michael O'Brien's story.
I was taught to value the grind of hard work, and it took huge life events for each of us – which we talk about during our conversation – to shake things up in our lives for the better. And to stop living by the script that others have written for our lives.

In this episode you'll learn:

  • Why Michael has something called his “last bad day”
  • The reality of dealing with triggers
  • How to fight the busy battle
  • The fear of judgment
  • About Michael's experiences with the emotions we never talk about
  • How he works with corporate executive to address the emotions we don't talk about
  • How to reframe your day with rituals
  • The practical side of visualization (a la Lindsey Vonn)
  • Recovery and mindset
  • And more (of course)

Michael and I would both love it if you could tag us on instagram in your stories – maybe take a pic of you listening to the podcast. You can tag us @michaelobrienshift and @dina.cataldo  



Dina Cataldo: 00:37 Hello my friend. I am so excited to introduce you to my new friend who has an inspiring story that will move you to take action to make the change you need most in your life. Before we get started today, I want to encourage you to go to my website. If you haven't already, go to DinaCataldo.com there you will find free resources to help you take action in any of your endeavors. Whether you're a lawyer or any other driven professional or entrepreneur, you're going to find free resources on the homepage as well as under the resources tab. And if you're ready for even more, I have a work with me tab that outlines the self guided one on one coaching programs that I have available for you and I'll be launching another round of the Lawyers Soul Roadmap Group coaching program in the next couple of months. So if you want to be the first to hear when that comes out and when I have a new free masterclass, be sure to sign up for updates there too.

Dina Cataldo: 01:39 Okay, let's talk a bit more about today's episode and my guest, Michael O'Brien. If you're anything like me, you're going to hear a lot of yourself in his story. I was taught to value the grind of hard work and it took huge life events for each of us, which we talk about during our conversation to shake things up in our lives for the better. Not only does Michael share and inspiring story, which he gets into in detail in our conversation, and even more so in his book shift, creating better tomorrows, winning at work and in life, but he shares some practical tools that each of us can implement right now to make our lives better. We talk about the mindset shifts that he had to make to redesign his life and how you can use the same tools in your life. And I'll link to his book in the show notes at dinacataldo.com/56 all of the proceeds go to world bicycle relief mobilizing people through the power of bicycles. They help people all over the globe bridge the distance in rural areas to get to more educational, economic, and health care opportunities. So I think it's a very worthy cause. He, I would both love it if you can tag us on Instagram in your stories. Maybe take a pic of you listening to the podcast and you can tag us @Michael O'BrienShift and @Dina.Cataldo. He does a great job introducing himself. So let's just go right into our conversation.

Dina Cataldo: 03:19 Good Morning Michael, how are you doing today?

Michael O'Brien: 03:22 I'm doing great, Dana. Thanks for having me. I'm been looking forward to this all week, so I'm totally stoked.

Dina Cataldo: 03:30 Oh, sweet! I love that.

New Speaker: 03:30 I'm totally pumped, since the first time we chatted. I was like, “this is a woman that I want to connect with. “

Michael O'Brien: 03:36 Cause I think you're doing like amazing stuff and yeah, I'm thrilled.

Dina Cataldo: 03:39 Oh my gosh, thank you so much. You know when we started talking, you know, read your books shift and I knew that we have a lot of commonalities and a lot of, you know, our messages are similar but you have a very unique way of sharing your story and I can't wait to share that with people today. So cool. Awesome. Super stoked.

Michael O'Brien: 04:04 Cool.

Dina Cataldo: 04:05 Okay. Can you just introduce yourself a little bit to the people listening?

Michael O'Brien: 04:09 Sure. I'm a father of two Austin daughters who are 18 and 21 which I have a hard time believing cause they are still my little girls but now they're women. I'm married 25 years, so great marriage. And then I'm also by profession and executive coach and a speaker. And you referenced my book. So I'm an author, but before this wonderful world of helping executives show up differently at work, I spent 22 years in corporate America from roles as individual contributors, sales rep to the head of North America for a Japanese multinational company. So I had the US, Canada and Mexico. So I've seen everything in corporate America from the lowest levels to the executive suite and points in between. And now because of my last bad day, which we'll get into, I know I try to help other people how'd their last bad day. So which is, I think I'm part of the reason why I live that day.

Dina Cataldo: 05:04 Part of what I really enjoy about your message in the book and you know, the conversations that we've had is creating that shift in identity that we have and it's an unconscious identity for the most of us. Four, so many years. We work really hard and I know, you know, lawyers listening and other professionals listening can relate to this is we are taught, that's the harder we work, the more successful we will become. But we never actually think about, okay, what does success mean to us personally and what does that look like in our life and how do we feel? So I know we're going to be touching on some of that today.

Michael O'Brien: 05:43 Absolutely. That was a big part of my stories that I was following the script that I thought society wanted me to follow. You know, you work your butt off in high school to get to the, the college, do you go to the college, you get degree and then you find the job and then you, you know, find the girl and marry the girl and start a family and work your way up the corporate ladder and that's what society wants you to do. And I was following that, but I wasn't necessarily like living my life with any type of consciousness. To your point, you know, it's more of this unconscious like, yeah, okay, that's what you do. And for me that just wasn't fulfilling. And then yes, that big life event really was that day where everything changed when I realized, Hey, you can live by a different script.

Dina Cataldo: 06:30 Um, you know, not to tease listeners too much about your last bad day. I just want to give some context for this because I think it makes such an important distinction between your life before and your life after. And I want to just kinda, get a taste of what your feelings were before and your feelings were after about what you were doing and how you were showing up in your life.

Michael O'Brien: 07:00 Yeah, great question. Dina. So if you had met me before my accident, like life on the surface, right? If we had linkedin back in or Facebook and you did like some cyberstalking, you'd be like, Hey, this guy seems to have a good career. And they did. I was the product manager for our company's biggest products. So I had a high profile job. My daughters were three and a half years old and seven months old at the time. Married seven years. So no nice house, bye. All pictures. It looked like, hey, living the American dream looks all good, but what was happening privately? All right, cause my story isn't, yeah. You know, living down by the river and a trailer, right. That's not like I went to a good school. I had a good Gig, had a good family. Well, what I was doing privately was playing superman at work because I was a leader and I thought leaders are supposed to have all the answers. And I was playing superman at home because I was the provider and I was the patriarch. I was the dad, I was the husband, and I thought, well they have to have all the answers to at home. So here I was playing superman and playing superman. That's a tough gig.

Michael O'Brien: 08:06 And I wasn't really cut out for it. None of us are. And what I was doing was pouring a lot of stress inside of me, but I was pretending maybe it's the fake it to make it, but I wasn't making it like I'm good, I'm chill, I'm relaxed, I'm all good. Right? I got this right. But privately I was just pouring the stress inside corn stress inside and I was doing this whole chasing happiness thing that I see so many people do. Even today in 2019 where they sort of sentence, I'll be happy when I'll be happy when I get promoted, I'll be happy when I get out of college. I'll be happy when I get my first job. I'll be happy when I by that car, I'll be happy when whatever is over or whenever it happens and I was happy. Like I bought that new car and I was happy for a moment and then I realized that car is really expensive to maintain.

Michael O'Brien: 08:56 It wasn't paper finish line. I got happy like after I got promoted multiple times, but then I realize, well more levels, more doubles and then I went back to chasing happiness. So I was doing all this happiness chasing instead of just being happy and almost pulling out of a page from Zig Ziglar. There's do have the way of living where the do is, we call it now like the hustle and grind. Right. You know, like you got to work 24 seven, three 65 do, do, do, you're on your hamster wheel and you're doing all that to have stuff, status, promotions, material goods and then, but only then will you be whatever you'll be a leader, be happy, be grateful, fill in the blank, you can do it. And I was doing that, do have B way of living my life, but I was doing it privately and I didn't want to share it really with anyone that I was like, Hey I got all the stress building up and you know this, you know with the people you serve and just, we all know it. Like if you pour it enough gunk in your vessel, sooner or later it's going to go somewhere. And for me it literally and figuratively went somewhere.

Dina Cataldo: 10:04 Yeah, I can totally relate to that. That was exactly how I was doing in my life. I'm like, it was, you know, before precancer exactly my mindset. So can you share with us this last bad day? Cause I think we've teased it enough.

Michael O'Brien: 10:23 We'll give everyone what that day is. We had a meeting, a pretty traditional company offsite meeting that many of your listeners have been too in the past. You fly out to somewhere. In this case it was rural New Mexico in between Santa Fe and Albuquerque. You fly out on Monday, you fly back home on Friday and inbetween they're going to try to torture you with powerpoints.

Dina Cataldo: 10:45 Mmhhmm.

Michael O'Brien: 10:46 And I thought, all right, well New Mexico I this bucket list thing or living listing of riding my bike and everyone in the states. I had not crossed off New Mexico yet, so I was like, I'm going to bring my bike out. I was training for a race and I thought it was going to be really smart. I would avoid the hotel gym. I would be the smartest guy at the meeting and I found this rate loop out the back of the hotel up. The main drag was two miles better. If I did 10 laps 20 miles and I can go into a meeting all smog and be like, yeah, I worked out, I rode my bike outside. What did you guys do? You slept in.

Dina Cataldo: 11:18 right? Like we always have to like one up.

Michael O'Brien: 11:20 Yeah. It was totally like one up, like I brought my bike. Can you guys just brought your golf clubs? You're going, you're a walk. The course. I was going to be like, oh, like you know, I'm the athlete, right? I'm at fourth lap. I came around the bend and what was staring right at me charging right at me was a Ford explorer. It had crossed the center line of the road. He was slowly in my lane as you know, Dina. And he was not moving. I looked up, I was like, he's going to see me. He's gonna see me. He's gonna move. And he never, and I remember the sound of me hitting his grill and then the sound I made as I went through the windshield, I broke a hole through the windshield, the screech of his brakes. And then the thought I made when I came to the asphalt below and I got knocked unconscious eyes.

Michael O'Brien: 12:07 Everyone could imagine. But I did do this. Like when I regained my consciousness, all the aunties were around. So I was very fortunate. Call it universe, call it God, whatever DMTs work at the hotel that we're staying at. So I was able to get care pretty quickly. I was only about a quarter of a mile away from the hotel at in time. And when I regained my consciousness and I could tell like one I was in the worst pain of my life, just the thought of moving was painful and I could tell I was seriously hurt and obviously really confused and disoriented, but I did ask this question that only another cyclist can truly appreciate. I asked the EMT like, how's my bike?

Michael O'Brien: 12:48 So any cyclists out there listening will know. He's like, yeah, that's the question that we always ask. And it was my attempt, as pitiful as it is to cut the tension in the situation with a little humor because I knew things were grim and not by what the EMT is we're saying or not saying it was just you could feel it in the air. They had a lot of concern and I was like, this is not how the story is supposed to play out. This is not the script. And I just remember willing myself not to fall asleep because I thought if I fell asleep or lost consciousness really that I would lose control over the situation. And eventually they called the helicopter to bring me to the trauma center at Albuquerque and the University of New Mexico. And as I got put onto the helicopter for my 19 minute flight, I told myself, if you live life is going to be different, you're going to stop chasing happiness.

Dina Cataldo: 13:40 You know when you said that about this wasn't supposed to be this script like this was not supposed to be it. That is the control that we think we have over our life just personified.

Michael O'Brien: 13:54 Oh yeah. I was so, you know, I was, there was a mixture of emotions is one can imagine like there was like scared to death, you know, talking about fear. Like that's a real fear. But I was also angry. I was like, no, the script, I was following the script, I was doing exactly what I was supposed to be doing and then this happened and it wasn't like a, you know, life before my eyes type of movie reel. Like a lot of people ask me that. Certainly I was thinking about my wife, I was thinking about my girls. I was also thinking about what are my colleagues and to say because I'm going to be late for the meeting. I was worried about that is crazy. Is that crazy thought? Like why are you even thinking that? I can look back now and just really wonder. But that's what I was concerned about because I didn't want them to judge me cause you know, I was dealing with a lot of stuff inside, but I really was, I was angry because I was following the script. I was doing exactly what a good little citizen should be doing and the script just got changed on me and no one told me it was going to get changed. At least that's what I thought in the moment.

Dina Cataldo: 14:58 Yeah. And you also mentioned judgment there and that was something that I very much identified with because my surgeon had to tell me over the phone that I had cancer because I was just not going to come in to do a follow up appointment. I was too busy. I needed to do these trials and I didn't want to be judged for, you know, not working my behind off like everybody else was and not making time for these doctor's appointments. That seemed unimportant when I needed to do this job. And yeah, feeling that moment when I have that information that I had cancer, but not even being able to process at saying, no, I still need to do my job and make sure that I'm following everything I need to do to take care of this trial and handed over. Then I can take care of myself. Like this fear of judgment that I think so many of us struggle with without recognizing it. Can you explain a little bit about your feelings and maybe experiences with that?

Michael O'Brien: 15:59 Yeah, so grateful that you just share that because it gets into the value of self care and how when we feel like we're going to get judged, we don't want to get judges like not working hard or being lazy and then what we do is we think it's tough too. Basically not invest in self care for ourselves, like going to the doctor that we need to go to. Doing that follow up. And early in my career I would do the same thing. I wouldn't go to the doctor. I blew past all the signs that I think the universe or whomever was trying to send me. I blew past him. I didn't even really see them cause I had my head down just like on my hamster wheel, grinding away and not investing in self care. So the judgment piece, you know, I really, you know, some of it came from a little imposter syndrome or maybe a lack of confidence, you know, again, try to put that mask in armor on like I'm all that I'm good, I'm fine.

Michael O'Brien: 16:55 You know, I have this title, I got to behave a certain way. I have to behave as a script demands. Right. That this title, this person sort of carries himself or herself this way. Right. I would say going back to even some of the like post traumatic seventh grade moments, right. Not fitting in or feeling judged. You know, sometimes those stay with us. If we don't learn how to process them and let those go, we bring those forward into our adult lives and so then we're trying to chase this feeling of acceptance as far as like we belong and not necessarily having that balance where we're like, yeah, we do fit in. You know, we're part of this community, we're part of this community because we're another human being and we're connected that way. So I worried about that a lot privately though, and I would never want to share it with people.

Michael O'Brien: 17:42 I was just like, I got this covered, I'm going to be able to handle it. I got this. I don't need help because back then I thought asking for help, guys are sort of guilty of this from time to time, but asking for help was a sign of weakness. This is before we met Bruno [inaudible] and a whole bunch of other wonderful personalities out there and researchers. I thought if you asked for help was a sign of weakness and if you are a week you didn't have the jets for the job. What I realize now asking for help. It's really an action that brings you closer to people. It builds community, it builds relationships, and it has nothing to do with how strong you are or how weak you are. It's really about your openness to say, Hey, I want to learn and I want to connect with you. I want to get a little bit closer to you, but I was not in that mindset before my accident.

Dina Cataldo: 18:30 I recognize that I was not in touch with any of the emotions that you just went through, that I had zero connection with my emotions and I can't imagine that I'm alone in that, but there are so many people out there who are completely disconnected with any emotions that are going on in them. And it takes that moment in time when you are just rock bottom. For me, it was cancer for you here last bad day. But you know what's so admirable about what I think you're doing, and I'm trying to do this too, is try to get people to connect with what's going on in their lives so that they can recognize their feelings. Derecognize recognize what's happening in their life right now and not have to face something like that. So can you kind of put a voice to what you do with the people that you work with in corporate situations?

Michael O'Brien: 19:25 Yeah. Coming out of my ICU stay after that first surgery I spent four days in the ICU is I came out of the ICU. I learned about the extent of my injuries and also just the driver had a revoked license. He wasn't supposed to be driving. And when the doctors do need a picture for me that life was going to be full of dependency and limitations and more pain and suffering. I went darker. I told myself or made a commitment that I was gonna live life differently. I'll stop chasing happiness. I wanted a different life if I live well. I knew coming out of the ICU I was going to make it, but they were painting a picture like how you're going to make it going to be completely different than how you think you weren't going to. So I went darker and this gets into choice, right?

Michael O'Brien: 20:10 So it's a choice to be aware. It's a choice to sort of pay attention to your emotions and still at that moment in time, I wasn't aware, I was sort of letting the tail wag the dog and I went to a dark place. What I realized going into my recovery a bit deeper and when I finally came back to New Jersey that I knew I had to get my mind right if I wanted to get my body right. You know, so often, you know, we talk about like we're going to worry ourselves sick and I was like, well if you can worry yourself sick by can't you think yourself well, right. The whole mind body connection is a powerful one. And I knew that I had to shift my, if I want to do this degree shift that health of my body. And so what I do now with corporate executives is trying to bring more awareness into how they show up at work, call it mindfulness, that point of awareness.

Michael O'Brien: 21:01 I like what's happening and also maybe why it's happening. Like why are certain people in our lives like why is this struggle front and center for us? Also the value of acceptance because early on I was arguing with reality. Like I wanted things privately to be different. And then I had to realize like I got hit. This is real. It's like this, right? This is what happened. I can spend a whole bunch of energy in calories trying to wish it was different, but I had to finally figure out I had to accept what was or what is before I can move forward. So with a lot of my executives, we work on awareness, we work on acceptance. So then eventually we can get to a different type of action. You know, an action that allows them to shift their perspective on what they see and how they think it, which then allows them to build greater connection at work is ultimately any leader has to get things done through others. So we need connection. We need strong relationships in order to build like a really valuable tribe or culture or my language, like a valuable Peloton in the work community.

Dina Cataldo: 22:05 I'm looking at your book, I have a bunch of things tabbed here…

Michael O'Brien: 22:07 Oh Wow.

Dina Cataldo: 22:09 Yeah, see, I like read books You know, for the authors that I talk to because it gives insight for me into how your brain works. I'm fascinated by the brain and how we process things and some of the misinterpretations that our brain makes when we're young and that we carry on throughout our lives. So the storytelling, the storytelling, and so I was looking through here and seeing all of those things that I've been learning over the years that you've clearly gone through everything and then the mindset shifts that you had to make to get from that point of being in control and not asking for help and moving towards this more open, vulnerable space that anyone who's a lawyer in corporate America or anything we are told do not be vulnerable. You have to have an armor up or people are going to take advantage of you, that you are not going to be taken seriously, that your life is going to fall apart. That to that point of control. So I know you had your last bad day, but where do you feel that you hit that point? There's so much that happens between then and processing what happened and processing that something different needs to happen in your life. What was it that really inspired you to say, you know what, I can change my mindset about this. Was there anything that really inspired you to do things differently?

Michael O'Brien: 23:41 Yes. So there was one moment during a rehab session. Yeah. I looked and was asking this question like why are some people getting better faster than me? So again, it was a little bit of comparison even in that moment, right? So I suffered a little bit from comparisonitis like what do I have in versus what everyone else had. So the moment was triggered by why are some people getting better faster than me? And then I realized, well, they're mindset is different about whatever injury that brought it into Kessler's institute for rehabilitation. So in that moment I knew I had to shift my mindset, but for me as you read, it wasn't a light switch moment. It wasn't linear. It was like I made that commitment to like, all right, the next day I'm going to start my new routine. I did make a commitment that July 11th would be my last bad day.

Michael O'Brien: 24:29 I found gratitude because I realized, well, I still had a bunch of things I could still do in my life, micro as they may have been in that moment. I still had aspects of my life that could be grateful for. And if I have gratitude in my life, then I can certainly put that last by day as my last bad day. So that was the day where I decided to say, okay, we're going to do this differently. But it was choppy and wonky from that day, even to today. Now I had challenging moments. I had some challenging days, but at the end of every day since that point in time, I knew if I had my daughters and my wife, if I had my wife and my life, and how can I ever call that day at that day, like I still had the people who love me around me. And so if you have community, then I find it hard to say I'm going to label that as a bad day.

Michael O'Brien: 25:20 But I certainly have had those challenging moments. So sad moments. I've had some ups and downs. And what I do believe in is that, you know, change happens. I know we're all looking for the big hack and the big secret, the magic beans or the magic wand or the shortcut. But change happens when we show up with awareness and mindfulness and we make those micro adjustments and we work hard on those and have some discipline on those day in and day out. And we string together a few days, which then strings together a few weeks and then a few months and then we look back and we're like, oh wow, we're making a lot of change. So like even to today, like I wake up today with intentionality to say I'm gonna work hard today. That work ethic is still there. I'm not going to like dampen that with any of the people I touch.

Michael O'Brien: 26:06 So we're going to work hard, but we're gonna work hard on the things that truly matter who we want to become. How do we want to change lives out there? What's the ripple effect that we want to sort of cast out into society and work on that stuff and that's going to help us create a better tomorrow and then the next day we're going to do it again. You know, with intentionality because we get another crack at this and even if the other day wasn't perfect because some days aren't, we can choose our labels. One of the things I learned through my recovery is at all the events in our lives are neutral until we label them well, we're so damn quick to label them and today's society we will label them good or bad or right or wrong and we don't pause long enough to say, well maybe there's a different way of looking at that day or maybe there's a different way of looking at this situation or this case. Maybe I just want to spend an extra second just thinking about is there a different perspective and with that, that can trigger or spark better conversation and we can get curious with each other and maybe we see someone else's point of view or maybe we just see a different point of view in ourselves and then with that maybe a different option and then hopefully more success and perhaps more happiness.

Dina Cataldo: 27:17 Oh there's so much that you just said right now that I want to unravel. I think that what you said about showing up every single day and that there's bumps along the road is so important for people to hear. When we are stuck in that place of feeling like we need to control that we need to show up in a certain way to give an impression because we feared judgment. We are saying that everything needs to go according to plan. We can have a plan, we can have thoughts about a plan, but we show up and we have to let go of some of that control that we've cultivated over the years because we don't have control over everything and we are going to quote unquote fail. The big thing is, and it sounds so trite, me saying this out loud, is like we have to get back up and we got to just keep plugging along and showing up every single day doing our best, knowing that we're doing the best that we can in that moment.

Dina Cataldo: 28:18 But if we don't like just show up. If we don't just ask for help. If we don't do the things that are uncomfortable, if we're not doing things that gear up, all those emotions that were scared to have because they don't deal, quote unquote good, then we're never going to make that progress. We're never going to get out of that trap of that false thought of having control. And when we let go of some of that, it feels good, but we don't know enough. I think this is my personal opinion. We're not taught that when we're young. And so we never recognize that to open up about our feelings. Loosen up a little bit about this thought of as control that we're ever going to get to. Any other place of success or happiness. If we just work from that place of alignment, an act out of it, what is going to be the next best step for me right now?

Michael O'Brien: 29:10 Yeah. I love what you just said. There's a great, I think tie into one of our greatest addictions that we have as a society. Yeah. We don't talk about all that much. You know, we talk about obviously Pain Med addiction, which is obviously in the news, but we also have this addiction to being right. And in ways we look at the world through like a scarcity lens. So in order for me to win Dina, you have to lose. And sometimes in life those situations do pop up. We have it in sports. So one thing is going to be the winner, one team's not. And sometimes in law you have that too. Sometimes there's compromise, but with the sense of like we have to be right and therefore we have to control it in order to be right and we either lose atrophies or we never develop it. And I think it's more about we never develop it when we're younger so we can have a vision for our future, we can have goals to those big hairy audacious goals. We can have all of that and we can have a plan, we can be prepared and we're going to go forward and execute our plan.

Michael O'Brien: 30:13 But we have to have enough agility to shift our perspectives to have the resilience that if we get knocked down, we can get back up again and moving again, but maybe moving in a different direction. The whole notion of control for me is I realized once I gave up control, I had more control. You know, think about for corporate leaders who are in this command and control type of approach, right? The old way of leading that is slowly but surely dying. I'm much more of a believer of a command and collaborate model. And so for me the difference between the two, so the command and control is like that'll like I'm in charge, there's hierarchy on the Alpha do as I say I'm in control and what happens is the people around you are not really all that engaged and they end up leaving the command and collaborate suggests that in some situations you do want to have command.

Michael O'Brien: 31:03 In some situations you are in more of a telling mode how we're going to do things. There's this pathway. The collaborate suggest though that we also have all plenty of room more room than we ever realized to co-create and to give up control and let other people voice their opinion. I just see other people, they bring a greater sense of belonging to ask questions for which we don't know the answer, to. Be Curious to have all those wonderful things where we get to create the solutions for today's problems. So having that agility between the two command and collaborate, I think it's really a great sweet spot for not only leaders in lawyers, but just people that live their lives ain't no way we're going to control everything. You know, we both have learned that through our experiences you got to give up control in order to have more of it.

Dina Cataldo: 31:53 Things that we talked about previously that I know that you'll be able to give our listeners in terms of adding that extra bit of perspective to their lives right now and being able to start to move into this area of awareness that we've been talking about already talked about taking that moment two, see a different perspective. Even if you are so far against it and you want to say, Oh heck no, I am not having nothing to do with that perspective. That's fine, but before you say words, maybe take a step back, take a breath, and actually recognize that person's perspective whether or not you agree with it. If there's anything you want it add to that, I definitely want to hear that.

Michael O'Brien: 32:38 Yeah, we have that today in today's society, right? We're serve all shouting at each other. We're talking about each other or we're not talking with each other. So there's real value in one. Just the whole concept of conversational intelligence, listening to connect and understand each other. And so where you have to be really present and just soak in what people are saying and maybe not saying through tone and body language to make that great connection and also have some acknowledgement like we played back what we heard. Because right now like I think people are shouting more because they don't feel like they're heard. So then we're get into this whole listening to reply thing or lives on social media at work. So being an active listener, having acknowledgement, validating that they have every right to a perspective, even though it could be completely foreign to our perspective is a good place to start.

Michael O'Brien: 33:30 And then start asking some really great questions. So that little acronym is called LAVA. So listen, acknowledge, validate, and then ask, but ask questions that are curious. Maybe you don't know the answer to that you want to explore. And another little acronym do you know that can give your listeners is grabbing a PBR. For me, I came up with this as a way to just have like a micro dose of mindfulness throughout the day. And for me, PBR stands for pause, breathe and reflect. So when we have these moments where we can feel the stress or building in our body, whether it's in our chest or throat or in our stomach, those butterflies, when you feel the stress, sure. At building up, we just hit the pause button and we just connect with their breath. No, just a simple inhale, count of four, exhale, count of six for a minute or two.

Michael O'Brien: 34:19 And that just gives us a chance to serve, renew and reset and the reflect piece, which can also be just relax to reflect pieces. Okay, what do I want to say next? What do I want to do next? What's my next action? And if we can slow down together, I think we can be more thoughtful with one another. We can build better connections in a lot of ways. If we slow down, we can probably go a bit faster because we're in such this reactive mode and we're on our phones and we're going from meeting to meeting to meeting. We're never really just breathing and thinking about, okay, what's the ripple that we want to put out there in the world? You know, what's the weather that we want to create? And I think if we spent just a little bit of time, not a whole bunch, but just a little bit more time than we're doing today, we can really change our environment, change our community.

Dina Cataldo: 35:09 I want to share something so that people who think like, “oh, Dina just must be so zen all the time.” Like if they don't know me, them to know that this is not easy and I had something come up just yesterday. I was in court and I'm in a court where I am negotiating cases. There's a million things going on. There's different thought processes that are going on with me, including like, what's the age of the case, do I need to get this case moved along or is this something can continue? Does it need to resolve at this early resolution stage or does it need to be set for trial so that we can just move it along its path? And just to give people some perspective, I have a judge, I have two interns that I'm training to my left, I have defense attorneys lined up behind me.

Dina Cataldo: 35:53 I've got defense attorneys waiting, there's people in the audience. And I've got about a hundred hundred and 50 cases in front of me that I need to evaluate and work through all within this morning period. And so I had a defense attorney who came up to me who is trying to continue a case that needs to be, I wanted to have set for trial quite some time ago, but I allowed some continuances and he was standing in for another attorney because she was ill and I could feel his energy and that you have this energy that's very intense. You know, like I can get this done, I gotta get this going and he holds on very tight and I absorbed some of that energy. Like I could feel it, you know? And so it's really easy to take on that vibe of the people around you.

Dina Cataldo: 36:39 And most people aren't doing this kind of work. I got to say, that's not where I'm working. You know, you know, you know that this is going to come up, like this is not easy work. So we kinda got into it and we were like head the head on it. I'm just like, no, I'm trying to get this as short, shorter, continuous as possible. He's huffing and puffing and I'm just like, what the hell just happened? So then he walks off and I have a moment to breathe. So I get up and I go over him and I say, Hey, is everything okay? And he's like, I'm fine, everything's fine. And I say, look, I know you're doing the best that you can right now. This was my perspective on what was going on. And I explained to him why I didn't want to continue without as far as he wanted to continue with too.

Dina Cataldo: 37:23 I understand you're doing the best you can. I get it. You know? And I may not have had that Zen vibe about when I said it, but I did the best that I could and I think it kind of smoothed out a little bit. You know that energy. But the important thing is is that we make an effort and we're not always going to be successful at this work. We're going to just do the best that we can and we'll get better about it over time. I don't want anyone to hear this and say, oh, I just suck at this. You know, like this is work.

Michael O'Brien: 37:50 That is such sound advice? Because it is work and we're human and we are going to feel emotions. I feel them all the time. You know when I talked to them, my clients and others is that it gets to this whole concept of I don't want five bad minutes to last any minute longer then it needs to and but so often we have five minutes. That situation that you just shared, it can ruin a whole day. It can ruin a whole weekend because we don't let it go. And as we work on this stuff, I think what people will find is that it's easier to shift. They can make the shift faster. So maybe in the beginning, five bad minutes ruins a half a day. It goes a little bit longer than five minutes, so maybe it ruins a day. Maybe it ruins a half day, but then over time, eh, just ruins may be an hour and then maybe it's like you get to a point where it's just five rough minutes and you go back to your work that you're able to recognize it sooner, shift out of it faster.

Michael O'Brien: 38:48 Certainly I have things that trigger me all the time. I was just sharing with a client yesterday a story about something that triggered me over the Memorial Day holiday and it's not necessarily like rough and gruff and temper, right? I was in my own head. And when you're in your own head, you're not able to connect with others, you're not able to do the work that you're designed to do. So I have them all the time over my period since my last bad day. I've been able to work on the inner work, if you will, so I can recognize those moments faster and that can shift out of them even more quickly than I did yesterday. And I think that's some of the discipline that we all need. But yeah, it's not easy. It's really human to have all of our emotions swirling around and neither you or me or anyone out there, not all zen like because we're all waking up and we're all trying to like figure out, you know, call it a journey, call it whatever, how to like go down this journey together on this wonderful planet of ours with a whole bunch of different perspectives.

Michael O'Brien: 39:48 So we are going to be naturally triggered by some things in our lives. Just, you know, the real question is how do you want to deal with it?

Dina Cataldo: 39:55 I want to talk to you about how draining calling ourselves busy is. Yes. Talk to us about that and maybe give some tips surrounding that to help our listeners.

Michael O'Brien: 40:06 Well, so how he says this morning before we got on, I was talking to a client and I was like, hey, how's the week? And she was like, Izzy. And I hear it a lot when I go into my company's too. There's this whole battle of busy going on. He goes back to, I don't want to be judged, right. There's a little bit of judgment thing going on with this. It's like everyone's busy and we're all trying to, one, we don't acknowledge each other's business. No, we'll go to a colleague, hey, how are you doing? I'm busy. Oh yeah, I'm so busy too. And now we're trying, no pun intended to trying to Trump our business. And the only person that really wins that is probably the CEO or president of the company. I much rather have people think about being active as opposed to dizzy and then active on the things that truly matter.

Dina Cataldo: 40:51 But that doesn't sound important enough if I, no, it doesn't right now.

Michael O'Brien: 40:55 It does. Yeah. So yeah, and that's the whole thing. Like I could be doing important work. So a big thing I love having people do is, is reframing their days and using their morning rituals to do that. You know, smart phones are basically everything for us now. We use, um, you know, obviously to communicate and to do social, but they're also our alarm clocks. We wake up to our phones and they're right by her bed and it's so tempting. Two, hit the alarm and then check email or check social in. That automatically frames our day in terms of what we missed and what we need to do. And it gets into Fomo and just we're on hamster wheel before we even really get out of bed. So I'm not trying to have people, if they have to wake up with their phone, I would say go off and buy an alarm clock.

Michael O'Brien: 41:42 It might be better for you and have your phone in another room. But I know that's not reality for most people. So if you're going to wake up with your phone, just wake up with your phone, develop a habit where you know you get a nice glass of water, you hydrate first thing in the morning, you might want to move your mind a bit, do a little meditation, do a little mindfulness to sort of get your mind awake, maybe move your body for a little bit to sort of stimulate that mind, body connection and then think through what are the main priorities I have for the day. What do I want to get busy on? So if we don't want to wordsmith it and go from busy to active and we just want to stay busy, let's be busy by design, like busy on the things that truly matter because so often busiest, like frenetic, like we're doing all these different things, we're not going to anything done or we're scrambling and we don't feel any sense of accomplishment.

Michael O'Brien: 42:34 And the thing is when we get things done, it helps us change our self narrative. We develop greater confidence. We believe that we can do bigger things tomorrow than we did today. So I love when my clients just started spend five minutes really deciding, okay, what are the five, three to five big priorities, the big rocks I want to move in course of the day. Those are my priorities. Then I put a disproportional amount of energy, two or resources or time or what have you. Certainly they're going to do more than that, but we're going to put more focus on those things so we can be busy but busy on the things that truly matter.

Dina Cataldo: 43:10 Right. The one part in your book where you're talking about after your accident and you mentioned you know, visualization, like just kind of like recognizing what needs to be done today, the most important things that need to be done today. So you're acting out of alignment. And you mentioned that when you were laid up in the hospital, you imagined yourself getting back up on the bike, you envisioned yourself back at work. So what role does visualization have in your life? I know some people hear the word visualization and they think woo woo.

Michael O'Brien: 43:40 Yeah, this is the Hippie dippie part of our episode. Right? So when they think visualization, I think they automatically go to that book that was quite popular called the Secret years ago. Yeah. Manifesting stuff. So for me, visualization, you know, to make anything happen, you need to put in the hard work. So certainly like work ethic is still an important part of who I am and it's also an important part of who my clients are. But I want to be able to see what I'm shooting for. So one of my favorite, favorite athletes is Lindsey bond. So he's now retired, but she is so cool and such an accomplished champion. But when you would watch Lindsey before her Olympic runs or her world cup runs, it should be up on top of the mountain with her eyes closed, really skiing the run and would stay the run multiple times before she actually did the run.

Michael O'Brien: 44:35 And what she was doing as she was getting prepared, she was skiing the course. She knew every turn, every twist, every bump, every dip, and in some ways weighing down a memory for her brain because she wanted her mind memory, her muscle memory to be there. And so the brain's pretty fascinating. It doesn't necessarily know if you're doing it or not doing it, and so she would spend a whole bunch of time visualizing her success on the mountain and I took that same type of approach and it's not just sitting there wishing that something's going to happen. I believe in, you know, if you're going to be something, you've got to be able to see it in yourself and I would spend that time in the morning to serve framing my day and visualizing how I want it to show up. Yes, visualizing myself back to work back on the bike and then putting the right action behind that.

Michael O'Brien: 45:25 Going back to busy, being busy on the things that truly matter to help me reach that vision. So visualization I think is so key. You can use some word smithing there that's just visualization, but ultimately, whether you call it manifestation, call it the secret colic visualization, you need to put in that effort as well. So you just can't sit in your bedroom and just wished it. It's going to happen or create a vision board and think it's going to happen. You've got to put a little sweat equity in it if you're going to make it happen.

Dina Cataldo: 45:52 Yeah. There was a lot of critique around that because it wasn't mentioned in that book. They didn't talk about the action component, which everybody listening here is really great at the action. Like let's face it, like we're great at getting stuff done. Yeah. But to get so mindful about it that you're thinking through how you want your day to go, how you want to feel. Hmm. Focusing on those actions that are in alignment with the results that you want to get. That's where we need more help. So that's exactly what visualization gives us. It gives us focus.

Michael O'Brien: 46:25 It gives us focus and it gets us off the hamster wheel. That's the thing that so many people today are on. They wake up, they grab their phone and their email, they're rushin', they got their coffee, they're doing emails or on a teleconference, they're going, going, going, going on the hamster wheel all day long. And when the day is over, they've spent all their energy at work and now they're bringing the leftovers home to the people that you care about most. You know, their family at home, their friends that they want to go out with. They're just exhausted, they're drained, and then they hit it again before bedtime. Like I get more emails done. Yes, things are active, things are busy in today's world and I'm not suggesting that we should all just like chill out and be lazy. We are going to have purpose driven work.

Dina Cataldo: 47:10 Yeah.

Michael O'Brien: 47:11 Yeah. I think like recovery I think is a big part of this, right? I think stress disorder has a bad PR agency. Stress in the right amounts is good. It gets us going. It gets us moving. We go to spin class, we go to soul cycle or you know, we could buy a Peloton bike, which is different than my company. We do all these exercise classes to create stress. That's how our body gets stronger, so stress in the right amounts. It's really good. I think one of the big things that we run into today is our lack of recovery. Like we're on this like high pace all the time without any recovery and if we stay on that pace for too long, that's when we hit just engaged with our work. We get sick relationships break up. No, just a different version of like pouring the stress inside. So we need recovery, we need effort. Well, we also need to have some awareness and some thoughtfulness about how we want to live our day. How do we want to show up at work outside of just being on the hamster wheel.

Dina Cataldo: 48:09 Oh, last thing that I want to really talk to you about is one of my favorite topics, which are words and specifically the conversations that we're having with ourselves, the words that we use with ourselves. Can you talk a little bit to that point?

Michael O'Brien: 48:24 Yeah, so I think that's the biggest, the thing that gets in all of our ways. No. Someone asked me yesterday, what are your clients dealing with? And I work with executives and also work with their direct reports and the direct reports and their direct reports and you and I are also in different communities, whether it's online or just professionally and the common link that we all struggle with is that voice in our head. It's the one thing that we don't want to talk about. There's no corporate workshop about, Hey, I just want to raise my hand and I got this like imposter syndrome going on. I get this little inner critic or Gremlin or I think Seth Godin calls it the lizard brain. We have all these different, yeah, names for it. The monkey in our mind, it's so common we all have it but we don't want to talk about it and is the thing that is the common link between a CEO to a lawyer to a junior employee too.

Michael O'Brien: 49:13 The person on the street is that we get into the storytelling and the stories that we tell ourselves that we're not enough. It gets into shame. It gets into worry about things in the past or regret. It gets into like anxiety or fear about the future. And in High Jackson, the brainstorm story designed this way to start keep us alive. So some of our storytelling is a protective tactic. Say, Hey, you know, don't go out there. Don't put yourself out there. Let the resistance is Steven Pressfield writes about in the war of art, let that win. So it's all designed as like to hold us back as a way to feel safe. But the professionals and the people out there, they're doing amazing work that they're changing more lives will dance with the resistance. Well, play with that emotional labor and realize that that's just a story and that, that we have value, that we can be present and we can get past that resistance.

Michael O'Brien: 50:08 You know, sort of like, as you know, Brene Brown would share is vulnerable, right? If vulnerable moment to realize that, you know, we have that little critic in her head and the courage to move beyond it and we all need a little bit of that. And that's why having a strong community so important that when we don't see it in ourselves that hopefully we surround with people who see it in us and they can help remind us that we have a lot of power and agency within us in those moments where we might forget that we actually do have that power within us.

Dina Cataldo: 50:41 I think that's why coaching is so important and I think it's so valuable. It's underutilized in our world really, because I think every person should have a coach to see those voices that are going on in our brain. I can talk about this forever. This was a really great combo.

Michael O'Brien: 50:58 I know the next time I come out to California we'll get together. Yes. Yeah. We could spend a whole day on this.

Dina Cataldo: 51:05 Yeah. These are just all the topics that I wish somebody had touched on before. Day One, you know of high school, you know like, hey, this stuff exists. It's real. Okay. Michael, can you tell everybody where they can learn more about you? And you know, of course I'm going to link to everything in the show notes and you know, whatever you want to say. It's closing notes right now.

Michael O'Brien: 51:29 So the best way to find me is to go to MichaelO'Brienshift.com. That's my website there they can check out my memoir where all the proceeds go to charity. They go to world bicycle relief, they help girls conquer the challenge. It just is by giving them mobility. And I give to that cause because I lost my mobility for a spell during my recovery and I want the book to power others. So the really cool thing is people read the book, they get some wisdom, maybe some inspiration, but they're changing someone's life halfway around the world because every book that we sell helps build a bicycle, which is really cool. Uh, so they can learn about shift there. They can also sign up for my blog and take a little quiz. I have a round our money language, right? We know about love languages, but what's our wealth language? And they can also pull down or a free resource. I'm building their community or building their Peloton is, I like to say like the people in their lives. It can help them both professionally and personally. But that's MichaelO'BrienShift our comments probably the best way. Then there's all that like Linkedin, Facebook, Instagram type of stuff too,

Dina Cataldo: 52:35 all that kind of stuff. Okay. I'll be sure to put that in there too.

Michael O'Brien: 52:38 It was so great to be on and I hope that your listeners got a few pearls from our conversation and I would just let them know to keep peddaling and connect with their breath and don't let five tough minutes turn into a bad day.

Dina Cataldo: 52:52 You know, it'd be really cool his listeners who got something from this. If they could tag me at Dina. Dot. Cataldo on Instagram. And do you know your Instagram handle?

Michael O'Brien: 53:02 Yup. It's Michael O'brian shifts.

Dina Cataldo: 53:04 Okay. So if you could put that in there, if you could tag us on Instagram and just take a picture of you listening to the podcast, that would be fabulous.

Michael O'Brien: 53:12 Yeah, that'd be really cool. So thanks for having me on.

Dina Cataldo: 53:15 Thank you so much and I hope to talk to you soon.

Michael O'Brien: 53:18 Yes. Next time I come out to California, we're going to hook up. I love having that conversation with Michael and I. You did too.

Dina Cataldo: 53:26 If you'd like to learn more about his story, you can go to dinacataldo.com/56 to purchase his book shift. I especially appreciated the addition of his wife's perspective when he was going through his rehabilitation. The people in our lives are greatly impacted by what happens to us and it's great to have that addition added a little bit more realness and depth, I think, to the entire book. So next week we're shifting gears, see what I did there, and talking to an artist who actually discovered her true identity within artistic technique that she's going to share with us. It's something we can do even if we're not artistically inclined. I promise you I haven't had an artist on the show yet, so I'm excited to share with you her perspective on identity and how we can become more in tune with our intuition by using art. Okay. And we'll talk to you next week. I hope you have a fabulous day. Bye.

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